C J Mahaney’s Temporary Resignation and Sovereign Grace Ministries: Shades of John Piper

Jeremiah 5:30-31 “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority.” 

Jeremiah 6:13-14 "For from the least of them to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. And they have healed the brokenness of my people superficially saying, “Peace. peace,” but there is no peace." 


Tarantula Nebula-NASA


We first became aware of Sovereign Grace Ministries when a local Reformed Baptist church began to push Mahaney’s books and the pastor began to quote Mahaney. We later learned that he considers Mahaney a friend. Over the years we have followed, with deep concern, various blogs such as SGM Refuge and SGM Survivors, which have documented story after story of people who have been deeply wounded by this ministry.

Over time, we have boiled down the reasons for this abuse.

1. A belief that all men are so sin infected that they must be led by pastors who somehow get a pass on this sin infection. These pastors then have the honor to tell everyone else what is wrong with them. The favor cannot be returned as reported time after time on SGM survivor blogs. To better understand our point of view, refer to our review of Mahaney’s book, Living the Cross Centered Life, which we deemed a deficient gospel. LINK

2. A rigid, hyper-authoritarian, arrogant, self-absorbed leadership structure that uses heavy-handed methods for dealing with people.

We are not shocked to that Mahaney is in trouble. He should be. In fact, we are surprised this day did not come sooner. However, I am not sure the time for rejoicing has arrived. Here are my concerns. I dearly hope that I am in error.

1. Mahaney’s history in the shepherding movement bodes ill for a change in direction.

As far as we can tell, Mahaney, who got his start in the well-documented abusive shepherding movement in the 1970s, has never issued any apologies for his involvement in the terrible abuses of this movement. It appears to us that Mahaney has been “doing an Amway” (running from reputation) in his career by being a serial name changer: TAG, Gathering of Believers, People of Destiny, PDI, and now SGM. He is even a serial theology changer. Does anyone remember the “apostolic team” or a charismatic emphasis?

Unless he has expressed true repentance for the pain caused by this movement, one has to wonder if he truly believes that shepherding methods are a valid means of coercion in ministry. If this is so, nothing will change but the name.


2. Could Mahaney be pulling off a “John Piper?”

It is no secret that Mahaney admires John Piper who recently returned from stepping down for 8 months to get his life in order. Piper is back, and, from what we observe, nothing much has changed. He is still the much-ballyhooed theologian of the Calvinista movement. We believe that Mahaney hopes to pull off a similar feat.


3. Mahaney’s apology was directed at the pastors/leaders, not the sin-laden masses in his churches.

He may be attempting to limit the damage by restricting the “problem” to the pastors. This sort of issue is easily remedied by making some simplistic changes to the governance structure. The well-documented pain and suffering of many will not be acknowledged.


4. Mahaney made a big point that his sin was not financial or moral.

According to the online Merriam Webster Dictionary, LINK,  the word “moral” “implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong.” Synonyms include “all right, decent, ethical, honest, honorable, just, good, nice, right, righteous, right-minded, straight, true, upright, virtuous.”


Mahaney seems to be implying that he didn’t steal money or sleep with someone’s wife. This is supposed to make it sound “not so bad.” However, moral has a far deeper meaning. Moral means to understand, and to adhere to, certain notions of right and wrong.

In my opinion, the numbers of people who have reported being abused by SGM leaders, who were put into place by Mahaney, have been deeply wounded by a morally bankrupt leadership who thought more about their own “anointing” than truly loving and serving the people in the pew. Grace appears to be an afterthought.

Even worse, if the documents in the sgmwikileaks are proven to be accurate (so far, no one has claimed otherwise) there are accusations about blackmail, lying, callousness and deceit. In most people’s Book on Morals, these things are wrong and can have far deeper effects on the human soul than stealing some money.

This IS a moral issue and CJ has proven that he doesn’t get it, even now. This does not bode well for any sort of permanent change at SGM.


5. The SGM/Hyper-Authoritarian “Don’t Gossip” Machine is now in full gear in order to “protect” Mahaney.

TWW has written regularly about how spiritually abusive churches and individuals misuse the “gossip” verses to shut down important communication of sin in the church. Here is a LINK to one such post called SHHH, Don’t Talk.”


Here is a quote from Adrian Warnock’s blog on CJ Mahaney’s leave of absence. Warnock is part of the Calvinist movement, which holds up Mahaney as a much admired leader.

He tells his readers

“Not to speculate unhelpfully about these matters online or offline. There is a word for that, gossip, and the Bible has some pretty specific things to say about those who gossip.”


It’s rather interesting that he negatively addresses those who might want to talk about the long and well- documented issues involved yet he doesn’t say one word about warning those who might gloss over the sins of Mahaney and SGM. Why might this be?


If C J Mahaney takes a tumble, it is likely that many in this movement will not be far behind. These people, whom we have dubbed Calvinistas, have exhibited self-assured arrogance in their interpretation of Scripture and authority. Such arrogance breeds pride and self-importance, which places many of them on pedestals. In one of the more ridiculous examples, many of them, Mahaney included, vie for the title of “worst sinner in the world” because, deep down inside, they wish to be thought of as Paul. It is not by accident that, until recently, Mahaney referred to himself as the Head Apostle. The name has changed but the man has not.

(We are planning on having a contest in the near future to help these guys decided, once and for all, who is the worst sinner in the world. Stay tuned for the ballots).

However, the rest of us need to toe the line. I will never forget one pastor’s response when he was confronted by his own failings that resulted in much pain and suffering of some molested boys. He said, I kid you not, “What about MY authority.” No concern about the pain and suffering of others. This man is a Mahaney fan.


6. Be prepared for all of the sycophants to declare that this temporary step down is just an example of Mahaney’s humility.


On Monday, we will discuss the role that cognitive dissonance plays in the denial of Mahaney’s real sin. But, for now, legends worthy of Lord of the Rings are being written. Here is one at Gospel Gripped. LINK

The blogger points out Mahaney’s wondrous response when confronted by these issues. He seems to say that Mahaney is a leader amongst leaders by taking this action.

“The fact is that C.J. was confronted regarding “pride, unentreatability (or being unapproachable), decit (sic), sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.” The world considers this par for the course among leaders. Yet, C.J. will have none of this.”

He is trying to paint Mahaney as this wonderful, godly man who is a leader among leaders. This is patently ridiculous. If the documents, along with the reports of abuse on such blogs as SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge, are to be believed, then Mahaney is among the most callous and self-absorbed individuals in today’s religious firmament. These concerns have existed for years, perhaps decades in some respects. This is not humility; it is hubris! And no amount of redefining will past muster. So can we cut out the fairy tales?


7. Be prepared for the Mahaney apologists to make the reporters into sinners and the sinners into the good guys who have been done wrong.


This is another spiritually abusive tactic, which we have written. We highly recommend the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.

Let’s go through some of these comments from Gospel Gripped post on Mahaney.

“I haven’t been wronged by CJ or by SGM. But I’m tempted to dig deeper into the exact complaints against him when it’s really none of my concern.”

Not your concern, huh? I heard this from people who ignored a bunch of boys who were molested in church and did not receive the help they needed. Your hurting brothers and sisters are your concern and you are responsible when you do not speak out against abusive practices. However, playing ostrich is easier.


“Gossip is casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people. The sgmwikileaks, the sgmrefuge and sgmsurvivors blogs are quite unconstrained. And the authors of those blogs *ought* to be ashamed of themselves for shouting from the rooftops the sins of others against them.”

This person obviously feels that one should keep their mouth shut when confronted by entrenched institutional sin. By this measure, Luther should have never spoken out against the abuses of the Catholic church. Perhaps no one should report those who molest children in churches like has been documented on the SGM Survivors site. LINK to Noelle’s story.


“Those blogs and those documents tempt me to sin by reading them. They don’t build me up, they don’t build up SGM or CJ Mahaney, they only seek to tear down. I would ask you to refrain from publicizing the matter any further.”

Note how he is using spiritual abuse tactics. The victims are the ones who tempt him to sin. The victims are the evil ones. However, Mahaney needs to be built up. I can picture what goes on at the church he attends.


Warning to all who use this tactic: The gig is up. There is a vast difference between "She looks like a whale in that dress" (gossip) and years and years of pain (getting to the truth). 



8. Be prepared for organizations and pastors, which have pushed Mahaney, such as The Gospel Coalition, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Mark Dever, and others to go into full-time damage control.

Our guess is that they will stress this is a minor blip in a life-long incredible ministry. There will be talk, almost immediately, about restoring Mahaney to his position. They will not acknowledge the large numbers of reports of spiritual abuse by the great unwashed. They do not matter, only the patriarchal leaders are important. In fact their response in this matter will help us at TWW to solidify our thoughts on this matter.



