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.
Dresses modestly (long, full dresses
Obeys her parents, even as an adult
Obeys her elders (at church)
Courtship only (no dating or relationships with men)
Gentle, quiet spirit
Has no opinions in her own right
Does not go to college
Good with children
Cooks and cleans
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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”!
” 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
From Doug’s Blog today:
Critic to Mrs. Howard Phillips: “You’re having another baby. Don’t you know that the world has too many children already?”
Mrs. Howard Phillips: “The world is in need of my children.”
That sums it up. Thank God for mothers who see the potential for changing the world which lies in the lives of the children God gives them.
Christian mothers and fathers, listen to Peggy Phillips—the world needs your children!
Read the article and then notice why Doug thinks women are important, and who he is really complimenting. What humility.
I recently wrote about an article that appeared in the Midwest Christian Outreach Journal entitled, “Who Will Be First In The Kingdom?” The article is an exposé on several of the unbiblical, extrabiblical and legalistic doctrines being pushed by Doug Phillips via The Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries.
The author, Don Veinot, gave me permission to quote from his article. However, I was not at liberty to post the entire article itself. Even if I had been given permission, I probably wouldn’t have done so. Instead, what I wanted to do was to encourage Christians to subscribe to the hardcopy edition of the MCOI Journal. This is a ministry that deserves the support of many Christians, and especially those who are concerned for how legalism and Phariseeism have infiltrated the church, thereby undermining the doctrines of grace.
For a number of years, Midwest Christian Outreach has been exposing cults, as well as harmful, legalistic Christian leaders, such as Bill Gothard. Don Veinot has also co-authored an outstanding book on Gothardism, A Matter Of Basic Principles. I’ve been reading this book myself and have been astounded to see just how similar so many of Doug Phillips’ teachings are to Bill Gothard’s. I’ve known for some time that Doug has been heavily influenced by Gothard, but Don Veinot’s book really makes it too apparent for me.
Don also recently posted an article on the Midwest Christian Outreach blog, entitled, Doug Phillips — New Paganism?
Don just contacted me to let me know how pleased he’s been by the response to his article on Doug Phillips, “Who Will Be First In The Kingdom?” In fact, he told me that it’s been the single most popular and most requested article that MCOI has ever published in the twelve years they’ve been publishing their journal. My hope is that this will serve to encourage MCOI to publish additional articles exposing the legalism of Doug Phillips.
As you are aware, we had an MCOI first with this issue of the MCOI Journal. We do not put the current issue on line until the next issue is released. However, we have been contacted by a number of people, lay people, pastors and seminary professors who have read the article on Doug Phillips and Vision Forum or G12 and need to refer others to it right away. Since we are here to serve the Body of Christ the simplest and most efficient way seemed to be to put it on line which we did yesterday.
Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.
L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr., President
Here is another letter by Don Veinot to Cindy Kunsman:
I have not only been surprised at the responses on this latest Journal on the Doug Phillips/Vision Forum article but also from the recent blog I did on him. I am receiving emails and phone calls from pastors and seminary professors expressing their appreciation that we would take this on. It is all a bit humbling to me. I am also being swamped by Christians attending churches that are tied in to Phillips teachings. They are desperate for information as they watch their churches split apart by this.
I received a letter from Doug Phillips personal assistant answering the questions that we had sent to them a few times prior to publishing the article. They mailed it rather than responding to the email and said that it was just brought to their attention. It sounds like they are getting heat from their followers about the current Journal article on him.
I am really thankful for your support. It is especially critical at this point, due to the 25% shortfall in the fiscal year that just ended. I know that God is able to raise up the needed funds with special contributions and we are seeking that He will. Thank you for your prayers to that end.
Hutch had this great idea! The following contest, sponsored by Vision Forum through Homeschooling Today Magazine, was posted on Doug’s blog today. See if you can spot any Scripture twisting (or history twisting) to make Jamestown fit Doug’s agenda. It is sad to see this misuse of God’s Word. This contest is based on the Jamestown Quadricentennial celebration this year.
Simply pick one of the Scripture discussion points below (or choose another of interest to your family) and write a persuasive essay expanding on the topic. Explain whether the settlers were operating under the truth of the Bible, or under a worldly deception.
Scripture discussion: The Founding Fathers of our nation were well-versed in the Bible — more so than we are today. Their views on all issues of life were therefore colored by Scripture. How do the following Scriptures help us better understand the settlers’ perspectives on the following? Upon which other Scriptures might they have based their actions? Also, which ideas and passages from the Bible can be found in the suggested readings and primary resources?
1. Land ownership (Ex. 20:12, Joshua 13-19, Acts 17:26, Deut. 32:7-8, Ex. 20:15 and Deut. 19:14)
Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”
Josh 13-19 – Dividing the Promised Land
Acts 17:26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”
Deut. 32:7-8 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”
Ex. 20:15 – “You shall not steal.”
Deut. 19:14 – “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”
2. “Interracial” marriage (2 Cor. 6:14, Gal. 3:28, Acts 17:26)
II Cor 6:14 – “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
Gal. 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Acts 17:26 – “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,”
3. Building a population through native births, rather than sending over more colonists from England (Gen. 1:28, 8:16)
Gen. 1:28 – “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Gen. 8:16 – “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”
4. Evangelizing the natives (Matt. 28:18-20)
Matt. 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”
5. Pocahontas dressing like the settlers as an “Englishwoman” after her conversion rather than remaining in her native clothing (Gen 3:21)
Gen. 3:21 – “Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”
Scripture discussion: Many, even in their native Virginia, are shying away from calling the Jamestown Quadricentennial a celebration, but instead refer to it as a commemoration. Discuss as a family the Scriptural basis for each of the following:
1. Remembrance of Jamestown, what the settlers did there, and teaching these things to our children (Deut. 32:7-8, Ps. 78; Ex. 20:12)
Deut. 32:7-8 – “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.”
Ps. 78:(4-8) – “We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children;
That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;
And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
Ex. 20:12 – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”
2. Erecting a memorial to God’s providential deliverance of a people (Prov. 22:28, Josh. 4:19-20, Gen. 28:16-22, 1 Sam. 7:10-12)
Prov. 22:28 – “Do not remove the ancient landmark Which your fathers have set.”
Josh. 4:19-20 – “Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they camped in Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up in Gilgal.”
Gen. 28:16-22 – “Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
I Sam. 7:10-12 – “Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
3. Understanding the original words of the settlers from primary source documents, with the meaning that would have been understood at the time (Lev. 19:16; Prov. 15:14, 20:5, 23:23, 28:2b)
Lev. 19:16 – “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.”
Prov. 15:14 – “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.”
Prov. 20:5 – “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Prov. 23:23 – “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
Prov. 28:2b – “But by a man of understanding and knowledge Right will be prolonged.”
Be sure to include in the discussion, why it is right to honor our fathers and ancestors, rather than look down our noses at them. Should we wonder how they could have sinned in this way or that way? We would be wise to recognize that they were sinners just like us, and to consider ways in which we fail to honor them by sinning as they did — or in finding new and uniquely foolish ways to sin.
I’m extremely grateful to so many of my commenters. I’ve learned so much from so many of you. I’ve even learned some things from some of those who came here with no other purpose but to attack me.
Perhaps the single most important issue that I’ve been confronted with is my own legalism. As I’ve said before:
“God has been using many of my commenters to help push me into becoming a Berean. I still have a long way to go, but I’m excited about the things I’m discovering. As a direct result of this blog, I’ve also made some dear friends. By studying the Word together, those friends have also provoked me into looking deep into the perfect law of liberty.”
I’m still making the transition out of legalism-Dougism/Gothardism, but I feel that even just the steps I’ve made so far are a huge breakthrough. Grace isn’t an easy thing to grasp for a legalist, but I’m starting to get it.
Having been under the legalistic teachings of Doug Phillips for five years had a profound impact on my life, and not for the better. I’ve been having to reevaluate everything that Doug taught me. This isn’t to say that everything that Doug Phillips teaches is bad. A lot of what he teaches has merit. Not that much of what he teaches he actually came up with himself. Practically all of it he took from others. That’s part of the problem. A lot of the ideas that he took from others he then wound up taking to a legalistic extreme. Seldom are legalists moderate or biblically balanced.
A good example of this is Patriarchy. I’ve already dealt with that here, and I may come back to it again in the future.
Another area I’d like to address in-depth is “Family Integrated Church.” I’m in the process of writing a critique of “A Biblical Confession for Uniting Church and Family.” Along with it I also want to critique “The Greatest Untapped Evangelistic Opportunity Before the Modern Church” and “The Sufficiency of Scripture at Work in the Family Integrated Church.” I’ll also have some interesting things to share about how the NCFIC got started, and its director, Scott Brown.
On the face of it, the Family Integrated Church movement doesn’t appear to be legalistic, nor should it be. But in reality, it too often is. I’ve received many reports of how it is divisive to the point of even causing church splits. It’s ironic that a movement that is supposedly rooted in “unity” can actually cause so much division.
What I’d like to do, as I’m writing my critique, is to open up this thread for commentary and input from you, my readers, both good and bad, on the Family Integrated Church. This will provide everyone an opportunity to assist me as I prepare my future article.
Along with this, I want to welcome my readers to submit via email their own articles on issues directly related to Doug Phillips. These can be full articles, or rough drafts and outlines for articles. Please be assured that if you don’t want your name used, I will respect your privacy. I know that many of my readers have some of their own stories to tell about Doug Phillips. I know because I’ve received your emails. I know that most of you don’t want to start blogs of your own. I’m willing to have you tell your stories here.
Please read the Vision Forum Ministries articles that I’ve linked to above and offer your comments about them here.
I am a pastor in Colorado and have had the grueling task of “re-discipling” many whose lives (and families) were turned upside down by Doug Phillips and Vision Forum (Tit 1:11). I just wanted to drop you a line and say “keep up the good work.” Men like Phillips must be exposed before they do more harm. My first “red flag” with his organization came the moment I saw (or heard) one of their core beliefs, “the family is the foundational institution of society.”
