Church Growth the RC Sproul Jr Way – Lie About ItPosted: April 23, 2006 Filed under: Highlands Study Center, RC Sproul Jr Leave a comment
RC Sproul Jr remains as the President of the Highlands Study Center in Mendota, Virginia, even though he’s been defrocked. In every edition of the Highlands Study Center’s publication Every Thought Captive there’s a two-page spread entitled What’s Happening at the Highlands Study Center. As someone else has already pointed out, it’s confusing trying to figure out exactly what it is that gets “studied” at the “Study Center” and who the “students” are.
The vast majority of activities discussed in ETC about the Highlands Study Center are actually Saint Peter Church activities. In fact it’s pretty obvious that about the only real regular “students” of RC Jr’s Highlands Study Center are the members of Saint Peter Church. Funny thing is though that most Saint Peter Church members don’t seem to realize that they’re HSC “students.” Certainly no one has ever specifically told them that they’re HSC “students.”
Prominently featured in the March/April 2006 What’s Happening at the Highlands Study Center is a section entitled, AMAZING HAPPENINGS: CHURCH GROWTH. However, the only real membership “growth” at Saint Peter Church is from new babies being born. Now, we’re just as “amazed” as anyone else to hear that women are getting pregnant at the Highlands Study Center, er, Saint Peter Church. Our sincere congratulations go out to all those Highlands Study Center students, er, Saint Peter Church members that are being fruitful and multiplying.
As is typical of RC Sproul Jr, when he uses a term, such as “growth,” that’s commonly understood to mean one thing, and one thing only, he intends it in an entirely different way. So setting aside the newborn babies, has Saint Peter Church grown at all?
The public information shows that the following families have, in less than a year, departed Saint Peter Church, and all of them departed over significant disputes in doctrine and practice with RC Sproul Jr and the Saint Peter Session:
These are just the families that departed in the eight months prior to the Saint Peter Session getting themselves defrocked, and since the defrocking on January 26, 2006 several more families have left. In all likelihood several more will probably soon be departing as well. In the same time frame only two families are reported to have joined Saint Peter Church. Does this sound like church growth to anyone?
Nevertheless, in the Orwellian newspeak world of RC Sproul Jr, getting defrocked is not a censure, church booze parties with beer kegs and whiskey bottles and children consuming grain alcohol mixed drinks is “drinking in moderation,” and losing ten or so families is “church growth.”
AMAZING HAPPENINGS: CHURCH GROWTH
. . .In addition, two more families–a total of 16 people–moved to join the congregation at Saint Peter; one family from Texas and one from Florida.
So congratulations on the births of two new babies, and the eleven expectant mothers, but congratulations aren’t in order for portraying the loss of ten or so families, while you’ve only had two new families join, as “church growth.”
Ironically, just immediately prior to getting himself defrocked, RC Sproul Jr wrote of a time in his life where the loss of multiple families at Saint Peter Church (yes, it happened before, starting not long after the church was formed eight years ago) caused him to question whether he should get out of the pastorate altogether:
Within the space of two months, without even a split to be righteously indignant over, we lost five of our thirteen families. A year after that, three more left. As a Calvinist I was tempted to be a charismatic, thinking perhaps God was speaking to me through His sovereignty over history. Was He saying to me, “R.C., stop trying to be a pastor.”? Camp for Pastors
No need to become a charismatic, RC. Just get a clue! Haven’t you seen that revolving door spinning on the front of your church for years? Doesn’t getting defrocked mean anything to you? How much more is it going to take before you realize that you’re just not cut out to be a pastor?
But since RC Jr isn’t likely to take the hint, would the last member to leave Saint Peter Church please turn out the lights? Thank you.
This article is republished here at the request of the author.
