Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit, Recapping The WeekPosted: September 8, 2006 Filed under: Ligonier Ministries 48 Comments
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.
Why are you doing this?
(Yes, I read your post and the reasons you gave there. But if you honestly do not want to see Ligonier harmed, and if you honestly were impacted spiritually by Dr. Sproul [and I assume you hope that continues for others], why are you not trying to figure out a different way to satisfy your ill-feelings other than a “Ligonier vs. Vance” situation?)
Saddened: “… why are you not trying to figure out a different way to satisfy your ill-feelings …”
I didn’t realize there was any dispute that it was Ligonier/Tim Dick that chose to sue Frank and not the reverse. And did so without “figuring out a different way” to satisfy their ill feelings toward Frank’s reporting.
You don’t dispute Frank’s account that he and others tried to resolve matters quietly and directly with Tim Dick but that Tim Dick refused. You also do not dispute that it is Tim Dick who still refused to seek another way before filing the lawsuit that magnified the public exposure/shame by 100 times.
So, despite all this, why try to blame Frank for the consequences? That’s like blaming the guy who shines the light at night for the cockroaches it exposes on the floor.
You may prefer to remain blissfully ignorant until one of them crawls on your face, but I, and many others like me, would much rather know the cockroaches exist and where they are, in order to avoid them, than to pretend they aren’t there.
Or, to switch metaphors: don’t shoot the messenger.
To respond to Saddened’s comments, if you only listen to Ligonier stuff and have no personal contact w/ them whatsoever, then you will do well. I do agree that RC has a great ability given by God and not anything that RC has done to explain theology in layman’s terms. However, if you have up close contact with this ministry, then you will see that they do not practice what they preach. The first few times that I heard of people complaining about them I disregard it as just disgruntle or jealous but after hearing personal stories time and time and time again, then something is not right.
So if you think that a person’s behavior has nothing to do w/ his job, then you are right. It’s like voters saying that they don’t care about a politician’s private life as long as they get the public job done. In this case, Ligonier’s job is to explain the Bible so the question to ask yourself is do you care about their behavior?
Last, it was Ligonier that brought this lawsuit, not the other way around. This is just another sign that their behavior is contrary to what the Bible teaches.
I certainly can’t speak for Vance here, and the comments from ‘Ilong past due’ hardly need a follow up in my opinion, but here is my first knee jerk reaction to your concern:
I would say that the safety of Ligonier is not an ultimate good–we all know this in theory, but it is not clear in practice. Ligonier is not God; and the name of God is at risk when men seek to establish the safety of an organization by suppressing justice and truth. If Ligonier cannot respond differently than it has so far, justice and the “reputation” of God might entail harm done to Ligonier to some degree; otherwise the defilement will just increase and no one learns anything. I am at awe at how so many Christians seem to be putting their own comfortability and their hopes for the safety of a prized corporation/ministry in front of justice done and the display of truth. If God’s name is the ultimate good, then we must seek justice and truth trusting that that is the right thing and that ultimately it will lead to the protection of the ultimate Good; and God can figure out how all that happens. If we see justice and truth, for the powerful and the weak, we can walk with peace, trusting in God.
Assuming your correct Mr. Vance, Ligonier has turned a simple mistake/misjudgment of allowing someone like Mr. Dick into a position of authority, and turned it into a debacle that could possibly ruin the life work of R.C. Sproul and the ministry he spent his life building.
I fear irreparable damage may have already occurred.
On September 7, Challies gives his thoughts on this matter
There is a lot of bold talk in Reformed circles about holding “superior worldviews” and “superior paradigms.” I hope these events encourage people to take stock of the true state of the world. Perhaps some “superior humility” and “superior repentance” is in order. Then, perhaps one day, we will be worthy to govern the world.
I am sorry that I came to this site.
God is not being honored by your blog. I am not going to say anything about the other guys because I’m talking to you.
It doesn’t matter if you post this or respond since I won’t be back. And I’ll be advising others to not visit here either.
I was wondering what is yr connection to the Little Geneva kinists? They seem to be major supporters of yours. They also seem to have it out for RCJr. Do u support their doctrines?
JC, yours is a classic example of a comment that I don’t ordinarily approve. It’s redundant clutter, and the fact that you also posted a second directly related and considerably more “nah-nah nah-nah nah-nah” comment (which I didn’t approve) only goes to confirm your intentions here. However unlike Tim Challies I do permit people to challenge and even criticize me here and even post links to other sites that likewise criticize me. In fact I’ve even posted links myself to those other sites.
