NCFIC: A Vision Forum Retread

Andrew McDonald has been reading and commenting here for the last year, and partially because of his involvement here, he has encountered his own story of church discipline which he would like to share with us here.  While there have been many, many people and families who have been hurt in various ways through the years by Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Scott Brown, NCFIC, and others associated with these men and their ministries, most have chosen the easy road of just keeping quiet.  It takes real courage to speak out publicly about what is happening, to warn friends and family that their house is on fire!  Patriarchy, and the abuses within its walls, is still alive and well.  To those who are still in the patriarchy movement, and/or the NCFIC movement: Your house is on fire!  The time to act is now!

Here is Andrew’s story, in his own words:

Some of you know my concerns as I have written on Jen’s Gems a bit. People are still suffering from Doug Phillips’ abuse and speaking out is part of the process of healing. I began thinking about those like him: Men desiring control. I’ve posted about that and gave details of the past and present situations in my own life and church. Some details were specifically about Scott Brown and as a result someone alerted the leader of my church and I was eventually called into a private meeting and confronted. I do not deny that some good has come alongside the wrong teachings, there has been much good done, but the wrong teachings are never justified by adjacent successes. Successes are really God’s department and to His credit not ours. He gets the glory. Justifying the error by mention of the benefit only makes the situation more tragic, it does not validate the error. Since the leader knows I post here I’ve decided to respond here. You may well ask what is my background and how dare I say these things? Glad you asked! I am a great sinner who has a greater Savior, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and trying to follow after the Great Shepherd who invites us all to follow Him. I say these things not because I am worthy; I say them because the TRUTH is worthy and, lastly, because folks need to be warned.

An Open Letter to my former leader:

When you confronted me about posting on this blog, you showed up with a stack of paper and mentioned over 100 pages written. I thought that seemed like a lot. In order to get an accurate idea of what I said in the posts and the volume of the entries, I went through the site and copied them all. I posted 66 messages, printable in less than 23 pages, not even close to the ‘over 100 pages’ mentioned. Most posts were short and, contrary to your ‘concern’, took little time away from my family. Some were late at night as the matter was heavy on my heart.

No posts were purposefully inflammatory; they were my experiences or opinions tempered with prayer and investigation. That the posts were truthful is bolstered by the fact that they eventually identified me. Most were inquiries about Doug Phillips’ close associate, Scott Brown. Scott Brown was initially my concern. Some posts were sincere inquiry seeking counsel.

a-weed-in-the-churchI contacted people who knew Scott Brown to confirm that he had problems; the events were confirmed by personal testimony and church records. These events were never cleared up.

As it turns out, your belief that Scott Brown is ‘one of the godliest men’ you know is based solely on your experience with him. I continued to research and began to post in December of 2013. NONE of the posts were made until after I’d spoken with you. My concerns were effectively dismissed. After I told you that the posts were mine, you moved to the old standby tactic of all authoritarian leaders: accuse and intimidate. You accused me of being a gossip and a busy body even though you knew that I came to you with each concern and you also knew I had not broadcast it about the church. Am I a gossip? Like Doug Phillips has said, ‘He who defines the terms wins.’ But my intent was not to get the ‘juicy stuff’ as you said; it was only to get at the truth, to protect against wrong teachings and to warn you.

I am sure that I am not the only one with concerns over these matters. Yet many will say nothing as they understand the reception and repercussions of doing so. This lack of freedom to speak is not surprising to anyone on this blog. It thrives in all cultish environs where perfunctory dismissal of differing opinions seems to be the order of the day. I am not sure who told you about this blog, but it really matters little to me. I imagine it is another concerned person in the church and I am glad they are concerned. I hope they continue to dig into the details. If they do they will discover the truth. I do not regret warning others or checking into folks presented as ‘teachers’ or ‘authorities’; it is the obligation of any follower of Christ and especially one who leads in any capacity to ‘know the well from which they drink.’ We are charged to be Bereans, to see ‘if these things be so.’

I went through the NCFIC site to see just how deeply entrenched you were. It was a task to be sure. I found your presence pervasive and realized your course had been set firmly. I discovered that the beliefs along these lines were nothing new, they began even before you came here. You testified to that in your phone interview on the NCFIC blog. The beliefs were fostered, in part, by and through Doug Wilson and his disciples.

At your first church experience you expressed frustration at trying to ‘replicate the ministries’ of your sending church. You say it caused burn out and ended with the eventual abandonment of Junior Church. In the phone interview with Scott Brown, you said a youth pastor gave you a booklet by Christopher Schlect. The pamphlet explained why people should remove their children from Sunday School and youth ministries and how such activities are anti-Biblical.

When I researched Schlect, I found he was a member of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Christians. (CREC is a denomination/sect started by Doug Wilson in 1998 surrounded by dubious activities and shenanigans.) I saw that he was a teacher at New Saint Andrews College (Doug Wilson’s college). His pamphlet was published by Canon Press (Doug Wilson’s company). Then I recalled your response when I tried to caution you about Doug Wilson, after you gave out one of his books at a men’s retreat. I researched Doug Wilson, and then came to you. I warned you and you said he was a friend. I thought you were just trying to get a book published. Now it makes sense, you were already a follower. My warning was years too late.

After your church plant, you found an established church to implement your newly adopted ideas. In the interview you declare that you came to the church and began your ‘5 year deprogramming’ plan. You followed exactly Paul Washer’s counsel on his You Tube video for ‘Reforming a Church’. Gaining their confidence, by teaching on relevant issues like the family, you moved right along ‘letting some ministries die gracefully’ rather than axing them. Although I’m not sure how any ministry dies gracefully, that is what you said in the interview.

You have also followed the example of Scott Brown. When he got in a tight spot, he called for a ‘vote of confidence’ . I recalled the same ploy used at church when people voiced concern at a congregational meeting just after Scott Brown had been there. You called for a vote of confidence and it worked. In retrospect, that was a sad, sad day. If the vote had been the other way, the church would have been saved from much trouble. The whole event seemed out of place, the timing of the ploy may have been a tad off, perhaps a bit overplayed, but hey, it worked. It was a watershed moment.

Those who knew something was wrong likely knew they’d just lost their church. Trouble was that they lacked the expertise of the better communicator. Mark this, they did not lose because they were wrong, they lost because they were not as articulate, as organized, as winsome and because they got too emotional over the issue. They had the disadvantage because they did not really know what was being played at. Few did. They were colorfully painted as aggressive, arrogant, close minded, slightly ignorant and off base. Some colors were slightly true and that lent credence to the accusations; yet who is perfect, don’t we all have some of these traits? The flesh is hard to capture and, as Christians, we are all in the process.

After this event you, more firmly, established your authority; after all the church is a ‘pastor rule’ church and it was your prerogative. When this all started I wonder if the congregation saw the big picture. I wonder if they knew about the ‘5 year plan’ or about ‘letting ministries die gracefully.’ I am sure the idea of changes for the ‘good’ of the congregation seemed good. Some, in fact, were good; that they were based on an unbiblical foundation was far from their minds. Did they know they were involved in ‘worldly practices’? I doubt it. Scott Brown was the first real clue but it was already too late, the wheels had been set in motion. I have to respect what you’ve accomplished even though the church had to split to get there. I have learned from this: I will NEVER attend a ‘pastor rule’ church again; sadly human nature is just too corrupt for such a rule.

I did consider revealing myself on the blog. I thought it was perhaps even courageous since you implied that to be posting on the blog under a pseudonym was cowardly and sinful. Blasphemous, you said about the site, although I still cannot see that one; I see no contempt or lack of reverence for God on the site. Yet I’ve decided not to reveal myself as it would reduce this to a personality contest. The contest should be the truth against falsehood. It may take awhile but the truth will always win. Some do not think too deeply about much and it is not their fault. If it wasn’t for Scott Brown, I would not have thought more. Not knowing was far more comfortable.

When I first began all this, I did it because I thought you were being charmed or won over by these people. I wanted to warn you. I was wrong. I was quizzical at the reception of the information I had retrieved, for two reasons: first, it is very, very likely true; and second, I thought you’d appreciate the time and effort involved in an effort to warn you. Instead, you told me I should be a ‘spy or a detective’, that I should stay off the internet.

Your challenge to pray about what I was doing caused me to go to prayer and to the NCFIC site again. I combed through it and found the phone interview mentioned, then I knew by your own admission, you had come to the church with a preconceived notion, inspired by the followers of the beliefs espoused by NCFIC. Unbeknownst to the church membership, you began to work it out. They should have known the whole plan, they did not. Doing it this way was wrong. An announcement posted by NCFIC, about the telephone interview you and two other pastors participated in, stated, ‘What these men dared to do was not easy. But, with much prayer, teaching, and faithfulness these pastors have made significant strides in dismantling various worldly practices in their churches!’  I do not think that the church you came to, after a failed church plant, had ‘various worldly practices’ going on. I know you could say, ‘Well, that’s what they wrote; I never said that.’ That fits nicely with the plausible deniability that the NCFIC and all their followers always seem to have.

Your accusation of my demeaning you (by mentioning that you were young) is not fair, as if I am against you personally. I am not. The fact is, you are young, you are just as susceptible to spiritual deception as anyone else, and as a leader you’re even more likely to be targeted than others for deception. On this site, I said you were young and asked people to pray. As I told you, this was not meant as a slam. I still ask that, now even more fervently.

In researching this situation, I can’t tell you how many people sounded like Sgt. Shultz from the old Hogan’s Heroes show, ‘I know nothing!’ or the TV evangelist’s ‘Don’t touch God’s anointed.’ If I did not know the people involved, I might ask, ‘Who has bewitched you?’ Except I know who bewitched you for I was bewitched by the same crowd.

In 2006 the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International said Family Integrated Church practices were ‘errant and schismatic.’ They pretty much sum it up:

• It encourages schism in the local church bodies by encouraging its adherents to change the theology and philosophy of the churches of which they are members.

• It does violence to local church authority, calling on local church members to leave their churches when the church does not bow to the philosophical demands of the movement.

• It espouses an ecclesiology based upon the family that is not based upon the New Testament but rather is an adaptation of Old Testament patriarchy.

• It falsely lays the claim that the destruction of the family in the U.S. is solely the fault of age-graded ministries in local churches. We contend that this is a simplistic and therefore false accusation.

• It espouses a postmillennial theology that is contradictory to a dispensational understanding of Scripture.

• It is oddly inclusive, basing fellowship on a particular philosophy of ministry rather than on the great fundamentals of the faith.

I do not say that anyone involved in the NCFIC is lacking salvation. Salvation does not hinge on these things singularly but the efficacy of the salvation message can be clouded by them, the Christian walk can be hindered by them and unity will certainly suffer from them. I urge you to step down from involvement with these people, as Kevin Swanson has done, and just pastor your church; the people love you, they do not need someone in ‘substantial’ agreement with NCFIC. (Gotta love those nebulous words; they always provide a convenient back door if things get hot!) The people need you to stand for God, for His Word and lead. And be honest with them, if they want to go the direction you intend then great but give them a voice in the matter.

God Bless,

Andrew

For more information about:
Scott Brown look here.
Doug Wilson look here and here.
Doug Wilson’s school.

UPDATE: This letter will certainly identify me as I put it into the hands of church leadership before I decided to post it and parts of it (like the statement from the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International) were given to alert leadership to the hazards of the NCFIC. Already my family has been turned away from by some folks who will no longer come to our home because of, as one dear saint said, some ‘offense.’ Naturally unexplained. Another hung up their phone when we called. We are funny and predictable creatures upon which God has lavished his love. We should do likewise even in the face of shunning. In the end, God will prevail and we will understand, one day, just why we did the things we did and how it was right or wrong; for God’s glory or our own. In the meantime we must continue to look to Jesus.

I was told yesterday that the pastor called a congregational meeting where they were told that I’d posted ‘lies’ on the web about him and the church. That explains the responses we’re getting. Oh well. Funny thing is just before I got the phone call about the meeting I’d told my wife we were probably excommunicated in abstentia; not too far from wrong on that one! Explains the cold shoulders we’re getting.  I wonder why no one is thinking about how so many folks who’ve left could all have been wrong?

Doug Phillips: Peace Maker or Truth Silencer?

02-07-13-saicff-beallOne year ago, the theme of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival seemed to be “Defending the Defenseless.”  This festival came only days on the heels of Doug Phillips being found in a compromising position with “Cassandra” and the subsequent sudden departure of her family from the beloved church they had attended for nearly thirteen years.  Putting women and children first, and defending the defenseless, seemed to be the farthest thing from Doug Phillips’ mind as he stood front and center on the stage and continued to hide his deep, dark secrets from his adoring fans. At that time, no one knew he had quietly stepped down as elder, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his family.  The reality is that he probably turned on the charm in order to save his marriage after having been caught.  He waited until after the film festival to “confess” his sins to Bob Sarratt, the only other elder at BCA, a “yes man” who was very good at keeping Doug’s sins secret for the next nine months.

saicff postponedWhen Vision Forum Ministries announced online last October that the 9th annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival was first postponed, and then cancelled, it sparked waves of confusion and frustration for the filmmakers and their families who had worked so diligently to meet the film submission deadline which was only days away.  Rather than emailing those on the SAICFF list and telling them of the postponement and cancellation, and with absolutely no explanation of why Vision Forum Ministries’ most popular annual event was being suddenly dropped at the last moment, the grapevine soon became the de facto form of communication within this small, but tightly knit, troop of independent Christian film makers.  One by one, they contacted each other in utter disbelief: “How could this happen?  We just spent the last year of our lives working on making another film, and now what?”

Ten days later, when Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, it began to make some sense.  But did it really?  Or did it actually cause more questions and more confusion?  After all, according to World Magazine’s April 5, 2014 cover story article about Doug Phillips, the five men who confronted Doug Phillips on his doorstep did so the day before he resigned, which was October 30, 2013.  If that is true, why did Vision Forum cancel the film festival ten days prior to Doug being confronted?  I’m guessing there’s a whole lot more to this story than meets the eye, including why Scott Brown knew, at the latest, by September 9, 2013, and still allowed Doug Phillips to continue on with his duties as normal.

At this exact same time, a pastor in Illinois, Philip Telfer, was moving his family down to the San Antonio area to become the new pastor at Living Water Fellowship, which is Little Bear Wheeler’s church in the “community” here.  Although Pastor Telfer had gone to a couple of the film festivals put on by Vision Forum and submitted a couple films himself, he had no interest in patriarchy whatsoever.  Coming from an inner-city youth ministry in Chicago, patriarchy was a totally foreign concept to Pastor Telfer. Like so many other filmmakers and individuals who were just there to observe, they attended Vision Forum’s San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival simply because it was the only game in town for Christian films.

Not desiring all that work and talent to be wasted and discouraged, Pastor Telfer naively thought that it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together a new film festival for everyone who was already expecting one, so he went to Little Bear with his idea of simply providing an avenue for a film festival.  In his mind, he just needed to find a venue, pick a date relatively close to the original date, and organize it.  Little Bear thought he was nuts!  He had no idea of the politics behind Doug Phillips’ resignation and that he would now be painting a large target on his back for stepping on such sacred ground.  Not to be daunted, however, Pastor Telfer set out to provide a safe place for Christian filmmakers to gather and continue their annual film festival traditions.

CWFFWhen I first heard of this initiative, I was a bit dubious.  What were his real motives?  Is this just another ministry rising up to promote more patriarchy?  Is this man trying to make a name for himself on someone else’s coattails?  The only thing I knew about him was that one of our mutual friends was in ministry together with Pastor Telfer, in a ministry called Media Talk 101.  That was encouraging enough to me to check it out since I knew my friend, a humble man who dearly loves the Lord, was definitely not into patriarchy, although he is a godly family man.  I considered attending the new Christian Worldview Film Festival, held March 11-15, 2014, but I wasn’t really interested in just being a spy.  That didn’t seem like a good idea, so I thought about it for a long time.

I have been going to school for quite a while now to become a certified health coach and my area of emphasis is in learning how to help people who are going through traumatic events, or who have not healed from the stress and trauma and pain of past events in life.  Not only have I experienced much trauma and pain from the excommunication and all the aftermath from that, especially with my children, but I have also experienced a tremendous amount of agonizing and heartbreaking ordeals and upheavals in the last decade or so.  God has taught me many ways to not only handle the stress and emotion and pain that accompany these difficulties in life, but also how to bring about the level of healing that actually makes me stronger and a much better person because of attending the University of Hard Knocks.

With Doug Phillips’ resignation came a mass of chaos, confusion, pain, and deep wounds within the “community,” both local and nationwide.  Even many of those who thought they had finally put their differences with Doug Phillips in the past and had moved forward in life suddenly found themselves looking hurt in the mirror one more time.  And it was very confusing.  As TW Eston and I continued to write articles here after Doug’s resignation, the comments, both here and elsewhere, were filled with, first, denial, then anger accompanied by deep hurt.  In any grieving process, these two are the first stages of how we respond emotionally in any situation where we have loss.  Bargaining and depression are the next stages before finally coming to terms with accepting the loss.  For some, going through these five stages of grieving happens very rapidly, but for others, it takes a very long period of time, while there are many who never reach the last stage of acceptance, allowing one to move forward in life.  When we “bury” our feelings and emotions from a hurtful experience in life, we find ourselves stuck somewhere in this grieving process, unable to truly move forward freely in life.  Others remain in the anger stage forever.

Telling my story online seven years ago was a cathartic process for me, and for those who followed along, many saw me go through these stages right in this blog.  I am grateful that God brought me through the grieving process to the healing point of acceptance so that I could move forward in my own life, partly because I was able to respond to this whole recent debacle without personally involving myself the way I did the first time around.  This allowed me to be much more objective.  It also allowed me to be able to empathize with those who just had the rug pulled out from underneath them.  I have read the comments and followed the conversations here and there, both online and in real life, with greater insight and compassion.

Healing from emotional pain is one of the life’s most transforming events ever.  It is more powerful than the initial trauma.  So, as I considered whether or not I should attend this year’s new Christian film festival, I realized that what I most wanted to do was to help bring healing to a hurting community.  How could I do that?  I decided to sign up as a volunteer and see what happened.  Although I could have used a fake name to get in the door, I knew that if I was going to bring healing to this hurting community that I needed to be just me, so I signed up online with my real name.  When the volunteer coordinator called me to talk to me about volunteering, I was surprised to find that she also attended BCA, but I was just going to go with the flow here, since my only goal was to bring healing to a hurting community. After we talked, she decided to have me “manage” the registration desk for the majority of the film festival.  That meant that my face would be the first one everyone saw when they entered the front door.  I knew I could use this opportunity for good!

With less than two days to go before the film festival began, I got the phone call.  I’ve heard this so many times before.  I either get a letter, an email, or a phone call, but they all say pretty much the same thing:  “Don’t ever darken the doors here again.”  I was fully prepared for the fact that this may be just another door slammed in my face, but when Philip Telfer called me to tell me that someone had emailed him, concerned about what might happen if I showed up at the film festival, I was pleasantly surprised when, instead, he asked me to have dinner with him and his wife that evening.  I knew they were super busy getting ready for the film festival, so I was honored that he would give me his time and give me the opportunity to speak for myself.  I found both Pastor Telfer and his wife to be wonderful people, and we easily fell into much laughter and a delightful conversation together!  It turned out that we both had the same goals in this film festival:  to bring healing to a hurting community.

HEROI am happy to report that the first annual Christian Worldview Film Festival was drama-free.  There was no idol who everyone was clamoring to see, but rather a servant-leader who was not only available whenever he was needed, but also just milled about and interacted with everyone in attendance.  If there was a mafia dressed in black, packing pieces, I did not see them.  What I did see were hundreds of happy people, excited to see old friends again, enjoying all the workshops, films, and special events that filled the week!  And I enjoyed being there to greet every single person each day.  As I saw those I had not seen in 8-10 years, I attempted to go out of my way to give each one of them a hug.  My goal was to hug every person I knew from my days in the “community.”  But what I found instead was that most of those who I had not seen in a long time were the first to want to give me a hug instead!  There was even one family that currently attends BCA who wanted to hug me.  Although I was not wearing a name tag, apparently, there were some who recognized my picture from online and came up to speak to me.  One lady, upon confirming who I was, gave me a big hug and just said, “Thank you!” with tears in her eyes. One small step for healing, one giant leap for the “community.”

I really did have a wonderful time there.  There were a few conversations about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, but for the most part, these people were here to focus on moving forward, not looking backward.  I went to a few films.  I really enjoyed a couple, like Hero and Creed of Gold.  There were a few I didn’t care for as well, but for me, that was not the main point.  I also attended a lecture by Rich Christiano because I heard he was controversial.  I wanted to hear that for myself. It was sad to see that certain young filmmakers did not show up, simply because it was not organized by Vision Forum.

