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Romans 2:19-24
if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark,  an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?

You who preach against stealing, do you steal?

You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?

You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 

As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

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As details of the Doug Phillips story have been unfolding, an increasing number of people coming forward to share what they know, what they’ve experienced.  This is to be expected.  Many people have been silenced, perhaps in fear, and have been waiting for an opportunity to come forward.

Even though they may not have been involved personally, they are still affected because they were or are part of the community.  They feel betrayed by a leader who taught and professed one message, but behaved immorally and reprehensibly behind their backs.  He acted as a fraud and this is shocking, especially taking into account that Phillips pretended to be a godly leader.

As more people share, others will likely follow suit.  I want to highlight a few comments that came in on an earlier post — they clarify what the word apostasy in this post’s title means. Then I’ll follow up with some important words to consider about how we can show support to survivors of Doug Phillips’ actions. That really is the key thing for us as a survivor community to focus on now, but those thoughts will make more sense after piecing together some information about Doug Phillips and the extent to which he lived contrary to the message he preached.

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T.W. Eston NOVEMBER 13, 2013 @ 9:57 AM (Note JA added paragraphs for easier reading.)

Julie Anne,You seemed to appreciate the last time I cross-post one of my comments that I first posted at Doug Wilson’s blog. I do so again for the same reason — to ensure that if it gets deleted from there I at least have some confidence that you will not do so yourself. Thanks for your consideration.

Shannon, I’ll assume that you include me in “Some of these comments are ridiculous.” I can see that you’re having trouble connecting the dots. Let me help you with that in a way that, hopefully, will serve to encourage you not to be so dismissive of the seriousness of these matters.

Scott Brown, the man from whose sermon I quoted above, the sermon that was crafted especially for, and targeted at, Doug Phillips, is one of Doug Phillips’ closest friends and confidants and has been for a number of years. Scott Brown is also one of the three Board members of Vision Forum Ministries. He’s an insider, a man who knows far more the extent of Doug Phillips’ sins (and likely crimes) than do you, or Doug Wilson. He has good cause to vote, along with the other Board Members, to dissolve Vision Forum Ministries.The Board of Vision Forum Ministries would not have taken such an extreme measure had Phillips only been guilty of the sin of cheating on his wife. Boards of lucrative and financially viable ministries don’t ever dissolve over relatively minor scandals like this one. If that were all that had been all that had been going on the board would be more than competent to handle the damage control and move forward with someone else at the helm, at least until such time as Phillips went through the necessary steps of restoration. It’s been done successfully before.

The real scandals (and likely crimes) of Douglas W. Phillips are much more damning than an “inappropriately affectionate” relationship. The extreme measure of dissolving Vision Forum Ministries is commensurate with the egregious sins of Doug Phillips that made it necessary. Scott Brown also has good cause to direct an entire sermon at Doug Phillips and to speak of him as an “apostate.” Because of Scott Brown’s knowledge, and the knowledge of the other VFM board members, all of whom were close personal friends of Doug Phillips for some years, they acted swiftly to put an end to the most important venue through which Doug Phillips perpetrates his apostasy. Scott Brown isn’t charging Phillips with apostasy as it concerns moral beliefs and teachings. He and Phillips are on the same exact doctrinal page — home schooling, patriarchy, family integrated church, stay at home daughters, quiver full, etc. Just read his statement at http://www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/the_board_of_vision_forum_mini.aspx.

When Scott Brown speaks of Doug Phillips’ apostasy he’s addressing Phillips’ sinful behavior which is diametrically opposed to the messages that Phillips preaches, one of which would be “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But that’s only one of the ways in which Doug Phillips has become, over the period of at least ten years, apostate. There is much more long term sin in Phillips’ life than just the sin of years of adultery, and those are sins that Phillips has never repented of and likely never will. Scott Brown is now aware of some of those apostasies and over coming days and weeks will become aware of even more. We’re talking heinous sin, even criminal acts, far worse than just cheating on his wife.

As Brown points out in his sermon these sins aren’t one time events of having “fallen into sin” (your mention, Shannon, of David would be an example of “falling into sin” — Solomon would not be such an example, but it would be a good example of what Brown calls “sliding into sin”). Brown is addressing sins that Phillips “slid” into and remained in willfully and unrepentantly over years and years. He slid down the slippery slope because he was drawn in by his own pride and lust — he was enticed by sin (as we all can be), but rather than hating it he toyed with it over and over, he drew closer and closer, and once he outright acted on it he justified it rather than repent of it. Doug Phillips still hasn’t repented because repentance must be robust and thoroughgoing, as does the confessing that goes along with it. Doug Phillips’ so-called “confession” is the confession of the crafty attorney that he is. He conceals far more than he discloses. The “smell of apostasy” indeed.

