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.

11 Comments:

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Frank Vance said...

I share many of the same concerns. I don't see how any of these homeschool and church groups could have Sproul Jr. speak at their functions and not have it be interpreted by most folks as their endorsement of him. It's causing a lot of people a lot of confusion. Last week I wrote a letter to Doug Phillips, Scott Brown and Jim Zes. They're all affiliated with the National Center for Family Integrated Churches, and all of them either are hosting conferences or speaking at conferences with R.C. Sproul, Jr.

I wrote a similar letter to Kevin Swanson who's in charge of
Christian Home Educators of Colorado. Kevin Swanson pastors Reformation Church and he's an Orthodox Presbyterian Church pastor. If anyone should know better than to have a defrocked Presbyterian minister address a large homeschool audience you'd think he would. Pastor Swanson was the only man, thus far, who got back to me. His reply was cordial, but non-committal. As far as I could tell he's still planning on having Sproul Jr speak.

Here's my letter to them. If others share the concern maybe they should consider writing these men too.

Messrs. Zes, Brown and Phillips,

I write to you three because of our common interest and support of the family integrated church, as well as your public professions for maintaining the purity and peace of the church. Our rather large family is grateful to you men for the what you represent and the work you do. We're starting to have some successes in our own little church with covenantalism and family integration, but it hasn't been easy to break through the ingrained programatic traditions.

Now we've run into a snag, and I'm sad to say that the public impression you men are making is part of our problem. It's been brought to our attention that each of you men are either hosting conferences yourself, or speaking at conferences hosted by others, that RC Sproul, Jr. is also a speaker at. Since you're all probably well acquainted with Mr. Sproul, Jr. I need not point out to you that he was recently deposed from office by his Presbyterian denomination.

Though my family isn't Presbyterian we are Reformed and would probably be in a Presbyterian church, if there were any good ones around us. We have high regard for Presbyterian government, and so do most Presbyterians. It's not a minor thing for a Presbyterian denomination to defrock one of their own Elders, and as I understand it the charges against him were grievous in nature.

Mr. Zes you state on your Reformation Christian Assembly Marriage Conference web site, "R.C. Sproul, Jr. - R.C. is a pastor of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church..." How can a defrocked man still be a pastor? Are you giving credence to the story that we've heard that Mr. Sproul, Jr. had a congregational vote recently taken to reinstate him as the pastor? If that's true then I don't think that Saint Peter can any longer be "Presbyterian" can it? And if that in fact took place isn't Mr. Sproul, Jr. functioning in open rebellion to the denomination that stripped him of his ordination?

Mr. Brown, we've heard very good things about you, sir. We're confused why you'd agree to be sharing the podium with a defrocked minister, and so is everyone else in our church and homeschool group (many are talking about it).

Mr. Phillips, we have high regard for you, sir. You've been an incredible blessing and an asset to those things that we hold dear. But is it not true that you're speaking at an upcoming conference with RC Sproul, Jr. on "Giving Honor to Whom Honor is Due"? You of all men should know better than to allow your personal friendships to trump your own principles of honor and integrity. It's impossible for me to explain what you're doing to my wife and children, to our friends in church, to our homeschool group, and the incredible confusion you're causing us. None of us can figure it out. It looks bad because it is bad, and it's made worse by the fact that you haven't made any public statements on your blog, or anywhere else that we've seen.

Perhaps none of you have bothered to read the public documents on the defrocking of RC Sproul, Jr. Perhaps you believe by neglecting to do so you can avoid having to make a determination about what your moral obligations are. If that's so then I'm even more disillusioned and disappointed in you, because that would be a matter of willful ignorance.

This isn't a minor issue. It's a matter of being consistent with what you men have all publicly stated about the values you claim to hold dear. I'd really like to know what you men are thinking about all this. Please do respond at your earliest convenience.

Yours in Christ Jesus,

Frank Vance

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

I also suffered through reading Ligonier Tales. I kept reading in the hopes of seeing some evidence of repentance, but sadly did not. It would seem that this latest situation also shows a serious lack of repentance.

