Sep 21, 2006

Did Ligonier Ministries REALLY sue Frank Vance?

Brrring. Brrring. Brrring. (phone ringing at Ligonier Ministries, Inc.)
Ligonier: Thank you for calling Ligonier Ministries, the home of "Renewing Your Mind" with RC Sproul. … For all other inquiries, please press '5.'

Ligonier : Ligonier Ministries. How may we help you today?
Joe Christian: I have been a supporter of Ligonier for quite a while now, but I am a little concerned about what is being reported in the open press concerning Ligonier. Is it true that Ligonier has filed a lawsuit against a Christian?
Ligonier: I am not able to comment on that at this time. It would be best if you e-mailed customerservice@ligonier.org.
Joe Christian: You can't comment -- does that mean there is a lawsuit but you can't comment or there is no lawsuit but you can't comment?
Ligonier : I am not able to comment on that at this time. It would be best if you e-mailed customerservice@ligonier.org.
Joe Christian: It does seem there is a lawsuit. Can you tell me why Ligonier is suing a fellow believer when that is a clear violation of I Corinthians 6?
Ligonier: I am not able to comment on that at this time. It would be best if you e-mailed customerservice@ligonier.org.
Joe Christian: Well, how about you personally? As a Christian, and I'm assuming you are a Christian since you work for a Christian ministry, don't you think you personally should take a stand when Scripture is being violated by a policy or action of that ministry?
Ligonier: I am not able to comment on that at this time. It would be best if you e-mailed customerservice@ligonier.org.
Joe Christian : Can't you just answer 'yes' or 'no?'
Ligonier : They won't let us say anything else. It would be best if you e-mailed customerservice@ligonier.org.

Frustrated? Confused? Feel betrayed? Heard through the grapevine that Ligonier is denying the lawsuit? I did. I called to check and was told that no lawsuit had been filed. I called back and now they won't say anything. Don't know who's really telling the truth?

Well, it turns out that Ligonier did file suit against a Christian blogger. And we were able to track down a copy of it. It's right here, in black and white. Take a look at it for yourself. It's not very long.

What does it all mean in plain English? Well, it means that Ligonier as an organization, along with Tim Dick as an individual, filed a lawsuit against Frank Vance, a professing Christian, on August 25th for allegedly defaming them by the comments he made on his blog, Contending for the Truth. Tim Dick and Ligonier also ask the judge to act quickly to order Frank to stop saying bad things about Ligonier. They say the judge should issue this order quickly even without hearing Frank's side of the story because it's urgent and because they could not contact Frank to give him notice of the suit.

The above story is today’s version of events at Ligonier. To read last week’s version of events on the same subject, read here.

Once again, Ligonier, the Christian community calls upon your organization and the individuals responsible for this unbiblical lawsuit to repent. Dr. and Mrs. Sproul, Mr. Dick, board members, and any employee who has misinformed callers and supporters concerning the existence of this lawsuit, please, please repent of this latest transgression of God’s Holy Word, which we as Christians commonly call “lies.” For the sake of the gospel and for the holiness of God, please turn from the course you are on.

45 comments:

No more donations... said...

Shame on Ligonier and Tim Dick for filing suit against a Christian blogger and doubly shame on them for covering up their lawsuit! God is not pleased and he is not mocked. The longer the dishonorable and deceptive behavior persists the higher the price that ultimately will be paid.

Meanwhile, no more donations from me.

Anonymous said...

As a pastor and one who has written for Table Talk magazine I am thankful for your efforts in all this. Your compassion for people, including the people at Ligonier, and your heart for God to be glorified as He should by the lives of His people, is plain.

Knowing only what I have read on the world wide web, my take at this point is that it remains theoretically possible that Ligonier's side of the story may turn out to be reasonable and understandable, but with each passing day the chances of that seem more and more remote.

Some of this is still he-said/she-said, but there are already enough empirically established facts (salaries, documented behavior of particular employees, the mere EXISTANCE of the lawsuit) to give me what I think is now a permanent case of the willies about Ligonier.

Another former donor said...

Frank Vance has posted a new article that provides further testimony of Ligonier's cover-up of the lawsuit. It also provides the most current known contact information (including phone numbers) for the Ligonier board members:


Ligonier Ministries Employees Instructed To Lie?

Anonymous said...

I tell you what I fear is going to happen: Sproul Sr. or Tim Dick is going to have some sort of major medical problem from all this stress. (Subversion is stressful)

This will be announced and the empathy will pour in. The sins will be swept away in light of the medical problem.

The lawsuit will be dropped because they righted the contract with Kistler even though that will not be the public reason for dropping it. Kistler who has been ill will publically say all is well because he never wanted this in the first place.

And Frank, who has been unfairly maligned by many, will never counter sue for all the stress and slander on him.

This issue will fade away without any serious turning away from sin.

Jen said...

Anonymous - thanks for posting, but may I request that you use any made-up name solely for the sake of connectivity. I'm not sure if you are the same anonymous as the first anonymous or not!

Your assessment and prophecy of the whole situation sounds only all too plausible. It is time for Christians to live by God's Word and not by their "feelings." This sort of sympathy (that we are projecting may occur should your "prophecy" come true) undermines the holiness of God. You're right; Satan will probably use any diversion he can think of to keep sinning Christians, especially public figures, from repenting. Just shove it under the rug a little and people will forget about it.

Well, I think there are at least a couple people who are not willing to see that happen! Until there is full repentance, and a full taking of responsibility, there are still a few Christians who love RC Sproul and his ministry, who love the Lord, and who love the holiness of God enough to keep putting the pressure on.

You know, though, God could use illness to help facilitate repentance as well. I believe He often does that.

May the Lord use whatever means He deems necessary to bring all sinners involved in this fiasco to repentance.

Charitable Onlooker said...

FYI

Tim Dick (currently) and R.C. Sproul Sr. (heck even John Duncan) are all battling some medical problems.

Tim Dick has had long-standing health problems due to an injury he sustained some time ago. Compounding that, he is struggling with the onset of MS, and is frequently not even able to work a lot of hours.

R.C. has had some several strokes (at least two) over the past few years.

Most of these are entirely unrelated to stress and I am sure that the pressure at Ligonier (not just due to this situation, but mainly due to major new projects they have recently embarked on) is stretching the senior staff a ton.

Hopefully this situation will help the staff at Ligonier pay attention to some weaknesses in their accountability and their need to abandon 'ends justifying means' in the manner in which they direct their ministry. By the same token, I don't know if 'fearing' a quiet resolution to the SDG issue and a (personal) rededication of the senior management to God's glory in their work for Ligonier is a charitable attitude to have.

Many of us are concerned about these issues. And to the extent that poor judgment is leading to Ligonier improperly using donations - the public has a stake in the outcome of this situation. But most of the issues here require private, rather than public, reconciliation.

I am not holding out for a public or self-abasing humiliation by the Ligonier staff. Their dropping their lawsuit, quietly approaching the principals in the various conflicts and repenting from the practices that led to these abuses would suit me. Especially if they added to those things an apology for not exhausting every means possible before considering an unwise lawsuit AND announcing that they were connecting oversight of their ministry to a church/presybtary - or at the very least improving the level of spiritual accountability as an organization (for instance - "John Piper's" Desiring God ministry is constituted under the authority of Bethlehem Baptist Church - not an independent board).

Jen said...

Charitable Onlooker - It is interesting how you start out with only a few small, private requirements for Ligonier to be able to regain your favor, but as you keep going, you keep thinking of more and more remedies to the current sin situation! While I think you have some great ideas, I would also tend toward some public repentance.

To whom much is given, much will be required. When God blesses someone with a public ministry, everything about that ministry becomes public - the good and the bad! When sin affects the public, or in this case the donors at the very least and Christians in general at the most, then public confession and public repentance are required.

Let this situation be a lesson to all public Christian figures - Be sure your sin will find you out!

philip said...

Wow Jennifer you are big on gossip. Maybe you have some sins to confess as well. Reading the ligonier update it is more than enough to see that they realized that taking legal action was not the best course. Forgive them and quit holding a grudge. And no comment about Don Kistler's statement? Now it is just finding fault over the wording. injunction vs lawsuit.

Jen said...

Philip - I wrote this article precisely because Ligonier was not telling the truth when concerned Christians were calling in to express their views about this whole situation. At first, Ligonier was blatantly lying about NOT filing a SLAPP suit against Frank Vance, which they clearly did, as evidenced by the .pdf link I provided as proof. Then Ligonier basically refused to talk about it at all, referring people to e-mail the man who was mainly responsible for this whole mess, Tim Dick. Since I have already had many lengthy conversations there, I already knew where that would lead. My point in posting the proof was that many Christians were being deceived into believing that there wasn't really a lawsuit. There is. And since I am not one to gossip, I provided proof.

