Does Patriarchy Produce Ecclesiastical Tyrants?

“It’s not that any of them are inherently opposed to church discipline. No, in fact they love church discipline, so long as it’s them that are wielding it. Tyranny loves company and bullies love other bullies (it’s for good reason that Hilter and Mussolini were pals).” Christian Leaders Ignore Sin (When It’s Advantageous), by Henry Barnes

One of the hottest blogs right now is “Jen’s Gems; Exposing Doug Phillips’ Ecclesiastical Tyrannies.” I don’t mean that Jen Epstein’s blog is hot just in Christian circles. I mean her blog is hot in cyberspace in general. Jen’s blog has gone from obscurity to being listed several times now on the WordPress Blogs Of The Day. May 2nd found her listed #89 out of over 900,000 WordPress blogs! And that was a low point. She’s been as high as #26! The number of comments she’s getting on some of her articles also boggles the mind. For example, her article “Vision Forum: Culture of Deception by Doug Phillips’ Example?” currently has 560 comments! Surely that’s got to be some kind of new blog record!

All the commotion over Jen’s blog has helped to shed some light on some other things beyond just Doug Phillips and his tyranny. In order to better understand Doug Phillips’ ecclesiastical tyranny, and why he refuses to repent of it, it might be helpful to examine some of Phillips’ values and beliefs, especially where any of those values and beliefs are the very thing that may be motivating and justifying (in his mind) his tyranny. For example, there’s the doctrine of “Patriarchy.”

Doug Phillips RC Sproul Jr patriarchyDoug Phillips is a prominent leader of the “Patriarchy” movement. So is RC Sproul Jr. Phillips and Sproul teamed up with the publisher of Patriarch magazine, Phil Lancaster, to produce The Tenets Of Biblical Patriarchy. Though “The Tenets” contain numerous Scripture references, a careful read of those references will in some cases show that those verses do not make their case at all. While there may be some desirable aspects to Patriarchy, given the dubious character of the authors of “The Tenets,” we might want to proceed with great caution.

Both Phillips and Sproul are ecclesiastical tyrants. Sproul was defrocked over it (and some other things too). Phillips can’t be defrocked because he’s never been frocked in the first place (he’s a self-appointed non-ordained “pastor” accountable to no one). Phillips and Sproul are apparently very close friends. Doug Phillips says of RC Sproul Jr, “My heart beats to the same drum.” I’m not surprised to hear it.

Patriarchy is starting to find itself more and more under the microscope, and Doug Phillips’ unjust excommunication and shunning of the Epstein family is a major reason for it. Some folks are assuming that there must be a direct cause/effect between Patriarchy and ecclesiastical abuse. I haven’t yet reached a firm conclusion on this, but I do have some thoughts that I’d like to share that I hope will stimulate some productive discussion here.

A number of people have alleged that Patriarchy is inherently a misogynistic extrabiblical belief system that subjugates women and children to autocratic men. If that were true then the potential for abuse would be high and perhaps even commonplace.

It seems logically consistent that autocratic and authoritarian men may not be content to rule merely over their own homes. They would seek to rule over other people as well. As the scope of such a man’s “authority” increased, and particularly where he actively sought out additional positions of authority, the opportunity for his abuses would grow exponentially.

The office of Pastor would be an ideal position for such a man to seek out. The office of Pastor is a position of trust, and it also carries an inherent authority. The Bible has much to say on the qualifications of pastors and elders (1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5) and how they are to govern the church of Jesus Christ as His under-shepherds. They are to be servant-leaders, compassionate, caring, and edifying. But because of sin there will always be exceptions, and sometimes bad men will seek to become pastors who have no business being pastors.

God has ordained that we have pastors. Therefore, the office of Pastor does not create bad men. Usually the opposite is the case. Many less than exemplary men have become pastors, and they have soon discovered that the demands and responsibilities of the office compel them to completely change their lives, and for the good. Either that or they soon realize they lack the qualifications and they leave the pastorate for good.

This isn’t to say though that bad men aren’t occasionally tempted to become pastors. However, they were bad men before they became pastors. They sought out the office of Pastor not because of God’s calling, or because of a desire to humbly serve and minister, but because they crave the personal attention and “authority” that comes with being a pastor. It wasn’t the office of Pastor that corrupted their character; they were corrupt long before they became pastors.

I’m currently unable to say the same thing of Patriarchy. I’m concerned that Patriarchy has great potential for taking otherwise good men and making something bad out of them. Again, I’m not decided on that issue, and I welcome more discussion here. However, one thing I am decided on though is that the influence of Patriarchy is the worst possible thing for a man to get involved with when he already has problems with loving his wife and kids, anger management, etc., or if he already has a tendency to govern his home as a dictator. Entrusting an angry man to be a “Patriarch” is like entrusting rebellious teenage boys with whiskey and the car keys.

I can’t think of a more ego-gratifying position for an autocrat like Doug Phillips to seek out, for the purpose of expanding his “dominion,” and the number of people that he can dominate and abuse, than the office of Pastor. Who appointed, who anointed, who commissioned, who ordained Doug Phillips to the office of Pastor? Doug Phillips did. Doug Phillips is an “authority” unto himself. When you add “the tenets” of Patriarchy to that kind of mix you’ve got the makings for a very volatile situation.

Over on Jen’s Gems, Esther posted an interesting comment, and then she asked a question which got me thinking:

Esther Says:
April 28th, 2007 at 12:16 pm
Mark, what I do not understand is the glaring hypocrisy for anyone with eyes to see.

Doug Phillips had no problem with the RC Sproul, Jr. defrocking. Like Sproul, Sr, he ignored church authority and held teaching a teaching conference with Jr. soon after the defrocking.

Yet, you and Jen are excommunicated and shunned for not repenting but are not told your offense that you must repent?

It really does boil down to Doug Phillips’ opinion…not scripture.

Folks, if that is not a cult, I don’t know what is.

Since I do not come from patriarchal type circles, I was wondering if it is normal to ’shun’ children in these situations?

Esther asked an important question that really needs to be addressed. I don’t come from a patriarchal background either, so I’m probably not the best one to answer her question. However, one thing I do know is that it’s not the first time shunning entire families for the alleged sins of the parents has been perpetrated by a prominent figurehead in the Patriarchy movement. The unjust excommunication and shunning of the Austin family by RC Sproul Jr is another recent example of a prominent Patriarchy leader who’s shown his penchant for being an ecclesiastical thug. Apparently Sproul’s thuggery was a major factor in why he and his entire session of elders were defrocked:

Another significant factor in the deposing of the St. Peter Session is the ecclesiastical tyrannies they perpetrated against several families over several years. Noteworthy among these is the John Austin family because it was the first that had been documented, and the first which had petitioned to Presbytery for redress.

