Dear Chalcedon Foundation,
I concur with your admonishment that we not engage in “broad brush” argumentation, especially when making public statements in opposition to (and I would add in defense of) a doctrine or philosophical position, or for or against the person advancing that doctrine or philosophy. We all need to guard against confirmation biases which can so easily make fools of us all.
Whether I personally agree with them or not, I don’t care to see any person, or the organization they represent, be unjustly and dishonestly maligned. It’s no fun being on the receiving end of unjust public criticisms of our statements that have been disingenuously lifted out of context, such as you claim your organization is suffering from.
However, be grateful that you at least are being afforded the opportunity to defend yourself at Spiritual Sounding Board, a courtesy which we all deserve. Julie Anne Smith isn’t afraid to accept comments on her blog from anyone, including from those that she may strongly disagree with. Jen Epstein has the same liberal comment policy on this blog too, and your response to this article is most welcomed here.
Many of those who unjustly paint Chalcedon Foundation with a “broad brush”, as you claim, effectively blaming you for all the evils they believe have come from Christian Reconstructionism, Theonomy, Calvinism, Patriarchy, etc., may be doing so out of ignorance, as you assert. Or maybe they really do know what they’re talking about. I’ll come to that issue later and explain your only remedy to that, and if you handle it well I’m confident that many of your detractors will begin to see that there is little to nothing in common between Doug Phillips and R.J. Rushdoony, just as there is little to nothing in common between Calvinism and the straw man its detractors assail which is, in reality, Hyper-Calvinism.
Many are assuming that because Doug Phillips says he was heavily influenced by R.J. Rushdoony, ipso facto, Rushdoony bears personal responsibility for the horrific fruits of Doug Phillips’ life. I don’t buy that leap of logic. Doug Phillips was infinitely more influenced by his father, Howard. Anyone who knew Howard Phillips knows that Doug Phillips fell very far from the tree (as did Brad Phillips). Children can be a direct reflection of their parents, but quite often that’s not the case at all. We do the best job we can in training up our children in the way they should go, but not each of our children always turn out as they should. I have yet to see anyone (at least publicly) blame Howard Phillips for how two of his six children turned out. And does anyone blame R.C. Sproul Sr. for how R.C. Sproul Jr. turned out? How much less, then, is R.J. Rushdoony responsible for Doug Phillips, or anyone else who claims that Rushdoony influenced their thinking.
Justly or unjustly, Chalecedon Foundation has been blamed as the source — the fountainhead, of so-called “Biblical Patriarchy” as we’ve come to know it today, and as advanced by Wilson, Phillips, Sproul & Swanson (might make a great name for an 80’s rock band). Whether they care to now admit it or not (and most of them have admitted it in the past), each of these men have been influenced by the teachings of R.J. Rushdoony. But they’ve also been influenced by many others too.
As I see it, there are various shades and gradations of Patriarchy and, in my view, R.J. Rushdoony seems to have propounded a form of it that was on the “benevolent” end of the scale — much like we think of a kindly old grandfather. In my view Rushdoony was the epitome of that grandfatherly type and he eschewed prideful, power-hungry men. On the opposite end of the Patriarchy scale is an autocratic power-hungry form, or what I term Hyper-Patriarchy, that is best represented by Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr, and Kevin Swanson. Each of them is gifted, in varying degrees, with creating a public image of nice-guy; but the reputation they hold amongst those who have been under their “pastoral” care shows them to be ecclesiastical tyrants. As long as things are going rather smoothly, they can maintain the facade of nice guy, at least up until someone finds it necessary to challenge them about something. They have each hidden behind the cloak of pretended “accountability” which is, in fact, a small circle of hand-selected yes-men. Each of them have grasped after the seat of spiritual authority, and once they obtain it they abuse those under their authority. The label “Patriarchy” is another facade they hide behind, lending the needed appearance of “biblical legitimacy” to their authoritarian rule.
It seems to me that your organization should have been doing everything it could to distance itself from the Hyper-Patriarchs. To my knowledge it never has. I’m confident that if R.J. Rushdoony had been alive when the Christian home schooling movement started going off the rails (a movement which many credit Rushdoony as having been a founding father of) he would have publicly distanced himself from the young upstarts who co-opted it, most noteworthy among which are Doug Phillips, Kevin Swanson and R.C. Sproul Jr. These young men all saw an opportunity to cash in, and cash in they did. Doug Phillips, with his cunning business acumen and lawyerly skills, was able to cash in to the tune of millions of dollars per annum. Kevin Swanson and R.C. Sproul Jr. are comparatively inept and haven’t enriched themselves quite as handsomely, although they’ve still made a healthy living off of home schooling, and each have gathered a large and loyal following. They are The Home School Rock Star Band. They banded together and appointed themselves leaders of home schooling, a movement which theretofore had been autonomous and parent-directed, not unlike the home church movement.
These takeover artists were of a different breed from their forebears, men such as Raymond Moore, a man who truly deserved the title “The grandfather of Christian home education.” Unlike the young upstarts who came after him, Ray Moore wasn’t in it for the money, the notoriety, or to start his own cult group. He was a self-sacrificing man of God, as was R.J. Rushdoony who also sacrificed much as a pioneer of the modern home school movement.
In my view Rushdoony doesn’t deserve the guilt by association he’s been saddled with because of those corrupt men who came after him, men that he in no way trained or tutored, and yet these men claim him as the source of their theological inspiration. If I perceive Rushdoony’s views correctly, there is very little in common, other than the terms used (such as “Patriarchy”), between what he taught and practiced and what the Hyper-Patriarchs practice. That’s my perception, and I have good reason to believe it’s accurate.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that my perception is heavily informed based on what Chalcedon Foundation was during R.J. Rushdoony’s life, and not so much on what Chalcedon Foundation has become subsequent to his passing in 2001. Quite frankly I think your organization has done a poor job of carrying foreward the legacy of its founder, and what I’m about to say is a perfect example.
In 2007 your organization, via it’s communications director Christopher J. Ortiz, posted on its website In Defense of Doug Phillips to counter and put down Jen Epstein’s public warnings to the Christian home schooling community of the dangers of continuing their relationships with Doug Phillips. Chris Ortiz made no attempts to privately contact Jennifer prior to posting that article, although he did contact Doug Phillips, and even Matt Chancey. Hypocritically in that article, Chris Ortiz accuses Jen of being “one sided”, while making no attempt to get her side of the story. To his credit, Chris Ortiz did soon thereafter make his article go *POOF* from Chalcedon’s website. It was replaced with a much briefer article, but as Jen notes, with a “far more inflammatory and misleading title than the original article had”, Beware Agents Of Defamation. Jen saved both articles and posted them as, Chalcedon Foundation Back-Peddles On Defending Doug Phillips.
In a comment that Chris Ortiz posted in reply to Jen’s article he offers up as a defense, “We know Doug and VF. We were not aware of you and Mark (and this is not a fun way to meet!).” When we say “we know” someone in that sort of context, and with the sort of events that were transpiring at that time, it can only mean, “I vouch for this person’s character and integrity, and I’m so convinced of my position that I’m willing to publicly call you an ‘Agent Of Defamation’ and ‘irresponsible’.” Ortiz presumptuously and omnisciently dismisses Jen’s assertion, “We’re not motivated by vengeance. We’re motivated by a genuine concern for the well being of the Christian home school movement.” He dismissed the Allosaurus fakeumentary debacle, even though its public exposure as a fraud resulted in such a huge scandal that Doug Phillips immediately pulled it from his online catalog. Ortiz concludes In Defense of Doug Phillips with, “Mrs. Epstein has made a bold step in making these matters public. She better hope she’s right. The heavenly reciprocity may not be to her liking.”
