- R.C. Sproul was for years professor of systematic theology and apologetics at
Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida (where one can "receive
professional training that integrates Reformed theology and superior psychological
research.") He is now Professor of Theology and Apologetics at
Knox Theological Seminary in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary as well. He is also the founder
and chairman of Ligonier Ministries (circa 1974) in Orlando ("designed to fill the
gap between Sunday school and seminary"); Ligonier has more than 50
employees. Sproul has also authored over 50 books, recorded hundreds of
messages on video and audio cassette, and has a daily radio broadcast,
"Renewing Your Mind," heard on more than 300 outlets nationwide and
throughout 120 countries. Sproul also
publishes a monthly "Bible study" magazine (Tabletalk),
conducts conferences and seminars, and sells his and others videos, audios, and
books. On Sproul's
"Renewing Your Mind Online" website, he touts ministry endorsements by such
D. James Kennedy,
Elisabeth Elliot, Ravi Zacharias, Jerry Bridges, and Joni Eareckson Tada.
- Sproul has fully endorsed the general teachings and counseling model of so-called Christian psychologist, Dr. Larry Crabb. [Crabb's model of counseling is primarily a psychological system of unconscious needs motivating behavior, which is derived from Freudian (the unconscious being a hidden reservoir of the mind with drives and impulses which govern a person's thinking and behavior) and humanistic psychology (with its hierarchy of needs, with great emphasis on so-called emotional needs).] Evidence of this endorsement comes from Sproul's October 1989, Tabletalk interview with Dr. Crabb ("Dealing With Sexual Sin: A Perspective on Guilt and Sexuality from Dr. Larry Crabb," pp. 6-10), and a pull-out advertisement for a Larry Crabb' book (Inside Out) in the same Tabletalk issue.
- Sproul endorses the general teachings of psychologist James Dobson, particularly Dobson's teachings on self-esteem/self-love/self-image. Sproul has not only published articles by Dobson in his ministry's Tabletalk publication (e.g., see the December 1988 issue for Dobson's article, "Little Ones to Him Belong," in which Dobson's main point is that an important fringe benefit of Christianity is that one obtains an additional source of self-esteem), but also espouses Dobson's selfism philosophy in his own writings as well (e.g., see the 10/89 issue of Tabletalk, "Who We Really Are," and the 10/25/89 InterAct devotional).
- Sproul endorsed Bill Hybels' 1990 book Honest to God, saying, "Bill Hybels has an exciting and contagious faith." Hybels is a psychologizer (e.g., he extols the virtues of Jungian personality theory and "journaling" in Honest to God), and is one of the leaders in the unbiblical "church growth" movement.) Sproul also recommends Christ in Christmas ("An Advent devotional guide for the whole family. Features articles by R.C., Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson ...") and Christ in Easter ("An Easter devotional guide for the whole family. Features articles by Charles Colson, Max Lucado, Billy Graham ...").
- R.C. Sproul publicly endorsed Hugh Ross's book, Creation and Time, which is a polemic for progressive creationism/theistic evolution, and thereby, is a denial of orthodox Christianity's literal/factual/historical interpretation of the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis. This NavPress published book also openly attacks the creation movement and the major people involved (2/26/96, Christian News).
From this endorsement, we can only assume that R.C. Sproul agrees with Ross's evolutionary philosophy. Among other things, Ross teaches that the Earth is billions of years old and that physical death fully existed long before Adam. (But would not this belief cause the doctrines of sin and salvation to fall? If death and bloodshed preceded Adam's rebellion against God, then what are "the wages of sin" and how did the entrance of sin change things? And if death preceded sin, then death is not the penalty for sin, and Christ's death on the cross accomplished nothing!) Since such evolutionary and old-earth thinking is totally incompatible with the work of Christ, should it not be a requirement that the head of a major so-called "apologetic" ministry be a literal creationist?
