Ligonier Ministries: Being Defamed, We Sue

“Being defamed, we intreat.” (1 Corinthians 4:13)Ligonier Ministries dances with lawyers

I received an email this week from a gentleman whose name I recognized and whose opinions I respect. His email was about a conversation that he had with a Reformed seminary professor over the Ligonier Ministries lawsuit. I thought his comments were worth repeating here, so I obtained his permission to post the content of his email:

Dear Mr. Vance,

R.C. Sproul has been a great blessing to me and my family. Discovering that his ministry had sued a Christian blogger came as quite a shock. My admiration for Dr. Sproul caused me in my initial impressions of the situation to side with Ligonier Ministries. I tried to find some kind of justification to condemn you, but that only lasted up until I started investigating the details.

I realize now that you’ve probably had to deal with a lot of that. We’ve all got personal biases, and our biases will usually cause us to take sides and defend those we admire and condemn those we don’t know. Few people seem to know who you are, but a lot of people know who R.C. Sproul is, and for the most part R.C. Sproul is a highly respected minister of the gospel. Surely no one wants to believe that the ministry of such a smart theologian could be acting so stupidly, or that R.C. Sproul could have surrounded himself with fools and men of such poor character as Tim Dick.

The easiest way out of all of this is to try and find some logical excuse and some biblical justification for why it was okay for Ligonier to sue you. But as much as I’ve searched for some kind of out-clause in 1 Corinthians 6 I just can’t find it. I’ve seen the allegations that you haven’t proven that you’re a Christian (at least to some people’s satisfaction), and since 1 Corinthians 6 doesn’t explicitly prohibit Christians from suing non-Christians then it’s apparently okay for Ligonier to sue you. If ever there was a case of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel this would be it.

I find it incredible that the Reformation Study Bible, which R.C. Sproul is the General Editor for, clearly condemns the practice of Christians suing Christians, because of the disgrace that it brings upon the church, and how it ruins the church’s testimony for the Lord Jesus. In the commentary for 1 Corinthians 6:7 the Reformation Study Bible says:

“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.”

What’s the intent behind this lawsuit prohibition? It’s to prevent the church from undermining it’s testimony before unbelievers. The question shouldn’t even be “Can Frank Vance prove unequivocally that he’s a Christian to everyone’s satisfaction?” The question is “Did Ligonier’s lawsuit bring disgrace upon the Christian community by publicly exposing their misdeeds in the civil courts?” The answer is self-evident and anyone at Ligonier with half a brain in his head should have known that before they sued you.

Anyone who continues to claim that it was okay for Ligonier to sue you, for whatever reason they think they can concoct, are acting just like Pharisees. They’re reading strictly the letter of the law while ignoring the spirit of the law — the intent. That kind of legalism is exactly what Christ blasted the Pharisees over.

I took my family to a conference recently at a church in a neighboring community. The messages by the speakers were very encouraging. All the speakers were Reformed. One of the speakers is a seminary professor that teaches at a small but well respected Reformed seminary. He’s also written several excellent books. Over lunch we had some interesting dialogue about some of our mutual areas of concern, including theological errors that have crept into the church, such as Federal Vision (this man is well known for his opposition to Federal Vision/Auburn Avenue doctrine). We also discussed church discipline, so quite naturally the subject of R.C. Sproul, Jr. and his defrocking was discussed. That then segued into R.C. Sproul’s public defense of his defrocked son, which then segued into the Ligonier defamation lawsuit.

This seminary professor struck me as a man who formed opinions on matters only after careful research and examination. But for some odd reason the Ligonier lawsuit proved to be a standout exception. This man has a personal relationship with R.C. Sproul and based on what he said it was obvious that he’d been talking to R.C. Sproul about the lawsuit. Here’s what he said:

“I haven’t read Vance’s site, but I did get Ligonier’s side of the story. What I was told is that they tried to sit down and talk with Vance. They told Vance that what he’d heard about Soli Deo Gloria was all wrong. But he just refused to listen. He threatened to go public anyway. They offered to settle the dispute with Vance ecclesiastically but Vance refused to give them the name of his church and pastor. So they felt they didn’t have any other choice but to get an injunction.”

