Holding Ecclesiastical Tyrants and Scammers Accountable

I received an encouraging comment from JoeReformed asking me to post more articles similar to Ligonier President Tim Dick Honors Me. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that a man with Tim Dick’s obnoxious personality would make so many enemies.

Had it not been for the fact that Tim Dick wrote me twice I might never have posted an article about him at all. That’s often how things like this get started, and it still amazes me that the President of a well-respected ministry would want to provoke a fight with me. If Tim would do that to me, someone that he doesn’t know from Adam, just imagine what the man is capable of doing to his own employees!

If I have a beef at all it’s not with Dr. Sproul personally, but just with some of the decisions he’s made, such as defending his defrocked son and claiming that the charges against him were “fraudulent,” and such as making his son-in-law the President of Ligonier. It would be one thing if Tim Dick were qualified for the position. I had some doubts about that before, but after his bizarre email exchange with me it’s self-evident that the man is as unfit to head Ligonier Ministries as is RC Sproul Jr unfit to be a pastor.

JoeReformed requested that I write more articles about Ligonier Ministries and Tim Dick. The problem is that I really just don’t have much more to say about it. That’s not to say that more probably doesn’t need to be said, just that I’m not the one best qualified to say it, since I’m not an insider.

However, I’m willing to permit this blog to be used as a forum for articles by insiders, such as current and former Ligonier employees, donors, etc. If any would like to write an article themselves (either real or assumed names acceptable) feel free to submit it to me at advancemyten@yahoo.com and I’ll review it for posting here.

My one and only motivation is accountability. If that’s your motivation too, and you’ve got something to contribute here in furtherance of Joe Reformed’s request, feel free to submit it.

Accountability is seriously lacking in far too many parachurch ministries. For that matter accountability seems to also be lacking in far too many churches too. Sometimes the only effective means of restoring accountability is public exposure, and blogs like this one bring results.

A great example of this is what’s going on out in Moscow Idaho with Doug Wilson and his boutique “confederation” the CREC. Former Christ Church member Michael Metzler is holding Doug Wilson’s feet to the fire over the CREC’s exoneration of defrocked minister RC Sproul Jr, as well as Wilson’s 8 month cover up of his double-pedophilia scandal. Had Wilson dealt properly and honestly with Metzler months ago he wouldn’t be now facing all the public criticism.

  • Donors have a right to have full disclosure about the ministries that they support and assurances that the funds that they contribute won’t just be squandered to improve the personal lifestyles of that ministry’s officers.
  • Job interviewees have a right to have full disclosure about a potential ministry employer before they become ministry employees.
  • Christians have a right to have full disclosure about a pastor before they move half way across the country to join his church.

Rules For Posting Comments: Your comments are welcome. All comments are moderated. There are very few comments that I reject, unless they’re off-topic to the subject of the article, or if it’s an issue or a question that I’ve already answered elsewhere. However I especially don’t appreciate Anonymous posts because of the confusion they cause. Use your real name or use an alias, but use a name and continue using the same name if you post here again later.

Thanks Pastor Shaun Nolan. But Will You Repent?

On Feb. 14 Pastor Shaun Nolan posted on his blog R.C. Sproul Jr. Defrocked. In his article Pastor Nolan gives the wise admonishment, both to R.C. Sproul Jr and his defrocked Saint Peter Church Session, but also an admonishment to his readers in general:

In doing this, I am not seeking to “lump further judgment”. (Let us not forget that these men have formally confessed and repented.) I am not in a place to either question the judgments against them nor to question their accusors, but let us take heart to the dangerous waters we enter when we consistently refuse to obey authority (even if we think those authorities are wrong). . .

These are serious things and I am thankful that they have been taken seriously. I hope and pray that other Reformed brethren might not fall into similar sin. I am earnestly concerned that the answer of the guilty would not be simply to “flee elsewhere” but to either stay and make amends or pursue other non-ministerial labors.

Our generation is one that has been raised to “despise authority”. Might we all take these things to heart and repent. How will we teach others to obey Christ in all things if we are not obedient to those Christ has placed over us?

Pastor Shaun Nolan’s statements appeared at the time to be both pastoral and wise, and certainly they seemed sincere. However, it didn’t take long for Pastor Shaun’s true colors to start bleeding through.

On April 5 Pastor Shaun Nolan posted Clearing R.C. Sproul Jr’s Name. Pastor Shaun’s primary source of information for his article was Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr, father of the defrocked R.C. Sproul Jr. That article, perhaps more than any other that has appeared on the internet to date, made it all too obvious what the CREC Commission’s real agenda was (”clearing R.C. Sproul Jr’s name”), and how gravely compromised the CREC Commission was.