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended the Ligonier Conference 3 years ago and the Pre-Conference was almost as well attended as the Conference itself. It is definitely more than a "warm-up act."

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

We stand by our earlier claim that pre-conference sessions are warmup acts, and that they are generally sparsely attended by comparison to the main conference.

We have it on good authority that over 100 people have already cancelled their registrations at the Ligioneer conference this year, and that the primary reason for all the cancellations is the appearance there of RC Sproul Jr. Apparently Dr. RC Sproul hasn't taken that message to heart, or he would have cancelled his son. We'd be willing to bet he won't make the same mistake again.

It'll be interesting to hear that, of those who are attending the Ligonier Conference, how many will actually go to hear RC Jr.

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Frank Vance said...

I finally got a "response" out of Doug Phillips, or at least Doug Phillips' assistant, two weeks to the day after I sent my first email to them on Feb 22:

Dear Mr. Vance:

We were in the process of writing a response when a friend forwarded to our attention this very letter from you replete with (uninformed) charges and accusations against our Board which you posted on the internet. Our long standing policy precludes involving ourselves in or contributing to unaccountable internet gossip. Consequently, given your behavior, it would be in violation of our policy to respond further.

Sincerely,

Joshua Harris
Assistant to the President
jharris@visionforum.com
(210) 340-5250, EXT. 272


If this is the same Joshua Harris that "kissed dating goodbye" my opinion of him now isn't nearly what it used to be. Here's my response:

Joshua,

Thanks for your non-responsive response and your complete evasion of a very important issue.

I resent you allegation of "gossip." By definition,
gossip is: "Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature" (American Heritage Dictionary). Nothing I have posted on the internet qualifies as "gossip." It's all public information, and for you to characterize it as "gossip," just because you don't like the fact that it's public news, is dishonest.

While I can appreciate why you would want to try and make a big secret out of all of this, that's simply an impossibility, and it would also be evidence of your trying to sweep a vital issue under the rug. In point of fact, that's exactly what you're doing with your non-responsive response, all in the name of your "policy."

Show me how your "policy" is biblical, Josh, and we'll then have the basis for some responsible Christian dialogue. And if I have in fact violated Scripture, and not just your silly policy, I'll repent.

If my email was indeed "replete with (uninformed) charges and accusations against our Board" the mature thing to do is to set the record straight. I'm open to correction, Josh. I'm just not real receptive to evasion and false accusations (e.g. "gossip").

Better yet, Josh, since I wasn't necessarily looking for a direct and personal response anyway, have Doug post something on his blog that addresses not only my concerns, but the concerns of a lot of other folks, as well. You can fabricate any convenient excuse you want for sweeping this under the carpet on my account, but you can't do that with everyone. Sooner or later this has to be addressed.

Doug is speaking at RC's conference on "honor." Evasiveness isn't honorable, it's just shifty. So do something honorable and address this.

Thank you,

Frank


If I receive any response I'll let you know, but I'm not holding my breath. Anyone who believes that any of those Vision Forum or Family Integrated church guys "were in the process of writing a response" I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you. They evaded responding at all for two weeks, and then when they saw my post here they played the "gossip" card to permanently avoid responding at all.

I'm starting to get really disillusioned with Christians who peddle their wares to homeschoolers and family integrated churches and speak of "honor" and even speak at conferences about "honor." It all sounds so convincing, at least until their buddies start getting themselves into serious trouble. Then they act no better than the average shifty politician who just does what's expedient rather than what's right. And just like politiicians they'll do anything they can to avoid answering an embarrassing question, or be held accountable. And these guys have the nerve to accuse me of being "unaccountable"? Incredible!

Worse yet, these folks that we have supported for years and thought and spoken of so highly of have the nerve to even accuse me of "gossip" when all I'm trying to do is hold them accountable. So how is their behavior any different from the typical shifty politician?

