Sovereign Grace Ministries Church Plant – Reaching the Lost in Louisville

"The origins of our interest in church planting in Louisville date back some six years as we began to consider how strategic this city might be for Sovereign Grace Ministries. For several years, I, along with others, searched for a man who could church plant in this city, but we were unable to successfully recruit someone for this task. About two years ago, I had the unexpected thought that possibly the fruitless search was due to the fact that the Lord might want me to do this."

C.J. Mahaney

Downtown Louisville

Seven months ago there was much speculation that the entire Mahaney clan and Sovereign Grace Ministries were headed to Kentucky.  We weighed in with a post entitled Mahaney / SGM – Unprecedented Rescue by the SBC?  Those theories proved to be true. 

The SGM faithful (true believers) who followed C.J. Mahaney have been busy planting a church in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s backyard so to speak.  This Sunday, September 30, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville (SGCL) will open its doors for the first time.  Here is the church plant promo:

Several years ago we called attention to the growing bonds between Sovereign Grace Ministries and the Southern Baptist Convention and specifically between C.J. Mahaney and Al Mohler.  In case you want to know who introduced them, it was Mark Dever.  Ligon Duncan spilled the beans several years ago on the Together for the Gospel (T4G) blog; however, those remarks have since been removed.  I started doing some digging shortly after we began TWW and found a money trail that led straight to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS). (link)

When C.J. Mahaney came under fire in July 2011, guess who came to his defense very quickly –  Al Mohler.  Mohler and gang have been trying to rehabilitate Mahaney’s image since the incredible SGM debacle.  For example, last month Southern Seminary held a day long conference called Strengthening Your Marriage in Ministry.  C.J. Mahaney spoke to the students along with Al Mohler, Russell Moore, and Dennis Rainey.  When Mahaney is given that kind of platform (as is often the case at SBTS), it's no wonder the students absolutely LOVE him.

The Sovereign Grace Ministries website recently featured a post – Church planter interview: C.J. Mahaney (Louisville, KY) – in which Mahaney responds to a number of questions.  Here is one of them:

What is your vision for reaching the greater Louisville area?

I think our ambitions, on one hand, are rather simple. We recognize that God has blessed Louisville with numerous excellent churches, so we’re not coming in to pioneer a unique gospel work in this area. Not at all. But we do see that need exists for more gospel-preaching churches, particularly in the eastern suburbs.

Our prayer is that God would use this church plant to one great end: that people would come to saving faith and maturity in the grace of God. We would appreciate your prayers that God would help us to evangelize consistently, boldly, and winsomely, and that we would always be ready to offer the reason for the hope that is in us.

SGCL is wasting no time when it comes to the social media.  The church plant already has a Facebook account and a website

The elders of the Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville are as follows:

C.J. Mahaney – President of Sovereign Grace Ministries

Brian Chesemore – Mahaney's son-in-law (married to daughter Kristin)

Bob Kauflin – Mahaney's long-time friend

Jeff Purswell – Dean of Sovereign Grace Pastors College.  According to the PC website, Jeff is "currently pursuing a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from The Catholic University of America".  He will do much of the teaching on Sunday mornings.

Gary Ricucci – married to C.J. Mahaney's sister Betsy.  This is the second church he and CJ have planted together.  I guess Covenant Life Church was the first? 

SGM has a history of having only paid elders lead churches.  That certainly appears to be the case with Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.

It will be interesting to see how many students, faculty members, and staff at Southern Seminary will be attending SGCL.  Dee and I attended a SGM church once before starting our blog. That Sunday C.J. Mahaney preached.  Based on our experience, I wonder whether Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville will . . .

(1) have a prophecy microphone

(2) have a few ladies wearing head coverings

(3) advertise “water” baptism on the big screen.  I asked one of the congregants why “water” was modifying “baptism”.   It seems that immersion wasn’t the only type of baptism at that church.

The SGM website just featured information about the Sovereign Grace Ministries Planting Group so it appears that Mahaney & Co. are determined to plant many more SGM churches. 

How much of the peculiar SGM culture will be implemented in this church plant and where will these developments lead in the years to come, particularly with regard to the Southern Baptist Convention? 

We will definitely be watching (and reporting)!

Lydia's Corner:   Exodus 26:1-27:21   Matthew 25:1-30   Psalm 31:1-8   Proverbs 8:1-11


Sovereign Grace Ministries Church Plant – Reaching the Lost in Louisville — 172 Comments

  1. For several years, I, along with others, searched for a man who could church plant in this city, but we were unable to successfully recruit someone for this task. About two years ago, I had the unexpected thought that possibly the fruitless search was due to the fact that the Lord might want me to do this.”

    Ok, I just have to say it. I’m struck at how completely arrogant this statement is – that CJ thinks he’s the only one around, after searching for years, who can bring a unique gospel to Louisville. So does that mean Al Mohler’s gospel is less-than? And what about all of the other churches?

    And this from the guy who wrote a book entitled Humility: True Greatness (

  2. Julie Anne –

    Don’t ya know? — it’s not the same gospelly gospel that only SGM can bring 🙂

  3. The Mahaney Circus has arrived in Louisville!

    Show Animals “The Cook’s & The Kauflin’s” will be performing live under the Big Top!

    And just in time for Halloween, watch The Mezmerizing Mahaney deceive the crowd dressed-up in his Humility Outfit!

  4. He said “winsomely.” That alone means we should be very afraid. ; )

    Seriously, though, a younger guy (30-something chaplain right out of seminary in St. Louis) recently showed up in Sunday morning Bible study at our Lutheran church and used the word “winsome” in reference to how we should preach the Gospel. He’s the only one to use it so far, thank goodness, and we’re watching him very closely. It’s sad when a word has been so abused that its mere presence can make you afraid that an entire seminary has been taken over by loons.

    Also, is there a thing about church planting in Neo-Calvinist/SGM circles? Is it held up as some kind of “ultra-spiritual” thing to do? Because the pastor of my old PCA church (who recommended Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life to EVERYONE) wanted to do a church plant. All well and good, but the original church only had about 35-40 people and was nearly broke. He knew it sounded ridiculous and would admit as much, but then go on about how God will bless obedience/faithfulness, etc.

  5. I decided to google “winsome gospel” and found these:

    In short, it is possible to seek to be winsome and persuasive out of a self-centeredness, rather than a God-centeredness. Tim Keller

    But gospel-driven churches ought to be attractive. They ought to radiate joy. Their preachers should be self-deprecating, winsome, and visibly moved by the power of the gospel. Jared Wilson

    Seems to be catching….

    Who caught it from who?

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  7. anonymous,

    These Calvinistas are demonstrating their limited vocabulary by the overuse of words like winsome

    And C.J. Mahaney’s chronic use of “Savior” is so annoying.   I prefer calling our redeemer by the name that God Almighty gave Him – Jesus.  Why is that name so difficult for Mahaney to utter?

    Here are some other suggestions:

    Other names for Jesus Christ

    Jesus Christ
    Christ, Christ Jesus, Emmanuel, God-man, God the Son, Immanuel, Jesu, Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, King of Glory, King of Heaven, King of Kings, Lamb of God, Lord Jesus, Lord of Lords, Lord our Righteousness, Messiah, Our Lord, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, the Advocate, the Anointed, the Christ, the Christ Child, the Door, the Galilean, the Good Shepherd, the Infant Jesus, the Intercessor, the Judge, the Lamb, the Life, the Master, the Mediator, the Nazarene, the Only-Begotten, the Risen, the True Vine, the Truth, the Vine, the Way


  8. Girls, you’ve pretty much beat that horse to death haven’t you? ( Obviously, you haven’t sigh)

  9. I intensely dislike this word ‘winsome’, as I dislike many other words that are used in excess by people attempting to appear more educated, intelligent or refined than they actually are.

    “Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say ‘infinitely’ when you mean ‘very’; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
    ~C. S. Lewis

  10. Deb,

    Hmm. That’s an interesting thought. I’m not sure I would take issue with Mahaney referring to Jesus as Savior because I find a great deal of comfort in calling Him that myself. But it is odd that Mahaney would limit his reference to Jesus as Savior, especially if he is avoiding using His name Jesus to do it. He could just as easily use His name “Jesus” to the same end because Mary was told to call His name Jesus “for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus means “Yahweh Saves” so there is no reason why Mahaney couldn’t use Jesus. …Dunno. Though I guess, now that I think about it, I don’t use “Jesus” all that often either. I usually use “the Lord” or in prayer, “Lord”.

    Then two verses later (in Matthew 1) we are told His name was to be Immanuel, “God with us” which confesses the hypostatic union.

    Then, add Christ, and you have Messiah. So Jesus Christ is Messiah, who is God incarnate, our Savior. That’s what the early Christians confessed in their ichthys: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.

    I think what bothers me more about it is what Jesus’ saviorhood gets attached to — the stuff being propagated in His name, whether Jesus or Savior. (Or Immanuel, or Lord….)

  11. Excellent name list, Deb.

    “These Calvinistas are demonstrating their limited vocabulary by the overuse of words like winsome.”

    True-plus some professing Christian authors/bloggers/pastors even make up words (their vocabulary being so apparently limited) like “redonkulous” (referring to a sweatshirt that supposedly looks like one worn by “Wal-Mart moms”), and use made-up slang words like stuttin’ (so they can sound…edgy? to their twitter followers). Maybe we need an edgy gospel presentation. That can be a future T4$ slogan–The Edgy Gospel. Or book title.

    And let’s not forget robust. Aren’t they always talking about a robust this and a robust that-how we should be presenting the gospel in a robust way-strong, vigorous, boisterous? Winsome is- sweet, charming, pleasant, agreeable. Wonder which one we are to do. I need this unpacked for me.

    I also think it is strange Mahaney refers to Jesus as “the Savior” so often. Jesus is His name….name above all names. What a priviledge it is to say–Jesus.

    Re: the video–they all look very happy, don’t they? I read a very sad comment at survivors about this video after it was posted there. Someone wrote, (paraphrasing) Louisville people: your children will never be allowed to play with the children you see in this video. 🙁

    So when I think of the name CJ Mahaney, it reminds me of spiritual abuse and abuse of children. And cover-ups. And lies. That is his legacy to me.

    Interesting cover-up story here by a Christian college-(note the comment after the article by macarpenter).

  12. Virginia/Evie

    If the Cook’s are decent people, they better watch out. In SGM it is adapt of be devoured. I wouldn’t get within 10 miles of an SGM enterprise. 

