Doug Phillips Attacks Midwest Christian Outreach Counter-Cult Ministry: Vision Forum Staff Used for Libel Campaign

Misplaced principles

Several years ago I read a very disturbing book. It was so disturbing that I could not read more than a few pages at a time, and I had trouble sleeping every night I read it. The book was an examination of a very popular teacher, and it reported that not only were his teachings far from biblical but that he practiced things that I could not believe that any Christian could do. Even worse, most of my friends and acquaintances hung on every word the man said. That man was Bill Gothard and the book was “A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life” by Don and Joy Veinot and Ron Henzel.

Greatly distressed and wondering what to do to help my friends, I decided to turn for counsel to Doug Phillips, the pastor of my church Boerne Christian Assembly. I told Doug that I had read the book, that I was very concerned that so many members of BCA were caught up in Gothardism, and that I wondered what he thought should be done. I was greatly taken aback by Doug’s answer, as he said that although he didn’t agree with the way Bill Gothard got there, he did agree with Bill’s conclusions, and that was all that mattered. He also told me to just leave the matter alone and not discuss it further with other people. I was puzzled by Doug’s response, since he often taught that the ends never justify the means. I found out a little while later that he was already scheduled to speak and sell Vision Forum products at Gothard’s annual conference that year.

Fortunately, I didn’t let Doug’s response keep me from using my brain to find out that the authors of this book were also part of an apologetics ministry, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., which provided teaching and training to pastors and laymen. At the time, I didn’t see how their work could have anything to do with me, apart from their exposure to Gothardism, which Doug had already forbidden me to speak of, so I filed them away mentally for future reference.

After I went public last December with my story of the years of ecclesiastical abuse my family suffered at the hands of Doug Phillips, I recalled the ministry of of Midwest Christian Outreach. I decided to contact them to see if they knew anything about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. As it turned out, they had already received numerous inquiries about Doug Phillips and/or Vision Forum and were considering whether to conduct an investigation of them.

After that contact, I generally put MCOI out of my mind. When I didn’t hear anything else for a while, I thought perhaps they weren’t really interested in investigating Doug Phillips or Vision Forum. So when I found out a few months later that they were almost ready to publish a whole article about Vision Forum, I was very surprised. I was particularly curious to find out if they had uncovered and were reporting on another story of ecclesiastical tyranny similar to mine.

I received the article “Who Will Be First in the Kingdom” shortly before the Arlington homeschool conference. I was quite surprised to see that it was about Patriarchy. At that time, I was still in love with Patriarchy and had no intentions of giving it up. When I read the “Top 10 Biblical Ways to Acquire a Wife” in their article, I thought it was funny, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. How dare they make jokes about what I considered to be a sound biblical principle! In fact, the more I read the article, the more sick to my stomach I became. I realized Don Veinot wasn’t talking about any of the issues I had with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum at all. He was talking about areas that were near and dear to my own heart! However, I was not going to complain at all; I was just grateful that someone else was speaking up about Vision Forum.

The timing of publishing this article happened to be the same as when I was already planning on going to the Arlington Homeschool Book Conference to try to meet with Doug. I thought that passing out copies of Don Veinot’s article on Saturday of the conference would be a good back-up plan if Doug refused to meet me on Friday. With that possibility in the back of my mind, I asked Don Veinot if I could hand out copies of his article at the conference. He agreed. As it turned out, Doug did refuse to meet with me, so I did follow my back-up plan. Doug was not happy about that or about the contents of Don Veinot’s article, and you can read about what happened at the conference here.

It turned out that there were others who also didn’t like Don Veinot’s article. Brian Abshire took great offense at Don’s analysis of an article by Dr. Abshire posted on the Vision Forum website. Dr. Abshire and Don have exchanged several letters on the subject, and caused a lively debate. Perhaps because they hoped Dr. Abshire could deal with Don for them, Vision Forum did not contact Don Veinot directly until nearly three months after the article came out and long after he originally contacted them. At that time, Don was sent a 15-page letter describing what Vision Forum had against him and his ministry. Vision Forum subsequently sent a follow-up letter as well.

Personal attacks

A few weeks later, Don decided to send us a copy of this correspondence from Vision Forum because so much of what Vision Forum wrote to Don Veinot consisted of personal attacks against Mark and me, and Don thought we deserved to see them in case we wished to respond. I appreciate this old-fashioned courtesy very much, because the general lack of it is one reason Doug Phillips’ continual whisperings often travel so far without challenge.

When we received our copies of Vision Forum’s correspondence with Don, we immediately saw that it was very typical of the way they deal with critics. First, as usual, the letters are not signed by Doug. He gets someone else to do the dirty work. In the past, it has been a BCA deacon signing an attack on behalf of the non-existent “Session” of BCA, or Doug’s lawyer threatening legal action, or another prominent patriarchal figure such as Kevin Swanson or Dr. Abshire weighing in for Doug. This time, it was Doug’s long-time assistant, Wesley Strackbein.

Something else about the letters to Don that are typical of Doug’s MO is that, while they invoke the name of Christ, they are highly accusatory of the personal character of those they attack. They also employ guilt-by association tactics such as trying to taint what Don says by claiming he is associated with others (Mark and me) that they have already smeared.

Another characteristic of Doug’s MO that you can see clearly in the letters is an effort to avoid facing the main issues by changing the subject. Don’s article was entirely a critique of Vision Forum’s theology of patriarchy. If you don’t believe me, go back and read it for yourself. You will see that it relies for its sources entirely on publicly available information on Vision Forum’s own website. You will also see that it says nothing about me or about Vision Forum’s or Doug Phillips’ treatment of me. In fact, Don did not consult with Mark or me about any aspect of his article before it was published. That being so, isn’t it curious that most of Vision Forum’s 15-page letter was devoted to attacking Mark and me?

I think the reason for Vision Forum’s misplaced attacks is that this is their best (only?) ammo. They have no credible answers to Don’s theological critique. So they have to change the subject. The fact that I handed out copies of Don’s article was just the fig leaf of an excuse they needed to change the subject to what has lately been their favorite rhetorical whipping boy, the Epsteins. When I see this kind of thing I keep asking myself: Do they really think their followers are so stupid that they won’t see through the tricks?

