Scott Brown’s No Gossip Rule: The Plague of the NCFIC


How Doug Phillips and Scott Brown Promote Sin and Cowardice In The Church

“Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.” –Charles Haddon Spurgeon

gossip-frontIn 2007 Scott Brown, Director of the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, preached a sermon entitled, Gossip: The Plague of the Church. This sermon was preached to an audience of several hundred immediately following a conference on building businesses and entrepreneurialship. The audience also included some pastors.

Doug Phillips, President of Vision Forum Ministries, was at that conference and struck a deal with Scott Brown to sell the sermon as an audio CD on the Vision Forum web site.

Jen Fishburne informs me that it was no coincidence that Scott Brown preached this sermon at the time he did. It was at this same time that Doug Phillips was beginning to feel the heat from Jen exposing his ecclesiastical tyrannies and abuses on her blog. Jen had done everything humanly possible to seek reconciliation with Doug, but he sabotaged her every overture. As a last resort she published her story on her blog, not to shame and humiliate him but to publicly expose Doug Phillips as an ecclesiastical tyrant so that others might not fall prey to his abuses.

Jen has been accused many times of being “bitter and unforgiving”, but I know Jen well and I know that the opposite is the case. Her motivation isn’t a hatred for Doug Phillips but a love for the body of Christ.

As a direct result of Jen’s story going public, the home school community was asking questions, and even some members of his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly, were voicing concerns. In desperation Doug Phillips searched for a way of shutting down all inquiries into his abusive practices. The charge of “gossip” was a ready-made excuse for silencing all calls for his accountability and repentance. Scott Brown’s “Gossip” sermon was tailor-made to clamp the lid down hard on any challenges to the tyrannies of a spiritually abusive pastor.

It was Scott Brown’s “Gossip” sermon which launched the No Gossip Rule in the BCA community. By mass-marketing the CD, Vision Forum and the NCFIC have also effectively inculcated the No Gossip Rule within a large portion of NCFIC churches. Doug Phillips and Vision Forum have, likewise, indoctrinated thousands of Christian home school families with the No Gossip Rule. To quote from one of my previous articles:

Doug Phillips has railed against so-called gossipers for years, and gossip is whatever Doug Phillips defines it to be. As Doug Phillips has often said, “He who defines the terms wins”, and the way Doug defines gossip is by equating gossip with a violation of the 9th Commandment. This is quite typical of how Doug Phillips twists and distorts sacred scripture for his personal agenda. To Doug Phillips gossip is anything that anyone says about him, or about his friends, that he doesn’t like. It makes no difference to him whether the things said about him are true and already public information. Say something about Doug Phillips that he likes, even if it’s just complete lies and fabrications (and there have been plenty of his sycophants who have done so to feed his massive ego), but that’s not gossip. But say anything true about Doug that he doesn’t like and it’s not just merely gossip, it’s “wicked gossip” or the “horrific sin of gossip”…

This is one of the most oft-used mind-control tools Doug Phillips has pulled out of his toolbox, and he’s used it to tremendous effect. Doug Phillips injects massive doses of  guilt and shame to prevent anyone from confronting him and holding him accountable, or even so much as reading anyone’s blog where they might find “gossip” about him. What few BCA members and Vision forum employees and interns that have read our articles and posted comments here have inevitably condemned it as, “I see your fruit on this site and it is wicked gossip.”

The fruit of Doug’s “no gossip” rule has created many more non-thinking people than just within the walls of BCA and Vision Forum. That mind-control influence has been spread to thousands of home school families too, and that mind-control prevents thousands from so much as looking at a blog of this nature lest their utopian home school dreamworld be contaminated.

Those indoctrinated in the No Gossip Rule can’t even question it, even in the light of the very Scriptures from which its teachers claim it originates. To my knowledge, the Phillips-Brown No Gossip Rule hasn’t ever been challenged. I intend to not only challenge it here, I intend to dismantle it, and the Code Of Silence that goes with it.

omertaThe Phillips-Brown No Gossip Rule contains a terrifying message. It is the VF/NCFIC equivalent of the Mafia’s Omertà. Omertà means “honor” in Sicilian, but the Mafia perverted the term into a Code Of Silence. The violation of Omertà has frightful retaliatory consequences. The power of the Mafia is real and only a fool would defy it. The power of Scott Brown and Doug Phillips is largely bluff and bluster. The threat of “excommunication” from a cult leader has no impact on the condition of one’s soul, nor does it carry any weight whatsoever with the Lord God. But as P.T. Barnum put it, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Doug Phillips and Scott Brown have effectively created a Christian Cosa Nostra, complete with its Code Of Silence. Doug Phillips is all about drama and theatrics. He loves dress-up and costume parties, so it should surprise no one that he accessorized his Boss image by having VF employees and interns trained as “executive protection” agents. He periodically had them play dress-up as black-suited black-shade wearing armed enforcer goons. In several cases he’s sent his enforcer goons out (very likely at VFM donor expense) to threaten and intimidate people who dared to expose him. In at least two cases that we know of blog owners dramatically altered and removed content from their blogs, or shut them down altogether, as a direct result of those threatening encounters. Those strong-arm tactics have been well concealed and they are known in detail to only the perpetrators, victims, and a few others, like Jen and myself.

Multiple thousands have come under the influence of not only the Phillips-Brown No Gossip Rule, but also the cultish influence they have injected into dozens of other religious sociopathic leaders they have served to inspire within their VF/NCFIC subculture. Brown’s lecture wasn’t preached so much to his own church members, though some were there. He was addressing a larger audience of several hundred. There were pastors in that audience, and Scott Brown had an objective of influencing those pastors to become the same kind of autocratic tyrant that he and Doug Phillips are.

For those who have embraced the No Gossip Rule, violating it could have even worse consequences than what the Mafia imposes. This is because the consequences, as they have been led to believe, could be eternal. As I will demonstrate herein, that threat is a myth based on nothing more than Scott Brown’s clumsy and inept twisting of Scripture.

One thing that is not bluff and bluster, however, is the very real threat of “church discipline” (code word for banishment and shunning) for any who would dare to violate the No Gossip Rule, or challenge it, or challenge any of those other numerous cultish rules endemic in the VF/NCFIC subculture. In Gossip: The Plague of the Church, Scott Brown affirms that gossip warrants a “zero tolerance policy”. According to Scott Brown gossip is the worst and most destructive sin in the church. Gossip is due the harshest possible penalties. Gossip is due only one warning, and two at the most:

“I had a very interesting moment several months ago where I was speaking to a pastor friend of mine at my house and we were talking about the subject of gossip and he told me that in his church he has a zero tolerance policy for gossip, and he said that in his church in Wilmington, North Carolina, no one becomes a member of that church until they hear the sermon on gossip, and he delivers this sermon on gossip every September, and he makes two promises to the people in his church. The first promise is that whenever they come they are going to be taught scripture as best as he can in its context and, secondly, that no one will speak evil of you behind your back, and I was very interested in this policy because I’d never heard anything like that before, and I thought what a great policy and what a great practice in the church, and I said could you send me last year’s sermon, and he did… And he says that gossip is the chief destroyer of the church. And the destruction isn’t to brick and mortar but it’s to the souls of people…(4:20) Here’s what my pastor friend told me in his church. He said, You know Scott in our church if you commit adultery you get four warnings according to Matthew 18. But if you gossip you’re out of here by the first or the second warning. And that’s it. You will not survive in this church after the second warning, and maybe the first” (17:50)

Scott Brown goes on to state his approval for this “zero tolerance” policy, and it’s one that he apparently practices himself. He may be accurately representing his “zero tolerance” pastor friend for the tyrant that he unwittingly portrays him to be. On the other hand Scott Brown may be every bit the duplicitous liar that Doug Phillips proved himself to be when he lied for many years about his “mentor and spiritual father” Pastor Robert Gifford, and that Pastor Gifford allegedly commissioned him to start a church in San Antonio. Either way though, “zero tolerance” has some frightening ramifications.

Yes, we are to confront and discipline sin in the church, but we are to do so per Matthew 18:15-17, and that applies to all sins and all members of the local church, including to pastors, elders and deacons. Scott Brown singles out gossip as being the one sin that is unworthy of any Matthew 18 biblical due process because it is far worse than any other sin. Under Scott Brown’s tyrannical oversight, if gossip happens there’s only one warning, two if you’re lucky. Confession and repentance apparently count for nothing in such a case. You’re put out of the church and you’ll be shunned by all your friends. This sounds like an ironclad guaranteed way to shut everyone up.

Is gossip inherently so much more destructive to the church than other sins that it warrants a zero tolerance policy and immediate expulsion and shunning? Is gossip so horrifically sinful that it qualifies for sanctions that aren’t imposed even in cases of adultery, extortion, drunkenness, and idolatry? Is that really what the Bible teaches? Scott Brown claims as much:

“And so here in Titus 3:10 we read, reject a divisive man after the first or second admonition. I don’t know why this sternness is present here. It’s more stern than the sins that we might regard as even greater sins, like adultery, or like extortion, or like drunkenness, or like idolatry, or like covetousness, or all manner of idolatry. It’s right in the same plane and it’s categorized in the midst of other great evils.” (18:10)

Here Scott Brown makes a subtle and yet significant exegetical and logical error. He conflates terms. This is something he does throughout his lecture, and he does so with practically every verse he quotes. Titus 3:10 uses the term “a divisive man” which he conflates with “a gossip”. If not confronted, gossip in the church does have the potential to cause division. However, it is not gossip that the Apostle Paul is referring to when he speaks of a “divisive man”.  What is a divisive man? Scott Brown doesn’t seem to appreciate the importance of interpreting scripture with scripture. The previous verse (9) clearly defines what a divisive man is by the activities he engages in:

But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law;  (Titus 3:9)

Scott Brown and Doug Phillips claim to be Calvinists, so let’s see what John Calvin has to say of Titus 3:10. In Calvin’s Commentaries he likens the divisive man not to a gossip but to an argumentative, quarreling “heretical man”:

10. Avoid an heretical man. This is properly added; because there will be no end of quarrels and dispute, if we wish to conquer obstinate men by argument; for they will never want words, and they will derive fresh courage from impudence, so that they will never grow weary of fighting. Thus, after having given orders to Titus as to the form of doctrine which he should lay down, he now forbids him to waste much time in debating with heretics, because battle would lead to battle and dispute to dispute. Such is the cunning of Satan, that, by the impudent talkativeness of such men, he entangles good and faithful pastors, so as to draw them away from diligence in teaching. We must therefore beware lest we become engaged in quarrelsome disputes; for we shall never have leisure to devote our labors to the Lord’s flock, and contentious men will never cease to annoy us.

It’s debatable whether Titus 3:10 is even about church discipline at all since “have nothing more to do with him” implies that it is addressing someone outside the local church. If it applied to a member of the local church Paul would likely have said something like, “Rebuke him before the assembly and cast him out of your midst for an example to all”. That would be consistent with another of Paul’s pastoral instructions, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1Tim. 5:20). However, even if it could be reasonably argued that Titus 3:10 is addressing members of the local assembly it clearly only applies to the argumentative, quarreling heretical man, not mere gossips.

After conflating “divisive man” for “gossip”, Scott Brown goes on to say that failing to shun a gossip is sinful:

“Notice the last three passages of Scripture that we read say reject a divisive man, or to avoid them, or to not keep company with them. You might think about that on a practical level. Maybe on two levels. Is it possible that there are people in the body of Christ who are sinning by not avoiding you? They actually continue to relate with you and they should not because of this. Or is it possible that we are relating with and not avoiding those who gossip? These are beautiful and very simple passages of Scripture. They’re not complex. A six year old can understand them.” (18:48)

“A six year old can understand them” is a rather common tactic among intellectually dishonest men like Scott Brown. His message is transparent – “What I’m telling you is so obvious that even my little grandchildren get this. If you don’t get it you’re dumber than a six year old. Don’t even think about questioning me about this.”

Needless to say, any pastor who considers his own twisted interpretations of Scripture to justify his autocratic methods of ruling his church to be “beautiful” is no pastor at all. Like Doug Phillips, Scott Brown is a religious sociological cult leader.

Under the terms of this No Gossip Rule the accused gossiper is confronted with the frightful threat of “discipline”. Discipline in many NCFIC churches is accompanied by the implied threat of banishment (“excommunication”) and shunning. This is precisely what Scott Brown is advocating in the above quote. Banishment and shunning means being cut off from “the community of believers” and being cast out into “the world” where they are “lost”. The shunned are cut off from all their friends, and sometimes even family members, who will no longer so much as speak to or even look at them. They may even lose their job if their employer is a member of the same cult (I’ve seen it happen). They are forever a pariah.

The threat of being shunned is a powerful mind control tactic that keeps members passive and docile. This is precisely the demeanor that cult leaders demand of their followers – unquestioning servile obedience in all things. Obedience to the cult leader is the real standard in a cult, not the Word of God. The Bible itself is not the authority to the cult but, rather, it is what the cult leader interprets the Bible to mean for them. Any dissenting views are subject to immediate and harsh discipline. One cannot dictate efficiently as an autocrat without first silencing opposition, and Scott Brown’s sermon gives the alleged “biblical authority” to put down any and all dissenting views, as well as eliminating any and all accountability of themselves.

One of the indicia of cult leaders is their penchant for blowing minor sins and transgressions completely out of proportion with what the Bible says of them, while also often ignoring major sins (and especially their own sins). The sin of gossip is a perfect example of this. Of gossip Scott Brown says:

“The Lord hates it and He calls it an abomination… If we want to understand this subject we need to understand that God hates it.” (24:55)

Scott Brown makes this bold claim by conflating “gossip” for “sowing discord among the brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19) and completely ignoring the context of the passage of those things listed which God actually does hate. Gossip may be the vehicle through which some discord is sown, but sowing discord is a far more egregious act than mere gossip. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God hates gossip, nor does the Bible call gossip “an abomination”.

Abomination is one of those scary words that cult leaders love to recklessly toss around because “sin” just doesn’t have the punch they’re looking for to justify “disciplining” the alleged perpetrator. Once someone is charged with an “abomination” then all bets are off for any biblical due process.

gossip-backThe back cover of the “Gossip” CD case states:

“Gossip is the great destroyer of families, communities, and local churches. And the Bible has much to say about this form of verbal murder [emp. added]. Now, in this Scripture-saturated message, Scott Brown defines and diagnoses the problem of gossip, unveils the spiritual devastation it leaves behind, and explains the scriptural remedy and the blessings which accompany following God’s commands regarding the use of the tongue.”

