Hall of Shame #1 – Doug Phillips and Vision Forum


I’ve had my “Wall of Shame” page up for a little while, but I haven’t placed anything on there (having more than a few other things to do…).  My first post is actually an archived Facebook interaction from Nov. 1, 2013 where a brother from my seminary and I had a little back-and-forth over the resignation of Doug Phillips from the (now nonexistent) Vision Forum.

Here’s a coversation I had with a brother on Facebook where I made an off the cuff statement and got corrected.  The names have been changed since I didn’t ask his permission to toss this up.

Initial Facebook Status:

Now those who know me will know that there are several movements and organizations surrounding the church that I’m not a fan of, but when anyone falls into sexual sin, it’s a frightfully horrible thing:http://tinyurl.com/q3sz3rr

Remember to pray for Doug Philips and all the people that follow the Vision Forum who are probably struggling to understand and make sense of this news.



Mr X –  Can it be defined as “sexual sin” if it didn’t involve sex?

Lyndon Unger – I don’t know; go ask your wife.

Mr X –  Thanks Lyndon, my wife is not the authority though However, I get your point.

I would just be careful to broadcast “sexual sin,” which implies fornication, and grounds for divorce according to Matt 19, versus inappropriate conduct (hugging, kissing?)), which is not.

Mr X –   I think the Bible distinguishes that sins of the heart as very different than sins of the body. For those who thought they kept the Law, Jesus exposed them as being law-breakers because of their lust. That is very different than committing adultery (fornication). I think if Lyndon was the one in question, he would not want people posting that he committed “sexual sin,” as it presents a different picture in the minds of people than what actually took place. I would say an emotional affair is obviously wrong, but a different issue. My 2c

Lyndon Unger  – ok. I can see ehat youre getting at; hatred is technically not murder…but can you tell me where the bible uses “emotional affair” as a viable category.The gory details are given by Doug Phillips himself, so the imaginations/misunderstandings of people don’t factor into the equation. People can think that he stole ten chickens, but that’s only because they ignore the publicly available facts.

I’d appreciate some understanding of Matt. 5:28, which says nothing about divorce. Conflation of two separate issues is occurring when you bring up Matt. 19.

Finally, what exactly is the context where a pastor/ministry leader can lay the lips on a woman?


Mr X –   Lydon, firstly, let me apologize for posting my concern and not emailing you privately. I am making a concerted effort to not argue with Christians in public forums, as I think it is a bad witness. However, my stubborn fallen nature keeps dragging me back (Rom 7:17), and I have to reflect on what has taken place, ask for forgiveness, and try again next time

But, to answer your question, I am not saying that he did not sin, and that he should not step down from ministry. He should, and is presently disqualified from being in leadership. My main concern was the useage of the term “sexual sin” when he clearly stated the relationship did not involve sex. So, it might just be semantics, but “every idle word” is important, and we especially need to be wary of sins of the tongue (cf. Jas 3). So, I was merely pointing that out for cautionary sake. Not to start a debate.

I do think there is major difference between desiring a woman in the heart, and actually going to bed with her (cf. 1 Cor 6:18). And I agree with Randy, and would state that if that was the case, and lust is “sexual sin” in the same way as adultery, then no man would be qualified to lead anyone.


Lyndon Unger  – Apology accepted but not necessary. I don’t believe that either of us has sinned against the other. I also wouldn’t suggest that we’re arguing; I’d consider this more swashbuckling or having public dialogue. I’m far from angry or offended, and I enjoy getting the screws from time to time. It’s good to be challenged and called to account for my words, with are careless more often than I’m likely aware.We agree that he sinned, but we’re only disagreeing on the descriptor. I was using “sexual sin” as shorthand for “sexual immorality”, and I was thinking of several passages when I tossed out the “sexual sin” label. I was thinking “sexual” in the nature of the sin, not “sexual” as in the physical act.

The verses that I was thinking about all used either porneia (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm…) and moicheuo (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm…), both of which (upon further study) explicitly have physical connotations to them, so after further searching the scriptures, I’ve discovered that I was wrong here.

