Answering Vision Forum

Vision Forum posted their letters to MCOI on Friday, September 21, 2007. This is an updated explanation of our response which follows:

On August 20, 2007 we received a letter from Vision Forum dated August 17, 2007 . It was 15 pages in length of which 3 pages were endnotes. At their request in the letter I called to confirm I had received it, typed a short response that I had received it and prepared it for mailing. A couple of hours later Wesley Strackbien and Michael Gobart called as I was leaving for a meeting. I agreed to talk for a few minutes (it ended up being nearly an hour). After receiving the letter which had been done prior to our conversation Wesley Strackbein sent another letter on August 29, 2007.

September 5, 2007

Wesley Strackbein, Managing Editor
Vision Forum Ministries
4719 Blanco Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78212

Dear Mr. Strackbein,

Again, thank you for your letter of August 17, 2007 as well as the opportunity to talk with you and Michael Gobart by phone on August 20. After completing the response to Rev. Dr. Brian Abshire’s letter of July 25, 2007 and having it reviewed by one of the Board of Directors, one of the Board of Advisors, my Senior Pastor and a Presbyterian pastor I mailed it to Dr. Abshire as well as mailing a copy to you. We will post the response on the blog with a link to Dr. Abshire’s letter on his website.

I have also let the MCOI Board of Directors and Advisory Board as well as the Board of Directors of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR) of which I am currently the President, as well as my Senior Pastor know of your concerns and am sending them copies of Rev. Dr. Brian Abshire’s letter of July 25, 2007, your August 17 letter and other pertinent material as well as a copy of our response to Rev. Dr. Brian Abshire. I will also copy them on this response which will also be reviewed prior to sending.

During the process of reviewing and discussing your August 17 letter, our August 20 telephone conversation and beginning our response I received your August 29, 2007 letter. I will address a couple of those items here and the balance a bit later on.

In paragraph 3, page 1 you write:

“At this point, it seems clear that you have not only rebuffed these appeals, but that you remain committed to a pattern of misrepresentation. Examples of this are evident: (1) in your recent blog entry: (2) your voice message and subsequent lengthy conversation with us; (3) and now in your certified letter.”

Item one seems disingenuous for it gives the impression that this is something which occurred subsequent to your original letter and/or our telephone conversation. This is something which you raised in your August 17 letter on page 8 in the last paragraph. It may be an unintentional duplication.

Regarding item 2, it is true that our telephone discussion was not mentioned in my certified letter of August 20 and the contact information for the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors were not included but there was no deceit nor was I “self-consciously omitting a key conversation…” (p 2, par. 1, August 29 letter). Rather, the letter had been written and ready to post prior to our talking. As requested on page 9, section “d,” point 1, I had included the contact information for my Senior Pastor, Richard Wollard. I did not include our doctrinal statement (an oversight on my part) which is available on our website. Please also find it included with this correspondence. I did let you know that all of the other contact information would be included in this response. It is included as an addendum as some of the contact info is home addresses which should not be made public. As you may recall, I was on my way out of the office to another meeting when you returned my call and delayed my departure in order to talk. I did not further delay leaving for the meeting in order to rewrite the letter.

As far as item 3, I am a little unclear. The letter simply acknowledged receipt of your August 17 letter and that at your request (at the end of your letter) I called your cell and acknowledged receipt. It went on to give the contact information for Pastor Richard Wollard and gave an overview of how we intended to proceed. I am not sure what this gives evidence of in your mind. You may have to clarify this one.

Regarding your August 17 letter, you have stated on page 2 that there are 2 issues, “Your Misrepresentations and Alliance with Renegades.” The synopsis of issue #1 on page 2 you give is:

“You Have Broken the Ninth Commandment and Have Lovingly Been Called to Repentance by Dr. Brian Abshire, Pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church.”

By this time you should have received a copy of our response to Dr. Abshire which either is or shortly will be posted to our blog. Therefore I will not belabor what has already been addressed.

Regarding issue #2 you give as a synopsis on page 3:

“You Have Publicly Aligned Yourself with and Drawn Support from Individuals Who Have Been Excommunicated for ongoing Unrepentant Sins and Who Have Demonstrated a Pattern of Continued Sinful and Lawless Activities Since their Excommunication, as Affirmed by Several Jurisdictional Entities.”

1) On pages 4 & 5 there are 17 assertions lodged against Mark and Jennifer Epstein with 20 endnotes. As of the time of this writing we have not been able to contact the individuals or organizations cited in order to validate the claims and assertions or spend a great deal of time reviewing the Internet sites listed. We had a similar problem when Jennifer originally contacted us about Doug Phillips and BCA (Boerne Christian Assembly). We were clear in our discussion that simply because an individual claimed a church or organization is abusive doesn’t mean that it is. Over the years we have been contacted about a number of churches and organizations with claims of abuse and upon investigation confirmed that the church and/or organization had acted appropriately and within biblical guidelines. We were also clear that at present we do not have the available resources to devote to BCA and it isn’t always appropriate or biblical to intrude without permission into matters of a local church. If I understand your letter correctly many of Jennifer and Mark Epstein’s charges regarding Doug Phillips and BCA are publicly available. I will forward your letter to them that they may be aware of Vision Forum’s charges against them as well.

2) Since you have raised this issue another question surfaces. Is it your position that the local church the highest authority in matters of excommunication?

3) I am not sure what these issues have to do with the content of the article. A portion of the article dealt with position papers which are publicly available on Vision Forum’s website and had nothing whatever to do with BCA. Neither Jennifer nor Mark Epstein provided any research, writing or input in to the article.