9. This matter may need outside help, but not by calling Ken Sande.

If you see Points 1-8 occurring, go public. There is only one way to get these guys to respond correctly and that is to get the press to pay them a visit. Already, Gannett has picked up on this development, which means that the cat is out of the bag.

It is always amazing to me that pastors are more than willing to ignore their "flock" when they are questioned about difficult matters. However, they become very concerned when questioned by the press. Could it be that our sovereign God put the press in place to keep certain pastors honest?

Here is my philosophy on this matter. These guys claim to be “missional.” They want to plant churches and have the world observe their witness. So, they don’t get to choose what the world observes. The world will, and should, see the church with all of its ticks and fleas. It’s time to let the light shine on ministries. If the ministry doesn’t like what is showing up, maybe they should do some changing.


As you know, Mahaney has contacted his buddies Mark Dever and Dave Powlison to be his sounding board. If you think this "accountability" is going to help, you might need to think again. We will write more on this matter, along with the evident cognitive dissonance amongst the Calvinistas, next week.


7/9/11 addendum:  We received this comment from Matthew Perry, whose blog we quoted. It seems he has had a change of heart.


Matthew Perry on Sat, Jul 09 2011 at 07:13 pm (Edit)

"Thank you so much for linking to my blog. Before you take time to disparage my thoughts on C.J., please note that when I wrote those, I only took C.J.’s remarks at face value, having no knowledge of the significant backstory that had been accumulating for 15+ years. I know it may have been convenient to find a blog to use to make a point about those who are blindly following C.J.

Do not count me among those. Knowing what I know now (if you had read my follow-up comments with that post, you would see this), Mahaney needs help and needs to be away from this ministry for a significant amount of time, if not for good."


Lydia's Corner: 2 Samuel 13:1-39 John 17:1-26 Psalm 119:81-96 Proverbs 16:6-7


C J Mahaney’s Temporary Resignation and Sovereign Grace Ministries: Shades of John Piper — 129 Comments

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    Great post; terrific analysis.

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    The psychological and rhetorical manipulations effectively make their language into something that is not the common language. By redefining the words, they make truth a lie and lies the truth. I suspect Goebbels would be jealous.

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    Hey Dee:

    CJ Mahaney’s background you posted previously gives a bit of a clue into the system he put in place. A dysfunctional home, a runaway, street smarts, no professional training or counselling to deal with his own demons…

    I read he was part of the shepherding ministry – a friend of mine tackles it at http://coveringandauthority.com/. It may help SGM members who are going to have to step up and change the system if they don’t want to see further harm and lack of accountability.
    I think coveringandauthority is a good adjunct to The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.

    Nae doubt t’will be interesting to see how groups who have promoted SGM respond.

    The blog I linked to is written for people beginning to ask questions, and it is written with respect for where they are, and where they can be.

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    Would you do everyone a favor and stop referring to someone like Mahaney as a “Calvinist?” He is a charismatic and an anabaptist. Reformed theology is not a system based on predestination alone.

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    What gives you reason to believe Pastor John Piper has come back with little change? What did you want? Desiringgod.org to shut down? Never write a book again? What gives you warrant to believe his sabbatical has not changed anything? Very interesting statement you make.

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    Awesome post! Lots to consider especially point #4!

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    She said Calvanista, not Calvanist. Big difference here @ Wartburg regarding the two.

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    Care to enlighten us on how John Piper actually changed during his eight month stint of “examining his soul”?

    Yes, we are cynical. Of all the Minneapolis churches where Piper could have attended during his leave of absence, he admittedly chose to worship at a Sovereign Grace church. I don’t care than the pastor at that SG church used to work for Desiring God. SGM has serious problems which we will continue to focus on here at TWW.

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    No Longer Reformed,

    Just read your comments about us over at Survivors. You are too kind! I really love your spunk!

    FYI, next week I’ll be writing a post about the close friendship between CJ and your former pastor MD and why I don’t believe he’s qualified to hold CJ accountable. Stay tuned…

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    I understand your concern. However, Mahaney is a Calvinista- a guy who defines it for its secondary benefits and uses it to gain fame and fortune. I have a good friend who is a Calvinist, not a Calvinista. There is a big difference. I have a proposal. Mahaney is considered a kingpin among the new reformed set. Would you care to write something about how he does not represent the historical definition of this system of belief? We would be happy to post your thoughts.

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    Dee, R. Scott Clark’s book Recovering the Reformed Confession would do a nice job of illuminating why historically most of those whom you term “Calvinistas” would not have been considered Reformed. For a shorter version, Michael Horton wrote an excellent blog post on the YRR movement a while back, with a follow-up article.

    Some may view the perspective that to be Reformed one has to hold to one of the historic Reformed confessions as pedantic and petty, but when so many views can make a more or less valid claim to be “just following the Bible,” accurate labeling can be useful.

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    I believe his sabbatical was very beneficial. I’m not so sure SGM was Piper’s first choice or his wife’s first choice. His preaching continues as does his ministry. His interview with Rick Warren also may have stemmed from his “soul-searching” on his sabbatical. The elders are in a great season of prayer right now and the church is in a hard position filled with decisions. I see Piper (pastor of preaching and vision) and all the other elders leading well and I think that this sabbatical greatly helped the Pipers. I’m sure you’ll be happy when he steps down from preaching in three years and spends his time more with Noel and teaching at the seminary.

    If you don’t live in Minneapolis or know first hand what the elders and members are doing, I think it is a very foolish thing to say that his sabbatical did not change the pastor or help in any way.

    Furthermore, even though you say, “from what we observe,” your conclusions about his sabbatical are unnecessary.

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    There was a big, flipping deal made about Piper’s sabbatical to get things in order. He attends an SGM church to help him do so. Now, with the revelations of the machinations of said organization, one would guess that Piper may not have received the help he needed. Can you imagine an SGM pastor actually treating Piper like any other attendee? I wonder if he got any lectures about his indwelling sin and how the pastor knows best?

    SGM is a personality driven ministry, plain and simple. The big names get the big recognition. This is detrimental to a system that pretends to follow the One who put the last, first. So, you betcha I’m cynical. You should be as well.

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    No Longer Reformed

    Thanks. Stay tuned for Monday when we discuss “Phoenix Rising.” Darn, I am a bit cynical. But wait, doesn’t SGM teach about the fact that all men (except pastors 🙂 have indwelling sin. So, maybe what we are seeing, and will see, reflects that quite accurately. Unfortunately for the leaders, it points directly at them. So, cynicism is warranted in this situation, I think.

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    To our loyal readers,

    I have just finished reading an insightful blog post by Virginia Knowles, a former member of the Sovereign Grace church in Orlando. About a year ago, this church experienced tremendous upheaval and it appears that hundreds of members have fled. Virginia’s post emphasizes the FEAR FACTOR that pervades SGM and keeps the sheep in line…

    Here’s the link:


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    In light of the current discussion, I highly recommend that you read the poem “MOM, SOMEONE’S AT THE DOOR!” linked in the following comment by Rachel on Josh Harris’ blog.

    “Rachel | July 9, 2011 3:56 AM | Reply

    It’s not only about restoration of a man who believes he has led people astray, it’s about the abundance of false leaders in the land and many are from the local churches. Are you one, Josh? Check out the criteria:


    Here is the link to Rachel’s comment regarding Josh’s post “Why CJ Mahaney is Taking a Leave of Absence”:


    I wonder whether this comment will be deleted like others in the past…

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    This information leaking out that someone posted is really sad. SGM is worse than I thought it was. I knew there were problems but had no idea it was this bad.

    One thing that might be helpful if someone can start going through these documents and start posting and summarizing some of the egregious actions being revealed in these document like Mahaney blackmailing Tomczak and the leaders cover up of this. I wish I had more time to do this myself.

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    Piper was not taught directly or held accountable by SGM. This was not where his “help” came from. He was held accountable by his fellow elders and a few of his closest friends. When the man lives behind you, you attend the church, and you attend the seminary, I feel like you know a bit more about the results of his sabbatical.

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    John Piper and C.J. Mahaney have had a longstanding friendship. In the days and weeks to come, we will be discussing the character (or lack thereof) of Piper’s great buddy CJ. Furthermore, it will be extremely interesting to observe how the Reformed Big Dawgs respond to the Mahaney debacle.

    As Steve 240 has pointed out in a previous comment, there is documentation on the internet that appears to indicate that Mahaney BLACKMAILED Larry Tomczak in order to elevate himself to the top of the PDI (now SGM) organization. We will be discussing this in an upcoming post.

