Film Fraud: A Phillips Family Tradition?

sudan_the_hidden_holocaustIt would seem that Doug Phillips isn’t the only member of his family who has a penchant for perpetrating film frauds. I received an email from a very credible source. The content of that email is truly shocking, and I’ve confirmed from additional sources that the story is in fact true.

I’ve also been informed that no one to date has been willing to publicly tell the story, while also naming names, because of the likelihood of a lawsuit by the perpetrator. In fact, the perpetrator has already threatened litigation before about this, so the concerns appear to be well justified.

Ministry Watchman isn’t exactly thrilled over the prospect of being sued either. However, given the serious nature of the story we can’t in good conscience just ignore it.

Dear Mr. Barnes,

Thank you for agreeing to keep my name confidential. As I explained, you are free to use any of the contents of this email as a source for your own reporting, or you can just reproduce it as is without my name. I am interested that the truth be told, but at this stage in my life a lawsuit is more excitement than I need.

I have had friendships with several South African Reformed missionaries who have been active throughout Africa for many years. These men are highly respected. They have had a dramatic and positive impact in many African countries, often working behind the scenes in some of the most dangerous places that a missionary could ever expect to work in. In fact it’s rare that you’d ever find a missionary willing to go right into the middle of a war torn country.

I have supported the work of these brave missionaries and am personally familiar with some of the daring feats they have accomplished in difficult and hostile environments. One of the countries in which these missionaries have had a profound impact is Sudan, where millions of Christians have been murdered, enslaved, raped, starved to death, or had their limbs hacked off by Marxist Muslims.

The martyrdom of so many Sudanese Christians with so little outcry around the world is one of the great tragedies of modern times. I believe that God is especially pleased that these missionary friends have worked hard to help when so many have turned their backs. One of their greatest contributions is the tenacity with which they’ve worked to expose this Islamic genocide against millions of Christians and give it worldwide attention.

Much of this good work has been done through a ministry called Frontline Fellowship. The name itself is revealing. Frontline Fellowship and its missionaries have often put themselves literally on the very front lines of some the world’s hottest hot spots. The founder of Frontline Fellowship, Rev. Peter Hammond, has written several outstanding books, including Faith Under Fire In Sudan. Frontline Fellowship has also produced videos about missions work in some of the most challenging and dangerous nations in the world. I know Rev. Hammond to be a very courageous, yet exceedingly humble, man who does not seek glory or honor for himself but rather seeks to honor God alone.

Another book that Rev. Peter Hammond has written is Character Assassins (coauthored by Rev. Brian Abshire). In it Rev. Hammond recounts many instances of men who have come to the mission field seeking a name for themselves as much as, or more than, seeking to honor the name of Jesus Christ. According to Peter Hammond this is an all-too-common problem. However, Rev. Hammond is exceedingly gracious by not naming names in that book.

One significant story featured in Character Assassins is on pages 38-39. It bears repeating here because it will be of particular interest to your readers:

Africa’s Forgotten War

When I first started working in Sudan and writing and speaking about the persecution of Christians in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, there were very few Christian ministries involved there. Most Christians were not aware that the largest country in Africa was involved in the longest war still raging, with the oldest community of Christians in Africa suffering some of the worst persecution in the world today. Through hundreds of radio and TV programmes, scores of articles and the publication of the Faith Under Fire In Sudan book, the news blackout on the colossal conflict in Sudan started to be lifted.

As we exposed and publicised the Scorched Earth Tactics, systematic terror bombings of civilian targets and research of the slave trade in Sudan numerous ministries began to get interested in this neglected field. Some lifted whole articles and photographs from our mission and presented them to their supporters as their own. One individual even launched his own ministry based on a video documentary on Sudan which we had helped a Christian film ministry to produce. On his website he claimed to have led the mission trip, on which he was just a guest with no specific responsibilities. Even the tons of Bibles which we had organised for almost a year he claimed had been provided by his ministry which hadn’t even been in existence at that stage.

Endangering Christians

Even more serious than the false claims and plagiarism on his website, he obtained a copy of the broadcast master of the video before we had checked it, and began circulating and selling a version of the video which included numerous factual errors and serious security breaches. When I had agreed to take the film producer into Sudan, it was on the basis of a written agreement that I would have the opportunity to correct any factual errors or security breaches which could endanger the churches and mission bases — before the film was released.

In the wake of the premature release of this uncorrected version, every location of our mission activity in the South, identified in the video, was repeatedly bombed. This included the hospital, cathedral, school, mission base, and chaplains’ training centre. In fact, I was leading an Evangelism Explosion training team at just one of those locations when we were bombed on Sunday morning at the church.

The community which included the Frontline Fellowship mission base, high school and chapel was bombed ten times. The Samaritans Purse Hospital and the Cathedral at Lui was also bombed ten times. Yet, repeated attempts to persuade the individual to delete the security breaches from his version of the video were unsuccessful. Instead, he started to threaten legal action against both the film producer and ourselves for using what he now considered his video.

“God will bring every deed into judgement, including, every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:14

brad_phillipsRev. Hammond didn’t name names in this book. I wish he had, because the wicked deeds perpetrated against Frontline Fellowship were perpetrated by real men with real names. The name of the man who “obtained a copy of the broadcast master of the video” is Bradford L. Phillips. Rev. Hammond’s use of the word “obtained” is his only too gracious way of saying that Brad Phillips “stole” the video master.

Brad Phillips is the founder of The Persecution Project Foundation. Your readers might be interested in knowing that one of the founding board members of Persecution Project is Matthew Chancey. Your readers will be even more interested to know that Brad Phillips is the younger brother of Doug Phillips and the son of Howard Phillips.

I was reminded of Rev. Hammond’s book and its report of Brad Phillips’ actions when I read your intriguing story exposing Doug Phillips’ Raising the Allosaur video fraud. It appears that Brad Phillips isn’t the only member of the Phillips family to have some history of using other men’s work for his own claims of success, even where personally making relatively little contribution. Even worse is the fact that this is done in the name of “Christian ministry.”

Rev. Hammond was only too kind (and also concerned about being sued by Brad Phillips) to go into all the gory details in his book. The fact is that the situation with Brad Phillips was even worse than is indicated by Rev. Hammond’s abbreviated description, which itself is bad enough. I’m familiar with some of the details that Peter Hammond left out, and I’d like to share them with you. If Brad Phillips were to have ever repented publicly or even privately of what he did then exposing him would be unnecessary. But to my knowledge Brad Phillips and Persecution Project Foundation have never repented to anyone for their misdeeds.

In 1998 [HB's note: this also happens to be about the same time Doug Phillips launched Vision Forum], Brad Phillips sought to form an alliance with Peter Hammond, and he requested to go with Hammond on one of his numerous mission trips to Sudan. By that point Hammond had already been in Sudan something like 35 times, whereas Brad Phillips had just only the year before formed his Persecution Project. Phillips was a young and ambitious new missionary with little practical experience who sought to gain some notoriety for himself and raise funds quickly.

Knowing of Brad Phillips’ lack of personal qualifications and lack of missionary field experience, the Frontline team warned him repeatedly that conditions in Sudan were some of the harshest in the world. Not only would they be going into war zones, but the risks of dying or being permanently injured just due to environmental issues are extremely high. The temperatures in Sudan are extreme, disease is rampant, and the bugs and parasites are like nothing any American has ever experienced.

While willing to foster a cooperative working relationship between Frontline Fellowship and Phillips’ newly formed Persecution Project Foundation, Rev. Hammond thought it ill advised for the young and inexperienced Brad Phillips to personally make the trip. Phillips would not be dissuaded, however, and insisted on coming.

The trip to Southern Sudan took place in November 1998. Brad Phillips accompanied Peter Hammond and several other Frontline Fellowship missionaries, along with Pat Matrisciana, the founder of Jeremiah Films and a close personal friend of Peter Hammond. The inspiration for the video came from Peter Hammond’s book Faith Under Fire In Sudan, as even Brad Phillips has freely admitted. According to all who were present, Brad Phillips did not hold up well at all under the harsh conditions, making the work of the trip considerably more difficult for everyone else.

Pat Matrisciana, however, held up well under the grueling conditions and personally shot virtually all of the hundreds of hours of video. After several weeks in the field, Matrisciana returned to his Hemet, California headquarters to begin the tedious work of editing down the video footage into a compelling one hour documentary video. As I understand it, Caryl Matrisciana, Pat’s wife, herself also a very accomplished video production person, also played a significant role in the editing, writing, and producing of Sudan, the Hidden Holocaust.

Brad Phillips, though lacking any video production skills, insisted on joining the Matriscianas at their Hemet video production facilities. Phillips had hardly been an asset in Sudan, so attempts were made to dissuade Brad Phillips from going to Jeremiah Films. However, once again Phillips would hear none of it. After a number of days of intense editing work by the Matriscianas and other Jeremiah Films staff, Brad Phillips was made aware that the video was “nearing completion.” What remained was to forward a copy to Rev. Hammond for his review and instructions for the last and final editing.

The reason Hammond needed to review the film was to ensure that none of the video footage could be used for intelligence purposes by the Islamic Sudanese government in their efforts to exterminate Christian opposition. Frontline Fellowship is well known to the Islamic Khartoum government, and Peter Hammond is especially hated by that government. He is, quite literally, a marked man. So Hammond regarded it as foregone conclusion that the Sudanese government would be one of the first to order a copy of the video as soon as it became available, and he wanted to ensure that purchase would be of no use to them.

Brad Phillips had been personally apprised of Hammond’s intelligence concerns while in the field, and he was told of it several times subsequently. Any footage that Matrisciana had shot of churches, hospitals, schools, and supply depots would have to be carefully edited so as to not make their location apparent and make them easy targets for the Islamic Khartoum government. Brad Phillips was well aware of the long history of the brutal Khartoum government, and the fact that for years they had engaged in a ruthless campaign of forced “Islamic conversion” and the imposition of Sharia through murder, rape, amputations, slavery and forced “relocations” to “peace camps” where they would be starved to death. Even crucifixions of numerous Christians have occurred. Millions of Sudanese have suffered genocide at the hands of the Muslims, so Hammond’s caution was well justified.

However, immediately prior to Matrisciana being able to forward a copy of the edited video to Hammond, a master of the video disappeared from Matrisciana’s Hemet ranch. Brad Phillips disappeared from the ranch at the very same time. Matrisciana and Hammond were subsequently able to track down Phillips and contact him by phone in his Virginia office. He acknowledged taking the video but made no apologies. He intended to begin selling it immediately without additional editing. By this point, Hammond had viewed a master of the video himself and knew that additional editing was required. He pleaded with Phillips to not release the video in its unfinished state. He explained that as soon as the video fell into the hands of the Sudanese government it would provide a wealth of intelligence. Hammond feared that a fresh round of bombing campaigns would result.

Matrisciana and Hammond were unable to persuade Phillips to return the film, even when they told him, “Please, you don’t have to steal the film. We’re even willing to just give you the film if that’s what it takes. But don’t put it into distribution. Lives are at stake.”

But Phillips refused to heed their warnings, and not long after they discovered that Phillips had a strong personal financial stake in selling the video immediately, despite their warnings. Phillips had brokered a major “deal” with a highly respected Reformed television evangelist, who had ordered thousands of copies of the video in advance and was expecting delivery. I do not know if this buyer would have permitted a delay in delivery or not, but either way, Phillips did not turn over the master for the final edits and proceeded to sell copies without those edits.