On April 17, 2005 John Austin sent a letter to the Elders of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, informing them that he was withdrawing his membership at St. Peter over doctrinal disagreements, and that he would be seeking out another church in the area more in accord with his Reformed Baptist views. In his letter he stated, “We in no way want to cause problems or divisiveness,” and for his desire to be at peace with the brethren:


On May 14, 2005 the Session of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to censure John Austin “for contumacy (failure to repent) by breaking his vows of membership.” John’s punishment included, “The refraining from all contact with your family by the other families in our church.” In other words, the congregation of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church was ordered to shun the entire Austin family, including the Austin’s five children:


The incident with the Austins is an obvious example of an ecclesiastically abusive church. But it might also be fair to refer to St. Peter as a “Patriarchy Church” since its head [defrocked] pastor is a prominent leader in the Patriarchy movement. Are Patriarchy leaders more prone than other pastors to engage in unjust church discipline? There does appear to be a pattern to indicate so.

The Austin family excommunication and shunning sparked debate about the nature of church membership. Doug Phillips had this to say:

Biblically leaving a local church involves transferring covenant duties and privileges from one local body to another. It does not involve breaking a covenant.

To put it another way, the believer’s covenant with the local church can be transferred to another Christ-honoring local church, but it cannot be “resigned,” abandoned, or simply disregarded without the professing believer becoming a covenant-breaker.

But what happens when the pastor refuses to permit a church member to “be transferred to another Christ-honoring local church”? And how can you even have an opportunity to be transferred if your pastor won’t allow you to even check out any of the other local churches so you can figure out which one you’d like to transfer too?

Just how far does a pastor’s authority legitimately extend? Can he actually prohibit you from leaving his church, even when you have just cause for wanting to leave? And if you leave anyway does he really have the spiritual authority and the biblical support to “excommunicate” you, such is in the Austin case, thereby putting you outside the visible church and cutting you off from the grace of God? The RPCGA completely disagreed with RC Sproul Jr about his “excommunication” of the Austins, and he wound up being taken to the woodshed for it.

As the Austin family found out, even though they did their best to leave St. Peter Presbyerian Church “honorably,” and even though they did nothing in violation of the church’s Book Of Church Order, it still wasn’t good enough for RC Sproul Jr and his session of ecclesiastical bullies. The Austins were unjustly excommunicated, and Sproul ordered the St. Peter congregation to shun them, and that included even the Austin children. Punishing entire families by shunning, including even small children, for the alleged “sins” of their parents, is an extremely cruel and wicked thing to do. Punishing children for the sins of their parents is also expressly prohibited by Scripture:

The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. Ezek. 18:20

What was done to the Austin family bears striking resemblance to what was done to the Epsteins. In the name of “church discipline” Doug Phillips abused the Epstein family, the entire family, in much the same way as Sproul abused the Austin family. If ever there could be an act that a pastor could commit that carries with it the risk for causing children to stumble and lose their faith, it would be to punish them for the sins (real or imagined) of their parents. RC Sproul Jr, Doug Phillips, and other Patriarch leaders of their ilk, should take the frightening ramifications of Matthew 18:6 to heart.

Even a pagan knows how unjust it is to punish the children for the sins of their parents. Even cults that are renowned for shunning, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, don’t shun entire families. When it comes to church discipline, these two “Patriarchs” are guilty of perpetrating more injustice and wickedness than any JW pastor ever has. This isn’t to say that a JW pastor wouldn’t be capable of doing the same thing. But even JW pastors have some accountability that prevents them from getting away with it. Sproul was disciplined for his abuses by the Presbyterian denomination that he was ordained by. Doug Phillips hasn’t been disciplined for his tyrannies because he’s not ordained by anyone, and not accountable to any ecclesiastical authority. Doug Phillips is a law unto himself.

Ecclesiastical thugs are prone to defend and support other ecclesiastical thugs. That’s why Doug Phillips continued supporting RC Sproul Jr after he’d been subjected to the severe church discipline of being defrocked. Phillips demands that all churches honor the “church discipline” that he meted out against the Epsteins, without so much as even being permitted to question him about it. But why should anyone honor Doug Phillips’ church discipline when he openly defies the church discipline that was meted out against RC Sproul Jr? Doug Phillips’ hypocrisy should surprise no one. Ecclesiastical thugs demand respect and honor, but they only give respect and honor to others when it advances their personal agenda. To quote Esther again:

“Doug Phillips had no problem with the Sproul, Jr. defrocking. Like Sproul, Sr, he ignored church authority and held teaching a teaching conference with Jr. soon after the defrocking.”

Only several weeks after RC Sproul Jr’s defrocking, Doug Phillips and his father Howard Phillips spoke at a conference hosted by RC Sproul Jr’s Highlands Study Center, an event directly affiliated with St. Peter Presbyterian Church, the church that Sproul continued pastoring, even though he’d been defrocked. Hypocrisy was manifested in full force by the very title of the conference, Generations Conference, Giving Honor To Whom Honor Is Due.

RC Sproul Jr - Doug Phillips Honor Conference

By speaking at that conference, Doug Phillips sent a message loud and clear. By speaking at a conference on “honor” with the newly defrocked RC Sproul Jr, Doug Phillips thumbed his nose at the Presbyterian denomination that had disciplined his pal. But defiance of church authority isn’t the whole of it. As others have already pointed out, RC Sproul Jr had just suffered the military equivalent of being court martialed, found guilty, and receiving a dishonorable discharge. Then he has the nerve to host a conference on “Honor”? The magnitude of this hypocrisy just boggles the mind!

For anyone who’s read the RPCGA’s Declaratory Judgment they shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out exactly why the Saint Peter elders were defrocked. The list of charges was very detailed and specific, and apparently there was a lot of evidence to support the charges. Not only that but Sproul even confessed, effectively pleading “Guilty as charged.” Sproul received due process according to the well documented disciplinary procedures of the RPCGA’s Book Of Church Order. Sproul had sworn an oath to obey that BCO, and to be held accountable to it.

There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that RC Sproul Jr received justice. But oddly enough there is some defiance of the RPCGA’s discipline, at least among a few of Sproul’s fellow Patriarchal ecclesiastical buddies. Aside from Doug Phillips, there is also Doug Wilson. It may not just be a coincidence that Doug Wilson is another prominent Patriarchy leader. Not long after being defrocked, Sproul was welcomed by Doug Wilson into his Confederation Of Reformed Evangelical Churches, a place where other defrocked ministers have also been warmly welcomed. Sproul is “considered ordained in the CREC,” even though he’s defrocked. Go figure. The CREC supposedly has some rules and even makes their ministers swear vows to obey the rules, just like real denominations do. But Doug Wilson appears to be a lot like RC Sproul Jr, in that neither one of them believe the rules actually apply to themselves.

Not that I’m in any way surprised that Doug Wilson has broken his vows to obey the CREC’s Constitution. In fact vow breaking is entirely consistent with how Wilson operates, and he’s very comfortable welcoming into the ranks of the CREC fellow vow breaking ministers who play fast and loose with the rules, including even the defrocked. Witness RC Sproul Jr.