Imagine the irony, then, of coming off the high of the first step toward healing, the first step toward making peace in this hurting “community,” of finding out in World’s article that Doug Phillips sent a letter, through his attorney, of course, threatening to sue three of the men who showed up on his doorstep that fateful day in October, 2013.  This letter was mailed March 13, 2014, right smack in the middle of the Christian Worldview Film Festival.  While many of us were working to bringing healing to a hurting community, Doug Phillips, obviously hurting himself that he was not the star of the show this year, was busy stirring up strife instead. The letter to Bob Renaud and Peter Bradrick (Doug Phillips’ former personal assistants) and Jordan Muela (former intern/VF employee) stated, in part: “the three of you have conspired together, and with others, in an attempt to destroy Doug Phillips, his family and Vision Forum Inc.”

internsThis immediately brings to mind several questions.  If there were five men standing on Doug Phillips’ doorstep on that red letter day in October, why were only these three threatened with a lawsuit?  Why not Dr. Joe Morecraft, who immediately preached a sermon about Doug Phillips’ fall, although he did not name him by name; and Mark Weaver, Doug’s close college friend?  I would posit that it has everything to do with the tiny little word found at the end of the sentence quoted above — “Inc.”  It seems readily apparent to me that while Doug Phillips rightfully acknowledged his responsibility to step down from ministry (albeit months and years too late, and only under duress), that he had every intention of keeping the business side of Vision Forum going strong, while he took a breather for a year or so from public speaking, and then he would pick up the reins once again, ready to lead the charge of his Vision Forum Ministries brigade, onward to victory over the evils of the real world.

Apparently, Doug Phillips believes that these three young men, whom he personally trained, not only in the patriarchal way of life but also in how to use any means possible to attain the desired results, were somehow responsible for destroying his business.  Pragmatism ruled the day in this business/ministry of Vision Forum, while love, respect, relationship, and all ethics were thrown to the wind.  So what did these three young men do to merit the threat of Doug Phillips suing them?  They broke the “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that the “No Gossip” rule is not to be found anywhere in Scripture.  Never mind that there is no law that contains this supposed “No Gossip” rule.  Never mind that one current BCA member recently stood up and said that this “No Gossip” rule does not exist, even in the face of hundreds of others who state otherwise.  The “No Gossip” rule was originally put into place to keep people from speaking about what was happening between Doug Phillips and Joe Taylor, and it grew in intensity and reach ever since.  The “No Gossip” rule has kept hundreds of hurting people, and families, from sharing their pain and hurts with anyone, for fear of retribution for breaking the “No Gossip” rule, even long after they left BCA or the “community.”

So what was this great sin that Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela committed?  What was this juicy gossip that they shared, that would merit the level of a defamation lawsuit?  Although Peter Bradrick’s Facebook page has since been closed, Peter shared his pain of being disowned by a man he considered to be both a father and a mentor to him.  Bob Renaud shared a few other details, showing that he and Peter had worked together to confront a man they both deeply loved.  Jordan Muela wrote a heartfelt Facebook article, “How Silence Enables Abuse.”  Although he did not name Doug Phillips (if I remember correctly), everyone in the community knew who he was speaking about.  (He has since hid his Facebook page, so I do not have access to the article now.)

ndarnlIn addition to these three young men speaking out, there were a few others who have spoken publicly as well.  Apparently, Doug Phillips does not consider the others to be a threat, but one that has spoken out in favor of everyone keeping silent is Nathaniel Darnell.  His most recent article about how to respond to the allegations of the nature being made against Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard caused quite a stir when he suggested that the young women should go to their elders if they were sexually abused.  I guess he forgot that that’s exactly what got them into that situation to begin with.

Although no one I personally know from BCA and the community has publicly apologized to me, nor even really said anything about my situation, there have been a handful who have privately apologized. On a personal note, I will say that as I read each of the articles and comments above, as well as those by Nolan Manteufel and Ryan Short, that I have shed many tears.  For me, they were healing tears, because at least I was not the lone person out here warning those I love that danger lurks nearby.  Finally someone else was seeing it as well.  It is truly tragic that it had to come at such a heavy price.  Nathan Barnes, another former VF intern/employee, posted this status on Facebook recently:

The laws of friendship require a discovery of that which endangers one another. You would count him unworthy the name of a friend, who knowing a thief or an incendiary to lurk in your family, with a design to kill, or rob, or burn your house, would conceal it from you, and not acquaint you with it on his own accord. There is no such thief, murderer, incendiary, as sin: it more endangers us, and those concernments that are more precious than goods, or house, or life; and that most endangers us, by which the Lord’s anger is already kindled against us. Silence or concealment in this case is treachery. He is the most faithful friend, and worthy of most esteem and affection, that deals most plainly with us, in reference to the discovery of our sin. He that is reserved in this case is but a false friend, a mere pretender to love, whereas, indeed, he hates his brother in his heart.  Clarkson, David (1865). The Practical Works of David Clarkson Retrieved from http://books.google.com

gobobSo why are all these statements made by Bob Renaud, Peter Bradrick, and Jordan Muela libelous to the point of warranting a lawsuit? Apparently, I Cor. 6 is magically erased from Doug Phillips’ Bible, but beyond the “sin” of violating the “No Gossip” rule, Doug Phillips seems to think that these three men conspired together to destroy the business half of Vision Forum.  By Doug’s own actions, he destroyed Vision Forum ministries, which closed on November 11, 2013, although he has threatened to make legal claims against the remaining Vision Forum Ministries board as well.  At first, he made it known that Doug still owned the business side of Vision Forum, but by November 27, 2013, we announced on this blog that Vision Forum, Inc., the business, would be closing permanently by December 31, 2013.  Unless Doug Phillips was actually following our lead, we correctly reported this event.  Most likely, we were not the first to know that Vision Forum, Inc. would be closing their doors, so this decision was probably made several days earlier than November 27, 2013.  Look at the comments made by Peter Bradrick and Bob Renaud again. The only comment made publicly before we announced that Vision Forum, Inc. was closing was made by Bob Renaud on October 22, 2013: “Your sins will find you out so it’s best to follow Lanny’s advice: ‘Tell it early. Tell it all. Tell it yourself.’” (This comment causes me to question World Magazine’s timeline for the front door confrontation, unless Bob was just sending a message out ahead of time.)  But all those other comments and articles were posted after Doug Phillips had already decided to close his business.

The only person who destroyed Vision Forum, both the ministry and the business, was Doug Phillips himself.  The only person who destroyed Doug Phillips’ reputation was Doug Phillips himself.  While the words of his former interns and close associates deeply hurt him, they were the wounds of friends who loved him enough to publicly rebuke a sinning leader, in the hopes of restoring him to his senses, and to a right relationship with God.  As Doug Phillips once stated in church, when a man falls for a woman, all common sense goes right out the window.  How prophetically true, in his case.

On August 7, 2013, Doug Phillips wrote a brilliant article about “True Repentance.”  What happened that prompted this article we’re not sure at this point, but now seems like a good time to remind Doug of some key points that he made: “Those who remain unrepentant should not expect the blessing of the Lord. Unrepentance is not only an impediment to the very object of our life—true unity with God—but it leads to the judgment of the Lord. It is the single greatest roadblock to family vision.”  Doug goes on to list six elements of godly sorrow that produce true repentance: brokenness, forsaking sin, truth telling, acceptance of responsibility, restitution, and peace.

From day one, we have been saying that Doug Phillips did not show any evidence of true repentance in his public statements.  I know him well enough to read between the crafty wording clever disguised as godly sorrow.  If Doug’s recent threats of legal action against his close friends and his former board members are any indication of where his heart is right now, these acts of retribution rather than restitution openly belie his words of resignation that are still publicly displayed for all to see.  Although I had held out a tiny spark of hope that Doug Phillips would truly repent, in the manner he himself prescribes, his blame shifting, his arrogance, his refusal to accept responsibility for tearing down his own house and ministry, and his insistence that others pay him restitution instead, all point to his stirring up even more strife rather than being the one who brings peace and healing to a hurting community.

In his latest article, TW Eston presciently stated:

Doug Phillips is hasty to resort to legal intimidation. He has legally threatened dozens of people. To my knowledge Doug Phillips has never actually taken anyone to trial. Rather, he only threatens to take them to court, but out of the goodness of his heart he agrees to settle with them out of court, provided they keep their mouths shut, i.e. they must sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. Are Non-Disclosure Agreements biblical? In certain cases an NDA may be appropriate, and they may not necessarily in all cases be expressly unbiblical. However, they should never be used if the underlying motive is to silence critics and cover up unrepentant sin. The purposes for which Doug Phillips has so frequently coerced the signing of NDA’s is only intended to silence those who would speak out against his egregious sins and hold him accountable for his duplicity and corruption. Doug Phillips’ habitual use of NDAs has allowed him to cover up a huge amount of sin, both his own sins and the sins of his accomplices.

But let us not be too hasty to judge Doug Phillips’ latest attempts to take his brothers to public court.  Perhaps he has found I Cor. 6 in his Bible after all, and has mentioned the possibility of Christian conciliation instead. On the surface, appealing to Peacemaker Ministries sounds promising, but what is Doug Phillips’ track record with these types of situations? The first instance of using Peacemaker Ministries, that I am aware of, was when Mark and I asked Doug Phillips to go to mediation with us, through the trained Peacemaker counselors at Faith PCA here locally.  The first thing we were required to do was to clean up all derogatory comments, whether they were ours or others, to refrain from saying that we were repentant, and to be silent.  Since I had diligently sought to fully forgive Doug Phillips, and all those involved, privately in my heart before telling my story publicly (a public leader’s sins need to be made known to the same degree that their teachings are), and I was already extremely cautious in using my words carefully, it was a difficult decision to abide by these rules during the conciliation process.  But for the greater good of bringing healing to the situation at hand, we did so willingly.

A couple months later, after an emotionally charged meeting between Doug Phillips and the elders at Faith PCA (two of whom were also the Christian conciliators for Peacemaker Ministries), we were informed that Doug Phillips refused any reconciliation with us. Doug Phillips told the elders that there is only one way for the Epsteins to be reconciled with me; they must come to me and repent fully without any equivocation of everything that we excommunicated them for, and they also have to repent for blogging about me. We were also invited by these Christian conciliators to never darken the door of their church again.  When asked about the situation privately, one of the Christian conciliator elders remarked, “We f***ed up.”  That was Doug Phillips’ first interaction with Peacemaker, that I am aware of.

PeacemakerEncouraged by even the thought of Christian conciliation, Joe Taylor thought he would attempt the same offer of mediation through Peacemaker. As you can see by TW Eston’s latest article on Joe Taylor, not only did Doug Phillips refuse Joe Taylor’s offer of using Christians to mediate, but he also took him to court.  Two strikes for Doug Phillips.

But what happens when Doug Phillips decides he wants to be the one to call for mediation through Peacemaker Ministries?  Rumor has it that Beall Phillips asked Peacemaker to mediate between Doug Phillips and Cassandra and her family before this all went public.  Knowing that Peacemaker always requires silence on both sides during and after conciliation, this would have been a perfect way to forever keep Doug Phillips’ adultery hidden, allowing the family to continue their opulent lifestyle and the public fame and glory that they so enjoyed.  However, Cassandra was wise enough to decline such an arrangement, and so was Peacemaker Ministries.  Having met with Doug Phillips before, they probably knew it would not be a prudent case to take on. Three strikes.

Doug Mac girlsAs I consider the possibility of Peacemaker having taken that particular case, I cringe at the tremendous amount of damage that would have mounted had Doug Phillips been allowed to continue on as if nothing had ever happened.  This is one of the reasons why using Peacemaker Ministries can be a very bad idea.  While I readily acknowledge that many people have been helped through this ministry, I wonder how many others have actually been allowed to cover their sin, or worse yet, continue in their sinful lifestyle, because of this requirement of forever remaining silent.

In my training as a professional health coach, I have found that unresolved emotional pain causes more health problems, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well, than any other aspect of health.  I remember when Mark, my first husband, required me to never speak about my adultery in the first couple years of our marriage, even though I had fully repented from it.  There were times during those fifteen years of silence when I wanted to be able to share with others how God brought me through that time in my life and what I learned and how I repented and moved forward in life (although Mark never found it in his heart to forgive me).  As the years went on, that enforced silence built up inside me and caused me deep turmoil.  When Doug Phillips took it upon himself to tell the church about my adultery, which had happened 15 years earlier and for which Doug Phillips himself agreed that he saw true repentance in me, and I was now free to talk about it, it was like a load of bricks was finally lifted off my back.  While Doug Phillips certainly had no business sharing a pastoral confidence which Mark had shared with him privately, it ended up being one of the most freeing things that ever happened to me, and I was now on the road to being healed emotionally.

Peter BradrickTo Peter Bradrick, Bob Renaud, and Jordan Muela:  Don’t fall for it!  You all know Doug Phillips well enough to know that his offer of going to Peacemaker Ministries is for one purpose only:  to shut you up.  Confidentiality rules the day in Peacemaker’s mediation process.  While a public trial can bring to light every single detail and expose all the dirt on every side, Peacemaker goes to the opposite extreme and covers up all sin.  Bob, with your legal training, you know that Doug Phillips does not have any legal grounds against you three.  Yes, the easy thing to do is to settle quietly behind the scenes and go on about your life.  But the right thing to do takes much more work, and only a man with great integrity will do the right thing.

This is not about making peace.  This is all about silencing the truth.  “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” is a principle that applies to many different aspects of life.  Everyone who sat under Doug Phillips’ teachings and ministry needs to know the truth now so that each person, each family, each BCA member, each VF employee and board member, can be set free, emotionally and spiritually, to begin healing that will lead to acceptance of what has happened, in order to move forward in life.  May we all we be stronger and wiser for having walked this journey, but may we learn to love and forgive as we begin our new paths in life.

Alone Yet Not Alone: The Tangled Web of the Academy Nomination

With writing and research assistance from T.W. Eston
__________

Quite a brouhaha is stirring over a song that was recently nominated for an Academy Award.  With music written by Bruce Broughton, lyrics by Dennis Spiegel, and performed by Joni Eareckson Tada, this song edged out nominations for original songs performed by Taylor Swift (“Sweeter Than Fiction,” from One Chance), Coldplay (“Atlas,” from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), and Lana Del Rey (“Young and Beautiful,” from The Great Gatsby). How in the world did the title song from a movie that previewed in only nine theaters for one week last year get nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song?

Rumors abound online regarding the apparent unethical actions, or at least breach of etiquette, of those involved.  There appear to be conflicts of interest with William Ross and Bruce Broughton, the writer and composer of this original song, and their connections with the Academy.

AloneYetNotAloneLong before the general public heard anything about Alone Yet Not Alone, those like myself who were steeped in all things Vision Forum and Boerne Christian Assembly knew all about the origins of the movie. It began just over ten years ago with the book by the same name, authored by Tracy M. Leininger. We attended church with the Leiningers at Boerne Christian Assembly where Doug Phillips was the pastor. Doug Phillips published and sold the first editions of Tracy Leininger’s books on his Vision Forum Inc. web site, and in the Vision Forum annual catalog.  Doug Phillips capitalized on Tracy’s books by also pairing each book with an American Girl knockoff doll that matched the main character of each book as part of his Beautiful Girlhood Collection.

As this faith-based film went into production, many of the actors and extras cast for parts came from “the community”, the term we use for Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) and a few other closely aligned churches spun off from BCA in the greater San Antonio area. Others also came from Patrick Henry College. Doug Phillips was cast as “Colonel Mercer.” The close relations between the film’s writers and producers and Doug Phillips continued up until at least the time that Doug Phillips’ San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival announced the World Premiere of the film to be shown on February 8, 2013.

At this same time there was a significant confluence of events going on behind the scenes. Doug Phillips had been caught with his pants down with “Cassandra” in her home in January 2013 by two members of her family. Doug and “Cassandra” were caught again in early February in Doug Phillips’ home, this time by his wife and/or eldest son. Immediately thereafter Doug Phillips stepped down as pastor/elder of his church, Boerne Christian Assembly. Doug Phillips managed, at the time, to contain the knowledge of his sex scandal to a very small group of people. Those who have been following the articles here about Doug Phillips being a religious sociological cult leader are already familiar with how he pulled it off. In spite of his best efforts, however, it ultimately did go public. Doug Phillips resigned from Vision Forum Ministries on October 30, 2013, and on November 11, the Vision Forum Ministries Board of Directors announced the closure of the ministry.

Alone Yet Not Alone is the only movie I went to see last year, yet apparently I am one of the few people in this world who has actually seen it already.  I can’t even remember how I found out about this movie preview, since I had not followed anything Vision Forum related for several years; but when I discovered that Alone Yet Not Alone was previewing here in San Antonio, I asked my daughter, Natasha, if she would like to see a Vision Forum movie with me.

Kelly Leininger Greyson

Kelly Leininger Greyson

Alone Yet Not Alone is the true story of Barbara and Regina Leininger, Tracy’s ancestors who immigrated in 1748 from Germany to Colonial American in order to avoid religious persecution.  The starring actress, portraying Barbara Leininger, is Kelly Leininger Greyson, Tracy Leininger’s sister.  The film’s estimated $7,000,000 budget came by the financial backing of dad, Dr. James Leininger.

Who is Dr. James Leininger?  Besides being one of the richest men in America, his public accomplishments read like a “Who’s Who” of men with many varied interests in life.  His private accomplishments are even more vast.  Dr. Leininger has a very impressive public life, but also maintains a very private personal life, as well.  Unlike Doug Phillips, James Leininger appears to take his Christian convictions seriously and he probably has no scandalous skeletons in his closet.

I will not talk disparagingly about Dr. Leininger, a man who I have nothing but the utmost respect for.  I have many good memories of my time at Boerne Christian Assembly where Jim and his lovely wife and their children also attended, and the many happy memories of the events held at their gorgeous home. The Leininger’s left BCA prior to our “excommunication,” so unlike virtually all other BCA members, the Leiningers never complied with Doug’s orders to shun us.

It’s not much of a secret that James Leininger donated two buildings to Vision Forum Ministries: the warehouse/office building that Vision Forum Ministries and Vision Forum Inc. recently vacated, and the massive Phillips’ family home in Hollywood Park they were recently required by the VFM Board of Directors to vacate (both due to Doug Phillips’ clergy sexual abuse scandal).  What happens to these two pieces of property still remains to be seen, but these were hardly James Leininger’s only financial backing to Vision Forum.

In Doug Phillips’ November 6, 2013 blog article, he stated: “I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc.”  Most people didn’t question that at all.  Of course Doug Phillips “owns” Vision Forum, Inc.  Why would we think otherwise?  But “President” does not necessarily mean “owner,” or principal shareholder.  No, the principal is James Leininger.

Vision Forum has two sides, the non-profit tax exempt tax deductible 501(c)(3) ministry side, Vision Forum Ministries; and the for-profit business, Vision Forum, Inc.

The officers and directors of Vision Forum Ministries include:

  • Doug Phillips: Pres, Dir
  • Scott Brown: Dir
  • Don Hart: Dir (and staff attorney)
  • Josh Wean: CFO, Dir
  • Jim Zes: Dir

VFI was incorporated December 16, 1997 and its board of officers and directors have included:

  • Doug Phillips: Pres, Dir (1997- )
  • Thomas W. Lyles, Jr.: VP/Sec, Dir, Reg Agnt, Incorporator (1997- )
  • David Keith: VP/Treas, Dir. (2011- )
  • Charles A. Staffel Treas, Dir. (2002-2011)
  • Josh Weans: CFO (2012- )
  • Kimberly Feltner: VP (2012- )
  • James Leininger, Dir (1997-2002)

Jim Leininger resigned from the VFI board of directors around the same time that he left Boerne Christian Assembly in 2002.  This was also the same time that Doug Phillips started coercing BCA attendees into signing his “Til death do us part” document called “The Church Covenant”. After this point Boerne Christian Assembly quickly morphed from a church into a religious sociological cult.

“Mom, look!  There’s Joshua Phillips and so-and-so and so-and-so.”  We hadn’t seen any of these people in nearly nine years, so watching the movie, Alone Yet Not Alone, was bittersweet for us.  We eagerly searched for glimpses of old friends, and then shed a few tears when we recognized yet another old friend who continues to shun us, ever since our “excommunication” from Boerne Christian Assembly.  “Mom!  Is that Cassandra?  And why is Mr. Phillips fawning all over Kelly like that?”  Having seen this preview less than a month before Doug Phillips’ resignation on October 30, 2013, I couldn’t help but wonder what really went on behind the scenes in Alone Yet Not Alone.  Even the name of the movie ironically seems to be descriptive of Doug’s secret double-life.  We were so caught up in searching for lost friendships that we overlooked the fact that this movie might be about Dominion Theology.

