Tim Challies: Deleting Both Scripture and Hurting People; A Request from SGM Refuge

"You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness." CS Lewis

Interacting spiral galaxies, Hubble.

Interacting Spiral galaxies-Hubble/NASA


I know I say this regularly but I believe it is worth repeating. I learned how to look at life differently within the first week of my MBA program. One of those lessons was about the rules of the game. Not merely the written rules but the more important, unwritten rules that lurk underneath any successful business. All of you have been there. If you want to get something done in your company, your boss may not be the one with power. It is actually Fred who is about to marry the CEO’s daughter. So you learn how to do end runs around your boss and make nice with Fred.

This past week, a couple of readers shared their common experience of having comments deleted from Challies.com. Tim Challies is a Neo-Calvinist who talks a pretty good game of theology, Reformed-style. However, Challies has what appears to be an unwritten agenda and we think we know what it is. We are smart, as well as glamorous.

But, before we get to that, let’s talk about blogs.

General blogs:

Blogs are the property of the people who pay the bills to put them online. The blog editors make their own decisions about what they will talk about and what they will not talk about. Most bloggers tell their readers their rules right up front. Others, as you will see, are a bit cagey.

It’s kind of like going to the movies and watching the previews. The movie theater is going to try to induce you to buy popcorn, etc. so they interject attractive pictures of popcorn and drinks. Some theaters actually make sure the smell of popcorn wafts into each theater room. Why? Their profit margin is dependent on sales of food items, which have high mark-ups. In fact, previews are merely avenues for inducing you to buy food since food purchases abruptly decline when the movie starts.

Readers of blogs should understand that they are being sold a perspective on the part of the editors. There can be no expectation of “freedom” on the part of the commenter. The blog can choose to accept or not decline comments ad lib.

Most blog have some standards in regards to harsh language, personal attacks, or staying within the comment thread. Usually these values are spelled out, sometimes they are not. That is up to the editor.

Bloggers have to be concerned with legal issues as well. A blog cannot allow a libelous comment to stand unless they have unlimited resources to defend themselves in a court.

The Wartburg Watch

Here is our bottom line. We are more concerned about those hurt by the church than we are about the feelings of some rich and influential pastors. Those pastors have their admiring throngs, buddies on the circuit and a good old boys club to defend them. That is not the case for many of the people who have found their way to this blog. They share heart-wrenching stories of being shown the door, as well as insulted, by pastors who do not allow for even a slight disagreement.

We are their advocates. If someone critiques a post that we have written, we look for something in that comment that shows an understanding of the little guy and how she/he might have been hurt. If we see no acknowledgment of this issue, we will be dismissive or harsh with the commenter.

Also, we may allow a person, who is outside the faith or questioning the faith, far more latitude in expression than we would someone who is a devoted follower within the evangelical tradition. Remember they are hurt.

We may also encourage those who believe differently than the average evangelical to state their points of view. Many of today’s Christians do an awful lot of self-talk in their closed circles and it is important for us to learn to dialogue with people from all sorts of faith traditions, along with those who are non-believers. Once again, we will cut these individuals some slack. We are not always fair but we have our reasons.

Deb and I view this blog as a community. Some come once, others come and stay awhile. We care about people who stop here and are grateful that they take the time to share their points of view as well as their lives and stories. That is precious to us and we pray for them regularly.

Recently we have had several problems. One person made some potentially libelous statements. Another misrepresents himself, sending us vile messages and uses proxy servers to disguise even his geographic location. These comments were deleted. We rarely delete comments and leave notes when we do so. If a comment disappears, it may be a glitch. Please contact us.

Now let’s talk Challies.com

We are going to inform our readers our perceptions of a barely concealed agenda on this blog. We have no problems with Challies doing his thing but we want to help others who are confused when they visit such a site. In fact, there are a fair number of Neo-Calvinists who have the same style.

Here is the sequence of events.

1. Challies wrote a post with the following question: Should You Go to T4G? Here.

Analysis: He did not need to write such a post. If you are a cool NeoCalvinist, you go to T4G, period. But, being part of the in-crowd he wants to convince the rest of the poor schlocks out there to spend their dough and show up. But, I believe this post had another agenda.

He “interviews” Matt Schmucker, the de facto organizer of T4G, about the reasons why people should come to T4G. But, he then throw in this seemingly out of place question or is it?

“Based on recent events, do you anticipate that C.J. Mahaney will be present and a full-fledged participant?”

Astute readers should ask why this query was a part of this “interview.” When you see something coming in from left field, assume the play is in motion. It is vital for the uninformed to understand that Mahaney, the recently disgraced “Head Apostle” of SGM, is considered one of the de facto heads of  the Neo-Calvinist movement. Warning, warning: you are about to get taken for a ride to a Calvinista truck stop.

2. Here is Schmucker’s seemingly “off the cuff” answer to this question.

“Tim, I have had the privilege to observe CJ publicly and privately through this very public trial. I can report that CJ is taking the reconciliation process very seriously, fully cooperating and humbly submitting to everything asked of him. More importantly, I have been surprised by the grace that is so evident in his life even as he’s digitally fried through anonymous posts. I can assure you that I would not be nearly as gracious.

Yes, I expect CJ to be present and a full-fledged participant at T4G 2012. He is exactly the kind of man we want to stand with—together for the gospel."

