Tomczak Sets the Record Straight

 "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

Larry Tomczak

The departure of Larry Tomczak from PDI (renamed Sovereign Grace Ministries) has always been somewhat of a mystery until now…  For those not familiar with him, Larry Tomczak took a young C.J. Mahaney under his wing back during the Jesus Movement (1970s) and together they founded a Bible study in the Washington, D.C. area called "Take and Give".  They attracted a large following which numbered into the thousands and eventually started a church in Gaithersburg, Maryland that is now called Covenant Life Church.  Mahaney became the pastor of the church.  They also established an outreach ministry called People of Destiny, which focused on church planting, and Tomczak led this effort.  He also served as pastor of Fairfax Covenant Church before relocating to Atlanta. (SGMers, if I don't have the history correct, please let me know.)

Next year Tomczak will be marking his 40th year of full-time ministry.  This milestone must be extremely important to him because he has finally decided to "tell the story of a painful turning point" in his life and ministry.  He and his wife Doris have just released a document via the internet entitled "THE TOMCZAK DEPARTURE FROM S.G.M. — WHAT REALLY HAPPENED"

I have always wondered about "the rest of the story", and the Tomczaks have decided to be transparent regarding what happened.  Here is an important excerpt from that document.

"Recently, I wrote a “Statement of Reconciliation” with CJ Mahaney, attempting to be as gracious and discrete as possible regarding specifics. But as more details surfaced on the Internet it became apparent that God wanted everything in the light. Our experience is not an isolated case. It is probably one of the most egregious and ignominious examples of deceit and abusive behavior surfacing in SGM at this time. But it did not create the crisis. Instead, it revealed how root issues have been ignored and left unaddressed for too long. May we all proceed in humility and mercy, mindful of Prov. 28:13, "He who conceals his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes his sin will obtain mercy."

After 24 years of service in the DC area with the “Take and Give Ministry” (TAG), co- founding Covenant Life Church in our home and then serving in leadership in Fairfax Covenant Church, I with my family departed disappointedly, yet hopefully, for better things in Atlanta in 1996. We knew for a number of years that I was being marginalized in Sovereign Grace Ministries (formerly People of Destiny International) and when differences with Reformed doctrine began surfacing, the tension only increased."

After going through a challenging situation with his son, which is explained in the document, Tomczak agrees to a "leave of absence"; however, he and his wife decided to leave the organization when "disingenuous public statements and letters" were sent nationwide which misrepresented what had actually happened.  Tomczak reveals the following: 

"I was publically slandered at Covenant Life Church, called a “liar” (with guests and non-believers present) as the leader declared, “I’d rather be dead than do what Larry Tomczak is doing!” Local leaders were affirmed leading to an almost unanimous standing ovation. My reputation built upon 25 years in ministry, was debased nationally and abroad. My “Seven Reasons for Departing PDI” were not conveyed and for 13 years this perception remained in the public domain, separating our family from many relatives, friends and leaders in the Body of Christ. It also resulted in serious financial repercussions for us as a family of six."

Who was the senior pastor at Covenant Life Church until he turned over the reins to Joshua Harris in 2004?  Why it was C.J. Mahaney.

As some of our readers know, Mahaney announced earlier this year that he and Larry Tomczak had finally reconciled after all these years.  Here's what Tomczak reveals in the document:

"For over a decade we tried to bring CJ and the apostolic team to account for the injustice, even enlisting nationally known leaders in the effort, but to no avail. Finally, in November of 2010 he consented."

Tomczak believes that the leadership culture in SGM has drifted from Biblical norms and that the senior leaders need to "step down for a season to be retooled for ministry according to 1 Peter 5 and 1 Timothy 3 standards.  He further states:  "Public repentance and public statements should be made along with restitution where appropriate."

Larry Tomczak concludes with the following post script:

"PS: Because the issues and contents of this statement have already been made public at church meetings and on the Internet for months, I sensed it was appropriate to release my story at this time. CJ and I are almost 40-year friends and our reconciliation statement still stands. In my study I keep a plaque he gave me decades ago. On it are the words: “My Brother, I would not be the man I am without your care and example. I am eternally indebted to you. Your Yokefellow, CJ.” I would add: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:6)"

We highly encourage you to read this well thought out document by Larry and Doris Tomczak.  You can access it here.  We will have much more to say about this development in an upcoming post.

Lydia's Corner:  Esther 1:1-3:15   1 Corinthians 11:17-34   Psalm 35:17-28   Proverbs 21:19-20


Tomczak Sets the Record Straight — 68 Comments

  1. … Larry T.’s roots in the shepherding movement were/are (afaik) pretty deep, so I think this is *all* a very tangled mess. (You can see the shepherding/discipleship movement stuff clearly in LT’s early writing.)

  2. numo,

    Glad you brought this up. Shepherding was extremely harmful to so many (and still is). Were you around when we posted several articles on the shepherding movement?

  3. Many christians are a joke, and are not to be taken seriously.

    This is apparent to all, whether religiously persuaded or not.

    (but best not to make God guilty by association — like I did — it was rather pointless)

  4. This is not really new news for some of us. But it confirms that the infection has been festering for many years. It is a bit nauseating that Larry (and others) have not done more to put a stop to the abuses. I’m getting the feeling, though, that these relationships are very much the same as a woman in an abusive relationship. They need to just get out and go be safe somewhere. After being beat down over and over, the abused learns to be quiet and not raise the hackles of the abuser because doing so just leads to further abuse. The only option is to flee and hide.

    I have a picture of an abused woman seeing her ex abuser with a new woman some months after she has gone into hiding. She watches from across the street crying as she sees the new woman, who is not aware of her future, but their is nothing the formerly abused can do – she is too frightened to walk across the street and give a warning.

