Canadian Apologist Resigns Because of “Moral Failure”

By Jackson Elliott
Sye Ten Bruggencate (Photo Credit: Bruggencate's public Facebook page)

Canadian apologist Sye Ten Bruggencate publicly announced his permanent departure from ministry because of an unknown “moral failure.”

In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, Bruggencate said he was leaving public ministry because of a sin that disqualified him from ministry. Bruggencate did not specify the sin and referred all questions to Faith Presbyterian Church, the church he attends in Tillsonburg, Ontario.

Sye Ten Bruggencate (Photo Credit: Bruggencate’s Facebook page)

The same apology also appears on Bruggencate’s website.

Since 2008, Bruggencate has worked fulltime in his “presuppositional apologetics” ministry, which argues that without presupposing God’s existence, people can’t appeal to logic, experience, or feelings.

His ministry has produced a film on apologetics called “How to Answer the Fool” and Bruggencate has debated atheists including Matt Dillahunty, Matthew Isaacs, and Paul Baird.

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Bruggencate’s Proof That God Exists ministry, which accepts donations, is not registered as a charity in Canada. His website says it decided not to register as a charity to avoid government attempts to control the ministry’s content. 

Bruggencate deleted his private Facebook page Wednesday night and relinquished control of his public page to his church’s elders.

In a statement to The Roys Report, Faith Presbyterian pastor Steve Richardson said that Bruggencate confessed a “troubling circumstance” to the church on Sunday, involving Bruggencate. The situation happened in the past and is not ongoing, Richardson said.

After a 48-hour investigation, the church had “ample cause” to ask Bruggencate to step away from ministry and cease taking the Lord’s Supper, said Richardson. The church’s inquiry will continue.

“We directed him to make public his confession to us that he had acted far beyond the boundaries of acceptable conduct,” Richardson’s email statement said.

Richardson said the church cannot disclose personal identifying information, but felt the need to act swiftly.

“We are extremely mindful that many institutions, churches but also schools, sports teams, political organizations, media outlets and others, have failed to act swiftly or seriously in the past,” he said. “By their delay, they have made worse the suffering of one or more parties. We will not be rash, but we will not make that error, either.”

Before he became an apologist, Bruggencate worked as an engineer in the automotive industry and as a factory worker.

“I wanted people to become Christians, so I learned all of these arguments on how to defend my faith, and I would use them at work with my unbelieving colleagues,” he said on a Think Institute podcast. “One of the things I’ve been blessed with is taking these difficult arguments and dumbing them down to my factory worker level.”

Faith Presbyterian said it will be making further public statements “when and as the situation allows.”

CORRECTION: Sye Ten Bruggencate was the only member of the church involved in the troubling circumstance. An earlier version of this story stated that another church member was involved. This copy has been corrected.

Jackson ElliottJackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.



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27 thoughts on “Canadian Apologist Resigns Because of “Moral Failure””

  1. Am I surprised that his name came up? Not really.

    Am I glad he confessed and his church removed him from ministry? Yes.

    Should the church not explain the reason for his removal from ministry? Depends. If it is something that other churches should know before hiring him or would disqualify from other public works such as a children’s coach or teacher, than yes they should inform the public. Beyond that I don’t know.

  2. James Lutzweiler

    So, he can no longer “remember Jesus”! Wow! How Godly! How biblical! A pox on these Presbyterians until they complete a remedial course in the Lord’s Supper.

    Jimmy the Baptist

    1. I think it’s admirable that he is submitting to his church’s decision that he is not qualified for ministry. Let’s hope he stays out of ministry.

      For the commenter above: He won’t be banned from the Lord’s table forever. As he expresses repentance, he will be readmitted. Presbyterians ask people not to take the supper for a time if they need to be made aware of the seriousness of their sin, if they haven’t seemed to understand the gravity or if they are unrepentant.

      I hope the church notified the police if he did something potentially criminal. But the church might not need to disclose the specific sin to the public, depending on what it is. If children are in danger or something, they should go public.