This brings me to the second part of this issue which has a synopsis on page 6:

“UNDENIABLE EVIDENCE: Your Alliance with Notorious Internet Assassins and Church Excommunicants is Irrefutable”

Regarding point #1. It is true that Jennifer Epstein requested a copy of the article in advance of its official printing. It was in the final stages of edit and layout at the time. It is not unusual for individuals or organizations to request a review copy of a project we are working on as it is being completed. It is also true that she requested permission to reproduce it to take to a home schooling convention. In light of it being a couple of weeks away from being published we didn’t see any reason to not give permission. She wasn’t acting in any official capacity for MCOI. Your citation xxv in page 15 confirms that we gave permission, but you provide nothing other than your assertion that she was acting as our agent or in concert with us.

Regarding point #2, you indicate in xxiii on page 15 that Jennifer “was cited with a criminal trespass warning” and in xxvi quote Jennifer as confirming this fact. Was MCOI implicated or cited by the authorities? Was there anything communicated to the authorities by Jennifer that she was acting under any authority than her own or in concert with any organization, specifically MCOI?

In point #3 you assert that we posted our articles on the Ministry Watchman website, however, the citation given in xxvii on page 5 clearly states:

“The following article has been republished here with the permission of the author, Don Veinot.”

Giving permission to someone else, whether a book author, magazine journalist or website operator to reproduce our material in part or in whole is not that same as posting it ourselves.

On point #4, the emails were written, as you point out, as private emails. The first was published with my permission and mentions that due to 2 articles, the one concerning Vision Forum and the one about G12, we have done something we have never done before and that is to upload the Journal to our website. I don’t recall ever saying anything about being “pleased” although I have been and have stated that I have been surprised. This is also mentioned in the second private email which was posted (I don’t recall if permission to post that one had been requested or not). Contrary to point 5 of your August 17, 2007 letter, we do not have a practice of making appeals for funds. Instead we stated how fiscal year closed out to those who expressed interest.

As to point #6:

“The Epsteins have written extensively about their communication and working relationship with you.”

Your endnote xxxi does not seem to support it:

“Jennifer states several times on her blog that she is communicating with you. There are comments that either express or intimate the same on the Epstein family’s other blogsites.”

As we reviewed and discussed this we are unclear how “several” equals “extensive” and how “communicating with you” equals “working relationship with you.”

On point #7:

“You have permitted comments by the Epsteins on your own website.”

There are many who post on our website, and due to time and resource constraints we have chosen to do very limited moderation of blog comments. Some we agree with and some we don’t. For example, Gwen Shamblin’s attorney (Weigh Down Workshop/Remnant Fellowship), spent a great deal of time posting and interacting with others. For the most part we do very limited moderation. We try to ensure that spam does not get through. Those who post are entitled to their beliefs but cannot be nasty or vulgar and must be prepared to be challenged by those who disagree. We don’t see why Jennifer Epstein would be treated any differently than anyone else.

This brings us to page 7:

“IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: Your Opportunity to Set the Record Straight”


“a. Preliminary Question Regarding Your Alliances with Lawless Individuals”

In response to question #1:

A) You have not demonstrated that we are “teaming up with unscrupulous individuals.”
B) Again: are you saying that the local church the highest authority in matters of excommunication?
C) Having experience with some who have falsely accused local churches of tyranny as well as individuals who have been spiritually abused by tyrannical leadership we do not as a rule take sides without having the opportunity to properly investigate. That is true here as we have not sided with either the Epsteins or BCA.
D) Up to this point anything we have written with regard to Vision Forum was based on information available on its publicly accessible website.

On points 2 through 4, we would not approve of anonymous attacks. Everything we do we do publicly. Even our private correspondence is sometimes posted, as you are aware. We assume no responsibility for anything anyone else does. Since you have provided a list of Vision Forum accusations, as we have time and available resources we will attempt to follow up on them. We will do the same with any claims that Jennifer and Mark Epstein now choose to submit.

On section “b”:

“Questions Pertaining to an Apparent Lack of Integrity on Your Part Regarding Your Responsibilities toward the Local Church, Pastors and Brothers at Vision Forum Ministries”

On question #1, B & C above will serve as a response. On question #2, as previously stated, we didn’t look into accusations about Boerne Christian Assembly nor did we write about them. We did not and other than making the assertion you have not demonstrated that we solicited “…the aid of a couple adjudged to be treated as ‘heathen and publicans…,’” We do believe that absent a higher court of authority than the local church in matters of excommunication, believers need other agencies to contact for assistance and guidance. It is the case that some local churches act in unbiblical, tyrannical and spiritually abusive ways.

On question #3, this has already been responded to.

Regarding question #4, our question in the article revolved around the claim of practicing “biblical patriarchy.” We demonstrated from the Bible how patriarchy was practiced biblically and wondered if that is what Vision Forum is advocating? If it is not and there is a biblical patriarchy that is different than what we find in the Bible but is as is claimed part of the “grand sweep of revelation” (“Tenants of Biblical Patriarchy,”, par. 5) and that “faithfulness to Christ requires that it be believed, taught, and lived,” (ibid) that we would be able to find it in the Bible. Something that the Bible supposedly requires to be believed, taught and lived should be abundantly plain and clear, particularly if it is part of the “grand sweep of revelation.” In addition we raised the question of women voting. As we pointed out in our response to Dr. Abshire, in the paragraph immediately preceding the one we quoted we read, “God does not allow women to vote (cf. 1 Tim. 2:11 ff).” Aside from being unable to figure out how 1 Tim. 2:11 supports the claim, wouldn’t that mean that if a woman votes she is doing something that God presently (“does not” is a statement in the present tense) allow? If the assertion is true, then by voting she would be sinning. On the other hand, if she is not sinning than isn’t the assertion false?

Back to your most recent letter, August 29, 2007, much of it is a restatement of claims and question of your August 17, 2007 letter and has been responded to in the foregoing. With regard to #1 on page 2:

“You Were Unwilling to Provide Contact Information for your Board in a Timely Manner”

If by “timely” you mean at the precise moment of the request, even if it meant further delaying a previously scheduled meeting which you had been made aware of before we began the discussion, then the answer is yes. I was not willing to further inconvenience someone with whom I had a prior obligation when I could comply with your request within what most people would consider a reasonable amount of time. Furthermore, I did tell you that the contact information would be in this response both on the phone and in a letter which had been completed prior to my preparing to leave for the meeting which I delayed in order to talk to you.

