Sex and Power: What’s Up With Sovereign Grace Ministries?

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Mark Mincy's picture

Gotta say...this whole SGM thing stinks to high heaven.  I see Challies put a little piece out there the other day asking for caution on this whole deal.  I sympathize with his thoughts (I think).  But let's not kid ourselves here.  There are plenty of incontrovertible facts already out there.  Josh Harris led his church to withdraw from SGM.  Other churches are withdrawing.  Something is up, and it isn't good.  Circling the wagons under the banner of "wait until all the facts come out" is sounding more and more like damage control.  Mohler, Dever, Piper, and others who continue to give Mahaney a platform during this time are very unwise, IMO.  The good 'ol boy system knows no denominational or "movement" barriers.  God help us.

Mark Mincy

Julie Anne's picture

How many witnesses does Challies need?  There are far more than the biblical "2" witnesses.  There are hundreds of witnesses.  Let's stop this insanity.

Challies' article is ridiculous.  He is certainly part of the ol' boy system.  See for yourself:  http://boarsheadtavern.com/2013/02/28/36079/#more-36079

This is a proper response to abuse in church and it is written by a pastor:  http://goo.gl/8EEkX

Mohler and Mahaney are definitely in it together.  SGM headquarters recently moved to be next to Mohler and Co in Louisville.  They have financial dealings with each other - each having donated thousands of dollars to each other:  http://kinnon.tv/2011/07/c-j-mahaney-semper-reformanda-or-not-so-much.ht...

I've been watching the responses on other SGM articles posted here on SharperIron and the silence is pretty deafening.    Why is that?    What does it take before one says to another brother:  "hey, buddy, I think in the light of these strong allegations presented by multiple witnesses, you ought to step aside until this thing gets resolved."  Is anyone doing that?    Even if they are not a part of SGM church?   Or does it become "not my business" because I'm not a part of SGM?   Help me understand the logic of this silence, please. 
 

 

 

 

rogercarlson's picture

I agree Mark.  I have been very vocal about our problems within the IFB.  I agree that if the same thigns are happening in SGM that they should be help accountable.  Abuse is wicked and should never be tollerated or covered up.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Wayne Wilson's picture

Tim Challies article is quite odd, and for me disappointing.   He says he hardly knows C. J. Mahaney after being a major SGM cheerleader for years.  I can understand his need to put distance there for his own reputation's sake, but it seems so transparent, why bother?  It looks bad.  Then he claims he will only read newspaper accounts to find out what's going on with SGM. What? Do not the public actions of churches, open letters from former SGM "apostles" and countless testimonies from former members and former pastors mean nothing?  There are public witnesses to incredibly poor shepherding, extreme legalism, abuse and cover up.  In the Tomczak case, probable blackmail. (This is not gossip, but rather an open claim). 

Challies also says we are to "think the best" about Mahaney.  But why isn't that extended to the hundreds of Mahaney detractors trying to expose very dark things in SGM, many of which are openly acknowledged by former leaders and exiting churches.  The abused sheep have as much right to be "thought the best of" as the shepherd, don't they? 

I am baffled  why Mahaney is so special, since other ministries are criticized or attacked for their errors all the time.  I can only conclude it is in fact the cultivated friendships he has made and shared events that have entangled so many with him publicly.

When the shepherds don't speak up for the sheep, God intervenes and the foundations of men begin to crumble.  That appears to be happening in very dramatic ways.  May the truth come out and the lessons the Lord wants to teach the church at large be received with proper humility.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

The temptation for any individual, church, or group of churches to forsake the cross-centered life for the self-centered life is powerful.

Mark Mincy's picture

Jim wrote:

Is this a true statement? "There have been no criminal charges of any kind"

Help me figure this out. Thanks

My guess would be that this has something to do with legal terminology - i.e. allegations versus charges, etc.  Maybe an attorney can clarify.

Mark Mincy

Julie Anne's picture

The SGM case is a civil case brought on by victims/families against SGM and specifically named churches, the school connected with Covenant Life (former flagship church of SGM) and named individuals (including Mahaney, Tomczak, etc).  

