R.C. Sproul Changed His View on Abuse as Grounds for Divorce – but to our knowledge he never publicly announced that change

If R.C. Sproul had truly cared about victims of domestic abuse he would have announced his change of mind on divorce for abuse a long time ago.

As most of you are aware by now, R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries died December 14th, 2017. I (Jeff) personally benefited greatly from his teaching ministry. It was through his teaching tapes and resources that I came to understand and embrace Reformed Theology or what is often called “the doctrines of grace.” We still have most all of Sproul’s audio and video tape materials in our church library and I highly recommend them.

There was, however, a vital point of practical theology (besides infant baptism) on which I parted ways with him. Sproul taught that abuse was not biblical grounds for divorce. He limited those grounds to adultery, or desertion of a Christian spouse by a non-Christian spouse. You can see his positions documented in this blog post at A Cry for Justice and read exactly what R.C. taught as the biblical grounds for divorce. With R.C.’s passing, it is appropriate to revisit the interactions we at ACFJ had with him in 2012.

In October 2012, A Cry for Justice mailed R.C. Sproul a copy of Barbara Roberts’ book Not Under Bondage, accompanied by a letter encouraging him to re-think his teaching that domestic abuse was not biblical grounds for divorce. The letter shown in the picture above was received by me (Jeff) from R.C. as thanks for that book and letter.

You will notice that Dr. Sproul said that his view on this subject had changed and that as a result he was “more of like mind” with Barbara and myself. That change, he said, was the product of further study on his part of the meaning of the Greek word, porneia. Vast amounts of ink have been spilled over that little word which Jesus used, for example in the Sermon on the Mount, here translated in the ESV as ‘sexual immorality’ —

 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  (Matt 5:31-32)  [Emphasis added.]

Dr Sproul’s letter was, as you can imagine, very encouraging to us at ACFJ and we knew that it would also be a boost to our readers who would be quite thankful to him. As a result, we posted his letter on the ACFJ blog and reader comments began to pour in, all very positive toward Sproul. To encourage him and express our thanks to him, I, Jeff, sent him copies of many of those reader comments. In response, this is the letter I received back from Dr Sproul:

I appreciate your passing on to me the posts you received from my letter to you. The people were kind in their responses. Though I didn’t say anything I wanted to remain private in my short letter to you, I believe it would have been appropriate for you to have asked my permission before posting it as it was private correspondence between us. Thank you for passing on the posts.

Now, I admit, I have not spent my pastoral career mixing it up in the circles that Ligonier and Dr. Sproul and others have. I am not versed in accepted protocol in such situations, and therefore it never entered my mind that there would be any problem announcing Sproul’s position change. Well, I apologized to him, we took down the blog post, and we encouraged him to publicly announce his changed position on biblical grounds for divorce. Barbara Roberts also wrote to R.C. to thank him and encourage him to publicly announce his changed position:

20 October 2012

Dear Dr Sproul,

Pastor Jeff Crippen forwarded me your kind letter regarding my book. I know you must be a very busy man. Thank you very much for writing and especially for letting us know that you are probably of somewhat similar views to Ps Crippen and myself regarding divorce for domestic abuse.

Since you have changed your mind on the doctrine of divorce, would it be possible for you to write an article explaining what you now believe? William Heth did that some years ago when he disavowed the position he’d taken with Gordon Wenham when they co-authored Jesus and Divorce.

You are no doubt familiar with Heth’s article “Jesus on Divorce: How My Mind Has Changed” which can be found in the SBJT 2002 Spring No. 2, or at Jesus on Divorce: How My Mind Has Changed [Internet Archive link].

It would be immensely helpful to survivors of domestic abuse if your revised doctrine on divorce were more widely known.  Many victims and survivors of abuse are suffering under restrictive teaching – teaching that I believe is unbiblical – regarding their liberty to divorce abusive spouses.

If you ever use the internet, you can read about the theological dilemmas survivors are experiencing at the blog A Cry For Justice which Ps Crippen and I write together. The internet address is cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com.

If you write a “How My Mind Has Changed On Divorce” article, we would love to hear about it and would publicise it as widely as we can.


Barbara Roberts
Author of Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion

Here is the reply Barb received from V A Voorhis as Assistant to the Chairman of Ligonier Ministries:

Dear Ms Roberts,
Your letter to Dr Sproul arrived in his absence from this office. Unfortunately his schedule precludes his writing an article on his present view of divorce at this time.

