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.

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103 Responses to “Doug Phillips Refuses Reconciliation With The Epsteins”

  1. Lynn Says:

    Glad to see the primary documents and your side of the story are back up again, Jen. I kept it to myself until today, but originally I was glad that you complied with editing your blog. However, when you took down practically *everything*, that struck me as way too much to ask a person to do, especially since mrsbino stayed up the whole time.

    If I had been in your shoes, I would have done what you did at the first editing of your blog, but then probably taken a hike when asked to take down every single item. I would have only done so after I’d seen that silly mrsbinoculars site taken down first, and if that didn’t happen, then the handwriting would have been on the wall, as far as I was concerned.

    On my blog today, I said that it is time for the parties involved to put up clear reasoning and good evidence as to why they have done what they did. If they don’t, this will not make them look good at all. Silence is not always golden. Sometimes it is yellow. So far, in the clear reasoning and good evidence dept., they have been completely silent, and I mean, completely.

    And some things have not even been addressed by Doug Phillips which should be:

    1) I would still like an answer for why Doug Phillips thought it was OK to breach pastoral confidentiality and disclose your past, which he knew you had repented of, when excommunicating you.

    2) I would like to know why Doug Phillips told you that if you saw your husband is doing something which will be injurious to you or your children, that you were to wait to appeal to him in private.

    Jen, I know there are things in this matter that I don’t know, so on my blog stated that there is a possibility that what happened in these recent days is right.

    But even if that were the case (and I’m highly doubtful that it is), it STILL doesn’t TOUCH on those two points.

  2. SB Says:

    Something that outsiders to this debate don’t get: This guy is clearly the guru of a cult, even if it is a pseudo-Christian one. Why don’t you just find another Christian denomination? Surely there are enough conservative Presbyterian groups in the US that you could join. Then this would just be a bad nightmare from the past.

  3. · Doug Phillips Torpedoes Reconciliation With Epsteins Says:

    […] Doug Phillips Refuses Reconciliation With The Epsteins, and […]

  4. Corrie Says:

    Exactly, Joe Geek. Doug Phillips is guilty of the same thing he has accused Jen of doing- claiming sinless perfection. Isn’t this what Doug disciplined you for, Jen? Isn’t this what he is claiming by his very actions?

    Anyone who has any wisdom can see that Doug played a part in this and has some repenting to do. He has made no move towards the Epsteins whatsoever. How can the Epsteins be 100% wrong? Isn’t there some bone that Phillips can throw to them to show them that he is taking responsibility for his faults. Isn’t he even 2% responsible?

  5. Lin Says:

    You probably hurt his pocketbook. ;O)

    Christ would NEVER want us to submit to ungodly elders who do not teach or model His truth.

    No surprise about the others being cowed. I have seen it quite a bit over the past few years. I never cease to be disappointed in mere men…which is why I focus on Christ. He will never let me down. Man always will. Man is usually influenced by worldly things like titles and positional leadership. Ironic because Jesus wasn’t.

    There is nothing wrong with warning others about ungodly men who pose as shepherds.

  6. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Jesus condemned dominion theology, in Matthew 20, verses 25-26: “You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you.”
    I maintain that human beings exercising dominion over fellow human beings is anti-Christian. In Genesis, dominion is given to man over the whole of non-human creation — fish, birds, and animals, everything except the angels — BUT, no dominion over men is given. People didn’t start trying to exercise dominion over one another until after the Fall — in fact, their doing so was a direct result of the Fall: man wanted to be like God, “knowing good and evil”, and so began lording it over other human beings, even when there were only two human beings on the earth.
    That’s because the trouble with being God is that by definition, there can only be one God — the very condition of being God presupposes that one is in DOMINION over everyone and everything else in existance. When humans decided that they would be like God, the first thing they wanted to do is rule over one another — EACH of them wanted to be God, which necessarily placed each of them in competition with one another, and with God Himself.

    Thus I believe that when God said to Eve, “thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”, this did not reflect God’s original plan for mankind, this condition was the natural result of the sin into which Adam and Eve had fallen. It was perhaps a necessary result, under the circumstances, but God’s original plan for mankind was mutual cooperation, and this is the state to which Jesus is restoring us.

  7. Corrie Says:

    “Jesus condemned dominion theology, in Matthew 20, verses 25-26: “You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you.”
    I maintain that human beings exercising dominion over fellow human beings is anti-Christian. In Genesis, dominion is given to man over the whole of non-human creation — fish, birds, and animals, everything except the angels — BUT, no dominion over men is given.”

    Cynthia,

    Excellent.

  8. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Thanks, Corrie. But I read that idea somewhere or other, the idea is not mine, originally. Still, it rang true, and seemed to apply, so I passed it along.

    Another thing I remember reading,
    at this site
    is that while theonomists argue that the Bible teaches that the civil magistrate “is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4), JESUS taught that “if anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive me words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:47-48).
    SO, God’s servants ought not to render temporal judgments and wrath against those whom God HIMSELF is postponing judgment until the last day. (see also Romans 2.)
    And to this, there IS no rebuttal. God Himself has forbidden us to judge the secular world according to the Law of Moses, and while civil magistrates are duty bound to judge secular criminals, the civil magistrate is simply not a competent judge of religious controversies, as the theonomists would have them to be.

  9. victoria Says:

    3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers….to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

    You are mean…………

  10. Jen Says:

    Cynthia, I assume you are bringing up Dominionism because that is what Doug practices. I never thought about it until you said something, but he really is trying to take dominion over us as well, isn’t he?

    OK, Victoria, I’ll bite. How am I mean?

    Thank you for providing that lovely verse. I am assuming that you somehow think I don’t follow the admonitions in this verse. Have I been irreverent in any of my truth-telling?

    Since the definition of “slander” includes telling falsehoods, can you please give me even one example of “slander” on any of my blogs? Do you have any idea how much self-control I have exerted in making sure that I’ve told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; in refusing to be unkind in my treatment of Doug; by willingly placing myself under Faith’s session’s authority; by willingly removing everything from my blog when asked to do so; by not commenting on other blogs when the Session asked me not to; by not attacking all those who have attacked me; by patiently waiting for two years before exposing these evil deeds of darkness? Can you show me my own lack of self control?

    I live a life of purity. That is exactly why I am telling this story – to help bring purity to the church when there is a blemish that cannot be cleansed in any other fashion.

    I am VERY busy at home.

    There have been several commenters here who are amazed at how kind I am to people like you who attack me. Have I ever treated anyone here in an unkind manner?

    Can you give me even one example of my not being subject to my husband? I don’t know if you read my story or not, but that was one of the main points. When accused of being unsubmissive and disrespectful to my husband, I have only asked to be shown an example, so that I can change. I am willing to change, if need be. Neither Doug nor anyone else has ever been able to provide me with any examples.

    Thanks for stopping by, Victoria. I hope you can provide some proof for your allegations against me.

  11. Joe Geek Says:

    Victoria says: “…and to be subject to their husbands,…”

    I don’t think anyone can know whether or not someone is subject to their husbands, unless they know that person (which I don’t think you do), or live with that person. And from what I’ve seen of Mrs. Epstein (and yes, I do know Mrs. Epstein), I don’t think she’s anything but subject, and respectful, and honoring to her husband while she’s written this story.

    “…so that no one will malign the word of God…”

    ma·lign

    –verb (used with object) 1. to speak harmful untruths about; speak evil of; slander; defame: to malign an honorable man (is Doug Phillips and honorable man?).

    –adjective 2. evil in effect; pernicious; baleful; injurious: The gloomy house had a malign influence upon her usually good mood.

