The Gospel Coalition: Why We Have Been Silent about the SGM Lawsuit

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

handerson wrote:

Alex,

I don't disagree with what you've said. And I certainly did not mean to minimize what the victims have endured or the ensuing cover-up. I was simply trying to explain how such a cover-up could occur. In my mind, the doctrinal novelties (which I agree were taught and put in place by Mahaney) don't absolve him of responsibility--they actually increase his responsibility. And make it all the more necessary to highlight the abnormalities of this type of culture. I know SGM is going through a time of intense reflection and several prominent churches have left over precisely these issues.

And to Julie Anne-- I appreciate the disconnect between talk and action, but apart from actual relationship with SGM, I'm not sure what the folks here could do. Public statements--even those condemning such actions--are only as meaningful and effective as the actual relationship. Which is precisely why those closest to the situation (TGC and T4G) had such an opportunity to speak truth while the rest of us do not. 

Thank you for your follow-up.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Quote:

Furthermore, there is a real element of Proverbs 26:17 here, which tells me that "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." 

Well now, we wouldn't want the possibility of a poisonous teacher and leader to be considered a concern of "his own" now would we? LOL.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Jay wrote:

I get that many of you say that you aren't connected to SGM, that you have no relationship with them.  But that's wrong.  You do.  You are part of the Body of Christ.  Look what happened with the Penn State case.  People outside of Penn State were outraged.  That outrage forced action.  Shouldn't Christians behave better than a secular university? 

I think that the disagreement between us is that I don't think that being a part of the body of Christ doesn't give me license to go to SGM and demand changes.  Do I hope they change it?  Yes.  Is this whole issue a mess?  Absolutely.  Should they institute changes so that abuse can never happen again?  Of course.  Now - Can I demand that they conform to what I believe is Scriptural - not until I actually know someone who is able to make that kind of change and I can actually approach them about it. 

Justice for being sinned against is a legitimate demand (Revelation 6:9-11) - but God is the one that brings that justice.  It's worth noting that Jesus did not downplay their deaths or excuse the crime.  He told the martyrs to continue to wait for God to act.  Abuse is a horrible thing, a crime, and a sin that brings very, very real ramifications on the victim.  I don't think anyone is minimizing that.

Furthermore, there is a real element of Proverbs 26:17 here, which tells me that "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." 

I can (should) get involved with the FBFI / Phelps / NIU issues of different kinds (to grab some random topics from SI) because those were / are the circles that I grew up in, went to school in, and am familiar with in the hopes of affecting real change.  SGM?  Well, I know a guy who goes to an SGM church.  That's it for personal contact between myself and any one individual at SGM.  

What I can do is look at how we can prevent it from happening in our churches.  That's where the discussion is good and helpful and I think we can learn from this.  But I'm not in favor of acting like the Holy Spirit's pararescue team for an organization that I have very little involvement with (unless you count reading a book or listening to their music as 'involvement' - which I don't).

 

I think I have to disagree, Jay, for the following reasons.  First, this has become a national news story.  The people standing up for Mr. Mahaney are "leaders" of  what the world sees as conservative, Bible-believing Christianity.  They see the T4G and TGC guys acting very much like the Catholic bishops regarding heinous sin in the ranks.  I believe the Lord and the reputation of His church are well served if pastors and Christians leaders who are not blinded by celebrity or personal friendship speak out clearly.  Al Mohler is the go to guy in the media as a representative of conservative, orthodox Christianity.  When he ties himself to this madness (and the ties are very close), he harms us all. 

Second, I agree we don't need to "demand" change in SGM polity, etc. The Lord Himself is actually working to dismantle Mahaney's creation piece by piece, and it is an amazing thing to see.  Correction is going on.  God is cleaning house over there, and I don't think he's done.  But since major Evangelical voices are saying "move along. nothing to see here," those who see clear and present danger should speak up.  It strengthens the saints to see that leaders care about sin in our ranks (and by our ranks, I mean Bible-believing Christians).  Average people, even most Christians, don't see the little denominational groupings and camps we see.  To them, we're all part of the same group --- those folks who peach Jesus as the way of salvation and the Bible as the truth.  His name is at stake.  That's enough interest for me. 

