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Why Sovereign Grace Ministries Doesn’t Like Victims

Awhile back, some of us got to talking about what would possibly cause pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries churches to have responded the way they did in situations like “Noel’s Story,” “Wallace’s Story,” and “Taylor’s Story.”  While Dave Harvey would like to think of these situations as a few rare and isolated incidents, the fact that the pastoral responses to victims of child sex abuse were nearly identical would seem to indicate that there is something going on in these men’s belief system and training that has caused them to be more concerned about the rights and well-being of perpetrators rather than victims.

During that discussion, I posted a comment that contained a round-up of some thoughts and observations that I thought laid out a pretty good explanation for why SGM pastors would work so hard to minimize the victim’s response to abuse, keep the situation contained within the church (not involve law enforcement, and in some situations even seem to actively work against supporting the victim in the legal system), and as quickly as possible “restore” the perpetrator.

Here’s the comment.  I apologize in advance for its length.

—————————

While I am the first to say that any coverup of sex abuse is horrific and evil, particularly when done by a church, I think it would be interesting to explore the mindset behind any such coverup.

What is it about their SGM training that would make SGM pastors respond to abusers in such a way?  Why would SGM pastors appear to extend more grace to perpetrators than to victims?  Why would SGM pastors believe that they should be the primary source of counsel and support for perpetrators?  Why would SGM pastors exhibit a reluctance to get outside help or call upon law enforcement to deal with such perpetrators?

It’s my opinion that SGM’s twisted teachings about sin and the role of the pastor – as well as SGM’s blurring of the lines between “the gospel” and “the SGM church organization” – are what have led to situations where these sorts of crimes seem to be minimized, and perpetrators quickly restored to good standing within congregations.

First of all, SGM holds to the (in my opinion essentially correct and biblical) belief that all problems faced by humanity can be traced back to sin. I say I think it’s an “essentially correct and biblical belief” because if we dig through all the layers of human suffering and misery and downright evil, we are left with almost no other choice but to conclude that humanity is messy because humanity is fallen and sinful.

However, where I would part ways with SGM’s assumption is where SGM’s essentially correct belief about sin morphs into what SGM believes is the remedy for sin.

In SGM’s teachings – and if I wanted to take more time to develop this, I could go back and dig up plenty of quotes from books like Why Small Groups and sermons like CJ’s Happiest Place On Earth, as well as plenty of other resources that are available for the whole world to read and hear – the problem of sin is seen as being addressed by not just the work of Jesus on the cross and His continued presence with us through the Holy Spirit.  SGM would say that Jesus’ work on the cross is now being “finished” or “completed” by how Christians relate to a “local” church and how Christians are affected by the work of the pastors in their lives.

In the book Why Small Groups? (available as a free download here) a case is laid out like this:

1.  Yes, salvation is through Christ alone, through his atoning sacrifice.

2.  Salvation, however, is separate from sanctification.

4.  Although, sanctification WILL result anytime someone is “truly saved.”

5.  Sanctification cannot happen apart from “biblical fellowship.”  I actually am going to go and dig up a quote to back this one up.  From Chapter 1 of Why Small Groups? comes this:

Although one’s personal responsibility for sanctification remains paramount, sanctification cannot be accomplished in isolation from the local church. Scripture clearly teaches that sanctification is intended to take place in the local church—and small groups contribute invaluably to this process.

You can read the whole chapter to get an even better feel for how thoroughly CJ and his cohorts view participation in “biblical fellowship” a completely essential element of a person’s sanctification.

6.  A key componant of “biblical fellowship” is interacting with people in a way where they freely confront you about your sin and where you humbly submit to others’ assessment of your sin.  I would strongly urge people to read Why Small Groups? if they have not already done so, and examine how narrowly and explicitly “biblical fellowship” is defined, and how it almost cannot take place anywhere but in a small group set up and run the way SGM runs small groups.

(By the way – this principle is FOUNDATIONAL if anyone wants to understand the driving force behind Brent Detwiler’s seeming obsession with confronting CJ in his sins.  In the SGM mindset, a lack of willingness to submit to others’ assessment of your sin and to acknowledge your sins when confronted with them is almost a sign that you are out of fellowship with God.  If we can grasp this, we can understand why in Brent’s mind, CJ’s unwillingness to be confronted was so utterly grievous and dismaying.  And why Brent continued his pursuit so doggedly…even as he talked about “grace,” which most Christians understand as letting someone off the hook.  In SGM thinking, true “grace” must involve sticking with the confrontation no matter what, because unwillingness to acknowledge one’s sins when confronted would be a sign that the person is not being sanctified…which is a sign that the person could maybe not even be saved!)