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    Your previous comment is great. I think that better represents the facts about John Piper in the present rather than implying that his sabbatical ended with “nothing much changed.”

    I for one am quite surprised about SGM but at the same time do not doubt the documents and the entire situation. I am curious how Pastor John will share with the church and the seminary about SGM. I’m hoping this ordeal with SGM will lead to great prayer at Bethlehem.

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    I am praying that as John Piper and the Bethlehem Baptist Church congregation pray about this terrible ordeal, they will not neglect to pray for the MANY victims who have been abused by SGM’s hyper-authoritarian leadership.

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    The main reason for our mention of Piper is in relation to Mahaney. Piper is back-no problemos for his ministry. He is pastor, teacher, writer, etc. Mahaney would very much like to be in Piper’s position and may be attempting to use this approach. The comment did not reflect so much on Piper as upon why Mahaney is doing what he is doing. Speculation on Mahaney, nothing more.

    However, Piper has a problem. Mahaney is now in the headlights and Piper is one of his buddies. His response will be interesting. Does Piper show more interest in Mahaney or in those many, many people who have been hurt?

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    I think that many people will be focusing on various aspects of these serious issues. My guess is that those who were hurt at various time periods will be highlighting those issues. We will be looking at a few as well. Can you imagine ALL of the problems brought out by these documents!? If even half are true, it is very, very bad.

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    I am an outsider, but I am jealous for the honor and glory of GOD, and want to see Christ genuinely worshipped, not reproached, in this world. I love my brothers and sisters and weep and hurt for them.

    I hope and pray that as a result of this shameful, Christ-dishonoring scandal…. the whole starry-eyed, celebrity obsessed, carnally driven phenomenon that is nothing more than the “cult of personality,” (1Cor. 1), and has finally proven to be a facade and is completely leavened–is laid waste permanently. I hope people have truly become sick of exalting these men. I am not saying you can’t respect and honor godly, proven, leaders that GOD has truly given as gifts to HIS Church….. many of them I admire and have learned from (*not SGM and CJ Mahaney*) through books, ITunes, etc., but people have to remeber that they are fallible, have “feet of clay,” and are no more special to the LORD than ANY dear believer (Gal. 2:6). There is ONLY one mediator–Christ Jesus.

    I sure have had my own disappointments and betrayals, and that even recently, so I grieve along with these brothers and sisters. I am a Calvinistic Christian, doctrinally, but I am NOT a “Calvinista” or a “Pharisee.”

    I pray that the sheep of GOD, who hear Christ, DO NOT let these “superstar leaders” sweep this under the rug. Anything less than permanent disqualification for these men, directly involved, would not be evidence of genuine repentance, and that would only be the beginning.

    I would like to see the “Body of Christ,” represented in every local fellowship, become ONLY interested in looking to the Lord Jesus, not self-absorbed men, diverting all the praise to HIM and building one another up in love…..bearing each other’s burdens and thereby fulfilling the “Law of Christ”……… I desire to see the Church employing the gifts that GOD gives each member through the Spirit……building authentic and safe communities that are NOT constantly enriching themselves, but distributing the wealth (spiritual and material) as the Holy Spirit leads…….. and boldly, with love taking the Gospel to the “world”…….and that in our local communities, first, visiting widows and orphans, having compassion on the less affluent………..remembering that we are all sinners who have bben made to become, by grace, priests before GOD in Christ. The ground is indeed “level at the foot of the Cross.”

    I have to remember that the LORD has reserved unto Himself, many, who have refused to bow the knee to the Baal’s of our culture. I pray that I am one.

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    I can’t help but wonder how recent revelations about Mahaney will impact attendance, not to mention book sales, at Together for the Gospel next April.

    It will be fascinating to see what Mohler, Dever, Piper, Duncan, and MacArthur do to restore their “teammate”.

    Here they are hamming it up in the new arena in Louisville.


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    For those of you interested in joining the Sharper Iron website, it might be worth considering per their discussion thread on Mahaney’s resignation. Many participants are Reformed sycophants and blind followers of Piper, Mahaney and anything Gospel Coalition/T4G.

    Now the Admin and Mods are not necessarily this way, I am referring to some of its participants and they might benefit from the the service of detailed information some of you have. It interesting to watch some simply find themselves unable to concede anything in the matter. One of my responses in the thread linked to the Mahaney Money Machine article by Wartburg and of course SMGSurvivors.

    I am wondering what spin or lecture about the ungodliness of whistle blowing that Phil Johnson is going to give over at Pyromaniacs or will they be like the rest of the Neo-Calvinist, Neo-Charismatic, Neo-Puritan, Neo-Reformed and look the other way hoping it goes away from being discussed in rapid fashion.

    And this truly does call into question the judgment of Dever and Mohler (I’d include Piper but that is a given already). This happened right under their noses as they partnered with this man and they saw nothing for all these years? If they missed this what else are they missing (yeah I know, it is highly unlikely they were missing anything which makes it all the more alarming)?

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    I will do as you suggested and visit the blogs. On Monday, I will be doing a post on cognitive dissonance which is our attempt to explain why so many are rising to his defense. Read our current post, written 2 YEARS ago in which we raised questions about Mahaney.

    There is one other issue regarding this crowd. They must hang together. It is part of their patriarchal theology. It is inconceivable that one of their own could be so wrong. In fact, I bet there are hidden bodies in the lives of some of the ones you have mentioned. My counterpart will be doing a piece on Mark Dever and Mahaney which should shed some light on the matter.

    God will not be mocked and He is shining a light so that all may see. Those who do not may need to do some serious evaluation of their understanding of the faith and sin.

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    Thanks for your recommendation to read the article from 2 years ago and your continued work.

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    Thank you for your kindness. Both of us having been roundly criticized by some mega and some minor pastors for our criticism through the years. We still remember one guy quoting that Mahaney was beloved by Piper, Mohler, Driscoll and on and on. Then he made fun of us”so what’s wrong with this picture” obviously meaning that we were nobodies. My counterpart will remind him of this in a coming post.
    With that, I am,
    A nobody that was right

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    Dee: “We still remember one guy quoting that Mahaney was beloved by Piper, Mohler, Driscoll and on and on.”

    Many sought to reassure skeptics that Driscoll had “repented” of past “mistakes” by touting the fact that he was being mentored by Piper and Mahaney.


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    Over at The Gospel Coalition website, Justin Taylor published a post on July 7th entitled “C.J. Mahaney: Why I’m Taking a Leave of Absence”.


    Although Taylor allows for comments on all of his blog posts, the comments on this particular post have been CLOSED.

    After republishing the letters written by Mahaney and Harvey, Taylor admonishes his readers with these words:

    “If I could offer one short word here: information like this can be difficult to process because you’re not sure what to do with it. I think our natural temptation is to speculate and to gossip, which ultimately accomplishes nothing but destruction.”

    I guess Mahaney was predestined to take a temporary leave of absence from SGM, much to the dismay of his like-minded cohorts. However, the Calvinistas can’t circle the wagons forever. Looking forward to “observing” how they deal with this grave matter.

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    The Gospel Coalition and Justin Taylor prove once again why women have more chutzpah then the girly men who run certain blogs. They need to cover up the problems with Mahaney because they were his main cheerleaders (girly style).

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    Given you reference to Piper in the title of this post, I believe it’s worth mentioning that Justin Taylor once worked for Desiring God. His bio states:


    “I work at Crossway in Wheaton, IL, where I’ve been since 2006. Prior to that I worked at Desiring God in Minneapolis, MN.”

    He also mentions that he serves on the board for the Desiring God Foundation.

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    Dee, I just wanted to make a comment on your review of CJ’s book Living the Cross Centered Life – comments seem to be closed on that page.

    (1) CJ was raised as a catholic and they obviously emphasise Christ on the cross

    (2) A focus on the cross and our sin, to the neglect of the resurrection, is common amongst reformed evangelicals. I’ve seen statements of faith that include all sorts of calvinist stuff but barely mention the resurrection. It’s unbiblical and harmful.

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    Thanks for your comment. You make two very important points. Also, have you ever noticed that CJ almost exclusively refers to Jesus Christ as the “Savior”? What’s your take on that? Why can’t CJ say “Jesus”?

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    Wrote a note on SGM’s blog yesterday, basically stating that this isn’t the first “repentance show” I’ve seen from C.J. Guess it didn’t pass the moderator’s watchful eye. 🙂

    PS. Sent you a mail yesterday (or day before) using blog email link … just wondering if you got it.

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    Thank you so much for linking to my blog. Before you take time to disparage my thoughts on C.J., please note that when I wrote those, I only took C.J.’s remarks at face value, having no knowledge of the significant backstory that had been accumulating for 15+ years. I know it may have been convenient to find a blog to use to make a point about those who are blindly following C.J.

