Monday, December 02, 2019

Ligonier Ministries Still Paying RC Sproul Jr Big Money

On December 12, 2016 Ligonier Ministries posted an announcement that RC Sproul Jr had resigned from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College. Ligonier was anything but forthcoming when they said he'd resigned "for personal reasons." Ligonier's Facebook announcement wasn't the least bit honest about it either.

Initially many Ligonier supporters and RC Jr well-wishers speculated the reason he'd resigned had something to do with RC Jr's 2015 Ashley Madison account scandal. Ligonier made no effort to correct those false assumptions. They left their supporters in the dark. Even on a practical level coverups are seldom a good idea. But coverups are especially stupid for donor-funded ministries. Indeed, Ligonier's plans to keep it hush-hush quickly evaporated.

The week following Ligonier's sketchy announcement the Christian press reported RC Jr had been arrested on November 29 for drunk driving This looked especially bad not only because of his exceedingly drunken condition (.175 BAC) but because he had two of his minor children in the car. Ligonier's coverup of the matter didn't help their reputation either. RC Jr pled not guilty but ultimately negotiated a plea bargain in which he pled guilty to one of four counts against him. He avoided the expense of a criminal trial he was bound to lose, as well as the 7 years of prison time and $21,000 in fines he was facing. But his plea deal forever marked him as a felon.

Ligonier Ministries has a long history of nepotism and rewarding family members with lavish salaries they never genuinely worked for or honestly earned. Worse yet Ligonier rewards family members for conduct that only warrants discipline. A prime example is RC Sproul Jr (not to mention former Ligonier President/CEO Tim Dick).

We were the first to expose that RC Sproul Jr's suspension from Ligonier Ministries over his Ashley Madison debacle wasn't punishment but a reward disguised as "discipline." RC Sproul Jr was suspended for a year with pay, all at the expense of Ligonier Ministry donors. RC Jr was given the equivalent of a one-year paid vacation for having caused a scandal. Ligonier quietly reinstated him July 1, 2016. RC Jr's drunk driving arrest came barely five months thereafter.

When RC Sproul Jr resigned "for personal reasons" we publicly speculated that he'd soon receive a severance package, and very likely a substantial one. With the release of Ligonier's 2016 tax returns one year later our suspicions were again proven valid.

Ligonier Ministries failed to disclose any details in their tax returns of what RC Jr's severance payment(s) amounted to, and as the law requires they do. Were the payment a modest one there would be no logical reason to conceal or evade reporting it. One is left to assume RC Jr's severance payment was quite substantial, likely in the six-figures.

We've also speculated in prior articles that Ligonier Ministries would continue throwing its donor money at RC Sproul Jr long after his resignation, but that they'd probably wait a year for the dust to settle so as to not precipitate another Sproul family scandal. For example we speculated Ligonier would hire RC Sproul Jr as an independent contractor to the tune of six-figures, but that they'd do so on the down-low. With the release of Ligonier Ministries' 2018 tax returns our suspicions have, once again, proven valid.

Ligonier Ministries' 2018 990 tax returns show that Ligonier paid RC Sproul Jr $106,017.00 in "Royalties a." This appears to be a not-so clever way of disguising that the vast majority of the figure has nothing to do with royalties. Even prior to his scandals RC Sproul Jr has never received but scant royalties from Ligonier, and with his later scandals his book sales have diminished all the more:
2011: $1976
2012: $1959
2013: unreported
2014: $1,635
2015: $1,809
2016: $1380

With his drunk driving conviction RC Sproul Jr's book sales suffered a dramatic decline and his royalties along with it. In 2017 RC Sproul Jr received only $728 in "accrued royalties."

It would appear the vast majority of the $106,017 paid to RC Jr in 2018 were independent contractor payments which Ligonier Ministries has very creatively conflated with "royalty" payments. It would seem Ligonier may be desirous of concealing all this from their donors. 

Why would Ligonier do this? For one thing disclosure might create yet another Ligonier scandal, such as the one they created over their lawsuit against "Frank Vance." Also, it's unlikely that RC Jr can substantiate over $100K in actual expended labor. Working that hard and putting in those kind of hours would be inconsistent with his work ethic. If RC Jr did perform $100K worth of actual labor and services he'd be able to readily document it, just as every one of Ligonier's other independent contractors has, no doubt, done.

There is even the possibility that Ligonier Ministries has committed tax fraud by concealing and misreporting independent contractor payments as "royalties." We hope that's not the case, or if it is the case that it was done unintentionally. However, after reviewing it a CPA friend told us, "At the very least it's highly irregular."

We're the first to admit there might be an innocent explanation for at least a portion of this. For example the "royalties" being reported might have been royalties due and owing to RC Sproul Sr that RC Sproul Jr received in 2018 as part of an inheritance. Vesta Sproul was also paid royalties in 2018. Intellectual property rights can be bequested via will or trust. If that's the case here then our CPA friend informs us Ligonier still didn't report it correctly. Furthermore, there is still the matter of RC Jr's independent contractor compensation. Why is it being conflated with royalties? Again, this is highly irregular and potentially intended to conceal wrongdoing.

This all raises some important questions:
  • What specific documented tasks is RC Sproul Jr performing as an independent contractor for Ligonier Ministries?
  • What is the hourly rate or fee schedule that RC Sproul Jr charges Ligonier Ministries?
  • How many hours has RC Sproul Jr actually worked for Ligonier Ministries?
  • Has RC Sproul Jr submitted detailed and itemized invoices to Ligonier Ministries as the law requires and as Ligonier Ministries' other independent contractors do?
  • Are RC Jr's invoices available to Ligonier Ministry donors for review?
  • Is RC Sproul Jr performing services for Ligonier Ministries that even remotely approaches the dollar value of his invoices or is this just another RC Jr scam?
  • For how many more years will RC Sproul Jr enjoy the largesse that comes from his family connections and nepotism?  
  • How long will Ligonier donors be saddled with financially supporting RC Sproul Jr's gravy train?

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Saturday, October 19, 2019

RC Sproul Jr and Child Abuse Allegations

In 1989 RC Sproul Jr began working for his father's Ligonier Ministries in Orlando, Florida. Then in 1996, after moving to Meadowview, Virginia, Sproul Jr launched his pastoral career. There he founded The Highlands Study Center. Around the same time he also founded St. Peter Presbyterian Church. It all started as a study group in his home. The functions and activities of St. Peter and HSC were so conflated it was almost impossible for anyone to determine where the one ended and the other began. This was also true of the finances, the two being routinely co-mingled, ultimately winding up in Sproul's back pocket.

It's been alleged by some that because there was seldom any actual "study" or "students" at The Highlands Study Center (one of the few "student" exceptions being the serial pedophile Steven Sitler¹) the primary purpose of HSC was a fundraising boondoggle for RC Sproul Jr. Indeed, Sproul Jr profited handsomely off donations to HSC to the tune of six-figures annually. RC Jr's financial success never correlated with his work ethic (which bears no resemblance to his father's work ethic). Rather, donations poured in largely because of his name, or rather his father's name.

While pastoring St. Peter Presbyterian Church and heading up The Highlands Study Center (subsequently renamed Highlands Ministries), RC Sproul Jr was a practitioner and proponent of the "infant training" theories taught by Gary Ezzo.

On Becoming Babywise: More Than a Survival Guide, was published in 1993. Baby Wise gained popularity among authoritarian "full-quiver" homeschooling Christian Patriarchy leaders such as Bill Gothard, Michael Pearl, Doug Phillips, and RC Sproul Jr. Outside those circles, however, Gary Ezzo was widely condemned, especially among pediatricians and other baby experts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warned against the book, stating that its advice could result in infant development problems such as dehydration, poor weight gain, slow growth, delayed development and failure to thrive, as well as lack of milk supply in the new mother and involuntary weaning of the infant. The Babywise series of books was observed to be in direct contradiction to the AAP's own policy statement, 'Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk,' which recommends 8–12 nursing sessions every 24 hours for newborns, feeding until the baby is sated. (On Becoming Baby Wise)
Gary Ezzo had no training in pediatrics, infant care, nursing, health care, or did he ever work in any capacity that could qualify him as having any baby expertise of any kind. Gary Ezzo is, however, a graduate of Talbot Theological Seminary. He subsequently worked on staff at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church, holding the position of "Pastor, Family Ministries" (1985-1993) and taught a Sunday school class for parents. Gary and his wife Anne Marie published several papers and books on parenting which initially received official support from GCC. The Ezzos soon began ridiculing mothers at church for comforting their children, allowing babies to "control their own feeding schedule," and mothers using baby sling carriers. The Ezzo's teachings ultimately caused such a rift in the church that by 1997 GCC reversed their position and banned the books. John MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church owned their mistake and repented to their congregation. A number of other prominent Christian leaders have likewise renounced Gary Ezzo and Babywise. However, RC Sproul Jr never did renounce Gary Ezzo's Baby Wise teachings.

