Confessions of an SGM Pastor

“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live. "                 Leo Buscaglia


courtesy of NASA

sunset over the Sahara (NASA)


Sovereign Grace Ministries has been experiencing tremendous upheaval since C.J. Mahaney stepped down earlier this month. Almighty God appears to be bringing conviction to the hearts of some SGM leaders, and only time will tell whether these “heart changes” are the real deal.

Mark Mullery, senior pastor of the Sovereign Grace Church in Fairfax, made a public confession of his sins when he addressed the congregation last Sunday (July 24th) at a Family Meeting. These confessions were directed toward former members of the church, namely Noel and Wallace.

For those not familiar with these individuals and their testimonies, Noel is a wife and mother who discovered that her three year old daughter had been molested by a 15 year old boy who attended SGM Fairfax along with his family. Her story has been archived at SGM Survivors in three installments. You can begin reading here.

Wallace and his wife Happymom are also former members of SGM Fairfax, and their two children were sexually abused. We featured their story here at TWW on April 12, 2011. (link) SGM Survivors has also archived Wallace’s Story here.

Each of these families has suffered terribly in the aftermath of their children’s sexual abuse, but what’s even more devastating is that they were spiritually abused by their own pastors!

Last Sunday evening Mark Mullery gave an emotional confession that confirmed the testimonies of Noel and Wallace. You can access the audio of the Fairfax Family Meeting at this link. Because we have followed both of these stories so closely, we wanted to update our readers with Mark Mullery's remarks regarding Noel and Wallace. Here is a transcript of Mullery’s confession.  


  “We are in a time when Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace Church here in Fairfax are being critiqued for the way pastors have led. As I mentioned earlier, there are several blogs that have focused on these issues. Two stories in particular have appeared on those blogs that address situations in this church and address our pastors in particular. What follows is a confession in response to these stories entitled Noel’s Story and Wallace’s Story.

Romans 12:15, the second half simply says: “Weep with those who weep.” This is a good place to start when it comes to the topic of sexual abuse and the sexual abuse of children. By now many of you have become aware of two stories on Sovereign Grace Ministries Survivor blog and the Refuge blog as well I believe — one called Noel’s Story, the other Wallace’s Story. Both of these individuals were at one time members of our church, and both have sad stories to tell.

Noel, a pen name, recounts the tragic story of the sexual assault of her young daughter, which occurred in 1998. Wallace, also a pen name, tells of having two children molested – the incidents coming to light in 1998 and 2007. In each of these cases the perpetrators were young men whose families were also part of our church.

These incidents are still exceedingly painful for these families and understandably so. No parent, no compassionate person can learn of these sins without experiencing sorrow, grief, and heartache over the violation of these innocent children.

But as sad as this is, it gets worse. When these incidents came to light, these families were in trouble. These were children who were victims who had been horribly sinned against. “Blessed are the merciful,” Jesus says, and moments like this require extraordinary amounts of tender care, of merciful comfort. This is a time to bind up the brokenhearted and to weep with those who weep.

And that’s just what your pastors did, right? Well, with deep regret I confess, we didn’t. Noel and Wallace are justified in critiquing the pastoral care they received through their trials and afflictions. Sadly, and it breaks my heart to tell you this, sadly in seeking to care for them, we became part of their trial. Like Job’s counselors, we came in a time of need and made things worse. Looking back, we made many mistakes. Here are a few.

We lost sight of the victim. These are complicated moments in the swirl of all the other things to think about, we lost sight of the simple fact that an innocent victim had been grievously sinned against and was in need of constant care. One of the moms reflected to me later and said for us this was 24/7.

We should have followed up more and over a longer period of time. We failed to surround the victims and their families with care. Failed to SURROUND them. Our instincts were to keep the circle of those who knew about this small. We weren’t trying to cover anything up, but we did want to protect the identity of the victim.

Sadly, this left the victim’s parents without the support system they needed at the time when they most needed it. We should have made sure more people knew and knew quickly. Both people in their care group where they needed to be able to work these things through and close trusted friends as well. Many more people were needed to be in place to extend care to the victim’s family. We failed.

These were situations where the family of the victim and the family of the perpetrator were friends. There were pre-existing, close relationships. As they’re trying to sort these things through, when relational conflicts arose between the victim’s family and the perpetrator’s family, we unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution. This resulted, put them on an equal plane – get the log out of your eye, get the log out of your eye, go for the speck, go for the speck – this resulted in the victim’s family being corrected when they should have been gently cared for as sufferers.

Oh, I’m so sad. We allowed that to happen and led and participated in that way. I did that. Our aversion to therapeutic thinking kept us from language and people and resources that would have helped these families and that would have helped us help these families. We didn’t give hurting people room to air their emotions.

How in the world is somebody whose child has just been cruelly sexually abused gonna process that flawlessly? Of course, it’s gonna be raw. But instead of giving them the room to work things through, we corrected them, and they expressed themselves in ways that we deemed incorrect. I’m so sorry. We were proud. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We were ignorant.

The hurts from these sins, the effect of sexual abuse of a child runs deeper and lasts longer than any of us could have imagined. We’ve been accused of not getting it. Guilty as charged. We didn’t get it. I’m so sorry. (Long tearful pause)

These aren’t just stories or statistics; these are people. As an elder and the senior pastor, I had opportunities to bring mercy and grace, to bind up the brokenhearted, to comfort the suffering. I was trying. I was attempting to be helpful, but it pains me to see how often in retrospect I wasn’t. I deeply regret my impatience, self-righteousness, pride, hardheartedness. These things compounded their suffering instead of easing it.

We’ve reached out to Noel, to Wallace, their spouses and families. It pains me to say, it grieves me to say, that our attempts to be reconciled to them have not proven successful so far. Please pray that this might happen.

Now for some of you, this may hit home because you may feel that you too have been hurt or mistreated by your pastors here. If that’s the case, sorry. And we want to humble ourselves, and we want to make things right.

If you don’t feel safe talking to us, please bring a friend, write a note, reach out to us in some way. We really want to hear from you. We want to listen to you. We want to learn from you. We don’t want to correct you. We want to discover where we’ve hurt you, where we’ve sinned against you and seek your forgiveness so we can change.

We deeply regret our failures with these families. We deeply regret the pain that we have caused, but we do thank God that we have a risen Savior in heaven. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. By God’s grace we commit ourselves to learning, growing, and changing so that no parent ever has this experience in this church again.

We can’t agree with everything that’s written about us on the blogs, but we’ve tried to go to school on what we can agree with. We want our children to be safe. We want children who are hurt, victimized, and abused to be well cared for and their families as well. We’ve tried to learn from our mistakes. We’ve tried to learn from these experiences and to make substantive changes in response.”  


  Earlier this week a former SGM pastor speculated over at SGM Survivors that Mark Mullery did not contact Noel and Wallace prior to the Family Meeting to let them know he would be discussing their stories and issuing a confession.  Here is his comment. (link)

Rom828 (comment #211) July 27th, 2011 at 10:46 pm

"All this is quite overwhelming to someone new like myself. I entered like most sharing my two cents worth on arrival but really it takes time to absorb all that is said, felt and expressed on this site. Hard to keep up with which testimony is whose. So I am sitting back, listening, reading and learning what I can. One thought on Mark Mullery… if I am an SGM pastor (which I was) I would at least call the people I would be talking about in the meeting (hopefully he did but it does not sound like it) expressing that I would be following up with them on this. I would say please take what we will say as a teeny attempt at expressing our horror, sadness and regret for all that transpired. Please let’s get together and talk so that the pastors involved can adequately confess our sin to you and then more clearly and definitively confess our sin before the church. Just my thought… hopefully this happened… we’ll see. As someone mentioned… I would not want to hear from friends or mp3 or video what was said about me to a congregation by a pastor without hearing from him first."

Then yesterday morning Wallace’s wife, whose moniker is “happymom”, confirmed Rom828's theory in a comment on the Survivors blog (same link as Rom828’s): happymom (comment #245) July 28th, 2011 at 6:48 am

"Something I find interesting.  Fairfax posted their response to the SGM issues on their Facebook account. July 10, 2011, Mark refers to us as “voices on the internet…speaking to the issues and OUR CHURCH IN PARTICULAR.” If not Noel, Grizzly, Wallace and myself, who else could he be referencing, since we have been the ones seeking to expose how they handle abuse? So how did he transition from labeling us as “voices” to the group of people he is now tearful over in front of his church? Why were we not informed of this sudden acknowledgment of wrongdoing? (emphasis mine) Their final summary letter to us dated September 30, 2010, clearly lays out that we were wrong and pastor lg is right. Are they now willing to hear our questions and allow pastor lg to answer them? This is not a family issue if the staff continues to ignore our challenges to lg’s apologies and cover him. I am appalled that pastor lg mentioned child b’s name when the behavior and abandonment of him and his family have caused as much emotional pain and suffering as the incident itself."

At the Fairfax Family Meeting, two other pastors (Vince and Lou) addressed the congregation.  Lou is HappyMom's brother-in-law.  Yes, the uncle of Wallace and HappyMom's children confessed that he sinned against his own flesh and blood by not comforting them in their time of tremendous need.  You can hear Lou's apology in the audio link above.

I am continuing to follow the comments over at SGM Survivors, and last night Noel posted her initial response to Mark Mullery’s confession.  She shares that she "cried as Mark confessed to the church and was so encouraged that he was finally trying to do something right."

However, the remarks made by Vince and Lou upset her terribly.  Based on her candid reaction, it appears Vince and Lou spoke in such generalities that they misled the congregation about what really happened.  She concludes her reaction with these words:  

"Tell the truth about who tried to reconcile……tell the truth about why these families are not reconciled.  Stop with the "damage control" already!  Tell the truth." Sadly, it appears there is much more work that needs to be done before any kind of reconciliation can take place between the SGM Fairfax pastors and these victimized families.  May God's will be done in this tragic situation.


Lydia’s Corner:     1 Kings 5:1-6:38      Acts 7:1-29      Psalm 127:1-5      Proverbs 16:28-30


Confessions of an SGM Pastor — 175 Comments

  1. Wow! The timing is certainly amazing how they have suddenly become convicted about what happened a few years ago.

    And please, there is “no more work” to be done except to get away from these people as fast as you can and scream it from the roof tops they are wolves. I am seriously stunned at how brainwashed these former sgm people are.

    These former sgm’ers are only enabling the wolves. Ok, so they know how to put on a sheep mask. We get it.

  2. Sounds like a sincere and heartfelt apology, for the most part (There were some red flags intersperced, but I don’t expect perfection). However, we know that words are easy; action and change are hard. And those who have been abused by the pastors who were supposed to care for them are not likely to rush back into the arms of their abusers, nor should they.

    The timing of this apology makes me feel that confession and repentance for pastoral abuse is the current SGM bandwagon. Now, in addition to arguing over who is the greatest sinner, they can compete for the prize of “most sorrowful abusive leader”.

