Contending For Truth - Ligonier Ministries Lawsuit Scandal

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

RC Sproul Sinning By Silence

"Could it be that too many of God's true children are sinning against God by guilty silence? When those whose eyes are opened by the touch of Christ become vocal and active God may begin to fight again on the side of truth. There are moral situations where it is immoral to say nothing and basely immoral to do nothing."
A.W. Tozer


Over a month has passed since Ligonier Ministries violated 1 Corinthians 6 with impunity and filed a lawsuit against me. In that time not one word has been publicly uttered by RC Sproul, the Founder of Ligonier and current Chairman of the Board, not to mention the official Minister for the ministry. In short, it's his ministry and he's nowhere to be heard from.



Ligonier Ministries and its senior management has come under withering criticism over this lawsuit and yet its founder hides in the home that his donors paid for, refusing to comment, refusing to provide leadership, and refusing to be held accountable.

By his month-long silence RC Sproul has sent a message -- RC Sproul appears to be in full agreement with the unbiblical and very foolish actions of his "senior management" -- Tim Dick and John Duncan. Furthermore RC Sproul appears to be in full agreement with the pathetic public statements issued by Tim Dick and Ligonier's senior management. To assume otherwise would be naive.

What was called for was thorough and unequivocal confession, contrition and repentance. Instead what we got were just more excuses, lies, cover ups, blame shifting and self-justification. As a donor-funded Bible teaching ministry Ligonier needs to do one of two things:
  1. Publicly explain how its lawsuit is biblically defensible and why 1 Corinthians 6 doesn't apply to Ligonier Ministries or apply in this particular case.
  2. Publicly acknowledge that Ligonier's lawsuit isn't biblically defensible, issue a public apology, and restructure Ligonier in such a way that such abuses can never happen again.
The public statements issued by Ligonier Ministries should have never been penned by Tim Dick and John Duncan. They should have come from RC Sproul. In the midst of such a crisis what's called for is strong principled leadership. Tim Dick has more than amply demonstrated that he is an unprincipled man. For RC Sproul to hide out in the midst of a crisis and fail to accept responsibility and exercise manly leadership only makes him look like an abdicator.

In his public statement Tim Dick "accepted responsibility" but he failed to admit any wrongdoing. At best all that Tim Dick has confessed to is that he might have "caused confusion," which is to say he doesn't think he's done anything unbiblical, unethical or sinful at all. Nor is Tim Dick willing to come to grips with the fact that he has terribly offended a large portion of Ligonier's donor base.

However the greater responsibility falls to RC Sproul, for it was he who appointed Tim Dick, a man who clearly has no professional or ministerial qualifications whatsoever. Worse yet Tim Dick has no moral and ethical qualifications. Tim Dick does need to accept responsibility for his own moral shortcomings and incompetency, but far more importantly RC Sproul must accept responsibility for appointing Tim Dick in the first place. RC Sproul must accept responsibility for the consequences to Ligonier and to the body of Christ as a whole for appointing an unprincipled nincompoop.

In the past several weeks many have asked the question, "When will RC say something? When will he issue a public statement?" Ligonier's supporters are looking to RC Sproul for leadership, but he's nowhere to be found. This only tends to confirm the suspicions that many now have that the problems at Ligonier don't just begin and end with Tim Dick.

Several prominent Reformed ministers are personal friends of RC Sproul and regularly share the podium with him at various conferences. These include John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Mark Dever, and Ligon Duncan (brother to Ligonier General Manager John Duncan). I've received a number of emails from people who are mystified over the silence of these men regarding the Ligonier Ministries lawsuit. It seems that many people are having a hard time knowing what to think about the silence of these men. Many Christians look to them for leadership and from all appearances there doesn't appear to be any of that being exercised right now.

I've been asked repeatedly about that. All I can say right now is that I do find their silence at a time like this to be strange if not inexplicable. I'm reasonably confident that if it were anyone other than one of our own they'd have something to say about it. Reformed ministers find it all too tempting to criticize the failures of the leadership of Evangelicals and Charismatics and Fundamentalists. How they love to point out that "Bad theology produces bad leadership." The interesting thing about that though is that the Evangelicals and Charismatics and Fundamentalists themselves generally seem to do a reasonably good job of policing their own ranks. They're generally not afraid to hold one another accountable and, if necessary, publicly rebuke one of their own. But for some odd reason it seems that the Reformed leadership are often unwilling to hold one of their own accountable.

We can say the same of Christian publications that cater to Reformed Christians, such as World Magazine. World Magazine has yet to mention anything about RC Sproul Jr and his entire Session of Elders being defrocked. When's the last time anyone has heard of an entire Presbyterian Session of four Elders being defrocked? If that's not newsworthy for the Religion section of World Magazine then I don't know what is. If Ligonier Ministries suing me isn't newsworthy for the Religion section of World Magazine then I don't know what is. Yet once again Marvin Olasky and his "objective" editors have proven how compromised they are. They're eager to report on gay alcoholic Episcopal Bishops checking themselves into rehab, or the foolish public statements uttered by Pat Robertson, but they carefully avoid reporting on the scandalous lawsuit of a prominent Reformed minister and his ministry (and even of his son's defrocking). I'm sure it's just all a mere coincidence that that same ministry that World Magazine has turned a blind eye to also just happens to have spent many tens of thousands of dollars advertising in World.

