Troubling Tweets

Justin Taylor Tweets about Dialoging with a Divisive Person

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This came across my Twitter feed and it struck me for a couple of reasons:

Twitter is a way to quickly share with others our thoughts. Of course it’s only speculation that Taylor’s tweet has something to do with the above articles. But check this out. When clicking on the “post comment” button, this is what you will find:

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Yup, comments are closed. Why? Maybe because he’s busy. Or maybe not. From the beginning of this fiasco, The Gospel Coalition men have not allowed much discourse about the Sovereign Grace lawsuit or C.J. Mahaney at all on their blogs. If anything painted CJ in a negative light, it was removed.

I can’t say for certain what was in Taylor’s mind when he sent that tweet, but this is the established behavior we have already seen among C.J. Mahaney’s friends. We, who care about the victims and want to see that people are safe, get labeled as the “problem.” So now the focus of the entire SGM/C.J. Mahaney issue is completely removed from Mahaney (by not allowing comments) and placed on those who speak out.

Do you see how this works? No mention of the victims, no mention of SGM. We are being labeled as “divisive” when we bring them to account.

That’s where these guys are confused. It is not divisive to call out a problem when you see one, especially when other leaders are ignoring the problems. It is not a sin or disobedient to call leaders to account when there are serious wrongdoings. These guys are wrong.

I was labeled as “divisive” by my former pastor for calling out spiritual abuse and what I was seeing happening among current and former church members. This is bully behavior intended to silence.

To hear a church leader call you “divisive” is a powerful statement. They are hoping that you will accept their word as authority and “check your heart” and your motives.

No, they need to check their hearts and quit shifting the problem onto us. The pressure is on.

Check out this article in The Washington Post: Evangelical leaders stand by pastor accused of abuse cover-up

Someone left this excellent comment:

“Readers – Al Mohler’s comments are not representative of the Southern Baptist Convention. He speaks for himself and a contingent of SBC’s membership known as New Calvinists who have been supportive of Mahaney, a leader in the reformed movement. The non-Calvinist majority of Southern Baptists would not be supportive of Dr. Mohler’s position on this. Southern Baptists at large would not be satisfied with the belated statements provided by Dr. Mohler and prominent pastors of the New Calvinism movement in our ranks. Ministerial integrity demanded that Mr. Mahaney step away from the pulpit until the courts dealt with this matter … he did not. That same standard applied to the SBC leaders who supported him – they should not have given him a platform to continue to speak while such serious matters were being processed by the legal system.”

Pretty soon these pastors’ bad behavior is going to get very, very public. They are feeling threatened by the public outcry. So be it. Keep commenting, people. Don’t stop.

29 thoughts on “Justin Taylor Tweets about Dialoging with a Divisive Person”

  1. Good thoughts JA, I reposted that WaPo article on FB. Important for ppl to see that one I think. I believe a lot of ppl support these guys wo even realizing there is that lawsuit going on. Most wouldn’t care perhaps, but some would.


  2. Yes, they seem to be using their power of the spiritual pixie dust to say – you need to HUSH now! WE have made the decision – ya know the ‘leadership’….those in ‘authority’ over you?

    They truly are cowards IMO. They have endorsed CJ’s way of during ‘church’, and basically spun the words in such a way to make its ‘cloudy’ in presentation. They didn’t base this on scripture, but on friendship.

    When I think of all the speeches, books, presentations, etc they pull out about the ‘threats’ to the church? Sigh. They just don’t get it.


  3. This is bully behavior intended to silence.

    Yes, exactly. This is a means of controlling people. This is a blatant example of pride and arrogance — the notion that there is no way possible “our friend C.J.” is in the wrong, or that we are in the wrong for supporting him, blah blah blah. T4G and TGC guys would have been better off stating nothing rather than this latest, most embarrassing blunder.

    But I’ll admit: I’m glad that their true colors are finally showing. Hopefully many eyes are finally starting to open. What matters to them are their Calvinist buddies, not the victims of their Calvinist buddies. It would have been one matter if we had seen repentance and then the display of grace and forgiveness (as in my case). It is quite another to see no demonstrations of repentance or admission of mishandling or guilt of any kind, and a display of undue grace and protection for those in the wrong.


