AoR Report Released: Just How Unhealthy Is SGM ?

"Because we met with such a small percentage of members (less than 1⁄2 of 1%), our observations may not accurately reflect the entire association of churches. Nevertheless, we offer these observations as part of our report."

Ambassadors of Reconciliation Report, page 13

 

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At long last the Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AoR) Report has been made available through the Sovereign Grace Ministries blog. When this group was hired by SGM's Board of Directors last summer, we had never heard of them so we took a closer look. Historically, SGM has had close ties with Peacemaker Ministries, so it came as no surprise that there are some definite connections between AoR and Peacemaker Ministries.  

A few years ago we were involved in conversations with Barbara Dorris of SNAP and Jeff Anderson, the attorney who has defended abuse victims of the Roman Catholic clergy and is currently involved in the Sandusky affair.  Both of them admonished us to NEVER take our eyes off the victims.  We have made this our prime directive here at TWW, and we believe those who follow our blog can testify that we are extremely loyal to those who have been hurt.  As we reviewed the AoR findings, our loyal readers can likely imagine our reaction to this callous statement in the report:

"Those most upset displayed to us anger or bitterness or hatred toward SGM and their former church leaders for events that took place ten to fifteen years ago. Some were so hurt or angry that they displayed tears, raised voices, clenched fists, and other physical demonstrations of anger. As we talked about bitterness or anger, several responded with raised or strained voices to our team members insisting that they were not angry or bitter." (p. 18, AoR Report)

These Ambassadors of Reconciliation have violated our prime directive by heaping further abuse on those who have been deeply wounded by SGM.  Their report demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that the AoR's loyalty is toward SGM's leadership; however, we believe they have unwittingly demonstrated that Sovereign Grace Ministries is definitely NOT a healthy "family of churches", which we will examine in this post.

Before we conduct our examination, we would like to call your attention to several statements in the AoR Report that alarmed us.

First, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation openly admitted that they were "inexperienced in this system". (p. 11, AoR Report)  That is an incredible admission!  Dee and I have been researching Sovereign Grace Ministries for over three and a half years! 

Secondly, the report states: "Of the 250 different individuals that provided input to AoR, about half were estimated to be no longer directly associated with SGM. These included past SGM leaders, pastors, and members of SGM churches. Considering that SGM has approximately 28,000 people in its churches, AoR received direct information from less than one half of one percent of the total current membership.  Accordingly, AoR was unable to conclude that the input it received accurately reflects the majority of viewpoints from people currently in SGM churches." (p. 5, AoR Report)

What a surprising admission by these "professionals"!

Thirdly, the report includes this remark:  "Another surprising response was the negative reaction to our confidentiality policy." (p. 9, AoR Report)

This statement is particularly disturbing because on page 2 of the AoR Interview Agreement, the "Confidentiality" section includes this statement:

"We ask that you agree not to discuss our communication with people who do not have a necessary interest in the reconciliation process."

We are in disbelief that the AoR staff did not understand why SGMers were upset over the confidentiality issue.  Not only that but Peacemaker Ministries have required that some SGMers sign nondisclosure agreements in the past.  AoR should have been crystal clear on this issue from the beginning.   They failed to communicate this matter properly.

There is so much to discuss about the Ambassadors of Reconciliation Report; however, in this post we want to limit our focus to the following issue regarding SGM: 

How Healthy Is Your Church?

We will be looking at eleven questions which Ronald Enroth includes in his book Recovering from Churches That Abuse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1994. 

Enroth's questions are in bold, and the quotes from the AoR Report are in italics.  The responses to these questions will help us determine whether the SGM "family of churches" is healthy or unhealthy.  We are using information included in the Ambassadors of Reconciliation Report to answer these questions. 

1. Does a member’s personality generally become stronger, happier, more confident as a result of contact with the group?

In an abusive church, the use of guilt, fear, and intimidation to control members is likely to produce members who have a low self-image, who feel beaten down by legalism, who have been taught that asserting oneself is not spiritual.  One of the first disturbing characteristics to be reported by relatives and friends of members of these churches is a noticeable change in personality, usually in a negative direction.

From the AoR Report:

Doctrine of Sin

"As we met with people, they often mentioned the Doctrine of Sin and described the impact on their personal and corporate lives. Obviously the organization’s teaching on the Doctrine of Sin plays an important role in the church’s preaching and practice as well as within small group ministries.

Many described the extent at which small groups would hold one another accountable by scrutinizing each other’s lives according to the Doctrine of Sin. A number of people noted how this had helped them or others grow deeply in their understanding of Scripture and their personal faith.

Some who were critical of SGM (including those still in SGM churches) described how small group leaders or pastors or SGM leaders worked to “drill down” (an actual quote) to the root causes of people’s sins. Some described being examined by their leader (in various levels) for several hours. Although seen as a blessing or strength by many, others saw an abusive side of the practice of this teaching when it had the affect of beating people down or unfairly scrutinizing them." (p. 15)

FYI – the correct term is "effect", not "affect" (my English professors at Duke had a profound effect on me!)

2. Do members of the group seek to strengthen their family commitments?

Nearly all unhealthy churches attempt to minimize the commitments of their members to their family, especially parents. Young people may be told that they now have a new “spiritual” family, complete with leaders who will “re-parent” them. Church loyalty is seen as paramount, and family commitments are discouraged or viewed as impediments to spiritual advancement.

From the AoR Report:

"Through this well developed system, people develop close relationships within their small groups, often describing their small group relations as stronger than those in their natural families." (p. 14)

3. Does the group encourage independent thinking and the development of discernment skills?

Control-oriented leaders attempt to dictate what members think, although the process is so spiritualized that members usually do not realize what is going on.  A pastor or leader is viewed as God’s mouth piece, and in varying degrees a member’s decision making and ability to think for oneself are swallowed up by the group.  Pressure to conform and low tolerance for questioning make it difficult to be truly discerning.

From the AoR Report:

"A few individuals described situations in which they were disciplined for things they disagreed with, but expressed repentance to the leaders in order to be restored in fellowship. Others indicated that they refused to admit things that they felt were not sins and thus made no attempts to be restored to their churches." (p. 18)

4. Does the group allow for individual differences of belief and behavior, particularly on issues of secondary importance?

A legalistic emphasis on keeping rules and a focus on the need to stay within prescribed boundaries is always present in unhealthy spiritual environments.  Lifestyle rigidity in such groups increase a member’s guilt feelings and contributes to spiritual bondage.

From the AoR Report:

"As we explored this issue (confidentiality) with people, they indicated that they had experienced times when church leaders (pastors and/or small group leaders) or SGM leaders appeared to use confidentiality to keep secret matters which these people felt should have been shared openly. For example, when Brent Detwiler’s documents had been widely distributed and then published on a blog, people felt that some of what Brent wrote about should have been disclosed long ago to reveal weaknesses and offenses of key leaders.

A few described situations where they or others they knew well were under a disciplinary process. While under discipline, they indicated that they were strictly charged to not discuss anything about their discipline case with anyone. In some cases, however, church leaders announced that individuals were under discipline and described the reasons why. Those who were under these restrictions felt this was unfair that the leaders could talk about them publicly but they could not defend themselves.

Others described situations where they were told that someone else was undergoing a process of correction and they were admonished not to talk to those under correction or to have anything to do with them. This type of situation was described at the small group level, the church level, and also at the SGM level." (pp. 9-10)

"A few individuals described situations in which they were disciplined for things they disagreed with, but expressed repentance to the leaders in order to be restored in fellowship. Others indicated that they refused to admit things that they felt were not sins and thus made no attempts to be restored to their churches." (p. 18)

5. Does the group encourage high moral standards both among members and between members and non members?

In intense, legalistic churches and religious organizations, the official, public proclamations usually place special value on high moral standards.  In some instances, there is a double standard between those in leadership and those in the rank and file membership. 

We know from our extensive research of SGM that there is a double standard between leadership and rank and file membership due to the authoritarian structure of SGM. Furthermore, the Ambassadors of Reconciliation demonstrated a double standard when it described SGM leadership as being extremely cooperative and the rank-in-file members in a more negative light.

6. Does the group’s leadership invite dialogue, advice and evaluation from outside its immediate circle?

Authoritarian pastors are usually threatened by any outside expression of diverse opinions, whether from inside or outside the group. When outside speakers are given access to the pulpit, they are carefully selected to minimize any threat to the leadership’s agenda.  Coercive pastors are fiercely independent and do not function well in a structure of accountability.  For the sake of public relations, they may boast that they are accountable to a board of some sort, when in actuality the board is composed of “yes-men” who do not question the leader’s authority.

From the AoR Report:

"Through our interviews, we were given a list of approximately 100 names of pastors, small group leaders, and other staff members who are no longer serving in their positions. In reviewing that list, the Board clarified which names were pastors. The Board then added some additional names of former pastors that were not included on the original list. Through this process, the Board identified 53 pastors who have resigned or have been removed from their positions. Of the 53 pastors, 17 were removed for cause, 11 resigned with disagreement, and 25 left their positions for their own reasons (to take another position, for retirement, etc.). The Board recognized that while some of these cases were appropriately handled, the lack of written policies contributed to handling some of these cases in an inconsistent manner." (p. 19)

"Because the Board is solely accountable to itself, and because Board members are accountable to the Chairman and the President, and because the Chairman and President are accountable to the Board, there seems to us to be a lack of structured outside accountability among top SGM leaders that is expected for the member-churches and their pastors. Although there may be theological reasons for this leadership structure, we observed that such a system of accountability is subject to criticism because of apparent conflicts of interest." (p. 25)

7. Does the group allow for development in theological beliefs?

Another hallmark of an authoritarian church is its intolerance of any belief system different from its own.  They tend to measure and evaluate all forms of Christian spirituality according to their own carefully prescribed system, adopting an “us-versus-them” mentality.

From the AoR Report:

Disagreement with Leadership

"Some indicated that as long you didn’t question leadership, you would not likely experience difficulties in SGM. But if you disagreed with leadership, especially publicly, you would be targeted for disciplinary action and could experience the kinds of hurts that others described. This contributed to a sense of fear and distrust of leadership within SGM or its churches. This observation was made from those who experienced difficulties as well as some who had not." (p. 20)

8. Are group members encouraged to ask hard questions of any kind?

A cardinal rule of abusive systems is “Don’t ask questions, don’t make waves.”  A healthy pastor welcomes even tough questions. In an unhealthy church disagreement with the pastor is considered to be disloyalty and is tantamount to disobeying God.  People who repeatedly question the system are labeled “rebellious”, “unteachable”, or “disharmonious to the body of Christ”.  Persistent questioners may face sanctions of some kind such as being publicly ridiculed, shunned, shamed, humiliated, or disfellowshiped.

From the AoR Report:

Church Cases Involving Discipline

"Former members of congregations described situations in which they were under disciplinary processes for a number of reasons. We heard from a few people that as part of the discipline process, they were warned not to talk to anyone else about their situation. Some indicated that others were told to withdraw from them, leaving them to feel isolated, until such time as their leaders (small group leaders or pastors) believed that they were sufficiently repentant to be restored. Because of the close relationships that had grown in the care group they were in, they felt shunned and isolated from people that were formerly very close to them. They felt cut off from the support they needed at a most critical time. They expressed anger, bitterness, and grief over losing these close relationships. In some cases, the relationships included those who were family members." (pp. 17-18)

"A few former leaders described being pressured to read public confessions that they said they did not fully agree with. And yet they read them in order to be restored. Several expressed resentment for what they described as misuse of authority." (p. 19)

9. Do members appreciate truth wherever it is found even if it is outside their group?

Whether they admit it or not, abusive churches tend to view themselves as spiritually superior to other Christian groups.  This religious elitism allows little room for outside influences. There can be no compromise with external sources, who, the leadership will say, really don’t understand what is going on in the ministry anyway.

