NCFIC: A Vision Forum Retread

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

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

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

An Open Letter to my former leader:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless,

Andrew

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

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

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

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Doug Phillips and Blissful Ignorance

The recent revelation of Doug Phillips’ long-term sexual relationship with a young lady has served to inspire a great many of his loyal followers to respond along the lines of, “We don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. It could have happened to any one of us, so far from me to judge him. Let’s just pray for Doug Phillips and his family.” Noteworthy in each and every one of these comments so far has been the total disregard for the young lady that Doug Phillips had a multi-year physical relationship with, and even any suggestion that she and her family need our prayers too. They too were betrayed, but they aren’t so much as mentioned.

Certainly prayer is an honorable thing to do in many of life’s circumstances, so I in no way find fault with that alone. However, what I do find fault in are the numerous blog comments posted not just out of ignorance, but out of what too often is a call to willful ignorance. Perhaps the single best example of this glut of sudden willful ignorance comes from Stacy McDonald. This author of Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God (published by Vision Forum, Inc.), and a regularly featured conference speaker, expert on all things “Biblical Patriarchy” to Stay At Home Daughters, recently posted this comment on Doug Wilson’s blog:

Stacy McDonald
November 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

And where in the Bible does it say that a man who has an inappropriate relationship with a woman must quit his job? – A man who is simultaneously called to provide for his wife and children? It’s all well and good for everyone to speculate over what they think he “should” do, but the fact is we don’t KNOW all the facts. And I’m sure there are numerous and far-reaching complications – details we know nothing about, and aren’t called to know. The man repented. He stepped down from ministry. And since I’m not a part of his life, that’s all I really need to know.

Two statements especially stand out here because the one contradicts the other: “we don’t KNOW all the facts” and “The man repented.” The fact that Stacy McDonald doesn’t KNOW negates the likelihood that she could know with any confidence that Doug Phillips has repented. All that anyone knows for certain is that Doug Phillips issued a Statement Of Resignation in which he confesses to something that no one can quite figure out. More is held back and concealed than is revealed. But even if Doug were to now provide a full, complete and thorough confession that would still be a long ways off from repentance. Confession and repentance are two very separate and distinct things. This first involves statements of fact, the second involves attitudes of the heart confirmed by expressions of contrition and acts of restitution. “For godly sorrow produces repentance” (2 Cor 7:10).

All anyone knows with any certainty is that Doug Phillips confessed to some sort of nebulous “serious sin” that included “an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman”. If that wasn’t a pathetic enough confession, he adds the disclaimer, “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate”.

That’s a crafty lawyer’s confession, but it in no way qualifies as a biblical confession, much less a statement of repentance. It does, however, fully quality for what it is entitled, a “Statement Of Resignation.” It is exactly the sort of statement one would issue to a corporate board of directors and the company shareholders. But it is nothing more than that. If anything it’s quite a bit less than that, and not even as clear and convincing as what was offered up by Gen. David H. Petraeus and his own sex scandal, when in his statement of resignation he said, “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair. Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.” He called it what it was: an affair.

Doug Phillips has often spoken of “honor.” He should have taken his example from Gen. Pattraeus in resigning like a man and not making excuses for himself like, “we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense.” Doug Phillips rightly suffered the backlash of considerable public criticism, as well as speculation that ran the gamut of  “Just how far can you go without knowing someone in the Biblical sense?” to “Was there any sexual stuff at all, or did they just sort of maybe mouth-kiss and cuddle or something?” After having caused a mass of confusion and speculation, a week later Doug Phillips had to release a Clarification On Resignation. To his credit, Doug Phillips does at least accept responsibility, something he hadn’t done in his initial Statement Of Resignation. The second statement, however, was equally as vague and evasive in stating, “there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman”. He should have followed Gen. Petraeus’ example and just called it an affair. To refer to any of that as a “confession” is to pervert the very definition of the term. These statements aren’t genuine confessions at all. They are only what the titles purport them to be, statements of resignation.