No doubt many people were very grateful that Pastor Shaun had exposed the matter (although that certainly wasn’t his intention). No doubt many viewed Pastor Shaun’s article as providential in shedding light on the duplicities of Doug Wilson and the CREC. No doubt Doug Wilson and the CREC would have much preferred it had Pastor Shaun just kept his mouth shut about the whole thing. Even more so they no doubt especially wished that Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr had kept his mouth shut. By shooting off his mouth and making predictions of what the outcome of the CREC Commission’s “examination” would be Dr. Sproul made the Commission out to be the very kangaroo court and rubber stamping committee that many people had already recognized that it was.

For a man who’s demonstrated such wisdom and valuable theological insights Dr. Sproul’s public comments and behavior over the defrocking of his son has been nothing short of foolish and reckless. Dr. Sproul probably thought that by shooting off his mouth he was helping his son. Perhaps he thought by his persuasive speech (and he is a persuasive man after all) that he could manipulate the outcome. But that’s not how it worked out.

Ironically, Pastor Shaun prefaces his statements with, “I will offer you nothing of flammability and I do not wish my name associated with your diatribes.” Yet Pastor Shaun’s own comments, not to mention Dr. Sproul’s comments, are self-evidently inflammatory and their bias equally self-evident. The dozens of heated responses which quickly appeared only proves that point. What could be more transparent about Pastor Shaun’s motives, and the CREC’s intentions, than to entitle such an article, “Clearing R.C. Sproul Jr’s Name”?

If you didn’t want to hear any “diatribes” directed against you, Pastor Shaun, you shouldn’t have served as a mouthpiece for R.C. Sproul Sr’s canard. Ligonier Ministries has a web site and if Dr. Sproul had wanted to publicly vent his outrage over the “fraudulent charges” that had been brought against his son (and quite obviously he did) he should have done it on his own web site. Instead you allowed yourself to be used as Dr. Sproul’s mouthpiece.

In your previous article Pastor Shaun you said, “I am not in a place to either question the judgments against them nor to question their accusors.” What changed? A single lunch with the father of the defrocked minister and now you’re so well informed about the particulars of the case that you’re qualified to pass judgment on the RPCGA?

“Even when I initially addressed this issue, my purpose was only to remind all of us of the deep necessity of Biblical accountability and not to issue judgment.” Given the fact that the RPCGA issued their Declaratory Judgment on January 26, 2006 that kind of statement is completely unnecessary. All anyone need do is take cognizance of the fact that R.C. Sproul Jr was and is a deprocked man. No further “judgments” of any kind would have been necessary.

The only people who have used the phrase “don’t pass judgment” are those who have disagreed with the RPCGA’s Declaratory Judgment, inferring somehow that the RPCGA’s actions were unjust, or that they didn’t have the authority to do what they did, or to do it in the manner that they did. And since the non-judgmental CREC offered to step in and provide “pastoral care” to Saint Peter let’s all just ignore that judgmental RPCGA’s discipline and hope the CREC “clears the name of RC Sproul Jr.”

The problem you now face, and the problem that Dr. Sproul faces, is that the CREC Commission wasn’t able to “clear R.C. Sproul Jr’s name.” If you hadn’t gone shooting off your mouth and making the CREC Commission look like a sham then maybe they could have done their dirty deeds quietly and unscrutinized. The outcome probably would have been far different. So thanks for everything you’ve done (seriously, I mean that). With all the exposure you gave the CREC they had little choice but to issue a CREC Commission Report which stuck far closer to the facts than they had originally thought would be necessary. So in the end the CREC found no injustices or improprieties in the RPCGA’s Declaratory Judgment. In fact the CREC’s Report in many ways appears to be a confirmation of the RPCGA’s judgment.

Your first article, Pastor Shaun, was a good one, and I like many others thought that you were being sincere. So what happened to change your mind? What happened to all that non-judgmental objectively? What happened to those godly admonishments and solemn warnings that we all must take cognizance of the need for submission to authority? Star-struck over having had lunch with the great Dr. Sproul? Did you actually sell out for nothing more than a lunch?

Why did you suddenly feel free to pass judgment against the RPCGA? Why did you suddenly become a cheerleader for “clearing R.C. Sproul Jr’s name”? That’s precisely what you did when you said that you “trust R.C. and believe he is telling the truth about his son.” Dr. Sproul’s opinion on the defrocking of his son was (and still is) 180 degrees out of sync with the RPCGA’s Declaratory Judgment. So in believing Dr. Sproul’s opinion weren’t you also repudiating and passing judgment against the ecclesiastical judicial proceedings of the RPCGA?