Unfortunately, Hammond’s fearful predictions came true. Not long after Phillips began selling his unedited version of the video, every single church, hospital, school and supply depot shown in the video came under heavy bombardment by artillery, helicopter gunships and bomber planes. In fact every single structure that was shown in the video was totally destroyed in a matter of weeks. It became only too apparent that the Khartoum government was working directly off “intelligence” acquired from Phillips’ stolen video.

But the destruction is actually far more horrific than just buildings. From all accounts, at a minimum hundreds of Christians died as a direct result of Brad Phillips’ theft and premature release of Sudan, the Hidden Holocaust. Brad Phillips managed to gain a name for himself in the U.S. among a number of big-name evangelicals as a so-called champion of the cause of the persecuted Sudanese Christians. Since then Persecution Project has grown into an actual supporter of the relief and evangelism work in Sudan. But it was done at a terribly high cost, and it was done by Brad Phillips taking credit for things he had little if any part in.

In Touch Mission, the U.S.-based sister organization to Frontline Fellowship, sells the final edited and “intelligence-safe” version of Sudan, The Hidden Holocaust. Jeremiah Films likewise offers the safe version of Sudan, the Hidden Holocaust. Interestingly enough though, Persecution Project no longer sells its stolen version of the video (sounds a lot like the disappearance of Raising The Allosaur, doesn’t it?). But the horrendous damage and loss of life has already been done, so it makes little difference at this point that Brad Phillips no longer sells it, other than maybe Phillips is hoping that by taking it off the shelf it will lessen the likelihood of his public exposure.

For Peter Hammond and Pat Matrisciana the issue was never about the money, and the many hundreds of thousands of dollars that Brad Phillips made off his stolen video. Their concern was for the safety of the Sudanese people. Needless to say, however, the many hundreds of thousands of dollars that Brad Phillips acquired through theft and sale of the pre-release version of the video could have been put to good use by the men who actually deserved the credit; and who deserves the credit is very obvious from the film itself. While Hammond and his Frontline Fellowship missionaries appear in many scenes in the difficult Sudan field conditions, the only scene that Brad Phillips appears in is a very brief view of him talking from behind the desk of his air conditioned office in Virginia.

Brad Phillips built his “ministry” and gained a name for himself on the backs of honorable men that he ripped off. Reading your expose about Doug Phillips and his own video fraud was like a deja vu experience. It appears as if film fraud is a Phillips family tradition. But Doug Phillips at least comes out looking not quite as bad as his little brother in that hundreds of Christians haven’t died because of his video fraud.

I hope that you will use what I have written above for a story and that Ministry Watchman will publicize it. Certainly, Ministry Watchman has shown more courage than any other Christian news site I have seen in doing the hard but vital work of, as you put it, “exposing the evil deeds of darkness.” It’s unfortunate that there even has to be a Ministry Watchman at all and that there are such dark deeds to expose in Christian ministries. But that is the world we live in, and I appreciate your work to take off our rose-colored glasses.

I also hope that the publicity of a story will move Brad Phillips’ conscience to repentance. He cannot now undo what was done. He can’t bring back from the grave the hundreds of Christians who died. But public confession and repentance would be good for him and for the church. Until such time, however, those who would support Christians in Sudan should consider working through other organizations besides Persecution Project.

After receiving the above email, I contacted Persecution Project Foundation and asked to speak with Brad Phillips about these allegations. I was told that Mr. Phillips was unavailable. However, the man that I spoke with (he refused to identify himself by name) said that he was very familiar with the allegations and had heard them before. He said, “It’s all just a big misunderstanding.”

I asked how I could contact Brad Phillips to clarify the “misunderstanding,” and he replied, “Mr. Phillips is out of the country and will be unavailable for some time.” He would not provide me with an email address or any other means of contacting Phillips directly. I asked why the video was no longer being sold by Persecution Project Foundation. The Persecution Project staff member replied that, “The war in Sudan is over. They’ve signed a peace treaty. The video doesn’t serve a purpose anymore.”

“Doesn’t serve a purpose?” I asked. “Your own web site still talks about the video and says, ‘This shocking documentary reveals the unknown struggle of the African Christian tribes of central and southern Sudan who are presently engaged in a life-and-death battle against radical Moslem invaders from the north. Africa’s longest war has enslaved and killed millions of Sudanese Christians, specifically targeted because of their faith.’ Even if Christians weren’t still be persecuted in Sudan, and I think you know that’s not true, that video would still serve an important purpose by informing people of one of the greatest holocausts of the 20th and 21st centuries. How can you say it serves no useful purpose?”

The man wouldn’t respond, so I continued.

“So you’re telling me that because there’s a peace treaty that means that the Christians in Sudan aren’t being persecuted anymore? Anyone who’s been following what’s been going on in Sudan knows that’s completely untrue. Peace treaties in Sudan aren’t any more meaningful than peace treaties between the Israelis and Palestinians. I don’t understand how you can say something like this. I thought your organization cared about what was going on in Sudan. None of this sounds right. Please, just tell me the real reason you don’t offer the Sudan video anymore. Is it because the allegations that Brad Phillips stole the video master is true?”

The man said he couldn’t answer that question, but he suggested that I write a letter expressing my concerns to Brad Phillips.

Well, Mr. Phillips, since you have evaded for seven years making any public statement to explain these serious allegations against you, and since you’re engaged in an obvious cover up, and worse yet since you’ve allegedly threatened to sue anyone who has openly challenged you for your alleged theft, and since you are using your Persecution Project Foundation staff members to brush this all aside as just a little “misunderstanding,” and since you’re apparently instructing your staff to refuse to supply direct contact information for you, please consider this article to be the equivalent of my writing you a letter. I make it public because you made your version of the Sudan video public, and I would welcome a public reply.


77 Comments on “Film Fraud: A Phillips Family Tradition?”

  1. I am utterly speechless. I can only think of this bible passage at the moment:

    1Ti 6:9-10
    9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and [into] many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
    10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

    Does anyone know who this person is?

    highly respected Reformed television evangelist

    How many reformed TV evangelists are there?

  2. The Jostler says:

    Watchman and Mr. Barnes,

    These are serious allegations – am drafting faxable letter to incoming majority leader (Senator Reid), both US Senators, incoming Speaker Pelosi, and DOJ, have already contacted a friend in the MSM. If this is true – Phillips belongs in jail.

    Jostlin’ the Jabberwocky

  3. Lynn says:

    “highly respected Reformed television evangelist”

    I can only think of one. His church is in Coral Ridge, FL, and I got to hear him preach once, before Christmas, many years ago.

  4. Jen says:

    Well, I can see that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree!

    Doug Phillips wrote today about how his father, Howard Phillips, taught his children to respond when confronted: “From a son’s perspective, however, it is highly instructive to watch a father act honorably in the midst of such conflict. It has been a great blessing in my own life to observe my father nobly respond even in the face of barbs from former allies and friends, once loved and nurtured by him. Eternally optimistic, Dad would always say: ‘Never be bitter. Life is too short. Thank God for your blessings. Press on!’”

    When Doug Phillips was relating this story to us once, he expounded this account by telling how his father would teach him to just let others’ criticisms roll off, like water off a duck’s back.

    While we should certainly forgive and never grow bitter, the Phillips family apparently has taken this to the extreme to mean that you never have to listen when someone brings sin to your attention. I have personally seen Doug Phillips refuse to listen many times when sinful circumstances and attitudes are brought to his attention, such as when we witnessed here recently on Ministry Watchman his refusal to confess his own sin of stealing the limelight for the Allosaur fakeumentary.

    Therefore, this story, while grievous, does not surprise me at all. The Phillips children were apparently taught not only to refuse to repent when confronted for wrong doing, but also to do whatever it takes to get ahead. And I thought the Constitution Party was not supposed to be politics as usual. I guess the Nixon administration politics rubbed off a little too much on the whole Phillips family.

    And then again, I believe that Brad Phillips is the only sibling that Doug Phillips publicly supports, so maybe there is hope for other four brothers and sisters.

  5. Henry Barnes says:

    Brandon,

    I don’t think it would take many guesses to figure out who the unnamed Reformed television evangelist is. However, we made the decision here to not disclose his name. My understanding is that he’s fully aware of this story and that he has been for quite some time. Once he found out he terminated his relationship with Brad Phillips. However, Phillips continues to use the man’s name in his list of endorsements. I’m sure the man has issued his objections to Phillips, but after an endorsement is giving it’s not always so easy to take it back again.

    That Reformed television evangelist did the right thing by terminating his relationship with Phillips so there’s no point in mentioning him here by name, and we won’t be, nor will we permit any comments to be posted here that mention him by name. The story isn’t about him, it’s about Brad Phillips.

  6. Croc says:

    PPF still shows lists this video on their site, even though it’s not available for purchase:

    http://www.persecutionproject.org/resources/video/sthh.aspx#1

    Jeremiah Films still offers Frontline Fellowship’s version:

    http://www.jeremiahfilms.com/cgi-bin/store/agora.cgi?cart_

    id9868091.22240*-61ys7&p_id=SHHD&xm=on&ppinc=product

    ITMI also continues to the FF version:

    http://www.intouchmission.org/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=VSHH0

    Just for the record, ITMI founder, Bill Bathman, is Peter Hammond’s father-in-law.

  7. Morgan Farmer says:

    the horror

  8. Always Batya says:

    You say he made thousands with the film but I have to wonder how many donations came in as a result of the film. People donating but not realizing that they were indirectly helping to murder their Christian brothers and sisters.

    I have to wonder if Chuck Colson is aware of this abomination? I think I may write him a letter about it.

  9. Lynn says:

    This article reminds me of segments from Elisabeth Elliot’s book No Graven Image. It is a book I recommend very highly, although it is sobering. That particular work is about misconceptions of, gross mischaracterization in reporting of, and mishaps of missionary endeavors.

    It reminds me of the book, except this is a real life story, and it is *much* more horrible than Elisabeth’s fictional account.

  10. Shocked But Not Surprised says:

    This is one of the most horrible stories I’ve ever read. Even pagans have more sense than to go and do something like that!

    “I would welcome a public reply.” I seem to recall your making the same offer to Doug Phillips about his Raising The Allosaur fraud too. Still no reply? I really doubt we’ll hear a reply out of Brad Phillips either.

  11. Hank,

    Thank you for the explanation. Consider the matter closed.

  12. I asked why the video was no longer being sold by Persecution Project. The Persecution Project staff member replied that, “The war in Sudan is over. They’ve signed a peace treaty. The video doesn’t serve a purpose anymore.”

    If you will click on the link to my name you will see an interesting newpaper report from Star Exponent from May of 2005, where we can read things like this:
    “Brad Phillips, president of The Persecution Project, returned from Sudan in February, one month after the signing of the “Comprehensive Peace Agreement.” He is doubtful the agreement will hold, especially without continued government pressure from the U.S. in the form of sanctions.”

    “During his recent trip to Sudan, Phillips heard testimonies from natives that things had not changed for the better since the January peace agreement. Religious persecution continues, he said.”

    I wonder when he decided that the treaty was going to work after all?

    I found these two articles also interesting:

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_33_15/ai_55739274

    http://www.visionforum.com/hottopics/newsletters/newsletter.aspx?id=08-01-05

    (notice who co-authored that second one)

  13. Jen says:

    This is absolutely horrific. This is not just exposing spiritual abuse anymore, Hank, this is a crime and Brad Phillips ought to be prosecuted, repentance or not.

    I really don’t think these two examples of Christians just allowing these Phillips brothers crooks to steal their work is what our Lord means by “turning the other cheek,” especially in this case when hundreds are murdered as a result.

    This situation requires way more than moral outrage on the part of Christians. I believe God’s Law has something to say about criminals of this type.