As far as semantics go, while there certainly is a huge difference between a SLAPP lawsuit and an injunction in the legal world, as a Christian, I find no difference whatsoever according to I Corinthians 6. Ligonier and Tim Dick still went to the world's court system instead of through other believers. They lied about not being able to contact Frank Vance, and they lied to their donors about the existence of the SLAPP lawsuit.

I can forgive them all I want, but that does not absolve them from taking full responsibility for their actions and repenting.

I am not prepared at this time to answer your other questions, but I will answer them as soon as possible.

Lin said...

Jennifer, I am the 2nd anon. I pulled up the comments page and there was a glitch asking me to sign up for a blogger account instead of the regular page that usually has my name listed. I took the easy way. Sorry,I was being lazy and should have signed it!

Well, I have read the statements at Challies that were links to the Ligonier site. When I went there, I could not find them for the life of me. Seems they were pretty well hidden and had not Tim published a link, we may never know about it.

The spin in the statement is big enough to drive a mac truck through and only shows me there are serious 'heart' problems. Or as you say, Orthopraxy not matching orthodoxy.

Trying to say it was not really a lawsuit is quite inventive. If you have ever had an injunction or been SLAPPed, you would not think that. (I have seen it in business quite a few times)

As to Kistler. Who knows? From what I have seen how Ligonier handles inquiries and complaints, I think I would say the same if I had a stroke. Remember, he gets a paltry 85,000 a year compared to Tim Dicks 230,000 and RC's 260,000.

Charitable onlooker writes: "But most of the issues here require private, rather than public, reconciliation."

Deadly wrong. They are a ministry that teaches the WORD of God. How they handle this publically is very important and so far does not look good. Remember, there are documented lies, Sir. Even the statement from a vague 'Senior Management' is filled with spin. Where is SR?

Is their understanding of the Bible head knowledge only?

I am weary of debating technical points with people on this. Where are their hearts? Is it not important for us to see how our 'teachers' of the Word handle their public sins against another brother and repentence. There are quite a few people out there blindly following men instead of Christ. Yes, Jen is right we can forgive all we want but that will NOT absolve them from this at all!

Forgiveness without repentence = What? It negates Christ's work on the cross! A full and complete public repentence is in order. Perhaps even a firing of Tim Dick and Ryan Dick.

Think of what SR's actions right now are teaching Christians. He holds a huge responsibility to do this right as a teacher of the Word.

Isn't this what he has taught us?

Mark Epstein said...

Philip,

Blatant public sin requires public confession and public repentance. Ligonier's actions were made public by an Orlando newspaper AFTER Ligonier filed a public two-part lawsuit seeking monetary damages and an injunction seeking to muzzle and intimidate Frank Vance (commonly referred to as a SLAPP suit). Filing a lawsuit is representative of the world's ways, not normative Christian behavior. To insinuate Jennifer is gossiping would be bad enough, but you, Philip, come right out and say she is gossiping. This is factually inaccurate.

Ligonier is engaging in publicly sinful behavior because it failed to adhere to biblical principles, and it then complicated the issue (engaged in further sin) by the reported and verified deceptive measures it used to hide the truth from concerned Christians calling the ministry. Ligonier must repent publicly for the filing of the lawsuit, its other sinful behavior, and the mindset that exists within the organization, for it is obvious there are some spiritual issues that need to be resolved. The idea, motivation, and follow through of filing this lawsuit did not occur in a vacuum, it occurred within a parachurch organization! What type of sin are you willing to tolerate,Philip? You falsely accuse Jennifer of gossiping, but you appear to have no concern whatsoever that Ligonier even embarked on this aberrant course of action. Do you fully comprehend the egregious nature of Ligonier’s actions? This is not sin on the part of sheep; this is public sin on the part of Christ’s under shepherds. The Bible makes it clear there is a higher standard that Ligonier must adhere to and maintain. This is why God expects His under shepherds to be mature men of God – they must maintain public purity.

Philip, you need to check your facts before you make an accusation concerning gossiping. Jennifer checked and re-checked the factual basis of her information before posting it on her blog.

Lastly, Philip, if, sir, you are a professing believer in the atoning work of Christ Jesus, then you recognize the need for all of us to daily die to self and confess our sins before our Maker and before one another. Furthermore, to infer some secret sin in another believer’s life without evidence is inflammatory (to say the least). On the other hand, there is no need to infer sin within the Ligonier organization, for its actions reflect the presence of sin at many levels. To use a medical analogy, it may be that Ligonier needs to undergo surgery for the carcinoma present within the organization. I do not know at this point. However, what I do know is this: Ligonier is beyond the mere carcinogenic effects of sin all believers must endure in this world; Ligonier is experiencing the carcinogen of sin establishing itself within the organism and expressing itself in public illness.

Meaghan May said...

I thin that Philip was trying to let you know that a public statement had been made. You owe him an apology. Also the lawsuit that you have posted was withdrawn much earlier this week. "Vance" has not shared this. There is a lot that he has chosen not to share. Have you seen the public statements made by Ligonier Senior managers and Tim Dick? Have you read Don Kistler's reply? "Vance has not published it yet, but I thought that you should know.

I was the customer service representative that you spoke to. I am sure you can understand while under the circumstances I refrained from discussing the issue, but gave you another place where you could have recieved more information, if you had chosen to. Instead, that is not your story at all. You choose to make this about whether I would comment at the time of the call. Since so much of what we have stated over the phone has been twisted over the last week by supposedly well-meaning Christians, we decided it was best not to add fuel to the fire of gossip.
So if you go to the links I posted, you will find an answer to all of your questions--something Vance does not want you to see. We have been doing our best to respond to the needs of those concerned as quickly as possible, but unfortunately miscommunication has thwarted that process. It has been a surprising situation to all of us, and despite what Vance claims, he has not behaved in a Christ-like manner. There were attempts to resolve this in other ways, beyond what he has announced on his site.

To Mr. Epstein, "to infer some secret sin in another believer’s life without evidence is inflammatory," well sir, that is something in which you have been engaged. Kistler himself has denounced Vance's lies. You have made harsh statements against John Duncan and other staff members from far away. And while you claim to be pursuing a response, when we let you know how you can get one, and post one on the internet, you ignore us and write about it on the web.

For the record I am a Christian. For the record I am disgusted by more than the fact that a lawsuit was filed, and I apologize for not being able to answer your question directly. If, however, you would have followed the directions I had given you, the answers you were seeking would have been provided. They are here for you now. I pray for all of us in the situation, and that we all we humbly seek the Lord's forgiveness and guidance on how to proceed. Please do notice the the ministry and Tim have taken responsibility for their actions.

disappointed said...

I have been following your blog for awhile now and must say I too have been disappointed...you often preface your comments by saying this is not gossip, when it clearly is. I must say I agree with everything Philip said. I'm looking forward to the return of your yummy weekly recipes!

Jen said...

Disappointed - While this was NOT the intention of this blog - exposing sin in a public Christian ministry - this is important that Christians rally together to gently restore a sinning public ministry. I did not set out to do this; God basically dropped this information into my lap in a way that was clear to me that I should do this.

My blog shall return to its original intent soon; but I must obey God in this. I sincerely pray that I present the necessary information in a Christ-like manner.

I shall endeavor to post a new recipe soon! Maybe this weekend sometime! Thanks for stopping by, and please use this as an opportunity to pray for Ligonier. My heart's desire is to see them be one of the greatest Christian ministries ever!

disappointed said...

Jen (and Mark), Gossip includes "talking idly about a situation - especially about the affairs of others", and to "go about tattling". It seems clear to me this especially happened on your post of 9/18 where this information was sought out.
Plus, just because someone "dropped this information into [your] lap" does not mean you need to tell the whole world (potentially) about it.
Aside, I will look forward to the recipe.

Wendi Capehart said...

I'm disappointed at the eagerness to shoot the messenger displayed by some here.
Ryan Dick thinks of the ministry supported by hard earned and generously donated funds as a 'family business' he is entitled to inherit. He says so out of his own mouth. It is not gossip to link to his own public posts.
Ryan Dick's attitudes about women, drinking, wholesome talk, partying, materialism, and wealth are a matter of public evidence from his own keyboard. It is not gossip to post links to those things.

