Oct 30, 2006

Loving Ligonier

Exposing evil deeds is never an easy decision to make. Sometimes love covers a multitude of sins. Sometimes Matthew 18 is necessary and we follow all 3 steps diligently. Sometimes public exposure is necessary. In all these, and any other biblical confrontation of sin, love must be paramount. I tend to live my life by what the Bible says, so I was interested to know when public exposure was appropriate.

One day in Antioch, Paul saw a bunch of Jews, including Peter and Barnabas, being outright hypocrites, eating with Gentiles as God had previously told Peter, but when certain Jews came to town, Peter and Barnabas and crew would conveniently not know those Gentiles! Paul was none too happy, and if the story were written today, it might say that Paul first went to Peter and Barnabas and their buddies privately, in the spirit of Matthew 18, giving them a chance to repent in private. But that’s not what Paul did. Peter’s sin was a public sin, and it affected many people, so Paul said to Peter, before everybody, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” He went on to preach a sermon to Peter about justification by faith alone, essentially not even giving Peter a chance to repent first! We live in such a touchy-feely society today that most people would not see this a loving rebuke, but sometimes Christian love demands this.

Paul listed a whole bunch of names in his second letter to Timothy that became a document of public rebuke for all the world to see for the next 2000 years. He denounces Demas for forsaking Paul for the world, and Crescens and Titus also left him in the lurch. At first glance, this may not seem to warrant public exposure, but since these men apparently accompanied Paul on at least some of his journeys, they must have been at least as public as a CEO or senior manager of a big Reformed ministry might be. He also warns Timothy against Alexander the coppersmith and even asked the Lord to repay him (a curse, really).

John wrote in his third letter to Gaius about all the sins of Diotrephes, apparently an elder or in some office in the church, saying that he would take care of it when got there. These were not private letters, as we know because we are still reading them, and they were not private sins, so John felt the need to expose them publicly as well.

Public exposure is not always necessary, but the more public the sinner, and the more public the sin, the more public exposure may be necessary. Ligonier Ministries, and Tim Dick in particular, were given a chance to come clean before Frank Vance began to expose them. Rather than responding with even a “yes” or “no” answer, Tim Dick, on behalf of Ligonier, decided to try to get a judge to put a gag order on Frank so that Frank couldn’t tell the truth about Ligonier. This now made Ligonier’s sins very public and, hence, the need for very public exposure.

Some have questioned my personal involvement in this situation, and I will not go into detail about that, but I want to make it clear that my motivation is rooted in love – a deep love for the ministry that helped ground me in Reformed theology; that taught me deep spiritual truths from God’s Word; and a ministry that seemed to take a firm stand on issues that relate to daily life, not in the extreme as some teach, but built upon a strong biblical foundation. It has been, and still is, my sincere desire to see Ligonier Ministries profess the holiness of God not in their excellent teachings, but also in their daily walk. My first post was about their divorcing their orthodoxy from their orthopraxy. I hope I have continued to stand on that premise and still pray for repentance toward a united doxy and praxy.

Why is John Duncan being made public when this seemed to be about Tim Dick at first? First, John made himself public when he wrote a statement from “Senior Management” about this whole situation; “Senior Management” is John Duncan, in case some weren’t sure about that. Second, John Duncan is first in line to take Tim Dick’s place, should Tim ever do the right thing and resign, or be let go. Since part of calling Ligonier to repentance involved asking Tim to resign, John suddenly became a very public part of the picture. Third, John is responsible for the lies which we all now know came from Ligonier in many forms – through the front office staffers or the written statements hidden on Ligonier’s website. Also, since Tim Dick is not able to work full-time due to health issues, John Duncan seems to mostly run Ligonier anyway, making him a very public figure.

I mentioned earlier that I had a long phone conversation with John Duncan. It was a very good conversation as far as being kind on both sides. John was well aware that I would consider posting anything he said; his only request was that I not rehash the whole conversation. I did not see any reason to write about most of our conversation, although I well could have, but there were a few things that really concerned me that I thought important to the public. I was not rash in publishing even those, waiting a full ten days to post about his wanting me to be disciplined for expositing Scripture. I did speak to him about this on the phone first, but he held to his position. If this is what he really thinks, why does Ligonier have a hypocrite as “Senior Management?” Surely they have had women exposit Scripture at Ligonier conferences before.

I also had a lengthy email conversation with Tim Dick, about 40 exchanges in all, of which he asked me not to post anything. Although it could have shed more light on Frank Vance’s accusations, I chose to honor Tim’s request for privacy.

Ecclesiastes has a very interesting list of times, of which we are all so familiar. Some that may apply to this situation are:

A time to break down,
And a time to build up;

A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak.

This was a time to break down, a time to gather stones, a time to tear, a time to speak. I pray that it was all done in love, all done for the ultimate glory of God, and that repentance will be soon forthcoming. I do not know why God chose me for this task, but I remain his obedient servant ~ loving Ligonier.

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