Contending For Truth - Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit Scandal

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ex- Ligonier Ministries Employee Writes In

I recently received a cordial email from an ex- Ligonier Ministries employee who's also posted a comment here previously under the name "Sophocles." In his email he identified himself by name and it wasn't hard for me to verify that name as being a former Ligonier Ministries employee. I found his email most interesting and so I repost it here, less his real name:

Dear Mr. Vance,

First, I want to tell you that I truly admire your stand regarding Tim Dick and Ligonier Ministries. I know you are getting reliable information from former Lig. employees.

I am the author of the Sophocles post on your website. It has come to my attention that this particular post is being imputed to other former Ligonier employees and not myself. This post is entirely true but could have a negative effect on other individuals. I did not realize this would happen when I wrote what I did. Could you please remove this post from your site?

Again, I am very happy you are doing what you are doing and holding these tyrants accountable. I support you in your efforts. I just came to realize that I should have offered this information in a way that is more responsible - perhaps through email correspondence.

I wrote those comments in a rash manner, although true, but I did not know at the time my words would be attributed to others - former employees who still have dealings with Ligonier. Ligonier has lied about my record and I hope they do not destroy the reputation of others because of something I wrote. Ligonier is not above lying to protect themselves. There are many fine people who have worked there.

I now realize that your sources (ex-Ligonier employees) have more wisdom than I do. I should not have posted directly to your site.

I do appreciate very much what you are doing. I hope I can continue to email you. There are more deeply troubling and disturbing things about Ligonier I want to share but I don't know how to go about it at this time.

You seem to be genuinely concerned for the truth. Thank you for holding these guys accountable. Perhaps I could call you at your convenience?

Cordially,

Sophocles

Of course it's hard to know for certain if this person who emailed me is actually who they say they are, or perhaps just a Tim Dick shill just trying to get me to remove a post that exposes Tim as a selfish money-grubbing louse (but obviously it couldn't be Tim Dick himself because this person knows how to spell). Nevertheless I still take him at his word that he is who he says he is. Here's my response:

Sophocles,

Thanks for your email. I'm in no way surprised that Tim Dick and perhaps others are attempting to sniff out my sources by falsely blaming others for your post. That's only too consistent with what I've heard of Tim Dick's tactics. To him violating the ninth commandment is only a useful strategy toward the goal of uncovering the facts, even if he hurts many people in the process.

The stories I've heard about Tim Dick's lying and cheating and stealing just boggle the mind. The fact is that removing your comment now isn't a remedy and it won't stop Tim Dick's witch hunt. In fact it's likely to only embolden him the more. If he sees me deleting comments he'll take it as a sign that his tactics are working. I don't think that's a smart move.

Rather than just deleting your comment let me propose something a whole lot more effective. Why don't you write a story as "Sophocles" and I'll post it on my blog? Part of your story can be about Tim Dick's duplicitous strategy of blaming others for your comment here.

Frank




Thanks Frank! I will consider that. By the way, have you had any more emails from Tim Dick? I wondering what the current status is.

Sophocles




Thank you Sophocles! I really hope you will seriously consider it. From everything I've heard Tim Dick is a very corrupt man. Some have told me that based on his behavior they don't think there's any way he could be a converted Christian. To have such a man heading up an honorable Christian ministry is an embarrassment to the church of Christ Jesus.

No, I haven't heard any more from Tim. However, I did notice that he posted something really weird on Little Geneva.

Frank

I hope to hear more from Sophocles, as well as other former and perhaps even current Ligonier Ministries employees. As I've done in Sophocles' case I'll do for others and never use real names, unless I'm specifically asked to.

There appears to be a number of current and former Ligonier employees who are disgusted by all the corruption being perpetrated by Tim Dick, but who may not have the courage to confront Mr. Dick himself about it, or to take it to Dr. R.C. Sproul, for fear of retaliation. Well here's a format for getting the word out and for holding corrupt and evil men like Tim Dick accountable.

I invite all current and former Ligonier Ministries employees and other insiders to submit their comments and articles to me at frank.vance@gmail.com

16 Comments:

Anonymous Concerned for Credibility said...

My concern at this point is for what will be perceived as a lack of credibility from accusations leveled by what will be seen as a "disgruntled former employee."

I hope others can provide something concrete who won't be perceived as having an axe to grind.

7/19/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

Disgruntled former employees probably make up the single largest category of whistle-blowers out there, especially if they quit their job or were laid off rather than being fired. On the other hand if someone is fired for being a whistle-blower then, at least in my book, they've got instant credibility. But others will of course have just the opposite opinion, especially if it's someone like Tim Dick.

In the final analysis people are going to believe what they want to believe.