Scott Brown’s message includes a number of quoted Scriptures, but it would only qualify as “Scripture-saturated” if the scripture verses he quotes were directly applicable to gossip and not distorted into something not intended by the authors. In his sermon introduction Scott Brown says,

“I’m not actually going to do an exposition of the book of James, but I’m going to give us lots scripture, lots of verses. I’m going to just wear us out with verses here this morning. I almost never do this but I’m going to do it this morning.” (3:30)

The following is the list of verses Scott Brown quotes from, given in the order that he quotes them. I’ve summarized the verses, not according to what Scott Brown claims they say about gossip, but what the verses plainly say for themselves:

  • Matt 5:21-26 “angry with his brother without a cause”, “whosoever shall say, ‘Thou fool’, shall be in danger of hell fire”
  • Ps 15:1-3 backbiting, taking up a reproach against a neighbor
  • Prov 6:16-19 “A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”
  • Prov 26:20-23 talebearer, contentious man, “Burning lips and a wicked heart”
  • Rom 16:17-18 “divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned”
  • 1 Cor 5:11 “do not keep company with… a reviler”
  • Titus 3:10 “avoid a divisive man”
  • James 4:11 “Do not speak evil of one another”
  • 1 Pet 3:8-12 “Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit”
  • 3 John 9-10 “Diotrephes… prating against us with malicious words”
  • Prov 17:4 “An evildoer gives heed to false lips; A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.”

While we should all take heed of these admonitions, none of these verses have much if anything to do with the act of gossiping. Rather, they are about slander, lying, speaking deceitfully, backbiting, reviling, sowing discord among brethren, contentiousness, and listening to and giving credence to lies and liars. Yes, all of these things can be conveyed by means of gossip. But gossip can also occur without any of those other sins being perpetrated.

Scott Brown’s method of expositing Scripture is little different from throwing a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs at the wall and hoping something will stick. His exegetical skills really are that much of a mess. He twists and contorts Scripture, as well as the definitions of the terms used therein, while conflating one term for another, all to arrive at a predetermined outcome. Deception is always rooted in truth, or at least a half-truth because blatant lies would never have any chance of deceiving anyone but the most gullible. As such Scott Brown starts off his lecture by giving a half-truth:

“So I’d like to define gossip here a little bit with scripture. The terms gossip and slander occur around 56 times in Bible, and they’re often used interchangeably”. (7:10)

As Doug Phillips has stated many times, “He who defines the terms wins.” Scott Brown and Doug Phillips have defined gossip as slander and slander as gossip, when in point of fact they are distinctly different from one another. Slander and gossip are not “interchangeable” as Scott Brown claims, whether it be in the Bible, or anywhere else. If “gossip” were “interchangeable with slander”, as Scott Brown asserts, it would have to be, like slander, a violation of the 9th Commandment in all cases. Certainly gossip can be the means of facilitating these things, but gossip is not, of its own accord, a violation of the 9th Commandment. Gossip is, quite often, completely truthful, whereas slander is always lies, fabrications, and/or half-truths.

To conflate “slander” for “gossip” Scott Brown very early in his lecture uses a specific Bible version that he believes aids him in this error, the 1995 edition of the NASB. The editors of the NASB state: “Version Information – While preserving the literal accuracy of the 1901 ASV, the NASB has sought to render grammar and terminology in contemporary English.” While a modern English rendering may be beneficial to the casual reader, it’s hardly the basis for sound hermeneutics. In order to make his case that gossip = slander,  Scott Brown quotes Proverbs 20:19 (at 7:30) from the NASB:

He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip.

The naive may suppose that Solomon himself is conflating slander for gossip. Wisdom literature, such as we see in the Proverbs, is often poetic, and often delivered in one sentence segments where the second part of the line may serve to contrast the first part or, as in this case, it may serve to reinforce the first part (see Prov 10:1 – 22:16 & 25:1 – 29:27). In all cases it is still a poetic literary form. We get into deep weeds quickly when we take poetical literature too literally by attempting to augur intention that isn’t there; and in the same way we also get into trouble by taking biblical parables too literally. It’s called “wisdom literature” for a good reason – not only may it impart wisdom to those who can receive it, it may also require a modicum of wisdom, or at least a bit of common sense, to properly understand it in the first place.

In no way does Solomon seek to make slander “interchangeable” with gossip. Scott Brown himself probably knows better. If not then he is a remarkably ignorant Bible teacher. Doug Phillips’ favorite Bible commentator is John Gill. Ironically enough John Gills says of Proverbs 20:19:

“It may be applied to false teachers, and their deceptions with good words and fair speeches; the word used signifies to deceive with the lips; see Romans 16:18”.

Nevertheless, this NASB rendering of Proverbs 20:19, or rather Scott Brown’s conflated interpretation of this rendering, forms the very foundation from which Scott Brown then proceeds to base his entire No Gossip Rule.

“So maybe we could define gossip like this: A person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts, a rumor or a report of an intimate nature… But basically speaking negatively about another person without that person being present is gossip.” (9:05)

Here Scott Brown finally uses a reasonably honest definition for “gossip”. Yet he has already corrupted that definition by claiming that the terms “gossip” and “slander” are “interchangeable” when they are not. This is typical of what he does throughout his duplicitous sermon. Since Scott Brown has defined gossip as slander, he then must go on to define “slander”:

“So here’s a definition of slander: The utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation. A false and defamatory oral statement about another person. And this term in Hebrew would be translated typically with the word talebearer and in Greek becomes the word blaspheme or to speak against us.” (10:12)

Scott Brown offers up a reasonably accurate definition for slander, at least up until, like his definition for “gossip”, he conflates slander for “talebearer”. Yes, a slanderer is also a talebearer, but not all talebearers are slanderers. If Scott Brown were capable of an honest definition he would have equated the modern “gossip” for the biblical “talebearer”. I’d like to be able to say that Brown and Phillips are only ignorant Bible teachers; but knowing their character as I do I can’t chalk this up to mere ignorance. This is all quite deliberate on their part. They are guilty of conflating gossip with slander for a specific agenda – to silence any and all opposition to their abuses of authority. This Code Of Silence prevents anyone from holding them accountable.

In seeking out actual dictionary definitions, I purposefully quote here from Doug Phillips’ favorite dictionary, the Webster’s 1828. Of this dictionary Doug Phillips says: “When Noah Webster first published this book, he understood that whoever defined the words of a culture would capture that culture”:

GOS’SIP, noun

1. A sponsor; one who answers for a child in baptism; a godfather.

2. A tippling companion.

And sometimes lurk I in a gossip’s bowl.

3. One who runs from house to house, tattling and telling news; an idle tattler. [This is the sense in which the word is now used.]

4. A friend or neighbor.

5. Mere tattle; idle talk.

GOS’SIP, verb intransitive To prate; to chat; to talk much.

1. To be a pot-companion.

2. To run about and tattle; to tell idle tales.

BACK’BITE, verb transitive [back and bite] To censure, slander, reproach, or speak evil of the absent. Proverbs 25:1.

SLA’NDER, noun

1. A false tale or report maliciously uttered. and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing min to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing his means of lining; defamation. slander that worst of poisons, ever finds an easy entrance to ignoble minds.

2 Disgrace; reproach; disreputation; ill name.

SLA’NDER, verb transitive To defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting one; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.

It’s interesting to note that “gossip” originally had a positive meaning, but over time it was corrupted to the point where today it is pejorative. The term “gossip” has changed a great deal over time. That is not the case for the biblical terms “slander” and “backbite” whose meanings have remained reasonably fixed throughout history. “Gossip” only came to be used in its disparaging form in relatively recent history. As such “gossip” appears not a single time in the King James Version (1611) or the Geneva Bible Translation (1599). The Geneva Bible happens to be the preferred translation of Doug Phillips and many others in VF/NCFIC circles. The ESV, which is highly acclaimed by Bible scholars, includes “gossip” only twice (Ez 36:3 & 2Chron 12:20). This isn’t much to go on to build an entire doctrine out of.

If Scott Brown and Doug Phillips were honest they would only use the terms “slander” and “backbiting” instead of “interchangeably” substituting the completely separate and distinct term “gossip”.

For those of us who have been on the receiving end of slander (and I’m no stranger to that myself), it indeed can be the murder of one’s reputation – “character assassination”. Through lies, fabrications and half-truths the slanderer with malicious intent sets about to cause severe damage and harm, and to divide friend from friend. Slander and backbiting are expressly condemned in scripture, not only for the harm they cause, but also because they are in direct violation of the 9th Commandment.

3-monkeysScott Brown makes a case for speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil, and he equates the see no evil and hear no evil with sins that will “mar” the hearer permanently. Therefore, one must do everything possibly to avoid so much as even accidentally overhearing gossip, lest it corrupt and defile them:

“Once you hear gossip you’re marred. You are marred. That tasty trifle goes down to the inmost parts and you are never the same again. One little word and you’re never the same again regarding that person. It’s tragic. If you’ve ever listened to gossip then you just need to know that you’ve been defiled. Because it has gone down. It’s gone down, deep down into the inmost parts and it’s a danger to you.” (27:33)

“You’ve been defiled.” How terribly frightening! Fear of alleged “defilement” is a common tactic used by performance-based religious cult leaders to control their followers. Scott Brown then reinforces the policy of cutting off and shunning anyone who would dare to ever gossip:

“Note and avoid a gossip, and there are a number of passages of scripture that make this clear. Romans 16:27-18, 1Corinthians 5:11, and Titus 3:10 all say this. Let’s just sort of get some detail on this. Romans says to note such a one. Romans 16. Titus 3 says warn a gossip once and then twice. Titus 3 says reject a factious man. And in Romans 16 avoid, and 1Corinthians 5 do not keep company with. And then it gets even worse do not even eat with such a one in 1Corinthians 5. Well there’s just much evidence for the importance of avoidance and isolation of this sin. We’re not used to doing that, are we? It’s counter-intuitive to us. We don’t want to do this. But yet we have these very stern and clear warnings from scripture.” (28:10)

Scott Brown speaks “of how gossip is often disguised” as a prayer request, seeking counsel, or bearing one another’s burdens (21:50). True enough, this can happen. In a healthy church of compassionate believers it’s far less likely to happen than in an unhealthy dysfunctional church. Rather than addressing the problem in a biblical way, Scott Brown recommends the elimination altogether of prayer requests, seeking counsel, and bearing one another’s burdens:

“On the speaking side of the coin, first of all keep quiet. Zip it. Just zip the tongue. Remember what your mom used to say? It’s as simple as momma. Momma got it right, didn’t she? If you can’t say anything nice just don’t say it. Don’t share your pain. We live in a culture which teaches us to just share any old thing coming out of our black old heart. Well this isn’t the counsel of the Lord. This is the counsel of a wicked culture saturated in ungodly psychological principles. Don’t make your prayer requests. Have you ever heard of silent personal prayer? Do you have to bring everybody in the world in to prayer for a brother who might be having trouble?  Couldn’t you just labor in your closet for him instead of speaking evil of him in the midst of it?” (33:10)

Is this what Scripture actually teaches? Is making a prayer request for a friend or loved one really gossip? Is coming to the pastor for counseling in, say, an abusive marriage, really gossip? What of “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”? (Gal 6:2). In Scott Brown’s church it appears that everyone is required to just stuff it and suffer in silence. Certainly that has also been the experience for members of Boerne Christian Assembly.

Scott Brown’s teaching on gossip is a gross misrepresentation of Scripture. It calls into question whether he is capable of honestly expositing any biblical topic or passage at all. Rather than guiding Christians out of sin, Scott Brown is actually teaching people to sin. In other words, the cure is worse than the disease. Many of Scott Brown and Doug Phillips’ followers have falsely assumed that obeying the No Gossip Rule will keep them out of sinful behavior in the church when just the opposite is the case.

A wooden compliance with the No Gossip Rule ignores the command of Jesus to “judge with righteous judgement” (John 7:24). Christians aren’t to live with their heads buried in the sand, ignoring sin in their midst. Gossip is hardly the only sin in the church, nor is gossip the “abomination” that Scott Brown makes it out to be, or the “horrific sin” that Doug Phillips makes it out to be. By complying with the No Gossip Rule one would, of necessity, not be able to do a number of  things required in Scripture:

  • Mat 18:15-17 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
    If only I am aware of a grievous sin in a brother’s life, how am I to obey this scripture and still comply with the No Gossip Rule? I can confront that brother privately about his sin, but what if he doesn’t repent? According to the No Gossip Rule I have to keep that brother’s sin a secret, thereby making myself complicit in his sin.
  • 1Tim. 5:19-20 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
    How am I to accuse an elder of sin when I’m not even permitted to speak with and identity any other witnesses for fear that I will be charged with “gossip”?
  • Gal 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
    How is one to obey this scripture in light of the No Gossip Rule? Also, how do we allow the brethren to fulfill the law of Christ (which is love) if no one ever shares their needs and can only “zip it”?
  • 1Cor. 5:11-13 “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
    This is one of the passages Scott Brown lifted out of context. What if I know that a man is sexually immoral and that man is my own pastor (such as Doug Phillips)? What if that man is also my employer because I work for Vision Forum? What if because I work for Vision Forum I also know the same man is covetous and an extortioner? I could try Matt 18:15, but I already know that everyone else who’s tried it before was fired, put under church discipline, and everyone was ordered to shun them for the rest of their lives. Maybe I could go to the elders of my church? No, that can’t work because they’re all just hand-picked stooges of the pastor. So how do I obey scripture and not violate the No Gossip Rule?

“Bearing one another’s burdens” may require listening patiently to a wounded brother or sister’s tragic story, not judging them over it, or fearing that we’ll somehow be “marred” by it. Requiring that Christians suffer in silence isn’t love but hate.

“Speaking the truth in love” sometimes means having to confront sin (as defined by the Word of God, not some twisted cult leader’s interpretation). The Code Of Silence implicit in the No Gossip Rule just creates a whole new level of sins far worse than the problem of gossip.

It’s been said that, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” How true. Doug Phillips through Vision Forum has marketed the image of inspiring “biblical manliness”. The reality is, however, that Doug Phillips has created hundreds, and perhaps thousands of cowardly men who remain silent in the face of terrible sin. Nothing could more clearly prove this point than the dozen years he spent cheating on his wife. Multiple men knew about it and said nothing and did nothing. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. That’s not manliness. That’s cowardice.

The No Gossip Rule that has been so successfully promoted by Scott Brown and Doug Phillips has had precisely the effect they intended – it’s shut everybody up. There has been much sin in the camp for years; but rather than confronting it to purify the church, sin is concealed. That Code Of Silence is a sure-fire recipe for concealing sin, when scripture commands that we expose sin and purge it from our midst:

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph. 5:11)

Ever since the public revelation of Doug Phillips’ clergy sexual abuse Scott Brown has sought to distance himself from Doug Phillips. In a sermon Scott Brown gave immediately after Doug Phillips’ resignation Brown even referred to Phillips as an “apostate”. Yet it is by Scott Brown’s No Gossip Rule that he empowered Doug Phillips to get away with his apostasy for so many years, and those sins are far worse, and far more extensive, than have come to public light so far.

