More Ligonier Lies: Exposed By Orlando Sentinel

Newspaper Reports Ligonier Dropped Suit Only Because It Couldn’t Collar Vance;
Ligonier Tips Hand About Intentions To Refile Lawsuit

World Magazine Blog and Christianity Today Blog have both made passing mention of the Ligonier Ministries lawsuit story, but they have yet to commit a drop of ink to it in their magazines, this in spite of the fact that this story is more than newsworthy. Thank God however for the secular Press who obviously aren’t so timid.

Today Orlando Sentinel staff reporter Rene Stuztman wrote a new article published in the Orlando Sentinel about the latest on the Ligonier’s lawsuit against me:

Posted September 29, 2006

Sanford — The Lake Mary religious group that sued a blogger, trying to limit what he could put on the Internet, has dropped its suit.

Ligonier Ministries Inc. voluntarily dismissed the case Wednesday against Frank Vance, who published remarks critical of the ministry and its president, Timothy Dick, on the Web site “Contending for the Truth.”

That’s because the group couldn’t find Vance, so it couldn’t officially notify him that he was being sued, something judges require to make sure defendants have the opportunity to defend themselves.

The group tried to find Vance, whom it accused of posting false and defamatory statements. It hired a private detective, companies that specialize in tracking e-mail and Internet postings.

It even sent Vance an e-mail, asking him to disclose his whereabouts, but none of that worked, according to court records.

Ministry attorney Daniel Brodersen said Thursday that if the group does find Vance, it may file a new suit.

Rene Stutzman, Erin Ailworth, Christine Dellert and Kristen Reed of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

What a story! It’s almost better than a PI novel, Pinkerton Detective Agency and all!

“That’s because the group couldn’t find Vance” says it all. Nothing about, “We came to our senses and realized how inappropriate it was for a Christian ministry to be filing lawsuits, especially against professing Christians. It wasn’t right and it’s cost us dearly, especially among our loyal supporters. Regardless of what Mr. Vance has said about our President we regret what we did and express our sincere apologies.” Tim Dick and his lying lawyers just blew a great public relations opportunity to show some Christian humility and contrition and instead just tipped their hand that this legal war is far from over.

Filing a new lawsuit is precisely what I expected that Ligonier would probably do, if only they are given the opportunity. This is exactly why I’m not responding to any demands for personal information.

There are several things that tipped me off that Ligonier’s intentions over dropping this lawsuit was probably just a ruse:

  1. The fact that they publicly announced that the lawsuit had been “withdrawn” when they hadn’t even filed the legal paperwork yet.
  2. The fact that after publicly announcing that the lawsuit had been “withdrawn” it took them a week to actually file the paperwork.
  3. The likelihood that had there not been significant public exposure to their lies over “withdrawn” the lawsuit they likely never would have filed the paperwork at all to withdraw it.
  4. The fact that once they did file the paperwork to withdraw the lawsuit they only withdrew it “without prejudice,” thereby tipping their hand that they wanted to reserve the opportunity of suing me again.
  5. The fact that at the same time that Ligonier publicly announced “having withdrawn” the lawsuit I started being daily bombarded with blog comments and emails from obvious Ligonier shills in what can only be characterized as a coordinated front to obtain my personal information.
  6. The fact that a Christian attorney — we’ll call him Jack — on Tuesday spoke with Ligonier attorney Dan Brodersen and discovered that Ligonier hadn’t dropped the lawsuit last week, and hadn’t even intended to drop the lawsuit at all. Jack told Brodersen that the lawsuit was groundless and that “it’s going to ruin Ligonier. You have a professional responsibility to tell your client to drop it.” Brodersen did NOT then say, “I realize that, Jack. In fact, we’ve already released a public statement saying that we’ve withdrawn the suit, and I’ll be filing a the Voluntary Dismissal with the court soon.” Instead, Broderson told Jack, “We haven’t been able to serve Vance yet, and if we can’t serve him real soon then we’ll have to drop it. But we just got a lead on Vance so we might be able to serve him now.”

The lies and the cover ups only grow and only continue to be exposed.

Ligonier Ministries has obviously learned nothing from this tragic saga. They’re still out for their pound of flesh. They’ve repented of nothing, owned up to nothing, and learned nothing. They’re still not getting it.

Ligonier Ministries still doesn’t comprehend how offended most Christians are to see them suing a brother in Christ. Even if they want to now ex post facto allege that I’m not a brother in Christ their lawsuit would still be unwarranted and offensive because it’s a horrible testimony for Christians everywhere. Furthermore Ligonier still doesn’t comprehend how offended most Christians are that they have repeatedly lied about every single aspect in every single phase of this lawsuit.

As to Ligonier’s claim that their attorneys emailed me, that could very well be true. If they did though they never identified themselves, nor did they specifically ask me to “disclose my whereabouts,” at least in the conventional sense of that term. However, I do recall receiving several emails from an “Amber” offering to mail me a copy of the lawsuit. She seemed quite eager to obtain my address, but as I explained to her, my present location doesn’t afford me the opportunity of readily receiving postal mail. I asked her to scan the case and email it to me. She declined, claiming that her scanner was broken.

I’m predicting that Ligonier’s next move will be to call off the dogs who’ve been daily badgering me for personal contact information. They should already have figured out that won’t work. In fact that strategy has just backfired by causing me to be just that much more suspicious. So they’ll change the tactic from bad cop to good cop.

Their next move may be to hire a “Christian mediator.” It might be an actual bona fide mediator, or it could be just another Ligonier shill. Either way it won’t matter. Through the mediator they’ll make appeals for “biblical reconciliation” and once I agree to enter into Christian mediation they’ll just take the contact information that I’ll be obligated to furnish to the mediator and use to file another lawsuit. The problem for me is that if I refuse to enter into mediation it’ll make me look bad, but the potential consequences of agreeing to mediate would be far worse. So unless Ligonier first legally promises in writing to never sue me again there’s no chance that I’ll agree to being setup for another Ligonier lawsuit by a Ligonier ploy for “mediation.”

Irrespective, the issue anymore isn’t even about brokering some peaceful resolution between me and Ligonier Ministries. The issue is about Ligonier’s very obvious and very public sins of suing fellow Christians and then repeatedly lying about that lawsuit. Everything else is just a side-show. Christians are a very forgiving people, if that is they see some indications of contrition and repentance. When will Ligonier repent?

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.

Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit: Tim Dick’s Public Statement

If you haven’t already done so let me recommend that you first read Ligonier Ministries: “Withrawal Of Legal Complaint” as it will put this article in the proper context.

Ligonier Ministries President Tim DickIn his Public Statement, Tim Dick says of the Ligonier Ministries, Inc. and Timothy Dick vs. Frank Vance lawsuit (case no. 06-CA-1669-16-K):

“On August 24, 2006 a complaint was filed in a Judicial Court of Seminole County, by Ligonier Ministries seeking injunctive relief because of the significant threats and allegations being made by a “blogger” under the name Frank Vance, whose true identity is yet unknown.”

If Tim Dick had any common sense he would have made an attempt to ascertain my “true identity” (I assume by that he means my address, phone, etc.) before he sued me. Nevertheless, as everyone can plainly tell, that lack of identity information didn’t prevent him from suing me anyway. Mr. Dick offers no explanation for why he sued a fellow Christian and thereby violated 1 Corinthians 6 with impunity.

“The decision to take this step was extremely difficult.”

Yeah, sure Tim. There’s just one problem with all that “extremely difficult” stuff. It’s called your reputation. You’ve got quite a reputation for issuing legal threats against potential whistle blowers, especially employees that you kicked to the curb like so much rubbish. You’ve never found it “extremely difficult” to call up your attorneys and tell them to fire off a letter threatening to sue anyone who rubs you the wrong way. In the year you became Ligonier’s President your judicious use of lawyers resulted in Ligonier’s attorney bills exploding from zero to $64,350.00. The public doesn’t know yet what Tim Dick’s lawyer bills are for 2005 because as CFO Tim is way behind on getting the tax returns done.

“The intention of the complaint was simply to respond to the unfounded, slanderous attack of our accuser, and to seek an objective response.”

Such a claim is absurd on its face. One doesn’t file a lawsuit for an injunction to “respond” or “to seek an objective response.” In this case Tim Dick sued for an injunction to completely silence me as a whistle blower in what is commonly known as a SLAPP lawsuit.

“I attempted to resolve this in private, as my beliefs require. Each time I refuted the accusations, he refused to listen.”

At no time did Tim Dick “refute the accusations.” Let him now produce the evidence in the form of the original emails, or any other documentation he possesses, in which he refuted any of the allegations that I brought privately to him. I have copies of all my email correspondence with Tim Dick. At no time did he ever “refute the accusations,” particularly of the most serious allegation that he’d defrauded Don Kistler in the Soli Deo Gloria acquisition. If he had just once ever said, “Frank, you’re mistaken. It never happened,” that would have been the end of it and I never would have gone public. This wasn’t an issue of I “refused to listen.” It was an issue that Tim Dick evaded either admitting or denying the allegations. He was responsive and timely in answering many other questions, but on the SDG issue he consistently evaded an answer. He evaded, he stalled for time, and then when I issued him a ten day deadline he immediately filed a SLAPP lawsuit to silence me.

“My denials were then used by the accuser to perpetuate his blog commentary. At that point, I stopped interacting with the accuser, who again escalated his attack, continuing to exhibit, by his public and private conduct, a testimony inconsistent with that of a Christian.”

At best Mr. Dick appears to be terribly confused about the chronology of events, and at worst he is once again lying. It appears that this statement is referring all the way back to when he first started emailing me out of the blue, back in May. I found his behavior to be irrational if not bizarre, and completely inconsistent with how the President of a prominent and highly respect ministry should be conducting himself. I soon discovered that Tim has frequently engaged in this same behavior with a number of other bloggers as well. So I took our email exchanges and created an article from them. I find it more than just a little ironic, and certainly hypocritical, that someone like Tim Dick thinks himself qualified to judge my “testimony inconsistent with that of a Christian.” But then I should also expect someone like Tim Dick to play the “he must not be a Christian” card. That’s the only card he’s got to play if he wants to justify suing me while ignoring the biblical prohibitions of 1 Corinthians 6.

