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

The Washington Post chimes in today:

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

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

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

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

Calls to Vision Forum Ministries were not returned.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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

Huff Post reports this today:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why I am NOT Calling Doug Phillips to Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natasha Phillips GirlsDresses modestly (long, full dresses

Homeschooled

Obeys her parents, even as an adult

Obeys her elders (at church)

Courtship only (no dating or relationships with men)

Gentle, quiet spirit

Respectful

Resourceful

Has no opinions in her own right

Does not go to college

Good with children

Cooks and cleans

Loves God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love.  Or rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is his announcement:

Statement of Resignation

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

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

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

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

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

Doug Phillips

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

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

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

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

Doug Phillips’ Fear Propaganda at the Ballot Box

Although the stated reasons for my excommunication were quite vague and broad-brushed, with no evidence given whatsoever, I believe the main underlying reason why Doug Phillips excommunicated me really had to do with politics. Well, that was the outward circumstance for an inward attitude. Four years ago, as we prepared for the presidential election, Doug Phillips took a very strong stand on why Christians should vote for Michael Peroutka, a virtually unknown candidate for the Constitution Party, the party of Doug’s father, Howard Phillips. For weeks and weeks before the election, we heard political propaganda pounded into us from the pulpit and through the discussion time of the men after the weekly sermon.

Now, I have nothing personally against Peroutka, and he may have been a very fine candidate, but there were many reasons why I was not going to vote for him. And since we live in a free country, and since Jesus bought our spiritual freedom as well, I certainly thought I had the freedom to vote for any presidential candidate I thought best. Little did I know at the time that by reason of my being born female, I was not to be afforded the privilege of freely choosing whom I wanted to vote for.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect on everything, it seems that one way that Doug Phillips can promote his political agenda is to keep women from participating, not only by stating that it is a sin for women to be in politics, but also that God does not allow women to vote. In Doug’s world, women are not allowed a college education where they might be exposed to political issues. In Doug’s brand of hyper-patriarchy, women are not allowed to have an opinion or a belief that is not their husband’s as well. When it comes to politics, that is a subject that is verboten to women and should only interest men.

A quick review of the last election run-in with Doug Phillips

Although Doug Phillips does not normally allow comments on his blog (which should be a huge red flag already — no dissent allowed), on this one particular occasion, he did actually solicit his readers’ opinions to a voting scenario he laid out between candidates A and B. Having previously spoken with one of the Vision Forum employees about my concerns regarding Doug’s views on politics, this particular employee had encouraged me to write Doug and express my own thoughts on the matter. I did not feel at liberty to do so at the time, but when this blog article came out just a few days before the election, I immediately jumped at the chance to participate. Of immense interest to me was a voting debate hosted by Doug Phillips and posted at the same time. I chose to respond to both.

Could I have responded any better? Of course! First, emotions were running high on both sides. Second, this was my very first attempt at taking a side on any issue, so I was not versed at all in the skill of debate. Third, as I look back at where I was spiritually then, I wince when I read that I wrote things like “Shame on you” to my elder. Although I meant it lightheartedly, it was not appropriate to say, and I was wrong for saying that. But was I wrong for writing it in the first place? Was I wrong for having an opinion? Was I wrong for voicing my opinion? No.

But I wrote my response and sent it off with my husband’s full blessing to Doug’s private email address so that no one else need know about it. Why did my response that Friday generate such a riposte then in return on Sunday? When Doug arrived at church that Sunday, shortly after the service had already started, I asked to speak to him outside. Very reluctantly, he agreed. As I apologized for gossiping about him a couple weeks earlier, I asked if he would forgive me. Rather than doing so, he qualified his forgiveness by asking if I would also apologize for writing him the voting letter. I did not see that I had sinned in doing so, and said as much. Refusing to forgive me for gossiping then, Doug threatened me instead, “You’re going to pay for this!” I had no idea at the time that this was a threat of excommunication. As I found out later, though, my sin was not in writing and sending the email, but in being a woman. I was told that the letter would have been fine if Mark was the one who had written it, even though his name was included and it was sent with his full blessing.

Much to my surprise, Doug then went inside to preach, but it was not the next chapter in I Kings this week. No, he pulled out my letter and began to read from it. As he would read each point, he would preach against it, point by point. He did not say my name, but I found it quite comical to see him so incensed by my letter that he chose to preach against it two days before the election. That was my first indication that BCA was no longer a church, but a cult.

Doug Phillips’ “Biblical” Principles of the Ballot Box

Super Tuesday is almost upon us now and Doug Phillips has released a new CD called “Biblical Principles of the Ballot Box,” available for a donation of any amount. I have not listened to it, but I do wonder if it is that sermon where he preached against my letter, point by point. Whatever it is, I am quite confident that I know the basics of what it contains. There is one thing I have noticed about Doug Phillips over the years: his positions do not change at all, but they do grow more and more extreme. So, I will relay his position according to the last election four years ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see even more extremes as we continue building up to the elections this November.

Is Doug still upset about my voting letter? In his blog entry last Monday, January 28th, he talked about Christians who are “fearful” of voting according to the Bible. Look at some of the hyperbole he uses in that article:

At stake is far more than the presidency. We can “win” an election, and yet sell our spiritual birthright.

As I have gotten into the habit of highlighting unnecessary language in Doug’s writings, it has become clear that much of his “vision” is fear-driven propaganda. Let’s strip away the rhetoric and see what he is telling us. First, if we don’t vote for the “biblical” candidate, we are like Esau, selling our “spiritual” birthright. And that is more important than the election itself. Wow. I don’t remember Esau selling his birthright for a vote for the wrong presidential candidate. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. But it’s kind of scary to think that we might end up like Esau, especially when we think about what God said about him: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated.” Talk about a heavy burden. I thought this was the land of the free. I thought we were free to vote for any presidential candidate. When Jesus said He came to set us free, I wonder if He meant freedom except that He would lay upon us the burden of selling our spiritual birthright if we voted for the wrong candidate for president of the United States of America. That’s a pretty heavy fear tactic.

