Honor As A Defining Principle Of Life: What Should Ligonier Leaders Do?

During this year, much has been written on the topic of honor in Reformed circles. In fact, in May of this year, Ligonier Ministries Chairman RC Sproul spoke at a conference on the fifth commandment and honor, hosted by his son, RC Sproul, Jr. The conference was entitled “Generations: Giving Honor to Whom Honor is Due.”

Ironically, just shortly prior to the conference RC Sproul, Jr. had been defrocked for a number of dishonorable and remarkably unpastoral acts, including ecclesiastical abuse against several families in Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, stealing and illegally using another church denomination’s tax identification number, and a list of additional charges constituting insubordination and vow breaking against the Presbytery that ordained him.

Many were deeply offended that a newly defrocked Presbyterian minister was hosting a conference on “honor” when he had just received the military equivalent of a courts martial and dishonorable discharge.

Unfortunately, some of the recent writing and teaching by several Reformed leaders on the subject of honor has focused almost exclusively on the responsibility of the sheep to act honorably to their shepherds, while largely ignoring the responsibility of the shepherds to lead as honorable examples. Several of these Reformed leaders have openly and publicly sided with the defrocked RC Sproul Jr, not the least of whom was his father.

Frank Vance was ultimately sued by Ligonier Ministries in an effort to silence his criticisms of the dishonorable way that Ligonier Ministries has conducted itself, as well as Ligonier’s obvious lack of accountability. Based upon the Ligonier Ministries lawsuit against a man who professes Christ as Savior, filed only three months after the Honor conference, perhaps it is time to correct the balance of the teaching on this subject by focusing on honor as it applies to leaders.

Honor CodeAs one blogger on the subject of the Ligonier Ministries lawsuit noted, America’s future military leaders (whether saved or unsaved) are expected to adhere to an Honor Code (a code that begins with the words “a cadet will not lie”), while receiving a taxpayer-funded education at our country’s military academies. If unbelieving leaders are expected to uphold such a standard, should not we have even higher standards and expectations of our religious leaders?

The answer to this question is a resounding “Yes.” We should expect more from our religious leaders because the very nature of spiritual leadership involves entrusting the leader with the care and concern for our very souls.

So what is wrong at Ligonier? There are many problems, but one thing in particular especially stands out: a lack of accountability. There is apparently no genuine accountability at Ligonier Ministries, and certainly no accountability comparable with what we would expect to see were Ligonier an integrated ministry of a church denomination, such as the PCA where RC Sproul parks his ordination. One has to wonder why RC Sproul believes his PCA ordination has any real value at all (other than perhaps strictly for image purposes) when he’s done nothing to make himself accountable to the PCA, either through his ministry, or even in the independent nondenominational church that he pastors. In PCA vernacular, RC Sproul is “ministering out of bounds.” In RC Sproul’s case, “Presbyterian” is an impressive label with no real substance.

Just as apparent with Ligonier is the lack of accountability that’s in any way comparable to what we find in our country’s service academies. That begs the question: Why do the unsaved recognize the necessity for accountability in a secular Honor Code, but the ministry led by one of the elder statesmen of Reformed theology has no genuine accountability system in place?

The first part of this answer begins with the rejection of biblical standards: Ligonier’s leaders have tossed aside the Holy and Infallible Word of God. The best current evidence for this is that they filed a lawsuit against a fellow believer. After the fact, when their phones started ringing off the hook with angry calls from their own financial supporters, then they started practicing a form of Pharisaical contortionism in order to justify their unbiblical action. Had Ligonier Ministries been under some form of genuine accountability, it’s unlikely that they would have been able to file the lawsuit in the first place. Until such time as they are brought under biblical accountability, it’s very likely that there will be additional abuses in the future.

During the Exodus, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, suggested a solution to dealing with the disagreements of the Hebrew slaves recently liberated from Egyptian bondage. The system that spared Moses from settling every dispute personally ensured multiple levels of review and accountability. This pattern of biblical accountability, including appeal to higher church “courts” (with “appellate review” capability), is healthy for the church, and for church ministries, for it establishes a hierarchical system of decision-making review.

Again, the secular legal system incorporates just this type of process to protect the rights of either the criminal or civil defendant. Interestingly enough, a good deal of our nation’s Constitutional Republic system of checks and balances, accountability, and right of appeal came as a direct result of the influence of the Presbyterian clergyman and Founding Father, John Witherspoon. Yet the church in America in recent years has, on the whole, largely abandoned these principles of justice that made America the envy of the world, principles that originated back in the time of Moses.