From the AoR Report:

A Commitment to Church Planting and Reaching Out with the Gospel

"A distinguishing mark of SGM and its churches is its emphasis on church planting and reaching out with the Gospel. SGM has been extremely successful in its three-decade history of planting and growing churches. From a single church, this association of churches has grown into a body of 90 churches throughout the US and abroad." (p. 14)

SGM plants churches because they believe their way of doing church is far superior to anything else out there. 

10. Is the group honest in dealing with nonmembers, especially as it tries to win them to the group?

Sometimes abusive groups illustrate a “split-level religion”. There is one level for public presentation and another for the inner circle of membership.  The former is a carefully crafted public relations effort, the latter a reality level experienced only by the “true believers”.  Recruitment tactics are usually intense, even if they are not actually deceptive or fraudulent, they can be manipulative or exploitive.  Sometimes high pressure religious groups are evasive about there true identity: “We really don’t have a name, we’re just Christians.”  A healthy Christian group should have no qualms about revealing who it is and what its intentions are.

The AoR Report did not address nonmembers.

11. Does the group foster relationships and connections with the larger society that are more than self-serving?

First impressions are not always correct. Sustained contact with an unhealthy church, however, will usually reveal a pattern that is consistent with the characteristics we have identified.  Members will be requested to serve, to become involved, to sign up for a variety of activities that, upon closer inspection, appear to maintain the system and serve the needs of the leadership.  Abusive churches thrive on tactics that promote dependency.  Emphasizing obedience and submission to leaders, these churches often require a level of service that is overwhelming to members, resulting in emotional turmoil and spiritual breakdowns. 

From the AoR Report:

"People in SGM value church planting. This was obvious to us as we learned that in new church plants several members relocated their families just to start a church in a new location. This involved selling homes and giving up current jobs to move to another community (sometimes across country!) just for the purpose of growing a new church. We observed that many people throughout SGM have willingly sacrificed a great deal personally for the sake of the Gospel. This is an unusual trait among Christian groups that speaks strongly of the church-wide commitment to church planting and spreading the Gospel."

A Caring Community Built through Small Group Ministry

"SGM churches provide Christian care and grow together as disciples in what we observed is a well-developed small group ministry. Families participate in small groups for fellowship, study, and prayer. In these groups, we learned that they discuss the challenges and joys of living the Christian life. As in church planting, some families actually sell homes and relocate to be closer to their small group." (p. 14)

If there are other items included in the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report that you believe fit under these eleven questions that identify abusive churches, please let us know.

In an upcoming post we will provide some information we believe will be helpful to those who have been spiritually abused.  In the meantime, here are some excellent resources we recommend:

Abusive Churches: Leaving Them Behind

Recovering From Churches That Abuse

Characteristics of Abusive Churches

The Barnabas Ministry

 

PRAYER REQUEST

Our dear friend Eagle has asked that we lift his father up in prayer.  Here is his specific request.

This past week has been tough for my Father. He's been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation since having a brain tumor removed in early March. He tried going back to work last week due to cabin fever and then on Friday he started having a lot of difficulties. He was inverting sentences, becoming angry, and frustrated, mixing up vocabulary and not making sense. It reminded my family of how things started on January 12.

The doctor came by and visited and decided he didn't have to go back to the hospital and that he was experiencing brain swelling, and changed his medicine. I've spoken to my Dad a couple of times and he's trying hard to communicate but same days are better than others. On Sunday night he got frustrated that he couldn't speak with me and passed the phone to my Mom. On Monday he sounded better… Today he sent an inverted text message to me. But due to what's going on the treating doctor decided to do another MRI scan this Friday at 4:00 PM. (7:00 Eastern)

If you could keep my Dad in your thoughts, or prayers this Friday, I would be grateful.

Here's specifically what I am asking for:

1. That the scan comes back clean and that there are no surprises.

2. For my Mom who has been on an emotional roller coaster. When I spoke to her on Saturday she sobbed on the phone to me.

3. For my Dad that he will make a recovery.

4. That this period in my family's life will be over.

Thanks guys..(and gals!) I'm hopeful, but this is going to be a long haul situation. I appreciate this greatly….

Eagle

 

Lydia's Corner:   Ezekiel 14:12-16:41   Hebrews 7:18-28    Psalm 106:1-12   Proverbs 27:4-6

Comments

AoR Report Released: Just How Unhealthy Is SGM ? — 161 Comments

  1. Thanks Deb, for that thorough report on the report (a meta report?)

    The self-congratulatory tone of this report is disturbing both from a methodological perspective and a spiritual/theological one.

    Right off the bat:

    “Because so many in SGM had indicated that they were well indoctrinated in biblical peacemaking from Peacemaker Ministries and their resources, the AoR team determined to utilize the half-day seminar Getting to the Heart of Conflict for the initial teaching piece rather than the standard Blessed Are the Peacemakers. This half-day seminar included teaching and exercises on pronouncing God’s forgiveness that many in attendance said they had never seen before. They expressed great appreciation for these new insights” (p. 2).

    After that I was expecting to read something to the effect of: “and about three thousand were added to the Lord that day.”

    Granted, they follow this up with what appears to be a transparent revelation of objections and obstacles they faced in their investigation; accordingly, that tone of self-congratulation quickly transitions into one of defensiveness, and it seems that certain precincts of the blogosphere are the chief offenders in their view. Are they claiming that TWW is guilty of publishing false or premature information that contributed to what they say is an unprecedentedly rough outing?

    Finally, to end on an upbeat note: for those who might appreciate some comic relief from the T4G/Pyromaniacs/Mahaney comment-suppression regime which was on display last week, we finally weighed in with a piece at the Steam Tunnel:

    Radio Free T4G (LINK)

    We actually mention the “pre-incarnate” report in our piece, which, by the way, is dedicated to Jeff B.

    Praying for Eagle’s Dad,

    SMG (not SGM)

  2. SMG -

    Well, I’m surprised and honored to be the dedicatee of the piece you and others wrote. This almost makes up for the terrible disappointment I felt when Frank Turk “unfollowed” (“unled”?) me on Twitter.

    And I appreciated the references to another Pyro guy. Funny.

  3. @ JeffB

    So does this mean you won’t be purchasing a copy of TWWTG2WTF? Cause you can get the Kindle edition for $0.99 over at christianwebsiteredacted.com — for a limited time only, of course.

  4. JeffB,

    Unfollowed you on Twitter? :P

    That may be worse than being unfriended on Facebook. :-)

    Regarding the AoR Report, there will definitely be more analysis… I was extremely disappointed by how they condemned the blogs. I’m not sure if it was AoR or CeeJay since the date of the report was the same as the first day of T4G – more on that next time.

    AoR had best get with the program because blogs are here to stay! The more hyper-authoritarian pastors mimic Mahaney, the more blogs there will be popping up. Mars Hill Refuge is a perfect example.

    Ted Kober had best get with the program because Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and who knows what else is currently being developed are the future of communication. AoR needs to get with the program!

    Oh boy! I’m starting to write another post! I’ll probably be addressing this next week. So much to report, so little time…

  5. Pingback: You-read-it-here-first department | Civil Commotion

  6. Deb and Dee: I read this report and find myself clenching my fists, so I guess I am among the angry ones they talk about and I am not SGM.

    I have never been able to understand the fact that the church is there for people, hurting people, yet when people are hurt due to the practices of the church, the church blames the person hurting. It seems SGM is out of touch with the mission of the church. It’s heartbreaking to me while it does make me angry. I am simply tired of people who come to church being beat up. It’s just got to stop.

  7. Sergius,

    Your Radio Free T4G spoof was brilliant!

    I loved this part:

    CALLER: Yeah, I can hear you just fine. Look, Custodian, I hate to say it, but the caller before me was right. I feel very uncomfortable with C.J. being up there when they completely glossed over his… (screeching sound, followed by silence).

    (pause)

    HOST: Hello? (pause). Hello? (long pause) Well, what can I say? I think we lost another one. Podcasting is hardly immune from technical glitches, you know. I think the problem may be sunspots—it is Spring, after all. (pause) Now listen. While we’re waiting for our next call, I want to say something. Lay off C.J. in these calls, okay? No more calls about C.J. Got it? When I upload this podcast to iTunes, I’m going to be deleting them. Not kidding. Don’t get banned.”

    After reading the rebuke of bloggers in the AoR Report, I needed some comic relief!

  8. Debbie K,

    I could NEVER imagine any of this playing out at Emmanuel.

    I hope those who have been spiritually abused and then re-abused by the AoR Report will tune in to EChurch and become familiar with what a REAL PASTOR looks like.

    Pastors like Wade Burleson are the only ones worthy of following. Surely, there are others out there. At least I can hope…

  9. I’m a regular reader, rare (if never) commenter, but I just wanted to comment and say that I’ll keep Eagle, his family, and especially his Dad in my thoughts and prayers today.

  10. Deb -

    Thanks for the connections between spiritual abuse and the statements by AoR regarding SGM. There were some critical disclaimers by AoR in the report. I believe AoR was not qualified to respond to SGM problems for several reasons (and there are probably more).

    First, they have a connection with Peacemakers and Ken Sande. Although I am not sure that Ken Sande has or wants to be involved with SGM at this point, there was a connection in the past.

    Second, they are not trained psychologists, or trained medically in any way, and it does not appear from their report that they had any idea what they were getting into. AoR appeared stunned at the way people were responding. REALLY! What did they expect. I wonder if they even believe that “spiritual abuse” exists. Given CJ’s teachings and position on psychiatry, I would think that he wouldn’t want any one trained in that profession to talk with any members or former members. I think CJ would have a hard time acknowledging the existence of spiritual abuse. All of this is very sad for people who went and talked with AoR. Now they read a report that again puts “you are in sin because you are bitter,” etc., back on the abused. Is there never justified anger about being wrongly or harshly treated with these people? I believe there is something wrong with some of the teaching from Peacemaker. It was the rage for so long in many groups, but you never seem to get anywhere when YOU are the one hurt by leaders.

    Third, AoR has a disclaimer that they were unqualified to deal with CJ Mahaney’s “fitness” for ministry because they were unfamiliar with SGM’s doctrines and how they are practiced. *RED FLAG.* SGM is a Christian group and another Christian group is not familiar with their doctrines? For goodness sake, AoR, maybe you should warn all these poor people that something is amiss. AoR does bring up a lack of a formal, or any, way in which members can address issues with leaders (even members with small group leader?).

    Why would you trust a Family of Churches (SGM’s term for themselves) when their doctrines are not clear, have changed over time at the direction of ONE man and without warning, and they are not communicated to the “Family” of churches? Maybe CJ thinks the pastors of SGM are just dumb sheep, and the pastors, in turn, think their members are dumb sheep? That is the impression I get from the way CJ and his board have NOT communicated with the pastors in their “Family” of Churches. Families don’t treat each other this way! Well, maybe they do if they have an “authoritative” father who doesn’t communicate with them. Or, maybe he has favorite kids? Is that a way to show love to other adults?

    It’s pretty plain. People are hurt and abused because of lacking leadership, whether it is intentional or not (intentional would be far worse, of course). The people who tend to be hurt the most are the ones who “always” want to “think the best,” but should be taught (by LEADERS) to be wise Bereans.

    Maybe SGM leaders shouldn’t be leaders? And maybe CJ should go do stand-up comedy somewhere if he likes the stage and wants attention. Please just stop leading other Christians to who knows where!

