Colleen’s Testimony

Coleen G. was nice enough  to share her testimony here on my blog.  I’m reposting it below so it won’t be missed.

I have seen the fruits of the Pearl’s methods in my own children and at another family that we know.

My friend tried to switch her toddler son until he was crying submissively and brokenly. She was horrified at how many times this needed to be done and each event required welting, bruises because he would not be broken until he no longer could stand the agony. She never switched like that again and never used their methods again. She had been following the techniques as described including the correct “tool”.

I too tried to follow their methods but I could not bring myself to hit that hard. I did not know of my friend’s sessions with her son at the time. That story came out to me years later. I have a temper problem and very strong willed children as well(I know now that is a blessing not a sin issue). While I tried very hard to not let my temper rule me it came out when I had to go through multiple sessions over many days about the same issues with the same child. Their “rebellion” was taken personally and fed my sinful anger problem. I was not seeing results with my young children they mostly just grew out of whatever development stage and corresponding behaviors that I had been taught vis the Pearl’s was disobedience.

God got a hold of me healing the sin-anger and showing me that my parenting methods were causing me to sin against my children even when I was not angry. The switch was chaotic and it took almost two years for relational healing. Yes I was/am a sinner who had a problem but the Pearl’s methods aggravated and intensified that sin issue compounding the damage I was doing. Yes I had the book, all the connected books. I had videos and the magazine subscription so I was well steeped in their methodology.

Having now stepped away from it all and truly studied both the bible and child development I can see that much of what they teach is toxic even for mild even tempered parent of equally tempered children. While bible-y in terminology it is not Christ-like and denies what is normal development as sin that must be punished out of a child for the convenience of the parents and the child’s future salvation.

I have lived with the fruit and it is a sour hellish thing fit only for those who like the Pharisees care more for control and rules than Love and sacrificial living towards the weaker.


Lisa’s Response to Debi Pearl’s Prayer for the destruction of her enemies

Lisa has said very well what I have had neither the time nor energy to write so I am going to give her comments the exposure they deserve.

In response to my post regarding Debi Pearl’s public prayer asking God to destroy her enemies, Lisa said:

I read the article, also, and I was appalled. A prayer should not ever need excuses for why it sounds like a prayer for another human being’s death.

What if they had asked God to open their eyes and hearts and show them ‘if there is any hurtful way in them, and lead them in the everlasting way’? What if they had asked God if they had a log in their eyes that they needed to remove in order to see more clearly? What if they had asked God to bless these people?

When Jesus said to pray for our enemies, I think he meant to pray for their good and their welfare. I think that if someone attacks you, the very first thing you should do is examine whether there is any merit to their complaint. After that, humble oneself and depend on God.

I think that to compare any human beings to attacking dogs is a mistake. The Psalms may contain references like this but these are preshadowings of Christ’s affliction. We are not Christ, and we are now in the New Testament and Christ has taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who would despitefully use us. None of the apostles, nor Steven, prayed for the death of their enemies.

Finally, if I had ever written a book that led 1 other person (much less 3) to abuse their child to the point of killing them, I would be devastated beyond description. I would take that book off the market and burn every copy and repent on my face before God. Wouldn’t you?

I replied and she then went on to say:
[Read more…]

Considering Adoption Reform

Whatcom Mom had an interesting comment which I would like to highlight.

I’m hoping the readers here will have some ideas about improving adoption home study practice, based on what we have learned from the deaths of Hana Williams and Lydia Schatz and injuries to their siblings.

So you know where I’m coming from. I’m an adoptive parent of now adult daughters, one adopted as an infant from a local nonprofit agency, the other as a toddler through state foster care. I’ve been active in pre-adoptive education and post-adoption support and have had plenty of occasion to reflect on issues that arise in transracial, special needs, and international and open adoptions. I have long been concerned about adoption agencies that place especially needy and difficult children with naïve, unprepared (and maybe overconfident) families and then fail to follow up with oversight and support.