As a nonprofit corporation Ligonier's financial records are supposed to be a matter of public record. It is not gossip to point out that they spent over 60,000 dollars in legal expenses shortly after Tim Dick was put in charge. It is not gossip to point out that this allegedly Not for Profit ministry pays a salary to several people (all relatives) not in proportion to PROFIT organizations of a similar size.

Ligonier, which is supported by donors who believe they are supporting a ministry, used donor funds to sue somebody for 15 million dollars in damages, and then used donor funds to lie to donors about it (donor funds pay for the phone lines, the employees, etc)- and they did not even notify the person they sued!

Hardly anybody heard of Frank Vance before Ligonier did this, so if they lost money they did so because of their own actions publicizing his charges. Frank Vance supports himself. He has not set himself up as a 501c3 and requested that I support him in his endeavors. Whatever he's done, whether it be good or ill, he did with his own money on his own authority. HE has no public standing in the world. He is not a nonprofit, he is not a leading publisher of theological works. He did not make me complicit in his actions by using my money to do what he did.

Ligonier, by contrast, did what they did with donor funds, and they do have a very public face and represent Christianity in the minds of many in the world. They have brought shame and reproach on the name of Christ, and those of you who support them and call Jem a gossip for pointing out the evidence that they have done these things are supporting Ligonier in sin.
It is disappointing. I have appreciated Sproul, Senior's ministry and writings myself. We hate to be let down by those we admire. But we ought not to put our trust in men or horses rather than God, and I see considerable evidence that people have done just that.

I would like to see repentance at Ligonier, and I would like to see the deeds meet for repentance. 'Whoops, sorry, we see that we've made people mad,' is not a repentant apology. There's more involved in demonstrating repentance of what is, after all, an incredibly public sin. That would include releasing a current financial statement, showing that they have a board that holds them accountable, reducing the salaries of the Sproul's, firing Tim Dick and his son Ryan, and holding those two men up for church discipline, and a very public apology to frank vance for suing him in the first place, for not telling him about it, and for lying to the court about not being able to reach him.
Frankly, for lying to the court, they should also be charged with perjury.


The mere existence of the lawsuit, especially since they denied it, is significant enough to cause dismay and heartache among those who loved Sproul's ministry, but love Jesus more.

Meaghan May said...

I continue to be shocked by you Mrs. Epstein. This is the very customer service representative that you are misrepresenting in your entry. This is now my second attempt to share the very information that you say was so difficult to find. The very information that you could have been given if you had just submited an email to the address that I provided. I am saddened by your neglect of the truth when it is givne to you, and your distortion of fact. I suppose you are now feeling trapped by your deciet, and that is why you are refusing to share the links that I am submitting to you.

For the record, I am a Christian. For the record, we had to wait to respond to the questions that you were pretending to ask so politely, because, as you prove in this entry, what we say often is retold from the bias slant of "uninformed" individuals (though in your case you chose to be "uninformed." I pray you never fully realize the damage you have caused by your malicious attacks on real people who try to serve you, but I do pray for your repentance.
Not only have I shared with you Dr Kistler's denouncement of Vance's accusations, and I sent you links with public statements from Ligonier Ministries announcing the fact that they dropped the lawsuit that you ignore, but now you ignore that information and offer more challenges to others in the ministry--instead of repenting. To ignore the very information that you keep requesting is sinful. This is your choice.

You may still continue to ignore this information to prevent those reading your blog from being more fully informed, but God knows and sees your sin. Looking forward to your recipe.

Wendi said...

A correction to my post ( I see several things that should be corrected, but this is the only thing of significance) I said 15 million dollars, when Ligonier ministries sued Frank Vance for 15 thousand dollars. The difference in amounts is substantial, but the difference in significance is not.

Meaghan May, Ligonier sued a professed Christian, and they did it with donor funds. That makes it my business. The only gossip I have seen here is yours and that of others supporting Ligonier's actions.

It was dishonest to say they did not sue when they did.
I have read the statements from Ligonier and Tim Dick, and I am sadly unimpressed. They may be the worst excuses for an apology I have ever seen in my life.
As for Dr. Kistler's statement, you again miss the point. Even if Vance's allegations about Kistler are false, he made them on his own dime, not mine. Ligonier has pursued this course of action supported by donor funds. Their course of action through this whole thing has been deeply troubling and disturbing. This course, includes suing a professing Christian in a court of law and NOT notifying him; it includes giving the pagan Ryan Dick a salary from donor funds so he can continue his beer guzzling, womanizing life style and encouraging him to think of this ministry as a family business which he is entitled to inherit, etc, etc.
Suppose I am a tourist while in another country and I behave badly. This is unbecoming, and to the few people who see me, it reflects badly on my home country.
Suppose that I am an elected official supported by taxpayer funds and while in another country I behave badly. This is unbecoming, it is showing a lack of respect and accountability to those who pay my salary, and because I am a public face it reflects badly on my home country to thousands more people than similar behavior from a tourist. The impact is significantly greater.

Frank Vance was an unknown, and he would still be so if Ligonier had not sued him, yet the worst you could say about what Ligonier did is that it 'wasn't the most Christian thing to do.' That was on your blog, but I can't find it now. That's rather weak. It makes it sound like a distinctly unchristian thing to do was still kinda sorta Christian in your view. What a strange thing to say about what wasn't a remotely Christian thing to do. Neither are those high salaries, hiring Ryan Dick, or Tim Dick's behavior at other blogs (I've seen his emails- the man is so strangely incoherent that at times I've wondered if there's not something really wrong with him) in keeping with Christian behavior.

LIgonier, again, is supported by donated funds from people like me. Frank Vance isn't. Ligonier is accountable to those who support it. So far, they aren't looking very good to me, and your defenses aren't helping them. In every case, the people defending Ligonier end up resorting to the same sorts of things they accuse Frank Vance of, which makes their defenses a bit problematical.

Auffie said...

The fact Dr. Kistler's statement was not published on Ligonier's website, but emailed to bloggers, troubles me greatly. (On second thought, how is one to validate that statement even if it's posted on Ligonier's official site?) Also, why are links to the statements from Mr. Dick and senior management circulated among bloggers rather than visible (unless I missed them) from their homepage?

I was actually disappointed that the lawsuit was withdrawn, even though it should not have been filed in the first place, for it would have compelled all parties to tell the truth and stopped the circulation of gossips, slanders, half-truths, etc., that were even more damaging. Ideally this should have been tried in the ecclesiastical courts; but if Ligonier was not under the oversight of PCA or Sproul's presbytery (as it should be), and Mr. Vance would not make his church membership known, what could one do? Mr. Dick claimed to have sought mediation through Mr. Vance's pastor or session, only in vain. If this is indeed the case, and if Mr. Vance does not make his own accountability plain to the world, what can one do?

It is sad that both sides seem to have credibility problems, and if the matter is not sorted out, I am afraid that the long-term damage will be incalculable. God have mercy on us.

Lindon said...

I really hate to say this but everything, I mean everything, I have seen come from Ligoneir sounds like Spin worthy of the Clintons.

It is almost impossible to find the statement on their site! One needs a link because I have searched the site intently. I find this troubling, too. I also find it troubling that SR did not make any public statement at all from Aug 25 on when the suit was filed. The statement that is hard to find only materialized after all the calls and e-mails about the situation. Their ACTIONS speak very loudly and make their words meaningless. (salaries, ryan dick, defrocking handling, etc)

I think there is an arrogance problem from Ligoneir and their employees. They are trying to make those who ask questions out to be sinners (gossips) yet they are anything but forthcoming.

This is NOT an inside problem. This is a Chrisendom problem.

The whole spin on not being able to find an ecclessiasitcal(how DO you spell that) court is moot. What entity is Sproul Sr accountable to? He is not with the PCA. And so far, we can see he is not accountable to his board or his elders or this would never have happened. Would it?

A Christian organization filing a lawsuit and then not expecting calls to customer service about it tells me quite a bit.

For Ligoneir employees to post that Jen or anyone else asking questions owes apologies shows the arrogance. I am starting to believe that Ligoneir thinks they are above scripture. The same scripture that Sr teaches.

I also believe that all of this is an incredible opportunity and may have happened for a reason.

Meaghan, be careful who you follow. Follow Christ. Not men.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

According to the most recent post at Frank's blog, the lawsuit has NOT been withdrawn. Meaghan, any comment?
Has anybody else contacted the court in Florida? Which story is true? Did Ligonier drop it, or not?
Meaghan, did you check out the truth of Ligonier's claims about dropping the lawsuit before you accused Frank of hiding this information?

As Auffie points out, LIgonier did not choose to make the statements available on thier website, at least so far. Why would they prefer to disseminate these statements through bloggers only instead of publishing the statements on their website.