From all appearances, it seems the lack of decision-making review in the Ligonier vs. Vance lawsuit is responsible for the ministry’s failure to examine the second and third order effects of suing Frank Vance. One has to ask “why” no one in Ligonier saw the obvious repercussions associated with suing a fellow believer. The failure to consider fully the ripples emanating from the filing of a lawsuit is a failure of leadership at the highest level of Ligonier, not just the CEO and senior management positions, because it exemplifies the aforementioned lack of accountability and review process.

Moreover, to suggest the organization did not believe Vance to be a Christian is disingenuous at best and, at worst, a lie. Vance has referred to his elders on his website which, by definition, means he is a member of a church with elders and thus should be a presumed believer. If Ligonier had any doubt, they should have just emailed and asked him: “Are you a Christian?” before filing suit. Regardless of Vance’s eternal state, the mere filing of a lawsuit by a Christian ministry is a serious matter, and RC Sproul, Tim Dick, and senior management (John Duncan) should have considered the full range of possible ramifications, as it pertained to their stakeholders (donors and fellow Christians) before acting in such an unchristian manner.

Code of honor -- integrityAnother serious failure that must be placed at all the leadership’s feet is the lack of a dismissal of the lawsuit while simultaneously reporting the suit was dropped via email to a select group of bloggers. Who is in charge at Ligonier – management or the lawyers? The lawyers work for Ligonier, and any senior manager could have easily picked up the phone (even in the middle of the night) and told their attorneys to draft the requisite paperwork for a dismissal and file it when the court opened the following morning. This could have and should have been initiated before releasing a statement claiming that the lawsuit had been withdrawn.

At the very least, Ligonier could have honestly stated, “We have requested our attorney to submit the appropriate paperwork; it is in process, and will be completed soon.” Instead, every member of senior management is now further suspect in light of the blatant distortions surrounding the alleged dismissal, as well as that Thursday’s maneuvering by Ligonier’s lawyers seeking a way to legally serve Vance and thereby prolong the lawsuit.

So what is the solution to the debacle at Ligonier?

To answer this question fully we need to review the chronology of the lawsuit.

  • Ligonier Ministries and Tim Dick, filed a lawsuit against Frank Vance, a professing believer in Christ and author of the Contending for the Truth website, on August 25, 2006, for alleged defamation. (Note that the suit was filed before Vance posted about Don Kistler, so the statement released by Ligonier on this subject is not related to the lawsuit.)
  • Ligonier and Tim Dick requested from the court as relief (1) monetary damages of at least $15,000 plus costs and attorney fees, and (2) an injunction to stop Vance from posting more critical comments on his website in the future (this is known as prior restraint).
  • Along with the lawsuit, Ligonier and Tim Dick filed an “emergency” motion with the court without Vance present (an “ex parte hearing”) to try to obtain an immediate temporary injunction to shut down Vance’s website. The lawyer who signed the emergency motion certified, as an officer of the court, that Vance need not be present to present his side of the story because there was no way to contact him. This, of course, was a lie.
  • Ligonier Ministries personnel repeatedly changed their stories as to the existence of and the nature of the lawsuit. Some even went so far as to deny the existence of the suit, even though it had been reported in the Orlando Sentinel (does anyone read USA Today at Ligonier?).
  • Tim Dick sent an email to a select group of bloggers after close of business on Friday, September 22, 2006, with links to two statements on a private part of the Ligonier website, statements which had been posted two days prior on September 20. Those statements, issued nearly a month after the filing of the suit, included a claim that the complaint had been “withdrawn” which, as we know now, was a blatantly false statement. However, the statements did not include any language of repentance for filing the lawsuit in the first place or for false statements made subsequently.
  • Not only had the lawsuit NOT been dismissed by September 20, 2006, but, based on a court hearing in the case file at the court, Ligonier’s lawyers were petitioning the judge about how to advance the pace of the lawsuit as late as Thursday, September 21, 2006 (the day after Ligonier’s public statements announcing that they had withdrawn the lawsuit).
  • Ligonier ultimately did withdraw their lawsuit, but not until September 27, a full week after they had posted their public statements stating that the lawsuit “had been withdrawn.”
  • Ligonier withdrew their lawsuit, but also stipulated that they did so “without prejudice,” meaning they reserved the right to sue again. Based upon an interview that Ligonier’s attorney, Daniel Brodersen, gave to the Orlando Sentinel, suing Frank Vance again does indeed appear to be their intention.