    Not that good can’t come of this, and perhaps CJ’s problems have caused some genuine introspection amongst SGM leaders and pastors. But words alone mean nothing. Lasting change would tell the real tale. Like some here have said, I’d be more inclined to consider their repentance genuine if they restructured to a congregational church polity. But somehow I doubt that will happen.

  3. I would definitely consider their repentance genuine if they got out of paid ministry because the Holy Spirit convicted them that they are not qualified.

    The system is rotten to the core. And that produces rotten apples some more rotten than others. those who created, grew and maintained that system are the least likely to make the changes. They need to go. SGM needs to cease to exist. Perhaps then, the followers will turn to follow Christ, instead of men.

  4. I followed Noel’s story on the Survivors blog when it came out. I also remember reading about Noel and her husband’s “Grizzly’s” report about meeting with Fairfax SGM Pastors not long after their story was published on Survivors.

    One thing the SGM Pastors did at that time was “poison the well.” That is they told SGM Fairfax Members that not all of what Noel and her husband shared was true. When Noel met with the Fairfax pastors they specifically asked these pastors what was untrue in the story that Noel shared that could justify what the SGM Pastors said about this report. Noel and her husband never received a response.

    This is the account of this (Noel and her:

    “That was not very productive. It was at least a little funny how it started because Grizzly asked what part of Noels Story they felt was a lie. Mark said he first wanted to say what the pastors felt they did wrong. Grizzly said that would be fine and we’d get to that but first lets talk about what might be a lie and so it went back and forth. Mark didnt want to talk about what might be a lie because he didn’t see how that could be productive so I shared my first two cents. I explained that it was a credibility issue. He was starting the afternoon with zero credibility based upon our past experience with him. He had the opportunity to gain credibility by communicating honestly about what he felt was wrong with the blog. He decided not to share what parts they are telling others might be lies and shared about how sorry he is that our baby had been raped and so we began with what he wanted. Giving up control must be difficult for these guys.”

    It can be found here:

    It is interesting now that documents regarding Mahaney’s sin show up how the SGM Fairfax Leaders are “singing” a different tune. Hopefully this change is sincere vs. something to try and save a sinking ship. I am skeptical and think it might be a PR stunt but hope for something better.

    One of Mahaney’s son in laws is a pastor there.

  5. Steve, Junkster, Lin

    I think there is a little bit of remorse. But, I find some of the comments disingenuous and self serving. I plan to go through this on Monday. I find this whole shakeup (or shakedown depending on your perspective) at SGM fascinating.

    Frankly, a book could be written about this based on the public records alone. I would call it The Hyper-authoritarian Church Unveiled, a Study of SGM. The book could be a case study of the rise of SGM and the inherent problems and predictions for the future. It could be done as a case study like we used when pursuing our MBAs.

    SGM has absolutely fascinated me. If it wasn’t for the terrible pain caused by this group, one could follow the developments like a TV series. Unfortunately it is sickening. And absolutely appalling. I cannot, for the life of me, imagine belonging to such a messed up organization. The song GONE comes to mind (Gone like a freight train, gone like yesterday)

  6. If this statement had come in 2008 or 2009, I might find it credible. As it stands, having extensively read this material, it is a typical abuser’s tactic and typical of the cycle of abuse.

    After conflict erupts and culminates in the chronic abuser’s physical abuse of his wife, both parties react in a very predictable way. The man becomes instantly contrite, often sending gifts, and the abuse temporarily stops. The husband goes on and on about how it will never happen again, and he minimizes what happened. He won’t let it. The wife generally tries to downplay the abuse as well and becomes profoundly forgiving, a demonstration of her great, enduring love and devotion to her husband. Christians often cast this as a function of their Christianity, believing that God has enabled them to turn the other cheek, loving even when loving seems impossible. What a testimony. The husband may even act as a knight in shining armor or as a care taker — for a time.

    But the cycle repeats. What both parties insisted would never happen again happens again. Over time, the degree of harm escalates. There is always a crescendo pattern with this type of chronic and cyclical abuse.

    Is this a typical abuser’s repetitive cycle? Time will tell. I don’t buy it though. Talk is cheap, especially more than two years too late.

    It may well indeed be a point of realization and reckoning for some. I pray that it is. Is it a sign that SGM wants to make things right? I don’t buy it at all. When they call in a spiritual abuse expert to deal with all SGM churches, then I’ll believe it’s sincere.

  7. It appears, based upon commentors and victims, it was a waste of time for Mark, Lou and Vince to even make an attempt to apologize/repent for what happened in the past. Obviously those who dislike SGM or have felt victimized by SGM are not in any way encouraged by the leaders attempts to apologize and repent.
    And so it goes.

  8. Seneca–

    I see what you are saying or do I? Are you saying that the victims should forget the longstanding bad and gruesome character of their abusers who repeatedly hid the abuse and abused them some more,, turned them away when they sought reconciliation for the better part of a decade in some situations, readily accept the apologies of their abusers who have taken an inordinate amount of time to apologize for atrocious behavior and abuse, and only having been “motivated” to do so because they were now publicly outted and could no longer hide anymore? Are you saying these abusers have rightfully earned the trust of those whom they have abused, and all other witnesses and observers of their deplorable behavior? What about the kids and families who are still suffering psychological and spiritual affects?

    When you state this, what focus is in the forefront of your mind? Are you truly remembering and bringing to the forefront of your heart an advocacy for tge abused? Or do you feel the need to be an advocate for the accused and guilty because you see a greater need for their defense?

    Do you think they, having just acknowledged SOME of these abuses, have earned the right for everyone’s trust and sympathy? Or would you say that it was fair for the abusers to labor with long-suffering, patience, love, kindness and compassion to give an unmeasured amount of time for the abused and deceived to come to trust them ever again without demanding their right to be forgiven, trusted or even heard?

    Do you think the place they find themselves is a fitting consequence for their continuous, longstanding neglect, abuse, lies and deceit?

    Seneca, be patient with the wounded in battle and with the deceived to have a change in heart. Wisdom and discernment would tell a person to wait and see and observe change and sincerity demonstrated over a considerable amount of time before trust and belief restored. Be patient and be prayerful for those hurt and deceived and those violated because what has happened has not only severely damaged tge sould of many but it has grieved and betrayed severely the image and name of Our God.

    Your leaders will be ok. They can handle people not believing them. After all, their burden is light in comparison to those of the abused.

    Think about this: it can take an all powerful, all loving, and perfect God years to undo the atrocious affects of sin in victims. If God is that patient and has to walk steadily, firmly and constantly to reshape and restore a broken one, then the abusers are most likely called to do the same.

    Forgiveness and trust involve time and direct healing. It is not robotic, faked or rushed. It is a process.

  9. And remember, the offenders, the abusers, those who have come proclaiming the name of Christ yet taught another Gospel and modeled nothing resembling the love of Christ are held to a different standard. So much more that God says he will judge them harshly for their wrongdoing. If it were not for Christ, they would be dead and burning in hell. It is what God thinks they deserve. Yet, he has provided a sacrifice for their sin. Te fact that they have forgiveness and an opportunity for repentance and being saved from eternal damnation is a gift they do not deserve. Yet they have it. So rejoice in the greater gift they have freely in Christ and pray that true and sincere repentance will come and that there will be evident good fruit from it. Until then, dony scoff at those who are waiting to see better and life-giving fruit. Trust me, good fruit doesn’t grow on dead branches that have not been cut and burned. That season of growth and renewal and bearing of visible and observable good fruit takes longer than a few weeks, dear one. Please be discerning and stop chastising others for their discernment. It, too,is a gift from God to be used and exercised daily.

  10. Here is the million dollar question. Would Mullery have EVER made this confession if it hadn’t been for the blogs giving Noel and Wallace a public forum?

    I want to echo what No Longer Reformed said about fruit bearing. We will be watching to see what kind of fruit SGM produces after these tear-filled confessions. As I stated at the beginning od the post, we’ll see in time whether it’s the real deal or not. The onus is on the SGM leaders.

  11. What I have read of the “apologies” does not suffice. It is a less than adequate attempt to appear to have atoned, when one has not atoned.

    First, the apology should have been complete and delivered privately to the offended. “I was WRONG. I hurt you and your family. And I did it to preserve my authority, which was also wrong. I am so sorry for what happened. Please think about this and let me know what you think I could do now to make this situation better than it was this morning.”

    Offer to pay, from personal funds, for the counseling the abused family needs. A counselor of their choice, not the offender. Ask them to suggest how to prevent these things from happening in the future. Then resign. In Japan or not so long ago, it would have been “fall on your sword”.

  12. Hello Everyone:

    First I want to say that Happymom is one of the finest people I’ve ever met. I am truly sorry about her family’s ongoing saga regarding sexual abuses issues at Fairfax, but I don’t think God could have a found another soul as brave, kind, and strong as happymom to help the world address the broader issues of church abuse and sexual abuse in general. My hat’s off to you, happymom.

    My apologies if I missed it above but one thing that happymom mentioned on the survivors blog that I don’t see here is that her family was told that the Fairfax SGM was hesitant to help them because an archaic clergy confidentiality law in VA and 13 other states enables perpetrators to sue clergy who violate their confidentiality by turning them into civil authorities or even protecting their congregants by keeping them off church property.

    I wish I was making that up, but as happymom noted, in the “swirl of things” the SGM pastors found time to call their attorneys.

    Dee, as for your comment above, I have no idea whether Mark Mullery would have made his Oscar-award-winning-level apology speech if not forced to do so, but I feel comfortable saying that he is not fit to lead the Fairfax church given his serial history of being too busy helping the perpetrators families/protecting the reputation of his church to give the victim’s families the time of day.

    I agree that the onus is on SGM. So far all I’ve seen is talk, and unless I’m looking at a bill from my attorney, talk is cheap. 🙂

    So let’s say that SGM really is sorry that it forgot about victims because it was busy with other things. What now?

    Will they voluntarily pick up the medical bills of the affected families?

    Will they fire or discipline all the pastors involved in the debacle including C.J. Mahaney’s son-in-law?

    Will they codify procedures denomination-wide for handling sex abuse allegations/genuine incidents irrespective of state laws regarding the matter?

    I’m not certain of many things in life but am certain that just saying, “We’re sorry” isn’t enough in this case.

    Best to all – Janna

  13. I just want to say that the other families are brave as well. I just haven’t had the privilege of interacting with them and learning how personally incredible they are as I have with happymom.

  14. SGM is just doing damage control in order to try and minimize “blowback”. We do the same thing when a predator drone mistakenly wipes out a village in Afghanistan or Pakistan that had nothing to do with radical insurgents.

    Journalists are intimidated and video cams are seized. The last thing they want is for blown off little hands, feet, and torsos to be seen on your local six-o-clock news channel. The spin doctors (corporate media) can then take over and show how we’re “winning” and that projected draw downs are premature.

    I bless Providence that SGM, CBMW, and what have you cannot shut down TWW and stop the news and reasoned dissent from getting out to the wider evangelical world, believe me, if they could, they would.

  15. @ Muff and Deb: totally agree.

