Dave Harvey – Give Me One More Chance


“I am amazed that a group of men that have called so many to repentance (for) over 30 years still don’t understand it on a personal level.”

Irv (a former SGM pastor) 

The Colosseum (taken by Deb)

Dave Harvey, acting President of Sovereign Grace Ministries, has recorded a video in which he addresses specific questions that have come to the fore (more on that in a bit). I decided to check out Harvey’s credentials for leading this “family of churches”, and here is what I found at the SGM website.  (link)

“Dave Harvey is responsible for church care, church planting, and international expansion for Sovereign Grace Ministries. He has served as a member of the Sovereign Grace Ministries leadership team since 1995.

Dave has been in pastoral ministry at Covenant Fellowship Church (Glen Mills, PA) since 1986, was ordained in 1988, and served as senior pastor from 1990 to 2008.

He has served on the board of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation since 2006. Dave received a Master of Arts in Missiology from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1989, worked toward a Master of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1993 to 1995, and in 2001 became a graduate in Westminster’s D.Min. program. The subject of his doctoral thesis was the identification and equipping of church planters.”

I had never heard of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary before and have not been able to find the school's website. However, another website I came across indicated that it currently has a TOTAL of 335 students (undergrad and above). It was certainly wise for Harvey to move beyond Eastern Baptist and obtain his Doctorate from a more reputable institution.

When Dave Harvey addressed the KingsWay congregation last September, he informed them that as of June 2011 he would have been in ministry for 25 years. He, Brent Detwiler, and C.J. Mahaney have been close associates for many years.  As you will recall, that was the month before Mahaney began his leave of absence.

Before we get to SGM's recent video, I want to share with you an excerpt of Dave Harvey's “Peter, Polity and Us” message delivered at KingsWay almost a year ago. (link) I listened to it back then and have transcribed the part of the message that really stood out to me. Here are two excerpts:

At the 23 minute mark, Harvey explains what he has learned in helping churches over the last 15 years by stating:

“Little gets resolved in public meetings…. I think it might be wise to save the public meetings for the intended biblical purpose for public meetings, which is to address the unrepentant sinner. Doesn’t seem like that’s really what we’re working with here. Congregations in the New Testament are not called upon to arbitrate matters. That’s congregationalism. That’s not what this church is. This church is something different. This church is an elder led local church, part of a movement of elder led churches, and we’ve been that way from the beginning. Now I want to applaud your pastors for their desire to involve Peacemakers. I applaud that. I think there is a legitimate concern for the clarity and the objectivity and the integrity that a ministry like that can bring…”

Then just after the 30 minute mark, Harvey explains:

“Elders are given the authority for the local church…. It’s an authority derived from the Bible and an authority that is confined to the Bible…. Now there’s another part of this I think we need to understand. There’s kind of a correlation of this because what I’m saying means that the idea of congregational authority is probably a more democratic one than a Biblical one. And that’s not to say that it’s not a form of polity without historical precedent. It certainly does have historical precedent, it certainly does have historical precedent particularly in the last 200 years of the last two thousand years of church history. There’s three forms of prominent church government in the world when it comes to Christianity. There’s Presbyterian, there’s Episcopalian, and there’s Congregational. The majority of churches throughout history have been led either in the Episcopalian model or the Presbyterian model. Over the past 200 years the Congregational model has gotten a little more lift, but it’s important to recognize that you have joined a church that carries that broader tradition and that more historical position of elder-led, elder-ruled local churches in a movement that believes the same and has applied the same since our inception.

Now having said that I want you to know that there are people that believe differently that we love and respect, we love them and respect them. Might not be able to be part of the church. If Mark Dever were standing here right now, I would say to him how much I love him and respect him and appreciate him, but he couldn’t join this local church. He’s congregational; he believes in a different kind of polity….

See, we have to be clear on the reality that people we love and respect can have a different understanding, can have legitimate disagreements. But here’s what’s important. Disagreements are not a problem. It’s just a problem when we think we can create some kind of unique combination of these three different models. I think that’s been tried many times in history and found to fail. And that’s not something that your elders are looking to experiment with either. Don’t feel a call from God to pioneer some kind of new way of doing things. So disagreement is not a problem. If you’ve come here or if over time after you’ve come here you have arrived at a different understanding than when you first arrived in this local church, I want you to understand we respect that. We respect that. That happens, and that shouldn’t intimidate us. I know most folks have not, most people are on board with this, but if you have, I want to encourage you to engage your pastors in that. Let’s not be afraid of that. Let’s not be concerned about that. Let’s examine the Scriptures together. Let’s talk with one another. But ultimately, it may mean that God’s called you to a church that is more consistent with convictions in that area.”

