Christian Marriage, Courtship, Doug Phillips & Vision Forum, Emotional Responses, Family Integrated Churches, God's Design for the Family, Homeschool Movement, Legalism, Marriage, Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement, Spiritual Abuse, Vision Forum, Voddie Baucham, Women and the Church

Doug Phillips: Repentance and Restoration – Is it Possible?

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Articles continue to be written about fallen pastor and Christian ministry leader and pastor, Doug Phillips, who resigned from the non-profit arm of Vision Forum Ministries and from his public speaking engagements.   But what is next?  What does repentance and restoration look like?  Can or should he assume his former positions again?

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While many are commenting on how beautiful and appropriate Doug Phillips’ public statement was, others are saying, “wait, not so fast.”  I’d like to explore some thoughts by others on repentance and restoration.

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Repentance, Restoration of a Fallen Leader and Pastor

Over at Pastor Doug Wilson’s blog post, I saw this excellent comment:


November 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm

In truth, we don’t know that he has repented. Repentance in such cases takes time to discern as it must be proved (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). It is going to be harder to discern if he was caught in this affair versus coming forward and confessing of his own volition as the later case demonstrates repentance in a more immediate sense. If he was caught, it’s going to take some time to see if his confession is complete and that he isn’t doing damage control (which isn’t repentance). Hopefully his church will censure him for an appropriate period so that these matters can be reasonably discerned. In a similar vein, I must confess I find his resignation vague as to the nature of the relationship. “While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” This seems to imply that the relationship was not physical but merely emotional. That’s how many people are taking it. However, upon closer inspection, he is not saying it was merely emotional. What he is saying is that intercourse was not involved but he leaves the door wide open for the potential discovery over other indiscretions. Should it be discovered that he was physically intimate in other ways, he can claim that he never denied it. My concern is that equivocal language is more indicative of damage control than it is of repentance. If there were a physical aspect to this relationship, I think it would have been better to simply call it an affair and leave it at that. Regardless, it is the duty of his elders and church to oversee this matter. We need to remember them in our prayers, that God grant them wisdom.

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Commenter 1689er is saying what I and many others have been saying – it’s too early to see repentance.  He also rightly suggested that we have no way of knowing  if Phillips voluntarily issued the statement or was told to do so.  That is important.

Some may think this is not our business.  I disagree.  It is our business.  This man has been in a public position of leadership affecting scores of Christian families and their lives.  Many have shaped their lives around this man’s teachings.  I dare say that many families have heeded the words of this man more than the words of their very own pastor.  You better believe his words and life are going to be put under a microscope.

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Dr. Douglas Weiss, has written an article entitled, Restoring the Fallen.  Dr. Douglas Weiss Ph.D., is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  He has been counseling pastors with infidelity, pornography, and other sexual sins for over 20 years.  Weiss listed key patterns he saw for people who were able to be successfully restored.  Here is a brief summary of the list.

Key patterns to look for in successfully restored leaders:

  • this person voluntarily discloses the sin to his spouse an/or spiritual authority.  This action is prompted by a desire for restoration and healing.
  • he has a humble heart, truly remorseful, and broken by his sinful actions
  • he is ready to accept 100% responsibility for his sin, not blaming anyone else for his sin
  • he is willing to take direction and guidance from others and fully submits to those people placed over him
  • he readily embraces accountability
  • he voluntarily makes efforts to work on the restoration of his marriage
  • he voluntarily seeks out professional counselors who can help discover why he did what he did
  • he submits to regular polygraph tests (this helps in building trust for the spouse and others).

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Also on the topic of forgiveness and restoration is a recent article by Heather Doney, “We All Sin:” A 15 Step Path To Forgiveness for Doug Phillips.  This article is a pertinent read because she identifies specific patterns often found within this “movement” and offers her predictions based on her familiarity of how this movement typically responds.

I was very intrigued by the comment my friend Brad Sargent left at Doney’s blog:

brad/futuristguy says:

Heather, thank you for posting this. I’ve been doing research on systems of spiritual abuse for over five years. I believe you’ve provided one of the best pieces of analysis I’ve read about a particular christianized authoritarian system. You’ve succinctly addressed the core theological, cultural, and personal dynamics involved here in a way that shows a depth of reflection, discernment, and compassion. As a survivor of spiritual abuse myself, I see these all as indicators that significant healing is happening for you, and I trust that will continue for you and thereby encourage the journeys to health of those you relate with.

I suspect your conclusion about Doug Phillips’ probable restoration to public ministry is correct, barring some revelations that make sidelining him long term absolutely unavoidable. This rush to restoration without rehabilitation seems to have become a hallmark of those held enthralled by their charismatic leader. Those so entrapped fail to see that, as you pointed out, the greater problem is Mr. Phillips’ entire paradigm and systems of control with their pervasive evil … not merely his personal sins and moral failures with their supposedly limited impact.

For those who insist on his restoration to ministry, I have my own opinion about an appropriate period of rehabilitation: I believe Mr. Phillips needs to spend seven years away from public speaking, leading, or ministry of any kind for every one year he was engaged in the self-proclaimed “lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman.” [And, since it appears that his business is viewed as resourcing ministry, he should step down from that as well.]

According to this formula, restitutionary repentance may indeed take the remainder of his lifetime. However, if there is true change of heart, mind, and behaviors, then that shouldn’t seem an undue hardship or inappropriate. In fact, that lengthy, appropriate time of reflection will hopefully give Mr. Phillips the substantial opportunity needed to consider the widespread and destructive impact of his paradigm, his theology, and his personal activities.

Actually Phillips’ own words on repentance are pretty compelling and could very well line up with some of Brad’s thoughts.

Here’s one additional comment/dialogue I found on Voddie Baucham’s Facebook page.  I was especially interested to read his perspective because he is a friend of Doug Phillips.

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  • Dennis-(removed) How many times do we see this in Christian leadership? They come out explaining their mistake “sin” and then within a few months they are right back in the same leadership position again. They get to write a book and do interviews on the news about how they’ve overcome their past. Everyone just smiles and nods but nothing really changes. Creating a relationship with someone other than your wife is not a one time event. It takes time and effort and a lot of deceit. You have to live in the sin and cover your back over a long period of time to make this work. Foregiveness is one thing, trust to lead again is another.
    • Voddie Baucham Ministries Dennis,You ask, “How many times do we see this in Christian leadership?” The answer may surprise you, but it is actually quite rare. There are hundreds of thousands of churches in America. We hear of these types of things on a national basis when they happen to high profile people. However, considering the number of people in Christian leadership, the numbers are quite small.As to your other point, most men who go through something like this never recover. Of course, there are exceptions. Moreover, there are some circles wherein things like this, and much worse, are merely swept under the rug. However, in circles where leadership is taken seriously, it is very difficult for a man to come back from things like this. People have long memories, and tend to be rather unforgiving.Of course, I’m on the outside looking in, so I don’t know the details. This could be a matter where people are involved and have a program of restoration in place (sometimes these things take place over a number of years).

      Nevertheless, it is important to remember that failure is not final in the Christian life. Forgiveness is available. And even if one finds himself disqualified in the short run, there is always the possibility of future service in a legitimate capacity after proper restoration. As you said, “forgiveness is one thing, trust to lead again is another.” But praise God, they are both possible!

    • Dennis-(removed) The question I ask is if Moses wasn’t allowed to lead the Israelites into the Promise Land because of his sin and if David wasn’t allowed to build the Temple because of his sin, then how do Christian leaders today feel they can sin and have no life-long repercussions? How can a person be above reproach if they are not? If so few are doing the wrong thing then it should be easy to replace them. (Source)
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Here are some of the questions mulling around in my head:

  • Do you think Phillips can ever be restored to ministry?
  • Can Phillips return to ministry because of the fact that he didn’t “Biblically know” the woman?
  • Where does God’s grace fit in this aside from forgiveness?
  • Are we cruel and heartless to not want him to go back into ministry?
  • Is this really not our business?
  • Have you ever seen anyone fall from ministry and have a glorious restoration and healing and assume old ministry positions?  What was that like?
  • Is it cold-hearted to keep someone out of ministry altogether after this kind of sin?
  • Can you give Biblical examples of a fallen leader and end results?