What I personally believe is that Dr. R.C. Sproul is a very gifted theologian and preacher with a large following. I've been a fan of his myself, reading his books and watching his videos. The man has been a real blessing to me, and I know to many others.

However wise theologians don't always make wise ministry decisions. For example Dr. Sproul has made some very unwise decisions in who he's delegated authority to to run his ministry, including the fact that his wife Vesta has way too much say and R.C. lets her get away with it. Nepotism usually produces ugly results, and ministries aren't exempt from it. Making someone the President who's got no qualifications for the office, just because he's son in law, is downright foolish. In fact it just doesn't get much worse than Tim Dick. From what I've heard Tim Dick is running Ligonier into the ground and it could very well be that Ligonier won't even outlive Dr. Sproul.

Ligonier Ministries should have been Dr. Sproul's legacy. Instead what he may very well be remembered for mainly is a defrocked son and a duplicitous creep for a son in law.

If I were a close friend to Dr. Sproul I'd advise him that he needs to fire Tim Dick, tell Vesta to stay home and out of the office, and then issue a public statement of rebuke against RC Jr demanding that he step down from the ministry for which the RPCGA declared that he was "not qualified." Doing that would go a long way toward reestablishing Dr. Sproul's credibility. That would also show that he really does love his family enough to not just let them get away with such ungodly behavior.

7/19/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Proverbs 18:17 said...

please read it, study it, and pray.

7/21/2006 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Larger Catechism #145 said...

Question 145: What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice;speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vainglorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults;hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering: What we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.

7/21/2006 07:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Dabney said...

I don't know if you noticed it Frank but there's a very weird comment posted by Tim Dick at Little Geneva. Thought you'd like to know.

7/22/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Concerned said...

What scares me the most about Tim Dick’s post is that he “fears no man.” Of course we all should operate out of fear-of-the-Lord, which is the beginning of all wisdom, but when that is not how you are behaving, and you are operating as a renegade Christian (which is common for those going to Saint Andrews Chapel and most parachurch ministries) that has no ecclesiastical accounatability, there is bound to be trouble. I don’t think repentance will necessarily heal Tim of his ailments (which may be God’s way of getting Tim’s attention and trying to make him depend upon the Lord instead of this go-it-alone attitude), but it would benefit Ligonier Ministries to have a God-fearing leader. Ligonier Ministries has done/is doing a lot to educate lay people, but the leadership needs to be held accounatable for some of the poor decisions it has made.

More than Tim not fearing man (in terms of accountability) is his statement that he has no regrets. Tim, if you honestly reflect on your leadership over the last couple of years can you say that letting some of the most loyal ministry employees and the purchase of the mansion “for the ministry” were the best choices?

Also, Piper’s ministry is preparing to put all of their audio series online to share the Gospel, but the investment in real estate seems to be Ligonier’s priority…what about proclaiming, teaching, and defending the holiness of God. You can’t do it if you live a life that doesn’t “preach the Gospel at all times.” Sure the ministry does a lot, but instead of acquiring more “toys” and other ministries (SDG) to further your profits (and Lexus models) why not invest in the kingdom? You are storing up treasures on earth.

Tim, wake up. There is more to running a ministry than business-like investments. The fact that you hire people who aren’t informed about Reformed theology and expect them to represent the ministry well shows how much you value the very thing that you are trying to share with the world. What are your goals then? Do you know Reformed theology, or is that the reason why you are having trouble screening candidates for hire? Is that why you believe that your son will be a great person to hand the ministry off to (from what I have heard and seen that is worrisome)?

My best to those currently employed at Ligonier, may there be those of you on the side of God Almighty who can stand up to such leadership. It seems there is a need for reform in a ministry that proclaims it.

7/24/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Sophocles said...

When I worked at Ligonier all Ryan did was sleep on the job.

As far as Ligonier reforming itself, well RC had no problem with Walter Kerr stealing money from the ministry, why would RC do anything to stop Tim now?

Like churches, parachurch ministries can become synagogues of satan.

7/24/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

Ryan Dick's sleeping on the job is no doubt in large measure due to his being the "partyboy."

Some interesting comments on Tim Dick's son are at The Ligonier Saga Gets Stranger.

7/24/2006 05:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Cavman said...

Ligonier is part of the EFCA, which was formed because of abuses in parachurch finances.
They do make their audits available on-line. So, one would need more than hearsay. Don't read too much into something w/out knowing the whole scoop.

"Purges" are a big part of financial cycles for most parachurch ministries. Some former employees understand that, some don't or won't. I did.

I think the Kerr comment was very unfair. I do believe he was relieved of his duties. I think RC acted responsibly.

