Doug Phillips’ Stubborn Silence

We Finally Go Public After Doug Phillips’ Lawyer Mouthpiece Refuses Additional Apologies and Efforts at Reconciliation

(Start with chapter one, if you are new here.)

When Natasha was 15, she decided to enter the Elsie Dinsmore contest by Vision Forum in 2002. Having never written an essay before, she was excited and worked hard on it. She was very pleased when she won first “Runner-up” in her age category (13-18), and that recognition afforded her many opportunities to meet people all over the United States. Inevitably, when we would travel, or especially when we would attend a Vision Forum event, Natasha was often asked if she was the girl who won the Elsie Dinsmore essay contest. Unfortunately, however, Doug Phillips decided that our excommunication should extend to treating Natasha like a heathen and a publican, and sometime after April 1, 2006, Doug dropped her from the list of winners. You can see the cached Vision Forum page of Natasha winning here, and the current Vision Forum page here.

Shortly thereafter, upon receipt of Don Hart’s letter, Mark replied to Don on June 15, 2006, beginning with confessing whatever new sin he was aware of:

There is no doubt I owe your client [Doug Phillips] an apology for the letter sent the week following your client’s deliberate public humiliation of my wife that he, and now you, refers to as “church discipline” followed by excommunication. I should have confronted your client a second time (on a one-to-one level) before sending a letter to every covenanting member of Boerne Christian Assembly. I also owe your client an apology for my actions in November 2005, after previously learning your client, or those vested by your client, related our excommunication to non-members of the covenanting community, which is anything but the “charitable treatment of two excommunicated individuals” you reference in your letter. In each case, I was wrong, it was sin on my part, and I am profoundly sorrowed by my actions. However, though sinful, in neither case do my actions rise to the level of actionable libel or slander.

Mark then gave Don Hart a little history of our situation, giving his opinion that the underlying reason for Doug Phillips excommunicating me is my comment on his blog about voting. Here is why Mark is convinced, as he tells Don Hart:

  • Your client [Doug Phillips] refused to accept my wife’s apology for speaking about him behind his back.
  • Your client has refused to accept a written apology from my wife in May 2005 for sending out the letter of January 2005 to all of BCA.
  • Your client told my wife if I had written the political email, it would have been acceptable.
  • Your client told my wife she would “pay” for her email.
  • Your client’s “leadership team” and hand-picked “counselors” worked with me to develop the areas of counseling for my wife, none of which included adultery or the bed you mention in your letter.
  • Your client personally warned me my wife would be publicly disciplined, which preceded my inclusion in the discipline.

Your client could have been sued for his intentionally tortious conduct, as well as the violation of the counselor/counselee confidentiality relationship violated during the public reading of counseling notes, while your client and members of his leadership team (two deacons) imposed formal church discipline upon my wife and me. However, my understanding of Holy Scripture forbids a Christian from suing another Christian under all circumstances. Furthermore, I wish to underscore that I am referring to man’s lower standard of professional behavior and confidentiality in both the actionable tort-violation and privacy issue – not God’s higher standard of conduct to which an elder must conform.

Mark went on to explain that the excommunication was not only unbiblical, but that Doug Phillips was accountable to no one, and therefore there was no way to appeal the excommunication. Mark listed several verses in Scripture that deal with excommunication and showed that none of them applied to us.

Gal. 1:8 – “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

We did not preach a different gospel; at no time did I ever claim “sinless perfectionism” or anything similar. Reading Romans 6 and 8 in conjunction with Romans 7 is not a different gospel; it is the same gospel that Paul preached.

I Cor. 16:22 – “If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed.”

We both love the Lord with all our heart.

I Cor. 5:9-11 – “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.”

We were not excommunicated for being sexually immoral; we were not covetous, idolaters, revilers, drunkards, or extortioners.

Mark then reminded Don Hart of II Cor. 2:6-8, in which Paul is talking about a man in the church who was previously disciplined:

“This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.”

Mark also gave fair warning that Doug Phillips has plenty to lose:

Should your client avail himself of your services in a civil suit, you need to be aware that no matter the result, your client will be tainted with the public image of a pastor, a pastor who is a public figure, suing a parishioner….The media, as well as the majority of female jurors, will be quite interested in a handpicked female counselor’s comments about marital problems always being the fault of the wife.

Another issue Mark clarified for Don Hart on behalf of Doug Phillips was that it was not Mark’s intention at that time to take this story to the internet (push of a button).

If I did not hear from your client, then I would take this issue to the next logical step, that step being sending all the relevant information I had to a minion of America’s pastorate. {Mark is saying that he was going to ask for help from a couple well-known pastors.}

To show how far Mark was willing to go in meeting Doug Phillips’ terms, Mark bent over backwards to effect reconciliation:

It is my fervent prayer and hope that your client and I can be reconciled as brothers in Christ. This is my desired end state, for I love your client, I respect his devotion to God, and I appreciate his ministry to the family. To accomplish this, I am willing to take two steps backward by dropping binding arbitration from the current discussion. If your client is willing to have Rev. Bob Welch function as an intermediary between us, then I am willing to meet with Rev. Welch and your client, even though Rev. Welch gave his approval to the excommunication. I am willing to begin the meeting by humbly apologizing to your client and asking for his forgiveness for the two sins articulated in this letter. I am even willing to keep this meeting private and never speak of it, if we can come to a mutually agreeable outcome, thereby allowing your client to address this issue, as he desires, with the congregants of BCA.

Mark asked three things of Doug Phillips in return: that he drop the excommunication and restore fellowship with Boerne Christian Assembly members, but not restore our membership; that Doug write a letter releasing us to attend another church in good standing; and that Doug Phillips would give his assurance that he would never try to excommunicate someone again without an ecclesiastical court.

Mark ended his letter to Don Hart with this:

Of course, I would prefer your client and I fall upon each others’ necks and publicly apologize to one another in front of BCA.

Following a lengthy phone call with Don Hart a few weeks later, in which Don insisted that the excommunication was biblical, although he could not articulate why, nothing was resolved, so Mark decided to try one last time. This last letter of July 31, 2006, was quite different:

After much prayer and study, … we do not fully understand or comprehend what BCA alleges our offenses to be.

In the disciplinary action letter of January 23, 2005, we are both accused of:

  1. Unconfessed sin
  2. Lack of repentance
  3. Bitterness
  4. Lack of love
  5. Jurisdictional abandonment and/or usurpation
  6. Using children as weapons against each other

As individuals, [Mark] is accused of:

  1. Unforgiveness and lovelessness*
  2. Not being under authority
  3. Threats of divorce*
  4. Anger*
  5. Lack of family leadership*

Jennifer is accused of:

  1. Rebellion against her husband and local church
  2. Gossip spreading
  3. Mean-spirited treatment of others
  4. Refusing to acknowledge sins
  5. Claiming a near sinlessness

(Note: 4 of 5 of (Mark’s) personal sins are marked with an asterisk (*). I am fully aware of these sins, I have publicly admitted my guilt, and have repented to God, my wife, and my family.)

