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Saturday
Sep052015

What C.J. Mahaney & Gene Emerson Can Learn from R.C. Sproul Jr.’s Visit to Ashley Madison

NOTE: Since I wrote this article, new information has come into my possession.  The “confession” by R.C. Sproul Jr. below is actually a false and deceitful explanation for his “visit” to Ashley Madison.  The facts now show he lied and pretended to be repentant in an attempt to cover up his sin.  Furthermore, this false narrative has been put forward by his pastors, presbytery, denomination and Ligonier Ministries. See Ligonier Ministries Covers-up the Truth about R.C. Sproul Jr.'s "Visit" to Ashley Madison Despite Many Appeals for a complete evidentiary treatment of the matter.     

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R.C. Sproul Jr. (not his distinguished father) acknowledged the following on Monday.  

“I visited Ashley Madison…to fan the flames of my imagination…in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity.”  

He should have left out all the excuses (weakness, pain, curiosity) and made a confession without qualification.  For example, 

“I went to Ashley Madison to fan the flames of my sinful imagination tempted by sexual lust in my heart and with a degree of intentionality (not unhealthy curiosity) because I was on the site long enough to leave an old email address.”    

He also said, “In light of my public statement here, I believe I should have withheld comment on this matter” referring to his blog commentary about the evil nature of Ashely Madison before he came forward.  This too is weak.  He should have said, “I should have withheld comment on this matter because to do so was an expression of hypocrisy.” 

Thus ends my critique of R.C. Sproul Jr. because we can learn from him provided he is telling us the whole story. 

On Monday, he wrote the following on Judgement and Grace.  I’ve added comments after each paragraph.  You have never heard anything like this from Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

Judgment and Grace
Monday, August 31, 2015
R.C. Sproul Jr. 

Sproul:  “The message of God’s prophets in the Old Testament amounted to this- God is not pleased with what you are doing.  Repent.  We miss that prophets were agents of grace as were the judgments promised.  The purpose, in both instances, was to be a goad to repentance, a wake-up call.  The same is true today as God works in and through providence.  For the believer, judgment is always a work of God’s grace, a goad to repentance.  Many Christians have bemoaned the destruction wrought by the Ashley Madison hack.  The truth of the matter is that just as Ashley Madison did not create unfaithful hearts, so this hack did not create damning exposure.  Rather for some it was a means of His grace.” 

Comment:  Sproul loves the work of prophets and sees them as a means of grace.  SGM hates the work of prophets and does everything in their power to silence them.  They’d stone those that are “a goad to repentance, a wake-up call” if that were possible.  SGM also bemoans “the destruction wrought” by those who prophesy against it.  They do not see the press, law enforcement, lawsuits or blogs as a means of grace revealing their “unfaithful hearts.”     

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Sproul:  “In August 2014, in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity, I visited Ashley Madison.  My goal was not to gather research for critical commentary, but to fan the flames of my imagination.  There I found two gracious judgments.  First, I felt the grace of fear.  Second, I felt the grace of shame.  I was there long enough to leave an old email address.  And within minutes I left, never to return.  I did not sign up for their service or interact with any clients.  I have always remained faithful to my wife even after her passing [from cancer in 2011].” 

Comment:  Sproul is honest about his sin.  He did not cover it up by claiming he went to Ashley Madison because he was doing some research for a sermon or critical article.  Mahaney has never been honest about his sin.  Nor have those around him like Gene Emerson who was recently found guilty for the solicitation of prostitution.  Read here and here.  

Sproul was fearful God would expose him.  Mahaney and his associates have tried to out fox God at every turn only to be exposed time after time.  In their folly, they do not fear God.  In their insolence, they mock God.  

Sproul was shamed by what he did.  Mahaney has never expressed shame for anything, nor has any other current leader in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Gene Emerson deceived KingsWay Community Church, where he was the senior pastor, by telling them he was entrapped by police, did nothing legally wrong, and was considering a lawsuit against the Chesterfield County Police Department, even after Judge Keith Hurley sentenced him.  It was all a con and a cover. 

Sproul is taking this seriously.  Mahaney has gone out of his way to make clear his sins were never serious and he never once thought they disqualified from ministry.  Emerson has maintained only that he had a “lapse of judgement” for going to a motel room for a “massage” but has publicly acknowledged no sin. 

