I 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 (http://jensgems.wordpress.com/) 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 agree 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.