Heavenly reciprocity? Now you’re sounding just as threatening as Doug Wilson. I’m confident R.J. Rushdoony would have never spoken like that. Rather than invoking divine threats, I’ll merely speak of personal responsibility. Your dismissiveness of the Epsteins’ charges provided cover for an ecclesiastical tyrant who had already destroyed the lives of many families, including the faith of many small children (see Mark 9:42, Matt 18:6) who have fled the Christian faith altogether. With your repudiation of the Epsteins’ public warning, and a public endorsement of Doug Phillips, you further empowered him to continue his abuses, at least up until just this past month, all based on a fatuous claim that you “knew” the man. You knew nothing.
You were at least correct about one thing: “Mrs. Epstein has made a bold step.” She is indeed bold, and she is courageous. Jennifer Epstein was out on the front lines seven years prior to Doug Phillips’ current sex scandal, warning the Christian home school community that Douglas W. Phillips is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That took an incredible amount of courage to go up against a man with the immense resources Doug Phillips had at his disposal. Jen was a mere home school mother going up against a very popular religious leader and attorney with millions of dollars at his disposal. He was supposedly “known,” but all anyone knew of Jen was that she had been forever tainted with “Excommunication.” The obstacles that Jennifer Epstein has had to overcome in order to bring the home school community’s attention to this wolf in sheep’s clothing have been enormous. Tragically, most, like Chalcedon Foundation, chose to remain blissfully ignorant and ignore the warning signs.
But a sex scandal isn’t so easily ignored, especially a sex scandal that was taking place for years, and throughout the entire time Douglas W. Phillips was lecturing and preaching to us about multi-generational faithfulness, Christian morality, marital fidelity, husbands loving their wives, fathers setting good examples for their sons, etc. We’ve all seen examples of hypocrisy in the church, but rare have been examples where the hypocrisy has arisen to this level.
Chris Ortiz and Chalcedon Foundation, you couldn’t have been more wrong. You didn’t “know” Doug Phillips at all. He was cheating on his wife at that very time in 2007 when you came to his public defense, and even long before that. If you were wrong about that you should really consider going back and reevaluating everything else you’d assumed about him. It would also be wise to carefully evaluate those men who claim to be carrying the mantle of R.J. Rushdoony but, who in reality, are merely using it as a pretext to abuse their authority. Jen called on you over 6 years ago to show your loyalties to the Christian home schooling movement by distancing yourself from Doug Phillips. You ignored those pleas and gave him cover instead. In the future I trust you’ll be far more careful before you stake your reputation on a man that you’ve been warned about. Warnings of that nature shouldn’t be so flippantly brushed aside.
Whether you like it or not you do face a guilt by association image problem, and you are largely responsible for it. You’re an educational ministry, yet you’ve failed to effectively educate on this issue, and there’s only one way to fix it. Please consider embarking on a thorough study and exposé of “Patriarchy” as it is espoused and practiced by Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, R.C. Sproul Jr, Kevin Swanson, James McDonald, and others of their ilk. Then publish it as a report, as you have done with so many other important topics. The fact that you have failed to do so gives many the impression that you may agree with these “Patriarchs” (silence is acquiescence).
To my knowledge, Jen Epstein was the first to launch into a diligent survey of the “Biblical Patriarchy” espoused by Doug Phillips. Her multi-part series motivated other home school moms to do the same, moms just like her with no formal theological training. Even with her lack of formal training, Jen soon discovered that the so-called biblical support Doug Phillips claimed for his positions were largely bible verses taken completely out of context. She soon had completely collapsed Doug Phillips house of Patriarchy cards. But where was the leadership of organizations like Chalcedon Foundation at the time, and why the silence on this vital subject since then? If you continue with this silence it can only be interpreted that Chalcedon Foundation is on board with Doug Phillips and the Hyper-Patriarchs.
You were given a golden opportunity in 2007 and you completely blew it. Don’t pass up a second opportunity. As a courtesy I will send your organization an email notifying you of this article. Your comments here are welcomed.
Lastly, if you have a mind to issue some sort of retraction, or apology, or some other statement distancing yourself from Douglas W. Phillips, you might want to do so sooner than later. The sex scandal is just…
November 19, 2013 at 10:59 pm
TW, first, thank you for being a guest author here. You have some very insightful thoughts and commentary regarding Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, as you have consistently demonstrated in the comments here, but this article is extremely well put together, articulating both the history of Chalcedon and its founder, R.J. Rushdoony, as well as their need to be a bit more discerning in who and what they endorse. I am all for being cautious in not rushing to judgment against others, but there are also times when our ears should perk up a bit and we should do a little digging of our own to ferret out truth.
This is simply an outstanding article! Thank you for pointing out that since Chalcedon rests on the shoulders of R.J. Rushdoony, that they should consider returning to his level of character and integrity, as well as reviewing his beliefs and teachings on both the Bible and homeschooling and Christian life. I hope he is not turning over in his grave as he sees how far removed from his thinking the patriarchy movement has since come.
Sometimes we just need to get back to basics.
November 20, 2013 at 3:11 am
Dear T.W. Eston and Jen Epstein,
Thank you for extending an invitation to have the Chalcedon Foundation address the issues you’ve raised in your thoughtful essay above.
For the record, I am the Vice President of the Chalcedon Foundation and the editor for Faith for All of Life. I’m also Chalcedon’s Resident Scholar (which stretches the concept of residence to include the distance between California and Texas). These are all unpaid positions: I donate all my time to Chalcedon, including almost all of my vacation days. I am currently a software engineer, having left the field of optical physics in 2008.
Also for the record, I first met Dr. Rushdoony in 1980 and began writing for Chalcedon’s technical journal in 1982. I’m no Johnny-Come-Lately to the Foundation, and can speak with some authority on Chalcedon’s behalf in regard to the matters you’ve laid out so clearly. It’s been said (perhaps with some justification) that nobody was in closer theological agreement with Dr. Rushdoony than myself. For this reason it was rumored that I was Dr. Rushdoony’s handpicked successor. The perpetuation of the rumor, which is quite false, represented my first personal encounter with the reality-distortion-field dominating the internet (pace, Steve Jobs). Theology had become a contact sport requiring me to leave my comfort zone (the Greek and Hebrew of the Scriptures) and step into a kitchen hotter than a reactor meltdown.
So here I am, once more in that kitchen, this time by cordial invitation. I am very humbled and will measure my words carefully. I will reveal something below that has never been publicly revealed before that will put some concerns expressed in the above article in a very different light. I pray that what follows below will be edifying to all who read it.
First, I must say that I find myself in strong agreement with the vast majority of T.W. Eston’s article, which was insightful and irenic, even when posing some fairly strong challenges. Second, the question of Chalcedon’s integrity has come up. In light of the limited evidence presented in the article, it might appear at first that there are excellent reasons to question its integrity.
I don’t believe that light is adequate for viewing the whole story, however. Here is why.
T.W. Eston believes that Chalcedon’s work since R. J. Rushdoony’s passing has been subpar, that we’ve dropped the ball and failed to set the record straight on the Patriarchy question in general, and on Doug Phillips in particular. The first charge implies that Chalcedon has been silent on this major issue. This is incorrect. The cover story in the March-April 2010 Faith for All of Life was entitled “Patriarchy and Feminism.” You can read it on-line by signing up for a free account at http://www.chalcedon.edu (your email address remains confidential and will never be revealed or sold to anyone). Click on Faith for All of Life at top, then on Archived Issues at left, then navigate to the March-April 2010 issue. You will see that the perspective presented in that article, premised on Rushdoony’s works, conflicts significantly with modern Patriarchy teachings in many particulars. (Also see Andrea Schwartz’s article, “Loyal Opposition,” in the July-August 2013 issue of Faith for All of Life, for an analysis you won’t likely hear from any Patriarchalists.)