  11. Sergius
    They are ignoring TWW and pointing fingers directly at the victims on SGM Survivors and Refuge. You know, those poor people who “clenched their fists” when recounting the abuse? Those horrible, unforgiving people who carry a grudge against the fine, upstanding “authority” figures? AOR should be ashamed of themselves. Why not just kick the let down people on the way out. AOR has demonstrated to this woman that they are as biased as the rest of us. My new motto-Never, ever go to conflict resolution led by those whose “ministry” relies solely on the support of pastors and church leaders. Guess which side they will come down on?

    I look forward to reading your post.

  12. Dee,

    Did you notice how schizophrenic this report appears?

    On the one hand, you have the AoR stating:

    “SGM and its churches have not developed structured ways for people to bring their concerns or complaints against their small group leaders or pastors, thus leaving people to find their own methods for doing so.

    In church discipline cases, there did not appear to us to be a defined process for people to appeal their cases, which led to people finding other ways to express their disagreement with the disciplinary actions taken against them.”

    Then a few pages later they write:

    “One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking, emails, blogs and meetings.

    While every Christian would agree that gossip and slander are sinful, many in SGM failed to recognize when they initiated, participated, or listened to and read sinful communications.”

    Perhaps we need to review the meaning of ‘slander’.

    Slander – A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

    Gossip, slander, sinful communications? Is describing how your three year old daughter was raped by a male teenager considered by AoR to be slander and sinful communication?

    There is so much more to say about this disjointed report.

  13. Deb
    Great post. Look, there were those people who were involved in the horse industry who fought the car, tooth and nail. It was a losing proposition. These guys needs to get with it and understand that blogging is here and they need to figure out coping strategies.

  14. Deb:

    You mentioned the following: “One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking, emails, blogs and meetings.

    While every Christian would agree that gossip and slander are sinful, many in SGM failed to recognize when they initiated, participated, or listened to and read sinful communications.”

    I get the impression people are being told to do as they are told and ask no questions.

    That is cultic.

  15. Debbie
    AoR has exposed it’s underbelly and, in my opinion, appears to be a tool of leaders. To add hurt to those already beaten is beyond the pale. Yep, my fists are clenched as well. In fact, we should all clench our fists in solidarity with the wounded.

  16. Deb
    One of the many reasons why I am grateful Wade is doing these sermons for us is this – he is a role model of a great pastor. Folks who have been hurt need to listen to him and read his website before they join another church.

  17. Dee,

    I guess they didn’t have time to polish their report. After all, they only had about a nine month window to complete their work.

  18. Bridget2
    You nailed it.”Third, AoR has a disclaimer that they were unqualified to deal with CJ Mahaney’s “fitness” for ministry because they were unfamiliar with SGM’s doctrines and how they are practiced. *RED FLAG.* SGM is a Christian group and another Christian group is not familiar with their doctrines? For goodness sake, AoR, maybe you should warn all these poor people that something is amiss. AoR does bring up a lack of a formal, or any, way in which members can address issues with leaders (even members with small group leader?).” People need to pay attention to this. It is probably the most honest thing that was said.

  19. Deb

    Well welcome to the home of TWW “Home to Sinful Communications.”

    Do they realize how silly they sound?

  20. Deb
    They should have asked you. Professional and this report => an oxymoron.

    It is one more mediocre attempt by some Christians to mimic real mediation.

  21. It’s fairly obvious that SGM is trying to bury the AoR Report in its archives. There have been two subsequent posts with this being the latest:

    Sovereign Grace Ministries Relocation Announcement

    From the Board:

    At our recent retreat, the Sovereign Grace Ministries Board decided to relocate the Pastors College and our Gaithersburg office to Louisville, Kentucky. The move will take place in 2012. Given the significance of the decision, we wanted to communicate with you directly about how we reached this decision and share some of its implications.

    Here is perhaps the most interesting part of the announcement:

    “There are three questions that we anticipate you’ll have immediately.

    First, don’t we want the Pastors College to be near a Sovereign Grace church?

    The answer is yes. However, another recent development will remedy this. The Leadership Team has wanted to plant a church in Louisville near the seminary for several years, and after speaking at a college event there in February 2011 C.J. began to consider leading the plant himself. He made this desire known to us when we were seated as a Board, and we approved the plant this month. Although this was by no means determinative for the Pastors College, this does mean that students will have the opportunity to participate in a church plant led by C.J. This will both facilitate CJ.’s ongoing influence in the college, as well as provide students a smaller church experience that will more resemble their ultimate ministry context.”

    No surprise here at TWW.
    We have been writing about the growing alliance between SGM and the SBC, particularly Southern Seminary.

  22. Eagle,

    Your family will certainly be in my prayers. I pray for comfort for you as well.

    Deb and Dee,

    Kudos to you both for your excellent research in keeping us informed of these situations. Thank you both for exposing those who would blame the victim rather than accepting responsibility for their sin.

  23. My initial reaction to this is that it really would not be worth my time to read the AoR report.

    I am glad you did, and I appreciate your summary. But as their very name implies, the report was not really investigatory, but was designed, in advance, toward reconciliation.

    One point, however, can clearly be made. Things must really be bad if you have to retain a group like AoR to do an investigation and issue a report. Who wants to go to a church that needs that kind of oversight and rehab?

    So, the “Pastor’s College” of SGM is moving to Louisville? Won’t that compete with Boyce College at Southern and the post grad seminary?

    Why would anybody want to go to the Pastor’s College when Boyce, and Southern, which will be nearby, are accredited, more developed and rigorous?

    Is C.J.’s end goal to do away with the Pastor’s College or will it become a 6 month training course for people after they have gone to college or seminary when they want to pastor or work in an SGM church.

    It’s confusing.

  24. The latest from Kris, one of those gossipy bloggers, sums it up pretty well:

         ‘I think what stinks about the AoR report is its total lack of balance when it came to anything having to do with “the blogs.” AoR was so careful to spend several pages affirming anything even remotely good about SGM…to the point where their recommendations for correction almost got lost in the SGM lovefest…yet their complete scorn for “the blogs” wasn’t even tempered by one little affirmation about the good that has been done here.
    I know AoR was hired by SGM, and I had pretty dim expectations from the get-go. I knew they’d be completely biased toward SGM. I also anticipated the pompously didactic, lecture-ish tone of the report. (The AoR guys’ writing style reminds me of an over-eager student who’s trying to gain brownie points with the teacher by being more teacherly than the teacher.   ) But I didn’t anticipate literally dozens of negative references to “bloggers’” sinfulness…with ZERO affirmations about anything positive that “the blogs” have accomplished in terms of bringing SGM’s multitude of issues out into the open.
    I mean, quite literally, AoR would never have gotten this gig if it hadn’t been for “the blogs.”

    Considering how desperately they tried to affirm SGM, it would have been nice for them to throw us a bone or two here…
    That what has surprised me the most – that a supposedly “objective” (yeah, right) organization would write something so totally (and obliviously, it seems to me) one-sided.’

    Of course AOR didn’t apparently have time to contact either Kris, or Jim (who had worked hard to get victims to participate in the process) prior to publishing the report. They didn’t even try to personally correct them for all the supposedly slanderous, sinful speech.

  25. I skimmed this now and will try to read it in full later. A couple of things struck me. This is not a study. There’s no pretense that there was any kind of valid sampling or statistical analyses. The preparers of the report did not try to understand the host organization and its policies. They would have done better to have hired a group like Barna, then sought help with making recommendations for reconciling. Bad data isn’t going to get you anywhere.

  26. Dave A A,

    Thanks for sharing Kris’ remarks over at SGM Survivors. Countless people have been helped by her ministry.

    Those “blogger” comments sound like they were incorporated into the report after it had been written. I plan to go back and do another thorough read of the report. Ugh!

    I will definitely have more to say about their slam on bloggers next week.

    After all, “I ARE ONE!!!” :-)

  27. Juniper,

    Exactly! But SGM got exactly what it wanted.

    The whole thing was a sham, and AoR should be embarrassed to be associated with Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries.

  28. Victorious

    I think the reason these groups are miffed at us and want to silence bloggers is clear. We are calling them into account for their words. Here at TWW, we called this SBC alliance with SGM a long time ago, and people thought we were nuts. Just you wait, CJ will not be content with his little church. If I were an SBC leader, I would watch my back.

  29. Diane,

    Thanks for the link to the Watchdog’s post on Noble and Chandler in the Elephant Room.

    Somehow I missed it when Tom posted it last year, but I do remember reading his post where Al Mohler said that pastors are “God’s appointed agents”.

    Now that Mahaney is moving to Louisville, he and Mohler can be really tight!

    Heaven help the SBC!!!

    Is anyone out there paying attention?!

  30. “Third, AoR has a disclaimer that they were unqualified to deal with CJ Mahaney’s “fitness” for ministry because they were unfamiliar with SGM’s doctrines and how they are practiced. *RED FLAG.*”

    I have been struggling to articulate this for a while, but in many ways, people on the outside are not really capable of understanding the dynamics inside the SGM (or other groups of this sort). Even when a particular phrase is being used, it won’t necessarily mean the same thing inside the organisation as outside it.

    Take the ‘I’m not a humble man’ phrase – it simultaneously signals one thing to christians outside the SGM, while being a form of spiritual ju-jitsu inside the the SGM.

    This is another reason why Trueman/DeYoung and others should have declined to be involved in the assessment panel, they simply didn’t have the background in the Church culture to be able to properly assess the import of what they were hearing/reading. One would have thought that Trueman of all people (being a church historian and so familiar with the ways in which context is key) would have known this.

    Back to the AoR, reading through the report they are very sloppy about separating out their fact finding from their conclusions. The report is littered throughout with loaded language. An example:

    “One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking, emails, blogs and meetings.”

    This is just one example where they conflate a symptom with a diagnosis, and by describing things in such a loaded manner lead the reader to a conclusion that they already hold.

    Reading the report, one would think that the SGM had just experienced a few normal problems, that the leaders were heroically trying to do their best and acting in the most righteous manner possible, and they were hampered by a congregation of malcontents.

  31. Anonymous

    Think back to some of our earlier posts. We have clearly shown that Mahaney has been giving money to SBTS. Mohler has come out swinging in support of Mahaney. There is no competition. Watch. There will be a synergistic alliance with the Reformed Baptists, SBTS, and SGM. CJ is part of bigger plan.

    I am willing to venture a guess that the SBC will be giving money to SGM. Keep an eye on the money flow. Oh yeah, after Deb discovered the donations by CJ and SGM to SBTS, they have stopped posting the SBTS contribution lists in their publications. Why? Aren’t they proud that CJ gave them lots of money??

    But, if I were the leadership in the SBC, I would watch my back. CJ likes to be boss. Never, ever forget the Tomczak incident. Those who forget the past may end up being victims in the future. Don’t forget, TWW was the first to predict this alliance, and we were pooh poohed. Do you really think the move to Louisville is a coincidence?

  32. Chris E,

    You have made some excellent points. Loaded language is right! If AoR was unfamiliar with Sovereign Grace Ministries, how did they come to use some of those phrases?

    The report reminds me of a patchwork quilt or a puzzle with information coming from different sources. It doesn’t sound like it was just Ted Kober and Ed Keinath writing it. Now it’s forever on the internet, and everyone will associate them with it.

  33. Dave
    Let them go for us. We stand the courage of our convictions.

    But, I believe that this group shamefully dishonored those who have been hurt by SGM. Their little digs at clenched fists show their true colors. Shame on all of them! If AoR showed up at any church of which I was a member, I would run to get away. I would NEVER, EVER spill my guts to them. They would probably point out my red face and follow the tracks of my tears. They violated our prime directive which is to treat those hurt with love and compassion.

    As for the teacherly presentation, don’t they have people who can proofread better?

