C.J. Mahaney, Dr. Albert Mohler, Mandatory Reporting, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit, Together for the Gospel

Where’s the Integrity? Mohler, Burk on Abuse


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When the facts became known, the firings of both Paterno and Spanier were inevitable and necessary. 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.  Dr. Albert Mohler 

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The other night I tweeted with Denny Burk.  He tweeted a link to a podcast by Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt in which the discussion was how church should handle abuse (domestic and sex abuse).

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Screen shot 2013-07-29 at 12.04.32 AM

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I need to back track just a bit.  You may remember that on May 23, 2013, Dr. Mohler, along with Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever, issued a statement in support for C. J. Mahaney.

The statement has a little history behind it:

  • Statement was released May 23, 2013 on Facebook, with over 100 comments, mostly negative
  • Statement was later removed from Facebook, along with all the comments with no explanation given
  • Statement was republished on the T4G.com website
  • Statement was revised with key portions removed with no noted update as is common and expected journalistic practice

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Screenshot grabbed from Oxford American DictionaryScreenshot from Oxford American Dictionary App
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I point out the above as a matter of principle.  Dr. Mohler is President of a respected seminary. Look at the definition above.  We should expect nothing less than integrity from our church leaders.  All of the monkeying around with the statement – removing the article along with comments and revisions not noted  – does not show integrity.  And then to remove it with no explanation to the public spoke volumes by their silence.   But this silent treatment is not new to those of us who have been following this story.

Ok, with that history in mind, let’s go back to Burk’s tweet.  In the second tweet by Burk above, Mr. Burk linked to this article by Dr. Albert Mohler, President off Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:  The Tragic Lessons of Penn State — A Call to Action  What would prevent this scandal at your school or church?

Mohler’s article is actually quite good.  Mr. Burk is correct.  In the article, we read compelling words regarding church leaders’ response to abuse.   Mohler appropriately says abuse must be reported to civil authorities.  But when you look at Mohler’s article and compare it with the Statement in Support of Mahaney, you can see some conflicting statements shown in actions and words.   Here is a copy of the statement as shown at the Wayback Machine website (did these guys forget that the internet has a cyber footprint?)  If Mohler would have heeded his own advice back in 2011, he probably wouldn’t have had to play Hide and Seek with the Statement.

But let’s take a look at this discrepancy between the Statement in Support (SS) and Mohler’s Penn State article from Nov. 2011.    For ease in distinguishing the documents, I will use brown for the Statement in Support and green  for the Nov. 2011 Penn State article.  Ok, the first order of business is this quote from the SS of Mahaney:

A Maryland judge’s recent action to dismiss a lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries offers us the first opportunity, and responsibility, to speak to this issue. We could not speak to the issues involved so long as they were raised only in the context of an action in the civil courts. 


I’m calling bull honky on this.  If that was the case, then why did Mohler speak out against Paterno/Sandusky back in 2011?  Sandusky had been charged, but had not gone to court yet.

 . . .  Furthermore, the effort to try such a case in the court of public opinion prior to any decision rendered by an authorized court is likewise irresponsible.

So, Mohler is saying that he, Mohler, was irresponsible for discussing his opinion about Sandusky back in 2011?   Why does Mohler give himself free license to give his personal opinion on the Sandusky situation, but keeps his mouth closed on the Mahaney situation?

Ok, this from Moher’s Penn State article in 2011 is good:

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What about churches, Christian institutions, and Christian schools? The Penn State disaster must serve as a warning to us as well, for we bear an even higher moral responsibility.

The moral and legal responsibility of every Christian — and especially every Christian leader and minister — must be to report any suspicion of the abuse of a child to law enforcement authorities. Christians are sometimes reluctant to do this, but this reluctance is both deadly and wrong.

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The survivor blogs more than hinted at suspicions of abuse.  There were personal accounts of sexual abuse reported on the site for many years.  The personal accounts testified they went to church leaders and nothing was done.  The abuse was kept in the church.  Where do we see that SGM leaders had a pattern of reporting abuse to authorities?  It just isn’t there, yet Mohler has staunchly defended his friend.  His words say one thing, yet he responds differently with his friend.  That does not show integrity of character.

From the removed Statement in Support:

A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry.

What constitutes as credible?  Who will judge that?  Again, Mohler judged the Paterno/Sandusky case before it went to court.   There were scores of witnesses against CJ and SGM and Mohler and his friends discount them entirely.  Why is that?

We believe this lawsuit failed that test.  

That is a faulty statement.  Most of the case was dismissed on a statute of limitations issue, so Mahaney never was tried for the allegations presented in the lawsuit.

For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way. We do not regret that decision. We are profoundly thankful for C. J. as friend, and we are equally thankful for the vast influence for good he has been among so many Gospel-minded people.

Well, I’m sure that’s pretty easy to say when you live in Louisville.  But back at the Covenant Life Church camp where C.J. Mahaney presided for many years, look what I found in public court documents (dated March 1, 2013) regarding now-convicted pedophile, Nathan Morales.  I took a screen shot of the pertinent information which showed up on two pages (and blotted out an address).

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Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 7.13.32 AM.png

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Ok, this next shot is very important:

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Screen shot 2013-07-31 at 7.04.45 AM

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The court documents say that Morales was sent away sometime after abuse occurred.  The abuse started in 1988. Again, that was when C. J. Mahaney was head of the flagship church.   If you know anything about Mahaney, you know that he had knowledge of what was going on among his group of church leaders.  The environment was such that church leaders reported and some even kept files on the sins of church members. Surely if Morales was sent away to “Teen Challenge” for a year to a rehabilitation facility, Mahaney knew something was going on.

