The Family Consequences of Ecclesiastical Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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129 Responses to “The Family Consequences of Ecclesiastical Abuse”

  1. Jen Says:

    Ann, when I asked one of the elders at Faith what sin he thought I should repent from, he could not give me an answer. I did not understand why he thought I should repent then, and he was at a loss again to answer me. I do not think it is right to apologize merely for the sake of peace in such a situation.

    Ann, I’ve had LOTS of friends throughout the years. That has never been a problem. I knew when I went public that I was risking losing some friendships and I did. I was well known in the homeschool community here and I had no need to get attention. LOL!

    Yes, the people I trust now I consider to be very godly and we always look to God and His Word for guidance. They hold my feet to the fire. Fools don’t do that.

    I see that Doug has a ministry to families. His overall vision of [parents] turning their hearts toward their children and children toward their [parents] is a very necessary message in this world of torn-apart families today. I believe that he could do much in furthering the kingdom of God in this area, BUT there are some major sin issues that need to be dealt with first. I do not agree with all his doctrine and theology, but that is not my main point here. Even if we differ in doctrine, I think he has a very needed message to share. I just don’t think such a hypocrite should be preaching that vision.

  2. Ann Says:

    Esther,
    Have you read all of this?
    http://mrsbinoculars.com/article01.html

    If you haven’t, I would suggest you do.

    Ann

  3. K. Says:

    “I just don’t think such a hypocrite should be preaching that vision.”

    And you should?

  4. Esther Says:

    “I just don’t think such a hypocrite should be preaching that vision.”

    And you should?”

    K, have you seen the Mrs. Binoculars and Fed up websites? These sites are condoned by a pastor. That should concern you if you are under any of his teaching.

  5. Jen Says:

    K., am I preaching that vision? I’m confused about why you would ask such a question.

  6. Vik Says:

    K said:
    “Also, how do we know for sure that DP really told the whole church or if Jen actually told people everything going on? I am sorry since it is her word against DP … ”

    Well, how do we know for sure that you’re not a man? Maybe you’re Doug Phillips himself! Or maybe you’re the head of your local Wicca chapter. See what I mean? Your word against ours… but nobody is going to sit around here speculating who you are. It’s fine if you want to disagree with the way the Epsteins handle their business. Fine, I can live with that. But quit implying that they *might* be liars. Nobody here has dreamed of doing that to you.

  7. Ann Says:

    Esther wrote: Do you think it is appropriate for a pastor to reveal private, confidential information from counseling to friends to post on blogs?

    Esther or Jen, I’m not sure who revealed what to whom, but Jen has all this information posted on her website for all to see, under her “Official Documentation.” It’s all in her letters. I imagine these were all up before those other websites popped up, so I would guess they found all that info on this website.

    Also from reading these correspondences, I see that the leadership is protecting the Epstein’s with not exposing the actual comments made by them, the nitty gritty specifics of whatever their sinful comments and actions were. They are mentioning them in a minimal way. And BCA’s letters appear appropriate to me.

    I am Reformed Baptist, and from reading all this documentation, it seems very similar to disclipline procedures carried out at Reformed Baptist fellowship.

    You wrote in your apology letter of 5/19/05:
    “Therefore, to summarize, I would like to say I am sorry for responding when I should have kept quiet. I am sorry for saying hurtful things about others, especially the leadership. I am sorry for responding in a less than gracious manner. I was wrong to fight back in the manner in which I did, even though my intentions were to help others. Will you each forgive me?
    I am still your sister in Christ.
    Jennifer”

    You sound sorry, but now look at what you’re doing. The same thing you apologized for at the end of this letter, so were you really sorry??

    Ann

  8. Bryan Says:

    Ann:

    You just don’t seem to get it.

    There are no “nitty gritty specifics” if you thoroughly read all of the many postings here. That is what Jen was trying to find out so she could repent!

    You state that this blog was here first and so you “imagine” that’s how the other websites got the info. Where is your proof of this?

    I have been a DP/VF supporter for many years, but the documentation of his lack of pastoral love for the Epsteins, his pride, and his fraudulent Allosaur documentary are unacceptable Christian behavior. He needs to repent.

  9. Lynn Says:

    Ann:
    “It’s all in her letters. I imagine these were all up before those other websites popped up, so I would guess they found all that info on this website.”

    Wrong again. The official documentation was written by Phillips and was disseminated to all of BCA, including sins long repented of, which *was* privileged information, by Phillips first. And Phillips had no permission to do such a thing. This was not something Jen was excommunicated for.

    To keep saying “you don’t know” who revealed the preconversion sin first is to keep sticking your head in the sand whenever this is brought up, apparently, so you don’t have to consider the seriousness of such a breach of trust, and possibly of the state laws of Texas (I’m not a lawyer, so just saying how it looks to me).

  10. Lucy Says:

    Lynn – I’m a little confused about your continued reference to the laws Texas. I’m assuming you’re saying that DP is in violation of them and should be in jail, or something. But, it just sounds a little strange to me, because to most here, Texas is not the most important issue.

    “The nations are as a drop in the bucket….”

  11. Lucy Says:

    I meant to say the laws “OF” Texas… sorry about the typo.

  12. Cynthia Gee Says:

    K. wrote, “I am EXTREMELY sad that the letter was sent . . . but I am praying that those homeschool leaders will be bereans themselves. . . . I honestly do feel like this is to ruin a man and his family . . . I have been hurt myself (not by DP and VF!)”

    K, what is worse, to “ruin a man and his family” or to allow homeschoolers to keep on buying revisionist, white supremicist approved materials from a man who lines his pockets with money from such curriculum, curriculum wherein he lionizes Dabney, condemns the entire abolitionist movement as evil, and promotes the Constituion Party “vision” in place of the vision of Jesus Christ?
    Phillips and his family can pick themselves up and start over again, but what of the parents who are emptying their pockets to fill their children’s heads with the neoConfederate drek that Phillips is peddling?