Aren’t you saying that it’s perfectly okay to not submit to church courts, and that if you don’t like the judgment of a church court you can just go shopping around until you find one that will “clear your name”? That being the case why should any of your own church members submit to you and your Presbyterian church Session if there comes a time that they don’t like the decisions and judgments that you issue? Aren’t you by your example just condoning rebellion to church authority? Aren’t you just part of the very problem you speak of when you say,

“Our generation is one that has been raised to ‘despise authority’. Might we all take these things to heart and repent. How will we teach others to obey Christ in all things if we are not obedient to those Christ has placed over us?”

You need to repent, Pastor Shaun Nolan, and don’t think that by just taking down your article now that that’s repentance. Besides which it wouldn’t make any difference now — your article has been reposted all over the internet (including here too). Your sins in this matter were committed publicly and you need to repent publicly, on your blog.

Clearing R.C. Sproul, Jr’s Name

It was a great privilege to have lunch with R.C. and Vesta Sproul this afternoon. (Some of you may know that Vesta’s brother is our assistant pastor at View Crest. So, lest you think me important, the occasion had nothing to do with yours truly.) During the course of conversation, we turned to a discussion of the recent allegations against R.C.’s son. At the close of our conversation, I asked R.C. if I could share what he had told me via Postscript Posthaste. He said that would be fine.

Please understand that what I am saying here is by no means “official”. I recognize that many of my readers have a deep respect for both R.C. and R.C. Jr., and I want to ease their consciences about this matter. I also understand that there are those out there who find no greater pleasure than to slander another man’s character. For those in the latter group, you’ll want to stop reading now. I will offer you nothing of flammability and I do not wish my name associated with your diatribes. Even when I initially addressed this issue, my purpose was only to remind all of us of the deep necessity of Biblical accountability and not to issue judgment. Further, anything I say here is technically “hearsay” so it won’t stand up in any court. Nevertheless, I trust R.C. and believe he is telling the truth about his son.

So then, what is going on with R.C. Jr.?

Of late we have heard little about the situation surrounding R.C. Jr’s “defrocking” and this is for good reason. I am told that most, if not all of the charges brought against the session of St. Peters were themselves fraudulent. (I will address some of them below.) In case of point, no trial actually took place before the pronouncement of deposition was issued. This is highly irregular and because of this, the elders of St. Peters have sought to clear their names via examination apart from their former denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly (RPCGA). As I write, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CRE) is conducting a detailed examination of the charges. What this means is that the trial they did not receive is being conducted by a third party. The results, soon to be released, will then be examined by other groups for the purpose of validating conclusions and clearing the name of the men involved.

The Charge of Tax ID Misuse
The elders of St. Peter’s were charged with using the ARP (Associate Reformed Presbyterian) Tax ID number instead of the RPCGA number. According to R.C. Sr., a consultant had been called in to help St. Peter’s with their finances. That consultant discovered the ARP ID number being used (which was there because the church had formerly been ARP) and informed them they needed to fix that. R.C. Jr. promptly called both the ARP to apologize and the IRS to apologize and initiate changes.

The Charge of Lording It Over the Congregation
The elders of St. Peter’s were charged with not allowing members to leave. I am told the members in question were under discipline of the church and were told they would not be allowed to flee discipline. This is the normal process with members under discipline in Presbyterianism. We don’t want folks running from accountability. That people do leave anyway is beside the point. After they did leave, they complained to the General Assembly and their charge was thus included.

The Charge of Planting a Church and Ordaining a Pastor Without Permission of the Presbytery
What the documentation of the RPCGA fails to note regarding this charge is that a separate presbytery of that same denomination did, in fact, do these things. As I understand it, the church that was planted was not within the bounds of the presbytery which St. Peter’s was in. It was only later that the Moderator of the denomination ruled that church “unofficial”. (Please don’t ask me how a Moderator can do this. My understanding is that this is a very small denomination that places a great deal of power in the hands of its denominational Moderator.)

The Charge of Practicing Paedo-Communion
This simply wasn’t the case. Young children were examined by the elders for the purpose of discerning a credible profession of faith and some were admitted, but no infants were allowed to partake. Even the PCA Book of Church Order says that it is up to the discretion of the elders as to the age at which a child can demonstrate faith. This was the process at St. Peters.

