Doug Phillips: Peace Maker or Truth Silencer?

02-07-13-saicff-beallOne year ago, the theme of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival seemed to be “Defending the Defenseless.”  This festival came only days on the heels of Doug Phillips being found in a compromising position with “Cassandra” and the subsequent sudden departure of her family from the beloved church they had attended for nearly thirteen years.  Putting women and children first, and defending the defenseless, seemed to be the farthest thing from Doug Phillips’ mind as he stood front and center on the stage and continued to hide his deep, dark secrets from his adoring fans. At that time, no one knew he had quietly stepped down as elder, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.  The reality is that he probably turned on the charm in order to save his marriage after having been caught.  He waited until after the film festival to “confess” his sins to Bob Sarratt, the only other elder at BCA, a “yes man” who was very good at keeping Doug’s sins secret for the next nine months.

saicff postponedWhen Vision Forum Ministries announced online last October that the 9th annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival was first postponed, and then cancelled, it sparked waves of confusion and frustration for the filmmakers and their families who had worked so diligently to meet the film submission deadline which was only days away.  Rather than emailing those on the SAICFF list and telling them of the postponement and cancellation, and with absolutely no explanation of why Vision Forum Ministries’ most popular annual event was being suddenly dropped at the last moment, the grapevine soon became the de facto form of communication within this small, but tightly knit, troop of independent Christian film makers.  One by one, they contacted each other in utter disbelief: “How could this happen?  We just spent the last year of our lives working on making another film, and now what?”

Ten days later, when Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, it began to make some sense.  But did it really?  Or did it actually cause more questions and more confusion?  After all, according to World Magazine’s April 5, 2014 cover story article about Doug Phillips, the five men who confronted Doug Phillips on his doorstep did so the day before he resigned, which was October 30, 2013.  If that is true, why did Vision Forum cancel the film festival ten days prior to Doug being confronted?  I’m guessing there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye, including why Scott Brown knew, at the latest, by September 9, 2013, and still allowed Doug Phillips to continue on with his duties as normal.

At this exact same time, a pastor in Illinois, Philip Telfer, was moving his family down to the San Antonio area to become the new pastor at Living Water Fellowship, which is Little Bear Wheeler’s church in the “community” here.  Although Pastor Telfer had gone to a couple of the film festivals put on by Vision Forum and submitted a couple films himself, he had no interest in patriarchy whatsoever.  Coming from an inner-city youth ministry in Chicago, patriarchy was a totally foreign concept to Pastor Telfer. Like so many other filmmakers and individuals who were just there to observe, they attended Vision Forum’s San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival simply because it was the only game in town for Christian films.

Not desiring all that work and talent to be wasted and discouraged, Pastor Telfer naively thought that it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together a new film festival for everyone who was already expecting one, so he went to Little Bear with his idea of simply providing an avenue for a film festival.  In his mind, he just needed to find a venue, pick a date relatively close to the original date, and organize it.  Little Bear thought he was nuts!  He had no idea of the politics behind Doug Phillips’ resignation and that he would now be painting a large target on his back for stepping on such sacred ground.  Not to be daunted, however, Pastor Telfer set out to provide a safe place for Christian filmmakers to gather and continue their annual film festival traditions.

CWFFWhen I first heard of this initiative, I was a bit dubious.  What were his real motives?  Is this just another ministry rising up to promote more patriarchy?  Is this man trying to make a name for himself on someone else’s coattails?  The only thing I knew about him was that one of our mutual friends was in ministry together with Pastor Telfer, in a ministry called Media Talk 101.  That was encouraging enough to me to check it out since I knew my friend, a humble man who dearly loves the Lord, was definitely not into patriarchy, although he is a godly family man.  I considered attending the new Christian Worldview Film Festival, held March 11-15, 2014, but I wasn’t really interested in just being a spy.  That didn’t seem like a good idea, so I thought about it for a long time.

I have been going to school for quite a while now to become a certified health coach and my area of emphasis is in learning how to help people who are going through traumatic events, or who have not healed from the stress and trauma and pain of past events in life.  Not only have I experienced much trauma and pain from the excommunication and all the aftermath from that, especially with my children, but I have also experienced a tremendous amount of agonizing and heartbreaking ordeals and upheavals in the last decade or so.  God has taught me many ways to not only handle the stress and emotion and pain that accompany these difficulties in life, but also how to bring about the level of healing that actually makes me stronger and a much better person because of attending the University of Hard Knocks.

With Doug Phillips’ resignation came a mass of chaos, confusion, pain, and deep wounds within the “community,” both local and nationwide.  Even many of those who thought they had finally put their differences with Doug Phillips in the past and had moved forward in life suddenly found themselves looking hurt in the mirror one more time.  And it was very confusing.  As TW Eston and I continued to write articles here after Doug’s resignation, the comments, both here and elsewhere, were filled with, first, denial, then anger accompanied by deep hurt.  In any grieving process, these two are the first stages of how we respond emotionally in any situation where we have loss.  Bargaining and depression are the next stages before finally coming to terms with accepting the loss.  For some, going through these five stages of grieving happens very rapidly, but for others, it takes a very long period of time, while there are many who never reach the last stage of acceptance, allowing one to move forward in life.  When we “bury” our feelings and emotions from a hurtful experience in life, we find ourselves stuck somewhere in this grieving process, unable to truly move forward freely in life.  Others remain in the anger stage forever.

Telling my story online seven years ago was a cathartic process for me, and for those who followed along, many saw me go through these stages right in this blog.  I am grateful that God brought me through the grieving process to the healing point of acceptance so that I could move forward in my own life, partly because I was able to respond to this whole recent debacle without personally involving myself the way I did the first time around.  This allowed me to be much more objective.  It also allowed me to be able to empathize with those who just had the rug pulled out from underneath them.  I have read the comments and followed the conversations here and there, both online and in real life, with greater insight and compassion.

Healing from emotional pain is one of the life’s most transforming events ever.  It is more powerful than the initial trauma.  So, as I considered whether or not I should attend this year’s new Christian film festival, I realized that what I most wanted to do was to help bring healing to a hurting community.  How could I do that?  I decided to sign up as a volunteer and see what happened.  Although I could have used a fake name to get in the door, I knew that if I was going to bring healing to this hurting community that I needed to be just me, so I signed up online with my real name.  When the volunteer coordinator called me to talk to me about volunteering, I was surprised to find that she also attended BCA, but I was just going to go with the flow here, since my only goal was to bring healing to a hurting community. After we talked, she decided to have me “manage” the registration desk for the majority of the film festival.  That meant that my face would be the first one everyone saw when they entered the front door.  I knew I could use this opportunity for good!

With less than two days to go before the film festival began, I got the phone call.  I’ve heard this so many times before.  I either get a letter, an email, or a phone call, but they all say pretty much the same thing:  “Don’t ever darken the doors here again.”  I was fully prepared for the fact that this may be just another door slammed in my face, but when Philip Telfer called me to tell me that someone had emailed him, concerned about what might happen if I showed up at the film festival, I was pleasantly surprised when, instead, he asked me to have dinner with him and his wife that evening.  I knew they were super busy getting ready for the film festival, so I was honored that he would give me his time and give me the opportunity to speak for myself.  I found both Pastor Telfer and his wife to be wonderful people, and we easily fell into much laughter and a delightful conversation together!  It turned out that we both had the same goals in this film festival:  to bring healing to a hurting community.

HEROI am happy to report that the first annual Christian Worldview Film Festival was drama-free.  There was no idol who everyone was clamoring to see, but rather a servant-leader who was not only available whenever he was needed, but also just milled about and interacted with everyone in attendance.  If there was a mafia dressed in black, packing pieces, I did not see them.  What I did see were hundreds of happy people, excited to see old friends again, enjoying all the workshops, films, and special events that filled the week!  And I enjoyed being there to greet every single person each day.  As I saw those I had not seen in 8-10 years, I attempted to go out of my way to give each one of them a hug.  My goal was to hug every person I knew from my days in the “community.”  But what I found instead was that most of those who I had not seen in a long time were the first to want to give me a hug instead!  There was even one family that currently attends BCA who wanted to hug me.  Although I was not wearing a name tag, apparently, there were some who recognized my picture from online and came up to speak to me.  One lady, upon confirming who I was, gave me a big hug and just said, “Thank you!” with tears in her eyes. One small step for healing, one giant leap for the “community.”

I really did have a wonderful time there.  There were a few conversations about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, but for the most part, these people were here to focus on moving forward, not looking backward.  I went to a few films.  I really enjoyed a couple, like Hero and Creed of Gold.  There were a few I didn’t care for as well, but for me, that was not the main point.  I also attended a lecture by Rich Christiano because I heard he was controversial.  I wanted to hear that for myself. It was sad to see that certain young filmmakers did not show up, simply because it was not organized by Vision Forum.

Imagine the irony, then, of coming off the high of the first step toward healing, the first step toward making peace in this hurting “community,” of finding out in World’s article that Doug Phillips sent a letter, through his attorney, of course, threatening to sue three of the men who showed up on his doorstep that fateful day in October, 2013.  This letter was mailed March 13, 2014, right smack in the middle of the Christian Worldview Film Festival.  While many of us were working to bringing healing to a hurting community, Doug Phillips, obviously hurting himself that he was not the star of the show this year, was busy stirring up strife instead. The letter to Bob Renaud and Peter Bradrick (Doug Phillips’ former personal assistants) and Jordan Muela (former intern/VF employee) stated, in part: “the three of you have conspired together, and with others, in an attempt to destroy Doug Phillips, his family and Vision Forum Inc.”

internsThis immediately brings to mind several questions.  If there were five men standing on Doug Phillips’ doorstep on that red letter day in October, why were only these three threatened with a lawsuit?  Why not Dr. Joe Morecraft, who immediately preached a sermon about Doug Phillips’ fall, although he did not name him by name; and Mark Weaver, Doug’s close college friend?  I would posit that it has everything to do with the tiny little word found at the end of the sentence quoted above — “Inc.”  It seems readily apparent to me that while Doug Phillips rightfully acknowledged his responsibility to step down from ministry (albeit months and years too late, and only under duress), that he had every intention of keeping the business side of Vision Forum going strong, while he took a breather for a year or so from public speaking, and then he would pick up the reins once again, ready to lead the charge of his Vision Forum Ministries brigade, onward to victory over the evils of the real world.

Apparently, Doug Phillips believes that these three young men, whom he personally trained, not only in the patriarchal way of life but also in how to use any means possible to attain the desired results, were somehow responsible for destroying his business.  Pragmatism ruled the day in this business/ministry of Vision Forum, while love, respect, relationship, and all ethics were thrown to the wind.  So what did these three young men do to merit the threat of Doug Phillips suing them?  They broke the “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that the “No Gossip” rule is not to be found anywhere in Scripture.  Never mind that there is no law that contains this supposed “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that one current BCA member recently stood up and said that this “No Gossip” rule does not exist, even in the face of hundreds of others who state otherwise.  The “No Gossip” rule was originally put into place to keep people from speaking about what was happening between Doug Phillips and Joe Taylor, and it grew in intensity and reach ever since.  The “No Gossip” rule has kept hundreds of hurting people, and families, from sharing their pain and hurts with anyone, for fear of retribution for breaking the “No Gossip” rule, even long after they left BCA or the “community.”

So what was this great sin that Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela committed?  What was this juicy gossip that they shared, that would merit the level of a defamation lawsuit?  Although Peter Bradrick’s Facebook page has since been closed, Peter shared his pain of being disowned by a man he considered to be both a father and a mentor to him.  Bob Renaud shared a few other details, showing that he and Peter had worked together to confront a man they both deeply loved.  Jordan Muela wrote a heartfelt Facebook article, “How Silence Enables Abuse.”  Although he did not name Doug Phillips (if I remember correctly), everyone in the community knew who he was speaking about.  (He has since hid his Facebook page, so I do not have access to the article now.)

ndarnlIn addition to these three young men speaking out, there were a few others who have spoken publicly as well.  Apparently, Doug Phillips does not consider the others to be a threat, but one that has spoken out in favor of everyone keeping silent is Nathaniel Darnell.  His most recent article about how to respond to the allegations of the nature being made against Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard caused quite a stir when he suggested that the young women should go to their elders if they were sexually abused.  I guess he forgot that that’s exactly what got them into that situation to begin with.

Although no one I personally know from BCA and the community has publicly apologized to me, nor even really said anything about my situation, there have been a handful who have privately apologized. On a personal note, I will say that as I read each of the articles and comments above, as well as those by Nolan Manteufel and Ryan Short, that I have shed many tears.  For me, they were healing tears, because at least I was not the lone person out here warning those I love that danger lurks nearby.  Finally someone else was seeing it as well.  It is truly tragic that it had to come at such a heavy price.  Nathan Barnes, another former VF intern/employee, posted this status on Facebook recently:

The laws of friendship require a discovery of that which endangers one another. You would count him unworthy the name of a friend, who knowing a thief or an incendiary to lurk in your family, with a design to kill, or rob, or burn your house, would conceal it from you, and not acquaint you with it on his own accord. There is no such thief, murderer, incendiary, as sin: it more endangers us, and those concernments that are more precious than goods, or house, or life; and that most endangers us, by which the Lord’s anger is already kindled against us. Silence or concealment in this case is treachery. He is the most faithful friend, and worthy of most esteem and affection, that deals most plainly with us, in reference to the discovery of our sin. He that is reserved in this case is but a false friend, a mere pretender to love, whereas, indeed, he hates his brother in his heart.  Clarkson, David (1865). The Practical Works of David Clarkson Retrieved from http://books.google.com

gobobSo why are all these statements made by Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela libelous to the point of warranting a lawsuit? Apparently, I Cor. 6 is magically erased from Doug Phillips’ Bible, but beyond the “sin” of violating the “No Gossip” rule, Doug Phillips seems to think that these three men conspired together to destroy the business half of Vision Forum.  By Doug’s own actions, he destroyed Vision Forum ministries, which closed on November 11, 2013, although he has threatened to make legal claims against the remaining Vision Forum Ministries board as well.  At first, he made it known that Doug still owned the business side of Vision Forum, but by November 27, 2013, we announced on this blog that Vision Forum, Inc., the business, would be closing permanently by December 31, 2013.  Unless Doug Phillips was actually following our lead, we correctly reported this event.  Most likely, we were not the first to know that Vision Forum, Inc. would be closing their doors, so this decision was probably made several days earlier than November 27, 2013.  Look at the comments made by Peter Bradrick and Bob Renaud again. The only comment made publicly before we announced that Vision Forum, Inc. was closing was made by Bob Renaud on October 22, 2013: “Your sins will find you out so it’s best to follow Lanny’s advice: ‘Tell it early. Tell it all. Tell it yourself.’” (This comment causes me to question World Magazine’s timeline for the front door confrontation, unless Bob was just sending a message out ahead of time.)  But all those other comments and articles were posted after Doug Phillips had already decided to close his business.

The only person who destroyed Vision Forum, both the ministry and the business, was Doug Phillips himself.  The only person who destroyed Doug Phillips’ reputation was Doug Phillips himself.  While the words of his former interns and close associates deeply hurt him, they were the wounds of friends who loved him enough to publicly rebuke a sinning leader, in the hopes of restoring him to his senses, and to a right relationship with God.  As Doug Phillips once stated in church, when a man falls for a woman, all common sense goes right out the window.  How prophetically true, in his case.

On August 7, 2013, Doug Phillips wrote a brilliant article about “True Repentance.”  What happened that prompted this article we’re not sure at this point, but now seems like a good time to remind Doug of some key points that he made: “Those who remain unrepentant should not expect the blessing of the Lord. Unrepentance is not only an impediment to the very object of our life—true unity with God—but it leads to the judgment of the Lord. It is the single greatest roadblock to family vision.”  Doug goes on to list six elements of godly sorrow that produce true repentance: brokenness, forsaking sin, truth telling, acceptance of responsibility, restitution, and peace.

From day one, we have been saying that Doug Phillips did not show any evidence of true repentance in his public statements.  I know him well enough to read between the crafty wording clever disguised as godly sorrow.  If Doug’s recent threats of legal action against his close friends and his former board members are any indication of where his heart is right now, these acts of retribution rather than restitution openly belie his words of resignation that are still publicly displayed for all to see.  Although I had held out a tiny spark of hope that Doug Phillips would truly repent, in the manner he himself prescribes, his blame shifting, his arrogance, his refusal to accept responsibility for tearing down his own house and ministry, and his insistence that others pay him restitution instead, all point to his stirring up even more strife rather than being the one who brings peace and healing to a hurting community.