It would seem the case, at least from where I stand now, that Doug Phillips is guilty of lust, but not porneia (sexual immorality). Lust is the same as far as eternal consequences, but it is not the same with regards to temporal consequences.

So, it appears that you’re actually correct in calling me out in this one.

I hate the phrase “emotional affair” because it’s a nonsense phrase that more or less appears to be an intentional softening of the situation (IMO), but thanks for straightening me out.

Mr X –   Thanks for sharing that Lyndon. Oh, and I know we are not “arguing” but the believing world does not understand that we love as brothers, but can go toe to toe with the Scriptures and that won’t change anything. I have been convicted of that lately, and I get enough friction from unbelievers as it is

Love you bro. Thanks for the discussion.


So, that’s not really the biggest faceplant on my part, but I’m documenting this just for my own sake (and the reasons I’ve stated on the Hall of Shame).  It’s a soft opening to public archiving of my faults.  Also, this reminds me of something that I learned about porneia and moicheuo that I probably will forget again.

Until Next Time,
Lyndon “I’m just a man, and a fallen (and constantly falling) one at that” Unger

29 thoughts on “Hall of Shame #1 – Doug Phillips and Vision Forum

    • Thanks for the link Karli. I posted this on another thread where we’ve swashbuckled, but I’m posting it here too. I just tossed this on Facebook and wanted to let you know I have no problem with labeling Phillips a “false teacher” now:

      Wow…within minutes of posting my first Hall of Shame entrance, I was informed of the current status of Doug Phillips and Lourdes Torres, the nanny that he sexually abused for years. I was referred to the WND archive of the whole lawsuit and meltdown. I won’t link the article because it includes a whole lot of utterly disgusting detail, but it’s called “Christian Giant sued for using nanny as sex object” if you demand evidence for what I’m about to say:

      Doug Phillips appears to have been a sexual predator, a severely depraved pedophile and a rapist since at least 1999.

      If you’ve been a part of Vision Forum, or bought their teaching material, or watched their movies, or bought into any part of Doug Phillips’ whole movement over the last 10+ years, you might want to re-evaluate anything you learned there seeing that over that entire time, Doug Philllips has never been anything but an obvious false teacher, and most likely demon possessed.

      I’d strongly recommend getting rid of your Vision Forum stuff if you have any, and talking to someone if you’re not sure what cunningly twisted ideas you might have absorbed from Doug Phillips.

      Just an update and special thanks to those who alerted me to this all.

      Thanks Karli. Thanks for the info and thanks for sticking around.

      • “Doug Phillips appears to have been a sexual predator, a severely depraved pedophile and a rapist since at least 1999.

        If you’ve been a part of Vision Forum, or bought their teaching material, or watched their movies, or bought into any part of Doug Phillips’ whole movement over the last 10+ years, you might want to re-evaluate anything you learned there seeing that over that entire time, Doug Philllips has never been anything but an obvious false teacher, and most likely demon possessed.

        I’d strongly recommend getting rid of your Vision Forum stuff if you have any, and talking to someone if you’re not sure what cunningly twisted ideas you might have absorbed from Doug Phillips.”

        I cannot thank you enough, Lyndon. This needed to be stated clearly and without whitewash or sugar-coating by a strong man of God who knows and loves the Word.

      • I hope you don’t mind my intrusion, but I haven’t seen proof that Mr. Phillips is a pedophile. I read the complaint and the young woman states that the inappropriate physical acts took place when she was over 21. Please know that I am not defending his actions, only concerned that the ninth commandment isn’t violated by Christians when discussing this situation. Now if I’ve missed something, please tell me and I’ll appreciate the correction. Thanks.

        • Well, Phillips started pursuing the girl when she was 15 (isolating her, inviting her on family trips, establishing the power relationship he had with her, etc.).

          I’m guessing that would be pedophilia.

        • Thanks for the explanation… I just think it is more prudent to wait for both sides of the story to be presented before casting such a devastating judgment as pedophilia on anyone; I have been the recipient of false accusations and I suppose this makes me proceed more cautiously.