The current release date is now Father’s Day weekend, June 13, 2014.  The newest book version is now being published by Zonderkidz. Originally scheduled to open February 21, 2014, Alone Yet Not Alone apparently required a delayed release due to the need to edit out Doug Phillips as Colonel Mercer, not to mention any credits to Vision Forum.  Toward the end of the film Kelly’s character is rescued from an Indian tribe. She is filthy and disheveled with her hair dyed dark to look like an Indian. After bathing she emerges as a beautiful blond bombshell. Doug Phillips as Col. Mercer fawns all over her, praising her beauty. “If I hadn’t known that you were that same poor creature I saw before I never would have believed it.” He then launches into a classic Doug Phillips sermon, giving glory to God that their faith delivered them from their trials and tribulations.

NormandyFinalFarewellThe film will, no doubt, be helped by the absence of Doug Philips who didn’t stray from his true self in rendering a rousing Patriarchy speech as a key feature of his part. In one sense, however, it’s a pity that Doug Phillips’ Col. Mercer scenes were left on the cutting room floor. Doug is renowned for his costume parties and playing dress up, and even though he’s never served in the military his favorite costumes are military uniforms.

No doubt Doug Phillips’ sex scandal proved to be a huge embarrassment to the film’s producers. They had to scramble to remove any references that might tarnish this Christian film. Up until just prior to Doug Phillips’ resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the film’s trailer included Doug Phillips. Now he’s nowhere to be seen.

But is that the extent of the Vision Forum connection to this movie?  Alone Yet Not Alone is produced by Enthuse Entertainment, who recently acquired BlueBehemoth.com, the media download site of Vision Forum, Inc.  Blue Behemoth’s web site, as of this date, states that the site is “currently offline while undergoing maintenance.” Additionally, “BlueBehemoth.com is under new ownership and management whose vision is to produce and provide God-honoring, faith-based, family friendly media into the future.” However, just prior to that notice being posted “Vision Forum Inc.” had been replaced with “Enthuse Entertainment”. I don’t think they really wanted us to know that Enthuse Entertainment is the new “owner” and “management” of Blue Behemoth because that information quickly disappeared.

Who is Enthuse Entertainment? Just a new name for Mission City Productions that was formerly listed as the production company for Alone Yet Not Alone, and it had exactly the same board of directors.  Alone Yet Not Alone is their first feature film production for nationwide release. Their second feature film release is To Have and To Hold, also starring Kelly Leininger Greyson, scheduled to be released sometime later in 2014.

Enthuse Entertainment also had a very familiar address to me.  The building is owned by one of James Leininger’s many for-profit organizations, DJL Ventures.  That building leases space to many different businesses, with most, if not all, also owned or financially backed by James Leininger.  The personal property in one office space in particular, which means the business itself, is also owned by DJL Ventures.  That is the office for Enthuse Entertainment.

DJL Ventures board of directors is made up of Thomas W. Lyles, Jr., David Keith, Charles A. Staffel, and Kimberly Feltner.

CJL Acquisitions, Inc. board of directors is made up of the same people: Thomas W. Lyles, Jr., David Keith, Charles A. Staffel, and Kimberly Feltner.

Not surprisingly, the same exact people have served as board members for Vision Forum Inc. Interlocking directorships galore. So will Vision Forum and Doug Phillips ever really go away?

These same officers also serve together on several other boards, all backed financially by James Leininger.  (If you want to have some fun, click around on the various names at this site.)

So, the officers of the board for Vision Forum, Inc. are the same officers of the board for DJL Ventures and CJL Acquisitions, Inc., who just “bought” Blue Behemoth from Vision Forum, Inc.  In other words, the officers of the board for one business owned by James Leininger bought that same business from themselves under a different name.

And the public thinks the Oscar nomination for Best Original Song is a little bit fishy?

Alone Yet Not Alone: How did it wind up coming out of obscurity to have it’s eponymous theme song nominated for an academy award? Certainly the Bruce Broughton connection may be significant and shouldn’t be disregarded. But is that all there is to this story? I think not. Super-wealthy men like James Leininger always have powerful connections.

Joni Eareckson Tada did a wonderful job singing the song. But that’s irrelevant. It’s not the singer’s performance that is judged for Academy Award consideration for Best Original Song, or at least it’s not supposed to be. It’s the composers that are being judged. Is the song really Academy Award material? Personally, I don’t think so. I can’t help but think there was a lot of influence peddling going on behind the scenes to secure the nomination. I think that’s really unfortunate because, other than that issue, I really enjoyed this movie. Even the song is good.

I hate to see these sorts of things happen because it just gives the non-Christians another opportunity to mock Christians. We should know better by now.

UPDATE 1/29/14:

Oscar Nominee ‘Devastated’ After Academy Disqualification

The Academy’s board of governors voted to rescind the original song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel. An additional nominee in the category will not be named.

The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former governor and current music branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.

“I’m devastated,” Broughton told Variety. “I indulged in the simplest, lamest, grass-roots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them.”

…In a statement about the withdrawal of the “Alone” song nomination, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.”

The board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that “it is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

Read more.

Doug Phillips Seduced by “Foxy Bubbles” the Stripper?

On November 13 Douglas Wilson, the controversial and periodically scandal embroiled pastor of Christ Church in Moscow Idaho posted an article entitled Patriarchy, Vision Forum, and All the Rest of It. Like so many other Doug Wilson blog posts, this one is timely, and clearly addressing a current event. In this case the event is the Doug Phillips sex scandal and resignation, and the announcement of Vision Forum Ministry’s closure.

Doug Wilson uses the opportunity to define his own kinder and gentler form of Patriarchy which, he alleges, is nothing more than “Father rule. That’s the good part.” I’ll leave off, for the time being, addressing the numerous manifestations of Doug Wilson’s own ecclesiastical tyrannies and abuses, and various and sundry scandals he’s been embroiled in. After all, this blog is dedicated to Doug Phillips’ Ecclesiastical Tyranny and Abuse. I’ll leave it to someone else to dedicate a blog to Doug Wilson (oh, wait, there’s already been several of those).

What I do want to address is the propensity in what I term “Hyper-Patriarchy” (among whom I count Doug Wilson), that so often have implied that when a great Christian leader falls due to the sin of adultery, it’s the woman’s fault. Clearly, this is what Doug Wilson conveys in this article. In Doug Wilson’s world Doug Phillips isn’t necessarily responsible. More than likely he was led astray by his own masculinity and by a seductive woman’s blandishments:

Conclusion
Testosterone is a good thing, and can be used by God as part of His gifting men for leadership, but it is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. God uses gifts, but He blesses fruit.

A man with lots of testosterone is in a position to start a dynamic ministry that speaks to thousands, that fills conference halls, and that rivets people to their seats. Taking a hypothetical, that very same man is also in a much better position to succumb to the blandishments of a stripper with a stage name of Foxy Bubbles, and all in the settled conviction that his sin will not find him out. How could his sin find him out? He rivets people to their seats.

Samson eventually had his eyes put out, but even before he lost his eyes he was not able to see what Delilah was doing with and to him. The thing that God was using against the Philistines, his strength, was also the thing that Delilah was using in a series of sexual jiu jitsu moves against Samson. It is an old trick, and it still works very, very well.

Quite often these Hyper-Patriarchs will not just blame the other woman, they’ll also blame the wife: She didn’t keep herself up. She should have stayed pretty for her husband. She let herself go. She put on weight. She loafed around the house all day. She lost interest in her husband and didn’t want to do anything with him anymore. She got preoccupied with the kids and left no time for him. She stopped dressing pretty, putting up her hair and doing up her face.  She wore a frumpy denim jumper around the house all day. She stopped putting out.

Now where these problems with a wife are true (and such things do sometimes happen) it’s time to seek marital counseling, or take the wife on a romantic date (or better yet a vacation, minus the kids), not use those excuses to justify seeking emotional and sexual fulfillment outside of the marriage.

Though Hyper-Patriarchs like Doug Phillips would never admit it publicly, and they would certainly never teach it, in practice Doug Phillips has proven himself to be a Victorian in his view of marriage: The wife fulfills her conjugal duties to be fruitful and multiply, but as she ages and has more and more children and isn’t quite so thin and shapely anymore, and because of being consumed and fatigued with raising children, the husband uses these to rationalize seeking out love and affection from a beautiful young mistress. The Victorians, for all their alleged virtue and morality, were notorious for marital infidelity. Victorian men held that you obtained a wife to have your children and secure your family lineage, but you kept a mistress for love. Victorian wives  quietly accepted the arrangement because there was nothing they could do about it. Likewise, the wives of the Hyper-Patriarchs believe they too are powerless to do anything about the injustices in their marriages.

This Victorian pragmatic (loveless) view of sex in marriage is especially well put forth by Doug Wilson: “A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts.”
Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 1999), 86-87

In response to Doug Wilson’s article I posted the following comment on his blog:

Pastor Wilson, I appreciate the fact that you permit dissenting views, even from those who are less than tactful toward you. I’ll do my best to remain diplomatic. In your article “Doug Phillips’ Resignation from Vision Forum”, I posted several comments, one of which included, “Another article from you is in order, but I hope it will be considerably more circumspect and insightful than this one was.” You’ve done well in clarifying the biblical model of Patriarchy. It all sounds rather benign, and if in practice it really were that benign then I could largely agree with your interpretation. Doug Phillips too would claim to also fully ascribe to your interpretation that “Patriarchy simply means ‘father rule’.” But in orthopraxy it also means far more to Doug Phillips and his ilk.

Doug Phillips runs a power cult and what he preaches is not what he has practiced. The same goes for his fellow Patriarchy movement leaders. The problem you face in championing Patriarchy is that men like Doug Phillips have loaded the term “Patriarchy” with so much extra-biblical baggage that it’s forever tainted, if not ruined. The fruit of Patriarchy is that it’s directly responsible for driving many from the Christian faith. They didn’t stumble because of a healthy grace-filled interpretation of the holy Word of God. They stumbled because of a performance-based interpretation of Patriarchy which claims to derive its authority from the Word of God, when in point of fact it’s just modern day Phariseeism.

Various Christian leaders recognized this several years ago and sought to distance themselves with a more moderate and grace-filled form of patriarchy. They rebranded it with that “squishy” term you appear to dislike, “Complimentarianism.” I don’t believe their efforts have been particularly successful in winning back the stumbled. But it takes more than a polished marketing campaign to successfully call back the many sheep that were driven from the fold by domineering men and prideful manipulative women. Winning back the thousands, likely tens of thousand (and I’m in no way exaggerating here) of lost sheep — “little ones” as our Lord called them — home school kids that grew up under “Patriarchy” (I use the scare quotes deliberately because the very term is scary to them) and are now cynics of the Christian faith, will require a large doses of grace and compassion.

Yet all too often I see comments like ttpog’s: “They obviously have unresolved issues in their lives that has caused them much pain, but their angry insistence that is the fault of someone/something else at this point in their adult lives is quite juvenile. It is past time that they grow up, lay it at the foot of the cross, forgive and move on!” It pains me to see that, and I’ve seen such spiteful comments too often. All such comments serve to do is confirm in their minds that Christians are hateful, unloving, and that their God must be hateful and unloving too. ttpog goes on to ridicule the blog owners of http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com because they choose to be anonymous. What ttpog and your readers likely don’t know is they, and many others like them, have good reason for their anonymity — Doug Phillips is an attorney, as are others in the Patriarchy movement (such as Don Hart), and they routinely threaten litigation to silence opposition. Doug Phillips’ legal threats have silenced countless victims. The anonymity of those few who are publicly speaking out now isn’t bitter cowardice but prudent courage.

But there are other victims too besides the children who grew up under Patriarchy. I think especially of the mothers who bought into Patriarchy, many with good intentions of wanting to improve family life by obeying the Bible. They struggle as many wives have with coming to a healthy understanding of “Wives submit to your husbands.” Their own pastors usually fall short in explaining, so they look to some Christian guru that claims he or she has the answers. Doug Phillips and his cohorts claim they do, as do others such as Kevin Swanson, James and Stacey McDonald, and R.C. Sproul Jr. Many of these seeking women jump into the Patriarchy movement without any mention of Patriarchy, let alone any coercion, by their husbands. I dare say that the first place many Christian men hear of “Patriarchy” is from their wives.

Doug Phillips himself has acknowledged that well over 80% of his sales come from women. That would be consistent with what all Christian publishers say, including Focus on the Family. The vast majority of family and relational books, CDs, DVDs, homeschool conference tickets, etc., are purchased by women. I’d be interested to know Pastor Wilson what your own sales demographics look like. Women order the books and videos, go to the homeschool conferences and hear the lectures, and before you know it they’re caught up in all the extra-biblical baggage that goes along with it. The heartbreak these women face today is overwhelming as they witness first-hand the ruined lives of their children who have, because of the legalism and performance based acceptance, rejected any and all semblance of Christianity, rushing headlong into carnality as a direct result of Patriarchy.

Next we have the mothers/wives who embrace Patriarchy out of pride. These women cause the most harm of all and, my personal observation informs me that they are more numerous than those men who jump into Patriarchy seeking “biblical” justification for their preexisting entitlement to authoritarianism. I don’t speak as an outsider but as one who was in the middle of a Patriarchal power cult that was heavily influenced by Doug Phillips, Kevin Swanson, James and Stacey McDonald, and R.C. Sproul Jr. I’ve often heard it said “Women don’t dress for men, they dress for other women.” That same competitive pride drives Patriarchal women to compete in church through “militant fecundity”, submission to husbands through modest apparel (no jewelry, long dresses worn everywhere including while gardening, and headcoverings being the ultimate indication thereof), homeschooling, remaining silent in church, agrarianism, blanket training, breaking the child’s will with daily “discipline” (code language for beatings with welt-raising pain-inducing objects that might even include 1/4″ plastic plumbing hose), etc. Later when the kids go off the rails and rebel, she’ll engage in historical revisionism and blame her husband, telling the children, “It was all your father’s idea. He made me do it. I was just submitting to him.”

This social structure is far more Japanese than American. The public image of Japan is Patriarchal, but within the Japanese home it is Matriarchal. On the typical Japanese street you’ll see wives dressed modestly, walking subserviently behind their husbands, heads bowed low, hands folded in front. She is the very image of an obedient wife. She’s submissive because she looks submissive. But it’s all for show. Enter the home and you’ll see quite the opposite. She rules the roost and wears the pants. Papason comes home on payday and hands her the paycheck. Mamason makes all the family decisions.

This is the reality of many so-called Patriarchy homes, including the McDonald home (albeit not Doug Phillips or R.C. Jr. — theirs are “machismo” as you term it). Prideful women jump in and drag their passive husbands along for the ride, claiming all the while she wants to be biblical and submit to her husband. They boast (ever so humbly) to their friends in their “women’s prayer meetings” about how submissive they are to their husbands, boasting about all their children’s home school science fair accomplishments, and a plethora of other accomplishments. Their husbands are a mere fixture in the home. Everything really revolves around her. The children exist to make her look good through their accomplishments which she takes full credit for. It’s the epitome of performance-based acceptance. The leaders of this system are women like Stacey McDonald and Jennie Chancey.

Then there are the easiest targets of all for the wrath of the “gleeful feminists” — the chest-thumping (“men with lots of testosterone” as you put it) Patriarchs. I would be remiss though in failing to point out that “gleeful feminists” are also your easiest target and one which you habitually stereotype and reflexively throw anyone into who objects to Patriarchy (however it’s defined), regardless of the basis for their objections. To my knowledge, you have never addressed the matter of the women Patriarchalists that I’ve identified above. Nevertheless, I agree with your assessment that “some of the machismo patriarchalists that I described above gravitated to Vision Forum circles, and found what they thought was adequate cover there.” Where else are they going to gravitate to?

Vision Forum attracts many well-meaning people, but it inescapably attracts many unhealthy men (although you failed to mention the far more numerous unhealthy women it’s attracted). Not only is there adequate cover for abusive men, but Doug Phillips himself is such a man, as are his partners in Patriarchy. One needs to look beyond their eloquent home school conference speeches and see it in action to recognize it for how extra-biblical it is, and even toxic and destructive of healthy family life.

Especially problematic are your two paragraphs devoted to Foxy Bubbles and Delilah. Perhaps you didn’t intend to say what it sounds like you’re saying, but the inevitable takeaway is that you believe that Douglas W. Phillips didn’t woo and seduce a young lady (barely of legal age when the affair started), in a power-cult structure Phillips called “Patriarchy” that made it impossible for her to refuse his advances. Rather, in your view, by her female stripper-like “blandishments” and “sexual jiu jitsu“, and because of Doug Phillips’ “good thing” “gifting men for leadership” testosterone, Doug Phillips is an innocent victim of his God-given “strength”, taken advantage of by “an old trick, and it still works very, very well.”

On the whole your article provides ample evidence that you just don’t get it. Worse yet you completely blew a golden opportunity to serve as a peacemaker, calling back to the fold of God the thousands of victims of the Phillips/Swanson/McDonald/Sproul brand of Patriarchy. You fail to follow your own advice: “If you don’t want them whacking you, don’t hand them the stick.”

Doug Wilson on sex

Denver Christian Perspectives Examiner: “Chalcedon ministry sets ‘record straight’ about relationship with Doug Phillips”

Shawn Mathis continues his series on Doug Phillips:

On November 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 concerns. Mr. Phillips recently stepped downfrom the ultra-conservative Vision Forum Ministriesbecause of an extra-marital affair. Mr. Selbrede offered evidence against the allegation and concluded:

“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 evidence included two articles that critiqued various strands of “biblical patriarchy.” Also included was a revelation of a ten-year old secret: Chalcedon gave $5,000 to help defend “against the legal assault Doug Phillips had initiated” against Joe Taylor, of the Mt. Blanco creation museum.

 

Read more on Chalcedon’s long-term relationship with Doug Phillips.

Open Letter To Chalcedon Foundation Regarding Its Defense of Doug Phillips

This article is in response to comments posted by “Chalcedon Foundation” at the Spiritual Sounding Board. The opinions expressed herein reflect the views of this guest author and do not necessarily reflect those of the blog owner.

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…

Denver Christian Perspectives Examiner: “Doug Phillips of Vision Forum resigns due to affair”

The religious section of Examiner has written several articles on Doug Phillips and Vision Forum.  Here are the links and intros:

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum resigns due to affair

In an online public statement at Vision Forum Ministries, on October 30, Doug Phillips admitted to, and repented of, a “lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.”

He stepped down as president of Vision Forum Ministries and stopped all speaking engagements. It is unclear if he has stepped down as an Elder at Boerne Christian Assembly (his name is still listed on the website).[UPDATE: sometime on November 4 the church website removed his name.]

This article is continued here.

**************************

Vision Forum Ministries closes its doors

On November 11, a prominent “biblical patriarchy”and family-integration organization, Vision Forum Ministries, announced on its website that they are “discontinuing operations.” The details were picked up by the Atlantic Wire.

In their website page they stated:

“In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry.

Read the rest of this article here.

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Doug Phillips clarifies details of his repentance and resignation

In a surprising turn of events, Doug Phillips, of the ultra-conservative Vision Forum Inc., posted a Clarification on Resignation, dated November 14, 2013. Desiring to “clear up some matters” surrounding the details of his extramarital affair that he repented of earlier, he wrote:

“Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years.”

As his previous resignation and repentance noted, the relationship was such that they did “not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense.”

This article is continued here.

*******************

Top five influential claims of Doug Phillips’ defunct Vision Forum Ministries

With the recent resignation of Mr. Phillips and theclosing of his organization, Vision Forum Ministries, there is much speculation on how that will impact the greater homeschooling and conservative Christian communities.

The impact may challenge followers to rethink the practices and teaching taught by this organization. So for those pastors and families unaware of the views of Mr. Phillips and his organization, this top five list will help you evaluate their continued influence.

There are five claims summarized with a short rebuttal:

  1. Christians should homeschool
  2. Churches should be “family-integrated”
  3. Christian should use the “desert-island test”
  4. History was full of famous homeschoolers (and your kid could be next)
  5. Hope for America is a homeschooling, patriarchy, family-integrated movement

 

To open each of the five claims above, go here to read both the claims and the rebuttals.