- In a 3/88 Eternity editorial, Sproul promoted a raunchy movie staring Barbara
Streisand -- the movie included cursing, prostitution, incest, and a glib justification for
abortion. Sproul bemoans the fact that most Christians won't see the film simply
"because there is a growing taboo in the evangelical world against watching
movies." Raunchiness is not new for Sproul. In his Johnny Come Novel, many of
its pages were "blue with blasphemy" uttered by its principal characters, and he
used "unnecessary and offensive explicitness" in relating an illicit event
(7/24/87, Sword of the Lord). In the 3/87 Eternity, he said, "All art
bears witness to God." He made the astounding charge that "for a Christian to
despise art approaches blasphemy. A Christianity without art is a Christianity without
beauty [which is] ... a Christianity without Christ [which is] ... no Christianity at
all." With this kind of mind-set, is it any wonder that R.C. Sproul has spoken for
apostate Robert Schuller on at least two occasions? (Reported in the 3/15/88, Calvary
- Even though some of what Sproul has authored is well-written and theologically sound, he nevertheless interjects into many of his later books much of the "pop psychology" gospel permeating evangelicalism today. For example, in his otherwise excellent 1988 book, Pleasing God, Sproul endorses the psychological and unbiblical concept(s) of: self-esteem and self-confidence (pp. 59 &115); "All Truth is God's Truth" (p. 69); homosexual "orientations" of some individuals (p. 80); the benefits of psychiatric help for the Christian (pp. 118 & 186-187); self-forgiveness (pp. 131-133); and Freudian insights (p. 173). [Sproul also evidently believes the blasphemy that we should "forgive God," as evidenced by his endorsement of the James Dobson' book (When God Doesn't Make Sense), which teaches this psychological concept; see later in this report.]
- Perhaps the best overall indication of Sproul's complete sell-out to the false gospel of self is his 1983 book, In Search of Dignity. The statement from the book's inside jacket is an excellent indicator of the thoroughly humanistic philosophy espoused by Sproul throughout this book:
"It is because God has assigned worth to men and women that human dignity is established. From his creation to his redemption, man's dignity is preserved. His origin is significant. His destiny is significant. He is significant. The conviction that permeates each chapter is the importance of daily respect for the dignity of other people which requires a sensitivity to their self-esteem. We are also led to the realization that the most fragile mechanization on this planet is the human ego." (Emphasis added.)
- Sproul has written a revised edition (1991) of In Search of Dignity and renamed it The Hunger For Significance. It has been endorsed by some of the most prominent psychologizers in the professing church (Charles Allen [author of God's Psychiatry, who says, "Reading this book has stimulated my sense of self-worth"], Bill Bright, Chuck Colson, Joni Eareckson Tada, and David Hubbard [then president of Fuller seminary]). Sproul says this about his book (still being offered for sale by Ligonier as of August of 2001):
"Every person needs to feel significant. We want our lives to count. We yearn to believe that in some way we are important and that hunger for significance -- a drive as intense as our need for oxygen -- doesn't come from pride or ego. It comes from God because he wants each of us to understand how important we are. ... We must seek our roots, our origin, and our destiny so that we can know our present value. ...Written for anyone who shares the hunger for significance. This book explores the human cry for dignity, the hallowed longing for love and respect. ... Wherever people come together, we can help each other discover our self-worth. We can help each other realize that we are persons of significance being made in the image of God." (Emphasis added.)
- Sproul and his Ligonier Ministries sponsored a conference in Orlando, Florida (February 20-22, 1992) titled, "The Hunger For Significance." Besides Sproul, also on the program were ecumenical, Catholic-sympathizer Charles Colson; neo-evangelical J.I. Packer; and pop psychologizer Chuck Swindoll. In addition, a special pre-conference seminar was held on February 20th titled "Psychology and the Christian Faith -- Psychohealing or Psychoheresy?" featuring Sproul and Dr. Bill White (president of Pathways Educational Network -- a fee-for-service counseling and referral service located in Pittsburgh). (White has written for Tabletalk as far back as the 1970s.)
Besides the general psychobabble in each man's message and in the joint Q&A session (see PAL article for more details), of particular interest was Sproul's response to a question concerning how he would reconcile his belief that "All truth is God's truth" (thereby allowing the use of the principles of psychology along with the Bible) with what the Apostle Peter said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:3 -- According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue)? Sproul's response:
"If you mean for the saving of life ... We talk about the sufficiency of the Scriptures to lead one to 'salvific' life, obviously, but for the whole structure of life, we need more than the Bible."