Men of Doug Wilson’s ilk when given any authority at all will always attempt to seize more authority, whether their constitution that they have sworn to obey grants them that authority or not. Doug Wilson, Church Splitter

The disciplinary case against the Epsteins is in stark contrast to the Sproul case. According to the Epsteins, and the primary source documents they posted that back up their story, they were tried in absentia, without any due process, according to procedures that Doug Phillips fabricated out of thin air. The list of charges were vague and unspecific. No evidence was presented. No witnesses were called. The Epsteins weren’t permitted to cross-examine their accuser. The Epsteins pleaded, “Not guilty” and have continued pleading “Not guilty” ever since. The Epsteins have called their “church trial” a “Kangaroo Court” and a “Star Chamber.”

In spite of the sham justice that Doug Phillips meted out against the Epsteins, he demands that all other churches respect his “church discipline.” Yet Phillips has shown no respect toward the church discipline of the RPCGA, a discipline that even he apparently can find no fault with, or at least any fault that he’s willing to make a public statement about. Yet he, just like Doug Wilson, has continued treating RC Sproul Jr as though he’d never been disciplined at all. Yet these Patriarchal ecclesiastics expect and demand that others honor the church discipline that they mete out, even though their own form of church discipline breaks every rule in the book.

Returning now to my original question, “Does Patriarchy Produce Ecclesiastical Tyrants?” Is it Patriarchy that turned men like Doug Phillips and RC Sproul Jr into tyrants, or were they tyrants and bullies all along? Probably the only people who could answer that with some measure of certainty are those who have known these men long enough to know what they were like before they became Patriarchs.

What about at the grass roots level of the Patriarchy movement? Are there a lot of bad Patriarch husbands and fathers? My personal exposure to Patriarchy is somewhat limited, and the only Patriarchs that I personally have known appear to be fine brothers in Christ who treat their wives and children well. They’re true servant-leaders and they’re very biblically minded men. There are probably many godly men involved in the Patriarchy movement who would never be abusive toward their families or anyone else.

Patriarchy, or at least the biblical aspects of Patriarchy (and yes, I believe there are some), has the potential to motivate men to become strong and active leaders in the home, the very sort of thing that many wives often desire that their husbands would be. Weak and ineffective male leadership in the home is an all too common problem and valid complaint among many wives. Someone may yet be able to convince me otherwise, but at least at the grass roots level I don’t think Patriarchy is much of a problem, and there may be many husbands and fathers that have benefited from it. If there is a problem with Patriarchy, the problem is with Patriarchy leaders like Doug Phillips.

The more I look into Patriarchy the more I’m convinced that men like Doug Phillips are giving a movement that has a lot of good potential a bad name. So we should really label them “Hyper-Patriarchs.” Just like so many other extremists, Doug Phillips appears to be hyper about a lot of things, including church discipline. The leadership of the Patriarchy movement are practicing an extremist and extrabiblical form of Patriarchy. Where his Patriarchy touches the church it becomes ecclesiastical tyranny. The church of Jesus Christ needs loving and compassionate discipline, not ecclesiastical tyrants that masquerade as pastors and shepherds. Doug Phillips is an ecclesiastical thug — a brute, a bully, and that’s not the same thing as being a Patriarch.

44 Comments on “Does Patriarchy Produce Ecclesiastical Tyrants?”

  1. Jen says:

    Watchman, thank you for a thoughtful exposé on certain leaders in the Patriarchy movement. You were careful not to invoke “guilt by association” and I thank you for that. Like the leaders themselves, it appears to me that the patriarchy movement began with the best intentions and that it was established because certain men sincerely wanted to govern their families in a biblical manner. In fact, the feminist movement probably helped propel these godly men to search the Scriptures for God’s pattern for families. I believe their initial intentions were born out of a love of God and a true desire to obey Him in all things.

    So, what went wrong? I kept waiting to hear your analysis of why certain leaders in the Patriarchy movement have become so extreme in their thinking. You have associated three leaders in this movement and shown them to be not only dictatorial and autocratic, but now blatantly flying in the face of nearly all spiritual authority. Why? Is there a pattern here? Does this just affect the leaders in the Patriarchy movement or is this a concern that should trouble the average Patriarch family as well?

    From my point of view, I am not ready to throw out the whole Patriarchy movement. I believe it was grounded in the Word, although not perfectly. I believe it has been the impetus for many a Christian father to rightly return to his appropriate biblical role as an involved father and a loving husband. Many “patriarchs” have been motivated to lead by the example of servant leadership to their families and there are many dear and precious Patriarch families because of this.

    So, do we just lay the blame at the feet of the leaders of this movement? Is it Patriarchy itself that causes a man to be a law unto himself? Or is it something deeper? It is a difficult thing to handle power and fame and fortune. Is it possible that the accolades these men receive BECAUSE of this very teaching has simply gone to their heads and they have now lifted themselves up above all rules? Do they now believe that they are so powerful in this movement that nothing can stop them? Do they think that anything they decide in the Patriarchy movement goes because they are the ones making the rules along the way anyway? Is this really just a big power trip and many godly Patriarchy families are just caught in the middle?

    I pray that all these situations, and the resulting soul searching that I am seeing happen in many people, will cause us to return to God’s Word once again and look to Him for the solutions, not to another man. Your article simply shows us that we cannot put man on a pedestal and expect him not to fall. Maybe if we collectively take these men off their pedestals, they won’t have to fall so hard and so far.

    I pray for a return to biblical standards in the family, label or no label. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, respect your husbands. There’s a little more to it than that, but let’s not add to Scripture something that simply isn’t there.

  2. Lynn says:

    Thank you for your reflections on this complicated topic. My short answer is that patriarchy doesn’t produce tyrants. Sin does.

    I wonder how you differentiate “Patriarchy” from, say, how CBMW would define “Complementarianism.”

    I would call myself a comlementarian.

  3. Cynthia Gee says:

    Watchman, you write,
    “It seems logically consistent that autocratic and authoritarian men may not be content to rule merely over their own homes. They would seek to rule over other people as well. As the scope of such a man’s “authority” increased, and particularly where he actively sought out additional positions of authority, the opportunity for his abuses would grow exponentially.”

    I think that this problem has its root in the Fall, because since the Fall, men (and women) have wanted to be “as God”, and lord it over their fellows. In Genesis, dominion is given to man over the whole of non-human creation — fish, birds, and animals, everything except the angels — BUT, no dominion over men is given. People didn’t start trying to exercise dominion over one another until after the Fall — in fact, their doing so appears to be a direct result of the Fall: mankind wanted to be like God, “knowing good and evil”, and, in the attempt to usurp the position of God, they immediately began trying to lord it over one another, even when there were only two human beings on the earth.
    That’s because the trouble with being God is that, by definition, there can only be one of You — the very condition of being God presupposes that you are thus in DOMINION over everyone and everything else in existance. When humans decided that they would be like God, the first thing they wanted to do is rule over one another — EACH of them wanted to be God, which necessarily placed each of them in competition with one another, and with God Himself.