  4. Anonymous, at the very minimum, he should stop speaking engagements. And he should have voluntarily done that (but that takes humility, you see).

    What happens with these kinds of cases in the secular world? They usually get put on administrative leave until everything comes out. You would think by nature of the position of a pastor, the response would be even stronger by Christian leaders.


  5. Julie Anne,

    I agree Mahaney should stop speaking engagements. The allegations against Mahaney include covering up child sexual abuse in 2 churches and a Christian school that he closely managed. The charges have come from 11 people. Several of defendants have already gone to jail or have gone through the juvenile system for child sex crimes. One more child sex abuse case is ongoing right now. And apparently more alleged victims are coming forward.

    It doesn’t look good for Mr. Mahaney.


  6. The scary and stupid and seemingly obvious thing (I can’t know for sure of course), is that these Reformed Big Dogs only talk to and listen to each other.

    Justin Taylor should show an objective news article (like the one in the Washington Post) to his next-door neighbor, or his across-the-street neighbor, or to a Methodist, or a Catholic, or a Jew, or a random non-church goer, and ask, “So, what do you think? If someone were a friend of this fellow C. J. Mahaney, what should he do?” Chances are 100% that the answer he would get would be better than the advice that he and his fellow Reformed Big Dogs have been giving to each other in their lonely little echo chamber.


  7. The immediate context of Taylor’s tweet is Titus 3:9-11:

    9 But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned. (HCSB)

    This, in turn, is in the greater context of a discussion of false teachers, which comes out of a brief discussion of qualifications for eldership (chpts 1-2).

    Whatever was on Taylor’s mind, his paraphrase of Tit 3:10 concerns false and divisive teachers and leaders, not divisive members. The Gk word translated “divisive” is the form of a word from which “heresy” comes.

    BTW, the Gk word translated “perverted” means “turned aside, turned from” – presumably from the right path.


  8. Good call, Jeff. I did not look up context when that tweet struck me as being off.

    Twisting scripture to control people is another trick spiritual bullies use. My former pastor had a Mark and Avoid list of people in church discipline. That verse is really about marking and avoiding false teachers. Funny how he missed that minor detail, huh?


  9. @Jeff Brown,

    Fully agree, otherwise whatever subject the the pastor/elders don’t wish to discuss can be defined as divisive. I once listed to a YouTube video of a Pastor who did not believe that Jesus was God, and as soon as someone from the audience attempted to question him about it, the pastor would not engage, because he self proclaimed and defined that topic as divisive.


  10. chapmaned24 – I hope that “pastor” is no longer seen as one. A lot of self-proclaimed believers today think that all doctrine is divisive. The trouble is, they can’t say two sentences without pronouncing some doctrine. I think a lot of this comes from the Emergent belief that it’s okay to discuss things as long as we don’t come to a conclusion. You know, like the Bible does(?).

    This problem is the exact opposite of the New Calvinist problem, which is exalting doctrine to the point where it is all that matters.


  11. The other context of that passage is “debates, disputes, etc. about the LAW.” This was a big deal in the first century because there were some who denied “our freedom in Christ’ as Paul said, and insisted believers should obey the Law of Moses. So, the context is not just any dispute… I mean even Jesus and Paul had disputes.. but disputes about the Law by those pushing it and making the good news of Jesus into a legalistic treadmill. It wasn’t just any “divisive” person, but one still trying to argue for a law-based gospel. This tweet is Bible abuse through and through if in fact the intention was to stifle people who are complaining about Mahaney still in public eye during this case. This is one problem with looking at the Bible like a rulebook; it becomes so easy for someone in leadership to manipulate it to say what they want and control the masses, instead of letting people think for themselves.


  12. “T4G and TGC guys would have been better off stating nothing rather than this latest, most embarrassing blunder.”

    I could not agree more. Those statements were PR disasters for them. When you start to see them losing the trust of their own Reformed brand, it is serious. And one thing they did not want was for that to spiral and others to see it. they had to take it down off facebook and stop the bleeding.

