Doug Phillips Promotes Pagan Authoritarianism

The following article has been republished here with the permission of the author, Don Veinot. The original article appears on the Midwest Christian Outreach Blog.

Don Veinot has also published an exposé about Doug Phillips and his Patriarchy entitled, Who Will Be The First in the Kingdom? The article appears in the current edition of the MCOI Journal. Jennifer Epstein previously posted an article about it entitled, Cult-Watch Ministry Publishes Article Exposing Doug Phillips.

Doug Phillips – New Paganism?

by: Don Veinot, Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.

A number of years ago Dr. Albert Mohler spoke at an EMNR conference and in his talk shared a story about Bishop John Shelby Spong. According to Mohler, at the Lambeth Conference, Spong had committed a cultural and political boo-boo. He had been pressing for the ordination of homosexuals but was unable to get the majority to agree at the time because the bishops from Africa held firmly against it. In a moment of frustration Spong lashed out with, “The reason the African bishops believe the Bible to literally is because they have been so recently converted from paganism.” To which the Bishop from Uganda responded, “The reason Spong doesn’t believe the Bible is because he has so recently been converted to paganism.”

I have thought a lot about this exchange lately. It is easy for many of us to write off liberalism, the Emerging Church and Postmodernism as an embracing of paganism by church leaders and their followers. And, to be sure, it is. But, do some segments of conservative believers embrace other forms of paganism that may be promoted by some of their leaders? I would suggest this is the case with Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard.

Bill Gothard embraces and promotes the pagan view of authority as being the Christian view of a top down authority based on a misuse of the story of the centurion in Matthew 8:5-10. The story was about who Jesus was and His ability to heal long distance but Gothard makes it a story about authority and wrote in his Basic Seminar Textbook:

After the centurion asked Jesus to come and heal his servant, it occurred to him that just as life was structured around a “chain of responsibility,” so the kingdom in which God operates must have a similar structure of authority.

Jesus directly inverted this idea in Luke 22:25-26:

And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

Rather than the leader being less or not accountable and each one below them in “authority” being progressively more accountable to a larger number of people above them Jesus turned it around and made the leader the most accountable. God’s leaders live in glass houses and everyone else has Windex!

But how does this reflect upon or answer the question about Doug Phillips and Vision Forum? There are a number of areas that could be looked at, including his view of authority which, like Gothard’s derives from First Century paganism. We have looked at his promotion of his concept of patriarchy in our current Journal article, “Who Will Be First in the Kingdom?” (Vol. 13, No 2). Another area is Vision Forum’s view of women. How does it compare with First Century paganism?

Moya K. Mason points out in her “Ancient Roman Women: A Look at their Lives.”:

< >

In that culture aristocratic woman may have received some education but that was primarily for use in educating their children. Most women received little or no education. Men were the ones to receive higher education. It was considered a waste of time and financial resources to educate a woman in the same way. After all, her use was to have children and stay at home to care for them. The husband owned the wife and children. If she had a baby girl he had the choice as to whether the female child would live or die. He was more interested in having a son to carry on his name but the son too was property until he attained adulthood. The daughter could be sold or bartered with. She lived with the father until he decided to marry her off, or perhaps not marry her off and she was under his authority until he died.

Alvin J. Schmidt in his book Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization points out how the church elevated the status of women by addressing many of these issues. He also comments on the church having to go back and address this issue as various church leaders have reintroduced this pagan view of women back in to the church. As we look at Vision Forum are we seeing yet another attempt at bringing the pagan view of women back in to the church? In their statement The Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy we read:

Until she is given in marriage, a daughter continues under her father’s authority and protection

But what of education? Like the First Century Romans, Vision Forum in their article ”Biblical Patriarchy and the Doctrine of Federal Representation” considers educating females a waste of time and money:

And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?

In his excellent book Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” Timothy Paul Jones addresses Bart Ehrman’s claim that some passages were modified to oppose women and Jews:

A handful of changes could potentially relate to the role of women in churches today. It appears that women played more prominent roles in the early church than they did in the later eras. As a result some scribes in late ancient and medieval times seem to have altered texts that seemed to place women in prominent positions.

For example, in the most ancient manuscripts of Acts 18:26, a woman named Priscilla seems to be the primary teachers of Apollos. Centuries later, a copyist switched the order of names, placing the name of Pricilla’s husband, Aquila, first. In Romans 16:7, someone named Junia – a woman’s name – is said to be “significant among the apostles,” but a later scribe turned “Junia” into “Junias,” a man’s name. In Acts 17:4, another scribe changed “prominent women” into “wives of prominent men.” In each of these cases, however, it’s possible to look at the manuscripts and recover the original wording.

