“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.” Winston Churchill
Before addressing today’s topic, I thought it might be beneficial to share some information about my own faith journey. I could write a book, but I’ll spare you …
In the late 1990s my family left our United Methodist church in order to find a more conservative congregation. My husband had been raised Southern Baptist and Adrian Rogers had significantly impacted my life through his television outreach, so we decided to join a church in that denomination. Prior to making the switch, I had become aware of the conservative takeover of the SBC and thought it was a very good thing. Paige and Dorothy Patterson were members of the church we joined; however, I never got to know them because their travel schedule prevented them from attending much of the time. Dr. Patterson was serving as both president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
During our first year there, the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was passed and embraced by the SBC. I remember Dr. Patterson delivering a Mothers’ Day sermon at my church and calling attention to his cowboy boots which demonstrated his allegiance to his native state of Texas. When the service ended, I walked up to Dr. Patterson, shook his hand, and asked him to tell Adrian Rogers that someone in North Carolina has been deeply impacted by his television ministry. Patterson and Rogers were very close friends.
Several years later we heard that a new Southern Baptist church was being planted near our home, so we began to visit. After we had been attending for about a year, the church was officially launched and we became charter members. Within a year or so an internal conflict arose concerning the pastor, whom we dearly loved.
Dr. Danny Akin arrived at SEBTS around the time the conflict escalated, and someone from our church asked if he would become involved. He committed to meeting with the elders on Wednesday evenings over a period of months. A friend and I took turns preparing food for elders since their weekly meetings commenced at 6:00 p.m. My husband and I wrote Dr. Akin a letter thanking him for his involvement in the situation. Some months later, our pastor stunned the congregation by announcing his resignation. We felt called to leave the church when our pastor did. Prior to being hired, he had been a professor at SEBTS, and he resumed his teaching position after leaving the church.
My family began spending more weekends at our family farm located two hours away from our primary residence, and we began attending a Baptist church there. It was a great comfort to us during this extended period of time. Some time later, our former pastor was called to become the interim pastor at a small Baptist church in the area, and we were thrilled! We began attending this church and joined after he was hired permanently. It seemed like paradise found to my family.
My older daughter was graduating from high school and planned to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, an extremely liberal university. She had a deep faith, which we hoped she would continue to nurture in college. Our pastor recommended that she attend The Summit because he knew J.D. Greear extremely well and had taught him in seminary. The only problem was UNC freshmen were not allowed to have cars on campus, and our daughter had trouble finding transportation to the church. During her first semester, she took advantage of a shuttle service provided by a church close to campus. However, my daughter still wanted to visit The Summit because of our pastor’s recommendation, and I wanted to make that happen for her.
Shortly after the start of my daughter’s second semester, Greear came to SEBTS to speak during chapel (February 8, 2008). By this time I had attended quite a few chapel services at the seminary, even though I wasn’t a student. After delivering his message, J.D. prepared to leave through the front door of Binkley Chapel. I walked up to him and introduced myself. I explained that my daughter really wanted to attend his church but did not have a way to get there. He explained that college students carpool to The Summit and that if my daughter had any difficulty finding transportation, she should give him a call and he would help her. Then he handed me a card with his name and phone number. It was a very friendly exchange.
As I recall, my daughter didn’t begin going to The Summit until the beginning of her sophomore year when she was allowed to have a car. My husband and I wanted her to be able to drive to church, and we were so happy that each week she was taking other students with her who wanted to attend Greear’s church. My daughter has been attending The Summit for almost three years now, along with most of her friends. It has been an extremely positive faith building experience for them.
My husband, younger daughter, and I decided to attend The Summit for the first time on August, 29, 2010, and we called our older daughter on the way to church (she was already back at college) to let her know. She arrived a few minutes before we did, and she was seated in the main auditorium. We were directed to the overflow section. The sermon topic was “Thou Shalt Have Great Sex” from Exodus 20:14. Greear was preaching a series on the Ten Commandments and just happened to be speaking on the Sixth Commandment – “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery” – that day. My older daughter, knowing we were there somewhere, panicked. She later explained that she thought to herself – of all the days for my parents to come, this would be the topic…
Yes, it was a sensitive topic, but Greear handled it extremely well. It was a timely message with so many students going back to college, and I was glad that both of my daughters were there to hear it. During the weeks that followed, my husband made several complimentary remarks about Greear’s sermon. Both of us received the message extremely well.
That was the only time we have visited The Summit. As I have explained numerous times before, beginning in the fall of 2008 (about ½ year after meeting Greear) I began investigating some of the topics discussed here at TWW – early marriage, CBMW, ESS, Calvinism, the SBC/SGM connection, Patterson’s misogynistic attitude toward women by advising them to stay in physically abusive marriages, etc. By January 2009 my husband and I became so alarmed that we felt we had no choice but to leave the denomination, and we communicated that to our pastor. It was heartbreaking to leave our church; however, like Martin Luther, we believe it is dangerous to go against conscience. We could not in good conscience remain in the Southern Baptist Convention. That was over two years ago. Almost two months after leaving my church and the SBC, Dee and I began blogging about our concerns. If you’re new here, you can check out our varied topics under the “Categories” heading.