  34. Hey all. Opinions needed!

    I was reading through the 11 questions and comparing them to my current church. A lot of the questions didn’t fit…at least, not exactly. For example, questioning is not publicly discouraged in my church, and there is a LOT of lip service given to fellowship and learning with other denominations.

    However, the “results” at my church always seem to be moving in another direction. While questioning is not publicly prohibited, the answer to the questions always seems to lead back to the leaders’ way of thinking, and there’s an implication that “you really just need to accept what is clearly Biblical.” (i.e. what the leader’s take on that Bible passage is) They talk about fellowship with other churches, and sometimes we do it, but there’s still a seemingly narrow definition of what “correct” doctrine is. Recently, the leaders have started to talk about the need to guard against false doctrine entering the church….and honestly, I’m not sure why they’re so worried about that happening. This isn’t the first century. There aren’t so many heretics nowadays.

    Anyway, I’m trying not to be an alarmist about my church situation. I just feel that the church is circling in an ever-narrowing range of thought around what the leaders think. But the lip service given to diversity and broad fellowship is so strong that sometimes I question whether my perceptions of the church’s narrowness are really accurate.

    If anyone has been in a similar situation, I would love to hear what you eventually decided and how it worked out for you! I am very upset about my growing suspicion of my church, because we have many friends there who have become like family (oh, hey, there’s one of the questions again….) ;)

    The Observer

  35. Oh and another detail, my church is VERY big on avoiding legalism and having freedom in Christ, which is why so many of the 11 abuse questions don’t seem to fit.

  36. Lucky us, here in Louisville. :rolleyes:

    It will be interesting to watch the development of SGM’s relationship with Sojourn as well as Southern Seminary.

  37. Juniper
    Even worse, this group is beholden to other churches and leaders for their business. They do not market to the little guy.From now on, in my book, AOR is just another rah rah group for pastors until the prove otherwise. One thing is for sure, this report just reinforced my opinion.

  38. FS member

    This appears to be a carefully orchestrated move. I wonder, will CJ become the next President of the SBC?

  39. Deb
    We all have been hoodwinked right from the start. We said it last summer and this proves it.

  40. Deb
    Mohler better watch his back. CJ Mahaney could be the first high school graduate appointed to leadership at SBTS

  41. Chris E

    Let’s see: Sinful communication-blogs. Biblical communication: Calvinistas. It’s language, all language.However, I have decided to take CJ at his word. he is the worst sinner in the world. Give me one reason that I should believe anything he says?

  42. sad observer
    I believe I heard Driscoll referred to as a beer swilling legalist.
    You make a good point. The legalism in these groups center around the word “authority”which no one seems to be able to explain spiritually. It seems to mean that when i say something, it goes.

  43. Dee, no :)

    Not even if someone went on a crazed push to build up and promote C.J.

    The Convention meets this June in New Orleans. And C.J.’s church would have to join the SBC first – they’re independent.

  44. Eagle
    I continue to pray for your dad. What a hard struggle!

    You asked:
    “1. Is the Pastors college accredited? Can an SGM Pastor lead an Evangelical Free if he desired? For example say he’s “degifted…”
    2. How do schools like Moody, Wheaton, Trinity, etc. view the SGM pastor’s college?
    3. To my knowledge (and correct me if I am wrong…) SGM will not accept someone who has a degree from a great school like Moody? Why is that?”

    1.Many churches do not have requirement that a person be educated at seminary to be a pastor. CJ effectively traded on this concept since he has a high school education (Barely – if his words are to be believed). So he started the pastors college.

    2.Most schools require a degree to teach there. Wheaton is primarily an undergraduate school as is Moody. I doubt they would hire a professor who only had the pastors college for schooling. PREDICTION: SBTS will start some sort of degree granting program for the pastor’s college.

    3.They believe that SGM is special and you need special training to run an SGM church. You know, they may be right. Even AOR couldn’t figure out their belief system.

  45. Was it in AoR’s remit to read the blogs where SGM was being discussed? Or did they just stumble over them by themselves? Did they post on these blogs, alerting the people there that they were being examined on behalf of SGM?

    Did AoR read and make judgements about The Big Boy Blogs who spoke in glowing terms about SGM? Did they credit Trueman and Mohler, etc., with great spiritual wisdom and conduct for how they spoke and denied comments by those who disagreed? Do these guys need professionals to run their blogs? Ha! Likely!

    AoR says they were “invited” to :
    to review information related to conflicts in Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), and to
    meet with people associated with SGM, including current and former SGM leaders and
    current and former members of member churches

    Where do they get trolling around blogs looking for evidence of sin in all that?

    I am very sorry for the people who had hope that this process would bring resolution between them and the people who hurt them. I know that looking into the mutinae of the concepts and wording on the AoR report does little for the wounded sheep who had to endure the “professional” parstoring at SGM and now the “professional” excusing of that behaviour. We are not professionals but we are the Body of Christ. It would be worse for us to ignore that the Church is full of professionals running around overlooking the wrong and picking at the specks in the wounded sheeps’ eyes. Or blog posts. This is a good place to begin to heal from that pain.

    Prayed for Eagle’s dad.

    Almost twenty years ago I was stirred out of my complacency of thinking that a person, a book, a ministry, which went by the name “Christian”, was automatically good, truthful, sincere, trustworthy.

  46. Heather
    Excellent comment. You said :”I am very sorry for the people who had hope that this process would bring resolution between them and the people who hurt them. I know that looking into the mutinae of the concepts and wording on the AoR report does little for the wounded sheep who had to endure the “professional” pastoring at SGM and now the “professional” excusing of that behavior.”

    I contend that AoR further hurt the wounded by pointing out their “clenched fists.” A few years ago, Barbara Dorris from SNAP admonished me and others to always keep our eyes first on the victims. That has translated to every corner of my life. AoR would be well served to do the same. Shame on them for saying such things. How dare they embarrass those who honestly shared their pain! I knew that SGM would get off lightly. That was a given from the start. However, I never thought I would see them hurt the victims in such a manner.

  47. “Many described the extent at which small groups would hold one another accountable by scrutinizing each other’s lives according to the Doctrine of Sin.”

    Compare with:

    “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” Apostle Paul – 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 [emphasis mine]

    Hmmmmm.

  48. Historically, SGM has had close ties with Peacemaker Ministries, so it came as no surprise that there are some definite connections between AoR and Peacemaker Ministries.

    As in “Total Whitewash”?

    “One hand washes the other…”

    These Ambassadors of Reconciliation have violated our prime directive by heaping further abuse on those who have been deeply wounded by SGM.

    Whitewash.

    Big Brother Is Doubleplusgood.

    “One hand washes the other…”

  49. Right off the bat:

    “Because so many in SGM had indicated that they were well indoctrinated in biblical peacemaking from Peacemaker Ministries and their resources, the AoR team determined to utilize the half-day seminar Getting to the Heart of Conflict for the initial teaching piece rather than the standard Blessed Are the Peacemakers. This half-day seminar included teaching and exercises on pronouncing God’s forgiveness that many in attendance said they had never seen before. They expressed great appreciation for these new insights” (p. 2).

    After that I was expecting to read something to the effect of: “and about three thousand were added to the Lord that day.” — Sergius

    Big Brother is Doubleplusgood.

    Long Live Big Brother.

  50. The legalism in these groups center around the word “authority”which no one seems to be able to explain spiritually. It seems to mean that when i say something, it goes. — Dee

    “Authority (TM)” as defined by a control freak who’s already on top. “I DO WHATEVER I WANNA AND YOU DO AS YOU’RE TOLD. GOD SAITH!”

    “The only goal of Power is POWER.”
    – Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, 1984

  51. Dee -

    From all their actions we can see that SGM is concerned about their organization and not about individual people. As long as there is one more person slapping them on the back than there is bringing scrutiny, they (CJ et al) will carry on.

    We also know that CJ has disolved (or minimized) relationships with EVERY person that had issue with him
    or the doctrines he was teaching. The list includes Larry, Brent, Josh and CLC (CJ left DC and CLC to make a statement about what he thinks of the pastors there), and any churches and pastors that are unyielding don’t get the time of day from SGM/CJ.

    I think the main blogger AoR was peeved at was Brent. AoR had one comment that seemed to infer that all the communication should be done face to face or by phone and not documented. HA! That’s seems like it plays right into the hands of CJ who does not like to write things down. No, of course not, then someone would be able to hold him to his words. No one should do that now, should they. The Tomczak’s new better than to trust CJ et al 14 years ago when they taped a phone call. It doesn’t seem to me that AoR understands trust and what happens when supposed spiritual authorities break that trust, nor much of anything about SGM/CJ et al.

  52. FSM,
    _
    SOJOURN recently announced they were leaving Acts29 and starting there own church planting gig. They were funded by SBC. The timing of their announcement was interesting.

    Denny Burke blog post about sgm moving to Louisvile is interesting since he is dean of Boyce. I would share links but I am typing from phone

  53. Oh….and Louisville desperately needs another church. There are baptist churches on about every corner. Not to mention both a baptist and a presbyterian seminary. BUT we all know these churches do not have correct doctrine.

  54. I am shocked at the posturing and words and tone of AoR, even in the limited quotes listed above.

    AoR doesn’t know ANYTHING about trauma. You DON’T talk about how to recover when harmed people tell your their trauma. You offer your presence. You offer your ears. You share their pain. You believe them.

    Even Job’s 3 friends knew that — for 7 days, they didn’t say ANYTHING, because they saw how how deep his pain was. THAT was what they did right.

    Post-cult syndrome has many symptoms of PTSD. They are related. For recovery, friends and relatives are encouraged to listen to the wounded’s story, and listen and listen and listen. To the same details. And listen again. And listen again. It’s how the person can begin to come to terms with the trauma.

    You have to do that before you start any further steps of recovery.

    For those who can’t relate to post-cult syndrome or PTSD, think GRIEF when a close one has died — a lot of recovery steps are similar in kind, but not in degree.

    Also, it is extremely traumatizing to post-cult people or PTSD people, even as traumatizing as the original events, to have people not believe you or to make degrading remarks about your story, or point out how “unsanctified” your story is. That further isolates the wounded. That further injures the wounded.

    Of course these people raised their voices, slammed their fists, etc. They’re in GRIEF. They’re in TRAUMA. They’ve been BROKEN, SHATTERED, and BETRAYED by people who said they were healers, good shepherds, who would lead people to God, the GOOD Shepherd.

    That’s how people start to get their pain out, start to deal with it, start to process it, start to recover from it, is to SHOW their pain (which includes anger and bitterness).

    These people who talked to AoR, and others who didn’t talk to them — their wounds are not bound up yet — that’s why they are still bleeding after all these years.

    How many years after Joseph was dumped in a pit and then sold into slavery by this brothers did they apologize? How loudly and how long did Joseph — who had already forgiven them — wail?

    Instead of binding up wounds, AoR has further wounded and traumatized those whom God has great care and concern for, in a way and at a level that is so deep, so horrific, I am in shock. The wounds and the damage they have inflicted and will inflict with this report will hurt and harm as badly as what SGM, and other similar places, did in the first place.

    AoR had an opportunity to offer godly sorrow over the injustices and horrific abuse perpetrated by SGM, to be God’s paramedics — however long ago the injuries occurred — to hear and receive and share the pain of the wounded. Instead, they offered injuries. Even their tone, in the limited quotes listed above, sound critical and yes, callous, in this report.

    When a child goes in and cries to a mother (who knows how to comfort) after an injury of body, soul, or spirit, the mother doesn’t offer correction and reproof then. She takes the child up in her lap, and rocks the child for a long time, and soothes and comforts. AFTER the child is restored, then correction or instruction comes, and it comes very gently.