Wayne Wilson's picture

Jay wrote:

Justice for being sinned against is a legitimate demand (Revelation 6:9-11) - but God is the one that brings that justice.  It's worth noting that Jesus did not downplay their deaths or excuse the crime.  He told the martyrs to continue to wait for God to act.  Abuse is a horrible thing, a crime, and a sin that brings very, very real ramifications on the victim.  I don't think anyone is minimizing that.

 

Sorry. I forgot to say my third point.  I don't think Rev 6:9-11 is meant to applied to people victimized by church leaders.  I think God gives the church the responsibility to honor Him by cleaning up its own act.  It's hard to imagine Paul or Peter telling victims of horrible shepherds in the church to wait for the consummation, and not say a word. 

Mark Mincy's picture

Jay wrote:

 

Furthermore, there is a real element of Proverbs 26:17 here, which tells me that "Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears." 

 

Perhaps a more appropriate Proverb:

Proverbs 31:8-9 - Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Mark Mincy

Don Sailer's picture

Paul blasted Peter for not eating lunch with Gentiles!

I wonder what Paul would say to C. J. Mahaney?

I wonder what he would say to T4G or TGC?

Where is the Apostle Paul when you need him? Someone needs to call out Mohler, Carson, DeYoung, et al.

 

 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I've read a few of the blog posts out there, and I'd like to take a moment to point out that "alleged facts" is an oxymoron. I just needed to get that off my chest.

So to preface my comments: I've been in situations where I've seen good men and women face false accusations, and the pain and turmoil they experienced while waiting to be proven innocent was brutal. I've also experienced the subtle 'conspiracy' of church leadership in covering up and excusing financial shenanigans, questionable ethics, sexual immorality, bullying, and doctrinal wonkiness, and seen family upon family utterly destroyed.

Therefore I am sympathetic to both sides, in that I am outraged at the victimization of men, women, and children in churches, and I acknowledge that sometimes innocent people are falsely accused, and neither situation is better or worse or that there is such a thing as acceptable losses. That's my little disclaimer. 

In spite of how much weirdness I have witnessed myself over the years- and we are talking witnessed with my own two God-given eyeballs- I doubt I could prove much of it in a court of law. The fear and superstition run too deep in many circles of Christianity. I am not surprised that there isn't a mountain of evidence, or that people waited years, even decades, to come forward.

I've just watched a church tolerate, for about 16 years, an unbelievable amount of SIN from their pastor and his family- sexual immorality, incest, lying, irresponsibility with finances, gossip, bullying, rebellion. . . the list is just insane. But here's what is scary- my husband and I only walked away from that church about 4 years ago. And it took us 5 years to reach that point because we wanted to do the right thing. You know- fight for truth, justice, and the American way, observe Mtt. 18, be patient, accept the inevitable human foibles of leadership. . . you name it, we tried it. 

So it's no wonder I believe that there are conspiracies and cover-ups in existence in many churches. They seem to lurk wherever the idea that 'men of God' are untouchable is tolerated and even nurtured. I've heard messages communicating that we should be extra, extra, EXTRA careful about bringing accusations against them (if ever), because God will punish anyone who raises their hand against God's "anointed". If someone does have a problem with the pastor, that person should be tagged as a wolf until further notice. I've heard that the authority structures of the church are not answerable in any way to the laws of 'man', and that the 'man of God' has a direct pipeline to Himself and has reasons for his actions beyond our ken which will be revealed to us sheep at the proper time.

Not every church is like that, but there are enough to be too many.

What is forgotten, IMO, is that there are clear guidelines for the qualifications of church leadership. He must continually prove to others in leadership, to the congregation, and to the community that he is qualified for the office. He is to be of a good reputation in every facet of his life. Ministers are to constantly demonstrate that they are trustworthy. He doesn't get to declare himself trustworthy. What part of 'blameless' do we not understand? Yes, his position is tenuous because of the gravity of his office. It's part of the package that he accepts when he takes on the responsibility. 

I understand not wanting to bolster allegations of misconduct, but in a situation like this, I think prudence, respect for Biblical guidelines, and the message that is communicated to the sheep demands that leadership protect those they lead above all else. Mr. Mahaney should not so much as pick up a paper clip in the name of God until this entire situation is investigated from all angles- legal and spiritual.

They trust God to take care of things, right? God is in control, right? Then how about he and his buds put their money where their Calvinism is? Just sayin'.

