Why I Finally Left Sovereign Grace Ministries After 30 Years

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."    -The Declaration of Independence 


courtesy of NASA


On April 18, 2011, Jim, at the well regarded SGM Refuge, printed the following letter. I contacted him and asked if TWW might be able to post it as well. He graciously gave us permission to do so.


This letter is written by a 30 year member of Sovereign Grace Ministries who, after many years of sacrificial love and service, felt he could not longer participate in the ministry.  It is a well written, thoughtful letter that should cause any Godly person to question why such events transpired. Pay particular attention to the excellent quotes he provides at the end of his letter. Well done, sir!


This is not just about SGM.  This letter could have been written by anyone who has become disenchanted or hurt by a ministry. We post this as an encouragement to those readers who feel that they want to leave a ministry but are hesitant. This is also posted as insight for those leaders in various ministries, who have exacerbated, both intentionally or not, the pain of the membership. Such leaders are not servants but wish to be served. Look to Jesus who washed the feet of His disciples. 


One final thing, this is just one more story about a serious problem within SGM. What in the world is going on with this group???


Jim wrote the following:


"I get mail. When I received a copy of the letter below, I thought that it was so well written and contained so much truth.I contacted the original author and received permission to post it here, unedited."


“… if he (the watchman) sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand”. Ez. 33:3-6

My brothers and sisters in Christ, 4/9/11

Recently, I felt compelled to write an explanation for my leaving Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and KingsWay Community Church (KWCC) in particular. It is important to understand that disassociating myself from an organization that I have poured my life into for nearly 30 years was not something I considered lightly, and was not without much prayer and travail with the Lord. However, I believe it is extremely important, considering the issues at hand and their spiritual implications, that my brothers and sisters in Christ take very seriously what I have to say. I encourage you to seek God as to the veracity and wisdom of my contentions.

First, let me say that the Peace Makers (PM) process was valuable in identifying and bringing resolution to the relational rifts that existed. The PM process was also very helpful in identifying the problematic/sin areas (over 40) that were pervasive in our church culture. However, in my opinion, that’s about as far as PM could help. PM cannot and should not take the place of the church’s authority and responsibility regarding church discipline. This is most likely the reason many of you feel that an ultimate resolution was never achieved. It is the church’s responsibility to resolve these matters, not PM’s. Remember, for SGM it is the elders, not the church as a whole that resolves church discipline. This is a direct contradiction to the New Testament examples, i.e., Matthew 18; 1 Cor. 5; 1 Tim. 5

I would also like to clarify one of the statements I made that Sunday morning (PM Sunday). I said something to the effect that “the pastors have dealt with all the issues, charges, and concerns.” This was an unfortunate choice of words on my part. I should have said, “The pastors have acknowledged all of the issues, charges, and concerns.” This is my mistake. I realize there is a huge difference between dealing with and acknowledging sins. Unfortunately, the former statement can be construed to mean there is nothing more to address, except the matter of consequences. In either case, regardless of whether the charges were dealt with or simply acknowledged, I believe there are appropriate consequences and issues of restitution that have yet to be considered.

Indeed, several of my brothers and sisters in Christ have had discussions with the pastors regarding appropriate consequences/restitution, but to no avail. This is unfortunate, and I fear that my poor word choice that Sunday has contributed to the lack of closure, especially with regard to appropriate consequences and restitution, related to the sins against Steve, his family, and the church.

Also, let me be perfectly clear about where I stand on the issue of polity. I absolutely support the concept of a plurality of elders leading the church. However, in most cases where a plurality of elders is mentioned in the context of church government, it is usually assumed that the congregation has some meaningful involvement in how those elders are chosen and whether or not there is biblical warrant to remove them if necessary. Nearly all evangelical theologians, including Grudem and Erickson, understand “elder led churches” to be congregational-elder led churches, and not simply ruled by elders. In my opinion, SGM is a hierarchical, top down form of church government that resembles a papacy or episcopal system more than any other form of polity. This is not so much a criticism as it is a point of fact. In my opinion, SGM polity is in direct opposition to the admonition of Jesus when He said in Matthew 20:25-26,

“…. You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant …”

The above summarizes the first reason for my departure.

One of the most disconcerting aspects of this entire process has been the failure of the church to realize that the sins committed against Steve W., his family, and others, simultaneously, constituted sin(s) against the local body of believers at KWCC. We as a church fail grievously when we abdicate our responsibility in being our brother’s keeper, when one of our members is publically and/or wrongfully castigated or harmed and resolution is not forthcoming.

KWCC, in such a situation, we are culpable if we do not lift our voice on behalf of one another. We cannot say, “It’s not our responsibility. We are an elder led church. The elders know best and they will take care of it”. On the contrary, when the elders in an elder led church foul something up, it is the church’s responsibility to say, and do, something about it. As Mark Dever contends,

“The congregation has real authority. It is also true that the Bible presents the local congregation as having the final say in matters of dispute, doctrine, discipline, and membership. The congregation exercises this authority for the maintenance of the Body’s health and for the accountability of the elders”. — 9marks.org, Mark Dever

I praise God for those that have had this realization. Many have been convicted accordingly and have written letters, made appeals, sat in hours of meetings, prayed, fasted, etc. Those who have done so, and continue to do these things, are being good examples and we should thank them for their courage and for taking their responsibility seriously as a member of KWCC, endeavoring to promote reconciliation and closure in a way that glorifies God and honors His Word.

Woe to us if we are passive, when even the least among us, is harmed…. and the body of Christ, in which those who are harmed belong to and depend on, fail to lift their voice, and instead choose to remain silent.

For those of you who are puzzled as to why people continue to leave and/or continue to call for meetings with the pastors, I believe it is because there has been no real or meaningful repentance, resolution, restitution, or consequence(s) that is commensurate with a biblical response, the kind of response that godly sorrow dictates.

If, in the final analysis, I am dividing you against one another and Christ, then I am in deep trouble and have disgraced the name of Jesus, and harmed the body of Christ. However, if I am sounding a warning….. “a clear trumpet sound”, and telling the truth, then I have served you well and have been obedient to Jesus.

Over the past 11 years I have been encouraged and comforted by the scripture …“wisdom is justified by her deeds.” Mat. 11:19

Even as I write, I believe God is vindicating what is true regarding many situations throughout SGM.