So I said, “If you’ve only gotten Ligonier’s side of the story then you haven’t been following this thing carefully. Vance has a lot of detailed information on his blog. He’s covered this story thoroughly since the very beginning. What you’ve been told by Ligonier isn’t what was being said by Ligonier until just very recently. They’ve been lying about a lot of stuff. I hate to say that about them but I’ve experienced it first-hand and so have a lot of other people too. I know because I’ve called Ligonier myself to try and figure out what was going on. Every time I called it was a different story. First they said there wasn’t a lawsuit at all. I asked them how there couldn’t be a lawsuit when the Orlando Sentinel was reporting on the lawsuit. They told me the paper didn’t know what they were talking about. So I called the court and had no trouble getting a case number from a clerk and verifying that there was a Ligonier vs. Vance lawsuit. The next day I called Ligonier again and this time they said it wasn’t a lawsuit it was an injunction, like there’s supposedly a big difference. When I pointed out to the customer service rep that it wasn’t only an injunction but they were also suing Vance for defamation the rep told me my information was wrong. Then when I called again later they finally admitted there was a lawsuit but that they’d dropped it. So I checked with the court and it hadn’t been dropped at all. They haven’t said one single thing that’s been truthful. But even if they were being truthful do you think they have biblical justification to circumvent 1 Corinthians 6?”

This Reformed seminary professor, a man that I consider to be a biblical scholar replied, “God has ordained the civil magistrate to be His minister of justice. There are times where it’s appropriate to have the magistrate step in to resolve disputes, sometimes even against a fellow Christian.”

I agreed and said, “Yes, clearly there are cases where calling on the civil magistrate is entirely appropriate, even against a fellow Christian, at least if it involves some criminal act. But what Ligonier sued Vance for wasn’t a criminal act. What they sued him for and alleged is that he was about to commit an act of defamation against them and they asked the judge for prior restraint in the form of an injunction. That’s something that judges hardly ever do because a prior restraint injunction is viewed as such a blatant violation of free speech rights. It was foolish for them to even attempt it. But my bigger concern isn’t about the civil law but about biblical law. What does the Bible say the Christian is supposed to do about defamation, either before he’s about to be defamed, or after he’s already been defamed? You say that Ligonier was justified in suing Vance because it hasn’t been shown that he’s a believer. So for the sake of argument let’s just go ahead and say he’s not a believer. Ligonier says that Vance defamed them, or that he was about to defame them. I don’t see that it makes any difference whether Vance is a Christian or not. Isn’t Scripture plain in what it says Christians are to do when they’re defamed? It says ‘Being defamed, we intreat’. It doesn’t say ‘Being defamed, we sue’.”

It’s really strange what happened then. Here’s a Reformed seminary professor, a genuine scholar and theologian who espouses the five solas of the Reformation, including Sola Scriptura. Yet his rationale for supporting Ligonier’s defamation lawsuit against you was one of the most convoluted and unscriptural things I’ve ever heard. Not only was it unbiblical it wasn’t even logical or rational. I pressed him several times to support his position from Scripture, which he never did. I’m convinced he didn’t because he simply couldn’t. There’s just no biblical support for it.

I’m very dismayed by what happened in that conversation. That Reformed seminary professor’s defense of Ligonier was absolutely pathetic. The fact is though there just isn’t any valid biblical defense for what Ligonier has done, and anyone who continues to defend Ligonier is just making a fool of themselves. I’ve lost considerable respect for that seminary professor. He’s put his personal friendships ahead of his loyalties for the integrity of the gospel of Christ. He’s also undermined his own faithfulness to Sola Scriptura.

When even such learned men can be so willfully blind the Reformed faith in America is in serious trouble. That seminary professor is training future pastors and ministers. I shudder to think of the ramifications of that.

You’re in my prayers Frank, as are our Reformed ministry leaders. May God convict their hearts to be godly men who will stand firm, refusing to compromise the integrity of the Scriptures for the sake of their personal friendships.

Sola Scriptura,


The problems here as I see it are three-fold:

  1. Ligonier Ministries is lying to its friends and allies about what they supposedly did prior to suing me (I’ve exposed Ligonier’s lies previously, so no surprise there). Not one single thing that RC Sproul privately told that seminary professor is true. That’s not to say that RC Sproul is a liar, but it is to say that Tim Dick is a liar and at the very least RC Sproul has accepted Tim Dick’s lies as fact and not bothered to investigate matters for himself.
  2. Even if Ligonier’s story weren’t a bold-faced lie, Ligonier’s friends and allies (including apparently now even scholarly Reformed seminary professors) would still have to strain out interpretations of 1 Corinthians 6 that just aren’t there in order to say that Ligonier was justified in suing me.
  3. Even though “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) many Christians are “respecters of persons.” When it comes to RC Sproul, and anything related to him, there are some who treat him as though he can do no wrong. This smacks of man-worship and idolatry.

In spite of men’s personal sentiments for RC Sproul, sentiments which evidently are blinding their abilities to think logically and biblically, Ligonier Ministries has done wrong — very wrong. As Mark Epstein put it in his article, Ligonier: Christendom’s Enron:

“Now there may actually exist a time when a Christian has approbation to use the heathen courts but, as the Bible makes clear, defamation is not a legitimate cause for such action, regardless of the alleged perpetrator’s status.”