I followed the Williams trial especially closely because the family lives in my area and because I know people who have worked for, and adopted from, the agency that placed Hana and her brother Immanuel. [Read more…]

An Incriminating Video of Pearl

While I don’t like to link to sites like this, I really feel that this needs to be shown.  I have come across a video (removed by NGJ by Copyright Claim) which was clearly designed to make Michael Pearl look bad. Someone managed to get a recording of the Q & A part of one of Michael Pearl’s teaching sessions which took place in The Church At Cane Creek and edited out everything Mr. Pearl might have said that made sense leaving small clips which appear to be the ravings of a mad man. I am sure that many will insist that the statements and actions in the video were taken out of context and put together in such a way as to make him look bad. I am therefore asking for volunteers to explain to me how these things were manipulated and what the true context really was. If they were jokes, they really do not seem to me jokes becoming for a man of God, especially the part where he grabs the “child” doll and smashes his face onto the desk a few times and chuckles. I could say the same for his apparent arrogance. Here are some other quotes I would like explained:

“If he screams too hard with the first 5… gets hysterical… Wait… You know, a little psychological terror sometime will affect even the pain.” Said while waiving a switch over the rag doll’s behind. He couldn’t possibly be advocating using psychological terror on your child, could he?

“Thumping them on the head? You’re worried about that??? [turns to wife] Give me another question.” I’m trying to figure out how this quote was used in a Biblical context and falling short. I’m sure that someone will have an answer for me.

“If your husband is an angry man, make love to him, make him happy.” This seems to be the advice given to a wife who asks how to deal with a husband who only disciplines in anger. It would seem that he is saying that his anger is his wife’s fault because she is not giving him enough sex. But I must be misunderstanding, because that does not sound Biblical to me.

[switching rag doll] “So I give them 5 more, so now get up” [makes doll sit, it’s showing a frown] “Still got a bad attitude” [whack whack whack] “Get up” [checks again, still frowning] “I’m going to say, ‘You’re still crying… I’m going to give you something to cry about.” This sounds like he’s saying to keep on switching the child until he stops crying. I’m sure he must say at some point when to stop switching because they are making it look like this could go on for a long time. And why would a man of God teach parents that they should punish a child until he pretends to be happy? For the child to force himself to smile and pretend to be happy means that the child must pretend be something he is not, the very definition of hypocrisy. Surely he is not advocating forcing a child to sin! Our Lord, Jesus Christ, reserved His harshest condemnation for hypocrites.

I am trying very hard not to judge unfairly. This video comes from a secular source and was clearly edited to cast Mr. Pearl in a negative light. My purpose here is to provide arguments to counter his teachings, not to slander him. This is clearly a hatchet job, I need to know what his arguments really are in order to counter them. For that reason I linked to the video (removed by NGJ by Copyright Claim)  so that someone can explain this to me.

Update:  The video which was linked above used to be on YouTube but was removed by NGJ for copyright infringement. I had linked to it on and they had it removed from there as well.   I’m still waiting for them to answer my questions.

Update:  The Mudracker has posted the video starting at 1:17 of his video, Michael Pearl Censors The Internet.  The intro contains some language so if that bothers you, please feel free to skip to minute 1:17.

Update:  More info about this here.

Quotes from To Train Up A Child

When quoting from To Train Up A Child (written and published by Michael and Debi Pearl), we should be careful about paraphrasing. We are being accused of misquoting. Here are some quotes from the first edition of the book, which is found online here. I got the page numbers  for the 1st edition (1994) from quotes which are in circulation (originating from but I painstakingly checked each quote in the book to make sure that I am using direct quotes. Page numbers for the 17th edition (April 2006) were provided by Robbyn Peters Bennett of

The Pearls recommend switching infants only a few months old on their bare skin. They describe switching their own 4 month old daughter (1st edition p.9).

At four months she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good, we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on the bare legs. The switch was a twelve-inch long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.

