Why I am NOT Calling Doug Phillips to Repentance

For years, Doug Phillips called me to repentance.  He required that those in his congregation call me to repentance.  In fact, that was the only contact they were allowed to have with me, and still are.  For years, I asked what sin I had committed so that I could truly repent.  At the time, I wanted nothing more than to be restored to good fellowship, but no one was ever able to identify my sin.  Now, I am certainly far from perfect, but in this case, I had done nothing worthy of being excommunicated and shunned, and my kids certainly had done nothing worthy of their being excommunicated and shunned, simply because they were my children.  But, nonetheless, I have been called to repentance for years now.

Now the tables have turned, but now I am NOT going to call Doug Phillips to repentance.

Let me repeat that.  I am NOT calling Doug Phillips to repentance.

I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s look at repentance.  Ironically, Doug Phillips posted an article just a couple months ago, entitled “True Repentance.”  This was written by Doug Phillips himself on August 7, 2013.  If my memory serves me correctly, he has written this article before and this is probably an updated, edited version.  Nevertheless, the topic is still fresh in his mind.

Citing II Cor. 7:10, Doug Phillips goes on to compare worldly sorrow with godly sorrow.  Let’s observe Doug Phillips’ article on True Repentance alongside his Statement of Resignation.

Article: Too often “repentance” is the experience of offering a half-hearted and self-serving apology to God and man, mixed with large amounts of blame-shifting, pride, and a desire to be done with the whole matter so you don’t ever have to deal with it again. It is the “I have said I am sorry on my terms and in my way, and there is nothing more I need to do, so if that is not good enough for you, then you are the one in sin” attitude.

The Bible describes this attitude as “the sorrow of the world [which] produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10). It is a false sorrow, a self-centered and self-serving sorrow. Evidences of worldly sorrow include fear of bad results, a sense of pressure caused by the consequences of sin, and embarrassment over “getting caught.” Worldly sorrow may result in partial repentance accompanied by the telling of half-truths and admission of just enough wrongdoing, and no more, than is necessary. Worldly sorrow is often accompanied by arrogance and pride, because, at the end of the day, the sinner does not believe his crimes are really that bad—at least, they are not as bad as the other guy’s crimes.

This is a sorrow that leaves injured parties worse off because they are expected to accept the apology of one who is at best “sorry” with qualifications and reservations, unwilling to make the injured party whole.

While Doug Phillips’ Statement of Resignation is not an official statement of repentance, am I the only one who detects many of the above characteristics of “worldly sorrow” in this statement?

With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities. 

There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.  I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate. 

There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.

This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.

In the True Repentance article, Doug Phillips goes on to describe godly sorrow.  The article is actually very good, and well worth reading in whole, but let me pull a few quotes from each section of Doug’s description of godly sorrow:

Brokenness:  Those who experience true brokenness over sin are overwhelmed by the enormity of their crime. … He is deeply grieved that he has injured his brother. He enters into the pain of those whom he has wronged, and his heart is full of compassion for them because of the trouble his sin has caused. A truly repentant man is therefore a humble man who thinks less of himself and more of those he has injured.

Forsaking Sin:  One of the clearest signs of worldly sorrow and false repentance is that, once caught, the sinner simply transfers his sin to another venue.

Truth Telling:  Those who experience godly sorrow and true repentance will therefore tell the whole truth. They will not play word games or withhold those facts which would make them look worse. 

Acceptance of Responsibility: True godly sorrow necessarily requires the sinner to take full responsibility for his actions.  If you have ever listened to a person “repent” by making excuses for their actions, shifting blame, accusing others in the process, or telling half-truths, you can be sure that this person does not have godly sorrow and, therefore, is not repentant. 

Restitution:  It is not enough that they will cease and desist from the wrongdoing. They will do whatever is necessary to heal those they have injured by restoring to them what they have taken. Godly sorrow produces such compassion for the injured party that the penitent man aches to bring health and wholeness to those he has injured.

Peace: The man who experiences a godly sorrow unto repentance desires to live at peace with those he has injured, and all the more so when sin has brought strife and division between fellow believers.  A sinner who grieves over his sin will go to great lengths to seek peace with those he has injured.

When we first get caught doing something harmful to others, our natural human response is, “I’m sorry I got caught.”  That is natural, normal, and just part of the process of being human.  That is what the Bible terms as “worldly sorrow.”  But “godly sorrow” leads to true repentance.  So how do we get from “worldly sorrow” to “godly sorrow?”  If we call someone to repentance, will they suddenly turn around and go in the other direction, which we often term as “repentance,” and then will they find “godly sorrow” when they turn their lives around?

Paul tells us just the opposite, that “godly sorrow” itself is what produces repentance.  Calling someone to repentance does not produce godly sorrow, but the godly sorrow will inevitably lead to a true repentance.