On point 2:

“You Were Unwilling to Acknowledge That We Are Your Christian Brothers”

On this one I am completely baffled. I have never said or indicated that you were not. We haven’t even said that Bill Gothard is not a Christian. We believe that in spite of his false teaching that he is.

Regarding our Statement of Faith, please refer to Addendum #1 (this is also available on the website).

See Addendum #2 for the contact information for the Board of Directors and Advisory Board for MCOI.

Yours in His Service,
Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.

L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr.

Cc: Rev. Dr. Brian Abshire
MCOI Board of Directors
MCOI Advisory Board
EMBR Board of Directors
Mark and Jennifer Epstein
MacGregor Ministries
Pastor Richard Wollard, Meadowland Community Church
Pastor Paul Winters, Spring Valley Presbyterian Church
MCOI Crux Blog

Another article on the Vision Forum website that may be of interest is: How to Respond to a Tale-Bearer: Dr. Brian Abshire Models an Apologetic of Sound Reasoning and Christian Charity for Family Reformers.


Answering Vision Forum — 39 Comments

  1. Incredible….just incredible!

    “It was 15 pages in length of which 3 pages were endnotes. ”


    I really am at a loss for words. It is all so very one-sided. Who calls them to repentance? Who do they answer to? Who calls them on the carpet when they don’t provide requested information in a “timely” manner (which has been the case with me and many others who have tried to contact them)?

    “You Were Unwilling to Provide Contact Information for your Board in a Timely Manner””

    Don, was the whole letter written in these odd title-like charges? This is really an odd way of writing. It reminds me of the newsletters I received from ATI when Bill Gothard was relating 5 steps to this or 8 steps to that. It is the same sort of format. And was this letter written by Strackbein?

    ““Questions Pertaining to an Apparent Lack of Integrity on Your Part Regarding Your Responsibilities toward the Local Church, Pastors and Brothers at Vision Forum Ministries””

    Lack of integrity on your part regarding your responsibilities to the local church, pastors and brothers/sisters???? Do they have any responsibilities? Or does this sort of thing only flow one way (their way)?

    I just have nothing to say at this point because this response is just so over the top.

    It appears as if they see themselves as above doing what they require of everyone else.

    I would like to see the letter in its entirety. I do hope they make it available.

  2. Wesley Strackbein:
    “You have permitted comments by the Epsteins on your own website.”

    So much nonsense, so little time. Many things stood out in that letter you responded to, Don, and this probably wasn’t the major one, but Don won’t say it, so I will — Strackbein’s comment was ill-advised to the point of being asnine.

    They want to teach biblical patriarchy isn’t overreaching authoritarianism? That this teaching of Vision Forum means they are true servant leaders in the church and evangelists to the world?

    If so, then, Wesley, you really ought to allow that after people are excommunicated, and you consider them to be unbelievers, with the same rights and privileges in the United States of America that you would have, then you don’t hound Christian blog owners and put them down because they allow said excommunicants to (gasp) post on blogs or talk on the internet, as though God up above means for us to take excommunication this far. This blog is not a church meeting, for crying out loud!

    Of course, you all know what I think about your so-called “excommunication” of the Epsteins, but that isn’t the issue.

    The point of this comment is that your overreaching attempts at controlling others and abusive authoritarian tactics are showing. I mean, I know you didn’t have Don shaking in his boots with that stupid comment, but I am angry, thinking of the others who would have been cowering at such words, ready to do whatever you illegitemately try to tell or insinuate to them that they should or shouldn’t be doing.

  3. “The point of this comment is that your overreaching attempts at controlling others and abusive authoritarian tactics are showing.”


    This is what I saw in the Strackbein letter to Don.

    It looks like a legal document (or it was made to LOOK like a legal document so as to intimidate). 15 pages????

    Seeing how they have treated MCO and Sharper Iron and Andrew Sandlin and Barbara Curtis (I know, Jennie isn’t associated with VF/BCA) and others who dare to disagree, do we have any doubts left as to the heavy-handed tactics they use to try and silence those who disagree?

    I wonder how big their filing cabinet is in order to keep all those files on all the people who allow Jen to post on their blogs and on all the people who have posted on Jen’s blog or who have written about this situation. (I know, they probably don’t have a filing cabinet but all the “evidence” is kept on a big harddrive. I am anticipating the arguments and that is why I am clarifying now instead of later….)

  4. Strackbein:
    “You Have Publicly Aligned Yourself with and Drawn Support from Individuals Who Have Been Excommunicated for ongoing Unrepentant Sins and Who Have Demonstrated a Pattern of Continued Sinful and Lawless Activities Since their Excommunication, as Affirmed by Several Jurisdictional Entities.”

    Corrie, I just noticed the all caps — like a bunch of titles, as you said.

    Don responded:
    “1) On pages 4 & 5 there are 17 assertions lodged against Mark and Jennifer Epstein with 20 endnotes.

    [Snip part where Don explains that he is not going to get MCO involved with the BCA/Epstein issue, at least not at this time.]

    If I understand your letter correctly many of Jennifer and Mark Epstein’s charges regarding Doug Phillips and BCA are publicly available. I will forward your letter to them that they may be aware of Vision Forum’s charges against them as well.”

    I think Wesley has just given Jen’s blog a huge supply of issues to talk about for at least the next several weeks of time.

    Having read Jen’s blog thorougly, I know that the trespassing charge (mentioned above) was sprung on her, as she DID have permission from one of the staff at that Arlington convention to do what she was doing, and she named the people involved, and got the thing on video. So it’s pretty obvious to me that was a very petty, uncharitable thing they did to her. I am more guilty, for example, in the (one) time I was pulled over for speeding, for at least I knew that I was out of bounds.