In my view, there has been much bad fruit born from the atrocities that have occurred against the Body of Christ. Sadly, I am very aware that there is a tendency for many of us to simply ignore, reinterpret, and/or disbelieve the clear and empirical evidence that would not be characteristic of the good fruit of Christ and His ways. Unfortunately, several of these people have sent me hate letters, slandered my name, shunned and ostracized my wife and children and, in general, caused great harm to my family and many others who have taken a stand for righteousness sake.

Over the past several years, I have warned many of the leaders in SGM and KWCC that if they did not repent, particularly of their obsession with insisting on maintaining control and authority over God’s people, the Lord Himself would remove the lampstand (the people) from their midst and then begin to remove the pastors themselves. This is exactly what has happened at KWCC and continues to happen, even as I write, despite the fact that several of the leaders of SGM have personally come here (KWCC) in an attempt to “stop the bleeding”.

Let me say, the “bleeding” will not stop until there is repentance born from godly sorrow! When Dave Harvey came to KWCC over a year and a half ago and was informed of the issues (numerous charges against the pastors at KWCC), I told him as he was leaving, “Dave, we must repent our way out of this mess, not teach or explain our way out”. I also wrote a letter to Dave after his last visit exhorting him to return to KWCC and ask the church for forgiveness for preaching such an insensitive and arrogant message, especially after the trauma our church had just experienced.

During our last Peace Maker’s meeting Gene stated that they (the leadership at KingsWay) had decided to have voluntary accountability to SGM, and Dave Harvey in particular. I responded by asking him, “Do you mean that a man who is not a member of this church will have authority over this church?” Gene responded, “Yes”. I assume that all the other pastors present at that meeting concur, since they remained silent.

Brothers and sisters, this arrangement violates the autonomy of the local church (the church being removed from under the papacy or episcopal form of polity/church government), a concept that was gained through the blood, sweat, and tears of the Reformation. It subverts the biblical authority of the local church and its inherent right and responsibility to govern itself; and is a misapplication of the biblical relationship between the body of Christ and those who have the privilege and responsibility to lead the local church.

It must be understood that SGM polity stands isolated in the larger evangelical church. “Elder led” has a completely different meaning and application in other evangelical, reformed churches. Therefore, the term “Elder led” as used by SGM is misleading because its normative and accepted meaning is fundamentally different when used by SGM. This is the second reason for my departure, the application of SGM polity.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I want to implore you to be Bereans and begin to study the Scripture afresh. Read reputable and historically trusted sources that address the authority and autonomy of the local church, especially with regard to individuals and entities outside its local membership having any sort of ultimate authority or control over a local expression of the Body of Christ.

Contrary to what you might think, I believe we have a responsibility, as the body of Christ, to exercise our God given authority in the local church where the Holy Spirit has placed us; to include monitoring ourselves, as well as those who preach and teach, exercising church discipline when necessary, and being our brother’s keeper.

However, we (in SGM) have been systematically taught that the church has absolutely no authority whatsoever. This is exactly why many of the maladies throughout our history have occurred. The church has been asleep at the wheel. We have abdicated our biblical responsibility. We must repent of this nonsense! We are responsible for each other. We are our brother’s keeper. When something is amiss in our local body it is ultimately the responsibility of the church, collectively, to insure that things are made right. When a local church fails to do this, then that church has lost its moorings and shipwreck is sure to follow.

That, under Christ and his word, the final court of appeal in the local church in deciding matters of disagreement is the congregation itself. (This is implied, first, in the fact that the leaders are not to lead by coercion, but by persuasion and free consent [1 Peter 5:3]; second, in the fact that elders may be censured [1 Tim. 5:19]; and third, in the fact that in Matthew 18:15-20 the church is the final court of appeal in matters of discipline). — John Piper

Paul is writing not only to the Galatian elders. He’s writing to the whole church. And he’s saying that the church is responsible to evaluate the teaching that comes from the pulpit. They are not to passively accept anything that comes out of the preacher’s mouth, but are to hold it up to the light of Christ and test it by His Word. And if the teaching fails the test, the whole church is responsible to quit listening to the teacher – even if that teacher is an apostle like Paul himself. — 9marks.org, Mark Dever

In the final analysis, we must not point our finger at those in leadership as the source and blame for our problems. We must turn our finger around and point it at ourselves (collectively as the church) because that is where God points it. As has been stated so well, “The church has been given the keys”. The keys have not been given to the Pope, a synod, committee, or any one individual, regardless of their leadership position. The keys have been given to the body of Christ! The question is, “What will we do with them?”

Your brother in Christ,

Bob Dixon

For your consideration and further study:

The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren. Not in the former but in the latter is the lack. The Church will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the Word of Jesus Christ because it knows that then it will be guided, not according to human wisdom and human conceit, but by the Word of the Good Shepherd. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What stands opposed to…virtue is tyrannical pride, when the pastor exempts himself from all subjection, and tyrannizes over the Church. It was for this that Ezekiel condemned the false prophets, that is, that they ruled cruelly and tyrannically (Ezekiel 34:4). Christ also condemned the Pharisees, because they laid intolerable burdens on the shoulders of the people which they would not touch, no, not with a finger (Matthew 23:4). This imperious rigour, then, which ungodly pastors exercise over the Church, cannot be corrected, except their authority be restrained, so that they may rule in such a way as to afford an example of a godly life.  John Calvin


“The elder has authority; he is called to exercise a shepherd’s oversight. Christ the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4) has called him to exercise a shepherd’s care. But the undershepherd is not a stand-in for the Lord. He presents the word of the Lord, not his own decree; he enforces the revealed will of the Lord, not his own wishes. For that reason, any undermining of the authority of Scripture turns church government into spiritual tyranny. If church governors add to or subtract from the word of God, they make themselves lords over the consciences of others.” — Ed Clowney

Some of the worst havoc wrought to the Christian faith has been a direct result of unscriptural forms of church structure. Only a few centuries after the apostles’ death, for example, Christian churches began to assimilate both Roman and Jewish concepts of status, power, and priesthood. As a result, church government was clericalized and sacralized. Under Christ’s name an elaborately structured institution emerged that corrupted the simple, family structure of the apostolic churches, robbed God’s people of their lofty position and ministry in Christ, and exchanged Christ’s supremacy over His people for the supremacy of the institutional church — Alexander Strauch

The congregation has real authority. It is also true that the Bible presents the local congregation as having the final say in matters of dispute, doctrine, discipline, and membership. The congregation exercises this authority for the maintenance of the Body’s health and for the accountability of the elders. — 9marks.org, Mark Dever

