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Mark Dever and CJ Mahaney Lovefest Continues: Shocking on So Many Levels

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Mark Dever Praises Embattled CJ Mahaney – YouTube

Mark Dever and other leaders came to Louisville, Kentucky last weekend to preach at C.J. Mahaney’s church.  Mark Dever roasted the man who wrote the book on humility, C.J. Mahaney.  I transcribed a few sentences here:

“What a joy this is.  It’s a particular privilege to be here.  . . . We know a number of the brothers and sisters involved here.   We’re thankful for you all – thankful for the ministry you’ve had in our church over the years.  The Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) churches in general that I’ve had to do with have marked fruits of the Spirit in them –  more marked than any other group of Christian churches I know of.  And I am thankful for that.  . . “


WHAT?!  Yea, I’ve seen some marked fruits, but they aren’t from the Spirit.  No, I’ve heard of rotten fruit.  For years I have been reading about the fruit of deception and cover-up, the fruit of spiritually and emotionally abandoning defenseless victims.  And I am NOT thankful for that.  I mourn and weep for what I have read about scores and scores of abuse victims. picked up this story today, too, and had more to say, including additional quotes from Dever:

Members of Pastor C.J. Mahaney’s Kentucky church plant “don’t fully grasp” their privilege, the embattled Calvinist leader’s defender and friend Mark Dever told the congregation of Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville June 2.

Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., spoke at the church that meets in a Louisville hotel days after joining Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler and Presbyterian Church of America minister Ligon Duncan in a joint statement expressing confidence in Mahaney, who is named in a lawsuit being described as the largest evangelical sex-abuse scandal to date.

The trio, who with Mahaney lead a biennial preaching conference called Together for the Gospel, originally posted the statement on Facebook, but after more than 100 negative comments appeared in the first 24 hours it was moved to the T4G website.

In his sermon, Dever appeared unfazed by the backlash, perhaps alluding to the controversy when he told the congregation of hearing “gossip” about Mahaney the day before while attending the wedding of Mohler’s daughter.

“There were three Christian leaders standing there,” Dever said. “I overheard them talking about C.J., and I stepped in to listen. And all three of them know him, and all of them were bragging on him and his integrity in a number of ways, one of which is the way he’s begun in leading this church plant.”

“So you all who are here in this church, and particularly if you’re visiting or if you’re sort of new to Sovereign Grace, you have a privilege in having this man as your pastor that you don’t fully grasp, and that’s absolutely fine,” Dever said. “Just thank God for him and enjoy the word of God as he brings it from a life and a heart full of the gospel, and know that I am delighted to be here. It’s a privilege to address you brothers and sisters.”

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Meanwhile, it seems there are more and more people and outside of SGM’s circle of friends who are speaking out about abuse cover-up in churches, yet trying not to point fingers, but we get it.  The pressure is mounting, it’s swelling like a tsunami.  Folks, this is no minor case.  Remember the Penn State outrage across the nation?  There was one man involved, Sandusky.   In this case, there are multiple perpetrators and we’ve heard of three convictions already.  There are countless victims.  Alleged crimes occurred across state lines in multiple churches and school.  This is no small case.

Mary DeMuth wrote a great article, When the Church Prefers Perpetrators.

The church does far better when it acknowledges its sin, living fearlessly and honestly, than when it prefers to show a pretty, unadulterated face to the world. Unfortunately, we have become so enamored with the ministries we have built, forgetting that God Himself builds His church (and thinking it weighs on our shoulders), that we have lived in depraved fear, preferring the words of perpetrators over the words of those abused. We wrongly believe that we are in the business of reputation management.

Of course, I am not in the midst of this recent scandal, and I am not at all walking in either crowd’s shoes, leaders or victims, but from the outside it feels a lot like covering up for the sake of keeping the ministry machine alive.

It’s interesting that Matt Redmond also quietly referred to Dever’s church in his most excellent article, What Kind of Hard Heart.  Here are some excerpts:

“His heart is hard as a stone,
hard as the lower millstone.” – Job 41:24

What kind of hard heart are we witnessing in the SGM abuse scandal?

What kind of hard heart sides easily with a wealthy pastor against those who suffered at the hands of sexual abusers under his watch and then does so in the name of the One Who had no place to lay his head?

