sproul
R.C. Sproul Jr. resigned from Ligonier Ministries in 2016, after being suspended for various moral failures. (RNS file photo)

After Moral Failures, R.C. Sproul Jr. Launches College to Train ‘Men of Godly Character’

By Sarah Einselen

After multiple moral failures, disgraced pastor R.C. Sproul Jr. has not only planted a new church, but this week is launching a new ministerial college to “train up men of godly character.”

In February, Sproul Jr. — son of the late reformed theologian R.C. Sproul — planted his newest church, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. And just this week, Sproul announced that his newest venture, Shepherd’s College, will be accepting applications for its pilot cohort.

In a YouTube announcement, Sproul said Shepherd’s College will operate under the umbrella of Dunamis Fellowship, an Indiana nonprofit formed in 2019. Sproul described the venture as “an attempt to absolutely provide for an educated clergy but also to recognize that the qualities that define the elder according to the word of God are character qualities.”

Little is posted on the college’s website, but prominently displayed is a question: “How might the training of men for ministry be different . . . if our goal was to train up men of godly character, rather than men of academic achievement?”

Sproul’s own past raises questions about whether he’s qualified to lead such a program. The Roys Report reached out to Sproul for comment but he did not respond.

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Past misconduct

Five years ago, Sproul resigned from his father’s organization, Ligonier Ministries, after being arrested for drunk driving with his underage kids in the car. Sproul took a plea deal in that case which allowed him to avoid prison.

At the time, he said he resigned from Ligonier and Reformation Bible College, where he served as rector, “for personal reasons.”

Before that, Sproul had been suspended from Ligonier for about a year and from his presbytery when his email was found in a data leak from the adultery website Ashley Madison.

And in 2006, Sproul was defrocked by the Westminster Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly for abusing his ministerial authority and misusing another denomination’s tax ID number.

His actions showed he lacked “the qualification for the ministry,” according to the declaratory judgment issued by the presbytery’s moderator. “It would be unwise,” the judgment stated, to let Sproul continue in an office he’s unqualified for.

Disqualified or not?

Sproul argues that despite these failures, he is qualified to return to ministry and has become more humble.

Speaking of the drunk driving arrest, Sproul said it was the worst and best day of his spiritual life. “It completely shattered any kind of façade or capacity to pretend that I’m better than I was,” he said.

R.C. Sproul Jr.
R.C. Sproul, Jr.,, speaks on the Unbelievable? Podcast on Nov. 27, 2020.

Sproul added on a 2019 podcast that he “didn’t know” whether he had a problem with alcohol, explaining he didn’t believe the category was biblical. But he acknowledged “I drank too much that night . . . I could’ve hurt or killed any number of people. That’s the scary thought.”

In a 2020 podcast with host Justin Brierley, Sproul said the drunk-driving incident made him “a pariah in the world that I used to be able to speak into to some degree.”Sproul told Brierley that he’d been criticized for wanting to return to public ministry “but I haven’t given it much weight because the things I have been doing are things that anybody can do. . . . If I’m writing a blog and publishing a podcast, and there are a million other people doing the same thing who are also not ordained . . .  (so) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

On the podcast, Sproul also objected to calls for public repentance, saying the public isn’t entitled to the same confession and accountability from a teacher as the teacher’s session, church, or family.

However, Karen Swallow Prior, who was also a guest on the podcast, said that public accountability is part and parcel of public ministry. She added that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that a leader is restored to ministry.

“God does not guarantee that when we are forgiven, we are restored to leadership or a level of responsibility that we have not yet proven,” Prior said.

The podcast was published two months before Sproul announced he’d be launching a new church in the Fort Wayne area. Sproul had already been teaching home study classes at a church in town, belonging to the Federation of Evangelical Churches, where he was a member.

Questions about new ministry

Since 2019, Sproul has been taking outside speaking engagements, selling books and accepting donations through his new Dunamis Fellowship.

According to its incorporation documents, Sproul and his wife serve as board members, along with three other people.

