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Friday, March 03, 2006 

RC Sproul Jr. Defrocked

In researching my previous commentary on Little Geneva and their disgust with John Piper over his views on interracial marriage, I found several comments on their site about RC Sproul, Jr., a Presbyterian pastor whose church is located in Tennessee, and son of the famous Reformed professor, speaker, and apologist. I saw his name in several places on the site, but in a desire to read as little as possible there for fear I would get really angry, I just glanced and went on my way. However, yesterday Kelly alerted me to the fact that Sproul, Jr. has been in a world of trouble with his denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly (RPCGA). And after a bit of research he learned that Sproul, Jr. has indeed been defrocked and four of his elders have been desposed of their offices as elders. The official action took place on January 26th, but the news is still continuing to spread.

Now, though the story is over a month old, I have only found two Baptists to report on this, The Sinner at Kudzu Gulley and John Divito of the Reformed Baptist Reader. One reason why this may be is that we Baptists have little experience in defrockment. According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, defrock means, " to deprive of the right to exercise the functions of office." What that means in terms of Sproul, Jr. is that he is no longer allowed to be a minister in his denomination. That is definitely something that Baptists don't get. There are plenty of stories of ministers doing very ungodly things and just moving on to the next church. Not so with the Presbyterians it seems.

So what did Sproul, Jr. do for this punishment to be placed upon him? Well, according to the "Declaratory Judgment" by the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly through the Office of the Moderator, Dr. Kenneth Gary Talbot (which can be accessed here), it was due to "abuse of authority of the office of elders" by engaging in "abusive behavior in dealing with [a] family . . . under [their] authority" and "knowingly and willingly use[ing] the Tax Identification number of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church after leaving that denomination in violation of the Federal Income Tax Code" as well as some other denominational violations.

In reaction to this a number of blogs and websites have popped up, mostly to heap coals upon RC Sproul, Jr's head, as it seems he wasn't very popular in the first place. Probably the most informative is hosted by the Heal Our Land Ministries, which I think a whole blog would have to be dedicated to in order for me to explain it. Suffice to say, the particular part of the site that deal with the Sproul, Jr. controversy is updated by a man named Peter Kershaw, and it provides links to actual documents dealing with the controversy, as well as updates in regards to what is happening with Sproul Jr., his church, Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, and the elders who were desposed. Among the other sites, there are several blogs dedicated exclusively to this, my favorite of them being, Spinderella Sproul: Lessons In Spin With RC Sproul Jr, mainly because of the creative name, but also because there is a large amount of information there, though I will warn you, some of it could be considered gossip.

The situation is long from being over, and from the websites I have seen, a lot of people are hurt and angry over the events surrounding this controversial man and his church. We should remember to pray for all those involved, including Sproul, Jr. and his family (and his father, who has taken heat on some various websites as well), his church, the elders involved, the denomination, and those in the larger community of the Reformed faith who have been affected by this.

DR,

If I read correctly, Sproul also broke his denomination's doctrine by practicing paedocommunion.

Sproul Jr and I tangled in New Orleans when he told me that it was a SIN for a church not to have an organ in its worship service.

How did he put it??? "God deserves more than a guitar and a piano..He deserves the majesty of the organ."

I'll stop there.

Da' Bishop

RC Sproul Jr. was a very well-liked and respected minister. He had the potential to use his influence in the reformed community to do a lot of good for the Kingdom.

But unfortunately his abuse of authority and lack of discipline caused more harm than good. That is a benefit of the presbyterian system. There is a means in place to deal with men that go astray and to (if neccesary) remove them from office.

As a good testimony, edit out your birthdate and your Zodiac sign will go with it (Isiah 47).

Read this blog. It will tell you more by what it doesn't say than what others are saying.

http://kevinswanson.com/Blog/Index.html#1141012366125

That is so funny! I guess R.C. Sproul Jr. is a sinner in more ways than one. We knew that he was quite a sinner. We just didn't know that he was in sin because of the organ issue. I can tell you from having visited Sproul's church that they do not use an organ in their worship. Sinful! He's got one redeeming quality though -- no guitars.

Guess what? The whole story isn't told. Be VERY careful in assuming that R. C. and the other elders are guilty of the crime stated. Remember there were other people (denominational leaders and a moderator) involved.

Anonymous,
Reveal thyself! And please don't tell me to "Be VERY careful" in this if you are not willing to actually provide any evidence to the contrary. I am open to seeing it and even revealing it on my blog, unfortunately though, I have found nothing out there that contradicts the testimony of the committee in regards to ANY of the charges. If you know of some, then SHARE! Expose the truth and we will listen. Otherwise, I suggest that you not make accusations against the moderator and the denominational leaders without any evidence whatsoever. But thanks for stopping by, next time come ready to defend yourself and we will listen.