In the 17th edition (April 2006) the above quote is the same but the baby is a month older.  Also on page 9:

At five months, she was too unknowing to be punished for disobedience. But for her own good (and our peace of mind), we attempted to train her not to climb the stairs by coordinating the voice command of “No” with little spats on her bare legs. The switch was a twelve-once long, one-eighth-inch diameter sprig from a willow tree.

On p.60 of the 1st edition they recommend switching babies who cannot sleep and are crying, and to never allow them “to get up.”

But what of the grouch who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then allow him to get up. If, after putting him down, you remember he just woke up, do not reward his complaining by allowing him to get up.For the sake of consistency in training, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.

This has been reworded somewhat in the 17th edition (P63)

But what about the grouchy child who would rather complain than sleep? Get tough. Be firm with him. Never put him down and then for some reason reverse your position, allowing him to get up. For your reputation with the child, you must follow through. He may not be able to sleep, but he can be trained to lie there quietly. He will very quickly come to know that any time he is laid down, there is no alternative but to stay put. To get up is to be on the firing line and get switched back down.

On p.79 they recommend switching a 7 month old for screaming.

A seven-month-old boy had, upon failing to get his way, stiffened clenched his fists, bared his toothless gums and called down damnation on the whole place. At a time like that, the angry expression on a baby’s face can resemble that of one instigating a riot. The young mother, wanting to do the right thing, stood there in helpless consternation, apologetically shrugged her shoulders and said, “What can I do?” My incredulous nine-year-old whipped back, “Switch him.” The mother responded, “I can’t, he’s too little.” With the wisdom of a veteran who had been on the little end of the switch, my daughter answered, “If he is old enough to pitch a fit, he is old enough to be spanked.”

On p.65 co-author Debi Pearl whips the bare leg of a 15 month old she is babysitting, 10 separate times, for not playing with something she tells him to play with.

After about ten acts of stubborn defiance, followed by ten switchings, he surrendered his will to one higher than himself. In rolling the wheel, he did what every accountable human being must do–he humbled himself before the “highest” and admitted that his interests are not paramount. After one begrudged roll, my wife turned to other chores.

On p.56 Debi Pearl trades blows with a 2 year old.

This time, her bottom came off the couch as she drew back to return the blow; and I heard a little karate like wheeze come from somewhere deep inside.

On p.59 (1st ed) and 62 (17th ed) they recommend spanking a 3 year old until he is “totally broken.”

She then administers about ten slow, patient licks on his bare legs. He cries in pain. If he continues to show defiance by jerking around and defending himself, or by expressing anger, then she will wait a moment and again lecture him and again spank him. When it is obvious he is totally broken, she will hand him the rag and very calmly say, “Johnny, clean up your mess.” He should very contritely wipe up the water.

On p.55 the Pearls say a mother should hit her child if he cries for her.

If a father is attempting to make a child eat his oats, and the child cries for his mother, then the mother should respond by spanking him for whining for her and for not eating his oats. He will then be glad to be dealing only with the father.

On p.46 of the 1st edition, p. 49 of the 17th, the Pearls say that if a child does obey before being spanked, spank them anyway. And “if you have to sit on him to spank him, then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher.” “Defeat him totally.”

At this point, in utter panic, he will rush to demonstrate obedience. Never reward delayed obedience by reversing the sentence. And, unless all else fails, don’t drag him to the place of cleansing. Part of his training is to come submissively. However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.

On p.80 they say

On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again.

On p.47 of the 1st ed. they give details of what to use for a spanking instrument.

Any spanking, to effectively reinforce instruction, must cause pain, but the most pain is on the surface of bare skin where the nerves are located. A surface sting will cause sufficient pain, with no injury or bruising. Select your instrument according to the child’s size. For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.

That quote is reworded in the 17th edition and is on page 50.

It is most effective to strike a light rod against bare skin, where nerves are located at the surface…

The Pearls  recommend pulling a nursing infant’s hair (p.7 both editions)

One particularly painful experience of nursing mothers is the biting baby. My wife did not waste time finding a cure. When the baby bit, she pulled hair (an alternative has to be sought for baldheaded babies).

