Mahaney Reclaims Throne at T4G

"We are called to take the gospel to those with hard hearts and blind eyes."

C.J. Mahaney (in The Sustaining Power of the Gospel at 2012T4G)

Marching Sheep

Marching Sheep

I just finished listening to the audio of C.J. Mahaney's message The Sustaining Power of the Gospel which was delivered during the opening session of the 2012 Together for the Gospel conference.  Don't get confused if you watch the video on the T4G website, which shows this subtitle – When a Pastor Loses Heart.  You see, this is the actual title of his message, which I initially heard back in November 2011. How is that possible?  Mahaney explained in his opening remarks that each speaker decides which message to share, and this is the one he selected.  If you're not familiar with C.J. Mahaney, he is famous for recycling his messages, and this one was first delivered at the most recent SGM Pastors Conference.  

In preparation for this post, I listened to the SGM version a second time, and it is very similar to the one given at T4G.  In case you're wondering about the identity of the theologian who worries that he botches his sermons, Mahaney identifies him in the SGM message.  He is talking about a Presbyterian pastor named Sinclair Ferguson, who was one of the speakers at the 2011 SGM Pastors Conference.  I remember hearing Sinclair preach once during a chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Alistair Begg was initially scheduled to speak but had to cancel at the last minute.  Ferguson is a fine speaker.  I'm just sorry he has gotten involved with Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and frankly T4G attendees, the above photo is what you look like to us.  In the foreground is the T4G pacer vehicle with the Fab Four – Mohler, Dever, Mahaney, and Duncan – leading the flock down the road to so-called reformation (or "perdition" for movie buffs).  This is the fourth T4G conference that has been held, and we wonder how many of you keep flocking back time after time to hear the same speakers.  We have to assume that you've been too busy to vet one of the Fab Four – C.J. Mahaney – and that you know nothing about the devastation that has occurred in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  That is the only possible explanation we can come up with for for why you would listen to C.J. Mahaney's message. 

On the opening day of T4G, Jim over at SGM Refuge featured this post by Praise Warrior:

"We find it ironic that CJ Mahaney will preach a session called “When A Pastor Loses Heart” at the T4G (Together For The Gospel) conference soon. Perhaps before stepping up to the plate to hit his homerun, CJ might consider interviewing the many pastors and church members who have lost heart and left Sovereign Grace Ministries.

It might surprise the many that will be gathered to hear the strength of the arguments that CJ might not be the best choice to deliver a message on this topic. In fact, many of us would call it downright rude – an ‘in-your-face’ blow to those who are convinced that CJ charging ahead in his public ministry poses a significant lack of integrity on his part and the part of those around him.

Let the discussion panels be comprised of just 4 pastors who have lost heart under CJ’s leadership and the conversation would become quite lively.

CJ, would you please consider recusing yourself from speaking at this conference? Don’t you think you might have a slight conflict of interest here? Here is a suggestion: rather than taking your cues from your buddies Mohler, Duncan and Dever, why don’t you simply ask all the remaining pastors in your family of churches if they think it is wise for you to continue in public ministry at this time?

No one is out to destroy you. Most of us feel sorrow for you. It might be time for you to consider the following:

1) Have you failed to both teach about AND PRACTICE meaningful membership at Covenant Life Church?
2) Doesn’t the nature of a church covenant require the church’s consent to both enter and leave the membership of the church?
3) Do you have unresolved conflicts with your family of churches and their leaders?
4) Are you aware your flock (the one you pastored for so many years) is studying you?
5) How many people are struggling with you because your teaching does not line up with your practice?

Answer these questions and we will be happy to not walk out when you begin to speak at T4G. If you get around to answering these, maybe clue us in as to why Dave Harvey is continuing in his ministry as well. Not that you owe us anything. You might have already forgotten about us."

What in the world is going on here?!  Granted, Sovereign Grace Ministries has been changing quite a bit since it first came into existence from People of Destiny to PDI International to SGM, but those changes pale in comparison to what has taken place since last July.  Brent Detwiler, one of C.J. Mahaney's long-time associates, was fired several years ago and he began revealing to SGM leaders that he has hundreds and hundreds of pages of documentation that show fatal flaws with his pal C.J.  In early July 2011 Mahaney abruptly stepped down as president of SGM.  He made his surprise announcement on A View From the Cheap Seats, but the post has subsequently been removed. (Mahaney deletes incriminating evidence, too?  Mark Driscoll must be really proud of his mentor!) 

No worries – we featured C.J. Mahaney's breaking news in a blog post called "Trendy Calvinista, C.J. Mahaney, Temporarily Steps Down to Deal With Sin".  Here are the first few paragraphs of Mahaney's announcement:

"My friends,

I need to inform you about some recent developments that I believe are expressions of God’s mercy and intended to serve our future together as a family of churches.

Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace. These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read. These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.