Criminal charges were filed in some of the cases when parents notified authorities (against advice of pastors/church leaders) and perpetrators were arrested, convicted, and served time.  There is another recent arrest (criminal case) involving someone who was connected with SGM/Covenant Life youth ministries.  The man arrested was Pastor Nate Morales and here is the story: Nevada pastor faces child sex abuse charge

 

Greg Linscott's picture

I've been watching the responses on other SGM articles posted here on SharperIron and the silence is pretty deafening.    Why is that?

It would be similar to why you don't see a lot of discussion on abuses within the Roman Catholic Church. It isn't that people aren't concerned or are defending the wrongdoing... but there is a lack of familiarity with the parties among the SI membership, so there isn't as much to say.

I'm not saying SGM is in the same doctrinal category as the RCC- but since they are not cessationists, they would be somewhat foreign to the vast majority of SI members, whose knowledge would be that they publish music, and that's where CJ Mahaney, Joshua Harris, and Bob Kauflin go to church... (That's somewhat tongue in cheek...)

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

I've been watching the responses on other SGM articles posted here on SharperIron and the silence is pretty deafening.    Why is that?

It would be similar to why you don't see a lot of discussion on abuses within the Roman Catholic Church. It isn't that people aren't concerned or are defending the wrongdoing... but there is a lack of familiarity with the parties among the SI membership, so there isn't as much to say.

I'm not saying SGM is in the same doctrinal category as the RCC- but since they are not cessationists, they would be somewhat foreign to the vast majority of SI members, whose knowledge would be that they publish music, and that's where CJ Mahaney, Joshua Harris, and Bob Kauflin go to church... (That's somewhat tongue in cheek...)

I have to disagree, rather strongly, that there is a lack a familiarity with the parties among the SI membership. Maybe some but not with the consistent participants and certainly not the Administrators and Moderators.

If you type "Mahaney" into a search of comments with no ending dates (like the last 60 days or something) you will get 16 pages of comments, never mind what was provided as a link of SI articles with a plethora of response at the beginning of the article.

Secondly, many here are not only quite aware but quite regular participants or involvers in Neo-Calvinist and Neo-Reformed circles, not to mention a few semi-circles with some tolerant classic or orthodox Calvinist and Reformed, in which Mahaney has been celebrated and promoted as a leader and Teacher to be followed.

But it does not end there. It does creep into Fundamentalism, via NIU and Matt Olson who is embracing a relationship with the charismatic SGM movement with Mahaney as its head. I believe it is a hard case to make of unfamiliarity.

_____________

There is a very ugly reality going on, however in the broad spectrum. If this were observed as the doings of a Baptist Fundamentalist with his associates circling the wagons, blazing fire would be summoned by those who are allegedly so concerned about cover-ups and Evangelical/Fundamental ecclesiastical/spiritual abuse. But it isn't by a Baptist Fundamentalist, this time it is institutional and systemic abuse developed and implemented by the oversight of CJ Mahaney who was not qualified to lead a ministry in the first place. This time, those who have crusaded have one of their own to deal with and now you see the depth of their conviction, rather shallow to say the least.

Al Mohler (and all of his SBC and Southern Seminary resources), Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Russell Moore, Carl Trueman, Ray Ortland, Kevin DeYoung, T4G, The Gospel Coalition,Tim Challies and of course Ed Stetzer of Lifeway which has published and profited from Mahaney's books along with the some of the others above (I pick out Ed Stetzer especially for his hypocrisy in criticizing Baptist Fundamentalist for being slow and ineffective if not indifferent with the Hyles/Schaap systemic issues and subsequent problems vs his now "silent as a lamb and as complicit as Bonnie was to Clyde" treatment of the CJ Mahaney systemic abuse and rotten theology) all are now and will continue to be unable to mount concerns. They are doing the very thing that occurred to protect FBCH and its leader, Hyles and later, Schaap though Schaap's event, while sensational with regard to publicity, pales in comparison to all that Hyles did negatively during his reign.

I understand the care of another brother but this man, CJ Mahaney, has been unfit for ministry from the beginning. The money trail that the Wartburg Watch uncoverd regarding Al Mohler and Southern Seminary in which Mahaney's stature and promotion rose corresponding with the amount SGM(under his direction) gave to the school is the most rotten kind of smell one can encounter in ministry.