Can RC Sproul Jr Be Restored?Posted: April 20, 2006 Filed under: RC Sproul Jr Leave a comment
On January 31, 2006 Dr. David Black posted the following on his web site in response to the defrocking of RC Sproul Jr:
A prominent leader in the homeschooling movement has been defrocked. People are asking, “What should be done?” Paul’s answer is: “restore him” (Gal. 6:1). Help him confess his sins and find forgiveness in Christ. Then welcome him back into the fellowship. “One test of true spirituality,” writes F. F. Bruce in his Galatians commentary, “is a readiness to set those who stumble by the wayside on the right road again in a sympathetic spirit.” Like setting a broken bone, the process is bound to be painful, but the sooner the bone is set the sooner the healing can begin. This is no time for anyone to feel self-righteous. Being harsh or judgmental is excluded. But this is also no time for rationalizations. My prayer is that my brother, having been caught in a long series of trespasses, will not run from the truth but rather embrace it. I pray that he will submit himself to the loving discipline of God and his church and make restitution to the people he has hurt. And may we all remember: actions have consequences. Dave Black Online
What Dave Black posted back in January is even more relevant now. What Dave Black proffered is simple and sound biblical advice (Dave has a reputation for doing that). Unfortunately Mr. Black’s admonishments, which have also been the admonishment of many others (including the RPCGA), have not been heeded by RC Sproul Jr and his defrocked Saint Peter Session.
What are Christians to do when in their attempts to “restore” RC Sproul Jr by “helping him confess his sins and find forgiveness in Christ” for “a long series of trespasses” are evaded if not rebuffed? There have been multiple reports that RC Sproul Jr and the defrocked Saint Peter Session have responded to letters, emails and phone calls only when they have come from sympathetic supporters who believe that the Saint Peter Four were somehow unjustly defrocked by the RPCGA. However, any correspondence from anyone else, including other pastors, who have urged “that he will submit himself to the loving discipline of God and his church and make restitution to the people he has hurt” has been completely ignored.
Like you, Brother Black we too have prayed that RC Sproul Jr “will not run from the truth but rather embrace it.” However, ever since the CREC formed its “not judicial in nature” Commission, RC Sproul Jr and the Saint Peter Four have been hiding behind the CREC Commission like cowards, unwilling to speak on their own behalf. They’ve been directing all inquiries to CREC Moderator Randy Booth. Yet, Randy Booth is completely evading any thorny questions and fielding only “softballs.” Rather than being forthright with the public and “embracing the truth” the Saint Peter Four act like spineless politicians who hide behind their Press Secretaries.
Along with you, Dave Black, we too have prayed for RC Sproul Jr “that he will submit himself to the loving discipline of God and his church and make restitution to the people he has hurt.” Instead, RC Sproul Jr and his defrocked session have repeatedly engaged in “rationalizations” and they have made restitution to no one.
Can or should such proud men be “restored”? And what exactly is meant by “restored” anyway? Being “restored” doesn’t mean being restored to the office of Elder or Pastor (the proper term for that would be “reinstated”). RC Sproul Jr and the Saint Peter Four weren’t deposed for unrepentance. They were deposed for abuse of ecclesiastical office, duplicity and vow-breaking, and they were deposed because they were shown to be “not qualified” for the office of Elder:
“The consistent pattern of actions taken by these men are duplicitous in nature, and demonstrate that they willingly and knowingly act in an arbitrary fashion in violation of their vows of ordination and in violation of our denomination’s Book of Church Order. Most importantly, their actions manifest that they lack the qualification for the ministry (1Timothy 3:1-7). It would be unwise to allow these men to continue to hold an office for which they are not qualified. They have no interest to govern themselves appropriately within this Presbyterian system of government that they vowed to submit and conform to its rules and regulations with conduct becoming ministers of Jesus Christ.”RPCGA Declaratory Judgment
RC Sproul Jr and the Saint Peter Four still have a great deal to repent for, and a great deal they need to make restitution for. Were they to do so it would help their public image immeasurably, and it would serve to “restore” them as brothers in Christ. But would it “restore” them to office? No, that’s an entirely different matter.
