Congratulations Ligonier Ministries!

RC Sproul, Tim Dick, and Ligonier Ministries Make the Reformation: 2006 Hall of Fame and Shame

Ligonier Ministries scam alertFreeGoodNews.com has published their second annual Hall of Financial Fame and Shame for major media ministries.

Ligonier Ministries takes number five out of six for the nation’s “top scandalous ministries.”

Needless to say I’m not surprised. RC Sproul and Tim Dick have worked hard to earn it, and Tim has fired many good Ligonier employees in order to make room for his own family members (nepotism) and improve his own standard of living.

As I’ve said many times before (and this has yet to be denied by anyone at Ligonier Ministries), the Sproul and Dick families combined Ligonier salaries are over a million dollars a year.

Congratulations on the award Ligonier Ministries! You definitely deserve it.

Ligonier Ministries nonprofit fraud and abuse

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86 Comments on “Congratulations Ligonier Ministries!”

  1. Jen says:

    “RC Sproul and Tim Dick have worked hard to earn it.”

    And Frank Vance worked very hard to let us know about their shenanigans. Thanks, Frank. Keep up the good work!

  2. Professor Truth says:

    Glad to see someone else out there has noticed this. All ministers should make their finances open knowledge. It is the donors business…even the congregations. What concerns me is that they can hide their church salaries.

  3. jimmy olsen says:

    Frank, glad to see you picked up the link in my comment and published it on the front page. This grand achievement by Ligonier is definitely worthy of headline placement.

    I would say how the mighty have fallen, but this pattern of behavior is long standing with the Sproul clan.

    I was just watching Oprah gloating about her pretty white house in Hawaii, and wondering in what possible way is she and R.C. different? The only way I can see is that she is completely open about making obscene amounts of money and R.C. hides behind the smokescreen of a non-profit.

  4. Mark Epstein says:

    It is just amazing to me how many pastors are corrupt at so many levels. All of this reminds me of Simon in Acts 8, who wanted to purchase the ability to lay hands on people (Acts 8:9-24).

    Peter recognized the corrupt state of Simon’s heart and publicly rebuked him for attempting to purchase the gift of God, telling Simon to repent. Although he asks for prayer in verse 24, it is obvious Simon’s motivation was envy of the Apostle’s signs and wonders that surpassed his sorcery – a sorcery that provided him celebrity status.

    Many of today’s Christian celebrities are much like Simon, as their motivation is a greed-based envy at a number of levels: Personal fame, money, power, privilege, etc. or, as the term has passed down ever since, simony.

    What a sad state our visible church finds itself. How sad that so many pastors are so spiritually impoverished; and how sad that so many sheep still fall for these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Mark

  5. jimc says:

    It appears that Frank Vance is on track as far as “evidence” of avarice — the motive for firing Dr. Kistler — goes.

    Soli Deo Gloria was a very blessed ministry. If Tim Dick and the Duncans don’t know God or his Gospel then the ministry and Gospel of it will also be corrupted as well as Dr. Kistler’s deserved finances. And I don’t think that they know God or His Gospel.

  6. IT’S THE TRUTH says:

    RC’s morning Christmas sermon was from Luke’s gospel. It was a Palm Sunday sermon — Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Oh, yes, he added a few remarks about its relevance to Christmas. He does not preach according to the church calendar. Could it be that he has to continue his Luke series so Ligonier can market his tapes?

    IT’S THE TRUTH!

  7. formlessandvoid says:

    “It’s the truth”: as much as I am saddened to see the descent of Ligonier, I humbly ask you to retract your speculation about the reason why Dr. Sproul continued to preach his Luke series. “Church calendar” is a tradition, not a biblical requirement. In fact, “Christmas” is not even a biblical requirement. I am not opposed to people’s celebrating Christmas, but it is not a biblical holiday. Its origin has little to do with the birth of our Savior and much to do with Catholicism’s syncretism, and a preacher is not bound to preach specifically on a topic during Christmas.

  8. Diane says:

    The title of this post got my hopes up for a split second – maybe, just maybe there had been a change and repentance, etc. The subtitle quickly dashed them but even so, I’m glad to hear something about Ligonier, even if it’s not what I’d like to hear. I was beginning to doubt my own resolve to give no extra funds to Ligonier and wonder if I’d been too hasty in forming a negative opinion. Alas, the facts remain and I can’t ignore them but I do agree with formlessandvoid and prefer to know what is, not what might be. There’s enough verifiable corruption and mismanagement at Ligonier to make the case against them that it’s unnecessary to speculate on motives for other things.

    Also, we just received information for the 2007 conference and see that Jr. is a “special guest” and is speaking at the pre-conference session. He is listed as “Assoc. Pastor at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church” – is that correct? What about Ligonier’s 2005 financials … anything been filed yet? How long does Dick have to do that?

  9. Thanks for posting my report. Maybe that’s why Timothy Dick emailed me. No threats, just an attempt from him to justify his pay and explain that the info is out of date. It is out-of-date, but it is the latest from CharityNavigator.org .

    Frank, I’ve read your comments elsewhere, and you are right that for more real info, one should also dig into the actual tax return, posted at GuideStar.org . Sometimes, these “executive compensations” are much worse when you dig into the details.

    Thanks again for linking to the article. I think most (nearly all) mainstream Christian websites are afraid to talk about it. The biggest fear is that they know they will also be judged, with their donors asking about their pay. Better to avoid all that, right? So the scandals continue… until the true reformers take a stand. For example, Hank Hanegraaff of Christian Research Institute loves to go after theology heretics, but won’t ever discuss the issues of excessive pay… because of his own issues with it. I wrote about it here:

    http://freegoodnews.blogspot.com/2005/01/greed-case-study-in-bad-cri.html

    …Bernie

  10. Lynn says:

    I agree with formlessandvoid and Diane’s comments about Sproul and the text for his sermon. The remark above reminds me somewhat of Matt Chancey’s speculations and assertions about the identity of mrsbinoculars.

  11. John Steinhausen says:

    Frank,

    There’s been some harsh words being said about you and Ministry Watchman on Fide-O. I’ve posted a couple comments there in your defense. This one in particular you’ll probably find interesting. Keep up the good work!

  12. Professor Truth says:

    What Sproul preached about is moot because he does not practice what he preaches. Why anyone would waste their time listening to him is beyond me. He has zero credibility as an expositor of the Word. He must get his own house in order to qualify as a preaching elder.

    Bernie is on to something. For one thing, my guess is that Tim Dick changed his salary line reporting due to all the bad publicity. There are other places to bury income/perks in your reporting that will also lessen taxes and look better. We will see when they release 2005. But right now, between St Andrews and Ligoneir, Sproul Sr (including Vesta) is bringing in about 400,000. Who knows if that includes royalties.

    Another thing is that not only major websites but other ministries, too, do not mention the lawsuit, salaries,etc., for the same reason. I really do believe they think compensation is no one’s business because their boards or elders approved. They are wrong. Period. If they ask for money, we have a right to know.

    The Blogosphere is changing many things and this is one of them. Has anyone ever seen so many ministers and Christian leaders who refuse to be accountable? It is very telling.

  13. Mark Epstein says:

    John,

    Outstanding comments on Fide-O. I read through the entire discussion and found your comments to be spot on. I particularly enjoyed the gentle rebuke in your statement: “…if you are one who really believes that no one except a church session or presbytery should be involved, then why are you joining the public debate on this issue by posting comments on matters that, by your own standard, are none of your business?”

    For a great article by Brannon Howse on the correct application of Matthew 18 titled, “False Arrest—Confronting the Politically Correct Matthew 18 Police,” head to this link: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/secure/cwnetwork/article.php?&ArticleID=552

    There are far too many Reformed and non-Reformed brothers and sisters who do not understand Matthew 18. Mr. Howse succinctly addresses some of the fallacius applications people invoke as “biblical.”

    Mark

  14. Tyrant Slayer says:

    John S.-

    You got em at Fide O, but this group is another example of folks that just don’t get it. Ligonier is a tax exempt entity that bears oversight in the Christian community. Watchman is a watchdog of plunderers, wolves, ecclesiastical tyrants, and other such rif raf pretending to be servant leaders. Two different animals. If you are above board, you have nothing to fear from the Watchman. But if you are a scoundrel, then watch out cause the Watchman is watching.

    TS

  15. Berean says:

    Bernie: Timothy Dick emailed me. No threats, just an attempt from him to justify his pay and explain that the info is out of date. It is out-of-date, but it is the latest from CharityNavigator.org.

    Bernie, I am glad that Tim Dick hasn’t threatened you yet. Since he is so desirous of setting the record straight, why don’t you email him back and ask him for a current list of all relatives of RC Sproul and him by marriage or blood who have received any kind of compensation from Ligonier this past year and how much each received in total (i.e. salary plus retirement plus the cost to Ligonier of health insurance, etc.). While you’re at it, why not ask for this year’s corresponding figures as well?

    Since Tim wants to be helpful to set the record straight and has nothing to hide, I’m sure he’ll supply the information immediately. Don’t you agree?

  16. ER says:

    Watchman,

    The majority of these posts are overflowing with legalism.

    There is no question that leaders in a non-profit should be good stewards and transparent with their activities, that is just common sense. But most of those commenting at your site have created their own personal criteria for financial integrity and are attempting to charge others with moral impropriety based on that arbitrary criteria.

    That is legalism in practice and it’s no less sinful or flawed than other things being discussed on this blog.

    It would be a good exercise for you to list your proposed criteria for responsible financial conduct. Such standards need a Biblical basis, they need to be grounded in sensible and reasoned familiarity with the organization in view and they need to establish, in detail, why a violation of those principles would be immoral.

    Until you allow your criteria to be scrutinized publically, you are presuming to condemn numerous professing Christians with unsubstantiated claims and expectations.

    One example of a recurring judgement in this discussion (as in Bernie’s analysis) is that no non-profit should pay it’s leadership beyond a certain salary amount, period.

    If that is the view of Ministry Watchman or those commenting here then there’s nothing to discuss.

    You have forfeited any hope of progress or influence. There will be an endless list of organizations for you to strive against, for the rest of your natural life. And when you’re done you will have affected nothing.

    I hope you will carefully consider the folly of any analysis without a baseline or a control.

    Exercising Restraint

  17. formlessandvoid says:

    ER, I think you are a great ironist. You would do well to ask these ministries that made it to Bernie’s list to exercise restraint.