  14. Wolf hound says:

    This is unbelievable, sad, and disgusting. Silence by the Phillip’s family to this story is unacceptable. We all deserve answers to these charges.

  15. Jen says:

    Hank, this is too awful for words. Our Lord must surely be grieved over actions like these by people who call themselves Christians. I pray for repentance for Brad Phillips and all those involved.

    After everything I keep reading on Ministry Watchman, I’m beginning to seriously question every place my money is going. I appreciate the faithful writings of each author here in helping me to be more discerning in who I support, and for tearing down men as idols, when we should be looking only to our Lord.

  16. Croc says:

    In the apologetic world of debate, there is an expression that goes something like this. “The guy who wins the debate, gets to sell the tape.”

    If this is applied to the DP & BP, that might explain why their videos are no longer sold.

    Since 2005, I’ve observed that Matt Chancey has been referred to as PPF’s communication director, office manager, & a board member. Is it all of the above, none, or just one?

    In case anyone is wondering, Brad & his entire family have lived in Kenya for almost one year now.

  17. Mark Epstein says:

    Hank,

    This is an interesting and very disturbing post, and I am sure you are watching the content of those who comment.

    This most unsettling account, of yet another Phillips family member, raises some serious concerns, and I don’t think we should lose focus concerning the issue of “fruit.” However, I think we all can table the fruit issue until after we weigh the evidence and we are able to make an objective determination based on the evidence. Of course, this will require some people making some very public statements concerning this issue, which underscores the reason I am writing today.

    I am asking others to join me in a public plea – a plea for all those who can provide testimony, as to the validity of these charges, to come forward. Your testimony is critical and crucial to justice being done. If these allegations are accurate, then we are discussing the snuffing out of the greatest gift anyone can ever receive – the gift of life as a Christian.

    You who do know the truth are not alone, and you have a duty to those who may have died, based on the allegations in this post. The best way to honor these dead men, women, and children is to speak out publicly.

    Just to reassure you that you are not alone, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has reported extensively on the Darfur region of the Sudan and, though he is a member of a media outlet that many of us take issue with, Mr. Kristof has conducted some insightful reporting from the region. Therefore, please do not think this issue isn’t “high profile” enough to warrant interest outside the blogosphere. The Sudan has the attention of many high profile individuals inside and outside the beltway.

    May God strengthen those who know the truth, and may He give you the strength to speak the truth.

    Mark

  18. Free says:

    I am concerned by the tone of the anonymous email as well as the harsh accusations being leveled against a man who identifies himself as our brother in Christ. It feels like a lynching.

    Was every effort made to actually speak with Brad Phillips concerning these terrible allegations–not only by MW, but by his accusers? Did his accusers seek to remedy this as per Matthew 18? Has the Reverend Hammond made a statement to confirm or deny these serious charges?

  19. Lynn says:

    Mark:
    “I am asking others to join me in a public plea – a plea for all those who can provide testimony, as to the validity of these charges, to come forward.”

    I agree with this, and have said so in the comment section in a post on my blog.

  20. Observing a Ruse says:

    MY PUBLIC PLEA:

    Mark, your words are disgusting! Claiming that you lead your house is shameful – Head of Household is not a catchphrase one employs to appear as though he upholds his duty, rather it is a position assumed and fleshed out with action and labor. Claiming you are head of your household is like the mice claiming they lead the Pied Piper out of Hamelin. You are certainly providing an example, but the example is poor and full of hypocrisy. As you like to remind folks, you too must stand before the Lord. You have either seared your conscience or you continue to deceive because you are so far entrenched in your own deception.

    You commented about fruit over at MW. Have you walked the fields of your vineyard recently? What’s the fruit of your lies, deception, multiple pseudonymous names, and vendetta produced in your household? Are you modeling the standard you speak of, or do you simply parrot words like a smith at the wheel?

    Your wife has you by the secrets, and this is apparent before all. Oh, you don’t like that language? Read your Bible Mark:

    When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: 12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. (Dt 25:11-12)

    Your neo-intellectual talk is pathetic – you seem to desire to be perceived as one who is knowledgeable and upright – you are known by your fruit. You use a bag of diverse weights as you speak double talk and hide your multiple pats on your back behind fictitious names. Come on Mark, fess up, be the man you know you should be. Get your house in order. You need to disciple your daughter, your wife, and the rest of your family. Your ruse will soon be up and you will be exposed before all.

  21. Lynn says:

    The article:
    “From all accounts, at a minimum hundreds of Christians died as a direct result of Brad Phillips’ theft and premature release of Sudan, the Hidden Holocaust.”

    Could someone provide a timeline starting with when the unedited video was released, and name some of the places that were bombed, and how long after the release these episodes occurred? The only date I note is November 1998, when the trip occurred.

    Oh, and to Mark Epstein, you already have two names, and those are Peter Hammond and Brian Abshire. What I mean is, just how many mission trips to Sudan, and how many unedited videos were released which match this kind of description? If it is only one, then you can safely conclude that two known people have brought the case to light, even though they didn’t mention names. If there is only one known case like this, and it would HAVE to be a known case because of what they claim took place in its aftermath, then you know it is speaking of the video Brad Phillips released.

    That being said, I wish the Matriscianas would be willing to directly say something, but I can understand if they choose not to.

  22. Henry Barnes says:

    “Was every effort made to actually speak with Brad Phillips concerning these terrible allegations–not only by MW, but by his accusers? Did his accusers seek to remedy this as per Matthew 18?” Yes, in particular by Peter Hammond and Pat Matrisciana, the requisite two witnesses, per Matthew 18:16, and they did so repeatedly. The only reply they received was a threat that if they pursued it any further Brad Phillips would sue them.

    “Has the Reverend Hammond made a statement to confirm or deny these serious charges?” As you can plainly see in the article Rev. Hammond wrote about it in his book. The only reason he didn’t name names is that Brad Phillips had already threatened to sue him. It’s sad but true that when most people are threatened with a lawsuit, no matter how frivolous the case might be, that usually is enough to dissuade them from saying anything more, or at least if they do say something they’ll be prudent enough about it to not name names.

  23. Lynn says:

    Here are some interesting links I found:

    From September 12, 2002, but talks about bombings that took place in 2000, with damaged property still extant at the time of the article:

    http://www.domini.org/openbook/sud20020912.htm

    November 24, 2000:

    http://southsudanfriends.org/News/BombingLui.html

    Article says these events took place September 21, 2002:

    http://www.demossnewspond.net/sp/releases/2002/luibombingrls092602.htm

    According to this site, the book Character Assassins was released in September of 2004:

    http://www.intouchmission.org/reports/main.htm?http://www.intouchmission.org/reports/archives/000366.html

  24. Free says:

    Thank you for the clarification on Matthew 18 being followed. I remain deeply concerned by the tone of the article and the bitter attack on Brad Phillips. Was he made aware of this article prior to its publication?

    It is daunting, to say the least, to see the deaths of our brothers and sisters in Sudan being pinned on this man, especially when his primary accusers did not even do so out of fear of a lawsuit. At what point is a veiled accusation prudent and not slanderous? I also question the purpose of a book entitled ‘Character Assassins’ which appears to do just that.

    I don’t think this is an appropriate forum for such accusations and fear the ramifications. (see the hateful ‘public plea’ launched against Mark Epstein just below my first post.) Is THIS how we bear the image of Christ to a fallen world? I assume that all who read this claim Christ as their Savior. I would ask that each person involved would pray for those being accused, for those being persecuted and for all who will be held accountable.
    23And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

  25. Mark Epstein says:

    Hank Barnes wrote:

    It’s sad but true that when most people are threatened with a lawsuit, no matter how frivolous the case might be, that usually is enough to dissuade them from saying anything more, or at least if they do say something they’ll be prudent enough about it to not name names.

    Unless your name is Epstein, then, regardless of your Christian name (Mark or Jen), you don’t fear man because your fear is correctly aligned with the Bible. The Epsteins fear God more than any created being He made in His image. Speaking of being created in God’s image, perhaps this is a thought some of the more malicious among us may wish to reflect on before they malign God’s handiwork. Just a thought offered for consideration.

    Mark

  26. Always Batya says:

    Free wrote:”Did his accusers seek to remedy this as per Matthew 18? ”

    Please forgive me but this is just more ignorance about Matthew 18. If all this is true, Brad did not ‘offend’ his brother…He helped the Sudanese government ‘murder’ his brother. (Please, for your own sake, study Matthew 18 before using it so freely This is a serious public sin with deadly consequences. It must be given light.)

    Free wrote: “I don’t think this is an appropriate forum for such accusations and fear the ramifications.”

    Where is the right forum? The churches that were bombed? The New York Times?

    Welcome to the brave new world of accountability. Abusers of authority and liars, deceivers and thieves hate blogs.

    Actually, I do not think it will be long before Daddy Phillips starts throwing his political weight around to protect his sons from all the scandals. Be on the lookout.

  27. Mark Epstein says:

    Observing a Ruse:

    Although I agree with your assessment that my house was in disarray for some time and have publicly admitted to that fact, I urge you to be cautious in your condemnation. Many devout, loving, and godly parents have subscribed to principles similar to the ones Doug Phillips articulates and yet have still suffered the pain of a wayward child. Whether you like me or not, please do not add to the pain of those parents who did not sin as I did in my home.

    Secondly, I find your comments concerning anonymity rather strange in light of your use of a pseudonym on Ministry Watchman, as well as a different anonymous name for the exact same comment you submitted to my website.

    Your reference to the law’s restatement is also perplexing. For, had Doug Phillips obeyed the biblical law, my wife and I wouldn’t have had to gone public. Why not obey the law in its first rendering, which is the crux of the issue concerning the unbiblical excommunication that lacked (1) a biblically supportable basis and (2) due process.

    Lastly, I hope you realize that the issue is not that a woman told her story of ecclesiastical tyranny; the issue is the unbiblical and immoral nature of our excommunication. My wife and I have endeavored to remain kind and balanced in our depiction of events, praising Doug Phillips where recognition is due, and truthfully relating the facts of those things that did not merit praise. Whether you like the report you’ve read or not, I would ask you to seek God’s infallible Word as a basis for an objective assessment.

    May God grant you grace and peace in the coming new year.

    Mark

  28. praying and thinking says:

    Mark, I am referring to your Comment posted hours ago, 5:58 P.M. December 29. I had realized a while ago, days or weeks ago, that you and Jen fear God and not men. Besides your fear of God and refusal to fear man, you stand out very noticeably in another way: you had sinned so extremely (I also have sinned similarly to you), and you not only permitted — but also encouraged and assisted — the truth to be known. That is repentance, and humility. And because of a number of details I have noticed, I think your motivation was not vengeance or unforgiveness, but a truthful desire for others to be warned to avoid such mistreatment and a desire for Doug Phillips and others to repent. My point is NOT that you are a wonderful man (“a capital person”), but that the Lord has worked in you His true work. I would that Doug Phillips and others would repent and do the same. And as you pointed out in your recent comment, I would that others who know the truth in these matters would fear the Lord and not fear any man, and would say the truth that should be presented and known for the Lord’s glory and the good of His people. Not for vengeance, but for the testimony of Christ’s truth that we profess before the world (these deeds have been done not by Billy Graham, Rick Warren, liberal Anglicans, or others, but by people in the middle of the body of Reformed believers), for the purity of the church, for the good of His people, and also for the good of these false ones — to call them to repentance. People who know facts done by Ligonier, and people who know facts done by Brad Phillips, should fear God and not man.

