"Strip away all of the commentary and whining, and you are left with a picture of a pastor who is running an organization, and some associates who feel slighted."

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

"Let me just come right out and say it: this CJ Mahaney thing is a train wreck, is exhibit #42 for why I believe in elder lead churches, and exhibit #476 in defense of cessationism."

Matthew J's picture

This was my sentiments when I read a little of the documents. However, I do think that blame lies all around, not just on Brent or on CJ. But I don't desire to cast stones, rather to learn that if I think I stand, I must be careful lest I fall. Oh, how pride and manipulation is so endemic of humanity. May we despise it first in our lives. Brothers, let us pray for one another that we are always attempting to adjust our concepts of leadership to the Word of God.

Shaynus's picture

This definitely seems to be a case of many wrongs not making a right.

Wayne Wilson's picture

The problems are much, much greater than hand-wringing and strange confrontations among the "apostles" at the top. There is a serious question of blackmail revealed in the documents. Most important are the "survivors" blogs, with story after story of oppressive shepherding and a crushing legalism that pervades much of SGM. Thankfully, Joshua Harris has acknowleged the legitimacy of many of these sad stories, and hopefully many changes will be made in polity and practice. They have a long road ahead of them. He also confessed to a remarkable hubris...the belief that they had developed a family of churches superior to all the others. It is a painful come down from such lofty heights, but how much healtheir to start thinking from the bottom rather than the top.

Ron Bean's picture

#1 I've known dictatorial leaders who were intolerant and unresponsive.
#2 I've known people who consider almost any form of leadership "dictatorial";
#3 Proverbs 13:10

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

Mike Durning's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The article was a disservice to comprehensive honesty about the matter. Frankly it was written from a very naive viewpoint.

Alex,

At the bottom of this post, you linked to your blog on the topic: http://thepedestrianchristian.blogspot.com/

I just want to say that your blog on this matter was brilliant and insightful -- some of the best writing I've ever read on spiritual abuse.

Mike

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

that Alex's blog post addresses the root of the problem, although the lack of punctuation was disconcerting at times. So I'm a Grammar Nazi- sue me.

Quote:
3. Do You Really Want to be Spiritual Independent and Able to Make Independent Judgments?

I think if many (far too many) folks were honest with themselves, the answer to this question would be "No". They want to depend on 'professionals' for everything, from making medical decisions, the education and care of their children, what they should eat, wear, and watch... so why wouldn't they be unhealthily dependent in spiritual matters?

http://sharperiron.org/comment/32370#comment-32370 ]In another thread Bro. Charlie said

Quote:
However, CJ Mahaney is not a follower in a bad system, nor is he a lower-level leader taking orders from superiors he trusts. He is the leader. He created the bad system. He perpetuated the bad system. The bad system is a reflection on him.

The veracity of this line of thought is IMO one the most worth pursuing.

Don Johnson's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
The article was a disservice to comprehensive honesty about the matter. Frankly it was written from a very naive viewpoint.

Alex, I don't really see how Jesse Johnson's article is all that different from your own. Perhaps you could give a little more than rhetoric to show the difference?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

Susan R wrote:
http://sharperiron.org/comment/32370#comment-32370 ]In another thread Bro. Charlie said
Quote:
However, CJ Mahaney is not a follower in a bad system, nor is he a lower-level leader taking orders from superiors he trusts. He is the leader. He created the bad system. He perpetuated the bad system. The bad system is a reflection on him.

The veracity of this line of thought is IMO one the most worth pursuing.

DID CJ actually create that system, though? Because I originally thought that, then read something about SGM being around much longer than I'd expected - the 1950's, I think.

"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

Jay,

My understanding is that SGM was started as People of Destiny International (a kind of Jesus Movement church), by CJ Mahaney and this fellow Larry Tomczak, who CJ is accused of having blackmailed out of the church. Larry seems to have been "scrubbed" out of their history, but just this past week or so, CJ and Larry are reconciling. Anyway, it does appear to be very much Mahaney's baby.

Strangely enough, I couldn't find a history of the movement on the current website. Wiki says this:

Quote:
The organization of over 70 member churches grew out of the charismatic renewal of the 1970s under the leadership of Catholic Charismatic Larry Tomczak and has its roots in the Gathering of Believers (now Covenant Life Church) in Maryland. It was formally established in 1982. CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak were the co-founders of both Covenant Life Church and People of Destiny International(PDI), the former name of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Both Mahaney and Tomczak withdrew from the Charismatic Catholic scene shortly before the creation of Covenant Life Church.

Shaynus's picture

Now THAT makes sense. I had always thought the polity sounded kind of Catholic in practice. I may be backing away from some of the latent support I have for Sovereign Grace as an organization, though I'm thankful for the churches and ministries started by SGM. The best thing I can see happening, is for the formal organization of SGM to break up, at least as far as it is a family of churches. There's got to be a way of retaining it's church planting/music operations without having such a heavy hand in each local church.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Mike,
Thanks for the input and kind words. BTW I understand your comment does not necessarily have in view the introductory portion withstanding but the 3 points that follow. Again, thanks.

Susan,
Few are less attentive to editing their own writing than I. It is a terrible fault of mind, but I don't mind admitting this since I have so few faults, so the pain is able to be endured. My only plea is that my blog is like a garage band with the possibility of playing a few good songs but never having enough practice time to make the public performance without some flaws.