    • Okay. I spend 45 minutes reading through that article (and the attached links) and couldn’t find anything actually nailed down with clarity. Seeing that you’re obviously more aware of the SGM goings on than I am (there are only 2 SGM churches in Canada so they’re not really “on the radar” by any stretch up here), I have a few simple questions for you:

      1. What are the actual crimes that CJ has been charged with?
      2. Who were the main people involved in the covering up of the sexual abuse?
      3. What were the actual charges laid against people who were on staff under CJ at Covenant Life Church?

      That whole article confuses the issues at hand by talking playing “guilty by association” cards left and right, then making nonsense connections with Neo-Calvinism (which isn’t even part of the issues at hand and makes the author look like she is unstable), and even links to “proof” documents that aren’t even first hand (evidence of Mr. X saying something isn’t found on another one of YOUR blog posts…you need to link to something official from Mr. X). I understand that a bunch of horrible things happened, but I cannot isolate what happened directly under CJ and what he even had the possibility of knowing about. If he was involved in sexual immorality, then I’ll gladly warn people about him. If he was personally covering up sexual sin, I’ll again gladly warn people about him.

      Right now, all I’ve found is that he *allegedly* covered up sexual sin of people in the past (with nothing actually confirmed), that he is a dictator, and that he’s an aggressive authoritarian and probably not the right guy to write the book on “humility”. As far as I can find, he’s possibly a jerk but not necessarily a false teacher.

      Also, I’d recommend against using the Wartburg Watch as a source of information. Dee and Deb know how to use Google, but using Google and doing sober and reputable research and are in different area codes.

  1. The CJ suit and SGM issue is complex. And yes it is about an American church group but their impact has been felt all over North America. Any discussion with a newbie requires a great deal of background information.
    You touched on the start of it in your Aug 24,2011 post
    Since then the Huffpo wrote http://huff.to/Rbrgvj
    and religiondispatches covered it http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispatches/guest_bloggers/7138/sovereign_grace_sexual_abuse_lawsuit_just_got_more_complicated/
    The beauty of the Interwebs is that the information is readily available if one knows how to search. use CJ Mahaney scandal
    I’m aware of your concern using WW as a source of info. They have however, along with others) meticulously documented the situation over the past year.
    My research is based on a multitude of sources and the number of links would turn into one of your 3000 word posts.
    Here is an article by Basyle “Boz” Tchividjian, Billy Graham”s grandson who runs Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) http://bit.ly/Rbq0Z4
    To answer part of the 3 questions you asked, here is a copy of the original civil lawsuit against SGM and CJ documenting the allegations.
    Back to lurking.

  2. Regarding the SGM “scandal,” your original inclination was correct about CJ’s so-called involvement. Read those linked documents with a heavy grain of salt knowing they are coming primarily from haters who want CJ skinned alive and covered in salt. I won’t say anymore at the risk of bringing in a herd of hill trolls to swamp your comment thread here. We can talk privately.

    • Karli,

      I’m waiting for some meat here.

      Something of substance that actually displays some concrete evidence about something.

      Something based on documentation that doesn’t involve linking to a second, equally speculating blog.

      Something that suggests that the Wartburg Watchers have a credible case.

      They don’t have anything yet.

      Until I can get some actual documentation and not the unrestrained whining of a bunch of autodidacts and crybabies who bluster on about their theological hangnails or simply unsubstantiated claims, I’m leaving the judging to the guys who have the facts. Those people are in the courtroom. Until then, I neither condemn nor defend CJ Mahaney.

      Also, one of my biggest pet peeves is North American “discernment dorks” plying their trade overseas. That Todd fellow was complaining about selling CJ’s books, not because of error in the content of those books, but rather due to scandal that nobody there has even heard of…in a church in Dubai? DUBAI! Talk about having your priorities off by a few thousand miles.

      What a crybaby. He really needs to take off his diaper and MAN UP.

      That’s right. I said it.

      It’s not like there’s a lot of options for Christian churches in Dubai.

      Maybe he’d be happier at the word faith cults Dubai City Church or Kings Revival Church International?

      No, he’d probably be pretty unhappy since they teach a false gospel.

      Maybe he’d be happier at the lukewarm/charismatic churches like New Covenant Church or The Dubai Evangelical Church Center or Gateway Church?