In Conclusion
In conclusion, I must say that I am pleased to hear the “other side” of this story and I sincerely hope that justice is served in the most positive sense. I would love nothing more than for their names to be cleared and their ministries continue unhindered. I am making this information available only to do my part in maintaining balance, easing consciences pricked by what they had heard, and to inform you, my readers, of the upcoming report from the CRE.

I urge you to continue to pray for these men and for the Reformed Church at large that is impacted by events like these. May God be glorified even through this.

posted on 4/05/2006 | permalink |


This article is republished with the permission of the author.

CREC Finally Gets Around To Posting RC Sproul Jr Report

CREC Moderator Randy Booth has finally posted the CREC Commission Report on [the defrocked] Saint Peter Presbyterian Church. He did so some three weeks after Peter Kershaw had already posted it, along with some Reviews.

On May 15 Mr. Booth had posted this:

“The CREC Pastoral Commission for Saint Peter Presbyterian Church in Bristol, TN will post its Report in this location within the next two weeks.”

Better late than never. What took you, Randy? The reason for the delay is actually pretty obvious (more on that later).

Along with posting the CREC Commission’s Report, as well as the names of the ten Reformed Elders that signed off on the Report, Mr. Booth also states:

“Several families, who were formerly a part of SPPC, have (with the full blessings of the Commission and Saint Peter Presbyterian Church), established a new church in near-by Abingdon, VA. This church is Christ Church of Abingdon.”

Given that the definition of “several” is “Being of a number more than two or three, but not many” I have to wonder how fifteen families could possibly qualify as “several,” especially for a church as small as Saint Peter already was. With the departure of the Abingdon parish, Saint Peter lost one of its three parishes, hardly the trivial matter that the mere loss of “several families” would imply. Once again Randy Booth is demonstrating a Wilsonian dishonesty.

The CREC Commission Report was “Reviewed and Signed By” ten Reformed Presbyterian pastors:

At their request, I have reviewed the report of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches’ Pastoral Commission pertaining to the assistance of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church (SPPC) of Bristol, TN. I commend their evident pastoral care, their good faith in showing respect to matters of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and the apparent godliness of their intentions. While I am not qualified to comment on the pastoral judgments in this report, I am impressed with the sincerity, thoroughness, and sensitivity of their deliberations. I hereby offer my support to this process and urge the broader Church to pray for SPPC as they pursue their future actions under the guidance of this pastoral commission.

This statement differs rather dramatically from the one contained in the actual letter that the CREC Commission first sent to the ten Reformed pastors all the way back on April 14, the same letter they also first attempted (in vain) to get the RPCGA to sign off on:

We are not asking you to reinvestigate the SPPC situation, nor even to concur with all of our counsel: we are asking you to support the pastoral efforts of the CREC Pastoral Commission by signing your name to the following statement:

The men of the CREC Pastoral Commission, seeking to assist the Saint Peter Presbyterian Church [SPPC] of Bristol, TN, have labored in good faith in the service of a sister church. While honoring the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of other denominations, the CREC Pastoral Commission has provided appropriate, biblical direction and counsel to SPPC. Having read the CREC Commission Report to SPPC, I hereby offer my support for their report as an example of sound pastoral counsel and urge the broader Church to pray for SPPC as they seek to learn through their trials, pursue peace and unity, and honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter Kershaw published a Review of the letter to the ten Reformed men and demonstrated what an utter sham it was. Could it be that as a direct result the CREC promptly went back to the drawing board and started all over again? It would appear so. If the CREC were made up of honest men with honest agendas they wouldn’t have to be doing so much back-peddling.

In any event, in the end the CREC Commission Report was:

Reviewed and Signed By:

    1. Brent Bradley, M.Div., Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church [PCA], Kingsport, TN.
    2. Daniel J. Dillard, M.Div., Pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church [OPC], Bend, OR.
    3. George Grant, Ph.D., Director of King’s Meadow Study Center and Teaching Pastor at Christ Community Church [PCA], Franklin, TN.
    4. John Mabray, M.Div., Pastor of Rivermont Evangelical Presbyterian Church [EPC], Lynchburg, VA.
    5. James McDonald, Pastor of Crown and Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church [CPC], Katy, TX.
    6. Richard D. Phillips, M.Div., Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church [PCA], Coral Springs/Margate, FL.
    7. Michael Schneider, M.Div., Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church [PNP], Valparaiso, FL.
    8. Roger Schultz, Ph.D., Pastor of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church [RPC], Lynchburg, VA.
    9. David Shank, Pastor of Covenant Reformed Church [FORC], Harrisonburg, VA.
    10. Roger Wagner, D.Min., Pastor of Bayview Orthodox Presbyterian Church [OPC] in Chula Vista, CA.