I do know he has given his copy of your book to a woman suffering mental abuse by her husband. So he is pleased to have it to direct people to.

Dr Sproul doesn’t have a computer and therefor is unable to read the article you referenced.

Thank you for writing and for your book.


R.C. didn’t have a computer. Oh for Pete’s sake. Someone at Ligonier had a computer — and a printer!! R.C. could have had William Heth’s article printed out.

That made it clearer to us. R.C. Sproul did not WANT his view on divorce to be widely known. He had changed his view to at least be more lenient toward abuse victims, but he wouldn’t come out and say it. Ligonier’s reply confirmed our theory that there is a pervasive atmosphere of a company line that for political reasons people like Sproul won’t buck.

Sproul was quite happy to give Barb’s book to a victim but (shhh….”don’t tell anyone I endorse this book”).

If R.C. Sproul had truly cared about victims he would have announced his change of mind on divorce for abuse. But to our knowledge, R.C. Sproul never made that announcement. If anyone reading this post is aware of a lecture he gave or a book he wrote that corrected his former teaching on divorce, please tell us. Not just a little thing he might have said where he faintly hinted that in the worst cases divorce might be allowed, but an explicit renunciation of what he had taught before.

And therefore the question remains — why would a theologian and pastor, especially a respected and famous one like R.C. whose writings and teachings have such a wide effect on so many people, not publicly correct his past teaching which he has now changed, or as he said, broadened? Especially in regard to a subject like this that affects the lives of so many oppressed people? It appears to us that there is tremendous pressure in the world of fame and notoriety to never admit error. And that is a very dangerous state for any of us to be in.

The Apostle Peter was publicly chastised by Paul. Much of the New Testament is written to call upon Christians, including pastors and Elders, to acknowledge their error (sin) and turn from it. But when was the last time you can recall one of the present day’s famous theologians or Bible teachers or pastors admitting “I was wrong. What I taught was wrong. Disregard what I said in that book I wrote”?

Whenever God’s people develop a climate in which error cannot be acknowledged and turned from, that climate desperately needs to change. Was it that R.C. didn’t fully grasp the nature and devastation caused by the domestic abuser hiding behind a Christian façade? So that he just didn’t see the need to address his past errors and present corrections as a real priority? Or is there some kind of immense pressure in those arenas of the church, such as Ligonier operates in, to avoid the risk and troubles required to expose evil in the church and to stand with its victims? Why this “Wall of Silence” as Dale and Faith Ingraham have termed it in regard to sexual abuse in the church?

Here is one final yet very crucial and freeing point for all of us to fully embrace. We state it in question form:

How can any pastor or theologian, counselor, local church session, presbytery, general assembly, or any individual dare to try to bind the consciences of God’s people on this subject when it is known that people like Sproul acknowledge that Scripture does indeed permit divorce for abuse?

That is to say, how can anyone assume authority to themselves (which God has not given them) to insist that everyone must adhere to their particular “take” that God forbids divorce for abuse? And do so even to the point of being willing to ex-communicate anyone who “disobeys” their position in spite of the fact that they know Christians are not in full agreement on this subject?

John Piper, are you listening? Jim Elliff, are you listening? Voddie Baucham, are you listening? No, you probably aren’t. But the rest of us are.

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.  (1 Tim 1:6-11  ESV)

[August 2, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to August 2, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 2, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 2, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 2, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading

When a church becomes a man’s world it has strayed from Christ’s model, and from His blessing [Internet Archive link] — By Jeff Crippen, Dec 22, 2017.

R.C. Sproul on Biblical Grounds for Divorce — By Jeff Crippen, March 2, 2012.

Keeping the Spotlight on Prominent Teachers Who Forbid Divorce for Abuse — By Jeff Crippen, March 30, 2012.

What about divorce? — Our FAQ page which has links to our most helpful posts about divorce.

Note: Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts have jointly written this post because we felt it important to set the record straight now that R.C. Sproul has passed away. But this doesn’t mean Jeff is rejoining ACFJ on an ongoing basis. Jeff resigned from A Cry For Justice in Sept 2017.


