As some of our loyal readers know, we changed formats at the beginning of 2010, and our archives have yet to be transferred over. Rest assured, we are working on it…
We have received a number of requests for some of our previous articles. Kris over at sgmsurvivors.com was especially interested in the one we wrote about C.J. Mahaney’s contributions to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which was posted in late May 2009. To honor her request, here is an updated version of what we originally posted.
PLEASE BE SURE TO READ AN IMPORTANT COMMENT I POSTED OVER AT SGM SURVIVORS ALMOST A WEEK AFTER PUBLISHING THIS ARTICLE.
Instead of making changes to “The Mahaney Money Machine” article, I have simply added my comment as an addendum. It includes vital information I failed to uncover during my initial research.
Lack of Balance has been our recent focus, and we conclude this aspect of spiritually abusive systems with a look at C.J. Mahaney, vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) and president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). SGM is a “family of churches” worldwide that claims to be both “reformed” and “charismatic”. There are approximately 73 SGM churches at the present time.
C.J. Mahaney has risen to power in this religious system despite his lack of education. He never graduated from college. Consequently, he did not attend seminary. Nevertheless, Mahaney sits at the helm of a ministry that is revered by some, particularly those who are “reformed”.
What’s fascinating about C.J. and SGM is their ability to change. “Change is here to stay” is a common refrain sung by Mahaney and the leadership in this family of churches, and it’s very true! Not only has the name of the organization changed a number of times, but the spiritual emphasis has been altered over the years. We have found Wikipedia to be an excellent resource that describes these changes. Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_Grace_Ministries
A cursory review of SGM reveals that this religious “movement” grew out of the charismatic renewal that took place in the 1970s, primarily under the leadership of Larry Tomczak, a Catholic Charismatic. According to the Wikipedia article, Larry had been asked to take a young C.J. Mahaney under his wing and help him “grow in the faith.” Mahaney had been a drug user who publicly admits that he was an illicit drug addict. It appears that C.J. experienced a radical transformation when he became a Christian.
The Gathering of Believers (now Covenant Life Church) in Gaithersburg, Maryland was formally established in 1982 according to the Wikipedia article on SGM; however, the Wikipedia article for Covenant Life Church states that it was established in 1977, so we’re not really sure… People of Destiny (PDI) was the outreach ministry which began planting churches. Both Tomczak and Mahaney withdrew from the Charismatic Catholic crowd shortly before establishing the church that would come to be known as Covenant Life Church.
Toward the latter part of the 1990s, PDI became increasingly Calvinistic in its theology. In 1998 Tomczak parted ways with Mahaney amid much conflict. We doubt many have full knowledge of what actually caused a rift between the co-founders of People of Destiny International. Maybe one day the truth will be told.
In 2002 PDI changed its name to “Sovereign Grace Ministries”. This “family of churches” continues to operate under that ministry name, and gradually a network of churches has been established either through church planting or by adoption. A turning point for SGM occurred when C.J. Mahaney, Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church (CLC), turned over the reins to Joshua Harris. Joshua, who was homeschooled, hails from Oregon. He relocated to the east coast when he was 23 and moved in with the Mahaney family so he could be mentored by C.J. He lived with them for approximately one year. During that time his first book I Kissed Dating Goodbye was published.
When Joshua Harris assumed the position of Senior Pastor of CLC in 2004, C.J. Mahaney began an extensive campaign to advance SGM full-time. Since 2004, Mahaney has formed some important alliances with leaders of the reformed movement. Now C.J. shares the stage at various conferences with John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and other Calvinists.
How did this “success story” happen? As far as we can determine, C.J. Mahaney was not well known until the release of his book Humility: True Greatness in 2005 and the re-release of Living the Cross Centered Life in 2006. Mahaney seems to have become an overnight success, although it was at least 20 years in the making.
How did C.J. Mahaney become so popular among reformed Christians? We believe C.J.’s secret to success is that he has friends in high places. Here’s what we speculate… We believe his recognition among the “Reformed Big Dogs” began when he befriended Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, in Washington, D.C. (a church not far from Gaithersburg where CLC is located). C.J. interviewed Mark Dever for 9Marks (a Mark Dever ministry) a couple years ago, and they established during that recorded conversation that they have known each other for 10 years. We believe that conversation took place in 2008. Ten years prior to that time would be have been 1998 — the year Mahaney and Tomczak parted ways. Hmmm……..