As everyone who has ever had a baby knows, babies are a joy, but they can also prove quite inconvenient. For one thing babies can cost parents, and especially moms, lost sleep. The objective of Baby Wise is to eliminate those inconveniences and give parents a restful night's sleep. The program promises to have baby sleeping through the night within 8 weeks. Baby Wise also promised to keep babies "well-behaved" when out in public. Conditioning the baby in this way promises that as they grow into a toddler, an adolescent, and then a teenager, the child will remain docile, compliant and obedient. Given the challenges and difficult schedules of tending to little ones it's no wonder that what Gary Ezzo promised might be appealing to certain parents, especially those obsessed with control. However, the "training" comes at the emotional and psychological expense of the child. It's all about control through breaking the will of the child. In their view any form of willfulness is sinfulness.

Baby Wise ignores the fact that a baby's physical and emotional needs (eating, sleeping, diaper changes, comforting, etc.) often don't coincide with their parents' personal convenience. A developing child's sense of security comes from their parents. If the parents refuse to provide reassurance of security then that child is left with none.

There are multiple troubling aspects to Baby Wise, but two of the more disturbing are "blanket training" and "self-comfort." Many critics of Baby Wise have characterized it as child abuse dressed up in religious rhetoric. Blanket training is also promoted by Michael and Debbie Pearl in their book, To Train Up A Child (1994). It's often been alleged that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar practiced blanket training and that some of the Duggar kids who have since grown, married, and have children of their own, are now practicing blanket training themselves.

What follows is the eye-witness account of how blanket training and self-comfort was carried out in the Sproul home by RC Sproul Jr:
Ghirard Says:

We were there in the early years of St. Peter Presbyterian Church. RC would sometimes invite families to his home for a meal, not so much for the regular folks, but if you were big donors to the church and Highlands Study Center like we were. We saw at least three horrible things that night. The first was the “blanket training”. We’d never seen anything like it before and hope to never have to see it again. It involved RC placing his baby girl on a blanket and every time the baby crawled off the blanket RC would hit the baby with a wooden spoon. This happened repeatedly while we were in the living room with RC while Denise was in the kitchen making supper. All the baby was trying to do was get close to her siblings playing there in the living room. But RC just kept hitting her. RC explained that he was “breaking the will of the child.” He got his goal because the baby got exhausted from her own crying and fell asleep on the blanket. Not once did he ever comfort her after he hit her. He called it “self comforting” and explained that you shouldn’t comfort a crying child because children are manipulative and if you comfort them they’ll get the idea that they’re in charge.

The baby woke up about the same time as Denise called us to supper. RC laid the baby on her back on the blanket and put one of those baby gym entertainment things there over the baby for her to play with. While we were all at the dinner table the baby started screaming. Denise tried to go and comfort the baby but RC sternly told her, “Sit down Denise”. The baby screamed and screamed for the longest time. It was awful to have to listen to. Finally RC got up to check on the baby. He was very angry. Then we heard him say, “Oh, I see what’s wrong.” He came back and explained that the baby gym had fallen over onto her face and she couldn’t get it off her. The screams had been screams of terror, cries for help, but RC ignored them and stopped Denise from helping.

I don’t know what to call it but child abuse. He never comforted the baby and he wouldn’t allow Denise to either. Most people would look at the Sproul children and say, oh they’re so well behaved. If the only goal of blanket training and refusing to comfort your children is to get them to behave themselves then RC has done a great job as a father. I can’t believe that his children feel that their father loves them though. I’ve often thought about the severe psychological problems his children must suffer from today.
Ghirard's comment is backed up by an additional eye witness account from Lindt. In addition to the blanket training Ghirard and Lindt also speak of RC Sproul Jr spanking his first wife, Denise. This article will only address the blanket training (the wife spanking allegations were addressed by Spiritual Sounding Board. We may also address the wife spanking issue in a future article, but readers are welcome to comment on it themselves below).

Blanket training is sometimes called "playpen in a purse." In other words the "playpen" is a small blanket mom can carry in her purse when she takes baby out in public. There are varying degrees of severity used to enforce the "boundaries" of the "playpen." Some of them are downright loony. It starts with placing baby on a small blanket on the floor, verbally threatening baby while hitting the floor with a wooden kitchen spoon and yelling, "Stay on the blanket!" This communicates baby's "boundaries." Some babies will respect the boundaries by only being yelled at. However, many other babies will quickly forget their boundaries and wander off the blanket. For those babies more severe consequences are encouraged.

After initial success in blanket training your baby you take it to the next level by tempting baby off the blanket with a treat or toy. When baby crawls for the toy you yell "No!" and hit the floor with the wooden spoon. In other words you are encouraged to gaslight your baby.

Threats, yelling and tempting is the tamer version of blanket training. With RC Sproul Jr and many other practitioners of blanket training they go immediately to smacking baby with the wooden kitchen spoon when baby crawls off the blanket. In their view no age is too young to begin administering corporal punishment. Michael and Debbie Pearl even acknowledged in their book to switching their 4-month old baby, and they seem quite proud of it too.

Baby Wise also teaches "self-comfort." What this entails is anytime baby cries you don't pick baby up and comfort it. You just let baby cry and cry until it stops crying, usually falling asleep from exhaustion. You do the same if baby wakes up in the middle of the night crying, whether it be from hunger, needing a diaper change, or otherwise. You just ignore baby and let baby cry themselves back to sleep. "Self-comfort" wasn't invented by RC Jr but he was one of its Baby Wise practitioners. Self-comfort has also been routinely practiced by many other Gary Ezzo devotees.

On a purely practical level the blanket training and self-comfort "worked" for RC Sproul Jr. Any casual observer would look at RC Jr's children and see they were "good kids." Always well behaved, quiet, obedient and submissive. He was proud about how his well-behaved children made him look good in public. When other parents would comment and ask what he'd done to train them to be so well-behaved he'd let them know about Baby Wise. But all that "training" came at the expense of having their wills broken from the time they were babies. It's hard to imagine that any baby subjected to such emotional and physical abuse wouldn't be deeply traumatized by it.
In our view blanket training and self-comfort are, plainly put, child abuse. RC Sproul Jr has never repented to his children for physically and psychologically abusing them. Nor has RC Jr repented to the parents whom he instructed and encouraged, both in word and by his example, to likewise perpetrate blanket training and self-comfort against their own babies. It stands to reason that RC Jr hasn't repented of it because he has no remorse for it. That assumption seems all the more valid in light of recent allegations that RC Jr continues abusing his children.

In March of this year RC Sproul Jr and wife Lisa Sproul were publicly accused by Lisa's daughter of physical, verbal and emotional abuse against Sproul's three minor children:
Sarah Michelle Kelley "I am Lisa's second oldest daughter. They are currently under investigation with the Department of Child Services as well right now... trust me- there will be legal action... They are very physically abusive, and even more verbally/emotionally abusive. We have encouraged as many people as possible to please call the child abuse hotline , and we will not stop until alI 3 children in the home are gone.  * this is all coming from them, and we are their voices"
Sarah Kelley is the same daughter that also outed RC Jr for taking her mother's opioids, allegedly popping some the same night that he'd been arrested for drunk driving with two of his minor children in the car. He blew a .175 on the breathalyzer (more than twice the legal limit). But for a chronic daily abuser of alcohol like Sproul, even this high level doesn't account for the magnitude of his inebriated condition, as described in the police report. It seemed as though he was far more drunk than a .175 BAC would account for. Had the police drawn blood and checked for drugs they would have discovered that RC Sproul Jr wasn't merely drunk, he was also stoned on opioids.

In addition to the current allegations of child abuse going on in the Sproul home, RC Jr and Lisa Sproul are guilty of perpetrating another form of child abuse -- family alienation. RC Jr has cut himself off from all his adult children, all of whom are happily married with children of their own. This means he's also cut himself off from his own grandchildren, and this with his wife's encouragement. They also forbid any contact between RC's minor children and their older siblings, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, or other relatives (the comment thread in one of our previous articles prompted a great deal of discussion about that). 

Immediately prior to the release of RC Jr's latest book, his daughter Darby Sproul Stouffer posted the following on her Facebook:
 "This book is coming out in May. Please do not buy it. My father (RC Jr) is an unrepentant abusive narcissist who is estranged from everyone who used to be his friend and even all of his family outside of his wife and minor children. Just wanted to give a general heads up. Feel free to let others know as well if they mention being interested in it. There is so much more info than just what I’ve shared here, I’m just trying to be concise." 
All of RC Jr's adult children are members in good standing of Reformed Presbyterian churches. Considering all the trauma and abuse they've been subjected to they've remained remarkably restrained in their comments about their disgraced father. But the little they have said is troubling, and it's also consistent with other reports.