They recommend hosing off a child outside in order to clean him if he continues to soil himself. (p. 75 17th edition)

So, my suggestion was that the father explain to the boy that, now that he was a man, he would no longer be washed in the house. He was too big and too stinky to be cleaned by the babywipes. From now on, he would be washed outside with a garden hose. The child was not to be blamed. This was to be understood as just a progressive change in methods. The next dump, the father took him out and merrily, and might I say, carelessly, washed him off. What with the autumn chill and the cold well water, I don’t remember if it took a second washing or not, but, a week later, the father told me his son was now taking himself to the pot. The child weighed the alternatives and opted to change his lifestyle. Since then, several others have been the recipients of my meddling, and it usually takes no more than three cheerful washings.

Also, here are 3 quotes which I feel show some questionable doctrine:

The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.

The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.

A child properly and timely spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of spirit. A child can be turned back from the road to hell through proper spankings. “Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell (Prov. 23:13, 14). (p. 44)

Note: I find it ironic that he recommends using plastic plumbing line for a rod and then objects when people say that he teaches people to whip children.

Now, here are some very disturbing quotes directly from their website.  You are going to have to go read this yourself to really appreciate it and believe that I did not take quotes out of context.

This is from Question #9: “Please give examples of the kinds of things for which you used the rod, both as a training tool and as punishment, for children were under 12 months.”

We never used the rod to punish a child younger than 12 months.

For young children, especially during the first year, the rod is used very lightly as a training tool. You use something small and light to get the child’s attention and to reinforce your command.

One or two light licks on the bare legs or arms will cause a child to stop in his tracks and regard your commands.

A 12-inch piece of weed eater chord works well as a beginner rod. It will fit in your purse or pocket.

Later, a plumber’s supply line is a good spanking tool. You can get it at Wal-Mart or any hardware store. Ask for a plastic, ¼ inch, supply line. They come in different lengths and several colors; so you can have a designer rod to your own taste. They sell for less than $1.00.

A baby needs to be trained all day, everyday. It should be a cheerful, directing training, not a correction training.

When your 6-month-old baby grabs sister’s hair, while he still has a hand full of hair, swat his hand or arm and say “No, that hurts sister.” If he has already let go of her hair, then put his hand back on her hair, so as to engage his mind in the former action, and then carry on with the hand swatting and the command.

If your 10-month-old is pitching a fit because he wants to be picked up, then you must reinforce your command with a few stinging swats.

Wait one minute, and then tell the baby to stop crying. If he doesn’t, again swat him on his bare legs. You don’t need to undress him, turn him over, or make a big deal out of it. Just swat him where any skin is exposed. Continue to act as if you don’t notice the fit. Wait two minutes and repeat.

Most babies will keep it going for 3 or 4 times and then slide to a sitting position and sob it out. When this happens, it signals a surrender, so give him two minutes to get control and then swoop him up as if the fit never happen and give him a big hug, BUT don’t hold him in the manner he was demanding. Now remove yourself from the area so as to remove him from association with the past event.

Don’t ever hit a small child with your hand. You are too big and the baby is too small. The surface of the skin is where the most nerves are located and where it is easiest to cause pain without any damage to the child. The weight of your hand does little to sting the skin, but can cause bruising or serious damage internally. Babies need training but they do not need to be punished. Never react in anger or frustration. If you loose it, get your self under control before you attempt to discipline a child.

Here is another quote from the No Greater Joy website.  This quote is from an article from 1998,  Angry Child.

A proper spanking leaves children without breath to complain. If he should tell you that the spanking makes him madder, spank him again. If he is still mad…. He desperately needs an unswayable authority, a cold rock of justice. Keep in mind that if you are angry you are wasting your time trying to spank his anger away.