Nowhere in the Scripture is that ever stated. As a matter of fact, it is blatantly against what the Scripture teaches. Jesus teaches us that it is the church (not the family) which is the foundational institution of society (Mat 16:18; 1Ti 3:15). “It is the city on the hill” which causes the world to sit up and take notice.
Once again–keep being faithful–you are an encouragement to many I’m sure. Men like Phillips rule by intimidation much the same way other cult leaders do, and therefore it takes strong courageous people like yourself coming out against them–before others will be freed also. And let me assure you that what you are doing is biblical. We (as Christians) are to be “exposing the deeds of darkness” (Eph 5). Though there are some things Phillips does which are good–it is the “leaven” mixed in which spoils the whole batch and makes him incredibly dangerous.
Pastor, Sovereign Grace Bible Church
Note: see Pastor Jarrett’s related article: The Church: God’s Foundational Institution
I’ve received a great deal of email thanking me for exposing Doug Phillips. Much of it is from people who have personally known Doug. Many of these people would like to be in a position to expose Doug Phillips themselves, but for various reasons, they haven’t.
A common thread running through all of it is intimidation. Many feel intimidated by Doug, and many have good reason to feel intimidated. Doug Phillips has threatened many people, some with legal action, some with ecclesiastical threats such as church discipline or excommunication, even from other churches. In more than one case, I’ve received emails telling me that if they went public with their story of Doug’s unscrupulous dealings with them that he’d use his significant political resources to ruin their business, or in some cases to get them fired.
It’s a common ploy of Doug’s that he demands the names of your church elders and he threatens “church discipline” against you. Some of these people have done nothing more than write Doug to ask him a question about an apparent contradiction in his teaching, and then he threatens them. The Christian thing to do would just be to answer people’s questions. Instead, he uses his employees to shield him and they play games of evasion. The majority of questions Doug does answer are from those who agree with him already. Doug loves his fan mail and has often posted it on his blog, but he hates it when he’s challenged for hypocrisy, and with Doug Phillips there is much hypocrisy. Anyone who disagrees is either ignored, and if they’re not ignored, they’re often threatened. Doug Phillips has even threatened a few pastors.
Doug Phillips’ threats have worked. His formula has worked for years to intimidate people into silence. I know because I’ve now heard from many of them, and I’ll probably be hearing from more. My hope is that some of them will soon muster enough courage to step forward and tell their own stories for themselves. For now what will have to suffice are their emails to me. With their permission, from time to time, I’ll post the emails of those who have known Doug Phillips personally, as well as from those who have personal knowledge of my situation, or personal knowledge of how Doug has threatened others.
The specifics contained in some of the emails I’ve received are sometimes so detailed that Doug would probably be able to figure out who they were authored by. So in order to prevent Doug’s retaliation against them, I won’t post any stories or emails without their permission. I also won’t post their names without their permission. I’ll also give them the option of whether or not comments should be permitted on their email. Even if they don’t want their name used, they still may not appreciate being subjected to the kinds of verbal attacks that I don’t personally mind being subjected to.
The following is an email I received recently and have been given permission to post on my blog.
Wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your boldness with this whole Doug Phillips thing. I’m sure you’ve grown weary of hearing everybody’s advice and opinions, especially those with nothing really at stake. We had something at stake, though. This past year, our church suffered a split that just came out of the blue. It really wasn’t until you went public with your experience that we began connecting the dots. Looking back on it, I see that the Lord actually purified our body by removing the families that were causing these divisions. I have noticed that the three elders that left have really become big DP fans. And our remaining elders have made a concerted effort to be very upfront with just what we DO believe and WHY, leaving no room for unbiblical teachings. The solid teaching from our pulpit has benefited. Your boldness has helped dozens of families here!
I have also recognized a growing clique of DP homeschool families (I don’t know what else to call them). Their children sound like walking talking Vision Forum catalogs. My children have noticed and are able to discern the extra-biblical tidbits. Again, your boldness has given us a platform, as a family, to teach some important critical thinking skills and sift everything around us through scripture. As independent-thinking as I tend to be, I recognize that I had become lazy about some things. If you declared yourself Christian, and you homeschooled, you got a pass from me. I think that’s what put DP where he is today. LOTS of folks give him a pass without batting an eye.
So, thanks a million for what you were willing to do. I know your family took some blows, not to mention your marriage, friendships and even your children. Surely the Lord will see fit to restore all the broken relationships. I think you are wise to back off the whole reconciliation thing. And I think you are equally wise to continue to inform the public about this wolf. No more head butting, just investigative reporting.
Jen Epstein Ejected From Public Sidewalk For Exercising First Amendment Rights
I enjoy attending home school conferences. It’s always a good learning experience, so I’d like to give a report on a home school conference that I attended this past weekend in Arlington, Texas. The Arlington Book Fair is a large home school conference with several interesting speakers, one of which was Doug Phillips. I credit Doug with teaching me many valuable things. Douglas Winston Phillips was named after Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill. Doug does a very convincing Churchill impersonation. I’ve often heard Doug say, “We shall never surrender” in his best Churchill-ish British accent. Doug has taught me a lot of determination and courage in the face of adversity. If it weren’t for Doug’s own regular storytelling of brave and courageous men who refused to compromise their values, I doubt that I would have ever been motivated to go public with my own story of Doug’s ecclesiastical tyrannies. In many ways, it was Doug’s own teaching that gave me the courage to do what I’m now doing.
Attending the Arlington Book Fair was also an opportunity for me to speak with Doug Phillips personally and give him one more opportunity to be reconciled with us. Doug doesn’t make it easy to speak with him. He’s been hiding behind his attorney, Don Hart, for over a year now. Every time we’ve tried to speak with Doug, we’ve been told, “You’ll have to talk to Doug’s attorney.” This is a strange response for a pastor. We’ve never even implied that we wanted to take Doug to court. Ours is an ecclesiastical matter, so why is he hiding behind an attorney? Doug claims that Boerne Christian Assembly has a plurality of elders. If that were true then why doesn’t he say, “You’ll need to take it up with the BCA elders?” The fact is that BCA didn’t have a plurality of elders when Doug ran us through his little Kangaroo Court, and apparently they still don’t have a plurality of elders, although they do have some “elders-in-training.”
Not being one to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I thought I might be able to learn something from listening to Doug speak at the conference, as well. So, with much anticipation and hope that God would work to bring us together this weekend, off we went.
As we stepped through the door at the Arlington Book Fair, we immediately spotted Wesley Strackbein, a longtime Vision Forum employee, who straightaway pulled out his cell phone, presumably to call Doug Phillips. When we arrived, shortly thereafter, at Doug’s first workshop of the day, it quickly became apparent that this was the case. Doug was already on stage when I entered the room but, as I was helping my daughter get situated in her chair, Doug suddenly appeared in front of me, holding out his hand to greet me. “Hello, Jennifer. I thought I would see you here,” he spoke up loudly for everyone to hear. “Hi, Doug!,” I returned his greeting and handshake. As his personal assistants placed themselves strategically on either side of the room, we listened to Doug’s first message about the importance of teaching history to your children.
Concerned about the hypocrisy of Doug teaching his extra-biblical views and promoting them as biblical doctrine, I decided it would be a good time to warn others of some of Doug’s extreme positions. An independent Christian journal that focuses primarily on writing about cults has written an article about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. They were kind enough to give me permission to pass out copies of this article at the convention. (When this article is officially released by the publisher, I will let everyone know.) So, at Doug’s second session of the day, Joshua began passing this article out to those who were attending this particular workshop for homeschooling fathers. After he had passed them out to approximately half the attendees, a conference coordinator approached him and asked him to stop, apparently in response to Bob Renaud’s request. While Joshua was speaking to this lady, Doug Phillips came by, put his hand on Joshua’s shoulder, and simply stated, “Joshua,” while smiling. When I arrived there a while later, two conference coordinators immediately approached me and asked if I was Joshua’s mother. When I answered affirmatively, Richard Hathman very kindly told me that they had a policy that no flyers could be handed out inside the convention center, but that we were perfectly free to hand them out on the public sidewalk outside the convention center. We were fine with this, so I thanked him kindly, shook his hand, and Joshua went outside to hand out flyers for a while.
Still waiting for an opportunity to speak with Doug Phillips, I went to his third workshop of the day, “The Blessed Marriage,” hoping to gain some insights into my own marriage as well. I sat in the front row by myself (my children had left the convention by this point) so that I could speak with Doug after his speech. In front of the raised stage was a large podium for the projector. I didn’t realize until later that since I was sitting very close to the podium, Doug would have had to walk within a few inches of me to get on stage. Apparently that was not an option for him, since he chose to take a flying leap onto the other end of the stage instead, in his 3-piece suit. It was obvious that he was doing everything he could to avoid me. This struck me as very odd, considering that earlier in the day he went out of his way to greet me. No doubt, though, someone had given him a copy of the article we’d been passing out. Perhaps this resulted in a change in his demeanor toward me?
One of Doug’s longtime personal assistants, Bob Renaud, decided that I must be very lonely in the front row by myself, so he came and sat with me, greeting me as if we were long lost best friends. It was obvious that it was his job to keep me away from Doug, but we exchanged pleasant greetings anyway. He seemed quite fascinated with all the notes I was taking during Doug’s seminar, craning his neck much of the time to read them. At the end of the message, after Doug Phillips invited everyone to come visit him and Beall in his Vision Forum booth, Bob immediately struck up a conversation with me that went like this:
Bob: “Jennifer, I’m so glad to see you here! Are you enjoying the conference?”
Me: “Yes, Bob, I am. I’m really glad to see you, too. Are you enjoying it?”
Bob: “Yes, I am.”
Me: “Bob, I know you are here to keep me from seeing Doug, but I would really like to see Doug; I would really like to talk to him.”
Bob: “I can’t let you do that.”
Me: “Why not?”
Bob: “If you want to talk, you’ll have to talk to Doug’s attorney, Don Hart. You can’t talk to Doug.”
