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Doug Phillips released a “Clarification on Resignation” statement yesterday. Let’s take a closer look at those words along with other words from Mr. Phillips. Does it clear things up or muddy the waters?
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by Douglas Phillips, Esq., November 14, 2013
I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received. With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice. This is heartbreaking to me. Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down. Let me be clear: it absolutely does merit my resignation. My resignation is sincere and necessary given the weightiness of my sin. Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years. The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance. Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.
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Along with my commentary, I thought it might be helpful to look at this new statement and use Doug Phillips’ own criteria for proof of repentance in an article he posted at the Vision Forum site on August 7, 2013, entitled “True Repentance – A Key to Family Blessing.” Isn’t it ironic that he set up the criteria for evaluating his own forthcoming “repentance process,” just 10 weeks before the resignation and the dissolution of Vision Forum Ministries that his actions forced? Excerpts from this article are posted in colored font.
Before getting into the body of the clarification statement, does anyone else find it odd that Doug Phillips published a notice on the Vision Forum Ministries website 14 days after he announced his own resignation? When does someone issue a resignation statement and then 2 weeks later give an update? When you resign, you resign. That’s it. No more. Nada. This gives the appearance that he has stepped down. Has Vision Forum Ministries Board yanked his keys to access the website? Did they approve of this extra public notice? Shouldn’t those keys be turned over by now?
Ok, on to the statement – - the first thing I noticed was that silly “Esq.” behind his name. I’m going to cut some slack there and assume that his full name with “Esq.” automatically posts with each new article. Moving on … (Phillips’ clarification statement is in bold font. Any item from his statement with my own added emphasis is also underlined.)
I would like to express my gratitude for the great kindness so many have shown to my family in the wake of my stepping down as president of Vision Forum Ministries. My family has been greatly encouraged by many loving notes we have received.
I’m not going to be well liked for saying this, but in light of the rest of the paragraph, these first statements feel like love bombing. If the rest of the paragraph wasn’t there, I might accept it, but then, maybe not. Why? Because it’s time for him to have a season of repentance and humility and that means removing himself from the public spotlight that he seems to relish.
With that in mind, I want to be so very clear about the rightness of this transition, and I want to clear up some matters which have been brought to my attention. My sin has resulted in great pain within the Body of Christ, some confusion, and has given the enemies of God reason to rejoice.
I have a problem with this statement. Phillips is coming across as a spiritual authority. He is not. He is a false teacher who enforced extra-biblical rules. He admitted to having an affair. He has no business looking into the status of anyone’s spiritual health. Furthermore, who assigned Doug Phillips the role of spiritual judge to deem people as “enemies of God?” That was completely inappropriate and rude, not humble or repentant. A repentant person does not get to chastise others.
Some have suggested that my sin was not sufficiently serious to step down.
Might that be because the original statement was very vague and left lots of questions? For an attorney, gifted speaker, writing something so obviously vague makes both this statement and the first statement lose credibility.
Some reading the words of my resignation have questioned if there was an inappropriate physical component with an unmarried woman. There was, and it was intermittent over a period of years.
Yes, people did have questions about the wording. As I said above, it was not clear, it left questions, did not give enough information, led to confusion. Let’s take a look at Phillips’ own words on what worldly sorrow looks like:
“Worldly sorrow may result in partial repentance accompanied by the telling of half-truths and admission of just enough wrongdoing, and no more, than is necessary.”
The local church, not the Internet, is the proper forum for overseeing the details of a man’s repentance, [...]
Too often “repentance” is the experience of offering a half-hearted and self-serving apology to God and man, mixed with large amounts of blame-shifting, pride, and a desire to be done with the whole matter so you don’t ever have to deal with it again. (Emphasis added.)
Here we go again. This man, the adulterer and fraud, begins the sentence by presuming to be in a position of authority and tell us, the public, how his case should be handled. Newsflash to Mr. Phillips: You may have been in control of your church and your ministry, but not anymore. You do not have control of the internet, the words people use on the internet, in comments on blogs or by redhead woman bloggers.
