Where I once believed people were there to be used, I started thinking of other people first. Josh McDowell
Dateline: Somewhere deep behind enemy lines, Dee and I are embedded with the Assyrian army.
One week ago C.J. Mahaney, President of Sovereign Grace Ministries, stepped down from his ‘bully’ pulpit to take a leave of absence amid turmoil in his “family of churches”. There have been quite a few developments in that short time frame, and they have distracted us from keeping the main thing the main thing, which we define as discovering God’s truth.
It is rare that your humble blog queens can be described as ‘gullible’ and ‘easily deceived’, but we are willing to admit our own human frailties to you, our dear readers. To put it bluntly, we have been hoodwinked! (Feel free to substitute any of the synonyms listed at the end of this post.)
Please accept our sincerest apologizes for falling down on the job and playing into the hands of some scheming ‘master’ minds. FYI — the single quotation marks are significant. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
What tipped us off that we have all been played? Did anyone find it odd that Mahaney announced at CLC last Sunday evening that he would be at the SGM Pastors Conference in November? Here’s what inquiring minds want to know – how did he know that he would be there after stepping down for an indefinite period of time?
We also knew we had been duped after the one-two punch delivered by Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan. The scheme was confirmed when Duncan made his pronouncement on the Reformation 21 website. Obviously, the ‘Fab Four’ of ‘T4G’ (Together for the Gospel) are going to stick together no matter what, and The Gospel Coalition has its own agenda. However, we were ‘surprised’ to discover that the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals appears to be in on it, too. After all, Duncan used the blog linked to their website to issue his statement from on “high”.
Let’s begin unraveling this carefully crafted scheme by Mohler, Mahaney and Company. First, Mahaney sends out correspondence to the SGM pastors on July 2, informing them that he plans to step down for a time. Then he posts the same information on the Sovereign Grace Ministries website on July 6 for all to read.
Pope Mohler Issues An Edict
Just two days later (on July 8 ) the Louisville Courier picks up the story and reports on the controversy with this headline – ‘Serious’ charges vs popular pastor, author Mahaney. Does anyone else find it rather ‘odd’ that a Louisville newspaper was reporting on a ministry based in far away Maryland? Why was the Mahaney debacle newsworthy in Kentucky of all places? And calling Mahaney a ‘popular’ pastor is highly questionable. Popular with whom? We sincerely doubt Christians outside Calvinsta circles have ever heard of him. Here is the article for those who may have missed it.
Did you notice that the first word in the headline is in single quotation marks? Why would this journalist find it necessary to put the word ‘serious’ in quotes? Even stranger was the fact that the article contained a hyperlink to an ‘obscure’ blog called The Wartburg Watch. Hmmm….
Just who is Peter Smith, the religion reporter at the Louisville-Courier who believed this story to be ‘newsworthy’? It certainly appears that he and Mohler have a symbiotic relationship because Smith reports on every move the Southern Seminary president makes and Mohler, the “culture warrior” craves media attention. We highly doubt Smith knows anything about our ‘obscure’ blog, which begs the question – was the July 8th newspaper article entirely prewritten by ‘certain’ individuals or was Smith ‘allowed’ to collaborate?
Why would we even question Peter Smith’s integrity as a journalist? Here’s why. Shortly after he reported on the Mahaney debacle, Smith wrote a follow-up piece entitled: “Mohler backs Mahaney, dismisses accusations of abusive leadership”.
Early in the article, Smith quotes Mohler as follows:
"I always have had only the highest estimation of C.J. Mahaney as a man and a minister," Mohler said in an interview — his first public comments on the situation involving Mahaney, one of his fellow leaders in the Reformed, neo-Calvinist movement. "That continues absolutely unchanged. There is nothing in this current situation which would leave me to have even the slightest pause of confidence in him."
But Mohler has already drawn his own conclusions.