Until Scott Brown’s teaching on gossip is eradicated from all Vision Forum and NCFIC spheres of influence there will be more scandals and abuses of power that occur within those churches.

Like Doug Phillips, Scott Brown is a Pharisee and a hypocrite. We should all heed Jesus’ warning, and Scott Brown and Doug Phillips should take special note of it:

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.” (Luke 12:1-2)


January 17:

One of our regular commenters here, who wishes to remain anonymous, emailed me an article that she wrote on gossip. It’s an insightful article and provides some practical guidelines for knowing what gossip is and what gossip isn’t. I believe her article complements my own and addresses several key areas that I have not. I hope everyone will also read it. I have her permission to share it here: Is it Gossip or Speaking the Truth in Love?

How I Became a Two-Fold Son of Hell

And How God Bestowed His Grace Upon a Pharisee Like Me

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matt. 23:15

The word “Pharisee” means one who is separated for a life of purity. Oh, that described my intentions to the fullest as a believer. I wanted to be pure and holy. The Pharisees probably began with pure motives and good intentions. They so desired to please God. They wanted to love God with all their heart. They wanted to obey Him in everything they did. But even though the Law of Moses was rather stringent, there were still many areas of freedom, such as what it meant not to do any work on the Sabbath. So the Pharisees began to add to the Law, to make it even stricter than what God had intended, even going so far as to prescribe where one could spit on the Sabbath, for example: It was fine to spit on a rock because the spittle just sat there, but if you spat on the dirt, the dirt had to absorb the liquid, so that was considered work. Oh, we look at that now and laugh, but do we do the same things in our desire to be pure and holy? I know I do.

When we are truly sold out for Christ, it is a wonderful thing. It is a goal worth obtaining to be everything that God wants us to be. But in so doing, sometimes we lose our first love. Sometimes the pursuit of holiness begins to take precedence over our relationship with Christ. Sometimes the rules begin to rule in our own hearts. Sometimes we forget the grace of God toward us while we were yet sinners and we “work” to please the Lord. We don’t even realize it is “work.” We think that we are pleasing the Lord by living a life of holiness and obedience to him. And we may be. If our motives are right.

When we see a pattern or principle in Scripture, that can be a good thing, if we understand how to properly use it. There is much to be learned from these biblical principles. But there is a world of difference between using a biblical principle as a guide and using the principle to define sin. Some Christians have falsely elevated principles in Scripture to make them the equivalent of commands. When we see a principle in Scripture, I think it is intended to help us make wise decisions. Often people will call them guiding principles, and that they should be. They should be there to guide us in life, but they are not there as a rule of law for us. We get into trouble when we elevate even Scripturally-based guiding principles into a rule of law for our life.

When we discover principles in Scripture, we make our own preferences in life based upon these principles. After a while of living out these preferences, they may start to become convictions for us. After having our own convictions for a while, they can then be falsely elevated into convictions that we put upon others, often without ever meaning to do so. When we expect others to follow these same convictions, we elevate what started out as merely a guiding principle for life to the status of a command or law for us. To violate this “law” now becomes a sin. Sometimes these violations are even then elevated to the level of being an excommunicable offense. How did we get from a basic guiding biblical principle all the way to an excommunicable offense? I saw this happen in my own life.

These last few months were excruciatingly painful for me as I realized what I had bought into all these years. Until very recently, I was bound by legalism, but I didn’t know it. I have just recently had many “convictions” stripped away from me as I saw that God does not give us explicit commands in His Word regarding these areas. I am not advocating antinomianism in any way whatsoever; we are under the Law of Christ, and as such, there are plenty of commands for us to obey. We just need to be very cautious not to elevate principles to the place of a direct command.

Having been a part of the Patriarchy movement for seven years, even after our excommunication, I was surprised when some here started challenging this movement. These were not egalitarians or feminists, and they appeared to believe in biblical roles, so I didn’t understand what they had against patriarchy. I was suddenly faced with the realization that Patriarchy may not be as biblical as I’d always believed it to be. I loved the lifestyle of Patriarchy, in spite of my story.

When I first set about to write about patriarchy, my thoughts were that I would start by listing everything in patriarchy that I found to be biblical. The second part of that series was going to focus on what seemed to be hyper-patriarchy, or extra-biblical. As I read through the “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy,” I thought that, overall, they sounded fine. There were a few minor areas of concern, however, so I decided to look up those verses to see why that tenet was stated in that particular way. Expecting to find biblical language being used in the tenets, I was surprised to find that the first few Scriptures I looked up did not provide the biblical support I anticipated. As I looked into the Scriptural support further and further, I began to see a pattern emerge, a pattern of tenets without the requisite biblical support. Still, I reasoned to myself, these tenets aren’t really that bad in and of themselves. They just need a little more Scriptural support. Even after writing out all the lack of biblical basis found in the “Tenets,” I was blind to what it all meant.

I believe these tenets were originally written in 2001, which was a time when I found Patriarchy to be much more loving and not nearly as extreme as it is currently. While I am sure that many patriarchists still believe these Tenets as written, how they play out in real life has become a huge concern to me.

When it comes to God’s Word, truth is all important. I am sold out for the truth of God’s Word, even if it means that I have to make changes in life in order to line up with the truth of God’s Word. We naturally gravitate toward positions that favor our personal inclinations. Sometimes we do so without searching the Scriptures for ourselves. But a diligent search for the truth of God’s Word demands that we be willing to let God rip away our emotional attachments.

When we first attended a patriarchy church, I was attracted to the like-mindedness of the other families there. I had always had a strong desire to live in a Christian community with other people who believed the same things I did, who lived a similar lifestyle, and who worked and lived and fellowshipped together on a regular basis. I wanted more, so much more, than what a normal church has to offer. I wanted that New Testament church where they had all things in common, where they broke bread together daily, where they met together in homes to study and fellowship. I wanted to be with people who believed in following the roles for men and women that God laid out for us in His Word. I desired to be with families who wanted to stay together as a family and weren’t separated every time we walked through the doors of a church. I really wanted to meet other families who believed in a reasonable amount of training and discipline for their children, so that children are a pleasure to be around, and not terrors.

I also crave structure. I’d been in churches where they just “let the Holy Spirit lead,” and we never knew what was going to happen from week to week. That was too touchy-feely for me and I created my own boundaries instead. Although I don’t need liturgies, I enjoy a highly-structured format to the service. I like predictability. I thrived under the discipline of military life and was drawn to memorizing all the rules and regulations. I carried that desire over into real life as well, feeling safe inside my man-made boundaries. As long as I could see a solid reason for them, I was willing to submit to all kinds of rules, and delighted in having that same kind of structure at home. I never felt I was too extreme in all this, as I didn’t lay out a schedule for every adult and child in my family for every fifteen minutes of the day, as did some of my friends. But I still advocated basic time management.

So I didn’t know anything about Patriarchy when we first started attending this church, but I was so desperate for a “godly” church that I was willing to follow just about any set of rules in order to be a part of one. In fact, had we not gone here, I was ready to go to the Mennonite church the following week. I told my daughter that I was willing to give up my wardrobe of normal clothes and wear plain, drab dresses, no make-up or jewelry, and I would even wear a head-covering, if I could just find a godly church. When the elders started preaching on different aspects of Patriarchy and these different tenets would come up in everyday conversation, I thought this was what was necessary in order to be holy. I had previously thought that maybe I was the only person in the world who was concerned with holiness, but once I started attending this patriarchy church, I realized that I didn’t even begin to meet their standards of holiness. I arrived there full of pride at my own holiness, but I soon had that pride dashed, as I suddenly felt myself fall to the bottom of the barrel, spiritually, in comparison to these other godly families there.

I worked real hard to make the necessary changes to fit in. I wasn’t about to change just to fit in, though, so I set about to pray and asked God to reveal to me all the sin in my life. My husband did the same. Together, we began to listen to dozens of sermons by various speakers about this new kind of lifestyle. After each tape, we would discuss the message as a family, evaluating whether it lined up with Scripture or not. If we agreed that it was biblical, we would cry and repent and make major changes in our family. Looking back now, I can see that nearly all these messages were based on biblical principles, often taken out of context, rather than on direct commands of Scripture. We listened to most of these on a 6,000 mile cross-country trip, so we sometimes listened to three or four sermons a day. That meant three or four major changes in our family a day. That was pure hell for our thirteen year old daughter and she hated all the changes, but she eventually just got used to them, since everyone else at church lived the same lifestyle. So, it wasn’t too long before we were on par with the rest of the families at church regarding Patriarchy or, at least, as much as we could figure out without having it demonstrated to us. I did have some concerns about the level of submission that was taught and the emphasis on not allowing girls to attend college and some of the extremes for the women, such as not being allowed to introduce my own parents at church, but for the most part, they were small differences that I could live with. Or so I thought.

Years later, I told my story. And I was still dedicated to Patriarchy. In fact, I said as much in many of my comments here. I wasn’t even ready to give it up when I posted that series of three articles exposing how extra-biblical “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” really are. But God was ready for me to nail that coffin shut on that part of my life, so I believe that He led Corrie to post some articles here by Jonathan Lindvall. I said I didn’t want any off-topic comments on the “Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” exposés, so I had some complaints about letting those comments stand. But as I read through those comments by Jonathan Lindvall, I suddenly realized that while the words on “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” sounded polished and full of vision, what Jonathan Lindvall was talking about was what my real life was like in Patriarchy. That hit me like a ton of bricks and I was forced to examine the fruit of Patriarchy in my life.

But something really significant happened along the way, something that made me willing to examine Patriarchy. The more I think about this particular experience in my life, the more I am able to empathize with those who are still caught up in Patriarchy, especially hyper-Patriarchy, and the more I understand why they just don’t see what we are talking about. As I share a really personal part of my heart with you now, I hope that this will help us to be able to pray for those who are still blinded to extra-biblical teachings of hyper-patriarchy.

As many of you know, Mike is my Bible study teacher. But we did not get off to a very good start last March when I argued incessantly with him about the definition of the words “observe” and “keep.” I don’t know why Mike gave me a second chance, but he began to systematically teach me about the Law of Moses in the Bible. I didn’t get it. I liked being under the Law, all the while insisting that I wasn’t actually under the Law, but was merely following the Law. We spent hours and hours and hours going through Galatians, but I just didn’t understand what Mike was trying to say. At one point, in exasperation, I said, “Do you know how many times I’ve read Galatians in the last several days?” Mike merely responded, “Not enough,” so we went back to the drawing board. I averaged 8-12 hours of Bible study a day for weeks, trying to find the truth. I knew my position was wrong by this point, but I wasn’t ready to concede. I had to be convinced of the truth; I had to see it for myself. So we studied many, many passages on the Law. And I still didn’t get it.

I woke up on March 25 this year at 3 in the morning with two words racing through my mind: authority and jurisdiction. All of a sudden, I realized that the Law has no authority over me because I am not under its jurisdiction. (I realize that this is a very simplified version of hundreds of pages of teaching. Mike also taught me later which law I am under.) Mike had been saying that all along, but my mind was blinded. As Mike encouraged me to go back over all the previous lessons again, I suddenly realized that I understood them all clearly. They were as obvious now as the nose on my face. What changed? Why did those two words keep my stomach in knots for weeks? Why did this Bible study consume my whole life? Why was I so driven to study about the Law of Moses, of all things?

I didn’t understand why then, but as I recently studied II Corinthians 3 again, a passage that Mike taught me in great detail previously, I saw something that explained the radical change in my life from that day I woke up shouting “Authority! Jurisdiction!” This passage is talking about the veil that Moses wore over his face, even as the glory was passing away, the glory that came from the Old Covenant, also called the ministry of death or the ministry of condemnation. Then it talks about how much more glorious the New Covenant is. Now look at verses 14-16:

But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

When I saw this two weeks ago, I noticed something new to me. Both thoughts are repeated twice, which gives meaning to the context. Before we look at that, though, we need to understand what the veil does. Verse 14 states that their minds were blinded and then goes on to show why. The veil over the heart represents a blind mind, one that cannot understand the Scriptures. The first idea expressed here is “the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament” and “when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.” Obviously God is not telling us that just reading the Old Testament causes a veil to remain unlifted. That wouldn’t make sense. The second part tells us that it is specifically when Moses, or the Law of Moses, is read. But does reading the Old Testament or even the Law of Moses cause a veil to be over our hearts? Let’s look at the other thought here to find out. Now we see that “the veil is taken away in Christ” and “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” When we turn to the Lord, when we are in Christ, the veil is taken away and our minds are no longer blind. Would it mean that when we became a Christian that we would still have a veil over our heart when we read the Law of Moses? No. Of course not. So, it seems to me that since the whole chapter is talking about comparing and contrasting the Old Covenant, that ministry of death and condemnation, with the New Covenant, the ministry of the Spirit and of righteousness, that that contrast is continued in these verses. When we turn to Christ, we are under the New Covenant; we are no longer under the Old Covenant. The veil of the Old Covenant is taken away in Christ. The veil of the ministry of death and condemnation is lifted when one turns to the Lord of the New Covenant.

So what am I saying? I now know that I lived under the Law of Moses. I tried to keep that Law. Even though that Law had no authority over me, no jurisdiction over me, I wanted to obey that Law of Moses anyway. I put myself under the Law of Moses and that is what this passage is referring to when it says “when Moses is read.” And so my mind was blinded. I could not understand the Scriptures. I thought I understood them, but Mike kept assuring me that I did not. And then, all of a sudden, that veil was lifted and my mind was no longer blind. I could see! I could understand! When? When I turned to the Lord. The passage tells us that the veil is lifted when we turn to the Lord, that our minds are no longer blind when we are in Christ.

Was I truly saved before that day? Maybe. Maybe not. I thought I was. I loved God with all my heart and I desired to please him. But I know of another Pharisee who loved God with all his heart and desired to obey God also — Saul, before he became Paul. And after his conversion, it was as if scales fell from his eyes and his mind was no longer blinded. He, too, was living under that old Law, the ministry of death and condemnation.

Legalism brings a lot of condemnation. Legalism is adding to what God has told us to do. Legalism places heavy burdens on us that God never intended us to carry. Legalism is the burden of the Pharisees. Just as Saul was a Pharisee before he came to Christ, so I was a Pharisee. The verse I began with in this article says that Pharisees make their converts into two-fold sons of hell. That simply means that the new Pharisees are twice as fit for judgment as those who taught them to be so legalistic. Why am I so dedicated to exposing extra-biblical Patriarchy? Because I am concerned about all the two-fold sons of hell that are being converted along the way. And sometimes, when we overcome particular sins of our past, we become zealous with a zeal against what we ourselves were bound up in. I was bound up in Patriarchy and I was bound up in legalism, and now God is birthing a zealousness in me to help free those who are bound, but don’t even realize it. I don’t have all the answers for those who are in bondage, but I’m willing to share what I know so far. Liberty is too sweet to keep it all to myself!

