Monday, February 27, 2006

RC Sproul Jr Speaks On "Honor"? You've Gotta Be Kidding!

RC Sproul Jr going postal lookA very hot topic of discussion in blogland these days is the defrocking of RC Sproul Jr, and for good reason. People are having a hard time recollecting the last time that a well-known Reformed preacher managed to get himself defrocked, and no one can recollect when an entire Presbyterian Session of four Elders managed to get themselves defrocked. The whole thing is just amazing!

It used to be a real shameful thing for an ordained minister to get himself defrocked. As Peter Kershaw noted in his Open Letter to RC Sproul Jr, being defrocked has some similarities to a military officer being court-martialed, stripped of his rank, and being Dishonorably Discharged. But the Christians of today are a lot different from the Christians of yesteryear. Most Christians today don't seem to appreciate the first thing about honor.

To add insult to injury, of the few well-known Christian teachers and preachers that are left today who are teaching the church about honor, some are actually now making a mockery of it. Witness RC Sproul Jr himself who is speaking May 5 and 6, 2006 at the "Generations Conference." Also featured at the conference will be RC Sproul (Jr's daddy), Doug Phillips, and Doug's daddy Howard Phillips. The subtitle of the Generations Conference is "Giving Honor To Whom Honor Is Due."

RC Sproul Jr Highlands Study Center Generations Conference
In principle the theme of the conference is a good one. There's a very big fly in the ointment though -- RC Sproul, Jr. How is RC Jr in any way qualified to address the subject of "honor" when he's brought so much dishonor to his family name? It's really no different than a dishonorably discharged military officer speaking at a conference on honor. There's simply no honor at all in what these men are doing -- it's just shameful. Common sense dictates that only honorable men speak at a conference where the theme is "honor."

Maybe it's understandable that RC Sproul is still speaking at conferences with his son, and even inviting his son to speak at his Ligonier Ministries conferences, including the Ligonier Conference, "Bought With a Price." Dr. Sproul is an honorable man, and that's demonstrated in the loyalty he has toward his son, even if his son is a total embarrassment to the name "Sproul." Here's the interesting thing about the Bought With a Price conference though -- RC Sproul Jr doesn't get to speak at the actual conference. He's just speaking at the "pre-conference". Pre-conferences are like warmup acts. They're sparsely attended. Dr. Sproul may still love his son, but he's not fool enough to give Junior a place of honor on the podium at the actual conference.

But what about Doug Phillips? What's his motivation for not cancelling his appearance at the Generations conference? Is it just personal friendship? And if so, since when does friendship trump the principles of honor that Doug Phillips has been teaching home school families for years? Doesn't Doug realize that when he steps onto a podium with a newly-defrocked minister that he's sending a message? And doesn't he realize that he's putting his stamp of approval on RC Sproul Jr? Doug Phillips is no fool, so it's likely that he's only too aware that his appearance at the Generations conference will have that very effect. We can only conclude that's exactly the effect that he's looking for.

Doug Phillips may, in effect, be honoring RC Sproul Jr, but he's dishonoring Presbyterians everywhere, and he's certainly dishonoring the Presbyterian denomination that defrocked Sproul.

The following was taken from a blog known as Little Geneva, and was posted by "Dabney." It's an insightful post, and because it goes to show just how much RC Jr has dishonored his own father and broken the fifth commandment, and how he's been doing so even long before he got himself defrocked, it's worth reposting here:

The more I think about it the more discombobulated this whole Sproul-Phillips conference thing seems to be. The theme of the Generations conference is "Giving honor to whom honor is due" and "honor your father and mother." It all supposedly comes from the fifth commandment which is something we could all stand some help with. If RC Sproul Jr had something to do with coming up with the conference theme, my hat's off to him. But if he had something to do with putting himself in the speaker line up he needs a good old fashion whoopin'.

From what I've seen with Doug Phillips, no problem. Doug and his father Howard makes sense for the "Generations" conference. Doug has a long track record of honoring his father and mother and keeping the fifth commandment. From all accounts he's also doing a good job with training up his children in the way they should go, so his kids are probably not having a tough time learning how to keep the fifth commandment. Doug's even produced a video or two on honoring fathers of prior generations. Doug's all about honoring others. Doug even honors servicemen and war vets (I don't think we'll ever see RC Jr doing that). Doug's also produced materials on honoring women ("women and children first") and he's spoken on that theme often. Doug's proven himself qualified to speak at a Generations "let's honor others before we honor ourselves" conference.

