Ligonier Ministries Fires Don KistlerPosted: November 30, 2006 Filed under: Ligonier Ministries, RC Sproul 105 Comments
Don Kistler Terminated Under Very Questionable Circumstances; Ligonier Keeps Soli Deo Gloria Ministries
Some of the more devout Ligonier Ministries supporters have been hoping that they would’ve heard the last of my reporting on Ligonier Ministries. Ignorance is bliss.
In a way I’d very much like to be able to stop reporting on Ligonier. It brings me no pleasure (in fact it’s downright disillusioning) to have to keep exposing the never-ending internal corruptions of a Reformed Christian ministry that had, for several years, been such a blessing to my spiritual growth.
Just when we started thinking that maybe the end of the Ligonier Ministries scandals was in sight, now there’s a new scandal. Even I didn’t believe that Ligonier Ministries would ever be foolish enough to do something this lowdown. Never underestimate the total depravity of man.
Yesterday Ligonier Ministries fired Dr. Don Kistler. On November 28 Don Kistler was informed of his immediate termination. No severance package of any kind was offered, and his health insurance has been cancelled.
The decision was made by the Ligonier Board Of Directors. RC Sproul is the Chairman of the Board. Don Kistler has for years been under the impression that he and RC Sproul are friends. Yet his friend has now kicked him to the curb. This is all that Ligonier has to say about it:
In November 2006, the Board of Directors for Ligonier Ministries voted unanimously to dissolve our employment relationship with Don Kistler, Managing Editor of Soli Deo Gloria Publications.
Ligonier Ministries continues to be committed to publishing and distributing classic Christian literature, including Puritan works.
The “official” reason, given in writing to Don for his firing, is that he was deemed to be “in competition” with his employer by having recently set up a web site promoting his teaching ministry. Don was never given any warning that his web site was a violation of Ligonier policy, or that there even was such a policy. Don was never told that he had to take the web site down, even though donkistler.org had been online for three months. He was just fired with no warning and no opportunity to correct this terrible offense.
For years Don has had a very full teaching and preaching schedule, both before and after coming to work for Ligonier two years ago. Don has averaged over forty events per year. None of it has been in conflict or “in competition” with Ligonier. When he speaks for a church or conference he leaves and returns on weekends, which in no way interferes with his Monday through Friday 9 to 5 Ligonier work schedule. Don does sell some books and tapes, but again these aren’t “in competition” with Ligonier, as Ligonier doesn’t offer those materials.
It’s clear that the “official” reason that the Ligonier Board Of Directors has given for Don’s firing is a sham. What’s the real reason? I’ve been informed that at least one actual reason for Don’s firing is that he was accused of being the source of insider leaks to Frank Vance.
Of course, I find this all very unjust because the fact of the matter is that Don Kistler hasn’t been what any reasonably minded person could consider to be a Frank Vance insider. Yes, I have contacted Don via email on several occassions, and yes Don has replied to my emails. But that hardly qualifies Don as a source. I would have appreciated it had Don ever become a source, but he was anything but cooperative.
Once it became apparent to me that Don would never be a source for me, my objective then in contacting Don was to have him confirm or deny the information provided to me by my actual insider sources. The fact of the matter is that Don has very adroitly avoided providing confirmations, but he has issued some denials. Not only has Don carefully avoided becoming one of my information sources, he’s still doing so even today after he’s already been fired! In fact just this morning he responded to one of my emails with:
“I think that if I give you the reasons, it will show that I’m the source, and I don’t want to do that. Can’t your ‘inside source’ give you that?”
Don has never been one of my sources. If anything Don Kistler has only defended Ligonier in his email replies to me, albeit in my estimation rather naively so (now that he’s been fired perhaps such undeserved loyalties will change). For his defenses Ligonier has rewarded Don by firing him. But there’s nothing new about that. Firing faithful employees is the Ligonier way.
I’m quite confident that significant additional details will be surfacing in coming days, but here’s something else that I was informed of by one of my sources yesterday. Immediately after Don Kistler’s stroke in August, Tim Dick ordered his Information Technology Manager to pull the hard drive from Don Kistler’s office computer and scan it for any incriminating information. In other words Ligonier’s “senior management” was already as of at least last August looking for an excuse to get rid of Don.
In reality Ligonier has been looking for quite some time for an excuse to give Don the ax (more details on that will be forthcoming). However Don has never done anything that Ligonier could have used as a valid justification to fire him. Then came his stroke. Don was given three weeks sick leave and told he must return to work after that or there would be no more pay. Don was ordered to remain at home by his doctor to convalesce. This was the perfect opportunity for Tim Dick to yank Don’s hard drive and probe for incriminating evidence. Don himself was unaware that this had happened, until last night when I informed him.
So what exactly did they find on Don’s computer? Porn? No. Emails to Frank Vance? No, that’s unlikely. In order to prevent that very potentiality I never emailed Don at the Ligonier office but used an alternate email address.
For some weeks it had been reported to me by a number of insider sources that there had been an intense “witch hunt” by Ligonier’s “senior management” (Tim Dick and John Duncan) to identify anyone who was leaking information to me. Don Kistler was also subjected to the witch hunt. As such I took special pains to ensure that the content of our emails could not be readily recovered by Ligonier.
However, the fact of the matter is that even if Ligonier did recover the content of our emails there was nothing in them that would have implicated Don as one of my sources. In fact our emails would have only confirmed to Ligonier that Don was not one of my sources. They would have also confirmed that the first time that I ever communicated with Don Kistler wasn’t until October 3!
It’s been reported to me by multiple people that they were threatened by Tim Dick and John Duncan that if they were ever caught communicating with me there would be serious repercussions. Don himself has also told me that he too was threatened.
Were Don Kistler’s communiques with me (instigated entirely by me, by the way), the reason that Ligonier Ministries fired Don Kistler? No, but they could have been a contributing factor. There are much more significant factors behind why Don Kistler was fired, factors which I’m not at this time at liberty to discuss, but that I’m confident will sometime soon be coming to light.
The documents on Don’s hard drive at work so drew the ire of RC Sproul and the Ligonier Board Of Directors that they wanted to find some excuse, any excuse other than the documents themselves, to get rid of Don, and those documents had likely been there for some months.
What they found were things that related directly to Ligonier’s “acquisition” of Soli Deo Gloria. Not surprisingly Ligonier won’t disclose the specifics of those documents, and they’re not about to state that what they found on the hard drive is the real reason they fired Don.
There are several men (and one in particular) who have first-hand knowledge, men who know the real story behind the “acquisition” of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries, and I’ve got something to say to those men: I’m aware that you’ve been threatened with “legal action” should you come forward to tell the truth. I can hardly blame you for your fears. One need look no further than the case of Ligonier Ministries vs. Frank Vance to see what Ligonier can and probably will do to any who expose their corruptions. But your bigger concern should be how will you stand before God and answer to the charge that you remained silent in the face of wickedness? Does not your silence make you complicit?
Don leaves Ligonier Ministries in exactly the same way that so many other faithful and devoted employees have left — tossed out like trash. However in Don’s case he sacrificed far more than just having faithfully and loyally served Ligonier for two years. Don also leaves Ligonier with Ligonier in ownership and control of his ministry, a ministry that he devoted some twenty years of his life to, Soli Deo Gloria Ministries.