I believe God is kindly disciplining me through this. I believe I have by the grace of God perceived a degree of my sin, and I have been grieved by my sin and its effects on others. I have had the opportunity to confess my sin to some of those affected in various ways by my sin. And I am so very grateful for their forgiveness. But I want to perceive and confess any and all sin I have committed. Although my experience of conviction has already started—and this is an evidence of God’s mercy—I’m sure there is more for me to perceive and acknowledge. Even with the charges I disagree with it has been beneficial to examine my soul and ask for the observation of others. And I am resolved to take responsibility for my sin and every way my leadership has been deficient, and this would include making any appropriate confessions, public or private. Most importantly I want to please God during this season of examination and evaluation."

Shortly thereafter, an unidentified individual began posting hundreds of pages of documentation – appropriately called SGM Wiki Links – from Brent Detwiler, including internal correspondence from SGM.  The most startling revelation was that Mahaney essentially blackmailed Larry Tomczak, the co-founder of PDI and Gathering of Believers (which became Covenant Life Church). 

Peter Smith of the Courier-Journal wrote an article on July 8, 2011, entitled 'Serious charges vs. popular pastor, author Mahaney. Smith revealed the following:

A Sovereign Grace board statement said:
“The charges against C.J. are serious, but his response has been one of self-examination and, when possible, specific confession to those sinned against. However, given the numerous events, people, and perspectives involved, the work of an independent panel will be vital to fully examining these charges and arriving at an objective conclusion, especially on those charges with which the board does not agree.”

Here are some subsequent posts we wrote regarding this debacle.

C.J. Mahaney's Temporary Resignation and Sovereign Grace Ministries: Shades of John Piper

False Humility, True Hypocrisy: A Review of C.J. Mahaney's Book Humility: True Greatness

The Fall of C.J. Mahaney:  More Documents and Dissonance

Then something incredible happened!  Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan broke their silence and publicly defended their buddy C.J.  We had been bamboozled, as explained in our post Hoodwinked by Mohler and Mahaney.

A few days after the news broke, the Courier-Journal featured a follow-up article entitled Mohler backs Mahaney- dismisses claims of abusive leadership.  Here are Mohler's comments:

"I always have had only the highest estimation of C.J. Mahaney as a man and a minister," Mohler said in an interview — his first public comments on the situation involving Mahaney, one of his fellow leaders in the Reformed, neo-Calvinist movement. "That continues absolutely unchanged. There is nothing in this current situation which would leave me to have even the slightest pause of confidence in him."

But Mohler has already drawn his own conclusions.

He based that on hundreds of pages leaked to the Internet last week, detailing correspondence between Mahaney, his main accuser and former colleague, Brent Detwiler, and other Sovereign Grace leaders.

"There is nothing disqualifying in terms of anything that is disclosed in this," said Mohler, who regularly speaks on programs along with Mahaney. "It’s just evidence we knew all along, that C.J. is human but a deeply committed Christian and a visionary Christian leader."

The reporter Peter Smith went on to write:

“Mohler said he saw no reason for Mahaney to take a leave from other leadership positions…

"I assume he would retain every position in leadership," Mohler said. "I expect he should be very quickly returned to leadership of Sovereign Grace."
Mohler contended that Detwiler has "an obvious vendetta" against Mahaney and attributed the document dump on the Internet to him."

Smith also included the following:

“The Sovereign Grace network is separate from the Southern Baptist Convention, the affiliate of Southern Seminary, but Mohler praised Mahaney’s group as "one of the most vital movements of church planting and evangelism and church development in this generation…"

Mohler said he knew this practice has had online critics for years.

"Basically there are people who are very uncomfortable with the strong kind of spiritual direction that comes through the Sovereign Grace Ministries," Mohler said. "It’s very hard to criticize it on biblical terms, as you’ll see on most of those Web sites. It basically comes down to the criticism, ‘I don’t like that.’"

On the VERY SAME DAY that Mohler's remarks were made public (July 12, 2011), Ligon Duncan posted a response on the Reformation 21 website.  Here is an excerpt:

"If you have been confused or discouraged by things you have read on the internet concerning my friend C.J. Mahaney and his leave of absence from the board and presidency of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), I would encourage you to read this and this and this . . . , if you want to understand what is really going on.

I would then encourage you to ignore the assaults of wounded people on attack websites and blogs, and that you discount the opinings of those who have no real knowledge of these matters or relation to SGM or authority to comment upon them, and that you refrain from assuming that you (or they) are in a position to render judgment on these things.

It is clear that far from a scandalous cover up, our brothers at Sovereign Grace are taking these matters with utter seriousness and are endeavoring to walk in Gospel repentance and humility and fidelity. C.J. knows of my complete love and respect for him. And my brethren at Sovereign Grace know of my support and prayers for them. Al Mohler has spoken about this here. And, of course, C.J. has reached out to Mark Dever for counsel and accountability, but I want to emphasize that we fully respect the process that SGM is taking to review the entire situation and that we have no intention whatsoever of joining in the adjudicating of this case in the realm of the internet – a practice as ugly as it is unbiblical."