Now this is where it gets interesting. Challies, Schmucker, and others such as Ray Ortland, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, all part of the “Neo-Calvinist Illuminati,” appear, to us gullible women at TWW, to be involved in a full court press to get Mahaney back in business. None of them have expressed one ounce of concern for the hundreds of members along with scores of “degifted” pastors who have expressed sickening stories of child abuse, emotional abuse and controlling, authoritarian behavior on the part of members and leaders at SGM over many years. Mahaney has taken off for the hinterlands, leaving his own church, to hide behind the skirts of these patriarchs, like Mark Dever, who are not a part of SGM. These leaders have eyes only for him, not for the little people.

3. Warning: This is the part in which I get mad at Tim Challies. Let’s see what happens next.

Apparently, some people, who claim to have been harmed by SGM, take umbrage with the obsequious (meaning kissy, kissy) statements by Schmucker. They try to leave comments under the post.

David Kjos, the Comment Nazi for Challies, writes the following in the comment section.
“Memo to those who want to bring up the Mahaney/SGM situation: We're not going there. Period.”

And this is where this blogger cries out, loud and clear, “You guys should be ashamed of yourselves! You were the ones who brought up the Mahaney situation and fell all over yourselves, bowing at the altar of Mahaney preservation. You guys have already discussed Mahaney and then you tell everyone else to shut up!  You said:

  • He is submissive
  • He is gracious
  • He is exactly who we want at T4G

This is another puff piece to exonerate Mahaney. It is so ho hum that I almost fell asleep writing this. You guys get to say all the nice stuff and pretend you allow input but you are living a lie.

4. Could it get any worse? Yep.

Another reader, Diane, let us know she asked this question under the above David Kjos comment The blog Reformed Anglicanism copied the comment here.

“What does that even mean? Why not?” (referring to the fact that comments about SGM?Mahaney are forbidden).

Kjos responds, so authoritatively,

"If you don't know, you probably don't need to know. Because this isn't the place for that. "

She goes on to tell us:

"So, this comment sits for a while and then both of them disappear." (Note to rude pastors and comment Nazis: unless it is a vile or libelous comment, it is blog courtesy to say you deleted a comment but since when are Calvinistas instructed in etiquette?)

5. Now for the grand finale in this saga: TWW reader, David, informed us that his comments were deleted.

  • Did he make a comment about Mahaney? Nope
  • Did he ask questions about Schmucker’s comments? Nope
  • His crime? He quoted Scripture.

Yep, plain old Scripture. Here it is own his words.

“Then I read the comments, and saw that any comments about said apostle or his flock are strictly "verboten". All, right, I thought… Just what comments ARE permissible? "Just say no? Heavens no, I won't go?" Those would answer the title question, but I did want to put the blogger to a serious test,

So… I remembered Jeremiah. I considered adding Isaiah 30:10, Ezekiel 13:10-16, and Micah 3:5 but decided to be short and sweet. The entire comment: They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14 and Jeremiah 8:11 (Ed. Note: both verses say the same thing)

Our reader tells TWW that:

”God's comment was there almost a day, and then– it wasn't. Gone… Just with the touch of a button by Tim or a helper. No refutation, no explanation, no form email explaining "your comment was appreciated but deleted". God's Holy Word, disagreed with and deleted, once again.. Although I had fully expected this to happen, I was still surprised at how hurt, shocked, dismayed, and angry I felt.”

6. The response of a gullible and really mad bog queen to Tim Challies:

Tim, once again, I have had some hurt people show up at my blog and you have contributed to this problem. Is this how you handle questions at your church? Is it your way or the highway? Do you delete people from your congregation?

Sir, you did not have the class to throw a bone to those people who have been hurt by SGM. Do you care? Or do you care only for your fellow rich, influential Calvinista leaders?

Let me make an “observation.” (Ask CJ what that means). Jesus spent most of his time with the lost, let down and looking. He comforted them and listened to them. He ate with them and walked with them. Conversely, He spent quite a bit of time chastising the Pharisees who placed unimaginable burdens on the people. Jesus called them white washed tombs and snakes.

Have you spent time talking to those hurt by SGM or even those hurt in other authoritarian churches? Would you like to talk to the huge numbers of people who have landed on our blog after being given the left boot of fellowship by members in your mutual admiration society? I recently heard a pastor say, after returning from one of your conferences, that he wished he, too, could get a book deal. Wow, he sure learned a lot about Jesus. Is this what it is all about?

To our readers:

Your blog queens took an enormous risk when we were contacted by a well-known, very hip, Neo-Calvinist pastor a number of months ago. We cannot tell you his name due to the promise of anonymity in our email section.We care for those who are hurting so we decided to put ourselves on the line. We thought that a kind and thoughtful pastor might engage us and ask us why we thought such things. We had heard he was a good guy and didn't march to the same sort of drummer.  

So, besides expressing our concern for his recommendation of Ezzo’s books, we asked him to try to talk to his good friend, CJ Mahaney, on behalf of the many people who had contacted us about their painful experiences within this church. This was a few months prior to the blowup at SGM.

Folks, it was a hard but we care so much for the people who have lost their faith or who are barely hanging onto their faith because of the actions of this family of churches. (Family-yeah right) Guess what? As with his response to our concerns about Ezzo, he told us we were guilty of character assassination in regards to Mahaney. He never ONCE mentioned the hundreds of people who are hurting out there. Nope, all he cared about was his good buddy, Mahaney.