  13. anonymous

    I find it fascinating that the term “winsome gospel” is used by someone who doesn’t like it when he is challenged. Hmmm, how does winsome hardball sound?

  14. Jimmy

    Oh, Jimmy, SGM is soooooo easy to beat up. They lurch from issue to issue, keeping one step ahead of scandal. However, in the background, things are not settled, and I predict that some things may occur that will continue to raise concerns about the characters of interest.

  15. I think it’s very interesting that Mahaney sees a need for more “gospel-preaching churches” only in the affluent eastern suburbs of Louisville which already have an abundance of growing churches. These include too-many-to-count healthy cohesive smaller churches; other recent church plants with similar “biblical worldviews”; several large biblically sound megachurches (including Mohler’s own church) and two new campuses (out of four throughout metro Louisville) of the Acts 29 founded Sojourn Church. There are far more needy areas of the city desperate for hope, help and healing.

  16. “The origins of our interest in church planting in Louisville date back some six years as we began to consider how strategic this city might be for Sovereign Grace Ministries.”

    Erm…shouldn’t this say something like “…how strategic this city might be for JESUS”????

    It’s really not about God at all, is it? It’s about building up an earthly kingdom dedicated to C.J. Mahaney. And Al Mohler, who is building up his own kingdom over at SBTS, he’s happy to help.

    This, folks, is NOT church.

  17. I will also note that I am a militant non-church attender, after decades of doing the church thing. So you can take my opinion with a shaker full of salt if you like. But, if I, the former attender and casual agnostic, can see a problem, then others have got to be seeing it as well.

  18. winsome – sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging: a winsome smile.

    So they’re either advocating men to be like women….

    Or they are ignoring Jesus’ command to be as shrewd as serpents.

    Either way they are leading us astray, and ought to have millstones tied around their necks and tossed into rivers.

    Hey, the exegesis is as sound as some of theirs…. 🙂

  19. I’m not shy about calling SGM a cult.

    The presence of other churches in the Louisville area doesn’t matter anymore to SGM than it would the LDS.

    These are not “decent” people sacrificing their lives on the mission field, serving the will of God. They are people who know their brand of godliness is a means of gain. They’re in it for the money they hope to make.

    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

  20. JSD said: There are far more needy areas of the city desperate for hope, help and healing.

    SGM does not church plant in needy areas. It is well-known that they church plant in financially healthy areas. They appeal to a specific socio-economic population, certainly not the needy, the single, the widows, the divorced, etc.

  21. CJ Mahaney said,

    “What is your vision for reaching the greater Louisville area?

    I think our ambitions, on one hand, are rather simple. We recognize that God has blessed Louisville with numerous excellent churches, so we’re not coming in to pioneer a unique gospel work in this area. Not at all. But we do see that need exists for more gospel-preaching churches, particularly in the eastern suburbs.

    Our prayer is that God would use this church plant to one great end: that people would come to saving faith and maturity in the grace of God. We would appreciate your prayers that God would help us to evangelize consistently, boldly, and winsomely, and that we would always be ready to offer the reason for the hope that is in us.”

    So, even though there are “numerous excellent churches”, the “need exists for more gospel-preaching churches.”

    So, the conclusion is that not enough of these “numberous excellent churches are “gospel-preaching churches”. What are these churches (which are esteemed enough to be described as “excellent”) preaching, then,

    But make no mistake about it, SGM is “not coming in to pioneer a unique gospel work in this area. Not at all.”

  22. Being someone who has and is following SGM/Mahaney, and seeing how SGM interacts with their “family” of churches, I believe that what SGM communicates to the public is not consistent with what they actually “live” out in practice. At this point I think CJ believes everything he says. I also believe he is totally self deceived and has surrounded himself with men who won’t/don’t contradict him. And the fact is that THEY ALL DERIVE THEIR INCOME from the establishment that CJ helped start, took over by deceit, and continues to lead. The men who prop him up have all seen CJ dispose of other men who disagree with him. The men around him appear to be choosing earthly livlihood over Godly righteousness and then call it all gospel humility, gospel grace, gospel churches. It makes me ill the way they use the word gospel.

    Church planting/planters has been the buzz word for quite some time. The problem is Jesus didn’t tell anyone to go plant gospel (c)hurches. He said to go make disciples. Some men seem to want to be disciples of CJ instead of Jesus. It is very sad.

  23. Bridget,

    Excellent point! We are to make disciples. What we are witnessing with Mahaney & Co. is kingdom building.

  24. I graduated from an SBC seminary, but neither my husband nor I are in “full-time ministry” (not my label). We have attempted to cooperate with a church plant, and even a small church, but have met with attitudes we found confusing; one church planter actually asked us, “Why aren’t you guys planting a church yourselves?” I didn’t know that was the apex of our educational experience (some people call it our religious training). My husband and I both feel our lives should be about (wait for it….) discipleship. It has taken a long time to figure out why we haven’t found a great fit, thus far. It makes my heart sad to think about what could happen when a whole new generation of seminary students is exposed to such unhealthy hierarchy.

  25. Jimmy,

    You wrote a comment about your church experience on a previous post. Was that your experience or were you mocking others who have said that was what happened to them?

    If you had this happen to you then I understand why you are hanging around at TWW.

    If you were mocking those of us who actually live with the reality of leaving a church after twenty five years because the pastors and elders could not handle a discussion without being controlling and abusive, then I will know not to respond to you as I did. And I will know that you have a lot to learn and this is a good place to hang out!

    This is what you said:

    “I was a member of the same church for 25 years. I gave them money, I gave them sweat-equity, I rejoiced in people’s salvation; mourned over members moving and prayed with and for those who struggled. I subbed, I led, I swept, I painted and I took ownership (thought I was never the owner) and was wholly committed to the spiritual growth of our congregation. I loved the people; loved their kids, took pride in their accomplishments.

    Then we left. Now I am a church attender with no immediate plans to join. Is the budget in arrears? Not my problem. Are there unbelievers in leadership? Not my problem. Are visitors welcomed? I don’t know; I’m basically a regular visitor.
    Do things need fixing? I suppose so but I don’t get it a lot of thought. Do I love these people? Not yet, maybe some day I will.
    I have become what I despised, a church attender with no real commitment to the local congregation.
    It’s easy this way; sign nothing, take no ownership, leave whenever.”

  26. The statements CJ Mahaney has made in regards to the SGM plant in Louisville remind me of a quote by Christopher Lasch:
    <blockquote The master propagandist, like the advertising expert, avoids obvious emotional appeals and strives for a tone that is consistent with the prosaic quality of modern life—a dry, bland matter-of-factness. Nor does the propagandist circulate "intentionally biased" information. He knows that partial truths serve as more effective instruments of deception than lies. Then he tries to impress the public with statistics of economic growth that neglect to give the base year from which the growth is calculated, with accurate but meaningless facts about the standard of living—with raw and uninterpreted data, in other words, from which the audience is invited to draw the inescapable conclusion that things are getting better and the present regime therefore deserves the people's confidence…. By using accurate details to imply a misleading picture of the whole, the artful propagandist, it has been said, makes truth the principal form of falsehood.

  27. M

    As the mid road Reverend Dee (or Mother Superior-depending on my mood) I hearby declare you a “theologian in residence.” May you carry the burden of your office with dignity.

  28. Evie

    There is no way that they do not know the issues surrounding Mahaney. Perhaps they are living in the Matrix, like I once was.

  29. Is Louisville one of those Bible Belt cities with an Independent Only True Church on every block? (And more being planted every day?)

  30. AZAmy

    God will use your traiing and passion. I think believe that there is a coming crash from those tired of authoritarian selfishness. You are going to be needed desperately.

  31. I think it’s very interesting that Mahaney sees a need for more “gospel-preaching churches” only in the affluent eastern suburbs of Louisville which already have an abundance of growing churches. … There are far more needy areas of the city desperate for hope, help and healing. — JSD


  32. Deb –

    Do you think SGCL is aiming to “Reach the Lost?” I don’t think I’ve seen that term used on their new website or in the interview on the SGM blog. Actually, I have not heard that term in SGMville much at all. I don’t really think that is their aim.

    The big aim these days is Church Planting, and it seems to me that there are, literally, “competing” groups aiming to do just that. I sense that they are all (underneath) trying to be the biggest church planter out there. Again, it makes me ill. As you said, they indeed seem to be building (k)ingdoms in the name of their (g)ospels.

  33. Hey Dee I agree it is a matrix! And the reason I contend SGM is unChristian is based upon how its governed. Rather than it being in submission to the headship of Christ and led by the Spirit through believers redeemed by His blood, SGM is a meritocracy which favors the blood relatives and friends of

  34. Bridget,

    I’m sure you’re right. SGM leaders believe they do church a bit better than everyone else, so they will be coaxing people away from other congregations. We’ll see…

  35. EAGLE references: “all the criminal activity he’s done” (Mahaney)

    For those curious about the “criminal activity”, don’t bother looking for the arrests records; there are NONE. Despite hundreds of posts by the Wartburg/Mahaney Watch and hundreds of other posts by people who don’t like him and have made their vitriol known, the police apparently are still awaiting proof of real criminal activity.

    But let’s not impede the march of the Wartburg/Mahaney blog – dryly

  36. Hey Dee, is it common for married christian women to be called ‘girls’ there in the US? I once asked a very lovely elderly christian man (nicely)at what age he would start referring to me as a woman rather than a girl (I was 34 & unmarried). We were at a Youth Group trip away & I wanted to challenge the (albeit unwitting) labelling of adult women as something younger, & further down the intellectual chain. He took it as intended & was utterly gracious.)

    (NB for your interest, because you said you’ve had contact with L’Abri, the lovely gentleman I asked this of was Frank Schaeffer’s personal tutor, back when he was the behaviourally-challenged teenage Franky at Swiss L’Abri…)

    (Plus – I also like Star Trek, but love Star Wars, & read sci-fi, i.e. Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars type stuff…we are almost one!)

  37. I was in SGM for 15 years…believe me, they have no interest in courting the poor. I have seen rich (both were doctors) members shoot up through leadership and noteriety ranks within months of coming to the church. SGM is careful to show their wealthiest that they are special and adored.

  38. JImmy – are you only a criminal when you get caught? I know I’m a sinner only when others find out what I’ve done-dryly.

  39. I’m sure that the group of Present Day Saints that comprise the Louisville SGM plant find a sense of comfort in the proverbial wisdom that “true believers will always face persecution” and that opposition is a sign of “divine favor”.