While I was student a Duke, I had a religion professor named Dr. Barney Jones who had a profound impact on my life. He has since gone to be with the Lord. Dr. Jones, was a special mentor to me, particularly during my senior year. I’ll never forget his wise words. He said don’t worry if you discover that you are a square peg in a round hole. If and when that happens, just remain true to who you are and change your circumstances. As I have pursued the faith, I have discovered that I strongly believe in congregationalism, so I could never belong to a Sovereign Grace church based their polity alone.

As I have been following SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge, polity has always been one of key issues discussed. It seems that there has been great confusion over the years regarding SGM polity. Since “change is here to stay” has been the mantra of Sovereign Grace Ministries, such confusion is perfectly understandable. Now that Dave Harvey has clarified that this movement is “elder-led, elder-rule” and shown the door to those who disagree, I believe many have walked through it, never to darken an SGM door again.

In case you haven’t seen Harvey’s video in which he “answers your questions”, here is the link.

I am not accustomed to seeing Dave Harvey, but those who are have had difficulty watching him. His gestures seem to mimick C.J. Mahaney, and I must admit that his body language was distracting. The different camera angles were also distracting to me.

He explains that his audience is pastors and members of SGM churches. Here are the questions that have come up repeatedly:

1. How do we view pastoral authority?

2. What recourse does a church member have when they disagree with a pastor?

3. How should pastors respond when they learn of child sexual abuse in their churches?

4. What are we doing to address the areas in Sovereign Grace Ministries that we’re aware need evaluation and improvement?

Harvey concedes that they haven’t done a good job of communicating in the past, particularly regarding changes in polity. I might add that changes in theology were not communicated well either.

While watching this video, I came up with some questions of my own. Here they are:

1. How does a church member express disagreement with a pastor? What does that look like? Further, do wives have to speak through their husbands or are they free to confront the pastor on their own?

2. Why does Harvey assume that Mahaney will be addressing certain issues in future pastoral messages?

3. C.J. has encouraged approachability according to Harvey? Really?

4. Are the Ambassadors of Reconciliation as objective as Harvey claims?

5. Is Harvey finally focusing on child sex abuse just in case a Washington Post reporter might be investigating SGM?

I especially appreciated this comment posted on SGM’s website in response to Harvey’s video. (link)


“So…all of these things that Dave is clarifying here – principle vs practice – homeschooling, women working, leaving home for college, etc., all came about on CJ's watch – under his leadership, authority, and guidance. And he should remain head of SGM why…? I think he needs to take a pew in the back of the church for a good long while until he is invited to a front seat again.

Also interesting to note Dave refers to CJ's pastoral classes in the future tense. So why not just dispense with the independent review charade, and put him back in charge? Stop patronizing everyone when there is clearly a predetermined outcome.

And for goodness' sake, Dave, drop the 'might have appeared', 'could have been' and 'probably' prefixes to everything. Man up and admit the failures without qualifications; you're going to wear out your tap shoes.”

Andrew (who moderates the SGM blog) responded as follows:

“Dennis, thanks for commenting. Regarding the mentions of C.J.’s Pastoral Ministry class, those do absolutely depend on the outcome of the adjudication panel; but it would be just as presumptive to say that he won’t teach as to say that he will. The point Dave was making was that the topic of handling abuse properly will be something taught to new pastors, and that wouldn’t depend on who ended up having responsibility for the Pastoral Ministry class.”

We want to encourage you to share your questions and concerns in this open forum. It certainly appears that SGM has been hemorrhaging members. Perhaps this oldie but goodie by the Jackson 5 song captures the sentiments of Dave Harvey and SGM leadership.

Jackson 5 – I want you back




Lydia's Corner: 2 Kings 9:14-10:31 Acts 17:1-34 Psalm 144:1-15 Proverbs 17:27-28


Dave Harvey – Give Me One More Chance — 32 Comments

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    I do wonder how it will all play out.

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    Here is my prediction. CJ back in the saddle within three months. Sons in laws given choice pastorates. Some softening of authoritarianism since they have lost so many people. Back to business as usual within the year. You can’t take the shepherding out of the shepherd.

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    Dee: Here is my prediction. CJ back in the saddle within three months. Sons in laws given choice pastorates. Some softening of authoritarianism since they have lost so many people. Back to business as usual within the year. You can’t take the shepherding out of the shepherd.

    Probably as good a prediction as any.

    Brent will be on his one thousandth page of writing about SGM.

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    Brent will be blackballed from any pastorate with even tenuous ties to the new calvinism. I suggest he becomes an old time SBC type.

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    One of the things that struck me about Dave Harvey’s message, was his constant use of the title PASTOR. I counted over 50 times his use of that terminology (pastor/pastoral). Only once did he use the term SHEPHERD, bit that was in relation to “under shepherds” of the Chief Shepherd. I asked why no titles in SGM as senior shepherd, associate shepherd, shepherd in training, or shepherds college.