Jay's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:
I think I have to disagree, Jay, for the following reasons.  First, this has become a national news story.  The people standing up for Mr. Mahaney are "leaders" of  what the world sees as conservative, Bible-believing Christianity.  They see the T4G and TGC guys acting very much like the Catholic bishops regarding heinous sin in the ranks.  I believe the Lord and the reputation of His church are well served if pastors and Christians leaders who are not blinded by celebrity or personal friendship speak out clearly.  Al Mohler is the go to guy in the media as a representative of conservative, orthodox Christianity.  When he ties himself to this madness (and the ties are very close), he harms us all. 

Second, I agree we don't need to "demand" change in SGM polity, etc. The Lord Himself is actually working to dismantle Mahaney's creation piece by piece, and it is an amazing thing to see.  Correction is going on.  God is cleaning house over there, and I don't think he's done.  But since major Evangelical voices are saying "move along. nothing to see here," those who see clear and present danger should speak up.  It strengthens the saints to see that leaders care about sin in our ranks (and by our ranks, I mean Bible-believing Christians).  Average people, even most Christians, don't see the little denominational groupings and camps we see.  To them, we're all part of the same group --- those folks who peach Jesus as the way of salvation and the Bible as the truth.  His name is at stake.  That's enough interest for me. 

Sorry. I forgot to say my third point.  I don't think Rev 6:9-11 is meant to applied to people victimized by church leaders.  I think God gives the church the responsibility to honor Him by cleaning up its own act.  It's hard to imagine Paul or Peter telling victims of horrible shepherds in the church to wait for the consummation, and not say a word.

Wayne-

Appreciated your posts.

One - A 'national story'? I'll take your word for that, I guess.  I'm pretty plugged in on some things, and the only time I hear about this story is when someone puts up a Filing or thread.  I have no associations with SGM churches, don't personally know any SGM members, and don't generally run in those circles, so I'm pretty 'out of the loop' on all things SGM.  AFAIK, there are no SGM churches anywhere near I live in NYS (Well, I'm sure there's got to be one somewhere in NYC).  I haven't seen this story carried anywhere other than SI...not even on Facebook (that I remember - but maybe I missed something).  So maybe that speaks more to my lack of knowledge on the subject than it does anything else.

Mohler's association with Mahaney (Is there even one?  I wasn't aware of that if there is.) is problematic.  Absolutely it is.  So here's a follow up question.  Let's say someone accused your friend of this kind of stuff (whether it's covering up abuse or whatever).  You know the guy, and you trust him.  At what point do you say that you're going to break up the friendship (again, if they have one - I don't know) because of it, or do you stay and try and help him get through it (if you believe the charges are baseless) or stay and try and help him work through it?

Two - This point is good, and recently whenever I've seen something like this going on, I just keep remembering the advice of Gamaliel in Acts: "So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”.  Like I said, I don't follow SGM closely, but it does seem like God's been working to dissolve some of that ministry, which I think is a good thing (the concept of 'apostles' in the present day needs to die).

Three - I agree with you that the responsibility of the church is to clean up it's own act (1 Cor. comes to mind).  I think you would agree with me that the authorities are also responsible to do that as well when it comes to legal matters.  I disagree with you that I've said that victims should just stand by and be abused.  I've made that pretty clear on SI, and as someone who has counseled abuse victims, that has never been (nor will it be) to 'wait for the consummation'.

I like what Susan said, and I've said similar things on other matters like it:

What is forgotten, IMO, is that there are clear guidelines for the qualifications of church leadership. He must continually prove (emphasis mine) to others in leadership, to the congregation, and to the community that he is qualified for the office. He is to be of a good reputation in every facet of his life. Ministers are to constantly demonstrate that they are trustworthy. He doesn't get to declare himself trustworthy (emphasis mine). What part of 'blameless' do we not understand? Yes, his position is tenuous because of the gravity of his office. It's part of the package that he accepts when he takes on the responsibility. 

I understand not wanting to bolster allegations of misconduct, but in a situation like this, I think prudence, respect for Biblical guidelines, and the message that is communicated to the sheep demands that leadership protect those they lead above all else. Mr. Mahaney should not so much as pick up a paper clip in the name of God until this entire situation is investigated from all angles- legal and spiritual.

They trust God to take care of things, right? God is in control, right? Then how about he and his buds put their money where their Calvinism is? Just sayin'.

