Monday, November 19, 2012

C.J. Mahaney's Philosophy on Friends: Don't Bite the Hand that Feeds You

"For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. ..."1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 ESV

It's been over a month since Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), C.J. Mahaney and others were named in a lawsuit for mishandling of sex abuse cases, etc.  I've been following this story for over 5 years because the spiritual abuse tactics and how they handled sex abuse cases in the church resembled what I experienced at my former church (the same church/pastor who sued me and 4 others for defamation for $500,000).  Reading this post, we will discover another pattern used by these types of pastors.  It's an important pattern to note.  

Some may recall that last year, C.J. Mahaney stepped down from his position as president, taking a leave of absence to do some soul searching on accusations brought before him.  Some of these accusations stemmed from a 600-page document written by Brent Detwiler which was released on the internet.  Instead of C.J.  remaining at his home church, Covenant Life Church (CLC), to deal with his issues and putting himself around his church's elders for accountability, he went to his BFF's (best friends forever) church, Mark Dever at Capitol Hill Baptist to hide  worship.  Those who have been involved with SGM have stated that no other pastor or leader would have been allowed to leave a SGM church while being under scrutiny, but the pattern we see in these kinds of churches is that the leaders don't have to go by the same set of rules that they enforce on other pastors/leaders.  JA conclusion:  C.J. Mahaney thinks he is special and gets a free pass to do as he pleases without regard to the rules he has set in place for those beneath him.  

One other notable aspect of C.J. is his many close buddies.  Immediately after C.J. publicly announced that he was going to be taking a leave of absence, a number of his celebrity pastor BFFs came to his defense publicly:  Al Mohler (this article is really good, btw), Ligon Duncan, Ray Ortlund, etc.  

Many bloggers, including yours truly, have been watching and waiting for C.J.'s celebrity friends to issue some sort of public statement since the lawsuit went public.

What is the response from C.J.'s friends?  zilch, nothing, squat, nada!!  

Blog queens, Deb and Dee from The Wartburg Watch have been keeping track of the number of days  gone by without a response and have it posted on their blog front and center here:  

It really makes you wonder why are these celebrity pastors silent?  

It looks like CJ's buddies don't have a problem with this lawsuit as evidenced by this:

The 2013 National Conference of the Gospel Coalition lists C.J. Mahaney as one of the speakers.  Take special note of who else is speaking:  C.J.'s good friends!!!  Here are just a few:

"These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage."Jude 1:16 ESV

Ok, so why would these guys want to share a platform with someone who has so much controversy?  Quite a few SGM churches are leaving the group because of all the controversy.  What about those folks?  Are their arguments valid?  The stories we have read about abuse cover-ups are shocking.  Do C.J.'s buddies not care?  Are they not concerned about the spiritual abuse and sexual abuse cover-ups that have been made public?  Why are they willing to overlook it?  My brain demands, WHY????????????

And then I noticed C.J.'s Twitter account.  A lot of celebrity pastors are taking advantage of social media, like Twitter, to connect with people who follow them.  Check this out - - - as of the time of this screen shot, C.J. has over 23,510 followers.  Presumably most of his followers are people who want to hear what he has to say and probably a good many of them have a lot of respect for him.  That's quite a platform of followers, isn't it, when can you say something and have 23,510 people read your words in an instant?  Whoa!

I am following him because I want to know what he's saying to his wide audience.  Well, I've been getting an "earfull".

Check out C.J.'s recent tweets:

"For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people."
Romans 16:18 NIV

"I will not show partiality to any man or use flattery toward any person. For I do not know how to flatter, else my Maker would soon take me away."Job 32:21-22 ESV

Those are seemingly nice tweets, right?  But what do you notice about these tweets?  Notice the people connected with them?  Are you seeing what I'm seeing?  He's giving shoutouts to his friends - people he rubs shoulders with at conferences and people he endorses on book covers.  There's a big concentration of Al Mohler shout-outs - probably because SGM recently moved their headquarters to be near Mohler's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  This is an excellent article discussing Mohler's alliance with Mahaney.  Of course CJ is giving accolades to Mohler and endorsing his new book, Conviction to Lead.