Family alienation, though tragic, isn't uncommon even among Christians. Were RC Sproul Jr merely your average church member and his vocation was an insurance salesman, a realtor, a used car salesman, etc. none of this would be worthy of blogging about. But RC Jr is far more than that. He holds himself out to be a "Pastor" and "Rev." He's therefore placed himself under a "stricter judgment" (James 3:1). How did he become a pastor? He declared it to be so. Oh, and his wife Lisa Sproul agrees with him about that. RC Sproul Jr fails every single biblical test for being a pastor (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 1 Peter 5:1-4). Let's just take one of them: he "Must manage his own household well" (1 Tim. 3:4). Why is that important? "For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?" (1 Tim 3:5)

It should, therefore, surprise no one that RC Jr cared for his church, both before and after his defrocking, in very much the same manner as he cared for his household -- autocratically and abusively. From 1996-2006 he routinely threatened members with "discipline." Everyone understood that meant excommunication and shunning, and it could happen for nothing more than disagreeing with him, or for leaving his church and joining another church without his permission. The problem is he made it exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to obtain that permission. St. Peter Presbyterian Church was routinely referred to as a "cult" by other churches in the area. It was referred to as "The Hotel California" -- You can check in anytime you want, but you can never leave. Ghirard too explicitly said that St. Peter church is a "CULT!" as have many former members who managed to escape.

By 2006 RC Jr's abusiveness caught up with him. Formal ecclesiastical charges were submitted against him to his Presbytery by more than a dozen former members. An investigation was made and resulted in his being defrocked from the ministry for spiritual abuse, tax ID fraud, identity theft, financial malfeasance and duplicity.
"The  consistent  pattern  of  actions  taken  by  these  men  are  duplicitous in nature, and demonstrate that they willingly and knowingly act in an arbitrary fashion in violation of their vows of ordination and in violation of our denomination’s Book of Church Order. Most importantly, their actions manifest that  they  lack  the  qualification  for  the  ministry  (1Timothy  3:1-7).  It  would  be  unwise to allow these men to continue to hold an office for which they are not qualified." Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly Declaratory Judgement
RC Sproul Jr, and his three yes-men elders, were deemed unfit and biblically disqualified for ministry in 2006. In more than a decade since that time has anything transpired demonstrating that RC Jr has made himself fit and biblically qualified for ministry? Quite the opposite. After his defrocking he refused to step down as pastor. Instead he orchestrated a congregational vote to have himself reinstated. His obsequious cult followers found themselves being rewarded by ever-increasing levels of tyrannical threats of church discipline. In the next few years Sproul excommunicated even far more families than he ever had previously. Eventually he'd kicked so many families to the curb there wasn't enough money coming in to maintain Sproul's six-figure salary. So in 2010 he left Virginia and went back to working for his father's Ligonier Ministries in Florida. Then in 2015 came the news of his Ashley Madison "Life is short, have an affair" scandal. By the following year he was arrested and criminally convicted for felony drunk driving (with two minor children in the car). In the ten years since his defrocking RC Sproul Jr only went from bad to worse.

RC Jr's 2006 defrocking proved that he uses confession and repentance for purely manipulative purposes. He's never repented to any of the St. Peter families he'd threatened, bullied and abused. The one "confession" he ever offered up was ultimately proven to be a sham intended to dupe his denomination into releasing him from their jurisdiction so he could avoid any further investigation and an impending ecclesiastical trial. He even duped his own father into believing that the charges against him were "fraudulent." Oddly enough those same charges were things RC Jr had only days prior "confessed" and "repented" of to his Presbytery. In doing so he played his father for the fool, deviously manipulating him so he could continue enjoying the perks and privileges that came to him via Ligonier Ministries.

RC Jr's Ashley Madison "confession" a decade later proves he still uses confession and repentance to manipulate and deceive. He's still playing the victim, and he's still telling lie upon lie to excuse himself.

From all the evidence of his life it would seem RC Sproul Jr is devoid of a conscience. It's for good reason so many have come to the conclusion that RC Sproul Jr is probably a sociopath. Our earnest prayer is that RC Jr will come to effectually experience the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in his life. His prideful egotistical heart needs to be humbled so he can confess and repent to the many people that he's bullied, abused, harmed and injured, starting with his own children.

Lastly RC Jr needs to come to his senses, cease masquerading as "Pastor" and "Rev" and seek honest employment for which he isn't biblically disqualified. We'll continue doing what we can through these exposés to dissuade him from his misguided ministry pursuits. However, we know RC Sproul Jr to be an exceedingly proud and stubborn man, so we're not hopeful of a happy outcome. What we are hopeful of accomplishing is convincing Christians to not lend any support to RC Sproul Jr. Our readers are encouraged to assist in that effort, as well as engage in further discussion, by linking this article, or any of our other articles, in their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts.

¹The Steven Sitler pedophile scandal, and RC Sproul Jr's direct involvement in it, is just another example of RC Jr's gross incompetence, selfishness, and total lack of regard for his responsibilities as a father and a pastor. Space doesn't permit delving into it here. However should we deem it needful we may publish an expose´ on that topic in the future.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2019

RC Sproul Jr Accuses God Of Creating Sin, Weaponizes Calvinism

RC Sproul Jr God created sin

Evangelical Christians generally agree with one another on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. However, many Evangelicals also divide into two camps, Calvinist and Arminian. Those positions largely center on the sovereignty of God vs. the free will of man. Debates between Calvinists and Arminians have, for the most part, been cordial. Occasionally, however, along comes some combative guy eager to provoke a fight in the midst of otherwise civil discourse. Such is the case with RC Sproul Jr. Throughout his "ministry career" Sproul has been an agent provocateur. Sproul thrills in igniting a dispute  like a pyromaniac thrills in setting a building ablaze just to watch it burn to the ground. With his book Almighty Over All; Understanding the Sovereignty Of God, RC Sproul Jr managed to push the entire debate of God's sovereignty vs. man's free will over the cliff into what Arminians and Calvinists alike generally characterize as heresy.

If, as Arminians believe, man is a libertarian free-will agent how far does his freedom extend in light of an omnipotent God? Is fallen sinful man, in all his pride, even capable of seeing his need of a Savior? If, as Calvinists assert, God is sovereign and man and the entire universe is subject to God's will, how far does that sovereignty extend? Is God's sovereignty total and absolute or is His sovereignty limited in certain respects? How does the Calvinist lay claim to God's sovereignty in His creation and yet at the same time assert that man is fully accountable and responsible for his sins? If God is sovereign did He ordain the fall of man? If God did ordain the fall of man, is it not logical to assert God must have created the sin by which man fell?

Reformed theologians have universally agreed that God is not the author of sin and, therefore, God could not have created sin. However, there is one noteworthy exception, RC Sproul Jr:

"I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that He created sin."

RC Sproul Jr, Almighty Over All (p. 54) (1999)

As though it weren't  outrageous enough that RC Sproul Jr accuses God of creating sin, he goes on to tell us that he knows not just why God did it but also God's very motive for creating sin. In other words RC Sproul Jr believes he can read God's mind. How does Sproul divine the mind of God? Not by wise and competent application of God's Word. Any scriptural references in Almighty Over All are few and far between, and that's also the case here. Sproul presumes to know the mind of God by relying almost exclusively on his own seriously flawed reasoning. Amazingly enough he does this in spite of issuing the warning, "Beware of trying to read God's mind." (p. 94) No surprise there though -- RC Sproul Jr is renowned for ignoring his own advice.

In light of what scripture has to say we find it incredibly arrogant and presumptuous of Sproul to think himself qualified at reading God's mind: "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34), and "For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Cor 2:11)

Given who his father is it's remarkable how RC Sproul Jr could have strayed so far from the doctrines of the Reformed faith. Reformed Calvinist scholar and theologian Dr. RC Sproul Sr stated the following:
"Herein lies the problem. Before a person can commit an act of sin he must first have a desire to perform that act. The Bible tells us that evil actions flow from evil desires. But the presence of an evil desire is already sin. We sin because we are sinners. We were born with a sin nature. We are fallen creatures. But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know." Chosen By God (p. 30, 1994)
These are complex issues and, we must admit, we feel ourselves less than qualified to address them as expertly as they deserve. The problem is that only a couple of scholars have directly confronted Almighty Over All and their efforts received limited attention. Few people took notice of RC Sproul Jr's book Almighty Over All when it came out some twenty years ago. Since that time Almighty Over All managed to largely avoid the critical review such a provocative publication otherwise warrants. We hope to change that. That said, this article isn't so much a book review as it is an exposé.

Wiser men, far more learned and formally schooled in theology than we are, have wrestled for centuries over these weighty issues. Their answers aren't always as satisfying as we might like. As J. Gresham Machen put it: "For both, the problem remains. How could a holy God, if he is all-powerful, have permitted the existence of sin? What shall we do with the problem? I am afraid we shall have to do with it something that is not very pleasing to our pride; I am afraid we shall just have to say that it is insoluble."

