Disclaimer on R.C. Sproul, Jr.
The Kershaws Become Saint Peter Presbyterian Church Members but Must Later Leave:
Post 12-10-05: Joining Saint Peter Presbyterian Church
Update 1-10-06: More Details
R.C. Sproul, Jr. Defrocked:
Update 2-1-06: Addressing Inferences and Innuendos
Update 2-10-06: Open Letter by Peter Kershaw
Update 3-02-06: Laurence Windham Fund Raising Letter
Update 3-27-06: R.C. Sproul, Jr. "Deposed Without Censure." Oh, Really?
Update 4-04-06: RPCGA Moderator on "Deposition Is Censure"
Update 4-05-06: The R.C. Sproul, Jr. "Paedo-Communion Controversy"
Update 3-15-06: CREC Convenes Saint Peter Presbyterian Church Commission
Update 5-22-06: CREC Releases Saint Peter Presbyterian Church Commission Report
Update 5-25-06: Response to CREC Commission Member Dennis Tuuri's blog post
Joining and Subsequently Leaving St. Peter Presbyterian Church
In order to prevent the possibility of "guilt by association," I was recently asked by the RPCGA to consider removing any articles on the Heal Our Land Ministries web site by R.C. Sproul Jr. (R.C.'s current standing in the RPCGA is tenuous, at best). However, R.C. Sproul Jr.'s articles (which he gave me permission to post here) do have merit.
I'm not one to "throw the baby out with the bath water." Nevertheless, a caveat emptor is much in order, so here it is:
The appearance on this web site of any articles by R.C. Sproul Jr. does not constitute a tacit endorsement of R.C. Sproul Jr., St. Peter Presbyterian Church, or the Highlands Study Center by Heal Our Land Ministries or Peter Kershaw.
A Few More Details
I've had a number of people ask me to provide additional details regarding our departure from St. Peter Presbyterian Church. See:
"Kissing The Beast"
After years of equating church and ministry incorporation and 501c3 status with "kissing the beast" R.C. Sproul Jr has incorporated and sought IRS 501c3 status for the Highlands Study Center, a ministry of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church. See:
R.C. Sproul Jr is Defrocked
"Rest assured, if I start teaching heresy, they won't hesitate to bring to bear the grace of church discipline."
Changes, by R.C. Sproul Jr, Every Thought Captive (Jan/Feb 2001)
It turns out that R.C. Sproul Jr's predictions five years ago about the RPCGA have proven remarkably accurate. The Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA has "brought to bear the grace of church discipline."
On January 26, 2006, my former Pastors at Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, R.C. Sproul Jr, Laurence Windham, Wayne Hays, and Jay Barfield were deposed by Declaratory Judgment from their office of Elders by the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Assembly. They have been remanded to general membership in the RPCGA where they await trial on additional charges.
The decision to depose was not the Moderator's to make. Rather, the decision to depose was made by the collective will of Presbytery -- by a super-majority of the voting members (in point of fact the decision was unanimous), who then delegated the responsibility to depose by preparing a Declaratory Judgment to the Moderator.
The Declaratory Judgment is a public document. It is available to anyone upon request to the Moderator of Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA, Dr. Kenneth Talbot. However, the RPCGA is a small denomination and Dr. Talbot is heavily occupied with his numerous other duties, including preparing for the upcoming trial. I discussed the matter with him and he agreed that it would be helpful to Westminster Presbytery if I posted the Declaratory Judgment here.
Westminister Presbytery considers this a public matter, and they would rather people have the opportunity to review an original copy of the Declaratory Judgment for themselves, rather than read second-hand repostings, along with gossip and speculation about it on weblogs (indeed, there's been a great deal of that already).
Given that one of the significant factors in Westminster Presbytery's judgment was the St. Peter Session's tyrannical "discipline" of the John Austin family, it is now appropriate to disclose those documents publicly that were prior only made available to St. Peter members and the Presbytery. As with the Declaratory Judgment, Presbytery considers "the Austin letters" to now be a public matter:
Another significant factor in the deposing of the St. Peter Presbyterian Church session, and R.C. Sproul Jr in particular, is that he did knowingly abscond with and use for banking and merchant credit card purposes the Tax Identification Number (TIN) of another church denomination, thereby committing tax fraud and identity theft. This too is now considered a matter of public record:
In spite of the fact that we feel vindicated, this is not a time of rejoicing, but of much sorrow. We are grieved that these men, as our brothers in Christ, were called many times to repentance, both by myself, by other former members of St. Peter, by members of their Presbytery, and even by some of their own closest friends. They were warned of the consequences of unrepentance, yet they did not heed the warnings. The inevitable consequence of such unpastoral behavior is that they cannot be permitted to pastor or serve in any capacity as Elders. They may not pastor, administer the sacraments, preach, or serve in any other capacity at St. Peter Presbyterian Church, or any other church. If they attempt to do so they will be in open rebellion (contumacy) to the government of the denomination that they swore an oath to obey. Nevertheless, as of this date they are still referring to themselves as the Elders of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church.