Vision Forum: The Biblical Picture of a Virtuous Woman Is Against a Woman Holding Civil Office

Part III:

In Proverbs 31:10-31, we are given the biblical picture of a woman who fears God and walks in His ways. The passage begins with a question: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” The question implies that such a woman is rare and precious, just like rubies. The description of the virtuous woman shows her to be an industrious, loving woman who devotes herself to the well-being of her husband and children. The center of her interest and the place of her ministry are in her home. God has called her to be “a keeper at home” (Titus 2:5), and she willingly and joyfully fulfills her calling to the great blessing of all who depend on her piety, wisdom, and homemaking skills.

Of great importance to the issue before us in this essay, are these words concerning her husband: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land” (Prov. 31:23). The “gates” in Old Testament times referred to the place where the leaders of the city (i.e., “the elders of the land”) would gather to discuss community affairs, administer civil law, and judge in criminal and civil cases. The “gates,” therefore, is a reference to the “city hall,” the “capital building,” the “courthouse” or, in short, to the seat of civil government. The key for us is to note that, in the case of the virtuous woman, it is her husband who is active in the gates; the virtuous woman is not herself seated in the gates — she is active in her home. This should not surprise us, for the order of creation and the law of God establish the fact that men are to bear rule in civil government. The virtuous woman understands this, and takes the vital place that God has assigned her in the home and with her family; she does not try to intrude herself into a seat in the gates. However, we need to note that the virtuous woman’s works are to praised in the gates (Prov. 31:31). Her works are not in the gates, but they are to be praised in the gates; that is, those who are leaders in the community ought to recognize the great work that she is doing in support of the community by faithfully fulfilling her duties as a wife and mother (1 Tim. 2:15; 5:10, 14; Titus 2:3-5). This is her glorious work for the Lord and His kingdom. It is of the utmost importance!

Furthermore, it should be recognized that the virtuous woman does make her presence felt in community concerns. But it is through the influence that she has on her husband (and mature sons) that her wisdom and knowledge will help to direct the affairs of the community. Yes, it is her husband who sits in the gates, but his renown and ability as a civil leader is due, at least in part (if not largely), to her help and support. Yes, it is the husband who speaks and judges in the gates, but it is his wise and godly wife who is his chief counselor.

Let no one speak lightly or disparagingly of the woman’s appointed role and her service to Christ and His kingdom! And let no woman set aside the example of the virtuous woman and seek to sit in the gates with the rulers of the land. And let no Christian have any part in putting her there.

Vision Forum: The Biblical Qualifications for Civil Office Require Civil Leaders to Be Men

Part II of the same article by Bill Einwechter:

Every time the Scripture speaks to the subject of the necessary qualifications for those who will bear rule in the civil sphere, it always speaks in terms of men and never in terms of women. This is significant, and based on point number 1 above, it is not hard to understand. The consistent assumption of Scripture is that men are to be the civil magistrates; and, as we have seen, this is not based on culture but upon the created order. Since God is both Creator and Lawgiver there is never any contradiction between the created order and the law of God. And as creation establishes the headship of man in the civil sphere by means of man being created first and the woman being created for man, so the law of God sets the headship of man in the civil sphere by means of the stated qualifications for civil rulers. God set forth the essential qualifications for civil magistrates for all people and for all time when He spoke through Jethro to Moses: “Moreover, thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers…” (Ex. 18:21; emphasis added). And Moses himself said to the people as they were about to choose their civil magistrates, “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you” (Deut. 1:13; emphasis added). Importantly, the word for “men” chosen by the Holy Spirit in both of these texts is the Hebrew, gender specific word for a man, i.e., a male as opposed to a female.

Furthermore, the directions that God gives concerning the establishment of a king in Israel requires that a man, and not a woman, be chosen (Deut. 17:14-20). The king was to be a “brother,” and he was not to “multiply wives to himself.” Clearly, a man is in view here. The law of God commands us, therefore, to choose men to be our rulers! Likewise, in every other passage of Scripture dealing with the civil magistrate and his qualifications and duties, men are in view (2 Sam. 23:3; Neh. 7:2; Prov. 16:10; 20:8, 28; 29:14; 31:4-5; Rom. 13:1-6; etc.). Therefore, the standard of God’s law that men be our civil rulers upholds the order of creation. God has spoken to us in His Word, and there He commands us to set men, not women, into positions of civil authority. To consider these texts (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 1:13; 17:14-20) irrelevant in regards to what they say about setting men in civil office, would logically require us to consider the other qualifications listed as being of no account as well. The rejection of these Scriptures would leave us with no biblical standard for citizens in choosing their rulers. This may suit some, but for those who are the disciples of Jesus Christ and love the law of God, such a position is abhorrent.

Vision Forum: The Headship of Man Disqualifies a Woman for Civil Office

Taken from this article by Bill Einwechter from Vision Forum Ministries:

The scriptural revelation of the creation of man and woman, and the scriptural commentary on their creation establishes the headship of the man over the woman. The text of Genesis 2:7 and 2:18-24 teaches us that man was made first, and then the woman was made to be man’s helper and companion. The Bible instructs us that this order of creation was by God’s design, and that it establishes the positional priority of the man over the woman in regards to authority and leadership. In setting forth the authority of the man over the woman in the context of the local church, Paul appeals to the creation order saying, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13). In another passage, Paul states the divinely ordained order of authority and headship: “But I would have you to know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). Therefore, the Apostle Paul teaches that God has decreed that the order of authority be as follows: God-Christ-Man-Woman. Each one in this “chain of command” is under the headship (i.e., authority) of the one preceding him or her. Later on in this same text, Paul, as in 1 Timothy 2, calls upon the order of creation to show man’s headship over the woman. He says, “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man” (1 Cor. 11:8-9). The Bible explicitly states that the man has headship over the woman, and that this headship is not based on cultural factors, or even the fall; rather, it is based on the created order established by God Himself.

Now it is also plain in the Bible that God has ordained that the order of the headship of man must be maintained in each governing institution set up by God. There are three primary institutions established by the Lord for the ordering of human affairs. These are the family, the church, and the state. Each of these institutions has authority to govern within its appointed sphere. We could say, then, that there are three “governments” in the world: family government, church government, and state government. In each of these governments, God has commanded that men bear rule. The man has headship in the family (Eph. 5:22-24), the church (1 Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 14:34-35), and also by implication and command, in the state as well (1 Cor. 11:3; Ex. 18:21; see point 2 below).

Could it be that the man has headship only in the family and the church but not in the state? No, this could not be, lest you make God the author of confusion, and have Him violate in the state the very order He established at creation and has revealed in Holy Scripture! If one is going to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the civil sphere, then to be consistent, he or she also needs to argue for the acceptability of women bearing rule in the family and the church. Now it is true that some attempt to do just that; but their denial of male headship for the family, church, and state is really a rejection of the Word of God and is a repudiation of God’s created order. And it is not sufficient to contend that it is acceptable to support a woman for civil ruler when she is the best candidate, unless you are also prepared to argue that it is acceptable to advocate a woman for the office of elder because she is better suited than the available men in the church; and unless you are also prepared to say that the wife should rule over her husband if she is better equipped to lead than her husband is.

Vision Forum: God Does Not Allow Women to Vote

Lynn brought this up in a comment and I wanted to show the entire context of this statement on the Vision Forum website that “God does not allow women to vote.”

Until the twentieth century, Americans almost universally held to this doctrine of representation in some form or the other. The reason why women were not allowed to vote had nothing to do with women being considered “inferior” or “too emotional” (these values arose during the Victorian era and were themselves theologically and socially deviant) but rather because the husband and father was ASSUMED to represent the family to the broader community. By definition, there could only be ONE representative of the family just as there could only be ONE representative of the Human Race to God!

However, by the end of the 19th century, American Christians had largely stopped thinking in theological terms. Instead, an emotive, subjective religious “experience” (called Pietism”) emphasizing individual conversion replaced the comprehensive Christian worldview of the Reformation. As Christians failed to think biblically about all of life, they were unable to withstand either the new philosophies gaining ground in the universities or deal effectively with the changing social conditions of the Industrial Revolution. By the 20th century, American Christians saw the “height” of Christian activism as banning alcohol while at the same time affirming a woman’s right to vote. Both ideas were unmitigated disasters; God has not allowed the civil magistrate to outlaw wine and God does not allow women to vote (cf. 1 Tim 2:11ff). But by ignoring God’s law, American Christians both destroyed their own credibility (the Prohibition era is STILL a matter of public ridicule and repealing prohibition set the legal precedence for pornography, sodomy and the acceptance of other moral failures) and the integrity of own families.

In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating divisions WITHIN the family.

Doug Phillips Twists Scripture to Fit Jamestown Agenda

Hutch had this great idea! The following contest, sponsored by Vision Forum through Homeschooling Today Magazine, was posted on Doug’s blog today. See if you can spot any Scripture twisting (or history twisting) to make Jamestown fit Doug’s agenda. It is sad to see this misuse of God’s Word. This contest is based on the Jamestown Quadricentennial celebration this year.


Simply pick one of the Scripture discussion points below (or choose another of interest to your family) and write a persuasive essay expanding on the topic. Explain whether the settlers were operating under the truth of the Bible, or under a worldly deception.

Scripture discussion: The Founding Fathers of our nation were well-versed in the Bible — more so than we are today. Their views on all issues of life were therefore colored by Scripture. How do the following Scriptures help us better understand the settlers’ perspectives on the following? Upon which other Scriptures might they have based their actions? Also, which ideas and passages from the Bible can be found in the suggested readings and primary resources?

1. Land ownership (Ex. 20:12, Joshua 13-19, Acts 17:26, Deut. 32:7-8, Ex. 20:15 and Deut. 19:14)

Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

Josh 13-19 – Dividing the Promised Land

Acts 17:26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

Deut. 32:7-8 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”

Ex. 20:15 – “You shall not steal.”

Deut. 19:14 – “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”

2. “Interracial” marriage (2 Cor. 6:14, Gal. 3:28, Acts 17:26)

II Cor 6:14 – “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Gal. 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Acts 17:26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”

3. Building a population through native births, rather than sending over more colonists from England (Gen. 1:28, 8:16)

Gen. 1:28 – “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 8:16 – “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”

4. Evangelizing the natives (Matt. 28:18-20)

Matt. 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came 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 of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

5. Pocahontas dressing like the settlers as an “Englishwoman” after her conversion rather than remaining in her native clothing (Gen 3:21)

Gen. 3:21 – “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

Scripture discussion: Many, even in their native Virginia, are shying away from calling the Jamestown Quadricentennial a celebration, but instead refer to it as a commemoration. Discuss as a family the Scriptural basis for each of the following:

1. Remembrance of Jamestown, what the settlers did there, and teaching these things to our children (Deut. 32:7-8, Ps. 78; Ex. 20:12)

Deut. 32:7-8 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”

Ps. 78:(4-8) – “We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;
And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

2. Erecting a memorial to God’s providential deliverance of a people (Prov. 22:28, Josh. 4:19-20, Gen. 28:16-22, 1 Sam. 7:10-12)

Prov. 22:28 – “Do not remove the ancient landmark Which your fathers have set.”

Josh. 4:19-20 – “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal.”

Gen. 28:16-22 – “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

I Sam. 7:10-12 – “Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

3. Understanding the original words of the settlers from primary source documents, with the meaning that would have been understood at the time (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 15:14, 20:5, 23:23, 28:2b)

Lev. 19:16 – “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.”

Prov. 15:14 – “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”

Prov. 20:5 – “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Prov. 23:23 – “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

Prov. 28:2b – “But by a man of understanding and knowledge Right will be prolonged.”

Be sure to include in the discussion, why it is right to honor our fathers and ancestors, rather than look down our noses at them. Should we wonder how they could have sinned in this way or that way? We would be wise to recognize that they were sinners just like us, and to consider ways in which we fail to honor them by sinning as they did — or in finding new and uniquely foolish ways to sin.

Pastor Writes In To Say Doug Phillips Is “Incredibly Dangerous”

Hi Jen:

I am a pastor in Colorado and have had the grueling task of “re-discipling” many whose lives (and families) were turned upside down by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Tit 1:11). I just wanted to drop you a line and say “keep up the good work.” Men like Phillips must be exposed before they do more harm. My first “red flag” with his organization came the moment I saw (or heard) one of their core beliefs, “the family is the foundational institution of society.”

Nowhere in the Scripture is that ever stated. As a matter of fact, it is blatantly against what the Scripture teaches. Jesus teaches us that it is the church (not the family) which is the foundational institution of society (Mat 16:18; 1Ti 3:15). “It is the city on the hill” which causes the world to sit up and take notice.

Once again–keep being faithful–you are an encouragement to many I’m sure. Men like Phillips rule by intimidation much the same way other cult leaders do, and therefore it takes strong courageous people like yourself coming out against them–before others will be freed also. And let me assure you that what you are doing is biblical. We (as Christians) are to be “exposing the deeds of darkness” (Eph 5). Though there are some things Phillips does which are good–it is the “leaven” mixed in which spoils the whole batch and makes him incredibly dangerous.

Scott Jarrett

Pastor, Sovereign Grace Bible Church

Note: see Pastor Jarrett’s related article: The Church: God’s Foundational Institution

Doug Phillips’ Parallel Universe of Reformed Legalism

Peddling Legalism as “Reformed Theology”

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

God has been using many of my commenters to help push me into becoming a Berean. I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the things I’m discovering. As a direct result of this blog, I’ve also made some dear friends. By studying the Word together, those friends have also provoked me into looking deep into the perfect law of liberty. I especially want to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to our Bible study teacher, Mike, whose teachings have exposed a number of harmful, unbiblical and extra-biblical doctrines in my own life. I haven’t made Mike’s life easy. I know there are many times that I have frustrated and annoyed him. But Mike has always shown himself to be a gentleman and a scholar. I will always be indebted to him. Thanks, Mike.

In the past several months, I’ve found myself having to confront many of the beliefs that I had long held dear. I’ve come to recently recognize that some of my beliefs are rooted in legalism. Patriarchy is an example of this. Other examples include homeschool-only, dresses-only, etc. This has been hard for me to confront. I’ve had to admit to myself and to some close friends that I’ve not only been a legalist, but that I even like legalism. Legalism for me is safe. It provides me with a sense of comfort. Having a list of dos and don’ts to live by has kept my life orderly and structured, and given me a sense of security.

Being a legalist is something that I’ve long lived by. This is why I was drawn to a life of military service. Everything about the military is structured and regulated, a veritable legalist’s paradise. It’s also why I was later drawn to Boerne Christian Assembly. Legalistic churches attract legalistic members. I don’t blame Doug Phillips and BCA for turning me into a legalist. I was a legalist long before I arrived. Personal liberty and freedom have long been alien concepts to me. In the last month, in particular, confronting my own legalism has been a gut-wrenching process. God has been revealing to me, on an almost daily basis, new areas of my life He wants me to face head-on. This story is one of those areas where I had previously not seen anything amiss. Now I can plainly see it.