In his latest article, TW Eston presciently stated:

Doug Phillips is hasty to resort to legal intimidation. He has legally threatened dozens of people. To my knowledge Doug Phillips has never actually taken anyone to trial. Rather, he only threatens to take them to court, but out of the goodness of his heart he agrees to settle with them out of court, provided they keep their mouths shut, i.e. they must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Are Non-Disclosure Agreements biblical? In certain cases an NDA may be appropriate, and they may not necessarily in all cases be expressly unbiblical. However, they should never be used if the underlying motive is to silence critics and cover up unrepentant sin. The purposes for which Doug Phillips has so frequently coerced the signing of NDA’s is only intended to silence those who would speak out against his egregious sins and hold him accountable for his duplicity and corruption. Doug Phillips’ habitual use of NDAs has allowed him to cover up a huge amount of sin, both his own sins and the sins of his accomplices.

But let us not be too hasty to judge Doug Phillips’ latest attempts to take his brothers to public court.  Perhaps he has found I Cor. 6 in his Bible after all, and has mentioned the possibility of Christian conciliation instead. On the surface, appealing to Peacemaker Ministries sounds promising, but what is Doug Phillips’ track record with these types of situations? The first instance of using Peacemaker Ministries, that I am aware of, was when Mark and I asked Doug Phillips to go to mediation with us, through the trained Peacemaker counselors at Faith PCA here locally.  The first thing we were required to do was to clean up all derogatory comments, whether they were ours or others, to refrain from saying that we were repentant, and to be silent.  Since I had diligently sought to fully forgive Doug Phillips, and all those involved, privately in my heart before telling my story publicly (a public leader’s sins need to be made known to the same degree that their teachings are), and I was already extremely cautious in using my words carefully, it was a difficult decision to abide by these rules during the conciliation process.  But for the greater good of bringing healing to the situation at hand, we did so willingly.

A couple months later, after an emotionally charged meeting between Doug Phillips and the elders at Faith PCA (two of whom were also the Christian conciliators for Peacemaker Ministries), we were informed that Doug Phillips refused any reconciliation with us. Doug Phillips told the elders that there is only one way for the Epsteins to be reconciled with me; they must come to me and repent fully without any equivocation of everything that we excommunicated them for, and they also have to repent for blogging about me. We were also invited by these Christian conciliators to never darken the door of their church again.  When asked about the situation privately, one of the Christian conciliator elders remarked, “We f***ed up.”  That was Doug Phillips’ first interaction with Peacemaker, that I am aware of.

PeacemakerEncouraged by even the thought of Christian conciliation, Joe Taylor thought he would attempt the same offer of mediation through Peacemaker. As you can see by TW Eston’s latest article on Joe Taylor, not only did Doug Phillips refuse Joe Taylor’s offer of using Christians to mediate, but he also took him to court.  Two strikes for Doug Phillips.

But what happens when Doug Phillips decides he wants to be the one to call for mediation through Peacemaker Ministries?  Rumor has it that Beall Phillips asked Peacemaker to mediate between Doug Phillips and Cassandra and her family before this all went public.  Knowing that Peacemaker always requires silence on both sides during and after conciliation, this would have been a perfect way to forever keep Doug Phillips’ adultery hidden, allowing the family to continue their opulent lifestyle and the public fame and glory that they so enjoyed.  However, Cassandra was wise enough to decline such an arrangement, and so was Peacemaker Ministries.  Having met with Doug Phillips before, they probably knew it would not be a prudent case to take on. Three strikes.

Doug Mac girlsAs I consider the possibility of Peacemaker having taken that particular case, I cringe at the tremendous amount of damage that would have mounted had Doug Phillips been allowed to continue on as if nothing had ever happened.  This is one of the reasons why using Peacemaker Ministries can be a very bad idea.  While I readily acknowledge that many people have been helped through this ministry, I wonder how many others have actually been allowed to cover their sin, or worse yet, continue in their sinful lifestyle, because of this requirement of forever remaining silent.

In my training as a professional health coach, I have found that unresolved emotional pain causes more health problems, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well, than any other aspect of health.  I remember when Mark, my first husband, required me to never speak about my adultery in the first couple years of our marriage, even though I had fully repented from it.  There were times during those fifteen years of silence when I wanted to be able to share with others how God brought me through that time in my life and what I learned and how I repented and moved forward in life (although Mark never found it in his heart to forgive me).  As the years went on, that enforced silence built up inside me and caused me deep turmoil.  When Doug Phillips took it upon himself to tell the church about my adultery, which had happened 15 years earlier and for which Doug Phillips himself agreed that he saw true repentance in me, and I was now free to talk about it, it was like a load of bricks was finally lifted off my back.  While Doug Phillips certainly had no business sharing a pastoral confidence which Mark had shared with him privately, it ended up being one of the most freeing things that ever happened to me, and I was now on the road to being healed emotionally.

Peter BradrickTo Peter Bradrick, Bob Renaud, and Jordan Muela:  Don’t fall for it!  You all know Doug Phillips well enough to know that his offer of going to Peacemaker Ministries is for one purpose only:  to shut you up.  Confidentiality rules the day in Peacemaker’s mediation process.  While a public trial can bring to light every single detail and expose all the dirt on every side, Peacemaker goes to the opposite extreme and covers up all sin.  Bob, with your legal training, you know that Doug Phillips does not have any legal grounds against you three.  Yes, the easy thing to do is to settle quietly behind the scenes and go on about your life.  But the right thing to do takes much more work, and only a man with great integrity will do the right thing.

This is not about making peace.  This is all about silencing the truth.  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” is a principle that applies to many different aspects of life.  Everyone who sat under Doug Phillips’ teachings and ministry needs to know the truth now so that each person, each family, each BCA member, each VF employee and board member, can be set free, emotionally and spiritually, to begin healing that will lead to acceptance of what has happened, in order to move forward in life.  May we all we be stronger and wiser for having walked this journey, but may we learn to love and forgive as we begin our new paths in life.

The Christian Post: “Vision Forum to Close Down Following Doug Phillips’ Admission of ‘Inappropriate Relationship'”

Wesley Strackbein, a spokesperson for Vision Forum, told The Christian Post that while the non-profit will cease to exist, the board is currently deliberating on whether the organizations’ conferences, workshops, film festival (which was canceled a week before Phillips’ announcement) and other programs, will continue apart from the organization. 

It has also been confirmed that while Phillips’ former non-profit employer will shutter, he will maintain control of his for-profit company, Vision Forum Inc., which sells books, audio lectures, and toys that promote the organization’s conservative beliefs.

 

To read the full article, go here.

“Proof” of Doug Phillips’ Repentance

One of Doug Phillips’ followers sent me a link to a bunch of pictures where he wonders if this is Doug’s confession before his church.

First, this is not his church.  This is the San Antonio Independent Film Festival, and Doug Phillips did not confess before 1800 strangers.

Second, these pictures were taken in February.  If there was true repentance in February, why the need to step down in October?

Take a look for yourself, but just in case they come down off the blog, I will preserve them here for others to decide if Doug Phillips is confessing before his smiling wife on opening night of this grand event?

02-07-13  SAICFF -14

02-07-13  SAICFF -16

02-07-13  SAICFF -28

Vision Forum Views on Women: Monstrous Regiment and Baby Dolls

From Doug’s Blog today:

The “Best of Festival” Jubilee Award — a $10,000 grand prize — went to The Monstrous Regiment of Women, a fifty-four minute documentary directed and produced by the Gunn Brothers. Featuring an all star, all female cast — including Phyllis Schlafly and F. Carolyn Graglia — the film demonstrates how feminism has restricted choices for all women, brought heartache to the lives of many, and perpetuated an unprecedented holocaust through legalized abortion.

“We made Monstrous Regiment because we believe that feminism is one of the most detrimental philosophies effecting our church, family, and government,” remarked Colin Gunn, whose wife Emily co-wrote and narrated the film. “We want to thank the [Festival] for recognizing the importance of this message. We are privileged and honored to receive this award.”

This marked the second Jubilee Award for the Gunn Brothers. In 2004, they won “Best Political” for their film, Shaky Town. In addition to landing the festivals’ top honor in 2007, The Monstrous Regiment of Women took runner-up for “Best Documentary.”

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From a Vision Forum email advertising their new baby doll today:

The way a child plays will influence who that child will become. And the tools of play are an important part of the equation.

Play is preparation for adulthood. Play can prepare a child for maturity or for teen rebellion. Play may breed noble dreams and actions, or it may reinforce dark and unhealthy attitudes. Play may reinforce biblical gender roles (women as mothers and homemakers; men as defenders and protectors of women; etc.), or it may supplant them with the stereotypes perpetuated by modern feminism.

But one thing is certain — play (like the rest of life) is never neutral.

Our culture is engaged in a battle for the heart and soul of the family. It is even reflected in the present doll wars. At stake is whether the play life of our children will reflect efforts to rebuild a culture of virtuous boyhood and girlhood, or whether it will focus on training the next generation of me-centered, empowered, feminists.

There is a reason why feminists hate the message of the Beautiful Girlhood Collection. They hate it because so many of the contributions to this collection emphasize a message of holy submission to the priorities of the Lord and not the feminist empowerment model. They hate it because it represents many of the historic family values of the old era of Christendom. And they hate the constant emphasis that a girl’s play should pave the way for her to better embrace the feminine models and admonitions presented in such Scriptures as Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and I Peter 3. We disagree with the feminists. We also disagree with any corporate model for success which capitalizes on the most negative influences in modern youth culture to market products to children. And we take seriously our mission to encourage, bless, and promote Christian family culture for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Here we are with a typical either-or dilemma from Doug Phillips and Vision Forum: all women either hold to Doug’s version of patriarchy or they are feminists. Which camp are you in? Are there really only two choices biblically?

Life in Perfect

I was going to wait a few more days to open my blog back up again, but I just read an article called “Life in Perfect” that is simply too good to pass up! Warning: Don’t read this article while drinking hot liquids. Too much laughter while drinking hot liquids can cause damage to your computer components.

Here’s a small sample from the article:

Where the children are seen and not heard.

And so are the women.

Where vile American Girl dolls are banned.

Where people talk and write like a walking 1865 dictionary.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I won’t post any more of it here. What a great satire, “Ingrid”!

Is Doug Phillips a Cult Leader?

” In general, a cult is a small religious group outside the established churches, usually with a charismatic leader who is a strong authority figure. One psychiatrist has described cults as “religions that haven’t grown up yet.” Ray Moseley, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 3, 1978

Doug Phillips seems obsessed with the use of the word “cult” this week, so we shall attempt to determine why he is so fixated on the term. The following is an eclectic mix of certain cult characteristics I found on various lists. The general rule of thumb seems to be that if a group exhibits at least half of these characteristics, it qualifies as a sociological cult. I am not going to list the characteristics of a heretical cult because it is quite obvious that those criteria do not apply. This is merely a list for discussion purposes. Everyone is encouraged to interact with this list regarding Doug Phillips, BCA, or Vision Forum. Based upon the following criteria, does the cult label apply?

  1. Excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to the leader.
  2. Dependency upon the group or leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without leader involvement.
  3. Seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the leader in personal behavior.
  4. Hyperactivity centered on the leader’s agenda, which seems to supersede any personal goals or individual interests.
  5. The leader is not accountable to any authorities.
  6. Anything the leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
  7. The leader’s belief system, ideology, and practices are law.
  8. They insist on total, unquestioning obedience and submission to the group, both actions AND thoughts.
  9. They are always right.
  10. They are the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
  11. Whenever they are criticized or questioned, it is characterized as “persecution”.
  12. The leader claims new revelation from God, within the past 200 years, in which all but their group are rejected by God. They, alone, speak for God.
  13. Focus is on group doctrine and writings. The Bible, if used at all, is referred to one verse at time to “prove” group teachings.
  14. Group dwells on members’ “sinful nature” (many use public confession). Guilt and fear arising from “failing God” are magnified to manipulate new member.
  15. Followers feel they can never be “good”
  16. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  17. Critical thinking is discouraged as prideful and sinful, blind acceptance encouraged.
  18. Use of mind control techniques (taken from Dr. Robert Jay Lifton’s book “Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism“)
    1. Mileu Control: Control of the environment and communication within the environment
    2. Mystical Manipulation: Seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated
    3. Demand for Purity: The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group)
    4. Confession: Cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one confesses to one’s sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism
    5. Sacred Science: The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology
    6. Loading the Language: Words are given new meanings — the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way
    7. Doctrine Over Person: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question –
    8. Dispensing of Existence: Since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist
  19. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
  20. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader and members.
  21. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, everyone outside of group lumped under one label.
  22. Study and service become mandatory. New member becomes too busy to question. Family, friends, jobs and hobbies are squeezed out, further isolating the new member.
  23. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  24. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group.
  25. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members.
  26. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  27. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
  28. Recruiters are told that “Satan” will cause relatives and friend to say bad things about the group to try to “steal them away from God.” Recruits soon believes group members, alone, are truthful/trustworthy.
  29. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  30. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  31. The group is preoccupied with making money.
  32. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  33. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
  34. Group “love” and acceptance becomes dependent upon obedience and submission. Unconditional love…isn’t.
  35. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
  36. The most loyal members feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
  37. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  38. Former followers are at best considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

Doug Phillips on “Marking” Those Who Cause Division

From Doug’s blog:

There is nothing new under the sun. There always have been and will be accusers of the brethren, scoffers and unscrupulous individuals who seek to divide the body of Christ. The battlefield may change shape and size, but the issues are essentially the same. As we press forward into the 21st century, we should aspire to be like the sons of Issachar who understood the times, were blessed of God and given positions of leadership. This means marking those who bring false accusations, or who prepare the body of Christ for great persecution by throwing around the “C” word to describe people who may differ on matters which clearly fall within the pale of orthodoxy.

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

This seems to be a little loaded to me. Accusers of the brethren? This term is generally associated with Satan. I sincerely hope that Doug is not using the term in a biblical fashion, but rather in a more general meaning of the individual words. So, is it wrong for one brother (sister) to accuse another? Yes, I have accused Doug Phillips of many things, but hasn’t he likewise accused me? Using this term in conjunction with scoffers and unscrupulous individuals seems to put it in the category of highly inflammatory language. This seems to be a pattern when Doug writes against someone. His response (yes, he wrote it) to my story on his BCA church blog contained many such examples of provocative and incitive language.

Is my purpose here to divide the body of Christ? No. My purpose is to divide the body of Christ from false teachers. I have not asked anyone to take sides on this issue. In fact, I wish there weren’t any sides to take. Rather than taking sides, I propose that we work through the issues. Rather than having a divisive spirit, let’s look to the Bible to see what truth looks like. When someone tells me my doctrine is in error, I assume that their purpose is not to pick a fight, but to see that I know the truth, because the truth will set me free. That is not divisive, but is ultimately uniting. When I expose unbiblical or extra-biblical teachings here, I am not doing so to be divisive, I am attempting to provide truth that will set people free.

Doug then says to mark those who bring false accusations. I could not agree more, Doug. And that is exactly what I am doing here. Doug Phillips has falsely accused me. I have laid out all the evidence. If anything I have said is false, where is the evidence to the contrary? I am very willing to have everyone examine it. Doug, bringing false accusations against another is a very serious sin. You have done so, and this blog “marks” you as such. Should I now call people to avoid you, as the verse you quoted mentions?

Come, let us reason together.

Doug Phillips Asks Me to Shut Down My Blog

From Doug’s blog today:

SBC President says Internet “Filled with Character Assassination”

SBC President, Frank Page says new considerations are necessary in the church to discern how to use the internet for the glory of God. This is evidenced by many uncharitable situations like this one: Southern Baptist Convention President, Frank Page was involved in a blog discussing controversial issues, and reports that “the blog degenerated quickly into a personal attack place”

The Greenville News reports, “The bigger issue, Page said, is that members of local churches have taken to using blogs to carry on bitter debates about problems within their own congregations”. Page pleaded, “For Christ’s sake, for the sake of the lost, stop!”

Do you think Doug is trying to send me a message?

Doug, I will stop blogging when you repent. This is not a personal attack against you. This is not a bitter debate that should have stayed within BCA. It should have been settled within BCA a long time ago, granted, but, Doug, you have a pattern of hurting and abusing fellow believers outside of BCA as well. To the extent that a public person’s influence extends in abuse, a public warning is also necessary to that same extent. Doug, your abuse and tyranny have extended around the globe, your false teachings have extended around the globe. This warning now goes out to that same extent. I would like nothing better than to shut down this blog. The ball is completely in your court, Doug. Help me shut this down by repenting.

Vision Forum: The Biblical Picture of a Virtuous Woman Is Against a Woman Holding Civil Office

Part III:

In Proverbs 31:10-31, we are given the biblical picture of a woman who fears God and walks in His ways. The passage begins with a question: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” The question implies that such a woman is rare and precious, just like rubies. The description of the virtuous woman shows her to be an industrious, loving woman who devotes herself to the well-being of her husband and children. The center of her interest and the place of her ministry are in her home. God has called her to be “a keeper at home” (Titus 2:5), and she willingly and joyfully fulfills her calling to the great blessing of all who depend on her piety, wisdom, and homemaking skills.