******************

How to respond to Doug Phillips’ confession and resignation

With Mr. Phillip’s recent public admission of an “inappropriate relationship” with another woman, there has been much speculation on internet websites and blogs.

Not all the speculation is coming from those who disagree with his approach to patriarchy,homeschooling or family integrated churches. Some who think well of him have assumed things not specifically written in his resignation letter. Of course, some who disagree with him have also assumed things not specifically written in his resignation letter.

But it is the local governing body that knows the details.

This article is continued here.

****************

This particular news site has written many reviews and articles on Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, and other related ministries and conferences in the last several years, so they are well acquainted with Doug Phillips and his teachings.  I would recommend exploring some of their related stories and links as well.

The Christian Post: “Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips: Extra-Marital Relationship Was ‘Sufficiently Serious’ to Resign, Confirms ‘Inappropriate Physical Component'”

Former Vision Forum Ministries president Doug Phillips reiterated yesterday that his decision to resign from his leadership position was the proper outcome following his acknowledgement that he had “inappropriate relationship” with a woman who was not his wife.

“Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin,” Phillips said in astatement on the Vision Forum Ministries website on Nov. 14.

Phillips also elaborated on the details of his relationship which he had previously only disclosed as “inappropriately romantic and affectionate” and asserted that he had not known the woman in a “Biblical sense.”

“Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years,” Phillips wrote.

The rest of the article may be found here.

Huffington Post — More on Doug Phillips and Vision Forum: More Than a Scandal

Julie Ingersoll, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Florida
Posted: 11/18/2013 4:30 pm

There are important and disturbing developments in the Doug Phillips scandal that has rocked the Christian home school movement. As I noted in my earlier post, Phillips’ carefully parsed initial resignation statement admitting to an “inappropriate relationship” raised more questions than it answered.

Now reports are circulating that the scandal may well have multiple levels including claims that the “relationship” was with a nanny, lasted between six and 10 years, and likely began when she was in her late teens. This would make biblical patriarchy’s emphasis on authority combined with the way in which girls are intentionally kept vulnerable, dependent and submissive, crucially important. The young woman may or may not have been technically old enough to consent in Texas, but the context of biblical patriarchy would make this an abuse of power if not a crime.

You can visit these sites to see examples of the reports and discussions: No Longer Quivering; Spiritual Sounding Board; Homeschoolers Anonymous; Love, Joy Feminism; Rethinking Vision Forum. This is just a sampling and there are many others but it’s worth noting that many sharing their stories on these sites are still conservative Christians and even home schoolers.

Phillips (trained as an attorney) is well known for his authoritarian and litigious style that permeates the organizations with which he has been associated and which results in carefully controlled messaging and image management as well as the silencing of critics. I have first-hand experience with this from my own fieldwork, but you can read about it in Kathryn Joyce’s important book Quiverfull as well at those sites noted above.

________

Read the rest of the story at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-ingersoll/more-on-doug-phillips-and_b_4284402.html

The Atlantic Wire: “An Infidelity Scandal Just Shuttered a Major ‘Biblical Patriarchy’ Organization”

A major conservative Christian organization shuttered its doors on Monday after its president, Doug Phillips, resigned from his position in the wake of an extramarital affair. Phillips is an extremely influential leader in the “Biblical Patriarchy” movement, a wing of conservative evangelical Christianity that believes men should have “dominion” over women. Phillips and his organization, Vision Forum, are enormously active in a cluster of related ministries, including the Christian homeschooling movement. The group also advocates against access to birth control and abortion. Even if you don’t know Vision Forum, you know some of its friends: Kirk Cameron, for one; the Duggars, for another.

Here’s what happened.

Doug Phillips’ “Sincere” Resignation Does NOT Mean Sincere Repentance

Doug Phillips is responding to some of the questions many people have been asking, but without really saying much of anything:

Clarification on Resignation

by Douglas Phillips, Esq., November 14, 2013

I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.

Doug Phillips

 

I want to be clear on my own part that I am NOT Doug Phillips’ enemy.  I want God’s best for him and his family, which is why I am here.  Sometimes tough love is necessary, and that is the kind of love I have toward Doug right now.

I also want to be clear that I am in no way rejoicing over this.  What has happened has not only sent ripples throughout the “community,” and has affected the larger Christian homeschooling communities, but leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who are looking in from the outside as well.  While I believe that Doug Phillips is reaping what he has sown, it brings me no joy whatsoever.  I would much rather that he would have repented years ago when his sins and the consequences would have been smaller.  But, they still continue to grow.  And I still see no true repentance on Doug Phillips’ part.

Doug Phillips states his resignation is sincere and necessary.  Of course it was necessary, but how can you have an insincere resignation?  Did he really think through his words here?  Did he mean that his repentance was sincere, but he was so focused on the devastation of his resignation that he said “resignation” accidentally?  Or does he expect us to think better of him because he states that his resignation was sincere?  Yes, the board “sincerely” forced Doug Phillips to step down!

I do agree with Doug that we should not be speculating on the specifics of what has happened.  I sincerely believe that this woman should be the one to come forward and tell her story.  It is no one’s business to postulate certain things about her that are not true.  Speaking from experience, I know that the best thing I ever did was to come out and tell my side of the story here, admitting to my part and my sins, as well as telling the facts of the story.  I hope this young woman will do the same.  It will free her from the guilt and shame that she is unnecessarily bringing upon herself right now.  I know that she will be amazed by the support and help that many, many others are willing to show her, that she will know the freedom of not having to live in “hiding,” and that she will be able to begin healing.

This “clarification” from Doug Phillips simply confirms that I still see no true repentance and that this is a slick political move that sets him up for a season of “repentance” before he makes a big comeback in a year or two.  When Doug Phillips rights the wrongs he has committed against dozens and dozens of people, as well as this other woman, his wife and family, then I will begin listening to his words of repentance.

Patriarchy 101

Making Dinner

The Christian Post: “Vision Forum to Close Down Following Doug Phillips’ Admission of ‘Inappropriate Relationship'”

Wesley Strackbein, a spokesperson for Vision Forum, told The Christian Post that while the non-profit will cease to exist, the board is currently deliberating on whether the organizations’ conferences, workshops, film festival (which was canceled a week before Phillips’ announcement) and other programs, will continue apart from the organization. 

It has also been confirmed that while Phillips’ former non-profit employer will shutter, he will maintain control of his for-profit company, Vision Forum Inc., which sells books, audio lectures, and toys that promote the organization’s conservative beliefs.

 

To read the full article, go here.

UK Daily Mail Reports on Doug Phillips

Married leader of controversial Quiverfull movement which promotes family values resigns and shuts down ministry after having an affair

  • Doug Phillips, an adherent of the Quiverfull movement – which promotes male dominance and large families – has quit as leader of his ministries
  • He said he had a ‘lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman’
  • He has been the leader of the Vision Forum Ministries, which is based in Texas and teaches families to home-school to ‘exercise dominion’
  • Now the board of directors has decided to close his ministries
  • Phillips is close friends with the Duggars from TLC’s ’19 Kids and Counting’ – who are also adherents to the Quiverfull movement

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2503322/Married-leader-controversial-Quiverfull-movement-promotes-family-values-resigns-having-affair.html#ixzz2kUybUrer

Media Requests Regarding Doug Phillips and Vision Forum

There are several news media sources who are reporting on what is going on with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum right now.  I am getting multiple requests for more people who are willing to talk to the media.  You may use your name or be anonymous.  If you homeschooled your children or you were homeschooled, and you were impacted by patriarchy, and you are willing to discuss it with the media, or if you would like to tell your story here, please let me know.  If you were impacted by Doug Phillips and you would like to talk about it, please let me know.  I do NOT post anything here without permission first.  I have had many phone calls, personal conversations, and emails in the last couple weeks, but I do not ever break a confidence.

Please consider if sharing your thoughts would help the community of homeschoolers to bring healing to this situation right now.

You may use this form to directly contact me (this goes ONLY to me) or you may click on the email below my pic to the right.

Vision Forum: Closed

The Closing of Vision Forum Ministries

 

In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances.

The Christian Post: “Christian Family Ministry Leader Doug Phillips Resigns After Admitting to ‘Inappropriate Relationship'”

The Christian Post weighs in:

The leader of a conservative Christian family organization has resigned from the non-profit after admitting to having an affair, however, he will still maintain ownership of the related for-profit company.

Doug Phillips, whose organization Vision Forum advocates for “Biblical patriarchy,” admitted to having committed a “serious sin” and claimed that he had confessed it his “wife and family, [his] local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries.”

“I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate,” wrote Phillips.

Despite the fact that Phillips asserted that he would no longer be “giving speeches or running conferences at this time of my life under the banner of VFI or VFM” and leading “a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier,” he also explained that he had not completely divorced himself from influence within the organization.

“I retain ownership of Vision Forum, Inc,” he wrote on the organization’s blog on November 6.

 

To read the rest of the article, which quotes one supporter and one ex-supporter, here is the rest of the article.

San Antonio Express News: “Christian home-school leader admits extramarital relationship”

Our local paper, The San Antonio Express News, also published an article about Doug Phillips yesterday, although only subscribers can read the full article.  Here is the beginning of the article:

SAN ANTONIO — A noted leader in conservative Christian home-schooling circles has stepped down from his San Antonio-based ministry after acknowledging an extramarital relationship.

Doug Phillips of Vision Forum Ministries said in an online statement that he resigned as its president and from its board and ended his public speaking schedule.

He founded the ministry and its affiliated for-profit business, Vision Forum Inc., which sells books, CDs, films, toys and other items for the home-school market.

The statement, which described “serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance,” sent ripples through the Christian blogosphere. Phillips, married with eight children, has a loyal following but also critics who consider him unaccountable and authoritarian.

To read the rest of Abe Levy’s story, trending in the Most Popular section right now, you must be a subscriber, but here is the link.

“Proof” of Doug Phillips’ Repentance

One of Doug Phillips’ followers sent me a link to a bunch of pictures where he wonders if this is Doug’s confession before his church.

First, this is not his church.  This is the San Antonio Independent Film Festival, and Doug Phillips did not confess before 1800 strangers.

Second, these pictures were taken in February.  If there was true repentance in February, why the need to step down in October?

Take a look for yourself, but just in case they come down off the blog, I will preserve them here for others to decide if Doug Phillips is confessing before his smiling wife on opening night of this grand event?

02-07-13  SAICFF -14

02-07-13  SAICFF -16

02-07-13  SAICFF -28

The Washington Post: “Patriarchy proponent Doug Phillips resigns after extramarital relationship”

The Washington Post chimes in today:

Doug Phillips, an outspoken proponent of male “dominion” over women and a leading home-schooling activist, has stepped down as president of his Texas-based Vision Forum Ministries after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman.

After cancelling all planned speaking engagements, Phillips, however, on Wednesday (Nov. 6) said he will still maintain ownership of the affiliated Vision Forum Inc., a for-profit company.

Phillips, who has eight children with his wife Beall, wrote on the ministry website on Oct. 30 that he would step down as a ministry leader.

“I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” he wrote. “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”

Calls to Vision Forum Ministries were not returned.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Huff Post: “Doug Phillips: The Big Scandal You Didn’t Hear About and Why It Matters”

Huff Post reports this today:

Doug Phillips, the Home School Movement’s leading Quiverful Patriarch resigned from Vision Forum Ministries, admitting a “lengthy inappropriate relationship” with a woman. It appears that while as he has been fighting homosexuality and feminism as threats to marriage, he has actually been the threat.

His supporters are lauding his resignation letter as appropriately contrite repentance and arguing that this has no bearing on the validity of Biblical Patriarchy. But actually it does, making this more important than another hypocritical cheating scandal.

Phillips is a key figure bringing Christian Reconstruction into the larger home school world. Building upon R.J. Rushdoony’s postmillennialism and “Biblical Philosophy of History,” he teaches home-schooling families to “exercise dominion” through 200-year plans, “multi-generational faithfulness” and “Biblical Patriarchy.”

His influence is hard to overstate; there is barely a part of the home-school movement his empire has not touched. He started as an attorney at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), is a sought-after speaker at home school conventions and Vision Forum sponsors well-attended conferences of its own. Phillips was a founder of the patriarchal Family Integrated Church Movement. He has close partnerships with Henry Morris at Institute for Creation Research, the Duggar family of 19 Kids and Counting and actor-turned-Christian activist Kirk Cameron.

 

To read the rest of the article about how Doug Phillips’ resignation fits into his 200-year plan, read here.

Doug Phillips’ Balance Sheet: Vision Forum Ministries vs. Vision Forum, Inc.

Many people have noticed that there are two sides to Vision Forum:  the ministry side, which is a 501c3; and the business side, which is where most of the money is made.  This is a convenient way to have the best of both worlds:  the tax advantages of being able to collect lots of free money without having to pay taxes; and the freedom to have the opportunity to make even more money by selling products at a profit.  Neither one is wrong, and I am not against anyone making money legitimately.  If Doug Phillips has earned money, then he should be entitled to it.  But this type of tax structuring presents a few problems today.

Vision Forum Ministries is the ministry side of Vision Forum.  This is the side that takes donations, puts on events, and through which Doug Phillips schedules all his speaking engagements.  Vision Forum Ministries has six officers; Doug Phillips has always been the President, and until recently, Howard Phillips, Doug’s father, was the Vice President.  I do not know if he has been replaced yet.  That leaves two directors, Don Hart and Scott Brown, and the CFO (Josh Wean) and Secretary (Jim Zes).

Vision Forum, Inc. is the retail store of Vision Forum.  This is the side where Doug Phillips has his blog and he sells all his products.  The owner of Vision Forum, Inc. is Doug Phillips.  As owner, there is nothing to step down from.  The owner has 100% sole discretion as to what to do with the income earned from the business.  Since this is a private business, I do not have any real numbers to work with, but after salaries and expenses are paid, it is certainly Doug Phillips’ decision as to what happens to the rest of that money.  I see that they changed the name of Doug’s blog to “Vision Forum Blog” today, but don’t be fooled — Doug Phillips is still the sole owner of Vision Forum, Inc.

As President of Vision Forum Ministries, Doug Phillips took home $44,035 in 2011, the latest tax record on file.  The Form 990 also states that he earned $24,254 in related income (speaker honorariums?) and that he worked about 30 hours a week on the ministry side.  But that does not accurately represent Doug Phillips’ total income.

Some ministries have a “parsonage” for the minister and his family to live in, and Vision Forum Ministries is no exception.  Vision Forum Ministries owns two buildings in San Antonio: the Vision Forum office/warehouse building and the Phillips’ family home.  Doug Phillips and his family live in a very nice 6000 square foot home.  To be fair, they have been very hospitable and opened their home for many church and ministry functions.  I have many good memories there.

But that parsonage is a huge amount of Doug Phillips’ “income” from Vision Forum Ministries.  It is considered part of his salary, and is a tax-free benefit.  Since Doug Phillips maintains a large home office there as well, he may write off his office on his personal income taxes as well.  I do not know who pays the utilities, but I do know that the ministry side owns this house.  When a pastor leaves a church for any reason, it is usually stated in their contract how long they have to leave the parsonage, if provided, after they are no longer connected with the ministry.  This is usually 30, 60, or 90 days.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not advocating that Beall and the children be thrown out in the streets because of Doug Phillips’ decisions in life, but I also realize that the choices of one often impact the lives of their loved ones as well.  I have certainly experienced that first hand and wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.  What I am curious about, more than anything, is what will happen with this substantial part of Doug Phillips’ salary that directly comes from Vision Forum Ministries.  How will this be reconciled?

In addition to this gorgeous home, we have his salary from Vision Forum, Inc., which could be substantial, and his royalties.  Doug Phillips is not taking much of a cut in income here.  Doug Phillips states that he will be “serving as a foot soldier” during this time.  This means he will still be working in the business he owns.

I have recently found out that Doug Phillips resigned from his position of Elder at Boerne Christian Assembly early this year.  This concerns me.  Either there were two very serious allegations against Doug Phillips, one serious enough to impact the church at the beginning of the year, and another one that prompted his recent resignation; OR he resigned as Elder because of this “serious sin” with another woman about nine months before he resigned as President of his ministry.  How genuine does that repentance sound now?  And why is he not under church discipline?  I can guarantee you that anyone else would be under church discipline for this type of behavior.  (I personally think there are better ways to handle it, but what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander, too.)

While I was checking out Vision Forum Ministry’s Form 990, I had a couple other questions that maybe someone can help me with.  The first one regards the purchase of the radio program, Jonathan Park.  Vision Forum Ministries bought Jonathan Park from Vision Forum, Inc. for $670,833.

“The organization acquired a program for the price of $670,833 called the J Park Program which is a fully developed radio broadcast that is now on 400 radio stations.  Consistent with this organization’s mission, the J Park radio program promotes and teaches the study of science from a Christian perspective.  Various products are sold in conjunction with this program that should make it self sustaining.  This program was purchased from Vision Forum, Inc. and was purchased for a price established by a third party appraisal firm.  The acquisition price of this program is listed as an asset on the balance sheet within, not of amortization.”

So, the ministry side paid $670,833 to the business side of Vision Forum.  I’m scratching my head as to how this would benefit Vision Forum Ministries.  They still sell all these products through Vision Forum, Inc., the business side, but the ministry side receives the money.  Why are some products on the ministry side and other products are on the business side, yet all products are sold through the business side?  What am I missing?

What I am not missing is that Vision Forum Ministries is the side that accepts donations.  In 2011, Vision Forum Ministries received $2,606,157 in donations.  That is not sales, that is just free money that homeschooling families freely gave to Doug Phillips.  Let me repeat that.  Two and a half million dollars.  Of that $2,606,157, Vision Forum Ministries “paid” $670, 833 to Doug Phillips’ personal business to “buy” a product they already owned.  Where did that money go?  Directly to the owner of Vision Forum, Inc.  So now, the donations of homeschooling families are being used to buy assets already owned by Vision Forum, so that Vision Forum can transfer money from the non-taxable side to the owner’s pockets.  But maybe I am missing something here.

As I was reading through the questions and answers on Vision Forum Ministry’s Form 990, I had a couple other questions.  On page 3, question 3 states: “Did the organization engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office?”  This is a huge requirement for keeping a 501c3 status.  Vision Forum Ministries answered “No.”  Technically, that is true.  But how many people say to themselves, “Doug Phillips is not speaking on behalf of the ministry side of the house when he talks about politics; he is only speaking on behalf of his business side”?  Or, when we think of Doug Phillips, do we think of Vision Forum, without trying to figure out which side of the house he is speaking from?  In fact, when we read Doug’s Blog, it is a combination of Vision Forum’s ministry side, as he both advertises and reports on all the events connected to the ministry side of Vision Forum, as well as advertises and reports on all activities associated with the business side.  On Doug’s Blog, they all run together.  When we think of Doug Phillips, it all runs together in our minds as simply, “Vision Forum.”

So, let’s see if the average reader of Doug’s Blog would consider that Vision Forum Ministries does not engage in direct or indirect political campaign activities on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office.  There are literally hundreds of entries that could be used as examples, but here and here are a couple that I found on a quick search of Doug’s Blog.  What do you think?  Would you agree that Vision Forum is not involved at all in politics?

Let us not forget that Doug Phillips’ father, Howard Phillips, Vision Forum Ministries’ Vice President, was a founding member of the Constitution Party, and that the Constitution Party itself was heavily involved in politics.  That is a very close political connection, especially considering that Howard Phillips ran for President of the United States three times.

Although I was not excommunicated by Vision Forum Ministries, I cannot help but see the irony of my response to Doug Phillip’s blog article on voting, written on Vision Forum’s website, as the impetus for my excommunication.  Politics are certainly strongly interwoven into all things Vision Forum.

One last little question, found on page 5, question 2 of Vision Forum Ministries Form 990: “Enter the number of employees reported on Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements …” Answer: 8  “If at least one is reported on line 2a, did the organization file all required federal employment tax returns?”  Answer: “No.”  Huh?  They have eight employees but they did not file the required tax returns.  And they told the IRS that.  Somebody please help me out with that one!

Why I am NOT Calling Doug Phillips to Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theres-nothing-we-can-do-to-get-God-to-love-us-more-e1346773808176

How Patriarchy Itself is the Slippery Slope that Led Doug Phillips to Serious Sin With Another Woman

Speculation is running rampant right now regarding Doug Phillips’ recent admission of a lengthy, inappropriate relationship resulting in “serious sin” with another woman.  Doug Phillips claims that he behaved without proper accountability, but how much do we really need someone else to hold our hands to keep us from “serious sin” in life?  Is Doug Phillips really going to place the blame for his “serious sin” upon the shoulders of dozens and dozens of men who do hold him accountable each and every day of his life?  In his statement of repentance, does he truly take responsibility or is this yet another deflection?