That, under Christ and his word, the final court of appeal in the local church in deciding matters of disagreement is the congregation itself. (This is implied, first, in the fact that the leaders are not to lead by coercion, but by persuasion and free consent [1 Peter 5:3]; second, in the fact that elders may be censured [1 Tim. 5:19]; and third, in the fact that in Matthew 18:15-20 the church is the final court of appeal in matters of discipline). — John Piper

Paul is writing not only to the Galatian elders. He’s writing to the whole church. And he’s saying that the church is responsible to evaluate the teaching that comes from the pulpit. They are not to passively accept anything that comes out of the preacher’s mouth, but are to hold it up to the light of Christ and test it by His Word. And if the teaching fails the test, the whole church is responsible to quit listening to the teacher – even if that teacher is an apostle like Paul himself. — 9marks.org, Mark Dever

Whereas Christians are encouraged to support and submit to spiritual leadership (Hebrews 13:17), such encouragement must not be considered a blank check if churches are responsible for and have the authority to discipline false teachers and to recognize an antecedent commitment not to a pastor but to the truth of the Gospel. — D.A. Carson

Though some may use the word apostle in English today to refer to very effective church planters or evangelists, it seems inappropriate and unhelpful to do so, for it simply confuses people who read the New Testament and see the high authority that is attributed to the office of “apostle” there. It is noteworthy that no major leader in the history of the church – not Athanasius or Augustine, not Luther or Calvin, not Wesley or Whitefield – has taken to himself the title of ‘apostle’ or let himself be called an apostle. If any in modern times want to take the title ‘apostle’ to themselves, they immediately raise the suspicion that they may be motivated by inappropriate pride and desires for self-exaltation, along with excessive ambition and a desire for more authority in the church than any one person should rightfully have — Wayne Grudem

“Of all work done under the sun religious work should be the most open to examination. There is positively no place in the church for sleight of hand or double talk. Everything done by the churches should be completely above suspicion. The true church will have nothing to hide.” (A.W. Tozer, “Of God and Men.”)

In the face of increasing dependence on strong leadership in Christian circles, evangelicals who value the legitimate role of biblical submission and headship, must reaffirm the freedom which characterizes the new life in Christ. We must resist any teaching that brings into question Christ’s role as the sole mediator (go-between) between God and man. We must reassert that no Christian is ever called upon to give unquestioning obedience to anyone. We ultimately must accept only the lordship of Christ. — Dr. Ronald Enroth


Lording it over the flock provokes church fights and splits. A domineering spirit in elders provokes mature men of strong minds and independent judgment to leave the church. These very ones would have the greatest potential for future leadership in the assembly. Dictatorial measures make lesser men craven and dependent, stunting their true growth. But it also has its harmful effects on the “lords over God’s heritage.” It makes them egotistical and self serving.” — Pastor Walter J. Chantry

The first sign of an abusive group is that it is authoritarian. When it comes right down to it, control is more important than personal spiritual welfare. Leaders in an authoritarian system are not teachable. The attitude, like that of the Pharisees, is that they are the teachers and rulers of God’s people, not their servants. They may say they are teachable, but then set up rules which you must follow to approach them. Then they interpret those rules to rule you out of order. The former members of one particular group described to the author how their leader used this method to avoid accountability. He kept pointing out how their “heart is not right” in the way they brought issues to him. — David Henke

“The movement (Shepherding Movement) gained a reputation for controlling and abusive behavior, with a great deal of emphasis placed upon the importance of obedience to one’s own shepherd. In many cases, disobeying one’s shepherd was tantamount to disobeying God. A few of these criticisms were exaggerated, but many lives were damaged. One such testimony can be found in the book Damaged Disciples by Ron and Vicki Burks. Noted Baptist evangelist Bailey Smith, for example, in his work “Real Evangelism”, mentions having collected a very large number of testimonies of people he had encountered who were damaged by Shepherding teachings.

The movement (Shepherds Movement) was denounced by many charismatic leaders such as Pat Robertson and Demos Shakarian, and a 1975 meeting (known as “the shoot-out at the Curtis Hotel”) to resolve the dispute achieved little. The Fort Lauderdale Five eventually parted company. Derek Prince and Bob Mumford both publicly distanced themselves from the teachings. Derek Prince withdrew in 1983, stating his belief that “we were guilty of the Galatian error: having begun in the Spirit, we quickly degenerated into the flesh.”[3] Bob Mumford issued a “Formal Repentance Statement to the Body of Christ” in 1990 and was quoted as saying, “Discipleship was wrong. I repent. I ask forgiveness.”   Taken from Wikipedia’s “Shepherding Movement” article.


Perhaps the longest lasting damage from spiritual abuse is loss of ability to trust. Mark Twain said that a cat that walked on a hot stove would never walk on a hot stove again. But then, it would not walk on a cold stove either…Finally healing comes when the individual is able to give help to others out of his own experience. The ideal setting for this is a support group. This writer has felt for many years that there needs to be a bridge between the abusive experience in their past and a grace oriented church to which they will eventually go, or maybe are now trying to re-learn to trust. That bridge needs to be their “Church In Between” a place of refuge that will function as a church, with understanding of their responses. Because, they are still like the cat that walked on that hot stove. — David Henke

The apostle Peter does not command, but exhorts. He does not claim power to rule over all pastors and churches. It was the peculiar honour of Peter and a few more, to be witnesses of Christ’s sufferings; but it is the privilege of all true Christians to partake of the glory that shall be revealed. These poor, dispersed, suffering Christians, were the flock of God, redeemed to God by the great Shepherd, living in holy love and communion, according to the will of God. They are also dignified with the title of God’s heritage or clergy; His peculiar lot, chosen for His own people, to enjoy His special favour, and to do Him special service. — Matthew Henry

When the way is hard, the flock may often become quite unsettled, even when it’s on its way home. The shepherd observes a poor old ewe, limping along at the tail of the mob. He goes to her and finds a small hard stick between her hooves. He takes the ewe in his arms, holds her gently and reassuredly, and carefully removes the offending hurt. He rubs in some soothing salve, lifts her to her feet, and moves her into the homeward path. — John MacArthur

Taken from the book, Perspectives on Church Government: Daniel Akin, James Leo Garrett Jr., Robert L. Reymond, James R. White, and Paul F. M. Zahl: Pgs.2, 26-35, 37,-41, 57, and 80.