Case in point: The Challies article was already discussed here (see subsequent comments there as well). The behind the scenes/what you don’t see stuff that happens on Challies (because he deletes opposing opinions and even bans such commenters) is being exposed at Michael Metzler’s blog.
This morning I received an email from someone stating that Challies did exactly the same thing to them that occurred to Metzler, so what happened to Metzler is not just an aberration.
Considering all the effort I went through to make peace with Tim Challies I’m extremely disappointed in what he’s done since then. Notice also that I even apologized to him publicly on his blog. Notice that he hasn’t acknowledged my apology. In one of my emails to Tim Challies I stated, “I was very encouraged by our dialogue yesterday and the fruit that came of it. We still have some points of disagreement but at least now, I trust, we can keep it civil. I’m sure it was just an oversight but let me suggest that you publicly acknowledge and accept my apology to you on your blog. It seems to me that would be the honorable thing.” Challies has yet to do the honorable thing.
Susan, just because you find what’s going on here distasteful doesn’t mean that God is not being honored. I take no delight in any of this, and I find it distasteful myself. It’s not I who’s dishonored the Lord God but those who preach His Word, and then trample on it with impunity (1 Cor 6).
As for telling your friends, “Don’t go to that Frank Vance blog,” great idea! That’s exactly what Tim Challies told his readers too. That’s like telling a curious child, “Don’t look in that bag. It’s a secret.” I appreciate you and Challies and everyone else doing that for me. Thanks.
You are to be commended for your heroic and tenacious stand for what is RIGHT and JUST. I can’t tell you how dissappointed I am with R.C. for allowing his EVIL son-in-law to tear apart a good work that has brought reformed thinking to countless thousands of believers, who have grown in the faith. As a Ligonier insider, the half has yet to be told as to what a ‘worthless piece of garbage’ Mr. Dick has been, not only to his employees but also to the thousands of people who will now be aware of his depraved actions because of this lawsuit. Of course, all of this could not have happened unless R.C. condoned it’s every move. For the sake of his life’s work, he MUST take over control of this organization by cleaning house and restaffing the ministry with people who desire to make people aware of the ‘HOLINESS OF GOD’. Bring in someone who will make the RIGHT decisions about who stays and who goes. This nepotism has been a poison to Ligonier from the get-go. R.C. Sproul needs to REPENT for watching this cancer spead throughout the ministry and remove the ‘Growth’, which is Tim Dick. I will say this, that if this case goes to court and the defense is looking for ‘character witnesses’, there will be a line of people, that will stretch around the building, who want to see Mr. Dick get his comeupance.
Wondering, your wonderings are so completely unrelated to this article that I almost didn’t post it. Furthermore I can’t help but do a little wondering myself if yours isn’t some kind of guilt by association setup:
Little Geneva links to Frank Vance.
Little Geneva are Kinists.
Frank Vance must be a Kinist.
I have no “connection” to Little Geneva. Oh, but there is this “connection” which I do freely acknowledge: Seabrook professes to be a Reformed Presbyterian and therefore I must consider him to be a brother in Christ, irrespective of his political and historical views. It appears that we might also share some common theological interests in the writings of Rushdoony, VanTil, Dabney, etc. If that’s all you mean by “support their doctrines” then yes we share some common interests.
If you’re next going to demand that I must either identify myself as a Kinist, or publicly condemn Kinism and identify myself as a multiculturalist, then don’t even go there. I’m not going to defend Seabrook (I’m sure he’s quite capable of doing that himself) but I’m also not going to criticize him for his stance in condemning multiculturalism and other related issues such as the Bush Administration’s open Mexican border policies. Seabrook is probably unpopular in many circles and he probably makes a lot of people mad. But he does get people to think about important issues. I’m trying to do something similar here, so I guess we have that as a “connection” as well.
For years, a couple of decades actually, the Reformed denominations have been proud to proclaim that our Biblical system of accountability prevents and protects us from scandals of the Jimmy Swaggart/Jim Baker magnitude. Even Sproul the Lesser proudly declared that he was “so thankful to be accountable.”
Well, so much for accountability. Accountability means nothing when one answers only to one’s self. And that is precisely what happens when ministers, no matter what their denomination or theology, become the Christian equivalent “superstars.”
Sproul, Inc. is not affiliated with any Reformed denomination. Therefore, no Reformed denomination should have any qualms about denouncing Sproul Sr., Sproul Jr., and Dick for their reprehensible actions. And yet, when we listen for our denominations to take a stand for Biblical Presbyterianism, all we hear is crickets chirping.
The Reformed denominations are dead, mere administrative organs of a fraternity of elders who seem more interested in bludgeoning people into “receiv[ing] not the testimony against and elder,” than in protecting God’s people from thugs in shepherd’s clothing.