Well, that's the drama that played out in the few days following Mahaney's announcement that he was stepping down as president of SGM. In our upcoming post, we will highlight what happened leading up to C.J.'s reinstatement as president of Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

It truly is incredible that Mahaney is once again enthroned at Together for the Gospel, as though nothing of significance has happened in the SGM "family of churches".

Here is a song dedication to all you loyal T4G attendees.  Enjoy!

Lydia's Corner:     Ezekiel 3:16-6:14     Hebrews 4:1-16     Psalm 104:24-35     Proverbs 26:27


Mahaney Reclaims Throne at T4G — 62 Comments

  1. If you are a Lutheran, you should be insulted that the Calvinistas have stolen the title of “reformation” from under your noses. They act like the Calvinists waaaayyyyyy back in 1517 nailed those 95 theses on the church door. Why aren’t there Lutherans at T4G? Luther and Calvin were somewhat contemporaries but Luther was the one that made the BIG splash turning the world upside down.

    I find it HILARIOUS that those of the Anabaptist tradition have hijacked the word “reformation.” Go back and take a look anabaptist… Martin Luther didn’t exactly like you. The peasant revolt is a dark chapter in Lutheran history. Hey Anabaptist, check out Calvin as he burned a guy at the stake… Oddly, many of your heroes probably wouldn’t have been able to attend Together for the Gospel because it would have ended up the way the Luther Zwingli discussion ended… Luther and Zwingli literally agreed on most everything minus the Lord’s Supper and Baptism and whoa did Luther blast him. No, no there would not be any T4G a la Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. However, Luther was a young earther unlike many other church fathers so they could have thrown him a bone. But, then again, Luther felt like the T4G secondary issues of the Supper and Baptism were actually Primary issues…

    Good thing Mahaney wasn’t around in say 1535 in Geneva. He may have been burning in the town square.

    What a mess. Yet they think they are being so innovative. Yawn.

  2. Hey, gals! Since you know that these Calvinistas like to rewrite their own history by “withdrawing” (read: deleting) certain sermons, announcements, etc., I wondered if you’re actually taking screencaps of this stuff.

  3. That photo reminds me of the movie Black Sheep.
    No, not the Chris Farley movie, the other film called Black Sheep.

  4. Deb and Dee,

    I am rather new to your blog and I am amazed at the information you can provide on these leaders. You seem to be modern day prophetesses to me. Who knows God has put the two of you here to bring light to dark places in the Evangelical world.

    “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” (Luke 8:17, ESV)

    I begin to know things I did not know at all before, about SGM, for instance. Thank you for your good work and God bless.

  5. Of course, we have to understand that, in the eyes of Mohler, Dever etc, Mahaney has done nothing wrong. Sin in the eyes of Calvinistas is gathered around two poles — on the one hand we have sex/gender issues (from adultery and homosexuality through to women not knowing their ‘place’), and at the other pole we have doctrinal issues, where any deviation from a particular doctrinal ‘set’ (TULIP style Calvinism plus a few other issues like the need for members to be under the authority of leaders, Young Earth creationism and whatever else is now on the list of things they are ‘together’ on.)

    Other things aren’t actually sin. Harshness? No, you’re being a ‘strong leader’. Duplicity? you’ve been ‘misunderstood’. Emotional abuse? The concept does exist in their world except when people are being mean to their leaders. Everyone else deserves what they get. I suspect this is something slightly different to a cover up, because these guys genuinely believe Mahaney has done nothing wrong. This is actually in keeping with their theology which promotes a very uber-authoritarian and wrathful image of God.

    They are closing ranks around Mahaney because they genuinely see him as the sinned-against one in this scenario, or so I read them. The poor guy had to step aside because people were being nasty to him — that’s how their actions and statements come across to me.

    To be honest, i find this thinking far more scary than a simple cover up would have been. One of the issues of the Reformation was to stand against clericalism — the idea that clergy were a magically superior caste. Guess what? Clericalism is back amongst us, loud and strong! Let us be very tender to the harassed sheep.

  6. Thanks, TWW. Old baldy is the consummate and perfect Narcissistic-in-Chief, to a fault, to a flawless degree (before the NRBD dawgs, N, for Non, since they’re not Reformed Big Dawgs). Old Baldy was and is working the crowds, as he knows it. A real mountebank and fugitive from CLC.

  7. You know, when it all came down, a few were predicting Mahaney would have a big comeback, speak at T4G, and write a new book on “Grace”. Now, just waiting for the book. Maybe he will write it from his new place in Ky.

    These guys could NOT care less about sexually assaulted 3 year olds where SGM pastors told the parents NOT to call the authorities and the church would handle it and they should forgive immediately. The devastation of Mahaney’s brand of “Christianity” to people’s lives outlined over at sgmsurvivors is astonishing in its depth.