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Special thanks to crecmemes for permission to use image.

189 thoughts on “Doug Phillips: Repentance and Restoration – Is it Possible?”

  1. to jv,
    thanks for joining in, what you are saying here makes a lot of sense. Sounds eerily similar to Mr. Openair preacher who doesn’t think women should preach/teach and the bs he is selling. I also saw a former pastor in some of what you were sharing….very interesting!


  2. @ Meaghan
    Thank you, and yes, she and her crowd don’t think that women should preach/teach to men.

    @Julie Anne

    Ignorance was bliss. I especially feel this way when I come across the catch phrases, lingo and ideas being argued in news com boxes.


  3. Julie Anne, I really think the less said about “S&M”, the better. She – and her ilk – think they’re big wheels in the crass, trashy-mouthed, destructive (but narrow) lunatic fringe of misogynists. BUT, as my mother used to say, you know what dogs do to wheels. . . .


  4. When we put our trust in a movement or man we will be disappointed and disillusioned. Read the Word of God, pray for the Holy Spirit to guide and pray for those who persecute you. Christ will be lifted up and our faith will both be restored and grow in all godliness. Repenting and trusting Christ will always bring me clarity and His joy-in any situation.


  5. The following link goes to a sort of “intermediate introduction” I wrote to some of the issues related to Reconstructionism, “dominion theology,” and the “seven mountains” of influence (christianized control?) in culture. Even if the Vision Forum and related Family-Integrated Church entities were not strictly in line with the theology of dominionism, it seems evident enough that they practice and promote key elements of social control. And we are certainly seeing the rotten fruit of that approach …


  6. Julie Anne is correct about the Chalcedon Foundation. I encourage every family to research before embracing the patriarchal ideology.
    “The Chalcedon Foundation promotes Christian Reconstruction and calls for the “imposition of Old Testament law on America and the world.” According to the SPLC, this “embraces the most draconian of religious views”, being “opposed to modern notions of equality, democracy or tolerance.” The SPLC also stated that Rushdoony supported the death penalty for homosexuals, opposed interracial marriage, denied the Holocaust, and included “incorrigible children” as a group of people deserving of the death penalty.[5][28]”


  7. The victim of abuse described in the Chalcedon research article posted above personally requested that the link be made available here, in the belief it would be appreciated and valued by other concerned individuals who would read it carefully and evaluate it on the merits. The victim instead discovered the same ideological circling of the wagons and callous dismissal here as was encountered 131 times with the churches colluding to protect the abuser as documented in that article. Is this simply an unintentional slip for this blog that will remedied shortly, or is the victim facing the irony of being abused yet again, this time by the presumed advocates for the abused?


  8. I just took a quick look at the link provided by Chalcedon and was surprised at what I read. There is a lot of good info in that article. Time prevents me from reading the whole thing, but there is a good understanding of ecclesiastical abuse. That particular article may be fine, however, I would urge caution when reading at this site (shouldn’t we always be careful, though?). Reconstructionism (you’ll see footnotes from Rushdoony, a Reconstructionist), is the core of the Homeschool Movement and the driving force of many of the practices: keeping daughters at home, out of the work force, away from college, marrying young, having lots of babies, etc.


  9. Chalcedon

    Please provide specific quotes from the blog article or comments So that we can analyze the specifics of your charge. If I were not so experienced With how your movement deflects, twists and reframes issues, I would not play. But you have stepped outside your reconstructioniat ghetto.

    If you are speaking for the victim she is still in a cult and that makes me very sad.


  10. The victim has written, and is currently editing, a massive book on this topic to be published by 2015 (having read over 29,000 pages worth of books on this issue as documented in the original article above). To assume someone is “speaking for the victim” is to preemptively reframe the situation and gratuitously insinuate the victim’s incompetence, weakness, and/or subordination. You’ll find that the linked article above advocates infinitely more for the victim than you might expect, requiring far more severe consequences for the perpetrator, and backs up its assertions in considerable depth.

    If time permits, the other negative assessments above can readily be answered if any desire the truth about them. You might be surprised how badly a broad brush can distort your vision (although it’s completely understandable why those who’ve been burned would find security in using one). Just one correction for now (although all the errors repeated above deserve to be corrected): Dr. Rushdoony performed interracial marriages.


  11. Chalcedon:

    Can you please identify where in the comments you have seen this?

    To assume someone is “speaking for the victim” is to preemptively reframe the situation and gratuitously insinuate the victim’s incompetence, weakness, and/or subordination.

    I may have just missed it, but I want to make sure I am understanding you. Thank you.


  12. Some Rushdoony quotes:

    The (Biblical) Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace.”

    R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), p. 251

    The burden of the law is thus against inter-religious, inter-racial, and inter-cultural marriages, in that they normally go against the very community which marriage is designed to establish.
    Unequal yoking means more than marriage. In society at large it means the enforced integration of various elements which are not congenial. Unequal yoking is in no realm productive of harmony; rather, it aggravates the differences and delays the growth of the different elements toward a Christian harmony and association.

    R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), p. 257.

    All men are NOT created equal before God; the facts of heaven and hell, election and reprobation make clear that they are not equal. Moreover, an employer has aproperty rights to prefer whom he will in terms of “color” creed, race or national origin.

    R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), p. 509/510

    ‘And when asked directly about the sinfulness of interracial marriage, Rushdoony responded:

    The answer is, there is not a law against it, but there is basically a principle that militates against such marriages, so that you might say they are just barely legal, but in principle Scripture is opposed to them. Because the whole point of marriage is that the wife be a helpmeet to her husband, and the term “helpmeet” means in effect a mirror, an image, one who reflects him spiritually; that is, in terms of faith, in terms of a common background, in terms of a common purpose. Now, marriage between persons of very different races generally doesn’t fulfill that requirement, you see. So that it can be technically a marriage, but it isn’t one in which the wife can be a helpmeet. So that while it can legally qualify, theologically you could say there are factors which normally, in almost 99 cases out of 100, would militate against it.

    R. J. Rushdoony – audio, “The Law of Divorce”’


  13. Julie Anne, the victim interpreted Lydia’s comment, “If you are speaking for the victim she is still in a cult and that makes me very sad,” in that way. Even if the victim’s interpretation is in error, that was still a pejorative statement that invalidates the victim (if not by design, then certainly in effect), especially since it flies in the face of the facts.


  14. This site was surely not intended as a referendum on R. J. Rushdoony, so it is with regret that a response to BeenThereDoneThat’s quotes is offered. The quote from page 251 of Rushdoony’s Institutes has been carefully excised from the context, namely, an exposition of Deut. 15:12-15 concerning restitution for debts or theft (beginning on page 250). Such bond servitude was limited to six years maximum, the bondservant had to be well-treated or else was to be released, and upon release from service (having paid back what was owed or stolen up to that six year limit) the bondservant had to be generously paid — all provisions being motivated by the stated fact (verse 15) that Israel itself had known bondage and needed to be merciful to any in that temporary estate. These provisions were aspects of God’s laws of charity, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the institution of American slavery (which Rushdoony pointed out was in violation of the six-year maximum service provision, violated the requirement for generous payment after service, had no basis in a debt or theft that needed repaying, and which was initiated through kidnapping, a capital crime). It is indebtedness that enslaves (the borrower is servant to the lender), but the partial quote has been hijacked to insinuate a sinister racial motive behind Rushdoony’s assertion. Rushdoony alludes to the parallel verse in Exodus concerning those who voluntarily (not under duress) choose to extend past the six-year limit into lifelong security as a bondservant. Rushdoony points out that the text requires that they then become an honored part of the family (indeed, the passage calls the bondservant “thy brother” at the outset). This is “unsentimental” because this is God’s provision for restoring freedom from indebtedness, however contracted. The vast majority of Rushdoony’s books are available to read free on-line, including this one. Read pages 250-251 and ask yourself, “What would some of my own writings look like if they were to be passed through the kind of hatchet job editing inflicted upon Rushdoony here?”


  15. So, Rushdoony simply advocated for a “temporary” slavery for indebtedness that the “slave” should endure with “grace?” Tell me, does the Chalcedon Foundation have any debts?

    This site has, indeed, presented articles concerning Rushdoony and Reconstructionism. Many others have done research to expose this ideology. I invite readers to check out this article:
    There is a section on “Slavery and Racism.”