David McCrory also has an excellent article on his blog, Covenant Corner, entitled Christian v. Christian which includes quotes from a number of Bible commentaries from 1 Corinthians 6.

The Reformed church in America has reached a new low and nothing demonstrates it more clearly than the Ligonier Ministries vs. Frank Vance lawsuit. The fact that so many Reformed ministry leaders are privately siding with Ligonier only confirms just how far the Reformed church in America has departed from the Scriptures.

Ligonier Ministries is not being held accountable by Reformed ministers for filing an unbiblical lawsuit, as well as repeatedly lying and engaging in a pattern of cover ups about that lawsuit. I’m not aware of one single prominent Reformed minister who has publicly commented on this. Worse yet, at least some of them are privately defending Ligonier’s unbiblical actions. For men who generally seem to know the Scriptures so well they’re now doing an incompetent job of showing it.

Not one single Reformed ministry leader who personally knows RC Sproul and who has shared a speaker’s podium with him has issued a public statement regarding Ligonier’s lawsuit. By their silence these men are demonstrating that they are compromised. If you’re troubled about those Reformed ministers’ apparent agreement with Ligonier’s lawsuit by their silence I would urge you to personally contact those Reformed leaders and express your concerns. Contact information is available at RC Sproul Sinning By Silence. Please comment here with any responses you receive.

36 Comments on “Ligonier Ministries: Being Defamed, We Sue”

  1. always batya says:

    Frank, I e-mailed John Piper at Desiring God and here is the response I got:

    “Thank you for expressing your concern regarding the dispute between Ligonier Ministries and the author of the weblog, “Contending for the Truth.” After looking into the situation we accept the three statements found at the following Internet links issued by Ligonier Ministries president, Tim Dick, the Ligonier Senior Management, and Dr. Don Kistler as the present position of Ligonier Ministries.

    Statement from Ligonier Senior Management
    Statement from Tim Dick
    Statement from Don Kistler
    We are glad that Ligonier has chosen not to continue pursuing legal action. We are also concerned that their accuser, Frank Vance (we do not know if this is his real name), evidently has been unwilling to meet face to face in a conciliation effort and is not forthcoming about the church he is a part of for counsel and discipline, making biblical reconciliation very difficult.

    In view of the public discussion of this matter, we also would like to affirm the following apostolic admonitions addressed to us all:

    “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'” (1 Peter 5:5);

    “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19); “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6);

    Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into himwho is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15)

    “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another,tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32).

    We are joining you in prayer that the Holy Spirit will work reconciliation and will glorify Jesus through our brothers who are currently in dispute.

    For the Supremacy of Christ in All Things,

    Desiring God
    2601 E. Franklin Ave.
    Minneapolis, MN 55406

    612.435.2401 (Local)
    612.338.4372 (Fax)

    How can one even turn a blind eye that these leaders are being lied to? I have had a lot of respect for John Piper but no more. We must NOT follow men. What is even more distressing is that by refusing to look at facts, these men are actually helping Ligoneir sin.

    I e-mailed them back with FACTS pertaining to the statements and the lawsuit as it stands. I have not heard back. It is funny how we are supposed to feel like guilty sinners for pointing out public facts and public sins by a ministry. These statements are made without even contacting you and hearing your side. The reason: They do not want to know. They must ignore facts.

    My yardstick for truth is not John Piper or any other reformed leader. I no longer need a priest. My yardstick for truth is the Word of Jesus Christ. I do not need a reformed leader to know what to believe. I have the Word.

    Ligonier has gained the world but lost their soul. And their celebrity minister friends are helping them.

  2. Truth Seeker says:

    So, the are telling everyone they tried to sit down with you to discuss this but you refused. That is interesting and anyone caring to follow this knows Tim Dick had been contacting you prior to filing the lawsuit and never once mentioned meeting you. Anyone following the facts can see they lied many times after the lawsuit so why not before? Some of us were lied to on the phone by Ligonier after calling the court to validate the lawsuit had not been withdrawn.

    But we have other witnesses to how they operate. Tim Dick was to meet with Mark and Jennifer Epstien about all of this but cancelled. Then she was told to never call Ligoneir again.

    These leaders also conveniently dismiss the defrocking of his son by his denomination and then his father allowing him to teach on his conference stage. There are too many facts they have to overlook in order to believe Ligoneir. How sad for them.

    Funny how truth is a casualty with Ministers of God’s Word.