The following is what we need to know in order to begin to understand the totality of the sin BCA says we have committed, in order to confess said sin and repent:

  • What are these biblically defined unconfessed sins that we committed?
  • What verses define the behavior as sin?
  • When and where, specifically, did the sins occur?
  • Who was or were the witnesses to each specific instance of sin?
  • What did the witnesses do, for each specific sin, to confront Jennifer or Mark in the spirit of Matthew 18?
  • What counseling (by whom, when, where, etc.) was provided for each sin?
  • What are the who, where, and when of each specific refusal to repent from each instance of a specified act of unrepentant sin?
  • Which specific sins rise to the level of an excommunicable offense?
  • What are BCAs definitions of “biblical repentance, restitution, and restoration to the body,” as stated in the excommunication email?

We take this excommunication very seriously, we want this issue resolved, and we wish to be reconciled to our brothers and sisters. However, since our right relationship with God is priority number one, then we need to know the specifics of our … behavior … for which God’s representatives are holding us accountable in order to be reconciled to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Mark asked for a reply by August 15, 2006, two weeks later.

When Mark did not hear anything from Don Hart for over a month, he was courteous enough to call him up and ask how the answers were coming along. Don Hart explained that he had been out of town and hadn’t been able to get the letter to Doug Phillips. While it was true that Don Hart was out of town, however, according to Doug Phillips’ own website, Don Hart was out of town with Doug himself, being a speaker at the Vision Forum Entrepreneurial Boot Camp during the month of August, 2006. Even though not delivering legal communications to your client can be considered malpractice, being gracious, Mark asked if three more weeks would be sufficient for Doug Phillips to provide an answer. Nevertheless, the mutually agreed upon deadline of September 29, 2006, came and went with no word from either Don Hart or Doug Phillips. And there has been no word since.

All we were asking was what would be expected in any court of law. Can you imagine a prosecuting attorney going before a judge and accusing the defendant of breaking the law? The judge would ask, “But what did he do?” The attorney would respond, “Well, he is violent and abusive.” Judge: “But what exactly did he do?” Attorney: “Well, he is violent and abusive.” Judge: “Prosecutor, he surely must have committed some crime. On what date, at what time, when, and where did the incident take place?” Attorney: “Well, I really don’t have that information, Your Honor. I just know that he is violent and abusive.” Judge: “Who did he abuse? How was he violent? What exactly did he do?” Attorney: “Well, all I know is that he was violent and abusive.” What judge would ever convict anyone based on that testimony? And yet that is exactly the kind of testimony that was used to excommunicate and discipline me. All I want is specifics. How can I possibly repent if I don’t know what I’ve done in the first place?

We were in a catch-22. We could publicly confess to broad, general sins we were accused of, both real and false, pay restitution, and put ourselves under the authority of a sole, unordained elder who had already abused us for five years. Or we could pretend that this whole situation didn’t exist and go to another church. Or we could just stay home and isolate ourselves. We prayed about what to do next.

It seemed that it was time to ask for help, so Mark asked me to call Dr. S.M. Davis, who had such an impact on our family and was a business associate of Doug Phillips. I called, but Dr. Davis doesn’t counsel people outside his own church anymore, so his daughter spoke with me. She did not understand what “excommunication” meant, so she thought it was merely a case of forgiving and going on with life. While we have forgiven all involved, however, that does not release those responsible from repentance and it does not change the fact that Doug Phillips has a track record of hurting many people and will continue to do so if he does not repent.

Shortly thereafter, a friend talked to us about our need to be in a church. We believed that we were putting ourselves under proper authority by staying home, since we were excommunicated and told that we were to be treated as heathens and publicans, but this friend gently rebuked us that since the excommunication was both unbiblical and without due process, we were in fact under no obligation to Doug Phillips regarding it and he encouraged us to find a church home. We have been attending church for a few months now.

In God’s providence, Ministry Watchman contacted us a while ago and asked if we would be willing to go public with our story, promising us anonymity. After much prayer and checking them out very carefully, we agreed to take the risk of telling our story to the public, in the hopes that we could warn fellow believers about this wolf in sheep’s clothing. As you can see, Doug Phillips immediately allowed others to expose our real names, so the protection offered by Ministry Watchman was no longer of any real use. We are grateful for Ministry Watchman’s continued support of our family, but it has been good for me to write this all out myself.

For the last two years, we have prayed every day about this situation, especially that our hearts would be right before God and that we would forgive Doug Phillips and those at Boerne Christian Assembly. We have forgiven them. We have sought to submit to their judgment even though we knew our treatment was unjust both in the substance of the accusation and in the lack of due process. Because Doug Phillips is the sole (unordained) elder at BCA, he is totally unaccountable in the church as well as outside of it, making a normal appeal to a higher church court impossible. We still tried to be reconciled as the Bible commands, working on an ad hoc basis with four elders from another church for 14 months. We wrote letters of apology for even the smallest offenses that we could think of, but Doug Phillips refused to forgive us of even those offenses. We wrote letters requesting explanations, but Doug Phillips refused to answer our questions. We offered to go to arbitration and mediation, but were met with threats of a lawsuit instead. You can see by Doug Phillips’ personal silence himself on the web that he will not answer us and that he has left us with only two options: slink away silently or go public.

We do not believe that slinking away silently is a biblical option. We are commanded to expose the evil deeds of darkness. And we are commanded to warn others of danger. That’s what we’ve been doing these past couple of weeks. Now the outcome of this situation is, as it always has been, in the hands of the Lord.

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

Although this is where our story ends for today, this is not where this blog ends. I will be providing commentary and analysis on not only different aspects related to our story, but also responding in a Christ-like manner to my detractors, who desperately tried to get my focus off my story.

I welcome questions and comments regarding everything on this blog in my story. I pray that God will give each reader discernment regarding Doug Phillips as you read my story, and I will do my best to clarify anything that is still unclear.

Thank you for your time and consideration in reading my story. May God bless you and your family.

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73 Responses to “Doug Phillips’ Stubborn Silence”

  1. Lynn Says:

    I agree with the first comment that the overall charge of “liar” is not working, because even if you did everything they accuse you of, that is still no excuse for what they did, and you have plenty of documentation. I’m sorry about what happened to Natasha, and Joshua, I am glad you posted here as well. I am praying for your family.

    One thing I noted was this quote from their vague charge to you:

    “Gossip spreading”

    Wow.

    I have NEVER, *EVER*, in my ENTIRE LIFE, heard such malicious gossip and breach of pastoral confidentiality as I have from the sites which have shared things which ought not to have been told about both of you.

    They must feel they can do it, but not you. Reminds me of the book I read in jr. high years ago, Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  2. Morgan Farmer Says:

    The courtroom analogy was so right on target. It speaks to everything that you have been through at bca (caps omitted purposely).

    You escaped! YAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!

    Please remind the children that people they do not know love your family and are praying for them. I have always seen that the darkest moments in our lives are but a prelude to the most glorious sun filled days we have ever known.

    Blessings….Morgan

  3. Lynn Says:

    Yes, please do tell your children that people they will not meet until glory are praying for them.

  4. praying and thinking Says:

    I so appreciate and agree with Morgan’s last paragraph. May I repeat that? “Please remind the children that people they do not know love your family and are praying for them. I have always seen that the darkest moments in our lives are but a prelude to the most glorious sun filled days we have ever known.”
    May the Lord do so to both of you and your 3 children.

  5. Always Batya Says:

    Jen, Here is some teaching I found on women being silent in the church. Go to http://www.grantedministries.org/articlesTitle.php then scroll down to ‘Silent Sisters‘ article.