    You accuse the writers and commenters here of legalism. You forgot to mention the other side of the coin, which is a particular kind of antinomianism. We typically associate the Pharisees with the former, but in many respects they were antinomians as well: they interpret Scripture with a presumptuous precision, pretending that technical conformance to the letter of Scripture is proof of righteousness. Of course, Scripture does not give precise specifications for many areas of life and leave room for individual liberty of conscience. For example, Scripture does not define “drunkenness” in terms of blood alcohol level. So how does a church determine whether someone has sinned in being drunk? Paul speaks about people who think godliness is a means of financial gain (1 Tim. 6:5), but he does not say at what level of income a minister can be judged to be greedy. So, according to your logic, since it does not violate the letter of Scripture for the leaders of Ligonier to ask donors for more contribution while at the same time (1) laying off people due to financial difficulties and (2) giving themselves big raises, we cannot really criticize them for doing so.

    Anyway, let me propose a solution. Since Ligonier does not see fit to submit itself to the oversight of a church or a presbytery, the oversight ultimately rests with donors. They should make it a policy that every fund-raising letter be accompanied by a statement reminding donors of the five most highly paid persons, and any relationship (by blood or by marriage) these have with their celebrity figure. Since donors are either too naive or too lazy, that reminder should be very helpful to them. Let them collectively judge the propriety of the compensations.

    I am not holding my breath for this to happen at Ligonier or any other big ministries.

  18. I was wondering says:

    Wow, Dobson is a man of true integrity.

  19. Mark Epstein says:

    Exercising Restraint,

    I don’t think there is any objective reader who will disagree with the principle that Ministry Watchman should use a biblical basis to conduct their investigations on behalf of the visible church. Therefore, what more is there to say? Why does Ministry Watchman need to articulate anything beyond the biblical text? The standard is simple, actually: Does an entity’s fiscal behavior meet or exceed the normative moral expectations found in the Bible?

    Ministry Watchman does not have to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, by establishing standards for judging the fiscal propriety of an organization’s managerial or monetary conduct, for the Bible is sufficient. To suggest that Ministry Watchman establish standards that “need to be grounded in sensible and reasoned familiarity with the organization in view and they need to establish, in detail, why a violation of those principles would be immoral” is the height of the very legalism you object to in your opening sentence.

    Why does there need to be a familiarity with the organization? Either the entity is conducting itself within established biblical principles or it is not. There are far too many people giving corrupt organizations a free pass because the word “ministry” appears somewhere in the title or because of the accompanying claims made by someone associated with said “ministry.”

    Furthermore, the only objective standard Ministry Watchman need use is the Bible and, therefore, the establishment of “why a violation of those principles would be immoral” becomes self-evident.

    Although I think your words were well intentioned, I do not think they were well reasoned because they added to the Bible while simultaneously accusing other writers of the very legalism you employ.

    Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

    Mark

  20. Professor Truth says:

    ER wrote: Such standards need a Biblical basis, they need to be grounded in sensible and reasoned familiarity with the organization in view and they need to establish, in detail, why a violation of those principles would be immoral. ”

    Perhaps you could show me in scripture, in detail, the Biblical basis for a ‘ministry’ to be a 501c3 AND operating outside of a church?

  21. ER says:

    formless and void,

    Your two points suggest a predisposition to finding fault with Ligonier.

    1. It is not sinful to “lay off” employees.

    2. You have discribed “raises” in the financial statements posted on Ligonier’s site, on Tim Dick for example. If you read further, you will see that Dick was promoted a couple of years ago, from a vice president position to the CEO of the organization. That is not a “raise” it is a significant promotion. Again, there is no sin in being promoted and having your salary raised.

    Your arguments seem to be that Dick’s current salary is too high and that family members should not be employed at Ligonier. Well, reread my previous suggestions and make a case for those views. Sensible readers will decide if your analysis is meaningful.

    How much salary for a non profit CEO is too much?
    What criteria should be used?
    Does anyone at this site know what the daily duties involve?
    Do his efforts command his salary? Who here is in a position to be able to judge his performance?
    Is there no circumstance under which a family member can work for a non profit along with other family?
    Do all employees at a non profit have to be christians?

    These are the kind of questions that would begin to put some context around all the speculations and might eventually lead to some resolution.

    The current methods are not creating any useful discovery.

    Several here clearly want to see Ligonier cast in the worst possible light, along with it’s leaders.

    That is a sign of desperation not christian concern.

    ER

  22. ER says:

    Mark,

    The majority of those posting at this site have concluded that the salaries of Ligonier leaders and the properties which the organization maintains are “evidence” of immoral fiscal behavior.

    What, in their activites or acquisitions, is irresponsible or immoral?

    You need to be “familiar with an organization” to determine what the expenditures, capital needs, production processes and operating expenses are.

    How else would you evaluate financial propriety? I am astonished that you would recommend a system-wide financial criticism of an organization that you are not familiar with.

    This explains why many at this site are overlooking the significant advancements Ligonier is making under Dick’s leadership. New website, new publishing imprint, new products (with serious content), international outreach, daily radio and television, armed services outreach, conference attendance climbing, music division… the list goes on.

    That doesn’t square with the hostile characterizations of Dick and his staff here.

    I’m a christian businessman looking at the testimony, the performance and the data. I don’t operate on conjecture or opinions offered from a distance.

    Tell me how anything I’ve said is “adding to the Bible” and I’ll retract it.

    ER

  23. I was wondering says:

    It may not be sinful to lay off employees in every circumstance but it is in some circumstances. The employees laid off were in some cases with the ministry for 20 + years. They were laid off shortly after the acquisition of “The Property” because Ligonier could not make payroll. This would indicate that someone in leadership failed in their duties and responsibility to the donors and employees of Ligonier. Lay offs are sometimes necessary but in this case financial responsibility would have prevented those layoffs. I have defended Ligonier from many of the charges made here which I believe are groundless but they were clearly wrong in this case and should make restoration.

  24. Justice Prima says:

    ER, it is not a sin to lay off employees. But Ligonier didn’t just lay them off- it laid them off at the same time that it purchased a mansion, raised Tim Dick’s salary to a quarter of a million dollars, and *then claimed it had to lay off employees because of financial difficulties.*

    It is a sin to lie. Ligonier representatives first lied about suing Frank, then lied about dropping the suit, and then lied about why it was dropped. These are not opinions- they are verifiable facts. During the time period they were telling people they had dropped the suit, the court papers proved that rather than dropping it, they had filed an ex parte motion requesting that the suit be *continued,* only faster. That’s not gossip. That’s all independently verified by public records and documents as well as numerous accounts by people who called and spoke to Ligonier and to the court, and the reporting the public statements, actions, and records of a public organization which relies on donor funding and tax protected status as a nonprofit organization is also not gossip.

    Ligonier isn’t a business. It’s a nonprofit ministry which is funded by donations. You seem to want to treat it as a profit making business and judge it by the same standards that would apply to a profit making business. But so long as they maintain 501C3 status, they have to be judged by standards that apply to nonprofits, and one of the key points of a nonprofit is that it is provided special tax protections not afforded to businesses because nonprofits are not supposed to be enriching the pockets of any of their employees or administrators.

    If you can’t see a problem with a nonprofit ministry asking for more donations from people making 40,000 a year while paying Sproul Sr, Mrs. Sproul, Sproul’s son-in-law, and Sproul’s grandson (who all live in the same household in a gated community) over a million dollars from ministry donations alone, then you have a moral blindspot, and I truly hope somebody else is guarding the ethical practices of your business.

    If the Sprouls wanted to run a family business, living off of the profits of their work and products rather than donations from gullible donors, that would be different. But as a 501C3 nonprofit corporation, the rules and standards are different- both legally and morally.

  25. Diane says:

    I am of the opinion that any non-profit, dependent on donor funding, should have no “secrets” of any kind. They should individually and corporately abstain from even the appearance of evil. A rightly motivated ministry would have nothing to fear from full disclosure; stating the truth is not the same as being legalistic. I work at separating the verifiable information from supposition and speculation but I appreciate knowing what is happening within ministries in order to be a good steward of what God has blessed me with. There will always be those who believe ministers, missionaries, etc. should live at or below poverty level and no amount of logical reasoning will change their mind so that’s no reason to bury the truth. Most of us have limited resources and want to use them wisely. I greatly appreciate the research and information made available at MW, though I’m still heartbroken over it. I continue to pray for a change of heart (and executive staff) at Ligonier but I cannot in good conscience continue to support it financially. Others may come to a different conclusion and are free to give as much as they like to Ligonier or any other non-profit, but we should make our decisions based on knowledge, not blind faith. If the goal of the Sprouls/Dicks/Duncans is to build an empire and live in luxury they are free to do so – but I’m equally free to opt out of helping them do so … and I have.

  26. ER,

    It is sinful to lay off employees if at the same time you either maintained or increased your salary. I would think as a Christian business man you would be the first to make financial sacrifices for the good of the employees. I know that if I had employees and things were going to be tight, I would be the first to give myself a paycut to show to my staff I am doing everything possible to keep things afloat and then rather then layoff employees, I would ask for others to follow my lead. (This is of course assuming I didn’t hire too many employees to begin with and that I didn’t waste funds. Even still, I believe leaders lead by example.)

  27. jimc says:

    Even Dr. Kistler cares more about the gospel than his own finances. His lack of self-defense but love for his ministry over himself proves what I found in his books all along; that they contain the gospel.
    But now will SDG contine to reflect the gospel? Dr. Kistler respects Dr. Sproul Sr. and so do I. But are the Dicks and Duncans as respectable as Dr. Sproul (Sr.)? Will they take God out of SDG along with taking Dr. Kistler out, out of avarice and gain-seeking? Thier actions show they don’t know the gospel they stole from Dr. Kistler and I think that Dr. Sproul Sr. has become like Eli and his sons:

    Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. And the priests’ custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:12-17)

  28. Justice Prima,

    You stated exactly what I had intended to write, but didn’t know how to say it. I think this statement says it all:

    Ligonier isn’t a business. It’s a nonprofit ministry which is funded by donations.

  29. formlessandvoid says:

    ER, the fact that you evaluate Christian ministries by for-profit business standards is very telling. “Look at our new website and new products under Mr. Dick’s leadership! Look at the expansion of business! Don’t we deserve more of our donors’ money? Oh, by the way, as donors to a nonprofit you don’t get the benefit of stock-price appreciation—you get intangibles and religious benefits. Ah, yes, tax deduction too.”

    Your response to my post just proved my point: pretending that anything that does not violate the letter of Scripture is permissible and not sinful. Sure, you are not adding to Scripture, but are you sure you are not taking away from it?

