Monday, July 24, 2006

RC Sproul Jr Divides Home School Groups

RC Sproul Jr, When You Rise Up, A Covenantal Approach To Homeschooling
Among other things RC Sproul Jr is the author of When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling. It's important to say "among other things" because RC Sproul Jr is also a defrocked minister. Being the author of a well-respected primer on homeschooling and also being defrocked makes for an interesting if not highly controversial combination.

If you head up a home school group or some other Christian organization and you'd like to be accused of duplicity and folly, and if you'd also like to cause an acrimonious fight that could easily result in splitting your organization, a surefire way of accomplishing it is to contract with RC Sproul Jr to speak for your group. Also, be sure you don't tell your members in advance of your big event that RC Sproul Jr has been defrocked (a lot of people still don't know, so keep it a secret).

Prior to his defrocking on January 26, 2006 RC Sproul Jr was signed up to speak at several different functions, including speaking for two different home school groups, Christian Home Education Association of Central Texas (CHEACT) and Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC).

The question that loomed large for many concerned Christians was would those groups do the principled thing and cancel RC Sproul Jr and ask that a suitable speaker take his place on their podiums? In both cases they had ample advance warning prior to their June 2006 conferences and could have easily arranged different speakers to take RC Sproul Jr's place. But neither home school group did that. In both cases RC Sproul Jr had close personal ties and friendships with the directors and/or other key players in those organizations, and friendships won the day over principle.

We received several emails from home school families who'd previously intended to attend those conferences. They had the same concerns that we did. They couldn't in good conscience attend a conference where a defrocked minister was teaching biblical principles when he'd been stripped of his teaching authority and told that he was "not qualified." Some of these families were Baptists and independents, yet they seemed to appreciate the ramifications of church discipline and being defrocked better than many Presbyterians do.

One such email we received from a home school family included a copy of a written statement from CHEACT that they'd received as a direct result of expressing their concerns. The interesting thing is that this family was specifically told by CHEACT director Brett Adams that the document was not a public document, but rather was private. So why the big secret?

At least CHEACT attempted to offer some kind of response (poor though it may have been) to people's concerns. We've been told by people who contacted CHEC that their concerns were largely ignored. In point of fact CHEC director Kevin Swanson posted an article on his blog in which he infers that all of RC Sproul Jr's problems occurred as a direct result of "Alexander the Coppersmith" bloggers. No doubt that would include this blog. Yes, you heard it right! RC Sproul Jr was defrocked because of bloggers! That's like saying that Richard Nixon was impeached only because of Bob Woodward and the Washington Post. As an ordained Presbyterian minister Pastor Kevin Swanson should know better, but Pastor Swanson is evidently more motivated by his friendships than he is by biblical principle.

For conference attendees to have concerns over RC Sproul Jr's defrocking, and to express them, they'd first have to be aware that RC Sproul Jr had been defrocked. Many people didn't know that prior to attending CHEACT and CHEC, and CHEACT and CHEC did nothing to inform anyone about it, either on their web sites, or at the time people registered, or even after attendees showed up at the conferences. At no time did CHEACT or CHEC make any disclosures of RC Sproul Jr's defrocking. So how's that any different from a marriage enrichment conference not informing guests as they register that the keynote speaker was recently handed divorce papers because his wife caught him with a mistress?

Many people only discovered that RC Sproul Jr had been defrocked for the first time at the CHEACT and CHEC conferences, much like many folks first learned that RC Sproul Jr had been defrocked for the first time when they attended the Highlands Study Center Generations Conference. But even then they didn't find out by conference staff members. The way they found out was by overhearing it from other attendees there. Needless to say, this came as quite a shock to many. We don't view that as honest advertising. CHEACT and CHEC acted no differently from what the Highlands Study Center did by not informing the attendees of the Generations Conference.

Only those people who already knew that RC Sproul Jr had been defrocked, and only those who specifically contacted CHEACT director Brett Adams, received a written statement (people who contacted CHEC received nothing):


March 14, 2006

As a preamble, we issue the following disclaimer about resources with which CHEACT partners: "While CHEACT endeavors to assemble speakers, exhibitors and presenters who provide encouragement and relevant resources to home school families, the views and opinions expressed by speakers, exhibitors and presenters do not necessarily reflect those of the CHEACT Board or its members." This is not an abdication of responsibility by our Board, but rather a statement of fact and an acknowledgement that we are a diverse membership with different scriptural understandings. In fact, the Board of Directors of CHEACT takes responsibility to exercise due diligence by following up on every issue brought to our attention involving organizations and people with which we partner to safeguard, promote and encourage home schooling that glorifies God in central Texas families. That has meant researching curriculum, speakers and exhibitors (aka "content"). From time to time, this has precipitated in the removal of specific content from our conferences either by discontinuing the extension of invitations to participate in the future and sometimes by ordering content removed on the spot.