    Every single bit of this is about the NC focus on obeying authority so they have power over others. What a fleshly life these guys have mocking the Name of Jesus. And every single man at T4G is now complicit in this fraud upon Christianity. The info is out there for anyone who cares to check out the people they pay to go hear speak.

  8. TWW, big ballsiness of brass gonads by a total ignoramus, Mahaney. The poor clucks at T$G. While Mahaney reviews, examines, and thinks his gonads are large, US Marines think them quite small, quite puerile, and quite invisible. Mahaney is totally blind, as are his enablers. Mahaney is an idiot. Quite illustrative. Cheers.

  9. TWW, utter shamelessness from old Baldy.

    Not surprising in the least for a malignant Narcissistic. Old Baldy hates himself, as Narcissists will as their manifold wickednesses are examined. As old Mahaney’s sins and egregious sins are examined.

    He is full of shame and degradation. His self-view is justified. Talk to him and old Baldy hates himself. That’s old Baldy.

    But, like a Narcissistic, he will use to the nth degree all and everyone who will redeem and exonerate him. Old Baldy needs the crowd and unexamined affirmationists. T$G gives Mahaney that. That’s the narcissist’s repeated story in the psychological literature. Degradation, bodies in the wake of the narrative, and, yet, self-exultation. T$G is the precise forum for this Narcissist-in-Chief.

    SGM is in the past. Bye, bye. CLC, his former pastorate, the “Happiest Place on Earth,” is in the rear view mirror. Tire tracks and treads outta the CLC parkin’ lot. Bye, bye, CLC, especially to Josh Harris. He has no greater concerns.

    Unfortunately, the T$G crowd hasn’t followed the story or the details.

    Nor have the T$G sponsors, Al, Lig or Mark. The big sellers of books, advertisements, and influence.

    These ghosts–of old Baldy and ilk–will return to haunt these half-involved and half-inquisitive inquirers, that is, Al, Lig and Mark.

    Old Baldy, history will catch up to your fugitive and fleeing dispositions. Mahaney, history will capture it.

  10. Robin,

    Please don’t suggest that Calvinists and Anabaptists are the same people. The first Anabaptists broke away from the Reformed church of Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich before Calvin was on the scene (Felix Manz, George Blaurock, etc.), and the Calvinists hunted down and killed Anabaptists mercilessly in the 16th century. Not that Lutherans or Catholics did any better, but please note that modern-day Anabaptists, including Mennonites like myself, Amish, Brethren in Christ, and others, are not Calvinist.

  11. I look forward to hearing a report from my pastor on this conference. I know that he does not read blogs, has never read all about the trouble in the churches Mahaney started, and knows him only from what he hears at this conference once a year and the one or two of Mahaney’s books that he may have read.

    I disagree about T4G continuing to have Mahaney as a leader at this conference.

    There is something incongruous about getting in trouble at one’s own church, and then going to pastors or leaders of other churches and ministries to make judgments about what happened at your church.

    “There is nothing disqualifying in terms of anything that is disclosed in this,” said Mohler, who regularly speaks on programs along with Mahaney. “It’s just evidence we knew all along, that C.J. is human but a deeply committed Christian and a visionary Christian leader.”

    That quote is something that I cannot say at all with any confidence. Mohler is right in that it does not involve the usual public scandals that destroy ministers. And Mohler is right that C.J. is human, and that he appears to be committed to the Lord and has vision as a Christian leader.

    But the particulars of the situation at Mahaney’s churches cry out for more disclosure and resolution before I could conclude that Mahaney is a leader of the stature that I would put him in front of these attendees.

    I would be much more impressed if Mahaney gave a talk on SGM’s failed polity and how it ended up being weird and hurting people. He could simply talk about all the hurt, how the church failed to respond, what his role was, and what he has learned and would do differently next time.

    I think that actually would be very helpful to the evangelical world right now.

    If people still wanted to hear him speak and minister after that, so be it.

    But the lack of frank talk and disclosure when something very wrong has gone on is not healthy.

    And it’s not healthy for people outside the system to give Mahaney a clean bill of health. They are really not in a position to know, and what they do know they probably got from Mahaney and not from any more objective source.

  12. Oh, and I can’t believe he recycled a sermon – and did not tell people?

    If he said “This is a talk that I recently gave at an SGM meeting …” that would be o.k.

    When I was studying for the ministry in college, we used to call recycling sermons “Brown and Serve”.

  13. Al Mohler should not be using the phrase spiritual direction to describe SGM practices. As the coordinator of the Southeast Texas Branch of Spiritual Directors International, I am a spiritual director and a retired seminary professor who has developed and directed a program to train spiritual directors. I am also currently a spiritual director. Spiritual direction has its goal, the assisting of believers to improve their relationship with God in Trinity. It does not have as its goal, forcing and coercing people to accept the authority of a particular church or pastor. I am a Quaker myself and have directed people from most of the branches of Christianity and several different sexual orientations.