    Women being totally silent in church negates other scripture….even from Joel. There is evidence that the word ‘silent’ can be better translated, “quiet” which would fit the problem they were having in that particular church in the NT.

    This verse has been used as a weapon instead of with love.

  6. Charles Fisher Says:

    Jen,

    God will not be mocked by any man. Yet Doug Phillips is every bit the mocker that any Pharisee ever was.

    Phillips speaks eloquently of truth and justice from the podiums of conferences and behind pulpits, and he does so very convincingly. He even conducts his Witherspoon School of Law to inspire other men of what biblically minded legal minds taught about law and justice and due process. Yet Phillips makes a complete mockery of truth and justice and biblical law, more so than any heathen judge would ever dream of perpetrating. Even a heathen knows better.

    If Phillips were the least bit humbled he would have repented months ago. Your public exposure of him is likely to make him just that much more committed to destroying you. Just like the Pharisees, Doug Phillips is now raging and plotting against you. But what more could he possibly do to harm you than he’s already done?

    May God be with you and give you His peace and courage. May justice prevail.

  7. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Jen, do not as you say ‘respond to your detractors’. I believe that their only goal is to goad you into a no win dialog. This is one classic case of turn the other cheek, or turn the backside and walk away. You will not be able to change their minds. You will not be able to talk some sense into them. Their warped minds are already made up and it’s not in your favor.

    Crazy people cannot be reasoned with and I believe that these DP minions need to be ignored. I would not even post the comments so that your ‘support group’ could comment. These people are not worth it. You and Mark do not owe those people anything.

  8. Jen Says:

    You are right, Morgan, I should not respond to a fool in his folly. However, I shall have a response that I think will be quite appropriate, considering the nature of my allegations, and should put an end to most of what else is out there. Look for it soon!

  9. Joseph Says:

    Jen, I read your story and it is heartbreaking. I realize now that I met Doug Phillips two years ago, and while I found him polite, I did not like him all that much. I have also purchased many of his products in that THSC annual convention, as well as online, most recently purchasing Christmas gifts for my children from Vision Forum. I can say now that if your accusations are true, I can no longer support a business run by a man who believes that he operates outside of Christian doctrine and accountability to the body of Christ.

    This story is the type of thing that turns non-believers against the love and grace of God, and I hope that those who act this way in God’s name understand that they will be held accountable for their turning souls away from God.

    May the peace and the grace of the Lord be with you and your family.

    In Christ’s Love,
    Joseph

  10. Someone from the web who stumbled onto your blog Says:

    I don’t understand why you don’t just leave Vision Forum alone? I would say you seem to purposely try to cause stife, but I think your blog proves you do indeed intend to cause as much trouble as you possibly can. What a shame. Shame, shame, shame on you.

    • SuburBint Says:

      Dear Someone,

      I am hoping that you chose to have follow up comments emailed to you since it has been six years since your comment.

      Do you have any idea the impact Vision Forum is having in the conservative, evangelical, homeschooling community? They lifestyle that they sell appears absolutely idyllic, and hundreds if not thousands of families are buying into the lie that if they follow these (extra biblical or Old Testament) rules, then their families will be perfect and their children’s families will be perfect, and so on for generations.

      The Epsteins have a moral responsibility to share their side of the story, especially since Doug Phillips has publicly preached against them and destroyed his long-term friendship/business association with Little Bear Wheeler over this situation.

      People who abuse their position of spiritual authority need to be called out on it, and if we are all too concerned with being nice and kind and keeping our mouths shut, then we are just as culpable for the damage these individuals cause.

      Hopefully, people with some common sense will investigate an organization before jumping on board, and they should be presented with both the good and the bad so that they can make an informed decision.

  11. JW Says:

    I just read your story from start to finish. Doug Philips engaged in hardball lawyer tactics from the beginning! In fact, he engaged in the sort of hardball tactics that the State Bar created the Lawyer’s Creed to combat. Lawyers who engage in badgering and fail to give notice, etc., etc. are termed “Rambos”.

    I cannot believe that this man has transferred these kinds of tactics from the practice of law to his “pastoring”.

    As for Don Hart, don’t expect him to make any admissions that the excommunication was unBiblical. He has a duty to zealously defend his client. He’s not there to heal things. He’s there to defeat you.

    They can’t afford to make concession or admissions at this stage–without some sort of agreement that you won’t sue for intentional infliction of emotional stress, for tortiously revealing confidential communications within pastoral counseling, and for what appears to me to be tortious interference with the marriage contract.

    Further, this man would not go to court with “clean hands” if he files a defamation suit. I hope that you got hold of the recordings of the “sermons” he gave attacking you.

    I have never seen so many conflicts of interest here. The fact that this man both prosecuted and judged you for one thing. For another, he was a witness as well as prosecutor and judge!

    What kind of lawyer was this man?

  12. Mark Epstein Says:

    JW,

    Your comments are spot on. Doug’s behavior was and is inexcuasble and, Charles Fisher is 100% correct – “Just like the Pharisees, Doug Phillips is now raging and plotting against you.”

    Yet, I see a brilliant opportunity for Doug.

    You can rest assured Doug does not play softball (as evidenced by his supporters hate sites). However, a long time ago, a good friend told me that Doug would either adhere to his neo-Puritan/Dominionist teachings (and possibly lose his ministry) or Doug would humble himself before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

    The “bottom line” is this: Doug Phillips has a very small window to accept the Lord’s chastening or risk losing everything (“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel”).

    Personal issues aside, can you imagine the impact of Doug Phillips publicly humbling himself? Can you imagine the glory God would receive in such a process? Can you imagine the impact on the visible church when compared to what we see in the secular press regarding the current reporting on evangelical issues?

    Doug has a choice (just as he did before he orchestrated our unbiblical excommunication).

    Doug Phillips can (1) drop the political “hack” machinations he is comfortable with (2) and admit his fallibility or (3) he can suffer the prescient “vision” of my friend, for “Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

    May God get the GLORY He is due!

    Mark

    • Bgmama Says:

      Um, wow. Six years later, your comments were prescient. I’m just now reading your heartbreaking story. I’m so sorry for the abuse you endured.

  13. AB Says:

    Some time ago I was sent a very hurtful article by Doug Phillips, explaining how a mother couldn’t end a pregnancy even if she would be killed by continuing it.

    http://www.visionforumministries.org/issues/life/why_the_life_of_the_mother_is.aspx

    The article was illogical and filled with false comparisons. Still, having been in the position of choosing between carrying a baby who would die regardless, and my own death (I chose an early induction of labor), I was hurt by the judgment of a brother in Christ.

    Now I know that the problem is with Doug Phillips, and his view of Christianity. He may be a man with vision and with a great devotion to God. But if he has not love, it means nothing. He is a clanging cymbal.

    Your family is in my prayers, as is Doug Phillips’ family.

  14. Ana Says:

    Jen,
    I just wanted to thank you for your courage in this trial. You are truly a Godly woman. You embrace the finer points of Proverbs 31. You are definatly an excellent wife. I being young and in the early part of my marriage have struggled with a lot of the issues that you triumph in. You are an inspiration. Keep up the good work. May God bless you and your husband in your efforts in this trial.

  15. Richard Says:

    Dear Mark, Jen & family,
    After reading this jaw-dropping account, I praise the Lord that He preserved your faith throughout. I am thrilled that you have kept your eyes on Him despite this terrible religious [ordeal]. I have had experience with [churches like this].