  3. jimmy olsen says:

    This conversation with the Reformed scholar is saddening and unfortunately, not surprising. Frank, you are right on the mark that this smacks of man worship and idolatry. Guess it shouldn’t surprise any of us, as even the early church had this problem (I Cor 1).

    The upper eschelons of the Reformed community that R.C. and his cronies inhabit has become nothing more than a men’s club where loyalty to a member of that club has become more important than following Christ. I urge those leaders of the Reformed community to repent and see these events for what they are, and not be blinded by a sense of loyalty. True loyalty to these you call “friends” would be to call them to account for their actions, not ignore them.

  4. Frank Vance says:

    I’m saddened by John Piper’s statement. Rather than objectively investigating for himself he’s despising justice by only going to one party and hearing only one side of the story. Worse yet he as a Bible teacher fails to make any mention of the fact that Ligonier’s lawsuit was unbiblical. Instead he just blames me!

    I see that Ligonier Ministries has finally decided to post “A Public Statement from Dr. Don Kistler” on their web site. What took so long? Interesting that they also backdated it to the same date as the other two public statements. Something stinks.

  5. Jen says:

    Well, this explains a lot! Now we know why other Reformed leaders are maintaining silence – they have only bothered to listen to one side of the story – which is probably the case even with RC. But, there are ALWAYS two sides to every story, and we would do well to remember that. I read Ligonier’s side (statements), I called and talked to Ligonier several times, including a very long conversation with John Duncan listening to his side of the story, and I had an extensive email conversation with Tim Dick. I fully listened to both sides of the story before I made any kind of an evaluation. In the sermon I heard yesterday, the preacher said that elders especially should take plenty of time to always listen to ALL of the details of both sides of any story. Since these Reformed leaders are all elders, or serving in the biblical position of elder, I would request that they carefully weigh both sides of the story.

    Frank, I have a verse for you: Proverbs 29:9
    “If a wise man contends with a foolish man, Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.” You are a wise man who has contended with many foolish men. This proverb will tell you the outcome of all your hard work. Nevertheless, persevere, do what is right in the eyes of God, and never give up! Maybe there still is hope!

  6. Down with all Dicks says:

    Always Batya, Thanks for supplying us with the non-response of John Piper’s “ministry.” Interesting how they not only slander Frank by repeating Ligonier’s lies about him, but they also copy Ligonier’s tactic of issuing a statement with no signature so that no individual manager takes responsibility. Quite hypocritical, given their criticism of Frank for allegedly not being “forthcoming.” Would you call Desiring God back and try to get the name and contact information of a manager who will desires to please God enough that he is willing to hear the other side of the story and review the documented evidence before passing judgment? If you can find such a person or, even, any manager with some relevant responsibility, please let us know. Thank you.

  7. […] has a new post up; you can see it here […]

  8. […] has a new post up; you can see it here […]

  9. John Steinhausen says:

    Frank, here’s another Ligonier lie, this time by John Duncan, as documented by David McCrory:

    I emailed John Duncan earlier today in regards to there being no public record of them ceasing to go forward with their lawsuit. To which he replied,

    “A legal action functionally ceases when a plaintiff instructs their council not to proceed.”

    I suppose we have to take his word on it they did it.

    September 25, 2006 9:56 PM

    David, you should really know better than to be taking John Duncan’s word for anything. He’s a pathological liar.

    Larswife gives a great response to David’s comment.

  10. The Barn Cat says:

    Dapper Doug Phillips has set up a website and will soon explain how I Cor. 6 does not extend to Frank. He’ll explain “the tragedy and impropriety of Christians suing Christians under 1 Corinthians 6,” as well as “the non-applicability of 1 Corinthians 6 to excommunicants.” And thus we have a hint as to how suing Frank is permissable – he’ll just say Frank’s not a Christian.

    Dapper Doug also writes,

    “”When it comes to speech, most bloggers (including some professing Christians) borrow more from the reasoning of the ACLU than the Holy Scriptures, the common law, or the Constitution.”

    Now, that’s an odd statement coming from the man who 1) is about to slither around Scripture with the sinusoidal finesse of a serpent to prove Frank unsaved, and 2) supports Dishonest Doug Wilson’s ecclesiological sleight of hand in white-washing RC Sproul Jr.’s defrocking. The amazing contortions through which Dishonest Doug went in his sophistry would make any ACLU attorney envious, and I’m sure Dapper Doug’s Clintonesque attempt to nullify Frank’s salvation will be just as amazing.