Organizational machinery, such as Ligonier, Inc., does not make the Kingdom of God. The King makes the Kingdom of God. We now have proof positive that even our once-most respected teachers are exceedingly susceptible to the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Jesus taught this in His condemnation of the Pharisees; we saw it happen to Arminian celebrity ministers; now we behold it in the Reformed denominations. If we don’t learn the plain lesson from the Ligonier debacle, we deserve to be ridiculed and relegated to being a pathetic footnote in the history of religion in America.
Wondering said: “I was wondering what is yr connection to the Little Geneva kinists? They seem to be major supporters of yours. They also seem to have it out for RCJr. Do u support their doctrines?”
Wondering’s question may be innocent, but the wording of the post leads me to suspect a “troll” at work here, trying to change the subject from exposure of misdeeds by Tim Dick to an effort to find some some unpopular character trait or viewpoint held by the one reporting on those misdeeds. It’s an irrational approach to responding to criticism (known in logic as the genetic fallacy) but one that often succeeds in this age of irrationality.
At any rate, In case the question is actually innocent, I’ll offer a response based on my experience closely following the controversy over Robert Craig Sproul’s defrocking.
Frank Vance’s role in the Tim Dick controversy is analogous to Peter Kershaw’s role in the Craig Sproul controversy [I do not refer to him as RCJr, because his name is not the same as his father’s], and the role of Little Geneva has been the same — to promote the reporting done by the two to the LG readership.
LG has been reporting on the reporting, just like the Orlando Sentinel, which is why asking Frank Vance what he thinks about LG’s views of kinism makes no more sense than asking Vance if he shares a certain view held by the Orlando Sentinel reporter who broke the story on Tim Dick’s lawsuit.
Thanks Troll Hunter. It’s an amusing exercise to observe the behavior of those who are desperate to defend their indefensible heroes. Quite often they’ll resort to logic falacies, and sometimes they’re even successful in getting other folks to go along with it.
I observed this in the reactions that came after Michael Metzler exposed, among other things, Doug Wilson’s direct intervention on behalf of convicted serial pedophile Steven Sitler, pleading with the judge for a lenient sentence, and what also appears to be an eight month cover up by Wilson. The story quickly got picked up by Joan Opyr, a Moscow journalist and lesbian activist. Opyr is included in Doug Wilson’s long list of what he calls the “intoleristas,” all of whom like Opyr are part of the political liberal culture that typifies a college town like Moscow, Idaho. Metzler’s blog was first to expose Sitler’s crimes in a Public Announcement. The original turned into an entire series of some forty-three Public Announcements The real story wasn’t about a serial pedophile that had been a student at New Saint Andrews College and Christ Church where Wilson pastored. The real story was Doug Wilson’s disturbing behavior which turned the Sitler affair into a community wide scandal and public relations disaster for his church and college.
For Wilson loyalists Metzler is now numbered among the “intoleristas.” Through guilt by association fallacy logic we can show that:
• Michael Metzler exposed Doug Wilson’s involvement in the Steven Sitler pedophile affair.
• Intoleristas like Joan Opyr showed their obvious sympathy for Metzler because they reported on it.
* Therefore there must be a “connection” between Metzler and Opyr.
• Joan Opyr is a lesbian and political activist working to legalize gay marriage.
• Conclusion: Metzler must be in favor of gay marriage.
People who are left with no logical defenses will often resort to the completely illogical.
Oops! I neglected to make what should have been the most obvious of all logic fallacy conclusions:
• Michael Metzler has reported on what Frank Vance has exposed about Tim Dick.
• There must be a “connection” between Vance and Metzler.
• Frank Vance believes that gay marriage should be legalized.
Speaking of Michael Metzler:
Frank Vance & Tim Dick: in Search of Legal Precedence
These insightful statements come from Mark Epstein, a Ligonier financial supporter.
“Although a profitable enterprise among the heathen, the Bible expressly prohibits a professing Christian from suing another professing Christian and there are NO exceptions.” Christian Suing Christian?
“In light of Paul’s reaction to being defamed [I Cor 4:11-13, 16] and his admonishing of fellow Christians to be followers of his behavior, it is clear from Holy Scripture that God is not interested in a Christian defending himself against being defamed. Since God is our all in all, and the source of a Christian’s power to live a righteous life, we need only to seek God’s defense of us – not the defense of our own hands or employment of the world’s solutions.” More On Christians Suing Christians
“As I noted in my first comment on this unfortunate and distressing situation, it is truly a sad day in Christendom when a Christian or, in this case, a parachurch organization steeped in Reformed theology, avails itself of the heathen’s civil courts. Furthermore, a lawsuit that seeks prior restraint is unthinkable. The Reformers were at the forefront of this country’s fight for independence, and religious freedom and freedom of the press share the same amendment to our Constitution – the first of America’s Bill of Rights.” Is Ligonier v. Vance a David and Goliath Story?