7.  Also, SGM believes that another essential part of “biblical fellowship” is a person’s continued oversight from his pastor, who also bears the responsibility to continue to confront the person on his sin.  SGMers are taught that pastors, by virtue of their higher calling and “gifting,” possess special abilities to perceive a person’s sins more accurately than the person himself.  You can read a transcript of C.J. Mahaney’s Happiest Place On Earth sermon here.  C.J. has traveled around the country, delivering that sermon to many SGM churches over the years.  While (once again) Dave Harvey would now apparently like people to think that SGM does not teach that pastors have special authority over people, that is simply not true.

8.  Essential to the SGM understanding of the gospel is a demonstration that one remains keenly aware of one’s “worst sinner one knows” status.  I realize that this comment is already excruciatingly long, but I really want to lay this all out in one place, so I’m going to quote from another post:

Deeply embedded in the SGM mindset are some assumptions:

1. All sins are just as vile in the eyes of God.

2. One of the clearest signs of “rebellion” is when a person sees himself as an injured party, because no injury that can be perpetrated against the person could ever surpass the horror that the person’s own sin is in the eyes of God.

3. The clearest sign of a “repentant” person is eager confession of wrongdoing.

Taking those three SGM assumptions, let’s examine Noel’s pastors’ response to her family’s situation. In light of these assumptions, I think we can more clearly understand a bit of what went through those pastors’ minds as they offered more sympathy and support to the perp rather than the victims. Even though the pastoral responses are basically incomprehensible to a normal person, they sort of start to make sense when you think of it in this way:

Because of SGM’s belief that each of us must always be “the worst sinner that we ourselves know,” we basically give up our rights to ANY victimhood, no matter how heinous the crime committed against us.

In other words, even though what happened to Noel’s family was absolutely horrific, SGM’s foundational teachings would say that Noel’s only legitimate “biblical” response would be to examine her own sinfulness and see herself as “the worst sinner” she knows. Her pastors would see it as their duty to direct Noel’s attention first of all to her own indwelling sin, her own wretchedness in God’s eyes. I believe they sincerely think that this is “bringing the Gospel into” everything they do. For them, “the Gospel” is firstly and foremostly about our own sin.

But instinctively, we know that something is jacked up in this view. God’s own Word would tell us that He does see some sins as having broader and more lasting consequences than other sins. Yes, all sin is an abomination in God’s eyes…theoretically. But we all know the REALITY, that if I go out and kill someone, there are far more ramifications all the way around than if I lie by calling in sick to work one day when I’m not actually sick and just want to go shopping with my friends. Both the murder and the lie are sins in God’s eyes and both are wretched, but if you lie to me, I’m probably going to be less upset than if you kill someone near and dear to me.

In SGMville, though, this normal human reaction – one that the even the Bible would seem to support, if you examine how God outlined so many very specific laws and guidelines governing behavior for Old Testament Israel – is circumvented. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been the victim of a liar or a murderer. In your SGM pastor’s mind, you’ve got NO RIGHT to see yourself as a victim, of any sort. In order to “bring the Gospel in,” they’re duty-bound to remind you of your own sinfulness, like it’s some sort of tonic for the normal grief that you might feel because of the ramifications of the sin that was perpetrated against you…like somehow, if I as the victim can just focus on my own badness, I’ll forget that someone molested my child.

So OK. In SGMville, all sins are created equal.

Now, enter the perp. Perp expresses sorrow and remorse for his sin. He truly IS the “worst sinner that he knows,” so such a mindset comes easily and naturally to him. In the eyes of his SGM pastors, he automatically then becomes the “more righteous” person, since his response is the only “truly biblical” repsonse that they can find acceptable.

It gets worse if the victim stands up for himself/herself in any fashion. SGM pastors immediately see this as unforgiveness, which of course is a sin, which then makes the victim even WORSE than the remorseful (and therefore righteous) perp.

Again, I did not think of this myself. Someone else initially posted these general thoughts. But I thought these were some brilliant observations that did far more to shed light on Noel’s pastors’ really twisted and bizarre behavior than just about anything else.

To me, this helps to make sense of why, in SGMville, the victims are minimized while the perps are protected. It’s because in SGMville, the only thing that is really righteous is seeing oneself as “the worst sinner one knows.” If one has had a crime – particularly a heinous crime like child abuse – perpetrated against one, there is NO HONEST WAY that one can authentically and enthusiastically embrace “worst sinner” status in one’s thinking. One instinctively knows that someone else’s sin (in this case, one’s perp’s sin) is greater than one’s own sin. So one naturally raises objections to embracing “worst sinner” status.