Regardless of when the lawsuit was finally withdrawn, it is clear that Ligonier management has been the source of too many conflicting accounts and outright lies about the lawsuit. This isn’t just a failure of leadership, it’s a crisis of leadership. No one else is to blame; the lawyers cannot be blamed, the junior-level employees cannot be blamed, the customer service representatives do not share the blame. It is solely the failure of the Ligonier management – including Dr. RC Sproul, Sr. – to provide Christian leadership and to conduct their actions in a biblical and Christ-honoring manner.

So what is the succinct answer to the problem at Ligonier? The leadership needs to do the honorable thing – they need to resign.

If the CEO (Tim Dick) and the General Manager (John Duncan) of a Christian parachurch ministry don’t know the Sacred Text well enough to know that Christians do not sue Christians; if the CEO and General Manager can’t inform the ministry’s lawyers (who allegedly recommended the lawsuit) that Christians do not sue Christians (Are Ligonier’s lawyers professing Christians and if not, why not? And if they are not, then why is Ligonier concerned about Frank Vance’s relationship with the Most High God?); and if the board members are not willing to hold the CEO and General Manager responsible by demanding a public apology (not an unrepentant, self-justifying apology hidden in a special link on the Ligonier website), as well as public repentance, and public contrition on behalf of the ministry; then all the leadership has but one choice: They are duty bound to do the honorable thing, and the honorable thing in this situation is resignation.

A Final Word Concerning Dr. RC Sproul

One of the definitions for honor includes “a keen sense of ethical conduct.” Not only do the machinations associated with Ligonier’s lawsuit demonstrate a complete lack of ethical conduct, the resultant obfuscation, “spin,” and morally bankrupt blame-shifting on the part of Ligonier’s management team demands these individuals do the honorable thing in this instance – resign en masse and spare Christendom any more pain and embarrassment.

However, even if all of Ligonier’s senior managers resign, including Tim Dick and John Duncan, there is still the issue of Dr. Sproul’s, as well as America’s other Reformed leaders’, silence. These men and women (Joni, do you hear this?) need to publicly repent for their poor examples of leadership and failure to hold their fellow leaders at Ligonier accountable for their gross public sin and besmirching of Christ’s visible church. If they do not, then perhaps we need to worry more about the state of their eternal souls than we do about whether these leaders were responsible for filing an unbiblical lawsuit or providing tacit approbation by their silence.

35 Comments on “Honor As A Defining Principle Of Life: What Should Ligonier Leaders Do?”

  1. Martin says:

    Since I am somewhat new to reformed circles and not a Presbyterian, I have wondered about something I keep reading about in reformed blogs. That something is a preoccupation with correct doctrine… touted as all important. And I do agree with this. But it seems to be the one thing that reformers are so proud of and Dr. Sproul is one that is quoted the most as ‘teaching’ correct doctrine in this day and time.

    What concerns me is when you have correct doctrine but your practices/actions do not match this correct doctrine, how reformers, who love correct doctrine, can ignore this? Is not living out the correct doctrine as important as knowing it?

    Is this the message reformed leaders are sending us right now?

    We are not talking about one thing here as in filing the lawsuit. We are talking about the subsequent lies, ex parte motion after the statement, without prejudice, hiring private detectives with donor money, son’s defrocking, a heathen grandson who lives in his home and Ligonier Tales in which Jr. called the benefactress of Ligonier, Mrs. Dora Hopeman, a ‘White Witch’ not once but several times. That is just one example out of Ligonier Tales that is very disconcerting. All of these things add up to one thing: RC Sproul, Sr. is NOT qualified to be an elder or a shepherd.

    The facts outweigh any other considerations except that there IS knowledge of doctrine but little practice in living it out with the Sproul organization and family.

    Correct doctrine seems to have turned into a family business gaining quite a bit of worldly wealth and many sheep are supporting that ‘business’ of ‘marketing’ correct doctrine.

    Those in the reformed movement have to will themselves blind and mute not to see this.

    So here is my question: Can we learn from RC Sproul’s teachings knowing what we know? Isn’t this somewhat like the Bill Clinton situation where those who agreed with his politics overlooked his lifestyle and argued that it did not matter when it came to knowing his job.

    Can RC Sproul, Sr. continue his ministry with credibility if there is not sincere repentence?

  2. praying and thinking says:

    Mr. Baxter, I appreciate especially your last paragraph, and the last 2 sentences of that paragraph. This is very serious.

    jensgems.blogspot.com has a new, very good posting on this, “Loving Ligonier,” emphasizing the need of love, true, Biblical love. Who maketh any of us to differ? These involved have eternal souls, and what they have done is extremely serious. True children of God repent.