  14. That is a sad pull quote from the sermon at the top of the page. The first thing that jumped into my mind was:

    “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

    Hard hearts? Blind eyes? No wonder SGM and the like treat people the way they do. They see them in an adversarial light and apparently continue to even after they come into the fold.

    Jesus saw them as harassed and helpless and had compassion on them. May we always do the same.

  15. Anonymous,

    I’m just a mere (some would say gullible and easily deceived) FEMALE!

    Hopefully, some of the enlightened pastor types at T4G will come to the realization that there is trouble in T4G paradise (as you seem to have).

    Yes, I do hope you’ll share some of this factual, not speculative information with your pastor.

  16. “The idea that clergy were a magically superior caste”
    I listened to Mahaney’s intro — the 2 minutes prior to reading the scripture from II Cor 4. Pastor Pastors Pastoral Pastorally Pastoralia “Paul the Pastor”. 11 times, I believe. This is why Paul began his letter with “Paul, a Pastor” and in the featured chapter said “We have this pastorship” and “with ourselves as pastors”. (Ok — maybe he said Apostle and ministry and servants– but he really meant the modern 1-fold pastoral clergy system!)
    Also– anyone know what he means referring to Mark Dever with the Whitmanesque Oh Captain, My Captain!?? Did Dever get assassinated on Capitol Hill? Or that he considers pastors to be “captains” or “presidents” and Dever is his pastor?

  17. Dave A A

    I’m glad you brought up the overuse of the word “pastor” by Mahaney. I hope others will listen to the introduction to hear how ridiculous it was.

    Mahaney often refers to Dever as “Oh Captain My Captain.” He did it in his talk at SEBTS – he was one of the speakers at the first 9Marks conference held there.

    But remember, Mahaney said that Mohler is “the smartest man on the planet!” at a Resolved conference a few years back.

  18. Tikatu,

    I just learned to do a screen shot this week and inserted in into the 4.9.12 post. It was so much fun!

  19. Student
    Thanks. This stuff has always been of interest to me. Until blogging, I never knew what do with this information. I have often joked that we are the People Magazine of the postevangelical set.

  20. “People of Destiny, International”?

    That sounds presumptuous.

    But remember, Mahaney said that Mohler is “the smartest man on the planet!” at a Resolved conference a few years back. — Deb

    That’s not presumptuous, that’s just sucking up. Disraeli said that with a ruler, you lay the flattery on with a trowel.

    It truly is incredible that Mahaney is once again enthroned at Together for the Gospel, as though nothing of significance has happened in the SGM “family of churches”.

    And so CheKa is renamed OGPU which is renamed NKVD which is renamed KGB — “See? We’ve Changed! Really!”

    I’m glad you brought up the overuse of the word “pastor” by Mahaney. I hope others will listen to the introduction to hear how ridiculous it was. Mahaney often refers to Dever as “Oh Captain My Captain.” — Deb

    Over at TV Tropes, there’s an entry called “People’s Republic of Tyranny”, about the RL shtick that the more a country’s official name stresses how it’s so Democratic and Democratic and Democratic, the nastier a dictatorship it is.

    Maybe this is a similar dynamic? The more “Pastor” and “Servant” they say they are, the more of a cult leader they really are?

    And I can’t read the words “Oh Captain My Captain” without hearing them in a sexual context, gasped with bodice-ripper breathlessness.

  21. Theophilus
    Thank you for your comment. I have long been perplexed by the Calvinistas who overlook calvin’s transgressions. Worse, some of them have made it a lifelong goal to promote Calvin apologetics. I actually had one such man who came on this blog and say that Clavin had nothing to do with the Servetus incident.

    BTW, I am involved with a group called Christian Medical Dental Association. I have met some awesome Mennonites at the national meetings.

  22. Other things aren’t actually sin. Harshness? No, you’re being a ‘strong leader’. Duplicity? you’ve been ‘misunderstood’. Emotional abuse? The concept does exist in their world except when people are being mean to their leaders. Everyone else deserves what they get. — Lynne Tait

    — G. Orwell, Animal Farm

  23. Deb
    The sheep are in the perfect position to receive the left boot of fellowship when they get out of line. Yep, more “wounded” sheep to be ignored coming down the pike.

  24. Dave AA
    Mahaney certainly does not want anyone but those that adore him to be his “pastor.” I heard a Calvinista recently announce that he left the ministry to become the pastor. In other words, he no longer is part of the congregation who ministers. Weird, that.

  25. Barbara
    I did not know there was such an organization. I am here to inform you that, according to these folks, as a woman, you cannot spiritually direct anybody so they will ignore you. We won’t, though.

  26. Anonymous
    Then there was the little incident involving “convincing” Tomczak to step down by implying certain information on his son would be made public if Tomczak didn’t do as he was told and leave.The Tomczaks have written about this and it is deeply troubling.