[W]hat matters the most is that the Church remains faithful to her Bridegroom by following the only infallible standard ever written for the selection of civil magistrates.

I suppose I would have to listen to the CDs to find what these verses are that detail exactly how we should vote in the upcoming elections. I agree that there are certainly principles we can find in Scripture, such as being careful of voting for those who promote murder through abortion, but most of the principles Doug is espousing here are certainly extra-biblical and have little-to-nothing to do with how we are really to vote. Perhaps this is the section where God does not allow women to vote either. However, if we look at Doug’s reasoning here, we will soon be quite fearful that we would be unfaithful to our Bridegroom if we vote for the wrong person. Now our vote is raised to the level of spiritual adultery. The fear level continues to grow.

Some believe that the Bible is silent on the question of what standards should govern the selection of a civil magistrate. But to reach this conclusion is to deny the sufficiency of Scripture, and to substitute autonomous human reason for biblical revelation.

Does the Bible tell us how to vote? Or are we given liberty in this area? Is this an area where God expects us to use wisdom or must we follow the dictates of Doug Phillips in our private voting booth? If I vote for a different candidate than Doug Phillips does, am I denying the sufficiency of Scripture? That sounds as bad as saying that every woman who works outside the home is blaspheming Scripture. That’s pretty serious stuff. Autonomous is a word Doug likes to use in conjunction with antinomianism, so this statement is effectually saying that if you don’t vote for the right “biblical” candidate, you don’t believe the Bible and you are an antinomian. More fear tactics.

Others are so fearful of certain outcomes, that there is little reasoning with them.

But nobody really likes to be called “fearful,” so let’s attack those who use logic and reason to sort through the issues and win them over with lots of honey instead!

They want to condemn their brethren by saying that a vote for X, is really a vote for Y.

Aha! This is taken straight from my letter to Doug! He does remember! In this case, I said that a vote for Peroutka was really a vote for Kerry, in that it took votes away from Bush. When an election is as close as the last presidential election was, if voters who would otherwise have voted for Bush ended up voting for someone who didn’t have a snowball’s-chance-in-hell of winning, that was one less vote for Bush for each person who voted for Peroutka. Simple math shows that taking votes away from Bush increases Kerry’s numbers proportionately. But is it really condemnation to point out the obvious? Or is it just more fear tactics to use a trigger word for Christians like “condemn”?

Their election fears seem sometimes to rise to a self-righteous hysteria, governed more by emotions than objective standards.

Self-righteous hysteria! I can’t say for sure, but if Doug is speaking of me here, my hysteria was rather calm in that I didn’t let anyone else know about it except for Mark and Doug. Of course, telling others that they are reaching the level of being hysterical is certainly going to win them over to your point of view. And then we have emotions versus objective standards. I listed objective standards all throughout my paper in opposition to Doug’s emotional stance for Peroutka. In fact, I don’t believe he liked it when I suggested that perhaps Peroutka supporters were so heavenly minded that they were no earthly good in this election. I had a very difficult time finding any objective standards in Doug’s position. This is just more fear mongering on Doug’s part.

The Bible has the answer to the ethical chaos of fear-driven voting, pragmatic voting, “ends-justifies-the-means” voting, and “lesser-of-two-evils” voting.

Fear, fear, fear.

It explores the blessing presented in Scripture to all who will enter the ballot box with supreme confidence that the Lord sovereignly reigns, that He is more pleased with our obedience than with our rationalistic, extra-biblical voting strategies, and that the greatest hope for America is not found in the outcome of any one election, but in the persevering witness of the Church as God’s representative in America, to uphold his non-negotiable standards and righteousness.

Perhaps Doug Phillips and I will vote for the same candidate this year, but it will be with two very different motivations. I am not driven by fear that I will lose my spiritual birthright if I vote for the wrong candidate. I do not think I will cease to believe in the Bible if I vote for the wrong guy. I won’t get hysterical or self righteous, but I might use a little logic and reasoning and seek to understand the issues.

I don’t think God has promised me any blessings for voting for “God’s” candidate. God is sovereign and He will put the person He wants as president in office, with or without my vote. But Doug does have one statement right here: “He is more pleased with our obedience than with our … extra-biblical voting strategies.” We haven’t looked at any verses in this short article on Doug’s extra-biblical voting strategies, but we will continue to look at his political ideas this year and we will find that they are, indeed, very extra-biblical. Jesus gave us freedom. We live in a free country. Please do not be under the bondage that you must follow Doug’s voting strategies or God will not be pleased with you. You are free to vote for whomever you choose this year.

But in the end, it probably doesn’t really matter what my opinion is on the matter because I am, after all, only a woman, and God doesn’t allow women to vote!

We went to a rally in Victoria, Texas today. We were told that the Constitution guarantees us certain freedoms. It was good to see people enjoying their freedom today.

Bankruptcy Buys Joe Taylor Time

Artifact’s sale may save Crosbyton fossil museum

By Henri Brickey | AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

Friday, January 25, 2008

A week after filing for bankruptcy and selling his prized mastodon skull, the owner of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum in Crosbyton says he should be able to stay in business.

“We think we’re going to be able to continue business as usual and get this thing straightened out,” Joe Taylor, the museum’s owner, said Thursday.

Two weeks ago, Taylor, 63, was facing the possible closure of his museum due to a legal battle that left him in a financial strait jacket. The sheriff’s department was on the verge of forcing Taylor to sell his museum, which he opened about a decade ago.

Taylor’s only hope was to make enough money by selling his mastodon skull to pay his legal bills and settlement costs.

The mastodon skull, the largest ever found, was sold for $191,200 last week at an auction in Dallas. Of that money, Taylor will get to keep about $128,000 – almost enough to pay the $136,000 he is required to pay in damages stemming from a disagreement with a former colleague over discovery rights to an Allosaurus skeleton.

“This whole thing should have never happened,” Taylor said.

The $128,000 from the sale was enough to call off the sheriff’s sale,

though Taylor still has a few details to work out and still owes the remaining $8,000.