What kind of hard heart winks at a pastor who demanded an accountability of pastors and then ran from it to a church outside of his network of churches?

JA note:   Where did CJ run?  It is important to note that C.J. Mahaney, while taking a leave of absence from his duties as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, left command of his ship and sought care, counsel, and shelter from his friend, Pastor Mark Dever at nearby Capitol Hill Baptist Church.  Dever is senior pastor there.  It is common knowledge among Sovereign Grace circles that if any other pastor was under such scrutiny, they would have been expected to stay at their home church under guarded watch of elders/pastors.  You see, Mahaney made the rules for other pastors, but those same rules do not apply to him.  Read Mark Dever – C.J. Mahaney’s BFF.

Additionally, during this season of reflection, when Mahaney’s personal integrity was on the line, Mahaney also preached at Dever’s church.  Let me state that again.  Pastor Mark Dever allowed C.J. Mahaney to preach at his church while Mahaney’s behavior was under the limelight back at Covenant Life Church,  Sovereign Grace Ministry’s flagship.  Who does that?  Read more here:  C.J. Mahaney Preaches At Capitol Hill Baptist Church During “Season Of Reflection,” Refers To Mark Dever As “His Pastor”

I interrupted Matt Redmond’s beautiful words with my editorial comments, but here are some more profound lines to consider (please do read the whole article, What Kind of Hard Heart)

What kind of hard heart refuses to listen and then says those who would cry out for justice and help are divisive and gossips?

What kind of hard heart could read the Second Amended Complaint and not think the leader of such an organization should step out of the limelight?

What kind of heart is so hardened it would publicly insult the blogs that have given a voice to the sexually abused while publicly embracing one who is accused of conspiring to cover up and silence the abused?

What kind of hard heart are we witnessing?

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27 thoughts on “Mark Dever and CJ Mahaney Lovefest Continues: Shocking on So Many Levels”

  1. This is sick. If protecting molesters is a “fruit of the spirit” then Dever knows a different Jesus than I do. And I think that is the real problem.


  2. “. . . but from the outside it feels a lot like covering up for the sake of keeping the ministry machine alive.”

    That is exactly how it appears to me, as well. Dever, Mohler et al. want to make a martyr out of Mahaney. Meanwhile, the real martyrs — the victims — are hurting still. I don’t know what kind of gospel they are together for, but it’s not the one Jesus preached.


  3. What kind of hard heart refuses to listen and then says those who would cry out for justice and help are divisive and gossips?

    HUMBLE(TM), of course.

    What kind of hard heart could read the Second Amended Complaint and not think the leader of such an organization should step out of the limelight?

    HUMBLE(TM), of course.

    What kind of heart is so hardened it would publicly insult the blogs that have given a voice to the sexually abused while publicly embracing one who is accused of conspiring to cover up and silence the abused?

    HUMBLE(TM), of course.

    What kind of hard heart are we witnessing?

    HUMBLE(TM), of course.

    With liveried servants blowing long trumpets before The Humble One to announce how Humble(TM) he is.


  4. Keep blowing the bullhorn, Julie Anne.
    Only the stony and deceitful heart of a Pharisee could brag on CJ Maheny and his ilk, at a time like this. In the secular world, a politician who was subject to the complaints that Maheny is subject to, would stand down from office and remove himself from all public duties. No so the proud Pharisee and his so called Chrisitan mates!

    As we say in Victoria Australia, these guys have more front than Myers!
    (translation, overweening and unashamed pride in their dominating position on the biggest retail street in the capital city of Victoria)


  5. Such a weird interview:

    • Dever says to the audience, that the new church has no members yet. “You are working on existing — and we are praying for you.”

    • He says that he heard some people making C.J. Mahaney the “object of gossip” at a wedding. He came up to them and said, “Listen…” Then he claims the three Christian leaders were bragging about Mahaney’s integrity and the way he’s leading this church plant. Why would you use the word gossip in this story?



  6. Thanks for your strong voice here, and on many other fronts Julie Anne. I saw your tweet on John Payne’s church planting comment and smiled! You undoubtedly endured some hard times when your former pastor attempted to sue you, but I think God has used that situation to make you a key voice for those who have none.


  7. Perhaps someone at some other time has mentioned this before: but if the son or daughter of Dever, Mohler et al. had been the victim, they’d be singing a different tune for Mahaney and SGM.