While repentance would be a positive sign that RC Sproul Jr might not “be lifted up with pride” (1 Tim 3:6), that in and of itself would be wholly inadequate a justification to “restore” him to ecclesiastical office, particularly after the RPCGA publicly pronounced him “not qualified” to be an Elder. By “not qualified” they weren’t just saying that RC Sproul Jr and the Saint Peter Session were only “not qualified” to be Elders in the RPCGA. They said they were “not qualified” per the biblical requirements of 1 Timothy 3:1-7.
Repentance and restitution are still needed, and the fact that RC Sproul Jr, Laurence Windham, Wayne Hays and Jay Barfield continue evading their biblical responsibilities to do so toward the families that they have lorded it over just proves that much more strongly how thoroughly “not qualified” the Saint Peter Four are to be ordained for the ministry.
However, given the non-existent standards of the CREC, let’s just say that we won’t be the least bit surprised when Doug Wilson’s Name-Clearing Commission clears the names of the Saint Peter Four and ordains them anyway. Doug really needs to hurry up the arrangements for that though and put the finishing touches on that Name-Clearing Commission Report. RC Jr has got that Generations Conference thing coming up real soon where he’s going to be talking about how to honor those in authority over you (guess that didn’t apply to his Presbytery though).
Dave Black quoted from Galatians 6:1, but as is always the case it’s good to review additional verses in the passage, both immediately before and after, so as to put things in proper context. As such, irrespective of whether or not the Saint Peter Four ever do repent and make restitution to the numerous Christian brethren that they have abused, let’s not forget Paul’s warning in the same passage:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Gal. 6:7
Or to quote Dave Black: “And may we all remember: actions have consequences.”
This article is republished here at the request of the author.
RC Sproul Jr — Junior High Pharisee GirlPosted: April 18, 2006 Filed under: Highlands Study Center, RC Sproul Jr Leave a comment
The Highlands Study Center has since 1997 published a bi-monthly periodical entitled Every Thought Captive. RC Sproul Jr has written many ETC articles, and also serves as the Editor of ETC. In some nine years the Highlands Study Center has published several good articles, some of which we’ve actually enjoyed reading.
However, in recent times we’ve found it increasingly difficult to read ETC while being edified by it. In point of fact, reading ETC has become a downright unpleasant and tedious prospect, primarily because RC Sproul Jr and the men who write for ETC have a propensity for not practicing what they preach — and preach they do. The Saint Peter Session has set itself up as a modern-day Sanhedrin, eager to lay charges at the feet of others while ignoring their own sins, and Every Thought Captive has served RC Sproul Jr well as an ex cathedra Talmud.
Pointing the accusatory Pharisaical finger is a long-standing tradition for RC Sproul Jr and the Saint Peter (now defrocked) Church Session, or as they have been recently dubbed, the “Saint Peter Four.” Undoubtedly they first learned how to “cut others down to size” in junior high school, as do so many insecure children. However, as we grow up and mature, and especially as we grow in Christ, most of us will set aside our need to feel superior by verbally slicing other people to ribbons with false and fabricated stories. Not the Saint Peter Four. For years they’ve expended considerable resources and energies on cutting other people down to size.
Let’s not forget to thank all those Highlands Study Center financial supporters who faithfully send in their tax-deductible contributions. Without them all that Pharisaical finger pointing would have never been possible.
A great deal of this Pharisaical finger-pointing can be explained by the fact that RC Sproul Jr describes himself to be a “junior high girl,” and with it comes all the petty, spiteful, malicious, self-righteous juvenile, effeminate indignation:
“We move from Gee, so and so didn’t wave at me at the mall. I wonder if she saw me to Gee, so and so really must think she’s something, being too good to wave at me at the mall to I WILL DESTROY SO AND SO’S PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A LIFE IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO faster than I can think of something that is really fast. We’re all junior high girls at heart, and must stop.” Word Of Honor, Sept 2001
The problem is that four years later RC Sproul Jr is still saying the exact same thing. He still talks like and acts like a junior high school girl:
“I’m afraid that at heart we are still junior high girls.” Junior High Girls, Nov 17, 2005
So when will RC Sproul Jr grow up? When will he grow out of his childish insecurities and his compulsion to cut other people down?