  16. Re: Rushdoony and interracial marriage, note the indisputable fact that he performed interracial marriages. The example he invariably gave to illustrate the potential hazards was the case of the many Japanese war brides brought back to the States by G.I.s after WWII. The American soldiers interpreted the women’s deferential behavior as reflecting their true character, not knowing what Japanese men knew, that this demeanor had no such meaning but was an intrinsic feature of Japanese culture. The marriages often fell apart when the wife turned out not to be what she at first seemed, because the Americans didn’t know how to interpret those cultural cues correctly. Had the soldiers known to interpret those cues, most of those marriages would have never proceeded (and thus not collapsed). Rushdoony had experience with the predictable fallout from such cross-cultural marriages and not surprisingly counseled caution. But the primary issue (even in the passage quoted above) is commonality of faith, that both husband and wife serve God together with one shoulder. This is why Rushdoony’s actual statement above is a nuanced one: he speaks of “the burden of the law” rather than of any mandate in the law. His interest wasn’t racial, it involved full cultural disclosure so those entering marriage don’t bring a false understanding to the table respecting their future spouse. His commentary on Numbers deals with Numbers 12, in which God judges Miriam and Aaron in defense of Moses’s marriage (which happened to be an interracial marriage).

    Referring to an interracial marriage he was performing, Rushdoony made a point of saying, “I cannot forbid what God has not!” If this isn’t crystal clear, nothing will satisfy those intent on demonizing him. (Ironically, Rushdoony’s son said of his father that his “first sweetheart was a Swedish girl whose parents did not approve of my father’s ethnicity.”)


  17. The Chalcedon Foundation is debt free and has never been otherwise.

    Having answered your question, this is a pertinent follow-up: Do you oppose Deuteronomy 12’s provision for making restitution? If so, why? If not, why object when Rushdoony is merely presenting a systematic exposition of this passage?

    Michael McVicar, certainly no reconstructionist, is the only researcher who has conducted comprehensive first-hand research on Rushdoony. The woefully tendentious “research” at the site you commend suffers the same issues as the snippets offered up here earlier, except on steroids (with amped-up inflammatory rhetoric). It’s all been debunked before, but on today’s over-sensationalized Internet the one who shouts loudest (has more hits) is presumed the winner. Careful, honest research that deals systematically with its subject gets no attention.

    Finally, why are all these issues getting in the way of the purpose for the original post concerning the victim of sexual exploitation? Common cause should, at the very least, inspire us to be cobelligerents.

    Read the cover story, “Patriarchy and Feminism,” in the March-April 2010 issue of Faith for All of Life at Chalcedon’s website to see that many preconceptions aired here on that issue are unfounded. You’ll find an even-handed exposition that doesn’t make undue capital out of the data in hand (specifically, Kathryn Joyce’s book, “Quiverful”). This one article goes a long way in setting the record straight and will provoke the reader to set aside the broad brush once for all.


  18. “Having answered your question, this is a pertinent follow-up: Do you oppose Deuteronomy 12′s provision for making restitution? If so, why? If not, why object when Rushdoony is merely presenting a systematic exposition of this passage?”

    I absolutely do oppose it as a suggestion of how our government’s laws should approach debtors. I believe in the wisdom of our constitution favoring no religion in our governing laws.
    And as a Christian (not to be confused with the province of the State) I believe Matthew 18:24-35 is a better example of the attitude to take toward such matters.


  19. Chalcedon: You mentioned BeenThereDoneThat, but did you actually identify her quote? I couldn’t find it, but could have missed it.

    I’ve got to be honest with you. You seem to be highly educated and have great command of an extensive vocabulary, but if that vocabulary is not common, you are going to be losing people. Please consider toning it down a bit and trying to connect with the flow that you see represented by the readers here. Thanks much!


  20. Regarding restitution and Deut. 15 — In the case documented in the original post, the victim of the missionary’s attempted sexual assault spent tens of thousands of dollars in counseling and lost several years of income due to incapacity caused by the two-dozen-plus churches and ministries that colluded with the perpetrator. The original post asserted that permanent removal from shepherd status was biblically mandated (in an extended exposition of Ezekiel 34, esp. verse 10) and that restitution to the injured party was required. As Deut. 16:20 summarizes it, “Justice, justice shalt thou do.” Matthew 12:20 further asserts that Christ “leads justice to victory,” and in the mean time “the heavens must contain Him until the time all restitution is accomplished” (Acts 3:21).

    The victim would have been made whole under these provisions, justice would have prevailed, and the perpetrator permanently sidelined from authority.

    Your alternative: have the victim invoke Matt. 18 and go back to the same two dozen churches that compounded the victim’s loss via collusion and hope for a different result from them. Your proposal is asserted to be “better” than what the original post asserted concerning restitution, and “better” than Deut. 15’s provision for securing restitution in difficult cases.

    Based on your concluding sentence, the victim simply needs a “better attitude.” This is the precise kind of Role Reversal/Reattribution of Blame that played out so tragically in the victim’s life at the hands of evangelical Christendom. The victim’s destroyed life apparently means nothing; the important thing is to let some precious ideology further trample upon the abused.

    How is this “better”?


  21. Sorry, Julie Anne: it was in Lydia’s post of November 18, last sentence. Reading too much into brief sentences is always a risk, but it seemed important to avoid confusion over something that looked like it was invalidating the victim.

    Will try to tone down the vocabulary. “Consider Your Audience” is good advice, especially if one has inherited some hostile preconceptions before arriving.


  22. Chalcedon,
    Your invocation of Deut.15 (Thank you for correcting your previous quote of Deut. 12 which has nothing to do with making restitution) had to do with your previous explanation of Rushdoony referring to debtors accepting temporary slavery with “grace.” Now you are spinning the story to refer to a victim. That’s a misleading slight of hand. I will always advocate for the victim.
    I still maintain that our government’s laws should not be conflated with the kingdom of God. If it is a matter for the civil or criminal courts, then let it be handled there. Our court systems already have ways of requiring restitution. If a religious institution fails to live up to the standards of the one it is called to follow (and I am VERY well aware of how that plays out) then that institution has failed in its Christian calling and is open to Christian scrutiny.


  23. Despite appearances, I’m not spinning the story, I’m applying the restitution principle which features prominently in the original link. The purpose of Deut. 15 is to insure restitution is initiated and that text is charitable in intent. God is the definer of justice. Jettison God’s justice, and “the wicked frame mischief with law” (Ps. 94:20). When Ps. 119:96 says “I’ve seen an end to all perfection, but Thy commandments are exceeding broad,” it speaks of the wide range of application. Are the ideas distinct? Yes. Are they nonetheless intimately connected? Also yes. Because we see this differently doesn’t imply sleight of hand, but gets to the root of the issue (restitution) and one avenue by which it might be secured in difficult situations (working off the debt until paid off or until six years have passed, whichever comes first). Then the person is generously endowed over and above the amount restituted.

    I indeed expected you to back up the victim, which makes sense given this site’s purpose. I was trying to illustrate the implications for the victim of differing sanctions. The mismatch between secular sanctions and God’s provision, that margin of difference, is the difference between justice and injustice. As Hebrews 2:2 says of all the laws of God, they each provide for “a just recompence of reward.” To go a different route inflicts excess harm either on the victim or the culprit. The porridge isn’t too hot or too cold, it’s just right when God serves it.

    Despite our difference points of view, you handled your objection in a way that can be respected. My position was one of extending the scope of a concept, not shifting gears on you. Vigorous application of these ideas is long overdue.


  24. Chalcedon, I’ve been reading this exchange and trying to make sense of your assertions. Can I assume that you are advocating the position that society would be better off applying God’s law in the place of secular law? Are you suggesting that Biblical justice (or Sharia law) would better serve wronged victims? Seriously?


  25. “The mismatch between secular sanctions and God’s provision, that margin of difference, is the difference between justice and injustice. As Hebrews 2:2 says of all the laws of God, they each provide for “a just recompence of reward.” To go a different route inflicts excess harm either on the victim or the culprit. The porridge isn’t too hot or too cold, it’s just right when God serves it.”

    The author of this blog received her “just recompense” from the secular court system when sued by her former pastor. It was neither “too hot or too cold” when served from the impartial, secular court.