“…polity can generally be defined as “the organizational or governmental structure of a local church or fellowship of churches” (p. 2).

“… church polity is typically conceived as the way in which a local church or a group o churches organize and administrate themselves” (p. 2).

“New Testament churches were basically Congregational in their government and polity” (p.26).

“Congregationalism locates the authority of the church in each local body of believers” (p. 27).

“Striking a delicate but discernable balance, leaders in a local congregation are answerable ultimately to God (Heb. 13:17; James 3:1; 1 Peter 5:2-4), but they are also responsible to those who have chosen them” (p. 27).

Regarding Matthew 18:15-17, Mark Dever gets to the heart of the issue when he writes, “Notice to whom one finally appeals in such situations. What court has the final word? It is not a bishop, a pope, or a presbytery; it is not an assembly, a synod, a convention, or a conference. It is not even a pastor or a board of elders, a board of deacons or a church committee. It is, quite simply, the church — that is, the assembly of those individual believers who are the church” (p. 29).

“However, as we examine the scriptures, the evidence leads us to the following position: New Testament churches were basically Congregational in their government and polity” (p. 26).

“Congregationalism locates the authority of the church in each local body of believers. No person or organization is above or over it except the Lord Jesus Christ alone as its head” “This is a wise strategy that balances congregational participation with pastoral leadership (p. 27).

Commenting on the passage in Acts 6:1-7, “They (the whole multitude) then brought these men before the apostles who “when they had prayed, they laid hands on them” (Acts 6:6), F.F.Bruce, no Congregationalist, accurately notes, ‘“It was the community as a whole that selected these men and presented them to the apostles for their approbation; it was the apostles that appointed them to their office”’.

John Stott adds, ‘“The twelve did not impose a solution on the church, however, but gathered all the disciples together in order to share the problem with them”’. “In this incident we discover the wisdom of strong pastoral leadership and appropriate congregational involvement. Even the apostles recognized that it was proper to involve the congregation in vital decision-making that would affect the life and ministry of the church” (p.30).

Saucey summarizes the entire event quite well: “In all of these important actions there is no hierarchy which rules by its own authority”. The apostles and their representatives (e.g. Titus) appointed elders for new church starts, gave their judgment, made recommendations and provided advice, but they did not exercise rulership or control (p. 31).

D.A.Carson addresses this well when he writes, “Whereas Christians are encouraged to support and submit to spiritual leadership (Heb. 13:17), such encouragement must not be considered a blank check; churches are responsible for and have the authority to discipline false teachers and to recognize an antecedent commitment not to a pastor but to the truth of the gospel” (p. 38).

As Clowney notes, “Church authority, grounded in the Word of Christ, is also limited to it. Christian obedience to church rule is obedience in the Lord, for His Word governs the church” (p. 38).

The congregation has a voice in who leads them, but once these leaders are chosen, the members of the congregation are obligated to honor and follow them unless they (the leadership) are disqualified through immoral, unethical, or unscriptural behavior (p. 39).

But since all ecclesiastical authority resided in the congregation jointly, the elders had no formal authority to act on any matter as a body of elders. Their role was to initiate, advice, and exhort (p. 57).

Congregationalism locates the authority of the church in each local body of believers. No person or organization is above it or over it except the Lord Jesus Christ as it’s head (p. 80).



Lydia's Corner: Judges 1:1-2:9 Luke 21:29-22:13 Psalm 90:1-91:16 Proverbs 13:24-25






Why I Finally Left Sovereign Grace Ministries After 30 Years — 20 Comments

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    This is excellent. Thank you for posting it. He is a brave man for taking a stand and leaving his church after 30 years. I recently left an authoritarian organization that I had poured my life into for only 5 years. It has been very painful and I imagine the pain that this man feels so exponentially greater. May God bless him for taking a costly stand against authoritarian leaders and for the Body!

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    Onething that must be kept in mind here is that the pastors have communications access to the congregation that is unlikely to be matched by anyone else. As a result, they can effectively lie to the congregation and get the congregation on their side on any controversy. I have seen it done. Fortunately today the internet is beginning ot be a counter to this – so of course authoritarian churches want to shut that down. It is a very real threat to their control.
    So – yes the congregation should be in charge, but that also means that the congregation needs ways to be informed outside of pastor controlled things.
    When the Presbyterian Layman started being published years ago, and told the church what the money was being spent on, I am told there was a strong attempt to shut them down for this very reason. (This was in the 60’s I think). So it should be no surprise that blogs are coming under similar pressure.

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    I wish I could figure out a way to effectively communicate to followers at SGM churches that, because of how the leaders there have been trained and because of how they, as parishioners, have been trained, they really need to learn how to look past the “niceness” and the tone in which SGM communicates in order to see the emptiness of their promises.

    Each aberrant church and religious group is especially good as a particular aspect of deception. SGM’s great skill shines through as an ability to get their people to trust them and believe in not only empty promises but also the tone of their communication. I wish I had a buck for everyone who has said, “But you don’t know my pastor.” People also believe that if they can get an audience with CJ, then things will turn around for them because they have such trust in what they understand to be CJ’s kindness and humility. When I try to communicate to them that once CJ has become involved, the whole group has shifted into full on damage control. CJ’s involvement means that you will never see justice. But they trust in the way he says things as opposed to what he actually does. I think that’s why SGM members hang in there so long, for years, being sorely mistreated.

    The trick with SGM is to stop believing all things good and to think pragmatically and like a good Berean. Ask whether the group is doing anything that they’ve said that they will do. Consider that the pleasantries are a cover meant to get you to just forget your concern. Look at what they do, not what they say or how they say it.

    My group operated in a very similar manner. My husband and I had a solid year of hard conflict, and he wanted to leave after just two months. I begged him to stay and believed with everything I had that God would change things through my own faith. If that were true, I’d be coming up on fourteen years of holding my breath, waiting for it to happen. After we learned about approved wife-beating by a deacon who was allowed to remain in his position at the church, we put a date on the calendar and decided to leave if God had not dealt with a specific problem. We wrote out what the criteria would be for us to stay very specifically. We set that date three months in advance, and I was shocked when that date arrived, and if anything, the problems had escalated.

    Perhaps that is something to consider if you are in an SGM church and dealing with a conflict. Set a date, well in advance, when you will walk out the door if certain, specific things have not happened by that date. If your spirit gives you peace and rest, stick by that commitment with your spouse to leave if these things have not taken place.