“Do we as the body of Christ just roll over and cave to a misuse of the law to cover the evil deeds of a member of that body? Obviously this is a first amendment issue, but it’s also an issue of what the Church should be doing about holding its leaders accountable. We should obey God rather than men, and through Paul He commands us to bring disputes before the elders of the church, not to the legal system. (1 Cor 6:1-8). Unfortunately I haven’t seen any elder come forward to do this. And since Tim is likely a member of R.C.’s own independent church, it’s not likely to happen.” Get Over It, Or Get It Out In The Open?
Have you provided any evidence to support any of your claims? For example, what is your proof that Tim Dick ‘switched’ contracts on Kistler? What is your proof that ‘threatening’ letters have been sent to former Ligonier employees to shut them up? Do you have anything more than the word of another person? If so, then have you provided this somewhere in your posts or web site?
If not, why?
Surely you can provide some evidence of your claims without exposing any of your informants…
Brian, one of the mediums commonly used as evidence in any dispute resolution setting, whether it be ecclesiastical or civil, is the testimony of witnesses. The evidence, or “proof” as you put it, that Tim Dick substituted contracts is the testimony of multiple witnesses who were directly involved in the contract process.
“Surely you can provide some evidence of your claims without exposing any of your informants.” And how would I go about doing that Brian? I’m open to suggestions, but any suggestions have to take into consideration the Ligonier lawsuit and not compromising my defense.
As far as I can see the fact that Ligonier has sued me doesn’t make it possible for me to comply with your demands to publicly release such testimonial evidence. Releasing the testimony will expose witnesses, whether they’re specifically named or not because the testimony itself makes it too apparent who they likely are. Now isn’t the time to do that and I simply cannot even if I wanted to.
However, the civil trial will certainly bring all those things to light. It was Ligonier’s decision to move this into the civil litigation realm. This then opens them up to lawyers digging into many things far above and beyond just the question of Tim Dick’s alleged fraud specifically against Don Kistler. I’m told that once this goes to trial that there are multiple additional witnesses eager to come forward and testify about how they too have been wronged and even defrauded by Tim Dick. Perhaps a counter-suit will be filed. Perhaps even a class action. It’s hard to say at this time, but none of these things are what I would have wanted, nor what I was seeking to accomplish.
Public Trust. Should Christians Tell the Truth?
Why do Christians applaud truth telling about fraudulent medical research, but scorn the Christian who exposes the false testimony of a Christian celebrity? Do we Christians really care about truth? If we do, why do we abandon unpleasant truths about sin in the Body and immorality in Christian leadership?…
Christians who try to excuse false testimonies and immorality by pointing to the “fruits” of a ministry deny Paul’s forceful argument in Romans 3:8 that to do evil that good may come is slanderous and contrary to biblical ethics.
The Bible clearly states that Christian leaders should be accountable both to the Word of God and also to God’s people, whom the leader serves. Among the requirements Paul describes for a Christian leader are that he be “blameless,” and “of good behavior” (1 Tim. 3:2). A Christian leader must “have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7). This does not mean that the Christian leader is simply good at covering up his sin. Christian leaders must display integrity and honesty — they must prove themselves worthy of Christians’ trust.
The objections cited above against revealing a Christian leader’s sin seem to imply that it is possible for one to have a valid Christian ministry or profession, and yet have a private life of corruption. However, the Bible explains that it is not possible for one’s sinful conduct to have no negative effect on one’s profession of godliness…
Paul writes Titus that it is the responsibility of the church to hold the leader accountable for his sin: “Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13). Paul also commands Christians to rebuke sinning leaders publicly, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:20). Paul took his own advice, as recorded in Galatians 2, and publicly rebuked Peter “before them all” (Gal. 2:14).
If we neglect to uncover sin within the Church, we rob the Church of the integrity it should expect from its members. The Church becomes weak through compromise, and the leader becomes weak because of his or her immorality. Fallen leaders betray the trust of those they lead. Maturity in the Lord, which is an essential part of qualifying one for spiritual leadership, can be confirmed only by an established pattern of resisting sin and walking faithfully with God, family, and others.
“. . .the Bible expressly prohibits a professing Christian from suing another professing Christian and there are NO exceptions.”
This is an easy one for Sproul, Inc. to get around; they’ll just say Frank isn’t a Christian.