    The Mahaney Modesty Policemaidens on their Girltalk blog made a big deal about how women should avoid the internet (unless of course it involved having their minds controlled by what they wrote on their blog) and revealed they viewed themselves as a distinctly innocent, persecuted people – victims of gossip & slander. Awww!

  40. Jimmy

    From what I can tell, some things are crimes even if the perps are not caught, tried or convicted. 

  41. BeakerJ

    Yes, amongst some segments of the US population, woemn are referred to as girls, voluntarily. My elderly mother (83) still referrs to the “grils”  in her club.  Mahaney’s wife and daughters call their blog “Girl Talk.” And the statement, “You go, girl” is well accepted by many.(I have to say I have used the latter within the last decade).

    However, with the gender thing heating up in churches, i am now getting a bit irritated by the whole thing.

    I just ordered Red Mars for my Kindle. i am going on a long trip in November and will have plenty of time to read. Thanks for the suggestion.

  42. “I intensely dislike this word ‘winsome’, as I dislike many other words that are used in excess by people attempting to appear more educated, intelligent or refined than they actually are.”

    I dislike the word also. Mainly because when I envision someone being “winsome”, I get a mental picture of someone wearing a tight, insincere smile.

  43. The very first sentence is what struck me the most…

    “The origins of our interest in church planting in Louisville date back some six years as we began to consider how strategic this city might be for Sovereign Grace Ministries.”

    So clearly, this church plant is a business decision since Louiseville is a “strategic” place for this ministry to land.

  44. Wow! Not having had much exposure to Sovereign Grace Ministries I guess I naively believed gospel=teaching and living out Jesus commands. I mistakenly interpreted “church plant” to be sowing seed in neglected and underserved areas. I consider Louisville to be a community fairly densely packed with many diverse churches which happens to border the Bible belt. There are certainly plenty of churches that believe they are The One True Church and others that are cultish but from what I’ve read on TWW about SGM I’m unfamiliar with someone (something) so blatantly upfront about their agenda. How do intelligent people in other churches get sucked into this? What women who have even a modicum of equality and a voice in their church home would accept this type of change and demotion? It does appear the plan is to court and drain off Christians with financial resources from other churches. There still seems to be a great deal of dissension among Baptists and the general religious community about the differences between the old order and new order of the seminary. I now have a much deeper understanding of how disheartened and despairing the cast out faculty and staff of the seminary were when Mohler and company moved in and took over.
    Sorry so rambling…Still trying to wrap my head around this entity moving it’s headquarters to Louisville and how successful it actually will be.

  45. I think the words “winsome” and “criminal” are both in danger of being overused here 😉

    Churchplanting seems to be a phenomenon of Reformed, or reformed-theology, churches in the Western (or at least English-speaking) world right now. The Reform movement in Anglicanism in the UK and Australia (Australia actually giving the lead in this case) is hot on it as well as the SGM and (so I understand) Calvary Chapel people. Of course planting a church in an area where there is no church is a very good thing. My concerns are however:

    1. Most of the plants I have seen in recent years have been in affluent areas where there were already churches, including evangelicals;

    2. Some people at least in the movement seem to think the main reason for planting is because the other churches in these areas are not “preaching the gospel”. From a classical Protestant or even Orthodox point of view this might be the case with some very liberal churches, but I am not convinced it is true of all.

    To be fair, Reform have recently said they are trying to address the problem of 1. by moving into poorer areas.

  46. @Southwestern Discomfort Sat Sep 29, 2012 at 11:06 AM
    Loving your use of the term ‘casual agnostic’ ! I also identify with ‘reverent agnostic’. I think I like the cheekiness of it. I’m sorry though, that labels even need to be used…

  47. “Is Louisville one of those Bible Belt cities with an Independent Only True Church on every block? (And more being planted every day?)”

    Mohler’s church, Highview East, is just about a mile away from where CJ’s church is starting.

    So, where will CJ get the money to plant more since some SGM churches are not sending their percentages in anymore? I mean losing CLC percentages could not have helped.

    Will he get the money from the SBC NAMB where Mohler’s former pastor and protege, Kevin Ezell, is now president? Ezell had no problem partnering with Acts 29 starts to help with funding.

  48. BeakerJ, would that elderly gentleman from L’Abri have the initials D.D., by any chance? If so, I knew him while a student at L’Abri 20+ years ago, and he was/is very dear, and quite surprisingly funny… Is he still living, do you know?

  49. I’ve been thinking of the 2 logical follow-up lines to the top quote– lines you might expect from any normal denominational leader. Imagine no controversy or ulterior motives.
    “About two years ago, I had the unexpected thought that possibly the fruitless search was due to the fact that the Lord might want me to do this. Therefore, I am resigning from significant responsibility with Sovereign Grace Ministries, so I can dedicate full-time to pastoring God’s people in the local church. Dave has proved he can do a great job at headquarters without me, anyway.
    Or “About two years ago, I had the unexpected thought that possibly the fruitless search was due to the fact that the Lord might want me to do this. But when Brian moved to Louisville, I thought– wow! He could be the planter we’ve been searching for! He can be the only full-time pastor at the church’s inception. While I will continue to carry significant responsibility with Sovereign Grace Ministries, Brian will be dedicated to pastoring God’s people in the local church.”

  50. ..Five Blind Mice, ..Five Blind Mice, See How They Prognosticate…(1)

    HowDee YaAll, 

    Maybe da Ceege  can borrow da proverbial Marky Driscoll’s throne fore da sunday service. His feet haven’t touched da ground for sometime now anyhow…



    (1) Transitive verb: to foreshadow; portend: urban renewal that prognosticates a SGM social and cultural renaissance.

  51. lol Dave A A. Those do sound logical. The problem with CJ is he can’t say what you said because it’s too honest! The move at this time was simply an escape, and the path from Gaithersburg to Louisville was littered with his rewrites of history and his own interpretation of the facts.

  52. Evie,
    Yep– too honest!
    But IF we did believe this lie is true, THEN we’d have to conclude it’s not very good strategery!
    Kinda like the Pope deciding he needed to plant a new parish in Naples–had trouble recruiting a priest– then– he had an unexpected thought!!

  53. As someone who spent about 6 years as a heavily involved member of a SGM church, I have just a couple of comments:

    First, SGM has never had even a slight interest in reaching the poor. SGM church plants have *always* been in the wealthier ‘burbs of City X. Nor have they ever been particularly interested in the more un-churched parts of our nation–just as an example, the SGM church I attended is in a county that already contained over 800 churches when they arrived on the scene. But this has never really bothered many people among the SGM rank-and-file: you see, while pastors and leaders would publicly deny this, SGMers see themselves as vastly superior Christians, and joining SGM is like graduating from Christian kindergarten and moving on to PhD studies… so you see, in their mindset, planting an SGM church is “missionary” work, even in a town with a bajillion pre-existing churches, because all the Christians in those churches haven’t reached the fullness of SGMism…

    Second, the Mahaney/Mohler connection in Louisville goes back a very long way, and while I do believe money is a part of it, there’s more to it than that: I believe (disclaimer: this is speculative) that Mohler admires/is envious of the autocratic control that SGM pastors have and despises the denominational controls and accountability that exist in the SBC that keep him from doing whatever he wants. If Mahaney et al. become more widely known, accepted, and normalized within mainstream evangelicalism, then Mohler would have an easier time getting people to swallow the kind of authority he would like to exercise.

  54. “Second, the Mahaney/Mohler connection in Louisville goes back a very long way, and while I do believe money is a part of it, there’s more to it than that: I believe (disclaimer: this is speculative) that Mohler admires/is envious of the autocratic control that SGM pastors have, and despises the denominational controls and accountability that exist in the SBC that keep him from doing whatever he wants. If Mahaney et al. become more widely known, accepted, and normalized within mainstream evangelicalism, then Mohler would have an easier time getting people to swallow the kind of authority he would like to exercise.”

    BINGO. Ryan, you get the prize. That is exactly what it is. And Mohler simply views the entire SGM scandalabra as some of the peons getting uppity and bad bloggers who do not like firm leadership. That was pretty much the essence of his quote to the Courier Journal when all that came down. CJ was innocent, of course. (Nevermind the blackmail, horrible treatment of those who were victims of molestation in SGM churches, etc, etc)

  55. Dave Double A – as long as the unexpected thought doesn’t challenge his own opinion of himself or cast doubt on his infallibility!

  56. Proposition 1: SGM claims to be a Christian ministry.
    Proposition 2: Christ taught that we are to reach the poor and minister among those who are poor.
    Proposition 3: The Bible teaches that a clear priority of God is that we are responsible for the disadvantaged we encounter, confirmed by Christ.
    Proposition 4: SGM avoids ministry in poor communities.
    ERGo: SGM cannot be a Christian ministry.
    In law, that is a fraud, which is a crime, but not enforced, since it is a matter of religious belief.

  57. On the whole winsomely preach the gospelly gospel winsomely stuff, why not just talk about it like a normal person? It’s not a performance, it’s a conversation – treat it like a normal conversation (which is what it should be). I sometimes think that there’s far too much overthinking about how to share the gospel that it becomes less than genuine, it becomes an act of ticking boxes.

  58. Ryan M.

    I agree with Anon 1 – YOU get the prize!  There can be no doubt that what you shared is true.  Mohler is enamored with Mahaney’s hyper-authoritarianism.  Only problem is, it isn’t Christ-like.  Look at the debacle with the congregation Mahaney pastored for 27 years!!!  I am praying that Southern Baptists will wake up before it’s too late. 

    I attend a Southern Baptist church that is NOT reformed, and my pastor reminded us as a congregation to pray for a church plant in a coastal community.  He obviously understands what’s going on in Christendom because he said:  “They are trying to reach the UNCHURCHED and the DE-CHURCHED.”  Yep, my pastor gets it…

  59. Hippimamma – yes, that’s him. He is still living, but sadly lost in the mists of alzheimers…As charming as ever the last time I saw him, but he has no idea of who most people are, & I have the great distinction of being possibly the only female ever to be invited for tea alone.

    We may know each other in real life if you were around English L’Abri 20 something years ago…

  60. Why does he always go to places that have heavy church influences? I know he is a Calvinista but there has to be plenty of Calvinista’s running around Louisiville:) I could see if there wasn’t a particular denomination in a city but, I thought church plants were to go to places where
    1.) There were few or no churches that were active in seeking the lost.
    2.) No churches of a particular denomination in that area.

