“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

*Title is a quote from Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays, Vol. II: 1926-1929

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

 

“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”
― Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil 


The Historical Background of “American Evangelicalism’s Biggest Sex Scandal to Date.”

My purpose for writing this article is to expose men in leadership positions in the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination who, in my opinion, should have faced church discipline and criminal charges years ago for participating in the sexual abuse of children, covering up the sexual abuse of children, or both. I believe the evidence overwhelmingly shows the victims in the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace spoke truthfully. While a few men have been convicted of crimes, most have avoided criminal prosecution and a major civil lawsuit was dismissed due to Statute of Limitations rules. Additionally, these pastors/leaders never faced church discipline and several are in national leadership positions within the Sovereign Grace Churches denomination.

 

Below is an audio segment from an interview of attorney Bill O’Neill by Janet Mefferd. This interview took place on May 16, 2013. The subject was the 2nd Amended Lawsuit filed against leaders of Sovereign Grace Churches for the alleged sexual abuse of children and the alleged conspiracy to cover up the abuse by Sovereign Grace leaders. For those interested in listening to the entire interview you may go to this link. Here is a link to an article titled “Latest Interview About the SGM Child Sex Abuse Class Action Lawsuit” by Christine Pack of the Sola Sisters blog. The article contains links to other pertinent audio files.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._J._Mahaney
For nearly two years now, I have remained silent about a civil lawsuit brought against various parties including myself. During that time, many have urged me to respond publicly and address the accusations against me. These pleas have only intensified over the last week in light of reports of testimony in a recent trial. I look forward to the day when I can speak freely.

For now, the simple and extraordinarily unsatisfying reality—for myself and others—is that in the face of an ongoing civil lawsuit, I simply cannot speak publicly to the specifics of these events. Even with those constraints, however, let me be clear about this: I have never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me in the civil suit.

I am deeply grieved for those who suffered abuse while part of Covenant Life Church, as well as those beyond the church who were abused—and I continue to pray for justice to be served on their behalf and for God’s healing grace in their lives. I’m saddened, too, by the confusion and damage that has resulted from public comments and speculation about these events. Still, my trust remains in the Lord, who comforts the brokenhearted and promises in his justice and in his time to right every wrong.

In the grace of the gospel,

C.J. Mahaney -Senior Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville and former Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Ministries
May 22, 2014

 

“Let me be clear that we deny – in the strongest terms possible – that any Sovereign Grace Leaders conspired to cover up abuse as alleged in this lawsuit.”

-Mark Prater, Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Churches. “An Open Letter to Members of Sovereign Grace Churches,” October 9, 2014.


I will not take the time to make the case that C.J. Mahaney and Mark Prater have published statements that, in my opinion, were knowingly false. Others have already done a thorough job of that. (To this day they have not retracted their statements; to the contrary, I published a story last Friday which shows Prater continues to make claims of their innocence.)

If you are unfamiliar with the sexual abuse scandal and conspiracy to cover it up within Sovereign Grace Churches I suggest you read the following articles:

“The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the Rise and Fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries,” by Tiffany Stanley, The Washingtonian, February 14, 2016.

“Response to Sovereign Grace Churches,” by Rachael Denhollander

“The Conspiracy to Cover Up the Sexual Abuse of Children Under C.J. Mahaney Grows as Shannon Truesdale Comes Forward to Tell Story of Abuse by Her Father & Sister,” by Brent Detwiler

“UPDATED: Hush Fund Used by Top Sovereign Grace Leaders to Meet the Demands of a Sovereign Grace Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused,” by Brent Detwiler

“John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board & Alleged Sexual Sadist,” by Brent Detwiler

“Gary Ricucci & the Conspiracy Surrounding Convicted Felon, David Adams,” by Brent Detwiler


Why Church Membership Covenants are Superfluous

Dee and I, among others, have written many articles urging people not to sign a church membership covenant/contract and it appears word is getting out. I believe SGC has made a concerted effort to keep any mention of Membership Covenants off of their websites. I conducted a thorough search of 12-15 individual churches in the SGC denomination and only found 2 churches that referenced Membership Covenants (See page 54 here and here).  These contracts, pushed and popularized by Mark Dever’s para-church 9Marks organization, are a tool professional clergy members use to keep the laity under their thumb. Sovereign Grace Churches utilizes them.  Listen to what Mickey Conolly told Sovereign Grace pastors at their 2017 Pastor’s Conference:

 

“If you don’t have a church discipline statement that people sign off on at membership time you’re in big trouble; and get one if you don’t have it because it will help you (the pastor), it will serve you (the pastor), and it will protect you (the pastor).”
-Mickey Connolly

Conolly’s statement above is proof that even a Sovereign Grace leader occasionally speaks truthfully. This comment must have been missed by officials in the SGC Ministry of Truth!  That’s understandable as listening to Conolly pontificate is a guaranteed cure for insomnia. Unfortunately for the “giving-units” attending Sovereign Grace Churches, membership contracts offer them no protection against the well-paid professional clergy members.