God has recently shown me how deep into legalism Doug Phillips and BCA are. Having been such a legalist myself, I couldn’t see it before. It’s no wonder God has so much to work on in my own life as I attempt to leave all my legalism behind. It hasn’t been easy. It’s also cost me nearly every friend I’ve had in San Antonio. We tend to make friends with people who are much like ourselves, which means that many of my local former friends are also legalists. Losing all my legalistic friends has been the hardest part, and even though they’re legalists, I still miss them. My public exposure of Doug Phillips’ ecclesiastical tyrannies is, for my former legalistic friends, far more than what I had intended it to be. I thought it was just about exposing Doug Phillips’ ecclesiastical tyrannies; but for them it was much more. For them, it’s an assault on the legalistic worldview that Doug Phillips represents, a legalism that they personally hold very dear.

Doug Phillips is revered by many legalists because he’s such a smooth promoter of legalism. No legalist, however, wants to see their own legalism as legalism; and so we never call it “legalism.” We call it other things. Doug Phillips is a very slick promoter, and so he dresses it up and disguises his legalism in noble-sounding pseudo-biblical terms like “Patriarchy.” It sounds even more biblical when he calls it “Biblical Patriarchy.”

Doug Phillips doesn’t stop there though. In some ways Doug is truly ingenious when it comes to promotion and marketing. It doesn’t get any more ingenious than to repackage legalism as “Reformed theology.” As one of my commenters, “T. Reformed” put it recently:

The very cornerstone of the Reformed faith are the doctrines of grace, rooted in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

John Calvin called Ephesians 2:8-9 “the hinge of the Reformation.” Martin Luther called it, “the doctrine by which the church stands or falls.” These leading lights of the Reformation also used the terms “Sola Fide,” faith alone, and “Sola Gratia,” grace alone. In other words it is only by faith, and only by God’s grace that we are saved, and nothing else, ever.

Doug Phillips claims to be Reformed, and his church blog says, “Boerne Christian Assemnbly Affirms the London Baptist Confession of 1689.” The LBC was taken largely from the Westminster Confession of Faith.

However, I don’t see how Phillips could be Reformed while also embracing Gothardism… Doug Phillips appears to be a very mixed bag of “Reformed,” and some other things like Gothardism, which would be incompatible and even a contradiction to the Refomed faith. It sounds as though Phillips holds to a pseudo-orthodox soteriology, except when it comes to “the perseverance of the saints.” If this is true then he doesn’t really qualify as being Reformed.

It never dawned on me until this week what a major coup it’s been for Doug to portray himself as “Reformed,” yet for all practical purposes deny the doctrines of grace. There’s a major disconnect between what Doug Phillips professes to believe and what he actually practices. I’m amazed that he’s been able to get away with it all these years. Doug Phillips appears to live in some sort of a theological parallel universe where legalism = grace, man-worship = honor, bondage = freedom, and ecclesiastical tyranny = church discipline.

Repenting is often hard, and my legalism is something that I’ve recently had to repent from. The fruit of my legalism has caused great harm, especially to my own family. I’m just now beginning to see its magnitude. I need to repent to my family, and especially to my husband, for my legalism. I’m not ashamed to do so, and I’m not ashamed to do it publicly, right here. Mark, children, I confess my legalism and I repent of it. Please forgive me, and please be patient with me as I continue to work through the process of walking out of legalism into a life of grace.

Because of my blindness to my legalism, there was a significant part of my story that I had earlier failed to tell. I didn’t perceive when I was originally telling my story months ago just how significant this part of the story was. I not only thought it was insignificant, I didn’t even see it. Now I recognize just how significant it is. As God continues to convict me of this and other things, there may be other issues and events that come to mind that I may need to go back and tell, things that I had earlier missed. I’ll add these to the sidebar in chronological order, e.g. “Chapter 4-B,” etc.

And now to the story.

Most people at BCA didn’t seem to want much to do with our family outside of regular church activities, so we were thrilled when the Shorts decided to befriend us after we moved nearby in the summer of 2003. We quickly got into a weekly routine of having dinner together at our home nearly every Friday evening, with their family often leaving around 3 a.m. We would enjoy a nice meal together and then Mark and Richard almost always took a long walk together. Richard soon volunteered to mentor Mark. As Mark and Richard walked and talked, the rest of us generally played board games together.

I appreciated Richard’s willingness to counsel Mark, as times were pretty tough then. However, it seemed to be a rather superficial relationship. Because we were having marital problems, I ultimately asked Richard and Reba to be witnesses for me when I confronted Mark in step two of Matthew 18. At this point, our relationship with the Shorts noticeably changed. Richard began to focus on deeper issues with Mark, and Reba proceeded to tell me that “the problems in marriage are always the woman’s fault.” This later became the very basis of the three counseling sessions I had with Beall and Reba. The entire focus on every meeting was on my “faults.”

“The woman is always at fault for all of the problems in every marriage” is a belief held strongly in many Patriarchal churches, like BCA. However, since leaving BCA, I’ve discovered that there are Patriarchal churches which also teach just the opposite. “All of the problems in every marriage are always the husband’s fault” is taught by R.C. Sproul, Jr. Neither position is biblical, nor are they even logical or consistent with the reality of any Christian marriage. Because husbands and wives are both sinners, the truth falls somewhere in the middle. However, Patriarchy, being an extremist belief system, lacks the biblical balance necessary to correct marital problems. In too many cases, Patriarchy just exacerbates marital problems. Telling a husband that “All of the problems in your marriage are your wife’s fault” is every bit as harmful as telling a wife, “All the problems in your marriage are your husband’s fault.”

In our own case, the Shorts approached our marital problems with the unbiblical presupposition that all of the Epsteins’ marital problems were “the wife’s fault.” Not only was this untrue, it only served to make our marital problems much worse. Whereas before, Mark had started to recognize that he had areas in his life that needed to be repented of, now he was being told that it was all my fault and, therefore, he had no need of repentance at all. When I was told it was all my fault, I knew this couldn’t be true. This only made it harder for me to begin to take responsibility for those things that really were my fault. This is the fruit that comes from such extremism. To this day, Mark and I are both still struggling with the aftermath of this.

For approximately eighteen months, we’d been having dinner together with the Shorts, on a fairly consistent weekly basis. One Sunday after church in January 2005, Mark and Richard took a long walk. But when they returned to church, something seemed quite different. Richard said he wanted to talk to both of us, which was quite unusual. He then informed us that he had come to the conclusion that neither Mark nor I were true believers. In his view, we were unsaved. I was quite taken aback, as I knew that I deeply loved the Lord and desired nothing more than to please Him. But that was essentially the end of the conversation and we went home from there. I was also confused over the fact that Richard and I had spent very little time talking. Most of Richard’s time had been spent with Mark, and I couldn’t understand how Richard could come to the conclusion that I was unsaved when he’d never even asked me about my faith.

That Thursday morning, January 20, 2005, Mark had what I would describe as very broken spirit and a contrite heart. He desired to repent and seek futher counseling, with a focus on marital counseling. Mark was convicted by the Holy Spirit that there were important areas in his marriage that he needed to work on. He emailed Richard Short asking if they could meet and talk about Mark repenting. Mark also emailed another man at church who was known for giving good counsel in difficult marital situations and he agreed to counsel us. The Shorts live only about a mile or two from us and Mark works only about ten minutes away from Vision Forum, where Richard Short works. The two of them could have easily gotten together at a moment’s notice. Distance never posed a hardship. However, on this occasion, Richard said that he would not be able to meet with Mark before Monday. He wasn’t even willing to talk to Mark on the phone.

I could not understand this because, at the time, I assumed that this repentance was the fruit Richard had been working toward all these months. In reality, it was entirely the work of the Holy Spirit, in spite of Richard’s counsel to Mark. Looking back on it now, I can see that Mark’s repentance wasn’t at all what Richard was looking to accomplish, just the opposite. Remember, “All of the problems in every marriage are always the wife’s fault.”

Later that day, we received a request from BCA “leadership” to meet with them an hour before church began that Sunday. They did not tell us what the meeting was going to be about, so I assumed that since Richard Short had told Doug that I wasn’t a converted Christian. I assumed that I was going to need to defend my testimony and offer a credible profession of faith. I looked up a plan of salvation and made sure I had all my verses ready to show that I understood and could explain why I knew I was saved.

When we showed up early on Sunday morning, however, they did not ask me to defend my faith. They didn’t ask me to give a credible profession of faith. That didn’t even come up. Instead, we were read the disciplinary action statement, which I’ve described before. Although we do not have proof, we are almost certain that Richard Short is the one who recommended our discipline and excommunication. Doug has stated that he did not initiate our disciplinary action himself. Someone was responsible for that, so it’s reasonable for me to assume that the party chiefly responsible for our “counseling,” the Shorts, were the responsible party. The other people present who agreed to discipline us knew nothing of our situation, save one man, whom I know did not recommend this discipline, but who went along with it in the end.

Richard Short spent many months with us, mostly with Mark, and then he comes to the conclusion that neither of us is saved. Immediately after Richard comes to this conclusion, we find ourselves together at church on a Sunday afternoon, but Richard doesn’t bother to share the gospel with us, nor even ask us if we understand it. Mark then tells Richard that he wants to repent, but Richard suddenly doesn’t have time for Mark, when he always has before. Although Richard has stated that he doubts our salvation, he pushes for us to be disciplined and eventually excommunicated. That Sunday morning before church would have been a good opportunity to share the gospel with us, or to at least ascertain if we were true believers at that time. But even though Richard doubted our salvation, and even though Mark offered to repent, Doug chose to discipline us instead of sharing the gospel with us.

And what gospel would that be? I am just now learning that it is the gospel of grace. Grace. That is an almost foreign word to me. I did not hear the doctrines of grace preached at BCA — ever. I never heard the gospel preached at BCA. I am not saying that they preached another gospel, but that they simply didn’t preach the gospel at all. What was preached at BCA? For the most part, the Old Testament was preached at BCA — the law. We spent years studying the Samuels, Kings, and Chronicles, patterning our lives after what we found there. And what did we find there? For one thing, Patriarchy. We spent an inordinate amount of time studying Patriarchy. For a legalist like me, it never really surprised me how often and how easy it was to find Doug’s version of Patriarchy in the Bible, even in the “non-normative” stories. Looking back on it now though, it does surprise me how many years of Sundays we spent studying nothing but the law, but never anything about the doctrines of grace. Now I can plainly see that Doug Phillips is not a Reformed Bible expositor, nor is Boerne Christian Assembly a Reformed church.

We did have topical preaching. It just was never about the doctrines of grace. Those sermons were long on vision and short on Scripture and practical application. Legalists are big on dos and don’ts. However, this doesn’t mean that legalistic preachers are always helpful when it comes to practical application. This was one of our biggest frustrations with Doug. He would never hesitate to tell us what to do, but he seldom ever had any suggestions on how to practically do it. If you asked for practical examples he usually couldn’t offer any. Doug’s sermons and teachings that are sold through Vision Forum reflect this as well. Doug Phillips is a pie in the sky visionary, a warm and fuzzy motivational speaker; but when it comes to practical application he’s got little to offer. Now combine that with the legalism and you’ve got a formula for disaster. “Do this, don’t do that. However, you’ll have to figure out all on your own how to do it. Don’t expect any help from us. If (and when) you fail, you’ll be filled with guilt and shame, and we’ll do what we can to help reinforce your guilt and shame. We might even tell you that you’re not even saved. Then we’ll discipline you.”

Why aren’t the doctrines of grace preached in a church that states they “affirm the Second London Baptist Confession Of Faith” and that Confession itself so strongly affirms the doctrines of grace? Actually, I never once heard the term “grace” used at BCA. As I come to examine the teachings of patriarchy, I am coming face to face with more and more legalism. Legalism doesn’t have room for grace. Legalism doesn’t have room for mercy. Mark begged Doug for mercy that particular Sunday when he asked him not to read the part of the disciplinary statement about my sins prior to my becoming a Christian. No gospel that Sunday. No grace. No mercy. Just the sound of the hammer falling. Judgment. Condemnation. Shame. Guilt. Legalism.

Legalistic churches are all about image. It’s all about maintaining appearances. The Epsteins posed some major problems for BCA. We didn’t fit the image. We not only arrived with marital problems, we were just foolish enough to believe that church is the ideal place to confront marital problems by receiving competent, biblical counsel. No doubt there are other BCA couples that have marital problems, too. However, even with their marital problems they still fit the image, and in a legalistic church that’s really all that matters. They maintain the image by keeping their problems to themselves. We weren’t smart enough to know how to do that, and we weren’t good at pretending. Mark and I are still useless when it comes to pretending. (Natasha is no better)

Our marriage posed a huge threat to the image that Doug was trying to maintain. I’m quite confident that the thought crossed Doug’s mind more than once that we might be headed for a divorce. Such a thought would terrify a man like Doug Phillips. A divorce in his church would have been devastating to his image, especially when he held the “Uniting Church and Home” conferences. Doug decided that he needed to get rid of us. The expediency with which Doug dumped us, and the unbiblical and unjust way he went about it, only confirms that the only thing he was interested in was maintaining his image of the perfect church — a church where every marriage is perfect — or at least a church where there is the appearance that every marriage is perfect. Doug couldn’t risk the potentiality of a divorce happening on his watch. The Epsteins were expendable, and so we were expended.

I’m now baffled, though, over how a church can excommunicate a couple shortly after they just said that couple wasn’t even saved.

I pray that as God continues to lead me on His path of grace that He would also show His grace to all those at BCA. May God deliver them as He’s now delivering me. God wants us all to be free from the bondage of legalism and condemnation.

Are “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” Biblical? Part 3

Part 3

This is the third in a three-part critique of The Biblical Tenets Of Patriarchy. If you haven’t read Part One and Part Two already, please do so before reading this article.

After posting Part One in this series, I came to recognize the centrality of Patriarchy to some homeschoolers’ entire “vision,” referring to Patriarchy as a “Gospel centered doctrine,” when it is nothing of the sort. Much of Patriarchy is just extra-biblical legalism, and legalism is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Christ is about grace, not legalism.

Why then do patriarchists claim that Patriarchy is “Gospel centered”? Certainly, Patriarchy is “centered” to something, but not to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Did Jesus or any of the Apostles ever teach Patriarchy? Did they ever command Patriarchy? No, in fact, the Apostle Paul explicitly warned the Corinthians that they should beware of anyone who came and preached “another Gospel.”

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! (2 Cor. 11:3-4)

Paul likewise gave a similar warning to the Galatians:

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-9)

Some claims that Patriarchy is “Gospel centered” when, in point of fact, it is not. Patriarchists, just like the Judaizers that Paul proclaimed to be “accursed,” have added to and perverted the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So what, then, is Patriarchy “centered” to? Patriarchy is “centered” around the family and, more specifically, around the “patriarch.”