The ordeal began after a landowner outside Dinosaur, Colo., contacted Taylor in 2001 and asked him to oversee a joint dig involving a group of aspiring home-schooled junior archaeologists. The team found the Allosaurus skeleton, but soon afterward a debate began over who should be credited with the discovery of the fossil.

In April 2004, the two sides agreed to a settlement, which ensured Taylor would be paid $124,843 for his share of the Allosaurus, which was sold to a third party for $200,000.

Part of the agreement also stated neither side could disparage the other without facing a fine.

Between June 2005 and January 2007, Taylor made at least 20 attempts to explain what happened at the Allosaurus dig near Dinosaur through various posts on the Internet, letters and e-mails.

A mediator later found each of Taylor’s public postings regarding the dig constituted a disparaging comment, which in the end cost Taylor more than $130,000 in damages owed to the group he had formerly settled with.

The Biblical Family: Defining Patriarchy and Why God is Masculine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Defining Patriarchy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wall Street Journal: Showing Doug Phillips Grace in the Public Eye

[Update: One of the pastors who was interviewed for this article, Hershael York, has written about how his interview was taken out of context.  That is one of the reasons I refused to do an interview in the first place.  Whether the interviewer took my position or Doug’s position out of context, neither possibility was acceptable to me.]

I mentioned earlier that the Wall Street Journal had contacted me to tell my story about Doug Phillips. I refused to tell my story to the public, considering this to be a church matter, so they chose a different story, but wrote an article on the recently renewed practice of church discipline and shunning. Here are a few quotes from the article, but I highly encourage you to go read the entire article, by clicking on the title below.

Banned From Church
Reviving an ancient practice, churches are exposing sinners and shunning those who won’t repent.
By ALEXANDRA ALTER

On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. “And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P.”

Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff’s officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs.

The charge was trespassing, but Mrs. Caskey’s real offense, in her pastor’s view, was spiritual. Several months earlier, when she had questioned his authority, he’d charged her with spreading “a spirit of cancer and discord” and expelled her from the congregation. “I’ve been shunned,” she says.

Her story reflects a growing movement among some conservative Protestant pastors to bring back church discipline, an ancient practice in which suspected sinners are privately confronted and then publicly castigated and excommunicated if they refuse to repent. While many Christians find such practices outdated, pastors in large and small churches across the country are expelling members for offenses ranging from adultery and theft to gossiping, skipping service and criticizing church leaders.

Scholars estimate that 10% to 15% of Protestant evangelical churches practice church discipline — about 14,000 to 21,000 U.S. congregations in total. Increasingly, clashes within churches are spilling into communities, splitting congregations and occasionally landing church leaders in court after congregants, who believed they were confessing in private, were publicly shamed.

In the past decade, more than two dozen lawsuits related to church discipline have been filed as congregants sue pastors for defamation, negligent counseling and emotional injury, according to the Religion Case Reporter, a legal-research database.

Courts have often refused to hear such cases on the grounds that churches are protected by the constitutional right to free religious exercise, but some have sided with alleged sinners. In 2003, a woman and her husband won a defamation suit against the Iowa Methodist conference and its superintendent after he publicly accused her of “spreading the spirit of Satan” because she gossiped about her pastor. A district court rejected the case, but the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the woman’s appeal on the grounds that the letter labeling her a sinner was circulated beyond the church.

(Quoted with permission.)

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Thanks to Cindy Kunsman for pointing this out.

Mea Culpa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God has even given me a new name!

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

Jen Epstein

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


III. Forgive Those Who Have Wronged You


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

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

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

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

This man had victory over bitterness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet He has forgiven you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoodwinked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Newspaper Article About Joe Taylor

Fossil find could lead to ruin of Crosbyton museum owner

By Henri Brickey | AVALANCHE-JOURNAL

Sunday, January 13, 2008
It seemed like the discovery of a lifetime for Joe Taylor – half of an Allosaurus dinosaur skeleton with a perfectly intact head.

Instead, unearthing the extremely rare fossil marked the beginning of a chain of events that may ultimately result in Taylor’s financial ruin.

“It has been nothing but a nightmare,” Taylor said recently from the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, which he opened in Crosbyton almost a decade ago. The museum features hundreds of actual dinosaur bones and casts, some made from fossils Taylor found and later sold to a museum or university.

Seven years after Taylor and a team of amateur archaeologists dug up the Allosaurus, Taylor is on the verge of losing his museum due to a drawn-out legal battle over rights of that discovery.

He’s hopeful the sale later this month of a mastodon skull, perhaps his most prized possession, will net enough money to save his business.

As a creationist paleontologist – who believes dinosaurs lived thousands and not millions of years ago – there’s no doubt Taylor has a maverick reputation according to many in the dinosaur-digging community.

But it’s not some creation-bashing evolutionist plotting against Taylor.

It’s one of his own, another Christian paleontologist and former colleague of Taylor who is suing him for almost $130,000 over the Allosaurus debacle.

That’s the most heart-wrenching part of this whole ordeal, Taylor says.

“This is friendly fire,” he said. “It’s greed. It’s about money and fame.”

Back in time

The Allosaurus was a large, meat-eating dinosaur that lived between 155 and 145 million years ago, according to most scientists.

Taylor, and other creationists, say the Allosaurus and other dinosaurs lived on Earth several thousand years ago and were wiped out by a worldwide flood survived by Noah. The museum features a display on Noah and his ark.

But that’s a whole other story.

This story is about one particular Allosaurus.

Back in 2001, Taylor was contacted by a landowner outside Dinosaur, Colo., who wanted Taylor to oversee a joint effort between a group of aspiring home-schooled junior archaeologists and a professional excavation team. The team struck dino gold when it found the Allosaurus. That, they all agree on.

But there are several versions of exactly who in the group should be credited with the discovery.

For several years after the find, both sides issued their versions of what happened at the excavation site.

A documentary was made, Web sites were established, letter-writing campaigns were organized – a full-fledged battle of words between the two sides erupted.