While Calvinists (and Arminians too, for that matter) don't argue that God permitted sin to enter the world, Calvinists flatly deny that God Himself was responsible for sin, let alone for creating sin. Calvinists claim God's absolute sovereignty while at the same time asserting He isn't responsible for sin. When demands are made to explain this seeming contradiction the standard reply is, "It's a mystery -- just another one of those topics that man in his finite knowledge can never fully comprehend or adequately explain about an infinite God." Arminians might call this a cop out, but the reality is Arminians are forced into giving the same explanation for the Trinity -- it's a mystery. Not everything about the nature of God can be explained by logic alone. Say what you will about Calvinists; one thing they're unwilling to do is accuse God of being the author of sin. They're willing to leave the issue a mystery.

However RC Sproul Jr isn't your stereotypical Calvinist. Nor is he his father's son. In his book Almighty Over All; Understanding the Sovereignty Of God RC Sproul Jr presumes to have solved the insoluble. In it Sproul makes some shocking claims, even abhorrent. Of those that have read it some have called Sproul's book heretical. Some even go so far as to label it blasphemous. Such criticism, however, has seldom been leveled by the Reformed, not because they agree with it but because they're probably embarrassed and would rather not draw attention to it.

In 2008 Paul Copan posted Taking Calvinism Too Far: R.C. Sproul Jr.’s Evil-Creating Deity. The article provoked some discussion, resulting in 245 reader comments. Unfortunately was subsequently abandoned and taken down. Then in 2010 Kenneth Keathley in his book Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach devoted several pages of critical examination to Almighty Over All. That examination, like this one, focused primarily on chapter 3, "Who Dunit," since it contains the most objectionable content of the entire book. 

Ironically enough Sproul received a smattering of praise from Arminians for Almighty Over All. Quite obviously they don't agree with Calvinism. What they do agree with is RC Sproul Jr's weaponized version of Calvinism. They commended Sproul for his eagerness to swing the pendulum of Calvinism to the extreme, something many Arminians have gleefully done themselves. RC Sproul Jr claims to be a Calvinist. Why would he use the same arguments for Calvinism that a good number of Arminians have used against Calvinism, arguments which Calvinist scholars argue is just reductio ad absurdum?

RC Sproul Jr makes God the author of sin, whereas scripture makes it abundantly clear that God is not the author of sin (James 1:13, 1 John 1:5). Sproul Jr's claims also contradict the Westminster Confession of Faith: "God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass (Rom 9:15, 18; 11:33; Eph 1:11; Heb 6:17); yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin (James 1:13, 17; 1 John 1:5), nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established (Prov 16:33; Mat 17:12; John 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28)." (WCF 3.1)

RC Sproul Jr's sin-creating deity conjecture also flies in the face of what his own father taught. In Chosen By God Dr. RC Sproul Sr wrote, "In spite of this excruciating problem we still must affirm that God is not the author of sin. The Bible does not reveal the answers to all our questions. It does reveal the nature and character of God. One thing is absolutely unthinkable, that God could be the author or doer of sin." (p 31)

How does RC Sproul Jr manage to go where angels fear to tread by accusing God of creating sin, making God the author of sin? To get there he first must set scripture aside. RC Jr's book is remarkably lacking in scriptural support, particularly in the creation account of Genesis. What little scripture he cites is often taken out of context. Instead of putting on a theologian's hat he puts on the hat of a crime detective as he attempts to deduce "Who Dunit?" Sproul Jr acknowledges he was heavily influenced by the Sherlock Holmes stories. "A crime is committed. A list of suspects is introduced, and then slowly that list is narrowed until the culprit is found. With careful logic Holmes investigates who had a motive, who had opportunity, and who had the means." (p. 43) Though inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, RC Jr falls far short of the sagacity of a Sherlock Holmes. Almighty Over All reads far more like a clumsily-written dime store crime fiction than a skillful work of theology.

In tackling such a heady subject RC Sproul Jr also relies on the 18th century philosopher and preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 1758). "Edwards' most enduring and influential work was his lengthy essay, 'The Freedom of the Will.' The argument he makes in this essay can be used to prove conclusively that Eve could not be the culprit, for she had not the means. The argument is surprisingly simple, Edwards wrote that all men everywhere always act according to their strongest inclination at a given time... Edwards was right; we always choose according to our strongest inclination given our choices." (p. 46, 47)

Jonathan Edwards was anything but your run-of-the-mill Calvinist. He was heavily influenced by Enlightenment philosophers. Edwards' views were idiosyncratic. Edwards was a "causal determinist" and some might go as far as to say he showed indications of being a "logical determinist." Edwards is most famous for his sermon Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God. It would appear Edwards' causal determinism had a significant influence in shaping RC Sproul Jr's thinking.

There is nothing inherently problematic about determinism in itself. Calvinists are determinists. But there are varying degrees of determinism, everything from biblical worldview Calvinists to humanists whose worldview is rooted exclusively in the laws of nature and human logic. Logical determinism goes much further than simple determinism in that it places logical necessity and the laws of nature in the preeminent role of deciphering the issues of life. Logical determinists would say God (if they believe in a deity at all) cannot act contrary to logical necessity. In the practical outworking of logical determinism everything, including scripture, is subordinate to logical necessity. In logical determinism there is no mystery because logic always provides the answer, even if that answer appears contrary to what we know of the divine attributes of God as articulated in scripture.

In Almighty Over All Sproul takes up Edwards' causal determinism and dismisses Eve from the "suspect list" of who is responsible for sin and the fall. "Remember God had earlier made a declaration concerning Eve: 'Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good' (Gen. 1:31) If Eve was good, this must mean that her inclination was only good... To be good is to have only good inclination, to have a good nature. And can someone who is good do bad?... She could not have changed her own inclination any more than a leopard can change its spots or a good tree can bear bad fruit. We must excuse Eve from our investigation. Something outside of her must have been the agent of change, that which changed her inclinations from good to bad. Though she was the one who first to ate of the tree, she cannot be the one who introduced evil into the world." (pp. 47, 48, 49)

Using the same line of reasoning Sproul dismisses Adam as the culprit and "he slips quickly off the suspect list." But it gets even more interesting.

Sproul doesn't even blame Satan. "While it is true that he was at the scene of the crime and had opportunity and a motive, he cannot be the culprit. Though the devil, unlike the rocks and trees, is personal, he too hasn't the power to change the inclination of humans. Though incredibly powerful, he is yet a creature. Though he can and does tempt and seduce, he always does so by appealing to our already twisted inclinations." (p. 50) "Like Adam and Eve, the devil was created good. There was a time when his desires were only to obey God. Blaming the devil does not ultimately help us in solving the mystery. The devil, as an angel of light, before his fall, could not have had the inclination to do evil either." (p. 51)

Through this Holmesian process of elimination RC Sproul Jr crosses every creature off the list of suspects, leaving only the Creator as "the culprit." God first created sin. Then God changed the inclinations of Adam and Eve from good to evil so they desired to sin. Moreover they didn't just desire sin, their inclination to sin was irresistible. Adam and Eve had no real choice but to sin because they had to act according to their strongest inclination. God determined that man would fall into sin, God then created sin, and He then gave man the irresistible inclination to sin to ensure the fall would happen. Rather than relying on the Word of God, RC Sproul Jr uses causal determinism to make his case that God is "the culprit" and the cause, for all of it. 

The question necessarily arises why would God do such a thing? What might be God's motive? This is where RC Sproul Jr goes even further off the rails by attempting to read God's mind. He asserts that God did all this so He could demonstrate one of His most important character attributes -- wrath. "He is pleased with his wrath... God is as delighted with his wrath as he is with all of his attributes. Suppose he says, 'What I’ll do is create something worthy of my wrath, something on which I can exhibit the glory of my wrath'." (pp. 52, 53)

It's no exaggeration to say that RC Sproul Jr is enthralled with and obsessed by God's wrath, so much so that he calls it a thing of "beauty." "We don't recognize the beauty of his wrath and so miss the glory in the execution of his wrath." (p. 58) And how is this "beauty" manifested by God? By the torment of souls in hell: "We don't often think, for instance, of the glory God receives from the torment of souls in hell. We are willing to jump up and down praising God when he redeems a sinner, but when he damns one, we look away... Nevertheless, we ought to see the glory. We ought to jump up and down praising God for his strength, that he alone has the power and authority to change the inclination of moral agents." (p. 58)

If indeed God is as wrathful as Sproul makes Him out to be couldn't God have found some other way? According to Sproul God is incapable of restraining and containing his wrath. God has no choice but to manifest His wrath: "And like man, God always acts according to his strongest inclination." (p. 54) Furthermore, as Sproul asserts, wrath isn't something God could exhibit just within the Trinity. He had no other choice but to "create something worthy of my wrath." So God created Heaven and earth, populating Heaven with angels and the earth with man, making them all good with no inclination to sin. Some time later God created sin. Then God changed the inclinations of angels and man from good to evil. Following after their strongest inclination, they fell into sin. This was all done so God could pour out his wrath on them. Sproul believes this brings God "glory."