    I keep wanting to call my friends from Fairfax, and I keep hesitating, as I’m nervous about their reaction, now that things have been blown wide open.

    And Muff, excellent point about media spin (and, imo, censorship – there’s much less honesty, I think, than during Vietnam, even though there were God alone truly knows how many cover-ups and lies at that time).

    [:not wanting to stir up a political discussion; just reflecting on some of the changes in TV journalism and society at large:]

  16. Deb, sorry I called you Dee. In fact, can I issue that apology in advance to the two of you as I’m likely to make that mistake again and again.

    I’m not sure which of you suggested that this whole SGM thing could be a great case study, but as an aspiring MBA myself, I agree! The financial issues at hand alone are quite interesting as the Detwiler documents indicate.

    @Seneca – you seem to have strong opinions about SGM issues that you’ve expressed in more than one forum but I haven’t seen you reference the Survivors/Refuge blog testimonies or Brent Detwiler’s documents in your comments.

    Just out of curiosity, have you reviewed any of the primary source material relevant to these cases? If not, I suggest reading some of Brent Detwiler’s material on Wikileaks.

    If nothing else, he’s created a marvelously long piece of investigative journalism the likes of which we seldom see in a Twitter world.

  17. Muff wrote:

    I bless Providence that SGM, CBMW, and what have you cannot shut down TWW and stop the news and reasoned dissent from getting out to the wider evangelical world, believe me, if they could, they would.

    True on both counts.

  18. Arce
    There are lawyers lurking in the background trying to make sure that there is no blame taken for anything potentially litigious. They know they have a real problem. First with legal but even more with God. It is time for these supposed patriarchs to man on up.

  19. Seneca

    Sir, your utter lack of compassion for those hurt in such a profound way causes me to think that you need to carefully see if you truly understand the radical grace and love our Lord has for those who hurt. You did not once express love for the victims and their pain. That is my litmus test for anyone who speaks about this issue. You have disqualified yourself as a legitimate commenter by you lack of compassion.

    This is not a Christian response but a ho-hum mealy mouthed, protect the offender because you are sold out to an abusive system. You are part of the in-crowd of a derelict system with inexcusable leaders who don’t belong in any profession in which they must work with people. Search your soul, man and ask forgiveness for following abusive leaders and playing wing man. One day, you will wake up and feel sick for what you have tolerated. May God have mercy on you.

  20. Don
    Please see my rather harsh response to Seneca. I have a litmus test for those who criticize anyone over this matter. If they do not express concern for those who have been deeply wounded, their thoughts and opinions are automatically disqualified. Seneca is just a wing man for despicable people.

  21. Muff
    Keep us in your prayers. Too many people want to believe a lie and become angry when the lie is exposed.

  22. Well I’ve already been tossed off SMGrefuge for my lack of compassion towards victims so let me offer this. The culture of victimization in these United States is quite pervasive. I highly discourage it.

    AND, the question arises; does sexual abuse trump all other sins?

  23. Dee (I got it right this time!),

    I agree about lawyers lurking. Since I’ve been posting on many sites, not just SGM-related sites, and interacting with journalists I’ve found that people are getting curious about me.

    That wouldn’t concern me except that I think I’m seeing some of the tactics sophisticated crisis management companies use to suppress dissent such as creating faux ids and targeting strong-minded people on message boards such that moderators may feel pressured to ask certain people to leave and/or just feel pressured by the difficult situation they think they’re in generally as a result of manufactured dissent.

    Many sites run on ad revenue, too. Thus it’s also not unusual for big corporations to communicate to ad companies that if someone doesn’t take down certain material, they’ll pull their ads from the entire ad agency/make life difficult for the ad agency. Again this is done surreptitiously by people pretending to be “real SGM members” as opposed to corporate stooges.

    I knew Seneca was a “troll” but I wanted to test my theory that one of the best ways to tell a sincere person from a troll is asking them details about things like the Detwiler documents.

    I don’t want to seem too cloak-and-dagger about the whole thing but this SGM mess is threatening to topple the business empires and even political futures of people with some pretty substantial backers.

    Just some thoughts. As my favorite philosophy professor said, “things are seldom as they seem.” Best to all – Janna

  24. Dee,

    Do you have any doubts the men of SGM – who boast of their exceptional leadership skills, who keep the main thing the main thing, and who do everything centered on the gospel – will rise to to the occasion and be stellar examples of the “biblical manliness” they profess to personify?

    Will the SGM gospel prove to be all it’s cracked up to be?

    Meanwhile CJ has gone into hiding, no doubt watching the action from the comfort of his cheap seats. What courage in the face of adversity!

  25. Not at all sure I’m a “troll,” but I’m certainly very cynical about the human predicament. Wartburg Watch dislikes powerful male leadership; I dislike the pervasive culture of victimization which NEVER benefits the victims.

  26. Seneca/Readers of TWW An Important lesson in SGM Theology!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When it involves the least amongst us, yes, it is amongst the worse. Jesus himself focused on this and said that anyone who harms one of these little ones needs to tie a millstone around his neck and be thrown into the abyss.

    Once again, sir, you demonstrate your utter lack of compassion by your comments. Are you this hardened in your heart? Where is your empathy? Where is the Spirit in you? Could you be this far gone? Is this the teaching you have received? I am astonished by your response!! Shocked and dismayed!!!!!!

    Readers, make sure you memorize this man’s response. It is the best demonstration of the problem of SGM that I have ever seen. Sadly, he does not, nor can he, see it but i know that our faithful readers understand.

  27. Seneca

    Your comments demonstrate your utter lack of connection with the faithful. To use the victimization card shows your incredible level of indoctrination into an abusive system of thought.

    Keep commenting. You prove our point. I am so grateful that I avoided the pain of SGM. And you are not a troll, just a sad man. Please, please look for freedom in Christ, not bondage. When you defend a bankrupt system and insult, yes, INSULT, those abused, you have left behind everything that is decent.

  28. Janna

    A famous lawyer, Jeff Anderson (look him up-Minnesota- gazillions of settlements against the RCC sex abuse stuff), once told me to tell what I believe to be true. The worst thing they can do to me is throw me out of a church. And, I add, if I was in such a church, throwing me out would be doing me a favor.

  29. Seneca: “Wartburg Watch dislikes powerful male leadership;”

    No, Wartburg Watch dislikes what Jesus dislikes, the strong oppressing the weak.
    When male leadership tramples the least of these, then they are not powerful, like the mighty men of old, they are corrupt like the Pharoah and Pharisees of old.
    And Wartburg Watch is not intimidated by the corrupt leadership and their supporters. Stop confusing the issue. Bullys are not powerful leadership. They are just corrupt bullys who need smacked down. And if it takes a pack of women to do it, then so be it.

  30. Evie

    CJ and the rest of these guys are weenies who have used an authoritarian interpretation of the Bible to do what they can’t do which is to pretend they are REAL men. They are not and only a bunch of sheep who have had their wool sheared and placed over their eyes would follow such a crowd.

    Trust me, CJ may be hiding but he is planning his comeback.

  31. Mara

    We all have more cojones than many wussie guys who pretend they are patriarchs and you are included in this.

  32. Dee–

    In being consistent, this from Taladega Nights to Seneca: you are so mean! Somebody must not have loved you as a kid.”.

    Lol! This dude is unreal. Just like the hardened hearts of abusers, Seneca is just the same. He is among fellows with his brood of weenie men. Let him go play with them rather than blaming the victims. What an a-hole.

    And to answer his question: The sin that’s worse than sexual abuse are people like him who have not true love and compassion.

  33. Well I still have no first hand knowledge of Sovereign Grace Ministries but I am surely not LESS sinful than the pastors and leaders of Sovereign Grace.

    AND, if SGM is truly God ordained, satan will attempt to destroy it. IF SGM is actually a tool of satan, satan will attempt to keep it going.

  34. Seneca

    Don’t worry about your comments. They are too interesting to delete. You provide info to my readers.

    Your theology is interesting. So, if bad things happen to a church, then God is at work and Satan is trying to destroy it. So, the more bad things that happen, the more God is doing and the more Satan is doing. So, we can stand up and applaud when pedophiles are molesting our children because God is really happening there so satan is working as well.

    Good night! Am I in Wonderland?

  35. NLR

    I pass the Taladega Speedway every time i go to Birmingham which is quite frequent. Nascar is truly a sport of the people. I bet you know it got it’s start during prohibition when moonshiners souped up their cars to out run the law.

  36. And what about a church leader that takes a good $10,000 donation that some godly businessman gave with the intention that is was to go to a family whose male head (Add the nickname for Richard as a prefix) was in legal trouble for molesting an 11 year old daughter. Te mother separated from this pediphile and the churh leadership is thought to have given the money to the perp to pay for his legal defense.

    The mother couldn’t provide for her uberlarge family and the family lost their home and the children were put in foster care while the church did nothing to help the mother and children because…..wait for it….
    She didn’t reconcile with the perp that *apologized* for his wrongdoing.

    Senica? NOTHING you could spew would quell the anger that rises in me at the thought of those children enduring foster care while the SGM church neglected the family and kept a friggin pediphile in comfort.

    Senica? Knock-knock….are you seriously aligning yourself with *that*?!

  37. ” The culture of victimization in these United States is quite pervasive. I highly discourage it.

    “AND, the question arises; does sexual abuse trump all other sin”

    Why don’t you let us know when your 3 year old is raped. it sounds like you would scold her for being a victim and screaming in the night with nightmares.

    Sorry people, but foolish questions and declarations do not need to be answered with explanations. Seneca would not get it.

  38. BTW: I am guessing that CJ and the sgm boys are not real thrilled that someone like Seneca is defending them. It does not fit with their current strategy of spin and repentance. But Seneca seems to represent the thinking that resulted in sgm’s past actions, pretty well.

  39. “Wartburg Watch dislikes powerful male leadership;”

    You call what they do “leadership”? I know quite a few powerful male leaders who would have had to constain themselves from beating up the pervert who rapes a child. They would call the police because these things are criminal acts.

    “AND, if SGM is truly God ordained, satan will attempt to destroy it. IF SGM is actually a tool of satan, satan will attempt to keep it going”

    Thanks for this shallow exegesis of how it works. This explains a lot about how you think. Benny Hinn, anyone?

  40. “Your theology is interesting. So, if bad things happen to a church, then God is at work and Satan is trying to destroy it. So, the more bad things that happen, the more God is doing and the more Satan is doing. So, we can stand up and applaud when pedophiles are molesting our children because God is really happening there so satan is working as well”

    You got it. Seneca is twisting Romans. Sin more because it proves God is at work. Nevermind that part about growing in Holiness.

  41. Hello Dee:

    Thanks for the reply. Not sure I understand what you’ve been reading as I referenced a few documents/ideas. Is it the Detwiler documents?

    @Seneca – I agree that you seem to be a less-than-happy man. I also happen to think you’re a real live misogynist. But let’s get away from the personal statements that the content and tone of your posts have caused some of us to want to make about you.