UPDATE  Sept 2021:  I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches.  He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

36 thoughts on “R.C. Sproul Changed His View on Abuse as Grounds for Divorce – but to our knowledge he never publicly announced that change”

  1. Ah, this is sad. I seem to remember Vision Forum selling a book called “Creation and Change” and advertising it with the information that it had changed RC Sproul’s mind on something. At the time, I thought that was a pretty good recommendation and read the book entirely because of RC Sproul appreciating it enough to question and consider his views which always seemed so carefully thoughtful and thorough. For RC to have made public a change on his understanding of divorce and abuse would have been wonderful and powerful.

    And this nonsense of highly connected authors not using computers (James Dobson says the same, last I’d heard) is a joke. The only reason they can live without a computer and do their job is that they have plenty of people using computers for them all day long. Sad.

  2. Also RC did not want to spar with the prominent view of divorce in his circle of friends and influence. Then he might have been cast out. I think that might be part of Gary Thomas’ reluctance to take it all the way. They will be branded as outsiders, heretics, etc. in the legalistic pre-eminent religious world.

  3. I remember when I first started to see through the “divorce mythology” that is so prevalent in our churches. It started with my own personal experiences and seeing things that didn’t fit with what I’d been taught. That was followed by a lot of Bible study and a lot of prayer and contemplation.

    Even after my view had begun to change, I didn’t mention it to anyone else for several years. I was still processing things….still learning….and I knew my emerging new perspective was quite different from what I’d been taught earlier. I was still sorting out my position, and certainly didn’t feel up to defending it. And I didn’t have a clear enough vision to even begin trying to clearly communicate it to someone else.

    Eventually, I decided to teach a series of Sunday School lessons on the topic. That helped me solidify my new perspective a bit and start figuring out how to share it with others.

    Later, I put the series of Sunday School lessons together into a little self-published book, and started blogging on related topics.

    So….I read this post with several conflicting emotions.

    I feel empathy for R.C. Sproul, in recognizing changes in theological perspective don’t always come quickly, and often take time to think through and pray about….especially when one knows the changes may be quite controversial.

    At the same time, I am also very aware of the pervasive blindness in so many of our churches. I am so thankful for this blog and others like it that continue to shine the light of God’s truth in dark places….that continue to take a stand and push for change….that continue to share God’s hope and encouragement with victims of abuse.

    And my perspective continues to evolve as I study, learn and encourage. Here is a recent post on my blog in which I use a fictional conversation between my horses as an allegory for God’s calling in our lives….a calling toward relationship rather than rules and exception clauses: Rules that Matter [Internet Archive link].

    Thank you, Barbara and Jeff, for all you do! You are very much appreciated! 🙂

    1. Joe, your allegory about the horses is great!

      I don’t cut R.C. any slack for being unsure about his change of mind on divorce — not after he had a copy of my book in his hands! If he had any residual uncertainties about his doctrine of divorce, he could have read my book, and Instone-Brewer’s book. The fact that he didn’t even bother to read my book but passed it on to a victim of abuse….that’s appalling.

      1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it, Barbara. 🙂 Sometimes, points are easier made using parables…. 😉

        I may have misunderstood some of the R.C. Sproul correspondence.

        Since he passed your book on to an abuse victim, I assumed he had read it and agreed with it enough to recommend it, even though he may have still been working through some of the details of refitting the puzzle pieces to a new paradigm on Biblical marriage and divorce.

  4. R.C. Sproul is not the only eminent man who passed my book on to a domestic abuse survivor but never publicly endorsed my book.

    I had a similar experience with Dr Bruce Winter. He is retired now but during his career he was a Tyndale House scholar and became one of the world’s foremost scholars on Corinthians. He is the author of After Paul Left Corinth, and Roman Wives, Roman Women. After he left Tyndale House he became the Principal of the Queensland Presbyterian Theological College. I attended a Presbyterian ministers’ conference in Melbourne where he was the keynote speaker, and gave him a copy of my book. He received it with enthusiasm. He told me that he would probably be asking me to talk to the students at the Queensland Theological College on the topic of domestic abuse. He never followed through with that. I emailed him politely several times. He said he had passed my book on to a survivor of abuse. But he never made any more noises about getting me to come and speak to his students.

    And I’ve had many similar instances from less famous men. Pastors who privately told me they’ve given my book to a survivor….but who never recommend my book to their fellow pastors.

    And the man who was a teacher at a Presbyterian Theological College and who helped edit my manuscript prior to it being published (while he was on sabbatical)….his editorial help was wonderful. And he liked what I had to say in my book. But has he ever actively promoted my book to his colleagues? Or to his students? I doubt it. And now he’s in an even more senior leadership position in the denomination.

