Contending For Truth - Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit Scandal

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Tim Dick Name-Calling Side-Show

Ever since I found out from the Press that I'd been sued by Ligonier Ministries, I've been trying to move the ball down the field and stay focused on the big issues at hand. As far as I can see there's no issue that even comes close to the significance of Ligonier Ministries' blatant violation of 1 Corinthians 6. But of course there are others who'd disagree, and it shows in their words and deeds. Among them there are some who keep attempting to divert everyone's attention to irrelevant side-shows. One such side-show that keeps getting played like a cheap violin is my alleged "name-calling" against Tim Dick.

Some will undoubtedly disagree with me on this but I firmly believe that there's a time and a place for name-calling, and there are plenty of biblical examples to support it. Not that it should be done routinely, or against just anyone. No, I believe such occasions should be uncommon and well thought out.

They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them. Proverbs 28:4

My contending with Tim Dick was planned and calculated to achieve a certain objective. I'd contend that based upon what I already knew of Tim Dick that a little name-calling was the only effective means of smoking him out of his cave. Furthermore the name-calling was fact-based, not ad hominem. I knew that based upon Tim Dick's reputation that he's a very proud man. He only confirmed that to me by his repeated appearances commenting on various blogs where he'd been mentioned, and even on some where he hadn't been mentioned at all.

Proud men can't stand being called names and they're often incapable of just ignoring it. Ignoring it would've demonstrated wisdom and humility on Tim Dick's part. Ignoring it would've put me to open shame, as most people would've just viewed me as vindictive or a crackpot. By responding with a defamation lawsuit however Tim Dick not only demonstrates the magnitude of his own pride, he also demonstrates a spirit of folly.

What I anticipated from the prodding was to receive a very threatening email from Ligonier's attorneys. That in and of itself would have made a significant story, confirming what I've been told by others -- that Tim Dick has repeatedly used the threat of litigation against potential whistle blowers.

What I got instead was even much bigger -- a full-blown lawsuit, bypassing entirely the customary prior threat. So the story is even far more significant than I'd anticipated. Now there can be no doubt in anyone's mind what Tim Dick is made of. The lawsuit is the story, not the name-calling that some have tried to argue was the reason that Tim Dick filed litigation over some alleged "defamation."

There are some who have contacted me and told me that they don't condemn what I've done. Some are even very grateful, especially all the former Ligonier employees. But some also say, "Frank I just wish you wouldn't call Tim Dick names. It detracts from the story." Their concern is that the name-calling could be interpreted as ad hominem, and at least for some even "unChristian." If it were ad hom then I could understand the offense taken. However it's not ad hom at all.

Every name that I've uttered describing Tim Dick's character are names that he's commonly referred to by those who have worked with him and worked for him. Some are even very colorful nicknames, one of which I do regret publishing because of the offense it caused some readers. In the same way that I've alleged that Tim Dick defrauded Don Kistler based upon the testimony of several witnesses, I've also repeated the descriptive names that others have frequently uttered about Tim Dick to describe his shady and disturbing personality.

Producing people in court to testify that they too have used the very same words, phrases, and nicknames to describe Tim Dick's character will be part of my legal defense. Multiple witnesses will step forward to say under oath, "Yes judge, I've many times openly referred to Tim Dick as a ______ and a ______ and a ______. Mr. Vance is only repeating what he's heard a lot of others say." That parade of witnesses is going to get real embarrassing for Tim Dick. It's impossible to defame someone when you're only repeating what everyone else has already said about a guy they personally know.

By virtue of being Ligonier's CEO Tim Dick is a public figure. Public figures are far more open to scrutiny and criticism than private citizens, especially a man who manages and directs an organization that is legally classified as a "public charity" and a "public trust." It doesn't get much more "public" than that. Tim Dick as a public figure has earned a reputation with virtually everyone that he personally deals with for being all the things that I've repeated of him through those descriptive terms. The only reason that I'm being singled out to be sued isn't because I've "defamed" Tim Dick. Tim Dick by his own conduct and reputation has defamed himself long ago. All I've done is brought out what is well known and well established from a limited circle into a little larger circle. But it's now Tim Dick's own lawsuit which has now brought his reputation out into the public eye at large.

Michael Metzler, as usual, has some good observations about this:
On this analysis, I think that we can certainly include someone like Tim Dick in the category of oppressor, if Frank Vance is correct about him. Therefore, some “name calling” can be biblically justified in this context. I think this is important. There is a time and place to speak harsh words towards another Christian. However, I would like to point out another complication in this situation that might mitigate the need for this kind of justification. Vance was clearly using the powers of a Christian investigative journalist. Vance was interrogating Tim Dick. And the interrogation worked. Through the use of prodding name calling, something only a man like Tim Dick would respond to on Vance’s take, Vance was able to not only get Dick to threaten litigation, but to actually file the suit! Vance has thereby proved for us one of his more significant claims about Dick. Interrogation can be risky business, as the movie A Few Good Men shows us; but in the end, if the investigator’s hunch is correct and the interrogation works, then the investigator “get’s off the hook.” That’s the way it works and that is how it should work here. Thus, Vance’s original behavior can be justified through an altered form of a “serrated edge” argument and also independently by the employment of investigative interrogation. Vance smoked Dick out of his cave for the entire world to see; to rejoice in the fact that you know Dick and Ligonier Ministries would file a law suit like this while also refusing the method of how this truth came about does not make sense in this case. A few mild actions of name calling comes with the territory here, and given who Tim Dick is showing himself to be, they have New Testament sanction.
There's a noteworthy exception however to the name-calling which I'll deny having ever said:
"In the past five months, Vance's blog has described Dick as part of a 'family of nincompoops,' 'a very corrupt man' and aa lying, thieving con artist,' according to the lawsuit. Orlando Sentinel
Thanks to Tim Dick and his attorneys I have yet to see the lawsuit, but I'll assume that what the reporter is stating is an accurate read of it. However, I never "described Tim Dick as part of a 'family of nincompoops'." Here's what I said:
"If you've followed some of my other articles here you know that I've been amazed by the family nincompoops that Dr. Sproul has entrusted his ministry to, such as Ligionier Ministries President Tim Dick, who also happens to be Dr. Sproul's son-in-law and RC Jr's brother-in-law. But Tim Dick is hardly the only evidence of nepotistic buffoonery at Ligonier Ministries. Incompetent and unqualified family members are to be found running around (or sleeping on the desk) everywhere in Ligonier, often in key positions, and generally with little or no understanding or appreciation for the Reformed theology championed by Dr. Sproul."
If I'm going to be accused of defaming Tim Dick I'd at least like to be quoted accurately.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Catherine said...

You got sued for calling Tim Dick a nincompoop? Sheesh!

9/18/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous hefty said...

Well said, Frank! Keep up the great work! As a former Ligonier employee you should her why we used to call John Duncan "Frog." That's a real hoot!

Seriously though ... John Duncan is as sinister as they come.

10/04/2006 06:18:00 PM  

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