While I believe J.D. Greear is a fine pastor, I am concerned about several of the books he recommends on his website. We mentioned them in our previous post. The book that concerns me the most is On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo.
As stated in our previous post, there has been a huge outcry against Ezzo’s teachings, specifically: Grace Community Church (where John MacArthur pastors) has issued an open letter against Ezzo, Christianity Today published several articles highlighting the problems with Ezzo, the Christian Research Institute (Hank Hannegraaf) has researched Ezzo and issued their findings about his teachings, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a warning about Ezzo’s methods.
I wonder whether Greear and other Christian leaders who endorse Ezzo realize that many highly respected Christian authorities and organizations have voiced their concerns about Ezzo’s methods. Please go here to view the list.
Here is their summary of concerns:
“ – exhibits/encourages tendency toward legalism (even while it advises parents not to be legalistic)
– uses prooftexting and scripture twisting to give weight and urgency to ideas presented
– confuses biblical principle and application, sometimes elevating the Ezzos' favored application to the level of actual biblical principle, making it the moral standard
– emphasis on the moralism of good behavior — as defined by Western etiquette — rather than hearts turned toward Jesus
– Portrayal of other parenting approaches as unbiblical by mischaracterizing their beliefs and results
Critics acknowledge that some good, practical and biblical ideas may be found in the Ezzos' material. However, the presence of the above dynamics can make it harder for parents to glean the good, and may contribute to an overly eager or rigid way of applying the ideas.”
What is extremely alarming to us is the fact that Multnomah, which at one time published Ezzo’s books, returned the publishing rights (see below). Link.
“The notice announced that Multnomah Publishing was returning publishing rights to self-styled parenting expert Gary Ezzo, author of such bestselling books as On Becoming Babywise and On Becoming Babywise II. *
Although Mr. Ezzo was one of Multnomah's A-list authors, the publisher decided to drop him as an author after an internal investigation was conducted of claims of medical misinformation in his books as well as serious character problems involving him.
Apparently, in an effort to protect itself from potential legal liability for publishing medically inaccurate information, Multnomah announced its decision to drop Ezzo in carefully nuanced and vague terms.
The statement blamed Mr. Ezzo's critics for being unwilling to meet with Ezzo at a "reconciliation" meeting hosted by Multnomah officials. The statement gave the impression that the critics' refusal to meet was the reason that Multnomah decided to drop him as an author. This is a nonsensical explanation.”
According to the article at the above link, the more likely reason Multnomah dropped Ezzo’s book is because “medical errors involving newborn infants would be especially troublesome for a reputable publisher.”
One would think that pastors/churches would be especially careful in making book recommendations that could lead to potential lawsuits in the event of an infant death attributable to following Ezzo’s methods. Imagine a devastated parent testifying in court: “Your honor, my pastor recommended Ezzo’s book, and now my baby has died.” A church’s potential exposure could be staggering…
Since being dropped by his publisher, Ezzo self-publishes his resources including On Becoming Babywise. To understand how he does this, read the information under the heading “Ezzo Creates Two Paper Organizations For His Vanity Press” at the above link. The linked article concludes as follows:
“There is nothing inherently wrong with self-publishing, but Gary Ezzo seems to have gone out of his way to hide the fact that his former publisher dropped him after investigating both the medical misinformation and character issues surrounding his books."
Likewise, the wording on his copyright page and acknowledgment in the 2001 edition of On Becoming Babywise and on the Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc., web site lead a reader to think that this is a real publishing company-and part of a larger company known as Charleston Publishing Group.
Purchasers of his books have the right to know that his "publishing companies" are merely paper facades that hide his self-publishing efforts-and his inability to acquire a reputable publisher for his questionable theological and medical advice.
What should this mean to potential purchasers of his books? It means that Gary Ezzo now has far less accountability for accuracy in his books than he ever had before. If Multnomah dropped him over concerns about medical misinformation in his books, potential customers should heed the warning: Let The Buyer Beware!”
The more we are learning about Gary Ezzo, the more alarmed we have become. It’s incredible that Pastor A defended Greear’s inclusion of On Becoming Babywise on his Recommended Readling List and accused us of assaulting Ezzo’s character. We are simply quoting facts. Dear readers, do you believe that Ezzo’s methods are “very biblical” as Pastor A claimed in his response to us?
When Ezzo developed his teaching years ago, he asserted that you would know how well you raised your children based on your relationship with them when they grow up. Well, both of the Ezzo daughters are grown and estranged from their parents. You can read about it at this link.
Here is a shocking excerpt:
“Sadly, several years ago, both daughters and their husbands cut off contact with the Ezzos, and they remain estranged. Both couples have confirmed this to Ezzo.info. One couple, the Luedkes, indicated that their decision was based on their personal observation of the same types of character issues raised by others and that it was done only after much prayer, consideration, and counsel.
This situation is a true tragedy, but churches and parents considering the Ezzos’ parenting advice deserve to know that the pattern of broken relationships they have left behind them extends even into their own family.”
After reviewing all of this evidence, do YOU believe we are being “uncharitable” toward Ezzo and condemning his character? We would appreciate your feedback.
I recently purchased the latest edition of On Becoming Babywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep and am in the process of reading it. Soon I will be reviewing it here at TWW, so stay tuned… Just remember, Caveat Emptor!