    The last time I spoke to him I voiced my disappointment that the College he worked for had not promoted my book even when there were occasions — which I witnessed personally at the College — when pastors had specifically said they were deeply troubled about how to deal with cases of marriage breakdown in their own parishes. How did this man responded to my polite expression of disappointment that the College had not done more to let people know about my book? He said: “Well, now the book is published you probably just need to leave it to God to do what He wants with it.” In other words, he himself would do nothing. He was passing the buck to God.

    1. I think it comes down to misogyny, which colors just about everything in life. Plus, men get way more out of marriage than women and that’s the non-abusive ones. It’s reality. So, the “altar of marriage” is created and maintained. I really think most men who are not outraged by another man’s abuse of his wife are but fellow abusers.

      Our entire culture is so saturated in misogyny that it’s hard to see it because we are all indoctrinated in it from birth. You’re a woman, Barbara. That’s strike one. Strike two is you dare to give abused wives an outlet [out?], thus threatening to deprive the vast world’s male population of ready victims and wives to target….

      Almost everything is a men’s club — for men, by men. Empowering abused wives to get out of their bondage?? That’s enough of an offense / ‘sin’ to said men as to have your ‘man card’ revoked for life and become a pariah!

      My views might not be popular but I really think it is that simple. I really believe most Christian women have little to no idea as to how much men hate them, as they are indoctrinated and brainwashed into believing themselves to be forever faulty and they are the problem, having somehow failed to be ‘submissive’ / ‘obedient’ / ‘respectful’ enough….

      I think the guy didn’t want to lose his privilege. Who knows if he ever read your book.

    2. Now that you mention it, I’ve had similar responses to my book. Several pastors have read it. Some opposed it. Some liked it and shared it with some people they counseled. But only one or two have openly endorsed it.

      Actually, the most consistent endorsement has been from professional counselors with a Christian background.

      I’m not sure why so many pastors seem really slow to openly endorse a book. I suspect part of it is they feel the need to refrain from endorsing any books unless they personally agree 100% with every word written in the book. And….I’m sure….part of it is they’d like to avoid controversy if they can.

      1. Admittedly, I haven’t read any of the books as I don’t have the means to get such but I read this blog and watched Barbara’s YouTube videos, especially her fascinating presentation about the Levite’s wife and Judges 19-21. Awesome stuff. All of this is just mind-blowing, soul-freeing, content that rings true.

        I think your book wasn’t promoted because of the content. This blog, the content, your views, Jeff’s views, the whole spiel is so revolutionary….Christian women brought up in conservative households have been brainwashed and indoctrinated with pretty much everything contrary. All these man-made traditions, beliefs, worldviews, legalistic, hierarchical, misogynistic rituals, catch-phrases, nonsense theories….

        It’s my personal estimation and opinion that for every 100 churchgoers, 10 are probably actual Christians, AT MAX. For every 100 ‘Christian’ books, especially the self-help, counseling ones, maybe 1 or 2 have something worthy to say.

        I read. A LOT. And I never came across the content and worth-more-than-gold AWESOME wisdom in 100s upon 100s of books, online articles, etc. that has been so highly concentrated and freely featured and shared here in this blog. Thank the Good Lord for you all!

        Abuse is soul murder. This is life and death stuff. Maybe someone doesn’t end up physically fed through the wood chipper by the abuser-‘husband’ but her soul, mind, spirit, emotional well-being, and overall health has been, time and time again fed through it. The last thing any victimized woman needs to hear is, “God hates divorce” / “pray harder, try harder” / “be more submissive”, or other nonsense.

        Your books ought to be required reading, assuming their content is what I’ve been blessed to find on this blog and see in your YouTube presentation, Barbara! It ought to be a New York Times bestseller.

        Evil comes in human form and abusers are so cunning. Abuse is probably one of the most important things in a Christian’s life. How many women end up murdered? How many end up being induced into suiciding? How many develop drug or alcohol problems to deal with the pain and terror? How many kids are ruined by suffering abuse and being exposed to the abuser?

        Divorce is a gift from God if married to a monster who is set on killing you or getting you to kill yourself.

      2. Anonymous —

        I absolutely agree. Divorce is a gift from God to those in need of escaping a covenant that has become abusive slavery. That is what I say in my book.