One of the board members, Jamie Hart, senior pastor at Redemption Bible Church in Fort Wayne, said via email he was no longer on the Dunamis board when contacted by The Roys Report. He didn’t answer questions about Sproul’s church affiliation or whether Hart considered Sproul qualified to develop leaders’ character. Another board member, Jason Baeuerle, pastor at Christ Our Treasure Fellowship, also declined to comment in a reply to the same emailed questions.

The Roys Report sought to speak to the third board member, but we were unable to find contact information for him.

It’s unclear whether Sproul is accountable to anyone besides the Dunamis board.

Sproul’s new church, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, doesn’t appear to be affiliated with any denomination. Sproul said the church is not affiliated with the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

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discussion

27 thoughts on “After Moral Failures, R.C. Sproul Jr. Launches College to Train ‘Men of Godly Character’”

    1. Cynthia Wright

      Understatement!

      Doesn’t this person have any real job skills? Walmart stockers start at $15/hr … all you need is legal work status.

      1. Cynthia,

        Awesome!

        And we would say the same regarding the vast majority of grifting evangelical leadership… Who just blab a lot…. And religionist are silly enough to pay the money.

  1. Neil Cameron (One Salient Oversight)

    Sproul Jr should not be in ministry. If he has repented of his past behaviour, that is great. Sins can be forgiven and this does not “disqualify” him as a Christian.

    His sins have, however, disqualified him from Christian leadership. These were not the sins of a stupid young man, they were continual sins that lasted many, many years. Sproul Jr is of an age where his sins can’t just be swept under the carpet.

    Membership in the body of Christ is by grace alone… but being an elder or pastor is by merit. Such people need to be consistently godly (not perfect) and act as an example of what a Christian is.

    Sproul Jr should just leave ministry altogether, become a member of a local church (no more than that), and glorify God through his work and life.

    1. You are so right. I have been searching for information on him ever since he moved here to Ft Wayne. To my knowledge he only apologized for drinking too much the night he was arrested. No mention of years past full of drinking and driving and behavior where he pastored. He is estranged from all his adult children and his mother and sister. Anyone thinking of attending a church or college he is in charge of should do some research It is not good.

  2. “Sproul’s new church, Sovereign Grace Fellowship, doesn’t appear to be affiliated with any denomination. Sproul said the church is not affiliated with the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.”

    Why not?

    “He had, in fact, got everything from the church and Sunday School, except, perhaps, any longing whatever for decency and kindness and reason.”
    – “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis

    1. Sproul Jr isn’t under denominational or congregational authority – these are the only entities that could determine whether or not he is disqualified. Whether or not he’s disqualified isn’t really a question for the general public to answer because their answer doesn’t matter either way.

      What does matter is whether or not the people considering attending his church or college consider him to be someone trustworthy enough to follow.

      And that’s where this article comes in. I think there’s enough evidence here to come to a reasonable conclusion…

      Without followers, terrible leaders are just terrible people.

      1. Does the same reasoning apply to other false teachers like Benny Hinn, Ken Copland, Jakes, and numerous others? It seems that all one needs to do is put up a soap box and preach and there is no shortage of willing listeners to follow. There are plenty of false churches and false leaders around for one to listen to. The Noble Bereans used the Bible to determine truth from error.

        1. I think the answer is “yes”. Religious freedom in America means that both good guys and bad guys get to form churches and lead ministries. Since the US government has shown very little interest in holding these 501c3 organizations accountable to truly operate as charities, and since there is very little to no accountability for many pastors within their own churches and organizations, individual people are tasked with making up their own minds about who they consider to be trustworthy and qualified.

          That’s why a organization like the Roy’s Report is so important. It helps to bring some accountability to people and organizations that usually operate with none – simply by reporting on them. With better information, people can make informed choices about who they support and who they don’t.

  3. Why is it that Christian leaders who have fallen from grace. when they talk about learning humility still seem to believe they deserve to continue to work in a well paid leadership role? Don’t they have enough humility to understand that they’re not the only one’s qualified for the job? It often seems that way.

    True humility would involve some actual sacrifice. How about taking a job helping to run an orphanage in Haiti, or serving on the streets with a homeless ministry, or teaching kids in one of the many refugee camps around the world instead?. Millions of Christians do this type of work every day of their lives completely unrecognized for their sacrifice. What better way for a disgraced leader to learn humility than to work among them?