I’m still not sure of the answer to that question. So I’ll write about things I do know. The main purpose of Vision Forum’s letter was to address two issues, what they called “Misrepresentations and Alliance with Renegades.” Since the supposed “misrepresentations” have some connection to Don’s theological critique, I’ll leave them to him to address publicly if he wants to. I’ll address Vision Forum’s effort to avoid the theological debate by claiming Don has allied himself with renegades. I won’t be able to address all of Vision Forum’s numerous errors and outright libels, but I will address a few of the main ones below, enough for you to get the point.

Renegade rhetoric

Vision Forum’s renegade rhetoric begins from the very start of the letter. So before you read further, make sure you’re sitting down and, if necessary, buckled in. You’re in for a wild ride. After identifying himself and thanking Don for taking the time to read the letter, Doug’s mouthpiece, Wesley Strackbein, immediately accuses Don of “join[ing] hands with a lawless couple who have become notorious for their prolonged campaign of gossip, lies, cruelties and deceptions” For stating that the purpose of the letter was to make peace, Wesley was off to a great start!

A few paragraphs further, he affects to soften the blow a bit by saying that “we also realize that unscrupulous individuals may have taken advantage of your good intentions or even sought to curry favor with you by manipulating you into believing that their cause is your cause.” Telling someone that they’ve been duped will probably not win them over either.

After stating that they are willing to disagree on many theological and practical issues, Vision Forum says that “we do not believe that this spirit of equanimity is possible if Christians resort to libel and internet assassinations” I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. The definition of “libel” is to publish in print an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his reputation. The key word in this definition is an untruth. If I have said anything untrue, why hasn’t Doug Phillips posted anything to the contrary? Not only has he not published any documentation disproving anything I have said, he has also not stated any place specifically where I have lied. That is because I have told the truth. Therefore, there is no libel. This line was directed to Don Veinot, but it carried clear implications for every other Doug Phillips critic as well.

The bulk of the letter addressed the issue of the alleged alliances with renegades, which Vision Forum summarizes as follows:

You Have Publicly Aligned Yourself with and Drawn Support from Individuals Who Have Been Excommunicated for Ongoing Unrepentant Sins and Who Have Demonstrated a Pattern of Continued Sinful and Lawless Activities Since their Excommunication, as Affirmed by Several Jurisdictional Entities

and was followed by: “Your active association with individuals whose pattern of egregious, sinful behavior is far-reaching, well-documented, and confirmed by the testimony of several distinct church bodies as well as a presiding Justice of a State Supreme Court.” I am trying very hard to figure out who these several jurisdictional entities are who have affirmed our excommunication. Jurisdictional must mean that they have jurisdiction over us. We have attended two churches since our excommunication for any length of time. We did not join either of these two churches. Does that mean that they still have jurisdiction over us? If so, is two the same as several? If so, how did they “affirm” our excommunication? Did they acknowledge that we were excommunicated? Yes. But we also acknowledge that. No one denies that fact. Did they review the evidence for themselves? One church did and Little Bear Wheeler then spent the next 14 months trying to get Doug to repent from excommunicating us. Faith Presbyterian did not ever review any of the evidence. Did they send us back to BCA? Faith Presbyterian did, and when we asked them what we were supposed to repent from, they had no answer for us. I really see no evidence for this claim that several jurisdictional entities have affirmed our excommunication. This fallacy is a faulty appeal to authority and designed simply to overawe Don with their impressive list of authorities.

As for a Justice of a State Supreme Court confirming anything about me, let alone my sinful behavior, well, Doug is really confused about his jurisdictions here, because although he has threatened to sue my husband and me, he hasn’t yet, so the jurisdiction of the state hasn’t been involved to confirm anything.

While such ignorance, if founded, is inexcusable on your part, it could explain how you were led astray to conspire with these renegades” And now Wesley lists only a “partial summary” concerning the “misbehavior of this embittered couple.” I will just deal with the items that address me, for the sake of brevity here.

Been excommunicated and adjudged to be treated as “heathen and publican” with the unanimous affirmation of a confessional church for ongoing (sometimes public, but always) serious sins, including habitual lying, revilings, and cruelty on the part of both husband and wife directly related to Mrs. Epstein’s past adultery with a Muslim which produced a child out of wedlock.

This is what I was excommunicated for? I was excommunicated for sins I committed before I was a Christian, now 17 years ago, and for which I fully repented a year later? I later put that repentance into writing and Doug Phillips agreed that I had fully repented. And now Vision Forum is stating that my excommunication and all my sins are directly related to my pre-conversion past. I’m pleased to see that Vision Forum has finally admitted in writing what I have said from the beginning. I am also pleased that, although Doug Phillips and Vision Forum do not appear to understand grace and the forgiveness of sins, the Lord did not need their mediation to give it to me.

Been reproved and admonished by multiple ministries, churches, and ministers for their unrepentant sins, spirit of vengeance, deceptions, etc.

The footnote states that these multiple churches are BCA, Faith PCA, and Living Waters Fellowship. I’m not sure who the ministries are, but I assume the ministers are the elders of these respective churches. I understand BCA’s stance on this very well. Faith PCA told us to reconcile with BCA first. When we asked what we should repent from, they had no answer. LWF took our side for a long time. We prefer not to speculate on why they had a sudden change of heart. Even so, when we asked them what “inaccuracies and misinformation” they were referring to, they had also had no answer. I do not believe I have done any of this in a spirit of vengeance. If I had wanted revenge, I could have gone public much earlier than the almost two years we waited, trying to reconcile. I spent much time praying about it and I still do, as I want to make sure my heart is right in all that I do here. I have been very careful with my words as well. If I had a spirit of vengeance, I would think it would be quite noticeable after all I’ve written here. As for the deceptions, I stand willing to be corrected on anything I’ve written on this website and elsewhere. However, in this charge, like the vast majority of such charges, Vision Forum has declined to offer any examples that can be tested or confirmed. Why? Because no such examples exist.

Been formally banned as a vendor from participation in conferences with FEAST, a regional home school organization, because of “unethical practices” including “deception” toward this group in the years 2005-2006.

It is true that Ruth Perez of FEAST issued a letter critical of me. She did not contact me first, however. And, as soon as I learned of the statement, I immediately wrote her a Matthew 18 letter, asking for more information about my alleged sins. She never responded. I don’t know if her long-standing association with Doug is the reason she has followed his example in making broad charges while refusing to back them up with specifics, but that is what has happened here as it did with Doug.