Even more telling is the feature article, “Liberty From Abuse,” posted November 16, 2013 on the home page of Chalcedon’s website. Its impact is continuing to grow due to its timeliness. That article was originally intended for publication in Faith for All of Life’s Jan.-Feb. 2014 issue, but its relevance to current events was strong enough to warrant a full preview of its contents at this link (no login or account needed to see this one):
You will note the accompanying photo in the article showing me conducting some of my research in February 2010 while collaborating with the victim of abuse. I had started that research even earlier, in the spring of 2008. I point this out to say, I didn’t just jump on the abused victims bandwagon last week. I’m collaborating on a long-term project in regard to abuse suffered by a real victim. The intent of my article was to set forth the biblical sanctions that must be exacted following abuse of any sheep by a shepherd. Apparently, nobody has dealt with that situation from this angle before. The germ of this article was disclosed in that earlier 2010 essay on “Patriarchy and Feminism,” footnote 22, where I had laid out the source text setting forth the biblical sanctions for abuse.
I would think that T.W. Eston will find these two articles to be gratifying, perhaps sufficiently so as to permit him to reverse his original assessment that Chalcedon’s output after Rushdoony’s death has been a colossal failure, especially in regard to these particular issues. (Note also that Rushdoony left a third of his writings unpublished at his death because of his zero-debt policy. One of our major priorities over the last twelve years was getting his valuable works into print posthumously. It isn’t necessarily reasonable to decree what a ministry’s work is supposed to cover. If I had a list of fifty different hot-button issues, all valid and worthy in themselves, advocates for each could charge we’re not covering their particularly issue adequately: nobody would ever be happy with Chalcedon. It’s a situation one lives with when the needs are huge and play out over a culture-wide canvas, but the resources are limited.)
If you carefully read the two links I shared above, you might find that we make up in quality what we arguably might lack in quantity. With six issues a year divided between as many writers, we cannot and do not cover everything. (To see the folly of trying to cover everything, see Rushdoony’s essay on “Titanism” in his book, “The Roots of Reconstruction.” Chalcedon isn’t perfect, but we’re willing to make bricks without straw until we pass out.)
The remaining sticking point is T.W. Eston’s citation of Rev. Chris Ortiz’s 2007 web posts concerning Jen Epstein’s work. The sting in Eston’s critique lies in identifying Rev. Ortiz with Chalcedon, who at the time served as editor of Faith for All of Life (my current post). I do not honestly know whether T.W. Eston or Jen Epstein are right in surmising the reasoning process behind the two consecutive posts, or in their speculation as to why the longer one was pulled from the website. Rev. Ortiz can certainly speak for himself.
But perhaps Rev. Ortiz was at a disadvantage because he may not have been aware of something that, until right now, has never been publicly revealed. While I’m uncertain of the consequences of revealing that hitherto undisclosed event, I have concluded that if ever there was a time to reveal it, today is the day. I had always thought it would remain unknown, since the Proverbs teach that “a wise man concealeth a matter.” T.W. Eston’s reaching out to Chalcedon made me change my mind. Perhaps, then, the following account will cast the entire situation in a substantially new light.
This concerns the matter of Joe Taylor’s work on the allosaur fossil. Most everyone on this blog has heard stories of what took place, has heard or read reports of immeasurable harm being inflicted on Taylor and his museum by actions spearheaded by Doug Phillips.
What you don’t know is that Joe Taylor is a personal friend of mine, and was a good friend to R. J. Rushdoony as well. Joe designed the logo for my father’s graphics company back in the early 1980s, and was the artistic director for Chalcedon’s seminal Conference on the Media and the Arts held in Sacramento, California October 12-13, 1983. Both Joe and I presented lectures at the conference: his lecture title (which now seems ironic in light of the allosaur fiasco) was “The Laborer is Worthy of His Hire.” Joe Taylor was one of the most honest, devout men I’ve ever known. He has been a strong supporter of Chalcedon for years.
Consequently, when the legal burdens surrounding the allosaur debacle began to rise beyond Joe’s ability to mount a proper defense, he put out the call for help. He was asking, in effect, for people to help him defend his museum against Doug Phillips. He stood to lose everything.
As Vice President of Chalcedon at the time, I took this issue to President Mark Rushdoony and we decided it was morally incumbent upon us to offer Joe Taylor what help we could against the legal onslaught he was facing. On the condition that Joe never reveal the source of the money to anyone, Chalcedon sent him an “officially anonymous” check for $5,000 (which we really didn’t have to give) to help Joe defend himself against the legal assault Doug Phillips had initiated. This proverbial “gift in secret” remained so until the moment this paragraph was posted here on this site.
I will only entertain criticism about the anonymity of our gift to Joe from individuals or groups who provided Joe with more financial support in his battle against Doug Phillips than we sent to him. We materially helped Joe where it counted. Objections concerning precisely how we “lifted up his hands when they grew weary” are gambits to gain cheap virtue and nothing more.
Now, I was invited to post here because Chalcedon’s integrity has been challenged: why didn’t Chalcedon ever oppose Doug Phillips? Why didn’t Chalcedon lift a finger against him, or deal with patriarchy or abuse, or stand in the gap to help anyone needing to defend themselves against the actions that Mr. Phillips was taking?
The truth is found in the article links I provided above. The truth can also be seen in Chalcedon’s checkbook register. You can ask Joe Taylor for the truth. I hereby release him from silence on the source of the aid provided him against Doug Phillips’s legal assault against him.
Let it no longer be said that Chalcedon sat idly by and squandered its integrity by simply giving Doug Phillips a pass, or looking the other way. The executive committee of Chalcedon acted swiftly (that check went out by Express Mail on the day we learned of Joe’s crisis). Chalcedon acted with integrity. Chalcedon acted as R. J. Rushdoony would have expected the foundation to act.
So, now back to the present. My published work on the key topics mentioned above speak for themselves. I invite all to read them, especially “Liberty from Abuse.” I think you’ll find Chalcedon way out in front and leading the way on this crucial issue, rather than being dragged unwillingly into it.
And isn’t that the best evidence for integrity?
— Martin G. Selbrede
November 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm
You suggest it should no longer be said that Chalcedon sat back and gave Doug Phillips a pass because Chalcedon gave money to help a friend fight a lawsuit. And because they have helped a victim of spiritual abuse. I find “Liberty from Abuse” a compelling and inspiring article, but I would not say it gives Chalcedon claim to being out in the front and leading the way in this issue. I would say I’m glad Chalcedon is finally catching up. You’re in the middle of the pack. The very fact that Chalcedon was so quick to jump yo Doug Phillips’ defense when Jen first brought her story to light is a perfect example of how far behind the organization is – that was just a few years ago. And again, I realize that you are now making your position very clear, but Jen’s story is such a classic story of spiritual abuse and one many would have recognized when hearing it in the 90s.
I don’t believe giving money to a friend to fight someone you may have once been connected to is an example at all, to be honest. If you had giventhe money to Jen in 2007, or even listened to her side of story, I might be a little more impressed.
November 21, 2013 at 8:27 am
Your assessment seems morally confusing to me. You’re basically saying something like this: Had Joe Taylor not been a friend, Chalcedon’s action would count as assisting a victim of Doug Phillips’ attack, but because Joe was a friend, he’s really not a legitimate victim worthy of assistance, and Chalcedon’s motives are therefore tainted. Had Chalcedon repulsed Joe’s cry for help (“Sorry, Joe, you’re a friend. We can’t help you — our motives could be impugned nine years from now. Be warmed and comforted”), and had instead withheld that money and waited several more years until Jen Epstein had become victimized and then assisted her, THAT would be something that counts with you. I don’t really understand this, since the ethical chain requires invalidating Joe as a victim for it to get off the ground. Imagine this dubious parallel: “So what if Jesus raised Lazarus? Lazarus was his friend. I’m not impressed by such obvious cronyism.”