    3. having or showing an evil disposition; malevolent; malicious.

    From what I have seen and heard, I don’t think Mrs. Epstein has maligned the Word of God at all; and before I believe that kind of stuff, I’ll have to see some evidence.

  12. Lynn Says:

    Victoria, thanks for, as a friend says, “exegeting your emotions” to Jen.

    If you could supply some reason with your emotions, that would make for better understanding. I mean, it is obvious what you feel, but what you said is irrational.

    You gave a Scripture verse about women being keepers at home. Does that mean Mark and Jen, after years of trying to straighten out what they think is a case of pastoral abuse of authority, CAN’T discuss this matter on their blogs?

    If this is why you said what you said, Victoria, because Jen is saying negative things about Doug Phillips, then you, Victoria, would be a hypocrite, for doing something else besides being a keeper at home as well. You just commented on this blog, and said something negative about Jen.

    I see no such application from that Scripture you gave. You just gave it, as though that settled the matter in your mind. God’s word says it, I believe it, that settles it — Jen shouldn’t be blogging about Doug Phillips, because if she does, she is in violation of this verse.

    What a bunch of bunk.

    Victoria, you ought to learn the Bible better than you seem to know. The Bible isn’t some kind of club to beat people over the head with, by using verses that don’t apply to the situation. If Jen takes care of Mark and her children and their home, that verse *doesn’t* mean she *can’t* do anything else.

    Here’s the main point — if what Mark and Jen are saying is true, Christians need to hear it and be warned. What you need to do is investigate both sides of this matter, and seek truth. And stop telling Jen she is being mean. If what she writes is true, you might just as well call Jesus “mean” for calling the Scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites.”

  13. victoria Says:

    “Can you show me my own lack of self control?”

    You’ve answered that with the content of your entire blog.

  14. mercyme Says:

    I am confused. Perhaps it’s because I am not presbyterian and really have never understood ‘memberships’ in churches much, anyway.

    So, are you saying that Faith Presbyterian Church has denied membership to you? And that the Peacemakers could not make peace between you and the Phillips? Will the Peacemakers come out with a statement proclaiming what they have seen in the controversy? Will the Faith Pres. elders reveal their stance? Why or why not?

    I am dismayed and bewildered. If they are going to deny membership, I think they ought to say why–publicly. Am I missing something? No doubt I am, but it reeks of some sort of mysterious-ness. I wish someone could make this more clear.
    Thanks.

  15. Joe Geek Says:

    Victoria says:

    “Can you show me my own lack of self control?”
    You’ve answered that with the content of your entire blog.

    Where? Give me a specific example. Give me some quotes from one of her articles.

  16. Lynn Says:

    Jen, Victoria is not answering you, and this is your blog. Her latest answer to your question is a TOTAL evasion. May I make a suggestion and that until she starts thinking, and can be honest and give an answer to your questions, that you don’t allow any more of these comments like what she made above?

    I know I must be being selfish here, but it gets very tiresome to see you ask a question and get such a non-answer, and this is your own blog and all.

  17. Jen Says:

    All right, Victoria, apparently I am being TOO patient with you. I am going to ask that you give me some proof of your allegations before I post any more comments from you.

  18. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Jen I am heartbroken for you but not surprised.

    Blessings to you dear SISTER IN CHRIST!!!!!!

    Best, Morgan

  19. Jen Says:

    We’re confused too, Mercyme. None of it really makes any sense to us, which is why we wrote a letter to the FPC session and asked them a lot of questions. We’d like to believe that they’ll be straight with us and give us some answers, but so far we haven’t gotten any.

    “Will the Peacemakers come out with a statement proclaiming what they have seen in the controversy?” We hope so, but we don’t know yet.

    “Will the Faith Pres. elders reveal their stance?” So far what they’ve “revealed” raises far more questions than it answers. We hope they’ll be forthcoming. We’ll just have to wait and see. “Why or why not?” We don’t know yet, but we have reason to believe that these men have been threatened and intimidated by Doug. We know that’s Doug’s MO, and we know that he called them “wicked sinners for fellowshipping with and entertaining excommunicants.” That’s nothing new. He’s done that to everyone who’s had anything to do with us.

    Why anyone would be intimidated by that we just don’t understand. Far too few church leaders today are willing to be courageous and take a stand for biblical justice. We know that this happened with our last pastor too. Doug also refused his overtures to facilitate reconciliation. The difference between that situation and the FPC situation is that the last pastor was financially beholden to Doug. Vision Forum buys a lot of his materials, and he speaks at VF functions. In the end he caved in and he even cried on the phone telling us how afraid he was that Doug would destroy his ministry. So for the sake of money he let Doug continue to have his way. As far as we know none of the FPC elders are beholden to Doug financially or otherwise. That’s why we’re now so confused why they’d be cowed by Doug. We can’t understand what he’s used to intimidate them with.

    Here’s what we do know regarding the FPC situation, and what we can say. Doug Phillips has refused the requests of the Faith Presbyterian Church session to meet with us for reconciliation discussion. In Doug’s words, “This is not about reconciliation; this is only about the Epsteins repenting.” We, of course, disagree. We maintain that we were unjustly excommunicated on numerous false charges by Kangaroo Court. Most of the Boerne Christian Assembly members who voted with Doug to excommunicate us are beholden to Doug. Half of them are beholden to him for their very livelihoods — they’re his employees! It would be incredibly naive for anyone to believe that we could have ever received a fair judgment at BCA.

    FPC is unwilling to evaluate, review or disregard the BCA “excommunication.” Regardless of how unjust our “excommunication” was, FPC accepts the excommunication as a historic fact. Since Doug refuses to meet with us for reconciliation FPC believes that they can’t accept us as members in their church. That’s about all we can really say about it at this time.

  20. Lynn Says:

    Jen, these things are not outside the Providence of God . . .

    1) I have become acquainted on-line, via mail, and over the phone, with Corrie.

    2) Corrie’s husband was acquainted with the Bayly brothers from high school years.

    3) Corrie posted some things in defense of a woman on the Bayly blog, only to be kicked off their blog. But another man saw the same behavior of the Baylys toward this woman, said something about it, and got no such treatment. Corrie received a nastygram from them which she shared with me, telling her they talked to others about her who gave a bad report about her. I assume this was the like-minded Patriarchal “men” from the Complementarian Christian Coalition.

    Meanwhile, I had read what Corrie had posted to the Bayly blog, and saw no reason for this kind of treatment of her.

    Then, these PCA pastors write a public notice to their blog about how they go to great lengths to get things straightened around with people they are making “judgments” about. Off-line e-mails, phone calls, etc..

    Meanwhile, both Corrie and her husband were contacting the Baylys — for 5 whole days — and received no response from them.

    So I decided to post about this lying hypocrisy of theirs on my blog.

    Finally Tim did call Corrie’s husband. And on his blog, he said something to the effect that they had been playing phone tag and finally were able to talk. They may have been playing phone tag, but what he said on his blog led people to believe that he was trying all along to get back in touch with Corrie and her husband, when this simply wasn’t true.

    I know.

    I was e-mailing Corrie every day during this time. And they were active on their blog. There was no reason for them to delay calling Corrie or her husband back.

    4) A couple of my brothers-in-law in the last 10 years or so joined PCA churches, and I have heard a lot about some problems in leadership with two of them.

    You know, as a general rule, I like the concept of the PCA, but some of the behavior I have seen and heard about going from some of the pastors in that denomination stinks to high heavens.