Of course, even if all of these charges against me were true, they would still do nothing to undermine or taint Don Veinot’s powerful theological critique of Vision Forum, which was the only point of the article in the first place.

Worked with “Christian” White Separatists to advance their agenda of gossip and lies against men and ministries.

The footnote here includes a link to a site set up to attack me by long-time Doug Phillips buddy, Matt Chancey. They may call him an “independent investigator,” but it isn’t so. The fact that Vision Forum was willing to lie about Doug’s relationship with Matt in a desperate effort to give the site some legitimacy is enough to know that it’s nothing more than a political damage control effort by this professional political consultant and long-time Phillips pal. It’s called “playing the race card.”

Been upbraided by a State Supreme Court Justice [for] activity which the Justice characterized as “vile schemes.”

Huh? I’ve never met a State Supreme Court Justice, nor have I ever had any dealings with one. Another misplaced appeal to the wrong authority.

Been exposed for their efforts in a conspiracy to destroy the good name of Christian leaders that has involved using the cover of proxy servers, writing under numerous anonymous and pseudonymous names, launching websites which perpetrated frauds, and even conspiring to spy on the homes of pastors like RC Sproul, Sr. and to interview neighbors under false pretenses for the purpose of gathering damaging information to be used in public smear campaigns.

Absolutely not. I have never been involved in a conspiracy to destroy the good name of any Christian leaders. I was a long-time donor to Ligonier Ministries. I felt a moral responsibility to investigate reports that the money I donated was being squandered. I found that to be true, and I posted several blog articles on that subject under my name. I make no apologies for that. In fact, I still pray for R.C. Sproul, Sr., although I no longer donate to his ministry.

Publicly (through the Internet and written correspondences they have widely distributed) called no less than two hundred men and women to repentance before their personal tribunal of justice. To accomplish these ends, they have trafficked in unrelenting gossip, have deliberately posted pictures of the Sproul family designed to humiliate them and have become a clearinghouse for gossip for anonymous internet assassins with an axe to grind. They have not only demanded the repentance of RC Sproul, Sr. and Doug Phillips, but of entire congregations, of multiple ministers of the Gospel, and of no fewer than ten members from their former local church whom they have charged with wrongs against them; and have called no less than three Christian ministries to repentance.

I have publicly called for the repentance of public figures who have sinned against me and refused all private efforts (including independent mediation) to resolve the matter. I’m sorry that this is a sensitive subject for Doug, but I think that’s probably because he has a guilty conscience. At least I hope so.

Been complicit in emailing numerous vindictive and false charges about Doug Phillips to home school leaders, government officials, and friends and business associates of Vision Forum as part of a coordinated campaign to besmirch Doug Phillips’ name and unlawfully interfere with business and ministry interests of which he is a part.

Mark and I wrote a carefully constructed letter that we emailed to homeschool leaders. Everything in it was well documented. Doug Phillips is welcome to provide his own evidence to try and counter any of my claims at any time. He has not done so, because there is no such evidence. So all he has left is this kind of strong rhetoric.

Mass-disseminated numerous outrageous and calumnious articles, including one which accused godly missionaries of complicity in the murder of Christians.

I have to give Wesley credit for variety in his choice of words to attack me, even though he does so in a letter supposedly about an article that I had nothing to do with. I don’t think I have ever before seen “calumnious” used in a sentence. I’m even a little embarrassed to confess that I had to look it up. Seriously, though, the footnotes to this charge keep referring to “Jennifer and other Ministry Watchman co-conspirators.” Clearly, Vision Forum is trying to turn all of its critics into conspirators and blame each act of “conspiracy” on every “conspirator.” I don’t know which logical fallacy that is, but I know it is one, or maybe two or three together.

Have posted offensive and inappropriate photo-shopped images of Doug and Beall Phillips on the Internet as part of their smear campaign.

I’m sorry that Wesley’s legalism has stifled his sense of humor. That’s not good for his health. I really don’t think this picture is that bad:

Have relentlessly ridiculed, mocked, and borne false witness against the women of Boerne Christian Assembly, both individually and collectively.

To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t said anything untrue about BCA women. As far as I know, I have not said anything true in a mocking manner. I have tried to be kind and fair in my portrayal of them, but I have used them as examples for my thoughts on how women are not valued as they ought to be in Patriarchy. I think the problem is that they have been led to a position that attracts the ridicule of the world, and I am being blamed for that.

Have conspired to secretly tape record conversations with the individuals they seek to defame.

Huh? I have no clue about what Wesley is talking about.

Have (between the two of them) operated, founded, or helped to establish no less than five attack-sites against Doug Phillips which have collectively published tens of thousands of words and untold hundreds of lies, while “exposing,” harassing, and defaming Christian ministers.

This charge begs the question. Doug says that what I say is a lie. I don’t agree, and I support what I say with documents. The length of those documents doesn’t matter, except that if Doug Phillips has done as much harm as I believe, then it makes sense that there would be many words needed to report on that harm. The truth is that all that Mark and I have written is far outweighed by the quantity of comments made by others on my blog, who share their own experiences with Doug Phillips or Vision Forum or offer their own theological critiques. In fact, so far there have been nearly 10,000 comments posted on my site. That’s a remarkable number for such a short time. Instead of blaming me for everything, Doug should ask himself why so many people besides me feel the need to express their concerns about him in public.

Staged publicity stunts (using [Don’s] materials), for which Jennifer Epstein was cited by police for criminal behavior.

My son and I passed out fliers on a back sidewalk until the police were called and all the commotion was brought to the front of the building. Standing on my First Amendment rights is not a crime last time I looked, but it is often a right that is trampled on.

Wesley ends this particular list by stating that “the evidence proving Mark and Jennifer’s complicity in unlawful and potentially criminal activity is voluminous, and we are personally in possession of hundreds of pages which document their role in a far-flung Internet conspiracy to discredit Reformed ministers and ministries.” Sometimes Doug gives me so much credit I have to be careful not to get a big head about it. When I take a reality check and realize that I haven’t actually done these things, I just have to shake my head in wonderment.

Wesley goes on to tell Don Veinot why his “alliance with notorious Internet assassins and church excommunicants is irrefutable,” naming all types of “incontrovertible facts.” These include Don giving me his “diatribe article” for me to use as a “publicity stunt” to “facilitate [my] campaign of hatred” and stating that I claimed that I was working directly with Don; I published private letters from Don on my website; and that Don allowed me to comment on his website, among other allegations of proof of our working together against Doug. I am sorry that I caused Don to sin by my posting a comment on his website. Maybe someone can help me find that verse in Scripture.