"The situation is long from being over..." Daniel, it could be over, and it really should be over. But it's obvious that RC Sproul Jr and his following of true believers refuse to let it be over. Where I come from, when a minister is defrocked he goes and finds another line of work. But RC Jr just doesn't know how to obey orders. He's talked a lot for years about the importance of being under authority, and obeying authority, but when it's his turn to obey he rebels.

It's a little too late for RC Sproul Jr and his followers to be protesting and saying, "It's not over yet. There's all kinds of things we haven't made public." That's ridiculous! RC Sproul Jr and his elders had their opportunity and they walked away from it. They came before the RPCGA as their own "accuser and confessor" and admitted guilt. It was on that basis that the RPCGA issued their Declaratory Judgment. If they disagreed with the judgement they would of, and they should have appealed the judgment to the General Assembly. But they didn't. They pleaded with the RPCGA to be released from membership. Then once they got out they started trashing the RPCGA.

Such men cannot be trusted. They aren't men of integrity, and they've got no business speaking at conferences on "honor," or any other conferences for that matter. They need to take cognizance of what being defrocked means and go find some other kind of work to do for a living.

One of the most confusing things about this for me has been the statement coming out of Saint Peter that R.C. Sproul Jr. and his elders "were deposed without censure." I just read an article about that at http://hushmoney.org/rc_sproul_jr_deposed-032706.htm and I think it does a pretty good job of cutting through the deception.

Good point...I definitely should give you contrary evidence in stating that the moderator and others have some blame in this too. The problem? The elders of St. Peter have chosen, for the time being, to not chatter and post everything on the web.

There are often wolves among sheep. The wolves will be exposed. Stay tuned.

It's pretty obvious that the wolves have already been exposed. That's an outrageous allegation, Anonymous, for you to say that the Moderator of the RPCGA is a wolf. Shame on you!

Karen,

How can you say such a thing? Have you heard both sides of the story? Shame on you for believing things when you don't even know the story!

It's taking you Saint Peter people a long time to tell your story. I'm sure it'll be a whopper of a tale by the time you officially release it. Or will it actually be the CREC "not judicial in nature" Commission that will be releasing it and "clearing RC Sproul Jr's name"?

Karen,

For the record, I'm not a St. Peter person.

Proverbs 10:18 says, "In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking."

Just because a story is slow in being told, doesn't mean it's going to be a lie. You seem to lack in the area of Christian grace. May God soften your heart and prideful spirit.

Ok, guys, first let me apologize for not stepping in earlier to defuse the situation that has now grown out of control with you two.

We don't know all the details. We all have our own take and both sides seem to be passionate. I think when this whole thing comes to light (if it ever does), we will see that both sides sinned in what they did. Sproul Jr. is certainly not completely innocent of every charge. He did something to tick someone off enough to bring some of this on himself. And the denomination is certainly not spotless itself, having seemed to rush to judgment without an actual trial (though Sproul Jr. did take the punishment well at first). Still, a break needs to take place between the two and both sides need to chill out.

Anonymous, I asked you long ago to reveal yourself and you haven't. I don't appreciate that. A simple first name would have been respectful, and an email address would have been nice. You started this heated discussion out by calling people wolves, a term used to describe intentional deceivers, which was not Christlike at all, especially since you are still either unwilling or unable to defend your words.

Karen, you took the bait and should have held your tongue...uh, fingers. Anyway, the discussion is over. Both of you need to apologize to one another and neither of you should post anything else on this subject.

I do appreciate y'alls patronage of my blog, but it doesn't exist for people to have fights in the comments' sections. I hope both of you will return and comment more on upcoming posts. But I ask that besides an apology, you post no more on this thread.

Thanks and may God bless you both,
D.R. Randle

Mr. Randle,
Sir, this is hardly a fight. Fights are malicious and ugly. This does not seem to fit either.

Calling people wolves is indeed Christlike - He called people what they were. There are wolves among the sheep and we are warned to be on the lookout for them.

Thank you for your comments and intervention. I have given sincere thought to an apology to Karen, and have no hesitation in doing so, but I truly cannot find a reason to apologize. I have spoken the truth and have challenged her to do the same. I cannot say words simply because you recommend that I do so.

And so, farewell, dear brother. I will not return so do not worry about the peace being disturbed.

Blessings to you and yours (and that includes Karen!).

Mr. Continually Anonymous,

I am sorry that you think that calling people wolves without accusing them of anything specific is Christlike. Last time I checked Jesus gave evidence, though he didn't have to since He was God incarnate and the Holy Spirit revealed the truth to Him consistently, something that we sinful people don't have the option of. You had numerous opportunities to present your case, but instead just called people names. I am sorry if I don't call that Christlike.