    The silence, and — apparent ? — collusion of other reformed leaders, the failure to do the truth in this situation, is more concerning and disturbing than the original deeds by people at Ligonier.

    How we all need the Lord’s grace and truth.

  3. Jen says:

    Martin, I do believe you have discovered the purpose of Ministry Watchman. This blogs’ owners and authors seem to be dedicated to not only conforming orthodoxy with orthopraxy in their own everyday lives, but in ensuring that other Reformed ministries and Reformed leaders are not hypocritical in lifestyle, albeit correct in teaching doctrine. You are absolutely right to be concerned about this and I am grateful for a watchman to help hold them accountable to the visible church.

  4. Ex Lig Donor says:

    Mr. Baxter, Thank you for a superb post. It puts the whole mess in context, and the timeline, showing that the lawsuit was filed before Frank posted his article on Kistler, is very helpful for confirming that Ligonier’s latest explanation for their lawsuit is more spin.

    I also appreciate your clarifying that the ultimate responsibility lies with the Founder of Ligoner, RC Sproul, who may no longer be CEO (because he gave that position to his son-in-law Tim Dick) but is still the Chairman of the Board, with all the legal and ethical responsibilities that go along with that position.

    You may be mistaken, however, in concluding that RC Sproul has been able to avoid any accountability to the church by setting up Ligonier as an independent “ministry” with hand-picked board of director buddies and pastoring an independent church while “parking” his ordination with the PCA so he can still claim to be presbyterian. If it’s true that Sproul’s ordination is parked with the local PCA presbytery, then a member of that presbytery should be able to file a formal complaint against him that would make him subject to a church trial and discipline in that presbytery.

    I suspect that holding RC Sproul accountable is the last thing many members of the presbytery would want to do, so whoever filed the complaint would have to make sure it was drafted very carefully to avoid any loopholes in the substance of the charges. Whoever filed the complaint would also have to be careful to follow the procedural rules and deadlines of the PCA Book of Church Order. If all were done properly, it would be hard for the presbytery to avoid having to face the matter.

    If, nevertheless, the presbytery did somehow avoid addressing the merits of the complaint or improperly rule in favor of the local Christian celebrity, there would be the opportunity to appeal to General Assembly, the highest church court of the PCA. The opportunity to appeal unbiblical decisions of the local local church court to the presbytery and of the presbytery to the general assembly is a great advantage of presbyterian polity. (Our baptist brothers, by contrast, have no recourse of appeal when victimized by ecclesiastical tyranny at the local church because congregationist polity does not recognize higher church courts.)

    To return to the subject at hand, if a complaint were filed against RC Sproul in his local presbytery, I would not be surprised if he sought to avoid accountability by requesting to be removed from the presbytery. His son, RC Sproul, Jr. already provided the example of how this could be done successfully: After being defrocked based on his confession to some charges, he avoided trial on other charges by requesting to be released from the RPCGA. But if Sproul, Sr. did follow his son’s dishonorable example by requesting to leave the PCA presbytery, he would be exposing a fundamental lack of honor and integrity for the whole world to see, because he could not longer hide behind Tim Dick, John Duncan, and their attack lawyer.

    The question now is: Is there at least one honorable man in RC Sproul’s presbytery who is more concerned about the purity of the church (and don’t all new church members swear to promote this as part of their membership vows?) than about his personal popularity so that he will not shrink back from the responsibility of filing a complaint against Mr. Sproul?

  5. FVS says:

    Congratulations on finding different ways to present the same information over and over again. How about you build a bridge and get over it?

  6. Greg Gibson says:

    Martin said, “That something is a preoccupation with correct doctrine…touted as all important. And I do agree with this. But it seems to be the one thing that reformers are so proud of and Dr. Sproul is one that is quoted the most as ‘teaching’ correct doctrine in this day and time. What concerns me is when you have correct doctrine but your practices/actions do not match this correct doctrine, how reformers, who love correct doctrine, can ignore this? Is not living out the correct doctrine as important as knowing it?”

    Bullseye! You just hit the target. What we have today are too many reformed theologians who use their mental gifts to teach sound doctrine, but their lives preach the opposite because they don’t love the Lord with all their heart. Too many teachers are more devoted to their idols (money, a denomination, a theological system, or the reformed movement) than to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

    This is no surprise to those who have studied both the positive and negative fruit from the Reformation. Many of the 16th century, reformed churches over-emphasized correct doctrine at the expense of holy living. (For historical documentation see “The Reformers and Their Stepchildren” by Leonard Verduin.)

