For those of you who have become familiar with C.J. Mahaney in recent years, you know him as the friend and colleague of the New Calvinists, namely, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and John Piper, among others.  Adrian Warnock, who hails from London and blogs for Newfrontiers, acknowledges this change in Mahaney’s associations as follows:    

“C. J. has, in recent years, been introduced to a new audience because of his friendship with Mark Dever and Company.  I have known of him since the 1980’s, and loved to listen to him live at early Newfrontiers Bible Weeks.”  http://adrianwarnock.com/2008/02/8th-most-read-post-interview-with-c-j/

Incredibly, thirteen months have passed since I (Deb) first began investigating Mahaney’s connection with Newfrontiers and its founder Terry Virgo.  The following comment in the Wikipedia article on Sovereign Grace Ministries clued me in:


“Tomczak and Mahaney were both close to some leaders of the British New Church Movement, speaking at New Frontiers’ Bible Weeks and Stoneleigh Conference.”

As the Wiki article explains, Mahaney and his former colleague Larry Tomczak traveled across the pond to speak at various British conferences, presumably with Terry Virgo.  Since Mahaney spoke at the 2005 Together on a Mission, obviously at Virgo’s request, C.J. and his longtime British colleague appear to have maintained their friendship over the years.

Just who is Terry Virgo and what is Newfrontiers?  Let’s start with Virgo’s ministry.  Newfrontiers is a “worldwide family of churches together on a mission, with over 700 churches in over 60 nations around the world”, according to its website.  And some of us  thought the “family of churches” concept originated with Mahaney.  

For specifics, click on this link:    http://www.newfrontierstogether.org/

The Newfrontiers Wikipedia article begins as follows:

“Newfrontiers (previously New Frontiers International) is a neocharismatic apostolic network of evangelical, charismatic churches founded by Terry Virgo. It forms part of the British New Church Movement, which began in the late 50s and 60s combining features of Pentecostalism with British evangelism.”

For more information, check out this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newfrontiers

I wanted to learn more about Terry Virgo’s theology, so I consulted his Wikipedia article.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Virgo

Here is a brief overview of Virgo’s theological positons, which are provided in the Wiki article (the italicized words are direct quotes):

“Terry Virgo …

holds to a complementarian view of gender roles.

believes that the New Testament models that churches should be governed by a plurality of elders rather than by one person.

 is a Calvinist. He said, ‘Anyone in newfrontiers would know how much we treasure these doctrines. I am not sure that someone would feel they couldn’t join us if they were not reformed. We have never said you have to be reformed to belong. But it is widely known and understood outside our circles that we are reformed and charismatic.

is a charismatic and thus believes that miraculous gifts such as prophecy and healing are for today.

believes the bible teaches that the ministry of an apostle is for today and did not end with the death of the first apostles. He thinks the widespread belief amongst evangelicals that apostles are no longer for today is largely a result of the Reformers opposition to the Roman Catholic notion of ‘apostolic succession’ which has strongly influenced the evangelical view ever since. As such he shares the view that apostles are for today with many in the Charismatic community, such as Sam Storms.

believes, as did Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, that baptism in the Holy Spirit is a distinct/separate experience from conversion. He thus differs with many evangelicals on this matter, including  John Winber’s tentative view and Wayne Grudem. Virgo would say that the Samaritan experience in Acts 8 and the Ephesion disciples’ experience in Acts 19 make it clear that baptism in the Holy Spirit does not always happen ‘automatically’ upon conversion.” 

If you read yesterday’s post, you will remember that Mark Driscoll spoke at the 2008 “Together on a Mission” conference in Brighton.  Did you know that Terry Virgo came to the United States to visit Mark’s church?  Adrian Warnock proudly reported it as follows:


Terry Virgo at Mars Hill Church, Seattle

July 28, 2009

“Terry is currently in the USA with Mark Driscoll’s home church. He has actually been in the USA for most of the time since Together On A Mission…”

We presume that Warnock is speaking of the 2009 Together on a Mission conference which was held from July 7-10, 2009.  Here’s the promo of the 2009 conference on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73KyfEEO3JY 

We believe C.J. Mahaney is the one who introduced Mark Driscoll to Terry Virgo, just as Mark Dever is the one who introduced Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan to C.J., as reported by Duncan on the Together for the Gospel blog.

If you’d like to learn more about Terry Virgo’s “Together on a Mission” conference, you can check out this link )http://adrianwarnock.com/2008/07/together-on-mission-2008-newfrontiers/) and read Adrian Warnock’s article entitled:

Together On A Mission 2008 – The Newfrontiers Conference

At first glance it seems absolutely wonderful that Newfrontiers is striving to evangelize Europeans and others around the world who are lost, as indicated by the YouTube  video promoting the Together on a Mission conference.  Unfortunately, that’s not the entire picture of Newfrontiers. 

According to the Wikipedia article on this “family of churches”, it seems Newfrontiers has come under criticism in recent years.   Here’s how the Wiki article on Newfrontiers concludes.  FYI – the author of the article is obviously not from the U.S. because of certain unusual word spellings (organisation, for example). 