Nevertheless, Stacy McDonald and other faithful followers of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum are eager to overlook these shams and presume that Doug Phillips must be repentant, merely on the basis that he claims to be repentant. James and Stacy McDonald have been close personal friends with the Doug Phillips family, sharing the podium with Doug at numerous home schooling events, etc. Yet, now all of a sudden Stacy McDonald, much like Sgt. Schultz, takes the “I see nothing; I know nothing” way out of the “far-reaching complications – details”. This is all very suspicious, and though Stacy McDonald intends to deflect everyone’s attention away from the Doug Phillips scandal, by her suspicious behavior she’s actually drawing more people’s attention to it. She’s not helping her friend Doug Phillips at all.

As a direct result of Stacy McDonald posting another one of her ludicrous comments at Doug Wilson’s blog, I posted the following reply:

@Alan D. Strange: “that unless we have intimate knowledge of these matters, and some here may have such, that we can say nothing more of these matters than that we ought to pray for the repentance/sanctification of all parties and the glory of Christ.”

While repeating the mantra of your peers, Alan, you are to be congratulated for at least doing something none of your peers here have done: you’ve acknowledged the possibility that there could be some people commenting here, and elsewhere, who do have intimate knowledge of Doug Phillips, his character, and the basis for his recent actions. There indeed are, and there are many more of us than you could imagine.

Among us are former business associates and partners whom Doug Phillips has defrauded by stealing our intellectual property and products, stealing our customer/donor email lists, former employees who left in utter disillusionment over the unethical practices they witnessed, former VF interns who witnessed first hand the astonishing hypocrisies and viciousness, former BCA members whom Doug has spiritually and emotionally abused, former victims of the philandering, and the many that Douglas W. Phillips has threatened to sue and intimidated into silence. Doug Phillips has accumulated many such victims for well over a decade.

Thank you Alan for at least thoughtfully considering the possibility that we do exist, which is far more than the non-thinking Stacy McDonald and others of her ilk have been willing to admit. To quote again from her comment above: “My point is we don’t know the back story – mostly because it’s none of our business.”

Her position is also a defense strategy, albeit an idiotic one: “I don’t know because I don’t want to know.” I can’t help but wonder where this woman got her education from. One thing is certain — she never took a class in logic. “I don’t know anything about it because it’s none of my business, and it’s nobody else’s business because, well, I say so. Don’t ask any questions about it so you too can remain blissfully ignorant like me. I’ve determined to bury my head in the sand and I’m instructing everyone (including men, which I’m not permitted to instruct since I’m into Patriarchy) to pay no attention to what you hear about my friend Doug Phillips. I routinely bash a lot of other people, but that’s okay because they’re bad people and it’s not gossip to publicly criticize bad people. But Doug Phillips is good because, well, I say so, and if you criticize Doug that makes you a hateful gossip who needs to repent of bitterness. I’m a really in-the-know person, and I normally have an opinion about everything, especially about people I don’t like; but that’s not hateful bitterness when I do it, because they’re bad people and deserve it. But Doug Phillips is a great guy and everyone else should like him too. But if you don’t like Doug, keep your big mouth shut and just pray for him. If I don’t know anything about this whole Doug Phillips kerfuffle, and I’m never going to know anything because it’s none of my business to know anything, that means no one else can know anything either. I’m not going to ask Doug or anyone else any hard and embarrassing questions because that would get really embarrassing for me and my husband James since we’ve been close friends with Doug and Beall all these years and we ignored all the warning signs because, well, that’s what good friends do — not say anything while their friends are sliding down the slippery slope of apostasy. So we’d better just sweep this all under the carpet. And since I don’t know anything, I can be 100% confident that Doug’s letter of resignation is sincere because, well, it’s Doug, and if Doug says so we can know it’s the truth.”

Stacy McDonald is a case study in Hegelian dialects, albeit a Three Stooges version of it, and some of the other comments here follow a similar pattern. Unlike Stacy McDonald and her ilk, there are many of us who actually do know Doug Phillips, and we know him very well. We know the back story with his so-called “repentance.” We know it’s a sham . We know he didn’t “confess” but was busted and forced to confess under considerable duress. We know that he’s already formulated his comeback plan, and we know the predictable outcome is that many thousands of gullible dupes will believe this silver tongued devil and resume sending him millions of dollars per annum, once he’s published his own Jim Bakker, “I Was Wrong” book and is “restored.” This Doug Wilson article that served to inspire the so many willfully-ignorant comments here, are proof that there can always be a bright future for religious hucksters and carnival barkers.