In an email response to me in October, Dr. Kistler stated, “I need to be focusing on my recovery and getting back soon to my life’s work and passion, SDG.” However, as several witnesses have testified, Don’s passion was swindled away from him two years ago. With Don’s firing from Ligonier that puts the nail in the coffin for Don’s “work and passion.” I doubt that Don Kistler will ever be so naive and trusting again.
Please support Don Kistler in prayer, and support Don’s ministry. After all he’s supposedly in competition with Ligonier! In all seriousness, Don is now in dire straights financially and he really does need your support. You can send your gifts in care of:
Christ Presbyterian Church
P. O. Box 6321
Lakeland, Florida 33807
On the memo line of your check write “DKMIN” and it will be directed to Don.
(Ministry Watchman is in no way affiliated with Christ Presbyterian Church)
Doug Phillips, Vision Forum Family Man Sabotages MarriagePosted: November 27, 2006 Filed under: Doug Phillips, Ecclesiastical Tyrrany, Vision Forum 257 Comments
In a day of intense public scrutiny and criticism of nearly all things Christian, Doug Phillips may be the most influential under-the-radar Christian leader that you need to know more about. Best known for his Vision Forum catalog — a colorful collection of apparently innocuous family friendly products mailed to more than a million people each autumn — Doug Phillips uses the wealth generated by his for-profit sales, as well as donations from the public, to promote his vision on controversial issues including education (home education is the only Biblical method), birth control (wrong in all circumstances), politics (a vote for either Kerry or Bush was a sin), and the roles of husbands and wives (hyper-Patriarchy at home and at church). Doug Phillips first came to the attention of those of us at Ministry Watchman when he publicly defended his buddy, R.C. Sproul, Jr., who was defrocked after confessing to ecclesiastical tyranny and the theft and illegal use of a church denomination’s tax-ID number. Our curiosity was further piqued when we learned of Doug Phillips’ behind-the-scenes counsel of Ligonier Ministries in its unbiblical lawsuit against Christian blogger, Frank Vance. These two incidents inspired a Ministry Watchman investigation of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum. Our investigation is still ongoing (please email us with any relevant information), but it has already produced enough information for several compelling articles that you won’t want to miss. The first, an exposé of how Doug Phillips’ family practices have not matched his family preaching, begins below. — MW
Officially, not-for-profit Vision Forum Ministries exists “to encourage and equip the biblical family and to train and facilitate fathers leading their families….” Doug Phillips’ focus on fathers is not an accident; he is perhaps the most prominent leader in the Patriarchy movement, a growing trend of returning to the biblical role models for men leading their families and submissive women helping their husbands or fathers. Although the inspiration for this movement is understandable — a reaction to the all-too-common problem today of men abdicating their leadership over their families in deference to a radical feminist movement that has pervaded even the church — the danger of reaction is that it can be a pendulum that swings too far to the opposite extreme. While much of Doug Phillips’ teachings on the biblical roles of men and women seems to be sound, some of the applications of those teachings have proven to be very troubling.
Doug Phillips is a “big picture” kind of preacher; he always desires to impart a “vision” for God’s truths, but very rarely delves into the nitty-gritty of day to day application. For example, Doug Phillips promotes a vision of fathers and husbands leading family worship, but many men have difficulty translating that vision into specific action. Similarly, Doug Phillips often talks about the importance of men spending substantial time with their wives and children, but living a typical American lifestyle or having grown up in a pervasive feminist atmosphere, many men don’t even know where to begin. Some men try to lead their families the way Doug Phillips advocates, but if the first attempt doesn’t seem to “work” (and it often doesn’t) they may give up. This can be incredibly frustrating and disillusioning and lead a man who catches this Patriarchy “vision,” but doesn’t comprehend the practical details for living it out, to be swayed to the extreme of the movement. This happened in the case of one family whose marriage and lives were nearly destroyed after they joined Doug Phillips’ home church, Boerne Christian Assembly.
This family agreed to tell their story — which included their “excommunication” by Vision Forum’s Doug Phillips without biblical due process — to Ministry Watchman after working diligently, but fruitlessly, for reconciliation with Doug for nearly two years. They are coming forward to testify to what Doug Phillips has done as an appeal to the church following their public shaming and shunning as a result of his unbiblical and uncharitable “discipline.” They also hope that other families will be warned by their experience and hopefully avoid repeating it. Given the kind of abuse this family has already suffered — including Doug Phillips threatening twice to sue them — I’ve changed their names to reduce the likelihood of retaliation. Furthermore, because the story is sad, and sordid, and long, this installment will only cover their first encounter with Doug Phillips and the suspension from the Lord’s Table. Future articles will detail the unbiblical excommunication and Doug Phillips’ refusal of all attempts at reconciliation.
Submission and the Role of Women at Doug Phillips’ Boerne Christian Assembly
Jared and Mary Jackson and their children arrived at Boerne Christian Assembly with a marriage that was fairly sound, although certainly not perfect. They both agreed they had worked out their respective roles acceptably between them and were functioning well as a family. Mary believed in submission to her husband and taught other women to obey their husbands in a way that she felt was balanced and honored both God-ordained roles. Nevertheless, the Jacksons knew they had more to learn, and they report that, when they first started attending Boerne Christian Assembly, they had been asking God to reveal any and all sin in their lives and in their family. As a result, they were both excited when God used Doug Phillips to teach them many things they simply had not seen in God’s Word before. They were especially grateful for Doug Phillips’ early teaching on seeking the whole counsel of God, using ALL of Scripture to define and direct life, and not trying to use one “pet” verse as proof for what you want to do.
One of these areas that was new to the Jacksons was the teaching on distinctives of the husband’s role in marriage. Doug Phillips was very dedicated to expounding on the roles of men and women, as it related to patriarchy. A common theme of his teaching in this area was that the wimpiness of men and assertiveness of women in the feminist movement are both abominations in God’s sight. Much of the preaching and teaching on men’s and women’s roles may have been biblically accurate at the big picture, macro level, but the lack of proper real life application led to a perversion of the teaching being lived out in the lives of this family and, from all reports, the lives of other families as well.
An example of this is the Bible’s teaching on women speaking at church. In I Corinthians, the Bible says that women are to be silent in church. The historic understanding has been that this restriction refers to speaking as part of the worship service, but hyper-Patriarchy as practiced at Boerne Christian Assembly when the Jacksons were members prohibits women even to introduce guests during the announcement period. Naturally, such wooden literalism causes some awkward situations. For example, when Mary’s father came to visit while Jared was away on business, Mary couldn’t introduce him to others at church. Because Mary’s father was wearing a kilt, one of the deacons took it upon himself to introduce the man as one of the Scottish Covenanters, not realizing he actually was an agnostic who came just to be with his daughter.
In the interest of keeping literally silent at all times in church, women are also not permitted to share prayer requests at Boerne Christian Assembly. If a woman’s husband or father is not present, or she doesn’t have one, a son of any age may speak or a woman can write her request down and give it to a man to read, who sometimes misunderstands and departs from the original intent. Reportedly, such misunderstandings, sometimes embarassing, led some women to avoid sharing prayer requests at all rather than feeling humiliated or having their heartfelt prayer request possibly distorted.
Another example of keeping women within Doug Phillips’ exceptionally narrow version of biblically defined roles is when the Lord’s Supper is served at Boerne Christian Assembly. It is the father’s responsibility to go up front and get enough to serve his whole family, which works well when the father is present. For the unaccompanied woman, however, she may have her young son serve her, even if he himself isn’t old enough to take communion, or she may have another man in the congregation serve her. This demeaning approach toward women, resulting from legalistic interpretations of Scripture, is another consequence of Doug Phillips’ extreme Patriarchy vision and teaching.