    When this fallen mindset gains a foothold in a church, it causes all sorts of problems — false teachers and gurus set themselves up as little fallen “gods” and lord it over their fellows, and “party spirit” breaks out among the minions who follow them, and causes division:
    1Cr 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 1Cr 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
    (I’m not calling either Paul or Apollos a false teacher, of course — God forbid — but this verse shows the result of the carnal error of identifying one’s faith with any human teacher, even a GOOD one, rather than with Christ.)

    And so divisions and abuses result, and the Church breaks down, and, by following human leaders rather than Christ, and by endowing those human leaders with that Headship which is the rightful seat of Christ alone, the laity as a body emasculates itself grows weak and soft, and is helpless to address abuse problems and heresies when they arise. This is well illustrated by a story Jen told this morning over on Jen’s Gems, about a bowling alley employee, of all things:

    Jen wrote,
    “I once was bowling with my father (who was a self-educated tool and die expert) and some others. Something got hitched up with the pin resetting machinery, and my father wondered what had happened. A man turned to him and said, “there’s something wrong with the mechanism.”
    The man walked away, and my father made sure he pointed out to me that the man had just sounded like he explained something, but he didn’t; he just repeated my father’s question with a statement. I’ve never forgotten that instance.”

    Churches can break down too, whenever something gets “hung up in the mechanism” — Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His church, but He never said that it wouldn’t break down from time to time. In fact, break-downs are bound to happen, because Jesus has built His Church upon human rock:
    Mat 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

    ….. but when leader-worship breaks out in a church, the resultant situation is rather like that pin-resetter snafu — when people are worshipping a leader, it affects their “mechanical aptitude”, and they are unable to address, let alone fix, the inevitable breakdown.

    Now, bowling alleys have service-people who repair their pinsetters, but did you ever see a car break down in a very small town? Before you know it, you have a crowd of locals gathered around, exchanging car-breakdown stories and ideas, and shooting the bull, and often as not, if the problem isn’t too severe, the car will be on the road again, or at least on its way to a repair shop, with the problem already diagnosed.
    The church can work that way too, AS LONG AS we don’t become like that man at the bowling alley, who was content to leave the problem to the “experts.” We have people who are “experts”– ordained pastors and deacons and bishops — but they, like us, are PART of the mechanism, and can also go on the fritz. That’s why we all need to be Bereans, and educate ourselves in the care and feeding and general operation of the Faith, so that when the Church starts rattling and smoking and won’t go, we can put the hood up and stand around together, exchanging church-breakdown stories and ideas, and get Her up and running again, or at least on Her way to the “experts”, with a clear diagnosis of the problem.

    Jesus said to His apostles, whom He would later ordain to lead His Church,
    “Mat 23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

  4. My heart beats to the same drum (as a defrocked ex-Presbyterian).

    – Doug Phillips

    Yeah, those sure sound like words spoken by a man who takes dominion over his household.

    Sproul Jr. is really a class act. Would he have shunned Doug Phillips if Doug tried to join St. Peter Presbyterian Church? When Doug said, “sorry R.C., we take exception to your views on paedobaptism and paedocommunion”, and tried to head on back to Texas, would R.C. and the crew have shunned him? Of course not, they’d marry the kids! But that’s cause he’s got a nice swimming pool and was the friend of a friend to Rousas.

    How come what John Austin did was so bad that it warranted shunning, but somehow Doug Phillips, a credobaptist and credocommunion minister…his son is a worthy candidate for R.C.’s daughter? And Doug isn’t the least bit disturbed by R.C. shunning a Reformed Baptist? What is Doug Phillips but a self-ordained Reformed Baptist?

    And now that PC Fool is in the CREC, which accepts baptists into its communion, when a baptist joins St. Peter, will they be shunned? Isn’t that against the CREC BCO, if they have such a thing (lol)?

    And what will Pope Catholicity I (Slug Wilson) do should R.C. shun another baptist family? Will he do the catholic thing? Don’t hold your breath.

    Folks, if you lean that way, go Lutheran or Reformed Episcopal. No one will hate you for it. Don’t hang out with defrocked hypocrites. Terds of a feather, flock together.

  5. Rick Clinton says:

    Amazing article.

    I’ve been reading this website for a while now…finally decided to comment.

    I personally think much of what is attacked as patriarchy is not even patriarchy. Kriegerwulff is right on when he wrote at his blog:

    Women who are the Proverbs 31, denim-ite, doily wearing, “Titus 2”, prairie muffins are some of the worst matriarchal feminists, who’ll manipulate their husbands with anything, including sex, for their desired outcome.

    “Proverbs 31 butterflies” are, most of the time, just manipulative matriarchs who submit once they’ve manipulated their husband into agreeing with them.

    By hanging out with prostitutes, Jesus wasn’t mimicking Mahatma Ghandi. With the prostitute, you know where she stands, and what she’s about. It’s better to be hot or cold than lukewarm. The doily-wearer is, by-and-large, lukewarm. Hermitage would be better than that.

  6. Curtis says:

    There’s another Patriarchy leader who rates mentioning here, James McDonald. McDonald runs Patriarch’s Path. McDonald use to have an article on Patriarch’s Path by Voyle A. Glover entitled “How To Tell If A Christian Ministry Is Cultic.” The link was but it now appears to be dead. Hmmm. Considering the title of the article I don’t have to wonder why the link is now dead. Have no fear! I was able to find the article at Its a well written article and I mention it because I think it’s related to this discussion.

    The article really fits Doug Phillips and R.C. Sproul, Jr. and their cultic followers. It’s ironic that McDonald would have included that article on his site because McDonald is close personal friends with cult leaders Sproul and Phillips. When I first read that article it gave me chills because I once escaped from a church just like what Glover describes.

    Something else you should know is that McDonald bailed out of the RPCGA when Sproul was defrocked. It looks like it was probably a protest walkout. McDonald was deposed from the ministry ( ) and then he started the Covenant Presbyterian Church Presbytery. Just imagine that! A Presbyterian denomination started by a deposed minister. Don’t be surprised if Sproul eventually signs up. Sounds like a good home for deposed ministers. Oh, wait. He’s already got that with the CREC.

  7. Doily-wearing Denimite Praire Muffin (isn’t that kind of like a road apple?). I’ll have to try that one out on my wife, and then duck.

  8. Cynthia Gee says:

    “It’s ironic that McDonald would have included that article on his site because McDonald is close personal friends with cult leaders Sproul and Phillips.”

    McDonald? Well, yeah. And he’s not above trying to intimidate people who dare to disagree with him:

    He even seems to be able to intimidate and influence “independent” blog hosting sites:

    As for his links being down, his whole Partriarch’s Path site is now dead. I guess they got too much negative publicity. Some things just don’t thrive in daylight.