Finally, Wesley asks Don some questions about his alliances with “lawless individuals,” stating that he has been “in communication with the Epsteins’ small group of Internet malcontents [that’s you, dear reader] (some of which may be Mrs. Epstein under one of her multiple Internet personalities)…” and why would he “team up with unscrupulous individuals?”

Wesley ends his libelous letter by claiming “this letter is an attempt to restore peace. It is an olive branch…

I end this true article by asking you whether Vision Forum’s letter has really extended an olive branch or actually fired both barrels of a shotgun?

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Doug Phillips and Brian Abshire Team Up Against Cult-Watch Journal Article

I think Doug likes giving me more things to write about. I just couldn’t pass up this latest blog entry from Doug:

(Here is the original article Doug is referring to.)

How to Respond to a Tale-Bearer: Dr. Brian Abshire Models an Apologetic of Sound Reasoning and Christian Charity for Family Reformers

A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 5:22 – 6:4) A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7) The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.) Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy

The Bible rejects the egalitarian doctrine of feminism. It expressly teaches hierarchy within the home, including the servant-like, Christ-honoring leadership of fathers. It expressly teaches differences of roles and responsibilities between men and women (although there are many areas of overlap). (1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-6)

The Bible does not, however, teach (a) the subjugation of women under the oppression of men; (b) the right of parents to brutalize or dominate children; or (c) the inferiority of women to men.

Nor does the Bible teach or encourage the notion that (a) women are barred from Christian ministry; (b) that the mind of a woman is inferior to that of a man; or (c) that women should not benefit from advanced training and higher education.

Yet the fact that there are no orthodox Evangelical ministries or preachers of note (of whom I am aware) who teach such things does not prevent immature, hateful, or merely misguided individuals from leveling all sorts of fantastical and sometimes humorous charges against ministries who fight for the biblical family and hold to historical Reformation views of male leadership within the church and home. (See the The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy, Marriage and Family in John Calvin’s Geneva, The Role of Women in the Church, An Exegetical Defense of Women as Keepers at Home, Making Wise Decisions About College and Life After Home School, The Blessed Marriage, Discipline: The Biblical Doctrine, etc., etc., etc.)

We at Vision Forum have raised serious objections to: (1) the working-woman philosophy of the late 20th century; (2) the cultural depravity of the modern university; (3) the feministic philosophy of the anti-complementarian, pro-egalitarian household leadership; (4) the culture of death and self-gratification, with its emphasis on closing the fruitful womb; and (5) attempts by liberals or vendetta-driven individuals to viciously mock fruitful mothers as baby machines, etc.

While raising these objections, we have also discussed and published material addressing: (1) alternatives to traditional college for both men and women; (2) the importance of cultivating the minds of both men and women to the fullest (for example, training both to be vigorous entrepreneurs); (4) the necessity of holding abusive husbands (and wives) accountable through the local church; and (5) the biblical imperative that men act nobly and sacrificially for women and children first. (See So Much More: The Remarkable Influence of Visionary Daughters on the Kingdom of God, The Wise Woman’s Guide to Blessing her Husband’s Vision, Strength and Dignity for Daughters, Defending the Fatherless: How the Body of Christ Can Help Single Mothers, Suffer the Children: The Blessing of Imperfect Children, Raising Maidens of Virtue, etc., etc., etc.)

These positions may be distasteful to some, but they are neither novel nor innovative.

Furthermore, we have stood with those men and women who are part of the growing chorus of concerned Christians who are exposing the deception perpetrated by “Christian” leftists, Marxists and/or feminists of many shades, as well as Internet assassins, dishonorable tale-bearing gossips and blog gangsters who have unscrupulously attempted to silence real debate and lodge their opposition by aggressively bringing a false witness against defenders of biblical principles of patriarchy and by attributing to them views which they do not believe and attitudes which they detest, as part of an effort to objectify individuals by painting Christian mothers as mindless drones and fathers as wife-denigrating tyrants.

Such behavior is nothing new to Bible-based reformation movements. Within the last fifty years alone we have seen similar tactics lodged against six-day-creationists, home educators, advocates of the fruitful womb and parents concerned about the modern birth control ethic, and others seeking to recapture the historical biblical principles of orthodoxy and orthopraxy embraced by Church fathers and Reformers alike.

And we believe that the message of Scripture is as true and applicable today as it was when the words were first penned by divine inspiration:

These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

But Christ’s message is not merely condemnation for the sowers of discord, the gossip-mongers, and the dividers of the brethren. Scripture exhorts a holy boldness for every mother and father who must endure the revilings of the Sandballats and Tobiahs (Nehemiah 4:1-7) of their day, while they as visionary parents seek to rebuild the walls of their family for the glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel message:

Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. (Nehemiah 4:14)

Towards the Self-Government of Our Collective Tongues

Cults do exist. They are wretched abominations, which rightly should be denounced. But if people are going to raise the “C” word publicly, they had best be prepared to defend such a charge before the world, and if found guilty of defaming a legitimate work of Christ, they must be prepared to face the consequences which are rightly due to those who divide brethren and slander the servants of the Lord. Doug’s Blog, August, 2005

I wrote that comment more than two years ago, and I stand by it today. I stand by it because as a former attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, I have defended parents whose families and basic parental rights have been placed in jeopardy by reckless, talebearers who throw around such language before the world. (I watched innocent mothers and fathers undergo tremendous persecution at the hands of professing Christians who believed that it was weird and cultic to home educate.) I stand by it because, as Geoff Botkin pointed out, it is the tool of “infantile Christians” to send those brothers with whom they differ to the coliseums of the 21st century. I stand by it because one need only watch the news to see the comparisons that some in the Press are trying to make between Christians who teach role distinctions between men and women and militant extremist groups like the Taliban. Nor do we have to think hard to remember at least one case where American children were sent to their deaths by the Clinton administration because their parents were part of real cult groups.

Finally, I stand by my statement of more than two years ago because our ministry receives too many reports of mothers and fathers who are mocked, belittled, and accused of being “cultic” by fellow Christians, because these parents home school by conviction, or actively desire the fruit of the womb, or spank their children, or educate their college-age daughters at home instead of thousands of miles away at a defiling university, or embrace courtship and betrothal over the dating model when it comes to their children’s marriages, or believe men should be leaders in the church and the home, etc., etc..