We learned another fact about this pastor that might be relevant. He was fundraising for his church and asked his congregation to forgo moving up to a new house and give the money to the church. Shortly after making that statement, said pastor bought a much larger home in a much nicer part of town. Could this be a symptom of a bigger problem within this movement?

At first I decided that it was a useless contact since all it got me was mad. But, I now realize it wasn’t for not. I began to understand that this whole thing is about these rich and influential leaders who take care of their own. Who are their own? Not the people in their congregation but the leaders who take care of one another. They would give up anyone in the flock, perhaps the entire flock, before they would ever question the tactics of their friends. So, he did us a favor. Alice learned a little more about the game of Wonderland and is less naïve (but still gullible and easily deceived according to these guys).

This crowd is a different group of pastors, dear readers. If you have learned one thing from this post, “let the tither beware.” Find the good guys out there. There are quite a few. Find a pastor who might show up at the hospital when you are sick. And run from the ones who push conferences.

One final thought, if any of you have had similar situations while dealing with your pastor or a Christian blogger and would like to share it with our readers, please feel free to contact us via our emails.

Oh, almost forgot this. Should you go to T4G? It depends if you want to hang out with folks who think that CJ Mahaney is "their kind of guy."




On a different note:

We were contacted by Jim over at the SGM Refuge with a request to promote the Adjudication Petition, which is a request to include Brent Detwiler in this process. This petition is for those who have been affiliated with SGM at some point. We are very happy to assist in this matter and ask that our readers go to the following site to read further and sign the petition here


Correction: 11/5 From Jim -SGM Refuge

Thank you so much for posting a link to the Adjudication petition!

One small correction (not in the CJ “observation” sense of the term :-) ) The petition is open to everyone. BTW, I had nothing to do with it’s creation. A current member of CLC started it. Please see below:

I would like SGM to accept Brent back into the adjudication process.

I understand that on October 11 Brent declined the adjudication proposal that Bryce (AoR) sent to CJ and Brent on October 3. But less than two weeks later Brent reversed his position and asked to be let back into the adjudication process: he was willing to accept the adjudication proposal.

By signing this petition, I am not necessarily agreeing with any of Brent’s documents, blog posts, allegations, or positions he has taken the last many months. I simply think SGM should do the right thing and let Brent back into the adjudication process.


Note: if you wouldn’t mind identifying yourself as one of these 5 categories, that would be helpful.

1 – Current SGM church pastor

2 – Current SGM church member

3 – Former SGM church pastor

4 – Former SGM church member

5 – Never been a member of an SGM church



Lydia’s Corner: 2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13 Romans 15:23-16:9 Psalm 25:16-22 Proverbs 20:16-18


Tim Challies: Deleting Both Scripture and Hurting People; A Request from SGM Refuge — 69 Comments

  1. dj pomegranate
    Do you know the history behind this? Mark Driscoll blamed pastor’s wives for letting themselves go. Several others have said that bloggers are guys dressed in bathrobes, sitting in the basements of their parent’s homes, eating Cheetos.

    We wanted our readers to be assured that we always blog in style, wearing name brand clothes. It is our commitment to you, dear reader, that we will never let you down. You can read us in full confidence that we are as well dressed as we are smart. Today I am wearing a J Jill shirt with Coldwater Creek jeans. However, we never discuss lingerie.

    Happy confidant reading!

  2. Hi Pastors,
    Am making my way through “What Good Is God?” by Philip Yancey. Am sure you’ve both read it, but if not, it’s great! And in light of the current conversations about SGM, legalism, and adherence to codes of behavior, I wanted to share this thought from his chapter on alcohol and AA:”His(Bill Wilson) group started with a dependence on grace, acknowledging that its members would never achieve perfection. Absolutes, said Wilson, either discouraged alcoholics of gave them a dangerous feeling of “spiritual inflation.” Over time the perfectionist group shriveled up and disappeared; grace-based A.A. has never stopped expanding.”(Forgive my probable misuse of quotation marks…I’ve never quite mastered their use.) Thanks for letting me share!

  3. Jack Allen,

    Thanks for your Bill Wilson quote on grace. I’ve always admired him. I’ve written on alcoholism and AA in my work. The results of AA – and the recovering alcoholic’s dependence on grace – speak for themselves.

  4. jack allen

    Wow, that is one of the few Yancey books that I have not read. It is now on my list! Thank you.

    I worked in an alcoholic /substance abuse hospital for a short while. I will never forget what one counselor, a recovered alcoholic, said to a very pompous police chief. When this man, quite inebriated, said “Do you know who I am?” the counselor said,” Yes. You are a drunk like the rest of us.”

    There are far too many conference speakers, masquerading as pastors, who have gotten caught up in the own hype. Christians need to be able to say, “yeah, I know who I am, I am sinner like everyone else and by God’s grace, I am saved.” Then, they need to be able to reach out to the rest of those hurting in the churches across America. preaching grace instead of condemnation.

    Oh, wait, I just remembered. They don’t condemn the rich, the conference speakers and the influential, only those nobodies in the pew who have been deeply wounded by their friends.

    I am so glad to hear from you!