“In light of Don Kistler’s statement and our concern for the health of the church, I have asked that our complaint be withdrawn.”

Why isn’t the Kistler statement posted anywhere other than on Challies? Why didn’t Ligonier post it on their own web site? Is there a legal reason they’re afraid to do so? Why was the Kistler statement posted on Challies on September 21 and then the very next day the announcement was made public that the lawsuit “had been withdrawn”? Is that all just a coincidence? Is the timing of that all just a big coincidence? How very convenient that the SDG fraud allegations will never be able to be examined under by discovery and under oath.

Tim Dick should have thought about “the health of the church” before he sued me, not after. This lawsuit has brought reproach not just upon Ligonier ministries but on the body of Christ as a whole. I’ve already seen blog comments from unbelievers shaking their heads at those foolish and thin-skinned Christians who will file a lawsuit at the drop of a hat rather than resolve their disputes privately. I hope that Ligonier’s lawsuit won’t prove to be a stumbling stone of offense, but the fact is that Christians and non-Christians alike are greatly offended. Some are evidently even now offended by the very Reformed theology that Dr. Sproul espouses. In their minds if this is the fruit of Reformed theology they don’t want any part of it. As one commenter put it:

“This episode and others have made me rethink the reformed position. There are enough verses in scripture to make me rethink it but mainly because these people think they are elect, they think they can live and act anyway they want? They think they can lie, spin, take donor money to live in luxury? They think they are not accountable to anyone? They have made a mockery of God’s Word and don’t even seem to see it. They have sown seeds of confusion and chaos…on purpose.”

It’s hard for me to even know how to respond to that commenter. I’ve been a Christian most of my life, and I long ago embraced Reformed theology. But I’ve also seen a great deal of pride in my Reformed brethren, and it saddens me. How we love to study, but when it comes to putting it into practice the orthopraxy and orthodoxy are too often divorced form one another. The best I can hope to do is to tell that commenter “The theology is sound, even if the life of the one who preaches it isn’t. The message is still correct even if the messenger is flawed. Our faith isn’t in any man, but in Christ alone — Sola Christos.” But it’s not just RC Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries that’s being a stumbling stone of offense. At least one other professing Reformed minister is claiming that it’s perfectly acceptable to sue me, and there may be others. But just as significant are all the prominent Reformed ministers who’ve looked on and said absolutely nothing, challenging nothing, sinning by their silence, and all the while the world looks on in amazement.

“I regret any confusion this may have caused to our constituents, staff, Board of Directors and our friends and colleagues in the Christian community.”

The problems that you have caused Tim are a whole lot bigger than mere “confusion.” This is called “sin” and you more than anyone else are the responsible party.

“As the President and CEO of Ligonier Ministries I accept full responsibility for the decision and consider the matter closed.”

Whoa! Hang on there Tim! You consider it closed? Have you considered that maybe you’d better ask your “constituents” if they consider it to be closed?

If it’s “closed” then why was the lawsuit withdrawn “without prejudice”? If it were really closed you would have withdrawn it “with prejudice” so that you couldn’t sue me again. Based on that alone I have serious doubts that you really consider this to be “closed.” If you really wanted to send a message that you’d learned your lesson — that you’d repented — you would have had that lawsuit dismissed with prejudice. Instead you’ve reserved the right to re-file a lawsuit against me anytime you want, when no one is paying attention, especially me. Maybe next time even the Orlando Sentinel won’t be paying attention.

You didn’t withdraw the lawsuit Tim because you had a sudden epiphany and were pricked in your conscience and recognized how unbiblical your conduct was. You did it only because you came under withering criticism and you started losing financial supporters in droves. If you could sue me again and keep it all hush-hush I have no doubts that you’d do it in a heartbeat.

You haven’t repented Tim, and you haven’t even owned up to anything. Accepting responsibility without admitting you’ve done anything wrong is a charade. You’ve practically ruined Ligonier Ministries and this is the best contrition you show? All you’ve done is offer cheap excuses and self-justifications. At best all you’ve owned up to is causing “confusion.”

“I pray that in the days ahead, God will be glorified as we continue to serve Him.”

I pray so too Tim, but I can assure you that God isn’t being glorified by your self-justifying Public Statement. This is a complete sham and only adds to the evidence that you are entirely unfit to oversee a Christian ministry.

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.

Ligonier Ministries: “Withrawal Of Legal Complaint”

On Wednesday September 20, 2006 Lignonier Ministries posted a “Withdrawal Of Legal Complaint,” as well as a “Public Statement From Tim Dick”, on their web site. Two days later on Friday September 22 at 5:27 (EDT) I received an email from Tim Dick which included links to Ligonier’s two public statements regarding the lawsuit itself, as well as the alleged “withdrawal” of their “legal complaint” against me. I say “alleged withdrawal” because as of the date of this article the court has yet to receive any paperwork from Ligonier Ministries motioning the court to withdraw the lawsuit.

It’s good that Tim emailed me those links because without them it’d be impossible to find those documents. Even though the lawsuit against me is a very public matter they’ve very carefully avoided drawing anyone’s attention to it by not posting any links to those documents anywhere on their web site. Obviously Ligonier is ashamed and embarrassed of what they’ve done, and they should be.

In a subsequent article I’ll address Tim Dick’s Public Statement. In this article I’ll comment on Ligonier’s “Withdrawal Of Legal Complaint”:

“On August 24, 2006, Ligonier Ministries filed a legal complaint and a request for an injunction since no ecclesiastical court could be found.”

“Legal complaint” is just another way of saying “lawsuit,” although for some odd reason Ligonier has been careful to avoid the use of the term, correcting anyone who calls it a “lawsuit.” They’ve also termed their lawsuit an “injunction,” again refusing to acknowledge that an injunction is in fact a lawsuit. Additionally, they’ve also avoided acknowledging that they’ve sued me for defamation and that they’re seeking monetary damages.

The excuse that they sued me because they were unable to identify a suitable “ecclesiastical court” is a sham which in no way absolves them of their Christian duty to not file lawsuits against Christians (1 Corinthians 6). Furthermore, as I’ve already explained there are multiple Christian organizations readily available which specialize in Christian mediation. Ligonier did have biblical alternatives readily available for resolving this dispute and for them to claim otherwise demonstrates either gross ignorance or blatant deception.

“The filing was an attempt to stem the slanderous and reckless allegations being made about Ligonier and its leaders on the Internet by an individual known as Frank Vance, whose true identity is still unknown to us.”

Stemming the allegations could have been easily accomplished had Tim Dick just answered my questions in the negative regarding the Soli Deo Gloria acquisition, “Did you defraud Don Kistler?” Tim repeatedly evaded answering that question, even though we exchanged multiple emails. Had he just simply said, “No, it never happened” then I never would have gone public. Just so Tim would know I wasn’t bluffing about giving him a deadline of ten days to correct the SDG issue I posted a comment on August 21 on my blog and also emailed Tim Dick a link to that comment:

“For example something that Tim Dick perpetrated a couple years ago was just brought to my attention (keep those emails coming folks). This is VERY significant news that only confirms that Tim Dick has earned his reputation for being a “shark.” This past Friday Tim and I dialogued via email about it. I told Tim about what I now know about how he defrauded a minister. The incident is extraordinarily troubling and if publicly exposed would be devastating not just to Tim Dick personally, but to the entire Ligonier organization. I don’t want to see Ligonier harmed. Just the opposite. But I can’t in good conscience just stand by and not blow the whistle on a lying thieving con artist like Tim Dick.

“I’ve communicated my concerns to Mr. Dick along with a proposed resolution. He hasn’t got much time. If Tim fixes it then I’ve committed to not say anything more about it. But I don’t give Tim much credit for common sense so don’t be surprised if he leaves me with no other choice but to expose it all here. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.”

Tim continued to ignore me and thus he gave me no choice but to go public. He refused to deny the allegations that had been brought to my attention by several men who had first-hand knowledge of what they believed to be an acquisition by fraud of Soli Deo Gloria, a fraud which they blamed entirely upon Tim Dick. Had Tim even once just said, “Frank you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your sources are misinformed” I never would have gone public. But Tim didn’t do that. Rather than denying the allegations he instead used the ten-day deadline as a window of opportunity to SLAPP me. Moving our dispute into the civil courts rather than seeking to resolve it privately as Christians proved to be fatal, not just for Tim Dick personally, but for the entire Ligonier organization. The damage that he has caused Ligonier by his foolish and reckless behavior could prove catastrophic.

As to my “true identity,” any such newfound Ligonier excuses obviously didn’t hinder Ligonier’s ability to sue me. As to these new allegations that I’ve been operating under an assumed name see my response here.

“The accuser’s malicious attacks culminated with the accusation that Ligonier defrauded Soli Deo Gloria, in our recent acquisition of it. This has been categorically refuted by Don Kistler, SDG’s founder.”

I’ll have to reserve comment on the Kistler statement until it can be thoroughly investigated and shown to have actually originated from Don Kistler, and if Dr. Kistler himself did produce it that he wasn’t coerced into it. It would be nice if I could say there isn’t a cloud of suspicion hanging over that statement, but there is, and I’m far from the only one who’s suspicious about it. Among the cloudiness in the Kistler statement is the issue of Dr. Kistler’s stroke which allegedly prevented his timely response to my allegations. Yet as of August 20 Dr. Kistler had been released from the hospital and was already publicly posting comments about his recovery. Strokes can be quite serious, but from some accounts Dr. Kistler’s health couldn’t have been nearly as severely impacted by the stroke as certain Ligonier “senior management” have been leading us to believe. To at least one caller John Duncan described Dr. Kistler’s condition as precarious. This has made for an effective cover story as to why it’s taken so long for the Kistler statement to be released, but those who are aware of Dr. Kistler’s remarkable recovery know that the cover story lacks credibility.