Of great importance to the issue before us in this essay, are these words concerning her husband: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land” (Prov. 31:23). The “gates” in Old Testament times referred to the place where the leaders of the city (i.e., “the elders of the land”) would gather to discuss community affairs, administer civil law, and judge in criminal and civil cases. The “gates,” therefore, is a reference to the “city hall,” the “capital building,” the “courthouse” or, in short, to the seat of civil government. The key for us is to note that, in the case of the virtuous woman, it is her husband who is active in the gates; the virtuous woman is not herself seated in the gates — she is active in her home. This should not surprise us, for the order of creation and the law of God establish the fact that men are to bear rule in civil government. The virtuous woman understands this, and takes the vital place that God has assigned her in the home and with her family; she does not try to intrude herself into a seat in the gates. However, we need to note that the virtuous woman’s works are to praised in the gates (Prov. 31:31). Her works are not in the gates, but they are to be praised in the gates; that is, those who are leaders in the community ought to recognize the great work that she is doing in support of the community by faithfully fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother (1 Tim. 2:15; 5:10, 14; Titus 2:3-5). This is her glorious work for the Lord and His kingdom. It is of the utmost importance!

Furthermore, it should be recognized that the virtuous woman does make her presence felt in community concerns. But it is through the influence that she has on her husband (and mature sons) that her wisdom and knowledge will help to direct the affairs of the community. Yes, it is her husband who sits in the gates, but his renown and ability as a civil leader is due, at least in part (if not largely), to her help and support. Yes, it is the husband who speaks and judges in the gates, but it is his wise and godly wife who is his chief counselor.

Let no one speak lightly or disparagingly of the woman’s appointed role and her service to Christ and His kingdom! And let no woman set aside the example of the virtuous woman and seek to sit in the gates with the rulers of the land. And let no Christian have any part in putting her there.

Vision Forum: The Biblical Qualifications for Civil Office Require Civil Leaders to Be Men

Part II of the same article by Bill Einwechter:

Every time the Scripture speaks to the subject of the necessary qualifications for those who will bear rule in the civil sphere, it always speaks in terms of men and never in terms of women. This is significant, and based on point number 1 above, it is not hard to understand. The consistent assumption of Scripture is that men are to be the civil magistrates; and, as we have seen, this is not based on culture but upon the created order. Since God is both Creator and Lawgiver there is never any contradiction between the created order and the law of God. And as creation establishes the headship of man in the civil sphere by means of man being created first and the woman being created for man, so the law of God sets the headship of man in the civil sphere by means of the stated qualifications for civil rulers. God set forth the essential qualifications for civil magistrates for all people and for all time when He spoke through Jethro to Moses: “Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers…” (Ex. 18:21; emphasis added). And Moses himself said to the people as they were about to choose their civil magistrates, “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you” (Deut. 1:13; emphasis added). Importantly, the word for “men” chosen by the Holy Spirit in both of these texts is the Hebrew, gender specific word for a man, i.e., a male as opposed to a female.

Furthermore, the directions that God gives concerning the establishment of a king in Israel requires that a man, and not a woman, be chosen (Deut. 17:14-20). The king was to be a “brother,” and he was not to “multiply wives to himself.” Clearly, a man is in view here. The law of God commands us, therefore, to choose men to be our rulers! Likewise, in every other passage of Scripture dealing with the civil magistrate and his qualifications and duties, men are in view (2 Sam. 23:3; Neh. 7:2; Prov. 16:10; 20:8, 28; 29:14; 31:4-5; Rom. 13:1-6; etc.). Therefore, the standard of God’s law that men be our civil rulers upholds the order of creation. God has spoken to us in His Word, and there He commands us to set men, not women, into positions of civil authority. To consider these texts (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 1:13; 17:14-20) irrelevant in regards to what they say about setting men in civil office, would logically require us to consider the other qualifications listed as being of no account as well. The rejection of these Scriptures would leave us with no biblical standard for citizens in choosing their rulers. This may suit some, but for those who are the disciples of Jesus Christ and love the law of God, such a position is abhorrent.

Vision Forum: The Headship of Man Disqualifies a Woman for Civil Office

Taken from this article by Bill Einwechter from Vision Forum Ministries:

The scriptural revelation of the creation of man and woman, and the scriptural commentary on their creation establishes the headship of the man over the woman. The text of Genesis 2:7 and 2:18-24 teaches us that man was made first, and then the woman was made to be man’s helper and companion. The Bible instructs us that this order of creation was by God’s design, and that it establishes the positional priority of the man over the woman in regards to authority and leadership. In setting forth the authority of the man over the woman in the context of the local church, Paul appeals to the creation order saying, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13). In another passage, Paul states the divinely ordained order of authority and headship: “But I would have you to know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). Therefore, the Apostle Paul teaches that God has decreed that the order of authority be as follows: God-Christ-Man-Woman. Each one in this “chain of command” is under the headship (i.e., authority) of the one preceding him or her. Later on in this same text, Paul, as in 1 Timothy 2, calls upon the order of creation to show man’s headship over the woman. He says, “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:8-9). The Bible explicitly states that the man has headship over the woman, and that this headship is not based on cultural factors, or even the fall; rather, it is based on the created order established by God Himself.

Now it is also plain in the Bible that God has ordained that the order of the headship of man must be maintained in each governing institution set up by God. There are three primary institutions established by the Lord for the ordering of human affairs. These are the family, the church, and the state. Each of these institutions has authority to govern within its appointed sphere. We could say, then, that there are three “governments” in the world: family government, church government, and state government. In each of these governments, God has commanded that men bear rule. The man has headship in the family (Eph. 5:22-24), the church (1 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 14:34-35), and also by implication and command, in the state as well (1 Cor. 11:3; Ex. 18:21; see point 2 below).

Could it be that the man has headship only in the family and the church but not in the state? No, this could not be, lest you make God the author of confusion, and have Him violate in the state the very order He established at creation and has revealed in Holy Scripture! If one is going to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the civil sphere, then to be consistent, he or she also needs to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the family and the church. Now it is true that some attempt to do just that; but their denial of male headship for the family, church, and state is really a rejection of the Word of God and is a repudiation of God’s created order. And it is not sufficient to contend that it is acceptable to support a woman for civil ruler when she is the best candidate, unless you are also prepared to argue that it is acceptable to advocate a woman for the office of elder because she is better suited than the available men in the church; and unless you are also prepared to say that the wife should rule over her husband if she is better equipped to lead than her husband is.

From Doug’s Blog: The World Needs Him

From Doug’s Blog today:

 

Critic to Mrs. Howard Phillips: “You’re having another baby. Don’t you know that the world has too many children already?”

Mrs. Howard Phillips: “The world is in need of my children.”

That sums it up. Thank God for mothers who see the potential for changing the world which lies in the lives of the children God gives them.

Christian mothers and fathers, listen to Peggy Phillips—the world needs your children!

Read the article and then notice why Doug thinks women are important, and who he is really complimenting. What humility.

Thanks to Doug Phillips, Cult-Watch Journal Experiences a First

I recently wrote about an article that appeared in the Midwest Christian Outreach Journal entitled, “Who Will Be First In The Kingdom?” The article is an exposé on several of the unbiblical, extrabiblical and legalistic doctrines being pushed by Doug Phillips via The Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries.

The author, Don Veinot, gave me permission to quote from his article. However, I was not at liberty to post the entire article itself. Even if I had been given permission, I probably wouldn’t have done so. Instead, what I wanted to do was to encourage Christians to subscribe to the hardcopy edition of the MCOI Journal. This is a ministry that deserves the support of many Christians, and especially those who are concerned for how legalism and Phariseeism have infiltrated the church, thereby undermining the doctrines of grace.

For a number of years, Midwest Christian Outreach has been exposing cults, as well as harmful, legalistic Christian leaders, such as Bill Gothard. Don Veinot has also co-authored an outstanding book on Gothardism, A Matter Of Basic Principles. I’ve been reading this book myself and have been astounded to see just how similar so many of Doug Phillips’ teachings are to Bill Gothard’s. I’ve known for some time that Doug has been heavily influenced by Gothard, but Don Veinot’s book really makes it too apparent for me.

Don also recently posted an article on the Midwest Christian Outreach blog, entitled, Doug Phillips — New Paganism?

Don just contacted me to let me know how pleased he’s been by the response to his article on Doug Phillips, “Who Will Be First In The Kingdom?” In fact, he told me that it’s been the single most popular and most requested article that MCOI has ever published in the twelve years they’ve been publishing their journal. My hope is that this will serve to encourage MCOI to publish additional articles exposing the legalism of Doug Phillips.

Greetings Jennifer,

As you are aware, we had an MCOI first with this issue of the MCOI Journal. We do not put the current issue on line until the next issue is released. However, we have been contacted by a number of people, lay people, pastors and seminary professors who have read the article on Doug Phillips and Vision Forum or G12 and need to refer others to it right away. Since we are here to serve the Body of Christ the simplest and most efficient way seemed to be to put it on line which we did yesterday.

Blessings,

Don

Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.
L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr., President
www.midwestoutreach.org

Here is another letter by Don Veinot to Cindy Kunsman:

Dear Cynthia,

I have not only been surprised at the responses on this latest Journal on the Doug Phillips/Vision Forum article but also from the recent blog I did on him. I am receiving emails and phone calls from pastors and seminary professors expressing their appreciation that we would take this on. It is all a bit humbling to me. I am also being swamped by Christians attending churches that are tied in to Phillips teachings. They are desperate for information as they watch their churches split apart by this.

I received a letter from Doug Phillips personal assistant answering the questions that we had sent to them a few times prior to publishing the article. They mailed it rather than responding to the email and said that it was just brought to their attention. It sounds like they are getting heat from their followers about the current Journal article on him.

I am really thankful for your support. It is especially critical at this point, due to the 25% shortfall in the fiscal year that just ended. I know that God is able to raise up the needed funds with special contributions and we are seeking that He will. Thank you for your prayers to that end.

Don Veinot

Doug Phillips Twists Scripture to Fit Jamestown Agenda

Hutch had this great idea! The following contest, sponsored by Vision Forum through Homeschooling Today Magazine, was posted on Doug’s blog today. See if you can spot any Scripture twisting (or history twisting) to make Jamestown fit Doug’s agenda. It is sad to see this misuse of God’s Word. This contest is based on the Jamestown Quadricentennial celebration this year.

***********************************************************************************************

Simply pick one of the Scripture discussion points below (or choose another of interest to your family) and write a persuasive essay expanding on the topic. Explain whether the settlers were operating under the truth of the Bible, or under a worldly deception.

Scripture discussion: The Founding Fathers of our nation were well-versed in the Bible — more so than we are today. Their views on all issues of life were therefore colored by Scripture. How do the following Scriptures help us better understand the settlers’ perspectives on the following? Upon which other Scriptures might they have based their actions? Also, which ideas and passages from the Bible can be found in the suggested readings and primary resources?

1. Land ownership (Ex. 20:12, Joshua 13-19, Acts 17:26, Deut. 32:7-8, Ex. 20:15 and Deut. 19:14)

Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

Josh 13-19 – Dividing the Promised Land

Acts 17:26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

Deut. 32:7-8 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”

Ex. 20:15 – “You shall not steal.”

Deut. 19:14 – “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”

2. “Interracial” marriage (2 Cor. 6:14, Gal. 3:28, Acts 17:26)

II Cor 6:14 – “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Gal. 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Acts 17:26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

3. Building a population through native births, rather than sending over more colonists from England (Gen. 1:28, 8:16)

Gen. 1:28 – “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 8:16 – “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”

4. Evangelizing the natives (Matt. 28:18-20)

Matt. 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

5. Pocahontas dressing like the settlers as an “Englishwoman” after her conversion rather than remaining in her native clothing (Gen 3:21)

Gen. 3:21 – “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

Scripture discussion: Many, even in their native Virginia, are shying away from calling the Jamestown Quadricentennial a celebration, but instead refer to it as a commemoration. Discuss as a family the Scriptural basis for each of the following:

1. Remembrance of Jamestown, what the settlers did there, and teaching these things to our children (Deut. 32:7-8, Ps. 78; Ex. 20:12)

Deut. 32:7-8 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”

Ps. 78:(4-8) – “We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;
And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

2. Erecting a memorial to God’s providential deliverance of a people (Prov. 22:28, Josh. 4:19-20, Gen. 28:16-22, 1 Sam. 7:10-12)

Prov. 22:28 – “Do not remove the ancient landmark Which your fathers have set.”

Josh. 4:19-20 – “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal.”

Gen. 28:16-22 – “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

I Sam. 7:10-12 – “Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

3. Understanding the original words of the settlers from primary source documents, with the meaning that would have been understood at the time (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 15:14, 20:5, 23:23, 28:2b)

Lev. 19:16 – “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.”

Prov. 15:14 – “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Prov. 20:5 – “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Prov. 23:23 – “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

Prov. 28:2b – “But by a man of understanding and knowledge Right will be prolonged.”

Be sure to include in the discussion, why it is right to honor our fathers and ancestors, rather than look down our noses at them. Should we wonder how they could have sinned in this way or that way? We would be wise to recognize that they were sinners just like us, and to consider ways in which we fail to honor them by sinning as they did — or in finding new and uniquely foolish ways to sin.

Let’s Discuss Doug Phillips and Family Integrated Church

I’m extremely grateful to so many of my commenters. I’ve learned so much from so many of you. I’ve even learned some things from some of those who came here with no other purpose but to attack me.

Perhaps the single most important issue that I’ve been confronted with is my own legalism. As I’ve said before:

“God has been using many of my commenters to help push me into becoming a Berean. I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the things I’m discovering. As a direct result of this blog, I’ve also made some dear friends. By studying the Word together, those friends have also provoked me into looking deep into the perfect law of liberty.”

I’m still making the transition out of legalism-Dougism/Gothardism, but I feel that even just the steps I’ve made so far are a huge breakthrough. Grace isn’t an easy thing to grasp for a legalist, but I’m starting to get it.

Having been under the legalistic teachings of Doug Phillips for five years had a profound impact on my life, and not for the better. I’ve been having to reevaluate everything that Doug taught me. This isn’t to say that everything that Doug Phillips teaches is bad. A lot of what he teaches has merit. Not that much of what he teaches he actually came up with himself. Practically all of it he took from others. That’s part of the problem. A lot of the ideas that he took from others he then wound up taking to a legalistic extreme. Seldom are legalists moderate or biblically balanced.

A good example of this is Patriarchy. I’ve already dealt with that here, and I may come back to it again in the future.

Another area I’d like to address in-depth is “Family Integrated Church.” I’m in the process of writing a critique of “A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family.” Along with it I also want to critique “The Greatest Untapped Evangelistic Opportunity Before the Modern Church” and “The Sufficiency of Scripture at Work in the Family Integrated Church.” I’ll also have some interesting things to share about how the NCFIC got started, and its director, Scott Brown.

On the face of it, the Family Integrated Church movement doesn’t appear to be legalistic, nor should it be. But in reality, it too often is. I’ve received many reports of how it is divisive to the point of even causing church splits. It’s ironic that a movement that is supposedly rooted in “unity” can actually cause so much division.

What I’d like to do, as I’m writing my critique, is to open up this thread for commentary and input from you, my readers, both good and bad, on the Family Integrated Church. This will provide everyone an opportunity to assist me as I prepare my future article.

Along with this, I want to welcome my readers to submit via email their own articles on issues directly related to Doug Phillips. These can be full articles, or rough drafts and outlines for articles. Please be assured that if you don’t want your name used, I will respect your privacy. I know that many of my readers have some of their own stories to tell about Doug Phillips. I know because I’ve received your emails. I know that most of you don’t want to start blogs of your own. I’m willing to have you tell your stories here.

Please read the Vision Forum Ministries articles that I’ve linked to above and offer your comments about them here.

Pastor Writes In To Say Doug Phillips Is “Incredibly Dangerous”

Hi Jen:

I am a pastor in Colorado and have had the grueling task of “re-discipling” many whose lives (and families) were turned upside down by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Tit 1:11). I just wanted to drop you a line and say “keep up the good work.” Men like Phillips must be exposed before they do more harm. My first “red flag” with his organization came the moment I saw (or heard) one of their core beliefs, “the family is the foundational institution of society.”

Nowhere in the Scripture is that ever stated. As a matter of fact, it is blatantly against what the Scripture teaches. Jesus teaches us that it is the church (not the family) which is the foundational institution of society (Mat 16:18; 1Ti 3:15). “It is the city on the hill” which causes the world to sit up and take notice.