    And don’t tell people that you’ve set a date, because I can guarantee that a dozen people will get words of knowledge to tell you that doing so was wrong. It wont be the Holy Spirit communicating that to you but rather the damage control team that’s been sent to you to dissuade you from choosing your own course of what God wants from you. SGM is all about damage control, and having been in leadership in a very similar church in the area, leadership is required to report to the pastor and the pastor will have assigned people to come “spontaneously” tell you what they want you to do. It’s just a play out of the SGM manipulation playbook. They have 40 years of practice at using that playbook.

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    “Nearly all evangelical theologians, including Grudem and Erickson, understand “elder led churches” to be congregational-elder led churches, and not simply ruled by elders. In my opinion, SGM is a hierarchical, top down form of church government that resembles a papacy or episcopal system more than any other form of polity. This is not so much a criticism as it is a point of fact. In my opinion, SGM polity is in direct opposition to the admonition of Jesus when He said in Matthew 20:25-26,”

    This is where I think there is a huge cognitive dissonance. Grudem may write this and teach it, but it is not what he believes in action. In fact, over half of the Body has no input at all: Women. But that is a subject for another time.

    Grudem supports and is very close to those who actively promote “elder led”. He is no dummy. Many of them write one thing and do the opposite claiming they are doing exactly what they believe.

    So what Mr. Dixon is doing by quoting all these people is appealing to human authority while lamenting hierarchy within the Body.

    My heart goes out to this man who has gone through this but I see the typical debate that always leads to error: He appeals to authority (well known leaders) have written or said on this subject. That is appealing to authority. The very thing he is lamenting in the Body.

    I was astonished to read Calvin as a defense. A pure tyrant who believed in a state church with magistrates. If that is not cognitive dissonance, I do not know what is. Calvin did the opposite of what he wrote because he thought “he” was “godly”. This is a man who helped decide how many courses people were allowed at dinner in Geneva. This is a man who had Servetus arrested when he came to Geneva and visited Calvin’s church to hear him preach. He had him arrested because Servetus dared to correct Calvin’s writings and send them to him.
    I could say the same for Piper and others quoted above. Piper maintains super authority by dent of his celebrity and many followers. Yes, he has elders who disagree with him but Piper has a national pulpit and they know it.

    As long as we are appealing to human “experts” then it becomes what the humans meant when they wrote such and such and becomes ‘my expert is better than your expert’.

    I can relate to this appeal and it took me a long time to get over such a thing and turn exclusively to what scripture teaches in full. Scripture teaches that elders are “among” us not over us. Many will agree and then promote hierarchies. In fact, many Grudem colleagues have added a step to Matt 18 that is not in there…take it to the elders before taking it to the church. Unless we are vigilant and know the scriptures, we do not catch it.

    Frank Viola has an excellent paper that relates to this subject that I encourage everyone to read and check out with scripture:


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    I am also saddened by the long list of names dropped at the end of this letter, as if citing Mark Dever will also somehow galvanize matters. But I don’t even get as far along in this letter as you do before I see a great deal of disconnect. For me, it still boils down to the fantastic job that SGM does at exploiting the trust of their followers. SGM requires that followers act in a way that appears to be gentle, sweet, and approving, so dissidents find a very difficult time finding their voice and their own self-respect which they should readily find in Christ. The dissident remains compelled or forced to play by the rules that seem on the surface to be fair play and decency, but they are also a mechanism of control and manipulation in themselves.

    Reading this, I don’t even get to the comment that you site before I feel frustrated and note a disconnect. I’m hung up on the driving desire to preserve a high opinion of Peacemaker Ministries, required by what SGM teaches about entreating others with a presumption that everyone that calls himself an humble sheep really is a humble sheep. The best wolves go without detection because of this very presumption — because it doesn’t seem cricket to even suggest that a Christian might be deceitful, even when their behavior says otherwise. It gets even more complicated because individuals who work for PM might not be deliberately deceitful, but many of the presumptions of the PM system are deceitful.

    Though I have been told that many Christians have benefited from PM’s involvement with conflicts, I know several who have been exploited by the group while their statute of limitations expired, preventing them from seeking justice when PM’s process failed for them. I believe that this is true because of gross spiritually abusive flaws in their system and paradigm. Add to that the conflict of interest that PM has in reference to SGM because of the long-standing friendship between Ken Sande and CJ Mahaney.

    PM teaches that a Christian has the full right to declare a person a non-believer so that they can justify suing another Christian, all while their organization purports to provide an alternative for handling conflicts via legal recourse. (???) Such recourse is basically seen as an alternative that spiritual overseeers (church leadership) enjoy by virtue of their position in church hierarchy, an hierarchy to which one must agree when one accepts intervention by PM. The paradigm favors spiritual leaders, though the group allegedly aims to help subordinates in the chain of command. This paradigm does not help to adjust for inequitable balances of power but rather strengthens it, further reinforcing the power that spiritual leaders already lord over their sheep.

    PM offers churches a “covenant” for members to sign if they have none of their own, an agreement wherein the member pledges to uphold the rights of church leadership and to subordinate their own interests to their leadership, a common characteristic of spiritually abusive groups. PM also redefines reconciliation as a concept that is interchangeable and synonymous with forgiveness in a way that is not Biblical, requiring victims to offer terms of reconciliation to abusers which often puts them in a position for continued exploitation and abuse.

    I believe that I understand why followers of SGM strive and strive to live up to the group’s requirement of their imposed standards of how they should treat others who profess faith in Christ. I understand the desire of want to think and hope for the best in fellow believers, believing that justice will be done because of believing every good thing. But I don’t buy it and find it to be even more frustrating than the dropping of names of those people who talk out of two sides of their mouth and do not practice what they preach.

    So for me, the reason that undergirds the need for SGM followers to appeal to authority stems from the demand that everyone accept a pleasant and seemingly humble tone as genuine. This is part of what Robert Lifton called “the Sacred Science.” Citing names and expert opinion is a behavior, and the programming that requires SGM followers to seem sweet and humble is pre-behavioral, IMO. I see that Sacred Science idea as the root cause of the problem, so I don’t even look that intensely at the allusion to Grudem.