Switching gears here. Let me offer a better context for asserting that Chalcedon was “out in front,” because in the context you provided, I would surely agree with you (we’re middle of the pack at best). Where I think Chalcedon is out in front is in laying out an important sanction from Scripture against abusive shepherds. In the grim world of clergy abuse, we still see all sorts of prescriptions for how such leaders should be/can be restored to power. Anyone holding to the view they should never again hold power are deemed to be unforgiving and arbitrary — “Where’s scriptural support for THAT?” Virtually nobody thought the Bible addressed this issue, so everybody hunted for inferences and implications that were inconclusive. Admittedly, this is only one facet of a massive problem, but it was a facet that needed to be addressed. There’s nothing innovative in pulling together a scriptural proof (earlier scholars knew of it), but there is something liberating about knowing and applying it in the present day.
We freely grant that there are many veterans in the spiritual abuse wars, as you note when alluding to the era of the 1990s. R. J. Rushdoony’s posthumously published book, “The Cure of Souls,” details spiritual abuse cases going back to the 1960s and earlier. Instead of each of us asking the other, “What took you so long?” we should instead shake hands and say, “Glad you’re in this battle with us!”
November 20, 2013 at 4:07 am
It’s late, but I wanted to at least approve your post as soon as I saw it. I need to get to bed, so this reply is brief. In summation, overall I’m pleased by what you’ve communicated here. This is a good start.
I will take the time to review the articles you’ve mentioned here. My hope is that they will adequately address the issues I’ve raised here. Should that be the case I hope they can form the basis of countering the rampant abuses of authority being justified under the name “Patriarchy.”
I’m especially pleased to know that you’ve devoted so much time to the subject of abuse. When convenient for you, please specify here what form(s) of abuse you’re speaking of.
November 20, 2013 at 9:31 am
Martin Selbrede is correct. I can now acknowledge that Chalcedon did send me a check for $5,000 to help in my defense against Doug Phillip’s legal assault on me beginning in 2002. Martin and I have been, and remain, friends since the late 70s. He is a good man. We have worked on graphic projects together such as the Conference On The Media and arts 1982. I sat under R.J. Rushdonney’s teaching, spent time in his home and illustrated his book cover Law & Liberty. He was an intelligent but plain spoken man, working to deal with the problems of modern life. I have said many times that Doug Phillips was not applying the real intent of Rushdooney’s positions.
Doug had other influences. In the early 80s, Robert Green and I began discussing the need to help men recover their God-given responsibility to lead and train their families. Robert subsequently published his excellent magazine “Quit You Like Men” for which Doug Phillips was a writer. I believe that they usually got negative reactions to Doug’s articles. Nevertheless, Doug went on to make a lot of money on the premise of “patriarchy” although, misued in his hands.
Nor was Doug the first to see the need for a magazine and organization that would help the early homeschool movement network and be a source for home education resources. In 1986, I flew to Georgia to lay the groundwork for just such ideas with Steve Schiffman, for whom I also designed “The American Vision” logo consisting of three Pilgrim kids (the models were kids I was helping raise). I have often wondered if my “Norman Rockwell” style and the name “The American Vision” was any influence on Doug’s choice of the name for his organization and it’s “Rockwell” style.
Starting in 2002, and repeatedly through 2008 I tried to warn not only Chalcedon, but ICR, AiG, and others in the home school, Creation, and American Heritage movements about Doug and his partners. The legal problems riuned my health and business, the most active Creation fossil excavation, restoration and research team in all of Creation circles. Doug bragged that his group of little homeschool kids took paleontology away from the secular world. In fact he destroyed it. What a wonderful work we could have all done together with Doug’s brilliant mind, business ability and his contacts with wealthy Christians. By now, instead of Creation feild paleontology being severely crippled, it could have blossomed and been responsible for the start of several new fossil evidence museums, films and publications not to mention the training of numerous laborers in the feild.
I am glad Doug has made public (Oct. 2013) his stated desire to reconcile with those whom he has injured. Keep going Doug. See what God will do.
November 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm
Joe, has Doug Phillips contacted you yet to reconcile his wrongs against you?
November 20, 2013 at 4:55 pm
I have not heard from Doug.
November 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm
Joe, when you do, then I will start to believe he is truly sincere about repenting.
November 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm
Jen, have you or the Gavins heard from Doug?
November 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm
Very soon after learning about Doug’s resignation I called Joe and talked to him about it. I figured that if some sins were really being revealed, then he would have to reconcile with Joe. Unfortunately at the the time he had not. However when you threaten as many people as Doug did, it may take awhile…
November 27, 2013 at 4:22 pm
Doug has not contacted me. I sent him a second polite note with all of my contact addresses and phone numbers by registered mail. I received the notification of delivery Mon. Nov 25, 2013. Someone else signed for it, so I’m not certain if Doug got it or not.
November 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm
Joe, I’m assuming you must have sent the letter to Vision Forum, not his home, since no one but Doug would sign for it at his home (he controls all mail received at the home which, BTW, would make it impossible for anyone to contact Beall at this point, especially since Doug doesn’t permit her have a cell phone).
You might want to consider writing Doug at his home address (at least until he’s moved out by year’s end):
Douglas Winston Phillips
200 South Canada Verde
San Antonio, TX 78232
November 27, 2013 at 7:04 pm
You know, TW, this may be the first time in nearly twenty years when Doug does not have interns and employees to intercept legal service and certified/registered mail for him.
Joe, this will only last for one month, at the most. Send it NOW, if you truly want to reach out to him one more time.
November 27, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Brandon, if I were Doug, and I had hurt as many people as he has, I might start by mending fences with those who are the most vocal and cause the most harm to his ability to continue to protect his reputation.
November 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm
Joe, I just now saw your previous comment to me asking if Doug has contacted me. I apologize for missing that comment, but the answer is “No.” Like you, if Doug is serious about repenting, he will come to both you and me. He doesn’t need to worry about saving face anymore, so if he is truly repentant, it will be obvious.
November 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm
Joe: does the dissolving of Vision Forum Ministries release you from the non-disparagement clause?
November 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm
What is funny, and I don’t know if this was ever mentioned in any of the coverage regarding the Allosaur, was that Doug was not actually a party of the original agreement, meaning he did not sign it. So here was a man who was protected from “defamation” in an agreement between Joe Taylor and Pete DeRosa. Not sure how that was a fair deal.
November 27, 2013 at 4:25 pm
Shawn, I’m not sure what the status of Doug is re: non-disparagement.
November 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm
I heard from a first party that Howard Phillips stated that the way to get ahead was to identify the concerns of the culture and then find the ‘crowd’ where the clamor is and jump to the head of the movement. I believe at least his two boys took this to heart.
November 20, 2013 at 3:06 pm
According to those who helped Howard Phillips get on the presidential ballot in Texas, his method was to get on whatever badwagon was popular. After the home school movement became a financial market is when Doug entered the scene.
November 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm
Joe, I am not opposed to people making money legitimately. That’s a good thing. What I am opposed to is people bullying and threatening others, stealing from others, and using other unethical means to make money at another’s expense, such as what Doug Phillips did to you. And I am adamantly opposed to a ministry leader not practicing what he preaches.
November 20, 2013 at 3:50 pm
Randy, I agree with that to the extent that we walk our talk. 🙂
November 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm
Making money is a good thing, making it wrongly is not.