    Do not count me among those. Knowing what I know now (if you had read my follow-up comments with that post, you would see this), Mahaney needs help and needs to be away from this ministry for a significant amount of time, if not for good.

    This is the first time I have come across your blog. For all I know, you may be doing a good work here. Just before you quote someone, get the whole story. You might be surprised what you find out.

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    I suspect that Josh Harris’ apology of a few weeks back was a forerunner to CJ’s, i.e., perhaps discussions were well underway as to how and when CJ’s apology and leave were to take place, and Josh’s apology was timed to “prime the pump” for CJ’s. Or am I being too cynical?

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    See? I am totally out of the loop. What was the nature of Josh’s apology?

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    Speaking of Josh Harris, he quoted Russell Moore on his blog in late May. While I have been known to criticize “Mr. Patriarchy” here at TWW, I find these words prophetic regarding Mahaney and his ilk.


    “Personal Empires Will Fall”

    “If you are in Christ, God will not allow you to enter his reign with a kingdom-grasping pride. You will be stripped of every haughty look, every personal empire, in order that you might enter as a little child, looking for a Father’s inheritance. This will come either through personal repentance, learning to humble yourself, or by God’s humbling you through his working it out in your life to knock down your empire so that you can be found in his.”

    – Russell D. Moore, Tempted and Tried, page 148

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    Matthew Perry,

    Welcome to The Wartburg Watch. So much has been unfolding this week with regard to C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries that it’s hard to keep up. Nevertheless, we are doing our best here at TWW.

    I read your follow-up comment on your blog explaining that you hadn’t seen the hundreds of pages of correspondence compiled by Brent Detweiller. It’s hard to believe that CJ managed to hold onto the reins of SGM for as long as he did.

    To get you up to speed on Josh Harris, he issued a quasi apology on May 22, 2011 to the Covenant Life Church congregation. That’s what Junkster was referring to. You can find it at this link:


    Thanks for chiming in, and I hope you will continue to read and comment. I’ll be checking in over at your blog as well.

    Since you’re new here, our blog’s primary focus is spiritual abuse. That’s why SGM is often discussed in this forum.

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    Junkster, after what I read this week from sgmwikileaks, there’s no such thing as “being too cynical” about SGM machinations. The dance of deception practiced by C.J. over 10 years, and the similar dance of Harvey and Emerson as they tightened the noose on Detwiler, leave no room for cynicism.

    Anything you can imagine them doing to arrange a favorable or humble appearance is not only possible but likely.

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    LIked the idea. Thinking about how to manage it. Bit busy-will get back in a couple of days.

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    Let me do this. I will attach your comment as an addendum to the end of the post with today’s date. Glad you “saw the light.”

    We were looking for quick comments on the Mahaney situation and yours came up. I assumed that you knew about his history when you posted that comment. So, be forewarned. It is sometimes hard to “eat your words.” We have had to do it here.

    As you can tell, we have been on Mahaney’s tail for 2 years and we are not, not have we ever been, members of one of his churches, thank heavens! We are religious junkies and enjoy following trends such as the Mahaney machine.

    Ah, Josh Harris apology…You know, this story gets better and better.

    We wish you well on your blog and hope we can share info in the future.

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    Cynical? After all this stuff? I have been cynical of Mahaney for a few years. Seems like it was warranted.So, if it is based in truth, is cynicism or perspicacious? I think the latter. Junkster is perspicacious-has a nice ring.

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    Sorry about the comments being closed. i forgot to open them since tis was a reprint from 2 years ago. I shall remedy that immediately. Your comments are spot on and I will cut and paste them under that post. Amen on the harmful stuff. Have you read what has gone on in SGM?? Good night!

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    Well said!

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    This is a test of true men. If they blow this off, they show their true colors. If the attempt to put Mahaney back in place, they prove this has nothing to do with Christianity, it’s secular control pure and simple. Instead of stealing people’s money like Bernie Madoff, they steal people’s trust and faith.

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    No problems, glad you like the idea. I consolidated my blogging to a single new blog. Feel free to take a peek .. maybe just a shared link to each others would work.



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    Dee said…
    Junkster is perspicacious

    And you and your blog co-host are pulchritudinous.

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    You’re too funny! Where’s that picture you once posted of us?

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    The more I pour over the comments of the injured sheep, “wikileaks,” various websites………….with all of the *betrayal* and and “soap opera” like *intrigue*……… it really appears that those in the “heirarchy” of SGM are not only disqualified, but possibly, unregenerate, and only very “religious” men. They appear to be extremely controlled by the “flesh,” yet driven by such a faulty view of how sanctification works out, rather than being alarmed at their insidious lust for authority, and seeming incessant sniveling about “sin”………. their theology, in practice, seems to normalize and solidify it in their minds–deluding and deceiving them.

    The callousness of the so-called “shepherds” toward the multitudes of hurting sheep…… I mean that is bad fruit enough to indict them…..I have seen it, experienced it, and am always just left shaking my head in dismay. Without the foundational, Holy Spirit produced, virtue of love, you have no genuine Christianity (1 John).

    If I believed that this in any way was representative of the true “Church,” or that CHRIST was not risen, I would join a mortorcycle gang or something. People play their games like there is no reckoning day. They act as though “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” is the reality. Indeed it is *cognitive dissonance*!

    I am, however, thankful for the word of the LORD, and that HE is calling out men and women for HIS Name’s sake, making them new creations, remaining faithful to HIS own ……. “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

    I am amazed (not surprised) how those in the “movement,” with that much access to Truth, in so many ways, could mistake such slavery to fear for Biblical Christianity….allowing themselves to be cheated out of rejoicing in their priviledge of being adopted by the Father. People must guard their liberty in Christ, as Paul admonished, in Galatians 5:1. Refuse to be men-pleasers and only obey Christ. We who are in a position to see more clearly, only see what we see, by the grace of GOD, alone.

    Romans 8:28-39 is great to remember in these treacherous times.

    The “ministries” that these men control and profit from are the gonna be the biggest impediment to genuine repentance. I pray that the Holy Spirit of GOD moves on many. Who knows what GOD is pleased to do, and the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified despite our, often-times, short sightedness. We could see true revival! I pray all involved truly find a place of repentance with tears.

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    I know you have revised what you said about Mathew Perry and am glad to see that you did.

    I had some email correspondence with him right after the information was posted and alerted him to this fact. He was quite open to hearing about this and modifying his view based on this new information. It was quite refreshing the brief discussion I had with him compared to other bloggers that aren’t open to new information and just dont want to believe just how hypocritical Mahaney was even when there is now documentation that shows this.

    There has also been some great discussion on his blog.

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    Thanks for your thoughtful comment and for reaching out to Matthew P. with the new information that became available on the internet. So glad Matthew is more open-minded that those whom we have labeled “Calvinistas” (not your traditional Calvinists). Sooner or later they’re going to have to address the Mahaney debacle. I believe the longer they delay the more it will hurt their cause.

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    You said: “I believe the longer they delay the more it will hurt their cause.”

    Interesing point. That may be true. With the wagon circling I am reading about and SGM convincing their members to read the released documents to be “gossip” seems to be keeping a number of members eyes closed to the harsh reality.

    Maybe the longer they delay openly admitting and repenting of this the great the possibility of the group collapsing. From what I hear there are even more documents out there.

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    So has anything really changed with John Piper? Has he withdrawn, for example, his teaching that wives being abused by their husband should just bear it for a season? It sounds like Business As Usual to me.

    Seriously, though, all these Calvinistas have problems with women. It’s a fundamental issue with these guys but it doesn’t get addressed in a radical way by other believers (of which I am NOT one anymore) because treating women as equals with men is simply not part and parcel of evangelical Protestant Christianity.

    *shrug* Not my problem anymore, just pointing it out.

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    Regarding Adrian Warnock, similar accusations have been levelled – in the past – against New Frontiers.

    The same pattern is evident, apostolic pulling of rank, people being made to feel guilty about not supporting leaders, pastors being de-gifted etc.

    I actually think it stems from the charismatic world view both movements adopt. It’s no coincidence that they’ve ended up with similarly authoritarian structures. After all, if an unspecified anointing is all that qualifies you for headship, then the head person – over time – will be the person who can browbeat the rest into thinking he is the most anointed.

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    Here’s an account of something similar happening in a New Frontiers church. It is virtually identical – in many respects – to some of the goings-on detailed at the various SGM sites, in fact just change a few details and you would have identical stories:


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    Here is what Brett Detwiler posted on his Facebook page about SGM’s/Mahaney’s statement.

    On Wednesday, C.J. posted the following. “Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace.”

