I do not like to be branded by others in any way. When it happens, those who brand you seem never to allow that your opinion may differ every so slightly from the brand with which you have been labeled. However, when writing on biblical matters, being branded theologically is eventually a given, so I'll pigeon-hole myself to save speculation and perhaps error in trying to determine the theological background against which this document is being written.
I am a Pauline Dispensationalist, believing that the Church and Church Age began in Acts 2. This form of Pauline Dispensationalism is distinguished from other forms of Pauline Dispensationalism that teaches that the Church and Church Age began later in the Book of Acts. Miles Stanford is one man who has written extensively from the Acts 2 Pauline Dispensational viewpoint. Many of his writings, including his books, can be accessed on his web site: http://withchrist.org/MJS/.
"It is absolutely essential for the believer to learn the scriptural difference between his relationship to earth and heaven, the flesh and the Spirit, Judaism and Christianity. Only from the Pauline epistles will the Holy Spirit minister this Christian truth to him. Then, when established and hid with Christ in God, he can be ministered to by the remainder of the Word without being drawn from his position in Christ, who is his life." --Miles J. Stanford
My thesis in this booklet is as follows:
There is no scriptural authority to employ any form of punishment, including corporal punishment, to bring about a change in a person's behavior, including a child's behavior, during the Church Age.
From an Acts 2 Pauline Dispensational viewpoint, the Scriptures that set the Church Age boundaries are Acts 2 and Revelation 3. Acts 2:1 initiates the Church Age and Revelation 3:22 concludes the Church Age. Between Acts 2:1 and Revelation 3:22 these Scriptures set forth Church Age information. Brethren, we are living in the Church Age right now.
While it may not be deemed journalistically appropriate to write in the first person, there are occasions when I will do so throughout this booklet. So far away from God's plan is the modern-day practice of dealing with disruptive behavior that my desire is to set my thoughts apart from all others to make clear what is being stated by whom and what is being believed by whom.
It is my opinion that the Responsible Thinking Process (RTP) based upon the Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) is the method of choice in dealing with disruptive behavior in any environment, and that both PCT and RTP are biblically based concepts. RTP rejects any form of punishment as the means of changing any form of behavior that interrupts the freedom of another person's attempt to reach his own internalized goal.
This booklet is divided into three sections: 1) PCT and the Bible; 2) RTP and the Bible; and 3) Punishment vs. Discipline. In section 1, I will develop what I believe to be a connection between PCT and the Bible, followed by a list of principles related to PCT. In section 2, I will develop what I believe to be a connection between RTP and the Bible, followed by a list of principles related to RTP. Section 3 will support the notion that punishment was never biblically authorized as a method to change disruptive behavior. In fact, I believe that PCT and RTP are both biblically based concepts, and that RTP based upon PCT is the method of choice when dealing with disruptive behavior in any environment.
It is not the intent of this booklet to teach PCT or RTP. The authorities on these two subjects are respectively Bill Powers and Ed Ford. My intent is to demonstrate that God's plan for the human race never intended punishment far anything other than justice, and that RTP is the one process that is consistent with Scripture when dealing with disruptive behavior.
Throughout Church history, major doctrines have become lost from church practice only to be rediscovered at some later date. It is my opinion that discipline as the method of dealing with disruptive behavior has been lost from both secular and church practice throughout my lifetime, dating back seven decades, but has been rediscovered by Mr. Ed Ford who was encouraged by the work of William T. Powers who developed PCT that became the foundation from which RTP was launched.
I first became aware of RTP in 1997 after I established the John T. Goad Christian School (JTGCS) as a ministry associated with my pastorate at the Bible Doctrine Church of Little Rock. With children enrolled in K5 through grade 12, for the next seven years, RTP was the method used to deal with disruptive behavior in the school. From the time RTP began to be employed, disruptive behavior virtually diminished to the point of rarity, and it became clear that both students and teachers were happier.
Because of the success resulting from the use of RTP at the JTGCS, its use has been extended into some Christian youth camp arenas in which I've been involved. Its measure of success in these arenas has been directly related to camp leaders who refuse to modify the responsible thinking process. Any desire for modification is usually related to a "perceptual-hangover" from past punishment practices. It's the old "that's the way I was raised, and I didn't turn out all that bad" syndrome that assumes erroneously that God is honored by obedience without considering the motivation behind that obedience. God is honored only by that form of obedience that stems from doing the right thing in the right way and for the right reason. Where an unmodified RTP has been practiced, parents began to seek counsel regarding the possible use of RTP in their homes. In every environment where RTP has been consistently practiced, the results have been magnificent. Rules and operational procedures were established; children were granted freedom of choice; the consequence for rule or procedure violation was carried out; disruptive behavior diminished; and the goals for which each environment had been established were reached with a minimum of disruptive behavior. The net result -- everyone involved was happier - thanks to RTP based upon PCT.