Folks, this is only one pedophile of many ongoing sex abuse cases at SGM.  For all of these church leaders to come out in support of their friend who obviously must have known something is absurd.

I leave you with the last 2 sentences from Mohler from his 2011 article regarding Penn State:

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The costs of acting wrongly in such a situation, or acting inadequately, are written across today’s headlines and the moral conscience of the nation. The tragedy at Penn State is teaching the entire nation a lesson it dare not fail to learn.

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Oh, one more thing to Denny Burk:  Denny, I have a hunch you may be reading this because of the pingback.   I was glad to see that you still have your blog post up regarding the statement in support.  However, I noticed in the comments  a couple of people referenced my name, but also discovered that my comments had been removed.  That looks kind of funny to have my name there with no comments by me.  At one time there were several comments.  I happened to look through my file of screen shots and found one of the removed comments.  I can’t figure out why you removed it.   FYI – if you respond here on my blog I will leave your comment even if I don’t like what you have to say.

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Screen shot 2013-05-24 at 10.15.03 AM

And here’s one more bonus screen shot in case Burk removes his blog post.  It’s important to note that Mr. Burk signed the dotted line, too, in public support of Mahaney.

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Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 5.33.16 PM

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This really is the end 🙂

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78 thoughts on “Where’s the Integrity? Mohler, Burk on Abuse”

  1. Julie Anne, you are a bulldog. Way to connect the dots. I don’t know how you keep track of all the players!


  2. Among domestic violence professionals, it is well established that among religious groups that teach male “headship,” etc., the likelihood of violence against women and children is hundreds of times more likely to occur. All you need to do is take a look at the power and control wheel to see where the strategies of male domination fall:

    Click to access PowerandControl.pdf

    God is the ultimate “Big stick” to use against a woman who just wants to please Him and raise her children in a godly home. If this attitude and tolerance for sexual abuse is present in the church, you can bet it is present in many of the families attending that church and probably in the church leadership itself.

    God have mercy!


  3. Lisa – it just irritates me (putting it mildly) when guys like Mohler talk out of both sides of the mouth, especially when it comes to issues of abuse. They get to sit in their lofty perches and don’t get to hear the heart-wrenching stories I hear. I always say when there is sex abuse that gets overlooked in church environment, that survivor is victimized not only sexually, but revictimized spiritually. Sometimes that spiritual confusion makes God out to be the abuser and so there is a crisis of faith – some leave church and never come back. This must stop! Quit worrying about your friends or your next book endorsement or who will be the charismatic speaker standing at your podium, for crying out loud!!


  4. Very good. I would have loved to see the look on Mohler’s face when the FB comments started to roll in. “Why aren’t they agreeing with us? At the conferences, we get so much applause. This is an outrage!”

    “Bull honky.” White bull? Phony white person?


  5. Julie Anne:

    I have zero confidence that Al Mohler or anyone else in the higher ups of the SBC will ever do anything substantive to reduce any type of abuse in the SBC.

    All they know how to do is PR.


  6. Jeff Brown: Have you not heard bully honky? It saves me from being even more colorful 🙂 Having lived all over due to Navy, I have no idea where I picked that up.


  7. JA,

    The only thing that blows my mind is that Mohler still has a job in the SBC. Goes to show just how morally bankrupt the SBC has become.

    I did wonder if the Penn State scandal was more of an offense to Mohler because it was only about boys. SGM is mostly about girls.


  8. Lydia – “I did wonder if the Penn State scandal was more of an offense to Mohler because it was only about boys. SGM is mostly about girls.”

    That comment just sent shivers down my spine. What is the big deal here, anyway? Sandusky was ONE perpetrator. How many are there at SGM? We don’t even have a clue about how many true victims at SGM because there are quite a few who have not joined with the lawsuit – – it’s too much for them emotionally. And then who knows how many haven’t disclosed anything to anyone? My heart aches for them.


  9. Lydia;

    I also wonder how Mohler still has a job in the SBC. I really wonder what AL would have to do to lose his job.


  10. I also wonder if there were women leaders in the higher echelons of the SBC how the strategy for doing something about the abuse in the SBC would be handled. Are women even consulted on this very important matter? The SBC IMO has really missed the target by relegating women to a non-leadership class.


  11. From Urban Dictionary:

    “1. Bull honkey (also spelled ‘honky’)

    To be utterly positively false without question.

    Barbara: Yo, this water tastes like Camel Urine.
    Dylan: Bull honkey, it tastes like a fine wine.”

    I never heard the term before, but figured it was a euphemism.

    Anne – Interesting article. It drives home that covering up sex abuse is a crime.


  12. Jeff Brown:

    HA – well, there ya go! 🙂 I love the example. If honkey with the “e” is the 1st spelling, I better adjust my internal dictionary.


  13. This has always boggled my mind as well although not really. Some supporters of the SBC can say the institution is not corrupt all they want but it doesn’t change the fact that the SBC is preaching morals but yet are morally bankrupt themselves. They can write that they cannot tell others what to do, but yet they take a stand against others all the time. This is no different. I’m surprised the SBC is still standing after all the corruption has been brought out, yet they keep denying or stay silent and continue to preach their brand of morals while ignoring something as horrific as this. It will come back to bite them in the b… or at least it had better.


  14. “Lydia – “I did wonder if the Penn State scandal was more of an offense to Mohler because it was only about boys. SGM is mostly about girls.”

