Last Wednesday Doug Phillips resigned from his position as president of Vision Forum Ministries and discontinued his speaking responsibilities as well. Here is the official statement of resignation from the ministry’s website:
With thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love, I have stepped down from the office of president at Vision Forum Ministries and have discontinued my speaking responsibilities.
There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance. I have confessed my sin to my wife and family, my local church, and the board of Vision Forum Ministries. I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not “know” each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.
There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability. Where I have directly wronged others, I confessed and repented. I am still in the process of trying to seek reconciliation privately with people I have injured, and to be aware of ways in which my own selfishness has hurt family and friends. I am most sensitive to the fact that my actions have dishonored the living God and been shameful to the name of Jesus Christ, my only hope and Savior.
This is a time when my repentance needs to be proven, and I need to lead a quiet life focusing on my family and serving as a foot soldier, not a ministry leader. Though I am broken over my failures, I am grateful to be able to spend more time with my family, nurturing my wife and children and preparing my older sons and daughters for life. So, for these reasons I want to let my friends know that I have stepped down as a board member and as president of Vision Forum Ministries. The Board will be making provision for the management of the ministry during this time. To the friends of this ministry, I ask for your forgiveness, and hope that you will pray for the Phillips family at this time, and for the men who will be responsible for shepherding the work of Vision Forum Ministries in the future.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have had my disagreements with the Family Integrated Church Movement (FICM), of which Doug Phillips had been a prominent leader for many years, but I am saddened by this news. It breaks my heart whenever a pastor who has taught the true Gospel for many years succumbs to such temptation and moral failure, and my prayers are with Doug and his family.
I also hope that those who have disagreed with some of the positions taken by Vision Forum Ministries, as I have disagreed with them, will not see Doug’s failure as in any way indicative of the positions he has taken or of those who have agreed with him from within the FICM. As I have looked around the internet at various reactions to this terrible news, I have been deeply troubled and grieved that some have taken this opportunity to malign the FICM because of Doug’s confessed moral failure. Let us not be among such people! Let us be fair-minded and loving toward our brothers and sisters in the Lord. And, where we disagree with them, let us focus our attention on the actual points of Scriptural disagreement rather than on the moral failures of those who have failed to live up to their stated positions. After all, how many of us ever lives up to our own moral ideals as faithfully as we would like? And how many of us would not be just as easily led astray into such moral failure but for the grace of God?
Update 11 November 2013
The following announcment was posted at the Vision Forum Ministries website:
In light of the serious sins which have resulted in Doug Phillips’s resignation from Vision Forum Ministries, the Board of Directors has determined that it is in the best interests of all involved to discontinue operations. We have stopped receiving donations, and are working through the logistical matters associated with the closing of the ministry. While we believe as strongly as ever in the message of the ministry to the Christian family, we are grieved to find it necessary to make this decision. We believe this to be the best option for the healing of all involved and the only course of action under the circumstances.
This is a reminder of the devastating fallout when a Christian leader succumbs to serious moral failure. Let us continue to pray for those involved as the aftershocks will no doubt continue for quite some time.
Update 20 November 2013
Last Wednesday Scott Brown, longtime close friend of Doug Phillips and director of the National Center for family-Integrated Churches, delivered a sermon in which he commented very wisely and Scripturally on Phillips’ public fall (although he didn’t mention his name). The sermon is entitled How Sin Deceives & Destroys the Soul and the comments are found a little more than halfway through the message. Scott warns about how every public sin was first a private sin for a long time and admonishes us to mortify such sin lest our own work of ministry, which we may have been building for many years, be burned to the ground around us.
Update 17 November 2014
In An Update Regarding Doug Phillips, there was a formal announcement that “the Elders of Boerne Christian Assembly have moved to excommunicate Doug Phillips from the Body of Christ. In doing so, we have sought in good faith to follow diligently the process set forth by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 18:15-17. This has been a process in which BCA has demonstrated great longsuffering and patience, has offered many and earnest appeals, and has sought much counsel from men of other churches.”
This story just seems to be getting sadder and sadder by the day.