Mark Dever – C.J. Mahaney’s BFF

True friends stab you in the front.    Oscar Wilde


The Necklace courtesy of Hubble


If you have been following the Sovereign Grace Ministries debacle, you have likely heard that C.J. Mahaney, who recently stepped down as SGM’s president, is no longer attending the “dearest place on earth” – Covenant Life Church – where he pastored for 27 years. Instead, C.J. and his wife Carolyn are worshiping at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever presides as senior pastor.

Dee and I first began investigating Sovereign Grace Ministries in the Fall of 2008, and since that time I have been extremely curious about C.J. Mahaney’s relationship with Mark Dever, who earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University. It’s a small world after all because Mark and I were students at Duke during the same time period, although I am a year his senior. In fact, it’s such a small world that we lived fairly close together on East Campus. During the 1979-80 academic year,  Mark lived in Room 322 Pegram (an all guys dorm), and I lived in Room 210 Giles (an all girls dorm). If you were to visit Duke’s East Campus, which features Georgian, not Gothic, architecture, you would see just how close together the buildings are situated. In the tiny College Station post office, Mark was assigned Box 6184 and my address was Box 7186. There is a high probability that we crossed paths often on the quad, in the dining hall and library, at the campus post office, on the shuttle between East and West campus, etc., but I was never acquainted with Mark. I did have two guy friends of impeccable character who lived in his dorm. I even visited the church he attended – Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church – once but decided to attend Duke Chapel instead. It’s amazing what kind of information you can find in an old Duke student directory…

One of the reasons I have been so curious about the Dever/Mahaney friendship is because I have always theorized that Mark played a significant role in the doctrinal shift of PDI, which later became Sovereign Grace Ministries.  At long last, C.J. Mahaney confirmed how long he has been friends with his BFF Mark Dever in a February 27, 2011 message delivered at Capitol Hill Baptist Church entitled "Called, Loved and Kept".

Here is an excerpt from Mahaney's message:

“Prior to the meeting, Mark informed me that today – that 133 years ago this day – the inaugural meeting of this church took place on this property, and I began to reflect on your history, and as I reflected on your history I began to reflect on my history with your senior pastor and this church. I began to reflect on my 15-year history, for 15 years ago at the kind invitation of your senior pastor, I found my way to that entrance to meet with your senior pastor. I was eager to meet him; I had heard much about him. I was not only eager to meet him, I was eager to learn from him, but there is no way on that day I anticipated the gift of his friendship over these past 15 years Mark is a true friend, and he is a CLOSE friend. He is not only a true and close friend, he quickly became a mentor, and that has continued to this day as well. I have learned much from your senior pastor and often will refer to him as “O Captain, My Captain”. It’s an expression of my heartfelt gratefulness to him and an acknowledgment of my deference to his leadership.

I didn’t anticipate 15 years ago all that would take place in my life as I arrived on this site (in) my relationship with Mark, and I didn’t anticipate all I would experience in my relationship with you. Mark and you – this church – have influenced my life and influenced all of Sovereign Grace and I am indebted to you, and I just want to say thank you." (bring on the tears!)

I happen to know that it was Mark Dever who first sought out C.J. Mahaney. In a 9 Marks interview with Mahaney, Dever explains how he drove by Covenant Life Church years ago and decided to make the acquaintance of CJ. Unfortunately, Mahaney was tied up in a meeting, so I assume Dever left his card and/or a message that he had stopped by. I’m fairly sure Mark’s commentary was in an 9 Marks audio recording called Life and Ministry with Mark Dever (where the tables turn as C.J. Mahaney puts Mark Dever in the hot seat and interviews him). Unfortunately, the link no longer works. Hmmmm……..

It’s obvious that the interview existed on the 9 Marks website because there is a link to it at The Gospel Coalition website.

There was another 9 Marks interview between these close friends entitled “Building Healthy Churches with Mark Dever" and it, too, has disappeared from the 9 Marks website. Here is the link.

Once again, The Gospel Coalition featured this Dever/Mahaney interview, but that link no longer works.

Why are there missing audio files on the 9 Marks website? Has Mark Dever been taking lessons from Mark Driscoll on how to remove incriminating evidence? Why are these resources no longer available? It’s a conundrum…

Well, let’s get back to Mahaney/Dever friendship. Without looking back at the transcript, how long have these two men known each other?

Answer: 15 years (as of February 27, 2011), which Mahaney stated FOUR TIMES!!! In fact, he reflected on how long he and Dever had been friends in preparation for his message at Capitol Hill Baptist Church; therefore, there’s no mistaking how long they have been friends.

Now let’s take a look at Mahaney’s recent post on his “A View from the Cheap Seats” blog in which he explains his decision to worship at Dever’s church. Mahaney writes: (link)

“Many of you have kindly inquired about my leave of absence and how I will be spending my time during this season. Before I give you an update, I want to take this moment to thank each of you who have expressed your encouragement and your support in prayer.

Some of you have asked where I will be attending church during my leave. That’s a good question, as it’s not uncommon for pastors to take a leave in a church that is away from their home congregations, and this seems wise. During my leave of absence I will be attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever is the senior pastor. After seeking counsel about this decision, I’ve concluded that this is the best place for Carolyn and me to receive care and counsel, to examine my life and leadership, and to consider my future during this season of reflection. I want to learn all I can during this season, and I pray that this time will benefit not only me but Sovereign Grace as well.

Mark and I have a rich history of friendship. I met Mark thirteen years ago and since then we have become very close friends. Mark has been not only a unique friend but also a mentor to me. I want to continue to take advantage of our friendship and his mentoring as much as possible during this time, benefiting from Mark’s unique pastoral wisdom and his gift of leadership. I am deeply grateful for his kindness and this opportunity. Actually, other than my wife Carolyn and those with whom I have served closely in Sovereign Grace Ministries, no one has had more influence on my life in the last ten years than Mark.”

What??? “I met Mark thirteen years ago…” Mahaney spoke at Capitol Hill Baptist Church almost a half a year ago at which time he stated that he met Mark 15 years ago. Remember, he said it FOUR TIMES. Why the contradiction? Anyone care to speculate?

There is so much more I could share about the friendship between these two men, but I’ll spare you. There can be no doubt that Mark Dever has had a tremendous impact on C.J. Mahaney’s life, as evidenced by his choosing to worship at Capitol Hill during this extremely difficult “season”. And the folks at Dever’s church are accustomed to having Mahaney in their midst. CJ delivered another message at Capitol Hill Baptist in May 2008 entitled “Adoption”.

Mahaney’s message begins as follows:

“Please turn in your Bibles to Galatians chapter 4, and before I have this distinct privilege to address you from God’s Word, I want to address you as a church and communicate my gratefulness to God for this particular church. For all guests present today, it’ll be important for you to understand that the senior pastor of this church, Mark Dever, is a gift from God to me, and his friendship is a unique gift from God to me.

I lack the benefit of formal education, and so what I’ve done in order to compensate is I’ve created my own seminary, created my own seminary, I’m the president of my seminary, and I’m the only student in my seminary. I really like my seminary, and Mark is a part of the faculty of that seminary, and I have just benefited, you need to know, I don’t flatter, I have benefited immeasurably from this man, from his friendship, from his example, from his teaching, and from his instruction, and so I come with a deep gratefulness and a fresh gratefulness for his leadership at Together for the Gospel.

And I must make at least one brief comment about Together for the Gospel. If you aren’t aware of this conference, it just took place a few weeks ago in Louisville, Kentucky. It was attended by over 5,500 primarily pastors were in attendance. This conference is really the fruit of your senior pastor’s leadership, your senior pastor’s friendship with a number of individuals. He is the primary means of grace for in effect the creation and execution of this conference, and I believe that the fruit from this conference is, well, no less than massive.”

Who needs to go to seminary when you have a scholarly BFF like Mark Dever? Here’s my question. If Dever has had such a significant impact on Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries as C.J. claims, then is Dever in any way responsible for what has happened in this “family of churches”? Based on Mahaney’s testimony, Dever’s influence has been tremendous. Finally, should BFF Mark Dever be the one looking out for Mahaney’s soul? How can he possibly be objective?

Stay tuned as we explore our theory regarding why C.J. and Carolyn have made Capitol Hill Baptist Church their current place of worship. (Hint: T4G 2012). More on Wednesday…

Lydia's Corner:  1 Kings 18:1-46       Acts 11:1-30       Psalm 135:1-21       Proverbs 17:12-13


Mark Dever – C.J. Mahaney’s BFF — 208 Comments

  1. Ted

    Fascinating. Driscoll has been doing this for some time. Question: Do you know anything about the machete incident at Mars Hill? Driscoll claims a guy tried to hurt him with a machete during an evening service in 2006. I can’t find any newspaper archives on the incident which makes me a bit curious.

  2. Dee,

    I want to see the police report. Surely Driscoll’s church called in the authorities if it indeed happened.

    I have searched and searched for “evidence” of this machete incident to no avail. Did anyone besides Mark Driscoll witness this shocking event or was it a figment of his imagination?

  3. According to Driscoll, in his March 18, 2007 sermon, the “machete” incident happened the year before, which means it happened in 2006. From page 10 of the sermon transcript:

    “Sometimes, too, it becomes very real threats. We had a guy in the 5:00 service last year – I was talking about how you need Jesus to go to Heaven, and he pulls out a machete, tries to make a run at the stage to turn me into a shish kabob. Yeah. I mean that’s the down side of the job, right? You’re like, “Dude. You need Jesus, man.” Some people are really determined to make sure that Jesus is not lifted up and the God of the Bible is not proclaimed. And sometimes they bring weapons to church. That’s why we have security. We have security detail. We also have police, both plain clothes and in uniform.”


  4. I’ve heard Dever challenge Mahaney on their polity before. I cannot remember the exact instance, but I would probably put in in 2003-2004. Dever was arguing that congregationalism was a more biblical form of church government.

  5. I posted the following over at Survivors in May of last year, but it’s relevant to Scott’s comment above:

    I’m not sure if Dever and IX Marks wholeheartedly disagree with SGM polity, but I’d argue that the IX Marks crowd certainly understands that its own model is different from SGM’s. Take, for example, the latest book in Crossway Press’ IX Marks series, Mike McKinley’s *Church Planting is For Wimps*. In Appendix 1, McKinley uses his team’s original September 2004 memo to Dever and CHBC as an example of how to think through the church planting process. In Section 9C of that memo, “Congregational with plural eldership,” the first sentence starts, “We’re not planting a Sovereign Grace church…” I take this to mean that, at the very least, there is a matter-of-fact understanding of how SGM polity differs from their own. See

  6. Scott,

    Yes, I know that Mahaney disagrees with Dever regarding one of the 9 Marks, specifically “congregationalism”. He and Dever spoke at the first 9 Marks Conference that took place at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and it was at the beginning of his address that Mahaney took issue with congregationalism.

    Expository Faithfulness – C.J. Mahaney

  7. They might disagree on polity but I doubt seriously if their actual polity in practice is very different. When churches teach authority of the pastor/elders, the result is the same in practice. Even if they “elect” elders. I have seen this countless of times…there is no real choice so the pew sitters “elect” the ones put forth who have already been vetted by the leadership.

    So, saying there is congregational polity may not mean much in actual practice. You sort of have to be there to see how it really plays out.

    I will go a step further and say there does not seem to be any real elders there who are independent because CJ being there now seems to be ok with the church leadership. So, I must assume no elder at CHBC can see the hypocrisy and serious problems with bringing CJ in for this “season of reflection” as CJ completely ignores the polity and rules HE instituted at SGM?

    So, what do CHBC “elders” believe about the importance of the local church and discipline, now?

    I think this is going to cause future problems for all the them when it comes to their pet “church discipline” doctrine. They are setting up a caste system for church discipline. If you are high enough up the chain, it is perfectly “biblical” for you to go be disciplined by “good friends” at another church. Now, we know that Mohler, Dever, Duncan (the T4G people) support this caste system. In fact, Mohler made this clear in his statement to the Courier Journal about CJ’s leadership style.

    In a word: Their collective slip is showing.

  8. Scott/Ozymandias

    Please review what Lin said directly before this comment. Congregationalism is easily subverted by a hyper-authoritarian preacher. The most simple question is this. Does Mark Dever get what he wants, pretty much always? if the answer is yes, the deck is stacked and true congregationalism is not in play.

    I had one such pastor, head of a congregationally based Baptist church, say “In 28 years, the leaders have only disagreed with me twice.” Awesome move of the unity of the Spirit? I think not.

  9. Having been a member of CHBC for only two years, I can’t say exactly who has disagreed with Mark and who hasn’t. But here’s an example of Lin’s argument, where authoritarianism exists, then true congregationalism cannot.

    My first members meeting, they had a guy on the “care” list because he had been drinking publicly and getting smashed. His marriage was becoming affected by the circumstances, and also he was at risk of losing his job because he had shown up to work on more than one occassion intoxicated. Apparently, either his job or his wife told the church. They had him under “care” for some time, but the guy refused to repent of it and blamed everyone else for his drinking problem. Because of his unrepentant sin and his unwillingness to see that he needed to repent and turn from his ways, they excommunicated him. (which, I believe he was an alcoholic–and mind you, this marriage had lasted a year. They went through courtship as well. Had broken up because they had issues. And then got back toghether. From what I was told, they were counseled to go forward with marriage. See how that ended, huh… You dont know people and neither do the elders).

    When it came time to vote him out, they gave the congregation an opportunity to discuss the matter and ask questions. The fact that they were going to do this was brought up at the previous members meeting, and forewarned the congregation they may have to vote on this matter. So it wasn’t anything new. Some protested then as they did in the last meeting. During the last meeting where I was present, there were several congregants who had a hard time with the elders decision. Some of them a little impatient with the explanations of the elders and leadership. Mark and some of the other elders were getting a little testy about it and was like look, we’ve been trying to work with this guy, give him an opportunity to repent, etc… What you see is our final decision but not the work and effort we’ve put into counseling and ministering to him. This is what we believe best. Although the majority voted the guy out, when looking at the situation, they had already decided that he was a gonner. Now, I dont know what they would have done had the congregation decided NOT to vote him out. We cannot know that.

    But on many matters being voted on at times, whether it was the budget, spending, salaries, 9Marks, voting on elders–it seemed that what Lin said is true. These men were generally already vetted by the leadership. And because you have a culture of believe the best, trust your leaders implicitly and acknowledging their authority over you, trust me, there was hardly ever much dissent or rejection of such authority.

    There would usually be one or two people who would dissent, and a few people who would ask questions, but they always generally got their “yes”.

    I would agree with Dee and say that yes, I believe Mark pretty much gets what he wants, pretty much always. Not that the elders don’t meet and discuss issues with the church, but in the end, generally what they are going for is accomplished.

    On another note, regarding the same subject is this… I know that Mark and CHBC have their beliefs. But they will unite with other churches who don’t share the same exact beliefs. Mainly, they support churches they believe who preach the Gospel. Although, we know that to be subjective. For example, Mark partners with men like Ligon Duncan who believe in paedobaptism but Mark is a proponent of believers baptism, and since a child cannot confess he’s a sinner, and believes Christ died for his sins, Mark does not believe children should be baptized–but Ligon does.