Me: “This doesn’t have anything to do with Don Hart. I would like to talk to Doug personally. Look, Bob, I just have this letter I would like to give to Doug.” I held the letter out for him, but Bob quickly backed away. “Look, Bob, this is a nice letter. I just want to compliment Doug and ask him to speak with me.”
Bob: “I can’t let you do that.”
Me: “Here, Bob. I’ll even let you read it yourself first.” So I opened the letter for Bob, but he still refused to look at it or take it.
Me: “OK, Bob. Do you know why I’m here? Do you know what I’m about? Do you understand my whole purpose?”
Bob: “No, I don’t”
By this time, Wesley Strackbein, the Vision Forum employee who had first spotted me at the convention, had joined us as well, so I addressed both of them.
Me: “This is about reconciliation. This is about being at peace with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can write about Doug on the internet, and he can write about me, but we aren’t getting anywhere at this rate. This is stupid. We need to sit down and talk.”
Bob: “Jennifer, you can put an end to all this.”
Me: “How’s that, Bob?”
Bob: “Jennifer, you just need to repent. You are excommunicated.”
Me: “What do I need to repent from?”
Bob: “You know what you need to repent from. It’s all in the document we gave you. You can read it.”
Me: “Oh, I know what the document says: gossip, slander, lying, reviling. But what have I done, Bob? What is my specific sin? That list doesn’t tell me what I’ve done.”
Bob: “I don’t have time to tell you all your sins, there are so many.”
Me: “OK, Bob and Wesley, I’ll tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I promise you that if you can tell me just one example of a sin I’ve committed, I’ll repent right here and now.”
Bob and Wesley turned around and walked away. For being guilty of “so many” sins I was stunned that they couldn’t name even one specific sin.
Somewhere in that conversation, Bob asked me for that letter I had written to Doug. I gave it to him. Here is what the letter said:
May 11, 2007
Mr. Doug Phillips
200 Canada Verde
Hollywood Park, TX
I know that you’re a busy man, and no doubt you’ve got plenty going on here at the Arlington Book Fair home school convention. Hopefully you’ll accept this note from me.
I look forward to what I’ll learn here from the speakers at the conference, and that includes what I can learn from you. I’ve already learned a great deal from you Doug. Not that I’ve always agreed with all your opinions, but you’ve helped teach me some important values.
Doug, I’m confounded over why you keep avoiding us and why you’re refusing to be reconciled with us. Wouldn’t reconciliation be a good thing? It seems like you’re running from me. I can’t understand that. What are you afraid of?
I’d like to extend to you the opportunity to just sit down and talk together for a few minutes. Here at the conference would be an ideal time. I know you’re busy and you could use that as an excuse to avoid me. But I don’t believe that you’re so busy that you couldn’t set aside a few minutes. If it were important that’s really what you should do. This is important Doug, and I think you know that.
Let’s sit down and talk. Okay?
Your sister in the Lord Jesus Christ,
I knew that Bob Renaud would take my note straight to Doug. So I gave Doug sufficient time to receive my note from Bob and read it. Since Doug had issued an open invitation for everyone to come visit him at his booth, I decided to take him up on his invitation. With a friend carrying a video camera, we walked in to see Doug, but neither he nor Beall were at the Vision Forum booth. After looking around for them, we were just about to leave when Peter Bradrick, Doug’s personal assistant, came up and told us to turn off the video. I asked him what authority he had to tell us what to do. He said that we could video any other booth except Vision Forum. I kept asking him, “Under what authority?” I then asked him if he was asking us or telling us what to do. He said he was informing us. Finally, he spoke to me in a quite disrespectful tone of voice. Knowing that Doug Phillips’ main message is about honor, I rebuked Peter for speaking to his elders that way. I am nearly twice his age and my videotaping friend is a good deal older than I am as well. At this point, Peter’s attitude changed and he said he was requesting us to turn off our video, which we promptly did. I then asked Peter where Doug was, and he replied that he was ill and not able to greet his public right now, so we left.
Upon further reflection of this incident, I decided that while Peter was decidedly disrespectful toward me, two wrongs never make a right, and I had been too harsh in rebuking him. So I later sent him a note of apology.
Since I wasn’t getting anywhere in my attempts to speak with Doug Phillips, I decided that day two of this convention should be a day of warning others. I had the article written by the independent Christian journal and I also had the Public Notice Calling For The Repentance Of Douglas W. Phillips printed out as handouts. Joshua and I were standing on the public sidewalk handing out these flyers as people came into the conference when all of a sudden a very angry man shoved Joshua out of the way, grabbed his papers and started throwing the papers all over, yelling and screaming that we couldn’t do this. Very calmly and kindly, I responded, “Excuse me, but what are you doing?”
Dennis Winton, the very angry conference coordinator, continued to yell at us that we could not pass out these papers. I calmly stated that this was public property and that I was standing on my first amendment rights to hand out information on public property. Mr. Winton then threatened us, “We’ll see what the police have to say about your first amendment rights!” Still remaining calm, I said that was fine.
While Mr. Winton was on the phone speaking very heatedly with the police, trying to convince them that I was a criminal, another conference coordinator was standing there with him, watching us continue to cheerfully greet everyone as we handed them our papers. This man was Richard Hathman, the same kind conference coordinator who had, just the day before, volunteered that we could pass out these papers on the public sidewalk in front of the convention center. During this whole time, he just stood there smiling at us. After several minutes, I said to Mr. Hathman, “You know I have every right to do this. I am standing on my first amendment rights to hand out information on public property.”
He answered, “Yes, you do.”
I finally volunteered to Mr. Hathman that Doug Phillips could stop this whole thing if he would just come out and talk to me. I offered to stop passing out the papers if Doug would just sit down and talk to me.
Mr Hathman then said, “You may be 100% right, or you may be 100% wrong, or it’s maybe somewhere in between; I really don’t care. Mr. Phillips is just a tiny part of this conference. This is about so much more than just Doug Phillips and what you are doing here is disrupting our whole conference. As a brother in Christ, I would like to ask you to please stop disturbing this conference so everyone else can enjoy what they came here for.”
I was so impressed with the way Mr. Hathman handled the situation in a Christ-like manner that I told him as much, thanked him for his attitude, shook his hand, and stated that I would be glad to stop handing out my papers, since he asked me to do so out of Christian love and concern. At that point, Joshua and I picked up all our papers and took them to the truck.
Mr. Winton, however, still insisted that the police do something, so they came and talked to all the conference coordinators and Doug’s three “bodyguards” before coming over to speak with my friend, my children, and me. As you watch what happens next, notice Doug’s three bodyguards, Wesley Strackbein, Peter Bradrick, and Bob Renaud, ensuring that I leave the public property. We found out later that the police were called at Doug Phillips’ insistence. I was also later informed that the Vision Forum team had told the police that Doug Phillips was afraid because his life had been threatened, thereby implying that I posed some sort of physical threat to Doug.
While we were waiting, I then waved to Peter Bradrick and said, “Good morning, Peter!” He just glared back at me, so I said, cheerfully, “Come on, Peter. Can’t you even say ‘Hello?'” In response, he just slowly shook his head from side to side.
So then I tried to talk to Bob Renaud: “Hey, Bob! Do you have an answer for me yet?” (meaning from the letter I gave Bob to give Doug). I was treated to another frozen face.
So, in the end, we were issued a criminal trespassing warning for being on public property and told not to return for one year, under threat of arrest. The First Amendment gives us the right to give out this kind of information on public property, so there can be no criminal trespassing of this sort on public property. As a constitutional lawyer, Doug Phillips knew I had every right to be there doing what I was doing. As a conference speaker, though, Doug used his status to have my rights trampled.
I’m still calling Doug Phillips to repentance.
I’ve been contacted by a number of people, some of them representing various Christian organizations, who have asked me to provide them with a brief one-page statement documenting some of the more serious sins and moral failures of Doug Phillips.
The reason I keep getting asked for this is obvious. Many people who share our concerns about Doug Phillips are referring friends and family and members of their organizations to my blog. However, there’s now so much to read that it can be a bit overwhelming. Having a highly condensed overview of some of the most significant aspects of our Doug Phillips’ story could prove to be a useful tool in “Exposing Doug Phillips’ Ecclesiastical Tyranny.”
If you’d like a pdf version of this Public Notice, suitable for emailing, you can download it here.
Public Notice Calling For The Repentance Of Douglas W. Phillips
List Of Charges:
- In 2004, Doug Phillips produced and sold the deceptive documentary, “Raising the Allosaur.” In the video, Mr. Phillips claims that a group of home school families was responsible for “the biggest dinosaur discovery of the year.” So much public controversy arose from the “documentary” that Mr. Phillips pulled it from the market without explanation, in spite of the fact that the video produced significant revenues for Vision Forum, Inc. Mr. Phillips has never repented or even offered a public explanation for the numerous misleading statements and misrepresentations in the video. 1
- As a self-appointed, unordained, sole elder of Boerne Christian Assembly, Mr. Phillips pronounced an “excommunication” on a member family of his church in 2005. 2 The “excommunication” was vindictive and appears to have been motivated over a difference in political views. 3 The “trial” was conducted without any due process in what can only be described as a Kangaroo Court. The accused were tried in absentia. No witnesses were called. No defense was afforded the accused. No specific, detailed list of charges was made. No evidence was provided. Any actual valid excommunicable sins had already been repented from, including a pre-conversion sin that had been repented of fifteen years prior. 4 A prominent Pastor has since described the excommunication as “the Salem Witch Trials.” The family has attempted ever since to be reconciled with Mr. Phillips, but he has refused all offers to meet with them, thus confirming his vindictiveness.
- After being “excommunicated,” the entire family was shunned, including the family’s children. The children were never charged with any sins. Yet they, too, were punished. One of the daughters had received an award as a runner-up in a Vision Forum writing contest, but Mr. Phillips ordered that her name be removed from the Vision Forum web site.