I find it remarkable that the secular Press started contacting me just a week after Ligonier had sued me, yet the Christian Press is either too embarrassed, too intimidated or too compromised to devote one drop of ink to it. Now just this morning USA Today gave prominent mention to the Ligonier Ministries lawsuit in a front page article. Tim Dick is doing a wonderful job of making Ligonier famous. The problem is that it's the wrong kind of fame.

As for the silence of various prominent Reformed ministers, I hadn't particularly thought much about it until just this past week. My assumption was that they probably were doing something behind the scenes and that it might take some time before the rest of us knew what they'd been doing. But now that five weeks have transpired since Ligonier first sued me, and not one prominent Reformed minister has publicly challenged Ligonier over it (or for all we know even privately challenged them), despite two secular newspaper articles, dozens of blog articles and hundreds of blog comments, I have to admit that I'm growing increasingly concerned by the Reformed leadership's public silence.

Of course it could very well be that some or even all of these men have contacted RC Sproul and advised him to drop the lawsuit. But because they haven't publicly said anything we just don't know. For the sake of argument let's just assume that they all did contact RC Sproul and told him he needed to drop the lawsuit. That would've been the right thing to do, but would it have been adequate? Would that have been enough to fulfill their obligations as fellow ministers and personal friends of RC Sproul? No it would not. In addition, a rebuke of their friend and calling him to to repentance -- public repentance, is needed and also biblically mandated.

Ligonier's sins are public sins and therefore public repentance is necessary. Not only has that not occurred but through Ligonier's "senior management" we've heard nothing but excuses and more lies. RC Sproul isn't ignorant of what's been going on for the past month, and by permitting it to go on for so long, and by doing nothing to put a stop to it (at least that anyone can see) he's complicit in Ligonier's sins. That calls for public repentance and it calls for those closest to RC Sproul to call him to public repentance.

Again, it could very well be that some or all of those Reformed ministers have called RC Sproul to repentance (Matt 18:15-17). But if they have isn't it now more than obvious that he hasn't publicly repented? What are they to do now? Are they biblically permitted to maintain their silence in the face of a public scandal? To be silent about sin is to condone sin. The Reformed leadership needs to take cognizance of the fact that they're setting an example. RC Sproul has set an example that now communicates loud and clear that it's perfectly acceptable for Christians to be suing Christians.

If RC Sprouls' minister friends and associates continue to remain silent they'll be sending a very clear message that they agree with RC Sproul that it's perfectly acceptable for Christians to be suing Christians. The inevitable result will be that many of those who admire those Reformed ministers will follow their example and they'll come to believe that it's perfectly acceptable for Christians to sue Christians. They shouldn't be surprised when one day it's one of them who gets sued by another Christian and the plaintiff uses Ligonier vs. Vance to justify it.

Perhaps these Reformed ministers believe that it's still too soon to speak out publicly, and perhaps they may even be justified in their beliefs. The problem for them is that there are too many troubled Christians looking on who disagree and believe that too much time has been wasted as it is. The continued silence on the part of Reformed ministers is calling into question if any of them can be trusted. As one blogger put it, "This latest scandal has really made me wonder if there are any good ministries out there anymore." It's those kinds of doubts that will cause financial supporters to not just cut off Ligonier but also any other Reformed ministry that fails to speak out against the Ligonier scandal.

Some have suggested that I post the names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of RC Sproul's preacher friends so that they can be contacted and asked what they've done to call RC Sproul to public repentance. After giving the matter much consideration I now agree that, in the interest of accountability, that's probably a prudent thing to do:

Dr. John MacArthur
Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd
Sun Valley, CA 91352
phone: 818-909-5500
fax: 818-909-5712
receptionist@gracechurch.org

John Piper
Desiring God Ministries
2601 E Franklin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55406
toll free: 888-346-4700
phone: 612-435-2401
fax: 612-338-4372
mail@desiringgod.org

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III
First Presbyterian Church
1390 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
phone: 601-353-8316
phone: 601-973-9104
mrb@fpcjackson.org

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
2825 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40280
phone: 502-897-4011
mail@albertmohler.com

C.J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace Ministries
7505 Muncaster Mill Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
phone: 301-330-7400
email form

Mark Dever
Capitol Hill Baptist Church
525 A Street Northeast
Washington, DC 20002
phone: 202-543-6111
phone: 202-543-1224
fax: 202-543-6113
info@9marks.org

If you call or write any of these ministers please show them due respect: "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren." (1Tim. 5:1) Here's an example of a letter that you might want to send them, or use for talking points if you call them. It might be useful at the top of your letter to include the names of all of them so they all know the others have received copies too:
Dear ____________,

My understanding is that you're a friend and ministry associate of RC Sproul and that you've spoken at some of the same conferences. As you no doubt already know Dr. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries sued a Christian blogger on August 25. That lawsuit was withdrawn "without prejudice" on September 27. What that means is that Ligonier reserved the option of suing Frank Vance again and in fact in an article in the Orlando Sentinel it stated that, "Ministry attorney Daniel Brodersen said Thursday that if the group does find Vance, it may file a new suit."

To date Ligonier has issued two public statements, neither of which offer any apology for Ligonier's unbiblical and unchristian conduct. Regardless of Mr. Vance's allegations and methods I'm far more concerned about Ligonier's unbiblical response and the terrible example they've set and the terrible testimony for Christ that they've been.