    SGM, and other similar places, beat and robbed and left for dead. I don’t know whether AoR is the Levite or the priest, who walked on by….

    I am in shock. I am in grief.

    Wounded ones, God hears your cries. He sees and hears your groans when no one else does, and when you’re alone. He is so concerned about you.

    You may not get justice from man, but you can always cry out to God for justice and relief.

    The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

    He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

    He restores the years the locusts have eaten. All the locusts.

    He gives me beauty for ashes.

    HE MAKES IT UP TO ME.

    But FIRST, He LISTENS to me and LISTENS to me, and LISTENS to me, and lets me cry on His shoulder, and cry on His shoulder, and cry on His shoulder. And He hugs me the whole time.

    As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over …..”

    He is faithful.

  55. Lily
    Thank you for your comment. I,too, believe that AOR inflicted further harm on those already hurt.Either they are cruel or naive but counselors should be neither.

  56. AOR should change their name to Whitewash Inc.

    I feel especially bad for those who spent the time to speak with AOR, only to be generalized and marginalized away as fist clenching angry people, who could do no better than blog in unbiblical bitterness.

  57. PS — Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain couldn’t recognize that Hitler didn’t play by the same rules as civilized people.

    He couldn’t recognize that Hitler was a bully, to totally understate it, and that bullies don’t play by the same rules that other people do.

    That’s why Chamberlain played into Hitler’s hands.

    AoR couldn’t recognize that SGM is full of bullies, to totally understate it, from the top down, and that bullies don’t play by the same rules that other people do.

  58. 1) SMG – Have to admit I broke down and bought TWTG. Haven’t finished. It’s pretty good, but Dan’s facetious style works better on a blog than in a full-length book.

    2) Concerning the whole “we can’t adjudicate Mahaney’s fitness for leadership because we don’t know SGM’s doctrines,” etc., I wrote two comments on another blog about this and a letter to AOR because I detected a blatant contradiction and bias favoring Mahaney. The gist: a) As above: They can’t adjudicate…don’t know doctrines. b) They have an entire section (a pretty good one) on SGM’s Doctrine Of Sin, which, according to them, they don’t know. c) They quickly absolve Mahaney of responsibility for it because he was misunderstood by lesser beings. This seems to me to be, at best, nonsense, and, at worst, nonsense and obvious bias.

    3) I agree about their obsession about the blogs, their callousness toward the suffering, and other things, but, on the other hand, they hardly let SGM get away scot-free. If I were searching for a church, and I read the quotes from the report that Deb included in points 1,3,4,6,7 and 8, and in other parts of the report, I would avoid any SGM church like the plague. It’s true that they also praised, maybe over-praised, other aspects of SGM churches, but the overall picture is of a very troubled, dysfunctional “family” of churches.

    4) They claim that they spoke to some individual leaders privately. We can only take their word on that, and pray that they said the right things and that the hearers took it to heart. I wouldn’t bet on either, but…it’s possible.

  59. I recently read something about cases where a parishioner brings abuse claims about the pastor to the ruling board of a church, if the philosophy of the church supports heavy authority, the pastor comes off clean, no matter what he did.

    It has to do with pre-existing philosophy, not justice.

    *

    “NEVER take our eyes off the victims.”

    I like that a lot!

  60. JeffB and Lily -

    Agree with you both and your comments are WHY AoR was not qualified to deal with SGM. Unfortunately, that is who hired them and their member’s tithes paid the bill.

  61. Bridget2,

    Your comment helped me to realize that very few are qualified to deal with SGM. Perhaps Jeff VanVonderen is one of the few…

    I feel sorry for those who took the time to interview with AoR.

  62. FYI,

    Last summer Super Sleuth Amanda tracked down the locations of Peacemaker Ministries and Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

    Here is the comment she left regarding our post Ambassadors of Reconciliation: Let’s Take a Closer Look.

    Amanda UNITED STATES on Fri, Aug 26 2011 at 04:28 pm

    “I decided to look up the street addresses for both Ambassadors of Reconciliation and Peacemakers (as listed on their respective websites). Turns out they’re located one mile from each other, in a city of about 100,000. While that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, that’s yet another seeming coincidence to add to the ones mentioned above.”

  63. On the other hand; the Washington Post did a story a few months ago on SGM. The Post was NOT hired by SGM. As I recall, bloggers and commenters were disappointed in the Post story too. Now they’re disappointed in the AoR report.

  64. “Let’s see: Sinful communication-blogs. Biblical communication: Calvinistas. It’s language, all language.However, I have decided to take CJ at his word. he is the worst sinner in the world. Give me one reason that I should believe anything he says?”

    dee – That’s exactly the problem, the AoR are taking everything the SGM says at face value, and then viewing any critics through the prism of what they’ve already been told.

    I’m guessing that assurances have been given “we did everything we could, we tried to reconcile with these people”, and there wasn’t much investigation done to see what this actually consisted of.

  65. Jimmy -

    Disappointed, yes, but it only confirms for me that AoR was not qualified to deal withthe SGM issues, as they stated themselves in their report. They basically reported on “their” experiences with past and current, hurt and happy SGM members over a four month period and then evaluated those interactions with “how” people should respond according to scripture. They clearly did not understand, nor try to understand, the underlying practices of SGM’s doctrines.

  66. Dear TWW Family of Bloggers,

    I was scanning the comments over at SGM Survivors, and came across Friendly Observer‘s comment (#198). I just have to share this part of that comment:

    “As for the AoR guys, it’s ironic to me that they are Lutheran and especially ironic that they came down (predictably, by the way) against the blogs and bloggers.

    Wasn’t Luther an early blogger? Sure, he preceded the electronic age by a few hundred years, but he could well have been “MLuther@cathedraldoor.com” right? Didn’t his initial blog entry (granted, his “Send” button was a hammer and some tacks) start a ruckus? Didn’t “Leo@vatican.org” have serious issues with this blogging upstart? Had he been immediately “repentant” and silenced, there would have been no denomination bearing his name.”

    Why didn’t I think of that?

  67. Deb @ 2:43pm -

    Even though Brent kept pushing for an all “outside” evaluation of issues because anything inside is biased due to the top-down leadership structure, I think it is extremely hard for anyone “outside” who is not familiar with the history and changing doctrinal stances of SGM to really understand what has gone on. If they were truly allowed to evaluate everything within the organization, by the local church elders from around the country, and “against their own doctrines” without fear of loosing jobs, that would probably have been best (yet not great.) They would have probably learned much in the process about their own beliefs and the lack of “clarity” on so many things. But that option was not allowed. SGM only used pastors that were “on board” with CJ for the parts of the evaluation that were done in-house. SGM divided and conquered, controlling all the processes.

  68. Jimmy:

    You said:”On the other hand; the Washington Post did a story a few months ago on SGM. The Post was NOT hired by SGM. As I recall, bloggers and commenters were disappointed in the Post story too. Now they’re disappointed in the AoR report.”

    Help me please, what is your point?

  69. Bridget2,

    Just curious… Are there really 28,000 people currently involved in SGM churches or are these churches implementing the practices of other denominations by not purging church rolls?

  70. AoR is being ridiculous. For them to dismiss people’s grievances by implying that the people were being petty, and to back up that claim of pettiness by saying that the events in question took place years ago, and then to FURTHER undermine these people’s stories by “casually” dropping in details about how emotionally unstable they seemed, is not only manipulative, biased, and just plain stupid, BUT it actually works against their point.

    Generally, if you’re going to stay upset about something for 15 years–and upset to the point of becoming visibly emotionally disturbed by it–isn’t that a strong indicator that something very, very bad did indeed happen? Unless there just HAPPEN to be a ton of extremely petty people who just happened to all get their dander up over SGM. But who really believes in a coincidence that big, especially when there is a more plausible explanation–the idea that, gasp, something bad actually did happen!

  71. Deb -

    28,000 adults might be correct if there are some large churches. That averages to 311 adults per church when divided by 90. The count we take on Sunday’s does include children (18 and under). If you have a church of 350, you could easily have 150-175 children. That leaves 175-200 adults and the majority of those are couples.

    If the other churches keep their member directory like we do, then only people who are committed members, and attend, are on the member list. Our member list is not inflated and we do not count children under 18. Our member list is actually a “family unit” member list and children 18 and older, if they become members, are then listed as a separate unit.

  72. “AOR SGM Report” 

    Sopy: Gavel? as in…aka justice?!?

    hmmm…. try:

    SGM:  ”A Graven AoR Gamble, While Sovereign Grace Members Grovel, Former Members Grumble & Bloggers Gimbal [1]? 

    HowDee YaAll,

    It is sure is good to know the SGM has been given a clean bill of health, as reported in the recent AoR report (aside for a few ‘minor’ recommendations) and is good to go!  

    Whew! Thatz a relief… (only 44 pages of iodine?)

    Glad ta know that AoR has categorically un-spoken volumes of the victims of abuse, by PDI/SGM over countless years.

    Hmmm….

    I can see Leo Ryan trying ta board the plane now….[2]

    Varooom!  Varoooom!

    Screeeeeeeech!

    You dirty blogg’in Rat!  

    take dat…   rat-tat-tat-tat tat….

    (Sadface)

    How soon we forget…

    Sopy
    ___
    What Relief?: Payton Klassen – “Hotel California” 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U9fRAxwsbk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Notes:

    [1] Def. Gimbal, …’a ring for holding a compass steady’: a pivoted ring mounted at right angles to one or two others to ensure that something such as a ship’s compass always remains horizontal.

    [2] November 3, 1977, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan read into the United States Congressional Record a testimony by John Gordon Clark about the health hazards connected with destructive cults. 

    (Clark, M.D., John Gordon; Hon. Leo J. Ryan of California (November 3, 1977). “The Effects of Religious Cults on the Health and Welfare of Their Converts”. United States Congress. Congressional Record.)

    On November 1, 1978, U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan announced that he would visit Jonestown. He did so as part of a government investigation and received permission and government funds to do so. He made the journey in his role as chairman of a congressional subcommittee with jurisdiction over U.S. citizens living in foreign countries. 

    Congressman Ryan traveled to Jonestown with 17 Bay Area relatives of Peoples Temple members, several newspaper reporters and an NBC TV team.

    When the legal counsel for Jones attempted to impose several restrictive conditions on the visit, Ryan responded that he would be traveling to Jonestown whether Jones permitted it or not. 

    Ryan’s stated position was that a “settlement deep in the bush might be reasonably run on authoritarian lines”. However, residents of the settlement must be allowed to come and go as they pleased. 

    He further asserted that if the situation had become “a gulag”, he would do everything he could to “free the captives”.

    We all know how that turned out.

    hmmm…KoolAid anyone? (It comes in assorted favors…)

    (sadface)

    ***

  73. Deb said: “AoR had best get with the program because blogs are here to stay! The more hyper-authoritarian pastors mimic Mahaney, the more blogs there will be popping up. Mars Hill Refuge is a perfect example. ”

    I’m standing and waving my white hanky – AMEN! It was through the SGMSurvivor blog that I woke up to the reality that my former church/pastor exhibited cult-like behavior and learned so much about spiritual abuse. Many times as I read stories on the SGMSurvivors blog I thought I was reading about my own church. So all of you SGM folks who have gone through spiritual abuse, your stories have helped countless people – even those who never attended a SGM church. Thank you!

    My story is odd in that my former pastor/church are currently suing me for $500,000 defamation for telling my story, but because of sites like TWW, SGMSurvivors, Joyful Exiles, FBC Jax Watchdog, etc, we can gather resources, give prayer and emotional support to one another. We must continue to fight this abuse.

  74. Julie Anne,

    I will continue to keep you in my prayers. It’s incredible that God’s people are being harmed by those who are supposed to be protecting them!