    Another thing about this that takes my breath away is Ligonier’s demand that Frank reveal the contact information of the Elders to whom he is accountable. You see, they want said Elders to subject Frank to church discipline. Their implication is that they themselves are possessed of Edenic innocence, pure as the driven snow, when we all know perfectly well they are up to their eyeballs in sin in this wretched matter. Well, I emailed Ligonier, asking for the contact info for the church and the Elders to whom RC Sr., Tim Dick, and Rollicking Ryan Dick are accountable. After all, ALL Presbyterians are under authority. Right? I told them the recent behavior of these three has been highly questionable to the end of gorifying God, and I wish to inform the Elders for possible disciplinary action. I’ll let you know when they respond (wink wink).

  11. Frank Vance says:

    “Another thing about this that takes my breath away is Ligonier’s demand that Frank reveal the contact information of the Elders to whom he is accountable. You see, they want said Elders to subject Frank to church discipline.”

    Just to clarify, at no time has Tim Dick ever asked me for the names of my church and pastor, either before suing me or after. The first time that I was ever asked for that information was on September 17, almost a month after Ligonier first sued me, and the person requesting that information did so under the pseudonym “Passerby.” Although Passerby claimed to be “Ligonier senior management” I had no way of knowing at the time whether or not he was. Later I determined that Passerby was Ligonier General Manager John Duncan (brother of Ligon Duncan).

    It was more than obvious to me at the time that demands for my personal information such as the name of my pastor and church had nothing at all to do with Ligonier suddenly having a change of heart about the lawsuit. If that were the case they would’ve already dropped the lawsuit by then. But it was another 10 days before they withdrew the lawsuit. In the following days “Passerby” made numerous other such demands in comments that I refused to approve. However, he ignored my requests to communicate with me via email. At the same time I started being daily barraged with blog comments and emails from a number of other people also making the same demands in what I can only view as an intense and coordinated effort to extract personal information.

    Their demands for the name of my chuch and pastor likely had nothing at all to do with facilitating a biblical resolution. In all likelihood it was nothing more than a ploy to obtain personal information so that they could legally serve me.

    Anyone who actually believes that Ligonier ever made any sincere effort to resolve this dispute biblically is being naive or willfully ignorant.

  12. jimmy olsen says:

    If Ligonier truly desired to resolve this biblically, they would understand your reluctance to reveal personal information about yourself and your church leadership while a legal case was underway. The correct steps to take would have been to immediately drop the case with predjudice and then have a reputable third party Christian mediator contact you in order to pursue biblical resolution.

    The fact that they didn’t pursue this logical and honorable course speaks volumes to me about the level of character of Tim Dick and Ligonier management.

    To quote Hawkeye in M*A*S*H*, “I’d vouch for this man’s character, but he has none.”

  13. Truth Seeker says:

    It is hard to believe that they could be so blatant in their lies and deception and how far they will go even bringing others in to be a part of the lies and coverup.

    One would think they do not believe that Revelations 21:8 applies to ALL of us:

    “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all —liars——their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

  14. […] It has been hard over the last 10 months as I have had to progressively realize the explicit dishonest hypocrisy in everything Doug Wilson does. Every paragraph from him is a matter of “do what I say not what I do” as he has his cake and eats it too. Wilson has just recently played buddies with Ligonier Ministries, going as far as saying that the blogger they sued was “vile,” and Ligonier’s actions reasonable and justified. Stacey tried to warn Wilson of the clear corruption, asking him to at least hold his tongue before he allied himself with Ligonier’s corruption. But Wilson listened to no one and offered the most extreme and unjust comments about the issue from a blog owner on the world wide web. Wilson had perfect access to the kind of money these self-protective men are reeling in, the amount Tim Dick has decided to start spending on attorneys, and the moral corruption of Tim Dick’s son. And yet one day following the time he claimed to know nothing about the matter Wilson starts slinging punches like an unrestrained angry mother bear. The hypocrisy he showed was little different than his cover up of his buddy RC Sproul Jr – the very thing that helped start all this mess. In terms of practice, Wilson has just fully aligning himself with the wealthy and arrogant Ligonier team; in terms of talk however, look at pastor Wilson’s wise counsel for us today: “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Prov. 16:19). […]

  15. […] It has been hard over the last 10 months as I have had to progressively realize the explicit dishonest hypocrisy in everything Doug Wilson does. Every paragraph from him is a matter of “do what I say not what I do” as he has his cake and eats it too. Wilson has just recently played buddies with Ligonier Ministries, going as far as saying that the blogger they sued was “vile,” and Ligonier’s actions reasonable and justified. Stacey tried to warn Wilson of the clear corruption, asking him to at least hold his tongue before he allied himself with Ligonier’s corruption. But Wilson listened to no one and offered the most extreme and unjust comments about the issue from a blog owner on the world wide web. Wilson had perfect access to the kind of money these self-protective men are reeling in, the amount Tim Dick has decided to start spending on attorneys, and the moral corruption of Tim Dick’s son. And yet one day following the time he claimed to know nothing about the matter Wilson starts slinging punches like an unrestrained angry mother bear. The hypocrisy he showed was little different than his cover up of his buddy RC Sproul Jr – the very thing that helped start all this mess. In terms of practice, Wilson has just fully aligning himself with the wealthy and arrogant Ligonier team; in terms of talk however, look at pastor Wilson’s wise counsel for us today: “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Prov. 16:19). […]

  16. Dave says:

    I think that you are whistling Dixie to think that John Piper or Mark Dever would get involved. They would view this as an in house matter to be handled by Ligonier’s Board of Directors.