As a personal friend and ministry associate of Dr. Sproul's I'm wondering where you stand on all this. Do you side with RC Sproul and Ligonier Ministries and believe that their actions can be biblically justified in light of 1 Corinthians 6:1-7? If not I'd like to know what you've done to encourage RC Sproul to issue a public statement of repentance. If you've already done that then I'd like to know why you haven't issued any public statements yourself. My concern is that your continued silence will be viewed as an endorsement of Ligonier's sinful behavior.

In the unlikely event that you're unaware of these significant events please see the following links:
Ligonier Ministries Sues Frank Vance
Public Statement by Tim Dick
Public Statement by Ligonier Senior Management
Ligonier Ministries: More Lies Exposed By Orlando Sentinel

You should also take note of the fact that on the front page of USA Today, October 3 edition, Ligonier Ministries was prominently mentioned in an article about lawsuits and bloggers. This Ligonier scandal requires immediate damage control and any continued silence by Reformed leaders such as yourself will likely only make things much worse.

Thank you in advance for your concern about this matter and for the godly leadership that I'm confident you will soon begin to publicly demonstrate. I appreciate receiving a timely response to the concerns that I've raised here.

Respectfully,

XXXXXXX

If you've been a donor to any of the above ministries, or you've supported these ministers or their ministries in any other way (purchased their books, attended their conferences, etc.) make that known in your letter or email. Demonstrating a personal connection makes it more likely that your letter will get by the screeners. As you receive responses from these men, please post those responses as comments to this thread, or if a response is very long then email it to me.

47 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been following your site and others regarding the Ligonier thing and have been distressed by their lawsuit, but I would like to know what has become of the initial charges regarding SDG. Have you received any info regarding the posting by Dr. Kistler? Thanks.

10/03/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Former Lig Donor said...

"•Ligonier Ministries, a religious broadcaster and publisher in Lake Mary, Fla., has taken the unusual step of asking a judge to pre-emptively silence a blogger to try to prevent him from criticizing the ministries. Judges historically have refused to place such limits on traditional publishers.

"The lawsuit cites postings on a blog by Frank Vance that described Ligonier president Timothy Dick as 'a shark' and as coming from a 'family of nincompoops.' The suit says the entries are false and have damaged Dick's reputation."

USA Today, October 3, 2006, Page 1A

10/03/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous jimmy olsen said...

R.C. remains silent because he doesn't want to be bothered. He stays in his ivory tower of theology splitting hairs of doctrine while his ministry is being devoured from the inside.

This R.C.'s standard M.O. and this is not the first time R.C. has idly stood by while those at the helm of Ligonier made decisions that were unbiblical and unchristian. It is time for Ligonier's leadership, particularly R.C., to be held accountable for the sins of comission and omission that they have taken part in.

It is also time for those other ministers of the Reformed faith to quit turning a blind eye to the clear evidence of a lack of character and Christian maturity of one of their own.

Being a great theologian does not give you the right to go against scripture in the daily running of your ministry.

10/03/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Go Tim! said...

Tim Dick deserves a promotion and a bonus. He may already be President, CEO, and CFO, but he should also be CPO -- Chief Publicity Officer -- because it's doubtful anyone else could have gotten Ligonier Ministries on the cover of USA Today.

Good work, Tim! That's the way to show them you're no nincompoop!

10/03/2006 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Former Lig Donor said...

Frank isn't it interesting that this story could wind up on the front page of USA Today and yet World Magazine doesn't have a thing to say about this scandalous lawsuit? One of the only reasons I like to read the "Mailbag" section of World is to see the silly reasons people give for cancelling their World subscriptions. It's usually over the way that World covered a particular story. I've never seen anyone write in and say they were cancelling because World didn't cover a story at all. Well maybe that's going to happen now. I'll give them another week and if they don't cover it I'm cancelling. I think it's now real obvious where World's loyalties lie, and it's not with their subscribers, it's with their advertisers.

Here's something else I just found online, "Ligonier Ministries, a religious broadcaster and publisher in Lake Mary, Fla., has taken the unusual step of asking a judge to preemptively silence a blogger to try to prevent him from criticizing the ministries."

National Center For Policy Analysis

10/03/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Minister of Justice said...

Good find, former lig donor. I think the USA Today story will lead to much more coverage -- as well it should.

The Ligonier lawsuit scandal has given me an idea: The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), of which Ligonier is a member, should add to its rules a provision that requires every member organization to include in its bylaws a section prohibiting the use of ministry funds to initiate any lawsuits against Christians and that any violation of this rule will result in automatic expulsion from the ECFA.

What do you think?

10/03/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous blogger007 said...

Don't cancel without at least asking them directly, plainly, and explicitely, with an email or phone call at the very least, to research and report on the story, AND then giving them time to do just that.

Or you can add yourself to the list of those who unsubscribe for ridiculous reasons.

10/03/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Andy Nowicki said...

Mr. Vance,

I am not Reformed; in fact, I am not even Protestant, but I do recall listening to Dr. Sproul Sr.'s "Renewing Your Mind" lecture series on Christian radio a few years ago, and being impressed by the extent of his knowledge, and by his overall demeanor (he seemed kindly, and if someimes a trifle pedantic never obnoxiously so).

