Without a doubt, Doug Phillips has gone out of his way to keep his name off official documents posted by Boerne “christian-cult” Assembly, the Chalcedon website, and the hate blogs Still Fed Up, Tired of the Crap, Mrs. Bino, etc. However, Phillips’ failure to rein-in the writers at SFU, TotC, Mrs. Bino, etc., as well as his position of sole-elder at Bc-cA and Der Fuhrer at Vision Forum make him more than responsible for the behavior of his associates, it make Phillips complicit! Therefore, without a doubt, Phillips is responsible for the ongoing slandering and defaming of the Epsteins - period. As noted by Spunky in a comment on Mrs. Epstein’s blog, even Phillips’ friends, associates, and employees make the case against Phillips.
Here is what Spunky (a Phillips’ supporter) wrote:
“Chris Ortiz said,
As to the personal allegations, the evidence is circumstantial. Phillips denies these accusations, but he has not sought to publicly defame the Epsteins. He’s also not written a response to every detail of Jennifer’s account. I think this is wise. Since Doug is the face of Vision Forum, and the Epsteins intend to tarnish both, Doug must respond to this as any sizable organization would do with official statements.”
I would like to know on what basis Mr. Ortiz can make the claim that Doug Phillips has not sought to publicly defame the Epsteins? Could Mr. Ortiz tell us who wrote Still Fed Up and Tired of The Crap or the Boerne Christian website? Until I know the answer to that question, it is not clear to me that Doug Phillips has not participated in the efforts to defame the Epsteins.
I do agree that Doug Phillips must respond with official statements, however he is not absolved of the biblical requirement as an elder to be above reproach in his official response. That is why I have been watching the response of BCA, Vision Forum, and Doug Phillips so closely. What they do, demonstrates what they truly believe. Currently, the ‘official statements’ coming from Vision Forum and BCA are in my opinion not above reproach. Here’s why,
It is not above reproach and inconsistent to condemn ‘tale-bearers’ on the Vision Forum website and then at the same time allow an anonymous ’supreme court justice’ to accuse another believer of wrongdoing without documentation.
Alexander Strauch puts it so well on the Vision Forum website in his article The Plague of Talebearing, ‘Everyone has a burr under the saddle about something, and mine is people passing information about another without the facts. I get so fed up with it.’
Wesley Strackbeins words are even stronger. He said, ‘unbiblical behavior in the form of spreading false witness, bringing public charges without even contacting brothers in Christ in advance, publishing gossip and revilings, etc. all contrary to the Word of God.’
Without the name of the Supreme Court Justice nor do we know if Doug Phillips contacted Dave Linton before bringing public charges therefore the information is unbiblical spreading of of rumors by an anonymous false witness and in the words of Wesley Strackbein ‘contrary to the Word of God.’
If Mr. Ortiz truly believes this is a church matter, then it is not above reproach for Vision Forum to use it’s company or ministry website, which in part is funded by donations from supporters to publicly talk about a Boerne Church Assembly issues. We should be hearing only from the elders of Boerne on a their website.
It is not above reproach for an elder and Christian leader to allow BCA to have a website with no known authors which publicly defend or present the case for BCA or Doug Phillips. A church website with no email, address, names, or contact information, is not above reproach. If I wouldn’t buy anything from a company without such information provided, I most assuredly won’t accept their information without knowing that someone had the courage to accept responsibility for the things that are written on the site. Without knowing who is writing the information, it cannot be considered as anything more than the public spreading of gossip by a false witness.
It is not above reproach for an elder and leader in a church to host an anonymous church website and post fragmented and incomplete documents to make their claims. And then tell the general public if they want the documents, they must email Vision Forum after first warning about gossip. The information as it currently is presented by Vision Forum IS gossip. It is unsubstantiated rumor, verifiable only if you email and can prove you are worthy to receive the information. Either tell it all, or none at all.
Further, it is not above reproach for whoever wrote the BCA website to modify documents and not provide the originals for verification. Several times when quoting Faith PCA’s letter they bracket letters. That tells me that the sentence was incomplete. Such an action can alter the meaning of a sentence and the original intent of the author. Without source documentation we don’t know for certain if that is the case, thus it is not above reproach.
An elder who seeks to remain above reproach must publicly condemn anonymous sites such as Still Fed Up and if they know, reveal the identities of those who participate in such activities. Failure to do so, could lead people to believe that the elders are encouraging, supporting, or even participating in the unbiblical behavior and guilty of the same ‘internetâ€ assassinations’ they accuse the Epsteins of doing.
These are just some of the areas where I have seen the ‘official statements’ of Doug Phillips come short of the standard of being above reproach.