It couldn't be more clear than that! R.C. Sproul has directly denied the sanctifying sufficiency of the Word of God! Or if he is correct (in his contention that "we need more than the Bible"), then the Holy Spirit, for nearly 2000 years of Church history, somehow, either through ignorance or oversight, failed to include in the Scriptures the vital psychological tools necessary for sanctified godly living! One can come to only one of two conclusions. Either Sproul's so-called psychological truths are false, and that's why God left them out of Holy Writ, or somehow, the Bible is deficient.
- Again from Sproul's 1992 talk referred to above, Sproul raises
the psychological wisdom of men to the level of science (when, in fact, it
is a false religious system). He says: "Now what you heard from him
[White's talk] this morning and what you're hearing from me is that the
Christian who cuts himself off from natural science or from secular
science has cut himself off from divine revelation" (bold
added). While on the one hand Sproul refers to psychology as an "inexact
science"; on the other hand he says:
"The care of the human soul
is one of the top priorities that God has given to you in your ministry. So, if
there's anybody that should be searching the depths of Scripture to understand
the human soul, it's the pastor. And, if there's anybody who should be
supplementing his search of sacred Scripture concerning the nature of human
souls by studying secular psychology, it's the pastor, because of what is at
stake, the souls of your people."
One of the critical problems with Sproul's talk is that he assumes
that psychotherapy is science and gives his own say so as the
authority. By implying that the anti-psychology position is opposed to science,
Sproul has distorted what psychoheresy is really all about. "We give both
Biblical and scientific reasons are given as to why Christians should
reject the pseudoscientific theories and therapies of counseling psychology. We
use scientific research to demonstrate the failures and fallacies of
psychotherapy and other forms of counseling psychology and talk therapy. We are not
opposed to science, but we are opposed to pseudoscience. Sproul presents
pseudoscience as science and implies that those who are opposed to psychohealing
are opposed to science. Sproul's position on psychohealing is both theologically
and scientifically dangerously flawed and should be avoided by all
believers." (Source: November-December 2003, PsychoHeresy Awareness
Letter, p. 8.)
- Dr. John H. Coe, as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, wrote a paper titled "Educating the Church for Wisdom's Sake or Why Biblical Counseling is Unbiblical." The paper claims that believers have a mandate to look beyond Scripture for the wisdom and truth necessary for righteous and successful living (cf. 2 Pe. 1:3)! Coe claims that the Bible itself "mandates the church to develop a science of [moral and spiritual] values and human nature" from extra-Biblical sources. He declares that whatever is "natural" is good and that one can deduce a "science of [moral] values" simply from observing nature. (This is obviously not true.) Coe also declares that without natural revelation "the Bible ... alone is insufficient." Of course, he includes in natural revelation that part of "God's truth" which secular psychologists have allegedly discovered and which is therefore needed to supplement Scripture. We expect a psychological/psychotherapeutic view of Scripture from a professor at the psychoheretical Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology, but R.C. Sproul evidently also agrees with Coe -- Sproul carried a similar article by Coe in a late-1993 Tabletalk issue.
[Yes, the Bible is insufficient when it comes to flying an airplane, repairing an engine, transplanting a kidney, but not when it comes to those "things that pertain to life and godliness," all of which Peter says have been given to us in Christ (2 Pe. 1:3,4). Paul says that through Scripture alone, the man or woman of God is "thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:17). Christ said that the Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive" (Jn. 14:17) and who guides believers "into all truth" (Jn. 16:13). He said that those who continue in His word, which "is truth" (Jn. 17:17) know "the truth" (Jn. 8:32), not part of the truth, and are thereby set free, not partially free. The Bible's declaration that the "natural man" cannot know God's truth, which is only revealed by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14), is proof that Freud, et al. had nothing of God's truth to impart. That fact alone thoroughly demolishes the Coe/Sproul/Christian psychology thesis that part of God's truth is to be found in secular psychology. It isn't there. (Source: 2/97, The Berean Call.)]