    So what happened in this case doesn’t take me by surprise. Not in the least. If FPC was really able to say anything, it ought to have been said by now, but it hasn’t. They ought to have had a response ready to go when they dropped this on you and Mark.

    Two things you have going for you — is if all Doug Phillips can do is that BCA statement and the sinless perfection charge against you — as Corrie said — Doug needs to repent of sinless perfection, too! Ha! He apparently believes that about himself! In addition, the only other real piece of work up against you is that mrsbino site, and believe me, in the long run, they did you a big favor with that buffoonery.

  21. Jen Says:

    Lynn, I was a little anxious about working with a PCA church to begin with, but these guys really seemed different. One difference between these elders and Doug, though, is that while Doug actively promotes his brand of patriarchy, the Faith elders held to a complementarian view. I was surprised to see you link them together here. I think the Bayly brothers fall on the extreme patriarchy side as well.

    But, you are right, Lynn. Matt Chancey sure does make me look good! I kind of like the name Mrs. Binoculars.

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize how ironic it is that Doug would accuse me of sinless perfectionism and then come off in this situation as though he is 100% right. Doesn’t the pope claim that he is always right, too?

  22. Mark Epstein Says:

    Jennifer,

    You know, until Corrie mentioned it, I missed the “100% right=sinless perfectionism” angle. What a great story for you to write! Here’s a possible working title: “Perfect Pastor Pummels Pitiful Penitent for Perfectionist Poppycock.” ;~]

    BTW, the pope does claim papal infallibility.

  23. Lynn Says:

    The Catholic church says that when the Pope speaks “ex cathedra,” he is then speaking infallibly. So, technically, no, the pope would not claim that he is always right about everything. But for all practical purposes, your excommunication being a church pronouncement, and Doug’s behavior, it amounts to the same thing — the church authority has spoken, and it is infallible and inerrant. Very much like the Pope.

  24. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Lynn, on your blog, someone pointed out yesterday that Doug Phillips subscribes to a principle promoted by Dr. Jay Adams, who teaches that all churches are bound to uphold the discipline of another church or they are really a false church.
    If that is the case, Doug has a tiger by the tail: he can’t afford to admit that he was wrong in excommunicating the Epsteins, because if his church fails to uphold its own actions, that would be tantamount to admitting that they were not being led by the Holy Spirit when they excommunicated of Mark and Jen. In a sense, Bourne would brand itself as a false church, and Doug as a false prophet. Sinless perfectionism is a two-edged sword, apparently.

  25. Corrie Says:

    victoria,

    don’t forget to stick your tongue out after you call someone “mean”. that ALWAYS goes along with calling someone “mean”. 🙂

  26. Lynn Says:

    Cynthia, I have read Jay Adam’s book *Comptetent to Counsel*. I know his theological leanings, but don’t know his direct teachings on church discipline. Unless I can read more of what Dr. Adams says here, I’m suspending judgment on the issue, but I have doubts that Adams would teach that *every* instance of church discipline ought to be recognized by all churches, and that is what that statement above seems to be implying about what he teaches.

    I mean, Adams is Reformed! If he truly thinks that all churches need to uphold the discipline of another church regardless of whether the discipline was biblical or not, then he should go back to the Catholic Church, because they threw Martin Luther out. And I don’t think he would teach that. Sola Scriptura is a doctrine I know he adheres too, but I would be interested in knowing his teachings on this matter.

  27. Natasha Epstein Says:

    “Why don’t you just find another Christian denomination? Surely there are enough conservative Presbyterian groups in the US that you could join. Then this would just be a bad nightmare from the past.”

    Um, it’s not exactly that easy to find another church that even wants to have anything to do with us after this whole thing. And yes, it truly is a nightmare, but one that my family has yet to wake up from! I don’t think any of you realise just how badly my parents, myself, and my siblings were hurt. Let’s just say because of all the gossip and slander and hurtful things said about me and my family, even though all this happened 2 years ago, I am completely paranoid about people talking about me behind my back, and I’m absolutely terrified of making friends, and afraid that the ones I do have will one day turn on and leave me just like everyone else in my life. I have “moved on”, so to speak, but I still get scared all the time that it will happen to me and my family all over again, or that I will have to see someone from that cult and endure their judgment and hypocrisy and utter lack of love. It’s not something that you can shove into your past just at the snap of a finger and move forward with your life. You have to have time to heal, and when a person has been hurt that badly, it takes a long time. I was in a car accident back in December ’05, and my ankle is still healing from that! If it’s taking my physically hurt body that long, imagine how much longer it will take to be healed emotionally. To be bluntly honest, we have all been scarred for life, and once burned twice shy is all I can say.

  28. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Nastasha, I came from a PCA split in Oct 2004 that I am still not yet healed from. There was a ‘blip’ at the church I am now attending…(actually I was in the ‘founding group’ of this new church after the split on 04) and I went back to the emotional and psychological insanity that I experienced at that time…it was horrible for me as well as several dear friends…after discussing the 04 events with a dear friend and counselor…I discovered that one event was the #1 event in my life that had affected me the most. It affected everything in my psyche….my ability to trust other professing christians the most. I still have a terror if you will of the people that did these things as well as those that supported them and upheld their actions.

    What is so sad is that very few people understand this and prefer to sweep stuff under the rug….actually thats presbyterianism …er…a christianity today in a nutshell… just get over it…and move on…no one really cares about why or how…..just avoid the conflict…after all appearances are everything…must not look unchristian or un-presbyterian!!!

    I have had the nightmares, the sleepless nights and all of the other tramatic stress related. results..they still come and go sometimes without warning.

    Unofrtunately for you, myself and all of those like us…church abuse is something we learn to cope with ….we never really recover from it. All we can do is lean on each other and know that God is faithful to sustain us with His Grace.

    What makes me the angriest is when people say “I went throught that too…you need to get over it…whats wrong with you?”

    Well I guess what’s wrong with us is that maybe we are just affected differently than other people and maybe THEY need to get over it!!! We HAVE BEEN SCARRED FOR LIFE.

    As far as finding another conservative Presby group…good luck…the OPC & the PCA are being torn apart by doctrinal differences over the federal vision and the new perspective on Paul.

    Reformed really does not mean what it used to.

  29. Lynn Says:

    Morgan:
    “What is so sad is that very few people understand this and prefer to sweep stuff under the rug.”

    Morgan and Natasha, unless I had been through something like this, I would not have understood how severe the emotional pain can be . . . nor the repercussions.

    Natasha, you *will* find people out there who have been through this, just like Morgan has, and there are resources — people in your life who understand, online groups, and books, that can understand and minister comfort and help.

    Remember Shakespear’s line, “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” I remember a friend of mine used to say to me about our church situation something like, “How can something that looks so normal be so sinister and destructive of our very souls?”

    People who never have been through this *do* wonder what is the big deal. If and when they go through it, they will stop wondering. So find people who understand, and seek their counsel and support. They ARE out there!

    I think one thing my situation has taught me is not disrespect for those in church leadership, not at all, but that I need to constantly be checking them against the yardstick of God’s word, not only in their teaching, but also in their conduct.

    Have you ever thought that the 5 “onlys” of the Reformation did NOT include church leaders? The 5 “onlys” are “Only Scripture,” “Only Christ,” “Only Faith,” “Only Grace,” and “Only for the Glory of God.”

    Natasha wrote:
    “Let’s just say because of all the gossip and slander and hurtful things said about me and my family, even though all this happened 2 years ago, I am completely paranoid about people talking about me behind my back, and I’m absolutely terrified of making friends, and afraid that the ones I do have will one day turn on and leave me just like everyone else in my life. I have “moved on”, so to speak, but I still get scared all the time that it will happen to me and my family all over again, or that I will have to see someone from that cult and endure their judgment and hypocrisy and utter lack of love.”