- Doug Phillips is known as a leader in what is known as the “Patriarchy” movement. However, his conduct as a pastor makes it apparent that he is more of a misogynist than a Patriarch. “Let the women keep silent” (1 Cor. 13:34) is taken to such an extreme at BCA that women cannot make prayer requests or even introduce their guests. Women aren’t even permitted to get the elements of the Lord’s Supper for themselves. If their husbands aren’t present, they must be served by another man, or one of her sons, even if that son is too young to take the Lord’s supper himself. Mr. Phillips’ treatment of women is degrading and demeaning, and he does not treat them as fellow heirs of Christ Jesus. 5
Many of Mr. Phillips’ other views and practices are far more than just controversial, they are extremist and unbecoming of a pastor and a well-known Christian spokesman who many look to for godly leadership. 6 This notice calls Mr. Phillips to public repentance and to make restitution to the numerous Christians that he has harmed and offended.
Update: I received this comment from a reader today:
Sad to say, my wife and I predicted all of this years ago. We knew who Doug Phillips was, but he didn’t know who we were. We had the opportunity to watch his interaction with his wife and children over a 2-day period when no one else was around.
To this day, my wife and I remember this as one of the most difficult-to-watch episodes in our lives as Doug demeaned his wife and children, abusing them both verbally and emotionally time after time before turning to “meet his public” with an entirely different attitude.
Since then, we have watched his “public persona” and simply kept our mouths shut- knowing that this day would come… and my GUESS is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
One cannot say one thing and live another within the Kingdom of God indefinitely- there is eventually a day of public reckoning coming and it’s always painful to watch. Eventually it’s shouted from the housetops unless repentance deflects the judgment first.
Sad- but totally predictable to us from years ago.
After reviewing my article about my friend, David, and looking over my notes again, I realize that I need to make some changes, as some things weren’t as clear as they could have been. Doug Phillips’ accusations against David were so outrageous that I allowed myself to feel pressured into making a hasty response. I was in too much of a hurry to post it, so I am going to try to write it a little more clearly and will have it back up soon!
In the meantime, I will post a few links of related interest here.
Lawyer Sanctioned After Blowing Up at Process Server
Sharper Iron’s Editorial Response to Vision Forum – Notice the pattern in the four opening bullet points
Vision Forum: The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy
More new articles on this story:
Take 3 – Jennie Chancey’s letter
Joe Taylor Invites Doug Phillips To Peacemaker Mediation
This past Saturday, April 21, 2007, Joe Taylor attempted to have Doug Phillips served a letter at Vision Forum’s offices. Joe didn’t want to give Doug an opportunity to ignore a letter in the mail, or refuse a certified letter, so a legal process server was hired to ensure that Doug would receive Joe’s letter.
Vision Forum’s web site had advertised their annual open house was taking place on April 21. Vision Forum also announced that Doug would be available from 2:00 through 4:30 PM for a book signing. This was the obvious logical time to have the process server come to Vision Forum. But Doug never received Joe’s letter.
The entire incident of the process server’s story is in itself very intriguing and was, at least for me and several others who now know the story, quite humorous. But to hear it, you’ll have to come back Monday.
Here is Joe Taylor’s letter to Doug Phillips, posted here as a Public Notice.
April 20, 2007
Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum
124 W. Main, P.O. Box 550,
Crosbyton, TX 79322
Douglas W. Phillips
Vision Forum, Inc.
4719 Blanco Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78212
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Matt. 5:23-24
I apologize for this request being served to you during your busy schedule, but you are gone a lot, and hard to reach.
In addition, the recent judgment from arbitration with the Pete DeRosas and myself has only served to heighten the unresolved conflicts between you and me.
In 2003, you wrote me to complain of my privately exposing your “documentary” video, “Raising The Allosaur.” This review was not actually made public then. However, why shouldn’t it be? Every film that comes out is reviewed and often very negatively.
In your letter to me of January 20, 2003, as well as other correspondence, you have taken the position that my exposure of your video somehow makes me guilty of “slander” and that what I have done “would be actionable defamation in any court of law.” You have accused me of “speaking evil of brothers without working through the biblical guidelines for conflict resolution.” You have accused me of many other things as well, all without any supporting evidence. For example, you’ve accused me of “blackmail.” You’ve even accused me of “anti-Semitism,” a truly outrageous allegation. I have many hundreds of pages of evidence, not to mention hundreds of photographs and many hours of video tape that I believe unequivocally makes my case.
You accuse me that, “You have consistently and willfully refused to follow any biblical guidelines for conflict resolution, notwithstanding our repeated recommendations to you to do just this.”
Yet, many of the very things that you have accused me of are the very things that you yourself are guilty of. And contrary to your accusations, I tried many times to meet with you and practice Matthew: 18, which you so often and loudly demand.
I agreed to mediation with you and Pete DeRosa both. You agreed as well. The problem is that while Pete and I made an appearance and signed the mediation agreement, you never even showed up. And you, Doug, the one who was so insistent, never signed the agreement. Needless to say, nothing has truly been “resolved” by the alleged “conflict resolution.”
It appears to me that the mediation was more a means to silence me and prevent further exposure of un-Christian deeds than it was to resolve conflicts.
I’ve attempted to resolve my differences with you many times. The fact that you evaded signing the mediation agreement doesn’t mean that our issues are resolved or that these problems have just gone away. I’m sure that you’re more than aware of the need to address our disputes. The Word tells us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” (Rom. 12:18)
Many friends and associates in the past several years encouraged me to sue you, but I did not because I thought you were a Christian brother. (I Cor. 6:1-8)
Your January 20, 2003 letter states, “We are committed to following biblical guidelines of conflict resolution, arbitration and church discipline.”
I’d like to give you the opportunity to prove that you are sincere about that by extending the offer to you to discuss biblically-based Christian conflict resolution with me.
I’m told that Peacemaker Ministries claims that both their mediation and arbitration are biblically-based. Decisions can also be binding, and it is recommended that we agree to the details of this in advance.
All I’m asking you for at this time is a simple written “yes, I will discuss this with you,” or “no, I will not,” answer. The details would be worked out later. Please have a written response in my hands by May 5, 2007.
My offer is genuine, and made in the interests of the whole creationist as well as the home school community.
Doug, there has been entirely too much strife between us. It should be put to an end. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Phil. 2:3
In the bonds of Christ Jesus,
If you don’t know the story behind this letter, you may read it here.
The following letter went out to a number of home school leaders across the nation and abroad. A copy was also sent to Doug Phillips asking for his response.
We know that there are many more leaders, home school groups, and home school families out there who need to hear this, so if you would like to forward this to them yourself, please feel free (just be sure the links are included). Or you can send us their email address and we would be glad to send it to them.
Dear Home School Leader,
I’ve been a Christian home educator for twelve years now and have been president of a local home school group for seven years. I’ve been active in the home school community for quite some time and have helped to coordinate numerous home school functions and co-ops in the San Antonio, Texas area and have worked at many homeschool conventions.
Home schoolers have worked very hard for a number of years to earn a good reputation for Christian home education. Our proven track record of educational excellence has largely overcome the criticisms of the government educrats. However, we need to remain ever vigilant to maintain that good reputation. If our reputation is undermined by any among us who have divisive and potentially harmful agendas, we stand to lose much.
It’s vital that the most prominent of our home school leadership be men and women of impeccable reputation and strong moral character. We’re very concerned that one of the most prominent of our home education leaders runs the risk of causing the entire home school movement great damage. We speak of Douglas W. Phillips, the founder of Vision Forum. We believe that Doug Phillips’ intentions may be good for his attempts to shed light on a number of wrongs that have crept into the Christian home, the church, and society on the whole, in recent decades. However, a number of Doug Phillips’ methods and ambitions for correcting these problems are seriously flawed. Rather than working to bring about reformation, Doug Phillips embraces opinions and methods which are reactionary, harmful and even potentially dangerous to the family and the church.
Home schoolers are already considered by many to be “radicals” and “extremists.” Of course, we know that most Christian home educators are actually very moderate and do their best to “live at peace with all men” (Rom 12:18). However, Doug Phillips, even by many Christian home schooling standards, is very much an extremist. We’ve known Doug personally for many years and have spent much time studying and analyzing his opinions, as well as his actions. As a result, we’ve become increasingly concerned that Doug Phillips may be far more a liability than an asset to the Christian home school movement.
There is much to show how unhealthy and problematic Doug’s views are, and in this brief email we hope to demonstrate just a few of those. Our goal is to warn you as a Christian home school leader so that you can take any precautionary steps you deem appropriate to minimize any adverse impact to your own family and home school organization. In order to protect the Christian home school movement, we believe it is important that Doug Phillips be isolated and relegated to the outer fringes where he properly belongs, and where he can do little harm. We believe that it is risky for your organization to be identifying yourself with Doug Phillips, and to give him a platform from which he can promote his views. Please now allow us to explain why.
Doug Phillips has just expressed his views publicly on the massacre at Virginia Tech in an article entitled On The Horror At Virginia Tech. Though Doug makes some valid theological observations, his timing couldn’t have been worse. Doug is taking considerable heat over how insensitive and calloused his remarks appear to be. Most troubling is the fact that Doug is publicly advocating arming students. This is a classic example of Doug’s reactionary thinking. Because gun control advocates are calling for further gun control legislation, Doug reacts by saying the solution is to permit students to bring guns into the classroom. This isn’t to say that he wants all students armed, though. In Doug’s patriarchal world, only male students would be armed.
Doug Phillips is known as a significant leader of “Patriarchy,” a movement which seeks to restore homes and churches to an idyllic antebellum image, a time of chivalrous gentlemen and ladies in fluffy dresses. However, just below the surface of this superficial “Gone With The Wind” veneer lurks a far less honorable side. Doug Phillips often challenges radical feminism, and he’s right to do so. However, the solution to radical feminism isn’t a shift to the opposite extreme. Phillips’ views aren’t “complementarian,” or even just patriarchal, but rather hyper-patriarchal, a world in which women are effectively treated as doormats and not permitted to have any opinions of their own. Phillips’ patriarchy vision is an autocratic pseudo-feudal world in which women are completely dominated by husbands, and daughters are deprived of higher education and careers of any kind.