    2. Diito – if he’s repented, right with the Lord & it’s not on going then why can’t he partake in the Lord’s supper? Can’t have it both ways!

      1. The key word is _IF_ and that is what the investigation and the like is for. The whole reason for him not taking the Lord’s Supper (and the elders’) restrictions to prevent him from taking it unworthily in guidance with Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians.

        It is not permanent, and I would not be surprised if this was Bruggencate’s suggestion when it first happened.

  3. All these doctrines.
    That, and the servants of the Lord that call themselves Leaders and conceal their sins, is exactly why I can’t step into a church. What was the correct church name for where Christ was when He ministered to the sheep on the hillsides? Atleast this man confessed before someone called him out. More trustworthy than many church “leaders”.
    God, please help him, because he has turned himself over to you. May I Lord, be in that same place of turning myself over to you. Help the other “leaders” understand that You have this sinner, who has confessed and is repenting, in your hands. You also see those “leaders” sin of not granting him communion with You. Oh, that’s what they call Presbyterian. I see, your Presbyterian church knows better than the Lord. Got it.

      1. Blessed, what kind of remark is that???? Vicki B is entitled to her view and there’s NOTHING in her comment that would even REMOTELY justify yours.
        Please be a blessing to others rather than sounding like the opposite…

        1. I think you all understand the point. :-) Nobody is perfect. If you’re waiting around to find a perfect church before assembling with one another (Hebrews 10:25), then you will be waiting forever. You’re just as imperfect as the people who you expect to be perfect. Unless, of course, you’re suggesting that Vicki is, in fact, perfect…which I’m sure she would disagree with.

          1. Blessed, thank you for the reminder of my many sins and imperfections. I am but a filthy rag. Never, ever thought there was a perfect church. Doesn’t mean though, that churches don’t have any room for improvement. I think they all do, in various ways. I bet Jesus would talk to me about the ways to improve his myriad of denominations, or even possibly, ways to eliminate some or most of them.

    1. Amen, well said sister Vicky. So True. I am also a grave sinner and proud to have a brother in Christ like Sye. Not a coward like myself.

  4. Possibly Bruggencate is suffering temporary disqualification from the Lord’s Supper, because the leaders regard him as having placed judgment upon himself over many months or years, by taking the Eucharist without having confessed this serious past sin – and they are trying to bring home the seriousness of the situation, as well as ensuring that he does not continue to partake of it in an unworthy manner.

    As the church’s disciplinary investigation is ongoing (see above), he is presumably disqualified until the process has been completed.

    Anyway, I have just found these two paragraphs from the Reformed Presbyterian Book of Discipline, which shed some light upon that denomination’s procedures:

    75. The effect of a session’s judgment upon an ordinary member may be the infliction of one or more of four censures. It may be (1.) Admonition, involving affectionate warning of sin and danger, and exhortation to greater circumspection; or (2.) Rebuke either before the session alone or before the congregation, after confession or conviction of a scandalous offence; or (3.) Suspension from privileges for a longer or shorter period, or indefinitely, as the result of a confession or conviction, which is called the lesser excommunication; or (4.) What is termed the greater excommunication. Excommunication cannot be adopted without the express authority of the presbytery…

    76. The session absolves from scandal and restores to privileges, when it sees sufficient ground for doing so, after hopeful evidence of penitence has been exhibited. The effect is simply to remove the sentence of suspension, or the sentence of greater excommunication. Confession, and an apparently sincere profession of repentance, when duly weighed by the session, and found to be satisfactory, so far as man’s fallible judgment can reasonably go, form a sufficient ground for removing a sentence of suspension, and restoring the party to the full communion and fellowship of the church. Suspension from privileges as a censure arising at the close of a judicial investigation ought to be carefully distinguished from the suspension which takes place while a party is only under a charge of sin, which has not yet been proved. The latter suspension is not of the nature of a censure at all. It is simply a step which cannot be avoided in the circumstances, and to which the party must submit, because it would not be for edification that he or she should partake of privileges while subject to a charge of scandal.