Most commenters here, including Doug Wilson, seem more than eager to trust in the sincerity of the so-called confession and repentance of an apostate. But that trust will evaporate in time as more and more of Doug Phillips’ sins and crimes become widely known. I agree with Doug Wilson that it’s wrong to be gleeful over the downfall of a religious leader, though I disagree that the gleeful are by their actions necessarily “enemies of God”. I tend to agree far more with Scott Brown that Doug Phillips is apostate, and that he needs to come to repentance.

I don’t rejoice that he had to step down nine months ago as the teaching elder of the church he founded, that he’s had to resign from his ministry, and that that ministry is being dissolved. It’s all very tragic, no doubt even more so for those who had put so much of their trust in the man. I pray for Doug Phillips’ repentance because, unlike so many others here, I don’t assume an apostate is repentant merely because he says he is. I’m still waiting to see some evidence consistent with repentance. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8). Such fruit goes far beyond a lawyerly “confession”.

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Julie Anne  NOVEMBER 13, 2013 @ 11:54 AM 

T.W. Eston:

Feel free to continue cross-posting your comments. You obviously have a good understanding of the people involved, their ties with each other, and the culture. Your comments have been excellent and need to be seen. This is the perfect place for them :)

One question for you: You said that he had to step down as teaching elder and also from his ministry. Are you saying he was forced to, or he voluntarily did so out of his own sense of remorse? That is one piece of the puzzle that has not been made clear.

Frankly, if this is the case – that he has been forced to step down – I think the Board of Vision Forum Ministries should have made that clear in their public response.

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The affair was with a younger woman (girl) in her teenage years who was very involved with the ministries of both VF and the church. She also helped greatly with the family’s children as a nanny for many years.

This affair has gone on at least 10 years – although she is of age now, she was not when the affair began.

Sorry to reveal so much, I believe this to be true, and the truth sets people free.

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Julie Anne  NOVEMBER 13, 2013 @ 1:03 PM

Nikki,

Do you know this woman? (please do not name her) Is she in a safe place? Does she need help? If she needs help, please let us know. I am sure that we can spread the word and get some real help. Please feel free to contact me privately spiritualsb@gmail.com

Edited to add: If this was a sexual abuse situation, do you know if it has been reported to authorities?

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Julie Anne  NOVEMBER 13, 2013 @ 1:26 PM 

My head is spinning. I had heard this “affair” was going on for 6 years (unverified) and that was bad enough. *If* it is true that it has been going on for 10 years, this should be a loud and clanging wake-up call to the Christian community who has long supported Phillips. They need to understand the level of secrecy and control that has been going on in the Phillips Empire for a long, long time.

You have confirmed what I have heard many places about the woman being a nanny.

To have a facade of purity and modesty, godly families, godly fathers, stay-at-home daughters who dote and serve not only fathers, but men outside their home . . . .and then beneath that veneer, violate an innocent, unsuspecting young lady is at the height of cruelty and abuse. We must be enraged at this abuse. We cannot allow this type of abuse where men can take possession of women. I am seething.

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Thanks Julie Anne for your courtesies.

I can assure you that Doug Phillips would have never ever resigned voluntarily from the church or the ministry that he founded, regardless of the sin. He was forced out in both cases. In all likelihood it was all handled much like a “plea bargain” is when someone is criminally charged: plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lighter sentence. Doug’s public “confession” and resignation would have been a condition of that plea deal. Whether or not the winding down of VFM was something Doug knew was coming or not is subject to speculation, but my guess is he did know of it. Otherwise the odds of a nasty lawsuit would be almost 100%.

When a board of directors fires its president they need to do so in a way that minimizes the risks of litigation, even more so when we’re speaking of firing a president who is an attorney. Scott Brown and his fellow board members are no ignoramuses and they must have some very serious dirt on Doug to have acted as boldly as they have and not be worried about getting sued.