(BTW there is someone that lives with me who completely agrees with you on the legitimate role of Grammar Nazis and if you wish to edit the article and send the corrections I will happily make them, I mean if you get real bored or something Smile ).

Don,
One fundamental difference between my article and Johnson's is the leading comment and its function to minimize, if not out right deny, the valid grievances of injured parties. In fact, I'd say this lead statement is a form of continued abuse via antagonism toward those who have suffered a perpetual and systematic abuse. And I realize he is mainly addressing the material by Brent but his conclusive statement, in its design, ropes in all others who have been abused and reduces them in this manner without ever addressing their issues or engaging in any real discovery.

Now it is true that Jesse Johnson recognized the aberrations of CJ and SGM but even in doing so he blamed the victims for choosing to attend a church with such a system. Yes, they are to blame for their decisions but that does not mitigate CJ and SGM's culpability in establishing long-term abusive leadership which Johnson, apparently, refuses to address with any scrutiny as well as the begged questions of how allegedly insightful men such as Piper (I somewhat understand Piper's reasons due to the charismaticism), Mohler, Keller and MacArthur would not only embrace but promote (as vetted in both doctrine and practice) such a theological novice and one whose eccentric and proprietary view and practice of Apostlism would have raised red flags to even a first semester freshman at Fuller. But then you might want to follow the money trail with CJ and learn how, as his giving to Southern Seminary increased (should I say SGM's under CJ) his stature with TGC/T4G rose, an issue I alluded to as well in the article. So, I would say they are quite different but if you believe they are not I do invite you to demonstrate how their similarities outweigh their differences.

Don Johnson's picture

Alex, thanks for spelling it out a bit more. I understand your point better, I think. A few comments...

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
One fundamental difference between my article and Johnson's is the leading comment and its function to minimize, if not out right deny, the valid grievances of injured parties. In fact, I'd say this lead statement is a form of continued abuse via antagonism toward those who have suffered a perpetual and systematic abuse. And I realize he is mainly addressing the material by Brent but his conclusive statement, in its design, ropes in all others who have been abused and reduces them in this manner without ever addressing their issues or engaging in any real discovery.

Well, OK, I see this point of difference. I have not read much of Brent's documents. The first few pages seemed as petty as Jesse Johnson describes and if that is all that this controversy is about, then I think JJ's article is spot on. I acknowledge that the charges on the SGMsurvivor's site are more serious. I have read a good deal of these pages and found it quite shocking. I blogged about that site when everyone was hyperventilating about fundamentalism and our 'systemic' problems with child abuse, etc.

SGMsurvivors certainly makes some very damaging allegations. But it is certainly not authoritative. There is one fellow posting there who appears to have been married into a prominent SGM family. His story is apparently featured in one of Josh Harris's books about courtship. Now, to read the guy, who is either already divorced or on the way to being divorced from his wife, you would think that the SGM people were guilt of the most heinous crimes. However, the wife posted an article that was posted on the SGMsurvivors site. It paints a much different picture and sounds a lot more believable than her husband's postings, at least to me. Her post was only a few weeks ago, not hard to find for those interested.

I raise that to raise this caution... just because people are screaming abuse doesn't mean abuse is happening. Now I am no fan of SGM. I am quite critical of them. In fact, the more I learn about them, the more I am opposed to them. But I just want to caution people reading the "Survivors" website and others like it. These people have an axe to grind and the internet is not a court of law. So be VERY discerning when you read.

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Now it is true that Jesse Johnson recognized the aberrations of CJ and SGM but even in doing so he blamed the victims for choosing to attend a church with such a system. Yes, they are to blame for their decisions but that does not mitigate CJ and SGM's culpability in establishing long-term abusive leadership which Johnson, apparently, refuses to address with any scrutiny as well as the begged questions of how allegedly insightful men such as Piper (I somewhat understand Piper's reasons due to the charismaticism), Mohler, Keller and MacArthur would not only embrace but promote (as vetted in both doctrine and practice) such a theological novice and one whose eccentric and proprietary view and practice of Apostlism would have raised red flags to even a first semester freshman at Fuller. But then you might want to follow the money trail with CJ and learn how, as his giving to Southern Seminary increased (should I say SGM's under CJ) his stature with TGC/T4G rose, an issue I alluded to as well in the article. So, I would say they are quite different but if you believe they are not I do invite you to demonstrate how their similarities outweigh their differences.

I agree with you here, about Jesse Johnson's 'blame the victim' approach. I can see the problem with that.

In fact, I find it really astonishing that the T4G crowd are rallying around Mahaney. There is enough revealed even in this thread here on SI that should have warned them to stay away, stay far, far, far away, long before any of this fiasco came out.

It is astonishing that they seemingly see no cause for alarm.

That ought to alarm anyone who thinks these men are leaders worth following.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Susan,
See what I mean? My garage band just played, it is a terrible fault of mind. I could have played that one off as a pun but it wasn't, just more poor editing.

Don,
BTW I do acknowledge the high degree of pettiness in the itemized infractions. Of course the main architect of this system from whom Brent learned its value? CJ. And I do not take, without awareness and scrutiny, all claims of injury. No doubt one will discover some percentage being either fictitious or embellished.