    I hope others will join me in praying for you, dear sister in Christ.

  75. “While every Christian would agree that gossip and slander are sinful, many in SGM failed to recognize when they initiated, participated, or listened to and read sinful communications.”

    Perhaps we need to review the meaning of ‘slander’. = Deb

    Please, let me help translate. Those power-wielding imaginary leaders use the slander word to hush their congregants. Slander is the buzzword for “shut-up” in an abusive church.

  76. What is my point? The point is simple. Many commenters have decided that AoR, being on the SGM payroll, white washed their report. However, the Washington Post was/is NOT on the SGM payroll and frankly, their article was hardly a major condemnation.

    So the argument that the AoR report is somehow biased in favor of SGM, who paid for their participation, is countered by the Washington Post article which was clearly NOT paid for by SGM but is hardly a blanket condemnation of either C.J. or SGM.

  77. @ Chris E, you mentioned Trueman and DeYoung. I lost of ton of respect for those two guys over this issue. They both tried to claim that it was acceptable for them to act in their roles, because they had never really met CJM. Some blog (sorry, can’t remember which one right now) linked to specific cases in which both of them had previously referenced meeting CJM. What a fraud.

  78. Jimmy,

    It certainly appeared that Mahaney was upset by the ‘local newspaper’ article based on his message at T4G.

  79. Jimmy
    You should apply to the Pastor’s College in beautiful downtown Louisville. You would make perfect SGM pastor. Imagine, you could force everyone to agree with you. You could play the authority card and throw people out of your church. I have no idea what’s stopping you.

  80. Anon1, of course Louisville needs another church.

    Not only because of all those Baptist churches you mention, many of which are – gasp – Arminian, but the many non-Reformed churches there.

    There are mainline churches.

    Assemblies of God.

    Charismatic churches, like Evangel and New Vision.

    There are even a Foursquare and Calvary Chapel in town.

    Not to mention strong African-American churches all over the city.

    And, of course, Southeast Christian Church, bigger than two Mars Hills (and five times as big as Sojourn).

    So of course, Louisville needs an SGM church. You know, to save the charismatics and Arminians from bad theology, and the Catholics who allegedly flock to Southeast and make it the city’s unofficially largest parish.

    Or, to provide a church home for all those seminary students who may be a “better fit’ with CJ than with Highview, Sojourn or Jim Hamilton/Tom Schreiner/Greg Gilbert’s churches.

  81. Dee:

    You said to Jimmy:”Jimmy Try a bit harder to show some empathy for the abused.”

    I have yet to see him offer even a mustard seed of empathy for the abused.

  82. Former Sojourn Member,

    I would like to express my condolences. Louisville will probably never be the same…

  83. LOL, of course Jimmy doesn’t care. That wouldn’t fit in with his agenda.

    Jimmy, here’s the problem with the Wa Post piece. It doesn’t really make any points. It doesn’t really stand up for CJ, but it doesn’t blame him either. You can sum up that article in one short line: There were some issues at SGM. Wow, nice piece there! journalism at its finest! What’s the point of even writing an article like that? Woodward and Bernstein would sure be proud of an article like that.

    Let me give you an analogy to that article. It would be like a car wreck in which one car ran a red light, and the person who got hit was killed. Then, an article in the paper would have said this: “Yesterday at Main and Center streets, two automobiles collided with each other.”

  84. “Or, to provide a church home for all those seminary students who may be a “better fit’ with CJ than with Highview, Sojourn or Jim Hamilton/Tom Schreiner/Greg Gilbert’s churches.”

    Don’t forget Ninth and O. Big church for Calminian seminary guys. I don’t know about you but I am going to be busy warning folks to stay away from CJ here. (My guess is that the SGM name will change) But it is going to be fun to see just how “Charismatic” Reformed CJ is going to be in the Derby city. It will be even more interesting if Mohler allows the high school ed only CJ to do any teaching at the seminary…even in the leadership program as Guest Speaker.

    The really interesting part is WHERE is he going to “plant” this church. Indian Hills…to be a bit close to the seminary in a high income area? (tee hee) I seriously doubt if it is going to be in Smoketown which is also close to the seminary in the other direction.

  85. BTW FSM, There is one small tiny problem with seminary students attending “CJ’s” new SGM church. They get a tuition discount for being a member of an SBC church. Hmmmm. Perhaps we know where this IS going…

    As one commenter over at Lumpkins put it

    SBC + SGM + A29 + (T4G – RPC – PCUSA) = GCB

  86. I agree about their obsession about the blogs, their callousness toward the suffering, and other things, but, on the other hand, they hardly let SGM get away scot-free. If I were searching for a church, and I read the quotes from the report that Deb included in points 1,3,4,6,7 and 8, and in other parts of the report, I would avoid any SGM church like the plague. It’s true that they also praised, maybe over-praised, other aspects of SGM churches, but the overall picture is of a very troubled, dysfunctional “family” of churches. ”

    Jeff, this is why they are “relocating”. Expect to see rebranding and they will become an arm of the SBC/GBC. My guess is his son in law is being groomed for phase 2 of whatever it is going to be called which will be part of the “convention” of churches in the new nicknamed, GBC.

    Are you saying you had to buy the report?

  87. For our readers who missed our 2011 Valentine’s Day post – Sovereign Grace Ministries and SBC – Is There A Merger In The Works?

    Mohler’s Favorite Homie – C.J. Mahaney

    “Yes, the SBC/SGM connection is getting stronger by the day. Need proof? Guess who delivered the chapel message at Southern Seminary just last Thursday (2/10/11). Here’s a hint… It was the person who believes Al Mohler is “the smartest man on the planet” and said so at Resolved 2010. Yes, the chapel speaker was none other than C.J. Mahaney. That morning Mohler sent out the following Tweet: “Come hear CJ Mahaney in chapel this morning at 10:00. Don’t miss it. Don’t even think of missing it. Can’t wait to hear his message.”

    Mohler’s next Tweet gave the link to streaming video of Mahaney’s talk, which yours truly watched. It was the first time I had ever seen Mahaney in a coat and tie. He began by explaining to the students that he only has a high school education. Perhaps if he had revealed to them that he and Sovereign Grace Ministries combined have made contributions in excess of $200,000 to Southern Seminary, they would have understood why Mohler believes this high school grad is qualified to address them on the topic of “Deflating the Puffed Up Church” .

    Then Mohler provided the link to Mahaney’s message on Twitter, along with a Tweet that he was eating dinner with C.J. and that the waiter is a SBTS student. Mahaney continued to be a popular topic in Mohler’s Twitter account the next day. He provided the link to streaming video of Mahaney’s talk at the Recalibrate Conference (for college students), and then tweeted “C.J. Mahaney knocked it out of the park. What a great message. If you missed it, download it. RECALIBRATE.”

    The most surprising comment on Mohler’s Twitter feed was as follows:
    “RT @drmoore. C.J. Mahaney just asked our server what she would guess he, @almohler, and I do for a living. She guessed ‘exotic dancers.’ It boggles the mind…

    It really is amazing what you can learn through Twitter…”

  88. Dee, my point isn’t about empathy for the abused. It IS about commenter’s deciding that the AoR report was a white-wash because they were hired by SGM.

    Obviously, as Alan pointed out, the Washington Post article, which was NOT paid for by SGM monies, was hardly a blanket condemnation of SGM or C.J. It could have been; it was instigated by people outside SGM leadership apparently.

    Frankly, I actually learned a couple of things from the AoR article that were not always clear to me.

    But let’s not say the AoR report is a whitewash just because the blog/commenters don’t like what it says.

  89. Speaking of SGM abuse/victims; I really would like to hear Jeff’s story spelled out. Is this something C.J. did to him?

  90. Anon1-

    You must not have heard! Everything is moving to KY, pastors college, music ministry, and all of CJ’s relatives. He has a ready-made congregation :)

  91. Jimmy
    I once participated in a real mediation with unbiased attorneys.I know the difference. There is a way to make this unbiased. When an organization markets itself to pastors and leaders, human nature would dictate that there is a high probability of bias.

  92. “Let’s see: Sinful communication-blogs. Biblical communication: Calvinistas. It’s language, all language.”

    The Principles of Newspeak, Comrades.

    Doubleplusgoodthink and doublepluscrimethink.

  93. he most surprising comment on Mohler’s Twitter feed was as follows:
    “RT @drmoore. C.J. Mahaney just asked our server what she would guess he, @almohler, and I do for a living. She guessed ‘exotic dancers.’ It boggles the mind…

    Because it shows how Mohler and C.J. are such STUDS.

  94. Pingback: Sovereign Grace Ministries fractures continue to reverberate | Bene Diction Blogs On UNITED STATES

  95. Anon1, I’ll tell anyone who asks “caveat emptor” – let the buyer beware. Make sure you know what it is you’re getting into, and how to get away from it if things begin to go badly for you.

    I’m sure we’ll find out where this new church is going to be soon enough.

  96. Deb, WOW…sorry about that. I was trying to write that post in a hurry and I had a sneaking suspicion that it was probably you and Dee who had made the post I was referring to. Wow, I feel embarrassed. Sorry about that.

  97. Jimmy, but, as I also pointed out, the Wash Post article certainly didn’t exonerate CJ either. It didn’t really draw any conclusions.

    Curious, do you feel that Joe Paterno did anything wrong in regards to the Sandusky scandal?

  98. Jimmy, sorry, but I know you’re not that stupid. The very fact that SGM paid them to do the report invalidates it. How long would they stay in business if they wrote up the truth on people. Plus, as Dee and Deb pointed out, Carl Trueman and DeYoung pretty appear to have misrepresented their relationships with CJM, per the post on this blog from last August.

    Bottom line though, why do you love the guy so much? Is it simply the you believe the end justifies the means? Do you believe that people are coming to God because of him, so the fact that he blackmailed a guy and ignored sexual abuse simply doesn’t matter?

    For the rest of us, we simply have this old fashioned notion that character matters. The end doesn’t justify the means (in this case, the irony is that I’m not even sure SGM is accomplishing any good end). We happen to believe that pastors should at least act like Christians.

  99. “Dee, my point isn’t about empathy for the abused. It IS about commenter’s deciding that the AoR report was a white-wash because they were hired by SGM”

    DUH. Simply amazing.

    Uh, your clue was what it said about bloggers. Of course, that is not enough of a clue for you. No problem. Your 3 year old was molested by SGM member but SGM pastor tells you to forgive instantly and don’t call the police. Nothing here to see…move along. AoR is totally unbiased….their check is in the mail. CJ is starting a new venture. Nothing to see…move along.

  100. “We happen to believe that pastors should at least act like Christians.”

    Come on, Alan. Get with the program. When celebrity pastors do it, it is not sin. Discussing what they do is sin, though.

  101. Last night the Louisville Courier-Journal posted an article about SGM moving to Louisville titled “Controversial church with Southern Baptist ties moves headquarters to Louisville”.

    Controversial church with Southern Baptist ties moves headquarters to Louisville

    This is an opportunity to let people in Louisville know what’s coming their way, if you’re bold enough to post a comment. The comments are linked to Facebook, so you can’t do it anonymously. Or you could email the reporter who wrote the article. Maybe he would do some follow up stories, who knows?

  102. Alan,

    Actually, I LOVED your comment! No apology necessary. It gave me the opportunity to provide the link so some of our new readers could read it. :-)

  103. Moniker,

    Thanks for sharing the link to the Courier-Journal article. I thought Peter Smith summed up the situation quite well.

    I had fun reading through the comments – some of the poor slogs who wrote in are absolutely clueless. They’ll probably be the first ones to join CJ’s church plant.