    I had been familiar with Mr. Phillips through his patriarchy cds. I told my wife at the time that I agreed with Mr. Phillips to a degree but I was uncomfortable with his rigid dogmatics. Your story confirms why the Spirit was troubled in my heart. Thank you for having the courage to stand up against bullies.

    My wife and I were badly hurt a few years ago by unaccountable “pastors”. Our experience wasn’t even a tenth as bad as yours but the hurt lingers for years. We encourage you to find comfort and healing in the Lord. Hang in there! The real Body of Christ embraces you.

  16. Richard Says:

    Oh, one more quick thing. If Mr. Phillips decides to sue you, you can have that recorded sermon (that was never sent to you) subpoenaed. Mr. Phillips will be obliged to produce it and it is illegal for him or his people to destroy evey copy in anticipation of a subpoena.

  17. Jules@Everyday Mommy Says:

    Jen:
    I believe you’ve visited my blog (everydaymommy.net) once or twice. Richard (the commenter above) is my husband. We extend to you our compassion and condolences to you and your family.
    Jules
    http://www.everydaymommy.net

  18. Sue Says:

    Matthew 21:31- “That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

    That really sums up the situation with bca & vf. They think they’re first in line but the door will truly be shut to them.

    So sure of their own rightness, along with a sense of superiority, they’ve entirely missed that Christ loves all of us sinners. He wishes that none should perish and he doesn’t base it on any of the things that dp stands so strongly sure of. Do I dress just right? Is my husband my LORD? Do I “DO church correctly? Do I read the right translation? Do I agree that the 1800’s are the best time in history? As a woman I promise not to think or speak? blah, blah, blah

    Matthew 7:22″(S)Many will say to Me on (T)that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’

    23″And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; (U)DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

    God’s law is to Love Him and to Love our neighbors.

    I’m sure of my salvation because of what Christ has done FOR me not what I do in the flesh. I’m entering into His kingdom because Christ’s righteousness allows me in. I’d rather be considered a heathan and a publican by “bca” than by my Father in heaven:)

    As interesting as all this has been and as much as I like the sense of validation that I was right about bca, I would like to remind people to pray for those that are in this, that the Lord will lead them out as He has Mark & Jen and that they will find a welcome place of healing within the body of Christ.

    Keep on Keeping on Jen!

  19. Cynthia Says:

    Hi Jen.. I originally posted this on another chapter of your blog, by accident, I meant to post it here…

    So, did you ever wonder what is BEHIND this extreme patriarchy movement? It is not limited to the evangelical Protestant churches.

    Consider this: traditionally, Calvinists and Catholics don’t see eye to eye (to say the least!!!), but there has been an almost identical movement growing within the Roman Catholic Church since about 1980. These schismatic Catholics do not get along with the Catholic powers-that-be at all — they claim that the Pope is an impostor and that THEY are the only true Catholics left.

    http://sspx.agenda.tripod.com/id52.html

    http://www.mgr.org/TraditionIsNotFascism.html

    Now for the interesting thing: ideologically, Phillips’ Protestant patriarchalists and their Catholic counterparts are coming to have more in common with each other than they do with either traditional Protestantism or orthodox Catholicism. To begin with, both the Protestant and the Catholic patriarchalists tend to be quite involved with politics and finance. Some of the biggest names in this movement are also big names in finance and politics: think Pat Robertson, Greg Ahmenson, Marion T. Horvat, Anne Coulter, Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, Greg Bahnsen, Gary North, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, JimBob Duggar, David Chilton, Howard Phillips, D. James Kennedy, Marvin Olasky, etc. In addition to their conservative stance on politics, they all seem to share cookie cutter ideas about the role of women, homeschooling, the Quiverfull movement, etc; AND, similar movements have also arisen within Judaism and within the Latter Day Saints. It is this very fact, the fact that the same movement has also apparently infiltrated Catholicism, Mormonism, and Judaism, which leads me to think that something other than religion is at work here, something not particularly concerned religious belief or practice at all — I say this not to cast aspersions upon the beliefs of non-Evangelicals, but the simple fact that Catholicism is very different from Calvinism shows us that whatever is driving this movement is not so much concerned with religious doctrine as it is with working to achieve its agenda through religious channels. The thing is organized like a corporation, or a hydra, and appears to be umbrella group which is trying to absorb MANY denominations, and bring them round to a certain common way of thinking, under the auspices of evangelism. Phillips, et al are merely the corporate heads of the Protestant division.

  20. Sunnymom Says:

    I just read most of this website, and none of it surprises me in the least. My brother and his wife were in a church with similar teachings, and quite frankly, the pastor was a control-freak. He constantly accused my sister-in-law of being rellious and unsubmissive. For doing what, you ask? For reading directions to my brother as he was driving, and telling him to “Turn right at the next intersection”. This pastor said she had no business giving him orders like that. Oh puhlease.

    This pastor eventually disciplined my brother and his family from their church, writing letters to several other churches who supported my brother as a missionary, accusing him of blah blah blah- none of which made any sense, at least not on this planet. His attempt to destroy my brother and his family was unsuccessful, as most of the people who received these letters knew my brother well enough to know that he is a Godly, meek, and wonderful man, and that he has a very Godly family.

    Years later, this pastor called and apologized to my brother. Did he write a bunch of letters and apologize to the folks he had written those damaging letters to before? No- you didn’t think he would, now did you? 😉

    So this [type of] thing is not news. You are not alone. And you are in our prayers for the continued healing of your family.

  21. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Cynthia, MY MY!!!

    I have often thought of this myself…it does seem so insidious and hydra like. I thought myself nearly crazy when I decided a couple of years ago NOT to let the leaders you mentioned above speak for me as a christian and I have been very vocal about that with friends and family.

    I believe that this stems from NOT hearing the gospel as it was intended to be preached…that is expositorily not topically.

    Having come from a dysfunctional PCA church into an OPC group and having had the benefit of hearing the gospel preached expositorily instead of topically I know I have grown and have become what I think is now very unreligious. My committment to Christ is stronger than ever….but my committment to the things I have to do to be a christian has changed…its now something I AM not something I do….

    Micah 6:8
    He has showed you O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?

    This sums it up perfectly….and does not include…homeschooling your children, having a lot of children….abusing your women and children

    You mentioned ‘corporation’ how about the World Council of Churches?

    I will be checking this out.

  22. Cynthia Says:

    I’ve been checking it out for some time now, and trying to figure out the connections. It’s almost like radical patriarchy is a religious theme in itself, and the Christian, Jewish and even the Moslem versions of it are mere variations on that theme.
    Even the Unification Church (Moonies) is dancing to this exact same tune, though to be fair, one must admit that the Unification Church was patriarchal from the beginning.
    Check this out:
    http://www.divineprinciple.com/1_10_comm/10com_web_all.pdf

    Another thing is that these patriarchs claim to be restoring their respective religions to a purer form that was practiced in the past — with the Evangelicals it’s the 1800’s, with the Catholics it’s pre-Vatican II, etc; but in the past that they claim to be attempting to re-create, their respective denominations NEVER taught the kinds of things that these fellows are preaching NOW!

    • Peter Warner Says:

      (over seven years later, why do I bother?)

