The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. –Oscar Wilde
We have been asked why we follow Sovereign Grace Ministries since neither one of us (and we are rejoicing in this fact) have been members of SGM. According to them, this kerfuffle has nothing to do with us or any other Christian group for that matter. These people couldn’t be more wrong. We thank a regular commenter, Janna, for bringing this to our attention.
None other than Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the mother ship of the SBC, rushed to comment about CJ Mahaney stepping down from SGM for a period of “self-examination.” There is something very intriguing about the emphasis of his response.LINK
“Mohler added: "Any time you’re going to take on the role of leadership, you’re going to have critics."
Mohler also supported Sovereign Grace’s highly centralized leadership structure in its churches, with "very strong pastoral direction" and internal discipline. "It’s something clearly called for in the New Testament," he said.
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 why is the leading SBC Calvinista commenting on a denomination outside of his corner of the universe? I have a few questions that might lead some readers to wonder if there is something interesting in play here. However, I would also like to respond to one of Mohler’s statements first.
“No, Dr. Mohler, it is not hard for most people, who have a true Christian spirit, to criticize the “strong spiritual direction coming from SGM.” In fact, this sort of spiritual direction seems to be leading straight towards hell because of the poor treatment of families with children who have been molested. "
But, then again, the SBC leadership has been roundly criticized regarding their refusal to set up a pedophile database. They remove churches from the SBC that have women as pastors but glad hand churches which have coddled pedophiles in their midst. Guess this defines Mohler’s view of strong leadership. Now, onto the questions:
- Could it be that Mohler’s public statement to the newspaper is pay back for the generous contributions given to Mohler’s Presidential Fund by Mahaney?
- Why is the SGM leadership begging for contributions for it’s Pastor’s College but had no problem shelling out significant bank (over 100K) to Mohler’s fund.
- So, why is Mahaney handing over a lot of dough to SBTS?
- Why was Mahaney a featured speaker at the SBC Pastors Conference 2010?
- Why is Mahaney a regular speaker regular at SBTS?
- Why was Mahaney the featured speaker, along with Mark Driscoll, at the 20/20 conference at SBTS?
- Why has Mahaney been a featured speaker at Mark Dever’s Capital Hill Baptist Church?
- What the strong connection between SGM/Mahaney, T4G and SBTS?
CJ Mahaney counts Al Mohler amongst his closet of friends. He even called Al Mohler the “smartest man in the world.”
Mega Baptist pastors, like JD Greear, recommend CJ Mahaney’s books, including the Cross Centered Life. This book needs to be reassessed to see how this theology has been misapplied in the churches of SGM.
Keeping this unusual Mohler/Mahaney alliance in mind, the members of the SBC should watch carefully the unfolding events at SGM. The SBC has already been criticized for it poor response to the pedophile issue. Is the SBC ready to incorporate another entity with its own subset of problems, which have been well documented at sites such as SGM Survivors?
Once question remains: if this leadership is so Biblical, according to Mohler, then why did CJ need to step down and why is SGM in full blown apologetic mode?
Let’s consider some of the comments from Friday’s post, Confessions of an SGM Pastor, LINK which highlighted comments from Mark Mullery, the pastor of the SGM church in Fairfax. As you read this, remember, do you think that the SBC should incorporate SGM style leadership into the SBC?
Blogging is changing the face of church conflict.
“We are in a time when Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace Church here in Fairfax are being critiqued for the way pastors have led. As I mentioned earlier, there are several blogs that have focused on these issues.”
I think it is relevant that the blogs were mentioned. I believe that the current events at SGM would not have occurred without the pressure of the blogs. Blogging is changing the way that churches do business. Perhaps churches, aware that they are being observed, will begin to be a bit more “thoughtful” in their responses.
Warning people not to look at blogs will only draw attention to the blogs. The only people who will obey that command are those who are already dutiful in their total submission to the pastors. Everyone else will look. So engage the blogs, provide an alternative explanation or turn the other cheek. They are not going away.
The SBC needs to stop making “anti-blogging resolutions.” They are ineffective and will cause more attention to the blogs.
Sexual predators should not be treated differently because they are members of your church.
“Noel, a pen name, recounts the tragic story of the sexual assault of her young daughter, which occurred in 1998. Wallace, also a pen name, tells of having two children molested – the incidents coming to light in 1998 and 2007. In each of these cases the perpetrators were young men whose families were also part of our church.”
These pedophiles have broken the law and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No excuses. The church should not be involved in trying to convince a family not to prosecute the offender. Such an action could be considered coercion and could put the church in the offensive position of “supporting” the rapist.
How can anyone lose sight of a tiny child who has been molested?
“ Noel and Wallace are justified in critiquing the pastoral care they received through their trials and afflictions. Sadly, and it breaks my heart to tell you this, sadly in seeking to care for them, we became part of their trial.”