“Although Newfrontiers churches and members frequently maintain contacts with the wider community, there have been expressions of concern, principally by others in similar branches of Christianity, at the reluctance of the organisation as a whole to accept external assessment. For instance, John Buckeridge, senior editor of  Christianity magazine, interviewed Terry Virgo for its July 2009 issue and was surprised at Virgo’s request for “extensive changes and edits” to the interview prior to publication. As early as 1986, sociologist and church historian Andrew Walker wrote of Newfrontiers that “the situation seems slightly analogous to Japanese business practices: they… export with great success, but import virtually nothing from anybody else”. A recent illustration of this was when semi-official Newfrontiers’ blogger Adrian Warnock closed the blog to comments following debate challenging Newfrontiers’ complementarian position.

At the Newfrontiers Brighton conference in 2008, prominent evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll criticised Newfrontiers’ apparent lack of clear strategy for post-Terry Virgo leadership and the dearth of clear expressions of their beliefs regarding basic doctrines such as ecclesiology and the Holy Spirit. The observations on leadership was acknowledged by Terry Virgo at the following year’s conference, although the way in which they were addressed was markedly different to the outline Mark Driscoll suggested.

Newfrontiers have begun to publish theological papers to address the second concern on their website. Members also point to other evidence of looking beyond their own network, inviting speakers such as Rob Rufus, C.J. Mahaney, Timothy J. Keller and Mark Driscoll amongst others to address their conferences in recent years…”

Spiritual abuse 

“Allegations of spiritual abuse within Newfrontiers have been made in a number of internet discussion forums including the one operated by Reachout Trust, most recently in 2009. In April 2009, the Journal of Beliefs and Values published an article reporting on a 2007 study which “set out to examine the psychological type profile of Lead Elders within the Newfrontiers network of churches in the United Kingdom and to compare this profile with the established profile of clergymen in the Church of England”. One of the conclusions of this academic study offers some support for such allegations:

‘There is a toughness about this style of leadership that is unlikely to be distracted by opposition. The disadvantage is that this style of leadership can leave some individuals hurt and marginalised for what is seen by the leadership as the overall benefit to the organisation.’”

Gee, is there another “family of churches” that could be described in this manner?



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    I have been in SGM for years and I have visited NFI churches in the UK and South Africa. NFI churches are definitely more overtly charismatic than SGM, with slightly less emphasis on Calvinism. There are many similarities and CJ Mahaney and Terry Virgo have had a friendship for decades, so the two groups of churches have certainly influenced each other.

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    Wow! You certainly have loads of experience with NFI churches. We find it interesting that these two men have a friendship and influence one another. Do you think that this a positive influence?

    Since you are currently, at the minimum, a member of SGM, could you tell us if there is an encouragement of diminishing the outward expression of charismatic articulation within SGM? And, if so, why?

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    I think there has been some positive and some negative influence. In the early 1990s Terry Virgo seemed successful in influencing CJ to encourage charismatic expression in SGM (then PDI). Since the late 1990s there seems to have been a lessening of Terry Virgo’s influence on CJ, as well as a lessening of charismatic emphasis in SGM. Terry Virgo’s declining influence on CJ seemed to happen at the same time as an increasing influence of Al Mohler, et al. I don’t know if one actually caused the other, though.

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    We appreciate your insights! Your explanation of the lessening of charismatic emphasis in SGM sounds very plausible.

    Over at SGM Survivors, the SGMers who tend toward charismatic expression have shared their frustration that these changes have been implemented without their even knowing about said changes.

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    Hey guys!

    Excellent post – and question. I can comment on this relationship because I’ve had the interesting position of being a member in both SGM AND Newfrontiers churches! I would agree on the similarities (e.g. complimentarianism etc) – but I can testify that there are marked differences.

    Newfrontiers are most definately “more” charismatic than SGM. All the Newfrontiers churches I have been to (and I’ve been to a few!) put real emphasis and value on welcoming the Presence of the Holy Spirit during their churches. There’s a real marked difference between the “prophecy mike” of SGM (i.e. you can bring a word if you pass the elder test) and far more actively welcoming of spiritual gifts in Newfrontiers.

    I was a member of the SGM church in Bristol England for 2 years and I heard approximately one spiritual gift brought during those 2 years – and that was from me! As opposed to any Newfrontiers church you go to, you can guarantee you’ll hear “something”.

    Terry Virgo and C J Mahaney – a real marked difference between the two men I think. I agree that Terry has a real underlying firmness. I read in Andrew Walker’s book “Restoring the Kingdom” that you quoted – “Terry gets what Terry wants”. I’m sure that’s true! But having met both men myself – Terry exudes warmness, compassion and friendliness and I have watched him leave meeting after meeting and patiently spend time with anyone who comes up to him and speaks with him. C J on the other hand – he struck me as abrupt to the point of rude (very different to his public “humour”) and is usually whisked in and out of meetings by cronies.

    I do agree with the point about C J Mahaney being invited over to Newfrontiers conferences. It’s interesting it’s been 2005 since he last came over – and I’m hoping that stays! 😉

    Thanks for another great post!

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    It’s great to hear from you! Glad my trip to Europe is about a month away. The effects of the volcanic eruption have been pretty incredible… I hope the ash cloud will dissipate soon and there won’t be any lingering effects.

    C.J. has a new set of friends now. I wonder what Terry Virgo thinks about all of this. Yep, “change is here to stay…” in SGM.

    Blessings to you.

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    Any thoughts on Mahaney’s monetary contributions to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary?It’s a good chunk of cash and I don’t think it’s just a gift with no intentions behind it.

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    Very insightful, and informative. I dont usually make comments, as Im kind of a blog lurker, but I thought it deserved a word or two.

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    Thank you and welcome.