    If the abused cannot and/or won’t stand up against their abusers and, at the same time, the abusers are being confirmed and placated by their peers (this happens with abused women as well), then who or what stops the cycle? The members of SGM churches who see what is going on must do something.

    It is disappointing/disgusting that the peers of such leaders do nothing but coddle them. Where is Driscoll now with his so-called “masculine love?” Where is Piper speaking up for the abused? Has anyone heard of ANY peer of the SGM group speaking up, even to ask “Hey, what’s going on over there?” Seriously, has anyone heard even a whisper from a Calvanista/Reformed/Gospel Coalition big wig?

    Hmmm – I guess the night I abruptly awoke to a woman screaming with fear in the house behind us, I should have just rolled over and gone back to sleep on my nice soft pillow??

    Yep – that’s some real “masculine love” going on . . . .

  5. Seneca –

    They (Piper included) attend each others conferences, endorse and sell each others books, stand up in front of thousands and pat each other on the back. That group would not include Tomczak for the last 13 or so years.

    It would be like someone patting the abusive husband on the back and saying what a great guy he was when Mrs. is standing there with a black eye and you saw her running up the street earlier in the day trying to escape her angry husband.

  6. Eagle

    You write…
    “This is why the Neo-reformed crowd is corrupt.”

    I agree with most of your assesment and would like to add “A Little bit Extra.” 🙂

    In my experience… Today “The Whole Religious System” is “Tottally Corrupt.” Oy Vey! 🙁
    NOT the people. Most are in bondage to the traditions that nullify God’s word. Mk 7:13.

    Corrupt – Dictionary

    1- showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.

    2- in a state of decay; rotten or putrid.

    3- debased or made unreliable by errors or alterations.

    Seems to me – “The Whole Religious System,” – for the past 1700 years, with the
    multiple thousands of denominations, NOT in the Bible, movements, heirarchy,
    traditions of men, NOT in the Bible, creating “Titles” and “Positions” NOT in the Bible,
    has been, and is, “Tottally Corrupt.” (Please don’t hate the messenger…) 😉

    Filled with those who are after money and personal gain and have made
    the system (Today’s so-called church.) unreliable by errors or alterations to
    the Bible, and how the Bible describes – “the Church of God.” And because of
    these errors and alterations the sytem is in a state of decay; rotten and putrid.

    In my experience…
    When folks support, with finances and attendance, “a Corrupt Religious System,”
    they just encourage those with the “Titles” – the power, profit and prestige,
    to continue to – perpertrate the myth – that believers should “Go To Church.”
    And when they go to church – they are going to “the Church of God” and now
    they are to submit to the “church leaders,” their “God Ordained Authority,”
    as if submitting to God Himself. 🙁

    In the Bible – did anyone ever – Go to church?
    Did anyone ever – submit to a Pastor/Reverend?

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  7. This is interesting to read Larry Tomczak’s recent statement. Below is a comment I posted on SGM Survivors reporting on what I heard Larry say about CJ Mahaney in late July which was the same month Brent’s documents were released.

    “First Larry taught on Psalm 126. This Psalm includes a section that talks about first sowing in tears (weeping) and then reaping in joy. Larry said that what 13 years of waiting for reconciliation with C.J. is an example of what this Psalm talks about. There was “weeping” but it eventually lead to reaping with joy.

    Larry went on to explain that God has a certain cycle that we have to learn to cooperate with. That is, things don’t always happen in the speed we are use to in this day and age of a lot of things being fast. There has to be patience. I would add that we need to remember this when we cry out for change within SGM. It may be a cycle and we don’t know God’s cycle on this or what God may choose to do.

    Larry thanked Charles Schmidt for the input he gave during the early years of the church that Larry and C.J. established (now CLC). This included keeping Larry and C.J. on the right track. Larry went on to talk about the falling out Larry and C.J. had with Charles Schmidt and the eventual reconciliation that Larry had with Charles. It was something that Larry didn’t think would ever occur.

    Larry went on to talk about his reconciliation with C.J. Mahaney. Larry indicated that after 13 years of repeated appeals, C.J. finally responded late last year. Mahaney first met with Larry, then another meeting happened with Larry and Larry’s wife Doris, then a meeting with Doris’s parents, and then a meeting with one of Larry’s children. Larry said Mahaney “in humility was listening” and talked about Mahaney’s “pathway of humility with a contrite heart asking forgiveness clearing the decks.”

    Larry said he wrote up a testimonial of this reconciliation and was posted online and within 48 hours of this testimonial being posted, C.J. was acknowledging God’s “further dealings” and he was stepping down and taking a temporary leave of absence.
    Larry said that he had talked repeatedly with C.J. about C.J.’s stepping down. Larry indicated that C.J. was going through a time of weeping but C.J. knows that he is in a place where godly sorrow (weeping) leads to repentance and if C.J. could “stand the pull” of all of this then God would pull C.J. through this. Larry indicated that sadly many “check out” when this happens. Larry said that C.J. would be the first to say, if he was here, “please be patient with me God isn’t finished with me yet and there is more that God yet intends to do. “

    Larry said he also talked to one of the (SGM) Leaders this past week and the leader was saying let happen whatever needs to happen and let God refine us.”

    What a contrast in what Larry thought initially about Mahaney and now. As I said at the time it was quite encouraging hearing what Larry Tomczak was saying about CJ Mahaney. With Larry posting what he recently posted it is clear that Larry sees quite a change in heart with CJ Mahaney as most of us on the blogs have been pointing out. To use Larry’s terms sadly it looks like CJ Mahaney couldn’t “stand the pull” and has “checked out.” Sadly Mahaney doesn’t appear to be enduring the “sowing with tears” nor seeking the godly sorry leading to repentance.