Charitable Onlooker said...

As I have stated in another comment, I don't think that Ligonier Ministries has handled this issue with grace or dignity. AND I AM NOT AN EMPLOYEE AS SOME FELLOW COMMENTERS STRANGELY ASSUMED. I think Ligonier Ministries has a lot of improvements to make in their institutional control. But isn't this situation turning out to be a little more complicated than some of us first thought?

If Frank Vance is not really a man named "Frank Vance" (i.e. he is a man named something else who is using that name as a pseudonym) does it make some of Ligonier's claims that they could not properly contact him a bit more credible? I would think it could be tough to try to mediate with the guy if he is not actually being forthcoming enough to tell you his name and such. How do you actually/formally contact him? Should Matthew 18 really be carried out entirely via email or over a blog-site?

Some of the other details do not add up either. Do you think that a part-time employee/seminary-wife/seminary student like Meaghan May is a knowing party to an organization-wide conspiracy?

Do you think Ligonier is actually going to continue this lawsuit, standing in a civil court and requesting damages and relief, while publically claiming that they are not pursuing action through civil courts?

I certainly hope that it is not continued. Hopefully Ligonier's management recognized it for what it was - a pestilential response to a honest, dishonest or something-in-between accuser - and repent(ed) of it. Perhaps the proper motions required to not continue the lawsuit are in a stack of paperwork somewhere in Seminole County and that Ligonier (as far as they know) are being honest by having directed their attorneys not to continue the action.

Furthermore, if Ligonier really did intend to continue to press forward with this lawsuit against "Frank Vance" do you think they would construct a false or forcibly compelled email from Don Kistler? Or a bunch of abject lies about not continuing the suit? How do you think those would look when they were entered into evidence? Surely they are not that facile? I know some of these managers (though not Tim Dick) pretty well. And even though I disagree with them on some issues regarding Ligonier Ministries - they are not idiots and they are not personally corrupt enough to press forward with something that is blatently dishonest and would be demonstrably so at a trial.

There has to be more to this issue.

As far as the Don Kistler thing - I still think it is amazing that we tend to take Frank Vance's side on this issue when none of us has any independent means of verifying whether the accusation has any merit. Frank provided no documentary evidence. Ligonier has offered SOMETHING. The accusation should have properly been made by the offended party or someone directly connected to him if he was not able to offer it himself (due to infirmity). But how can anyone suggest that (without substantial, independent and documentary proof) Frank Vance was prudent to publically make this accusation without the express approval of Mr. Kistler?

The levels of conspiritorial mistrust (Did someone take Dr. Kistler's hand and make it type those words? Did LM compose this and tell him he better agree to it or else? Did Tim Dick go to Dr. Kistler's computer and type it himself in the middle of the night - while cackling and rubbing his hands together?) here would make me laugh out loud if I were not so sure that it reflects enmity in the heart and grieves the Lord.

By all means, if a person does not believe Ligonier Ministries is being a good steward of your donation - don't send them any more. And I trust that God will require a full account of their judgment and use of the gifts that folks have trusted them with. But on the other hand, the meat of all of these issues have been made into more of a public scandal than is necessary and/or than the available facts should permit - given what we know from Scripture about bringing accusations against other believers.

And if Frank Vance is not even using his own name - is it still fair to suggest he is being fully above-board and righteous in critiqueing Christian believers in good-standing? He is bearing false - or at the very least - incomplete witness about himself.

There are troubling issues on both sides of the divide in this scandal.

teacher said...

charitable: Try all you want, you cannot rationalize Ligoneirs behavior away. (And not just the lawsuit, either)

None of what you write really matters in the end. In the end, Ligoneir is a MINISTRY that TEACHES the WORD of GOD.

Their actions are more important than their words at this point.

They have lived off words...quite well, I may say.

Charitable Onlooker said...

Teacher:

I am not under any illusions that Ligonier Ministries has not made some dreadful mistakes and that individuals within the organization have sinned. But I don't desire to see their sin compounded by sins of their accusers.

If you note my comments here and on the next post, you will see that I have been a critic of many of the various things that Frank and Jen have noted - even through direct conversations with Ligonier managers. Long before Jen even posted about this issue.

But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about accusing brothers of wrong-doing. I don't want to see any good-intentioned (or otherwise) accusers crossing this line.

Finally, the Ninth Commandment has serious consequences about how we interact with fellow believers when we are accusing them of transgressions. Some of these stipulations include a willing readiness to hear and believe their defense, a desire for reconciliation and taking extreme measures to communicate mitigating circumstances and the whole truth - as opposed to filtering it through our particular bias.

One example about how this has not been done is the SDG/Kistler thing. I contend that Vance/Jen should retract their claim that LM defrauded Dr. Kistler until they are certain (by way of documented, primary evidence that is superior to what LM has offered) that their understanding of the situation is unimpeachably true.

My opinion on this detail is REQUIRED by a reformed understanding of the 9th commandment (see the Larger Catechism).

There are other details about Vance's and Jen's accusations (tone and method) that I also think need to be altered by appeal to the ethical and moral consequences of the 9th commandment as well.

I don't think my concerns can simply be pigeon-holed away by suggesting I am trying to justify LM's behavior in this situation. It is just that scripture warns us to disregard the messenger (though not to necessarily shoot them) who brings 'bad news' about a brother or sister, when they do so in improper fashion.

It is tough to do what Vance and Epstein are trying to do correctly. But if our hearts and motives are pure as we try to hold others accountable to the Lord - the extra work required to do it the Biblical way will be rewarded.

teacher said...

Charitable: It is just that scripture warns us to disregard the messenger (though not to necessarily shoot them) who brings 'bad news' about a brother or sister, when they do so in improper fashion.

Paul did not seem to do this in his letters. Have you noticed that in your reading? He even wrote letters for all to read detailing what he was told was going on in the churches.

I am not sure what you think is an improper fashion. From my reading of the events, the proper fashion was tried and ignored.

Unfortuantly for Ligoneir, suing only crystalized for many what we saw as arrogance and willful disobediance to the Word.

The entire Kistler episode has never been the defining moment for me. There were too many other factual events and information that showed me there was a serious spiritual problem there. Quite frankly, those other events and information only made the Kistler situation believable where it may not have been otherwise... had their lifestyle matched their teaching. I have never forgotten that Mr. Kistler is basically an employee of Ligoneir at this point.

I would suggest you save your warnings for poor Ryan Dick. The young man needs serious help. His eternal life is at stake.

Charitable Onlooker said...

I would suggest you save your warnings for poor Ryan Dick. The young man needs serious help. His eternal life is at stake.

No doubt.

On the other hand, if the rebuke of Ligonier is handled in too cavalier a fashion, think of what harm it does in the general reformed/evangelical community. How many people will associate RC Sproul with someone like Paul Crouch?

I am not suggesting that Jen or Frank are intending for that to happen, but people who don't follow the story as closely might skip some of the important details and convince themselves that Sproul and his organization are no different than all those other televangelists. What a loss that would be.

On the other hand, if Vance and Jen and other investigators appealed to a 'doctor of the faith' like Sinclair Ferguson or George Grant or something and asked them to be an intermediary and perform a 'spiritual audit' of affairs at Ligonier Ministries for the good of the donars and christendom - who knows how much cleaner and more profitably this entire dilemma might have been resolved? As it is, a fair amount of the baby is going to end out on the lawn with the bathwater.

I agree that the bastardized institutional structure of Ligonier Ministries - that is not ecclesiological accountable - complicates 'the right way'. But I sure wish that someone would have pursued it nonetheless.

Finally, through my personal knowledge of guys like John Duncan and other senior managers at Ligonier Ministries - they may be a little too politically pragmatic in approaching issues like this and trying to 'manage' the backdraft of this scandal. But John and other principals I know ARE very good intentioned and are genuinely trying to further the reformed outreach of Ligonier. I don't know much about Tim Dick beyond certain details of his life that people are overlooking (health issues that affect his performance and were pre-existing to the scandal) but I have no doubt in my mind that John and other senior managers are sincere, godly men who have unfortunately apparently exercised some very faulty judgment in this matter.

BTW - I have offered to provide my name and contact info to Jen so that she can find out who I am. I just don't want to publically put it up because it is not always a prudent thing to do. But my REAL name is Kenneth. I will continue to post as 'Charitable Onlooker' for expediency's sake.

Charitable Onlooker said...

The entire Kistler episode has never been the defining moment for me.