      No. I’m guessing that he’d be pretty unhappy at the fact that CJ Mahaney was a little too deep or too reformed for them.

      Maybe he’d be happy at the Fellowship of the Emirates?

      Well, he’d have to be. He’s already almost run out of Christian Churches in a city of 2 million.

      IT’S DUBAI!

      If it were Lousiville or Los Angeles, it would be a different story…

      …but DUBAI?

    • Yup. Agreed. The authority structures that CJ established were highly “abuse friendly”. That still doesn’t mean that CJ knew about it. I’ve said more on the comments you posted today so I won’t repeat myself here.

    • Who’s enabling?


      Who am I enabling? Sex offenders?

      Get real.

      Again, nothing concrete establishing that CJ was behind it all. He might have been, but he might not have been. You need facts, not anger or insinuation.

      You don’t seem to understand the leadership dynamics of a church where the pastor is an apostle. I find it easy to believe that CJ didn’t know, since he may have fired his brother-in-law and turned him over to the police and the brother-in-law knew it. I’ve worked in a church with apostolic governance and when something bad happened, everyone (including his own kids) knew that the #1 priority was “Don’t let the apostle/pastor find out”. Once he found things out, heads tended to roll.

      Did Morales do it?

      Yup. He’s sentenced and yet the victims won’t get justice…at least not in this life. Hopefully, while Morales is in prison, Morales will get saved and he won’t get justice either. He’ll just die in prison.

      Grant Layman will now get sentenced for whatever he’s guilty of (clearly failure to inform the police, for starters), and hopefully he’ll get saved in prison too (if he has been sentenced yet).

      As for CJ, I await the court’s judgment.

      Thanks for the 3 articles and tossing some new facts my way.

      • Pardon me for being obtuse and suggesting you are enabling.
        You aren’t!
        .I was referring to TGC and the culture of protection.
        Are you suggesting the southern Baptists have apostles?
        CJ is an apostle?

        • The TGC may be enabling, though I’m not totally clear on what that means.

          Southern Baptists shouldn’t have apostles, though CJ is not a Southern Baptist. SGM came out of the Calvary Chapel Movement. CJ definitely referred to himself as an apostle. He was God’s anointed leader in SGM and because of their bad theological model for leadership, CJ was above criticism or accountability and ran the roost in the place of God.

          He was a polite guy, but their ministry model was similar to the charismatic “touch not the Lord’s anointed” model. Total recipe for corruption.

    • Brent Detwiler isn’t on the inside and hasn’t been for years. He’s a whistle-blower who lost his credibility a LONG time ago.

      There’s nothing more there except talk about all the allegations, none of which are established yet. The ABP article is right on talking about civil and ecclesial church issues. Covenant Life Church’s leadership should have called the cops right away.

      Whatever the judge decides, they have begged for it and probably won’t get stiff enough penalties.

    • Okay. So Tullian thinks CJ knew about everything. Tullian has never worked in a church with an apostolic ministry model. In churches where the pastor is an apostle (like CJ’s church), the pastor isn’t first among equals: the pastor is king. In churches like that, where the “apostle/pastor” can hire and fire with impunity, people often make it their #1 job to hide things from him when something bad happens involving themselves.

      Tullian is also ticked at TGC for the recent feather-ruffling he’s gotten over his view of justification and sanctification. There’s more going on there than it seems.

      Also, the link is dead that that post has been yanked. Dunno why.

        • What a home article. That clown takes a bunch of common and broadly generic facts and strings them together into a blatant conspiracy theory implicating none other than the entire Gospel Coalition.

          Almost ever article you post on here seems to take the SGM scandal as an opportunity to attack Calvinism/the Neo-Reformed movement.

          The more you share articles like that, the more I’m convinced that people like that are as shameless as Nate Morales; vultures who seize a scandal involving the abuse of children to push their own misinformed agendas.

          It’s no mystery that many of the people who get quoted reference Al Mohler and his Calvinism, as if that’s connected in ANY rational way.

  3. Lyndon
    Time to update your Hall of Shame and add Tullian Tchividjian to the list. When I quoted him I had no idea he was involved in a personal affair.
    This is a credible source.
    Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

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