    Also, I discovered that the Courier Journal is referred to as “CJ” by the locals. That’s gonna get confusing!

  104. Dee,

    Be sure to read the Courier-Journal article! I did enjoy this specific line written by Peter Smith:

    “Mahaney and Sovereign Grace have each donated at least $100,000 to the seminary, according to the school’s publications.”

    Yes, we are journalist bloggers. :P

  105. Jimmy, as I expected, you didn’t answer the question I asked you. Do you think Paterno did anything wrong in that situation?

    Regarding the payment of money from the Univ to his estate, that’s simply the way it goes in that slimy industry. Kelvin Sampson broke all kinds of rules at Indiana, and they paid him millions to go away. Heck, IIRC, I think Georgia even had to pay Jim Harrick to get lost, and that was after it was proven he paid cash to his players.

  106. Just how unhealthy is SGM?

    Why, pretty good health according to this. You members are the problem, so get going with the forgiveness and overlooking asap:

    http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/not-so-fast/

    My favorite line:

    “In a difficult church situation, what looks more like Jesus: to hop to an easier church situation or to stick with a local congregation through the dark days?”

    Hmmm…I don’t know. I know–let’s ask CJ. He’ll know for sure.

  107. Diane,

    Thanks for alerting us about that article. Before I ever read something I consider the source. It was written by Trevin Wax and featured in Table Talk on April Fool’s Day.

    These Calvinistas are so slick! Trevin wrote:

    “But what if the choice to leave a difficult church situation will actually short-circuit your formation as a Christian? What if your desire for a better congregation will stunt your spiritual growth? Does God use uncomfortable church situations as part of His process of sanctifying us?”

    Sorry, Trevin, fear tactics don’t work with us!

    What a joke!

  108. Diane

    This made me laugh. CJ did the former so that must be right. Right? “In a difficult church situation, what looks more like Jesus: to hop to an easier church situation or to stick with a local congregation through the dark days?

  109. Deb

    Actually here is Trevin’s “trajectory.”

    So, start listening to us and we will tell you what God wants you to do. And if we say “stay”, you are outside of God’s will if you do not kiss our keys of authority.

    Oh, we will pursue you to your next church and tell the pastor there that you are under church discipline for not listening to us.

  110. Well, Dee, we are to obey our leaders…’cause they are our authorityyyyyy — so I say — looks like we are free to flee.

  111. Deb,

    A friend sent it to me about 20 minutes ago and it absolutely ruined the delicious brunch I was having. :-) It is quite the joke.

  112. Dee,

    You unpacked that very well! How winsome of you!

    Do these guys know how ridiculous they sound?!

    No, I’m not BITTER! :P

    P.S. I’m laughing so hard that my dog is giving me a strange look! Laughter really is good medicine, and I’ve been especially healthy lately because there is so much to laugh about when it comes to these Calvinista clowns.

  113. Deb,

    I quite agree…it was a most robust unpacking– which really showed us what it looks like. Thanks for giving us your take on it.

  114. Diane,

    I am cognizant of the fact that Trevin Wax received his M.Div. from Mohler’s seminary.

    The indoctrination that goes on there is incredible! Now Mahaney will be a permanent fixture, and it will only get worse.

    Louisville truly is the Calvinista Mecca!

  115. “Louisville truly is the Calvinista Mecca!”

    It has been known as YRR Ground Zero for sometime now. It is just that more and more non Reformed are waking up to what that really means.

  116. Just saw this post over at Survivors from someone called El Pastor, it was so normal, I just had to copy it and share

    “Being a non-SGM sort of pastor, and certainly a very imperfect one as all men must be, I am amazed at the continued assaults on SGM’s critics. I have had my share of critics over the years, some justified, some not.

    But what I don’t understand is the lack of desire to communicate on SGM’s part. If someone thought I wronged them, I would meet with them right away (no conditions, bring whoever you want as a witness) and discuss it. I’ve never turned a critic away. If someone wrote me a letter, I would answer right away, preferably in person. I would go to them. I wouldn’t need a letter a year for 20 years. I can’t even imagine that.

    And if later, I found that there was a blog devoted to attacking me, and parishioner so-and-so gave a very inaccurate story about me, I would post a simple response sharing my point of view as best I could, explaining my motives and perspective. If I was wrong, I would apologize again. How hard is that? In short, I would make the effort, especially on a blog like Survivors where people are generally quite willing to hear the other party out.

    In fact, I would devote a couple of days to just answering bloggers questions about me, and if after that, it was just a “get me” thing, I would probably let it go. But I would try. Wouldn’t anyone?”

  117. It is disheartening to read the article and comments at the Courier Journal. Seems a good job has been done to dismiss any negative truths from the media is that the media just hates Christians. This just works to protect the charlatans.

    I hope some from survivors comment there and just let folks know the problems are very deep and warn them. In effect, CJ is running away. We all know that. The rules at SGM for everyone else did not apply to him and the REformed crowd backed him up on this

  118. Reading this again, Dee and Deb,

    “It’s true that there are plenty of Christians whose lives don’t resemble Christ’s. There are pastors who abuse their authority or lead poorly. There are churches that implement changes quickly, without the consent of key leaders, which then breeds disunity and quarrels. Leadership fumbles, personality conflicts, relationship breeches — they all exist in the church. That’s why, for many churchgoers, the temptation is strong to seek refuge and peace in another church across town.”

    Temptation?? To remove onself from an abusive pastor who is leading poorly? That is a temptation (sin)? What madness.

    “But you don’t understand. The people in my church are really messed up.” True. But so are you. So am I. We are all sinners, saved only by the grace of a merciful God. We are all being slowly transformed into the image of Christ, and one way that God forms us into the image of His Son is to place us in hard situations where “loving one another” seems unnatural and costly.”

    One way to be transformed into His image is staying and loving when it is costly and unnatural. Then we read–

    “The heartbeat of every Christian should be to look more like Jesus. Just as the facial expressions and physical characteristics of two spouses begin to reflect one another after many years of marriage, we should look more like Jesus every day. But this transformation will not occur unless we stay committed to Christ’s people, challenging and encouraging others as they challenge and encourage us.”

    Did you see what he is saying? “But this transformation will not occur unless we stay committed”

    So now we will NOT be transformed into His image unless we stay?
    I thought this was “one way”–as he states above. Now he contradicts himself and says it “will not occur” unless we stay? So, which is it? One way or THE way? How deceptive and cruel.

  119. “Nice, Nice Very Nice?”

    HowDee YaAll,

    “Do these guys know how ridiculous they sound?! No, I’m not BITTER!  …I’m laughing so hard that my dog is giving me a strange look! Laughter really is good medicine, and I’ve been especially healthy lately because there is so much to laugh about when it comes to these Calvinista clowns.” Deb, TWW

    Givin’ a strange look, huh? (grin)

    Hmmm…

    hum, hum,hum, …♪ ♫Oh a proverbial spiritually drunkard church up in Seattle park?
    Or the proverbial spiritual predator in the church circle, jungle dark?
    Or the proverbial sin sniffer or the Sovereign Ceege
    Do they all not fit together in the same machine?

    Nice, nice, very nice?
    So many people succumbing to the same device?

     …♪ ♫ Oh a proverbial spiritual whirling dervish *and a proverbial spiritual dancing bear **?
    Or a Mrkz9 and a certain southern seminary?
    Or a TeefourGee or a  S-B-C?
    Are they all not proverbial partners in this spiraling spiritually abusive cosmic dance?

    Nice, nice, very nice?
    So many people succumbing to the same device?

    Hmmm…

     …♪♫♪Oh! The sleeping church, awakened by the Gimbal blogs… Nice, nice, very nice!!!!!!! So many people hearing the good news tonight!

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    Sopy 
    ___
    Taylor Wise-”Restore Us!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6TWT00savo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Comic relief: Ambrosia – “Nice, Nice Very Nice” (adapted)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbEf5PIehes&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Notes:

    * A proverbial spiritual whirling dervish (n.) A proverbial pastoral person whose behavior resembles a rapid, spinning object. These actions are often include spiritual spastic fidgeting and incessant babbling about sex in the pulpit.

    **A proverbial spiritual dancing bear. (n.)  Is a proverbial wild pastoral bear that is captured when it is relatively  young and ‘reformed’.  Although frowned upon by some christian religious rights groups, proverbial spiritual dancing bears are still being used as a tourist attraction in many parts of a certain church. It has now become a delicacy -sought after in certain southern church circles as well.

  120. Diane -

    They are clueless to many of the teachings of Christ and try to keep people in their churches by force. I don’t think many of them really understand what the kingdom of God is like, or what Jesus came to do. It’s about order, and authority, and submission, and “clean counters,” and perfectly clean homes for them. The Calvinista’s don’t see how this is outward appearances. They think it is proof that God is among them.

  121. Alan, about Joe Paterno. I wasn’t present when everything went down. Penn State obviously acted quite precipitously by the immediacy of his firing; legal proceedings may now be in the wind because of it. It kind of appears like they have “Un-fired” him, post humously of course.

    So forgive me if I don’t do a “rush to judgment” on Joe Paterno. I wasn’t there and it appears that Penn State is backing up from their initial action against him. Maybe there was more to the story then the headlines.

    Doesn’t it appear that way to you?

  122. Jimmy, Excuse me for not biting on your limp line about “I wasn’t there.” sorry, I’m not a Mark Driscoll/T$G lemming, so you’ll have to do better than that.

    Disputed BY NOBODY, Paterno was told what Sandusky was doing. Disputed BY NOBODY, Paterno was told these things years ago. Much like your boy CJ, he did nothing, so the abuse continued and more lives were ruined. Not surprising that someone like you would gloss over the victims and rush to defend those who caused the damage/abuse.

    As far as the Univ paying money to the Paterno family, that doesn’t mean anything. I gave you examples of guys who clearly cheated and broke the rules and were still paid to go away. College athletics functions like no other industry (well accept maybe the pastoral industry). Maybe the family negotiated the firing to inlcude a large payout and the Univ agreed to go down that route as opposed to a prolonged legal battle. Who knows.

  123. Jimmy
    Have you ever mentioned the abused in your comments. There seems to be something a bit lacking in your heart here. Anyone with half a heart would throw a bone to the victims even if he were defending Paterno,etc. You are not big on victims, Jimmy, even little kids. I keep waiting to see some heart.

  124. Actually Paterno DID do more than what was first reported; exactly why the Univ is backing up on the firing.

    I’m no rush to judgment guy.

  125. Jimmy, Yah, LOL….I think you meant to say, “I’m no rush to truth guy”. Paterno knew that Sandusky was molesting boys, and he kept him on his staff for another decade.

    Like I said before, since I have a brain (unlike the typical Driscolite / T$G person) your spin won’t work with me.

  126. Alan,

    We have mentioned T$G in jest, but I like the way you referenced it in your comment.

    From this point forward whenever I mention Together for the Gospel here at TWW, it will be described with this acronym:

    T$G – That truly is the bottom line for the founders.

  127. How in the world would we manage without the informational posts like this one over at CBMW?

    Five Problems with the Slutwalk Marches

    Just one prime example of how CBMW keeps the Calvinista world informed…

    Yes, there will be upcoming posts on Mary Kassian (who authored this CBMW piece) and other women who will be speaking at the The Gospel Coalition Here is Our God conference.

  128. Deb -

    Go to the T$G site and check out their About Us / Affirmations and Denials. You might find some other “motives” in the mix. In red print under the heading is “We Are Brothers.” — Sucks if you’re a sister! Then, of course, you’ll have to get past the use of the word “Gospel” as a descriptor for almost everything. Finally, you’ll have to sort out how much of what they say is extra-Biblical :) I wouldn’t sign up to be a part of a group that expressed themselves like that!