Telling Karen that she is both ungracious and prideful after only speaking to her via email does deserve an apology. It should stand to reason that you do not have the facts to make such a judgment call, thus it is a sin and should be repented of. So I ask you to reconsider the matter and again offer an apology. Remember also that I think Karen should not have taken the bait and also owes you an apology. I am not trying to play sides here. I am an objective observer which should mean something more to your decision.

"Remember also that I think Karen should not have taken the bait and also owes you an apology." You're right, brother Randle, I took the bait. That was stupid of me and not my place. It's your blog. You're the moderator and I jumped in and made an inappropriate comment when I should have bit my tongue.

I've read repeated slanderous allegations against the RPCGA because they did what few denominations have ever done -- they enforced discipline against one of their own. That takes guts. Not everyone will agree with their methods, but I think they deserve congratulations for being consistent with their convictions. Instead, people like Anonymous keep making vague allegations but they refuse to produce any evidence. It's all getting very old and frustrating for me to read, and I allowed my frustrations to get the better of me. I'm sorry. Next time I'll know better. I'm especially sorry to you, brother Randle for having been a part of the disruption.

Karen, thanks for your response, but you don't have to apologize to me. I do understand how frustrating all of this can be for both sides, neither, it seems, able to see the full picture. I do agree that those involved with Sproul, Jr. should produce the adequate documents or whatever they claim to have that will exonerate them and quit just talking about this so-called evidence.

Again, I hope you will return to the blog, and I do appreciate your input.

Thank you D.R. You're a very kind and gracious man.

Here's something new and thought provoking: Can RC Sproul Jr Be Restored?

D.R. there's something significant that's happened recently, and it's all quite confusing. The CREC hasn't exactly "cleared RC Sproul Jr's name" as some had predicted they'd do. In fact they said that "It is our finding that there were significant pastoral mistakes, errors and sins by the former Session."

In spite of that though the CREC has pronounced that even though RC Sproul Jr was defrocked, in the CREC he's still "considered ordained." Go figure.

Daniel, doesn't it all seem a little weird that just a few weeks after RC Sproul Jr wound up in the CREC that Doug Wilson would now be embroiled in a pedophilia scandal? The timing on all this is just too strange.

Thanks to the CREC's RC Sproul Jr debacle we’re now getting a front row viewing of the real Doug Wilson and how he handles responding to the kind of spectacular mess that only the CREC is capable of creating. I’ve heard plenty of allegations in the past that Wilson is an autocrat and a dictator (albeit a “benevolent” one). Now it’s become more than obvious from just a casual look at his blog.

Many Thanks and Saint Peter
With Wooly Mittens On

Lot’s of questions, no answers. Not that I’m the least bit surprised. I have to wonder how many others would like to be able to post to Blah and MoreBlah but they’re too intimidated by the Great Oligarch to do so. Notice Wilson's new posting rule. If you say something he doesn't like don't be surprised if he demands your personal vitals, including the name and contact info for your pastor! Now there's an effective way of shutting people up. The problem is for Wilson that it's just not working and people are still asking a lot of embarrassing questions.

CREC Commission dude Dennis Tuuri is now blaming a former Saint Peter treasurer for RC Jr's tax fraud. Thankfully it now looks like Tuuri's just retracted his story (or is that backpeddling?). If these guys ever had any credibility at all I think it's now pretty well shot to H-E double hockey sticks.

I do not think it was fair to criticize the RPCGA for defrocking RC Jr. without a trial. The reason he didn't get a trial is because he did everything he could to avoid one. He pled guilty to the charges, claimed to be repentant, and then *he* asked permission to leave the RPCGA. They granted him permission. Once he left, they no longer had authority to hold a trial.
Once he left, he backtracked and complained about not having been given a trial, which is rather like a run-away teen complaining that his father does not enforce his curfew.
Poohsthink.com is another blog that has been covering the details, including the way the CREC has maligned and slandered the word of the RPCGA, and lied, more than once.
Margaret

Welcome to the Readers of Poohsthink. I am a bit bothered by the remarks made about my website, since I have only reported the Defrocking of RC Sproul, Jr. and offered a few websites about the incident. I have allowed readers to interact a bit too freely, though I did try to stop the back and forth silliness at one time. Each time that I have received a comment I have thought about closing the comments section, but against my better judgement I decided to leave it open. Well, now that Christ and Culture has been called a "scurrilous, snarky, gossipy website" though I have had nothing to do with this thread for months now, I am shutting off the comments. I do take offense at the comment and I hope the readers of Poohsthink will come here and see that the description doesn't fit the overall website, since it is but one post that isn't even on my front page anymore.

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Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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