Let’s take a look at Doug’s daily life and see how this could possibly happen.  Is it possible that the lifestyle and rules of patriarchy itself are exactly why Doug Phillips found himself on a slippery slope from which there was no return?  Does patriarchy in fact encourage this kind of temptation?  I believe it does and it did, in Doug Phillips’ case.

First, let’s go to work with Doug Phillips.  Vision Forum’s offices and warehouse are located smack in the middle of San Antonio, TX.  The men who are employed there all hold to Doug Phillips’ strict views and rules of patriarchy.  Any women who work at Vision Forum come to work with their husbands, fathers, or brothers.  There are no unrelated women working there.  There are a dozen or so men surrounding Doug and his office at any given moment.  To reach Doug’s office, one must pass by several other men’s offices.  It is practically impossible for any inappropriate relationship to take place at Vision Forum, and knowing Doug Phillips’ extremely high standards against sexual sin, this simply wouldn’t not happen at the office.

Doug Phillips attends dozens of homeschool conferences, and hosts many fabulous homeschool events put on by Vision Forum.  His family attends nearly event with him, and if his whole family does not go, at least some of his children are always with him at these events.  Doug Phillips is also always surrounded by his Vision Forum interns and staff at each and every one of these events and conferences.  I cannot for the life of me envision Doug looking at another woman while attending these events, and he is never left alone, so I think we can cross this off our list as well.

How about doing errands around town?  Not likely and not often.  Doug Phillips would have absolutely zero interest in the “worldly” woman, so I do not believe that would ever happen.

Counseling?  Doug Phillips was always very careful never to counsel a woman alone.  I am sure that he continued that rule.

So where does that leave us?  I can think of only one situation and it is not only plausible but also nearly inevitable in many patriarchal families.  Patriarchy itself lends itself to this situation.  Large families require a huge amount of work.  Many mothers within patriarchy are worn to a frazzle and if they can afford it, they seek extra help.  There are many types of help available but the most prevalent type is to hire a nanny, another young lady within the patriarchy movement who holds all the ideals of patriarchy, but is patiently waiting to get married, so she “serves” her father by serving another man and his family, taking care of his children.

In “The Return of the Daughters,” a young lady states that she cannot serve in her father’s business so she serves God and her father by serving others in the community (“community” is a codeword for those who belong to Doug Phillips’ church).  The way that she serves the “community” is to be a nanny for Doug Phillips’ eight children.  She is not the only nanny that the Phillips family has employed over the years, but she was featured in this documentary.

Let’s look at the type of “nanny” the Phillips family would employ.

Natasha Phillips GirlsDresses modestly (long, full dresses

Homeschooled

Obeys her parents, even as an adult

Obeys her elders (at church)

Courtship only (no dating or relationships with men)

Gentle, quiet spirit

Respectful

Resourceful

Has no opinions in her own right

Does not go to college

Good with children

Cooks and cleans

Loves God

Now, this is not your typical 13-year-old babysitter.  This nanny is often a full-time position for a young woman in her late teens or twenties.  This young woman, who most certainly has natural hormones for this age, has no outlet for relationships with men.  This young woman, under the encouragement of her father, idolizes Doug Phillips.  This young woman is the epitome of everything Doug Phillips preaches.  She is the standard that all other young patriarchal ladies wish to aspire to.  And this young woman does so with the full blessing of her father.

And she spends most of her time with the Phillips family.  She is there while Doug is at work.  She is often there when Doug is at home.  She will even spend the night there sometimes.  She is there when the family travels to homeschool conferences and Vision Forum events, where Doug has the opportunity to watch her perform her duties in a fashion that makes Doug Phillips very proud.  She even goes on family vacations with the Phillips, occasionally, to help with the tremendous amount of work of taking care of eight children.  She is like a second mother to the Phillips’ children.

Is it any wonder that she also becomes like a second wife to Doug Phillips as well?  Here is this young woman, in her twenties, beautiful inside and outside, blindly obedient to everything she is told to do, never questioning, and absolutely idolizing this man in his forties.  If this young woman spends several years practically living with the Phillips’ family, are we really so surprised that a lengthy, inappropropriate relationship develops between these two that eventually leads to serious sin?

Patriarchy itself, with all its rules and legalism, is such a heavy burden on a large family that they absolutely do need extra help.  The kind of help that leads to such a slippery slope, however, goes against everything Doug Phillips preaches.  Perhaps we need to go back to square one and decide if this was such a good idea.

I do not blame Doug.  I do not blame this woman. I am not saying that I know who the woman is, but if anyone knows anything different from what I have presented here, I will retract my thoughts.

This is not about needing more accountability in life.  Doug Phillips has more men to keep him accountable than does the president of the United States.  This is not about needing more rules in life.  Rules do not change our heart.  This is about having a change of heart.  This is about coming to realize that keeping a long list of rules just doesn’t work.  No one can perfectly keep a long list of rules and God does not intend for us to do so.

In the Bible, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were the “patriarchs.”  Look at what happened to Abraham when Sarah’s household help was called upon to help progenate Abraham’s descendants.  Look at what happened when Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel, couldn’t get along and asked their household help to help progenate their families as well.  Perhaps, in the true sense of patriarchy, this is just a natural extension of patriarchy.

Or, perhaps, we need to reevaluate the value of patriarchy to begin with.

The Heavy Burden of Doug Phillips’ Legalism Leads to His Resignation From Vision Forum

When I first told my story about Doug Phillips, nearly seven years ago now, it caused a bit of a stir.  At the time, I felt like I had done nothing worthy of excommunication, I had exhausted all efforts to reconcile with both Doug Phillips and BCA, the church I was excommunicated from, and I had forgiven everyone in my heart of hearts.  The reason I went public with my story was because Doug Phillips was a very public leader in the homeschooling movement and was primarily responsible for the patriarchy movement.  This was not just a personal issue between Doug Phillips and me, this was a case of a very public leader who preached “Family First” everywhere he went, yet he totally destroyed and devastated my family.  I felt it was important to warn others that their number one leader in the movement was not really about putting family first (after God, of course).

Doug 4I was surprised, I suppose naively so, to begin to hear privately from person after person after person who told me stories of abuse by Doug Phillips and how he had threatened to harm their families, their career, and their church life if they did not keep quiet about what had taken place.  Any anecdote or story told within those circles was immediately put into the “gossip” category and was severely dealt with.  Legal means were often employed to keep people quiet.  I heard many stories of men “dressed in black,” carrying pieces (or so I was told), who used mafia-like techniques to make sure any and all stories involving Doug Phillips in any way other than idolizing him were decidedly dealt with, quickly and severely.

And so, when I was threatened with the same types of actions, as I realized how many people cowered in fear for their lives and their families’ lives, I stood up against such tyranny and abuse and fought for freedom from ecclesiastical terror.  Doug Phillips and his cohorts put up multiple websites about me, dedicated solely to attacking my family and me.  Many were outright lies; some were twisted truths, while others were simply about airing my personal “sins” for the whole world to see.  While that was not enough to stop me from telling my story about Doug Phillips truthfully and respectfully, it was enough to stop nearly everyone else from considering telling their stories publicly as well.  As I promised them all so many years ago, I will keep their secrets secret, but it was just all the more reason for me to proclaim to the world that Doug Phillips does not practice what he preaches.  And there is a time and a place to warn people against impending danger.

Statistics say that for every one person who writes a letter to the editor, or for every one person who writes a letter to a corporation, there are probably one hundred other people who feel the same way.  So, if a corporation gets one letter complaining about the taste of their peanut butter, for example, they may just blow it off and send them a voucher for a new jar of peanut butter.  But if they receive ten such letters in a short period of time, the peanut butter manufacturer will not think that ten people are complaining about their precious commodity, but rather that those ten are representative of one hundred people each, so that would be the equivalent of one thousand people probably feeling that same way.

I found those statistics to hold true for my blog.  For every one hundred readers, I had one comment, almost exactly.  It was eerily accurate.  But those were just the public comments.  I also received many, many private emails, especially that first year when I told my story.  In the first year my blog was up, I had over one million readers.  I also received approximately one thousand emails from people who were involved in patriarchy who had decided to leave the legalism and judgmentalism of patriarchy because of my blog.  If statistics hold true, and I do believe they do, that equates to about 100,000 families who decided to leave patriarchy because I told my story about the ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny of Doug Phillips.

If I could go back in history and be anyone I wanted to be, I have often dreamed of being Susan B. Anthony, because she freed women from the prisons of their lives then.  While it cost me nearly everything I had and nearly every friend in life, I believe God used me to be a modern-day Susan B. Anthony of sorts, leading women and their families out of the legalism and bondage of patriarchy.  And that made it all worth it.

Let me be clear that I am still strongly in favor of homeschooling.  I think that for a mother to be able to stay at home and raise her children and homeschool them is the best of all worlds for a child.  I believe that children should have two parents at home, that an intact family is a strong and healthy family.  I believe that husbands should love and cherish their wives, and wives should love and respect their husbands.  I believe that many, many of the things Doug Phillips taught in the patriarchy movement are good, valuable, honorable, necessary aspects of a strong family.

But it doesn’t come through legalism.  We don’t need a long list of rules to tell us how to love.  Doug Phillips wrote up several lists of “beliefs” that patriarchal families were to hold to, with each one being more and more restrictive.  Doug Phillips also insisted that the Law of Moses applied to us today.  I wish I could share with him the truth that Jesus came to free us from that bondage!

Love.  Or rules.

Which one binds us together?  Which one holds the family together?  Which one holds the church together?  Which one is written on our hearts now?

Early in my marriage, I committed adultery.  I repented from that many years ago, but what keeps me from committing adultery again?  Love?  Or rules?  Which is a stronger bond?

When we live our life by rules, which are just another form of legalism, we will stumble and fall.  We can’t help ourselves.  However, when we live our lives by LOVE, it is a whole different story.  Today, I don’t need a rule to tell me not to commit adultery.  Love for others keeps me from even thinking in that direction.  But even if I were to commit adultery again, love would bring me to repentance, not rules.

I still do not know why my adultery of 25 years ago was brought up in the excommunication, and why Doug Phillips found it necessary to tell the whole world about something I long ago repented from, but the Bible has a verse that seems rather appropriate to all this today:

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)

Today, Doug Phillips announced his resignation from Vision Forum, a ministry and business that is the culmination of his life’s work, his passion and love that he has given himself fully to for the last twenty years or so.  I do not rejoice in this announcement, as I realize how devastating this must be for Doug Phillips and his family, but I cannot help but think that today, Doug Phillips is reaping what he has sown.

Here is his announcement:

Statement of Resignation

Doug 1by Douglas Phillips, Esq., October 30, 2013

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

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

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

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

Doug Phillips

This is the difference between a life of love versus a life of legalism.  The rules were too heavy, too burdensome for him to bear.  No one could continue under all those rules and experience the abundant life God has for us.  This is very sad.

I pray that Doug Phillips will use this time to do some serious soul searching, not just in this one area, but in the burdens of life that he has put upon himself and his family and thousands of other families who have looked up to him for so many years.  Now is the time to reevaluate rules in favor of love.

Beall, I love you.  My heart hurts for you.

Someday, I hope to hear Doug Phillips preaching that not only does love cover a multitude of sins but that life is all about love.  Period.

The Biblical Family: Defining Patriarchy and Why God is Masculine

When I first set out to write a series of articles about “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” last June, I considered myself to be a patriarchalist, although I thought that Doug Phillips was a little extreme in some areas. When I first wrote the series, what stood out most to me was the fact that while most of the tenets looked sound to me, Scripture simply didn’t back them up. Since these were “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy,” it seemed imperative to me that they be backed up by the Word of God. That was my first shock.

As I began to process the comments, however, I wasn’t prepared for the onslaught that followed. As subject after subject was addressed first here, and then on other blogs and forums, God started exposing my own heart and I was forced to examine if all that I held dear was what God held dear as well. So many of my deeply treasured beliefs were slain on the altar of truth. Sacrifice hurts. This was not merely a sacrifice of my mind, but my whole life has been greatly altered as I’ve walked this path.

It seems that there has been nearly a relentless attack against patriarchy since I posted that series, and it has caused me to go to God’s Word, time and time again, to see what the truth is in these areas. However, the conversations that have ensued since then seem to be somewhat haphazard and focused on attacking patriarchy without providing any definitive alternative. My goal is not to offer an alternative, necessarily, but to dig even deeper and see what God truly has to say about this subject of the Biblical family. Doug Phillips presented us with a false dilemma of patriarchy vs. feminism or patriarchy vs. egalitarianism, but these are not our only options. In this series, I would like to examine what God really has to say about the Biblical family.

The first series about “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” was a very broad sweep of the Tenets as a whole, with a scattershot approach to examining them. As I sought to find a way to address those who desire to live only by God’s Word, and especially those who now see that this form of patriarchy is not actually God’s Word, I prayed for months about how to approach the whole subject. I think we shall go back to the beginning and take a good solid look at patriarchy first, finding what is worth keeping and rejecting what is extrabiblical. We will do this by examining each of the tenets, again, in more detail, one by one. Not only will we examine the verses used, but we may add some of our own. Then, I would like to be your interpreter for this journey. On the surface, much of what is written in the “Tenets” sounds good, but I know what it looks like in real life for Doug Phillips. That is the perspective I will bring. Others of you know what a particular tenet looks like from the viewpoint of other patriarchalists. That will now be welcomed here.

As you can see, I have changed the name of my blog to reflect a more general viewpoint. My story about Doug Phillips is still the foundation of this blog, but this blog grew in ways I never imagined one year ago, and I would like to be able to address the broader angle of patriarchy now. The underlying reasons for Doug’s behavior are his beliefs. Those beliefs are the root of what appears to be rotten fruit. But Doug Phillips is not the only one with those beliefs that end up putting believers into the bondage of legalism, or the false doctrines of theonomy and reconstructionism and dominion theology, or elevating areas of freedom and wisdom to that of absolute commands. I have noticed, however, that everyone who claims the name of “patriarchy” does not necessarily believe the same things. So when you post a comment, I would ask you to try to use more direct, attributable quotes and fewer general statements of “all patriarchalists” believe such-and-such. Feel free to give your opinion, but please state it as such. I think some unnecessary damage has been done by painting with too broad a brush at times. In order to make this a credible debate, we need to be careful to always be fair.

Even those who have stated that they believe in Doug’s version of “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” sometimes don’t realize that they really have a different point of view altogether. Probably the most significant aspect of this would be those who have personal preferences for certain aspects of patriarchy, but would never say that it is a sin if another believer did not adhere exactly to these areas of personal preferences. One of the main objectives of this series will be to clearly delineate which areas are strictly biblical and which are personal preferences and why. I am not at all opposed to someone having a personal preference that is different from my own, including those who call themselves patriarchalists.

Another goal of this series will be to show that we can believe and adhere to God’s Word in the area of the Biblical family without being a patriarchalist, and that there is no need to be called names such as “feminist” for believing the Scriptures. Although many on both sides of the issue have claimed to be complementarian, there are just as many who are quick to pull away from that label as well, stating that complementarians are really patriarchalists cloaked in less offensive language. I propose that we put all these labels aside now and focus on where we should be, as the Biblical family. Will we all agree? Probably not. But rather than just attack patriarchy here, I would like to now examine what God thinks. As stated in “The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy”:

We view this as an accurate working document, and invite feedback from anyone as we attempt to improve this statement over time.

As Doug invites feedback to his document, I also invite feedback to my thoughts on digging deeper into these issues.

After we have thoroughly examined each of these tenets, I will move on to address any other areas of the Biblical family that have not been addressed in these tenets. If there is an area you would like to see covered, feel free to leave me a comment about it and I will put it on my list. Let’s begin with the very first tenet.

God as Masculine
1. God reveals Himself as masculine, not feminine. God is the eternal Father and the eternal Son, the Holy Spirit is also addressed as “He,” and Jesus Christ is a male. (Matt. 1:25; 28:19; Jn. 5:19; 16:13)

Matt. 1:25
and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
Matt. 28:19
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
John 5:19
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

John 16:13
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.


When we examined this tenet the first time, I was really caught off guard. I have been so far to the right in my biblical thinking that I didn’t realize there were those who would disagree with this statement. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I do agree that God does reveal Himself as masculine. Jesus did not tell us to pray to “Our Mother, who art in heaven,” but He constantly referred to His Father. As the Son, Jesus is obviously masculine also. And John 16:13 clearly delineates the Holy Spirit as being masculine as well. If we believe in the trinity, then it seems to follow logically that the triune God-head would be not only the same gender, but that there might even be a purpose for declaring that gender to be masculine.

Doug Phillips, and and certain fellow patriarchs, apparently believe that the purpose of God stating His gender to be male has to do with it being the foundation of patriarchy. If Doug can establish that God Himself is masculine, and I agree with his basic assertion here, then we all know that God is superior, God is the head of all, God is in charge, God is the authority, and that God has many other characteristics that Doug will attempt to attribute to men only on the basis that God is masculine. This is a red herring. Doug is attempting to assert that patriarchy, in having the family centered around the man, is biblical because God is masculine. Nowhere in Scripture are we given this foundation for the family. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that because God is masculine, anything having to do with patriarchy follows. My whole excommunication got started because I called Doug on some logical fallacies. Now I will attempt to show that Doug is basing his whole belief system on logical fallacies as well.

It is my personal opinion that God refers to Himself as being masculine, in triune unity, because our relationship with God is mirrored in our marriages. God had a chosen people in the nation of Israel. He was married to them. Since marriage is between one man and one woman — God’s idea — God chose to take on the masculine role and had the nation of Israel take on the feminine role. This in no way emasculated the men of Israel at all. Then God divorced them. Now God has a bride, and that bride is the church. A bride is feminine, so God needs to be masculine. God planned this from before time was created, so He chose to take on the male aspect of marriage and gave us the feminine aspect of marriage. I hope to develop this more fully as we work our way through each tenet.

So, my conclusion regarding this first tenet is that while God is indeed masculine, this is superfluous to our understanding of the biblical family as a stand-alone proposition. However, I would allow for something like this:

1. God reveals Himself as masculine in His triune God-head, as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As He has also set forth marriage as being between one man and one woman, therefore God is the [masculine] groom and the church is His [feminine] bride.

This is definitely a working document, so I welcome any and all feedback on this statement as well.

Defining Patriarchy

Since this is not as controversial as some of the other tenets, I would like to examine the use of the word “patriarchy” here as well. Since Doug always taught us to use only biblical terminology, I decided to look at all the Scriptures which use the word “patriarch.” Most versions only use it four times, but I did find that the ESV uses it six times, so we will use that version here:

Acts 2:29
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Acts 7:8-9
And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him.Romans 9:5
To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 15:8
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,

Hebrews 7:4
See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!

Putting these passages together, we can clearly see that Abraham, David, and the twelve sons of Jacob are called patriarchs in Scripture. The patriarchs belong to the Israelites (Rom. 9:4-5) and the promises of the old covenant were given to the patriarchs (Rom. 15:8). I will confess that I at least thought Isaac and Jacob were patriarchs! Just for argument’s sake, we will include them as well. So, the Bible is clear that the patriarchs were all Israelites and the only Israelites that God calls patriarchs are Abraham, possibly Isaac and Jacob, the twelve sons of Jacob, and David.

If “the Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy [is] an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions,” then why don’t we see the term “patriarchy” being used more frequently in Scripture? If even all Israelites were considered to be patriarchs, why don’t we see it? It is interesting to me that the only verses that use the term “patriarchy” are New Testament verses, all referring back to certain leaders in the Old Testament. The New Testament does not in any way affirm that “patriarch” was a current cultural term for men in the New Testament. If the New Testament is gospel centered, and it is, and biblical patriarchy is gospel centered, as Doug Phillips asserts here, why don’t we see any verses connecting the gospel with patriarchy? Likewise, if patriarchy is an essential element of gospel centered doctrine, where are the verses proclaiming it as such? I have listed all the verses in the entire Bible having to do with patriarchy and I just don’t see it. If patriarchy is God’s ordained pattern for human relationships, where is this taught in the Scriptures? If patriarchy is God’s ordained pattern for institutions, where can I find this? This statement: “Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions” appears to be without any biblical foundation at all. Although this is not one of Doug’s official “tenets,” it is stated as a foundation to why he even has these tenets of “biblical” patriarchy to begin with. I find his foundation to be on extremely rocky soil here and wonder how he can hope to build a whole doctrine upon a statement that has absolutely no basis in Scripture whatsoever.

