Mahaney, Harris leave Gospel Coalition council

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Jim's picture

http://www.worldmag.com/2014/05/former_covenant_life_church_leader_convi...

 

A Maryland jury found Nathaniel Morales guilty of five counts of child molestation today, bringing to a close a case that highlighted the responsibility church leaders have to report suspected abuse to the police.

The five-man, seven-woman jury found the former pastor guilty of molesting three teenage boys in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Morales, 56, faces up to 85 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 14.

Julie Anne's picture

This is long overdue. 

Wayne Wilson's picture

The Gospel Coalition defended C. J. Mahaney in a big way. They blogged about his integrity, and many big dogs went down to preach in his new little church to show their support after he lost the confidence of the SGM flagship church he helped found.  There was no evidence of wrongdoing, it was said, despite mountains of testimony from former members and staff (including documents) about the messed up way the SGM apostles ran their movement.  Now there's a conviction, and lawsuits on the horizon.  It's every bit as bad as the Catholic molestation scandals. So now...his name no longer appears among their council members.

Can we go back to simplicity, integrity and being servants now?  Can we just let the celebrity pastor thing go?  It has brought nothing good, and the damage continues.

This has also  vindicated, at the most basic level, those messy Survivor blogs.  Injustice and poor shepherding can't be swept under the rug anymore. 

rogercarlson's picture

Wayne,

This truly has been sad.  What a wicked thing, but we in our movement are not immune and have handled things badly.  It's not just the celeb pastor that is vunerable.  We ALL are.  The biggest thing to take from this is to make sure we have procedures in place and follow them, even if one of our friends or trusted allies allegedly involved.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Ron Bean's picture

This is a sad story but it is no time for stone throwing.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Donn R Arms's picture

Mahaney teaches that he possesses apostolic authority over his churches. Bad theology invariably leads to bad results. No one is "throwing stones" at him because bad things happened in his church. He is to be condemned for the arrogant way he handled it. Paul publicly condemned false teachers by name. John called out Diotrephes. We should follow their example.

BTW, with all the hand wringing done here at SI about the KJV Only error, should we not be consistent and stipulate together that John 7:53--8:11 is a spurious passage?

Donn R Arms

rogercarlson's picture

Donn,

My point is we have a big record for messing things up in this regard.  Yes Mahaney does have bad theology on the point you mentioned.  But I know of instances where men have good theology who have done similar.   At least Josh Harris asked to be put on administrative leave.  I know of fundamentalists who dug in their heals and cried persecution.
 

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Wayne Wilson's picture

I appreciate that some Fundamentalist groups have had similar issues regarding covering up abuse, etc. I have never identified with those groups of Fundamentalists, so  I don't think I'm throwing stones in the sense of not looking at my own. Am I critical of C. J. Mahaney, and the Gospel Coalition boys?  Yes. I have followed the Mahaney/SGMcollapse fairly closely.  There was incredible arrogance there, mixed with an extreme theology of pastoral authority. Many, many saints were mistreated in a variety of ways by what was claimed to be a superior form of Christianity.    Yes, I know some Fundamentalists are that extreme, but I don't follow people in those circles.  I never ran in those circles and don't know their names. However, I used to look with great favor on the TGC men, but that was a while ago.  They still have some good things to say, but the celebrity-club tone, back-slapping, mutual endorsement-conference-book thing has worn real thin.  Worse is that there have made statements endorsing the SGM way of controlling the church.  It needs to be pointed out.  Too many are following that path.  Carl Trueman has said said excellent things about all this lately. He just missed getting caught up in it. I don't think he's a stone-thrower.

Jay's picture

Why we have been silent about the SGM Lawsuit by Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor (excerpts quoted)

Over the past several months we have remained publicly silent about the civil lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), which alleged a conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse.

Many have asked why we have not spoken publicly. Is this a conspiracy of silence, a way to whitewash accusations against a friend? Is it a way to stand with the powerful and to make a mockery of the weak? Is it simple cowardice? Why hasn’t more been said?

What We Did Not Intend to Communicate

We recognize that to some, our not speaking up feels like a betrayal, especially to those who have personally experienced abuse. Understandably, people want to hear that Christians categorically deplore and despise sexual abuse. We recognize that on this painful subject inaction can be hurtful and perceived as uncaring.