My prayer is that all who read this booklet will prayerfully consider its content and become persuaded that discipline rather than punishment is the biblical means of dealing with disruptive behavior. Punishment is out, and discipline is in. May God our heavenly Father grant that this booklet bring honor and glory to Himself whose heart is filled with joy when His plan is obediently followed by His children.
There are many people who have made significant contribution to my Christian life, but the most recent person is Ed Ford. From him I have learned to set aside punishment as the means of dealing with disruptive behavior in favor of RTP. He has strongly encouraged me to place my thoughts about the connection between PCT and RTP and the Bible in writing. Without his encouragement, this booklet may never have been written.
Although I have never personally met Mr. William T. Powers, I want to thank him for his dedication to control theory that led him to develop the perceptual control theory that provided the platform for Ed Ford to develop RTP.
Credit for everything that relates to PCT and RTP in this booklet must go to Bill Powers and Ed Ford. My contribution is only to have taken what I have hopefully learned from each of them and then attempt to show that both PCT and RTP have a biblical foundation.
I want to dedicate this booklet to Janet, my wife of 50 years, who married a sailor turned preacher. She has given of herself in support of my ministry over the past 44 years in ways too numerous to chronicle. Without her love, her support, and her own dedication to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this booklet would never have been written. Her words constantly ring in my ears - "What's next?" My answer should be, "More quality time with you my love."
PCT AND THE BIBLE
The Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) developed by Mr. William T. Powers is said to be a theory founded in the belief that human beings are organized to self-control. There are six definitions for the word "theory" listed on http://www.m-w.com/, Merriam-Webster On-Line.
1: the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another;
2: abstract thought: SPECULATION;
3: the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art <music theory>;
4a: a belief, policy, or procedure proposed or followed as the basis of action <her method is based on the theory that all children want to learn>
4b: an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances -- often used in the phrase in theory <in theory, we have always advocated freedom for all>;
5: a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena <wave theory of light>;
6a: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation;
6b: an unproved assumption: CONJECTURE;
6c: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject <theory of equations>.
Take your choice. How would you define PCT as a theory. Would you choose definition 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6? I won't choose any of the above because it is my opinion that PCT is not a theory. It is a principle of life decreed by God the Father in eternity past and revealed as such in Holy Scripture. It can be said, then, that perceptual control is the belief that man was created by God to control himself. He is designed for self-control rather than control by someone else. Self-control can only be self-control if a person is in control of his own life. Self-control must mean just that -- self-control!
Self-control implies freedom of choice. It doesn't determine the nature of a person's choices, good or bad, right or wrong. It determines only that an individual is free to choose. If anyone or anything limits a person's choices, whether good or bad, right or wrong, then freedom to choose and self-control have been turned over to another source.
God has created man to control himself with freedom to choose right or wrong, good or bad. I'll use the term volition to denote freedom of choice. Volition is one of man's five soul characteristics: self-consciousness, mentality, volition, emotion, and conscience. It is sometimes referred to as the decider of the soul. Volition has a positive pole and a negative pole. The positive pole is used to make choices that are deemed to be right or good. The negative pole is used to make choices that are deemed to be wrong or bad. The fact that right and wrong and good and bad are relative terms in the minds of some, I accept and acknowledge the existence of absolutes. This implies that whatever constitutes God's truth in any period of human history, good and bad, right and wrong are distinguished from one another by comparing what is said to be right or wrong, good or bad with God's divinely revealed standards. To force man into right choices destroys the very nature of volition. To deny man wrong choices also destroys the very nature of volition. If volition is tampered with in any way, freedom of choice as man's God-given right to self-control is destroyed.
Man's God-given right to self-control is first evidenced in the Garden of Eden when the divine prohibition was introduced in Genesis 2:16-17 "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Properly translated from Hebrew into English, the latter part of this verse should read, " . . . dying thou shalt die." The word "dying" refers to spiritual death which is defined as separation from God in time, not eternity, that is, separation from God while physically alive. The phrase "shalt die" is a reference to physical death.
With this divine prohibition, man was given choices-obedience or disobedience. So, under the principle of self-control, man in the Garden of Eden chose disobedience and suffered the immediate consequence of spiritual death which is tantamount to separation from God in time, that is, while he is physically alive.