  129. Oooo. Deb. Thanks in advance for the upcoming posts on Mary Kassian and other women who will be speaking at the The Gospel Coalition Here is Our God conference.

    I went and read the Slutwalk March article. Well. I think I could say plenty about her five points. But this is all for now.

    1. Rape is a crime. Short skirts are not.

    2. Sexuality is power. She is foolish to try and redefine power in a way that makes women behave the way she believes they should. It is a lie and she is doing no one a favor by dismissing what we all know.

    3. Well, maybe it does teach girls to be crass. Generally, when a group that feels oppressed grabs on to the language that oppressors use and claim it, the oppression is diffused. (See the origins of the word “Christian”) Rape is a pretty oppressive act. “Slut” is just a word.

    4. Rapists are oppressors. Men generally do not worry about getting raped, unless they are in prison. Men do not fear the violation of rape from woman. Women definately fear the violation of rape from men. All the time. ( What am I wearing? What time is it? Where am I? Do I need someone to walk me to my car?)

    5. Supressing women’s sexuality to make sure that men do not have to struggle with theirs just reinforces the patriarchal notion that women exist for the benefit of men and not much else.

    Geez.

  130. Thanks for the link to the article by Trevin Wax. Note, he claimed to be a “calminian” on several blogs when the brouhaha came out about the SBC’s new Gospel Project which was created, written and advised by mostly Calvinists. And I want to point out that he is a VERY YOUNG up and coming mouthpiece for the YRR leaders in the SBC. What does that mean? All of it is really about authoritarianism. As his article so obviously is teaching.

    I say, never agree with the foundational premise of this authoritarianism which is not biblical and you will never get caught in their snare. Young Trevin does have a secured career, though if the money continues to flow into the SBC/GBC.

  131. Dana,

    I have had it with these Calvinista women! I do plan to focus on them quite a bit leading up to the Here is Our God conference.

  132. “Is There A Proverbial Monster Under The SBC Church Bed_Rock?”

    HowDee YaAll,

    “…when a church springs up that emphasizes the centrality of who Jesus is, what he has done and what he’s promised to do, we welcome  that church as a friend and neighbor.”

    -Daniel Montgomery: Founder and Lead Pastor of Sojourn Community Church (concerning the move of SGM Corporate offices to Louisville, KY, and the planting of a SGM church there. )

    Q. Did the illustrious Mark Dever unleash a proverbial SGM sin-sniff”in monster that is now underneath the SBC’s church’s proverbial bed_rock, a mole’in away @ it’s foundation?

    hmmm…

    (sadface)

    Comic relief: “The monster under the Christian church’s bed_rock, is not Jesus!”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krcykTsUHeg&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Are we really free from the proverbial emphasis on the  power of sin and death?

    Let’s let scripture answer that:

    1. Jesus Christ, the promised deliverer, sets his people free from the present effects of sin and from the power of sin and will finally deliver them completely from its presence. The OT points ahead to a new and greater freedom and to a new deliverer. The OT predicts Jesus Christ as the deliverer Isa 61:1 (See also Isa 42:6-7)

    2. The redemption of the exodus foreshadows the redemption achieved by Jesus Christ Col 1:13-14 (See also 1Co 10:1-4)

    3. Jesus Christ fulfils the OT predictions of him as deliverer Lk 4:18-19 (See also Ro 11:26; Isa 59:20)

    4. The freedom that comes through Jesus Christ
    Jn 8:32-36 (See also Mt 1:21)

    5. Jesus Christ sets his people free from the penalty of sin 1Th 1:10 (See also Jn 3:36; Ro 8:1-2; Heb 9:15; Rev 1:5)

    6. Jesus Christ sets his people free from the spiritual death that accompanies sin Ro 6:1-7  (See also Eph 2:1-5; Heb 9:14)

    7. Jesus Christ sets his people free from the fear of death Heb 2:14-15

    8. Jesus Christ will finally set his people free from death itself 1Co 15:22-23 (See also Ro 5:12-17; 7:24)

    9. Jesus Christ sets his people free from the power of sin Ro 6:11-14 (See also Ro 6:22-23)

    10. Jesus Christ sets his people free from the pollution of sin 2Pe 1:2-4 (See also Gal 1:3-4)

    11. Jesus Christ sets his people free from the power of Satan Col 1:13-14 See also Mk 3:27 The strong man is, by implication, Jesus Christ; Ac 26:17-18

    12. Jesus Christ will set his people free from the presence of sin Php 3:21 (See also Eph 5:27; Col 1:22; 1Th 3:13; 5:23; Rev 21:4)

    13. Freedom as the result of being rescued from trials by Jesus Christ 2Ti 3:11 (See also Ac 26:17; 2Ti 4:18; 2Pe 2:9)

    The gospel reveals the purpose and power of God to deal with sin and all of its effects. Scripture uses a wide range of images to express the comprehensiveness of salvation.

    Lets take a look from scripture at God’s removal of sin:

    A. Atonement for sin. Isa 6:7 (See also Ex 32:30; Lev 4:27-31; Pr 16:6; Ro 3:25; Heb 2:17)

    B. Forgiveness of sin. Mic 7:18; Ac 13:38 (See also 1Ki 8:35-36; 2Ch 30:18-20; Ps 103:2-3; Isa 33:24; 55:7; Joel 3:21; Mt 26:27-28; Lk 24:46-47; Eph 1:7; 1Jn 1:9)

    C. Cancellation of a debt. Mt 6:12 (See also Mt 18:21-35; Lk 7:41-50)

    D. A covering over of sin. 1Pe 4:8 There is a close relation between “covering over sin” and “atoning for sin”. (See also Ps 32:1; 85:2; Jas 5:20)

    E. The taking away of sin. Ps 103:12 (See also 2Sa 12:13; Isa 6:6-7; Zec 3:4; Jn 1:29; Heb 9:28; 1Jn 3:5)

    F. Remembering sin no more. Isa 43:25 (See also Ps 25:7; Jer 31:33-34; 2Co 5:19)

    Lets take a look from scripture at God’s deliverance for the sinner: 

    a.  The salvation of the sinner. 1Ti 1:15 (See also Ps 28:8-9; Mt 1:21; Lk 19:9-10; Jn 3:17; Heb 7:25)

    b. The image of healing. Lk 5:31-32 pp Mt 9:12 pp Mk 2:17 (See also 2Ch 7:14; Isa 53:5; 57:18-19; Hos 14:4; 1Pe 2:24)

    c: The image of cleansing. Ps 51:2 (See also Lev 16:30; Eze 36:25; Jn 13:1-11; Ac 22:16; Heb 10:22; 1Jn 1:9)

    d. Redemption by God. Ps 130:8 (See also Isa 44:22; Tit 2:14; 1Pe 1:18-19)

    e. Justification before God. Gal 2:16 (See also Isa 53:11; Ro 3:24-26; 4:5,25; 5:16-19; 8:33)

    f. Freedom from condemnation. Ro 8:1 (See also Jn 3:18; 8:3-11; Ro 8:34)

    g. Peace with God. Ro 5:1 (See also Isa 53:5; Lk 2:14; Eph 2:17)

    h. Reconciliation with God. 2Co 5:18 (See also Ro 5:9-11; Col 1:19-20)

    i. Sanctification to God. Heb 10:10 (See also 1Co 6:11; Eph 5:25-26; Col 1:22)

    j. Freedom from sin and the sinful nature. Ro 7:24; 1Pe 2:24 (See also Ro 6:1-18; 8:1-9; Gal 5:24)

    k. A transition from death to life. Col 2:13 (See also Lk 15:22-24; Eph 2:4-5)

    l.Receiving eternal life. Ro 6:23 (See also Jn 3:16,36; 5:24)

    …Nothing, Nothing, No! Nothing… but the blood of Jesus can wash away our sins! And it has! Oh! it has!

    Be wise now therefore, Oh! ye pastors: be instructed, ye ministers of the flock of God! Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, SBC, lest He be miff’d, and you fall into the proverbial spiritual ditch which thou hast made; when His wrath is kindled but a little?

    Blessed are all they that put their trust in Jesus!

    (pr♥ay)

    Hum, hum, hum …♪♫♪ Oh O’ Mercy, Mercy, Mercy Me, …things aren’t what they ougha be…

    S㋡py
    ___
    “…♪♫♪ Change the Christian church world?”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_EjW6-vdGU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  133. Thanks for all the scriptures, Sopy. We are the blessed ones of Romans 4:7-8

    4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

    7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,
    AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.
    8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”

  134. SGM: Sitting At The Cross Waiting For The Son To Shine? Are they sitting in the rain?

    Diane, Bravo!

    CJM has apparently  created an arbitrary system where the scriptures need not apply.

    What?

    I took a gamble in a long posted comment, to demonstrate that Scripture, the Protestant Reformation’s foundational basis of faith and practice has apparently been politely disregarded in the case of SGM, -at the very least suspended by an unhealthy emphasis on the pre-resurrection conditions of man still trying to grapple with the problem of sin and man’s sinful condition. SGM then fails to point the kind folk under their care to the other side of the cross, and the empty tomb, and the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture in Jesus Christ!

    When you identify sin, when you give identity to man’s sinful condition, and then provide no lasting solution to the identity of that condition, you create a type of psychosis, which is exactly what the SGM system has done. 

    That Jesus provide a complete solution for the question of sin is the DNA of the New Testament! The problem of sin and it’s solution is clearly identified by The Apostle Paul of Tarsus here. That men and women of this SGM establishment have been working out their own solution to the problem of sin is apparent to the naked eye. It is inherent, and deeply embedded in the SGM system. History is replete with examples.  The end product is control.  It is a type of dance with death. Since there is no lasting solution forthright and presented to this group, there is an endless search for balance  -seeing that the issue of sin is ever in the scales.  How debilitating this has become for so many.  

    The simple solution (provided by Christ Jesus’ atonement) to the problem and condition of sin eludes their grasp by possible design and intention, or by shear ineptitude on the part of the religious church authorities who perpetuate this ‘cycle of death’ within SGM. That Jesus Christ is God’s solution to man’s dilemma and His own in relation to man, is plain to see, even upon a caesural perusal of the writings  of the New Testament!

    I find it very sad that this simple solution to the problem of sin is apparently withheld from these kind folk who grace the doors of this SGM establishment. It has been my longstanding hope that the scales can be removed from their eyes. …To serve a risen Savior who’s death and resurrection forever provided a lasting solution to man’s condition of sin. 

    The vail in Temple has been rent from top to bottom by the Lord Himself!

    He is say’in:  

    Hum, hum, hum …♪♫♪”Spread da news…The house is a rock’in come on in!”  Yeah! No need fer knock’in…juz come on it!

    (grin)

    hahahahahahaha

    (Ipr♥ay4U)

    S㋡py
    ___
    Comic relief: Stevie Ray Vaughan – “The house is rockin’ ”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFWw1w-vT2Y&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    Church Bells: Least We Forget, – ” I Serve A Risen Saviour”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sro34bg8rZc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  135. Bidget 2 said;

    “They are clueless to many of the teachings of Christ and try to keep people in their churches by force. I don’t think many of them really understand what the kingdom of God is like, or what Jesus came to do. It’s about order, and authority, and submission, and “clean counters,” and perfectly clean homes for them. The Calvinista’s don’t see how this is outward appearances. They think it is proof that God is among them.”

    A great summation of the SGM way. Thank you.

  136. Lily Hill,

    Your comment on April 19, @2:09.

    Beautifully written, deserves it’s own post. (IMHO :)

    THANK YOU!

  137. Alan
    I have not heard from Jimmy in a while. But, i will be doing two pedophile stories this week and next and will interweave Sandusky into the tales.