The Roots of Christian Impotence in Quiverfull

The Roots of Christian Impotence in Quiverfull June 7, 2020

We recently considered the appeal that Voddie Baucham presented for Lori Alexander owed to attitudes of misanthropy. I think that this pessimism also stems from a deeper source which pervaded Quiverfull culture but is rarely explicitly identified. Might it account for a great deal of the fear mentality which drives QF’s efforts to protect themselves from the “sin cooties” to which they seem to be so vulnerable? Did they ever stop to think about whether their parent theology defined them as helpless within secular culture? Does the theology of QF’s primary influences explain their fear and cloistering?

Followers of QF took their lifestyle marching orders from emerging leaders in their movement, and a great many people failed to consider different Protestant denominations involved held different theologies. While the people who followed QF were comprised mainly of Dispensationalists (who among other doctrines believe that saving faith involves an individual’s choice in response to God’s grace), the leaders who framed out the lifestyle systems that influenced QF were a new breed of Calvinist. [Note that Gothard who gleans most of his material from the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) and the Shepherding movements classifies as neither Calvinist nor non-Calvinist.]

While the fundamental beliefs of Calvinism focus on God’s sovereign power and God’s choice of those who become Christians, there are many more beliefs and doctrines that undergird their larger belief system of Covenant Theology (observed by Presbyterians and a minority of Baptists). The doctrine that I find most significant in this quandary concerns the doctrine of salvation — the understanding of precisely what Christ accomplished through His death and resurrection and how it affects the life of the Christian. And I think QF parents were too busy raising their families to notice the significance. They did what their QF culture did.

Calvinists hold to a view that the Atonement provided for Penal Substitution in which Christ suffers the penalty for the believer’s sin so that they need not suffer the punishment which is ultimately met in eternal hell. Through other influences including Jonathan Edwards, some also believe that power is provided to ministers to govern churches via the Governmental View (for Calvinists who observe elder-led governance as opposed to Baptists who prefer congregational governance – a defining element for the IFB).

Most Dispensationalists, the majority of Baptists, Lutherans, and Anglicans hold other views of the Atonement. An expanded, patristic view maintains that the Atonement gave Christ power over sin, death, and evil, and in the authority of His Name, that power extends to the Christian. Their relationship to/appropriation of the Law changes also. The Holy Spirit is believed to work within their lives via spiritual power that is not just reserved for church leaders.

Having recovered from QF, I cannot help but see the QF acolyte as impotent and their Holy Spirit limited. It makes sense that QF leaders used brute force to ‘take dominion’ if only armed with their new doctrine, submission, and hell insurance to battle ‘sin cooties’. I certainly couldn’t inspire others to become disciples so that they could follow a rule book and submit to old men who hold the only power. (I thought that’s what the Reformation protested.)

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Cindy is a nurse who was raised in Word of Faith, a Second Generation Adult of cultic Christianity. She and her husband dabbled in Calvinism and Theonomy as a foil to Christian anti-intellectualism, and they were exit counseled together when the walked away from a church that embraced Gothard’s teachings. Cindy escaped many Quiverfull pitfalls but became a social pariah for failing to birth a family. She’s been decrying the abuses of the Patriarchy Movement since 2004, and she writes about spiritual abuse at her blog, Under Much Grace. Read more about her here.

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