    What a disappointment to see the change from Larry’s initial optimism about Mahaney repenting to less than 5 months later indicating this sad change.

  8. Steve
    I think the history of SGM/PDI,et al, leads me to believe that there are serious problems with authoritarian behavior on the part of some of these guys. The longer I am in this business of exploring spiritually negative organizations, the more I am convinced that there is rarely a change of stripes in the psyche of individuals who believe that they are both saved and called to be “anointed” leaders.

    Most marriage counselors will tell you not to go into a marriage planning to change your partner. Why would we think that 30 years of consistent history will exact a change in such a man? Remember the book of Judges? The people were tired of having a spiritual king. They wanted one like every other garden variety pagan nation. God gave them what they asked for but He warned them “I will give you a king but you won’t like having a king.”

  9. I’m not at all sure John Piper even knows Larry Tomczac. After all we’re talking about a relational breakdown that apparently happened in the 90s.

    I’m just suggesting it’s really not just to blame John Piper for the CJ Mahaney/Larry Tomczac imbroglio.

    Blame Piper for Piper’s sins, not other people’s sins.

  10. Dee said:

    “I think the history of SGM/PDI,et al, leads me to believe that there are serious problems with authoritarian behavior on the part of some of these guys. The longer I am in this business of exploring spiritually negative organizations, the more I am convinced that there is rarely a change of stripes in the psyche of individuals who believe that they are both saved and called to be “anointed” leaders. ”

    Apparently whatever sorrow Mahaney showed wasn’t godly sorrow leading to repentance.

    So true what you say about serious problems. A behavior that at best developed over 30 years isn’t easily broken.

    One book of interest that someone shared with me is titled “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout Phd. This author gives a new definition to someone who is a “sociopath.” I would recommend people read this book.

    In her definition the sociopath isn’t what one typically thinks of like a Ted Bundy or other mass murderers etc. People that meet her definition of sociopath can be in a variety of occupations. This author claims that roughly 1 in 25 or 4% of the population have this disorder which is basically have no conscience.

    One reason that people have such a hard time identifying those without a conscience is that most people have a conscience and thus can’t understand how someone can operate without a conscience.

    Certainly some of the characteristics Stout points out using her definition of sociopaths apply to Mahaney. One was characteristic to identify someone meeting her definition of sociopath was a history of juvenile delinquency. Mahaney shared that history quite a lot at TAG etc. Another characteristic was that of being a charmer. An additional characteristic is one who can bend others to his will and enjoy dominating others.

    Reading this book I wonder if a lack of conscience just might be what is wrong with Mahaney. Seeing Mahaney’s past actions of basically presenting one front while behind the scenes hypocritically doing something for such a long period of time and then when his actions are brought to light his denying and trivializing them sure makes this a possibility.

  11. Steve 240,

    Thanks for sharing the information about Tomczak. I agree with you. I believe he initially thought CJ was truly repentant, but after Mahaney’s remarks at the SGM Pastors Conference, Tomczak likely realized that CJ wasn’t remorseful.

  12. Eagle – great post above. I would only add that (afaik) Piper was “mentoring” C.J., no?

    I know he has been involved with SGM in the past as well as with T4G (and therefore, with Mahaney).

  13. Eagle –

    I was going to give it one last try, but no need now! I think you pretty much covered it from the money angle now as well. I thought I was clear from the abuse angle – but it must not have made it through 🙂

  14. I absolutely believe with all my heart that John Piper would extend grace to someone who sincerely sought it. He’s that kind of a guy. In the past, he’s been very quick to apologize when he thought he was in the wrong. I have perceived John Piper to be quite humble in person.

    Now if he’s decided that C.J. needs to make some changes; would you expect him to post his criticism on TWW or any other blog? I don’t think so.
    So does Piper think Maheney’s made some mistakes? We really don’t know. When I’ve felt my friends have been in serious error, I brought it up between them and me. I suspect Piper would do the same. But if you choose to publish heresy and wish to call it orthodoxy, you’re going to hear from the conservative theologians. John Piper has never attacked Greg Boyd other than his theological writings. Those he has attacked. You publish something, it’s fair game for a critique.

    Greg Boyd’s open theism is NOT part of orthodoxy. He’s free to teach it, he’s free to preach it; but if he belongs to an organization that rejects Open Theism then he should leave that organization.

    It’s also fair game for you to attack any of John Piper’s writings. It’s published, you are free to offer what you think needs to be corrected. But John Piper is not responsible for C.J. Mahaney. C.J. is. C.J. has only himself to blame for whatever mistakes he has made.

    I’ll let Mrs. Piper criticize John – hopefully not in public.

  15. John Piper is not humble. From his treatment of Greg Boyd, Rob Bell, and others, combined with what he said about the I-35 bridge collapse over the Mississippi River and tornadoes in Minneapolis; John Piper isn’t big enough for John Piper, nor Bethleham Baptist.

    You got it, Eagle.

    And then there’s that video of him talking about domestic violence… (which can be found on this blog).

  16. The biggest issue in the Open Theism debate is whether one believes that God answers prayer by changing that Plan some allege he made before creation that they believe is detailed and results in some being individually and permanently destined for salvation and others for hell before they are born, regardless of whatever they do in life, because that is all predetermined as well. Prefer believing the Bible where is says that God responds to prayer and belief (c. John 3:16) that to believe in a God that creates people for the purpose of burning them in hell.

  17. Eagle,

    Your comments are hitting very close to home for me. When I was 12, I was going to the beach with a friend and her parents and we were hit by a drunk driver. Seat belts laws were not in effect back then, and her parents were thrown through the windshield and killed instantly.