    That comment just sent shivers down my spine. What is the big deal here, anyway? Sandusky was ONE perpetrator. How many are there at SGM? We don’t even have a clue about how many true victims at SGM because there are quite a few who have not joined with the lawsuit – – it’s too much for them emotionally. And then who knows how many haven’t disclosed anything to anyone? My heart aches for them.”

    JA, I do not say that flippantly, either. I really believe after my years in the comp world, knowing these guys and their teaching (woman are made in the “indirect” image of God) and quite a few other things I won’t mention. There comes a time to connect dots from many years.

    Reading the SGM lawsuit showed me how utterly disdainful they are of women/girls. (He was only experimenting with the 3 year old girl, boys will be boys) I don’t even think they know it themselves because it is so ingrained in their way of thinking. They really think their beliefs concerning women are edifying to women when we all know it is just the opposite. Women/girls are objects.

    I have come to the conclusion after many years of being in that world, it is not a safe place for females. Why? Because it tends to attract the wrong sorts of men who love the idea of being elevated over someone else. Like any system of that sort from serfdom to slavery, the “lesser” person becomes an object without even realizing it.


  15. The thing is, Paterno and some of his superiors at PSU did make a report about Sandusky, several years earlier. There was some kind of investigation and the prosecutor involved decided not to pursue the matter. Then the next time around, Paterno, et alia, got in big trouble over not having made a report. On the other hand, CJ and the other SGM pastors made no report at all and there were multiple victims and incidents.


  16. Lydia, I knew you were serious and that’s why I got those shivers. I’d love to hear your story sometime and how all those dots were connected. I knew I was in something bad, but had no idea the extent of it. Now I’m dealing with the fruit of it as I mingle with the Homeshoolers Anonymous young adults. The stories they tell are very sad.


  17. An Attorney – Yes!! However, I do think there was one case where they reported only because someone else was going to report – the musician/dad. I believe he served time.

    But their general MO was to keep it in the church.


  18. The day that Tim Keller starts publishing or chumming it up with these creeps is the day I quit reading TK’s books. He is the last one standing, as far as male pastors with big readerships… so far he’s never publicly thrown his support behind evil patriarchy-driven behavior, although it might be because he is an urban pastor in NYC — not some Bible belt patriarchy tool. That crap wouldn’t fly in Manhattan. They’ve got their own issues, to be sure, but hopefully this won’t be one of them.


  19. Gosh this was an excellent post, Julie Anne! You wrote–

    “Quit worrying about your friends or your next book endorsement or who will be the charismatic speaker standing at your podium, for crying out loud!!”

    I am beginning to think that will never happen. If the biggest Evangelical sects abuse scandal (as some have called the SGM scandal) will not cause them to specifically speak out against leaders (or at least not publically praise them) who allegedly fail to report abuse of children to the authorities…what will? These men love other MEN, imo! They crave their praises, endorsements, compliments and love to be seen with them. It is sick. I hope they get a grip some day, repent and seek God.

    Just watch Wayne Grudem’s sermon at the hotel church in Louisville from earlier this month. The first minute is all you need to hear Grudem go on and on about how glad he is to be there supporting Mahaney’s church “plant” lol and about CJ’s outstanding integrity and character, It is surreal. He says-

    “I’m just glad to be here at this, um….church plant…..Margaret and I wanted to do this (speak in Mahaney’s hotel room) because we wanted to give a very public and visible signal of support for this church plant, and especially support for CJ, who’s been just a wonderful friend for so long, and a…a man of very high integrity and exemplary Christian character, and I just count you a friend, CJ, and very honored to be here with this church plant, so thank you. And Jeff and Julie Purswell, good to see you, and Carolyn, good to see you, and Gary and Bob and Paul.”



  20. Lydia, Your description of God’s creative act of man and woman is worth noting. I plan to add this description to my file:

    “I really believe after my years in the comp world, knowing these guys and their teaching (woman are made in the “indirect” image of God) . . .”

    Woman made in the “indirect’ image of God. How’s that for a theological view of what Yahweh did on the day he ‘birthed’ Adam and Eve on this planet. Now I have a clear definition to pass along to others! Not! At least I can use this to clarify how this flawed thinking seems to appear to others in the Body of Christ!

    As stated above: “God have mercy!”


  21. CJ made a public rebuke toward the older highschool boys, saying something along the lines of the boys acting ungodly or inappropriately. This was around 1993 or 4.
    Now I believe CJ was blaming the boy’s for what happened with Nate.


  22. BTW I just received information regarding this New Arabic Translation of the book: “Still Side by Side: A Concise Explanation of Biblical Equality.’

    Here is the book description:
    “Translated into Arabic from the English book, “Still Side by Side,” this book is an introduction to biblical equality. Each chapter is introduced with a question and brief answer, followed by a more in depth explanation. It is a valuable resource for individuals or groups who are seeking answers to the questions surrounding gender and the church.”



  23. Too bad you all missed Denny Burks blog post about Ware’s teaching at the Denton bible church that “unsubmissive wives trigger abuse” a few years back. It got upwards to 1000 comments. The mutualists were making too much Greek and Hebrew sense and he delete the whole thing.

    If you google that quote of Wares in your tweet with his name, you will see a few years back it made quite a splash in the blogosphere. Cheryl Schatz includes an audio quote of this teaching in her DVD series, Women in Ministry.

    BTW: Ware’s son in law, the young Owen Strachan was appointed boss of CBMW. It’s a family affair.