November 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm
I remember QYLM ! Thank you for sharing here in this forum Mr Taylor (and Mr Eston and Mr Selbrede)
We received a second (exact copy of the first sent days before) email yesterday from VF Inc … Get A FREE Catalog Your Boys Will Love….(full color encouragement to get the FREE catalog from a competitor, J M Cremps) Meanwhile back at VF …35% Off All In-Stock Items – This Week Only! What is up here? Very similar to the beginnings of VF in style and purpose it seems. The owners seem to be a nice family. Is there an association here?
November 20, 2013 at 3:54 pm
One thing I do know, DesiringToDiscern, is that Doug Phillips knows full well the value of an email database and he is making a very bold financial move in this supposedly magnanimous advertising for a competitor.
November 22, 2013 at 12:45 pm
that should give you a huge indicator as to what’s ahead for the future of VF and it’s not good
November 20, 2013 at 2:32 pm
TW Eston — I read with interest your comments at Doug Wilson’s blog and also here. (You did an almost perfect job over there of remaining diplomatic and civil, in my opinion, well done.) I was interested to see that you fully include his name (Doug Wilson’s that is) in this article alongside the other names. I would understand concerns simply on the fact that he is speaking approvingly of ‘patriarchy’ but in your comments on his blog you inform him that he just doesn’t understand with what Phillips et al have loaded that term. I haven’t read any of these men’s writings extensively at all but from what I have seen of all of them, there is a very big difference in the level of grace and accountability in the “Wilson world” than the other. I am not trying to be all-knowing or provocative, just asking if you really fully intended to include him here and how much experience with him and/or his writing you base that on. I’ve benefited greatly from the writings of his wife and daughters, though I don’t nearly agree with them in every theological point. I’ve recommended and passed them on to others. I’m not at all convinced to stop doing that yet but need to think it over and would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!
November 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm
Cara, if you look no further than what Doug Wilson has preached and published you might be thoroughly charmed by him. Many have. But Doug Wilson is every bit the silver tongued devil as Doug Phillips. Both men are eloquent and both men are ecclesiastical tyrants. I look not so much to what a man says as to what he does.
You won’t have to search far on the internet to find numerous examples of Wilson’s extreme abuses of authority and the atrocious example of the gospel of Christ that he’s been right in his own Moscow, Idaho.
November 20, 2013 at 9:33 pm
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
November 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm
Maybe VF is trying to make us think there is an association with J M Cremps. Or maybe one is trying to buy the other. Just guesses.
November 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm
I am glad this information has come forth. I ran across the Allosaur story back in 2007 but could not verify beyond the claims of a few unverifiable websites.
For those wanting the articles referenced above without signing-up with Chalcedon: here you go:
November 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm
Shawn, the Joe Taylor you see commenting here today is the man Doug Phillips defrauded in the allosaurus scandal.
November 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm
Jen: Thank you, I see that.
Joe: does the dissolving of Vision Forum Ministries release you from the non-disparagement clause?
November 20, 2013 at 10:26 pm
Shawn, there was a person who was impersonating Joe Taylor at one point when this all first came to light, so I wanted to verify that he is the real Joe Taylor. 🙂
November 21, 2013 at 10:18 am
Jen, I have some recollection of that. Joe wasn’t the only victim of malicious impersonations. There were numerous impersonations taking place throughout much of that time in 2007 when you were telling your stories exposing Doug Phillips’ ecclesiastical tyrannies and abuses. You also were repeatedly impersonated in comments on various other blogs, as was Mark, your daughter Natasha, Brandon Geromini, and others. In the backdrop of the numerous blogs that had been set up by Doug Phillips’ interns to attack you, it was more than obvious — in fact it was a dead giveaway — who the impersonators were. Their comment writing style was every bit as juvenile as that contained in their blogs.
Add to this the stories of bloggers who received personal visits from Doug’s interns, dressed up in black-suited Mafia apparel, complete with the dark sunglasses and black hats, muttering Mafia-esque threats in Mafia-esque accents, and you have the real story of Doug Phillips’ Intern training program.
I personally knew two of the people who received such visits. In one case the man was yanked out of his church service one Sunday morning by Doug’s Mafia-boy impersonators (talk about desecrating the Sabbath!). The experience left the man so shaken that he immediately took down his blog that had been exposing Doug Phillips’ hypocrisies. The other man immediately removed all his Doug Phillips’ articles from his blog and even endorsed Matt Chancey’s Mrs. Binoculars screedblog as “investigative journalism.”
The real Doug Phillips is exactly the opposite of the nice-guy public image that he’s so carefully crafted.
BTW, the avatar that I selected for myself is meant as a bit of satire on Doug’s Mafia boys 😉
November 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm
Chalcedon dropped the ball! Plain and simple!
November 21, 2013 at 8:02 am
Jane, you are quite correct.
November 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm
T.W. Eston, I like you. Various reasons run through my head, but the main one is that you thoroughly articulate what needs to stated, and in such a plausible manner. I believe that you have full credibility, for there are pieces of the Doug Phillips puzzle that you are aware of that match perfectly with mine. Thank you for sharing and lending further information and clarity to the issues at hand. These things need to be shouted from the rooftop,
November 21, 2013 at 9:07 am
I’m grateful that you took the time to respond here. The disclosure of Chalcedon Foundation’s donation to Joe Taylor’s legal defense against Doug Phillips is invaluable to know. That donation was a very noble thing to do and, quite frankly, your disclosure took my breath away — but only briefly.
Swearing Joe to secrecy over the donation would, under ordinary circumstances, be no cause for raising eyebrows. I myself have made donations where I required the recipient to maintain confidence. We all have legitimate reasons for doing so, even biblical ones (Matt 6:3). However, this was no ordinary circumstance. While being a noble act it does, at the same time, raise eyebrows.
Prior to making such a generous donation one can only assume that, at the very least, you got Joe’s side of the story. More than likely you also got Doug’s side of the story. It couldn’t have escaped your attention that Doug Phillps defrauded Joe Taylor and then subsequently sued him in an attempt to permanently ruin him. Doug’s predatory litigiousness came very close to accomplishing that very thing.
Doug Phillips’ vicious, duplicitous and reprehensible behavior, indeed his very character, could not have escaped your attention. Nevertheless, your organization, through your spokesperson Chris Ortiz, subsequently expended considerable effort in publicly defending this same scoundrel. Call me dense, but none of this is adding up.
You close your comment above with, “And isn’t that the best evidence for integrity?” As you well know, “integrity” is defined as “The quality or condition of being whole or undivided.” One can’t help but see that when it came to its relationship with Doug Phillips, Chalcedon Foundation was anything but integrated. You were divided in the extreme, playing both sides.
I will allow for the fact that “But perhaps Rev. Ortiz was at a disadvantage because he may not have been aware…” Surely he’s aware now, is he not? Why is Chris Ortiz not here answering for his actions?
If Chris Ortiz wasn’t aware then it was a major internal communications blunder on your organization’s part, and an apology is due Jen. If he was aware, and he acted anyway in defending Doug Phillips, he should have, at the very least, been severely reprimanded, and an even bigger apology is due Jen.
A $5,000 donation to Joe Taylor’s legal defense is laudable, but it in no way relates to the immediate topic. A $5,000 donation to Joe Taylor’s legal defense in no way makes up for the harm that your organization is directly responsible for in having given its imprimatur to a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
“Rev. Ortiz can certainly speak for himself.” So why hasn’t he? I’ve waited some time before posting this reply in hopes that he would. His failure to make an appearance here is the only reason I found it now necessary to say these things.
November 21, 2013 at 11:10 am
T.W. Eston, the last time I checked, Rev. Ortiz is not currently an employee of the Chalcedon Foundation, and hasn’t been an employee for several years. I think he will have to speak for himself. In light of his independent status, I’m not sure what mechanism you think I should used to make him appear here, but I’m open to hear it.