If the cloud hanging over the Kistler letter can be removed then I’ll make a point of issuing an apology to Don Kistler. However, no one should expect me to issue an apology to Tim Dick. By refusing to deny the allegations that were brought to me by several credible witnesses Tim Dick brought everything on his own head. Furthermore he could have and should have gotten Don Kistler’s statement to me prior to my August 28 deadline, rather than waiting an entire month to arrange for it. Again, everything about the Kistler letter is suspect, but hopefully that can all be cleared up.

“Threats to Ligonier and its leadership have continued to escalate, with the accuser issuing deadlines for Ligonier to answer his non-credible charges. At one point our president was told he had “put a knife to his own throat,” by ignoring the accuser.”

If the SDG allegation was “non-credible” then Tim Dick should have just said so. He should have denied the allegations, but he never did. As to the “knife to your own throat comment,” I did in fact use that figure of speech, and that’s all it was, a figure of speech. Here’s what I said in one of my August 18 emails to Tim:

“Tim, you’re a bigger fool than I thought. Playing dumb or ignoring me is like sticking a knife to your own throat. You understand perfectly well what I’m talking about, which is exactly why you addressed everything in my email with the obvious exception of the most important issue of all, your theft of SDG by fraudulently switching the contract. Ignore me at your own peril… Ten days Tim.”

For Tim to now make an issue of that only underscores how thin-skinned he is, and it’s consistent with his suing me for defamation for calling him a “nincompoop.”

” Throughout this entire ordeal, numerous emails and posts refuting the accuser were ignored by him.”

What emails? I’ve already gone on the record flatly denying that I ever received any emails of any kind from anyone at Ligonier, Tim Dick or otherwise, “refuting the accuser.” As for blog comments, yes I received a number of those, specifically from “Passerby” who claimed to be “Ligonier senior management.” However, Passerby refused to give himself any credibility by identifying himself by name or to even privately email me as I suggested he do so that we could dialogue. It was I who sought an opportunity for fruitful dialogue. Passerby repeatedly ignored my publicly-posted offers. Moreover for Passerby to now claim that his rantings could in any way constitute “refuting” is absurd.

“Mediation through ecclesiastical means is always preferred. On at least six occasions, we have sought information from the accuser as to how we might contact his pastor or session. The accuser has refused all requests, publicly scoffing at the notion.”

How very godly of them to only now make an appeal to Christian mediation a month after they’d already sued me! Yes, I did refuse to furnish the name of my church and pastor, and I also explained why.

“Having withdrawn the complaint, we ask friends and fellow believers to pray that we will have wisdom as this matter comes to a peaceful end.”

That statement was posted one week ago and publicly released two days later. “Having withdrawn” is past tense meaning that as of a week ago it had already been done. A prerequisite for withdrawing a lawsuit is to file the necessary motion with the court so the court can then act upon it. My legal counsel informs me that it would’ve taken Ligonier’s attorneys all of just a few minutes to draw up the necessary paperwork. But to do that it would’ve first required Tim Dick calling his attorneys and telling them to withdraw the lawsuit. Did that ever happen? Then it would take a day for the mail to arrive at the court, or approximately thirty minutes if Ligonier’s lawyers hand delivered it to the court. Ligonier didn’t say, “We’re going to withdraw the complaint but it might take us a week or three before we get around to it.” They publicly announced that it was withdrawn. No doubt the next Ligonier public statement will be all about blaming their attorneys.

The fact that an entire week has gone by after Ligonier’s “senior management” publicly announced that the lawsuit had already been withdrawn, and they haven’t so much as even filed the paperwork with the court yet, only further undermines the credibility of Ligonier’s “senior management.” Either they have once again lied, or they are bunglers (and probably both), but neither is befitting for the management of a donor-supported $10 million ministry.

In conclusion I’d assert that Ligonier is in desperate need of a major upper management shakeup. Tim Dick has more than proven that he’s unfit to oversee a Christian ministry. He lacks both the ministerial and professional qualifications. Family connections do not a ministry CEO make. But there are others who are complicit in the Ligonier lies and cover ups as well, including John Duncan. They too must go. Ligonier’s staff also include at least one who publicly boasts of squandering the salaries they receive, thanks to the financial support of Ligonier donors, on drunk binges and fornicating.

It’s time for some major house cleaning. It’s time to haul out the trash.

Then there’s the matter of the outrageous “compensation” being taken by the Sproul and Dick families, between them over $1 million/year combined. For the Board of Directors to continue turning a blind eye to so many abuses is inexcusable. Just as extraordinary is the silence of RC Sproul himself during this time of crisis. Unless RC Sproul acts swiftly and decisively, and unless RC Sproul himself issues a public statement, Ligonier’s credibility will continue to erode. RC Sproul’s silence for the past month only sends the message that he fully supports and condones the behavior of his son-in-law.

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.

More Ligonier Lies: Ligonier Ministries Has “Withdrawn Complaint”

For the past two weeks (and particularly last week), Ligonier Ministries’ supporters have lit up Ligonier’s phone lines. Most of them had just one thing on their minds: “How can you as a Christian ministry violate Scripture with impunity and sue a fellow professing Christian?” Offended by such unbiblical and unchristian behavior, Ligonier donors not only called in to complain in droves but they also started dropping their financial support.

The initial response of Ligonier “senior management” (Tim Dick, John Duncan and possibly others) was to instruct their customer service reps to tell callers: “There is no lawsuit. We’re not sure where that story came from.” That of course was a bold-faced lie, and, evidently, few Ligonier supporters bought it, instead declaring they would stop contributing while the scandal continued.

So early last week, under withering criticism, Ligonier senior management backed up, regrouped, and instructed their employees to stop saying anything about the lawsuit. Instead, employees were permitted to say only: “I am not able to comment on that at this time. It would be best if you e-mailed” Callers who insisted on speaking with someone were referred to the voicemail of the “frontline manager.”

Through it all, at no time did Ligonier Ministries or Tim Dick ever admit that they had filed a lawsuit against me, a fellow Christian. In fact they repeatedly denied that the nature of their actions against me constituted a lawsuit. At best, in their communications to customer service reps, they attempted to portray their actions as something other than a lawsuit by countering that “it is only an injunction,” to stop publication of my blog without admitting that an injunction is just one kind of relief requested by a formal lawsuit. Ligonier also evaded mentioning that they have sued me for damages:

“This is an action for damages in excess of $15,000.00, exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney’s fees, and for temporary and permanent injunctive relief based upon common law defamation…”

Then, suddenly late this past Friday that changed, or at least some of the story changed. I received the following email from Ligonier’s President Tim Dick:

From: “Tim Dick”
To: “Tim Challies”,, “Frank Vance”
Subject: Statement links
Fri, 22 Sep 2006 17:27:37 (EDT)

The following links will take you to public statements from Ligonier Ministries Sr. staff and CEO. Please feel free to post at your discretion.

Statement from senior management

Statement from Tim Dick

Timothy A. Dick
President and CEO

Ligonier Ministries
400 Technology Park
Lake Mary Fl 32746

The links that Tim Dick furnished lead to two statements, one from “senior management” and one from Tim Dick. According to Ligonier’s senior management they have (past tense) “withdrawn the complaint” against me. So now at least they’re acknowledging that they have taken legal action in court against me. Furthermore, they’re claiming as of September 22 that it’s been “withdrawn.”

The fact that Tim Dick waited until after 5 PM eastern time on a Friday to send this email struck me as opportunistic, especially in light of the fact that those links might have been posted two days prior: see “9_20_2006” in the URL (on the other hand it’s possible the links were backdated for some reason). Delaying notice of that information until late Friday meant that it would be impossible for anyone to contact the court and verify whether or not the lawsuit had indeed been withdrawn.

Anyone who has to deal with PR issues knows that if you want to bury a story you wait until late Friday afternoon to release it. That results in the least possible news coverage because people are busy with other things over the weekend. Furthermore, Tim’s email was sent to only three sites, further limiting its coverage. Additionally, there is no way to find those statements on Ligonier’s web site; there are no links to them anywhere on Ligonier’s web site, and a search for them by title produces nothing.

Under the circumstances, there is simply no way that I can view the timing of this as mere coincidence. Tim Dick’s email has shady written all over it. Given the month-long wait for any public statement from Ligonier about the lawsuit, a couple of other blogs were extremely eager to post the content of Tim Dick’s email on Friday, and they did so without making any effort whatsoever to verify it. However, I knew better than to trust a guy like Tim Dick. No, I’d just have to patiently wait until Monday morning to verify if Tim Dick was telling the truth about his having “withdrawn” the lawsuit. Only later would it be appropriate to comment on the other aspects of the Ligonier statements.

Monday has come, and as of the time of this posting it’s been determined that the Florida clerk of the court where Tim Dick and Ligonier sued me has nothing in the case file indicating that Ligonier has filed anything with the court asking that the case be withdrawn, nor has the clerk received anything in this morning’s mail, nor has anything been deposited at the court clerk’s desk where attorneys hand deliver motions and pleadings. Let me repeat: not only did Ligonier and Tim Dick not file anything last week to dismiss their lawsuit against me but the clerk of the court couldn’t find any such thing even today. Thus for Ligonier and Tim Dick to say that the lawsuit “was withdrawn” (past tense) is patently false. This is evidence of just more Ligonier Lies.

In fact, Ligonier proved it had no intentions whatsoever of withdrawing the lawsuit at least as late as last Thursday. According to the case file at the court, on September 21 at 8:30 a.m. Ligonier attempted once again to have another ex parte hearing with the judge, specifically on a “Motion For Assistance In Determining Proper Method To Effect Constructive Service Of Process.” So as of last Thursday they weren’t looking to drop the case at all but rather how to move the case forward more quickly.