Sproul “left, never to return.”  Mahaney and associates have repeatedly returned to their sin like a dog returns to its vomit (Prov 26:11).  They continue to lie, deceive, and cover up.  That includes Mark Prater (Executive Director), Paul Buckley, (Chairman of the Board) and Tommy Hill (Director of Administration & Finance).  See Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused

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Sproul:  “The grace of God’s judgment bore its fruit, and by His grace I repented of my sin.  By His grace, I have also received His forgiveness, the outworking of His love.  Prophetic providence had done its good office.  Jesus died for this sin, but there are still earthly consequences.  With the revelation of the hack has come the revelation of my sin.  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.”

Comment: Sproul is so grateful that prophetic providence exposed him in judgement.  This led him to repentance and the forgiveness of God.  He fully realizes the “hack” was ordained of God to reveal his sin which was an outworking of Jesus’ love.  He is right.

Prophetic providence has repeatedly exposed Mahaney and a long list of other leaders in SGM.  Each time they have rebelled against his sovereign work of judgement which was intended to bring about repentance in his great kindness.  As a result, they have stored up wrath (Rom 2:4-5).     

Sproul went to the Ligonier Board to tell them about his sin.  The Board and his presbytery disciplined him.  Mahaney sought to cover up everything up including his role in the conspiracy to cover up child sex abuse.  He went to no one voluntarily and no one in Sovereign Grace Ministries or Covenant Life Church disciplined him.

Sproul has informed the world of his sin.  Mahaney has deceived the world of his sin.  Emerson is just following his example.  I wrote Gene the following on Monday.  Ben Orcutt wants to do a follow up to his original story found here.  

From: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>
Date: August 31, 2015 at 2:21:53 PM EDT
To: Gene Emerson <gene@kingsway.cc>
Cc: Matthew Williams <matthew@kingsway.cc>, Mickey Connolly <mickey.connolly@crosswaync.org>
Subject: Please Walk in the Light with Newspaper Reporter

Hello Gene,

Ben Orcutt from The Chesterfield Observer will be contacting you.  Please talk to him.  This presents a wonderful opportunity from the Lord for you to be open and honest about your sin and its effects upon your family, the church, and the reputation of Christ.  Let it be a means whereby you can clear your conscience, begin to rebuild your integrity, and help KingsWay move forward in its mission to Midlothian and Chesterfield County.  Mathew [Williams] and Mickey [Connolly] should also talk to the reporter and admit their faults. 

I hope you will humble yourself before God and man and walk in the light rather than hide in the darkness.  I am praying for you.  The Lord is extending you his mercy.  Please obey 1 John 1:5-7 for the glory of Christ and the good of the gospel.

Brent

Please forward to Josh [Kruger] and Chris [Deloglos].

To date, Emerson, Williams and Connolly have refused to “inform the world” of the truth and Sovereign Grace Ministries (i.e., Mark Prater) has refused to comment.  They don’t want this news reaching people in the churches because Emerson is one of the best known leaders in the denomination and was a member of C.J. Mahaney’s apostolic team in 2011.  He oversaw all the churches in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United Sates. 

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Sproul:  “My sin, sadly, has impacted those who are innocent- my colleagues, friends, and family.  I have and will continue to seek their forgiveness.  I covet your prayers.”

Comment:  Sproul’s sin is FAR less serious than Mahaney’s sin or Emerson’s sin.  Yet he will “continue to seek their forgiveness.”  Thousands of innocent people are still waiting to hear from Mahaney.  Hundreds from Emerson.    

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Here are the two posts by R.C. Sproul Jr. quoted or cited above without comment. 

Hacking Ashely Madison
Wednesday, July 22, 2105
R.C. Sproul Jr.

I am 50 years old.  Which means my understanding of the Internet and all that it does and how it operates is relatively new.  I didn’t grow up with it.  I have enough Internet skill to help my aging parents.  But regularly I need to be helped and rescued by my own children to whom Internet is a second language.  I hope, however, that my children still don’t know about Ashley Madison, a website that I only recently learned about.

Ashley Madison, in some ways, is very much like other websites that I have heard of.  Websites like match.com which purport to bring people together with the hope that one day they will get married.  There are several categories and even smaller groups with more specific interests; there’s a match website just for farmers; there is one just for Christians; and there is even one just for Reformed Christians.  While Ashley Madison does promise to bring people together, it does so by tearing homes apart.  You see what makes Ashley Madison unique among all these other websites is that they specialize in bringing together, not people who hope to one day marry, but people who are already married to someone else.  It is a website which exists to facilitate adultery.