    Mark has to be well-aware of CJ’s authoritarianism and the lack of what he would consider biblical polity. But when you look at this group of men, it’s not that their polity must be the same, worship style or even baptism beliefs…. it’s that they all believe that men are to rule over women and over the church. THAT is what unites them as well as Calvanism and Reformed beliefs. But the major thing–the rule of men.

    Mark can have CJ preach in his church and Mark might attend CLC–as well as some other members at CHBC. But you put a woman on that stage and see how many of them flee the buildilng and stop all relationship. But they dont care that this man has abused his membership and congregation for all these years.

    Makes you want to gag.

  10. If there is open nomination by the congregation, a committee elected by the congregation by an open ballot to screen the nominees and present multiple nominees for each position to the congregation, then the congregation is in charge. Otherwise the staff can control the whole process including the outcome and you have a subversive, subterranean authoritarian structure.

    One nominee per position makes the process suspicious. Selection of the nominating committee or of nominees by the leadership makes it clearly NOT true congregationalism.

  11. “…. it’s that they all believe that men are to rule over women and over the church. THAT is what unites them as well as Calvanism and Reformed beliefs. But the major thing–the rule of men.”

    Amen! This is the foundation of all of it. Mohler proved it in his quote for the Courier Journal about Mahaney’s problems at SGM. Duncan proved it, too. As did Dever with his actions. This is the glue that binds them all: Teaching authority over people.

    This is why “polity” structure means nothing. The belief that leadership is “specially anointed”, “God’s men”, etc, trumps any congregational polity. Most will be followers of men, anyway.

    I am convinced these men are the Nicolaitians spoken of in Revelation.

    BTW: I don’t think we have even heard the tip of the iceberg about “courtship” disasters. This is such a new teaching the fallout is just starting to come out. Another reason I have to distrust Harris with his legalism even though many think he shows signs of actually preaching the bible. How could he have been so unwise about “courtship” which is NOT taught in the NC scripture at all.

  12. The problems with most churches is “leadership”. When I read Paul’s letters to the churches, I do not see one word about any so called leadership. He speaks twice about apostles, prophets, teachers, etc, but he never calls them leaders. People have callings and giftings, but we are all on the same level. There is no hierarchy and no leaders who have any more authority nor any more say than anyone else. Everyone has an equal voice in the body of Christ. When I read about all of these church issues concerning leadership, it makes me sick.

    BTW – I was in PDI/SGM for about 10 years. My entire family left that cult in 1996. Never again. I warned my SGM friends about C J way back then, but no one would listen. (I was not a universalist back then. I only became a heretic about 6 yrs ago):-)

  13. At one point, C J Mahaney brought in a “new move of the Spirit” where people were “falling out in the Spirit”. This was suppose to be something that started at the Toronto Blessing from what I remember. Our church made fun of this stuff until C J said it was of God. Then everyone starts falling on the floor during the services. Then some time later (I cannot remember how long), C J says the move has taking it’s course and is now over and tells churches to cease all such activity!!!! So C J decides when and how the Holy Spirit is moving and when it stops!

    To quote John McEnroe “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!”

  14. Nothing But The Truth,

    I have heard about members of PDI being ‘slain in the spirit’ in the 1990s. You mentioned that you left Mahaney’s church in 1996. Did the move toward Reformed theology begin prior to your leaving?

    If we are to believe Mahaney’s first version of when he met Mark Dever – 15 years ago – that means they became friends around 1996. Still wondering why Mahaney wrote 13 years in his latest post.

  15. NLR,

    I appreciate your giving us an insider’s look into the discipline/excommunication process at CHBC. It certainly appears that members march lock step behind Dever for fear of being disciplined or excommunicated themselves.

  16. Arce–

    There aren’t multiple nominees for each position. Also, the congregation has “elected” the “committee” because they “elected” the elders. (insert smirk). They do encourage that if you know a man who exhibits elder qualities, to inform them because they may not know him well. Then they will start to pay attention to him and regard his behavior, how he serves, etc…


    You are right. It is the glue that binds them. I want to see the courtship movement another 10 years out, especially where CHBC is concerned. There are at least over 20 weddings in a summer/fall combined, for the most part. And the babies being born out of that, as well as the belief that you should just have as many kids as possible, or start your families early–people take that literally and at 6 months or so in marriage or within the first year, many have kids and rush to do it. I know that there are people who choose to do that–ON THEIR OWN VOLITION. But it is not common that newlyweds choose to have a child less than a year out. I’ve never really seen that as a trend before–not until now. The list for the upcoming marriages are long. Every week, just about, you hear of a new engagement. But the list for pregnancies double that. I understand valuing marriage and family–but it clearly is idolatry where they are concerned. So much to the point that it’s the main focus–especially where women are concerned. I’m so glad to be out of that environment and to have a much more healtheir and grounded view of it.

  17. Deb–

    Problem is, they don’t think fear of excommunication, fear of man or others is what motivates them to be agreeable. People in those types of churches want their pastor’s approval and everyone else around them. It’s like high school all over again. Hence, why you get a lot of sin-sniffing and people telling the personal issues of others to audiences that should never hear them.

  18. Dee, If I remember correctly, I was told about it stopping after we left. So it was still going on around 1996. My dates are approx. I also was told that 2 SGM churches left because they wanted to continue in this “move of the Spirit. So they split from SGM.

  19. NLR,

    Since you’re fairly new to TWW, you really need to read a post I wrote over two years ago that addresses the trend toward young marriages and lots of babies. We first learned of this trend almost three years ago.

    Why We Blog

    I’m convinced that it was “providential” that we discovered these trends so that we could alert our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  20. NLR, Many people have told me that Mohler has a lot of influence on Mahaney. But I happen to think these guys have a lot of influence on him, too.

    15 years ago, Mohler was not so focused on all this extra biblical stuff such as young marriage, having lots of children, etc. He has moved more and more into the dominionist/isolationist camp of Christianity.

    I could list many other things but I think you get the picture. These guys have influenced him. I think he is enamoured with what he thinks is their sole authority and influence over people. The way to do that is to “Gospelize” everything from age of marriage to how many children you have. A works salvation. People end up following your rules for Holiness instead of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without their leaders, they are rudderless.

    Btw: Mohler only has 2 children and an unmarried daughter who works for a senator in DC. So much for living out what he teaches others.

  21. One more thing about this “falling out in the Spirit” that was going on at SGM. It ONLY happened during the Sunday morning service and NEVER at the weekly home care group meetings. So then the Holy Spirit had a specific time and place each week for this new movement! NOT!

    But we all chose to blindly play follow the leader. Thank God He finally woke me up to my lack of discernment and lack of wisdom.

  22. NLR
    I know what is in many churches, which is why I said that it is sham congregationalism. What I suggested is the way true congregationalism works. Even most moderate/liberal churches don’t get all the way there!

    I would even prefer monthly congregational business meetings, where all committees report to the congregation (not the elders or deacons), and all decisions ORIGINATE in the open congregational business meeting. Then you can have an open nomination process for every position in the lay management of the church.

    Whether you all them elders or deacons, the role is service not leadership. The original deacons were seeing that widows were fed. A deacon ministry that is responsible for hospital visits, keeping contact with a short list of families per deacon, is a great thing for a church. Boss deacons are the spawn of the devil, as are boss elders and boss pastors.

  23. Arce,

    I want to understand you correctly. Are you advocating a pure democratic form of church polity rather than a republic form of church polity?

  24. Dever has said publicly, at least several times that I can think of, that he disagrees with SGM polity. He wrote a book on polity, and writes and speaks about how he believes churches should be run all the time. It is pretty obvious what he believes about the topic. Just because he’s not writing articles about SGM specifically, doesn’t mean he condones everything they practice. Recently he told the CHBC congregation that he has been pretty tough on CJ in reference to the recent happenings. I don’t care to go into specifics because it was said at a members’ meeting. But knowing Dever, and having watched interaction between these two men, I know he is not just patting CJ on the back. He is in a great position to influence SGM for the good right now. He knows more people there than just CJ, and I’m sure they hear from him regularly.

    Speaking of members meetings, I would disagree with NLR about the case of church discipline he has cited. I was there, too. I will not comment further because I believe what happens at a member meeting should stay at a member meeting. But please know that there is more than one view, from the seat in the congregation, about how all of that went down. Also, as for elder nomination, it most certainly is not always an “elders pick, congregation stamps approval” situation. Men have stepped down from nomination after congregants privately voiced concerns. Elder nominations are considered from any member and feedback is actively perused both before and after the nominations. I’ve had several such conversations with various elders. And they really do listen.

    As for the 15/13 discrepancy, perhaps they met 15 years ago but had a closer relationship after 13 years? Or perhaps the latter case was a mistake? I don’t really think there’s anything to read into there. Dever recently celebrated his 15 year anniversary at CHBC; perhaps that number was on both of their minds when CJ spoke?

  25. I am looking through my Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and cannot find “polity”? Can someone help me out?

  26. Don’t have much to add to the conversation, other than how many times I noticed the word “leadership” in the excerpts from Mahaney’s speaking.

    It’s funny how much one can readily discern from a written transcript from the past, but i get the distinct impression that every use of the word “leadership” is akin to flashing a shiny police badge or FBI ID.

    But, seems to me it’s more like Wayne’s World, when Wayne and Garth are at the Alice Cooper concert with their special shiny backstage passes hanging around their necks, and their silly & smug grins as they make their way through the crowds flashing their special badges of privilege to all on their way to the elite backstage.

    But maybe I’m the only one here who’s seen this silly movie.

  27. anon

    I beg to differ with you. The relationship between CJ and Dever is tied to both business and friendship. I don’t really care about what was said at member meetings. I have heard lots of things said at member meetings that were smoke and mirrors.

    You example of some nominated elder stepping down is not the issue. I am talking about the elder board and their relationship to the pastor. My guess is that they essentially rubber stamp his goal because they are cut from the same cloth.

  28. Deb–

    I’m off to read that post now.

    Someone else mentioned “dominionist” thought. I have read a lot about that on the No Longer Quivering sites as well. This whole have lots of children and godly marriages to influence politics and take over the world like Pinky and the Brain. You’d think these people watch stupid cartoons all day and get their strategy from that.


    Sure, let’s agree to disagree. But if you want to make a point and disagree, you cannot simply say well, I saw something different but I’m not going to say what it is because it was at a members meeting excuse. You can’t defend something and give no real defense.


    I second your comment that elders generally are cut from the same cloth and rubber stamp the general goals of the pastor in most churches. Most of these men, when I’ve talked to them personally, have their own abilities and preferences, but they generally are the same. They parrot much of the same lingo and suggestions–although some of them show more capacity to have compassion for others than some others do. But at the end of the day, you’re not going to have someone fighting for you, the little layperson, when your elders are all on one accord, for the most part.

  29. Arce–

    I heard you. I wasn’t disagreeing. I was just addin’ my two cents. Haha! We both agree!


    It’s funny, that falling out thing, when people would do it. I used to fake it so they would leave me the hell alone and stop pressing on my forehead and praying for me in tongues until I grew dizzy. so I’d just fall out and keep my eyes closed until they passed over, and then I’d peep at other people around me on the floor who were either peeping at me, or shaking in convulsions. I couldn’t understand what God was doing so secretly in us that he caused us to act like that. And why we needed to fall out to do it. They said he was doing spiritual surgery. Bahahahah! It’s all foolery now that I think of it. Man, I’m glad I can look back adn laugh. It was pitiful though–the things I believed to be God.


    It’s one thing to publicly state you disagree with SGM polity–which I am positive Mark disagrees with. Thing is, you continue to load down your bookstall with this man’s books, etc… and you fail to recognize in a relationshiop over 15 years serious ABUSE issues within his family of churches. Is Dever that cocooned and blind, and busy?? that he would never acknowledge or even know that his buddy’s churches have fostered a burgeoning recovering victims blog culture because of it? If this were politics, he’d be outted just by association and probably loose his job. It happens all the time. But because we are Together for the Gospel, I can ignore that people leave your congrevgation by the droves because of abuse, etc… and still promote you and call you friend. I think not.


    I have to pray constantly regarding those issues. One is that I dont believe I’m going to have children or get married–not at this point. I’ve just been through a lot. CHBC made the problem worse, made me hopeless, and not even sure these days that I want to marry a Christian. Seriously. I mean, I want to marry someone who believes in God, and I knkow that I want to marry someone with conviction, and someone who knows Christ. I guess you would say THAT is a Christian. But I dont want to marry their category of “christian”. I have dispared and have even contemplated marrying a non-christian. At this point, I’m not sure that I see the value in it.

    After hearing stories of abuse, neglect, control and paternalism, I can’t see why there is a benefit of marrying a Christian. On one hand, as I always say, I thank God he did nto allow me to marry someone there. I’d probably be divorced now. But on the other hand, it’s hard to watch people week after week get what you desire, but you know you won’t get it because of some jacked up reasons that Christians can’t realize is purely wrong.

    After so many years of “doing things God’s way” I’m angry with God at times–I do tell him so. Why has he allowed me to be deceived for so long. And I don’t see any relevant good that has come from waiting for courtship, practicing purity, and keeping myself away from all things impure except that I feel jacked up and abnormal and that sometimes I feel like rebelling and going to do whatever I want. Sometimes I’m too angry to even cry because I get so mad at God and I dont think he cares about my tears. AFterall, I’ve cried for over 10 years now about these issues and what has he done? Nothing. Again, God has to be Sovereign more than loving and so why would my tears even move him on my behalf?

    There are days where I don’t feel like he really cares about it at all. And even though I know I did all this for the wrong beliefs and even the wrong reasons, and that I was also sinful in my judgements and condemnation of others since I was living right and doing everything right–I now need the compassion that I didn’t offer others. I need the room to mess up and I’m scared because I don’t know how big that will be or what I will allow–BECAUSE I’M EFFING MAD! (yes, I am seeking out a counselor as we speak, hahahah!)

    But what I need is this: I need for God to acknowledge that regardless of how I did things wrong and that he didn’t require all of that of me, that I did it because I was taught, led and drilled into my head that that’s what God wanted. Cant’ God consider that and realize that all I wanted to do was to please him, even if I thought I could have done so by earning his pleasure? (that sounds messed up, doesn’t it? But there it is.)

    Where is God in all this? Does God care about what happened to me at CHBC and the ensuing damage? Is he going to fix my situation and allow me to move on into the life I desire now that I realize what is right? Will I have to always feel like I must wrestle for his blessing? Sometimes I despair. Sometimes I give up on God. Sometimes I just don’t understand him. Sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted over a quarter of my life worrying about this sh*t and I can’t get any of it back. Where do I even go from here?

  30. I believe in soul freedom, soul competency and the priesthood of each and every believer. Radical democracy of the priests in a congregation allows the best decision making and the Holy Spirit guides the decision making process. The more people involved in the process, up to a reasonable size, the better the decision making, as shown by repeated studies of the quality of decisions by individuals and groups.

    If we are all saved by the grace of God, and have committed to the body which is the church, then the more participation the better, because it gives every member ownership of the process and its results.

  31. NLR, please do not despair. I left the whole church scene about 3 yrs ago – COMPLETELY. I am getting stronger each and every day after walking away from that Whore of Babylon church system. Please be patient. It takes a long time to heal and get deprogrammed from all of the crap. But my family is doing much better now and the freedom we feel is wonderful. No more bondage to any churches.