    I have spent A LOT of time thinking about that over the years and trying to understand God’s sovereignty. I definitely would not say that God “willed” it to happen, but for some reason “allowed” it to happen. Next summer will be the 40th anniversary of this horrific event, and I’m still trying to understand.

  18. “I have spent A LOT of time thinking about that over the years and trying to understand God’s sovereignty. I definitely would not say that God “willed” it to happen, but for some reason “allowed” it to happen. Next summer will be the 40th anniversary of this horrific event, and I’m still trying to understand.” Deb

    Me too Deb

  19. “I have spent A LOT of time thinking about that over the years and trying to understand God’s sovereignty. I definitely would not say that God “willed” it to happen, but for some reason “allowed” it to happen. Next summer will be the 40th anniversary of this horrific event, and I’m still trying to understand.”

    I do not mean to sound flippant so please bear with me. There was a time before Calvinists became so mainstream and now many believe God made that happen for His purposes, when Christians accepted that we live in a fallen world where horrible things happen to us and others. We live in a fallen world. This is the message we can glean from Luke 13 and other places. Jesus could have said, God made that tower fall for His own Glory and to show His Soveriengty. But that was not the message. The message was that bad things happen and we best repent and be ready. If anything the message from tragedies is repent and be ready.

    But then Calvin also believed God willed him to have Servetus arrested when he came to hear Calvin preach and subsequently burned at the stake. So much for his ST.

  20. After 24 years of service in the DC area with the “Take and Give Ministry” (TAG), co- founding Covenant Life Church in our home and then serving in leadership in Fairfax Covenant Church, I with my family departed disappointedly…

    Let me guess… “Take and Give Ministry” means YOU did all the Giving and THEY did ALL the Taking?

  21. Seneca- Just in case I wasn’t crystal clear yesterday…. CJ REALLY wants your money. Maybe you can arrange for direct deposit into his Bank of America checking account… — Eagle

    Wasn’t there some news item a little while back about some Megachurch Celebrity Pastor who DEMANDED that exact thing from his congregation? Demanding the account numbers of his parishoners/customers for “automatic tithing”? Including threatening them with all the Surveillance Cameras in his megachurch “If You Don’t, We WILL Know Who You Are!”

  22. Numo
    It was not gracious and, in fact, his little rhyme could come off as sarcastic.So many of today’s leaders are in your face over doctrine. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it is important to consider such things. But there is a considerable lack of love and respect shown to those who think differently. How do you win people over to your way of thinking-kicking them in the pants or consistent friendliness/love.

    Frankly it is frustrating to me. Because Mark Driscoll’s form of communication is taking over pulpits all across the land, we at TWW have to shout to be heard.

  23. Seneca
    There is a difference in going after people on a theological level and tolerating what appears to be abuse of one’s position. Piper is more than willing to go after Boyd or Bell but seems strangely reticent to attack pastors who agree with him. It appears t me that he is far more interested in doctrinal issues than he is in abusive ministries. Wonder why he didn’t say “Farewell CJ” when that apostle stepped down?

  24. Anonymous

    Good comment about Servetus.I am often amazed how many people think that God is talking to them, telling them to do things. For example, have you ever wonder why most pastors hear God calling them to pastorates that pay them better?

  25. AP – “LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) — Megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long has announced he’s taking time off to focus on his family after his wife filed for divorce.

    Long’s spokesman, Art Franklin, said that the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church leader told his congregation Sunday that he will continue to serve as senior pastor at the church in Lithonia, an Atlanta suburb. But Long said he needs a sabbatical.

    Long’s wife, Vanessa Long, filed a petition for divorce Thursday in DeKalb County Superior Court to end her 21-year marriage to the embattled minister.

    The split comes more than a year after allegations that Eddie Long used his lavish lifestyle and position of spiritual authority to lure four young men into sexual relationships. Eddie Long settled the cases but has never admitted to any wrongdoing.”

  26. Dee,

    Piper can’t tell Mahaney “Farewell” because they have an important gig coming up in April. You know … T4G.

    AW…look at them pictured together on the T4G website…

    The T4G “Team”

    And here they are playing basketball together.

    The Game

    When you play together (especially with a pastor-athlete like CJ) you STAY TOGETHER!

  27. It’s funny isn’t it looking at that T4G link of speakers …

    Wasn’t it me or was DeYoung one of the initial panel who CLEARED Mahaney for suitability for leadership?

    Yet the SGM Board ASSURED us that they didn’t know each other or have prior whatever or each others ministry.

    Oh how the $$$ signs do talk … Maybe if DeYoung hadn’t cleared Mahaney, he would have been quietly disinvited from his keynote speaking position on T4G.

  28. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I felt profoundly disappointed after I first read the news that Larry Tomczak had ‘reconciled’ with CJ Mahaney and had been invited to the SGM Pastor’s Conference – and had accepted the invitation.

    And it’s not like I’m anti-reconcilation.

    It’s just the whole timing of the thing coupled with the Mahaney Famiy propensity for playing The Chameleon: morphing into something different to protect themselves.

    And I got the impression that Larry seemed all-too-eager to reconcile with CJ, like he was playing into CJ’s hand. It made me feel apprehensive about Mr. Tomczak. I wondered what his angle might have been.

    So, I was glad to read Larry state:

    “We were invited to the November SGM Pastors Conference and Covenant Life Church to speak on reconciliation, but the invitation was rescinded.”