    Actually, since you wanted to do everything by business standards, what I proposed should satisfy you: just as in the marketplace the consumers and the shareholders decide whether to buy a product or a stock, so let the donors judge ministries by their giving or withholding. But give the donors the full disclosure. What we are witnessing is that ministries are profiting from donors because of their naivete; how many donors actually check out 990 forms, etc., and the workings of the ministries before they give? You might say it’s the donors’ fault for not doing due diligence. But if one of the purposes of ministry is to teach people to think and act biblically responsibly, don’t you think Dr. Sproul should at least take the lead by telling people that they need to check out the filings before they give? Surely Dr. Sproul does not want his hearers to have a reputation of being naive and lazy.

    I think you should also write him and ask him to explain the difference between Christian ministries and for-profit businesses, both in theory and in practice. As an astute Reformed theologian, he must have thought through and worked on the issues involved. Some articles or sermons from him may even be instructive for me who am much less astute, as I have many unanswered questions as well.

    Ultimately, I hope you understand that the Gospel is free, not a product to be sold; the cost has been paid for by our Lord Jesus Christ.

  30. praying and thinking says:

    ER, You wrote, “The majority of these posts are overflowing with legalism.” Is truth important to you? Truth. Do you love the truth, and want to know the truth? Have you read the many articles and comments posted since this was made public in May? Mark Epstein in his comment wrote to you, “Ministry Watchman does not have to re-invent the wheel, so to speak, by establishing standards for judging the fiscal propriety of an organization’s managerial or monetary conduct, for the Bible is sufficient.” Mark said the truth. You are requiring things that are not in Scripture, and effectively helping deeds that are against Scripture. No one will literally deny that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, asserting “where is the west? no one has really proven where the west is,” but there are people who in a morally equivalent way refuse to see clear truth and will only fight the truth. You write about the requirements you impose for a matter to be proven, but you are silent about stark facts that have been proven. Are you unaware ? that Don Kistler was lured from his home in Pennsylvania to move down to Orlando, Florida, then robbed of his life’s work (“but where is the proof?” liars can assert, when there is remarkably strong evidence and proof), then had a stroke, then was fired from his job (were the Ligonier people trying to provoke him to have a second stroke in the details of their firing him?) and is now left with nothing except the fierce glares of those who did this to him? Justice Prima wrote in a comment about the stark details of the lawsuit against Frank Vance, “verifiable facts.” Are such things relevant or important to you? If you are unaware of these and many other very strong details, you should read all the articles and comments from May until now. Are you trying to change the subject? or to divert attention away from such stark facts? Does the remarkable evidence and proof of what has been done against Don Kistler bother you? You require great familiarity with an organization before one can be allowed to disagree with what the organization does (that gives any organization the right to do whatever they want and then claim “you just don’t know all the facts, you don’t realize the intimate details to see that we were right in what we did”), and you are silent about strongly proven, openly known details of unconscienable behavior, deeds, practices. Would you similarly remonstrate the Apostle Paul with prim and proper requirements when he exposed and reproved false deeds and false men in his day? If you know these stark details so well proven already, should you change your name from Exercising Restraint to Purveying Obfuscation or Ligonier Advocate? I know that that previous sentence is not restrained. I am upset. I am genuinely concerned that people are going to hell, and advocates like you primly and properly require false requirements of any who disagree, and you help them on their way to hell. David did truly wicked things, but he repented, and he did not continue for years and decades doing those things: David’s life was not an ocean of continued, continuing, unrepented sin. Tim Dick, R. C. Sproul, Sr., on and on others there involved in these things, have attitudes and practices that are the opposite of a true child of God. A good tree produces good fruit, and there is an abundance of false, corrupt fruit in these people. Are you concerned about their eternal souls? ER, are you concerned about whether a picture frame on the wall is hanging perfectly squarely 90 degrees vertically, and missing the huge elephant sitting on the sofa near you? I’m not being cute: this is as serious as the truth of Christ, as serious as eternal life and hell. Who more than Frank Vance and M.W. has called these people to repentance? Besides the eternal souls of those who have done these things and who prove a strong disposition to continue unrepentantly to do such false, sinful deeds, are you concerned about the extremely important matter of the testimony that we profess before the world, and about the purity of the church and the good of Christ’s people? Have you wept over these matters that are worthy of tears (as a truly godly man recently wrote to me, these things are painful to read) and of earnest prayer that the Lord will have mercy and do what is needful?

  31. Justice Prima says:

    Thank-you, MW.

    Brandon, thank-you as well. The very basic facts covered in that statement seem to be completely eluding LIgonier supporters.
    I really do not know what to think of their confusion. If it is because Ligonier supporters are simply unable to understand the difference between a for-profit business and a nonprofit ministry, they are thus to be pitied.

    If it is because they simply won’t, then I suppose they merit the sort of pity given to Simon the Magus.

    We are called to be stewards, and I am trying to envision somebody before God explaining why they thought it more important to support a ‘ministry’ paying its officers quarter of a million dollar salaries and housing them in gated communities, rather than to use such funds as they have to visit the sick, to care for orphans and widows, to support missionaries living on the razor’s edge of poverty and danger, to support the elders of their local congregation, and to supply Bibles to those who do not have them.

    Can you see Paul taking in a quarter of a million dollars and using it to buy a mansion in a gated community and then asking for more donations? Do you see Peter living like this? Can you imagine Joseph of Arimethea asking his fellow believers for donations to help pay for the tomb he provided and all the associated expenses for that?

    Ligonier is, IMO, a symptom of something very wrong with American Christendom.

  32. […] Justice Prima’s comment today over at Ministry Watchman: Ligonier isn’t a business. It’s a nonprofit ministry which is funded by donations. […]

  33. […] Justice Prima’s comment today over at Ministry Watchman: Ligonier isn’t a business. It’s a nonprofit ministry which is funded by donations. […]

  34. According to the information provided by Frank Vance, ER’s post are coming from the same IP address where this comment originated from:

    Does your wife know you’ll probably end up in federal court?

    I thought from ER/T Walton’s post that it was a similar writing style as the vague accusations I received last week. This individual seems to be changing tactics. I must ask if it is a good business practice to make vague accusations.

  35. Always Batya says:

    ER wrote: I’m a christian businessman looking at the testimony, the performance and the data. I don’t operate on conjecture or opinions offered from a distance.”

    Neither do I. I operate on facts. I am a Christian business woman who has sat on many a non profit board. What I have seen from their 990’s and the way they have operated over the past year, they would get a sharp reprimand from me. Actually, I would resign rather than be involved with an organization such as Ligonier. It would be embarrassing to be associated with a non profit ministry whose ortho praxy does not match their professed orthodoxy.

    Tell me, ER. Would you, as a board member, approve of a Christian ministry using donor money to sue a blogger? Would you approve the hiring of private investigators with donor money? To what Biblical standard do these apply?

    Also, please answer the question about the Biblical standards for a ‘ministry’ 501c3 operating outside of a church.

  36. Scott Hill says:

    The sermon this Sunday at our church was preached from John 12. Why? That is where we were in the text. Would any of you like to speculate why we wouldn’t have a sermon from Luke 2?

    Would someone give my an example of what Tim Dicks and Dr. Sproul’s salaries should be and why?

    John S., I stand behind what I said at Fide-O. The article I addressed was the one that discussed St. Andrews Chapel and that is an eccelesiological matter. If St. Andrews has issues with Ligonier then they should be the ones to deal with it.

  37. ER says:

    Brandon,

    “It is sinful to lay off employees if at the same time you either maintained or increased your salary.”

    That is false, it is not sinful to do that. Your inexperience is showing in making such a statement. This is a legalistic standard you are attempting to impose on other believers.

    You and others here have not even considered the possibility that there was cause in the laying off of the various Ligonier employees last year. Though some of them had been employeed for a long time it is possible their performance had become inadequate.

    ER

  38. ER says:

    praying and thinking,

    There are so many problems in your assertions that I cannot take time from today’s work to try and correct them all. I will simply draw attention to several unfortunate comments.

    “Are you unaware that Don Kistler was lured from his home in Pennsylvania to move down to Orlando, Florida, then robbed of his life’s work…”

    Since Kistler has not claimed either of those two things, no, I am not aware of that and neither are you.

    “Does the remarkable evidence and proof of what has been done against Don Kistler bother you?”

    There is no evidence or proof of wrongdoing against Kistler. There is only the speculation of those on this blog, without any direct knowledge or access to all the details.

    This site has gone to great lengths to invalidate Kistler’s own rebuttal of these very charges.

    “were the Ligonier people trying to provoke him to have a second stroke in the details of their firing him?”

    If this is a true reflection of your estimation of the leaders at Ligonier then you (and others on this blog with similar views) have no option but to confront them face to face. If you think this group of people is capable of that kind of evil then you have a moral responsibility to act. You cannot simply watch that behavior and do nothing about it, but blog. Please review the story of the Good Samaritan.

    “…you are silent about strongly proven, openly known details of unconscienable behavior, deeds, practices.”

    I know that a variety of things have been alleged at this site (as you continue to do), claims of fraud, employee abuse, greed, avarice, malfeasance, etc. Upon reading such things several months ago I began a lengthy and in depth probe into these allegations.

    None of them are true.

    So, I am obligated to say that what has been claimed at Ministry Watchman is erroneous. I think that some things have been said out of ignorance, other things out of misinformation and also some things have been said out of malice and immaturity.

    You can decide in which category your comments belong.

    ER

  39. Frank Vance says:

    ER,

    Why don’t you just come clean and admit who you are and your close relationship to Ligonier? Aren’t you a Ligonier employee?

    Your MO is remarkably similar to John Duncan who has repeatedly shown up here under numerous aliases and made broad “None of them are true” non-responsive claims. So much for your “lengthy and in depth probe.”

    I’ve made many substantive and specific allegations against Ligonier, backed with evidence. Don’t expect to get away with dismissing them with your mere wave of the hand.

  40. ER says:

    Always Batya,

    “please answer the question about the Biblical standards for a ‘ministry’ 501c3 operating outside of a church.”

    In the New Testament there are numerous examples of people working with, around and for the common cause of the Apostles. The work they did helped to fund the various activities and travel, feed and cloth the needy and expand the reach of the Gospel. I think Ligonier, as well as other 501c3s, are modern examples of this principle.

    501c3s need boards for oversight, the leaders of these organizatons need to be members in good stranding in local churches and they need to conduct themselves Biblically. Those safeguards will insure moral fidelity, if the governing bodies are active and obedient.