    Here is a blog post from 2008 that gives links to some of Ware’s teaching on this subject. Since CBMW has been reimaged, some of the old stuff is missing:



  24. Diane, CJ’s church plant (not less than 2 mile from me) was first at Christian Academy private school where they have zero tolerance for child molestation and those who protect them as stated to parents. It was not long before some parents started complaining about SGM (lawsuit) meeting there on weekends and low and behold they are at the Marriot. Now an SGM “church plant” usually consists of those from SGM who move to a new place. That is what this church plant consists of: Those who fled Gaithersburg with the Mahaney’s. Most are related. I would be shocked if there are more than 40 people there. A big crowd to entice Piper, Bridges, Dever and Grudem, eh? Wonder why Mohler has not spoken there? (wink)

    But Mohler has done his bit making sure Mahaney son in law has a job at SBTS. And Kauflin and partnership in the “worship” department. Gotta repay all that money CJ gave to SBTS not long ago.

    I am sure some SBTS seminary guys have gone over to pay homage at worship. After all, CJ said he was moving to Louisville to plant a church “near the seminary”. Which is strange as he is not near the seminary (he likes those high income zip codes for church planting) and we have churches (Baptist!) on every corner. CJ is not Baptist…….is he? (hee hee)

    Amazing how many people these guys can fool with their deception and hypocrisy. I have to suppose it is willful blindness to a movement?


  25. Diane, Great find! That is yet another past blog post concerning Ware. The comments are telling. Here is the thing, these guys who “teach/preach” never really have to engage interactively with what they teach. And you can see by the comments, why they don’t like to.

    I quit reading Burk a while back. I used to enjoy the comments as I learned a lot but they are trying to reimage comp doctrine now so things have changed. The wild west of blogdom is pretty much over. They learned their lesson. Now they get your IP and harass you by poisoning the well.

    The comments I see there are another reason why in this day and time I think “preaching” as we know it from a stage is on it’s way out for those who want to engage the subject matter.


  26. “Now they get your IP and harass you by poisoning the well.”

    It’s the new definition of being “above reproach.” Like coercion.


  27. Jeff Brown your Urban Dictionary is hilarious!
    From Urban Dictionary:
    1. Bull honkey (also spelled ‘honky’)
    To be utterly positively false without question.
    2. Dumb donkey
    One who is utterly positively false without question.

    Is it okay that I added Dumb donkey to your dictionary?

    Barbara: Yo, what is going on with the SBC?
    Dylan: Dun know, they’re acting like a bunch of dumb donkeys talkin’ a bunch of bull honkey.

    Kinda reminds me of the “101 christian cuss words” bit by Tim Hawkins.


  28. For anyone that’s angry about this, here are some christian cuss words from Tim Hawkins that might be helpful in letting off some steam…. may provide some comic relief from this nightmare….

    I couldn’t stop laughing through the whole dang show. Definitely worth the shekels.


  29. Oops. Good gravy, rasa frasa, confound it. Sorry. Thought it would just show up as a link….


  30. This thread prompts me to ask two questions:

    1. What is the Gospel, really?

    2. In what ways may the true Gospel be at variance with what is promoted by the likes of Denny Burke, John Piper, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, The Gospel Coalition, T4G, and even the SBC’s “Baptist Faith and Message”?

    Actually, I’m mostly concerned for a good answer to the first question. I am increasingly convinced that the great majority of evangelicals don’t get it right. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it right.


  31. Okay, one more song.

    To the tune of “Moon River.”

    “Bull Honkey.”
    That is how I kid,
    When told Mahaney did
    Not know.

    When friends laud him
    And a…
    Pplaud him,
    And say that he’s blameless,
    They’re shameless
    For dough.

    “Bull Honkey.”
    What a perfect phrase
    To use
    When people praise
    His name.

    So just…
    On smi…
    Ling, C.J.;
    Shake your arms and sway;
    No matter what, we’ll say:
    To blame.”


  32. Jeff Brown,
    I just revealed how unhip I am. The only “hip” I got is what my hand plants on when I mean business.
    Whadayaknow! Dumb donkey is there.
    Correct definition: One who fails to use their intelligence in a common sense situation.

    But I like my conversational example far better.


  33. Gary W – I’ll take a crack at it:

    The gospel (good news) is everything the Father, the Holy Spirit, and, especially, the Son, has done in order to free us from the penalty of our sins and to ensure that we exist throughout eternity with God as His children. Jesus, the God/man, lived a sinless life, and, as a spotless Lamb, took our sins upon Himself and paid the penalty for us by being tortured and crucified. After being buried for three days, He rose from death to re-join His Father. Our part in this is to repent of our sins and believe from our heart that Jesus did this for us.

    This could be elaborated in much more detail or distilled to one or two sentences. 1 Cor 15:1-4 is the essence of it.


  34. Gary W – Concerning your second question: From what I read of them, they pretty much get it right, but some over-emphasize one part of it, and others add lesser doctrines to it, and these things can be disastrous. Mahaney (and maybe some others) so concentrate on sin that they think that believers are not much different from non-believers. They de-emphasize the grace that believers have, and this supports authoritarianism.

    Piper and others are so hung up on male and female roles that they elevate beliefs about it to gospel-level importance. They give the impression that you can’t be a believer unless you’re a complementarian.


  35. Lydia said at 11:20, “I have come to the conclusion after many years of being in that world, it is not a safe place for females. Why? Because it tends to attract the wrong sorts of men who love the idea of being elevated over someone else.”