You will continue to hear the silence, you will continue to watch the wagons circle and many of you will foolishly continue to feed at the troughs of these men. They have a duty to remove CJ Mahaney from public ministry if possible either directly or withholding their approval and trust and certainly should abstain from partnering with Mahaney if he insists on continuing it independently, until this matter can be settled. If the church or SGM, I should say, wishes to continue to pay Mahaney until it is settled, that is reasonable and fine. The numbers of people affected and their volume is too great for anything else. And until these men take a position of such, they ought to be considered not having the best interest of the body of Christ in mind which is your interest and should be rebuked and avoided with regard to the acceptance and promotion of their ministry.

_________

As to the Internet Monk article. While I do not agree with all the theological views of the women or men of the Wartburg watch, I do agree with the matters of fact in the case of CJ Mahaney, much of the concerns are these.

Barry L.'s picture

"I've been watching the responses on other SGM articles posted here on SharperIron and the silence is pretty deafening.    Why is that?"

 

Because the sheep won't say anything until Al Mohler says something...

Greg Linscott's picture

Even assuming all your points have merit, a personal familiarity with public personalities or the presence of individuals raised in Fundamentalist circles flirting and meandering in those directions does not mean that people are intimately acquainted with the way specific churches function in that movement. If you compare the attention given to the situations involving Schaap or Phelps, for example, more was said at SI than elsewhere simply because it was closer to home and more of the SI membership is familiar with how such circumstances would unfold in an IFB church- not to mention we had members with various degrees of personal observation and experience in the situation.

Being familiar with an author or speaker does not make one an expert, say, on their personal life as a husband or father, or how they treat retail staff when they go to a store or restaurant. Knowing who a celebrity pastor is doesn't mean that you know how his church is run, or what the conduct of members in affiliated churches is.

I am merely observing that most SI readers are unable to say much more that, "wow, that's an outrage," which doesn't make for a very interesting comment thread. There isn't a lot of room for disagreement or discussion, since no one has much new or controversial to bring to the table, which is generally what makes threads get posting attention.

Somewhat related example: This thread shows up among the "Month most viewed" entries at SI. There is no commentary at all, though. What does one say about the matter? What else is there to say? Does that mean no one cares? I would say not, judging by the attention of people reading. Something similar is probably happening here. There are people who would be or are outraged, but don't know enough to say much, and no one has said anything here that is controversial to respond to.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Jay's picture

Because the sheep won't say anything until Al Mohler says something...

Hogwash.

I have been very, very vocal about the Phelps issue, but that it because, as Greg noted, those were the circles that I traveled in many years ago.  It is an embarassment beyond words (from my perspective) that Phelps is still looked at as a leader in the Concord/BJU/FBFI community, and I don't understand why he's allowed to remain in ministry at the church he's in.  I've said that publicly here on SI - if you don't believe me, look up the posts.  They're open for anyone who wants to do so.

Sovereign Grace?  Well, I don't know any SGM pastors, don't attend a SGM church, and know little of Mahaney.  I've listened to some of his messages from the Resolved conferences and have one, possibly two, books that he edited (can't remember right now).  Sooo....not exactly sure why I *should* feel the need to speak out on it.  Mahaney left the SGM movement for a year, and I thought that was a good development.  He's apparently been reinstated in the SGM circle.  I'm ambivalent about that because I have no way of knowing what's going on and if he's getting the counseling that he needs.  If I ever swap numbers with him (or we develop some kind of relationship), then yes, I'll ask him about it and I'll have more to say.  Right now, Mahaney has as much of a relationship to me as "Barry L." or "Julie Anne" does.  I know the name and that's it.

The problem with these kinds of issues is that a lot of the people who want to talk about it are actually here to gossip or attack.  They aren't interested in the issue - they're interested in attacking a person that they may have never met or know little of other than what they've read on a blog (usually the blog of someone who is carrying, if not nursing, their own grudge).

If there are criminal charges, the authorities will deal with that, and I hope they do. I am glad that agencies like GRACE exist to help provide counsel about structuring ministries around preventing or picking up the pieces after abuse exists.  But as for the constant bickering and gossiping and tattling between brothers and sisters in Christ - no thanks.  I've got other, more important things to do.  As for the civil cases - well, Paul wrote about that:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous [r]instead of the saints? Or do you not know that [s]the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, [t]why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? [u]I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. [v]Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even [w]your own brothers!
   