Doug Phillips’ jaded view of women is no more clearly evidenced than the way that he directs his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly, as its self-appointed and unordained pastor and sole elder. At BCA, “Let your women keep silence in the churches” (1 Cor. 14:34) is interpreted in such an extreme manner that women aren’t even permitted to introduce guests, women aren’t permitted to make prayer requests, and women aren’t even permitted to get their own communion (if her husband isn’t present, she must be served by another man, or one of her own sons, even if that son is too young to partake of communion himself). We were members of Doug’s church for five years, and so our comments about this are based on personal experience.
Doug Phillips takes his low opinion of women into the marriage counseling setting as well. Where marital problems are brought to his attention, he’s known to avoid any judicious examination of underlying issues, but rather immediately side entirely with the husband and seek out any excuse to blame the wife for any problems. We know this not only because of what’s been reported to us, but because of what we personally experienced. Some of Phillips’ more common questions to husbands of troubled marriages are: “Isn’t your wife a dripping faucet and a nag?” “Isn’t your wife rebellious?” “Isn’t your wife a Jezebel?” In Doug Phillips’ world, the wife is always to blame. Doug Phillips is not known to have ever asked a wife, “Does your husband love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her?”
Considering the fact that women quite often are doing the majority of the practical teaching at home, and also making many of the decisions about home school curriculum, we consider it remarkable that Doug Phillips evidences all the tendencies of a misogynist. Since women are probably making many of the decisions about what materials to order from Vision Forum, and women make up such a large percentage of the home school leadership, one would think that Doug Phillips would want to treat women with much more regard than he does.
Doug Phillips is an attorney and claims to have a biblical world view about law and justice. He even sponsors an annual law conference. This is one of the reasons that we recently exposed Doug on the internet for having conducted a Kangaroo Court in his own church, Boerne Christian Assembly. For those who will take the time to carefully examine the facts, they will come away deeply troubled by the huge disparity between what Doug publicly espouses about justice versus what he actually practices when given the opportunity to exercise justice himself. Without any due process whatsoever, Doug Phillips unjustly excommunicated us for sins that we’d already repented of, as well as sins for which there wasn’t a shred of evidence to support. In fact, one of Doug’s charges against Jen was over a sin that she had committed years before she had even become a Christian, and years after she had repented of that sin! The Lord Jesus forgave her of that sin over seventeen years ago, but apparently Doug Phillips’ standards of forgiveness are far higher than the Lord’s.
After leaving Boerne Christian Assembly, we were welcomed into a church led by Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler. Pastor Wheeler’s church is a “sister church” to BCA. Aside from being a pastor, Little Bear Wheeler is a prominent home school leader and the founder of Mantle Ministries. Doug and Little Bear were close personal friends and have spoken from the podium at many of the same home school conferences and retreats. Little Bear Wheeler worked diligently for fourteen months to reconcile our relationship to Doug Phillips and BCA, but Doug refused to make an appearance for any of the numerous meetings that Little Bear arranged between us. Doug rebuffed all efforts at reconciliation. Worse yet, Doug retaliated against Little Bear by terminating their long friendship, and he even removed most, if not all, Mantle Ministries products from the Vision Forum catalog. For his kindness toward us, Doug Phillips shunned Little Bear Wheeler.
Doug Phillips is a significant leader in the “Family Integrated Church” movement. Many churches do indeed segregate family members by age and pressure parents to have their children participate in youth groups which, though often consistent with the values of public school parents, are often at odds with the values of “family integrated” home school parents. While well intentioned, the family integrated church movement, much like the patriarchy movement, has too often shown itself to be extremist, self-righteous and divisive. Rather than seeking to reform churches from within and wean them from being “programmatic,” the Family Integrated Church movement has become a “program” in itself and has caused a number of church splits. Though Doug Phillips has spoken on “how leave a church honorably,” much of the fruit of the Family Integrated Church movement has been anything but honorable.
Most troubling in its ramifications for how it could adversely impact the cause of Christian education is Doug Phillips’ video documentary “Raising The Allosaur.” Some have referred to this video as a “fakeumentary.” Indeed, there is overwhelming evidence that many of the claims made by Phillips in “Raising The Allosaur” are blatant fabrications. Phillips has never been able to provide any reasonable explanations for the glaring inconsistencies and serious allegations that have been put to him as a result of his video production, masquerading as a documentary. Phillips suffered so much negative public exposure for his fakeumentary that he withdrew it from the Vision Forum catalog, without any public explanation, and he did so in spite of the fact that “Raising The Allosaur” had been a very lucrative product for Vision Forum. Phillips’ fakeumentary has greatly harmed the cause of creationism. If even just a few of the allegations against this video are true, then Doug Phillips is guilty of perpetrating a huge fraud against many thousands of Christians, and especially against Christian home schoolers (in the video Phillips falsely credits home schoolers as having been responsible for finding the allosaur). Phillips owes the Christian public either an explanation or an apology. However, after many such demands, he has completely evaded doing either one. There are numerous other issues that call into question Doug Phillips’ integrity, but “Raising The Allosaur” may be the most glaring example yet.
Perhaps the single greatest risk of all though, in associating with Doug Phillips, are the numerous concerns expressed that he may be a closet racist. We ourselves are not prepared to make such an allegation. We believe that some of these allegations are based on the logical fallacy of “guilt by association.” The problem for Doug, though, is that some of the things that he has said and written do tend to cast strong suspicion on his views of race. Many of Doug Phillips’ personal heroes are notorious racists. As just one example, Doug has written a poem about Robert L. Dabney in which he says, “Hail Dabney, defender of the South!” This is an obvious reference to Dabney’s book, “A Defense Of Virginia and the South.” If you’ve read Dabney’s book, you already know that it was written for one purpose only — as a defense of Southern slavery. Dabney was the South’s strongest apologist for slavery. Dabney had an extremely low view of Blacks, believing that their only appropriate station in life was in perpetual servitude to Whites. For Doug Phillips to “Hail Dabney!” seems extremely problematic.
Doug has left himself wide open to scrutiny on the question of racism. This isn’t to say that we personally believe that Doug is a racist. We do believe, however, that Doug has been very foolish by using his close personal friends to make “racist” allegations against others, based on nothing but guilt by association, when his own associations with known racists are so problematic. We haven’t and we won’t accuse Doug being a racist. However, we believe that the allegations against him of racism are potentially very dangerous to the home school movement.
We would ask that you carefully consider the ramifications of your organization’s relationship with Doug Phillips, through his serving as a speaker at your conferences or otherwise, and the great harm that it could cause to not only your organization’s reputation, but to Christian home education in general, by promoting him and giving him a platform to advance his extremist views.
We recognize that some will choose to immediately dismiss our concerns on the assumption that this is some kind of “personal vendetta motivated by unforgiveness and bitterness.” That’s simply not the case. We both worked for nearly two years to privately reconcile with Doug. We attempted to do so by going through appropriate ecclesiastical channels with not just one, but two different different churches and their elders in our area. In both cases, Doug refused their offers of reconciliation. We’re not motivated by vengeance. We’re motivated by a genuine concern for the well-being of the Christian home school movement.
Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.
Yours for Christian Education,
Mark and Jennifer Epstein
*Our concern about Doug Phillips’ blog article on Virginia Tech is not that Doug is a proponent of the Second Amendment. We are, too. But we also believe that Doug should be consistent. What Doug advocates is a disparity, based on gender. Men are free to carry guns anywhere, including to their college classes, and they do so allegedly to protect the poor, helpless women, while not allowing for women to carry guns for self-defense as well. What would happen if a public university was full of armed men and unarmed women? What would happen if everyone was armed and a debate ensued in a classroom? How long before the first gun came out? Or maybe we have a problem with the hypocrisy of Doug espousing that only the young men be armed, when we see this video of his daughter?
I’ve been asked several times about the well-being of the Epstein family. Some have assumed that since we were kicked out of Boerne Christian Assembly that our lives would be the better for it and our family problems would be over. How I wish that were true. The fact is that the ecclesiastical abuses and tyranny that we experienced at BCA, under Doug Phillips’ heavy hand, have left deep wounds. Those wounds are still in the healing phase and the fallout from all this has had serious adverse consequences to the well-being of the Epstein family.
As I’ve stated before, we came to BCA not a perfect family, but at least our problems weren’t severe. In fact, our marriage was the best it had ever been. Our marital problems could have all been worked through and resolved, if only we had had a loving and compassionate pastor.
The problems with our children in particular were mild and could have been easily addressed. Those problems were the result of the issues in our marriage and the fact that we had only recently learned biblical parenting skills and techniques. Children know when things aren’t going well between dad and mom, and when those problems aren’t dealt with in a healthy manner, then the risk is high that one or more of the children will rebel.
We came to BCA with some baggage, but then that’s how a lot of couples come to church. It’s also one of the reasons they come to church in the first place — to get rid of their baggage. Many people come to church not because they epitomize the “perfect family” that desires to fellowship with other perfect families, but because they know they’re not perfect. They know they need help. What better place to get help than from the church of Jesus Christ? At least that’s what we thought. Some have likened the church to a hospital, a place where the sick come for healing and to convalesce. Once they’re made well, they’re that much better equipped to relate and minister to others in similar predicaments.
We come to church to be healed, not harmed. When we’re harmed by our own brethren, and in particular by men in ecclesiastical authority, men in positions of trust, men we place our confidence in, the consequences are often devastating. Many who have written about ecclesiastical abuse liken it to being raped. It may not be a literal raping, but it feels much the same.