What do any of these men have to gain by going public with their support for RC Sproul Jr and the CREC? With most of them I could only speculate. But with a couple of them I can do better than speculate.

James McDonald makes sense, as a “protest” signature, if you will. He asked to leave the RPCGA almost immediately after RC Jr was defrocked, a decision with which he allegedly disagreed. McDonald wasn’t given a vote in the decision because he hadn’t been a member in the RPCGA for the requisite one year period to have Presbytery voting rights. So he voted with his feet instead. Now there’s a fine way to keep your vows to submit to the authority of your Presbytery!

McDonald didn’t request to be transferred to another denomination. Rather, he asked to be released into independency. Not very Presbyterian of him on that score either! His buddy and fellow RC Jr paedocommunion conspiracy cohort Marion Lovett also left the RPCGA at the same time, and in the same defiant way. Together they’ve now formed the Covenant Presbyterian Church Presbytery.

Presbyterian denominations have most typically been formed over significant doctrinal disputes, but not the CPC. Presbyterian denominations have always been formed by ordained Presbyterian Elders, but not the CPC. McDonald and Lovett were deposed by the RPCGA. The CPC will always have the legacy of having been founded by two deposed men who left their former denomination in protest because they disagreed with their Presbytery for having exercised church discipline against one of their own, RC Sproul Jr, who came as his own accuser and confessor, and who rather than appealing the Declaratory Judgment and waiting to stand trial on additional charges begged to be released. Much like the CREC, the CPC is “Presbyterian” in name only. Don’t be surprised is RC Jr ultimately winds up in the CPC himself.

Big surprise here though with George Grant. Here all this time I’d thought George was a real bright man. George has a reputation for doing dilligent research, but obviously he dropped the ball on this one. George Grant was likely swayed in his decision by the fact that he’s close personal friends with RC Sproul Jr and Doug Wilson. In all likelihood he was just returning a favor to his buddies.

If anyone has some insights on what the connections might be with the other men feel free to comment.

Of course, the timing on all of this is truly remarkable. Probably all of these ten Reformed Presbyterian pastors are now cringing over the fact that they’ve given their endorsement to the CREC, and the CREC is so tightly coupled in so many people’s minds with its founder Douglas Wilson, and Doug Wilson is now embroiled in the biggest scandal of his “scandal-ridden career.”

I’d be willing to bet that had the pedophilia scandal been outed a month earlier the CREC Commission would have never come up with ten Reformed Presbyterian pastors anywhere who would have signed on. But now it’s too late. Let’s hope that their good names (most of them, after all, probably do have good names) aren’t tarnished by Wilson’s scandal.


This article is republished with the permission of the author.

RC Sproul Jr Defrocked. No, Wait! He’s “Considered Ordained”!

RC Sproul Jr CREC ClearsThe long anticipated CREC Commission Report on the defrocked St. Peter Presbyterian Church session is out. For some odd reason the Report and several other related CREC documents, has been posted on Peter Kershaw’s web site, but the CREC itself has failed to post it anywhere, even though CREC Moderator Randy Booth promised on May 15 that he would “post its Report in this location within the next two weeks.”

RC Sproul Jr loyalists don’t have much to be gloating over. In fact the whole messy affair has just got to be downright humiliating.

It turns out this isn’t anywhere near the “name clearing” report that many RC Sproul Jr toadies had anticipated. In fact the CREC Commission states of the St. Peter Four:

“It is our finding that there were significant pastoral mistakes, errors and sins by the former Session.”

While the CREC did nothing to clear RC Jr’s name, on the other hand, the CREC left the door wide open for RC Jr to continue masquerading as an “ordained” minister. In the CREC’s words:

“Although Mr. Sproul was deposed from the ministry (primarily for violations of the RPCGA BCO which would not apply in the CREC), we have determined that since he had been previously examined for ordination (by three different presbyteries of three denominations ARPC, PCA, and RPCGA), he shall not be required to fulfill the process for ordination and shall be considered ordained within the CREC accordingly.”

So everywhere else on planet earth RC Sproul Jr is defrocked. But in the alternate universe of the CREC, where neurons are alternately wired in order to comprehend the CREC’s alternate reality, RC Sproul Jr is “considered ordained.”

Fifteen St. Peter families have departed to start their own church in Abingdon, Virginia. I’ve been told that the next Highlands Study Center edition of Every Thought Captive will contain a new RC Sproul Jr article on “Church Growth.


This article is republished here at the request of the author.