    As for jurisdiction, it is Ligonier’s Board, who is in charge. They must answer about the Kistler/Soli Deo Gloria thing. They must give an answer about the lawsuit too. They must also explain why it hasn’t been withdrawn. It’s quite apparent that people are hiding behind the Board of Directors. What were those names and addresses again? When do they meet? Are their meetings open to the public?

    If the stonewalling continues then the reformed community will look elsewhere for solid teaching.

  17. Frank Vance says:

    Dave, I don’t think that anyone realistically expects Piper, Dever, MacArthur, Mohler or any of the rest to “get involved” directly. What we’re looking for is leadership. They could start demonstrating some leadership by issuing public statements through their ministries specifically addressing the fact that Ligonier’s lawsuit was unbibiblical and foolish.

    At best it now looks like they might be issuing statements privately to those who make inquiry. Or at least Piper is doing that (is it just me or isn’t that one of the sorriest statements imaginable?).

    Regarding the lawsuit, it has been withdrawn. The problem is it was withdrawn “without prejudice,” meaning that they reserve the right to sue me again, and given the interview their attorney had with the Orlando Sentinel on September 29 it’s obvious that’s exactly what they’re intending to do.

    The Ligonier Board of Directors names and addresses is here.

  18. Celebs For Jesus says:


    I came across a really weird thread on the World Magazine Blog today entitled, School’s no longer out for Alice Cooper. Bear with me here Frank because this actually has a lot to do with R.C. Sproul.

    I can remember Alice Cooper almost thirty years ago when I was in high school and the example of demented perverse debauchery that he was to me and countless thousands of other kids. The article spoke in glowing terms of how “Alice” has become a Christian. Bob Dylan supposedly became a Christian too, but like so many other celeb conversions it didn’t last. Unlike Bob Dylan though who actually did at least for awhile demonstrate some Christian fruits in his life, “Alice” is still being “Alice,” doing his shock-rock shows exactly the way he always had before. The only difference is that now he supposedly loves Jesus and he gives money to Christian causes, especially youth programs. That’s a good thing because after the way he’s screwed up an entire generation or two of impressionable kids they could really use some help.

    What I didn’t realize until just today though is that R.C. Sproul is Alice Cooper’s golfing buddy! This comment on WorldMagBlog by Watch Out really nailed it.

    VS let’s cut to the chase on why RC Sproul and Alice Cooper are golfing buddies. Does anyone honestly believe that ultra-conservative theologian and pastor RC Sproul, who’s many times publicly bemoaned the perversions of the American post-Christian culture would go golfing with a man named “Alice” who for years represented nothing but the most depraved debauched rebellious perversions that the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” industry could dish up unless. . . Yes, unless Vincent, who still goes by the name “Alice,” who’s done little to nothing to publicly repent of the huge part that he played in corrupting the youth culture and damning their souls to Hell, unless “Alice” weren’t making big financial contributions to RC Sproul’s ministry so that RC Sproul could continue living in his mansion? Dr. Sproul has been bought off.

    What do R.C. Sproul and shock-rocker Alice Cooper have in common? They’re both celebrities, they’re both fond of fame and money, and they both like the respectability that comes from being called a Christian.

  19. Ex Lig Donor says:

    Celebs for Jesus, Thanks for bringing Watch Out’s comment to my attention. Donor care and feeding is by far the best explanation for RC golfing with “Alice.” I wonder if “Alice’s” donation will be big enough to appear on the 2005 990 form — if Ligonier ever gets around to completing it (two extensions from the IRS should be enough, even for Tim Dick and even wearing out multiple CPAs). And maybe “Alice” will bring Jane Fonda on board, too. Didn’t Worldly Magazine report on her “conversion” a few years back? And didn’t they fail to report on all her subsequent donations to abortion groups? I guess that wasn’t newsworthy, just like Ligonier’s lawsuit isn’t newsworthy.