  26. Apart from their radically different content, the biggest difference between Sharia law and Biblical law is that the former must be imposed, while the latter can only be voluntarily embraced. The misguided fear is that a massive tyranny would result if Biblical law were embraced. This is flatly impossible, because God’s law limits the total collectible taxes to run civil government to $528 million/year for the present population (318 million people). Compare this to the $5.743 trillion/year annual budget for 2013 for state and federal governments. Under biblical law, the government would be 10,876 times smaller than it now is. There is no budget for tyranny in a biblical system. Critics of biblical law are projecting their own predilections for power abuse onto God’s requirements, but God pulls the slats out from under all attempts to mount a tyranny. Just follow the money and you’ll see the secularists fitting Orwell’s grim depictions surprisingly well.

    God’s law eradicates poverty in a culture 100% (as promised in Deut. 15:4 when the poor tithe law is obeyed). This amounts to 3.3% of one’s net income per year being used to meaningfully lift the poor out of poverty. The current welfare system spends nearly five times this much and worsens the problem it is alleged to solve. Secular law and its pretended “war on poverty” have spat upon the poor. In fact, the rich young ruler of Mark 10 was guilty of failing to pay this poor tithe (Jesus mentioned the commandment “Thou shalt not defraud,” using the Greek word apostereisis meaning to defraud the poor of their due). When the man protested that he kept all the commandments, Jesus said, “one thing you lack,” better translated, “one of these things you lack” — you defrauded the poor, and must sell all you have to satisfy the four-fold restitution that another perpetrator, the tax collector Zacchaeus, was willing to pay. The rich young ruler refused, and a few verses later we encounter one of the victims of his callousness, the old widow throwing two mites into the temple treasury, which was all she had. How far had Israel fallen! In the Maccabaean era, poverty had been abolished and excess gold and silver was stored in the temple for possible future relief. In Jesus’s time, the people went back to “grinding the faces of the poor,” to use Isaiah’s term. The same prevails today because secularists “have a better system than God.”

    Yes, I am serious that God knows better how to solve our problems than we do. It seems arrogant to claim God is mistaken on this point. When His law is actually followed rather than distorted or caricatured, the track record is astonishing. But those cashing in on nearly $6 trillion/year to run their monster civil apparatus (the coercive sector of society) have everything to gain from selling misconceptions about God’s law (i.e., that it enslaves those who embrace it). This is said with a straight face as the secular government keeps its hands deep in your pockets.

    The psalmist had it right: “I will walk at liberty for I seek Thy precepts.” (Ps. 119:45).


  27. Switching gears to something relevant to the Vision Forum situation: the original linked article (way up in this thread) found its way into the hands of a Vision Forum board member today, being commended to him by another ministry (not Chalcedon) as an important resource for insuring a proper disposition of the situation with Doug Phillips.

    Somewhat ironic that everyone here had access to that article before that board member got hold of it, but everything in due season. If you want to know what that board member is studying right now, the original link is still up.


  28. Chalcedon,
    I can respect and appreciate the exhaustive efforts of Mr. Selbrede to research and document church abuse. Nobody cares more about this topic than those who have endured it. He has articulated the problems even better than I ever could. I hope his perspectives and insights will be taken seriously by the VF board of directors. We shall see.

    I came from a church that held in high esteem the work of Chalcedon and Rushdoony. They quoted them and Gary North in their literature. They have also left dozens of families and individuals decrying their abuses over the span of 40 years. So, forgive me for not agreeing with you that God’s law — at least as practiced by some of your ardent fans — is always just. As you stated above, Biblical law can only be voluntarily embraced. (And I believe it should remain that way) Even VF has the freedom to receive or discard what Mr. Selbrede has written.


  29. Please forgive me, Chalcedon, I was away for the weekend and am having to catch up on loose ends in addition to putting my mom hat on.

    Which link are you referring to that the board member has access to? The link you first provided? It would be very helpful if you include the timestamp of the comments so we can follow you.

    Why is it significant that the board member is reading this particular link? I’m not understanding why this is important.


  30. BeenThereDoneThat, your points are well taken. Regrettably, the law of God, intended for liberty, seems to bring out the Pharisee in people. It did 2,000 years ago, and still does. This reflects upon the heart of man, not the heart of God’s law, which is premised entirely on loving God and one’s neighbor. As someone observed long ago, there’s a certain kind of damage only a good man can inflict. The meaning is that people will relax their guard when they think they’re among those they can trust and respect, thereby opening up the potential for abuse. We have seen many alleged “Rushdoony disciples” bringing horrendous discredit to themselves and harm to others, just as you point out. This parallels a conversation Spurgeon once had with a guest (paraphrasing here): “Mr. Spurgeon, I saw one of your disciples at a house of ill repute in a most compromising posture.” Spurgeon thought a moment and answered, “Well, he may have been one of my disciples, but he certainly wasn’t one of Christ’s disciples.”

    Your qualification above, “at least as practiced by some of your ardent fans,” is an important one. Much of the Sermon on the Mount is focused on cleaning up the mess inflicted on God’s Law by “some of its most ardent fans.” Paul rightly said that their zeal for God was not after knowledge. Folks using Rushdoony as theological muscle to support positions and defend policies he didn’t actually hold to is rampant. In the face of such false appeals to authority, it’s all one can do not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.


  31. Chalcedon Foundation said:

    Will try to tone down the vocabulary. “Consider Your Audience” is good advice, especially if one has inherited some hostile preconceptions before arriving.

    Please identify the “one” in your last sentence, Chalcedon. Who has inherited hostile preconceptions? I want to make sure I’m understanding you. Where did these hostile preconceptions come from?

    It’s funny. I’m sitting here and thinking that I understand every word of your 9:28 comment from which I am referring to, but my head is in such confusion. Maybe my brain is still in the clouds from my flight. Come back, brain, I need you!!!


  32. @carmen

    . . . and I just HAD to ask


    Tithing, as set out for those under the Law, never included monetary income, and was only applicable to farmers and herders. Also, yeah, uh huh, I can’t see how anything could possibly go awry with mandatory tithing…

    Twisted Teachings On Tithing

    Are you Giving to God with a Cheerful Heart or Tithing by law to Benefit Yourself?

    At the risk of sounding boastful, which is not my intent, although I adamantly oppose tithing, I strongly support and practice charitable giving.


  33. Julie Anne, the VF board member was seeking information and guidance to help finalize the right course of action. The link (yes the original link; see below for a re-posting for convenience) was given to him by a major leader in another ministry. If they follow its counsel, you will know they took the Bible seriously. If they don’t, you’ll know exactly what they rejected — what might with justice be called “sinning against better knowledge.”

    Original link:


  34. Oh, Chalcedon Foundation, while I’m at it – – curiosity has the best of me, but here I am . . . a woman blogger/homeschool mom . . . who has discovered through quite a bit of researching that the common underlying agenda of Doug Phillips and so many in Patriarchy and the Homeschool Movement is Reconstructionism. And then along comes Chalcedon Foundation – you – brand new to the blog – – never ever commenting before, but just happens to show up right in the midst of the Phillips scandal. Rushdoony was the guru of this Homeschool Movement and the first article you linked to had Rushdoony references. You know, it has me scratching my head saying:

    What’s going on here?
    Why would someone who promotes Reconstructionism want to come to a blog that is against Reconstructionism?
    What is your intention in posting here?
    I’m happy that you are dialoguing here, but I’d like to know if you are trying to correct our “wrong thinking” or what. Let’s not beat around any bushes. We are all busy people. Well, at least I am. And I’ve got some mom taxi business to do and then a long choir practice this evening and I’d love to figure this out before I go 🙂


  35. Ok, thanks for clarifying, Chalcedon. Well, I guess it doesn’t surprise me that the board member was given that link – closely connected to Reconstructionist way of doing things.

    I did notice you said this: “If they follow its counsel, you will know they took the Bible seriously.”

    Actually, I’d say – if they follow its counsel, they would be following someone’s Reconstructionist interpretation of how it should be handled. Let’s not confuse people here, please.