What about RC Sproul Jr? What are his qualifications? How's he ever honored his father? Or even his mother? Or anybody other than himself? How does he keep the fifth commandment? What's he written or produced? When's he ever preached on it? If he has why's it so hard to find the evidence for it? If you Google on the Highlands Study Center for "fifth commandment" or "honor your father" etc. you'll find precious little. If you do find something more than likely it'll be a squib on why RC Jr's kids should honor him, but not very much on why and how RC Jr honors RC Sr.

The other day I read the Words Of Wit With RC Sproul Jr page. It's hard to believe that a gospel preacher would actually say that kind of claptrap and then be proud enough about it to publish it for the whole world to see. One of the things quoted from at that site is RC Jr's Ligonier Tales, a shabby piece of trashy dime store drivel.

As repulsive and degrading as I found the whole process to be, I went to the Highlands Study Center web site and read every one of the eleven chapters of RC's "novella," Ligonier Tales (yes, I do deserve the Purple Heart). I don't recommend that anyone do this right after eating. In fact I don't recommend you do it on an empty stomach even after taking Dramamine. Why an ordained Presbyterian Pastor would publish such twaddle on his ministry's web site for the whole world to see is sure beyond me. He ought to be ashamed, but obviously he's not.

A lot of us grew up doing things that we're plenty embarrassed about. But most of us have got enough horse sense to not talk or write novellas about it. Maybe what RC Sproul Jr. is trying to tell us all is that just because he's the son of a famous theologian he didn't grow up any different than any of the rest of us. But if that's what he's trying to say, he could do it without giving everyone the lurid details. RC Jr's communicating a lot more with his trashy novella than "I'm nothing special, I'm just like all the rest of you." Anyone who grew up acting as foolishly as RC Jr did ought to be embarrassed enough about it to not memorialize it for the whole world to see. A son who cares to keep the fifth commandment ought to know that publishing his spectacular adolescent moral failures could in no way help his father's reputation. Not RC Jr! Indeed, all RC Jr is effectively doing is saying, "My dad was a failure as a father." He even seems to be real proud of his foolish adolescent years. Nowhere does he express any regret, remorse or sense that he has anything to apologize for. If anything he seems to look back with fondness on those good 'ol days.

In Ligonier Tales RC fancies himself as a rough and tumble hard-drinkin' beer-guzzlin' jock, and a regular Casanova ladies-man. My impression about RC from reading Ligonier Tales is that he was horribly insecure and was constantly seeking attention and trying to impress his peers. Not one word is ever mentioned about trying to please or impress his parents or be an obedient son. In fact hardly a mention is made of his parents, other than the fact that they referred to RC Jr as "Precious. I've heard said that RC Sproul Jr is referred to by family by the pet name "Precious" to this day.

His novella ends in an anticlimactic fast-forward a couple decades "here I am today a happily married-with-kids successful preacher-man" non-ending. No lessons are taught, no lessons are learned, no value or benefit of any kind is conveyed by the writer to the reader for expending the time to peruse this literary swill. Reading RC Jr's novella is much like sitting down to watch a bad movie that a friend told you is actually a good movie. You sit there minute after minute thinking, "At some point it's gonna get good." But it never does, and you've just wasted your evening. You feel cheated. That's how it feels to read Ligonier Tales. You can easily reckon that the only reason RC Sproul Jr. wrote it is to cover for some deep seated insecurities. Maybe he wrote it as a personal catharsis, but that doesn't mean he's got to punish the rest of us with it.

The part that I kept waiting to read was the part where he talks about his mom and dad -- the part where he honors his parents -- the part where he obeys the fifth commandment. It never comes. RC's entire novella is the biggest piece of self-obsessed bilge I've ever read. It's only redeeming quality? It's short enough that the nausea doesn't last very long.

So why is "Mr. Honor" Doug Phillips speaking at a conference that's all about the fifth commandment with a guy like "Mr. Self-Absorbed Doesn't Give a Rip About Honoring Anybody But Himself" RC Sproul Jr? It sure is a head-scratcher.

Thank you Mr. Dabney for your insightful review of Ligonier Tales. It saves us the time and nausea of having to read it ourselves.

They say that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, but obviously there are exceptions. How could a tree like Dr. RC Sproul, a man who's so highly esteemed in Reformed theology circles, have produced such a bad apple? What a sad and embarrassing legacy RC Jr now leaves the family name of "Sproul."

