C.J. Mahaney and Business as Usual at the SEBTS 20/20 Conference

“Given all these developments, C.J. should not be a council member on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood or The Gospel Coalition,” Detwiler said. “Nor should he be speaking in seminaries or at conferences around the nation and world. Those that know him best know he is in need of private repentance and public confession.”

Brent Detwiler (ABP News)


Binkley Chapel – SEBTS

Well, it was business as usual last weekend at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) as C.J. Mahaney addressed college students at the annual event.  According to a post on the SEBTS website:

"The Southeastern annual 20/20 Collegiate Conference featured speakers Daniel Akin, Bruce Ashford, C.J. Mahaney and Darrin Patrick. This year’s theme, Gospel and Mission, examined the centrality of the gospel in the Church’s mission to the broken world. 

Approximately 700 people attended the 2013 20/20 Conference held on Southeastern’s campus.​.."

In case anyone is wondering how the number of attendees (700) compares to previous years, 900 attended in 2012. When C.J. Mahaney last spoke at Southeastern's 20/20 Conference, a whopping 1,400 college students came.  Here is an excerpt from a report entitled Conference brings gospel to life, young people to seminary campus:

"Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus came to life over the weekend as 1,400 college students and young adults flooded the grounds to hear from well-known speakers about how to see the gospel come to life.

The February 6-7 conference, which sold out days in advance, was held on Southeastern's campus in Wake Forest, N.C. Students came from around the country to listen to pastors Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney, Southeastern president Daniel Akin and Bill Brown, president of Cedarville University, as part of Southeastern’s annual 20/20 Collegiate Conference…"

Perhaps Mark Driscoll was the draw that year and not Mahaney. Who knows?  As our readers know all too well, Driscoll has come a long way since 2009, but he's definitely gone the wrong way… 

Upon his arrival to SEBTS, Mahaney delivered the Thursday morning message in Binkley Chapel which he titled Deflating the Puffed Up Church.  The message was based on 1 Corinthians 4:6-13, which states:

" I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you!  For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.  We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute.  To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things."

Mahaney, who is famous for his "canned" talks, delivered this same message on February 11, 2011, at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Perhaps not surprisingly, it was the prequel to Southern Seminary's collegiate conference – Recalibrate – at which Mahaney also spoke.

In light of the negative press Mahaney is generating, it is interesting that he is warning seminary students about being 'puffed up'.  Pot, meet kettle…

In the wake of C.J. Mahaney's appearance last weekend at SEBTS, further criticism has been leveled at him.  Now news sources like the Associated Baptist Press (ABP) are sounding the alarm.  Several days ago, the following article appeared on the ABP website:  Embattled C.J. Mahaney visits SEBTS.

That article, which draws attention to the problems C.J. Mahaney is facing, states:   

"Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, took a voluntary leave of absence in June 2011 after charges of “pride, uentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hyprocrisy” were leveled against him by a former Sovereign Grace pastor. After review by three separate panels, Mahaney was reinstated six months later.

In the fallout, 13 churches left the network of about 100 congregations, including the founding church, Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., where Mahaney was senior pastor for 27 years.

Last year, Sovereign Grace Ministries moved its headquarters from Maryland to Louisville, Ky., in part to strengthen ties with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Mahaney started Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, the network’s first congregation in Kentucky or Indiana.

Last October, three anonymous women named Mahaney and other Sovereign Grace leaders in a lawsuit in Maryland claiming a cover-up of sexual abuse of children in the 1980s and 1990s. An amended lawsuit filed Jan. 11 alleged 143 separate charges involving eight victims, including an alleged “pedophilia ring,” where perpetrators were not reported to police and went on to prey on other children."

As we are closing in on 100 days of silence from The Gospel Coalition crowd, it is mind-boggling that they have yet to address these serious charges.  

Just yesterday, ABP News featured an article on the recent actions of Brent Detwiler, one of Mahaney's former colleagues in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The post – Former Aide: Mahaney Should be Sidelined – states:  

"A former associate of a pastor named in a class-action lawsuit alleging a cover-up of sexual and physical abuse of children has called on Christian leaders, including Southern Baptists, to remove the disgraced minister from leadership roles and stop inviting him to speak at religious venues.

Brent Detwiler, one of four founders of Sovereign Grace Ministries who left the church-planting network over differences with President C.J. Mahaney in 2009, sent a letter dated Feb. 6 to 77 national leaders, including presidents of three seminaries owned by the Southern Baptist Convention."