Alleged Sexual Abusers Remain in SGC Leadership Roles

Let’s examine of few of the paid professionals in SGC, starting with John Loftness. Here is a short bio of the man, culled from Brent Detwiler’s blog:

John Loftness
– Principal at Covenant Life Elementary School in Gaithersburg, MD (1981-1986)
– Managing Editor for People of Destiny Magazine (1983-1989)
– Executive pastor at Abundant Life Community Church in Pasadena, CA (1989-1990)
– Pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD (May 1990-2007)
– Senior pastor at Solid Rock Church in Riverdale, MD (2007-2014)
– Senior pastor at Living Hope Church in Bowie, Maryland (2014-present)
– Board of Director for Sovereign Grace Ministries (Jul. 2011-Feb. 2013)
– Chairman of the Board of Directors for SGM (Apr. 2012- Feb. 2013)
– Regional Leader over Mid-Atlantic churches for Sovereign Grace Churches (2018-present)

I will spare my readers the graphic descriptions of sexual abuse of a young girl alleged to have been carried out by John Loftness, you can find the horrid account in an article written by Brent Detwiler titled, “John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board & Alleged Sexual Sadist,” the same article from which the quote below was taken.

 

Jessica Roberts-Thomas is a student at one of the premier law schools in the country.  She was added as a Plaintiff in the Second Amended Complaint (SAC) filed on May 14, 2013.  I casually knew her parents, Jim and Ann Roberts, at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the 1980’s.

Reference to her allegations against John Loftness first appeared in the legal document, Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motions Alleging Pleading Failure on March 27, 2013 in footnote 3 on page 5.  It reads, “Plaintiffs’ are going to be amending the FAC [First Amended Complaint] to add more parties, one of whom alleges Defendant John Loftness physically and sexually abused her as a child.”

Complaints 86-93 in the SAC set forth her factual allegations.  Complaint 86 begins in 1983 when she was five years old in kindergarten.  Complaint 93 ends around 1988 when she was 10 years old in Sunday School (i.e. Children’s Ministry).  She was born in January 1978.

Plaintiff Roberts-Thomas gives seven distinct accounts of abuse.  John Loftness is presented as her primary abuser.  Five pertain to him.  Steve Griney as her secondary abuser.  Two pertain to him.  Four of the five accounts associated with Loftness make reference to physical and sexual abuse.

Roberts-Thomas has an older brother by four years, James Roberts.  He too was added as a Plaintiff in the SAC.  Complaints 32-39, 44 set forth his factual allegations.  He cites David Adams and Nathaniel ‘Nate’ Morales as his abusers.  He alleges John Loftness conspired to cover up the alleged crimes committed by Adams.

John Loftness’s alleged abuse took place nearly 38 years ago, yet he has faced no church discipline or criminal charges. Quite the contrary, Loftness has kept his job as a pastor and steadily climbed the corporate ladder of SGC, today holding the position of Regional Leader over Mid-Atlantic churches!

Incredibly, Jon Payne, an assistant pastor at Sovereign Grace Gilbert when I was a member, went on to “plant” a church in Texas. Payne demonstrated (IMO) that he is unqualified for the job of Pastor when he proclaimed on social media that one of the benefits of partnering with Sovereign Grace Churches is the ability to have John Loftness preach at your church!

Payne suffered no repercussions from lauding an alleged pedophile. Rather, it appears that if you support a friend of C.J. Mahaney you will be fast-tracked for senior leadership positions in the SGC corporation. Payne is now on the “Global Leadership Team


Gary Riccuci, his Dad, C.J. Robin Boisvert

The quote below is taken from an article authored by Brent Detwiler titled, “Gary Ricucci & the Conspiracy Surrounding Convicted Felon, David Adams.”

Gary Ricucci is a Defendant in the Second Amended Complaint of the class action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries and Covenant Life Church and is an alleged co-conspirator in aiding and abetting sex offenders.  He works with C.J. Mahaney in Louisville, Kentucky.  His biography appears on the church’s website.