This brings me to the heart of the article before you:

For all of the above reasons, I applaud men like Dr. Brian Abshire who help the Christian public understand the tactics of “infantile Christians” who lightly use the “C” word to discredit those Christians with whom they personally disagree.

I applaud him for many reasons, one of which is Geoff Botkin’s point: If men like Dr. Abshire do not take the time to address the reckless public name-calling of undisciplined, professing Christians, tension within the Body of Christ is likely to escalate. If the Body of Christ does not learn to control our collective tongues and be a self-governing household of God for the glory of Jesus Christ, there could be very hard days ahead of us. History is replete with stories of the inhumanity of professing Christians against professing Christians. It may very well be that the immature or unscrupulous “Christians” — filled with self-righteousness, intolerant of differences that clearly fall within the pale of orthodoxy — will be the ones who pave the way for a new wave of statist tyranny and destructive family intervention. And if the Lord is merciful, and none of this ever happens, we would be foolish to believe that there will be no spiritual consequences on a Church so immature that the viciousness among professing members towards each other exceeds anything directed at the world itself.

Dr. Brian Abshire Helps Christian Students, Parents, and Pastors Model a Charitable Response to Tale-Bearers and False Accusers of the Brethren

Enter Dr. Brian Abshire — pastor of Highlands Reformed Presbyterian Church.

Dr. Abshire recognizes that the plague of talebearing is a heartache to the Church, and that those who use the Internet to traffic in tale-bearing, as well as those who receive the tale-bearing, are guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment.

He finds especially distasteful talebearers who use words like “cult” or “cultic” as a fear-mongering tactic and to attack the credibility of ministries, mothers, fathers, and pastors who reject feminism and hold to historic Reformation doctrines of the family. In fact, he finds their behavior sufficiently distasteful that he has authored a devastating response to one of them.

In the course of his article, Dr. Abshire defends himself, Vision Forum Ministries, and, indirectly, innocent men and women who embrace the same principles of family leadership, honor, and generational faithfulness advocated by the Reformers and embodied in documents like this.

In my view, Dr. Abshire’s article is a charitable, logical, and an accurate response to an individual who has set aside fundamental rules of brotherly conduct and journalistic integrity to traffic in accusations which are characterized by imprecision and falsehood.

And because this sort of behavior is becoming so very commonplace — especially on the Internet — articles like this are instructive. Dr. Abshire has given parents, pastors, and students a helpful model of how to respond to reckless, uncharitable, ungoverned Christian brothers who err by using the Internet and other means to bring a false witness against their neighbor in violation of the Ninth Commandment.

Specifically, Dr. Abshire’s rebuttal is quite instructive because he exposes the numerous basic fallacies, errors in logic, research omissions, unbrotherly conduct, lack of elementary principles of academic and journalistic integrity, and outright falsehoods employed by an individual who was unwilling to retract his accusations after being confronted in writing and verbally. And Dr. Abshire makes his case with manly firmness, but genuine Christian charity, ever willing to give the benefit of the doubt to an accuser who was most certainly not willing to do the same for him.

Below are just a few samples of the categories addressed by Dr. Abshire in his response:

Dr. Abshire on Equating Personal Differences with Cultic Teaching

…you declare Christian brothers to be teaching “false doctrine” when in reality, they are simply teaching something that you may not personally believe. You then imply that they are “cultic” using a pejorative term that you deliberately associate with heretics and false religion. This is NOT fair, equitable or honest; it is propaganda — it is the straw man argument. Simply because YOU disagree with an interpretation of the Scriptures (and as will be shown later, an “application” of the Scriptures) does not necessarily mean that those who propose it are “false teachers.”

Dr. Abshire on Accusation without Attestation

…most of your essay makes accusations without attestation; in other words, you SAY that someone believes “such and such” but provide no actual quotes from essays, articles, lectures, books, etc., where the person actually makes such statements. And since when you DO actually make an attribution, as in the case of my unnamed essay and you leave out important qualifying statements or ignore the context, it leaves me wondering just how accurately you have represented other people’s views.

Abshire on Talebearing, the “C” Word, and Willful Misrepresentation

You take statements out of context, ignore qualifying statements that actually DENY what you say we believe and implicitly call us “cultic” when our views are Right Square in the middle of historic Christian orthodoxy. I am afraid that I must say that it appears you either did not understand the issues, or you deliberately misrepresented our views for some reason…My point is that you declare Christian brothers to be teaching “false doctrine” when in reality, they are simply teaching something that you may not personally believe. You then imply that they are “cultic” using a pejorative term that you deliberately associate with heretics and false religion.

Dr. Abshire on the Duty to Perform Basic Research

There is a recurring problem in your essay; a failure to do basic research…It is basic scholarship that if a statement is controversial, especially critiquing another person’s view, you MUST show that this is what the person actually said. This you fail to do throughout your essay.

Dr. Abshire on the Misrepresentation of Actual Citations

…you write, ‘…women cannot be trusted as decision makers but are at their best when micro-managed by their fathers or husbands.’ You then give a long quote which has NOTHING to do with your assessment. The quote simply does not say what you said it says. In fact, the quote rejects autonomy, especially in regards to a girl following her ‘heart’ and affirms her trust in her father to help her make decisions on some basis other than emotions. Nowhere does this quotation imply, necessarily or otherwise that fathers are to “micro-mange” their daughters or that women are not trusted to make decisions on their own…Therefore, the question becomes this; if when you DO give an actual citation, your assessment is clearly contrary to fact, how can anyone trust your assessments when you do not provide the citations? You either horribly misunderstood the quotation, or you deliberately misrepresented it.

Dr. Abshire on Historic Doctrines vs. Modern Feminist Assumptions

…the view that you propose here is at best about forty years old, originating in Liberal universities and mainline theological seminaries in the late 1960’s and filtering into evangelical ones in the 1970’s…

Dr. Abshire on Tale Bearing, the “C” Word, and the Duty of False Accusers to Repent

Will you repent of your false accusations, or maintain them? Please remember-this is not an attack against you… you have publicly accused us of being cultic and teachers of false doctrine… If we do not believe it, then you have born false witness against us, breaking the Ninth Commandment and slandering the brethren. Therefore, you need to recant here, publicly and confess your sin to your readers.