But not everyone seems to agree that RC Jr has sullied and dishonored the family name -- Doug Phillips for one, and there are others as well. Doug Phillips is just one among several who are casting aside their principles for pragmatism, and spitting on Presbyterians and church authority everywhere. Home school groups and churches continue to pay RC Jr to come and speak at their conferences, as though being defrocked is really nothing at all.

It speaks to the times in which we live when a defrocked minister can speak at a conference on "honor," and the other men who will be sharing the podium with him have no objections. The Reformed Faith church in America has sunk very low, indeed.

Update 04-11-06: R.C. Sproul Jr dishonors his father yet again.

Monday, February 13, 2006

RC Sproul Jr's Bizarre Pastoral Style

Dennis Cockran
Former Saint Peter Presbyterian Church attendee, Dennis Cochran (aka Dennis The Poet) has today gone public with the eighteen-page letter he mailed to Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly on December 15, 2005. Mr. Cochran states,
"It's only right for people to be told. The SPPC false shepherds continue in their flagrant rebellion against God. Let their deeds of darkness be exposed and the saints be warned."
Dennis had good cause to notify the RPCGA. He, like any number of other individuals and families, found himself the victim of spiritual abuse and ecclesiastical tyranny at the hands of RC Sproul Jr and his cronies. Such abuses of authority have been taking place since the origins of St. Peter Presbyterian Church. However few have been willing to openly challenge Sproul for what Dennis calls "spiritual rape."

Highlands Study Center ETCOn top of all the other abuses Dennis Cochran was slandered by RC Sproul Jr in the May/June 2004 edition of the Highlands Study Center periodical, Every Thought Captive. The article was entitled, The Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn. Mr. Cochran was also caricatured on the cover in a none-too flattering way. Just to make it more than apparent who the article was targeting, RC Sproul Jr included one of his infamous Open Letters, this one beginning with "Dear Dennis."

It wouldn't be the first time that Sproul had used the tax-deductible contributions of his financial supporters to engage in malicious and vindictive attacks against fellow believers in Christ Jesus -- truly bizarre conduct for an ordained minister of the gospel. In point of fact RC Sproul Jr has used his Every Thought Captive magazine to publish quite a few malicious "Open Letters" and, just like the Dear Dennis letter most of them were self-serving, self-righteous, and replete with fabrications and outright lies.

Mr. Cochran's letter to the Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA can be found at:


Some highlights from Mr. Cochran's letter:

I'm a former attendee of St. Peter Presbyterian Church. My stay at St. Peter was only two and a half months. Though brief it was the most horrible church experience of my life.

I believe that these men are in no way fit to be ordained by your denomination, or anyone else's, as pastors or elders.

The trauma of the spiritual rape I experienced while associated with Saint Peter Presbyterian Church and its results will hopefully be made clear by the end of this letter.

When you are already suicidal because two "pastors" messed with your mind and convinced you to go off your medicine, seeing them slander and ridicule you in print before the entire world might have been the last straw for me. Since that time, the Burtons too were the subject of an ETC article. R.C. and Laurence have a long history of publicly maligning and slandering people.

During the first meeting we had arranged to meet one morning after a Tuesday morning men's breakfast gathering at Bonnie's Restaurant. My plan going into the meeting was to tell Sproul and Windham I had decided to not become a member of St. Peter and that I would go check out some other local Reformed church such as Abingdon Presbyterian. I expected to part from them on friendly terms. The other men had departed leaving just Sproul, Windham and I. I very briefly told them my plan and added in a jocular manner, "I bet that was the shortest meeting you ever had." In seeking to justify what follows Windham at a later date accused me of being disrespectful in making this joking comment but I was not. What followed was dead silence and the most utterly cold demeanor I had ever witnessed in any human being. Then the taller block of ice, Windham, spoke. "You are now persona non grata. You are not to speak to my people. They will be told not to speak to you." Earlier in the OL they stated that they had no authority over me since I wasn't a member. Yet Windham just presumed to TELL me I wasn't allowed to speak to "his people."

I was utterly stunned. I honestly didn't see it coming. After another bit of dead silence I stammered, "Isn't that a bit cultish?" That was the first time I ever even considered using any form of the word "cult" in regard to St. Peter. I don't remember what little if anything was said after that. I was too dazed. Sproul and Windham left and I paced around in an area behind the building. As I did the pieces of the puzzle came together in my mind and I saw that I had indeed just escaped from joining a cult.