On one occasion when the ladies were having some difficulties in their weekly Sunday afternoon ladies’ meetings, Doug Phillips held a meeting after the service for all the covenanting men and women of Boerne Christian Assembly in order for the men to “solve” the ladies’ meetings’ problems. As you may have already guessed, the women were not allowed to speak during this particular meeting — even though it was about them — and they had to reverently sit next to their husbands as their husbands and the other men of the assembly discussed them as though they were not even in the room. On this occasion, when Doug Phillips saw Mary write a note to Jared to clarify the issues for her husband, Doug Phillips severely chastised Jared for permitting Mary’s note. Doug Phillips’ arrogance was such that he thought he could solve all the ladies’ problems by just having the men “lead” with no input from the women. This attitude of the men always knowing what’s best and the women always being submissive to the point of having no opinion is pervasive at Boerne Christian Assembly.
Each Sunday, during the weekly ladies’ meetings, the women are supposed to sign up to bring meals to those who needed them that week. Since most women aren’t allowed to sign up without asking their husband’s permission first, this was often a futile task, resulting in the women running to ask their husbands after the meeting each week if they could take a meal to sister so-and-so. I think you can begin to see from such examples how valued women are at Boerne Christian Assembly.
In the personal homes of some of the members, it was no different. In an effort to follow Doug Phillips’ teaching faithfully, some men started dictating how their wives would spend every minute of their day or ordering them what food to fix for each meal. Doug Phillips’ wife, Beall, carries her cell phone around with her at home in case Doug Phillips calls from the next room and wants a cup of coffee. Although she is often invited to visit other congregation wives in their homes, she turns down nearly all such invitations because she is not sure if her husband might need her for something. Or if one were to ask any of the single young ladies at Boerne Christian Assembly what they do with their time, their answer will always be the same, “I serve my father.” This degree of literally single-minded personal service of daughters to their fathers is taught at Boerne Christian Assembly as practice for such service to future husbands.
Seeds of Sabotage
Given the pervasive nature of this extreme and misogynist form of Patriarchy practiced at Boerne Christian Assembly, it was natural that the Jackson family would be harmed by it. As Jared received a steady diet of Doug Phillips’ version of patriarchal preaching and as he saw the models of its application by other men at Boerne, he became more and more prone to fits of anger, emotional abuse, and even threats of divorce directed at Mary, who never seemed to be submissive enough. Mary became discouraged by Jared’s behavior, and she approached Beall Phillips on three occasions to ask her advice in how to be a godly, submissive wife to such an angry husband. Beall initially seemed sympathetic and offered the typical advice about a gentle answer turning away wrath and that husbands can be won without a word. Although Mary continued to labor diligently to sustain a gentle and quiet spirit at home, things only got worse.
The breaking point was reached one day in the Jackson home when Jared, who had retired from the military, announced that he was leaving the family the next day to take a new job in another state. Having done all she could to solve matters privately with her husband to no avail, Mary prayerfully approached Doug Phillips at church that Sunday to ask for his help. This was the first occasion they had ever spoken, except in passing, so Mary was taken aback when the first thing Doug Phillips asked her was if she had a gentle and quiet spirit and was fulfilling all of I Peter 3 in her behavior and attitude toward her husband. She assured him that she was doing so in every way she knew how to, so Doug Phillips ran after her husband, as he saw him getting into his car to leave.
Catching up with Jared, Doug Phillips proceeded to ask him if Mary was a nag and a dripping faucet. Doug Phillips then suggested that Mary must be “churlish, disrespectful, unsubmissive, and rebellious,” even though he barely knew her. Although he should have seen that Jared was exhibiting anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness toward Mary, Doug Phillips suggested to him that maybe she hadn’t fully repented from her past sins. Up to this point and afterwards, Doug Phillips never once confronted Jared about his own, very visible angry behavior nor his intentions to abandon his family. Instead of helping to resolve the Jacksons’ marital problems, Doug Phillips used the occasion of Mary’s appeal for help to fuel the fire by planting seeds in Jared’s mind of charges against Mary.
Today looking back, the Jacksons agree that the charges made by Doug Phillips had not been problems in their marriage before joining Boerne Christian Assembly, but Jared seized on the charges anyway because he had been looking for a good excuse to justify his own sin. Doug Phillips then persuaded Jared to stay for a few more days so Doug could help the Jacksons work things out. Although this occurred in the early years of both Boerne Christian Assembly and Vision Forum — long before Doug Phillips was as busy as he is now — he still did not make time to meet with the Jackson family for six more weeks, even though he knew full well that abandonment and divorce were imminent.
“Jezebel” at the Kangaroo Court
Unaware of the substance of Jared’s conversation with Doug Phillips, and hopeful that help might at last be at hand, Mary went eagerly to the Jacksons’ first meeting with Doug and Beall Phillips. One other elder and his wife and one deacon were there also, but mostly as figureheads; Doug Phillips ran the show, or as it turned out, “the Kangaroo Court.” Although Doug Phillips permitted the others with him to each say something at the beginning, the focus of the meeting was on the list of questions he proceeded to ask and on what he said. Even though Jared was demonstrably angry to all present (something he readily admits in shame today), and often yelled at and about Mary throughout the meeting, Doug Phillips barely paid any attention to Jared’s less-than-Christlike behavior, choosing instead to focus on a number of questions concerning sins Mary had committed thirteen years earlier, before her salvation, and for which she had repented twelve years earlier. Doug Phillips seemed very interested in the sinful details and kept stressing that Mary hadn’t repented and that the Jacksons’ marital problems stemmed from her sins.
Beall Phillips supported her husband by pronouncing that Mary had been “disrespectful and unsubmissive” the three occasions Mary had approached her for help. Even though he had only met her once briefly when Mary pleaded for help in her marriage, Doug Phillips called her “churlish, a whore, a Jezebel, and wicked.” As if his less-than-honorable behavior was not enough (as typified by this instance of calling an older woman such disrespectful and demeaning names), Doug Phillips then pulled out a fully prepared written statement. Acting as the prosecutor, judge, and jury, Doug Phillips had already determined Mary’s guilt and subsequent discipline. Not knowing anything personally about her, and not bothering to find out, she was presented with a “Guidelines for Accountability” paper that said the following:
Mary may not:
- Ever question, contradict, criticize, correct or end-run any communication or decision by Jared to Jared or to anyone else.
- Speak ill of her husband or family matters to third parties.
- Speak critically of Jared to the children.
- Agree to submit to the guidelines for accountability of the leadership of the local church with a full heart as unto the Lord, recognizing their goal is to facilitate obedience to the Lord and help rescue a marriage.
- Demonstrate genuine reverence and submission to her husband in all things as unto the Lord.
- Examine herself for unconfessed, or inadequately confessed, sins against her husband from any time during their marriage.
- Not take communion until love is once again restored in the family, or on an individual basis, until the spirit and letter of the above is followed, and deemed such by the leadership of the local church. (Minor excommunication)
- Forgive and love one another.
In the case of violations of the “may not” guidelines listed above, Mary will be willing to submit to reasonable accountability reporting guidelines to be determined.