    The assertion by you and others is that none of these safeguards are functioning at Ligonier. I disagree and have sought out testimony and confirmation for these very concerns.

    It is remarkable that there are so many complaints at Ministry Watchman and very few (if any) who are actually talking to and discussing concerns with the leaders they criticize.

    I know how Christ and His Apostles would have handled concerns of this type, so I did.

    ER

  41. T Walton/ER,

    So Ligonier will keep an employee like Ryan Dick, whose own words prove he should have never been hired in the first place, or at least fired immediately after his My Space and other postings were exposed (read the excellent investigative article by Jen Epstein), but I supposed to believe that all these employees that were let go for “inadequate performance”? Why should I trust Tim Dick to be an effective manager if he can’t fire his own son for his hedonistic lifestyle and other statements, yet will let veteran employees go? It seems that family members get special treatment, does this surprise anyone?

    I will leave you a quote from this upstating employee:

    in a few years when i take CEO of the family comp its a 12mill comp now and is sup to tripple in the next 3-5 years ……….So yah he makes more than me but i bet my gpa makes more and my dads pretty close………….So dont count ur cookies on that one

  42. ER says:

    Frank,

    No, I am not John Duncan, nor do I work for Ligonier. I have met Duncan on several occasions and he has nothing in common with your characterizations or claims.

    As a matter of fact, when you randomly selected him for abuse, as one of 9 Ligonier managers, you chose poorly. There are few people who conduct themselves with more charity and christian patience than he does.

    By the way, you have consistently given the wrong title to Duncan in all your posts. There is no “General Manager” at Ligonier. That shows me how remote your knowledge of your subjects are. You should do some additional “research” to clarify that error. I look forward to your correction of it, in every case where it has occurred.

    ER

  43. Mark Epstein says:

    Frank,

    Ligonier’s “senior management” are in a state of unrepentant sin, as evidenced by their actions toward you, their employees, the possible posting of their merit less and illogical posts on this site and, quite possibly, a threatening email to Brandon.

    Moreover, in their hubris, these so-called managers fail to concern themselves with traceable IP and header addressing. Hmmm, rather reminds me of the BCA/bino sites using the same domain service for their “anonymous” site registrations. And these folks expect us to believe they are above board and conducting themselves as “Christian” businessmen and brothers in Christ? I am more inclined to believe Sadam Hussein is innocent of premeditated murder!

    It’s time for Ligonier’s senior managers to drop their insistence on duplicitous arrangements; these men are leaders and, therefore, should publicly post as the “moral” men they purport to be. They should do this as an example and stop whining about the use of pseudonyms. Leaders must be courageous and just; they should expect criticism and repent when they are shown to be wrong; they must not seek honor but, instead, should seek to humble themselves. If we even saw a glimmer of this in Ligonier’s managers, I would personally find such actions encouraging. As it is, I only see more of the same from Ligonier, which is nothing more than self-justifying behavior that is emblematic of the “world.”

    Ligonier’s senior management must publicly repent of their deeds of darkness (and I am being charitable with this characterization), for healing to occur within the body of Christ.

    May God have mercy on these men by turning them to humility and public repentance for, as it stands now, their very public sin as “leaders” continues to condemn them and besmirch the bride of Christ.

    Mark

  44. Frank Vance says:

    You’ll have to forgive me T. Walton, er, ER, for mistaking you for John Duncan. You see the problem is, as I’ve said already, that your MO is so remarkably similar, including your threats, like the one you made against Brandon Gironimi:

    “Does your wife know you’ll probably end up in federal court?”

    It’s also interesting how you sing the praises of John Duncan, just like John Duncan himself has repeatedly done here and elsewhere. You’re a deluded man to say that John Duncan possesses even one iota of “charity and christian patience.”

    You’ve worn out your welcome (again) ER.

  45. Is a company accountable to its shareholders? Is a company accountable to its investors? When a businessman seeks more investors, do those he solicits funds from have a right to ask questions about his business and point out concerns with how he does business?

    When nonprofit ‘ministries’ rely on donor funds and are actively involved in soliciting donor funds, it is not unreasonable, unbiblical, or a fool’s errand for those donors (potential and current) to ask questions, examine the financial records, practices, and activities of that 501C3 organization.

    And ER, you cherry pick your data in very interesting ways. A couple people in comments here speculated about the sermon Sproul recently preached. Far more people rebuked them for that speculation and pointed out why it had no place here. And frankly, you must be lying when you say you began a lengthy probe into the allegations here and found that _none_ of them are true. I know differently.

    I agree that some charges here (mostly charges made in comments, not in the main articles) are unproven, as some of them can only be known to the participants (in which case, you still can’t make the claim you have). But many other allegations are easily verified by those truly interested in truth.

    You either did no such investigation, or you are dishonest about what you found, because it is certainly true that Ligonier sued a professing believer, lied about the suit, finally confessed to the suit and then lied about dropping it, then lied about why it was dropped, and clearly communicated their intentions to sue again. It is true that the Sproul family together make over a million dollars from a nonprofit ministry still soliciting donor funds, while the ministry owns a mansion and the Sprouls live in a gated community.

    It is true that Ligonier fired Don Kistler.

    Tim Dick contacted Frank Vance first, and that’s an interesting story, and his incoherent, thuggish email is there for all to see. Frank wasn’t addressing Ligonier at all, only the defrocking of R.C. Sproul, Junior, and the hypocritical way Jr. was responding to that defrocking. By your standards, this was none of Tim Dick’s business as Tim was not a member of Jr.’s organization, but he stuck his nose in anyway, insulting and railing from the start of his communication.

    Ryan Dick’s own attitude about this nonprofit ministry being a multi-million dollar business he has the right to inherit is also independently verified by his own words. These are the issues that got my attention and that I have investigated myself and found to be true.

    It is interesting how you avoid these things and focus on a few comments instead. I can see why you do it, of course, but you must realize it’s rather transparent and it’s certainly not very convincing.

  46. ER says:

    Frank,

    You (and Brandon) are wrong again. I don’t know anyone going by “T Walton.”

    I would think that guilt by false association would be a game you would not want to play. But persist if you must.

    Have you ever met Duncan?
    Have you ever spoken with him?
    How are you in any position to make judgements about him? Is it because “anonymous sources” speculated about him to you?
    What “substantive and specific allegations” can you make about Duncan?
    On what basis am I “deluded” for defending an honest christian?

    ER

  47. Lawrence says:

    ER and Brandon,
    Actually you are both incorrect in a sense. Yes, it could be sinful to lay off employees simply so that one could increase or maintain his own salary. A Christian leader, even in private business should consider himself a steward of all that the Lord has blessed him with, including his employees and remember that they too are made in the image of God and not a disposable commodity. We hire, and occasionally fire, flesh and blood folks with families not paper plates.

    That said, it would also not be sinful to lay off and keep or increase salaries if one was doing some sort of integral restructuring, like not offering a certain service or product line in the future and laying off employees related to it. Even so, as a good steward of one’s people this should be done in the most humane way possible.

    ER, please allow me explain how the business of letting a nonperforming employee go works as your understanding falls a bit short. Let’s say I am your employee. I am a slacker, I look at the internet all day, sit on the phone either talking to or IM’ing my friends, or I come in late or sleep at my desk because I play hard most nights.

    What do you do? If you are smart you can approach this two ways, but both start the same way. You document my behavior and reprove me in love. I am now either going to shape up or not. If I shape up, problem eliminated and you have saved your brother in Christ from developing a disastrous work ethic that will negatively impact his future. You are a hero.

    What if I do not shape up? Continue the documentation and speak to me again explaining the seriousness of the issues and that my continued employment is at stake. Try to get to the root of the problem. Personally I have had employees respond two ways to an honest discussion of the root of the problem. Some walked out with a chip on their shoulder, they continued their behavior, and I fired them.

    Of the remainder some expressed some deep dissatisfaction with some situation of their employment and yet others that they were just tired of working where we were. With the former I addressed the issues as best I could and we worked toward resolution, if possible. Sometimes it is not possible. With the latter, I helped them find a new job, literally.

    Why not just “lay them off”? Every eligible employee that you do not fire for a solid and documented reason will march down to the unemployment office and collect unemployment benefits. These benefits are paid for out of the funds that your business pays in unemployment taxes. Every employee that marches down there and collects raises your unemployment tax rates. A little diligence in documentation and termination of employees can save a significant amount of money for any business.

    The process is not rocket science and a halfway competent manager knows how this all works. The kind of “help” you are offering in your comments does nothing to actually help Ligonier.

    Folks, in all fairness to Ligonier, public speculation on internal personnel matters is hitting below the belt. This is not an area where Ligonier, short of being sued, can legitimately defend themselves without getting into unethical or illegal territory regarding their responsibilities to keep records of former employees private.

  48. D. C. Markel says:

    I’m basically neutral on issues of money unless there is just outright gross abuse and putting all of this in perspective, I don’t see this as a case of gross abuse.

    My first question is this: if these salaries are too high, then what should they be? Please back up your statements with Biblical principals or some other means of justifying your position. Do you expect these people to live like Jesus – basically owning only the clothes they wear? Incidently, if you are going to use verses like Luke 18:25 or I Corinthians 6:10 to justify your position, then does that also mean that Christians who make as much or more as these people need to repent also? I can see that legalism in this situation can be as much as a problem as alleged greed.

    As I mentioned earlier, putting this perspective, compared to what many ministers of large churches are paid today, this isn’t outrageous at all – if anything close to the norm. Just to give one example, I’m an active member of a 4500 member Presbyterian church in the South. We had a wonderful minister but he left to be head minister at one the largest Presbyterian churches in the nation and I’m sure he received a very hefty salary to relocate. After two years of searching we finally got someone who makes about $250,000 a year. That probably seems high to many of you, but the church is in a part of a large metropolitan city where the average house costs $450,000. Do you expect a minister and his family of four kids to live in apartment and live a meager, altruistic lifestyle while most of the parishoners live much better? Furthermore, our pastor isn’t in the same league as R.C. Sproul and he’s only receiving $100,000 from his church? That’s a steal for that congregation! Furthermore, most of the head pastors of most of the big Baptist churches in major cities in the South make similiar if not higher salaries than our pastor’s. Are they evil too? Another thing to consider is that a lot of ministers donate a significant portion of their salary back to the church. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it makes me extremely relucant to judge people based on salaries alone.