And this is perhaps the most astonishing revelation in all of Mr. Cochran's letter:

Only recently was I informed of something else that had happened at that meeting which only further confirms to me that St. Peter Presbyterian Church is not a church, but a cult. One of the men at breakfast with R.C. and Laurence just prior to my meeting with them, Rick Saenz, says that he was present when one of the men asked R.C. about the contents of a plastic carrying case R.C. had on the table in front of him. R.C. responded, "Oh, that's my gun. We're having a meeting later with Dennis. I want to be ready for him in case anything goes wrong." I guess I'm just unfamiliar with the practice of pastors taking guns into meetings with them in public restaurants. Does the RPCGA condone this? Considering the fact that it was R.C. and Laurence that told me to stop taking my meds, perhaps they thought that I would be unstable and perhaps even violent (why else would R.C. have had the gun there?). But if that were their concern, why did they tell me to stop taking my meds in the first place?

We're also unfamiliar, Mr. Cochran, with the practice of pastors taking concealed firearms into meetings with them into public restaurants. This raises an interesting legal question. Does RC Sproul Jr have a Concealed Handgun Permit? For any who were planning on having any meetings with RC Sproul Jr they might want to think twice about it. We're also unfamiliar with the practice of pastors giving medical advice to their parishioners. How are Sproul and Windham in any way qualified to be giving medical advice? Such behavior is reckless, irresponsible and completely outrageous. The RPCGA had grounds for defrocking these men just on that basis alone.

It was my responsibility to get away from a couple of dangerously manipulative individuals and warn others about them and their ways.

They in fact have a reputation for cruelty and lack of compassion in general that continues to grow. Even a cursory reading of their materials reveals a disturbing pattern of defensiveness that ought to give one pause.

Thus spake the prophets who receive their daily bread in part by potential criminal fraud and certainly through deceit as they make unwarranted accusations against me in regard to my meager income.

Scripture also tells us that those who hate their fellow believers while they say they love God show themselves to be liars who love neither. Their hateful abuse of members of God's household who threaten their house of cards belies their empty claims toward loving them or God.

"Fairness" is not a trait I readily associate with these two "pastors." They certainly didn't sit me down and say, "Well, here's the deal. We're a pair of cult leaders. We abuse people shamelessly and publicly slander them if we think it serves our purposes. We're egomaniacal charlatans. Sound good to you? Still wanna join?"

At this point, considering their unblushing gossip and slander in regard to me and others and the unremitting arrogance for which their are known among many, one has to wonder if they themselves have ever done an honest day's work in their lives if honest labor does indeed thwart such tendencies as they say it does. And I so far agree with them about the benefits of work.

They're afraid I'll help at least partially knock down their house of cards. I'll gladly destroy the ability of wicked men to ensnare souls and wolfishly wound the brethren. I'll gladly build up those they have victimized by offering my understanding and support.

Free men don't delight in anyone being enslaved to brutal, deceitful dictators. So I've spent hours thinking about, composing and editing this letter. I don't want anyone to go through what others and I have at the hands of these ruthless thugs. I delight in the freedom others and I have gained in escaping them and the freedom to be gained or retained by others by escaping or being warned off them.

And this significant revelation on the real reason why the PCA refused to ordain RC Sproul Jr:

R.C. has long lied about why he was rejected for PCA ordination. A Presbyterian elder by the name of ___________ who was part of R.C.'s examination finds R.C.'s version of the story most amusing. Mr. ________ also finds it amusing that an ex-convict who had served ten years in San Quentin successfully passed his PCA examination on the very same day as R.C. failed his.

R.C.'s lie was one designed to make Sproul seem as if he was being persecuted for bravely standing up for his beliefs. Even if he suspected ulterior motives on the part of any within the PCA, if they cited his educational insufficiencies as cause it is deceitful to simply fail to mention it even if one might hear both sides and question if there really were such motives. True, it is more appealing to be thought of as a brave martyr than someone who had simply been judged as undereducated. But you risk being thought a liar when the truth comes out.

Mr. Cochran closes with:

I'm deeply troubled by the possibility that the RPCGA will allow R.C. and Laurence to continue functioning as ordained pastors within its denomination. I cannot see how any good can come to the RPCGA and, based upon personal experience, I can only see that they will continue to damage and harm many other people, as they did me. The next person they tell to stop taking their meds might just suicide.