But that is the problem. You are holding Ligonier to a higher standard of communication than Frank and Jen. Frank should publically repent of a false accusation just as readily as Ligonier should repent of issuing what we all believe is a lawsuit against a believer, right?

Why don't Frank and Jen take the high road and show a good example to John Duncan and Ligonier by repenting for any 'appearance of evil' in their communications with Ligonier Ministries. If nothing else, it might encourage a reciprocating repentance. What a beautiful thing that would be.

Our goal should be for TRUTH and GRACE to abound. We should be presenting salt and light to the world. We should speak the truth in love. We should sanctify our hearts and speak edifying words that build one another up.

Even if Vance and Jen are right about many of these problems, they should be quick to forgive - or at the very least be patient and wait a little while - when Ligonier folks they are talking to offer explanations or evidence that some of their accusations are unfounded.

If John Duncan spoke to Jen for 2 hours or whatever - allow time for the conversation to sink in. EVEN IF his explanation was not ultimately satisfying. John might be pondering the questions Jen asked and the answers he gave and regret some of what he expressed. But if Jen immediately doubts and discounts John and all of his motives - what incentive does he have to speak at length and apparently transparently (at least from his point of view) in the future?

It will only make true repentance and reconciliation harder in the long run to perniciously bite the hand that is feeding us [information].

That is what Frank and Jen have done with every official correspondance from Ligonier (so far). They quibbled about Dr. Kistler's letter. They quibbled about the formal letters from 'senior management' and Tim Dick. Now after a lengthy interview, Jen is quibbling about John Duncan's answers and his operating assumption that a person with the level of invective that Frank Vance levied could be a believer.

If we are accusing such learned men as John Duncan and other principal managers of Ligonier Ministries of being Pharisees - or of pharisaeical behavior - than why should we be surprised that they considered their accuser of being a nonregenerate pharisee?

I don't think the pharisee label properly suits either Vance or Duncan. But both are guilty of looking past one another's explanations on technical grounds rather than hearing each other with grace.

Just look at what the summary of the 9th commandment of the Larger Catechism says and tell me that the accusers of Ligonier (or Ligonier) have met the criteria of scripture.

Wendi said...

AND I AM NOT AN EMPLOYEE AS SOME FELLOW COMMENTERS STRANGELY ASSUMED.

Wasn't that two commenters? And haven't they both already apologized and explained their mistake?

But isn't this situation turning out to be a little more complicated than some of us first thought?
If by complication you mean Ligonier has much bigger problems than I realized, yes.

If Frank Vance is not really a man named "Frank Vance" (i.e. he is a man named something else who is using that name as a pseudonym) does it make some of Ligonier's claims that they could not properly contact him a bit more credible?

No. Because we have already seen evidence that they could and did contact him- Tim Dick initiated the first contact with Frank in his emails, and he was rude from the very beginning.

Frank's first response was polite and civil. T.D. was blustering, incoherent, and frankly insulting from the beginning. Do I like Vance's later responses, his tone, if you will? No, not really, but there are two problems with this being the focus of any sort of complaint in this mess.

First of all, those who complain of his 'tone' usually do so as my children do when they point fingers and say, "He started it!" But Frank didn't fire the first shot of rudeness- Tim Dick did. So if we are going to excuse Ligonier based on the provocation of having their CEO called a nincompoop, a liar and a thief, then honesty must compel us to admit that this reasoning absolves Frank Vance, given Tim Dick's first contact which was rude, belittling, insulting, and quite idiotic, frankly.

The second problem is one I think is of primary importance and apparently you don't, but the fact remains that whatever Vance did, he did on his own and he had no audience to speak of (except Tim Dick himself). Ligonier is using *donor funds* to pursue unbiblical conduct.

. How do you actually/formally contact him?
A reporter figured it out. What couldn't Tim Dick?

Some of the other details do not add up either. Do you think that a part-time employee/seminary-wife/seminary student like Meaghan May is a knowing party to an organization-wide conspiracy?

I am not sure where this accusation comes from, I haven't seen anything said here that struck me that way. However, she has made some pretty heated accusations against others, and in her defense of Ligonier she actually provided some interesting information that brought up more questions, which she hasn't answered.

What I do see is that Ligonier may have a trickle down problem with the arrogance and a 'We are the Annointed and You're Not' attitude.


Do you think Ligonier is actually going to continue this lawsuit, standing in a civil court and requesting damages and relief, while publically claiming that they are not pursuing action through civil courts?

They lied, sir. They lied repeatedly. Why do you think they did that? I don't know. I can think of a few possible reasons, but I wouldn't insist on any of them as more likely than another. One problem Ligonier's defenders have is that they keep acting as though LIgonier is reasoning in a sensible, biblical, and reasonable fashion, in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
I haven't ignored the fact that Tim Dick's health is problematical- I do suspect this may have a lot to do with his incoherent and unreasonable behavior. I actually hope so, because the alternative is even worse for Ligonier. If this is the case, then he needs to be removed from his position immediately.
But it is folly to explain away foolish and sinful behavior on an assumption that it must not have been foolish or sinful after all.

Hopefully Ligonier's management recognized it for what it was - a pestilential response to a honest, dishonest or something-in-between accuser - and repent(ed) of it.

A response? You do realize that LIgonier sued Vance three days before he publicly accused Ligonier, right? So in what way is that a *response*?

And they didn't bother to notify him, either, so how is that, exactly, a *response*?

Perhaps the proper motions required to not continue the lawsuit are in a stack of paperwork somewhere in Seminole County and that Ligonier (as far as they know) are being honest by having directed their attorneys not to continue the action.

Perhaps you are slandering the court workers here. Have you called them to posit this theory and heard their response as to its plausibility? If not, why not? In order to believe this you have to ignore certain facts. The Seminole court folks who answer the phones have explained to repeatedly that all mail is time stamped the day it comes in and is
filed by the next day. The letter from Ligonier was sent out on the 22nd, but dated the 20th, and stated that the suit had already been withdrawn. But we now know that actually, the only court action Ligonier had taken was not to withdraw, but to speed up the suit.
Don't you find it difficult to reconcile your scenario with the fact that more than one Ligonier representative has answered questions about this by saying, "It's withdrawn when we determind that we won't go forward" or, " if we withdraw it tomorrow, will that satisfy you?" In other words, not by claiming that it got lost in the mail or in court paperwork. That looks like they are putting out feelers for a new and improved story since the previous version couldn't be supported by facts and it's not floating.

if Ligonier really did intend to continue to press forward with this lawsuit against "Frank Vance" do you think they would construct a false or forcibly compelled email from Don Kistler? Or a bunch of abject lies about not continuing the suit? How do you think those would look when they were entered into evidence?

I have no idea if they are 'that facile' or not. But the fact that they denied there was a lawsuit when there was surely looks like they may well be.
The fact that 'Senior Management' finally admitted that there was something, but not really, you know a lawsuit, just an injunction thing and that was totally different surely looks like they may well be. The conversation I personally had with somebody at Seminole Court looks like LIgonier's people might be that facile, or at least hope their donors are that vapid.
Tim Dick's emails all look that facile to me.


You see, all your questions are asking us to think as you do by thinking of Ligonier as the sort of organization that wouldn't sue a professing Christian and then deny it in the first place. John Duncan LIED to Jen about whether or not Frank had ever claimed to be a Christian. He made that up.

You're asking us to act as though LIgonier were the sort of organization that would not do the sorts of things we already KNOW for a fact they have done.

they are not idiots and they are not personally corrupt enough to press forward with something that is blatently dishonest and would be demonstrably so at a trial.

Maybe you don't know them as well as you thought. Maybe they are in the dark about Tim Dick's actions (why weren't their signatures or names attached to the email from 'Senior Management?').
Personally, I would not have believed that Sproul Sr would hire his son-in-law as a CEO and see his triple his salary in three or four short years while increasing his own salary by such an exhorbitant rate- but it happened, so apparently my belief was mistaken.
I would never have believed it if somebody had told me the sorts of things Ryan Dick said came from R.C. Sproul's grandson, but obviously, I was mistaken in my ideas about how Sproul children and grandchildren are brought up.


There has to be more to this issue.

Why? Because you want there to be? Because you thought you know some people it turns out you didn't know well after all? Because they changed and you didn't realize it?
I feel for you, I really do. We once had a sweet, family friendly, gentle but biblically minded, strong elder in our church. He was known this way for YEARS. He got sick, and he suffered a personality change, and he drew to his bosom the sort of person he would formerly have kept at arm's length while keeping at arm's length the sorts of people he would formerly have formed close attachments to. We watched in disbelief as he engaged in financial irregularities, began to Lord it over his flock, make false accusations against people. We kept on saying to each other "There has to be more to this issue," just like you. The problem is that when you try to apply reasonable thinking to unreasonable actions and situations, you kind of lose your bearings and it's a bit disorienting.
We finally had to accept that he wasn't the man he used to be, for whatever reason, and he moved on.