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    “But I don’t even get as far along in this letter as you do before I see a great deal of disconnect. For me, it still boils down to the fantastic job that SGM does at exploiting the trust of their followers. SGM requires that followers act in a way that appears to be gentle, sweet, and approving, so dissidents find a very difficult time finding their voice and their own self-respect which they should readily find in Christ. The dissident remains compelled or forced to play by the rules that seem on the surface to be fair play and decency, but they are also a mechanism of control and manipulation in themselves.”

    Oh, I totally agree with you. I saw this all the time in the mega world. I started referring to this phenomona as “Totalitarian Niceness”. Rick Warren calls it “civility” and therefore is the arbiter of what constitutes “civil” in his realm.

    It is in far more Christian groups than one can imagine. Warren’s mega also had a covenant for people to sign when they became members that said the exact sort of thing about saying anything negative about the church or leadership. Nevermind that some truths are “negative”.

    See, it is not just the Calvinists. This problem is widespread with those who want power and control over others in the Body.

    They are basically deciding what consitutes “truth” by their rules of exchange and therefore what may be “negative truths” are labeled as sin, gossip, divisiveness, lack of humility, etc. He who makes the rules, wins. IN other words, “if we do not like how you say it, we don’t have to take you seriously”. But then, the truth is that they will never like how you say it because they do not like what you are saying in the first place. The lesson is: Don’t say anything and you will be fine. To even bring up a problem is being divisive.

    The point is that truth never really receives a hearing in these situations….. but not knowing that upfront, they embark on the “peace process” anyway. It is no different from the star chambers. The deck is stacked.

    I am also well aware of the nefarious relationship PM has with churches. Churches are where they get most of their income to operate. Would they bite the hand that feeds them? And you are right about the covenants they provide churches and anyone who signs such a thing is now forever in their control because they get to decide what “breaks” the covenant. I think I know which situation you are referring to when PM kept the process going long enough so the statute of limitations for filing suit ran out. It was cruel and ruined some decent people who trusted their fellow “believers”.

    This appeal to sacred science has gone on long enough. I referred some to a paper written by Viola. It would seem I was appealing to an “expert” but Viola has no church, no position. He is our peer and colleague. He has written books but churches will not even carry them in their bookstores. Pastors in the institutions are constantly trying to disprove what he has written. I also recommended that everyone test what he writes with scripture. If they do, they will see what he says about the “biblical” elder is right on.

    Cindy, your site and your teaching on these cult tactics are priceless and I hope many will avail themselves of the resources on your blog. I listened to all your and Jocelyn’s podcasts on my iphone will traveling. I also listened to the lecture that Zambardo (sp?) gave on Lucifer Effect and bad barrells. Until we recognize that these are “bad systems” that decent people get caught up in, it will continue to work. We have got to learn to recognize bad systems. And the institutional church is unrecognizable in scripture.

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    Cindy and Lydia

    I have been away and am now catching up on the comments. You both said exactly what I thought. Its the oddest thing. All of these guys say the right things in writing. However, the minute a conflict arises, they seem to change their tune.

    -Peacemakers sounds good but they appear to be on the side of church leadership. There is a conflict of interest between Mahaney and Sande and the benefit of the doubt goes to the leaders in these churches.

    -I am opposed to almost all of the covenants out there and would advise Christians in churches not to sign these. Once again, they sound good, quote Scripture and besides, isn’t our pastor a good guy? He would never be self interested, would he? After all, he says he is the worst sinner in the world and is really into “humility” theology.

    -Most of these churches have a limited role for women. In this fashion, they remove 50% of the conflict. However, now some women do write blogs, don’t they?

    Many churches have turned into little kingdoms with a bunch of so called leaders actually believing that they are specially anointed. Some of these men are rather pathetic, if you think about it. They get a little church, some a bit bigger and think they are somehow specially gifted if 5000 people listen to them. 5000 out of 300,000,000 residents of the US and billions worldwide. I think they need to remind themselves that they are merely admirals in rowboats and they better be kind to the people manning the oars or the boat might tip over.

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    Love the Twain quote! Twain had a great deal to say about religion, none of it positive so far as I know.

    I also liked the way you opened this post with the opening sentence from our Declaration of Independence. I love the way Jefferson wrote it because it resonates for me as a kind of human rights manifesto for all humankind and for all time.

    “…I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man…” is another one of Jefferson’s well known statements that finds hearty affirmation with me.

    As I’ve commented before, I was involved with the Calvary Chapel scene in its early days toward the close of the Vietnam war. Over the years, they too have been drawn into the quagmire of authoritarian and dictatorial religion. You can read about it at the following link:


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    Thanks for the article. We really need to look at the conflicts at Calvary Chapel one of these days. Glad you liked the quote.I though it fit and hoped others would as well.

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    This is good that Kingsway and other SGM members hear the story of why someone with so many years in the group decided to leave the group. Sadly a number of people have left various PDI/SGM Churches and their story hasn’t been shared. People need to know the other side. Sadly, with how SGM defines “gossip” and slander, even abused members who leave are afraid to share their experience.

    With regard to membership agreements there is an old saying that he who writes the agreement writes the agreement only with their interest in mind. That is they write it to protect themselves and in their favor vs. something that protects both parties. Thus with churches writing the membership agreement do so to protect the church/institution and not members.

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    I appreciate your kind words. I think what goes on at SGM is beyond niceness and is a deeper type of spiritual bondage that is aimed at controlling conversation by threatening spiritual annihilation if the sacred science is challenged. They are so beat down and terrorized that it goes deeper. It is more than the garden variety of totalitarian niceness. The SGM stuff is more like totalitarian niceness under terrorism. It is truly wicked, and the continual focus on what a miserable and incapable sinner the rank and file member is adds to the demand for niceness.

    I think that your pointing out of the redefinition of gossip and slander is very valid. It is also the case with people who suffer great physical abuse and trauma, except SGM manages to accomplish it well with just the threats of the loss of personhood for speaking against the unwritten code. It maintains the milieu control needed and the dispensing of existence seals the deal. These men are spiritual terrorists. It is sad because the people who find it so difficult to leave strengthen the arms of their leaders, their own abusers.

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    I am new to TWW. My husband and I have been Southern Baptists most of our lives – including educations in SBC schools/universities. (I veered off once and joined a charismatic church where I finally escaped spiritual/church abuse by asking to be “released from the ministry”. You couldn’t leave otherwise. Pfff!!) Recently, my husband and I were asked to leave our SBC church due to exposing a church leader
    /predator targeting one of our youth. Long and very sad story. I’ve been doing lots of reading and research on the topic of Baptist clergy sex abuse and church abuse in general. So glad I found you! I appreciate all of the discussions here.