Hearing about your own struggles with the ministry he founded, and its apparent descent into corruption, as you have chronicled, has been eye-opening, to say the least. I applaud you for having the b@lls to call these people to task. I only hope that not too many people lose heart or faith over this whole sordid saga.

If I, a Catholic, could appreciate RC Sproul as a thinker, then I can only imagine the impact he has made among like-minded people, and thus, the disillusionment that this all must be creating in the Reformed community. My prayers are with y'all.

Andy Nowicki
www.andynowicki.blogspot.com

10/03/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous ReformedCalvinist said...

I notice that this "family of nincompoops" misquote has taken on a life of its own.

Have you made any direct attempts to correct it?

10/03/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Anonymous John said...

On the front page of USA today:

http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20061003/index_image.htm

Frank can you post the picture of the page here?

10/03/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

Someone Writes In With Concerns About Vance

10/03/2006 07:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave in Michigan said...

Wow. Frank, I think that you are over-reaching. Lost in all of this hubbub over the lawsuit are the original allegations that Don Kistler was swindled. Were they well founded or simply a matter of gossip that you tried to fan into flame?

I'm not taking sides here only questioning your methods. Instead of confronting Tim Dick directly about the alleged crime you should've gone to Ligonier's board. If, and only if, they denied the allegations and stone-walled should you have gone public with your claims.

Now the lawsuit is the issue and you are asking for R.C. Sproul to publicly apologize for a "sin" he did not commit (I question that the lawsuit is a violation of I Corinthians 6. Ligonier is a ministry/business which you have publicly defamed without proof). I say that your methods of encouraging Piper, Dever, et. al to get involved will produce little results.

The issue that you miss is one of jurisdiction: Tim Dick and Dr. Sproul are chiefly accountable to Ligonier's Board of Directors. The leaders you name in the hopes of putting pressure on Dr. Sproul will refrain from commenting and/or acting on any of these allegations because they would view them as "in-house" matters to be dealt with by Ligonier's board. They would only get involved if something came out that demonstrably proved Dr. Sproul Sr. was no longer fit to be in ministry. You, my friend, have not made that case.

Ligonier's board must investigate the alleged crime against Don Kistler. Likewise, they too must decide if the lawsuit was in order and if so explain why. Based on your posts it appears that some or most of the board members were not consulted about this matter. I can only imagine the public relations battle that is going on behind closed doors.

Don't interpet the silence from WORLD or Christianity Today as inaction. No doubt they are looking into your allegations and double-checking the facts. They have to do that in such a high-profile case. Now that Don Kistler has come forward to set the record straight I wonder if there was anything to this at all.

This entire event bears a strange resemblance to the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove/Scooter Libby case in Washington. A huge investigation was unleashed trying to prove that Karl Rove leaked Ms. Plame's indentity as a CIA agent. When all was said and done Rove did no such thing, nor did Libby. All that came of it was a perjury charge against Libby who probably made an honest mistake in recalling previous conversations.

If you have proof that Don Kistler was swindled then bring that proof forth for the entire world to see. Otherwise you have done nothing more than yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre and are now complaining because you got trampled as people ran for the doors.

10/03/2006 07:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to see your home address listed with others. I hope that you are weekly sharing the gospel with children and are working the spread the gospel.
1 John 3:20

10/03/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

It is a sad day when a Christian ministry airs its dirty laundry on the front page of USA Today for all the world to see.

Former Lig Donor, maybe we should all call World Magazine at 800-951-6397 or the editor at 828-232-5415 tomorrow and ask them to cover the story. Maybe they just need a little motivation! And if you're a subscriber, tell them that also.

Great article at Pooh's Think! The longer this goes on, the more credibility Ligonier loses. Again, very sad.

10/03/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kathleen F. said...

The lawsuit is very disturbing by itself, but what seems to be revealing to me is the fruit of the young man (grandson) still gainfully employed at Ligonier that would make a mother cry. I know what that is like because I had a rebellious teenager that turned their back on the Lord and His word.

Through the process of separating our family from this person so they could come to repentence, the Lord has graciously heard my cry and brought this person to faith in Him, His Word, and fellowship with us. It is such a blessing to receive home the "prodigal". God resists the proud, but He shows such grace and love to the humble.

It would be good if that could happen to more of us as Christians when we are shown the error of our ways.

10/03/2006 11:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Ex Lig Donor said...

Frank, thanks for supplying the contact information for the pastors RC Sproul invites to speak to his conferences. Thanks also for the sample letter/email. I agree that contacting RC Sproul's well-known friends is the best thing the public could do right now to help Ligonier's leadership come to their senses. I will let you know what kind of response I receive.