I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey. On the fourth day I would treat him with respect and he would respond in kind. On the fifth day the fear would go away and he would relax because he would have judged that as long as he responds correctly there is nothing to fear. On the sixth day he would like himself better and enjoy his new relationship to authority. On the seventh day I would fellowship with him in some activity that he enjoyed. On the eight day he would love me and would make a commitment to always please me because he valued my approval and fellowship. On the ninth day someone would comment that I had the most cheerful and obedient boy that they had ever seen. On the tenth day we would be the best of buddies.

(Note that the quote above was linked to Stockholm Syndrome in an article in Secular Homeschooling Magazine which makes some interesting points.)

In an article called, Training Roseanna’s Flesh, Pearl explains how and why one must control a child at all costs.

For example: a child tries to slide from your lap onto the floor. On most occasions that’s just a way of letting you know where he wants to go. Fine, but there are times when you do not want him to slide to the floor. If your little fourteen-month-old makes an attempt to dismount your lap, and you indicate that you do not want him to, and he makes a protest by jerking away or whining, then by no means can you allow him to intimidate you into compliance. For, by so doing you have allowed the authority to pass to him. You would be encouraging rebellion. YOU MUST ALWAYS BE PERCEIVED TO WIN ANY CONTEST. It is all determined by what the child thinks. If there is a seed of resistance in the child, it must never be allowed to grow. Don’t allow that spirit of rebellion to become profitable.

When the child whines and makes an issue of something that to you was otherwise irrelevant, you must then follow-through, causing the child to do what he did not want to do. This is soul training – character building – sanctification of the natural spirit in your child. This won’t make him a Christian, but it will give him a better character than most Christians possess.

If, during the course of a day, no contest arises naturally, you should arrange one. Seek opportunity to thwart the child’s will, to cause him to submit to your command. If you cause him to surrender his will to you twenty times during the course of a day, he will not disappoint you with disobedience in public. Tell him to stop, sit, don’t speak for five minutes, etc. Play the half-hour “quiet time game,” the half-hour “don’t wiggle and squirm game.” Refuse him a treat when he is wanting it badly. Give it to him only when he is joyously submitted to your timetable. You mustn’t give the appearance of being blindly arbitrary, but always maintain full control. Never allow the child to dictate your actions.

I have found an article on the No Greater Joy site where Mr. Pearl explains some of his different terminology (aka DoubleSpeak) in regard to when a child is Too Young To Spank.  Here is a quote from that page discussing a 6 month old:

So we watch him, knowing his propensity to selfish compulsion. When he seizes his bowl with intentions of dumping it, swat the offending hand with a little instrument (light wooden spoon, rubber spatula, flexible tubing less than a quarter inch in diameter, or any instrument that will cause an unpleasant sting without leaving any marks).

Note: Comments are welcome and I try to reply where appropriate but I reserve the right to delete any and all flames at my discretion.

Zooey’s Arguments

It began with a feeling of uneasiness…..

I started to read what had been described to me as a “Christian book for women”. That seemed OK. I mean, I am a Christian woman. But I rapidly became more & more uncomfortable with what I was reading. There was a coarseness about it that jarred with my understanding of Christianity.
By the time I was only partway through, I was partly nauseous, & partly appalled that this little missive was being passed around in Christian circles. The name of the book was Created To Be His Helpmeet, by Debi Pearl….and not just the book, but Mrs Pearl was appalling me. Her husband’s contributions were even worse.

I was raised in a “ Holiness “ church. I had met all kinds of people with all kinds of convictions, many of which I found odd, but it never crossed my mind that these folks were anything other than genuine Christian people……and now I had my first encounter with the Family Pearl, and I devoutly wished I had never heard of them. Frankly, they scared me to death. And that was before I heard anything about their “child rearing” techniques. I had only one thing to go by: CTBHH. It was enough to send me back into my Bible, trying to find out in what manner these people could possibly have interpreted Scripture, in order to draw such bizarre conclusions from it.