That's no longer an issue as it directly effects the RPCGA. They've stripped Sproul and Windham of their ordinations and shown them to the exit door ("Don't let the door hit you on the way out!"). But Sproul and Windham haven't taken the hint and sought out other employment. No, they're still pretending to be pastors. It looks like they're trying to find a way of getting reordained in another denomination, and we feel sorry for the denomination that's gullible enough to put their imprimatur on these clowns.

It's not the prerogative of any pastor to tell someone to stop taking their medications. Who do these arrogant creeps think they are? Sproul and Windham are a walking lawsuit. Any denomination that takes these morons in is just asking to get caught up in some big time litigation.

Our prayers are with you Dennis Cochran.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

RC Sproul Jr pulls a Jimmy Swaggart

It's a source of hot discussion in Mendota. In fact there hasn't been this must jawing in Mendota VA since Sam Johnson's moonshine still blew up back in '53.

On January 26, 2006 RC Sproul Jr managed to get himself defrocked by the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly. No, RC wasn't defrocked over all the partying. His Presbytery put out the word that they would've had to put RC on trial to sort all that other stuff out.

RC managed to avoid going to trial by giving his Presbytery what they were after in the first place -- a letter of repentance. What nobody seems to be able to figure out now is why RC didn't just repent in the first place, before he got himself defrocked. It's just possible that he could have avoided ever getting defrocked. Since RC is a paedocommunionist, and the RPCGA doesn't permit paedocommunion, even if he had repented of everything that came out in the RPCGA's Declaratory Judgment he probably still would've had to leave, and probably without his RPCGA ordination. But couldn't he have at least tried to work out leaving on better terms than being defrocked? If only he had humbled himself and repented earlier.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

RC Sproul Jr pulls a Jimmy SwaggartThe big news now is that RC Sproul Jr has pulled a Jimmy Swaggart. Remember Jimmy? Now we're not about to infer that RC picks up hookers when he's out on the road speaking to homeschoolers and Prairie Muffins. But just that like Jimmy Swaggart, RC Sproul Jr doesn't seem to understand what being defrocked means.

Jimmy is one deviant dude. No sex, mind you, at least as long as we define "sex" with Bill Clinton's "I never had sex with that woman" definition of "sex." Jimmy likes to pick up hookers and, "Just get in the car honey, take off the panties, and we'll drive around for awhile while you entertain me."

Jimmy SwaggartEven though Jimmy Swaggart is now just a wrinkley old geezer he just can't seem to stop himself from wanting to help young ladies get a little fresh air. As recently as 2001 he was busted again with a whore. And he even gives them money that he get's from his ministry's financial supporters too (or at least the few he has left). What a charitable guy!

Jimmy Swaggart caught with prostitutes in Penthouse MagazineOnce the pictures of Jimmy with his lady friends went public Swaggart became an international scandal. Christians everywhere were embarrassed that a preacher of the gospel, and ambassador for Christ, could bring such shame on the name of their Redeemer. Swaggart was defrocked by the Assemblies Of God. Like the RPCGA they have Presbyteries too, albeit tongue-speaking Presbyteries. The AG offered Jimmy a deal where he could step down as head of his church and allow his assistant pastor to take over. All Jimmy needed to do to comply with the AG's deal was take a year off, seek counseling to overcome being a pervert, and then hopefully be restored to his ministry by the end of the year. Jimmy said, "No deal. If I'm not back in my poooolpit by this Sunday people will wind up going to hell." What a godly, honorable, selfless man you are Jimmy Swaggart. Glooorrry! Without men of God like you there'd be a lot more people in H-E-double hockey sticks.

Instead of obeying his Presbytery and stepping down, Jimmy staged a very emotional "repentance" before an international television audience. He figured that by shedding tears before the cameras he was then fit to step right back into the pulpit. But few of his supporters agreed, and it showed in Jimmy's financial support. Jimmy was used to seeing up to $500,000 a day come in from supporters. That dried up to a trickle in no time.

RC Sproul Jr is no televangelist. He probably despises televangelists, and if he does he'd be justified in doing so. But when it comes to doing the right thing RC Sproul Jr is no better than the typical sleezeball televangelist. On January 26, 2006 RC Sproul Jr and his fellow Elders were defrocked and reduced in status to "general membership" where they would remain under RPCGA jurisdiction pending trial. On February 2, 2006 the defrocked elders of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church submitted a written letter of repentance to the RPCGA. On February 3, 2006 the RPCGA, apparently in response to the defrocked elders' letter of repentance, released the deposed elders from the general membership of the RPCGA.