“Drawing on over 35 years of pastoral experience, Gary serves Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville primarily through pastoral care.  In his day job he serves as Director of Student Care for the pastor for the men and families in the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College.  He is married to Betsy and they have two daughters, two sons and four grandchildren.  Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville is the second church Gary has planted with C.J.”

Ricucci has been around since the beginning.  The first church he “planted with C.J.” is a reference to Covenant Life Church (CLC) in 1977 though he and C.J. did not plant it alone.  Larry Tomczak, C.J. and a group of men planted it together.

Mahaney fled the accountability of CLC in August 2011.  Ricucci followed his example and left in October 2011.  Ricucci went to Solid Rock Church with John Loftness where Mahaney later joined them in January 2012.  These three men, along with Grant Layman, are the four alleged co-conspirators who worked together in order to protect pedophiles and sex offenders operating at Covenant Life Church.  Loftness is also alleged to be a sex offender and Ricucci is alleged to have assisted Loftness and Steve Griney in carrying out their alleged crimes.

Alleged pedophile Jeff Truesdale and Gary Ricucci were good friends as Truesdale testifies to in these screenshots from his Facebook account. Truesdale went so far as to label the second post “Breakfast with a Champion!”

Confession is good for the soul, Jeff Truesdale. You and your daughter Suzanne should follow the example of a true champion – your daughter Shannon – and confess the details of what took place not only in your home but among Sovereign Grace leaders.

C.J. Mahaney, in his statement of innocence I quoted at the top of this article said:

“I look forward to the day when I can speak freely.”

No, he doesn’t. Mahaney made that statement seven years ago.  He has had ample time to “speak freely” but has not done so. Why not? In my opinion, the answer is obvious – Mahaney was up to his neck in the conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children. He has chosen to lie to all his celebrity friends who in turn made public statements of support.

For Mahaney to now come clean would be very costly, but that is what any Christian should do. I would especially expect it from a man that “wrote” the book on humility.

Here is a statement from a woman whose children were abused. She attended the Sovereign Grace church in Fairfax.

Instead of speaking truthfully, Mahaney and his band of sycophants have done just as Wade Mullen has told us abusive systems do.

“Abusive systems will condemn you for calling them to give an account for their harmful behavior. Such a response puts YOU on the defensive and asks YOU to be the one to give an account for YOUR behavior. They change the focus and control the conversation by reframing the problem.”
-Wade Mullen

Brent Detwiler, a former leader in Sovereign Grace has written many articles exposing the deceit and abuse within SGC.  I have linked to several above. Here is an official statement about Detwiler that is on the Sovereign Grace Churches Website. Please note that SGC cannot even be accurate in their statement. How so, you ask? They imply that Mahaney has no national job within the organization, but that is no longer true. Prater and the boyz “gerrymandered” a new district for Mahaney.  This is not a widely known fact, it was very hard to find, but Prater let it slip that Mahaney is the Regional Leader of the East Central region.

Wayback link to SGC statement on Brent Detwiler. 

Additionally, several leaders have attacked Detwiler while remaining silent or even praising men within their denomination who I have written about above.

Jared Mellinger, Senior Pastor at CFC (Mark Prater’s home church) tells his church that going to Brent Detwiler’s website is worse than visiting a porn site.

Mickey Connolly urges his church not to read any information Detwiler has published.

I will leave you with this gem from C.J. Mahaney.

Whispering – “How did this happen?” Well, I don’t know the specifics, but if there is justice in this world I know several more men in the SGC denomination that should be disqualified from ministry.

Comments

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” — 92 Comments

  1. “I know several more men in the SGC denomination that should be disqualified from ministry”

    I’ve heard enough. The whole of SGC should be disqualified from ministry, dissolved, and fade into obscurity … multiple victims deserve nothing less. I can’t believe folks still attend and support their churches.

  2. Well, church discipline seems often to fall on a sliding scale depending on relationships and positions. The dear leaders get relative slaps on the wrist while the pew peons are beaten into conformity.

    Interesting these churches ignore the very “church discipline” their own holy book prescribes and substitute their own. But then they wouldn’t be able to wield power over others and power is what it’s all about.

  3. Nancy2(aka Kevlar): cult

    – shared commitment to dehumanize some while empowering others.
    – shared commitment to abide by “truth” that is scientifically provably false.
    – shared commitment against the fair and equitable self-interests of [some] group members.

  4. Phoenix: The dear leaders get relative slaps on the wrist while the pew peons are beaten into conformity.

    When will the pew peons simply get a belly full and leave?
    Or do they enjoy being abused in a bizarre form of religious sadomasochism?