We view all possible content in one of three categories: immoral, amoral and moral. As it is our policy to disallow all content that is "hostile to the cause of Christ," we focus specifically on the immoral category, tolerate the amoral and embrace the moral. To identify what is truly immoral we investigate organization ties ("the money trail"), the background of the principals involved and available comments by others ­ taking into consideration from whom the opinion comes as well.

CHEACT is not a church or affiliated with any particular denomination. In fact, there is representation from just about every major denomination amongst our membership. Even our Board of Directors has diverse background and theological understanding, but that does not preclude us from joining together to advance the Gospel by striving toward our organization's mission. CHEACT cannot and will not be used to advance a certain denomination's agenda or any personal agendas other than those consistent with our mission.

Under my watch as Chairman of the Board for the past seven years, we have not found it necessary to issue a public statement in support of or in opposition to possible conference content. Instead, we have successfully handled these issues quietly, behind the scenes. But because of the relatively high profile of this summer's keynote speaker, and what we view to be an unscriptural handling of personal grievances by individuals using the Internet to sow discord, we would like to offer an opposing view in support of Dr. Sproul and our decision to not dismiss him as our keynote speaker.

For those of you not familiar with the structure of the Presbyterian Church, each local church has a "Session" made up of the pastor(s) and other elders in the church. Each session submits to a "Presbytery" in the church's denomination. There are 35+ denominations that call themselves by the name "Presbyterian." Here is a brief chronology of events:

1. On February 25, 2005, CHEACT contracted with Dr. Sproul to be our keynote speaker ­ long before the initial Declaratory Judgment leveled against him by his own denomination dated January 26, 2006. At that same time, we decided to send every renewing or new member of CHEACT a copy of his book, "When You Rise Up ­ A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling" as one of the best books we have collectively read that supports our mission to promote Homeschooling that glorifies God.

2. On January 26, 2006, the Westminster Presbytery, Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly (RPCGA), issued an 11­page Declaratory Judgment against Dr. Sproul and the session at large of St. Peter Church. It must be noted that this judgment was issued prior to any communication or requests for clarification from the Session. Some took this opportunity to publicly blast Dr. Sproul in a manner completely inconsistent with that found in Matthew 18, highlighting the fact that he was officially defrocked.

3. On January 29, 2006, CHEACT was alerted to the situation.

4. On February 3, 2006 ­ after having taken the opportunity to discuss each alleged violation directly with the deposed Session­ the Westminster Presbytery issued a 2­page letter of acceptance and forgiveness for clarifications and apologies regarding each of the named violations. The letter also formally released the former session members with the following words; "Again, we praise God for your confession and repentance. We pray and exhort all Christians to seek repentance and reconciliation as you gentlemen have professed in your letter because as Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. has written, '... a true man takes responsibility for his failures. That is why a godly man's best posture in on his knees repenting....' We believe you men have modeled this attitude before all, and we are most humbled by your humility. Be assured that our love and prayers are for each of you." They were released without censure.

In summary, the alleged violations of this particular denomination's rules by the session of which Dr. Sproul was a part have been resolved to the denomination's satisfaction. And as each of these issues pertains to his role as pastor of a flock, and not home school writer and speaker, we see no reason to dismiss him as our speaker. Another cause for concern would have beenif he was acting in a manner resistant to the authority that God has placed over him, but the final letter from the Presbytery absolves him of this potential character issue (see #4 above) to our satisfaction. The RPCGA has moved on and so must we.

So, what steps did the CHEACT Board follow to come to these conclusions?

First, we read everything regarding the issues that we could find. Next, we sought clarification from Dr. Sproul's organization on each of the issues. We sought to understand the relevant portions of the RPCGA's Book of Church Order and to understand what portions of the denomination's rules and regulations had not been disclosed to the session at St. Peter­ which is openly admitted by the Presbytery in the letter of forgiveness and release. Finally, we sought to understand how these events within a denomination affected our ability to accomplish our mission outside of the denomination. It is not our role to take a position on any of the issues raised or dismissed by the RCPGA, unless they were to impact Dr. Sproul's ability to help us accomplish our mission.

Therefore, we have decided to keep Dr. Sproul as our keynote speaker for this summer's conference. We remain convinced that this brother has a lot to offer the home schooling community in the areas of instruction, encouragement and challenge as we endeavor to home school our children for the glory of God. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Sproul as the keynote speaker at a conference that will be jam­ packed with the resources and encouragement central Texans need to keep home schooling for the glory of God.