    Diane, I clicked on the link in your 1:00 comment. Thanks! Unfortunately, I can’t find Bruce Ware’s sermon to listen to it myself. However, I read Denny Burk’s post he says is “on male headship” which he titled “Bruce Ware’s Complementarian Reading of Genesis”. Simply stunning to find back in 2008 they were having the same conversation as on this blog about the “dark side” of Complementarianism. It even got press in the Huffington Post. It seems the “Comp leaders” have been quite successful in selling “women are made in the indirect image of God” bull honkey. I strongly recommend reading Denny Burk’s post & the comments (click on Diane’s link).

    So, what happened after Denny posted and affirmed Bruce Ware’s sermon?

    Commenter Sue says to Denny, “I have just listened to a short segment of Dr. Ware’s sermon. I was stopped cold by the fact that he explicitly states that wife abuse is a response to a wife challenging her husband’s authority.”

    Denny says, “Sue, I’m not sure where you’re getting that from, but Dr. Ware never said any such thing. Please refrain from distorting his message.”

    Sue then quotes Ware himself, “The very wise and good plan of God, of male headship, is sought to be overturned as women now, as sinners, want instead to have their way, instead of submitting to their husbands, to do what they would like to do, and seek to work to have their husbands fulfill their will, rather than serving them; and their husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course, one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged .or more commonly to become passive, acquiescing and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and churches.”

    I don’t think Denny ever responds to Sue, but I’m not 100% positive. There were 1,790 comments. I sifted thru 100s of comments after Sue’s before I gave up.

    I am convinced now more than ever, especially after reading the numerous informed comments (& Biblical teaching) here over the last 2 ½ weeks, that Complementarianism is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.


  36. They obviously knew back in 2008 what “Comp” really was. They were just more open about it back then.

    They’ve become more subtle and better at selling it over the years. More like PR machines than truth tellers.

    I am ashamed to say I was deceived in years past, but no more. I will not be recommending it to another woman or family.


  37. @A Mom~

    I cannot find the sermon anywhere either. I wonder why it is no longer available??
    Has Ware changed his mind? Are they (Denton, CBMW) embarrassed by it now?


  38. “I am ashamed to say I was deceived in years past, but no more. I will not be recommending it to another woman or family.”

    We have all had our deceived moments. No need, imo, to be ashamed. How wonderful it is that you can now advise others with all you have learned. That is how we all help each other. 🙂


  39. Jeff Brown,

    Yes, I agree that, at 3:10 PM, you get the essence of the Gospel as it has been taught and preached to me. Yet, something now seems to be missing. This Gospel, it seems to me, is not bearing fruit, or at least not much fruit. I’m left wondering why. It’s easy to point the finger at influential Christian people who seem to have little if any practical concern for “the least of these,” but why has this Gospel not made more difference in my own life? I know, I know: Read the Bible more, pray, pray in tongues, attend, serve, give, journal, confess, repent, worship, praise, behave “Biblically” (whatever that means) and on and on and on. Well, yeah, but why doesn’t it all work? Where is the power for transformation? Where is Jesus? There just has to be more.


  40. Lydia,
    That’s why some people who do a lot of commenting hide their IP addresses by using a proxy server. The high end ones are about $10/month. Well worth it.


  41. Here is the weirdest thing about the link to all those comments. A few months after that exchange, they were gone. Many bloggers talked about them being gone. Now it could be there was a glitch because of the volume but after a few years, you start to see how they operate and have to wonder. It could be like the T4G facebook statement that disappeared (they are getting faster) and then reappeared edited on the site then was deleted all together. Perhaps all the talk about them being gone looked worse and he put them back up? I don’t know. Maybe thinking give it some time and no one will even think of them again?

    But it never ceases to amaze me how we can quote their words back to them and one their supporters will always say we misunderstood them. If I had a dollar for every time that happened over the last 10 years, I would be rich. Evidently, these men who make their living teaching and public speaking are not really good communicators. :o)

    Bruce Ware said what he said. There is no denying it. One gets weary trying to communicate with those who love deception.


  42. “Yet, something now seems to be missing. This Gospel, it seems to me, is not bearing fruit, or at least not much fruit. I’m left wondering why. It’s easy to point the finger at influential Christian people who seem to have little if any practical concern for “the least of these,” but why has this Gospel not made more difference in my own life? I know, I know: Read the Bible more, pray, pray in tongues, attend, serve, give, journal, confess, repent, worship, praise, behave “Biblically” (whatever that means) and on and on and on. Well, yeah, but why doesn’t it all work? Where is the power for transformation? Where is Jesus? There just has to be more.”

    I hear ya, Gary. My personal theory after wrestling with this that it is something akin to the Greek philosophy of dualism that infested Christianity early on that has infected all of us to some degree. Our tendency to see all the material world including ourselves as solely evil and only the spiritual, as good. there are variations of this, of course. Calvinism being the most blatant example in Christendom. Islam being the most blatant example of the great world religions.

    Evangelicalism is bankrupt. We have spent all our time “evangelizing” people to try and get them in church. For what? The church (in general) in the West is as corrupt (or worse) that the world. We do not seem to know how to live as the “kingdom” now on earth except– go to church. Perhaps we have focused solely on eternity and not enough on the now? Walking humbly, being just and having mercy? . I am not even sure we understand sin. We have people teaching that our thoughts are sins. I suppose that is so to lump them in with the child molesters? Heck, you hang around comp long enough and you start to think being a women is sin personified.

    I have been spending some time with some agnostics who are asking questions and it is totally changing my paradigm. They think Christians for the most part are morally bankrupt. I tell them not to blame Christ.