    A “troll” is someone who goes from blog to blog making provocative statements while failing to make any meaningful contribution to the issues at hand.

    So instead of declining to answer people’s questions why don’t you demonstrate your strong masculine leadership skills to us ladies by reading the Detwiler documents and making some intelligent comments about them?

    That’s what most of the strong men in my life would do rather than whining about being called a troll. And before you say “I wasn’t whining” let me say that’s how you came across to me…but then I’m just a woman who doesn’t like strong male leadership.

    Dee and Deb own this site and their litmus tests reign supreme. However, my litmus test would include their tests while also saying “contribute to the discussion or get off the pot,” hon.

  42. “Well I still have no first hand knowledge of Sovereign Grace Ministries but I am surely not LESS sinful than the pastors and leaders of Sovereign Grace.”

    I didn’t know pastors automatically had less sin in their lives than us regular folk. I’m fairly sure than I can come up with a list of pastors who have had more than the “average” share. Although totaling up sin is something that people under Grace might find hard to do. Is glancing at the trashing magazine cover in the grocery checkout lane a bigger or smaller sin than coveting the Snickers bar next to it. Is spreading a false Gospel message on TV bigger or smaller than having an affair. While the affair can be tragic for a group of people the bad Gospel message via TV impacts 1000s or 1000000s.

    All of us sin. All of us need grace. Ranking gets you no where fast.

  43. My quick take on this and similar situations. If this apology by these pastors is Step 1 of many steps, great. If they consider this to mostly take care of the issue, well they are just plain wrong.

  44. Seneca-

    Yes-sexual sins are worse than most others, and no you’re NOT just as sinful than a group of men who are willing to sacrifice the well being of a raped hcild and their family for the sake of their jobs and image. Unless, you have done the same…if so, I hope you have resigned from church leadership.

    And having a vctim’s mindset is much different than actually being a victim of rape and abuse…if you want to play apples and oranges, fine, but it’s a fools game.

  45. I’m not sure how CJ Mahaney’s issues tie into the rape of a 3 year old. Surely it is not Mahaney’s fault.

    Did SGM polity encourage sexual molestation?
    Probably not.

    A church board that didn’t consult with legal authorities would be very foolish. We live in an extremely litigious society, that’s one of our realities. It is not a sin to consult with authorities and move cautiously after prayerful deliberation. (You of course may hold to a different opinion.)

    Great evil and vile things happen to people all the time. We have all heard stories that raised hair on the napes of our necks. Are we still surprised to find there is great sin in our lives and in our world? Are we surprised that there is sin in the church?

    The only way I’ve ever been able to even partially reconcile some of the terrible acts of humanity is to acknowledge the Sovereignty of a loving God who knows things I don’t know. Sees things I can’t see, and works out His glory however He wills.

    He is not dependent upon woefully inadequate human beings. But if He chose not to use flawed vessels, then no human would every be used of God.

    Mahaney appears to be a flawed vessel. Whether or not he should every have a part in the leadership of SGM is actually of no great interest to me. If he doesn’t return to SGM he’ll do some other ministry I’m sure.

    In the churches where sexual molestation took place, I’m thinking none of the leadership played it perfectly.

    My question would be: Did they try to do the right and Godly thing? I hope they did but I certainly don’t know the details of any SGMs deliberations.

  46. The child that was raped and the family of that child are victims, unwilling, unwitting. The cult of victimization is to take a slight and make a big issue out of it. What has been happening at SGM is not a slight. It is to take an existing crime and make it worse, because one is more concerned about the perpetrator and their family than the victim and their family, and about one’s status as a pastor.

    As an attorney and a psychologist, I can advise you that what the families of the raped child experience, feel and do has nothing to do with the cult of victimization.

    I represent abused women and children, most of them pro bono or by court appointment. And I can tell you, there is none lower than a man who would sexually abuse a little child. If it is proved, there is no term in prison too long for him and no place in hell too hot for him either.

  47. Seneca,
    Your last post appeared while I was writing mine. It is not that they did not do it perfectly, it is that they did it perfectly wrongly, condemning the parents of the abused child and protecting the perpetrator.

    You are the type of person that contributed to the cover up of the Catholic priest abuse scandals all over this country and several others. YOU, yes you, provide cover for those who cover up or try to cover up these crimes against little children.

    And it is NOT God’s will for a child to be raped. That is a heresy, and for suggesting it YOU CANNOT BELIEVE IN GOD that any of us would recognize. You need to explore the God of love and not the God that would condemn an innocent child to be raped and suffer spiritual, emotional and physical consequences for the balance of their lives.

  48. Mara said …
    Bullys are not powerful leadership. They are just corrupt bullys who need smacked down.

    I just saw the movie Captian America today. (My apologies to Jean Seldon for my worldliness, but I loved it.) One of my favorite exchanges:

    Dr. Erskine: Do you want to kill Nazis?
    Steve Rogers (Captain Ammerica): I don’t want to kill anybody. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.

  49. Sadly, I have begun to mix issue of abuse with issues of SGM leadership. I think they deserve their own arenas.

    Mostly I’m interested in SGM; in my lifetime I have had more dealing with victims than some; enough to discourage people from pursuing victimization.

    As ARCE well put it, “The cult of victimization is to take a slight and make a big issue out of it.”

    I am opposed to that. HOW you express compassion is very important.

  50. I did attempt to read some of Detwiler’s 600 pages.
    I’m still thinking 600 pages says more about Brent than it does about SGM leadership.

    (Has Brent quit posting? If so, why?)

  51. Seneca

    The issue is how SGM “leadership” has responded to sexual abuse of children by church staff members and members of the congregation at large. So one cannot separate the two. The families of the raped children were abused by the pastors and elders of the churches for wanting the perpetrators excluded from being in the church in ways that put other children at risk and that required their child to see that perpetrator in the church, expanding the trauma to the child. This was not a slight by the pastors, but a willful act to protect themselves at the cost of compounding the trauma of the family and child.

    It is a sin most egregious, mostly because any well-trained pastor would know better, as would any attorney with a heart not made of stone. The problem with SGM pastors is that they have learned these strategies for dealing with problems from Mahaney himself and in the limited training they receive. So it is a pervasive and mistaken approach to the occurrence of sexual abuse of children in the church.

    Can’t separate the abuse from the response to it. That it occurred at all is likely from a failure to have the proper policies and plans in place in the church as it relates to who has access to the children in the church and under what conditions. That the response is so poor is the result of not having a heart of compassion for children and not having the sense God gave the average jackass.

  52. Seneca-

    if you click over to, their is currently a post written by someone who attended CJ’s church and they did hide the sins of the perp and were reluctant to help the victims…sounds an awful lot like the bad guys in the Good Samaritan parable.

    And ye-SGM’s polity and CJ’s teaching on it is very responsible for the responses of these pastors (one of them being his son-in-law)……….

  53. Seneca,

    It’s incredible that you come onto our blog and start slinging around accusations that we hate strong male leadership. Is that how you describe yourself?

    We are two middle-aged Christian women who are defending those who have been spiritually abused by the leaders who are supposed to protect them.

    If you haven’t read much here, then I suggest you educate yourself. Amazingly, we continue to let you comment. It’s sad that you are displaying the misogynistic attitudes we abhor. It’s really a shame that you have so little compassion for those who have been victimized. May God have mercy on you.

  54. How old was the “perp?”

    Has he been sent away? Has he been found guilty? Is he receiving “treatment?” What have the courts done with him?

  55. “Seneca,

    It’s incredible that you come onto our blog and start slinging around accusations that we hate strong male leadership. Is that how you describe yourself?

    We are two middle-aged Christian women who are defending those who have been spiritually abused by the leaders who are supposed to protect them.

    If you haven’t read much here, then I suggest you educate yourself. Amazingly, we continue to let you comment. It’s sad that you are displaying the misogynistic attitudes we abhor. It’s really a shame that you have so little compassion for those who have been victimized. May God have mercy on you.” Deb

    Your blog Deb. Either you wish discussion or you, like SMG refuge, prefer the chorus to perform without any negative reviews.

  56. Accusing women of not liking powerful male leadership is just a cheap shot, designed to draw attention away from the sins of men who are drunk on their own power and onto some variation of the tired old ‘Jezebel’ accusation.
    Men that say things like this fear strong women and women who won’t play by the rules of the corrupt men in charge.
    Good leadership is easy to respect and follow.
    Corrupt leadership needs to be challenge, exposed, and cast down.

  57. @Seneca –

    “I did attempt to read some of Detwiler’s 600 pages.
    I’m still thinking 600 pages says more about Brent than it does about SGM leadership.”

    I think your inability to read a serious document and the fact that you speak in nothing but cliches says more about you than it says about anyone else.

    “Your blog Deb. Either you wish discussion or you, like SMG refuge, prefer the chorus to perform without any negative reviews.”

    Wow, that’s in the dictionary under false dichotomy. As I recall, Jim at Refuge put up off with you until you posted a bizarre rant accusing people of comparing SGM to Nazis.

    I must commend you for being able to harp on something you truly know nothing about for so long but there are lots of blogs out there written by powerful strong women you could hit up now that you may be wearing out your welcome.

    Why don’t you give us a break?

    Okay, I’m done. Seneca gets 0% of my attention from here on.

  58. Mike Godwin, formulator of the “law”

    Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990 which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (100%).” In other words, Godwin put forth the hyperbolic observation that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis.

    (Actually, somebody brought up the Nazis in the SGM refuge blog; I gave them Godwin’s Law. Seemed appropriate).

  59. To ask again;

    How old was the “perp?” (Is he a “perp” or an alleged perp?)

    Has he been sent away?
    Has he been found guilty?
    Is he receiving “treatment?”
    What have the courts done with him?

  60. Seneca said, “Your blog, Deb”



    You have serious issues. Sorry we are such a threat to you. C’est la vie…

  61. ‘To ask again;

    How old was the “perp?” (Is he a “perp” or an alleged perp?)

    Has he been sent away?
    Has he been found guilty?
    Is he receiving “treatment?”
    What have the courts done with him”

    You have not done your homework or you would know the situation since the entire process was documented. I seriously doubt that even then you would change your tactics.

    Junk, Estes/Griggs types are in the pulpit and sitting next to you in the pews. It is one reason our churches are are in serious spiritual trouble. And not even safe for children these days.

  62. Folks,

    Seneca believes that God willed that the child be raped. That should tell you he does not belong posting on a Christian blog, because that belief is UnChristian.

  63. Folks,

    “Seneca believes that God willed that the child be raped. That should tell you he does not belong posting on a Christian blog, because that belief is UnChristian.” Arce

    Actually Arce, I believe God allows bad things to happen. I confess, I do not know why.

  64. Don’t know if anyone’s said this or not. Have not yet caught up on comments.

    Seneca Griggs wrote:
    “AND, if SGM is truly God ordained, satan will attempt to destroy it. IF SGM is actually a tool of satan, satan will attempt to keep it going.”

