Tuesday, May 30, 2006

CREC Says RC Sproul Jr Is "Considered Ordained"

RC Sproul Jr Time MagazineThe CREC Commission report on Saint Peter Presbyterian Church is out. Typical of the jumbletalk of Doug Wilson the conclusions of the report will leave sane people saying to themselves, "Huh?"

Many of RC Sproul Jr fans had predicted that the CREC Commission would "clear the names of the four St. Peter Elders for the whole Reformed world to see". Well, the CREC's report doesn't do that. In fact their report says:
"It is our finding that there were significant pastoral mistakes, errors and sins by the former Session."

Now this doesn't mean that the "significant pastoral mistakes, errors and sins" were "significant" enough to prevent them from rolling out the CREC red carpet. No! Just about any defrocked Presbyterian minister with a pulse and some brainwaves is welcome in the one "Reformed confederation" with virtually no standards at all.

Doug Wilson has trained well his hand-picked Commission members for their difficult task, to make a Presbyterian minister who was defrocked for ecclesiastical tyranny and tax fraud look as though it really wasn't all that bad. But since the evidence against him was incontrovertible, the best way of dealing with it is to just not deal with it at all. Just ignore the evidence and hope that no one notices. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The great and powerful Wizard Of Moscow has spoken."

In language that only a Wilsonista could concoct:
"Although Mr. Sproul was deposed from the ministry (primarily for violations of the RPCGA BCO which would not apply in the CREC), we have determined that since he had been previously examined for ordination (by three different presbyteries of three denominations ARPC, PCA, and RPCGA), he shall not be required to fulfill the process for ordination and shall be considered ordained within the CREC accordingly."

So RC Sproul Jr is defrocked, but in the CREC he's "considered ordained"! People in their right minds will have a real difficult time sorting this one out. But in the alternate universe of Doug Wilson's CREC it somehow all makes sense. And even if it doesn't make sense it doesn't really need to. After all, it's just the CREC.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Highlands Study Center Generations Conference a Dud

Doug Phillips Howard Phillips RC Sproul Jr RC SproulWe've been asked by a number of folks to post an update about RC Sproul Jr's Generations Conference. Given the scant information that's come out about the conference we thought at first we hardly had enough to warrant posting an article. But then that's a significant part of the story -- how little anyone wants to talk about it, including the normally very talkative speakers.

Take for example what Doug Phillips posted on his blog -- pictures, pictures, pictures, and. . . well you get the point. Lots of fluff, no substance. Why isn't Doug telling us anything? He probably has good reason for that.

The only folks who are actually saying much of anything at all is a Highlands Study Center employee and his wife (and of course we can count on them to be honest and objective). They've posted several articles on the Generations Conference. Funny thing is they expend most of their time talking about things completely unrelated to the actual conference, like eating supper with the Sprouls and Phillips in RC Jr's home in Mendotaville. Yet they tell us next to nothing about the actual conference. The most extensive article is by Amy Howard, and the title of Amy Howard's article is (now get this), "Dinner After The Conference... An Historic Event."

We're sure glad that the Howard family had "an historic event" over supper at RC Jr's home. It would've been great if all the conference attendees could've shared in the "historic event" with you. But if you think the conference itself was an historic event you're sadly mistaken. We've heard from more than one attendee how utterly unimpressed they were -- the conference was a dud -- an historic disappointment.*

Around 600 people attended (that includes children), far less than the 1000-plus they had planned for. Considering the Highlands Study Center conference had over 400 attendees last year with just Doug Phillips and RC Sproul Jr, and they only brought the figures up by 200 by adding the legendary Dr. RC Sproul and Howard Phillips, that's not very impressive. We're told they lost quite a bit of money on last year's conference, and it's likely they lost money again. Poor planning (like overinflating your attendee estimates) will do that.

Nothing was mentioned at the conference about RC Sproul Jr's recent defrocking. In fact that was a subject that was carefully avoided. One way to avoid the subject is to prevent anyone from asking any embarrassing questions. We're told that the speakers kept themselves at a distance from the audience, with the exception of when the speakers made brief appearances at their book tables. A number of "ushers" prevented audience members from approaching the speakers during breaks, so it was all but impossible to ask any of them any questions, especially the dreaded, "Sir, what are you doing speaking at a conference with a defrocked minister?"