    FWIW – I am praying for you. I know your pain and have many of the same struggles at times. You are very brave to tell us these hurts and doubts. Thank you very much for your openness and honesty.

  32. Dee/Deb:

    What still bothers me is this: All of the focus in CJs letter was about care for him. All the other focus has been about how Mark and CHBC will care for him and his family.

    As anon posted, he believes that Dever will be the best person at this time to help CJ. But it’s all about fixing CJ’s messed up polity.

    After hearing all the stories and knowing that there are more about unusual pedophilia, sexual abuse, spousal abuse, spiritual abuse in his church–these things STILL remain elusive and not the focal point of any areas of discipline and admonishment to CJ with how his churches have systematically failed to report abuse, report pedophiles, etc…

    Considering the SBC’s stance on these issues, I dont think that Dever would handle it much different than the SBC would. Considering Mohler’s response and Ligon Duncan’s, I’m just waiting to see if Mark will respond differently. Why do I get the feeling that he won’t?

    Is Mark going to be a John MacArthur and dig into CJs hips about these issues, or is he going to be CJ himself, and coddle CJ about the real issues here! I think these issues stem from a broken polity but also from a broken view of leadership, and from authoritarian and paternalistic views regarding gender and the church. Although he and Mark differ on poilty, as said before, they agree on gender relations and how that is displayed in the church and home.

    Those issues along with the polity, I believe, have led to the demise of others who have suffered abuse from this organzation and the criminals that have been well-hidden and protected in it. So to me, it appears that Mark can only effectively address half the issue which is not sufficient as it’s complex and requires acknowledging more than just polity, but authoritarianism and male gender only leadership.

    Am I missing something?

  33. NBTT–

    What is it? 🙂 Thanks also for praying for me. I just wish that like you, I had a family with me, and not having to go through this practically alone. I’m close with my family but they don’t live near me and they wouldn’t even begin to understand the half of it. I realize that issues like this can make you feel isolated even from those closest to you because it’s such a personal and unique experience that you never can satisfy people’s need for an answer or an explanation that suits them. You know what you know and you’ve experienced it, and to some, it may look like you didn’t see it the right way, or your explanation doesn’t make it appear to be as bad as it really is. But onceyou’re on the inside and you see a lot of the verbal and non-verbal, and you understand words mean a helluva lot more than on teh surface, you understand that there is a complex world in the background continuously playing like a bad virus running its programs on your computer without your knowledge.

    Please continue to pray for me. I need it. I prayed for you as well last night, NBTT because I feel you and where you are coming from.

  34. I also have been trying to figure out why God allows what He does. I try not to think about it too much, for it can be very troubling. But I have also seen great miracles in my life. I had a BIG sin for about 30 years that I could not get rid of no matter how much I prayed, got counseling, repented, went to seminars on the issue, etc etc. Then one day – and I do mean one day – God ripped that sin out of my life by the roots – never to return. It was 100% God and zero me. I had given up and given in to my sin. I though for sure I would continue in this sin till the day I died. But God had other plans WITHOUT my cooperation!

    So there are some GOOD things about God that I do not understand also!

  35. NBTT–

    Also, thing is, when I get mad with God like that, I think he’s going to be like humans are and say well, now that you’re mad at me and you’re talking to me like that, now I really have a reason to punish you. So either way, I’m screwed. I doubt God, I tell Him, and then I get mad–which equals me getting punished and him withholding good from me. But I do things “his way” and I still get good withheld from me. In my case, why should I even bother?

    Thing is, my head and heart don’t agree. In my head, I know that God is loving and that he has withheld much from me to protect me. I can’t understand the lengthy process of it all. You tell me to be patient and you are correct. But I’m 33 going on 34 and I feel like patience has been my undesired virtue since…forever. How patient must I be? (Yet, I know that some people have to endure a lifetime of patience and never getting the things they want. Why is it that I can’t always focus on them rather than myself? You know, the person who isn’t eating today… Those in Ethiopia who are suffering in unrealistic ways. Those in China or North Korea who are held by controlling governments and who aren’t free. My family members who are struggling because they are unemployed and barely have what they need. Yet, all of my physical needs are met. I dont have a want for anything material or a roof over my head. So that all makes me feel like a brat. But emotionally, intimately, I’m like Ethiopia–it’s a desert wasteland and my heart is thirsty in a dry and weary land–thirsty for God, and more of Him, the true Him and thirsty for an earthly love.)

    In my head I know that God is really doing what is best for me. I know that this experience has won me knowledge and a level of understanding and clarity about Who God is that most Christians may never realize. I know in my head I should be thankful for this experience for this opportunity to see more of what isn’t God and more of what is. But my heart…. it doesn’t agree with any of those things. It has a mind of it’s own and cannot reason with what my head knows. It’s emotional and hurt, and plain old untrusting and confused–with God and everyone, especially other Christians. It doesn’t help to meet up with former members who are still friends and realize they continue to have the same struggles and that they question these things themselves. When I see how unwilling they are to reason with the Scriptures and just accept what they are being taught, adn won’t even bother to read the things I give them, it makes me tired. It makes me not want to meet with them frequently. I can’t deal with that. But yet I endure because I do care about them, at least a little, and well… Maybe there is hope.

  36. NLR, I have lost just about every Christian friend I have over my belief in the total victory of the cross and the ultimate redemption of all mankind. At times I get very angry with Christians and do not even want to be called a Christian. It has become a bad word.

    You are one of the few that responded calmly when I told you. Thank you for that and for not rejecting me. We get enough rejection from others without needing any more from our brothers and sisters in Christ. I would rather go to the local bar that to a church.

  37. NLR, I’m sorry to hear that your time at CHBC has left you so hurt. That should not be, and it makes me sad to hear. FWIW, I’m sorry. For all I know you and I may have been acquainted.

    I stand by my comments about members meetings. All I’m saying is that I had a different impression about how it was handled. It didn’t seem like a manhandling situation to me. I was sharing with the other readers that I have a different opinion from you, no matter what the facts are. In any case, that man and his former wife surely do not want details about their lives on the internet, so I will not speak about it other than to state my opinion on how it felt as a congregant.

    You have a great point about the bookstall and Together for the Gospel Associations. I guess he just disagrees with the man in polity but agrees with his other writings. I cannot guess Dever’s views about the abuse. I had never heard of it until recent events. I’m guessing he either privately speaks to SGM leadership about it, doesn’t give it credence, or perhaps there is a chance that there is something more sinister behind it. I just don’t think it’s fair to automatically assume it.

    I would tend to believe that the men routinely singled out on this blog are guilty of such intentional and insidious plotting. Do they make more money than they should? Probably. Do they spend too much time and conferences and peddling books? In my opinion, yes. But are they tyrants looking to spiritually abuse the weak? No, at least I can’t say Dever isn’t. I don’t know about Mahaney, Mohler, et al, but I find it hard to believe that men who are capable of speaking and writing with so much truth would intentionally be abusive. They have surely read and meditated on the passages about millstones.

    Dee-My initial post was mostly aimed towards clarifying the elder nomination process that others had brought up. But yes, I think Dever gets a lot of what he wants. Probably most of the time. But not all. The elders do vote against him. I can’t think of any specific examples but they have spoken of it from time to time. I don’t think they try to talk about it because Dever wouldn’t want to sway opinion against the elders by saying “Well I wanted to do x, but they nixed me…”

    I don’t know when Dever started at the church. I would say the bio is correct. I do know the 15 yr mark happened recently, but alas, I’m not certain. It could have been 2009, I guess? Sorry to not have better info. I wasn’t there in 1994.

  38. Also, since several have brought of the notion of discipline in the CJ/Dever relationship. I do not believe he is attending CHBC for discipline. Dever would be the first to say that it is the church where CJ has a membership that has the responsibility for discipline. CJ and Dever are spending time together as two Christians for counsel and reflection. CJ stated his reason for not staying at his home church during this time, and I think that is a wise choice for his own sake as well as that congregation’s sake. But CHBC and her elders will not be “disciplining” him.

  39. And, correction, in a previous post I am missing a NOT.

    I would tend to believe that the men routinely singled out on this blog are NOT guilty of such intentional and insidious plotting.

    Ooops! LOL

  40. anon,

    Obviously, you and No Longer Reformed have had very different experiences at CHBC. I wonder if it has anything to do with gender. Just something to ponder…

    I seem to recall listening to a message by Connie Dever in which described how her husband was approached about becoming the pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and how she was in favor of it. Since Mark’s bio indicates that they relocated to Washington, D.C. in 2004, I’m assuming that this is when he began serving as senior pastor of CHBC.

    Mark Dever’s Bio

    Just trying to get the facts straight.

    Thanks for your comment.

  41. Anon–

    Thank you for understanding.

    -When I chose to leave CHBC many people cautioned me to stay and try to “be reconciled” with the members there before leaving and the issues there. I felt it was not healthy for me. Neither was I the “offender” in these circumstances. But in most churches like CHBC and SGM, and especially SGM, CJ and co. have demanded that people stay and be reconciled or excommunicatino has been threatened. Now why, pray tell, would this man not hold himself to the own rules he created?

    Yes, it might do CJ well to not be in the congregation, and that depends on what you consider to be “well”, but I think he’s just running away and he can’t stand to face those his system has harmed like a real man would. Yet, if he is not receiving disicpline from Dever, then why the heck is he there? You don’t get to run when things get bad and leave the land scorched after you set it ablaze! CJ is running. Bottom line. He should have been sent back to his church to deal with ALL matters concerning his abuse in authority adn leadership, and the abuse issues within the family of churches he co-founded. There is a kind of “nepotism” here where the rules don’t apply to those in the upper eschelons of leadership. I dont know about you, but we all see that clearly. And as CJ would have done, somebody needs to call CHBC and say this man did NOT LEAVE WELL and he needs to return and hear the music. And THAT, friend, would do the congregation a great deal of healing to see him put up with their pain face-to-face and deal with teh monster of an organization he has created that has hurt hundreds of people for years. To see a pastor accept responsibility and deal with dissent, and do so with real humility and graciousness would put to action the words he spoke in his world reknown book on humility.

    Espousing values are nothing but mere lipservice until the rubber hits the road that they become a reality. CJ has failed this miserably.

    –about the couple mentioned and the discipline towards the husband, no one here would know who they are or either their names. They still maintain their anonimity and you only know because you were there. If they wanted that to remain private, they wouldn’t have had their marriage and the situations therein be a “community” issue and had decided to keep it private.

    –the men routinely singled out on this blog continue to offend the Gospel in the most heinous of ways. Whether they do it intentionally or not isn’t the problem. The problem is that they DO IT. They hurt people. Period. Their polity, their authoritarianism, their covering up of abuse systemtically–it hurts people. I dont know about you, Anon, but systemically covering up abuse and hiding issues that are important for the protection and well-being of others is INTENTIONAL. It implies and proves that there is something greater, more valuable at stake for the concealer than the victims and sufferers of such actions and attrocities. This blog continues to expose those things that are “most valuable” to these men, that they would respond in such ways that damage the body, shames Christ, offends the Gospel of Christ, and makes Chrsitians appear evil and hypocritical to a watching and critical unbelieving world.

    –Also, just because you would find it unbelievable that men of such education writing such “wonderful” books on the bible and the Gospel doesn’t mean it isn’t so. In fact, many would argue that what they teach is as good as you have deemed it to be. I believe, also, that many Calvanists have to ignnore the fact that this man wanted to persecute Jews and that he was anti-Semitic. But he was. And so I find it totally believable and possible that just because a person has head knowledge and a greater understanding of something such as the Gospel or God’s Word doesn’t mean that their convictions and actions stand the test or match their knowledge. They are not one and the same.

    I know that if I eat too much I will gain weight and I can tell you a lot about metabolic pathways, energy, ATP, etc… but I still choose to eat junk sometimes. My knowledge and my actions don’t match. It’s as simple as that.

  42. Here is my general “observation” about the Dever/Mahaney association. I am greatly disturbed that Mark and CJ have cultivated such a close friendship over the past 13 or 15 years or however long it’s been given the information we are now discovering about Mahaney.

  43. Deb–

    I second that. I think that’s a very precise way of putting it. In my strong “reformed” fashion, I want to believe the absolute best about Dever–but my stomach gets all in a knot when I think the very thing you just said. I can’t trust it and I am bothered. I already believe the worst about CJ so no more “struggling” there to believe the best about him.

  44. Deb–I am female.

    If CJ and SGM have been covering up abuse, perhaps they did it so well that Dever did not know? I have not read all of the documents on CJ so I really can’t comment on him. But isn’t it possible that Dever is learning some of it now? Is it possible he is actually helping CJ to face some of this? I’m not certain he is, but why not give him any benefit of the doubt? I’ve had close friends that have gone on to surprise me with their sins. My point is we don’t know but Dever seems to be assumed guilty.

    I would say that 1994 sounds like the right year? So then I have no explanation for the 13/15 except for human error or different ways of counting. Yesterday I asked a married friend how long she and her husband had been together. First she answered 8 years, which is counting by wedding anniversary. Then she changed it to 10, because that is when they committed to each other…then she said she has actually known the man for 12 years. Perhaps it’s something like that?

    NLR– Your situation of leaving a church altogether is different from CJ’s leave of absence. If one is resigning membership and moving on, then yes, I think it’s healthy for brethren to be reconciled. But to take a few months and let heads cool, I don’t see a problem with that. CJ is still in communication with elders and other SGM/CLC leadership. And, unless he is permanently removed, he does plan to return and reconcile.

    I will ponder your Calvin comparison and come back with thoughts later.

  45. Anon–

    No one has said that Dever is guilty of anything. But his actions and interaction with CJ is being rightfully questioned considering the present distress. I am kinda vibing that you are somewhat new, most recently, to the debacle at present and might not have an in depth knowledge and account of the many things that have transpired over at the various survivor blogs as well as much information that has been known in the past several years, and things that have come to light now.

    Please don’t assume that people are making frivolous statements and are guessing on a whim. It’s not that people here are guessing. We have all sat by and watched some surprising and some expected behavior from these men these past months, and some real defining and intuitive knowledge that has led to people rightfully questioning and reasoning about these issues.

    I will say we will agree to disagree on the manner and how CJ has left. I disagree with you. And the fact that you stress his connection with elders and other SGM leadership is the EXACT problem we have here.. And that he has refused to dig down deep, as Joshua would say, and address the immediate hurts and needs of his congregation. He IS running, Anon, whether you like that or not. He simply is. Don’t you see that it is out of character and general practice for a pastor in this type of situation where he is not the victim but the abuser to take some time to be “cared for” as CJ has said? When you think about what CJ is doing, who do you have in the forefront of your mind? do you have CJ’s good, or that of the abused? The molested? The raped? The hurt? Because if you had that in the forefront of your mind, you’d want this man to roll up his sleeves, FORGET ABOUT HIMSELF, and go do the hardwork necessary and start making reparations IMMEDIATELY to those who are HURT AND ABUSED and cannot escape for several months their pain.

    I have no compassion for CJ neither for his need to take several months to “cool off”, as you say. He needs to man up and go take care of the flock he has deeply injured.

  46. anon
    NLR said something that is very important. “Also, just because you would find it unbelievable that men of such education writing such “wonderful” books on the bible and the Gospel doesn’t mean it isn’t so”.

