A Word to the “Wise”

March 26, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

Today, on the message board, someone asked if Guy and I had changed our thinking and now had an “ax to grind” with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Here was my reply:

You know, we still don’t have an ax to grind. That part holds true. So often, I will think about this site and how weird it is that God sort of threw it into our laps. We have about as tenuous a connection to SGM as you could have and still know enough about the movement to discuss it (somewhat) intelligently.

But I have to say, after 4 months of doing this whole thing, after 4 months of literally weeping over emails that have flooded my “in” box, after 4 months of learning more than anyone EVER would want to know, I’ve come to think that SGM isn’t exactly your garden variety “just another denomination.” And the hurting people who have written to me are not your garden variety “typical small percentage of disgruntled folks.”

I think it’s a lot deeper and more serious than that. I really do.

I would never go so far as to call SGM a cult. I still can’t go there, despite all the people who keep urging me to think that way. But I think SGM is propagating some SERIOUS errors that have done some SERIOUS damage to quite a number of people.

I also firmly believe that they are in desperate need of repentance. First of all, they need to repent for the damage they’ve done to all those who did not fit the SGM pattern of what a “good Christian” should look like. SGM leadership did not treat the weak, the hurting, the damaged, the needy with anything resembling the love of Christ. Instead, they’ve been harsh, judgmental, and downright Pharisaical toward these people. They’ve attempted “discipline” and punishment when understanding and a listening ear would have sufficed. They’ve castigated professional psychological help, told people with psychiatric issues that such help is sinful, and that they are only allowed to get “Godly” counsel from their pastors or other leaders. And then, when the damaged and the hurting have turned to leadership for help, more often than not, they’ve found themselves on the receiving end of commands to pull themselves up by their (broken) bootstraps.

SGM’s hierarchal, pyramid-like leadership structure has also contributed to this problem. Submission and humility flow one way: upward. Only one kind of person is lauded, honored, and held up as exemplary and worthy: the type that would fit in with leadership. Consequently, the people who get the good care within SGM, the people who get all the strokes and the love and the acceptance, are the people who need it the least. If you already look the part and could pass for one of Seedge and Carolyn’s kids, you’ll be fine, especially if you’re a productive and tidy member of society. But if you’re a clumsy slob, just forget about it. You’re going to have to clean up your act before you’ll get to experience the particular type of “Christian” love dispensed at SGM.

This is the exact opposite of God’s economy. In God’s economy, the weak are strong, the foolish things confound the wise, the first are the last, and whatever we do for the “least of these,” we do unto Christ Himself. In God’s economy, ministering to a seriously depressed and downtrodden abused wife is far more important than sucking up to Seedge by making him his favorite raspberry-chocolate cake.

So…

No, we still have no ax to grind, and we probably wouldn’t go on the record as strongly as Dennis, for instance, has, urging people to flee SGM. But God is calling many in SGM leadership – and there are a few in particular who have ESPECIALLY perpetrated horrible evils on the downtrodden, cruelly manipulating and denigrating people in a way that can only be inspired by the devil himself – to repentance. He wants them to go back and APOLOGIZE to those they have wronged. He wants them to go back and seek forgiveness for the harsh discipline, the gossipy “family meeting” sessions where misinformation (lies) were deliberately spread to cover leadership’s backsides and salvage SGM’s falsely glossy image. God wants these men (and for sure, the wife of one of these men) (and, if you’re reading this, you KNOW WHO YOU ARE) to throw themselves down at his feet and plead Jesus’ blood over their wrongdoings. Then He wants them to go back and, to the best of their ability, make it right, by turning their thinking upside down.

Bottom line with what is wrong with SGM: being a good Christian is NOT about “serving your leaders.” It is about serving “the least of these.” Quit baking cakes for Seedge. Quit sucking up to the “apostles” (or whatever puffed-up title they’re going by nowadays). Quit loving only the lovable. Get down on your knees and wash the feet of someone you’ve been scorning for not having it all together.

Quit adding to Scripture. Quit teaching specifics about things that God didn’t mean to be specific. Quit adding to the Gospel. Quit worshiping the empty cross and instead worship the risen Jesus who rules and reigns. Quit attempting to be junior Holy Spirits, and instead, humble yourselves and invite the Holy Spirit to shine the same searching unflinching spotlight on your own hearts that you’ve shone for so long on the lives of others.

I may have missed something. But I am feeling very prophetic at the moment. This is burning in me. So I will say it: HEAR THE WORD OF THE LORD.