Once again–keep being faithful–you are an encouragement to many I’m sure. Men like Phillips rule by intimidation much the same way other cult leaders do, and therefore it takes strong courageous people like yourself coming out against them–before others will be freed also. And let me assure you that what you are doing is biblical. We (as Christians) are to be “exposing the deeds of darkness” (Eph 5). Though there are some things Phillips does which are good–it is the “leaven” mixed in which spoils the whole batch and makes him incredibly dangerous.

Scott Jarrett

Pastor, Sovereign Grace Bible Church

www.sovereigngracebc.org

Note: see Pastor Jarrett’s related article: The Church: God’s Foundational Institution

Church Strengthened When Doug Phillips’ Supporters Leave

I’ve received a great deal of email thanking me for exposing Doug Phillips. Much of it is from people who have personally known Doug. Many of these people would like to be in a position to expose Doug Phillips themselves, but for various reasons, they haven’t.

A common thread running through all of it is intimidation. Many feel intimidated by Doug, and many have good reason to feel intimidated. Doug Phillips has threatened many people, some with legal action, some with ecclesiastical threats such as church discipline or excommunication, even from other churches. In more than one case, I’ve received emails telling me that if they went public with their story of Doug’s unscrupulous dealings with them that he’d use his significant political resources to ruin their business, or in some cases to get them fired.

It’s a common ploy of Doug’s that he demands the names of your church elders and he threatens “church discipline” against you. Some of these people have done nothing more than write Doug to ask him a question about an apparent contradiction in his teaching, and then he threatens them. The Christian thing to do would just be to answer people’s questions. Instead, he uses his employees to shield him and they play games of evasion. The majority of questions Doug does answer are from those who agree with him already. Doug loves his fan mail and has often posted it on his blog, but he hates it when he’s challenged for hypocrisy, and with Doug Phillips there is much hypocrisy. Anyone who disagrees is either ignored, and if they’re not ignored, they’re often threatened. Doug Phillips has even threatened a few pastors.

Doug Phillips’ threats have worked. His formula has worked for years to intimidate people into silence. I know because I’ve now heard from many of them, and I’ll probably be hearing from more. My hope is that some of them will soon muster enough courage to step forward and tell their own stories for themselves. For now what will have to suffice are their emails to me. With their permission, from time to time, I’ll post the emails of those who have known Doug Phillips personally, as well as from those who have personal knowledge of my situation, or personal knowledge of how Doug has threatened others.

The specifics contained in some of the emails I’ve received are sometimes so detailed that Doug would probably be able to figure out who they were authored by. So in order to prevent Doug’s retaliation against them, I won’t post any stories or emails without their permission. I also won’t post their names without their permission. I’ll also give them the option of whether or not comments should be permitted on their email. Even if they don’t want their name used, they still may not appreciate being subjected to the kinds of verbal attacks that I don’t personally mind being subjected to.

The following is an email I received recently and have been given permission to post on my blog.

Jen,

Wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your boldness with this whole Doug Phillips thing. I’m sure you’ve grown weary of hearing everybody’s advice and opinions, especially those with nothing really at stake. We had something at stake, though. This past year, our church suffered a split that just came out of the blue. It really wasn’t until you went public with your experience that we began connecting the dots. Looking back on it, I see that the Lord actually purified our body by removing the families that were causing these divisions. I have noticed that the three elders that left have really become big DP fans. And our remaining elders have made a concerted effort to be very upfront with just what we DO believe and WHY, leaving no room for unbiblical teachings. The solid teaching from our pulpit has benefited. Your boldness has helped dozens of families here!

I have also recognized a growing clique of DP homeschool families (I don’t know what else to call them). Their children sound like walking talking Vision Forum catalogs. My children have noticed and are able to discern the extra-biblical tidbits. Again, your boldness has given us a platform, as a family, to teach some important critical thinking skills and sift everything around us through scripture. As independent-thinking as I tend to be, I recognize that I had become lazy about some things. If you declared yourself Christian, and you homeschooled, you got a pass from me. I think that’s what put DP where he is today. LOTS of folks give him a pass without batting an eye.

So, thanks a million for what you were willing to do. I know your family took some blows, not to mention your marriage, friendships and even your children. Surely the Lord will see fit to restore all the broken relationships. I think you are wise to back off the whole reconciliation thing. And I think you are equally wise to continue to inform the public about this wolf. No more head butting, just investigative reporting.

Doug Phillips, Constitutional Attorney, Tramples First Amendment

Jen Epstein Ejected From Public Sidewalk For Exercising First Amendment Rights

I enjoy attending home school conferences. It’s always a good learning experience, so I’d like to give a report on a home school conference that I attended this past weekend in Arlington, Texas. The Arlington Book Fair is a large home school conference with several interesting speakers, one of which was Doug Phillips. I credit Doug with teaching me many valuable things. Douglas Winston Phillips was named after Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill. Doug does a very convincing Churchill impersonation. I’ve often heard Doug say, “We shall never surrender” in his best Churchill-ish British accent. Doug has taught me a lot of determination and courage in the face of adversity. If it weren’t for Doug’s own regular storytelling of brave and courageous men who refused to compromise their values, I doubt that I would have ever been motivated to go public with my own story of Doug’s ecclesiastical tyrannies. In many ways, it was Doug’s own teaching that gave me the courage to do what I’m now doing.

Attending the Arlington Book Fair was also an opportunity for me to speak with Doug Phillips personally and give him one more opportunity to be reconciled with us. Doug doesn’t make it easy to speak with him. He’s been hiding behind his attorney, Don Hart, for over a year now. Every time we’ve tried to speak with Doug, we’ve been told, “You’ll have to talk to Doug’s attorney.” This is a strange response for a pastor. We’ve never even implied that we wanted to take Doug to court. Ours is an ecclesiastical matter, so why is he hiding behind an attorney? Doug claims that Boerne Christian Assembly has a plurality of elders. If that were true then why doesn’t he say, “You’ll need to take it up with the BCA elders?” The fact is that BCA didn’t have a plurality of elders when Doug ran us through his little Kangaroo Court, and apparently they still don’t have a plurality of elders, although they do have some “elders-in-training.”

Not being one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I thought I might be able to learn something from listening to Doug speak at the conference, as well. So, with much anticipation and hope that God would work to bring us together this weekend, off we went.

As we stepped through the door at the Arlington Book Fair, we immediately spotted Wesley Strackbein, a longtime Vision Forum employee, who straightaway pulled out his cell phone, presumably to call Doug Phillips. When we arrived, shortly thereafter, at Doug’s first workshop of the day, it quickly became apparent that this was the case. Doug was already on stage when I entered the room but, as I was helping my daughter get situated in her chair, Doug suddenly appeared in front of me, holding out his hand to greet me. “Hello, Jennifer. I thought I would see you here,” he spoke up loudly for everyone to hear. “Hi, Doug!,” I returned his greeting and handshake. As his personal assistants placed themselves strategically on either side of the room, we listened to Doug’s first message about the importance of teaching history to your children.

Concerned about the hypocrisy of Doug teaching his extra-biblical views and promoting them as biblical doctrine, I decided it would be a good time to warn others of some of Doug’s extreme positions. An independent Christian journal that focuses primarily on writing about cults has written an article about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. They were kind enough to give me permission to pass out copies of this article at the convention. (When this article is officially released by the publisher, I will let everyone know.) So, at Doug’s second session of the day, Joshua began passing this article out to those who were attending this particular workshop for homeschooling fathers. After he had passed them out to approximately half the attendees, a conference coordinator approached him and asked him to stop, apparently in response to Bob Renaud’s request. While Joshua was speaking to this lady, Doug Phillips came by, put his hand on Joshua’s shoulder, and simply stated, “Joshua,” while smiling. When I arrived there a while later, two conference coordinators immediately approached me and asked if I was Joshua’s mother. When I answered affirmatively, Richard Hathman very kindly told me that they had a policy that no flyers could be handed out inside the convention center, but that we were perfectly free to hand them out on the public sidewalk outside the convention center. We were fine with this, so I thanked him kindly, shook his hand, and Joshua went outside to hand out flyers for a while.

Still waiting for an opportunity to speak with Doug Phillips, I went to his third workshop of the day, “The Blessed Marriage,” hoping to gain some insights into my own marriage as well. I sat in the front row by myself (my children had left the convention by this point) so that I could speak with Doug after his speech. In front of the raised stage was a large podium for the projector. I didn’t realize until later that since I was sitting very close to the podium, Doug would have had to walk within a few inches of me to get on stage. Apparently that was not an option for him, since he chose to take a flying leap onto the other end of the stage instead, in his 3-piece suit. It was obvious that he was doing everything he could to avoid me. This struck me as very odd, considering that earlier in the day he went out of his way to greet me. No doubt, though, someone had given him a copy of the article we’d been passing out. Perhaps this resulted in a change in his demeanor toward me?

One of Doug’s longtime personal assistants, Bob Renaud, decided that I must be very lonely in the front row by myself, so he came and sat with me, greeting me as if we were long lost best friends. It was obvious that it was his job to keep me away from Doug, but we exchanged pleasant greetings anyway. He seemed quite fascinated with all the notes I was taking during Doug’s seminar, craning his neck much of the time to read them. At the end of the message, after Doug Phillips invited everyone to come visit him and Beall in his Vision Forum booth, Bob immediately struck up a conversation with me that went like this:

Bob: “Jennifer, I’m so glad to see you here! Are you enjoying the conference?”

Me: “Yes, Bob, I am. I’m really glad to see you, too. Are you enjoying it?”

Bob: “Yes, I am.”

Me: “Bob, I know you are here to keep me from seeing Doug, but I would really like to see Doug; I would really like to talk to him.”

Bob: “I can’t let you do that.”

Me: “Why not?”

Bob: “If you want to talk, you’ll have to talk to Doug’s attorney, Don Hart. You can’t talk to Doug.”

Me: “This doesn’t have anything to do with Don Hart. I would like to talk to Doug personally. Look, Bob, I just have this letter I would like to give to Doug.” I held the letter out for him, but Bob quickly backed away. “Look, Bob, this is a nice letter. I just want to compliment Doug and ask him to speak with me.”

Bob: “I can’t let you do that.”

Me: “Here, Bob. I’ll even let you read it yourself first.” So I opened the letter for Bob, but he still refused to look at it or take it.

Me: “OK, Bob. Do you know why I’m here? Do you know what I’m about? Do you understand my whole purpose?”

Bob: “No, I don’t”

By this time, Wesley Strackbein, the Vision Forum employee who had first spotted me at the convention, had joined us as well, so I addressed both of them.

Me: “This is about reconciliation. This is about being at peace with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can write about Doug on the internet, and he can write about me, but we aren’t getting anywhere at this rate. This is stupid. We need to sit down and talk.”

Bob: “Jennifer, you can put an end to all this.”

Me: “How’s that, Bob?”

Bob: “Jennifer, you just need to repent. You are excommunicated.”

Me: “What do I need to repent from?”

Bob: “You know what you need to repent from. It’s all in the document we gave you. You can read it.”

Me: “Oh, I know what the document says: gossip, slander, lying, reviling. But what have I done, Bob? What is my specific sin? That list doesn’t tell me what I’ve done.”

Bob: “I don’t have time to tell you all your sins, there are so many.”

Me: “OK, Bob and Wesley, I’ll tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I promise you that if you can tell me just one example of a sin I’ve committed, I’ll repent right here and now.”

Bob and Wesley turned around and walked away. For being guilty of “so many” sins I was stunned that they couldn’t name even one specific sin.

Somewhere in that conversation, Bob asked me for that letter I had written to Doug. I gave it to him. Here is what the letter said:

May 11, 2007

Mr. Doug Phillips
200 Canada Verde
Hollywood Park, TX

Dear Doug,

I know that you’re a busy man, and no doubt you’ve got plenty going on here at the Arlington Book Fair home school convention. Hopefully you’ll accept this note from me.

I look forward to what I’ll learn here from the speakers at the conference, and that includes what I can learn from you. I’ve already learned a great deal from you Doug. Not that I’ve always agreed with all your opinions, but you’ve helped teach me some important values.

Doug, I’m confounded over why you keep avoiding us and why you’re refusing to be reconciled with us. Wouldn’t reconciliation be a good thing? It seems like you’re running from me. I can’t understand that. What are you afraid of?

I’d like to extend to you the opportunity to just sit down and talk together for a few minutes. Here at the conference would be an ideal time. I know you’re busy and you could use that as an excuse to avoid me. But I don’t believe that you’re so busy that you couldn’t set aside a few minutes. If it were important that’s really what you should do. This is important Doug, and I think you know that.

Let’s sit down and talk. Okay?

Your sister in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jen Epstein

I knew that Bob Renaud would take my note straight to Doug. So I gave Doug sufficient time to receive my note from Bob and read it. Since Doug had issued an open invitation for everyone to come visit him at his booth, I decided to take him up on his invitation. With a friend carrying a video camera, we walked in to see Doug, but neither he nor Beall were at the Vision Forum booth. After looking around for them, we were just about to leave when Peter Bradrick, Doug’s personal assistant, came up and told us to turn off the video. I asked him what authority he had to tell us what to do. He said that we could video any other booth except Vision Forum. I kept asking him, “Under what authority?” I then asked him if he was asking us or telling us what to do. He said he was informing us. Finally, he spoke to me in a quite disrespectful tone of voice. Knowing that Doug Phillips’ main message is about honor, I rebuked Peter for speaking to his elders that way. I am nearly twice his age and my videotaping friend is a good deal older than I am as well. At this point, Peter’s attitude changed and he said he was requesting us to turn off our video, which we promptly did. I then asked Peter where Doug was, and he replied that he was ill and not able to greet his public right now, so we left.

Upon further reflection of this incident, I decided that while Peter was decidedly disrespectful toward me, two wrongs never make a right, and I had been too harsh in rebuking him. So I later sent him a note of apology.

Since I wasn’t getting anywhere in my attempts to speak with Doug Phillips, I decided that day two of this convention should be a day of warning others. I had the article written by the independent Christian journal and I also had the Public Notice Calling For The Repentance Of Douglas W. Phillips printed out as handouts. Joshua and I were standing on the public sidewalk handing out these flyers as people came into the conference when all of a sudden a very angry man shoved Joshua out of the way, grabbed his papers and started throwing the papers all over, yelling and screaming that we couldn’t do this. Very calmly and kindly, I responded, “Excuse me, but what are you doing?”

Dennis Winton, the very angry conference coordinator, continued to yell at us that we could not pass out these papers. I calmly stated that this was public property and that I was standing on my first amendment rights to hand out information on public property. Mr. Winton then threatened us, “We’ll see what the police have to say about your first amendment rights!” Still remaining calm, I said that was fine.

While Mr. Winton was on the phone speaking very heatedly with the police, trying to convince them that I was a criminal, another conference coordinator was standing there with him, watching us continue to cheerfully greet everyone as we handed them our papers. This man was Richard Hathman, the same kind conference coordinator who had, just the day before, volunteered that we could pass out these papers on the public sidewalk in front of the convention center. During this whole time, he just stood there smiling at us. After several minutes, I said to Mr. Hathman, “You know I have every right to do this. I am standing on my first amendment rights to hand out information on public property.”

He answered, “Yes, you do.”

I finally volunteered to Mr. Hathman that Doug Phillips could stop this whole thing if he would just come out and talk to me. I offered to stop passing out the papers if Doug would just sit down and talk to me.

Mr Hathman then said, “You may be 100% right, or you may be 100% wrong, or it’s maybe somewhere in between; I really don’t care. Mr. Phillips is just a tiny part of this conference. This is about so much more than just Doug Phillips and what you are doing here is disrupting our whole conference. As a brother in Christ, I would like to ask you to please stop disturbing this conference so everyone else can enjoy what they came here for.”

I was so impressed with the way Mr. Hathman handled the situation in a Christ-like manner that I told him as much, thanked him for his attitude, shook his hand, and stated that I would be glad to stop handing out my papers, since he asked me to do so out of Christian love and concern. At that point, Joshua and I picked up all our papers and took them to the truck.

Mr. Winton, however, still insisted that the police do something, so they came and talked to all the conference coordinators and Doug’s three “bodyguards” before coming over to speak with my friend, my children, and me. As you watch what happens next, notice Doug’s three bodyguards, Wesley Strackbein, Peter Bradrick, and Bob Renaud, ensuring that I leave the public property. We found out later that the police were called at Doug Phillips’ insistence. I was also later informed that the Vision Forum team had told the police that Doug Phillips was afraid because his life had been threatened, thereby implying that I posed some sort of physical threat to Doug.



While we were waiting, I then waved to Peter Bradrick and said, “Good morning, Peter!” He just glared back at me, so I said, cheerfully, “Come on, Peter. Can’t you even say ‘Hello?'” In response, he just slowly shook his head from side to side.