  20. I Want To Be Alice's Golf Buddy says:

    John Duncan needs to apologize for knocking the lack of “musical talent” of R.C.’s golfing buddy:

    “In the music world there is typically a direct correlation between the lavishness of the stage show and the lack of talent on the part of the performer. (i.e. Alice Cooper, Britney Spears)

    John Duncan is right of course. Alice Cooper has no musical talent and he has to make up for it with pyrotechnics and biting the heads off small farm animals. But still, John should know better than to be criticizing one of Ligonier’s donors.

  21. Not Alice's Golf Bud says:

    Mr. Cooper (or is that Mrs. Cooper?) needs to sue for that!

    Oh wait. He’s professes to be a Christian so even though he’s a shock rocker he’s probably read the Bible and knows Christians aren’t supposed to sue Christians.

    He did sue KISS though in 1998 for copyright infringement but I guess a rock group who’s name stands for Kings In Satan’s Service is probably fair game for a lawsuit.

    Alice claims that he converted to Christianity 16 years ago but based on the fact that his ghoulish shock rock performances are no different than what they’ve always been I’ve got my doubts. It’s ironic that John Duncan also mentioned Britney Spears. Doesn’t she also claim to be a Christian? Jesus said “You shall know them by their fruits.”

  22. Lawrence says:

    Call me picky, but in the interest of not bearing false witness against ANYBODY as well as being no respecter of persons, it was not Cooper but Ozzy who bit the head off a bat. In Ozzy’s case it was thrown from the audience and he thought it was a rubber toy. For his lack of discernment he got the joy of undergoing a round of rabies shots. He finally learned what his momma said when she told him to watch what he put in his mouth. Unfortunately, that diligence does not apply to what comes out.

    Cooper, on the other hand, apparently threw chickens, he relays the story here:

    “Interviewed in August [1991] prior to his CNE show, ghoulmaster Alice Cooper set the record straight about an infamous 1969 tale, that he’d shocked John Lennon at the legendary Varsity Stadium rock fest by ripping the heads off live chickens while performing his shock rock.

    “That was our very first big show,” Cooper said. “And you know, the funny thing about the Toronto show was that we had no chickens planned at all; the chickens were thrown by the audience.”

    “We were on stage, we had feathers, we had pillows and we had CO2 cartridges. We used to break these open and then we would blast feathers all over the audience.”

    “And then somebody threw a chicken on stage. A live chicken. I was absolutely, I mean, I’m from Detroit, you know, I was never on a farm in my life.”

    “I figured, well, it’s got wings, it’s got feathers, it’ll fly. I’ll just throw it out there and it will fly away.”

    “I threw it in the audience, and the audience tore it to pieces! The next thing I was reading in the papers: ‘He was geeking chickens on stage.'”

    We should also remember that even had Cooper done as stated his pre-conversion behavior although laden with personal and public consequence is forgiven, as is ours and as such is really not fair game.

  23. Always Batya says:

    (is it just me or isn’t that one of the sorriest statements imaginable?).

    It’s not just you. It literally hurt my heart. I thought, where are the men that are so upright you can trust to be under their authority. I was listening to a Piper sermon a day and now I cannot even bear to go to their site.

    This one is so clear: Ligonier did something blatantly UnBiblical. And Piper (Or one of his people) respond by basically denouncing Frank without even e-mailing him and even asking a basic question or two. That is bearing false witness!

    In their statement they imply that Frank is not really Frank Vance. I personally do not care if Frank is John Gotti. They sued and they are part of the Body of Christ as teachers and expositors of God’s Word.

    That fact alone does not seem to be enough for the Piper. No one expects him to get involved further than a public statement that lawsuits are UnBiblical. Period.

    Folks, the lure of celebrity is something I have witnessed personally in the past few years in ministries. I have seen several be sucked down that black hole of speaking engagements, books, tapes, conferences, etc. These Celebs really start thinking that what they are ‘doing’ is so important.

    The truth becomes secondary especially when the rubber meets the road and hard truths must be confronted. It is easy to confront the hard truths from a pulpit to many but hard to confront a person who happens to be a peer. As a matter of fact, it is rarely done. In this case, confrontation is not even needed. Just speaking truth of scripture will be enough. But even that must be deemed too offensive for Piper.

  24. formlessandvoid says:

    Ex Lig Donor: it’s interesting that you call that magazine “Worldly Magazine”. I began following the development of the lawsuit and its aftermath upon reading Worldly Magazine’s blog. That particular blog entry’s concern about the lawsuit was …. implications on the First Amendment, not violation of Scripture on the part of a well-known Reformed ministry! WM claims to cover news from a Christian perspective, but it, too, has become worldly. I used to have a lot more respect for WM, back when it still had the courage to rebuke World Vision for its involvement in distributing IUDs in third-world countries. But when it started increasing coverage on “culture”–films and music that I considered rather trashy–I dropped subscription to the print magazine. Now I only take occasional cursory peeks at the online version and its blog.