Could this be why Al Mohler won't speak out against his good friend - - -  why Carson and DeYoung and Packer won't speak out?

Are you familiar with the expression:  "don't bite the hand that feeds you?"  That comes to mind as I read these tweets.  It would be pretty uncomfortable to be a close friend of CJ's and then speak out publicly against him when he is publicly endorsing you to literally thousands.  It sure seems that C.J. is flattering his friends into silence and they are too weak to stand up against it.  

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12 ESV


  1. I'm not a tweeter or twitterer, but what I noticed about those tweets was that every one of them quoted someone else, or was a direct link to something else. Does the man not have a creative voice of his own? How boring would that be to follow him?

    1. Twitter is sort of weird. I use it to notify followers of my new posts and also I tweet articles that are of interest - not necessarily those I agree with, just things that make one think. So maybe I am not too creative either. But the connection C.J. has with his buddies combined with the fact that it may benefit them financially (if people buy their books) and the fact that all of them have been silent intrigued me.

    2. I agree, it intrigues me too.

  2. BTW - How's your weather in WA? It's nasty here in Portland. It's the kind of day where I really wish we had a wood burning fire place! I went out to the garage to get my rain boots. I found one crammed in the kid's outdoor toy bin. For some reason, there was dog food in it. The other rain boot is MIA.

    1. It's dark, overcast and pretty windy. No rain yet, though there's a possibility. Check out what greeted methis morning on my way to choir. I'm still not used to this.

    2. Kathi, Loved your rainy day dilemma with the rain boots. Hahaha

      Greetings from across the northern border. We've had your general pouring for days, off and on and more to come. We do our personal 'drain watch' in the neighborhood to keep the leaves cleared! Aren't we wonderful neighbors!! It has been rather warm so that's a bonus.

    3. As of 10 pm I still have not found that boot. I keep expecting to find a video of the dog walking around with a boot on his head.

      Wouldn't you know it though? The one day in the three years that I've owned those boots that I really want to use them and I can't find them. I guess I really do have webbed feet!

  3. Haha! Tumbleweed - hmmm...

    It's 3:20 here, but it looks closer to 5. I'm heading off to work and traffic should be fun.

    1. Portland/Beaverton traffic is ridiculous and I get reminded of that fact each time I visit. Poor you!!! I'll pull out the violins just for you, Kathi.

  4. Many ministries seem to have a hidden covenant of sorts to not 'speak ill' of other ministries. On the surface, you could argue this prevents fighting & accusations of 'tithe stealers'.

    But in retrospect, what you end up seeing is nobody standing up for truth. So you retain your friendships or acquaintances but at what cost? The very rocks crying out?

    1. Steve - maybe that's one of the classes offered at the Creepy Spiritual Abuse School, because it seems to be a common theme.

  5. I'm disappointed in D.A. Carson. He's a serious scholar and should know better than to hang around such riff-raff.

    Mohler's behavior doesn't surprise me in the least considering this:

    1. You're right, CJ's in it deep with Mohler. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future between SBTS and SGM.

      I don't know if you took a look at the speakers at the Gospel Coalition I posted above, but wow - those are all big-time names. What's up with them?

      John MacArthur shared a podium with him at the Resolved conference. He's not a member of the Gospel Coalition, but he calls out Driscoll and it seems I remember that he has called out Piper. I do know that he asked Piper to also join him in calling out Driscoll. So why do they ignore C.J.? It's so puzzling.

    2. MacArthur has called out Driscoll for all the perverted and heretical stuff he's put out, but not for cult-like behavior and abuse of power.

      MacArthur doesn't talk much about the abuses of the IFB movement either. In fact he is a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of American. If he won't speak out against the IFB movement, then why Mahaney?