The War against 1900 Years of Established Church Orthodoxy

Multi-generational faithfulness is not a new concept. Male leadership in the family, church, and state is not a new concept (Ex 18:21ff; Prov. 31:23; 1 Cor. 11:3ff; Eph. 5:23). Biblical femininity(Prov. 31; Eph. 5:22-24; 1Tim. 2:9ff), women as “keepers at home” (Titus 2:5ff) and helpmeets to their husbands is not a new concept. The duty of fathers to protect their daughters until they are “given in marriage”(Dt. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:37-38) is not a new concept. The importance of seeking the Lord for children as His reward is not a new concept(Ps. 127:1-5). All of these are important elements of principles of biblical patriarchy.

These are not new concepts, nor are they concepts rooted in cultural traditions or pagan precedents. We maintain that they are exegetically defensible, biblical concepts rooted in the creation order itself, communicated through the dominion mandate and subsequent law revelations of God, and reflective of His transcendent character and eternal righteousness.

And the weight of church history and biblical scholarship favors these understandings.

Critics of these principles who claim to be Christian within the historical Reformation tradition, but who don’t want to be called “feminist,” have their work cut out for them. Because, in the end, they have to pick a fight with scholars and teachers far more astute than most of the best ones alive today: They have to pick a fight with the likes of John Calvin, John Knox, Martin Luther, and Martin Bucer— just to name a few. (Frankly, the positions adovcated by Vision Forum Ministries are mild and tempered compared to some of the conclusions advocated by these men.)

But these critics appear disinclined to do so. At least no credible individuals have done so to date. True, there is a spate of liberal university scholarship arguing for an anti-hierarchical, anti-patriarchal, anti-complementarian, pro-egalitarian view of Scripture. (And much of it follows the rules of civil dialogue and discourse.) But most of these individuals do not claim to be within the pale of the historic, conservative, reformation or evangelical tradition. They are liberals, and they are honest about that fact. They are honest about their feminism. Some of them are even excellent scholars — like Gordon Fee (Author of numerous books on evangelical feminism). I just happen to disagree with them.

My criticism goes out to those who pretend to be neither feminist, nor liberals, but who have adopted the premises of both and who resort to the type of disreputable tactics, which Dr. Abshire has rightly censured. These are the half-cocked and sometimes agenda-driven commentators. From such we have come to expect an avoidance of documented, confirmable facts, in favor of ad hominum attacks, caricature, and whopper stories which appear designed to present as freaks and cultic those proponents of family reformation who sympathize with the type of ideas summarized in the first paragraph of this article.

At this point, more and more people realize that there is a big difference between a sloppy diatribe, on the one hand, and a real argument marshaled by reputable sources who have done their homework, on the other. Brian Abshire’s exhaustive refutation of an episode of serious talebearing demonstrates that people who resort to shadowy tactics have disqualified themselves from the right to be taken seriously — at least until they clean up their act and turn over a new leaf.

Dr. Abshire’s article accomplishes one other important goal: It brings encouragement to fathers and sons, moms and daughters committed to family reformation — and there are many — who have been subject to unfair harassment or vicious talebearing. It should encourage them, not only because of his charitable spirit and reasoned argumentation, but because his article is a sign of what can be — reasoned, brotherly discourse for the glory of God.

Click here to view the article.

Cult-Watch Ministry Publishes Article Exposing Doug Phillips’ Connection to Bill Gothard

Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc. is about to release the Spring 2007 edition of their Journal. The lead story for the Journal is an exposé about Doug Phillips entitled Who Will Be The First in the Kingdom?

MCOI’s practice is to post their articles in pdf format on their web site approximately three months after they mail out their Journal to subscribers. If you don’t already receive the MCOI Journal you can contact them and request to be added to the mailing list. They are a faith ministry and you may want to consider sending them a donation or perhaps supporting them on a regular basis.

Doug Phillips with Bill GothardMidwest Christian Outreach’s focus is “evangelizing and ministering to the victims of cults and spiritually abusive groups.” For over ten years, they’ve written extensively exposing Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other cultic and abusive religious groups, including Bill Gothard. Needless to say I completely concur that an exposé on Doug Phillips seems to be in order. In his article, Don also addresses some of the teachings of Bill Gothard (Don has written an entire book exposing Gothardism). This is entirely appropriate as Doug Phillips has been greatly influenced by Gothardism. Among other things, this includes Doug’s views on authority, Patriarchy, and courtship.

The author of the article and President of MCOI, Don Veinot, has given permission for me to post some quotes from his article. It’s a lengthy article, so in order to appreciate these quotes in the context of the full article I recommend ordering the Journal from MCOI.

Who Will Be First in the Kingdom?

As most of our readers know, the mission of MCOI is to look at the teachings and claims of popular movements and individuals inside the church as well as the cults, false religions, and false teachers outside of it. This mission arises from Paul’s mandate to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:28-31 to guard the flock from false teachers who would creep into the church from the outside and from false teachers who arise from within. If they utilize Scripture to support their teachings, we try to determine how they use it, and whether or not they abuse it…

Evangelicals would be generally opposed to using cultic material containing extra-biblical, unbiblical and, at times, outright heretical teachings in our churches’ services, Bible studies or Sunday school classes. That is a good thing, but many churches do not have as good a track record when it comes to recognizing false teachers who arise from within. We tend to have a “black-hat” vs. “white-hat” mentality in this area: Cults, false religions, and false teachers outside the church are the black hats—the bad guys; and we can just tell our people to stay away from them. Evangelicals, on the other hand, are the good guys with the white hats; and what we believe is orthodox. As a result, however, many believers are not prepared to challenge and help cultists outside our doors or to evaluate false teachers or teachings within the church. Discernment, along with a good understanding of the essential, basic doctrinal teachings of the faith, generally is not taught in any depth in many churches. Due to this deficit, and because we tend to view Evangelicals as the “white-hat” crowd, there is a great deal of difficulty evaluating the teachings of teachers and groups who have a fairly orthodox statement of faith and are viewed as being on “our team.”

