Response to Doug Phillips Resignation
By James Brown Jr.
By James Brown Jr.
“How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” —2 Samuel 1:27
While historians debate the historicity of Camelot and King Arthur or the historic application of Camelot to the Kennedy era, many believed it existed in San Antonio, Texas. To many, Vision Forum was the etymological derivative and the prophetical fulfillment of Camelot. In a sense, they were correct, only this time it was the unfaithfulness of the king that shook the kingdom.
The shocking news concerning Doug Phillips resignation and the nature of it has sent shockwaves across America and I am sure many parts of the world. The repercussions are just beginning to be felt throughout Christendom and will no doubt be felt for years to come.
For this was not just another story of Paradise Lost, this was Camelot.
How could this be? This is the question on many minds. Enquiring minds are eager for more news hoping this was an overreaction. Our enemies are filled with glee hoping there is much more to the story. While we must be careful not to sensationalize this situation, this is a black eye our enemies will not soon let us forget.
Let’s be clear, Doug Phillips is Vision Forum. While Vision Forum will continue the future effectiveness of the organization is in question. How does Vision Forum or any organization survive this kind of scrutiny?
The purpose of this article is not to speculate on the extent of the sin in Camelot but whether Camelot should have existed in our minds. Those of us outside the loop should be content to allow this situation to be handled by Vision Forum, the Phillips family, and their church. This may be difficult since it has been made public and since so many feel connected to the Phillips family and their ministry.
Still yet, no matter how much one has supported or been edified through their work, we do not know the whole story. It could also be asked whether we should know the story. I know some will say it is the price of being a high profile figure but the fact remains it is a local church and organizational issue.
Outside involvement would be necessary if the sin was known and nothing was being done about it. However, we know there is repentance and restoration being worked out in this situation. Therefore, we should pray for the Phillips family, other parties involved, Vision Forum and Boerne Christian Assembly. We should extend love and grace to all who have sinned and repented. But at the end of the day, this is a matter now for Boerne Christian Assembly and the Phillips family. We must give them the privacy and time needed to resolve and restore those involved.
For us on the outside, there are issues we will have to deal with in the positive and negative realm. Many questions have already surfaced from friend and foe alike. Some of these questions are being asked in despair, unbelief, and even anger.
It is important that we respond correctly for the sake of the gospel, our weaker brethren and our children. We underestimate the effect situations like this can have on our families and weaker brethren. Therefore, it is needful for the universal Church in all our particular congregations to respond in a healthy and helpful way.
We must not allow this to become an opportunity to grind axes. While we should seek truth through God’s Word in all matters surrounding this, may this not become an opportunity for personal vendetta’s or agenda’s.
“But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” —Galatians 5:15
We should be careful not to excuse the sin. This should be a grave warning to all leaders within God’s three institutions. In other words, this should cause all Christian men to take heed.
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” —1 Corinthians 10:12
This should be a call for greater accountability in our lives. Temptation is all around us and Satan is waiting for just the right moment to attack. We can be sure that he will attack.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” —1 Peter 5:8
This is why accountability is so important. Because of our doctrinal beliefs, we should know this more than most but we must constantly be reminded. Time can cause us to become apathetic concerning the threat we all face. Too easily we forget we are in a spiritual war, not just against the wickedness in high places but also in our own hearts.
For some reason we begin to think we are spiritual Supermen because we have been regenerated by God. In our failure to remember we have not yet been glorified and are still being sanctified, we suffer damaging consequences.
The 1689 London Confession states in chapter 13 under the heading Of Sanctification:
“This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” [emphasis mine]
This war rages in each believer and it has been a foolish and mythological presupposition that we are above reproach. The remnant of our Adamic flesh is stronger than we give credit, especially in mixed company. This myth gives rise to foolish expectations of our own strength. We believe we can handle any temptation when we are succumbing to sin in a thousand different ways every day.
We have given false witness against our hearts to portray this image that we and other Christians are above sin. Too often we fail to acknowledge that the remnants of our flesh are still stronger than we are no matter how sanctified we are perceived to be.
Chapter 15 states this condition in even stronger terms:
“Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sins and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation.” [emphasis mine]
Notice, our confession says, “The best of men.” There is no doubt Doug Phillips is the best of men. He has been a stalwart in defending and advancing the faith. May we never forget and continue to benefit in all the ways God has powerfully worked through him. Failures should not destroy the accomplishments of the past or lessen our hopes for the future. While he may not be able to serve in the same fashion, he still has much work to do for the kingdom. This work begins in his personal life and family and may the Church be a support for that end.
One of the great Doctrines of Grace is the Perseverance of the Saints. While those who are truly elect can never fall from God’s grace, we can fall from the graces of public opinion. It is my hope that Doug Phillips is regenerated because of the past evidences of this grace in his life. We should be much encouraged that though the “many storms and floods” of this life has risen and “beat against” him, still yet, where sin has abounded, God’s grace will abound more.
In Chapter 17 of the London Confession, entitled Of The Perseverance of the Saints, this great Biblical promise is stated as:
“Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence he still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet he is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of his hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.” [emphasis mine]
We should expect God’s grace to advance His gospel even in the midst of man’s failure just as it always has since the Fall. We should not despair but repent of our sins with our brother and rejoice with him at the proper time because of God’s grace and restoration.
Contrary to popular opinion, Scripture does not say, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, destroy such an one in the spirit of the Pharisees; knowing that thou are holier than he.”
We are actually commanded to restore our brother.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” —Galatians 6:1
While most of us are not directly involved in this process, since it is to be carried out in his local church, we can either be a part of this restoration or a thorn in the flesh. Remember, Satan desires to sift us all as wheat; this is not the time to rise up in pride lest you become the next subject of the blogging rants.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” —Proverbs 16:18
May we give Doug the space and time needed to make peace with God and those he has wronged; respect so that healing and restoration may be extended to his family; and most of all love, so that they may be restored into fellowship with Christ’s Holy Church.
As for us, may this be a reminder and a warning that Camelot does not yet exist, and will not until all the foes of Christ have been made His footstool. Let us be careful not to idolize God’s servants, but love one another and build one another in the most holy faith. We are all fragile creatures just one weak moment away from the myth of Camelot being exposed.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” —Hebrews 10:24-25