Tuesday, November 29, 2005

RC Sproul Jr's Highlands Ministries

RC Sproul Jr's Highlands Ministries -- Highlands Study Center

We've been told by RC Sproul Jr. that St. Peter Presbyterian Church has a "ministry" called the Highlands Study Center (now known as Highlands Ministries). As the name implies, some kind of "study" goes on at the Highlands Study Center, and the people who "study" are called "students."

No original thought involved -- RC Sproul Jr just attempted to copy his father's Ligonier Valley Study Center, RC Sproul Sr's original ministry founded in Ligonier, PA in 1971 with the generous financial aid of Dora Hillman, the woman RC Sproul Jr less than affectionately refers to as "the white witch." There were, however, significant differences between how the Ligonier Valley Study Center and the Highlands Study Center were run. For one thing RC Sproul Sr is smart and has a work ethic.

We're not exactly sure what gets studied at the Highlands Study Center because no one wants to talk about it. Every once in a while we'll actually see a young lady or young man at various St. Peter Presbyterian Church functions who says they're studying at the Highlands Study Center.

Sometimes we might ask them what they're studying and they'll say, "I get to read RC's books. He tells me to read a book, and then at the end of the week he'll get together with me and say, 'Do ya have any questions?' He doesn't ever have a lesson or lecture or anything like that, but I get to ask him questions. I had to come from thousands of miles away, but it's really worth it to get to ask RC Sproul, Jr. questions about his books, and the best part is that I get to party with RC. I've really learned a lot... I guess."

Several "students" have commented that one of the best reasons to hang out,  er, study at the Highlands Study Center is the beer, and RC Sproul Jr is proud to publish that fact:
ETC: "What were your favorite experiences?"
Mark: "After much anticipation I was able to partake of both RC's home brew and Laurence's salsa." A Conversation On Conversation, Every Thought Captive

"While at the Study Center, we ate good food and drank good beer. We had good conversation about leadership, world views, and kingdom building (and good food and good beer). Thankfully we were able to return home with some wisdom and practical ideas for our roles as Kingdom builders for our own ones (and perpetuate the myth that the best reason for a stay at the HSC is for the home brew)." Kingdom Here, Every Thought Captive
Benny HinnOther "students" have been equally motivated for "study" by RC's home brew, and by some accounts RC's "holy brew" even has miraculous curative powers:
"After the shower, one of the other less important reasons to study at HSC is the ample supply of RC's famous homebrew. As I write this, I must confess that this reason would belong on the 'more important reason' list were it not artificially divorced right now from fellowship. I was once sick for a week and my poor health was beginning to take a toll on me, but after I had one of RC's homebrews, I was miraculously restored to health. Benny Hinn himself couldn't have healed me quicker than that holy brew." Showers Of Blessing, Every Thought Captive
Some people think that the Highlands Study Center is just a fundraising scam to pay for RC's brewery and line RC's pockets (cha-ching), but those are just the cynics. 
RC Sproul Jr's basement brewery

Some people think that RC just uses the young ladies as domestics or indentured servants, but that seems a bit cynical too. The young ladies get to live in RC's basement. Sure, they wash his dishes, cook his meals, and babysit his kids, but it's all in exchange for the incomparable privilege of getting to bask in RC's transcendental aura. There's just no way that could be mere indentured servitude... I guess.

Even though we don't often see any actual living breathing warm-bodied students at the Highlands Study Center, er, in RC's basement, we know there must be some kind of studying going on there with some kind of students. After all, people donated six-figures just in the last year to the Highlands Study Center, so we know all that money must be going toward some kind of worthy cause... I guess.

About the only thing we ever actually do see the Highlands Study Center do is publish a Credenda Agenda-wannabe rag called Every Thought Captive. Every couple of months hundreds of subscribers are subjected to a new edition of Every Thought Captive (we call it ETC). Many subscribers never bother to read it (it can get a little bizarre entering RC Jr's world), but being the thrifty agrarians that we are, we'd never just toss them out. We've discovered that if you roll a few ETCs up together real tight and tie them off with a couple of pieces of unwaxed dental floss (preferably Frank Zappa™ brand), they burn almost as well as those compressed sawdust logs. The pages of ETC also come in handy for lining rabbit hutches and other small animal pens. 

RC always has a Top Ten list in the back of Every Though Captive. It's really insightful stuph... I guess. The November/December 2005 issue had this RC Top Ten List:
RC Sproul Jr's Every Thought Captive

RC really digs "authority." Some people call him a "control-freak," but those are just the cynics and former members that we've shunned.

Sure, RC's into stuff like Gary Ezzo and "blanket training" infants, but that doesn't really make him a control-freak, does it? Some people might say it's "abusive" to force an infant to stay on a blanket on the floor by hitting the baby with a wooden spoon everytime it attempts to crawl off the blanket. But RC says it's just about "taking dominion." 

All that "taking dominion" really means is that he is the boss over our lives and we passively submit to his authority. As long as everyone happily submits, no one gets hurt. It's really a pretty good deal... I guess. A lot of people call us a "cult" but we have a hard time seeing why they think that.

Still, "Being Under Authority" is clearly not one of RC's "Things I'm Thankful For." It's got to be a typo. RC isn't under anyone's authority, especially the Presbytery's authority. Probably what he meant to say was, "Being In Authority" or "Being The Authority." 

Or maybe what he really meant to say was "Being Under The Influence."


Update:
According to a brand new posting on the Highlands Study Center web site, "The Highlands Academy conducts classes for area homeschoolers and anyone else who is interested in attending. The Highlands Study Center is once again offering classes. . ." Golly, that sure is nice that they're "once again offering classes." There haven't been any classes for homeschoolers for two years. Folks were starting to wonder what had become of "The Highlands Academy." What with RC's busy brewing schedule for the last few years it's understandable why he'd have so much trouble giving up an hour and a half once a week for any of those homeschool kids in his church.

RC sure has a great sense of humor. "The Highlands Academy." What a hoot! Maybe RC figures by having multiple department names it'll sound like there's some actual "academic" departments, and maybe even some actual "academic" instructors that do some actual "academic" instruction to some actual "academic" students. 

No one at the "Highlands Academy" has taught a class to home schoolers in two years. Then this web site shows up exposing what a sham the Highlands "Study" Center is and RC all of a sudden decides, "Gee, maybe I ought to do some kind of teachin' or somethin' that at least looks like teachin'. Let's see, are there any rubes around here I could teach. Oh yeah, we're right here in bumpkinland, Mendota! There's all those St. Peter homeschool kids. I'll teach them!"
Coincidence?

And since RC's $85,000 salary (plus $4,000/mo. "ministerial housing allowance" and a generous benefits package) isn't nearly enough, RC's charging those St. Peter kids $50 a head. How very pastoral of him.

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