SGM pastors sense this and seem to hone in on it, interpreting standing up for oneself as a sign of pride and sin and unforgiveness.

Meanwhile, the perp is over in his corner crying his genuine tears of sorrow. Because he truly IS the “worst sinner he knows” at that moment, he is more righteous, and hence more worthy of protection.

9.  We have to factor in SGM’s longstanding distrust of and total disdain for the mental health profession.  SGM has long taught that “secular psychology” has absolutely nothing to offer the believer in terms of solving problems.  (You can see what was taught to SGM pastors fairly recently – in 2009 – about the “counseling process” by viewing a transcript of that talk.  Access Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.)

Anyway, to connect the dots of all this to the situations where SGM pastors were aware of sex abuse and seem to do nothing to address the problem legally…

If all problems are sin issues, and if the only solution to all sin issues (sanctification) must involve continued “biblical fellowship,” which – most importantly – includes continued confrontation from a pastor about one’s sins…

And if “secular psychology” presents no way for this to continue, but a pastor’s counsel does…

And if a perpetrator has acknowledged his sin to his pastor…

And if it is un-Christian (“sinful”) to ever feel like one has the right to be a total victim, with no corresponding need to focus on one’s own sin…

Then it makes total sense for the SGM pastor to:

1.  Appear to side with the perpetrator.

2.  Believe that his pastoral counsel is all that is needed.

3.  Believe that he is actually better serving the victim through his position, because he is making it more difficult for the victim to pursue what would be sin – i.e. being a victim and “demonstrating unforgiveness” by pursuing justice through the legal system.

4.  Consequently believe that through all of this, he is “protecting the gospel” or some such, because the SGM gospel is all about confronting and rooting out sin, never having the right to be a victim, and demonstrating one’s salvation status by the sanctification process of confessing one’s sins – which a perpetrator has already done, therefore making the perpetrator “more sanctified” than someone who is trying to get justice as a victim.

204 comments to Why Sovereign Grace Ministries Doesn’t Like Victims

  • Argo

    Wanted to post this on the other thread; it’s still relevant. A response to Justanoutsidersopinion:

    Justanoutsidersopinion,

    I’m almost wondering if it isn’t in the best interest of the victim of crimes and their families, or others who are struggling with intense catastrophes, if the pastor shouldn’t just “drop out altogether” due to the fact that their input, however well intentioned, can muddy the process. I say this because of my experience with the heavy cynicism displayed by reformed pastors towards mental health counseling and medication. My belief is that pastoring and professional mental health counseling (even Christian based) are mutually exclusive in the minds of many reformed pastors’ minds.

    And I would change your quote “(generally speaking)” to “almost never” or “in extremely rare instances”. Pastoring and counseling are simply two different professions. One is best left to the other, as these posts clearly demonstrate. But thank you so much for your input.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Argo, post 257-I LOVE IT! :clap

    Just my thoughts on the counselor/pastor conversation:

    I always think of God, making us in His Image in a family view..we are “brothers and sisters in the Lord”, “God is our Father”, etc..I often relate (in a way more infinite level for God, of course) the way we feel as parents to our children, and vice-verso..thinking, how, as a parent, we are the 1st example to our children of God, and how he cares for us(and , of course, since God is so much more infinite, it actually takes both a Mother and a Father to even begin to hint at the care and love of God towards us).
    That being said, it just makes sense to me that a pastor, while still being a “brother or sister in Christ” is NOT like God, or even like a parent, but more like an older sibling, or even an aunt or uncle. So, take a child whose Father was abusive…well, the pastor is a pastor to all involved, of course but, first-protection must come to the victim, to allow them to once again feel secure in God’s care, and to insure, with the knowledge they have that anyone else who could be in danger is safe. After that, the pastor is a SUPPORT PERSON..meaning, it would/could be acceptable for them to support any of the people involved as they seek PROFESSIONAL care, which would involve helping to interview and find/access that professional care, communicating with them, to make sure they are satisfied with that professional care, and being an advocate for them if it is not adequate, etc.
    I never went to pastors college, or any other college..it just plain makes sense to me-common sense..am I wrong?
    While I DO think parents are a child’s first example of the God’s Love for us, and the church is also supposed to exemplify that to others, pastors are still ONLY like an older sibling, an aunt or an uncle-one who can help us to “understand our parent better”, not BE like God to us..Doesn’t it seem like they have that confused?

  • Tomcov

    This is the best assessment of SGM’s foundational belief-problems I’ve seen. I really does point out how their theology of sanctification drives their pastoral theology and ensures a predictable response of the pastor in abuse cases. They are a consistent bunch.

