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.


At 11:51 AM, Blogger prairie girl said...

Uh, not exactly unconnected. This man works very closely with Vision Forum.

My take on the absence of information is that those who attended probably want to continue supporting these men, as so many have done. Are their tapes available anywhere? Usually these conferences will offer tapes and make them available to those who could not attend. I would think that Highlands or Vision Forum would be offering them.

BTW, the best thing about the pictures sans commentary was the beautiful wallpaper at the Washinton Inn!

Oh, I was also wondering...were women allowed to attend this conference? If not, what was there for them to do with their children?

At 11:53 AM, Blogger prairie girl said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that he is also running for treasurere in the state of Illinois on the Constitution party ticket.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Je Me Sovereign said...

Now that folks have had a chance get settled back at home, some blog reports are rolling in...

I Need to Stay Humble

Vacation Details

How to Honor

Oh... and last year's numbers were closer to 280; this year's were over 700. Not 1000, mind you, but not exactly the same as 400 v. 600.


At 8:45 PM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

Yes, we heard somewhere that they will be offering CDs of the conference.

And yes, women were allowed to attend the conference, along with the kids. No one can fault RC Jr for not being family friendly. At least in that regard he deserves a nod.

We're told there were 200 families there, and that there were far more women and children there than men. That helped HSC considerably in getting their total numbers up to something they evidently considered to be respectable.

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took a look at the pics from the conference...Have I missed something? Is that the same Howard Phillips that ran for Prez a few years ago? Wasn't he the Liberaterian candidate? Sure looks like the same guy.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

Howard Phillips founded the Constitution Party and he's run a couple of times for President as the CP's candidate. Tragically the CP is starting to look a lot more like the Libertarians these days:

"On April 21, 2006, the national CP voted to recognize state’s rights to be of greater import than the right to life itself. They have merely replaced the mantra, “'My body, my choice,' with, 'My party, my choice'!”
My Party, My Choice:
The Constitution Party Goes Pro-abort

Thank you Mr. Phillips

At 8:45 AM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

I forgot to directly answer your question re Howard Phillips in the picture above and Howard Phillips the Constitution Party guy now apparently turned Libertarian guy. Yes, they are in fact the same man.

At 4:19 AM, Blogger Dave Norris said...

You might like to check out Sproul in space at

At 12:57 PM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

Thanks David. As you probably know we really appreciate good satire.

At 8:06 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 defense 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 repeatedly 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 RC Sproul Jr and his Saint Peter Session have 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 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 politely discuss what's already been stated in the RPCGA's Declaratory Judgment) but it's perfectly acceptable for Sproul and his fellow defrocked elders to slander the RPCGA. That's nothing but hypocrisy.

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


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