    I think number 2 must be the reason… he is his own brand new denomination. Don’t you love American innovation? Thankfully in my part of Alabama there is no Sovereign Grace but the baptist churches have plenty of Calvinistas. I no longer attend the Baptist church due to this new trend. However, the Calvinist’s of today aren’t classically Calvinist because I have met more than one who won’t go to the PCA church in our town because it is “too small.” They run over to the flag ship baptist churches with the better music. One told me that the pastor wasn’t reformed but her Sunday School teacher was. I guess the traditional Calvinist’s views on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper aren’t as important as oh I don’t know the L in the TULIP. Carl Trueman wrote an article about this. Dee or Deb have you read this?

  61. Mahaney has to want to take people from other churches. How else would he get the numbers he needs? I guess I am being too cynical…

    Also, I listened to a sermon the other day by a man named Mark Tenniwood. He was preaching at Calvary St. George Episcopal in NYC. This church is trying to get the actual Good News out. He was talking about Jesus’ burden being light and then he makes reference to a book a famous pastor/speaker wrote who talks about a man who comes to Christ late in life and laments all that he has not done because so much of his life was a WASTE. Tenniwood goes on to say that how sad that this Good News is turned into such a labor because people are told that if they don’t get it young, their life is a waste instead of being profoundly joyful because we have been found no matter at what hour! He said “what an unimaginable burden to place on someone to say this is a life wasted.” Hmmm… I wonder he was talking about? I saved the sermon if anyone is interested…

  62. AZ-Amy-

    When I “escaped” from SWBTS, the idea of discipleship was being well, for lack of a better terms, “being stressed less.”
    There is this entire idea of business that are taking over churches. There is no ministry to the poor by many churches. The local major SBC church is expanding not into a poor area of the community, but into a wealthy section of town. It is all like a Wharton School of Business model. It is all about $$$.
    And people wonder why I no longer attend a SBC church…

  63. Jimmy,
    Thanks for dropping by after a season of silent lurking.
    Your winsome trolling is always an amusing diversion.

  64. BeakerJ, i was at L’Abri in the summer of 1989, and off and on for a couple of years after that. I also had tea, though not alone, with DD (seed cake!). I almost choked on my tea when he pointed to a squirrel outside and said “he always reminds me of the Bishop of Durham.”

  65. AZAmy … I hear what you’re saying and I think Dee is right about an eventual collapse coming. The stifling “Kudzu Kingdom” of authoritarian megalochurch [not a misspelling] and dictating people’s callings will not hold sway on all people forever. I suspect all y’all will find a deeply relevant and joyful ministry in the long run, as peers who can empathize and journey with others who sincerely desire to follow Jesus without the Pharisaic layer of church/church-plant autocrats.

    Rock on, on the Rock! All will turn out redemptively …

    Now, on to e-Church, with thanks to TWW and Pastor Burleson …

  66. On the whole winsomely preach the gospelly gospel winsomely stuff, why not just talk about it like a normal person? It’s not a performance, it’s a conversation – treat it like a normal conversation (which is what it should be). I sometimes think that there’s far too much overthinking about how to share the gospel that it becomes less than genuine, it becomes an act of ticking boxes.



  67. As someone who spent about 30 years as a heavily involved member of 3 different SGM churches, I can confirm what Ryan M. stated about SGM’s church planting strategy. I was involved in one church plant, and then our church planted out another one. Both were targeted to high growth upper middle class areas. The demographics of the areas were well researched and the information was presented in the most glowing terms to help entice folks to join the “mission.” The only church plant in a lower income area that I can recall in 30 years was in Chester, Pennsylvania, and that was closed down after a short time. And Ryan is right about the attitude of superiority (“we’re doing it right”) that so many SGMers have. It grieves me now to admit that I thought that way at one time, too.

  68. “BeakerJ, i was at L’Abri in the summer of 1989, and off and on for a couple of years after that. I also had tea, though not alone, with DD (seed cake!). I almost choked on my tea when he pointed to a squirrel outside and said “he always reminds me of the Bishop of Durham.”


  69. “Why does he always go to places that have heavy church influences? I know he is a Calvinista but there has to be plenty of Calvinista’s running around Louisiville”

    there are but mostly in 20’a and early 30’s which means they have little money (unless they have a ministry gig) so they have to make NEW Calvinists among the upper middle class to keep the money flowing. They do not market themselves as Charismatic Calvinists, though. people find that out much later. That is why they use the control bait and switch tactic, Love Bombing. It works.

  70. Moniker, I think you’re right about Chester being the only one… I certainly can’t recall any others. There were a few that were pitched as being “urban,” which I always interpreted as being a code word for poor. But, for instance, the Brooklyn plant is in Williamsburg, which is an incredibly trendy and expensive place for hipster kids on trust funds to live.

    And ditto to being grieved to admit having once had that same attitude…

  71. Tritto (is that a word) on the “We’re doing it right” attitude. I watched the video and “had the unexpected thought” That was US! Though our group had many differences from SGM, that attitude lurked as we (eventually 6 families) moved to a new area. Although we overtly wished to bring nothing but good new to the lost in an underchurched area, we covertly wished to become a “family of churches”. Perhaps the best attitude correction for us was that we went to (I believe) the county with the highest unemployment in the U S. Without being independently wealthy, we all spent more time working multiple underpaid jobs in the community than we did doing “church”.

  72. Oh Hippimama I love it! He also used to say ‘I’m off to see the Pope’ as a euphemism for going to the bathroom & if you asked how the Pope was he’d always say ‘infallible as ever’. People knew he was becoming unwell as he kept telling students that Schaeffer was buried under the lawn in the front drive & so students couldn’t walk on the grass. He is truly the last of a kind, of an era of British gentlemen.
    And I was around from 1991 & now live in the area so we really may have met 🙂

  73. SGM Theme Park Adventure: “Taking Da SGM Lewisville Plunge?”

    HowDee YaAll,

    More than likely, there is nothing now to keep America the beautiful from plunging off of its proverbially massive fiscal debt cliff.  Who knows? Da August orders for durable goods are telling. (a decrease of some thirteen percent). 


    Da Ceege knows when da plunge happens dat da stuff he pulled is going to be remembered as chump change and the last thing that will be on da people’s mindz. The reality is he knows his roller coaster (pews) will be full. 


    “”Scream if ya wanna go faster…””


  74. I agree with both Ryan M and Pam.

    Ryan M, because although obviously “up and outs” need saving as much as “down and outs”, the rich as well as the poor, after a while one has the suspicion that all new church plants are in the rich areas/those belonging to the “up and outs”. An editorial in the British evangelical publication Evangelicals Now decried this tendency not long ago. Where are the Wesleys of our day who go among the poor? (But of course Wesley is suspicious in neo-Calvinist eyes because he was an overt Arminian).

    Pam, because yes, the whole process is made unnaturally laboured, to the point where instead of doing it joyfully one almost starts to abhor the idea of sharing the gospel (I said *almost*!) because these people make it feel like we’re trying to sell Amway or something.

  75. Eagle – I do see the similarities in authoritarian structure with Mormonism. (How are you feeling, by the way?)

    As far as reaching out to upper-middle class areas, not having a heart for the poor and disadvantaged, and feeling themselves superior – I am still fighting to get over those issues. It probably will take longer than my lifetime!

  76. As a recovered SGM/PDI member, I can confirm that Ryan is correct – they only target upper middle class neighborhoods/areas. They have been doing this since the PDI days.

    They don’t care about “the Gospel” they only care about the SGM brand and spread it across the US. if they ACTUALLY cared about spreading the Gospel, they would go to areas of the world that no one has gone to share the good news. Instead, they “plant” in areas that have a higher income level – the whole idea is that a 10% “tithe” from an area that has a medium household income of $100,000 is better than 10% from a area with a medium income of $50,000. So, go where you can bring in more $$$.

    BTW – I firmly believe that SGM is a cult and not a church.

  77. 3 of the 5 elders are C.J., his brother in law, and his son in law. This family controls the organization. That is NOT healthy.

    Plus, if they are being paid, that’s doubly not healthy!

    This is a hard concept for many people in churches to understand.

    I would never join a church with this type of leadership, and I don’t know why anyone would.

  78. “Winsome” is a fine word. I am not going to let a creep take it away from me.

    I am glad that I helped plant a church 20 years ago – before it was cool.

  79. Win some, Loose some, …“Doubleplusgood?”

    Bridget: “The problem is Jesus didn’t tell anyone to go plant gospel (c)hurches. He said to go make disciples. 
    Some men seem to want to be disciples of CJ instead of Jesus. It is very sad.”

    That answers dat question…why they both fall into the ditch. Blind shepherds leading blind shepherds leading blind sheep.


    …imagine dat?



    P.S. good to see ya Freedom! Hope youze doin’ ok.

  80. Anonymous

    I think it is vital to understand that Mahaney is supported, touted, praised, extolled, etc by Al Mohler. This Louisville church and the SGM move would never have occurred without his support. In fact, Mohler appears to be giving almost  fawning support for Mahaney. Mohler considers Mahaney to be an exemplary leader and a dear friend.  Mohler ignored the myriad of reports of Mahaney’s excesses and went to bat for him in ap ublic way, totally ignoring the well documented issues.

    AOR and others like Carl Trueman declared him fit for ministry in spite of the deeply concerning troubles that have been reported over the years. Of course, all of them have connections to Mohler.

    What is wrong with this picture?Never forget that we predicted this scenario long before it occurred and even took some heat from people saying we were way off base. We weren’t.

    So, here is another TWW prediction. There is something more to this story. Mohler is not a fool and he is well read. So there is something else at play here and I do not believe it is the “gospel.”


  81. Freedom

    I love your name. It’s rather humorous that Mahaney and the other Calvinistas claim to be so “gospel” focused. Jesus made a big deal about not offering the rich and powerful the best seat at the table. Mahaney and many other groups focus on the well to do, ostensibly to support their ministry. Ed Young Jr, no Calvinista he, did the same thing. Yet their ministry seem to be about getting more and more churches in well off areas. 

    You know what I think? This is precisely the method that Mohler and the NAMB are going to imitate but I could be wrong. We’ll see.

    Someday, i hope a few of these Noe-Cals will imitate Jesus and seek those who have little to give. I think many of these guys might look at fishermen, prostitutes. etc as a drain on their resources.