  29. You’ve Gone Too Far says:

    Always Batya said:

    “Please forgive me but this is just more ignorance about Matthew 18. If all this is true, Brad did not ‘offend’ his brother…He helped the Sudanese government ‘murder’ his brother. (Please, for your own sake, study Matthew 18 before using it so freely This is a serious public sin with deadly consequences. It must be given light.)”

    As far as the accusations here are concerned, you can remove the quotes around murder. Brad Phillips here stands accused of manslaughter, at least as far as our legal system would define it.

    I don’t care one iota about any sort of nuances you might see in Matthew 18 that justify posting an article like this. Free may be asking in particular about Matthew 18, but really I think Free is asking about due process. We have courts of law and church government to deal with these issues. I think it is sinful, irresponsible, and ridiculous to accuse a Christian man and public figure of murder, based on an anonymous email and a phone call to some poor employee over at Phillips’ ministry.

    If you’ve got the witnesses, fine. Call them before a jury. The internet is not the place to conduct a trial. This is not an fun game where we get to pretend to be investigative journalists. We don’t have the luxury of slowly revealing information to increase drama, and we certainly shouldn’t accuse people like this if we haven’t done all of our homework first. Why, if we’re talking MURDER, are the witnesses still remaining anonymous? Mr. Hammond doesn’t fear death in the Sudan; I doubt he fears a lawsuit. If these men really, honestly, believed Phillips was responsible for these deaths, I’d expect a little more than anonymous potshots on a relatively obscure Reformed blog years after the fact.

    If you are really, truly, accusing this man of murder, you should know better than to do it on a WordPress blog. And, on the chance (a good one, I hope) that Mr. Phillips is not guilty of what he’s accused of here, Lord help you all. Because then your libel will make you the murderers. You will have murdered his good name.

    Oh, and Batya — I hate blogs, and not because I fear accountability. It’s because I fear the brutal, unthinking, quick, typo-ridden, hasty, unjust, uncontrolled, mob-mentality, pitchforks and torches accountability of the Internet. So what if he’s guilty? What can any of us do about it? Someone with authority — like the keys of heaven or at least a gun — should be doing something. I doubt any cops are reading this blog.

  30. Curious says:

    “Actually, I do not think it will be long before Daddy Phillips starts throwing his political weight around to protect his sons from all the scandals. Be on the lookout.”

    Howard Phillips doesn’t have any “political weight” to throw around anymore. He left the Republican Party (in which he already had waning influence) to create a tiny third party (the Constitution Party) — which is currently being torn apart by a division over the issue of abortion (whether the party should allow candidates/leaders who favor exceptions such as in the cases of incest, the mother’s life, and rape).

    By the way, one of the co-authors of the “Character Assassins” book, the Rev. Brian Abshire, has been accused of his own ecclesiastical problems in this essay by David Eyre, “How Could This Happen in the PCA”?

    http://www.batteredsheep.com/pca.html

    (Abshire is not identified by name, only by his initials, “B.A.” However, I know of no one else who fits the description given by Mr. Eyre in his essay).

    If what has been written about Brad Phillips is true, his behavior is indeed sinful and beneath contempt. The behavior of his brother, Doug, in the matter of the “Raising the Allosaur” video appears to be well-documented and equally sinful and beneath contempt. There are no circumstances or explanations that can justify their behavior.

    However, it seems that too many who read and comment at this website positively revel in these revelations of sordid, stinking sin. I have read atheist blogs where the commenters are more charitable in their assessment of Christian leaders than some who are posting here. Gone is even the pretense that the existence of “Ministry Watchman” is to alert Christians to wolves in our midst; it appears that, for some at least, the whole enterprise exists to happily do violence to the reputations of men who profess to be Christians and to drag the entire Body of Christ through the mud with them.

    Is it too much to ask that some of the commenters here display more genuine concern for the souls of these men than delighted glee that “the mighty are falling”?

  31. Lynn says:

    I’d like to repeat my questions, mostly directed to Mr. Barnes and the team here:
    1. Could you tell what month and year Phillips released the video for mass marketing?

    2. Was Lui the place that Hammond referred to in his book? That’s where Samaritin’s Purse hospital was/is located, so that’s why I guessed that was the location.

    3. If yes to number 2., were the bombings, which took place throughout the year 2000, the first time that particular area had been so hard hit with these atrocious acts?

    4. If yes to number 3., then what other kind of intelligence could have been leaked, or what could have happened to cause these attackers to so cruelly destroy that particular location. Does anybody know, or have any way of finding out?

    I tend to agree with what Hammond/Abshire said in the book as far as the confiscation and distribution of that video goes. I also have no problem concluding that it is Brad Phillips who did that. What I am wondering about is tracing the attacks in Sudan to the release of the video, and that is why I would like some specific dates.

  32. Henry Barnes says:

    Lynn,

    When I have some answers I’ll be happy to post them. Please show me some patience.

  33. NB says:

    I believe that the comments of You Have Gone Too Far have gone too far in many ways. In the interest of brevity, however, I’ll just highlight a few of the errors from a small excerpt:

    We have courts of law and church government to deal with these issues. I think it is sinful, irresponsible, and ridiculous to accuse a Christian man and public figure of murder, based on an anonymous email and a phone call to some poor employee over at Phillips’ ministry.”

    1. If YHGTF really believes what he said right before this quote — that manslaughter, not murder, is the proper word — shouldn’t he continue to use this term rather than the wrong word, “murder,” that just happens to be more emotional?

    2. If readers will go the very beginning of Mr. Barnes’s story they will see that he said he confirmed the facts of the email with additional sources. Mr. Barnes also quoted the book by Mr. Hammond that appears to describe that happened (albeit without naming names). Thus, whether you agree or disagree with Mr. Barnes’ article, it is not factually correct to claim it was based only on an email from a single, unnamed source and a phone call to a member of the Persecution Project Foundation staff.

    3. I do not know enough about the law to know whether anything criminal occurred; if so, then the state could be involved. Certainly, it’s also the case that some complaint could be brought in a church court (assuming that Brad Phillips, unlike Doug Phillips, is actually under the authority of a church court). Even granting these two possibilities, I still don’t see from God’s Word that, therefore, the public may not discuss the matter and that Christian journalists may not report on the matter.

    Brad Phillips is, as YHGTF points out, a public figure. He also solicits donations from the public for an international ministry. As a result, he has voluntarity subjected himself to public scrutinity and, to some degree, public accountability in order to avail himself of a large, public donor base. It is “ridiculous” to claim that Mr. Phillips should get a free pass from public scrutiny solely because his alleged misdeeds may also be examined in courts of the church and state.

  34. Berean says:

    FREE — “I am concerned by the tone of the anonymous email as well as the harsh accusations being leveled against a man who identifies himself as our brother in Christ. It feels like a lynching.”

    I am not very concerned about the tone myself, because I think that substance is more important than form, just as facts are more important than feelings. I also see no “lynching,” which is a PC term for attacking the words or deeds of the guy on the opposing side.

    In my experience, those who suspect that factual claims are true (or even know them to be true) but don’t want to face the unpleasant truth resort to complaining about the “tone” of the communication of the facts. My own view in this instance is that, if the facts of the accusations are true, the tone of the email is actually restrained.

  35. Lynn says:

    I didn’t mean to sound impatient. In truth, after I submitted that post, I thought I should have said, “I’d like to rephrase my question and add some more.”

    Now I have other questions:
    “[N]ot long after they discovered that Phillips had a strong personal stake in selling the video immediately, despite their warning. Phillips had brokered a major “deal” with a highly respected Reformed television evangelist, who had ordered thousands of copies of the video in advance and was expecting delivery.”

    Did they find out about this after the video had started to be distributed, or before? If before, did they try to contact this television evangelist to warn him of what was going on?

    I promise I’ll be patient! ;-)

  36. You’ve Gone Too Far says:

    Respectfully, Mr. Barnes, a man stands accused of murder on your blog. Things like more patience from Lynn and more time to do research aren’t exactly luxuries I imagine you should be granted at this point.

    I can’t fathom why anybody who had researched this topic thoroughly enough to justify posting about it wouldn’t know the answers to these questions. They all seem to me to be pretty straightforward, and obvious to anybody who would be looking deeper into this situation. All I can think is that if I had written a research paper on this in college and turned it in without writing about Lynn’s answers — let alone not even knowing the answers to begin with — I could have expected a failing mark.

    I’m sorry to sound so vicious on this thread. I like to think that I am a patient and charitable person. It just seems to me that in this case, Mr. Barnes has publicly accused a man of murder, and needs to bring all of his “evidence” to “trial.” Now.

  37. Always Batya says:

    YGTF wrote: I hate blogs, and not because I fear accountability. It’s because I fear the brutal, unthinking, quick, typo-ridden, hasty, unjust, uncontrolled, mob-mentality, pitchforks and torches accountability of the Internet. So what if he’s guilty? What can any of us do about it? Someone with authority — like the keys of heaven or at least a gun — should be doing something. I doubt any cops are reading this blog. >>

    Spoken like a good kool aid drinker. We do not have pitchforks, just keyboards. ‘Typo ridden’…was that really necessary?

    So what if he is guilty? Really? You have that little compassion for defenseless Christians in the Sudan? Oh, yeah, it is just poor people in Africa, who cares, right?

    What can we do about it? Put it out there and wait to Brad Phillips to come forward and either tell us it is all wrong or admit it. Put it out there and let the accusers come forward if they will. Let Brad know someone cares about those Sudanese people who were bombed thanks to him.

    You want someone with authority to deal with this? How, who? The police? Are you serious?

    You know what amazes me. How many people are willing to look the other way with injustice. You just want ‘someone’ in authority to handle it for you so you do not have to think.

    Legally you are right.. it is manslaughter. In my book, which is meaningless, it was premeditated because he was warned about the very thing that happended and did not seem to care.

    So tell me, why are they not selling the video any more?

  38. Curious says:

    “Mr. Hammond doesn’t fear death in the Sudan; I doubt he fears a lawsuit. If these men really, honestly, believed Phillips was responsible for these deaths, I’d expect a little more than anonymous potshots on a relatively obscure Reformed blog years after the fact.”

    This is one of my biggest concerns about this website and those who post here. I am grateful that some of this information is making it to the light of day, but I have serious reservations about how that is happening.

    For example, I’m glad that we now know that Ligonier Ministries is an utterly corrupt enterprise, and that it is a legitimate question as to whether or not the Sprouls and the Dicks are actually converted. However, the individual who should have been speaking out about these misdeeds and sins was Dr. Don Kistler, not Frank Vance. Apparently Dr. Kistler was concerned about his job — and rightly so, as Ligonier recently fired him. But he should have had the courage to speak up himself, rather than allow Frank Vance — who has no Biblical standing in the dispute — to report on these facts in his behalf, whether explicitly or implicitly.

    As far as “Raising the Allosaur” goes, I’m glad that Joe Taylor was willing to be the source for that article, as he was directly involved in the dispute, and could demonstrate that he had attempted in good faith to reach a Biblical resolution with Doug Phillips. However, this is not a story that “Ministry Watchman” exposed; it was simply a rehash of a sordid tale that had already been told on the internet on other sites — indeed, on “Little Geneva,” which many of the posters here deem to be an “anti-Semitic,” “racist,” and “un-Christian” website.

    Now we have this latest article that makes very serious and strong accusations about Brad Phillips. What little I know about the Rev. Hammond is very positive. However, as the article I linked above notes, even his co-author, Brian Abshire, has been accused of ecclesiastical misdeeds on another website. At any rate, once again “Ministry Watchman” has stepped into a case where they have no Biblical standing. If the Rev. Hammond wanted to make the alleged misdeeds of Brad Phillips known to the world, he should have done so. Whoever is providing this material to “Ministry Watchman” is circumventing Scriptural procedures.