  13. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Oh, and here’s something else I found this morning. On this blogsite, the conversation started with books in general, but soon drifted to talk about books which promote racial pride:

    “Wouldn’t it be fascinating to obtain a copy of the Citadel’s entrance examinations of that time?
    This is a point that many miss about the organic Aristocracies – they were inherently meritocratic in nature, and, of course, they took RACE for granted – no exceptions, no excuses.
    The generation before this – until the 1890’s – that really ran the show, had examinations for the Ivy schools that dealt with the issues of Leadership in a modern society.
    There is hope for us, if we take responsibility, while we can.
    The Robinson Home School Curriculum is the best deal in town; it even includes the 1911 Britannica on cd’s, if memory serves (as TIFF files, but even so…)
    VisionForum.com also has some good ideas in this area.
    Peter Shank notes that we LET this happen to us; it is OUR power that our RACIAL enemies use against us, and we can only get that power back if we accept and exercise responsibility to rebuild our society pretty much from the ground up…..”

  14. Cynthia Gee Says:

    “The official documentation was written by Phillips and was disseminated to all of BCA, including sins long repented of, which *was* privileged information, by Phillips first. And Phillips had no permission to do such a thing. This was not something Jen was excommunicated for.”

    Now, forgive me if this point has already been made (I haven’t read all of the postings) but it looks as though the Epsteins could have sued Phillips for slander long ago, and sued his former interns for libel.

  15. Lynn Says:

    Lucy:
    “I’m assuming you’re saying that DP is in violation of them and should be in jail”

    You’re assuming wrong, but I’m not going to bother elaborating which part of that is flat out wrong, and which part needs a little tweaking.

    Here is the link on Texas law:

    http://www.bwwlaw.com/kycooc/news/qna.htm

    “Q: As the pastor of my church, I recently ministered to a young woman who is a member of the church and whose husband has been abusing her, both physically and verbally. The young woman filed charges against her husband with the local police department and now the police have contacted me to ask questions regarding the abuse and the statements made to me by the young woman. What should I do.?

    A: The church’s ministerial staff who provide individual ministering must understand that a privilege of confidentiality attaches to all communications between the ministerial staff member and the persons seeking spiritual advice. The privilege actually “belongs to” the person receiving counseling and that person has the right to prevent the information from being disclosed. In this case, the young woman owns the privilege and can prevent you from disclosing any of the communications to any third party. This privilege applies even when you are questioned by the police or when you are subpoenaed to testify in a court matter. You cannot disclose any of the communications between you and the young woman unless you obtain her consent to do so. To protect yourself, you should obtain the young woman’s consent in writing before disclosing any information.”

    Now, read the disciplinary document, read to BCA, which told them, in 2005, of privileged information about Jen’s preconversion sin. Also note prior to that breach of confidence, Jen had written a letter of repentance to Mark, which Doug had read. Also note Mark’s testimony that he asked Doug to not read that part to the congregation.

    Finally compare what Doug did in revealing repented of preconversion sin to the BCA congregation to what is said on that link about clergy privilege.

    I don’t know why you say “the nations are as a drop in the bucket” with respect to this. There are verses about obeying civil authorities which pertain to this matter much more than that quote. That quote you gave is true from God’s perspective, but this same God who said that to the prophet also says this, which is much more to the point:

    Romans:
    “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

    Titus:
    “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey,”

    I Peter:
    “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.”

  16. K. Says:

    “K, what is worse, to “ruin a man and his family” or to allow homeschoolers to keep on buying revisionist, white supremicist approved materials from a man who lines his pockets with money from such curriculum, curriculum wherein he lionizes Dabney, condemns the entire abolitionist movement as evil, and promotes the Constituion Party “vision” in place of the vision of Jesus Christ?
    Phillips and his family can pick themselves up and start over again, but what of the parents who are emptying their pockets to fill their children’s heads with the neoConfederate drek that Phillips is peddling?”

    1. I don’t see these books that way – I will need to relook at the books I have – but I just don’t see it. I know I have NEVER filled my children’s heads with neoconfederate drek (what is that, anyway?)

    2. We do live in America and people can choose what to spend their money on, how to live their lives – and look you are able to write what you want on this blog because of your freedom of speech.

    3. I think this is more than a warning it is the “g” word – yes, folks gossip . . .

    4. I think I really better “bow out” gracefully – obviously people do not care to hear the opinions of those who say this is wrong . . . all they want to hear is “go, go, go!” and I cannot say that at all. I repeat this is a very sad day.

  17. Lucy Says:

    No, I get that… I wasn’t trying to belittle the commands to obey governing authorities. I just started noticing a pattern in your comments stressing the laws of Texas, and it seemed a bit peculiar to me, because if Doug has actually done everything you’re accusing him of, the state of Texas is the least of his concerns.

  18. Lynn Says:

    I emailed a lawyer who used to practice law in Texas, and now he is practicing law in another state. He is unfamiliar with the Epsteins, but he told me regarding the confidentiality issue, it would largely depend on who took the information public first. IOW — prior to 2005, had the Epsteins made Jen’s preconversion sin public? Just to be thorough, Jen (I know what the answer is), prior to that disciplinary document being read, had you or Mark gone public with this information?

  19. Lynn Says:

    Lucy, I don’t understand your last comment to me.

  20. Lucy Says:

    I didn’t follow what you were trying to say with continuing to mention the laws of the state of Texas. I didn’t realize you were doing it because of the commands in Romans, Titus and I Peter.