What is true repentance?  Is it just turning around and going in the opposite direction?  No, I don’t believe so.  That would be a natural result of repentance, but that is not repentance itself.  Repentance is simply a changed heart.  The only true change in our lives comes from a change deep in our hearts, when we allow God to simply love us.  When we come to understand how much God truly loves us, our hearts melt before Him.  When we come to realize that God loves us, no matter what “sin” we commit, our hearts are reshaped into love.  When we experience God’s unconditional love even in our own self-imposed conditions, we are broken in love.

Love explainedLet’s break this down a bit.  First, we do something that hurts someone else.  In this case, Doug Phillips’ relationship with this woman was over a very long period of time.  Then we get caught.  What is the natural, normal, human response to getting caught?  Worldly sorrow.  “I’m sorry I got caught.”  That appears to be the stage that Doug Phillips is currently in.  That is normal.  As Doug Phillips comes to realize that God is not angry with him, that God is not keeping a record of Doug’s wrongs, that God has already paid for all his sins, that God is not standing over him with a big hammer, that God is simply loving him like He always does, then, and only then, will Doug’s heart be broken enough to accept God’s love for him.  When Doug Phillips comes to know how much God truly does love him, when he realizes this deep inside himself even though he has preached it all his life, then, and only then, will Doug experience the depth of God’s love for him that will produce a change of heart.  When Doug Phillips begins to experience this amazing love of God, Doug’s heart will soften and melt before God and before man.  That melting heart will lead to godly sorrow, and that godly sorrow will lead to repentance.  That repentance will be a heart change, not just turning around and going in the opposite direction.

And that is why I do NOT call Doug Phillips to repentance.  The only way that Doug Phillips will experience true repentance is after he comes to know the full love of God toward him at this moment in time.  And so, I simply plead with Doug Phillips to allow God to love him.  There is no list of “repentance” to follow.  There is no one right way to make things right.  When there is a true heart change, we will know it.  When Doug Phillips experiences the love of God in a new and fresh way, it will be apparent to everyone who knows him.

No list.
No rules.
No checklist.
No call to repentance.

Just the love of God for each and every one of us who hurts others.


57 Responses to “Why I am NOT Calling Doug Phillips to Repentance”

  1. Rebecca Says:

    At what point in his resignation do you get the impression that he is not fully accepting the blame for what he did? Why do you feel as though he’s offering up half-truths? He doesn’t mention the name of the woman involved, but that isn’t necessary for the sake of his own repentance; at least not on a national level. We don’t need all the details, and the only way to know whether or not there was more to what he did than what he’s already confessed to is to have first hand knowledge of some additional sin. Though I’m certainly not defending what’s he’s done, no where in his resignation letter does he shift the blame to someone else. I do not know you, or him, but could it be that your own past involvement with him and his church has colored your view of this?
    You make a very good point when you say, “Repentance is simply a changed heart.” You’re right, and you are also right when you suggest that a changed heart will show in our behavior, but you cannot possibly know what is truly going on in another person’s heart.
    It is most likely too early to tell if there has truly been a change of heart. All we can go on is what he’s said, take him at face value for the time being and then see if his life lines up with what he claims in the long run. And if he’s truly stepping back from being in the public eye, we may never know. In the end it will probably be something only those close to him will be able to see the fruit of. In the meantime, our job is simply to forgive and pray, hoping for the best from the entire situation and trusting in God’s overall plan.

    • Jen Says:

      Rebecca, there is just an overall spirit of not fully taking responsibility that I find in his statement. Part of it stems from “blaming” a lack of accountability. That is like saying that if more men held his hand, this would never have happened. When there is a true heart change, he will not need ANYONE to hold his hand to keep him from “serious sin.” Doug has more men keeping him “accountable” than most people would ever have in a dozen lifetimes. It is that sense of blaming others for not keeping him from sinning that tells me that he is still in the “I’m sorry I got caught” phase of repentance. And that is actually normal at this stage.

      • Bea Says:

        Well personally I belive that you are one of those people that will find fault in anything. He has confessed, apologized publicly, and stepped down from his position. What else would you ask of the man?! He has ten times more courage than half the men on the planet.

        • Jen Says:

          Bea, if you have read my blog, you will realize that even though Doug Phillips has greatly wronged me, I have also given him much credit where credit is due. Many have criticized me for saying anything good about him.

          What do I expect from Doug Phillips? A change of heart. And it will be obvious when that happens.