  36. Pam, part of the issue is that the tithe is misappropriated by the modern church. Nehemiah 10:38 applies the principle of subdividing the tithe given in Numbers 18:25-28. A tithe of the tithe went to institutional worship (1% of net income) while the remainder (9% of net income) supported education in the nation. The civil tax is specified as a half-shekel of silver (obviously not a crop), and what the Levites received was itself to be tithed, with God regarding it as equivalent to “the corn of the threshing floor,” etc. Note then that the Levites were NOT farmers or herders, but were still required to tithe (Numbers 18:24-30).

    Finally, the only enforcement mechanism for failing to tithe is God Himself: there is no human enforcement mechanism for tithing in the Bible. The idea of men enforcing mandatory tithing on anyone is alien to Scripture. Also alien is the idea of the entire tithe going to the church (see Neh. 10:38 as noted above). Good luck finding a pastor who will teach from any of these passages, though.


  37. Julie Anne, monopolizing your blog was not the intent.

    If people’s objections to something are premised on an accurate depiction of it, that is more than fair. If their objections are premised on a caricature or half-truths, then that seems to fall under the Lord’s words, “don’t judge after appearances but judge righteous judgment.” This implies the spirit of Prov. 18:17, the fair play between both sides of an issue.

    A general concern for the horrors of abuse also motivates participation here. Note that the notion of being “co-belligerents” was proposed earlier: uniting against a common enemy in specific areas. Maybe that’s too much to hope for, but that was a major factor behind the last couple of days of participation here. Extending the right hand of fellowship: how can that be a bad thing? Even Paul said that although he might not win over all, he hoped to at least win over some — and that was sufficient for him.


  38. Yes, Julie Anne, it’s regrettable that the emphasis looks to be on law (the too-often-neglected part of the Christian walk — hence some overcompensation to balance things out). When Zerubbabel is able, against all odds, to rebuild God’s temple, he is told (Zech. 4:6) that he will bring forth the capstone “with shoutings crying Grace, Grace unto it!” Everything is the work of God’s unmerited favor, particularly the atonement of Christ on the cross. Justification is by grace alone. This tells us where we stand, and why: it doesn’t tell us how to walk once we’re saved. Christians are “to establish the law” (Romans 3:31) without forgetting that the weightier matters of the law are “justice, mercy, and faith “(Matt. 23:23). By grace one enters the kingdom of heaven, becoming sons and daughters by adoption. Having been born again, it is time to grow into maturity, from milk to meat (Heb. 5:11-6:3). Here the Lord Jesus provides some insights of value in Matt. 5:19 — one’s attitude to God’s laws, even the most minute parts of it, determines whether one is great or least in the kingdom of heaven. It has no bearing on one’s citizenship.

    The least commandment was reckoned to be Deut. 22:6, concerning the preservation of bird species when discovering a nest of eggs. How extraordinary is it that the least commandment of God, over such a minor thing, has attached to it the exact same promise as the Fifth Commandment about honoring father and mother: “that your days may be long in the land.” From one end of the law to the other, God lays out the path of blessings for His people. No surprise, then, that the psalmist ties grace and law together: “Grant me Thy Law graciously!” (Psalm 119:29). “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Grace and law are not opposites — this kind of notion involves a crosslink of sorts. The opposite of grace is works, while the opposite of law is lawlessness. And the law is not against the promises. “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” remains the death knell for all works-based religion.

    Paul put it succinctly: “we know that the law is good if used lawfully” (I Tim. 1:8). We must oppose the unlawful use of the law. When used lawfully, Paul delights in the law (Rom. 7:22) for it is not opposed to the grace Paul preached so emphatically. Therefore, the New Covenant (an eternal covenant of grace and promise) specifically includes God writing His Law on the minds and hearts of His people (Heb. 8:10, etc.). God’s grace imparts new life, while His law provides a path to walk upon. “And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.” (Isa. 35:8-9) In short, we are redeemed by grace and can walk in safety.


  39. Chalcedon – I came from a church with an emphasis on law, however, there was very little grace mentioned and certainly not demonstrated. I look for a good balance of both law and grace – as we are taught in the NT.

    I find it interesting that you say that law is often neglected. I find the leaders who say that, often err on too much law.


  40. Julie Anne, I didn’t see your previous question.

    Stating my earlier comment a bit more clearly: I am the “one” who has, due to my affiliation, inherited a situation here where I am perceived as an opponent to be distrusted (not unlike “can anything good come out of Galilee?” — John 1:46). The label “reconstructionist” has baggage. And reconstructionists have a knack for understatement (see previous sentence). So to the extent some of that can be overcome, and a respectful understanding prevail, it is worth the effort to communicate clearly. That’s what was intended by the earlier comment.


  41. Julie Anne, your point regarding a lack of balance between law and grace is, again, well taken. The moment that folks find themselves on the performance treadmill, it’s clear the imbalance has become dangerously unhealthy, with the focus shifting off of Jesus and onto themselves. Perhaps Spurgeon said it best when he said that a high view of grace always rests on a high view of law because it magnifies the mercy of the cross of Christ.


  42. part of the issue is that the tithe is misappropriated by the modern church.

    That I am on board with.

    The tithes mentioned in Nehemiah are still not monetary currency or portion of income, they are firstlings of herds and flocks, vegetables and fruits, etc. The civil tax was a head tax or poll tax, not a tithe, per se.

    Abraham paying to Melchisidec that one-time tithe of loot that he had recovered from the raiders was prior to the Law of Moses, and was more of a “spoils of war” tax than the tithes spoken of in Deuteronomy.


  43. Julie Anne, I want to comment on a “clarification” you issued several posts earlier. You wrote, “I did notice you said this: ‘If they follow its counsel, you will know they took the Bible seriously.’ Actually, I’d say – if they follow its counsel, they would be following someone’s Reconstructionist interpretation of how it should be handled. Let’s not confuse people here, please.”

    I agree, we shouldn’t confuse people here. The counsel arrived at in that article was based on verbatim citations from commentaries extending as far back as the 1650s (Raupius and Greenhill) up through the mid-20th century (Eichrodt), with the majority falling in the 18th and 19th centuries (Keil, Lange, Fausset, Schmieder, Fairbairn, Matthew Henry, Gardiner, Currey). No reconstructionists in the bunch, just three centuries’ worth of Bible scholars across many ecclesiastical traditions and orientations.

    Is it then fair, for the sake of five corroborating words quoted from a work by Rushdoony (“a freedom from bad shepherds”), to assert that the counsel laid down unanimously by the other dozen non-Reconstructionist scholars should be pigeon-holed as “someone’s Reconstructionist interpretation”? If the author were to remove those five words from Rushdoony, would the article’s counsel (which wouldn’t change one iota) no longer be deemed “someone’s Reconstructionist interpretation”?

    It is understandable that folks here would be gun shy (note the significance of screen names like “BeenThereDoneThat”), but “Reconstructionist interpretation” has absolutely nothing to do with what God requires in Ezekiel 34, and that article’s counsel would remain unchanged even if no Reconstructionists had ever walked the earth. The many cited non-Reconstructionist scholars are asserting what’s on the face of the Hebrew text, that God requires permanent, not temporary, removal from office if a shepherd has harmed any sheep. To dismiss the labors of those scholars with a wave of the hand is surely an overreaction. To describe the combined testimony of those historical voices as a “Reconstructionist interpretation” is to seriously misrepresent the situation.

    In that light, perhaps the “clarification” that was posted created more confusion than it managed to clear up. Reattributing the work of scholars to a camp to which they couldn’t possibly have belonged is misleading. This surely must have been inadvertent rather than intentional.


  44. Chalcedon F. said: “the biggest difference between Sharia law and Biblical law is that the former must be imposed, while the latter can only be voluntarily embraced.”

    So, you’d never suggest that anybody be stoned who did not volunteer for stoning? Those who don’t want to pay tax under such a goverment don’t have to? Those who don’t want to make restitution don’t have to? Is that really goverment, if only those who want to obey the laws have to do so, for only as long as they want to?


  45. Chalcedon F. said: “the rich young ruler of Mark 10 was guilty of failing to pay this poor tithe (Jesus mentioned the commandment “Thou shalt not defraud,” using the Greek word apostereisis meaning to defraud the poor of their due”

    After I looked in a e-sword Bible with Greek references and not finding the word “apostereisis” in the 2 places with the rich young ruler story, I typed that word, “apostereisis” into a search engine – google contains only reference to the word. That one reference is in a PDF from … the Chalcedon foundation.