    I didn’t know the invitation had been rescinded. That was news to me. And overall I liked Larry’s announcement. Except for the part about SGM’s leadership having drifted from ‘biblical norms,’ as though SGM’s leadership had ever been based on ‘biblical norms.’ Unless Mr. Tomczak believes SGM drifted from his definition of biblical norms after his departure.

    I personally don’t believe in retooling SGM. I agree with Argo who wrote,

    “SGM cannot change because it’s not really a church. It’s a subculture; a movement, a mindset…So, the membership must take their money and leave. They must realize that SGM is not a system that needs tweaking.”

    Like Argo, I believe SGM is a cult. A cult that both Larry Tomczak and Brent Detwiler helped develop. Maybe Brent Detwiler should take a few pages from the Tomczak paybook and distance himself from SGM for at least a decade before he tries to sound like he’s fit to judge.

    And as far as CJ Mahaney goes, I say let the guy return to his little kingdom which he owns. Anyone that sticks around deserves to be led by CJ Mahaney and his Ostrich-of-a-Wife. Lord knows any children of God have had ample opportunity by now to make wise, informed decisions and get the heck out of SGM. If people want to follow the latest SGM advice to “stop reading the anti-SGM blogs and mark as divisive anyone disagreeing with the leadership” then I say do as scripture says and “ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch.”

  29. Arce,

    “…they believe is detailed and results in some being individually and permanently destined for salvation and others for hell before they are born, regardless of whatever they do in life, because that is all predetermined as well. Prefer believing the Bible where is says that God responds to prayer and belief (c. John 3:16) that to believe in a God that creates people for the purpose of burning them in hell.”

    I prefer that too. Really, I don’t believe scripture squares with the belief that God created the “non-elect” to destroy and burn them in hell. Calvinists believe (or so my brother says) that it’s to show God’s mercy and grace to the elect. The bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It says we were created in God’s image. Those verses don’t specify the “elect”. I can’t get past these verses and others which show the Father’s deep love for His creation. It doesn’t line up with a God who would create with His own hands people, in His image, for the purpose of destroying and burning them in hell. Because God knows the beginning and the end, I believe He knows what will become of each one He creates. Thus, the bible states that some are born for destruction. God knows how each life will unfold when His creation exercises their free will. But I can’t see how he would lovingly, tenderly, fearfully, and wonderfully create a person, in His image, for the purpose of destroying.

  30. I don’t have a lot of artistic ability myself, although I do appreciate art. Every day, I’m reminded of what a brilliant artist God is. Each person on earth is unique and different from the other. All of the animals and vegetation and the beautiful canvases in the sky – God’s artwork is amazing. It boggles my mind to think that He would work so carefully and tenderly create a person, in His image, with the purpose of destroying that person. Clearly, God was broken when He destroyed the earth because of sin. And He knew He would make that decision. But I don’t believe He created those who died in the flood for the purpose of destroying them. They made choices, which then created a need for God to respond. Can you imagine pouring your own life, your time, your efforts into a beautiful and unique piece of art with the intention of destroying and burning it? I realize we’re not God and that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, but we WERE created in His image. I believe we have the ability to understand, on a small scale, how the Father loves His child, the one He created, and how artists don’t carefully and tenderly create masterpieces just to destroy them.

  31. Wendy,

    Where I disagree is with what God knows when. I believe that God knows all that can be known, down to the proclivities and tendencies of each one of us. In fact, I believe that God knows the probablilties on each of the infinite branches and twigs of the tree of possibilities in this world, and at times, acts to change those probabilities and open new possibilities, all without imposing his preferred choices on us. But I do not believe that God knows what each and every action of a human will be, other than in a probabilistic sense.

    To me, it is something like the question of where God is. I believe that God is co-extensive with the universe (including the space where it is believed to be expanding into!). As spirit, God needs no physical location. I heard a sermon once that said that God exists in the space between nuclei of atoms (electrons effectively not occupying any space at all!) so that God is within us and all around us. BTW there is more space between nuclei than occupied by nuclei, by multiple orders of magnitude.

  32. Dan
    How perceptive of you! Do Calvinistas know anything about avoiding all perception of evil? They are big boys and should know better but, as I learned in my MBA, their are two commodities in the secular world-time and money. And I think they are behaving in a very secular fashion. Mahaney’s got the money, and as that old country song goes, ” If you’ve got the money, honey, I’ve got the time.”

  33. Arce,

    The argument about the details of God’s foreknowledge could be made either way and still result in the same conclusion (at least in my mind). The bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. God creates each one of us, in His own image, with His hands in the secret, dark place of our mother’s womb. That is such a beautiful image. What the bible says about God’s creation of people doesn’t line up with a God who would create a baby, in His own image, to be predestined to be destroyed and burn in hell. I believe that some are born for destruction because of what they choose, not God’s intent.

  34. Dan,

    When I was a student at Duke, the word “entrenched” was leveled at the administration by some of the students. Since that time, I have been keenly aware of what it looks and smells like.

    There is stench coming from some of those whom we label as “Calvinistas”. As you astutely pointed out, Kevin DeYoung is complicit because of his close relationship with Mahaney. DeYoung has spoken at SGM conferences and Mahaney has spoken at DeYoung’s church several times. There is no way he could be objective about his buddy CJ.

    Ray Ortlund’s son Dane is Senior Editor in the Bible Division at Crossway Books in Wheaton, Illinois. You know about Crossway — the publisher of the ESV Bible. Oh, and look! Crossway has a bio page for the Mahaney family. How special…

    Mahaney page at Crossway

    And last but not least, we have Carl Trueman, the third member of the infamous review panel hand-picked by the SGM Board. I thought Carl was skeptical about celebrity pastors in the New Reformed movement because of a blog post he wrote several years ago. Looks like he has finally given in to the powers that be in the movement because he will be one of the plenary speakers at the upcoming T4G (see last name on list).