This wonderful man had served as a preacher in the same church for thirty years- and then in less than four years he served at two new churches and a church split followed in his wake each time. He's now living with one of his children where he can do less damage. He was able to do as much damage as he did, God forgive us, because we KNEW him and we KNEW that there had 'to be more to this issue,' and we knew it for each issue that came up, until so many people had been damaged and he was writing himself his own checks that we couldn't hide our heads in the sand anymore. We (our remaining church body) tried to warn the next church that he went to after ours, and they didn't like it. He had a wonderful reputation, and we were called gossips. Less than two years later the same previously angry people were coming to us in tears, apologizing for not listening, grieving over their split and wounded fellowship.
People change, and illness often does this. The senior mangement folks you know are now seeing their jobs threatened, the financial support for their company threatened, and we don't know how this affects their judgment, either.
The bottom line is that no, there doesn't *have* to be a better reason for this than the obvious one. We can hope and pray that there is, but there is at this point plenty of evidence to the contrary and no evidence supporting your hope.

As far as the Don Kistler thing - I still think it is amazing that we tend to take Frank Vance's side on this issue when none of us has any independent means of verifying whether the accusation has any merit.

Who is this 'we?' I've never taken a viewpoint on the Kistler issue. I still don't have an opinion on that issue. Ligonier brought me on board when it sued. The lawsuit is a verifiable, undeniable, objective fact, and that is my first issue. The lies about it, the revelations about Ryan Dick and LIgonier's finances, these also concern me, and these are also issues that are confirmed facts. Knowledge about them stemmed from the lawsuit itself.

Had Ligonier not sued, I would have been ignorant about this whole thing. The fact that they did sue to shut Vance up and they lied about it makes me wonder if there's not something there they wanted kept quiet, but that is the strongest opinion I have about it- I wonder something that I never would have wondered about if not for Ligonier's unbiblical actions.

And if Vance hadn't brought it up, I also wonder if we would have known about the financial issues, the litagation prone climate, the pagan views of Ryan, etc.

Frank provided no documentary evidence. Ligonier has offered SOMETHING.

Does it matter at all to you that they offered that something as a three part package, of which two parts are known to hold lies, and one part is unsigned?
You object to Frank Vance's alleged anonymity, although he has never said that isn't his name, and Ligonier and Douglas Wilson have made this accusation without the witnesses or proof you demand from Vance. Isn't that a double standard? Where is your documentary evidence?

I don't know if it's his name or not, btw. I don't much care. But you seem to have accepted Ligonier's accusations without any evidence, while demanding that Vance provide all the evidence he will need to defend himself in court.

And has it occured to you that by suing Vance and NOT withdrawing the suit, they have made it actually impossible for Vance to present the evidence? That will be his defense in court, and it's a bad, bad idea to reveal your defense before going to court when you've been sued. Perhaps they're being crazy like a fox after all. Here's a staggering thought- *Is it possible that they sued him and will not ever withdraw the suit because this way, they enforce his silence on the evidence and witnesses he said he has?*

But how can anyone suggest that (without substantial, independent and documentary proof) Frank Vance was prudent to publically make this accusation without the express approval of Mr. Kistler?
I haven't said this. Plenty of others haven't said anything about it. Others who still hold Ligonier more accountable (to whom much has been given much will be required) have said that they don't think it was wise.
But I will point out again, that Ligonier sued BEFORE Vance publically made this accusation. Vance told them he was going to make it and present his evidence, and they sued him, effectively stopping him from presenting that evidence.

The levels of conspiritorial mistrust (Did someone take Dr. Kistler's hand and make it type those words? Did LM compose this and tell him he better agree to it or else? Did Tim Dick go to Dr. Kistler's computer and type it himself in the middle of the night - while cackling and rubbing his hands together?) here would make me laugh out loud if I were not so sure that it reflects enmity in the heart and grieves the Lord.

I think then it must also grieve the Lord to see you deal so unjustly with the viewpoints presented here. What you have done is built up ridiculous strawmen that nobody has remotely suggested. Can you really ignore the possibility that since Ligonier pays Kistler's salary he may not be a free agent? Such pressure needn't even be overt- the situation itself is inherently one of power even if LIgonier is guiltless of wielding it. That's not an accusation, it's a reality which the law recognizes, by the way. My husband is evangelistic about sharing his faith on the job. When he was one of the employees, this was not a problem. Once he became management, he's had to be much more restrained, which frustrates him, but he understands that even though he assures his employees that he won't hold it against them if they are uninterested or ask him to stop talking about Christianity to them, the fact that he has the power of hiring and firing and docking pay creates an inherently unbalanced power structure. That's about the most I've seen anybody saying about the letter- aside from the fact that
Vance has said that he is waiting to hear personally from Kistler that he indeed authored that email and agrees with its sentiments. I don't think that's unreasonable, since, again, that email was part of a package of three emails, two of which are discredited documents (they contain falsehoods and one is unsigned).

But on the other hand, the meat of all of these issues have been made into more of a public scandal than is necessary and/or than the available facts should permit - given what we know from Scripture about bringing accusations against other believers.

If this is true, it is the direct result of Ligonier bringing suit against Vance.
And again, Ligonier has brought several accusations against Frank Vance- all without the standard of proof or biblical steps you accuse Vance and others of lacking, yet you keep bringing them up as though they have some foundation:

And if Frank Vance is not even using his own name - is it still fair to suggest he is being fully above-board and righteous in critiqueing Christian believers in good-standing? He is bearing false - or at the very least - incomplete witness about himself.

I disagree, and I disagree that it is just at this point to accept Ligonier or Wilson's undocumented accusation that this is not his name. Furthermore, if his charges are true, I don't care if he is Donald Duck.
That would not make his charges false, nor would it mean I should ignore those charges if they prove to be true. Suing a fellow believer in court is strictly forbidden in scripture. There's nothing there about using a pseudonym. Wasn't it Tamar, after all, who met with her father-in-law under false colors, so to speak, in order to accuse him, rightly, of ignoring his resonsibilities, and wasn't he the one who admitted wrong doing?


There are troubling issues on both sides of the divide in this scandal.

Maybe. I find this moral equivilancy whereby you equate blatant lying, suing a believer, and misuse of donor funds with using a pseudonym and being over the top in invective one I cannot share.
We have here a situation where one side is pursuing an unbiblical course of action using donor funds, operating as a 501C3 corporation (a public, parachurch corporation), and while holding a very public face to the world- and then there's the heartbreaking attitude and behavior of Ryan Dick, all while being paid from donor funds.
Frank Vance and his charges came into the limelight because Ligonier brought them before the court and thus made them a matter of public record. If every accusation Vance made was a lie, it wouldn't change the fact that LIgonier has continued to be dishonest and arrogant in its dealings with donors, and is even now asking for more of our money- and operates under law as a not for profit, charitable, and Christian ministry, and I have a much bigger problem with that than with somebody I never heard of telling lies (IF he has). Both sides will answer to God for that. But only one side must also answer to its donors.

And by the way, Wendi is my real name.

Wendi said...

If we are accusing such learned men as John Duncan and other principal managers of Ligonier Ministries of being Pharisees...

Surely you are not saying that because they are learned they cannot be Pharisees.

But if that's not what you are saying, why drag in the adjective at all?

The Pharisees were very learned men, so I don't think being learned is incompatible with being a Pharisee.

Teacher said...

Charitable wrote: On the other hand, if the rebuke of Ligonier is handled in too cavalier a fashion, think of what harm it does in the general reformed/evangelical community. How many people will associate RC Sproul with someone like Paul Crouch?>>

If the shoe fits. His legacy, of his own choosing, will be that his organization filed an unbiblical lawsuit. Tell me, how come Sr. did not sign the 'statement'? Why is he not standing tall? Please do not tell me he is not involved.

Charitable, are you talking about the God of Abraham here? Surely not. The Sovereign, all Powerful Jehovah? Obviously not. You speak of harm to the reformed/evangelical community. I get the feeling from this statement you are a bit embarrassed about all of this personally. I can certainly understand this. I saw something very similar in my life with a scandal by men I had thought were men of God. I was wrong and had to face that I had placed them on a pedestal. Follow Christ, not men.

