Kevin Swanson and RC Sproul Jr Team Up to Offend Home SchoolersPosted: August 11, 2006 Filed under: Homeschool, Kevin Swanson, RC Sproul Jr 10 Comments
As a home school father I’ve attended with my family various book fairs and home school conferences, so it’s inevitable that somewhere along the line we would have heard RC Sproul Jr speak. I’ll have to admit that I liked what I heard. In fact I was really impressed by what Mr. Sproul shared. He seemed sincere. But my life experience has also taught me that talk is cheap and that there are many preachers that don’t practice what they preach. That’s certainly proven to be the case with RC Sproul Jr. If Sproul were a man that practiced what he preached he never would have managed to get himself defrocked.
In the time since Sproul’s defrocking he’s come up regularly as a topic of discussion in our local home school group as well as our church. We’ve had some lively discussions. Some families initially were very supportive of him and critical of the RPCGA for having defrocked him. Some believed that the CREC would “clear RC Sproul Jr’s name.” But it didn’t work out that way. If Doug Wilson and the CREC weren’t capable of clearing Sproul’s name then no one ever will.
At this point everybody in our home school group has come to realize that RC Sproul Jr deserved being defrocked. Now our only remaining concern is when will Sproul get the hint and take up another line of work?
There remain a few Sproul diehards, men who are fiercely loyal, largely because they’re close personal friends of Sproul. They’re the kind of men who’ll put personal friendship above principle. They’re so loyal to Sproul that they’ll even jeopardize the credibility of the Christian home school movement to defend their pal. Among them are Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips and Kevin Swanson.
It’s taken a number of years and a lot of hard work for home schoolers to establish credibility. That credibility was earned long before lads like Sproul and Phillips and Swanson arrived on the scene to mass market their wares. The old-timer home school leaders didn’t home school to make a buck. Some of today’s home school leaders smell a buck and are cashing in. With that kind of leadership there’s just bound to be compromising.
The last thing the home schooling community needs is compromised men lousing things up for us. It’s not just RC Sproul Jr who’s lousing up the credibility of home schoolers everywhere. By stubbornly and obstinately (and blindly) supporting the defrocked Sproul, Doug Wilson, Doug Phillips and Kevin Swanson are also lousing up our credibility as home schoolers.
On February 23 I emailed Kevin Swanson, who’s the director of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC), over my concerns that CHEC had a defrocked minister listed as their keynote speaker for their big summer conference. Given that almost a month had passed since RC Sproul Jr’s defrocking on January 26 it seemed to me that they’d had plenty of time to get the news and decide whether or not they were going to keep him on the roster. I wanted to know what their plans were, and I wasn’t the only one. Everyone in our home school group wanted to know too:
I write to you because of our common interest and support of home schooling, and for maintaining the purity and peace of the church. Our rather large family is grateful to you and CHEC for the what you represent and the work you do. We’re starting to have some successes in our own little church with convincing other families of the importance of home education, but it hasn’t been easy to break through the ingrained statist traditions.
Now we’ve run into a snag, and I’m sad to say that the public impression you and your organization are making is part of our problem. It’s been brought to our attention that you are hosting a home school conference, as well as a family conference, that RC Sproul, Jr. is also a speaker at. Since you’re probably acquainted with Mr. Sproul, Jr. I need not point out to you that he was recently deposed from office by his Presbyterian denomination, the RPCGA.
We are Reformed and would probably be in a Presbyterian church, if there were any good ones around us. We have high regard for Presbyterian government, and so do most Presbyterians. It’s not a minor thing for a Presbyterian denomination to defrock one of their own Elders, and as I understand it the charges against him were grievous in nature.
Just as troubling is the fact that Mr. Sproul, Jr. appears to be functioning in open rebellion to the denomination that stripped him of his ordination by continuing to serve as “Elder,” merely by the majority vote of his own congregation. Even though we’re not Presbyterians ourselves, we know better than that, and certainly Mr. Sproul Jr knows better too. As a Presbyterian minister yourself I’m sure you’re well aware that Mr. Sproul Jr has no authority to call himself a “pastor.” Why then are you advertising him as “a pastor of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church in Southwest Virginia” for your Renewing the Family Conference?
What we can’t comprehend is why are you having a defrocked man speak at your conferences at all? How can you do such a thing? We don’t know if you’re asking Mr. Sproul Jr to speak at your conferences merely because you’re friends, but if that’s the case you should know better than to allow your personal friendships to trump your own principles.