    T4G Speakers

    Let me spell it out … E-N-T-R-E-N-C-H-E-D

  35. “I can’t get past these verses and others which show the Father’s deep love for His creation. It doesn’t line up with a God who would create with His own hands people, in His image, for the purpose of destroying and burning them in hell.”

    This reminded me of a convo I had with a pastor last week. We were discussing the YRR movement and which of the 5 pts we disagree with. He related something interesting to me I had not picked up on concerning irresistable grace….just one very small example….not that it is conclusive but a hint that we really need to be vigilent in what we believe.

    In the story of the rich young ruler in Mark it says this:

    21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “

    Yet, it did not work. There was no “irresistable grace”. Could Jesus “love” him and NOT want him to be “elect”. Would He just love him right into hell?

    Any thoughts?

  36. I reaad Friday that Eddie Long’s wife filed for divorce and then later on the same day she said she had a change of heart. Just checked the news and she changed her mind again and is back to divorcing him.

    Morning drive-time radio has a further development: Eddie Long’s church is SUING the kids he molested for going public. Apparently there was a little Confidentiality Clause with the Hush Money payoffs, and the church is SUING.

  37. Deb
    How old is Carolyn Mahaney? The picture makes her look about 30. Maybe it has something to do with Feminine Appeal which I somehow overlooked in my studies! If you read it, do the wrinkles get airbrushed. Is this the Driscoll effect?

    Ed Young Jr is going the same route-I will post something today to prove it.

  38. Headless
    We are planning on doing a story about this mess. We have been following him for awhile.

  39. Anonymous,

    I hadn’t thought of Jesus’ love and concern for the rich, young ruler in the context of irresistable grace. It seems clear that the young ruler resisted, of his own accord, making Jesus his Lord. Thank you so much for sharing that!

  40. The more I read these guys, the less I understand.

    So, if I get this right T (I am shortening his name so I can use initials for everything) has a teenage son with problems. Note to people: if you have teenagers, you will have problems.

    But because of weird and intrusive polity at SGM, PDI or whatever churches, T and his family get interviewed. I suppose T’s son says somethings that make T look like less than the perfect father. So, then the “Apostles” (Red flag, red flag – run away run away) get to interview T’s son again. And more tumbles out.

    Then the Politburo, oops, I mean the “Apostles” have a show trial of T. And T is convicted.

    T is given the choice of execution or banishment to Siberia. He chooses something, but I can’t tell which.

    T is scrubbed from all references to the church, except as to how evil a man he is.

    This is all very Soviet for those of you playing at home. I suggest you read the latest biography of Stalin to come out.

    Now T has found some new strength, and wants to air all of this out.

    “A pox on all their houses”.

    This is why many people hate church.

    I have never been nor will I ever go to an SGM,PDI etc. church. Nor will I attend a church that has “Apostles” (or claims to), or churches that have show trials of their leaders.

    I am generally reformed in my theology. I like much of what Piper, Mohler, Dever and others say, but think they should get away from CJ. I have no interest in a TG4 conference.

    But people are free to join the churches they want to join.

  41. Dee,

    I saw a clip of Ed Young Jr. recently in his tight skinny jeans with his new bleach blonde ‘do pacing back and forth in the pulpit yelling, scolding, and threatening his congregants. I read an article last week about how megachurches are dying. Some believe that the megachurch movement will die off completely; others believe they’re here to stay and will outlast smaller churches. Indeed, the current statistics and obvious factors, such as more money, do seem to indicate they’re in a better position than small churches overall. Still, I think some of these guys are getting desperate. Not only has power and greed corrupted them, but they’re nervous about the future. Even if their own church growth isn’t declining now, they could be experiencing anxiety about the state of the institutionalized church. What will lower or much lower attendance mean for their power, influence, and personal bank accounts? I think that’s one reason you see Driscoll in his tight Mickey Mouse t-shirt and boy necklaces, saying ridiculous sexual things and Ed Young Jr. with bleached hair and tight skinny jeans yelling and threatening his sheep to give him more money. They want to draw a certain crowd, a certain demographic, to appeal to youth and young people. I think narcissism and emotional issues (insecurity) may have pre-disposed them to using these tactics, but a big part of it is marketing themselves and their church, so they don’t lose touch, and thereby lose their power and their money.

  42. Someone may have already posted this here:

    And then there’s George Barna whose research consistently indicates that church attendance is declining.

    It’s enough to make Driscoll put on his Mickey Mouse t-shirt and cuss and discuss sexual positions in the pulpit and Ed Young Jr. bleach his hair and put on his skinny jeans and yell at his people to give him some more money.

  43. Back in 2007 when Driscoll claimed to learn about humility from Mahaney I found myself unconvinced. I guess all this stuff would help explain why.

  44. Eagle,

    Good to know I’m not the only one getting attacked or alienated on facebook. This past weekend, a woman on my facebook with whom I used to be close friends posted a link stating that Tim Tebow wouldn’t be criticized if he was a Muslim. The conversation took a turn and the jist of it was: There may be decent Muslims, but they all stay silent about Islamic violence. I couldn’t stand it. I replied, “Similarly, there are many Christians who stay silent about the horrific abuses committed by their Christian counterparts.” Her husband, who has gone to bible college and is a lay minister, and a couple of others chimed in with comments about how Islam and Christianity can’t be compared, there is only one true God, and so on. Good grief! I told them that wasn’t my point and that many Christian churches promote a culture of silence and cover-up in the face of evil. I didn’t go into great detail, but I explained the SBC’s refusal to establish a database of sex offenders and credibly accused ministers, how often church sex abuse cases make headlines, how churches launch cover-ups, and then quoted their beloved John Piper who encourages wives to endure a season of verbal abuse or a night of being smacked, as long as the husband isn’t requiring her to sin. I backed up my statements with a couple of pertinent links. Oh my! Did that ever unleash their fury! They told me that I was coming against God’s anointed which is a sin and that anything worthy I had to say was “hard to hear” because I was being “slanderous” about Piper. A little while later, all of my comments had been removed, except the ones they agreed with. So, if someone was reading the thread, it would appear very fragmented and weird.