But Doug believes that he who defines, wins, so let us give him a little slack and examine his use of the word “patriarch” a little further. I always use Webster’s 1828 dictionary when I define anything from Doug’s perspective because I know that is his favorite dictionary. So let’s check out the old Webster’s:

1. The father and ruler of a family; one who governs by paternal right. It is usually applied to the progenitors of the Israelites, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob, or to the heads of families before the flood.2. A learned and distinguished character among the Jews.3. In the Christian church, a dignitary superior to the order of archbishops; as the patriarch of Constantinople, of Alexandria, or of Ephesus.

Well, the first definition might apply to what Doug is attempting to define here, except for the fact that Webster mostly agrees with the biblical use of it. I don’t think the second definition is something Doug is wanting to encourage in the least. And knowing how much Doug detests anything remotely Catholic, I am laughing at the third definition! But let’s look at that first definition a little closer. Let’s pretend that Webster doesn’t agree with my biblical use of the term and let’s just examine the first sentence of definition number one: “The father and ruler of a family; one who governs by paternal right.” A ruler. One who governs. When we get right down to it, isn’t that what Doug is proposing here? Doesn’t patriarchy really empower men to rule and govern their families? As we examine each tenet in turn, let’s refer back often to this term and see if Doug did actually choose the correct term after all, and then let’s see if that is truly what men as New Covenant believers want to be known as — rulers.

Or maybe this is all just a propaganda appeal to tradition. We like hearing the heroic stories of the Old Testament saints. If we could just be like them …

And Doug Phillips is here to help you do just that.

Mea Culpa

But my eyes are upon You, O GOD the Lord;
In You I take refuge;
Do not leave my soul destitute.
Keep me from the snares they have laid for me,
And from the traps of the workers of iniquity.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
While I escape safely.
Psalm 141:8-10

Many people have rightly encouraged me to seek to be integrated into a local church since my excommunication. That is easier said than done. Here’s a brief history of the last three years.

Church #1 — Living Water Fellowship. We attended there for six months, at Little Bear’s request, while he attempted to work with Doug Phillips to get him to drop the excommunication. We left because of severe doctrinal differences.

Church #2 — an OPC church. We went there with the intention of finding a church that was strong on Reformed theology and church governmental structure that allowed for appeals and basic rights for church members. After one month, we left when we were informed of some very extreme teachings in that particular congregation.

Church #3 — Faith Presbyterian Church. We went to another Presbyterian church for the same reasons as the last one and because the elders there promised to help us. Their requirements, eventually, were that we take down our story in preparation for going to Peacemakers with Doug Phillips. After three months of attending there, the elders finally met with Doug for several hours. The outcome of that meeting was that they told us to return to Doug and repent and pay restitution. When I inquired as to what I was to repent from, they said they didn’t know. So after several hours, the outcome of the meeting was that we were to repent, but they had no clue as to why? We left that church not understanding why Reformed elders would make such a quick and complete turn-about.

Church #4 — an independent Reformed church. We show up anonymously and don’t say anything about who we are, the excommunication, our story, anything. We did notice that we knew two families, one of whom was not speaking to us, but who was quick to speak to the elders on our first Sunday there. After our third Sunday, we received a letter in the mail asking us not to return. No questions. Just don’t come back.

Church #5 — an NCT church. I was sure this one would be different. I first approached the elders and was up front about everything. They welcomed me immediately and asked me to start attending that Sunday. I knew there were some people in that church who were not happy with my telling my story, so I offered to attempt to reconcile with those people first, so as not to cause a church split. Although the elders didn’t ask me to do anything at first, their demands began to grow and change on a fairly regular basis, until I couldn’t keep up with all the specifics of what was being required of me in order to attend this church. Finally, it boiled down to apologizing on my blog, which I did; then taking down my blog without any explanation, which I did, much to the great confusion of most of my readers; writing a letter of apology to Doug and all the BCA families, which I did; and having a gag on speaking about Doug, Vision Forum, or these issues. When I was first told what I had to apologize for, I said that I had not done those particular things, so I apologized for what I felt I had done. I will not say that I did everything perfectly in this last year of telling my story, so I was glad to give a heartfelt apology for certain things. But then they started applying a LOT of pressure. In the end, I was coerced into agreeing that I had done certain things which I did not feel that I had done. One of those things was admitting that I harmed Vision Forum or that they lost business in some way. I fought greatly against saying those things, but was heavily pressured into agreeing with them. I greatly desired to attend this particular church, so I acquiesced in the end. Here is the letter the the elders of this church helped me write that I sent to Doug and each family at BCA. They would have received this on December 24th.

My Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

I have thought about you often in the last three years. I pray for you every day. I love you dearly and have many fond memories of our years together at BCA.

Doug, and brothers and sisters at BCA, I am really wanting to walk away from all of this. God has brought me to the end of my rope both emotionally, and by daily teaching me about grace. I am hoping that this repentance letter will help me put the BCA chapter behind us, and start anew trying to build my marriage, nurture my family, and have peace with Doug and BCA. Please hear my heart.

I have made many public accusations against Doug, some of which were clearly mocking in nature. I have vehemently spoken out against many of Doug’s actions towards me. This resulted in escalation and further division among the body. I recognize that I have ardently spoken out against Doug’s actions towards others. I have publicly accused Doug of using his blog for manipulative purposes. I have publicly criticized, and rebuked Doug. I have vehemently disagreed with Doug on many issues and aired it in a non-private, but public way. I have forcefully spoken out against the way Doug has handled many situations. Further, I have continually brought up many areas of disagreement with Doug personally, and I have questioned many of his actions, bringing doubt to a large public audience.

My actions have resulted in division in the body of Christ, especially in the community, for which I am both very sorry, and I turn from now. These actions have also resulted in harm to Vision Forum, for which I am also very sorry, and I turn from now. I realize that my actions have hurt Doug, the man, which goes further than objective disagreements. I turn from actions that bring hurt to Doug, who is my brother in Christ. I am sorry for mocking Doug regarding his mother and the catalog, and in other ways. I am sorry I used unnecessarily strong language when I accused Doug of having sociological cult-like behaviors and accused him of spiritual rape. This language is subjective, divisive and hurtful. I am sorry I wrote “Shame on you” to Doug when he was still my elder. I realize that I have not tamed my tongue (James 3:8), and it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it I bless my Lord and Father, and with it, I have cursed Doug who has been made in the likeness of God (James 3:9). I do not want to do this any longer, and I turn from it now. Further, I am sorry for continuing to hammer on Doug. That was, and is, not necessary. I am sorry for sending the emails to the homeschool leaders. I am sorry for passing out the journal articles at Arlington. I am sorry for not being respectful to Doug and to those at BCA and Vision Forum in this matter, and in other matters. I am ashamed of the wrong things I have been doing, and I turn from them (repent) now. Doug and BCA, I want to walk away from them, and I want to start my life all over again. Will you please, please, accept my apology, and my turning from these things to try and start over in growing in the Lord. Will you please forgive me?

I’m sure you know that I told my story about my excommunication online. When I first began telling it, my intent was only to talk about Doug, from which I have repented at this time. I did not want to bring anyone else’s name into it, and had planned on redacting all other names from my primary source documents, but there was a clamoring online to reveal all the names. I willingly gave into this and accept responsibility, but now I am very sorry that all the names were brought out into the public and I would like to apologize to B, R and J, R and R, B and D, M and A, K, and L, and anyone else, for bringing their names into the public limelight. If there are any I have forgotten, I apologize as well. Will you please forgive me for doing so?

In February of this year, something new began happening within me that has taken time to grow and produce fruits. What happened is that I was arguing online for theonomy. A retired pastor came along and challenged me and I was not able to answer his questions. This intrigued me and he offered to teach me about the Law. Since that was one of my favorite subjects, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to hang on to Jen’s beliefs and my presuppositions very badly, but I was also sold out for the truth of God’s Word. After many weeks of wrestling through God’s Word, often 8-12 hours a day, God finally convicted me that I was wrong in my beliefs and that I needed to line up my thinking with His Word. So I repented. This pastor then taught me how to study the Bible and how to interpret Scripture. I have since studied the Bible several hours a day for most of this year. That had a huge impact on my life, as you might well imagine. I came to realize that I had a veil over my heart, as described in II Cor. 3, because I was still living under the Law of Moses. Jesus fulfilled and abolished (made of no effect) that Law on the cross and gave us a new law — the one written on our hearts. I am not an antinomian either! I truly believe in obeying God’s Law. I also recognize that I am not perfect, and obedience must be worked into me.

So when that veil was lifted, God began exposing my heart and I found a lot of ugly things there. One thing that was particularly hard to own was the fact that I had become a pharisee in my legalism. When we’re in the middle of legalism, it’s nearly impossible to recognize, but when God brings us out of it, hindsight is definitely 20/20. Not only am I ashamed of my legalism now, but God exposed that judgmental spirit that went with it. I tried so hard not to judge others, but when I look back now, all I can see is judgmentalism. Judgmentalism is nothing other than plain old pride. Some of that judgmentalism was directed toward some of you. I am very sorry for judging you in my legalism. God has freed me from that spirit of pride now and I would like to ask your forgiveness for that as well.

In all the many hours of Bible study, I became very firm in my beliefs in the doctrines of Grace. I had not previously understood them fully and I’m glad to take a firm stance on that now. But I also discovered that not only do I not agree with various theologies and doctrines out there, but that there is a name for the theology I have come to embrace and hold dear. It is the oldest Christian theology known to be, having been around since the time of the apostles, but it has not been labeled as a specific theology until recently. New Covenant Theology is the theology of the New Covenant (New Testament). Jesus said, “This is the New Covenant in My blood,” so New Covenant Theology is centered on the work and person of Jesus Christ. We do not reject any part of the Old Testament, and in fact, often study the whole Bible, but I have learned to interpret the Old Testament by reading the New Testament. I never even realized that the key to understanding what the Old Testament says is to look in the New Testament. It revolutionized my biblical thinking!

I do not want a difference in theology to cause any more strife among the Body. Because of this I think it would be best if I did not return to BCA. I would like to say a proper good-bye. Change is hard but good and often necessary.

I wish the best for each one of you. I am grateful for all the years we had together. It is time for me to move on.

God has even given me a new name!

Merry Christmas and may God bless each of you with a love for the truth of His Word.

Jen Epstein

Combined with my public apology on my blog, I was truly sorry for certain things in the last year, although I think that many people were not clear about what exactly I was apologizing for. At this point, I’m not sure exactly what I was apologizing for! I was attempting to apologize for some of the ways in which I handled the whole thing. So, with these two apologies in mind, notice what Doug Phillips posted, in part, on his blog, only three short days later, and with Christmas in between:


III. Forgive Those Who Have Wronged You


Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:19-21)

In the course of a year, it is possible to build up many offenses and personal grievances at others. Left unaddressed, these grievances fester and grow. They turn the heart black and the body weak. They foster a spirit of vengeance and misguided self-righteousness. The short of it is this: Unforgiveness leads to bitterness. Bitterness curdles the mind and the spirit.

Fresh starts and new years should begin with forgiveness for others. Having a genuine spirit of forgiveness towards those who have wronged us is a mark of biblical Christianity. It is an evidence that we have been redeemed, and that we are praying lawfully: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Successful Christians are men and women who are free from bitterness. They have learned the principle modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ who, while suffering death at the hands of people he had never wronged, was able to say “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). I have a dear preacher friend with a sterling reputation who was once grievously slandered. When asked about the wicked actions of the slanderers, he replied something to this effect:
Oh you don’t understand — I am far, far worse than my detractors realize. They may have gotten a lot of the specific facts wrong, but I am just thankful they don’t know how bad my heart truly is. God have mercy on me a sinner.

This man had victory over bitterness.

My father is another man who always appeared to have victory over bitterness. In fact, from my earliest days to the present, I have watched lesser men “twist the truths [he’s] spoken to make a trap for fools.”

Early in my life when I was still in government schools, I would listen to my own teachers criticize before my class the work my father was doing for the President to dismantle a government agency which was at war with the family. I read untruthful articles and saw derogatory comics on the pages of the Washington Post picturing him as a caveman for his “prehistoric” views. When my father was a leader in the Republican Party in Massachusetts, a gangster repeatedly threatened the life of his family. I remember being a boy and having my father shield me from homosexual picketers and protesters that would follow him and our family around at public locations.

Most painful and difficult for many to forgive is betrayal and dishonor. But that is a mistake. Betrayal and dishonor probably exist in the lives of most men. And why should any Christian be denied in their lives what past generations of Christians — and our Lord and Savior Himself — patiently endured? To our shame, most of us have been on both sides of that coin. From a son’s perspective, however, it is highly instructive to watch a father act honorably in the midst of such conflict. It has been a great blessing in my own life to observe my father nobly respond even in the face of barbs from former allies and friends, once loved and nurtured by him.

Eternally optimistic, Dad would always say: “Never be bitter. Life is too short. Thank God for your blessings. Press on!”

Bitterness comes from being unwilling to forgive. Bitter people are small people. They are unsuccessful people. They are people who cannot move forward. They are people who believe that the personal wrongs against them are so great that they — the offended — are entitled to do to their offenders what they pray the Lord Jesus Christ will never do to them: refuse to forgive.

Here is my recommendation: Think through every grief, minor and major, caused by others to you in the year 2007. Now add to the list any other personal offenses that continue to linger from past years. Write these down as bullets on a sheet of paper.

The first thing you will likely realize is just how many offenses are polluting your thought life and, probably, your spirit. This is a sign of latent bitterness. Bitterness will kill you. It renders you completely ineffective.

Now prayerfully walk through the list — bullet, by bullet. With each offense, remind yourself that the most despicable action taken against you by another utterly (and infinitely) pales in comparison to the least of your offenses against the Lord Jesus Christ.

And yet He has forgiven you.

Before 2008 begins, adopt a spirit of forgiveness towards your insensitive friends as well as your hateful enemies. Forgive your imperfect father for whatever it is you need to forgive him for (and pray to the Lord that your own children someday forgive you for your failures). Quit devoting untold precious hours to commiseration, mental replay of the wrongs done, and thoughts about just how badly you were wronged. Stop blaming everybody but you for your problems. Look to yourself. Once you start chronicling your own sinful attitudes and crimes against God and man, you simply won’t have time to worry about the wrongs done to you. You will stop being bitter, and you will start being thankful.

Wipe the slate clean. “Press on.” Forgive.

What excellent advice! When I saw this immediately after Doug had received my letter of apology, I was sure that he would follow his own advice, even as I chose to offer him forgiveness as well. But you see, the above advice about forgiveness is not quite complete. I like to think of Christ’s example to us. Christ paid the price for our sin. He offers us His forgiveness. All we have to do is believe Him and accept His forgiveness. Now, I am in no way saying that my offer of forgiveness is as pure as Christ’s is, but that is certainly our example. I have offered complete forgiveness to Doug Phillips, should he choose to accept it. I have also offered an apology for certain ways in which I have handled this public warning.

So did Doug accept my apology? Am I now a part of church #5? Or is there something in the water here in San Antonio, as Corrie so eloquently puts it?

In my desperation for fellowship with people in real life, I made a foolish mistake and compromised what I worked so hard for this last year. When I first started telling my story, I knew God was leading me to do so. In looking back over the last year, I have hundreds of testimonies from people whose lives have been impacted this year because I told my story. An interesting testimony that I have heard multiple times this year goes something like this: “I knew you spoke the truth because I lived it, too!” How many more similar stories are out there, but people are afraid to tell them? Or how many more comparable records of spiritual abuse are there in the patriarchy movement but the leaders are not public figures like Doug Phillips so they don’t feel the freedom to go public like I have?

Numerous Christians whose only goal was to glorify God in all that they do have been personally hurt and abused by Doug Phillips, and they now know they are not alone. I won’t tell their stories here unless they ask me to, but time after time after time, I’ve heard the same stories of Doug Phillips threatening Christians with lawsuits, threatening church discipline against those not even in his own fellowship and then going to their elders (often personal friends of Doug’s) and pushing for church discipline, and threatening men’s jobs and businesses and sometimes being successful in getting them fired. Most of these people still live in great fear of Doug. Countless times I’ve heard about people in these situations, or other conflict with Doug, who try to get an audience with Doug Phillips. We are not even talking about your average Christian homeschooler who just wants to speak to the Big Man, but people who already have a relationship with Doug and need to communicate regarding various issues, but they can’t get an appointment to meet with him or even speak to him on the phone. Weeks go by, and months, and I know of one man who tried for four years to speak to Doug about something, but Doug is always too busy. He will condescend to letting you speak with his “personal assistant.” He will send you a contract to sign before he agrees to speak with you, exacting promises that you will never repeat anything that goes on between him and you. He will have his lawyer contact you. And he will give you a list of sins you have to repent from before he will consider listening to you, but very rarely will he ever follow through in meeting or speaking with those he has offended, hurt, or abused.

Hoodwinked

Or maybe he will demand that you pay indulgences, only he uses the word “restitution.” After I sent my apology to Doug in a nice Christmas card, I heard that he would speak with me if I paid him $100,000 in restitution! Just to speak with him! I wonder why he didn’t put paying restitution/indulgences in his article on forgiving others? Well, I won’t hold this against him either, but I can’t be quiet when he continues to bully others, as he seems to have been emboldened to do even more since my story came down. Oh, the stories I have heard lately! This Edmund Burke quote keeps circulating in my mind: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

But surely I had done my part. I struggled immensely with taking down my story. I saw how many people were affected to change for the glory of God because of my story, yet there were those few who said I was sinning. But I desperately wanted fellowship also, a place of community to be a part of. I knew God had given me a ministry through this blog, yet I knew I needed to be ministered to as well. And I thought I’d found the perfect church again. Church #5 had everything I was looking for — 100%. So I took that as a sign from God to submit to the elders and do everything they told me to do, even though I did not want to and even though I knew it was causing great confusion among my readers. I was told that if I humbled myself, God would lift me up. So I humbled myself and took everything down without any explanation. I did everything those elders required of me in order to attend church #5, ending with the apology Doug and the BCA members received on December 24th. But, on December 27th, on the same day that Doug posted his article about forgiving others even though he had no intentions of forgiving me, I received a call from church #5 — “We quit.” No real explanation. I’d been had.

I’ve been working hard since that day to find out the truth, and I have a lot more information in general, although no specifics. I now see the pattern in all these reformed churches in San Antonio, or at least the last three, where pastors and elders fear men more than they fear God. These are men who believe in the doctrines of grace, who believe in the providence of God, yet they fear Doug Phillips. All I can say is that I understand. I, too, believe in the providence of God, so I must trust that God simply did not want me to attend this “perfect” church for some reason. When I hear of the intense pressure and coercion and threats that comes down from Doug Phillips, I suddenly understand why godly men fear man more than they do God and I won’t hold it against them.

Until my story, Doug was successful in bullying all other believers into being quiet. If I take my story down, how will other people who come behind us know the truth about this false teacher?

Dozens and dozens of God-honoring churches have been sharply divided, resulting in many church splits, due to the divisive teachings of Vision Forum’s Family Integrated Church movement. When Doug Phillips says that the church is to blame for most of the evil in the world, he brings a blanket condemnation to churches all across America. That condemning, accusatory spirit has invaded many good churches and many a pastor has found himself on the receiving end of a church member’s declaration that the way they do church is evil and wicked. Innumerable relationships amongst brothers and sisters in Christ have been unnecessarily destroyed, and great division has been wrought, in churches all across America for the sake of patriarchy. The ones left behind, those still reeling from the incredible hurt and pain due to the loss of dear friendships, now know that they are not alone. They now know that false teaching found a foot in the door of their church as well.

Countless believers who saw the folly of feminism thought “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” were actually biblical until we examined them here. There were even more who didn’t understand that what looks good in writing in “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” is not how it plays out in real life in Doug Phillips’ world. My story brought substance to the skillfully crafted wording of various patriarchy documents. Patriarchy on paper is not patriarchy in real life. Patriarchy in real life is patriocentric, as thatmom so aptly termed it. When people read the everyday details of my story, they see what life is really like when the patriarchal man is “king” of his castle. Are all men who claim patriarchy that way? No. But the type of patriarchy that Doug Phillips lives out is a misogynistic patriarchy and one every Christian should run far, far away from. Many men have repented in tears this year for having this top-down, authoritarian style of headship rather than the loving servant’s heart toward their wife and children. They saw their own hearts in my story.