So then I tried to talk to Bob Renaud: “Hey, Bob! Do you have an answer for me yet?” (meaning from the letter I gave Bob to give Doug). I was treated to another frozen face.

So, in the end, we were issued a criminal trespassing warning for being on public property and told not to return for one year, under threat of arrest. The First Amendment gives us the right to give out this kind of information on public property, so there can be no criminal trespassing of this sort on public property. As a constitutional lawyer, Doug Phillips knew I had every right to be there doing what I was doing. As a conference speaker, though, Doug used his status to have my rights trampled.

I’m still calling Doug Phillips to repentance.

Public Notice Calling For The Repentance Of Douglas W. Phillips

I’ve been contacted by a number of people, some of them representing various Christian organizations, who have asked me to provide them with a brief one-page statement documenting some of the more serious sins and moral failures of Doug Phillips.

The reason I keep getting asked for this is obvious. Many people who share our concerns about Doug Phillips are referring friends and family and members of their organizations to my blog. However, there’s now so much to read that it can be a bit overwhelming. Having a highly condensed overview of some of the most significant aspects of our Doug Phillips’ story could prove to be a useful tool in “Exposing Doug Phillips’ Ecclesiastical Tyranny.”

If you’d like a pdf version of this Public Notice, suitable for emailing, you can download it here.

Public Notice Calling For The Repentance Of Douglas W. Phillips

List Of Charges:

  1. In 2004, Doug Phillips produced and sold the deceptive documentary, “Raising the Allosaur.” In the video, Mr. Phillips claims that a group of home school families was responsible for “the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year.” So much public controversy arose from the “documentary” that Mr. Phillips pulled it from the market without explanation, in spite of the fact that the video produced significant revenues for Vision Forum, Inc. Mr. Phillips has never repented or even offered a public explanation for the numerous misleading statements and misrepresentations in the video. 1
  2. As a self-appointed, unordained, sole elder of Boerne Christian Assembly, Mr. Phillips pronounced an “excommunication” on a member family of his church in 2005. 2 The “excommunication” was vindictive and appears to have been motivated over a difference in political views. 3 The “trial” was conducted without any due process in what can only be described as a Kangaroo Court. The accused were tried in absentia. No witnesses were called. No defense was afforded the accused. No specific, detailed list of charges was made. No evidence was provided. Any actual valid excommunicable sins had already been repented from, including a pre-conversion sin that had been repented of fifteen years prior. 4 A prominent Pastor has since described the excommunication as “the Salem Witch Trials.” The family has attempted ever since to be reconciled with Mr. Phillips, but he has refused all offers to meet with them, thus confirming his vindictiveness.
  3. After being “excommunicated,” the entire family was shunned, including the family’s children. The children were never charged with any sins. Yet they, too, were punished. One of the daughters had received an award as a runner-up in a Vision Forum writing contest, but Mr. Phillips ordered that her name be removed from the Vision Forum web site.
  4. Doug Phillips is known as a leader in what is known as the “Patriarchy” movement. However, his conduct as a pastor makes it apparent that he is more of a misogynist than a Patriarch. “Let the women keep silent” (1 Cor. 13:34) is taken to such an extreme at BCA that women cannot make prayer requests or even introduce their guests. Women aren’t even permitted to get the elements of the Lord’s Supper for themselves. If their husbands aren’t present, they must be served by another man, or one of her sons, even if that son is too young to take the Lord’s supper himself. Mr. Phillips’ treatment of women is degrading and demeaning, and he does not treat them as fellow heirs of Christ Jesus. 5

Many of Mr. Phillips’ other views and practices are far more than just controversial, they are extremist and unbecoming of a pastor and a well-known Christian spokesman who many look to for godly leadership. 6 This notice calls Mr. Phillips to public repentance and to make restitution to the numerous Christians that he has harmed and offended.

_______________

  1. http://ministrywatchman.com/?p=74
  2. http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2006/12/18/doug-phillips-political-payback
  3. http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2006/12/16/doug-phillips-its-always-the-womans-fault
  4. http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2006/12/18/doug-phillips-excommunicates-by-star-chamber
  5. http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2006/12/12/muzzling-women
  6. http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2007/04/24/home-school-leaders-warned-about-doug-phillips

Article Temporarily Offline

Update: I received this comment from a reader today:

Sad to say, my wife and I predicted all of this years ago. We knew who Doug Phillips was, but he didn’t know who we were. We had the opportunity to watch his interaction with his wife and children over a 2-day period when no one else was around.

To this day, my wife and I remember this as one of the most difficult-to-watch episodes in our lives as Doug demeaned his wife and children, abusing them both verbally and emotionally time after time before turning to “meet his public” with an entirely different attitude.

Since then, we have watched his “public persona” and simply kept our mouths shut- knowing that this day would come… and my GUESS is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

One cannot say one thing and live another within the Kingdom of God indefinitely- there is eventually a day of public reckoning coming and it’s always painful to watch. Eventually it’s shouted from the housetops unless repentance deflects the judgment first.

Sad- but totally predictable to us from years ago.

***********************************************

After reviewing my article about my friend, David, and looking over my notes again, I realize that I need to make some changes, as some things weren’t as clear as they could have been. Doug Phillips’ accusations against David were so outrageous that I allowed myself to feel pressured into making a hasty response. I was in too much of a hurry to post it, so I am going to try to write it a little more clearly and will have it back up soon!

In the meantime, I will post a few links of related interest here.

Lawyer Sanctioned After Blowing Up at Process Server

Sharper Iron’s Editorial Response to Vision Forum – Notice the pattern in the four opening bullet points

Yellow Journalism

Vision Forum: The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy

More new articles on this story:

Take 3 – Jennie Chancey’s letter

Take 4

Take 5

Vision Forum: Culture of Deception by Doug Phillips’ Example?

“Mom, that was such a great birthday present!” ~~Natasha Epstein

Vision Forum’s widely advertised Open House on Saturday, April 21, 2007, promised lots of excitement and fun. With exclusive book signings, clearance specials, and workshops planned, this event portended a large turnout. Complete with refreshments and decorations and cops, it was a gala event.

Wait a minute! Did I say “cops?” What were the cops doing at a Vision Forum Open House? The last time we went to one of their Open Houses, there were several hundred people in attendance, but I don’t remember seeing any cops. In fact, I’ve attended many Vision Forum events and I don’t recall ever seeing any cops.

Oh, well, let’s get on with our coverage of this grand event. It seems that things were a little slow ’round about mid-afternoon. Vision Forum announced on their web site and their email list that Doug would be doing a book signing from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM. Anyone who wanted to meet Doug should have had no trouble doing so between those hours. Then the excitement suddenly began to pick up. In fact, for Doug Phillips, things suddenly got very exciting. Exciting as in heart-pumping, adrenaline-rush “Oh no! What do I do?” exciting. They say that a man’s true character is best shown when the veneer of his superficial exterior is suddenly stripped away by an event that catches him totally off-guard. That’s exactly what happened to Doug last Saturday.

The significant thing that I want my readers to see from this story is the fact that not only is Doug Phillips a deceiver, and that he told a whopper of a lie, Doug Phillips has created an entire culture of institutionalized deception within Vision Forum. Not only did perpetrate a deception last Saturday at the Vision Forum offices in front of multiple witnesses, including his own wife, he orchestrated the broader deception by instructing his staff that were present to lie for him, too. They all knew that he was on the premises, but they deceived someone who came there looking for him with “He’s not here.” Like the “honorable” people that Doug has trained them to be, they were only too eager to assist with Doug’s duplicity.

The following is the story of two people who were in attendance Saturday afternoon with Doug Phillips, ever so briefly, prior to being escorted off the premises. The one was a legal process server. The other is my daughter, Natasha. At the request of the process server and his company, I have blurred their names on the official notarized legal affidavit.

This entire incident took place on Natasha’s birthday. She called to tell me that Doug had given her one of the best birthday presents she’d ever received. Natasha now wants to reciprocate Doug’s thoughtfulness by including her personal testimony in this article.

Process Server: “Location is a business, Vision Forum. I first arrived at 3:07 PM. It appears they were having an open-house style function to develop more business. A man wearing a yellow Polo-style shirt greeted me as I entered the main entrance. The man appeared to me to be a security person. I mentioned I had a delivery for Mr. Phillips and he directed me to a young man named Peter [Last Name Unknown]. When I told Peter I had a personal delivery for Mr. Phillips, I was escorted down a few stairs into a warehouse-looking storage area. A table was positioned sideways in front of where I stood. There, I met Joshua Wean, CFO for Vision Forum, Inc., standing with three ladies. He stated he could sign for anything being delivered. At this point I informed him I was a process server and needed to deliver to Doug Phillips personally. I was escorted by Peter and Joshua into an office, apparently so as not to disturb the function and to discuss the situation privately. A person dressed in a Hollywood Park Police Officer uniform also stood inside the office door as we spoke. Joshua insisted he was able to sign for all company business. I informed him that what I have is addressed to Doug Phillips, not Vision Forum, therefore, as a process server I could not and did not feel comfortable leaving the package with him, since I did not know the contents of the documents being delivered. I then stated, “All I need to do is hand Mr. Phillips the letter and depart. Mr. Phillips won’t have to sign for anything.” Joshua and Peter wanted to know what the letter was about. I stated that it had something to do with a dispute over a movie or video, but that I didn’t know the specific details since I hadn’t read the letter. (I had put the letter it into an envelope and sealed it, before making the delivery.) At this point, Joshua discussed scheduling the delivery for Sunday or Monday. I said it would be illegal for me to deliver the documents on Sunday; however, I would make a call to get permission for Monday. I made the call and was told the package needed to be delivered that day because Doug Phillips was supposed to be there. I asked if Doug was on the premises and Joshua stated “Doug was scheduled to leave at 2:00 PM for another engagement”. By this time it was already approximately 3:15 PM, well past the time that Joshua told me that Doug was scheduled to leave. However, I was suspicious about this, since I had been specifically instructed that my best time to catch Doug Phillips at the event would be between 2:00 and 4:30 PM. It was because of that information that I arrived at 3:07 PM, to make sure that I would make an attempt during the time specified in my instructions. Joshua then made a phone call. Based upon the content of the conversation, it appeared to me that he was talking to Doug Phillips. Joshua asked him, “Are you still here?” After a few moments while Joshua listened, a response was relayed through Joshua, who asked, “Where are the documents from?” I informed them that I didn’t know for sure, but I could open the letter in front of everyone to determine where it was from if that would be agreeable to Mr. Phillips. (I made this offer with the understanding that the person on the phone was Doug Phillips, and that he was giving his permission for me to open and read the document). It was relayed through Joshua that I should open and read the letter to find out who it was from. I opened the letter and said it was from Joe Taylor at Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum. After a few “OKs” and “That’s what I needed,” Joshua hung up the phone. Joshua then stated “Mr. Phillips is not here.” He also said Doug Phillips would not be accepting anything from Joe Taylor and that all documents needed to be directed to their attorney. Joshua looked up and gave me the info for the attorney on a sticky yellow note. Don Hart, 7389 FM 3405 Liberty Hill, TX 78642. I shook hands with Joshua and Peter, thanked them, departed and called my superiors.”

Natasha: “The process server came and went, and then a friend and I showed up and walked in the doors around 4:15 PM. The first people we saw were the Ringers. I spotted Doug right behind them signing a book. I only saw one other family in attendance. The Ringers kept staring at me and whispering, and right after that, Doug looked my way and immediately bolted into his office. Some guy I didn’t recognize followed him. Beall peeked around the corner and saw me and whipped out her cell and started talking on it while she looked at me a couple times. This all happened within 2 minutes of my walking in the door. As soon as that all happened I called the process server’s boss while I was still standing by the front door and she said the process server was going to call me. So I moved and browsed around and Peter Bradrick came and said hello to my friend and me. The process server called at that time and I told him that Doug was in the building but he was hiding and I gave him a description. He showed up a few minutes later and two little girls at the front door asked him to fill out some sheet to enter in a drawing, and then I showed him what Doug looked like in a video that they had playing on a TV in the lobby and he took description notes.”

Process Server: “Around 4:00 PM I received a call from my superiors, directing me to return to Vision Forum and meet with a young lady, last name of Epstein. I was told that Ms. Epstein knew for certain that Doug is at the function now and she could point him out to me. When I arrived at 4:15 PM, I met Miss Epstein inside the foyer entrance. She said that Doug Phillips had spotted her, recognized her, and immediately ducked inside the office to the right. Miss Epstein also said she was seen by Doug’s wife and would probably be asked to depart at any minute. Miss Epstein pointed to a video playing on the lobby TV. She said it was Doug, so I studied the video for a few moments.”

Natasha: “We stood there for about two minutes when Josh Wean and three other Vision Forum employees came over and Josh said that this was private property and was going to have to ask us to leave.”

Process Server: “Just as I was about to fully enter the main area, another man dressed in a yellow Polo-style shirt (security?) approached us, said that this was private property and that we would have to leave. As instructed, Miss Epstein and I quickly left the building.”

Natasha: “So we exited the building and I turned around as I was walking out the door and said, ‘Nice seeing you again, Josh.'”

Process Server: “Once outside, Peter, the man who asked us to leave, and another man stood in front of the doors as if preventing entry back into Vision Forum. I spoke to Miss Epstein and told her the parking lot was also considered private property and that we should leave before anything else happened.”

Natasha: “Then we walked over to the process server’s car and talked about it and he said there was nothing he could do at the the moment because private property trumped what he was doing and that maybe he could have someone else come over and give it to him now that he had a description and all. Peter Bradrick and two others stood outside this whole time watching us and waiting for us to leave, so then we got in our cars to leave.”

Process Server: “As I was driving away, Peter flagged me down to ask why I came back for a second time. I said someone had identified Doug Phillips at the function, after I had departed the first time, and was told they would identify him to me so that I could make the delivery. Peter asked who hired me to which I could not give him the answer since I did not know. I showed him the top portion of the letter addressed with Joe Taylor’s contact information. Peter then asked for my business card, which I gave him; then I drove away.”
__________________

The process server’s boss appreciated Natasha’s assistance in verifying that Doug was indeed on the premises, and visually identifying Mr. Phillips for the process server, since both the VF employees and Doug Phillips lied about him not being there.

According to the Texas Rules of Civil Process, a process server has every right and reason to be on a property to do the job they are appointed to do. As a lawyer, Doug knows that. Doug also knows that a process server is an “officer of the court.” Doug orchestrated a deception on an officer of the court.

What I don’t understand is why he was asking the process server to leave, based on the private property trump card, when he was supposedly conducting a business function that was open to the public.

With all Doug’s talk last week about Christian men needing to be armed, I wonder why he was so afraid of a 20 year old young lady that he felt the need to run and hide in his office when Natasha arrived. What also doesn’t make sense is why he would run away and lie, and have his employees lie for him, over a letter from Joe Taylor. Joe isn’t even suing Doug. But this kind of avoidance is SOP for Doug.

Doug’s deceptive actions, and the deceptive example he sets for his employees, should really make people wonder whether anything he says can be trusted.

Official Public Notice To Doug Phillips

Joe Taylor Invites Doug Phillips To Peacemaker Mediation

This past Saturday, April 21, 2007, Joe Taylor attempted to have Doug Phillips served a letter at Vision Forum’s offices. Joe didn’t want to give Doug an opportunity to ignore a letter in the mail, or refuse a certified letter, so a legal process server was hired to ensure that Doug would receive Joe’s letter.

Vision Forum’s web site had advertised their annual open house was taking place on April 21. Vision Forum also announced that Doug would be available from 2:00 through 4:30 PM for a book signing. This was the obvious logical time to have the process server come to Vision Forum. But Doug never received Joe’s letter.

The entire incident of the process server’s story is in itself very intriguing and was, at least for me and several others who now know the story, quite humorous. But to hear it, you’ll have to come back Monday.

Here is Joe Taylor’s letter to Doug Phillips, posted here as a Public Notice.

April 20, 2007

Joe Taylor
Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum
124 W. Main, P.O. Box 550,
Crosbyton, TX 79322

Douglas W. Phillips
Vision Forum, Inc.
4719 Blanco Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78212

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matt. 5:23-24

Dear Doug,

I apologize for this request being served to you during your busy schedule, but you are gone a lot, and hard to reach.

In addition, the recent judgment from arbitration with the Pete DeRosas and myself has only served to heighten the unresolved conflicts between you and me.

In 2003, you wrote me to complain of my privately exposing your “documentary” video, “Raising The Allosaur.” This review was not actually made public then. However, why shouldn’t it be? Every film that comes out is reviewed and often very negatively.