  5. Thank you so much for posting a link to the Adjudication petition!

    One small correction (not in the CJ “observation” sense of the term 🙂 ) The petition is open to everyone. BTW, I had nothing to do with it’s creation. A current member of CLC started it. Please see below:

    I would like SGM to accept Brent back into the adjudication process.

    I understand that on October 11 Brent declined the adjudication proposal that Bryce (AoR) sent to CJ and Brent on October 3. But less than two weeks later Brent reversed his position and asked to be let back into the adjudication process: he was willing to accept the adjudication proposal.

    By signing this petition, I am not necessarily agreeing with any of Brent’s documents, blog posts, allegations, or positions he has taken the last many months. I simply think SGM should do the right thing and let Brent back into the adjudication process.

    Note: if you wouldn’t mind identifying yourself as one of these 5 categories, that would be helpful.

    1 – Current SGM church pastor
    2 – Current SGM church member
    3 – Former SGM church pastor
    4 – Former SGM church member
    5 – Never been a member of an SGM church


  6. Bravo, Dee!

    Instead of trusting in the Sovereignty of God with regard to the commenters on their websites, these guys DELETE anyone who would tarnish their image before a watching world (or their buddies like CJ).

    I’ve got news for them. God is in charge, and if their actions are outside of His will, dire consequences will follow…

  7. Jim
    I will add a correction to the post and leave this here for those who have already read it. i am sorry i didn’t fully understanding how open this process is. Thank you for being one of the blogs who truly cares for those hurt as opposed to one that show deference to those who cause the pain.

  8. dee

    I really appreciate your willingness to stand up for those who are hurting. I left “The Corrupt Religious System” in the early 90’s – through much pain, tears, and “Spiritual Abuse.” When I tried to explain what I went through – Why I was NO longer going to a church – NO one understood or cared. Pastors, even my friends, gave me the standard abusive line – I was “Rebellious.” They said I just couldn’t submit to “God Ordained Authority” and I needed to be in a church so I could submit. Tears – Tears – 🙁

    It was a lonely journey. NO internet then.

    BUT – In Jesus Christ there is always a benefit – All things do work together for good. 😉
    The “Abuse” drove me to Jesus. And he is the best. Yes?

    In my experience with Pastor/Leaders and haveing been in Leadership shows me…
    No matter how loving… eventually…
    No matter how humble… eventually…
    No matter how much a servant… eventually…

    The Pastor/Leader will “Exercise Authoriy.” ……. (A No, No. – Mark 10:42-43)
    The Pastor/Leader will “lord it over” God’s heritage….. ( A No, No. – 1 Pet 5:3)
    That’s always the beginning of “Spiritual Abuse.”

    There is No excuse for Abuse….

    “Pastor/Leader” = exercise authority = lord it over = abuse = always.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – Jesus

  9. dee

    Seems most who take the “Title” Pastor/Reverend desire “Celebrity.” To be well known.
    That simingly innocent “Title” comes with something – “A Little Bit Extra.”
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Honor – Glory – Recognition – Reputation – etc…
    ALL those things that become “Idols” of the heart. All those things Jesus spoke against.

    And the Bible warns us to “hew down “the graven images” of their gods.” Deut 4:14 KJV.
    But, instead, we make the “Title“ Pastor a “graven image.” An “Idol.”
    “A Graven Image” on Diploma’s and Denominational licenses, placed on office walls.
    “A Graven Image” on business cards handed out, books, Conference Ads, tracts.
    “A Graven Image” on office doors, secretarys desks, church letterhead,
    on Sunday morning bulletins, church street signs, , etc, etc…

    And anyone who reads them knows who “the Pastor” is. Yes? … Is that – marketing self?
    Is that – “He who speakes of himself seeks his own glory?” John 7:18 KJV.

    In my experience…
    Titles become Idols ………. (“Idols” of the heart – Ezek14:1-11 KJV)
    Pasors become Masters…. ( Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called Masters. Mat 23:10)

    And these “Idols,” carried in the Pastors heart, are unseen to the natural eye, extremely difficult to lay down and walk away from. They become an addiction. And like any addiction – you never have enough – you always need more and more to satisfy the addiction. You think you’re in control, tell others you’re in control but the addiction controls you. You’re in bondage to an addiction – and a lie – and you don’t know it.

    Power corrupts – and absolute power – corrupts absolutely.

    And in my experience with “Todays Abusive Religious System.” This “power” corrupts ALL who attempt to wield this “power.” This “power” they think they have – to rule over others – to be obeyed – to be someone special – to be someone important – to be a leader – is leading them to – Burnout – depression – hopelessness – discouragement – failure…

    This addiction to – Power – Profit – Prestige – is like other addictions – it destroys those who believe they can handle it. These addictions NOT only destroy the Pastor – They also destroy the Pastors family.

    The statistics – for burned out pastors – say…
    80% of pastors’ spouses wish they would choose a different profession.
    80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families.
    77% say they do NOT have a good marriage.

    Jer 50:38
    A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up:
    for it is the land of “graven images,” and they are mad upon their “idols.”

    A land of “Titles and idols” in the heart. Senior Pastor, Associate Pastor, Youth Pastor,
    Singles Pastor, Reverend, Right Reverend, Most Right Reverend, Pope, Cardinal, Clergy,
    Vicars, Rectors, Doctors, M Div’s, and the list goes on… And on… And…

    Are any of these Titles/idols in the Bible?

