As the Sovereign Grace Ministries World Turns

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Earlier this week, I mentioned  a conversation I had at SharperIron.org regarding Albert Mohler and an article he wrote.  The conversation diverted to C.J. Mahaney and his connection with Mark Dever (founder of 9Marks).

Here is my comment challenging Dever’s involvement with Mahaney when Mahaney took his leave of absence from his church, Covenant Life Church.  And yea, I think I was a little miffed. I copied it directly, typos and all (sorry!):

English: Photo of Mark Dever, the senior pasto...

English: Photo of Mark Dever, the senior pastor of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Italiano: Mark Dever, pastore della Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought of something else –  didn’t Dever put together this 9Marks thing? 9Marks may be the cool thing as far as bringing structure and order to church governance, but I’d like to bring something to your attention.  I believe Dever talks out of both sides of his mouth.

I know those are some fighting words and you guys are probably squirming in your seats because I’m a woman challenging. Hang on, though. Tell me this.  Why was C.J. Mahaney allowed to take refuge at Dever’s church while he went on his leave of absence?  CJ was being challenged by SGM leadership about his pride and heavy authority, etc.  It was supposed to be a time of reflection.  The normal policy at SGM if a pastor was under question, he would be to remain at the church under SGM leadership.  CJ would never have allowed any of his pastors to leave SGM while taking a leave of absence.  Why did CJ get to bend his rules?  Furthermore, why did Dever allow him to do this?  Dever knew what was going on.

I’m sorry, but if someone is going to be a church leader and establish rules/guidelines for governance, then they better be adhering to polity themselves.  Even if SGM had different polity than 9Marks, Dever, as a church leader known for proper handling of discipline issues, should have known not to involve himself in his friend’s affairs.  Dever should have referred him back to the already established polity and church leaders at SGM.  Dever (along with Mohler) gave Mahaney a free pass.  This is ridiculous.  (And lest anyone not be familiar with the SGM lawsuit all while CJ Mahaney was at the helm, here it is.  Read at your own discretion.  Strong trigger alert for sex abuse issues.)

This kind of thing along with my first comment in this thread about Mohler’s hypocritical moral high ground is what people are seeing – hypocrisy in church leadership.  Someone needs to own up to it because they are making a mockery of Christ with this kind of behavior.

Todd responded to my comment:

Julie Anne, Your statements spawn a number of topics. Some of them can be interpreted charitably based on the information we know.

1) The nature of Mahaney’s attendance at CHBC and what discussion Dever had with him about it. The 9Marks comments deal specifically with church membership, not church attendance.

2) Whether Mahaney’s church recommended that he attend elsewhere during the crisis. This is a demonstration of how biblical eldership should occur. The elders of the church challenged Mahaney on the issues and forced him to take a leave of absence. It is possible/likely that they requested that he take time away from the congregation. In this event, Mahaney would have resolved the issue to the satisfaction of the congregation and he would be eligible for church membership elsewhere.

3) Whether Dever did refer Mahaney back to his own church. However, there is no indication that Mahaney’s sought to join Dever’s church. Mahaney visited the church of one of his good friends for a period of time. To my knowledge, Mahaney was not running away from issues at Covenant Life in opposition to the consensus of the elders and congregation. 9Marks does not advocate sending away visitors; it does tell churches to value membership and not allow people to just run away from unresolved issues. This is in regards to whether Dever was being hypocritical.

4) Whether Dever and or Mohler have personally challenged Mahaney over the issues at SGM.  It does seem very likely that they encouraged Mahaney to withdraw from the upcoming T4G.  http://t4g.org/cj-mahaney/   Because they have been friends for years, I would expect them to have some faith in him. All of us have friends that have been accused of wrongdoing and we have hoped and believed the best of them. That does not mean that Mahaney is innocent, but I can understand their loyalty.

In regards to the church membership issue, I think Dever has been consistent with the policies that he recommends. At the very least I think there is room for interpreation [sic] of the events to be in accorance  [sic] with the policies.

As to the lawsuit:

Obviously you are familiar with the joint statement released by Mohler, Dever, and Duncan.  I can pretty fairly ascertain your view of it.

https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/23/mohler-dever-and-duncan-issue-statement-in-support-of-c-j-mahaney/

I do refer you to Tim Challies’ blog. I think he clearly expresses my thoughts and prayers in this matter.

http://www.challies.com/articles/thinking-biblically-about-cj-mahaney-an…

C.J. Mahaney

C.J. Mahaney (Photo credit: james.thompson)

I forwarded the above exchange to Brent Detwiler and was pleased to find an e-mail this morning with his response.  He gave me permission to post it. There are many people who want to give Mahaney a free pass.  His behavior doesn’t warrant a free pass.  Brent says it like it is.  His comments are bolded and interspersed with Todd’s original comment:

1) The nature of Mahaney’s attendance at CHBC and what discussion Dever had with him about it. The 9Marks comments deal specifically with church membership, not church attendance.

