The Ashley Madison hack points a theologian toward grace

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Robert Craig Sproul Jr., best known by his first initials, today stepped up to face his sorrow — and teach a lesson in God’s grace in the process.

Photo courtesy of Reformation Bible College

Robert Craig Sproul Jr., best known by his first initials, today stepped up to face his sorrow — and teach a lesson in God’s grace in the process.

(RNS) The Ashley Madison hack — the public release of emails of wannabe adulterers — has now ensnared a theologian with a famous name in some Christian circles.

Robert Craig Sproul Jr., best known by his first initials, stepped up Monday (Aug. 31) to face his sorrow — and teach a lesson in God’s grace in the process.

He may be the beginning of a wave. LifeWay Research executive director and Christianity Today blogger Ed Stetzer speculated that hundreds of pastors, deacons and more might be shoved into the shaming spotlight for connecting to Ashley Madison, the hookup site specializing in folks seeking extramarital affairs.

It’s not yet known how many church leaders are — or will soon be — publicly branded with the scarlet letter like Nathanial Hawthorne’s heroine bearing an “A” on her gown.


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Stetzer advised them to “get right with God,” their families and their churches.

And this is just what R.C. Sproul Jr. aims to do.

According to a faculty biography, he’s the father of eight children and is rector of theology and chair of philosophy and theology at Reformation Bible College.

He’s also a teaching fellow for Ligonier Ministries, an outreach ministry. It was founded by Robert Charles Sproul, his father, who is also chancellor of Reformation College. Sproul Jr.’s college biography also describes him as delighting in teaching “the fullness and the glory of the gospel truth that Jesus changes everything.”


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Or rather, he was a professor. He was a fellow. He alerted both institutions and, in accordance with church discipline, is now suspended from both roles.

Unlike the transgressions of other Christians, his sin — or rather, prospective thought about maybe sinning — was outed. And yet, R.C. Sproul Jr. is still teaching a Christian lesson.

This is what he posted on his blog on Monday. It’s titled “Judgment and Grace.”

“The message of God’s prophets in the Old Testament amounted to this — God is not pleased with what you are doing. Repent. We miss that prophets were agents of grace as were the judgments promised. The purpose, in both instances, was to be a goad to repentance, a wake-up call. The same is true today as God works in and through providence. For the believer, judgment is always a work of God’s grace, a goad to repentance. Many Christians have bemoaned the destruction wrought by the Ashley Madison hack. The truth of the matter is that just as Ashley Madison did not create unfaithful hearts, so this hack did not create damning exposure. Rather for some it was a means of His grace.

“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.

“The grace of God’s judgment bore its fruit, and by His grace I repented of my sin. By His grace, I have also received His forgiveness, the outworking of His love. Prophetic providence had done its good office. Jesus died for this sin, but there are still earthly consequences. 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. And now the world is informed.

“My sin, sadly, has impacted those who are innocent — my colleagues, friends, and family. I have and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I covet your prayers.”

LM/MG END GROSSMAN

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  • Chapsmyhide

    There must be alot more to this RC Sproul story than he only signed up for a sex hookup account that he (wink, wink) didn’t use. Something smells very fishy here, and it’s called damage control. I think he outed himself to spin the story and prevent worse things from coming to light. Very shrewd political move that, especially in light of the latest revelations about his fellow hyper-religious sex voyeur Josh Duggar frequenting strip clubs and paying lap dancers and porn stars for kinky sex. If Josh Duggar had outed himself early on like RC Sproul is doing now he could have limited the damage to himself. So hats off to RC Sproul. Very clever political move. He should take this year off from his ministry and run for public office. He’d make a very successful politician.

  • hmmm

    Sad when folks love to pile on. Have you even listened to or read many of the thousands of hours of Godly wisdom, advice and teaching of this man? Obviously what he did was wrong, but from where do you begin to question everything he does now? You should be praying for him. and yourself. But instead there are those who Hate God and delight when saints sin. He will suffer the consequences but by Gods grace the end of all things are bright and certain. Examine your motives and stop tearing down Godly people.

  • Chapsmyhide

    “from where do you begin to question everything he does now?” Thanks for asking. I question what he does based, in part, on the public record of his defrocking in 2006, as well as the abysmal way he responded to his defrocking, not to mention many other things that are well known about him. He’s feigned “repentance” before when he was about to be caught in a scandal, but only as a political ploy, so there’s every reason to distrust him now.

    “Have you even listened to or read many of the thousands of hours of Godly wisdom, advice and teaching of this man?” Yes, I have, and I’ll give you that he’s an accomplished teacher. But that’s beside the point and completely irrelevant to the issue of his character. There are many eloquent Bible teachers who, like Sproul, make six figure incomes off being a gospel celebrity and, like Sproul live carnal personal lives that are just the opposite of what they preach. It’s that sort of cancer in the body of Christ that needs to be…

  • Brett C.

    There absolutely is a lot more to this story. Sproul has only told the half of it. A lot more can be found at RC Sproul Jr’s Ashley Madison Scandal