Mark Dever is directly connected with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) where he serves as a trustee. Again, mere speculation on our part, but we believe Mark introduced C.J. to Al Mohler fairly early in the Mahaney/Dever friendship because we have discovered that C.J. began making contributions to Southern Seminary in 2002 at the Leaders Associate level (annual gifts of $5,000 to $9,999). Both C.J. and Covenant Life Church (CLC) gave at the Leaders Associate level in 2003. From 2004 to 2007, C.J. gave at the Distinguished Associate level (annual gifts over $10,000), while CLC gave at the Leaders Associate level in 2004, 2005, and 2006. It appears that CLC did not make a contribution in 2007; however, as “Sidney” over at SGM Survivors was quick to point out, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Gaithersburg, Maryland shows up under the heading “Businesses, Denominations and Foundations” for having given at the Distinguished Associate level (annual gifts of $10,000 or more) in 2007. Let’s see… does SBTS classify SGM as a denomination? No way! Everyone knows they are a “family of churches”. Of course, SGM is not a foundation. Well, all that’s left is “business”. Yep, SGM is a business…
Back to the SBTS Roll Call. C.J. also contributed at the Distinguished Associate level (annual gifts over $10,000) in 2007. We haven’t bothered to check contributions for subsequent years. All of this information can be obtained from the SBTS Roll Call by following this link:
http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/magazine/2008Spring.pdf (use the same e-mail address but change the year accordingly going back to 2003 to verify the above information). Remember that the Roll Call included in the Spring edition of the SBTS magazine is for the previous year. For example, the 2007 Roll Call is published in the 2008 SBTS magazine. The information is stored in a PDF file, so allow a few seconds for it to be retrieved.
In addition to the annual gift levels, the SBTS Roll Call includes the “Lifetime Cumulative Gift Levels”. On the 2005 Roll Call, C.J. Mahaney was listed as a “Patron Member” (cumulative gifts of $25,000 to $49,999). Check out page 45 at this link: http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/magazine/2006Spring.pdf
Incredibly, on the 2006 Roll Call, Mahaney has quickly risen to the level of “President’s Council” (cumulative gifts of $100,000 or more). Check out page 43 at this link: http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/magazine/2007Spring.pdf
That’s quite commendable to go from being a Patron Member to a member of the President’s Council in JUST ONE YEAR! In order to accomplish this feat, C.J. had to contribute a MINIMUM of $50,001.00 in 2006.
Until the cumulative gift levels for the SBTS Roll Call are increased beyond the $100,000 mark, C.J. Mahaney will always be listed under “President’s Council”. In 2007 he gave at the Distinguished Associate level (annual gifts of over $10,000), so we know that C.J. has given a MIMIMUM of $110,000 to Southern Seminary by year end 2007. Here’s the link: http://www.sbts.edu/media/publications/magazine/2008Spring.pdf (C.J. is listed on page 36 for the annual gift and on page 43 for the “President’s Council”.)
How did he do it? Here’s our theory. Books can be BIG BUSINESS with the right endorsements! C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness is copyrighted in 2005 and includes this endorsement:
“This is the right book from the right man at the right time.” R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
When Mahaney’s book Living the Cross Centered Life was published in 2006, Al Mohler wrote the forward. Dr. Mohler’s endorsement begins as follows: “The book you now hold in your hands is nothing less than a manifesto for turning your world upside down . . .”
By following the money trail, we believe we have discovered the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. When a rather obscure charismatic (C.J. Mahaney) receives a glowing endorsement from a well-respected Baptist leader (Al Mohler), the results can be extremely profitable for both Mahaney and Southern Seminary!
Why would reformed leaders like Al Mohler, President of SBTS, endorse C.J. Mahaney who is not a Southern Baptist and who arguably is not a theologian? We believe one of the secrets is that Mahaney’s ministry has led the way in AUTHORITARIANISM for at least THREE DECADES. Could it be that reformed leaders are willing to endorse C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries in exchange for learning how to rule their flocks by implementing SGM’s church polity?
Here’s where the lack of balance in Sovereign Grace Ministries comes into play. We have done extensive research on SGM by following two blogs that are speaking out against this “family of churches”. They are www.sgmsurvivors.com and www.sgmrefuge.com
We have read alarming testimonies written by current and former SGM members, and we have concluded that the pastors in this “family of churches” rule with an iron fist. Patriarchy is preached and practiced in these churches, and the members are extremely fearful. We have never seen such heavy-handed control exercised in a church setting. As we have been following the New Calvinists, it appears they want to implement SGM “management” techniques in their own congregations. We dare you to read a few entries on either of these anti-SGM blogs. You will be SHOCKED just as we were. We are praying fervently that the truth about SGM will be revealed to the entire world because our brothers and sisters in Christ are being victimized in this spiritually abusive system.
Another reason we believe high profile Christian leaders are attracted to C.J. Mahaney and thereby SGM is because they use technology extensively in marketing their ministry. The internet presence of those associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries is absolutely ASTOUNDING! Just search “Sovereign Grace Ministries” and you will see how effectively they have utilized the internet. Not only does C.J. Mahaney have his own blog, but pastors maintain personal blogs which are linked to their church web sites.
