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