  21. Cynthia Gee Says:

    K, it’s funny how everything that you disagree with — all the inconvenient facts that people bring up about Philips — are gossip. Methinks you are a little bit biased. LOOK at the links I provided.
    You say that “obviously people do not care to hear the opinions of those who say this is wrong”; I invite you to back up those opinions with facts, as I have done.
    Phillips endorses Dabney, and he endorses Otto Scott; White supremicist organizations endorse VisionForum, BASED on VisionForum’s racist leanings, AND they heartily endorse the Constitution Party, which Phillips, the Friedrichs, and most of the other hyper-patriarchs all promote..
    These are NOT my opinions, “K”, they are cold, hard, proven facts, which I have documented with links here time and time again.
    WAKE UP AND SMELL THE “KOFFEE”.

  22. K. Says:

    “KOFFEE” – Excuse me I don’t get it

  23. Lucy Says:

    I thought endoresments from white supremacists didn’t count for anything….

  24. K. Says:

    Ann:

    Any word yet on PCA or LBW?

  25. Cynthia Gee Says:

    Lucy wrote, “I thought endoresments from white supremacists didn’t count for anything….”

    Lucy, it depends on “why” they’re endorsing someone.
    Let’s look at it another way:
    In our town, we have a strip joint. The strippers, unfortunately, are local girls. Suppose one of them attended a community potluck and had a piece of my sweet potato pie, and liked it.
    Now, if that stripper complimented me on my sweet potato pie, and asked me for the recipe, it wouldn’t mean a thing. But if she complimented me on my wardrobe, and wanted to borrow my clothes to use in her act, and to loan to the other strippers to use in their acts, that would be something else entirely.

  26. Jen Says:

    Here is the timeline for the public release of my sins of 18 years ago.

    Mark asked me never to speak about it to anyone, so I did not.

    Mark told Doug in 2001.

    The next time I heard about it was when Doug read it to me in the disciplinary action in January 2005 BEFORE church, at which time Mark pleaded with him not to tell it to the whole church, since Doug himself had assured Mark that I had fully repented 17 years ago now and had given Mark reassurances of my true and full repentance.

    Doug refused Mark’s request and told it to the church — just the big picture, no details.

    (I just went over to the former interns’ websites to get the links to show that they were the ones who first started talking about the details but, lo and behold, that post isn’t there any longer! And they also posted comments on Bad’s blog, which isn’t there either. But I shall go on with my timeline.)

    When our story came out online, it was necessary to include the documentation which included Doug revealing my past sins to the whole church. However, at no time did I ever tell any details, either online or to anyone else. But those details started appearing on Bad’s blog and the interns’ blog. Only Doug knew those details. And those interns work for Doug. One of those interns lives with Doug 24/7 and they apparently share all sorts of confidential information. That intern took it upon himself (actually, my guess is that Doug encouraged him) to share details, however inaccurate they were, with the whole world of sins from which I had long ago repented.

    So, Ann, Mark told Doug who told his former intern (isn’t that how you teach your children to honor others?) who told the whole world my sins.

  27. Mark Epstein Says:

    Jennifer’s relation of the time line in question (revelation of her pre-conversion sins) is accurate, however, there is one caveat: I think I told Bob Welch about Jennifer’s pre-conversion sins in 2001 as well. Yet, there are some additional salient facts.

    First, in a letter to the BCA leadership and a follow-on letter to the congregation, it was made perfectly clear that we knew Doug Phillips had violated civil law by having Jennifer’s pre-conversion sins read before the church. The conduct was tortious and Phillips knew it. However, what we did not know then is that his conduct transgressed more than just the everyday civil law that applies to everyone. Phillips had and has a higher degree of responsibility to the citizenry of Texas as a “pastor,” whether that be a self-proclaimed, unordained elder or a legitimate man of God.

    Secondly, not only was I the one who told Phillips about Jennifer’s pre-conversion sins, I am the one who begged him (“beseeched” was the actual word I used in the meeting) not to do the horrible thing he was planning. Phillips did it anyway. Phillips was the sole elder at this point, Phillips was the “leadership,” he made the decision, and his underling Sarratt read the document in church.

    Lastly, it defies basic common sense for anyone to give Phillips a “pass” on this issue. However, those who have given Phillips a “pass” only prove that idolatry is alive and well in Christendom. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth, and this is what forms the basis of Christian “unity.” Phillips’ breaking of pastoral confidentiality violates man’s lower law, let alone God’s higher standards of biblical conduct for elders.

  28. Lynn Says:

    Jen, I believe you about the internet timeline, because I read it at the time, and just want to emphasize that the FIRST breach occurred when Doug read that disciplinary document to the whole church.

    What a breach of trust! I am sure glad you are warning people about Doug Phillips, Jen, for this issue, and also for what happened to Joe Taylor.

    Yes, I see a pattern!

  29. Robin Says:

    I am new to this forum but not new to the topic at hand having experienced church abuse in non denominational churches and parachurch ministries. It is very rampant in many churches. What I have learned is that in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Women in particular (esp if single) should NEVER expect God to speak to them ONLY through their pastor or husband. A good question to ask yourself is ” if I was being treated like that in the workplace would this be tolerated?” Never throw out critical thinking. Document what is happening,be prepared to confront but if resistance is met I would leave because there is proably a pattern of this,otherwise be prepared to fight and get legal counsel. Try factnet.org

  30. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    This is a bit off topic, but it does pertain somewhat to matters legal…

    1. For those people who attend(ed) BCA, did it not give you pause that the pastor was an attorney? (Oh, excuse me. Let me correctly use the loaded language BCA newspeak: a “shepherd”.) My husband and I ponder this all the time. I suppose that this could allow him to hide behind the guise of layity as an elder.