  9. Julie says:

    Shame on you! I love Doug Phillips and the ministry at VisionForum! They have changed our lives and helped our families so much. I pray you will serve the Lord in love and truth.

  10. Sheldon says:

    You mentioned Phil Lancaster. He was one of three elders of the church at “Rivendell,” a Y2K refuge established in Floyd County, VA. From every report I’ve heard, at least two of these elders, including Lancaster, were extremely abusive. There was eventually a trial of the elders, and believe it or not, RC Sproul Jr presided over it. Rivendell then fell apart. Lancaster is a very close friend of Doug Phillips. It’s interesting that all of these men exhibit the same characteristics.

  11. David Talcott says:

    I think you’re right to worry about certain men and I think you’re also right not to condemn the entire patriarchy movement. Most of that movement is really just a return to an at least semi-robust version of male leadership in the home and church. That kind of thing is pretty clearly in the Bible–it’s all over the New Testament.

    One important component of Patriarchy that is often neglected in these conversations is the fact that men and pastors are under authority, too. If you look, for instance, at the first few verses of I Corinthians 11, it’s clear there that men and pastors don’t get to do whatever the heck they want. They are under authority–namely Christ’s. And they are bound to do what He wants them to do, not what they themselves want to do. So, for all of us, we have to cultivate Biblical use of authority in the places where we have it, and Biblical submission to authority to those who have it over us. Pastors and elders are perhaps especially susceptible to forgetting this–good pastors and elders will not be mad at you for reminding them that they will stand before a holy God and give an account of their actions. The cure for the excesses and abuses of authority is looking to our own position before God–when we see we’re under God then we’ll act with more humility and grace toward others.

  12. Corrie says:


    Kriegerwulff makes a very good point. I have noticed this kind of thing with my own eyes and I have said about the same thing for a long time now although not as witty as he does! (Do I get some brownie points with Kriegerwulff for agreeing with him? [grin]) What is “hermitage”?

    It is kind of like humility. If you have to constantly remind people that you are a humble person, then you probably are not one. The same goes for submission. Some of the meanest women I have come across are those who claim to be “gentle, meek, and submissive”. Surely that would be evident in all their relationships and not just one?


    Good points. I agree.


    I agree. Most of what I have a problem with concerning patriarchy is the “hyper” and the extrabiblical teachings that accompany those “hyper” teachings. Also, with many hyper-patriarchalists it is their way or the highway and there is no room for disagreement at all.

  13. Corrie says:

    Also, the Tenets of Patriarchy has been changed a little bit. I remember having a big problem with one of the statements on there and I pointed it out a while back (a month or two ago) in a couple of places. It was concerning a statement about how the man alone was given dominion. That is not what the Bible says. I see they changed it. I wish I had a copy of the original Tenets. A couple other things seem changed if my memory serves me correctly.

    I do have some quibbles with the wording but that is because I know how they apply those teachings. I think you have to know these various systems to know what is behind the words and what they mean. I could say the same things and mean something totally different.

    I notice they allow for women in the marketplace. 🙂

  14. Curtis says:

    Ah yes. The infamous Y2K world wide computer meltdown. Now there’s a great excuse to start a Christian community! Let’s all panic and be fearful and start a Christian community and hang out together where we share our fear and panic together.

    I’d heard some things about Rivendell from friends in my church who were thinking about moving there. Boy were they glad they didn’t.

    I’m not surprised to hear that Rivendell imploded after the millennium bug proved to be a hoax. As far as I can tell the whole thing was just a scam for Gary North and some other nut jobs to make millions. It’s hard for me to have any respect for anyone who takes Gary North seriously enough that they’d move clear across the country to join a community named after a village in a Tolkein book.

    So Sheldon, could you please fill us in on the details? It sounds like this Lancaster/Sproul/Rivendell mess is just more evidence that patriarch elders turn into spiritual abusers.

  15. bob says:

    i have a question: did peter give doug phillips the keys to the kingdom of heaven? which branch of the apostolic church gave doug the keys?

  16. Brett Rollins says:

    Great article. I’ve wondered about this patriarchy stuff for a long time. It seems like Phillips and Sproul and Lancaster and the rest have started a new religion.

    There’s a lot of stuff on the net about Rivendell. Just Google. In the beginning of its life Rivendell sounded like an idyllic spot. Community Born Of Y2K Fears Blossoms In Blue Ridge It didn’t last long though.

    Over the years I’ve checked out a few of these things myself. Good thing I never moved to any of them. Why do all these Christian community things go bust? In every case the leadership eventually get fat heads and start abusing the members. And why wouldn’t they? They’ve got captive audiences that make for easy victims. How would you get out of a place like Rivendell? You sell your house to move across the country, buy the land and build your house and then you’re stuck. Then when you see it turn into a cult how do you get out? You’d have to convince some other poor sucker to buy your house and land in the middle of a cult compound so you can leave. Even if you could do that they’d probably first excommunicate you for wanting to leave.

    I think there’s got to be a connection of this patriarchy stuff to spiritual abuse. So what about alcohol abuse? Is that common with these patriarchal types? I ask because when I did a search on Rivendell I found the quote below on a site called “Drinking With R.C. Sproul Jr.” Is the alcohol abuse common with these patriarchal leaders, or is that just R.C. Sproul Jr?

    “Brian Carpenter’s blog article, Ecclesiastical Tyranny is insightful. Brian Carpenter knows first hand about ecclesiastical tyranny. Brian is a former member of the Rivendell community, and was excommunicated from the Covenant Church Of Willis as part of that “Christian covenant community” disaster. Brian’s excommunication was later overturned on appeal by the Federation Of Reformed Churches (FORC). R.C. Sproul, Jr. served as defense counsel for several defendants in that church trial. By some accounts R.C.’s defense was pretty lame. RC got to witness ecclesiastical tyranny in action first hand. Since then he’s apparently decided that he wants in on the action too. Despotism is contagious!”

  17. Cynthia Gee says:

    “Great article. I’ve wondered about this patriarchy stuff for a long time. It seems like Phillips and Sproul and Lancaster and the rest have started a new religion. ”

    You could say that. And I know that it’s coincidental, but the religion they’ve created has more that a little bit in common with this one.

  18. Watchman says:

    Brett, my read of that Drinking With R.C. Sproul Jr. site is that it’s not always very easy to sort the fact from the satire. It’s sort of like Purgatorio.

    I have no idea if alcohol abuse is common among Patriarch leaders. Again, my exposure to Patriarchy is limited to the grass roots. At least at that level I’m not aware of any widespread abuse of the booze. But if the stories about St. Peter Presbyterian Church are to believed though, it does cause me much concern.

  19. Esther says:

    Wow, I got quoted in a MW article!

    I have a question. This scripture in 1 Corinthians 5: (please read in total context)

    “4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

    …speaks of delivering the ‘sinner’ to Satan’ for the destruction of the flesh…THAT HIS SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED…..”