    I’m rather sure that there will be more than one teacher in the world expounding on this if it was true.


  46. Doug Phillips repentence letter strikes me as very ambiguous; I don’t think he explained the nature of the problem. What was it that he and others know he did wrong? Perhaps it is not our business. But I do think it is the business of his church in order for them to properly discipline and restore him. I hope people of his persuasion come to see that it is not only a problem concerning Phillips, but also the philosophies that they have come to share.


  47. τας εντολας οιδας μη μοιχευσης μη φονευσης μη κλεψης μη ψευδομαρτυρησης μη αποστερησης τιμα τον πατερα σου και την μητερα Mark 10:19 It’s right there, 13th word. The transliteration into English isn’t always standardized.


  48. Looks like posts here have triggered something unusual on Jen’s Gem’s: an Open Letter to Chalcedon, which prompted an invited response from Chalcedon’s Vice President in which he sets the record straight in an unexpected way.

    Why do you claim an unexpected way? Unexpected by whom?


  49. Patrice
    November 7, 2013 @ 12:22 PM

    I see no reason why a pastor who betrays his profession should ever be eligible to go back into the job. It’s not that there is nothing else for him to do—it’s a big world out there.

    “Out there” in the big world Phillips is a nobody.

    He wants to continue living as a parasite off the host (Christians for whom he’s a somebody).


  50. Patrice
    November 7, 2013 @ 12:22 PM

    I see no reason why a pastor who betrays his profession should ever be eligible to go back into the job. It’s not that there is nothing else for him to do—it’s a big world out there.
    Well said, Patrice
    He should have a nice HUMBLE job where he can learn/relearn the values he promoted…. and have time to get to know the God who is love (agape).

    BTW, He is in no position to NURTURE his family. They have no reason to trust anything he says or does. Trust takes time and must be earned. Is this man accountable to anyone?
    And…We are called to be fruit inspectors of those claiming to be brethren. It is not the same as judging non-believers.


  51. Concerning Mark 10:19, this website: says that the word means deprive, or “to cheat, taking away what rightfully belongs to someone else.” Pretty much what CF was saying. It’s related to the word used in I Cor 7:5, which instructs married couples not to deprive each other.

    I’ve been visiting this site for months. I came from an IFB background, which is very personality driven and sexist. None of the churches I was in had any sexual abuse situations (that I know of), but there was definitely ecclesiastical tyranny.

    In the early ’90s I went to hear Rushdoony speak. I actually have a picture somewhere of Rushdoony holding my infant son. There’s a lot of anti-woman feeling in reformed circles, even though they were a little more sophisticated about it. I still remember how I felt when I was investigating courses at the local seminary, and I was told there were some advanced courses that I would not be permitted to take because I’m a woman.

    Then something happened that I still don’t fully understand, and I left the faith for several years. I didn’t outright reject it. I just lost interest because it all seemed too hard and like too much pressure. And I wanted to leave all that behind and enjoy life.

    A while back I stopped being able to feel superior to and sorry for people who were still in Christianity, who obviously saw something in Christianity that I couldn’t see. I prayed for the first time in a long time, “God, please show me what I’m missing.” Then I came across books that said the Resurrection is something that has to be dealt with historically, and when you do, you realize it really happened. And once you realize that, everything changes. The resurrection validates what happened at the Cross. And it means that God = Sacrificial Love.

    Since then I’ve come to believe that the Reformed emphasis on God’s wrath doesn’t match up with God revealed in Jesus. I’m reading a lot of Ben Witherington (who says “God is suffering love”) and NT Wright now. Not sure what direction to go next. I guess I need to look into Methodist or Episcopal churches.

    I said all that to say this: I want to find a way to understand the bible so that it make sense as a whole. So I’m interested in what the Chalcedon poster has to say. I’m not interested in his benevolent patriarchy, as T.W.Eston calls it. But If they can explain the OT law so that I can see God’s loving care in it, so that I can recognize the OT God as the same God who was revealed in Jesus, then that’s something I need to hear.

    My son, who recently told me he’s now agnostic, threw this very topic in my face the other day. He said, “Why should I respect a God who makes the laws that he made about women?” I told him that was a good question, and I didn’t know the answer, but that Christianity depends on the crucifixion and the resurrection, not the OT laws. But my son is stubborn like me, and he’s not letting me off the hook. And I believe he deserves an answer. And I’m curious myself. That’s why I’m on a quest, and why I hope Chalcedon comes back to the conversation.


  52. Seems my comment didn’t post, so fortunately I had copied it to Notepad before hitting the Post Comment button, so I’ll try again. If that results in a double post, please remove one of them.

    @Julie Anne,

    Looks like posts here have triggered something unusual on Jen’s Gem’s: an Open Letter to Chalcedon, which prompted an invited response from Chalcedon’s Vice President in which he sets the record straight in an unexpected way.

    Why do you claim an unexpected way? Unexpected by whom?

    I am thinking that the “unexpected way” is in reference to Chalcedon’s Vice President having revealed the assistance that they gave to Joe Taylor when Phillips launched a legal suit against him in regards to the allosaur fakumentary. From the response to the Open Letter post at Jen’s Gems:

    “Consequently, when the legal burdens surrounding the allosaur debacle began to rise beyond Joe’s ability to mount a proper defense, he put out the call for help. He was asking, in effect, for people to help him defend his museum against Doug Phillips. He stood to lose everything.

    As Vice President of Chalcedon at the time, I took this issue to President Mark Rushdoony and we decided it was morally incumbent upon us to offer Joe Taylor what help we could against the legal onslaught he was facing. On the condition that Joe never reveal the source of the money to anyone, Chalcedon sent him an “officially anonymous” check for $5,000 (which we really didn’t have to give) to help Joe defend himself against the legal assault Doug Phillips had initiated. This proverbial “gift in secret” remained so until the moment this paragraph was posted here on this site.”


  53. Julie Anne, Pam is correct: the unexpected revelation involved Chalcedon working with Joe Taylor against Doug Phillips’s assault upon him. Less unexpected (sadly) was how quickly Chalcedon’s motives were impugned anyway (a response to that at Jen’s Gems is reportedly in the works).


  54. Retha wrote, “I’m rather sure that there will be more than one teacher in the world expounding on this if it was true.”

    From H.A.W. Meyer’s 10-Volume New Testament Commentary (1883), Vol. 2, Page 132, on Mark 10:19 —> “μη αποστερησης (me apostereisis) is not a renewed expression of the seventh commandment (Heupel, Fritzsche), against which may be urged its position, as well as the unsuitableness of adducing it twice; neither is it an expression of the tenth commandment, as far as the coveting applies to the plundering another of his property (Bengel, Wetstein, Olshausen, deWette), against which may be urged the meaning of the word, which, moreover, does not permit us to think of a comprehension of all the previous commands (Beza, Lange); but it applies to Deut. 24:14 [Septuagint and Roman citations here for proof], to which also Mal. 3:3, Ecclus. 4:1 refer. Compare also Septuagint of Exodus 21:10. Jesus, however, quotes the original special command, according to its moral universality: thou shalt not withhold. According to Kuinoel, He is thinking of Lev. 19:13.” Meyer further acknowledges that this commandment isn’t one of the Ten Commandments (hardly a big deal, since the Two Greatest Commandments aren’t in the Big 10 either).

    That PDF at the Chalcedon website is of a 2-page position paper on a very broad topic, and only a few lines were available to summarize the position taken. But the position is not some innovation concocted by a reconstructionist in the 21st century: it has support embedded deep within the strongest tradition of New Testament scholarship.

    So, should we accept the Position Paper’s position now that we have more than “one teacher in the world expounding” it? I don’t think anyone here meant to say that a view is correct if two teachers adopted it (that’s not a fair way to interpret Retha’s challenge), but the opposite position also has a problem: there’s no safety in numbers either (“Let God be true, but every man a liar” — Romans 3:4).


  55. Retha was looking for a response to her questioning of the assertion, “The biggest difference between Sharia law and Biblical law is that the former must be imposed, while the latter can only be voluntarily embraced.”