    It seems that some who post here, and perhaps even “the Watchmen” themselves, lack faith. God has promised us (or warned us, if you prefer) in His Word that our sins will find us out. “The Watchmen” and others appear to be impatient. Rather than insisting that others work through Biblical channels, they traffic in the demonstrably true accusations with open witnesses (“Raising the Allosaur”) to likely true accusations with anonymous witnesses (Kistler and Persecution Project) to the utterly undiscernable accusations of those who hide behind pseudonyms (the “he said/she said” story of Doug Phillips and the Epsteins). Along the way, they quote books co-authored by persons who are themselves accused of ecclesiastical abuses on similar blogs (the Rev. Abshire).

    It seems to me that the best way to resolve such disputes is to do so in the manner prescribed by the Bible. Of course, I don’t expect someone like Tim Dick to endorse the work of “Ministry Watchman.” But I would be very interested to learn the views of Reformed authors on church discipline and conflict resolution who have not yet found themselves in the crosshairs of this website — such as Jay Adams, Lou Priolo, Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries, Alexander Strauch, Edward Welch, and others. I suspect that they would not endorse this questionable enterprise either — no matter how much “good” is being done, and I think without question there is good being done here. But the ends do not justify the means — or are we Marxists instead of Bible-believing Christians?

  39. Henry Barnes says:

    “Respectfully, Mr. Barnes, a man stands accused of murder on your blog… It just seems to me that in this case, Mr. Barnes has publicly accused a man of murder.” If anyone has gone too far, You’ve Gone Too Far, it’s you.

    I never accused Brad Phillips of “murder.” The author of the email that I published never accused Brad Phillips of “murder.” The closest anyone came to that is Always Batya, a commenter that has no relationship to Ministry Watchman. He/she is entitled to their opinions, as are you. But what you’re not entitled to do is to misrepresent what they’ve said.

    Always Batya stated, “People donating but not realizing that they were indirectly helping to murder their Christian brothers and sisters” as well as “If all this is true, Brad did not ‘offend’ his brother…He helped the Sudanese government ‘murder’ his brother.”

    I don’t agree with Always Batya’s choice of the word “murder.” However, what they’ve said is technically accurate. The Sudanese government isn’t just guilty of murder, they’re guilty of the murder of millions of Sudanese. That’s called “genocide.”

    The allegations presented here make it plain that the actions of Brad Phillips resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Christians. Brad Phillips himself may not have murdered anyone, in that he didn’t pull the trigger or drop the bombs, but had it not been for his alleged reckless behavior those hundreds of Christians wouldn’t have died.

  40. John Steinhausen says:

    “I am grateful that some of this information is making it to the light of day, but I have serious reservations about how that is happening.”

    I see a few problems with Ministry Watchman too. But that doesn’t mean that Ministry Watchman is the problem. What it means is that there are wicked, corrupt men fleecing the flock that need to be exposed, disciplined and put out of the church so they can’t continue hurting Christ’s sheep. But is anyone really stupid enough to believe that wicked, corrupt men will voluntarily submit to the authority of the church to be disciplined? Of course wicked, corrupt man would never do any such thing.

    So what’s the solution? One thing’s for certain, none of Ministry Watchman’s critics have a solution of any kind. As far as I can tell they seem to believe that there aren’t wolves in our midst at all that need to be exposed. Those who attack Ministry Watchman appear to fall into one of several categories:

    The wolves in sheeps clothing themselves (John Duncan, Tim Dick)
    Lackeys and bootlicks of the wolves (Tim Challies, Matt Chancey)
    Hero worshippers (Brian Thornton)
    The ignorant, either ignorant of the facts, ignorant of the Bible, or both (probably well-meaning but don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and are too lazy to seriously investigate for themselves)

    Whether it be Ministry Watchman’s exposés of Ligonier Ministries, Doug Phillips, Brad Phillips, or whatever the story, the same complaints keep getting raised by Ministry Watchman’s critics:

    This is gossip.
    This is slander.
    This doesn’t comply with Matthew 18.
    It’s none of Ministry Watchman’s business.
    This should be handled privately between only the parties involved.

    Interestingly enough the same people who raise these objections didn’t seem to have any objections to Ligonier Ministries violating 1 Cor. 6 when they sued Frank Vance. What hypocrisy to be so selective about quoting the Bible!

    The “gossip” and “slander” allegations are just plain stupid and are typically made out of (at best) total ignorance, or (at worst) a blatant effort to cover up heinous sins.

    “You haven’t personally complied with Matthew 18, therefore you can’t say anything about it” is likewise said either in ignorance, or a blatant effort to silence Ministry Watchman. Even if Ministry Watchman didn’t personally go to the offender and confront them doesn’t mean that it wasn’t done. In fact in every case I’ve seen so far on Ministry Watchman they’ve very clearly stated that the wronged parties did comply with Matthew 18 by confronting the sinner, sometimes multiple times, but the sinner refused to listen and refused to submit to the authority of any church that would actually hold him accountable.

    I completely agree with Ministry Watchman’s detractors about the way that things should be handled. It’s very easy with our rose colored glasses to say, “The Bible says this is the way it’s supposed to happen, and obviously it’s not happening that say.” But it is absolute foolishness to then blame Ministry Watchman because the perpetrators refused to submit to Matthew 18, and in the case of Brad Phillips apparently he even threatened to sue Peter Hammond if Hammond said anything more about Phillips stealing the video.

    What the detractors of Ministry Watchman might as well be saying is, “Well that’s just too bad. Even if a wolf in sheep’s clothing starts ravaging the sheep, you still have to keep it private, just between the wolf and the sheep he’s eating. You have to comply with Matthew 18, and if the wolf evades Matthew 18 and refuses to submit, and if the wolf threatens even to sue you [like Doug Phillips did against the Epsteins] you just have to walk away and say, ‘Oh well, we tried. Guess that’s all we can do. I guess that wolf will just be free to continue ravaging more sheep and there’s not a thing we can do about it because he won’t submit to Matthew 18, or the authority of the church’.”

    Given such a climate it’s little wonder that there is a Ministry Watchman. I don’t believe that Ministry Watchman is the answer to the pathetic condition of the church, but I certainly don’t think it’s the problem either. The solution is obvious. The church of Jesus Christ must stop turning a blind eye to sin and must confront it. Until it does so, until Christians stop worshipping Christian celebrities and worship Jesus Christ alone, I seriously doubt that Ministry Watchman will be going away. In fact I predict that Ministry Watchman will just inspire more “Daniels” like them to start similar blogs.

    Again, I don’t think Ministry Watchman is the solution, but the critics are going to have to do much better at convincing me that they don’t serve a very important role in exposing the wolves in our midst.

  41. Hypocrisy Alert says:

    At any rate, once again “Ministry Watchman” has stepped into a case where they have no Biblical standing.

    And once again a Christian tyrant supporter makes no sense. If this view were taken seriously, it would preclude any and all Christian journalism that is critical in any way of Christian leaders or organizations. They, alone, are to be exempt from public scrutiny. How convenient for the Phillipses, the Sproul-Dicks, and their ilk.

    The response to those who make such silly claims is simple: By your own standard you have no standing to complain against Ministry Watchman or its writers. Unless your last name is Phillips, Sproul, Dick, etc. you have no standing because you have not been personally offended, in a biblical sense, by Ministry Watchman.

    This being so, the complainers have three options: (1) Be true to their convictions and stop complaining about the coverage, (2) Admit they have been wrong and acknowledge that public scrutiny of Christian public figures is okay after all, or (3) Keep insisting Ministry Watchman has no right to publish these stories and stand exposed to all as faithful followers of their hypocritical masters.

  42. Mark Epstein says:

    Curious

    I have just a few observations and comments concerning your latest anonymous post.

    You wrote: “Rather than insisting that others work through Biblical channels, they traffic in the…undiscernable accusations of those who hide behind pseudonyms (the ‘he said/she said’ story of Doug Phillips and the Epsteins).

    Your hubris apparently knows no depth nor height nor width. As you post anonymously, you simultaneously make the statement above, which is a prima facie example of not following the Epstein story or deliberately sowing blatant falsehoods. Ministry Watchman linked to my wife’s and my respective sites shortly after MW’s second post. This was done for two reasons: (1) To allow Jennifer to tell her story personally and (2) because Doug Phillips’ hate-filled supporters not only “outed” us on hastily constructed blogs, they revealed privileged communications to which they were not privy. Furthermore, there is no “he said/she said” about the story. Doug Phillips has failed to provide one scintilla of evidence in his defense, and my wife showed that even the BCA document posted on their hastily constructed website was rife with inaccuracies – based on BCA’s own documents they had written previously!

    Lastly, you wrote: “It seems to me that the best way to resolve such disputes is to do so in the manner prescribed by the Bible.

    I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps you can convince Doug Phillips to reach agreement with us and avail himself of biblical methodologies, while finally submitting to someone else in authority – something that he demands of others but does not practice himself.

    Mark Epstein

  43. Innocent Until Proven Guilty says:

    I suppose my biggest concern in this matter is – what ever happened to “Innocent Until Proven Guilty in a court of law?” It seems to me that those of you making these accusations have considered themselves judge, jury and executioner of Mr. Phillips. It is totally unbelievable that any of you would consider yourselves able to judge this man simply by an article that has been written on this website. If this truly was an incident that occurred, in the manner in which it has been reported above that it occurred (which I do not believe) then there should be no concern over whether or not someone might sue another. If it is indeed a concern of the author of this “report,” then it should be taken to authorities and charges so brought forth so that Mr. Phillips could have the benefit of an impartial judge and jury. Instead, on basis of heresay alone, you all have claimed this man guilty of crimes of which he has not been formally accused. If you are truly concerned about “justice” and not “revenge” then alert authorities if, indeed, there is any proof to your allegations. But to sit here, safely tucked behind a computer screen, and make accusations in order to destroy a man’s good name, all from heresay, is reprehensible. Either make formal accusations to have the matter resolved or you are engaging in nothing more than internet gossip and slander. But I would imagine this has not yet been done because no there is no “proof” to any of these allegations, just smoke and mirrors.

  44. Mark Epstein says:

    Innocent Until Proven Guilty:

    Before you shoot from the hip as you seem to be inferring others are doing (in a manner of speaking), I think you should read the posts carefully.

    I wrote the following comment on this site yesterday: “I think we all can table the fruit issue until after we weigh the evidence and we are able to make an objective determination based on the evidence.”

    Mark

  45. You’ve Gone Too Far says:

    To all,

    I appreciate the time you’ve taken to sift through my lengthly comments and respond. I agree that this is not a simple situation, and I think some fair objections have been raised about what I have said. I especially appreciate the objection that MW’s detractors haven’t provided any real answers or solutions to this mess.

    I would like to respond, though I’m a long-winded chap and I don’t want to suck up screen after screen of argumentation on a blog that isn’t mine. I will be spending the weekend ahead out of town, but I want to return with some answers, and I’ll post them in an appropriate forum when I am able.

    I have no reason to believe I have dealt with anybody that is not a brother or sister in Christ here. That being said, I’d like to look forward to my Sunday at peace with you all. Gossip and slander and murder included, I ask forgiveness where I have offended, and I praise my God that I’ll see you all at the Mount of Worship on His Sabbath. I am thankful that the Lord has given us a day of rest where our tongues may be used in praise of Him, and our disputes may be burnt into sweet smelling unity in His Spirit.