You speak of the possible harm a rebuke Ligonier can do to the reformed/evangelical community? I am finding this statement incredible and quite frankly, very shallow biblically. How is it that Ligoneir, who exposits scripture as part of their ministry, do not know how to apply it? They have brought the harm on themselves. Perhaps it is best that people not heed their teachings. Do you think it is proper to teach scripture to people and then live totally different? What message does that send?

Did it ever occur to you this is happening to Glorify God? Think about it. NO ONE would have ever even thought to look into Ligoneir finances, nepotism, etc., if they had not brought this lawsuit against Vance BEFORE he even mentioned Kistler on his site!! The absolute arrogance of this is staggering. (I think they thought they could bring his blog down before the information came out. They miscalculated and it did not work.)

What would happen if they really repented publically? Fell on thier faces in shame. Gave up the big salaries, brought Ryan under discipline, aplogized to their employees, got rid of the mansions on the golf course, cleaned up their operation, came under strict accountability and went to Frank on their knees begging forgiveness? What would happen? It would be the most Glorifying witness to Christ that ever was. It would shake the rafters of Chrisendom. Sproul Sr. would be living what he has taught. He would be standing tall in the Word.

Instead, they are trying to destroy Frank.

Teacher said...

Charitable wrote: if Vance and Jen and other investigators appealed to a 'doctor of the faith' like Sinclair Ferguson or George Grant or something and asked them to be an intermediary and perform a 'spiritual audit' of affairs at Ligonier Ministries for the good of the donars and christendom ->>

Don't you think this is something Ligonier has to pursue and submit to? Why is it someone elses responsiblity?

I am starting to feel sorry for you and I mean that in the most sincere way. It is hard defending Ligoneir.

Teacher said...

Charitable wrote: Finally, through my personal knowledge of guys like John Duncan and other senior managers at Ligonier Ministries - they may be a little too politically pragmatic in approaching issues like this and trying to 'manage' the backdraft of this scandal.>>>

It is called sin. Not, politically pragmatic.

>> But John and other principals I know ARE very good intentioned and are genuinely trying to further the reformed outreach of Ligonier.>>

Good intentions? Our hearts are deceitful! Which is why we have the Word to live by. I think I see where you are coming from...you want 'reformed teaching' spread. At the cost of real truth?

By the way, John may be good intentioned or he may just be very well paid at 180,000 yr. Jobs at that salary are not easy to come by.

Maggie said...

I had asked some questions of Meghan May on Frank's blog, which were never answered. Yesterday a "semper ref" argued with me about her comments. I went back and looked at her blog, and noticed some things I had not read before. So I did a cache search, and sure enough after I questioned her, she changed her blog. (for the record, she never answered my questions)

I'd like to know why it was changed, and if she was instructed to change it?

Here is the first entry from 9-22 which I am assuming is the same version I read on 9-25:


This is G o o g l e's cache of http://meaghanmay.blogspot.com/ as retrieved on Sep 22, 2006 23:01:21 GMT.
G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web.
The page may have changed since that time. Click here for the current page without highlighting.
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These search terms have been highlighted: tolle legge

First entry 9-22:
Monday, September 04, 2006
Conferences
This has been a very relaxed week. I don't really know what to do with the fact that Labor Day weekend has now (basically) come and gone, and now I must take responsibility for my new classes, and the pending roar of the final year (Lord willing) at RTS-Orlando (not to mention Ligonier). The dread is beginning to set in as I realize all that I must accomplish.

I also feel my stomach tighten as I begin to think about where the Lord may lead us when we leave. There is something beautiful, and yet foreboding (is that a word) about the unknown. It is sort of like the beginning of a new Dave Matthew's song (haven't heard one in a long time) that you have no idea how it will play out.

I have work for a few hours tomorrow, head to a couple of classes, and then wake up at 4 am so that Paul can drive me to the airport for my conference in Anaheim. I am glad that I am basically packed, but worry about the classes (and husband) that I leave behind... It should be fun, right? I think I may have done this too many times, because the novelty of traveling is beginning to wear off. I return on Sunday only to start all over again (only heading to Houston the following Wednesday). The good news is that I will get to see some of my favorite contacts from work... and all of the other luxuries that travel affords now.

I feel like traveling these days really tests ones Boy Scout or Girl Scout affiliation...how can you survive without any sort of liquid artifact for eight hours? Between these random tropical storms and airport security, I should be up for a new merit badge by now... Maybe Paul and I have been watching too many episodes of 24 on DVD?

As you can tell by my rambling, I don't have too much to talk about. I hope that it stays that way for awhile. Oh, we did host our first small group of the new school year this last Friday, and we were so pleased that some new students joined us. We are reading Eugene Peterson's latest release Eat This Book. Should be fun. Plus my aunt, cousin, and her sweet twin daughters were in town so we had a nice poolside, Florida visit. Sounds like the rest of the O'Sullivan clan had a busy weekend, celebrating the birthday of one of the most notorious partiers, and rushing our favorite Irish lass, Colleen, to the ER. I praise the Lord for all of the nurses in the family and send you my love.

Here is the version on her blog today:

Monday, September 04, 2006
Conferences
This has been a very relaxed week. I don't really know what to do with the fact that Labor Day weekend has now (basically) come and gone, and now I must take responsibility for my new classes, and the pending roar of the final year (Lord willing) at RTS-Orlando. The Lord has used the last three years here to shape me in ways that I never imagined, but I know that I will come out of this more humbled (suprising after seminary I know) and dependent upon Him than ever before. The dread is beginning to set in as I realize all that must be accomplished.

I also feel my stomach tighten as I begin to think about where the Lord may lead us when we leave. There is something beautiful, and yet foreboding (is that a word) about the unknown. It is sort of like the beginning of a new Dave Matthew's song (haven't heard one in a long time) that you have no idea how it will play out.

I have work for a few hours tomorrow, head to a couple of classes, and then wake up at 4 am so that Paul can drive me to the airport for my conference in Anaheim. I am glad that I am basically packed, but worry about the classes (and husband) that I leave behind... It should be fun, right? I think I may have done this too many times, because the novelty of traveling is beginning to wear off. I dread the liquid inspection and have become a home-body of sorts. I know I will miss fellowship with our small groups and other students too. I return on Sunday only to start all over again (only heading to Houston the following Wednesday). The good news is that I will get to see some of my favorite contacts from work... and experience all of the other "luxuries" that travel affords now (see next paragraph).

I feel like traveling these days really tests ones Boy Scout or Girl Scout affiliation...how can you survive without any sort of liquid artifact for eight hours? Between these random tropical storms and airport security, I should be up for a new merit badge by now... Maybe Paul and I have been watching too many episodes of 24 on DVD?

As you can tell by my rambling, I don't have too much to talk about. I hope that it stays that way for awhile. Oh, we did host our first small group of the new school year this last Friday, and we were so pleased that some new students joined us. We are reading Eugene Peterson's latest release Eat This Book. Should be fun. Plus my aunt, cousin, and her sweet twin daughters were in town so we had a nice poolside, Florida visit. Sounds like the rest of the O'Sullivan clan had a busy weekend, celebrating the birthday of one of the most notorious "partiers," and rushing our favorite Irish lass, Colleen, to the ER. I praise the Lord for all of the nurses in the family and send you my love.

http://meaghanmay.blogspot.com/2006/09/conferences.html

Maggie said...

Meaghan May's blog re-written part 2:

This is G o o g l e's cache of http://meaghanmay.blogspot.com/ as retrieved on Sep 22, 2006 23:01:21 GMT.
G o o g l e's cache is the snapshot that we took of the page as we crawled the web.
The page may have changed since that time. Click here for the current page without highlighting.
This cached page may reference images which are no longer available. Click here for the cached text only.
To link to or bookmark this page, use the following url: http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:4vqTU_MtAUIJ:meaghanmay.blogspot.com/+tolle+legge&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=3&ie=UTF-8


Google is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content.
These search terms have been highlighted: tolle legge


First entry 9-22

Monday, September 11, 2006
California, California...here we come!
Actually, the conference is over, so I am back home. I can't believe that I will leave for Houston on Wednesday. Dr. Duncan and Dr. Sproul both blessed me with their messages. I always love the Q & A. We had a great group (or "team") out there with us too.

While gearing up for the conference we found some R & R on the Pacific Coast Highway. I saw a beautiful sunset on the drive (thanks to Karisa for pulling over). We visited Laguna Beach, Malibu, and Newport Beach. We didn't see any stars, but we went to their favorite Starbucks.

