What Doug Phillips Forgot


Can we stand yet another post on the Doug Phillips debacle?

I first heard Doug speak at a homeschool convention in Southern California back in 2000 or 2001. He was a mighty fine speaker: eloquent, passionate, and well-prepared. He had charisma, albeit misplaced.

But he spoke to my sensitivities at the time, appealing to my elitism (“Homeschoolers will be the ones to change the world”, yada, yada, yada) and personal idols of family and religious behavior. The room was packed, and men and women alike stood at the end of his keynote address to join Doug as he led us in a poignant rendition of the old hymn, Oh Give Us Homes

I was admittedly (painfully) starry-eyed. Of course, we all know that looking backwards affords us the benefit of hindsight, and that knowledge I have now, born not just out of the past month’s revelations but of years of purging the Vision Forum ideology from our lives, just really makes me want to retch. 

Sex with nannies (I don’t care what his letter says; the guy is clearly splitting hairs to protect himself), oppression of the women he so vocally vowed to protect and defend, fraud, theft, and the root of it all, pride, are the tip of the iceberg according to insiders. Honestly, I wish the festering pimple would just pop so we could have it all out and be done with it, swabbing the whole mess with a gigantic cotton ball soaked in alcohol.

Or the gospel.

Because, see, that’s what’s been missing all along. Back when he began, back when I heard him speak, back when he was running an organization that served one person — Doug Phillips — the gospel was painfully absent from the mission.

The gospel that reminds us of Whose we are and what He did for us. The gospel that reminds us that God is more than enough, that Jesus paid it all and declared “It is finished”, and that what He did was more important than what we do. The gospel that reminds us that we don’t have to go anywhere else to look for our value, worth, acceptance, or fulfillment. 

That’s what Doug Phillips forgot, and I am just like him. Because I, too, leave the gospel behind daily in my quest to feel accepted. I have to remind myself of the finished work of Christ on my behalf daily, hourly. I have to bask in the love of a God who cannot ever fail to love me. 

So really, we’re not so different, Doug and I. Perhaps now that he’s left with a deep, hemorrhaging, gaping, festering wound, he’ll remember why he loved Jesus in the first place. It may mean prison and a profound loss of relationships and at the very least, the complete collapse of that pathetic little empire he built apart from the gospel. But that would be the greatest thing Doug could ever do in his life. Return to Jesus and be filled up with Jesus’ value and worth and significance. It’s all about Jesus. 

Because empires and visionary forums built on anything less than the gospel aren’t worth the tiny men who’ve slaved tirelessly to erect them. In the end, what they had put up as a prop for their own inadequacies fails them miserably, and they become slaves to the very things they might have used to point people to Jesus instead of themselves. 

The gospel. That’s what Doug forgot.