    Anon, Mark Dever and CJ Mahaney are just as capable of terrible sin as the uneducated, non-bookwriting, blog dwelling simpletons. I think this is the fatal flaw of our churches today. Somehow we believe that a big leader who has elders and writes books and is universally praised is somehow a little less capable of sin the the average joe. Such a subtle attitude shows an incredible misunderstanding of the Gospel and our need for Jesus.

    We also tend to believe, although we would deny it vigorously because we need to pay lip service to the Scripture, that our leaders tend more towards the “nice” sins-gluttony, impatience, overwork, etc. But, they are just as prone to horrible sins such as pride and self-sufficiency that can lead to hyper-authoritarianism and abuse of people in the church.

    Why? because if you write books, get speaking invites and spent time getting PHDs and know all sorts of history, you are a bit better than the the stupid sheep and you intend to tell them precisely what they need to do-jobs, dating, church attendance, etc. You even get to point out their sins.And they better not point back because you are You!

    However, such men hurriedly cover themselves by making stupid declarations that they are the “worst sinner that they know.” Therefore, they can blow of criticism because they have already admitted to the worst sinner jargon.

    Humility is not gained by writing a book or by doing a sermon. Humility is recognized by those from the outside looking in. Mother Theresa comes to mind. She did not seek to gain for herself but lived her life in poverty and unselfish care of the lowest of the low.

    Dever has not convinced me that he fits this bill. But, since you seem to think we only criticize men such as he, I would direct you to two Calvinistas that I admire: David Platt and Francis Chan. The sacrifices in their personal lives speak volumes to many in the movement. In fact, everyone claims to like them but many make subtle pot shots at them because they advocate a life that is a bit too challenging.

    There are a few people who have landed on this blog who were deeply hurt by what appears to be legalism in CHBC. Maybe they are a bunch of bellyachers who couldn’t play Christian with the big boys. But,…I am no so sure. Of I know the excuse. There are many people who are whiners, bitter, etc. I know, I have been called such names. But, somehow, I think some, like NLR, are speaking a deep truth that will not be heard because they are not smart enough to be with the “9 Marks” program.

  47. NLR

    CJ is above the people he serves. he speaks only to those “at his level.” That means big name pastors who truly understand the difficulties in leading a group of stupid people who don’t get that the Bible is clear about their “authority.”

    CJ ran from his people. The little guy has nothing to say him-he is too far above them. He should be spending time in his churches talking with the nobodies. Instead he is spending time talking with his BFFs.

  48. Dee–

    You are right and you always say it better. I feel like the only thing Dever should be helping CJ with is writing “I’m sorry I effed up” notes and helping him deliver them with true humility, repentance and sadness. He should be conditioning him on how he must apologize to individuals and to his congregation as a whole. That should be the first thing.

    And if like Anon said, that Dever knows NOTHING about the systemic abuse in Sov Grace churches that have gone on for decades now, then I’d have to wonder what discernment he has. How can you be in partnership and in ministry with a man who has a penchant for abusive control and his ministry now well-known for it’s cover-ups of pedophilia and sexual abusee that has been public for how many years and has been PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE, and believe he doesn’t know. It might be true, but it sure is a stretch.

    Many of the SGM pastors for years have denied the existence of the blogs and survivor sites, yet when Brent’s docs leaked, we saw that they were lying. They DID know, they just refused to acknowledge it.

    Many of the motives that people could see from using men’s actions, past behaviors, words have now all come to light, and many of them exactly what was thought by methods of reason and logical thought and intuition.

  49. Dee–I agree with you on 90% of what you just wrote. Of course Dever, et al, are capable of heinous sins. I just have a hard time believing that the whole lot of them are consipiring in some dark room, ala Mr. Burns form the simpsons, wringing their hands about how they can abuse and dominate women and all of their congregants. I really can only speak about Dever since he is the only one I know personally, and I know him from a variety of angles. I know his interns, his coworkers, his wife. We all know he is flawed. His “brilliant” books don’t defend him from sin and temptation. Of course not. I don’t believe in two castes of Christians. I’m just not getting that Mr. Burns vibe, whether he’s “BFF’s” with CJ or not.

    And, I’m not calling NLR a whiner, not by any stretch! I think, though, that you’d be hard pressed to find any church of CHBC’s size where there are not ex-members who have had a negative experience. There are over 800 members, and a whole lot of turnover due to the DC location and the fact that the average age of congregants is so young. A few people popping up here and there is not proof that there is something dark and insidious brewing at CHBC. I’m so sad to hear of NLR’s experience. She (sorry, I’m guessing at gender here) seems to believe that the leadership and membership CHBC did her wrong. I’m saddened to hear that. However I do not think her experience is typical.

  50. Anon–

    I don’t seem to believe that. I believe it. Others believe it and have confirmed it. So it’s not conjecture or feelings here. The thing is, you make it a happening of chance and statistics, that if you have 800 people, you will definitely have some disenchanted ones. That is true and reasonable. But when it comes to patterns of authoritarianism and paternalism, and spiritual manipulation and abuse to others (assuming you know in depth what spiritual abuse actually is), it’s not simply about having a few disenchanted people. It’s that the majority has no idea that many of the cultural practices and beliefs in their church are characteristic of a high-demand authoritarian control group. If you also dont know what that is, in depth, you should read more about it. I don’t think then after that, you will be able to say well, you’re gonna have a few people here who don’t like the church or the pastors because you can’t make everybody happy. It’s not even about that. It’s not about making people happy. It’s about a controlling and unhealthy church where most people can’t see that the abuse and control is unhealthy and subtle in nature. I get from your comments you cannot see that eitehr and that you think this is mere disagreement and also, you assume unwisely that my experience is not typical. You don’t know exactly why many people have left your church, and just because they simply chose to go to antoher church, doesnt’ mean those were the true reasons why.

    You also error in your vision that we envision some Mr. Burns type of handwrithing sinister workings in the background. Do you know that many people, when confronted with the apparent ills of the government, say that same thing, and then to find out that the accusations were true. It’s because you imagine a scene like the one you described.

    It is not AT ALL what we are implying here, and because you envision that and imagine that, doesn’t mean it’s what we are implying. Your vision is not mine. And because my vision is from firsthand experience, I can tell you right out that it’s not that and neither do I think it so.

    Anon, abuse and spiritual misleading doesn’t have to be some backroom, concerted effort to deceive and take control of others–although, in many cases it has. The way you think is also the reason why people often fail to realize that they are in a cult-like group–because the evidences they seek aren’t realistic and always typical of such circumstances. If you want to participate here more deeply and have a greater understanding of what we’re talking about, you should read The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson, and other readings on how to identify if your church is behaving in unhealthy ways like a cult. You will have a better vision and idea of what we mean here and therefore, will not almost label us akin to conspiracy theorists.

    And Anon, take note that men don’t have to conspire to do evil in order for evil to happen. Men can wholeheartedly agree on some truly extrabiblical beliefs and leanings where the result is unintended, but definitely evil and wrong, and leaves others hurt in their wake.

    Please read more about the SBC here and over at Wade Burleson, please also read more regarding the SBC and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and when you’re done with that, go over to Christians For Biblical Equality and take a look at their stance on many of these issues. Then when you have both sides, decide for yourself rather than parroting what you hear from the pulpit or what you believe to be a clear inspired interpretation by man from Scripture. Much of what your church teaches is extrabiblical and cannot withstand many excellent arguments regarding men and women, gender, leadership and Christianity.

  51. @ NLR and anon – That old saw about the road to hell being paved with good intentions comes to mind. (Totally agreed on what you’re saying, NLR!)

  52. NLR, as I’ve said before, I’m sorry that you had such a terrible experience at CHBC. I don’t know the details so I can’t apologize further. I used the term “it seems” because I didn’t want to put words into your mouth. I wasn’t trying to be offensive. And I don’t think that in a church of 800, it’s just statistics. The sin that happened to you was obviously very real. I believe in the sinfulness of all people, Christian or not. It grieves me that you were sinned against. It grieves me further that it led you to leave the church, before you were, in your words, able to reconcile. It’s sad all around. I just don’t think that what was your experience is typical–because it is not systematic abuse. It was members and leaders failing at loving another Christian. Dever himself may have sinned against you, but I just don’t see any evidence of systematic abuse. I know that intentional or not, sin is sin, but what I see in CHBC is a culture of personal repentance (no “sin-sniffing”) not of pointing fingers and control.

    This will likely be my last post. I’m getting the vibe that because my views disagree from others here, that I must not understand what the conversation is about. I must not understand the gospel. I don’t know what cult behavior is. etc, etc, etc. And before I revealed it, it was assumed that I was male, since I was happy with such a “patriarchal”, “authoritarian” church. No one is abusing me. But here on this blog, I’m being told me how wrong I am about my Mr. Burns impression and how that is further proof that I don’t know what I’m talking about, how I’m like the deceived political masses. But Mr. Burns type evil is the picture of the calvinistas I get when I visit this blog. We’ve got a few broken links and CJ Mahaney saying that he’s known Dever for 15 or 13 years. Hmmms and implications and accusations flow. Really? And because I try to suggest other, less insidious explanations, I’m new and ignorant. I need to learn more. Trust the leaders. Think about it more. Hmm.

  53. Wow. You’ve had got the goods on him now. Obviously changing the dates from 15 years to 10 years is an obvious attempt to fulfill a dastardly deed that he hopes no one will notice. But you have found him out. Keep at it. Satan is delighted and the Holy Spirit is grieved (Eph 4:30) at your work. Keep it up and let’s see how much damage the Head of the Church allows you to do!

  54. Anon

    Nobody on this blog has accused anyone of conspiring in a dark room. In fact, that is a tactic that is used to marginalize the critic.

    Here is what is really happening and it is patently clear. This is based on flawed theology that is founded in extreme authoritarianism which is based in a flawed perspective on Calvinism. They believe in the doctrine of ESS which is a way to marginalize about 50% of the members of most churches (if not more). This doctrine was invented in order that men might be able to believe that they are truly in charge for eternity. Complementarianism has been sold as a separate but equal concept. This didn’t work in race relations and it doesn’t work in churches in which the application of this flawed theology relegates women to a submissive posture that is supposed to continue in spite of abuse.

    Such folks also believe in the special anointing of the office of pastor which somehow gives the leader special vision that the little guy cannot see. It is based in rigid hierarchical job descriptions in which everyone view for a title of some form of leadership which is given to a chosen few. These folks are then presented as being special or set aside. My experience has shown that these set aside folks have some of the most abusive, rigid, prideful, self righteous demeanors in Christendom.

    Now, dial in “church discipline.” In case you don’t think i believe in this, think again. I have watched how effective it can be in terrible home situations in which men walk out on their wives. However, this discipline garbage is now used for everything from “gossip” to an “unteachable spirit” as defined by the pastor authority.

    Powerful pastor+powerful yes men elders= abusive potential. The reason why I smile when i read of your defense of this situation is because the pattern is often visible to those outside of these closed groups.

    This has nothing to do with conspiracy and everything to do with theology which, when applied produces the same results-be it a Reformed Baptist,SGM, etc. It repeats like a broken record and insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. In fact, what I see going on is most understandable unless one does not do due diligence to understand the big picture. I believe these types of churches do not want people to understand what is going on because it raises legitimate questions which is redefined as gossip. I call it being educated and very, very wise.

    For example, can you imagine something like this happening? Newly married couple who are told to not let the wife talk to her parents without the husband being present? How about encouraging early marriage with lots of children from the get go? How about questioning whether or not a woman should go to college? How about telling women to be submissive in light of consistent abuse? Members of church staff who crack under the pressure of trying to live up to expectations which are impossible to do. So, they fake it until they break?

    I’m sure nothing like that has ever happened at CHBC, has it? It sure appears to have happened at SGM and other church groups similar in structure.

    Your refusal to read about the accusations that are rampant about Mahaney and SGM over YEARS on the survivor blogs potentially shows a lack of empathy for the victims of an unjust and painful polity and an inability to understand that this is not some little squabble over a pastor who got too big for his britches. I would highly recommend reading, if you have not done so, the history of the shepherding movement. You might see some similarities to some groups and churches today.

    Also, I know how many people go to your church. Yes, you have turnover due to it being DC. But, after all the hype about how to do church over many, many years there seems to be little growth. Now, this could be that people don’t understand how good CHBC is. Could it also be that some people have not been treated well in that venue? Or maybe people are too stupid to do church in the correct way?

    If I seem upset, I am. I get very upset when people appear to blithely ignore the pain and suffering of God’s people because they think in doing so they are being obedient.

    anon, this is about the victims and there are many who have told heartbreaking stories over decades. Until I see concern for the victims instead of how Mahaney has come to the right place so Dever can “disciple him” then I am stymied about how to reach you. First care for the people in pain, then the worry about the big boys. That’s what Jesus did.

  55. Responding to a question way up the thread, about the timing of the Toronto stuff and SGM’s entry into Calvinism…

    I clearly remember discussing the Reformed trend within SGM in December of 1993 — the leaders were all reading Jonathan Edwards, etc. There are external factors involved that make me identify it as that month and year — so it probably began six months to a year earlier than that. Coming from a reformed background, and previously having been considered suspect because of it, I welcomed it.

    That was several years ahead of the Toronto blessing influence, if that indeed occurred in 1996. Our SGM had several Sunday services in which people were falling out, some were laughing, etc. After a couple of these sessions, when people started doing those things, someone would tap them on the shoulder and lead them into a side room where they could laugh all they wanted without weirding out the rest of the crowd or the visitors. I was pleased that they realized that the Holy Spirit could continue working even if people had to move to a different room.

    We also had several Sunday night sessions, where this “move of the Spirit” continued. Once, I was standing at the back of the room, completely skeptical, and the visiting pastor pointed his hand toward me from about 20 feet away. Something hit me, physically, so hard that I jumped up off the floor and fell, landing on my hip. Other people saw this happen. I wondered if the guy had a cattle prod under his long-sleeved shirt. Seriously. There was no accompanying spiritual or emotional feeling along with this, but I was violently and physically knocked off my feet It was beyond anything in my experience or anything I had ever even heard about. Certainly not a copycat kind of thing. If a cattle prod was not involved, I still don’t know exactly what God was doing.

    The other thing I remember is that during this time, people would surround someone and pray for them till they fell on the floor. I thought this was all kind of miraculous, till it happened to me. People surrounded me, praying, till I was worn slap out, too tired to keep standing up, and I felt so sorry for them that they were praying for me so earnestly and the Spirit just didn’t seem to be cooperating. I finally just sat down where I was, too tired to keep going, in order to give us all a break, and they moved on to the next victim.

    At this point in time, the church was espousing the charismatic + reformed formula.

    Several people from our church actually drove to Toronto to see what was going on up there themselves.

    After a few weeks of the Sunday morning fall-out, the pastor announced that it seemed that this season of “refreshing” seemed to have run its course, but that if the Holy Spirit did fall on people again, they could go out the door to the next room.

  56. Listen carefully: “Never think of the Church of God as if she were in danger. If you do, you will be like Uzza; you will put forth your hand to steady the ark, and provoke the Lord to anger against you. If it were in danger, I tell you, you could not deliver it. If Christ cannot take care of his Church without you, you cannot do it. Be still, and know that he is God… When you begin to say, “The Church is in danger! The Church is in danger!” what is that to thee? It stood before thou wert born; it will stand when thou hast become worm’s meat. Do thou thy duty. Keep in the path of obedience, and fear not. He who made the Church knew through what trials she would have to pass, and he made her so that she can endure the trials and become the richer for it. The enemy is but grass, the word of the Lord endureth forever.”