    2. How does Doug figure into the chain of command at BCA? I know when they were starting up and he was attending Grace OPC that both he and Beall insisted that their group (just coincidently held on Sunday mornings) was not a church intitially but functioned to provide fellowship for the home schooling families that they served. At that time, prior to becoming a formal church, Doug did govern it. When they did go formal, was BCA established with a formal senior pastor?

    3. If there is one (or if there have been many since the circa ’99 – 2000 inception), who chose him and where did he train? What was his relationship to Doug and the other founding members? Is there a structure detailing chain of command within BCA?

    4. Has anyone seen a command structure diagram (or could anyone produce one) describing Doug’s role(s) and/or the relationships between VF, BCA, home schooling associations, the integrated church group, etc.? It seems almost like (in my cursory understanding of the relationships and terms) a feduciary relationship — like these peripheral are like holding companies. Are there clear cut distinctions between them, or are they as enmeshed as they appear to be to me?

  31. David M Zuniga Says:

    Mark,

    This is the first I have heard of this aspect of Doug Phillips’ actions. I know all stories have two sides, but this appears to be an unconscionable, legally actionable breach of elder trust.

    Cindy,

    Ironically, you are hewing to the silly “clergy-laity” distinction that is at the heart of this very matter, and of so much else that is wrong in the body of Christ today.

    God gives gifts to men and women in the body; in the local church for purposes of assembled worship, He gifts some men with teaching ability and calling; others, with oversight responsibility and capacity, if those men are qualified as called out in I Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

    There is nothing in the Scriptures transforming such gifting into a static, eternal, or paid “office”; that ‘clergification’ was the doing of men, for their own purposes. It is a false distinction; many men in any given church may be called, gifted, and apt to teach.

    As to Doug Phillips being an attorney, that has nothing to do with it, in my view. Paul was a prosecutor (and a persecutor of Christians in his “Saul” days). Peter was a fisherman — and we know what THOSE guys are like!

    And “where did he receive his training?” is also a silly requirement; seminaries are the devil’s playground as much as anything. The Scriptural model for ‘training’ to exercise one’s gifts is IN THE CHURCH, in real life, under the tutelage of men who are “beyond reproach”.

    As a regular visitor to BCA for two years, if these charges are true then I admit that Doug is definitely NOT beyond reproach, regardless how skilled an orator he may be. But there are definitely men at BCA who are (at least as far as I can see in public) beyond reproach. At least a handful of them; perhaps more.

    In short, BCA is NOT a cult, however many irate folks may make that charge online.

    As for guilt by association (i.e., some White Supremacist bigots like to buy things from Vision Forum? Some White Supremacists are also guilty of ecclesiastical heavy0handedness?) I think Cynthia Gee’s “stripper borrowing my clothes” analogy is ludicrous.

  32. David M Zuniga Says:

    Jen,

    Your family and mine are both leery of “joining a church again”, but as I’ve said before: we are NOT “joining a church” because if we are followers of Christ, we ARE the Church!

    Please read Frank Viola’s book, “Who is Your Covering?”; just go to http://www.ptmin.org under “books” and see the blurb:

    “Tens of thousands of believers have been damaged by authoritarian leadership structures. Very often, these structures have been justified by an imprisoning teaching known as covering. In this volume, Frank takes dead aim at this spurious teaching. In addition, he answers every conceivable question that is raised about how leadership, authority, and accountability functioned in the early church.”

    As I have found with every one of Frank Viola’s books, this one is excellent. Calvinians and Pentecostals may be the worst offenders, but Main Street Baptist can do a pretty good number on you as well! If one uses the simple model of the Church found in the NT, then our American evangelical scene is one big crime scene!

    Again let me highly recommend Viola’s book “Pagan Christianity: The Origins of our Modern Church practices”. One finishes that book and just shakes his head at all the man-made — indeed Pagan! — traditions we have followed all our lives “in church”. Author Viola helps us to step back to the original church, in all its simplicity, and see a model that we might prayerfully follow.

    No local body of believers will ever be perfect, for men are not angels. But it’s amazing to see how totally the American evangelical scene has been co-opted by man-made, mostly Pagan, practices…all in the Name of Christ.

    If we are Christ’s and He is ours, then we ARE His Church; we can neither “join” it nor “drop our membership”.

    We must not abide in our sin or cover it up; instead, we must confess our sins one to another. When need be, we must make the obstinate one (whether ‘clergy’ or ‘laity’) come clean in confession, and then restore such a one as we would like to be restored to the whole Church, rather than be treated by the whole Church as an heathen and unbeliever.

    From my layman’s perspective (little joke there), neither party in the Phillips-Epstein debacle has sufficiently confessed and repented, but the Epsteins have come closer to the mark.

    Even if Doug never repents or asks forgiveness for his very public sins — and while I don’t agree with every charge made hereon — I do believe this blog has edified the Church, and for the most part has been the sort of hard soul-searching and meaningful “sharpening iron” that we are called to, as members of Christ’s one Church.

  33. David M Zuniga Says:

    As for Boerne Christian Assembly, my family had not yet begun to visit the Sunday meetings of that local body, when the Epstein expulsion took place. But I can honestly say that in its Sunday meeting and fellowship and in what we have experienced of its body-life, BCA more closely models the “one another” ministry that Viola describes, than any other local church we’ve fellowshipped with over the past 35 years.

    To put it another way: those who paint BCA as a “cult” based on the sins of the leadership in the Epstein debacle, paint with far too broad a brush: sinfully implicating their brethren; many of whom, if they took part in “voting out the Epsteins”, did so under false pretenses.

    Charity and honesty are two-way streets.