    The title PASTOR packs a bigger punch. It sounds more authoritative.

    Dave said that pastors do not have the authority to command what the Bible does not command. So I asked, “Why do SGM churches command care group attendance.” Andrew wrote me back and told me to ask my pastor that question. I let him know that I was no longer an SGM member.

    Everyone knows who the pastors are, so I asked, “Why no mention of any prophets on the board or in leadership.” No answer whatsoever. He did not even post that question. Why no senior prophet, associate prophet, or prophet’s college? They still believe in prophets for today last I checked. I guess they just do not talk about them that much. Prophets are too weird. Just sweep them under the rug.

    I asked a current SGM pastor that same question, and he had no answer for me. Where are the prophets? What authority do they have in the church. They are mentioned before pastors in Eph 4:11 and in 1 Cor 12:28, pastors are not even mentioned! “And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.” Did Paul forget about pastors in this verse? Or is a pastor simply a teacher as in pastor/teacher?

    Eph 4:11 is the ONLY mentions of pastors in the entire NT! But Dave Harvey uses the word pastor over 50 times in his video! Go figure.

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    I found it amusing that Dever could not join their sgm church over polity issues but that is exactly where CJ fled to….Dever’s church!

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    This relates to the whole bunch of Reformed Nutters. Looks like John MacArthur is chiming in with exposing Piper, Warren, Keller, Driscoll, and the Gospel Coalition. Thank God that a well known pastor is speaking out.


    Topic One: Hear the shocking audio of a very popular pastor by the name of Mark Driscoll saying that he has visions and sees things that have occurred in the past including rapes, molestations, and demonic activity. Driscoll claims this is a gift of discernment and that the Lord tells him things about people. Is this Biblical? Brannon explains why it is not. Topic Two: Some Kansas City prophets embraced by reformed charismatics? Topic Three: Why do some of these pastors think they need to wear Mickey Mouse t-shirts, dog chains and talk like a junior high student to attract a crowd? Are churches growing that have Godly men that act like adults and preach the Word of God in context? The answer is yes and the churches include many young families. Topic Four: John MacArthur warns of the reformed preachers that think just because they embrace reform theology they have a free pass to act like the world and embrace the culture. Brannon believes Pastors Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and Tim Keller are all examples of reformed pastors that Christians should avoid and he explains why. Brannon believes that many of today’s “popular” pastors don’t have the courage to call out the false teaching of their friends because they prefer to belong to the “club” and receive all the perks that go with going along with the group. Brannon believes the members of the “Gospel Coalition” are a perfect example as its members don’t seem to have the courage or conviction to call out Piper, Driscoll, and Keller for their theological error. Topic Five: Why do these pastors think they need to wear Mickey Mouse t-shirts and talk like a junior high student to attract a crowd? Are churches growing that have Godly men that act like adults and preach the Word of God in context? The answer is yes and the churches include many young families. Topic Six: MacArthur speaks of his shock that John Piper would invite Rick Warren to his Desiring God conference.

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    Eastern Baptist Theo. Seminary was renamed for a past president and is now Palmer Theo. Seminary in Phila., associated with Eastern University, St. Davids, PA. Total enrollment approx 4,000 students. You’ll know it by some well known faculty: Ron Sider and at Eastern: Tony Campolo, Craig Keener, Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, and affliations with the Templeton Family.

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    Palmer (aka Eastern) is *not* affiliated with the SBC… iirc, the regular academic (non-theo) side was a good school back in the day, and might be still. (My info. is very out of date, so I can’t do anything more than make guesses at this point in time.)


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    Eastern is a reputable seminary with several well known faculty. It is at Eastern University and its proper name is Palmer Theological Seminary since it reunited with Eastern University.

    It is not popular with the SBCers because it teaches that social justice is a biblical imperative along with evangelism, accepts both men and women in the Master of Divinity program, and has women on the faculty.

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    @ Arce: It’s part of the ABC, not the SBC, so I suppose that allows people like Al Mohler to show professional disdain for it. 😉

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    Women on the faculty teaching future male pastors anything related to theology is more than the SBC could possibly tolerate.

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    @ Arce: it’s also big on the humanities, which might make it a no-go for a lot of SBC folks.

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    Question for Deb or Dee, do you both support Tony Campolo?

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    Good question. There are some things I agree with-social issues caring for the poor, etc. There are some things with which I disagree-theologicaly.

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    I like what Nothing but the Truth said. Pastor isn’t even mentioned but once in the NT. Their emphasis on pastor is top heavy don’t you think? That way they can continue to rule over everyone’s lives and tell them what to believe. That is their mo so they can continue to be all in all to the people.