If I left it at that, my response above would be tantamount to passing the buck, i.e., a cop-out. Distinctions about who knew what and when, who did what and when, sound like finger-pointing (even if there’s merit in the distinctions). While Dr. Rushdoony specifically warned against the immoral practice of “confessing the sins of others,” it seems to me that it is legitimate to apologize for any harm caused by posts published by former Chalcedon principals. This I hereby offer as Chalcedon’s Vice President.
That said, please know that the “official position” of Chalcedon on any matter is solely to be found in the writings of Dr. Rushdoony, in the position papers that I’ve compiled and posted, or in my own writings for Chalcedon as its Resident Scholar. Further, note that while he was alive, Dr. Rushdoony published countless articles from scholars with whom he disagreed. He was interested in the free play of ideas, regarding this as important for stimulating further discussion and application of Scripture. This is a freedom, within the bounds of Biblical orthodoxy, extended to our contributing writers to the present day.
That means that not everything posted reflects “Chalcedon’s official position.” You see, we have the choice of either stifling every article that isn’t in lockstep on all points with our position, or publishing them under a disclaimer. Our founder preferred the latter course, choosing not to quench the Spirit. If you find the use of a disclaimer disingenuous, the alternative is to shut Chalcedon down immediately, for no scholar would tolerate the resulting ideological tyranny. If we all see through a glass darkly, the enforced uniformity option would reflect the height of presumption.
Let’s move on to another point you made. At the time Joe Taylor approached us, I had never met nor spoken with Doug Phillips (something that didn’t happen several years later). I based my actions on (1) knowledge of Joe Taylor and his museum, and (2) having read the legal proceedings, pro and con, that were faxed to me to assess (that mass of pages overheated my fax machine, there was so much of it).
November 21, 2013 at 12:27 pm
Martin, I can’t accept your apology on Jen’s behalf (although I did presume to ask for one on her behalf). So I’ll leave it to her to accept your apology, should she choose to do so (no doubt she will).
Thank you for the clarifications you’ve provided here. They’ve been most helpful. I’ll have a follow up comment shortly to resolve one or two as yet unresolved matters.
November 21, 2013 at 11:44 am
[…] 20, the vice-president of the Christian organization, Chalcedon Foundation, Martin Selbrede,responded online to an open letter alleging that Chalcedon defended Doug Phillips in spite of known past […]
November 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm
Martin, having read the article you referenced, I have to say that, on the whole, it’s up to snuff with Chalcedon’s scholarly standards, and I also largely agree with it. However, it doesn’t address the original issue that I raised herein: the problem of guilt by association. I don’t believe that guilt is deserved but, nevertheless, it is pervasive and it is widely asserted by both proponents and antagonists of “Biblical Patriarchy.” R.J. Rushdoony is widely attributed (or blamed) as the father of Biblical Patriarchy and is, therefore, presumed immediately responsible for all its attendant evils widely evidenced in the home school community today. Those evils are pervasive and devastating in their impact. Because of Rushdoony’s development of Christian Reconstructionism it is widely believed that it too is directly responsible for the abuses of authority vis-a-vis Dominion Theology.
In my view there is a vast difference between the Patriarchy (and Reconstructionism) espoused and practiced by R.J. Rushdoony and that which is espoused and practiced by the abusive Hyper-Patriarchs I have named. I specify “and practiced” because what is generally taught by these men, which admittedly does come close (at least in places) to Rushdoony’s teachings, is vastly different from what they actually practice and what Rushdoony practiced, both in their homes, in their churches/cults, and in their ministries. Abuse of every kind is rampant in their circles of influence, and abuse of any kind is something that I’m confident Rushdoony would publicly confront, and he would do so by naming names.
In your article you do name Doug Phillips. However in naming him you are only doing so over a rather inconsequential theological point that has no bearing on this discussion. Patriarchy is not a license to exercise authority abusively, whether in the home, in the church, in ministry, in business, or anywhere else. However, abuse is rampant today amongst the most visible promoters of Patriarchy. They each offer assurances to women that what they espouse has certain checks and balances, e.g. if a wife is abused in any way by her husband she should go to her church elders for redress. However, in far too many cases when those women have done so they are then subjected to emotional and spiritual abuse by those same elders and told to go back and quietly submit to and pray for their abusive husbands. Or in the case of husbands who have abusive wives who go to their elders, they will likely be told to “Man up” and, in some cases “Discipline your wife” (code language, by at least one of those I’ve named, for “Christian wife-spanking”), thereby furthering the cycle of abuse.
I’ve been willing to name names here (albeit there are others that can be named, as well), but my influence is trivial in comparison to that of Chalcedon Foundation. Others, such as Midwest Christian Outreach have named names of various Patriarchalists, including Doug Phillips). However, I don’t believe a “cult-watch” ministry like Midwest Christian Outreach is what is needed for the task at hand.
To restate: “Please consider embarking on a thorough study and exposé of “Patriarchy” as it is espoused and practiced by Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, R.C. Sproul Jr, Kevin Swanson, James McDonald, and others of their ilk. Then publish it as a report, as you have done with so many other important topics.”
November 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm
The Patricarchy movement has gotten a black eye from Doug Phillips, and so has the idea of a Dominion Mandate. I don’t believe R. J. Rushdooney meant for Christians to take away ideas, property, and etc. from other Christians, by legal force even, in order to take dominion of this world.
December 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm
Well said, Joe. I wish more people who really understood both would speak up and set the record straight. Most are too busy being patriarchs and taking dominion to defend it on the Net.
November 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm
Last night I came to the conclusion that our usual vehicles for distributing that kind of information are inadequate to the magnitude of this long-running crisis.
Noticing a copy of the Journal of Christian Reconstruction nearby, I remembered that Chalcedon has always intended to resume publishing that periodical (it’s been in hiatus for fifteen years after a quarter-century of production). That publication was geared to direct focus onto a single issue. I thought that a Symposium on Spiritual Abuse would be an excellent first issue to put out in 2014, pulling contributions from key sources, all directed toward developing a constructive solution to a growing problem. That could then be followed by a Symposium on Patriarchy and Feminism. These two consecutive volumes would constitute a worthy way to restart the Journal.
Our emphasis at Chalcedon has always been to develop Biblical solutions to modern problems. This orientation will necessarily pervade these proposed Journal issues. We ourselves are not adequate to put out this culture-wide forest fire, but we can surely provide better tools for those working to contain — and extinguish — that fire.
November 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm
Martin, I appreciate this opportunity of dialoguing with you. You’ve been most gracious and, I trust, you will be responsive in following through on doing everything within your abilities to shine the light on spiritual abuse, whether it masquerades under the pretended authority of Scripture and be called “Patriarchy”, or however else it manifests itself.
I would say that the long standing hiatus of the Journal of Christian Reconstruction is a likely factor, perhaps even a significant one, in giving free reign to the Hyper-Patriarchs, especially given that all of the most abusive of them have claimed at one point or another to have been influenced by Christian Reconstructionism. They’ve had little to nothing in the way of a scholarly rebuke and, as I see it, the only genuinely authoritative rebuke could come from the same organization through which Christian Reconstructionism and Biblical Patriarchy is recognized to have originated from.
I think you will find many who will be eager to subscribe should it come back out of retirement. Allow me to suggest a third edition: Symposium on Patriarchy and [vs.] Hyper-Patriarchy. The subject matter is extensive enough that I believe that it really merits its own edition.
November 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm
While conceding that he could not condone the practice from a strictly Biblical standpoint, Dr. Rushdoony more than once referred to an early American solution to spousal abuse: the other men in the community visited the abusive husband at night, took him outside, and dragged him by his feet naked through a briar patch. Remarkably, this ended all abuse of the wife without fail. Those communities were not willing to “stand idly by innocent blood.” Their actions, however flawed, did prove how much they valued the life and well-being of the abused wife.