    This was a terribly misleading statement by my friend. For many years, men who worked with C.J. tried to help him see his pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgments, and hypocrisy.

    The input C.J. received started in December 2000 and did not come from former pastors and leaders who leveled charges against him because they were offended.

    I hate to say it, but this is an example of Sovereign Grace spin and it was one important reason why I sent out “The Documents” on Wednesday night to all the SGM pastors.

    C.J.’s Blog: http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/cj-mahaney/post/Why-Im-taking-a-leave-of-absence.aspx

    The Documents: http://www.scribd.com/sgmwikileaks/info

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    Chris Stiles,

    Thanks for your comments about New Frontiers. I wrote a post about this ministry last year.


    Also, you might be interested in reading this related article:


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    Totally off topic, but it was funny and wanted to share..

    What is a cow’s favourite love song?
    “When I fall in love, it will be for heifer”

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    Thanks for the humor. We could really use some of that about now.

    Looking forward to sharing that joke with my family.

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    Deb, thanks for your link to my blog post. It’s been getting quite the traffic the past two days. Generally the comments there and in my inbox have been quite supportive, but there have been a few people who have taken me to task or asked to be taken off my e-mail list. I still have family in the local SGM church, and have yet to hear how this morning went.

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    Dee, Deb,

    I hesitate to pass this along, but can’t resist. I know of your love of reading and I’m fearful we shall never see you again once you head into this E-library but…

    This is a list of links to online ancient Christian, Jewish, Assyrian, etc. documents. In general there is an online free version to read. They are links from a site called Paleo-Judaica…take a peek


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    I was happy to feature the link to your post here. It was extremely insightful, and I’m so glad others are reading it.

    I am sorry some have objected to what you wrote and are distancing themselves from you. I pray that in the not too distant future they will see the error of their ways and discover God’s truth.

    Blessings to you.

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    Get over yourself ‘Dee’. You’re full of shit!

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    Arrogant American Children

    Perhaps the shoe is on the other foot, AAC.

    Take note, folks. This is getting hot and I have decided to leave this up as an example of what is really going on behind the facade of righteousness. Well played, AAC!

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    Stay the course. We are now getting called strong names for those who claim to be so righteous compared to the rest of us poor slobs.

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    It seems that the blogger(s) over at “Vitamin Z” forbid dissenting opinions.

    Early this afternoon I read the July 7 post regarding C.J. Mahaney, which you can access here. http://takeyourvitaminz.blogspot.com/2011/07/cj-mahaney-writes-about-his-leave-of.html

    At that time there were 4 comments — three of which had been removed by a “blog administrator”. I decided to cut and paste the fourth comment into an e-mail I sent to myself in case it disappeared too. As predicted, it has now been “removed by a blog administrator”.

    Not to worry, here is EXACTLY what that fourth comment stated:


    “Anonymous said…

    What is to be learned from the post? humility? then can there be anything to learn from the released emails from men like Dave Harvey and Josh Harris that documents CJ’s deception in being held accountable… for 10 years? Or the documentation of when CJ blackmailed his co-founder? etc? These are facts in evidence? Will you just help cover this up and let SGM totally go down the tubes? Or will you let the truth be heard?


    12:10 PM”

    Hey Vitamin Z “administrators” – why are you afraid of the truth?

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    You are good!!!

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    An interesting post I found, entitled How to Talk to a Fundamentalist (If you must)…

    I seems somehow appropriate, given all the nastiness flying around.

    Here’s a short quote from the post, which I KNOW you’ll appreciate.

    “Have you engaged in an intelligent conversation with someone of the opposite sex? Fundamentalist women rarely talk to adult males other than their husbands. (I can’t resist adding here that it is questionable as to whether talking to patriarchal husbands qualifies as adult conversation.)”

    Here’s the link


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    Okay, laugh at me for this one (I know you usually disagree with my position)….but after reading a small part of the wikileaks documents, has anyone actually considered that CJ is a high functioning autistic person? That would totally explain the very giftedness in some ways and the total deficiencies in others. I have a son who is high functioning autistic/asperger’s, and some of the traits of CJ certainly remind me of what I personally know of dealing with an autistic person. It’s possible that CJ almost has an inability to deal correctly with things that require close social interaction, the black and white thinking, of being unable to deal with correction, etc.

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    Well, autism makes a better diagnosis than a deeply sinful character.

    However, he seems to be able to point out sin in everyone else with no problem. So, is there a form of autism that is restricted to self examination only?

    While on this note: borderline personality disorder maybe?

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    A very unique perspective. Ill to do a little research on both autism and aspergers syndrome but I look forward to it.

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    I don’t think it’s listed in the DSM-5 yet, but possibly the next upcoming version will list “fundamentalism” as a disease affecting an individual’s ability to see their own faults while retaining the perfect clarity of vision and soul searching required to point it out in others. 🙂

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    Oh believe me, autistic people love to point out the problems in everyone else. It’s part of the black and white thinking…that everyone must follow the “rules”.

    My son (while in elementary school) would literally throw himself under the desk and cry when other kids broke the rules. If the teacher extended grace to a student (for example, giving a kid in a spelling bee another chance at spelling a wrongly spelled word) my son would about have a cow because the rules clearly said “only one chance”. Perhaps autism could also explain some of the weird gestures while preaching?

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    Now you’ve got me looking into the mirror 🙂

    It’s a lot like ADHD (my affliction/blessing)…I feel like Monk! I mean in the sense that … well, I’d finish that thought…but the ADHD kicked in .. or is it just getting old…ah well…. ADHD and OCD what a combo!

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    While we’re psycho-analyzing everyone. Another thing that might be problematic for C.J., is that people who are extremely intelligent also have problems with rules, at least for themselves. They typically feel that rules are good for other people, but do not apply to me…

    It’s not so much that they view themselves as “above the law”, as it is an intellectual position of being able to correctly discern when breaking the rules is not only acceptable but the right thing to do…in other words, rules are there for people who are too stupid to figure out what to do without them.

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    All I can tell you is that I’ve lived with an autistic person for 20 years, and I am seeing similarities between CJ and an autistic person. I am not saying CJ isn’t accountable, or can be excused for doing wrong, but there could be reasons why he is exceptional in some areas and deficient in others.

    You can’t re-wire an autistic person’s brain. You can train them to a certain extent, and they can figure out ways to adapt their own behavior to try to be more “normal” or “accepted” but you can’t fundamentally change them.

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    Religious belief systems are largly the product of “spin” by their proponents. Augustine’s spin, Calvin’s spin, Piper’s, or Chuck Smith’s spin. All of them claim the authority of the Bible with black & white absolutism, and most of them hate & despise human freedom.

    What really puzzles me is how they (the priestly class) are able to do it. How are they able to draw people into an unquestioned spiritual regime which slowly strips them of their humanity?

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    Another set of spin about theological systems is that that is put forward by the opponents. E.g., “open theism” has been characterized by the Calvinists and Calvinistas in such a way that many of the theologians and philosophers who lean toward a God that responds to prayer!!!! are reluctant to write about that idea — they do not want to be attacked as heretics who deny the Bible, even though there is scriptural support in the teachings of JESUS that God will respond to prayer and change what happens to us as a result.

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    With Mahaney still not coming terms to seeing all the sin he has done and having been comfortable living with his actions such as blackmail for 14 years, I wonder if Mahaney might be a sociopath. From what little I have heard, sociopaths aren’t all what one normally thinks of as a sociopath.

    Even Josh Harris indicated in Sunday morning’s message that Mahaney still hasn’t seen all of his sin yet. Aren’t some of these the characteristics of sociopaths?

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    Narcissistic personality disorder is seen in many pastors because they can go into the ministry and have a bunch of people follow them unquestioningly. However, when question arise, they go nuts-see Mac Brunson-FBC Jax.

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    Love Tom over at FBC Jax. 🙂

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    Hmmm, maybe I’ve misjudged you…

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    Interesting post regarding CJ Mahaney. I must say if the accusations are true that they are troubling, yet not surprising due to the pervasiveness of living in a fallen world. That being said, I would like to point out a couple of observations. Wartburgwatch I do have some real concern that no matter what C.J. Mahaney did to demonstrate repentance that you would not accept it. We cannot live in an atmosphere of questioning everyone’s motives continually. However, I must admit that I have been burned by the evangelical church in the past as well, and feel a deep sense of frustration that this had not been dealt with, yet we must create an atmosphere of grace that will demonstrate God’s kindness and lead others who have sinned as shepherds to repentance.

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    You appear to have so much grace for Mahaney; yet you fail to mention the multitude of victims who have been greatly harmed by him. Where is your compassion for them?