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8 ESV)
 
=======================================================
[r] [Matt. 18:17]
[s] Dan. 7:22; [Matt. 19:28; Rev. 20:4]
[t] [ch. 5:12]
[u] ch. 15:34; [ch. 4:14]
[v] [Matt. 5:39, 40]
[w] 1 Thess. 4:6

It is beyond embarrassing that those who have the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18) have to resort to hiring attorneys to advise them on how to best get revenge (because in the end, that's basically what it amounts to) on people that they will spend eternity with and that should be their co-laborers.  A believer hires an unbeliever to sue for damages against another believer?  How on Earth does that demonstrate longsuffering, peace, patience, meekness or self-control?  How on Earth is that a demonstration of Christ's love for us - which is our responsibilityScriptural duty (John 13:34, Romans 12:10, 2 Cor. 13:11)?  I'm sorry, but that kind of wisdom is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic (Jas. 3:15).  It should not characterize believers.

If someone is on SI simply to beat up on other brothers or to consistently pick at other people's flaws, I think they ought to be shown the door quickly as liars, gossips, and schismatics.  If there's discussion about facts and how to do things well or how to avoid these kinds of problems, then let's discuss that.  But I have no time or patience with rehashing all the things that someone may or may not have done and reiterating all the details.  Let the police and courts deal with the criminal stuff.  Let the church deal with it's own mess, including excommunicating their own, where that's appropriate. 

That's the way it ought to be done.  Let's do it that way.

"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

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Even assuming all your points have merit, a personal familiarity with public personalities or the presence of individuals raised in Fundamentalist circles flirting and meandering in those directions does not mean that people are intimately acquainted with the way specific churches function in that movement. If you compare the attention given to the situations involving Schaap or Phelps, for example, more was said at SI than elsewhere simply because it was closer to home and more of the SI membership is familiar with how such circumstances would unfold in an IFB church- not to mention we had members with various degrees of personal observation and experience in the situation.

Being familiar with an author or speaker does not make one an expert, say, on their personal life as a husband or father, or how they treat retail staff when they go to a store or restaurant. Knowing who a celebrity pastor is doesn't mean that you know how his church is run, or what the conduct of members in affiliated churches is.

No but then according to your threshold, "expert" you would not be permitted to raise any concerns about much of anything and no such threshold exists as a socially ratified prerequisite to express concern and both explore and present facts as well as understanding those facts and the trend of evidence and neither does the Word of God require such an expertise or assume it, it requires discernment, wisdom and honesty and that is becoming more and more distant with these men whose integrity is legitimately being called into question with their complicity and resistance in the matter. So as to the claim of innocence that one is "uninformed thus they cannot speak", while it might hold at the moment it does not hold for long seeing that when such controversy is part of the body of Christ it is incumbent upon believers to inform themselves that they may, indeed, know from whom to separate and with whom they may fellowship. Ignorance is not a valid plea as a way of dealing with an issue once one discovers they are ignorant about matters (I am speaking generally here).

So, in fact, the people speaking about Phelps or Schaap were not experts or intimately familiar with the details but they spoke and loudly and many who were not familiar enough to form reasonable views and express their concerns, made themselves aware, they did inform themselves. I don't have to be an expert to watch the Neo-Calvinist covered wagons circling.

Don Johnson's picture

 

quite frankly, Jay, the way you describe your connection to SGM would be pretty close to your connection to Chuck Phelps. Your knowledge of the situation is about equal, but your reaction is entirely different. Alex has a very good point.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Greg Linscott's picture

No but then according to your threshold, "expert" you would not be permitted to raise any concerns about much of anything and no such threshold exists as a socially ratified prerequisite to express concern and both explore and present facts as well as understanding those facts and the trend of evidence and neither does the Word of God require such an expertise or assume it, it requires discernment, wisdom and honesty and that is becoming more and more distant with these men whose integrity is legitimately being called into question with their complicity and resistance in the matter.

Well, whatever, else, that's one really long sentence... Smile

But to your point, I'm not arguing permission. I'm observing established connections and amount of invested interest. Read "expert" however you want, but all I meant was knowing who an author like some of the names mentioned in SGM churches doesn't mean people know about practical issues like church polity and so on. I know that speaking personally, I have never lived in an area that had an SGM church, myself. I don't know anything about how they function, other than what limited reading I've done online. My familiarity is limited to knowing who some of their authors are and so on. I've never heard any of them speak or attended a conference where they were featured.