How different this is from the modern practice, in which a church’s leadership drags the abused wife through the ringer.
November 22, 2013 at 8:10 am
It didn’t take long for this quote to be distorted as to its obvious intent: it has been held up as representative of what America would look like if biblical law were applied. That this is the exact opposite from the quote’s meaning is obvious, but that doesn’t prevent the quote from being misused. The point is NOT that the community had followed biblical law (this is explicitly denied!) but that in their conducted they erred on the side of the victim, not the abuser.
No utterance is safe from ideological hijacking, no meaning is exempt from total reversal in the service of preconceived notions. No wonder we’re in such a world of hurt.
November 22, 2013 at 9:31 am
If I am not mistaken, the practice of neighbor men dragging a wife beater through the brush by his feet was also practiced by the Hebrews. Like, Rush said, one cannot find a scripture enjoining this, but it no doubt worked.
November 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm
Mr. Selbrede, I truly appreciate all your interaction here, especially with Mr. Eston. I have followed your exchange with much interest.
First, I want to acknowledge your apology. While I appreciate the gesture, I do not necessarily hold Chalcedon fully responsible for the actions of Chris Ortiz. I believe that he should be the one to respond here since he was the one who wrote the original two articles against me without doing his full research first. Since I do not have contact info for him, if you have his email address, perhaps you would be so kind as to pass him the message to read this article and respond? However, I do accept your apology on behalf of your ministry, and it is much appreciated.
Second, considering all that you have said about how Christians should respond to those who have abused others (marriage, church, etc.), and I agree that the “woodshed” method seemed to be quite effective, I think a symposium on spiritual abuse would be extremely beneficial and timely right now. What an awesome comeback for Chalcedon’s Journal of Christian Reconstruction!
Homeschoolers, and others, across the nation, are reeling from this fall from patriarchy perfection right now. I am praying as to how I can help those who are struggling to find their way, so I, too, second Mr. Eston’s suggestion for a symposium on patriarchy vs. hyper-patriarchy. It truly is time to eschew the extremes in favor of getting back to biblical basics.
Thanks again for your gracious interaction here, and I believe that much progress has been made in the name of Christ today.
November 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm
[…] high regard for Julie Anne, but I believe she
is misinformed on this point. As I have noted in my article,
R.J. Rushdoony is one of the founding fathers of the modern home
school movement. It would not […]
November 22, 2013 at 7:55 am
I am posting this at both Spiritual Sounding Board and at Jen’s Gems in response to yesterday’s charge that my presence and statements at these sites amount to nothing more than “damage control.” And by damage control, the critics don’t mean what the Good Samaritan did, but what King David did (getting Uriah drunk, sending him to the front lines, etc.).
This accusation at first looks to gain weight when we read how surprised people at these sites are that Chalcedon is even there in the midst initiating a dialogue. As if to say, “Okay, so now Chalcedon comes out of their ivory tower and tries to reach across the aisle to their critics. NOW they start a dialogue — how convenient. They never did before. Pretty transparent damage control, isn’t it?”
This is a challenge concerning Chalcedon’s track record. This is something of a no-win situation: if I correct the record, I look like I’m touting our track record and therefore lack humility. So those who can evaluate the matter objectively might learn something, but the sceptics won’t be able to see beyond their confirmation bias (which, given the church’s general’s track record, is understandable).
So, is our participation at these sites merely a flash-in-the-pan attempt by Chalcedon to reach across the aisle and dialogue with critics, or does Chalcedon have a record of doing so, which would make our participation here just one more example of its consistent conduct? Let’s take a look.
In 2005, Chalcedon attempted to enter into dialogue with critics gathered in New York at an Anti-Dominionism Conference, doing so in person in several instances (e.g., with Katherine Yurica). No takers.
In my Nov.-Dec. 2006 FFAOL review of Rev. Mel White’s book, “Religion Gone Bad,” I was saddened to note that the author had adopted a policy of refusing to dialogue with the other side, despite his critique of fundamentalists and their “no discussion” attitude.
In 2007, Chalcedon invited journalist Jeff Sharlet, a critic of perceived historic revisionism, to enter into a dialogue in the wake of his Harper’s Magazine article. He didn’t take us up on it (but did acknowledge that my published response to him in the March-April 2007 issue of Faith for All of Life was, to his surprise, quite good).
In the Sept-Oct 2007 issue of FFAOL, we ended up publishing “Answers to Tough Questions About Christian Reconstruction,” answers I offered to questions posed to Chalcedon by a major Bay Area atheist group. The group had initiated the exchange, promising to publish our answers, but after they read my responses they failed to follow through. We had to publish the resulting dialogue ourselves.
An clear and explicit invitation to dialogue with the author of Quiverfull (Kathryn Joyce) was extended to her in the March-April 2010 issue of FFAOL. No response (yet!).
In the July-Aug 2012 issue we appealed to Dr. Paul McGlasson to address concerns about his new book, “NO! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism.” (Insert sound effect of crickets.)
Chalcedon has regularly reached across the aisle: it’s in our DNA to do so. And it’s not a hard thing to do. Nonetheless, nobody accepted our overtures. So when T. W. Eston’s Open Letter appeared at Jen’s Gems, we accepted his invitation, not grudgingly but gladly. Constructive dialogue with those across the aisle was something we’ve been openly seeking for years, without success.
But it was not for lack of trying.
November 22, 2013 at 9:27 am
Martin, has anyone at Chalcedon been in contact with Doug Phillips regarding his confession ?
November 22, 2013 at 10:56 am
Joe, I will call you by phone to discuss that question. Last two digits still 04?
November 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm
Yes, that is where I’ll be after 5:PM.
November 22, 2013 at 11:51 am
As a pastor with parishioners affected by “hyper-patriarchy” (HP) (not as badly as displayed on these websites), I commend you for your efforts at clarifying your position with respect to this issue in general, and Doug Phillips in particular.
I am an OPC pastor who encountered a piece of HP, the “family-integrated church” movement” (FIC), back in 2007/08 and have studied the issue since then. I, too, would encourage you to do a Symposium on Patriarchy and [vs.] Hyper-Patriarchy. HP is more than just fatherly/male leadership but simultaneously promotes radical homeschooling (my term) and FIC. In fact, there is every reason to believe that the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) will continue to promote some version of HP since it was founded by Phillips (2001) and he was on the board (until at least Oct. 21, 2013) and spoke at their conferences over the years. The president of NCFIC, Brown, has been close friends with Phillips since the early 2000s. The NCFIC had a link up as late as Spring of 2013 to Vision Forums “Tenants of Biblical Patriarchy.” The board for Vision Forum and NCFIC are the same the last ten years.
And what should be more relevant for you, being a fellow Reformed man, the NCFIC’s “confession” has been signed (agreed-upon) by dozens of Presbyterian and Reformed churches. And many Reformed families homeschool and are, therefore, under greater odds to encounter HP or HP in the guise of NCFIC. This “confession” denigrates churches that use age-segregation as “evolutionary, secular and biblical.” It calls out for more FIC churches explicitly (but never for more Reformed churches; any church can sign the confession). This confession has split churches (I know of two personally). And it is such a concern that I have been invited by a Presbytery to talk about the issue and to bring a pastoral perspective to help maintain peace. I was even contacted by a Romanian homeschooler concerned with these issues.
HP logically leads to radical homeschooling and FIC because it is all family-centric. It is fearful of anyone but the parents being a substantial influence in the life of the child. But, as a good Reformed man, I think you would agree that the church as the church has a duty independent of the family to instruct the family, even the covenant children.
All this to say: yes, get more involved.