The Board of Directors,
Christian Home Education Association of Central Texas (CHEACT)
"Homeschooling for the Glory of God"
(Original signed)

So RC Sproul Jr still "has a lot to offer." Evidently that's all it takes to qualify to be a CHEACT speaker. Personal character and integrity are irrelevant. The fact that RC Sproul Jr abused his office and several church families, broke his ordination vows, and stole the tax ID number of another church denomination is irrelevant. CHEACT's letter is full of sham excuses and pragmatic rationalizing, but comes up short on biblical principle and honoring the church discipline of the denomination that had ordained and then defrocked RC Sproul Jr.

CHEACT and CHEC have acted no differently than what we might expect of the typical public school board. The difference is that public school boards actually know better than to go through with having defrocked people address their conferences.

CHEACT is now being rewarded according to their deeds. The latest word is that numerous CHEACT members are very upset by their board of directors' duplicity. They're troubled that they weren't informed in advance that the keynote speaker had been defrocked. They're troubled that the board made no effort to cancel Sproul and secure a keynote speaker that wouldn't generate so much contention and controvery. A CHEACT split is now in process, and the board of directors has nothing to blame for it other than their own duplicitous principle-compromising friendship with RC Sproul Jr.

We haven't heard anything specific yet about what's going on with CHEC, but it'd be surprising if there isn't a falling out going on with them too. When a board of directors acts duplicitously against its own membership it shouldn't be surprised when that membership shakes the dust off their feet.

Prior to all this both organizations had excellent reputations. Both of these home education groups had accomplished a lot of good things. How tragic and very foolish of them to risk everything on a defrocked Presbyterian minister. Let's all pray that they can recover from their folly. But first they'll need to publicly repent of their duplicity, pride and foolishness.


At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Give Us A Break! said...

I remember that Kevin Swanson article when it first came out. There wasn't any doubt in anybody's mind that it was about R.C. Sproul Jr. Everybody at St. Peter Presbyrterian Church new it was about him too. There was all kind of talk about it at the time. Swanson's article is histerical. What a pile of lies. I wonder if he took spin lessons from Sproul himself. I really love this line "It helps if the man is less than detail oriented, a little absent minded, overworked, and underpaid." Ya, right! R.C. is one of the biggest of the bigtime goldbricks. He spends most of his days loafing and he pulls down an $85 K salary. Absent minded? You've gotta be kidding! The guys just lazy and his laziness has gone to his brain. What has R.C. actually produced thats new in the last few years? Not much of anything. He's just recycling the same old stuff. Give us a break Swanson! Your crazy story doesn't cut it!

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Concerned Homeschooler said...

Here's something that'll help fill in some details to this horrible story. Jim Bob Howard now works for R.C. at the Highland Studies Center. But he use to live here in Texas and also serve on the CHEACT board of directors. Here's what it says on his blog. "Though we no longer live in Central Texas, a part of our hearts will always be there. While there, I was privileged to serve on the Board of the Christian Home Educators Association of Central Texas (CHEACT) as Treasurer and webmaster. If you're anywhere near Austin or the Texas Hill Country, check out CHEACT. And tell them Jim Bob says Hi."

From what we heard Jim Bob's CHEACT connection played a big part in R.C. not being cancelled. So now CHEACT is going through a big falling out with its membership? We'd heard some rumors about that too. Well that's no surprise is it? Way to go Jim Bob! Sounds like you put your paycheck ahead of your principles. Was that your bright idea to not tell anyone before they arrived at the conference that R.C. had been defrocked? Please think more carefully next time about recommending your boss to any more homeschool groups. You guys have caused enough damage as it is!

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Blue Wonder said...

What I cannot figure out is where does the Highlands study center get it's money to pay salaries, etc? are people actually donating to this man? Yikes.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger RC 2.0 said...

Highlands Study Center does a lot of begging for money, both on their web site and in Every Thought Captive. Evidently they've got some kind of successful formula going because at least up until this point they've been able to pay the bills and RC's almost six-figure salary (in fact with all the benefits I'm sure it's easily six-figures). But as this page talks about the Highlands Study Center is nothing more than a fundraising sham. RC knows how gullible so many Christians are and how easily they can be taken advantage of.

At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not know the whole story, and there probably is much sin involved. At the same time, I don't see grace and mercy displayed by Christ on this individual. Christ has poured more grace on us than ever imaginable, we should forgive as well.

I get mad when I am wronged, but I am not being Christlike when I call others names and speak about them in a condescending manner.

At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why did the blog stop posting
there is so much more to reveal about this cult


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