I had been raised to be discerning, especially in the matter of Biblical interpretation. It didn’t take me long to realize that here was a strange  breed: These people were a “Bible-based cult”. I had never heard of such a thing; I had believed that cults were odd sects which clearly departed from the words of my Bible. Now, I was facing a cult that claimed to be rooted in Scripture. How could this be???
I should have remembered World History class. The fact that history was (& is) awash with the names of groups who also claimed to be “true Christians” whilst promoting another gospel—that should have been my tip-off.
It wasn’t. My tip-off was that queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I wish it had been enough. Enough to enlighten me as to how insidious the Pearls & their skewed theology could be. It would take years, & an exposure to more of their poison, before I broke free of my “different people interpret Scripture differently” mentality, long enough to smell the whiff of sulfur that signaled that the Pearls were being inspired, all right; the problem was to awaken to who & what was their inspiration.
But, one thing was clear very early on: This was not the truth. This was not of God. And this was most definitely NOT Christian teaching. This is what the pastors of my childhood would have called “carnality”.

Thus it begins.

What I want to talk about is another book by Mr & Mrs Pearl: “To Train Up A Child”– hereafter, TTUAC.
The Pearls’ teaching flows from their theology. Their theology, that is, determines how they behave. Michael Pearl states that he has been “ teaching and living” a life free of sin.
He claims, that is, to be what my elders in the faith called “sanctified wholly [holy]”. (He spends a lot of time denying this, but it is in print on his own site. He says his position is that of Baptists; I have yet to meet a Baptist who believes this. Not even my grandfather, the Baptist minister’s son, & the Free Methodist local preacher, who surely knew what each believed!!).

Let me begin with what I was afraid might take the most time to find, & turned out to be as easy as calling up my own church’s website, & doing a little minor checking of links:

I am copying & pasting here, from :

Of Sanctification
Sanctification is that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost, received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin; whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power, and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless.
[The following provision was adopted by the Uniting Conference (1939). This statement seeks to interpret to our churches in foreign lands Article XXIII of the Articles of Religion. It is a legislative enactment but is not a part of the Constitution. (See Judicial Council Decisions 41, 176, and Decision 6, Interim Judicial Council.)]

One of MP’s defenses, you see, is that what he believes is standard doctrine in a Christian church. He uses language which might easily lead readers to think that he is teaching the  standard Wesleyan sanctification.
Let’s examine that for a bit:

(A) “that renewal of our fallen nature by the Holy Ghost”.
What does that mean? Well, first, let’s say what it does NOT mean: It does not mean that when, upon salvation through faith, by the grace of God, we become regenerate [are saved; enter into a state of grace; accept Christ as Saviour; etc]. It does NOT mean that we never sin again. It does not mean that we can never sin again. Because look at what it says: “renewal of our fallen nature”.
Now a renewal means that something is made new again; not that it has just become new, but that something occurs after that initial ‘becoming’. My grandfather—would that he were here to explain it; he would surely do better than I!– He called this ‘entire sanctification’, and he knew that it meant something apart from salvation.
I know this for a very good and sufficient reason: He talked about it, studied it, read Wesley, and then…..He decided that as a born-again Christian, he could not claim something that he did not believe.
Which was when, before a gathering of Free Methodists over an area of several states, when he was asked (as every FM pastoral candidate—like UMC candidates—is asked), “Are you expecting to be sanctified wholly in this lifetime?” as part of his proposed ordination as a deacon, he said, after a long pause: “Well, truthfully, NO “ .

It was clearly not his salvation that was in question. Without that, he would have never been a candidate. No, it was something subsequent to salvation: entire sanctification in this lifetime.