    And Doug Phillips has the gall to say *he’s* the one who’s been hurt!

    And after hurting this family by gross breach of pastoral confidentiality, snubbing and hurting children who had absolutely nothing to do with this, and after their many attempts at mediation, Victoria also has the gall to say Jen is the one who is being mean!

    What nonsense!

  30. Sophie Says:

    The PCA is a mess, in my opinion. You have one group within the denomination who call themselves “TR” meaning “truly remformed.” Their views on the role of the pastor and the church are amazing. A year ago I saw a link to this site on someone’s blog.

    http://www.ecclesiocentricity.blogspot.com

    I think this PCA pastor explains alot, though he doesn’t seem to like the patriarchs much either. Actually, it does make sense….who is supposed to be in charge, the fathers or the pastors? And then, what if they are one and the same? It all reminds me of the disciples arguing over who gets to sit next to Jesus. It is all about power rather than serving one another.

  31. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Have you listened to a Pat Robertson sermon lately? I did… and it seemed that every other word was about POWER– power over things, power over our lives, getting power from God, etc, etc. Whatever happened to surrendering our lives to Jesus, and giving up power and selfhood to Him? That’s what Pat used to preach, back before he turned dominionist.

  32. Corrie Says:

    Cynthia,

    I was just thinking about this emphasis on power and authority.

    Many of these leaders are violating Jesus’ command to not be like the Gentiles. They lord over others their so-called authority and power.

    What they should be emphasizing is giving up of their power, just like you said. They should be emphasizing their servanthood to all believers. They should be emphasizing their low stature as servants of all.

    What their tiny, little self-serving egos can’t seem to realize is that they have an inflated view of self. They, being the so-called leaders, are beneath all.

    To think that they think they have the power to ban a family from attending a church just because they say so is so ludicrous and utterly laughable that it is almost ridiculous to entertain their silly statements.

    But, we have to entertain them because ther pompous, self-righteous behavior has real consequences on real souls. Just see Natasha’s post above. It makes me angry every time I think what has been done to these children.

    What did Jesus tell His disciples? Let the little children come and do not hinder them.

    I think that they, the Popes of Power, have hindered these children?

  33. Wondering Says:

    I looked at the FPC website. Ligonier is the second ministry they link to. My guess is the church also got some pressure from Ligonier to not allow you to join. The posts you’ve done on them, while apparently true, are not good for “business”.

  34. Mark Epstein Says:

    Natasha, Morgan, Lynn,etc.,

    It is interesting to note that the synoptic gospels have almost the same wording concerning offending little ones:

    “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt 18:6

    “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” Mark 9:42

    “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” Luke 17:2

    I have made many mistakes in my life as a husband, a father, a brother in Christ, and a friend to sinners. Mistakes that required humbly asking forgiveness of those I offended – including my children. However, Doug Phillips has hurt two of my children that do understand and one that is incapable of understanding why those who used to hug her now physically push her away. My Bible tells me that “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matt 12:37) The guidance to shun Jennifer’s and my children will be brought into judgment, just as all of our actions and words will be judged. The millstone passages above were written for all men – saint and sinner alike – and all the “works” we do for God (which are but filthy rags) will not redeem us for violating such a dire warning.

  35. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Wondering….. now you have got me ‘wondering too’. It would not surprise me at all if Ligionier had pressured FPC into cut & run.

  36. Lynn Says:

    Mark, you are right about these verses. I have had to ask forgiveness of my children often. I have had a hard time controlling being upset when I see your children weighing in on how they feel. In Natasha, today I could just feel the isolation and pain.

  37. LAS Says:

    Natasha,
    (((Hug)))

    quote from Natasha:

    I’m absolutely terrified of making friends, and afraid that the ones I do have will one day turn on and leave me just like everyone else in my life. I have “moved on”, so to speak, but I still get scared all the time that it will happen to me and my family all over again, or that I will have to see someone from that cult and endure their judgment and hypocrisy and utter lack of love.
    ————————————————————–

    Oh my goodness!! These sentiments really resonated with me. My family was part of a cult-like church during my teen years. I left when I had the choice at the age of 18. My family left two years later (thank GOD)! Gossip, shunning, slander… it all happened to me and my family as well. I especially fight bitterness for how they were mean to my mom who was dealing with a lot of stress.

    I remember one time when I was about twenty, I was in the car with my boyfriend (now husband). The leader of the “church” I had been a part of owned a computer business and DH had said how he wanted to go see the place. I didn’t think he was serious, but when he pulled into the parking lot and parked right in front of the windows of the building, I had a panic attack when I realized DH was serious. DH didn’t realize that I truly couldn’t handle seeing any of these people. And these people had been like family during my teen years. (We didn’t go in and left.)

    I’m still dealing with the effects of spiritual abuse and it’s been 13 years since I left (I’m now 31.) I’m having issues trusting the church we’ve been a part of for 4 years now when I found out some views leadership had and how they were different from my own. I don’t truly trust most Christians… just like Morgan Farmer mentioned. It is a very lonely place.

    For most of this time, even though I knew the things they did were wrong and not loving and so forth, I still struggled with wondering secretly if they were right and I was the wrong one. The rebellious one.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that there are other Christians out there who have been in similar situations and realize the horrible ramifications it can have. Truly trustworthy, empathetic Christians can be hard to come by… but Jesus is worthy of our trust. Thank God I still have my faith, though it hasn’t been smooth.

    I’ve had to realize that these people presented a form of Christianity that I no longer subscribe to. I had been trained to be a prideful and judgemental Pharisee. This is not true Christianity. It’s only been a couple of years that I read the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew and God has been using it to turn my faith upside-down.

    I’m learning to see these people just a little bit as God sees them and let go of my resentment and bitterness. I find that I no longer need to go on and on about all the specific ways they wronged my family or about the total hypocrisy (though this was part of my working through it.) And oh I understand being incredulous at the hypocrisy!

    I pray that God uses all of this to help you learn more about what Jesus truly represents. What Doug Phillips teaches may sound biblical, smart and important, but it’s not the true Gospel. It’s not really Him.

  38. Cynthia Gee Says:

    You know, I think we ought to be praying for Phillips and all of the other people who are being deceived by the Dominionist movement. There is little doubt in my mind that his church (and the Patriarchy Movement as a whole) is a cult, because it hurts people and because it operates by using fear, lies and intimidation: would Jesus do things like bringing up a person’s pre-conversion sins? Would He pick on children, or intimidate the FPC session, or bully the PCA church Jen was trying to join? Would Jesus run a site like Mrs. Binoculars?
    I think not… the Bible says in John 13:35 “By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. ” It also says that Luk 6:40 “A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher.”

    So Phillips may well be a Christian, but somewhere along the line he has strayed from the path, because he certainly isn’t acting like Jesus.

    Still, we have to remember that most people who do the sort of things that Phillips and Co. have been doing are also hurting, because they don’t know Jesus, and they just keep reaping pain and bitterness, for themselves and for all the people whose lives they touch. In short, they have to live with themselves, and they are self-sentenced to do so within the context of their own heresy. Usually such people started out by trying their very best to serve God, but got sidetracked somewhere, often by their own egos and by a faulty understanding of Scriptures. We should pray for false teachers, love them, and try to forgive them if they have hurt us or our loved ones, and help them to see the error of their ways and return to God. But until they do repent, we have a grave responsibility to warn our brothers and sisters away from them.