RC Sproul Jr's God has no genuine free will. He is powerless to act contrary to his strongest inclination  -- wrath. Sproul's God may be almighty over the works of His creation, but He is not almighty over all because He isn't almighty over Himself. He is a slave to His own inclinations. If He's feeling especially wrathful He has no choice but to put them on full blast.

In light of Edwards' Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God it becomes logically apparent why RC Sproul Jr came to these conclusions. The focus of Edwards' sermon is God's wrath and the torments of eternal hell fire. Edwards' God is characteristically wrathful.

Such a view is in stark contrast with the biblical account of a loving, forgiving, merciful and gracious Heavenly Father. It also contradicts RC Sproul Sr's position that God's most significant character attribute is holiness, a subject which he devoted much of his ministry to. In fact RC Sproul Sr, of his own admission, spoke on the subject of God's holiness far more often than he did any other topic. In the context of Isaiah's vision in the temple (Is 6) Dr. RC Sproul Sr says:
"The Bible doesn’t say that God is Holy. It doesn’t even say that God is holy, holy, but that He is holy, holy, holy. Scripture doesn’t say that he’s love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy or wrath, wrath, wrath, but that he’s holy, holy, holy; exalting this character of God to the supreme degree. This is the song of the angels, adding to it that the whole earth is full of his glory."
However, according to RC Jr's view the seraphim might as well have been crying out, "Wrathful, wrathful, wrathful is the Lord of hosts." RC Sproul Jr's deity is best represented by Zeus, the mythological god of the Greeks who rages and hurls down his thunderbolts on those who displease him. RC Jr's deity is unjust, cruel, vindictive, tyrannical, and sadistic. Sproul Jr's God is not unlike a malicious little boy who delights in focusing his magnifying glass on ants in the hot summer sun so he can "glory" in seeing them burn up.

The creation plan of RC Jr's God wasn't to glorify and manifest Himself through His creation. Creation was merely a means to an end -- the end being that He have objects worthy of His wrath. After creating the world, and then resting on the seventh day, God couldn't just sit back and enjoy His creation, glorying in the beauty of His handiwork. What real glory could God receive in His fellowship with man and receiving man's adoration? Perhaps a little, but not much in comparison to the glory He could take in taking out His wrath on man. But how is God to pour out His wrath on good creatures? They'd first have to deserve His wrath, and that couldn't happen without their sinning. So God arranged everything to ensure they'd all merit His wrath. After having made everything good God decided to make it all bad.

Numerous Reformed Calvinist teachers and preachers have shared the podium with RC Jr at Ligonier Ministries conferences and elsewhere. RC Jr has even titled a few of his talks Almighty Over All (though he's never quoted from his own book the things we've exposed herein). More than likely a good portion of those Calvinist leaders have read Almighty Over All. Yet not one of them has ever publicly taken RC Jr to task for it. Would it be fair to assume they all privately agree with RC Sproul Jr but are too embarrassed to publicly admit it? Given what these men have all said about the sovereignty of God we're certain that would be a false assumption.

We're confident men such as John Piper, John MacArthur, Joel Beeke, Ligon Duncan, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Al Mohler, Burk Parsons, Derek Thomas et al disagree with many of the claims made by RC Sproul Jr's in his book. In John MacArthur's case he's specifically addressed God's sovereignty and the origin of sin, perhaps even in direct response to Sproul's book (although he, like the others, never makes specific mention of it). We can safely assume they all vehemently disagree with Sproul Jr's evil-creating deity theory. We might also safely assume they've all been too intimidated to take RC Jr to task for fear they won't be invited back to speak at Ligonier conferences and enjoy the privileges and perks that brings them. Now that RC Sproul Jr has become an Anabaptist they might feel emboldened to challenge him.

Some might now be thinking that by weaponizing Calvinism, as RC Sproul Jr effectively has done, it may have been Sproul's intention from the beginning to sabotage Calvinism. That of course would be purely speculative; but the fact of the matter is it would be hard to find any publication that has given as much ammunition to Arminians in attacking Calvinism as Almighty Over All has done. RC Sproul Jr makes for an extremely poor representative for Calvinism, and not just because of his criminal record and the numerous scandals he's caused throughout the course of his "ministry career." But honest Arminians must acknowledge there are multiple examples of disgraced Arminian pastors who've caused them much embarrassment, as well. The two doctrinal positions should not be judged by their most scandalized advocates, nor should they be judged by their advocates who have taken those doctrinal positions to absurd and heretical extremes. 

In our view Almighty Over All isn't just theologically errant. Almighty Over All is heretical. We would even go so far as to say Almighty Over All is slanderous. Slander of God is commonly referred to as "blasphemy." Blasphemy comes from the Greek blaptein, "to injure", and pheme, "reputation." By accusing God of the outrageous things he has RC Sproul Jr has slandered the righteous and perfect character of God.

Based on his track record we know RC Sproul Jr won't repent. Nevertheless scripture requires we call him to repentance (Matt 18:17), and so that is what we do here.

We call on RC Sproul Jr to repent of his heresy and slander against the Lord God. Your book is a matter of public record, RC, and so you are obligated to repent publicly.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

RC Sproul Jr Abandons Reformed Faith?

RC Sproul Jr is no stranger to scandal. He's created a great deal of it over the course of his life. If the scandals were to ever subside we'd have nothing left to report and this blog would cease to be relevant or to be read. It would fade into obscurity instead of staying for years in google's top 10 search results for "RC Sproul Jr". A drop in our google ratings would need to be preceded by RC Jr fading into obscurity.

We truly wish RC Sproul Jr all the best... as an insurance salesman, or a realtor, or in lawn care, or some other secular vocation where any scandals he causes won't bring further shame and reproach to the name of the Lord. The problem is that, even though he's repeatedly demonstrated that he's biblically disqualified to be a minister, pastor, teacher, or anything else related to Christian ministry (Titus 1:5-9, 1 Tim 3:1-7), he keeps masquerading as those very things. Until he does as he should have done in 2006 when he was defrocked, and leave Christian ministry for good, we'll have to keep reporting on and exposing his misguided "ministry" exploits.

In light of all the scandals he's caused common sense would dictate that RC Jr would want to avoid public attention. But personal obscurity isn't something RC Jr can abide. His narcissistic personality can't tolerate it. He craves the limelight, the center stage, and so we have little option but to continue giving him the exposure he warrants. This isn't to say we have any intention of reporting on the minutiae of his life (other blogs and social media already do that). Much of his life, although cringeworhty and drama-ridden (e.g. he and his wife's public sniping against his adult children), is better left to others to cover. What we will report on are the things we believe our target audience is needful of knowing, say for example RC Jr abandoning the Reformed faith.

To bring our readers current RC Sproul Jr announced on his Twitter on March 27, 2019, "I am a member in good standing at Pine Hills Church here in Fort Wayne. It is a part of the Federation of Evangelical Churches." Such an admission came as quite a shock to those familiar with the FEC, especially given how proudly Sproul seemed to be making this public announcement.

There are several remarkable things about Sproul's admission. For one thing it's a bit of an alibi, albeit an incredibly stupid alibi, to cover for the allegation that Sproul had previously been attending a Pentecostal church, the Foursquare Life Bridge Church. Dismissing his foray into Pentacostalism with such an alabi is akin to, "I couldn't have murdered my wife. I wasn't even in town the day she was killed. I was in another state robbing banks." 

Needless to say these two revelations regarding Sproul's church affiliations raised some eyebrows, not to mention quite a few questions. Why would the son of RC Sproul, who was brought up in Reformed Presbyterian churches, under the tutelage of one of the world's most brilliant Reformed theologians, and who received his D.Min. from a Reformed Presbyterian seminary (Whitefield Theological Seminary), and who was ordained by three Reformed Presbyterian denominations (ARP, RPCGA and CPC) find himself attending a church for four months that is the antithesis of all that? Pentecostalism, and particularly a Pentecostal denomination founded by a female preacher -- Aimee Semple McPherson -- is the antithesis of the Calvinist teachings and practices of the Reformed faith and the Westminster Confession. It's hard to imagine a church that's any further removed from the Reformed faith than the Foursquare church. It's for good reason many are scratching their heads. People have been looking for answers.

RC Jr has been asked about his Pentecostal church attendance on his Twitter and elsewhere. If the rumors were untrue RC Jr could have just graciously denied it. But instead he's evaded, arrogantly belittled, and even raged against such inquiries. His belligerence only confirms the validity of people's concerns and this has resulted in even more questions.