- Sproul sponsored another "Hunger for Significance" Conference (10/21/9310/23/93), this time in San Diego, California. Besides Sproul himself, speaking again were Chuck Colson, J.I. Packer, and Chuck Swindoll. In the Conference brochure Sproul says:
"We are capable of greatness and wickedness. We hunger for significance, yet we turn from our Creator ... But even sin can't erase the stamp of God's image upon us. Even sin can't eliminate our worth. This fall, Ligonier Ministries will examine the dignity of man during its 1993 conference "The Hunger for Significance." Hear ... explain[ed] our origin, destiny, and calling. See why all people, regardless of age, size, or health, are valuable. (Emphasis added.)
- More self-love theology from Sproul comes from his Ligonier Ministries' 2/91 issue of Tabletalk:
"The Bible commands us to love ourselves. ... the Bible implies that we do not love ourselves at all. ... Because you are the image of God, to love yourself means to love God. ... Humanity's ... hatred of itself is concealed in what is perversely called 'self-love'." (Emphasis added.)
The 2/14/92, Tabletalk "devotional" has even more of the same. This is proof-positive that Sproul's self-love teachings have only gotten worse over time. Contrary to this teaching, the Bible teaches that no man ever yet hated his own self (Eph. 5:29), and warns that in the last days, men will not be haters of themselves, but instead, lovers of self (2 Tim. 3:2). Sproul's brand of self-love is evidence of unbelief in the last days.
- Sproul's 7/91 Tabletalk had an article by William H. McDowell, a staffer at Sproul's Ligonier Ministries at the time, which praised Mortimer Adler and compared him to the Caleb of the Bible. Yet Adler openly admitted that he could not understand Christianity, made no profession in any religion, and refused to talk about his own faith, leaving the room if anyone asked him about it. (Reported in the 1/15/92, Calvary Contender.)
- Sproul endorsed James Dobson's 1994 book When God Doesn't Make Sense, in which Dobson makes the blasphemous suggestion that we should forgive God! Dobson says:
"There is only one cure for the cancer of bitterness, that is to forgive the perceived offender. Once and for all, with God's help, as strange as it seems, I am suggesting that some of us need to forgive God for those heartaches that are charged to His account. You've carried resentment against Him for years. Now it's time to let go of it. [Dobson now tries to escape the blasphemy he's just uttered, but he is unsuccessful.] Please don't misunderstand me at this point. God is in the business of forgiving us, and it almost sounds blasphemous [it is!] to suggest that the relationship could be reversed. He has done no wrong and does not need our approbation. But the source of bitterness must be admitted before it can be cleared. There is no better way to get rid of it than to absolve the Lord of whatever we have harbored. ... It is the only way you will ever be entirely free. ... Corrie ten Boom forgave an SS guard who shared responsibility for the deaths of her family members. Surely we can forgive the King of the Universe who sent His only Son to die as an atonement for our sin." (Emphasis added.)
The very fact that we would have anger towards God, the One who can do no wrong and is perfect in every way, and that we would feel like we need to forgive Him, is wickedness and a total affront to His holy, righteous character! How could Sproul endorse this blasphemy?
- On 11/7/93, the John Ankerberg Show began a six-week series titled, "Eight Biblical Scholars Defend the Bible." At the end of each program, Ankerberg ran a premium offer promo for Kay Arthur's International Inductive Study Bible (IISB). (Kay Arthur heads up Precept Ministries in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a women's Bible study ministry. Mrs. Arthur is ecumenical and neo-evangelical, and even teaches charismatic spiritual warfare techniques [Lord, Is It Warfare?, pp. 280-323].) One of those appearing on tape (on four of the five programs) to endorse the IISB was R.C. Sproul. (Sproul also wrote a jacket endorsement for the IISB, and Arthur spoke at a Sproul Bible conference in Orlando 2/3/94-2/5/94.)
- Announced at a press conference on 3/29/94 was an ecumenical declaration titled "Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium" (ECT). The negotiations toward the declaration were initiated in 9/92 by Chuck Colson and Richard Neuhaus (former liberal Lutheran clergyman [ELCA] turned Catholic priest) under the auspices of the ecumenical and theologically liberal Institute on Religion and Public Life (headed by Neuhaus). The declaration starts with "We are Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics who have been led through prayer, study, and discussion to common convictions about Christian faith and mission." It goes downhill from there. The coalition specifically called for an end to aggressive proselytizing of each other's flocks (in effect, a mutual non-aggression pact). The signers of the Accord also confessed their past sins against Catholic/Protestant unity.