Thankfully a great many people aren’t following the bubble-headed example of Stacy McDonald. They’re angry because they feel betrayed by Doug Phillips and they’re not willing to just sweep this all under the carpet.

Doug Phillips Seduced by “Foxy Bubbles” the Stripper?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doug Wilson on sex

Open Letter To Chalcedon Foundation Regarding Its Defense of Doug Phillips

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

Dear Chalcedon Foundation,

I concur with your admonishment that we not engage in “broad brush” argumentation, especially when making public statements in opposition to (and I would add in defense of) a doctrine or philosophical position, or for or against the person advancing that doctrine or philosophy. We all need to guard against confirmation biases which can so easily make fools of us all.

Whether I personally agree with them or not, I don’t care to see any person, or the organization they represent, be unjustly and dishonestly maligned. It’s no fun being on the receiving end of unjust public criticisms of our statements that have been disingenuously lifted out of context, such as you claim your organization is suffering from.

However, be grateful that you at least are being afforded the opportunity to defend yourself at Spiritual Sounding Board, a courtesy which we all deserve. Julie Anne Smith isn’t afraid to accept comments on her blog from anyone, including from those that she may strongly disagree with. Jen Epstein has the same liberal comment policy on this blog too, and your response to this article is most welcomed here.

Many of those who unjustly paint Chalcedon Foundation with a “broad brush”, as you claim, effectively blaming you for all the evils they believe have come from Christian Reconstructionism, Theonomy, Calvinism, Patriarchy, etc., may be doing so out of ignorance, as you assert. Or maybe they really do know what they’re talking about. I’ll come to that issue later and explain your only remedy to that, and if you handle it well I’m confident that many of your detractors will begin to see that there is little to nothing in common between Doug Phillips and R.J. Rushdoony, just as there is little to nothing in common between Calvinism and the straw man its detractors assail which is, in reality, Hyper-Calvinism.

Many are assuming that because Doug Phillips says he was heavily influenced by R.J. Rushdoony, ipso facto, Rushdoony bears personal responsibility for the horrific fruits of Doug Phillips’ life. I don’t buy that leap of logic. Doug Phillips was infinitely more influenced by his father, Howard. Anyone who knew Howard Phillips knows that Doug Phillips fell very far from the tree (as did Brad Phillips). Children can be a direct reflection of their parents, but quite often that’s not the case at all. We do the best job we can in training up our children in the way they should go, but not each of our children always turn out as they should. I have yet to see anyone (at least publicly) blame Howard Phillips for how two of his six children turned out. And does anyone blame R.C. Sproul Sr. for how R.C. Sproul Jr. turned out? How much less, then, is R.J. Rushdoony responsible for Doug Phillips, or anyone else who claims that Rushdoony influenced their thinking.

Justly or unjustly, Chalecedon Foundation has been blamed as the source — the fountainhead, of so-called “Biblical Patriarchy” as we’ve come to know it today, and as advanced by Wilson, Phillips, Sproul & Swanson (might make a great name for an 80’s rock band). Whether they care to now admit it or not (and most of them have admitted it in the past), each of these men have been influenced by the teachings of R.J. Rushdoony. But they’ve also been influenced by many others too.

As I see it, there are various shades and gradations of Patriarchy and, in my view, R.J. Rushdoony seems to have propounded a form of it that was on the “benevolent” end of the scale — much like we think of a kindly old grandfather. In my view Rushdoony was the epitome of that grandfatherly type and he eschewed prideful, power-hungry men. On the opposite end of the Patriarchy scale is an autocratic power-hungry form, or what I term Hyper-Patriarchy, that is best represented by Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr, and Kevin Swanson. Each of them is gifted, in varying degrees, with creating a public image of nice-guy; but the reputation they hold amongst those who have been under their “pastoral” care shows them to be ecclesiastical tyrants. As long as things are going rather smoothly, they can maintain the facade of nice guy, at least up until someone finds it necessary to challenge them about something. They have each hidden behind the cloak of pretended “accountability” which is, in fact, a small circle of hand-selected yes-men. Each of them have grasped after the seat of spiritual authority, and once they obtain it they abuse those under their authority. The label “Patriarchy” is another facade they hide behind, lending the needed appearance of “biblical legitimacy” to their authoritarian rule.