Drinking the RC Sproul Jr Kool-AidBarely two days after they had been released from the RPCGA, RC Sproul Jr and his fellow defrocked ministers arranged to have themselves voted back into office. The congregation of Saint Peter used to be Presbyterian now Congregational Church put the same bums back into the pulpit that the RPCGA had just declared unfit to be Elders. Pretty amazing stuff, especially for people who claim to be Presbyterians. That must be some serious mind-altering Kool-Aid.

The question we all have now RC is how are you any different from...

How is RC Sproul Jr different from Jimmy Swaggart?Jimmy Swaggart?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

RC Sproul Jr.: Scandalizing the Body of Christ

RC Sproul Jr Koolaidby: Patrick Poole

Warning: If you're not interested in presbyterian polity or keeping up with evangelical church news, come back later.

Preface: There are MANY who are saying that I don't have the right to publish this article. Some are already writing thinly-veiled screeds directing divine judgement at anyone having the audacity to make reasoned judgments from the well-established facts at issue here. "Touching the anointed of the Lord" kind-of stuff. Even the Moscow Mullah, the Pasha of the Palouse, Doug Wilson himself publicly commented AFTER the RPCGA's recent action to shout down any discussion about his friend R.C.'s defrocking. (Gee, Douggie, why can you publicly comment and none of us allowed to do the same?) Some have also said that ecclesiastical charges should be issued against anyone making the following statements (a position rife with irony, as you will see as you continue to read). At least one individual was bragging earlier this week about having another blog closed down in retaliation for publishing the truth about this ongoing matter (which, thankfully, has reappeared). That's the poisonous atmosphere that has been intentionally created in the wake of this situation. However, the stakes in this matter are not limited to discussion miniscule points of dogma or isolated to a Reformed micro-denomination. At this point, much is already a matter of public record, with all sides having their say. Thus far, at least to my knowledge, none of those self-appointed Reformed "super-stars" who are aware of this situation have been willing to say anything publicly about it, presumably hedging their bets on how this whole affair plays out. Someone has to say, "we must stop this madness, or else it will kill us all." It is a shame to the Church that it has to be left to someone as insignificant and unqualified in all senses as me to say it, but there it is.

As some observers are aware, on January 26th the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly (RPCGA) defrocked R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the entire session of St. Peter Presbyterian Church (link is to the Declaratory Judgment of the presbytery) for a laundry list of violations not in dispute by either the presbytery or the defrocked men. Additional disputed charges are to be brought up for trial by the presbytery.

As you can read in the Moderator's Declaratory Judgment (approved unanimously by the Westminster Presbytery), chief among the reasons for this action are abusive and unauthorized actions taken against members of the congregation, including refusing to allow the family to leave the church over doctrinal disputes, suspending them from the sacraments without trial, and ordering the entire congregation to "shun" the entire family (though only the husband and father was named in the session's censure). R.C. and the session members all agreed that these actions took place and offered their "apologies" (which fell along the lines of, "I'm so sorry you
r actions made me beat you..."). Additionally, several current and former church members gave written evidence to the same effect, including an apology letter sent to the targeted family from Rick Saenz, R.C.'s longtime and former personal assistant, admitting to not speaking out against the outrageous actions at the time they were occuring. St. Peter member (now former) Peter Kershaw should be applauded as well for being the first to denounce the treatment of the Austin family. You can read the entire documentary and evidentiary trail here.

These former church leaders have also admitted to illegally using the tax EID of another denomination as cover for the church and the Highlands Study Center, a violation of state and federal laws. Evidence has been given that this was deliberate and done at the direct instruction of R.C. himself. In light of this, the doctrinal differences between these former church leaders and the RPCGA noted in the Declaratory Judgment seem slight in comparison.

Again, this is all thus far undisputed and a matter of public record, with the written testimony of multiple witnesses and the confessions of the defrocked men themselves as witnesses against their abusive and illegal conduct.

All of the proceeding is not the cause of scandal to the body of Christ. This is biblical church discipline in process, and nothing unusual in that regard. If these men had shown repentance, it wouldn't be right for me or anyone outside. What is scandalous is the behavior of these men subsequent to their defrocking. At this moment, there is a note posted on the website of St. Peter Presbyterian Church/Highland Study Center that reads (UPDATE - the following quote has been removed from their website):

As many of you have read, Dr. Sproul Jr., along with the entire session of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, has heard from the moderator of the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Assembly, that they have been deposed from their offices as elders in the church. This action was taken without a trial, indeed without even a conversation. We disagree with the action taken, and are considering our options as to how to respond. What we will not do is take shots against our accusers over the internet, and would encourage you not to do so, either. Please be patient, and please pray for the peace and purity of the church.