10/04/2006 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JOHN MACARTHUR IN HIS STUDY BIBLE SPEAKS WELL IN HIS COMMENTS RE: 1 CORINTHIANS. FOR EXAMPLE, HE SAYS
6:1 DARE. SUING ANOTHER BELIEVER IN A SECULAR LAW COURT IS A DARING ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE BECAUSE OF ITS IMPLICATIONS RELATED TO ALL SIN -- THE DISPLEASURE OF GOD: A MATTER AGAINST ANOTHER....
6:4 ...THE BASIC MEANING IS CLEAR; WHEN CHRISTIANS HAVE EARTHLY QUARRELS AND DISPUTES AMONG THEMSELVES, IT IS INCONCEIVABLE THAT THEY WOULD TURN TO THOSE LEAST QUALIFIED (UNBELIEVERS) TO RESOLVE THE MATTER.
6:5,6. SHAME. SUCH CONDUCT AS SUING A FELLOW BELIEVER IS NOT ONLY A SINFUL SHAME, BUT A COMPLETE FAILURE TO ACT OBEDIENTLY AND RIGHTEOUSLY. CHRISTIANS WHO TAKE FELLOW CHRISTIANS TO COURT SUFFER MORAL DEFEAT AND SPIRITUAL LOSS EVEN BEFORE THE CASE IS HEARD, AND THEY BECOME SUBJECT TO DIVINE CHASTENING.
6:7 WHY...NOT...ACCEPT WRONG? ...CHRISTIANS HAVE NO RIGHT TO INSIST ON LEGAL RECOURSE IN A PUBLIC COURT. IT IS FAR BETTER TO TRUST GOD'S SOVEREIGN PURPOSE IN TROUBLE AND LOSE FINANCIALLY, THAN TO BE DISOBEDIENT AND SUFFER SPIRITUALLY.
JOHN MACARTHUR HAD SPOKEN VERY WISELY CONCERNING SUITS. CERTAINLY LIGONIER SHOULD ABIDE BY SCRIPTURE.

10/04/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Mac Fan said...

John MacArthur in his Study Bible speaks well in his comments re: 1 Corinthians 6. For example, he says,

6:1 Dare. Suing another believer in a secular law court is a daring act of disobedience because of its implications related to all sin -- the displeasure of God: a matter against another....
6:4 ...the basic meaning is clear; when Christians have earthly quarrels and disputes among themselves, it is inconceivable that they would turn to those least qualified (unbelievers) to resolve the matter.
6:5,6. Shame. Such conduct as suing a fellow believer is not only a sinful shame, but a complete failure to act obediently and righteously. Christians who take fellow Christians to court suffer moral defeat and spiritual loss even before the case is heard, and they become subject to divine chastening.
6:7 why...not...accept wrong? ...Christians have no right to insist on legal recourse in a public court. It is far better to trust God's sovereign purpose in trouble and lose financially, than to be disobedient and suffer spiritually.

John MacArthur has spoken very wisely concerning suits. Certainly Ligonier should abide by scripture.

10/04/2006 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you ever think that Ligonier and R.C. Sproul have better things to do than to respond to some raving fanatic? This whole thing started because Frank claimed that Don Kistler got ripped off by Dick and Ligonier. Did you ever notice that this story had no proof? no comment from Kistler himself? no actual evidence to back up this claim? My pastor is good friends with Don Kistler and has known him for years. When Ligonier merged with Kistler and Soli Deo, Kistler expressed gratitude and joy because the company was nearly bankrupt, and Ligonier was willing to keep it going. Frank...your self righteous attitude and mean spirited comments (any Christian to so quickly call another brother the kind of names that you have obviously doesn't understand true Chrstianity) are proof that you haven't dealt with this situation in a biblical way. Granted, I believe that Ligonier violated 1 Cor. 6 by suing you, I still believe that your responses and your criticisms have been unfoudned, devilish, mean spirited, and COMPLETELY uninformed. The very reason for this whole fiasco was based on "word of mouth" GOSSIP with no foundation, evidence, proof, etc. In your readiness to condemn R.C. Sproul, a stalwart of truth and more a man of God than you'll ever be, you have revealed that your sinful attacks are no different than the response of Ligonier to your criticisms. I'm sick of people pointing the finger at R.C. Sproul and like the Pharisees, self righteously condemning a man of God who you don't even know or have ever even talked to. I recommend you stop these childish criticisms and repent yourself.

JH

10/04/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous teacher said...

Go the Ligonier website and check out all the conferences coming up and who is speaking. You can write those speakers and ask their views on the situation.

10/04/2006 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Curious said...

Frank, Guess what? It looks like Doug Phillips may be reading your website. Shortly after Former Lig Donor linked to the USA Today article, Phillips posted an excerpt of it on his blog along with some comments, including this:

"An increasing number of private citizens, companies, and even ministries are turning to the courts for legal remedies against those individuals who would use their blogs to bring a false witness."

Curiously, Phillips did not link to the original story, so his readers wouldn't know that the "ministry" referenced in the USA Today article is Ligonier. Even more curiously, he appears to endorse ministries suing bloggers that he calls "internet assassins" without reminding his readers that the Bible prohibits Christians from suing Christians.

I call these things curious because, even if Phillips weren't reading your blog, given his relationship with the Sproul family, I can't imagine that he wouldn't be well aware of the Ligonier lawsuit by now. That being so, I think it unlikely that he accidentally failed to tell his readers about Ligonier's lawsuit or the commands in I Corinthians 6 for Christians not to sue Christians.

Still, given the terrible price Ligonier has paid and continues to pay for suing you, I don't know why Phillips would want to appear to support such a thing. Do you have any idea?

10/04/2006 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Wendi said...

I am reasonably sure that at least some big name ministries are not speaking out because they know they have skeletons of their own to hide.

10/04/2006 08:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Old Friend said...

Frank,

Great site - enjoyed the photo. I thought you and Martha were Catholics. When did you convert?