Oddly enough there's been nothing said anywhere on the internet since the conference. It's almost as if the people that attended were so unimpressed that they're embarrassed to admit they were there. If it had been a great conference we'd expect to see something posted about it somewhere -- anywhere. Well, there is this, which not coincidentally looks remarkably like Doug Phillips' blog content. Doug trains his boys well -- when you're trying to avoid an embarrassing subject, don't say anything of any substance, but post lots of pictures.

The one and only blog article we can find not written by someone who's either a Generations Conference speaker or working for one of the speakers are these folks, and they wrote it before they hit the road to go to the Generations Conference. We saw several people post comments to that article asking them to give a report on the conference when they got back. According to what they're stating they got back from the conference on May 8, but they have yet to post anything about their conference experience. That may not necessarily mean anything, but what's significant is the fact that they deleted the comments of people who had asked them for a conference report, and they've now disabled commenting altogether! Now if that's not sending a message. . .

We have no doubt that if RC Sproul Jr had done the honorable thing and removed himself from the speaker's lineup it could have been a good conference. But RC Sproul Jr's presence there spoiled it for a lot of people.

A number of conference attendees weren't even aware that RC Sproul Jr had been defrocked until they got to the conference and overheard other conference attendees talking about it. Imagine their shock! Now there's a great way to put a damper on a conference that otherwise had high potential. No doubt a lot of folks felt duped and cheated.

As we've already stated:
"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?"
There's not much now that RC Sproul Jr can do about salvaging the family name of Sproul. But he could at least stop embarrassing himself and his family by continuing to draw attention to himself. The right thing to do is to cease teaching and preaching, at least until he can arrange to get his name cleared and get himself reordained. Better still a defrocked preacher just needs to find himself another line of work -- at least that's what those men do who have any genuine regard for honor.

The honorable thing for RC Sproul Jr to have done would have been to remove himself from the conference lineup. If only RC Sproul Jr were capable of doing the honorable thing.

*Now that we've posted this, you can count on Doug Phillips to post a lengthy article on his blog with an over-the-top report gushing about how incredibly wonderful, edifying and warm and fuzzy the Generations Conference was, and what an incredibly honorable guy RC Sproul Jr is. It's part of Doug's MO. He just can't help coming to the defense of defrocked ministers like RC Sproul Jr.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A More Arrogant Way

Pastor Laurence Windham Saint Peter Presbyterian Church"Arrogant" is a term that has often been applied to RC Sproul Jr and his Saint Peter church (now defrocked) Elders. Fellow defrocked Elder Laurence Windham has faithfully followed in the footsteps of his mentor. Those who've known Laurence Windham personally report that he can't seem to resist the temptation of putting himself on a pedestal and lording his "wisdom" and "authority" over others.

Multiple reports have come our way that portray Laurence Windham as a man absorbed with his self-importance. For example, it's been reported to us from more than one source that Mr. Windham has said such self-aggrandizing things as, "I'm like a rock star. People just flock to me. The chicks really dig me." Humility seems a foreign concept to these guys, and one doesn't need to know them personally to perceive how full of themselves they are. There's nothing particularly discrete about their arrogance. All one has to do to see it is read what they've written.

As much as we appreciate Reformed theology, we've often found ourselves embarrassed by the pride exemplified in at least some of our Reformed brethren. We know we're right, and that everyone else's theology is defective, if not just plain goofy. The arrogance with which some Reformed men attempt to proselytize has rarely ever won any converts. Indeed, all that men like Laurence Windham tend to accomplish is to cause the evangellyfish objects of their proselytizing to further entrench themselves in their evangellyfish theology. They say to themselves (and perhaps rightly so), "Arrogant SOBs. If that's the fruit that comes of Reformed theology then count me out." Windham and those like him often spend far more of their time and energies on trying to convert the saved to Reformed theology than they do evangelizing the lost. What Sproul and Windham communicate is that the saved aren't truly saved unless they're also Reformed and paedo-baptist and paedo-communion.

Laurence Windham typifies not only the arrogant Reformed proselytizer, but one who finds gratification in being rejected by the inferior "evangellyfish." In his view, rejection is validation of not only the theology he espouses, but even his tactless and arrogant demeanor. "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake." (Luke 6:22) So Laurence Windham tells himself, "Jesus said that men will hate me and reproach me for speaking the truth. Men hate me and reproach me, so that must mean that I'm speaking the truth," all the while forgetting that we're commanded to "speak the truth in love," (Eph 4:15) not as arrogant know-it-alls.