    3. Well, that makes sense, NIcholas. And that also explains why they treated me the way they did when I was trying to tell them about the abuse by my former pastor. They kept turning it around to "what is the sin in your life?" trying to convince me that I should spend my time doing "wifely' stuff rather than blogging. I don't remember seeing in scripture: wives must not blog. Hmm

  6. Concerning Kevin DeYoung, he is a "good friend" of Vision Forum cult leader Doug Phillips:

    1. Nicholas - I did a quick double-check because the site you mentioned Doug pastoring in Michigan and I was pretty sure that Vision Forum Doug Philips is in Texas. It looks like there are two Doug Phillips. In fact, here's an article where he clarifies that his friend is notthe Vision Forum Doug Phillips. I thought that was kind of funny - so at least he doesn't want to be connected to that Doug Phillips - lol.

    2. Thanks Julie. I'm glad DeYoung's not a supporter of Vision Forum, but supporting Mahaney is not much better.

    3. You are absolutely right, Nicholas. He's not. Line up the victims from both Phillips and SGM and you won't find much difference. Mahaney and Phillips are probably very close in beliefs regarding patriarchy, too.

  7. I do not understand these men at all. The Bible they preach from they surely do not put its words into practice.

    1. Tom - - I'm working on a related post which will show you they have the head knowledge regarding these important issues, but when the elephant is standing right smack in front of them, they are blinded. It is crazy. I just had a comment removed from the Gospel Coalition site where I challenged them.

      First off, I'm a woman, secondly, I exposed the hypocrisy that so many have seen. Thankfully, I took a screen shot after the comment was posted and will include it in the post. I have a couple mom jobs to do first and then will finish it up.

  8. Blinded? Do you realize that you just allowed someone to call you Julie, but because this someone is a person who agrees with you, you did not take their head off the way you have with others who did not type out your full name?

    We are all blinded when we allow any issue to become bigger than our command to walk humbly with our God...and walking humbly means to acknowledge that we all make mistakes. Some mistakes are sins of omission, some are sins of commission. I urge you to go back to basics and think about why you or anyone else needs saving.

    Why is it so surprising that men who try to shepherd churches and preach the gospel are prone to fall? Do you not realize that there is a real and dangerous enemy of our souls? Rail against him and his minions, fall on your face in gratitude for your own salvation and please put your intellect, energies and spiritual gifts to use to proclaim the gospel, not to spread news about the failings of others.

    1. Regarding the "Julie" issue -I remember one time where I called someone on that - he and I had e-mailed privately a number of times before and I had shared with him that I go by Julie Anne. He acknowledged that at one point, yet chose to continue to call me "Julie" despite the fact that others even called him on it. I rarely correct others. People usually catch on quickly. Fred was a different case entirely. I don't have any regrets about that conversation. You'll have to remind me if there were others.

      You are right, we all are prone to failure. We are all saved by grace. Pastors and leaders are held to a higher standard - especially those who have a public platform. I get where you are coming from, but I hope you will try to hear where I am coming from, too. I think if these men in leadership positions received the kinds of e-mails that I get - from people who are so emotionally/spiritually battered - that they are having a difficult time getting back on their feet again - they might have a better understanding. The sad thing is that many pastors I have come in contact with having difficulty acknowledging that abuse is even a legitimate problem. I find that sad.

    2. I'm afraid that you are coming very close to McCarthyism on this blog. You are presuming to know the motives and inner thoughts of the pastors that you write about. I understand that you get some heart-breaking emails, but you cannot make the leap from "look how hurt these people are" to "SEE, it's the fault of THESE pastors, both high and not-so-high profile!". You have moved away from discernment into presumptuous judgment.

      The raw truth is that nobody can hurt or offend us as much as we have offended Almighty God, and to spend years and years shrilly maligning others is pure foolishness, ungodly, and dangerous. Having been misled and hurt by a false teacher and then by the grace of God being awakened to that fact should put a believer on the fast track to a vital, engaging, all-consuming desire to fellowship with God through Jesus Christ. We should be so busy thanking God for removing us from darkness that there is no time, nor inclination to analyze the nature of the particles of matter that blinded us and led us astray. Can we not all agree that any one of us could have been left to rot in that darkness and that we need to be humble about that?

      "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil" John 3:19

    3. I am considering your words. Thank you. I have some thoughts on your comment and other issues and will most likely put them in a new post. I have out-of-town guests coming, so it will probably be a few days before I could put that particular post up.