Then, in April 2004, everyone sat down and agreed to a settlement. The agreement ensured Taylor would be paid $124,843 for his share of the Allosaurus, which was sold to a third party for $200,000.

Part of the agreement, called a non-disparagement clause, stated neither side could talk badly about the other any more.

That’s where Taylor dug himself into a hole. A $130,000 hole.

That’s how much Taylor has to pay for the 20 disparaging comments he made against the claimants through various posts on the Internet, letters and e-mails between June 2005 and January 2007.

At $5,000 per disparaging comment, Taylor’s crusade to clear his name cost him $100,000, plus $29,399 in legal fees he has to fork over to the claimant – costing him more than he made on the Allosaurus find.

“Of course I can’t come up with anything near that,” Taylor said.

And that doesn’t include the thousands of dollars in legal costs Taylor has already paid leading up to the settlement.

Going for broke

Taylor says he’s in a classic David versus Goliath scenario, fighting against what he calls a mega-church with deep pockets and even deeper political influence.

Taylor didn’t want to name the organization he’s fighting, fearing that would add to his $100,000 bill.

“I can’t fight against a million dollars,” he said. “This has wiped us out. What are the chances that I can rebuild this business from scratch at 63 years old without a penny to spend?”

He has already sold a triceratops molding to help pay for the legal battle.

“That was hard but I had to do it to survive,” Taylor said. “It felt like I was selling my daughter to the highest bidder.”

In the meantime, Taylor is hoping to either get an appeal filed or earn enough money from the sale of a mastodon skull to pay off his legal debts and remain in business.

The mastodon skull, the largest ever found, will be auctioned January 20 in Dallas as part of the Signature Natural History Auction.

Bids for the “Lone Star” skull, which Taylor took possession of in 2004 after a crew found it in a gravel pit near La Grange, start at $120,000.

“Hopefully, some rich Texan will buy it for $1 million,” Taylor said.

If not, Taylor says he faces an uncertain future, which could include closure of his museum.

Choice Morsels

Reprinted with permission from the Winepress Publishing Group.

When Blogging Crosses the Line

When real people and real lives are hurt.

When private issues are aired online.

When accusations are made without reasonable proof.

When mental diagnoses are made.

When Christians tear down other Christians.

When beliefs are attributed to a certain person even though they never claimed those beliefs.

When someone is accused of certain things because they are part of a certain group.

When it produces fighting and quarrels among us.

When motives are falsely assumed or questioned.

When we theorize about other people.

When issues are dealt with emotionally rather than rationally to the point that we don’t “hear” the other person.

When someone is shunned or others ask to have them shunned in some way.

When there is guilt by association.

When you search through someone’s blog looking for dirt.

When you can’t take a joke.

When offers to explain one’s position are rejected or twisted.

When apologies are not accepted or believed.

When only one side of the story is presented.

When there is no room for grace.

When there is no room for a change of heart.

When there is no room for a different opinion.

When there is gossip.

When Christ isn’t glorified.

And I am guilty of some of these, so I want to repent.  My New Year’s resolution is to glorify God in all my blogging and to refrain from bringing harm to anyone through my online activities.

There is a lot of blogging being done in the name of Christ, but I wonder if He is really pleased by what His children are doing?  I think I’m going to ask myself some questions before I post an article or comment from now on:

Will Christ be pleased with this?

Will this hurt anyone?

Will this edify?

Am I willing to say this same thing out loud to a group of Christians?

Will unbelievers who may read my words be drawn to Christ because of what I say?

Am I setting a good example for my children?

Am I giving grace to others?

Am I allowing room for differences of opinion where God allows that same difference?

Matt. 12:36 “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”

Theonomist, Antinomian, or Supernomian?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another commandment repeated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about the Sabbath?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s an interesting command in the New Covenant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out With the Old, In With the New

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

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

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

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

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

from Mount Sinaigives birth to bondage

is Mount Sinai

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

is in bondage with her children

was born according to the flesh

persecutes him who was born according to the Spirit

shall not be a heir with the son of the freewoman

a yoke of bondage

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

the Jerusalem abovewhich is free and the mother of us all

children of promise

born according to the Spirit

the son of the freewoman

free

given liberty

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

Let’s look at another one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was between them? The middle wall of separation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A First Look at Theonomy and the Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mosaic covenant was also called the First Covenant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then fulfilled:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Theonomy or Antinomianism?

Black or white. Right or wrong. Sin or giving glory to God. One theonomist recently said, “But one thing is certain — play (like the rest of life) is never neutral.” If there is one area of a Christian’s life that shouldn’t be neutral, it is one’s understanding of the Word of God. But does taking a firm stance on a point of doctrine necessarily mean that it is God’s stance? Or does it mean that all Christians who don’t agree with you are evil? Theonomists usually label every Christian who does not agree with their position on the Law of God as antinomian — without law. Are these the only two positions possible or, like the false dilemma of patriarchy vs. feminism, is a theonomy vs. antinomianism a false dichotomy as well?

One of the films that was shown at the recent San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (SAICFF) is called “In Defense of God’s Law.” This doctrinal presentation by Scott Eash also features clips of other prominent theonomists teaching various aspects of theonomy. I have recently been made aware that many Christians don’t really know what theonomy is, so I have decided to critique the biblical teaching aspects of this DVD. First, we will look at the position of theonomy according to this movie. While we were at a Reformed church, our pastor never taught us directly his doctrinal beliefs such as reconstruction, dominion theology, and theonomy, but as I listened to the teachings on this movie, I realized that we had still been heavily indoctrinated in theonomy, to the point where I felt that all this material was so familiar it was second nature to me and I found it extremely easy to follow, often being able to predict exactly what they would say next.

Let’s begin with the movie’s main assumption that a Christian must be either a theonomist or antinomian. I will explain the theonomist’s position, according to the movie, and then we will look at God’s Word and see what it says. The structure of the movie was rather awkward, so I will be discussing it in an order that is easier to follow. This is intended to be an overview here and not an in-depth study.