      • Rebecca Says:

        I’m sorry to disagree with you again, but I don’t see him “blaming a lack of accountability”. What he said was that he thought too highly of himself and behaved without proper accountability. What that means is that he was too prideful and didn’t think he needed to be held accountable for that portion of his life. That’s what ultimately brings all of us to a point where we are sinning repeatedly; thinking that we don’t need accountability in a given area. And to think that you can have so complete a heart change that you would never need anyone to, as you would put it, hold your hand to keep you from serious sin, would be to place yourself on a very slippery slope; one that would most definately lead to the kind of pride that goes before a fall. There is a reason for being held accountable, and yes, we are all human and will be tempted to sin regardless of any accountablility we have in place. After all, those that are to hold us accountable can only help us with what we are being honest about, unless there’s some outward proof of sin. And because we are fallen humans we will occasionally slip up, including not fully disclosing our sin to those who could hold us accountable.
        It still seems as though you are looking at this situation through the tainted lens of past hurts. I’m very sorry for that, but unless you can read the man’s heart, it’s unjust of you to suggest he’s not genuinely repentant of his actions. As a Christian it’s your responsibility to forgive and wait to see if this man does turn his life around, not suggest from the outset that he’s not being completely honest.

        • Jen Says:

          Rebecca, what verses tell us that we need an accountability partner? Or that we should be accountable to someone else? Or that being accountable to someone will keep us from sin?

          That is the perspective I am coming from.

      • Larry Says:

        Let’s just wait and see if he permanently resigns as an elder of BCA and also Vision Forum, Inc. All he claims to have done is to resign from the separate Vision Forum Ministries entity. A repentant heart will not financially profit from selling things that one does not exemplify.

        He will also recognize he no longer meets the requirements to be an elder, and he will step down. We will see…

      • nettie Says:

        There are many passages in the Bible that deal with accountability. the word “accountability” isn’t necessarily there, but the principle is. Take a look through the Gospels. Read the Epistles. How about Hebrews 10:25 ” not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Encouraging one another.. praying for one another…confessing sins one to another…building one another up in love; this all sounds like ways we are accountable to me.
        I have read your whole story, and i can tell there is still past pain there. Yet, you must be careful to not allow your past to taint a man’s public confession of sin and an asking for forgiveness. WE ALL SIN in many ways. We daily need the grace of Jesus. His sin is now visible to the public. But what of our sins? What if your thoughts were played out on a screen in front of everyone? Just your thoughts in the past week? I know you are saved, but you still sin. we all do. we all need forgiveness.
        a little perspective here would be great.
        And a little showing of mercy and compassion for what the family must be enduring. And this is certainly not helping.

        • Jen Says:

          Nettie, please keep in mind that I wrote this blog seven years ago, so yes, there was quite a bit more pain then.

          Yes, the “one another” passages are wonderful passages. But they are not about keeping one another accountable. The “one another” passages are from a perspective of loving one another, not controlling one another.

          I agree that we need to show mercy. I thought this particular article did exactly that. However, it does not mean that we simply overlook what has happened. I do not see true repentance yet, so I think it is important to hold Doug, a public leader, to his own standards.

      • Eileen Says:

        FYI: there have been a couple of different sources (including Voddie) that said that he stepped down as elder from BCA several months ago.

      • Rebecca Says:

        As Netti says, the word accountability may not be there, but the principle certainly is.
        Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
        James 5:16 – Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (Sometimes the healing we need is spiritual – wouldn’t you agree?)
        Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
        And admonishing means to rebuke mildly, but earnestly.
        Galatians 6:2 – Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
        Sometimes the burden we need someone to help us bear is the sin we are tempted with; the thing we may need to be admonished for, but we have to be honest and let another know about it. It’s obvious from Mr. Phillips letter that he did not allow others to know that he was being tempted in this area, so there could be no admonishing that may have helped stave off this problem.
        No, being accountable will not keep us from all sin; we are human and we will sin. But honestly sharing with others will help us with struggles we are facing and that is the heart of, and the obvious need for accountability. To say that it’s unneeded is to suggest that you have achived a place where you don’t need help; to say that you don’t need any other iron – you are apparently sharp enough on your own. It suggests that you are not in need of the admonishing that the God tells us in the bible we need.

        Finally, I would add that the following verse may be needed in this case:
        Galatians 6:1-2 – Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

        Emphasis should be placed on the latter part of this verse. “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” You may not be tempted with the same sin Mr. Phillips was, but this verse does not limit itself to the same type of temptation.

        • Jen Says:

          Rebecca, I am not saying that accountability is a bad thing. Not at all. But to blame one’s sin on a lack of accountability, especially when one is surrounded by a dozen or so men who have your exact values in life at any given moment, is simply not accepting responsibility for your own actions.

          My role in this is simply to encourage Doug Phillips to walk his talk. He is hypocritical in many, many areas of life. It is one thing for your average “Joe Blow” to be a hypocrite; it is another thing altogether for a self-proclaimed leader to be a hypocrite in the very areas he preaches.

