Joshua Harris, C.J. Mahaney’s successor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has risen almost as fast in reformed circles as his mentor.  Josh has learned how to play the SGM game well as he follows in C.J.’s footsteps.  The first endorsement in Mahaney’s masterpiece Living the Cross Centered Life is written by Josh.

“Every Timothy needs a Paul.  C.J. is mine…and this book contains his life-message.  It is my handbook for pursuing a cross centered life.  Read it yourself and let God realign your life.”

                                               Joshua Harris, Pastor and Bestselling Author

How did Josh and “his Paul” first establish their relationship?  Here’s an interesting excerpt from Homeschool World written by Josh and published in 1997.  (http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs15-joshuaharris.html)              

Joshua Harris writes:

“I can hardly believe it – I’m leaving home. Three months from now I’ll be packing up my little Civic Wagon and saying goodbye to my parents and five younger siblings. I don’t think the weight of it has really hit me yet. I’m used to going away on short trips. “See you next week!” This is different. I’m going away forever (at least as far into forever as I can see) to start a new life on the other side of the country.

The move is bittersweet. I know it’s God’s will and my parents fully support it, but it’s still hard. I get teary-eyed over funny things – my little brother barging into my room each morning, coming home from work and seeing my mom framed in the window, chatting on the phone with a friend. The scenes seem to play in slow motion, reminding me that I’m leaving them behind.”

Josh, who hails from Oregon and was always homeschooled, explains that he is moving to the East Coast where God is leading him in a new direction.   Here is Josh’s explanation regarding his move (from the above link).

“My parents both grew up in homes where the television was constantly on. It was on during dinner, it was the background noise throughout the day. When my folks got married they decided they would raise their kids in a TV-free home. The move I mentioned earlier is to Gaithersburg, Maryland. For the past year God has been leading me in a new direction. He’s been drawing my heart to the local church. So I’m laying down my pursuit of magazine publishing to learn how my gifts can be used in the context of a local body of believers. The pastors at Covenant Life Church will be discipling and training me. It’s sort of an “apprenticeship” in ministry. The tough part in all this is that Covenant Life is several thousand miles away from my current home in Gresham, Oregon.

 I could not have pursued this venture without my parent’s willingness to see God’s will done. Our family’s comfort is not their primary concern. I’m their son, but first I’m God’s servant. That example has been an inspiration. The humility my mom and dad have shown in allowing me to pursue this new direction is equally inspiring. I listened while my father told the pastor I’ll be serving under that there are some things he can’t teach me. “I believe you can instruct Josh in ways he wouldn’t get if he stayed here.”

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for raising me in the fear and admonition of the Lord; for modeling by example what it means to serve Him. And finally, for being my cheering section as I set out on this adventure of life.”

Josh Harris’ final destination after driving cross country in his little Civic Wagon was the home of C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney.  You see, he moved in with them for about a year after arriving in Maryland so that C.J. could “mentor” him.  It was during this time that Josh’s highly touted book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was published and heavily promoted, especially in the homeschooling community.  I was homeschooling my young daughters when this book came out in 1997, and I remember how it was pushed at the annual homeschoolng conference.  Fortunately, my daughters were too young for me to worry about their dating, and I never purchased the book.  Although I understand Josh’s good intentions in writing his first book, it has caused some definite problems, as the following Wikipedia article explains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Kissed_Dating_Goodbye).

This Wiki article includes the following excerpt:

“Harris’ solutions to the problems he sees have generated a bit of controversy in the Christian community.  In an interview with Family Christian Stores, Joshua Harris indicated that “people have taken the message of ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’ and made it something legalistic — a set of rules. That’s something that’s beyond my control and it’s disappointing at times… .”

On November 20, 2005 Harris gave a message to the church at which he is Senior Pastor, entitled “Courtship, Schmourtship: What Really Matters in Relationships.” In this message Harris acknowledged problems with how the singles related in his church. Harris indicated that there was a “lack of freeness between men and women in cultivating friendships.” He also used the words “standoffish” and “tightness.” In the message, Harris also indicated that it was “OK” for single men and women to go out for coffee by themselves, apparently correcting misconceptions some singles had in his church. These problems have been addressed on Harris’s web page, including the page entitled “Clarification on Dating and Courtship.”

Aren’t you so relieved that Josh gave the “OK” for single men and women to go out for coffee by themselves — an apparent misconception some singles had in his church (you know, the one founded by C.J. Mahaney).

When I was homeschooling, I remember hearing about one of the movement’s leaders – Gregg Harris (Josh’s father).  Now you know why Josh’s book was so heavily promoted.  His dad saw to it that his son was recognized coast to coast in the homeschooling world.  Folks, that’s really a no-brainer!