        May God continue to richly bless you! 🙂

      3. Joe, I don’t want to argue with you here, but just wanted to point out that in my experience, pastors are extremely eager and quick to endorse books, often ones they’ve never read or have only given a quick glance over. That is, if the book is written by one of the celebrity pastors people drool over now (John Piper, Kevin DeYoung, etc.) or is being promoted by a conference (my church belonged to Sovereign Grace Ministries and I recall several books being promoted at conferences with near hysteria that were by never-heard-of authors and the books themselves were only 40 pages long with big print and the content was utter crap, but they were all the rage because they had the word “Gospel” in the title and were promoted by CJ Mahaney). I recall my own local pastors promoting books and standing up in front of the congregation or the young adult’s Bible study or at Youth Camp and recommending books. But then I would read one of them and go up to a pastor and strike up a conversation about the book and what I thought of it, and would find out to my surprise and confusion that the pastor had no idea what I was talking about — they felt they understood the gist of the message of the book and that was enough to recommend it (because after all, it was about the Gospel) but they had never read it. I don’t expect pastors to read every book that’s out there, and maybe not even every book they recommend, but honestly it happened so often I began to wonder if they read any books at all!!

        When I was studying divorce and abuse in the Bible in order to learn what God would have me do about my abusive marriage, I invited my pastors to be a part of the process with me. I thought I was being respectful by assuming that they don’t have a lot of extra time and that they were not heavily read in the area of abuse, and so I recommended several books to them with the intent of being helpful. One was Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That”, to which I was told “the Bible is sufficient and has everything we need to know for life and godliness”, meaning the secular book based on secular research on the practice of domestic abuse was superfluous information compared to what the Bible tells us. This was from my pastor who was formerly a police officer, which really baffled me. He must have been an awfully uninformed police officer when dealing with DV cases. I gave my other pastor Barbara’s book “Not Under Bondage” and was later given it back, being told that it was quite dense and hard to read and that it was one view on divorce but that “it’s not about which view of divorce sounds better — it’s about what the Bible says.” Which I take to mean he read or understood very little of Barbara’s book, because if you read even a few pages you realize Barbara’s book is ALL ABOUT what the Bible says.

        So all that being said, I do feel there are pretty obvious patterns of eagerness to endorse certain books and authors and not others. I would not be surprised in the slightest if there was sexism involved, but I’m not sure that’s the best answer. There are some women who are “in” such as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth or Mary Kassian, and others who are clearly “out.” To me it seems more like a club of fashion, connection, and disgusting displays of mutual flattery for gain. If you’re willing to grovel and flatter the right people and you somehow have the right connections and an approved theology, then you can be “in” too regardless of your gender. I do however think that many Christian men despise Christian women, devalue them, and objectify Christian women just as much or even more than secular men do. Misogyny is alive and well in the church.

      4. Very good points, Heather Black (Formerly H)!

        You’re right. I too have heard pastors recommend books or movies with seemingly little research into what they said.

        It does seem to often have more to do with reputation and / or lack of perceived controversy than with real study or prayer on the subject material.

        And, yes, there are certainly areas of definite misogyny with today’s church.

        Thank you for pointing this out and sharing your experiences.

      5. Barb, he didn’t. 🙂 He was a SGM pastor and the majority of them never had to go through a seminary to be ordained.

  5. I have spent some time in analytics, particularly in the field of healthcare technology as an innovator (of sorts). For a new product to be wildly successful – it has to be disruptive in some way. Entrepreneurs who are successful, bring to market items that are disruptive. They have ideas that are new and counter-cultural. While they are excited about their product, it is scary and uncomfortable work. After years of effort and scraping together a meager existence, the eventual pay off can be enormously profitable.

    I see the same dynamics at play here. For a celebrity pastor / author to embrace this idea of divorce being grounded in Scripture and further promote that concept by writing a book, preaching, giving lectures, penning an article — it would be very uncomfortable, widely unpopular and extremely disruptive to the current Christian “culture” in which they reside.

    Take this a step further and follow the money trail. Some of these organizations (like Gary Thomas) earn a living through marriage seminars. To be that disruptive in the Christian marketplace could be seen as a threat to their livelihood. What will become of their seminars? Workshops? Counseling sessions? Book deals? Weekend Retreats….if they now promote divorce for abandonment, abuse and adultery….rather than reconciliation at all cost?