These facts are documented and accessible to the public as part of the court’s permanent file on Ligonier’s lawsuit. In fact the court clerks say that they’ve been fielding quite a few calls about this particular lawsuit. When I asked about the case this morning the clerk immediately responded, “Ah yes, the world-famous Ligonier Ministries lawsuit. We’ve been getting calls about this from all over the country. We’re all pretty amazed by how much attention this case has attracted.”

Adding to the list of Ligonier lies is this new lie submitted as a comment by a Ligonier customer service rep to Jen’s Gems that “the lawsuit that you have posted was withdrawn much earlier this week. Vance has not shared this. There is a lot that he has chosen not to share.”

As far as my “sharing” information, it’s a little hard to “share” things that no one has ever bothered to “share” with me in the first place. It’s a lot like getting sued and having the plaintiff lie to the judge and say, “it is impossible to contact him or to serve him with the Verified Complaint or the Instant Motion. Moreover, counsel was not able to provide the Defendant with notice and an opportunity to be heard regarding the request for temporary injunctive relief for the same reason.” Ligonier tried to rush the judge to issue a temporary injunction, but they knew I’d object and that any legal objections would only delay what they wanted to get immediately. So they asked the judge to make a ruling without me even having the opportunity to make a defense for myself. That’s called an “ex parte” hearing and they lied to the judge in an effort to get it. Thankfully the judge didn’t buy it. Ligonier and their attorneys now need to think through very carefully the probable consequences of lying to Judge Nelson.

Speaking of “sharing” things with my readers, I would like to have been able to have “shared” the fact that Ligonier sued me on August 25, but I wasn’t able to do that until I found out about it eleven days later, not from Ligonier Ministries but from the Orlando Sentinel. I would like to have been able to “share” with everyone that “the lawsuit that you have posted was withdrawn much earlier this week.” There’s just one problem. Once again I was never informed, and then when they did inform me it just happened to have been after the court was already closed for the weekend. In coming days there will be much more to “share” about all of this even beyond the fact that the lawsuit was not withdrawn last week as falsely claimed by Ligonier.

The public statements by Tim Dick and Ligonier “Senior Management” contain more lies than the false claim of the lawsuit being dismissed, and I will respond to them in detail over the next few days. I wish I could agree with Tim Dick when he says that he “considers the matter closed.” However, nothing about this matter is closed or is likely to be any time soon so long as Ligonier’s leadership continue with their lies and cover-ups.

With this latest report Ligonier donors are bound to be even more outraged than they were before. They should know that the Ligonier Board Of Directors is slated to meet sometime in the next week or two. If you haven’t already done so you should consider contacting the Board members and conveying your concerns. Don’t be afraid to make demands — since you are a stakeholder the Board is accountable to you. However, let me point out that demanding only the firing of Tim Dick is unlikely be an adequate remedy since John Duncan as General Manager may wind up taking his place. That would be no kind of solution at all, and in fact that kind of medicine may prove worse than the disease.

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.

R.C. Sproul When Will You and Ligonier Ministries Repent?

R.C. SproulTime for a Ligonier Ministries and Sproul family recap.

Back in January RC Sproul Jr achieved the incredible feat of getting himself defrocked. Then barely a month later RC Sproul put his defrocked son on a podium behind a pulpit to teach and preach to brethren in Christ as though being defrocked meant nothing at all. By doing that both RC Sproul and RC Jr openly rebelled against church discipline.

The evidence and testimony used in the RC Sproul Jr defrocking case was overwhelming. Even more significant though is the fact that RC Jr and his Elders plead guilty to the charges. But that didn’t deter RC Sproul from publicly stating that the charges against his disgraced son were “fraudulent.”

That kind of an allegation necessarily slandered the RPCGA and every Elder of the Presbytery which voted to defrock RC Jr (which was all of them, since they voted unanimously). It’s one thing to defend your own flesh and blood. It’s another thing altogether to publicly slander the good name of a Presbyterian denomination, and the Elders who make up that denomination. Dr. RC Sproul has yet to repent of his slanderings.

What some people still don’t realize is that one of those RPCGA Elders that voted to defrock RC Sproul Jr is Dr. Donald Kistler of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries. In 2004 Soli Deo Gloria was acquired by Ligonier Ministries under what are being described as very questionable circumstances.

Frank Vance was the first to blow the lid off this incredible story. Vance alleges that Ligonier’s CEO Tim Dick defrauded SDG founder Don Kistler. Now it’s all over the internet. But it wasn’t Frank Vance who’s responsible for it getting it spread all over the internet. Ironically the story spread like wildfire entirely because of Tim Dick. How you might ask? It happened because Ligonier Ministries and Tim Dick filed a lawsuit against Frank Vance.

The actual lawsuit can be found at Ligonier Ministries, Inc. and Timothy Dick vs. Frank Vance.
Now hundreds and maybe thousands of Christian bloggers like Frank Vance are worried about the practical ramifications of Ligonier’s lawsuit. There’s a lot riding on this case and the first amendment freedom of speech rights of bloggers. Even more importantly many thousands of Christians are shaking their heads in disbelief that a stalwart of the Reformed faith and a biblical scholar like RC Sproul could be spitting all over the Bible by permitting his ministry to sue another Christian. First Corinthians 6 is real clear about this. Regardless of anything that Frank Vance has done Ligonier’s actions are inexcusable.

Some are choosing to put all the blame at the feet of Tim Dick, effectively letting RC Sproul off the hook. Even Frank Vance appears to be giving a pass to Sproul. I wish I could share Vance’s optimistic view of RC Sproul. I used to but I just can’t any longer. In my mind he lost all credibility when he claimed that the CREC would clear his son’s name. Obviously that never happened, but even if the CREC would have produced a Report that would have cleared his name every serious Presbyterian would have seen it for what it was — a total sham. RC Sproul is smarter than that, and for him to actually think that Doug Wilson’s boutique “confederation” could have cleared his son’s name in anyone’s eyes other than himself only proves how blind he is in matters that concern his own family.

Now on top of everything else that’s happened this year in the way of Sproul family scandals we now have this spectacle of Ligonier Ministries suing a Christian blogger. Where will it all end?

RC Sproul when will you repent?


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

Ligonier Ministries Employees Instructed To Lie?

On September 18 I received the following comment posted to Ligonier Ministries Board In the Dark About Lawsuit:

Practicing Attorney said…

Talked with two Ligonier reps today. Talked with the second rep to confirm the story of the first. The two witnesses — whose names I will keep to myself for the time being to protect the innocent — said the same thing, so I regard what I report below as confirmed according to biblical standards of evidence: It seems that there was a staff meeting today about your blog and what Ligonier was going to do about it and what staff were supposed to say about it.

The customer service reps were told:
(1) Ligonier is still trying to figure out what is the Christian way to handle it. When asked: Isn’t it a little late to try and figure out the Christian way after already filing a lawsuit?

The response was:
(2) There is no lawsuit, and they’re not sure where that idea came from. It’s only a “injunction” — kind of a way to ask the court what to do, because blogs are new, and we’re not sure what to do. When asked for an official statement from Ligonier:

(3) Told the ministry is working on one. Things are moving so fast… we have to make sure we cover everything in the statement… so we’re still working on it. Don’t have anything official yet.

When asked who informed the customer service reps of the above:
(4) Senior Manager John Duncan

It appears, Frank, that you have them running and running scared. Who was it that taught the biggest lies are the most effective? Was it Lenin? In any case, the leadership at Ligonier are sinning, and they know it, and they cannot defend it, and they don’t want to repent, so all they have left is an effort to hide behind a big lie: there is no lawsuit. The truth, of course, is otherwise, as even the pagan press noticed. Ligonier has filed a complaint against you and a motion for an injunction; i.e., they have sued you.

That Ligonier still won’t admit to even what is on the public record tells me that more heads than Tim Dick’s need to roll. No wonder the Ligonier board isn’t aware of the lawsuit.

Then the next day I received an email from “Joe Lawyer” informing me of a very similar phone conversation that he’d just had with a Ligonier customer service representative. I repost his email here with his permission:

Dear Mr. Vance,

Let me confirm the testimony of Practicing Attorney. The same thing happened to me too. I called Ligonier to find out if they’d ever published anything on 1 Corinthians 6:1-7. “Bob” (I’m using a fictitious name to protect him from Tim Dick’s retaliation) told me “No I can’t help you with that.” I asked Bob if others were calling in and asking to get Ligonier materials on 1 Corinthians 6. He said, “Yes and we’ve been instructed to just say ‘No I can’t help you with that’.” I asked Bob to explain how Ligonier could think they could be filing lawsuits against other Christians and not be transgressing biblical law? Bob said, “I can tell you that this isn’t a lawsuit. It’s an injunction. I can also tell you that there’s no lawsuit because the blogger hasn’t been legally notified.”

I thanked Bob for at least admitting that Ligonier had filed for an injunction and then explained that it’s impossible to file for a legal injunction without there being a lawsuit. I then pointed out the dishonesty of telling people that because Mr. Vance hadn’t been legally served there wasn’t a lawsuit. Ligonier’s failure to notify Mr. Vance doesn’t nullify the suit. I also told Bob that I’d contacted the court and verified that Ligonier had sued Mr. Vance and they hadn’t just sued for injunctive relief they also sued for defamation. I explained to Bob that his boss had lied to him and that whether he intended to or not every time he told a caller “There’s no lawsuit” he was aiding and abetting a lie. Bob said, “I don’t really know much of anything about it myself. I’m just repeating what I’ve been told to say. Please take what I said as just ignorance. I wish I could say what I think about all this but I just can’t.”