It is in the news recently, not because it is a new website or a new concept; it is in the news because they have recently been hacked.  The hackers who broke into their site were able to retrieve mountains of information including millions of names of people who signed up for this website.  And they are not merely showing their computer skills, demonstrating what they can do.  They’re actually threatening that if Ashley Madison does not shut down they will publicly release all the names of those who have sought the services of Ashley Madison.

I suspect that there are a lot of people privately sweating, 37 million of them, probably.  I wonder how many are going to publicly object and declare the immorality of this hack and this threat.  But in doing so, we miss the immorality of the site itself.  This is not merely about the private behavior of private citizens, because we are dealing with married people.  Marriage, friends, is never only private.

When we are asked to attend a wedding, we don’t merely go there to watch.  We are not just an audience that gives an increased level of pomp and circumstance to the ceremony.  Rather, we are called to go as witnesses to the wedding.  We are there to publicly witness solemn vows being made between a man and his wife.  So these folks who are using Ashley Madison are people who have publicly married and who are cheating.

The reality is that nothing that we do is private.  Not because of the shocking reach of the Internet, not because of the devious skills of hackers, but rather because all that we do is known by the One who knows all things.  The reality is that we all sin before the eyes of the watching God of Heaven and Earth.  Not only that, but all of our sins will one day be publicly exposed.  On that great day of judgment, there will be no delete; there will be no erase; there will be no way to hide all that all of us have done.  It is my hope that this kind of cyber assault might wake us up to that reality.

My prayer is that we, even if we haven’t committed adultery, even if we haven’t flirted with committing adultery, even if we just learned about Ashley Madison, would just recognize and embrace the biblical truth that our sins will find us out.

The glory of the gospel is that, for believers, our sins are covered.  The irony of the gospel is that our sins are only covered in so far as we expose them.  In order for them to be covered by the blood of Christ, they have to be confessed by the ones committing the sin.  This is precisely what I remind people of when I have opportunity to preach at the local abortion mill in Orlando.  “You are here to hide your shame.  God in His grace has provided a way for your shame to be covered.  And it is by the shedding of innocent blood, but not by the shedding of innocent blood of your child by your hands.  Rather, by the shedding of Jesus’ blood who laid down His life on His own.”

We are all sinners, and we are all, in ourselves, justly under the wrath of God, and we will all give an answer for all that we’ve done, all that we’ve said, all that we’ve thought, and for every website we have visited.  It will all come out.  But those of us who, by God’s grace, have been given new hearts, who’ve been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who’ve cried out to God for mercy in Christ, we will, at the end of that frightening day, hear these words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into thy reward.”  Not because we have done well, but because Jesus did.  And Jesus changes everything.

August 31, 2015 Update to This Article: in light of my public statement here, I believe I should have withheld comment on this matter.

Judgement and Grace
Monday, August 31, 2015.
R.C. Sproul Jr. 

The message of God’s prophets in the Old Testament amounted to this- God is not pleased with what you are doing. Repent. We miss that prophets were agents of grace as were the judgments promised. The purpose, in both instances, was to be a goad to repentance, a wake-up call. The same is true today as God works in and through providence. For the believer, judgment is always a work of God’s grace, a goad to repentance. Many Christians have bemoaned the destruction wrought by the Ashley Madison hack. The truth of the matter is that just as Ashley Madison did not create unfaithful hearts, so this hack did not create damning exposure. Rather for some it was a means of His grace.

In August 2014, in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity, I visited Ashley Madison. My goal was not to gather research for critical commentary, but to fan the flames of my imagination. There I found two gracious judgments. First, I felt the grace of fear. Second, I felt the grace of shame. I was there long enough to leave an old email address. And within minutes I left, never to return. I did not sign up for their service or interact with any clients. I have always remained faithful to my wife even after her passing.

The grace of God’s judgment bore its fruit, and by His grace I repented of my sin. By His grace, I have also received His forgiveness, the outworking of His love. Prophetic providence had done its good office. Jesus died for this sin, but there are still earthly consequences. With the revelation of the hack has come the revelation of my sin. 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.

My sin, sadly, has impacted those who are innocent- my colleagues, friends, and family. I have and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I covet your prayers.

Related Articles

Gene Emerson, Former Regional Leader for SGM, Found Guilty for Solicitation of Prostitution (August 22, 2015)

Gene Emerson’s Summons, Sentence & Court Order for HIV Testing (August 29, 2015)

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