  5. Muff Potter: When will the pew peons simply get a belly full and leave?
    Or do they enjoy being abused in a bizarre form of religious sadomasochism?

    Here’s the deal …

    Jesus said “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

    Folks ensnared by cults like SGC are not hearing Truth and are not free. The are disciples of the error of men, not disciples of Jesus. They don’t abide in His Word … they abide in a filtered version of it which is not the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.

  6. Alleged Sexual Abusers Remain in SGC Leadership Roles

    PRIVILEGE OF PASTORAL (PRIESTLY) RANK.
    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED! WOMAN, SUBMIT!”

  7. Muff Potter: When will the pew peons simply get a belly full and leave?

    Or do they enjoy being abused in a bizarre form of religious sadomasochism?

    The Great White Throne a la Jack Chick is a powerful motivator to stay in line.
    “BEGONE FROM ME, YE CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE! JOIN THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS!”

    “Fear always works!”
    — Acting Mayor Bellwether, Zootopia

  8. Max: It certainly meets characteristics associated with cults.

    So does Deep Throat Driscoll’s new digs in Phoenix.
    According to Eagle’s coverage, he’s going full-honk David Miscavage.
    As well as reinventing his look from pudgy kewpie doll in Mickey Mouse T-shirt to Amos from The Expanse.

  9. Headless Unicorn Guy: reinventing his look from pudgy kewpie doll in Mickey Mouse T-shirt to Amos from The Expanse

    Driscoll has proven to be a master at reinventing himself. He first came on the scene in “emergent” church with Rob Bell et al. … then went resurgent into New Calvinism … and after being submergent for a season when Mars Hill ousted him, showed up in Phoenix with a suit on. He’s still trying to find himself.

  10. I see Greg Dirnberger listed there as one of their leaders. If that’s the same guy who came to Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist from Hawaii in the early 90’s, then he is the one who, shortly after arriving at Bethlehem, had to have a season of discipline for cheating on his wife. After that he was restored, of course.

  11. Headless Unicorn Guy: Amos from The Expanse.

    Perhaps they think the Creator sent them here to dispose of me as they see fit. If I thought they were sent by the Creator, I might be inclined to think they have the right to dispose of me.

    Thank you Chief Seattle.

  12. Frank Hainey: Greg Dirnberger listed there as one of their leaders … had to have a season of discipline for cheating on his wife. After that he was restored, of course

    Of course! IMO, a “pastor” who cheats on his wife should be permanently disqualified from ministry. But in the world of dudebros, anything goes. (And don’t drag the story of David into this mess!)

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy: The Great White Throne

    “The Great White Throne”….a sometimes slangy reference to the toilet.

    Muff Potter: When will the pew peons simply get a belly full and leave?

    When they use the slangy “The Great White Throne” to do the equivalent of “vomit and run”. (The equivalent of shaking the sandals from one’s feet and leaving.)

  14. This is a very good, thorough article documenting the situation.

    I think I know how Jude would have summed it up.

    For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

    We churchgoers have been gullible people, willing to accept smiling faces and smooth words in place of evidence of godliness. Those with discernment are not welcome in church or are not listened to. It’s like all of the sheep dogs have been removed and the sheep are willing to follow anything that looks like a fleece, however obvious the wolves are to the rest of us.

  15. geoff: and don’t trust Christians.

    Dee and most of the commenters here claim to be Christians. Does that mean that you do not trust us either? Not that I am saying that anyone has to…

  16. Muff Potter: When will the pew peons simply get a belly full and leave?
    Or do they enjoy being abused in a bizarre form of religious sadomasochism

    In his book “Why People Believe Weird Things”, Michael Shermer posited that intelligent folks get trapped by their own intelligence. They are effective at crafting the arguments that keep themselves in that belief system.

    Some folks are raised in a given faith and that programming is deucedly hard to break. I’ve been struggling with it for a long time and in spite of my best efforts, still circle around the Christian drain.

    For many, so much is tied to the social network of their religion that even if they have doubts about their faith, the losses would be too great to bear.

    I find these churches and their leaders repugnant but I understand how they keep the peons in the pews.

  17. Jack,

    geoff,

    J H Newman extolled “assent to degrees of inference”, and indeed “degrees of inference” in all branches of knowledge. Hermeneutics and semiotics are helping me no end. I’m discovering – enlighteningly and uncomfortably – life without button-pushing. The being kept company (or not) is the hardest part: perhaps that’s where I need to infer some prayers to God on my part.