I will never understand why pastors or churches that have pastors who have been accused of this kind of stuff - allegations of covering up abuse or whatever - aren't quitting their ministries the second this stuff becomes public.  They should.  I would, if it were me - because of the verses in Timothy that Susan referenced.  I can't possibly imagine trying to be a pastor under that type of allegation.

Again, I appreciate the posts and will think about them a little more.

 

"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

Jay:  

Christian talkshow host Janet Mefferd has done several interviews regarding this case and she has stated this is the largest evangelical sex abuse scandal in her lifetime.  I've read somewhere else that it is the largest case in the last century.   Right now when people think of sex abuse scandals, Penn State often comes to mind.  SGM case dwarfs Penn State:  multiple perpetrators (w/convictions), scores of victims, multiple accounts of alleged cover-ups.  This was going on in several churches, several states.

 

This is compiled info:  

 

Why did the plaintiffs (the alleged victims) wait so long to file?

Bill O’Neil, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, was interviewed on the Janet Mefferd Show on 5/20/2013 –

• Bill O’Neil says 3 defendants have been brought to the attention of the authorities. Two have already been convicted and 1 proceeded in the juvenile system. One trial is pending in Montgomery Co., MD.
Roughly 1/3 of the defendants have been convicted. (starts at minute 31:00)

• At minute 29:15, Bill says the alleged conspiracy was not uncovered until 2011. It was discovered that “there was a policy in place in the church to refuse to report…to keep people from telling — each other even within the church — about incidents.”

• To listen to the Janet Mefferd Show and Bill O’Neil interview: Do an internet search for: Janet Mefferd Show Premium. Then Enter the date 5/20/2013 in the search field. Look for Hour 1 “Janet talks with attorney Bill O’Neil”) The interview starts at minute 26:00 and runs for through 33:30.)

+ + + + + + +

Who has already run this news story?

Huffington Post – “C. J. Mahaney Scandal: Evangelical Leaders Defend Pastor Accused Of Abuse Cover-Up”

Washington Post – “Evangelical leaders stand by pastor accused of abuse cover-up”

Boz Tchividjian – grandson of Billy Graham – “Where are the Voices? The Continued Culture of Silence and Protection in American Evangelicalism”

WJLA TV (ABC TV) – “Church Sex Abuse Allegations” Search for: My World News|WJLA|Church sex abuse allegations| 5-17-2013

 

Here are more at Google News Search:  http://goo.gl/M3osd

 

Here is the most recent ABP article:  http://goo.gl/M3jef

Wayne Wilson's picture

Jay, thanks for the gracious response.  I must have misunderstood you reference to Rev. 6. 

The story has been in National Media...The Huffington Post, CNN, etc.

Now this is a good question:

Mohler's association with Mahaney (Is there even one?  I wasn't aware of that if there is.) is problematic.  Absolutely it is.  So here's a follow up question.  Let's say someone accused your friend of this kind of stuff (whether it's covering up abuse or whatever).  You know the guy, and you trust him.  At what point do you say that you're going to break up the friendship (again, if they have one - I don't know) because of it, or do you stay and try and help him get through it (if you believe the charges are baseless) or stay and try and help him work through it?

Mohler and Mahaney are very close.  It's one major reason Mahaney has moved to Louisville, where he can shelter under Mohler, and have an impact on SBTS.   He has given large amounts of money to SBTS in the past when SGM was flush with cash.  (Cynical types would call that buying influence and respect, even friendship?)

If Mr. Mahaney were my friend and I were Al Mohler, and he had done just the things we know he has done (leaving out the unproven accusations),  I'd say, "Ceej, i love you, but you are not above reproach.  The things that have come out about your leadership, your judgment, your black-mailing of your friend Larry T, (yeah, I finally listened to the recording of your call to him...brother, that was painful to hear) and your unwillingness to submit to the elders of the church you pastored for two decades, all point to your need to step down from the ministry.  You tried to do something big for the Lord, to re-invent the faith.  Pride, my friend. It caught up with you.  I know you are unwilling to face your accusers, or speak publicly about any of this.  But hey, it's time to step down.  I will always be there for you, brother.  You've got book royalties, and have been well taken care of by SGM, but if you ever need a job, we have some great campus jobs at STBS for you...security, mailroom, grading papers (Oh, not the last one, I forgot you never went to college or seminary), gardening...we'll find something. But no more conferences, pulpits, etc.  Okay, bro?"  The friendship with me would only end when Mr. Mahaney has cut me off, as he has so many others over the years.