    Off subject, and I wrote about this . here

    Tullian Tchvidjian came and addressed a local pregnancy support gathering here in the triangle. I happened to be in attendance. As usual, my baloney detected was turned on. So, Tullian went on and on about he sought the Lord to come up with a special message to give to this group of people. So, he gave a good talk. But, I did some quick research and found out that all he did was directly recycle material from his book (exact words in places.) Now, it was a good talk. but he made such a big deal of wrestling with the material. he should have said “Look, I just wrote a book. (You can buy it …stop Dee) and I am going to quote verbatim from that because it applies.” I don’t like being played.

    So, I guess they all do it.

  27. Deb and Dave A A –

    Dever and Mahaney just stroke each other’s egos. It’s plain weird how they all puff each other up. The scripture tells us not to BE puffed up. They all seem to have found a way to get around that by puffing each other up. It probably really makes you feel good to have another grown man exalt you (Dever) like that in front of 7,000 other men. I think Mahaney knows exactly what be is doing when he does that. He gets something in return.

  28. Bridget2 said: It’s plain weird how they all puff each other up. The scripture tells us not to BE puffed up. They all seem to have found a way to get around that by puffing each other up.

    Which immediately makes me think: Stay Puft Marshmallow Men
    The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a fictional character from the Ghostbusters franchise, which sometimes appears as a giant, lumbering paranormal monster. It becomes the physical manifestation of the Sumerian demonic deity Gozer.

    Huh. Who knew Ghostbusters was prophetic?

  29. “Perhaps you did not read the post where I discussed Mahaney’s recycled sermons. ”

    It’s interesting how pastors who spiritually abuse share similar characteristics as if they all went to the School of How to Spiritually Abuse (overlook sex abuse in the church, self-absorbed, repeat sermons, etc).

    What do they do in the time normal pastors would be preparing sermons? Hold up a mirror for themselves?

  30. It’s funny how widespread the CJ defending actually runs. Over on Teampyro (I don’t know why I bother with that site either), Frank Turk has been blogging from T$G. Someone made a comment about CJ & he threatened to delete anything negative about the guy! Seriously, why do they all act like the man was a victim? You would think he himself has been abused – it’s disturbing. The cover-up is amazing.

    And on a related topic…can those guys please, for all that is wonderful in the kingdom, stop using the word gospel as an adjective?

  31. In fairness, I don’t know much about SGM and should really not comment on this thread. But I couldn’t resist the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man reference.

    To the people who have been really hurt in SGM churches and are reading this: please know that I am not making light of your situation. The more I learn, the more bewildered I am that this could happen to you.

  32. Scott,

    I just saw those comments and will be including them in today’s post! I’ve already added them to my draft. Hey Pyro guys, go ahead and remove them just like CJ removed his post. We’ll still publish them. What are y’all so apprehensive? Afraid the truth will get out?

  33. CJ is just a selling snake oil. He’s like that good looking guy in High School/College that says all the right things to the woman in front of him, knowing all along that he’s said the same thing to dozens before him. He likes to keep his options open…

    CJ is a player and he will keep seeking out a stage to play any crowd that will tolerate him. To the local churches of SGM, all I can say is that CJ- He’s just not that into you anymore…..

  34. “And on a related topic…can those guys please, for all that is wonderful in the kingdom, stop using the word gospel as an adjective?”

    Thank you! However, it has given me the chance when conversing with folks to ask them what it means. Amazing what they often times think it encompasses. Which is why we end up with “Gospel” marriages, kids, quit smoking, etc.

    I think guys like Turk protect Mahaney because of Mohler, Dever, Chandler, etc. Mahaney is in the club. My assertion is that if Mohler, Dever, Duncan had broken with Mahaney, things would be much different than they are. I don’t think Mahaney could have bounced back so fast. They all covered for him. Actually, they covered for the evil perpetuated against people in SGM.

    What did Paul say to the church and elders in Acts 2o? I am innocent of any blood on my hands. I have given you the “WHOLE COUNSEL” of God. And that when he left, he know wolves would from among them (elders). It is amazing how many do not recognize wolves and their pack mentality.

  35. Theophilus,

    I am not saying they are the same thing. I am merely saying that the Calvinist get together and some have anabaptist roots with Calvinist leaning yet they act as if they are reinventing the reformation they started. I am just merely trying to point out that even with the first reformation people weren’t exactly Together for the Gospel. They actually argue quite a bit with each other.

  36. Dee, you are right. He probably would have been burning someone. Can we all agree to just run away from these guys?

    Dee, did you happen to read Internetmonks discussion last week sometime concerning John Piper and wayne Grudem suggesting the Creed should have “he descended into hell”omitted?

  37. Robin

    Glad to hear it; I must have misunderstood your reference. I’m a Mennonite myself and a bit of a history nerd, so I tend to perk up when references to Anabaptism appear. Fun fact: I am told that some recent research by a European Baptist PhD candidate suggests that the earliest Baptist statement of faith draws primarily from the Westminster Confession (Reformed) and the writings of Menno Simons (Anabaptist). I’ll bet Mohler and the other Calvinistas in the Baptist camp wouldn’t like Menno so much, though. All that stuff about peace and not recoursing to coercion really wouldn’t fly.