    My question: Isn’t the point of excommunication to RESTORE the sinner? Also, what other scriptures in the NT point to excommunication besides Matthew 18?

    The point of my questions: How can shunning children, revenge, breech of confidentiality, etc., ever hope to restore the sinner? Isn’t it more of a stumbling block? Shouldn’t an excommunication be carried out with love, grief and brokeness for a lost sheep?

    I know this is a bit off topic from ‘Patriarchy’ but it would help to know what scriptures they are using (or abusing) for their total power and control in these excommunications.

  20. Watchman says:

    Esther, quoting from the Westminster Confession:

    III. Church censures are necessary, for the reclaiming and gaining of offending brethren, for deterring of others from the like offenses, for purging out of that leaven which might infect the whole lump, for vindicating the honor of Christ, and the holy profession of the Gospel, and for preventing the wrath of God, which might justly fall upon the Church, if they should suffer His covenant, and the seals thereof, to be profaned by notorious and obstinate offenders.

    IV. For the better attaining of these ends, the officers of the Church are to proceed by admonition; suspension from the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for a season; and by excommunication from the Church; according to the nature of the crime, and demerit of the person.

    The language in the London Baptist Confession, which came from the Westminster Confession, is much the same. Doug Phillips claims he subscribes to the LBC.

    Yes, the ultimate goal of church discipline is to encourage unrepentant members of the church to repent. One of the verses referenced in this section of the WCF is:

    1TH 5:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

    As with so many other extremist views that Doug Phillips holds to, he has taken “have no company” to an extreme, and he also demands that no other believers have company with the Epsteins. But “have no company” clearly doesn’t mean “don’t ever talk with them again.” Notice that Paul says, “Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” How can Phillips fulfill his biblical obligation to admonish the Epsteins if he refuses to speak with them? Phillips is in clear violation of this. He has both counted the Epsteins as enemies, and he has refused to admonish them as brethren.

    Doug Phillips may call it “church discipline,” but it’s nothing but spiritual abuse and the man has made an utter mockery of discipline.

  21. Cynthia:
    “You could say that. And I know that it’s coincidental, but the religion they’ve created has more that a little bit in common with this one. ”

    ROFL! Did you notice that Doug Phillips is on the recommended reading list of the Unification Church?

    Patriarchy is turning out to be a big success among cultists.

  22. Cynthia Gee says:

    I ran across this the other day….

  23. Mark Epstein says:

    “How can Phillips fulfill his biblical obligation to admonish the Epsteins if he refuses to speak with them?”

    Based on his Star Chamber excommunication, Phillips obviously never intended to fulfill his biblical obligation to us.

    Phillips is dishonorable, autocratic, dictatorial, unloving, and displays a great propensity for wicked behavior, as evidenced by (1) the excommunication, (2) the websites operated by his shills/proxies, (3) the lies and half-truths posted on his business and church blogs, (4) his refusal to list specific sin on our parts, and (5) the conspiracy he created to spread further lies and misinformation (e.g. that written by M/M Perez of FEAST).

    Phillips is a typical political operator that knows no shame. He is not worthy of the honor due an actual elder and, therefore, he shouldn’t be referred to as an elder until he repents.

  24. Melissa says:

    This is a great article. This connection between the patriarchy leadership and spiritual abuse needs more exposure. Something else that needs some exposure is Doug Phillips racism.


  25. Kelly says:

    Watchman stay strong!
    I have spent years in the shepherding movement,mostly charasmatic circles ( I suspect you know the history) Also the ‘Moses’ style of gov’t in churches like Calvary Chapels has had some articles in Christianity Today about problems there. Sovereign Grace and CBMW go hand in hand. There are many SG leaders on FOF ‘Boundless’ blog. I know I am dropping names. But I get frightened I don’t want to get involved in the high demand groups I use to belong to any more. It is just too cultic.
    Interestingly I have some law enforcement history. There are HUGE correlations between domestic violence and control with patriarchy. The common response over the long haul is a PTSD reaction. I am not being funny but sometimes I think forensic psych evals might be needed to look into some of these leaders.
    Stay strong! Document your findings. All blogs are discoverable in court. Continue telling the truth and when its over and done write a book with your findings and recommendations for change.
    May our Lord Bless you. He has given you a heart for justice.

  26. Kelly says:

    One more comment,

    I know I am proably going to offend some people.

    Ok I attend a PCA now.(For 5 years so far.) After my above mentioned churches …let me say that drinking of alcohol in them is definately frowned upon. As a matter of fact historically pentecostal type churches attract the poor, and marginalized. Many of my christian friends HAD drug and alcohol,sexual addictions. Divorce is common.Little education. I think you get the picture.

    How so many in presbyterian churches con’t to drink and profess to follow Christ bothers me. I did not know presbyterians did this.
    There is NO SUCH THING as a social drinker. Ask any licensed CAC ( certified alcohol counselor) in your county. Take AUDIT. It is a self assessment test for alcoholism.

    If you want to reach the fundamentalists and charismatics with sound theology (and that is DEFINATELY the strength of PCA, maybe more than any other church group) the booze has got to stop,because they won’t listen to you. Too many have been caught in the snare of ETOH or seen friends and family,secondary victimization…etc..etc. Myself included.

    I feel bad for Sproul Jr. I am surprised no one in your denomination saw it coming and didn’t try to intervene?

  27. Cynthia Gee says:

    “How so many in presbyterian churches con’t to drink and profess to follow Christ bothers me. I did not know presbyterians did this.
    There is NO SUCH THING as a social drinker. Ask any licensed CAC ( certified alcohol counselor) in your county. Take AUDIT. It is a self assessment test for alcoholism.”

    Kelly, I like a lot of what you have written, but you have a bit of a blind spot and your personal bias showing here.

    Jesus made and drank wine, and blessed it to be used in His holy Communion Meal: He certainly did not forbid it.

    Any church which forbids wine (this is not the same as condemning drunkenness, which IS a sin) does so in contradiction to the Bible and the commands of Jesus Himself, and is therefore an unscriptural church.

    Also it IS quite possible for most persons to drink socially without danger of addiction, unless they have an actual, physical predisposition to alcoholism.
    Scientific studies prove this, and those scientific studies merely serve to affirm the truth of the inspired words which Paul wrote to the Corinthians 2000 years ago:

    “1Cr 6:12 ¶ All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

  28. Cynthia,

    You beat me to the punch, sis. The teetotaling anti-wine legalist has a serious problem: he would have barred Jesus Christ Himself from fellowship, and put him into “alcohol counseling”!

    Kelly, I agree with most of what you said; but having a “law enforcement” background brings all manner of baggage with it, too. Legalism and “law enforcement” are major problems in the American psyche, and public square at this hour of the day.

