“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” George Washington link
When partiality blurs our ability to do the right thing
All of us want to come to the defense of those who we consider friends. We also want to give our particular friends or colleagues the benefit of the doubt because we believe that they are *really good guys.* Sadly, when our partisanship allow us to defend the indefensible, it can cause harm to the church.
There are many reasons for our inability to identify our biases towards others.
- We really like them.
- They compliment us and talk about us positively to others we admire.
- We get something out of the friendship like notoriety, access to other celebrities, access to money making ventures, access to better jobs, etc.
- They have given us money and resources to help our ministry.
- If we admit that we were wrong, we will look stupid.
- They believe exactly what we believe and help us to stand against all of the *others* out there who do not.
- We say we believe in sin but really do not believe our friends can be guilty of serious sin.
All of this is understandable until we find out that our best buddy has been accused of doing some really, really bad like children abuse, covering up child sex abuse in the church, having multiple affairs, etc. It is one’s response to revelations like these that really distinguishes the depth of one’s character.
The child sex abuse scandal at Sovereign Grace Ministries,their leader, CJ Mahaney and their friends that stood by them at The Gospel Coalition.
If you are not aware of this story, the news media called this the greatest evangelical child sex abuse scandal in the US. You can read about this at the Washingtonian: The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries. It is absolutely vital to understand that the lawsuit was not thrown out of court based on meritless allegations. It was thrown out of court due to the statute of limitations. Many states are in the process (or have already completed the process) of extending the statute of limitations based on the understanding that many children do not report their abuse until they become adults.
Sadly, many members of The Gospel Coalition and other groups like 9 Marks have come to the defense of the man who presided over this disaster, CJ Mahaney. This post will focus on a few of them who now seem to be terribly concerned about sex abuse.
My hope was that things might be changing with Tim Challies.
Tim Challies was (and maybe still is) a big supporter of CJ Mahaney. You can read one of his posts on the matter at Thinking Biblically About C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Challies gave one the funniest excuses ever for not talking about the Mahaney situation. It wouldn’t be good time management! I guess learning about children being sexually abused is just too time consuming…
For this reason I have deliberately avoided learning too much. I have had to question my motives, especially since I have repeatedly been on the receiving end of scathing criticism for not using my platform to speak out against Mahaney. I have chosen to read the news stories, to understand the basic facts, but conscience compels me to stop there. To do more may not be spiritually beneficial, it may not reflect good time management, and it may not be loving toward those who are involved.
Recently, perhaps discovering some margin in his schedule, Challies interviewed Boz Tchividjian on Protecting Children From Abuse: An Interview.
This was an important meeting since Challies is no doubt aware that Boz Tchividjian was critical of how the Sovereign Grace scandal was handled. When I read this, I wondered if Challies was having a change of heart.
Are the friends of CJ Mahaney being forced into saying something, anything, whatever, against child sex abuse because their simplistic statements of being *against child sex abuse* were rather thin on action; especially when they post such drivel as this: The Gospel Coalition Seems to Believe That It Is Hospitable to Share Your Home and Kids With a Dangerous Criminal?
Joe Carter believes the victims of Judge Roy Moore and Harvey Weinstein.
When I saw this tweet by Joe Carter today, I almost choked on my breakfast roll.
Just a few weeks before this, he posted the following at The Gospel Coalition (he is an editor): 4 Lessons for Christians from the Harvey Weinstein Scandal
Why do I find his posts startling? Joe Carter went after me on Twitter when I said I believed the victims of the Sovereign Grace Scandal. The Christian Post posted The Gospel Coalition, Christian Bloggers Spar Over Sovereign Grace Ministry, C.J. Mahaney on Twitter
In this exchange, Carter accused Zach Hoag of exploiting a tragedy (SGM) for publicity.
First, he accused Zach Hoag of exploiting this tragedy for publicity. Somehow, though, Carter is not guilty of exploiting this current tragedy for publicity? Go figure.
“Now how about we all agree to stop exploiting this tragedy for publicity. Sound good?” wrote Carter in response to Hoag’s question if he would be willing to “put your affiliations and cash flow aside to root out/denounce any coverup among your friends & colleagues?”