Let’s start with a theonomist’s definitions. Theonomy is a combination of two words: God and law; therefore theonomy simply means God’s Law. Antinomianism has the same root (nomy = law) and anti means against, so antinomianism is simply against God’s Law. Theonomists believe that these are the only two possible positions one could take and the whole movie is defending the position of theonomy against what they believe is the position of the antinomian. Theonomy can take several different views, so we will deal with the position presented in this movie. This version of theonomy is that while the ceremonial laws have been abrogated, all the other laws of the whole Bible still apply to us, and not only to Christians, but to all people for all time, all civilizations, nations, and governments. They call this remaining portion of God’s Law, moral law.

They also state that there are five definitions of the word “law” in the Bible:

1. The 5 books of Moses (the Law and the Prophets)
2. The Mosaic Covenant
3. The moral law of God
4. Legalism (there is no Greek word for legalism, so Paul uses “law” when he means legalism)
5. Legal principles of action (i.e., the law of the spirit of life)

The Old Testament word for law was Torah which, in Hebrew, means “to give direction, to teach, to instruct.” Therefore, God’s Law gives direction to every area of our life.

This movie claims that the Biblical structure of the Law is divided into the moral section, which includes the civil or case laws, and the ceremonial, which was abolished. As proof for these two distinctions, they use the following verses:

Ps. 40:6-8 “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”

Prov. 21:3 “To do righteousness and justice
Is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”

Are these verses proof that God’s Law is divided into two categories: moral and ceremonial? They go on to state that Scripture teaches that the moral law still applies but the ceremonial laws were for the Old Covenant, which is now passed, but they do not say where Scripture tells us that the moral laws still apply. The ceremonial laws, by their definition, include the priesthood, the sacrifices, their rituals (feasts, baptisms, saying certain prayers, wearing certain articles, etc.), and dietary laws, and were all illustrations that pointed to Christ. They gave several Scriptures to support that these laws no longer apply, such as Heb. 10:1, Eph. 2:13-15, and Heb. 9:10. Since the ceremonial laws were abolished, they claim that it logically follows that the moral laws should still be obeyed. (Do they stone their rebellious children?)

To further illustrate the division of Law in God’s Word, they gave a picture of a tree. The roots are the two greatest commandments. From those two commandments come the Ten Commandments, which are like the trunk of the tree. From there, all the case/civil laws “branch” off. To demonstrate that you can’t have the Ten Commandments without all the other laws (except ceremonial), they ask how we can subscribe to a summary of all the case laws, but not the case laws themselves.

How are we to use the case/civil laws in today’s world? By meditating on them day and night, we will be able to discern the underlying principles of each law which will give us direction for a particular decision. Our goal should be to discern moral principles from the moral laws and then extrapolate principles of justice, according to this movie. One teacher stated that this was the flexibility and glory of the principial approach of God’s Law to life. In other words, instead of looking at the plain teaching of the verse, we are to search for the underlying principle and, with much flexibility, apply it to our modern lives. Are you beginning to see how theonomists interpret Scripture now?

These civil laws also apply to all governments today because of 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.”

As proof that obedience to God’s Law is an essential part of the Christian life, they began this movie by appealing to the authority of people like Calvin and Webster, who states in his 1828 dictionary that “moral law is the law of God which prescribes the moral or social duties, and prohibits the transgression of them.” They go on to appeal to the tradition of our American heritage, saying that much of God’s moral law is written right in our own Constitution. They also quote several Old Testament passages showing various people who loved the Law of God.

Four reasons why the Law of God must be obeyed today:
1. God’s moral standards never change; they are based on God’s character.

Heb. 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

I’m sure we all agree that God never changes. Now notice how they put these two verses together:

Rev. 15:4 “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”

Rom. 7:12 “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”

And their conclusion is that since God’s moral law is a reflection of His character (verse?), therefore God’s moral law cannot change, because God doesn’t change. In other words, in the above two verses, since God is holy, and God’s Law is holy, and since God doesn’t change, therefore God’s Law cannot change either. They say they cannot change because they reflect the transcendent, immutable, eternal character of God Himself that cannot go away. (With this reasoning, does it follow that since we are a holy nation, and we are to be holy even as He is holy, that we will never change either?)

These next few verses are intended to show another reason why the moral law hasn’t changed:

Jam. 4:12 “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.”

Is. 33:22 “For the LORD is our Judge,
The LORD is our Lawgiver,
The LORD is our King;
He will save us;”

So because the Lord is our Lawgiver, and He doesn’t change, therefore His Law wouldn’t change either, according to this reasoning. There was progress of revelation in the giving of the Law, but one unchanging Law.

Ps. 119:160 “The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”

Is this verse talking about God’s Law or His judgments?

They do agree that the ceremonial laws did change. I wonder if they were not a reflection of God’s character? They do rightly state that every law is eternal for all time unless God changes it.

Since the moral law of God is a reflection of God’s nature, they then conclude that the moral laws must also be universal, applying to all men, in all places, for all times.

2. The only alternative to theonomy is autonomy is the second reason why they say we must obey the Law of God today. Here we go again with only two options. Autonomy has the same root again (nomy — law) and auto means self, so autonomy is self law, or those who are a law unto themselves. Man decides for himself what is right or wrong. If we don’t follow every law in the whole Bible, except for the ceremonial, we have become our own lawgiver and create our own moral standards. Since God’s Law must be the only standard of right and wrong, and they claim that autonomy is the only alternative to God’s Law, and we would all agree that autonomy is wrong, therefore we must obey God’s Law.

3. The New Testament writers affirm the continuance of God’s Law according to the following verses:

Rom. 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”Rom. 8:3-4 “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

I Jn. 2:4 “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Rom. 7:7 “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.'”

Rom. 7:16 “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.”

Rom. 8:7-9 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

I Tim. 1:8-11 “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”

I like this last one especially: “We know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully.” I think that’s what we need to determine.