    But now, the gravy train awaits, and the passengers are all waiting for you to get back on board.

  4. As long as there is money to be made in ministry the various men written about on this site will find a way to remain in ministry.

    1. Exactly!

      Capitalizing on his name….as opposed to a call of God…like a few other Juniors we could mention…😖😖

  5. Why would you name your church Sovereign Grace when there’s already a denomination by that name, especially when there’s some serious issues associated with that denomination? Just figured that the name Sovereign Grace was already tainted so you might as well add your own flavor of baggage to the mix?

    Why do these guys continue in this line of work when they’ve already sacrificed any credibility pursuing their selfish, sinful desires? Do they not have any technical or trade schools in Indiana where he could acquire skills for a real, honest job?

  6. This guy clearly has issues and I pray he recover. My issue is why serious Bible believing people would want to come under someone with issues like this. That’s the real head scratcher to me. This is why questionable people like this are able to make ministry a “career.”

  7. I think discernment is to be used concerning the ministry of Sproul Jr. The Bible teaches that one can be disqualified based on the Pastoral Epistles. However, duration is not discussed.

    There seems to be an unbiblical, biased and subjective reasoning to support some of the perspectives on RC. The harshness on the internet and the many who judge motives (not actions) of Sproul Jr. is concerning. The church is quick on casting judgment and slow to use discernment and prayer.

    I wonder, prior to the publication of the articles published on this site. Do the staff/writers (under the umbrella of the Roys’ ministry) pray for the individuals being written about? Do they pray for the content of every article to help with the restoration of the Body of Christ? “Reporting the truth and restoring the church.” That’s the mission!

    I know that the Apostle Paul, Apostle Peter, John-Mark, King David, Moses, Abraham, the Immoral woman (Luke 7:36-50), Barnabas, Elijah, Sampson, Eve, Job and James (1/2 brother of Jesus) would all be devoured by articles and the World Wide Web. Seriously, this is sad what is happening.

    I have emailed this ministry twice to ask questions as to why there are zero Pastors, Christian authors or biblically trained people on the board of this ministry. It is fine for these articles to be written and questions asked. The same standard needs to be applied for The Roys Report. Dear individuals in the church I have Gospel based fellowship with are donating or wish to donate to this ministry. I have yet to receive a response. I have Biblical questions for Julie. Where does she stand on certain Biblical issues? It is not attacking her. But I have responsibility for those in my care. I hope to receive a response soon. She is clear that she reports newsworthy things. The restoration of the church premise begs my questions from a biblical perspective. I think the James MacDonald posts are unbiblical and uncalled for. My aim is the opposite. Especially if her biblical convictions are strong. Champion those convictions.

    Returning to this article. Stop and pray. Look at the characters in the Bible.Flawed individuals who at sometimes were used for ministry quickly after sin or falling from the biblical mandates. That’s where the Gospel permeates the heart and turns lives around. I need to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Judge by the same standard that I judge.

    The doctrine of imputation is so important concerning this story. If Sproul is a follower of Jesus Christ, then the perfect righteousness of Christ has been imputed on RC. At the same time, his sin was imputed on Christ. So, when God looks at RC and sees His Son Jesus Christ. He states the same truth He did in the Matthew 3:17. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased with”. He sees the finished work of Christ on RC’s behalf. The answer to every problem is the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ . Jesus has RC from the wrath of His Heavenly Father. So, the Godhead takes sin very seriously. So should we.

    The amazing hope is that Jesus restores His followers to ministry. He did it in the Bible and it’s my prayer that he does it in RC. My prayer is that as Followers of Christ, we really examine what we have been saved from and saved for. The other day, I heard on Julie’s podcast in reference to the past. That when sin is dealt with, we do not have to bring up our dirty laundry. Our laundry is clean. Amen!

    1. Ah, yes, grace! For those who hate accountability playing the grace card is a slick way to shame the “unforgiving” into silence while casting the Bible itself in the trash. Say for example the biblical requirements for gospel ministry (1 Timothy 3, etc.), none of which Junior comes anywhere close to meeting. RC Jr has never met a single one of those biblically-mandated moral qualifications, and he still doesn’t. If his name weren’t “Sproul” he never would have gotten that Pastor Platinum Card in the first place.