Fact:  C.J. was received at CHBC as though an incarnation of Charles Spurgeon.  He was publicly commended and defended as a godly example.  He also preached at CHBC during his time there. 

2) Whether Mahaney’s church recommended that he attend elsewhere during the crisis. This is a demonstration of how biblical eldership should occur. The elders of the church challenged Mahaney on the issues and forced him to take a leave of absence. It is possible/likely that they requested that he take time away from the congregation. In this event, Mahaney would have resolved the issue to the satisfaction of the congregation and he would be eligible for church membership elsewhere.

Fact:  The CLC elders did not “force him to take a leave of absence” and they did not request “he take time away from the congregation.”  That felt it was best for C.J. to stay at CLC during his leave of absence.  C.J. never asked for their counsel in the matter.  He finalized his decision to leave without ever talking to them.  The 2,500 adult members at CLC were horrified by his hypocrisy. 

3) Whether Dever did refer Mahaney back to his own church. However, there is no indication that Mahaney’s sought to join Dever’s church. Mahaney visited the church of one of his good friends for a period of time. To my knowledge, Mahaney was not running away from issues at Covenant Life in opposition to the consensus of the elders and congregation. 9Marks does not advocate sending away visitors; it does tell churches to value membership and not allow people to just run away from unresolved issues. This is in regards to whether Dever was being hypocritical.

Fact:  It is irrelevant whether C.J. joined CHBC.  He claimed Dever would be his pastor/counselor during the leave of absence.  C.J. was running away from a long list of offenses against him.  The church and the pastors asked him to return to answer questions about the charges I was bringing.  They also had their own charges.  He refused and has never returned to ask forgiveness for his blatant hypocrisy.  As a result, thousands of people were disillusioned by his example.  CLC left SGM over the abusive leadership culture model by C.J.

4) Whether Dever and or Mohler have personally challenged Mahaney over the issues at SGM.  It does seem very likely that they encouraged Mahaney to withdraw from the upcoming T4G.  http://t4g.org/cj-mahaney/   Because they have been friends for years, I would expect them to have some faith in him. All of us have friends that have been accused of wrongdoing and we have hoped and believed the best of them. That does not mean that Mahaney is innocent, but I can understand their loyalty.

Fact:  I have no knowledge of Dever or Mohler ever challenging C.J. for the issues of lying, deceit, lording, and hypocrisy.  They have only defended him.  Furthermore, Dever and Mohler “loyalty” is grounded in their ignorance.  The evidence against C.J. is overwhelming.  They have no excuse for endorsing him.  That is not loyal, that is enabling.  It is a partial judgment contrary to the testimony of hundreds.  They have treated him with favoritism

In regards to the church membership issue, I think Dever has been consistent with the policies that he recommends. At the very least I think there is room for interpretation of the events to be in accordance with the policies.

See “C.J.’s Flight from Covenant Life Church” 

As to the lawsuit:

Obviously you are familiar with the joint statement released by Mohler, Dever, and Duncan.  I can pretty fairly ascertain your view of it.

https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/05/23/mohler-dever-and-duncan-iss…

See “C.J. Mahaney Withdraws from T4G & Founders Remove Statement of Support” 

I do refer you to Tim Challies’ blog. I think he clearly expresses my thoughts and prayers in this matter.

http://www.challies.com/articles/thinking-biblically-about-cj-mahaney-an

See “Tim Challies on Thinking Biblically about C.J. Mahaney & SGM” 

Brent Detwiler has posted a new article:  SGM Council of Elders Commends C.J. Mahaney & Condemns Brent Detwiler

It is quite long and detailed but has important information.  I’ve posted a few points that stood out to me (my emphasis is in boldface):

“It is one thing when SGM leaders cover up their sins.  It is another thing when they cover up their crimes.”
and:

The Most Troubling Phrase of All 

The Council of Elders claims I’ve accused their leaders without due process.  This is the most deceitful and disturbing comment of all.  It is pure spin and contrary to all the facts.  These leaders know I’ve repeatedly asked C.J. Mahaney and those accused to defend themselves. 

SGM has not been denied due process.  The truth be told, they have fled, loathed, and despised due process.  Due process means they have to provide answers to hard questions.  Due process means they have to be open and honest. Due process means they have to refute evidence.  Due process means objective judges are present to adjudicate.  SGM fears due process more than anything in this world! 