    The bright spot in all this (and yes, there IS a bright spot) is that once we have recognised a false teacher or heretical belief system for what it is, we are free to move on, and live our lives out of the reach of such men and the churches that pay heed to them. Any church that would recognise Bourne’s excommunication of the Epsteins is not a healthy place to be in the first place.

  39. SB Says:

    “Jesting at scars” — I’m impressed at the commentor’s ability to divine my entire history from a single comment! Actually, the reason I am reading this blog in the first place is that I was more or less “shunned” from a conservative (Lutheran) denomination to which I was spiritually and emotionally bonded. I’m an outsider to conservative Presbyterianism, not to the ongoing wounding of the soul by an oppressive authority. In my case, I only began to find healing when I found the courage to say “to h*** with you all” and found another church in another denomination. Happiness is the best revenge. I wish you well.

  40. Marsha Says:

    Cynthia said “Any church that would recognize Bourne’s excommunication of the Epsteins is not a healthy place to be in the first place.”

    This is absolutely the truth. Our family went through a similar situation years ago. We were excommunicated (if you can call it that….there was no trial, we never received a thing in writing, I believe they creatively called it “defacto excommunication) basically, because we wouldn’t put up with the abuse any longer. (ie, would not have our children listen as the pastor attacked us and others from the pulpit.) We tried so hard to go by the book (the Book of Church Order in this case). We chose to move on to another church who welcomed us in after reading all our paperwork. When the first church tried to keep us from joining the second church, the real intimidation started. We had already joined and were considered members in good standing but the second church started feeling the pressure. The two pastors met….think good old boys’ club…. and the next thing you know, we were placed into some sort of weird limbo. We were full members but my husband was told that he would never be involved in leadership until we sat down with the first church session and confessed sin against them. We also felt that we would be committing bearing false witness against ourselves if we did that so after giving it the old college try, we left. I do not know if we will ever be members of a church again. We are working on it. (We took a membership class but want to get to know the leadership before we place ourselves under their authority.) We have been attending an awesome church for the past two years. There is no weirdness, no trips, no scarey doctrine and no patriarchial mumbo jumbo.

    The first church in question is a PCA church. And here is the interesting thing…..when we went to our presbytery with the rulings our session had made, they ruled that the session was preaching heresy BUT they gave them what I would call a “warning” and told them to fix it. Instead, those guys found a loop hole in our time frame for filing a complaint against them and filed an appeal which they won. (We HAD filed within the requried 30 day period after the ruling. They claimed they had made the ruling before they announced it from the pulpit. How would we have known about their ruling? All we had to go on was their public statements. It was even found that they had no written record of their ruling because they kept no records whatsoever of their session meetings, which were closed to anyone but them.) So, a presbytery who told them they were preaching heresy also let them off on a loophole. The presbytery gave them a list of things they were supposed to do, including have an outside mediator come in and meet with all the offended families,but, of course, no one ever made them do it. The presbytery was really screwed up. And their counsel for how to do it was a man ( on the highest level of church court in the PCA, a guy who, had we appealed, would have been the one who pronounced judgement on us! It’s a tidy little system.

    As far as recovering from this, we had to ask ourselves why we kept placing ourselves in the same sort of situations. Years ago we had been in a really unhealthy homeschooling group. It was legalistic and did alot of damage to one of our children. It seems like we walked out of the frying pan and embraced the fire. Then we thought we had to work through some church court system to be honest and upright. We finally came to this….a church is only as good as the character of its leaders. And you cannot know their character by simply joining and transferring membership. How can you place yourself under the authority of people you don’t know well? It is foolish. Just because someone is an elder doens’t mean that they are Scripturally qualified to be one.) I would encourage you, Jen and Mark, and anyone else to take your time before joining another church. Get to know the leaders, find out how they live, you won’t miss anything this time, you will be able to discern alot if you just watch.

    And the really good news is this…..God is good. He is faithful. He is the great healer and the great restorer. The past year has been a wonderful one for me in that my fellowship with my Lord has been so real and so sweet. I love the Word again. There was a long time that I could barely bring myself to even look in the Bible. I had heard so many sermons where the Scripture was twisted to mean what those men wanted it to mean. Now it is truly a spring of living water. I am finally able to anxiously await Sunday morning. I can freely worship. And I can finally take communion without the hammer of condemnation hitting me in the head, without hearing things in my head that I knew in my heart were not true. It takes time, a forgiving spirit, and the Lord’s grace. But you will recover.

  41. Jen Says:

    Marsha, thank you for sharing that with us. It is so encouraging to know that we are not alone in this type of abuse and that there is still hope. I know that God will use our situation for His own glory and that this will work out for good because I love Him.

    I think you have a really good point about taking plenty of time to get to know the elders/leaders in a church before we join again. Of course, if we do that, we might not ever join a church again, since I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust anyone again either. The one thing I’ve learned in all this is that most Christians are not trustworthy.

  42. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Jen, most people aren’t completely trustworthy, even Christian people who DON’T belong to cults. That’s because we’re human. Even the best of us let each other down occasionally, and even when we try our best to be nice, we sometimes fail. But we keep trying…..Christianity itself is trustworthy, on account of its Founder. That’s why you should give no one authority over your soul except Jesus, the One who cannot fail.

  43. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Cynthia I sorta agree and I sorta disagree… 😉 ‘most people aren’t completely trustworthy’…

    Whenever one us does something or demonstrates untrustworthiness (is that a word?) I believe that the best thing we can do is to ‘own it’. We must be accountable to each other as well as to ourselves. THAT means being brutally honest and truthful with ourselves as with our brothers and sisters.

    We fail…but we keep trying….

  44. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Another thing…Marshas’ story sounds suspiciously like the pca presbytery that we encountered…..

  45. Lynn Says:

    SB:
    “‘Jesting at scars’ — I’m impressed at the commentor’s ability to divine my entire history from a single comment!”

    Man-o-day! I wrote that in response to something Morgan wrote, and it wasn’t to your comment, which was umpty-umteen above that! In fact, the reason I wrote that was in response to a quote of Morgan’s, which I quoted right above that. If I had wanted to write about you, or to you, I would have done so a lot sooner, believe me! I’ve been reading this thread from the beginning.

  46. Joe Geek Says:

    Morgan Farmer says:
    Nastasha, I came from a PCA split in Oct 2004 that I am still not yet healed from.

    LAS says:
    Oh my goodness!! These sentiments really resonated with me. My family was part of a cult-like church during my teen years. I left when I had the choice at the age of 18. My family left two years later (thank GOD)! Gossip, shunning, slander… it all happened to me and my family as well.

    Marsha says:
    Our family went through a similar situation years ago. We were excommunicated (if you can call it that….there was no trial, we never received a thing in writing, I believe they creatively called it “defacto excommunication) basically, because we wouldn’t put up with the abuse any longer. (ie, would not have our children listen as the pastor attacked us and others from the pulpit.)

    Wow! There sure are a lot of people that have been excommunicated. Too bad we don’t all live in the same state. We could start our own church! “The Church of the Excommunicants.”

  47. Cynthia Gee Says:

    “Wow! There sure are a lot of people that have been excommunicated. Too bad we don’t all live in the same state. We could start our own church! “The Church of the Excommunicants.”

    You would be in good company, Joe.

    After all, it is written, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. Jhn 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. Jhn 16:3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. Jhn 16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. “

  48. barbaracurtis Says:

    I figured this was the way it would go…..

    Having spent a couple years with a Christian guru with a devoted following and having been shunned and marginalized myself, I figured there wouldn’t be the humility necessary to “submit” to reconciliation efforts. For Christian gurus, submission applies to everyone but them.