    Grace and Peace,
    Chris

  46. Innocent Until Proven Guilty says:

    With all due respect, Mark, you are not the only one to whom I was addressing those comments. There are several people who have commented on this blog who appear to be acting as “judge,” despite what you said in your earlier post yesterday. I HAVE been reading these posts since the beginning and to be truthful, I cannot believe that Christians, of all people, would be the first to accuse a man of something no one seems to be able to provide any proof for. I would be very wary of any person whom all of a sudden comes forward, without any substantial proof, during a seemingly convenient time, to state he has “dirty laundry” to air. I would think you all would hold this “reporter” under an intense level of scrutiny to make sure there was no “ulterior motive” on his part, and then verify and prove his story before you would actually make any acusations against an upstanding Christian missionary. In this country we have laws that protect innocent people from these types of accusations. That is why we all are “innocent until proven guilty.” When a person stands up and starts accusing another individual of items such as the above stated, you are infringing on those rights. At that point you (generically speaking) have crossed the line of free speech.

  47. Curious says:

    John Steinhausen writes:

    “I see a few problems with Ministry Watchman too. But that doesn’t mean that Ministry Watchman is the problem.”

    I didn’t suggest for one moment that “Ministry Watchman” is somehow responsible for the various misdeeds and sins committed by the Sprouls, the Dicks, and the Phillipses. But is it possible that “Ministry Watchman” and the anonymous individuals who are behind are guilty of misdeeds and sins themselves?

    “What it means is that there are wicked, corrupt men fleecing the flock that need to be exposed, disciplined and put out of the church so they can’t continue hurting Christ’s sheep. But is anyone really stupid enough to believe that wicked, corrupt men will voluntarily submit to the authority of the church to be disciplined? Of course wicked, corrupt man would never do any such thing.”

    An excellent and thought-provoking point and one which also applies to me, to you, to those behind “Ministry Watchman,” and to everyone else who posts here as well. Who will hold us accountable? Are we willing to submit to the authority of Scripture and to have our actions judged in the light of its clear proclamation about how disputes between brethren are to be resolved?

    “So what’s the solution? One thing’s for certain, none of Ministry Watchman’s critics have a solution of any kind.”

    I’ve already suggested one: That we trust God to judge His Church and those who profess to lead it. But this requires faith that the Biblical proclamation that the evildoer will not escape punishment is true. This requires us to rely on the convicting power of the omniscient Holy Spirit, rather than the persuasive power of depraved and sinful bloggers. And it also requires us to insist that those who want to hold others accountable for their actions — whether the Kistlers or the Epsteins or the Taylors or the Hammonds — loving and unceasingly pursue reconciliation with those professed believers whom they have alleged have sinned against them. Granted, it’s not an easy task, but it’s what God’s Word requires.

    “As far as I can tell they seem to believe that there aren’t wolves in our midst at all that need to be exposed.”

    No, as I’ve already written quite explicitly, I am thankful that these sordid details are coming to light. What concerns me is the manner in which they are being made public, as I don’t believe that Biblical procedures have been followed. I would be happy for someone like Ken Sande of Peacemakers to show me where my understanding of Biblical conflict resolution is in error, and how websites such as this one are justified. If that were to happen, I would be quick to retract this point. Until then, however, “the end does not justify the means.”

    “Those who attack Ministry Watchman appear to fall into one of several categories…”

    I’m not attacking “Ministry Watchman.” It’s strange that those who find fault (and rightly so) with ecclesiastical tyrants are quick to employ such a broad brush against anyone who suggests that this enterprise, however well-intentioned, falls short of the requirements of Scripture for how these types of situations are to be handled. Or are those who oppose the kind of arrogance demonstrated by the Dicks and the Sprouls taking your cues from them in how to treat others who ask legitimate and searching questions? Is anyone who is not totally 100% convinced that “Ministry Watchman” is the best thing since sliced bread your enemy?

    “Whether it be Ministry Watchman’s exposés of Ligonier Ministries, Doug Phillips, Brad Phillips, or whatever the story, the same complaints keep getting raised by Ministry Watchman’s critics…”

    And these same complaints are never met with any sound exegetical work that demonstrates how this website, or others like it, are Scripturally justified. Instead, anyone who raises a question is attacked as a defender of ecclesiastical tyrants.

    “Interestingly enough the same people who raise these objections didn’t seem to have any objections to Ligonier Ministries violating 1 Cor. 6 when they sued Frank Vance. What hypocrisy to be so selective about quoting the Bible!”

    I’ve already made plain my distaste for the actions of Ligonier — good grief, I wrote in my previous post that it was likely that the Dicks and the Spouls are not even Christians! How on earth can what I have written be perceived as defending them?

    “I completely agree with Ministry Watchman’s detractors about the way that things should be handled. It’s very easy with our rose colored glasses to say, ‘The Bible says this is the way it’s supposed to happen, and obviously it’s not happening that say.’ But it is absolute foolishness to then blame Ministry Watchman because the perpetrators refused to submit to Matthew 18, and in the case of Brad Phillips apparently he even threatened to sue Peter Hammond if Hammond said anything more about Phillips stealing the video.”

    Such relativism is truly shocking from a brother in Christ who professes a Reformed theology. The Bible gives us no “outs” when things do not go as we would like them to go — we are not relieved from fulfilling our Biblical responsibilities before God because the ecclesiastical tyrants are unwilling to repent of their sins. Until such time as there is an alternative exegesis offered of the relevant Scriptural materials which Ken Sande does such an outstanding job of explicating in “The Peacemakers,” I would humbly suggest that it is our task to obey God’s Word, not try to outsmart God and the Holy Spirit by coming up with some new way to expose evil and remove tyrants. Do we trust God to do as He says in Scripture or not?

    “I don’t believe that Ministry Watchman is the answer to the pathetic condition of the church, but I certainly don’t think it’s the problem either. The solution is obvious. The church of Jesus Christ must stop turning a blind eye to sin and must confront it. Until it does so, until Christians stop worshipping Christian celebrities and worship Jesus Christ alone…”

    I couldn’t agree more, brother! Amen! But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, again we are confronted with the requirements of Holy Scripture regarding sin in the covenant community! Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ MUST stop turning a blind eye to sin. Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ MUST confront sin. But we must also follow the clear and explicit dictates of the Bible in so doing.

  48. Curious says:

    “And once again a Christian tyrant supporter makes no sense.”

    The fact that you refer to me uncharitably as a “Christian tyrant supporter” demonstrates that you are not an open-minded individual, but a partisan. How anything I have written on this website could be construed as being supportive of ecclesiastical tyrants boggles the mind.

    “If this view were taken seriously, it would preclude any and all Christian journalism that is critical in any way of Christian leaders or organizations. They, alone, are to be exempt from public scrutiny. How convenient for the Phillipses, the Sproul-Dicks, and their ilk.”

    Reporting on allegations of improprieties is quite different from making allegations themselves. If “Christianity Today” or “World” were writing about these issues, the presentation of the issues in the articles would be quite different. I wish that both of these magazines, as well as others, would do a better job of not only reporting such allegations but investigating them. I realize that one of the reasons for “Ministry Watchman” is because of the vaccuum of this kind of reporting from our Christian media outlets.

    “The response to those who make such silly claims is simple: By your own standard you have no standing to complain against Ministry Watchman or its writers. Unless your last name is Phillips, Sproul, Dick, etc. you have no standing because you have not been personally offended, in a biblical sense, by Ministry Watchman.”

    Apples and oranges, friend. Pointing out that “Ministry Watchman” may be failing to follow Holy Scripture in its public presentation of the sins of others is altogether different from the serious allegations of severe misdeeds that appear upon its pages. I’ve not accused those behind “Ministry Watchman” of being swindlers (as in the Don Kistler case), accessories to spousal abuse (as in the Epstein-Phillips case), or thieves (as in the Phillips video cases) and partially contributing to innocent deaths (as in the Brad Phillips case).

    “This being so, the complainers have three options: (1) Be true to their convictions and stop complaining about the coverage, (2) Admit they have been wrong and acknowledge that public scrutiny of Christian public figures is okay after all, or (3) Stand exposed to all as faithful followers of their hypocritical masters.”

    (1) fails logically; (2) can only be true if an alternative exegesis of the relevant Biblical texts is offered, and (3) is more partisan propaganda. I speak for no one other than myself, but the only “dog” I have in this particular fight is “sola Scriptura.” If I can be shown from Scripture where I’m in error, I’ll immediately and publicly apologize to the Watchmen.

  49. Lynn says:

    Innocent until proven guilty:
    “Instead, on basis of heresay alone, you all have claimed this man guilty of crimes of which he has not been formally accused.”

    “All” of us??? Man, I thought I was the one who needed to read more carefully here, but you do as well. Here is something I wrote:

    “I tend to agree with what Hammond/Abshire said in the book as far as the confiscation and distribution of that video goes. I also have no problem concluding that it is Brad Phillips who did that. What I am wondering about is tracing the attacks in Sudan to the release of the video, and that is why I would like some specific dates.”

    I don’t know what Phillips is guilty of, if anything. I’m just saying I believe Hammond’s account of what happened up to the distribution of the video, and that even though no names were mentioned, Phillips is the man Hammond wrote about.

    The reason I am asking for a much more detailed timeline is because I don’t know whether to believe Hammond’s assertion that the release of the video played a part in those bombings and deaths.

    Be careful when you use the word “all.”

  50. Incredulous says:

    Mark said

    “Hmmmm, based on the overall “content” of your comments, you sound like a Phillips supporter. Are you the one who posted on Little Geneva’s Badlands site that “the only acceptable form of repentance for [Jen Epstein]….is suicide”?”

    To which I respond
    “Are you lying on purpose?”

    That comment as you well know was placed on Badlands by Badonicus himself, and that’s one person who can hardly be called a “Doug Phillips supporter”

    Talk about heights and depths….

  51. Trial Lawyer says:

    I suppose my biggest concern in this matter is – what ever happened to “Innocent Until Proven Guilty in a court of law?”

    Nothing happened to this standard. It still applies in a court of law. If the state were to press charges against Brad Phillips, this standard would apply. So far no charges and no application. In other words, trying to apply this standard to a blog article is to miss the point of the standard.

    It seems to me that those of you making these accusations have considered themselves judge, jury and executioner of Mr. Phillips.

    This sounds serious but means little. This is not a court of law, publishing an expose is not a trial, and deciding not to donate money any more to Persecution Project Foundation is hardly an “execution.” Your concerns would probably meet with more sympathy on this blog if you didn’t clothe them in such wildly inaccurate language.

    It is totally unbelievable that any of you would consider yourselves able to judge this man simply by an article that has been written on this website.

    Obviously, this is not going on for the vast majority of people who find the article credible. They are also considering the evidence independently of the article and, in many cases, doing their own research. You really should give people a little more credit. Just because you’ve formed your opinion after only reading this article doesn’t mean others have not dug more deeply.

    If this truly was an incident that occurred, in the manner in which it has been reported above that it occurred (which I do not believe) then there should be no concern over whether or not someone might sue another.

    To say this you must be blessed either with substantial family wealth or no personal experience with the legal system. Of course, people should be concerned about threats of legal action against them. A successful legal defense for something like this is ordinarily in the tens of thousands of dollars and could easily exceed $100,000. It would be folly to ignore this reality.

    Instead, on basis of heresay [sic] alone, you all have claimed this man guilty of crimes of which he has not been formally accused.

    Actually, much more than hearsay has been presented. Furthermore, both the article itself and most of those commenting on it avoid speculating about possible criminal implications. In fact, you’ve been harping on criminal possibilities far more than anyone else. Believe it or not, it is possible to take seriously the allegations in the article without assuming any criminal implications whatsoever.

    Either make formal accusations to have the matter resolved or you are engaging in nothing more than internet gossip and slander.