  18. SiteSeer: Those with discernment are not welcome in church or are not listened to.

    Quote from the post:
    “If you don’t have a church discipline statement that people sign off on at membership time you’re in big trouble; and get one if you don’t have it because it will help you (the pastor), it will serve you (the pastor), and it will protect you (the pastor).”
    -Mickey Connolly

    @ThouArtTheMan: Notable in this post: Connecting church covenants with CSA/criminality cover-up in churches, by leadership specifically seeking immunity as they do not report to DOJ crimes committed, witnessed, and reported within, right in their very community.

    Other institutions and communities keep out of “big trouble” by committing to clearly communicate in the community that criminal CSA testimony will always be turned over immediately to LE for DOJ process. No cover-up, promised from the get-go. Rule of Law & Common Good in place and upheld. Root out by complete, direct, and immediate exposure. No cover-up. No covenant that binds the community to cover-up and silence testimony of criminality. Quite the opposite approach from the pastor quoted above.

  19. SiteSeer: We churchgoers have been gullible people, willing to accept smiling faces and smooth words in place of evidence of godliness.

    Church as entertainment, easy believism, aberrant theologies, and cults of personality have drawn away millions in recent years. Godliness among church folks (in both pulpit and pew) is a rare trait indeed. Churches characterized by humility, prayer, repentance and seeking God’s face are had to find these days.

  20. Max: Driscoll has proven to be a master at reinventing himself. He first came on the scene in “emergent” church with Rob Bell et al. … then went resurgent into New Calvinism … and after being submergent for a season when Mars Hill ousted him, showed up in Phoenix with a suit on.

    First, “emergent,” then resurgent, next, submergent, and now… remergent.

  21. Yeah, it’s a cult.

    I went to one of their conferences once……..absolutely looney.

    Brent Detwiler admitted that (of the ones that could be checked) about a quarter of the “personal” prophecies that were made over people came about. A rare moment of honesty, the next speaker up tried to “soften” what just was said, to little effect.

    Gal I knew from college was there, I was catching up with her on the way out, got to her car, and she was obviously having starter solenoid problems, I got her running with a wrench and screwdriver (It was a Subaru so, yes you CAN get to the starter from above, and if you know how to do it…..). Got a phone call from her, she was taken to task during accountability group for letting me help her, rather than getting her accountability group leader’s “permission.”

    I went to U of MD in the late 70s. TAG was on Tuesday night at Christ Church on Mass. ave. One of the guys in my clinical education group was in “Gathering of Believers”. PDI, SGM. Lot’s of bad news.

  22. Judas Maccabeus: taken to task during accountability group for letting me help her, rather than getting her accountability group leader’s “permission.”

    Yeah, it’s a cult.
    Power, supremacy, subordination, permission.
    “The Children of God” Netflix doc.
    “The Family” Netflix doc.

  23. Jacob: First, “emergent,” then resurgent, next, submergent, and now… remergent.

    When what is really needed is detergent.

  24. Cynthia W.: Jacob: First, “emergent,” then resurgent, next, submergent, and now… remergent.

    When what is really needed is detergent.

    Yes, and most urgent!

  25. Max,

    Cynthia W.: Jacob: First, “emergent,” then resurgent, next, submergent, and now… remergent.

    When what is really needed is detergent.

    Yes, and most urgent!
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i’m sure we can fit in regurgent
    .
    .
    (well, it’s actually regurgitant — i looked it up)

  26. Jack,

    “I’ve been struggling with it for a long time and in spite of my best efforts, still circle around the Christian drain.”
    +++++++++++

    maybe it’s subconscious attempts to resolve deep disappointment and the sense of ultimate betrayal in that you’ve been sold a cosmic bill of goods.
    .
    .
    (for my own self-disclosure, I don’t think God was the salesperson or the business owner…doesn’t even sit on the board.)

  27. I have one question…. If good old CJ did nothing wrong, why did he run? Same with Mark Driscoll?
    Pew peons that “pay the bills” due deserve to know…

  28. elastigirl: (for my own self-disclosure, I don’t think God was the salesperson or the business owner…doesn’t even sit on the board.)

    don’t think he even visits the shop much anymore

  29. Bridget,

    i’ll bet it’s like what the ghosts* of elvis and marilyn monroe feel.

    (as they observe their names and images used by strangers to sell stuff… must be so weird. although God and Jesus are used to sell self-serving ideology and politics, too. must be utterly enraging for God.
    .
    .
    (*…if ghosts can feel things — there was a friendly ghost in the very old house my husband grew up in… i’m really pushing the tangential envelop here, so i’ll stop. although it’s always open season on sasquatch, aliens, and mothman)

  30. elastigirl: (for my own self-disclosure, I don’t think God was the salesperson or the business owner…doesn’t even sit on the board.)