  43. I have to admit… the thought that someone needs to save Denny Burk’s post and comments before they’re gone (again?) ran through my mind.

    Julie Anne – That link is the one I originally tried, too. 🙂 But when the link for that sermon is selected (6/22/08 Complementarian Vision of Creation), “error page not found” comes up.

    Diane’s link works though. She is unstoppable. I’m listening but not getting far, because I have to stop to take notes.

    Worth listening to. Warning, a few of those christian cuss words may come in handy!

    Lydia, 10 years? I had no idea. Words fail. You have an incredible legacy. You have kept at it. Many people have been helped I would imagine. I have been. Thank God for you!


  44. What’s the Good News?

    Well,originally, it was simply the concept of salvation, which had never been a part of any religion up to that point. Most Christians don’t know that Judaism is actually an Eastern religion, and of those who do, not many understand Eastern thought. After practicing Buddhism for four years, I hope I have a little experience and knowledge about it

    In Eastern religions there are basically two views of the afterlife, circular and linear. The circular is best represented by the three main religions from India; Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Escape from the circle of reincarnation is the goal of these religions. The linear are represented by Judaism and Zoroastrianism, which posit one death. Both types involve a judgment based on one’s deeds. The concept of karma was understood by all these religions, though in Zoroastrianism and Judaism it was understood to manifest during one’s life (See Ecc. 11)

    When Christ came, the revolutionary concept of salvation and forgiveness of sins was introduced, and the freedom from judgement offered in that took the world by storm (It also offered freedom from religious systems, which made it none too popular with leaders of other religions). The Good News was that God came in the flesh of Jesus Christ to wipe away the sins of the world, and the way to gain that was laid out succinctly in Acts 2:38

    Today, the idea of salvation from sin is old hat in the Western world, so much so that it’s become little more than a get out of Hell card for many. There’s also been either a neglect or a constraining doctrine as to what the gift of the Holy Spirit is in much of the church. Gary W. asked where the transformation is, and sadly, it just really isn’t there for most people. Churches have become more of a political rallying point than makers of Disciples with the Mainline being the religious arm of the Left and the Evangelical the church of the Right.

    How do we reconcile this with Romans 12: 2 when our churches are telling us to conform to and participate in these worldly systems? Is the will of God and renewal of our minds demonstrated by how well we advocate for our respective political parties, in order to make other people sacrifice for our own views, or is it demonstrated in individuals that step out of that system and give of their own hands to feed the hungry and heal the sick? Are we serving Caesar or God when we make minor points of doctrine political talking points (and we need to understand that Patriarchy and abuses of power in churches are about politics and nothing more).

    So how do we become transformed? The renewal of our minds must be something greater than deciding to stand for one cause or another. What is it that we are really focused on in our thoughts and actions? Is it truly seeking the will of God or is it seeking the feeling of superiority that comes from certitude and correctness? Are we focusing on finding God in the words of the Bible or living with the Holy Spirit that dwells within and in between us? Pete Rollins makes a strong case for crucifying our religion and all our notions about it in order to truly experience the Resurrection in our own hearts and lives. Churches love to preach about ‘dying to self’ but perhaps the churches and their hierarchies need to die to self themselves.

    While the Good News of salvation is free to all, the price of Discipleship is high. It requires that we take up our own cross and follow Christ, and that we ultimately die with Him there. Once all of the thoughts and desires about the worldly things die we can experience the Resurrection in our own lives. That goes against the agenda of the churches that seek power; resurrected people are free from their worldly system.


  45. Dr. Bruce Ware’s sermon,

    Dr. Ware seems like a very important man. Just a minute into the video & before Ware’s sermon even begins, his introduction includes:
    professor at SBTS
    “chairman” of his “Elderboard”
    Ware’s book on the trinity – Do I smell ESS (eternal subordination of the son)??? Is it really that predictable with them???

    What is this, a club/click hierarchy? Reminds me of the Masons…


  46. Lydia & A Mom – – the removing comments thing – – – ok, that seems so blatantly off to me. I just don’t get it. If someone wants to spend the time and read an article and then comment, let them comment. What a compliment it is to the blog owner for someone to take the time to do both. Who cares whether they don’t agree with you. I love that. I get challenged and it makes me think. It’s not an attack on me personally (ha – well, for the most part). So, when I noticed my comment removed for the first time on a prominent church leader’s blog, it floored me. I expected it from CON, not from these guys. It’s such poor behavior for people who are so hung up over their manhood. I think I need to loan them my big girl panties.

    So now you know my MO – any TGC blog, I take a screenshot. And lately if they don’t post it, I tweet the comment that they did not approve. When you tweet: “This is the comment that Big Man Church Leader would not approve,” eyes are watching – lol.


  47. Lydia and Eric,

    Thank you for your observations of 7:01 and 7:13 regarding what is the Gospel/Good News. I’ve nothing of real substance to add to you observations, just some miscellaneous comments.

    To my way of thinking, the great emphasis and hope American evangelicals put into the supposed pretribulation rapture is nothing more than a manifestation the escape-this-evil-world dualism of which Lydia Speaks.

    Regarding dying daily, I think it may be one of Peter Rollins’ books in which it is pointed out that Jesus died, not just to religion, but to Father God Himself. The correlative truth is that, death being separation, the Father did also die to the Son. Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac is, I think, a picture of this.