It seems to me that your organization should have been doing everything it could to distance itself from the Hyper-Patriarchs. To my knowledge it never has. I’m confident that if R.J. Rushdoony had been alive when the Christian home schooling movement started going off the rails (a movement which many credit Rushdoony as having been a founding father of) he would have publicly distanced himself from the young upstarts who co-opted it, most noteworthy among which are Doug Phillips, Kevin Swanson and R.C. Sproul Jr. These young men all saw an opportunity to cash in, and cash in they did. Doug Phillips, with his cunning business acumen and lawyerly skills, was able to cash in to the tune of millions of dollars per annum. Kevin Swanson and R.C. Sproul Jr. are comparatively inept and haven’t enriched themselves quite as handsomely, although they’ve still made a healthy living off of home schooling, and each have gathered a large and loyal following. They are The Home School Rock Star Band. They banded together and appointed themselves leaders of home schooling, a movement which theretofore had been autonomous and parent-directed, not unlike the home church movement.

These takeover artists were of a different breed from their forebears, men such as Raymond Moore, a man who truly deserved the title “The grandfather of Christian home education.” Unlike the young upstarts who came after him, Ray Moore wasn’t in it for the money, the notoriety, or to start his own cult group. He was a self-sacrificing man of God, as was R.J. Rushdoony who also sacrificed much as a pioneer of the modern home school movement.

In my view Rushdoony doesn’t deserve the guilt by association he’s been saddled with because of those corrupt men who came after him, men that he in no way trained or tutored, and yet these men claim him as the source of their theological inspiration. If I perceive Rushdoony’s views correctly, there is very little in common, other than the terms used (such as “Patriarchy”), between what he taught and practiced and what the Hyper-Patriarchs practice. That’s my perception, and I have good reason to believe it’s accurate.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that my perception is heavily informed based on what Chalcedon Foundation was during R.J. Rushdoony’s life, and not so much on what Chalcedon Foundation has become subsequent to his passing in 2001. Quite frankly I think your organization has done a poor job of carrying foreward the legacy of its founder, and what I’m about to say is a perfect example.

In 2007 your organization, via it’s communications director Christopher J. Ortiz, posted on its website In Defense of Doug Phillips to counter and put down Jen Epstein’s public warnings to the Christian home schooling community of the dangers of continuing their relationships with Doug Phillips. Chris Ortiz made no attempts to privately contact Jennifer prior to posting that article, although he did contact Doug Phillips, and even Matt Chancey. Hypocritically in that article, Chris Ortiz accuses Jen of being “one sided”, while making no attempt to get her side of the story.  To his credit, Chris Ortiz did soon thereafter make his article go *POOF* from Chalcedon’s website. It was replaced with a much briefer article, but as Jen notes, with a “far more inflammatory and misleading title than the original article had”, Beware Agents Of Defamation. Jen saved both articles and posted them as, Chalcedon Foundation Back-Peddles On Defending Doug Phillips.

In a comment that Chris Ortiz posted in reply to Jen’s article he offers up as a defense, “We know Doug and VF. We were not aware of you and Mark (and this is not a fun way to meet!).” When we say “we know” someone in that sort of context, and with the sort of events that were transpiring at that time, it can only mean, “I vouch for this person’s character and integrity, and I’m so convinced of my position that I’m willing to publicly call you an ‘Agent Of Defamation’ and ‘irresponsible’.” Ortiz presumptuously and omnisciently dismisses Jen’s assertion,  “We’re not motivated by vengeance. We’re motivated by a genuine concern for the well being of the Christian home school movement.” He dismissed the Allosaurus fakeumentary debacle, even though its public exposure as a fraud resulted in such a huge scandal that Doug Phillips immediately pulled it from his online catalog. Ortiz concludes In Defense of Doug Phillips with, “Mrs. Epstein has made a bold step in making these matters public. She better hope she’s right. The heavenly reciprocity may not be to her liking.” 

