No Christian should rejoice when another Christian falls into sin and it should be troubling whenever the name of God is dragged through the mud due to high profile ministry leader’s hypocrisy and corruption.
Sadly, I’m too old to be shocked anymore by ministry men who have fallen into immorality, so the news of Doug Phillips, “ESQ’s” resignation from his church (resignation here) and certain aspects of Vision Forum did not shock me.
We’ve never followed his teachings although many in the homeschooling movement have been influenced by his materials. VF does marketing right and appeals to many homeschoolers with glossy photos, nostalgic images, high ideals and firm black/white stands on secondary issues which amount to a little truth mixed with error which makes them twice as dangerous and more difficult to discern.
I’m writing down some scattered thoughts for my kids and for posterity.
1. Citing the Bible does not make something Biblical.
2. Just because people will follow you does not make your teaching Biblical.
3. Men who teach extra biblical topics as MAIN tenants should immediately raise a red flag, and you should consider this person a potential false teacher. When the main theme of scripture is grace and redemption and you make it about fathers ruling with complete domination their home, you are suspect.
4. A little truth mixed with error is always more deceptive. Exhibit A: “Satan the serpent” and Eve in the garden.
5. We want to feed the idol that’s already inside us.
Meaning, whatever we love, we’ll serve, and when it comes to deviant teaching, it’s a slippery slope. We’ll toy with it, then tolerate.
For instance, a man who already struggles with overbearing control and anger issues will be easy prey for a man teaching that the Bible says that men are to dominate the home, “Biblical Patriarchy” and that women are to be completely submissive to his every whim.
Does the Bible teach that women are to be submissive to their husband? Yes.
Should men exercise oversight over their home and teach their kids? Yes.
Does the Bible teach that the man is to make sure that the woman is submissive? No.
And when you read cover to cover, could any critical reader take away that Biblical Patriarchy and Manly Dominion are major themes of scripture? Womanly Submission? Girls that must serve their father until they are married, then serve their husband, all the while forsaking a college education? No, no and no. Not in the least, so the constant emphasis should have been a HUGE red flag, but men who already struggle with being domineering and women who desire more than anything perfectly behaved and dressed children will go along with their teaching.
In fairness, it’s easy to point fingers if the VF flavor of Christianity was not your particular “idol.”
The lesson we should learn is that we all have this propensity, and we all have a variety of idols. You might be overlooking error in doctrine but your slant may be different.
- Maybe you are obsessed with prophecy and end times,
- Maybe you desire perfect equality and women being equal to men,
- Maybe it’s Christians living exactly by the laws of God,
- Maybe it’s a perfect Christian home,
- Maybe it’s perfectly behaved children,
- Maybe it’s being seen as relevant to the world,
- Maybe it’s being seen as unlike the church you were raised in by your parents,
- Maybe it’s an obsession with holiness,
- Maybe an obsession with license.
- Maybe a desire to be free from constraints of any kind.
6. Satan seems to attack us where we are most vocal. This just seems to be the case, although I have no chapter and verse for you. Men who built their ministries around particular teachings seem to fall in those very areas.
What’s a girl to do? Trust no one? No,
We need to examine our own hearts and then
We need to cling to Scripture and follow hard after God.
Follow God harder than we follow personalities, harder than we idolize agendas, harder than we want to belong to a movement.
The remedy is to immerse yourself in God’s word and ask His Holy Spirit to teach and guide you. Be so immersed that when someone says something deviant, you’ll recognize it right away because you’ve hidden God’s word in your heart.
God’s word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto our paths.
Should we esteem Pastors and teachers? Yes, they have a specific purpose in God’s church. We should thank God for Spirit led gifted teachers who faithfully teach God’s word. And we should thank God for all of the resources we have available to us via internet, mp3′s, books, conferences and more. To whom much is given, and we have so much more at our disposal to teach us God’s word than any other prior generation, much will be required.
But any pastor or teacher worth their salt will direct you to follow scripture and will tell you that if they were to ever contradict the teaching of scripture, you follow scripture. And that the Holy Spirit is the one that leads you into all truth.
My heart truly goes out to the family of this man and to the followers that he’s undoubtedly left feeling stunned and disillusioned. I pray they find hope, peace and grace while they cling to Christ alone.
*Addendum: Men “falling into sin” is not specific to high profile ministry leaders. We are all sinners, so when this happens, it should sadden us, but not shake us. People are people. And none of us “falls” into sin. We make soft choices for ourselves, beginning in our thoughts. Discontentment raises it’s ugly head, then unthankfulness, and we begin thinking of illegitimate ways to have our needs met, which leads to actions. We should all be diligent to guard our own hearts and minds!