    I’ve also had a couple of exchanges with my brother, a Calvinista pastor. He, too, removed my comments.

    As a psychologist, this fascinates me. What causes these people to defend a man or a church at the expense of children, abused women, and the least of these? And it isn’t just getting defensive. These folks go on the attack. I really would like some understanding of this phenomenon from a psychological/social/cultural perspective. What is going on with these people?

  45. Wendy, may I suggest “undifferentiated ego mass”? Sloppy, but it’s at least a concept that could be discussed, eh?

  46. WTH,

    I’m impressed. Undifferentiated ego mass sounded familiar, but I had to look it up. Murray Bowen, a family therapy pioneer, coined the term, as well as the term differentiation of self. According to Wikipedia:

    Differentiation of self refers to one’s ability to separate one’s own intellectual and emotional functioning from that of the family. Individuals with “low differentiation” are more likely to become fused with predominant family emotions. (A related concept is that of an undifferentiated ego mass, which is a term used to describe a family unit whose members possess low differentiation and therefore are emotionally fused.) Those with “low differentiation” depend on others’ approval and acceptance. They either conform themselves to others in order to please them, or they attempt to force others to conform to themselves.

    The word “religion” or “cult” could be substituted for family. In thinking about this for a while, one theory I’ve had is their feelings, their security, lifestyle, life decisions, their very identity is so dependent on the group (Calvinistas) that any suggestion they are wrong causes them to go on the attack or simply divorce themselves from people who don’t agree with them. This protects their identity and everything they think they are. Undifferentiated ego mass is a good theory. Thanks so much for your feedback.

  47. Eagle,

    “…in these circles critical thinking skills don’t exist. Its a huge problem. I don’t have the answers, I feel safer outside it at the moment all due to my experiences.”

    So true! Obviously, they do not/cannot think for themselves. This goes along with the undifferentiated ego mass theory explained above. Those with low differentiation of self have little ability to separate their own intellectual functioning from that of the group.

    I understand your need to be an outsider right now. I think it’s healthy for you to take the time to regroup and process all the things that happened.

  48. a counselor telling me about undifferentiated ego mass was an important step for me to realize that was what was going on not just in my family but also in the MH mess I was in. Since I had extended family in Mars Hill it was like a double whammy of undifferentiated ego mass issues within a short period of a few years. I even had huge stresses to deal with on the job to boot. For a period of about two years it wasn’t uncommon for me to have a panic attack about once a month maybe. Since then I’ve managed to differentiate on a few things that have helped family dynamics and dealing with the reality that I’ve continued to have good friends on both sides of the 2007 firing and by-laws fiasco. Becoming Presbyterian was probably the most literal way to establish differentiation so that I didn’t risk getting sucked into church politics stuff at the expense of remaining friends with my friends from Mars Hill. Some of the relatives I had some tough times with have since become Eastern Orthodox. We “could” choose to aruge about theology but we don’t, even though as a Calvinist I know they have to consider me a heretic and as a Presbyterian I’m supposed to assume they have corrupted the “doctriens of grace”. But I’m not interested in doing that kind of shit. It’s also why I haven’t gone lockstep with the strictly anti-Driscoll crowd because, for me, the same problem of the undifferentiated ego mass is at work. I know that won’t be the experience of others, though.

  49. Eagle,

    My father-in-law has expressed that same sentiment numerous times. One of his pet peeves are overseas mission trips when there are people right here who need the ministry. I’ve seen churches send groups abroad and also reach out to their community. The Methodist church we attend on occasion does a lot of outreach in our community. They help the homeless, the addicted, the poor, the schools, the elderly. They bring in the needy and the troubled into the church for various ministries. I must say I’ve been impressed with what all I’ve seen.

    But there are churches who seem more driven to do mission trips abroad. It’s a good question you’re asking. I commend them for the work they do on their mission trips, but there is something that doesn’t set right with me too. I just received letters from two youth and an adult who are heading to Guam next summer. I appreciate these people and their hearts, but something irks me about the 50 letters they’re sending requesting financial support. I can’t quite put my finger on it. They’re members of our former very wealthy megachurch. If you’re rich and you’re a Christian in our locale, this church is where you go. When I was doing social work/case management, I often drove by the gated communities where many of these church members live. Literally right across from one of these communities is a large dilapidated trailer park where some of my clients and their children lived in absolute squalor. Trailers with gaping holes in the siding and underpinning; steps falling apart or no steps to get into the trailer at all. I had to watch where I stepped inside one of the trailers because the sub-floor was gone in so many places and you’d literally almost fall through the trailer, if it weren’t for the rugs. Basically, they’re shacks. One thing that sticks out – I was there several times when the school bus was dropping off children. They all hung their heads and their sad eyes, as they stepped off the bus and into their trailers. There was no bouncing and skipping and laughing, as they stepped off the bus and walked home, as I see my girls do. The only thing separating this beautiful, luxurious gated community from the trailer park is a small factory. It used to make me so angry to drive past that community with all its excess to the mentally ill, marginalized, desperately poor families in that trailer park. They’re neighbors, and yet I suppose they pretend they’re not there. I’m not sure why they’d rather go to Guam or Africa or South America, instead of next door. I suppose you’re right – it’s messy.