    Good way of putting it.
    Jesus of Nazareth, completely separate from, and not dependent on what men say, or what the Bible allegedly says beyond the parameters of The Apostle’s Creed.
    This is where I’m at too.

  31. elastigirl: (well, it’s actually regurgitant — i looked it up)

    Well played. With a little effort, the whole thing could be made into a limerick.

  32. elastigirl,

    “although it’s always open season on sasquatch, aliens, and mothman)”

    ++++++++++++++

    for discussion…

    (the connotation was alarming enough i had to make this comment.

    i actually feel quite protective of them)

  33. Jeffrey Chalmers: If good old CJ did nothing wrong, why did he run?

    Fleeing first to his bud Mark Dever, then later to Louisville under the wing of his bud Al Mohler. Why start all over if you did nothing wrong at the place where you were “Head Apostle”?

  34. Jack: For many, so much is tied to the social network of their religion that even if they have doubts about their faith, the losses would be too great to bear.

    Very true.
    Humans are endowed by their creator with an innate desire for community, and if access to that is cut off, we languish in a place of ‘no fun’ so to speak.

  35. Jack: For many, so much is tied to the social network of their religion that even if they have doubts about their faith, the losses would be too great to bear.

    Which is why you need to have connections OUTSIDE of your religion.
    And why so many Not-a-Cults force you to sever ALL outside connections (except for proselytizing). Whether by threat of Left Behind/Eternal Hell or by providing “Christianese Counterfeits” of everything.

    What pulled me out of that End-of-the-World Cult in 1975 was attending my first SF convention and discovering Dungeons & Dragons.

    Shortly after Y2K, my local writing partner tried to rip me off, using the carrot of further writing collaboration and the stick of “if I leave, then You’ll Be All Alone Forever”. Unfortunately for him, I had two other writing partners on the East Coast. Granted, collaborating over the phone and by email isn’t as good as face-to-face, but I had backup.

    DO NOT LET ANY GROUP OR CHURCH ISOLATE YOU FOR THEMSELVES AND THEMSELVES ALONE!

  36. SiteSeer: Those with discernment are not welcome in church or are not listened to.

    “Discernment” in its original sense (seeing reality underneath surface appearances) or the Christianese sense (seeing DEMONS! DEMONS! DEMONS! in every closet and under every bed)?

  37. Jacob: First, “emergent,” then resurgent, next, submergent, and now… remergent.

    And he uses enough profanity that he needs his mouth washed out with detergent.

  38. The term “sovereign grace” may be among the most misleading in the Christian realm.

    It doesn’t qualify as “grace” under any definition of the term.

    And it is highly unlikely that the Sovereign Lord claims it. (Then again those folks only recognize Calvin as Sovereign.)

  39. Headless Unicorn Guy: Which is why you need to have connections OUTSIDE of your religion.

    One thing I appreciate about some other religions, such as Judaism and Jainism, is that they recognize a need for outsiders. Observant Jews sometimes use a Shabbos goy to perform labor. Strict Jains might limit the kinds of work they do, knowing that non-Jains will do those jobs.

    Granted, that is simplistic. But Christians are not in the habit of thinking they need non-Christians for any specific task or occupation.

  40. I’m just going to say that the one time I encountered Mickey Connolly, it was outside the YUM! Center in Louisville in 2018 and he told me that SG was going to do nothing about investigating their child sexual abuse issues. The way he came across reminded me of a Boston Irish Mafia boss and it gave me the creeps.

  41. Friend,

    And Amish have non-Amish do lots of things for them… including driving them to places like the Zoo, and other activities.

  42. Wild Honey,

    i have a feeling God ‘sitting on the board’ of a christian organization would be like trying to explain the importance of freedom of the press to 3 year-olds at a petting zoo.

    or string theory at our dinner table any day of the year.

  43. Mark R: The term “sovereign grace” may be among the most misleading in the Christian realm.

    It doesn’t qualify as “grace” under any definition of the term.

    The New Calvinists, and other such manifestations of error, have redefined grace to make it fit their aberrant theology. They toss the word around flippantly … it’s grace-this and grace-that without touching the significance of real Grace.

  44. Jeffrey J Chalmers: And Amish have non-Amish do lots of things for them… including driving them to places like the Zoo, and other activities.

    Well, since Amish are Christians, yes, that does show a recognition that people outside the group are essential. Thanks for spotting a big exception!