I should note that an early attempt to clarify some of my initial concerns was graciously responded to by Mr. Gobart but further dialogue was unfortunately shut down.
Mr. Ortiz also said, ‘Folks, this is a private conflict that one party has decided to make public.’
It is erroneous to claim that it was the Epsteins who made this ‘public.’ Excommunication is by definition a public act done to shame the excommunicant into repentance.
In the Disciplinary Action of Mark and Jen Epstein on the first page there is a section entitled, The History Behind This Disciplinary Action; Point A is entitled ‘Going Public.’ They then give four reasons why this ’sin-crisis’ must become a public issue. (See Jen’s sidebar for the link)
The date this went public is 1/23/2005 and it was done by Boerne Christian Assembly. And then further enlarged in their congregational vote to excommunicate documented in the 2/6/2005 letter to the Epsteins.
Mr. Ortiz, the Epsteins may have malicious motives in going to the internet, for which they will be held accountable. But it is totally impossible [to] keep an excommunication a private church matter. Doug Phillips or Boerne may not like the fact that they Epsteins enlarged the scope of the public or church beyond the local area, but the one who went public was not the Epsteins but Boerne Christian Assembly.
For Chris Ortiz or anyone else to claim otherwise is misrepresenting the nature of excommunication itself and its purpose in publicay shaming the excommunicant into repentance.
As I have said many times to my own children, truth will withstand the toughest scrutiny. Those who have nothing to fear should not fear a public scrutiny no matter how large in scope or how who is blogging about it. The Truth always prevails.
Further, The letter of excommunication to the Epsteins stated, ‘The church no longer has jurisdiction over you or your minor children.’
That obviously includes their actions AFTER the excommunication. Why are they continuing to rebuke a ‘heathen’ that they declare they no longer have any jurisdiction over? It is a fools errand! If they didn’t have success BEFORE they excommunicated them, why would they think they would have any greater success now that they have no jurisdiction over them?
So once BCA chose to go public with the ’sin-crisis’ where the information went was no longer under jurisdiction either.
It is unfortunate that this situation has persisted for as long as it has. But did Doug Phillips or anyone at BCA expect that a woman who they accused of waging a ‘campaign of division’ at BCA to act any differently once the ’sin-crisis’ was made public by BCA and she was excommunicated?
The responsibility as elders and congregants at BCA now is to live in accordance with their excommunication and treat the Epsteins as heathen and a publican. They don’t need to fear the ‘railings of a heathen.’ God will hold her accountable.
However, Doug Phillips could end all this today, by releasing the minutes from the trial of excommunication. It is then easy to verify if indeed the Epsteins are telling the truth or lying. As Mr. Strauch so eloquently said, ‘No judgment without the facts.’ Until the elders at BCA are willing to publicly defend their excommunication with the facts, this saga will continue.
However, the responsibility of those who have supported the ministry of Vision Forum is to determine if the manner in which Doug Phillips and the elders of BCA acted in the excommunication process and afterward is above reproach. Therefore, any attempt to refute the attacks or ‘vile schemes’ of the Epsteins must be done in accordance with proper biblical order and be above reproach, lest Doug Phillips or the elders fall into the very temptations for which they excommunicated the Epsteins.
Galatians 6:1 says. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”
That is why I continue to place greater weight and emphasis on the statements of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum and less on a ‘heathen’ who I wouldn’t or shouldn’t expect to act in a manner contrary to the reasons for which they were excommunicated.
Jen’s actions (both right and wrong) only serve to help me discern whether Doug Phillips is acting in a manner worthy of his calling as elder of BCA and leader in the Christian homeschool community. I have not made a determination on that yet. Since the story is still unfolding and for now Doug Phillips is choosing to allow others to speak on his behalf.
My only reason for following this situation is that I have been a supporter personally and on my blog of Vision Forum and Doug Phillips. I want to make sure that the ministries we support are above reproach and credible. It is with that heart in mind, that we will continue to watch what the events unfold. How he handles this trial demonstrates his character and his faith in a much better way than any teaching he gives. I find the teachings at times inspirational and helpful, but I also want to know that the man I listen to walks in integrity. As I have said previously, I have not made a final determination on that matter, for now we do not accept the story that either side has told as the complete truth.
It is my earnest prayer that all who profess the name of Christ are humble and willing to admit where they may have failed in applying God’s Word in their life. That is why public forums such as blogs are so helpful, our words can be examined and errors quickly corrected. So while some get upset at the blogging of this dispute, it is the very public nature of the internet that will hopefully bring about the complete repentance our Lord desires and for His glory alone. And if we believe that our Lord is indeed sovereign, then the internet is exactly the avenue HE chose for it all to take place.”
Well said, Spunky.