They continue to be warned that even more serious consequences likely await them at trial, should they be found guilty of the additional charges they are now facing. If they are found guilty, and should they continue in their present course of unrepentance, they would, in all likelihood, be excommunicated. Furthermore, the findings and judgment of the court, along with any evidence used to reach judgment will, like Presbytery's Declaratory Judgment, become a matter of public record.
If R.C. had indeed been "beating his breast" in repentance he never would have forced his Presbytery into the position where they had no choice but to defrock him. The same applies to Laurence, Wayne and Jay. But it's not too late. RC, Laurence, Wayne, Jay, "you are being stupid." I pray for your sakes that you do "figure out" the "application part of" your stupidity, and that you figure it out real soon. You can still repent. "There is nothing more manly than repenting." (Basement Tapes, Men Without Chests). Repenting would be the most manly and the most pastoral thing you could do. But you haven't got much time. If you repent you just might be able to avoid going to trial.
The Declaratory Judgment speaks volumes. However it only addresses those matters that the Saint Peter Presbyterian Church Session has admitted (though not necessarily repented of). There are numerous other allegations, many of which are quite serious, that have been made against R.C. Sproul Jr and his fellow former-Elders, which they have largely ignored and not responded to. Thus, they force the Presbytery to put them on trial.
Please do not interpret my posting of these documents as a form of gloating, for I do not gloat but, rather, I mourn. I have experienced much the same kind of sorrow as the death of a beloved family member, and it will take some time before our lives are back to normal again. We thank those of you who have been diligent in praying for the Kershaws, the Austin family, the Saenz family, the Wintons, the Fontinots, the Burtons, the Bransons, Dennis Cochran, and all the other former Saint Peter members who have been injured and deeply hurt in the past eight years by the St. Peter Presbyterian Church Session.
Pray especially now for all the Saint Peter families in Bristol, Abingdon and Mendota. We know from personal experience how disillusioned many of them must feel right now. Their hopes for their church have just blown up in their faces. We saw early on what most of them never figured out until it was too late. Many of them still haven't figured it out. Pray that God gives them wisdom and discernment. Pray that He comforts them. Pray that godly men from among them, men with strong leadership skills, will rise up in their midst to take charge and exercise godly compassionate care for His people, while they seek out new shepherds.
For those who now feel led to leave and seek membership in other local churches (and no doubt there are some of those too), pray that they will no longer be afraid to do so. In spite of the Session's threats and intimidation against members who wished to leave, and their Mafia view of church membership, St. Peter members were always free to leave. Now that there is no Session, there's a clear path to the exit door, if that's what anyone wants. However, my sincerest desire is to see St. Peter members come together and grow even stronger and more secure as a local body of believers. The original vision was a good one. Pray these dear folks can make it a reality.
Because many of the St. Peter members are paedocommunionists, they will not be able to be in the RPCGA. Nevertheless, they should know that they can turn to the RPCGA for guidance, encouragement and direction. They are your brothers in Christ, and they care deeply for each and every member of St. Peter Presbyterian Church.
Just posted at the Highlands Study Center web site is the following:
These misrepresentations are addressed at:
On February 2, 2006 the deposed session of St. Peter Presbyterian Church issued a letter of "repentance" to the Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA, also requesting to be dismissed from the jurisdiction of the Presbytery. Their letter of "repentance," in my personal estimation, was a whitewash of the grievous charges against them, as specified in the Presbytery's Declaratory Judgment. However, given the history of the St. Peter Session their letter of "repentance" was deemed by Presbytery the best that could realistically be hoped for:
On February 3, 2006 the Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA dismissed R.C. Sproul, Jr., Laurence Windham, Wayne Hays and Jay Barfield:
The RPCGA had cause to believe that this tragic saga was now largely over.
However, it would seem that R.C. Sproul, Jr. has once again demonstrated his inability to comprehend what the word "repentance" means and, as such, the saga for the St. Peter
Presbyterian Church continues.
On February 5, 2006 CREC Pastor David Queener preached at St. Peter from 1Timothy 5:19, "Against an elder receive not an accusation." The message to the St. Peter congregation was apparent, along with some apparent ominous overtones. Mr. Queener helped set the stage for what would transpire later that evening.
The RPCGA stated in its Declaratory Judgment of R.C. Sproul, Jr. and his session,
Nevertheless, in the evening the names R.C. Sproul, Jr., Laurence Windham, Jay Barfield and Wayne Hays were presented by a "steering committee" before the congregation of St. Peter Church to be reinstated as Elders (albeit non-ordained, indeed defrocked Elders) by a congregational vote. Nothing could have more clearly evidenced the defrocked elders' lack of sincere repentance to the multiple former members that they have tyrannized, and to the RPCGA which had declared them unfit "to hold an office for which they are not qualified," than for them to have immediately pursued their former offices.
By a majority of the voting head of household members the congregation of St. Peter Church determined, by a vote of 40 to 7, to reinstate their defrocked session as their Elders. It would appear that the members of St. Peter, along with their defrocked session, have abandoned entirely the Presbyterian polity they cherished so dearly for years. Now St. Peter is an Independent Congregational church. Vox populi vox dei -- the voice of the people is the voice of God.