  • Kris

    Another brilliant post.

    You said:

    “9. We have to factor in SGM’s longstanding distrust of and total disdain for the mental health profession. SGM has long taught that “secular psychology” has absolutely nothing to offer the believer in terms of solving problems.”

    I am not sure I would say it is “SGM’s” distrust but rather Mahaney’s distrust and disdain. Mahaney was the one who introduced all this talk and other SGM Leaders and members seemed to almost blindly accept what Mahaney babbled about “secular psychology” without doing their own thinking or separating the wheat from the chaff. Of course as has been pointed out. a lot of SGM Members seem to follow the Catholic example and seem to accept what SGM’s “pope” says.

    Good point about “worst sinner” belief. They way SGM teaches this leaves little room for one to see them self as a victim.

  • Stunned

    Like I’ve said, repentance is king.

    Which sounds good, unless someone has been victimized and is innocent in a situation.

    If repentance is king, the more you have to repent of, the more highly you are praised.

    But woe to you who has nothing to repent of. You are PROUD! You are ARROGANT! You are opposing God!

    Their focus on sin is so great that they can not see that it is possible that a small child sleeping in the middle of the night and who is suddenly woken up and molested, has nothing to repent of. Surely there must be something. If not before the event, then at least during or after it, sin is there to tempt you. Are you angry? Aha! Sin. If you refuse to agree that feeling anger is a sin, aha- unteachability. And on and on it goes.

    Repentance is king.

    Which sounds nice, until you realize Jesus is supposed to be king.

  • happymom

    Kris,

    Excellent post and a great outline that certainly explains a lot. I still think their reputation has a lot to do with it and makes up for some of the cowardly ways these men respond to child sex abuse. Their first phone call is usually to their lawyers. Their “Family meetings” are nothing more than an insurance policy in case The Post comes calling.

    Brokenhearted:
    It’s easy to believe the good news with pastor DH, we believe he is the one who actually has a heart that beats.

  • Stunned

    brokenhearted and happymom, so you guys are not referring to Dave Harvey when you say DH?

  • Steve,

    I would actually say that while CJ Mahaney may have a special hatred for “secular psychology,” it is fairly common in Reformed circles these days to believe that psychology is diametrically opposed to the Bible and therefore provides nothing helpful for the Christian.

    I can actually see how they arrive at this view. The foundational theories of psychology (Freud’s, Skinner’s, Erikson’s, Roger’s, Adler’s, Piaget’s, and so forth) all start with the assumption that humanity is essentially good (or at least morally neutral, until our parents jack with us). Our innate fallenness that the Bible describes is just not there. Also, another foundational assumption is that the world is evolving and getting better. If we can just come to a better understanding of why people behave the way they do, and if we can apply the various theories correctly, humanity will continue to evolve, continue to reach higher levels of goodness. If “religion” is ever on the table at all, it’s something (in secular psychology) that man created for himself.

    Because of those foundational assumptions present in all the major theories of development, it’s understandable why the Bible-believing Christian might come to the conclusion that there is nothing helpful in psychology.

    I tend to take the view that we can nonetheless glean helpful insights from the academic discipline of psychology, particularly from the stuff that is more descriptive and less affected by the researcher’s worldview. The key (in my belief) is that whatever we take away from psychology must be held against the truths of God’s Word, and if there is a conflict, the Bible wins.

    (And yes, I realize that there are many of you reading this who don’t see any conflict between your Christian faith and the whole of secular psychology. I know there is a broad spectrum of beliefs on this topic represented here. This is just mine. I don’t want to argue about it in this thread. I’m not going to change my beliefs, and I don’t really want the discussion derailed as people attempt to convert me. :D So don’t try to argue about how I need to ditch the Bible. Ain’t gonna happen. See “Terms of Use” if you have further questions about how those kinds of comments are handled.)

    I think the Reformed types who have such a hatred for the mental health profession are silly and also intellectually inconsistent, as they appear to have no problem using insights brought to them by others who hold to “unbiblical” worldviews.

    Here is yet another repost, but I think it’s a very good and thought-provoking one that fits this conversation:

    It’s my belief SGM’s stance on mental health issues presents a false dilemma brought about by a false understanding of what “Scriptural sufficiency” means. “Scriptural sufficiency” does NOT mean that we must limit our knowledge ONLY to what appears in the Bible. SGM pastors already know this on a practical level anyway, or they would be intellectually consistent and reject other categories of “extra-Biblical knowledge,” such as medical knowledge. (We know they certainly don’t reject medical advances, unless such medical knowledge has to do with brain chemistry, at which point many of them do reject it.)

