I am not writing as any kind of Ligonier insider. I used to write for Table Talk some years ago, and I have spoken at a few of their national conferences. Other than that, my relations with Ligonier have been warm, cordial, and distant. I am not writing with direct knowledge of any of the goings on there, and I have no a priori assumption that something couldn’t possibly go wrong there — and, if it did, would have no problem admitting that it had.
But if situation were to jump the rails at Ligonier, the Bible is very explicit in the way it tells us to handle such circumstances. So, that said, let me list a few reasons why the current charges against Ligonier, as they are currently framed and advanced, should simply be round-filed.
1. The Bible prohibits anonymous accusation (Dt. 19), and because “Frank Vance” is not his real name, he does not have real biblical accountability in making his charges. A “male” in the “United States” needs to be narrowed down a bit further.
2. The Bible prohibits solitary accusation against elders (1 Tim. 5:19); this means that two or three (accountable) witnesses are required for each specification. No got.
3. If anonymous accusers are allowed (see #1), then the requirement on #2 can be easily by-passed by a sole accuser (via screen names of “George,” “Stan,” and “Melody,” not to mention the always reliable “numerous sources have informed me.”). And this nameless cloud of witnesses all crossed their hearts and hoped to die.
4. A nameless individual does not get the same privileges that an honest man with a name has. “Frank Vance” can’t go vote that way, he can’t get a driver’s licence that way, and he does not carry his baptism that way. Filing suit against a pseudonym may have been a tactical blunder on Ligonier’s part, but we have no reason to think that a violation of 1 Cor. 6 was involved. Why? Because Frank’s a Muslim. Everyone knows that. The thing that would grant “Frank” immunity from lawsuits would be his Christian name. Does he have one?
5. Two or three witnesses, when actually assembled and identified, must not have, by their previous misbehavior, impeached their credibility. But a number of the accusers in this round have discredited themselves in previous internet foodfights, and the new “names” clustering around are identifying themselves by the company they keep.
6. If it is a substantive matter, a witness who testifies erroneously in one instance may be safely disregarded in his other testimony. “Frank Vance” testified one thing about what Ligonier did to Don Kistler, and this was flatly contradicted by Don Kistler’s public statement. The question that should therefore come to mind immediately is this: are the other allegations as reliable as this one was?
7. False witnesses need to have an outstanding memory, because they have to remember all the things they said previously, some of them pretty fruity. The accusers of Jesus had no trouble rounding up the requisite number of witnesses, but they were still embarrassed by the manifest inconsistencies (Mk. 14:59). The witnesses that come out of the woodwork whenever something like this erupts on the internet are consistent in one thing only — their malice and envy.
8. In a biblical world, Ligonier doesn’t have to prove their innocence. Their accusers have to prove Ligonier’s guilt, which is a manifestly different thing than merely asserting their guilt.
As I have watched various controversies on the web, driven by a spirit of accusation, I have not so much been disheartened at the various false accusers, wanna-bees, thwarted aspiring sidekicks (have you seen The Incredibles?), and whatnot, as I have been by the well-meaning Christians who are not checked out in how to respond to this kind of thing. For those sorting out this latest business, I would refer you to the archives here, under this heading — a justice primer is just what is needed.