And this, Jay:

I will never understand why pastors or churches that have pastors who have been accused of this kind of stuff - allegations of covering up abuse or whatever - aren't quitting their ministries the second this stuff becomes public.  They should.  I would, if it were me - because of the verses in Timothy that Susan referenced.  I can't possibly imagine trying to be a pastor under that type of allegation.

I agree completely.  We're not too far off from each other on this.

CindyZ's picture

I think everyone should read the lawsuit which is publicly available on line. I just took the time to do so.  Disgusting. The whole matter is disgusting. 

 

Jay's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:
If Mr. Mahaney were my friend and I were Al Mohler, and he had done just the things we know he has done (leaving out the unproven accusations),  I'd say, "Ceej, i love you, but you are not above reproach.  The things that have come out about your leadership, your judgment, your black-mailing of your friend Larry T, (yeah, I finally listened to the recording of your call to him...brother, that was painful to hear) and your unwillingness to submit to the elders of the church you pastored for two decades, all point to your need to step down from the ministry.  You tried to do something big for the Lord, to re-invent the faith.  Pride, my friend. It caught up with you.  I know you are unwilling to face your accusers, or speak publicly about any of this.  But hey, it's time to step down.  I will always be there for you, brother.  You've got book royalties, and have been well taken care of by SGM, but if you ever need a job, we have some great campus jobs at STBS for you...security, mailroom, grading papers (Oh, not the last one, I forgot you never went to college or seminary), gardening...we'll find something. But no more conferences, pulpits, etc.  Okay, bro?"  The friendship with me would only end when Mr. Mahaney has cut me off, as he has so many others over the years.

Bingo. 

I don't understand why that doesn't happen, but it should have - and it should have happened when all this first broke.  I'd do the same for any of my friends, and I'd hope that my friends would reciprocate.  We do what the Bible says, right?

I guess I'm just too naive. 

"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

Greg Linscott's picture

I did take the time to read through several of the legal documents. In reading through what people say about the case, I see the term "alleged" pop up frequently. Question: have any of the individuals accused of being perpetrators ever been convicted in a court of law of any of the charges mentioned? It seems as though a great deal of this action has focused on a broad range of charges, essentially of neglect and cover-up, in a class-action lawsuit. Are any of the individual occurrences strong enough to have resulted in individual convictions for any of the alleged perpetrators?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Rob Fall's picture

Not being a lawyer this is my take on the use of alleged.  Alleged is used because none of the charges have been proven in a court of (civil\criminal) law.  Not using "alleged" before a court's judgment would open a person to charges of libel.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Greg Linscott's picture

I'm just wondering, with as many alleged cases as have surfaced, whether any of them have resulted in convictions or even trials. We have a class-action suit against church leaders, but have any of those they are accused of having conspired to protect been found guilty?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Julie Anne's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

Question: have any of the individuals accused of being perpetrators ever been convicted in a court of law of any of the charges mentioned?

 

Yes, Greg.  This is from my quote above:

 

• Bill O’Neil says 3 defendants have been brought to the attention of the authorities. Two have already been convicted and 1 proceeded in the juvenile system. One trial is pending in Montgomery Co., MD.
Roughly 1/3 of the defendants have been convicted. (starts at minute 31:00)

CindyZ's picture

@Greg--I have to go back through and read everything again, but I recall at least one instance also of someone who was convicted, served time, and then was "considered cured" and "repented" and put back in a children's ministry type role in a SGM ministry church. When I have time, I will find and post.

Anyway, the other thing to consider is that much of the court paperwork states that people were highly pressured and spiritually coerced into NOT reporting these crimes, to the point that many are past the statute of limitations.

Greg Linscott's picture

That does clarify it to some degree. Thank you.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Don Sailer's picture

http://5ptsalt.com/2013/05/24/mohler-dever-duncan-carson-taylor-deyoung-...

JULES' DINERMAY 26, 2013
Albert Mohler speaks:
“Both men had credible knowledge that young boys were being sexually abused, and neither did anything effective to stop it. Most crucially, neither man did what they should have done within minutes of hearing the first report — contact law enforcement immediately.”
Oh, wait…he said this about Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky in regard to the child sexual abuse at Penn State.
I guess the standard for coaches is different than the one for pastors.