    Random thought here: do we know of any SGM pastor who has a child with epilepsy? Does that child take anti-seizure medications? Is that child under a doctor’s care? Or does the pastor instead treat the problem of epilepsy as primarily an issue of demon possession, which was the way seizures were apparently regarded in the New Testament, even by Jesus Himself?

    Another random thought: what about diabetes? Do SGM pastors believe that many cases of Type II diabetes would be primarily “sin issues,” since there is a clear relationship between Type II diabetes and obesity, which, of course, for many people, has its roots in the sins of greed and gluttony?

    Do SGM pastors automatically react with “bugged out eyes” and suspicion if they hear that a parishioner is taking anti-seizure medication, or diabetes medication?

    If not, why not?

    By their definition of “Scriptural sufficiency,” it would seem like they ought to be counting these other disorders as “sin issues.”

  • just saying...(the old one)

    I think the root of everything is an arrogant superiority. The need to maintain an arrogant superiority over the rest of the Christian world became the “main thing”. Superiority over denominational churches and their doctrines. Superiority in our experience of God and the Holy Spirit. Superiority in our careers and marriages and parenting and mental status were all attributed to our fanastic teaching. That’s how we grew churches. Convince everyone to leave your churches and come to ours because we are superior.

    We thought we would all be healed, until someone died.
    We thought no marriages would fail, until someone got divorced.
    We thought we would have no perverts in our midst, until someone got molested.
    We thought no one would end up in bankrupcy or foreclosre, until some did.
    We thought our houses would be more clean and orderly than our neighbors, until they weren’t.
    We thought our kids would be perfect, until they rebelled.
    We thought alcoholics and addicts could instantly be free of their addictions, until they fell.
    We thought memorizing scripture could cure mental illness, until it didn’t.
    We thought if victims of mistreatment and abuse forgave, they would instantly be whole, but they weren’t.
    We thought homeschooling our children would create spiritually and intellectually superior beings.

    At first, I’m sure the motive was faith. Faith that we were above all of the woes of the world because we had something superior to the rest of the world…something they didn’t have. Then, when people began to fail to conquer, they began harsh and manipulative threats to contorl people’s behavior and keep them from failing. It wasn’t our superior teaching and doctrine and infilling with the Holy Spirit that made our church superior. It was the threats, the discipline, the punishment, the control, the pain that kept people in line. A lot of it goes back to a “lack of gifting”. He who could inspire thousands by preaching that he had something superior and new, was not gifted as a pastor to care for the hurting and was too impatient to deal with them. He wasn’t interested in tending the flock. So he dealt with them my silencing them. The end justified the means. It was all about maintaining our belief and facade that somehow we were not subject to normal human behavior…at all costs. When people failed to overcome, it threatened the validity of his superior teaching.

    The refusal to acknowledge that perhaps our wives had emotions. The refusal to acknowledge that our addictions may require more than just a care group meeting to control. The refusal to acknowledge that our children required affection and care and love and laughter and KINDNESS. The refusal to admit that some of our well disciplined children just might not totally be wired right. The refusal to recognize that Mrs. So and So’s mental state might not be cured by confronting sin. The refusal to call the police when someone commits a crime. The refusal to allow a victim time to heal under loving and nurturing support. A refusal to care for people. In an effort to maintain our superior facade, we refused to acknowledge the perhaps the outside world could offer us anything to help. We had it all.

    It’s time to humble ourselves and admit we don’t have anything superior that makes us above human fraility and beg the outside Christian world to help us.

  • Stunned,

    I think Happymom’s “DH” is Dave Hinders.

    (Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

  • happymom

    Stunned,

    Yes, I was referring to Dave Hinders. #6. Sorry, should have made that clear. Thanks, Kris!

  • Fried Fish

    Kris, I also wonder if in SGM, keeping the pastor as the central focus of all that self-discovery of sin plays into their reward system as a group of men who love to be praised and to praise each other.

    If I’m an SGM pastor, the more sin I discover in you and get you to acknowledge and repent of, the more loudly you’ll be singing my praises to God when you gather around me in heaven :mic

  • Wow, “just saying…” –

    That is an excellent comment! It could almost be its own post.

    I do think another piece of SGM’s unique problems goes all the way back to the fact that the movement was founded by guys who came of age in the late 60s/early 70s. I think CJ and Larry T were just as infected by the “spirit of the age” as anyone else back then. They really did think (like so many in the Baby Boomer generation) that they were going to “get it right” and fix everything that the old-school generation got so wrong.