  34. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    David Z,

    Thanks for the lecture. Guess I missed that one in seminary and got that essay question wrong. Gee, I do remember doing exegesis of those passages in Corinthians though…

    Can you address my questions directy? Point #1 was just an honest question that I both my husband and I have pondered many times. What about the others? I have pondered them as well – since Doug did tell me about it before it was the formal ministry. And it did become a topic of conversation among the families at Grace OPC when people left our fellowship to attend what is now BCA. This is my first opportunity to talk about it with someone who actually attended there because the whole thing has been confusing to me and the members of my former congregation.

  35. David M Zuniga Says:

    Cindy,

    No, dear, I cannot address your questions directly because they are silly.

    Did I miss the lectures on “layity” [sic], “chain of command”, “formal senior pastor”, “seminary”, and “command structure” in New Testament Studies? 🙂

  36. David M Zuniga Says:

    Further, my family was not involved with Boerne Christian Assembly during the period in question, nor have we ever heard anything about those days, or the politics of “leadership” in that local body.

    Since we live 180 miles away and have only attended infrequently as we are able (about once a month on average), I have gotten to know a few men in that local body better than the rest, especially “Mo” Gill, Richard Short, Rob Rugloski, and David Ringer. These are fine Christian brothers displaying not ONE of the alleged characteristics of “cult members” or brainwashed dupes.

    As I said, I’m not trying to cover for ecclesiastical malpractice or sin, but I think it’s equally sinful to paint an entire local body of believers as illegitimate Christians because the “command structure” and “formal senior pastor” situation does not follow the modern corporate-legal norm, which is itself an unbiblical debacle.

  37. Corrie Says:

    “Secondly, not only was I the one who told Phillips about Jennifer’s pre-conversion sins, I am the one who begged him (”beseeched” was the actual word I used in the meeting) not to do the horrible thing he was planning. Phillips did it anyway. Phillips was the sole elder at this point, Phillips was the “leadership,” he made the decision, and his underling Sarratt read the document in church”

    Mark,

    To me, this IS the whole point. I don’t know why some do not get it? Or maybe they get it and they are just ignoring it?
    What do Jen’s preconversion sins have to do with the charges (alleged) against her? NOTHING, imho. It is just disgusting. It really is. To think that men are higher than God? That is just what they think when they go fishing for sins long ago forgiven and forgotten by God.

    If she was guilty of “railings” and “lying”, then why not just highlight those specific sins? It would seem, to a GENUINE independent investigator, that those preconversion sins were used to cement the alleged accusations and inflame those in the congregation to vote. Since we all know how important it is for a woman to be pure and how a woman’s purity is of the utmost importance (not saying it is not but it seems to be held up as most important for a woman but is almost non-existent in the literature aimed at young men), we could see how this info could be used to taint the objective reasonings of the listeners. Purity and virginity in a woman is almost an idol to some. It is as if Jen committed the unforgiveable sin for a woman and she would now have to do penance for the rest of her days. She was ruined and defiled. “Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” Why else would this be used against her and be made public even AFTER a husband BEGGED his church leader not to make it public. Who in the world can refuse a husband who pleads like this? I cannot even imagine. Where is the mercy and compassion? I guess patriarchy only applies if certain people think it applies? Mark’s patriarchy was stripped from him and the real patriarchs were going to do what they had to do.

    I am really getting into the story about Anne Hutchinson. I haven’t gotten to the part yet where it outlines her alleged heresy but it seems that they couldn’t get her on any other charge so they had to go with that one.

    When she was brought before the court (made up of church leaders) she politely kept on asking what she was being charged with. No charges of “heresy” were made. In fact, that is NOT why her accusers dragged her into court. Each time her question was evaded. It seems there were many important and learned men who disagreed with the theological practices of those who were in power. Those men were all censored, had their arms taken away from them, had their right to vote taken away from them and then banished. But, a woman had no voice, she had no right to counsel (a lawyer) nor could her own husband testify on her behalf. Men were the only ones who could have an attorney present or have their wife testify on their behalf. Also, they couldn’t take anything away from her because there was NOTHING to take away from her. She was invisible in the eyes of the law, therefore, they were in a conundrum as to how to go after her.

    So far, I have read through the time where she first appeared in court. Just the trip alone to get there was something to read. She was pregnant with her 16th child at the time. She was still nursing her baby of 19 months. All of the men who opposed the powers that be have been censored and banished or were in the process of being censored/banished and all of their rights as citizens taken from them for simply disagreeing with the church leaders! She gave some very good answers to her accuser. All she would do is turn it back on him. What was she being accused of? He couldn’t answer that. What was the specific sin she has committed and what was the portion of scripture he was basing it on? More evasion. She ended up fainting during the first trial from the combination of a grueling trip in frigid weather and having to stand while her accuser sat. (Chivalry at its finest, let me tell you!)

    I see some amazing parallels. There are some really good quotes from Anne in her answers to her accuser. I will try and quote them.

    What I am also seeing is that we have already seen how trying to set up a theocracy failed and failed miserably. Why do we think that is the answer? People were forced to attend church or they couldn’t vote or bear arms? Men who stood up to the leaders were banished. The one good thing is that Anne and many other ministers who were banished ended up establishing some very successful colonies.

    It was all politics and a lot of hypocrisy. Here the same people were doing to others what they hated. They left Europe for the very same thing.

    Anne was trained by her Cambridge educated father. He was also tried of “heresy” for going against the Church of England. He was a minister. He was sentenced to house arrest and refused the right to provide for his own family. He wrote a little pamphlet that he used to train his children with. In it, he outlined how the church leader called him an “ass and an idiot”. He also used the Bible and the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

    What we see is history repeating itself and we obviously haven’t learned anything from it.