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    This blog exists to reach out to those who have been deeply harmed by the church. On one hand, we have Mahaney who, of course, will be a recipient of God’s grace. On the other hand, we have an untold multitude who have been harmed by SGM. Sorry if our thoughts are centered on those who won’t have all the big boys fawning over them, helping them to be restored. I doubt if John Piper will spend more than a split second thinking about all those harmed.

    This reminds me of a pastor who spent all sorts of time testifying on behalf of a sicko child pornography guy, being all so concerned about giving him grace and never once mentioning the hundreds of little children crying for their mommies and being raped so this guy could get his jollies.

    Shepherds are held to a higher standard and that is why their betrayal is so bad.

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    Compassion for one person, does not imply lack of compassion for others (those hurt). Sometimes I think that we just don’t want to lose sight of the perpetrator being a human being in our efforts to minister to the victims. It doesn’t imply the those hurt should be helped less, just that we want to make sure everyone remembers that everyone involved needs care.

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    I have a ton of compassion for those who have been hurt and wounded by this man. As I mentioned before I have been massively wounded by the evangelical church. Much of this has been at the hands of control freak over-authoritarian individuals. I have spent hundreds of hours in counseling for this and have discovered for mysel and for helping others heal who have been wounded that until we desire for our abusers/perpetrators to experience God’s grace we will never fully be healed. This does not mean we forget about the evil they have done or that we don’t support structures (legal and ecclesistical) that can discipline the sinning leader, but it does mean that we are not truly on the road to healing until we desire to see the indivdual reconciled to their creator. We cannot adopt some sick hyper-calvinist position that causes us to ultimately desire hell for an individual. As the Psalmist modeled we must work through our anger (righteous in some cases) and move toward a trust that God will do what is right. Of course we can pray the impecatory psalms toward our enemies, but a failure to want them to experience God’s grace shows more of our own sinfulness than nything else. Jesus told us to pray for those who persecute us nd to love our enemies. I know this my cuse n initial visceral response in our hearts, but Jesus intends this for our own good. We must not allow the perpetrator to define our exisitance. May God grant you much wisdom and grace as you minister to hurting people and may you have wisdom to know what speaking the truth i love looks like in any situation. May God indeed use your ministry to bring true healing to hundreds if not thousands of hurt and wounded believers.


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    I am sorry you have been harmed by hyper-authoritarianism, and I pray that you will be fully restored. If you go all the way back to the beginning of our blog, you will discover that it was this ungodly behavior exhibited by so-called men of God that motivated us to launch The Wartburg Watch. We have done our best to shine the light in dark places, and Sovereign Grace Ministries seems to be the poster child for hyper-authoritarianism at its worst.

    My prayer for C.J. Mahaney, who appears to have perfected sin-sniffing, is that he will finally own his own sins. I also pray that he will experience God’s grace and mercy.

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    I have to say how woefully ignorant I am of all of these various scandals and nonsense. I’ve been a part of the House Church movement for several years now so I don’t get the ‘celeb-preacher’ problems that one may find in a bigger mainline institutional church. I adopted the internet moniker of “The Calvinista” several years ago because I wanted to take a ‘revolutionary stance’ when dealing with folks who, as Alister McGrath rightly states, instead of fanning the flames of the Reformation are content with guarding the ashes. I’m a Calvinist but hold to other, what I tend to consider secondary issues, that keep me vilified in Reformed/Calvinistic circles. One of many reasons I find myself in a House Church, no doubt. We don’t all agree with one another, but we can certainly see what issues are secondary and those that are primary. ;o)

    I find your blog incredibly fascinating and now have it bookmarked.


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    This is truly funny. We came up with the “calvinista” moniker a few years back to differentiate between Calvinists and those who are Calvinist+++. Marked by devotion secondary doctrines, etc and who are so 100% sure that they are right and everyone else is wrong and most likely shouldn’t even call themselves Christians.

    I have a dear friend who is like you and I enjoy his company. And ,he is most respectful of my point of view and we have lively discussions. I am back in a church that allows for differences yet still holds to a conservative theology.

    I am most interested in the House CHurch movement. Have you ever thought about writing about why you attend one? We would love to post something like that.


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    Do not get us wrong. We believe that God will bring grace to even the greatest sinner. But, due to their profile, people like CJ will get thousands of people fawning over him. Already Al Mohler has risen to his defense. The rest are sure to follow. CJ will get more speaking engagements and more books and more money out of his little show of “humility.” HIs high profile friends will gather round him and will begin to sing his praises.

    Mohler did no mention, even once, the thousands hurt by the “ministry” of this man. I choose to focus on the faceless thousands who will not have the ministrations of the likes of Al Mohler. The fact that these harmed will not even get a nod shows the corruption of the faith by self-assured, self-righteous men who will continue to hound the faithful, putting burdens on them like the Pharisees of old. God did save some of the pharisees, there was this guy named Paul.. But remember what happened to Paul for leaving the system of the Pharisees? He was martyred.

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    I just might do that. Once I get my educational pursuits into a state of summation finally and thus get more time to tend my blog over at ‘revelife’ I will certainly indulge that idea.

    I’d be honored to share in your blogtastic yumminess. ;o)

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    I’m an old school, Confessional, educated Anglican. I don’t travel in the Baptyerian, Baptacostal, or Anabaptist worlds, churches, conferences or blogs. Mixing that perspective with these world, well, see my recent effort in a Pentecostalist hothouse at: http://reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/2011/07/justin-taylor-gospel-coalition-on-cj.html#uds-search-results

    Having said that and not wishing to discuss the theology of it, I’ve begun to follow the trail on Mr. C.J. Mahaney. I’ve linked to TWW and the two SGM survivor blogs. I’ve watched Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan come out prematurely, perhaps immaturely, if not forceably in behalf of Mr. Mahaney. We’ll see if Mr. Piper follows suit in the circle-the-wagons-effort since, in my opinion, he envisions himself as one of the “Gray-haired Shepherds,” or “Archbishops,” of a wider evangelicalism. By the way, neither Mr. Mohler nor Mr. Duncan have any jurisdiction in my realms.

    I will attempt to read everything at TWW (a task) as well as the other two sites.

    Here’s my take that needs from review from the specialists here: hyper-abusiveness, neo-Puritanism navel-gazing, “speaking a word into other lives” (charismata) with force without self-correction, hypocrisy, and willful blindness to lawful correction by others. Not to mention the point about blackmail.

    My point in this post? Is this the essential guide to the issues? That is, is the above paragraph a good summary? If not, where can it be augmented? Clarified?

    Thanks for the work you do to shed light on abusive Pastor-parishioner relationships.

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    Awesome post. At some point, I would love to share your observations. Please let me know if that would be alright.

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    Amen, again and again. A reformed Anglican? And one who holds your views? Fascinating. Will wonders never cease!

  99. Pingback: Sovereign Grace and Pastoral Authority « Questions 4 Christians

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    Excellent article. However, I wouldn’t blame the Reformed/Calvinist theology for this aberration. The blame lies with the charismatic movement. It’s no secret that Sovereign Grace Ministries is a charismatic church.

    I disagree with the modern neo-Calvinists because they are more semi-Arminian ecumenicalists than Calvinist. They can’t decide if common grace is an Arminian doctrine or a Calvinist doctrine. Go figure.

    I was an Arminian and a Pentecostal/Charismatic for over 10 years. I’ve seen and experienced the spiritual abuses which are rampant in that movement. The Shepherding Movement is just the tip of the iceberg.


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    Piper is an advocate of the New Perspectives on Paul, although he has flat out lied about his doctrine of “future” justification and the connection to Daniel Fuller, his professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, California.

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    Though I visit churches that “operate in the gifts” a few times a year, I have not been a part of Charismatic or Pentecostal churches for more than ten years. I grew up in Assemblies of God which is both Arminian and Pentecostal and spent more than another ten years in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches while making a transition out of Arminian beliefs into a balanced perspective that Calvinist writings (particularly Sproul’s) provided. I spent a solid four years, up to my neck, in shepherding.

    I believe that you misunderstand the nature of spiritual abuse if you think it is a denomination that is responsible for the problems at Sovereign Grace. The beliefs are not responsible — it is the methods used by men who use a virtuous endpoint to justify questionable means.

    Spiritual abuse can also be described using Robert Lifton’s thought reform criteria. Amway can use it. A political group can use it. And the very same dynamics used to manipulate people in shepherding and in sovereign grace are the very same dynamics used to manipulate Nazi Germany.