Carter said that I shouldn’t say anything about SGM/Mahaney that hadn’t been proven in court. However, he did the same thing today regarding Roy Moore’s victims.
Besides calling Julie Anne Smith of Spiritual Sounding Board and me “pathologically dishonest” (he must have taken one of those weekend “how to be a counselor” course from the nouthetic crowd), here is what else he said about me.
Hoag was not the only individual with whom Carter clashed. Dee Parsons, who runs the watchdog blog Warburg Watch, which monitors “church conflict, spiritual abuse, and hyper-authoritarian polity,” also sparred with him, seemingly from his conclusions that she had assumed Mahaney had participated in the SGM’s sexual abuse cover-up, without those allegations being proven in court.
Yet, that is exactly what he did in his tweet today.(Posted above.) He said he believed the victims of Roy Moore but that has yet to be proven in court.
He then accused me of slander for believing the victims.
So, using his definition, isn’t he now guilty of slander?
After Parsons asked him to clarify what “slander” he was referring to, Carter responded “Have you not intimated that CJM was involved in a coverup of sexual abuse?” linking to a recent post on her site where a guest blogger claimed that Mahaney was guilty.
I attempted to school him on the legal definition of slander. So he then called me a gossip.
Using his definition, isn’t he now guilty of gossip?
Parsons defended herself, claiming that “everyone has a right to express their point of view. Also, I tend to believe the victims.”
“Slander/defamation is well defined as deliberately telling a lie in order to hurt another. I have never knowingly told a lie at TWW & have never said anything to deliberately hurt another. When I have been confronted with an obvious mistake, I have apologized and corrected it,” continued Parsons on Twitter.
Carter challenged Parsons, arguing that by publishing posts which argued that the civil lawsuit was true, she was still defaming Mahaney and other SGM leaders’ reputations.
“So accusing someone of covering up pedophilia does not hurt their reputation?” he asked. “So how is ‘I believe it, I can publicly repeat it’ not gossip? Is that the Christians standard now?”
Why is it gospelly for Carter to believe the victims and not gospelly for me to believe the victims?
I have come to the conclusion that, if a person is in Joe Carter’s inner circle and has contributed much to TGC and individuals, he is off limits. Obviously Roy Moore has not been initiated into the inner sanctum of TGC so he is out. Also, Harvey is a great target. He isn’t even a Christian.
Here are a few nuggets from Carter’s post on Harvey Weinstein.
According to Carter, Christians should not turn a blind eye to accusations of sexual abuse. I would imagine that TGC and their BFFs have had plenty of practice in this area.
Would you be willing to turn a blind eye to accusations of sexual assault and abuse if it might benefit you in some way, either directly or indirectly?
Of course not. Unlike the denizens of Hollywood, we Christians have stringent moral standards. As servants of Christ we recognize it is our duty to protect the powerless and vulnerable from harm.
…to call on all Christians to recommit to our values by refusing to support abusers in the future. It doesn’t take much courage; all it takes is for us to stop rationalizing our decision to ignore abuse, even when doing so benefits us either individually or collectively.
Too close to home, perhaps?
I don’t say that because I believe I’m a moral exemplar or because I’m particularly courageous. I’m neither. I say that because I’m the adopted child of a holy God. I say that because I can’t imagine standing before my King and Father and saying, “Sure, maybe I should have spoke up for those women, but you don’t understand, it was a really, really good job . . .”
No one should blame the victims who refused to confront him directly. Having already been victimized by the man they were under no obligation to risk suffering more abuse from him. But the people not directly victimized, who knew about the abuse and still did nothing, are all, in one way or another, morally culpable.
WE ARE OFTEN TOO QUICK TO RESTORE FAME AND POWER.
This is also the thinking of many Christians, especially celebrity pastors, who have abused the trust of the public and their congregations. Many of us were shocked when televangelist Jim Bakker, who served an eight-year prison term for fraud, returned to a broadcasting ministry nine years after getting out of jail. Today, we’re surprised if a scandalized pastor waits nine months before he returns to the pulpit and the spotlight.
