Common To Every Man

jen's gemsI don’t know Jen Fishburne, but I can tell you she doesn’t like Doug Phillips. I mean, she really, really does not like Doug Phillips. As in, she maintains a blog ( solely devoted to letting people know how much she doesn’t like Doug Phillips. On a dis-likability scale of 1 to 10 – with 1 being not disliked much and 10 being disliked to the nth degree – Jen Fishburne’s feelings toward Doug Phillips would rank an 11.

Since not everyone knows who Doug Phillips is, let me provide a brief background. Phillips was the president of Vision Forum Ministries. He resigned from that position October 30 after confessing to what amounted to an inappropriate emotional relationship with a woman who was not his wife (More on that later…). He’s also been a huge voice in the American homeschooling movement, as well as a very vocal proponent of large families, family-integrated church, and biblical patriarchy. In addition to his work with Vision Forum, he also founded the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

Phillips was also the pastor of Boerne Christian Assembly, and I’m still not exactly clear whether that’s an office he still holds. Logic would dictate he stepped down from that as well, and Fishburne’s blog reports that is indeed what happened “early this year” (although she doesn’t reveal how she came to know this). It was through the church that Fishburne and Phillips crossed paths, and her time there inspired her to write a massive, 12-part account which serves as the introduction to the “Jen’s Gems – Doug Phillips Ecclesiastical Tyranny and Abuse” blog site.

Of course, in light of recent events, Fishburne has been having a field day, posting links to just about every article written on Phillips since the resignation was announced. She’s also speculated on his future finances, questioned his politics, and insinuated his affair must have been with a nanny. To get an idea of where Fishburne is coming from, she claims on her blog that she and her family were excommunicated from Boerne Christian Assembly and subsequently shunned by the rest of the congregation. The Christian Post website even referred to her blog in its recent article on Phillips’ resignation.

For my part, Phillips has always presented the same problem to me as many Reformed theology, Calvinistic teachers do: While I doug_phillips_a_1agree with many of the things they say, I’m often turned off by the aloofness and intellectual superiority they seem to project. Phillips, for example, would often pepper his presentations with high brow terminology when more common terms would suffice. This was even reflected in his recent statement of resignation, in which instead of using the simple term “didn’t have sex with” he chose the more awkward “‘know’ … in a biblical sense.”

Regardless of my opinion of Phillips, however, one has to wonder exactly how much good a blog such as Fishburne’s is really doing. Probably nearly every Christian in the United States has some sort of church horror story, and I genuinely feel bad for the Fishburne family if everything Jen has written on her blog is true. As she and the rest of the world continue to pile on and point to Phillips’ views on the biblical roles of women, the elevation of importance of the family, the inappropriateness of the homosexual lifestyle, and virtually everything else he ever spoke or wrote about, they continue to miss the elephant in the room.

I can sum up what happened to Doug Phillips in one word: Sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man…” Did Phillips set himself up as an ideal target by so boldly stating his beliefs and then betraying them? Absolutely. Is he some special breed of sinner who committed acts more heinous than any other philanderer because he was revealed to be a hypocrite? Absolutely not. Ironically, Phillips’ failure serves to reinforce one of the major pillars of his Christianity – that no man can stand in the face of sin without fully relying on the grace of God to deliver him.

I pray Doug Phillips and his family are able to weather the fallout of his actions. I also pray Jen Fishburne would be blessed. Most of all, though, I pray for sanctification for us all. Lord, help us.


6 thoughts on “Common To Every Man

  1. Ed, thank you for your prayers. I agree with much of what you have written here, except that I actually LOVE Doug Phillips (and everyone else associated with him). I truly do. And it is because I love OTHERS so much that I desire to warn them when they are in danger, and I feel that since Doug Phillips is not truly repentant (those I have talked to who personally know him all agree on this point), that I will continue to warn others because he has paved the way to come back in about a year or so, with or without TRUE repentance.

    I pray for true repentance for Doug, for healing for his whole family, his church, his ministry, and especially for the young lady who is now hurt by all this. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

  2. “Is he some special breed of sinner who committed acts more heinous than any other philanderer because he was revealed to be a hypocrite? Absolutely not.”
    What makes his sin so bad that you get angry ex-followers all over, is the message he proclaimed. If he was your average Christian who said we are all sinners saved by grace, and need the Holy Spirit’s help to stay on the right path, then he’d have been just another guy who failed to live by his ideals, but still kept to his basic message – a message that include us being sinners.
    But he says women are more easily deceived and exist to be subservient to men, that adult daughters should stay with their fathers and not go to college, and let the father choose a husband because men knows better.
    This man – the very man who taught thousands that women will be morally safe if they just obey men – had one female obeying him into morally wrong teritory. He, who said families will stay godly by following the father, set a bad example for his family. He who said women should always trust men and not even be employed to have a fallback plan in case the male fails, failed his family.
    His philandering emphasise that you cannot trust men (meaning either humans or in this case males) – their messages, their commands, their influences, their examples, to keep from sinning/ to make your decisions for you. His message is wrong.
    Perhaps this piece will help you understand the anger of people from his group:
    And this may help you to understand the Vision Forum culture, why we indeed believe this had to be serious to not be swept under the rug:

  3. The essential question you pose here is whether Mr. Phillips is “some special breed of sinner who committed acts more heinous than any other philanderer because he was revealed to be a hypocrite…” You respond “Absolutely not”. I’d suggest as a law professor–one used to seeing through wordplay–that you’ve phrased that question in a disingenuous manner, i.e., “more heinous than ANY OTHER philanderer…”. “Any other” would include the worst of the worst (e.g., philanderers who murder their spouses). By those standards, Mr. Phillips may well be not be worse. But that is not the standard that applies to Mr. Phillips, thus it is a red herring.

    1). As a self-acknowledged teacher of the word, he’s held to a higher biblical standard (James 3);

    2). As one who’s made a veritable industry of passing judgment upon those in sin (including preaching about the OT standard of stoning adulterers whilst carrying on his tryst), he calls greater judgment upon himself (Matt 7);

    3). The allegations are not one of a mere breach of the marital trust–typical fallen man stuff–but of an ongoing pattern of abusive sexual practices over a very possibly underage girl that may well be a felony and have serious legal ramifications, including a long prison term (Rom 13);

    In sum, the allegations go way beyond an adulterous incident and into psychopathic levels of control and abuse over an entire congregation. If true, Ms Fishburne is merely following biblical admonitions to expose evil (Eph 5:11). But in a passive aggressive and unmistakably mocking tone, you’re accusing her for so doing, arguably in violation of any number of biblical standards. Honest to goodness, search your heart.


    • I think you may have misunderstood my intentions. I was merely trying to point out that the same sin nature found in Doug Phillips is the same sin nature that could cause any one of us to fall. You have mentioned some details here that have not been verified publicly, and I wrote this post shortly after his resignation. I can assure you no mocking was intended.

  4. Pingback: World Magazine Reports On Doug Phillips | Half Empty: Confessions Of A Pessimist

  5. Pingback: The Absolute Last Post You Will See Here About Doug Phillips | Half Empty: Confessions Of A Pessimist

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