We also visited Warner Brother's Studio, where we saw part of the set for Oceans Thirteen, Brad Pitt's motorcycle (he was in his trailer), Stars Hollow (I can't believe it--that was by far the sweetest surprise), the Friends' Studio (and some of their costumes, a recliner, the fooseball table, wedding vows), OC costumes, the Invasion set, the place where the SpiderMan kiss was filmed, the WonderWoman costumer, the General Lee, the new Bat Mobile, and various Harry Potter artifacts. I wore the "sorting hat," which put me in Hufflepuff.The original costumes for the ball in the previous movie were even more amazing in person, although I was amazed at the waist size of every single actress. We even saw Julia Louis-Dreyfus filming an episode of her new show (the New Adventures of Old Christine) in the Stars Hollow town square.

Later we visited Mann's Chinese Theater (home of the star handprints) and the Walk of Fame. We saw the Kodak Theater and the "Hollywood" sign as well. California was a nice reprieve from the Orlando humidity, although L.A. makes Orlando traffic look like a small town.

Today's entry:

http://meaghanmay.blogspot.com/2006/09/california-californiahere-we-come.html
Monday, September 11, 2006
California, California...here we come!
Actually, the conference is over, so I am back home. I can't believe that I will leave for Houston on Wednesday. Dr. Duncan and Dr. Sproul both blessed me with their messages. I always love the Q & A sessions. I'd say more about the conference, but when I spend most of the day on the floor, mingling with attendees and answering questions, I hardly catch my breath. I did get a few moments to listen to the speakers, and in that small amount of time I was blessed. I mostly anticipate the conferences because of the face-to-face interaction that I have with my brothers and sisters who are attending. I am always encouraged. We had a great group (or "team") out there with us too. I did get a chance to break away on our day before the conference with some friends (and spend my own money).

While gearing up for the conference we found some R & R on the Pacific Coast Highway. I had not been to California since I went with my family, so an evening drive away from the city was great. It even helped me see where those attending were from. I saw a beautiful sunset on the drive (thanks to Karisa for pulling over), which in itself was reason enough to praise the Lord for his creation. We drove through Laguna Beach, Malibu, and Newport Beach. We didn't see any "stars", but we went to their favorite Starbucks...in case you were wondering.

We also visited Warner Brother's Studio. It was a brief outing, but very educational, and a great way to get to know the "team" better. We saw part of the set for Oceans Thirteen, Brad Pitt's motorcycle (he was in his trailer), Stars Hollow (I can't believe it--that was by far the sweetest surprise), the Friends' Studio (and some of their costumes, a recliner, the fooseball table, wedding vows), OC costumes, the Invasion set, the place where the SpiderMan kiss was filmed, the WonderWoman costumer, the General Lee, the new Bat Mobile, and various Harry Potter artifacts. I wore the "sorting hat," which put me in Hufflepuff.The original costumes for the ball in the previous movie were even more amazing in person, although I was amazed at the waist size of every single actress. We even saw Julia Louis-Dreyfus filming an episode of her new show (the New Adventures of Old Christine) in the Stars Hollow town square.

Later we visited Mann's Chinese Theater (home of the star handprints) and the Walk of Fame. We saw the Kodak Theater and the "Hollywood" sign as well. California was a nice reprieve from the Orlando humidity, although L.A. makes Orlando traffic look like a small town.

Maggie said...

Here is a link to the post that holds the questions I'd asked of Meaghan, if you'd like the background.

http://vancetribe.blogspot.com/2006/09/ligonier-ministries-employees.html

Jen said...

Outstanding job, Maggie! We had the idea as soon as she took it down, but Google didn't cache it. I don't how you did it, but it's an important piece of the story.

Maggie said...

Jen,

I did a google search of "Tolle Legge" and then chose the cache option when google found her blog.

I wish there was a better way to post it, highlighting the changes, and copying the cache parts the way they actually look---I don't know how often google does a "cache" and it might be something worth saving, if any of this ever really does go to court. It's just another example of things not being quite what is said.

This is really bothering me. All the apparnet lies, and cover-ups, and spin.

Why didn't she just answer my questions? Why did she change her blog? Was she instructed to? Was she asked to? Why the apparent lack of integrity here? I am getting to a point where nothing said is believable.

Quite frankly, if donor funds pay for her vacation is not even that big of a deal in light of everything else they pay for.


This Ligonier mess has to be one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed...

Jen said...

Yes, that's what we did, too, Maggie, but we've learned that if you don't get it at just the right time, the cache won't catch it. You must have just caught it right!

Why didn't she answer your questions? By this point in the game, the answer should be obvious!

Wendi said...

Nice job, Maggie. Thanks.
I also posted some questions and concerns to a blog post Meaghan published that was highly critical of those who were concerned about Ligonier. She never published my comments, of course, and when I went back later the entire post was removed.

Auffie said...

Jen, Wendi, Maggie: I suggest that we be gentler and more charitable to Meaghan and not put forth theories about why she changed her posts. People change blog posts all the time, and perhaps she just rewrote them because her original words were construed as Ligonier's supporting boondoggles for employees -- which may not be the case -- only because of the recent scandal. Perhaps she is unresponsive only because of the turmoil the scandal has caused. Do not let our indignation at Ligonier spill over unjustly -- she may not have thought through and analyzed the events, and simply accepted what "management" told her.

I pray that there may be no lingering bitterness between her and people on this blog.

Jen said...

Auffie, thanks for reminding us to behave like Christians. To be fair, however, I don't believe I have said anything about Meaghan on my blog.

However, Meaghan is very young, probably loves the Lord a lot, from my conversation with her, and is torn between loyal to her employer and wanting to do what is right. She did strike me as being greatly concerned about this situation, from the tone in her voice, but she is extremely naive, as was I at her age.

I am sure that John Duncan put a gag order on her and other front line workers at Ligonier, which is why she can't respond here. She reacted to my article about her, although it probably would have been more prudent for her to remain anonymous. In reality, all she did was validate this post. In hindsight, I'm sure she learned a lot from writing about this without permission.

She needs the job, so that's a hard position to be in. Let's pray she's just holding out for true repentance on Ligonier's part.

Teacher said...

Actually, this bothered me more than anything:

" Oh, we did host our first small group of the new school year this last Friday, and we were so pleased that some new students joined us. We are reading Eugene Peterson's latest release Eat This Book. Should be fun."

Yikes. A group of young people reading Eugene Peterson's book together? This is what amazes me most...someone under the supposed teaching of Sproul reading Peterson and taking it seriously? If she is also using the Message Bible, her posts make more sense.

always batya said...

Meg wrote: We also visited Warner Brother's Studio. It was a brief outing, but very educational, and a great way to get to know the "team" better".

The changed blog added these 'team' entries. Sightseeing on business trips is NOT a team building activity. It is a perk.

My former mega tried to pass this sort of thing off, too. Team building was passed off as a group of managers going to the spa for the day (weekday) and having the church pay for it. Or, going to a B&B for a few days to 'team build'. Yes, I know corporations do it and they can answer to their stockholders. Donor and tithe financed organizations have no business doing the same thing.

I have no problem with them visiting sights....just don't pass it off as team building and don't use donor funds to pay for it.

I would pay OUT OF MY OWN pocket to take my staff places or even to lunch. And, I spent quite a bit of money doing this sort of thing, too. It never occured to me to make it a 'team building' expense.

Wendi said...

Auffie, I do not think I have been uncharitable. I haven't speculated about why she changed her post, I have pointed out that she did and I have asked why. I disagree with her and I think she reasoned poorly and passed on bad information (in good faith, but it was still information she must now know is bad). Disagreeing with somebody is not uncharitable.

However, I disagree that ethical bloggers alter posts significantly without noting that they have done so. I have always viewed such quiet revisionism as less than above board and honest.

Finally, I would point out that Meaghan initiated contact by posting here and elsewhere, posting heated (and unfounded) accusations against Jen and others, and making claims in Ligonier's defense that have since proven false. I am being charitable by giving her a reasonable benefit of the doubt in supposing that she believed they were true at the time- but since she now knows they were false (Ligonier did not withdraw its suit, and Vance has good reason to withhold judgment on the Kistler email), I think it would be honorable to apologize and admit that she spoke out of turn. I understand her job may be on the line so she cannot do that publicly, and I am sorry for her, but feeling this sympathy does not hinder me from noting that she was most uncharitable in her aspersions against Jen, and that she was very hasty to accuse, but not very careful in ascertaining the facts before she accused.

ET said...

Vance should accept some of the blame in this whole thing. And if he doesn't think he caused some of the problem, he should become the more humble one and seek reconciliation for the Glory of God and out of respect for the church.