Tag Archives: repentance

Has Doug Phillips Repented?

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

Getting right to the point, there are two things to say: No one knows, and don’t count on it. Now, why do I even think it appropriate to go on record with my view of this? Because Christians have proven to be slow to think rightly about leaders who are exposed for scandalous sin, and that makes us quick to take them back as leaders. We have a soft spot for those who have taught us valuable things, and that can make us hopelessly naive, mistakenly ready for their return. SINFULLY ready for their return.

Let’s take a closer look at my two propositions:

Has Doug Phillips repented? No one knows.

Even if all the signs were positive – granting that purely for the sake of argument – no one would really know for quite some time. Though Proverbs 28:13 doesn’t explicitly use the word “repentance,” it contains the best definition of true repentance that I know: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Did you catch that? Confession ≠ Repentance. Confession is a subset of repentance. The other active ingredient is the forsaking of the sin, and knowing whether or not that has really happened takes significant time. Part 1, confession, is super-easy for a skilled communicator – and Doug is a very skilled communicator. Part 2, forsaking, is where the rubber meets the road. As John the Baptist warned the Pharisees who came to receive his baptism (or at least to gawk), there must be “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8), and that takes time. Significant time.

Has Doug Phillips repented? Don’t count on it.

If we have learned anything from these revelations, it is that Doug is a very skillful deceiver and manipulator. He is good at it, and he has had a lot of practice. Knowing that, it would be foolish for any of us to put ourselves in a position to be deceived or manipulated by him now.

Doug was a shepherd. He was entrusted with sheep. Now, the Bible tells us the full range of what we need to know about shepherds and shepherding. It tells us how God shepherds in Psalm 23. God the Shepherd makes His sheep lie down in green pastures and leads them beside the still waters. The Bible tells us how Jesus shepherds in John 10. Jesus the Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. These things are what Paul calls under-shepherds to in Acts 20, as does Peter in 1 Peter 5. These must be the objectives of every local church elder. The Bible also warns of false shepherds in Ezekiel 34. These shepherds exploit the flock. These shepherds devour the flock. And God removes them in His time. Let us fear Him together.

Which kind of shepherd has Doug been? For years now, Doug has been an Ezekiel 34 shepherd, exploiting and devouring for self-satisfaction. He was entrusted with sheep to be a blessing to them, and instead he has been a curse. Is this not beyond dispute? And has not the Chief Shepherd removed him? Let us fear Him together.

Has Doug really repented? Time will tell, as the saying goes. And as it relates to Christian leadership, that can’t mean a week, a month, a year, or a decade. When it becomes known that a shepherd has cultivated a life of deception and manipulation for many years, such a man may not have enough years to reestablish himself as qualified for leadership.

Should Doug be forgiven? Absolutely. Anyone who has been forgiven much by the King must stand ready to forgive his fellow servants (Matthew 18:21-35).

Should he be trusted? Not on your life. At least not now. At least not soon.

So pray for him, but don’t mistakenly hope for his return to Christian leadership. And pray for his family. And more than that, pray for the woman who was exploited by a shepherd who was meant to be a blessing to her. Nothing short of the grace of God will bring her back from that, but He is gracious.

The Great Commission and Repentance

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

I am getting more and more excited about the upcoming “White Unto Harvest” conference, and I suspect I’m far from alone. In preparing for the address I will be giving – “Profile of the Evangelistic Church” – I have been assessing my own history in the category of the Great Commission. Here is my conclusion, and where I believe we must start: Repentance is required.

It will not do to simply resolve to make progress, or even to admit that evangelism has been a significant shortcoming. We do need to make progress, of course, and for most of us evangelism has in fact been a major shortcoming, but leaving it at that is woefully insufficient. Why? Because there is grievous sin that needs to be acknowledged and forsaken. One fact is clearer to me now than it ever has been, which is that the Great Commission is the natural and inevitable outflow of the Great Commandments.

The Great Commandments

When asked which is the great commandment in the law, Jesus responded this way: “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). The two greatest commandments are commandments of love, and they perfectly summarize all the Law and the Prophets. And they stand in priority. First love God. How? With an all-consuming love – heart, soul, mind and strength. Then love your neighbor. How? As yourself, meaning “a lot.” Two great commandments, supreme and inseparable.

How Does This Relate To The Great Commission?

Okay, so I’ve only said what every Christian already knows, which is that loving God and loving neighbor is the supreme summary of what God requires of us. So what? Here’s what: the Great Commission is simply an extension of this, not a separate category. If I love God with all of my being, His praise is on my lips incessantly. If I love my neighbor as myself, I care deeply about his eternal condition and open my mouth with the mighty remedy of the gospel. Loving God without speaking of His greatness, His ways, what He has done through Christ? Inconceivable! Loving neighbor without speaking to his desperate need? Unbelievable!

Our gospel failures represent more than needing progress. They are indicators that our love for God isn’t what we thought it was, and neither is our love for our neighbor. To persist in the faith without the gospel on our lips is to reveal a profound inconsistency that will have to be dealt with. It can’t simply be swept under the rug as we drum up a new wave of evangelism.

Why It Matters

If we skip repentance and go straight to activity, our new found evangelistic zeal will be short-lived. We’ve all been in the church with the strategy-of-the-year, and we need for the Great Commission to be infinitely more than that. It starts with repentance. My silence reveals that I have not loved my God as I ought. My apathy and fear of man reveals that I have not loved my neighbor much at all, let alone as myself. Friends, this is sin. Long held sin. Revealing and humiliating sin. If we are going to be different five years from now, ten years from now, we must own our sin and then forsake it. Mourn, and then by the grace of God, by the Spirit of God, change.

Brothers and sisters, this is our finest hour, if we will follow the author and perfecter of our faith. There is nothing more exhilarating than to demonstrate a true love for God and for our neighbor by engaging the lost with the gospel for the glory of God. May God give us the grace to love more, spending and being spent for this Great Commission.