In this statement and the previous statement, he tries to convince us that he is repentant, yet in the same breath, he tells us how to behave. Unreal. What does repentance look like? It looks like a lowly worm.
When one has sinned in such a manner as this, you don’t get to speak out. You don’t get to tell people how to behave. You accept the fallout. You accept that people will or might talk badly about you. That is part of the consequence of being a public figure and falling. Some of the talk may not be factual. Oh well. It’s not appropriate for you to complain about that fallout. With this clarification statement and the original statement, he has now attempted to tell us two times that he is accepting the responsibility. No he is not. I believe he’s fighting or we wouldn’t have seen this second statement.
Brad/futuristguy also had some great comments regarding this particular part of the statement about who gets to oversee the process and why.
[...] but I just want to be clear for the sake of peace within the Body of Christ, [...]
Mr. Phillips has no business telling us about peace within the Body of Christ when he has Patriarchal nonsense and lifestyle has created war within many homes. Mr. Phillips needs to be quiet. His time is up.
[...] that the tragic events we are experiencing, including the closing of Vision Forum Ministries are my fault, and that I am sincere that I should not be in leadership, but must spend this season of my life quietly walking a path of proven repentance.
Quietly? For real? There has been nothing quiet about this. Right – you have to prove your repentance and it’s not going to be done with more statements. It’s done with humility and without a fight, without concern of what people say or think about you.
Please pray for the Phillips family, the Board, and the men who have made up the staff of Vision Forum Ministries.
As others have noted (Gary W. being one), what is notably missing is no request for prayers for the woman whose life has been harmed because of the affair. What about her? What about her family? Are they not worthy of our prayers?
Godly sorrow produces such compassion for the injured party that the penitent man aches to bring health and wholeness to those he has injured. (taken from Phillip’s own article on repentance)
And one more excerpt:
He enters into the pain of those whom he has wronged, and his heart is full of compassion for them because of the trouble his sin has caused. A truly repentant man is therefore a humble man who thinks less of himself and more of those he has injured.
Perhaps Mr. Phillips should have re-read his article on repentance before writing this latest statement. He seems to be missing the mark as far as I can see. And no, Mr. Doug Wilson, I’m not chortling or expressing glee over any of this. I find it sad, but it is important that we take a close look at patterns of behavior from influential leaders. It’s not gossip. It’s seeking the truth.
Why do I tear this statement apart? Because there — just as with the last statement — people who like the bulk of Phillips’ message (on Patriarchy, courtship, godly manhood, etc.) will attempt to minimize his sin, try to shift focus onto others talking about it, and actually confuse what is really going on. We’ve seen this happen with others in public ministry and we must look at all of the words AND the actions. When someone sins, having led so many people down a wrong path of extra-biblical teachings, we must be wise and careful.
Since by Mr. Phillips’ own admissions, we now know he was lying to us all for perhaps a decade, are we expected to believe two public statements that he is 100% repentant now that this has come to light? No. We wait, we watch, we look at the fruit. It is far too early to say this man is repentant and, by his own words, I am not convinced yet.
- Supporting Survivors of Doug Phillips’ Apostasy (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- The Board of Vision Forum Ministries Announces the Closing of Vision Forum Ministries (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- Doug Philips Resigns from Office of President at Vision Forum, Discontinues Speaking Engagements (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- The Smell of Doug Phillips’ Apostasy (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- Doug Phillips “Clarifies” His Resignation Statement (homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com)
- Doug Phillips: His Power and Control Using “Godly” Patriarchy (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- Doug Phillips: Question about Pastoral Position, Timeline of Events, and Understanding True Repentance (spiritualsoundingboard.com)
- Vision Forum Ministries Shut Down Due To ‘Serious Sins’ of Former President Doug Phillips (huffingtonpost.com)
- Christian homeschooling leader Doug Phillips resigns amid extramarital relationship but keeps his business (religionnews.com)