      • Rebecca Says:

        You missed the point. He blamed his sin on pride. Yes, he says this pride led him fail at allowing others to hold him properly accountable, but the basis of the problem was pride. Which is the basis of many sins – by all of us.
        I do not know how well you all actually know this man, but if you’ve expirenced problmes with him in the past my guess is you’re not on the friendliest terms with him, and hence are looking at this from the outside, with the prejudice of past problems to sway your opinion. And you need to remember that men are just men – all men are just men, whether they be leaders or not. Yes, we are to hold them, and they are to hold themselves to a high standard, but we are to hold ourselves to that high a standard too and we are all often guilty of hypocrisy. Yours may not be in the same areas as his, but if you honestly evealuate yourself I’m sure you could find some area where you would require some changes of heart as well.
        I do not, and have never said that what the man did was right. I simply state that you do not know whether or not his heart is truly broken over this. And we cannot assuming he’s not being honest. We can only accept him at face value for the time being and see whether or not he truly turns this around. Being in leadership means that when a person falls, many others around him lose faith, but that is because their faith was inappropriately placed in a man instead of in Christ. But God can certaily redeem the situation if the man truly does turn his life around.
        If you have been unjustly hurt by a ministry he was involved in you should just, as Jesus says, shake the dust of the place off your feet and move on. You should not stand about and take pot shots at a man who has fallen, and may well be trying to rectify the situation. This is not what we are called to do.

        • Jen Says:

          Rebecca, I agree that it was pride. Oh, absolutely.

          Yes, I do know Doug VERY well. And that is exactly why I say I know that he is not truly repentant. And it also why I will know when he is truly repentant.

      • Maxwell Says:

        Rebecca, there are sheep and there are wolves. Jen, one of the sheep, was bloodied up by a wolf in sheeps clothing, she has seen many other sheep who have been bloodied by the very same wolf. Jen, and others (pastors — who are to be shepherds — come to mind here) not only have a right but a duty to guard the flock! We absolutely *should* be saying, “Hey sheep! There’s a wolf over there with blood on his chin!! Avoid him!!!” Yet you are suggesting that we should simple walk away and allow other sheep to injured… and it appears that the injuries from this particular wolf are getting worse and worse.

        • Jen Says:

          Maxwell, some sheep will listen to the warnings. Others will not. But the warnings are there for those who don’t want the same thing to happen to them. Thanks for understanding.

  2. Teresa Says:

    I find it interesting that he made sure to mention how his “beloved bride” & family… “have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness” and “My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition”. This just seems manipulative to the reader of his letter, as if spurring everyone on to have similar reactions to his confession. Why does he even need to mention this? The other thing that bothers me is the word “lengthy”. How does one have a lengthy period of this type of betrayal and deception to God and others and still be able to face his loved ones, etc. As far as I can think, his relationship with the Lord had to become one of a rebellious child living in sin. Each time he lusted, he sold his soul out and knew the damage he could cause his loved ones and did it anyway. I am curious if he “turned himself in” or was caught. I would be more apt to believe him if his conscience and true repentence caused the confession. Still, the confession is all too prettily packaged to me. Feeling sad for his family most of all.

    • Jen Says:

      Teresa, yes, that slick packaging is what does not ring true to me. I guess I just know him so well that I can “hear” what he is saying in that statement, and you have seen through it as well.

      • Teresa Says:

        It is difficult for Christians who have not been subjected to a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” to understand. They are still looking for the godliness in the “caught” indidvual. They want to believe the best because the truth would be too hard to comprehend, ie. the depth and practiced manipulation perpetrated by that leader. That’s why wolves are able to do shocking things to their sheep. It is amazing when the blinders come off and one can look back with 20/20 vision and it all makes sense. All the red flags that popped up and were pushed down in the heart because (we )loved that wolf and thought (he ) loved us. Been there, done that, but happy my particular pastor-wolf was revealed, at least to those few who believed what happened. Truth sets us so free.

        • Jen Says:

          Teresa, I just wish that everyone did not have to be an abused sheep in order to understand. That’s why I keep this website up as a warning to those who are willing to listen.

      • Teresa Says:

        Thank you for telling your story in this blog and not just “shaking the dust off your feet”. Leaders need to be held “accountable” in the sense that they need to be responsible for their actions, period. It is called taking responisibilty, owning up. It would have been wonderful for you not to have to go through what you did and therefore never have to write this blog. I do not see anything harmful in what you are doing. On the contrary the danger lies in having too much apathy or shame to tell of our experiences with controlling leaders, as the victim list grows and grows.

  3. Gid'on Eilat Says:

    Rebecca and Bea,

    It we were on a political thread, the two of you would be labeled “trolls.” Fortunately, the author has enough grace to tolerate your idolatry of a man. If you “knew” Doug Phillips, you would know he is more than a legalist, he is a Pharisee. When Doug Phillips metes out the same “punishment” to himself as he has so many others, when he suffers the same fate he inflicted on so many others, and when his family is broken as the author describes above (NOT the way Doug would break others), then (and only then), will I believe that Doug is repentant. You two should use the same standard. Otherwise, you will fall for this half-hearted “got caught” apology, “taking responsibility” and “repenting” that Doug has proffered to an unwitting public that does not “know” him personally.