  49. Mark Epstein Says:

    Barbara,

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s the proverbial problem — ego on steroids (runaway pride) — but we also know what the Proverbs say about pride. ;-]

  50. Kathy Says:

    Perhaps it is time to form a fellowship WITHOUT THE CAMP of a group of true believers in Jesus Christ. May God bless you and your family greatly!

  51. Douglas Wokoun Says:

    I’m disappointed to hear that PCA elders would be so spineless. Who needs a celibate priesthood when you can have a Session of eunuchs?

  52. praying and thinking Says:

    Natasha, please let me say this to you. Romans 10:11 has been profoundly important to me. Most of thirty years ago, around 1978, I had an appointment to meet a man in my church at a pizza place to eat and visit. I arrived a few minutes ahead of our agreed time, and I waited an hour or more. He never came. As I waited, the Lord showed me this truth in Romans 10:11. This man had promised to meet me at that place at that time, and I believed him and expectantly waited on him. I was disappointed. The Lord Jesus Christ never fails, never misses what He promises, never. You may not quite know whether the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning, but you can be asbolutely certain that whatever Christ says is true. How viciously Doug Phillips and his group have betrayed, attacked, hurt you, your brother and sister, and your parents. Even your parents (who from my distant perspective strongly seem to be genuinely loving, devoted parents to their children), even Mark and Jennifer will fail you. You will fail yourself. How countless many times I have failed. The Lord Jesus Christ never fails a person. Never. He showed me that truth that day in the late 1970’s, as I waited for the man who never came as he promised. Romans 10:11 “For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” You can trust Him utterly, absolutely, and He will never fail you.

  53. Kim Says:

    Jen, I’m so sorry. This is so very disappointing. Mr. Phillips has lost all of my respect and I’ll not be supporting his ministry anymore. He needs to admit his own sins in this, and should be extending to you the grace Christ has given to him.

  54. Steve Sensenig Says:

    I’m very sorry to hear about all this. I had a hunch that it would go this way, only because I, too, have seen abusive leadership in several occasions, and experienced some of the same pain (although on a MUCH smaller scale than what you have been through).

    I would urge you to look at what the New Testament teaches about the church, and how people within the church relate to one another. Perhaps you will find that your desire to “join” a church is not even necessarily what Scripture teaches.

    There are many, many churches who do not practice formal “membership” in the way that the churches you have attempted to join do. And I think there are many of those who would take you in, minister to you, allow you to heal, and not insist that you can’t join without being reconciled to Mr. Phillips.

    I’m sorry for what happened with FPC. That is insult added to injury, in my opinion. Of course, I’m trying to be very careful in what judgment I pass because I’m not personally involved. But I was really surprised at the hoops you were having to jump through, only to be told that you can’t join their church.

    I don’t want to tell you what to believe about church membership, but I think that this is going to just keep happening if you try to join churches that formalize their membership and add all kinds of other extra-biblical requirements to the process, like it appears FPC did.

    I hope this helps in some way. I’m not sure exactly how to say all I want to say to you, but please know that you are not shunned or hated by all. If you lived closer, I would welcome you to fellowship with us and our simple church gatherings.

    May God continue to minister to you, and allow you to take your eyes off of anyone but Himself for your healing and restoration.

    Blessings,
    steve

  55. Barb Says:

    I have just skimmed, couldn’t swallow much of what I was reading, your blog. I am baffled that this man hasn’t been struck by lightening. There is no grace, no mercy, no Christ in this man’s message. I am glad you are free and only wonder how many others are still trapped.
    As I read chapter after chapter I thought “this is insane, his theology is ridiculous.” His treatment of women is so akin to Islam it is scary. I hope and pray your hearts are healed from this nightmare and God will bring you abundant blessings and joy.

  56. Lynn Says:

    Thanks to Joe Geek, I read the poem about “Dougy Wuggy” another time on Matt Chancey’s blog:

    http://mattchancey.blogspot.com/

    “So ‘ere’s to you, Dougy Wuggy, at your ‘ome in Texas sand,
    Though you’ve n’er fired shot in anger, you’re a first class fightin’ man!
    I gives you your certificate, and I gives you my right ‘and,
    An’ I’ll fight beside your person, ‘cause I’m your biggest fan!”

    Then, much later on, Matt says this:
    “Unfortunately, the Christian world (not to exclude the Christian homeschooling world) is now plagued with infantile, irresponsible, and even slanderous blogging, that threatens to do damage to the unsuspecting and naive among us. . . . Upon perusing the content (which goes on for volumes on end), I could only cringe with embarrassment that such information is made public to a watching world. What was it that Jesus said? “By this all men shall know that ye are my disciples, if you blog nasty things about one another?””

    I wonder why Matt doesn’t think http://mrsbinoculars.com/ should be on this list? I mean, who made public things about the Epsteins that should have remained in confidence?

  57. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Can someone please tell me why all of these domionists/thenomists/kinists/agrarian presbyterians think they are from Scotland???????

    I am aware of the Scot Presbyterian history but theres also Irish Presbyterian history as well as American Presbyterian history…or am I just missing it completely?

  58. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Well, there are two things that are probably going on here.

    First of all, any revolutionary movement needs a large, preferably bluecollar group of discontented people from which to draw support, and the Dominionist movement has found that in the American South. Such movements typically bolster the self image of such groups by playing up the idea that they are a put-upon, down trodden, and heroic people, struggling under an evil oppressor.

    The Dominionists have capitalized on the fact that many Southern people are of Scots-Irish descent. The Dominionists actively seek (and recieve) the support of Southern white supremicist/secessionist groups who promote an “Anglo-Celtic” ethnic consciousness among their members, and see themselves as TRIPLY the underdog: their Celtic ancestors left Europe after getting kicked around by the British (read:evil oppressor), then they came here and got kicked around by the Union armies in the Civil War (evil oppressor), and now their families, cultures, and livelihoods are being threatened by the people in Washington (there’s that evil oppressor again), by Hollywood, and by immigrants coming in from Mexico and overseas (a handy scapegoat.)

    This is a tried and true technique, BTW– it worked splendidly for the Third Reich.

  59. Who said what Says:

    Jen,

    I think your readers should demand that Faith Pres explain themselves. It’s not right to take public actions without making a public statement like this.

    I’m going to email them I hope everyone else will at least do that and ask for a statment from the elders…who do they think they are?

    Here is thier website: http://www.faithpca.com

    Here is their email address: faithpca@satx.rr.com.

  60. Jonathan Says:

    I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to express my dissapointment with Reformed Presbyterians in general. Given the history of the last ten years I don’t find the judgement of FPC suprising……..

    There were two things FPC had to do.

    First; Attempt reconciliation between the Epsteins and Doug Phillips. I don’t consider this a problem with the Epsteins and BCA. Where Doug Phillips leads BCA will follow. This was accomplished.

    Second; FPC had to determine whether or not the judgement against the Epsteins was just. Apparently FPC thought the case against the Epsteins was just.

    But in a larger sense FPC had to determine if BCA bore the marks of a true church. What FPC did was say that BCA, under Doug Phillips, faithfully preaches the word of God, faithfully administers the sacraments, and practices Godly disipline. According to the reformed, these are the marks of a true church. This is what i find so sad. But then again, the majority of reformed believe that there is room in God’s church for those that believe in justification by faith alone and those that believe in justification by faithfull obedience…..

    I wish I could say something that would make this whole situation go away for the Epsteins.