Here’s how Gregg describes himself on his own blog (http://www.blogger.com/profile/13475887217776089609):

“Gregg Harris is a Christian husband and father who serves as evangelist and local church-planting pastor. He is the father of Joshua Harris, best selling author and pastor, and Alex & Brett Harris, best-selling co-authors of Do Hard Things and co-hosts of www.therebelution.com. He is also the instructor for the Raising Kids to Do Hard Things seminar. Gregg currently serves as a church planter for Gresham Household of Faith in Gresham, OR (see www.ghofcc.org) and as the Director of Noble Institute (see www.nobleinstitute.org.) Gregg is internationally known as a pioneer advocate in the Christian home-schooling movement and author a best selling book, The Christian Home School. He resides with his wife Sono and their five youngest children in Gresham, Oregon. He is the husband of Sono Sato Harris, and the father of seven children, among whom are, Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joel Harris, Director of the Northwest Academy of Worship Music, Alex & Brett Harris, founders & co-hosts of TheRebelution.com web site, and three others still in their younger years.”

What a humble bio!  Obviously, the Harrises never do anything mediocre — everything they write is a “best seller”.

In case you’d like to check out Gregg Harris’ church, here’s the link:  http://www.hofcc.org/

This web site provides a brief overview of his church.  See below.

“HOFCC was planted initially in August of 1998 in the home of Gregg Harris, an internationally recognized author and advocate of Christian home schooling and family restoration.

The new local church has been an attempt to institute several reforms of structure and doctrinal emphasis. From the very beginning, HOFCC has been age-integrated as a matter of principle. We choose to equip parents to train and include their own children in our church services rather than relieve them of their responsibilities by means of  age-segregated youth programs.  We do not offer a Sunday School, Youth Group or Children’s Church service. Instead, we maintain a family inclusive and family uniting culture that draws everyone of all ages into worship, Bible study and partnership in advancing the Gospel together. If we hope to see families serving God together as a team, they must be equipped together as a team. That is what a Christian family household is— a team of believers living and serving God together.”

HOFCC also claims to be “reformed in doctrine”,charismatic in ministry”, and “evangelical in missions”.  Sound familiar?

I recently heard Josh’s twin brothers, Alex and Brett Harris, on a Focus on the Family broadcast.  If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Alex and Brett are going around the country promoting their own book and movement called the Rebelution.  Last summer they even put on a Rebelution conference in Louisville, Kentucky with Al Mohler’s wholehearted endorsement. 

The Harris twins complain about how teenagers are turning out today.  They have been guests on national news programs, among other media outlets, and to hear them talk you’d think that all teenagers are lazy, irresponsible, and absolutely clueless about life.  Obviously, no one in the Harris family has ever been rebellious or irresponsible (sarcasm intended — keep reading).   I’m so glad these teens FINALLY came along with all the answers at such a tender young age (more sarcasm) so they can rescue all the wayward kids out there and teach them how to “Do Hard Things”.  Of course, they’ve got to buy the book and attend the conference.  If you’d like to read about their “Rebelution”, check out this link:   


Want to know the crowd with whom Alex and Brett associate?  Check out their “crème de la crème” links on their web site: http://www.therebelution.com/

The Rebelution Links

  • Albert Mohler’s Blog
  • Between Two Worlds
  • The Blazing Center
  • Boundless Line
  • Challies Dot Com 
  • Desiring God Blog (John Piper)
  • Eternal Perspectives
  • Together For the Gospel (the Fab Four)
  • Worship Matters
  • Girl Talk (Carolyn Mahaney and daughters)
  • Solo Feminity (Carolyn McCulley)

And, of course, those endoring the Harris twins and their “Rebelution”  are listed above.   

What I found absolutely fascinating about this Focus on the Family interview with the Harris twins was their description of their father’s youth.  Gregg was born in Ohio with severe health issues, but somehow he managed survive.  His health issues got him teased in school.  This was a young man who had so much against him.  Gregg’s mom was a Christian; however, his dad was not. 

At the age of fifteen, Gregg ran away from home and ended up as a long-haired hippie in Laguna Beach, California, making money playing his guitar for couples on the beach.  He even hitchhiked across the country several times.  Gregg met Jesus on the beach in California when two guys walked up to him and shared the gospel during the Jesus Movement.  Gregg became a Christian, went back home to Dayton, Ohio and met his future wife, Sono. Sono, grew up in a non-Christian family but eventually led her family to Jesus Christ.  Gregg was a semester away from graduating from college, but he felt called to go in a different direction.  Josh never earned a college degree, but I believe his brothers stated they are currently in college.