    • Jen Says:

      Yes, Gid’on, I think we see through his statement because we know him so well.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Well, it’s not a political thread. It’s hopefully a Christian thread where we do not resort to name calling because someone has an opinion that differs from ours.
      You may personally know Doug Phillips, but you certainly don’t know me, as is evidenced by your suggestion that I idolize Doug Phillips. I’ve been in church far too long to think that any man, despite his outward appearance is above the temptation to sin and I don’t really know much about Doug Phillips in particular anyway. I only have a passing knowledge of him and his familiy, and have had very little to do with any part of Vision Forum ministries; and that was to ordering a book or two and reading a few articles, most of which were actually written by others.
      I was merely pointing out before that the author’s past may well be coloring her view on this, as that is how it sounds from her post, and in all honesy, from your response as well. I was also pointing out the fact that she, and you for that matter, cannot possibly know what’s going on in this man’s heart and so it was unjust to suggest that he’s not really repentant.
      I would leave you with this:
      Ephesians 4:32 – And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
      God does not put any stipulation on our responsibility to forgive others – what I specifically mean here is that God does not say that we are only to forgive those that have forgiven us in the past, or treated us well in all past encounters. We are not to forgive Doug Phillips because he (Mr. Phillips) has always done what is right, but because of what Christ did for us; because Christ was perfect and offered himself up for us all – you, me, and Doug Phillips.
      Now I certainly hope you don’t think I put everyone on some pedestal simply because I think they are all worthy of the forgiveness God tells us we should extend, which is (or should be) a result of the grace He has already extended to us.

      • Jen Says:

        Rebecca, some of us know him so well that we know exactly what he is saying, and what he is not saying, in that statement. Gid’on knows him extremely well.

    • nettie Says:

      You have had no real contact with him for years, per your own admission. Instead of understanding that WE ALL SIN and have fallen short of the glory of God, you seem to be exalting yourself above temptation and sin. Those of us who are calling you to look at the Bible are not idolizing a man. the assumptions you are making are wrong: about those of us calling you to the Word, and about whether or not Dough Phillips is truly repentant. You are putting yourselves in the position of God, in being his judge, and I would tread very carefully if I were you. Rebecca and I have tried sharing verses, and are working at you seeing we are all sinners. we all sin. YOU SIN. I SIN. Doug Phillips SINS.
      we are to forgive when asked to forgive, just as God in Christ forgave us. Again, Jen, if your thoughts over the past week were played for all to see, you would cringe. You would run and hide. We all would if someone did that with our thoughts. WE ALL SIN. Yet we can repent, and forgiveness is granted to us in Christ. Why cannot Doug Phillips find the same forgiveness we do?
      I pray that you will stop saying he is not repentant, since you don’t know. This will bear itself out. Time will show true repentance. The way that you are saying that he cannot possibly truly be repentant causes me to wonder if people who come to you, if they have wronged you, are truly forgiven, if you don’t believe they are repentant enough. Isn’t that ironic? You felt unforgiven by your former church. And you won’t believe or extend forgiveness to a man who, in humility, made public his sin.
      Tread carefully, Jen.
      Whether or not you believe we need the body to be accountable to, one day, we all must give account to God Himself.
      I pray you hear the words and the verses that have been spoken here, by sisters in Christ who care that His name be honored and glorified.

      • Jen Says:

        Nettie, I long ago forgave Doug for what he did to me. This latest episode is not a sin against me, so I don’t need to forgive him.

        However, forgiveness does not equal trust. Just because I forgive him does not mean that the wrong goes away or that he does not need to make it right. He still does. That is his part.

        I have never claimed to be perfect. In fact, my life is pretty much all laid out online for everyone to see. No one here has ever claimed not to sin. Far from it.

      • noturniptruck Says:

        I find it very interesting that there are people like Doug, who have NO problems judging others & pointing fingers for their failures & sins, yet people are running to their rescue now that the shoes are on the other foot. You can find bible verses to back up your stuff but you are missing some VALID ones. Doug was a TEACHER, a LEADER, a PREACHER/ELDER and needs to be held above reproach. He is held to a higher accountability than anyone else. That is in the Bible as well. I think we need to stop pacifying these leaders and hold them accountable.

        As far as Doug goes personally, Jen’s issues aren’t isolated. This isn’t a matter of just clashing personalities.

        @Rebecca have you read her back history and full story of what went on? This is NOT an isolated incident. Doug is a one crew wrecking ball. You may think it’s isolated but let me tell you why. Jen & Mark are the only ones with GUTS to speak. The others have either signed confidentiality papers or Doug has legally ruined or verbally ruined them. There are people that are literally scared to speak out/up. He’s destroyed their businesses. He’s destroyed/divided their family. He’s destroyed their homes. They have lost their churches and their church relationships. Have you looked up the qualifications of a cult?

        We were and have been associated with VF for many years but cut our ties a while ago. You don’t have the half of an idea of what a ripple affect it’s going to have on this community. Not half. People are going to swing the other way. Some will not homeschool. Some will pull out of their FIC church. Some will leave Christianity period. Some will of course not support VF or Doug. There will be MANY other problems here.