    Natasha, if it makes you feel any better I wouldn’t hesitate to volunteer you to baby sit my son…..;-) He easy to watch, as long as you don’t mind the constant running around and him chewing on the furniture. Anyway…

    I truly hope that the Epsteins can find a Godly Church….and sorry for the bad spelling.

  61. Recovering "Vow Breaker" Says:

    Jennifer,
    Thank you for being willing to share this in all of its horrifying glory. I am saddened by this outcome, but not surprised. I am grateful you have been set free of the Romanism creeping into many “reformed” churches and , as you know, have had recent first-hand experience with this.
    I appreciate hearing the accounts of others who have been abused in this fashion. Thank you for the encouragement.

    I have searched Scripture for a mandate to officially “join” a local church, and have yet to find anything requiring me to VOW to obey a group of men. I thought I was a Protestant! Obviously there is a need for order within the local body, but I will never again allow mere men to hijack my active relationship with my Savior. He is my mediator, not Mary or some icon or even a life-term Session. Aren’t believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit and considered to be God’s children? Aren’t all professing Christians members of the “visible” church? What happened to shepherds? What happened to servants? I’m sorry, but the emperor is naked and the BOCO is not Scripture.

    I am grateful to God for prying us out of Jonestown…grateful for being led back into His word and into prayer…grateful to be able to pray for those who are lost and/or severely misguided…and grateful it is Spring after six years of Winter in the OPC. God bless you all and thank you for your honesty. Please pray for everyone involved in these travesties. God’s love for His church transcends all of this, and His honor will be defended. I fear for those who abuse His sheep.

  62. ultimatetruth Says:

    Recovering “Vow Breaker” said: “I fear for those who abuse His sheep.”

    I do too. My God open their eyes before they trod further down the path of destruction.

  63. Diana Says:

    1 Timothy 5:1,2 “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.”

    Isn’t DP younger than you Jen? Shouldn’t he be treating you like a mother?

  64. Morgan Farmer Says:

    To Cynthia Gee…thanks for the explanation…I live in Texas so I see a lot of this..but you have explained the background to me clearly and concisely. I now understrand the underpinnings of the insanity and you are right…..it worked great for the third reich.

    I totally agree with Jonathan…Reformed Presbyterianisn is deeply disappointing right now….

  65. Lin Says:

    “I totally agree with Jonathan…Reformed Presbyterianisn is deeply disappointing right now….”

    Really folks, it is most of Christendom. It is as if God has sent a delusion (2 Thess, I think).

    The cruelest, most deceptive behavior I have witnessed in the last 3 years have been from Christian leaders. In both reformed and ‘seeker’ camps. I was literally safer from lies and deception with my former atheist colleagues.

    I was listening to an intinerant pastor preach the other day who was out of the USA for 10 years and came back to this country appalled at the state of the church. He said that the ‘true church’ is alive and well. It is broken over it’s sin and seeking repentence daily. It is just that the church is not the buildings we see all over the place in this country. The ‘church’ are the true believers out there.

    The only thing that keeps me from really feeling desparately lonely over all of this are the people I have met on blogs who have witnessed what I have witnessed and know something is very wrong with Christendom in America. I really do fear for people who are making idols of mere men whether it be Phillips, Calvin or Warren. And making idols of their buildings, their ‘works’ and legalism.

    Natasha,

    I pray this whole episode will draw you closer to the REAL Savior, Christ Jesus. Not the false one mere men have tried to make you believe in. His yoke is easy and His burden light…not like the legalism that has been put on you and your family. Hold your head up, girl. You are a child of a King. And pray for joy!

  66. Morgan Farmer Says:

    Lin IS right….most of christendom is affected in one way or another.

    However…it seems that Presbyterianism has been undergone this radical transformation and has emerged on the other side of insanity. Dominion theology, theonomy, Gary North, Rousas (late) Rushdoony, League of the South, kinism (love of ones own kind), hyper patriarch movement. The Presbyterian church itself is comprised of three groups, The PCUSA, PCA and OPC, then there are the ‘splinter’ groups that preach the radical ‘confederate presbyterian message’ then of all things..there is Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul promulgated by Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in LA that is affecting PCA & OPC churches nationwide.

    We can be thankful that we serve our risen king Jesus instead of the nonsense!

  67. Lucy Says:

    Respectfully, Jen, is it possible that some of your aggression towards Doug Phillips is motivated by past guilt? Perhaps having your sins under a microscope for so long is what compels you to closely pursue flaws in others. I can imagine it would have been tiresome, but I’m not sure I’m seeing the good in what you’re trying to do here.

  68. Lin Says:

    “Perhaps having your sins under a microscope for so long is what compels you to closely pursue flaws in others”

    Flaws? You call false teaching a ‘flaw’?

  69. Lucy Says:

    If you mean to say that the word “flaw” isn’t strong enough to describe the situation, you may be right. I have followed this story rather closely, which is to say I’ve read what’s been posted on this blog. However, I have no doubt that I don’t know the full circumstances of the story. Only the people involved in the situation can lay that claim, and only God truly knows the hearts of Doug Phillips and the Epsteins… but that wasn’t the point of my previous comment.

    My point was to draw attention to some rather disturbing trends I’m seeing here by the Epsteins (and even by some of the commenters). One of which, is the tactic of diverting blame by finding a greater problem with someone else. It seems to be a well established pattern in this story, and I wondered if Jen had ever considered the possibility that some of her motivations may need to be examined. I don’t know everything that went on at BCA, but I do see what’s being posted here now, and I believe my question to Jen was fair.

    Jen, I had no intention to start WWIII by posting here. I just thought some healthy questions might be in order, but I have no interest in getting involved in an online war about Doug Phillips. I’m not even sure he’s the real issue here.
    If you would rather discuss this over a private email account (or even, not at all), then I would fully understand.

  70. Jen Says:

    Lucy, your question was perfectly fair and I would be glad to answer it. First, though, let me address this:

    “I’m not even sure [Doug Phillips is] the real issue here.”

    Well, I certainly hope so. That is the whole point of having a website dedicated to exposing him.

    Lucy, I do not believe in sinless perfectionism, but I also don’t believe in copping to false accusations, which is exactly what Doug Phillips is asking me to do. That would be lying and I won’t do it.

    I do believe that we are no longer slaves to sin, but we are to be slaves of righteousness and with the Holy Spirit’s help, I purpose before God not to sin. That does not mean that I never sin. I do. But it also doesn’t mean that I agree with Doug’s theology that says we HAVE to sin every 10 minutes or so. That is such a defeatist attitude that I think I would live in a constant state of depression if I believed that.

    Having said that, I know that I have already admitted to, and apologized for, gossiping about Doug to Kathleen. That was wrong on my part.

    I will go ahead and also make a public confession for saying “Shame on you” to Doug in the letter I wrote him. I should not have said that to my elder, and I would like to ask Doug’s forgiveness for that statement. (I have no way of contacting him personally right now, so I will ask his forgiveness in this public way. I know he will see this.)

    Other than that, Lucy, what “guilt” do you think I have? Do you think that I am under constant condemnation for sins I committed many years ago, before I became a Christian? Christ settled that at the cross and I’m not going to allow anyone to put that burden back on me. I am cleansed of the sins of that previous life.

    I am quite perplexed as to what else you could be asking. If you could be more specific, I would appreciate it. By going public with my story, that also means that I have to be willing to be under the microscope as well.

    As far as my aggressiveness toward Doug or diverting blame from myself by finding a greater problem with someone else, I would say that I must not have made it clear what my purpose is here, so let me restate it.