    This is a classic tautology. Every question is answered by the role of satan. We’re all useless, meaningless pawns. It also ignores the fact that we have a certain level of moral choice for which God holds us accountable. Men can choose to abandon SGM and hang ichabod on the door. The power that SGM has is given to them by people who want the idea to work. It is the people who enable the leadership to have this power and to do these things. So long as they stay and strengthen the arms of the abusers, it will continue. You can’t blame that on satan.

  65. For one, I love good leadership and I love male leadership that is good and qualified. What I really hate is any leader, regardless of gender, that either exploits those whom they purport to lead or is a poor leader.

    All of these comments that have been made here by Griggs are all red herrings to distract the discussion from the primary issue, particularly this suggestion about the nature of one sin being worse than another.

    I may have missed it in the event that someone has stated it, and Dee mentioned one aspect of this, noting that Jesus said it would be better for a person to have a millstone put around their neck than to hurt a little one. Interpret that as you may, but Paul also stated that leaders (pastors and teachers) are held to a higher standard of accountability than a rank and file member of the church anyway. So if you want to redefine what constitutes one of these little ones by putting Mahaney and Mullery in there, you still can’t very well get around the issue of this higher level of character, consistency, and accountability by those in leadership.

  66. “For one, I love good leadership and I love male leadership that is good and qualified. What I really hate is any leader, regardless of gender, that either exploits those whom they purport to lead or is a poor leader.” Cindy K

    Well stated; I absolutely agree.

  67. Deb,

    I’m ROFL, too, especially since I got the weird Nazi thing as a response. Perhaps “Godwin” is right since as soon as someone brings up his “law” he’s proven correct and people probably Google him to find his web site. What a great marketing strategy. Perhaps I should come up with some “Janna’s Laws” to get people to my website.

    Depending on how long the less-than-happy-man keeps this up, I could write a rule about A——–. Some of us are ladies, here, so please fill in the blank letters mentally, my male and female fellow bloggers.

    And yes, Seneca, you just got more than 0% of my time. Keep going my friend.

  68. Then stop defending the SGM pastors who are not good, not qualified and who exploit the members of the congregation.

  69. I have no idea which SGM leaders are good or not good. I have no first hand knowledge of any of them.

    I suspect they fall under the “bell curve.”

  70. As a former teacher of statistics, I can say that everyone falls under the bell curve, just some fall under one of the tails thereof, that SGM pastors, as a lot, fall beyond two standard deviations toward the authoritarian, uncaring except for self and close friends, and self protective and exploitative end of the distributions.

  71. “SGM pastors, as a lot, fall beyond two standard deviations toward the authoritarian, uncaring except for self and close friends, and self protective and exploitative end of the distributions.” ARCE


  72. “AND, if SGM is truly God ordained, satan will attempt to destroy it. IF SGM is actually a tool of satan, satan will attempt to keep it going.”

    This is a classic tautology. Every question is answered by the role of satan. We’re all useless, meaningless pawns. It also ignores the fact that we have a certain level of moral choice for which God holds us accountable. Men can choose to abandon SGM and hang ichabod on the door. The power that SGM has is given to them by people who want the idea to work. It is the people who enable the leadership to have this power and to do these things. So long as they stay and strengthen the arms of the abusers, it will continue. You can’t blame that on satan.”

    Thank you, Cindy. That is why I mentioned Benny Hinn who does somthing similar with Satan.

    And since God allows for it to happen, Seneca does not see any responsiblity to protect the innocent in any way we can. That is a very skewed view not only of God in the Old Covenant but Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. Seneca’s views actually enable Satan even more. And there are many like Seneca out there in pewland.

    “I have no idea which SGM leaders are good or not good. I have no first hand knowledge of any of them”

    Why are you commenting in their defense on a blog post topic about SGM? Since your experience is not “first hand”.

  73. “Why are you commenting in their defense on a blog post topic about SGM? Since your experience is not “first hand”.” Lin

    Why not? It’s a blog that allows comments.

  74. “Why not? It’s a blog that allows comments”

    So, you really have no interest or knowledge of sgm. Admit you have not done your homework on the issues and situation. You have admitted all this, yet you like to come here and before on refuge and defend them. Interesting. The more you comment, the more we understand you perfectly.

    Seems to me you are seeking out sgm related blogs in particular. But for no reason? Okey dokey.

  75. DB
    Well stated. I am so angry about this, I am formulating a plan to get some more publicity on it. I think the secular world might show far more concern about this then the cold leaders in SGM.

  76. Lin

    Culture of victimization is something they must have dreamed up on one of their retreats. They sound like a bunch of cold fish and are looking for excuses.

  77. Lin

    First, this is an attempt to deflect what this blog is all about. We dislike “powerful male leadership?” Could he please describe to which powerful male he is referring? From what i can tell, I see only about of mama’s wusses in SGM.

    And the word, Powerful is interesting. From what i can tell, Jesus’ ministry had nothing to do with power. It had everything to do with wisdom. So, maybe he is right. I want WISE leadership,as opposed to powerful leadership. Power is worldly based. Wise is from the Lord.

    The shallow exegesis is precisely the type of Biblical “scholarship” that goes on in those 9 months to becoming an infallible pastor Pastor’s College.

  78. Jaanna

    Believe it or not, Seneca is doing precisely what your devious, yet always glamorous, blog queens desire. He is illuminating teachings that are permeating the church and that we are trying to expose. So, as he (or maybe it is a disguised she) blogs on, he is giving us all a learning lab in this stuff.

    I am a bit concerned. What documents am I supposed to be reading? I know all of the ones released by Detweiler.

  79. Lynn

    However, we know that Mahaney is the worst sinner in the world. He has told us so. So, perhaps we should look at his sins and use them as a benchmark? 🙂

  80. Lynn
    Already we have received a comment to the effect that the “apology” has been made so we should just get over it. Naughty, naughty-playing fast and loose with forgiveness. This is an abusive tactic meant to silence folks.

  81. doubtful

    I posed this question to some folks over lunch. They all agree that pedophilia is amongst the most heinous of sins. That is why Jesus gave a special warning to those who hurt children. Remember, He said it would be BETTER for them to tie a millstone around the neck and jump into the abyss (similar to the Mafioso technique of cement blocks). So, if this is better, than what is worse? I would be very, very fearful if i were them.

  82. Seneca

    Godly thing? You are one of the coldest fish in the ocean. And ,since you like the “sovereign” part, why should a church consult a lawyer? God sent this trial to them. Maybe they should just confess and take their licks. At lease they would act like men instead of mama’s boys.

  83. Arce
    I used to do followup on child abuse. Thankfully there are real men, like you, out there otherwise the mama boys at SGM would be the determinent factor. This is a case when when the world seems to do it better than certain churches.

  84. Arce

    you have struck at the Achilles heal of the Calvinistas- A god who sovereignly plans for and allows the rape of a child.

  85. How is it that these folks who carry on about the culture of victimhood don’t realize that they’re playing the victim at the hands of victims? Aw!

  86. Great dialogue! i saw Cowboys and Aliens. Now ,there were some real men and women, standing up to cosmic bullies.

  87. Seneca
    Then you best explain why you used the word victimization in this example of child abuse within the SGM panoply.

  88. Seneca

    There is no honor amongst thieves and this is a great example. It says a lot about the whole crowd.

  89. Arce

    Repeat this x100= “That the response is so poor is the result of not having a heart of compassion for children and not having the sense God gave the average jackass..”

  90. doubtful

    Great example-the son in law of Mahaney-did he get given a $500,000 house for his efforts as a faithful pastor at this church…or just the other one?

  91. Seneca

    We are fascinated by your comments. You are doing an yeoman’s task of educating our readership about the current climate out there.

  92. Mara
    This is just a tactic by people who cannot defend the actions of some abusive “leadership.” They try to change the subject and make it about us. It is such a yawner-tactics from years ago.

  93. Janna

    Let’s see how he escalates. It will help us to understand what is being taught out there. Actually, it is getting so interesting, I amy do a post on his comments. They will help those in abusive situations to be prepared. It is merely a formula and he is looking forward to getting a pat on his head for being a good “boy” to the many “mama’s boys” out there.

  94. Seneca

    I have read the SGM Refuge for years. I rarely see anyone thrown off over there. So, were you just being helpful with Godwin’s Law? I bet there was more behind it then simple education.

  95. Seneca
    Much of this was kept “under wraps.” I think that more will come out not that the cat is out of the bag,especially when the major media houses get involved. It is simply a matter of time.

  96. Senenca

    God allows bad things to happen-ie, the rape of a helpless child . So, that is how you came up with your “victimization” theory?

  97. Cindy

    The devil made me do it was a comedic line written by secularists who actually got the humor in this form of tautology. As I told my husband, i would like to blame my sins on Satan. But, I know very well that it was me who is responsible. Satan was cheering me on but I did it.

  98. Cindy

    He said it would be BETTER for them to do the abyss thing. So, what is really going to happen to them if they didn’t go abyss swimming? Interesting to contemplate.

  99. “Lin, I do find the SGM controversy rather fascinating”

    Don’t try to play it. You have been anything but neutral. You have defended sgm on two different blogs now…admitting you have not done your homework. Are you also on survivors? If not, why?

  100. Seneca
    Nonsense, and you know it. Let’s see, I think i will go over to a blog about Little League statistics and start commenting even though I know absolutely nothing about the subject and have no interest in the matter. What a fun way to spend my day.

  101. Lin
    That is an excellent post by the internet Monk. Maybe Seneca will get a burning desire to dialogue over there.

  102. Hey Dee,

    The comment I was referring to is the one you wrote above:

    “dee on Sat, Jul 30 2011 at 07:48 pm

    We have read quite a bit of them. Appalling content.”

    There’s so much appalling content at hand in this SGM saga that I wasn’t sure what you were referring to, but it’s not a big deal at any rate.

    I love your idea respecting an article about dealing with the types of people you see on blogs about serious issues. I’ve had to get my logical fallacy books out as I’ve certainly been knocked around quite a bit with variations of the following zinger, “How can you presume to help SGM members/abuse victims when you’ve never been to an SGM church?”

    I don’t know. Because I try to be a decent human being, I guess, and God is calling me to this mess for whatever reasons he is. And I live 20 minutes from the mother ship in MD so my tax dollars are underwriting 6-figure Kangaroo courts for people who aren’t fit to clean out the parking lot much less pastor churches.

    On one blog, a kind woman was nice enough to point out the Good Samaritan parable that some people seem to have forgotten about in their denominational wars.

    I’m not saying that everyone who’s been to an SGM church is part of a cult, but I think you have to understand the cult mentality to really understand the logic behind the “zinger” above.

    We do what we can, I guess.

  103. “Bologna is now being served on this blog”

    How appropriate. Not milk but Fake meat.

    Our glamorous blog queens are more the Filet Mignon types so they know when they are being served bologna.

  104. Every time I come on here and talk about SGM, I know that I am a babe in the baby pool. The rest of those commenting are in the deep water.

    I am glad that you guys keep up with this stuff. I do not, and the idea of reading 600 pages of anything, is horrifying.