    Actually, the article does make formal accusations of specific misdeeds, so I have no clue what you’re talking about. If you mean formal, criminal accusations, well, that’s the job of a prosecutor in Brad Phillips’ home state (if he finds a law has been violated), not Ministry Watchman or Henry Barnes.

    By the way, truth is an absolute defense to a charge of slander. If what Mr. Barnes has written is true, it is not slander. And from my perspective, it looks very likely to be true. But who am I? Just a trial lawyer. I wouldn’t know anything about it, would I?

  52. Curious says:

    “Hmmmm, based on the overall ‘content’ of your comments, you sound like a Phillips supporter.”

    Considering the fact that I stated in my second post that it appears very likely that Doug Phillips was sinful in many ways regarding the “Raising the Allosaur” video, I can only conclude that you consider anyone who asks honest and legitimate questions “a Phillips supporter.”

    “Are you the one who posted on Little Geneva’s Badlands site that ‘the only acceptable form of repentance for [Jen Epstein]….is suicide’?”

    Absolutely not. I read that post, and it was written by “Bad,” the blogger who runs the (now under repair) site.

    “Yes, Curious, this is an actual quote, from an actual Doug Phillips supporter,…”

    Considering the fact that “Bad” was the first — as far as I’m aware — to report on the “Raising the Allosaur” controversy, I don’t understand how you possibly could write that he is “an actual Doug Phillips supporter.” He obviously had strong disagreements with some (admittedly sinful) choices your wife made in the past, but this does not mean that he supports Doug Phillips in any way, shape, or form. If the site was up, you could read his many posts that were extremely critical of Doug Phillips.

    “…on the site you now seem to point out that others ridicule, but do not say that you find the site distasteful.”

    You seem to be attempting to force me into the same kind of false choice that the Romans attempted with Martin Luther: Deny everything or nothing! I refuse to make that false choice. Like every internet site, including yours and this one, I find things on “Little Geneva” with which I agree, and other things I do not, and sometimes things that make me cringe.

    “Since you are obviously aware of Little Geneva’s presence on the internet, then I think my question to you is legitimate – did you post the hateful suicide comment on Badlands using another anonymous pseudonym or do you know the person who did?”

    I don’t know who “Bad” is, but I know that he’s the one who posted that comment.

    “Your hubris apparently knows no depth nor height nor width.”

    Ah, how good it is when brethren in Christ are charitable with one another, speaking the truth in love!

    “As you post anonymously, you simultaneously make the statement above, which is a prima facie example of not following the Epstein story or deliberately sowing blatant falsehoods.”

    With all due respect, Mr. Epstein, I don’t know who to believe in regards to your situation. As I wrote in my original post, to me it’s largely a “he-said/she-said” type of situation. I can understand your frustration with my writing that, but it’s all I can honestly say about it. There has been no independent attestation or confirmation of your allegations about the sins of Doug Phillips against you and your wife. All any interested and unbiased observer has to go on is your story versus the claims on the Boerne Christian Assembly website. For all I know, everything you say may very well be true, or vice versa; it is far more likely that there were misdeeds, mistakes, sins and stupidity on both sides. I honestly have no particular like or dislike for Doug Phillips, except that I think he was clearly wrong in the “Raising the Allosaur” situation.

    “Ministry Watchman linked to my wife’s and my respective sites shortly after MW’s second post. This was done for two reasons: (1) To allow Jennifer to tell her story personally and (2) because Doug Phillips’ hate-filled supporters not only ‘outed’ us on hastily constructed blogs, they revealed privileged communications to which they were not privy.”

    And yet you (perhaps snidely?) note that I am “anonymous” when you chose to use pseudonyms in “Ministry Watchman’s” original post. Physician, heal thyself!

    “Furthermore, there is no “he said/she said” about the story. Doug Phillips has failed to provide one scintilla of evidence in his defense,…”

    Michael Metzler of Pooh’s Think respectfully disagrees, and I do as well.

    “…and my wife showed that even the BCA document posted on their hastily constructed website was rife with inaccuracies – based on BCA’s own documents they had written previously!”

    And Phillips’ supporters claimed that the documents you provided to “Ministry Watchman” were doctored, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Again, you may be stating everything that happened exactly as it happened, but I can’t make an informed decision on the basis of charges and countercharges. I’m sorry that I can’t embrace your cause, but I don’t have enough convincing and independently attested evidence from others outside of your own family to allow me to do so logically and with intellectual honesty.

    “I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps you can convince Doug Phillips to reach agreement with us and avail himself of biblical methodologies, while finally submitting to someone else in authority – something that he demands of others but does not practice himself.”

    If I had any influence with Doug Phillips, I would do precisely that. However, he is not the first, and tragically, is hardly alone in demanding one standard of behavior of others while applying another totally different standard to himself. One of the consistent themes of posts on this site is the seeming shock and surprise expressed by Reformed Christians about the sinfulness of those in “leadership.” Have all of you forgotten the doctrine of total depravity? And, take heed lest you, too, fall…

  53. NB says:

    I have no reason to believe I have dealt with anybody that is not a brother or sister in Christ here.

    What a refreshing attitude! Quite the opposite of those who want to presume that Frank Vance or Henry Barnes must be pagans merely because, to avoid being hauled into court, they decline to produce a baptismal certificate on demand.

  54. Worth Repeating says:

    What the detractors of Ministry Watchman might as well be saying is, “Well that’s just too bad. Even if a wolf in sheep’s clothing starts ravaging the sheep, you still have to keep it private, just between the wolf and the sheep he’s eating. You have to comply with Matthew 18, and if the wolf evades Matthew 18 and refuses to submit, and if the wolf threatens even to sue you [like Doug Phillips did against the Epsteins] you just have to walk away and say, ‘Oh well, we tried. Guess that’s all we can do. I guess that wolf will just be free to continue ravaging more sheep and there’s not a thing we can do about it because he won’t submit to Matthew 18, or the authority of the church’.”

  55. praying and thinking says:

    To John Steinhausen after your comment December 30: Mister, you said the truth. Thank you for posting that. That was valuable.

  56. sad says:

    What is really sad to me is the fact that a video DID circulate and our brothers and sisters in the Sudan suffered and many died as a result. Our family lived and worked for more than 5 years in Central Asia in places where we had to be extremely careful about security. Short-term groups would come in – snapping photos and making videos and we would always pray that they would be wise in their use. We weren’t that afraid for ourselves. Frankly, because we were Americans, the worst that would probably happen to us would be a quick trip to the airport and deportation (avoidance of an international incident for the country we were in). And in fact that did happen in one country. But honestly, that is just inconvenience for us. It is the people we leave behind who suffer. They are the ones who face losing jobs, homes, family, their lives. They are the ones who suffer physical beatings and imprisonment. Even now we do not reveal what we were doing those five years because of the real danger to those who could be linked to us.

    I’m sure there will be some of you who might think this is all just something to stir emotions. If you do, please get in touch with ANY mission agency who has work in the “10-40 window” or “World A” or the Middle East or Central Asia or East Asia or any Muslim country and they’ll confirm the above general details.

    This is what is very sad. Whether Mr. Phillips stole the video, borrowed the video or merely in ignorance saw that it was released without editing -it is shameful and sad. And to try and send us all after red herrings to take the heat off of him leaves me speechless (almost). Whatever justice is dealt out in this lifetime will not even begin to compare to what God will take care of. Precious in His eyes are the deaths of His saints – praise God!

  57. Joe Taylor says:

    I heard this same basic story about Brad and his film on Sudan some three years ago. It was not stated to me at the time that people had been killed as a result of Brad Phillip’s releasing it. The person telling the story had done political support for Howard Phillips and had they not been of such high reputation I would not have thought much about it. However their credibility and reputation was such that I tried to contact Mr. Matriciana with no success and assumed that he was no longer in the business. I did wonder why Matriciana did not do more to retrieve his film. To be honest, I thought that Phillips had taken his own film crew and released his own version. According to this writer, that was not the case. Whether the writer is telling the truth or not is one matter but if I were Brad Phillips, I would make an immediate reply and set the matter straight. These allegations are too serious to be ignored. My own difficulties with his brother Doug do not give me the right to assume anything about Brad. Therefore, since, my situation with Doug has been made public, I do not want anyone to assume that I automatically agree with criticism about Brad. In fact I am probably compelled to try and go the extra mile to see that Brad is not falsely judged. So I will try again to contact Mr. Matriciana as well as Brad Phillips and if I can figure out who the evangelist is I will try to contact him as well. If Brad, Mr. Matriciana, or the evangelist reads this and wishes to contact me or if anyone knows a current contact information, and would, please E-mail to Joe Taylor mtblanco1@aol.com
    Joe Taylor

  58. Heather says:

    “The war in Sudan is over. They’ve signed a peace treaty. The video doesn’t serve a purpose anymore.”

    I don’t know very much about what’s going on in Sudan but I have read some about the genocide there. Even the secular press has reported on it, and it’s occasionally mentioned on CNN and FOX. I’ve even heard some reports just this week of the ongoing killings there by the Muslim government. So I knew right away when you quoted that Persecution Project employee saying that the problems in Sudan were over that there had to be some big problems with that organization. Today I just read this in the Dec. 30 edition of World Magazine [Wars And Rumors Of Wars],

    “Equally unending but more catastrophic: continued fighting in Darfur, the western region of Sudan where 350,000 have died and 2 million have lost homes since fighting between rebels and government-supported militias began in 2003. A landmark peace agreement in May, followed by a UN resolution in August calling for an international peacekeeping force, have done little to ease suffering. Government-backed fighters as recently as Dec. 9 attacked a Swiss relief agency truck carrying passengers and medical supplies, killing 37, including four teachers, six women, and four children.”

    I’ve never heard of a mission organization telling such lies, and stupid lies at that. Do they really think they can get away with this?

  59. Always Batya says:

    Chris wrote: “I have no reason to believe I have dealt with anybody that is not a brother or sister in Christ here.”

    Your words are kinder than I deserve. I want to ask forgiveness for those I have responded to in harshness and sarcasm. I have been convicted of this last night. I crave truth in all matters but not at the expense of my own soul.

    John S. expressed my own thoughts but with class and grace.

    Blessings to all.

  60. Curious says:

    Mr. Epstein, you asked me earlier in this thread if I was the author of the comment about your wife over at “Little Geneva.” I noted that I was not, and do not know the identity of “Bad,” who posted it. Perhaps your wife could inquire with Harry Seabrook, the blogger who runs that site, as it appears she is on a first-name basis with him:

    “Harry, I just think you are jealous of my numbers and by linking to my blog, you think you might increase your own readership!

    “I thought I must be superwoman after reading Matt’s analysis of how I spend my time, but that’s nothing compared to what you’re attributing to me now! Can you just imagine how many hours of work Matt Chancey put into his wild conjecturing? Yes, I now run my old blog, my new blog, Ministry Watchman, and MrsBinoculars, all of which put out frequent, LENGTHY articles. I am so good I amaze myself! Oh, yes, I almost forgot all the comments I leave all over the web as well.

    “Love the Don King pic!”

    http://littlegeneva.com/?p=493#comments

    Perhaps you should confront your wife the same comment you made to me: “Yes,…this is an actual quote, from an actual Doug Phillips supporter, on the site you now seem to point out that others ridicule, but do not say that you find the site distasteful. Since you are obviously aware of Little Geneva’s presence on the internet,…”

    Do you or your wife “find the site distasteful”? She apparently thought a picture of Don King side-by-side with a monkey was enjoyable. Some people might think such a picture was “racist.”