    Having said that, I think we can look at the “drinking problem” and Christ’s memorial in this way, and remain on Biblically defensible ground:


    WINE was a staple drink in the ancient world, and still is in much of the Mediterranean basin at least — including for fairly young children (not infants or toddlers, uou Paedopapists!). But more than that: as Scripture says, “a LITTLE wine is good for the stomach”, and medical studies on heart health, etc bear that out. Wine is good for you; just 3-5 oz. per day for the average adult male has salutary health effect.

    WINE is also the drink that we are to take in our memorial meals, “the Lord’s supper”. I recommend Vernard Eller’s, “The Lord’s Supper is Not a Sacrament”, and as you see from that article, the “communion sacrament” that mocks the Lord’s memorial meal with a silly Pagan-Papist ‘snack’ does more harm than good. The Lord’s Supper is to be a SUPPER, and a part of it is the memorial AFTER the meal, as Christ instituted it: a rich, memory-filled breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine to commemorate his body and blood given for us for salvation and eternal life.

    As you see, such a faithful observance of Christ’s memorial cannot be done by 1200 people (or even 200 people) gathered in a high-tech “worship center” pagan basilica. It requires the Church to return to our NT roots: meeting in homes and other small, organic, accountable, mutually submissive venues where everyone knows the other, and where the brethren do not at all lord it over “their” flock, but rather SERVE in meekness of spirit, with the gifts the Lord has given them.

    I also HIGHLY recommend anything written by Frank Viola, but especially “Pagan Christianity: The Origins of our Modern Church Practices.”

    We have a LONG way to go to return to our first love. One of our structural reforms must be leaving off the imperialism and hubris of “the Reformed Faith” with its wizened lawyers and uber-professors; another is leaving off the silliness of Baptist and other teetotaler ideas that mock the King of Heaven by painting Him as an “alcoholic”. For shame!

    I do NOT mean to suggest that hard liquor, beer, etc fall into the same category as wine; they do not. One can find not the least Biblical warrant for drinking “hard stuff” or beer, but as with any other food or drink, if a person wanted to do so in moderation (not unto drunkenness) then he does not sin.

    In the same vein, I do not say that drinking wine is “always OK, in any amount”. Drunkenness IS sin; this much is clear from Scripture. One can certainly get drunk on wine, too, and that is sin (according to Scripture).

    I find it fascinating that with respect to harming oneself and others, the teetotaler religions (Islam, Southern Baptist, many Pentecostals) always harp on the drunkard, who does indeed do a great deal of social damage — but does not harp on the glutton, who does as much health and financial damage as the drunkard, and also costs his family greatly when he dies from heart attack, stroke, diabetes, etc (attendant to gluttony and lack of control with his mouth-gate).

  29. Does this classify as tyranny? It’s not from Doug, but it is a “damage control” email from one of his biggest supporters. I think that this can classify as Patriarchy Producing Tyrants:

    Taken from the online post of my Open Letter to Chalcedon at

    I will however include this excerpt from that letter:
    “I have no intention of attacking either you or the Epsteins.”

    (Seems like a thinly veiled insinuation that he has considered attack or warns me that he can attack me, doesn’t it?)

  30. Lawrence says:

    If that was in a letter from Chris Ortiz then I would have to say that you are reading too much into the comment. More likely he was just staking out a position so that he would be clear that he is not indeed attacking nor does he have any intention of doing so.

    Sad to say, with a couple of ministers that rather quickly come to mind that statement could not be trusted. Chris Ortiz is not one of them.

    Sometimes a cigar IS just a cigar.

  31. Lawrence,

    Considering how important and connotative the use of language has become concerning all things VF related, one can’t help but wonder. There were plenty of insults sewn into the fabric of all that the author wrote, mostly a defense with a few baited emotional hooks. Several statements used poorly chosen language used inappropriately, given the issue and the author.

    It’s just not language what you would expect from someone representing an organization that my family has supported for most of my adult life.

  32. Justice Prima says:

    I will however include this excerpt from that letter:
    “I have no intention of attacking either you or the Epsteins.”

    (Seems like a thinly veiled insinuation that he has considered attack or warns me that he can attack me, doesn’t it?)

    Well, no, it doesn’t seem like that at all.

  33. Justice Prima,

    In response to the statement, the words used were not well chosen. Of all the possible things to say and ways to say them, “attack” was a choice word.

    In consideration that we now live in a day when Christians and Christian organizations challenge one another with lawsuits and threats of them, I think perceived as threatening to a degree. Many of these conflicts have mounted from similar subtle beginnings.

    We Americans (myself included) throw around emotional language so often now via the immediacy of the internet, without the limitations that snail mail used to provide. Some of it is the immediacy and some of it is our lack of respect for and forethought in our use of language.

  34. Justice Prima says:

    I disagree, Cindy. I don’t think the words were ill chosen, and I do not agree that there is any good reason to perceive Chris’ words as a threat.

    I agree that you perceived them that way, but that only makes me question the accuracy of your perceptions, and insisting on your point in the face of so little evidence makes me question your credibility.

  35. The statement stands for what it is, as does my opinion. It was a poor choice of language given that it was stated in a defense of one Christian who initiates and threatens lawsuits against Christians. Especially considering your knowledge of and participation in the related reparte’ (and not current when I made this inital posting here), I’m surprised at your response.

    But if I ever want belittling of my opinion, integrity and credibility, I know who to seek out… Hope that you offered a prayer in my behalf.

    God bless you abundantly, above all we can ask or think.

  36. Watchman says:


    It certainly does appear that Chris Ortiz’s articles, and especially his first article, were “attack” pieces against the Epsteins. The fact that Mr. Ortiz has yet to apologize to the Epsteins for anything other than his failure to contact them prior to writing the articles, does tend to make his assertions about “intentions” ring hollow.

    Nevertheless, I do believe that the objections to your interpretation of Mr. Ortiz’s statement as it “Seems like a thinly veiled insinuation that he has considered attack or warns me that he can attack me, doesn’t it?” are reasonable. I’m too am having a hard time reading Mr. Ortiz’s statement to you as an implied threat.

    On balance I consider your comments here to be very helpful, and they’ve served to shed additional light on this situation. I hope that you’ll participate more and share with us your insights. We won’t all always agree, but that’s also part of the process.

  37. Justice Prima says:

    Cindy, I don’t agree with Chris on many things. That’s one good reason why instead of insulting me and finding it ‘surprising’ that I disagree with you on this issue, you might consider what I said on its own merits. I find it simply weird that you think that because I disagree with Chris on many areas that this means I have to agree with you about everything. I’m not a party player, Cindy. I judge issues on their individual merits, not on who said what or who is on whose side. I don’t make blanket generalizations, and I believe in giving credit where it is due and being fairminded. That you find it surprising that I could disagree with Chris and have questions about what he’s done and said and yet still think you’re out of line for insisting that he’s threatened you communicates to me that you don’t judge issues on their individual merits and that you do not value, as I do, independent thinking and fairmindedness.