A public figure must be above reproach; a public Christian figure must be above reproach by the standards of God’s Word. If a public figure is out of line (Mel Gibson, for example), he will be exposed publicly because he is a public figure. Likewise, and even more so, if a public Christian figure is out of line with God’s Word, and refuses to repent, he should be exposed publicly.
I am very thankful that RC, the younger, will have much less opportunity to hurt others now now that he has been publicly exposed. I am very grieved, but appreciative, that RC’s ministry is being exposed publicly, so that my money can continue to be used for God’s service – elsewhere.
Nobody preaches orthodoxy better than RC. I am very sorry, however, that he has currently divorced his orthodoxy from his orthopraxy, which God says must be fully wed.
I pray for a quick and complete repentance for all involved, and full restitution and restoration.
Public Trust. Should Christians Tell the Truth?
It is unethical for Christians to cover up for leaders who have achieved their position through false qualifications or stories, or who are living immorally. Can the Church claim a higher ethical standard than the world when we adopt a “code of silence”…?
Some people in society have a greater responsibility for honesty and integrity than others. This does not mean that it’s less wrong for one person to lie than another, but a public leader has a greater responsibility because the consequences of his failure have greater ramifications. A lay person who has a mistaken medical opinion will not affect the lives and health of as many people as a doctor with a misunderstanding of medicine.
An individual in a position of public trust surrenders his privacy regarding his suitability and trustworthiness. He has asked the public to trust him for specific reasons or qualifications. Those reasons and qualifications are open to public scrutiny. If the leader is trustworthy, they will withstand examination. If he is not, close examination will reveal their inadequacies. Christians who are committed to truth must preserve this fundamental right and obligation to know in whom they are asked to trust.
The examples of Jesus and his disciples’ commitment to truthfulness and integrity gives us our model for investigative Christian journalism and for holding our Christian leaders accountable.
I found this link through ChristianityToday.com and thought I would try to piece together what the main discussion is here. I agree that those who sin should be called to discipline and repentance. It broke my heart to hear what Sproul JR did because I do respect his father a great deal. I was not familiar with the Tim Dick situation until today and I’ve tried to gather information, if it is as you say, then you are right in pursuing him to repentance and it is a shame that those closest to him are not doing this.
The only thing that bothers me here – and this is a general to everybody type comment – is the harshness not only between each other but against those who have sinned. Yes, discipline should not be softened. It should be swift and carried out to it’s conclusion. But our hearts should break inside of us as we realize that we are watching the destruction of our brothers.
We shouldn’t ever forget that when we point those fingers we too are just as capable, if not moreso, of stumbling, falling, and royally screwing up. Our hope shouldn’t be that we’re finally getting justice, our hope is that in the falling they may fall straight into the arms of a God who Redeems. We should all be standing by ready to open our arms and help them walk back and we should earnestly PRAY for their hearts to be softened. After all, there isn’t one among us who is perfectly pliable that would easily realize their sin when confronted. Oh that we would be, but we are weak.
And so are they. Let us pursue discipline and justice, but out of love. When they refuse we should not hold them in contempt, but we should weep because it means they are further in sin than we know and that when Christ confronts them it will be excrutiating.
As for the “you’re right” or “you’re wrong” going on between us – let us agree that something is going on here – something destructive and dark. Remember our enemy isn’t SproulJR or Tim Dick (unless they are unbelievers, but we cannot judge the heart, only the actions) – our enemy is Satan. Our enemy is the flesh.
I support the pursuit of discipline in the hopes that it leads to repentance and leads our strayed brothers and sisters right back to the God who Saves. We are all in need of grace, let us never be stingy in our offering it others.
I offer this post not as criticism, because in honesty I have a tendency to be harsh and cruel instead of loving. This post is as much for myself as it is for anyone else reading it. My goal is just to remind us to love. And this Scripture came to mind as pertinent to our discussion: Hebrews 12:1-17
“As far as I can see the fact that Ligonier has sued me doesn’t make it possible for me to comply with your demands to publicly release such testimonial evidence.”
You were making these claims LONG before the law suit was filed…so I find it rather insufficient for you to now use the law suit as an excuse for not revealing any proof of any of the claims you have been making all this time.
Your assertions that former employees received threatening letters to keep them quiet was made BEFORE the suit was filed…your assertion that Kistler was defrauded of SDG Books was made BEFORE the suit was filed. These are two examples that you should easily be able to provide evidence for.
In fact, these are just two examples that you should have provided proof of when you first made these claims.
Why did you NOT provide any evidence to support these assertions at the time they were initially made…BEFORE any law suit was filed?