Brent Detwiler, one of the four founders of a church network that has become known as Sovereign Grace Ministries, had been a long-time friend of Mahaney.  On February 6, in the wake of Mahaney's appearance at the 20/20 conference, Detwiler sent a letter to 77 Christian leaders appealing to them to read the lawsuit.  Here is a list of those who received his correspondence:

Mailing List:

Danny Akin                                                             
Thabiti Anyabwile                        
Voddie Baucham    
Alistair Begg
John F. Bettler
Jon Bloom
Ian Booth
Jerry Bridges
Mike Bullmore
Robert C. Canada Jr.
Don Carson
Matt Chandler
Tim Challies
Bryan Chapell
Lane Dennis                        
Mark Dever
Kevin DeYoung
Mark Driscoll
Iain M. Duguid
Ligon Duncan
Sinclair Ferguson                
John F. Frame                      
Richard B. Gaffin
Mark Galli                            
W. Robert Godfrey
Wayne Grudem
Michael A. G. Haykin
Dennis Hollinger
Michael S. Horton
Robert Jones
Douglas F. Kelly                 
Simon J. Kistemaker
Ted Kober
Andreas Johannes Kostenberger
Tim Keller
Edgar Keinath
Timothy S. Lane      
John MacArthur
Michael Milton
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Russell D. Moore
Stephen Nichols
Moss Nplha             
Marvin Olasky
Ray Ortlund, Jr.
Burk Parsons
Paige Patterson
Richard Phillips
John Piper    
David Platt
David Powlison
Vern S. Poythress
Guy Richardson
Phil Ryken
Ken Sande
Pete Schemm
Thomas R. Schreiner
Alan Schuster
Scotty Smith            
Winston T. Smith
R.C. Sproul
Ed Stetzer
Sam Storms
Justin Taylor
Tullian Tchivdjian
Bryce Thomas
Derek W. H. Thomas         
Paul David Tripp
Carl L. Trueman
Gene Edward Veith, Jr.
Donald S. Whitney             
Bruce A. Ware
Stephen J. Wellum 
David Wells
Edward T. Welsh
Luder G. Whitlock
John D. Woodbridge

The reason he decided to appeal to a wider audience of Christian leaders is due to the recent arrest of a former Covenant Life Church member.  Mahaney served as senior pastor there for 27 years, and the alleged crimes took place under his watch.

The ABP article goes on to state:

"Detwiler said under the circumstances he hopes the Sovereign Grace board of directors will cancel Mahaney’s future speaking schedule, but if not organizers should reconsider his invitation to speak at events such as the 2012 Gospel Coalition national conference April 6-10 in Orlando, Fla.

“It is understandable that C.J. has become a celebrity in the Reformed world given his wit and wisdom,” Detwiler said. “But these are not the things that qualify a man for ministry.”

Detwiler said Sovereign Grace Ministries now faces a situation where its president and other key leaders "are at the center of a class-action lawsuit that alleges atrocities of the worse kind were covered up for reputational and financial concerns."

“Given all these developments, C.J. should not be a council member on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood or The Gospel Coalition,” Detwiler said. 'Nor should he be speaking in seminaries or at conferences around the nation and world. Those that know him best know he is in need of private repentance and public confession.' "

Lydia's Corner:   Deuteronomy 26:1-27:26   Luke 10:38-11:13   Psalm 76:1-12   Proverbs 12:15-17


C.J. Mahaney and Business as Usual at the SEBTS 20/20 Conference — 18 Comments

  1. Just in case the Gospel Coalition crowd’s block out of information hasn’t been 100% successful – 1 Corinthians 4: 6-13 is tailor made for CJ’s starry-eyed, easily duped hearers to infer that their beloved Ceej is a reviled, persecuted, slandered apostle who is pressing on humbly and bravely in the face of unjust criticisms and accusations. Puke-worthy!

  2. MM,

    Yes, that occurred to me as well. 

    The College at Southeastern (established in 1994 by the trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary under Paige Patterson's reign) has approximately 450 students according to the North Carolina Alumni Guide.  I would imagine that a large percentage of the 700 conference attendees go to college right there in Wake Forest.  


  3. Some of our readers may not know that the local CRU group – comprised of students from N.C. State, Meredith College, Peace, and Wake Tech – has 700 – 1200 students who attend weekly.

    Despite the fact that both Tony Merida (organizer and promoter of the 20/20 conference) and C.J. Mahaney spoke at the two CRU meetings just prior to the conference and likely plugged the event, it ‘appears' not many students took them up on their offer (if indeed the conference was promoted at CRU).