    But neither that Presbyterian Church, nor Living Water Fellowship, nor Peacmakers has affirmed a “pattern of continued sinful and lawless activites.” To date, they have said nothing specific, and did not detail what these things are. The BCA statement only has that Jen believes in sinless perfection, but after hundreds of emails in our private Bible study loop (which Don Veinot is not a part of), it doesn’t strike me that she believes that particular doctrine, and besides, what she said about IT that made BCA say that about HER was said in a private counseling session, so I remain unclear about just what the sinful and lawless activites are, and that is Jen’s question as well.

    She has constantly asked for specifics, and all we are treated to are these dire screeds against them that look bad but never say anything. Intentionally vague snow-jobs, both from BCA, Brian Abshire, and Wesley Strackbein.

  5. Don,
    Based on this response it looks as though Vision Forum’s letters COMPLETELY ignore the content of the article/critique in your ministry’s journal. Is that actually the case? Have you been able to discuss ANY of the issues you raised with regard to their doctrine and teaching, or is your correspondence entirely focussed on this alleged relationship with the Epsteins?

  6. In addition to intimidation, lengthy documentation from an attorney also consumes a tremendous amount of the time of their opponent. This is a “time-honored” tactic of attorneys (ha, ha, ha). (I wonder if Strackbien either completed or is enrolled in one of those Bill Gothard law school programs?) I could get a few more jokes out of that statement, but I’ll let them pass.

    The whole first page of the Journal article I read discussed how difficult it is to discuss matters of error within Christian circles, so I find this statement that Veinot does not acknowledge them as brethren to be rediculous. Is it possible that they read the wrong article?

    Corrie (In the third response) includes Sharper Iron in the list of those who’ve voiced their concerns about Vision Forum. It is interesting to note that several of the various articles that have accumulated over many years pertaining to Doug Phillips are no longer online on their site. Many of them have disappeared since the Spring MCO Journal went online. It could be that they just did some housekeeping, but I find it interesting that dated articles have been taken off their site.

  7. In terms of your question with the church having absolute authority that is precisely what they have asserted. Moreover they have even indicated that other church’s which are required not to hold that position have taken it in the Epstein case.

    Here is an article I wrote about at the time regarding this. I reference BCA’s publication of a letter by Faith.

    And of course this is very useful for Jen. Its confirmation regarding the whole Doug Phillips connection which is one of her key assertions, that is that BCA is run like a non profit subsidiary of Vision Forum. Jen wasn’t excommunicated by Vision Forum (which is a company not a church), but by BCA. Why would Vision Forum be insistent upon enforcing BCA’s actions?

  8. Don, this letter is just over the top!

    I find it interesting that they could spend all this time and energy writing this nonsense and demand so much of you when they repeatedly ignore all the REAL concerns about their movement that so many of us have expressed.

    I continue to bang my head against the wall…so much to really discuss and debate and absolutely no willingness to do so….pardon, but their arrogance is showing.

  9. Eric said, “Based on this response it looks as though Vision Forum’s letters COMPLETELY ignore the content of the article/critique in your ministry’s journal. Is that actually the case? ”

    The answer is yes. Other than asserting we misrepresented them they said that Brian Abshire had addressed that and moved on to shifting the focus to trying to make connections that didn’t exist. As I said, it would be great for them to post their letter but I don’t expect they will.

  10. Don, I am truly sorry that you are guilty for associating with such a lawless renegade as myself. Of course, I barely know you or anything about you, but I guess that doesn’t stop Vision Forum from linking us together. I just have to wonder, if they thought we were already so closely linked together, why they found it necessary to spend 15 pages telling you about a renegade you are already in alliance with. Wouldn’t you already know all those things about me?

    Corrie: “I know, Jennie isn’t associated with VF/BCA”

    You’d be surprised, Corrie! Sometimes those behind-the-scenes associations are stronger than what’s up front.

    CD-Host: “Jen wasn’t excommunicated by Vision Forum (which is a company not a church), but by BCA. Why would Vision Forum be insistent upon enforcing BCA’s actions?”

    Good point! But I have not only been banned from Vision Forum, a business, but from FEAST, another business here in town. Maybe if Doug thinks he can get all the businesses I frequent to excommunicate me as well that I will leave town!

    Don, I apologize for making you sin by my posting this comment on your blog. I should just be a good, submissive woman and go talk about fuzzy kitties and peach pies on Prairie Muffin blogs now!

  11. Don:
    “Other than asserting we misrepresented them they said that Brian Abshire had addressed that and moved on to shifting the focus to trying to make connections that didn’t exist.”

    This is a house of cards they are building, easily knocked over. It reminds me of how Matt Chancey started mrsbinoculars. He tried to get his audience to believe that two different pictures were the same person. He tried to make it out as though masthead picture of the MinistryWatchman blog is Jen Epstein’s picture. He didn’t prove it at all, and it has been repeatedly denied, but after *seeming* to prove it, he moved on from there and based the rest of his site on that first, unproven entry.

    Same thing here. Without dealing with your reasons why you didn’t see the need to do what Brian Abshire told you you needed to do, they just skip past everything you said in response to Brian as though it meant nothing, and they continue to attack, attack, attack.

  12. Don,
    Are you somehow barred from posting the Vision Forum letters yourself, or are you simply unwilling to give them so much space on your website? I wouldn’t want you to get into any kind of legal trouble, but I wouldn’t want the Vision Forum crowd to think that they can say or do whatever they want with impunity, simply because they put their misbehavior into “private” correspondence.

    On a personal note… I was first exposed to your ministry when I dug up an archived Issues Etc. radio program. You were discussing Bill Gothard with Pastor Todd Wilken in St. Louis maybe three or four years ago. I was impressed with your work and your demeanor back then, and I’m very glad to see you engaged with Vision Forum in this way. Keep up the good work!

  13. Eric asked:

    “Are you somehow barred from posting the Vision Forum letters yourself, or are you simply unwilling to give them so much space on your website?”