  9. Sad:

    What you wrote above is sad IMO.

  10. If no one minds me butting in, I have a few things to say in response to Sad above.

    One point you make that I agree with: It is entirely possible that Julie Anne is reading too much into these tweets by Mahaney, and into the silence by Mohler and others regarding the SGM lawsuit. Their may be no sinister "collusion" at work here, as she suggests. Still, I'm not willing to simply dismiss her hunch about this, for various reasons.

    Especially relevant is this point from a recent post at the Wartburg Watch (trusting that they don't mind the cut-n-paste):

    "The Gospel Coalition front pages Dinesh D'Souza's fall from grace due to an alleged affair and then remains defiantly quiet when one of their own is caught in the cross hairs of what appears to be a developing scandal of major proportions."

    Julie Anne and others are asking a valid question here. Why the silence regarding the lawsuit against SGM and the apparent support for Mahaney et al? Why do Mohler and other preachers seem so selective in their condemnation for those who have "fallen from grace"? Also, our hostess here has experienced hostile and abusive leadership -- I'm sure she knows some of the signs of when pastors and preachers have gone wrong. I'm more than willing to hear her out on this.

    As for your other points: Sad, I don't know whether you've actually suffered spiritual abuse. I haven't. But Julie Anne has; so have Dee and Deb at TWW. Those who haven't been through that kind of suffering need to tread carefully when trying to lecture those who have. I know it's not my place to tell Julie Anne how to feel about her experience, or how to handle it. Why do you think it's your place to do so? Who are we to tell her that she 'ought' to feel so overwhelmingly grateful for her salvation, to the exclusion of all else?

    She is seeking justice and pointing out red flags in leaders' behavior. I don't see how that can be considered "shrilly maligning", as you put it. And at any rate, this is Julie Anne's blog. She can use it for whatever purpose she chooses. We have no right demanding that she do anything else with it.

    OK, rant over for now. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Sad included.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Serving - wait - is your day over? Did you celebrate Thanksgiving in Japan? I have a friend from Laos and yesterday he told me he was on his way to pick up a case of pigeons for Thanksgiving!!! Wow!

      I really do appreciate your post. A dear friend e-mailed me privately about this post and I've been stewing on it (in addition to reading Sad's comments). Since it still feels unsettled to me, I think it's important to discuss it further. It will be interesting to see what others think.

      I think why this subject hits so close to my heart is knowing there were pastors who knew our pastor's abusive ways, but they remained silent. This is probably one of the most troubling things to me. I see the same parallels with the abuses at Sovereign Grace Ministries and Calvary Chapel.

      To me, if you know of abuse, how can you remain silent about it? Now keep in mind, I had abusive childhood and abusive church in my background, so my opinion is obviously skewed, but the thought of overlooking abuse and continuing life as normal does not compute for me. Being proactive is a choice, but being non-active is also a choice.

    2. Thanks, Julie Anne. I'm glad you found my message helpful.

      Thursday did indeed come early in Japan -- it ended here just as yours was beginning. I'm from Canada, though, and both there and here, Thursday was just another day. ; ) Canada's Thanksgiving is in early October... I celebrated it with family then.

      I hope your holiday was wonderful.

  11. Hi Sad, In response to your comments above, I would counter with the fact that spiritual abuse is a dysfunction in the church today. Not recognizing that it exists, that much harm is done by church leaders to congregants in all too many places, is being uninformed about what is happening to so many in the church today. To ignore what is occurring is to provide support for darkness to hide. It is important for leaders who run unchecked and without accountability to be challenged, not venerated.

    A definition of spiritual abuse is:
    "Spiritual abuse involves using one’s spiritual authority inappropriately and thereby violating the sacred trust of a spiritual shepherd.

    The misuse of ecclesiastical power to control and manipulate congregants, ultimately results in damage."

    This comment is based on my doctoral research of spiritual abuse and recovery.

    You can find more information about this topic on my website:

    All the best to Everyone as you celebrate Thanksgiving in America!


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