In this act of great hypocrisy, the Council of Elders condemns me for slander without presenting evidence or allowing any defense.  This is a brazen denial of due process and an egregious violation of the polity they proudly espouse, but don’t follow, in their Book of Church Order.  See Rules of Discipline, pp. 55-74. 

The following paragraph struck me in light of the Mohler/Dever/Duncan’s statement of support for Mahaney which was posted, allowed over 100 comments, removed, altered, removed again – – all without any common courtesy to let people know.   It seemed to be a concerted effort with both statements coming out within a day or so.  These guys are prominent Christian leaders and they are behaving like this?

C.J. Mahaney, Mark Prater who is the Executive Director for SGM, and others were behind the effort to rush through the approval at the inaugural meeting on May 23-25 in order to coincide with the release of supportive statements by Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever from Together for the Gospel on May 23 and by Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor from The Gospel Coalition on May 24.  It was all part of a carefully planned and orchestrated public relations push.  It backfired.

SSB is like Motel 6.  I’ll keep the light on this case.

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16 comments on “As the Sovereign Grace Ministries World Turns

  1. The revisionist spin of Mahaney’s supporters is astounding. It only lends more credibility to every allegation and accusation against him and his ministry.

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  2. I have to admit, this guy on SharperIron raised a good point:

    Julie, honestly, it is difficult to take some of the things being said against Mahaney seriously when statements are made such as:

    Quote:
    Fact: C.J. was received at CHBC as though an incarnation of Charles Spurgeon.
    Could you please prove this “fact” for me? Can you provide documentation of this “fact”? Unless you can, this is not a “fact,” this is an opinion.
    Quote:
    Fact:…The 2,500 adult members at CLC were horrified by his hypocrisy.
    How it is known that 2,500 members were horrified by his hypocrisy? Were they all interviewed? Surveyed?

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  3. Well. Ok, perhaps more documentation is needed on how Mahaney was received at CHBC. As far as CLC is concerned, they did abandon the SGM ship. So, I think it likely that a few folks lost confidence in Mahaney’s leadership.

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  4. I find it both interesting and disturbing how the evidence is weighed. It’s viewed as “opinion” where they need “fact”…even with the documentation and hypocrisy. Makes me wonder…what else do they need to see to believe?

    1. Did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor? How do they know? Did they actually see it? Do they need an admission by the Japanese to show that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor? Do they need a confession from Emperor Hirohito today where he admits it?

    2. What about the Holocaust? Were 6 million Jews actually killed? How can you say they were killed? Did the Nazi’s admit they killed 6 million Jews? Do they need to sit across the table from Adolf Hitler and say that he ordered “The Final Solution?”

    3. Did Richard Nixon authorize the break in into the Democratic National Committee on June 17, 1972? How do we know? Yes there are White House tapes but they could have been altered or misinterpreted. John Dean could have just had an agenda and personal hatred against Nixon and exaggerate the claims? How do we absolutely know Nixon orchestrated the cover up? Did Richard Nixon sign a statement saying, “I Richard Nixon ordered the coverup of the Watergate break in. I admit it. I’m guilty.”

    I could use other historical examples but you get my point.

    Julie Anne this type of thinking is what drives Mormonism. Its the reason why Mormons still look up to Joseph Smith as prophet despite legal paperwork in Vermont (?) showing a court conviction for fraud. Its why they blow off the fact that Smith ordered the destruction of the Navoo Expositior newspaper in Illinois. He was just silencing criticism…it wasn’t that bad! Its the reason why Mormons overlook Joseph Smith’s use and consumption of alcohol despite teaching that Mormons should not consume alcohol. I suppose if Joseph Smith wrote a book called “Humility” and spoke at T4G many in the Neo-Cal crowd would line up and buy tickets.

    The biggest scandal on evangelicalism today is this….. There is no discernment by Christians or discernment is done against selected evidence. In other words its called cognitive dissonance. You can’t admit that CJ Mahaney is a fraud because everything else…9 Marks, Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, Ligon Duncan, TGC, etc… all come crashing down, if you admit that Mahaney is a fraud. Its like Mormonism….in the LDS faith everything rises or falls on whether Joseph Smith is a prophet or not. If he is not…then the entire LDS faith becomes a House of Cards. Well…CJ Mahaney is the Neo-Cal equivalent to Joseph Smith. You can’t admit that he’s a fraud or that he openly teaching hypocrisy…because if you do it all comes crashing down. Mark Dever, 9 Marks, T4G, SGM, etc…

    That is the mistake that many Neo-Cals have made by pinning their faith to Mahaney…they have to live in dential otherwise they will go down with the ship. Meanwhile they are handing an Ace to the Richard Dawkins, Hemet Mehtas (Friendly Atheist Blogger) of the world by allowing them to write, teach, and boldly proclaim that Christianity is a fraud. Why atheists haven’t jumped all over this is beyond me. Maybe I should sent off a few emails to them to explore this topic.