CindyZ's picture

The whole thing is terribly disappointing. No thinking person can read through all the information and come out in support of CJ or SGM or T4G or TGC (as far as T4G and TGC's stances on this issue).

Furthermore, why is it that cover-ups of abuse in "Christian circles" seem to make the secular cover-ups seem mild? Why? I could list five cover-ups of scandals in various denominations and circles right off the top of my head. . .all from the same general era. Why was this? Why did it happen? How can we prevent it from happening again? Of all people, those who name Christ (the Christ who loved little children) ought not to be tolerating this among ourselves.

And shame on the leaders who won't speak out. I have completely lost any respect I might have had for you. This is why, as a whole, I stopped putting Christian leaders on pedestals a long time ago.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

CindyZ wrote:

Furthermore, why is it that cover-ups of abuse in "Christian circles" seem to make the secular cover-ups seem mild? Why? I could list five cover-ups of scandals in various denominations and circles right off the top of my head. . .all from the same general era. Why was this? Why did it happen? How can we prevent it from happening again? Of all people, those who name Christ (the Christ who loved little children) ought not to be tolerating this among ourselves.

My first instinct is to say that nothing about child abuse is 'mild'. Whether the cover up is in a public school, private school, church, or in a family (where most abuse and child deaths occur), the victimization of children in our culture is an abomination- and it is pervasive. There is an ongoing war on the age of consent sponsored mostly by Hollywood and LGBT groups- anyone who is outraged by SGM et al going to boycott their TV?

Didn't think so. Nevermind.

There are not more cover ups in religious circles than in secular ones, even if it might seem that way to us. I read education news regularly, and schools are often the scene of sexual molestation and violence against children. Schools have been passing the trash for decades, but I don't expect to hear all that much in the way of outcry against public education, which is America's sacredest of sacred cows. People usually dismiss the discussion of child sexual abuse and molestation in schools with "it isn't a problem at my child's school."

Unfortunately, people are outraged when they want to be, and not outraged when they don't, especially when the situation doesn't require them to make a change.  "It happened way over there, so I can get mad and bluster all I want from the relative safety of my home computer." This tactic seems to be working well for a lot of people. 

Yes, we are and should be incensed because schools and churches are places that parents want to assume are safe for their child. Both are supposed to be dedicated to the care and nurturing of families- one in academics, the other in spiritual things. We who know what the Bible teaches and want to honor God and help people feel the sting of this kind of perversion in 'our circles', however large or small those circles might be.

But where there are gazelles, there will be lions. The predators go where the prey is, which is why parents must educate themselves and their children. The responsibility to protect ourselves is actually in our hands. THAT is what we can do to prevent it from happening again.

As much as church leaders have a duty to protect the sheep, the sheep need to exercise their own sense of discernment, as well as teaching their kids how to avoid problematic situations and read the signs of danger. We can't walk into any situation with a baby-on-the-doorstep attitude and expect others to take care of us. Predator types- religious and otherwise- count on the naïveté of those under their influence to allow them to groom their victims.  

If we put our leaders on a pedestal, then we are the foolish ones. Scripture warns us against putting men on par with God in our lives. And that is exactly what we are doing when we don't read and study Scripture and develop our own relationship with God, and allow ourselves to be spoonfed by pastors, professors, and commentary authors. 

Jay's picture

I started reading Brent Detwiler's article (Don Sailer linked to it).  What struck me - before I really got into the article - was the tone of what he wrote:

Theologian Don Carson, pastor Kevin DeYoung and blogger Justin Taylor must have passed the bar examination.  Yesterday they became defense lawyers for C.J. Mahaney on behalf of The Gospel Coalition.  In their first case, they used their inscrutable legal genius to absolve him of all crimes in the SGM sex scandal and all transgressions in the SGM leadership scandal.  It turns out C.J. is the victim according to these spiritual leaders turned legal jurists.    

But wait, let’s examine their arguments before we accept their rulings!

...

Don, Kevin and Justin, why do you start off the first sentence with the focus on the “alleged conspiracy?”  It should be on the heinous crimes found in the factual allegations.  Here’s a suggestion for how you should have begun your statement that reflects reality.  

“John Loftness, C.J.’s close friend, staunch supporter, personal pastor and the SGM Chairman of the Board until recently is under criminal investigation for heinous sex crimes!  Some of these inhuman acts are alleged to have been carried out in conjunction with Stephen Griney, who also worked for C.J. and was a longstanding friend.”