In your letter to me of January 20, 2003, as well as other correspondence, you have taken the position that my exposure of your video somehow makes me guilty of “slander” and that what I have done “would be actionable defamation in any court of law.” You have accused me of “speaking evil of brothers without working through the biblical guidelines for conflict resolution.” You have accused me of many other things as well, all without any supporting evidence. For example, you’ve accused me of “blackmail.” You’ve even accused me of “anti-Semitism,” a truly outrageous allegation. I have many hundreds of pages of evidence, not to mention hundreds of photographs and many hours of video tape that I believe unequivocally makes my case.

You accuse me that, “You have consistently and willfully refused to follow any biblical guidelines for conflict resolution, notwithstanding our repeated recommendations to you to do just this.”

Yet, many of the very things that you have accused me of are the very things that you yourself are guilty of. And contrary to your accusations, I tried many times to meet with you and practice Matthew: 18, which you so often and loudly demand.

I agreed to mediation with you and Pete DeRosa both. You agreed as well. The problem is that while Pete and I made an appearance and signed the mediation agreement, you never even showed up. And you, Doug, the one who was so insistent, never signed the agreement. Needless to say, nothing has truly been “resolved” by the alleged “conflict resolution.”

It appears to me that the mediation was more a means to silence me and prevent further exposure of un-Christian deeds than it was to resolve conflicts.

I’ve attempted to resolve my differences with you many times. The fact that you evaded signing the mediation agreement doesn’t mean that our issues are resolved or that these problems have just gone away. I’m sure that you’re more than aware of the need to address our disputes. The Word tells us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18)

Many friends and associates in the past several years encouraged me to sue you, but I did not because I thought you were a Christian brother. (I Cor. 6:1-8)

Your January 20, 2003 letter states, “We are committed to following biblical guidelines of conflict resolution, arbitration and church discipline.”

I’d like to give you the opportunity to prove that you are sincere about that by extending the offer to you to discuss biblically-based Christian conflict resolution with me.

I’m told that Peacemaker Ministries claims that both their mediation and arbitration are biblically-based. Decisions can also be binding, and it is recommended that we agree to the details of this in advance.

All I’m asking you for at this time is a simple written “yes, I will discuss this with you,” or “no, I will not,” answer. The details would be worked out later. Please have a written response in my hands by May 5, 2007.

My offer is genuine, and made in the interests of the whole creationist as well as the home school community.

Doug, there has been entirely too much strife between us. It should be put to an end. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Phil. 2:3

In the bonds of Christ Jesus,

Joe Taylor

If you don’t know the story behind this letter, you may read it here.

Home School Leaders Warned About Doug Phillips

The following letter went out to a number of home school leaders across the nation and abroad. A copy was also sent to Doug Phillips asking for his response.

We know that there are many more leaders, home school groups, and home school families out there who need to hear this, so if you would like to forward this to them yourself, please feel free (just be sure the links are included). Or you can send us their email address and we would be glad to send it to them.

Dear Home School Leader,

I’ve been a Christian home educator for twelve years now and have been president of a local home school group for seven years. I’ve been active in the home school community for quite some time and have helped to coordinate numerous home school functions and co-ops in the San Antonio, Texas area and have worked at many homeschool conventions.

Home schoolers have worked very hard for a number of years to earn a good reputation for Christian home education. Our proven track record of educational excellence has largely overcome the criticisms of the government educrats. However, we need to remain ever vigilant to maintain that good reputation. If our reputation is undermined by any among us who have divisive and potentially harmful agendas, we stand to lose much.

It’s vital that the most prominent of our home school leadership be men and women of impeccable reputation and strong moral character. We’re very concerned that one of the most prominent of our home education leaders runs the risk of causing the entire home school movement great damage. We speak of Douglas W. Phillips, the founder of Vision Forum. We believe that Doug Phillips’ intentions may be good for his attempts to shed light on a number of wrongs that have crept into the Christian home, the church, and society on the whole, in recent decades. However, a number of Doug Phillips’ methods and ambitions for correcting these problems are seriously flawed. Rather than working to bring about reformation, Doug Phillips embraces opinions and methods which are reactionary, harmful and even potentially dangerous to the family and the church.

Home schoolers are already considered by many to be “radicals” and “extremists.” Of course, we know that most Christian home educators are actually very moderate and do their best to “live at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). However, Doug Phillips, even by many Christian home schooling standards, is very much an extremist. We’ve known Doug personally for many years and have spent much time studying and analyzing his opinions, as well as his actions. As a result, we’ve become increasingly concerned that Doug Phillips may be far more a liability than an asset to the Christian home school movement.

There is much to show how unhealthy and problematic Doug’s views are, and in this brief email we hope to demonstrate just a few of those. Our goal is to warn you as a Christian home school leader so that you can take any precautionary steps you deem appropriate to minimize any adverse impact to your own family and home school organization. In order to protect the Christian home school movement, we believe it is important that Doug Phillips be isolated and relegated to the outer fringes where he properly belongs, and where he can do little harm. We believe that it is risky for your organization to be identifying yourself with Doug Phillips, and to give him a platform from which he can promote his views. Please now allow us to explain why.

Doug Phillips has just expressed his views publicly on the massacre at Virginia Tech in an article entitled On The Horror At Virginia Tech. Though Doug makes some valid theological observations, his timing couldn’t have been worse. Doug is taking considerable heat over how insensitive and calloused his remarks appear to be. Most troubling is the fact that Doug is publicly advocating arming students. This is a classic example of Doug’s reactionary thinking. Because gun control advocates are calling for further gun control legislation, Doug reacts by saying the solution is to permit students to bring guns into the classroom. This isn’t to say that he wants all students armed, though. In Doug’s patriarchal world, only male students would be armed.

Doug Phillips is known as a significant leader of “Patriarchy,” a movement which seeks to restore homes and churches to an idyllic antebellum image, a time of chivalrous gentlemen and ladies in fluffy dresses. However, just below the surface of this superficial “Gone With The Wind” veneer lurks a far less honorable side. Doug Phillips often challenges radical feminism, and he’s right to do so. However, the solution to radical feminism isn’t a shift to the opposite extreme. Phillips’ views aren’t “complementarian,” or even just patriarchal, but rather hyper-patriarchal, a world in which women are effectively treated as doormats and not permitted to have any opinions of their own. Phillips’ patriarchy vision is an autocratic pseudo-feudal world in which women are completely dominated by husbands, and daughters are deprived of higher education and careers of any kind.

Doug Phillips’ jaded view of women is no more clearly evidenced than the way that he directs his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly, as its self-appointed and unordained pastor and sole elder. At BCA, “Let your women keep silence in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34) is interpreted in such an extreme manner that women aren’t even permitted to introduce guests, women aren’t permitted to make prayer requests, and women aren’t even permitted to get their own communion (if her husband isn’t present, she must be served by another man, or one of her own sons, even if that son is too young to partake of communion himself). We were members of Doug’s church for five years, and so our comments about this are based on personal experience.

Doug Phillips takes his low opinion of women into the marriage counseling setting as well. Where marital problems are brought to his attention, he’s known to avoid any judicious examination of underlying issues, but rather immediately side entirely with the husband and seek out any excuse to blame the wife for any problems. We know this not only because of what’s been reported to us, but because of what we personally experienced. Some of Phillips’ more common questions to husbands of troubled marriages are: “Isn’t your wife a dripping faucet and a nag?” “Isn’t your wife rebellious?” “Isn’t your wife a Jezebel?” In Doug Phillips’ world, the wife is always to blame. Doug Phillips is not known to have ever asked a wife, “Does your husband love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her?”

Considering the fact that women quite often are doing the majority of the practical teaching at home, and also making many of the decisions about home school curriculum, we consider it remarkable that Doug Phillips evidences all the tendencies of a misogynist. Since women are probably making many of the decisions about what materials to order from Vision Forum, and women make up such a large percentage of the home school leadership, one would think that Doug Phillips would want to treat women with much more regard than he does.

Doug Phillips is an attorney and claims to have a biblical world view about law and justice. He even sponsors an annual law conference. This is one of the reasons that we recently exposed Doug on the internet for having conducted a Kangaroo Court in his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly. For those who will take the time to carefully examine the facts, they will come away deeply troubled by the huge disparity between what Doug publicly espouses about justice versus what he actually practices when given the opportunity to exercise justice himself. Without any due process whatsoever, Doug Phillips unjustly excommunicated us for sins that we’d already repented of, as well as sins for which there wasn’t a shred of evidence to support. In fact, one of Doug’s charges against Jen was over a sin that she had committed years before she had even become a Christian, and years after she had repented of that sin! The Lord Jesus forgave her of that sin over seventeen years ago, but apparently Doug Phillips’ standards of forgiveness are far higher than the Lord’s.

After leaving Boerne Christian Assembly, we were welcomed into a church led by Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler. Pastor Wheeler’s church is a “sister church” to BCA. Aside from being a pastor, Little Bear Wheeler is a prominent home school leader and the founder of Mantle Ministries. Doug and Little Bear were close personal friends and have spoken from the podium at many of the same home school conferences and retreats. Little Bear Wheeler worked diligently for fourteen months to reconcile our relationship to Doug Phillips and BCA, but Doug refused to make an appearance for any of the numerous meetings that Little Bear arranged between us. Doug rebuffed all efforts at reconciliation. Worse yet, Doug retaliated against Little Bear by terminating their long friendship, and he even removed most, if not all, Mantle Ministries products from the Vision Forum catalog. For his kindness toward us, Doug Phillips shunned Little Bear Wheeler.

Doug Phillips is a significant leader in the “Family Integrated Church” movement. Many churches do indeed segregate family members by age and pressure parents to have their children participate in youth groups which, though often consistent with the values of public school parents, are often at odds with the values of “family integrated” home school parents. While well intentioned, the family integrated church movement, much like the patriarchy movement, has too often shown itself to be extremist, self-righteous and divisive. Rather than seeking to reform churches from within and wean them from being “programmatic,” the Family Integrated Church movement has become a “program” in itself and has caused a number of church splits. Though Doug Phillips has spoken on “how leave a church honorably,” much of the fruit of the Family Integrated Church movement has been anything but honorable.

Most troubling in its ramifications for how it could adversely impact the cause of Christian education is Doug Phillips’ video documentary “Raising The Allosaur.” Some have referred to this video as a “fakeumentary.” Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence that many of the claims made by Phillips in “Raising The Allosaur” are blatant fabrications. Phillips has never been able to provide any reasonable explanations for the glaring inconsistencies and serious allegations that have been put to him as a result of his video production, masquerading as a documentary. Phillips suffered so much negative public exposure for his fakeumentary that he withdrew it from the Vision Forum catalog, without any public explanation, and he did so in spite of the fact that “Raising The Allosaur” had been a very lucrative product for Vision Forum. Phillips’ fakeumentary has greatly harmed the cause of creationism. If even just a few of the allegations against this video are true, then Doug Phillips is guilty of perpetrating a huge fraud against many thousands of Christians, and especially against Christian home schoolers (in the video Phillips falsely credits home schoolers as having been responsible for finding the allosaur). Phillips owes the Christian public either an explanation or an apology. However, after many such demands, he has completely evaded doing either one. There are numerous other issues that call into question Doug Phillips’ integrity, but “Raising The Allosaur” may be the most glaring example yet.

Perhaps the single greatest risk of all though, in associating with Doug Phillips, are the numerous concerns expressed that he may be a closet racist. We ourselves are not prepared to make such an allegation. We believe that some of these allegations are based on the logical fallacy of “guilt by association.” The problem for Doug, though, is that some of the things that he has said and written do tend to cast strong suspicion on his views of race. Many of Doug Phillips’ personal heroes are notorious racists. As just one example, Doug has written a poem about Robert L. Dabney in which he says, “Hail Dabney, defender of the South!” This is an obvious reference to Dabney’s book, “A Defense Of Virginia and the South.” If you’ve read Dabney’s book, you already know that it was written for one purpose only — as a defense of Southern slavery. Dabney was the South’s strongest apologist for slavery. Dabney had an extremely low view of Blacks, believing that their only appropriate station in life was in perpetual servitude to Whites. For Doug Phillips to “Hail Dabney!” seems extremely problematic.

Doug has left himself wide open to scrutiny on the question of racism. This isn’t to say that we personally believe that Doug is a racist. We do believe, however, that Doug has been very foolish by using his close personal friends to make “racist” allegations against others, based on nothing but guilt by association, when his own associations with known racists are so problematic. We haven’t and we won’t accuse Doug being a racist. However, we believe that the allegations against him of racism are potentially very dangerous to the home school movement.

We would ask that you carefully consider the ramifications of your organization’s relationship with Doug Phillips, through his serving as a speaker at your conferences or otherwise, and the great harm that it could cause to not only your organization’s reputation, but to Christian home education in general, by promoting him and giving him a platform to advance his extremist views.

We recognize that some will choose to immediately dismiss our concerns on the assumption that this is some kind of “personal vendetta motivated by unforgiveness and bitterness.” That’s simply not the case. We both worked for nearly two years to privately reconcile with Doug. We attempted to do so by going through appropriate ecclesiastical channels with not just one, but two different different churches and their elders in our area. In both cases, Doug refused their offers of reconciliation. We’re not motivated by vengeance. We’re motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of the Christian home school movement.

Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

Yours for Christian Education,

Mark and Jennifer Epstein

_________________________

*Our concern about Doug Phillips’ blog article on Virginia Tech is not that Doug is a proponent of the Second Amendment. We are, too. But we also believe that Doug should be consistent. What Doug advocates is a disparity, based on gender. Men are free to carry guns anywhere, including to their college classes, and they do so allegedly to protect the poor, helpless women, while not allowing for women to carry guns for self-defense as well. What would happen if a public university was full of armed men and unarmed women? What would happen if everyone was armed and a debate ensued in a classroom? How long before the first gun came out? Or maybe we have a problem with the hypocrisy of Doug espousing that only the young men be armed, when we see this video of his daughter?

The Family Consequences of Ecclesiastical Abuse

I’ve been asked several times about the well-being of the Epstein family. Some have assumed that since we were kicked out of Boerne Christian Assembly that our lives would be the better for it and our family problems would be over. How I wish that were true. The fact is that the ecclesiastical abuses and tyranny that we experienced at BCA, under Doug Phillips’ heavy hand, have left deep wounds. Those wounds are still in the healing phase and the fallout from all this has had serious adverse consequences to the well-being of the Epstein family.

As I’ve stated before, we came to BCA not a perfect family, but at least our problems weren’t severe. In fact, our marriage was the best it had ever been. Our marital problems could have all been worked through and resolved, if only we had had a loving and compassionate pastor.

The problems with our children in particular were mild and could have been easily addressed. Those problems were the result of the issues in our marriage and the fact that we had only recently learned biblical parenting skills and techniques. Children know when things aren’t going well between dad and mom, and when those problems aren’t dealt with in a healthy manner, then the risk is high that one or more of the children will rebel.

We came to BCA with some baggage, but then that’s how a lot of couples come to church. It’s also one of the reasons they come to church in the first place — to get rid of their baggage. Many people come to church not because they epitomize the “perfect family” that desires to fellowship with other perfect families, but because they know they’re not perfect. They know they need help. What better place to get help than from the church of Jesus Christ? At least that’s what we thought. Some have likened the church to a hospital, a place where the sick come for healing and to convalesce. Once they’re made well, they’re that much better equipped to relate and minister to others in similar predicaments.

We come to church to be healed, not harmed. When we’re harmed by our own brethren, and in particular by men in ecclesiastical authority, men in positions of trust, men we place our confidence in, the consequences are often devastating. Many who have written about ecclesiastical abuse liken it to being raped. It may not be a literal raping, but it feels much the same.

“It took several years to understand and label the deep devastation and trauma I was experiencing. My symptoms were identical to the symptoms of those who suffered from sexual or physical abuse. How could this possibly be? Was I abused?” Ken Blue, a pastor in Southern California, explains very simply that abuse of any type occurs when someone has power over another and uses that power to hurt. Physical abuse means that someone exercises physical power over another, causing physical wounds. Sexual abuse means that someone exercises sexual power over another, resulting in sexual wounds. And spiritual abuse happens when a leader with spiritual authority uses that authority to coerce, control or exploit a follower, thus causing spiritual wounds… It was so difficult to understand what was happening to me emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. I didn’t understand that I was having the same reactions as someone who had been raped.” Toxic Churches, Marc A. Dupont, pages 34, 37.

A woman who has been raped will very likely have a hard time trusting men again. She can be terribly confused about sex. She may equate sex with her own husband as being hurtful and even evil. She’ll have difficulties with trust in relationships. Just like with a literal physical rape, ecclesiastical rape destroys trust in church leaders. It can be very difficult to ever trust church elders again. This is what we faced when we subsequently came to Faith Presbyterian Church. It was extremely hard for us to trust those elders, but we knew that it was important for our healing and spiritual growth to do so. After that failed attempt, it will now just be that much more difficult to ever join a church again. It’s not that we’re not open to it. It’s just very hard to even consider trusting elders again.