    Ministry without the filling of the Holy Spirit is mere manmade ministry full of knowledge that puffs up, unblessed and unused by God.

  7. Always Batya says:

    FVS, Because many do not know all the facts. Quite a few people have not connected the dots in the spider web Ligoneir has spun or I should say, ‘spinned’.

    We know for a fact John Piper (or one of his employees) doesn’t know all the facts because his e-mail was filled with misinformation and false witness against Frank that even I know is not true!

    And one last reason: Because Ligoneir has not withdrawn the case ‘with prejudice’. They still have that sword hanging over his head and my guess is that if the private investigators, hired with donor money, could find him, they would sue in a heartbeat. After all, they now know they have the support of most of the celebrity reformed pastors for a lawsuit because those pastors have been convinced by Ligonier that Frank is a pagan.

    How do you build a bridge when the other side is holding out for a lawsuit against you. I think Ligoneir should be the ones building the bridge…after all, they are the expositors of scripture…and paid very well for it with donor money.

  8. jimmy olsen says:

    FVS, it’s perfectly appropriate for the events of the Ligonier lawsuit to be reiterated when discussing the various issues (honor, hypocrisy, scriptural rationale, etc.)

    If you’ve read the prophetic books of the bible, Israel and it’s actions as the unfaithful chosen people of God was a common theme, but it was addressed from many different angles and by various prophets. The final call was always the same – repentance and reconciliation to the Lord.

    Repentance and reconciliation is what Watchman and others, including myself, desire see in the leadership of Ligonier Ministries.

    It’s no secret that the issues surrounding the Ligonier lawsuit is the prime focus of this blog at present. If you’d prefer not to read about it, perhaps you should find another blog to frequent.

  9. Ex Lig Donor says:

    “It’s no secret that the issues surrounding the Ligonier lawsuit is the prime focus of this blog at present. If you’d prefer not to read about it, perhaps you should find another blog to frequent.”

    I think FVS and everyone else should stick around. If the track record so far is any indication about the future, the present lull in news is just a breather before more revelations appear. It the hand of God is against Ligonier as it appears due to the leadership’s refusal to repent, he will expose more as time passes.

  10. […] and other related issues. Posted by Michael Metzler on Thursday, November 2, 2006, at 11:31 am. Print This Post | EMail This Post « previous post Pooh’s Think is powered byWordPress.       […]

  11. […] and other related issues. Posted by Michael Metzler on Thursday, November 2, 2006, at 11:31 am. Print This Post | EMail This Post « previous post Pooh’s Think is powered byWordPress.       […]

  12. […] Ministry Watchman has a new post up on the Ligionier Law Suit and other related issues. […]

  13. […] Ministry Watchman has a new post up on the Ligionier Law Suit and other related issues. […]

  14. FVS says:

    “I think FVS and everyone else should stick around.”

    Well, you need to provide something more entertaining than the same stuff re-hashed over and over again.

  15. Frank Vance says:

    I think you’ve hit directly on the problem FVS — your need to be “entertained.” Sorry to disappoint you. I’ve heard some rumblings though that there will be something new and significant coming out soon.

    In the meantime though you’ll find some Ligonier entertainment here.

  16. FVS says:

    “I’ve heard some rumblings though that there will be something new and significant coming out soon.”

    I doubt it – it will just be another variation of “How dare they sue me!!”

  17. Henry Barnes says:

    FVS, Frank’s correct about what he’s heard, and I’m the one working up the new article he’s alluded to. It’s not about the lawsuit and it doesn’t have anything to do with Frank either.

    I’m pleased to know that you’re waiting with bated breath. You’ll just have to wait patiently until my story is ready to go.

    In the meantime don’t be surprised if Frank or someone else runs another Ligonier lawsuit story or two.

    I’m sure we won’t be surprised if you mock us again for doing so. Short of Ligonier offering up genuine repentance there’s no reason this story should go away. Sorry if you don’t agree, and sorry if we can’t give you the “entertainment” you crave.

    BTW what does FVS stand for? Frank Vance S_____?

    Never mind.


  18. Mike says:

    I have real concerns about Ligonier. My home isn’t far from their headquarters. As a result, I have met and chatted with a few people in the area who used to work there. I say this to preface my comments lest someone think that my head is in the sand regarding Ligonier.