  82. Former CLC’er

    You have made the first steps to having a heart by putting the “Former” in your name. It is very hard to accept that an organization that meant so much to you at one time is not what you thought it was. And you had the guts to accept reality, something that many of your former church members have been unable to do. You are very strong and I bet that you will lead a rich Christian life because you “get it.” Bravo!


  83. Hello, been a lurker for awhile, but this post has flushed me out 🙂 I am extremely saddened to see that SGM has come to Louisville. We moved here 16 years ago, and it is the most spiritually dark place I have ever lived. Having lived previously in the “bible belt” of northwest FL, and lower Alabama, I can categorically state that Louisville by no means falls into that category.

    I noticed that Mahaney said that “God has blessed Louisville with numerous excellent churches”, but I have seen no evidence that this is the case. Not if by “excellent church” you mean the word rightly preached and the sacraments properly administered. There are two main groups that dominate here; Roman Catholics and “Fundagelicals” which happen to come in either a calvinista/baptist/yourbestlifenow flavor that is irrespective of denomination. Even the LCMS churches have bought into this! Prior to moving here, we had no problem finding a church home and our family attended regularly while our children were growing up. After all this time here, we still have no church home, plenty of spiritual scars, and we are doing everything we can to get out of here.

    Mahaney moving here only confirms my experience of the spiritual darkness that hangs over this city like a wet blanket.

  84. What troubles me the most about CJ Mahaney & Co is the way in which the use “the gospel” to package themselves as a commodity.

    The video about the church plant, as well as the other ones that were removed, weren’t about the gospel or reaching the lost. Others have observed that the self-satisfied appearance of the group provided proof that they are in it for themselves. Where we all got hustled was when we believed them to be authentic. They are using the gospel to promote themselves. And CJ has cleverly created the ruse of “humility” to cloak his selfish ambitions. We all know the Mahaney’s enjoy the spotlight and being celebrated. The Kauflin’s are about Image & Appearances. They know how to make it all sound and look good!

    So I think once believers see past the disturbling well-packaged “SGM Model” of doing church (subject to change like a chameleon) to see its all intended to promote people who like to proclaim they’re going all got “the Savior”

  85. “There is something more to this story. Mohler is not fool and he is well read. So there is something else at play here and I do not believe it’s the “gospel.”

    I totaly agree with you. Also, Mac Arthur is in bed with these guys and is well read himself. So I’d like to know what his agenda is. Anybody who supports Mohler and Mahaney are no different than them. They obviously all think alike. And, they obviously have disregarded the spirtual abuse that goes on at Mahaney’s churches. Yep, they all have an agenda.

  86. For some people in some kind of leadership in these so-called Christian organizations, “gospel” looks more and more like “way to get more money and/or power”.

  87. My house shall be a house of prayer?


        Thank you Eagle for your list of concerns pertaining to the SGM non-profit organization. 

    Yes, the PDI/SGM’s motives as an Christian organization has been suspect for sometime now. 

    However, the Internet has been a useful tool in expanding social awareness of the inherent problems that rifle the PDI/SGM organization. 

    Warnings and encouragement have been given to both active members, those who have sought exit, and to act as a consumers report type effort to dissuade others from making the same mistaking of lending their support in time, labor, or monetary enrichment to this organization that gives every indication of stifling, abusing it’s members, and stunting their spiritual growth.  

    Glad your are doing better. Your input this issue is greatly appreciated. 

    I am honored to add my prayers to the many others to grace your soul heaven-ward. May every success be yours.

    With kind regards,


  88. Fact or Fiction?

    C.J., tell us about your desire to plant a church in Louisville, Kentucky.

    C. J. : “The origins of our interest in church planting in Louisville date back some six years as we began to consider how strategic this city might be for Sovereign Grace Ministries. For several years, I, along with others, searched for a man who could church plant in this city, but we were unable to successfully recruit someone for this task. About two years ago, I had the unexpected thought that possibly the fruitless search was due to the fact that the Lord might want me to do this.”

    “I was aware of the 7 year plan long before Brent’s docs hit, so I’m confident that many SGM pastors were as well. Everything was moving according to schedule until Brent’s docs were released. Louisville was not a part of the plan.” JimP, SGM Refuge

  89. I think it’s interesting that Mahaney always seems to ride on someone else’s reputation. He rose due to the notoriety of Larry Tomzcack. And now he’s piggy-backing on the clout of Al Mohler.

    Seems to me, that Mahaney has mastered the game of “borrowed credibility”.

  90. Lauran,

    Welcome to TWW!   I really appreciate your description of the spiritual health (or lack thereof) of Louisville.  How scary!  Sounds like SGM will fit in well…


  91. Arce

    They have destroyed the meaning of the word gospel in order to “get” whatever it is they want.

  92. I really have no clue about SGM and Mahaney and so I definitely need to go back and read what is up with this ministry/man. Thanks for bringing these issues to light, Dee and Deb.

    PS I sent you both an email on what I believe would be an excellent topic for TWW.

  93. Thanks for the welcome, Deb! As I think about my previous post, I cringe a little at how negative I sounded. I ask myself quite a bit if it can really be *true* that no church exists here in Louisville with sound law/gospel teaching. I guess I should amend my former statement to say if it is here, I sure haven’t found it.

    Eagle, when you mentioned D.C. I started wondering if my experience might be more widely the norm than I previously thought…and that a “famine of the word” isn’t only here, but in many other cities all over the U.S. as well.

  94. Hi Lauren, I did not take your comment personally even though it made me very sad as a Louisvillian. I wondered, since you mentioned “sacraments”, if you are not looking for a more liturgical setting? I am not sure what you mean by “administering” the sacraments properly? If you could elaborate, maybe I could help?

    I have friends from the Shakespeare company who moved here from NYC a few years back who freak out about the religion situation here– coming from a more secular world. So I have seen both sides of this. What is interesting is how well the Catholics and Baptists have gotten along for decades! The joke here is that Southeast is the largest Catholic church and largest Baptist church in Louisville. :o) But it is typical mega church that exists as a high salary jobs program for a few.

    Finding a church is HORRIBLE. Now we have Mohler, Dever and their clones trying to tell us what are acceptable reasons for leaving a church. Hmmm. Wonder why that is the new hot topic?As if we do not have the Holy Spirit to guide us on that issue.

    I would look for a church with congregational polity where you can not only vote but SERVE. There are a few left in the authoritarian YRR Mohlerland, believe it or not. I do not look for total agreement on all doctrinal issues except the basics of salvic doctrine. After that, I look more for FREEDOM to serve others. Those two issues are big for me. Congregational polity and freedom to serve others.

  95. I only skimmed the comments to I apologize if these comments have already been made…

    I like the word “winsome” and I’m irritated it’s been ruined for many. It did not originally have a negative connotation. A winsome personality, for example, is one that is genuine and draws others. It should not have overtones of manipulation or insincerity.

    I thought it was ironic the section of CJ preaching and he made the statement several times that it didn’t matter who was standing there speaking, but it only mattered that the Bible was being taught. The Bible is the authority, apparently, not the person standing there.

    Unless you are a woman. Then it is no longer about the authority of the Scriptures but the fact that you have the wrong chromosome. The Bible is apparently only authoritative if it is read by a man. If a woman reads it, then all bets are off.


  96. Good grief. Where is the edit button? I should know better than to leave a comment as I’m heading out the door and don’t take the time to proofread! Sorry!

  97. @ Eagle:

    “I would say both organizations down play major Christian holidays and as a result Christianity. … When I attended the SGM this past Easter, I don’t recall the sermon or church really caring about the fact that it was Easter Sunday – the most important day of the Christian faith. Now some young girls were dressed for Easter, but I didn’t hear a long sermon about Easter. Maybe I’m mistaken on this point.”

    The PCA church I was in did this to some degree. We sang Easter hymns on Easter, but overall there wasn’t the proper “festal” flavor that is supposed to be there on holy days. It was closer to “just another Sunday” that happened to be Easter. Also, I don’t remember for sure, but I’m pretty sure the pastor didn’t stop his sermon series preaching through Book X to talk about the Resurrection. Ironically, they did better at creating that “festal” feeling at Christmas, which is actually less important theologically than Easter.

    This same pastor also forgot the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (a Sunday) and, in his forgetfulness, chose “Day of Judgment, Day of Wonders” as the opening hymn that day. I was HORRIFIED and I will NEVER forget that. As long as I live. It spoke volumes to how insular that congregation was.

  98. Just a side, a lot of the old time Young Life leaders I knew used the word winsome when referring to our witness for Christ. Not that it makes it any better…it sounds very outdated to my ears.

  99. Arce said and I agree:

    For some people in some kind of leadership in these so-called Christian organizations, “gospel” looks more and more like “way to get more money and/or power”.

    But why is this and how does it continue to be perpetuated, especially when so many are crying foul? Is it a simple matter of turning a blind eye and a deaf ear and assuming all the criticism SGM (specifically Mahaney) has been receiving is baseless, the product of gossips?

    Or perhaps it boils down to economics, as so many have observed. Is it about making money? Under the complementarian model, the man is to lead his family and be the bread winner, supporting his stay-home-wife and family. So, if the motivation is to make money and support the family (or in this case the Clan) who can blame them right? After all, isn’t that a noble ambition if that what it boils down to? You’d have to eat Humble Pie if for years you’ve banged-on about what it means to be a man and the leader of his family. Or if you’re Carolyn Mahaney, you’d have eat your words if you needed to leave the comfort of your house and start bringing home a paycheck. Heavens to Betsy (Ricucci) if any of the daughters did anything else other than “work” at home! Their whole “gospel” is built upon the “biblical roles” they must, by all means, adhere to!

    CJ is obviously an ambitious man. But let’s watch him now since he’s stated he believes he must return to his “true calling” of being a “pastor”. But can anyone see the restless CJ Mahaney finding peace and contentment in the performance of duties that are typical of a pastor? Has he ever? No, he has always yearned for and sought after a larger life, one that is not characterized by dependency or servitude. It’s been a neat trick of his to hide his ambitions behind the finished work of Christ, calling others to follow him as he follows Christ. But therein lies what offends people. Because to serve Christ must necessarily mean “whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” He is comfortable telling others to be humble and submissive, to follow his leadership, to listen to him preach as he stands there elevated above others on his stage. The decreprancy between his preaching and his ambition is miles wide. He’s persuasive as long as you believe his intentions are noble and his affections pure. When the hallucinogens from the audio and the visuals wear off and you stop listening to all his declarations of what he wants you to believe about him (he’s humble) and what he wants you to believe about yourself (you’re proud), that’s when the effects of the kool-aid wear off and you eventually see you were caught up in a cult.