Several years ago Rev. Pete Hurst of Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) preached a series of sermons on Patriarchy. Rev. Hurst had good reason to preach on Patriarchy, but that’s another story for another day:

Patriarchy: A New Legalism?
Patriarchy And Education
Patriarchy and the Family
Patriarchy and the Church

I don’t necessarily agree with everything that Rev. Hurst has to say, but as a pastor who almost had his church split over Patriarchy, he does have some good insights about how divisive Patriarchy can be.

Education & training of children

16. Education is not a neutral enterprise. Christian parents must provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education, one that teaches the Bible and a biblical view of God and the world. Christians should not send their children to public schools since education is not a God-ordained function of civil government and since these schools are sub-Christian at best and anti-Christian at worst. (Deut. 4:9; 6:6-9; Rom. 13:3-5; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:15)

Deut. 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,

Deut. 6:6-9 – And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The favorite verses that support home education. While I agree that it is difficult to teach our children these things when they are not with us, I wonder if they fulfill the rest of this verse as well: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Or maybe they just pick and choose the parts that they like.

Rom. 13:3-5 – For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

I’m trying to see “public school” in these verses. I think that is why they use these verses. It’s mighty hard to see it, though.

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

II Tim 3:15 – and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Since Timothy learned the Scriptures from his mother and his grandmother, this is an odd verse for the Patriarchy camp to use. I am sure that any child, no matter what form of education he has, can know Scripture from childhood. This verse doesn’t prove their point.

While I personally agree with this tenet, I find this biblical support to be very weak.

17. Fathers are sovereign over the training of their children and, with their wives, are the children’s chief teachers. Christian parents are bound to obey the command personally to walk beside and train their children. Any approach to Christian education ought to recognize and facilitate the role of fathers and mothers as the primary teachers of their children. (Deut. 4:9; 6:6ff.; Ps. 78:3-8; Prov. 1:8; Eph. 6:4; )

Deut. 4:9 – Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,

Deut. 6:6-9 – And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

I agree that this is a command to walk alongside children, but this command was given to Israel. We cannot confuse a command to Israel with a command to us as believers under the New Covenant. And if we are to follow this command, then we must fulfill the whole command: “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

Ps. 78:3-8 – Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Again, this verse tells us that this law applied to Israel. We must be careful not to take Scripture out of context.

Prov. 1:8 – My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother;

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

It is the father’s responsibility to bring the children up in the training and admonition of the Lord, and as his helper, the wife does as well. While this tenet is certainly my personal preference, I do not see enough biblical support here to justify saying that parents are the primary/chief teachers of the children.

18. Educational methodology is not neutral. The Christian should build his educational methodology from the word of God and reject methodologies derived from humanism, evolutionism, and other unbiblical systems of thought. Biblical education is discipleship, a process designed to reach the heart. The aim is a transformed person who exhibits godly character and a trained mind, both of which arise from faith. The parents are crucial and ordinarily irreplaceable in this heart-level, relational process. (Deut. 6:5-7; Lk. 6:40; 1 Thess. 2:7-12; 2 Tim. 1:5; 2 Pet. 1:5-8)

Deut. 6:5-7 – You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.


Lk. 6:40 – A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

If a student becomes like his teacher, this verse is clear support for only using teachers that the parents would want their children to emulate.

I Thess. 2:7-12 – But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy treated the church at Thessalonica as a father does his own children. This is a good example, but not a command.

II Tim. 1:5 – when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

Timothy also had a good example growing up, but this is not a command.

II Pet. 1:5-8 – But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These are good things to teach and I can see that this verse is saying that knowledge should be built upon faith and virtue, but it does not say that there is no knowledge outside of faith and virtue.

I agree that we should be very careful what we teach our children. One thing we should definitely teach them is not to take Scripture out of context. A favorite mantra of some patriarchists is that education and its methodology is not neutral. If it doesn’t fit their description of the biblical form of education, they reject it. I just don’t see that in Scripture. There are definitely some methods that are more effective than others, but this premise is not supported by these verses.

Their Conversion

19. Since the educational mandate belongs to parents and they are commanded personally to walk beside and train their children, they ought not to transfer responsibility for the educational process to others. However, they have the liberty to delegate components of that process. While they should exercise great caution and reserve in doing this, and the more so the less mature the child, it is prudent to take advantage of the diversity of gifts within the body of Christ and enjoy the help and support that comes with being part of a larger community with a common purpose. (1 Cor. 12:14ff.; Gal. 4:1,2; 6:2; Eph. 4:16)

I Cor. 12:14 – For in fact the body is not one member but many. …

Since this verse is talking about the body of Christ, the Patriarchists are saying that if we are going to have others help us teach our children, it should come from the body of Christ.

Gal. 4:1,2 – Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

This passage has a double meaning. It is talking about the oldest son who is going to inherit his father’s estate when the father deems he is ready. It is also talking about our relationship with the Lord and how we were under the Law before we came to Christ. This passage gives an example of a father using a tutor. So much for home education only!

Gal. 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

This passage is talking about how to treat a brother who is in sin. This is not about helping teach someone else’s children.

Eph. 4:16 – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

Yes, we can help each other out.

Since they used the words “it is prudent,” I will give them leeway on this one. I do not see any Scriptures here that say that parents ought not to transfer responsibility for the educational process to others. In fact, one of the verses in this section talks about a father appointing guardians and stewards. I am pleased that this section at least gives parents a little liberty to delegate.

20. The age-integrated communities of family and church are the God-ordained institutions for training and socialization and as such provide the preferred pattern for social life and educational endeavors. The modern preference for grouping children exclusively with their age mates for educational and social purposes is contrary to scriptural wisdom and example. (Deut. 29:10-11; 2 Chron. 20:13; Prov. 22:15 with 13:20; Joel 2:16; 1 Cor. 15:33)

Deut. 29:10-11 – All of you stand today before the LORD your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water—

A good example, but not a mandate for us.

II Chron. 20:13 – Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD.

Another good example.

Prov. 22:15; 13:20 – Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him. … He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

This was preached to us a lot. We were told not to let fools hang out together unless we wanted them to become more foolish. Since foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, children are fools, and therefore should not hang out together. I always wondered why they didn’t separate the brothers and sisters in large families then.

Joel 2:16 – Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room.

Another example.

I Cor. 15:33 – Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

I guess the Patriarchists are using this verse to say that all children are evil and shouldn’t be with each other.

Since this is based on Scriptural wisdom and example, I am willing to give them this point. I just don’t know if it is strong enough to be called a “tenet,” though.

21. The Bible presents a long-term, multi-generational vision of the progress of God’s kingdom in the world. Christians parents need to adopt this perspective and be motivated by the generational promises of Scripture, and church shepherds need to promote this outlook within their flocks. By the grace of God, as fathers faithfully turn their hearts toward their sons and daughters and the youths respond in kind, the next generation will build upon the faith and improve upon the faithfulness of their parents. (Ps. 78:1-8; Is. 59:21; Mal. 4:6; Lk. 1:17; Gal. 6:9)

Ps. 78:1-8 – Give ear, O my people, to my law; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old,Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

This passage could be used to support telling our own children about the Lord.

Is. 59:21 – “As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”

This is the Lord’s covenant and what He will do. God has a multi-generational vision!

Mal. 4:6 – And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

Lk. 1:17 – He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

These are both talking about John the Baptist.

Gal. 6:9 – And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

While this is a good verse for perseverance, this is also proof-texting for trying to show support for multi-generational vision.

The problem here seems to be that patriarchists desperately want this vision, as this is foundational to many of their businesses. Look at that last part of this Tenet: “the next generation will build upon the faith and improve upon the faithfulness of their parents.” Anyone see any problems here? As parents, we are responsible to bring our children up in the training and admonition of the Lord, but that is where our authority stops. I am grateful for godly grandparents who care for and love their grandchildren, but this Patriarchy movement is really a power trip at this point.

Let’s think this one through logically. Dad and Mom get married and have ten children. They have this kind of vision. For argument’s sake, all descendants are half boys, half girls. So Dad passes his vision on to his ten children. These five girls, though, marry five boys who also had their father’s vision passed on to them, so the girls give up their fathers’ vision and go with their husbands’. So these five boys all have ten children each, five of which are boys, who now carry on Granddad’s vision. Five boys from the first generation and twenty-five from the next generation. Multiplying this, we would have another 125 boys in the third generation, and another 625 boys by the fourth generation, for a total of 780 boys in just four generations, all carrying on the vision of that first “Patriarch.” And if the Patriarch is the one with the vision, what does that make those 780 other boys? Are they still Patriarchs, too? Do you see why patriarchy is so important to these first generation Patriarchs? Wow! 780 men just following in your footsteps, following your vision. I know one patriarchist who has a 200-year visionary plan for his descendants. He has it all laid out in detail. And 200 years is much longer than four generations.

How does this practically play out when two families marry off their children to one another, but there are significant theological differences between the two families? For example, let’s take one Patriarch who is adamantly opposed to infant baptism (paedobaptism) and another Patriarch who is opposed to believer’s baptism (credobaptism) and anabaptism (re-baptizing paedobaptists as adults by profession of faith). The second Patriarch is a paedobaptist and his children have (presumably) all been baptized. Yet, his oldest daughter has been arranged to marry the first Patriarch’s eldest son. Will Patriarch II’s eldest daughter be required to be re-baptized before she can marry Patriarch I’s eldest son and renounce the paedobaptist beliefs of her father? Will their children not be baptized as infants? Presumably so. But won’t that likely cause serious theological differences between them? How can Patriarch II carry forward his “covenantal” and “dominionist” views generationally when his infant grandchildren aren’t baptized?

A father and his older children

22. Both sons and daughters are under the command of their fathers as long as they are under his roof or otherwise the recipients of his provision and protection. Fathers release sons from their jurisdiction to undertake a vocation, prepare a home, and take a wife. Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection. Even after leaving their father’s house, children should honor their parents by seeking their counsel and blessing throughout their lives. (Gen. 28:1-2; Num. 30:3ff.; Deut. 22:21; Gal. 4:1,2; Eph. 6:2-3)

Gen. 28:1,2 – Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him, and charged him, and said to him: “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

Here is an example of both a father blessing his son and giving him counsel about finding a wife. Should we use this as an example that men should marry their cousins?

Num. 30:3-5 – Or if a woman makes a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth, and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall stand, and every agreement with which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father overrules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall stand; and the LORD will release her, because her father overruled her.

This is a command that Moses gave to the tribes of Israel regarding vows.

Deut. 22:21 – then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done a disgraceful thing in Israel, to play the harlot in her father’s house. So you shall put away the evil from among you.

This passage has some alarming implications for how we are to apply it today. Are the patriarchists recommending stoning immoral young women here? Why else would he quote the passage unless he intends that we are to exercise it?

Gal. 4:1,2 – Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father.

This passage is talking about the firstborn son getting his inheritance, and how we are no longer under the Law when it comes to Christ.

Eph. 6:2,3 – “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

While I am not at all advocating that young people disobey their fathers (or their mothers), I’m not sure that these verses support Patriarchy’s viewpoint that daughters are to remain under their father’s full authority and control, living in their father’s homes, until they are married. If a family decides in favor of such an arrangement, that is not necessarily a bad thing in all cases, but neither is there a biblical mandate to do that. I’m especially concerned, though, with the implications of Patriarchy’s opposition to daughters receiving a college education, especially if it means that in order to pursue that education she must move away from home. Some patriarchists may not necessarily be opposed to distance learning for daughters. However, they still seem to view higher education for daughters as a waste of time, since in their view a wife and mother doesn’t need a degree. Patriarchists are especially opposed to a daughter moving out of the home to go study on a college campus.

In the same way that I haven’t seen the biblical mandate that daughters must live in their father’s home until they are married, I haven’t seen the passages that tell us that fathers are free to release sons from their jurisdiction to undertake a vocation, and prepare a home to take a wife either. Where does Scripture teach that a father is free to release his sons, but not release his daughters? This tenet seems to be more about control and less about what God’s Word instructs us to do. Also, to be consistent with all of God’s Word, this tenet needs to include mothers as well, since wives are to be their husband’s helper.

23. Fathers should oversee the process of a son or daughter seeking a spouse. While a father may find a wife for his son, sons are free to take initiative to seek and “take a wife.” A wise son will desire his parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process. Since daughters are “given in marriage” by their fathers, an obedient daughter will desire her father to guide the process of finding a husband, although the final approval of a husband belongs to her. (Gen. 24:1ff.; 25:20; 28:2; Ex. 2:21; Josh. 15:17; Jdg. 12:9; 1 Sam. 18:27; Jer. 29:6; 1 Cor. 7:38; Gen. 24:58)

Gen. 24:1 – Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please, put your hand under my thigh, and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” …

Gen. 25:20 – Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.

Gen. 28:2 – Arise, go to Padan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and take yourself a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.

Ex. 2:21 – Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses.

Josh. 15:17 – So Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife.

Judg. 12:9 – He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years.

I Sam. 18:27 – therefore David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full count to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as a wife.

Jer. 29:6 – Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

I Cor. 7:38 – So then he who gives her in marriage does well, but he who does not give her in marriage does better.

Gen. 24:58 – Then they called Rebekah and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” And she said, “I will go.

This Tenet is about “betrothal,” a system that is far more about a cultural system that was commonplace two thousand years ago, than it is about any biblical mandates. Patriarchists are seeking to reestablish a system whereby the father becomes the ultimate authority and arbiter on making the most important decision that his children will ever enter into — their marriage partners. Two thousand years ago this may have made a lot more sense culturally than it does today. Two thousand years ago sons generally took wives right from within their own communities. Sons also often took wives from among their own cousins. Today we know that such “inbreeding” often produces disastrous results. They also frequently took wives that were in their early teens (e.g. 14 year olds). Betrothals were also often arranged for a young man to take more than one wife. Today we know better than to encourage that. Not everything recorded in Scripture (polygamy, marrying cousins, etc.) can or should be interpreted as a biblical mandate for us today. God gave us an intellect and He expects us to use it.

Under Patriarchy’s system, the objective is not for a son to seek a wife that will please him, but for the prospective daughter-in-law to please and impress her prospective father-in-law so that she might obtain his favor. The father is in charge and the expectation is that he must be pleased with the choice of a spouse and that the spouse lives up to his expectations. If this is the objective before the marriage, why would it change after the marriage? In such a Patriarchal system, isn’t it likely that the father-in-law will continue to exercise control? One of the most common problems in new marriage is that in-laws meddle and interfere in their children’s lives. Patriarchists need to really add Genesis 2:24 to this section as an admonishment to fathers (and mothers) that when a young man does take a wife, he “leaves” his parents and “cleaves” to his wife. This is a reminder to parents that their married children are no longer under their control.