    Lydia, what you said at the end of your comment above is quotable: “…People who find it so difficult to leave strengthen the arms of their leaders, their own abusers.” This is exactly what I tried to convey to folks who knew what was happening to the victim and her family and to us (my family), in the wake of exposing the child predator (who has a history of sexual harassment/assault in the workplace). Despite all of the hypocrisy, abuse, and even the excommunication of people (us) who were their friends (and their SS teachers), they stayed right there – kept sitting in the pews, singing in the choir, signing up for programs, bringing their hard-earned tithes, and bringing their most prized possessions to the church – their children. It validates, and like you said, actually strengthens the arms of the leaders and abusers.

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    “Spiritual terrorists” is an interesting way to put it. They certainly intimidate members from speaking out about bad experiences due to it being “gossip” or “slander.”

    I posted this on SGM Survivors but here are some old psychology experiments that might sadly explain why SGM does what they do:




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    These are excellent resources and I’m glad you’ve introduced then again over at SGM Survivors. I’ve found that many of the folks over there were not very receptive to this message, however. I once arranged and was going to pay out of my own pocket for a very seasoned exit counselor to travel to the DC/NOVA area to do a regional session of discussion about the impact of these studies and the way thought reform is used at SGM to manipulate members. Absolutely no one was interested. If you go to my blog, currently, I have a link at the top of my sidebar to another very important video that goes into these studies in greater detail if you can find anyone that’s interested.

    Also in my sidebar, I have Robert Lifton’s Criteria of Though Reform displayed, and these dynamics are all part of the reasons why the “gossip” and “slander” works. Milieu Control, the Sacred Science, Doctrine over Person and the Dispensing of Existence are all elements of thought reform as described by Lifton and why I mention them in regard to SGM.

    I had little success conveying this message to SGM members, because they would not hear anything about their leadership possibly manipulating them in this way. What these members experience is a lot worse than just the dynamics of social psychology. It is thought reform. You can couch it in terms of “Spiritual Abuse” (those criteria are listed in my sidebar, too), but I think given the skill and intensity of what goes on at SGM, Lifton’s model describes the dynamics a whole lot better. But I have not been able to get anyone at SGM very interested in that approach.

    I don’t know if this is new material or what what your thoughts are about it, but I strongly encourage you to learn these techniques of manipulation to use to talk with people at SGM. If you’re into YouTube, I have some videos up on the FreeCWC site there that goes into these dynamics in more depth and from several perspectives: http://www.youtube.com/user/FreeCWC#p/c/5A02C873DC8291E6

    The best way to get free from this stuff is to learn about tactics of manipulation, and once your own critical thought starts to awaken, the healing begins.

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    I have looked at your site and seen a lot of good information. I have also started reading Zimbardo’s “Lucifer Effect” and found a lot of good information there.

    That was sad that no one was interested in hearing the speaker you mention. I am sure that with both current and former SGM Members there is a lot of denial etc.

    Hopefully by posting this information more people will become aware.

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    You are awesome! What a wonderful thing to offer to pay for a speaker of that caliber.

    I remember when a group of us had our little kerfluffle with our former church. I had seen some things that were troublesome for years. I had been advised by some Christian leaders to get out several years before the line in the sand incident.

    Although I am now glad for the experience-it taught me so much and gave me much empathy and passion for this blog- at first I was dismayed and couldn’t believe that I let myself be fooled by such nonsense. I remember kicking myself for believing that I could change people when the system itself was fundamentally flawed.

    For some, I think it is too hard to admit that “we shoulda seen it coming.” We can brush off that people, even leaders, have done us wrong. But it is difficult to admit that, had we thought about it, we could have avoided the whole darn mess by looking at the systems in place. For me, I had an MBA and was most interested in corporate management. Talk about feeling stupid!

    That is why I feel some freedom with this blog. I am not tied to one group or one subset of theology and can explore these issues broadly while staying within the pale of orthodoxy. Also, I think it is helpful for people who come from one tradition to see folks from others who have been let down. The common elements of their experience, such a the untouchable authority figure, may open their eyes, more and more, to systemic abuse-both on the part of sinning pastors and on the part of a poorly developed polity.

    I love your comments, Cindy. Wish I was half as smart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

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    Thank you for your kind words, though all I’m doing is repeating the things that have been taught to me. My exit counselor was just a mom with a HS education, so understanding these things is not education dependent either. It’s just a matter of being familiar with what has been written on the subject.

    The most helpful thing for people, especially fresh out of a group, is to talk with one another about what happened to them. They feel validated, and when they hear that others have had the same misgivings and doubts along the way while also believing in the group, it helps their own healing. A counselor who is knowledgeable about thought reform can start out by talking about the dynamics and can guide the discussion. (Without that support, it can all end into a victim mentality complaining session.) Most of the people who do this kind of work are not in it for money (it was not going to be that expensive), and the great benefit weighed against the limited cost was a bargain.

    I sat and waited for emails from people expressing their interest, and I never got a single one. On line, I guess people thought it was a nice idea, but the interest went cold fast when it turned out that I could make good on the offer to arrange for help. I had free reinforcements, too, counselors who are aged but were willing to come out of “retirement” to help with a weekend of group discussion sessions.

    Part of this, I’m sure, is the whole anti-psychology programming that the group pushes. At the time, some people involved with the discussion of setting up a support weekend asked me offline about my opinion on the use of medications, and I wonder if my acceptance of meds (especially when used for concurrent physical pain conditions or other disorders) did not get circulated through the group. Some of that blows my mind because, well, I do not conceal the fact that I am a nurse. But I have found with other groups also that, even though my perspective embraces complementary health care and natural products, I have been minimized and sometimes scapegoated or demonized when the message about thought reform became too uncomfortable for others. So I don’t dismiss the fear and the possibility of the power of milieu control kicking in to thrwart these past efforts.

    I also think that it is easier to say that the problems owe to a bad leader, or even a bad system. It’s safer to talk about ‘spiritual abuse’ which sounds Christian as opposed to the same thing when you approach it with Robert Lifton’s criteria. It is hard to admit that you got duped personally, because it is most easy to say that it was just a fluke, and you weren’t really too messed up yourself. Other people talk about getting messed up by this manipulation, but not me. — It’s just so personal and painful to admit and deal with the fact that you were just as sucked in as everyone else. It’s not as threatening when you’re talking about someone else.