Now this is patently Clintonesque. They say that they won't "take shots against our accusers over the internet." Where is this posted? That's right: on the Internet. And what do they say? "We've been wronged by these ecclesiastical fascists who didn't even give us a trial!" Aren't we all glad that they are refusing to say anything in their defense, especially over the Internet?

Now for the truth:
  • At this time, these men have been defrocked on the basis of their own testimony of their actions, confirmed by multiple witnesses. When a man pleads guilty, there is no trial. For those accusations that are disputed, and thus, still pending, a trial is being arranged by the presbytery.
  • They would have you believe that they are being railroaded by an out-of-control moderator (as evidenced by the attack on Westminster Presbytery Moderator Ken Talbot this week on WorldMagBlog [posts #37 and #38] by one of R.C.'s friends, David Zuniga), but in fact this action was approved in accordance with the RPCGA's Book of Church Order, which as a member of their presbytery these men have submitted to. The Declaratory Judgment cites the relevant BCO language that allows for summary judgment when the facts are not in dispute.
  • It is also important to note that the entire Westminster Presbytery approved this action, and approved it unanimously. This is not the decision of a lone moderator.
  • The claim that this action was taken "without even a conversation" is entirely false. Ken Talbot examined this matter for almost two months, and the Declaratory Judgment even cites conversations between R.C. and the presbytery on this matter.
  • Another fact is that the Declaratory Judgment cites a December 15th email from R.C. to Ken Talbot asking for swift resolution of this matter: “It appears that at least three of our four elders cannot stay in the denomination... The particular hardship is this. We especially don't want to leave with a cloud over our heads. Could you either, having let us go, hear the complaints against us, and issue a ruling, or barring that, could you forward all those complaints to where we end up? We have had much to repent of these past few weeks. We have done so. We are sorry in turn that our failures have caused trouble for you and the presbytery.” (page 10)

The moral of the story? Be careful what you wish for.

The quote taken from R.C.'s email is quite telling. By this time, the investigation was in full swing, and it was only at this point that the "St. Peter Four" decided that they couldn't stick around the RPCGA on the basis of their "convictions" of practicing paedo-communion--a practice strictly banned by the RPCGA since 1997. But when an investigation is launched on matters much more serious than their views on the Lord's Supper, these cowards suddenly develop "convictions"? Remember that these men took vows before God and their fellow elders in presbytery to be in submission to the system and the judgments of the RPCGA. But using the canard of "convictions", R.C. has asked that they either be tried only after they are allowed to leave the denomination, making any judgment by the RPCGA meaningless (because they will no longer have any jurisdiction), or allow some other as-yet unspecified denomination to examine the evidence (meaning that they might have to Catch R.c. Evacuating Christianity). But one thing is clear--they don't want the RPCGA, the only authorized authority, doing the trial. How's that for accountability? Maybe Doug Wilson will blog on that topic this week. He thinks that having taken oaths and vows before God and men that he can leave the denomination without so much as a "by your leave"? Aren't these the same Federal Vision "men without chests" who endlessly proclaim "the covenant, the covenant, the covenant of the Lord are these" over every minute detail of theology and beat anyone over the head who doesn't agree with their interpretation of it? Covenants and vows apparently now mean nothing to R.C. and his Gang. This is pathetic in-and-of itself, but it gets worse.

Does anyone else but me see the sickening irony that R.C. is demanding for himself what he was ugly reluctant to give to others? The Austin family, who was the subject of malicious persecution by the ordained leaders of St. Peter, were refused when they requested to leave the church for their disagreements over paedo-communion and other doctrinal issues. What did R.C. and the Gang use as justification for their refusal to let the Austin family leave? Their membership vows. Another family states (cited in the Declaratory Judgment, p. 3): “Because of this we became more determined than ever to leave the church. R.C. and Laurence became just as determined that they were not going to let us go. They told us we had taken a vow to the Elders to stay in the church, and we could not leave unless they released us. They told us that we would never be able to join another reformed church if we were not in good standing with St. Peter and we would need their release for that to happen.” (emphasis added)

From the documentary evidence available thus far, we can see that this refusal to let families leave the church was part of an abusive pattern. Furthermore, R.C. and the Gang made all members take vows beyond what was allowed by their denomination (point 5, pg. 7 of the Declaratory Judgment).