Rather than calmly denying that he attended a Pentecostal Foursquare church for four months (which it seems he can't do since there's apparently too much evidence out there to prove he did) he uses as his alibi, "I am a member in good standing at Pine Hills Church".

But this only raises a whole new set of concerns. Pine Hills Church is a member of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches. The FEC is the re-branded Evangelical Mennonite Church. It's roots are in the Egly-Amish. They're not just Baptist, they're Anabaptist, and there are significant differences. For example most Baptists consider themselves to be Protestant. However, Anabaptists would argue they are not Protestant. Baptists are quite often Arminian, but there are also many Calvinist Baptists (John Piper being a noteworthy example). However Anabaptist soteriology largely conforms to Arminianism. Some even refer to Anabaptists as "Proto-Arminian." 

For this reason Anabaptists shouldn't be confused for Baptists. For one thing we can find examples of "Reformed Baptist" churches, but there is no such thing as "Reformed Anabaptist" or a "Calvinist Anabaptist." If RC Jr were to have joined a Reformed Baptist church it probably wouldn't raise any eyebrows since Reformed Baptists are in agreement with the major tenets of the Reformed faith (the Baptist Confession of Faith is remarkably similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith). But for RC Jr to proudly announce he's joined a distinctly Anabaptist sect is extremely problematic. It's hard to draw any other conclusion but that he's abandoned the Reformed faith of his father, and his father's Ligonier Ministries, and become Anabaptist.

How could this happen? What motivated him to do this? Surely there's a back story. We believe much of it centers around RC Jr's remarriage on October 14, 2016 to Lisa Ringel. Sproul's first wife Denise, the mother of his six biological children, passed away from cancer in 2011. Because of Denise's passing RC Jr had biblical justification to remarry, provided his fiance was also biblically unhindered to remarry. RC Sproul Jr was at the time an ordained minister in the Covenant Presbyterian Church. So the determination of whether or not his remarriage would be biblical would need to be made by the elders of the Presbytery who'd ordained him. It's interesting to note that one of the founders of the CPC is James McDonald. He and his wife Stacy had both been divorcees prior to marrying one another. As such the CPC was not inherently opposed to remarriage, provided it met the biblical criteria.

It's alleged RC Jr's Presbytery wouldn't give their blessing to his remarriage due to Lisa divorcing three prior husbands, none of which were allegedly deemed to be for biblical causes (e.g. adultery, physical abuse, etc.). Rather than submitting to the will of his Presbytery RC Jr demitted his ordination, which the CPC accepted on October 4, 2016. Sproul fled the authority of his Presbytery to marry Lisa Ringel. Since demitting his ordination RC Sproul Jr has had no ordination, license, or authority granted to him by any church or denomination to serve as Pastor, Minister, Teacher, Theologian, or otherwise.

Little more than a month after his remarriage RC Sproul Jr self-destructed. He was arrested on November 29, 2016 for drunk driving with two minor children in the car. The result of his arrest, and subsequent plea bargain in order to avoid a potential 7 year prison sentence, was personally and professionally catastrophic. He got off with just a suspended 1-1/2 year sentence, but now he's also a convicted felon. He was forced to resign from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College where he'd for some years enjoyed a six-figure salary and lavish lifestyle. This part of the story is equally challenging to explain. Why only a month after remarriage, to a woman he ostensibly adored, would RC Jr go on a bender such that he completely blacked out and has no memory of the evening? Why did he risk killing his own minor children by careening down the highways blind drunk with them in the car? Worse yet it's recently come to light, courtesy of a social media posting of one of Lisa's daughters, that RC Jr wasn't just drunk that night. He was allegedly also stoned on opioids that he took from his wife.
"Their dad got a dui a few years back with them In the car, scared for their life, after he took my moms pain meds from a tummy tuck, and blew a .175" 
Again we have to ask how could such a thing happen? We believe Ligonier Ministries' Steven Lawson sums up the crux of the problem well in What Is Self Discipline?:

"Admittedly, personal discipline is not a popular subject today. In our society, any insistence upon self-discipline is largely resisted, even among many Christians. Legalism, they cry, defending their rights of Christian liberty. These free-spirited believers maintain that discipline restricts their freedom in Christ, binding them in a spiritual straightjacket.

"But many of these believers have so abused their freedom in Christ that they have virtually no spiritual discipline. They have swung the pendulum so drastically toward Christian liberty that their spiritual lives are out of balance. Such neglect of self-discipline prolongs their spiritual immaturity, leaving them with little self-control to resist temptation and sin."
Steven Lawson was quite aware of RC Jr's abuses of "Christian liberties." It's likely that RC Jr even served as Lawson's inspiration for the article. He wrote it a mere one month prior to when RC Jr was due to be reinstated at Ligonier Ministries after having been suspended for a year (with pay) because of his Ashley Madison scandal. It might further be said that Lawson's article was even prescient; he wrote it a mere 5 months prior to RC Sproul Jr's felony DUI arrest.

RC Sproul Jr's years of preaching and practicing "Christian liberty," mocking any who questioned his brazen abuses of alcohol, proved nothing more than a cover for his licentiousness. Time and again RC Jr demonstrated his remarkable lack of maturity or self-discipline. What he needs more now than ever is accountability and submission to a team of wise and competent biblically-minded counselors. Such a team also needs to include at least one mental health professional. Sproul also needs an extended time of quiet reflection out of the public eye. Instead he's actively promoting himself and his "RC Sproul Jr Ministries," believing himself biblically qualified to preach and teach. Has he been restored to ministry by any denomination or church body? No. Has he even attempted going through any formal process of biblical restoration? None. Yet he's now actively promoting himself using the titles "Rev." and "Pastor."

Who or what deemed him worthy of such distinguished titles? He pronounced them on himself thus proving he's a renegade, a maverick, an autonomist, without respect for church authority.

Sproul has for many years portrayed himself as accountable to church authority. In the past he's even taken vows of submission. Yet when those in authority over him have attempted to hold him accountable he's consistently evaded and even fled that accountability. Reformed churches in general, and Presbyterian churches in particular, are structured and governed in such a way that accountability is a given. Reformed folks tend to be very proud of the Presbyterian system of accountability, submission to sessions and Presbyteries, Books of Church Order, checks and balances, etc. Sproul himself often boasted of the Presbyterian system and criticized less formal forms of church government. He's been especially critical of Congregationalism.

RC Jr loves the appearance of accountability and claiming that he's under authority because it lends him credibility. Yet when held to account by the system he's taken vows to submit to he's rebelled and repeatedly fled accountability. Sproul loves authority, but only when he's the one wielding it. For him accountability only goes in one direction. It would appear the demittal of his ordination to the CPC was an act of "shake the dust off your feet" against Presbyterianism and the Reformed faith. He's fled to a place where, for all practical purposes, there is no genuine authority that can be exercised over him. He can claim he's "in submission" all he wants, but it's all a sham. He can do pretty much anything he wants and, by his craftiness and audacity, evade accountability. We believe this is a major contributing factor in why RC Jr has fled to the Anabaptists.

Pine Hills Church, like all Anabaptist churches, is "Congregational" in governance. Every member gets a vote, and the bar is set quite low for membership. Quite literally it's a democracy. The FEC Manual of Faith, Practice, & Organization makes that abundantly clear. It's the opposite of Reformed church governance.  

RC Jr has always portrayed himself as being "accountable" and "under authority." In Reformed Presbyterian circles where he's taken vows of submission that hasn't been a hard sell (though in each case he's ultimately rebelled against them). But claiming "submission" to "authority" in a congregational Anabaptist church? He's finding that a much tougher sell.

RC Jr claims to be in submission to a "session" in his church, but Anabaptists don't have sessions. On a practical level, he's not in submission to anyone who has the wherewithal or backbone to discipline him. Even if the Anabaptists ever tried to discipline him (the very thought of pacifist Mennonites disciplining anyone is almost laughable) he could simply evade accountability. His past history proves he most certainly would.

Other factors likely enter into explaining RC Jr's flight from the Reformed faith to the Anabaptists. His pastoring and preaching prospects are tenuous at best in the Reformed world where standards tend to be set rather high (Ligonier Ministries having been the exception, but that was entirely due to nepotism). He can far more easily get away with calling himself "Rev." and "Pastor" among the Anabaptists. They may have some standards, but they tend to set the bar quite low. Also, the name "RC Sproul Jr" is pretty much unknown among Anabaptists. They're less likely to perform due diligence and discover his numerous scandals. From a practical standpoint it makes sense for him to switch from Reformed to Anabaptist. However, from a biblical standpoint it's a disaster in the making that's likely to result in only more scandals, perhaps even much worse scandals. After all, in spite of all the accountability Sproul was under while he was a Reformed Presbyterian, he still managed to create multiple ugly scandals. One can only imagine the sort of debacles he's likely to get himself into as an Anabaptist and an autonomist.