I haven't chimed in on much lately at SI, but I did have a more vested interest in the other two stories that have been raised because of where I ministered in the past and circles of influence I was raised in. Others' reasons are different from mine, but there are among the SI membership a significant percentage who would have less institutional connection and investment in the SGM situations than they would in BJU/IFB connected ones. Like I said earlier, it is similar to how SI members don't spend a lot of time discussing sexual deviancy among Catholic priests. There just isn't the deep investment or familiarity to warrant the collective interest.

But I could be wrong. If so, people certainly don't need my permission to comment.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Mark Mincy's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

quite frankly, Jay, the way you describe your connection to SGM would be pretty close to your connection to Chuck Phelps. Your knowledge of the situation is about equal, but your reaction is entirely different. Alex has a very good point.

Jay,

FWIW, I had the exact same reaction as Don to your post.  It seems like you are saying that it's ok for you to be very, very vocal about Chuck Phelps but it's not ok for others to be very, very vocal about SGM.  

I understand some of what you say regarding folks who seem overly consumed with these types of issues.  But the fact of the matter is many people have been hurt.  And when organizations seem to be stonewalling it certainly doesn't help matters.  I appreciate your appeal to Scripture, but unfortunately I don't think things can be quite as "black and white" as you make them out to be.  Leaving aside an examination of all the texts you mention (but acknowledging there might be a difference of opinion on some of the application of those texts) I think we have to acknowledge that many times Christian organizations don't act or respond in a very "Christian" way.  And God has ordained government (however imperfect said government may be) to secure justice for the innocent and oppressed.  These things are so, so complicated.  The answers are not easy. 

Mark Mincy

Julie Anne's picture

Jay said:

 

But I have no time or patience with rehashing all the things that someone may or may not have done and reiterating all the details.  Let the police and courts deal with the criminal stuff.  

Very interesting sentences here, Jay.  The victims were prevented from letting police deal with the criminal "stuff."  They were told that it would be wrong to report to police.  Have you read the lawsuit?  One of the complaints is that church leaders interfered with parents who were attempting to report.  They wanted crimes to remain within the church because they thought they could deal with it better than civil authorities.  

"Let the church deal with it's own mess, including excommunicating their own, where that's appropriate."

The church wasn't dealing with its own mess.  Corrupt leaders stood by other corrupt leaders and allowed the cover-up of abuse (including allowing pedophiles access to children) to continue.  This is what caused families to join together to file a civil lawsuit.

I sure hope someone has some patience with rehashing.  This needs to be resolved once and for all. 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

It is a critical point to note that had Mahaney acted and ministered only within his local assembly or ecclesiastical authority the plea of "Let's not insert ourselves" might stand but Mahaney's ministry, by his own efforts and that of other men and women outside his ecclesiastical authority was and is significant. Thus these same men and women who partnered or even promoted by way of approval have a duty to respond as publicly on this matter as do all he attempted to disciple via his very public ministry in conferences and books and other various media.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

There is plenty of responsibility to go around in these situations. Leadership becomes enamored of their own power and begins to manipulate Scripture to maintain their position. This eventually sears their conscience to the point where what are obviously unconscionable acts are tolerated, and perpetrators are protected in a warped effort to preserve a 'greater good'. They claim the greater good is ministry, which is Christian code for their paycheck.

These problems are not particular to religious organizations or a specific denomination. Predators look for easy prey, and people who are vulnerable are found in schools, doctor's offices, law enforcement, office buildings, and families. Any time we place the 'good' of preserving the status quo over upholding morality, Biblical principles, and the protection of the weak and innocent, those weak and innocent will be victimized.

However, once a person realizes their own victimization, they become responsible to do something about it. Yes, they've been hurt, betrayed, and violated. They are mentally and emotionally lying on the floor in pieces. But part of their healing will come from putting those pieces back together, standing up for themselves, and bringing about justice. Those around them are responsible to support them and encourage them to get the help they need- legal, physical, spiritual, and psychological. 