    My post concerns Frank Vance. Specifically, the accusation concerning the defrauding of SDG by Ligonier. Don Kistler is at a conference today here in Orlando, and I have a close friend there as well. He personally spoke with Don Kistler earlier today about Frank Vance’s claim and Mr. Kistler stated to my friend that he refutes Frank Vance’s claim. Mr. Kistler made it clear to my friend that what Frank Vance has claimed is false. Mr. Kistler also indicated that he had sent communication (I’m not certain of the form of communication, whether it was a letter or email, etc.) to Frank Vance denying his allegations, and that Frank Vance has indicated that he did not receive the communication. As a result, Mr. Kistler decided that he would not send additional communication.

    Fraud is a very serious allegation to make. Don Kistler has refuted Mr. Vance’s allegation. It is very important that Frank Vance now publicly confess that his allegation was false (Don Kistler has made this clear) and seek forgiveness from those he has harmed.

    Frank, please take immediate and public action on this. The accusation you have made must not be left in an “open” state. It is time for closure on this issue.


  19. Doug says:

    This is my first time to post here and I can’t help to notice that you have changed your front end web page. You use to have an email address to a Mr. Scott Worthie. In keeping with the topic of “Honor As A Defining Principle Of Life:” Is Mr. Worthie an Honorable individual or is he a psudoname for some sort of alter ego? ( I know that it is a title to a great book about truly great men.) My second question is: Why did you remove his name from your email list?

    I would also question are all of these other individuals real persons who are honorable and are these their real names or are they fictitious as well.

    Thanks, Doug

  20. Ted Haggard has just reversed his previous testimony and admitted to hiring the services of a sodomite–although he’s not yet willing to admit that he got his money’s worth.

    While Pastor Ted generally moves in somewhat of a different set of circles than the Ligonier folk, he does share one thing in common with RC Sproul; the PCA is a member denomination of the NAE, of which Ted Haggard was head until his own scandal broke. The NAE website has been down for ‘updates’ ever since.

    Unlike Ligonier, however, Haggard’s New Life Church was quick to post a statement linked to the home page of their website, which has been oft quoted by the press–indicating that Haggard had followed standard NLC procedures and stepped down until such a time as an investigating body should see fit to reinstate him.

    This sort of automatic accountability, although it was insufficient to prevent the scandal from breaking, has served to deflect criticism from the organizations that Pastor Ted formerly lead, back to the suspect himself.

    Those in lock-step defense of Ligonier’s side of the lawsuit would do well to take note, before they find their own ministries being dragged down too.

  21. Watchman says:

    Doug, due to personal family considerations Scott Worthie informed me that it would be better for him to not contribute at this time. However, in the future that may change.

    Anticipating your next question, yes, “Ministry Watchman” isn’t the name that appears on my birth certificate. Please don’t waste our time attempting to make a case for why using a pseudonym is “dishonorable,” unless that is you’re also willing to besmirch the character of various Reformed writers in history who penned their works under pseudonyms.

  22. Watchman says:

    Mike, I trust that you’re not attempting to cause confusion here, but that’s what you’re doing by posting comments that only Frank Vance can address in an article that Frank didn’t author. It appears that you’d like a response, for as you’ve just stated, “My post concerns Frank Vance.” Please post your comment where Frank is certain to see it and can respond to it.

  23. Another big differece between the Sproul and Haggard scandals: David Barton has already updated his website to delete his previously scheduled sharing of the podium with Ted Haggard at New Life Church this weekend.

  24. John Steinhausen says:

    Hey Doug, your comments here reminded me so much of some other silly allegations that I remembered recently seeing on Doug Wilson’s Blah and MoBlah that I couldn’t help but thinking that there might be a connection.

    The problem is that since you used the very anonymous “Doug” rather than a real name I have no way of knowing if you’re one of those “Doug” guys that routinely shills for Doug Wilson. It sure sounds like you’re singing a Doug Wilson tune — the melody is unmistakable.

    In case you missed it Rev. Kevin Johnson had an excellent response to your allegation that the use of pseudonyms is dishonorable.

  25. George says:

    Isn’t it ironic that this is one of the topics at the conference Don Kistler is speaking at today—

    Prostitution: Using the Gospel for Financial Gain


  26. Doug says:

    No John, if I may call you John, Douglas was what my mama named me. I don’t believe pseudo-names are dishonorable if one is writing books or newspaper articles but when we posts to the blog-o-sphere it’s nice to know that we are talking to some one who is real.