We don't raise our concerns about any of this to incite a Calvinist vs. Arminian doctrinal debate. That's not the point of this article. The point is that RC Sproul Jr was a professing Reformed faith Calvinist throughout his life. He may still be that for all anyone knows. But that's just the problem -- no one seems to know and RC Jr is evading giving any accounting of his actions. RC Jr's conduct in the past 2 years lead any thinking person to the conclusion that, in all likelihood, he's abandoned the Reformed faith for the Anabaptist faith. Logically it follows there is also a possibility he's abandoned Calvinism for Arminianism. If he hasn't then he owes everyone a plausible and credible explanation, not just more evasion and belligerence. Raging against those who question him only confirms suspicions.

Anyone who challenges RC Jr regarding his sudden and seemingly inexplicable metamorphosis he accuses of promulgating "falsehoods." He seems incapable, however, of correcting the alleged falsehoods, and the reason is obvious -- the allegations aren't falsehoods at all but quite true. He then goes on to accuse his challengers of "slander." His wife then follows his example while also ratcheting things up a notch.

It would appear both RC Jr and Lisa need to learn how to use a dictionary. They clearly don't comprehend the definition of "slander." To qualify as slander the allegation must, first and foremost, be false. If the allegations are true it cannot, by definition, ever qualify as slander. By RC Jr's definition pointing out his errors and calling him to repentance is "slander." Rather than responding graciously and humbly to such calls for repentance he's reacted with an how dare you arrogance.

Of equal and perhaps even greater concern is that RC Jr is promoting and positioning himself, once again, for Christian ministry, but without any church authority to do so.

"I exercise no ministry leadership" is a blatant lie. He doesn't have the blessing of any church to do so but the fact is he's promoting himself for preaching, and actually doing a little bit of it here and there, while using the titles "Pastor" and "Rev." all under the moniker "RC Sproul Jr. Ministries." RC Sproul Jr doesn't meet the biblical criteria of what it takes to hold a biblical office as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moreover, he is disqualified per Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Tim 3:1-7.

If the Anabaptists view it otherwise, and if they see no reason for calling him to repentance, then they deserve him and all the scandals he'll bring on them.

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Saturday, June 09, 2018

RC Sproul Jr Released From Criminal Probation

RC Sproul Jr

On June 1, 2018 RC Sproul Jr filed a petition with the Allen County Indiana Adult Probation Department to be released from criminal probation.

As our readers will recall RC Sproul Jr was facing up to 7 years in prison and $21,000 in fines for drunk driving with two minor children in the car. At the time of his arrest on November 29, 2016 it was determined that he was more than twice the legal limit of .08 BAC (.175 BAC) and so drunk that he was incapable of even standing up on his own to take a sobriety test. He hired one of the best drunk driving attorneys in Indiana, plead not guilty, and asked for a trial by jury. Soon thereafter however he sought to avoid trial by petitioning to have his case referred to drug court. The drug court refused to accept his case because of the two felony charges (only his two misdemeanor charges might have qualified for drug court referral).

Rather than moving forward with the jury trial, RC Sproul Jr in a plea deal plead guilty to one felony charge of the four criminal counts that he'd been charged with. He was sentenced under Indiana statute 9-30-5-3(a)(2)/F6: "Operating Veh. While Intox or Controlled Substance: Passenger Under 18" and given a prison term of 1 Yr 183 Days. His prison sentence was suspended under the terms of the plea deal and he was placed on "1 year active adult probation."

We're pleased to say that, from all appearances, RC Sproul Jr has kept his nose clean for the past year. On June 5 Judge Samuel Keirns granted Sproul's petition and ordered that Sproul be discharged from probation.

No doubt things might have turned out differently had he not sobered up (giving him the benefit of doubt here that he is sober). He might have even found himself in serious trouble had he continued with his life-long obsession of flaunting his "Christian liberty" and promoting "drinking in moderation."

RC Sproul Jr alcohol tobacco and firearms

Sproul's "drinking in moderation" advocacy has always been a complete sham given his long history of alcohol dependency and abuse. Furthermore he's been downright foolish and reckless given that an alcoholic is incapable of honestly defining what comports with "moderation" in the first place. Sproul's life has been one of the best possible examples of how an alcoholic has no ability to gauge for themselves when to say "I've had enough."

We're encouraged to see that in the past year RC Sproul Jr has ceased his public advocacy of "Christian liberty," at least as it concerns alcohol. Very prudent. His new beverage of choice is coffee:

Only up until recently RC Sproul Jr would have instead said, "That odd sense that I've had this same beer before- deja brew."

RC Sproul Jr's beverage of choice is coffee
Many Christians are quite capable of responsibly enjoying the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, and they also have a reasonable definition of "moderation." RC Sproul Jr has never been one of them though.

We wish RC Sproul Jr and his family all the best and hope that he avoids for the remainder of his life the consumption of alcoholic beverages and flaunting his "Christian liberties."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

R.C. Sproul Jr. and King David

"King David did far worse. We are sinner's like everyone else, the difference is we're forgiven in Christ. The man has repented and been forgiven. There is not one of us who would like our thoughts put up on a big screen for all the world to see. I'm just glad I'm judged by God and not man."

A YouTube comment posted in defense of RC Sproul Jr.

RC Sproul Jr and King David

For almost two decades RC Sproul Jr has found himself at the center of one controversy after another (not to mention a few scandals, as well). RC Jr has never shied away from controversy. In fact he gravitates toward it and seems to enjoy creating it. He's welcomed the free publicity that controversy garners him. Because of the controversial positions he's taken, RC Jr has found himself regularly featured as the topic of discussion on many blogs and social media.

Refusing to back down in the face of controversy has been one of the things that has earned him so many fans, even though he's the one who has usually been responsible for fomenting those controversies in the first place. Whether it be anti-public school (homeschooling-only), anti civil government, male control and stay at home moms and daughters ("patriarchy"), anti-birth control ("full-quiver"), anti-Sunday School ("family integrated church"), flaunting his use of alcohol and tobacco ("Christian liberty"), etc., RC Sproul Jr has made a career of extremism and fringe causes.

RC Sproul Jr could have found ways of expressing his opinions diplomatically, reasoning with and exhorting his audience respectfully. Instead, he's often been self-righteous, sanctimonious, dogmatic, and demeaning of all contrary opinions. This then affords him the added bonus of being able to play the victim when he's attacked for the positions he's taken and the obnoxious ways he goes about expressing them. His willingness to speak out forcefully in support of fringe positions has earned him the admiration of an element of the church who have felt disenchanted with, and disenfranchised from, mainstream Christianity.

Unfortunately, his fans have often shown a remarkable lack of discernment for knowing where mere controversy ends and scandal begins. They've seemingly grown so used to defending RC Jr over his controversies that they lack the ability to cease defending him when prudence dictates they should. They fail in asking themselves some obvious questions, such as: Is this topic/situation about a mere controversy or is it about sinful behavior? If it's about sinful behavior should I be defending RC Jr and thereby be deemed guilty of defending sin?

Several of RC Sproul Jr's sinful scandals have been so egregious that they became very public, being published in numerous Christian periodicals and blogs, and even in mainstream media sources. Examples include:
  1. His defrocking in 2006 for, among other things, "abuse of authority in an inexcusable manner" (i.e. ecclesiastical tyranny) against multiple families in his St. Peter Presbyterian Church, "a consistent pattern of duplicity"stealing the tax ID number of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC), and other serious charges that he plead guilty to in order to avoid being put on trial for numerous additional charges, such as drunkenness and plying minor children with hard alcohol. 
  2. His Ashley Madison scandal in 2015.
  3. His drunk driving scandal in 2016.

In the first two cases there were a number of his loyal fans that wrote blog articles in his defense, and hundreds more that posted supportive comments to those articles, as well as comments to what few negative articles there were (as well as to YouTube posts). Things, however, did begin to change a bit with RC Sproul Jr's drunk driving arrest and felony conviction, something which even his most ardent supporters found difficult to defend. With his felony DUI conviction there may not have been any supportive articles (all news and blog articles were less than flattering). However, there still were dozens of comments posted to those articles by RC Jr fans who attempted to minimize the seriousness of his egregious actions of driving drunk with two minor children in the car, and a blood alcohol level of over .175 -- more than twice the legal limit of .08 -- enough that normal people (anyone lacking the high tolerance from decades of alcohol abuse) would have passed out long before.

RC Sproul Jr is hardly the first preacher to find himself at the center of a scandal or two. In fact almost everyone can name some names of scandal-embroiled preachers. In most cases when a preacher is outed for egregious misconduct he quietly withdraws to private life, usually for good; and this is as it should be. However, there are exceptions, and those exceptions almost always heap scandal upon scandal -- the original scandal itself, and then the added scandal of that preacher refusing to leave, thinking himself qualified to return to ministry, when all the evidence shows he just needs to permanently depart. Such has been the case with RC Sproul Jr.