    On a broad scale, thought reform is the works of the flesh when they are employed to manipulate a group of people. The errors and abuse come about not because of what a group believes but because of the methods used to achieve that group’s objectives. Solid and orthodox beliefs certainly help, and they do help guard against error. Heterodoxy does lead to heteropraxy eventually. But doctrine is no shield against the works of the flesh when leaders employ works to accomplish the ends that on the Holy Spirit can. It’s not about the doctrine. It’s about the method and the means — and that’s thought reform, the method and means of any group seeking ideological totalism.

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    Could you please elaborate? This sounds interesting.

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    How then do you account for Al Mohler in this mess? He is certainly not charismatic and had no association with the shepherding movement.

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    Dear Dee:
    I could not find a place to e-mail a comment on your 2010 post of “Binding Satan” so I will take this post to place my thoughts.

    You seem to be a very discerning person, with apparently a lot of knowledge due to research, reading, etc.

    What I found amazing in your post was your quotes from a character (who you label your favorite character) in the TV Show “The Office.” I don’t watch the show, but I also do my research. I cannot understand why a show that displays sexual immorality, homosexuality, coarse language, sexual innuendo is such a hit with “Christians.” I cannot find a scripture in the Bible, unless the poor excuse of ‘living under grace’ or ‘being relevant’ is used, that can justify this sort of viewing. Is this not the world? I would appreciate immensely if you would take some time and search scripture to let me know where in scripture we are encouraged to this sort of entertainment? I can find countless scriptures that advise differently i.e. have nothing to do with the evil deeds of darkness, set nothing vile before your eyes, think on what is pure, holy, etc., do not love the world or anything in the world, etc, etc. For the life of me I cannot even imagine sitting down with Christ and watching and laughing at this behavior for which He died. It seems as if ‘Christians’ believe that there is some safety with the TV screen even though most of them wouldn’t allow this behavior in their own home let alone in their presence. “Avoid even the appearance of evil.”

    I look forward to your answer.

    IN Him,
    Jean Selden

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    i can assure you that I will not answer this to your satisfaction. You have given me an impossible task. I must avoid every appearance of evil. Here is my question. Who is making the judgment of what constitutes an evil appearance? For example, Peter Lumpkin would say if I have a glass of wine, that gives an appearance of evil. Many in the IFB would say if I wear pants, I give an appearance of evil. Others would say if I work outside of the home, I am evil.Then there are the evils of dancing, cards, rock music, contemporary Christian music and going to Disney Worl

    Did you know that Shakespeare’s plays have characters involved in illicit affairs? Then, there is the problem with all of the operas out there.Have you ever listened to the themes? Even the Bible has issues. There was the little incident in which a guy cut up his concubine in 12 pieces. Today in the newspaper, I read of a guy who did this to his former wife so i guess I shouldn’t red the newspaper. Did you know that CS Lewis featured a witch in the Chronicles of Narnia? And so does Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. No more Heigh Ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work i go…

    Jean, I am actively involved in engaging my culture. My cohort and I have frequent letters to the editor published on issues of faith. In order to engage my culture, it is helpful to have common points in which i can relate to those who do not share a common knowledge of the Bible. The Office is one of those shows with which just about everybody has a working knowledge. One can use the characters and situations to build conversations.

    Now, onto the characters. Dwight is the dork that everyone knows. His desperate wish to be “in charge” reminds me of some SGM leaders. Michael, the boss, is desperately insecure and is annoying but wants so much to be loved and accepted. Then there is Angela, the hypocritical Christian who pretends she is moral but is just as sinful as the rest of them. Do you see yourself in this assessment? I see myself. Then there is Creed-the really weird guy that you find in any group. And Andy, the Ivy Leaguer who dresses as the ultimate prepster but is now stuck selling paper. How many of us have not had our dreams work out for us.

    Jean, I think the answer is found in how you approach everything you do. I see things in this show that you don’t see just like I see things in other “nonChristian” things. Did you know I became a Christian during an episode of Star Trek? There are all sorts of ungodly things in that show but so many uplifting things as well.
    Hope this helps.

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    Our contact page is down because we are adding to the blog. It will be up by tomorrow.

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    Thank you for your honest response. I have to agree with you as I did give you an ‘impossible task,’ as my question to you was how you could line your viewing habits up with scripture. I did not ask for your opinion, nor does my opinion matter. We are dealing with the issue of good versus evil. My challenge to you was to view you behavior in light of God’s Holy Word. Paul states that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Where in scripture does it tell us to ‘sit in the seat of mockers’ and connect with what the world does in order to spread the gospel. Your excuses for your tv viewing fall flat. You insinuation that I might be like the hypocrite on the Office was quite a stretch. I have never been accused of being a hypocrite. I am fully aware of my capacity of any sort of sin, but believe that God commands us to avoid all sin, to test all things and to cling to what is good. There is nothing good about The Office. It is the world’s view of society’s behavior and Christians, in frightening numbers, are laughing along with them.

    I would like to make my statement again but in a question format–Would Jesus sit down with you and watch this program or any other tv sitcom that mocks Christians, laughs at sexual immorality, and makes light of homosexual behavior?

    The Church has lost the fear of the Lord and that is where wisdom begins. It is a sad day when someone who spends hours exposing others sins doesn’t feel an obligation to rise above the riffraff of this world.

    I hope you will take this opportunity to stop defending yourself. There is no excuse for what you do in the sight of a Holy, awesome, God. We are told to be Christlike. We are to be like Him. That is what impacts the world–not sidling up with them in their viewing of sin and laughing at it and using it as an excuse for witnessing. You seem to think that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are lacking in the ability to convert souls. They are and always will be more than enough. Our impact on this world is not being like them, but unlike them with love.

    If you would like to respond to me with Scriptures to support your viewpoint, I would love to reason with you.

    Otherwise, I hope that you will take this time to ask youself if anything that I have said is right and maybe God might be wanting you to raise the bar.

    Jean Selden

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    I said that we are all hypocrites, myself included.

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    What sort of a church do you attend? It might be helpful for me to better understand you.

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    Those are interesting questions that you ask. You said “For the life of me I cannot even imagine sitting down with Christ and watching and laughing at this behavior for which He died.” Then I ask, WHAT sin, then, would YOU, Jean, consider okay to sit down with Christ and commit? You must also understand that sin isn’t defined by your own views and what you think is wrong. Some would say being in a room with a prostitute is giving the appearance of evil. But Christ did that. In His time, being alone or talking to a woman standing by a well was seen as “sinful” and wrong, especially for that culture. There are many things that people saw as sin during Christ’s time that he did that was revolutionary, and yet, he did them. He sat with these people. He “entertained” them or they “entertained” him.

    If I were to follow you around day to day, Jean, I’m sure I could come up with thousands of things that would possibly be considered sin–especially the things that you probably think you are doing that aren’t. I’m sure I could pick apart any form of entertainment you’d take part in, whether music, television, art, reading/literature, and find imperfections and sin in it. Because, you see, there is NOTHING perfect that is created by man that is without spot or blemish. Even the books in our so-called Christian bookstores are full of spot and wrinkle. Just because they don’t curse, have gay characters, or have sex scenes, doesn’t mean that they don’t offend God.

    I would ask you that any and everything that you do, even down to the food you eat, would it have been allowed in the temple, in the Holy of Holies? If your answer is no. Then there it is. Because a pure and Holy God is so perfect and immeasurably pure, NOTHING that’s NOT him could stand in his presence– not your Christian books, not your Bibles that have mistranslations (like the one you’re reading where it is suggested by other theologians is wrong concerning giving the appearance of evil vs. abstaining from DOING evil.) Nothing could stand in that moment. So you must look at all that you do, see, think, act, behave, watch, read, eat, EVERYTHING and consider would it have been acceptable there–behind the veil. I can assure you it will be an emphatic No! If you say yes, then hmmm… I’d question your judgment.

    True, all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. But what’s beneficial to one person may not be to another. And so as we are all different, and different things affect us differently, we have freedom to discover what that might be. God has not specifically said that The Office is sinful to watch. Therefore, a person is free to judge for themselves and ask, will the content of this show cause me to 1. think untrue things about God? 2. accept behaviors or ways of life that is contrary to Scripture, or 3. cause me to sin in some particular way where I may also have weakness.

    Me, I can look at a Victoria’s Secret commercial and not think one thing about it. It’s permissible for me. It’s not causing me to sin or think sinfully, or accept that I should show my body in public in that way. I say eh, and brush it off. My brother, on the other hand, it could lead him to a totally different place. Permissible for us both to view television, but one of us may need to be cautious about different things we watch so that they do not lead us to sin. It’s going to be different for everyone.