      You’re right about the Unification Church (UC), Cynthia, I labored there for about 21 years before coming back to the Gospel and Jesus Christ. That UC history is a very sad saga of many idealistic people being drawn into the grip of a lecherous charismatic man and his manipulative empire.

      (Now) in Christ, Peter Warner.

  23. Paula Says:

    Wow! This is so terribly sad. To shun you like that. Didn’t Jesus come and spend time with the whores and sinners? Wasn’t the lady who washed his feet an adultress?? How sad to shun people like that. I do not think you are being hateful or spiteful in your blog at all (like others have commented). IN fact, you have posted with love and humbleness. Even admitting YOUR wrongs in all of this. I do thank you for sharing such a personal thing in your life. You have really opened up my eyes to some things that have been happening in my marriage right now (we are having a rough time right now, but thankfully are both committed to the Lord and working it out so our marriage is even better than the day we married).

    I do not know if you have time for this with all that is going on in your life right now, but I would love to read more Titus 2 type stuff from you. I am a young mother of 4 (ages ranging from 6yrs to 6 months). May I one day been full of the humbleness and grace and love that you are!

    Thank you again for sharing your story.

  24. Vik Says:

    What really gets me is Doug’s “Women and Children First!” mantra. It’s all over everything. But it should say, “Men First! Then Boys! Then Dogs! Then Donkeys!” Then maybe women and children (girls) if there’s nothing else to do.

    If this nation-wide patriarch thing takes off, I’m moving to Sweden.

  25. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Yeah, like on the Titanic. But let’s remember which women and children went first: the ones travelling First Class. The ones travelling in steerage got locked in and most went down with the ship. Lovely Victorian morality, that.

  26. kris Says:

    i just read the whole story from start to finish and one thing bothers me…. how does any one come to Christ if you treat them by turning your back? how do you ever have a chance to witness if you never talk to them?

  27. momofkings Says:

    I think you have done all that you can to seek reconciliation with Doug Phillips. I think you have to shake off the dust from your feet and move on.

  28. William Hill Says:

    I had a rather sad encounter with Doug Phillips quite a while back where I offered him the benefit of the doubt on a particular issue. WE engaged in a 90 minute phone call of which he monopolized over 60 minutes of the conversation and barely answered any of my questions. Near the end of the conversation I asked him if he thought he was a “bitter man”. He, of course, said “no”. I then proceeded to tell him that he certainly sounded like one.

    The reason for me speaking with him and the resulting conversation produced these two articles on my blog that some here might be interested in reading:

    http://theparchment.org/index.php/2005/08/14/a_public_response_to_doug_phillips_part_1
    http://theparchment.org/index.php/2005/08/28/a_public_response_to_doug_phillips_part_2

  29. David M Zuniga Says:

    Brother Hill,

    If you believe that Doug Phillips is engaged in a bit of ecclesiastical Phariasism in his “local church covenant” (and indeed he is), then you are likely engaged in a great deal more of the same, with your apparent reliance on extrabiblical (i.e. Presbyterian “church order” books, constitutions, et al) rules.

    The Scriptures alone are regulative for our life together in Christ. Ironically, there are men who do not like some parts of Scripture, or who like something that is inimical to Scripture (but fun, or comforting, for them) and so they set up new churches and denominations. On this framework — after first papering over the superstructure with out of context “proof”-texts — they do build their rules and laws and straitjackets, for “the peace and purity of the Church”.

    Indeed, sir!

    A pox on both your houses, says I! Christ alone, Scripture alone, by faith alone, praise God!

  30. William Hill Says:

    Do you listen to sermons? That is extra-biblical material. Do you read commentaries? That is extra-biblical material. The reality is that “extra-biblical” material is not the problem. The problem is when they become the rule of the day instead of the Scriptures.

  31. David M Zuniga Says:

    Mr. Hill,

    On of two things: reading comprehension was not your strongest subject in school…or you’re looking in a mirror (at your ‘Reformed’ Book of Church Order) while inveighing on these “rules of the day”.

    Either way, let me suggest the Bible ALONE.

    “It is sufficient for all things whatsoever pertaining to faith and practice”. You ‘Reformed’ fellows really should believe what you preach. Sigh.

  32. David M Zuniga Says:

    That should read:

    Mr. Hill,

    ONE of two things: reading comprehension was not your strongest subject in school… (etc)

  33. Bryan Says:

    DZ:

    I call upon Pope Blastus to formally censure you for your high-handedness and unwillingness to engage Mr. Hill per Galatians 6:1.

  34. Bryan Says:

    William:

    Excellent blog!

    Bryan

  35. William Hill Says:

    Dabid,

    Why are you sniping at me? Have I done something to offend you?

    My reading comprehension is actually okay. Sure, it could always get better. However, your comments about the Bible alone is logically flawed since, I assume, you attend a church where a minister or preacher or someone teaches the Bible, correct? Well, do they TEACH the bible (i.e. they tell you what they think it is saying) or do they simply read a verse or two or a chapter and sit down? If they expound on it at all you are listening to “extra-biblical material”. Do you isten to sermons online or elsewhere? Do you read other Christian books, etc? If so you are listening to “extra-biblical material”. That is the bottom line and it is a logical conclusion to your position. I most definitely believe in Scripture alone as the final rule of faith and practice which ALONE settles all controversy in matters of religion and practice but I am not foolish enough to think that I have all the answers or cannot learn from men who have gone on before me. In fact, Scripture actually teaches the oppositie of what you assert since no one comes to the truth of the gospel without a preacher and a preacher — by definition — expounds the Scriptures for us. That is, he gives his studied interpretation of the Scriptures.

    Furthermore, and to add one more nail in your coffin, unless you are reading the original Greek and Hebrew you are not reading the Bible per se but an interpretation of the original languages translated into your tongue. There is no way to get around this fact. All editors of our English bibles make decisions for you relevent to the original biblical languages at various places. They are an interpretation of what the original language was saying or trying to say. So, unless you can sight read Greek and Hebrew you are simpy reading an interpretation of what the original actually said. Thus, in all matters of controversy pertaining to religion and practice, you must ultimately resort to the original documents before rendering a decision.

  36. William Hill Says:

    Bryan,

    Thanks for the comment about the covenant radio site. I apprecaite it very much! God bless…

  37. Melinda Says:

    I am praying for you and your family.

  38. Agatha Says:

    One thing I have always believed about the patriarchy movement is this:

    Only a powerless, dull man has to demand respect, submission, and obedience. A man who is on a path worth following can’t help but find followers behind him! So the patriarchy movement is a little crazy because what’s really happening is they are encouraging people to follow these clueless men that have no training and no vision. No wonder no one wants to follow them! I think the emphasis should be on cultivating our minds, intellect, and hearts for God and the leadership will emerge naturally.

    Any man who has to follow another man based on his own self-proclaimed visionary status is on the path to failure. His wife and family would probably rather that he make up his own mind and lead based on that!

    Plus, it really has always irritated me that the spy set is in the All American Boy Catalog. The girl catalog is so bland it makes me cry! My husband wants a smart woman to actually converse with… not just someone who can handstich an American Flag, braid flowers into her hair, or wipe a baby’s bottom (all of which I could do… thank you!) as the Vision Forum seems to promote! Also, is it a little weird how so much is about Fathers and Daughters? And modesty? It’s as though they think men are just waiting to be lustful! I actually think the movement does a disservice to men the most. And what’s up with the no Christmas thing?

