C.J. Mahaney Explains Why He’s Not Attending Any SGM Church During “Season Of Reflection”

August 13, 2011 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

C.J. Mahaney has apparently been gettng lots of concerned inquiries about his leave of absence.  He put up a post yesterday to answer his fans’ questions.  He said,

Many of you have kindly inquired about my leave of absence and how I will be spending my time during this season. Before I give you an update, I want to take this moment to thank each of you who have expressed your encouragement and your support in prayer.

Some of you have asked where I will be attending church during my leave. That’s a good question, as it’s not uncommon for pastors to take a leave in a church that is away from their home congregations, and this seems wise. During my leave of absence I will be attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever is the senior pastor. After seeking counsel about this decision, I’ve concluded that this is the best place for Carolyn and me to receive care and counsel, to examine my life and leadership, and to consider my future during this season of reflection. I want to learn all I can during this season, and I pray that this time will benefit not only me but Sovereign Grace as well.

Mark and I have a rich history of friendship. I met Mark thirteen years ago and since then we have become very close friends. Mark has been not only a unique friend but also a mentor to me. I want to continue to take advantage of our friendship and his mentoring as much as possible during this time, benefiting from Mark’s unique pastoral wisdom and his gift of leadership. I am deeply grateful for his kindness and this opportunity. Actually, other than my wife Carolyn and those with whom I have served closely in Sovereign Grace Ministries, no one has had more influence on my life in the last ten years than Mark.

This leave of absence from my role as president of SGM will allow me the time necessary to process the valuable feedback I have received (and continue to receive), and to devote time to consider how I can best serve Sovereign Grace Ministries in the future. I’m seeking and benefiting from the advice of the SGM board and a number of leaders in the broader church—men I admire and who have become my friends over the years. I am approaching this task without making any assumptions or presuming upon any particular outcome. By God’s grace and the kindness of these men I am not lacking wise counsel as I seek to discern the will of God about how I might most effectively serve when this leave of absence concludes.

So for those who have kindly asked, I hope this information is helpful. I deeply appreciate the encouragement and support of so many at this time. I simply do not know how to adequately express this, but I trust you feel my deep gratefulness for your support. And I would appreciate your prayers, given the importance of the decisions before me and their impact on Sovereign Grace Ministries, the pastors I respect the most and the people of our churches for whom I have the deepest affection.

Finally, many of you know that this spring Dave Harvey, Jeff Purswell, and I were invited to speak at a pastors conference in the Dominican Republic. We are currently in Santo Domingo and the conference (Por Su Causa 2011) begins tomorrow morning. Please pray for us and for this very strategic conference. Earlier, during this same trip Jeff and I, along with Al Pino, visited the pastors that Sovereign Grace Ministries are honored to serve in Cuba. I was deeply humbled by the men and women I met, all of whom display remarkable joy and trust in God. I believe we will be sharing more about this trip on the Plant & Build blog later. In the meantime, please pray for our friends in Cuba and the Dominican Republic and for our friend Al Pino, who represents Sovereign Grace in our work with these remarkable saints. Please pray that Christ would be glorified in their midst and the gospel would go forth in these countries.

With gratefulness,

C.J.

Despite this explanation, several readers have written to Guy and me to express their ongoing confusion over C.J’s decision to ditch his own denomination family of churches during his “season of reflection.”  Some have also expressed curiosity over the idea that C.J. would so quickly take the stage again as a speaker, despite the fact that there’s barely been time for SGM’s panel of “indendent” investigators to have begun their task, let alone issue a verdict.

Brent Detwiler has published a post about this topic on his own blog.  You can view that post here.

I put this up yesterday as a comment, but I will post it again here for those who have written to ask what my thoughts are:

For me, the issue has nothing to do with whether or not C.J. is under church discipline at CLC.  (Actually, I’m pretty sure that he is not under discipline right now…but I could be wrong.)  I have a real problem with the idea that C.J. would go to another church at this time, because he is choosing an action that would not have been available to any other SGM leader in a similar situation, if the leader wanted to remain in good standing with his SGM church.

It’s simply NOT RIGHT that C.J. has options that other SGM pastors would not have.

It’s also simply NOT RIGHT that C.J. can change his song and dance about the “happiest place on earth” without at least getting up in front of his congregation – like a man – and explaining his change of heart to the people!

If C.J. now doesn’t actually think that CLC is the “happiest place on earth,” the Source of all that anyone ever needs for his Christian life, but has instead changed his tune and thinks leaders in the midst of church conflicts ought to be able to ditch their commitments and go wherever they feel they will be “better served” – well, that’s OK, but for God’s sake, C.J. needs to retract all his original teachings about the importance of having a come-hell-or-high-water commitment to one’s specific local church.  C.J. needs to stand on that stage at CLC and explain exactly how his beliefs have changed.  Then he needs to apologize to everyone who was made to feel like they had no other option but to hang in there and take their SGM lumps and NOT be able to run off to some other non-SGM congregation to be “better served.”

It’s NOT that a change of belief is wrong.  It’s that SGM always always always does these changes without proper explanations, retractions, and apologies to those who were hurt by the original false beliefs and teachings.

Thoughts?