    Okay back to lurking….I read this and just had to jump in.

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  5. ^^^ Yep. What Eagle said.

    The reality is, if your life, livelihood, or entire social circle revolve around the Reformed-Industrial Complex, you can perform the most astounding mental gymnastics to try to defend it…I know because I lived it :P…

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  6. With all due respect, I don’t think guy on SharperIron raised a good point, JA. I think he’s being a whiny enabler of those who are still conspiring to cover up sexual abuse and allegations of sexual abuse.

    C.J. Mahaney’s defenders can nit-pick about what’s said about him on blogs but the bottom line is that Mahaney himself has not come out of the hole he’s hiding in to publicly deny conspiring to cover up allegations of sexual abuse. His defense consists of sending toadies out on blogs to confuse people on his behalf and trying to get off on legal technicalities pertaining to the lawsuit that include the immoral argument that the First Amendment gives a Pastor like himself the right to ignore civil laws.

    The legal documents proving what I’ve said are all here if the blogger in question wants material he can take seriously:

    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/class-action-lawsuit/

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  7. Janna said:

    With all due respect, I don’t think guy on SharperIron raised a good point, JA.

    I’m only referring to Brent’s use of the word “fact.” In a legal sense, if one says something is factual and it is proven to be false, one could be sued for defamation if there is malice, too.

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  8. Thanks for the clarification, Julie Anne. I see your point and might agree except that the blogger in question seems to have selectively quoted Brent Detwiler thereby distorting what he said.

    For example I think there’s a big difference between the excerpt the blogger posted and what Brent Detwiler really said in the example below.

    Selective Blogger Excerpt

    “C.J. was received at CHBC as though an incarnation of Charles Spurgeon”

    Full Quote

    “Fact: C.J. was received at CHBC as though an incarnation of Charles Spurgeon. He was publicly commended and defended as a godly example. He also preached at CHBC during his time there.”

    In either case, it’s hard for me to imagine anyone successfully making a libel case out of either comment so I think the blogger’s strategy constitutes the logical fallacy of nit-picking to avoid dealing with the real issue, but I’ll let others make up their minds about the issue.

    I am the first person to admit that I admire Brent Detwiler’s advocacy work on behalf of abuse victims to the point that I have a serious bias in this case. 🙂

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  9. I guess I’ll be a hypocrite and nit-pick back about the meaning of slander/libel but also acknowledge that one of Brent’s Detwiler’s statements would be hard to call a fact.

    Libel/slander, in the legal sense, does not merely consist of saying something untrue. It has to be an false statement that defames someone. For example, if I write an article saying that Julie Anne was wearing blue shoes yesterday and she was really wearing brown shoes, that’s probably not grounds for a lawsuit if it’s an honest mistake that doesn’t disparage anyone’s character.

    To my knowledge, C.J. Mahaney does not consider being compared to Charles Spurgeon an insult so Brent Detwiler’s comment to that affect does not defame him.

    Granted, there’s no way to prove whether 2500 people were appalled by C.J. Mahaney’s hypocrisy or not so perhaps Brent should not have used the word fact when describing that scenario.

    However, I still think you’d have a hard time making a libel claim out of such a broad statement, made about a pubic figure, pertaining to issues that affect the public.AND you generally need to prove damages to file a suit.

    I doubt Brent Detwiler’s comment in question damaged C.J. Mahaney’s reputation anymore than it’s already been damaged.

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  10. I am the first person to admit that I admire Brent Detwiler’s advocacy work on behalf of abuse victims to the point that I have a serious bias in this case.

    That’s okay, Janna, I understand completely. There is so much staring in front of people in this case it baffles me why they have to nitpick at something this trivial. Don’t throw out the baby!

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  11. Mark Dever is no Leonard Ravenhill:

    “The difference between Leonard Ravenhill and most preachers today is he was willing to speak that way so as to expose things for what they truly are, but we are not. Ministers today do not have such courage. Most want to address sin and compromise with kid gloves. Very few are willing to speak so plainly. Many want to be viewed as positive, non-critical, and accepting of everyone, so they are careful to phrase their language so as to not offend.
    Not Leonard. He was loyal to the truth regardless of what people thought and was not concerned about political correctness in the church. He spoke plainly, in the manner the Apostle Paul says true ministers are to speak: “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth, we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). He would not be silent, even if his words were offensive. He was like Isaiah in this regard: “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).
    Ravenhill spoke clearly, honestly, plainly, soberly, and with conviction.”

    -In Light of Eternity, The Life of Leonard Ravenhill

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