Our family was in a church where a turnover in leadership began a descent into all kinds of abuse and immorality. We did what we could to address leadership on many occasions, but were patronized and ignored. Eventually our conscience overcame our reluctance to leave, and we removed ourselves from the congregation, dealing with all the fallout of gossip and loss of friends. However, many who were supportive of our actions, knowing and even experiencing everything that we did, are still there, tithing and supporting this ministry because they'd rather be with the devil they know. Now those relationships are being left behind, because I can't in good conscience be in a relationship with someone who refuses to  address immorality. I don't want to be with the 'devil' of any stripe.

It's also easy to tell people to report things to law enforcement, but we have done so on more than one occasion, and the fact is, law enforcement will not take on every case, even with evidence. A member of the aforementioned church, who is also a cop, claimed that he searched my son's record and found charges against him for sexual offenses, and went around 'warning' people about him. First, this is in itself a felony called 'tampering with LEDS'. Second, there are no such charges against my son, so this 'Christian' cop was lying. This guy then coerced his daughter into filing rape charges against my son (as in "If I don't do what my dad says, he'll beat me"). These charges were dropped, not only because of a lack of evidence (not one trace of her DNA was found in his apartment where she claimed the attack happened), but she also wrote to my son to apologize and admitted in writing that she lied.

The police are also aware that she said her dad beats her, as this was in her letter, which was admitted as evidence. Then her father followed my son around a mall and into the parking lot, and threatened his life in public, (as in "I'm going to blank kill you, you blank blank blank") in front of witnesses. Cameras recorded him following my son around the mall, hiding behind clothing racks, and also into the parking lot. His car was not parked anywhere near my son's, so he had no reason to be in that section of the parking lot. The altercation itself was not on camera, but a couple of his friends were there and gave an account to the police. My son called my husband when he saw he was being followed, and my husband could hear someone screaming at him through the phone. After all this, the police decided that there wasn't enough evidence to continue investigating or press charges.

The church rallies around this psychopath, of course, claiming that the rape charges are probably true anyway, that the father was justified in making those threats, and that even if the charges were false, my son has probably done 'other things' that warrant these attacks, so he 'deserves' whatever they throw at him. It's a bunch of sick people enabling other sick people. 

I said all that to say, having experienced this situation, we know that while it is still important to report things to law enforcement, there is no guarantee that an investigation will happen or that justice, on this earth, will be done. 

Every single one of us has to do what we can where we are, and try not to be discouraged.  

I think it's easy to point fingers at these 'big names', but what are we doing about the problems we see in our own churches, and in our own lives? Are we tolerating immorality in ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our family, and in our church? Don't expect from others what you don't demand from yourself. 

rogercarlson's picture

I was one that was very vocal about Dr. Phelps.  I was just made aware of the Mahaney/SGM mess and I find it just as disturbing.  I would be as vocal about this if I had more time to research it.  During the Willis trial, I actually had more time and I did have more invested.  I was on the board of our state association and one of our member churches was implicated in the 20/20 program.  I do agree with jay about Chuck Phelps, because I actually saw the words he said in court (compared to his website).  But I don't want to rehash that.

 

I do find this current situation just as horrible.  But I will not have the time to verify as I did during the other situation.  At the time I was a full-time pastor, two part-time jobs, and one of those allowed me time to be online.  Now I work two full-times and a part-time, and one of those jobs requires that I drive 500-700 miles a week.  So, I won't have time to verify on this one.  It doesn't mean I am less concerned.  It just means, that I don't have time, and CJ is not on my radar screen, as much as the other situation was.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

DavidO's picture

I thought the Phelps thing was bad.  From what I've read Mahaney's appears worse.  But I think Susan hits it on the head below.  This will change when individuals and congregations are willing to take responsibility and hold both themselves and their leaders accountable. 

 

Susan R wrote:
. . .but what are we doing about the problems we see in our own churches, and in our own lives? Are we tolerating immorality in ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our family, and in our church?

Jay's picture

I understand the reaction by Julie Ann, Don, and Mark Mincy.  I really do, because I've seen it myself.  There are places where church leadership covers up criminal activity (either by deliberately not talking about it, contradicting the accounts of the accusers or by indirectly brushing it off as a minor matter and making it seem like the accusers are making it up or whatever).  That behavior is horrific, soul-destroying, and contrary to good leadership AND spiritual leadership.  It's also, on occasion, criminal (people can [and should!] be charged with "conspiracy" and "failure to report" among other things for not handling it correctly if circumstances dictate).  That's why I said that the cops can and should be involved with this kind of thing, especially if you aren't getting the support you need from church leadership in these matters.