    Having said that, can someone please remind me what happened to the young man who abused the girl? Someone named Seneca asked that above, but was smacked down by the crowd on here for reasons that don’t interest me.

    But I would like to be reminded how old the young male was and what happened to him. Can someone please post that.

    Also, I saw someone mention that someone got a free $500,000 house. Who was that? Who gave him the house?

  105. Anonymous

    I did respond to Seneca on that question. There is a question on exactly what SGM’s response was to the perp when found out. The lovely culture of SGM does not allow for “gossip” although there was someone who said it was reported, eventually and that the perp received assistance of some kind from someone in SGM but none of that is confirmed. It is like Driscoll’s machete attack. I cannot find any newspaper article documenting that it occurred. not saying it didn’t, just can’t find confirmation.

    Here is the quote from the CLC story currently on the SGM Survivor’s blog

    “I could detail a hundred things they did next which only made the situation worse by blaming the victims, covering up the crime, and supporting the pedophile financially and legally. They even sent my mother to her care group leader for counseling who told her to god wanted her to send her daughter away so that this man could stay in the house as the head of the household.
    Despite all of their pleadings my mother insisted on justice and pressed charges. They had claimed they were looking for counseling for my mother and her child, when really they were biding time, retaining legal counsel for this man, to allow him to turn himself in as a show of repentance. They pressured her to ask the court for leniency for this man who had abused her child. They testified as character witnesses for him in court. He had repented and been forgiven, just like that. We were all warned not to tell anyone in the church, even though the abuser was still attending — it would be gossip.

    But my mother was not submissive enough and since she refused to ask the court to not send this tithing man to jail, we were all put out of the church, out of the school, and the pastors told my mother, our “poverty was self induced” because she had not been submissive to their guidance. My mother pleaded with the church for help, but they only further demonized her.”

    As for the housing, please read comments over at SGM as to speculation about how a couple of the Mahaney kids were given houses by Mahaney.

  106. Anonymous

    No one smacked down Seneca for his question about the perp.In fact, I tried to answer it. It was for his general demeanor of accusing the little raped children for being part of a culture of victimization. I would think that people in this day and age who show little compassion for those abused by pedophiles in the church should interest all of us.

  107. Anonymous

    PS- I am not saying anything illegal occurred. I just said it was interesting. Mahaney has been living well. Nothing wrong with that, is there? Many of the big boy mega pastors in the SBC have some mighty fine houses. For some, the business of God is very, very enriching.

  108. Anonymous

    One final comment: aren’t you in the profession of reading 600 page documents for a living?

  109. “That is an excellent post by the internet Monk. Maybe Seneca will get a burning desire to dialogue over there.”

    I learned from this blog that Michael Spencer died.

  110. Dee, sigma is the sign for the standard deviation. Two sigmas puts one at the extreme, three sigmas even further, like further away from the norm than 99% of the population. Or, to borrow a phrase from a deceased country singer, “FAR OUT” as in FAR OUT OF NORMAL OR REASON.

  111. Seneca
    Michael Spencer’s friends are carrying on the tradition. All of his posts are available along with new ones written by friends.

  112. Arce
    No question that Driscoll is far out. In fact, this whole Calvinista movement is 3 sigmas short of a rotten apple.

  113. Anon, There is nothing in the 600 pages about the sexual pervert problems at sgm churches and how they were handled. The author of the 600 pages is a former long term sgm pastor and CJ friend who was not at all concerned with the victims or sgm. He was concerned only about CJ. The documents give us a glimpse into what highly paid ministers do with their time and other people’s money.

    The stories are documented on the blogs. Of course, the celebrity defenders will not believe them unless the celebrities say what took place is true. So what would be the point of laying it out for you? Do your own homework, read the stories. I know in this soundbite culture such things are really really hard. It might even hurt your brain a bit to read so much. But it gives us insight into the church. The 600 pages simply affirmed what everyone knew was true. These guys were thinking a lot about themselves. In fact, they are eaten up with themselves.

  114. Lin:

    I was trying to NOT have to go to various blogs to research this and that or read the 600 pages.

    I have not been impressed with Mahaney from the get go, and I don’t know anyone who goes to his church or churches related to him.

    I am glad that there are people who read all his stuff carefully, but I am not going to be one of them.

    I was relating the story of the abused girl to some friends this weekend while on vacation, and I had forgotten what actually happened to the abuser, so I thought I would ask.

    Dee, I am not in the business of reading 600 page documents, especially the type of material involved here.

    But I am glad that you and others are reading it and taking the time to comment on it.

  115. Anonymous

    Sorry, Seneca got me a bit touchy. Here are some questions to ponder. Lots of money has been given to SBTS by this non-Baptist entity. The SBC is a well established entity. Why would Mahaney and SGM be giving money to the Baptists? Could there be a bid toward legitimacy here by aligning with the flagship? Would such an alliance be advisable based on the current revelations? Who stands to gain and who stands to lose?

    Meantime, I’ll keep reading. I don’t see much that would make me want to do business.

  116. ‘I am glad that there are people who read all his stuff carefully, but I am not going to be one of them’

    The discomfort is interpreting this stuff for people. Some, like Mohler, think there is no big deal.

  117. I did read the terrible story; I would like to know what the young man was ultimately convicted of. Did he serve some time? Is he on the sexual predator list? Does anybody know?

  118. If I remember from other posts by Noel, the young man is not on a list, he continued to serve in Children’s ministry at the church, and the pastors tried to get his record expunged. I don’t remember if they were able to do this, I seem to remember that Noel and Wallace found out about the hearing to expunge and showed up to block it (in court).

  119. HowDee YaAll,


    The pre-SGM, PDI organization was showing the effects of an embrace of a toxic shepherding system, and an ill pathology, long before C.J. Mahaney kicked Larry Tomsczak to the curb and stealthy lead the (then) newly re-named SGM organization into the Reformed Camp.  Metaphorically speaking,  C.J. Mahaney simply moved a characteristically – separatist charismatic shepherding camp into the spiritual orbis of an extreme form of hyper-Calvinism, and  started passing out the KoolAid, while his goons kept order, the rest is history.

    John Calvin’s theology has been made by SGM, into the ultimate restraint system for spiritual tyranny.  This is not what many believe John Calvin had intended when he penned  his later famed “Institutes” nor the conclusion one can draw from his multi-volume biblical commentaries.  

    Individuals, and the society they are comprised , that pursued the glory of God, as the their surest and firmest foundation (and chief end), that was John Calvin’s over arching dream, and over abiding hope for his nation, France, and the city he served while in exile. 

    The problem does not necessarily emanate from John Calvin’s words, but an illness birthed in a pathology of extremes.

    Fighting it’s (SGM) thinking alone will do little good. It is the illness of their pathology that should be addressed as well. 

    [unpacked, & expanded] After actions, that have brought harm to countless individuals, has been appropriately and properly addressed, an illness in a pathology of extremes should  be addressed, as well. Only then, will the people that comprise Sovereign Grace Ministries churches, be refreshed and encouraged to pursue the glory of God, with vigor once again,  as their chief end, in their individual lives and in the life of the society they comprise.


  120. So, with the help of the pastors, a young man gets away with raping a three year old child, multiple times apparently, while the victim and her family are treated like dirt by the church.

    Makes the moving of priests to alternate parishes or dioceses seem rather tame as an offense.

  121. These pastors, to make an effective apology, need to get on their bellies and slither their way to the victim and her family, and grovel while begging forgiveness.

  122. Hello Arce:

    I think they need to go into a new line of work but as many of them have not attended seminary and have few discernible other skills, that will be tough. Plus there’s the reputation thing.

    Most employers Google potential employees and having your name or former denomination’s name come up next to a post with content like yours as follows:

    “So, with the help of the pastors, a young man gets away with raping a three year old child, multiple times apparently, while the victim and her family are treated like dirt by the church.”

    Ain’t great.

    You know, I have to give the Roman Catholic Church credit for one thing. They have always believed that the reputation and power of the church was more important than the well-being of its members, and they have never really suggested otherwise.

    It’s the hypocrisy of certain other churches that wax enthusiastic about how involved they are in their parishioners lives and well being that I find so hard to take.

  123. Hi Sopy!

    Welcome back. Thanks for the background information on Mahaney and PDI/SGM. I am trying to understand the move toward a reformed theology. Was Mahaney always reformed or was he influenced by others? I know that he and Mark Dever have been friends for over 15 years, and I believe Mahaney received some degree of theological training from Don Carson. Do you have any information to share?


  124. Absolutely have not had time to read all of this and SGM Survivors…there’s just plain too much to keep up with.

    One thing that caught my eye….Mark Mullery said “we unwisely used a Peacemaker model for conflict resolution. ”

    Yes, it was unwise but didn’t the Peacemaker people themselves realize it wasn’t appropriate for the situation at hand? Aren’t they the experts? They should have just told Fairfax Covenant Church “this situation does not call for our type of conflict resolution, this situation calls for you to apologize and better care for the victim’s family”.

    After reading on SGM Survivors how messed up the Perp’s family was, and that his mother was a victim of sexual abuse herself, (and probably lots of emotional abuse and having to deal with a schizophrenic husband who threw himself off a railroad bridge to kill himself) I am wondering at what % of churches would have failed at handling this situation which was incredibly complex? It seems obvious to me that professionals should have been handling it, not pastors with a crash course in theology and/or counseling.

    The balance between grace and legalisim can be very difficult to maintain. (The Apostle Paul certainly knew this!) Somehow SGM has preached grace but practiced legalism. I think now they are learning the hard way to always err on the side of grace.

    Josh Harris said they were experiencing the Father’s Discipline. I think Josh is right–and you have to be a child of God to experience His discipline. It might get worse before it gets better, but I don’t think SGM will implode and I think they will come out stronger and more balanced. It might take awhile and I think people should be patient with the process. I am with you guys that the polity really needs to be changed.

    Just my opinion, of course 🙂

  125. Seneca said “It appears, based upon commentors and victims, it was a waste of time for Mark, Lou and Vince to even make an attempt to apologize/repent for what happened in the past. Obviously those who dislike SGM or have felt victimized by SGM are not in any way encouraged by the leaders attempts to apologize and repent.
    And so it goes.”

    I am not sure why you guys jumped all over Seneca for this remark. He is clearly (and slightly sarcastically) saying that people are demanding apologies, and then not accepting them, and it just turns into a vicious cycle. (whether or not you agree, it wasn’t a horrible post)

    This is a blog that is very critical of many religious organizations and people, and I think it is unfair to critisize others without expecting (and tolerating) criticism in return. (unless, of course the poster gets abusive and/or uses foul language)

    There was one thing I learned a long time dialoging online about religion…chances are you’d really like the person at the other end of the computer just fine in real life if you knew them. So, let the opinions be opinions and don’t get so defensive just because the person dared to disagree.

  126. The apology as reported was inadequate, maladroit, etc., etc., and appears more intended to make the apologizer look good rather than express true remorse for their failures and the harm they caused. In this case, atonement would also have been appropriate but, apparently, none has been forthcoming.