Multitudes of homeschooling families were attracted to the nostalgia of the perfect life that Vision Forum seems to offer, and knew that there was a lot of truth in the message of patriarchy, but they also had a sense that something wasn’t quite right. They just couldn’t put their finger on it. Through my story, it was the little details here and there that resonated with their spirits and they had an “Aha!” moment — “I knew something wasn’t right!” The patriotism, the look of the ’50s when life was “perfect,” the glossy catalog, the exciting adventures, the charisma that Doug Phillips uses to persuade others that he alone has the corner on this market — all those perfectly polished outward appearances — yet they forgot to wash the inside of the cup. My story showed the scum and the filth on the inside of that shimmering chalice.

Then there were those sincere, dedicated Christians who loved Vision Forum and Doug Phillips and they didn’t want to hear that their hero wasn’t as perfect as they always thought he was. My story wasn’t enough to convince them on its own merits, but over time they observed the responses from Doug Phillips, his Vision Forum employees, the “leadership” of BCA, and Doug’s “independent investigators” and boys. Their behavior has been 100% consistent over the past year in not responding directly to the issues or accusations, in putting up numerous slanderous statements against us, in posting frequent blog articles that were indirect attacks against my family, friends, and many who comment here, in doing everything possible to prevent us from ever going to church again, and in slandering us and railing against us. That consistent, malicious, and retaliatory conduct has brought down another Christian idol among us and many came to see the real Doug Phillips behind the masquerade.

Hundreds and hundreds of God-loving families were bound up in legalism, and as they walked through these changes in my life this last year with me, they saw legalism in their own lives and they repented and found the freedom Christ has for us. How did they see that legalism? Through the details in my story. Did my story set people free? No. But my story was what resonated with people and what caused them to look at their own lives and their own families, and then the truth of God’s Word set them free. It is very difficult to identify legalism in your life. It was heart-wrenching for me to let it go. But as I walked away from it, others could see the harm in the legalism of my story as well.

When I first started telling my story, that was my whole goal — just tell my story. There were no issues to discuss, other than the unbiblical excommunication. I recognized that there were some signs of spiritual abuse, but not much. But after I told my story, the issues began surfacing one by one. Since my story was so public, I was forced to deal with these issues publicly as well. I remember earlier in the year when I made a comment like, “Of course I still believe in patriarchy!” Telling my story, though, necessitated digging to the roots to find out why the fruit was so rotten. We have just begun to examine these roots of patriarchy, legalism, theonomy, dominion theology, and reconstruction. Have you ever looked at the root of a plant and tried to determine what it was without looking at its fruit? There may be some tell-tale signs but it is extremely difficult to identify the root apart from the fruit. I realize now that if I solely focus on the root of these issues, without having the picture of the fruit ever before us, we will lose our perspective. And those who come along after I take down all the pictures of the fruit will not understand why we are examining what appears to be good roots. “Oh, those roots aren’t all that bad,” they might say. “There might be a little rot here and a few pest-eaten spots there, but overall they mostly look good. I don’t see anything to worry about.” My story is the fruit of what even a little rot and a few pests can do.

When we come to God’s Word, we all come with our own presuppositions. That is inherent in each of us, to one degree or another. When someone challenges our presuppositions, that can be quite scary. As my own presuppositions were not only challenged this year, but severely undermined and then completely upended, so were the presuppositions of those who hold to various doctrines such as theonomy, dominion theology, and reconstructionism. Many teachable Christians, those who were sold out for the truth of God’s Word over their own presuppositions, wrestled through weighing these particular doctrines and many repented from these false teachings that hold one in bondage. The results of these false teachings were evidenced clearly in my story and that is why people were willing to reconsider what beliefs they hold to.

So — I’m putting my story back up. I am very sorry for all the confusion I caused in taking it down. I tried very hard to reconcile taking down my story and focusing on just the issues, but I realize that it is impossible to separate them. In order to demonstrate the stark reality of each issue, I need to be able to point to my story. I will be writing about the issues, as I promised, but I will use examples from my own life, from my own story, to demonstrate why the issues matter, why the root is bad and what the fruit of that bad root looks like.

I tried to show grace to Doug by taking down my story. Sometimes when we go from one extreme in our lives, we tend to let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction and we go to an equally opposite, and equally wrong, extreme. In my haste to leave my judgmental spirit of legalism behind me, I forgot about the big picture. Yes, I need to show grace to Doug, but does grace cover up sin? Yes, I need to show grace to Doug, but does grace take the blame for another’s wrongdoings? Yes, I need to show grace to Doug, but does grace forget about all the other people out there who are being spiritually abused or who are caught up in Doug’s false teachings? Yes, I need to show grace to Doug, but doesn’t grace include holding public Christian leaders accountable? Doesn’t grace include shining the light of God’s Word on not only Doug’s teachings, but his public sins as well? I do love Doug, but I am not loving him by taking down my story. I appropriately showed him grace when I turned down an interview with the Wall Street Journal, recognizing that the secular media would write a biased piece and take Christian business to an unbelieving world. I confronted two women recently, lovingly, for allowing others to abuse them and their families without saying anything in response. I have to look in that same mirror and give myself that same advice. I guess I still have a lot to learn about grace.

If I don’t tell my story about Doug Phillips, who will? Even if others told my story, I am the one with the story. I am the only one who can give the personal testimony that God has given me. This is the testimony of what God has done in my life. I don’t need to hide my testimony, but I do need to be careful in what I say . I don’t need to cover up my testimony because someone else doesn’t like to hear the truth. I’ve been thinking a lot about King David. He was a murderer and an adulterer. He was a wicked sinner. But is that what we remember him most for? No. When we think of David, we think of the shepherd boy who dared to stand up against a giant when all the soldiers were too afraid to do so. I am that kind of a David. When we think of David, we think of all the psalms he wrote to the Lord, we think of a king who did what was right in the sight of the Lord. When we think of David, we think of a man after God’s own heart. I don’t know the exact meaning of that phrase “a man after God’s own heart,” but I heard recently that it may mean that David loved the Lord with all his heart and wanted to do everything he could to please the Lord. If so, that’s the kind of David I long to be. We also think of a man who quickly and wholeheartedly repented when he was confronted with his sin. He even wrote a psalm of repentance that was recorded for us to be able to hear his heart. And I want to be like David in that I quickly and earnestly repent when confronted with sin in my own life as well.

But why is the story of David’s sins, not only the murder and adultery, but others as well, recorded permanently in Scripture not only for a record of a public leader’s life, but for all the generations to read and hear about for thousands of years afterward? Why didn’t God erase that part of the story when David repented? Why didn’t He clean it up and only tell us the good parts about this man who loved God so much? Aren’t David’s sins part of his own testimony? Aren’t David’s sins part of the testimony of what sin does to us? Aren’t the effects of David’s sins far-reaching? Or perhaps we could consider the effects of Abraham’s far-reaching sins as well? Does God cover up our stories when we repent? Does God expect us to cover up our stories when we repent? Or does God expect us to cover up the far-reaching sins of public leaders who bring false teaching to unsuspecting, sincere believers? No.

So, I don’t need to hammer on Doug. That is the grace I need to show him. I don’t need to be nit-picky, as I sometimes was in my articles. That is the grace I need to show him. And I won’t be putting up all the articles I originally had here, since some of them were not done with the right attitude. I will also show grace in that I will revisit the articles and comments here and see if there is anything that is not glorifying to God. But I need to continue exposing Doug Phillips’ false teachings and I need to keep my story up to show the serious nature and effects of those false teachings. Just as Christ spent much of His time rebuking the Pharisees of His day, so God has called me to speak out against the modern-day “pharisees” of this world. Repent!

This past year has been an incredible growing experience for me. I’m grateful for all those who came along for the ride with me. I’m eternally grateful for all those challenged me in so many ways this year. And I’m grateful that God used my story for good. It really is true that all things work together for good to those who love Him. I’m grateful for the excommunication. Without this spiritual abuse, I probably would have grown into the Pharisee of all Pharisees. Without this story, I wouldn’t have been able to help other people who have been abused. Without this story, I wouldn’t have met all of you!

In my last article where I took down my story, I said this:

There cannot be peace at any price. It would not be possible to have a true unity based upon error, nor would it do any good to convince ourselves that we are in unity when we do not agree on the truths presented in God’s Word. … We cannot compromise, but we can love one another. Unity in fellowship does not always equal unity in beliefs.

Did I read what I wrote?!! My actions in my last article were the exact opposite of what I wrote! Peace at any price. How many of us do that? Many of us got together with family in these last few weeks; what did we do for the sake of keeping the peace amongst our family members? Do we compromise ourselves or our children to cater to one other person? I am guilty of attempting peace at the price of covering up the truth. Yes, I still live real close to Doug and many people from BCA and many Vision Forum employees. I still see them on a frequent basis. Just a couple weeks ago, I saw several hundred former “community” friends. The temptation to want “peace” with real life people, the temptation to desire fellowship at any cost (even if I compromise myself), the desperation to belong to a church where the truth of God’s Word is preached, is peace at a price that I cannot pay. I cannot enter into fellowship with other believers and pretend like there is not a false teacher out there in our midst. I cannot water down the truth of God’s Word so that I can be in some sort of agreement with those who lives are bound up in the false teaching of Doug Phillips. I cannot compromise, and I am sorry for doing so in my last article. I can love them, and I do. I can pray for them, and I do. And I can pray that God will provide a church for me who will not ask me to compromise in any way. I know there is one out there and I am praying diligently for that church. I do not have to agree with everyone in that church in order to fellowship with them. I am willing to love them where they are, but God has called me to speak the truth and I cannot compromise.

So, did I tell the truth in my last article? Of course. But I also told the truth in my story. Did I tell the truth in my Thanksgiving article? Of course, but it was confusing to people. I am writing about how Doug Phillips has spiritually abused my family and then I tell about some wonderful memories. To some, that article may have looked like I was negating my story. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Remember when I began my story with “the search for the perfect church”? Those first couple years at BCA were mostly “perfect.” Yes, I was not allowed to take communion, but there were still many really good memories, and most of that Thanksgiving article was about that early time period, that honeymoon phase for BCA. So, I will not post my Thanksgiving article so as not to cause any confusion. I don’t want anyone thinking that I am divided against myself!

But I think I need to address a couple things from my last article. I said, “I publicly apologize to Doug Phillips for telling my story online.” There are times to go public and there are times not to. My story needed to be told in public. I gave Doug every opportunity to repent. He did not. He has a pattern of abusing other Christians. That needs to be shown. He is teaching false doctrine. That is important not only to expose the false teaching, but also the false teacher. This apology was an example of “peace at any price.” I was wrong to seek peace, and fellowship, by compromising. (I guess I still have a lot to learn in my spiritual walk!)

I also apologized for Vision Forum experiencing a loss of business. I really cannot accept responsibility for that in any way. I never asked people not to support Vision Forum. I never asked people to boycott Vision Forum. I never organized or participated in a protest against Vision Forum or its products. I never did anything to purposefully harm Vision Forum’s business. I merely told my story. Doug’s response was quite telling to many people. And everyone made up their own mind on where they would spend their money. I did not interfere with Doug’s business in any way.

Mike tried to teach me how to interpret Scripture this year and one of the things that he taught me was that we cannot make a principle out of a story. I think I failed in that lesson in my last article. In trying to bend over backwards to justify taking my story down, I did just that — made a principle out of several passages from Paul that were miniature stories. Paul’s purpose in writing those epistles was not to expose specific false teachers. He did not say that was wrong either. The Bible does not say it is wrong to expose false teachers. In fact, we are told to do just that. That hermeneutic of drawing out principles where none exist resides deep within me and it will take a while to see where I am still being principially based in my thinking when I should be focused on the teachings of God’s Word instead.

Could I have told my story better? Probably. There’s always room for improvement. But just because I have a little overkill in places does not mean that I again swing to the opposite extreme and just kill the whole story. Talk about overkill!

I had been noticing some confrontation online regarding various aspects of the patriarchy movement that really concerned me awhile ago and I felt that some of the conversations were not glorifying to God. While we are certainly called to expose the false teachings, I do want us all to do so in a way that glorifies God. I say this because I felt responsible for starting to expose patriarchy and I didn’t want to see it turn into something ugly and un-Christlike and I was concerned about the direction I saw things heading. In my fervor to help calm things down a bit, I thought taking my story down might help. Peace at any price — not good.

So my focus is sharpened now and I’m sorry for any confusion I may have caused with all this. My spiritual walk is quite a journey and I got off course a bit last month. I’m back on track again now, and know that this is the ministry God has given me. I intend to fulfill this ministry with much love toward Doug Phillips and all those who have hurt me. I intend to show grace, but never compromise. I intend to expose the false teachings and the fruit that results from those teachings. I intend to start showing where we should go after we reject these false teachings. And I trust God to provide fellowship for me in His way and His time.

I took my children to a Christmas concert a couple weeks ago and we saw lots of old friends. Natasha wrote on her blog: “How much things have changed in the past 3 years. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a good or a bad thing. Then I see them, and not that much has changed for all of them, and I wonder if that’s a good or a bad thing. Or maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s just life. Maybe it doesn’t have to be black and white, it just is.”

For all the Natashas out there who are torn between the past and the future, my story is there to remind you of the truth of the past. For all the Matthew Murrays out there, my story is up to show that not only is there sin in the camp, but that God has a way out. For all those who in any way relate to my story, know that there is a kindred spirit here who cares.

And to all my readers, I am sorry for all the confusion I caused in my desperation for fellowship. I purpose never to do such a thing again.

Theonomist, Antinomian, or Supernomian?

If we are truly no longer under the Old Covenant, if we are dead to the Law, are the theonomists correct in labeling us “antinomian” (against the Law)? Or is this just a false dichotomy? If we are no longer under the Law, does that mean we can do whatever we want? What should our lives look like now?

Let’s start off with what the Bible tells us.

Rom. 6:14-15 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!

Well, this verse certainly does away with any notion of being free to sin. Since sin is lawlessness, and we are not to sin, then there must be a law, but what is it? This verse tells us that the opposite of being under the Law is being under grace. What does it mean to be under grace? To be under something carries a connotation of authority. The Law no longer has any authority over the Israelite and it never had any authority over the Gentile. So many of us, myself included, put ourselves under a law that never had any jurisdiction over us to begin with! Now that is bondage!

To be under grace simply means to be under the authority of the grace of God, to be joined with Christ. The Law represents the Old Covenant, while grace represents all that Jesus did for us under the New Covenant. If we are living under grace, we are living in Christ, we are walking with Him, we are abiding in Him, we are obeying Him, we are enjoying all His blessings that He bestows upon us daily.

So what is sin under the New Covenant then? If we have just determined that none of the Old Covenant applies to us as Christians, certainly we must have some sort of guidelines to follow. Look at what the Lord promised us:

Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

So we know that God has given us His laws and they are written on our hearts and they are in our minds. This is the beauty of the being under the New Covenant. We no longer have an external code of conduct to follow. We don’t have a list of rules that we need to dissect to find all the nuances and minutiae; we don’t have to be pharisaical in order to know if we are following God’s laws for us now. God has given us a new heart! That new heart is tender and desires to please God. It is not like those stone tablets that were inflexible and hard as rock. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit now, the living Spirit of the Almighty God, and we have the mind of Christ. The nation of Israel was led by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. They had long lists of rules which were impossible to keep. They lived under the yoke of a works-based covenant which brought them nothing but curses and death. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us now, leading us. We live in the newness of life and can rest in Jesus! Our hearts have been regenerated and written upon with love. We don’t become perfect overnight; in fact, sanctification is a life-long process. But God has literally changed our hearts and He has written His laws on our hearts and our minds.

That sounds terribly subjective. What if I think something is a sin and you don’t? What if I think I am free to do something which would be quite offensive to you? Did God just leave us to a subjective interpretation of His laws written on our hearts? No. Of course not. I believe that He gave us some very specific written instructions in His Word, but that the underlying motive behind all those instructions is written deep in our hearts so that when we are truly regenerated, we will naturally desire to follow His laws.

The New Covenant actually uses several different terms to describe the laws that apply to us now. Let’s look at them briefly.

Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.

It is not our purpose in this article to address these laws in depth, but do you see the contrast between these laws of the New Covenant and that of the old? The old covenant had laws that were works-based; the New Covenant’s laws are based on faith. The old covenant had the law of sin and death, while the New Covenant brings us the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. The old covenant was the Law of Moses, while we are now under the law of Christ. The old covenant was a heavy yoke of bondage which even the Israelites couldn’t bear, but we are under the perfect law of liberty.

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well;

Both covenants had this royal law, however, the royal law of love. What was the difference? Was there any? Again, under the old covenant, this was an external constraint, written in stone. Under the New Covenant, this law is written on our hearts, providing internal motivation, but it is not the only law written on our hearts.

But first, let us determine how we are to know what our law is now. What rule of life are we under? We don’t have a list like the Ten Commandments in the New Covenant, so how do we know? It seems that while the Law of the old covenant came through Moses, the law of the New Covenant comes through both Jesus and His apostles, specifically Paul. Here are a few verses that tell us so.

Matt. 17:5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

Matt. 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Acts 1:1-2 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,

1 Corinthians 14:37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I [Paul] write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

I Thess. 4:1-2 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we [Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy] gave you through the Lord Jesus.

II Pet. 3:1-2 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,

So now we know that everything that Jesus and Paul and other apostles commanded are what we are supposed to obey. It is important to keep in mind the context of each specific command, though, and make sure that those commands were actually for us. For example, when Christ told the rich young ruler to go and sell everything he had, give the money to the poor and follow Jesus, we have to realize that He was not giving us that command. But the majority of the commands in the New Covenant are for us.

Now that we understand that Christ and His apostles have given us specific commandments, we need to realize that God actually expects us to obey them.

John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”

John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.”

And these commands to obey His commands are actually fulfilling a greater commandment — to love God. Notice how often God tells us to love God and love others, and this is just a tiny sample:

Matt. 22:37-39 Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

1 John 3:23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.

1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

It certainly seems that there are two commandments written on our hearts: love God and love others. I am trying to find any commands in the New Covenant that don’t fall into these two categories. Under the old covenant, there were laws that pertained to diet or clothing types or pruning trees, etc. — lots of laws that didn’t specifically fall under the categories of loving God or loving others, other than the fact that obeying God’s commands was loving Him. But it seems that all of the New Covenant can be boiled down to loving God and loving others.

So what kinds of laws would fall under these two greatest commandments? Wouldn’t they be moral types of law? Let’s look at some examples of laws that we are given in the New Covenant.

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

I like this one because it tells us that not only were these five of the Ten Commandments based on loving your neighbor, but these five are commands in the New Covenant as well, as they are part of loving your neighbor. These sound pretty moral to me.

I Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

Those look a lot like the first two commandments of those Ten Commandments to me!

Ephesians 6:2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:

Another commandment repeated.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

The third commandment is about the words that come out of our mouth. While this is not a duplicate of that commandment, it is about the same topic. Mike tells me there are at least four New Covenant passages that speak against using profanity. Maybe someone can help me out here.

So far, I count nine of the Ten Commandments repeated as commands in the New Covenant. These are all moral commands. The Bible still tells us that we are to obey certain moral laws and it lays it out clearly which ones they are. Of course we still obey moral commands. We just need to understand where our moral commands come from, and it is not from the Ten Commandments.

We are also given a few lists of sins throughout the New Covenant as well. I will just list a couple.

Rom. 1:28-32 those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

There are many, many more lists that give us our code of law under the New Covenant such as the fruit of the Spirit and all the one another commands. If we look for them, they are as plain as the nose on our face.

Are there any laws in the Law of Moses that theonomists want to press upon us that are not repeated in the New Covenant? I can think of two off the top of my head. Tithing and the Sabbath. Now, if we remember our previous articles, we know that that Law was given only to Israel, not to the Gentiles. We remember that the Law of Moses, that old covenant, was abolished at the cross. We know that the law was always treated as one complete code of law, so everything in that Law was completed and fulfilled in Christ; no part of that Law applies to us anymore. It never did. But we have many of the same laws that were in that covenant.

Let me explain. We would all agree that stealing is wrong; it’s a sin. But why is it a sin? Because the Ten Commandments say “Thou shalt not steal”? Or because Eph. 4:28 says, “Let him who stole steal no longer”? They both say the same thing! But the law from Exodus has no jurisdiction over us. We are not under the authority of that Law. We are under the New Covenant, so stealing would be a sin based upon Eph. 4:28, not Ex. 20:15. We can understand it in light of our modern-day society as well. Stealing is a crime in America. Stealing is also a crime in Britain. If someone in North Dakota steals, which law are they breaking? Just because both countries have the same law does not mean that they both have jurisdiction over the same individuals. They don’t. And just because both covenants have some of the same laws does not mean that they both have jurisdiction over us as believers. They don’t. Only one code of law has authority over us — the New Covenant.