    I do make nominal donations to Ligonior, solely because I continously receive invaluable teaching from God’s Word. Can you put a real price on something that effects you throughout all eternity? When I first considered donating money to Ligonior, I checked the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability website. I compared their donation to administrative cost ratio and it was right in line with other ministries I highly respect such as John MacArthur’s and Ravi Zacharias’. So there again, I don’t see any gross abuse in this situation unless people see this as an indictment against those other ministries as well.

    In closing, I think it is good for these ministries to be publicly accountable with the ECFA and if the administrive costs continued to escalate at significant margin, then I would perhaps reconsider my donation scheme with Ligonier. But as of now, I won’t.

  49. IdeasConsequences says:

    ER’s logic seems faulty and given over to generality, leading to equivocation and justification of the management of Ligonier. First of all, many of us who comment here have been former employees, volunteers, board members or long time donors who do have the facts and know the lifestyle of the Sproul clan – i.e., we speak from a basis of knowledge.

    But forget that for a moment and let’s just look at salaries and qualifications. For your information ER, salaries and benefits paid to any employee should be commensurate with experience, contribution, educational background and potential for future contribution to the organization whether the organization is a for-profit company or a non-profit. In addition, there is an another expection of employees of a Christian ministry. This expectation is one of ministry, i.e., that the employees are also ministering in their positions. This is especially expected of those in leadership, as examples to the employees that they manage and to donors that are vital to the organization. How else would you differentiate a Christian non-profit from a for profit company selling Christian materials, like many publishers of “Christian” materials? At least these publishers and other such for-profit companies don’t pretend to be ministries.

    As to how to determine a reasonable salary, given the above criteria, it is done by comparison – just like the salary review conducted by FreeGoodNews.com. Since our country is blest to be a free-market economy, for-profit companies, ministries and other non-profits do this routinely to determine reasonable compensation – by comparing the level of compensation among a group of similar positions within a similar industry. This is a common practice among businesses to remain competitive in order to hire and retain qualfied personnel. Tim Dick should be well aware of this practice, given his prior position as a personnel recruiter.

    The mention of Dick’s prior qualifications brings me to prior experience as the primary qualification for hiring and determining compensation. It seems clear that Dick’s qualfications were severely lacking when he was hired into the #2 position as VP. His primary qualification is even more clear – that of son-in-law to RC. After Dick’s arrival, there was a confrontation between the CFO and Dick regarding the use of ministry funds. Shortly thereafter, the CFO was told to report to Dick, as VP, rather than directly to RC (I know of no other organization where the CFO reports to anyone other than the president). One could ask, what are Dick’s qualifications to direct the activities of the financial recording and reporting of financial performance? Also such an arrangement is clearly contrary to generally accepted accounting principles that require an independent, qualified CFO to insure accurate reporting of financial data and position. Shortly thereafter, the Ligonier CFO took a mysterious leave-of-absence, never to return. As for salary, Dick’s salary was easily 2-3x the going rate of a VP/general mgr position for a company of the size of Ligonier at that time.

    What of the qualifications of the other Sprould family members? Vesta’s qualfications are that she is the wife of RC and she has no day to day duities. Sherri Dick (Tim’s wife) has no applicable working experience but she is RC’s daughter. What of the qualifications of the Dick’s children? Dick’s son, is a college drop out, given to the party life with no prior experience (even his occasional girl friends find jobs at Ligonier). Dick’s daughter is a college graduate from a fine school with a psychology degree but how would that make her qualfied for a marketing mgmt position at a salary of 1.5-2x the going rate for a person with a degree and marketing experience? And there is also the husband of Dick’s daughter, a graduate of the same college but with no marketing education or experience – but he also is titled in “marketing mgmt” at 1.5-2x the going rate. ER fails to mention these personnel decisions were those made by Tim Dick, and that these inexperienced and unqualfied family members took the places of qualfied, loyal employees who had sacrificed careers for the opportunity to contribute to the ministry . Are we to consider these hiring decisions of Dick those of a qualified leader of a non-profit that would justify his compensation to be 3-4x the going rate of someone in a similar position in a ministry of similar size? Or maybe the acquisition of SDG without adequate compensation to it’s owner is a qualficiation that justifies the position and the inflated salary of Tim Dick.

    And ER, since you claim to know enough to discredit Frank Vance and others here, what exactly are the compelling qualifications of John Duncan that would make someone consider his hiring and compensation reasonable?

    I think it is the expectation of donors to a non-profit “Christian” ministry (is there any other kind of real ministry?) that the ministry make itself transparent to its donors relative to use of funds and make known publicly the ministry plans for the future use of donations. With that practice, if the ministry is in fact one that serves a needy people, that honors God and seeks to serve Him by ministering to these needs, then that ministry will be able to attract and retain a high level of qualified and motivated Christian personnel without the need to exceed the compensation averages of similar positions in secular for-proft companies or those of like-minded Christian ministries. Further, such a ministry will be able to attract and retain dedicated donors – donors that seek to honor God rather than blindly follow men.

  50. For the record, RC Sproul’s mortgage on his gated community home is paid off according to county records. Also, Tim Dick and Sproul live in the same house, so obviously all that money is not going to pay the mortgage.

    As to high paid pastors my question is, why pay yourself a huge salary if you are going to give it a lot of it back? Probably for tax deduction reasons if I were to guess. I also have a problem with any excessively paid pastor, not just RC Sproul.

    I will probably leave the other issues to those who are much more versed than I am.

  51. Scott Hill says:

    D C Markel you wrote a longer and better version of the same question I asked that has gone unanswered.

    Some of you who think Dr. Sproul’s salary is to high tell us what it should be and how you came to that figure?

  52. ER says:

    IdeasConsequences,

    I hope you will concede that if you or others posting on this site are “former employees or board members” that it’s important to specify the circumstances for which you left Ligonier. If you were terminated or quit in frustration then you are continuing your prosecution of your former employer through inappropriate means (on a blog).

    As you know Ligonier cannot comment publicly about you or any former employees. Notice they have not done so about Kistler, for the same reason.

    If you are a former “volunteer or long time donor” I reject the notion that you have facts or a “basis of knowledge.” Those positions do not insure an insider’s understanding of anything.

    If you left on good terms it begs the question, why are you commenting here?

    Most of your comments and objections are based on the premise that you think it is unethical or immoral for Sproul and Dick family members to work at Ligonier. As I said in my original post, you should make a Biblical case for that premise rather than just assume it is right.

    Let me ask it another way, why can’t the Sproul and Dick family members work in a ministry founded by RC Sproul? Does Scripture give any indication that a family should not be engaged in ministry together?

    Let me say, sincerely, that your paragraph in which you criticize each member of the family, claim they don’t work and are not qualified for employment in any sense, does not sound objective.

    It sounds like a personal vendetta.

    I agree that salaries and compensations should be evaluated in light of industry standards and other equitable considerations. But you have not listed all the necessary criteria, there are other factors: knowledge of the material, commitment to the vision of the leaders, the ability to carry on the work when the founder is gone, trustworthiness, etc.

    Watchman, I will end my attempts to dialogue with your posters, because it appears that I upset the majority of them and it is not my intention to do so. I disagree with most of what you are saying and doing at this site. I have stated the reasons why I disagree.

    ER

  53. I was wondering says:

    ER,

    It is disgraceful for you to impune the people laid off from Ligonier. I don’t care if you are an employee or not. However, if you are not you should stay quiet about these men and women of character. If you are a management employee then you should have said the reason for the layoffs was poor performance rather than an inability to reach payroll. If you don’t know this your fact finding has netted you little. I believe much of what goes on here is shooting in the dark, but the facts of the layoffs are clear and to question them in this way is disgraceful. Please do not try to defend the portions of this that are indefensable. Ligonier is not the monster portrayed on this site and their have been outright fabrications made against Ligonier but there is no question about the facts surrounding the layoffs and the link to the purchase of “The Property”. Defend what can be defended and call on them to repair the damage they have caused.

  54. Frank Vance says:

    ER,

    Enough!

    I may not be able to prove that you’re John Duncan, since you’re not posting from the Ligonier office (as John Duncan has often stupidly done in the past). But I can prove that you’re every bit the liar that John Duncan is.

    You’re IP address is the same IP address that also posted as T. Walton.

    You’ve had your fun ER. Now go find yourself a different library or coffee shop, adopt a new alias and try again. I’m quite confident you will. Your desperate need to defend John Duncan and his fellow outrageously paid and professionally unqualified Ligonier “senior management” is pathetic. But then if I were John Duncan and Ligonier donors were complaining about my outrageous $180,000 salary (2004 figure, probably much higher now) I guess I’d be desperate to save face too.

  55. Always Batya says:

    Frank, I agree with your having ‘enough’ of ER. Many have made excellent points but I do want to respond to his/her post to me.

    ER wrote: In the New Testament there are numerous examples of people working with, around and for the common cause of the Apostles. The work they did helped to fund the various activities and travel, feed and cloth the needy and expand the reach of the Gospel. I think Ligonier, as well as other 501c3s, are modern examples of this principle.”

    Ok, I had to laugh at loud at this ‘stretch’ of scripture. Too bad ER is not coming back so he can recite chapter and verse. I guess Lydia or Phoebe would be considered a Biblical 501c3. Or wait! Joseph of Arimethia with the free tomb for Jesus.

    Is ER learning this from Dr. Sproul’s teaching?

    ER wrote: 501c3s need boards for oversight, the leaders of these organizatons need to be members in good stranding in local churches and they need to conduct themselves Biblically. Those safeguards will insure moral fidelity, if the governing bodies are active and obedient.”

    Uh….yes…and your point is? We all know by now that Ligoneirs board hardly fits that last part of the last sentence. As to their good standing…if so….they would have resigned by now. Agreeing to spend donor money for attorney’s and private investigators on an unbiblical lawsuit is NOT proper conduct for a Christian board member of a ministry.

    ER wrote: “The assertion by you and others is that none of these safeguards are functioning at Ligonier. I disagree and have sought out testimony and confirmation for these very concerns.”

    Uh, recent VERIFIABLE facts prove you wrong.

    ER wrote: “It is remarkable that there are so many complaints at Ministry Watchman and very few (if any) who are actually talking to and discussing concerns with the leaders they criticize.”

    Tell them to drop the lawsuit ‘with predjudice’ and I will be happy to meet and talk. I am sure Frank would, too.

    ER: I know how Christ and His Apostles would have handled concerns of this type, so I did.”

    We know too, He called them a ‘Brood of Vipers’ and ‘White washed tombs’.