It needs to be said in no uncertain terms that the actual acts alleged in the lawsuit are utterly evil—an offense against a holy God and an act of hatred against innocent children. They are horrifying and revolting. Apart from repentance, they are damning. There is no excuse, at any time or in any place or for any reason, for the use of children for sexual pleasure. Pastors who learn of such abuses should contact the appropriate authorities immediately, institute church discipline, and apply the whole counsel of God (including both law and gospel). Every church should have a clear child protection policy, and in every situation of abuse the victims must be assured that they are not responsible for the crimes committed against them. Furthermore, pastors are responsible to obey all mandatory reporting laws, alerting law-enforcement officials and fully cooperating with all investigations. This is not an alternative to church discipline and gospel counsel, but a necessary and complementary role of divinely instituted civil authorities...

 

...The Face of the Lawsuit

There are two other facts that may be germane to this discussion: (1) some have tried to make C.J. Mahaney the “face” of the SGM lawsuit, and (2) we are friends with C.J.

Reports on the lawsuit from Christianity Today and World Magazine (among others) explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to C. J., connecting the suit to recent changes within SGM. He has also been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some. One of the so-called discernment blogs—often trafficking more in speculation and gossip than edifying discernment—reprinted a comment from a woman who issued this ominous wish, “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.”

We are not ashamed to call C.J. a friend. Our relationship with C.J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction. He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted. While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend. We are grateful for C.J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades.

Conclusion

We are not in a place to adjudicate all the charges leveled against Sovereign Grace Ministries or the specific individuals named in the lawsuit. The purpose of this statement is not to render a verdict on the charges, nor in any way to trivialize the sins alleged. We realize some will construe this post as confirmation of their worst suspicions, but we trust most of our brothers and sisters will be able to consider our explanation with an open heart and a fair mind. Our silence was not decided upon lightly; neither was our decision to break this silence. Our prayer is that one day—and please, Lord, soon—all who face injustice of any kind will see the Lord bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his justice as the noonday (Ps. 37:6).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Julie Anne's picture

The Christian Post today posted an article written by Morgan Lee in which she interviewed Tullian Tchividjian.  Morgan Lee tweeted the article to me and I sent it out on social media.  Probably within 30 minutes or so, the article was yanked by The Christian Post.   Boz Tchividjian (Tullian's brother) reported on his GRACE.net Facebook page:  "Not to my knowledge did he request it's removal. He's the one who told me that it would be posted." (Source)

I'm not sure what is going on, but it's very odd to remove an article like this. But this is not the first time we've seen things like this among TGC.  

Someone got the cached article here.  Here are some highlights:
 

Tchvidjian added that he was “pretty disturbed” when Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor published a statement on TGC website in May 2013 which defended Mahaney, saying it looked “like the good-old boys club covering their own.”

“I thought it was premature. I thought it was insensitive. I communicated with the guys who wrote the statement that I was disappointed, that I thought it was unwise and premature and that they needed to clarify that their statement was not a statement from The Gospel Coaltion, per se, but was their own personal statement,” Tchividjian explained.

“There were some of us on the coaltion, or who were associated with it, who didn’t want to be associated with their defense of C.J.,” he continued. “I’ve just been disgusted by the whole thing.”

Last week, Tchvidjian said that he was informed via a friend on TGC’s council that the groups’s leadership wanted his blog posts removed “ASAP”. According to the contact, TGC leadership…..noted that part of it’s decision seemed to “be personal, some theological.” “I was told the other day that conversations about me have been going on for a year, which I didn’t know until the other day,” said Tchividjian.