Yes, RC Sproul Jr. was suspended from his positions at Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College over his Ashley Madison account. But that turned out to be a golden parachute suspension -- a paid vacation. The Ligonier Ministries board of directors, controlled by his mom and dad, suspended him with pay to the tune of a six-figure salary, all at the expense of Ligonier Ministry donors. Then after ten months right back into his former positions he went, all aided and abetted by his family connections at Ligonier Ministries.

With three major scandals under his belt so far there's still no indication that RC Sproul Jr intends to leave ministry for good, nor that his family connections won't result in some new position at Ligonier Ministries once the shock over his latest scandal subsides. Certainly he's made no announcement, either publicly or even privately, that he intends to leave the ministry for good. In all likelihood RC Sproul Jr has already planned his comeback. That concerns us greatly, but that concern would be somewhat abated if there were an indication that he didn't still have an enabling fan base. Unfortunately, even with his drunk driving conviction there is talk of "restoring him."

RC Sproul Jr has not repented of any of his egregious and very public sins and transgressions, so restoring him to a position of leadership is getting the cart before the horse. It shouldn't even be a consideration to anyone, but for some it is. Even in the event that someday he does make public confession of his public sins, and even if he does make restitution to the many that he's harmed, injured and abused over the years (for that too is biblically required, and even Alcoholics Anonymous requires it), would that alone qualify him to return to ministry? It would not. However, his manifest disqualifications aren't about to dissuade him or his enabling family members.

RC Sproul Jr and Jimmy Swaggart
With the self-deluded doggedness of a Jimmy Swaggart,  RC Sproul Jr has conned himself into believing that, regardless of any misconduct, he will always be qualified to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

RC Sproul Jr. is manifestly disqualified from Christian ministry, and that fact has been well established, and very publicly so, particularly since 2006 when he and his cohorts in ecclesiastical tyranny were defrocked by their Presbyterian denomination:
"Most importantly, their actions manifest that they lack the qualification for the ministry (1Timothy 3:1-7). It would be unwise to allow these men to continue to hold an office for which they are not qualified."
That, however, did not stop his family, pastor buddies, and devoted fans from rushing in to lend him cover. In addition to his father RC Sproul Sr who called the charges "fraudulent" (charges which RC Jr had already pled guilty to) most noteworthy of his enablers were Doug Wilson and Doug Phillips, both of which have since been thoroughly and irreparably disgraced by sex scandals; in Doug Wilson's case by defending and actively supporting two pedophiles in his church, and in Doug Phillips' case by being exposed and sued by his children's nanny as a sexual predator, lecher and pervert.

Were it not for the encouragement of his devoted fans, and the enabling of his family and pastor pals, RC Sproul Jr probably would have been forced to leave the ministry a decade ago. Unfortunately there are just too many naive Christians who have been eager to sweep RC Sproul Jr's sins and transgressions under the carpet. As Christians are prone to do they usually dress up their excuses in biblical-sounding rhetoric in support of their undying devotion to their favorite religious celebrity. One of their most oft-used biblical examples is that of King David. Here's an example comment posted in defense of RC Sproul Jr, and there are dozens more just like this one:

"King David did far worse. We are sinner's like everyone else, the difference is we're forgiven in Christ. The man has repented and been forgiven. There is not one of us who would like our thoughts put up on a big screen for all the world to see. I'm just glad I'm judged by God and not man."

Anyone who makes such excuses for RC Sproul Jr only demonstrates their ignorance for scripture. Unfortunately such ignorance is widespread. Are we "forgiven in Christ"? Only when we genuinely and humbly confess and repent, something which RC Sproul Jr himself has taught, but something which he has not done for any of his scandals. As we've been exposing here for over a decade, RC Sproul Jr has been abusing alcohol, encouraging others to abuse alcohol (under the guise of "drinking in moderation"), and driving drunk for many years. Is RC Sproul Jr sober today? Has he sworn off the booze as an alcoholic should do? Perhaps. Is he sorry he got caught? Undoubtedly. But does that equate to repentance? Given his long history for proudly abusing alcohol and mocking anyone who expresses concern about it, at best it only equates to regretting being reckless enough to have been caught. Given RC Jr's track record of sham confessions and faux repentance it seems improbable that he's genuinely repented.

Some have asserted RC Sproul Jr has repented. But if so where is the evidence for it? We believe the evidence proves exactly the opposite. One cannot tell lie after lie in their confession, as RC Sproul Jr has routinely done, and then legitimately claim they've repented. An example of this is how he allegedly confessed and repented to his Presbytery in 2006, but then as soon as he was released from their jurisdiction he commenced to slandering them and contradicting the very confessions he'd formerly made. His confession and repentance was proven to be a complete sham in order to escape being put on trial. It was a confession of convenience, not a sincere heart.

A more recent and perhaps even more brazen example of this is RC Sproul Jr's Ashley Madison scandal, a case in which he outed himself, only as a direct result of Ashley Madison being hacked, in order to avoid a much worse scandal had he risked waiting on others to out him later on. He "confessed" on his blog (which he has since taken down) in a highly manipulative way to garner sympathy and even admiration, all the while telling one lie on top of another. As we proved the evidence of his brazen lying about his Ashley Madison account is overwhelming. That's not biblical confession but the ploy of a crafty and sleazy politician. RC Sproul Jr's duplicitous actions leave no basis for interjecting King David into the discussion.

If we elect to make honest comparisons, King David is the example of a man reduced by his sins to a "a broken and a contrite heart." In contrast RC Jr has twisted and perverted confession and repentance for personal advancement and material gain. It was in the context of Nathan confronting David for his sins of adultery and murder that David penned, "a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps 51:17) Great sin calls for great contrition, and contrition is something that RC Sproul Jr has never demonstrated, only excuses, lies, duplicity, and equivocations.

And as for "not one of us who would like our thoughts put up on a big screen for all the world to see," how does that apply to King David? Oh, right, his sins were exposed to the entire nation of Israel (2 Sam 2:12) and then memorialized in the Word of God for the whole world to read about. God Himself clearly deems it just and appropriate to put the sins of prominent leaders "on a big screen for all the world to see."

Even with David's repentance, and God's forgiveness of his awful sins, God still imposed consequences on David for those sins. God decreed that the child that David had conceived with Bathsheba would die (2 Samuel 12:14). But even much worse than that would befall him:
Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun." (2 Samuel 12:11-12)
Yes, God forgives the genuinely repentant sinner; but that doesn't mean that forgiveness absolves the transgressor of the consequences of his sins. The expectation that RC Sproul Jr permanently remove himself from any and all forms of Christian ministry is a reasonable and biblical expectation, and certainly a very minor consequence in comparison to what King David suffered.

Why did the Lord impose such harsh consequences on David for his sins even though the Lord had forgiven those sins? Because, "by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme." RC Sproul Jr has repeatedly "given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme." Yet strangely enough there are those who wish to put RC Jr right back into ministry, thereby extending to him yet more opportunities to encourage the "enemies of the LORD to blaspheme."

RC Sproul Jr's defrocking in 2006 should have been enough to prove to his fans, his family, and especially to himself, that he was disqualified from Christian ministry. If wasn't. He made excuses and justified himself. His fans, and even his otherwise very intelligent father, followed his example of rebuffing the clear instructions of scripture. His Ashley Madison scandal in 2015 should have been enough to prove to his fans, and even to himself, that he was disqualified. It wasn't. Once again he made excuses for himself and his fans followed his example. Getting exposed as a drunkard in 2016 and convicted for felony DUI in 2017 should have been enough to prove it to himself. Driving drunk with kids in the car has finally pushed a large portion of his remaining fan base over the line; but it's still not enough for RC Sproul Jr. What line does RC Sproul Jr need to cross -- how severe a transgression must he yet commit -- before he recognizes that he's disqualified from being a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Christian leaders are held to a higher standard and God says they come under a more severe judgment -- by their scandals they give cause to the enemies of Christ to blaspheme His name:
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:)
For years too many of RC Jr's fans have shown little if any regard for how the scandals of RC Sproul Jr have given cause to unbelievers to blaspheme the name of the Lord. They've given far more regard to defending the reputation of a man than to defending the reputation of the one they call "Lord." Too many have labored to lower the bar -- the biblical standard of accountability, every single time RC Sproul Jr was exposed in some sinful scandal. They didn't learn to do that from the Word of God. No doubt they learned it from the example of the religious celebrity they admired and followed.

May the Lord God deliver us all of our hero-worship and turn our hearts to rely instead, not on men, but on the Holy Spirit to rightly divide the Word of God for us.

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