  38. Corrie Says:

    “I didn’t follow what you were trying to say with continuing to mention the laws of the state of Texas. I didn’t realize you were doing it because of the commands in Romans, Titus and I Peter.”

    Lucy,

    How about just plain being ethical in regards to one’s field of practice? There are standards for lawyers, Lucy. You would think it would translate into practice in one’s own private dealings, especially when those standards do not violate the Bible but actually agree with the Bible.

  39. David M Zuniga Says:

    Corrie my child,

    The problem was that Anne Hutchinson’s ‘minister’ father was himself a product of Calvinism — as were the early American colonies of New England (those of New Spain were Roman Catholic in faith and praxis).

    Notice that Anne’s father used “the Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”? That is a Calvinian booklet compared with Thielemann vanBraght’s “Martyrs’ Mirror”. Because the political majority in New England (the formative power in the majority of the early American colonies) was Calvinian in outlook, we became a palpably Calvinian commonwealth. As before in Europe, one of the key watersheds of human history was (again) hidden from public view for a proper airing. When speaking of the heoroes of the faith, too many were ready to point to Foxe’s martyrs — the Calvinian ones who died at the hands of Papist inquisitors — and forget the twelve centuries of martyrs before that time! To say nothing of the hundreds of martyrs who died at the nads of Lutherian and Calvinian inquisitors!

    This really is an amazing “memory hole” in American evangelicalism. You aren’t going to see the Mennonite pacifist up in arms about the sheer falsification of Church history, where the Calvinian does PRECISELY to his fellow Christian, what he accuses the Papist of doing to his Calvinian forefathers!

    You are absolutely right that we obviously haven’t learned anything from history. But it’s only because most American evangelicals have never been introduced to Church history, except through a narrow, Calvinian historiography.

    I tell you, if the Church today can see the rest of the story and prayerfully urge our brethren (Arminian and Calvinian, Baptist and Presbyterian) to repent their intramural history-twisting and unbiblical traditions, MANY honest Christians will join the 20 million Americans who have already left the formal, unbiblical, denominational fray.

    It’s about time we started learning the truth about Church and State, and teaching the same to our children. Perhaps God will show mercy on this stiff-necked generation, despite ourselves.

  40. David M Zuniga Says:

    No, Corrie is not actually my child. When I keep the Papal Fish Hat on my head (my office is kinda cold) I sometimes to speak ex cathedra.

  41. Lynn Says:

    Lucy:
    “I didn’t follow what you were trying to say with continuing to mention the laws of the state of Texas. I didn’t realize you were doing it because of the commands in Romans, Titus and I Peter.”

    Corrie:
    “How about just plain being ethical in regards to one’s field of practice? There are standards for lawyers, Lucy. You would think it would translate into practice in one’s own private dealings, especially when those standards do not violate the Bible but actually agree with the Bible.”

    Corrie, I agree. I’m still amazed that Doug could deny Mark’s request and share that info with the congregation, and then he has the audacity to say Jen should repent for blogging about him.

  42. Vik Says:

    David said:
    “You are absolutely right that we obviously haven’t learned anything from history. But it’s only because most American evangelicals have never been introduced to Church history, except through a narrow, Calvinian historiography.”

    AMEN to that. I can’t get one Christian I know around here to get remotely interested in learning, either.

    All I have to say is, thank God for non-Christians and the ACLU (never thought I’d say that before I read this blog), because they are the main ones keeping those nutty theonomists in check.

    (If you ever see me type “UCLA” just rearrange the letters to “ACLU”. I caught it this time, but don’t always–this has nothing to do with the University of California in Los Angelas!)

  43. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    Seriously…
    This site presents Doug as the central figure in all of these matters of concern. If Doug functions in the role of an elder or assistant pastor, is there a senior pastor? Who has the rule over him? Also, who functioned as the presbytery at the inception of BCA? These are questions about Doug’s accountability at the local level. (Is he accountable only to a “good ole boy” network?) I don’t know, so I ask.

    Scripture clearly deliniates conduct standards for offenses among “the laity (sp?)”. It details responses to false teachers. Confronting an authority and responding to an authority that repeatedly behaves unjustly (especially one who is very public and powerful) is not spelled out quite as clearly for us in the Word. Silly of me to wonder?

  44. Corrie Says:

    “This really is an amazing “memory hole” in American evangelicalism. You aren’t going to see the Mennonite pacifist up in arms about the sheer falsification of Church history, where the Calvinian does PRECISELY to his fellow Christian, what he accuses the Papist of doing to his Calvinian forefathers!”

    David,

    And because of you I am now reading the Martyrs Mirror and learning a bit about Dirk Willems (who turned around and pulled his pursuer out of the icy water only later to be put to death for his “heresy” and saving the life of his enemy) and Maekyen Wens (A martyr who, after being tortured, was sentenced to be burned at the stake. But, before they burned her, they put a screw through her tongue so she could not speak).

    And that is why I get a bit concerned when I read that we need to put down the anabaptist heresy with whatever lawful means we can.

    When heresy is so loosely defined as to include those who “re-baptise” or don’t baptise infants, then I think we are in trouble.

    I am going to be reading these things in order to make sure that I can teach my children these things. I do not want history to repeat itself.

  45. Corrie Says:

    Cindy,

    I would also like to know who these men are accountable to. I guess we need to ask ourselves, “Where do I file a grievance if there is tyranny, abuse or injustice?” The answer to that question will answer your question. 🙂

    In other words, they are accountable to no one but themselves.

    It is circular reasoning at its finest when K, Lucy and Ann asked about LW and FPC. Both of these churches deferred to BCA. Neither of them held Doug Phillips, the sole elder, accountable. If they did hold him accountable, then Mark and Jen would have reported about the meeting that they attended where they were there to answer the charges in person. No such meeting took place.

