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Mailbag

Letters from our readers

Issue: "Believing in Iraq," May 17, 2014

‘Set adrift’

April 5  Church leaders and congregants who observe immorality and do nothing, hoping their “star” leader isn’t really as tarnished as they suspect, only encourage a bad situation to get worse. Those who write letters of sympathy and thanks to a person who has cheated on his wife and family for almost a decade are foolish.
—B.L. Wiedenbeck, Oregon, Wis.

Jamie Dean’s comment—personal sin doesn’t necessarily “invalidate” the ideals of systems that encourage protecting women and children—was refreshing. Doug Phillips’ sin confirmed his teachings with Vision Forum. He did exactly what he plainly warned against, and he suffered those exact consequences.
—Michael E. Owens, Denver, Pa.

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I was stunned to hear of Phillips. We are thankful that you expose the sin of prominent leaders to help us be more discerning, and to point us back to Jesus. As a practical step, my husband and I burned our set of Vision Forum CDs on biblical fatherhood. We want nothing to do with those who preach one thing and live another.
—Rachel Jamieson, Harrisville, Mich.

I’m very disappointed with this story. I’m weighing the costs of your excellent journalistic techniques against the harm you did to the body of Christ. Was it worth it?
—Ron Davitt, London, Ohio

I grew up under Vision Forum teachings and see among my friends the damage that Vision Forum has caused. I won’t be shedding any tears over Phillips’ demise, and I hope that it is a wake-up call for those still ensnared in the legalism and hypocrisy he created.
—Dave Kuntz, Denton, Texas

‘Cults of celebrity’

April 5  I appreciated your informative article, and the insights regarding what we can learn by the failures of so many Christian leaders. As a homeschooler, I know many families who have esteemed Phillips and Bill Gothard as all but above reproach. I agree that this is a “human problem,” but I think that leaders within the biblical patriarchy movement are particularly vulnerable.
—Heidi Smid, Travelers Rest, S.C.

Our leaders are a reflection of us. It is our nature to put confidence in the flesh, both our own and that of our leaders. We want to believe that by following the right man, with the right plan, that we will then be righteous too. But that place belongs to Christ alone.
—Jerome Vandewalle, Costa Mesa, Calif.

‘The second great embarrassment’

April 5  I do not rejoice in the shame that such cases bring on the name of Christ and am sad for their effects, but I am so thankful that you are committed to bringing these cases to our attention. Through your ministry, may fallen leaders repent, current leaders heed the warnings, and people come alongside their leaders to fight these sins together.
—Erick Loh, Louisville, Ky.

I was stunned by the assertion that Elevation’s document is “biblically odd” because it says, “We serve a lead pastor who goes first.” The meaning is that as leader he will be the first to do hard things. Many in the American church take a “don’t I get a vote?” attitude, but God’s Word exhorts us to “obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.”
—Joe Stillone, Grafton, Wis.

I have long thought that having the “lead pastor” determine the vision and direction of a church by himself is dangerous and stems from two main factors: a lack of humility on the pastor’s part and biblical illiteracy in the congregation. May God grant us a humble zeal to submit to His Word and to one another.
—Ted McCann, Chula Vista, Calif.

‘Talking around the problem’

April 5  Andrée Seu Peterson captures the problem of dialogue with gay groups: Christians are not being asked to “listen” and so offer compassion and understanding but, through emotional personal stories, to reconsider the Bible’s fundamental moral laws involving parenting, gender, and sexuality. Activists claim, “Who are you to say homosexuality is sinful when you are a gossip or a glutton?” But we’re not trying to have those behaviors redefined as part of our God-given, created design.
—Linda Ames Nicolosi, Encino, Calif.

More trigger words to add to “conversation” and “dialogue” are “reframing the debate” and “reimagining” Scripture. My father frequently cautioned me to let Scripture speak for itself.
—Jim Schultz, Taylorville, Ill.

I greatly appreciate your journalistic integrity and biblical worldview, but it’s frustrating to read so much news about the gay agenda. WORLD has nothing to apologize for, as your reporting is great. I think I’m becoming more Amish every day as I wean myself of this culture that celebrates sin.
—Murl Green, Tallahassee, Fla.

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