    Finally, the best I can presently offer in answer to my own question regarding the true nature of the Gospel is that, whatever the answer or answers might be, they must surely be wrapped up in a living and vibrant relationship with Jesus, through the Spirit, in fellowship with others. Beyond that, I expect it has something to do with agape love, embraced not as some sort of explanatory intellectual category, but as a way of living. To this particular end I suspect that there is more to be learned from watching a momma bear with her cubs, a cat with her kittens, certainly a mother with her child, than by reading all the theological treatises ever written. Well, O.K., I hope this last paragraph counts for something more than a miscellaneous comment.


  48. To answer my own second question from 2:36 P.M., it occurs to me that actual, tangible, physical, here-and-now manifestations of agape love are what is missing from the the Gospel of so many influential conservative evangelicals.


  49. Gary W., I think you’re right on track in seeing the deficiency of real agape love as the problem. It’s not just in the conservative segment of the Church, either. The Mainline Left is dying in their ivory tower aloofness while the Conservative/Evangelical side is killing itself with blatant hypocrisy. Both sides are suffering from that lack of agape love, or more precisely, and embracing of hate. The Mainline hates anything they perceive to be social injustice and the Evangelicals hate anything that doesn’t fit into an increasingly fundamentalist mold. One side’s message is “Love society/hate social injustice” and the other’s is “Love the sinner/hate the sin.”

    Agape love cannot flourish in people’s lives in the presence of hate. Love X/Hate Y is an expression of that dualism that is taking over in American religious thought. We are not God who can fully actualize “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated” (which doesn’t really mean that in Hebrew idiom), we are humans seeking to become like Christ. What fellowship do love and hate have? The same fellowship as Christ and Belial: None at all. Very few, if any, people can completely differentiate people from sins or systems, so bringing hate into the equation at any level causes people to act in manners that are contrary to love. We walk away from peacemaking and reconciliation, create out-groups and scapegoats, while gleefully sacrificing people and their hearts on the altar of our smug self-righteousness.

    Jesus told the Pharisees to go and learn what “I DESIRE MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE” means. Mercy comes from love; sacrifice of others comes from hate. The Psalmist wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Contrite comes from the Latin root meaning “to crush to pieces.” It’s not our job to create these broken spirits and crushed hearts in others for them to come to God. Rather, we show mercy and love so that others may see Christ in our actions and become open to God creating that holy pain within them.

    Is this what the Church in general is doing today? I don’t think so, and I think that atheists and agnostics would agree, which is a sad statement on the state of the Church today. It’s as if we’ve turned around the words of the blind man: “All we know is we could see, but now we’re blind.”


  50. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Jn 14:6. God is love. 1 Jn 4:16. Jesus is God. No love, no Jesus. No love, no truth. A “gospel” without love is no gospel at all.

    No love, no truth.


  51. Gary W asked what the gospel (good news) is.

    I’ve been listening up more lately to how “centrality of the gospel” is defined. It seems to me that the gospel has been explained more with the words of apostle Paul than with the words of Jesus. All kinds of stuff are being tacked on (first tier, second tier). And the gospel has become more confusing than when I first heard it as a child. The gospel sounds more like a mental exercise. Joy & agape love seem absent.

    It also seems like how we are to live is taught, again, with more words & quotes from apostle Paul, than from Jesus himself. If I had not been brought up in church and were a newbie, I would think today’s Christianity is about following Paul, not Jesus. I think that’s a problem.

    Eric Fry talked about the lack of agape love as well.

    Gary W said, “…they (the answers) must surely be wrapped up in a living and vibrant relationship with Jesus, through the Spirit, in fellowship with others. Beyond that, I expect it has something to do with agape love, embraced not as some sort of explanatory intellectual category, but as a way of living.”

    That sounds right. That sound like hope.. and a way to abundant life.

    Maybe the church as a whole (including me) needs to go back to reading through the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Maybe we need to go to & learn from Jesus himself, in order to follow Him and be like Him.


  52. A Mom says, “If I had not been brought up in church and were a newbie, I would think today’s Christianity is about following Paul, not Jesus.” Yes. Brilliant! During my entire sojourn as an evangelical, from about 1970 until just recently, the Gospel was presented entirely from what Paul wrote. Think Romans road. Then they add inference upon inference, extrapolation upon extrapolation–always from Paul. (Where, exactly, even in “the Gospel according to Paul” do you find the verse or verses that make specific reference to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness? It ain’t there. It’s an intellectual construct, pure and simple.)

    Ask any given evangelical pastor/teacher/evangelist/apologist to define the Gospel using only Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and I dare say they just simply cannot do it. Full disclosure: I really can’t do it either. NT Wright has taken a run at it, but I don’t recall in which of his books.

    Something is deeply amiss in American evangelicalism, and probably in the entire apparatus of worldwide institutional “Christianity.”


  53. Jesus did not hang out with the intellectuals, the leaders, the learned, the honored, the ones in authority. Jesus spent his time with the poor, the everyday people, the last & least “of these”. Who were Jesus’ disciples? Sons & relatives of his parent’s friends?

    Forward to today. Who’s the desired audience? What areas of town are the counseling centers located? Who do the leaders spend their time with? Who’s being protected?


  54. Julie Anne (@8:12pm),

    That’s one of the major things that won me to your blog. As you know, I’ve never experienced spiritual abuse directly. When I first started reading your blog I asked myself how I could know the truth in all this. How do I know that I’m not just reading hurts and pains, real in themselves but not good indicators of real issues? The answer was your integrity. Your compassion in the way that you listened to even those you didn’t agree with won me over. I’ve been a fan ever since.