    I expect to see more of what Justin Taylor tweeted because that movement is so groupthink oriented, they know nothing else.


  13. Julie Anne,

    I think the real issue is not Calvinism, it’s power. The people at TGC and T4G are beginning aware that they have large amounts of power over a significant part of evangelicalism.

    In a good Reformed church, someone in one of the defendants’ positions would have been asked to resign. If he doesn’t resign, then there would be an ecclesiastical trial (with witnesses and evidence) and he would be deposed from office if he was convicted. Suspension from the sacrament of communion and excommunication would come next if he still refuses to repent.

    Rev. Crippen’s church gets it. 🙂


  14. If you are in a controlling church with bullying and domineering pastors or lay leaders, find a new church and get out. Talk to your friends who left years ago and find out where they ended up and go to their church.

    As more of us walk away and take our friends and family with us, these controlling churches will get smaller. They won’t go away; they’ll shrink and get more freakish.


  15. I’m new to this entire topic of the Gospel Coalition bloggers. I live in a world where Dever, DeYoung, Driscoll, and Mahaney aren’t household names.

    I wonder if they have as much power as they want us to believe outside of their own circles? Maybe someone can help me understand them a bit better. Here’s my initial research:

    1. Although some of these people are supposed to be top Christian bloggers, The Gospel Coalition’s blogs may not be as popular as they claim. There’s an article about this here:

    2. They don’t seem to sell very many books beyond their own shrinking pool of fans. Maybe I’m missing something, but none of those 4 guys have a Top 50 book in 2013. and and even if you limit it to just Amazon titles on Christian Ministry & Church Leadership they aren’t in the top 10.

    3. Their conference called “Together for the Gospel,” which is only a biennial conference, had 7,500 – 8000 attendees in 2012. This might sound like a lot, but compared to the Catalyst conferences (annual, with multiple locations), it is paltry. If the 2012 conference hadn’t been held in Louisville, KY, where Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is (Al Mohler, president), with seminarians probably getting brownie points for attending, it might not have done that well. Compare this to the Catalyst conferences which are held in various parts of the U.S. and had 13,000 just at the Atlanta venue alone.

    So are these guys really important? Or are they just important in their own minds?


  16. Anonymous – I think you have provided some great facts here. And it also confirms something that I read a while back (and I wish I would have bookmarked it). I remember reading that these guys are encouraged to have an online presence with social media. I’m thinking it might have been someone connected with Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (all connected with TGC folks). They may utilize social media, but they don’t know how to use it very well (in that they say things they shouldn’t say and then don’t handle it well when they try to do damage control).

    I’ve read the link you provided from the Wartburg Watch blog regarding the top Christian blogs. The Wartburg Watch blog surely belonged in the top 250. You can tell that they hand-selected bloggers when comparing the rankings at the Alexa site. I took a sampling of Christian bloggers that I know (and included mine) and a lot of the ones I compared should have been in that top list (and some of the ones they had shouldn’t have).

    Something surely is amiss. Thanks for the great comment and info.


  17. Bill – My background is deciphering peanut butter labels – you know Adam’s – the kind where you have to stir in the oil before use and Jiff/Skippy. All of that “gesis” stuff is confusing to me. I need to be edumacated. Off to the dictionary I go.


  18. This problem is the exact opposite of the New Calvinist problem, which is exalting doctrine to the point where it is all that matters.

    “The Devil sends false teachings in opposing matched pairs, so that in fleeing from one we embrace the other.” — C.S.Lewis (from memory)

    Communism begets Objectivism.


  19. I wonder if they have as much power as they want us to believe outside of their own circles?”

    “So are these guys really important? Or are they just important in their own minds?

    If you see yourself as a prophet from God, with a unique and essential message for the world, you are certainly going to see your mission, if not yourself, as important. Maybe it is not that they want others to believe they have more power than they really do, but rather that they just want to hold onto what power and influence they have.

    But certainly the temptation to think highly of yourself at that point and to depend on having others think so as well must be sorely tempting…


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