    This is a little thorny due to copyright laws. Often times the way we receive letters of this type is done in such a way that we can post them (and have) but this one didn’t have the kind of wording which unwittingly gives us permission to post it. We can quote from it (Fair Use) in research and writing. I think for the very reason that we would like it posted, accountability to the Body of Christ, is the very reason they won’t post it.

    Thank you for the encouragement and blessings!

  14. Oh my word, I just read that letter and continue to be amazed. There is still no public refutation of the facts that were presented in Don’s original article. To read all that mumbo jumbo gives the impression that Don said something outrageously scandalous about VF when, in fact, he was simply questionning their teachings. And it always comes down to this, doesn’t it. Because they state repeatedly that their views are “presuppositional” and part of the “grand sweep of revelation” they believe they are above reproach. That’s it….that is their interpretation of this verse….above reproach means no one should even question them. Wow.

  15. Thatmom,

    “There is still no public refutation of the facts that were presented in Don’s original article. To read all that mumbo jumbo gives the impression that Don said something outrageously scandalous about VF when, in fact, he was simply questioning their teachings.”

    This is exactly correct.

    I am just going back through that article and I am hard-pressed to find why so many knickers are in a twist.

    Don, you no longer have to use a quote from a teenage girl from 10 years ago to show that VF teaches that women are “to hold only her husband or father’s opinion”. (Even though Chalcedon, of which Abshire is a part (or was a part), as a “SCHOLAR” published this article complicity showing their approval of such statements. I would expect that if a scholar disagrees with such things, then that article would not have been published. I am disappointed that he did not apologize for what was said in that article on behalf of the scholars at Chalcedon instead of sluffing it off as just the work of some silly teenage girl. After all, she didn’t sneak the article into the publication unawares, did she? I know if I, the adult, were publishing a scholarly paper and someone wrote that God takes the backseat to the father and that the father’s will for the daughter is always God’s will for the daughter and that the father owns the daughter like he would own property, I would have not allowed it to be published. Can they fault readers for taking what they say at face value? I think not! Look around the internet via a simple Google search and see that people all over are taking that article the same way.)

    For up-to-date quotes, you can simply go to the Botkin girls’ new book and website to see where it tells girls that Proverbs tells them to give their father their heart and that this means that daughters are to make their father’s vision, desires, dreams, wishes their very own. Doug highly recommends the work of these girls.

    “You’ve probably heard many times that you need to “give your heart to your parents.” What does it actually mean to give your parents your heart?

    The heart, called “the seat of the affections,” is the source of all passions, desires, loves, interests, likes and dislikes, convictions and opinions. Proverbs 23:26 says, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”

    God wants our hearts and all that they contain to be surrendered to our parents – and ultimately to God – to be molded and directed. Making yourself vulnerable in this way requires Trust. You must trust your parents, that they ultimately desire what is best for you, and that they are qualified to lead you and guide you simply because they are your parents chosen by God to raise you.

    It also requires Faith. Faith that God will lead you through your parents, imperfect though they are. And faith in God’s promised blessings for your obedience.

    When your parents have your heart you will truly “delight in their ways.” You will love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even “think their thoughts after them.”

    This is called “seeking after the hearts of your parents” just as King David was “a man after God’s own heart.” ”

    Not to mention the theology behind these words. David’s seeking after God’s heart is a admonition and example for us to seek our parents’ heart?

    Where does the Bible tell us to do this? Where do the gospels put this much emphasis on a father and his vision and adult children pouring their life into making their father successful?

    There is NOTHING wrong with being a source of strength to one’s parents or working for a family business but saying that this is the lot for every child and then slapping on a few bible verses that don’t even teach this?

    These girls are not speaking about young children or children under the age of 18 but of adult children, even children that are in their twenties (how about unmarried children in their thirties, forties, fifties, etc?).
    They tell us on their website that 4 of the 5 Botkin children still living at home are in their twenties. All of them have made their father’s vision their own vision: “We all have taken our father’s vision and made it our own.”

    “As we become older, we shouldn’t become more independent of our families; we ought to become more involved with our families. After all our parents’ years of investing in us, we finally have something substantial to contribute to their mission. Now is when we need to throw ourselves, our minds, our skills, our gifts, our passions, and our identities behind our parents’ success.”

    “We’re not ready to consider ourselves eligible for marriage until we’ve learned to trust an imperfect individual with our lives. To communicate with a man, which will always be a struggle. To submit to an imperfect man’s “whims” as well as his heavy requirements. To order our lives around another person. To accept the burdens a man places on us cheerfully. To esteem and reverence and adore a man whose faults we can see clearly every day.

    These are things we will face every day as wives, just as we face them every day now as the daughters of our fathers.”

    A woman is to submit to a man’s “whims” and “heavy requirements” as if those two things are something within the scope of a husband’s or father’s authority to require of his wife or daughters? Is this what the Bible teaches? This should NOT be the case in a godly marriage or in a godly home. Fathers and husbands should never expect their wives and daughters to submit to their “whims” and to think it is their right to lay “heavy requirements” upon them. This doesn’t sound like ‘servant leadership’ which is exactly what the Tenets of Patriarchy teach they believe.

    What the Bible does teach is that a husband is to be concerned about pleasing his wife and a wife is to be concerned about pleasing her husband. This sort of thing is a two-way street, or at least it should be in a godly marriage that depicts Christ and His Church.

  16. “To submit to an imperfect man’s “whims” as well as his heavy requirements. To order our lives around another person. To accept the burdens a man places on us cheerfully.”

    I am just pondering this backwards picture of a “servant leader” and I am struck with the words of Christ when He told us to:

    Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
    —Matthew 11:29-30

    Where do we get a picture of our Heavenly Bridegroom placing “heavy requirements” and “burdens” upon our shoulders? It sounds more like what the Pharisees did to the people under them. Christ rebuked the Pharisees for doing this- for loading up heavy burdens on the backs of the people.