    Oh well, at least I came to see Ligonier for what it is by means of WM. It’s a shame that many Christians in Reformed circles are still in the dark about the fiasco, and some (as evidenced by the comments in WM blog) are still in denial even given the *facts*. Regardless of Mr. Vance’s charges, Ligonier just blatantly sued unbiblically and lied repeatedly. That is a fact that only the willfully ignorant and blind can deny. Now they are hoping to keep this underground in blogosphere. I hope some of us do go to the next conference and raise questions in front of all: to Sproul, to Piper, to the “big shots”. Perhaps we should organize an event publicly to protest outside where the conference takes place.

  25. Frank Vance says:

    “While some of the suits have merit, many of them, such as the case in which Ligonier Ministries is suing a blogger for comments about the president being from ‘a family of nincompoops’, seem excessive. The whole appeal to posting on the Internet is that any old Jo(e) Schmoe can exercise his or her First Amendment rights without being censored. Calling someone a nincompoop is neither something that can be categorically verified nor denied. According to Ligonier, I should be able to sue discussion participants on various Internet sites for calling me a hairdresser and ‘probably a whore’. Probably? Well then.” Bloggers face an increase in libel suits

  26. Rea says:

    Rush talked about about this indirectly. He said that it used to be there were only a few columnist in major newspapers. Now there are hundreds of thousands of columnists with blogs and the people in power do not like it at all.

  27. Hate Rap says:

    Speaking of corrupting “music” influences there’s that genre known as “rap.” I personally hate the stuff with a passion but most of the time I can avoid it.

    What really annoys me though is to pay to go to a Christian conference and have to see white guys performing rap, like what happened at this years Ligonier Conference. John and Ligon Duncan got up and rapped some asinine “song” about money and crime. Some people thought it was cute and funny but it just made me sick. I’m even sicker now that I know a lot more about what John Duncan is all about, thanks to you Frank.

    Rap on John! It really suits you. The lyrics really suit you too John. “It might sound sad, it might sound funny, but that’s what people do for money.”

  28. Ex Lig Donor says:

    Hate Rap, Thanks so much for the info and the link. The lyrics about criminal deeds — “that’s what people do for money” — really are appropriate. I haven’t seen anything this revolting since, well, I guess it was Ryan Dick’s MySpace page. My thanks also go to Frank for taking the lead to expose these shameless characters.

  29. Ex Lig Donor says:

    I’m reminded that Ligon Duncan was very recently the moderator of the Presbyterian Church in America. For those who don’t know, the PCA used to be a leading conservative Presbyterian denomination. In the past decade or so, however, it has tried very hard to be more “relevant” by integrating psychobabble, invoking multiculturalism, and introducing business management and marketing principles into church planting and church growth efforts. Conservatives in the denomination have tried to resist, but they have been out-maneuvered by the liberal wing of the denomination, led by people such as Tim Keller in New York and Ligon Duncan in Jackson.

    Given the historic context, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Ligon Duncan, just like John Duncan, thinks rap is funny and suitable for a Ligonier conference rather than disgusting and suitable only for the gutter.

  30. lucille says:

    Ok lets get our facts straight:
    1. Dr. Sproul has witnessed to Mr. Cooper.
    2. Mr. Duncan was hilarious rapping and it was just two frozen chosens loosening up. What is wrong with two brothers having a good time together. Have we Christian’s become so jaded by the misdealings of a few nincompoops that we can’t recognize brotherly love anymore?
    Let’s avoid being nincompoops ourselves!

    Oh by the way if you listen to the link people are cutting up throughout the whole rap.

  31. Celebrity Christian says:


    Don’t you recognize them? It’s the warm-up act for Alice Cooper.

  32. james says:

    ExLigDonor, you can probably assume that it was not Ligon and John Duncan who thought rap would be funny at a Ligonier conference, but RC. NOTHING happens there unless he wants it to happen.

  33. I Hate Rap Too says:

    Jen Epstein has a very funny article about this. The comments are even funnier.

    PCA Rap Reps?

    It looks like R.C. Sproul, Tim Dick, and John Duncan are in a three way race to the bottom… to join R.C. Sproul, Jr.

  34. […] John Piper is a liar. Frank Vance responds: "Anyone who actually believes that Ligonier ever made any sincere effort to resolve this dispute biblically is being naive or willfully ignorant." […]

  35. […] John Piper is a liar. Frank Vance responds: "Anyone who actually believes that Ligonier ever made any sincere effort to resolve this dispute biblically is being naive or willfully ignorant." […]

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