The word "whosover" is used 183 times in 163 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. Each "whosoever" recognizes a person's prerogative to control his own destiny through personal choices. This is tantamount to self-control.
The language of the New Testament is basically Koine Greek, and there are four conditional uses of the word "if" in the Greek language. The first class condition says, "If, and it's true." The second class condition says, "If, and it's not true." The fourth class condition says, "If, I wish it were true, but it's not." The third class condition says, "If, maybe you will, and maybe you won't." This third class condition recognizes the God-given right of self-control. Man rightfully says, "I'm in control. I'll decide whether I will or won't. I'm the captain of my own ship."
As has been demonstrated in this chapter, the Bible confirms that PCT is not a theory, but a fact, decreed by God in eternity past. PCT says that man is the captain of his own ship, and the Bible indicates that man is the captain of his own ship. Volition is the issue. It is an issue throughout the entire Bible. Volition means freedom of choice. Freedom of choice implies self-control, and self-control is a basic tenet of the Perceptual Control Theory (PCT). Since volition, self-control, and freedom of choice have been decreed by God, and His decrees are revealed in the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, there should be no doubt that PCT finds its source in the divine decrees. If these relationships can be confirmed, and they can, it only remains to be said, "CASE CLOSED." PCT is biblically based and the concept has been decreed by God from eternity past.
When a man like William T. Powers discovers a concept such as PCT, it can only be stated that he has discovered the faithfulness of God as that faithfulness relates to His divine decrees. The concept was decreed whether discovered or not, but when discovery occurs, man has only discovered what God has decreed.
The principles associated with PCT will demonstrate how we as human beings try to achieve what we want by behaving in ways to change our perceptions until those perceptions match our internalized goals. An understanding of PCT will help us to see how little we can know what is actually going on in the mind of another human being. We only think that we know what another person is thinking, and to be occasionally right does not negate the notion that we cannot actually know what is going on in another person's mind.
Consider the following principles associated with PCT, none of which transgress a single biblical principle, promise, doctrine, technique, or rule for living the Christian way of life.
Some Principles Associated with the Perceptual Control Concept
Before we undertake a study of some principles associated with the perceptual control theory, we should become familiar with some terminology and understand a formula that I have constructed. These terms and the formula will be integrated into the principles in an endeavor to clarify them for our use in RTP.
First, there are three terms to keep in mind when reading the following principles: want, behavior, and perception. The word "want" refers to a goal, an objective being sought. The word "behavior" refers to something you do to get what you want. The word "perception" refers to an understanding of whether or not you are getting what you want by doing what you are doing. These three words will be used with the examples associated with ensuing principles.
I devised the following formula that I thought would simplistically explain the Perceptual Control Theory (PCT) behind RTP. I sent that formula Ed Ford for his consideration. He then forwarded it to Bill Powers. My formula looked like this: W + P = B. Bill Powers responded by e-mail to me with a very kind and generous reply. His formula that amended mine follows in the next paragraph. (My grandfather would have said of my formula: "Close, but no cigar!")
Second, keep this formula in mind: want minus perception leads to a loop between behavior and perception (W - P => B =>P . . . ) until perception and want become equal (P = W).
The formula, (W - P => B => P . . . ), should be understood in the following manner:
W = want or goal (this is what you want to perceive; a perceptual want)
P = perception (this is what you actually perceive; an actual perception)
B = behavior (what you do to get what you want)
- (a minus sign) represents the difference between actual perception and perceptual want
=> (an arrow) means "leads to or results in"
. . . represents the loop between behavior and perception until P = B.