    I think this is why SGM at one point called itself “People of Destiny.” If you read Larry T’s Clap Your Hands, you really can get a feeling for how he believed that they were going to go back to the New Testament church and “get it right.” This was the generation that was going to usher in the second coming of Christ by finally going back to the stuff going on in the Book of Acts.

    This is why SGM has its own weird lingo. They don’t say “church service,” they say “meeting” or “gathering.” They won’t call SGM a “denomination” (well, they wouldn’t until just recently, after we poked fun of them here for a few years…I still chuckle when I write “denomination family of churches”), they say “family of churches.” They’ve historically used mostly their own in-house music for worship. When in recent years they brought in some old hymns, they still had to go and redo them and make them better.

    It was all about “getting it right” – finally getting it right.

    What’s interesting is that for all of the teachings about how kids must obey and honor their parents, and for all the parental control and over-involvement in even adult “children’s” lives now, these SGM leaders themselves rarely mention their own parents.

    If we want a better understanding of SGM, we have to look at the “Hippie Generation,” out of which some of this “We’re new, we’re better than our parents” flowed.

  • Also (continuing to riff off of “just sayin’s” #9), one thing I’ve noticed is for all of SGM’s chatter about “spreading the gospel” through the ministry of their “local churches,” the people in SGM churches are very rarely new believers.

    There’s actually very little evangelism taking place in the SGM “local churches”…unless we consider “evangelism” to be equal to people getting evangelized into the SGM way of doing church.

    Most people who join SGM churches arrive there after years as believers in other churches. Yet you still get the sense that SGM represents something of a “second conversion experience” for them. When Guy and I were attending our SGM church, that is one of the things we noticed, and one of the things that ultimately made us have questions and feel uncomfortable. We sat through a small-group meeting where the leader had asked everyone to give their testimonies, and every single story focused more on how people had come to SGM rather than on how they had come to Christ. It was very disconcerting when we thought about it. Oh sure, they mentioned how they got saved, way back when. But the clear impression we were left with was that they “finally got it” when they discovered SGM.

    That’s why it’s so telling that some SGM churches have used money designated for “missions” to support their church facilities and pay for building expenses. They’re literally admitting, in some cases, that the only “missions” work they do involves the “local church.”

    But if you were to examine how many people actually come to know Jesus and get saved through SGM, I think the number would be shockingly low. In most members’ minds, SGM represents the “graduate school” of their faith…something of a “second conversion.” SGM churches pilfer almost all their members from other “local churches.”

    A couple of years ago, there was going to be an SGM church plant to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I would challenge anyone to find a more church-saturated community anywhere in the nation. Colorado Springs is home to a BUNCH of ministry organizations, and there are HUNDREDS of orthodox Bible-believing churches. While there’s nothing wrong with a denomination wanting to get in on the action in such a heavily Christian community, there IS something ludicrous about the way the people involved in this church plant were talking about it on the “sending” church’s blog. They were talking about “sacrificing for the gospel” as they sold their homes and switched jobs to move to another state.

    Uh, “the gospel” (as in the good news of Jesus) is alive and well and already being spread in Colorado Springs. (I mean…it’s sort of like if the Mormons were going to plant a church in Salt Lake City!)

    That made me conclude that whatever “gospel” SGM is spreading is more about the SGM way of doing church than about Jesus.

  • Marian

    Just Sayin’….

    Your post #9 is brilliant. This is how I felt (to my own shame) for many years until the Lord broke me of it when things didn’t work out in my family the way they were “supposed” to according to SGM.

    Thank you for this post. I am actually going to print it out and refer back to it!!

    :goodpost #9

  • Tomcov,

    Thanks for the comment. Welcome to the site.

    ————–

    Fried Fish,

    I honestly don’t think it started out that way. I think the vast majority of SGM pastors are sincere guys who just wanted to honor God in the best way possible – and of course, in SGM, the “highest calling” one could hope for is to be a pastor.

    But then, like you say, it would be very motivating to get the public praise and the strokes. So the “better” a job pastors do of pointing people to their sins, the more praiseworthy they are.

    It’s really an upside-down world, but if you unpack their logic, it’s easy to see how they’ve arrived at the place they’re in right now.

  • Whirlwind

    Kris, you wrote:

    I tend to take the view that we can nonetheless glean helpful insights from the academic discipline of psychology, particularly from the stuff that is more descriptive and less affected by the researcher’s worldview. The key (in my belief) is that whatever we take away from psychology must be held against the truths of God’s Word, and if there is a conflict, the Bible wins.

    Interestingly, I think most (maybe even all) SGM pastors would agree with you on this. I think most of their counseling ideas come from CCEF (where DH serves on the board, and CJ before him), and I’m pretty sure most counselors formally trained through CCEF do feel free to borrow insights from secular psychology where they can.