        I don’t believe DP’s statement because we know him. We know his mannerisms. We know how he “ticks”. We know manipulative he is. I think he stated what he had to pacify people but when I tell you that there’s a BIG BIG issue here that’s NOT being said? yep. It’s going to be horrible. You are trying to see things that are not there. Did you know he doesn’t state ANYWHERE that he’s is under “church discipline”?

        *I* am grateful to the Epsteins for speaking out. People need to know that what you see is NOT what you get with Doug. I am thankful that she has this here for people that have been devastated either by Doug or legalism through Doug and they can reach out for help. I am thankful that she has spoken up and given a voice to those that won’t because Doug has beaten them down and scared them to the point where they are afraid to speak.

        • Jen Says:

          NoTurnipTruck, it is apparent that you know Doug well enough to realize that this statement of resignation is just as slick as all his other statements of blame-shifting. There is nothing genuine in that statement at all.

          Really good point about no mention of being under church discipline. That missing element, which he insists on using with everyone else, is quite striking indeed!

  4. Larry Says:

    Its nice to see today that references of Doug Phillips have been removed from the Vision Forum blog and that his name has been replaced on the BCA website and another “provisional elder” has been installed in his place. I do not see any clarification yet as to whether or not he has resigned from Vision Forum, Inc.

  5. amom Says:

    I have had deep concerns about the false doctrine of this movement. Just wanted to say in regards to the recent posting of “True Repentance” that I think the key lies in the rest of the title “the key to family Blessing”. True repentance doesn’t have a favor attached.

  6. noturniptruck Says:

    as I was rereading your story again Jen, I saw where there was a young lady named m***, who’s family had been devastated by Doug & BCA. She said she would email you her story and you would post it. Did she ever send it to you and did you ever post it? Is she related to Shelby Kennedy that passed away?

    • Jen Says:

      NoTurnipTruck, she decided not share her story publicly after all. It was too painful. It seems like that is very common among those who have experienced extreme abuse at the hands of Doug Phillips.

  7. Geoff Says:

    Rebecca says: “You make a very good point when you say, “Repentance is simply a changed heart.” You’re right, and you are also right when you suggest that a changed heart will show in our behavior, but you cannot possibly know what is truly going on in another person’s heart.”

    That’s not a genuine admission but an evasion. It’s also not the least bit biblical. Jesus admonished us to be proactive, to be on our guard against wolves, not to just naively believe flowery speeches. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matt 7) You seem to want to ignore the fruit of Doug Phillips’ life and trust him based on what appears to me to be a “give him the benefit of the doubt” philosophy. Too many who have followed this blog, and others as well, know that there is little room for doubt. When it comes to Doug Phillips, I believe I have very good cause for my skepticism.

    This is hardly the first blog that I’ve seen that describes Doug Phillips as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I tend to side more with the opinions of those who’ve had close encounters of the abusive kind with Doug Phillips than those like yourself who only know him superficially. While I can admire your good intentions, I can’t admire your apparent willful ignorance.

    The condition of our heart governs our actions. In other words, talk is cheap, and in Doug’s case too many of us know from personal experience that he doesn’t practice what he preaches. Too many Christians have become victims of spiritual abuse because they wanted so much to believe the pleasant sounding platitudes, only to discover too late that their pastor was a silver tongued devil.

    Bear in mind that Doug is a lawyer and is well versed in the lawyer-ly arts of secrecy, cover up, and duplicity as part of his daily business practices. He’s also very gifted and convincing in the arts of issuing lawyer-ly threats and intimidation against any who would dare to challenge or oppose him. He’s done so for many years, and I have first-hand knowledge of much of it, as do the many others that he’s cheated.

    Cheating on his wife is not a temporary moral lapse, but completely consistent with his character. The one thing we can believe of him in his so-called confession (much of it, particularly his sincerity, should be called into question) is that his affair was “lengthy.” However, it was not a “God has graciously brought me to repentance” situation at all, as though after years of infidelity his conscience suddenly got the better of him. No, Doug outed himself in a carefully orchestrated attempt to limit the extent of his exposure, and prevent the full story, a far more damaging story, from coming out.

    In my view this situation is strikingly similar to the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky tempest in a teapot “scandal”. The real scandals of Bill (and Hillary) were gargantuan (criminal) in comparison to “I didn’t have sex with that woman.” Orchestrating the outing of a salacious sex scandal (oh how the Press loves those!) is the only thing that saved Clinton from being exposed for far more serious charges than perjury. The one major difference in the story lines is that Hillary is a lesbian and never genuinely cared that Bill was cheating on her (they hadn’t slept together in years anyway). Beall, on the other hand, has been genuinely cheated on and is genuinely wounded by it. She very much needs our prayers, as do the Phillips children.