    I also don’t think that healing really can progress very far until a person looks at the deeper reasons why they became involved with a group and why they chose to ignore the subtle warning lights along the way. (They are always there, but we choose to ignore them. It is also less subtle, and you don’t actually see it coming. You can’t, and the cues that something is wrong are very subtle.) It is harder to acknowledge and come to terms that there is always some primary and secondary gain for sticking with the system. There are deeper reasons why we stick with these things for so long. But looking at that aspect of it requires a painstaking moral inventory, and I think that a slim few ever stick with the process to work through this phase.

    At each stage in the process, there are those who seem to “fall out” of the group, though I believe that they often come back to the truth of the message about manipulation later, generally after they’ve been beat up again, later in their religious experience. The process is painful at times, and though it comes with new liberty and freedom, it’s almost not a path that most choose when they feel relatively comfortable in their experience. They look into learning about thought reform when the pain of learning about thought reform suddenly becomes less painful than continuing in their religious experience.

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    PDI/SGM Senior Pastor and Songwriter Caves to Leaders in Early 1990’s

    I don’t know where you stand doctrinally, but why all the fuss? Brent and CJ and all the other SGM leaders and their underlings should not be upset about any of the things that are going on at this time since God foreordained it from all eternity. Right? Over and over again their own theology mocks them.

    My wife and I were part of a PDI/SGM church for over 10 years. I had been an assistant homegroup leader. When the radical change in doctrine occurred I strongly spoke out against it. At that time hardly anyone, if anyone, in our local congregation agreed with TULIP. But they eventually became heavily indoctrinated, (sort of the way the JW’s do), as had our pastor previous to that. At one point, before my pastor gave in, during the second of the two three-hour knock down face to face meetings, I asked him how long he had been a Christian. It was like 25 years. I asked him if during that time he read God’s Word regularly. The answer was yes. Then I asked him if he read it prayerfully during that time. Again the answer was yes. Then I asked him when he came to believe in TULIP. He knew at that point he was just busted and uncomfortably admitted that it had been about two years earlier when CJ started propagating and later pushing it on people. My pastor agreed to read any book of my choice which took an opposing view to Calvinism. I asked him to read Robert Shank’s “Elect in the Son”. He read it and about three weeks later came up to me before a church service he called me aside and very quietly and almost secretively told me that he completely agreed with Robert Shank’s position.

    Now he had to break the news to Brent or Dave Harvey or whoever was “Over” us at that time. They were panicked as he was one of their main songwriters. He had actually discussed pulling some of his songs that had a Calvinistic bent to them. He was asked to write a position paper and he asked me to help. I did, but it was very lengthy. So he wrote his own, which was very pointed and well written. He then submitted it to the PDI leadership. Also during that time he had even seriously talked with me about leaving PDI, and we discussed whether or not he should turn the church building over to them. After submitting his paper he was asked to “dialogue” with them on the subject. When I asked him how the supposed dialogue was going he said that they gave him several books to read and discuss, like Anthony Hoekema’s “Saved by Grace”. Then CJ even invited him to speak at CLC, which of course was PDI’s mothership. I very much doubt if he would have ever smelled CLC’s pulpit had they not been going all out to dissuade him from what he actually believed. It was either conform, conform, conform, or out, out, out.

    Towards the end of our time at that church I continued to address many of the following things listed below, but our pastor refused to hear. I had been saying and have continued to say that:
    – PDI/SGM leaders and local pastors are elitists who think they have a corner on the truth; they are very proud and arrogant; they view themselves as the enlightened ones, while viewing all other Christians and their church affiliations as the unenlightened; in other words, those who do not agree with their theology are looked down on as second-class Christians and denominations; they are manipulative and controlling; much of the time they act like a bunch of clones; and that they are absolutely obsessed with TULIP.

    Over the years there has been lots of hypocrisy and a clear double standard regarding how they treat certain people and the way they treat certain other people. I’ve always likened SGM to the Holy Roman Catholic Church. At the very top you have the infallible Pope CJ. Then the cardinals, arch-bishops, bishops, priests, etc.

    In his 7/10/11 Sunday evening message at CLC it was refreshing to hear Josh Harris finally admit to several of the same things. In Brent’s “documents” I found the part about CJ blackmailing Larry, Doris, and Justin sickening and reprehensible. Isn’t it interesting how even though CJ is supposedly so close and in tune with God, it took him some 13 years to acknowledge his sins of pride, hypocrisy, manipulation and mistreatment of others; and now finally he has gotten around to making things right with Larry. It so obvious, as is evidenced in Brent’s documents what an idol Reformed theology is within SGM. Case in point, within these documents, CJ stated that it would have been OK and that he wouldn’t blackmail the Tomczak family, if Larry left the movement, but did not say that it was over “doctrinal” differences. It has become clear that CJ is not the most humble person on the face of the earth. As a movement they need to realize their facade of humility is nothing more than false humility, which of course is just another form of pride. It is apparent that CJ has always craved adulation and the leaders of PDI/SGM have always fallen over each other when introducing each other. And if they happen to be introducing one of their gods like RC Sproul it is downright scary.

    As a post script I want to state that before CJ changed in the early 1990’s, he was my very most favorite Christian teacher. In my cassette/CD library I have by far more of CJ’s messages than anyone else. Unfortunately, his desire for prestige, power, and recognition made him the lesser man that he is today.

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    I was also there in the early days of TAG and Gathering of Believers when Larry, C.J. and Che Ahn were one big happy family….

    Certainly you must remember, it seemed that every 3 or 4th weekend, C.J. was being “convicted of his sin” by the Lord, which I might add, some how always translated into the need for EVERY ONE in attendance to examine THEIR heart and confess THEIR sins TOO. Apparently the Holy Spirit couldn’t move in C.J.’s heart without taking a detour through everyone else.

    One word – “Showmanship”

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    Thanks so much for providing insight into how PDI morphed into SGM. What an incredible testimony! We will continue to focus on Sovereign Grace Ministries over the next few weeks, and we will likely include some of your remarks.

    It sounds like PDI began moving toward Reformed Theology in the early 1990s. Is that right? I was under the impression that it happened in the mid 1990s. Was Mahaney already Calvinistic, or did someone influence this change in his theology?

    Blessings to you and your wife.