Our BCA experience feels like we were raped, but it can also be summarized as “betrayal.” Betrayal by someone in authority can have devastating and long term consequences. We’re now living daily with the consequences of Doug’s betrayal, and those consequences have been devastating to our family.

[Ecclesiastical abuse] is not only wrong because of the misuse of authority and immediate harm to the victim, but it is deeply wrong because basically it is betrayal. It is betrayal of… the follower, who by the very nature of the relationship is usually very trusting and somewhat dependent on the one with power. In such cases the long-term effects of betrayal can, in fact, be ruinous to the overall mental and spiritual health of victims for the rest of their lives if healing is not found. Subsequent relationships with friends, loved ones and potential friends and loved ones can often fail ever to reach the true potential of love and trust. This betrayal and hurt can rob the victim of the freedom of trusting and choosing to be vulnerable again. Toxic Churches, Mark A. Dupont, page 14.

We came to BCA with some marital issues in the past, although things seemed to be going rather well when we first began attending there. We had had similar issues that many Christian couples have. Our problems weren’t in any way unique, nor were they complex or insurmountable. But after Mark started hearing Doug’s “vision” on how the man was to be the head of his family, Mark became quite frustrated. Every week, he would hear something about men leading, but he was never taught what that actually looked like. He attempted to work that out for himself, but it ended up that our marriage was taking 2-3 steps backward for every step forward in this “vision.” We thought we could trust Doug Phillips, so we shared, in confidence, our problems. We trusted Doug to keep those things in confidence. Isn’t it a given that a pastor will keep things in confidence, particularly sensitive family matters? Doug betrayed our confidences. Rather than using the information we shared with him to provide us with wise, biblical counsel, Doug used everything we told him against us. In his hyper-patriarchal framework, I was the bad guy. According to Doug, I was a “whore,” a “Jezebel,” a “nag,” and a “dripping faucet.” All the fault had to be mine. Doug Phillips is not known to have ever asked a wife, “Does your husband love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her?”

This is the presupposition of the hyper-patriarch. Doug ignored all the evidence to the contrary, including the very testimony of my husband. This isn’t to say that I was without sin. It is to say that I was never guilty of the things that Doug accused me of, and that he tried to convince my husband that I was guilty of. Unfortunately, for a time at least, my husband did start to believe those things about me. Later he repented, and I’ve forgiven him for that.

Our relatively minor marital problems were severely exacerbated by Doug’s “counseling.” Rather than confronting Mark’s anger problems, Doug justified Mark’s anger by blaming me for allegedly being “unsubmissive” and even “rebellious.” Doug never provided any evidence that I was unsubmissive. It was just assumed that I was. Rather than working to resolve our problems, Doug immediately looked for someone to blame, and a hyper-patriarch will always blame the wife. Rather than diminishing Mark’s anger issues, Doug only fueled the fires of Mark’s anger. Abusive pastors just breed abuse in the home. Rather than helping our marriage, Doug sabotaged our marriage.

Looking back on it now I can plainly see that we made a major mistake in ever sharing our hearts with Doug. What we didn’t understand at the time is that Doug has a certain image, a “vision,” of what BCA must be. BCA isn’t a church for the wounded and hurting. BCA is a church for those who already have their act together, and if they don’t have their act together, they’d better keep their problems to themselves. They’d better just do their best to act like the vision. Disclosing family problems is a threat to Doug’s “vision.” It upsets Doug’s image of the perfect church. By disclosing our problems we became a threat to his vision. We had to be condemned and removed.

The trust that Doug violated with us has bred distrust in our own home. One of our marital problems was trusting one another. Doug only fanned the flames of distrust. Since then it’s been just that much more difficult for Mark and me to trust one another.

Perhaps the single greatest consequence to our family is how it’s affected our eldest daughter, Natasha. Prior to coming to BCA, I had a reasonably good relationship with Natasha. Natasha and I spent countless hours talking together and sharing our hearts. As a stay at home, home school mom, I always had lots of time for Natasha. Doug’s betrayal made a deep and lasting impression on Natasha, and the subsequent consequences to her, in particular, have been devastating. Natasha trusted us with our decision to join BCA. That decision proved to be one of the biggest mistakes of our lives. We have to accept responsibility for our decision, and we do. We were the ones who made that decision, and I grieve every day over what that’s done to our family, and her in particular.

When Mark and I were “excommunicated,” BCA shunned us. But they didn’t just shun Mark and me, they shunned our entire family. Overnight, Natasha lost all of her friends. What sin was she guilty of? Nothing, other than being an Epstein. In some ways, Natasha has been even more betrayed than Mark and me. Natasha was an obedient and godly young lady, a young lady that even Doug was proud to have as a member of his church. She was even the runner-up for a Vision Forum writing contest, but shortly after our “excommunication” Doug removed her name from the Vision Forum web site. He punished her for no other reason than that she’s an Epstein.

Doug now bears much responsibility for causing a Christian teenager to stumble. Natasha became so disillusioned that she left home and has turned far away from Doug’s extreme teachings ever since then. We pray for her every day, but we also understand why it’s happened. It’s hard to blame her after everything she’s been through. Doug bears a heavy liability for what’s become of her.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt. 18:6

Putting the pieces back together again won’t be easy. For one thing, we know that we need pastoral help. But after everything we’ve been through, how are we to ever trust another pastor? Yes, we know that all pastors aren’t like Doug. The problem for us is in being able to accurately identify a pastor we can trust (our subsequent FPC experience hasn’t helped). Thankfully, we do have a few godly and faithful Christian friends who have been compassionate and understanding toward us. The Lord does provide.

Our family isn’t better for our BCA experience. It’s been a nightmare that we’re still suffering the consequences from. Our family problems haven’t been resolved, but we pray every day that they will be. We’re not going to give up and allow the Enemy to have the victory.

Some have assumed that our blogs are about “vengeance,” motivated by “unforgiveness” and bitterness.” They are not, and that’s not what we’re about. Our objective is motivated entirely by our great concern that if we’re silent, Doug will be given the opportunity to just continue abusing other Christian families. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I had an opportunity to speak out and possibly prevent it, but because of cowardice I remained silent. From what I’ve read about ecclesiastical abuse, that’s what most people do. They just walk away from it without saying a thing. That’s the easy way out, but it just leaves the tyrant in a position to harm others. My conscience won’t allow me to do that. What I’m doing isn’t popular, and it’s certainly not making me many friends, but I believe it’s the right thing to do.

Doug Phillips on Conflict Resolution

“Myles, why have you turned so bitter toward us? We never meant you wrong! Can’t we talk about this?”


This is a line from Doug Phillips’ latest Jonathan Park series, The Hunt for Beowulf, in The Return to Iwo Jima, part 3. Listen to what Doug Phillips actively purports as biblical conflict resolution in this story:

The Creation Response Team had a previous falling out with one of its former members, Myles Morgan. When they all cross paths again in an exciting adventure in Iwo Jima, Myles starts firing some old Japanese WWII weapons at the Creation Response Team. Jonathan Park’s father, Dr. Kendall Park, implores him, “Myles, what are you doing?”

Tauntingly, Myles retorts, “I’m eliminating the competition!”

Dr. Park then pleads with him: “Myles, why have you turned so bitter toward us? We never meant you wrong! Can’t we talk about this?”

This seems to be what Doug Phillips is advocating as biblical conflict resolution. I have no problem with this. In fact, since neither of us have ever attempted to shoot at one another, our relationship shouldn’t be nearly as far gone as that of Myles Morgan and the Creation Response Team. As producer of the Jonathan Park series, Doug’s fingerprints are all over each episode, so I can only assume that this is what Doug is personally advocating.

So, since I know that Doug Phillips reads my blog, this invitation is personally to you, Doug:

Why have you turned so bitter against us? We never meant you wrong! Can’t we talk about this?

Doug, you know how to reach me; you know where I am. I’m ready to sit down and talk about this, one on one. You choose the time and the place.

Doug Phillips Shuns “Little Bear” Wheeler

What is the difference between this year’s Vision Forum catalog and those of the last several years? Little Bear Wheeler is AWOL. He’s not there. He’s simply disappeared from Doug’s catalog, and from Doug’s life entirely.

Hasn’t Little Bear Wheeler and his Mantle Ministries always been a major part of Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum catalog? Wasn’t his whole history section always centered around his very good friend, Little Bear? Didn’t they used to put on Father/Son retreats together? Weren’t they close personal friends?

Little Bear Wheeler and Doug Phillips only live a few miles apart. Why is Doug now refusing to have anything to do with Little Bear? What’s the big rift over? It’s over me. Us. The Epsteins.

I told a little bit of that story in a comment recently, but I didn’t name names. A few people have accurately guessed who I was talking about, in some comments that they posted here (which I didn’t approve). It’s probably just a matter of time before a lot more people figure this out too, so I am going to go ahead and tell some more of the story here, including the names. I have decided to come forward with Little Bear’s name because of what he did for us. Little Bear Wheeler went way above and beyond the call of duty. Little Bear Wheeler deserves to have homeschoolers know that he is a loving, selfless and biblically-minded man who is worthy of their support.

When we were first excommunicated, we went to visit Little Bear Wheeler’s church. This church was also in what we all called “the community,” a group of churches that all started from BCA. They were not church splits, but were started as a result of some differences of personalities. All four churches in “the community” loved one another. We all fellowshipped together often. But that all changed when the Epsteins were excommunicated. Then it all stopped. It stopped because Doug Phillips required that all the other churches shun us as well. But not everyone agreed with Doug, and that included Little Bear Wheeler.

We were upfront with Little Bear about our being under “church discipline” from the moment we arrived. Little Bear not only welcomed us with open arms, he immediately took time to find out what was going on and asked me over the next day. Being the history buff that he is, when I told him my story, he said, “This sounds just like the Salem Witch trials.” He then asked us to stay at his church for six months while he and the other three elders attempted to clear up the situation with Doug Phillips. We agreed.

It was a time of being greatly loved by this church and by Little Bear and another elder in particular, who took us under their wing and spent time with us daily. They did all that they knew to do to help us with our marriage. This in itself was in huge contrast with what we experienced at Boerne Christian Assembly where, rather than helping our marriage, Doug’s so-called “marriage counseling” only made things much worse. Little Bear and his elders also attempted to contact Doug many times for the express purpose of facilitating reconciliation. The problem was that Doug refused to cooperate.

Little Bear was one of Doug’s best friends for many years (see here and here and here), but when Little Bear took us in, Doug Phillips became extremely angry with him and refused to have anything to do with him and his family again. They were already scheduled to speak together at a Father/Son retreat six months after our excommunication, and although they spoke at the same retreat together, Doug absolutely refused to speak to Little Bear the entire time they were there. Little Bear even left a note for Doug under his door asking to speak to him, but Doug refused to even acknowledge Little Bear.

Although we only attended church there for six months, Little Bear and his co-elders worked for 14 months trying to get Doug Phillips to reconcile, but Doug refused even to meet with any of them. When Doug finally did meet with Little Bear, after some 14 months, Doug accused Little Bear of sinning for “fellowshipping with sinners.” Little Bear and the other elders did say that if they had it to do all over again, they would do the same thing. We are grateful to them.

Little Bear’s business/ministry, Mantle Ministries, was directly linked to Doug Phillip’s Vision Forum as well. They run in the same circles, they speak at the same conferences, and they sell some of the same products. They used to work together on numerous projects. Since Doug had the upper hand business-wise, Little Bear was very concerned that Doug would ruin him financially when we started telling our story through Ministry Watchman, and he was distressed at the thought of his name being made public. At that time, we decided not to publicly use Little Bear’s name, for fear of what Doug might do to him. We know that Doug is very much about vengeance, not just because of what he’s done to us, but what he’s done to so many others, as well. We didn’t want to see Little Bear hurt, but the fact is that Doug Phillips paid back Little Bear long before we went public with our story anyway.

I think it’s time to publicly thank Little Bear Wheeler for the incredibly selfless man that he is, and the kindness that he’s shown us. His charity has cost him dearly. He truly lives out the verse, “We ought to obey God rather than man.” Little Bear loved us when we were beaten down and deeply disillusioned with the church. He loved us as a true under-shepherd of Jesus Christ at a time when we had grown skeptical of pastors. He tried all he could to bear our burdens. He welcomed those who were deeply hurting and had no place else to go. He even went so far as to continue helping us for eight more months after we left his church. Little Bear was willing to risk losing his friendship, and a profitable business relationship, with a man who had been his good friend for a long time. He truly loved God more than “mammon.”

Little Bear Wheeler is a truly honorable man, and this is the honorable man that Doug Phillips is shunning because of us. Little Bear Wheeler is now paying a heavy price for having done nothing more than loving and caring for us — for being pastoral. For fourteen months Little Bear Wheeler attempted to facilitate reconciliation between us and Doug Phillips. For all his charitable efforts, Little Bear has been subjected to a dose of The Phillips Treatment.

When you see Little Bear at a homeschool conference this year, or one of his incredible retreats, please encourage him and let him know that he did the right thing in the eyes of God. His reward will be an eternal one.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” I Cor. 3:11-15

How Doug Phillips Lost His Vision for the Second Greatest Commandment

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

Why is it that some churches can have right doctrine, right theology, the right values, emphasize the right Bible verses, have the right world view, and yet after only a short time of doing things right something goes terribly wrong? What starts out as something very special is soon corrupted.

When I first started attending BCA, Doug Phillips had just finished preaching a series of messages on “one another-ing.” The church had studied how to love one another, greet one another, care for one another’s burdens, be hospitable, forgive one another, serve one another, give preference to one another, admonish and exhort one another, among many other commands on how we are treat our brothers and sisters in Christ. We stepped in right as BCA had been saturated with learning the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That first year there, I cannot recall any bickering or fighting or backbiting whatsoever. There was no gossiping and Matthew 18 just wasn’t necessary. There definitely was no judgmental spirit.

On my very first Sunday at BCA, we were invited the next day to a special event that was taking place at an IBLP conference. Lew Sterrett was going to be teaching the Sermon on the Mount by breaking a wild horse, so I thought appropriate attire, in August in South Texas, would be short shorts and a tank top (my values about attire were much different then). When I showed up, it quickly became apparent that ALL the other women were in long dresses, but no one judged me that day. Not one person said a word and many of the women came up and greeted me anyway. We were invited to dinner the next week at a home where the family did all dress very conservatively. Again, no judging.

So what changed? Why today are so many BCA women afraid to be seen in public in pants? Why do some women go out of their way to avoid those they know are going to say something about their choice of clothing? Why do some women feel it is their responsibility to tell everyone else how to dress? Did I miss that verse in the one another-ing list?

I really don’t know what changed, but I can point to some patterns that I noticed. The first situation that stands out in my mind regards leaders setting the example. The first year we were at BCA, Doug Phillips was present nearly every Sunday and he preached at least half the time. Church was held at his home and he would sometimes go down to the end of the road and stand there and greet everyone coming in. He was always a very gracious host and was constantly available. Since church at BCA was nearly an all day event, we were often at Doug’s home from 10 in the morning until 5 or 6 in the evening. Doug would set the example in loving one another during that time and was nearly always mixing with the brothers all day.

And then we moved. Or rather, the Phillips family moved, and so the church moved with them. That conference season, Doug had a sharp increase in speaking engagements, and he was gone quite a bit more than before. When he was home on a Sunday, he would usually still spend time with other members, but he seemed to disappear a while before most of us went home. It was only a matter of time until he would go take a nap on Sunday afternoons rather than stay and fellowship in his own home, or sometimes he would just sleep all day on Sunday.

By the time the church moved again, a couple years later, Doug Phillips was only showing up once a month. Now, I understand his ratio averages once every two months. The last year I was at BCA, on the Sundays Doug would actually show up, he would usually arrive late and would often leave immediately after the sermon, while the rest of us were still praying. Doug is now a Christian celebrity and has very little time to care for his flock.

So how much one another-ing is Doug Phillips practicing now? How much love does he show for the brethren? (We won’t even talk about the sisters in this article!) How much time does he invest in his sheep? It’s not like he’s just another traveling man in the congregation. Doug was our SOLE elder. Where was he? I think of Jesus’ example of being a shepherd when He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and they know Me.”

Pastors are often known as “under-shepherds,” meaning that they care for Christ’s sheep under His authority. Clearly, an under-shepherd should know his sheep and know them well. Did we know Doug? Did he know us? At first it really seemed that he did, and that he really cared for us. But as Doug’s popularity grew, and his travel itinerary intensified, he soon became a stranger to us. Doug not only no longer cared about us, it was apparent that his celebrity status had gone to his head. Doug started treating us as though he was better than us.