Similarly, Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum is clear in their article ”Biblical Patriarchy and the Doctrine of Federal Representation” of the wrongness of a woman having an individual personal view and taking any sort of participation or prominent role which may be viewed as competing with her owner, er, I mean husband:

In regards to a woman’s right to vote; if husband and wife are truly “one flesh” and the husband is doing his duty to represent the family to the wider community, then what PRACTICAL benefit does allowing women to vote provide? If husband and wife agree on an issue, then one has simply doubled the number of votes; but the result is the same. Women’s voting only makes a difference when the husband and wife disagree; a wife, who does not trust the judgment of her husband, can nullify his vote. Thus, the immediate consequence is to enshrine the will of the individual OVER the good of the family thus creating divisions WITHIN the family.

Is Doug Phillips just the latest incarnation of this infiltration? I am not sure but it seems worth thinking about.

9 Comments on “Doug Phillips Promotes Pagan Authoritarianism”

  1. Jane says:

    I have some general comments to make about the Doug Phillips mess, so I’ll just post them here since it’s the latest article.

    It’s with a heavy heart that I read through all these horrifying posts and the comments that follow. I’ve had general knowledge of Doug Phillips for years but never suspected any of this. I’m not a member of any Reformed church and hold more liberal views on male-female roles, so I never had a great interest in Vision Forum. However, Mr. Phillips always came across to me as a likable, kind man who truly loved God and his family, and I greatly admired the way he encouraged other families to draw closer to God and each other. He’s one of the last prominent Christians I would have expected this from. And he’s not only self-ordained, but also accountable to no one? Unbelievable. I’ve seen the word “cult” used here, and I’m afraid that is now my suspicion as well.

    I want all of you to know that it isn’t just the Reformed community who is troubled by the unbiblical “discipline” dished out by Mr. Phillips and some of the other members of his inner circle. This is truly a problem for the entire Body and we all need to confront it. I pray that this man will come to repentance soon and seek to restore the relationships that have been destroyed by his apparent pride and thirst for power.

    Mr. and Mrs. Epstein, my prayers are with you and everyone else who has been abused by Doug Phillips and his inner circle. Not all of us would respond to such shocking treatment as graciously as the two of you have. Thank for you being good witnesses for our Lord.

  2. Ex VF Supporter says:

    There’s an excellent article related to this called On Biblical ‘complementarianism’ — corrupt or Christian?

  3. Ellen Waddell says:

    And Jesus said in John 13:34, ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

    John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    John 15:17
    “This I command you, that you love one another.”

    Romans 12:10
    “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;”

    Galatians 5:13
    “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

    Ephesians 4:2
    “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,”

    Hebrews 10:24
    “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,”

    1 Peter 4:8
    “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

    1 John 3:1
    “How great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”

    1 John 4:7
    “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

    1 John 4:12
    “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

    2 John 1:5
    “Now I ask you, lady,” (and ladies, and gentlemen) “not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.”


    On one hand, those who defend Doug Phillips attempt to do so by backing it up with scripture. On the other hand, those who stand opposed, do so generally without scripture to back up their accusations. Do I then stand with those who use scripture because I use scripture to demonstrate truth in my own life, or do I stand with those who do not because they desire to reveal their own concept of “truth”?

    I say to both sides, I do not stand with either. Political stabs, jabs, back-biting, and mud slinging are just that. What we have here is a case of…. (are you all ready?)…. A CASE OF UNFORGIVENENSS! This unforgiveness on both sides has caused blindness. One accuses, the other defends and throws new mud into the pit! I say, indeed, you are all in a pit. Satan has you exactly where he would desire. You think you are being used of God, but you are of no use to Him and CANNOT BE USED OF HIM while in a PIT!

    Scripture tells us of one who digs a pit. You all remember Proverbs 26:27 “He who digs a pit will fall into it, And he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him.” But do you also remember Ecclesiastes 10:8
    “He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall.”

    What readers must find in this LONG DRAWN OUT SAGA is that both sides have dug a pit right next to each other. You attempt to break into each other’s pit with spite and retaliation. But that serpent we call the devil is biting!

    All of you must repent, each in his own heart to the Lord. You are all guilty of manipulating the Truth to better serve yourselves.

