Well, at long last, a tiny bright spot seems to have appeared in the deep dark mess that is the collapse of Doug Phillips and his empire. After being out of the loop over the holidays, I decided to check Jen’s Gems to see if any updates had been posted about the final shuttering of Vision Forum Inc. (For curious readers, any attempt to search for products on visionforum.com currently yields only a page titled “Clearance” and the message “No products match the filters you selected.”) I didn’t find anything about the closing, but I did find this encouraging report by T. W. Eston about Robert Gifford, the pastor whom Doug Phillips has repeatedly referred to as his “spiritual father” and mentioned in several of the lectures I’ve critiqued in the Big Box series.
Needless to say, I and many others had assumed, from listening to Phillips’ descriptions, that Gifford agreed with Phillips about most of his pet doctrines. Thankfully, however, we’ve all been proven wrong, as Gifford has now officially broken his (public) silence and come out against many of the ideas upon which Doug Phillips built his now-defunct ministry:
It’s not a sin for a woman to work outside the home. In fact there are times when it may be necessary for a woman to work outside the home to show her love for her husband and to complement him. This idea that a woman has to remain within the four walls of the home is nowhere found in Scripture.
Doug has misrepresented me in the worst sense. He’s made me out to be a Dominionist. He’s put in print. He’s said it many times. It’s libel. Dominionism is completely contrary to everything I taught. I think that much of Doug’s views of Dominionism came from the Shepherding movement. There’s a lot of similarities. He also teaches the same thing the Muslims teach which is you take over the world by having lots of babies. You establish an army through your children. It’s important to understand this. If you look at Doug through all his advertisements, the Vision Forum, he’s got his kids on the covers dressed in armor. This is what they’re doing. They’re forming armies through their families. I’m just the absolute opposite of all that.
Doug and his brother Brad came to my home and told me, “Pastor Gifford, we believe that the qualifications for membership in the church are wrong. We believe that only home schoolers should be members of the church.” I told them, “Do you realize what kind of elitist attitude you have? Do you realize what you’re doing? This is totally anti-biblical. This is the problem that the early Jewish converts had when they thought only they could be members of the church and the Gentiles had to be excluded. What you have is an elitist mentality, and it’s going to turn into a cult if you’re not careful.” It was over that issue that Doug left my church and moved to Texas to start Vision Forum and his own church.
The above quotes from Gifford are just a sampling, of course. I strongly encourage you to head over to Jen’s Gems and read the entire post, if nothing else for the eerily prophetic statement Gifford apparently made to Phillips at his father Howard’s funeral only seven months ago:
Doug, I’m really concerned for you. You’ve gotten far away from the Word of God by creating this Dominionist/Patriarchy/Family Integrated Church/Home School thing. You need to get back to the gospel of Jesus and stop being a moralist or everything you’ve done is going to fall. Point people to Jesus or your ministry will collapse.
Good for you, Pastor Gifford. Good for you.