It’s impossible for me to explain what you’re doing to our friends at church, including to those who have expressed an interest in home schooling and are now checking it out, to our homeschool group, and the incredible confusion you’re causing us. None of us can figure it out. It looks bad because it is bad, and it’s made worse by the fact that you haven’t made any public statements on your blog, or anywhere else that we’ve seen.
Perhaps you haven’t bothered to read the public documents on the defrocking of RC Sproul, Jr. Perhaps you believe by neglecting to do so you can avoid having to make a determination about what your moral obligations are. If that’s so then I’m even more disillusioned and disappointed, because that would be a matter of willful ignorance.
This isn’t a minor issue. It’s a matter of being consistent with what you publicly state about the values you claim to hold dear. I’d really like to know what you’re thinking about all this. Please do respond at your earliest convenience.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
To his credit Mr. Swanson did respond:
We too are concerned about RC Jr, and the situation relating to the RPCGA…
Here are several notes to be made, and lessons we have learned thus far from this sad situation.
1. We solicited RC’s participation and advertised his participation in our events prior to knowing anything whatsoever about any “trouble in River City.”
2. We do not require a man to be a pastor to be a speaker for our events.
3. I trust you have called R.C. Jr., and you have been in contact with the Presbytery of the RPCGA handling this over the last week or two, and you know that he has been “deposed without sanctions.” Our OPC Book of Church Order indicates this as a legitimate way to remove a man from office. This is done for “reasons other than delinquency in faith or life.” Please reference F.O.G. XXVI.2, 3
4. We have learned to never trust the ever-present bloggers with agendas. The “Flesh” is horrifically present on the web and pours out like a sewer into the minds and hearts of thousands (especially within the reformed world).
5. Presently, we are in a bit of holding pattern, as we are concerned about the way conflicts are handled in the reformed world, and the presence of flesh everywhere we look. We are studying the case, and whereas we cannot try the case in a formal judicial setting, we hope to gain some wisdom as to how we can arrange a future relationship with RC Jr.
In short, our session of elders are grieved.
I do thank you for taking the time to communicate with us and I wish God’s blessing on your family.
Dear Pastor Swanson,
Thank you sir for your prompt and gracious reply. This is indeed a very sad situation.
I quite agree with your analysis of various blog commentary. Yes, there’s a lot of derogatory things I’ve seen as well. But I’m equally concerned about the propensity of some to want to just sweep it all under the carpet.
I’m equally concerned about the issue of homeschool groups and others hosting a newly defrocked minister for speaking engagements. I think it sends the wrong message, a stamp of approval if you will. It’s also causing a lot of people a lot of confusion. We can’t help but look to pastors as moral leaders, and when our moral leaders fail to act decisively and consistently with the judgment of a Presbyterian denomination that, for the most part, appears to be widely respected, it can’t helped but cause a lot of disillusionment.
Being deposed as an Elder is no minor thing, irrespective of whether or not it was done “without sanctions,” as you say. Before you draw conclusions about that though I’d recommend you study the RPCGA’s BCO, as have I. I don’t think you’ll find similar language in there. They seem to treat deposing itself as a very serious “sanction,” about as serious a sanction as it gets for a minister.
In trying to sort this all out (which is one reason I went to all the trouble of reading the BCO) I’ve tried to stay away from the blogs and rely instead on the RPCGA’s own official documents. The only place I’ve found them thus far is at http://hushmoney.org/RC_Sproul_Jr-defrocking-docs.htm
If you haven’t reviewed them I would urge you to do so.
Thank you Pastor Swanson for demonstrating that you are indeed concerned over this matter, as are we. You and your church will be in our prayers, as we know that you have some very difficult decisions to make.
Thank you for having taken the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me.
It turns out that I was completely wrong to have thanked Kevin Swanson for “demonstrating that you are indeed concerned over this matter, as are we.”
In the end my concerns, and the concerns he heard from others as well, didn’t in any way serve to dissuade Kevin Swanson. He and his CHEC board of directors went forward with their decision to have RC Sproul Jr speak at their Denver home schooling convention. Swanson’s friendship with RC Sproul Jr is more important to Kevin Swanson than maintaining the integrity and reputation of Christian home schooling.
I’ve heard several reports that numerous CHEC members are very displeased with their board of directors, and in particular with Kevin Swanson. Swanson should think seriously about stepping down as director for CHEC.
There’s another chapter to this story, but I’ll save that for another day.