There seems to be a problem here…  We have Gregg Harris who ran away from home at fifteen and became a hippie and C.J. Mahaney who has confessed publicly that he was a drug addict.  Looks like we have two hippies whose lives were in complete shambles during their formative years.  As a result of their poor choices, they now believe they MUST “micromanage” their own lives as well as the lives of others. 

I find it extremely difficult to relate to this out of control behavior exhibited by Gregg Harris and C.J. Mahaney because I never ever did drugs, nor did I ever rebel against authority by running away from home.  One of the reasons I kept my life in balance during my teen years and beyond is because I was involved in a horrific accident when I was a month away from turning thirteen.  It was my first time ever away from home without my parents. A friend invited me to travel to Myrtle Beach with her and her parents for the weekend, but we never made it… 

Our GMC pick-up was struck HEAD ON by a car driven by a drunk driver.  Both vehicles were traveling around 60 mph.  My friend’s parents were thrown through the windshield and killed instantly, and my friend and I were pinned inside the truck.  It took about two and a half hours for the rescue workers to cut us out of the mangled wreckage. Fortunately, I was unconscious the entire time. 

My friend’s injuries were so severe that she was hospitalized for months and months.  I suffered a serious skull fracture, broken bones in my left foot, a broken pinky (at the joint), deep gashes in my forehead, both above and between my eyes, and scalded patches of skin caused by the exploding radiator.  By the grace of God, I was hospitalized for just six days. 

After almost thirty-seven years, it’s still difficult for me to process the thought that one minute I was having a wonderful conversation with my friend and her parents and in a split second her mom and dad were gone!  Can you imagine growing up through your teen years, as my friend did, without your parents?  

One of the psychological struggles I faced during my recovery was having to wear a wig to school for the first semester of eighth grade.  Because  the surgeons had  to lift my skull off my brain, the front half of my head had to be shaved.  Back during the 1970s, shaved heads were NOT “in vogue”.  The Hippie movement (which began in the 1960s — thank God I was too young to be influence by those weirdos!), continued on during the 1970s. Bald heads were out, and long hair was in!       

I’ll never forget the time in P.E. when we were playing basketball, and I was going up for a rebound.  My wig was about to fly off, and I had to decide whether I was going to grab the ball or the wig…  Of course, I grabbed the wig!  

The deep cuts around my eyes and in the middle of my forehead, along with the surgical incision that starts in the middle of my forehead and extends several inches into my hair, required around 50 stitches (seemed like more!).  These ugly black stitches didn’t dissolve — each one had to be cut and then pulled out.  When I feel my skull where the fracture was, it still gives me the creeps because it’s indented about one-fourth of an inch! 

I was so self-conscious about my scars, but they reminded me of God’s faithfulness in sparing my life.  I had three separate plastic surgery operations, with the last one occurring when I was a student at Duke.  I went to see a world renowned plastic surgeon at Duke Medical Center, and he did an incredible job!  While I still have scars, at least they are less noticeable, especially when they are covered with bangs.

As you can probably imagine, this traumatic life experience during my adolescence was quite a blow to my self-esteem during my formative years; however, it taught me an invaluable lesson about always having self-control.  I learned at a young age that substance abuse, whether it be drugs or alcohol, is definitely a matter of life and death.  As a young Christian girl (who accepted Jesus Christ at the age of eight), I learned to depend solely on Him because He gave me a second chance at life, and I’m forever grateful!   

I don’t need people like Gregg and C.J. dictating to me how to live the Christian life; I don’t need Josh telling my daughters how to “kiss dating goodbye”; and I certainly don’t need Alex and Brett instructing my extremely responsible daughters on how to find purpose in their lives.

Remember… said instruction comes at a price from these opportunists, specifically through book sales and conferences.   

Well, I hope this information has given you some insight into the background of Joshua Harris.  His lastest book – Dug Down Deep – inspired the title of this post.  Once again, the reformed crowd is touting Josh’s latest and greatest work as a MUST READ.  Where will it end?  It’s amazing how much free advertising Josh is getting from his Calvinista buddies.  You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, and we’ll all make LOTS OF MONEY!  Just Google Dug Down Deep, and  you’ll see what I mean.  I may write more on Josh Harris and his newly released book later.  In the meantime, check out his promotional video for this book.




  1. I have a blog where I critique Josh Harris’s IKDG book.

    “I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness?”

