Ligonier Ministries Fires Don KistlerPosted: November 30, 2006
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)