  56. Always Batya says:

    Scott wrote: Some of you who think Dr. Sproul’s salary is to high tell us what it should be and how you came to that figure? ”

    Scott, you crack me up. All the verifiable factual scandal at Ligonier and you choose to die on this hill? Is this the best you can do for a defense of Ligoneir?

    Paul made tents. Our Lord had no where to lay His head. The worker is worthy of his wages. It’s all there. There is NO figure. It is a matter of discernment.

    If you like paying attorney’s fees and private investigators for a ‘ministry’ to sue then by all means do so. If you like paying for a mansion in a gated community, a reprobate grandson’s salary then, please, feel free! If you think the high salaries (In the top 10% of income earners in the U.S.) are ok, then write some more checks! Tell your wife, you think John Duncan’s wife deserves a granite pool and keep sending them money.

    I never thought I would see the day when ‘ministry’ would be a path to wealth… and so many would applaud. How worldly we have become!

  57. I actually received 3 communications from the same IP address.

    On 12/16/2006 at 11:14 PM I received a contact form email with no name.
    On 12/17/2006 at 12:02 PM (less than 13 hours later) I received another contact form email, once again with no name.
    On 12/18/2006 at 6:38 PM (about 43 hours since the first contact), I received a comment to my Ligonier finances article, this time with a name of T Walton and then a supposed email address for Comcast.

    While it is *possible* that 3 totally different people with the same exact IP address and all being sympathetic to Ligonier or Doug Phillips could have contacted me, I highly doubt it. I will dig through my logs some more to see what I can find.

  58. D. C. Markel says:

    Brandon Giromini asked in response to my prior message, “As to high paid pastors my question is, why pay yourself a huge salary if you are going to give it a lot of it back?”

    Some evangelical leaders including R.C. Sproul and Hank Hanagraaf espouse giving far more than 10%, based on their belief that giving under the superior New Covenant has much higher demands than the Old Covenant. I saw a Renewing Your Mind TV broadcast recently, which I believe was from the 2005 Ligonier Annual Conference, where R.C. discussed giving and he advocates in giving much more than 10% and claims he does and “has the checkbook to prove it”.

    Also I’m reminded of many years ago I was once told by a staff member of one the largest Baptist churches in the nation at the time that the head minister who drew a significantly high salary ($150,000 in the mid-1980’s) gave back something slightly over 20% to the church and made the same challenge to his congregation. So again, it’s very dangerous to judge someone based on just their salary alone.

    Scott Hill’s and my own inquiries regarding what salary isn’t excessive seems to be unanswerable among the critics. Here is some food for thought. I don’t know exactly what Ligonier’s total audience is for radio and TV broadcasts, but based on my recollection that Table Talk Magazine has at least 45,000 subscribers, I would safely estimate that their broadcast ministry far exceeds their magazine subscriber base and RYM radio and TV easily reach 125,000 people worldwide daily if not double that. If 125K is case, and if that many people listen and/or watch RYM daily all year round, how outrageous is it that R.C Sproul receives about $2.00 per person per year for his teaching services and Tim Dick receives about $1.75 per person per year for his administration services. Or another way of looking at it is that they essentially receive a few cents per person per daily broadcast. What else can you buy with that tiny amount of money these days and for something that will benefit you for eternity?

  59. Jen says:

    DC, based upon your figures here of tithing 20% rather than 10%, let’s look at these two situations you have supplied. You said that a minister of a large church in the 1980s took home $150,000 and tithed 20%, which is $30,000, leaving him with a net take home pay (taxes?) of $120,000. That’s still a fairly hefty salary for the 1980s, and one that could probably easily accommodate a 20% tithe.

    I understand RC and his wife take home around $400,000, without royalties. If we were to assume that they also tithed 20%, which is $80,000, that would leave them with a net take home pay (minus taxes) of $320,000, plus royalties. That is still significantly higher than the average income in America, and we haven’t even touched the royalties.

    Here is where I part ways with some here. I don’t care if RC Sproul makes a million dollars per year on his royalties. If he earns book (and other) royalties as a result of his excellent teaching and writing abilities, then he is entitled to them fully. Same thing for honorariums. If he earns them, he earns them, and that is the beauty of free enterprise in America.

    However (this is where I mend fences now), even though Dr. Dobson does not teach a lot of what I believe, I have to really respect him for living on what he himself has earned (his royalties) and “ministering” at his ministry, taking no donor funds for himself. Obviously, not every ministry can be run this way, but I respect those who are able, and willing, to give up the extra money so that it can be used fully for ministry. I used to work at a small pregnancy center and our director worked full time for no pay as well. This is not something I would expect from anyone, but I sure do respect those who choose to minister in this way. This tells me a lot about their heart for the Lord.

    Does that mean that because RC Sproul obviously earns a lot from his book royalties and honorariums that he shouldn’t take any money from Ligonier or St. Andrews? Absolutely not. The Bible is clear that a teaching elder is worthy of double honor, and I believe that is financial as well. I say that if RC Sproul has earned double honor for being a teaching elder at St. Andrews Chapel, that he should receive his full share there. Likewise, he has obviously earned double honor teaching through Ligonier, as many of us even here on Ministry Watchman have benefited tremendously from RC Sproul’s teachings in our own lives, so he should be worthy of double honor there as well. What would double honor be? Twice the average pay for similar secular work? Possibly. So, I will not fault RC himself for being paid well for what he has earned. However, I would personally have a much higher degree of respect for the man if he voluntarily turned away the salaries and lived on royalties and honorariums instead, or if I saw that he was clearly using his oodles of money to further the kingdom of God, as I personally know one quite wealthy Christian who constantly uses his money to do so.

    Now, Tim Dick’s salary is quite another matter. I say to pay someone what they are worth. I understand that Tim Dick does not have the training or the expertise to do the job he is attempting to fill. I also know that he does not work full-time. What is the going rate for non-profits in his same position of companies in similar size and finances? If he were qualified for his position, I would say that his salary should fall within, say 10% or so, of that salary range. If he’s not even qualified, well…

  60. Scott Hill says:

    I am not dying on any hill or even defending Dr. Sproul. I am just curious why any of you have a problem with the amount of the salary. Which by the way is not that much. My point is that in an effort to jump on the “kick Ligonier” bandwagon, many of you have resorted to nitpicky, gossip rag, childishness. If Ligonier has committed a crime, biblical or governmental then prove it. I mean actually prove, no more of this my source says or some secretary says. Prove it. If it is as big as blatant as Frank Vance says then it should be easy. Yet, I nothing I have seen as of yet who even make it into the hearsay category. I don’t see any of the people who are wronged in this coming forward and starting blogs or even saying anything at all.

    Dr. Sprouls salary is irrelevant to the conversation. The real problem I see is that a lot of you have legalistic theology concerning making money.

    Dr. MacArthur makes 160,000 from Grace To You plus his church salary and royalties. Are any of the Watchman taking on him next. He apparently makes too much money also.

    Jen, Dr. Dobson’s wife is on staff at Focus on the Family for about 250,000 a year.

    Frank, I have seen you use VERIFIABLE several times in this comment thread. At which point are we going to see the verification? So far all we have is your word.

  61. Scott Hill says:

    Jen, I am sorry I was wrong about Dr. Dobsons wife. That is not true at all. I put down the wrong person.

  62. Always Batya says:

    Markel wrote: Scott Hill’s and my own inquiries regarding what salary isn’t excessive seems to be unanswerable among the critics. ”

    The salaries are from donor money. Donors have a right to expect transparancy for funds and how they are spent. Is there anything wrong with publishing the salaries for all to see? If it is NOT wrong, why are so many going to such lengthes trying to defend the high salaries?

    Will you answer this: Is it Biblical for a ‘ministry’ that exposits scripture to spend donor funds on an unbiblical lawsuit paying attorneys and private investigators? Do you have any problem with that? Most Christians do.

    I think what we are seeing with these posts is a campaign to defend their high salaries. Probably because donations are down.

  63. Bill Isley says:

    Scott–

    My information may be out of date, but I believe Dr. MacArthur’s book royalties are “plowed back into the ministry.”

    Bill

  64. Mark Epstein says:

    Scott, you wrote: “If Ligonier has committed a crime, biblical or governmental then prove it.

    Ligonier filed a lawsuit against a professing believer in violation of 1 Corinthians 6. And, for the record, Dr. Sproul’s own expositing of this scripture condemns Ligonier. Furthermore, Ligonier then compounded their error by publicly lying about the lawsuit in a number of areas, including their repeated denials it was even filed, then their denials that is was a SLAPP suit and, finally, that the suit had been dismissed (when the suit had not been dismissed).

    Compounding this already inexcusable situation, Ligonier then fed a story to sympathetic bloggers late on a Friday afternoon that the suit had been dismissed, provided these bloggers links to hidden areas of the Ligonier website, even though Ligonier’s non-Christian attorneys had taken absolutely no action to dismiss the lawsuit!

    Scott, these statements concerning the lawsuit can be confirmed as a matter of public record in Florida. I think that’s about as verifiable as anyone needs to get.

    Mark

  65. William says:

    Watchman,

    As a relative newcomer to this site I’ll throw in a couple of answers here. I’m a Ministry Partner at Ligonier and proud of it.

    Sproul doesn’t take any royalties on his books, none. He never has. If he was to take even a small royalty on the numerous books he has published, he would be bringing in several million dollars a year. I think it shows great integrity that he takes only a fraction of that in salary. He has sowed back into Ligonier, as MacArthur has into his ministry.

    Another misconception, Always Batya perpetuates, is about the lawyers. Ligonier has several lawyers working each year on contracts and various negotiations needed to run the ministry operations in the US and around the world. They did not “hire” lawyers to investigate Frank. They probably just redirected what their lawyers were doing for a few weeks.

    Given the slanderous and wrongful nature of Vance’s allegations (none of which he can verify, like Scott said) I think it was very appropriate to try and find him and force him to testify before witnesses. Why wouldn’t any christian try and confront an anonymous attacker using legal methods, particularly when the attacker refuses to identify himself/herself with hostility?

    It’s strange how everyone keeps saying “but Vance was a christian, that makes it sin.” Vance wasn’t acting like a christian (still isn’t) so how can he expect to be extended the privileges of christian behavior?

    Vance’s ongoing hiding continues to corrode any credibility he might have started with. There’s no excuse for that, though I’ve read quite a few here in previous posts.