    Anyway, you’re better off out of it!

    • Sharon Says:

      Well said! I cannot imagine following an unordained man who holds himself as a God, so blindly rather than following Christ, the true Savior!

  39. Karen K Says:

    I have just read your account and was reminded of the experience my husband and I had at our former church about 6 years ago. We, along with a number of other couples, had started the church about 10 years ago out of a mainline Presbyterian church and were excited about our new endeavor. We had no idea what we were getting into at the time.

    Everything sounded normal and above board at the beginning. It became clear over time, however, that the leaders of our group had a very different church in mind than the one that most of us had signed up for. We started to realize this when they instituted permanent eldership for themselves, forbade Christmas decorations of any kind, required wine for the Lord’s supper, did not allow any non-elder to come to the podium, talked continually about post-millenialism, and referred to church vows as “marriage vows.”
    We put up with this nonsense for it as long as we could, but we finally decided to leave. When we approached our pastor, he became hostile. We were told in a formal letter from the session that we had in essence “married” the church–we were the bride and they (the elders) were the groom. Since the elders had not violated any of their vows (according to them), we could not “divorce” them. In other words, we were not allowed to leave! We pointed out to them that they had done the same thing in leaving their own churches to form this one, but apparently they were above this particular rule.

    The situation became intolerable when we were publicly disciplined by the pastor for leaving–what a sin! We forwarded the entire issue to the denomination that the church is a part of. The presbyterian took things in hand and demanded a public apology for us, which never happened. So much for submission. We really didn’t care at that point, though. We were just glad to be gone.

    Thank you for your courage in posting this story. My brother and his family are also a part of a church that adheres to the false doctrine of partriarchy. Maybe your website and others like it will bring the truth out about these awful men and the women who support them, so that good but deceived people within their ranks will leave them, just as we did.

  40. Anne Says:

    Karen.

    This and more is exactly our experience in a Reformed Presbyterian church, also a new work, a few years ago here in Canada. Our sin too, was that we had the common sense to leave. We took our subsequent issue of being disciplined to presbytery and they didn’t even have the decency to contact us. We didn’t waste our time and take it higher. Read most presbyterian FOG and vows of membership and you will see that they utterly control you. FOG (how appropriate is that?) was used to cover their own hineys and its rules held higher than the Bible and common sense. We were more than glad to get out of there with our family still intact.

    They sent us a letter proclaiming curses upon us and our children. We showed the letter to our present church and they were absolutely appalled. Our family is now thriving, all serving Christ, and using their God-given gifts. Where love is missing, much goes awry.

    Anne

  41. Hutch Says:

    Karen & Anne-

    You and your family are right to rejoice! The fact that you are able to discern error, recognize false teaching and spot “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, is an excellent indication that you are “born again” and regenerate! The ministry of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth is working in your lives! The truly regenerate will eventually recognize this assault on the gospel of Christ and the church and will ultimately leave such groups. Galationism taught by men devoid of the spirit, has always tried to infiltrate the church and is currently experiencing a revival in America.

    This movement was making in-roads at the church my wife and I used to attend. This caused us to do a lot of research on the doctrines of as well as the backgrounds of the main leaders of this heresy.

    What follows is a compilation of what we are convinced God’s Word teaches about: Authority in the local church, Christian Freedom, and so called Membership Covenants.

    This is a compilation of information borrowed from a number of sources such as Don Venoit, Mark Dever, NC Confession of Faith and others.

    The Local Church
    The church in the New Covenant era is given visible expression in local churches. All professed believers are commanded to gather together in the local church to build up one another in the faith. 1 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:42-47, Revelation 1:4-3:22

    Church Leadership
    In Scripture, we find three distinct groups of people who exercise some form of leadership in the church: the congregation, consisting of all church members; elders, those men appointed to spiritual oversight in the church; and deacons, who serve the congregation as ministers of mercy. These groups work in concert to lead, with the congregation vested with preeminent authority in major decisions (i.e., in matters of doctrine and discipline). Bound to no outside association, body, or organization, the congregation is in authority over itself under God.

    In their role as overseers, the elders guide the church, particularly focusing on matters concerning teaching, preaching, and prayer. The elders direct the spiritual life of the church at the pleasure of the congregation, handling matters relevant to the Word and prayer. Deacons are pictured not as a second legislative body but as a group of able servants; assist the elders by facilitating ministry. The congregation represents the final authority on all matters of church life. Recognizing that both Jesus and Paul appealed to the congregation as the adjudicating body on matters of discipline, the church is structured congregationally. A local church is self-governing, captive only to the will of God (Matthew 18; 1 Cor. 5). Accordingly, the congregation votes on its leadership, admits and dismisses members, and stands accountable to God for its public teaching and preaching.

    Elders
    The leadership model we see prescribed for our benefit by Scripture. The “elder-led” (not elder rule) approach provides us with sound guidance from biblically-qualified men. Church polity (church government) emphasizes that all of the elders are pastors of the congregation. Some elders will be employed by the church, though most will work in secular jobs. All elders will meet the stated qualifications for this office as laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They will meet regularly to pray and provide spiritual oversight on matters concerning the church. Titus 1:5-16, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Ephesians 4:9-16, Philippians 1:1-2, Acts 14:21-25, Hebrews 13:17, Matthew 20:20-28

    Deacons
    The deacons are ministers of mercy to God’s people. Deacons shall care for the temporal needs of members, attend to the accommodations for public worship, and encourage and support those able to help others and those with gifts of administration. Their primary focus is to care for people’s physical welfare. Deacons are those who free the elders to provide spiritual oversight to the church. The church’s charitable activities shall be centralized and organized through the Deacons. Deacons shall help the poor, the jobless, the sick, the widowed, the elderly, the homeless, the shut-in, and the disabled. They shall counsel and guide people. They shall relieve suffering. They shall comfort, protect, and encourage people, and help to meet their needs. 1 Timothy 3:8-13, Acts 6:1-6, 1 Timothy 2:11-15

    Church Discipline
    It is the responsibility of the local church to exercise church discipline. The method to be used is described in Matthew 18:15-17. The goal of church discipline is restoration not retribution. The congregation has final authority regarding issues of church discipline. Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Galatians 6:1-5, 1 Timothy 5:17-20, 1 John 2:3-6

    What is biblical Leadership?

    At the core of distorted authoritarian teachings is an unbiblical view of leadership. The Scriptures are clear that we are to submit to authority in such passages as Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13 and Ephesians 5. But what does that mean?

    The biblical patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—had been called out of paganism, and so they continued practicing certain pagan customs. God didn’t change everything all at once. Their view of authority was a rather harsh top down structure. The one at the top was the boss, and all the rest were underlings—basically his servants.

    The disciples still harbored a similar view, and on several occasions were arguing over who would end up at the top of the authority structure. Who would sit at the right or left hand of Jesus? Jesus set them straight, however, and turned the authority structure on its head: Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. (Mark 10:42-44, NASB)

    Not only is this what Jesus taught, but He exemplified it! In fact, He went on to say: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45, NASB)

    Christian authority is not merely a circumstance of birth order or gender, which bestows a position of power in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ, who as God, is the only rightful heir of all “authority” (Matt.28:18) demonstrated by His sacrificial life on how Christian authority is to be attained and wielded.