    C. H. Spurgeon

  57. ‘But are they tyrants looking to spiritually abuse the weak?”

    Oh, it is much worse than that. They actually believe they know what is best for people are doing what is best for everyone. They actually believe they were “called” to be in authority over others. They believe they are “specially anointed” and God’s men.

    Hebrews 13:17 is their favorite badly translated verse. It would ruin everything for them if you have the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding you and bringing the truth of the Word to you. You would not need them anymore. That is their worst nightmare.

    What was it CS Lewis said about such people?

    So tyrants is what they become as they seek to grow and maintain the systems they created and their positions. It is the reason they tell parents not to call the police when their child is molested. It is the reason people are fired for disagreeing. It is the reason CJ is at CHBC instead of an SGM church. (No matter how you spin it)

  58. For the record, best as I can recall (since I was there at the time) the knife thing did happen but I don’t remember that it was actually a machete. It was a substantially smaller blade, more like in the bowie knife range. I used to hang out with the guy on security who intercepted the knife-weilding miscreant so I can at least take a shot at clarifying what is and isn’t accurate about the machete account. It’s true there was a guy with a knife and security stopped him, but it certainly wasn’t a machete. I wouldn’t expect MD to have any idea about the real size of the knife since he doesn’t seem to know a whole ton about cutlery and the assailant was intercepted well before he was able to get near his target. So, in summary, the substance of the tale is true but with some exaggeration that, understandably, would lead someone to doubt the veracity of the whole tale if a person weren’t actually acquainted with the person who was involved in apprehending the assailant.

  59. Wenatchee The Hatchet,

    Thanks for verifying which parts of the machete account are and are not true. Sounds like Driscoll has a penchant for “embellishment”. What an attention seeker.

  60. LLBarry

    We have a very specific reason that we focused on the dates of the meeting between Dever and Mahaney. It has to do with a change in theology at SGM which we believe was encouraged by Dever. We are trying to put together a time line. Believe it or not, for our purposes the date is important because we are involved in following the changes on the religious scene.

    Now, I take it that you are a Calvinist so any quotes by anyone other than that would be rejected. So I have decided to appeal to a higher authority. Higher than Spurgeon! Could it be Calvin? Nope, even higher.

    Now pay very, very close attention:
    Jeremiah 5:26 (The prophet speaking for God):…” for wicked men are found among My people…they set a trap, they catch men.” Then, “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority.” (vv. 30-31)

    Jeremiah 6:13-14 For from the least of them to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of my people superficially saying, “Peace. peace,” but there is no peace.

  61. Lin
    There is a line in the song I Hope You Dance that says “Don’t let some helping heart leave you bitter.” I think that some of these pastors do think they are helping because they have a view of themselves as specially gifted to tell others what to do.I think there are a few more atheists in the world due to some “helping hearts” in the pulpit.

  62. I’ve heard Driscoll mention the machetē incident before, and I’ve often wondered about its authenticity. My guess is that this was an early manifestation of Driscoll’s “I-see-things” discernment gift. Still working out the kinks and unable to get his own story straight, Pastor Mark was actually channeling the sinful experiences of a crazed sushi chef at one of Seattle’s many excellent Japanese eateries.

  63. LLBarry, there is no such thing as the “church” of God. Men start “churches”, not God. The word church is not found in the original languages of the Bible. Do an in depth study on the Greek word EKKLESIA. There are some outstanding articles on the Internet that can be found. The EKKLESIA of God is not any Christian organization, para-church, denomination, non-denomination, “family of churches” etc. There is one body of Christ and it does not have any name like Southern Baptist, Presbyterian Church of America, Sovereign Grace Ministries, United Methodist, or any other such man made nonsense.

    Why are these groups making a NAME for themselves? You are welcome them if you share their doctrinal bents and statements of faith. That is why there are over 5000 “Christian” denominations worldwide. But there is only one EKKLESIA of God – the body of Christ. There are no division in it.

  64. I don’t remember what happened to the assailant since the event was so many years ago and I’ve been doing a lot of other things like job hunting and free-lance writing to try to keep a roof over my head. I’ll admit that my memory is pretty formidable on a lot of things but it has limits. I remember the drive-by shooting of windows at the Ballard campus from around that time more clearly from around that same time period because I saw the entry points where the pellets hit the windows at the entrance.

  65. Sergius

    Thank you for the best laugh in a couple of days! Crazed Sushi chef! I had the best dim sum in my life in Seattle. Also, gotta love those Ranier cherries!

  66. Dee and Deb, thank you very much for allowing open and honest dialogue on your website. This is such a blessing to be able to share freely without fear of being booted or blocked. You all are a very rare find. I am so glad to have found you both and your blog. Keep up the great work.

  67. NBTT–

    I forgot to say earlier “thank you”. I’m not sure that before this experience that I would have been the type of Christian that would dialogue with you and not have dismissed you. I would have considered you ridiculous and probably not a Christian. I am ashamed that’s who I was. If anything good comes out of this experience, one thing is that I can pray this for you and me: if there is anything we believe, Lord, that is untrue and denies that you are God, please tell us. If there is anything we believe that is an issue of our own salvation, please be faithful in showing us. Please give us willing and softened hearts, ones that are sensitive to your Holy Spirit and truth.

    That, I can pray for you and me and whatever God sees fit to change, we will trust together that he will. Considering what you’ve been through, I have compassion and eve am in awe that you still believe. For now, that just has to be enough.

    A very good friend of mine told me recently that she’s not sure she believes that Christ is God. My heart did flutter in anxiousness at first. But I listened more and tried to explain what Scripture says. Like me, she is going through a time of hardship with the church and also has decided that CHBC has many of the issues I’ve pointed out. Her friendship has been a comfort and a source of reason. I was fine that she did not accept my explanation and proof texts. I am confident that praying for her is the best thing and that the Lord will be faithful to minister to her His truth. I believe she will be fine. She truly loves God and I believe he knows that. We remain good friends and I believe her to be a Christian, even though for me that’s a huge theological issue, that reminds me of the Gnostics who denied Christ his deity. But I’m sure the were Gnostics who ended up knowing and having more clarity with what Gods Word says and who Christ is. She will get there, and where you and I lack, we will get there also.

  68. I had the best king crab mid-afternoon one day, fresh off the boat, fixed about six ways, and was I ever stuffed.

    As cherries go, I like the ones of the Niagara peninsula (Canada) better except you have to eat them before you return to the US side.

  69. NLR, I agree with your prayer 100%. My wife is constantly praying that the Lord removes any wrong ideas we have about Him, His word, His will, His Kingdom, etc. It seems like that prayer has caused nothing but trouble! 🙂 I am joking but there is some truth behind the humor.

    I have a friend who involved in the cult group The WAY International, and he still struggles with Trinity issues and Jesus being God. I was in 2 groups that taught water baptism was necessary for salvation. It took many years to get rid of that brainwashing.

    If you desire to look at some articles on the total victory of the cross, here is a web site with numerous articles. Most were written in the 1800’s.

    But I also understand if that is not something you wish to examine at this time. I was very surprised how many Christians now believe in the eventual salvation of all mankind. I have about 350 Facebook “friends” (not real friends):-) that believe it also. But I do not know anyone near me unfortunately. There are also some excellent teachings on YouTube under universal reconciliation, Christian universalism, etc.

    Thanks again for the prayers. Let us continue to pray for one another for truth, hope, and encouragement.

  70. NLR, and please do not ever be afraid of offending me. I want you and everyone else to say exactly what you think. If you want to ask me tough questions about the sheep and the goats, or the Rich man and Lazarus, or about why did Jesus speak about Hell, please do so. I love examining God’s word. And if I am in heresy, I really want to know. I want God’s truth.

  71. NBTT–

    Thank you. It’s not really a problem. I have studied universalism in the past but I found that I still didn’t agree. It’s fine though. I’ve heard of The Way, I’m not sure where but I new they were a cult. I used to think also that water baptism saved as well. Im glad to know now that our salvation does not rest upon it.

  72. NLR/NBTT

    I would be interested to know what the statistics are of those who leave hyper-authoritarian groups and reject what I might consider the pale of orthodoxy. I have spoken to so many who have left who now embrace universalism or agnosticism. Could it be that such pastors and their yes boys may be responsible, in part, for the rise of agnosticism and atheism in the US?

  73. NBTT
    You are welcome here on this blog. Although your two glamorous blog queens may be traditionalists in our personal beliefs (although a few hardcore types might consider us heretical because of our views on women and 5 point Calvinism), we want this to be a place of dialogue. So many churches do not allow people to freely express themselves. instead, everyone toes the line and deep down inside have serious differences with the party line.

    It is our wish to allow those differences to be aired and to have respectful disagreement. I kind of see this place as i see the church. Although membership is limited to Christians, the church should be a place that the curious and different come to learn and to be loved. Although I disagree with you on the subject of universalism, I am glad that you have visited us and challenged us with your thoughts.

  74. I think that warrants an in-depth study!! Hmmm… Imagine if someone like Malcolm Gladwell researched and wrote about it. I’m sure we would be surprised that there might be an overwhelming correlation between the two.

  75. Arce
    I have not tried those cherries but have added them to my bucket list.

    Since you got the crabs off the boat, I take it you are traveling. Sounds wonderful!

  76. Nickname

    Great story. What do you think the pastor meant when he said to go to the next room? Had he decided that things had gone a bit too far/

  77. Hi Dee, I am sure you are right. There is an ex-Christian website I use to post on, but they threw me off that one also because I kept telling them about miracles and fulfilled prophecies in my life that were WAY beyond coincidence. Just about all of these “ex-Christians” left Christianity because of bad church experiences.

    But I became a Uni while I was still in a church and enjoying it. So that is not what sent me over the edge.

    I just remembered the man’s name – John Loftus. His web site is called “Debunking Christianity”. Some of these guys are ex preachers and ex seminary students. They threw the baby (Jesus) out with the church bathwater. Very sad. I tried to tell them that Jesus was real and wonderful even though the churches stink. They wanted no part of it.

  78. NBTT

    I have had conversations with Loftus. I met him through the ExChristians site.I learned so much from those folks. They were terrible angry at Christians and many had good reason.

    Loftus is an expreacher and he is very antiChristian. He lost badly in a debate with a Christian but I forget who. If I have time I will google it. I have also visited his Debunking Christianity site. He didn’t much care for me but i was unfailingly kind which torqued him off. He gave me a blistering tongue lashing that I will never forget but that is another story for when I am less tired.

    Most of them deny the existence of Jesus. If they do acknowledge he lived, they believe that the stories are not true.They feel that they have proved, categorically, that the God of the Bible does not exist and /or he is a monster and could not be God.

  79. Dee, thanks for the link. I just went to Loftus’s website. I have not looked at that in years. Some very good responses on there from some well spoken Christians. But it never seems to go anywhere. Only God can change someone’s heart.

    Good night all.

  80. Dee

    Trip through Seattle was long ago, while I was on a postdoc with fed money, had to travel as much as possible in the US before transferring into Canada. And it was one whole Alaskan King Crab. I flew from Detroit to Seattle and was there a couple of days, then to Vancouver for a week, then back to Seattle for a day before returning to Michigan, ca. 1976. Went down to the waterfront to a restaurant on the docks where the fishing boats were coming in. Was there ca 3 pm. Asked about the special and was told it was a king crab, fixed any and every way you wanted it. Outrageously fabulous meal, from soup to nuts, and every dish was king crab.

    The cherries episodes have occurred over most of a lifetime, from the ’60s to the ’90s, about every 3-5 years a trip to or through the Niagara area for business and/or pleasure, always in the summer when the fruit in that part of the country is wonderful, cherries the best.

  81. Dee and All,

    As those who have been on this blog for long, I am convinced that strong 5 point Calvinism requires that God be a monster who creates people for the purpose of burning them in hell. I think that is because of a misplaced focus on sovereignty and misunderstanding of what sovereignty means. It makes God a Midas who cannot desire anything and it not be fact because of his sovereignty.

    But sovereignty is power to do what one CHOOSES to do. And it is only one of the characteristics of God, others being love, justice, mercy. These require balancing since taken to absolute, they are incompatible. Calvinistas emphasize sovereignty, most Christians emphasize love and mercy. There is a God I can worship and serve — it is the God that tempers his sovereignty with love and mercy, to achieve both justice and grace.

  82. Elasticgirl – You’re so right about noticing how often CJ Mahaney mentions leadership in his messages. I recall noticing when SGM planted a church in England, the message CJ gave emphasized leadership. I remember thinking how telling that was. For CJ Mahaney, the foundation of every SGM must rest upon his leadership, and his definition of leadership must be understood and adhered to from the very beginning. And CJ Mahaney’s idea of leadership is not taught from the perspective of leadership serving the members. Perish the thought! The clear message was: members are responsible to submit to the leadership and serve them! You must behave in such a way as to make the job of pastoring you an absolute joy! (i.e. you are to care for the souls of your leaders!)

    JJ Barry – your Spurgeon quote is bollocks. We are the church. It is our duty to watch, guard, stand, and protect. Unless I’m viewing it wrong, you seem to be suggesting through the use of the quote that its not our responsibility to do or say anything. So, does that apply to leaders? You should explain the motivation behind posting that quote.

    You know what I think? I think the quote suggests that Christ is the head of the church in the sense that he is the “boss” or the “leader.” So, if Christ is the boss, then our job is to just let him sort things out. That’s his job. So our job is to be passive & submissive.

    Actually, Christ isn’t the “boss” of the church. He is the head of the church in the sense a river has a head or source. Christ is the source of life to the church, and in being connected to the head means we are animated with His life. Out of that life, we, the members of the Body, carry on the work of the head and fulfill his Will. It is our duty to act. That is what faith is, and without works, our faith is dead.

    So, don’t fall for being told the work of the church belongs to Christ alone, or to a small group of leaders in the church. God gives leadership to the church for the purpose of equipping the members of the body for their works of ministry. They’re not to be at the forefront, like CJ Mahaney erroneously teaches. They are to be in the background, helping and serving the people without drawing attention to themselves.

  83. Dee, I’m not certain why they started sending people to another room, but it seemed to me a way of saying “carry on, but don’t expect everybody here to do the same thing, the rest of us want to go to lunch.” Now that I’m better informed, the pastor was probably following orders from Gaithersburg.

    NLR and NBTT — One of my best friends became involved in The Way International, in 1970, AFTER coming to Christ — but for some reason, though I was in the house while they were having “Bible studies” and speaking in tongues on command, etc., I never got involved. Could be because they charged something like $80 to attend, and even I knew that church was supposed to be free.

    I attended the ordination of her husband and their next-day wedding at Way Headquarters in Ohio, officiated by Victor Paul Wierwille himself. I didn’t know much about orthodox Christianity at the time, but I knew a cult when I saw it up close and personal. Later, I read an excellent book about The Way, which explained much about their aberrant theology. VP Wierwille said that God told him he was the only person since Jesus’ time to “rightly divide the Word”, “Jesus is not God”, the Holy Spirit was really just “holy spirit”, and conveniently enough, adultery wasn’t a sin — and it was a privilege for young women in the Way to “serve the Man of God”, oh — and as time went on, Wierwille said he wasn’t going to die. Guess he was surprised to wake up dead one day. The Way has since had its own implosion or two, and about ten years ago, I read extensively on an Ex-Way internet site. I haven’t read up on them in a while, so I don’t know where they stand today. But Wierwille started out as an ordained minister in a denomination, if I remember correctly — and his intended successor had once been deeply involved in one of the respected Christian campus ministries — can’t remember if it was Crusade or IV.