  61. Keith Crosby says:

    I just came over this information as it was emailed to me at my office. I’m astounded by what I’ve read thus far.

    My question, from a biblical perspective, is where are the un-named sources in the Matthew 18 process (and how far did you go)?

    Matthew 18:15-17 15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

    As for the use of “un-named sources”… this would seem to be something the mainstreem media does when it wants to slander.

    1 Timothy 5:19-20 9 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.

    I can see going public at some point. However, I’m wondering if you can detail for the “weaker brothers (Romans 14)” the painstaking private confrontation process Scripture has mandated that accusers have followed prior to taking the matter public–Matthew 18; 1 Tim. 5 (you know… names dates times places).

    This would be helpful for me and others. It would also go a long way in avoiding well intended Christians from acting in a way that causes the pagans to blaspheme.

  62. TheIronHare says:

    How about “negligent homicide” instead of murder? Although, in the Bible, if a man had an ox he *knew* was a danger as far as goring people and he didn’t take proper action to ensure the safety of others, wasn’t he subject to the death penalty if someone was killed by that ox? I’m pretty sure I’m remembering correctly. I don’t have time to look it up at this time and there could certainly be relevant detail which I wish I knew off the top off my head. I’d be glad for any corrections before I have the chance to do so myself.

    In any case, putting out the uneditted video resulted in the deaths of many believers. What compelled him to do so? If the story is accurate, sheer greed could be the answer and that certainly wouldn’t *lessen* guilt, would it? If BP put out the uneditted video despite being warned of the potential results, he is certainly guilty of something very close to murder at the very least in my opinion. – Dennis

  63. Mark Epstein says:

    Iron Hare,

    You are referencing Exodus 21:29 (see below for context).

    “If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.

    But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.

    If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.” Exodus 21:28-30

    Mark

  64. Mark Epstein says:

    Heather,

    Regarding your question, I did a quick search this evening on the Sudan. You can read what I found in the space of 15 minutes in a post titled, “Sudan: So Where’s the ‘Peace Dividend’”?

    Mark

  65. Interesting says:

    Well, it looks like VF has responded to the Allosaur issue.

    http://www.visionforum.com/about/issues/al/

  66. TheIronHare says:

    Thanks Mark Epstein! The ransom part obviously wasn’t automatic so it remains that one could be executed for criminal negligence resulting in the death of human being. Unless the human being was a slave in which case a set amount of 30 shekels of silver was the fine paid to the slaves master. And the ox would be stoned to death. (Ex 21:32) I’m sure God had a perfectly good reason for that part so it won’t freak me out. – Dennis

  67. [...] After reading the latest article on Ministry Watchman in regard to the alleged stolen Sudan video, and then reading this comment from Croc, I decided to lookup the Form 990 for Persecution Project Foundation to see if anything about Matthew Chancey would stand out. Persecution Project Foundation is the ministry of Brad Phillips, who is Doug Phillip’s brother. [...]

  68. [...] After reading the latest article on Ministry Watchman in regard to the alleged stolen Sudan video, and then reading this comment from Croc, I decided to lookup the Form 990 for Persecution Project Foundation to see if anything about Matthew Chancey would stand out. Persecution Project Foundation is the ministry of Brad Phillips, who is Doug Phillip’s brother. [...]

  69. Gordon Olms says:

    “I make it public because you made your version of the Sudan video public, and I would welcome a public reply.” Mr. Barnes, in reading your article I must confess to sharing a similar discomfort with some of the other commenters here. Wouldn’t it have been much better if this could somehow have all been resolved privately? Perhaps circumstances and the character of the individuals named just wouldn’t permit that though? If what you say about Brad Phillips is true then there probably wouldn’t be any means of a private resolution and taking this all public might have been your only recourse?

    Have you ever received any kind of reply about any of these serious allegations from Brad Phillips or from anybody else at Persecution Project? If Brad Phillips and Persecution Project haven’t bothered to respond with any denials then it would tend to lend strong credibility that your story is not only truthful and factual but it must also be quite accurate in the details. I would think if your story were false or misleading that Mr. Phillips wouldn’t hesitate to say so.

    It sounds like Persecution Project should be renamed Pretender Project. Who would have ever dreamed that you could rake in big money as a fake missionary? This gives con artists and professional imposters something new to think about (it all reminds me of the movie Catch Me If You Can). So there can be big money in pretending to be a missionary? It must all be in how well you market yourself. Having a good marketing consultant behind you must make all the difference. Here’s a photo of Brad Phillips’ marketing consultant and Persecution Project board member, Matt Chancey out promoting The Persecution Project.

    http://www.highlandsstudycenter.org/images/SAICFF/sa5b.jpg Care to guess where Chancey is as he’s preying on gullible Christians? He’s at another Phillips family event that Ministry Watchman appears to have reason to believe is just another scam, Doug Phillips’ San Antonio Indepedent Christian Film Festival.

  70. Henry Barnes says:

    Gordon, I wasn’t especially “comfortable” with having to expose Brad Phillips either. No one who has ever investigated and written a story for Ministry Watchman was ever comfortable about it or took delight in it. We haven’t exactly made many friends doing this. If you’re only interested in personal comfort you run a blog that will win you popularity contests, say like Tim Challies.

    “Wouldn’t it have been much better if this could somehow have all been resolved privately?” Yes, and I attempted to do just that. I was warned in advance that Phillips would stonewall, and that he would use his staff to hide behind. I was also warned that if I continued to press it with him he’d threaten to sue. Sounds a lot like the way brother Doug operates, doesn’t it? It didn’t take long for the predictions of stonewalling to prove true. Just one call to Persecution Project and I immediately heard nothing but bogus excuses from a man who refused to furnish his name and position, and he wouldn’t let me talk to anyone else either.

    Setting aside for the moment my own genuine efforts to resolve it first privately with Brad Phillips or anyone else at Persecution Project, not to mention the efforts of Pat Matrisciana, Peter Hammond, and other men who diligently sought to do so for years before this all came to my attention, not all sins are inherently private in nature. Therefore not all sins call for a Matthew 18 rebuke. Certainly there are cases mentioned right in the bible where even the apostles themselves completely bypassed Matthew 18 (example, Paul publicly rebukes Peter at Antioch, Gal 2:11-21). Some sins are inherently public sins, and this is one of them. It doesn’t get any more public than a publicly marketed video that was released in such a way that it cost the lives of many Christian brethren.

    Frankly I find the Matthew 18 Police to be out to lunch on this one. But then they’ve been out to lunch every time they’ve whipped out Matthew 18 to condemn any Ministry Watchman articles. Nevertheless I did make a genuine effort to resolve it privately with Brad Phillips, or anyone else at Persecution Project, who would agree to speak with me. Instead of engaging in meaningful dialogue I just heard a snowjob.

    “Have you ever received any kind of reply about any of these serious allegations from Brad Phillips or from anybody else at Persecution Project?” None whatsoever. Like you, I believe the silence communicates something very significant.

  71. Free Sudan! says:

    I’m a former Persecution Project supporter. After discovering this extremely disturbing story late last year I was too shocked to believe it. So I called the Persecution Project office and asked them about. I got pretty much the same song and dance that you got Mr. Barnes. It took me a little while but I eventually began to be able to admit to myself that their evasions could only mean one thing. Your story must be true. I continue to support missionaries in Sudan. I believe this is one of the most important missions causes in the world. I won’t help to just line the pockets of a crook like Brad Phillips though. I think that any other Persecution Project donors should contact Brad Phillips about these serious allegations and try to get to the bottom of this. No simple wave of the hand or “It’s all just a big misunderstanding” should satisfy anyone. Be forewarned though. That’s exactly what they did to me when I called and asked about it. They won’t be getting any more of my support unless they decide to come clean. It bothers me that more people don’t seem to be aware of this. I think I’ll post some comments on some other blogs to help you all get the word out.

  72. Lou Bretton says:

    I’ve read Peter Hammond and Brian Abshire’s book. I highly recommend it. This is all so much worse than what they revealed in their book. I’m totally shocked, but I’d still rather know this than be ignorant of a wolf in lambs clothing. It reveals a troubling pattern of exactly what Hammond and Abshire speak of with missionaries and ministers who are more concerned about making a name for themselves than just serving the Lord’s people humbly.

    I found an interesting quote in a 2001 Religion Today article, “Sudan’s Holy War: A Call to Action”. In it they interview Brad Phillips. In it Phillips takes full credit for himself and “the late David Drye” as being the “co-producers” of Sudan The Hidden Holocaust. No mention at all is made of Peter Hammond, Pat Matrisciana or Jeremiah Films. This quote does tend to show that Brad Phillips is greedy for personal glory.

    “More than 2 million evangelical Christians are standing firm in this radical Islamic nation,” the late David Drye, who co-produced “The Hidden Holocaust” said on the video. Phillips and Drye traveled to Sudan in 1998 to produce the documentary. They decided to focus on Sudan, says Phillips, because Drye had shared with him “that is where Christians are actually being crucified and sold into slavery because of their faith in Jesus Christ.” http://www.rim.org/muslim/Sudan2.htm

    So when Brad Phillips shares credit he only shares it with a man who passed away?

    I wanted to find out more about Persecution Project’s financials so here’s something that might be helpful. Persecution Project’s 2000-2006 tax returns are at http://www.eri-nonprofit-salaries.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=NPO.Form990&EIN=541976312

    If anyone who knows how to read these things might be able to comment about any interesting info they find in them I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

    BTW there’s a YouTube trailer of Sudan The Hidden Holocaust at http://youtube.com/watch?v=_eIcZBrUr60 that was uploaded by Caryl Matrisciana.
    Lou

  73. Paul says:

    Ministry Watchman or Ministry Witchhunt? This page is full of slander & gossip. Guilty until proven innocent? This is a problem that should have been kept between the offender and the offendee with prayer and many attempts at reconciliation. As for most of the rest of us, I say us, because I am guilty too…Pro 26:17 “Like one who takes a dog by the ears Is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him.”

  74. Henry Barnes says:

    Curious said,

    By the way, one of the co-authors of the “Character Assassins” book, the Rev. Brian Abshire, has been accused of his own ecclesiastical problems in this essay by David Eyre, “How Could This Happen in the PCA”?

    http://www.batteredsheep.com/pca.html

    (Abshire is not identified by name, only by his initials, “B.A.” However, I know of no one else who fits the description given by Mr. Eyre in his essay).

    That’s rather conclusory, wouldn’t you say? You make an assumption (and that’s all it is) that a man who is only identified by his initials must be Brian Abshire because “I know of no one else who fits the description”. Are you telling us that, during the years that this article is being referenced that there was only one pastor in the PCA with the initials B.A.?

    I could ask many other related questions, but frankly I find your assumptions to be just that — assumptions. But based on nothing but assumptions you go on to say,

    However, as the article I linked above notes, even his co-author, Brian Abshire, has been accused of ecclesiastical misdeeds on another website.

    To the best of my knowledge Brian Abshire has never “been accused of ecclesiastical misdeeds”. Can you provide something a little stronger than mere speculations to make your case?

  75. […] Anyone who knew Howard Phillips knows that Doug Phillips fell very far from the tree (as did Brad Phillips). Children can be a direct reflection of their parents, but quite often that’s not the case […]

  76. […] betrayed daughters do sometimes tend to get ugly. An extended time cooling his heels in Africa with missionary brother Brad Phillips would give the wife and kids some time for healing. It could also afford Doug the opportunity of […]

  77. […] strategy includes moving the family to some obscure place, in some obscure country (like Kenya with Brad, or maybe Peru), out of the public eye, where Doug is no longer subject to scrutiny, and Beall is […]


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