Lastly, I offer my meager research for your (or anyone else’s) perusal:
1. Family Integrated Church Movement (includes review of the book and movie)
2. Various articles at Examiner.com (here): Who is Phillips? Top five claims of VF.
3. Radical homeschooling
4. Homeschooling as a revival (Yes, Doug and others continued to use Malachi 4 wrongly).
5. History and statistics of homeschooling (see the second half of the page). Homeschooling history and statistics have been badly used for the last decade, creating heavy burdens on the shoulders of families, especially mothers (see the other websites; I have seen it first-hand).
November 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm
This prompts me to ask whether you might consider contributing to one of the proposed Journal of Christian Reconstruction issues that I’ve described earlier in the thread?
November 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm
Mr. Selbrede, I would be honored. I’ll facebook you.
November 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm
I am encouraged by several previous posts calling for and
indicating a closer look into this hyper patriarchy and the family
integrated movement. I have witnessed and experienced first hand
the destructiveness of this movement. Shawn Mathis is right, there
is a tight relationship between VFM and NCFIC, the owners of these
two businesses (yes, owners and businesses is the correct
terminology) have worked arm in arm to build what they are today.
For anyone who cares to look into it, these para-church
organizations are the livelihood for these men and often their
families, and compromises have been made to the detriment of the
Truth and in favor of the “bottom line”. Please don’t just dismiss
this as cynicism, I once thought they were honorable men also, but
when the curtain falls and there is no more need to pretend, you
come face to face with reality. The similarities with these two
organizations is deeper than shared vision, common theme and free
trips around the globe. The owner/persident of NCFIC has himself
proven to be an abusive church leader like his mentor Doug
Phillips, and has done much damage in his hometown in North
Carolina. The abuses are similar to Doug Phillips own and have been
growing over the years. Doug Phillips influence in his life and
here in NC can hardly be overstated, he has been held up as the
supreme leader, often being consulted to decide personal and church
issues. His physical presence here is treated as one would a
visiting dignitary, with scores of men and boys tending to his
needs. One of the big issues surrounding a 2006 church split here
was the churches (Trinity Baptist) concern over their association
with VFM, most of the church did not agree with Doug Phillips and
did not want the church to sponsor events that favored him, some
elders did and that played a crucial role in the split. Hope
Baptist was the outcome of that split and has been the center of
this movement here. The church has abandon the traditional method
of church growth (spread the gospel, baptize and disciple new
believers) and has instead adopted the sheep rustling method.
Unfortunately the homeschooling community has been the market most
willing to buy into their teachings. As people already looking to
raise their kids differently it doesn’t take much encouragement for
them to abandon their churches in favor of the FIC model. As if
this isn’t bad enough, the churches teachings continue to draw
these families away from modern society and into hyper patriarchy
and FIC’s version of it. The “doing life together” is where most of
the abuses begin, they then increase as individuals or families
decide its not for them, or worse, challenge their teachings. I
have personally witnessed this church and its leaders divide
families, churches, marriages and friends. Yes, they say “the
family” is the most important institution and the “patriarch” is
king of his world, but in practice they will divide a family and
strip a man of all dignity if they get in the way of the movement,
to this I can personally testify. Maybe even worse, today we can
see the rotten fruit from this movement being passed down to the
children of these leaders, children barely wet behind the ears
standing in judgment of those who opposes the movement or does not
conform to their standards. It’s bad enough to have men standing in
condemnation of other men over man made rules, it’s unbearable to
have “20 somethings” glaring at older men and women for wearing
jeans or watching a ball game on TV. Where todays leaders will
disguise their motives with flattering words and compelling
arguments (benefits of an education), the next generation comes
right out and says it, “be loyal to me, act like me, dress like me,
follow me”. Lastly, In light of the most recent scandal involving
Doug Phillips I have heard some say “don’t throw out the baby with
the bathwater”, this caution though is only valid if the baby has
intrinsic value. As many of us have known and many more are
becoming aware, the version of patriarchy and the FIC movement is
faulty, and not only that, they have been advanced by a handful of
men who seem to have some serious shortcomings. It is time to
examine both baby and bathwater in light of the only Truth and our
only hope, Jesus Christ.
November 23, 2013 at 8:46 pm
I do want to say for the sake of any readers out there: Mr. Selbrede and Chalcedon are be honorable in their willingness to directly interact on these issues. The leadership at the NCFIC was notified immediately of my open critique by one of their church members (who directly engaged me at Wes White’s old blog). But they have never engaged at the “street level” they way Mr. Selbrede has. I commend him for that.
November 25, 2013 at 8:15 am
Not to be pessimistic, but I doubt this will happen. Brown and Phillips have developed a “product” that is “selling”. There has been plenty of opposition over the years from “shoppers” over the quality of the product but not enough to warrant any real changes or scare off many buyers. Try going into a store and asking the owner to have an open discussion over the quality of a hot selling item, it wouldn’t happen. He might entertain a closed door meeting and take suggestions on how to improve it (taking into account risk/reward of course) but he would never risk what might come from an open discussion of concerns. This is precisely why those who voice concern are labeled trouble makers, or those who try to warn others are called gossips. This is why it is nothing for them to criticize other churches, they are their competitors. Thats why they are combing the blogs to see whats said about them then responding in private. If they cared at all about the truth they would have thrown out the outrageous “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” long ago. If they cared at all about clarity they would give answers that were backed up by Biblical teaching instead of citing “data points and normative patters” as proof. I hate being so sarcastic and sounding so hopeless, and If it makes you feel better I hope I’m wrong.
November 22, 2013 at 9:07 am
Jen, you might be interested to know that a pastor in Oregon approached me yesterday concerning his 2012 book about spiritual abuse (he’s sending me a copy). He has agreed to be a contributor to the proposed Journal issue.
November 22, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Taunya Henderson, I acknowledge receipt of your comment. Jen tries to maintain a very liberal comment approval policy. However, yours isn’t a comment that will be approved here. It’s not for me to judge your motives. You may be genuinely seeking answers. I have no way of knowing. However, I’ll simply say the effect of approving your comment would be to completely derail the purpose(s) of the immediate topic onto an unrelated subject that I have no intention of defending, especially since it’s an opinion I don’t share.
If you are sincere in wanting to have your question about R.J. Rushdoony answered, contact the Chalcedon Foundation. That’s why they’re there. If your intention is to stir up strife and antagonism there are plenty of blogs and forums where that’s not only permitted but strongly encouraged.
This isn’t to say that in some future article we may not address the issue of racism in the home school community. That could be a very important subject to take up, particularly if it concerns Doug Phillips (please note the theme of this blog). But, again, this thread isn’t the place for it.
November 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm
“If your intention is to stir up strife and antagonism there are plenty of blogs and forums where that’s not only permitted but strongly encouraged.”
T.W. Eston glad to know my question will not even be posted here and the mere mention of this topic causes you to suspect I may be attempting to stir up strife. It sounds like you are doing to me exactly what you have accused many of doing to Jen, assuming the worst.
No problem at all Spiritual Sounding Board was gracious enough to post my comment and Martin has replied. You no longer have to worry about me posting a comment on this site.
November 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm
Taunya, it’s your prerogative if you want to take offense, but I can assure you no offense, or judgment against you, was intended. As to your motives I clearly stated, “It’s not for me to judge your motives. You may be genuinely seeking answers. I have no way of knowing.”
I’m pleased to hear that Martin is addressing your questions at SSB, and that Julie Anne welcomes that exchange there. I hope you get your questions answered. However, this blog will be sticking with the subject at hand.
August 31, 2015 at 2:15 pm
[…] 20, the vice-president of the Christian organization, Chalcedon Foundation, Martin Selbrede, responded online to an open letter alleging that Chalcedon defended Doug Phillips in spite of known past […]