We ran into this problem when we first began looking at the teachings of Bill Gothard and the Institute in Basic Life Principles in the 1990s. It isn’t his Statement of Faith in essential orthodoxy that is problematic; it is his additions, mis-/re-definitions, and other claims that moves him into “false teacher” category. He presents his teachings as “non-optional” truths that should be accepted by all. Many Christians are completely blind to the problem, which continues to result in division within churches and separation of family members. Many of his followers believe his allegations that all true Christians should unquestioningly follow all of his teachings, rules, and principles for living. After all, if his prescriptions are “non-optional,” are they not just suggestions, but rather commandments? Why do his followers seem to believe failing to obey his ironclad “spiritual laws” will incur the wrath of God? And who wants that? Those who question his teachings are viewed as spiritually inferior and even their status as Christians can be seriously doubted by Gothard’s hard-core followers. The peer pressure on those inside is oppressive, and independent thinking is strongly discouraged which has resulted in the painful devastation of many families and individuals within “Gothardism.” It turns out to be a very cult-like situation for many Christians who are just trying to please God and happen to get caught up with a false teacher.

The Courtship of “Edie’s” Father
Many times false teachers have a Bible verse, or collection of Bible verses, which makes their view sound not only plausible, but also mandated from the very mouth of God! Let’s take courtship, for example. Courtship as defined in these circles is winning the heart of the father who will assist the future son-in-law in bringing about the marriage to the young woman in whom a young man is interested. The idea is strongly conveyed that this sort of courtship or betrothal is found in the pages of Holy Writ and is, therefore, God’s mind and will on the matter. Well, is this concept taught in Scripture? It doesn’t really matter; for if the inspired teacher makes the assertion, then it must be true. Even if an example of this “courtship of ‘Edie’s’ father” was found in Scripture, does that mean it is God’s way for it to be done? Isn’t it true that not everything found in the Bible represents God’s will on a particular matter at all or, perhaps, does not hold true for all time and every situation? A few years ago, Ron Henzel, MCOI’s Senior Researcher, came across a satire of this methodology:

Top 10 Biblical Ways to Acquire a Wife
10. Find a prostitute and marry her. (Hosea 1:1-3)
9. Purchase a piece of property, and get a woman as part of the deal. (Ruth 4:5-10)
8. Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she’s yours. (Deuteronomy 21:11-13)
7. Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. (Judges 21:19-25)
6. Cut 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law’s enemies and get his daughter for a wife. (I Samuel 18:27)
5. Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. (Esther 2:3-4)
4. Find a man with seven daughters, and impress him by watering his flock. (Exodus 2:16-21)
3. When you see someone you like, go home and tell your parents, “I have seen a woman; now get her for me.” If your parents question your decision, simply say, “Get her for me. She’s the one for me.” (Judges 14:1-3)
2. Agree to work seven years in exchange for a woman’s hand in marriage. Get tricked into marrying the wrong woman. Then work another seven years for the woman you wanted to marry in the first place. That’s right. Fourteen years of toil for a woman. (Genesis 29:15-30)
1. Have God create a wife for you while you sleep. Note: this will cost you a rib. (Genesis 2:19-24)

We can’t imagine the 200 foreskins idea will actually fly in Twenty-First-Century America. Moreover, grabbing a POW doesn’t sound very practical either. Of course, this is a satire demonstrating how virtually anything can be made to sound right and biblical. First, we start with the false assumption that if something is recorded in the Bible, then it is God’s will on the matter. Next, we abandon the context of the passages and/or the overall context of biblical revelation in order to support our contention. Further, if we add the idea, preferably by implication, that true, obedient Christians will embrace and put into practice (without question) what we have set forth, we can impose our idea while effectively squelching any dissent…

Catching the Vision … Forum
Several years ago, we noticed Doug Phillips of Vision Forum was a speaker at one of Bill Gothard’s conferences. Of course, not everyone who speaks there is aware of Gothard’s false teaching on authority, circumcision, etc. Since then, however, we have received requests for info about Vision Forum via e-mail, regular mail, and phone calls. Suddenly, churches are having divisions and splits erupting as Vision Forum advocates insist that Sunday schools and youth groups be disbanded, and all church functions become all-family events. Anything else is being called unbiblical. Christian parents who do not home school their children are leaving some churches, because the Vision Forum home-schoolers are looking down on them and referring to them as “Canaanites.” We are well aware that followers can distort the teachings of a leader or organization, and they can do and say things that were never intended to be promoted. However, Vision Forum is growing in influence; and with so many requests for information about them, we decided we should probably look at their material that is available to the public. I started with their web site.

At first glance, Vision Forum’s web site looks more like a web site about American patriotism than anything about Christianity. As I read through the opening page, I came across this statement: “Vision Forum Calls for American Christians to Remember the Mighty Deeds of God at the Quadricentennial of Our Founding as Nation.” Well, I am an American patriot, and I do believe God has done some great works in this nation. However, is there a theme here? Is Christianity supposed to be evaluated mostly through the grid of patriotic Americanism? Certainly, this is not stated and may not be intended, but isn’t that how it comes across?

There didn’t seem to be a readily accessible Statement of Faith on the site, so I emailed Doug Phillips to request one. I received a response from Doug’s personal assistant, Bob Renaud, with a link to the Statement of Faith. After looking over this portion of the web site, I e-mailed Bob with several questions:

– Does one have to affirm Calvinism in order to be viewed as a believer?
– If a church holds to dispensational theology rather than reformed theology, would you consider it a Christian church or a false church?
– As you talk about a church teaching the “whole revelation of God,” would that mean that to be considered a Christian Church they would have to agree with your view of patriarchy?
– There are several forms of church government practiced, all claiming to be the biblical form. Are there any that you would regard as not biblical and if a church uses that form of government are they considered to be not a Christian church?

I have sent these questions via e-mail on January 6 and January 25, 2007; and so far, I have not received a response. This increases our concerns rather than lessening them. Is it intentional or do they realize that the language in this section of the web site comes across as implying that if one doesn’t agree with Vision Forum’s position, they are at the very least in rebellion to God’s revealed will?…

There are many things within the writings of Vision Forum which are good and biblical. They, like MCOI and many others, see the Church has not been strong in Christo-centric (Christ-centered) teaching for several hundred years, and false world views have captured the imaginations and minds of Western culture and even many in the Church. But as is so often the case, the more reasonable positions they take serve to draw in concerned Christians, and the very problematic teachings are added on top. Although there are constant assurances that women are equal before God, there are also constant reminders that her mind is the least important aspect of who she is and something which must daily be set aside. This is demeaning, and it is an absolute tragedy if a woman becomes truly convinced of this! Does this view ultimately accuse God of making a mistake? Why would He create women with a mind that they constantly have to work at not using?