    One more thing about “Ligonier lied about dropping the suit.” A defendant should not expect to be able to dictate terms to a plaintiff. Ligonier was under no obligation to tell Vance (or anyone) when they would be completing the paperwork to suspend the legal action. If they had decided privately to do nothing and waited for 10 years to put in the withdrawal paperwork, I would say that’s the price Vance pays for slander.

    William

  66. No excuse says:

    Sproul doesn’t take any royalties on his books, none. He never has. If he was to take even a small royalty on the numerous books he has published, he would be bringing in several million dollars a year.

    This figure is probably highly exaggerated because it doesn’t seem to fit into any suitable category in Ligonier’s 990 form. However, even if it were true, it doesn’t mitigate the fact that Sproul and Dick family members and inlaws are taking in upwards of $1,000,000 collectively in Ligonier compensation and benefits, often at above-market rates and after being hired to replace fired non-family members. This is unethical and there is no excuse for it.

    Shame on William for defending the indefensible.

  67. Mark Epstein says:

    William,

    You make a classic error that I see perpuated by Reformed supporters of Dr. Sproul — you judge Frank Vance by what he wrote. In other words, you shoot the messenger. Furthermore, by your own admission, you are a newcomer to this site. Did you know that Frank Vance was writing about the R.C.Sproul Jr. debacle when contacted by Ligonier’s Tim Dick? Tim Dick is responsible for starting all this.
    If we are going to judge by appearances, then we need to judge Dr. Sproul by a far higher standard than Frank Vance, for Dr. Sproul is a teaching elder, and his support of his defrocked son is a travesty.

    Lastly, I am a former supporter of Ligonier. My wife and I supported the ministry for years. However, when we learned of the lawsuit via the secular press, received the run around when we called Ligonier, we knew something was wrong. Yet, the overarching issue is this: Even if Frank Vance was not a Christian, Ligonier would not be justified in suing him. Christians are supposed to expect defamation, and we are to rise above the fiery darts of the enemy. Of course, Frank Vance is not the enemy, he is just the Christian messenger revealing Ligonier’s corrupt “soul.”

    Mark

  68. William says:

    Mark,

    Actually, I was giving counterpoint to the speculation at this site which is inaccurate. Most of the speculation originates from Frank Vance, so blame is rightly placed on him. You are defending a messenger whose message is erroneous.

    As to Dick “starting all this,” are you saying that he can’t give an opposing opinion on a blog and not expect fierce, unceasing, personal retaliation by an unknown assailant? Is that Frank’s christian example you are referring to?

    I don’t think anything said at this site has revealed a “corrupt soul” at Ligonier. There is, however, page after page of angry legalism and contrived rhetoric.

    William

  69. Always Batya says:

    Quote: “A defendant should not expect to be able to dictate terms to a plaintiff. Ligonier was under no obligation to tell Vance (or anyone) when they would be completing the paperwork to suspend the legal action. If they had decided privately to do nothing and waited for 10 years to put in the withdrawal paperwork, I would say that’s the price Vance pays for slander.”

    Are we both talking about the same people here? A Christian ‘ministry’ that exposits scripture and teaches the gospel? They were under no obligation scripturally, too?

    Uh…what slander? He was RESPONDING to Tim Dick! Quit rewriting history. Exactly what happened is contained within this site if anyone cares enough to read it all.

    Fellow posters: I thank MW for allowing these Ligoneir employees or supporters to post. They surely do not have to and shows their fairness to all. But, I think I see what is going on. This is a veiled attemp at ‘offense’ because I bet donations are way down. Too many reading this site!

  70. Always Batya says:

    Scott Hill, read this post:

    http://coffeetradernews.blogspot.com/2006/10/nouveau-riche_13.html

    Then we can exposit all the scriptures about worldliness and wealth. :0)

  71. I was wondering says:

    Brandon Giromini

    I don’t know who you are but I do believe you are a bit deceived by your lack knowledge of how hard a good pastor works. A good pastor should be paid well. A good pastor makes home calls, hospital calls, teaches the men in his church how to raise up their children using the word of God, preaches on Sunday (any good sermon takes at least 20 hours a week to prepare), in addition to this their is counselling, phone calls with questions to answers, emails to answers and fitting in his own family in all this. I don’t believe you should be paid an enormous salary for just showing up on Sunday and preaching. I do believe a man which invests his time in his congregation should be paid for the work done. Pastoring is spiritually and emotionally exhausted. We should all be in support of our pastors and let them know we appreciate their sacrifice. Let’s no longer treat our pastors, as though the work they are doing, is meaningless. Pastors need our prayer and loving support. I understand that their are a few bad pastors in America but let’s remember the years of learning and growing and obeying God, the average pastor does. You might want to rethink how important a pastor can be. Pastoring is spiritually and emotionally exhausting.

  72. Mark Epstein says:

    I Was Wondering,

    You will receive no argument from my wife or me concerning the worth of a good pastor.

    We do, however, take issue with hefty salaries for unqualified Christian ministry CEO’s.

    This is especially true when it appears the only reason they are employed is a result of nepotistic practice.

    Mark

  73. Frank Vance says:

    I agree with the duties that I Was Wondering assigns to “a good pastor.” The problem is though that RC Sproul doesn’t do the things that a good pastor does. It’s not that he’s not a “good pastor” but that he’s not a pastor at all, nor does he hold himself out to be a pastor. His title at Saint Andrews Chapel is “Minister of Preaching and Teaching.” For that he gets paid well over $100,000 a year.

    I Was Wondering is no doubt very pleased that RC Sproul is indeed paid very, very well. The problem is though that he’s not paid to be a pastor. Other than preaching and teaching he has few if any actual pastoral duties. Nor is Sproul subjected to the “spiritually and emotionally exhausting” labors that the typical pastor has to deal with. The guy responsible for all the typical “spiritually and emotionally exhausting” stuff that a pastor has to cope with is Burk Parsons. At Saint Andrews Chapel Burk should really be called “the pastor,” since that’s what he is. But for some reason Sproul has given him the title “Minister of Congregational Life.”

    RC Sproul isn’t a pastor. So in the future let’s all try and avoid causing further confusion and only refer to him as “preacher” or “teacher.”

  74. Jen says:

    Point well taken, Frank. However, I Timothy 5:17 says, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”

    It seems to me that whatever else RC Sproul does or does not do, those elders who are worthy of double honor are those who labor in the word and doctrine. That description seems to fit RC Sproul exactly.

    You know as well as I that I do not think RC fits the qualifications being an elder in the first place, with him not having his family under control, among various other reasons. However, as long as he is a teaching elder at St. Andrews Chapel, this verse would seem to apply.

    Can you please show me a verse about him having to perform any “pastoral” duties to qualify for double honor?

  75. praying and thinking says:

    The commenter “I was wondering,” like quite a number of others, wants to change the subject. I want to return to the subject that I find central and utmostly important. Don Kistler has been viciously taken down and slaughtered, and we know so. No blood was shed, but this was a true slaughter. His life’s work robbed from him, now recovering from a stroke (notably suffered in the middle of a fierce war that would cause in many people a stroke or a heart attack), now with no insurance, with no monetary support for himself and Mrs. Kistler, now a marked man among many outside of Ligonier, a marked man among so many who for fear or for favor — either fearing men’s response or wanting men’s favor — want no part of mercy and truth for Dr. Kistler. The appearance is that most are even embarassed or intimidated to bring up the subject, much less to do the truth in this. As I write this Monday, January 1, Don Kistler is in very serious distress and real need. Real need. This is a great evil done in the middle of Reformed evangelicals. Strongly proven (despite the liars’ protests and challenges) and widely known among the body of Reformed believers. Where are they who love mercy and truth? I cannot prove this now, but I am virtually certain that Mohler, MacArthur, Dever, Piper, Zecharias, Begg, D. James Kennedy, and far more than 50 other Reformed leaders know sufficiently enough about this great evil done in their midst, and either close their eyes to this or else more directly tolerate or support this. Please read Proverbs 21:13 and 24:11,12. These men cannot truthfully claim that they have marginal mental abilities (many or most of them are brilliant) or that they have been imprisoned on a remote island unable to be informed or realize (many or most of them are remarkably informed and knowing of matters in the Reformed community, and realize far lesser matters than this). What if that were themselves and their wife precisely in the same position, distress, and need of Don Kistler? This situation goes to the core of what we profess. The 2 commandments. To tolerate or accept this great evil in the middle of the body of Reformed believers seems to me at least as bad or worse than the original deeds by Ligonier. What about the testimony of the truth we profess before the world? (If this is allowed to stand, if the body of Reformed believers tolerates or accepts this, what will lost people in the world think, conclude, say about Reformed Christians? “They are no different from the others, and their religion looks no different either: look at what they know and tolerate among their own and against their own.”) What about the purity and welfare of the body of believers, the true need to warn believers from the evil example and consequences of what these men have done in this? What about the eternal souls of Dr. Sproul, Sr., Tim Dick, and others who have done this, not to be exposed, reproved, called to repentance? (but only “business as usual” tolerated or embraced). Believe me, I can say more.
    Dr. Mohler, and many others also, do you think that God does not realize your awareness and your responsibility in this? The greatest acknowledgement of this by any of the Reformed leaders that I know of until now is a mocking and dark parody of this blog-site’s binoculars masthead by Phil Johnson. They realize. Many realize. All the reformed leaders, and all the obscure reformed believers, do you think that God does not see and know? This is a great evil in the middle of the body of Reformed believers. As great as the need to help Dr. Kistler (a true need which is so false and sinful not to do), the need to address this truthfully because of the testimony we profess before the world, because of the good of Christ’s church, and because of the eternal souls of those who did this, is a greater need.

    God loves the truth, and the one who loves God loves the truth.

  76. William made the following argument:

    “Vance wasn’t acting like a [C]hristian (still isn’t) so how can he expect to be extended the privileges of [C]hristian behavior?”

    Maybe this has been covered before, but there are multiple problems with this argument:

    1. Determining which individuals are inside or outside the boundaries of the church is the prerogative of the church, not an aggrieved individual.

    2. The prohibition on suing other Christians is to protect the authority of the church courts. It’s not a matter of whether someone “deserves” a certain courtesy.

    3. When one Christian brings any kind of charges against another Christian, there is already an adversarial relationship between the two parties. What strong disagreement between Christians wouldn’t be subject to some questions about the conversion of both parties?

    4. Putting 1, 2, and 3 together, it becomes clear that church courts will have no scope at all if all that is required to take something out of the church’s jurisdiction is a perfunctory declaration that the other party is “not Christian,” and therefore a transfer into the civil courts is justified. For anyone who longs for Christ’s kingdom on earth, this is not an acceptable outcome, therefore such logic is to be opposed.