    Anyway, I believe my aversion to SGM-ese was due, in part, to my previous exposure to The Way’s usage of loaded language — eerily similar in some ways, though the actual wording differs.

    Just checked the ‘net — the book I mentioned is “Victor Paul Wierwille and The Way International” by J. L. Williams — ISBNSoftcover, ISBN 0802492339 Publisher: Moody Press, 1979. Probably out of print, but the site I saw showed copies available for less than five bucks. Anyway, an interesting read.

  84. Dee: “I would be interested to know what the statistics are of those who leave hyper-authoritarian groups and reject what I might consider the pale of orthodoxy. I have spoken to so many who have left who now embrace universalism or agnosticism. Could it be that such pastors and their yes boys may be responsible, in part, for the rise of agnosticism and atheism in the US?”

    I don’t know what the statistics are for those who leave Christianity altogether after leaving authoritarian churches, but I’m inclined to think they’re pretty high. I know that I (nearly) one of them, and I know a number of people who are.

    Having spent my entire life (up until the past year or so) in hyper-authoritarian churches, I find myself torn between Christianity and atheism (and agnosticism), and I *hate* it. Honestly there’s a part of me that wants to remain Christian and there’s another part of me that doesn’t. Some days the former part wins and some days the latter wins. I suppose that functionally I’m more of the latter, even on days when I can bring myself to read the Bible (which isn’t every day). I’m not sure if my problem is with Christianity and the Bible, or with what I’ve been taught about the Bible and Christianity. Frankly I have a difficult time not seeing *all* of the Bible (especially the OT, but the NT as well) and *all* churches and *all* pastors as abusive.

    I’ve talked to enough survivors of authoritarian churches to know that I’m far from alone in reacting like that. So yes, I’d have to say that those leaders are responsible for the rise of atheism and agnosticism, a rise that I see getting larger in the coming years as many more leave their authoritarian groups.

  85. Amanda,

    Could it be that the rise in hyper-authoritarian contributed to the popularity of Rob Bell’s Love Wins? While I reject the ideas Bell promotes in his book, I also reject patriarchal teachings which I believe are disguised as complementarianism.

  86. To all who have fled hyperauthoritarianism:

    What you encountered was a willful misinterpretation of scripture to aggrandize a man or a small group of men, provide them with financial security, and sometimes, with access to a continuing stream of young women. It is NOT Christianity, at least as was understood in the early church. True pastors are humble servants, not pop star idols, and do not abuse those in their care.

    Do not give up on belief in Christ. He is gentle, loving, forgiving, encouraging, and seeks your well-being.

  87. Arce

    My current pastor believes that many choose 5 point Calvinism because it “answers” all questions. Your good friend won’t accept the Gospel? He was born to go to hell. It has nothing to do with your arrogant representation of the gospel. It gives the follower an easy out but they go ballistic when I say this. Why worry about feeding the poor? If you don’t get around to it, it is all okey dokey. They are either saved or not and in the end that is all that matters.

    I have watched schizophrenic Calvinists trying to reason why they know they are saved. They “love” the Gospel. They do this or that. They cannot rest in the simple truth of accepting Jesus as Lord because, maybe, it really isn’t true.That is the explanation they give to Christians who appeared to deeply believe and even lead others to the Lord who suddenly turn their back of Jesus. According to Calvinists, they were never saved. But, the uncomfortable secret is this. They could be one of these as well. And they really can’t know.

  88. Amanda, Nickname, Evie

    Awesome comments. I have to go out for most of the day. I want to respond to each of you because what you said touched me. I will do so later in the day. Blessings to you all!

  89. Hi Deb, I have not read Rob Bell’s book, but I have seen some of the discussions. May I ask you what ideas he is promoting that you disagree with?

  90. I recommend Matthew 25. Jesus said, not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the work of the Father. Then he did the thing about the sheep and goats and social responsibility for the poor, hungry, incarcerated, etc. It is not a works gospel, but a gospel of faith that proves its validity through its impact on daily living in service to God and our fellow human beings.

  91. Hi Arce, the Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom FROM Heaven. Please compare the term Jesus OF (from) Nazareth. The Lord’s prayer says “Thy Kingdom COME – Thy will be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven. So there are plenty of people on this Earth who call Jesus Lord that are not experiencing the Kingdom of God. They are still slaves to sin and have not yet been born again.

    In the parable of the sheep and the goats, there is not one word about accepting or rejecting Christ, His sacrifice for sins, the cross, the blood, etc. It is a parable based on GOOD WORKS, not about salvation from sin. Plus, this is about when Jesus returns, not about the final judgement. The goats are still alive! So they still have time to repent of not having good works! The Greek word for “punishment” in Matt 25:46 is KOLASIS which means CORRECTIVE punishment or discipline. It will be eternal in it’s results – they will never need to be corrected or disciplined again.

  92. “Could it be that the rise in hyper-authoritarian contributed to the popularity of Rob Bell’s Love Wins? While I reject the ideas Bell promotes in his book, I also reject patriarchal teachings which I believe are disguised as complementarianism”

    Yes! Look at history, people many times “overcorrect” certain movements or changes in history. I am convinced all of the comp/pat and ESS movements come from the “overcorrection” of female rights in the 60’s. Equal rights is one thing. Burning bras is another.

    Comp roles were not a big deal until certain people were threatened within Christianity on what was happening in the culture. They started fearing these equal, educated “uppity” women. (And I include many women in that statement. Comp/pat could not thrive without the help of women)

    So, groups will overcorrect. As female equality in the civil sphere has become the norm…and we are seeing more and more female doctors, scientists, etc.,….. we actually see certain wings of Christianity ..even mainstreamed groups like the SBC, become more and more legalistic on gender roles. They are fighting a losing battle which is why they brought on ESS. To make it salvic and use as a club.

    We see this with those leaving hyper authoritarian groups. These are people who cannot bear to hear any more teaching on sin…. or they might even become athiests. They overcorrect. But who can blame them?

    The problem we have is that we are not going to find basic balanced Christ focused Christianity in many of the institutions anymore. (Note, I did not say NONE. I said many)

    This is causing a problem for those leaving legalistic or shallow Christian institutions. Most exist as businesses, anyway.

  93. Hi, Eagle.

    Stay out of the system.

    Visit a foreign country you love or have always been curious about, go on picnics with the people you like/love most, go to concerts of your favorite music, enjoy excellent food prepared well with a fine wine, leave the computer and TV unplugged for a while…

  94. “1. Would a homeless Vietnam veteran struggling with drug addiction be welcomed in the congregation?
    2. Could a black middle age gay man living with HIV/AIDS be welcomed into the flock?
    3. Could a husband who just went though s divorce due to pornograghy issues be welcomed into the congregation?
    4. From NLR’s post above it’s clear that a struggling alcoholic would not be welcome and CHBC already made up their mind.

    Once again, let’s not “overcorrect”. What is your definition of “love”? Would you say Paul was not “loving” in his advice to the Corinthian church in chapter 5? So, I must ask:

    1. Should the church go along with him doing drugs there?

    2. Is the man still having homosexual sex and infecting others? Should the church turn a blind eye to this? Would that be love?

    3. Is the ex husband still looking at porn?

    4. Is the alcoholic coming to church drunk time after time?
    We really need to define what we think love is. WE cannot make blanket statements about these things. Some fall and get back up. Some never stop practicing their outward sin that hurts others. We also have to be concerned about a little leaven like Paul warned about in Corinthians.

    In a way, the legalists say the same thing you are saying: We “love” the pedophile or sexual abuser and welcome him because he said “sorry”. Nevermind the victims.

  95. NBTT

    There are two issues with which orthodox Christians might disagree. The first is universalism and the second is the nonexistence of hell in eternity. I know you would favor his view on universalism and I would wager that you also agree with the nonexistence of hell. If everyone goes to heaven, then there is no need for hell. Although Bell talks out of both sides of his mouth, my reading of his work leads me to believe that he is a universalist.

    However, let me be quick to add that he asks logical questions that most Christians have not had an opportunity to ponder and so I, ever the questioner, appreciate this aspect of his book.

  96. NBTT

    I tend to disagree with you on this point. Jesus came to explain the width and breadth of the law. So, when he said, If you have lust in your heart, you have committed adultery. Jesus pointed directly to humanity’s inability to achieve moral perfection on their own and this His precious sacrifice was needed.

    I do believe in choice when it comes to faith. I believe a sovereign God programmed each of us with the ability to perceive our need for a Savior. I do not believe that God drags anyone kicking an d screaming into His presence. You don’t have to be coerced to accept His grace. That is why i disagree with universalism for, it appears to men, that in the end, everyone is a Chatty Cathy who will be forced to act at the will of the Father. I believe God is more gracious than that.

  97. “Why are there missing audio files on the 9 Marks website? Has Mark Dever been taking lessons from Mark Driscoll on how to remove incriminating evidence? Why are these resources no longer available? It’s a conundrum…” Dee

    Smeared by association; a Wartburg Watch specialty.

  98. Eagle

    I smiled at you adoption of the new name from CCC which is CRU.

    Eagle, you said “Many of the programs in place, purity, accountability, etc.. enocurage in the end dishonest behavior.” Wow have you ever hit the bullseye! Of course it encourages dishonest behavior. Everyone struggles in most of these areas so to pretend that you have “conquered” is a bunch of baloney. Those leaders are full of sin, just like the rest of us slobs. But they create a system in which pretense is rewarded and honesty is discouraged. They screw up the faith. Instead of us traveling life together, we put on masks and pretend we’re doing it right, when deep down inside, we know we aren’t.

    It reminds me of the Salem Witch trials. Most everybody with half a brain knew that the accusations were a sham. But they went along with it so no one would point fingers back at them. So, we spend time pointing fingers at others so no one will accuse us. Instead we should be joining hands and supporting one another through this life as we all struggle, openly and with confidence, knowing that Jesus has provided grace for the trip

  99. Lin

    Here is a question based on your excellent comment. No comments from either political persuasion. I am trying to make a theological point, not a politcial endorsement.

    Suppose that Michele Bachmann attended a authoritarian, patriarchal church. And there was a Sunday School class that planned to explore the role of Christian in politics. Now, there was a typical patriarch who owned a bakery and he wanted to teach it because he has “read” a lot. So ,he is given the job because he is a male yet knows nothing about the subject. Why shouldn’t Bachmann teach such a course? And how would a man who heard her talks about her experiences be in sin?

  100. Elastigirl

    I say find some nice people who understand grace to go on picnics with! For example, I can be a lot of fun on an outing.

  101. Eagle

    I believe that you are correct. Legalism has reentered the system through the back door of the Calvinistas. And there were a few guys I dated who needed to listen to me more than some of their male acquaintances. Good night! Cojones do not guarantee Christian insight. I know, I met some.

  102. Eagle

    i wrote a note to one pastor in which i said that his insistence on young earth creationism was causing some to fall from the faith. he claimed that his “research” did not indicate it. (Fell down on the ground and laughed hysterically). What research? And I happen to know a bunch of young people who have left the faith over this issue because they have been taught they must believe this in order to be a real Christian. Legalism causes terrible pain and causes people to leave the faith.

    As for number 1-4, all would be welcomed at my church. Have you read the letters from a former drug addicted prisoner on this site? It was my pastor who picked two guys up from the jail and brought them to Sunday school. Also, our Sunday school goes to the prison to conduct services for those who cannot get temporary releases. We are out here, promise!

  103. (All caps are for emphasis and highlighting – never yelling)

    Dee, Jesus is the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the WORLD. Sin is what rejects Christ. Deception is what rejects Christ. Truth and righteousness never reject Christ. Jesus said from the cross, “Father forgive them, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.”

    Sin brings deception and ignorance of God and Christ. Jesus came to set the captives free. They will be set free to love God, not forced to love God. NO ONE will be kicking and screaming except in joy while they are dancing in their new found freedom from sin.

    Romans 6:7 says, “He who has died has been freed from sin.” There is no more sin in the resurrection. No more deception, no more rebellion, and no more rejection of Christ.

  104. Lin

    I think Eagle was concerned that the average SGM type church would shy away from these guys coming to church to hear the Gospel. It could give them a bad image. My pastor used to pick up two guys from jail to come to Sunday school. You can read the Letters from Prison by Tommy. He came to know the love of Jesus and is transformed.

    I remember a guy who went to one of my churches years ago. he stopped doing drugs and was clean for several years. He then slipped and had problems for a few months but cleaned himself up because he was called on it and then given the support to do the right thing.

    Here is an interesting question. You have members of a church and then you have the nonmembers who attend. Should we have the same rules for both? So, could it be possible for an unrepentant alcoholic to attend year after year as a nonmember with the hopes that one day he would finally hear the truth so long as he doesn’t disrupt the services? If he isn’t allowed to stay, he would not hear the message at the local watering hole. So his chances of hearing truth would lessen. Thoughts?

  105. Evie

    You said” He is the head of the church in the sense a river has a head or source. Christ is the source of life to the church, and in being connected to the head means we are animated with His life. Out of that life, we, the members of the Body, carry on the work of the head and fulfill his Will. It is our duty to act. ”

    Incredible visual-well said!

  106. Nickname

    You said “Anyway, I believe my aversion to SGM-ese was due, in part, to my previous exposure to The Way’s usage of loaded language — eerily similar in some ways, though the actual wording differs.”

    I think you hit on something important here. Authoritarianism acts the same whether within the orthodox faith or not. I reviewed a book on this site called “Favorite Wife” written by a woman who was made a polygamist’s wife in the 1960s. I remarked then how much the polygamist leaders sounded so much like today’s Calvinistas. The theology of the nature of God was different but the interpretation of certain passages assured the same outcome.

  107. Amanda

    Thank you for weighing in on this subject. Your personal experience seems to parallel accounts that I have read and had relayed to me. I believe the authoritarianism is not only abusive in the here and now but may have eternal consequences. I hope that there are a few Calvinistas reading who will take heed. But, I have little hope. They are so cocksure of their theology that they cannot conceive that they might have it wrong. And beside, they have nothing to worry about. They believe these people were never Christians anyway. No harm, no foul.

  108. Hi, Eagle.

    I have, in fact, found a church that is truly good. Even great. All of the folks you describe above would be absolutely and completely welcomed. It’s an Assembly of God church — we didn’t go in search of an AOG church specifically, but a friend invited us and to my complete and utter astonishment,… i liked it. And I liked it more. (it is extremely sincere & agenda-free, as are the people).

    I think this denomination has very little in common with the perspectives of the church(es) you’ve described. Women are treated as equals. Things are so much more relaxed & very reasonable compared to what you describe. We’re in California, which has a different cultural climate, too.

    Perhaps if you steer clear of this calvinist / reformed thing, there are other types of churches that would not compromise your integrity.

  109. Dee,

    As far as people who understand grace to go on picnics with — since removing myself from “church” for a few years, I’ve made a number of friends who don’t attend and aren’t religious at all. They are the kindest, most real and sincere people I’ve ever known. And such pleasant company. Friends I can count on.