Jared could call Doug Phillips on his personal cell phone 24 hours a day to “tell” on his wife if she ever did anything he felt to fall in the “may not” category. But Doug Phillips never answered. Jared could call a deacon as well, which he did several times. Mary could call Beall Phillips if Jared violated any part of his agreement (which was similar to Mary’s).
To emphasize the gravity of Doug Phillips’ violation of Mary’s due process, all of the accountability guidelines were in writing before the meeting, despite the fact that Doug Phillips knew next to nothing about Mary. In what was apparently an expedient “quick fix” for the overly committed Doug Phillips, he decided ahead of time not only what the issues were but also what the outcome of the meeting would be. During that meeting, Mary was accused of unrepentance for sins which she had committed over thirteen years earlier, before her confession of faith in Christ, and from which she had fully repented the following year. Mary was accused and unjustly convicted of being disrespectful and unsubmissive, even though none of the people present knew her, nor could any of those present testify to even one specific example of her alleged disrespectful or unsubmissive behavior.
Doug Phillips also said that Mary had lied to him three times. The first “lie” was that she said that no one was holding her husband accountable (no one was); the second “lie” was that the other elder was not counseling her (he was counseling her husband, but not Mary). Mary can no longer remember the third “lie” that she was accused of by Doug Phillips, but she does clearly remember calling her a liar, even though she had told him the truth at all times. Doug and Beall Phillips specifically called Mary “wicked, rebellious, and churlish” (because she asked Doug Phillips for help in keeping her marriage from divorce), and “a whore,” and “a Jezebel.”
The outcome of the Kangaroo Court was that Mary and her husband were to be banned from communion indefinitely and Beall Phillips was assigned to help Mary with her marital problems by being available when Mary needed to tattle on her husband. Not allowing her children to tattle on one another, Mary never felt it was right to do so with her husband either, so she never called Beall. Furthermore, Mary was keenly aware that, in all likelihood, anything that she took to Beall as a complaint against her husband would just be used as evidence against Mary that she was an unsubmissive and churlish wife. Mary was in a no-win position. Mary reports that Beall Phillips never once spoke to her about her marriage for the next two years, never asked her how things were going, and never even asked why Mary hadn’t called her about anything yet.
The High Price of Hyper-Patriarchy
Jared and Mary Jackson came to Boerne Christian Assembly with a marriage that wasn’t perfect, but it also wasn’t on the verge of divorce either. What they really needed was some loving and biblically-based pastoral help, but instead they had a “one size fits all” legalistic Patriarchy worldview forced upon them. This can be quite harmful to families where the man tends toward being abusive already. There is no denying that some men will use the Patriarchy movement’s teaching to justify their own anger, personal pride, and personal insecurity as a launching pad for further spousal abuse. That being so, it was particularly damaging to the Jacksons for Doug Phillips to turn a blind eye to these tendencies in Jared and deliberately refuse to confront him for his dishonorable behavior and failure to be a true servant-leader.
In Doug Phillips’ legalistic framework, if Jared was angry at his wife, the problem wasn’t Jared’s unloving spirit. No, Mary must have done something to provoke Jared’s anger — even if that something had been repented of 12 years previously. Is this how a real pastor shepherds his flock? Or is this a mark of a cult? The end result is that rather than helping this couple, Doug Phillips, known for his family values and family-centered teachings, effectively sabotaged their marriage. It’s only by the grace of God that the Jacksons are still married today. They’ve had major family struggles in putting the pieces back together again.
One of the lessons of this story is that hyper-Patriarchy is no less extreme and unbiblical than radical feminism and wimpy men. We should also realize that true shepherds will protect their flocks from both extremes rather than choose one to escape the other. We can be assured that God does call Christian leaders to account for their behavior as leaders or, as demonstrated in this case, Doug Phillips’ lack of a shepherd’s heart and apparently misogynist view of women as indicated by his inaction with Jared and his dishonorable actions against Mary.
May Doug Phillips repent of his sins against the Jacksons and the shame those sins have brought on the church. And may he redirect Vision Forum to teach a more accurate and complete view of the Biblical roles of men and women. Meanwhile, as the next installment of this story reveals, the plight of the Jacksons gets worse before it gets better.
Doug Wilson Church SplitterPosted: November 22, 2006 Filed under: CREC, Doug Wilson 19 Comments
Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches member Church Of The King in Santa Cruz, California has bailed out of the CREC.
COTK posted a revised version of an earlier announcement, apparently out of diplomatic concerns for it’s relations with other CREC member churches and ministers. But one of the problems with the internet is that once you post something it can sometimes be hard to take it back.
An original copy of the COTK Elders’ letter can be found here: For The Record: Our Withdrawal From The CREC
Doug Wilson’s popish behavior is entirely responsible for the departure of Pastor Andrew Sandlin’s church from the CREC. Wilson meddled and interfered in the internal affairs of Sandlin’s church. Wilson’s duplicitous and divisive behavior is reprehensible. Could it get any more despicable than for a Moderator to interpose himself in local church matters and actively encourage a church split?
Doug Wilson’s motives, as articulated in the COTK Elders’ letter, are clear — his theological disagreements with Andrew Sandlin. To think that Doug Wilson would meddle and effectively sabotage Andrew Sandlin’s church over their differences of opinion on Federal Vision and other doctrines only proves what Doug Wilson is made of:
“At one point Rev. Wilson communicated to us that the main issue of this entire dispute was his personal differences with one of our elders, P. Andrew Sandlin. Though Revs. Sandlin and Wilson do maintain certain theological disagreements, these disagreements were tangent to the actual church issues under consideration. Nevertheless, when Rev. Sandlin offered to meet Rev. Wilson privately to address any differences these highly visible men might have, Rev. Wilson declined to take him up on the offer.”
The CREC Constitution gives Wilson, as the Moderator of Anselm Presbytery (why they call it a “Presbytery” when it’s obvious that the CREC isn’t Presbyterian at all is unclear) no authority to interpose himself in a local church dispute. Yet he did so anyway, uninvited and unwelcomed. As the COTK elders state:
“By these actions it has now become apparent that the CREC, in conflict with its constitution, has become functionally Episcopal, coalescing around Rev. Wilson as the sole denominational bishop vested with sweeping judicial and prelatical authority.”
Not that I’m in any way surprised that Doug Wilson has broken his vows to obey the CREC’s Constitution. In fact vow breaking is entirely consistent with how Wilson operates, and he’s very comfortable welcoming into the ranks of the CREC fellow vow breaking ministers who play fast and loose with the rules, including even the defrocked. Witness RC Sproul Jr.
Men of Doug Wilson’s ilk when given any authority at all will always attempt to seize more authority, whether their constitution that they have sworn to obey grants them that authority or not. The inevitable result is a church split:
“As it stands now, Rev. Wilson has determined to start a congregation from a church split, a split that his actions repeatedly encouraged. The Anselm presbytery has at this late date retroactively sanctioned his injurious actions. This is the same split-group congregation that Rev. Wilson has all along insisted we agree with him in recognizing, and he has finally gotten his way in starting it as a CREC church. The end was visible from the beginning.”
Doug Wilson is an autonomist who plays by his own set of rules. He was instrumental in forming the CREC and drafting its constitution, a constitution which he feels no sense of obligation to obey himself. This is the very definition of a tyrant — a man who seeks to hold everyone else accountable but who for all practical purposes is accountable to no one but himself.