      Contrary to your solicitations for grace and forgiveness this has zero to do with grace or forgiveness. It’s about accountability and biblical standards for the office of pastor, minister, teacher, etc. But it goes further. As this article so clearly shows, it’s also about RC Jr’s hypocrisy and mendacity. For RC Jr to set himself up to “train up men of godly character” presupposes he can set such an example himself. It presupposes he possesses godly character himself and can prove it by his personal track record. But as Spinderella Sproul put it, “Were RC Sproul Jr ever to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award it would have to be for, ‘Most Lifetime Scandals By A Pastor/Minister’.”

      If RC Jr has genuinely repented for his unremitting moral dumpster fire of a life then, yes, God has forgiven him. We don’t know his heart so that’s between him and his God. What’s between him and the body of Christ however is whether or not he’s morally qualified for Christian ministry. His own track record proves he’s not. He needs to sit down, shut up, and take a seat in the pew next to the rest of us. He also needs to stop leaching off the body of Christ and get an honest secular day job where any further scandals he perpetrates won’t bring further reproach to the name of Jesus.

      1. Couldn’t have responded to KC better! The grace “Get Out Of Jail Free” card these evangelical leaders always pull when they get caught drives me crazy.

        1. Actually that’s not what I said. I never said the get out of jail free charge. I only stated by the means used here all the characters in the Bible would be in trouble as well. But as usual people on this page just take a piece of what is said and creates a false dichotomy.

  8. “Sproul described the venture as ‘an attempt to absolutely provide for an educated clergy but also to recognize that the qualities that define the elder according to the word of God are character qualities’.” Wow! Hurts to read that. But it confirms RC Jr is devoid of any sense of introspection and self-reflection. At times like these perhaps the best thing is a little humor? So I’ll repost a satirical (albeit entirely true) comment from another blog:

    Ministerial Expert Rev. Pastor Dr. RC Sproul Jr, D.Min. is now available for consultations with ministers embroiled in scandals. Areas of damage control expertise include, but not limited to, DUI (booze and opioids), online adultery accounts, sexting, pedophile coverups, tax fraud, identity theft, pilfering church coffers, fundraising scams, travel expense scams, church keggers, plying minor children with booze, spiritual abuse, bullying congregants, defrockings, and so much more. Rev. Pastor Dr. Sproul Jr provides guidance in pretend-repenting as you arrange being suspended, with full pay. A year later you can return from suspension/paid-vacation as you arrange the terms of your “restoration,” along with a pay raise. Should any scandal be of a criminal nature Rev. Pastor Dr. Sproul Jr will counsel you how to resign “for personal reasons” while arranging a massive severance package. Rev. Pastor Dr. Sproul Jr will further guide you how to arrange a steady six-figure paycheck as an independent contractor from the ministry you pretend “resign” from. After waiting a year or so for the dust to settle (i.e. memories of your scandals begin to fade) Rev. Pastor Dr. RC Sproul Jr can guide you how to incorporate a 501c3 “church,” appoint yourself as its “Pastor,” and declare yourself “restored,” all because God forgives you. As the head of your very own “church” you can solicit donations to pretend-construct a church building. Not that any donations will be escrowed for construction costs though. Just use them to pay yourself a massive six-figure salary. It may not be ethical or moral, but it’s all legal. Faux-repentance is your key to success. Family connections (nepotism) further enhance your odds of success. For a fee schedule contact RC Sproul Jr via his Ashley Madison account email: [email protected]

    1. You are spot in here! All of the things you mention are true and can be validated. It is very sad but we have to share the truth about wolves who fleece the sheep. He will not commit to what he now teaches about baptism. I asked. He now has switched to a position of supporting tongue gifts and all the other gifts he did not support before. His wife believes in dreams and teaching women how to interpret them.

  9. Christopher Hanley

    Preachers, don’t name your son Junior. This rarely works. In fact, discourage your boy from going into the ministry. Just asking for trouble.

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