  38. Dee, it’s not just that calvinistas are recycling their own sermons. Sometimes, they use others’ sermons. I know one of them in my city who “preached” a sermon once that I just loved. Thought it was great. Well, you can imagine my dismay when a few weeks later I happened to listen to a sermon from Tim Keller (that he had delivered one year prior) and realized where my local guy got his great message.

  39. The exegesis that goes on among these men is a subject for another post (Please ladies!!!). You hear all the time from these guys about the importance of “biblical exposition.” Then, they get up and speak. It takes all of 2 minutes to realize that they wanted to say something, usually this involves a passive-aggressive criticism of “liberal” straw men, and they’re using Scripture simply as a collection of proof-texts. They load their theology into every text, completely butchering the original context and narrative.

    Take a look at DeYoung’s talk and the one given by Platt. They plain torture the text to get their point across. It’s quite sad. And, these men are held up as sublime examples of faithfulness to the text.

  40. Robin
    That passage in the Nicene Creed has been debated throughout the eons. Fo us, today, hell means precisely that. Some believe that instead, Jesus died and went to the grave.

    However, some believe that Jesus went to a literal hell where “he wrested the key of Life from the devil.” This perspective is not born up by Scripture. Jesus said “It is finished” when he died. No other “battle” was necessary. He also told the their on the cross that they would be together “tonight in “paradise.”

    I need to read all the perspectives at IM. Miguel commented here that there are about 15 different interpretations of this line in the Creed. For me, it is a secondary issue but I do not tend to say it myself when reciting the Creed. But I bet I could be convinced that I should say it.

  41. Speaking of “pastoralia”, as CJ quoted– I useta be a pastor but never heard of pastoralia until today from CJ. Is it like glossolalia, meaning pastors require the presence of an interpreter in order that the sheeple be edified? Seriously, aside from a futuristic story by George Saunders and some 13th century Didactic literature described by Leonard Boyle, I did find this very interesting website by a former church-planter:

  42. One excellent excerpt from May 8 2011
    3. I ceased to be a disciple
    Three years ago when I left my job as an Executive Pastor in a large church I set out to become a non-professional pastor – what I found out was I didn’t know how to be a non-professional Christian.

    As a pastor, I loved spending all my time, energy, and thoughts on my faith. I loved going to my office every day of the week. I loved the pace, the studying, the constant contemplation of theology, the time for prayer, the counseling of distraught people, and, most of all, the preaching in front of attentive crowds. I loved doing this for a living. It was a great life.

    But I’ve discovered that was a privileged life that shared little in common with the people I led.

  43. Dave A A –

    It sounds like that pastor you quote did some serious looking at himself and even compared what he saw to scripture. Good for him!

  44. My contribution to this thread is admittedly derivative—even tangential, but I have a feeling there is a critical mass of readers who will appreciate this and want to check it out. While researching a piece for The Steam Tunnel on Doug Wilson, I came across a message given by one of his buddies at a pastor’s conference in which the subject of C.J. Mahaney’s leave of abence is addressed — only C.J.’s name is conveniently left out. The speaker is Tim Bayly of the infamous Bully Brothers Blog (oops—I’m sorry, I meant Bayly Brothers Blog). He begins his reference to Mahaney 19:48 into the message, and drones on for about 5 minutes. But what’s fascinating is that he defends Mahaney against the “unentreatable” charge, basically by arguing that pastors should be unentreatable! It’s a landmark piece of authoritarian rhetoric, and I think it gives great insight into the mindset of Mahaney’s defenders.

    Here’s the (LINK) for the audio message (remember, he starts talking about Mahaney just under 20 minutes into the message). And, just in case you need a good laugh after hearing it, the piece we did on Doug Wilson (“Federal Vision Was All a Big Joke”), here’s the (LINK)for that story.

    Sergius Martin-George

  45. One thing I’ve picked up on over the course of my sojourn here at TWW, is that the church is evolving (or trying to anyway). The old model of church since the time of Constantine hasn’t changed much at all. More of the same hierarchy and authority structures, they’ve only morphed into a diversity similar to Darwin’s finches.

    Hmmmm… What will common ancestry and natural selection produce over time? Will it take billions of years for the church to fully evolve?

  46. ” But what’s fascinating is that he defends Mahaney against the “unentreatable” charge, basically by arguing that pastors should be unentreatable! It’s a landmark piece of authoritarian rhetoric, and I think it gives great insight into the mindset of Mahaney’s defenders.”‘

    Sergius, Good find! Amazing, isn’t it. It goes back to the “special knowledge” the authorities have because of their position so they should not be rebuked by just anyone. I suppose their “total depravity” after salvation has special dispensation or something?