    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give *flattering titles* unto man.
    For I know not to give *flattering titles;*
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
    Job 32:21-22 KJV


    And by the way – This comment was removed from the blog of Thabitib Anyabwile. 😉

    He had done a nice job, quite a few posts, about “Celebrity Pastors.” 🙁

    I tried posting again under Reply to Mark and Ken – That was also removed.

    I asked him – If I was banned – but NO answer.


  10. A Amos

    What makes me smile are the number of pastors who get an honorary doctorate and then expect to be addressed as ” Doctor.” Why is this?

    I wish some of these bloggers would throw anyone who comments a bone. But, they are too busy writing books, going to conferences and, in Twinkle Toe Thabiti’s case, salsa dancing his way to patriarchy.

  11. Amos
    i have a new philosophy about church. I focus on other people in the local church, get involved with ministries through these friendships and take some of the teaching with a grain of salt. Instead of being involved with pursuing “leadership,” I spend time leading my own life, with the Spirit’s input, and following the call that God has given me. The less I base my happiness on what church leaders are emphasizing, the more contented I am with my own life.

    In case someone is reading this and is thinking I am on my own, I am not. I read, probably more extensively than many, I am a member of a small group with people I like, i attend church regularly, and learn from a variety of excellent teachers within the world wide church. And, as many can see in this blog, I work out my faith in fear and trembling in the public eye.

  12. deb
    These guys will use Scripture to “prove” that they are 100% correct in their actions. Calvinistas have formulas for “correct” doctrine. but, they base it on their favorite verses. There are many who pontificate and fewer who actually care for the lost, letdown and hurting. These verses are in the Bible as well. I think many of them need to see who jesus spent time with. He certainly wasn’t running around to conferences and getting His Torah signed by the Pharisees, if you get my drift.

  13. dee

    Then there’s – the C.E.A. – Chief Executive Apostle – NO kidden – Saw it with my own eyes. 😉

    Best I can figure is …

    “Titles” are “Idols.”

  14. I like your take – “philosophy about church.”

    “The less I base my happiness on what church leaders are emphasizing, the more contented I am with my own life.”

  15. A Amos: 
    I think you’d like the website by a couple of old friends of mine, George and Michael. Here’s an article on “Authority” but many others deal with the pastor/leader subject. http://awildernessvoice.com/authority.html
    I was on the wrong side of that equation with Michael for awhile, when I’d been appointed Associate Pastor (without congregational input). Once I had that title, I tended to “censor” “comments” by folks like Michael which seemed critical of the Pastor who’d appointed me.  Hmm..  God delivered us all from that situation, but that’s another story.
    Here’s a “bone” on an “unbiblical” topic from the same site I think you’ll like, by the fictional Dr Reverend, Apostle, Nimrod Aloof Snobfellow     

  16. Appalled
    Would you like to tell your story in a post? Your transparency is moving. Your transition to where you are today could serve as a warning to others so trapped in their own “authority.” Send me an email if you are interested.

  17. Appalled

    Thanks for the address – I skimmed the article about Authority – good stuff.

    “All through the Old Testament God made it plain **He would rule over His people;** they were not to be like the other nations. He would be their judge, and He would go before them and fight their battles! Wow! What a poor trade, a human king in place of the God of the universe to lead and fight for them!”

    Most today never question why Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leaders?”
    For you have “ONE” leader – the Christ. Mat 23:10 NASB

    And NONE His Disciples called themselves leaders… 😉
    They ALL called themselves “Servants.”

    New American Standard Bible – Mat 23:10-12.
    Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – says – Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.
    Mat 23:10-12 – The Message…
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    At the wedding feast – it was the “Servants” who got to see the miracle of the wine.

    The ruler – just thought they saved the best wine for last. John 2:1-9.

    If someone calls themself a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader”…

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?” Hmmm?

  18. Dee:
    Will do. But i try not to be harder on myself than i am on others. Some pastor counseled me that.

    A Amos:
    I’m guessing your posts were removed due to quoting too many scriptures. 🙂
    Ken’s post there is still good for both shepherds and sheeples to consider.
    “Here’s an idea. Have them all write their books for their own congregations only. Publish no sermons on line except to say “Go to church and listen there.” No tweets, blogs, call ins or mailing lists. No conferences, no book giveaways, no forums. Become obscure and see if the church survives. If it doesn’t then shame on us all.If it does then maybe we all will get a dose of true humility.” I hope my excerpting it doesn’t get it deleted, too.

  19. “…David Kjos, the Comment Nazi for Challies, writes the following in the comment section…”

    Is that like a soup Nazi?

  20. Muff
    You are NOT allowed to ask questions. Move to the left. Get off of my blog and no soup either! Hmmm, how did I do? I don’t sound very convincing, do I?

    The Soup guy tried to open a branch here. I visited it once but the experience was like visiting a cafeteria. It didn’t last long. I think the experience is the key, not the soup.

  21. Appalled
    Jesus did the hard part. We all fall under grace. We can’t try hard enough and that is why Jesus came. I think SGM name sholud be changed to STHM-Sovereignly Trying Harder Miseries.

  22. In terms of comment deletion, dialogue, and such, here’s an interesting quote from Michel Foucault about the difference between entering into dialogue and being a polemicist.