7/29/2006 03:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Check out: http://cavman.wordpress.com/2006/07/28/clearing-the-air-about-ligonier/

7/30/2006 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

Thanks Matt for the link. I responded to Cavman's article, but it hasn't appeared yet (probably because he moderates comments). So I'll repost it here as well:
_____________________________

A very thoughtful and considerate article Cavman. I too have been greatly blessed by the ministry of Dr. R.C. Sproul. God has clearly gifted the man as a teacher and theologian. But that's not to say that Dr. Sproul has always evidenced a great deal of common sense when it comes to running a ministry. For that he obviously needs to delegate to others. But if he's not the one to be in charge of the day to day operations and management shouldn't he be delegating to men who do have the talents and requisite honesty? If Dr. Sproul makes a poor delegation decision (such as appointing his son in law Tim Dick as President) and it soon becomes apparent how bad that decision was, shouldn't he set aside his family favoratism in favor of the many employees whose lives are being devastated because of Tim Dick's incompetence and dishonesty? If he doesn't then the reputation of Ligonier Ministries will be injured. That's what we're now seeing.

Betrayal is a powerful emotion, and that's what I perceive is behind a lot of the Ligonier piling on. Former employees who were handed pink slips right after walking out of the "we've never been financially stronger meetings" have good cause to feel betrayed. No honest business would ever do that. An honest business would instead have a "We're having a major financial crunch" before handing out the pink slips. It's also not honest or considerate toward employees for the boss to go out an buy himself a new Lexis (thereby flaunting his six-figure income personal affluence that came directly from the ministry) and then two weeks later fire 14 employees. That sends a message loud and clear, "My afluence is more important than your livelihoods and the suffering that will come on your families as a result of losing your jobs." Christian workers who work hard and who give their all for a "Bible-believing" Christian ministry rightly expect Christian bosses to act like, well, "Christians," or at very least they expect them to act better than unbelievers do. When they act even worse than unbelievers do it's little wonder they now feel so betrayed.

Various Ligonier Ministries financial supporters also believe that they've been betrayed. I'm not going to call you naive Cavman, because I don't think that of you. But I do think you put way too much stock into the ECFA and so-called "audited financial statements." ECFA "accountability" is much like a lock on a door. As the old adage goes, "Locks keep honest people honest." I won't go so far as to say that Ligonier Ministries is guilty of fraud, but there do seem to be some recurring concerns for fiscal mismanagement if not financial malfeasance. As one who's worked in a few nonprofit orgs and ministries myself and had my hands in the financial matters I know from personal experience how commonplace financial abuses are. Any ministry that wants to abuse the process and the good will of donors can all too easily get away with it. The ECFA's "auditing" procedures are superficial at best and they only keep honest people honest. I'm not questioning Dr. Sproul's honesty, but his son in law's reputation is shady when it comes to money and a lot of other things as well.

I was a bit disappointed to see you take down your The Ligonier Saga Gets Stranger article. Given the tone of some of the responses I guess your decision was understandable. But taking down articles doesn't resolve anything. People are still upset and if they can't post their comments here they'll post them on my blog (which is fine and I do welcome it) or Little Geneva or somewhere else. One way or another it will come out. It seems to me we should try and help people work through their issues, if that's possible, and I think it is. I think your article here is a good start and I commend you for it.

7/31/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Frank,

That was well said! You clearly understand the situation and provide a voice of reason.

Thanks!

By the way, I know for a fact (because Tim Dick once told me) that he removed Ligonier from the EFCA because he didn't like one of the by-laws. When the opportunity was in Tim's favor, he signed Ligonier back up with the EFCA. During the time, however, when Ligonier was not with the EFCA he still used their logo on Ligonier materials to provide a thin veneer of credibility with donors.

7/31/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Justus said...

Bravo with everything that is being said on your site. All of this about Tim Dick should have been aired a long time ago. I'm not sure that Cavman understands the situation on Cavman Unleashed, but at least I feel that I honestly tried to get the facts straight. Frank, keep up the good work.

7/31/2006 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

Thanks Justus for your kind words.

As far as Cavman goes I appreciate where he's coming from. You won't find many pastors who'd be willing to expose as much as he has. The guy's got guts. But it's also obvious that he's still got a tender spot for Ligonier Ministries and especially Dr. Sproul. I've been an admirer of Dr. Sproul myself for years but at the same time it's obvious that the man hasn't made real wise managerial decisions. None of us should throw the baby out with the bath water, but at the same time we shouldn't just ignore the problems either.

On the whole I think that Cavman has been striking a good balance.

8/01/2006 05:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Hefty said...

Justus,

I've appreciated all your posts. You clearly understand what's going on. I hope to hear more from you.

8/01/2006 07:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This wouldn't be the first "Christian" apologetics organization to sue brothers in Christ. What about Hank Hanegraaff's lawsuit against Christian journalist William Alnor? I'd like to see this much fuss made about that!

9/19/2006 09:59:00 AM  

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