(B) “ received through faith in Jesus Christ, whose blood of atonement cleanseth from all sin”
John Wesley did not preach  what has been called “cheap grace”. No, he preached that it is the duty of every Christian to grow, to increase in faith, and to live more and more closely to Jesus Christ so that we may be presented before Him on “That Day”, not with our sins merely “covered over”, but with them washed away, gone, that we may be as holy as we can be, that “we may not be ashamed”.
He & his younger brother Charles and their friends at university were called “The Holy Club” because of their constant striving to be as pleasing to God as was possible in this world. It was a taunt, but they accepted it, & gladly. It was, after all, what they sought to attain.
In time, they would be convinced that they were never to achieve it, and then, one night in Aldersgate Street, John Wesley wrote, “My heart was strangely warmed”, and he realized that as we are saved by the blood of Christ, so are we also:

(C)”whereby we are not only delivered from the guilt of sin, but are washed from its pollution, saved from its power”. We are not able to make ourselves holy any more than we are able to make ourselves regenerate. It is Christ, & Christ alone Who can make us live holy lives. It is to God alone that the glory for sanctification is due. And then we :
(D) “and are enabled, through grace, to love God with all our hearts and to walk in his holy commandments blameless”.
And it is here is where the Pearls go terribly, terribly wrong. Here is where they lose all touch with  sound Christian doctrine. Because they teach that the “rod” which they call for using on children can cleanse from guilt. Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary can do that. Anyone who says otherwise is teaching another ‘gospel’, as the Apostle Paul warned us, and said of such a teacher, “ If we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, if anyone preaches another gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed”. (Galations 1: 8-9).
I am not a theologian. I have never pretended to be.
But when my Bible says, twice in as many verses, that anyone who preaches anything other than “Jesus Christ and him crucified”, that that teacher is a false teacher; and that such a teacher is to be accursed–
When that happens, I say, I am fearful. And I put down that book, TTUAC, and I put down Mrs Pearl, & I put down NGJ Ministries, and I stand well back from it, and from every word that comes out of the Pearls’ mouths and pens.
Because I remember also what Paul said, of himself, that he prayed “lest [he] should be a castaway”. Michael Pearl, & NGJ has claimed for a piece of wood (or perhaps even more bizarrely, for a piece of rubber hose) what the Bible claims only, ONLY for Christ Himself, & Him crucified.
This is serious business, folks. This is not a small matter. He who is not with the crucified Christ is not with us; is not of us. And there are only two positions where we can stand:
We can stand with Jesus Christ. Or we can fight against him.
When it comes to a choice between Michael  & Debi Pearl’s TTUAC (& the rest of their writings), and the One With the Nail-Scarred Hands….For me there is no choice. I will stick with the Christ who suffered & died for me.
Whose side are you on??

– Zooey

Amy’s Arguments

  • The philosophical underpinnings of these kinds of “Christian” behaviour “training” models do not sit well with biblical theology.

    The more I read about Ezzo and Pearl’s behaviour modification techniques the more I am reminded of Behaviouristic psychology (the works of Skinner, Watson, Pavlov etc)

    Fundamentally, behavioural psychology advocates the use operant/classical conditioning for behaviour modification (neg or pos reinforcement and the pleasure/avoidance stimulus responses they entail).

    From a purely pragmatic standpoint these often demonstratably work – they get results…for example,

    I see the needle + it causes me pain
    I avoid needles

    I eat chocolate = I feel good
    In order to feel good, I eat chocolate, lol

    …but the understanding of human nature behind it is disturbing from a Christian standpoint.

    At the roots of Behaviourism are a worldview that totally denies that people have

    (a) real emotions (such as love, grief, hatred etc.) our internal states are just a sum of the internal processing of our external behaviour, conditioned according to stimulus response

    (b) personality preferences (unless they’ve been ‘shaped’ through outside behavioural control)

    (c) a moral conscience – people simply learn to “react” and “behave” [so much for God’s laws being written on our hearts and minds…]

    (d) original thoughts/ideas – including the ‘big ideas’ like truth and beauty AND God

    (e) self determination or internal self control [just behaviour patterns that have conformed to external reward/punishment patterns]

    (f) a soul (this is ‘superstition’ which we have been conditioned to believe for purposes of social control or it gratifies some conditioned response)

    OK, so I’ve said that in practise operant/classical conditioning works – we all use it whenever we praise our children for doing something good…but to RELY on punishment/reward for behaviour modification or use it as a sole means of teaching/training a child?