I asked Bob if he was a Christian. He told me he was. I told him as Christians we need to obey those in authority over us including the boss at work but we can’t obey them if what they tell us to do is sin. “What your boss is ordering you to do Bob is to repeat lies and deceive Ligonier supporters. Maybe you didn’t understand that before but now you do. Now you can’t just say ‘I didn’t know, I was ignorant.’ What are you going to do about it now? Are you going to continue lying?” Bob said, “I wish I were free to answer your questions. I’d like to be able to say what I really think but I just can’t.” Bob said I should email the customer service manager Jay Ward and tell him my concerns.

Mr. Vance not only is Ligonier Ministries transgressing scripture by suing you now on top of that they’re also lying about it and saying they haven’t sued you all. This is outrageous and the kind of corporate duplicity I’d expect out of Enron, not a Christian ministry. When I first discovered your web site I thought you must have been some kind of a crackpot but if anything you’ve only been too gracious to Ligonier. Things are even worse than you’ve told us. This is corrupt organization and if it weren’t for you pulling the alarm I think it’d only have been a few more years and we’d have probably seen another Jim Bakker scandal. It needs to be nipped in the bud now before it gets worse.

I can’t support ministries that I can’t trust and Ligonier has totally violated my trust. I won’t put up with being lied to by Christian ministries. I don’t know which is worse, filing a lawsuit against a Christian or lying about it and saying they didn’t do it. Thanks Mr. Vance for everything you’ve done. May Ligonier repent and may God be glorified.

So on top of everything else Ligonier Ministries is training young men and young ladies in the pagan arts of promulgating lies and corporate cover ups. For those who have any lingering doubts about the fact that Ligonier Ministries has filed a lawsuit against me here is the proof (and here’s an alternate site as well)

I’ve received multiple emails from Ligonier fans and supporters asking what they could do. Many have wanted to directly contact Ligonier decision makers but have had no idea how to go about it. Like a lot of multi-million dollar Christian ministries the Ligonier decision makers don’t make themselves accessible or approachable, and that only magnifies the accountability problems. I’ve received multiple reports that Ligonier supporters have been refused the contact information for Ligonier officers and board members, and they’re given no assurances that anyone other than Tim Dick will read their mail. So much for accountability.

While it’s probably a good idea to contact Tim Dick, or at least cc him on all correspondence, it’d likely be a total waste of time if you were to contact him alone. Mark and Jennifer Epstein know this from personal experience. When confronting Tim Dick he’s just likely to say the equivalent of, I don’t need your money anyway. Just shut up and go away.

The Ligonier decision makers are the officers and board members. After receiving multiple requests for this information I’ve furnished their contact information here:

Ligonier Ministries
400 Technology Park
Lake Mary, FL 32746
Toll-free: 800-435-4343
Local: 407-333-4244
Fax: 407-333-4233

Customer Service Supervisor: Jay Ward

John Duncan: Senior Manager

Tim Dick, CEO, President, CFO
2741 Deer Berry Ct
Longwood, FL 32779-3071
407-333-4106 (home)

Ligonier Ministries Board Of Directors:

Dr. R.C. Sproul, Chairman Founder & Chairman, Ligonier Ministries, Inc. Lake Mary, Florida
R.C. Sproul
2741 Deer Berry Ct
Longwood, FL 32779-3071
407-333-4106 (home)

Mrs. Vesta Sproul, Director Co-founder of Ligonier Ministries, Inc. Lake Mary, Florida
Vesta Sproul
2741 Deer Berry Ct
Longwood, FL 32779-3071
407-333-4106 (home)

Mrs. Pat Dizney, Director Entrepreneur Orlando, Florida
Pat Dizney
1110 S.W. Ivanhoe Blvd, Apt 31
Orlando, FL 32804
407-841-2264 (home)

Mr. Stephen Levee, Director Real Estate Developer Madisonville, Louisiana
Steve Levee
324 Robinhood Rd
Covington, LA 70433-4763
(985) 809-1717 (home)

Mr. Greg Miseyko, Director Investment Management Consultant, Morgan Stanley Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Gregory Miseyko
63 Little Harbor Way
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441-3606
(954) 596-2111 (home)

Mr. Archie Parrish, Director President, Serve International, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia
Archie Parrish
Serve International
P.O. Box 71716
Marietta, GA 30007
770-642-2449 (office)

As people pass along additional contact information I’ll update it here. A combination of letter writing, emails and personal phone calls is probably the most effective method of getting their attention.

The most significant of all decision makers are the Ligonier financial supporters, the “stakeholders” themselves. Think seriously about contacting other Ligonier supporters that you know and informing them. Don’t be dissuaded by those who might accuse you of “gossip.” By definition sharing your biblically-based concerns with friends over something that’s already public information can’t be gossip. Ligonier financial supporters in particular have a right to know what it is they’re supporting. Do responsible Christians give money to winos and drug addicts which will only further enable their sinful conduct? In the same way Christians should think very seriously about whether they want their tithes and offerings going to an organization to be used for an unbiblical and sinful lawsuit.

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.

Ligonier Ministries Board In the Dark About Lawsuit

Was the Ligonier Board Of Directors consulted prior to Tim Dick filing his lawsuit against me? Is the Ligonier Ministries Board Of Directors completely in the dark about it’s lawsuit that they as Board members bear legal responsibility for? Based upon what’s just been reported to me that certainly appears to be the case.

I received an email from a gentleman that I found to be most troubling in its ramifications. With his permission I repost it here. However, he did ask that I not use his name, so I’ll just refer to him as Jeff. Jeff raises some significant concerns and where applicable I’ve linked some of his statements to articles that support what he’s saying:

Dear Mr. Vance,

Thanks for shining some light on this Ligonier fiasco. I’m sure I’m not the only Ligonier supporter who’s been concerned for a long time about the direction that Ligonier has taken. It all seems to coincide with when Tim Dick became president and it’s all been downhill from there.

Over the weekend I tried to call three of the Ligonier board members. I was glad to find those phone numbers on your blog. Two them I only got answering machines for but one I did get through to. I’m not sure if he’d appreciate my repeating his name so I won’t. What’s important is what he told me and I think it’s important that your readers know it too.

I asked him if he thought it was right for Ligonier to be suing a brother in Christ? He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. He said he didn’t know anything about Ligonier filing any lawsuits. So I gave him instructions on how he could find the story online including the Orlando Sentinel article. I asked him how could a Ligonier board member be in the dark about something so significant that’s wrecking Ligonier’s public reputation? He said, “We as the board only talk about two or three times a year. The Ligonier office doesn’t really tell us much of anything. I guess I’d better make a few calls and figure out what this is all about.” He asked me to call him back in a few days when he hopes to have some information about it.

Mr. Vance I’ve served on some corporate boards including a few nonprofits and I know a few things about how corporate boards are supposed to operate. I know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be done but I’ll also have to admit that in my experience many corporate boards don’t do things correctly. I won’t say that what Tim Dick is doing is illegal but what he’s doing is a major abuse of the process. CEOs and Presidents of relatively small nonprofits like Ligonier don’t go filing lawsuits and especially the kinds of lawsuits that are likely to draw a lot of bad PR, not without first talking to their board members about it. That’s why boards exist, to give accountability and prevent Presidents and CEO’s from making major decisions that could potentially turn into public relations disasters and destroy the organization.

One of the significant functions of a board of directors is to act like a court of appeals both internally for interceding in significant staff disputes and externally to protect the interests of shareholders. With nonprofits we refer to the donors as “stakeholders.” In Tim Dick’s case he obviously violated that principle. He bypassed the Ligonier board as his court of appeals and betrayed Ligonier’s stakeholders in the process. Stakeholders have a right to know that their donations aren’t being wasted on frivolous and expensive litigation. Tim Dick is insubordinate to his board and he needs to be severely reprimanded.

If I served on Ligonier’s board I’d immediately move to have him fired and find a new CEO and that new CEO wouldn’t just be another Sproul family member. I’d also demand that Vesta Sproul resign as a board member. Obviously she’s in cahoots with Tim Dick and she too has betrayed the Ligonier board and the stakeholders.

I think that the Ligonier board itself bears responsibility for the gross mismanagement of Ligonier. A corporate board bears responsibility for governing the corporation that they serve. Corporate boards can and usually do delegate their authority to manage the corporation’s day to day affairs to the corporate officers that they hire, such as Presidents and CEOs. They don’t give up their governing responsibilities they just delegate them. But they always retain control. Telling a stakeholder like me “We only talk two or three times a year” is inexcusable. In a very real sense the corporate board protects the public from the sorts of abuses that can easily be committed by corporate officers. It’s supposed to function as a system of checks and balances. The Ligonier board has failed the public miserably. Each board member bears direct responsbility and if they’re not willing to do their job they should resign. If they fail to insist that the corporations officers be accountable to the board then they’re guilty of gross negligence and they can be held personally and legally liable for the damages that result from their negligence.

A Christian board of directors bears an even higher responsibility. Not only do they serve the interests of stakeholders they have to go about it biblically. They have to obey not only the laws of the land they must obey biblical laws too. If they’re too ignorant to know what the Bible requires then they have no business serving as board members of a Christian organization. I’ve had to resign from more than one Christian board because my fellow board members were unwilling to hold our corporate officers accountable. If I didn’t do that then I could have been held legally liable for the misdeeds of the officers and the negligence of my fellow board members. Corporate boards aren’t just supposed to rubber stamp what the CEO and other corporate officers decide to do and what they decide they want to tell us what they’ve done after the fact.

If corporate officers refuse to hold themselves accountable to their boards and if corporate boards are negligent about holding their officers accountable then it falls to the stakeholders to hold them both accountable. As a Ligonier stakeholder I’m going to do that and I hope every other Ligonier stakeholder does that too.