Books, CDs, and conferences also play a HUGE role in the promotion of SGM. For those of you who may not realize it, conferences are EXTREMELY LUCRATIVE!!! Check out the cost of a ticket to one of SGM’s big events, and remember that the ticket price does not include food and lodging. Just who is pocketing all that cash?
It’s been fascinating to observe Christian conferences going mainstream in recent years. Together for the Gospel (T4G) has become popular among pastor types. In 2006, four men (the reason for the “4″ in T4G) joined forces and planned a conference in Louisville primarily for pastors. Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan (a PCA pastor), and C.J. Mahaney hold these conferences bi-annually. SGM alternates with T4G and holds its own pastors’ conference every other year.
In case you haven’t noticed, the number of Christian conferences has been increasing dramatically. The secret’s out among Christian leaders that conferences are a great way to make some fast cash! And they are a fantastic way to sell books and resources developed by the speakers. T4G has quite a spread at each conference, and the Fab Four have brilliantly put together a compilation of what was covered at the previous conference in book form to sell to conference attendees.
These Christian conferences are being held in select venues for different target audiences (pastors, youth, young adults, women, etc). Many of the conferences are being used to promote CBMW’s agenda of “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”. The MAHANEY MONEY MACHINE is rolling along, and these reformed leaders have jumped on board!!!
C.J. Mahaney is a member of the Gospel Coalition and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (both associations of reformed leaders) in addition to his involvement with CBMW, and we are in disbelief that none of C.J.’s colleagues are willing to speak out against the blatant abuses that are taking place within Sovereign Grace Ministries. When the truth about SGM is FINALLY revealed, it is highly probable that C.J. Mahaney will take some high profile reformed leaders down with him. God is watching!!!
Remember, this post was first published in May 2009. Since that time, C.J. Mahaney’s prominence among the Reformed Big Dawgs continues to increase as evidenced by the invitation for him to speak at the 2010 SBC Pastors’ Conference. If you decide to attend this conference, please ask yourself the following question:
Why have C.J. Mahaney and Covenant Life Church (SGM’s flagship church) contributed so much money to Al Mohler’s seminary since they are not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention?
For those of you who are not familiar with C.J. Mahaney, check out this YouTube video which features C.J. sharing his personal testimony.
Here’s an extremely important “Correction” to this post, which was first published as Comment #115 at SGM Survivors http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/?p=1455&cp=3#comments
February 10th, 2010 at 2:14 pm
Just so no one gets confused, I am the one who investigated and wrote this article about contributions to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary by C.J. Mahaney, CLC, and SGM, which was first posted at The Wartburg Watch in May 2009 and then re-posted last week. Here’s the link:
Kris is not to be blamed in any way for the information provided here. She is simply sharing what I have discovered with her readers.
If you have a problem with it, then I recommend that you to take it up with me.
Rest assured that the financial information is 100% accurate because I printed out the SBTS Roll Call from 2002 through 2007 and have stored them in a notebook (just in case this information ever mysteriously disappears from the internet). I have not been able to access the Roll Call for 2008 or 2009, although I have tried.
Sidney alerted me to the fact that Sovereign Grace Ministries has also given to SBTS. When I researched this information last May, I was only looking for contributions from C.J. Mahaney and Covenant Life Church. Silly me… SGM gave to SBTS too! Now I have to go back and amend my post at TWW.
Let’s cut to the chase and look strictly at “Lifetime Cumulative Gift Levels” as of year end 2007.
The Roll Call 2007 lists the following contributors and their cumulative contributions:
PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL (Cumulative gifts of $100,000 or more)
Businesses, Denominations and Foundations
Sovereign Grace Ministries
SUSTAINING MEMBER (Cumulative gifts of $15,000 to $24,999)
Covenant Life Church
It’s noteworthy to mention that PDI gave to SBTS in 2002 at the Leader’s Associate level ($5,000 to $9,999). BTW, that was the same year that Sovereign Grace Ministries came into existence.
If you want to see for yourself, go to this link:
Mahaney and SGM are listed on page 43, and CLC is on page 44.
Just follow the money trail…
And finally, here’s a comment I posted here at TWW that confirms my theory regarding how the Mohler/Mahaney friendship came into existence. Wish I had seen Ligon Duncan’s comment on the T4G blog BEFORE I wrote the “Mahaney Money Machine” article. Oh well…
Fri, Feb 12 10:10 p.m.
Just as we theorized, Mark Dever IS the one who introduced C.J. Mahaney to Al Mohler. See Ligon Duncan’s comment below on the T4G blog at this link:
“T4G is a biennial conference that grew out of a set of (now Gospel friendships. Mark Dever, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney and I had all been friends for a number of years (Mark, Al and I have known one another since the 1980s, and Mark introduced Al and me to C.J.).”