Here's some additional help with understanding the formula (W - P => B):
P ¹ W indicates a difference between want and perception, a yet unsatisfied want (W-P)
P = W indicates that want equals perception, that is, want satisfied (W=P)
Let's illustrate and insert formula symbols into the illustration. Let's say that "little Johnnie" wants a cookie (W). He knows that he doesn't have what he wants (P ¹ W). So, he reaches out (B), places his hand in the cookie jar (B), and retrieves a cookie (B). Now, his perception equals his want (P = W) - he has the cookie that he wanted. Note that when "little Johnnie" wanted (W) a cookie, his behavior (B) swung into action, and he goes through a series of actions (B) to get that cookie (W). His focus was not on what he was doing (B), namely, reaching out (B), placing his hand in the cookie jar (B), and retrieving the cookie (B). His focus was on his perception (P) of how well reaching toward the cookie jar (B), placing his hand in the cookie jar (B), and retrieving the cookie (B) was getting him what he wanted (W). His behavior (B) is simply the means by which he CONTROLS his perception (P). Please, understand what I have just said. That's why it's called "perceptual control." Why? Because his behavior (B) is controlling his perception (P). His perception (P) will tell him how well he thinks his behavior (B) is doing, that is, how well reaching toward the cookie jar (B) and placing his hand in the cookie jar (B), is doing toward retrieving the cookie (B) that he wants (W). The - sign in the formula W - P => B represents the difference between what "little Johnnie" wants and his perception of whether or not he has what he wants. His perception (P) is that he either has the cookie that he wants (P = W) or he does not have the cookie that he wants (P ¹ W). The => sign in the formula W - P => B indicates that the difference between what "little Johnnie" wants and what he actually has leads him to behavioral action to get rid of that difference. If little Johnnie's perception (P) is that he doesn't have the cookie that he wants (P ¹ W), he will behave (B) in such a manner as to eliminate the difference between perception (P) and want (W). As long as there remains a difference between "little Johnnie's" perception and want (P ¹ W), he will continually (herein lies the looping factor) change his behavior (B) until his perception (P) equals his want (P = W). For example, if he reaches out, but the cookie jar is out of his reach, his perception will be that his goal is unattainable, so he will alter his behavior (B). How? He may ask (B) that his mother hand him the cookie. However, if she says "No," and he still wants (W) the cookie, he may wait until she turns her back, drag a chair up beside the cookie jar (B), reach into the cookie jar (B), and retrieve the cookie (P = W). If all of "little Johnnie's" behavioral actions (B) are unable to eliminate the difference between his perception (P) and his want (W), he may view his want (W) as unattainable and cease all behavioral (B) attempts to satisfy his want (W), or he may modify his want (W) until he thinks it is attainable.
Behavior is learned, and when a human being has a want, either by watching others or just by trial and error, he learns what it takes to get what he wants. Early in a child's development, before he acts, he may have to give some thought to what he must do to get what he wants. However, after the act is learned and becomes habitual, his focus will turn to perception, not behavior. This fact is important to our coming to grips with the perceptual control theory. Learn it. As a little child is growing, he will focus on "what do I have to DO to get what I want," but after he has learned what he has to DO to get what he wants, his focus will no longer be on what he has to DO - he's learned that - now his focus will turn to his perception of whether what he is doing is getting him what he wants.
Let's now examine some principles associated with what is known as the perceptual control theory.
1. A human being chooses how he acts to get what he wants.
A human being chooses how he acts (B) to get what he wants (W).
Example: If I choose to put my hand in the cookie jar, I can retrieve a cookie.
2. A human being controls his perceptions, not his behavioral actions.
A human being controls his perceptions (P), not his behavioral actions (B).
Example: A child "wants" a cookie. He perceives that he doesn't have one in hand, so he chooses to ask his mother for a cookie. She refuses to give him a cookie, so he chooses to change his behavior. He chooses to wait until her back is turned, and then he reaches for the cookie jar. He perceives that this behavior has brought him closer to getting the cookie than before, but mother turns around and stops him. He now chooses to change his behavior again. This calls for a more drastic measure. He decides to flop on the floor and throw a tantrum. By this time, mother's patience have run-out, so she gives in and hands him a cookie. His perception now equals his want. The difference between perception and want has finally been eliminated. He perceives that he has the cookie that he wanted. The child's behavioral actions, in each instance were controlling his perception. At first, he perceived he didn't have what he wanted so he asked. Second, he perceived that he was closer to getting the cookie when he moved his hand toward the cookie jar. Third, he perceived that he had the cookie when his mother handed him one. Remember, the child's behavior controlled his perception.
Important point: Perceptual control does not mean that perception is controlling anything. Perceptual control means that something, namely, behavior, is used to control one's perceptions. This point is crucial to our understanding, and until this meaning of perceptual control is understood, neither PCT nor RTP will make any sense.
3. A human being is aware of the perceptions he controls, but he may be unaware of the specific actions by which he controls those perceptions.
A human being is aware of the perceptions (P) he controls, but he may be unaware of the specific actions (B) by which he controls those perceptions (P).
Example: While driving down the highway, your purpose is to keep the car between the lines. If a strong gust of wind blows against the side of your car causing it to veer toward the road's shoulder, you, as the driver, immediately react by turning the steering wheel to make an adjustment to bring the car back between the lines. Your adjustment is associated with your perception of the position of your car in relation to the lines between which you should be driving. Your specific action (behavior) of turning the steering wheel was to correct the difference between your goal - keep the car between the white lines - and your perception that your car is headed for the ditch. The point: your attention was on where your car was in relationship to the lines between which you should be driving (your perception). Your attention was not on how much or which way you should be turning the steering wheel (your behavior/action).