4. Jesus affirms the continuance of God’s Law.

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

Matt. 5:17-19 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

They say that Jesus did not change God’s Law in the Sermon on the Mount; He was rather correcting misunderstandings in the Oral Law, as evidenced by His use of the words “You have heard that is was said” rather than “It is written.” Jesus was giving the authoritative interpretation of the Law as it was originally intended by God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not introducing any new moral standards, He is sweeping away the traditions of men, putting to rest the Oral Law, and restoring for His people the true meaning of that moral law.

The Purpose of the Law:

1. The Law of God reveals to us the righteous nature of God.
2. The Law convicts men of sin.
3. The Law teaches the Christian man the way of righteousness; it shows us how to walk as Christians.
4. The Law teaches the righteous standards for society.

I wonder what God’s Word says is the purpose of the Law? They state that from the very beginning, God’s Law was designed to be the standard of ethics, therefore the Law must continue to apply to all nations today.

Eight misconceptions they apply to “antinomians”:

1. Antinomians believe that the Law of God was designed for OT Israelites only.

Their reply: If the Law of God was not intended for Gentiles, why did God punish Gentiles for breaking His Law? See these examples:

Lev. 24:22 “You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God.”

Deut. 4:6-8 “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?”

Is. 51:4 “Listen to Me, My people;
And give ear to Me, O My nation:
For law will proceed from Me,
And I will make My justice rest
As a light of the peoples.”

Lev. 18:24-25 “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.”

And Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did God destroy them if not for breaking God’s law? They claim that Israel was to be an example for all other nations. “The moral law is not a local Hebraism. The Ten Commandments are not new revelation. Adultery did not become wrong on Mt. Sinai. Not even the Sabbath became law on Mt. Sinai. Honor your father and mother was not a new concept when the Ten Commandments came around. This is very important because the moral law of God has always existed.”

More proof that the Law of God was not given only to the Israelites:

Gen. 1:28 (The Dominion Mandate) “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. 26:4-5 “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

It is implied in Gen. 6 in the account of why God destroyed the earth with a flood.

These verses logically imply, they claim, God’s moral standard always applied. Therefore God intended His Law to be obeyed by other nations and not only the Jews.

2. Antinomians believe that the Law was designed as a means to obtain salvation, but Christians are saved through faith, therefore the Law doesn’t apply to us.

Their correct response: God did not intend for His Law to be used as a means of salvation. No one has ever been saved by obedience to the Law. Justification is by faith alone.

3. Antinomians believe that Jesus did away with God’s Law.

Their reply:

Matt. 5:17-19 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus said He didn’t come to destroy the Law. He fulfilled the Law in three ways:
1. He kept the Law.
2. He set forth the true meaning of the Law.
3. He fulfilled the prophecies of the Law, both verbal and typological.

They interpret the above verse to mean that those who will be great are those who are committed to doing and teaching even the least of the Old Testament commands (like tithing their spices?).

4. Antinomians say that the Law restricts our freedom in Christ.

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

They claim that antinomians interpret this verse to say that the Law of God is the yoke of bondage, but their interpretation is that Paul is only referring to a corrupted view of the Law here.

Where do we get our liberty?

Ps. 119:44-45 “So shall I keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.
And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.”

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

II Cor. 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Gal. 3:13 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),”

They noted that this verse says that we are free only from the curse of the Law and not from the Law itself. The other verses are intended to show that our liberty comes from keeping the Law.

5. Antinonmians say that strict obedience to the Law is legalism.

Their reply: Was David a legalist when he delighted in the Law of God? Was Jesus a legalist when He said to obey His commandments? Was Paul a legalist when he said he loved God’s Law?

I Tim. 1:8 “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,”

They say that if we use God’s Law lawfully, it is not legalism.

So what is legalism then? Legalism is not about law, it is using God’s Law in a way He never intended for man to use it. (Great definition!)

There are four facets of legalism:

1. Attempting to earn salvation
2. Emphasizing the letter of the Law without regard for the spirit of the Law, which results only in outward performance
3. Emphasizing human effort rather than obedience by the Spirit’s power
4. Adding human tradition to the Law of God

God doesn’t call us to legalism; He calls us to obedience. We need to obey because we love God.

6. Antinomians claim that we don’t need the Law which is written in the Scriptures because the Law is written on our hearts.

Their reply: God places His Law on our hearts. Does that mean that we should appeal to our hearts? God’s Law is flawless, but we are not flawless. We cannot depend on the Law written on our hearts because our hearts are wicked. Our conscience, given through general revelation, gives us only a very dim knowledge of the Law. Because of the sinful nature of mankind, we cannot be trusted to determine God’s standards. Therefore the Scriptures must be the only standard of infallible truth from God.

7. Antinomians say that the New Testament writers reject the Law of God.

They use Acts 15 to prove that the New Testament writers did not reject the Law of God.

Acts 15:1 “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.'”

They say that this verse shows that the context of Acts 15 was only about ceremonial Law, that they were asking if we were saved or justified by performing ceremonial laws, and that the council of Jerusalem came to the conclusion that ceremonial laws do not save.

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

This verse shows that John said to obey the moral Law as well, supposedly.

8. Antinomians say that law and grace are contrary to each other.

Their reply: Law and grace work together in God’s plan, as evidenced by the following:

Ps. 78:36-38 “Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth,
And they lied to Him with their tongue;
For their heart was not steadfast with Him,
Nor were they faithful in His covenant.
But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,
And did not destroy them.
Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,
And did not stir up all His wrath;”

Ps. 145:8 “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.”

Deut. 24:19 “When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

Deut. 13:13-15 “‘Corrupt men have gone out from among you and enticed the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Let us go and serve other gods”’—which you have not known— then you shall inquire, search out, and ask diligently. And if it is and certain that such an abomination was committed among you, you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it, all that is in it and its livestock—with the edge of the sword.”

Deut. 17:2-6 “If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”

Deut. 19:16-19 “If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.”

The above verses show that God designed His Law to protect us from evil, that God has always been a merciful God, and that He cared about people in the Old Testament also. Is that all that grace means to them?

Does the New Testament say we are not under Law but under grace? Yes.