    “I like discussions, and when I’m asked questions, I try to answer them. It’s true that I don’t like to get involved in polemics. If I open a book and see that the author is accusing an adversary of ‘infantile leftism’, I shut it again right away. That’s not my way of doing things; I don’t belong to the world of people who do things that way. I insist on this difference as something essential: a whole morality is at stake, the morality that concerns the search for truth and the relation to the other….
    ….The polemicist, on the other hand, proceeds encased in privileges that he possesses in advance and will never agree to question. On principle, he possesses rights authorizing him to wage war and making that struggle a just undertaking; the person he confronts is not a partner in the search for the truth, but an adversary, an enemy who is wrong, who is harmful and whose very existence constitutes a threat. For him, then, the game does not consists of recognizing this person as a subject having the right to speak, but of abolishing him, as interlocutor, from any possible dialogue; and his final objective will be, not to come as close as possible to a difficult truth, but to bring about the triumph of the just cause he has been manifestly upholding from the beginning. The polemicist relies on a legitimacy that his adversary is by definition denied.”

    Many of us have helped make these folk polemicists. We have hung on their every word, and let them be experts in preaching, theology, ethics, science, politics – basically whatever they have spoken about. Now, we all have opinions about the economy, global warming, the Bible, etc., and usually those opinions are not taken to be canonical. But when some of our evangelical pope/theologian/rock stars speak, we think they must be right, regardless of the topic. People are not supposed to receive that kind of admiration; it really does set people up for a fall. Too many evangelicals have allowed these people to think for them, with the predictable result that those at the top have become unbalanced.

    Everything they say is right; therefore true, therefore biblically sound. If someone opposes their opinion, it is tacitly equated with opposing Scriptural insights, which is then opposing God. Why let someone challenge God on your blog? Now, it happens that God’s truth is mediated through the blogger, but that’s not what’s important. How can you not be polemical against wolves who are destroying sheep, the sheep who you must feed with God’s truth?

    There is no room for discussion or dialogue because those who aren’t with you are against you, and therefore against Christ. And, to come full circle, since you are an expert about everything you talk about, if people oppose you on any issue or in any way, you don’t need to listen.

    There are polemicists in seminaries, pastorates, and on blogs. The sad thing today is that polemicists in evangelicalism are often polemicists against other evangelicals.

  23. Wow… We have Soup Kitchen references here now. At another blog they had hundreds of comments just about a pastor’s soup kitchen/rescue mission joke/jab. Meanwhile, that pastor’s denomination/ family of churches shows less than twenty comments each on any of their official blog posts about matters of possible importance to said family.

  24. Appalled wrote: “Here’s an idea. Have them all write their books for their own congregations only.”

    I notice that a book by Joshua Harris titled “Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place In The Family Of God” was published on Aug. 16. It’s a reprint of his 2004 book, “Stop Dating The Church!”

    The head pastor of a church in trouble having a book with this title released? It seems to me to be, at the least, insensitive. It’s almost a sick joke.

    A friend tells me that practically nothing short of an Act of God can cancel or postpone the publishing of a book after the date has been determined. But I doubt that a relatively small, specialized publisher (Multnomah) would have that problem. I like to think that Harris tried to postpone it, but I don’t know.

    Any other comments about this? Am I making too big a deal of it?

  25. Steve
    That has to be one of the best explanations to the state of affairs in today’s evangelicalism/Calvinism. I thank you for taking the time to write this out. Let those who have ears to hear…

    One other thing, I look at this blog as a means to build dialog and community. The folks who visit here are not ideas but people created in the image of God. There is more at stake in a dialogue than winning the argument. It is finding a common ground and learning to respect and care for each other without giving up on the essentials.

  26. Jeff –

    PRAYER REQUEST – It probably isn’t good timing on that book. Then, again, it might be the last thing on Joshua’s mind at the moment. There is much going on in his church at the moment. That church seems to be distancing themselves from SGM and are currently rewriting their polity. If you know anything of the history of that particular church, you’ll have an understanding of what I’m talking about. If you don’t know their history, then just pray for them. As a matter of fact, just pray anyway for the leader’s of all the churches in SGM that they would be lead by the Holy Spirit in their decisions and not fall prey to fear of man or fear of anything else. This upcoming week is the time to really be praying as there is a pastor’s conference that will be like no other in their history. I’m praying and hoping for a total rewrite of history on this one 🙂

  27. Appalled –

    You know why there are so few comments posted, don’t you? It’s not because folks aren’t hitting the “Post Comment” button. That is also why there are two other “unofficial” blogs devoted to that family of churches – sad, but true.

  28. Appalled

    i have found that blogs, written by certain leaders, often have few comments. Why? No potential possibility for disagreement exists. Who wants to go to a blog in which everyone says “Great post, anointed one?” People are interested in a free exchange of ideas. They also want to be treated as having something important to say.

    Have you ever noticed the suck-ups on these blogs. They proudly post their full name and gush over the anointed one’s thoughts. Who in the world, except for those who stand to benefit (maybe the pastor will say hi to them next Sunday or even, just maybe, consider them for a care group leader position), wants to expend precious time at such a place?

    When we started this blog, there was a bit of “ha-ha” around the town from the theological”giants.” They, of course, decided we were mean spirited and predicted our demise. Their blogs get few comments or visits. why? They are self congratulatory treatises about themselves and the same ho-hum theology-same old , same old.There is little vitality which comes from the Spirit’s move in the lives of all believers sharing their unique perspectives.