I don't know what possesses Pastors and ministers to do that kind of behavior.  I suppose that it just boils down to a mindset of fear and defensiveness - as if the church will fall apart because they faced the truth or because they really believe that their whole ministry rides on them.  It doesn't - it depends on Christ.  I understand that there are congregations where the sheep have been so beaten down that they can't contemplate the idea of going to the police because the Pastor said no.  Again, I've been through that type of situation.  

The solution to those kinds of problems isn't reporting to the police or bringing in a new Pastor or more effective counseling and safeguards in our institutions or even talking about it on websites.  It's getting a clear view of Christ and a better understanding of our sin.  It's about being broken before God - that we are all 'insufficient for these things'. When we are serious about sin, the obstacles that people throw up in our way that would keep us from speaking out about injustice will not seem as insurmountable.  The temptation to hang on to bitterness and hurt (because we've been hurt by others) will pale in comparison to the injustices that Christ suffered on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).  When we understand Christ, Pastors will shepherd more effectively, knowing in their hearts and souls that they will give account of all the things that they do, and that every word uttered will be defended in front of the God of the Universe, who is both omniscient and omnipresent.  We will get more of John 3:30 leadership and less of 3 John 9-10 in our churches and organizations when we understand our sin and God's perfect righteousness.

For me, though...I don't know know enough about Mahaney to pass judgment on that matter.  Some argue that I don't know enough to pass judgment on Phelps, and I disagree with them.  But the best, and most effective use of my time at this point is to do the things that God commands me to do - Love Him, and Love the brothers and sisters in Christ.  Mahaney, as far as I know, is one of those brothers.  So if I can do anything, I can and should do the following:

* Pray for the truth to come out (whatever that is)

* Pray for Mahaney (if he's innocent OR if he's guilty of the allegations)

* Pray for the victims and their families to find healing and restoration between brothers and in Christ.

* Pray for the bystanders who see the Church shamed and defiled in this situation

* Pray for SGM - that their organization (denomination?) continues to structure itself in a manner that would be pleasing to the Lord or that they'll make the changes that they need (even big, painful changes) to be more like Christ.

* At the end of the day - pray that God's will be done.

That's the extent of my involvement with this matter, and that's where I want to leave it.

"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

If I may, I'd like to share a bit about the culture of SGM.  I've been studying it over 5 years now.  I've been part of churches with similar teachings/philosophies which is what originally led me to the SGM survivor blogs - they were telling my story.

SGM and similar church groups have difficulty labeling what society would consider as  "crimes".  They keep it labeled as "sin", instead.   In SGM, there is a focus on the Cross, with not much mention of grace and the resurrection.  This creates a strong emphasis on sin.  I've heard the word "sin-sniffing" to describe it.  Care group leaders were encouraged to keep track of members and their sins and report it to pastors.  There is an obsessive amount of introspection of sin in one's personal life as well as the life of others.  This creates an oppressive church environment.

When word got to church leaders about sex abuse, it was not thought of as a crime (which should have been the obvious response), but as a sin issue.  Keep in mind the culture of extreme focus on sin.  In SGM culture, the most important thing is someone's spiritual health.  The idea of turning someone over to authority would in their mind, it would not benefit someone spiritually because obviously civil authorities do not address the heart issue of sin.  So pastors/church leaders took it upon themselves to make sure these sins (crimes) were dealt with in-house.  For some reason, they overlook Romans 13:1 in an attempt to achieve their goal of complete repentance and reconciliation between perpetrator and abused.  

In one incident mentioned in the lawsuit,  parents were told by church leaders to take their young toddler sex abuse victim to a meeting in which the sexual perpetrator was present in an effort to reconcile the two.  The toddler saw the perpetrator and hid beneath the table, crying.  You see, in this culture, the sin of unforgiveness and bitterness is every bit as evil as the sexual sin committed against the child.  The hyper-Calvinist thought of sin comes into play here - all are sinners, not one sin is more sinful than the other.  Equal amount of emphasis is placed on the victim to forgive the perpetrator as the perpetrator to repent.  

