TWW first posted this article on April 9, 2009., a few weeks after we started blogging. In light of current events, we find our thoughts even more relevant today. We have made no changes to the post, so you will see our fledging efforts. We have placed it here for your review for a few days.
So, C.J Mahaney, the self-professed “Head Apostle” of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) has decided to teach the rest of us egotistical Christians how to be humble. What is so alarming about his book is that many churches are buying hundreds of copies and distributing them to their pastoral staff, church leaders, and congregants. Why alarming? Are we being a bit over the top? Absolutely not and we intend to prove it.
A brief history is in order. C.J. barely survived high school and briefly attended college, but dropped out because he became a drug addict (he publicly admits this). He was saved during the Jesus Movement in the summer of 1972 and became a charismatic Catholic. C.J. obviously learned little from the abusive shepherding movement of the 1970s, as his book Humility clearly indicates. Please refer to a previous blog post on topic. He then morphed his ministry into People of Destiny, along with Larry Tomczak who is no longer associated with C.J. Many problems ensued during this permutation as well. Remember the famous quote by Edmund Burke, eighteenth century British statesman and philosopher? He wisely said, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” History is DEFINITELY repeating itself in C.J. Mahaney’s ministry.
C.J. then got “Reformed”. By this we mean HYPER-REFORMED. See our blog post on this topic. We are coining a new term for this Calvinistic crowd. From this point forward they will be identified as “Calvinistas” on our blog. As the “young, restless, and reformed” Calvinistas attempt to dominate Christendom, we will keep you informed of developments stemming from their divisiveness.
Back to history . . . C.J. and Larry Tomczak started a church several decades ago, Larry left the ministry when it became “reformed”, and Sovereign Grace Ministries slowly formed. Today this movement has approximately 75 declared churches. What we are discovering is that there is a growing number of churches that follow the teachings of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries without declaring their affiliation. These churches include Southern Baptist, Presbyterian (PCA), and other denominations.
Our next statement really goes without saying. Any ministry that spawns three survivor websites should be suspect. These three blogs (there are actually more) clearly elucidate abuses that purportedly occurred within SGM churches. The websites include sgmrefuge.com, sgmsurvivors.com, and ikissedsgmgoodbye. blogspot.com. Please visit these websites for an eye-opening experience. They will most likely cause you to pack up the babies and head to the hinterlands.
With C.J.’s participation in these questionable ministries, one would think he would have developed some degree of humility. Incredibly, his prime example of humility in his book by the same title is a broken down car in his driveway. He admits he was embarrassed that he did not know how to fix it. C.J. confesses that he pretended to try to fix it because … ”neighbors might be watching, and we want to at least give the appearance that we have some mechanical knowledge” (p.26). Doesn’t that strike you as a bit narcissistic? Does he really think his neighbors give two hoots about his automotive expertise? C.J. – believe it or not – most of the world couldn’t care less about what you are doing!
Incredibly, C.J.’s own words condemn him. On page 34 he says, “Pride also undermines unity and can ultimately divide a church. Show me a church where this is division, where there is quarreling, and I’ll show you a church where there is pride.” C.J.’s history of church leadership is characterized by division and quarreling. Read the blogs we recommended, especially SGMSurvivors.com!
He goes on to say that Jesus teaches us that, in order to be great, we must become a servant to others. He claims that that this means nothing less than becoming a slave of everyone. (p.43) He then goes on to give examples of what this kind of slavery looks like in the life of SGM. His examples of slavery run the gamut from parking cars at church to moving across the country to be involved in a “stronger” (read SGM) church (pp 43-46). What baffles us most is that, according to the various survivors’ sites, SGM has little, if any, interest in missions, which is the hallmark of evangelical churches. Instead, SGM declares itself to be a mission as they seek to teach other churches how to do Christianity “the right way”.
From what we can tell, “radical slavery” in C.J.’s life looks like this – writing books, speaking at conferences, living in a really nice house, and letting everyone know whom he rubs elbows with, namely Al Mohler, John Piper, and the rest of the Calvinistas. C.J. is a namedropper par excellence! Read his blog as well as his books and listen to him speak. Humility doesn’t exactly ooze out.
Finally, it’s mind-boggling that C.J. received no formal theological training; yet, he is the “head apostle” of Sovereign Grace Ministries. In this chief role, he is fixated on indwelling sin. We are amazed by his apparent lack of understanding that God always loves, is always righteous, always merciful, etc. C.J. prefers to discuss what dirty rotten sinners we are and that we are objects of God’s wrath. Yes, we are objects of wrath but we are also objects of His love, mercy and kindness. His emphasis on sin is being terribly misused! You see, if you are sinful, you can’t criticize a problem in your church because your criticism is a direct result of your sinfulness. How convenient that SGM leaders have special grace to lead because their choices are God-directed and not subject to the vagaries of sin like their church members. This certainly seals the deal of an untouchable leadership.
One final matter is in order. On page 20, C.J. makes a point that God does not have physical eyes, quoting from John 4:24 that God is spirit. However, at one time in history, God took on human form and, as Jesus, did have physical eyes. He stills has physical eyes in His glorified body. C.J. spends so much time focusing on sin that he forgets that there is a God who so loved the world that He took on human form and dwelt among us. Jesus even enjoyed being with us while he walked among his creation. Where is the portrayal of a loving Savior in this man’s not so humble writings?
If C.J.’s book Humility is making the rounds at your church, ask your pastors why they are promoting it. If they become annoyed and tell you that your criticism is invalid, show them this post. Better yet, read the book for yourself and look for the fatal flaws. We have only highlighted a few. If your pastors become angry, you just might be in a church that is going down the troubling road of SGM wannabes.