    Unfortunately Josh Harris is quick to point out the problems that he sees with dating but is quite silent on the problems that his approach has caused including problems he admitted exist at his own church. Despite what your above Wiki quote said, Josh Harris to my knowledge has still not shared widely including on his blog the problems that existed in his own church with singles that he shared in one message.

    I am glad that you are pointing out Josh Harris’s background.

  2. Thanks for this post. I appreciate homeschooling so much as a legal option for people. In some areas, it may be the only way for a child to get a decent education. So, I am pro-homeschooling. And I hope the trend continues. We don’t homeschool, but I really encourage the idea for many.

    BUT – I have noted some really disturbting problems that can surface in homeschooling. I will address one.

    Homeschoolers seem to be very susceptible to fads and trends that run through the Christian sub-culture. I think that homeschooling should be about getting the best EDUCATION for your child, period.

    But more often than not, homeschool families seem to be captured by lots of ideas, child-rearing concepts etc. that are not necessarily education related. And these fads and trends often become as important in their minds as the Gospel.

    Your post identified one that I had not been aware of until recently.

    Our church just hired its first full time youth pastor. I really nice and sincere person. He gave his first talk to the parents about a month into his tenure. He talked about the cirriculum and where he wanted to take the group from a spiritual perspective.

    He got to relationships, and when it came to dating he jokingly said, “That’s simple. I tell them, just don’t do it.” He clarified that statement, but it became clear that he really favored that position.

    Well, when it came to the Q & A time, several homeschool parents raised their hands and encouraged him about the dating stand. They even mentioned Josh Harris and this book “I kissed dating goodbye” and suggested that it become part of the youth group cirriculum. I had not heard of this book before.

    I then raised my hand. I am an elder at our church and interviewed this guy when we brought him on. We went over our strategy for the youth group – how we wanted it to reach out to kids from the public and private schools around our area. He is genuinely excited about that.

    At the meeting, I spoke up and encouraged him to keep our youth ministry “Jesus” centered and not “rules” centered. And I stated that if we want to have any kind of an impact on the non-Christian teenagers and be an inviting place for them to come, then it is disastrous to start having rules like you can’t date. I suggested that each family probably had different feelings about that, and that our church should honor each family’s decision, but that we should not be laying down rules for the entire group, or even implying that one practice is best.

    He acknowledged that and agreed. Afterwards, several people came up and thanked me for what I said. None of the homeschool families did. Even a young married couple who works with our youth said thanks to me. They started dating as teenagers and ended up marrying.

    I appreciate reformed theology in many ways. I am not a 5 point Calvinist, but I think that many Baptists would benefit to go back and learn that they came out of Calvinistic roots. That would help them have more confidence in the sovereinty of God, and would keep them from some of the goofy thoughts and evangelistic side shows that can occur. (btw, I do like evangelism and evangelists. Just not goofiness).

    But I see a real danger in the Reformed crowd pushing the Church into a ghetto where we have little meaningful contact with the unbelieving world. This happened a generation ago with the independent fundamentalist movement. And that has not turned out well. I fear the same thing will happen if the Reformed movement embraces practices that turn churches into ghettos and Christians into people who don’t operate or work in the real world.

    In our youth group’s case, we can have a youth group that is focused only on our kids, in our church. It’s insular. It doesn’t reach out. It is culturally and socially immature etc.

    Or we can have youth group that looks out. Where the kids in the group actually have non-Christian friends that they can witness to etc. Those are 2 different visions. Officially, our church has opted for the later, but some of the homeschoolers don’t like that, and constantly seek to influence the cirriculum, direction and practices of the group so that it is a “safe” place for their kids.

    I don’t mind people like Josh Harris sharing what they have learned. But we will be better off as a people if we have more diversity on things such as dating and other social practices. We will actually be salt and light in the world. And not salt and light only in our ghetto.

  3. I’m so glad you commented, Steve240! I have read your article I Kissed Dating Goodbye: Wisdom or Foolishness, and I highly recommend it to our readers.

    When I began investigating SGM about a year and a half ago, your blog was an invaluable resource for me. I also enjoy your comments over at Survivors.


  4. Awesome post!!!!

    See what you think as we develop an underlying issue to this.

    I now attend a church that has an incredible ministry to professors in two very well universities in the area. One class has two atheist professors, one deist, and a liberal Jewish retired professor attending. They are curious and are treated with respect and warmth. My former church would not have attracted such intelligent nonbelievers because they enforced, adamantly, such beliefs as young earth creationism.

    As Christians, we must learn to major on the majors. When we do so, we actually attract intelligent seekers who feel safe to share their beliefs.

    I am so grateful that I am in back in church that knows the difference.