  29. Jeff

    Of course it will not be postponed. We are talking money here-on the part of the author and the publishing house. The SGM “apostles” and their admiring co-leaders from other churches have perfected the art of self promotion via books and conferences. Everything is full steam ahead. There is nothing new under the sun and this proves it. Know this-harris is paid by the church, the publishers and the conference+speaking gigs. That, sir, is how you make money-lots of it. it is not about the problems in SGM. It is about the money for the big boys. SGM’s issues do not matter to anyone but those who are hurting. And those who are hurting matter to us but not to the Christian media money machine.

    It is worth making a big deal about this . Get the word out. It is ridiculous.

  30. Bridget

    On Monday’s post, we will add this comment under a new section at the end for prayer requests. Thank you for writing it so i could see it quickly.

  31. Deb

    Seinfeld made this guy famous. Leno and some of the others all filmed themselves getting into trouble with the Soup Nazi (Move to the left)!

  32. Bridget

    I’m very aware of the history of SGM and CLC, and I know what’s going on now. You’re right to encourage prayer. One thing I’ll pray for is that CLC and the other churches will separate from SGM.


    Thanks for your reply and encouragement to get the word out. It confirms what I suspected. Compared to the others, Harris is a “good guy,” but he’s still part of the good ol’ boy network. Keep the money flowing, even when the book subject couldn’t be more ironic or in worst taste, given the timing.

  33. Jeff
    My prayers will be for a change of heart and may Harris and the others truly understand that the ministry of Jesus was not about power, money or control. It was about grace and love.

  34. Re: the soup Nazi— must be fictional character— can’t imagine real people forking over good money in order to be bossed around by someone who’s supposed to serve them………just can’t be real…..must be dreaming!
    Simce I hadn’t heard of Al before, I earlier just picked up the old-fashioned soup kitchen idea and ran with that.
    Seriously, I’m also praying for the grace and love of Jesus to abound, even when that means some tables get overturned.

  35. First time commenting here…

    Dee: love your philosophy about church. As a recent departee of an SGM church, I’m kinda taking the same approach, being very, very cautious about what I’m getting myself into.

    Regarding Challies: The last time I posted a comment there – over a year ago – I was viciously attacked by other “brethren” who didn’t appreciate my politically incorrect views, which I thought I expressed in a kindly manner. It wasn’t Tim or his sidekick, but other commenters. I was shocked by the vitriole spewed at me. I haven’t ventured to comment since then.

  36. For Freedom,

    Thanks for your comment, and welcome to TWW! I am thrilled that you are moving away from the legalism of SGM. Just checked out your blog and am grateful that you included us under your links.

    Rest assured, we are following the SGM saga, and we will report any breaking news.


  37. Appalled

    The Soup Nazi is real, that’s what is so funny about it! However, I wonder if he turned did it for a joke. His personality is a bit weird. Who knows?

  38. Muff
    This is the home of the transformed Soup Nazi. At this site, you get the soup minus the oyster crackers.

  39. For freedom

    i may pontificate tomorrow on my evolving view of the church , especially the church which abuses. This one will get a few calvinistas mad at me.

  40. Hi Dee,

    I hope you do pontificate. I have been very disturbed by what I have seen in the last year or two especially. This is whagt I have noticed- 1)much emphasis and teaching on loving the local church- if you do not attend one, you are not really a Christian. 2) The reason for getting into said local church–the tithe teachings- my goodness I have never heard so much money talk. 3)Pastor as a god to be obeyed and admired and worshipped-he speaks-we do. 4) New emphasis on slander meaning anything at all that is spoken that is negative, even if it is a true fact and not spoken with a hurtful motive, just the fact that it is unflattering at all is now defined as slander. 5) Slander against a pastor esp. is THE worst sin–see comment #410 by Oswald at the latest sgmsurvivors post–unbelievable.

  41. Diane, and for the rest of you following this thread:

    TWW is worse than a porn site-naughty, naughty!

    Here is the comment by Oswad today at SGM Survivors #410
    November 6th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
    “This morning at CovFel we had a message from Malachi 2:1-9 by Jared; emphasis on vss 5-8. We were reminded to be gracious and true in our speech, not causing any to stumble by what we have said (or read). It was said that it may be more destructive to go to an un-gracious website where half-truth and opinions are put forth, than to go to a porn site. And, we should avoid hearing from men who would try to lead astray by speaking twisted things from Acts 20:30.
    It seemed like a scolding for any who fit the mold. The sermon will be online probably by Wed.”

    This is patent nonsense. I look forward to sharing some of my evolving thoughts on church, most likely tomorrow. Diane, you hit it straight on. I will quote you.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  42. Well, I guess that pastor can stand before his Maker one day and explain why he thought it was better to go watch porn instead of having open discussions on a blog about issues in the Church. The disciples had discussions in the open quite often. Jesus was not afraid of what his errant disciples often came up with. He usually lovingly corrected them on on the spot. Besides – is this pastor judging these sites without visiting them himself? – naughty. Is he visiting these sites? – naughty again by his own standards. Why can’t people be trusted to weigh things for themselves? If leaders would point folks to Christ and encourage them to read their Bibles and trust in the work of the Holy Spirit, they wouldn’t even be worrying about what people are reading. Many pastors/leaders these days seem to have very little faith in God to complete what He has begun. Leaders ACT like you can’t function without their oversight, while with their words they claim humility – ugh! I’m quite fed up with this nonesense!