    Oh CJ Mahaney likes the freedom and independence your money has afforded him. And as he attempts to maintain his Larger-Than-Your-Life (that involves delegating the duties of a Humble Life to others) I think we will see him grow increasingly frustrated since his glamor is gone. A man like that is ripe for an affair with a young woman who can boost his ego, if you ask me. Better keep an eye on him Carolyn! Oh that’s right – you always do!

  100. Hi Anon 1, didn’t realize there were any other Louisville folks commenting here! I’m thankful you weren’t personally offended by my comment, just relating my own personal wilderness story since moving here. You are spot-on regarding the ex-catholic/baptist flavor of SECC. I actually live in the shadow of the place.

    You are right about my liturgical leanings (of a Lutheran bent), which definitely limit my choices here. I know there is no such thing as a “perfect” church, and beggars can’t be choosers. I guess I am struggling with what to compromise on, but what it basically boils down to is a worship service where weekly: it is acknowledged that you’re a sinner, that Jesus forgives Christians too, and the Lord’s Supper is administered. No 8 steps to the victorious Christian life, no more sermons that harangue you with moralistic admonitions to “do” better.

    Is that too picky? 😉

  101. Lauran, I live in South Alabama not too far from Panama city. What part of West Florida/South Ala did you live?

  102. @ Eagle:

    You keep mentioning “blood atonement” as a concept in Mormon theology. I had to get a Mormon hymnal for my Brigham Young organ certification course and I was paging through it, and one of the hymns said “earth must atone for the blood of that man [Joseph Smith].” What is their deal here?

  103. Hi, Lauran.

    I understand how you feel. I’m wondering about the factor of “culture” — could it be that the church cultures are different from what you’re used to? (so not so much a matter darkness as of different window dressing).

    Not to downplay the fact that cultural differences in church are challenging. I tried every church in my town and couldn’t stomach any of them. Not that they were dark places — it’s just that their ways grated on my priorities and personal taste (but not on what is true and good).

  104. Eagle – Incredible that he was murdered for adultery of all things!

    I can’t count how many wives Joseph Smith on my fingers…and also my toes!

  105. Wikipedia reports concerning Brigham Young’s marriages: “Of his 55 wives, 21 had never been married before; 16 were widows; six were divorced; six had living husbands; and the marital status of six others are unknown.”

    I guess they had to draw the line somewhere Eagle! On Mr. Anderson’s throat! Wonder who married the step-daughter afterwards? Quite possibly Brigham Young! 😛

  106. Hi Robin. We lived in Fort Walton Beach, then on to Montgomery, AL.

    Hi to you too, Elastigirl. Good question about the cultures being different. In thinking about it, there are some differences in that people here are in certain churches because their families have always been there, or because their particular heritage is rooted in that denomination (ie; German Lutherans). Most people who live in Louisville have always lived here. Not a lot of transient population. This was not the case in places I lived before where there was a large military community and a lot of people who are away from their families. I’m sure that made it easier for congregations to bond more as family when you are away from your own extended family.

    So, the reason I say L’ville is so dark spiritually has to do with more than just cultural factors within churches. We have two large seminaries here; the mainline PCUSA, and Al Mohler’s SBTS. I also don’t want to leave out the very large coterie of Episcopalians. This convergence of borderline apostate denominations on one end and militant, judgmental calvinista’s on the other create (I think) the perfect environment for major spiritual warfare. I realize this is only one battlefield, not the war, but we are currently not winning this one in this city.

  107. @ Lauran:

    Per “borderline apostate” denominations – most of the more liberal denominations you’re thinking of (ELCA, PCUSA, UCC, etc.) are very large church bodies that have a lot of variation from congregation to congregation, not to mention not every person in the pews adheres to the official denominational position. So I personally would be a bit more careful before swinging the word “apostate” around (though to your credit you did say “borderline” apostate).

  108. @ Eagle:

    So we’re supposed to love our neighbor by…killing them! Now the Bible MAKES SENSE.

    Seriously, though, what does that line in the hymn mean, then? “Earth must atone for the blood of that man”… Is there a plan to rise up and kill all the non-Mormons on earth to “atone” for the fact that they “murdered” Joey? Or is the physical earth going to be “killed” in the apocalypse and thus “atone” for Joey’s death? I’ve reprinted the context below.

    Hymn #27 (“Praise to the Man”), 4th verse:
    Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
    Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
    Wake up the world for the conflict of justice.
    Millions shall know ‘Brother Joseph’ again.
    Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
    Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
    Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
    Death cannot conquer the hero again.

  109. @Hester

    Point taken. To be clear, I am referring to the denominations’ official pronouncements on core doctrines that have “evolved” with full acknowledgement that individual congregations can and do disagree with the powers that be, and those that do maintain the core beliefs of the Christian faith are much needed places of refuge where Christ is present.

  110. Young’s idea of “blood atonement” by the sinner can’t even be said to be rooted in the OT, since an adulterer could be stoned to death in the OT but this was for punishment, not for his/her atonement. And of course it completely misses the understanding of Christ’s full atonement.

    Re Episcopalianism and “borderline apostasy” I have some sympathy, speaking as an Anglican myself. Paradoxically though there is no agreed canon of belief for the sort of liberal theology that has recently caused problems for Anglicanism/Episcopalianism, so two liberals may have three different opinions.

    Having said that, I am almost as concerned with the influx of neo-Calvinista ideas into Anglicanism in the UK and Oz, partly because these do have a fixed canon (the Scriptures, as understood by them) and a number of recognised leaders. By contrast, other than voting for things like gay marriage, the liberals are a pretty disorganised lot as far as I can see.

    I should also point out that within the older Reformed tradition of Sydney, theistic evolution probably wouldn’t raise many eyebrows, as it might with the US neo-Calvinists.

  111. You’re definitely right about theistic evolution here in Sydney, Kolya. I haven’t encountered real science versus religion debates in Anglican circles here, and acceptance of evolution is very very normal.

  112. I realize that this is a dormant thread. I thought that TWW readers would want to be aware of the article.

  113. Brian D

    I will move the link over to the current thread. We will continue to follow SGM. That was quite an article.

  114. BrianD

    I actually put it at the top of TWW in our new little widget area. It should get some views from up there. Thanks for sending it on.

  115. A quick admin note.

    WordPress is throwing a mild hissy fit behind the scenes just now and we can’t free up any comments held for moderation. So if a comment gets moderated it might be a while before we can free it up. We’re working on it.

  116. From the article, linked to at the top of TWW, I found this lovely comment from Mahaney, in reference to Detwiler: “Of Detwiler, Mahaney said: “He was a friend, and I pray God has mercy on him.”

    Because those who disagree with Mahaney, or point out his faults, need God’s mercy.

  117. No More Perfect, I noticed that, too. It’s a very childish remark, really, like a seven year old complaining about their ex-best friend.

  118. In reflecting on my personal experience with Acts 29, and based on what I’ve read from many of you all about Mars Hill and SGM, a quote comes to mind, from my ethics professor at seminary:

    “One of the biggest problems among Christians is a major failure to consider consequences. We zero in on the data, on the issue, and we forget that real, actual human beings are involved. We say, ‘My intentions were good. Sorry if you got destroyed in the process.’ We really hurt our witness when we act like, or believe, that consequences don’t matter.”

    This is a great distillation, in my opinion, of some of the core problems among Calvinistas, and one of the reasons why so they are so often seen as prideful and arrogant. “Sin is terrible, and sanctification is going to hurt!” I agree that sin is terrible, and that sanctification is not comfortable, but that’s not an excuse for a pastor to throw empathy in the dumpster! It’s like a dentist saying, “This root canal is going to hurt, so there’s really no point in me being gentle or using anesthetic. I’m just going to go in and rip and dig!”

    Anyone familiar with Neuthetic Counseling (Jay E. Adams)? My counseling professor at seminary spoke very negatively of it, and he has both a PsyD. and MDiv. Every time I hear about these sorts of shenanigans (Mars Hill, SGM), I think – they have a “neuthetic” approach to life, not just counseling! How sad.

  119. Mr. H – I think Nouthetic might work if you yourself are in sin and then Biblical principles are applied to help you process through your own sin into repentance; however, where it fails is in abuse. My understanding is that every problem is based on sin and they try to find your part of the sin and apply Bible to “fix” it. In other words, they may be questioned as to what part they played into the abuse – or how they responded to the abuse. This is like telling a girl she was raped because her skirt was too short. Victims of abuse don’t need to fix their “sin problem”. It isn’t their problem, but the abuser’s problem (read: CRIME!). Victims need love and compassion. They need to know there was nothing they did to bring on abuse. So if a victim goes to a Nouthetic counselor, it feels revictimizing.

    Regarding the article: It was a pretty good article, but one thing notably missing was the sex abuse cases.

  120. Hi Julie Anne,

    The key problem with a Nouthetic approach is that is explicitly denies the legitimacy of modern psychological research and skills. I agree that sometimes people need to be confronted in their sin, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. “Applying biblical principles to help process sin and repentance” can/should be a part of legitimate counseling and therapy for believers. However, “Applying biblical principles to help process sin and repentance” is not a good working definition of the Nouthetic method. Nouthetic has a lot more presuppositions, assumptions, and baggage involved. Trained and experienced mental health professionals (PsyD and PhD) will tell you that there are major problems with the nouthetic approach.

    I definitely agree with you that, all to often, in nouthetic counseling the predominant tendency is for any presenting issue to be interpreted as “a sin issue.” As a result, the “counseling” turns into a “You have a problem, therefore you are in sin, therefore it’s just a matter of digging and dredging through your heart and past experiences and finding the sin!” It’s like a “witchhunt” for sin. People are taught and trained to constantly suspect themselves if they’re feeling sad/wronged/hurt. The result is a decrease in confidence, boldness, and self-efficacy, as well as a growth in insecurity, fear, self-hate, and in worst-case scenarios, learned helplessness.

    This is why I see a nouthetic approach playing into the Mars Hill/Acts 29/SGM/Calvinista issues. Concerned with how the church is being run? You’re probably sinning. Somehow. Think a pastor might not be making good decisions? You’re definitely sinning. Think a pastor might not be qualified? You are probably not saved.

    I haven’t done any research, but I would be willing to bet a month’s paycheck that Mars Hill and/or SGM recommends or explicitly uses Jay Adams’ nouthetic approach.