When I took Old Testament 1 in seminary 37 years ago, I was required to read through the Pentateuch five times.  It was a great assignment.  Before reading this post, I have a suggestion.  Read through the Second Amended Complaint five times.  Then cry, weep, howl and pray for justice!  That will put things in proper focus.

I'm don't really want to talk a lot more about this, but Brent's attitude towards Don, Kevin, and Justin just screamed out at me.  There were all kinds of ways that Brent could have replied to their post.  But to open up by mocking them as 'inscrutable legal genius[es]' that 'absolved him of all crimes' and 'all transgressions in the SGM leadership scandal' is both unkind and a misrepresentation of their article.  He doesn't even give them the courtesy of linking back to what they actually wrote.  He actually misrepresents their argument to his audience...whether of passion, ignorance, or deliberate maliciousness, I cannot say.  That's a real issue.

Carson, DeYoung and Taylor actually said:

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...

So the entire legal strategy was dependent on a theory of conspiracy that was more hearsay than anything like reasonable demonstration of culpability. As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted.

...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. 

Now, I don't know all of what is going on between the two - but I do know that it took me all of five minutes to do a compare and contrast between the two posts and demonstrate flaws in Brent's article.  Stuff like that really bugs me personally, and it makes Brent look bad to anyone that's not already in his corner.  I'd be more willing to give Detwiler a break or listen to what he said if he left the vitriol out and said that there was still areas of disagreement and that he presented his case (which seems to be strong) a little calmer and in a more reasonable manner.  It seems to happen a lot with Detwiler's writings, and that makes me reticent to really get into what he's written.

"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

Now, I don't know all of what is going on between the two - but I do know that it took me all of five minutes to do a compare and contrast between the two posts and demonstrate flaws in Brent's article.  Stuff like that really bugs me personally, and it makes Brent look bad to anyone that's not already in his corner.  I'd be more willing to give Detwiler a break or listen to what he said if he left the vitriol out and said that there was still areas of disagreement and that he presented his case (which seems to be strong) a little calmer and in a more reasonable manner.  It seems to happen a lot with Detwiler's writings, and that makes me reticent to really get into what he's written.

I agree with Jay that Detwiler has his own thing going and I agree it shows up in his tone. It comes across as latching onto anything that will make CJ Mahaney look bad.  Clearly he was personally hurt by being removed from apostolic office and is striking back. 

That said, many critics of SGM also view his motives with skepticism as someone who has never admitted his role in causing so much grief to the saints over the many years he was Mr. Mahaney's right hand man.  But the more balanced critics of SGM also see him as someone God raised up providentially to expose things because Detwiler is a fastidious documentarian.  He keeps everything, and has notes , e-mails, and accounts of much of what transpired behind the scenes.   As far as I know, none of his documentation has been denied by any "side."  You do have to look past his bitterness.  But past it is a lot of information.

Jay's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:
That said, many critics of SGM also view his motives with skepticism as someone who has never admitted his role in causing so much grief to the saints over the many years he was Mr. Mahaney's right hand man.  But the more balanced critics of SGM also see him as someone God raised up providentially to expose things because Detwiler is a fastidious documentarian.  He keeps everything, and has notes, e-mails, and accounts of much of what transpired behind the scenes.   As far as I know, none of his documentation has been denied by any "side."  You do have to look past his bitterness.  But past it is a lot of information.

Yeah, and that's what makes his claims credible in the first place.  I didn't read through the entire 600 page file that he released on his website a while ago, but I did think, "Man, that's a LOT of evidence to back his claims", and it's a big reason why I haven't blown him off entirely. 

"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

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Sometimes sarcasm and hyperbole actually help one make their case. I occasionally have fun with this myself at my blog. 

But some of Detwiler's articles don't come across as witty or pointed, and this can detract instead of bolster his case. Personally, I think he does well enough without the distraction of bitter ranting.

I think when topics of such an important and delicate nature as this are discussed, we keep firm goals in mind of being on topic, to the point, helpful and productive. This is a serious matter that shouldn't be diminished in any way by grandstanding, hysteria, or baiting each other.