    Thanks for the clarification,
    Doug Farris

  27. Teacher says:

    Doug wrote: Is Mr. Worthie an Honorable individual or is he a psudoname for some sort of alter ego? ( I know that it is a title to a great book about truly great men.) My second question is: Why did you remove his name from your email list?>>

    What is a psudoname?

    Anyway, perhaps you have met “passerby”? He has commented here many times. His IP address is from Ligonier and he identified himself on another blog as John Duncan. Therefore, according to your logic, I must ask you: Is John Duncan an honorable man?


    The last time I checked I was real. I use a moniker because I do not want a lawsuit filed against me. Probably not very courageous…just honest.

    John S: You win a lifetime supply of Rice a Roni, that San Francisco Treat, for your astute observation that ‘Doug’ sounded like a Wilson shill. For now we know he is of the Wilson gang along with Phillips, et. al.

    Doug, how IS Jr. doing these days?

  28. Truth Seeker says:


    Can you prove this? First, you must give us your full name (your real name) and address along with phone number and the name and phone number of your pastor.

    Then, you MUST give us your alleged ‘friend’s’ name, phone number and the name of his pastor so we can verify this information with him and make sure he is in good standing with his church and under the authority of his elders. (Unless his pastor’s name is Sproul)

    Then we will ask your friend to prove this conversation actually happened. Are there witnesses? Who are they? They must also submit this same information.

    You can’t just make allegations of this sort on a blog and be considered a Christian. Someone may think you are a pagan and sue you.

  29. Michael Metzler says:

    Regarding Doug Farris: Good call John. I guess we all have distinctive tones on the internet; it takes a guy like Doug Wilson to turn Ligonier’s law suit into a righteous action and the use of an alias as a discussion stopping sin. Perhaps this was one of the reasons he called the work done here “vile.” I’ve never seen Farris show up on a web forum without stating some unfortunately non-truths, as I have documented with respect to Vision 2020, Wilson’s blog, and Reformed Catholicism, so let’s hope we get a good show here too. Farris is a Wilson apologist and Moscow local who has the support of the leadership of Christ Church.

    Michael Metzler
    “The Blog With Posting Privileges For All”

  30. Jen says:

    Doug, thanks for using your full name, but I find it quite contradictory to think that one may use a pseudonym for writing articles with pen and ink, so to speak, but not elsewhere. Why the distinction? I agree that there is a time and place for both pseudonyms and real names, but your differentiation is rather curious. For instance, what would be the difference between writing an investigative newspaper article and writing an investigative blog? Wouldn’t they both possibly need anonymity for protection of sources and of their own families? Just an example.

  31. FVS says:

    Please post your comment where Frank is certain to see it and can respond to it.

    I’m sure Frank reads all the comments on this blog. I’ll be interested to see if he responds to the comment or not. The evidence is pretty conclusive that he has borne false witness against Ligonier and Kistler in the matter of Soli Deo Gloria – time for him to show some that repentance he is demanding of others.

  32. Henry Barnes says:

    Mike, third-hand friend of a friend accounts don’t carry much credibility. Why don’t you get your friend to post something here himself about his conversation with Kistler?

    FVS, “the evidence is pretty conclusive” of nothing. What we have is “A Statement From Don Kistler” that was posted on Tim Challie’s blog and nowhere else. The only people who received it was Challies and Vance and World Mag Blog. Obviously World wasn’t impressed because they just ignored it, even though they had posted a notice on their blog about the lawsuit. Frank must have not been impressed either because he very wisely didn’t post it because of the problem of determining, 1). Was it in fact written by Don Kistler? 2). If Kistler wrote it was it written free of any duress? 3). Why did it come from Ligonier’s office when it was well known that Kistler was at home on sick leave from Ligonier because of his stroke? 4). It was also obvious that even the email that Frank received with the Kistler statement enclosed wasn’t authored by Kistler, though it came from Kistler’s email address at Ligonier (Frank pointed out his suspicions in a comment he left at Challies).

    Nothing about this FVS is “conclusive” other than the fact that there’s a great deal of conclusiveness about this whole Kistler public statement thing being very fishy.

    It’s very peculiar and suspicious that the only place that Kistler statement could be found was on Challies. We all now know what a total fool Challies made of himself by immediately posting the public statements from Tim Dick and Ligonier’s senior management. He just couldn’t wait until Monday morning to call the court, like Frank did, to find out if Ligonier had in fact withdrawn their lawsuit. No, being the good little Dick-shill that Tim Challies is he posted their statements within minutes of receiving them. He did the same with the Kistler statement too, not making any attempts at all to determine if the statement was in fact valid and not bothering to ask any of the obvious questions about it.