“It took several years to understand and label the deep devastation and trauma I was experiencing. My symptoms were identical to the symptoms of those who suffered from sexual or physical abuse. How could this possibly be? Was I abused?” Ken Blue, a pastor in Southern California, explains very simply that abuse of any type occurs when someone has power over another and uses that power to hurt. Physical abuse means that someone exercises physical power over another, causing physical wounds. Sexual abuse means that someone exercises sexual power over another, resulting in sexual wounds. And spiritual abuse happens when a leader with spiritual authority uses that authority to coerce, control or exploit a follower, thus causing spiritual wounds… It was so difficult to understand what was happening to me emotionally, physically and especially spiritually. I didn’t understand that I was having the same reactions as someone who had been raped.” Toxic Churches, Marc A. Dupont, pages 34, 37.
A woman who has been raped will very likely have a hard time trusting men again. She can be terribly confused about sex. She may equate sex with her own husband as being hurtful and even evil. She’ll have difficulties with trust in relationships. Just like with a literal physical rape, ecclesiastical rape destroys trust in church leaders. It can be very difficult to ever trust church elders again. This is what we faced when we subsequently came to Faith Presbyterian Church. It was extremely hard for us to trust those elders, but we knew that it was important for our healing and spiritual growth to do so. After that failed attempt, it will now just be that much more difficult to ever join a church again. It’s not that we’re not open to it. It’s just very hard to even consider trusting elders again.
Our BCA experience feels like we were raped, but it can also be summarized as “betrayal.” Betrayal by someone in authority can have devastating and long term consequences. We’re now living daily with the consequences of Doug’s betrayal, and those consequences have been devastating to our family.
“[Ecclesiastical abuse] is not only wrong because of the misuse of authority and immediate harm to the victim, but it is deeply wrong because basically it is betrayal. It is betrayal of… the follower, who by the very nature of the relationship is usually very trusting and somewhat dependent on the one with power. In such cases the long-term effects of betrayal can, in fact, be ruinous to the overall mental and spiritual health of victims for the rest of their lives if healing is not found. Subsequent relationships with friends, loved ones and potential friends and loved ones can often fail ever to reach the true potential of love and trust. This betrayal and hurt can rob the victim of the freedom of trusting and choosing to be vulnerable again. Toxic Churches, Mark A. Dupont, page 14.
We came to BCA with some marital issues in the past, although things seemed to be going rather well when we first began attending there. We had had similar issues that many Christian couples have. Our problems weren’t in any way unique, nor were they complex or insurmountable. But after Mark started hearing Doug’s “vision” on how the man was to be the head of his family, Mark became quite frustrated. Every week, he would hear something about men leading, but he was never taught what that actually looked like. He attempted to work that out for himself, but it ended up that our marriage was taking 2-3 steps backward for every step forward in this “vision.” We thought we could trust Doug Phillips, so we shared, in confidence, our problems. We trusted Doug to keep those things in confidence. Isn’t it a given that a pastor will keep things in confidence, particularly sensitive family matters? Doug betrayed our confidences. Rather than using the information we shared with him to provide us with wise, biblical counsel, Doug used everything we told him against us. In his hyper-patriarchal framework, I was the bad guy. According to Doug, I was a “whore,” a “Jezebel,” a “nag,” and a “dripping faucet.” All the fault had to be mine. Doug Phillips is not known to have ever asked a wife, “Does your husband love you as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her?”
This is the presupposition of the hyper-patriarch. Doug ignored all the evidence to the contrary, including the very testimony of my husband. This isn’t to say that I was without sin. It is to say that I was never guilty of the things that Doug accused me of, and that he tried to convince my husband that I was guilty of. Unfortunately, for a time at least, my husband did start to believe those things about me. Later he repented, and I’ve forgiven him for that.
Our relatively minor marital problems were severely exacerbated by Doug’s “counseling.” Rather than confronting Mark’s anger problems, Doug justified Mark’s anger by blaming me for allegedly being “unsubmissive” and even “rebellious.” Doug never provided any evidence that I was unsubmissive. It was just assumed that I was. Rather than working to resolve our problems, Doug immediately looked for someone to blame, and a hyper-patriarch will always blame the wife. Rather than diminishing Mark’s anger issues, Doug only fueled the fires of Mark’s anger. Abusive pastors just breed abuse in the home. Rather than helping our marriage, Doug sabotaged our marriage.
Looking back on it now I can plainly see that we made a major mistake in ever sharing our hearts with Doug. What we didn’t understand at the time is that Doug has a certain image, a “vision,” of what BCA must be. BCA isn’t a church for the wounded and hurting. BCA is a church for those who already have their act together, and if they don’t have their act together, they’d better keep their problems to themselves. They’d better just do their best to act like the vision. Disclosing family problems is a threat to Doug’s “vision.” It upsets Doug’s image of the perfect church. By disclosing our problems we became a threat to his vision. We had to be condemned and removed.
The trust that Doug violated with us has bred distrust in our own home. One of our marital problems was trusting one another. Doug only fanned the flames of distrust. Since then it’s been just that much more difficult for Mark and me to trust one another.
Perhaps the single greatest consequence to our family is how it’s affected our eldest daughter, Natasha. Prior to coming to BCA, I had a reasonably good relationship with Natasha. Natasha and I spent countless hours talking together and sharing our hearts. As a stay at home, home school mom, I always had lots of time for Natasha. Doug’s betrayal made a deep and lasting impression on Natasha, and the subsequent consequences to her, in particular, have been devastating. Natasha trusted us with our decision to join BCA. That decision proved to be one of the biggest mistakes of our lives. We have to accept responsibility for our decision, and we do. We were the ones who made that decision, and I grieve every day over what that’s done to our family, and her in particular.
When Mark and I were “excommunicated,” BCA shunned us. But they didn’t just shun Mark and me, they shunned our entire family. Overnight, Natasha lost all of her friends. What sin was she guilty of? Nothing, other than being an Epstein. In some ways, Natasha has been even more betrayed than Mark and me. Natasha was an obedient and godly young lady, a young lady that even Doug was proud to have as a member of his church. She was even the runner-up for a Vision Forum writing contest, but shortly after our “excommunication” Doug removed her name from the Vision Forum web site. He punished her for no other reason than that she’s an Epstein.
Doug now bears much responsibility for causing a Christian teenager to stumble. Natasha became so disillusioned that she left home and has turned far away from Doug’s extreme teachings ever since then. We pray for her every day, but we also understand why it’s happened. It’s hard to blame her after everything she’s been through. Doug bears a heavy liability for what’s become of her.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt. 18:6
Putting the pieces back together again won’t be easy. For one thing, we know that we need pastoral help. But after everything we’ve been through, how are we to ever trust another pastor? Yes, we know that all pastors aren’t like Doug. The problem for us is in being able to accurately identify a pastor we can trust (our subsequent FPC experience hasn’t helped). Thankfully, we do have a few godly and faithful Christian friends who have been compassionate and understanding toward us. The Lord does provide.
Our family isn’t better for our BCA experience. It’s been a nightmare that we’re still suffering the consequences from. Our family problems haven’t been resolved, but we pray every day that they will be. We’re not going to give up and allow the Enemy to have the victory.
Some have assumed that our blogs are about “vengeance,” motivated by “unforgiveness” and bitterness.” They are not, and that’s not what we’re about. Our objective is motivated entirely by our great concern that if we’re silent, Doug will be given the opportunity to just continue abusing other Christian families. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I had an opportunity to speak out and possibly prevent it, but because of cowardice I remained silent. From what I’ve read about ecclesiastical abuse, that’s what most people do. They just walk away from it without saying a thing. That’s the easy way out, but it just leaves the tyrant in a position to harm others. My conscience won’t allow me to do that. What I’m doing isn’t popular, and it’s certainly not making me many friends, but I believe it’s the right thing to do.
“Myles, why have you turned so bitter toward us? We never meant you wrong! Can’t we talk about this?”
This is a line from Doug Phillips’ latest Jonathan Park series, The Hunt for Beowulf, in The Return to Iwo Jima, part 3. Listen to what Doug Phillips actively purports as biblical conflict resolution in this story:
The Creation Response Team had a previous falling out with one of its former members, Myles Morgan. When they all cross paths again in an exciting adventure in Iwo Jima, Myles starts firing some old Japanese WWII weapons at the Creation Response Team. Jonathan Park’s father, Dr. Kendall Park, implores him, “Myles, what are you doing?”
Tauntingly, Myles retorts, “I’m eliminating the competition!”
Dr. Park then pleads with him: “Myles, why have you turned so bitter toward us? We never meant you wrong! Can’t we talk about this?”
This seems to be what Doug Phillips is advocating as biblical conflict resolution. I have no problem with this. In fact, since neither of us have ever attempted to shoot at one another, our relationship shouldn’t be nearly as far gone as that of Myles Morgan and the Creation Response Team. As producer of the Jonathan Park series, Doug’s fingerprints are all over each episode, so I can only assume that this is what Doug is personally advocating.
So, since I know that Doug Phillips reads my blog, this invitation is personally to you, Doug:
Why have you turned so bitter against us? We never meant you wrong! Can’t we talk about this?
Doug, you know how to reach me; you know where I am. I’m ready to sit down and talk about this, one on one. You choose the time and the place.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35
Why is it that some churches can have right doctrine, right theology, the right values, emphasize the right Bible verses, have the right world view, and yet after only a short time of doing things right something goes terribly wrong? What starts out as something very special is soon corrupted.
When I first started attending BCA, Doug Phillips had just finished preaching a series of messages on “one another-ing.” The church had studied how to love one another, greet one another, care for one another’s burdens, be hospitable, forgive one another, serve one another, give preference to one another, admonish and exhort one another, among many other commands on how we are treat our brothers and sisters in Christ. We stepped in right as BCA had been saturated with learning the second greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
That first year there, I cannot recall any bickering or fighting or backbiting whatsoever. There was no gossiping and Matthew 18 just wasn’t necessary. There definitely was no judgmental spirit.
On my very first Sunday at BCA, we were invited the next day to a special event that was taking place at an IBLP conference. Lew Sterrett was going to be teaching the Sermon on the Mount by breaking a wild horse, so I thought appropriate attire, in August in South Texas, would be short shorts and a tank top (my values about attire were much different then). When I showed up, it quickly became apparent that ALL the other women were in long dresses, but no one judged me that day. Not one person said a word and many of the women came up and greeted me anyway. We were invited to dinner the next week at a home where the family did all dress very conservatively. Again, no judging.