  8. William – – I have thought about that and wondered the same thing. I think if it happened to the son or daughter of an SGM leader, we probably would have seen the same outcome. I’m not sure about Dever/Mohler since they are outside of SGM. It would be interesting to know what their church policies are on child safety issues, background checks, what policies are in place if a registered sex offender visits, etc.


  9. Thanks, 2samuel127 – – – Welcome and thanks for the encouraging words. I’m cannot recall the tweet you are referring to and that will probably bug me all day 🙂


  10. Anonymous – I’m pretty sure this was Dever’s attempt to be humorously ironic. Not only does he deliberately twist the meaning of “gossip”; he also implies that all the talk about Mahaney is mere gossip.


  11. Didn’t Screwtape advise Wormwood about redefining words into their “diabolical meanings”?


  12. Excellent, yet creepy point, HUG. I totally need to re-read that book, although with my SGM experience in the rearview mirror, it will probably be much more disturbing the second go around.

    As for your title to this post, JA, I have to disagree. As bizarre as Dever’s intro was, it was textbook SG style and not at all shocking. Nearly every sermon in SG begins with a embarrassingly long introduction of the preacher about to speak, which is always even longer if it is a guest. It is a great technique for manipulating emotions and preparing the minds of the congregation to be biased in favor of the speaker, and therefore to be less discerning of their actual words, because clearly, they are amazing, godly, and likely super human. Why would one ever need to think twice about the validity of one’s message given those credentials?


  13. It is a great technique for manipulating emotions and preparing the minds of the congregation to be biased in favor of the speaker, and therefore to be less discerning of their actual words, because clearly, they are amazing, godly, and likely super human.

    As was said of Herod Agrippa in the Book of Acts shortly before his death:


  14. Since we’re on the subject of The Humble One(TM), here’s something I came across in an Eastern Orthodox essay/sermon/address down a link from the Mule Chewing Briars site. The title of the (long) essay is “River of Fire”, referring to an Eastern-rite artistic convention when painting The Last Judgment. The subject appears to be the nature of hell and damnation; in Eastern theology, apparently the Glory of Heaven and Torments of Hell are one and the same — the unadulterated Presence of God, just perceived differently by sheep and goats:

    ” “Do you want to know how to understand if a man has faith or unbelief? If you feel warmth coming out of him — from his eyes, from his words, from his manners — be certain that he has faith in his heart. If again you feel cold coming out of his whole being, that means that he has not faith, whatever he may say. He may kneel down, he may bend his head humbly, he may utter all sorts of moral teachings with a humble voice, but all these will breathe forth a chilling breath which falls upon you to numb you with cold.”
    — credited to a “Fotis Kontoglu” (sp?)

    What keyed me in to this was the repetition of the words “humbly” and “humble”.


  15. I thought the same thing about the “gossip” part as well. I reread your transcript twice to make I read it right….calling bragging and praising CJ gossip is really strange.

    Matt Redmond’s post sounds a bit like the post i wrote today ( I don’t understand how those men can continue to support the men who have turned the abusers back on the abused and forced children to face what are most likely their worst nightmares. And allegedly covered up for and praised the men who have been convicted of such abuse! Shame on them!


  16. In line with the topic discussed here, you might be interested in the newest article posted on my website. It is entitled: ‘Spiritual Abuse and How It Can Lead to Other Abuses.’ You can find it at: www.


  17. Caleigh, I love these words from your post: ” I hope that we can get back to a place where rejoicing with someone, being excited for someone’s prayers being answered isn’t the only thing we’re good at.”

    I just read your story and am angry with you.

    Detoxing from SGM has slowly been teaching me all kinds of things, including that it is appropriate (and messed up NOT to) to get angry and express it.

    It’s beautiful to read of the loving, healthy people you have surrounding you, showing you that, and of your honest plight to truly believe that God is Love.


  18. It’s the second time I have noticed the amount of self-flattery these two pile onto the SGM/new SGM congregations. You are all so lucky to have him, you are in for a treat, etc., etc. Apparently at his old church, CLC, he used to flatter the congregation, talk about how they had the best of the gospel. Doesn’t that sort of talk raise any flags? I’d probably walk out if a pastor started talking like that.


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