Today, R. C. Sproul Jr. admitted to visiting Ashley Madison.

In August of 2014, “in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity” he visited the site to “fan the flames of my imagination.” He left an old email but did not pursue the matter.

Christianity Today reports that Ligonier Ministries has suspended Sproul Jr. “due to his admission that he visited the adultery matchmaking website Ashley Madison.”

This surprising revelation is shocking the conservative homeschooling movement. Both Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips fell to violations of the Seventh Commandment. And now R. C. Sproul Jr.

There were consequences for his actions:

“I recently informed the board of Ligonier Ministries, which has handled the matter internally, having suspended me until July 1, 2016. I also informed my presbytery which is also handling the matter internally. And now the world is informed.”

It is especially this last action by the Presbytery (a group of churches that are responsible to each other) that will be most instructive to the homeschooling community. Admittedly, I am a Presbyterian. And I respect my brothers and sister who are Independent. But I hope the actions of the Presbytery will show a positive light on accountability of local leadership by other churches.

The problem with the Doug Phillips’ situation (which I wrote about extensively here) is that he was found guilty by a local church and then fled to another church that ignored that discipline.

In this case, if the Presbytery deposes (removes his pastoral credentials) a large number of churches will not receive him as a pastor if he flees. Yes, he could find a church that would ignore the discipline. But at least his option would be narrowed while a greater witness of churches will have testified to the world the man’s guilt (as in the case of Tchividjian).

As it stands, we must await with bated breath. The issue is still undecided. May God have mercy upon him. And may this be a warning to our weak flesh. And a reminder of the powerful effects of the sexualized culture of America upon the church.

[Update: after this revelation, Sproul Jr. stated on his recent article about the Duggars: “August 31, 2015 Update to This Article: in light of my public statement here, I believe I should have withheld comment on this matter.”]


7 thoughts on “Sproul Jr. suspended from Ligonier Ministries, Ashley Madison claims another victim

  1. “In this case, if the Presbytery deposes (removes his pastoral credentials) a large number of churches will not receive him as a pastor if he flees. Yes, he could find a church that would ignore the discipline.”

    Umm, isn’t that exactly what happened when RC Jr was defrocked back about ten years ago? The CREC just ignored the defrocking and immediately welcomed him in after issuing a whitewash “report”, as did the CPC which later reordained him. No need to worry about the CPC defrocking him over this or this Ashely Madison debacle though. With that all important “Sproul” name he’ll always be golden, regardless of anything he does. Also, CPC would never dare risk the wrath of Daddy Sproul.

    There are Presbyterians and then there are those who masquerade as Presbyterians. RC Jr is the latter, as is his father, who has always pastored an independent church and resists all attempts by anyone to bring St. Andrews Chapel into the PCA where Sproul Sr. maintains his own credentials. Would the PCA be so unPresbyterian for any other pastor and permit him to pastor an independent church while still calling himself “Presbyterian”? No, but they’ll make exceptions for celebs.

    I used to have a lot more respect for Presbyterians and Presbyteries, but it’s become too much of a good-ol boys club.

    1. Yes, the good-ol boys’ club is a perennial problem that is hidden even in Independency because the club is just one church. I urge you not to look to the big cases but be aware of the many “small” cases of untrained men held back from the ministry (such as in our Presbytery) or deposed from the ministry. Pray. And support a good church.

  2. Thanks brother. I appreciate your very gracious reply. And yes, I do support a good church, denominational at that, and Presbyterian in ecclesiology. I’m reasonably confident my pastor and elders aren’t using porn or registering on sex hookup sites. We’ve had periodic full-disclosure talks about those very matters and hold one another accountable. Porn and infidelity is a huge problem everywhere, including in the church, and it’s largely been pushed under the rug. Surveys have revealed that as many as 70% of pastors struggle with porn. Sproul’s own slippery slide likely started with porn. Perhaps if Sproul had sought out or created some genuine accountability in his life he wouldn’t have registered at a sex hookup site.

    I believe I have good cause for my cynicism on this RC Jr scandal. For example: “There were consequences for his actions.” I wish I could agree, but I’m not seeing it. I would ordinarily consider a work suspension a genuine consequence, but not in this case. From all accounts Sproul’s been suspended with pay. So how is that a consequence? That’s not church discipline. More like a long term paid vacation at Ligonier Ministry donor expense. Stuff like this is the very reason why I can’t help but think of mainline denoms as having degenerated into just another good-ol boys’ club.

  3. I understand the expressed cynicism. I have been in ministry for 34 years and have seen the ugly part of Church ministry and the disheartening foibles of those involved both vocational and non-volcational. Yes, for me personally, this especially sad. However, I really want to call you, and the rest of us to action. Here is a fair question: “Are you, am I praying?” If so, what are we praying? Are we helping, are we bearing up? Or, are we giving outsiders an opportunity to point fingers at us? Admittedly, I’m not sure if you were trying to be sarcastic or not, but it sure stank as I read it. I don’t want to make judgents about you, or anyone else, but I must examine myself and try to be helpful. Just my thoughts.

    1. Hello Kelly,

      There is no sarcasm in this article: “May God have mercy upon him. And may this be a warning to our weak flesh. And a reminder of the powerful effects of the sexualized culture of America upon the church.”

      I meant what I wrote.

  4. Pastor Mathis, might assume you haven’t been following RC Jr events because you never posted a follow up article. Though it’s rather old news at this point, the article you linked to at CP might leave the impression with some that RC Jr “resigned” from Ligonier over his Ashley Madison debacle. What CP didn’t know at the time of publication, but which they discovered soon thereafter and filled in the blanks for their readers later on, was that Sproul “resigned” not over registering for a sex hookup account, but for being arrested, and later convicted, for drunk driving with two of his minor children in the car.

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