    In fact, should they choose to embrace the concept that divorce might be the right choice in certain conditions, it could become a costly enterprise. The story is no longer a “happy ending” transformation with glossy print. They cannot brag about how many marriages were saved and fade the slide deck as couples walk off into the sunset.

    To fully embrace this as a new ministry….well, it gets messy and dark and heavy. The story changes. The statistics shift. The focus narrows. The cost goes UP rather than their profit margins. They may have to reconsider their own cost of living and take a considerable pay cut. They might be….uncomfortable.

    There is now safety to consider.

    They have to admit they are under-educated (questions they don’t have answers for), outnumbered (more victims than they ever realized), under-resourced (how to truly help those who are suffering in ways that matter), heart-broken (oh, the stories) and unpopular among their peers. Because they will be….unpopular. Wildly so. Maybe even abandoned. Just like those they are desirous of helping. And, really, who wants that?

    Yes, most will avoid being disruptive. They lack courage and vision. Thank you, Barbara and Jeff, for being brave enough to be disruptive.

    1. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Thank you, Charis, very much.

      For those of you who use Twitter, you might like to look at the unpopularity Jeff and I faced on Twitter when I tweeted this news about Sproul. It came from all quarters: those who I consider my allies in some things (but they are not allies in teaching about divorce for abuse), a female victim of domestic abuse, and several men who denounced us for a range of things including our timing of publishing the post….

      The most disappointing part was where people who I thought were my sort of allies (on some things) admonished me or liked other’s admonishments of me.

      But I can’t stop speaking the truth as I see it. Nor can I cease being an advocate for the victims / survivors.

      1. I don’t use Twitter so I can’t see what backlash came your way but if the timing is being picked at….I have two comments:

        (1) The timing is never acceptable. Look at the similar arguments given by oppressors to the oppressed, tone-policing being one example. I think the timing is great, as one’s death prompts general interest and attention anyhow.

        (2) If the argument is, “don’t speak negatively of the deceased” then my response is let’s have some honesty re-injected back into our lives. This whole nonsense theology of niceness-above-all is quicksand, man-made, and helps evildoers continue with their wickedness. I don’t think everyone should suddenly become the most magnificent, unflawed, magical person who ever graced the earth JUST BECAUSE THEY DIED. It’s ridiculous.

        Keep on Barbara, as you speak truth and the righteous are to be bold as lions. Preach, sister, preach! 🙂

        It’s painful to find out additional dross in your life. Sorry that you’re dealing with backlash.

        Charis has good points. I think it ultimately comes down to money and privilege. Money, power, being celebrated by greater numbers, and comfort. John the Baptist lived in the desert and yet baptized great numbers, affecting how many lives in a most meaningful way. The celebrity-‘pastors’ today who churn out annual fluff, ‘C’hristian-living books that are bestsellers, who live in mansions complete with helicopter pads, air-conditioned, luxury doghouses, 15 vehicles and other insane excesses, are not changing lives but rather making coin from exploiting, conning, etc.

        Not Under Bondage? God won’t send me to hell for not staying with my abuser until death as divorce is permitted in situations of abuse and desertion (in addition to adultery)?? RADICAL! What a life-changing, Biblically-sound, concept! To the rooftops we shall go as shouting is in order!

      2. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


        On the ‘timing’ issue, some folks had a go at us because R. C. Sproul’s funeral was the day after we published this post. I pointed out to them that part of the reason for our timing was that Christmas was imminent and we didn’t want to wait till after people resurfaced from their Christmas holidays.

        I’ve been thinking a bit about this passage:

        And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59-62 NASB1995)

        Jeff and I both grieve that R. C. has passed. We both honour him for the good things he taught.

        And we respect that his family will be grieving. But is that the only element to take into consideration with a man who has been so eminent in Reformed circles? James 3:1 shows that teachers in the church will be held to a stricter standard. And the book of James says a great deal about the power of the tongue to do evil or to do good. R. C. Sproul could have done so much more good for the church — and for victims / survivors of domestic abuse — if he had publicly declared that he had changed his thinking on divorce for abuse.

  6. I remember that when RC changed his eschatology to become a Postmillennialist and a Partial Preterist that he did publish a book to update his position on eschatology. Of course that book is entitled: The Last Days According to Jesus. So at least on that issue he did publicly state his new position. But you are so right when you point out how difficult it generally is for well-known preachers to change something they have put out a lot of material on previously. I am happy to say that RC did have the courage to do that in regard to the change in his eschatology.