4. When asked, "What are you doing?" the person being asked usually describes the perception he is controlling, not his behavioral action.
When asked, "What are you doing?" (B) the person being asked usually describes the perception (P) he is controlling, not his behavioral action (B).
Example: Suppose a student is running down the hallway in violation of a "no running in the building" rule. He is running in an attempt to not be late for class. When the hallway monitor asks the student, "What are you doing?" he will usually respond by describing his perception -- "I'm trying to get to class on time because I'm about to be late," rather than describing his action -- "I'm running in the building in violation of the rule." In response to the hallway monitor's question, the student responded with his perception - he was too far away from his next classroom to arrive before the tardy bell rang. Had he focused on his behavior, he would have responded with, "I'm running in the hallway in violation of the rule."
I believe that this type of response is natural - not malicious. It is the way we as human beings think. It's the way fallen man thinks - he describes his perceptions, not his actions; and this leads to the next point.
5. The person who asked, "What are you doing?" may be confused by the response since we most often describe what we are trying to control, not how we are going about it.
The person who asked, [ in our previous illustration - the hallway monitor ] "What are you doing?" (B) may be confused by the [ student's ] response since we [ human beings ] most often describe what we [ human beings ] are trying to control [ our perception ], not how we are going about it (B).
Example: Suppose you as a parent have established the following rule for your children: No cookies one hour before meals. Further suppose that you discover your child chewing on a cookie thirty minutes before meal time. You ask, "What are you doing?" and your child responds with his perception: "I have a sweet-tooth and I'm satisfying it." This response may confuse you. You expected him to focus on his behavior that was in violation of an established rule: "I'm eating a cookie in violation of the rule." Your confusion will be eliminated just as soon as you learn and apply Principle #4.
Be aware that a perception response rather than a behavior response is not limited to teenagers and adults. Pause long enough to listen to even the youngest of children. This will help you to understand that this response is natural, not well-thought out beforehand, but so natural that even our youngest children will respond in this way.
6. A person can only see the behavioral actions being used by another person to control his perceptions.
A person (person A) can only see the behavioral actions (B) being used by another person (person B) to control his (person B's) perceptions (P).
Example: Person A, is the parent father who has established a rule that his daughter (person B) cannot make phone calls after 9 PM. At 9:30 PM, the father observes the daughter using her cell phone. The father begins to rebuke his daughter because his perception is that she is talking to a friend. Why not? That's what she has done nightly until he established the rule. Upon receiving the rebuke, the daughter informed her father that this was an emergency medical phone call. Her mother was lying unconscious on the floor. The father was seeing his daughter's behavior, but he could not see her perception, namely, that her mother was lying unconscious on the floor.
Until this principle is learned by persons in positions of authority, the observed behavior of others may be grossly misunderstood until the perception leading to that behavior is disclosed. Persons in positions of authority should not assume that they know why another person is doing what he is doing.
7. Since one person may not know what is being perceived by another person, he sees only the behavioral actions being used by the other person to control his perceptions.
Since one person (Person A) may not know what is being perceived (P) by another person (Person B), he (Person A) sees only the behavioral actions (B) being used by the other person (Person B) to control his (Person B) perceptions (P).
Example: Using our previous example, the father did not know his daughter's perception, namely, that her mother was lying unconscious on the floor. What he saw was his daughter talking on the phone in violation of an established rule.
Rarely do persons in positions of authority stop long enough to ask themselves the question, "I wonder what's going on that person's head?" The immediate reaction of authority figures is to jump on the behavior being observed.
8. While a person sees what another person is doing, he does not see what the other person is perceiving.
While a person (person A) sees what another person (person B) is doing (B), he (person A) does not see what the other person (person B) is perceiving (P).
Example: Again using the previous example, the father saw the daughter making a phone call, but he did not initially see that his daughter was making an emergency phone call in the interest of his wife and her mother.
9. A person's actions may produce unintended consequences.
A person's actions (B) may produce unintended consequences.
Example: Suppose there is a rule that states "No Horseplay." Further suppose that you are called to the scene of an accident where a child is laying unconscious. After you ask what happened, you get this response: "I didn't mean for him to get hurt (the unintended consequence). We were just playing around. I was carrying him by his feet over my back. My hand slipped, and he fell and hit his head on the floor. I'm scared. Do you th