I have been reading this blog from the first month you started it. Remember it all started with J.R. So; the only people hurting S.R. is his son and son-in-law.
Boy; Mr. Dick is not the brightest bulb in the pack; is he? When he first started posting to your blog the red flags went up fast in my head. Since then he has only proved your points Frank.
Hardley anyone even knew of this blog. Since Mr.Dicks law suit Every one knows now. I wonder if Al Mohler will have anything to say about it? If R.C. wants accountability like he tells us we should all have look no furhter then Al Mohler; J. Ligon Duncan; Mark Dever; and C.J. Mahaney. I pray that he wil seek out there council; if not; then it will only prove that his son and son-in law come before any thing else. If it were my son;
I would have no problem calling him to repent. Just look at what Billy Graham did to his son Franklin this past mont in Newsweek; even though Franklin is the one who is correct
This will be interesting for the Ligonier Board of Directors. They have a financial interest in all of this and can be held personally responsible for any illegalities.
Also, if ministry money is being used for non-ministry things, they can be forced to pay stiff fines.
Since this is now in the heathen courts, you may want to read my wife’s early morning post concerning ecclesiastical courts.
Jen’s Gems: Where Are the Ecclesiastical Courts?
Because all of your questions are essentially driving at the same point there’s only one that warrants a response, “Why did you NOT provide any evidence to support these assertions at the time they were initially made…BEFORE any law suit was filed?”
Answer: No one demanded or even requested that I publicly or even privately provide evidence for the allegations. Even Tim Dick never asked for evidence. At best all I was asked was, “Do you have proof that Tim Dick switched the contracts?” to which I replied, “Yes, I do have proof”.
Secondly, whistle blowers who are trying to encourage additional corroborating witnesses to come forward, as well as additional witnesses who have additional stories of fraud and corruption, don’t publicly divulge their sources, not unless they’re real stupid. It was pointed out to me prior to my being sued by Ligonier that what I’ve been doing has a lot of similarities to an investigative journalist. The big difference is that I’m an amateur journalist, not a paid professional. As any investigative journalist knows they don’t divulge their sources, as least not without prior permission.
Some journalists have been so committed to that principle that they’ve been willing to be held in contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources. Your public badgering of me Brian doesn’t even come close to that kind of threat level so any more badgering would just be a waste of time.
If any one had a right to demand proof (and you don’t have any such right Brian, especially now) it was the accused, Tim Dick. But Tim Dick has never even asked if I had proof, let alone asked to see any of it. The reason for that is self evident — Tim Dick already knows who the witnesses against him are. Since Tim Dick is so intent on having his day in court he’ll now have the privilege of facing his accusers in court.
But Tim Dick has never even asked if I had proof, let alone asked to see any of it. The reason for that is self evident — Tim Dick already knows who the witnesses against him are.
Another possible reason, or another way to explain the same reason, that Tim Dick hasn’t challenged Frank to produce his witnesses is that Tim Dick already knows personally that most or all of the charges are true — thus he needs no independent confirmation.
There is an expansion on Jen’s post regarding ecclesiastical courts at the Ultimate Truth site. It may be little more than a starting point, but it seems something different needs to be done within Reformed and non-Reformed denominations.
Ecclesiastical Tyranny, Popish Elders and Lack of Accountability
Jen and Mark Epstein’s articles on their blog are very good. It is a question we should all be discussing in our churches.
Shannon brings up a something very important in her post. I am just not so sure how anyone in these times sees any love at all in any from of rebuking. It is something that is lost and something most of our culture does not understand. We seem to be more concerned with how truth is communicated than the truth itself. We have become a nation of feelers instead of thinkers.
Truth can be very hurtful. And communicating truth with written word seems very harsh.
My question is this: Why has not Dr. Sproul, a man of profound knowledge, not spoken out yet? Even during his son’s defrockment we did not hear him publically call for true repentence? I am very perplexed with this man. I have heard some say he is ill. Perhaps this is the reason he has not come forward to speak of this. Where are the people ultimately responsible-The Board?
Where are the leaders in the reform movement asking simple questions such as: If there is nothing to these charges, then say so. Or, if there is, repent and make it right. But we hear silence.So far.
Sueing is totally unBiblical yet we have heard nothing yet from the leaders. There is absolutely nothing Biblical about what they are doing in sueing. It is a mockery of God’s Word.
I got to thinking about this last night. If pastors, elders, leaders in this day and time thought they would be totally accountable for what goes on in their churches and para church orgainzations, we would have less of this tyranny and impropriety.
I am fresh ( a few years) from dealing with a horrible church scandal that was not dealt with Biblically at all. Elders saving face, unity of relationships was preached as most important. Truth was the casualty. I realize this colors my view of what is going on here. But I have learned since this is more the norm than not.