    Unless FPC and LW was there, how do they know that this excommunication was handled biblically? They ruled on something in which they have no firsthand knowledge. They took Doug’s word for it and isn’t that exactly what is being disputed? Do you all see what I mean when I say “circular reasoning”?

    There is no accountability. They will say they hold each other accountable but do you see any evidence? There is always hope that some elder somewhere is trying to do this but is doing it privately.

    I am still waiting for proof that BCA has a “session”? If they have a session (plurality of elders), they must belong to a presbytery. Which presbytery do they belong to? That is where the appeal needs to be made.

  46. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    For clarification concerning the term “CULT”:

    There are two uses of the term and I failed to declare them.

    A doctrinal cult (in most Christian circles) as in the Walter Martin tradition refers to a group that does not acknowledge Christ’s deity. I am not suggesting this.

    In terms of social psychology, a cult (or cultic group) describes any social group and ideology which espouses and practices varying degrees of undue influence (primarily via shame and rigid standards of conduct) over their membership. This is more in keeping with the broad definition of “cult” as a group with zealous and passionate devotion to a cause or leader. Figuring strongly in the dynamics of a cultic group (which may or may not demonstrate all of Lifton’s 8 characteristics) are themes of submission, information control, positive/negative reinforcement and a grossly inequitable balance of power.

    In my use of the term, I refer to the latter. Other statements I’ve made have been openly sarcastic, but I use the term “cult” in all seriousness. In my experience and from what I’ve seen presented here, the term “cultic” does apply when coached in these terms. I apologize if anyone misunderstood my purpose and became offended at the suggestion that the deity of Christ was in question. Johnson and VanVonderan’s book “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” explains cultic behavior in otherwise Biblically and doctrinally sound churches. It would be an excellent resource to help understand what happens in authoritarian churches. “Take Back Your Life” by Lalich is an excellent book that discusses how leaders/groups can get out of control and offers very practical information concerning healing from spiritual abuse.

    Healing from trauma of any type includes varying degrees of anger and doubt, grief and loss as well as integration and restoration. Forgiveness, repentance and reconcilliation are elusive in the early stages of recovery. Emotional healing is also rarely “linear” according to the discipline of facilitating bereavement. Just something to consider (myself most of all as I have all these aspects at work on many levels simultaneously sometimes). Consider too, that we are all at different places in this very complicated process of aspiring to be part of one body. …To live peacably with all men as well.

  47. Cindy Kunsman Says:

    Thanks Corrie!

    You elucidated much of this for me and I detected not a hint of silliness in your response.

    That said, could any of this information be used (lack of accountability) to help defend the Epstiens in a potential legal battle (which I thought was not Biblical anyway — Christians suing Christians)? Food for thought to get an expert to critique the form of church government at BCA if it came to that. ??? I know of a couple of potential experts who could fine job.

    All this because an earnest couple sought honest counsel from people they trusted to be more faithful members of the body of Christ. It’s heartwrenching and awful. And all the while, your heart hopes ultimately for reconcilliation. We will have it eventually, bumping elbows and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, but what a painfully dramatic prelude!

  48. David M Zuniga Says:

    Corrie,

    You’re using Presbyterian terms; BCA isn’t Presbyterian, but independent.

    One of the supposed ‘selling points’ of denominations is that there exists a hierarchy of oversight, rather than the very horizontal ‘one another’ accountability seen in the NT. Note that whenever people are shown as trying to ‘pull rank’ in the NT, it’s always being illustrated as a BAD thing!

    The Episcopal (hierarchical, top-down) “command structure”, as you called it was perfected in the Roman Catholic Inquisition and Papal system. We all know where THAT ends up.

    The same can happen (perhaps not as bloody, but just as painful, spiritually) with authoritarian and/or Calvinian “I know better than you, so just buckle down and fly right” response to misunderstanding and/or sin in the church.

    For instance, anyone who has read more than a few panels of this blog knows that I’d make a ghastly overseer in a Calvinian (i.e., Presbyterian “session”, “ruling elder”) setting. The Scriptures are clear enough about how oversight needs to be extended over the flock, but it is also clear that once a man reaches a level of maturity and meets the qualifications laid out (i.e. Paul’s instructions to Timothy) then he has oversight responsibility.

    In the case of a husband and father, this (loving, mutual submission in Christ, service-oriented) oversight extends to his wife and kids. In other words, most solid local assemblies of Christians should have MANY (in some cases most of the mature men of the group) overseers with different gifts.

    The problems stem from our begging the question of ‘corporate-style’ oversight and “command” in the local body of Christ. This model of “church government” as the Calvinist likes to call it forces us to give up far too much oversight and peace-making potential (balance of strong characters, etc) to too few men. In a small group, then, the strongest men tend to dominate — either by domineering character (need to control others) or simply by the strength of their oratorical or teaching gifts.

    Since “the Reformation”, this Calvinian model has been the answer to the even more autocratic Episcopacy model — but NEITHER is the model seen in the early Church.

    There are those who, in defence of Episcopal or Presbyterial “church government”, deny this, saying that “No; the early Church had very few leaders, as we see them named in Scripture; not many.” But they forget that at that time the entire Church was small.

    In the average Bible-preaching, maturing local assembly, the qualifications for ‘overseer’ and ‘deacon’ can be met by a goodly number of men; a truly reforming body of Christ will seee more of this, and less of the corporate, paid-clergy, “command structure” church politics we see today.

    We should pray for such reformation, I think.

  49. Kevin T. Jenkins Says:

    Since “the Reformation”, this Calvinian model has been the answer to the even more autocratic Episcopacy model — but NEITHER is the model seen in the early Church.