Doug Wilson is first and foremost a very crafty politician and so he sets up a church infrastructure which, to the untrained eye, gives the appearance of officialdom and accountability. In reality however the accountability infrastructure is a sham that a crafty guy like Doug Wilson can easily avoid at every turn. Sadly for Rev. Sandlin and Church Of The King they found that out too late that they’d been hoodwinked:
“We cannot remain in an organization that acts so radically at variance with its own constituting documents. Ironically, the CREC constitution provides for expulsion of a member church on the grounds of dishonest theological subscription, but there seems to be no constitutional recourse when the CREC leadership is guilty of dishonest subscription to its own constitution.”
I want to personally wish all the members of Church Of The King a joyous Thanksgiving. It’s no doubt been a difficult year for you. But you now have much to be grateful for. You’ve separated yourselves from a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
RC Sproul Makes Saint Andrews Chapel Pay For Tim Dick’s Folly?Posted: November 14, 2006 Filed under: Ligonier Ministries, RC Sproul 93 Comments
Frank Vance received some emails recently from several Saint Andrews Chapel members asking for some assistance with their concerns over church financial issues. Since I’ve got some expertise in church and ministry finances Frank turned it over to me to investigate. My investigation is probably far from over. However, I thought it worthwhile to post what I’ve uncovered so far while waiting for insiders to contact me with additional information.
Many people know that R.C. Sproul is the founder of Ligonier Ministries. However, what a lot of people are unaware of is that R.C. Sproul is also the Pastor of Saint Andrews Chapel. His official title is “Minister of Preaching and Teaching.”
The Session of Elders of Saint Andrews Chapel recently decided, much at R.C. Sproul’s insistence, with little or no congregational input, that they would purchase some land from Ligonier Ministries.
R.C. Sproul is joined in the leadership of Saint Andrews Chapel by a Session of Elders. However, from all appearances the role of the Elders is largely symbolic rather than to exercise genuine authority. They have little say in (other than to agree with), and no real veto over, the actions and decisions of R.C. Sproul. They owe their positions entirely to Sproul and are his yes-men.
R.C. reportedly hand picks and then ordains the St. Andrews elders himself. The elders are not ordained in the PCA in which Sproul “parks his ordination,” or into any other denomination. Sproul’s elders are in no way accountable to other elders outside the congregation. They are only accountable to Sproul and from all appearances Sproul is in no practical way accountable to them. The lack of genuine authority of the office of Elder at Saint Andrews Chapel, in the way of accountability, is evident by the fact that nowhere on Saint Andrews Chapel web site are the Elders (or the Deacons) even mentioned. However, the office staff is listed.
It is this Session, dependent entirely on R.C. Sproul for its existence, that recently announced its intentions to purchase an expensive parcel of land from Ligonier Ministries. Sproul’s plan is to build a new church building on the land to replace the existing church. The land purchase will mean that the church will be co-located at the new Ligonier Ministries / Sproul Bible College campus (that’s another financial quagmire story that I’ll have to save for another time).
Sources tell me that there are many in the church who are deeply troubled over the ramifications of this, not to mention the serious conflicts of interest. Some are concerned that this gives the appearance that Saint Andrews Chapel might soon be a subsidiary of Ligonier Ministries. Then there are those who have said that this will only make obvious what many have known for years — that it goes well beyond mere appearances — that Saint Andrews Chapel already is a de facto subsidiary of Ligonier Ministries.
Just one of many examples to substantiate that is the fact that church members cannot obtain sermon tapes from the church. They have to order them, and pay for them, from Ligonier Ministries. Always looking for a new revenue stream the opportunistic Ligonier CEO Tim Dick (son-in-law to R.C. Sproul) controls the entire process. Tim Dick has stated that all of Sproul’s talks and sermons are the property of Ligonier Ministries, including the ones he gives at Saint Andrews Chapel, and this in spite of the fact that Sproul receives a very generous salary (sources indicate well over $100,000) from Saint Andrews Chapel for doing little more than preaching a sermon on Sundays. Rather than conducting himself as a minister of the Gospel, Sproul demands to be treated as a celebrity who “owns the rights” to everything he utters, even if he’s already receiving a very generous salary to utter it.
The land which Sproul intends to sell Saint Andrews Chapel is located on the 32 acre “mansion” property that Ligonier president Tim Dick purchased in 2005 for $8 million. Some have referred to the mansion purchase as “Tim’s Folly.” Almost immediately after the purchase of Tim’s Folly a dozen Ligonier employees were let go due to “cash flow problems.” Squandering that kind of money will do that. Most of those employees had been long-term with Ligonier, some for as long as thirty years. Tim Dick served as the stonyhearted hatchet man while R.C. Sproul remained in his gated-community manor, not even making an appearance to wish his faithful employees goodbye.
The exact purchase price of the “mansion” is unknown. Some of the details are still sketchy. This remains one of the more troubling aspects about how Ligonier is run — sketchy financial details, and it appears to be a problem with Saint Andrews Chapel as well. R.C. Sproul is apparently quite adverse to all forms of accountability, and so no one should expect to find financial transparency within the offices of any organization that he rules. However, even without transparency, what we can readily ascertain about Sproul’s methods and agenda is more than troubling enough.
R.C. Sproul is beating the drum with Saint Andrews Chapel members to pony up some $2 million to hand over to Ligonier Ministries in exchange for an eight acre parcel of land on the Ligoner Ministries/Sproul Bible College campus. This would be a very good deal for Ligonier which has been experiencing cash flow problems and desperately needs the $2 million, but not everyone agrees that this is such a good deal for Saint Andrews Chapel. Considering Saint Andrews Chapel will only receive a small portion of the $8 million property, and just the use of Ligonier’s parking lot on Sundays, and no use of the mansion, it doesn’t appear to be a very equitable arrangement.
However, that financial burden doesn’t just end with a $2 million land purchase from Ligonier. The total building project budget is estimated to run $12 million. Many at Saint Andrews Chapel are questioning the fiscal prudence of such a lavish building project when something more modest could easily suit the needs of the church. Many view it as little more than the attempts of one man to gratify his image of being the successful pastor, and what Sproul himself has communicated regarding the building project only confirms those beliefs.
One of the greatest concerns of the Saint Andrews congregation is for how R.C.’s health is likely to affect the long-term viability of the church. Many are aware that the biggest reason that people attend Saint Andrews and tithe there is because Sproul is the head pastor. Sproul is a celebrity draw and the proof of that is what happens when Sproul isn’t in his own pulpit — attendance at Saint Andrews is always down — way down. When Sproul passes on it’s a foregone conclusion that church membership and attendance will decline, perhaps dramatically. Then the church would be saddled with a huge financial debt burden that, with an ever decreasing membership, they may not be able to pay off.
Sproul himself is concerned for his own health, which in a very odd way is actually a significant contributing factor in why he’s pushing for a new church facility, as well as why he’s very intent on Saint Andrews Chapel being co-located on the new Ligonier campus. What Sproul has conveyed is that he wants to keep Saint Andrews Chapel “in the family.” Moreover, Sproul has also expressed that one of his highest priorities is to “leave a legacy.” Apparently his idea of a legacy is an impressive campus with his name all over it. He knows he may not be around much longer so he’s in a big hurry to get it done.
It’s been pointed out that R.C. Sproul has already left a great legacy, in the form of his books and teachings. However, a legacy that satisfies the demands of Sproul must include the expenditure of many millions of dollars on impressive edifices built to glorify his memory (the $12 million for the new church facility comprises just a small fraction of the overall costs of the new campus).