Not getting sued by the president a board fires necessitates allowing the president to save face. Therefore, boards seldom fire their presidents. They ask them to resign, i.e. tender their resignation. If anyone asks either the board or the former president they’ll say he resigned. But the fact is a forced resignation is the same as being fired.

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Nikki Ecala NOVEMBER 13, 2013 @ 2:13 PM 

Please pray for this young lady, her family and the Phillips family. This woman went unmarried all through her 20′s to be there for DP’s every need and whim. When she finally realized she could no longer continue the affair, due to God’s conviction and disgust with the hypocrisy, she made it clear she would expose him if he didn’t confess.

I believe this will slowly be revealed in public. I’m so disappointed with this ministry and the people who have used and abused my family that I don’t care if the truth hurts them anymore. They all needed a massive wakeup call and this ministry, as an entirety, needs to repent.

The lavish home that he lives in is owned by VFM. It’s just a matter of time before it’s sold. It doesn’t appear to be listed yet though, so maybe Doug is negotiating terms to buy it himself. No doubt he can easily afford to pay cash for it.

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Ok, that was a lot of information to absorb.  As I said earlier, when you get one account after another and they all sound alike, at some point you have to wonder how much truth is in them.  The only discrepancy I have seen is whether the affair lasted 6 years versus 10 years — and that really should not make much of a difference — even a one-week affair was too long.

I want to be very sensitive here.  Somewhere out there is a young lady who has had her life turned upside down because of this man.   Scott made this excellent comment and I want his words to stand for Spiritual Sounding Board:  Our thoughts and energies should be on survivors — doing whatever it takes to help them recover.

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Scott

NOVEMBER 13, 2013 @ 12:00 PM 

My main concern is this woman. If she is in fact a minor, the authorities must be notified as it’s a serious criminal matter. She needs to be removed from her current environment and be protected. If she has reached the age of majority then she may still need help getting free from the cult like atmosphere. Resources are available and can be raised to aid her break out. If anyone finds out exactly what the situation is and what help is needed, count me it. Please let us know by posting here and I’m sure some of my business contacts and christian friends will join me in writing a check. It’s our responsibility as believers to help her if needed. While we await more information I’m hitting my knees praying about the situation. God has used this mess to greatly reduce the effluence of an evil, ego driven lier who really believes that the ends justifies the means. He has been walking over people for years, that walk just ended. He is done.

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Scott, I will absolutely let people know if there is a way we can help. Thank you for showing compassion and love where it needs to be focused, on the true victim, the woman.

Since this person has not been identified, I can only surmise by what we know of this group, that women in this environment, regardless of their age, do not have a voice, PERIOD. A woman would not be able to tell a man NO. Even if she says it was mutual consent, I still wouldn’t buy it. Why?? Because Phillips is (was) a man in authority: authority at church, authority in ministry, authority in business, authority at home. She (if she came from Phillips’ church or ministry community) would have been subordinate and so any relationship with a subordinate would have wrong on his part. Not only that, if she happened to have been raised in this environment, regardless of her age, she is most likely emotionally repressed. If women in this environment have no voice, they have spent a lifetime of denying their feelings/desires/wishes.

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One last thing — although this woman may now be at the age of majority, there is a possibility that she could have been a minor when the beginnings of this “affair” occurred.  Regardless of her age, as mentioned above in the comment, she was not in a position to say “no,” and because of that, she is a victim.

I strongly urge anyone who may know her identity to please protect her. If she herself decides to discloses her identity, that’s one thing, but she should not have to see her name on the internet publicly connected with this because someone else disclosed it without permission.

Also, this woman needs to be shown the real love of Christ. What she has experienced in Patriarchy was a complete fraud. Please pray for her and all connected with her. Pray that she will have people wrapping their arms around her.

Brad (“futuristguy”) Sargent wrote the following helpful support guidelines, inspired by Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi Three Laws of Robotics, which provided the framework for how to protect human life in emergency situations. Something to consider in the current urgent situation especially, to be of help to the survivors of Doug Phillips’ sick system and personal victimization.

Three Aspects of Support for Promoting Survivor Recovery

1. Believe the victim, so they may come to know they can become a survivor.

2. Do nothing that will harm the survivor, either through our actions (for instance, unauthorized disclosure of someone’s name and status as a victim of abuse) — or inactions (for instance, failure to report suspected abuse or other related crimes when that is mandatory).

3. Sacrifice of ourselves to provide relational, financial, and therapeutic support — for survivors themselves and for those who directly depend on them.

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