  127. Kind of like apologizing after one has been caught and the flashes have been occurring and you know you will be in the paper soon, so you apologize so it can be reported along with the discovery of the offense and make you look less evil.

  128. Shato
    You are doing a good job preaching the SGM line. Have you ever heard of cheap apologies?

    “We didn’t know.”
    “We were ignorant.”
    “We had so many other things swirling around us.”
    “Peacemaker’s made us do it.”
    “But the pedophile was a member of our church.”

    How about “The devil made me do it?”

  129. Hello All:

    A few things:

    @shato – just so you know, I’ve heard that the affected families believe that the apologies contained less-than-truthful statements and they may be publishing some commentary to that effect. I’ve also heard that none of the families were invited to this meeting/told it was happening in any capacity despite the fact that it was supposed to be an apology to them.

    I don’t know if either thing I said above is true, but holding off on judgment until we know whether or not the families concur with the content of the apologies in question might clear up some issues of contention.

    Also one big complaint about SGM is that its pastors are not required to have a college degrees or attend seminary. In fact, SGM demonstrates its opinion of higher education by regularly bragging that C.J. Mahaney, its supreme leader, barely graduated from high school.

    To my knowledge, all SGM pastors have to do is go through a 10-month Bible school program that is not accredited by anyone and is run at SGM’s flagship institution, Covenant Life Church in Maryland. So in theory a 20-year-old with no formal education (I don’t even think that SGM requires a high school diploma and I don’t believe that Joshua Harris, CLC’s senior pastor has one due to his home-schooling beliefs) can be placed in a situation where they have to handle a serious sex abuse problem with people pulling them in different directions.

    Let me contrast that with the way most mainline Protestant churches, including the Episcopal Church in America, train ministers.

    I have a history of anxiety and depression. One day I was really sick and my Episcopal rector (Latin way of saying minister) came to my college campus to get me and take me to a doctor. Among other things I was understandably upset and worried about taking anti-depressants due to my ignorance about them at which point she said, “Janna, I have seen drugs change lives. I believe the Good Lord put scientists and doctors on this earth for a reason.”

    This rector attended college, completed seminary, and underwent the rigorous process of becoming an Episcopalian rector (minister) before she was sent out to minister to people like me in a very serious and very professional capacity.

    I don’t know if she’s dealt with sex abuse issues but I do know that if someone said, “we have to let a dangerous person endanger our kids because they can sue us under an archaic law if we don’t let them on church property” she would have told that person where to stick it. And I believe that the Diocese (local institution that governs a certain number of Episcopal churches) would have supported her decision to do what God, not a lawyer for an insurance company, would likely consider the right thing to do.

    She also followed what I believe was the Diocese’s policy of referring people to mental health professionals if four sessions of counseling from a rector was not sufficient help for them.

    I’m the first one to acknowledge that there are a lot of bad therapists out there but treating mental illness via the medical profession is not a sin any more than using chemotherapy to treat cancer is a sin. And I would take the worst therapist over someone promoting the wacky ideas the founders of Peacemakers come up with any day and twice on Sunday if mental health issues are involved.

    2)@Everyone – I was not bashing ordinary Catholics in my post above. I was commenting on the upper tiers of the church’s hierarchy. I know many wonderful Catholics doing great things for the world despite the influence of the darker side of the institution to which they belong. In fact, I could say that about almost any major religion including Buddhism, which has its downsides despite its deserved reputation for promoting peace and freedom from suffering.

    3) I know that the Detwiler documents are hard to read in their entirety but the featured stories of abuse victims above are not. As the families may be concerned that the details of their experience will inevitably get messed or confused when discussed on the internet, I encourage everyone to read what they really have to say as opposed to asking others to paraphrase the story for them.

    That’s just a friendly (rather than a preachy) suggestion. 🙂

    3) Dee, I and others speculated on the Survivors board that a lot of SGM practices seem an awful like Roman Catholic practices. For instance they have a process similar to de-frocking a pastor whereby that person is said to be no longer gifted even though no sin has occurred. Some people on the Survivors board refer to this as “de-gifting” although I don’t know if SGM uses that term in an official capacity.

    Also, SGM is big on publicly confessing sins and/or excessively privately confessing sins to a pastor which is not something Protestants generally do.

    And of course there’s the SGM top-down polity, which is more aligned with Catholicism than it is with any reformed tradition regarding church government.

    Crude analogies perhaps but still interesting given that both of SGM’s founders were reputedly raised as Roman Catholics.

  130. HowDee YaAll,

    Post Tenebras, Tenebras? 

    “After darkness, darkness?”


    “to bring the dark of distorted Scripture to a darkened world.”


    How the men, giants of  present day reformed theology, cannot see what is so plain, a mother with her children, damaged beyond despair, by this *toxic system can so plainly see, is beyond the imagination of the countless victims of this present darkness that has become synonymous  with these words: “*Sovereign Grace Ministries”.

    I fear, the Lord’s patience shall soon be no more…

    >sad facegrin<

    …might want to step away from the rail, huh?



    Deb, your question…(selah) I'll ponder that awhile, ya hear? Thanx fer da nod! (Mai les étoiles resplendir sur votre page imprimée …)

  131. Sorry to be a bit late on this, I am just now catching up.
    Wallace & I are in the process of writing up our response to Fairfax’s Family meeting. The one we were not invited to.
    It’s not that we are refusing to accept apologies, but when they are filled with outright lies and gross misrepresentations of the facts, it presents quite a challenge. They have our forgiveness, as do the perps, but as long as the spin continues, they do not have our trust.
    For starters, they did not pursue us at any time. It was our family that contacted CJ after reading Noel’s story and being moved to action. We reported the crime to the police and the staff at Fairfax in Oct 2007 and did not hear one word from them until CJ came on board, February 2009. That’s just for starters, our response will detail all that we found to be inaccurate.

    Seneca, we have not provided details about the perps, mainly because they were minors and also because they have our forgiveness. Our pressing charges was as much for them (as it guaranteed professional help for them when at the time all they were getting was counsel from the staff at Fairfax, who were treating it as a simple lust issue and have absolutely no qualifications to counsel a repeat offender) as it was for the much needed validation of our child. One perp was a repeat offender and was convicted in our case of a felony.
    I don’t mind questions, just please don’t assume you can paint each story with such a broad brush such as victimization.
    Deb & Dee, thanks for the great work that goes into this blog. If you’d like to post our response when we are finished, we will send you a copy.

  132. Sopy,

    Tres bien!

    I hope you will continue to comment. You are a great resource on the history of SGM.


  133. Dee,

    I wasn’t trying to make an excuse for SGM’s using Peacemakers, what I was trying to say that if SGM didn’t realize it was a mistake, certainly Peacemaker’s should have realized it?


  134. Dee,

    I totally agree blogs had a big part of putting things in motion. Churches are going to have to learn to be even more transparent in this age of communication. SGM takes advantage of media tools, in fact, they probably were doing it long before other groups. So, now they are at the other end facing media tools. I have no doubt they are learning a lot from the ordeal.

    What I am finding for the most part is that the people who directly had/have experience with SGM seem to be honest, truthful, and genuine in their postings. What I don’t think is helpful are some of the third party comments by people who are just jumping on the bandwagon and twisting comments and adding motives to people they do not know in real life. I cannot judge the hearts and the confessions of the pastors in question. It seems like no matter what they say, how genuine they sound, third party people jump all over them and critisize that they said this, or didn’t say that, or whatever.

    I am not sure arm chair quarterbacking is helping the situation. But I am glad these stories got out. Basically you guys are treating everyone like idiots who stand up for SGM and cheering those who critisize. That’s your choice…but whether you like it or not the people in SGM churches are part of “the church universal” and are your brothers and sisters in Christ.


  135. Shato

    The issue is not people standing up for SGM and their pastors. The issue is that people are not being sensitive to the real issue, which is that small children were raped, and the pastors were part of a cover up of that, and kept the rapists in the church while disciplining the families of the children for not forgiving and forgetting what had happened to those children.

    Pastors do get special treatment — according to Paul, they are held to a higher standard of behavior than the rest of us. And, when they blow it, a real sincere apology, that does not downplay the serious of the wrong they have committed, is needed. The SGM pastor apologies do not make the grade, no matter how teary-eyed. They plead ignorance, when what they have is a lack of education and training to equip them to do the job they hold. And the fact that they are in that position and still ignorant is a failure on their part to correct their ignorance!!!

    As a mediator who attempts to resolve situations in ways that are win-win, I know that the Peacemakers approach would not apply to a rape of a child. It is not that the two sides are in dispute and need to equally move. It is that one side has committed a grievous sin and needs to confess and atone for it, and then to beg for forgiveness. And it takes a FOOL not to see that, or someone who is motivated to protect their own interests and not those of the victim. A reasonable person would suspect the latter, but would probably accept an apology that started: “I was a fool”. Ignorance is correctable and the responsibility of the ignorant person in leadership to engage in that correction. Being a fool is not correctable, however!!!

  136. Janna,

    Only have a minute but I agree with a lot of what you said about educating pastors. When I read Mark’s apology above, I got much more of a sense that they were apologizing to the congregation for how they handled the situation instead of it being a direct apology to the families involved. I could be wrong, but that’s what it sounds like to me.


  137. shato,

    It certainly appears that you are correct. I find it extremely telling that the families of Noel and Wallace found out about the confession AFTER IT WAS ISSUED.

  138. Sopy

    Amen-how anyone with any part of the Holy Spirit could fail to offer comfort to a family and child in this circumstance is beyond me. Or is it?….

  139. Shato

    You said “What I don’t think is helpful are some of the third party comments by people who are just jumping on the bandwagon and twisting comments and adding motives to people they do not know in real life.”

    By this same token, I guess you do not read newspapers or editorials since they are all done by third parties to the situation. I view this blog as a third party that is looking at a wide variety of issues that are of current interest (or a personal interest) to the evangelical community. Sorry that your particular denomination is in the spotlight but that’s the way it goes.

    You SGM guys claim to want to be a witness to the world. You want people to visit and to look at you. CJ jumps around on stages all over America practically screaming for us to look at him. And guess what? We do. If you all went about your business without calling attention to your churches and begging for people to attend, you could have muddled about in relative obscurity.

    But the moment you start writing books, preaching at conferences and telling us how to do church, you are now open to inspection. And that is what is going on. Sorry you don’t like it. Join a small church that is quietly living out the faith, serving the poor, taking care of molested children, that isn’t holding itself up as “the way to do it”, and eschewing the limelight and the chances are TWW will never write about you.

  140. Arce

    You said it perfectly. I do not understand how anyone, who expects to be able to lead an authoritarian church which is in the habit of telling people what to do and not do with their lives, could be so stupid as to not care for a molested child. Even worse, to be so stupid as to apply Peacemakers to such a situation shows a pastor who should not be leading. He needs to resign.

  141. Shato

    Too bad they couldn’t have let the recipients of their abusive, stupid actions know that they were attempting to apologize.