    If I disagree with much of what Chris has done and said on this issue, but still do not see a threat in his words, and neither does Lawrence, and MW also considers objections to your interpretation as reasonable, maybe you’re the one who is mistaken. Maybe it really isn’t as obvious as you think it is. And maybe that should make you consider what you do to your own credibility when you insist that the way you *perceive* those very simple and straightforward words is the only way they could have been intended.

    You seem to think that if I don’t agree with you 100 percent on everything you do and say in this issue, then that makes me the enemy. I think, honestly, you’re being silly and it’s embarrassing and distracting, and when you damage your own credibility you damage the credibility of all of us. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen you misinterpret somebody else’s words (you did it to Mike), so this isn’t an isolated incident. I think you have displayed questionable judgment a number of times, and I am trying to encourage you to be more careful to weigh each and every thing you say.

    There is no threat there, Cindy. The only poor choice of words here are yours. Please, stop. There are enough issues going on here that actually are black and white, undebatable, undeniable, and obvious that there is no need to insist that everybody must agree with your ‘perceptions’ that turn words upside down and make them mean the opposite of what is said or be your enemy.

    Hasn’t anybody ever told you that you never use your weakest arguments? Your argument here is extremely weak- the only support for it is your perceptions, and I don’t think that’s a good standard.

    Not a single thing I (and most people) have said about Ortiz and his response has been based on anybody’s private reinterpretation of words. Chris called an excommunication a ‘private’ affair. An excommunication is, by nature, public and involves other churches. I would like him to explain what he meant by calling an excommunication private.
    There’s no ambiguity there, no reliance on anybody’s private perceptions to support any of the issues I brought up. Consequently, there is no reason to be surprised that I think your insistance on everybody agreeing with you that a nonthreat is a threat is wrong headed, mistaken in more ways than one, and a distraction from issues that are far more important and can be demonstrated with harder evidence than “I perceived them as a threat.”

  38. Please forgive my typos and the subject verb agreement slips I see in my comment waiting for moderation.

    (I hope that doesn’t contribute to the esteem of the credulity of my perspective. It is a blog, after all.)

  39. In the event that I have been too subtle in previous statements, let me clarify them now.

    When I made the initial post here, as I’ve described in some detail now, I had only information that did not portray Chris Ortiz very favorably.

    This initial post solicited several comments assuring me that Chris was trustworthy, providing me with a more rounded view. I’ve mentioned this in my responses here and on Jen’s Gems, and although I do not share in Chris Ortiz’ assessments/opinions, I have stated that he has shown integrity.

    I’ve stated that I hope that his integrity continues to become more manifest in this matter. Therefore, although I explained the initial factors that contributed to my assertions in my initial posting, I have considered and acknowledged the significance of what others have said in this and other forums.

    Thank you helping me broaden my perspective about Chris Ortiz, casting him in more favorable light. Let me mention again that I hope and pray that all of us involved in this matter (Americans and Christians) continue to show greater respect for the language that we use with one another, always considering that we are members of one another. I covet your prayers as I continue to aspire toward this challenging end.

  40. I just realized that this post never posted. It was immediately preceded by my request for grace concerning spelling and grammar. I wrote in response to Watchman’s comments. Let me post it here again.


    Thank you for your kind reply and benefit of the doubt. Communication and thus opinion proves complicated, even despite our access to media to assist us. The circumstances contributing to my perception prove to be complex and without consideration of these mitigating factors.

    1. Prior to the email exchange with Chris Ortiz, I had no personal knowledge of him whatsoever. At the time of the first reading of the statement I introduced here in this forum, I only could draw upon the highly biased and inflammatory statements from the Chalcedon blog and my own personal correspondence. The tone of the correspondence was much like that of his exchange with the Epsteins: contradictory and requiring additional emails to counter and redefine statements in earlier emails. The first email from Chris that seriously discussed the matter (prior to his checking their database) opened with his doubt that I was really a current supporter. The two more emails later and after he stated that he would no longer correspond with me, he wrote again in an apologetic tone concerning our contributions (obviously after he’s checked the database).

    2. The long history of my esteem of Chalcedon relies heavily on the influence of Rush J. Rushdooney. In his absence, leadership has changed, and I do not trust it to the degree that I did. I cannot then give Chris Ortiz an unquestionable benefit of the doubt to the degree that I would have a few years ago.

    3. In my profession, written language bears a greater significance (actually a forensic one) than it does in personal communication. Because many of the issues discussed in my correspondence with Chris Oritz concerned threats of litigation on the behalf of a trained litigator, I believe that the correspondence itself demanded a higher level of formality. The content of the letter, although not nearly comparable to the tenor of Chris’ blogs and correspondence on Jennifer Epstein’s website, it communicated what I have come to know as a “damage control” or “cover you backside” style of motive. It was defensive and litigious, championing Doug and quick to displace responsibility. I regret that I cannot disclose the full text of this communication, but Chris has stated, as he does on Jen’s Gems, that he desires that certain specifics concerning the Epsteins remain private. Thus, although our correspondence was not formal or expressly forensic, and in consideration that Chris is also “Director of Communications” for Chalcedon, I find his use of certain language very questionable and lacking appropriate consideration of the content.

    4. As I once shared this perspective of ignorance concerning such offensive practices, those who lack personal knowledge and experience of high-demand, spiritually abusive systems cannot fully appreciate my identification and response to “thinly veiled inusinuation.”
    Communication within cultic systems (and I identify Doug Phillips’ system and behavior to be highly cultic/spiritually abusive) relies on passive-aggressive and indirect communication of threat. Although it may not be true of Chris, because his primary support for his statements about Doug Phillips derived heavily from his personal relationship with Doug, I could not and should not push that concern from my mind. Nasty, back-handed comments serve as a norm to maintain compliance. Chris’ communication was riddled with them.

    * I hope that this sheds more light on my perspective and perhaps help readers understand the nature of my concerns. We have opinions and presuppositions as a consequence of perspective, and I can approach this with no other. I am, however, relieved to see Chris Ortiz finally participate and communicate with the Epsteins via her website. I now know more about his character as a result of this experience through the comments of Laurence further up on this thread. Chris has also demonstrated integrity by publicly addressing critics directly, unlike Phillips who has others write countering commentaries and threatens lawsuits. I hope that Chris continues to demonstrate greater and greater levels of integrity in the future, and a higher level of stewardship in all his written communications.

  41. Rushdoony-fan says:

    The long history of my esteem of Chalcedon relies heavily on the influence of Rush J. Rushdooney

    It’s Rousas J. Rushdoony. No e, and and it’s Rousas.

  42. CJ says:

    Both Phillips and Sproul are ecclesiastical tyrants. Sproul was defrocked over it (and some other things too).

    One of Doug’s best friends and director of Vision Forum’s own NCFIC is also under discipline:

  43. Watchman says:

    No doubt there’s a whole lot more to this Scott Brown/NCFIC story. Any idea, CJ, if it’s going to be told?

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