    Why didn’t Ligonier post it on their own web site immediately? Why did it take almost a month after they posted Tim Dick’s statement and the Ligonier Senior Management statement before they posted the Kistler statement? And when they finally did why did they back-date it to the same date as the other two were posted (September 20) ? I’d post a link to it here but I honestly have no idea how to even find it now. If you do a search on the Ligonier web site for “Kistler” you won’t be able to find his statement, and there’s no link to it, nor are there links to the other two statements either. Why the concealment? Why are they acting like they’ve got something to hide?

    We all now know that Tim Dick and John Duncan are liars and that they’ve threated their own employees and even former employees. We all know that they won’t hesitate to sue other Christians for the most petty things imaginable (“You’re not going to get away with calling me a ‘nincompoop’!”). So it’s more than plausible that they might have extracted that lame statement from Kistler under some threat of a lawsuit. Or maybe he even just caved in over some threat of being fired. Don Kistler has never before made anywhere near $90K until he was hired by Ligonier. Maybe he’s scared about losing that. If it’s true that Tim Dick did screw him out of Soli Deo Gloria and then he winds up also getting fired by Ligonier he’ll be out on the street with nothing.

    I’d like to see this “evidence” that’s so “conclusive” that you’re talking about FVS, because I haven’t seen it myself. Maybe you know about something that the rest of us haven’t been told?


  33. Doug Farris says:


    Thank you first for not calling me names. Second the distinction is I suggest is because in the publishing world where someone may use a different name,say a pen name, there imay be an editor who checks what they say with a lawyer to avoid any liable. In the Blog world one can say what ever they want and try to get away with it.
    As to folkes claim that I am some sort of Shill with full approval of my church’s leadership… What Non-truths did I come here with? Michael you think that everthing anyone says is because of you or Christ Church leadership. I won’t try to respond here with something funny or verbose.

    Your such a coward!


  34. IdeasConsequences says:

    I was a financial contributor to Ligonier for a number of years. Had the opportunity (because of my donor status to be sure) to spend time with the Sproul clan at conferences and on trips abroad. I was also personally close to several past employees in management roles with Ligonier & several members (present & past) of the BOD. I had been attracted to Ligonier by the reformed teaching of R.C. over a number of years prior to becoming a recognized donor to the ministry & prior to knowing R.C. personally, Tim & the rest of the Sproul clan. I indicate this as background, because I stopped contributing to Ligonier, ironically, because of the more personal association afforded by my donor status that revealed a personal lifestyle of the Sproul clan that could not be excused as the common frailties of the flesh. I found the attitudes, actions & motives of the entire clan to be singular in its self-interest, self-gratification & self-purpose, starting with R.C., Vesta and continuing with Tim & Sherrie Dick and their children, Kelly (& Kelly’s husband Johnny)& Ryan – all of whom draw substantial salaries from the donations to Ligonier Ministries. This salary & benefits arrangement alone speaks volumes (surely avoiding even the appearance of evil should mean something to even the most immature Christian). Early on, I did not think that R.C. knew the depth of corruption & abuse of his clan & was never able to talk with R.C privately about my concerns – but R.C. can clearly observe the financial abuse because he benefits directly & because he lives with those abusing the ministry. Sure, Tim now runs the ministry’s “business” but R.C. was directly responsible for Tim’s appointment (though likely influenced heavily by Vesta & his daughter Sherrie). R.C.’s writings have been very helpful aid to bring about a systematic understanding of God’s Word & His Sovereignty, but the “clan” and their abuse of the donations of thoughtful donors has been a poignant reminder to me to keep my eyes upon God & to follow Him, not men. Reformed theology has need of intelligent, thoughtful & throughly Christian men & women to advance the truth of Scripture, God’s sovereignty & man’s responsiblity, we do not need yet another example of the depavity of man. May we see instead from these shameful revelations – repentance, humility, contrition & a commitment by each and every member of the Sproul clan to honor God in their thoughts and actions. And to those ministries and ministers with close associations with R.C. Sproul, including St. Andrews Chapel, & frequent speakers at Ligonier conferences – if you are not part of the solution (confronting the sinner, Matt 18:15-20) then you are part of the problem. May the light shine………..

  35. […] can read more about R.C. Sproul Jr.'s defrocking here.  Perhaps this is the reason why 'rcjr' wrote this remark on Tim Challies' […]

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