The declaration said: "All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ." This conveniently ignores the fact that Catholics espouse a works-salvation false gospel! In a revealing admission of what brought these groups together, some signers said it was the experiences of worshiping together in the charismatic movement and working together in political causes such as anti-abortion [Moral Majority for example]. In fact, one writer correctly assessed that the declaration "amounts to a truce on theological issues so that the parties can continue to cooperate on political issues."
Forty people signed or endorsed the document (20 Catholics and 20 so-called evangelicals), including Protestants J.I. Packer, Pat Robertson, Bill Bright, Os Guinness, and Mark Noll (a historian at Wheaton College who said, "Evangelicals can no longer consider Catholics as ogres or anti-Christs"). Catholic endorsers included six priests, three bishops, one Archbishop, and one Cardinal. By joint declaration, then, J.I. Packer and friends have, in effect, declared the Protestant Reformation a tragic mistake!
In January of 1995, the neo-evangelical host of the John Ankerberg Show announced a 2/8/95 seminar to be held at Catholic-sympathizer D. James Kennedy's church (Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida). Other participants in the seminar (to supposedly expose the errors in the ECT) were Ankerberg, Kennedy, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul. [Ankerberg produced a 6-part video series of this seminar (titled "Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?"), and aired it on six consecutive Sunday evenings starting 3/5/95. Sproul was seated on the grandiose stage with MacArthur and Kennedy, while Ankerberg stood at a table in the audience, serving as host-moderator.]
The ECT Accord generated so much heat in Protestant ranks that Colson found it necessary to call a meeting in January of 1995 to try "to achieve a measure of understanding, clarification, and harmony around the truth recognized by historic orthodoxy" (1/25/95 Prison Fellowship News Release -- "Evangelical Leaders Resolve Differences On Evangelical-Catholic Paper"). Attending the 1/19/95 peace meeting (also held at Kennedy's Coral Ridge facility) were ECT signers Colson, Packer, Bright, and Kent Hill, along with a group of so-called evangelicals critical of the ECT (i.e., the "anti-ECT group") -- John Ankerberg, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, D. James Kennedy, Joseph Stowell, Michael Horton, and John Woodbridge.
After the meeting, Colson, Bright, Packer, and Hill issued a joint doctrinal statement supposedly clarifying their position on the ECT. However, no changes to the ECT were recommended, nor would any of the original signators remove their names from it. Ankerberg, MacArthur, Kennedy, Sproul, et al., did not sign this clarification agreement, but they did help write it, and the clear implication was that they agreed that this new statement satisfactorily answered any concern one might have over the content of the original ECT! [See Colson's 1/25/95 news release; the 3/6/95 Christianity Today, "Evangelicals Clarify Accord with Catholics," pp. 52-53; and the 6-part John Ankerberg Show video series (titled "Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?"). Concerning the latter, Ankerberg stated eight different times over the course of the six programs that he and the others in the anti-ECT group helped write the so-called clarification agreement.]
On Ankerberg's second program, the program's participants agreed that it was possible to have "parachurch cooperation with evangelically committed Roman Catholics for the pursuit of agreed objectives" without implying "acceptance of Roman Catholic doctrinal distinctives or endorsement of the Roman Catholic church system"! (1/19/95 "Statement By Protestant Signers To ECT," paragraph #1). It didn't seem to bother them that this statement, which, by their own admission, they helped write, does not agree with what God's Word says! (Amos 3:3 states: Can two walk together except they be agreed?) R.C. Sproul and his neo-evangelical brethren have now, in effect, stipulated to words that are in direct conflict with the Word of God! God says if you fellowship with unbelievers in joint projects, you have identified with the doctrine of the co-participants (see also 2 John 9-11).
In Ankerberg program #3, Sproul terms Catholic theology as it relates to the person of Christ, "heroic" and "consistent." The problem with Roman Catholic theology, according to Sproul, is its concept of the work of Christ, not the person of Christ -- if Catholics would only "repent of their rejection of sola fide," Sproul says he could sign the ECT accord!! After all, Roman Catholics are correct ("heroic" and "consistent") on all the other "essentials" of Christian doctrine; i.e., the person of Christ. And in program #4, Sproul stated that the clarification agreement averted "a theological war" within Protestantism. What incredible naiveté!