    I think the problem may be that to the average congregant, the impression is given that there is so little to be gained from any secular approach to psychology, we can simply read from those who have already done the sifting. If we actually need a counselor, we can just stick with our PC-trained pastor because he’s already read all the CCEF books and we’ll be safe from secular influences that would pull us away from Christ.

    This is probably another one of those disconnects where JH would need to get up and say, “When we [meaning CJ] talked about secular psychology, we [the current pastors] didn’t mean to give the impression that it was completely demonic in every possible way.”

  • Whirlwind

    But if you were to examine how many people actually come to know Jesus and get saved through SGM, I think the number would be shockingly low.

    This is true in my church, but, fortunately, the pastors openly admit this, are saddened by it, regularly encourage outreach to non-Christian neighbors and co-workers, and set an example by doing it themselves.

  • Whirlwind

    But I’ll also add to that last comment, I’ve never been in a church (SGM, PCA, SBC or otherwise) where this wasn’t the case.

  • sgmnot

    In SGM spreading the gospel to the non-believer is given lip-service (talked about, sung about, highlighted in testimonies and sermons) BUT…

    You have to fit it in AFTER you go to 2-3 hour Church Meeting each Sunday (more if you are serving that day in some capacity), Care Group, CG Women’s Prayer, CG Men’s Prayer, Care Group with your teen, Youth Meeting with your teen, Children’s Ministry serving (once a month for each parent), Any Children’s Ministry Training/Planning, Any of the multiple Homeschooling Training, Planning, or Activities OR Parent Meetings or volunteering for Covenant Life School (if at CLC)…

    AND AFTER you go to parenting classes, women’s meetings/retreats, men’s meetings/retreats, marriage retreats, Youth retreat with your teen, evangelism and counseling training courses, other courses on various doctrine and sin related topics derived from long, Puritan tomes…

    AND after you read some or many of those long, Puritan tomes…

    AND after you read the latest SGM published or recommended books and catch up on the ones you did read last year and should have…

    AND if you are a CGL/wife, AFTER you go to meetings to be trained or “honored” multiple times through the year at your pastor’s house or the church building, after you meet with various people in your Care Group for meals and fellowship and counseling, AFTER you serve everyone in your Care Group move or help when they are sick or had a baby…

    AND after you spend weekly date times with your spouse, special dates with each child, homeschool field trips or volunteering at your Christian School, keep your house in order with no clutter, plan your meals for 30 days in advance, shop with coupons at various grocery stores to get good deals, dress well, exercise, take your kids to a multitude of church-sponsored or people-in-the-church sponsored activities…AND be available daily to your husband for…xyz…

    AND after you do intense introspection on your own terrible manifestations of indwelling sin (Is exhaustion one?)…

    Only THEN are you supposed to reach out to the non-believing neighbor who lives next door and share the gospel…and hopefully get them to come to church so they can….fit sharing the gospel AFTER you go to 2-3 hour Church Meeting each Sunday (more if you are serving that day in some capacity), Care Group, and so on…

    No one directly TELLS you that you HAVE to do any or all of these things (except the Sunday Meeting and Care Group, you have to regularly attend, if a member or have a special permission from the pastor to not) AND you HAVE to TITHE to be a CGL (where is THAT in the NT?)

    No one makes you do all this…but there is the pressure of the group-think. Everyone ALWAYS asks each other “Are you going to such and such?” There is much emphasis on being in involved with ALL of this as being equivalent to being a mature Christian, as well as, some other area of serving specific to your area of “gifting” in the church like sound-crew, scouting, sports teams, “you name it”, from the pulpit, to the point that I think people get literally burned out, fall into some sin, or get depressed! OR if they are a Type A personality, then they thrive on this and wonder what’s wrong with everyone else??!!

    It is a vicious cycle of activity that Jesus NEVER meant to equal living the Christian life!!! :beat

  • Ozymandias

    This am, I’ve been listening to portions of CJ Mahaney’s 9 December 2007 talk at Grace Community Church in Ashburn, VA re: authority in the church. Between 37:00 and 39:00 into the talk, he emphasizes the future-orientation of a pastor’s role — i.e. caring for souls means that, as a pastor, your main concern is not with the present state of a believer, but with the future state of his/her soul. The talk as a whole highlights Kris’ point #7 in this particular post, but the overwhelming pastoral “future emphasis” discussed in minutes 37-39 has, I would argue, distinct connections with the issue of mental health and counseling. Has it been easy, with such an overwhelming emphasis on the pastor’s “future emphasis,” to downplay, minimize and/or ignore the day-to-day walking-out of the believer’s faith (and the very real struggles that walk entails for many)? The URL for the talk is http://www.gracecommunity.ws/audio/download/5400/2007-12-09_CJMahaney_AuthorityInTheChurch.mp3.