In a 2001 edition of Every Thought Captive there appeared an article entitled A More Excellent Way. In it Mr. Windham recounts his self-appointed mission to convert several Bristol-area Vineyard Church Elders to Reformed theology. It's from that article that we hereinafter quote. From the very first line Windham's arrogance shines through:
"The art of persuasion can be a difficult one. Especially when you have won the argument and the other person doesn't know that they have lost."
To the best of our knowledge, winning an argument is predicated upon:
  1. The opposing party's admission that they have lost the argument, or
  2. A disinterested third party (a judge), by pre-arrangement of the two opposing parties, declares a winner (e.g. a formal debate).
In his arrogance Windham assumes the position of both a debater and the debate judge, thereby guaranteeing himself the winner, at least in his own mind. He pronounces that he has "won the argument," therefor, ex cathedra (or rather, by mere fiat), it is so, because I declare it so.
"My motivation was founded on the passages from Scripture regarding Aquila and Priscilla's ministry of teaching the young Apollos what he lacked."
And we have no doubt but that Windham's "motivation" came through loud and clear. God the Holy Spirit isn't capable of showing you what I can. The Word isn't sufficient. You need the Word and Laurence Windham. Our roles and positions are clear. I am the older, wiser, more knowledgeable one (Aquila) and you are the younger, immature, unlearned, needy one (Apollos) who must yield to my authority.
"They love the Lord. And yet when it came to a friendly challenge of what the Word says about worship... they proved to be Thessolonican. They lacked the humbleness of Apollos."
Laurence Windham accuses others of "lacking the humbleness of Apollos"? Unbelievable! Then again, those who know Mr. Windham personally would say, given the size of that beam in his eye it's very believable.
"I began to get an idea of how the Apostle Paul must have felt when dealing with the Corinthians. They doubted his authority."
When we distill it all down Windham's presumed "authority" is the problem. Christians and even many non-Christians recognize real authority when they see it. The Pharisees recognized Jesus' authority, and even the authority of John the Baptist who came before Jesus. They also recognized the authority of Jesus' disciples after Jesus' ascension, and they even had a certain fear of the disciples. But only the most gullible acknowledge a man who arrogantly presumes authority when he has none. Windham's comparison of himself to the Apostle Paul is just further evidence of his arrogance.
"At the conclusion of my last meeting with the Vineyard leadership, I calmly and firmly said, 'Your church's history will from this point on have recorded this event where you were confronted by the Scriptures regarding your beliefs and will also remember that you were challenged by someone who desired to search the Scripture with you in order to show you a more excellent way. And that you refused'."
Sounds almost prophetic, doesn't it? So is Windham a true prophet or a false prophet? As far as we can determine Windham's prophetic utterance proved false. In point of fact, Windham's prophetic utterance was much more applicable to himself than it was to his Vineyard brethren, albeit about five years premature.

Where does Windham's scriptural authority come from in this "more excellent way"? From 1 Corinthians 12:31, the prequel to Paul's famous chapter on love (1 Cor 13), "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."

How remarkable -- no, how hypocritical -- that this man who arrogantly presumes authority over church leaders in another church, when in reality he had no authority over them whatsoever, would speak of the "more excellent way" and yet not show them the love of Christ, or even the basic respect they were due as fellow-heirs of the Gospel. Even more amazing is that he would be so insolent as to memorialize his supercilious, haughty deportment in an ETC article for the world to read.
"If anyone can show me my errors, or misconceptions, or fallacies, I welcome them to do so. And they have. And that is why I am where I am today."
And where are you today, Mr. Windham? You are exactly where God has decreed that you be. You are defrocked. The mantle of authority that you used to lord it over others has been stripped from you. Men who had genuine authority over you (your Presbytery), as well as fellow pastors and other believers, (probably also including those Vineyard church Elders) attempted to show you your "errors, or misconceptions, or fallacies." But you wouldn't listen. And so you left your Presbytery with no choice but to discipline you.

May you be humbled. May you repent to God and to those whom you have offended in your arrogance. May you learn to walk in the "more excellent way." But failing that, remember what you have pronounced on others for refusing to pursue "a more excellent way":
"Your history will from this point on have recorded this event where you were confronted by the Scriptures regarding your beliefs and will also remember that you were challenged by someone who desired to search the Scripture with you in order to show you a more excellent way."