  5. Wow, Anonymous, you have hit on some very important issues we need to discuss here at TWW. I homeschooled for four years when my daughters were in elementary school. They began attending a Christian school in the fall of 1999, and as I look back, that’s about the time that some of these “agendas” began to take place within the homeschooling community. Ever heard of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum? He and his cohorts are EXTREMELY dangerous in my ever to be humble opinion. Based on my extensive research, they have a dominionist agenda.

    Although I’m still supportive of homeschooling families who stress the academics as much as the character training, I have a problem with those who are manipulating this rather isolated segment of the population to their own advantage. The Harris family comes at the top of my list, along with Doug Phillips. They have developed a “cottage industry”, and they are profiting off the backs of unsuspecting homeschoolers.

    I could go on and on about this, so I’d better stop now before I write another blog post in the comment section.

  6. I do not know of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. I am really not around those circles. I only heard of Harris because of that book being mentioned in the discussion that night.

    But I am sure that I will hear something of what that guy is saying as it trickles up in the church.

    One term I have heard used recently that made my ears perk up was “Covenant Children.” It sounded like one of those terms that would be made up to represent some fairly good concenpts but could be twisted and contorted. Do you know about that?

    Where are you in NC? I have a friend from high school who has been on staff at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte for over 20 years.

    Take care.

  7. I have never heard of “Covenant Children”, but now I will be looking into it.

    Doug Phillips has mentioned the Harris twins on his own blog, as follows:

    “The Rebelution Covers the SAICFF
    Congratulations to Brett and Alex Harris for bringing live blogging to an exceptional level of professionalism. The Harris twins have provided a much needed service that is benefiting tens of thousands. If you were unable to attend the Christian Filmmakers Academy take time to see their reporting and view their clips. Live blogging is curently being presented by Alex and Brett Harris for the SAICFF at http://www.therebelution.com..”

    Posted by Doug Phillips on October 20, 2006


    Doug Phillips and the Harris family obviously know each other. Here’s a comment I found at the following link:


    “I recently heard Josh Harris speak about the advice his friend Doug Phillips has given him concerning whether to attend college or not.”

    By the way, I live in the Triangle.

  8. FYI,

    I have added two addendums to the “The Mahaney Money Machine” post, which you may want to read.

    Unfortunately, I missed some important information when I first researched contributions to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. For example, I just discovered a week ago that not only has C.J. Mahaney given over $100,000 to SBTS since 2002, but Sovereign Grace Ministries has also given over $100,000 to SBTS since it came into existence in 2003. (Remember, Mahaney is famous fo reinventing his ministry, thus the name change from PDI).

    The financial information I have been able to obtain goes through the year 2007. That means SGM’s “average” yearly contribution to SBTS during the five years it have given (2003 through 2007) is $20,000. Hmmm…

  9. “Covenant children” is originally a term associated with covenant theology, as held in Presbyterian and Reformed circles (by “Reformed” I’m referring to those who embrace all of Reformed theology, as defined in the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity). As Richard Phillips explains it, “children are members of God’s covenant and are holy, that is, are saints, by virtue of their parents (1 Cor. 7:14) […] Rightly, it means that children are part of the community of God’s people and have been given God’s Word. In their baptism they have God’s mark of ownership placed upon them and are called to faith. The prayers of the church belong to them and they have the privilege of oversight from the church’s shepherds.” (http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086_CHID560462_CIID1787572,00.html)

    When a child (one who is too young to make a profession of faith) receives the sign of the covenant in baptism, he or she is considered a covenant child, a member of the covenant community. While he or she will is not considered a believer until making a profession of faith, there is the recognition that he or she is in a special position as a child of believers.

    IMO this changes how children are viewed. In my last couple churches, one a Reformed Baptist, and one a Calvinist Baptist type heavily into the nouthetic movement (I think “Calvinista” is the term that’s been used on this blog), children were viewed as little heathens outside the church and were treated accordingly, a belief and practice made all the worse by strict adherence to a belief in total depravity. Covenant theology serves as a sort of counterbalance to total depravity. I don’t think it’s coincidence that many – not all, but many, if not most – of the “Calvinista” crowd are NOT covenantal in theology. This article explains it better than I can: http://www.drslewis.org/camille/2009/07/things-that-i-never-heard-in-fundamentalism-children-10/

    However, I get the sense that, along with terms like “Reformed,” “covenant,” along with all its derivatives (e.g., “covenant children”) has been co-opted by other groups to mean something very different from what it originally meant. To quote Richard Phillips again, “There is a fine line between the use and the overuse of a word […] In my view, the word covenant has crossed that line in Christian circles. As such, one often hears it applied in dubious ways […] Today, if you want to express a zeal to be distinctively Christian, and especially if you are Reformed-leaning, you are very likely to apply the word covenant to your activity or group or product. In the process, the word has begun to lose definition and take on little more than a vague nimbus.