  7. After learning of R.C. Sproul’s passing, I waited to allow myself time to pray about and assess my initial (mixed) reaction. I read this post, then other blogs’ posts and comments, including those on Twitter.

    I appreciate the impact of Dr. Sproul’s Reformed teaching on my life. His RYM [Renew Your Mind] radio sermons come across as dignified, reverential addressing of God and exploration of His work (in stark contrast to the flippant, circus-like tone that is so popular today). I still plan on reading his book on Romans someday.

    It also appeared that he truly loved and cherished his wife. (That helped me get through the more distasteful aspects of his teaching on headship in marriage.)

    However, when thinking about his going to his grave with NEVER having publicly announced his change of accepting abuse as grounds for divorce, my anger rises.

    Dr. Sproul’s decision not to do so sorely let down “the least of these My brethren.” He WASN’T the Good Samaritan to myriads of women and children trapped in abusive homes (and churches), but was more like the Levite and priest who just walked past the brutalized victim.

    He WASN’T like little Samuel who confronted Eli over his winking at his reprobate sons’ behavior in the temple, but was more like Eli in not dealing with his namesake son for years….which included ungodly and abusive behavior towards congregants, his (late) wife, and their 7 children. (Just 2 links: R.C. Sproul, Jr. Steps Down from Ligonier Ministries and Reformation Bible College [Internet Archive link]. And Spinderella Sproul: Lessons In Spin With RC Sproul Jr [Internet Archive link]. 2006, R.C. Sproul, Jr. defrocked; 2011, Denise Sproul died of cancer; 2015, Ashley Madison scandal; 2016, DUI with 2 of his minor children in the car, ending in Dec. 2016 being fired from Ligonier Ministries.)

    To critics of Jeff and Barb over their “bad timing” and not being considerate of the grieving family: 1) I highly doubt the family has been following any social media these past 2 weeks. But ACFJ IS trying to reach those currently living in hell-on-earth. 2) The timing for R.C. to speak up had passed LONG AGO for myriads of women and children in abusive homes (and churches), and in his own family. At this point, the most I can hope for is that someday his 7 grandchildren (the children of the late Denise and R.C., Junior) discover this blog where TRUTH is spoken fearlessly and love is offered to victims. Perhaps they can then begin to be set free and heal from abuse, domestic and spiritual. (Being in a car driven by one’s very drunk father is definitely a type of abuse with a backstory, some details of which can found in the above links.)

    Calling out false teachings and exposing cowardice and the love of man’s praise (and a tidy income)….the timing will never be “good” or socially acceptable.

    (P.S., If the critics need to vent some righteous indignation, how about directing some at John MacArthur for disgracing R.C’s funeral by even showing up, in light of HIS recently exposed handling of horribly victimized women. Do You Hear Me? [Internet Archive link] and Do You See Me? [Internet Archive link] But then, his presence just validates Jeff’s observation of the problems which arise in the thoroughly “man’s world” in which R.C. lived and breathed.)

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that link, I had never heard that account before. It’s extremely disturbing. What is most disturbing I think is the shift between how the men she told acted at first, which seemed fairly appropriate, to this sudden change with no explanation to deny, minimize, shift blame, intimidate, or simply ignore. What happened to cause that shift? I’ve seen it before in my life and in the stories of other victims. It’s blindsiding, and needs explaining.

      It’s easier as a victim to deal with people who don’t respond well: educated them and then cut them off if necessary. But when someone seems to understand and be supportive, and then you part ways and the next time you see them they are an adversary and you have no idea why….that begs for an explanation.

  8. I’d be interested to know what RC Sproul said about how his views changed and what he found out about the meaning of the word “pornea”. Marriage permanence folks rest at least some of their stance on the idea that “pornea” means sexual sin by persons not married or betrothed and point to the passage where sins that will exclude one from heaven are listed, with fornication and adultery listed separately, to say that “pornea” does not mean adultery.

    1. I too would like to know more about how RC Sproul’s views on divorce changed. In my view it is reprehensible that he did not publicly state his change of mind. By keeping it close to his chest, I would venture to guess that he let down many victims of marital mistreatment.