10/04/2006 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is a lesson for both parties involved...If God be for us, who can be against us. Ligonier should have let Vance say what he wanted to say...If God be for us, who can be against us. Vance should give his personal information to Ligonier and let them sue him...If God be for us who can be against us. A little gentleness should be exercised by all ...after all the gentle inherit the earth. Just my thoughts...

10/04/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Anonymous sick of it all said...

Yes Wendi, and SDG / Don Kistler has at least one major skeleton in their / his own closet. What is worse, I would think that at least MacArthur and Sproul have known about it for close to a decade (maybe not, but I would be very supprised if they do not). It is one of the best kept secrets of the Reformed conference circuit. That does not justify any wrong doing toward SDG / Don Kistler by Tim Dick / Ligonier, but you all should do your homework before you go all self righteous on A) Ligonier for "violating scripture" by "suing" anyone, and B) The silence of other high profile ministers in this case.

10/05/2006 07:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Another kind of silence said...

Curious: Still, given the terrible price Ligonier has paid and continues to pay for suing [Frank as a professing believer], I don't know why Phillips would want to appear to support such a thing.

Wendi: I am reasonably sure that at least some big name ministries are not speaking out because they know they have skeletons of their own to hide.

Wendi, your choice of words is more appropriate than you realize. Not only has it been reported that legal action was threatened against a Christian critic of Phillips but that threat also involved skeletons. You can read all about the dishonorable business in a post and in the comments to the post right here.

10/05/2006 08:17:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Sick of It All:

Or perhaps the skeleton you think you've found has been examined by these men and found not to be a skeleton at all. Perhaps the judgment of charity would go a long way here.

10/05/2006 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

James, I concur. At this time I'm unaware of the specific skeletons in Don Kistler's closet that Sick Of It All is referring to. No doubt I'll soon be informed of it though (let me specify that that should only come via email).

I've been concerned for quite some time of the probability that someone is holding something over Don Kistler's head, and that whatever it is is a whole lot more important to Don than just Ligonier job security. However I want it known that my concerns are for Don Kistler and what was done to him. This blog will not be used to publish the past sins of Don Kistler or any other minister, particularly where those sins were long ago repented of. To do otherwise would just be gossip.

For example I've received reports of grave past sins within Saint Andrews Chapel. If I were a gossip I'd post those stories. They are in fact disturbing, but my first question has always been, "Was it repented of?" If it's been repented of then as far as I'm concerned it's not appropriate to discuss it. This blog isn't a gossip column to air dirty laundry that in fact is no longer dirty because it's been washed clean through confession and repentance by the atoning sacrifice of our Savior.

Just about everyone has some skeletons in their closet that they'd be embarrassed to have come tumbling out. It's not at all improbable that Don Kistler may have some very embarrassing skeletons of his own. If he does then our only concern as Christians should be has he repented of it? If he has then it should no longer be a concern to us. Just as importantly it should no longer be of concern to him either.

Unfortunately there are cases where even if a minister has thoroughly repented of past sins, he might still be terribly concerned if those past transgressions became publicly known. Pride does that to men. Their public reputation becomes far more important to them than just being humble and honest with their supporters.

For example a man who serves as the nation's leading expert and spokesman for the Puritans may not want it known that there was a time in his life that he himself didn't model the personal holiness of a Puritan.

In order to preserve his public image, as well as his image with his own family, and not have the skeletons come tumbling out of the closet, such a man might permit himself to be coerced into doing things that he otherwise wouldn't do. For example he might permit himself to be coerced into issuing a public statement that he knows to be very misleading. In the process he places himself into a terrible jam. All his closest friends know he issued the statement under duress -- the implied threat that if he doesn't cooperate his closet door will be opened.

Unlike the men that compelled him to issue the public statement this man has a conscience, and now he can't live with what he's done. It's eating him up. He can't sleep. He can't look his friends in the eye. He can't even be around his friends at all, so now he's avoiding them. He's ashamed of himself, even more ashamed of what he's just done than of the skeletons in his closet. He wants in the worst possible way to do the right thing. He wants to do what a Puritan would do, but that takes a very humble man, and a humble man wouldn't have allowed himself to be coerced into issuing a dishonest public statement in the first place.

This is a very difficult situation, one that none of us would ever want to find ourselves in. Please keep that man in prayer. Pray that he would not just be a mere admirer of the Puritans, but that he would model the humility and integrity of a Puritan himself.

10/05/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Anonymous truth matters said...

The title of this post is 'Sinning by Silence". What about sinning by omission of facts?

Some think that truth is too ugly so they omit certain pertinent facts in order to gloss over the ugliness.

Yesterday, Challies posted on the USA today article. The point of his post is how careful bloggers should be about what they write.

But Challies, himself was not so careful. He wrote that the lawsuit had been withdrawn. That is it. No where did he mention that it was withdrawn with prejudice so they can sue again. And no where did he write for his mostly Christian audience that Ligoneir attorneys were quoted that they had hired a private detective to find Frank and if they do, may sue again.

Challies has purposely covered up for Ligoneir throughout this whole ordeal. Even when presented with factual information that can be verified.

For those knew to this site, Challies was very eager to post the statements he was sent from Ligoneir without checking facts. He never recanted or explained that the statements he posted were lies intended to deceive.

Challies is trying to make us believe that he is 'above' all of this but I think the truth of the matter is that he has business interests. He live blogs for most of the big name reformed conferences. That brings fame, money and readers.

Tim: One can sin by omission, too.