Al Mohler did the same thing Joe Carter did by condemning *virtue signaling* in Hollywood.
TWW demonstrated a few years back that CJ Mahaney gave in excess of $200,000 to Al Molher’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. We wrote abut this in $$$ THE MAHANEY MONEY MACHINE $$$.
Mohler has been a ardent supported of Mahaney, even making a despicable joke about all the articles written about Mahaney on the internet. You can read about this at Al Mohler Extolls CJ Mahaney at T4G While Joking at the Expense of SGM Victims. Does Money Play a Role in the Relationship?
Mohler has pushed Mahaney at conferences, especially T4G 2016 and now at T4G 2018. To this watcher, it appears that $200,000 can buy you undying support.
One would think Mohler would be more careful about taking on the current rash of sex abuse allegations in the news given his own background. He could not help himself. The Harvey Weinstein thing was just too juicy. Go to his Briefing 10/16/17 and click on the third item Hollywood expels one of its own leading figures for the very misbehavior it sells in movies to listen.
He discussed the following situation. Harvey Weinstein Expelled From The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences. Here is the statement issued by the Academy.
“The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors met today to discuss the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and has voted well in excess of the required two-thirds majority to immediately expel him from the Academy. We do so not simply to separate ourselves from someone who does not merit the respect of his colleagues but also to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over. What’s at issue here is a deeply troubling problem that has no place in our society. The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”
Mohler condemned the *virtue signaling* in the statement. What is virtue signaling? I liked the Urban Dictionary’s definition.
- To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.
Fred: I see George has changed his profile picture to show his support for refugees.
Barbara: Has he donated money or time? Is he giving English lessons? Is he making a room available?
Fred: No, no, he’s just virtue signalling.
- Advocating a political or philosophical position, and/or taking up a public cause, from a position of vanity, for the primary purpose of demonstrating your conformity with fashionable pop culture values.
Angela’s sudden advocacy for the local pet shelter was mostly an exercise in public relations and virtue signalling. She had never much cared for dogs and cats before, but she instinctively understood teary-eyed public support for defenseless animals generally said something good about her as a person.
Mohler claimed that most people in Hollywood knew about Weinstein’s serial abuse but they all refused to talk about it in any way that mattered. He called it a conspiracy of silence while raking Hollywood over the coals for their willful ignorance and condemned them for virtue signaling.
Of course, Mohler is correct in regards to Hollywood. Sexual exploitation and the movie industry dance cheek to cheek. There are still people that are members of the Academy who have been convicted of sexual crimes. Roman Polanski Is a Child Rapist. It’s Long Past Time for Hollywood to Cast Him Out.
One would think Christians would do a better job than this. They don’t. TWW has been writing about child sex abuse and the evangelical church since 2009. Mohler does not appear to see the irony in his condemnation of Hollywood. He, too, is virtue signaling. Yes, sirree! Mohler is against all that bad sexual stuff that goes on in Hollywood and all those bad actors like Bill Cosby. But, when it comes to his BFF, CJ Mahaney, such accusations are worthy of a good laugh at a national conference.
I wonder if any of these men regret their choice in supporting CJ Mahaney. Their refusal to discuss it leaves us to imagine why they support him. Is it money? Besides the $200,000 to SBTS, CJ Mahaney has given money to Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church as well as giving monetary assistance to Wayne Grudem. Thabiti Anyabwile told me on Twitter that Mahaney also donated money to help his church in the Cayman Islands when it was damaged by a hurricane. All of these men support CJ Mahaney.
They leave us little to work with. They condemn others like Weistein and Moore BEFORE any conviction but insult us for believing the victims in the SGM debacle. No wonder evangelicalism is getting a bad rap. Way too many celebrities in Christendom act just like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Maybe they are all just actors…
(PS: Joe Carter, next time, instead of calling us pathological liars, do what we do. Quote our exact words and prove that we are knowingly telling a lie. That is what Christians and thoughtful people usually do.)