    The truth about Doug Phillips’ real nature isn’t any harder to find than was the truth about Bill and Hillary, at least for those who aren’t afraid to open their eyes. Doug Phillips is no more a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ than was Bill Clinton. Like Bill, Doug is first and foremost a politician, and like a good politician Doug knows the value of telling people what he knows they want to hear. Doug’s confession was a brilliant political move, but also only too transparently manipulative for those of us who personally know the man.

    • Jen Says:

      Geoff, very good points. It sounds like you know him well. A brilliant political move indeed.

    • noturniptruck Says:

      WOW and WOW! Bravo! Giving Geoff a huge standing ovation………thank you!

    • noturniptruck Says:

      Beall, on the other hand, has been genuinely cheated on and is genuinely wounded by it. She very much needs our prayers, as do the Phillips children.

      AND so does this young woman that he had the affair with. I fear the damage and consequences will be MUCH greater on her than anyone else. I pray for her healing. I pray for her SAFETY. I pray for her peace of mind. I pray for her boldness. I pray for her family.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Ok – you have a point. I do not know her back story so I will take a bit to read up before I offer any other comment.
      I’ve already started but family obligations require my attention at the moment.

    • Rebecca Says:

      Alright Jen, I have read your story, and if what you say is true then you most definately should be calling Doug Phillips to repentence, but for many more sins than just emotional adultry. I will start this by saying that I do not want to offend you if at any point in this the language of my response gives the impression that I do not believe what you are saying. In all fairness to both parties I have to keep using terms that may suggest this is just one side of the story not only because it is, but because I don’t know you anymore than I know him – either of you could be telling the truth as far as I actually know.
      I am not without compassion and even sympathy for your situation. As I said in one of my previous comments, I’ve been in church too long to think men are above sin – any man, elder or not. In fact, my family spent many years in the Independant, Fundamental, Baptist Church environment and if ever there were a church setting that encouraged men to be placed on a pedestal, it’s that one. I’ve seen and been in churches where the “Man of God’s” word was basically law and have even been in a situation where I was attacked for “problems” I had created in the church (I had the aduacity to confront the wife of one of the pastors for questioning some of my children about and criticizing our family rules behind my back). And we had the head “pastor” preach (without actually naming names – but there was no question of identity) about our family from the pulpit because of these issues. What I don’t understand from your story is why on Earth you put up with it so long, and why you would seek so hard for reconcillation with someone who you felt was not following biblical guidelines with regard to their treatment, and subsequent excommunitcation of you. I’m glad you finally had a friend tell you that since your excommunication was not biblical you shouldn’t feel the need to meet any of their requirements. Furthermore, I’m certainly not against warning people about any wolf in sheep’s clothing – it does need to be done and I myself have warned people about preachers that I felt were not truly preaching the gospel. If all you say is true, then people do need to know that the church is not biblical in it’s treatment of people.
      I even understand your reluctance to accept that Mr. Phillips may be truly repentant in his confession. I’ve had people tell me that the pastor’s wife that instigated the problems in our previous church had subsequently come to the realization that she was not truly saved and had accepted Christ. In all honesty I will have to tell you that I find it hard to believe there is much of a change. I have met her a couple of times since then and she was still as stiff and curt as she ever was; never once admitting that what she did was wrong and that she was sorry for the horrible fallout that happened as a result. However, when speaking to others about her I’ve either just said that I was glad she got saved, or at most that I do hope she received salvation. I do not think I should question her sincerity with the general public and in my heart I do truly hope she is now saved.
      So in all, I will have to hope that Mr. Phillips repentance is heartfelt. I would say that if it had all happened to me (though I sincerely doubt I would have allowed that as long as you did) I wouldn’t so much be publically denouncing his repentance as I would be fervently hoping that it was genuine. Perhaps instead, saying that because of all he has done in the past we need to be cautious with regard to his statement but that we sincerely hope this entire mess has opened a door for God to work in his life, additionally hoping that this would allow him to begin to understand other areas of his life where his pride has caused problems for himself, his family, and his congregation (or for it’s former members).
      The only other area that I see as a problem with what you have posted about this particular issue is the post you made with regard to how someone in his position, with all the accountability he had in place (though in your story your husband apparantly did not think Mr. Phillips accountability was ever of a particularly effective type, and if what you say is true, it probably wasn’t) could have possibly been in a position where he even had the opportunity to sin in this manner. In that post you laid out, and denounced, several scenarios for how he could potentially have a chance to develope an emotional affair. Then you landed on the one scenario that you felt was the most plausible. You basically pointed a finger at who you felt had to be involved. This was totally wrong of you. Even if you are absolutely right, it would still have been wrong to even suggest it unless you are currently being directly impacted by this particular sin (and then you would know and wouldn’t need to speculate), and even then it should be handle privately, not publically. I’m sure the woman involved has much to correct in her life, and if she is, as you suggest, someone who’s involvement was a result of her familiy’s closeness, then more’s the pity because the environment that should have protected her failed to do so in their blindless devotion to this man and his family.