    If grace means something like “I see you, I know you, I accept you”, they understand and embrace it fully. They haven’t had the complex filters imposed on them.

  110. Elastigirl

    You would really enjoy a picnic with me. I make great blueberry pie and can tell really good jokes.

  111. Nothin’ But’ —

    Ephesians 1 — Ooooo — so rich! Ridiculous that this isn’t more of the focus of the christian loudmouths these days.

    Just highlighting some of my favorite parts:

    who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

    …my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,

    18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

    Absolutely radical.

    But perhaps you wanted to comment on “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”

    Also radical.

  112. Elastigirl – YOU should teach Ephesians 1 this Sunday at your church! Will they let you?

  113. Ron S —

    Marketing and re-branding. Reminds me of high school. Even Jr. High. Heck, it’s just like my 4th grade son and the image he’s trying to craft for himself (skateboard, knit cap, unbuttoned shirt, hands in pockets, etc.). I give him a pass since he’s only 9 and this is what 9 year olds do. These silly grown ups get no pass, in fact I require them to stand in the corner with their noses on the wall for 25 minutes!

    Now back to what’s important:

    Why did the elephant sit on the marshmallow?

  114. Nothin’ But’ —

    I’d have to demonstrate that i’d be capable, but they’d create whatever opportunities necessary to make that happen.

  115. The elephant sat on the marshmallo to keep from falling into the hot chocolate.

    How come elephants don’t smoke?

    Because they cannot fit their butts into the ashtray.

  116. Nothin’ But’ —

    you’re very kind. But a well-thought out 30 minute presentation is a whole different kettle of fish. My mommy life is all about safety, predictability, avoiding risk, sorting & folding myriad clothes, and trying & hoping for that full night’s sleep (in a shot for success in keeping my kids alive & well). Your suggestion would require more of my brain than I’ve accessed in at least 10 years.

    Now what was the point of this post again? It can’t have been elephants & marshmallows, can it?

  117. Nothin’ But’ you did it! You had the right answer! Which is, of course, the only reason why anyone should sit on a marshmallow on purpose.

    Why are elephants gray large and wrinkled?

  118. Elastigirl – where does the Bible say that a teaching need to be 30 minutes? There is no minimum time nor maximum time. So do a 2 1/2 minute teaching. Better yet, just read the entire chapter and let the Holy Spirit do the teaching part!

  119. Nothin’ But’ — i have to admit, you are making some sense here. But you see, when i say my life’s become all about safety, predictability, avoiding risk, the mundane & the sleepless… public speaking is kind of like Mt. Everest.

    But it’s a thought worth entertaining.

  120. Ron S
    Frankly I am appalled by this video. These guys all claim that they are brothers. Perry Noble is in the mix along with Furtick and then add Driscoll. What in the world is Platt doing in this mess? Dismay!

  121. The “Elephant Room” website:

    where, apparently, you can order the DVD set for a mere $49.95. At first I thought it was an odd mix of names, but on second thought, they are all big name mega-church pastors, at least half of whom have had serious accusations of abuse and authoritarianism leveled against them. Perhaps they have more in common after all.

  122. Dee — ah so, the nurse answer. You tell good joke answers, too.

    Here, i’ll reserve this one for you:

    Why are elephants gray large & wrinkled?

  123. Elastigirl

    Because if they were small, white and smooth, they would be Tylenol with codeine and would need to stay in pharmacies because they would be controlled substances and the pharmacists refuse to shovel waste?

  124. Amanda

    For these guys to have Perry noble in the mix, shows a singular lack of understanding of the devolution of the post-evangelical church. Please go to this link
    and go to the start of the blog and read this man’s story to see what Noble did to him. In my opinion this is one of the worst cases of abuse that I have ever read. FBC Jax Watchdog regularly features Noble on his site because Noble is so shocking and disgusting. He and Driscoll deserve one another.

    As for Furtick, he lives in my neck of the wood and Deb and I are planning a road trip to his church. This is another guy who gives me the heebie jeebies. In fact, if this comment is read by one of his flock, get ready for the swords.

    David Platt demeans himself by being part of this group. However, someone says that Platt is not treated well in this series. I don’t know because I refuse to pay one dime for nonsense.Eventually the stuff will leak and we will review it. I can assure you, there will be a pile of garbage with some of these guys.

    Furtick and Noble-memorize these names-very, very weird.

  125. Dee —

    Right again! Well, my answer has always been “because if they were small, white & round they’d be aspirin.” But your extended version is much more interesting.

    Tell you what, if ever I’m in North Carolina, I’ll look you up, and if ever you’re in the San Fran Bay area look me up and then we can have our picnic. You bring the pie & your jokes, I’ll bring fried chicken (I’ve told all my jokes now) and all the pretty & clever picnic gear that I don’t have yet.

    Oh, one more I forgot:

    What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming?

  126. Dee’s Opinion only:
    “Here is what is really happening and it is patently clear. This is based on flawed theology that is founded in extreme authoritarianism which is based in a flawed perspective on Calvinism. They believe in the doctrine of ESS which is a way to marginalize about 50% of the members of most churches (if not more). This doctrine was invented in order that men might be able to believe that they are truly in charge for eternity. Complementarianism has been sold as a separate but equal concept. This didn’t work in race relations and it doesn’t work in churches in which the application of this flawed theology relegates women to a submissive posture that is supposed to continue in spite of abuse.”

    Just another Op-Ed

  127. Hi Dee,
    Matt Chandler said in that clip addressing his fellow elephants: “I don’t care what anybody says, but the pulpit drives the church”.

    I heard that weeks ago–was t.o.t.a.l.l.y creeped out.Seriously, how do you top that !

    Btw i just love the teams’ graciousness in letting “unorthodox” views go uncensored on the site. As a non-trinitarian ( who sleeps well at night ), I find that highly refreshing. This is God we’re talking about after-all, the source of all being, in whose presence none can stand. My my finite mind cannot honestly claim to have apprehend the ineffable. The journey continues…

  128. Deb said “Here is my general “observation” about the Dever/Mahaney association. I am greatly disturbed that Mark and CJ have cultivated such a close friendship over the past 13 or 15 years or however long it’s been given the information we are now discovering about Mahaney.”

    Maybe I am not undestanding this remark in context. I would think people are free to choose whomever they want to be friends with. I can’t imagine my current pastor saying he wouldn’t be friends with someone else regardless of their views. There are essentials and non essentials of the faith. Polity is not one of those essentials. Jesus was the friend of harlots and tax collectors.

    Sometimes, well a lot of the time, I think you guys way over analyze stuff.

  129. Sheto

    Perhaps you have not read the reason why this of interest to us. We have received some interesting emails from those who do. We are interested in HISTORY. We want to explore the factors in the changes in theology at SGM. This time frame is important.

    Also BFFs cannot be trusted to hold each other accountable. Especially if BFFs are both interested in authoritarianism.

  130. Sorry I’m late to the conversation, but I was so glad to find someone asking questions about Mark Dever, CHBC, and 9 marks and their relationship to the CJM debacle. I tried to post some comments and questions to the 9 marks blog. The comments were on for about a day, they gained some traction, and were getting responses, and then poof! they all disappeared (sort of like the the broken links-cover up mode).

    I have been around CHBC and have been troubled by the set up. I think the constant entourage that Dever has developed of Mark wannabees and sycophants (young men who like to read books, who want to have elbow patches on their tweed jackets, and who have not climbed as high on the ladder in the secular world and turned to religion) is creepy, even cultic. How long till there is a CHBC-Survivors or CHBC-Refuge blog?

    Here were the sorts of questions I was posting that were yanked:

    1. Given that Josh Harris and CLC have expressed dismay that CJM did not consult them in his decision to attend CHBC and these elders (in the church where CJM is a member) would prefer that he attend their church during his “break” from ministry, how can CHBC be welcoming him to worship with their church? Is this not hypocritical? Does Dever have one standard for his chums and another for every one else?

    2. Would 9 marks please offer an open financial accouting of how much money CJM and SGM under his leadership have given to 9 marks over the years? Has this affected their motivation in caring for (protecting) CJM?

    3. Would Mark Dever please offer an open accounting of the finances of T4G (which has grown into a mult-million dollar enterprise)? Would he release the amount given in honoraia to conference speakers and organizers?


  131. I don’t want to deflate your conspiracy theory or anything, but if I am not mistaken, all 9marks interviews are broken links now.

  132. Mark

    Not into conspiracy theories. If you think that you have spotted one, let me know.
    Saying that someone is biased towards a friend is human nature.

  133. dee… What I meant is that you are putting far too much meaning in a broken link. Have you checked to see if other non-CJ interviews were not working as well?

  134. Jim–

    I’m glad that someone else can come in and give credit to what I saw there.

    Question: Why do you think that these men who haven’t climbed as high on the secular world try religion? Do you think it’s easier for them to gain clout and authoirty in an authoritarian church model? Sorta, you know, pet their egos, even if they believe they are doing all for the Glory of God?


    I think he was referring to a blog posting on the site and not an itnerview. Are all the blog postings and everything on the site a broken link as well? Also, he said that the comments were deleted, not that the links were broken. Is that correct, Jim?

    And Mark, if you read some of the other posts here about how Josh Harris was deleting comments on his blog, Dave Harvey (I think), Challies, Mohler and others were doing the same thing. They were all deleting dissenting comments from their blogs and FBs that asked them tough questions. Could it be that 9Marks is doing the same like their comrades when it comes to asking questions about Mahaney’s behavior, and this whole debacle?

  135. JIm

    Missed you comment-its been busy over here. Interesting thoughts. It is always important to open finances in order to belay suspicions. Why are pastors so afraid to let the people who contribute to their churches know their salary? Also, how much money has SGM/CJ given to CHBC.

  136. That’s a good question, Dee. How much money HAS SGM/CJ given to CHBC and/or T4G.

  137. NLR, no this blog post specifically mentions “9 marks interviews” and links to the mp3. And then he (and you) cast aspersions on the fact that the link is broken for these CJ-related interviews (hence suggesting a conspiracy of some sort). It is very irresponsible to do so without checking to see whether or not all the other non-CJ-related interviews also had the same sort of broken link error. It just goes to demonstrate the old saying, “to the man who only has a hammer, everything is a nail”.

  138. Mark–

    Please go re-read my statement and my questions. Then you will see that you are not correct in assuming what I am thinking. I said that Jim appears to have said his comments were deleted from the blog. Not that the post itself was deleted. He said it was AKIN to situations where links have been broken on other blogs dealing wtih this matter to cover-up dissention. He did NOT say that 9 Marks broke any links. He simply said that the comments regarding his questions were deleted.

    I never said that the links were broken, and I did not say they were broken because of that. I said that Jim isn’t far off base thinking that it’s a POSSIBILITY considering what others are doing who are related to CJ and this whole debacle. They have erased dissenting comments and conversations from their blogs and only have kept the “nice” ones.

    THAT was what I was saying. I hope that clears it up for you. Please don’t waste your quotes on me, especially when they do not apply.

  139. Mark

    Please dialogue instead of condemn. Note NLR’s response. Also, you have painted everyone with a broad brush. Please tell me where TWW has posted, in our articles, conspiracy theories.

  140. To those who are bothered by the deletion of comments on 9marks…

    Do you seriously believe that a ministry is going to allow blog comments which call into question or otherwise make controversial statements about the character of one of their friends to exist especially when, from what I’ve seen at least, most if not all of them are off-topic from the post their are posted into?

    It would take incredible tunnel vision and narrow mindedness to assume that 9marks or any Christian ministry is going to allow accusations or accusative/interrogative questions (whether true or false) to be interspersed within other content on their blog. Even if the questions/issues/problems are 100% valid, a blog simply is not the correct forum to address such issues as the character of a minister. Do you think that 9 marks is going to allow what it believes should be resolved by God-ordained authorities in the church to be duked out on its blog comments area? If so, you are incredibly naive.

  141. Mark, so then they are not so humble and teachable at 9 marks.

    “God ordained authority”? Who might that be? Can’t find that in my Bible anywhere.

  142. Mark–

    I like how you threw God-ordained in there to “authenticate” what is being done. You should know that the churches authorities don’t have any real “authority”, not even by Scriptural standards. Christ is the only authority in the church. Everyone else, a servant. But the depth of your comment shows me completely where you are coming from and so therefore, we can drop this argument. I get you.

    And to answer your question, I believe thaat any ministry with NOTHING TO HIDE, AND NO FACE TO SAVE, would gladly allow dissention in any media/coimmunity format that would allow it and graciously provide reason for their behavior. You can’t put up a blog and expect to engage the public with your beliefs and preaching to them, and telling them how to live their lives and not expect any response or interaction from that same public–especially if that public does not agree with what you are doing.

    If you put up a blog post about how CJ Mahaney is so great, and I then comment in that post that I dont think so because of 1,2 and 3, you should have nothing to hide adn no problem telling me why you think I’m wrong or defending your position. Don’t act like these guys don’t use social media to preach and tell people how to think, feel and believe, and also engage their public. The pulpit is not the only place they are doing it. And if you think that Facebook, Twitter, blogs and everything else they are using is “God-ordained” then I think you’re wrong.

    I’m not naive because I dont think 9Marks or any other ministry, SGM, Josh Harris, Al Mohler or anyone else who is always criticizing other churches and preachers, and parachurch ministries to take any heat directed towards them in public oopen forum–the same forums they use to diss and bring to light of everyone else’s failings. Who would EVER be so naive to think that. Nevertheless, they could have shown us something different by not running away and hiding the proof that they were cowards. Fortunately, many people have the screenshots and preserved broken links to prove that your so-called God-ordained authorities in their God-ordained pulpits are erasing comments off their blogs left and right. Not because of the forum. But because they dont want to answer the questions. Because the truth is very ugly.

  143. Mark

    I am not sure who is the one who is naive here. We all have our blind spots, even when we have the theology down pat. The world sees what is happening and has questions. Your pastor seeks recognition for CHBC. “Look at us to see Jesus.” But, what if those who look do not see Jesus? What if they see what appears to be hypocrisy or favoritism?

    Jesus was never afraid to face controversy dead on. Why not take the criticism and respond with your own side of the story? For example, here you are on this blog, telling us what you think. We allow it. I have had atheists, agnostics, universalists, along with very strong critics take issue with out thinking.

    Long ago, Bill Cobey, an exCongressman from Nc (R) challenged me to see if I could write in such a way that liberal newspapers, and those who would be inclined to disagree with me, would find my thinking so intriguing that they would print my letters. And guess what! 90% of my submitted letters have been published in the liberal media.

    I think the church, all churches, must understand that tightly controlled speeches and appearances are no longer able to withstand critique. You cannot manage what the world sees. Why not, instead, answer to what the world perceives? The church is used to functioning in a vacuum. But, the seal was broken by the internet.

    I have often smiled at the response of churches to criticism. If i were in charge, but I know I am a woman and easily deceived, I would respond very differently and I think it would be successful. However, I am not in the habit of giving some clever suggestions to people who write me off as naive.

    As for narrow mindedness…Good Night! It is like a Vulcan calling the grass green!

  144. Dee,

    “Your pastor seeks recognition for CHBC”

    What are you referring too? My Pastor has no relationship with CHBC.