    If this was just a situation that had happened only to me and my family, I would gladly just be defrauded and forgive and forget and go on with my life. But God was gracious when He brought all kinds of people into my life, without my ever pursuing any of them, who all had similar stories to tell about Doug Phillips abusing and threatening them. I see the same pattern happening over and over and over again. But Doug also has a way of silencing people and causing them to be afraid to expose him. If you just take a look online at how I was personally attacked for telling my story (much of which was personally orchestrated by Doug himself), you will see why most people are still scared to tell their story.

    But there is a pattern of abuse here and I may be the only one who can stop it. Doug Phillips is a relatively young man, 41 years old. That means that he has many years left in his ministry. Each year, I see more and more abuse. What damage will he leave in his wake in the next 10 years? The next 20 years? Will God hold me responsible for not warning others if people continue to be hurt because I was silent? Will God hold others accountable for not speaking out either? I think so.

    So, Lucy, this website is here to warn Christians who know about Doug Phillips that he is a hypocrite and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Yes, he has lots of good and necessary teachings, but there is much lacking when he runs over fellow believers to get to the top. He needs to be stopped.

    Telling the truth about his abuse and tyranny and my unbiblical excommunication is not diverting blame; it is placing the blame squarely where it belongs – at Doug Phillips’ feet.

    Lucy, I want you to understand, and I will publicly state this, that I still LOVE Doug Phillips. God has put him on my heart, not for revenge, but because I think he could accomplish even much greater things for the kingdom of God if he would only LOVE others. I pray for him every day and I am doing this because I care about Doug, Beall, and all those who might be hurt by them.

  71. Lynn Says:

    Jen, Lucy brings up a good point in that those of us reading your blog were not there, and that we have only gotten this from your persepctive. I would like to address one thing we have seen first hand.

    Doug Phillips doesn’t want to say anything, and other people are saying things for him, either at his direction, or else totally independent, or else a combination of the first two.

    Some have explained that this leaves Doug lots of room for something that is called “plausible deniability.” Perhaps some think he isn’t answering because he simply can’t answer for what he’s done. Some might say that he’s taking the “high road.” I don’t buy that last one. What you have brought up in documents, and your story, should be answered.

    But there is one crucial thing that those of us who have been following this have seen first hand, and that is the gross breach of pastoral confidentiality.

    Lucy, we saw that breach of confidentiality happening before our very eyes as this story unfolded on the internet. It is one thing for Jen to share what happened to her in her life. It is another thing for a pastor of a church to take these things to the whole church (NOT part of the discipline issue), share them with the whole church, and have people who are sympathetic to the church and to Vision Forum broadcast them over the internet. Doug Phillips was the first to breach these things shared in counseling, when he read the excommunication to the church.

    There ARE some things we saw first hand, the breach of pastoral confidentiality, in sharing things that had no part of the church discipline, things long repented of, being one of them.

    I’ve seen this first hand, anyway, and am disgusted with it.

  72. Jen Says:

    Actually, Lynn, Doug DID tell his side of the story. I’m sure you have already read it here and I responded, point by point, in a very lengthy post here. I realize that Doug’s name is not on the BCA document, but I can guarantee you that I know Doug well enough to know that Doug was the one who wrote that statement, NOT Bob Sarratt.

  73. Lucy Says:

    Apparently, I’m the one who hasn’t been clear, Jen, because your response indicates you believed me to be saying some things other than what I meant to convey. My apologies for the confusion. I’ll try again.

    When I said that Doug Phillips may not be the real issue, it was for two reasons: to keep from getting into a character debate over a man I’ve never met, but more importantly, to catalyze a shift in your focus from the behavior of others to one of scriptural self examination, because I believe it could be highly productive and useful for you.

    I’m well aware that Doug is the primary subject matter of your blog… That’s pretty evident. What I meant was that after reading your letters, articles, and various posts about him, there seem to be some underlying issues driving you – above and beyond the ways you believe he has offended you and others. Perhaps they are issues that have nothing to do with him at all. This was the basis for my original question.

    I should reiterate here that having never met anyone involved in this scenario, I can only discuss what’s been disclosed in written form by both Doug and yourself, how it comes across to others, and how it holds up in light of my understanding of scripture. And while I do see your point with regard to some of Doug’s methods and beliefs, I find many of your behaviors and attitudes to be equally incorrect – some of which you have publicly addressed, some you have not, all of which are nothing more than my opinion on the matter. 🙂

    With regard to Doug, I can’t fully address his finer points of theology when he’s not here to clarify or to defend himself. I am very familiar with your perception of him, but I also know that he disputes much of what you say he believes. You may call him a liar, and he may call you a liar, but the “he said/she said” circus doesn’t really get you anywhere. Let me be clear, I don’t believe for one second that he is guiltless in this matter, but I question the wisdom in spending this much time and energy on “exposing” him. I don’t believe that is the best way to show the love you claim to have for him.

    If you believe this is something you will be held accountable for on judgment day, there would be little use in attempting to argue you out of that. Because I believe that (in some things) God deals with all of us differently, I have to allow for you to be “convinced in your own mind” that what you’re doing is right. However, I feel compelled to warn you that many well-intentioned people over time have been convinced of a great many things… Many of them good, many of them relatively benign, and some of them pure evil.

    All of this is to say that I hope you’re aware of the great responsibility you have to take scripture as a whole. Search it for its overall message, know the person of Jesus Christ, and be diligent in regularly comparing your conduct to His.

  74. Jen Says:

    Since I believe you to be sincere, Lucy, I will seriously consider what you have written – except that I’m still not understanding what you are really getting at. This is what you said: “There seem to be some underlying issues driving you – above and beyond the ways you believe he has offended you and others. Perhaps they are issues that have nothing to do with him at all.”

    Do you see something specific here? I searched my heart long and hard before I did this. I have other people holding me accountable in all this. I receive much godly counsel from other wise Christians who encouraged me in this direction. I have searched the whole counsel of God to see what should be done in these situations and I am told to expose evil, to mark the man who refuses to repent, to expose wolves in sheep’s clothing. I followed Matthew 18 several times. If there is some Scripture that you see me violating, I am willing to listen.

    So, Lucy, I am going to ask you two things: first, that you specifically spell out what underlying issues or sins you see in me; and second, that you show me the verses where I am sinning by what I am doing here. Does that sound fair?

  75. Lucy Says:

    Absolutely fair… and I appreciate your willingness to hear me out, along with your presumption of my sincerity.

    Please be patient, as I’ll need a little bit of time to gather my thoughts and scripture references. Since we’re doing this in a public forum, I want to be cautious about what I choose to address and how I choose to do it. You never know who’s reading this, and I certainly don’t want to be the source of unnecessary confusion. I simply believe that due to the seriousness of the situation, some important issues need to be raised, and I don’t see many of your commenters challenging you in good directions.

    You say you are under constant Godly counsel from others, and I have to believe you. You truly exemplify the heart of a Christian with your relentless efforts to join a church and stay close to a body of believers. But I’m concerned as to how this Godly counsel is being translated in your mind when I see various results of it. Perhaps I will say nothing that you haven’t heard before. This is likely, based on your training and background in the church — but the true message of the gospel is not something we need to hear only once. It is something we need to be reminded of over and over, lest we become more driven by our own interests than those of our creator.

    There are many hazards in having this type of conversation the blogosphere. I’m only working from half-information (with regard to you and Doug), so I hesitate to get into the particulars, for fear of getting a “you weren’t there” type of response. Having said that, however, I will do my best to address what is wise, and steer clear of speculation.

    Thank you for your patience. I will post again, soon.


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