    If marriage is to be a very DIM picture of Christ and the Church, shouldn’t we see something else being taught?

    Look up the word “whim” in the dictionary and thesaurus and it is not a good thing. What message are the men getting when they read these things written by these young women?

    Is it a wonder that so many are not getting married or are choosing to stay single when marriage is painted like this?

    Again, what VF teaches under the term “servant leadership” does not match up to all the other teachings. They are concerned about the minimization of the husband/father but they have no problem minimizing the wife/mother in the process.

  17. Don, I know you are concerned about false teaching and abusive authoritarianism both. These letters you received are an example of their extreme autocratic views in action — for example you are bad because you let the Epsteins comment on your blog. Another known person who testified to this kind of behavior is Andrew Sandlin, and (gasp) I am going to post most of his comment from (gasp) Jen Epstein’s blog over here:


    “But certain men like Phillips have a history of ecclesial bullying and autocracy. David Bahnsen and I experienced first-hand his and his boy-staff’s bullying when we publicly exposed his erroneous statement uttered about a conference hosted by the Southern California Center for Christian Studies that both David and I attended and supported.

    Phillips wrote that a true apologetic presuppositionalist (like Bahnsen’s late father Greg) must be a third-party supporter (as in Phillips’ own father’s Constitution Party) and that SCCCS was betraying its legacy by not endorsing third parties.

    When David responded publicly that his father was a true apologetic presuppositionalist and a dedicated Republican his entire life, calling Phillips to account for his misleading comments, Phillips threatened to sue the Study Center.

    One of the SCCCS trustees, a godly and patient man, asked us to remove David’s response to Phillips so that the matter could be privately settled, a course on which Phillips had agreed.

    No sooner had Bahnsen’s exposé of Phillips been removed than he lost interest in pursuing the matter and simply slammed the door in the face of this godly trustee, who sadly acknowledged to Bahnsen and me, “You and David were right about Phillips.”

    Make no mistake: I respect principled third-party supporters.

    I have no respect for Phillips, in my opinion an unprincipled and unethical man.

    Too many churchmen refuse to speak out against such tyranny; thank God for the faithful few who stand with God’s law-word against such ubiquitous evils.”

    Don and MCO, thank you for standing against such things as well.

  18. From Wesley’s letter, which I found on Jen’s site:
    Wesley and Vision Forum accused Jen that she:

    “Worked with “Christian” White Separatists to advance their agenda of gossip and lies against men and ministries.”

    Now here’s an interesting link to look at. I found it today when looking searching “Kinism Constitution Party.”

    Here is some information from the link, and an advertisement in the sidebar:

    “Apologia Bookstore”
    “What is Kinism? – Harry Seabrook”

    “Republicans & Democrats: taking you down the same dead end highway at different paces. Vote for real change! Vote Constitution Party!”

    Wesley, you know very well Doug Phillips allies with Christian White Separatists too, via the Constitution Party.

    We all know you are guilty of what you accuse Jen of doing, and all she’s done is post a few times on one of their blog sites.

    YOUR ties and alliances with White Separatists, however, run MUCH deeper and have FAR MORE implications for our country and its future than Jen’s comments on kinists blogs would EVER have.

    It’s very clear to me that the reason Matt Chancey, who is employed by Doug Phillips’ brother Brad, wrote the mrsbinoculars site, is to try to divert attention away from just how deep YOUR connections to White Separatists go, Wesley Strackbein!

  19. Corrie wrote:

    “You Were Unwilling to Provide Contact Information for your Board in a Timely Manner””

    Don, was the whole letter written in these odd title-like charges? This is really an odd way of writing. It reminds me of the newsletters I received from ATI when Bill Gothard was relating 5 steps to this or 8 steps to that. It is the same sort of format. [. . .]

    That was one of my first reactions exactly.

    What is it with the Frankly Presumptuous and Self-Important-Sounding Unnecessarily Capitalization of Words? Indeed and absolutely — the style is a direct mimickry, intentional or not, of the Goth-Spiritual-Literature-style.

    Truly, nothing is new under the sun …

    Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for substantive objections to anything Don Veinot and others have written about VF’s actual doctrines about wives’ subjugation to husbands, fathers’ “ownerships” of their daughters and the rest of this folderol.

    Is this all they have had to offer thus far? or have they answered based on actual issues in some other venue, which I have simply not yet found?

    Or can we expect merely more ad hominem attacks against the Epsteins as a primary “rebuttal” technique?

  20. Don-

    Keep up the good work. The responses that you are receiving from Vision Forum and Doug Phillips are telling and very typical.

    They are unwilling to address your questions or defend their aberrant doctrines, yet they expect you to answer a multitude of questions designed to waste your time.

    I hope you will take the stand that Nehemiah did when dealing with Sanballat, Tobiah and Gersham.

    Do not allow them to distract you from the work of The Lord.

    A civil dialogue includes both parties answer questions and clarifying concerns.

    I would suggest any responses made to their ridiculous letter be a redirection back to the issues regarding this most recent brand of heretical and extra-biblical “Gothardic and Legalistic Gnosticism”.

    In Christ,


  21. “Hutch,” you’re not the “Hutch,” perchance, are you? 😉

    Regardless, it is encouraging to me, as I’m sure it is to Don as well, to hear your expressions of support.

    The Nehemiah comparison in particular is wonderfully apt! Perhaps nowhere else in Scripture are we given such insight, in first-person perspective and everything, into the mind of a man who is attempting to rebuild the walls of his civilization — literally in his case — and must face political and rhetorical opposition from those (even on his “own side”) who would seek to oppose that effort.

  22. “UNDENIABLE EVIDENCE: Your Alliance with Notorious Internet Assassins and Church Excommunicants is Irrefutable”

    Don, if the following link is true, that people associated with Vision Forum through the NCFIC are under church discipline, then this makes Doug’s and Wesley’s letter to you, once again, breathtakingly hypocritical:

    Do you know if this link is for real or not?