10/05/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Ministry Insider said...

Curious, Wendi, Another Kind of Silence, Frank Vance, Truth Matters --

You may not realize it, but Doug Phillips was trained as a lawyer, and he does use his legal knowledge to his advantage when dealing with people who question or challenge him. The initial communications are usually handled through his personal assistant and, if that doesn't work, Doug's lawyer is typically brought in to help ensure that, whatever else may happen, the critic does not go public with any accusations of ecclesiastical or corporate wrongdoing -- the worst possible outcome to media-sensitive Doug.

Furthermore, the elders of the questioner may be brought in at any time in the process (often through ex parte communications (where have we seen this before?) where the critic isn't present to offer his side of the story). Some of the procedural details may vary but almost always present is counter-charges against the critic (e.g. you're gossipping, slandering) to put him on the defensive. This overall approach has been highly effective, and Doug Phillips has very few public critics as a result.

You may ask what all of this has to do with Ligonier and the lawsuit against Frank Vance. Well, an inside source reports that Doug has been burning up the phone lines to Ligonier with advice on how to deal with Frank Vance and, because Doug is a lawyer as well as the head of another teaching ministry, Ligonier has been listening very closely to his advice. This accounts for some of the similarities in how Ligonier has been [mis]handling the matter. This also accounts for the selective omissions in Doug's blog post on the USA Today article.

In retrospect, it's no surprise. Doug Phillips has on several occasions publicly expressed his desire to cement an alliance with the Sproul family through marriage of one of his sons to a daughter of RC Jr. Furthermore, Doug Phillips was one of the few well-known Reformed speakers to join RC Sproul, Sr. in ignoring the church court that defrocked RC Jr., which he justified to critics by claiming that the defrocking was based on "internet gossip" -- even though the church court made its decision based on RC Jr.'s confession. You see, Doug wants everyone to recognize his authority to unilaterally discipline those he considers to be wayward church members, but he also wants to remain free himself to selectively ignore due process church discipline against his friends.

This comment is already long enough, so I won't go into further detail about the extensive Ligonier-Doug Phillips connections. But what should be clear by now is that there's no point in adding Doug Phillips to the list of friends of RC Sproul to contact to ask for help in calling RC Sproul to repentance.

10/05/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Truth Seeker said...

Posted at Challies today:

I think of the recent situation with Ligonier Ministries. Many people questioned why the statements released by Ligonier announcing the withdrawal of the lawsuit were posted only within the blogosphere. The answer, it seems to me, is quite obvious: only bloggers and people who read blogs knew about the lawsuits. There was no need for a wider response because the situation was almost entirely unknown outside the blogosphere.

Nice Spin, Tim. What about the Orlando Sentinel Articles? Is that the blogosphere? (Or the fact that NO ONE could find these statements on Ligoniers own site?)

No Tim, the now obvious reason why you were sent the statements is because Ligoneir knew that you would publish them with no questions asked and would not verify their veracity. (You do like live blogging, right?)

Ligoneir also knew what many of us did not know at the time...that they could trust you. Once you found out that the statements were not true, they could trust you to not inform your readers of those unfortuanate facts. Or even to allow comments with the facts. (As you did yesterday, too)

How many days was it from the time they sent you the statement late Friday afternoon when the courts were closed, until the time they actually withdrew the lawsuit without prejudice? Was it 8 days? I cannot remember.

But Tim, what difference does it make if the sins of Ligoneir are kept to the blogosphere? God still knows they lied and that they hired a private investigator (with donor funds?) and still retain the right to sue Frank.

You are still sinning by omission, Tim.

Sorry Frank, but Tim will not allow posts on his blog that have truth about Ligoneir.

10/05/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous James said...

If as the Scripture says, "Love covers a multitude of sins," what then must it be that would seek to uncover them, or to bring such things up that others would seek to uncover them?

10/05/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Wendi said...

"Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even _expose them_." Eph. 5:11

You know, James, my family's donor dollars are limited. We have a large family on a very blue collar salary. We need to be good stewards of where our money goes.

I am glad to know of the links Frank shared that track 'charitable' institutions.
I am glad to know of Ligonier's over the top salaries and Ryan's disgraceful behavior- I am not glad these things happened, that is heartbreaking. But since they did happen I am better off knowing these things than not knoowing them.
IF we do not know them we cannot pray and we cannot be the good stewards we should be.

10/05/2006 12:16:00 PM  
Anonymous sick of it all said...

James and Frank Vance:

Just a question: Is incompatibility a Biblically acceptable ground for divorce even if it is mutually agreed upon by husband and wife?

10/05/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger John Steinhausen said...

Frank, your old nemesis Tim Challies is spinning more tales. I posted a comment on Challies but Tim has a real bad reputation for deleting anything that contradicts him. So please allow me to repost it here for posterity:

16. A COMMENT BY JOHN STEINHAUSEN
"Many people questioned why the statements released by Ligonier announcing the withdrawal of the lawsuit were posted only within the blogosphere. The answer, it seems to me, is quite obvious: only bloggers and people who read blogs knew about the lawsuits. There was no need for a wider response because the situation was almost entirely unknown outside the blogosphere."

Just one problem with your version of the story Tim. It's not accurate. You seem to be forgetting the original article in the Orlando Sentinel. Now of course Ligonier's lawsuit is also mentioned as part of a front page story in USA Today. Tim I think you're misleading your readers into believing this is something insignificant that no one but a few obscure bloggers care about.