      Kind of Anonymous said:

      Marriage permanence folks rest at least some of their stance on the idea that “pornea” means sexual sin by persons not married or betrothed and point to the passage where sins that will exclude one from heaven are listed, with fornication and adultery listed separately, to say that “pornea” does not mean adultery.

      I didn’t encounter that argument when I was researching for writing my book. It sounds like a hair-splitting, gnat-sieving argument.

      1. Hi, Barb.
        Re the argument: I’ve come across it a lot in conjunction with those who teach marriage indissolubility. They also believe that the one flesh relationship is metaphysical and not just physical / sexual, and cannot be broken except by death. One odd thought I have about it as I wrestle with these things, is that although these same folks say they don’t believe in OSAS (Once Saved, Always Saved), it would seem in a way that they produce the same outcome with the idea that a marriage cannot be dissolved.

        Regarding RC Sproul’s change of heart: I wonder if Jeff would know what RC said on what changed his views, and if he’d be able to share it in some way, since he had posted something from him and then was asked to take it down by RC. Just wondering. 🙂

  9. As you stated in your other post [R.C. Sproul on Biblical Grounds for Divorce — Another Aaaaargh!],

    I do not believe Sproul understands abuse.

    That lack of understanding, or I might argue willful ignorance, seems to have been passed down to his son. RC Sproul Jr has been exposed for physically abusing his children and wife [Internet Archive link]1. But of course RC Jr justifies it as “biblical discipline.” No surprise that when he was defrocked for bullying his congregants and threatening them with excommunication for not bowing down to his autocratic demands he justified his tyrannies as “church discipline.” Amazing how ecclesiastical tyrants can always find a way of justifying themselves.

    1[September 4, 2022: We added the link to the article, RC Sproul Jr and Child Abuse Allegations, mentioned and referred to by Geoff. The Internet Archive link is a copy of that article. Editors.]

    1. Thank you very much, Geoff. 🙂

      I apologise for taking a while to moderate your comment. I wanted to read the article you linked to before I published your comment. What is said in the article is consistent with other things I know about R C Sproul’s evil behaviour.

    2. The comment by Geoff (14TH MARCH 2021 – 2:49 PM) contains a link to an article about RC Sproul Jr..

      When I read through the linked article on RC Sproul Jr., I was reminded of a book I started reading a number of years ago.

      To keep my comment relatively short: In the linked RC Sproul Jr. article there is an indented section that occurs after the sentence:

      What follows is the eye-witness account of how blanket training and self-comfort was carried out in RC Sproul Jr’s home:

      The details contained in the article on blanket training were what helped bring to my mind the book I had started reading a number of years ago….a book that was published when RC Sproul Jr. was only 8 years old.

      The child-rearing techniques described in the beginning of the book were unnecessarily harsh….and while I do not remember all of the details, one son committed suicide and another son dealt with mental health issues. (At one point, the man with mental health issues was labelled “paranoid schizophrenic”.)

      And if I remember correctly, one of the issues the man with mental health issues wrestled with was to whom he should be obedient — his human father or God the Father.

      How many people have mental health issues as a result of the kind of harsh upbringing described above? And why do some people who have had a harsh upbringing appear to have so few mental health issues?

      Sometimes parents are blamed for (almost) everything. And sometimes parents are not held accountable for any of the damage caused (unintentionally or intentionally) to their children.

      And, in so many cases, God is blamed for everything.

      (Perhaps these are examples of why some people have difficulty in thinking of God as anything other than an angry and / or punishing God….)

  10. Thanks for this post. Thanks also for mentioning Piper. I have not heard of you in my healing journey. I will look, but did you have a post about Gary Thomas — he did change his opinion.

    1. Hi, Victim_no_more, we currently have four posts that mention Gary Thomas. Two of our posts are reviews of Gary Thomas’s books. The comments threads in those two posts discuss Gary Thomas supposed “changed of mind”. My impression is that he changed his mind a bit, but he didn’t change it enough to make me think he really gets it now.

      Here are the two posts which review Gary’s books. You will need to dig into the comments on the posts. 🙂

      Gary Thomas’s book “Sacred Marriage” — a review by Avid Reader

      “Sacred Influence: What a Man Needs from His Wife to Be the Husband She Wants” — a review by Avid Reader

      By the way, if you ever have questions like ‘Do you have such and such’ on this blog, type a few key words into the search bar and you will probably find posts that answer your questions.

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