  55. Thank you, Craig. Just so you know, I’m a huge fan of yours, partly because you haven’t experienced spiritual abuse and you want to understand it. I love compassion like that. But if I ever need a pick me up, I go and reread this. It makes me laugh until I cry!


  56. craigvick,

    You ask, “How do I know that I’m not just reading hurts and pains, real in themselves but not good indicators of real issues?” I appreciate your willingness to listen and not just assume that the “real” issue is the hurt person’s failure to react to the wrong thing done to them with perfect mental, emotional and spiritual maturity. If you’ll allow me to nudge you just a little, I would suggest that the burden is on the one who would criticize (not speaking of you) to show that hurting people are somehow accountable for the way they are “just” acting out of hurts and pains. Otherwise, it seems to me an awful lot like blame shifting.


  57. Gary W, I appreciate your nudge and agree with you. I struggled a bit with that sentence because I wanted to be honest about where I was, but I didn’t want to add salt to any wounds. I wouldn’t say my reaction was an example for others. It’s where I was. The main thing I want to underline is that Julie Anne’s integrity brought me to a better place.


  58. I know this is not a new idea, but I wonder to what degree comfort has to do with the weakness of the church in this country. And not just the church, but us as individuals. Even in a depressed economy, we generally have it pretty good, particularly when we look at how most people have lived throughout history. And we have an enormous amount of things that can distract us.

    The Bible talks a lot about suffering. We are to expect it, and not to be surprised when it occurs. Believers are said to be blessed when they are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. But how many of us would welcome persecution for the sake of truth, as the Apostles did?

    I think that when we undergo suffering, or are close to our survival limits, things that rather bored us in Scripture come alive. A couple of years ago, my brother and his family underwent more suffering than they ever have. He said that he clung to the Word more than ever before, and had never before seen so much in it or had been so comforted by it.

    It also, unless we become bitter, makes us more compassionate toward others.

    I’m not saying that we should seek suffering, though there are always those who enter situations, such as mission fields, where they know that a certain degree of suffering is inevitable. I also want to make it clear that suffering as a result of extremely sinful behavior by others should never be seen as in any way desirable, even though God may pour blessings down on those who have been victimized.

    I’m rambling, but I think possible widespread future suffering will make the faith come alive in this country. It would be nice if it didn’t have to come to that, but I think it may have to.


  59. Jeff: I can’t remember where I heard this recently, but someone was telling me the story about a pastor’s response to suffering. The pastor, too, found that suffering brings people closer to God and realized that maybe our prayers should not be that our suffering is relieved, but that we are drawn to God and our relationship is strengthened and renewed in the process. I know that when I look back on my most difficult times and cried out to God, He met me in ways that only a God who understood me could have orchestrated. That only builds my faith in Him. The rest of my trials seems kind of trivial when you are brought to that reality.


  60. Hello All, I recommend comparing Julie Anne’s screenshot of the factual information above pertaining to one of the indictments filed against Nathan Morales with this statement, that has not been amended, from the Covenant Life Church Pastors claiming they had no knowledge of Morales’s behavior until one of the victims grew up and told them about it as an adult:


    They also say they’ve had robust policies in place to protect children for years.

    What do you think?


  61. Janna — What do we think about Covenant Life’s comment that they knew nothing about Morales? When I’m done laughing my head off I’ll catch my breathe and tell you.

    As you know, almost every teenage boy in the youth group had been “gotten” by Nate Morales, according the information alleged in the lawsuit (paragraphs #36-38) and it was reported to a youth leader who reported it to Grant Layman.

    For people new to the story, here’s the link to the document naming Covenant Life Church as a defendant in this 25-year child sexual abuse cover-up lawsuit: https://spiritualsoundingboard.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/2nd-amended-lawsuit-filing-may-14-2013.pdf


  62. Thanks, Anonymous. The lies coming out of CLC are sick jokes at this point, on one level. The CLC Pastors actually used non-profit funds to put Grant Layman on a 3-month “Sabbatical” instead of firing him for not following the law as he’s publicly and unapologetic ally admitted to a major media outlet:


    I also doubt that Morales was the first or only CLC member that C.J. Mahaney and his fellow pastors thought it was appropriate to send to “pedophile rehab camp” instead of reporting to the police. It looks like the CLC Pastors had an established if unofficial process for “handling” pedophiles without involving the civil legal system or CLC’s general membership based on all the evidence I’ve seen.

    The most d—ning evidence against Mahaney at this point is that he’s not denying the allegations against him or suing his accusers for libel/slander as anyone would do if there wasn’t a boatload of evidence against him proving him’s guilty.

    I think Layman’s privvy to information that Joshua Harris doesn’t want revealed to the public so he’s essentially buying him off. I held out hope for Joshua Harris for a long time but think he’s ended up being as ruthless and short-sighted as his mentor.

    My concern is that I live in the same county as Covenant Life Church and stay awake at night worried that people will take their kids over there as it looks like a beautiful wholesome Church and the CLC community isn’t notifying anyone that it’s a menace to children at present. In my opinion, no one under 18 should go anywhere near the place.

    Thus I’m working on off-line strategies for warning residents near CLC that they might want to take the kids somewhere else for services this Christmas. I could use any prayers for these endeavors as “outing” a local Church is controversial no matter how much evidence there is that some of its members have criminal files/general evidence against them that look like demons’s resumes.



  63. Julie Anne – Well said. As suffering has that effect on an individual believer, maybe the entire church in this country needs to suffer in order to come back to reality.


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