If this article had remained online, Tullian would have been the first person connected with TGC to speak strongly against the way the men at TGC have handled this SGM sex abuse fiasco. Oh, and CJ is still slated to speak in June at a conference in Arizona.  In the secular world, the head of an organization would go on administrative leave for only one case of sexual compromise.  Shouldn't a Christian's response be above reproach?  The sex abuse cases span over decades.  This is ridiculous.  Mahaney needs to step down from ministry until the case is over and he is declared innocent. He is a distraction because so many witnesses claim he knew the abuse was going on and did nothing.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree with Bro. Wilson that part of the problem is the influence of celebrity culture on Christianity. I have mixed feelings about this, because if you are doing something worthwhile, and doing it well, others want to know how you did it so they can reproduce it. Cooperative ministry efforts are a good thing. Sharing knowledge and experience through books and commentaries is helpful. The problem is when it becomes a 'celebrity' thing, especially if they are described as "the Lord's anointed" or "God's man" and thus the hem of their garments are untouchable. Elitism is somewhere in that mix as well, where the Joe Schmoes don't have a voice when the Muckity-Mucks are obviously screwing up, because Joe Schmoe didn't attend Such-n-Such Seminary and doesn't know ancient Greek or Latin.

Well, no one needs to know Greek or Latin to understand that messing with kids is perverted, and covering it up makes you an accessory to perversion.  

Then there's the quandary of discussing a case that is in the midst of an investigation or litigation. If you are silent, it is assumed that there is a cover up, and if you speak without full knowledge of the facts, not only are you going to violate Proverbs 18:13, but you are highly likely to open-mouth-insert-foot. If you aren't directly connected in some way, the only thing you can do is about the specific situation is speculate, which leads to all sorts of craziness. The only thing left to do is the discuss the hypotheticals and try to extrapolate from that, which is only one step from speculation, and is often misinterpreted.

I agree with Julia that whether innocent or guilty, if you've been accused of a serious crime or ethics violation, you need to step down until the case is over. If the Gospel is really the most important thing, then having someone in the pulpit who has such a big cloud over their heads is a detriment to ministry.

All that said, I think Roger's point is the most important take-away from all this- do what's right where you are and within your own circle of ministry and influence. Speak out against evil when you have knowledge of it. What else can one do?

Jay's picture

Julie Anne wrote:

The Christian Post today posted an article written by Morgan Lee in which she interviewed Tullian Tchividjian.  Morgan Lee tweeted the article to me and I sent it out on social media.  Probably within 30 minutes or so, the article was yanked by The Christian Post.   Boz Tchividjian (Tullian's brother) reported on his GRACE.net Facebook page:  "Not to my knowledge did he request it's removal. He's the one who told me that it would be posted." (Source)

I'm not sure what is going on, but it's very odd to remove an article like this. But this is not the first time we've seen things like this among TGC.  

Julie Ann, the article was apparently reposted and SI linked to it this morning.

Quote:
If this article had remained online, Tullian would have been the first person connected with TGC to speak strongly against the way the men at TGC have handled this SGM sex abuse fiasco. Oh, and CJ is still slated to speak in June at a conference in Arizona.  In the secular world, the head of an organization would go on administrative leave for only one case of sexual compromise.  Shouldn't a Christian's response be above reproach?  The sex abuse cases span over decades.  This is ridiculous.  Mahaney needs to step down from ministry until the case is over and he is declared innocent. He is a distraction because so many witnesses claim he knew the abuse was going on and did nothing.

I agree with this section in bold.  I doubt that Mahaney will actually speak in Arizona - there's still plenty of time to have him drop out or however he wants to put it - but not much would surprise me anymore in general.  

I will say this - I've been far more impressed at how Josh Harris has handled this (from what I've seen) than I have been with either TGC or Mahaney.  But I'm not keeping a close eye on this.

I guess my takeaway from this is simply Ps. 118:8-9: "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes."

As Joel would say - "Straight Ahead!" 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Wayne Wilson's picture

I've been far more impressed at how Josh Harris has handled this (from what I've seen) than I have been with either TGC or Mahaney.  But I'm not keeping a close eye on this.

As one who has kept a closer eye on this, I couldn't agree with this more. 

mmartin's picture

With all this talk about a good 'ol boys club, slapping each other's backs, covering for each other, power-hungry elitism, celebrity-ism, sexual abuse, etc.

It's sure to be about only those dead, weird, out of touch, Fundy people.

 

 

Right?

JohnBrian's picture

ON SOME RECENT CHANGES AT TGC

We want to give readers help in understanding some of the changes that have gone on at The Gospel Coalition of late. One minister, Tullian Tchividjian, was asked to move his blog off our website. Two members of the Council, Joshua Harris and C. J. Mahaney, resigned from the Council (Tullian was not a member of the Council). Each move had significantly different reasons behind it.

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