So what changed? Why today are so many BCA women afraid to be seen in public in pants? Why do some women go out of their way to avoid those they know are going to say something about their choice of clothing? Why do some women feel it is their responsibility to tell everyone else how to dress? Did I miss that verse in the one another-ing list?
I really don’t know what changed, but I can point to some patterns that I noticed. The first situation that stands out in my mind regards leaders setting the example. The first year we were at BCA, Doug Phillips was present nearly every Sunday and he preached at least half the time. Church was held at his home and he would sometimes go down to the end of the road and stand there and greet everyone coming in. He was always a very gracious host and was constantly available. Since church at BCA was nearly an all day event, we were often at Doug’s home from 10 in the morning until 5 or 6 in the evening. Doug would set the example in loving one another during that time and was nearly always mixing with the brothers all day.
And then we moved. Or rather, the Phillips family moved, and so the church moved with them. That conference season, Doug had a sharp increase in speaking engagements, and he was gone quite a bit more than before. When he was home on a Sunday, he would usually still spend time with other members, but he seemed to disappear a while before most of us went home. It was only a matter of time until he would go take a nap on Sunday afternoons rather than stay and fellowship in his own home, or sometimes he would just sleep all day on Sunday.
By the time the church moved again, a couple years later, Doug Phillips was only showing up once a month. Now, I understand his ratio averages once every two months. The last year I was at BCA, on the Sundays Doug would actually show up, he would usually arrive late and would often leave immediately after the sermon, while the rest of us were still praying. Doug is now a Christian celebrity and has very little time to care for his flock.
So how much one another-ing is Doug Phillips practicing now? How much love does he show for the brethren? (We won’t even talk about the sisters in this article!) How much time does he invest in his sheep? It’s not like he’s just another traveling man in the congregation. Doug was our SOLE elder. Where was he? I think of Jesus’ example of being a shepherd when He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and they know Me.”
Pastors are often known as “under-shepherds,” meaning that they care for Christ’s sheep under His authority. Clearly, an under-shepherd should know his sheep and know them well. Did we know Doug? Did he know us? At first it really seemed that he did, and that he really cared for us. But as Doug’s popularity grew, and his travel itinerary intensified, he soon became a stranger to us. Doug not only no longer cared about us, it was apparent that his celebrity status had gone to his head. Doug started treating us as though he was better than us.
A particular speech I really enjoy giving is entitled, “How Do Children Spell Love? T-I-M-E.” As sheep without a shepherd, how does Doug show that he loves us? How can he possibly “one another” us when he’s not there? When he runs out the door immediately after the conclusion of the church service, rather than staying to fellowship and minister to his sheep, how is he demonstrating love?
Do you know how often Doug invited church members over to his home just to fellowship? I’m not talking about just church parties. He was great at putting on a party where he would be the center of attention. I’m just talking about having a family over for dinner. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that part of being an elder? There were 20 families at BCA. In five years, Doug and Beall never invited us over for dinner. They never invited 90% of the church over for dinner or fellowship. Doug talks about hospitality a lot and he has the interns over all the time and he has out of town guests over all the time, but he didn’t have his own sheep over, nor did he accept invitations from church members for dinner. Is that a biblical example of one another-ing?
Could it be that underneath the vision for Patriarchy, the vision for men leading their families, the vision for submissive wives, the vision for age-integrated church, the vision for correct doctrine and theology, the vision for music that glorifies God, the vision for doing “church” God’s way, that somewhere along the way, Doug forgot the most important ingredient – the second greatest commandment? Talking about love is a good first step. Spending TIME with people is living it out. Doug Phillips is so busy with his vision, he has no TIME for people anymore. Time equals love.
“It’s a son’s task in life to spread the fame and the glory of his father in the same way that the Lord Jesus Christ spread the fame and the glory of His Father in heaven.”
A friend recently asked me this seemingly odd question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” I had to laugh because I understood immediately what my friend was really asking me. Doesn’t everyone have a mother? Yes, and of course Doug Phillips has a mother. Why then does Doug so seldom ever speak of his mother, or even publicly acknowledge her?
Doug Phillips is known for his teachings about honor, a subject which he seems to take extremely seriously. It’s also a subject that he’s used to make tremendous profits from.
The subject of honor is much needed in both the world and the church today. In fact, before I sat under Doug’s teaching and preaching, I didn’t know much at all about honor and the 5th Commandment. It was a foreign concept to me. I learned a lot about honor from Doug Phillips’ teaching and from what I saw lived out in his life… at least with his father. My friend is well justified, though, in asking about Doug Phillips’ mother. Doug seldom ever mentions her, whereas he routinely “spread the fame and the glory of his father.”
There’s no question that our culture has lost interest in honoring parents, elders, and others that Scripture instructs us to honor. Doug Phillips is rightly challenging a culture of dishonor. However, sometimes in their enthusiasm to right a wrong, Christian leaders have a tendency to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. In other words, they become extremists. I believe that is the case with at least some of Doug’s teachings, and this includes what he teaches regarding honor. When does honor become adulation? When does honor place practically as much value on men as on God or His Word? When does honor cross the line into becoming idolatry?
Doug has set a good example for us in showing us how we should honor our military veterans, our fathers, our pastors and teachers, and others who have positively influenced our lives. But I had to cringe when Doug teamed up with his father, Howard Phillips, and the elder and younger Sprouls, for a conference on honoring parents last May. It was bad enough that Doug Phillips was obviously honoring a man who had just been recently defrocked by the RPCGA for ecclesiastical abuse and tyranny, tax fraud, breaking his ordination vows, and other serious things. Doug Phillips took a public stand with RC Sproul, Jr as a speaker when RC, Jr had just been severely disciplined by his presbytery. Rather than submitting to the RPCGA, Sproul publicly dishonored the Presbyterian elders that he vowed to submit to by publicly disparaging them.
I looked at my own excommunication by Doug Phillips and saw that he had required that ALL Christians not only treat me as a heathen and a publican, but never to even eat with me, as Doug would consider that a sin. Doug Phillips expected everyone to uphold what he tried to pawn off as a biblical excommunication. But did he follow that same biblical pattern when his own good friend, RC Sproul Jr, was justly disciplined and that he’s never repented of? At least RC, Jr. admitted to some of the accusations leveled against him. But he has not repented, and he is currently preaching in open rebellion to the presbytery that disciplined him. But Doug Phillips chose to honor a defrocked minister, and he insists that others honor him too.
Then Doug Phillips went on to speak about honoring his father. Anyone who knows the least little bit about Doug Phillips will agree that Doug obviously honors his father. No one can dispute that. And we can learn some things from his example. But has that sense of honor gone a little overboard? Does Doug Phillips go on and on and on in talking about his father to the point of making those around him uncomfortable? Has he elevated his father to a level that is above honor? Does it border on idolatry? When I compare his honor of his father to that of his mother, I certainly have to wonder.
Which brings me back to my friend’s question: “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?” Well, of course he has a mother, but what my friend was really asking was if Doug Phillips preaches so much about the fifth commandment, and we see his constant and extreme honor of his father, did he forget the other half of the commandment? Why don’t we see Doug honor his mother?
If you look through Doug’s blog, for instance, you will see Doug write about his father over and over and over again. That’s good. But, now go look for his mother. If I remember correctly, Doug has only mentioned her three times. I may be off in my total, but not by much. Why the disparity?
From personal experience, I remember several occasions when Doug’s father would attend BCA. Although he had been several times previously, and everyone already knew who Howard Phillips was, Doug always made a point of introducing his father each time anyway. It was never a nice, simple introduction, but was usually an elaborate occasion, another opportunity for Doug to “honor” his father. I wouldn’t have minded if I hadn’t seen how he “honored” his mother when she came to visit. I only remember her coming to visit once while I was there (she may have come on a Sunday when I was not in attendance; I am not saying that she only came just once.) But I do clearly remember the lack of any introduction of his mother that Sunday. That is how I remember Doug “honoring” his mother.
When I went on a tour with Doug Phillips once, and his mother was in attendance, I do not recall him paying her any special attention, and this is in stark contrast to the considerable attention that he never fails to give his father. Whenever we had the opportunity to observe Doug’s interaction with his parents it was always apparent that Doug’s treatment of his father was vastly different from that toward his mother.
Again, why? Does Doug’s mother not deserve as much honor as his father? Did she do something horrible to Doug growing up? Doesn’t the fifth commandment include both father and mother? I could speculate, but I’d rather not do that. However, something is terribly wrong and even hypocritical about the glaring disparity between the way Doug honors his father and the way he doesn’t honor his mother.
One thing is obvious though; if Doug Phillips were one to honor his mother, it’s unlikely that anyone would ever ask the question, “Does Doug Phillips have a mother?”
“This is not about reconciliation; this is only about the Epsteins repenting.”
We were informed last week that Doug Phillips has refused to be reconciled with us.
Doug Phillips has rejected the peacemaking/reconciliation proposal that the elders at Faith Presbyterian Church of San Antonio attempted to facilitate. As I wrote previously, we were very encouraged to know that all the FPC elders have gone through the Peacemaker Ministries training and that several of them are “Certified Christian Conciliators.” We were led to believe that if anyone could help us, these men could. We also believed that Doug would be hard pressed to refuse to enter into Christian conciliation when it was to be facilitated by men who are certified with a conciliation ministry that is as highly respected as Peacemaker Ministries. Doug Phillips told the elders that there is only one way for the Epsteins to be reconciled with me; they must come to me and repent fully without any equivocation of everything that we excommunicated them for, and they also have to repent for blogging about me.