    99.9% of the time, the caricature of Rushdoony’s position is that it calls for Christians to seize political power, change all the nation’s laws, and ram that down the country’s throat (see books/articles by Kevin Philips, Maureen Dowd,, Frederick Clarkson, Chip Berlet, etc., to see that this is precisely what is meant by these critics). The context is imposition of a legal system upon a society that doesn’t want it (such as Prohibition had attempted on a smaller scale). The term “imposition” here doesn’t refer to imposing a penal sanction upon a transgressing individual.

    FYI, it took some time before critics Clarkson and Berlet, after actually studying Rushdoony closely, had to acknowledge that the man really did mean it when he said that “regeneration, not revolution” is God’s way. Further, most of God’s Law contains no penal sanctions to be applied by the state. But to think one is then off the hook, that those laws won’t be enforced directly by God, is delusional: Israel violated the land sabbath law for nearly 500 years, and God deported them to Babylon for 70 years for the land to rest: “My land shall enjoy her sabbaths!” God’s forbearance for that long was misinterpreted when he gave Israel “space to repent” (see Rev. 2:21), but Israel’s response mirrored Eccl. 8:11 — “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set in them to do evil.”.

    So, Retha’s original question seems to reflect category confusion. What Rushdoony referred to is an entire society voluntarily embracing God’s law as its legal framework. The voluntary component is made clear in Isaiah 2:2-4 — the people invite one another to be taught out of the Law. Their appreciation for the Law is obvious (they delight in it as Paul does in Rom. 7:22, following Psalm 1). But we today live in a nation having more in common with Ephraim, as depicted in Hosea 8:12 where God says, “I’ve written to Ephraim concerning the marvelous things in My Law, but they were esteemed by him to be a strange thing.”

    I’d write more about grace and the gospel if the questions were about grace and gospel, Julie Anne, but then my replies wouldn’t be responsive, and I’m apparently not catching everyone’s questions as it is.


  56. So, Retha’s original question seems to reflect category confusion. What Rushdoony referred to is an entire society voluntarily embracing God’s law as its legal framework.

    This response was helpful. Thank you.


  57. JA,
    That response was indeed helpful.
    “So, Retha’s original question seems to reflect category confusion. What Rushdoony referred to is an entire society voluntarily embracing God’s law as its legal framework.”

    The problem with the Reconstructionist movement is that it does not intend to limit its scope of influence to the voluntary realm (i.e. the church) by offering advice to VF (or other religious organizations) on how they believe discipline should be applied to an errant “shepherd.” That is all well and good. The problem arises when they seek to impose what should be voluntarily embraced through the State’s legal framework. The State, by its very nature, ENFORCES laws. This is a conflation of the kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of God, Jesus himself made distinctions between the two.


  58. To CF’s assertion regarding Retha’s alleged “category confusion,” Julie Anne says “This response was helpful. Thank you.” Maybe Julie Anne was making a statement of fact, but if I had made the same statement I would have been speaking in what I would now call the first person present sarcastic.

    You see, I had to go searching for the meaning of the term “category confusion.” Having found an excellent article on the topic as applied to Christian life (see I remain somewhat bewildered. It seems that all one needs to do to understand the concept is to “read an article on bounded-vs.-centered sets by anthropologist Paul Hiebert titled “Sets and Structures: A Study in Church Patterns.””

    Whatever CF means by her reference to “category confusion,” it seems to me she is inviting us to fall into the trap of binary, black-and-white, either/or, thinking. She is inviting us to fall into the trap of considering only whether Rushdooney was all for compulsory imposition or all for voluntary acceptance. Sure, Rushdooney may have had the sense to not openly advocate for compulsory imposition of his views. However, that still leaves room for his ideology to ultimately and necessarily depend upon imposition by main force.

    As applied to the overall topic of this blog, the question is whether Rushdooney’s ideology is ultimately abusive. It does not matter what Rushdooney’s intentions were. It only matters what the outcome is. Only the fruit matters.


  59. Blackbird

    Your comment touched my heart. I’ve read it a few times.

    “I prayed for the first time in a long time,
    “God, please show me what I’m missing.”

    “The resurrection validates what happened at the Cross.
    And it means that God = Sacrificial Love.”

    “I want to find a way to understand the bible
    so that it make sense as a whole.”

    Thanks for opening your heart. – And – Like you – “I’m on a quest”
    “to understand the bible” – To understand – the Word of God – Jesus…
    To be one of His Sheep – To hear His Voice – And Follow Jesus…

    Sounds to me like you’re on the way – By asking God to show you…
    Because, Jesus is – “the way, the truth, and the life:” John 14:6
    Keep asking Jesus for the “Truth” that’s been written.

    Came a time, I could NO longer trust in mere man, for Truth, For Me, Today.
    If I wanted, Truth, For Me, Today – I had to go directly to Jesus.

    When I did my own research, I found today’s “Religious Leaders” were teaching many – Commandments of Men, Doctrines of Men, Traditions of Men, that Jesus warned us would Make Void “the Word of God and NOT the Bible.

    The “Religious Leaders” were teaching lots of stuff NOT in the Bible.
    Eventually found out – I was in agreement with Jesus – and His Word. 😉

    Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; *Cursed* be the man that trusteth in man,
    Matthew 24:4 …Take heed that no man deceive you.
    Mark 13:5 … Take heed lest any man deceive you:
    Luke 21:8 …Take heed that ye be not deceived:
    Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words…
    2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means…
    1 John 3:7 Little children, Let no man deceive you …
    Ps 118:8-9 – It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

    Yup – I had been deceived by man. – The Benefit? – I had to go to Jesus . 😉
    Jesus wanted to be “The “ONE” Teacher. Mat 23:8. – And teach ALL Truth.

    John 6:45
    It is written in the prophets, And they shall be ALL taught of God.

    Deuteronomy 4:36
    Out of heaven he made thee to *hear His voice,*
    that *He might instruct thee:*

    Psalms 32:8
    I will *instruct thee and *teach thee
    in the way which thou shalt go: I will *guide thee with mine eye.

    And the best teacher is….

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}


  60. I see no reason why a pastor who betrays his profession should ever be eligible to go back into the job. It’s not that there is nothing else for him to do—it’s a big world out there.
    Well said, Patrice
    He should have a nice HUMBLE job where he can learn/relearn the values he promoted…. and have time to get to know the God who is love (agape).

    Taco Bell, Wal-mart and Dollar General are always hiring.

    But that’s just it. If this guy were your average Joe Schmoe church goer who sat quietly in his pew and was known only by a small handful of other families, we’d be more generous in compassion.

    This guy set himself up as a guru – telling other people how to live, admonishing them when they didn’t “follow” his orders, living high on the hog in a multi-million dollar house and property, and just generally being a jerk on the scale of Anthony Robbins.

    Time to eat some humble pie.


  61. BeenThereDoesThat writes: “This is a conflation of the kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of God, Jesus himself made distinctions between the two.”

    This distinction is real enough: the question is whether it’s dynamically changing. Isaiah 9:6-7 says that the government is on Christ’s shoulder, and of the increase of that government and of peace there shall be no end. Like the mountain cut without hands in Daniel 2, it grows until it fills the whole earth. Then we will see the angel’s announcement realized, when “the kingdoms of the earth are become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.” (Rev. 11:15). That is what making disciples of (not “from”) all the nations is about — the nations become Christ’s disciples.

    What is happening isn’t conflation, it’s absorption by the work of the Spirit, which is slowly being poured out on all flesh century after century.


  62. Chalcedon –

    Enough already. I can’t speak for everyone on the Blog but it would seem to me that laws that evolve/get rewritten/keep up with changing society are better for the Western world and its people. Laws generated in the 1st century belong with that society, in my opinion. I’m wondering what Biblical law, for instance, would apply to cyber-bullying. . .please get real. And give us all a break from your sermons.


  63. @Chalcedon Foundation: “Looks like posts here have triggered something unusual on Jen’s Gem’s: an Open Letter to Chalcedon, which prompted an invited response from Chalcedon’s Vice President in which he sets the record straight in an unexpected way. You can see it here:

    That would be a reasonable assumption. In fact it was this comment which motivated my writing the article:

    @Julie Anne: ” Reconstructionism (you’ll see footnotes from Rushdoony, a Reconstructionist), is the core of the Homeschool Movement and the driving force of many of the practices: keeping daughters at home, out of the work force, away from college, marrying young, having lots of babies, etc.”