    “I believe, however, that we are faced today with more than the over-exposure of the word and idea of covenant. Perhaps aided by its ill-defined usage, new definitions are being given to covenant and with the new definitions comes a new theology. There is an increasing confusion over what covenants are and how covenants shape our relationship with God. I believe the result is the propagation of a new and different gospel from the one taught in the great Reformed confessions and in the Bible.”

    Sorry for the long-winded and somewhat off topic answer, but I hope it helps!

  10. Thanks Amanda! All of this “covenant” lingo is new to me. Your comment has been extremely helpful.

  11. A few more notes:

    Quoting from the PCA Book of Church Order (available at http://www.pcaac.org/2009%20Reprint%20for%20web%20rev%208-24-09.pdf): “The children of believers are, through the covenant and by right of birth, non-communing members of the church. Hence they are entitled to Baptism, and to the pastoral oversight, instruction and government of the church, with a view to their embracing Christ and thus possessing personally all benefits of the covenant.” (6-1)

    “All baptized persons are entitled to the watchful care, instruction and government of the church, even though they are adults and have made no profession of their faith in Christ.” (6-3)

    In my church, when a child is baptized the entire church vows to help the parents raise him or her in the Lord. It’s actually quite similar to a baby dedication, but more communal in nature, if that makes sense.

  12. BTW Anonymous, Your church would be considered heretics for having a youth program. Didn’t you know it is now:Family Integrated Church?

    SBTS tried to change all their education programs to this model but so many balked they could not do it openly. it was supposed to be Randy Stinson’s big crusade at SBTS. But it falied to go over…esp in the doctoral programs. the younger heads full of mush are rallying to it.

  13. Lydia,

    Excellent comment! I knew Doug Phillips and Scott Brown were the driving force behing FIC, but I didn’t realize Gregg Harris’ church was structured that way until now…


    If you and others don’t know what Lydia is talking about, you need to read a post written by Wade Burleson entitled: “Patriarchy and the Family Integrated Church Emphasis in SBC Seminaries: A Potential Embarrassment for the SBC” at this link:


    We wrote extensively about FIC last year, and we will be transferring our archives to the new blog format soon!

  14. Deb

    Thanks for the compliment on my blog and posts on the refuge blog.

    One thing I don’t think you mentioned about Josh Harris’s father that has been reported on the SGM Survivors blog is how allegedly divisive he was in the homeschooling movement. My recollection of the posts indicated that Greg Harris forced out of the homeschooling movement the non Christian people.

  15. Thanks for explanation of “Covenant Children.”

    I believe that Baptists have a great contribution to make toward the sanity of persons in this whole area.

    “Baptized” infants are no more special than non-Baptized.

    Parents can dedicate their children and promise to raise them as best as they can to hear of Jesus and follow him. But to infer that something happens to the child at a religious ceremony is damaging to the child, the parents and children who do not undergo the ceremony.

    I believe in total depravity, but that doesn’t mean I think strangely about infants. I teach the Gospel to all of them and pray that they all will believe.

    The reformation created a halfway house on this issue that is not helpful.

    We faced FIC straight on and told the congregation that we were not looking to an FIC model. But neither were we looking for a youth ministry that was practically separated from the church and in which parents had no place or roll. There is a balance.

    We also reject the idea that the youth ministry is about simply raising the children who are already members and keeping them safe.

    Southern is interesting. I heard about the FIC thing. But I also know that they invited Barry St. Clair, a guy who has been in youth ministry for 40 years (and is still effective) to speak there. Barry does not believe in FIC.

  16. Eh, apparently I went a little overboard in my attempt to explain the idea of covenant children from a covenantal point of view (it wouldn’t be the first time!). I actually do believe that not all, many even most, Baptists and others who hold to Baptistic belief and practice don’t hold that view of children, and I’m glad to hear that you are among them. However, based on my experience in my last two churches (both of them Baptist and heavily Calvinistic), and based on other various things I have read and heard by authors, pastors, and professors across the movement, a heavy emphasis on the total depravity can (not always) work its way out in how children are taught and disciplined (for example, spanking children under the age of one for “acting up,” disciplining their kids for “sinfully” reacting by crying or complaining when they have an ear infection, dealing with the “sinful” hurt and anger in a young abuse victim).