One very destructive pattern I've seen as a result of this obsession on sin and the cross without the balance of grace, love, mercy, and resurrection is that people question their salvation over and over again.  This becomes a pattern and it gets so spiritually and emotionally overwhelming that many feel they can never measure up (we really can't measure up, but they are missing the point of grace), and they abandon church altogether.  

One of SGM founders, Brent Detwiler published a 600+-page document in which he chronicles the behind-the-scenes correspondence and happenings, showing how church leaders attempted to show CJ Mahaney how he was out of line.  If you take a look at some of the correspondence between leaders, you should be able to easily see this "sin-sniffing" culture.  http://www.scribd.com/sgmwikileaks

 

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jay wrote:

For me, though...I don't know know enough about Mahaney

Unless, of course, you are buying his publications and giving them to others (Post 29306 Shedding Some Light on Conservative Evangelicalism).

Jay wrote:
Thought you might be interested in a book edited by CJ Mahaney...I bought a copy two years ago, and it's been a fantastic and helpful work...so much so that I've given a second copy out to someone in my church

Or if he is one of your favorite Preachers (Post 9186 Favorite Preachers)

Jay wrote:
I'm a little surprised no one has mentioned James Montgomery Boice...also like CJ Mahaney.

But one thread was 2009 and the other 2010 and it is 2013 so people do forget, I must admit.

 

Jay's picture

Alex,

I endorsed one book, edited by Mahaney.  I would do that again in a heartbeat because I can't find any similarly helpful books on the subject, as I mentioned in the post you linked to.

I also said I *like* Mahaney.  I've listened to some of his Resolved sermons, and that's it, as I also already said.

So your point is...what exactly? 

Have a pleasant and restful evening, brother.  Looking forward to meeting you in Glory some day. Smile

"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

Larry's picture

Moderator

I've been watching the responses on other SGM articles posted here on SharperIron and the silence is pretty deafening.    Why is that?    What does it take before one says to another brother:  "hey, buddy, I think in the light of these strong allegations presented by multiple witnesses, you ought to step aside until this thing gets resolved."  Is anyone doing that?    Even if they are not a part of SGM church?   Or does it become "not my business" because I'm not a part of SGM?   Help me understand the logic of this silence, please. 

Perhaps the "logic of this silence" is found in your question, "What does it take before one says to another brother, "You ought to step aside ...""Since none of the people you think need to be told "You ought to step aside," participate or read here, why would someone say it here. If the purpose of speaking were to tell them to step aside, this is not the place to do it.

So why would we say it here? Who knows. Perhaps venting. Perhaps posturing. Perhaps the love of hearing our own voice. Perhaps to make sure no one thinks we are one of "them" ... who knows. But it wouldn't accomplish the purpose you are claiming to be concerned about. With the HAC and other situations, people who participate here and read here were people with real influence and they were connected in some way to that situation.

Greg is probably correct as well, that most people here have nothing to add. What's there to say that hasn't been said? There's a PDF of several hundred pages, I believe. There are blogs threads with hundreds of comments in various places. SI is not a place connected with SGM so whatever is said here would be repeating what has been said elsewhere. I imagine most of the people here have lives and what not, and probably aren't compelled to chime in on something they know little about to which they have no connection.

However, more importantly, it is unfortunate when silence is considered complicity, approval, apathy, or fear. The cynicism of Alex and Barry is all too common, though it's hard to know by what method of divination they determined the reasons why people aren't speaking. Of course, I suspect that neither actually know what they are talking about. They are guessing, and probably badly guessing at that, at least with respect to SI. I doubt members at SI are huddling in the corner waiting for Al to speak up. It most cases, charity would call for a more careful response. Unfortunately, we have come to expect neither charity nor carefulness in some responses.

I will only say that if someone is waiting on Al Mohler or anyone else to say something, they are wrong. But if someone accuses others of waiting on Al Mohler or anyone else to say something, they need evidence or they need not to speak. Simply put, if you don't know why someone else doesn't say something, then don't pretend to know.

Silence should not be considered approval or apathy.

Rob Fall's picture

Why should I make any comments on a situation which doesn't come even tangentially close to my life and ministry.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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