  50. WTH,

    That IS a double whammy of undifferentiated ego mass. It’s sad that some churches are why people have to get counseling. Sounds like, as you’ve worked through this stuff, you’ve been able to separate yourself emotionally and intellectually. And how great to not fight about theology with your relatives.

  51. Wend
    One of my pet peeves is letters from kids asking for support for their 2 week summer jaunt. Problem is many of these kids are well to do. We have decided to give our money to long term missionaries. We also paid for our kids to go on missions trips and would not let them raise their own money by begging (we told them they could get a job if the were so inclined), We even had to tell the youth leader why we would not send out those confounded support letters.

    We had a funny, last straw note from some kid who we didn’t know who asked us for money for his trip via form letter. We don’t answer form letters. He then sent us another form letter asking why he hadn’t heard from us! Yeah, right!

  52. Dee,

    I applaud you for those decisions. From what I understand, the youth ministers at this megachurch are requiring proof that each kid sent their 50 support letters.

    Our kids aren’t old enough for youth mission trips yet, but I don’t let them ask for money for school fundraisers either. Maybe that’s different, but I just feel uneasy asking people for cash money. We have a reading fundraiser at our school, and the girls meet all of their reading goals, but we’re the only ones who “sponsor” them. We do participate in the magazine fundraising, because the magazines are a good deal and there’s no standing in front of the person begging them to buy a subscription.

    I did send money to an Appalachian State student who went on a mission trip to South America. I really respect the kid and his family, and I know they struggle financially. He is one of 10 siblings. I felt with his heart for Christ and his talents, he should participate in this mission project and go on the trip. But it’s unsettling to get these letters from other kids whose families and churches are wealthy.

  53. I don’t contribute to any kids’ short-term mission trips, either. I can’t believe that the money wouldn’t be better spent on missionaries and organizations already in the area.

    I get annoyed by promises of the leaders of these trips that the participants will come back transformed by their experience. It’s as if everyone is pleased that God has provided poor and marginalized people so that these kids can have a wonderful transforming experience. Like a spiritual Disneyland for rich American kids. Argh.

    And please, no fundraising letters with the phrase “I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through me during this trip.” I’d rather get the explanation of why God is waiting for this person to go on a trip to do something through them.

  54. Pingback: Yokefellow ministry | Mydaddysitter

  55. I feel for the hundreds (thousands?) Who have been hurt by the ultra authoritarianism that has been expereinced via SGM. The way in which CJ seems to have behaved with Tomzak is sad and disturbing. That being said, please stop lumping Piper in the same group. I know Piper personally and while I have SIGNIFICANT disagreements with his style and theology at times, he is very much a lover of Christ, albeit flawed. Piper is humble and his quickness to recognize and confess his own real sin is one evidence of humility. His comment about Bell was inappropriate at the least, but you simply cannot get upset with Piper because of Mahaney. I so need the grace of God and His mercy and as a recovering reformed evangelical I can honestly say that unless you extend grace that bitterness will consume our hearts. I know that some people will probably comment that Piper is hurting thosuands of people and what about extending grace and care for those victims. Keep in mind that is NOT the context of,my comment. The context is you can’t blame Piper for Mahaney’s sin.

  56. theologian
    Sorry about the late approval. Your comment got directed into a spam pile inadvertently. Sometimes it is better to post under a more recent thread.

    I do not think Piper is responsible for Mahaney. However, I also believe that Piper, who is worshipped by the Mahaneyites could say something to the guy like “cut out the nonsense.” He doesn’t, seemingly enjoying hobnobbing with him instead.

    My concern is the way that Piper apples severe Calvinism in the area of sin often leading to the misunderstanding that each person, created in the image of God, is a dumb, wretched, worthless scumbag who is utterly not worth even a moment’s notice. I used to like Piper back in the 90s. He has walked down a path that has caused others to become distressed that God despises them and has condescended to save them merely to make His name known.

    Piper does not come across as a man who believes in God’s love for his people,whom He loves in spite of their issues. He seems to convey a God who is chronically ticked off and who destroys bridges and kills people so that Piper will confess his utter wretchedness. We wrote about that statement.

    Theology like this can be very damaging, leading to depression, hopelessness, fear of not being one of the elect, and even suicidal ideations. I don’t like how this man applies his theology. Theology is just a bunch of facts until it is applied. The application of this theology by Piper, Mahaney, Driscoll, etc. has led to hyperauthoritarian arrogance that has had serious consequences to those in the pew.

    And until Piper makes his own way and stops hanging out with these guys, I do judge him by the friends and company he keeps. However, i bet he can be a nice guy once you get him off his God Avenger kick.

    BTW thank you for noting that people have been hurt by Mahaney. That goes a long way in my book! So I’ll think a little longer about your comments. 🙂

  57. Hi Dee,

    You make some great points. Thank you for posting my comment even though it was so late when compared to the original post. I think you have hit on an often overlooked aspect of Piper’s public books and ministry. I remember reading through God is the Gospel and Piper mentioning in passing some of the beautiful anthropological realities as evidence that God has already made much of us. I actually was in a conversation with a couple of people and someone asked Piper if he thought that was adequate or if having a high view of humanity was something that Piper was missing from his writings and sermonic expressions. Piper answered that he thought it was a matter of emphasis and that his voice was meant to balance out the otherwise mancentered voices out there. At the time I thought that was an adequate answer. However, now looking back and recognizing how loud his emphasis has become, I believe that he needs to more clearly and articulately spell out God’s love for the individual. All that to say, You made a great point. Thank you for the discussion.