    Authority is earned by sacrificial living. All of us are to focus on serving those around us. It also means that the higher one ascends to a position of leadership in the church, the more accountable they become to a larger number of people. It also means that those who follow do so because they are able to observe and trust those who lead (1 Thess. 1:5). Hebrews 13:17 says: Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (NASB) The word rendered obey literally means to be persuaded. It does not mean to hear and unquestioningly comply. The word submit literally means yield. All of this is preceded by something said 10 verses earlier: Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, NASB)

    All of this flows perfectly from what Jesus said in Mark 10:45. Remember or call to mind those servants who are leading you. Think about how they live and the way they “wear” their faith. You will know they are trustworthy when you observe the selfless lives they live. They have earned and continue earning that trust daily as they serve. Moreover, because of that, we are “persuaded” as persons who also are serving as we yield to their wisdom and are not throwing unnecessary roadblocks in their path.

    And although I am aware of the many true servant/ leaders in the Church, there seems also to be no shortage of “leaders” who are more than happy to rule like little kings. Any elder or any other leader exhibiting and teaching anything but proper doctrine regarding Christ’s commanded servant leadership approach must be removed from his position of leadership and called to repentance and if genuine repentance is not forthcoming, must be expelled from the congregation. Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Galatians 6:1-5, 1 Timothy 5:17-20, Titus 1:10-16, Titus 3:9-11, 2 Peter 2: 1-22, 2 John 7-10, 3 John 9-10, Jude 11-16.

    Preserving Christian Freedoms

    Serving Jesus Christ and His church requires not only that we practice His commands but that we preserve those freedoms He has given to us as well. Without this, the church becomes no different than the world, “following as doctrine the precepts of men” (Mat 15:9).

    Many of the freedoms that we in Christ enjoy have been erroneously debated through the centuries, even to the point of dividing churches, creating special movements or even shunning others.

    The tendency for a person is to create a sense of self-righteousness based on certain external actions or lifestyle-choices performed or avoided. This breeds contempt of grace and develops into unhealthy-even condemning religious practice (e.g. “legalism”). Many such failures are due to the confusion between the Old and New Covenant and their binding nature upon the Christian. We as Christians are bound only to those commands given in the New Testament.

    Christian freedoms are simply those areas of life, faith and practice which are not explicitly commanded, or given to us as a clear model from Scripture. It is those areas of the Christian life which God chooses to be silent on in order to produce the diversity necessary to the joy and beauty of the Body of Christ, the Church. These areas are of course, bound to and guided by the direct, clear and explicit commands and models given in the Scripture and never in violation. Should one of these areas—or others like it violate such a command, then it ceases to be a freedom and immediately becomes sin.

    CHURCH MEMBERSHIP COVENANTS & VOWS

    Many modern bible teachers recommend pastors and congregations adopt church membership covenants as a way of compelling their flock to become more involved in and committed to the ministry of their church. Although, on the surface such covenants might seem practical, here’s what Jesus Christ had to say about making covenants with men.

    “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, “YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.” “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven; for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white of black. But let your statement be , Yes, yes or No, no; anything beyond these is of evil.” MATT: 5:33-37.

    In Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, he makes the following point:

    “The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths; the better they are, the less there is need for them.”

    When a church becomes dependent upon carnal mechanisms for spiritual motivation rather than the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit, contracts become fashionable among frustrated pastors who find it necessary to coerce members into carrying out the church’s ministry. Those who are led by the Spirit of God don’t need to sign on some dotted line guaranteeing their faithfulness. Those who aren’t led by the Spirit have no business in a Christian ministry to begin with. We don’t sign contracts guaranteeing our commitment to Christ for our salvation. So, why is it now necessary to sign a contract guaranteeing our commitment to serve in His church? Because faith isn’t required, that’s why. It’s only when you set out to fill your church with the faith-LESS that guarantees become necessary.

    Ultimately, church attendance, membership, personal sacrifice and service should be the RESULT of one’s salvation, not a means to obtaining it. If it becomes the latter, it eventually corrupts, confuses and degrades the church as a whole and undermines its divine purpose.

  42. EEEEMommy Says:

    This was a very sobering story to read. Unfortunately, so much of it sounds so familiar as my own family went through a similar trial when I was in the 9th grade. I really do understand and will be praying for your family, especially your children.
    May God use your testimony here to protect others.

    Grace and Peace,
    Angel

  43. Marvin Says:

    Doug Phillips was created from the same mold as Jim Jones and Warren Jeffs. ( Sick men with powerful charismatic gifts)

    I was in a church similar to BCA in the 1970’s. I was not excommunicated. I left.

    For years I questioned my salvation because of the garbage I had been fed . . . and believed. Then one day I was praying and I saw Jesus bleeding to death in intense pain. He spoke to me in my heart and said, “This is between you and Me. You are forgiven. You are free.”

  44. Stuart Says:

    Five years ago I left a church that treated a family exactly the same way your family was treated. It was a Reformed Church with weak kneed leadership and an utterly despotic pastor at the top. No dissent was tolerated against the pastor – period. Sunday after Sunday we were railed at about what awful sinners we were with only brief mentions of Grace. Once the pastor began instituting excommunication proceedings against this one very Godly family – that was it for me. In my case God had spared me – although attending the church for four years I had never become a member. I knew that with membership came control and I was not about to let that man get his hands around my throat.

  45. Karl Says:

    When you go to war and have no weapons or know the rules (or lack thereof) you need to get out as quickly as possible. While I appreciate you exposing this subject, I am left wondering why you didn’t run at the first sight of trouble. God’s word is all about relationships. Our relationships with each other should model the relationship our Heavenly Father tries to have with us. At BCA is seems (from your story) that no relationships are fostered, only puritanical authority structures. You didn’t fit from the beginning. You admit all the things you were willing to give up to go to that church.

    As I read the story I was most interested in what would bring your husband back. I am glad to hear that he saw the error of BCAs ways.

  46. Jim Harvey Says:

    For the brother who was excommunicated, my prayers are with you. Let’s pray that Doug will repent. In the Church of God (Headquarters Cleveland, Tennessee) denomination that I am part of (we like to call it a fellowship) such attacks on a person’s honor, innocent of anything clearly marked out in Scripture, would quickly be righted. The same goes for the Assemblies of God. Surely you were in a fine church, but something went wrong. You are not at fault, Bro. It’s encouraging to know that you want God’s solution. You are being chased by prayers from many of God’s people. I believe that it will all work out. God bless you and yours.
    Jim Harvey, just a regular guy (and Christian).

  47. jkm Says:

    Doug Phillips is the son of Howard Phillips. Too see what Howard Phillips is about go to this link:
    http://watch.pair.com/synarchy-9.html

    This may explain some of why he is like he is….. a false prophet, perhaps?

    • Jen Says:

      I have nothing but the utmost respect for Howard Phillips, having met him several times. Yes, Doug is who he is because of his father, to a great extent, but Doug is also fully responsible for his own actions.

  48. Linn Says:

    I am surprised that you even dealt with these people for so long! There are churches that obviously abuse their members and in so doing damage the cause of Christ. The only solution I would see would be to get away as quickly as possible.

    • Jen Says:

      Linn, for those who have never been involved in such a tight-knit group, it may be difficult to understand why we didn’t just leave. They were family. We didn’t just see them on Sunday morning at church. We shared nearly every part of our lives together. We met together for hours and hours every week. We shared the good times and the bad. We were very interconnected. It was not easy to just “leave.”