  43. Bridget2,

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. Times are indeed desperate in SGM if they are likening blog discussions to pornography. Absolutely incredible!

  44. Deb
    I have an idea for a real Christian porn magazine. We feature pastors teaching nonsense and do center foldouts with mega church pastors, fully dressed, whilst attempting to be cool. Aw, we would never get it past the FCC-It is too horrible to imagine! Now teaching faulty theology and abusing the congregation, that is PORN!

  45. “Is this how you handle questions at your church? Is it your way or the highway? Do you delete people from your congregation?”

    It’s called church discipline.

  46. Amanda

    Boy have these guys changed the meaning of church discipline!! It used to be for frank, public out of control sin (like a guy dumping his wife and 4 kids and moving in with a bimbo). Now, it is used for a simple disagreement or a differing perspective. i know a pastor, who upon arriving at his new church, immediately brought up the issue of discipline. Yikes! I am going to talk a bit about this today.

  47. Deb & Dee –

    I like the idea of a magazine focusing on all nonesense! BTW I like the word “nonesense.” It has two connotations for me – silly, ridiculous, what are you thinking, and the other is no sense, foolish, and let’s add plain idiotic as well to this one. You could fill volumes with “nonesense” just from the past 50 years from various church leaders!

  48. Just noticed this from 11/03 on Challies’ blog:

    “Rescuing Ambition – Dave Harvey’s book Rescuing Ambition is on sale in the Kindle store for just $2.99. It’s totally worth that price.”

    I wonder if Dave is happy with that endorsement.

  49. Jeff
    May God convict the hearts of these men. May they see things through the eyes of the wounded.

  50. Jeff
    Once again, no mention of the abused. This is my bottom line. They are not men when the stick up for the strong and throw the hurting to the wind. Can you tell I am upset?

  51. You’re welcome. But do you see the (probably unintentional) humor in that Challies post on 11/03?

  52. Jeff
    Besides the fact that his book is being pushed over at the Pastor’s Conference? Nice quid pro quo.

  53. Yes–Challies’ book is being given away for free at the PC from what I have read. Additional humurous Challies post from 8/17 looking back at it now:

    “I guess this is the kind of situation I typically comment on since, in some ways, that’s what I do on this blog: I try to write about what is of interest to Christians in this little slice of the Christian world.”

    Yep-just like it says…Informing the Reforming…well, except if you have a question or two, then not so informing; or if you happen to disagree, the informing turns into a magic show–now ya see your comment, now ya don’t. But, only after an “and that’s all I have to say about that” non-informing moderator response.

    “Yet I have hesitated, not because I am in any way formally connected to SGM or CLC and not because I have anything to lose.”

    I find this funny. No comment needed. Oh, what the heck. Maybe not formally connected, whatever that means, but I do notice a -how did they word it on his church’s website- “a close association” with Sovereign Grace Church Toronto–An SGM church.

    But then again a close association is not a formal connection.

  54. Diane
    He has never ONCE mentioned those who have been deeply hurt by this ministry. As far as I am concerned, he has lost any moral authority with that alone. And now, with his book being pushed by SGM, he has shown his true colors. May God convict his heart.

    TWW remembers, first, the SGM abused and forgotten, always.

  55. Has Al Mohler ever compassionately mentioned those deeply hurt? Ligon Duncan? Any of them? Anyone on the “impartial” panel? I would like to see the quote if I am wrong.

    I will say this Dee; one of the things that has me so down about churches (other than what I commented earlier) is this promoting and protecting of the leaders as top priority and at all cost. Of course, I know why they do it. It’s just business, right? So I am left with this–where is the compassion and mercy that Jesus showed to the suffering? Where is the love for people that Christ showed? These are pastors…at churches…and they supposedly take care of souls…and I find that rather terrifying.

  56. Church discipline? Martin Luther tried to discipline the Catholic church, and many people are now trying to discipline the SGM church. The best way to discipline “the church” is to leave it. Get out and come back to freedom in Christ.

    NOTE: – The Greek word ekklesia does not mean church. So when I say “the church”, I am speaking of a man made religious system – not the body of Christ.

  57. Diane
    The compassion is shown in the people who are not part of the frozen chosen. It is the widow who gave her last penny. It is Jesus who spent His time with those NOT in leadership. It is the Samaritan stopping at the sie of the road to care for those the leaders would not. These are the true church. The rest of them are playing “authority.”

  58. David
    Luther tried to reform the church. The Pope tried to discipline him. And when it was no longer possible for him to do anything within the church, he started a new church body which eventually was called Lutheranism.

  59. dee,

    I was using the term “church discipline” in an entirely new way. It was meant to have a touch of humor to it by talking about the church itself being disciplined! It was a play on words with some real applications.

    Discipline is meant to reform. I do believe the entire SGM system is being disciplined/reformed.

  60. Do you think T4$ ….er T4G will be giving away copies of the Humble Apostles book on Humility?

    We may not be “well served” by reading it!

  61. TW
    I appreciate you bringing these observations! 🙂 Frankly, that is one book that deserves to be burned during a protest.