Although there is no clear mandate here of sons taking and daughters being given in marriage, there is a pattern. However, it is a great leap from giving and taking to fathers “overseeing” the process of their children seeking a spouse. If they happen to have a wise father and mother, then certainly they should seek the counsel of their parents. This tenet also attempts to describe what wise sons and daughters will do, although there is no biblical support listed for wise sons desiring their parents’ involvement, counsel, and blessing in that process; or that obedient daughters will desire their father to guide the process of finding a husband (but not their mother). This is clearly adding to Scripture.

The sufficiency & application of Scripture

24. Scripture is the believer’s sufficient guide for all of faith and practice, and Christians must believe and obey whatever it teaches and commands. The Bible provides the Christian — through precept, pattern and principle — all that is necessary to make wise decisions concerning the many ethically complex issues of life. (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3)

II Tim. 3:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

II Pet. 1:3 – as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,

When Scripture gives us a clear mandate for how we should live our lives, we ought to obey. We can also gain much wisdom and understand principles from God’s Word as well. What we should not do, though, is take examples from Scripture and put them on the same level as being commands. That is the pattern that is described here. Showing a pattern in Scripture does not make it a command for us.

25. Fathers need to exercise discernment in the choices they make for their families and not simply drift with the cultural tide. Egalitarian feminism is an enemy of God and of biblical truth, but the need for care goes beyond this threat. The values of modern society are often at odds with those that accompany a biblical worldview. For example, fathers need self-consciously to resist the values of individualism at the expense of community, efficiency at the expense of relationships, and material well-being at the expense of spiritual progress. The world and the worldly church will cheer many choices that are detrimental to family sanctification. (Rom. 12:2; 1 Jn. 2:15)

Rom. 12:2 -And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

While this is an important biblical concept, I don’t understand what this has to do with fathers. Wouldn’t these same principles apply to mothers and children and all Christians? This is one of the problems of patriarchy — elevating the father above everyone else. This is simply adding to Scripture. And where is the Scripture that tells us not to be individualistic? I heard that so much when I was into Patriarchy when I had a thought that was different than the norm.

26. While God’s truth is unchanging, the specific application of that truth may vary depending on facts and circumstances unique to each believer. Also, those who are further along in sanctification will see some issues more clearly than those who are less mature. For these reasons great charity must be maintained between believers who have differences of application, and liberty of application must be respected. However, an appeal to the doctrine of Christian liberty must never be used in an effort simply to avoid submitting to what Scripture plainly teaches. Believers should also bear in mind that things which are lawful may not be expedient if the goal is personal and family holiness. The biblical rule in judging behavior is charity toward others, strictness toward oneself. (Gal. 5:2-3 with Acts 16:3; Phil. 3:15; Rom. 12:10; 1 Cor. 1:10; 6:12; 9:27; 10:23; Gal. 5:13)

Gal. 5:2-3 – Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.

Acts 16:3 – Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

This is Doug’s support that specific application of God’s truth may vary depending on facts and circumstances. It appears that he is trying to say that while one verse tells us that becoming circumcised requires one to keep the whole law, that there are also appropriate times to be circumcised as well.

Phil. 3:15 – Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Rom. 12:10 – Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

I Cor. 1:10 – Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

I Cor. 6:12 – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Cor. 9:27 – But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

I can’t quite figure out what this verse is intended to support — strictness toward oneself?

I Cor. 10:23 – All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

Gal. 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.

I’m not sure what following the Second Greatest Commandment has to do with Patriarchy exclusively, but this is important to remember.

Are “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” Biblical? Part 2

Part Two

This is the second in a three-part critique of The Biblical Tenets Of Patriarchy. If you haven’t read Part One already, please do so before reading this article.

Critiquing The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy has been anything but a pleasurable experience for me. In fact, it’s brought me much sorrow. The reason why is because I’ve been such a strong proponent of Patriarchy. It’s not an easy thing to have to come to grips with the fact that I can no longer subscribe to a belief system that I had long held so dear. This isn’t to say that I now completely reject all aspects of Patriarchy. I still believe that certain elements of it may in fact be useful and even helpful to many families. Perhaps some of it is even biblical. However, I’ve also come to see that many elements of Patriarchy are, at the very least, extra-biblical, and perhaps even errant theology, if not heretical. As Bible teachers, patriarchists should be far more careful in “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)

Patriarchy leaders have pawned off Patriarchy as not merely being “biblical,” which even that is very debatable, but they have pawned off Patriarchy as being a “Gospel centered doctrine.” For a long time, I treated Patriarchy as though it was “Gospel centered” — that it was an essential and indispensable aspect of my walk with Christ. Now I recognize that it’s not “Gospel centered” and may even in some ways be contrary to the Gospel message, especially when it comes to the Gospel message of grace. I’m starting to see that many elements of Patriarchy are legalistic and, therefore, contrary to grace. Elevating any doctrine to a level of being “Gospel centered,” when the doctrine may, in fact, just be legalism, is Pharisaical.

Once again I would ask that any comments you post here only address “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy.” The authors have invited feedback on these tenets and I would like feedback on these verses as well. What do you think? Do these verses support these tenets as being biblical? Does the Bible teach these tenets? Which of these verses are on point and actually support a Tenet? Which of these verses are off point? Which of these verses are prooftexting?

When you leave a comment, to help us follow your thoughts, please address the Tenet number and the Scripture reference as well. If you have additional Scripture you would like to add to help Doug support these tenets, please do so. This is NOT a debate about personal beliefs, but only how these tenets can be supported biblically.

Family, Church, and State

8. Family, church, and state are parallel institutions, each with real but limited authority in its ordained sphere. As the keeper of the keys of Christ’s kingdom, the church is the central and defining institution of history. As the primary social group, the family is the foundational institution of society. (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 25:11; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.; Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Tim. 3:15)

Matt. 16:19 – “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matt. 18:18 – “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And this is why it is vital that we take church discipline seriously. I reject the thought that elders have any authority over the status of another believer’s soul to unilaterally and unjustly pronounce them to be worthy of being a “heathen and a publican,” as sometimes happens. However, I do acknowledge that the true church of Jesus Christ is given authority here on earth to exercise the “keys of the Kingdom.” However, the keys of the Kingdom must always be used in such a way as to honor Christ. They must never be used or abused to seek personal vengeance.

Acts 4:19 – But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

This defines the state. I wonder if it could be used to define when we should obey God rather than an abusive elder or an abusive husband who ask people to sin as well, or who pronounce unjust judgments? I believe it does.

Acts 25:11 –“For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”

Here is an example of Paul using his rights as a citizen of Rome, but it is nothing more than an example.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Again, this is presumably referring to elders and how they are to lead and guide those in their care.

I Pet. 2:13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

Eph. 1:22-23 – And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

I agree that Christ is the head of the church, but I don’t see how this supports this “tenet” of Patriarchy.

I Tim. 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

It’s important that we conduct ourselves right in the house of God, but again, what does this have to do with the church, state, and family being parallel institutions?

Let’s see what’s missing here. Did we find any verses on family? If one of Patriarchy’s biblical tenets is that the family is the foundational institution of society, I would hope to see some verses to support this. And if family, church, and state are parallel institutions, I would think we could find that in Scripture as well. And what do they mean by “the church is the central and defining institution of history”? I thought history was HIS-story, not the church’s. Maybe history that doesn’t include the church is irrelevant. I think this point needs a lot of work.

9. Every Christian father and family ought to be a submitted and committed part of a local church, subject to the authority and discipline of the church through its elders. (Heb. 10:24-25; 13:17)

Heb. 10:24-25 – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

One another. Not father. Not family. Just one another here.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

They sure do like this verse, these three elders who wrote this!

Why do these Patriarchs put words in here like “father” and “family,” when that is not what the Bible says? Is it just to bolster their claims of Patriarchy? I also notice that the discipline of the church is to be done through a plurality of elders, not just one.

10. The church is defined by its orthodox confession and faithful teaching of God’s word; by the presence of the Holy Spirit; by the rule of qualified elders; by the biblical administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; by regular meetings for worship, instruction, breaking bread, and fellowship; and by the exercise of discipleship and discipline. (Gal. 1:8; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:1ff.; Matt. 28:19; 1 Cor. 11:20ff.; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 5)

Gal. 1:8 – But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Would that include the “Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy”?

I Tim. 3:15 – I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Cor. 12:13 – For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

I Tim. 3:1 – This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

There are actually verses that tell us about the role and qualification of elders in the church, but this isn’t one of them!

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,

I Cor. 11:20 – Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.

I don’t think I would have picked this one!

Acts 20:7 – Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

I Cor. 5:7-8 (These verses are not listed, but I heard them every week, so I know they are the ones they are referring to here.) Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

This is the verse that some elders use to use to say that we should have communion.

This section is very disappointing. I would probably agree with this particular tenet, but it is sorely lacking in Scriptural support. These are supposed to be “biblical” tenets.

11. Male leadership in the home carries over into the church: only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church. A God-honoring society will likewise prefer male leadership in civil and other spheres as an application of and support for God’s order in the formative institutions of family and church.(1 Tim. 3:5)

I Tim. 3:5 – (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

The wording of this tenet is quite misleading. Based upon this verse, the first part of the tenet should read something like “An elder must rule his own house well.” This verse is not telling us that if a man leads his family, he will carry that leadership over into the church. This is kind of a weak verse to use to say that only men are permitted to hold the ruling office in the church, but I will give it to them. I would like to see much more Scripture on this point, however.

Now, here is where Patriarchy gets itself into trouble. Where does the Bible say anything about preferring male leadership outside of church or that such a thing makes a God-honoring society? Or where does it say that by having only men being in positions of leadership (in all of life apparently) supports God’s order in the formative institutions of family and church? Proof, men?

Men & Women: Spheres of Dominion

12. While men are called to public spheres of dominion beyond the home, their dominion begins within the home, and a man’s qualification to lead and ability to lead well in the public square is based upon his prior success in ruling his household. (Mal. 4:6; Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 3:5)

Mal. 4:6 – And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

What does this have to do with men working outside the home, or dominion, or ruling his household?

I Tim. 3:5 – (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)

Do you see the heavy pattern of ruling in this document? i am not even going to give them credit for “ruling his household” on this one because this verse is referring only to an elder’s qualification and has absolutely nothing to do with leading in the public square.

What verse tells us that men are called to public squares? To dominion? Beyond the home? That their dominion begins within the home? That prior success in ruling his household will qualify him to lead? That prior success in ruling his household will give him an ability to lead well? This one’s looking real weak.

13. Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, the bearer of children, and a “keeper at home,” the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home, although her domestic calling, as a representative of and helper to her husband, may well involve activity in the marketplace and larger community. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Prov. 31:10-31; Tit. 2:4-5)

Gen. 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Prov. 31:10-31

Tit. 2:4-5 – that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Notice that this verse seems to be directed at young women.

Although I didn’t list everything in Proverbs 31, isn’t it interesting that in that whole passage and this partial Titus 2 passage, that the only word the Patriarchs choose to use to define a wife’s role is “homemakers” or “keeper at home.” It sure seems that the Proverbs 31 woman is out of the house a lot!

Which verse tells us that the woman is the bearer of children? I know that is true, but these are biblical tenets nonetheless. Which verse states that the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home? Which Proverbs 31 verse tells us that a woman’s activity in the marketplace and larger community is as a representative of and helper to her husband?

14. While unmarried women may have more flexibility in applying the principle that women were created for a domestic calling, it is not the ordinary and fitting role of women to work alongside men as their functional equals in public spheres of dominion (industry, commerce, civil government, the military, etc.). The exceptional circumstance (singleness) ought not redefine the ordinary, God-ordained social roles of men and women as created. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Josh. 1:14; Jdg. 4; Acts 16:14)

Gen. 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

While I agree that most women will get married, this verse does not support that. Patriarchy would have us believe that women were created only for the purpose of “helping” men.

Josh. 1:14 – Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them,

This verse is about the Israelites going to war, not about single women.

Judg. 4 – the story of Deborah

Some patriarchists’ favorite term for Deborah is “non-normative.” And in their book, anything that is non-normative is not biblically supported. It is a word that, to them, means that it goes against the normative pattern of Scripture. Therefore, patriarchists would not support what Deborah did.

Acts 16:14 – Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Was Lydia single or married? She had a household; does that mean anything? And what does this verse have to do with the role of unmarried women?
Notice which passage regarding a young unmarried woman’s duties in life is clearly missing from this list.

Which verse tells us that women should not work alongside men? Which verse tells us that single women were created for a domestic calling? This tenet needs a whole lot of work!


15. God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” still applies to married couples, and He “seeks godly offspring.” He is sovereign over the opening and closing of the womb. Children are a gift of God and it is a blessing to have many of them, if He so ordains. Christian parents are bound to look to Scripture as their authoritative guide concerning issues of procreation. They should welcome with thanksgiving the children God gives them. The failure of believers to reject the anti-life mindset of the age has resulted in the murder of possibly millions of unborn babies through the use of abortifacient birth control. (Gen. 1:28; 9:1; 29:31; 30:22; Ex. 20:13: 21:22-25; Ps. 127:3; 128:3-4; Is. 8:18; Mal. 2:15)

Gen. 1:28 – Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 9:1 – So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

God told Adam and Eve, and Noah and his sons (and their wives, presumably) to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It looks like He also told Abraham. If I were a Patriarchist, I think I would have used the command to Abraham for this one. But I just don’t see that God gave this command to everyone. There are three distinct circumstances here, three distinct beginnings of a people, three distinct times when it was necessary to “multiply.” I think we should be careful when we claim that a command to someone in the Old Testament applies across the board to all Christians.

Gen. 29:31 – When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

Gen. 30:22 – Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.

Ex. 20:13 – You shall not murder.

Some Christians are unaware that some forms of birth control actually cause abortions within hours of conception. This is murder.

Ex. 21:22-25 – If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

This verse shows the value God places on the life of unborn child.

Ps. 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.

I don’t deny that children are a gift and a blessing, but that is not what this passage says. Biblical tenets require biblical words.

Ps. 128:3-4 – Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

The man who fears the Lord will be blessed with a wife and children. Let’s not read too much into this.

Is. 8:18 – Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.

Children. Plural. More than one. Isaiah had more than one child. Is this referring to literal children or the children of Israel? Does this verse tell us to have lots of children?

Mal. 2:15 – But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

In the Patriarchy movement, there is a heavy emphasis on having lots of children. I just don’t see the Scriptural support for it here. I wonder why they will say that it is the Lord who opens and closes the womb, yet we should have as many children as the Lord allows, and be fruitful and multiply? Which one is it?

Are “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” Biblical?

Part One

In recent months, I’ve found myself re-examining a number of doctrines and beliefs that I’ve held closely for years. I’ve learned many valuable things recently, including the need to critically examine what we believe and why we believe it, as well as to ensure that what we believe lines up with Scripture.