He based that on hundreds of pages leaked to the Internet last week, detailing correspondence between Mahaney, his main accuser and former colleague, Brent Detwiler, and other Sovereign Grace leaders.
"There is nothing disqualifying in terms of anything that is disclosed in this," said Mohler, who regularly speaks on programs along with Mahaney. "It’s just evidence we knew all along, that C.J. is human but a deeply committed Christian and a visionary Christian leader."
Again, why is the Louisville rag the only newspaper in the country (as far as we can tell) reporting on this story?
After revealing details of the conflict within SGM, Smith writes:
“Mohler said he saw no reason for Mahaney to take a leave from other leadership positions…
"I assume he would retain every position in leadership," Mohler said. "I expect he should be very quickly returned to leadership of Sovereign Grace."
Mohler contended that Detwiler has "an obvious vendetta" against Mahaney and attributed the document dump on the Internet to him.”
If Mohler can so callously judge Brent Detwiler, we seriously doubt he has read through the 600 pages of documentation posted on the internet that bring serious charges against Mahaney. Notice that we do not put the word serious in single quotation marks as Smith did.
Smith goes on to explain:
“The Sovereign Grace network is separate from the Southern Baptist Convention, the affiliate of Southern Seminary, but Mohler praised Mahaney’s group as "one of the most vital movements of church planting and evangelism and church development in this generation…"
Mohler said he knew this practice has had online critics for years.
"Basically there are people who are very uncomfortable with the strong kind of spiritual direction that comes through the Sovereign Grace Ministries," Mohler said. "It’s very hard to criticize it on biblical terms, as you’ll see on most of those Web sites. It basically comes down to the criticism, ‘I don’t like that.’"
So ‘Pope Mohler’ doesn’t like criticism… And with this pronouncement, Mohler has just marginalized any blogger who would dare criticize Sovereign Grace Ministries. Funny thing, Mohler sure knows how to dish it out himself.
Cardinal Duncan Mimicks the Pope
As soon as Ligon Duncan, who hails from the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), weighed in with a statement that mimicked Pope Mohler’s, our suspicions were confirmed. It was no coincidence that these two T4G leaders came out swinging for their pal CJ on the very same day.
Here are some of Duncan’s choice words, which you can find here.
“I would then encourage you to ignore the assaults of wounded people on attack websites and blogs, and that you discount the opinings of those who have no real knowledge of these matters or relation to SGM or authority to comment upon them, and that you refrain from assuming that you (or they) are in a position to render judgment on these things.”
We believe the propaganda put out by Mohler and Duncan was a coordinated effort to: (1) define the issue as merely a theological dispute between Mahaney and a former colleague (2) dilute the testimonies of the hundreds if not thousands of SGM victims and (3) chastise and marginalize anyone who would dare criticize Mahaney’s ministry (i.e. bloggers).
Even though Peter Smith ‘appears’ to be in Al Mohler’s back pocket, there is no question that he got one thing right about SGM by confirming – “The movement also emphasizes church discipline and male authority.” That’s what Mohler absolutely LOVES about Mahaney and SGM!!!
Is this information coming from Smith or Mohler? If it’s coming from Mohler, then the church is in BIG trouble because it shows the harshness that is about to be unleashed in reformed Baptist circles. They are dividing the church into two classes – the priest and everybody else. Perhaps it’s time to pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and head for the hills. Mohler’s minions will be doing most of the dirty work. After all, a high percentage of Southern Baptist seminary grads identify themselves as “Calvinistic”.
Synonyms for ‘hoodwinked’: bamboozled, tricked, fooled, screwed, deceived, ripped off, duped, conned, scammed, cheated, swindled, suckered (and other descriptive words too crude to mention in this forum).
Source: Urban Dictionary
Dee’s favorite: played like a bad violin
Lydia’s Corner: 2 Samuel 15:23-16:23 John 18:25-19:22 Psalm 119:113-128 Proverbs 16:10-11