It is horrible and is a worse witness than bringing truth to light. One horrible fallout from the scandal I saw was that church staff knew that certain behaviors would not be censored or dealt with at all. This lead to more improprieties.
We start dumbing down what is Biblical based on what is accepted behavior. We are supposed to look different, be different. We are supposed to show the world we have higher standards which is God’s Word. WE are not to overlook dirty dealings. As I heard one preacher say, we are like speckled birds
We have got to stop putting men on pedestals they cannot support. As I told my SS class this morning, If you really really love me, and you see me in sin…YOU MUST rebuke me. My eternal life may depend on it.
Hi Brian, I think I recognize you as the former “Voice of the Sheep” from Challies old forum. Is that right?
Mark’s and Jen’s postings on church courts are very helpful. The Bible does provide models and instructions for church courts. Unfortunately, very few churches, even Reformed churches, follow the Biblical patterns, particularly when discipline of a church leader is required.
Reformed doctrine is not enough without presbyterian polity to defend it. Real accountability requires the option of appeal to a higher court with binding, not merely advisory, authority. The absence of such a higher court is why baptist churches usually split when pastors are in need of discipline.
The presence of presbyterian church government is why Robert Craig Sproul was defrocked along with his whole session for ministerial abuse they confessed to following their public exposure on the internet by Peter Kershaw and others.
Craig Sproul’s brother-in-law Tim Dick, by contrast, is not a member of a presbyterian church. Instead, he attends St. Andrews Chapel, the church pastored by his father, Reformed celebrity RC Sproul.
Given widespread reports that RC Sproul has consistently defended Tim Dick just as he has consistently defended his son, even after Craig Sproul’s defrocking, and one can see why filing a complaint against Tim Dick in the autonomous St. Andrew’s church court has not been the preferred route of those seeking to hold Dick accountable.
Instead, they have taken various informal private approaches to try and persuade him of his error. All of these ad hoc efforts have failed and, because Dick is not a member of a presbyterian church, no appeal has been possible, and the last resort has been public exposure.
Although public exposure in the hope of public accountability is not the ideal approach, it is fitting, because Tim Dick leads a public teaching ministry that should be judged by a higher standard. See James 3:1.
I wasn’t trying to badger you, I just thought proof of such strong allegations could be easily provided, and I didn’t see using the excuse that proof could not be shown due to the law suit was valid, seeing as the allegations were made long before the suit was ever filed.
Yes, I used to go by the name ‘voiceofthesheep’, but decided a while back that I would just use my name.
Have you found out how much they are suing you for? I find this whole thing mind boggling. I wish the ugly stuff would go away
Lin, you and I have both crossed paths with voiceofthesheep/Brian Thornton before on Challies old forum that he dumped. Thankfully I was able to resurrect that thread that I’d started entitled Was it right for Dr. Sproul to have RC Sproul Jr speak at the Ligonier Conference?
Brian sent me an email today. Seems he was getting impatient about the comment that he posted here last night after I’d already shut down for the evening. Brian couldn’t seem to wait for me to get back from church and fellowshipping with the brethren today:
From: “Brian Thornton” email@example.com
Subject: My 2nd post
Date: Sun, 10 Sep 2006 15:04:49
Why have you not published my 2nd post that was in response to your reply to my first post? The points I made were straight-forward and the questions I asked were direct.
I hope you will be fair, as you have claimed to be, and publish my 2nd post. If you need a copy of it, I can email it to you, as I have made copies of everything I have posted.
Isn’t it ironic Lin that Brian Thornton of all people would want to plead with me to be “fair”? Brian himself is of course a paragon of fairness:
“I know it is like seeing a ‘wet paint’ sign and just having to touch it to make sure…but please, don’t give Mr. Vance the satisfaction by going to his web site.
“Tim has given all the information needed in this instance…you can rely on his counsel concerning this issue…and you can ensure that you won’t waste any of your time pouring over the venom that has come from the fingers of Frank Vance.” (#11)
Voiceofthesheep reminds me of the pilot Star Trek Voyager episode entitled “The Caretaker.” Voice tells the helpless dependent Ocampa, The Challies-Caretaker has spoken. You’re safe and protected as long as you remain here below the surface of the planet. There are evils lurking on the surface. Trust the Challies-Caretaker. He’ll tell you what you need to know, and if he doesn’t tell you then you didn’t need to know it.