Let’s get back to tithing and the Sabbath for a minute. Even the theonomists agree that certain parts of the Law of Moses were done away with — what they call the ceremonial parts. Remember that God does not divide them up this way, but He does talk specifically in Hebrews about everything being associated with the temple system of worship being abolished. Let’s think about that for a minute. What was the purpose of the tithes? To fund the sacrificial system and the priests and Levites who carried out the sacrificial system. Sounds like that should be abolished on that basis alone, but remember that the Law of Moses was one complete code of Law that was fully abolished at the cross anyway. And for those wondering, cheerful giving from the heart is what we are commanded to do in the New Covenant.

How about the Sabbath?

Col. 2:14-17 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.

The Sabbath was a part of that handwriting of requirements, which was contrary, but was nailed to the cross. The Sabbath was a shadow of what was to come — Christ. While there are other aspects of the Sabbath that we could talk about, such as entering His rest, do you remember what is different about the Fourth Commandment in comparison to other nine?

Ex. 31:12-17 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”

The Sabbath was a sign of that old covenant between Israel and the Lord. That covenant is no longer. We have a New Covenant and that New Covenant has a new sign.

I Cor. 11:23-26 “that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

The Sabbath was the sign of the Old Covenant. It was there to remind the Israelites weekly of their covenant with God. The Lord’s Supper is the sign of the New Covenant. It is there to remind us of that New Covenant with God, that covenant which supersedes that old covenant. Why would we want to keep a sign of a covenant that no longer exists? The New Covenant does not ever tell us to keep the Sabbath, nor does it change it from one day to another. Why? Because the Sabbath has nothing to do with the New Covenant at all. Just as the sign of circumcision is no longer valid as a sign, so the sign of the Sabbath is no longer valid. Here is what we are told about it now.

Romans 14:5-6 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.

That verse is talking about an area of the Christian life we call freedom, or liberty. It is not talking about the Sabbath, but about setting aside a day for a certain purpose, such as Christmas Day. It could also be talking about setting aside a certain day of the week to meet together for worship. Christians usually meet on Sunday, but this verse tells us that Sunday is not a special day in this way. Sunday is definitely not the Christian Sabbath.

Here’s an interesting command in the New Covenant:

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

What was that yoke of bondage? The Law of Moses. We are set free from the yoke of bondage under the Law of Moses and we are commanded to stand fast in that liberty. There is a caution, however, that goes with that.

Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

It always comes back to love, doesn’t it?

In my previous article, I asked what commandments Jesus was talking about in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Let’s look at the context. It’s really quite simple. In the Sermon on the Mount, immediately following this statement, Jesus begins a series of “You have heard it said … But I say unto you …” What were those “You have heard it said” statements? They were commandments from the Law of Moses. But Jesus changes each of those commandments into something greater, a higher degree, higher than even that of the Pharisees’ standards, as He tells us in the next verse: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus’ standards for loving God and loving others is higher than that of the old covenant, higher than the Pharisees’ standards. (Note that Jesus is still not talking about a works-based righteousness or salvation in this verse, however. The righteousness He is speaking of is Christ’s imputed righteousness in us.)

So Jesus uses the word “these” in relation to commandments in this passage. Which commandments? These commandments. Which commandments are these? The ones I am getting ready to explain to you immediately. These are the commandments that Jesus wants us to live by. These are the commandments which lift us up to a higher degree than that old covenant of death ever could. These are the commandments which demonstrate the love that God has written on our hearts. These, and all the other New Covenant commandments are actually more difficult to obey than that old written code, that letter of the Law that only brings death. They are difficult, nay, impossible, for those whose hearts have not had these laws written on them. But this law is a better law, a higher law that lifts us up a notch, a more loving law.

Are we antinomian? No. Absolutely not. Do we obey moral laws? Yes. We obey many moral laws, but they are the moral laws of the New Covenant. We are not theonomists in that we are no longer under the Law of Moses. We are not antinomians. We have successfully shown that that was a false dichotomy. So what are we in relation to the law? I propose that we are supernomian. Super means “of the highest degree.” Nomian comes from nomos, which is law, and here specifically is God’s law. God’s law of love lifts us up a notch. So a supernomian would be a Christian who follows God’s law to the highest degree — loving God and loving others.

The Law of Moses provided external constraints. The New Covenant has an internal motivation from the heart, the heart that has the law of God written upon it.

So some people call me a Nine Commandment Christian! That’s fine. Just don’t confuse which nine commandments I am obeying — those nine from the New Covenant, plus a bunch of others. Actually, I prefer being called a Two Commandment Christian — love God and love others. That pretty much covers it! I’ve got it! I’m a supernomian, Two Commandment Christian. How about you?

(Thanks, Mike! This teaching changed my life.)

Out With the Old, In With the New

There are several passages of Scripture which compare and contrast the Old Covenant with the New Covenant. Let’s look at some of those now and see what God has to say about both of these covenants. I will use red (for the bloodiness) for the First Covenant and green (for the new life) for the Second Covenant. This first one is written specifically to those who still want to follow the Law of Moses. Remember that “the Law” is always treated as one unified code of law all throughout Scripture, so let’s see what God says about those who desire to be under that Law:

Gal. 4:21-5:1 “Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written:

“ Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

This passage is speaking directly to those who desire to be under the authority of the Law of Moses, which includes the Ten Commandments. Paul tells us right up front that this is symbolic of the two covenants. Let’s observe how he describes the covenant of the bondwoman:

from Mount Sinaigives birth to bondage

is Mount Sinai

the Jerusalem which now is (at the time of Paul)

is in bondage with her children

was born according to the flesh

persecutes him who was born according to the Spirit

shall not be a heir with the son of the freewoman

a yoke of bondage

That is the first covenant, the old covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the law of Moses.
Paul describes the second covenant, the New Covenant, the covenant of the freewoman:

the Jerusalem abovewhich is free and the mother of us all

children of promise

born according to the Spirit

the son of the freewoman

free

given liberty

Do you see the clear contrast between these two covenants? For contrasts and comparisons, I like using charts, so we can also look at it this way:

Let’s look at another one:

II Cor. 3 “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

As we compare and contrast these same two covenants, notice that the terms of the New Covenant are being laid out in all these various passages. This chart speaks for itself:

All Christians recognize Hebrews as abrogating at least part of the Law, but let’s look at it to see what it really says. Here we see the clear terms of the New Covenant as well (bolded in green). I know this is a long passage, but it is very important to see the continuity from the beginning where it speaks of the first and second covenant to the very end where it concludes this section on the first and second covenant. The chart below the passage helps compare and contrast these two covenants more clearly.

Heb. 8:6-10:10 “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.

In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.”

Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them ” (which are offered according to the law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Let’s compare these two covenants: that first faulty covenant and the second faultless covenant.

What could be more clear? These two covenants are contrasted over and over throughout Scripture. The old covenant brought death, the New Covenant brings life. The old covenant was with Israel. The New Covenant is with the elect. The old covenant brought bondage. The new covenant brought freedom in Christ.

Let’s look at a few more passages, just to double-check. Here’s one that tells us the purpose of the old covenant (the Law) and what happens when that purpose is fulfilled:

Gal. 3:19-25 “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”

Paul tells us that the Law (the old covenant) was added till the Seed should come. That sounds like a definite stopping point. The Law here is contrasted with faith, the faith that came in Jesus Christ. Before, (the Israelites) were kept under guard by the Law. Since the old covenant was only given to the Israelites, this passage is not speaking about the Gentiles. The Law was a tutor, or a guardian in other translations. A tutor was a slave in New Testament times who was placed in charge of the boys while they were growing up. The tutor was in authority over the boys, just as the Law was in authority over the Israelites. The tutor was not the teacher, but he brought the boys to the teachers, just as the Law brought the Jews to the Teacher.

After the Seed came, faith came, and the Law was no longer in authority over the Israelites. They no longer had any need for that tutor — the Law, the old covenant. It was time for them to grow up and they no longer needed a tutor. In a sense, Paul is telling us that it is time for us to grow up in faith in Christ. We don’t need the Law; we have something better.

Here is another passage directed to the Israelites regarding the Law, the first covenant:

Rom. 7:4-6 “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

“My brethren” is a common term used throughout Scripture meaning “fellow Israelites.” It later was sometimes used to mean believers as well. In this case, verse one of this passage tells us that he is referring to the Jews — “to those who know the Law.” Paul is pretty clear here that they are dead to the Law, that they have been delivered from the Law, that they died to that Law that held them. Those are some fairly strong words. He also tells us when this happened — through the body of Christ — which we can see was the cross. But he doesn’t leave them hanging by telling them that the Law is dead to them now, but that they are to be married to Christ, which is the new and better covenant.

This next passage tells us exactly when this change took place:

Col. 2:13-14 “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

What is that handwriting of requirements? Well, which requirements were handwritten? Were they not the Ten Commandments, the very essence of the Old Covenant, the ones written on tablets of stone? And here Paul tells us that not only was that one complete code of Law against us, contrary to us, but that Christ wiped it out, took it out of the way, nailed it to the cross.

This thought of the Law being wiped out was just as hard for the Jews in the New Testament times as it is for some Christians today. Some Pharisees were teaching that the Gentile converts had to be both circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses. A council met in Jerusalem to consider this matter, and here is the gist of what happened:

Acts 15:5 “But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to commandthem to keep the law of Moses.'”

v. 10 [Peter] “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

v. 19, 20 [James] “Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols,from sexual immorality,from things strangled, and from blood.”

v. 24 [Letter from the apostles and elders] “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law‘—to whom we gave no such commandment—”

v. 28, 29 [Letter cont.] “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

So the final outcome was that the apostles never gave any commandment that Gentiles had to obey the Law of Moses, but that they should obey four laws: abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. They didn’t even tell them to obey the Ten Commandments! Now this was at the very beginning of the apostles’ instructions, so many more commandments were added later, but it is notable that these were the only four original requirements and not the Ten Commandments!

I saved this one until nearly the end because it uses that controversial word — abolish:

Eph. 2:14-16 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”

First, this passage is talking about two groups of people: the Jews and the Gentiles. They were enemies.

What was between them? The middle wall of separation.

What was that middle wall of separation? The law of commandments contained in ordinances.

And what was that law of commandments contained in ordinances? The Law. The first covenant. All that set Israel apart from all other nations, from all other peoples. All that made them holy and different.

That Law caused great enmity between Israel and all those they were commanded to kill, did it not? History tells us that they didn’t get along very well with their neighbors outside of Israel. But Paul tells us that Jesus came to bring peace between the Jews and Gentiles by abolishing that enmity between us, abolishing it through the cross, putting it to death.

The word “abolish” in this passage is the Greek word “katargeo,” which basically means to make of no effect, to take away the power or the influence, or to end the relationship. In other words, at the cross, the Law no longer had any authority over the Israelites. Remember that it only applied to Israel to begin with. So, the Law, the first covenant, that which was causing enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles, no longer was in effect when Jesus died on the cross. When that veil was torn in two, the two enemies were made one in Christ.

And since I know the next question would logically be “What about Matthew 5:17?” we will go there next. But let’s look a bit further in the text as well.

Matt. 5:17-20 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

The phrase “the Law or the Prophets” is an all-inclusive term basically meaning the whole Old Testament. So the first thing we see is that Christ did not come to destroy any of the Old Testament, including the Law. Instead, He came to fulfill all of the Old Testament, including the Law. The word “destroy” in this passage is the Greek word “kataluo,” which means to utterly destroy. Notice the difference between this passage and that last passage in Ephesians. Christ did not come to (kataluo) utterly destroy the Law, but He did in fact (katargeo) make the Law of no effect. To abolish (katargeo) is not the same thing as to destroy (kataluo).

The next thing we see in Matthew is that nothing will happen until all is fulfilled. No part of the Law will change until all the Law is fulfilled. It does not say that the ceremonial part of the Law will pass before all is fulfilled. It does not say that no part of the Law will change until the ceremonial part is fulfilled. It simply says that no part of the Law will change until all the is fulfilled. Has the Law changed? Yes. We have seen that over and over and over again here today. Then has everything been fulfilled? Did Jesus fulfill the Law? Did He keep it perfectly? Yes. Did Jesus fulfill the prophets? Did He fulfill all the prophecies? He must have because this tells us that no part of the law will change until all has been fulfilled and we all agree that the Law has changed. So have heaven and earth passed away yet? No. They did not pass away before the law changed. They did not pass away before all was fulfilled.

The Law was fulfilled by Jesus. The Prophets were fulfilled by Jesus. They were not destroyed; they were fulfilled. But the Law was also abolished — made of no effect any longer.

So why does Jesus tell us not to break even the least of these commandments? Let’s save that, and what this all means for us as Christians today, for next time.

(Again, a huge thanks to Mike for teaching me all this.)

A First Look at Theonomy and the Bible

Patriarchy stands on the shoulders of theonomy. I propose here to show that patriarchy is not biblical because theonomy is not biblical. Let’s go straight to God’s Word to find out.

John 8:31-32 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”

Jesus is saying that we can know the truth by abiding in Jesus‘ word, and that the truth of His word will make us free.

Whenever we look at what Scripture has to say about a subject, we should strive, it at all possible, to use both biblical terms and biblical definitions. While we all know that the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible, we understand clearly that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly laid out there, so we use a word that is not from Scripture. However, when the Bible does use certain terms, we ought to use them also. When we looked at patriarchy’s position on theonomy, we used their definitions. One theonomist has a favorite saying, “He who defines, wins.” Since we are in favor of the Bible winning on its own terms, let’s let our terms and definitions come from Scripture itself.

The first word we want to look at is “covenant.” Now, they did not use this word in the movie, “In Defense of God’s Law,” but remember that we are going to use the Biblical terms here. Some readers here have questioned patriarchy’s various uses of the word “covenant,” such as when it was used in conjunction with Jamestown earlier this year. Let’s go to Scripture first. The first time God uses the word “covenant” is in Genesis 6, when God establishes a covenant first with Noah and his family, and subsequently with all of creation, that He will preserve the earth from being destroyed by a flood. This is commonly called the Noahic covenant and it applies to all people and every living creature and only God promises to do something here. The sign for this covenant was the rainbow. God clearly tells us that the rainbow is the sign of the covenant and that the sign is there to remember this covenant.

The next covenant we see in Scripture is that which God made with Abram, beginning in Genesis 15 and fleshed out in chapter 17. God promises Abram that he will make his name great, that he will give him a descendant from whom a great nation would arise, and give them a certain portion of land for their own. Abram was not required to do anything in this covenant and it applied to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel. In both of these covenants, God is the One making promises unconditionally. The sign of this covenant was circumcision. I’ll bet that sign reminded them often of God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants.

The next covenant we see with God is in Exodus 19 after God has graciously redeemed Israel from being slaves to the Egyptians and He takes them to Mt. Sinai to give them His covenant. The Lord begins this covenant with an if/then construct: “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people.” This covenant is a conditional covenant requiring obedience. They had to work for the blessing, although they never fulfilled their part. And who was this covenant with?

Deut. 5:1-3 “And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb [Sinai]. The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.

Over and over again, the Bible makes it clear that this covenant was made with Israel and no one else. As such, this covenant with Israel had a specific beginning point: at Mt. Sinai.

A covenant is a legal agreement whereby both parties agree to something, with the terms of the covenant often being written down. Such is the case with the Mosaic covenant. This legal covenant was made between the Lord and the nation of Israel. How do we know it was legal? It not only contained laws (some say 613 of them), as we all agree, but there were penalties, which made it legally enforceable. If the speed limit sign on the freeway said “65 mph,” but there were no penalties if you drove over the speed limit, then it would not be legally binding on you. It would not really be a law anymore, but just a good suggestion. The Mosaic covenant, that covenant God made with Israel, was legally binding on them in that not only were they promised blessings if they obeyed, but they were promised curses if they disobeyed as well.

Deut. 28:1-2 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:” and he lists a whole bunch of blessings that they will receive if they obey.

Deut. 28:15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:” and he lists a ton of curses that will come upon if they don’t obey.

Obey and be blessed and live. Disobey and be cursed and die. Those were the terms of the covenant God made with Israel, a works-based, legal covenant. They would have to work hard for those blessings, but in reality, they could never work hard enough. Their side of the covenant was impossible to fulfill.

But what exactly was that covenant? Again, let’s let the Bible spell it out for us.

Ex. 34:27-28 “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments are the words of the Mosaic covenant? Let’s check some more Scripture to make sure.

Deut. 4:13 “So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone.”

The Ten Commandments are the essence of the covenant of Moses, that covenant given only to Israel. The term “Ten Commandments” is only used three times in all of Scripture and they are ALWAYS to be thought of both as a whole unit and as having a very intimate connection with the Mosaic covenant as a whole. They are the terms that represent the whole covenant. These two tablets of stone were the legally binding document of the whole Law, but they couldn’t be separated from the Law of Moses. Here’s the the third reference to the Ten Commandments:

Deut. 10:4 “He wrote on the tablets, like the former writing, the Ten Commandments which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.”

Are the Ten Commandments then the sign of the Mosaic covenant? No. They are representative of the covenant. Let’s look at the sign of the Mosaic covenant:

Ex. 31:12-17 “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: “Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”

The sign of the Mosaic covenant was the Sabbath. Every seventh day, the children of Israel were reminded of the covenant they had made with God. Notice here that these verses clearly indicate that the Sabbath was a sign between God and the children of Israel. It was not a sign between God and Adam, nor between God and the church.

The Mosaic covenant was also called the First Covenant:

Heb. 8:7 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.”

How do we know what that first covenant is in this passage? The context tells us a few verses later:

Heb. 9:1-4 “Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;”

Heb. 9:18-20 “Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”

This covenant, however, was commonly known as “the Law” or “this Law.” Unless specifically designated otherwise (such as “the law of kindness”), “the law” or “this law,” as used nearly 400 times throughout Scripture, always refers to the whole Law of Moses, the First Covenant. Sometimes it is referred to as “this book of the law,” “the law of Moses” or “the law of God” as well. What we don’t find anywhere are “the moral law,” “the civil law,” or “the ceremonial law.” It is always one unified code of law — the law. Look at this passage of Scripture which gives several different names for the Law, the one unified code of Law — the Mosaic covenant:

Neh. 8 “and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded Israel.
So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding…
and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, …
Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; …
So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; …
For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
Now on the second day the heads of the fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law.
And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, …
Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God.”

Being inseparable from the Law of Moses, as the words of the covenant, we should also look at the other terms the Bible uses for the Ten Commandments:

Ex. 24:12 “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”

Ex. 25:16 “And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.”

Ex. 31:18 “And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”
Ex. 34:28 “And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”

Deut. 9:9-11 “When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass, at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant.”

It is fascinating to me that God uses several varying terms for both the Mosaic covenant and the Ten Commandments, but “moral law,” “civil law” and “ceremonial law” are not any of those terms. We only find one unified code of law — the whole law of Moses — and the Ten Commandments, inextricably linked.

Now that we understand some of the various terms for the Mosaic covenant, the law of Moses given to the children of Israel, we can see that this covenant was not given to the Gentiles:

Rom. 2:14 “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,

What was the purpose of the Law of Moses, that first covenant?

Rom. 5:13, 20 “For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. … Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound.”

Gal. 3:19, 24 “What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, … Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

I Tim. 1:9, 10 “the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,”

Notice first the use of the term “the law” in all these passages, which clearly indicates the Law of Moses, one unified code of law. The purpose of the Law of Moses was not for moral reasons, but to show us how wicked we are, that we cannot possibly keep the Law and that we have need of a Savior — to bring us to Christ. The Law did not show us God’s grace; it showed us our desperate need of God’s grace.

Let’s go on to the next major covenant that we need to cover — the New Covenant, the covenant of grace. It was first predicted:

Jer. 31:31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—”

And then fulfilled:

Heb. 8:8, 13 “He says: ‘Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—’ … In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete.”

We will look at the terms a bit later, but let’s look at the sign of this covenant:

I Cor. 11:23-26 “that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

Although this passage does not use the word “sign,” we can see that the objective of the sign is present: to remember the covenant. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is to remind us of the New Covenant, that covenant of grace.

Although this is intended to be just a very brief overview of what God says about the Law, I think it would be best for me to stop here now and continue in a day or two. Consider the terms the Bible uses so far and in the next article, we will see what happened to the old covenant in comparison to the New Covenant.

(Thanks to Mike for teaching me these things. Anything I mess up is entirely my own fault!)