What is wrong with this picture? This inability to consider the pain of a small child’s molstation should disqualify someone from being a pastor. They have no business being the head of any organization for that matter.
Some pastors become self-centered and worry about their own sorry selves.
“These are complicated moments in the swirl of all the other things to think about, we lost sight of the simple fact that an innocent victim had been grievously sinned against and was in need of constant care.”
It is this response that I believe is the root of evil in the today’s church. Many pastors pretend they are protecting the church when, in reality, they are protecting themselves. SGM has lawyers and used them in the Larry Tomczak case if the Dettweiler documents are to be believed.
The “cover our tracks” mentality is often present in this circumstance. Deep down inside, I speculate that these guys know that they have not done what was right and good. What other “swirl of activity” would cause a grown man not to care about a small child who has been raped on his watch? Could it be that the patriarchs are really just scared little boys pretending to be something they ain’t?
Stop pretending that concealing a hideous sin in your church was the “instinctive" thing to do.”
“Our instincts were to keep the circle of those who knew about this small.”
Why? Who were they protecting? They certainly weren’t caring about the molested child, as they have confessed. So, they were either protecting themselves or the perpetrator. Neither one of those options is valid. In fact, the instinctive thing to do, for a real man, would be to beat up the guy who molested the child. That one is understandable. So, could these instincts be those those of a wuss who wants to protect himself at all costs? If so, these are bad instincts for a pastor.
What is the deal with Peacemakers? Does this group really train people when to use their stuff and when not to use their stuff?
“These were situations where the family of the victim and the family of the perpetrator were friends. There were pre-existing, close relationships. As they’re trying to sort these things through, when relational conflicts arose between the victim’s family and the perpetrator’s family, we unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution. This resulted, put them on an equal plane – get the log out of your eye, get the log out of your eye, go for the speck, go for the speck – this resulted in the victim’s family being corrected when they should have been gently cared for as sufferers.”
Could it be that this is a way to spread the blame to others? Man up, guys. (Peacemakers made us do it)!
Why would a pastor believe he is qualified to counsel a pedophile or victim of molestation?
“Our aversion to therapeutic thinking kept us from language and people and resources that would have helped these families and that would have helped us help these families.”
I saw this one in action myself. I know of some boys who were hideously molested by a pedophile and a pastor was “counseling” them. Nine months of Pastors College or a Masters of Divinity does not train pastors to be expert counselors. It is pure, unadulterated hubris to pretend that it does. Do these guys actually believe that God endows them with supernatural abilities in these circumstances?
Don’t blame me, I was ignorant?
“How in the world is somebody whose child has just been cruelly sexually abused gonna process that flawlessly? Of course, it’s gonna be raw. But instead of giving them the room to work things through, we corrected them, and they expressed themselves in ways that we deemed incorrect. I’m so sorry. We were proud. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We were ignorant.”
Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. In the same fashion, ignorance of the pain and suffering of a small child is no excuse for not showing compassion. Also, there is a subtle hint that the families were not processing this event "perfectly." From what I can tell, the only ones not processing the event correctly were the pastors.There is no excuse for ignorance in this circumstance and these pastors should resign.
Not showing compassion for a molested child and family is reduced to not “getting it?
“We’ve been accused of not getting it. Guilty as charged. We didn’t get it. I’m so sorry. (Long tearful pause)”
Once again, this understanding is so basic for most people that such a response shows an appalling lack of an emotional quotient, coupled with a profound inability to understand the Holy Spirit. In other words, these guys acted like cold fish. This alone should be grounds for disqualifying anyone from the pastorate..
How does one change a cold heart?
“We can’t agree with everything that’s written about us on the blogs, but we’ve tried to go to school on what we can agree with. We want our children to be safe. We want children who are hurt, victimized, and abused to be well cared for and their families as well. We’ve tried to learn from our mistakes. We’ve tried to learn from these experiences and to make substantive changes in response.”
It is the opinion of this blogger that any pastor, who was involved in making decisions in these situations, needs to resign from the pastorate and seek some other means of employment. Being sorry does not make up for a profound lack of an emotional quotient, which I believe, disqualifies them from the pastorate.
Finally, CJ Mahaney presided over this appalling mess and implemented the hyper-authoritarian style of leadership which appears to have found it's start from his long ago stint in the abusive shepherding movement. So here are my questions for Al Mohler and the SBC.
- Is this the type of leadership that Mohler is extolling?
- Is this the sort of pastor that he wants to align with the SBC?
- Is this the type of excellence in church leadership that Mohler desires for the SBC?
If this is Mohler’s vision of the leadership in the SBC, the average SBC members should be very, very scared.
On Wednesday, we will talk more about this “SGM ” that is being pushed by Al Mohler.
On a more inspiring note: Watch this video to see how a young man overcomes growing up on the streets of Korea.
Lydia's Corner: 1 Kings 7:1-5 Acts 7:30-50 Psalm 128:1-Proverbs 16:31-33