R.C. Sproul Jr., the son of theologian and Ligonier Ministries founder R.C. Sproul, has been suspended by the ministry after admitting to “visiting” adultery website Ashley Madison “to leave an old email address.” He said "the revelation of the hack has come the revelation of my sin," referencing the recent leak of hacked user information. Sproul Jr. served as a leader in the theology and philosophy departments at Ligonier’s Reformation Bible College. His wife passed away in 2011 after battling cancer. In an apology statement (which you can read in its entirety here), he explained,
In August 2014, in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity, I visited Ashley Madison. My goal was not to gather research for critical commentary, but to fan the flames of my imagination. There I found two gracious judgments. First, I felt the grace of fear. Second, I felt the grace of shame. I was there long enough to leave an old email address. And within minutes I left, never to return. I did not sign up for their service or interact with any clients. I have always remained faithful to my wife even after her passing … With the revelation of the hack has come the revelation of my sin. I recently informed the board of Ligonier Ministries, which has handled the matter internally, having suspended me until July 1, 2016. I also informed my presbytery which is also handling the matter internally.
Yesterday, Sproul Jr. updated an article he first wrote on July 22 called “Hacking Ashley Madison” in which he said that he “only recently learned about” the site. He called it a “website which exists to facilitate adultery” and brings people together by “tearing homes apart.” This was before the release of the public data, when the hackers were stilling threatening to release it. He wrote, “I wonder how many are going to publicly object and declare the immorality of this hack and this threat. But in doing so, we miss the immorality of the site itself. This is not merely about the private behavior of private citizens, because we are dealing with married people. Marriage, friends, is never only private.”
He has since posted an update to the article that says “In light of my public statement here, I believe I should have withheld comment on this matter.” Discuss
The Ashley Madison hack will have a serious effect on churches. According to Ed Stetzer, as many as 400 pastors, deacons, elders and church staff members may resign this Sunday after their names surfaced on the list of users revealed in the Ashley Madison hack.
In a post on his Christianity Today blog, The Exchange, Stetzer said the number is based on “conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada,” adding, “To be honest, the number of pastors and church leaders on Ashley Madison is much lower than the number of those looking to have an affair.” Along with being a contributing editor for CT, author and professor, Stetzer is the executive director of LifeWay Research, and a well-regarded expert on church leadership. He is also the executive editor of the Christian leadership publication Facts & Trends. All that to say, Stetzer is well-informed, and his number is likely accurate. Former social conservative lobbyist and Christian reality TV star Josh Duggar and Christian vlogger Sam Rader recently released their own statements, acknowledging that they were both users of the site, which facilitates adultery. Discuss
When Pope Francis visits inmates at Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility next month, he’ll be presented with a special gift: A chair constructed by prisoners currently serving time in the city’s jail system. The director of one of the jail industry shops told Mashable, "I really don't know how it will be presented to him, or at what point will he actually sit in the chair. But the fact that I got the privilege to do the chair is good enough if I never see him sit in the chair. So I'm happy." The pope will visit 100 inmates and their families during his time in the city on Sept. 27. Discuss
The Christian parody of Bruno Mars' and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” you probably weren’t waiting for has arrived. The video appears to be a promo for International Church of Las Vegas’ upcoming “Holy Spirit Conference,” hence the references to “Tongues of fire take you higher man … So good, Amen. Make Benny wanna retire man.” Presented without further comment: Discuss
“Tree Church” is exactly what it sounds like, and it looks incredible. Barry Cox has two great passions in life: trees and churches. For years, he traveled the world, studying the designs of church buildings and the architectural style behind them. He also loves trees so much that he runs a business that transports large trees to new locations so they don’t have to be chopped down. The New Zealander told Stuff.co.nz,
I walked out my back door one day and thought, 'That space needs a church' – and so it began. I cleared the area in April 2011 and made the iron frame, drawing on all the research I had done over the years of studying churches. I wanted the roof and the walls to be distinctly different, to highlight the proportions, just like masonry churches.
It took Cox four years to finish the structure, which has walls and a ceiling made from living trees, but he’s recently opened Tree Church for weddings and visitors. He told the site, “Visitors have said that they find the Tree Church relaxing and that their worries disappear. I find that sort of feedback immensely rewarding." You can see a brief video tour of the structure here. Discuss
Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham and author of several books, has stepped down as the senior pastor of the 2,000-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, confessing to having an affair. Tchividjian had served as the church’s senior pastor since 2009. In a statement to The Washington Post, Tchividjian said he recently discovered that his wife was having an ongoing affair, which eventually led them to separate. He wrote, “Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week, I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign.”
Tchividjian said “my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions,” and asked for prayer. The church's executive pastor, Rob Pacienza, told the paper they will be “working with and assisting Pastor Tullian and his family to help them through this difficult time” ... Discuss