  77. Frank Vance says:

    Jen, the “double honor” is to be bestowed by the church on elders (the term “pastors” doesn’t appear in the passage), and “especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” I won’t make the argument that Sproul doesn’t work hard at preaching and teaching for Saint Andrews Chapel, at least of those hours that he does put in there (and it’s definitely not a full-time obligation). That wasn’t the point I was making, nor am I attempting to argue that the double honor is shown only to pastors.

    But since you raise the “double honor” issue, let me go ahead and deal with that one. I’ve seen a number of arguments in the blogosphere misusing the “double honor” requirement to allege that it’s perfectly fine for Sproul to take hundreds of thousands of dollars from donor contributions to Ligonier, and hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the average Ligonier donor makes. Somehow the “double honor” proviso covers that. The fact is it doesn’t because in Sproul’s Ligonier capacity he’s not an elder at all. He’s a corporate chairman. Moreover, he’s a corporate chairman of a nonprofit tax exempt organization governed by IRS regulations which prohibit “personal inurement.” I’m no expert myself on what that all entails, but I’ve been told by several CPAs that Ligonier’s payroll figures for Sproul/Dick family members are way out of line and that it’s just a matter of time before they get nailed for it. That’s the “legal” side of it.

    Here’s the biblical side of it. To what are we to compare the “double” of the honor? The “honor” is clearly more than just some intangible aspect of respect, although that no doubt is part of it. But the honor is also physical, in terms of the elder’s earthly provisions, because it’s put in the context of “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.”

    I don’t agree the “double honor” applies to Sproul’s Ligonier salary. But for the sake of argument let’s just say that it does (after all, Sproul’s defenders claim that it does). So to extrapolate “double honor” do we take the mean average of all Ligonier donors and double it? If not then what do we compare it too? It seems to me that this is the only logical comparison to be made.

    The current mean average American family income is somewhere around $64,000. I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with agreeing that Sproul’s total income could ethically be around $120,000. But Sproul’s actual income is at least 3 to 4 times that $120,000 figure.

    The defenders of Sproul’s outrageous “compensation” should really try and come up with something a whole lot better than quoting 1 Tim 5:17, because quite obviously what we’re talking about here is dramatically more than just a “double honor.”

    My own position is that 1 Tim 5:17 doesn’t have anything at all to do with Sproul’s Ligonier compensation because Ligonier isn’t a church and Sproul isn’t an elder at Ligonier. It does however apply to Sproul’s position at Saint Andrews Chapel and his six figure income from there.

    For Sproul’s defenders to claim that “double honor” even means what they claim it does causes me to wonder if they’re capable of exegeting the Word for themselves at all, or if the only opinions they have are those that Sproul first told them. In order to be “double” it would obviously need to be in comparison to something or someone else, and in the context of the passage “double honor” obviously means that we show “double honor” to church elders in comparison to the honor that we show widows. This is confirmed by Calvin:

    For preserving the good order of the Church, it is likewise highly necessary that elders should not be neglected, but that due regard should be paid to them; for what could be more unfeeling than to have no care about those who have the care of the whole Church?…
    But for my own part, I think it is more probable that a comparison is here drawn between widows and elders. Paul had formerly enjoined that honor should be paid — to widows; but elders are more worthy of being honored shall widows, and, with respect to them, ought therefore to receive double honor.

    Putting this in the context of Saint Andrews Chapel (rather than Ligonier) I have no idea even Saint Andrews Chapel even has any widows that they are financially supporting, but if they do then apparently they need to be supporting them to the tune of at least $50,000 a year, since Sproul’s Saint Andrews Chapel salary is well in excess of $100,000 (of course I’m being facetious when I say this).

    The fact is there’s only one reason that RC Sproul can get away with taking a six figure income from Saint Andrews Chapel for a part-time position. He’s a celebrity and he demands a celebrity’s pay.

  78. Jen says:

    All right, Frank, I’ll agree that we should separate RC’s “teaching elder” salary from his Ligonier salary, which should also be separated from his royalties and honorariums, which are honestly earned (I hope we agree so far).

    So, is RC’s “double honor” teaching elder salary really unrealistic? I don’t think so. It may be more than some other teaching elders, but it is a salary that is obviously supported by St. Andrews members, both through their tithes and their very presence. But if we look at his teachings in comparison to other teaching elders, we would have to say that his St. Andrews salary is not so outrageous.

    As far as his taking money from Ligonier donors, here is where we strongly agree. Yes, this is a not-for-profit organization, so RC really should not be “profiting” from this ministry, both legally and Scripturally. RC really is greedy in taking the amount of money he does — not only for himself, but for his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law. I think this is where your focus started, and I think this is where it needs to remain.

    When I give money to a ministry, I am doing so in the belief that it will be used for ministry, not mansions. When I worked for that pregnancy center, we were always extremely careful with every penny we spent, saying that it was not our money, but the donors had entrusted it to us to use for ministry. You know, the more I think about this, I would consider this almost a form of stealing. I gave lots of money to Ligonier Ministry with the expectation that they were using it for ministry purposes. Now I find out that a great deal of it was being used for personal greed. Not using my donated funds for the intended purpose is stealing from the trust I placed in Ligonier to use my money wisely.

    In summary, if RC is worthy of double honor at St. Andrews, and he earns royalties and honorariums fairly, it would stand to reason that he really doesn’t need any compensation from Ligonier.

  79. William says:

    Douglas,

    I think those are well-stated points. You rightly reveal weaknesses in my response.

    William

  80. I was wondering says:

    No I said “I don’t believe you should be paid an enormous salary for just showing up on Sunday and preaching”. RC is a teacher not a pastor. A pastor lives it, hopefully.

  81. jimmy olsen says:

    Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23 NIV)

    The overwhelming concern here seems to be the letter of the law…how much should a pastor be paid? How legal is it to sue a believer or unbeliever? Is it right to lay off an employee while giving yourself a raise?

    How about this question, if the others are so controversial…Have those accused here shown a consistent practice of justice, mercy and faithfulness?

    Try to read the following without prejudice:

    Don Kistler was laid off after suffering a stroke, without any severance benefits
    Tim Dick has sued a professing believer, used ministry resources to do so, has not apologized for doing this and retains the right to bring suit again
    Employees were told to lie about the law suit
    and another side note…On September 11, 2001 – 2 employees were laid off from Ligonier.

    Jesus commands us to love God and love others as ourselves. That commandment covers everyone in the body of Christ – whether an employee of non-profit, church, business, or a homeless guy on the street. If we are not loving our brothers, how will they know you are Christ’s disciples? And love does not mean excusing the pattern of behavior in another Christian that is clearly exhibiting a disobedient, unteachable and unrepentant spirit.

  82. Bill (and others have said):
    “My information may be out of date, but I believe Dr. MacArthur’s book royalties are “plowed back into the ministry.”

    What evidence do you have that Dr. MacArthur (or RC Sproul, according to another’s comment) takes no royalties? From my research, I’ve found that many take no royalties when purchased from their ministries, but they do get royalties when purchased elsewhere, such as through bookstores and Amazon.com . This income is not, and can’t, be tracked by their ministry. Anyway, I was told specifically that in the case of Hank Hanegraaff of CRI (Christian Research Institute) by Paul Young, the Vice President of CRI. I think it’s common practice… and scammy…

    Scammy, because they write it on company time and market it for free through the donor-sponsored air-time and platform.

  83. Always Batya says:

    Bernie wrote: From my research, I’ve found that many take no royalties when purchased from their ministries, but they do get royalties when purchased elsewhere, such as through bookstores and Amazon.com . This income is not, and can’t, be tracked by their ministry.”

    Wouldn’t this be treated as self employment income just like payments from Rental property? Perhaps the author sets up an LLC or something for the royalty checks from the publisher. My guess is they sell many more books in bookstores and on Amazon than from their own ministry.

    But, I agree that they get free marketing from donor money. It really is a tangled web.

    At my former mega, anyone on staff who wrote a book (and many did) had to agree the church would receive the royalties. This was because they were employed by the church while writing. It was not always this way. It got to be a problem because several books became best sellers in the Christian world. It got out of hand so they came up with this policy. Can you imagine how out of hand it gets in a non profit ministry?

  84. I made a follow-up blog article in case your readers are interested:

    “Ministerial Financial Abuse”
    http://www.freegoodnews.com/2006/12/reformation_min.html

    Excerpt:
    “What can a Pastor or senior Christian in a ministry do if he wants to hide all his finances? Just hide it under a “church” … That’s what Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio did. Pastor Hagee learned it from others, such as Benny Hinn, TD Jakes, Rick Warren, Greg Laurie, and Bill Bright (the photo’s to the left, names listed in the order they appear).”

    …Bernie

  85. Always Batya said (regarding royalties that authors make from Amazon.com, etc.):
    “Wouldn’t this be treated as self employment income just like payments from Rental property?”

    From my discussion with Paul Young at CRI, I got the feeling these ministries “don’t know and don’t care” how much royalties are paid to the authors when people buy the books from other places besides the ministry.

    I’m sure there’s a lot of things one could do if one was interested in being above-board– there’s also lots one can do to skirt the laws or just meet the bare minimum letter-of-the-law rather than the spirit-of-the-law (so what’s most important is the heart and attitude).

    So how much does Rick Warren (for example) make from royalties? I think no one knows but his wife and accountant. But, keep in mind that he donates millions of dollars, and his donations are a fraction of his income. Exactly how much, no one knows… I don’t think he wants people to know about the millions of dollars on personal income he gets from his books. … and yes, I do know that he does so-called “reverse-tithing”… or claims to, anyway…

    …Bernie

  86. Diane says:

    I read Bernie’s blog on “Ministerial Financial Abuse” with interest. I think there is a lot of merit to his suggested “fixes” – but some risk to “real” churches. I thought of the wheat and tares parable and how they grow up together. To pull up the tares is to injure the wheat and I’m afraid that would be inevitable. On a lighter note, I must confess that the wheat and tares analogy didn’t occur to me until I’d first thought about suggesting Bernie’s solution to the new Dem. Congress – they’re determined to raise tax revenues so they might just jump on this. That’s when it occurred to me that they probably wouldn’t be too discerning in the matter and may just wipe out all tax-exemptions for all churches. Maybe we need to leave it to the only truly just Judge. Meanwhile, please keep us informed on these issues in order that we can make informed decisions as to where to give our hard and honestly earned dollars.


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