Reader John Steinhausen Date October 5, 2006 2:49 PM

10/05/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous ReformedCalvinist said...

Tim Challies writes as if the blogosphere were in a different planetary system. In fact, the blogosphere and the major media are intricately related.

Imagine a large news daily or weekly that doesn't bother to put up a website and expects its reporters to submit their articles by snail mail. We can't.

Anything that's big news in the blogosphere IS big news. Little Green Footballs established that, when they--and their readers--disestablished a media icon.

10/05/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

Sick Of It All, Hal Lindsey who's divorced three wives, none of whom he divorced for biblical reasons, would say "But of course." Divorce is commonplace among Christians, including among Christian ministers, and it often occurs for the most selfish and unbiblical of reasons like "I just don't love her anymore" or "We're just incompatible." I don't view divorce as an unpardonable sin, but divorce without biblical justification (e.g. adultery) is indeed a very grave sin that needs to be repented of.

I understand yours is a rhetorical question. I would ask that you email me with your concerns.

10/05/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

Sick, No, incompatibility is no biblical grounds for divorce. Adultery and/or desertion are, however.

10/05/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous praying and thinking said...

James wrote: If as the Scripture says, "Love covers a multitude of sins," what then must it be that would seek to uncover them, or to bring such things up that others would seek to uncover them?

James, the upbraiding by you and others of Frank for doing this reminds me of people who mis-use (wrest) verses in Scripture to promote a works religion, or the mis-use of verses to advocate sinless perfectionism. Wendy hit the nail on the head with her quotation of Ephesians 5:11. Remember how Paul did that, not silent about false attitudes and practices. The Sproul family and Ligonier seem either fast going toward or already arrived at the tragic place of Jim and Tammy Bakker years ago, and R.C. Sr.'s doctrine is far more Biblical, at least in what he has taught to others. If one is taken in a fault or sin, is not showing that one his fault and entreating repentance as Nathan did to David, is not that the kindest, most compassionate thing a brother can do to the Sproul family. And what about the example of all this sin for weaker Christians to observe, and for the world to observe. Is not silence (what you wrongly call "covering a multitude of sins") really an endorsement or agreement with what Ligonier and the Sproul family have done? More than the original problems with Ligonier and the Sproul family, I am concerned about the silence -- effective endorsement and support -- of many other prominent Reformed leaders about this very public sin. This is a profoundly important, serious matter for the whole body, not just limited to the Sprouls and Ligonier, and in the clear view of such strong facts, the silence by other leaders would be or is very wrong.

10/05/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous james said...

Praying and Thinking, my comments were to "Sick and Tired of It All," who made reference to skeletons in Don Kistler's closet. They stated that this went back ten years, and had nothing to do with any of these discussions. That was my reference to "covering a multitude of sins," not to Frank Vance.

10/05/2006 05:32:00 PM  
Blogger Frank Vance said...

James and Sick, we've had more than enough discussion of Don Kistler's closet. So James you get the last word on that matter. If anyone has anything further they feel necessary to share on that subject then email it to me. However as far as this discussion goes we need to get back on topic.

10/05/2006 06:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Sadenned said...

Frank, yes, let's get back on topic. I really like the direction we are headed here. For each leader that does not respond, let's try to take down each one of their ministries.

10/05/2006 09:12:00 PM  
Anonymous lucille said...

I don't understand people attacking Don Kistler. He is no nincompoop.
Mr. Kistler is a Godly man. He sins like the rest of us and to attack him without the facts is a sin too. He is a man of humility. He is a man of forgiveness.
He is a great example of Collosians 3

3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your [1] life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: [2] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. [3] 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self [4] with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, [5] free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If you support anyone at Ligonier support SDG books. Mr. Kistler has worked so hard for spreading humble living among Christians.

10/06/2006 07:42:00 AM  
Anonymous mosaic said...

John, I saw your post was still on Challies, as well as Tim's reply that "only a very narrow slice of people outside the blogosphere would know about it." I posted that I've had friends outside the blogsphere ask about it, as well as my own Mom, who has no Internet access (and isn't even a Christian). So I'd say it's a darn good size slice who know about it. Besides which, does that even matter? A sin that few know about isn't any better or worse than a sin that everyone knows about. God knows, that's the main thing, right?

10/06/2006 07:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Ex Lig Donor said...

Recent commenters on Jen's Gems have picked up on the Doug Phillips/Ligonier connection and have supplied new material. Worth checking out at this link.

10/06/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Ex Lig Donor said...

Curious said, "Guess what? It looks like Doug Phillips may be reading your website."

Curious, you were right. Michael Metzler now has proof that Doug, his wife Beall, and Vision Forum staff member Nathan Barnes have been keeping close watch on Ligonier lawsuit developments, in particular any reports of the Phillips-Ligonier connection on blogs. Very interesting.

10/06/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger TheIronHare said...

Michael Metzler has some interesting posts about Doug Phillips. Or, as I've called him, Dunce Full-of-it. WARNING: One post contains an uncensored term for excrement.

http://poohsthink.com/?cat=38

Also, I changed my display name from "Dennis" to "TheIronHare." Lest I be confused with some other Dennis. :) - Dennis, the long-eared hoppy critter

10/06/2006 12:30:00 PM  

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