Heavenly reciprocity? Now you’re sounding just as threatening as Doug Wilson. I’m confident R.J. Rushdoony would have never spoken like that. Rather than invoking divine threats, I’ll merely speak of personal responsibility. Your dismissiveness of the Epsteins’ charges provided cover for an ecclesiastical tyrant who had already destroyed the lives of many families, including the faith of many small children (see Mark 9:42,  Matt 18:6) who have fled the Christian faith altogether. With your repudiation of the Epsteins’ public warning, and a public endorsement of Doug Phillips, you further empowered him to continue his abuses, at least up until just this past month, all based on a fatuous claim that you “knew” the man. You knew nothing.

You were at least correct about one thing: “Mrs. Epstein has made a bold step.” She is indeed bold, and she is courageous. Jennifer Epstein was out on the front lines seven years prior to Doug Phillips’ current sex scandal, warning the Christian home school community that Douglas W. Phillips is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That took an incredible amount of courage to go up against a man with the immense resources Doug Phillips had at his disposal. Jen was a mere home school mother going up against a very popular religious leader and attorney with millions of dollars at his disposal. He was supposedly “known,” but all anyone knew of Jen was that she had been forever tainted with “Excommunication.” The obstacles that Jennifer Epstein has had to overcome in order to bring the home school community’s attention to this wolf in sheep’s clothing have been enormous. Tragically, most, like Chalcedon Foundation, chose to remain blissfully ignorant and ignore the warning signs.

But a sex scandal isn’t so easily ignored, especially a sex scandal that was taking place for years, and throughout the entire time Douglas W. Phillips was lecturing and preaching to us about multi-generational faithfulness, Christian morality, marital fidelity, husbands loving their wives, fathers setting good examples for their sons, etc. We’ve all seen examples of hypocrisy in the church, but rare have been examples where the hypocrisy has arisen to this level.

Chris Ortiz and Chalcedon Foundation, you couldn’t have been more wrong. You didn’t “know” Doug Phillips at all. He was cheating on his wife at that very time in 2007 when you came to his public defense, and even long before that. If you were wrong about that you should really consider going back and reevaluating everything else you’d assumed about him. It would also be wise to carefully evaluate those men who claim to be carrying the mantle of R.J. Rushdoony but, who in reality, are merely using it as a pretext to abuse their authority. Jen called on you over 6 years ago to show your loyalties to the Christian home schooling movement by distancing yourself from Doug Phillips. You ignored those pleas and gave him cover instead. In the future I trust you’ll be far more careful before you stake your reputation on a man that you’ve been warned about. Warnings of that nature shouldn’t be so flippantly brushed aside.

Whether you like it or not you do face a guilt by association image problem, and you are largely responsible for it. You’re an educational ministry, yet you’ve failed to effectively educate on this issue, and there’s only one way to fix it. Please consider embarking on a thorough study and exposé of “Patriarchy” as it is espoused and practiced by Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, R.C. Sproul Jr, Kevin Swanson, James McDonald, and others of their ilk. Then publish it as a report, as you have done with so many other important topics. The fact that you have failed to do so gives many the impression that you may agree with these “Patriarchs” (silence is acquiescence).

To my knowledge, Jen Epstein was the first to launch into a diligent survey of the “Biblical Patriarchy” espoused by Doug Phillips. Her multi-part series motivated other home school moms to do the same, moms just like her with no formal theological training. Even with her lack of formal training, Jen soon discovered that the so-called biblical support Doug Phillips claimed for his positions were largely bible verses taken completely out of context. She soon had completely collapsed Doug Phillips house of Patriarchy cards. But where was the leadership of organizations like Chalcedon Foundation at the time, and why the silence on this vital subject since then? If you continue with this silence it can only be interpreted that Chalcedon Foundation is on board with Doug Phillips and the Hyper-Patriarchs.

You were given a golden opportunity in 2007 and you completely blew it. Don’t pass up a second opportunity. As a courtesy I will send your organization an email notifying you of this article. Your comments here are welcomed.

Lastly, if you have a mind to issue some sort of retraction, or apology, or some other statement distancing yourself from Douglas W. Phillips, you might want to do so sooner than later. The sex scandal is just…