"[Sproul] ... and the others thus lend credence to, serve as 'bridges' to, and refuse to separate from, those who promote ecumenical endeavors with Roman Catholics. The 'clarified' ECT Doctrinal Statement changed nothing" (5/1/95, Calvary Contender).
[Note: Sproul also signed an agreement drafted in 6/95 by J.I. Packer and Michael Horton titled, "Resolutions for Roman Catholic and Evangelical Dialogue." This document encouraged Catholics and Evangelicals to join together when "Christian values and behavioral patterns are at stake," but the union is not to be regarded as agreement in doctrine! The document also accepted as fact that the Roman Catholic Church contains many believers.]
- Dr. Bill Jackson, president of the Association of
Fundamentalists Evangelizing Catholics (AFEC), prepared a 6/18/99 statement on
"The Gospel of Jesus Christ—An Evangelical Celebration" (EC) (see
the 6/14/99 Christianity Today for the
full text of the EC). This document has been endorsed by Charles Colson, Bill
Bright, and J.I. Packer, all of whom also signed the controversial ECT documents
of 1994 and 1997; as well as endorsed by R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur and
D. James Kennedy, all of whom publicly [albeit weakly] challenged and criticized
them for signing the ECT documents (see above). There are a number of helpful
statements in this latest document which deal with areas which were not fully
dealt with in the ECT documents (e.g., imputation is now dealt with favorably,
but has been consistently opposed by Roman Catholic Councils and Catechisms). EC
says, "We cannot embrace any form of doctrinal indifferentism by which
God's truth is sacrificed for a false peace." But there is certainly no
better example of "doctrinal indifferentism" than the ECT documents
themselves (James 1:8)! Because ECT I stated that "Evangelicals and
Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ," in order to be relevant the
new EC document should be submitted to the Roman Catholics who signed ECT I and
II. It is difficult to see how a person could subscribe to both ECT and EC. The
only logical conclusion is for all who signed EC to remove their names from ECT.
It also appears that the so-called "evangelical" ECT endorsers have
been "let off the hook" by former critics such as R.C. Sproul. We
believe EC will be used to rehabilitate those who erred in 1994 and 1997,
without their having to admit or ask forgiveness for their error. (Source:
7/15/99, Calvary Contender.) [Other "evangelical" endorsers of EC
among the 15 members of the Drafting Committee and 114 members of the Endorsing
Committee include John Ankerberg, Kay
Arthur, Tony Evans, Jerry
Falwell, Bill Hybels, David
Jeremiah, D. James Kennedy, Max
& Beverly LaHaye, Erwin
Robertson, Ronald Sider, Charles
Stanley, John Stott, Joseph Stowell, Chuck Swindoll, Bruce
Wilkinson, and Ravi Zacharias; also endorsing EC were hyper-charismatics Jack
Hayford and Steven Strang.]
ignorant Sproul and fellow endorsers may be of all this, his participation in EC
makes him a party to its consequences. It is also important to note that the EC
document (which is supposed to be a definitive and comprehensive statement of
the true saving Gospel of Christ), never mentions repentance
for salvation, and never mentions the total depravity of man (thereby
leaning towards a decisional regeneration). Moreover, the EC promotes an
ecumenical unity (via "trans-denominational cooperative enterprises")
with all professing believers who attest to the EC's "essentials" of
the faith. But this is not the unity of the faith taught in Ephesians. While we
are instructed by Scripture to be of one mind, the evangelical today scoffs at
the idea of true Biblical unity based on complete agreement with, and submission
to, God's holy Word. The only use of the word "unity" in the New
Testament is found in Ephesians chapter four. It is a "unity of the
Spirit" (v. 3), not of men. It is a "unity of faith" (v. 13)
based on sound doctrine for which believers are to contend, not water down nor
reclassify into essentials and non-essentials (Jude 3). No real spiritual unity
can exist apart from doctrinal unity, and we are to "mark them which cause
divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid
them" (Rom. 16:17).