    I have high regard for Julie Anne, but I believe she is misinformed on this point. As I have noted in my article, R.J. Rushdoony is one of the founding fathers of the modern home school movement. It would not then be unreasonable for those who condemn home schooling to disdain Rushdoony. But oddly enough there are many home schoolers (Julie Anne being one of them) who believe in home schooling but who at the same time disdain one of its most significant pioneers. Such is the sad state of confusion so many live in today.

    We are all vulnerable to the temptation of seeking out easy targets to blame for all the evils we see around us. What makes for an easy target? Someone (or some thing) that it just feels good to blame. In other words, easy targets are often not especially logical targets. Apparently R.J. Rushdoony is one such easy target. Feel good as it may for some to blame Rushdoony, it simply doesn’t follow logically that Rushdoony bears responsibility for the numerous aberrant and extra-biblical teachings and practices that are so widely manifested in Christian home schooling today. To the best of my knowledge, Rushdoony never advocated for, or practiced, any of those things Julie Anne mentioned above (anyone here is welcome to correct me where they can provide evidence that I am wrong, with the caveat that it must come from primary source documentation — with the volume of material Rushdoony published there is no shortage of that). Therefore, to say Christian Reconstructionism and Christian Patriarchy, as Rushdoony taught it and practiced it, was, or is the “driving force” for “keeping daughters at home, out of the work force, away from college, marrying young, having lots of babies”, etc., is simply false. Rushdoony taught nor practiced any such things.

    Nevertheless, Chalcedon’s Vice President does not “set the record straight”, as you claim, Chalcedon Foundation. I have invited you to do that very thing but, so far, it hasn’t happened. Martin’s reply so far has been helpful but my challenge remains unfulfilled. The invitation remains open.

    Martin Selbrede has, in his reply to me, at least referenced an insightful article of his in which, speaking of Kathryn Joyce and her less than scholarly research approach evidenced in her book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, he says, “She would have recognized that the second and third-hand information she appeals to is a sad caricature of Rushdoony’s position.” I’ve read Kathryn Joyce’s book and I quite agree with Selbrede’s critique. I believe this is exactly the problem with the vast majority of those who have blamed R.J. Rushdoony and the doctrines he promulgated for all the abuses and evils we see evidenced today in Christian home schooling. They have taken second and third-hand information and turned it into a sad caricature.

    Julie Anne, it would seem to me that’s what you, and many other commenters here, have done in unjustly attributing to Rushdoony those things in the modern home schooling movement that you (and I too) object to. Place the blame squarely where it belongs: Phillips, Sproul, Swanson, McDonald, Botkin, and others of their ilk, not with a man who did not promulgate those things that you have unjustly accused him of.

    Lastly, this thread has gone way off point from the original comment of Julie’s that triggered all this unproductive back and forth. It started out with a poorly informed charge against Reconstructionism, which made a leap of logic turn into Dominionism, and then off into the weeds with Theonomy. I’d respectfully request that the discussion return to the original point that Julie made. Please?


  64. Mr. Eston, could you kindly reiterate your challenge? If I can, I will try to fulfill it.

    I also drew attention to the “into the weeds” deflection. I could either ignore the questions (nonresponsive) or answer them (windbag). I’d prefer to rerail the train too.


  65. T. W. Eston,

    When I first posted here, I logged in as Chalcedon Foundation. When your Open Letter to Chalcedon on Jen’s Gems was forwarded to me late Monday night, I was at home, and I completed writing my reply around 3 AM. Exhausted by the late hour, I mistakenly used my Facebook account to log in and post my response at Jen’s Gems, thereby listing me under my personal name rather than my affiliation.

    Because I thought that interested parties here would like to see what had developed at Jen’s Gems regarding your Open Letter, and because I intended to retire this login shortly to avoid any ensuing complications as a result of responding to two different websites, I briefly described myself in the third person. The generic login lasted longer than intended (things didn’t wind down here as expected), and although I never used more than one name at any individual site (I regard that as unethical), I felt obligated to reply to the continuing questions here with the login name everyone already knew.

    After your last post, I realized that you were monitoring both websites, and this put you at a disadvantage I never intended. In short, Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens are the same person, and Martin Selbrede at Jen’s Gems is Chalcedon Foundation at Spiritual Sounding Board. From your vantage point switching between the two sites, this must have been as confusing as the statement found in Zechariah 3:2 — “And Jehovah said unto Satan, ‘Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan.'”

    As a result, should I post anything more here, it will be under my personal name rather than my affiliation, in deference to any others monitoring both sites like you’ve been doing.

    As a gesture of good will, I will email you my phone number tonight via your Gmail account. I’ll be driving from Austin to Houston tomorrow between 4PM-7PM CST, and you are more than welcome to contact me by phone during that time so that we can better address your remaining concerns about the issues raised in your Open Letter.

    With respect,

    Martin Selbrede


  66. I am posting this at both Spiritual Sounding Board and at Jen’s Gems in response to yesterday’s charge that my presence and statements at these sites amount to nothing more than “damage control.” And by damage control, the critics don’t mean what the Good Samaritan did, but what King David did (getting Uriah drunk, sending him to the front lines, etc.).

    This accusation at first looks to gain weight when we read how surprised people at these sites are that Chalcedon is even there in the midst initiating a dialogue. As if to say, “Okay, so now Chalcedon comes out of their ivory tower and tries to reach across the aisle to their critics. NOW they start a dialogue — how convenient. They never did before. Pretty transparent damage control, isn’t it?”

    This is a challenge concerning Chalcedon’s track record. This is something of a no-win situation: if I correct the record, I look like I’m touting our track record and therefore lack humility. So those who can evaluate the matter objectively might learn something, but the sceptics won’t be able to see beyond their confirmation bias (which, given the church’s general’s track record, is understandable).

    So, is our participation at these sites merely a flash-in-the-pan attempt by Chalcedon to reach across the aisle and dialogue with critics, or does Chalcedon have a record of doing so, which would make our participation here just one more example of its consistent conduct? Let’s take a look.

    In 2005, Chalcedon attempted to enter into dialogue with critics gathered in New York at an Anti-Dominionism Conference, doing so in person in several instances (e.g., with Katherine Yurica). No takers.

    In my Nov.-Dec. 2006 FFAOL review of Rev. Mel White’s book, “Religion Gone Bad,” I was saddened to note that the author had adopted a policy of refusing to dialogue with the other side, despite his critique of fundamentalists and their “no discussion” attitude.

    In 2007, Chalcedon invited journalist Jeff Sharlet, a critic of perceived historic revisionism, to enter into a dialogue in the wake of his Harper’s Magazine article. He didn’t take us up on it (but did acknowledge that my published response to him in the March-April 2007 issue of Faith for All of Life was, to his surprise, quite good).

    In the Sept-Oct 2007 issue of FFAOL, we ended up publishing “Answers to Tough Questions About Christian Reconstruction,” answers I offered to questions posed to Chalcedon by a major Bay Area atheist group. The group had initiated the exchange, promising to publish our answers, but after they read my responses they failed to follow through. We had to publish the resulting dialogue ourselves.

    An clear and explicit invitation to dialogue with the author of Quiverfull (Kathryn Joyce) was extended to her in the March-April 2010 issue of FFAOL. No response (yet!).

    In the July-Aug 2012 issue we appealed to Dr. Paul McGlasson to address concerns about his new book, “NO! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism.” (Insert sound effect of crickets.)

    Chalcedon has regularly reached across the aisle: it’s in our DNA to do so. And it’s not a hard thing to do. Nonetheless, nobody accepted our overtures. So when T. W. Eston’s Open Letter appeared at Jen’s Gems, we accepted his invitation, not grudgingly but gladly. Constructive dialogue with those across the aisle was something we’ve been openly seeking for years, without success.

    But it was not for lack of trying.


  67. Home School Enrichment Magazine just sent me a Black Friday add for Vision Forum’s Catalog. I could see Vision Forum sending it to me, but another homeschool company? Doesn’t that seem like an innapropriate endorsement given the circumstances? Maybe I am reading into it too much!


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