  121. Nouthetic counseling is just about always based in peering into one’s soul and finding the sin. Depression is considered a sin. Heck, anything can be considered a sin. I can find sin in my life in 2 minutes of thinking. However, true psych counseling understands that there are dysfunctions of the mind which can cause pain.

    Just as sin caused the world to go awry and now we have cancer, heart disease, etc, the same goes for the functioning of our mind. We would never say to a cancer victim “you sin caused this.” We would treat the cancer. The same goes for mental health issues.

    I am NOT a proponent in any shape or form of nouthetic counseling.

  122. JMJ over at Christian Monist has mentioned Nouthetic Counseling many times. He has NOTHING GOOD to say about it.

  123. Mr. H – – You are correct about SGM having connections with Peacemakers, (Ken Sande), which use the Jay Adam’s teachings on counseling. I haven’t researched enough on Mars Hill to respond to that, but clearly his methods match what I have read/heard in SGM circles.

    I have been in contact with a few people personally affected by SGM cases: one involving a sex abuse case, another was a personal friend whom I did not know attended a SGM. She recognized me from my lawsuit story which was broadcast on the East coast and contacted me. She told me her personal account of what she saw in her SGM church regarding spiritual abuse and also mentioned a case involving the sex abuse of a friend’s child. There are more stories in my e-mails, but these two stories come to mind. BTW, these personal accounts sent to me were not from the same SGM church. There seems to be a systematic problem of abuse with leaders who seem to rather cover up issues rather than deal with abuse issues appropriately.

    As I have seen in many of these types of churches, the perpetrator is protected and the victim is abandoned emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. Don’t get me going . . . . .

  124. The irony of the nouthetic approach to leadership is that the leader never seems to use it, apparently. It might be helpful for a leader struggling with pride and arrogance (Mahaney? Driscoll?) to be forced to sit down, quite blame-shifting, and trace the symptoms to their root causes.

  125. Back to the topic at hand – just curious . . . are Mahaney and the SGM group claiming that their move to Kentucky is completely unrelated to any past controversy? In all the material I have read, Mahaney’s quotes seem to imply that they are just some good ‘ole boys out for one more church plant hurrah. Sort of like that film a few years back, Old Dogs, with Travolta and co. But with fewer leather chaps and biker paraphernalia.

  126.  Veno?, vidi-vici * : Giving the spirit the boot, strapping on a fowl smelling calvinism?


        In 1997, the then president of People of Destiny International, Reverend Charles Joseph Mahaney gave co-founder Reverend Larry Tomczak, the boot under rather “acrimonious” circumstances. Apparently under the Capitol Hill Church Senior pastor’s? mentoring and tutorlidge, C.J. Mahaney quietly moves it’s submissive board to adopt a type of progressive (neo- ?) Calvinist (Reformed) theology. 

    “Slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us” ?

        Progressively, and without telling anyone, preaching from the group of churches’ pulpits morph into a kind of night mare on Muncaster Mill Road, with it’s sudden and progressive emphasis on humility, personal sin, as apposed to the encouragement towards personal holiness, in the lives of those who worship at PDI/SGM churches.  Out with the used baptism water goes spirit lead preaching, worship, prophesy, etc. and in comes a practice that later would be identified as sin-sniffing, the encouragement of tattling on ones fellow members, a goose-step trance like monkey see monkey do devotion. (to be fair, much of this goose-step social behavior was already evidenced  in this organization’s places of worship, and care groups as early as 1989).

        RECAP: So we have a “family” of churches already exhibiting group-think behavioral top-down control- do as I say mentality , progressively (un-announced) strapping on the five points of TULIP, now identified as the embodiment of Calvinism. 

        Striping away personal identity, self-esteem, self-reliance, favored outside associated relationships, family, etc. (isolation) making group identity paramount, and one’s association with it of primary importance.To go against the group was to be (Peter-Sized?) ostracized.  Since now the group was all you had, you dare not run contra to the group’s cult-like? wishes. To do so was to face the nefarious “group shunning”. (or worse yet following you with a “report” to the next church door you were fortunate to enter)?

    Does this sound like a “church” organization you would like to associate with?

    It gets better? (read the following) :

        In 2011, a former Sovereign Grace board member, Reverend Brent Detwiler’s  private presentation documentation of internal church deliberations accusing Reverend Charles Joseph Mahaney of blackmail of a co-founder, prideful and abusive leadership, among other things, is released by an unknown source (apparently not directly attributed to its author) to the Internet. Reverend Mahaney’s next move is telling, (after release of the material, Reverend Mahaney goes on an unexpected leave for several months) as he takes as his aid and comfort under the wings of the very person who hand apparently started this progressive trek to abusive calvinism? in the first place, the Right Reverend Mark Dever?

    It gets better? :

        Now add to this the recent SGM corporate office move to Lewisville, Kentucky  (which  is telling in it’s own right with placement in close proximity to Doctor Albert Mohler? president of an SBC Seminary, and the seminary a 100 k SGM gift recipient). The plot thickens?

    It gets better? :

        Are we possibly looking at a dualistic Calvinistic control arm of Acts 29? and the SGM? being used to invade the SBC?, and possibly thorwarding some of Doctor Page Patterson’s? efforts at control of the SBC itself? Is the plan to slowly and silently morph the Southern Baptist Convention? into some type of Calvinistic stronghold?

    It gets better?

    Is this all about control? Controlling the SBC?, may the best man win?

    You decide.

    Greeted with beamed smiles Reverend C.J. Mahaney preaches during Sovereign Grace Church’s first worship service September 30th. at Christian Academy:  

    “And so Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville begins, ….We are just a group of primarily old guys attempting to church-plant one more time before we die in order to serve the next generation with the gospel.”

    Ate you kidding?

    Church leaders wanting ‘to serve the next generation with the gospel.’ ?

    God help us all!


     * “Veno, vidi, vici ” i.e. “for sale, I saw, I conquered”. reference: JM Latin English Dictionary.

  127. CJ got the okay to return back to ministry from Ambassadors of Reconciliation after they reviewed the situation at the request of SGM pastors. SGM has ties with AofR, so many (including me) think the ruling was biased. After the ruling, CJ assumed his position as head of SGM and then moved the SGM headquarters (including his relatives who are SGM pastors) to Louisville.

    Keep in mind, when CJ originally took his leave of absence for personal reflection on pride, sin of deceit, etc, he went to Mark Dever’s church. If any SGM pastor took a leave of absence under similar circumstances under CJ’s watch, they would have been forced to remain at their own SGM church under church accountability, but CJ gets to make his own rules, got to leave his home church, and take refuge at his friend, Mark Dever’s church. Cuz he’s special.

  128. Mr. H,

    I have experienced the Nouthetic approach to counseling indirectly a couple of times. First was a friend of my husband’s who became a pastor (he’s not one now). Where ever it was he went for his pastoral studies, Nouthetic counseling was taught. It changed his personality and for the worst. We saw them once while they were in the area and the topic of psychology came up somehow or other. I had a friend at that time whose husband had been put on psych med for a mental disorder he had and he became a different man because of it. They were doing very well with him on meds. This did not matter in the least to our Nouthetic friend because pysch meds are ALWAYS wrong. There was no discussion just a dogmatic statement they are wrong. Never mind they work. He then went on to rebuke and admonish his kids, repeatedly, for who knows what. Not the same easy going guy we knew before. Incidentally, he and his wife are now divorced because he cheated on her and left her.

    The second encounter I had was in a book by Martha Peace called The Excellent Wife or something like that. She was trained in Nouthetic counseling at Master’s college. Throughout the book she would make rebukeful statements to her readers, as though there was ipso facto a basis for the accusation. She said things like, we have everything we need to do God’s will in Christ, therefore we are without excuse. So she used this blessed promise of provision to launch an accusation that her reader was making some sort of excuse for not being obedient. Later she said God is in control of everything whether we like it or not. So once again a doctrine that should be to our comfort and blessing is used to assume guilt of rebellion. She did this all the way through the book. If she could have used honey, she used vinegar instead. It was like she went out of her way to make up excuses to rebuke her readers, like she had some sort of quota or something. I ended up tossing the book because I could not get past her rebukeful tone. I have no idea whether I might have agreed with her teaching or not because of the tone she used.

    That’s not a whole lot of experience, but it is a 100% fail rate for me.

    I found an article once on Nouthetic and why it is unbiblical. I don’t know anything about this guy besides this article (and another one he wrote on Bill Gothard) but I thought this article was very good.

  129. Dee, Thanks for the encouragement. It’s been years since I left CLC and have moved onto various other churches. Funny how some of the things still affect me, though, since it was the first church I attended as an adult and was there for many years. Having another crazy experience with a narcissistic pastor didn’t help either, and unfortunately has made me very skeptical and unable to hear certain terminology or see certain things in churches without cringing.

  130. Eagle – Let’s see, McLean Bible (actually my best experience due to some awesome friends I made there), Frederick Christian Fellowship, and Derwood Bible. Then another that was a church plant and fell apart, that I’d rather not say. Presently pretty happy at Seneca Creek. No drama and fairly intellectual and pretty non-narcissistic low-key pastor.

  131. “SGM Calvinestas Once Again Got You Under Their Skin?”

    HowDee YaAll,

    And so da “Royal” saga of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville begins, huh?

    “We are just a group of primarily old guys attempting to church-plant one more time before we die in order to serve the next generation with the gospel.”?!?

    “We who R aboutz ta die… R about to defraud you, once again?”

    Still gotz da ole zing, huh?


    C.J. ‘s and hiz calvinesta muppeteers “”got you under their skin?””


    (I’ze rather have you, Jesus…SGM makes ma skin crawl…Eu!)

    hum, hum,hum…  ♫♫♫  “Jesus loves me this I know…”




  132. and unfortunately has made me very skeptical and unable to hear certain terminology or see certain things in churches without cringing.


    I think I got a tiny taste of what that must be like this past summer. We had a visiting pastor one Sunday and I asked him how he was doing. He said, “better than I deserve.” I’ve never set foot in a SGM church. I’ve only read about it. Nevertheless I almost jumped out of my skin.

  133. Mr H

    We predicted this move a couple of years back. Deb was the one who uncovered the massive amounts of money CJ was donating to SBTS. Mahaney is a chameleon who quickly changes to meet the situation.

    Prediction: Pastor’s college will merge with SBTS as some sort of adjunct program. Any sort of overt charismatic manifestation will be nixed.