Rom. 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

When this verse says that we are not under law, it actually means legalism because “law” here is used without the definite article “the” — we are not under legalism. When Paul speaks of law, he is often referring to legalism, not moral law. To be under law, therefore, is to be governed in your approach to sin. Paul is saying that we are not governed, as Christians, in our approach to sin by law. Our resources in our battle against sin are not simply limited to commands to “do” or not to “do.” The law can only command but it doesn’t supply the power to keep it. It’s up to you to obey it. To be under law is simply to be under commands and it’s up to you in your own strength to obey it. Paul says that we are now under grace and that means that as we battle with sin, we are governed by the principle of grace in that battle; we now have all the resources of God’s grace so that we can overcome sin in the flesh. Therefore, sin shall not have dominion over us.

Since the remainder of chapter 6 condemns sin, and sin is the transgression of the Law (I Jn. 3:4), therefore if we disobey God’s Law, we are sinning.

I Jn. 3:6 “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.”

This verse implies that we should keep God’s Law.

So, the bottom line of theonomy again: The whole Law (except ceremonial) applies to ALL people for ALL time.

I realize that there are readers here of many different persuasions on this issue. My objective in this particular article is merely to show not only what theonomists believe (and strongly advocate), but how they interpret Scripture as well. We have talked about improper use of Scripture several times here, and this will help us to understand where some Christians are coming from. Feel free to examine theonomy’s beliefs here, but please stick to proper interpretation of Scripture and don’t quote outside sources like the Westminster Confession.

Next, we will examine if theonomy’s views line up with Scripture or not. I gave a few clues here and there in this article. But this issue of theonomy is becoming prevalent in patriarchal conferences and materials and it is imperative to know if they are teaching God’s truths or false teachings.

So, where do you fall on this either/or argument: theonomy or antinomianism?

Vision Forum Views on Women: Monstrous Regiment and Baby Dolls

From Doug’s Blog today:

The “Best of Festival” Jubilee Award — a $10,000 grand prize — went to The Monstrous Regiment of Women, a fifty-four minute documentary directed and produced by the Gunn Brothers. Featuring an all star, all female cast — including Phyllis Schlafly and F. Carolyn Graglia — the film demonstrates how feminism has restricted choices for all women, brought heartache to the lives of many, and perpetuated an unprecedented holocaust through legalized abortion.

“We made Monstrous Regiment because we believe that feminism is one of the most detrimental philosophies effecting our church, family, and government,” remarked Colin Gunn, whose wife Emily co-wrote and narrated the film. “We want to thank the [Festival] for recognizing the importance of this message. We are privileged and honored to receive this award.”

This marked the second Jubilee Award for the Gunn Brothers. In 2004, they won “Best Political” for their film, Shaky Town. In addition to landing the festivals’ top honor in 2007, The Monstrous Regiment of Women took runner-up for “Best Documentary.”

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From a Vision Forum email advertising their new baby doll today:

The way a child plays will influence who that child will become. And the tools of play are an important part of the equation.

Play is preparation for adulthood. Play can prepare a child for maturity or for teen rebellion. Play may breed noble dreams and actions, or it may reinforce dark and unhealthy attitudes. Play may reinforce biblical gender roles (women as mothers and homemakers; men as defenders and protectors of women; etc.), or it may supplant them with the stereotypes perpetuated by modern feminism.

But one thing is certain — play (like the rest of life) is never neutral.

Our culture is engaged in a battle for the heart and soul of the family. It is even reflected in the present doll wars. At stake is whether the play life of our children will reflect efforts to rebuild a culture of virtuous boyhood and girlhood, or whether it will focus on training the next generation of me-centered, empowered, feminists.

There is a reason why feminists hate the message of the Beautiful Girlhood Collection. They hate it because so many of the contributions to this collection emphasize a message of holy submission to the priorities of the Lord and not the feminist empowerment model. They hate it because it represents many of the historic family values of the old era of Christendom. And they hate the constant emphasis that a girl’s play should pave the way for her to better embrace the feminine models and admonitions presented in such Scriptures as Proverbs 31, Titus 2, and I Peter 3. We disagree with the feminists. We also disagree with any corporate model for success which capitalizes on the most negative influences in modern youth culture to market products to children. And we take seriously our mission to encourage, bless, and promote Christian family culture for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Here we are with a typical either-or dilemma from Doug Phillips and Vision Forum: all women either hold to Doug’s version of patriarchy or they are feminists. Which camp are you in? Are there really only two choices biblically?

Life in Perfect

I was going to wait a few more days to open my blog back up again, but I just read an article called “Life in Perfect” that is simply too good to pass up! Warning: Don’t read this article while drinking hot liquids. Too much laughter while drinking hot liquids can cause damage to your computer components.

Here’s a small sample from the article:

Where the children are seen and not heard.

And so are the women.

Where vile American Girl dolls are banned.

Where people talk and write like a walking 1865 dictionary.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I won’t post any more of it here. What a great satire, “Ingrid”!

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

Misplaced principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Renegade rhetoric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Towards the Self-Government of Our Collective Tongues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Abshire on Equating Personal Differences with Cultic Teaching

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

Dr. Abshire on Accusation without Attestation

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

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

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

Dr. Abshire on the Duty to Perform Basic Research

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

Dr. Abshire on the Misrepresentation of Actual Citations

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

Dr. Abshire on Historic Doctrines vs. Modern Feminist Assumptions

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

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

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

The War against 1900 Years of Established Church Orthodoxy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the article.

Is Doug Phillips a Cult Leader?

” In general, a cult is a small religious group outside the established churches, usually with a charismatic leader who is a strong authority figure. One psychiatrist has described cults as “religions that haven’t grown up yet.” Ray Moseley, Chicago Tribune, Dec. 3, 1978

Doug Phillips seems obsessed with the use of the word “cult” this week, so we shall attempt to determine why he is so fixated on the term. The following is an eclectic mix of certain cult characteristics I found on various lists. The general rule of thumb seems to be that if a group exhibits at least half of these characteristics, it qualifies as a sociological cult. I am not going to list the characteristics of a heretical cult because it is quite obvious that those criteria do not apply. This is merely a list for discussion purposes. Everyone is encouraged to interact with this list regarding Doug Phillips, BCA, or Vision Forum. Based upon the following criteria, does the cult label apply?