One of the things that I’ve long believed in is Patriarchy. I’m embarrassed now to have to admit it, but I came to believe that Patriarchy was biblical without ever first having done a critical examination on my own of the supposed “biblical” support for Patriarchy. I just took the word of certain Patriarchy leaders that Patriarchy is biblical. Recently, I started doing an examination and found that the biblical support for Patriarchy is actually quite weak, or at least the biblical support that is used in the official “Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy” is weak.

This isn’t to say that I believe that Patriarchy is necessarily un-biblical or anti-biblical. However, I am starting to wonder if much of it isn’t extra-biblical. I’m starting to think that Patriarchy probably falls more into the category of a personal lifestyle decision, rather than something that’s biblically mandated as many patriarchists would have us believe. Patriarchy is a personal lifestyle decision which may work well for some Christian families, but I no longer believe that Patriarchy is something that’s biblically mandated. Those who believe that Patriarchy is biblically mandated I would refer to as “hyper-patriarchs.”

Unfortunately, many of the hyper-Patriarchy leaders have attempted to make Patriarchy a necessary component of the Gospel message itself:

Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers. In conscious opposition to feminism, egalitarianism, and the humanistic philosophies of the present time, the church should proclaim the Gospel centered doctrine of biblical patriarchy as an essential element of God’s ordained pattern for human relationships and institutions.

In other words, for the hyper-Patriarchist, Patriarchy is a “Gospel centered doctrine.” To not embrace Patriarchy is to reject the Gospel. I believe this is errant teaching, if not heretical. In some Patriarchy circles, those who don’t go along with their agenda are consigned to the status of a “carnal” or non-normative Christian. In many hyper-Patriarchy circles, to reject Patriarchy is to be “feminist” or “egalitarian.” For them it’s an either/or. Either you embrace Patriarchy or you’re an egalitarian feminist. However, I can no longer view this as an either/or position.

Even if Patriarchy can be supported biblically, does that make it mandatory for all Christians? I don’t believe that Patriarchy can be mandatory unless the Bible specifically mandates it. But from my read of the Scriptures, I see no such mandate.

In this article, what I’d like to do is examine a document prepared by Doug Phillips, Phil Lancaster and R.C. Sproul, Jr. entitled The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy. In the Editor’s Note to The Tenets it states, “We view this as an accurate working document, and invite feedback from anyone as we attempt to improve this statement over time.” I’m grateful that they have extended the offer to provide feedback. Apparently this offer is open to anyone. My goal is help them sharpen their iron here.

The Editor’s Note in The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy also states:

Central to the crisis of this era is the systematic attack on the timeless truths of biblical patriarchy. This attack includes the movement to subvert the biblical model of the family, and redefine the very meaning of fatherhood and motherhood, masculinity, femininity, and the parent and child relationship. We emphasize the importance of biblical patriarchy, not because it is greater than other doctrines, but because it is being actively attacked by unbelievers and professing Christians alike. Egalitarian feminism is a false ideology that has bred false doctrine in the church and seduced many believers.

Egalitarianism and feminism are clearly humanistic philosophies, and humanists would not deny it. In my personal view, humanism often becomes an attack on biblical Christianity. There’s nothing new about that, nor is that a “crisis” that’s unique to “this era.” Humanism has been with us for many centuries, and we should always be prepared to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). Patriarchists have attempted to “give an answer” to a number of important issues, including the cultural influence of humanism. However, as I’ve come to see, this is a reactionary position, and reactionaries often tend to become extremists. Rather than seeking balance, it is all too easy to take things to the opposite extreme. I believe that these views of Patriarchy are an example of this reactionism, and these views are extremist, rather than biblically balanced.

In principle, I agree that radical feminism and egalitarianism have done much to undermine the family, the church, and society on the whole. The easy thing to do would be to blame women, and I know from personal experience that’s exactly what some patriarchists do. But in my view, radical feminism and egalitarianism cannot be blamed entirely on rebellious women (“Jezebels”), and their penchant for doing so only further harms families and churches, rather than restoring them to biblical balance. Rather than being Patriarchal, this is just misogyny.

Feminism and egalitarianism cannot be laid entirely at the feet of women. Much of the blame must also go to men, men who are either abusive and tyrannical, or on the other end of the scale, men who abdicate their duties and responsibilities to be godly servant-leaders in their homes and churches. Egalitarianism and feminism are often a reaction to abusive or derelict men. The solution isn’t in more extremism — reaction to egalitarian feminism. The solution will come by restoring biblical balance. I believe that rather than being part of the solution, Patriarchy is part of the problem.

“The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy” make numerous bold claims about Patriarchy, including that Patriarchy is “Biblical.” The Tenets purport to be biblical because, supposedly, each of its doctrinal points is supported by multiple specific scriptural references. But as we shall see, quite often the scriptural references don’t make the case that patriarchists attempt to portray that they do. Many of the verses cited simply do not belong under the category that they were placed in because they have little or nothing to do with that particular issue. This may have been done in order to give the false impression that there is strong biblical support for the point being made, when in fact the biblical support may be quite weak, if nonexistent. Needless to say this practice of throwing Bible references like so much spaghetti against the wall to see what might stick, when many of those verses may have little or nothing to do with the “tenet,” is dishonest. Another problem that I discovered is that there has been quite a bit of prooftexting done in order to achieve the desired outcome. This, too, is just more dishonesty.

When I started going through the verses referenced in “The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy,” and I discovered these discrepancies, I found myself becoming very offended. I cherish God’s Word as holy and sacred, but these tenets do not seem to take God’s Word as seriously as I do. This is not a situation where Christians are conforming their lives to God’s Word, but rather they are conforming and contorting God’s Word to their personal preferences.

If patriarchists wish to continue calling Patriarchy “biblical,” then it seems to me that they need to work harder on finding Bible references that actually do support Patriarchy. If they’re then unable to identify specific biblical support for any of their “tenets,” then they need to withdraw those particular tenets entirely. Either that or they need to change their title to just The Tenets Of Patriarchy (my personal preference would be The Tenets Of Hyper-Patriarchy). It’s not for me to say that these aren’t the Tenets Of Patriarchy. I’m sure they are. I do think, however, that they haven’t made a very good case for saying that all these Tenets are biblical.

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.

So far, so good.

The Image of God and Gender Roles

2. Both man and woman are made in God’s image (their human characteristics enable them to reflect His character) and they are both called to exercise dominion over the earth. They share an equal worth as persons before God in creation and redemption. The man is also the image and glory of God in terms of authority, while the woman is the glory of man. (Gen. 1:27-28; 1 Cor. 11:3,7; Eph. 5:28; 1 Pet. 3:7)

Gen 1:27-28 – So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

I Cor. 11:3 – But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

I agree that God created man and woman in His own image. This isn’t said of any of God’s other creatures. Mankind also is unique in that we are the only of God’s creations with a soul. Mankind therefore has a special obligation to bring glory to God. I can only assume that these verses are included to show that the man is the image and glory of God in terms of authority. I’m not sure I understand the need to talk about authority structure in the section on being created in the image of God.

I Cor. 11:7 – For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

Eph. 5:28 – So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

This is a good verse, but I don’t see how it relates to being created in the image of God. To me, this seems confusing to speak of mankind being created in God’s image, while at the same time talking about “gender roles.” Are we trying to say that since a man was created in the image of God, that he should love his own body, and therefore he should love his own wife? If so, this should be stated as such. This verse probably belongs in a different category.

I Pet. 3:7 – Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

This verse seems to support the statement that they share an equal worth as persons before God in redemption, not that women are subordinate or in any way inferior to men.

So, in this category, we find clear biblical support for nearly everything except the clause (their human characteristics enable them to reflect His character), which is meant to be a logical inference of what it means to be created in the image of God, although I find no clear Scripture listed for this. Since these are “biblical tenets,” I would like to see some Scriptural support for this as well.

3. God ordained distinct gender roles for man and woman as part of the created order. Adam’s headship over Eve was established at the beginning, before sin entered the world. (Gen. 2:18ff.; 3:9; 1 Cor. 11:3,7; 1 Tim. 2:12-13)

Gen 2:18 – And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

I think this verse is clear that God intended for wives to help their husbands. I like this translation; wives are comparable to their husbands. Interesting. I wonder how difficult it is for an undereducated wife to help a highly educated man?

Gen. 3:9 – Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

This was right after they both ate the fruit. Does this determine headship? Or is it just inferred here?

I Cor. 11:3, 7 – But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. … For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.

I Tim. 2:12-13 – And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

If we put these Scriptures together, I think it is clear that the husband is the head of his wife, and that the wife is to help her husband. I’ve been taught to look at things in light of all of Scripture, so remember this point later on.

4. Although sin has distorted their relationship, God’s order of authority for husbands and wives has not changed, and redemption enables them to make substantial progress in achieving God’s ideal for their relationship. (Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22ff.)

Gen 3:16 – To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

Eph. 5:22, 25 – Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. … Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

This is basically sound, but this interpretation sounds almost defeatist to me that we can only make substantial progress in the marital relationship. What of those who aren’t called to marry? What hope do they have of their personal sanctification? In the world of hyper-Patriarchy, daughters must remain under the “headship” of their fathers in perpetuity.

The Authority of Fathers

5. A husband and father is the head of his household, a family leader, provider, and protector, with the authority and mandate to direct his household in paths of obedience to God. (Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:4)

Gen 18:19 – For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

In context, God says here that He knew Abraham in order that Abraham should become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth would be blessed in him. This is a promise given specifically to Abraham. Is Patriarchy claiming Abraham’s promises for themselves? Is that why they call it Patriarchy? They want to be like Abraham? Abraham is certainly seen as the Patriarch in Scripture. Are all men commanded biblically to be patriarchs as well? If they are, then it seems to me that, in order to be biblically consistent, all men would have to do everything that Abraham did, including taking multiple wives (polygamy), have servants (slaves), etc.

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

This one applies to at least one aspect of this point. In light of all of Scripture, since a wife is to help her husband, I think it would include helping to bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord as well.

It seems that Scriptural support is missing for a great deal of this particular point. Is the father really the head of his household? Is he the family leader? Is he told to be the provider? Is he to be the protector? I’m not saying that I necessarily disagree with this. I’d just like to see the verses for these since these are called “Biblical” Tenets.

This section is about the authority of fathers. Why is the husband part included here? Surely they don’t mean that a husband is to exercise the same authority over his wife as a father would over his children, do they?

6. A man’s authority in the home should be exercised with gentleness, grace, and love as a servant-leader, following the example of Jesus Christ. Leadership is a stewardship from God. (Ps. 103:13; Mal. 3:17; Matt. 11:29-30; Col. 3:21; 1 Pet. 3:7)

Ps. 103:13 – As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.

This verse speaks of the natural pity a father feels for his children, a prime example of prooftexting. Mothers, too, obviously pity their children.

Mal. 3:17 – “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.”

These are not “tenets.” These verses are simply stating how things are. In fact, these verses are really about God’s attitude toward us.

Matt. 11:29-30 – “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus is gentle. This verse does not tell a man to be gentle. This verse does not even specifically tell us to be like Jesus, although certainly Jesus is our example. More prooftexting.

Col. 3:21 – Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

I Pet. 3:7 – Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.

Finally, we get to two verses that are direct commands to men. While I agree with this principle of men being a servant-leader, the Scriptural support here is very weak. I would think this section could be bolstered quite a bit with appropriate verses.

7. The authority of fathers is limited by the law of God and the lawful authority of church and state. Christian fathers cannot escape the jurisdiction of church and state and must be subject to both. (Rom. 13:1ff.; Eph. 5:21; 6:4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13ff.)

Rom. 13:1 – Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.

This verse says “every soul.” I wonder why in Patriarchy only the fathers are to be subject to the jurisdiction of church and state?

Eph. 5:21 – submitting to one another in the fear of God.

In context, this is a “one anothering” passage written to believers on how they are to treat one another. This has nothing to do with being subject to authorities of any kind.

Eph. 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

If this is the passage that limits a father’s authority, then it is greatly limited indeed. I wonder why they don’t follow these limits.

Heb. 13:17 – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

The word “rule” is this verse actually means “to lead or guide.” “Those” is probably referring to elders, hence this verse is talking about the church part.

I Pet. 2:13 – Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,

And the government.

I agree that fathers should be subject to governing authorities. I just wonder if the mothers and children and all men and women everywhere ought to be as well. Are you seeing the pattern here of the heavy emphasis on verses that seem to elevate men to a degree higher than God intended?

(The other tenets will follow later in a later article.)


This is an interesting hermeneutic. Some patriarchists teach that if we see a “pattern” in Scripture, we are to follow the pattern. They teach that patterns in Scripture are as binding as direct commands, unless those patterns are what they would call “non-normative.” What I didn’t perceive while I was in patriarchy is the glaring weakness in this hermeneutic — there are so many “non-normatives.” They can’t clearly explain why there are so many “patterns” in Scripture that, in a patriarchist’s view, are non-normative. They can’t clearly explain why some “patterns” are “normative” and other “patterns” are “non-normative.” It just seems to come down to a matter of personal preferences, and twisting Scripture to comply with those preferences.

Just a few months ago, I probably would have looked at these verses and said that they did fully support these “Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy,” and largely because I had unwittingly adopted this hermeneutic. However, because I’ve become involved in an intensive Bible study group, I’ve learned how to study Scripture more accurately and to more rightly divide the Word of Truth. I still believe that we must base our lives upon Scripture, but I no longer believe that we are commanded to live our lives according to all “patterns” that we find in Scripture.

We also need to differentiate between commands that are for us as believers today and those that were given specifically to others. Furthermore, just because God may have permitted the Patriarchs to engage in certain kinds of behavior four thousand years ago doesn’t mean that we too are permitted, let alone commanded, to do as they did. Just because God gave certain commands to Abraham does not mean that all Christian men suddenly become patriarchs as well. In fact, I find it quite arrogant that some men have decided that God is speaking directly to them when He commanded Abraham to do certain things in order to establish a new nation.

I do not see that God is suddenly establishing multitudes of new nations, all stemming from the new group of “patriarchs” today. In fact, even the definition of “patriarch” is quite arrogant to apply to a Christian father today. I like to quote from Webster’s 1828 dictionary to define terms because this is a favorite dictionary of patriarchists:


1. The father and ruler of a family; one who governs by paternal right. 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. (Webster’s 1828 dictionary)

I wonder which of these three definitions applies to the “Patriarchs” of today?


For this article only, I would like to request that comments here only address “The Biblical Tenets of Patriarchy.” The authors have invited feedback on their tenets and I would like feedback on these verses as well. What do you think? Do these verses support these tenets as being biblical? Does the Bible teach these tenets? When you leave a comment, to help us follow your thoughts, please address the tenet number and the Scripture reference as well. If you have additional Scripture you would like to add to help patriarchists support these tenets, please do so. This is NOT a debate about personal beliefs, but only how these tenets can be supported biblically.

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

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

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

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

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

Who Will Be First in the Kingdom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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