“It’s a son’s task in life to spread the fame and the glory of his father in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ spread the fame and the glory of His Father in heaven.”
A friend recently asked me this seemingly odd question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” I had to laugh because I understood immediately what my friend was really asking me. Doesn’t everyone have a mother? Yes, and of course Doug Phillips has a mother. Why then does Doug so seldom ever speak of his mother, or even publicly acknowledge her?
Doug Phillips is known for his teachings about honor, a subject which he seems to take extremely seriously. It’s also a subject that he’s used to make tremendous profits from.
The subject of honor is much needed in both the world and the church today. In fact, before I sat under Doug’s teaching and preaching, I didn’t know much at all about honor and the 5th Commandment. It was a foreign concept to me. I learned a lot about honor from Doug Phillips’ teaching and from what I saw lived out in his life… at least with his father. My friend is well justified, though, in asking about Doug Phillips’ mother. Doug seldom ever mentions her, whereas he routinely “spread the fame and the glory of his father.”
There’s no question that our culture has lost interest in honoring parents, elders, and others that Scripture instructs us to honor. Doug Phillips is rightly challenging a culture of dishonor. However, sometimes in their enthusiasm to right a wrong, Christian leaders have a tendency to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. In other words, they become extremists. I believe that is the case with at least some of Doug’s teachings, and this includes what he teaches regarding honor. When does honor become adulation? When does honor place practically as much value on men as on God or His Word? When does honor cross the line into becoming idolatry?
Doug has set a good example for us in showing us how we should honor our military veterans, our fathers, our pastors and teachers, and others who have positively influenced our lives. But I had to cringe when Doug teamed up with his father, Howard Phillips, and the elder and younger Sprouls, for a conference on honoring parents last May. It was bad enough that Doug Phillips was obviously honoring a man who had just been recently defrocked by the RPCGA for ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny, tax fraud, breaking his ordination vows, and other serious things. Doug Phillips took a public stand with RC Sproul, Jr as a speaker when RC, Jr had just been severely disciplined by his presbytery. Rather than submitting to the RPCGA, Sproul publicly dishonored the Presbyterian elders that he vowed to submit to by publicly disparaging them.
I looked at my own excommunication by Doug Phillips and saw that he had required that ALL Christians not only treat me as a heathen and a publican, but never to even eat with me, as Doug would consider that a sin. Doug Phillips expected everyone to uphold what he tried to pawn off as a biblical excommunication. But did he follow that same biblical pattern when his own good friend, RC Sproul Jr, was justly disciplined and that he’s never repented of? At least RC, Jr. admitted to some of the accusations leveled against him. But he has not repented, and he is currently preaching in open rebellion to the presbytery that disciplined him. But Doug Phillips chose to honor a defrocked minister, and he insists that others honor him too.
Then Doug Phillips went on to speak about honoring his father. Anyone who knows the least little bit about Doug Phillips will agree that Doug obviously honors his father. No one can dispute that. And we can learn some things from his example. But has that sense of honor gone a little overboard? Does Doug Phillips go on and on and on in talking about his father to the point of making those around him uncomfortable? Has he elevated his father to a level that is above honor? Does it border on idolatry? When I compare his honor of his father to that of his mother, I certainly have to wonder.
Which brings me back to my friend’s question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” Well, of course he has a mother, but what my friend was really asking was if Doug Phillips preaches so much about the fifth commandment, and we see his constant and extreme honor of his father, did he forget the other half of the commandment? Why don’t we see Doug honor his mother?
If you look through Doug’s blog, for instance, you will see Doug write about his father over and over and over again. That’s good. But, now go look for his mother. If I remember correctly, Doug has only mentioned her three times. I may be off in my total, but not by much. Why the disparity?
From personal experience, I remember several occasions when Doug’s father would attend BCA. Although he had been several times previously, and everyone already knew who Howard Phillips was, Doug always made a point of introducing his father each time anyway. It was never a nice, simple introduction, but was usually an elaborate occasion, another opportunity for Doug to “honor” his father. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t seen how he “honored” his mother when she came to visit. I only remember her coming to visit once while I was there (she may have come on a Sunday when I was not in attendance; I am not saying that she only came just once.) But I do clearly remember the lack of any introduction of his mother that Sunday. That is how I remember Doug “honoring” his mother.
When I went on a tour with Doug Phillips once, and his mother was in attendance, I do not recall him paying her any special attention, and this is in stark contrast to the considerable attention that he never fails to give his father. Whenever we had the opportunity to observe Doug’s interaction with his parents it was always apparent that Doug’s treatment of his father was vastly different from that toward his mother.
Again, why? Does Doug’s mother not deserve as much honor as his father? Did she do something horrible to Doug growing up? Doesn’t the fifth commandment include both father and mother? I could speculate, but I’d rather not do that. However, something is terribly wrong and even hypocritical about the glaring disparity between the way Doug honors his father and the way he doesn’t honor his mother.
One thing is obvious though; if Doug Phillips were one to honor his mother, it’s unlikely that anyone would ever ask the question, “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?”