  1. Excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to the leader.
  2. Dependency upon the group or leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without leader involvement.
  3. Seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the leader in personal behavior.
  4. Hyperactivity centered on the leader’s agenda, which seems to supersede any personal goals or individual interests.
  5. The leader is not accountable to any authorities.
  6. Anything the leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
  7. The leader’s belief system, ideology, and practices are law.
  8. They insist on total, unquestioning obedience and submission to the group, both actions AND thoughts.
  9. They are always right.
  10. They are the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.
  11. Whenever they are criticized or questioned, it is characterized as “persecution”.
  12. The leader claims new revelation from God, within the past 200 years, in which all but their group are rejected by God. They, alone, speak for God.
  13. Focus is on group doctrine and writings. The Bible, if used at all, is referred to one verse at time to “prove” group teachings.
  14. Group dwells on members’ “sinful nature” (many use public confession). Guilt and fear arising from “failing God” are magnified to manipulate new member.
  15. Followers feel they can never be “good”
  16. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  17. Critical thinking is discouraged as prideful and sinful, blind acceptance encouraged.
  18. Use of mind control techniques (taken from Dr. Robert Jay Lifton’s book “Thought Reform & the Psychology of Totalism“)
    1. Mileu Control: Control of the environment and communication within the environment
    2. Mystical Manipulation: Seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated
    3. Demand for Purity: The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group)
    4. Confession: Cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one confesses to one’s sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism
    5. Sacred Science: The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology
    6. Loading the Language: Words are given new meanings — the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way
    7. Doctrine Over Person: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question —
    8. Dispensing of Existence: Since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist
  19. The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).
  20. The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader and members.
  21. The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, everyone outside of group lumped under one label.
  22. Study and service become mandatory. New member becomes too busy to question. Family, friends, jobs and hobbies are squeezed out, further isolating the new member.
  23. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  24. The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members’ participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group.
  25. The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members.
  26. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  27. Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.
  28. Recruiters are told that “Satan” will cause relatives and friend to say bad things about the group to try to “steal them away from God.” Recruits soon believes group members, alone, are truthful/trustworthy.
  29. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  30. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  31. The group is preoccupied with making money.
  32. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  33. Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.
  34. Group “love” and acceptance becomes dependent upon obedience and submission. Unconditional love…isn’t.
  35. Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
  36. The most loyal members feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
  37. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  38. Former followers are at best considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

Doug Phillips on “Marking” Those Who Cause Division

From Doug’s blog:

There is nothing new under the sun. There always have been and will be accusers of the brethren, scoffers and unscrupulous individuals who seek to divide the body of Christ. The battlefield may change shape and size, but the issues are essentially the same. As we press forward into the 21st century, we should aspire to be like the sons of Issachar who understood the times, were blessed of God and given positions of leadership. This means marking those who bring false accusations, or who prepare the body of Christ for great persecution by throwing around the “C” word to describe people who may differ on matters which clearly fall within the pale of orthodoxy.

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

This seems to be a little loaded to me. Accusers of the brethren? This term is generally associated with Satan. I sincerely hope that Doug is not using the term in a biblical fashion, but rather in a more general meaning of the individual words. So, is it wrong for one brother (sister) to accuse another? Yes, I have accused Doug Phillips of many things, but hasn’t he likewise accused me? Using this term in conjunction with scoffers and unscrupulous individuals seems to put it in the category of highly inflammatory language. This seems to be a pattern when Doug writes against someone. His response (yes, he wrote it) to my story on his BCA church blog contained many such examples of provocative and incitive language.

Is my purpose here to divide the body of Christ? No. My purpose is to divide the body of Christ from false teachers. I have not asked anyone to take sides on this issue. In fact, I wish there weren’t any sides to take. Rather than taking sides, I propose that we work through the issues. Rather than having a divisive spirit, let’s look to the Bible to see what truth looks like. When someone tells me my doctrine is in error, I assume that their purpose is not to pick a fight, but to see that I know the truth, because the truth will set me free. That is not divisive, but is ultimately uniting. When I expose unbiblical or extra-biblical teachings here, I am not doing so to be divisive, I am attempting to provide truth that will set people free.

Doug then says to mark those who bring false accusations. I could not agree more, Doug. And that is exactly what I am doing here. Doug Phillips has falsely accused me. I have laid out all the evidence. If anything I have said is false, where is the evidence to the contrary? I am very willing to have everyone examine it. Doug, bringing false accusations against another is a very serious sin. You have done so, and this blog “marks” you as such. Should I now call people to avoid you, as the verse you quoted mentions?

Come, let us reason together.

Doug Phillips Asks Me to Shut Down My Blog

From Doug’s blog today:

SBC President says Internet “Filled with Character Assassination”

SBC President, Frank Page says new considerations are necessary in the church to discern how to use the internet for the glory of God. This is evidenced by many uncharitable situations like this one: Southern Baptist Convention President, Frank Page was involved in a blog discussing controversial issues, and reports that “the blog degenerated quickly into a personal attack place”

The Greenville News reports, “The bigger issue, Page said, is that members of local churches have taken to using blogs to carry on bitter debates about problems within their own congregations”. Page pleaded, “For Christ’s sake, for the sake of the lost, stop!”

Do you think Doug is trying to send me a message?

Doug, I will stop blogging when you repent. This is not a personal attack against you. This is not a bitter debate that should have stayed within BCA. It should have been settled within BCA a long time ago, granted, but, Doug, you have a pattern of hurting and abusing fellow believers outside of BCA as well. To the extent that a public person’s influence extends in abuse, a public warning is also necessary to that same extent. Doug, your abuse and tyranny have extended around the globe, your false teachings have extended around the globe. This warning now goes out to that same extent. I would like nothing better than to shut down this blog. The ball is completely in your court, Doug. Help me shut this down by repenting.

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.