Archive for August 17th, 2008

A lady recently posted a comment on the thread for “The Gospel According to Doug Phillips: A Vision of Cultural and Economic Elitism” which I felt merited a response as a post. Here is her unedited comment and my reply below:

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

I completely understand Laura’s “rant” concerning the ministry of Vision Forum and it’s head, Doug Phillips, but I, like Cece, would like to say a few words in its defence.

First of all, I see a lot of criticism geared toward Vision Forum’s interpretation of Scripture and how we are to view our lives in accordance with that interpretation, for example, the idea that a woman’s “place” of industry on earth is most profitably within her own home, under her father or husband’s authority. Vision Forum uses scriptural truth to back up this view, the passage in 1 Timothy being very key in the New Testament for this view, namely, men, teach your women to be keepers of the home, that the word of God be not blasphemed. To me, blaspheming the Word of God is pretty serious stuff, more serious than the sticks and stones that this culture would throw at me for taking that passage in the Scriptures seriously. Vision Forum does not teach that a woman is blaspheming that Word of God if she must work outside of the home, only if she chooses to without necessity, neglecting her children and becoming independent of her God-given, “Adam” authority. Such is their view of everything they teach, love and common sense with a foundation of Scriptural authority.

I don’t know whether or not many of the people commenting on this blog have ever read any of the arguments posed by Doug Phillips, but I would have to say that I have not received anything from them but amazingly plausible interpretations of Scripture, many of which would be difficult to counter by any of us.

As far as the military is concerned, I would like to know just what you all are talking about concerning this idea that Phillips is pro-military and pro-family, which you all seem to consider as opposing and incompatible viewopoints. As far as I know, and I know quite a bit, Mr. Phillips has shown honor to those men who have sacrificed their lives to give us and save for us a Christian nation, but as far as the present military crisis, women in combat, the neglect of single mothers and military wives, I have not heard Mr. Phillips express anything but displeasure at these things. He would be in complete sympathy with a woman who had to take care of her home and do “manly” things. I do not understand how people can take a way of life that is protective to women and interpret it to be a geisha lifestyle where women do nothing but have sex and babies. What a horrible way to view such a beautiful truth of Scripture, the truth that we as woman find our most joy and fulfillment in being wives and mothers and keepers of our homes. I say this with all sincerety.

Laura, I do understand how strange and confusing Vision Forum must be to you. I too had your opinions at one time. But as I have matured in my faith, and in life in general, I have come to realize, by the grace of God, a much better path. Not a way of life that works toward my salavtion in Christ Jesus, no, that is already accomplished in the twinkling of an eye, but a way of life that is more expedient for me, and for the Phillips family, and the Botkins (whom I know personally, they are wonderful, gracious people, you would love them too, they are full of God’s grace). We preach our beliefs because we care about the happiness of this country and of the world, about the preservation of a Christian civilization where God’s ways, which are His laws, are honored, where we are not persecuted for our faith. As the Apostle Paul once said, in other words, ‘yes, all things are lawful to me’, all ways of life I can live, even sinful ones, without loosing that sealing of the Holy Spirit for my eternal salvation in Christ, ‘but, not all things are expedient’, or profitable to my the blessing of my life here on earth. God promises that His Laws, His ways bring blessing upon the earth, the earth!–not spirits–things physical, not spiritual. Our lives are a combination of the physical and the spiritual, and there is blessing and cursing on both in God’s ways, and we have got to start realizing this in this culture.

We all want to live blessed and happy lives on this earth, but judgment and cursing is still an option, even to Christians. The ten commandments are still to be honored, we are still to conform our bodies, which are not yet redeemed, to reflect the perfect and holy state of our redeemed spririts. As Paul said, ’so with the inward man I serve the Law of God, but with the outward man, the law of sin and death’. Therefore, Paul goes on to say that it is important for us to consider what then is the way of life God would have for us to live. If the Old Testament Law was “abolished”, then what have we left to stand upon in this wicked and sinful world without killing ourselves and others in the process, and living outward lives that are cursed by God. God’s Law is still important, because our flesh is still in the state that Israel was in before Christ came, unredeemed. The Gospel is the message of Christ and all the rest, including the commandments of Christ, who is, by the way, the Word of GOd, Old and New Testaments, never changing. Christ indeed commanded us to go unto all the nations preaching the gospel, and TEACHING THEM WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.

Please consider these things, and pass whatever judgment you deem necessary. But if you believe in Jehovah God, yu must have Scriptural authority to be the foundation of your judgment, nothing else is relevent.

With sincerety,


Dear Emily,

Thank you for your engaging and respectful comment. Before I begin, I want to give you a disclaimer: although I am educated I am not a Biblical scholar. The interpretations of verses I’m about to give you should not be taken with the same type of authority as if it were coming from a priest or minister; insomuch as my views coincide with orthodox Christianity, however, you should be persuaded by and believe in them. How can you tell if what I’m saying jibes with the vast majority of 2,000 years of Christian history? Well, that will take reading and studying on your part. 🙂

I’m not sure you really understood my post or my criticisms of VF. Hopefully I can clarify some things.

I would have to say that I have not received anything from [Doug Phillip’s arguments] but amazingly plausible interpretations of Scripture, many of which would be difficult to counter by any of us.