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    And also, just to make my point clear… I think it’s when Christians decide to pick a certain behavior, especially behaviors or actions that aren’t explicitly spelled out in Scripture and think it sinful, they abstain from it, and yet, they think everyone else should too. If you don’t make that big of a deal about other “little” sins that you might know about, then it doesn’t help to tell someone “hey, you shouldn’t watch that show. THAT’s sinful.” Well, Jean, so many things are. And so many things YOU DO are. And so do you make a huge deal about all of the many sins in your life, that I’m sure you know equally grieve the Lord. If something is sin, it grieves God. Period. Why pick out certain sins and say hey, but this one here, it’s REALLY wrong. I could say, Hey Jean, every moment you are not taking care of the orphan, widow or foreigner in your town, you are sinning. God commanded that you do that. And so forth and so on.

    I don’t like it when other Christians make a huge deal out of wearing pants, wearing makeup, women preaching, watching television or a certain tv show, or doin this or that thing–when they are simply sinners. You can’t pick and choose which sins are worse and harp on others who commit them. You obviously think watching the office is sinful. And yet, I argue, that’s your opinion. Some things are completely subjective and not everyone will define it the way that you will and apply some Scripture to it the way that you have.

    Honestly, I’d rather my husband (I’m single BTW) watch the office, than watch one of these Reformed Big Dogs preach on some conference and talk about his authority over me, his right to rule over me, and that I, by nature, am second to men. Those lies are HUGE sins to me. I think I’d be better off if my future man watched The Office. Jus’ sayin’

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    Actually, it is an overt sin of omission to eat large meals when there are hungry people in your community! In Matthew 25, Jesus said you don’t go to heaven if you don’t feed the needy. So not feeding them must be a serious sin.

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    Wow! Now THAT is convicting. (looks to both sides–scared and guilty)… Has me seriously thinking!

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    When I was going through abuse counseling (I’m not ashamed to say that I was abused as a youngster), I had no words to describe what a sin of omission was. I just thought that it had to be bad, as a parent, to let the other parent abuse their child. My counselor said, oh, those are sins of omission. I was like WHAT! THere’s a word for that and it’s actually a sin? Counselor: yep.

    Sins of omission are huge and aren’t we all so guilty of them every stinking waking moment of the day. Not that we should account ourselves some overwhelming gentle grace–but thank God that He freely gives it to us.

    That’s why I wish people like Jean, wouldn’t focus so much on every sin we commit (because looka there, sins of omission) I wonder how many sins of omission people like Jean think about daily–the things that they are NOT doing that they should be. We certainly cant keep track of all these things we do wrong. I am so glad for grace and not having to live under the law. I am so glad to be free not to focus on each and every sin I commit or don’t commit (however you want to say it), but rather, focus on fulfillment of those sins and those things by Jesus. It lets me off the hook as in paying the penalty, but I am still responsible to acknowledge my sin yet, not stop there. I can rejoice and have gladness. Isn’t that why Christ died? So that we could rejoice, have gladness, have grace and peace? I coudln’t live like Jean, dissecting each and everything to uncover some sin that might be there. I’d be trapped in a prison, and it being my own mind. There are things in my life I know to be blatantly wrong. I either choose to do them or not. There are other things that aren’t simply clear, and are a matter of opinion. Then there are things you don’t even see–THAT ARE SIN. That equally grieve God and equally needed a sacrifice to cover, that I was equally responsible for but that Christ took upon Himself.

    This is not to make light of sin at all. But to recognize that our lives are so sin laden, especially in ways we can’t see that we are still responsible for, and yet we have grace and don’t have to focus there.

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    NLR and Arce

    You said it better than I did. However, my post for today will go up. you might find the title, and the subsequent video, amusing.

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    To all posters:

    Again, I repeat–if anyone can answer my questions biblically please respond.

    Dee, where in the bible does it say that all Christians are hypocrites. Is that what we are called after we are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb and walk in His righteousness? Are you convinced that we only need to name the Name of Christ and that hypocrisy is normal behavior for a Christian? Is that God’s standard for our lives?

    As far as what church I attend, what does that have to do with anything? My views are not formed by man, they are formed by the Word of God with the Spirit being my teacher and counselor. But to ease your mind, I sit under the most biblically literate, mature, non-compromising pastor in the United States.

    I have been redeemed from a life of sin (over 33 years ago) and before that time, I was involved in every act of sin imaginable. I know the seeds of sin as I fed them and watered them. Once I met Jesus Christ by His Spirit and was cleansed from my sin, I put my hand to the plow and never looked back.

    Even though my questions seem to touch a few nerves, I still cannot see where yoking with the world in any way furthers our walk. Anytime we choose to dabble in the world via numerous forms of entertainment (ie, movies, music, books, theatre, etc)we cheat ourselves and we bring shame on the Cross. The Bible states that anyone who loves the world or anything of the world hates God.

    The poster that made the comment that he/she is glad they are not like me has every right to justify their behavior. But they might remember the story of Lot who camped right next to Sodom. Before his story was over, he consorted with the Sodomites, fellowshipped with them and was so spiritually numb by the time Abraham took him out of there, he lost his wife also. And all in the name of compromise.

    We are dealing with a very just God. Most TV sitcom viewing is not good or godly. We do not get a free pass because of grace. Paul is very specific in Corinthians about the misuse of grace. To watch filthy whatever and use it as a missional reason is no different than dating a non-Christian. What place does Belial have with God? None at all.

    I will close with this. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not save me and redeem me to let me back in the cess pool. My conscience is clear. I am forever grateful because without Him, I would be lost eternally.

    I hope that you will all take what I said into consideration.


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    To be effective witnesses we must be IN the world in which we live but not OF the world. We must maintain enough contact with the outside culture so as not to be perceived as alien, but as one who can relate to that which occurs around us intellectually and socially, but without yielding to sin. Thus we must be in the marketplace, hold jobs, relate to co-workers as equals, respect them for being a child of God, whether redeemed as yet or not. That requires that we have knowledge of common cultural and media programs. Otherwise we become so separate that we have no commonality with those to whom we would witness and will be so alien to them that they will reject our friendship.

    Jesus spent time with those who were the outcasts of the religious society of the day.

    There is a false piety which rejects everything as sin that the pious ones find objectionable on any basis. It is the “don’t drink, smoke or chew or associate with them that do” crowd, who told my sister that she was a sinner for wearing pants. Her reply was that she would be more condemned if she did not wear them at all. She spent most of 30 years in east Africa as a missionary and still is active in promoting ministry there.

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    “But to ease your mind, I sit under the most biblically literate, mature, non-compromising pastor in the United States.”Not that my mind needs to be eased but which one? I am really interested in how you have developed your theology and I would be most grateful if you would tell me who this man is.

    Perhaps my readers could benefit from the most Biblically literate man in America. Perhaps he could convince us of the error of our ways. We recently learned that CJ Mahaney is the worst sinner in the world so it might be nice to know who is the most Christian pastor in the world.

    “Anytime we choose to dabble in the world via numerous forms of entertainment (ie, movies, music, books, theatre, etc)” Could you please list for my readers the activities which are allowable for Christians? My readers would be most curious. It appears there isn’t much we are allowed to do. However, you are on the Internet. So, is reading blogs and perusing websites OK? Do you know what’s out here?

    Also you said “Where in the bible does it say that all Christians are hypocrites?” Jean, perhaps you are on a plane above most of the Christian people in the world, but most Christians, myself included, see everyone else’s sin a bit more clearly than we see are own. We proclaim we are living a morally pure life but deep down inside we all see those little areas of pride, self-righteousness, and lack of love and lack of self sacrifice. I am well aware that i still need the grace of Jesus everyday.

    Looking forward to your reply.

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    Your sister sounds amazing and seems to have a bit of your sense of humor.You have one stellar family!

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    What TV one watches is not an A issue, a B issue or even a C issue. Get real. It is not like one is renting porn movies.

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    Jean said “Anytime we choose to dabble in the world via numerous forms of entertainment (ie, movies, music, books, theatre, etc” However, it appears that cruising on the Internet is allowed 😉 but not much else.

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    To all:

    How about I do you all a favor and quit. I am so sorry that there wasn’t a mature reasonable response in the bunch. I rest my case.

    Do not waste your defensive mantra on me anymore. I will not be visiting this site anymore.

    “For many will come in my name, crying Lord, Lord and I will say, Depart from me, I knew you not.” (paraphrased)

    I pray for your souls.

    Sincerely in Him,

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    I am praying for your soul as well.

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    I have something to say to you. You have judged and insulted people that you do not know. I would suggest you take a good, loooong look at your heart. You are more like Angela on The Office than you can imagine. May you look for freedom in Christ as opposed to bondage.

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    Hi, I’m here to suck the life out of the room!

    Answer my questions.

    Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Ok, I’m leaving and not coming back.

    And I’m taking my marbles with me, so there.

    I’m better than all of you put together,