RC Sproul Jr has memorialized his effeminate juvenile thinking through Every Thought Captive, as well as his blog. That junior high girl mentality permeates the writing of the Saint Peter Four. Multiple ETC editions have contained an “Open Letter.” These Open Letters have usually had a superficial appearance of having been written by caring Christian shepherds whose only desire is to offer thoughtful and loving admonitions to fellow Christians in need of correction. However, those on the receiving end of any ETC Open Letter know all too well RC Sproul Jr’s propensity for spinning tall tales to make others look bad, and himself look good. RC Sproul Jr and his session have often proven themselves anything but pastoral and anyone who’s been on the receiving end of their unpastoral behavior aren’t in the least bit surprised that they got themselves defrocked.
It’s for good reason that the Saint Peter Four have seldom ever named names in their Open Letters. The stories they tell in their Open Letters are often so far removed from reality that if they actually dared to attach a name to the story they’d risk being sued for libel. Furthermore, their Open Letters smack of the kind of hypocrisy that’s all too characteristic of Pharisees. For example, in an Open Letter To A Session Somewhere In the Deep South, from the March/April 2005 ETC, defrocked Saint Peter Session Elder Jay Barfield writes:
“The only potential motivation I can see is that you just wanted out of your denomination, and you were looking for a reason to leave. You didn’t even ask the presbytery for help; you just stated your disagreement and your intention to defy the confessional and ecclesiastical standards you swore to uphold. That is fundamentally wrong. That is not a quest for obedience; it is a grab for power and independence that strikes against the foundations of Presbyterian government. Submission to the brothers is not really submission until you disagree about something. You never really submitted in the past; you only agreed. . . However, if that was the underlying cause, bailing out of the presbytery didn’t help matters for your supporters.”
We can’t help but marvel at how Jay Barfield and his ETC editor RC Sproul Jr find it so easy to ridicule another church Session about the way they handled a conflict with their Presbytery; yet, less than a year later they proved themselves to be not only fools, but downright duplicitous, in the way they dealt with their own Presbytery. “Hypocrite” is only too kind a word to describe these men. And what was the motivation for the Saint Peter defrocked session begging to get out of the RPCGA, rather than appealing the Declaratory Judgment and remaining in the denomination to await trial on the remaining charges? The answer to that is self-evident.
Had the Saint Peter Four remained in the denomination and gone to trial the odds of winning their case were slim. Nevertheless, “Submission to the brothers is not really submission until you disagree about something.” So much for “submission.” Had they remained and gone to trial they would have likely also been convicted of abuse of Christian liberties, as well. In addition to the Austins, other families likely would have stepped forward to testify of abuses of ecclesiastical office, and this they well knew. By pleading to get out of the RPCGA, rather than appealing the Declaratory Judgment to the General Assembly, and remaining to stand trial like men, their behavior “strikes against the foundations of Presbyterian government.” They ran away like cowardly little “junior high girls,” and after running they then blamed the RPCGA for depriving them of the trial that they ran away from!
By covertly practicing paedo-communion in defiance of the RPCGA’s standards (and the RPCGA holds to the standards of the Westminster Confession of Faith) they defied “the confessional and ecclesiastical standards they swore to uphold.” They “never really submitted in the past; they only agreed.” However, they only “agreed” by telling their Presbytery that they wouldn’t practice and teach paedo-communion, while in reality they covertly practiced paedo-communion in defiance of their ordination vows. Not only are the Saint Peter Four hypocrites, they are duplicitous vow-breakers.