  23. If that link is true, then Vision Forum is beyond hypocritical, for while the Epsteins have no official connection to MCOI, nor did Don use any of the Epsteins’ material in his Journal article, Scott Brown, who apparently has been rebuked by his former church, and has fled proper accountability, DOES have official connections to Doug Phillips and Vision Forum.

  24. First of all, the document ( is a true document. It was read (on two different Sundays) and then affirmed by the congregation.

    Why is it that Doug Phillips rails against Christians who behave, according to him, in an unBrotherly manner. His own (or rather NCFIC’s own) Voddie Baucham has said, as reported by Scott Brown (the poster, David Brown, is Scott’s son who handles his dad’s blog for him),

    SEPTEMBER 28, 2005
    Voddie Baucham – Apologist for Biblical Order in Church and Home

    Houston Uniting Church and Family Conference

    Great Voddie Baucham Quotes from the Houston Conference:

    “Modern youth ministry is grossly unbiblical and a detrement to the strength of the family. Since 1970 the number of youth pastors has grown exponentially, while the number of youth baptisms has declined. Modern youth ministry does a pathetic job. It simply does not work.”

    “The immodesty in these youth ministries is rampant. I took my family to Disney world and saw so much flesh we thought we were at a church youth camp.”

    “Our public schools are anti Christian by Federal mandate.’


    Why is it that Vision Forum ministries gets away with the very things that Doug (and, indeed Scott Brown – just see his sermon archives at Hope Baptist Church) does? Is it not the height of unBrotherly-ness to make jeering comments like that? Not to mention, where are the hard numbers to back up those statements?

    And again, in this next entry, Scott calls CCC “on the carpet” for the error of egalitarianism. It doesn’t mention that he called them up to discuss the charge, first. And if he views it as an error, why doesn’t he follow the Matthew 18 process with its leadership? (It is obviously offending him!) This is something they have demanded for themselves in the past!

    SEPTEMBER 25, 2005
    Campus Crusade Rejects Creation Order Roles

    Campus Crusade For Christ, perhaps the largest evangelical parachurch organization in the world, has issued a new statement of ministry practices that is thoroughly egalitarian. They have followed in the footsteps of Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship and YWAM by rejecting gender role distinctions and restrictions. This is a direct rejection of clear biblical statements that describe the gender role distinctions in the creation order mandates.

    Here are the key statements from the document:


    1. An organizational leadership structure, based upon men and women leading together, is the norm at the local level.

    2. It is normative for both men and women to express their spiritual gifts in teaching the Bible within mixed gender contexts.

    3. Men and women hold positions of organizational leadership over both men and women.

    This is in complete opposition to biblical teaching.

    1 Timothy 2:12, Let a woman learn in silence. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, but to be in silence.

    I Corinthians 14:34, Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

    Now, if you go to an American university, you not only get an education that is anti-christian by federal mandate, but you also get flagship christian ministries rejecting biblical roles by the mandate of their leaders. Rejecting a word of scripture anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, is rejecting a word of Christ. I pray for a Campus Crusade for Christ.


    These are pretty strong accusations! And yet, we do not read that Scott tried to bring these brothers back to the truth of Scripture – he’s merely content to assassinate them from the comfort of his own living room.

    We are baffled that Doug’s and Scott’s followers do not see this hypocrisy. Do they really believe that the ends (church/believers operating/living according to how they interpret Scripture) justify the means – any means?

  25. Well, Bondservants says this is a true document, and I have not found anything to say it isn’t, and if it isn’t, it should have been said by now that it isn’t. So although that is no proof of the matter (to claim something is true because it hasn’t been shown to be false), I’m inclined, at this time, to accept that site as stating accurately the church’s position on Scott Brown. It is a real church, and they issued a rebuke to him, and have stated that he is unrepentant of sins he needs to repent of. And if I were so inclined (I’m not) I could call them to find out more.

    This situation with Scott Brown is interesting in light of Don’s question to Brian Abshire:

    “2) Since you have raised this issue another question surfaces. Is it your position that the local church the highest authority in matters of excommunication?”

    I don’t recall that Abshire answered this one, but it appears on the face of it, at this time, that Doug Phillips would have to say “no” to this question.

    I mean, if he doesn’t think anything of this particular church issuing a warning about Scott Brown and openly stating that he is not repentant of specific, named sins, then Doug Phillips thinks the local church CAN be fluffed off in matters of public rebuke, and warning, at least. Excommunication should fall into the same circle as what was said about Scott Brown, too.

    If the Scott Brown situation is true, and if you agree that what was stated about Brown and excommunication are in the same class, then there are two choices here:

    Doug Phillips decides HIMSELF who *should* be under church discipline and which discipline should be *ignored*,


    Doug is going by the BIBLE, which is the evangelical Protestant’s source of authority in this matter, and he understands from the facts of a given case which is a true discipline, and which is a false discipline, based on clear teaching of Scripture.

    If it is the latter case (which I seriously doubt) it would be VERY interesting to know why Doug thinks his excommunication of the Epstein family should be iron-clad truth that is never questioned, and is not something he has to answer for, ever, and why he thinks what this other church did to Scott Brown is unbiblical, and something he can ignore.

    Well, I’m engaging in fantastic musings and speculation here, and I’d better stop.

    Just wanted to note the disparity over how these two cases of church discipline are being treated by Vision Forum is glaring, and appears very inconsistent at this time.

  26. I ended-up here after doing a Goggle search unrelated to the issues being discussed.

    Even if everything stated by the people posting here is accurate, I observe many incidents of ungodly gossiping taking place here. Many of you need to repent, especially where you are only speculating.

    After reading these posts, I am wondering if I am on a Christian website. Is this just a place for disgruntled people to congregate?