  49. Lori Says:

    I just finished reading through your story and I am blown away, broken, and horrified. I wanted to take the time to thank you for your courage. I know you have probably taken a LOT of flack for going public with this, but it needed so desperately to be exposed. I am moved by your humility. I never found your tone angry or malicious, you simply conveyed the truth gracefully. I have a few people in my life that have been hurt deeply by abusive pastors. Some left the church never to return. It breaks my heart because stepping on and hurting whoever gets in your way is not the calling card of a true Christ follower. I hurt for you. I hurt for my friends. But I thank you for your courage to try to keep others from the same hurt.

  50. David Auge Says:

    I have no words…I just read your story from start to finish and my family grew up in Bill Gothard’s ministry (recoveringgrace.org) as well as Doug Phillip’s ministry. My family had started a family integrated church and now actively attend one although I no longer attend.

    This story is an echo of one I’ve seen at every FIC I have attended…I wonder how many other families have the same story?

    • Jen Says:

      I hope you have not been hurt by all this, David, but many, many families have, and most have been bullied into silence. Some are beginning to feel the freedom to start sharing now.

      I am not opposed to family integrated church. In fact, I love that model! But it is the abuses of patriarchy found within that model that are of grave concern to me.

  51. rebeccalynnlynn Says:

    I am sad to see I am not the only woman victimized by her pastor, the only family almost tore apart by ungodly men. I am crushed by your story, as it reminds me so much of my own. I am devastated by my own daughter s walking away completely from her faith because of these kind of things happening. When will we all learn? My personal story of devastation starts and ends with Marc Driscoll and the Acts 29 network, but he is only a cooler more “relevant” version of your Doug Phillips isn’t he? As women we need to stop the abusive cycle of the patriarchal community as a whole. We have a valuable voice that needs to be heard. Jesus made us too darn it!!! And he did not make us so that our husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, could put their feet upon our necks and hold us to the floor. We are NOT a posession to be owned and forced to obey a corrupt set of rules NOT set in scripture. There are days for me that getting out of bed seems impossible, that all I want to do is hide because I feel so damaged inside. Like broken glass of my own self image is floating around inside of me. It is only the love of God that brings me hope and helps me fight to survive. I pray that one day the church will allow women to take the place God has given us in scripture.

  52. RCG Says:

    Thank-you so much for your bravery in telling your story. I, too, am an opinionated, honest to a fault, woman. I would have been excommunicated in about 2 weeks. Do you “get it” now that you are involved in a cult? You still seem waaaaay too gracious. I mean, God honors your heart, but as you are doing here, this man needs to be exposed. I am trying to find out more about HSLDA and their seeming unwillingness to address the issues with Doug Phillips and their apparent loyalty to him over the truth. It’s all completely creepy.
    Praying for you and your family. I have two homeschooled older sons away from the Lord.

    • Jen Says:

      RCG, welcome! I’m not sure if you are speaking to me or not, but if so, I’m not quite following. I am not currently in a cult, but I was excommunicated from one! I consider that a badge of honor!

      I am sorry to hear about sons, but I pray that God will keep bringing to mind the things you have imparted to them. 🙂

  53. Sarah Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Jen. I have gained a lot from reading all parts and much of your more recent material on this site. I appreciate you and your efforts, and pray for you and your family. May God richly bless you!

  54. Brenda Says:

    Jen, I am so sorry for your experiences. Similar things happened to us as a family and before we knew what hit us we were shunned, though not formally, they would never admit to it but it came from the pulpit. After a decade of misery, a couple came to apologize saying lies had been spread to keep people away from our family. Yes, damage was done, a great amount of damage to our kids. I have over the past 10 years run into several people who have had extremely bad experiences with fleshly pastors. These are main stream denominations and the damage would be permanent were it not for the grace of God and Hope.

    I am convinced we as people give mere men too much allegiance. We have many resources from Vision Forum and until reading your paper it never occurred to me that the people in his church suffered abuse. It always seemed like a sort of utopia that only some get to enjoy. I see him in a different light in the sense that we should not give so much agreement to one until we can see how it bodes in the fruit of their own lives. Now with the circumstances of his infidelity it may be Gods graciousness to him to open his eyes. I pray and hope.

    It exposes the cult like groups out there. We were in ATI and spiritual abuse abounds there too. It has given my hubby and I pause to say “stop trying to be perfect for Gods glory and just live in relationship to him and let the fruit come as a byproduct of that relationship”. We went from one bad situation to another until we came to this conclusion.

    May our trials turn us to hearing His voice and following Him and no other.

    Bless you for your gracious heart and for sharing your story. It helps to know we are not crazy and rebellious people but rather we were created to serve God not man.

    • Dorcas Faithful Says:

      Dear Jen,
      I thank The Lord for your courage to speak lovingly yet honestly about Doug Phillips. What led me to your site was hearing of the downfall of this most proud self righteous man. It seems he has a controll issue with others who have fallen within his web of lies. Sadly his family members will be dragged through his demise, along with many who gave him trust.
      What you have written of is a common problem when men are exalted above our Lord. Trauma of the victim must be horrendous. Robbed of a good name, her youth.etc. please pray for her and her family. They have a heavy burden to bear. May The Lord heal them and carry them to a peace in His care.
      Dorcas

      • Jen Says:

        Thank you for your kind words, Dorcas. Lourdes is doing amazingly well and is moving forward in life. I do pray for her and Nolan, especially, and am very proud of them!

  55. Peter Warner Says:

    Dear Sister Jen:

    Maranatha (May God be with us).

    Bless the Lord for your testimony and your family’s recovery from a terrifying experience of ‘heavy shepherding’. Many have felt the ‘left foot of fellowship’, your family certainly bore more than most. May you each be rewarded for your patience and faith. My own experience was much milder, finally walking out of a church of two years’ attendance, the last year having become increasingly difficult. Those few days before finding a new church home were frightening, but the joy of being led to a receptive, supportive and mature congregation was total joy in Christ: after all, Jesus had His hand on every step. I truly hope you’ve by now found a church home where His presence is strong and vital.

    Like your own family I’m sure, I’ve prayed tearfully for reconciliation and healing with that past leadership, to the point where forgiveness and peace now mostly reside upon that memory. The principles have in fact left that ministry. Honestly, I can give thanks for that season, it’s made me stronger with Him, and closer to Him.

    I pray that you and your family might find healing as well, and would love to read an uplifting epilogue, when it might be shared.

    In fellowship, Peter Warner.

    • Jen Says:

      Peter, thanks for your good testimony. I have found that much good has come out of what so difficult in the beginning. I am in a much better place today because of all this, but I do miss the people. 🙂

  56. Allie Says:

    Dear Jen,

    I only found out last night about the tragic downfall of Doug Phillips when I went to order something from Vision Forum for my son’s birthday. I’ve been in shock all day.

    Reading your entire narrative has helped me to put it all into perspective. I am sorry for all of the pain and confusion your family has had to suffer, and it was all so unnecessary!

    Thank you for telling your story and for leaving it online to be discovered.

  57. Pete Says:

    Hi Jen,

    I read this and wow! So glad God has brought you our of this to a good place. May I ask what happened to Mark?


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