R.C. Sproul, Jr. has long claimed his need for accountability and to be "under authority." He promised his congregation, and he promised his denomination, to submit to ecclesiastical authority. The authority that he swore an oath to obey (RPCGA) rendered a sentence against him, defrocking him and deeming him unfit for the office of Elder. Clearly, R.C. Sproul, Jr. has demonstrated that he has no genuine regard for submitting to authority. By his actions R.C. Sproul, Jr. has proven that he was never a Presbyterian but an autonomist.
R.C. Sproul, Jr. and his defrocked session are known to have been in negotiations with Doug Wilson and the CREC since the first of January. Though St. Peter Congregational Church voted to reinstate their defrocked elders, it remains to be seen if the CREC (or any other denomination that St. Peter solicits an imprimatur from) will defy the RPCGA's judgment and re-ordain the defrocked men.
On February 6 the Office of the Moderator of Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA publicly released a statement clarifying their deposement and release from general membership in the RPCGA the four defrocked elders:
Referenced in Peter Kershaw's Open Letter is his testimony to the Westminster Presbytery of the RPCGA on R.C. Sproul, Jr.'s practice of paedocommunion and his conspiracy to subvert the will of his Presbytery.
On this day defrocked Saint Peter Presbyterian Church pastor Laurence Windham emailed a fund raising letter to a number of friends and supporters. I was almost immediately forwarded a copy of Mr. Windham's letter. The implications of Laurence Windham's letter, particularly in terms of further dishonoring the RPCGA, are most troubling.
On March 15 the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches announced through the office of its Moderator, Randy Booth, that they had formed a Commission, at the request of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, "to provide pastoral guidance for the immediate needs of the St. Peter congregation." The CREC announcement goes on to state, "This Commission is not judicial in nature, but rather pastoral. The CREC respects the judicial bounds of the RPCGA and intends to operate within those boundaries."
I have my doubts about the CREC's real agenda in all of this, but will withhold my comments until after the CREC Commission issues its report.
In the two months since the defrocking of R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the St. Peter Presbyterian Church Session, I've been deluged with inquiries from folks who say they're confused by various illogical, contradictory and ambiguous statements (and some have said "dishonest statements") coming out of St. Peter Presbyterian Church. One of the most common of these absurdities has been: "The Session of St. Peter Presbyterian Church has been deposed from office without censure." This myth is debunked at:
Such statements come from both the defrocked session, as well as from various St. Peter members. Additionally, the defrocked St. Peter Presbyterian Church session has various faithful friends outside of St. Peter who also have been quite vocal in promulgating the very same tales that R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the defrocked St. Peter session have been spinning.
This isn't to say that they're not entitled to have opinions -- they most certainly are (as am I). However, it's not helpful to the dialogue when personal opinions differ so dramatically from reality, being rooted in mere speculation or a desire to spin a tale in such a way as to give a positive image to a tragic and embarrassing situation. Such spin in no way adds to what little credibility the St. Peter Four have remaining.
Shortly after R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the St. Peter Presbyterian Church session were deposed from office in the RPCGA, two other RPCGA Pastors, James McDonald and Marion Lovett, requested to be tranferred from the RPCGA. The RPCGA will transfer an ordained minister, not under discipline, to another denomination of "like faith and practice," upon his request. However, a minister cannot be transferred into independency and retain his ordination. As such, both McDonald and Lovett were deposed. Unlike R.C. Sproul, Jr and his session, who were deposed for specific grievous charges, McDonald and Lovett were deposed without charges. The Moderator provides here clarification on the differences between these cases:
R.C. Sproul, Jr and his allies have portrayed his defrocking as a "doctrinal controversy with the RPCGA over paedocommunion." However, that's just another smokescreen to lay cover for the real far more serious issues:
On May 15 the CREC Commission finalized its Report.
1. The RPCGA documents hosted at this site are unrevised originals ("primary source") and classified as "public information for public release." They are the property of the RPCGA and are hosted here with the permission of the RPCGA. Indeed, they are hosted here by our mutual consent. All primary source documents are certified authentic and unmodified from their original form.
I am not an officer of the RPCGA and therefore cannot speak on their behalf. However, given the fact that I had more to do with putting together the case than any other person, which resulted in the Declaratory Judgment against R.C. Sproul, Jr. and the St. Peter session, I am far more knowledgeable of the case than just about anyone else, including the defrocked St. Peter session itself. I have also maintained regular dialogue with the RPCGA to ensure that the facts, as I present them, are accurate, and I take steps to ensure that various RPCGA Elders first review my comments before I publish them. If the RPCGA were to disagree with anything that I have writen it would not get posted here. In other words I've gone to great lengths to ensure that my opinions conform to the RPCGA's.
If anyone has any cause for concern, or doubt about anything that I have published here, they are encouraged to contact the Moderator and/or Stated Clerk of Westminster Presbytery (RPCGA).
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