A Patriarchal Gospel
Is patriarchy, as defined by Vision Forum, part of the “grand sweep of revelation” which Scripture requires to be believed, lived and taught in order to be faithful to Christ? Does Vision Forum practice patriarchy as it was practiced in Old Testament times, for we find no instruction on it in the New Testament? Are those who disagree with Vision Forum truly rebellious believers? These answers have to be “no.” Vision Forum asserts that patriarchy is “Gospel-centered doctrine.” If Vision Forum’s claim about the practice of patriarchy being “Gospel-centered doctrine” is true; then according to this thinking, if one rejects the Vision Forum view, one is rejecting the very Gospel!

It is true the patriarchs were rulers. Not all males were patriarchs, nor did they have the opportunity to become patriarchs. Patriarchs were tribal chieftains. The patriarchal father would typically pass his position of patriarch to his firstborn son. We have instances in Scripture where the family headship was passed to the second born, but the effect was the same. All of the relatives became, in effect, his servants and property. We see an example of this in Genesis 27 when Jacob deceived Isaac into giving him the patriarchal blessing that naturally would have been passed on to his firstborn brother, Esau. The result and full import of what this meant is spelled out by Isaac in Genesis 27:37:

But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” (NASB)

Sorrowfully, Isaac let Esau know that his hands were tied. The mantle of rulership had been passed on and now all of Jacob’s relatives, aunts, uncles, brother’s sisters, cousins, etc., including Esau, are to be Jacob’s slaves, Jacob’s property. The point is Vision Forum isn’t going far enough if their objective is to embrace Old Testament patriarchy! If they want patriarchy, they cannot simply pick and choose which elements they wish to leave out. Are tribal fiefdoms really supposed to be the pattern for the Church? Forget about wives submitting to husbands—all our relatives have to submit to Uncle Ned!

We find nothing in the Old or New Testament setting up any system of “Christian patriarchy,” nor making patriarchy “Gospel-centered.” If in order to be faithful to Christ we are required to believe, teach and live patriarchy as it was practiced in Scripture; then all brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., would have to submit themselves to the rulership of whomever son the patriarchal father designated as the new patriarch! Simply because a concept can be found in Scripture, does not mean it is ordained by God. And even if something was ordained by God for a certain place or time, that fact does not mandate the same for all eras and times. We have to discern and rightly divide (2 Tim.2:15) when we read Scripture…

The Israelites were allowed to practice polygamy and own slaves. Even though God did not command Israel to practice polygamy or own slaves, He allowed and regulated both. Are these practices mandated or even encouraged today?…

“Submit to One Another”
Most often at the core of these distorted authoritarian teachings is an unbiblical view of leadership. The Scriptures are clear that we are to submit to authority in such passages as Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13 and Ephesians 5. But what does that mean?

The biblical patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—had been called out of paganism, and so they continued practicing certain pagan customs. God didn’t change everything all at once. Their view of authority was a rather harsh top down structure. The one at the top was the boss, and all the rest were underlings—basically his servants. The disciples still harbored a similar view, and on several occasions were arguing over who would end up at the top of the authority structure. Who would sit at the right or left hand of Jesus? Jesus set them straight, however, and turned the authority structure on its head…

Christian authority is not merely a circumstance of birth order or gender, which bestows a position of power in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ, who as God, is the only rightful heir of all “authority” (Matt.28:18) demonstrated by His sacrificial life on how Christian authority is to be attained and wielded. Authority is earned by sacrificial living. We are all to focus on serving those around us. It also means that the higher one ascends to a position of leadership in the church, the more accountable they become to a larger number of people. Those who are truly leaders in a biblical sense live in glass houses, and everyone around them has Windex! It also means that those who follow do so because they are able to observe and trust those who lead (1 Thess. 1:5)…

The world around us is still mostly ordered in a top down structure. We in the western world enjoy more political equality and freedom than most, but authoritarian leadership as a concept is not dead. Our political leaders may claim it is their desire to “serve the people,” but we mostly see them jockeying for positions of good-old-fashioned power. The Church has some of these same problems. Many people seem to desire to be freed from responsibility by being simply “told what to do.” It eliminates the need to have a personal relationship with God and to diligently practice biblical discernment. And although we are aware of the many true servant/leaders in the Church, there seems also to be no shortage of “leaders” who are more than happy to rule like little kings. This type of leader becomes the mediator for his followers, and the followers simply have to hear and obey. God becomes merely the “big stick” the leader uses to keep everyone in line…

Christian leadership is about serving others—it is about servanthood. Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life” for all of us. Why don’t we get this? His headship over us is not overbearing or abusive—that is how the pagans understand authority! He loves us and wants what is best for us. He is gentle and humble in heart; His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:29-30). In the same way, as husbands are as the head in order to serve their wives, the wives willingly serve and follow their husbands. In good marriages, the husband is not threatened by his wife; and he builds into what she is doing. He would thank God for her mind, not only for her own development, but also as a great asset to him and to the family! In turn, there is not much she would not willingly do for him. Marriage is not meant to be a power struggle…

If all of us were busy considering others better than ourselves and serving each other in love, then the power struggles would end not only in gender issues but also in all personal relationships within the body.

Why is the pagan top-down view of authority promoted by Vision Forum so pervasive that it is present in most paragraphs in their “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy?” Even in Old Testament times, a man was wise who did not oppress his wife, but partnered with her for the good of the family…

There probably are many things Vision Forum does well. However, why would they allow this unbiblical and harmful authoritarian core or foundation, which as a result, eclipses whatever good things they may do? Don’t they realize that as they thrust their pagan and unbiblical view of authority on their followers, it will create stress and schisms on family relationships, relationships with friends and splits in churches? A refocus on biblical leadership and serving as Jesus Christ served is what is needed.

In recent weeks I’ve been giving much thought to the subject of Patriarchy, or as Doug Phillips and others call it, “Biblical Patriarchy.” This article by Midwest Christian Outreach only challenged me to more carefully examine a number of assumptions that I had long held about Patriarchy. Now I’m of the opinion that a great deal of it isn’t very biblical at all, nor is it “Gospel.”

In the near future, I hope to write some articles exposing why Patriarchy, according to Doug Phillips’ Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy, has a number of serious flaws. I believe that Doug’s views on Patriarchy played a major role in his “pastoral counsel” to Mark and me, and that “counsel” was injurious to our marriage. I also now see how his views of Patriarchy played a direct role in his “excommunication” of us as well.