Michael and Debi Pearl
Question #3 - What is the emphasis of their ministry or work?
The emphasis of the Pearls' ministry is predominantly the family and child training. This includes a variety of subjects ranging from homeschooling to sex, and from discipline to herbal remedies. I could say that the emphasis of the Pearl's ministry is how wonderful the Pearls are, but that might sound catty.
The Pearls seem to have the problem of a lopsided ministry. They are very preoccupied with the family and with child psychology (as they brew it) and with the marriage relationship. They work these subjects over so thoroughly that one could begin to wonder how folks in years past ever raised godly children without the Pearls' help. Every possible angle is addressed, and some impossible ones as well.
The main emphasis of the Bible is not to provide a family living manual. It is true that the Bible is full of things useful to building and maintaining a godly home. It is true also that the first order that God set up was marriage but, after all, it is hard to set up a church or a national government with two people. This is not to say that the church or government supersede the home. They do not. But let's not overemphasize the thing. Homes are important to God, and we should strive to have godly homes, but the emphasis of the New Testament from Acts to Jude is not on the individual homes. Though there are clear admonitions for home life, the main emphasis is teaching the family of God - the church - to live in a manner that glorifies Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [Emphasis added.]
I have wondered at times if one reason the Pearls write as if most Christian families are dysfunctional (by their definition) is because they may be overexposed to the horror stories. Police officers and FBI agents have a problem with tending to think of everyone as a criminal or potential criminal. They deal with the criminal element of society almost exclusively and thus they begin to assume we are all that way. I'm inclined to think that the Pearls may have that problem because of the situations they have had to deal with.
Certainly too many these days emphasize the church to the exclusion of the family. And, there are many who do not have a Biblical idea of what a godly, Christian family should be. Some have this problem because of the backgrounds out of which they were saved. However, it is presumptuous for anyone to stand up and speak or write as if they had the perfect plan to remedy this real problem. Where God does not give a singular plan for family life and child training (exact rules and regulations by which to govern the home), how dare mere humans stand up and try to make one for Him?
Do you know why the Bible does not contain specific rules and regulations for the home order and child training? It is because the church, the body of Christ universal, is a culturally diverse group of people. We are spiritually an holy nation under one blood, the blood of Jesus Christ, but we are physically of many nationalities. God, in His great mercy and wisdom, did not lay upon us anything more than what is needful to live godly in Christ Jesus. He knew that we would be peculiar enough simply living by the precepts He has given us.
1Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
The Pearls' emphasize their ideas of family life and holiness and cry long and loud against such things as pornography and inconsistency in discipline, yet there are areas that are totally overlooked or neglected. Partly this is because there are issues that they have not dealt with or that they justify because they do them themselves. This is a peril of overemphasizing one area and setting yourself up as an expert for others to pattern themselves after. If you have "the right way" to do something, then everything you do must therefore be correct or close to it. [In reading the Pearls' material I have found that they seem write from an ivory tower point of view...not down with the masses. Think about that.]
Since I first wrote this I have learned that the Pearls believe that they can and "stopped sinning". Though they may not believe in eradication of the old nature in particular, they sound perilously close to believing that a person can become sinless. This would at least partly explain their lofty view of their own opinions and teachings.
"Whenever the boys got frustrated with reading, Mom would read halfway through a Louis Lamour book aloud and let them finish it." Rebekah Anast, "Creativity," NGJ, Nov/Dec 2003
Here Debi Pearl used a good method to inspire reading, but made a lousy choice of reading material. Louis Lamour books may be "clean" but they are full of the worldly, chivalrous cowboy image which can evil effect the minds of men and boys. The Bible says that we learn the ways of the people we "go" with. Proverbs 22:24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Our family knew two men in particular that read these "cowboy hero" type books. Both of them seemed to have a self-image of the cowboy hero. Both were too free and friendly with the ladies. Both were too touchy with women other than their own individual wives. These type of books may seem "innocent" to many people, but they encourage a type of thinking that is not in keeping with the word of God. Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. [But then, soberness and the Bible apparently are not to be mixed according to Mr. Pearl as mentioned previously, so there you are.]
Paul told the Ephesians in Acts 20:27, For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. If the family had been the most important thing to God, don't you think that He would have inspired Paul and the others to write a whole lot more about it? Certainly it is important, but it should not be taken out of the proportion that God gives it. Doing so in presumptuous and self-willed. I think that if we can just manage to keep Jesus Christ in the position that God intends Him to have in our lives, all the other things will naturally fall into place. Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Those who are born again are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ - not to raise perfect kids, not the have the perfect family or marriage, not to have a perfect sex life, not to destroy pornography and other evils. To be like Jesus. To follow His steps, 1 Pt. 2:21. All other things will be "fixed" if this is the mark unto which we are pressing, Php. 3:14.
graphics by mary van nattan