  45. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: SG was going to do nothing about investigating their child sexual abuse issues

    Dealing with CSA on his watch doesn’t help him, serve him, support him, protect him – so he disregards CSA.

    Dealing with CSA on his watch serves, supports, protects, & helps CHILDREN not pastors or leaders like him. . .

    … in the short run, like now, here on Earth. In the long haul, like Eternity, maybe these are the “leaders” God will declare He never knew them so “Depart from Me”.

    (He has revealed the purpose of his church leadership.)

    Meanwhile, church participants do well to wisely protect their children themselves.

    The children who are fed to the fire? May God deliver them Himself … it’s the story of “Legal Grounds” where leaders & predators (some are parents) collude. God does deliver. Thank God.

  46. Jacob: First, “emergent,” then resurgent, next, submergent, and now… remergent.

    He’s a re-emergent? So he’s actually a weed?

  47. Jeffrey Chalmers: I have one question…. If good old CJ did nothing wrong, why did he run? Same with Mark Driscoll?
    Pew peons that “pay the bills” due deserve to know…

    In contrast:
    A church that discovered criminality and did the right thing, in humility and with full disclosure to church community (even admitting their own growth curve):
    https://www.midwestanglican.org/big-rock/
    “Our intent in hiring an investigator is not to protect our diocese but to help us accomplish three main goals:
    1) to reach out to any other possible victims and make sure they are cared for,
    2) to learn how we could have handled these allegations better, and
    3) to build better systems for the future so that the diocese is as safe a place as possible.”

    There’s hope. God is active in His church. Would like to commune with these people.

  48. elastigirl: maybe it’s subconscious attempts to resolve deep disappointment and the sense of ultimate betrayal in that you’ve been sold a cosmic bill of goods.

    Maybe. While the Anglican belief I was raised in was far from cultish, there’s still a lot of programming that occurs from birth. It is hard to abandon those concepts even when logic can’t make sense of it any more. Oddly, I find myself both a skeptic and a believer.

    In his book “God Delusion” Richard Dawkins basically calls people who vacillate a form of coward and in many ways the churches that are discussed here also declare that you cannot be in the middle, you must fully believe or not.
    For me belief is not binary. When you go binary, you get extremes.

    Now before anyone asks, I’m not talking about moral equivalency. That everything is Ok under the sun. The great irony is that these so-called moral churches are willing to forgive their leaders of just about anything.

  49. Headless Unicorn Guy: DO NOT LET ANY GROUP OR CHURCH ISOLATE YOU FOR THEMSELVES AND THEMSELVES ALONE!

    Great advice – and don’t let anyone tell you “God’s purpose” in your life.

    If God wanted to tell me his purpose, I’m pretty sure the creator of the universe could tell me in my own vernacular – you know “call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me, when you wanna page me, it’s ok…”

  50. Jack: While the Anglican belief I was raised in was far from cultish, there’s still a lot of programming that occurs from birth. It is hard to abandon those concepts even when logic can’t make sense of it any more. Oddly, I find myself both a skeptic and a believer.
    Great comment. Balance. We are, after all, dealing with just other people on a level playing field. Those who shift the level playing field, IMHO, are off. Warning flag. (In some cultures, red is a revered color.)
    In his book “God Delusion” Richard Dawkins basically calls people who vacillate a form of coward and in many ways the churches that are discussed here also declare that you cannot be in the middle, you must fully believe or not.
    For me belief is not binary. When you go binary, you get extremes.

    Now before anyone asks, I’m not talking about moral equivalency. That everything is Ok under the sun. The great irony is that these so-called moral churches are willing to forgive their leaders of just about anything.

  51. Muff Potter: Humans are endowed by their creator with an innate desire for community, and if access to that is cut off, we languish in a place of ‘no fun’ so to speak.

    That’s why in certain societies marriage outside the group is discouraged if not outright banned. How many are trapped in a belief systems they don’t really believe in because their families, especially children are part of it.

    I often wonder how many families all say and do the “right thing” with none of them really believing it but all thinking the others are “true believers”. All having the same misgivings but no one talking about it.

  52. elastigirl: for discussion…

    Glad you clarified that – in some states, hunting Sasquatch is illegal. Not sure when Mothmen are in season. I mean I’m not saying it’s aliens but…

  53. Jack: Glad you clarified that – in some states, hunting Sasquatch is illegal.Not sure when Mothmen are in season.I mean I’m not saying it’s aliens but…

    You’re behind the times, Jack.

    On Coast to Coast AM (my late-night weirdness fix), it’s “I’m not saying it’s Nephilim, but…”

  54. Jack,

    well, mothman is the most intriguing of them all. sasquatch and aliens are very logical and make perfect sense.