After being defrocked they “didn’t even ask the presbytery for help.” They could have asked the RPCGA for help, such as pulpit supply. But rather than doing that they told the Saint Peter congregation that the RPCGA has left them high and dry with no one to even serve them communion, thereby effectively “excommunicating the congregation” (as the Saint Peter Four portrayed it). As Mr. Barfield put it only too succinctly, “bailing out of the presbytery didn’t help matters for your supporters.” Not only did the Saint Peter Four not “help matters for their supporters,” it was the Saint Peter Four who had failed to so much as even bother to administer the RPCGA membership vows (those vows are clearly stated in the RPCGA BCO), and as such Saint Peter Presbyterian Church had never become a member of the RPCGA. And who’s fault was that? According to the Saint Peter Four, that was all the RPCGA’s fault! Nevertheless, had Saint Peter church ever bothered to “ask for help” it’s very likely the RPCGA would have stepped in to help. All they had to do was ask. Easier to not ask so they could spin a tale that it was the RPCGA’s fault.
The fact that Saint Peter Presbyterian Church had never been a member of the RPCGA is easily proven in that they would have had to petition the RPCGA to be released from membership prior to seeking entry in the CREC had they been an RPCGA member. But no such petition was ever filed, nor did the RPCGA ask for one, because Saint Peter church was never a member of the RPCGA.
“What royally irritates me about this is that there is a core of men in your old presbytery (and the denomination) that were either in agreement, or sympathetic to your cause. By the manner in which you handled this, you just made it that much tougher for those you left behind. You verified the assumption that men of your theological and ideological pedigree are difficult to oversee. You just gave a little bit more ammunition for the broad evangelicals in power in that denomination to attack your buddies still in the fight. There is no foretelling of the future in that statement. You well know how at least one other man has fared since you left. People of our theological perspective are now more roundly characterized as stiff, inflexible troublemakers that don’t really deserve a place in their denominational institutions.”
How ironic that that very statement now aptly fits RC Sproul Jr and his defrocked session. Their unpastoral and duplicitous tactics have earned them the title “stiff, inflexible troublemakers.”
They’ve removed themselves from a seat at the Reformed Presbyterian table, and probably permanently so. Never again will they be welcomed in any Reformed Presbyterian denomination. Such “men of their theological and ideological pedigree are difficult to oversee” and no Reformed Presbyterian denomination will ever again risk attempting to oversee them. Only a fast and loose “confederation” of the lowest of standards would ever be willing to welcome them.
“There will be more bad fruit coming out of your actions. When the other families in the flock under your care don’t want to submit to your rule, remember the example you have set for them. At the first sign of disagreement, it won’t be submission and a desire to be teachable that you will see. They will just bolt at the first sign of whatever doesn’t suit them. It may even reach into your own families. You could have your own version of a Rushdoony/North family squabble.”
How ironic that the Saint Peter session well recognizes that a session’s rebellion and vow-breaking to it’s Presbytery inevitably results in a congregation’s rebellion and vow-breaking to its Session. Elders lead a congregation by the example they set, and there is little question that “There will be more bad fruit coming out of their actions.” When members of the Saint Peter congregation tell the Saint Peter Four (even when they’ve been re-ordained by the CREC), “We don’t have to obey you because you yourselves aren’t men who obey authority,” they should reflect on the example they have set.
“I earnestly wish God’s blessings upon your body. I hope that you will repent to God and to your fellow elders of the pride that you have unwittingly shown in your unwillingness to submit to the good faith governance of your Presbyterian brothers, as imperfect as it might be. Whatever you do, I want to make one request. Don’t ever describe your church as one that is Presbyterian in government or name. That would be false advertising.”
Mr. Sproul Jr, you sir are a modern-day Pharisee and hypocrite. Before publishing any more Open Letters, as the editor of ETC, please do us all a favor and ensure that you comply with the same standards that you insist that others comply with. Oh, and lest we forget, “Don’t ever describe your church as one that is Presbyterian in government or name. That would be false advertising.”
This article is republished here at the request of the author.