    Again, not everyone is like that! It’s just something that I’ve increasingly been noticing among many of the new Calvinists, and there appears to be a correlation between their theology and how it works its way out in their practice. It’s also very possible that there are other more important factors at play here, and I’m definitely curious as to other explanations for what I’ve been noticing.

    As for the halfway house issue, that certainly is a legitimate concern, but I am not sure that is necessarily the case here. I’ll have to think more on that one (meaning that, nerd that I am, I will mull it over for months before coming to any sort of conclusion). I know that very thing is one problem I have with some (many?) of the Puritans and is partly why I don’t have nearly the appreciation for them that many in the Reformed camp do (broadest possible definition of the term here). And yes, you just heard someone who’s Reformed admit to not being that into the Puritans! (While I’m at it, I also find the arguments for both young and old earth creationism equally compelling but consider the whole issue to be of little importance, have found some of N.T. Wright’s writings helpful (a big no-no among many of the new Calvinists), believe in the full equality of men and women in the home and church (a belief that would get me branded as a heretic by many) but consider that a tertiary issue, hold to a Calvinistic and paedo-baptist position but see the validity of Arminian and credo-baptist views and generally speaking don’t even try to convert others of my position (I’d even venture to say that most people who know me – fellow believers even – don’t know my position on those issues, and those who do only know because they’ve asked me directly what I believe about those issues)).

    I have my own concerns with Presbyterianism and Reformed theology (and yes, with covenant theology as described above) and can see myself changing positions (again) in the future and leaving for another denomination altogether. However, that is where I am now, and I hope that what I said above is an accurate representation of how Presbyterians view the idea of covenant children. My apologies for going overboard in attempting to do so! I suspect we actually agree more on this issue than it may appear.

  17. Amanda,

    I have heard of “first time obedience”, which I believe is being practiced in Sovereign Grace Churches. It’s as you have described — babies and toddlers who cry are scolded by their parents for being “disobedient” due to their total depravity. This is absolutely ABSURD and ungodly! No wonder SGM is having some serious problems, which will only esclate as these children grow up.

    From what I’ve read over at SGM Survivors, children are expected to greet adults politely and make eye contact with them. Picture a seven year old boy walking up to a lady in the church, looking her in the eye, and saying “Good morning, Mrs. So and So…” I’m all for manners, but that’s unnatural and absolutely rididulous! I’m convinced that this is one of the “hooks” to lure people into SG churches. Then there are the SG churches that have taught the Ezzo’s method of discipline. VERY, VERY BAD!!!

    All of these control tactics really make me angry! This is NOT how to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We must lovingly discipline them. I probably have more to say on this than any topic presented so far at TWW.

    So I guess I have heard some of the things you have described, just not in the same terminology. I plan to write a blog post on how SGM and similar churches “discipline” children soon. Of all the things we have uncovered about the Calvinistas, this is the most upsetting to me. I will focus on Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, which I purchased at LifeWay (SBC’s bookstore) and the Ezzo stuff. I’m really upset that J.D. Greear has one of the Ezzo books listed on his “Recommended Reading” list, so I’ll be mentioning that as well.

    You know, we’re just getting started here at TWW.

  18. Somebody needs to tell me how folks raised children for so long without all the “methods”. My take is that the Christian publishers took a cue from the secular market on this.

  19. Lydia,

    An excellent comment! I think they consulted a book called “The Bible”. That’s what I did. I never bought these kinds of child rearing books, and I didn’t need them either!

  20. These are accurate descriptions of the experiences I had attending the Harris’ church (hofcc.org, now ghofcc.org) for several years before I and my family left. There was a church split after we left and Gregg was removed as an elder. Then, after the founding elders and their families left the church to start an Acts29 church (a Mark Driscoll enterprise), Gregg was reinstated as elder again by the new elders and they branched off from the group of hofcc churches to start their own ghofcc church, apparently to be autonomous from the other elders who disagreed with their doings. (What happened to obeyed your “authorities”? I guess it doesn’t apply for some people.) Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t believe in spiritual “lordships” over peoples.

    Now, there’s even more going on, as the Harris’ are experiencing what some of the regular people do when hard life happens. Pray for them, as they go through some difficult times ahead in their home.

    I really have strong feelings about what happened to our family at their church years ago, but have moved to a better place in my walk with the Lord as a result. It’s been an amazing time of sharing the Gospel with the unsaved and brokenhearted (in the supposedly unGODLY world of secular college ::tongue in cheek:: I’m now attending with my kids — instead of sitting quietly at home awaiting my husband’s “vision”). Also, through the process of my own presuppositions changing (as a result of digging into the Scriptures and knowing what they ACTUALLY say), I’m finding His Word is filled with a positive picture of Him and His views toward women and men, working together for His glory. Thank God for the modern age of technology to help us to learn and grow in the knowledge of His Word (bible studies) and from each other’s experiences. What a way that God works to spread His Good News!