  55. Headless Unicorn Guy: You’re behind the times, Jack.

    Very much so. My Coast to Coast years were during the Art Bell era. Major Ed Dames remote viewing, Richard C. Hoagland and the pyramids of Cydonia, who can forget “Mel’s hole” ? Working night shifts in the 90’s were lots of fun!

  56. elastigirl: well, mothman is the most intriguing of them all. sasquatch and aliens are very logical and make perfect sense

    John Keel had the mothman and the men in black linked with the Silver Bridge collapse in 1967. Even the mothman might be an alien.

    Like with biblical passages, pull enough threads together and you will make a blanket.

    To quote theologian J.R. “Bob” Dobbs “relax in the safety of your own delusions, pull the wool over your own eyes”

  57. elastigirl:
    Jack,

    well, mothman is the most intriguing of them all.sasquatch and aliens are very logical and make perfect sense.

    On my next annual trip to the East Coast, I’m going to try to detour between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg to Point Pleasant AND Flatwoods. Been trying to for a couple years. (On yeah. The only hotel in downtown Point Pleasant is said to be haunted.)

  58. Jack: Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I loved alt history take on “man in the high castle”

    Man in the High Castle IS the classic “Germany Won WW2” alternate.

    During the 1970s, the local Pacifica Radio public-access FM station had a midnight SF talk show called “Hour 25”. I vaguely remember an interview with Philip K Dick (the author) who talked about the research he did when writing it. Including the diaries of concentration-camp officers – “After a day of gassing Jews or medical-experiment vivisections, they’d go off duty and write these diaries. DON’T TRY TO TELL ME THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS EVIL!”

    P.S. Phil Dick’s papers are currently in the university collection of Cal State Fullerton (he was a local boy).

    P.P.S. During my heavy D&D days, my old Dungeonmaster lived for a while in Fullerton. He claimed to have run into Phil Dick on one of the city buses. That he was reading one of Dick’s novels when this guy on the bus seemed to be taking an interest. My DM noticed and looked up with “You read science fiction?” And the guy answered “You could say that. I wrote that.”

  59. Jack: To quote theologian J.R. “Bob” Dobbs “relax in the safety of your own delusions, pull the wool over your own eyes”

    CHURCH OF THE SUB-GENIUS! PRAISE BOB!

  60. Headless Unicorn Guy: Man in the High Castle IS the classic “Germany Won WW2” alternate

    What is interesting about that story is the US is carved up by a victorious axis and nothing happens to Canada – we apparently didn’t rate invasion or weren’t worth the hassle.

  61. Headless Unicorn Guy: On my next annual trip to the East Coast, I’m going to try to detour between Pittsburgh and Gettysburg to Point Pleasant AND Flatwoods. Been trying to for a couple years. (On yeah. The only hotel in downtown Point Pleasant is said to be haunted.)

    To quote the great theologian “Kool Aid” – “oh yeah!

  62. Jack: how many families all say and do the “right thing” with none of them really believing it but all thinking the others are “true believers”. All having the same misgivings but no one talking about it.

    Santa Claus as well as the Xmas pageant, the Easter Bunny as well as honey-baked ham dinner, July firecrackers and family photo op, and oh yeah, “faith” community

  63. Jack: What is interesting about that story is the US is carved up by a victorious axis and nothing happens to Canada – we apparently didn’t rate invasion or weren’t worth the hassle.

    Or Philip K Dick was just focusing on the former USA as that was his primary audience and the area he knew best.

  64. Jack: nothing happens to Canada – we apparently didn’t rate invasion or weren’t worth the hassle.

    I think Canada was deliberately snubbed because you beat the US in the War of 1812.

    /s

  65. Judas Maccabeus,

    From my memory, SG didn’t show any shift towards Reform Theology till way after the timeframe you mentioned. Was that your experience? Did you ever hear references to the Jesus People out in CA, or of Lonnie Frisbee interacting with SG leaders?

  66. Nathan Priddis: Did you ever hear references to the Jesus People out in CA, or of Lonnie Frisbee interacting with SG leaders?

    Lonnie Frisbee (“the hippie preacher”, co-founder of Calvary Chapel) has been doubleplusunperson since Papa Chuck took over and made himself CCs only Founder, Seer, Revelator, and Prophet.

    And most ALL those Not-a-Cult splinter “Fellowships” of the Seventies started out as splitoffs from the Jesus People movement. The one that messed up my head showed definite JP ancestry/influence.