 
At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not the same Joshua Harris. Joshua Harris who "kissed dating goodbye" has been appointed to take C.J. Mahaney's place as senior pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. C.J. Mahaney's moved up to focus on Sovereign Grace Ministries.

 
At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is complete crap. Such idiotic allegations, that really have no substance.
This blog doesn't cut it, even as a parody....
As for honor, you do not know the meaning of the word. You bring shame upon yourself. Defrocking....come on.

Bill Sproul (
Military Officer, 30 yrs service
I Serve With Honor

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

Thank you "Bill Sproul, Military Officer, 30 yrs service" for your insightful comments. FYI this site isn't a parody site. Everything here is completely factual, with only a little humor periodically mixed in for fun. If you're looking for the parody and satire site on RC Sproul Jr go to Drinking With RC Sproul Jr. There you'll have a real knee-slappin' good time!

Thank you for also making it so obvious that you're just one of RC Sproul Jr's shills. No real military officer would sign his name, "Military Officer, 30 yrs service," whether he's active or retired. Go figure out how a military officer signs his name and come back and try your juvenile stunt again.

 
At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Ian Hardie said...

If you haven't already seen it Doug Phillips wrote an excellent article Honor as a Defining Principle for Life. Doug Phillips has some excellent things to say. Doug is also a very effective marketer; "honor" sells and it sells big. But talk is cheap, so let's talk real-life application, shall we? Honor is easy to theorize and discuss when everything's going fine for us and for our friends and family and our pastor. The real test of honor is when we or they are being disciplined, or even being persecuted. Do we humbly submit, or do we grouse and retaliate? It's one thing to defend ourselves, our friends and family or our pastor when they've been unjustly condemned. Even still, honor demands that we do so in light of the 5th commandment, particularly when we're having to deal with those in authority over us. But what if we or they haven't been unjustly condemned? Then we'd better be especially guarded in what we say.

I'm troubled by how Doug Phillips, Doug Wilson and others have acted in the RC Sproul Jr defrocking. Their example is deplorable. They call their defenses of RC Sproul Jr "honor" but it is no such thing. While they point the accusatory finger at those who refuse to "honor" the great, but now defrocked, RC Sproul Jr, they've completely ignored the fact that Sproul and his session have slandered the RPCGA (talk about dishonoring). They started in slandering within hours after they'd been defrocked and they've continued slandering and telling blatant falsehoods. Given how dishonorable their conduct has been how can they expect to be honored in return? Indeed, by the very example they have set they should only expect to be rebuked.

Moreover, given that they've been lawfully defrocked they're not ordained ministers/pastors/shepherds/overseers anyway. What authority do they have? None! Their ecclesiastical authority has been stripped from them. The only people that they presently have any authority over is their own wives and children. Biblically they don't warrant receiving any more honor than any layman does.

The message that Sproul and Phillips and Wilson have been sending is that it's a violation of the 5th commandment to ever say anything negative about Sproul (even if it's just to repeat what's already been stated in the public documents such as the RPCGA's Declaratory Judgment) but it's perfectly acceptable for Sproul and his fellow defrocked elders to slander the RPCGA. Some might buy that, but I don't. I think that's nothing but hypocrisy.

Writing such a fine article on honor doesn't mitigate Doug Phillips' hypocrisy, it only magnifies it.

 
At 12:39 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I agree with you on everything, dear RC, except one: Doug Phillips IS a fool. Thanks for the awesome blog.

Dear Vance, you can't expect sense out of the wicked Phillips or dumber than cockroach Brown. Josh Harris, however, is continually sinking in my favor. He's a little fool to be mingling with these people; I hope his little bros don't follow in his footsteps.

 
At 12:45 AM, Blogger Jennifer said...

OK, I just finished reading the whole post now. RC, are you joking? You think Phillips is a man of honor? He has destroyed reputations, stolen work, ripped apart churches, told abused women to be submissive, and preached that women should die in doomed ectopic pregnancies rather than abort. His record actually outdoes Sproul's by far: he does NOT honor women but hates them; he does not honor children but wishes to control them.

 

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