Some have alleged that Ligonier Ministries isn’t a ministry at all, but a business, and since businesses aren’t expressly prohibited in Scripture from suing Christians, it was perfectly fine for Ligonier Incorporated to sue Frank Vance. Maybe they’re right. Maybe Ligonier is indeed nothing but a business, and apparently Saint Andrews Chapel is just a part of Sproul’s business plan, and his legacy. But if Ligonier really is just a business, and a multimillion dollar one at that, on what basis do they have a right to come to Christians asking for donations?
R.C. Sproul professes to be a Presbyterian. Yet many are unaware that R.C. is a Presbyterian in name only. Sproul “parks his ordination” in the PCA, yet the church that he pastors is an independent nondenominational church, and from all accounts Sproul has dissuaded his church from entering the PCA or any other Presbyterian denomination. Sproul’s Ligonier Ministries is an independent non-affiliated parachurch ministry, not accountable to any Presbyterian denomination. In PCA vernacular, “Sproul is ministering out of bounds.”
Reports about Sproul’s method of governing his church don’t portray him as a good accountable Presbyterian at all, but rather an autocrat. Sproul is used to getting what he wants, and what he really wants right now is a lavish new church facility co-located with his planned Sproul Bible College legacy. The decision to purchase the land was initiated entirely by Sproul and then foisted off on his Session, who in turn are foisting it off on the congregation. Not very Presbyterian. Ordinarily a Presbyterian minister operates under a process of advise and consent, particularly where the decision involves a significant financial burden that will be borne entirely by the congregation. But in this case the Saint Andrews congregation is being given no real say in the matter. All that matters is that R.C. Sproul wants it, and what Sproul wants Sproul usually gets.
I mentioned earlier the problem with a lack of financial transparency at Saint Andrews Chapel. I’ve personally experienced a taste of that myself. At the request of a Saint Andrews Chapel member I contacted the Saint Andrews office and asked for a copy of their financial statement. The member informed me that they didn’t want to have to ask for it themselves because, “There’s a witch hunt going on here already. If I start asking for financial records I’m sure it’ll get back to R.C., and then I’ll get confronted by him over it. He suspects everybody now because of all the problems over the Ligonier lawsuit scandal.”
I find it completely contrary to what I’d consider to be healthy church life to hear of church members who are afraid of their own pastor, but apparently R.C. Sproul is used to getting what he wants through intimidation. We’ve been hearing about witch hunts at Ligonier Ministries, but maybe our impressions that they’re being instigated and carried out by Tim Dick and John Duncan aren’t the full story. It’s not unlikely that the Ligonier witch hunts have been entirely instigated by R.C. Sproul, and Dick and Duncan are merely Sproul’s henchmen. Sproul has been accused by several of personally instigating witch hunts right within his church so it’s not implausible that he’s also responsible for the Ligonier witch hunts. At the very least Dick and Duncan may just be following the example Sproul appears to have set for them.
I don’t know R.C. Sproul, and besides which I’m not one to be easily intimidated anyway, so I sent an email to the Saint Andrews office to see what would happen:
Sent: Wednesday, November 08, 2006 12:53 PM
To: Saint Andrew’s Chapel
Subject: Contact Us Form
Name: Henry Barnes
I was recently asked a financial question about Saint Andrews Chapel. I’m not a member of your church. However, I’d like to be able to review your church’s financial report. Would you be able to email that to me?
from: Saint Andrew’s Chapel “email@example.com”
to: Henry Barnes
date: Nov 8, 2006 2:53 PM
subject: RE: Saint Andrews Financial Statement
We’re glad to provide this information to our members who would like to stop in to our office and review the financial information. If you were asked this question by one of our members, we’d be happy to review this with them.
Saint Andrew’s Chapel Staff
Thanks for your prompt reply. However, the person who inquired isn’t capable of interpreting financial statements, any more so than would most people be. That’s why they asked me to obtain a copy and review it for them and give them a critique of their church’s stewardship. They’re especially concerned now that Dr. Sproul has announced his intentions to have Saint Andrews purchase land from Ligonier Ministries to build a new church building. It would seem that there are some members who have concerns over various conflicts of interest and that it might not be such a good deal for Saint Andrews. I can understand why you might not want to release the church’s financial report to me, especially if there’s something to hide. If the member himself came to the church office and asked for a copy of the financial report would you give it to them, or are they only permitted to review it in the office?
Saint Andrew’s Chapel Administrator, Randy Johnson, asked me to pass along that members can review a summary income statement and balance sheet by coming to the church office. If you have further questions, please give him a call at (407) 328-1139.
I’ve had to deal with church and ministry financial hanky panky before, so I know when something doesn’t smell right. This one smells real bad.
One way a church or ministry demonstrates that they’re operating legitimately is with transparency. While I can appreciate why a church wouldn’t be eager to provide detailed financial records to a non-member, I find it troubling that they won’t even do so with a member. Lisa is attempting to portray a spirit of cooperation, but in reality she’s being used by her church management to obstruct and conceal.
Lisa’s response is making the alarms go off in my head (this isn’t to blame Lisa, she’s just following orders). What she’s saying is that while I can’t have access to the records, a member can “review” them, meaning they have to go to the church office and look at them there. Furthermore, the office staff would “be happy to review this with them.” In other words, “When you get here we’ll tell you what the numbers mean.”
Saint Andrews members can’t take copies and review them at their leisure in the comfort of their own home. They especially can’t take them and show them to their accountant to get a professional opinion on whether the information is thorough and meaningful, or perhaps just a sham printout that conceals disturbing fiscal practices. What they’ll be shown isn’t detailed information. It’s a “summary.” This is standard practice in churches and ministries that are attempting to cover up financial abuse.
This smells very bad to me, but it’s entirely consistent with the smell of Ligonier Ministries selling a portion of it’s property to Saint Andrews Chapel. It smells bad because it is bad. It’s a major conflict of interest that’s being done for one reason — to personally benefit the “legacy,” and thus the ego, of R.C. Sproul.
- Seminole County Development Order: Sproul Bible College
- Ligonier Mansion: facing north
- Ligonier Mansion: facing south
- Property Appraiser: 5481 Wayside Drive, Sanford, FL 32771
- Warranty Deed: 5481 Wayside Drive
- Satellite map: 5481 Wayside Drive
- Property Appraiser: 5555 Wayside Drive
- Satellite map: 5555 Wayside Drive
- Parcel: 30-19-30-300-032E-0000
- Parcel: 30-19-30-513-0000-0010
With Apologies To Don Kistler (But He Doesn’t Want One)Posted: November 9, 2006 Filed under: Ligonier Ministries, RC Sproul 83 Comments
In the last few weeks I’ve received a number of emails, some of them quite hostile, demanding that I issue a public apology to Tim Dick, and to Ligonier Ministries, and in particular to Don Kistler, for having alleged that Tim Dick defrauded Don Kistler in the Ligonier Ministries acquisition of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries.
It’s been alleged by several witnesses that, at best, a key reversionary clause was deliberately omitted from the contract which Dr. Kistler had been assured would be included, and at worst Tim Dick was responsible for at the last moment switching out the contract for one which didn’t include the agreed upon reversionary clause. This “discrepancy” was promptly pointed out to Tim Dick immediately after it was discovered.