    What a riot. A, albeit primitive, episcopal model can be seen as early as the second century with Ignatius of Antioch. We see it clearly in the Ante-Nicene era, and it was the unifying factor of Christendom, no matter what differences existed between the various national churches. The Celtic Church, the Byzantine Church, the Roman Church, the Jerusalem Church….all had a hierarchical system. This lasted for at least 1,400 years, or 1,500 if you grant that it was apostolic.

    The presbyterian system also can be seen in Anselm, who said that the catholic church departed from the apostolic government of ‘plurality of elders’.

    While presbyterianism and episcopalianism are frowned upon by Landmarkers for their antiquarianism (Landmark Baptists are liberal revolutionaries), the main reason is their hostility to egalitarianism. Congregationalists and independents expect us to believe that Jesus Christ instituted a democratic form of polity, when ‘democracy’ as we know it originated with the French Revolution, a good seventeen centuries after the time of Christ. The Apostles themselves would have been most familiar with monarchy (episcopal) or republicanism (presbyterian).

    Most Landmarkers reject the Apostles Creed, however, which says there is one holy catholic church. R. K. Maiden, a staunch Landmarker, wrote an article called “Universal Church heresy”, which states that the Christian Church is not universal. This flies in the face of Matt. 16:18, where Jesus says, ‘I will build my Church [singular]”. John 17:21 shows that the unity of the Church would be a sign that Christ was sent by God. Historic catholicism is absolutely Scriptural, and the Reformation was a revival of primitive catholicism, not a revolution against the Christian social order, but abuses stemming from Aristotilianism as practiced on the streets by the average priest and laymen.

    What Landmark Anabaptism is, however, is schism, sectarianism, and a revival of ancient heresies condemned by the Holy Scripture and the unanimous consent of the Fathers.

    With Midwest Outreach exposing Vision Forum as a cult, and one of their parishioners promoting ancient heresies, it’s all coming together for me.

  50. Vik Says:

    Correction Kevin:

    Landmarkers aren’t really anabaptists, regardless of the Landmarkers devotion to “The Trail of Blood” and its insistence of the “baptist” name being shortened from the “anabaptist” name. Most Anabaptists today DO NOT LIKE Landmarkers or their attitudes, and do not recognize being remotely connected. Just because Landmarkers mix up terms doesn’t mean we have to.

    Anabaptists, which comprise mainly of plain folk, do not believe that there is any truth to “The Trail of Blood”. Let’s get our story straight. Anabaptists have their own problems, but they are nothing like Landmarkers and want no fellowship with them.

  51. Kevin T. Jenkins Says:

    This is true Vik. Even nutjobs think they’re lunatics.

  52. Justice Prima Says:

    David,
    The reason Corrie is using Presbyterian terms like ‘Session’ is because Doug Philips, his friends at Fed Up, and the BCA website have applied the word ‘Session’ to the BCA leadership (which appears at the time to have been Doug).
    That was deceptive, and that’s why Corrie is asking where the evidence is that Bourne has ever had a ‘Session.’

    In fact, if you look at BCA’s website you will find a link
    titled ‘Letter from BCA Session’ and when you click on that link you get a page signed by :
    Bob Sarratt, on behalf of the BCA session.

    I don’t happen to think a ‘Session’ is a biblical requirement, but that’ s irrelevant to this question. Does BCA have or does it constitute a ‘Session?’ No. Why does BCA choose to use this deceptive language? Since BCA is NOT, as you say, Presbyterian but Independent, why would they choose that very Presbyterian word to characterize Doug Philips and his deacons?

    This also is not the first time the question has been discussed on the Epstein’s blog (the discrepancy between reality and BCA’s deceptive use of terminology also came up at MW and Lynn’s blog). Like Doug’s willfully choosing to reveal preconversion sins to the entire congregation in the face of Jen’s husband’s plea that he not do that, like Doug’s revisionist history over Natasha’s winning essay, like so many other things, these actions are indefensable. And so BCA’s defenders spend most of their time ratcheting up the invective hoping nobody will notice that their Pastor lies, covers up the facts when inconvenient to him, and will go to any length to deceive people.

    Calling BCA a Session may seem like a small matter- but deception isn’t, and there’s not any other explanation for BCA’s use of the term.

  53. David M Zuniga Says:

    Kevin,

    Your “nutjob” Calvianian beliefs are showing, brother. “What a riot” indeed! Calvin was a political-power type fellow; he had a plan for government for all of Geneva and environs. Political power was the worldly aim of Luther and Calvin, along with a reforming tendency.

    You Calvinian “nutjobs” also like to hark back to ‘patristics’ and your HUMAN “fathers”, rather than to Scripture. You figure if you can go back far enough (3rd-4th century A.D.) that the political power-grabs are automatically sanctified…truly canonical!

    Tight-shoed Calvinians always come back around to the power-grab, though. You make threats, and you decree that plain Christians “should be suppressed to the full extent of the law”, and thereby show youselves good disciples of Calvin…and anything but disciples of Jesus Christ.

    While it’s a pity, it’s not a serious concern. Here in polytheistic, anything-goes American evangelicalism, you’re just one of the tiniest splinter groups that your hero created. POWER is what you want in life. That, brother, is ANYthing but Christianity.

    I pray that one day you’ll take your “nutjob” historical blinders off, and begin reading the actual history of the Church, and drop your mindless worship of John Calvin. I won’t hold my breath, but I will pray.

  54. Marsena Says:

    Jen, I am so sorry for what you and your family have been through. Regarding Doug Phillips’ counseling philosophy, it sounds to me like BCA is more interested in turning out a Christianized version of Stepford Wives than leading families to a true understanding of Christian family life. I pray that the Lord will direct your family to a more balanced body of believers.


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