  142. @Shato – thanks for the response. I looked at my longish post and realized I got a little off track regarding Peacemakers. I know that the “therapy” one of their founders offers is appalling.

    I don’t know much about the conflict resolution stuff as their website is vague (perhaps deliberately) but they appear to believe that their conflict resolution process applies to all conflicts.

    I spent some time at the University of Maryland which has a world-class conflict resolution center that’s part of the social sciences department. Any conflict management professional will tell you that different strategies work for different problems, and that the Peacemakers schtick is pseudo social science for that reason alone.

    It’s in their best interest to market themselves as all knowning as a lot of money changes hands between PeaceMakers and Mega Churches in general.

    Even in the secular world, mediators and arbitrators side with whomever is paying them.

    Thus unless Brent Detwiler is giving a boatload of money to Peacemakers this 6-figure (I’m estimating that cost based on what I pay my lawyer and my experience in corporate America)Kangaroo court for C.J. Mahaney is just that, and lots of SGM members are irritated about footing the bill for it.

    If Mahaney really cared about his church he would resign rather than putting them through an expensive silly process. Everyone now knows that whether they like the guy or not. C’est la vie.

  143. Shato said: “I wasn’t trying to make an excuse for SGM’s using Peacemakers, what I was trying to say that if SGM didn’t realize it was a mistake, certainly Peacemaker’s should have realized it?”

    There’s nothing in any of this that tells us that Peacemakers even knew about this situation. My impression is that the leaders had adopted the PM model as a matter of course in every situation after reading about it or being taught by PM or SGM that it was a “one-size-fits-all” resolution model. If anyone knows that PM was actually involved in this situation, I would appreciate any light you could shed on the subject.

    If it’s true that PM was NOT aware of their “model” being used for this situation, this is a prime example of SGM pastors who learned NOT to think for themselves, who learned that, in order to survive and thrive on the SGM totem pole, they must do everything the company way. They swallowed the idea that there’s a pat formula for everything from courtship to marriage to parenting to conflict resolution and everything in between.

  144. Janna,

    I personally think CJ should resign too. For the good of everyone involved. Someone on another blog (Refuge maybe?) made a post that I agreed a lot with. They felt the individual churches should become congregationally controlled, get rid of SGM (or at least their control on local churches) and let the people vote whether to keep the pastors they’ve got or get new ones and even consider pastors outside of SGM. They are going to keep going in vicious circles the way things are now.

    I know other pastors have been forced to step down for much lesser offenses, and I think his own conscience would condemn him. I’m all for grace if someone truly repents, but why should things suddenly be done differently because it is CJ? Just because we are extended grace doesn’t mean we escape consequences.

  145. @nickname – I’m a little confused. I believe that some of the mediators in question were Peacemaker-approved if not actually on the PM payroll, but I don’t have a citation for that. So much money appears to change hands between SGM and PM that it’s hard to believe they don’t know what’s what regarding the others actions.

    However, even if that’s not the case if Peacemakers gave SGM a model that they irresponsibly claimed would for work for any conflict then they were inherently partly responsible for the debacles in question whether they knew of each instance in which their material was being used or not.

    If I were a doctor and I gave you medication that I claimed had no side effects and you developed an ulcer as a result of my false claims, I would be partly responsible for creating your problem even if you didn’t read the label on the bottle right?

    Or am I missing something?

    I’m not big on shifting the blame to PM either but a large part of this church abuse situation can be traced back to the pseudo-psychology and pseudo-sociology they make big bucks pushing.

  146. Dee,

    I don’t go to a SGM Church. 🙂 Really and honestly. I’m not an SGM guy. Besides, I am most definitely a she. I think I told you I fell onto this blog because you were posting on Ergun Caner and happened to see the SGM posts.

    But I won’t deny that I have some knowledge of SGM.

  147. Nickname,

    I do believe Peacemakers was actually involved in a reconciliation process that failed but it’s been quite awhile since I read the original stories. You can find them over at SGM Survivors.

  148. Oops, it was Janna who wondered if Peacemakers was actually involved and not Nickname. Sorry about that!

  149. I think… it might be helpful to look back at some of Kerrin’s older comments (on the Survivors blog) regarding cults and how they work to actively control people.

    Because even though SGM uses “churchy” language, it seems – to me – to be a full-blown cult. (btw, some of my thoughts on this come from firsthand observation + long-term friendships with current members of two of the D.C. area churches… along with my own experiences in similar cult-like churches.)

    For someone who comes from years and years of being immersed in that kind of atmosphere, there’s no “normal” except what is said to be normal by the cult. It takes a lot – including a lot of time – for the mental gears to start engaging again after years (even decades) of suppressing (or maybe I should say repressing?) all dissenting thought – h*ll, all independent thought (via the brains God gave us).

    Realizing that an organization is a cult is far, far easier for those on the outside – for those on the inside, it’s *not* like someone flips on a light switch and you respond with “Aha!” It takes many, many little “aha!” moments over a long period of time for the light to really (so to speak) dawn.

    And it might take even longer to begin to operate – in one’s thoughts (view of oneself) as a competent adult who can make decisions and assessments on one’s own. it takes a lot of courage to start believing that – for anyone who’s experienced abuse, be it in a church, a workplace or in personal relationships where there is an abusive party and an abused party (or more than one abused party).

    I don’t know how far I can stretch this analogy, but I think it’s kind of like the person who knows that they habitually drink too much – way too much (or abuse other substances as well as alcohol/instead of alcohol). That person might well know – on some levels – that they’re making a mess of their lives and the lives of those around them; that they’re an addict. But to take the step of seeking to start working to end their dependence on alcohol/other drugs – that’s actually (imo) someone arriving at a big “Aha!” moment to which a series of smaller “Aha!” moments have been building. (sorry for bad grammar; you get the point, I’m sure.)

    Similarly, it’s far easier for someone who’s outside an abusive relationship to look at someone who’s inside one and say, “Well, she needs to pack up and leave” (or else “She needs to kick him out”). It’s SO much easier said than done – especially because awareness of what’s truly going on doesn’t come all at once… and because there’s so much emotional manipulation involved.


    Regarding the informing (and collusion) from “below” in SGM circles, man… that + authoritarian “leadership” = how Stalin and Stalinism operated. People on all levels – from the lowest to the highest – informed on each other. The system was based on a complete undermining of trust, and it “worked” (the way Stalin wanted it to work) to devastating effect.

    No surprise, then, that the phrase “cult of personality” originated as a description of Stalin.

    Pick up any good book on Soviet history (30s and 40s) and you’ll see an uncanny resemblance to many, many tactics that are common in abusive churches – abusive systems of all kinds, really.

    SGM might be a fairly spectacular example of authoritarian control in a church/denomination, but it’s only one of … well, who knows the actual stats but God himself? Far too many.

  150. OK “She”to

    I tend to call hes, shes; and shes hes because blogging is so anonymous and sometimes I just guess. So, at least you know you are a strong woman! What do you think would be gained by us visiting an SGM church together, like you suggested, in terms of me seeing anything that would change my mind? I have already visited, met some nice people. In fact, many exSGMers are very nice.

    “Nice people” is not the point. We are discussing seriously flawed application of theology, and in some instances, flawed theology. There are incredible people in the Mormon church. In fact, the nicest Denny’s in the world is in Provost, Utah. I had breakfast there and I have never seen such nice people, such a clean restaurant and such warm greetings. That Grand Slam breakfast tasted like dinner at Ruth’s Chris. Does that mean that I should change my mind about their theology?

  151. Nickname

    I think it is interesting that PM has been closely aligned with SGM. I used to think that this sort of ministry was a good idea but am now a bit jaded. I am enjoying America’ s Got Talent, especially Professor Splash who has a penchant for high diving in kiddy swimming pools. Before the stunt, Nick Cannon always says “Do not try this at home.” Are there warnings on PM material?

    The SGM leaders have attended conferences and endorsed material by PM. I say there no excuse, either on the side of PM or on the side of SGM regarding the misapplication (if that is true) of the material

    There is on other big red flag. Sande, who has developed this stuff, is an attorney. When PM gets involved, they have people sign confidentiality agreements. From what I understand, there is no warning given that the people signing the agreement should seek legal counsel. Yet this is a legal document drawn up by a lawyer. I believe this is an ethically questionable situation.

  152. @Shato – I was pretty sure that PM was directly involved in mediating some of the issues at hand but the point I was making is that they’re responsible for the claims they make about their materials irrespective of whether or not they’re actually present at the table.

    @Dee – Arbitration and especially mandatory arbitration is one concept I live to see abolished. I’ll spare you a tirade from me about the legal issues involved and instead send you a link to the foundation run by Jamie Lee Jones, the young woman contractor (age 19 at the time) who was raped in Iraq and unable to sue Halliburton/KBR due to a mandatory arbitration clause in her contract.

    KBR was kind enough to “lose” her rape kit after she went to an army doctor for treatment and told them about the incident. They also imprisoned her in a container with no food or water for 24 hours. Fortunately one of her guards had a conscience and let her use his phone to call her dad who then called a Senator or Congressmen who told the State Department to rescue her.

    She pursued the “egregious mis-use of an arbitration clause” issue even though KBR would have paid millions in a settlement designed to shut her up, and she recently got her day in court after a judge made history by throwing the arbitration clause out of her contract. Sadly there wasn’t much the jury could do as her rape kit was missing and the men in question claimed that the sex was consensual.

    However, Ms. Jones successfully petitioned congress such that contractors who have contracts in excess of $1,000,000 with the U.S. government cannot write mandatory arbitration clauses into employee contracts for issues like rape and false imprisonment. They also have to tell potential employees about any past incidents pertaining to sexual harassment or rape prior to bringing them on board.

    So when people tell me I’m a strong woman the truth is that I wish that was really true, but I’m nothing compared to Jamie Lee Jones.

    If I’d gone through what she went through at age 19 I would have done one of two things: 1) Take the $14,000,000 settlement and keep my mouth shut because this life after all and we can’t fix the whole world; 2) Dedicate my life to destroying KBR even though behind every KBR is another KBR if the motive behind destroying it is revenge.

    At that age, I could never have handled Ms. Jones experience with the compassion and integrity with which she’s handled it.

    And now for that link:

  153. HowDee YaAll,

    betrayal of a trust.


    SGM, Sovereign Grace Ministries:

    A community where the following words come to mind upon thinking about & experiencing this organization:

    pack mentality 

    It would seem that C.J. Mahaney has been allowed to abuse John Calvin’s sensibilities and to use reformed theology and reformed relationships as a shield and as a cloak, masking the processes of his organization for far too long…


    The cracks are telling… (theyz gett’in bigger too!)   he, he

    …and it’s victims litter the landscape… (the stories are telling)

    In time, other big names within the reformed camp will be made to see that. (to there shame… O’ No!)

    Unless… of course…thaze a pass’in out da KoolAid too!

    hahaha aha aha


  154. Pingback: How SGM’s Covenant Life Church and Fairfax Covenant Church deal with sexual abuse « Are Women Human?