“Careful, Tim…if you let this back and forth continue on much longer this thread will resemble more the likes of Vance’s web site than Challies.com.” (#43)
Whew! That was close Brian! Good thing you jumped in there to encourage Challies to close the commenting. You never know. There might have been some people starting to think for themselves! With all that “back and forth” going on — in other words cogent debate from posters like Lin and Michael Metzler and probably others I just haven’t heard from yet that Challies kept deleting their comments and even banning them — the whole tone in that thread might have actually become an open and candid debate rather than just a carefully choreographed chorus of Tim Challies and his trained parrots.
The day of the Challies post, I had some friends over and we read through it together. My friend, Martin made a few comments from my computer. One is this:
“I am curious, just how should Frank have handled this situation? I know the answer seems obvious to some but I am not so sure Biblically how such a thing is to be handled? There are scriptures for both sides. BTW: I agree calling someone a nincompoop is not helpful. I wonder, how does one prove if one is or is not an nincompoop in court?”
Martin felt that Challies should have outlined exactly how he would have handled this differently than you did since Challies post was so vitriolic toward you. He owed you that much as a gentleman and a blogger. Here is Brians post after that question:
“Careful, Tim…if you let this back and forth continue on much longer this thread will resemble more the likes of Vance’s web site than Challies.com… But, then again, maybe people will get a better idea from this banter of what the point was for your post.”
Challies chose not to answer a very fair question. What would he do if he was faced with something like this? Be silent? Do what you did using Matthew 18 and give the guy a time limit? What would he do?
So my question to Brian is, if this website is so repugnant to you. Why are you here? I am asking in love, of course. I do not understand how you reason things. Why is it ok for Challies to dig into Frank. But not ok for Frank to question Tim Dick on something very serious and demand answers? Have you guys really read through the process Frank used for this?
Thank you for reminding me why I stopped trying to have a discussion with you back in March when all this first broke…
Yes Brian, it’s got to be real drag not being able to completely control the conversation by deleting any comments you don’t like, baning users, etc. like you easily get accomplished over at Challies. Welcome to the world of free speech.
You are no doubt a Sproul Boot Licker; be a man and think for yourself.
Frank keep up the good fight; and if you are proven to be wrong I am sure you will repent. I know I would
“Why is it ok for Challies to dig into Frank. But not ok for Frank to question Tim Dick on something very serious and demand answers? Have you guys really read through the process Frank used for this?”
Lin you just don’t understand. We are Ocampa. The reason it’s OK for us to lynch Frank is because the Challies Caretaker has led us by his example to do that. He also tells us what we can and can’t read.
Brian Thornton is being a bad Ocampa by coming to the surface and posting personal opinions on this evil blog. He will be punished.
Scattered among the comments about this Tim Dick mess are references to the Lig Board of Directors. Several years ago the Board was comprised of Sproul and 8 outside Christian businessmen. Today there is no outside influence – it’s 100% yes men & women. I wonder why those outsiders are no longer on the Board? Along with the lawsuit and the lack of financial reporting, yet another indication of the sorry state of this once proud and respected ministry.
There are two general reasons why the “respectable” Ligonier board members were ousted:
1. They resigned when they learned they had no influence on the board. Anything R.C. says goes. When they disagreed with putting Tim in charge, they took off.
2. They were KICKED out (asked to resign) when they proved to be a roadblock for R.C. getting his way, particularly on the promotion of Tim Dick to CEO.
The board members have much to answer for. The purpose of having a board to begin with; (1), Discernment in organizational direction; (2), Hold the leadership (R.C., Tim, & Vesta) accountable/responsible for their actions; (3), Represent the shareholders (donors).
Notice neither one of these criterions have been pursued. The entire board needs to be replaced with a competent group of people who aren’t afraid to stand up to R.C., Vesta, and Tim. Remember, it was the current board members that approved the salaries of R.C., Tim Dick, John Duncan, etc. It is really the board that deserves the chastisement here. They are ultimately responsible for approving such ridiculous salaries.
Stay the course.
Keep your nose clean.
If you do these things the truth will be told.
Don’t let others “guilt” you into quitting.
Stay the course.
It is entirely possible that God will use Ligonier’s actions (i.e. suing you) as a way to reveal their conduct to the world.
Stay the course.
Formerligman said: There are two general reasons why the “respectable” Ligonier board members were ousted:
1. They resigned when they learned they had no influence on the board. Anything R.C. says goes. When they disagreed with putting Tim in charge, they took off.
2. They were KICKED out (asked to resign) when they proved to be a roadblock for R.C. getting his way, particularly on the promotion of Tim Dick to CEO.
Thanks for the inside information. Please let Frank know which former board members are the ones with integrity so they can be asked to supply more facts to help defend Frank from Dick’s frivolous lawsuit.