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Addressing Inferences and Innuendos

Misrepresentations Made By R.C. Sproul Jr. and the Saint Peter Presbyterian Church Session About Their Defrocking

© 2006 by: Peter Kershaw

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of Peter Kershaw and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Heal Our Land Ministries.

Almost immediately after the Saint Peter Session was deposed from office on January 26, 2006 a statement was posted on the home page of the Highlands Study Center web site:

"As many of you have read, Dr. Sproul Jr., along with the entire session of Saint Peter Presbyterian Church, has heard from the moderator of the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Assembly, that they have been deposed from their offices as elders in the church. This action was taken without a trial, indeed without even a conversation. We disagree with the action taken, and are considering our options as to how to respond. What we will not do is take shots against our accusers over the internet, and would encourage you not to do the same. Please be patient, and please pray for the peace and purity of the church."

I wish I could see this as a positive development. However, it is not. While R.C. Sproul Jr and his fellow deposed session might be praying "for the peace and purity of the church," his inferences and innuendos are likely to only cause further discord. R.C. states, "What we will not do is take shots against our accusers over the internet. . ." Yet, by making such artful insinuations, that's exactly what he's doing.

It is true that the St. Peter session of Elders have been deposed from office without trial. But to even make such a statement, especially when it is made in conjunction with a blatant falsehood ("this action was taken... indeed without even a conversation") is to insinuate that there was some impropriety committed. R.C. has employed these "hit and run" tactics for years and, in most cases, he's gotten away with it. But those days are over.

Many will read R.C.'s statements and are likely to assume that:

  • The decision to depose was made unilaterally by the Westminster Presbytery (RPCGA) Moderator.
  • The St. Peter Session was denied due process by having been deposed without a trial.
  • The Moderator refused, was uncooperative, or made it difficult for the St. Peter Session to communicate with him.

Such innuendos are false and can be easily debunked.

1. As is stated in the Declaratory Judgment:

"Along with the petition of a super-majority of voting elders of the Presbytery, requesting the Moderator to take proper action under the authority granted to this office, the Moderator hereby exercises that authority entrusted to him from both the Book of Church Order and from the Elders of Westminster Presbytery to carry out their will in the following issues currently pending before this judicatory:"

Not only was the Declaratory Judgment the expressed will "of a super-majority of voting elders of the Presbytery," in point of fact the decision to depose was unanimous. To portray the decision to depose as having come from the Moderator alone would be a blatant misrepresentation of how Presbyteries deliberate and reach a consensus. Not only did the Moderator not act of his own accord, but considerable pressure was put upon him by his fellow Presbyters to take decisive action on those issues where no trial was necessary, and to adjudicate all other matters that remain in dispute later at trial.

2. No trial is necessary where an accused has already confessed his guilt. Where an accused pleads "Guilty," a judicatory may move immediately to Summary Judgment.(1) Such a procedure is specifically authorized in the RPCGA BCO:

D 6:9 Cases Without Full Process
When a member comes before a judicatory as his own accuser or confessor, the judicatory may proceed to judgment without full process, determining first, what offense, if any, has been committed, and, if a serious offense has been committed, what censure shall be pronounced.

Not only is this not an uncommon practice in Presbyterian polity, Summary Judgments are common practice in civil law courts, and such a practice does not deny an accused justice. Where guilt has already been confessed the point of calling for a full trial on those matters is moot. For example, when a defendant is civilly charged with a crime, he is brought before the judge and asked, "How do you plead?" If he responds, "Guilty," there is no purpose served in setting a date for trial, empaneling jurors, hearing testimony from witnesses, examining evidence, and then having the jury deliberate. Even if he is accused of the most serious of crimes, such as murder, he renders a trial moot if he pleads guilty, because he has come as his own accuser and confessor. All that remains is for the judge to determine the sentence.

This is what RC Sproul Jr and his fellow Elders did. They came as their own accusers and confessors by pleading guilty to several very serious charges. On those charges all that was left to the Presbytery was to confirm the guilt of the accused and pass sentence. By the unanimous will of the Presbytery they determined that the entire St. Peter Session was, by the gravity of the offenses that they confessed to, deemed unfit and unqualified to serve as Elders and, as such, their sentence was to be deposed from office. On any remaining charges that the St. Peter session either denied or did not answer, the Presbytery will address, and will afford the accused full due process, at trial.

3. The inference, innuendo or allegation that Dr. Kenneth Talbot was in any way uncooperative or unresponsive in communication with the St. Peter Session would be a falsehood, and can be easily disproven by speaking with any of the other members of Presbytery. They are aware of the painstaking efforts made by Dr. Ken Talbot to bring the St. Peter Session into meaningful dialogue.

Furthermore, the St. Peter Session conducted itself in a contentious and disorderly fashion against the authority of the entire Westminster Presbytery by sending communiques of complaint and protest to Elders of the John Knox Presbytery. The John Knox Presbytery, though very concerned over the matter, has no jurisdiction, and by making appeals to JKP the St. Peter session again demonstrated that they have little genuine regard for preserving the peace and purity of the church. Plainly stated, R.C. Sproul Jr. plays by his own rules, disregarding the rules and the authority of those he swore an oath to submit to.

Given that these men claim to be Presbyterians, and that they "disagree with the action taken," they should have already recognized how suspicious it sounds for them to say that they "are considering our options as to how to respond." As Presbyterians who swore oaths to submit to and obey the government of the RPCGA they should already know that there is only one of two "options" -- either concur with the Declaratory Judgment or demur and appeal the Judgment to the General Assembly. There are no other lawful options.

Even now there are concerns that the Saint Peter session will "cut and run," seeking more favorable treatment from another denomination (or rather a "confederation"), rather than first exhausting their judicial remedies by appealing the Declaratory Judgment to General Assembly.

I trust that in the future should R.C. Sproul Jr. or any of his fellow defrocked elders care to post comments on their web site that they be careful to not make dishonoring, false and misleading statements regarding the RPCGA or any of its Presbyters.

If R.C. Sproul Jr. and the defrocked session of St. Peter Presbyterian Church are serious about preserving the peace and purity of the church they must immediately cease dishonoring the denomination that they swore oaths to submit to, which includes submitting to their discipline. They should immediately remove the deceptive statement from their web site and cease making any further deceptive and dishonoring public statements.



(1) Summary Judgment. Procedural device available for prompt and expeditious disposition of controversy without trial when there is no dispute as to either material fact or inferences to be drawn from undisputed facts, or if only question of law is involved. Black's Law Dictionary 7 Ed.

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