There’s no dispute over the fact that the reversionary clause had been agreed to by all parties prior to the contract signing. The only point of contention is over whether there was an administrative error or a deliberate bait and switch fraud. At least one person present at the contract signing ceremony claims to have overheard Tim Dick whisper to another Ligonier employee, “He thinks the clause is in there.” Regardless, all subsequent efforts to amend the contract to include the reversionary clause have been evaded by Ligonier “senior management.”
With Don Kistler’s recent public statement disavowing the allegation that Tim Dick perpetrated a fraud, demands continue to mount for an apology from me. There’s just one problem — Don Kistler himself doesn’t want an apology, nor does he believe that he’s owed one, and he’s told me so. The fact that Don Kistler himself has told me that he doesn’t believe that I owe him an apology is significant. If Don Kistler himself doesn’t believe that I owe him an apology then why would anyone else?
I care a great deal about what Don Kistler thinks. If Don had told me, “Yes, I believe you owe me an apology” then I’d issue a public apology. I don’t care as much about what others think, and I especially don’t care what Tim Dick’s defenders think. Nevertheless, it would seem that their demands have escalated, and will continue to escalate, and so a public response at this time appears to be necessary. So here it is:
Don Kistler has stated that I don’t owe him an apology, and on that I take him at his word. Therefore I won’t be apologizing to Don Kistler.
Tim Dick and his defenders believe that I owe Tim Dick an apology. However, everything that’s transpired is entirely Tim Dick’s own fault. I won’t issue an apology to the man that caused the scandal in the first place. Furthermore I won’t apologize for standing up to a bully who picked a fight with me.
Anyone who’s taken the time to review the events knows that Tim Dick and Ligonier’s “senior management” (John Duncan) are bullies and liars. They’ve lied regularly and repeatedly, including and especially to their own financial supporters. They even lied to the judge. I will not issue apologies to bullies, liars and perjurers.
Don has expressed concerns to me that it might become problematic for him if it were known by Tim Dick that he was even talking to me. This too is very significant. Why should the founder of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries have to be fearful of Tim Dick for talking to me? Don has a vested interest in attempting to bring some closure to the discrepancy between his recently issued public statement and what several witnesses claim that he’s told them in the past, regarding the SDG acquisition by Ligonier.
But it’s not just Don who wants to bring this matter to closure. I’d like to do the same. We should both be free to work toward that end, and we shouldn’t have to go about it in secret. But with the witch-hunt climate at Ligonier overshadowing everything else it’s a little hard to accomplish that. Don’s fears are justified, and they’re confirmed by the numerous emails I’ve received from even former Ligonier employees who tell me that there’s been an active Ligonier witch hunt, headed up by Ligonier General Manager John Duncan, threatening anyone who’s even remotely suspected of speaking with me. At this point just about everyone is a suspect.
Should Don Kistler have to be fearful of Ligonier “senior management” for speaking with me? No, but he is, and the fact that he is says a great deal about the fearful working climate at Ligonier. John Duncan bears responsibility for creating fear and even some hysteria. His stories are nothing short of bizarre, including even telling callers that there are death threats against the Sprouls and Dicks. John Duncan is so caught up in his own paranoia that he’s having trouble with being able to think through rationally just how far he can reasonably push the envelope of his silly fear-mongering.
The fearful working climate at Ligonier should also tell you something about the likelihood that Don was coerced into issuing his public statement. Those who’ve been carefully following this story recognized that for themselves weeks ago. For example Hank Barnes posted this insightful comment in response to comments by “Mike” and “FVS”:
As I communicated to Don Kistler very recently not one of the original witnesses who came to me and told me that Tim Dick had defrauded Don Kistler in the Ligonier Ministries acquisition of Soli Deo Gloria Ministries has changed their story. According to them it was Don Kistler who came to them in the first place and complained that key language that Don was promised was in the final contract (the reversionary clause) in point of fact wasn’t in the contract at all.
Don was not himself present for the signing. He delegated that responsibility to his brother Rev. Dan Kistler, who was also an SDG board member. It was also Dan’s understanding that the reversionary clause was in the contract. It wasn’t. Granted, it was Dan’s (and Don’s) own fault for not carefully reviewing the actual physical contract before signing it. Bad things can happen in contract signings, some accidental and some deliberate. It’s never wise to make assumptions, especially with such significant decisions, and especially when dealing with a guy like Tim Dick. Too bad no one warned them.
I’m quite aware that Don Kistler didn’t appreciate my intervention, but as Don knows I didn’t start this fight. Tim Dick provoked the whole thing, and once Tim decided to start swinging I wasn’t about to just walk away. Tim Dick is a bully and the worst thing you can do with a bully is to back down. But especially once I started receiving such incredibly damning emails from Ligonier insiders about Tim Dick there was no way that I could just walk away. As I told Don recently,
“My intention was never to put you in a bad light, and I trust that you’d be in agreement that nothing that I’ve done to date has in any way reflected negatively on you. I want that to continue. As far as I was concerned, and as far as I’m still concerned, you were always the victim and Tim Dick was the perpetrator. But you’re far from being the only victim. Tim Dick has caused considerable damage in the lives of many people, all for the sake of pursuing his selfish ambitions. The testimonies of multiple witnesses all confirm that Tim Dick is a self-serving duplicitous man who is completely unfit to be heading up a Christian ministry of any kind.
“Yes, I recognize that you never wanted me stepping in as a whistle blower. But what you fail to acknowledge is that others did, and those others were people (witnesses) that all claim that you repeatedly came to them and complained about Tim Dick screwing you over. If you didn’t want something to be done about it you should have kept it to yourself. The same goes for your private statements that Tim Dick compelled you to issue that sham public statement — that he was standing over your shoulder watching you the whole time that you wrote it. The message that you communicated was obvious — you wrote it under duress.”
If anyone is due an apology it’s me. I’m due an apology from Tim Dick for:
- His repeated evasions of my question, “Did you or did you not defraud Don Kistler in the Soli Deo Gloria acquisition?” Tim Dick did reasonably and timely answer all my other questions. However, he repeatedly evaded the SDG question.
- After multiple evasions on August 18 I issued him a ten-day ultimatum to make things right with Don Kistler or I’d publicly expose his fraud. At no time prior or subsequent to August 18 did Tim Dick deny the allegations. Had he at any time simply said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about Frank. Your sources have got the story wrong. I didn’t do it,” then I never would have published the story.
- In an email on August 22 Tim stated, “I want to address all these issues with you Frank, but think it may be wise to wait until next week because of time constraints. I want to be thorough in my response yet have a full schedule this week so, I’ll try again next week. Unless of course, you can free yourself up to make a visit this week?”
- The only reply I received from Tim the following week (which also happened to be the last email I ever received from him) was on August 26, and it too was completely evasive of the fraud question. There was only one “issue” to be resolved, and that was the issue that Tim repeatedly evaded answering. He could have easily answered with a simple “No.”
- I declined Tim’s offer to go to Orlando, noting that nothing that I was looking for couldn’t be handled by email. The fact that Tim was so eager for me to come to Orlando, when it could have all been easily addressed via email, only increased my suspicions of him.
- I was informed on August 24 that Don Kistler had suffered a stroke on August 15. The fact that I’d been in contact with Tim Dick subsequent to August 15 regarding issues that pertained directly to Don, and the fact that Tim never mentioned anything about Don’s stroke, only elevated my suspicions. It appeared to me that Tim was acting opportunistically in Don’s absence.