    What is even more interesting about the Bayly Brothers is they were the original hosts of CBMW. That ought to scare anyone. They were like Doug Wilson if you commented at their blog and said something they did not like, they insisted on your pastors name and number so as to demand you be disciplined. It is incredible what these men think of themselves. Scary stuff. And people follow them!

  47. Thanks Sergius!

    Oh yes, from what one of our commenters said a while back, the Bayly Brothers had a hand in starting CBMW.

    Also, they were the ones who let us know on their blog that Russell Moore prefers the term “patriarchy” over “complementarian”.

  48. “Still There” : “Is The Sage Of ‘Terra Rubra’… Far Away?”

    HowDee YaAll,

       Sadly, it would seem that many a kind folk have been pushed or lead far away from where God the Father, and His precious Son’s grace would envision for them, by those who would call themselves by todays standards, pastors or shepherds, here in this great land of ours where “freedom and justice for all” is like the flag that was still flying that fateful morning at Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore, September 14, 1814, 

    “Still There”, and our watch words…

      Unfortunately, in today’s world, certain religion pusher(s) want to be the dispensers of this wonderful freedom that Christ’s death & resurrection provided for us, instead of being simply “it’s” messenger. 

    It is an old tactic. 

    (Please, dear reader, don’t fall for it!)

    Jesus said He alone is the dispenser of this wonderful freedom, all others being just thieves and robbers (His strong descriptive words to describe these types of individuals)

    ( Should doze big bad ole faux shepherds of today juz go n’ soak dar sweet widdle heads?)


    Come on over ta  Jesus’ table… Ya hear? He’s gotz real nice root beer and plenty O’ fried chicken…

    Da coleslaw and da sweet tea, is pa-ticularly good…



    Sopy ㋡  
    (see: John 10:10)

    Kari Jobe – “Rescue”

    Bonus: Kari Jobe – “Come to me”

  49. Well, this is probably no surprise to you, but the Baylys have made many recent statements disavowing their participation in CBMW, as they believe it has gone completely off the rails in an egalitarian direction. One shudders to contemplate what sort of world looks right to them.

  50. Serge,
    Loved the DW “interview”. His dad was once my pastor , and seemed like a sincere, faithful, and, well, NORMAL one.

  51. Lynne –

    Your comment is sadly true. You should listen to the past 5 weeks of his sermons at the Solid Rock Church. He clearly sees himself as a victim. He does not have a clear picture of himself. He flees to places and people that will enable him. I fear they do not love the man, but only the celebrity he brings to the churches and conferences where he preaches.

  52. “More Rather…Steady My Heart?, Yes!, I will run to you Jesus, and be safe!”


    Has C.J. Mahaney just distorted & possibly destroyed any credibility the T4G might have had? Has he now caused many who wish to follow Christ to “Loose Heart” ?


    “…FIRST you shall understand that we have laden in our good ship, called the ‘Faith’, one Chest, the keyes whereof we doe heere deliver you… Herein doth lye the precious ‘message’ of Christ’s of us’, deliver’d from Satan’s pow’r n’ set in da hollow of Jesus’ hand. Guard it wit your life. For herein doth lie the safety of many…”  -Sopy

    hum…hum…♪ ♫ Wish it could be easy, why is life so messy, why is pain such a part of us? There are days I feel like nothing ever gonna go right, sometimes it just hurts so much…

    ♪ ♫ But You’re here, You’re real, I know I can trust You even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, even when it all just falls apart… So, I will run to You cause I know that You are lover of my soul, n’ da healer of my scars…

    ♪ ♫ You steady my heart…You steady my heart, so I’m not gonna worry, I know that You got me right inside the palm of your hand, each and every moment, what’s good and what gets broken, happens just the way that You plan…

    ♪ ♫ And I will run to You , You’re my refuge in Your arms, and I will sing to You cause of everything You are! 

    ♪ ♫ You steady my heart, You steady my heart…You uphold me that I may be safe…(Ps 119:117

    Sopy ㋡  
    Kari Jobe – “Steady my Heart”

  53. If anyone’s interested in deeper issues of clerical power versus empowering the church, this article, which just came up on my facebook, is VERY interesting.

    Ministry as Empowerment

    I especially like the way it looks at power by comparing territoriality to hospitality — I don’t think I’ve seen it addressed in those terms before!

  54. “Your comment is sadly true. You should listen to the past 5 weeks of his sermons at the Solid Rock Church. He clearly sees himself as a victim. He does not have a clear picture of himself. He flees to places and people that will enable him. ”

    Sounds similar to the behvavior of those with narcissistic personality disorder.

  55. I have long been perplexed by the Calvinistas who overlook calvin’s transgressions. Worse, some of them have made it a lifelong goal to promote Calvin apologetics. I actually had one such man who came on this blog and say that Calvin had nothing to do with the Servetus incident. — Dee

    Because Calvin is their God, and a God Can Do No Wrong.