A particular speech I really enjoy giving is entitled, “How Do Children Spell Love? T-I-M-E.” As sheep without a shepherd, how does Doug show that he loves us? How can he possibly “one another” us when he’s not there? When he runs out the door immediately after the conclusion of the church service, rather than staying to fellowship and minister to his sheep, how is he demonstrating love?

Do you know how often Doug invited church members over to his home just to fellowship? I’m not talking about just church parties. He was great at putting on a party where he would be the center of attention. I’m just talking about having a family over for dinner. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that part of being an elder? There were 20 families at BCA. In five years, Doug and Beall never invited us over for dinner. They never invited 90% of the church over for dinner or fellowship. Doug talks about hospitality a lot and he has the interns over all the time and he has out of town guests over all the time, but he didn’t have his own sheep over, nor did he accept invitations from church members for dinner. Is that a biblical example of one another-ing?

Could it be that underneath the vision for Patriarchy, the vision for men leading their families, the vision for submissive wives, the vision for age-integrated church, the vision for correct doctrine and theology, the vision for music that glorifies God, the vision for doing “church” God’s way, that somewhere along the way, Doug forgot the most important ingredient – the second greatest commandment? Talking about love is a good first step. Spending TIME with people is living it out. Doug Phillips is so busy with his vision, he has no TIME for people anymore. Time equals love.

Does Doug Phillips Have a Mother?

“It’s a son’s task in life to spread the fame and the glory of his father in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ spread the fame and the glory of His Father in heaven.”

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A friend recently asked me this seemingly odd question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” I had to laugh because I understood immediately what my friend was really asking me. Doesn’t everyone have a mother? Yes, and of course Doug Phillips has a mother. Why then does Doug so seldom ever speak of his mother, or even publicly acknowledge her?

Doug Phillips is known for his teachings about honor, a subject which he seems to take extremely seriously. It’s also a subject that he’s used to make tremendous profits from.

The subject of honor is much needed in both the world and the church today. In fact, before I sat under Doug’s teaching and preaching, I didn’t know much at all about honor and the 5th Commandment. It was a foreign concept to me. I learned a lot about honor from Doug Phillips’ teaching and from what I saw lived out in his life… at least with his father. My friend is well justified, though, in asking about Doug Phillips’ mother. Doug seldom ever mentions her, whereas he routinely “spread the fame and the glory of his father.”

There’s no question that our culture has lost interest in honoring parents, elders, and others that Scripture instructs us to honor. Doug Phillips is rightly challenging a culture of dishonor. However, sometimes in their enthusiasm to right a wrong, Christian leaders have a tendency to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. In other words, they become extremists. I believe that is the case with at least some of Doug’s teachings, and this includes what he teaches regarding honor. When does honor become adulation? When does honor place practically as much value on men as on God or His Word? When does honor cross the line into becoming idolatry?

Doug has set a good example for us in showing us how we should honor our military veterans, our fathers, our pastors and teachers, and others who have positively influenced our lives. But I had to cringe when Doug teamed up with his father, Howard Phillips, and the elder and younger Sprouls, for a conference on honoring parents last May. It was bad enough that Doug Phillips was obviously honoring a man who had just been recently defrocked by the RPCGA for ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny, tax fraud, breaking his ordination vows, and other serious things. Doug Phillips took a public stand with RC Sproul, Jr as a speaker when RC, Jr had just been severely disciplined by his presbytery. Rather than submitting to the RPCGA, Sproul publicly dishonored the Presbyterian elders that he vowed to submit to by publicly disparaging them.

I looked at my own excommunication by Doug Phillips and saw that he had required that ALL Christians not only treat me as a heathen and a publican, but never to even eat with me, as Doug would consider that a sin. Doug Phillips expected everyone to uphold what he tried to pawn off as a biblical excommunication. But did he follow that same biblical pattern when his own good friend, RC Sproul Jr, was justly disciplined and that he’s never repented of? At least RC, Jr. admitted to some of the accusations leveled against him. But he has not repented, and he is currently preaching in open rebellion to the presbytery that disciplined him. But Doug Phillips chose to honor a defrocked minister, and he insists that others honor him too.

Then Doug Phillips went on to speak about honoring his father. Anyone who knows the least little bit about Doug Phillips will agree that Doug obviously honors his father. No one can dispute that. And we can learn some things from his example. But has that sense of honor gone a little overboard? Does Doug Phillips go on and on and on in talking about his father to the point of making those around him uncomfortable? Has he elevated his father to a level that is above honor? Does it border on idolatry? When I compare his honor of his father to that of his mother, I certainly have to wonder.

Which brings me back to my friend’s question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” Well, of course he has a mother, but what my friend was really asking was if Doug Phillips preaches so much about the fifth commandment, and we see his constant and extreme honor of his father, did he forget the other half of the commandment? Why don’t we see Doug honor his mother?

If you look through Doug’s blog, for instance, you will see Doug write about his father over and over and over again. That’s good. But, now go look for his mother. If I remember correctly, Doug has only mentioned her three times. I may be off in my total, but not by much. Why the disparity?

From personal experience, I remember several occasions when Doug’s father would attend BCA. Although he had been several times previously, and everyone already knew who Howard Phillips was, Doug always made a point of introducing his father each time anyway. It was never a nice, simple introduction, but was usually an elaborate occasion, another opportunity for Doug to “honor” his father. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t seen how he “honored” his mother when she came to visit. I only remember her coming to visit once while I was there (she may have come on a Sunday when I was not in attendance; I am not saying that she only came just once.) But I do clearly remember the lack of any introduction of his mother that Sunday. That is how I remember Doug “honoring” his mother.

When I went on a tour with Doug Phillips once, and his mother was in attendance, I do not recall him paying her any special attention, and this is in stark contrast to the considerable attention that he never fails to give his father. Whenever we had the opportunity to observe Doug’s interaction with his parents it was always apparent that Doug’s treatment of his father was vastly different from that toward his mother.

Again, why? Does Doug’s mother not deserve as much honor as his father? Did she do something horrible to Doug growing up? Doesn’t the fifth commandment include both father and mother? I could speculate, but I’d rather not do that. However, something is terribly wrong and even hypocritical about the glaring disparity between the way Doug honors his father and the way he doesn’t honor his mother.

One thing is obvious though; if Doug Phillips were one to honor his mother, it’s unlikely that anyone would ever ask the question, “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?”

Doug Phillips Refuses Reconciliation With The Epsteins

“This is not about reconciliation; this is only about the Epsteins repenting.”

We were informed last week that Doug Phillips has refused to be reconciled with us.

Doug Phillips has rejected the peacemaking/reconciliation proposal that the elders at Faith Presbyterian Church of San Antonio attempted to facilitate. As I wrote previously, we were very encouraged to know that all the FPC elders have gone through the Peacemaker Ministries training and that several of them are “Certified Christian Conciliators.” We were led to believe that if anyone could help us, these men could. We also believed that Doug would be hard pressed to refuse to enter into Christian conciliation when it was to be facilitated by men who are certified with a conciliation ministry that is as highly respected as Peacemaker Ministries. Doug Phillips told the elders that there is only one way for the Epsteins to be reconciled with me; they must come to me and repent fully without any equivocation of everything that we excommunicated them for, and they also have to repent for blogging about me.

Doug Phillips told the FPC session that our blogging about him “hurt him.” We’re not exactly sure what that means (did we hurt his feelings?), but that’s obviously just a smoke screen and a means of shifting focus from the original issues. We weren’t excommunicated for blogging about Doug Phillips, so even if we were to now “repent” to him for blogging about him, as far as he’s concerned, it wouldn’t change anything anyway. He remains convinced of all of his original allegations against us, and he sees no problems with his Kangaroo Court excommunication of the Epsteins.

From Doug’s perspective, the Epsteins are 100% wrong, he’s 100% right, end of discussion. We have to admit to everything he accuses us of, we’re not allowed to accuse him of anything, and if we won’t do that, he won’t ever lift the excommunication judgment against us. In other words he seeks to hold us as hostages in a state of perpetual spiritual enslavement.

Although many others have commented that Doug’s behavior is “cultish,” we ourselves have avoided making those allegations. However, in the future we may not avoid making those kinds of allegations ourselves. Doug has now more than proven to us that he’s completely devoid of any character attributes that would qualify him as a shepherd, and it would seem that he does evidence all the character attributes of a (sociological) cult leader.

For those who’ve been following this story, you already know why Doug’s dictatorial formula for reconciliation can’t possibly work, and why reconciliation by such autocratic edicts is futile. Doug Phillips’ latest decree requires that we lie. We would have to lie because what Doug demands is that we confess sins and beg forgiveness of things:

  1. That we’re not guilty of and that no one can provide any evidence that we’re guilty of.
  2. That I committed years before I even became a Christian, and that I confessed and repented of years ago.
  3. That are so vague and ambiguous that we can’t possibly comprehend what they even are.
  4. That in the case of the few charges that we were guilty of, we confessed and repented of those things, but Doug excommunicated us any way.

In other words we’d have to lie. We’d have to bear false witness about ourselves. We’d have to break the ninth commandment. Furthermore, we’d have to lie by saying that our blogging about Doug is sinful. We have no such convictions and no one has provided any credibly biblical support to show that our blogging about Doug was a sin.

We didn’t take our blog articles offline because we believed that our blogging about Doug was sinful. We took them down only because the FPC session asked us to as a means of paving the way for reconciliation. They also told us to refrain from any further blogging about Doug and BCA, as well as commenting on other blogs, during the time they pursued peacemaking and reconciliation with Doug on our behalf. We complied with everything we were told to do (and no, we didn’t comment anywhere under aliases either). We complied fully with every single thing the FPC session required of us, and we did so without a complaint. In so doing, we hoped to demonstrate that we’re not rebellious and we’re quite capable of submitting to elders. We also wanted to demonstrate our sincerity in seeking reconciliation.

Obviously, though, Doug shares no such interest. During the time of our compelled silence, Doug Phillips’ close personal friends and “former interns” continued their assaults against us with a string of false accusations and weird conspiracy theories. It was no easy thing for us to keep quiet while we were being falsely accused. Our compelled silence only served as an opportunity to show the world Doug Phillips’ true nature. Doug Phillips is a master saboteur. When he was our pastor, we came to him for help with our marriage, but instead of helping us, he effectively sabotaged our marriage. In fact, he sabotaged our entire family. Our children have yet to recover from the betrayal they were subjected to by Doug Phillips.

It therefore came as no surprise to us that Doug would employ the services of his close personal friend and political hatchet man, Matt Chancey, and his “former interns” (often used as code language for “current Vision Forum employees”) in particular, to keep up a steady assault against us during our time of compelled silence, in an all too obvious attempt to sabotage our relations with Faith Presbyterian Church. With two phone calls or emails, Doug could’ve called for a cease fire. But continuing to smear us by his internet assassin friends and “former interns,” while he knew we had to remain silent, gave him a huge advantage. We believe, however, that many were paying close attention and that all Doug’s tactics really accomplished were to confirm what a bully he really is.

Not only is Doug a bully but he’s a politician. He was raised by a politician and has been well trained in political scheming. Tragically, it appears now that Doug Phillips has successfully sabotaged our formerly good relations at Faith Presbyterian Church. Make no mistake, it took more than a couple of attack-blogs by his friends and “former interns” to accomplish that. Doug himself was personally and actively involved in that.

Unless we’re provoked into making additional disclosures about that situation, we’re not likely to blog about FPC. At this point we’ll just say that we’re very disappointed with the FPC session, and their apparent lack of courage in standing up to a bully. We did warn them that Doug can be not only cunningly persuasive but that he will resort to threats and intimidation to get what he wants. It appears now that the FPC elders were cowed by Phillips in a similar way that the pastor of our previous church was cowed. He, too, attempted to facilitate reconciliation on our behalf, but he proved himself less than manly.

The only bright spot in all this is that it didn’t take two years like it did last time. Last time, Doug agreed to meet for reconciliation. In fact, he agreed multiple times, only to cancel every single meeting at the last minute. After 14 months of attempting to set up a meeting with Doug Phillips, he finally met with the elders of our last church, only to accuse them of sinning as well. We warned the FPC session of Doug’s MO of cancelling meetings and using intermediaries and blaming everyone but himself. FPC agreed with us that they wouldn’t wait around for months for Doug to make an appearance, and they agreed with us that they couldn’t negotiate with Doug’s intermediaries. Reconciliation can only occur with the parties who were directly involved in the original offense.

This time, after only a few cancellations, Doug actually did meet with the elders. But just like he did with the previous church session, he called the FPC session “wicked sinners for fellowshipping with and entertaining ex-communicants.” Apparently that may have been all it took to cow the FPC session.

We had been told not long ago, “Doug Phillips apparently expects everyone to have to shun you. If he expects the FPC session to do that he’s going to be disappointed.” In the end, though, it was the FPC session that bent to Doug’s will. Through political arm-twisting, or threats, or whatever other pressures he brought to bear, Doug Phillips “won.” Doug Phillips sabotaged our peacemaking efforts. But is Doug’s refusal of peacemaking and reconciliation really a “win” for him? We don’t think so. In fact, it’s likely to only hurt his reputation even more.

In spite of our great disappointment with the FPC session, we don’t intend to speak further about them. We therefore would prefer to not address any questions regarding FPC. Our blogging is going to remain focused on the problem, and the problem is Doug Phillips.

We won’t be making any more attempts at reconciliation with Doug Phillips. Having now exhausted every conceivable avenue of reconciliation with Doug Phillips, we believe that we have no choice but to re-post all our former articles.

More to come… soon.

Peacemaking: The Biblical Response to Our Conflict With Doug Phillips

To all our readers, greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose blood is sufficient to atone for even the vilest sins of any who truly thank Him for His righteous life and substitutionary death.

We’ve requested membership at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) in San Antonio, Texas. We have fully described our excommunication by Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) to our Session of Elders. The Session has agreed to work with us toward reconciliation and restoration, and we have agreed to submit to their authority as ordained Elders.

There are certain terms and conditions that the Faith Session will place upon us to begin the process of restoring us to communicant church membership. In fulfilling these obligations, the Session will have evidence we are sincere in our desire to become members of Faith Presbyterian Church under the authority of their Session. The very first of those issues is that we demonstrate a willingness to be reconciled with our brethren at BCA.

Faith Presbyterian Church considers reconciliation and peacemaking to be a Biblical mandate for the whole Body of Christ. Several FPC members are certified Christian conciliators with Peacemaker Ministries. FPC has agreed to do everything possible to assist us in being reconciled with Doug Phillips and Boerne Christian Assembly.

In the view of our elders, the fact that we are unlikely to attempt to become members of BCA again is irrelevant to the necessity for brethren to seek reconciliation with one another. Though we have made attempts at reconciliation before, perhaps with many of you fervently praying toward that end, God will be pleased to unite the injured parties together again in Christ and to demonstrate His peace before a watching and skeptical world.

In order to lay the groundwork toward reconciliation, the Session has requested we take offline any of our blog articles, links and feedback comments on any website of our creation, or under our control, that contain accusations against Doug Phillips, members of his family, or BCA. Although Ministry Watchman isn’t under our control, we will formally request that they likewise take offline the articles about us by Charles Fisher.

This request by our Elders was made primarily for two reasons:

  1. Removing accusing words from the public forum greatly increases the opportunity for reconciliation and restoration. Removing the accusations from the Web will allow each side to be heard without the on-going offense of public rebuke while pursuing private reconciliation.
  2. Removing the accusations from the Web will provide evidence that we are repentant, that we are willing to submit to the ecclesiastical authority of the Elders of Faith Presbyterian (PCA) church, and our willingness to allow those Elders to work with the leadership of BCA to restore us to communing fellowship within a local evangelical church.

In submitting to our Session of Elders, we will no longer comment publicly about our conflict with Doug Phillips, or others at BCA, on any website or blog, while the Session of Faith Presbyterian Church seeks the peace and purity of the Church of Jesus Christ through reconciliation.

We ask all our readers to pray for a successful reconciliation. Sin is not absent from any of us in this life, so please pray diligently for the Holy Spirit to move sinners to repentance at the foot of the Cross.

Pray also that the Lord would calm our fears. After what we’ve already been through, it’s not an easy thing for us to submit to church elders. We want to trust these men and to believe the best of them. They’ve shown themselves to be caring and compassionate towards us. We do believe that they’re sincere, and that they intend God’s best for us. But we have to admit that there are times that we still feel intimidated and afraid of a process that we’re unfamiliar with. This is, after all, the very first Presbyterian church that we’ve ever been in, and Presbyterians do things a lot differently from what we’re used to.

Our hope is that we will be able to soon report a complete reconciliation between the Epstein family and the brothers and sisters at Boerne Christian Assembly. At that time, perhaps web sites that once held accusations can be filled with rejoicing and details of revival in relationships, offering hope for others in conflict, and giving honor and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the name of the Prince of Peace,

Mark and Jennifer Epstein

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