- It later became only too obvious that Tim’s invitation for me to “make a visit” to Orlando was nothing but a ploy to stall for time while he was getting his lawsuit prepared.
- Tim signed the lawsuit on August 24 and it was filed with the court August 25. No doubt Tim would have been thrilled for me to make a personal appearance in Orlando so that he could have the lawsuit served on me.
- Tim failed to notify me that he’d sued me. I only found out about it later by the Orlando Sentinel.
- Tim lied to the judge by saying that there was no way to contact me, thus trying to get the judge to issue an injunction to shut down my blog through secret ex parte hearings.
- When the Orlando Sentinel exposed the lawsuit and angry calls started coming into Ligonier from their own supporters Ligonier lied and said, “There is no lawsuit. We don’t know how that story got started.”
- When I was able to get my hands on a copy of the lawsuit and publicly post it so that Ligonier could no longer get away with lying about it, they changed their story, but they only lied again by claiming that “It’s not a lawsuit, it’s an injunction” failing to acknowledge that an injunction is a form of lawsuit, and also the fact that they’d sued me for $15,000 for defamation.
- Tim Dick and John Duncan lied again when on September 20 they posted a public statement claiming that the lawsuit had been “withdrawn.” Yet on September 21 they were back in court, not to drop the case, but for another secret ex parte hearing to figure out how to move the case forward. It wasn’t until September 27 that they finally withdrew the case.
- Tim Dick lied in his September 20 public statement when he claimed that he had “refuted the accusations,” not to mention all the other lies in his statement.
- On September 29 the Orlando Sentinel ran a story in which an interview with Ligonier attorney Dan Brodersen it was acknowledged that Ligonier would likely sue me again if they could track me down.
It shows a remarkable degree of willful ignorance for anyone to think that I owe the liar Tim Dick an apology, or that I even owe Ligonier Ministries or RC Sproul an apology. RC Sproul is the one who appointed his lying son-in-law to be President/CEO/CFO. He bears full responsibility for the disastrous consequences to Ligonier.
However, I can appreciate why there are still some who legitimately feel that I owe Don Kistler an apology. It seems to me that Don Kistler himself is the best authority on that subject. Given that he’s told me that he doesn’t believe that I owe him an apology I think it best to follow that advice.
Rather than issuing a public apology I will issue, once again, a public call for the repentance of Tim Dick and John Duncan, and I call on them to prove the sincerity of their repentance by resigning their Ligonier “senior management” positions immediately. I also call on RC Sproul to repent, for by his own silence he’s demonstrated his complicity in their sins.
Accountability: Why is the Reformed Community Getting it Wrong?Posted: November 7, 2006 Filed under: Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson, Ligonier Ministries, RC Sproul, RC Sproul Jr 8 Comments
It is with a profound sadness that I find myself writing yet another piece on repentance so soon after the recent post concerning the leadership of Ligonier Ministries need for resignation and repentance. Yet, it would be exceedingly unseemly to refrain from confronting the evil residing amongst believers subscribing and adhering to Reformed theology by failing to so do.
Unlike the recent resignation of Rev. Ted Haggard, his subsequent deposing, and the personal humiliation and accountability before pastors willing to hold him accountable, his own family, and the flock he shepherded, there are far too many contemporary Reformed teaching elders and leaders caught up in sin that rivals or exceeds Rev Haggard’s.
One of the reasons this is true is based in this regrettable reality: Far too many of our contemporary Reformed elders and leaders have become Christian Celebrities and, in so doing, demand their followers subscribe to the leader’s own view of their absolutized power, thus rejecting any accountability for their actions. As the Rev. Brian Abshire noted in his article, these leaders form an emergent Christian Mafia
In addition to this rejection of accountability providing a prima facie example of imperious behavior, many of these leaders engage in a pattern of authoritarian, even totalitarian leadership; leadership that is not only high-handed, but is often times arbitrary, even to the point of ignoring God’s Word. Although unthinkable outside the Salem Witch Trials (despite one Reformed leader’s attempt to even portray the cessation of the trials as an example of godliness), some of today’s sin-laden Reformed Christian Celebrities have more in common with dictators than loving and accountable shepherds.
Why is this so? What is occurring within the minds of the Reformed leadership, which works itself out in such excesses, and why do these leaders portray a seeming inability to police their own ranks, holding one another accountable?
Perhaps the following may provide a few answers to these questions.
Playing at Orthodoxy
Believers who engage the tenants of Reformed theology do so because they understand the clear biblical dictate to renew their minds through the whole counsel of God. Moreover, these same adherents recognize God’s adamantine requirement for so doing. Yet, when leaders refuse to adhere to accountability in their own lives, they are not subscribing to a presuppositional belief in orthodoxy; rather, they are playing at orthodoxy, and give all the appearance of basing their rejection of orthodoxy in a humanistic rationale founded more on Mencken’s attitude toward the booboisie than in any demonstrably sound biblical reasoning.
Likewise, as one writer noted, there appears to be a divorcing of orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the lives of these leaders. However, if there is an obdurate resistance in the hearts and minds of these leaders to personally following the God-articulated path of orthodoxy, then there was never a marriage from which orthopraxy is suddenly divorced. Rather, in despising orthopraxy, one must initially reject orthodoxy at its most fundamental level – God’s Word. In so doing, these leaders reject accountability.
Though there may appear to be a seemingly foundational lust for power that drives the rejection of orthodoxy in these leaders’ lives, we must not dismiss man’s selfish nature as a root cause. Evident from even birth, mankind’s inherent selfishness can project itself in a number of behaviors, not the least of which is the aforementioned lust for power, a lust that must ultimately reject accountability in order to come to full fruition.
Another motivator for avoiding accountability is the coupling of the increasing recognition and awareness of personal depravity with the dread of any other human knowing of one’s sick soul. Yet, the Scriptures repeatedly admonish each believer to fear not, particularly as it relates to man. Furthermore, a true adherence to Reformed orthodoxy demands we confess our sins one to another, and this applies to leadership and laity alike. Thus, no Machiavellian machination can ever justify a leader’s refusal to submit to biblical accountability.
Freedom in Repentance
Lastly, it is important to reflect on the following truth. Dr. RC Sproul Sr, Dr. RC Sproul Jr, Mr. Tim Dick, Mr. John Duncan, Rev. Doug Wilson, Mr. Doug Phillips, Esq., and a host of other Reformed “Christian Celebrities” contradict their public teachings about important doctrines or practices by their personal behavior. This list includes those who refuse to hold the aforementioned celebrities accountable, regardless of the size of the pond in which some of these “celebrities” swim. On the other hand, Ted Haggard is now enjoying the freedom of confession, repentance, and God-ordained discipline. Unfortunately, today’s group of Reformed “celebrities” that appear so willing to engage in or provide the rationale for disciplining others outside the constraints of the Holy and Infallible Word of the Most High God, also appear to avoid any type of accountability themselves, preferring the bluster of threats or the filing of actual lawsuits against fellow believers. This increasingly persistent sinfulness is a stain on the visible church and our Reformed leaders can certainly learn from the non-Reformed example of those willing to hold Ted Haggard accountable for his egregious behavior.
May God quicken the hearts of those Christian Celebrities who currently besmirch God’s visible church, and may we all seek to lovingly hold our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus accountable, as we discipline and restore those in need, in accordance with God’s economy.