    To the Epstein’s: Forgive those who have hurt you. Forgive without an apology. Forgive for your own healing. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. You attempted reconciliation. Since you didn’t get it, you go back to revealing “truth”. Just forgive because the Lord desires you to have salvation. That is enough! If you have truly repented of your own sins, it doesn’t matter what other people say about you. Repentance leads to the Lord Jesus Christ and eternal Salvation. His Grace is sufficient! You don’t need reprisal, so just stop it! That goes for all of you who stand with them! Your not exposing a “cult”, you are trying to hurt fellow Christians! Will God not reveal the TRUTH? Who is God that you must do it for Him?

    To Doug and Beall Phillips, as well as, ladies and gentlemen in all church relationships to this issue, Vision Forum and all associated websites: You cannot say that you only commented on the accusations made against you. You tried to reveal your own “truth” just the same as your accusers! You forgot about FORGIVENESS because you were worried about what other people would think and how that would effect your sales and the almighty dollar! It is time for you to remove from your website all of your links that have anything to do with this issue! It makes you look cheap and tawdry. It offers you the cover of “defense”, but it isn’t and you know it. It is your own campaign to keep face! FORGIVE, PERIOD! It is not up to you to judge who has the Lord’s forgiveness and who doesn’t! The Lord Forgives! His Grace is sufficient! Put away your pride. Christ expressly gave understanding that no man is greater than His master! God’s order is different from man’s. Did Christ not remove his outer garments, clothe himself in servitude, and wash the feet of His friends! So, too, must you place upon yourselves a garment of servitude and not superiority! God’s Authority remains supreme! The Word of God remains supreme! Be careful in trying to sensor other’s comments. So what if someone disagrees with you? If you are justified in your words and your actions, do you not believe that God will see it through for you without your human intervention! Will He not allow the TRUTH to be revealed? Who is God that you must do it for Him?

    To all:
    Matthew 6:14
    “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

    Matthew 6:15
    “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

    The largest division in the churches of today is not unlike the division that Satan tried to instill in the early church. This division stems from UNFORGIVENESS! We all have different approaches to our understanding of the Bible. If we were all alike in our positions and in society, there would have been no need for the different Gospels. We could have just had The Book of Matthew, or just The Book of Mark. We would never even need Luke and John. But we are not. We are diversified in culture, emotions, social standing, etc. Some come from long standing families in churches, while others from generations who did not know God, but now have received His forgiveness and have new and wonderful relationship with Him. Jesus addressed all of the same issues that influence the church today! They are all resolved by obeying His command: ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I repeat, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds! Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

    LOVE – I could reveal Scripture after Scripture to show you Truth, but I will end with these three final comments:

    Proverbs 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

    Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.

    1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

  4. […] In point #3 you assert that we posted our articles on the Ministry Watchman website, however, the citation given in xxvii on page 5 clearly states: “The following article has been republished here with the permission of the author, Don Veinot.” […]

  5. […] In point #3 you assert that we posted our articles on the Ministry Watchman website, however, the citation given in xxvii on page 5 clearly states: “The following article has been republished here with the permission of the author, Don Veinot.” […]

  6. tim brown says:

    Just one question,

    from all your quotes (from every where but the Scriptures), can you please biblically refute the specific principles you quoted from Phillips. it seems that you have drifted more along the thinking of the culture rather than the words of Scripture.

  7. Samantha says:

    As an author, I have people forward articles/links, etc., all the time. I found it quite astonishing that there have been dozens of individuals that have forwarded to me, things written by D. Phillips.

    Several folks were dismayed, however, those in ministry were outraged. The other fact that I, personally, found to be amazing, is that those in ministry, were of the same denomination!

    Until I read some of these articles myself, I found it difficult to believe that someone that professes to know the “Word” could skew it so badly. Evidently, he is a champion at skewing the “Word”.

  8. Rev Adam Richardson says:

    These articles that were handed to me after a Sunday service, I had put aside to read at a later date. My oldest son picked them up off the table and began reading them before I did.

    Even as a 20 year old, he was able to quickly see the error in the way Mr.Phillips interprets Holy Scripture. It’s difficult to believe that God’s people would take this as truth. When comparing Scripture with Scripture, his view point falls flat.

  9. aliveriver says:

    I know you wrote this years ago, but I just wanted to comment how encouraging and validating it is for me to stumble across this site years later and see that people were publicly calling out Vision Forum. I credit Vision Forum with instilling lies and a deep sense of unworthiness that I’m still detoxing from. Reading blogs and others’ journeys has been a help. Thank you! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s