    What a naive and Godless conception of what it is to be a human! Methinks of that song lyric – ‘Despite all my rage, I am still but a rat in a cage!” – Amy in Australia

Danielle’s arguments

“What is “wrong”, IMO, about going strictly from a training point-of-view is that children are *NOT* dogs, mules, mice, etc. (Some could pointedly argue you don’t even need to train dogs with all this “pain”.) There is a future. We do not just need our children to be manageable *today*, we hopefully want them to be emotionally healthy adults. Training children to be hopelessly submissive, no matter what, also trains them to be hopelessly submissive, no matter what, as adults. (I speak from experience; this is a very difficult “training” to rectify.)

Training children not to touch anything, for example, trains them to be apathetic about their surroundings and/or to believe they have no personal rights to enjoy their surroundings.

Training children to drop everything the instant they are called trains them to be people-pleasers who, as adults, will be constantly taken advantage of by more domineering people.

Training children that you love and smile at them while you inflict pain on them trains them that people who profess to “love” you also injure you, disrespect you and care nothing for your opinion or feelings. Children who grow up like this become adults who allow themselves to be abused – physically, emotionally, verbally.

Children trained never to “talk back” become adults who cannot express their opinion. Again, they “have” to please others to be loved.” – Danielle

Kathy Thile’s Arguments

“The Pearls believe that training is a separate thing from teaching and discipline. They start very early using a switch to inflict pain…to train babies to avoid things the parent wants the baby to avoid…just like a behavioral psychologist might use electric shocks and rewards to train rats to navigate a maze.

In my opinion it is repugnant and unbiblical because babies are human beings, made in the image of God, endowed by Him with far more mental and spiritual and emotional equipment and innate worth than animals have been given. In recognition of that, we glorify and respect God’s creation by dealing with human beings in accordance with these higher abilities–and that includes all human beings. Babies. The elderly. Prisoners. Slaves. The handicapped.

I don’t think the Bible is referring to behavioristic animal-style training when the word “train” is used (as in “train up a child in the way he should go”). The Pearls don’t make much of a biblical argument for their methods (unlike the Ezzos), but that one is certainly implied by the title of their book, and as I say, I just don’t think it’s supported by the Bible.”

Kathy Thile

Linda V’s Arguments

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6  KJV

Train [Or Start ] a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV

It has come to my attention that many Christian parents have interpreted the above verse to mean that they must train infants and young children in the way one might train an animal.  I believe that this interpretation is not correct.  I base this conclusion on the following study:

The Hebrew word which is translated as “Train” in Proverbs 22:6 is kha-nokh. When I cut and paste the real Hebrew חנך into the Hebrew-English Dictionary, it shows these words “to guide, to tutor, to educate ; (biblical) to teach” as well as “to inaugurate, to dedicate, to consecrate” as the NIV translation mentions.  You can try it for yourself using the links I provided.

In the same verse, “Child” is Na-ar, נַּעַר which translates as “youth, youngster, adolescent ; (law) minor; (biblical) servant, armsbearer.”  This word can be used for infants, or very young children but is more often used for youth, adolescents and adults.  It is clear to me that everything in the Bible which refers to discipline is referring to youth, adolescents and adults.

For a more in depth look at these verses, please see this study as well as this one.

I am also deeply concerned about the concept that we have a right to control a child’s heart.  Insisting that they always obey with a “happy heart” only teaches them to hide their true feelings.  Michael Pearl says, “If a child shows the least displeasure in response to a command or duty, it should be addressed as disobedience.”  Since he teaches to correct all disobedience with the rod, it is obvious that he is saying to switch the child until they are showing nothing but happiness.  He promises that switching the child will produce a happy child and demonstrates it with countless anecdotes.  It seems obvious to many readers of these stories that the child has no choice but to act happy, as any other show of emotion only means more switching. For more about hearts see Jo’s arguments.



Linda V.