    Also ironic that CJ went to a church that doesn’t have the same polity.

    I do believe that CJ will be returned very soon–new and improved-humble as Wilbur- and Brent will join the Pharisical Society of America as he continues to work through the documents he has collected for over 30 years. His book won’t sell too many copies though. He hasn’t realized yet how gracious the Lord was to him to get booted out of their group.

    Dave Harvey will see that the reins are drawn tighter and tighter on the people who attend sgm.(who are like the frog in the pot of water on the stove).

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    I choked on my morning coffee reading Harvey waxing about pastors not having authority to mandate extrabiblical teachings. (taking a quote from NBTT) “Dave said that pastors do not have the authority to command what the Bible does not command.”

    The same Dave Harvey kicked my family and me out of his church for not conforming to his parenting views that were, I can assure you, *not* in the Bible.

    These people codified and taught dangerous and downright abusive parenting practices.

    Their teaching on marital relationships is questionable (Read over at Surivors, the pastors blamed a pediphile’s *wife* for the man’s actions and gave her books that teach you how to pleasure your husband better. Can you imagine! Sort of makes it ok that they predicted the demise of my marriage; add one more inaccurate prediction on their part and my marriage is stronger than ever (31 years.)

    These people have been gulping down the kool aid for so long that they can’t tell the difference between man-made poison and something that God made at this point.

    The observation that DH has odd Mahaneyesque gestures speaks of their emphasis on playing a pre-ordained role. They’re so focused on playing a role they deny their followers their authentic selves; the role-playing takes the place of life living.

    And, honestly, what is role-playing?


    Which is what Dave Harvey is embracing when he suggests pastors do not have the right to tell people what to or not to do if it isn’t in the Bible.

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    A female friend from my church is a professor at Eastern so I suppose they don’t have any hangups about women teaching men.

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    Dee, I share your theological concerns about Campolo. I also share your concern that charity be practiced by the church. Too often it has been left to the government.

    I suspect the concept of charity in the church has been co-opted for a control-oriented purpose as it is now termed “social justice” by many who embrace Marxist ideals. Campolo is a chief adherent in my view.

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    Eagle, good point.

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    Thanks for the info about the renaming of Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hadn’t heard the new name either. Oh well…

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    That’s cause you live in Deep SBC territory — where anything Philadelphia must be liberal, god-denyin, bible rewritin, agnostics, or worse, Mennonite or Amish.

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    Arce, I’ll say one thing for the Amish; they practice sustainable farming, they manufacture goods built to last & they don’t ship their jobs to China. [or was that 3 things?]

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    Hi Arce
    Remember, I became a Christian in godless Massachusetts during an episode of Star Trek.

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    You’re exactly right!

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    A pastor with a study Bible named after him is going to have a tough time speaking up against the personality cults around the neo-Calvinists.

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    while your point was once so true, you’d be surprised to find that the reformed baptist newbies flock to Philadelphia’s historic reformed Presbyterian instutions: Tenth Presbyterian Church (Barnhouse and Boice), Westminister Seminary, as well as the home of CCEF. While Reformed Baptists are new manifistation here(I thought the name an oxymoron), they are infiltrating many of our churches.

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    Seneca a.k.a Jim Brown is at wars with another member of our small church, Martin “Marty” Phillips “Stangela”, No one is acting correctly


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    I am sorry for the conflict.

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    HowDee YaAll,

    It is very hard “not”to get the impression that SGM is a religious soul trap.  


    [SGM Unpacked:]  “…In the SGM mindset, a lack of willingness to submit to others’ assessment of your sin and to acknowledge your sins when confronted with them is almost a sign that you are out of fellowship with God…” 


    [Expanded:] Confession of sin, becomes, in SGM hands, a type of control.  In SGM’s pathology, this confessed “sin” is then used to exert “control” over the unsuspecting individual. 

    [SGMBedrock:] In SGM’s pathology, this is key, seeing that SGM apparently believes it has a biblical “license to confront” you and your sin…

    This may go far in explaining why it takes years of deprograming to break free of the debilitating effects of this religious behemoth, right?


    …Last thing I remember, I was running for the door,
    I had to find the passage back to the place I was before…

    ‘Relax,’ said the small group leader, ‘welcome to the hotel SGM, you are programmed, and deceived,  …you can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!’ 

    They sniff’in for sin at the hotel SGM
    What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
    Bring your alibis…(grin)

    Welcome to the hotel SGM …a prison for your soul…
    Such a lovely place (…Such a lovely place)
    ‘You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave…’

    * They’s  leav’in the light on for ya!


    Sopy  ;~)

    *One day this be said: “The people are the heroes now, the SGM behemoth pulls the peasants’ plow…”