  21. Kathleen

    Thank yo so much for your wonderful comments. We would love to talk with you one on one to get some understanding of the conflict. We are really focusing on church conflicts but are both very busy this week. I am actually away from home presently. But, in another week, my calendar clears a bit.

    Why do you think that one group left Harris’ church and went to a Mark Driscoll, type church? What are the main differences, in your opinion?

    Deb is going to be fascinated by your comments.

  22. dee,

    I’d be glad to share more when you get time. The group that left (and started a new church “plant”) were the founding elders and their families that started the church in the Harris’ home in the late 1990’s. I talked with the elders that left after our family left the church, and they had seen HOFCC change from it’s beginning, and many of the points I brought up in my blog post were the same concerns the elders had with Gregg. I talked with one elder personally that told me he could have written my blog post himself, because I was so right on with my insights and concerns.

    You see, I’m just a woman 🙂 and didn’t get to sit in on all the men’s meetings where they discussed the really important matters and church teachings. But I sure did figure it out on my own.

    The Gathering is the acts29.com church the other elders founded this year. It tends to still follow celebrity — Piper, Driscoll, Matt Chandler, CJ Mahaney and Tim Keller (whom I actually appreciate). It still had its problems with automatically assigning eldership and leadership to those men who had already held those positions at HOFCC (and their select wives for administrative bookkeeping, etc). It also followed the acts29.com statement of faith which was clearly male-centered and disgusted me. So, my family decided it was best to not continue there.

    The “Gatheringcc.org” has its strengths (they’re not as rigid), but its weaknesses will eventually become its downfall, in my opinion. They still hold to CBMW’s teachings, they listen to Mark Driscoll, they are the same old elder guard that couldn’t get Gregg Harris under control at HOFCC and just transferred themselves and their “leadership” over to their new church plant. This caused some problems from the very start, in my experience (them not really hearing my concerns; then again, I’m only a woman). They follow the same old teaching except SOME of Gregg’s that they followed at their old church. So, eventually, the problems will arise again. They’re still very exclusive in many ways, which keeps out the very people that need the gospel.

    dee, I can send you more information via email if you’d like.

  23. “…whose lives were in complete shambles during their formative years. As a result …they now believe they MUST “micromanage” their own lives as well as the lives of others.”

    Bingo! THAT is EXACTLY it!

    People more than ever need to be aware though, how excessive legalism will have the OPPOSITE effect, result in spiritual abuse, and lead more lives to go into shambles. Again, I am so thankful for blogs like this for highlighting these issues.

  24. Thankfully, I’ve never been a member immersed in a spiritually abusive church. That being said, in this era of blogs, celebrity pastors, megachurches, mass book publishing, instant communication, and annual conferences –> many of the teachings that end up bearing much of the unwanted fruit discussed on this site obviously permeate the Reformed/Evangelical community beyond the walls of the home-base churches where anti-Biblical, legalistic trends + ways of thought are birthed.

    God has graciously alerted me to the dangerous temptation of becoming swept up and reliant on a Christian subculture, and all the books, personalities, teachings, etc…that go along with it, rather than fiercely investing myself in an individual pursuit of a deep relationship with Christ and immersion in God’s WORD.

    Some lessons I’ve learned along the way include:

    * John Calvin is not Jesus and intellectual devotion to a doctrine does not make one a Christian.
    * There is as much to learn from the writings of Puritans as there is from their sins and mistakes.
    * A book written by a pastor “about” the Bible is NO substitute for the real Bible itself.
    * Organizations such as The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood may call themselves “Biblical” but they did not write the Bible and they most certainly are NOT God.
    * The “secular” world often manifests Christ more than the church.
    * Spiritual abuse IS a reality that too much of the church in this country shoves under the rug and refuses to address, so I therefore must always have my guard up and maintain a healthy skepticism of authority, while still respecting it.

    etc…etc…learning more each day.

  25. Radiance

    Have you ever thought about starting a blog?

    I agree with you on the Puritans. Our look at them was meant to show that they were normal Christians like the rest of us. Some abusive churches are
    misusing the writings of the Puritans to assert their control. I have enjoyed reading some writings by the Puritans. I just wish there was balance. Only the Bible offers us a truly “well-rounded” look of man and God. I just wish more folks would focus on the Bible and not the latest book by the “Calvinista” du jour.

    Blessings and thanks for weighing in. You are good!