  27. Where will the patriarchal movement go? It is hard telling. It seems very likely that it will continue to become more strident as others look at their writings and challenge their conclusions. It is beginning to and if it continues in the direction it seems to be headed will become the “plumbline” by which true Christians (those who practice patriarchy) will separate themselves from false Christians (those who don’t). Along the way to creating modern day fiefdoms many will be hurt and the cause of the gospel will suffer in an increasingly pagan world. >>>>

    It is egalitarian teachings that are becoming the norm by which all other teachings are judged as true or false, abusive or not.

    I think that you are still out of touch with where the church really is, since you continue to avoid the subject of egalitarian feminism and its neo-Gnosticism.

  28. Gregory wondered if he was on a Christian Website. I wonder if Gregory is a Christian. If a man thinks that it is unchristian to put your finger on a mans chest and challenge his hypocrisy then that man obviously does not know much about Jesus of Nazareth. That man should read Matthew 23 one of many instances of Jesus’ head on collisions with the bad character and bad doctrine of the religious leaders. And a man should be just a little curious that this Doug Phillips is being scrutinized, there may be a very good reason for it.

    While we worry for the Church and the direction such misapplication of doctrine by Phillips and his followers documentably are causing and will cause, let us not forget that the character of the man who speaks is still important. Let us not adopt the worlds standard that character and personal morals are not important. If we believe character matters in a President of the United States, the scripture is all the more certain in it’s call for the Church to judge itself, character must exhibit itself.

    We can focus on and expose Phillips aberant application of biblical teaching, but we should not do so to the exclusion of examination of his character as it pertains to his public morality.For a man’s character most certainly is the greatest witness to the mans closely held doctrines.

    Aberant doctrines and their application do not emanate from faith, hope and charity nor from the keeping of the two great commandments Jesus gave us. On the other hand, twisted doctrine and application have their origins in trespass, the breaking of the laws of God.
    To the point, Doug Phillips produced a film and profited from its sale and distribution based on someone elses work. His theft of that credit for the work materially harmed individuals. He even used his legalese to badger and cajole and stall and starve out his victims. While he continues to profit on the foundation built so treacherously, he leaves a wreck of those he robbed. We cite Phillips not as a man who crossed to the other side of the road to avoid assistence to a fellow traveler, indeed Phillips in this case is the man guilty of the assault and robbery.
    In all this Mr Phillips has broken the Ten Commandments unabashedly and continues in the booty of his stolen goods(Thou shalt not steal) and the worldly glory of his falsley born witness(Thou shalt not bear false witness).
    His first film Raising the Allosaur was made to show his intimate connection with the discovery and excavation of a dinosaur. The truth was he had contracted with Creation Studies Institute for a tour to the already excavated Allosaur Site. The unseemly behind the scenes activities and lies Phillips engaged in to become leader of the ‘dicoverers and excavators’ are both engrossing and disheartening. Unlike a half hour TV show where justice is accomplished by the end of the 30 minutes, several years have been insufficient for Phillips to either repent or make things right with those he has robbed and born false witness against. Scott Brown a board member does say that ‘Doug confessed to making serious mistakes based on Pete DeRosas deceptions’. However what the board was not aware of were any details. Phillips using his legal background led a quasi-legal battle thru threats intimidation and spiritual blackmail against his victims.
    The majority of the problem seems to be that like Gregory, no one wants to say the truth about Mr Phillips and his evil deeds. He has his family spread about him in photo-ops just as a politician before the cameras or a criminal before the sentencing judge displays his family..
    Until Mr Phillips tells the truth publicly to the audience to whom he promoted and sold his film Raising the Allosaur, those of us who have taken the time to know the truth are not impressed by his platitudes and stolen words and even less by those that prop him up in his transgression. It would be autocratic to suspect Ken Ham of being cut from the same cloth just because he accepted the ‘George Washington’ award from Phillips, so we won’t, however it does make us wonder since Ken always refused to sell Phillips film. Ken’s promotion of Phillips is perplexing in that Ken’s intimate knowledge of the allosaur story only leaves one conclusion about Phillips and his film.
    Phillips uses the film as his credential for a film festival he started. He even made up his own ten commandments for his film festival. it is no surprize that Phillips breaks his own commandments too.

  29. The Vision Forum NCFIC strikes again. Beware of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX. They practise this kind of discipline there under the leadership of Voddie Baucham. It is so ironic that every time these men are charged with an offense, they seem to divert the offense to the individual(s) making the claim(s). This happened to us and a number of founding memebers at this church. Is there anyone out there to alert Christians to this seemingly rampant problem in their ministry? This could very much continue to hurt Christians, especially the younger, more vulnerable ones. We ignored a number of distrubing issues early on in our over 1 year regularly attending. We did not want to believe things were as they seemed because they preached such a different message. I wish someone would have warned us. Some of our brothers and sisters siad that others tried to gently alert them and they didn’t see concerns. These are very dangerous men. They do they very things the excommunicate other for and they refuse to answer the charges against themselves. Dangerous. Very Dangeous. We must pray for God’s mercy on us all, especially those who teach. Perhaps, even their very souls.

  30. Tiffany —

    If you would like to go public with what happened to you and document your case, that’s exactly what my blog is for, discussions on church discipline. You can email me at I’ve been doing VF related discipline cases and problems with their theology.

  31. Good heavens. Even now it’s hard for me to believe that jolly-looking Voddie Baucham’s one of the corrupt men doing these things. His daughter Jasmine sure is a smart one. I pray her clear eyes will be protected from this wickedness.

  32. Funny Donna, you can’t stop talking about egalitarianism and never once focus on patriocentricity. You’re not really in any position to criticize anyone for focusing on one issue and ignoring another.

  33. I realize this is a very old post, but I went down a winding path through all of the Vision Forum related events this afternoon while doing research.

    This post and the response from VF is so striking given what eventually transpired, especially Doug Phillips’ response to being rebuked by this brothers in Christ and the apparent disintegration of his family and marriage.

    I also can’t believe this was all happening over eleven years ago.

    Thank you for the work you did, Don, in pointing people to the truth.


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