      • Jen Says:

        Rebecca, thank you for taking the time to read my story. I appreciate it. Since you describe that your pastor’s wife’s behavior is still the same after she professed to have changed, but you still see the same behavior in her, then perhaps you will understand that many of us who “know” Doug personally know that he is still being his same, slick self in this resignation statement. We see through the words to his heart.

        Why did we stay so long? In this type of church, it is not a church, it is family. The bond is SO tight-knit that it is very, very difficult to break and you can never go to a regular church again after an experience like that. There is really nowhere else to go. I wrote an article about what makes that type of church so different:


  8. DesiringToDiscern Says:

    WHY would an allegedly repentant man refer to his sin as ROMANTIC and AFFECTIONATE ? Just one clue here.

  9. Saved by grace Says:

    Jen, your comments sound very arrogant in God’s eyes… Only God searches out the hearts… We can never claim we know exactly what someone else is thinking or intending… As Christ’s followers, we have to give the benefit of the doubt to our neighbors… To claim that you hear him speak a certain tone or mean other than what is written is proud in itself… We are not God, He is the judge, not us, the finite creatures… Luke 6:38 says “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Proverbs 13:3 says “Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” James 3:5-6 says “In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. Our own tongue is our enemy. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” Matthew 18:34 says “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

    I do not know you personally , neither Doug except from his tapes. Nonetheless, I wonder what your intentions are… Are you stirring up a strife? If yes, God absolutely hates it. God throws away our sins into the sea abyss; are trying to pull them out back to the surface? Are trying to revenge Doug because you still have bitterness?

    You cannot be both: compassionate and enjoying one’s calamity. You cannot love God and hate your neighbor. We must desire our neighbor’s prosperity, not calamity. Prayer is always a more effective tool rather than our tongue. May we never become a judge!

  10. Julie Anne Says:

    It’s interesting that Jen seems to be the one on trial here. Folks, even if you remove Jen’s story AND the current non-Biblical-“know”- whatever-the-heck-that-means-lengthy-romantic-affair, there is plenty of rotten fruit if you do just a little searching.

    • Jen Says:

      Julie Anne, I would not be surprised to see even more stories come to light now. The threat seems a bit less now.

      • Julie Anne Says:

        Jen – I have been hearing more personal accounts since the story broke. I think you are right – this incident might encourage more people to come out and share their experiences.

  11. Teresa Says:

    I thought this was some great commentary about Doug Phillips and repentence

  12. Jo Says:

    A couple of things: First, I seriously doubt this has been Doug’s first ‘affair’. It didn’t just happen this first time and overnight, IMHO. Let’s see who comes forward and ‘confesses’. I speak from experience (i.e., my former husband’s behavior). Secondly, why in the world have you put up with this for so long? Good grief, it took my husband and I 6 weeks to spot error in our previous church and we LEFT and didn’t look back. It is now 5+ years later, and they have split and officially changed some doctrinal statements. Not surprised at all. Can’t you move across country, or at least across the state and be rid of this idiocy? Hey, if you should choose St. Louis, let me know, we can help! Get out of this heresy and forget it–and do it yesterday!

    • Jen Says:

      Jo, when we first began attending BCA, it was simply wonderful. None of these issues existed. But it began with four men leading, and as they each left, one by one, the church began to change gradually. When it got down to one man, of course, the church began to become more and more like Doug Phillips, but he was just beginning to become well known, so the more popular he became, the more he grew in pride. I actually don’t really fault him for that part, because that is the natural course of things when one becomes more and more famous.

      So, it was the proverbial frog in the pot sort of thing. There was never any of this kind of stuff in the beginning.

      I put this all behind me about five years ago, and only started writing about it again in the last week in connection with his resignation. I am LONG past this part of my life now. 🙂

      • Jo Says:

        Jen, I’m glad it’s in the past. Leave it there! I truly hope you have found a fellowship of believers who have their heads “screwed on straight”, and who have a pastor who faithfully preaches the Word (and only the Word), and rightly divides the Word…and understands the horrors of legalism….and upholds grace. We are all called to be Bereans who study and carefully examine what we are taught to see if it is truth….and who boldly challenge it when it’s not. BTW, my offer still stands about a recommendation in St. Louis! 🙂

        Jen, I’m being rather direct with you because—-my “baby” will be 50 years old next month, so I suspect I’m more than old enough to be your mother! Scripturally we are asked to listen to what the older godly women have to say. I know I do!! (Thank you, Louise!) Just to repeat again in another way, please be very discerning about how you are involved with this new issue. This guy could very well be going to jail.

        • Jen Says:

          Jo, I do try to be very careful. I have a certain purpose here, which has far more to do with helping others caught up in this whole mess, but that will take time.

          I have found other forms of fellowship where hypocrisy is not tolerated. 🙂

  13. Jen Says:

    Good post. As we judge we will be judged. Blessed are the merciful…..

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