Doug Phillips told the FPC session that our blogging about him “hurt him.” We’re not exactly sure what that means (did we hurt his feelings?), but that’s obviously just a smoke screen and a means of shifting focus from the original issues. We weren’t excommunicated for blogging about Doug Phillips, so even if we were to now “repent” to him for blogging about him, as far as he’s concerned, it wouldn’t change anything anyway. He remains convinced of all of his original allegations against us, and he sees no problems with his Kangaroo Court excommunication of the Epsteins.
From Doug’s perspective, the Epsteins are 100% wrong, he’s 100% right, end of discussion. We have to admit to everything he accuses us of, we’re not allowed to accuse him of anything, and if we won’t do that, he won’t ever lift the excommunication judgment against us. In other words he seeks to hold us as hostages in a state of perpetual spiritual enslavement.
Although many others have commented that Doug’s behavior is “cultish,” we ourselves have avoided making those allegations. However, in the future we may not avoid making those kinds of allegations ourselves. Doug has now more than proven to us that he’s completely devoid of any character attributes that would qualify him as a shepherd, and it would seem that he does evidence all the character attributes of a (sociological) cult leader.
For those who’ve been following this story, you already know why Doug’s dictatorial formula for reconciliation can’t possibly work, and why reconciliation by such autocratic edicts is futile. Doug Phillips’ latest decree requires that we lie. We would have to lie because what Doug demands is that we confess sins and beg forgiveness of things:
In other words we’d have to lie. We’d have to bear false witness about ourselves. We’d have to break the ninth commandment. Furthermore, we’d have to lie by saying that our blogging about Doug is sinful. We have no such convictions and no one has provided any credibly biblical support to show that our blogging about Doug was a sin.
We didn’t take our blog articles offline because we believed that our blogging about Doug was sinful. We took them down only because the FPC session asked us to as a means of paving the way for reconciliation. They also told us to refrain from any further blogging about Doug and BCA, as well as commenting on other blogs, during the time they pursued peacemaking and reconciliation with Doug on our behalf. We complied with everything we were told to do (and no, we didn’t comment anywhere under aliases either). We complied fully with every single thing the FPC session required of us, and we did so without a complaint. In so doing, we hoped to demonstrate that we’re not rebellious and we’re quite capable of submitting to elders. We also wanted to demonstrate our sincerity in seeking reconciliation.
Obviously, though, Doug shares no such interest. During the time of our compelled silence, Doug Phillips’ close personal friends and “former interns” continued their assaults against us with a string of false accusations and weird conspiracy theories. It was no easy thing for us to keep quiet while we were being falsely accused. Our compelled silence only served as an opportunity to show the world Doug Phillips’ true nature. Doug Phillips is a master saboteur. When he was our pastor, we came to him for help with our marriage, but instead of helping us, he effectively sabotaged our marriage. In fact, he sabotaged our entire family. Our children have yet to recover from the betrayal they were subjected to by Doug Phillips.
It therefore came as no surprise to us that Doug would employ the services of his close personal friend and political hatchet man, Matt Chancey, and his “former interns” (often used as code language for “current Vision Forum employees”) in particular, to keep up a steady assault against us during our time of compelled silence, in an all too obvious attempt to sabotage our relations with Faith Presbyterian Church. With two phone calls or emails, Doug could’ve called for a cease fire. But continuing to smear us by his internet assassin friends and “former interns,” while he knew we had to remain silent, gave him a huge advantage. We believe, however, that many were paying close attention and that all Doug’s tactics really accomplished were to confirm what a bully he really is.
Not only is Doug a bully but he’s a politician. He was raised by a politician and has been well trained in political scheming. Tragically, it appears now that Doug Phillips has successfully sabotaged our formerly good relations at Faith Presbyterian Church. Make no mistake, it took more than a couple of attack-blogs by his friends and “former interns” to accomplish that. Doug himself was personally and actively involved in that.
Unless we’re provoked into making additional disclosures about that situation, we’re not likely to blog about FPC. At this point we’ll just say that we’re very disappointed with the FPC session, and their apparent lack of courage in standing up to a bully. We did warn them that Doug can be not only cunningly persuasive but that he will resort to threats and intimidation to get what he wants. It appears now that the FPC elders were cowed by Phillips in a similar way that the pastor of our previous church was cowed. He, too, attempted to facilitate reconciliation on our behalf, but he proved himself less than manly.
The only bright spot in all this is that it didn’t take two years like it did last time. Last time, Doug agreed to meet for reconciliation. In fact, he agreed multiple times, only to cancel every single meeting at the last minute. After 14 months of attempting to set up a meeting with Doug Phillips, he finally met with the elders of our last church, only to accuse them of sinning as well. We warned the FPC session of Doug’s MO of cancelling meetings and using intermediaries and blaming everyone but himself. FPC agreed with us that they wouldn’t wait around for months for Doug to make an appearance, and they agreed with us that they couldn’t negotiate with Doug’s intermediaries. Reconciliation can only occur with the parties who were directly involved in the original offense.
This time, after only a few cancellations, Doug actually did meet with the elders. But just like he did with the previous church session, he called the FPC session “wicked sinners for fellowshipping with and entertaining ex-communicants.” Apparently that may have been all it took to cow the FPC session.
We had been told not long ago, “Doug Phillips apparently expects everyone to have to shun you. If he expects the FPC session to do that he’s going to be disappointed.” In the end, though, it was the FPC session that bent to Doug’s will. Through political arm-twisting, or threats, or whatever other pressures he brought to bear, Doug Phillips “won.” Doug Phillips sabotaged our peacemaking efforts. But is Doug’s refusal of peacemaking and reconciliation really a “win” for him? We don’t think so. In fact, it’s likely to only hurt his reputation even more.
In spite of our great disappointment with the FPC session, we don’t intend to speak further about them. We therefore would prefer to not address any questions regarding FPC. Our blogging is going to remain focused on the problem, and the problem is Doug Phillips.
We won’t be making any more attempts at reconciliation with Doug Phillips. Having now exhausted every conceivable avenue of reconciliation with Doug Phillips, we believe that we have no choice but to re-post all our former articles.
More to come… soon.
To all our readers, greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, whose blood is sufficient to atone for even the vilest sins of any who truly thank Him for His righteous life and substitutionary death.
We’ve requested membership at Faith Presbyterian Church (PCA) in San Antonio, Texas. We have fully described our excommunication by Boerne Christian Assembly (BCA) to our Session of Elders. The Session has agreed to work with us toward reconciliation and restoration, and we have agreed to submit to their authority as ordained Elders.
There are certain terms and conditions that the Faith Session will place upon us to begin the process of restoring us to communicant church membership. In fulfilling these obligations, the Session will have evidence we are sincere in our desire to become members of Faith Presbyterian Church under the authority of their Session. The very first of those issues is that we demonstrate a willingness to be reconciled with our brethren at BCA.
Faith Presbyterian Church considers reconciliation and peacemaking to be a Biblical mandate for the whole Body of Christ. Several FPC members are certified Christian conciliators with Peacemaker Ministries. FPC has agreed to do everything possible to assist us in being reconciled with Doug Phillips and Boerne Christian Assembly.
In the view of our elders, the fact that we are unlikely to attempt to become members of BCA again is irrelevant to the necessity for brethren to seek reconciliation with one another. Though we have made attempts at reconciliation before, perhaps with many of you fervently praying toward that end, God will be pleased to unite the injured parties together again in Christ and to demonstrate His peace before a watching and skeptical world.
In order to lay the groundwork toward reconciliation, the Session has requested we take offline any of our blog articles, links and feedback comments on any website of our creation, or under our control, that contain accusations against Doug Phillips, members of his family, or BCA. Although Ministry Watchman isn’t under our control, we will formally request that they likewise take offline the articles about us by Charles Fisher.
This request by our Elders was made primarily for two reasons:
In submitting to our Session of Elders, we will no longer comment publicly about our conflict with Doug Phillips, or others at BCA, on any website or blog, while the Session of Faith Presbyterian Church seeks the peace and purity of the Church of Jesus Christ through reconciliation.
We ask all our readers to pray for a successful reconciliation. Sin is not absent from any of us in this life, so please pray diligently for the Holy Spirit to move sinners to repentance at the foot of the Cross.
Pray also that the Lord would calm our fears. After what we’ve already been through, it’s not an easy thing for us to submit to church elders. We want to trust these men and to believe the best of them. They’ve shown themselves to be caring and compassionate towards us. We do believe that they’re sincere, and that they intend God’s best for us. But we have to admit that there are times that we still feel intimidated and afraid of a process that we’re unfamiliar with. This is, after all, the very first Presbyterian church that we’ve ever been in, and Presbyterians do things a lot differently from what we’re used to.
Our hope is that we will be able to soon report a complete reconciliation between the Epstein family and the brothers and sisters at Boerne Christian Assembly. At that time, perhaps web sites that once held accusations can be filled with rejoicing and details of revival in relationships, offering hope for others in conflict, and giving honor and glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In the name of the Prince of Peace,
Mark and Jennifer Epstein
Mark and I have recently established relations with several Christian conciliators certified through Peacemaker Ministries. We’re very encouraged by the wise counsel that they’ve given us.
Because of their strong convictions about reconciliation, they’ve told us that there are certain things that they request to be done about our blogs. The first issue that needs to be dealt with is to edit and or delete any comments which might be viewed as personal attacks on Doug Phillips and Boerne Christian Assembly.
We’ve solicited some outside help to assist us with the editing process, somebody who can probably be a bit more objective than we can. The fact is, though, that we’ve rejected a number of comments already that were quite inflammatory and uncharitable against Doug. However, we’ve been told that there is still editing that needs to be done.
So, as a first step in submitting to these conciliators and working toward reconciliation, we ask that everyone please understand why this needs to be done. Although you may fully believe what you have written here, we ask that you would be willing to join with us in prayer for reconciliation with Doug Phillips and Boerne Christian Assembly and trust us, as we trust these conciliators, to be as charitable as possible in editing all comments already approved on this site. We hope to ensure all comments comply with the requirements of Eph 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.”
We sincerely thank you for your many prayers and concerns and for all the encouraging comments, and we pray that this situation would be used ultimately for the glory of God.