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“Tennessee Nut Picking” describes a linguistic tactic used to paint an opposing group in the worst possible light. The accuser names the most outrageous person from the other side as representative of the whole group. For example, would it be true or honest to point to Ted Kennedy or Bill, “It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.” Clinton and their philandering ways as normative or encouraged lifestyle by all Democrats and liberals? No, it most definitely would not. It is another tactic to defend one’s own leader or compadre for reprobate behavior while demanding the scalp of another for the same actions — because he or she is recognized as being on the “other side.” In Bill Clinton’s case, at least, feminists who had been long insisting that men in power should never be allowed to use their authority to exact sexual favors from their female underlings suddenly went silent or defended Clinton by glibly saying, “It was only sex.” Human beings tend to defend our “own” while battering the “other” and demanding strict punishment for the same offense while asserting that it was merely a lapse in judgment on the part of our own man or woman. Most Democrats, like most Republicans, Independents, etc., are just regular folk with much in common with most other Americans, and like the rest of us, are rightly indignant and angered when they feel a double standard is victimizing them. We all should strive to abstain from “Tennessee nut picking” and be fair about the way we paint people we disagree with.

Looking at it through the lens of scripture, however, these examples of bad behavior, as well as our human tendency to engage in “Tennessee nut picking” and other ungodly behavior, places all of us into a much larger group than the Bible describes as sinners:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

All have sinned — no “Tennessee Nut Picking” will promote anyone’s cause before God. This describes all humanity, whether “us” or “them,” but as Paul points out to Timothy:

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. (1 Timothy 5:24)

We expect that Olivia Crist and the other producers and directors of Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets would cry foul if we used the above examples as representative of all or even most Democrats or liberals of whatever party, and they would be right to do so. Yet, they were quite comfortable painting Bill Gothard and “Jim Bob” Duggar as representatives of Fundamentalism and homeschoolers. It should be noted that not all homeschoolers are Fundamentalists, Evangelical, or even Christian. What they have in common is they are largely parents concerned with the best education for their children while being the gatekeepers against social indoctrination demanded by progressives with which they do not agree.

As noted last week in “Bill Gothard and the Unpaid Bills of the Church,” within the first three minutes of the first episode it is stated by Brooke:

The IBLP teachings aren’t Christianity; they’re something entirely different1Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets; S1 E1 Meet the Duggars, 02:52

From that point, a driving theme of the series is these are Fundamentalists, and everything being exposed is representative of Christian Fundamentalism. They seem to have little knowledge of the origins of Fundamentalism. The movement is founded on the importance of essential doctrines of the faith, which were reintroduced to a largely biblically illiterate church in the early Twentieth Century through the 90 essays in The Fundamentals, beginning in 1910. The movement became known as “The Fundamentalists.”

The docuseries explains that Bill Gothard, whose teachings the Duggars have whole-heartedly adopted—graduated from a Fundamentalist institution, Wheaton College. There is one glaring problem with that claim— it is’t true. Wheaton College is an Evangelical Institution, not Fundamentalist.

As we pointed out in Bill Gothard and the Unpaid Bills of the Church, his (Gothard’s) umbrella of authority teaching is not biblical but is rooted in First Century Roman (Gentile) authoritarianism. With a verbal sleight of hand, Gothard shifts the point of the centurion’s story in Matthew 8:5-13 from the awesome power of Christ to the purported importance of our adopting the Gentile paradigm of a “chain of authority” in Christian churches and families. This Gentile style of heavy top-down authority is exactly what Jesus said His followers were not to imitate. Rather, the leaders in Christ’s kingdom were to avoid lording their authority over those in their charge, but to lead by being the servants of all.

And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25-26)

Gothard also does not abide by his own teachings. He has two sets of rules. One for himself, one for everyone else, and they are not the same!. As it turns out, Jesus also criticized the Jewish leaders of His day who had the same practice.

Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)

Putting aside for the moment Gothard’s egregious teachings on the issue of authority, his teaching about “grace” is not “grace” in the biblical sense at all. The “grace” that Gothard promotes is of the very type which the Reformers fought against centuries ago, while the Apostle Paul specifically rejected the teachings on circumcision in the book of Galatians that Gothard insists are a moral requirement.

Both Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism rejected Gothard and his teachings long ago, and the IBLP scandal in the 1980s sealed that separation. The reason is fairly simple. Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, as a rule, do not tolerate sexual immorality once it is known. The key here is “once it is known.” Would either group affirm Duggar patriarch Jim Bob’s cover-up of his son Josh Duggar’s predatory sexual behavior? Absolutely not! Duggar, having been put in an untenable situation by the sinful actions of his son, persuaded himself that he needed to cover up his son’s horrendous behavior, specifically because he knew much of their audience would denounce his son’s conduct. He greatly feared losing supporters and ultimately losing the show, which was a huge money-maker and earned him a good deal of prestige. So, he hid his son’s immoral behavior, engaging in a cover-up. In so doing, he also abandoned his biblical mandate to protect his daughters.

Duggar, like Gothard before him, opted for what Dr. Donald Williams calls “the Gentile Paradigm.” In his excellent book, Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-Evangelical Christianity, Dr. Williams outlines the tragic cost of embracing the “Gentile Paradigm” of authority:

It is a mode of understanding leadership and headship that has infiltrated the traditional view of male headship in marriage and thus all too frequently caused it to become utterly unChristlike and unbiblical. Physical abuse happens, but emotional abuse is much more common, as too many Christian wives are browbeaten by men who think their anatomy somehow gives them the right to get their way. I have counseled many women who have been made to feel guilty for not liking such treatment! One can understand why many secular feminists and their Christian sympathizers have come to equate male headship (“patriarchy”) with abuse and why they feel compelled to twist the Scriptures into grotesque shapes in order to avoid it. Unfortunately, such twisting is still twisting, and it can only produce twisted results.2Williams, Donald T. Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-Evangelical Christianity (pp. 191-192). Semper Reformanda Publications. Kindle Edition

All of the above will likely be the outcome of families, churches, and organizations that adopt the Gentile Paradigm, presenting it as if it is biblical. It isn’t. The results of such deception can be tragic, resulting in broken people, broken marriages, broken families, abused wives, and children who feel abandoned and punished by God. What is the solution? We must understand and practice biblical leadership for the family and the church:

Headship as leadership is not about the husband getting his way just because he is a man. It is about Christ getting His way, and the husband being responsible before God to see that this is what happens in his family. The husband and the wife in a healthy Christian marriage are not in a competition to see who gets his or her way. They both want Christ to get His way, and they both recognize that God has given the husband a special role of responsibility to take the lead in seeing that the family pursues that agenda together.3Williams, Donald T. Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-Evangelical Christianity (p. 192). Semper Reformanda Publications. Kindle Edition

The non-Christian producers of this exposé were not wrong to expose the grave faults in the Duggar’s family seriously flawed picture of a perfect family. The truth needed to be outed and presented to the public, and we do not fault them for that. And the girls who were sexually abused by Josh Duggar and silenced by their father had an absolute right to be heard, and this program gave them a voice, which we appreciate. But we take exception to the producers’ apparent conclusion that the Duggars and their behavior are essentially representative of Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, and other Christian people. Rather, their behavior represents an aberrant view of Christian leadership and authority, which they learned from a false teacher (Bill Gothard) with his false teachings on authority. The problem here isn’t Fundamentalism — rather it is a lack of familiarity with a Fundamental issue, Biblical leadership, which should always be about “Christ getting His way” and not about bullying others to get our own way.Ω

Don and Joy Signature 2

© 2023, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpts and links may be used if full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

End Notes

End Notes
1 Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets; S1 E1 Meet the Duggars, 02:52
2 Williams, Donald T. Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-Evangelical Christianity (pp. 191-192). Semper Reformanda Publications. Kindle Edition
3 Williams, Donald T. Ninety-Five Theses for a New Reformation: A Road Map for Post-Evangelical Christianity (p. 192). Semper Reformanda Publications. Kindle Edition
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