Thanks Mr. Vance for doing what should have been done a long time ago. This lawsuit against you only proves how out of control Ligonier has become. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

I appreciate Jeff for writing to explain from personal experience the responsibilities of a corporate board member, as well as the responsibilities of corporate stakeholders should a corporate board fail to competently discharge its responsibilities. It appears to me that Ligonier’s Board is in fact probably little more than a rubber-stamping committee. This lawsuit debacle could have never happened had the Ligonier Board been fulfilling their corporate obligations. This isn’t to say however that Tim Dick is off the hook. Tim Dick bears responsibility for keeping his board in the dark about his actions. He should have first gone to his Board to seek their authorization to file this unbiblical lawsuit. RC Sproul bears significant responsibility as well. After all it was RC Sproul who pushed to have Tim Dick hired by the Board Of Directors as President/CEO/CFO of Ligonier, and this in spite of Tim Dick’s obvious lack of professional and ministerial qualifications.

It’s late for the Ligonier Ministries Board Of Directors to intervene, but it’s still not too late. Ligonier’s Board needs to immediately take decisive action to rein in the abuses of Tim Dick. The Ligonier Board’s second order of business should be to promptly issue a public statement expressing their regret to Ligonier’s stakeholders for their governing negligence. In doing these things Ligonier’s Board could do much to restore donor confidence. Absent these things Ligonier’s support base will probably dry up.

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.

The Tim Dick Name-Calling Side-Show

Ever since I found out from the Press that I’d been sued by Ligonier Ministries, I’ve been trying to move the ball down the field and stay focused on the big issues at hand. As far as I can see there’s no issue that even comes close to the significance of Ligonier Ministries’ blatant violation of 1 Corinthians 6. But of course there are others who’d disagree, and it shows in their words and deeds. Among them there are some who keep attempting to divert everyone’s attention to irrelevant side-shows. One such side-show that keeps getting played like a cheap violin is my alleged “name-calling” against Tim Dick.

Some will undoubtedly disagree with me on this but I firmly believe that there’s a time and a place for name-calling, and there are plenty of biblical examples to support it. Not that it should be done routinely, or against just anyone. No, I believe such occasions should be uncommon and well thought out.

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Proverbs 28:4

My contending with Tim Dick was planned and calculated to achieve a certain objective. I’d contend that based upon what I already knew of Tim Dick that a little name-calling was the only effective means of smoking him out of his cave. Furthermore the name-calling was fact-based, not ad hominem. I knew that based upon Tim Dick’s reputation that he’s a very proud man. He only confirmed that to me by his repeated appearances commenting on various blogs where he’d been mentioned, and even on some where he hadn’t been mentioned at all.

Proud men can’t stand being called names and they’re often incapable of just ignoring it. Ignoring it would’ve demonstrated wisdom and humility on Tim Dick’s part. Ignoring it would’ve put me to open shame, as most people would’ve just viewed me as vindictive or a crackpot. By responding with a defamation lawsuit however Tim Dick not only demonstrates the magnitude of his own pride, he also demonstrates a spirit of folly.

What I anticipated from the prodding was to receive a very threatening email from Ligonier’s attorneys. That in and of itself would have made a significant story, confirming what I’ve been told by others — that Tim Dick has repeatedly used the threat of litigation against potential whistle blowers.

What I got instead was even much bigger — a full-blown lawsuit, bypassing entirely the customary prior threat. So the story is even far more significant than I’d anticipated. Now there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind what Tim Dick is made of. The lawsuit is the story, not the name-calling that some have tried to argue was the reason that Tim Dick filed litigation over some alleged “defamation.”

There are some who have contacted me and told me that they don’t condemn what I’ve done. Some are even very grateful, especially all the former Ligonier employees. But some also say, “Frank I just wish you wouldn’t call Tim Dick names. It detracts from the story.” Their concern is that the name-calling could be interpreted as ad hominem, and at least for some even “unChristian.” If it were ad hom then I could understand the offense taken. However it’s not ad hom at all.

Every name that I’ve uttered describing Tim Dick’s character are names that he’s commonly referred to by those who have worked with him and worked for him. Some are even very colorful nicknames, one of which I do regret publishing because of the offense it caused some readers. In the same way that I’ve alleged that Tim Dick defrauded Don Kistler based upon the testimony of several witnesses, I’ve also repeated the descriptive names that others have frequently uttered about Tim Dick to describe his shady and disturbing personality.

Producing people in court to testify that they too have used the very same words, phrases, and nicknames to describe Tim Dick’s character will be part of my legal defense. Multiple witnesses will step forward to say under oath, “Yes judge, I’ve many times openly referred to Tim Dick as a ______ and a ______ and a ______. Mr. Vance is only repeating what he’s heard a lot of others say.” That parade of witnesses is going to get real embarrassing for Tim Dick. It’s impossible to defame someone when you’re only repeating what everyone else has already said about a guy they personally know.

By virtue of being Ligonier’s CEO Tim Dick is a public figure. Public figures are far more open to scrutiny and criticism than private citizens, especially a man who manages and directs an organization that is legally classified as a “public charity” and a “public trust.” It doesn’t get much more “public” than that. Tim Dick as a public figure has earned a reputation with virtually everyone that he personally deals with for being all the things that I’ve repeated of him through those descriptive terms. The only reason that I’m being singled out to be sued isn’t because I’ve “defamed” Tim Dick. Tim Dick by his own conduct and reputation has defamed himself long ago. All I’ve done is brought out what is well known and well established from a limited circle into a little larger circle. But it’s now Tim Dick’s own lawsuit which has now brought his reputation out into the public eye at large.

Michael Metzler, as usual, has some good observations about this:

On this analysis, I think that we can certainly include someone like Tim Dick in the category of oppressor, if Frank Vance is correct about him. Therefore, some “name calling” can be biblically justified in this context. I think this is important. There is a time and place to speak harsh words towards another Christian. However, I would like to point out another complication in this situation that might mitigate the need for this kind of justification. Vance was clearly using the powers of a Christian investigative journalist. Vance was interrogating Tim Dick. And the interrogation worked. Through the use of prodding name calling, something only a man like Tim Dick would respond to on Vance’s take, Vance was able to not only get Dick to threaten litigation, but to actually file the suit! Vance has thereby proved for us one of his more significant claims about Dick. Interrogation can be risky business, as the movie A Few Good Men shows us; but in the end, if the investigator’s hunch is correct and the interrogation works, then the investigator “get’s off the hook.” That’s the way it works and that is how it should work here. Thus, Vance’s original behavior can be justified through an altered form of a “serrated edge” argument and also independently by the employment of investigative interrogation. Vance smoked Dick out of his cave for the entire world to see; to rejoice in the fact that you know Dick and Ligonier Ministries would file a law suit like this while also refusing the method of how this truth came about does not make sense in this case. A few mild actions of name calling comes with the territory here, and given who Tim Dick is showing himself to be, they have New Testament sanction.

There’s a noteworthy exception however to the name-calling which I’ll deny having ever said:

“In the past five months, Vance’s blog has described Dick as part of a ‘family of nincompoops,’ ‘a very corrupt man’ and aa lying, thieving con artist,’ according to the lawsuit. Orlando Sentinel

Thanks to Tim Dick and his attorneys I have yet to see the lawsuit, but I’ll assume that what the reporter is stating is an accurate read of it. However, I never “described Tim Dick as part of a ‘family of nincompoops’.” Here’s what I said:

“If you’ve followed some of my other articles here you know that I’ve been amazed by the family nincompoops that Dr. Sproul has entrusted his ministry to, such as Ligionier Ministries President Tim Dick, who also happens to be Dr. Sproul’s son-in-law and RC Jr’s brother-in-law. But Tim Dick is hardly the only evidence of nepotistic buffoonery at Ligonier Ministries. Incompetent and unqualified family members are to be found running around (or sleeping on the desk) everywhere in Ligonier, often in key positions, and generally with little or no understanding or appreciation for the Reformed theology championed by Dr. Sproul.”

If I’m going to be accused of defaming Tim Dick I’d at least like to be quoted accurately.

Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit: Did They Have Other Options?

Ligonier Ministries sues rather than using Christian mediationConflict resolution. It’s something that each of us, to greater and lesser degrees, must routinely participate in. Whether it be in mediating peace between our children, making peace with colleagues at work, making peace with church members, or even with a stranger out on the road who shakes his fist and makes an obscene gesture because we forgot to signal, we daily are called to resolve conflicts. We’re called to be peacemakers:

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18

Some people are very good with conflict resolution and others seem quite adept at taking relatively minor disputes and turning them into virtual scorched-earth civil wars.

Conflicts between people, as well as conflicts with the institutions that people manage, are inevitable. More important than any conflict is the issue of how the people involved in a conflict will work toward a peaceable resolution.

Of all people Christians should be the most adept at the peaceable resolution of their conflicts. But this is often not the case. Of all people Christian leaders, the Pastors, Elders, preachers and theologians, should be especially gifted at conflict resolution. For good or for ill they lead by their example. Sadly too often the example of conflict resolution set by Christian leaders is very poor. In fact the example that some Christian leaders set in conflict resolution is nothing short of deplorable. The Ligonier Ministries vs. Frank Vance lawsuit is an excellent example of that.

Pastors, preachers, teachers and ministry leaders “must be blameless, of good behaviour, temperate, prudent, respectable, not pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money” (1 Timothy 3:2,3,7). A Christian leader who lacks such character will prove himself incapable of managing conflicts well, and may actually make conflicts much worse than they started out to be.

Such a man is likely to find himself frequently at odds with his own church or ministry staff, his church members, and perhaps even with those outside his church or ministry. His testimony for Christ will inevitably suffer, and through the strife that he causes he may even bring reproach to the name of the Lord. It’s this very last issue that causes me by far the greatest concern in the civil lawsuit of Ligonier Ministries against me. The major problem here isn’t what this lawsuit will do to my reputation, or even what it will do to Ligonier’s reputation (albeit it will be far more devastating to theirs than mine). The major concern I have is what this lawsuit will do to the reputation of Reformed Christianity. Even more significant, this lawsuit can in no way bring honor to Christ, and it’s very likely to accomplish just the opposite.

