“What Blogs?”

July 18, 2011 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

While it can feel like all eyes have been on Covenant Life Church and the response of Josh Harris to the recent changes in leadership at Sovereign Grace Ministries, other SGM churches around the country have been addressing these issues over the past week.

On July 10, Metro Life Church‘s Aron Osborne gave a message in which he talked about the announcement that C.J. Mahaney was stepping down from leadership.  For several minutes he spoke both about how seriously the other leaders were taking C.J.’s sins, but then he also spoke at even greater length about how wonderful C.J. is and how important it is to be sensitive to C.J.’s feelings.  He then addressed the topic of “the blogs.”  This is what he said:

We’ve been silent about the blogs.

And you know, I’m encouraged, if you are thinking right now, “what blogs?”  Wow, that encourages me.  However I’m not naïve.  I am breathing.  (heh heh).  You know about the blogs.  We’ve been silent about them for some understandable reasons.  I think one of those reasons, and please hear me, this is a general statement, it is not addressing every potential blog response. I’m sure there are some very good ones and humble ones.  However, in general, I think Proverbs speaks about the blogosphere.  Proverbs tells us not to answer a fool according to his folly.  And friends, when people make emphatic sweeping statements conclusively on situations they’ve not been a part of I think that has the ring of folly.  Amen?  And it’s to answer a fool according to his folly.  Therefore we’ve been silent.  Listen, we already know we’re fools, there no need to expose it more.  I mean that.  I really mean that.  Even where real offenses have occurred, listen, even where real offenses have occurred, I don’t think scripture says that loving thing to do is to broadcast that publicly in blog format to the world.  It’s to go to a brother, to go to a sister, to show them their fault in person.  And if they will not hear you to bring more.  But it’s always to go, individually, in plurality.   It’s harmful.  It’s not part of the mandate to cover one another in love.

Again, I do trust you hear me, but I’m going to keep repeating it.  Cover does not mean, hide it from those who need to know.  Cover does not mean keep sin hidden, but cover means when gossip and slander and tearing down is taking place, God’s people must speak.  And I’m so grateful that God, friends in our weak moments, when we are broken he does not rush in to break us.  And when we are smoldering wicks he does not rush in to snuff us out.  He rushes in to love and to care and to protect.  So, my personal practice is not to read these blogs.  Because I trust that CJ and others have offered to sit down with anyone who has questions or an offense, IN PERSON.  In personsphere, not in the blogosphere.  And my encouragement, and that’s all it is, I’m not mandating this to anyone and I wouldn’t even if I could, that’s not my desire.  My encouragement would be this. Be careful about the blogs.  Could I even go so far as to encourage you, don’t read the blogs?  The poison therein that can tempt one to be sinfully suspicious, right out of the gate without having actually interacted.  It can assume truth because it’s there.

Think of it.  So many things are not intended for my eyes.  So if I am reading what was not intended for my eyes, I’m participating in the sins of gossip and slander.  Even if I am not typing back myself.  It’s like being in a room and in the next room a conversation is taking place that is not for me and I decide to stand idly by and listen in.  I don’t think that honors God.  I don’t think that honors the people.

Here’s my concern with blogs.  I think they forget that people are people.  People have hearts.  And they hurt!  When you read things, and you are left to scratch your head.  And honestly friends, by God’s mercy, it should be far more than that, as far as I know, the ones that I’m made aware of, I’ve only been on the receiving end of false accusations a couple of times but I can tell you, and you who have experienced it know, it just HURTS!  You are scratching your head, and you are puzzled, wondering how did you arrive here?  What have a done that’s created this?  Why can’t you talk to me?  Somewhere in a living room CJ and Carolyn have hearts!  They have daughters and a son and they have grandchildren that have hearts!  And they break.  And where they are broken over real sin that needs to be confessed well let it break.  God’s grace will be there.  But where it breaks over gossip and slander, may we not be a part of that I pray.  May we not participate in that arena.  I’m not accusing anyone, please understand.  It’s just we all have hearts.

Hmm.  I’m confused.  I agree with commenter “Leaver,” who wrote,

So if he doesn’t read them, how can he say that people are making “emphatic sweeping statements conclusively” that they have not been a part of?  In fact it appears to me that he just made an emphatic sweeping statement about a situation that he has not been a part of himself.  Slightly hypocritical from my perspective.

He then went on to say the bloggers are in the wrong because the Bible says we are to go to a person who has sinned against us in person and these bloggers are not doing that.  How does he know that?  Again, he has not read the blogs so there is another “emphatic sweeping statement” drawing a conclusion on something that he has not been a part of.

Prior to making sweeping judgments condemning websites he claimed not to read – even as he condemned these same websites for making judgments of matters they don’t know about – Mr. Osborne also had the following to say:

I want to say it again and again and again. Any manifestation of sin is serious and significant. And I and the board have no interest in covering up any of that. But not covering up real sin is not the same thing as being silent and not covering a brother when false accusations are made. They are different. And I think it’s important that those distinctions be made. No one is seeking to shield CJ from embracing all that the Lord has for him. There are over 600 pages of correspondence detailing a list of observations and offenses. What was intended as a private document has sadly become public. Sad, not because several points within that document are not true, because they are accurate and true, and in need of attention. I’d go so far as to say, I concur with a number of things that Brent has registered in his document. And as he gave those documents to others, someone put them out into the world of the blogs and they are now public for everyone.

Friends, just try to imagine with me for a moment, 600 pages of your life, of which you are not sure every point is accurate being given to the world. How are you doing with that this morning? That’s where our brother is this morning, and his family.

I think it’s interesting how at least some SGM pastors have been framing up the discussion of Brent Detwiler’s documents as though the 600 pages involved personal and private communications written on C.J.’s and Brent’s own time…when actually, these guys were on SGM’s payroll and they were communicating about matters relating to their official duties.  It’s not like Brent published C.J.’s love letters or something.  He released emails that were written on the company dime, so to speak, by men who were being paid from funds obtained through church members’ tithes and offerings.

In the real world, these communications SHOULD be the business of the people who are – bottom line – footing the bill.  Yes, some of the stuff – like debates about how much vacation time C.J. had taken, can at first blush seem trivial.  But if you look at the larger picture, it should matter that C.J. dithered and dickered and guilt-tripped long and hard to get SGM to pay for his son’s airfare…during roughly the same time frame that C.J. was apparently doing well enough financially that he could donate at least $100,000 to Al Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

If you think about it, it’s almost sort of funny that Mr. Osborne urges his congregation not to read “the blogs,” essentially calling us “fools” (after all, what else could he have meant by quoting the Proverb about not “answering a fool according to his folly” and then chuckling over how he doesn’t read here?) and insinuating that what is written here is inaccurate and false (“slander”).  How many of us have said over the past three-and-some years that C.J did not strike us as “humble”?  How many of us here have pondered the question of who really has the ability to hold C.J. accountable or say “no” to him?

And now when C.J.’s own emails reveal him to be prideful about silly things and truly accountable to no one, “the blogs” that have been asking the hard questions (while guys like Mr. Osborne were apparently silent) are the “fools”?

I don’t think so.