- Sproul is on the board of CURE/ACE (Christians United for Reformation/Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals), a Philadelphia-based Reformation "think-tank" with the vision "to enable evangelicalism to rediscover its roots in the writings of the Reformers and to heighten awareness of the ideas and methods developed by those Reformers in addressing the issues of their day. The organization is not sectarian or separatist but is concerned to enable denominations, or groups within denominations, to recover a sense of identity or purpose." (Emphasis added.) Moreover, "The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals exists to call the church, amidst our dying culture, to repent of its worldliness, to recover and confess the truth of God's Word as did the Reformers, and to see that truth embodied in doctrine, worship, and life" (ACE/CURE Internet Web Site -- 6/97).
It is clear that Sproul and the CURE/ACE organization see themselves as the protectors/defenders of Reformed theology and true Christian worship in the evangelical church. However, as stated above, Sproul has no intention of letting the Biblical doctrine of separation get in the way of the perverted view that doctrinal strength comes through ecumenical unity.
- Michael Horton is the president of CURE/ACE. In his earlier works, Horton often hinted at his baptismal regeneration views, but it was always somewhat unclear as to where he was coming from. However, in his book In The Face of God, Horton leaves no doubt as to his views on how one receives Christ. R.C. Sproul has endorsed this book. Note the following quotes: (Emphases added.)
(a) It is one thing for an evangelical to believe that the Word is a means of grace. It is quite another to add that the sacraments are a further means of grace. Even the word "sacrament" sounds "Catholic" to many evangelical ears. In fact, it is a biblical concept. ... (p. 139).
(b) The sacraments serve the same purpose as the Word itself, not only offering or exhibiting God's promise, but actually conferring His saving grace by linking us, through faith, to Christ and His benefits (p. 141).
(c) The Roman Church undermined the importance of God's ordained sacraments by adding sacraments of their own. The Anabaptist enthusiasts undermined them by reducing the efficacy of the two sacraments [Baptism and the Lord's Supper] Christ instituted (p. 142).
(d) Furthermore, a sacrament not only reveals; it confers. Through Word and sacrament, God actually gives that which he promises in his gospel -- forgiveness of sins, freedom from the tyranny of sin and eternal life. The sacraments not only testify to or signify divine activity in salvation, but are part of that divine redemptive activity (p. 219).
(e) Nothing other than the Word, baptism, and the Lord's Supper are given this place by God as a means of grace (p. 219).
In saying that baptism is a means of grace, Horton (and Sproul by his endorsement) confuses God's Grace and human works. Grace is defined Biblically as the demonstration of love/favor that is unearned, undeserved, and unrepayable; God imputes merit where none previously existed and declares no debt to be where one had been before. Grace is not dispensed on the basis of good works, including the good work of baptism.
Baptism, therefore, is not "a means of saving grace." Rather, grace is
God's unmerited favor in choosing us before time began (2 Tim. 1:9). Grace is Christ dying
in our place (Heb. 2:9). Grace is the work of God in our hearts bringing us to saving
faith (1 Tim. 1:14). We proclaim the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24),
and when this Gospel is believed, the person is saved (Rom. 1:16). The gospel is the
message of God's kind and gracious undeserved favor which He has provided for our
salvation (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The way Christ is received is by faith (John 1:12), not
by baptism or any of the other sacraments. Faith is a matter of the heart -- "For with
the heart man believeth unto righteousness" ... (Rom. 10:10).
How serious is the error of baptismal regeneration? It is FATAL! Paul defines true believers as those who "worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). He goes on to say that he had "suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith" (Phil. 3:8-9). "All things" means all things, including all good religious rituals and exercises. In order to gain Christ, a person must completely reject everything else as meritorious for salvation and TRUST in Christ ALONE. EVERYTHING must be counted as a total loss. Paul counted it "dung." Why such strong language? Because if you trust in anything other than Christ alone it will DAMN your soul!
In June of 1997, a reader wrote to Sproul asking him how he could endorse Horton's book. Sproul's assistant, V.A. Voorhis, wrote back that Sproul is not saying that baptism is "the" means of grace, only "a" means! Substituting circumcision for baptism, isn't this exactly what the Judaizers were saying in Galatia (Gal. 1)? Voorhis claimed that Sproul rejects baptismal regeneration as "a classic principle of Reformed theology ... Baptism is not the instrumental cause of justification but a means of grace God uses to proclaim His Word." This is playing word games that result in the denying of Scripture.