Ever since finding out through the Press that Ligonier Ministries has sued me I’ve found it quite difficult to process what this all really means. It’s not that I don’t understand how lawsuits work, or the objectives of plaintiffs and defendants. It’s that I just can’t comprehend how a Bible-professing Reformed Christian ministry, headed by the most well-known and esteemed Reformed theologian of our day, RC Sproul, could blatantly violate the Bible which Ligonier Ministries says it believes:

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life? If then you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers? Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud, and that your brethren. 1Corinthians 6:1-8

The reasons why Christians shouldn’t sue Christians are self-evident and hardly even needs commentary. Nevertheless there have been many Christian commentaries written condemning the practice of Christian suing Christian. The Reformer John Calvin had quite a bit to say on the subject. Indeed, even RC Sproul himself has had much to say:

1 Cor. 6:1 Paul appears to change the topic from the evils of immorality to the problem of lawsuits among Christians. It is important, however, to notice the connection. In the first place, the topic of immorality has not been abandoned, but will recur in v. 9. Secondly, the failings of the Corinthians with regard to lawsuits are an expression of the problem already discussed in ch. 5, namely, a weak doctrine of the church… If the Corinthians understood the relation between the Israelite community and the Christian fellowship (5:12, 13 note), they would realize it was absurd for believers to go outside the church to solve their disputes.

6:7 Nevertheless, if the Corinthians understood the serious implications of all the improprieties in their church, and if they appreciated the qualities that should characterize believers (cf. 12:4-7), they would much sooner bear injustice than bring disgrace upon the Christian community by publicly exposing their misdeeds in the civil courts.

New Reformation Study Bible, R. C. Sproul General Editor (2005)

Given RC Sproul’s own disdain for Christians suing Christians how then can it be that his ministry would now violate the very principles that he espouses? The only conclusion I can come to is that there is a grave moral and logical disconnect between the orthodoxy and their orthopraxy of Ligonier Ministries.

Here’s what Matthew Henry had to say of this passage in his commentaries:

“Christians should not contend with one another, for they are brethren. This, if duly attended to, would prevent many law-suits, and end many quarrels and disputes. In matters of great damage to ourselves or families, we may use lawful means to right ourselves, but Christians should be of a forgiving temper. Refer the matters in dispute, rather than go to law about them. They are trifles, and may easily be settled, if you first conquer your own spirits. Bear and forbear, and the men of least skill among you may end your quarrels. It is a shame that little quarrels should grow to such a head among Christians, that they cannot be determined by the brethren. The peace of a man’s own mind, and the calm of his neighbourhood, are worth more than victory.”

Indeed any alleged harm that I might have caused Tim Dick, and by extension Ligonier Ministries, and by further extension RC Sproul, is a mere “trifle,” especially when compared to the enormity of the injury that will come upon the testimony of the Lord Jesus as a result of this lawsuit. Matthew Henry is correct when he says, “They are trifles, and may easily be settled.” Why then would Ligonier Ministries choose instead to sue? Did they honestly think that there was no other way — a biblical way — to resolve our dispute? If they didn’t then it begs the question: How could a Christian ministry that expounds Reformed theology in such a scholarly way be so woefully ignorant in this particular area?

Short of suing me, and therefore violating Scripture with impunity, did Ligonier Ministries have any other options? I can think of two, and perhaps there are more (commenters are welcome to offer additional biblically-based suggestions):

1. Tim Dick could have responded to the allegations.

Had Tim Dick responded rather than altogether evading the allegations that he’d defrauded Don Kistler in Ligonier’s “acquisition” of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, none of this would have ever happened. Tim Dick could have responded in one of two ways, and either response would have steered us down an entirely different path:

A). Tim Dick could have denied the allegations. Had he denied the allegations by simply saying, “Frank you’re completely wrong and what you’ve been told by all those witnesses isn’t true,” then I would not have, and I could not have in good conscience, gone forward with publishing the Ligonier Ministries Defrauds Soli Deo Gloria Ministries In “Acquisition” story. It would have been an issue of Tim Dick’s word versus the witnesses, and in my mind that wouldn’t have been sufficient enough to justify going forward with the story. But Tim never did that, and to this day he has yet to deny the allegations.

B). Tim Dick could have admitted to the allegations. Had Tim Dick confessed to the fraud allegations I would have taken this as a very positive sign and, again, I would not have, and I could not have in good conscience, gone forward with the story, provided however that at the same time he would have offered assurances of a prompt and full resolution and restitution with Don Kistler.

Tim Dick however did neither one. He neither admitted any wrongdoing, but neither did he deny it. In fact he just evaded answering the allegations at all. He never evaded talking about other unrelated issues (thereby attempting to change the subject and even stall for time), but never would he so much as even acknowledge that I was alleging that he’d committed a serious fraud, all this in the course of several email exchanges.

2. Tim Dick could have suggested that we resolve the dispute through Christian mediation.

Ligonier Ministries vs. Frank Vance lawsuitIf Tim Dick and Ligonier Ministries lacked the ability and resources to resolve this dispute themselves they should have suggested entering into formal Christian mediation or perhaps arbitration. One organization that offers such services is Peacemaker Ministries, run by Christian attorney Ken Sande. Peacemaker Ministries is committed to resolving disputes between believers biblically, which means without resorting to the civil courts. Other options for Christian mediation are also available, all of which appear to be biblical, and they can even be legally binding in the form of what is known as “binding arbitration.” Had this been suggested it’s very likely that I would have accepted the offer.

Instead I was hit with a lawsuit with no prior warning, or even any notice after I’d been sued. I find this remarkable in light of the fact that I was more than fair with Tim Dick in issuing him prior notice, a full ten days advanced warning, of the consequences should he fail to address the fraud allegations. Tim Dick only used my fairness against me by immediately filing a lawsuit in which he asked the judge for “prior restraint” (which obviously didn’t work). Tim Dick’s intentions were clear, to silence me via what can only be construed as a SLAPP lawsuit, going so far as to even petition that the judge issue a “prior restraint” of my freedom of speech.

Not only did Tim Dick not warn me that if I didn’t cease and desist that he’d file a lawsuit, but once he filed the lawsuit he didn’t even tell me about it! I first heard about it from the Press one week later! To this date neither Tim Dick nor his attorneys have informed me in what court I’ve been sued, case number, nothing. Not only is this morally unethical it’s even legally unethical.

If Ligonier’s lawsuit is successful it will only serve to have a chilling effect on free speech for all bloggers and webmasters. It will only serve to intimidate other whistle blowers who serve the public interest by exposing organizational fraud and corruption in organizations that refuse to be held accountable, and that for practical reasons simply cannot be held accountable, through any other methods than this form of public exposure.

But even if Ligonier’s lawsuit fails (and First Amendment legal experts have all told me that will likely be the outcome) it still might serve to have a chilling effect because of the fear that many bloggers will now have, because of the publicity of the Ligonier case, that they too might find themselves the subjects of a lawsuit. Even frivolous lawsuits can serve to chill free speech. Multi-million dollar corporations can easily silence (and they often have) a whistle blower by the threat of a lawsuit, even if such a suit had no legal merit.

Ligonier’s lawsuit is biblically frivolous and I plan to prove in court that it’s also legally frivolous and an abuse of the legal process. This isn’t to say that if I had it to do over again that I wouldn’t do a few things somewhat differently. It is to say however that there’s absolutely nothing here worthy of being sued over and, moreover, biblically it’s absolutely forbidden. Those who continue to speak out in support of Ligonier in these efforts are supporting the evisceration of the Bible itself.

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.

Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit, Recapping The Week

I was first informed that Ligonier Ministries had sued me exactly one week ago on September 1. I have yet to be legally served, or even notified in any fashion whatsoever, by Ligonier Ministries or their attorneys. I don’t know the court where I’ve been sued, case number, nothing. The Press told me that Ligonier told the judge that it was “impossible” to contact me, which of course is untrue. I only heard of the case from the Press, specifically Rene Stutzman of the Orlando Sentinel.

The aftermath of the Tim Dick / Ligonier Ministries lawsuit against me has truly been remarkable. I’ll recap a few of the more significant things that have happened this week. Being the fair-minded man that I am I’m also providing fair warning to Tim Dick for the Battle Royal that he’s in for. Let it never be said that Frank Vance was unfair, even to an opponent. I gave Tim Dick ten days to remedy his fraud against Don Kistler and told him exactly what would happen if he didn’t. Apparently he thought I was bluffing. That was the first of his colossal blunders. Suing me was colossal blunder #2. With this article he may want to believe once again that I’m bluffing. That will be colossal blunder #3.

Item #1, The Internet Stuff

My little blog has seen an increase in daily visitors by many orders of magnitude. Dozens of blogs and web sites are now linking to me. Some of those sites bring quite a bit of traffic. For example, Instapundit averages 121,168 visitors a day and over 6000 per hour. Some of the Christian Press blogs have picked up the story too, including Christianity Today and World Magazine.

Item #2, The Press Stuff

I’m told by Press and First Amendment law experts that this case is certain to draw national attention, particularly when it goes to trial. I’ve been told by the same people that it’s a true “David and Goliath” story. The Press loves it because they know the public loves David and Goliath stories. It’s self evident that mighty Ligonier Goliath with it’s multi-million dollar budget and fat legal war-chest is suing an average David with a SLAPP lawsuit just because David is a whistle blower. Employers and big corporations hate whistle blowers because they hate exposure and the accountability that comes from it. But the Press loves whistle blowers, and they know the public loves them too. Whistle blowers are viewed by most people as heroes.

Any way you slice it this is a losing proposition for Ligonier. Even if they win the legal case (and I’m told by the legal experts that’s extremely unlikely) their name will go down in history as “those crybaby Reformed preachers who are so thin-skinned that they won’t hesitate to sue if anyone so much as calls them a nincompoop.”