  4. Eagle,

    I, too, would like to know CRU’s guidelines on speakers or if such guidelines exist.  Here in the Triangle, a good number of speakers appear to fall into the Neo-Reformed camp, as do a number of the churches they recommend on their websites.  Hmmm……  


  5. Considering the audience, that seems like a strange passage to preach from. I'd like to listen to it to see where he goes with it, but I don't know if I can bear it.

  6. It sickens me to read through that list of men and realize not one of them has had the courage to say something publicly in almost 100 days.

    It sickens me that there are apparently no women close to them who are speaking out.

    It sickens me that these men apparently don’t realize what a terrible witness this all is to the world and the shame they bring to the name of Jesus.

    It sickens me that if there were men and women leading together there is no way 100 days would pass without someone saying something. These men have a huge blind spot and I sincerely think part of it is due to their very strong complementarian views.

    It sickens me that if it were two men writing here at TWW, the men on that list would have already responded. But because TWW is written by women, they apparently think it is beneath them to take this site seriously.

    This is the perfect example of why I decided to change my blog over Christmas and cut way back on my intake of these topics. It so sickens me that I seriously had to get away from it.

    And we wonder why people despise Christians? God help us all.

  7. Sallie,

    Well said! I am greatly disturbed by the silence, but I am infuriated that they keep giving Mahaney the stage! Shame on them!!!

  8. Sallie –

    Love the name of your blog! I wish all the tinsel town pastors would start living the quiet simple life that Christians are encouraged to live. I don’t think most of them are familiar with those passages.

  9. The whole situation is shameful and frustrating.

    In light of everything going on re: SGM, Mahaney, and unqualified leadership, the Calvinista crusade against women in ministry seems even more ridiculous than it normally does.

    Keep qualified, godly women from using their gifts in the church, but empower lazy, ineffective male leaders, who harm (or allow others to harm) innocent little ones?

    Absolutely ludicrous.

  10. Jeff Crippen,

    Agreed. The conference speaking circuit has gotten WAY out of control, and certain individuals need to be banned from the stage.

  11. Pingback: TheWartburgWatch.com: The Silence of the Shepherds | The Jesus Realm

  12. I wouldn’t mind the silence if they had the maturity to sideline Mahaney until this is settled. Actions speak louder than words. I am sad and ashamed that this group of men would risk permanent damage to the name of Christ and his church for – what, exactly? I really think a lot of these men haven’t got a clue about the changing moral landscape and the effect of public media upon perception and brand. The actions of TGC up to this point, particularly given the temporal proximity to the Penn State scandal, have been interpreted in the popular mind as the actions of a “good ol boy” network that is more concerned with profit than with justice. Perhaps this judgment is earned unfairly, but it is there nonetheless. While we would love to see some genuine Christian character and love, at the very least we can admit that the choice to remain silent shows a lack of worldly wisdom and shrewdness.

  13. “A few of the names on that list need to get a letter to themselves about themselves, asking them not to invite themselves to any speaking events.”

    Hee Hee. Exactly right.

  14. “And we wonder why people despise Christians? God help us all.”

    Sally, Over the weekend, a friend of mine went through a litany of how what passes for Christianity in many places today is actually worse than the world. We have a Christianity in quite a few places that uses Jesus and their positions to excuse horrible behavior. They actually twist the bible to protect evil as in saying discussing the wrong teaching or behavior of leaders is “gossip”.

    Here is a big irony concerning Mahaney. Mahaney thought the church more qualified to deal with sexual predators than the civil authorities. But many of his defenders are now saying they will wait for a verdict and that Mahaney was innocent until proven guilty.

    But wait! That is the exact opposite of what Mahaney taught in PDI/SGM for many years. Now, he can hide behind the opposite of what he taught! Talk about hypocrites.

  15. Pingback: Louisiana College – More Wagging the Dog | toddlittleton.net | toddlittleton.net

  16. I had previously inqiured about Youngren and now in my search on Sovereign Grace Ministries (which are apparently a mix of reformed theology and charismatic practise an interesting mix indeed!) I came across your blog again. May I suggest that rather than only looking at individal denominations and analyze them for their teaching and practise that people also look at the individual churches and the ministers in those churches to see whether they are abusive or not. Two books I would recomend along this line are:THE SUBTLE POWER OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE (Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church) by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderenTWISTED SCRIPTURES by Mary Alice ChrnalogarI hope these are of help to people.

  17. Javier

    Welcome to TWW. We have reviewed the book The Subtle Pwer of Spiritual Abuse. It is one of our most favorite books. I look forward to reading Twisted Scriptures. Thank you for your input and welcome to TWW.