Julie Anne's picture

Kevin DeYoung, one of CJ's friends, issued a statement of support and posted it on his blog and did not allow comments.  On a following post, an unrelated topic, the comments were open and commenter, Tom, issued this incredible reflection on the SGM situation.  I am very surprised the comment was not removed (as is the typical MO on these blogs - ask me how I know).  It's long, but worth the read:

 

It is concerning that the post, “Why We Have Been Silent About SGM Lawsuit,” published on The Gospel Coalition website by DA Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor blocked readers from posting comments. The history of the lawsuits against SGM is complicated with numerous examples of the depravity of men. The number of electrons burdened with ill reasoned, slanderous, and cowardly accusations pertaining to SGM over the past several years could fill a NASA supercomputer (before sequestration). It makes practical and Biblical sense not to open another electronic forum that may encourage the continuation of a trial that has been disallowed by the appropriate civil authorities. Disallowing comments to these authors’ letter is an altogether different consideration.

Disabling reader’s ability to respond to the author’s letter is akin to traffic enforcement officers telling the witnesses to a horrific car wreck that their testimonies are not worth collecting. Are inappropriate comments and observations going to be posted by readers? Yes. That is why this web site has content editors and mediators. Are these authors implicating the site’s editors with incompetence and inadequate skill in determining what is appropriate and what is not?

Many of this site’s readers are concerned about the multitude of faith issues inherent in the SGM tragedy and want to learn from Scripture and faithful teachers how to respond if these events arise in their own worshipping community. No matter where someone sets down in thought about the events surrounding SGM over the past five years or more, there is much to be discussed for the health of individual saints and the greater body of believers.

When a subordinate officer in US Army GEN Stanley McChrystal’s command made offhanded comments about President Barak Obama to a Rolling Stone reporter, GEN McChrystal resigned his position as ISAF commander and Commander, US Forces Afghanistan. He immediately retired from active military duty in order to return America’s focus to the mission of protecting this country and prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. GEN McChrystal, West Point graduate, Special Forces qualified, Ranger qualified, Airborne qualified, former commander of US Special forces Command, subordinated his career, personal goals, and professional calling to the greater mission. Did GEN McChrystal do anything wrong or behave in a way that brought dishonor to the United States of America? No he did not. GEN McChrystal took personal responsibility for the failings of subordinates under his command and removed himself as a distraction to the successful accomplishment of a greater goal.

GEN David Petreaus, West Point graduate, former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, author of American counter insurgency doctrine, head of the CIA, resigned when his personal leadership failings distracted from the mission for which he had been hired to execute. At the time of his personal moral failure was he still eminently qualified to successfully perform the task for which he was paid? Yes. Did his personal role in the prosecution of the mission for which he was hired require him to be above reproach? Yes it did?

The head of the IRS resigns after six months on the job in order to mitigate the distraction his personal involvement in alleged misconduct may present to the return of integrity to this country’s tax collecting agency.

And on and on it goes. In business, government, and the American military, leaders get out of the way of the mission when their involvement becomes a distraction. Why does there seem to be more integrity among the secular leader’s prosecution of the missions of business and government than among the men entrusted with Gospel proclamation? Is not Gospel proclamation a greater undertaking than any of the tasks entrusted to these military, business, and civic leaders? Does the value of vocational ministry friendships and relationships override the integrity of the Gospel? Do preachers, church leaders, and anyone of us not have to die to ourselves when we become a more compelling story than Jesus The Messiah and His Redemptive suffering and death?

If the leader’s of this country’s wars understand that leadership integrity must never be undermined, why are we so willing to accept a lesser standard within the church? Maybe the Church is not at war.

I encourage DA Carson to discuss with his son, a US Marine, what must be sacrificed personally in terms of ambition, self-reliance, and independence when a man goes to war. Kevin, if the thoughts you express in this post have veracity, open up the comments so that the world will see that faithful brothers and sisters can undertake the hard conversations that make up much of life this side of all Glory.

Open up the comment section and let the uncomfortable discussion of the tragedy that surrounds SGM begin so that we never repeat these same mistakes.

handerson's picture

It occurred to me last night that if a church is going to invest so much authority in their leadership--as SGM has--that when trouble comes, that same leadership must be the first to take responsibility for it. This is a basic privilege/responsibility dynamic--one that is so basic that I regularly use it in teaching my children. If nothing else, Mahaney must own what happened under his watch because the leadership paradigm placed him as the authority over his congregation. You cannot structure your organization to allow you the privilege of leading  only to distance yourself when problems come by saying "I had nothing to do with it."

 

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