Item #3, The Legal Stuff

I’ve received this week multiple emails from attorneys and First Amendment lawfirms all asking if they could represent me. Ironically one of those firms is quite literally in Ligonier’s back yard, and they’ve got quite a reputation when it comes to First Amendment law. This must be a significant case because all the attorneys that have contacted me this week have offered to handle it pro bono. They’ve all confirmed to me that one of the reasons they want this case so much is because they intend to set a precedent with it and they’re dead serious about winning. They’ll take it all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary. One of the lawyers who contacted me this week routinely prepares cases to go before the Supreme Court, including First Amendment cases. He too is eager to help in the case, and he like the others offered to do it pro bono.

If part of Tim Dick’s strategy was to use Ligonier’s significant financial assets as a legal war-chest to drag me through expensive litigation that I couldn’t afford, and force me to quickly settle (the SLAPP lawsuit strategy), then Tim Dick made another colossal blunder. The reality is that it is Ligonier that’s going to be financially hurt by this. Ligonier’s donors should think very carefully if they want their contributions squandered away like that.

In 2004, the first year in which Tim Dick assumed the position(s) of President/CEO/CFO (talk about a lot of unchecked power in one guy’s hands!), and the same year in which RC Sproul effectively ceded his governing power to Dick, Ligonier went from spending nothing on attorneys to suddenly spending $64,350.00 (this according to Ligonier’s tax returns). I don’t know if I’m the first person that Ligonier has ever sued, but I do know that under Tim Dick there have been a number of others that received very threatening letters from Ligonier’s attorneys. Tim Dick routinely uses lawyers to intimidate and bully his way, especially when it comes to shutting up whistle blowers.

Just imagine, Ligonier Ministries is about to go down in history not because anyone remembered them for being some of the preeminent contemporary luminaries of Reformed theology, but because they lost as the Plaintiff in a landmark First Amendment case that set a precedent for all other bloggers. I can’t think of anything more tragic than for Tim Dick to leave that as his legacy for Ligonier Ministries. “Ligonier vs. Vance” will become a common household phrase and the first thought of every blogger and webmaster as they sit down at their computer.

The way things have shaped up this week I can easily assemble a formidable law team of America’s top First Amendment legal experts, all at no expense to me, and bury Ligonier in the legal nightmare of their life. As it goes to trial it will likely become a major media event. All anyone has to do to get lots of Press attention is to mention that freedom of speech is being threatened by a multi-million dollar corporation.

Is any of this what I personally really want to see? Do I want to become famous like this? To be perfectly honest about it that might actually be fun, but if it means that Ligonier Ministries gets destroyed in the process (and that likely would happen) then that would tend to dampen my enthusiasm. I have no interest in seeing Ligonier Ministries harmed. The problem isn’t Ligonier, the problem is Tim Dick. Those who accuse me of being motivated by bitterness or “grandstanding” or having a vendetta against RC Sproul simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Those who know Tim Dick know that he’s unfit to govern a ministry of any kind, let alone Ligonier. He needs to step down and go find a job that he’s competent to do and where strong personal ethics aren’t obligatory.

If Tim Dick doesn’t have any more common sense but to insist on going through with this lawsuit, a lawsuit which will likely be the ruin of Ligonier, then I’m not about to make it easy for him either. The fact is that by his own folly Tim Dick has backed Ligonier into a corner to take a shellacking. Right now it’s entirely up to Tim Dick where we go from here. Given Tim Dick’s foolish behavior thus far I’m only anticipating more folly in the future. Common sense is clearly not ruling the day at Ligonier.

Item #4, The Biblical Stuff

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1) While I certainly have biblical obligations on me, there’s no question but that there’s a much greater obligation, a “stricter judgment,” on Ligonier Ministries. What they’ve done by circumventing 1 Corinthians 6 is wholly inexcusable, regardless of what I’ve done. Some have attempted to fabricate easy escape clauses, claiming that my conduct proves that I must not be a Christian and therefore Ligonier isn’t barred by 1 Corinthians 6. Without even knowing me apparently such men are eager to consign me to Hell, all the while railing against me for being “judgmental.” In their blindness they can’t see the magnitude of their own hypocrisies.

On World Magazine Blog Mark asks the question, “Did anyone within the Ligonier heirarchy approach Mr. Vance with the offer of arbitration before filing a lawsuit?” (comment 77) The answer is no, they made no such attempts. The lawsuit came as a complete surprise and shock, with no prior warning, and as I’ve already stated, even without any notice whatsoever after they’d filed it. What they’ve done isn’t just unbiblical it’s even legally unethical.

I’ve been asked, “Prior to publicly posting your allegations against Tim Dick of his fraud were attempts made to comply with Matthew 18:15-17?” The answer is yes. In the two years prior several godly men have repeatedly made biblically based attempts to bring Tim Dick back to he negotiating table to right Tim Dick’s wrong. For two years he evaded and dodged responsibility. Tim Dick has never denied what he’s done. Tim Dick is still not denying what he’s done. Four simple words would now create a real problem for me, “I didn’t do it.” But Tim Dick can’t say that without impugning the good names of those godly men who are witnesses to his fraud.

I’ve been asked, “Where is the evidence? Where’s the proof to back up your allegations?” The evidence is the testimony of several godly men who have first-hand knowledge. Tim Dick has repeatedly been confronted with that testimony. He’s never denied it and he’s not denying it even now. The burden isn’t on me or those godly witnesses but on Tim Dick to deny the charges. Given the multiple witnesses who have accused Tim Dick of defrauding Don Kistler, and Tim Dick himself refusing to deny the charges when repeatedly confronted with them, that makes for a very strong prima facia case. The fact that Tim Dick has now SLAPPed me only serves to confirm that. As Carson Allen commented at Challies (#44), “So why didn’t somone from Ligoner just rebut Vance and get it over with. They can turn out hundred page books rebuting the grandest of heretics (rightley so); but they find it dificult to do the same with Frank.”

Some may counter, “But how do we know you’re telling the truth? You haven’t named those witnesses, and they haven’t come forward to testify directly themselves.” Fair enough. Those witnesses have at this time chosen to remain unnamed while they work to resolve matters with Tim Dick “in house.” I believe that I’m duty bound to not publicly name them, or any of my sources for that matter. None of them asked me to do this, but none of them have asked me not to either, and they haven’t contacted me since to tell me to stop. I won’t say that they necessarily condone what I’ve done. I don’t honestly know, but I think it’s safe to assume that if they wanted me to stop they would’ve informed me by now.

It’s been confirmed to me this week that the exposure that’s come because of this blog has compelled Tim Dick back to negotiating table. Considering the fact that Tim Dick has evaded responsibility for two years that’s a very positive sign… maybe. On the other hand Tim may just be stalling for time. Tim Dick has asked at least one significant insider, “What should I do?” He was told, “Give Don back his ministry.” Don Kistler has a significant investment in Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, some twenty years of his life’s work. That investment in legal parlance is called an “intellectual property right.”

Regardless of what I say there are those who have criticized me and even called me a liar. They’ve already made up their minds in spite of the prima facia evidence. To those people I would say take notice how the allegations are only corroborated by the fact that Tim Dick has yet to publicly or even privately deny the allegations. All it would take to publicly humiliate me is four little words from Tim Dick, “I didn’t do it.” But the best Tim Dick can come up with is an unbiblical SLAPP lawsuit in an attempt to shut me up. For the naysayers I would urge you to contact Tim Dick yourself and ask him, as I asked him, and see if you can get a straight answer.

Some have inquired, “Since it was Don Kistler who was defrauded why hasn’t Don Kistler stepped forward and made a public statement?” The answer to that should be self-evident. Given what’s just happened to me isn’t it obvious what would have happened to Don Kistler? He too would have been SLAPPed, and he well knows it. But if Don Kistler hasn’t been defrauded then no harm could come to him by stepping forward now and saying so. Take notice of the fact that Don Kistler hasn’t done that.

On Christian blogs and other web sites opinions on this seem fairly consistent. At least some seem to be in agreement in thinking that what I’ve done is wrong, and they claim Matthew 18:15-17 in defense of condemning my actions. For outside observers it’d be easy to make such assumptions, but what they don’t understand is that all attempts to employ Matthew 18 with Tim Dick have failed. Christian blogs also seem perhaps even more concerned over the fact that Ligonier has blatantly violated the prohibitions of 1 Corinthians 6, and they should be troubled over that. Ligonier’s actions set a deplorable example for a Bible-believing Christian ministry.

Bloggers with far more readers than I’ve had have routinely said critical things of Billy Graham’s ministry, and many other Christian ministries, but they all know better than to sue over it. Rather than being thin-skinned they just wisely ignore it. Even if it could be shown that I was wrong, any alleged wrong on my part can in no way justify Ligonier’s much greater sin and folly.

Item #5, The Practical Implications of Ligonier Ministries Attempts To SLAPP (Silence) Frank Vance

Even if Ligonier’s lawsuit were to prevail (and the odds of that are remote) Ligonier Ministries has little likelihood of preventing the facts from still being reported. I’ve been anonymously contacted by several bloggers who tell me that they’ve already mirrored my blog and are prepared to bring multiple sites up the moment this blog disappears. “If your site goes down we’ll put up ten more to replace it.” One such web site, I’m told, is outside the United States and therefore outside the jurisdiction of US courts. This isn’t anything that I’ve solicited or instigated, and it’s outside my own control. If need be I could ask them not to do so but since they’re people I don’t know I can’t make them do anything one way or the other.

Even if Tim Dick is “legally” successful he’s already lost. Everyone already knows, and all his lawsuit has done is magnify his own exposure. Foolish move. Once it officially goes to trial the exposure will only ratchet up several orders of magnitude, and very likely into a national media event.

Any way you slice it this is a no-win for Tim Dick, but I’m not the least bit concerned for Tim Dick. I am concerned however for all the damage that will befall Ligonier Ministries.

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.