  145. NLR said:

    “I like how you threw God-ordained in there to “authenticate” what is being done. You should know that the churches authorities don’t have any real “authority”, not even by Scriptural standards. Christ is the only authority in the church. Everyone else, a servant. But the depth of your comment shows me completely where you are coming from and so therefore, we can drop this argument. I get you. ”

    Are you serious?

    3 John 1:9 – “I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.”

    Titus 2:15 – “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

  146. Mark

    My apologies. I am trying to get my son ready for college fro tomorrow, write a post and carefully read all who are to comment on this blog. They are all important to me. I misread your comment as one who is a member of CHBC.

    So, just reword what I said. Mark Dever and CJ Mahaney both try to get recognition for their various churches. Perhaps your pastor does the same? The rest of my comment still stands.

  147. NLR,

    More verses:

    “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” – I Tim 5:17

    “For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.” – II Cor 13:10

    God has placed leaders in the church and vested them with authority. It is delegated authority that should be a servant-type of leadership (just like the authority of the government and parents), but it is real authority none the less.

    NLR, apart from whether any particular leader is God-ordained. I personally challenge you and plead with you to submit to the Scriptures and acknowledge that God ordains leaders for His church and delegates them real authority.

  148. Hi Mark,

    3 John 1:9 “I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.” (NASB)

    There is no word “authority” in the Greek text. The ESV translation is incorrect. None of the other major translations say “authority”.

    And here are “Barnes Notes” on Titus 2:15: “The sense here is, he was to do it decidedly, without ambiguity, without compromise, and without keeping anything back. He was to state these things not as being advice or counsel, but as the requirement of God.”

    So Titus 2:15 was not talking about any authority he had over anyone else. He was speaking about the authority of God’s word, not Titus’s authority.

  149. Mark
    Many of those guys had day jobs and then served the church. They should be worthy of double honor.How many pastors today, especially in the league we are discussing, labor at a day job, building tents and then pastor churches. Come to think of it, Paul built tents, went on missionary journeys and kept things cool at the nascent church. Not too many Paul’s around these days, are there? Wait, CJ was a Head Apostle until a year ago, wasn’t he?

    I would be most careful with comparing today’s pastors to the nascent church.Not too many Pauls around. They all get triple honor (salaries, book deals and speaking honorariums) and live pretty well from what I can see. In fact, they remind a bit more of the Pharisees of that day.

  150. Mark,

    Matthew 23:10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.” (NASB)

    2Co 13:10 “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power that the Lord gave me to enlightenment and not to destruction.” (NSB)

    There are no scriptures that give one Christian authority over another Christian. You have incorrectly interpreted all of the Scriptures you quoted.

  151. Dee, C J is the one who made the ESV the Bible translation du jour. I really wish that churches would encourage folks to at least get an interlinear translation or a real good word for word literal translation. We have 100’s of English translations now. Why is that? Why the need for so many translations, revisions, paraphrases, etc? I do not want to trust a man nor a group of men to give me their take on what the Greek to English might look like. They obviously do not all agree. I want to examine the original text for myself.

  152. Dee, just to clarify – the comment about C J and the ESV was in regards to SGM.

  153. Mark is challenging what I wrote in the blog post:

    “Why are there missing audio files on the 9 Marks website? Has Mark Dever been taking lessons from Mark Driscoll on how to remove incriminating evidence? Why are these resources no longer available? It’s a conundrum…”

    I listened to one of these interviews TWICE some time ago, so I have a pretty good idea why the links have been disabled. The conversation was so “chummy” that it demonstrated how close Dever and Mahaney are. There is no way Mark Dever can be objective regarding his buddy, whom he is supposed to be holding accountable.

    More missing comments? This time from 9 Marks. Hmmmm….

  154. I do not agree with all that website says, but it has some good points and history of the shepherding movement.

  155. Deb

    Ah, yes, the famous Driscoll Song of Solomon message in Scotland. It’s gone missing, just like the machete.

  156. Mark–

    You need to go back and check the original Greek and Hebrew. The words authority, rule and headship are NOT in the NT. They are not a literal translation and do not convey the original Greek meanings and are neither in the proper voice structure of the original languages. I could go on further but I’m afraid I’d be wasting my time. Anyways, pleading with me to submit to God is different than pleading with me to submit to an errant and uninspired interpretation of Scrioture. You are doing the later and I must decline. Thanks though.

  157. Dee,

    Let’s come up with a phrase that combines the machete fabrication and the blog comments that get deleted on Calvinsta blogs.

    Machete Massacre might work for those comments that get the axe…

  158. “Dee, C J is the one who made the ESV the Bible translation du jour. I really wish that churches would encourage folks to at least get an interlinear translation or a real good word for word literal translation.”

    And I thought it was Mohler. :o) Actually, the neo Reformed folks are totally pushing it as the most “literal” translation which cracks me up.

    Get educated about the ESV, friends. Don’t just listen to the celebs on it. A great paper written by Bible Translator, Mark Strauss gives some insight into several ESV problems. Some of them are very funny.

    and his explanation:

    Actually, we would all be better off reading the interlinear and checking the range of Greek word meanings with the context. Remember, the translators were NOT inspired by the Holy Spirit like the messenger who originally wrote it down. You are promised the HOly Spirit for guidance, wisdom and understanding. You don’t need Grudem, Mohler, CJ or Mark Dever. You have the best teacher in the HOly Spirit. The Word tells us that.

    We have no more excuses now that free study tools are free and at our fingertips. To be honest, if I have to trust a human on bible translations, I trust Gordon Fee more than I would ever trust Grudem,Mohler or any of the ESV translators. And he was one of the TNIV translators. And we all know what they did to the TNIV. Lied to you about it. And it worked because people are so ignorant about the Word.

    Like Poor Mark who comes here with his message of obey leaders. If Mark used one iota of logic he would realize the problem with his wrong interpretation of such proof texts. I mean, is CJ not exhibit A? How about Ted Haggard? Jimmy Swaggert? The list is long.

  159. One more thing…whenever you hear a pastor use the word “headship”, run for the door. And ask yourself…does he ever use armship? Footship? Eyeship? Of course not. He is going along with the made up word that fits the interpretation of the proof texts they love so much for their pet doctrines.

    “Head” does not denote authority over in Greek. It is a head/body metaphor. And it pays to learn what that culture believed about the head on the body in the first century. It is very illuminating. It is not at all what we think of as “head” now.

  160. “I listened to one of these interviews TWICE some time ago, so I have a pretty good idea why the links have been disabled. The conversation was so “chummy” that it demonstrated how close Dever and Mahaney are. There is no way Mark Dever can be objective regarding his buddy, whom he is supposed to be holding accountable”

    And let us not forget that Dever is helping CJ be a hypocrite. SGM required pastors being disciplined to stay in their local church during that process. That was the rule and now it does not apply to CJ. He is above his own rules that HE SAID were biblical

    Wonder what other rules Dever is willing to break for his buddies that are applied to other, lesser beings, with no titles?

  161. Lin–

    What did they lie about with the TNIV? I’m really confused as to wHat bible version I should read.

  162. Lin, I very much enjoy the writings of Gordon Fee. He is one of the best out there. I agree that he is much better than most (if not all) of the Reformed Big Dogs. In fact, the entire time I was in SGM, I do not remember C J saying one word about the Greek text. In fact he pretty much had to ignore it to butcher Hebrews 13:17 the way he did (all to his advantage of course).

    We need more men like Gordon Fee out there who expound on the Greek text and teach you how to read the Bible for yourself. There are also some really good commentaries that give you a variety of possible translations of the Greek and Hebrew text. “Word Biblical Commentary” is one such example. Very expensive but well worth it.

  163. NLR, there is an excellent free online Bible program with numerous translations, Greek Interlinears, etc. Go to e-sword and download the program. It is oustanding! No cost whatsoever.

    I like Rotherham Emphasised Bible and the Concordant Literal Version.

  164. NLR, here is another good translation – the New Simplified Bible.

    Here is their translation of Matthew 5:22

    Mat 5:22 “Now I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother [without cause] shall be guilty before the court. Whoever speaks to his brother with words of contempt shall receive condemnation before the Sanhedrin [Supreme Court]. Curse your brother and you will be guilty enough to be destroyed by fire, with the burning trash, at the Valley of Hinnom, outside of Jerusalem (Greek: Gehenna).”

    This is Jesus’s very first reference to “Hell” in the Gospels. As is very clear from this translation, Jesus was warning of the death penalty, with the body then being burned in the garbage dump of Gehenna. Nothing whatsoever to do with any so called “Hell”.

    Wanna fight some more? 🙂

  165. NLR, I also use “scripture4all” which is a free version of the interlinear.

    I use all kinds of translations. It is hard to explain but i think once you have the Holy Spirit, He will guide you on what you need to dig deeper on. They way many use bad translation (of a proof text) to teach their pet doctrines means there are contradictions in the Word and we both know that is not true.

    You have witnessed a contradiction in this thread by Mark. You are aware of it, obviously. But we have to ask why Mark believes a contradiction? Because he does not understand what these proof texts mean in context. Or, does he have the thick filter of these teachers? Is he following man? Or he might be an up and coming preacher who wants authority or thinks there is such an animal as a “servant leader” in the Body. (There are only the Holy lowly)

    A leader in the NT Body is not the same thing we think of when we think of “leader” today. That is one example. If we take his interpretation then other passages are contradicted. Never mind all the “one anothers”, not lording it over, first will be last…but even obscure ones such as Eph 5:21 which they try so hard to say does not apply tocertain believers.

    They hate the TNIV because it includes females as receiving the full inheritance of our Savior. And they must have someone to lord it over in the Body.

    Mark is very wrong when he connects authority in the Body to authority in the civil sphere. Jesus said the opposite. The civil sphere model in the NT was the Gentile system which is “chain of being” and hierarchical. Our military is modeled after it. Jesus said it was a sin to for us to operate this way with each other.

    Mark probably thinks “elders” have authority in the Body. Only Christ does. Elders model the humble sanctification and brokeness they have gone through. They are mature. They would look like losers to most of the guys who are the big Christian leaders today. They would not recognize a true “elder”.

  166. Just for the record for those reading here who might be new.

    I am NOT a univeralist. NBTT tries to hijack every thread to a treatise on why there is no hell or eternal punishment. NBTT has been asked nicely by the blog hosts and others to refrain from hijacking every single thread for his topic.

    I wish he would refrain because he has some great insights into polity

  167. Hi Lin, the reason that I talk about Hell so much, is the same reason people talk about child abuse, spiritual abuse, wife and female abuse, abuses of authority, etc etc. Most of the posts on this blog concern abuses. I cannot think of a more abusive teaching than if you do not accept Christ, then God will torture and torment you for eternity in Hell. No chance of getting out no matter how hard you scream or cry. God’s mercy does NOT endure forever because He is some kind of twisted and evil eternal terrorist for those who do not bow to Him. PURE BLASPHEMY!

    So yes, I am very passionate about correcting this hideous spiritual abuse. It is a gross perversion of the true Gospel of the FINISHED work of Jesus Christ – the Savior of the WORLD!

    I am fed up with this perverted doctrine of demons and the Scripture twisting that takes place. Christians are in torment because they believe their unsaved loved ones are going to be tormented in Hell for eternity. That is absolutely disgusting that they have to be in such turmoil over that lie.

  168. NBTT, you have been asked nicely by several people, including the blog hosts. Lots of smart, saved people disagree with you. You won’t change our minds and we won’t change yours, but you insist on antagonizing. I just want to make sure new people reading understand what has gone on in most of the threads.

  169. Lin, Lots of smart, saved people disagree with you also, and on many topics. So does that mean you should just keep quiet about polity, women’s equality, abusive authority, or any other subject that you are rightfully concerned about? Should Martin Luther have kept quiet because the Catholic Church disagreed with him.

    I do not want to change your mind. I simply want you to examine the Scriptures in depth about this false and perverse doctrine of demons. God changed my mind, and He can change yours too. I believed in Hell for over 30 years of my Christian walk. The Holy Spirit changes minds and hearts, not me. But thank God for people like Martin Luther who refused to be silenced by the Catholic Church bullies who threatened to kill him.

  170. NBTT–

    Tanks for the earlier recommendations…

    BUT you did just hijack this to insert your views again. This blog isn’t about that topic, and you know that. You also know that wat Lin is discussing is. I told you yesterday that it was unnecessary for you to make that statement and those verses nice again. If you REALLY want a forum for your teachings, why don’t you start a blog? I would. If you really have that much to say, then do it. It would satisfy you in various ways and you willalso have people who want to discuss it further.

    I do believe we ave been patient, kind and even have considered what you are saying but now you’re just starting to get on my nerves and your words, clanging cymbals.

    Dude, chill out. Seriously. And I say this in the most calm relaxed way. I dont want to start ignoring your posts tge way I do others.

  171. You also need to stop assuming that people have NOT examined those Scriptures or that this is the first encounter anyone has had to learn about or consider universalism.

  172. I should chill out while Christians accuse God of being an eternal terrorist who is worse than Hitler? Hell needs to chill (pun – get it)? Should people who are upset about child abuse chill also?

  173. Man, you heard what I said. Stop whining like a little kid and go do your thing. What is stopping you? Do you know how I found this blog? Because Dee and Deb both posted on other blogs and I clicked on their names to see what they were about. I never left because they held their own in their own right and had interesting shit to say. You could do the same thing. Stop piggybacking on their stage and make one for yourself. Do your own hard work. You have good things to say but your manners are starting to suck and ruin and credibility you seek.

  174. NLR, go start your own blog if that is your thing. Quit telling me what to do. I do not care what you think about my manners.

  175. Did Martin Luther have “bad manners” when he confronted the Catholic Church? You bet your sweet ass he did! Thank God for his bad manners.

  176. So that’s all you could come up with is to tell me what I told you? You’re the one seeking a forum and stage to teach Universaism, not me. Apparently, you’ve also been told what you should do by the blog owners here as well. I’m not the one being banned from blogs, buddy. And I chose to give you constructive advice rather than telling you to bugger off! You’ve been placed n the ignore kist. DONT BOTER RESPONDING AFTER THIS BECAUSE I WILL NOT READ YOUR POST.

  177. Constructive advice???? Who are you kidding???? Give me a major break with your pathetic sewage. And don’t read my posts. I do not give a rats butt what you read or do not read. Good riddance to you and your sorry opinions.

    And don’t forget – Jesus loves you. 🙂

  178. NLR – do not read this post. PLEASE! Do not reads this post. Didn’t you hear what I just said – DO NOT READ THIS POST!

  179. NLR said, “Stop whining like a little kid” and then he turns around and whines like a little kid. Of course he will not be reading this, so he will never know what a hypocrite he has just proved himself to be. Too bad.

  180. Lin–

    Thanks for the links. I’ve been reading tge PDF on the TNIV. There are some funny ones in there. You always have good reading suggestions. THIS has been worth my time 😉

  181. Yes Lin, oh thank you, oh thank you. I will come back here and thank you just to show that other bad mannered person just how much I am going to ignore him. You know – that NBTT pest who keeps hijacking all the threads with his Universalism nonsense. But YOU are worth my time, but not him. NBTT is nothing but a lowlife sewer scum, so I will pretend I did not see his posts by writing back to you! Pretty clever of me, eh? I sure did fool that NBTT! What a loser that guy is.