But that's still not fully viewing how scandalous this affair truly is. One of the things at issue in the Austin's de facto excommunication was that it was done without any trial whatsoever. At least Westminster Presbytery is willing to let these men go to trial for the matters that are in dispute, they having admitted to the substance of the charges laid out in the presbytery's Declaratory Judgment. That notwithstanding, R.C. and the Gang are still complaining that they were not given a trial before they were defrocked. But when the shoe was on the other foot, they felt completely justified in acting without due process against the Austin family and others in violation of denominational rules.

At this point, if you still feel any pity for these reprobates, remember that the RPCGA is acting in accordance with their Book of Church Order, which the former leaders of St. Peter agreed to live by when they entered the RPCGA. No one put a gun to their head to make them join this denomination, and their rules were not treated as some kind of Masonic secret; their BCO is published on their website. Those who live by presbyterian polity can die by presbyterian polity.

As of this date, the previous statement that the church was part of the RPCGA has now been removed from the church's website, making clear that these men are on the run. And they are looking for a safe haven. Time will tell where they might land, but at least one commentator, Tim Bayly, has provided this week a "hypothetical scenario" in which R.C. and the Gang could justifiably (sic) discuss moving their credentials to the CREC, where Douggie Wilson and his gang of drug dealers and illegal casino operators reside.

The scandal still keeps coming. R.C. has said that he is going to devote his time to the Highland Study Center, which has historically been a ministry of St. Peter Presbyterian Church (even sharing the illegally obtained tax EID number). However, R.C. incorporated Highland with the state of Virginia on January 10th (in the midst of the presbytery investigation), effectively stealing the ministry from the Church that he is not even a member of (ordained elders are members of the presbytery, not of the church they minister to). Whereas the St. Peter/Highland website used to read that Highland was "an integrated ministry of St. Peter Presbyterian Church", that is no longer the case. It has been pilfered by R.C. and the Gang.

RC Sproul Jr ecclesiastical tyranny
Make no mistake: these men are spiritual outlaws. No matter how much they want to hide behind their recently acquired "convictions" about the perils of presbyterian polity, they are autonomous religious renegades, and ought to be considered as such. Any ministry that planned to feature R.C. or any of his Gang as speakers at their events should withdraw the invitiation immediately, and anyone previously invited to speak at future Highland Study Center conferences should now decline to speak. Is this what I expect will happen? Not likely. These squibs are going to look for safe harbor, and my bet is that they'll get it. Some wanna-be Reformed micro-denomination would be glad to add R.C.'s name to their roster, regardless of the stench he drags behind him. Certainly there can be restoration with demonstrated repentance, and Lord willing, that will eventually occur. These men could even be restored to ministry at some future date. But as Westminster Presbytery has made clear, these men are currently unqualified and unfit to shepherd any flock:

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. They have no interest to govern themselves appropriately within this presbyterian system of government that they vowed to submit and conform to its rules and regulations with conduct becoming ministers of Jesus Christ. (Declaratory Judgment, p. 11)

RC Sproul Jr spiritual abuseNo one should should be under any illusions. R.C. and his Gang of Thugs will try to paint this as nothing more than a difference over doctrine. They are "suffering servants" for the cause of paedo-communion (what a pathetic hill to die on!). But this is one of the clearest cases of spiritual abuse and reckless leadership the evangelical world has seen in a while (excepting Certain Reformed Evangelical Cults in Idaho). These men are in fact unqualified and unfit for office (and at this point, membership) in any church, and should be regarded and treated as such. The Westminster Presbytery should be applauded for the lawful defrocking of these petty tyrants. Their decisive removal from office in the face of overwhelming evidence is presbyterian polity at its best. Other Reformed denominations have had similar cases where they have refused to act. And the presbytery is lucky to have a man like Ken Talbot (who is both a theologian/churchman and an attorney) to oversee this matter. In light of the present conduct of R.C. and the Gang, hopefully further sanctions will be forthcoming. R.C. and the Gang are a direct threat to the purity of the body of Christ. Their mockery of the Reformed ecclesiology that they have publicly preached but perverted in order to lord over others, will hopefully be put to an end. May this scandal be disassociated with the name of Christ.