While the internet and the printing press have many advantages, one of the down sides to both these technologies is the ability they give to small, insignificant, and often erroneous self-important “leaders” to propagate their material and give the impression they are larger and more important than they are. In the larger world of Christendom Doug Phillips is very small. It is a sad thing that so many are carried away with hyper-patriarchy, looking to it as the norm for Christian living and Biblical interpretation. Please tell me, to whom is Doug Phillips held accountable for his teachings (besides his particular congregation)? How do his interpretations of scripture compare with historical Christianity’s? From whence does he derive his authority? I know that in evangelical circles a seminary degree (or even such qualifications as “He loves Jesus”) is sufficient to give a man teaching authority, but we should often pause and consider… how do the views of this man compare with historic Christian doctrine? The issue, Emily, is not whether it seems plausible to you or me. The issue is whether it is orthodox or not. While Phillips’ teachings on women are not heretical, they are certainly not in the spirit of the Christian church. One would think that if staying home, birthing babies, and running home-based businesses were such important, integral issues that the apostles would have set down clear guidelines for them. Or at least the church Fathers, or the Seven Ecumenical Councils would have taken on this vital task. But no. The leaders of the church simply weren’t interested in telling women what to do or not to do… they had bigger fish to fry.

Before you begin listing all the verses in the Old and New Testament about how women are to dress or act or what they are to do, just let me explain a few things. The instructions to men and women given in the Old Testament need to be viewed in light of the New Testament. A statute that was part of the theocratic legislation of ancient Israel needs to be evaluated in its relation to the entire body of law. What type of law is it? Moral, civil, or ceremonial (ritual)? Well, depending on which category it fits will determine how it ought to be followed by Christians. (If you are a Jew, well that is an entirely different can of worms…) So, Emily, it is not so cut-and-dry as you may have been taught.

For many passages, a simple literal reading is not sufficient to interpret and apply a passage. Here is an example. In Deut. 22 is the infamous passage “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” However, look at in in context (NIV):

4 If you see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help him get it to its feet.
5 A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.
6 If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. 7 You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go, so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.
8 When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof.
9 Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled.
10 Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
11 Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.
12 Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.

Why don’t you, Emily, follow those other rules? Do you wear linen and wool mixed together in your clothes? I bet you do. So, why follow one rule and not the rest? Well, one must make distinctions as to the purpose and place of the rules. Moral laws are unchanging. Civil laws change according to whose scepter one is under at the time. And the ceremonial or ritual laws have changed. We, Christians are no longer under the theocracy of Israel. We do not offer bloody sheep as offerings in the temple. We don’t bother about separating our linen and our wool. To grasp this concept read Hebrews 7 where it talks of Christ not being of the order of Aaron’s priesthood but of Melchizedek:

Hebrews 7:11-12 (NIV)
11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come-one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.

So with a change of priesthood comes a change of ceremonial law, therefore we aren’t under Israel’s ceremonial law, but instead under Christ’s. Now the more difficult part, to which of the three types of law does Deut 22:5 fit? Because of the end of the verse, I would be inclined to view it as a moral law. And yet, our interpretation is not over. It doesn’t say pants, it says “men’s clothing.” The Greek Septuagint translates the Hebrew to mean either vessel or garment or clothing. This command will not change in different cultures, but the type of vessel, garment, or clothing that represents a man or a woman will change based on each culture. As a great blog article on this topic recounts, “The issue is not skirts, and it is not pants, it is modesty” (from Athanasius Contra Mundum). I think, to most reasonable individuals, one can see how this moral law looks slightly different according to each culture.

Now, to tackle the passages which, at a first glance, appear to be a command to stay home:

So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.
(1 Tim 5:14 ESV)

Managing a household doesn’t require staying within its four walls. In addition, this command is given to women in the context of a command to not become an idle busybody gossiper. So, the idea was, “young widow, don’t fill your days with gossip… go out and make a home, a family, become involved and get busy so you don’t gab all day about your neighbors” (my paraphrase). 🙂 However, the term “keeping house” as the NASB puts it, in Greek means “rule.” So, do women get to rule the home or merely keep it? And then earlier in the passage, when instructions are given to deacons and overseers, it is said that these men are to be rulers over their homes. However, it is the same Greek verb used in all three cases (young widows, overseers, deacons). Some of our English translations prefer to say “keeper” in reference to women and “manager” or “ruler” in reference to men, but in Greek it is the same word. So, either women are instructed to rule the house, or men are instructed to keep house. 🙂 Or both! 🙂

Anyhow, all this to try and explain that merely quoting a verse is not sufficient; and a literalistic view of scripture misses a great deal of depth and truth. You must understand it through the authority of the church (i.e. your priest/minister) and you must study and determine the historical, cultural, and linguistic particulars for yourself (and see if they mesh with what you’re taught). And I, too, take passages of scripture very seriously, as I’m sure you can tell.

As far as your insinuation that I may one day mature in my faith and life and therefore see the truth of Vision Forum… what can I say? If that’s true I hope I never mature. 🙂 Seriously, though, I will be the first to admit that my age (nearly 30) and my experience leave me on the low end of the totem pole. However, this does not negate skills of logic, critical thinking, and reasoning, all of which I hope to have employed well in this post.

I also wish to thank you Emily for writing a comment devoid of anger and bitterness. I believe that is a great compliment to your character.

In reference to the Botkins, I too have met some of these VF families in person (though not high-profile ones) and been a recipient of their hospitality and generosity. I do not believe that they are all vipers full of venom. They are people who vary greatly in every area, including the variety and intensity of their virtues and vices. However, some are merely better at concealing the judgmental attitude of hyper-patriarchy than others. My favorite memory of staying with a hyper-patriarch, homeschooling, quiver-full, Vision Forum family was our last night: my husband had one of their little girls on his knee. He asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up. Her answer, of course, was to be a Mommy and have a family. So my husband, with a glass of good wine in one hand, and his other on her shoulder, in full view and hearing of the family, proceded to tell her that she ought to go to college and get an education, that the world was open to her, that she could go anywhere and be anything she wanted. How refreshing!


Laura Croft


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