    However, problems will arise. Mahaney is used to being top dog. I cannot wait to see what happens over time with the guys at SBTS.

    I still want to know why Mohler is playing this “Mahaney rehab” game. Something is going on under the radar.

  134. “”Rama, Lama, Sovereign Ding-Dong?””

    Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh, oh-oh
    I got a new church, named her Rama, Lama, Sovereign-Ding-Dong!
    She’s everything to me, Sovereign-shoo-ba doo- Rama-lama-ding-dong (Ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh)
    I’ll never set her free, oh she’s mine, all mi-ine!

    Ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh

    Yeah, I got a new church, named her Rama, Lama, Sovereign-Ding-Dong!
    She’s so kind to me, Sovereign-Rama-lama-lama, lama-lama-ding-dong…
    Oh, they just won’t believe, that she’s mine, all mi-ine!


    I love her, love her, love her so-o
    That I’ll never, never let her go
    You may be sure that she’s mine, all mi-ine (she’s mine)
    She’s mine, all of the time (ti-i-i-ime)


    hum, hum,hum…  ♫♫♫  “Rama Lama Lama, “Sovereign Ding Dong…



    Songwriter: George Jones, Jr.
    Released and performed in Campbell, OH, by The Edsels © 1959; (parody adaptation, copyright infringement unintended.)

  135. Anonymous –

    Thanks for linking to that article. I found it helpful. I am not in the Adams or Powlison camp. I am somewhere in between and thankful for what psychiatry has/is doing to help the mentally ill.

  136. @Eagle – I agree that MBC isn’t perfect. But it was where I learned that Christians could disagree with each other, that I actually had some good things about me besides sin, and that leaders are not god. I did attend Frontline and I saw some cliquish things there.

    As for NCC, I have a friend I respect who goes there and tend to agree with you. My current church does a lot of outreach and seems more inclusive than others, which is good.

  137. You know what I’d like to see? CJ Mahaney in a debate. He has a clear position, right? He strongly believes his position is correct theologically, right? He has written books so he should be articulate enough, right?

    I think he would run away from a debate as fast as he ran away from Gaithersburg.


  138. Has SGM been self-rendered ridiculous?


    ‘The wisest and the best of men—nay, the wisest and best of their actions—may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.’   Darcy, in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

    Life is certainly no joke, but SGM may be.

    Is Reverend Charles Mahaney ‘the wisest and the best of men’ ? Have the wisest and best of his actions been self- rendered as ridiculous? Has the first objective view of SGM become a joke, a very byword,  because of C.J. Mahaney’s very pride? (i.e. are C. J. Mahaney’s wounds self-inflected?) The overwhelming growing  body of evidence would seem to support such a position.

    Is Reverend Mahaney running from his own very shadow?  Me thinks he is going to need more than a bit of AoR whitewash, and Al Mohler’s Southern fried pixie dust to sanitize the situation.

    Should Sovereign Grace Ministries be avoided with extreme  prejudice? Possibly.

    Jane Austen, I think would approve.

    Something to consider?


  139. Ironclad, it seems people would liken Mahaney more to Mr. Collins than Mr. Darcy here, or possibly Collins’ patroness.

  140. Just read this review over at The Gospel Coalition:

    So many things wrong with the author’s approach. She takes a typical Calvinista approach to dealing with “negative emotions” – live a life of self-suspicion and condemnation and always assume that anytime you feel bad, it’s your own fault!

    What does this have to go with this article, you may ask?

    As I was reading the review, I felt myself growing increasingly angry (perhaps due to my own sin . . .) and then I realized that the reviewer is a member of Sovereign Grace in Kentucky and her husband is attending The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Then it all started to make sense.

  141. EDIT to the above post:

    Just realized that the reviewer is actually Nicole Whitacre, whose married name threw me off. Her maiden name is Mahaney. She is C.J.’s daughter.

  142. GI must have my share in the conversation! – Lady Catherine

    Mahaney is up to his old tricks. I think his main focus will be on putting as many new SGM franchises out there as soon as possible. No doubt he’s milling over what to rename the organization again everyday. But in this information age, despite all his and wife’s Carolyn’s pleas to avoid the ‘slander’ of the internet, he’s been exposed and he won’t be able to change his identity nearly as easily this time. I swear, the guy still operates like a drug dealer. He’s a pusher, that’s for sure. I don’t think he gives a second thought to what the effect of his “product” has on others. I really don’t. I mean look at what his response has been so far. Do you see evidence that he cares? I think he’s driven to keep selling his merchandise and if it doesn’t work out for you then tough titties. Find another church. But there’s the rub. His product is a cheap imitation. Remember the old margarine commercial? “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” It’s not good to tinker with God’s people Mr. Margarine, err Mahaney.

    I think its hard to believe how bad it really is when you look at their smiling faces and hipster packaging. But look at the evidence. And when you think about how CJ literally blackmailed Larry to gain control of the whole deal, do you honestly think he did that while functioning under the control of the Spirit of God, for the advancement of the Kingdom!? I was in the meeting when CJ made it seem like Larry’s departure was all about Larry having been the bad guy: “I would rather DIE than do what Larry has done!” The man, CJ, will stop at NOTHING.

    Has anyone else thought of this? If you were Bob Kauflin, why would you be giving CJ such easy access to your home? None of he videos shot appeared to have been at the Mahaney residence. Would you put it past CJ to bug someone’s home? I’m sure he’s watching Kauflin like a hawk. If he splits off then he’s really doomed. But hey, birds of a feather flock together. And have you listened to Bob Kauflin’s music that he composes? B O R I N G and uninspired! Man, that guy is depressing! Not to mention arrogant. Whatever. They’ve all painted themselves into a corner, but hey! Let’s focus on it being Martha Stewart paint!

  143. Mr H

    We are reading the same things! I am thinking about a post on it. from the article we learn two points

    1. The sins (or should I say the sin sniffing) of the fathers are visited upon the children.
    2. The continued effort to rehab of the Mahaney name is apparent.

  144. I read that book review by Nicole (Mahaney) Whitacre. She says, “The book’s deficient view of sin flows from an inadequate understanding of God’s character.” I think Nicole is the one who has an inadequate understanding of God’s character. He’s not the angry vengeful being she thinks he is. I really feel sorry for her.

  145. Yikes! I just read the book review and it is scary! When I was at CLC, I remember wondering how the focus on sin from both their parents was going to affect the Mahaney girls. Well, now we know!

    I also remember thinking, in spite of the craziness I had to deal with growing up in my own family, that I was glad I wasn’t raised at CLC!

  146. Former CLC
    Deb is doing a post on this on Wednesday. You might find a couple of our speculations of interest. It has to do with the Mohler apologetic approach to all things Mahaney.

  147. Hmm Jerry Sandusky issues a statement in which he reveals he has no feelings of remorse and thinks HE’S been hurt.

    Odd that Pastor/Athlete CJ Mahaney, who loves to comment on sports stories and their larger implications, has remained oddly quiet about the Jerry Sandusky/PSU scandal.

    Guess its tough to blog about from the cheapseats when one is so busy inventing their own false statements about how good and merciful God had been to them, how God is using them to advance His gospel, how they hope God is merciful to old friends who have opposed them, and how they think any current opposition to their divinely inspired plan (which they’ve lied about to make it seem divinely inspired) comes from Satan.

    Yup. Pretty much sounds like a guy who has no feelings of remorse and now thinks people are out to hurt him. Just one big, fat Satanic conspiracy.

    “I know how you feel CJ. It’s tough when you’re a man of such great importance that it ends up all these people come out with amazingly similar stories of abuse that they’ve cooked up just to accuse you. It’s hard to be so righteous. You just have to ignore the critics.” J. Sandusky, convicted criminal

  148. Evie

     I have heard rumors that something may be up with some of the pedophile situations. Apparently someone is thinking about going public.  Have you heard anything?

  149. I haven’t heard anything about that Dee. And while I’m aware of the stories where SGM pastors sought to cover up stories of sexual abuse and attempted to control events from within apart from the authorities, I was mainly thinking of the similarity between Sandusky’s and CJ’s attitudes and dispositions. Of course Sandusky has been convicted for his crimes and is in prison, maintaining his innocence. I wasn’t suggesting CJ is a pedophile, rather that he is also the man involved in so many stories where people have been victimized in various ways and like Sandusky, CJ seems to think his accusers and critics are all out to get him for no real reason. The public is smart enough to know Sandusky is a total creeper and a liar. And I think the public is also smart enough to recognize that Mahaney is not the victim of actual persecution. But both men are playing the victim!

  150. I read the review and it followed the teachings of the Calvinista’s, CJ in particular to a tee; determine your sin then look to the cross again and again (I am thankful for the cross). Sanctification does not come by reminding ourselves over and over about the work of Christ on the cross. We are to “do” what we have been called to do with the help of the Holy Spirit. We will make mistakes, but does God continue to look at us as though we need to be justified and need a Savior YET again? Christians are already justified by God’s grace and don’t need to be washed again. We need to work out (verb phrase) our sanctification. For as much as they quote Paul, they sure do pick and choose.

  151. Notable Absence?


        I presently have significant concerns about Sovereign Grace Ministries, Reverend  Charles Mahaney —chief among those concerns, due to the apparently glaring lack and absence of integrity, and what appears to be a willful manipulative distortion of Christ’s gospel for self-interest.   (Also there is the measure of an inadequate understanding of what true character is , in particular his predilection towards dishonesty.)

    In Matt 5:13–16, we find in these passages, Jesus comparing his followers to salt and light, elements commonly used as metaphors in antiquity. His point in this is to show that disciples who fail to live a kingdom lifestyle (Matt 6:33- seek first?-) are akin to something tasteless or devoid of light—undesirable, and of no value. 

    Have Reverend Charles Mahaney’s actions breached this barrier?  Has his twilight ministry years become tasteless , and  devoid of any lasting spiritual value? Has he become notable for his spoiled fruit? (Instead of picking it, is it more desirable to let it die on the tree that produced it?) 

    Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, is the true manna from heaven; is Reverend Charles Mahaney offering simply a poor substitution, a cheap imitation? Is this simply a case of casting cheap imitation pearls before believers?

    You  decide.

    Sovereign Grace Ministry Churches may want to consider this: letting your light so shine before others in order that they may see your good works, and in order that they may glorify the God who is responsible for sending His Son from heaven, giving the very best of Himself, that we might reflect that very image of Him.