    1. The prohibition taking the Lord’s Supper is to help the churchgoer avoid taking it unworthily as per Paul’s guidelines in 1 Corinthians. No need to compound sins.

    2. Well, I am sure all these Presbyterian elders make great judges. Nothing wrong with them over ruling Gods judgement of this man.
      There is no act of goodness or time period to make up for sins. If you have repented then you do your best to not commit that sin again. God judges your heart. Only God can forgive your sin and has done that through the blood of His Son.
      I guess Presbyterians know when God has forgiven again and has let enough time pass that you are good to commune with Him again. Got it.
      I think I would rather trust the Lords’ judgement and the Word, Jesus Christ.

      1. You do understand the if one is truly repentant, he would bear fruits of repentance in keeping with Scriptures right? Did you every think that maybe that is what his elders, his fellow church members, and accountability partners are doing this time-out to determine?

        IOW how do ones one know he is sorry for his sins and not just sorry he got caught? The latter would not be repentance, as you and many others have pointed out on this blog.

        1. Well, it’s a pretty good reprimand, I guess. I personally would feel horrible, as a leader in the Presbyterian church, if I denied him communion with his Lord today and he was repentant in his heart and the Lord saw that and he the repentant man died tomorrow. It would just give me terrific pause.

          1. I am pretty sure they feel horrible as well, this is not a step that is taken lightly nor without discussions, prayer, etc.

          2. George Shimrado

            May God give him repentance and forgive him for giving in to his earthly desires !!! May He without sin cast the first stone !?!?!? 🙏🙏🙏

  5. George Shimrado

    I pray for all parties involved. I forgot to mention in my comment that the victim be comforted in this terrible situation. 🙏🙏🙏

  6. Communion is for believers. “Do this in remembrance of Me” It is an insult to the cross to take communion and remember your sin instead of remembering Jesus body broken for you and blood poured out for you.

    When you take communion – Focus on Jesus , not your sin. Honor Him and you will not fall ill or asleep.

  7. So sad to hear brother Sye, I have admired you and what a warrior for truth you have been…..your sin does not undo what the Lord has done through you in the past, but reveals that you ( like all of us “wretched men”) are saved and yet still sin at the same time….. perhaps to much battle in the sin sick world, and not enough love and support from those in the family…. ive heard that AW Pink died alone in Scotland due to the above…. I hope this quote from Luther who was writing to a friend who was grieving over sin in his life will comfort you….“Do not let your sin stick in your mind, but get rid of it. Quit your despondency, which is a far greater sin….It must surely be that heretofore you have been only a trifling sinner, conscious only of paltry and insignificant faults and frailties….Therefore my faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins….you want to be a painted sinner and, accordingly, expect to have in Christ a painted Savior. You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior and you a real sinner.”
    -Martin Luther

  8. Based on what I’ve seen of Sye, as an atheist reviewing debates between theists and atheists, Sye is affable enough in conversation, but has arrogantly purported to educate others about doctrine. As a lifelong atheist, I’m unmoved by doctrinal lectures, and as a scientist, I’m unmoved by the verbal sleight-of-hand that is part and parcel of pre-suppositional apologetic. What’s been visible to me, exclusive of any private peccadilloes this man may have experienced, the visible and aggressive arrogance of Sye’s certainties is undone of its own accord. I suppose we have to take it as given that a man given to ministry will purport to educate others about doctrine. I fail to understand why the illness of certainty does not repel more individuals in these faith communities when it is undone. Sye’s attitude toward the atheists he’s conversed with publicly has been utterly unforgiving behind that affable smile. That’s the poison of pre-suppositional theology. I know all those platitudes about how all fall short, in so many words. When I wish a theist ill, I only wish that they continue in the grip of their faith.

    1. That is why, sir, “..professing to be wise they became fools..”
      All that wordy aloquence of yours, sir…..Time to honour yourself -life long unbelievers shall soon come to an end.

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