  • Whirlwind,

    I agree with you that it’s likely that not all SGM pastors have a complete hatred of and disdain for “secular psychology.”

    BUT, I would still assert that there is a deep-seated bias against the mental health profession in general. The Andy Farmer presentation, The Pastor And The Counseling Process, was given in 2009, only a little over 2 years ago. If you read the transcript very closely, it becomes clear that the pastors take a dim view of professional counseling (even Christian professional counseling), as well as of psychiatric drugs.

    I was going through the transcript last night, actually, and saw afresh how although at first blush it SEEMS like Mr. Farmer was telling pastors not to react negatively against learning that a parishioner was seeking professional help, what he was actually telling them was to conceal or hide their negative reaction. There’s a big difference. Yes, it’s a positive step, that pastors aren’t being trained to openly declare to the parishioner that he or she is in sin for seeing a counselor, this teaching (to hide one’s negative reaction) does nothing to address how wrong it is for the pastor to have the negative reaction in the first place.

    Plus, it seems really dishonest and phony, to train pastors how to put on their “poker faces.” But I guess that’s a slightly different issue.

    Anyway, in that teaching, the belief in the superiority of counseling offered by SGM pastors is very clear, as is the bias against “secular psychology” and the mental health profession in general. A particularly nauseating quote is this one, where Mr. Farmer is describing a situation where someone who came to him for counseling revealed that she was also seeing a professional Christian counselor:

    It also comes out in – that – that – that Jenny is seeing a counselor. Um, a Christian counselor, someone I know. Uh, and I’ve talked to. But someone who I would say, though they’re Christian, and respects what we do, would be more what we – would be called an integrationist-type counselor, someone who would use the Bible, but is – but drops over into therapeutic categories, psychological categories, as well. Um, I think, frankly, from interaction with our church, and materials, this person has been moved toward more of a Biblical approach, but I don’t assume that what she’s telling is what I would be telling.

    I wrote the following commentary about that paragraph:

    Re-read that last sentence. What do you think of that? I personally found it staggering in its arrogance. Mr. Farmer believes that this professionally trained Christian counselor is “being moved toward more of a Biblical approach” because this counselor has been interacting with a Sovereign Grace church and reading SGM materials? Wow. Let this statement serve as a warning to all the Christian counselors out there who might have to work with SGM people. Folks, when we speak of SGM members’ blatant sense of their church’s superiority, this is precisely the sort of thinking we’re talking about.

    Mr. Farmer goes on to say this:

    So – but you know what, it’s an opportunity for me, so I can, “Oh really? So tell me what you guys are talking about.” So one of the things I do when someone is meeting with a counselor is I – “Tell me what you’re talking about, tell me what you’re hearing.” You know, and – you gotta do it with a happy face. [Crowd laughs.] Um. You know, if you fold your arms like this and say, “So what are you hearing,” you know – you’re not gonna get anything. “Oh, we’re just talking about my life.” But – “Tell me what you’re talking about. Oh really?” And – [unintelligible] try to find connections, try to find similarities, even with a secular counselor. “Oh really, they’re saying that, now why do you think they’re say – that’s interesting, where does, what” [unintelligible] – you’re intaking all the time. One of the things you have to do as a counselor is always intake with a happy face. [Crowd chuckles.] Um, uh, it’s a poker face. Sometimes you’re hearing things and you’re cringing inside. But you realize that, “I can’t let them know my game, and so I’ve got to be able to relate to them.”

    Note – Mr. Farmer does not address why these SGM pastors might have a “game.” He does not suggest that they should question their “game.” Rather, he tells them how to hide their true feelings so that they can then manipulate their counselees into trusting them so that they can go on and lead the counselees into thinking what SGM pastors would have them think.

  • Lauren

    Kris said,

    “I would actually say that…CJ Mahaney may have a special hatred for “secular psychology….”

    Since he was once a druggie, it would not surprise me if he once saw a secular psychologist for treatment. If he was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder or some other illness, this could be a big reason why he has such disdain for the profession.

    Narcissists in particular don’t like to be told they have problems they need to work on.

  • Lauren,

    That’s certainly possible. But we have no way of knowing.

    I’ve often also speculated (and to all you SGMers out there who despise speculation, note that I’m acknowledging that this is speculation, so just skip on over it if it bugs you) that perhaps CJ doesn’t want anyone to gain the tools to see how they are being manipulated.

    And, I’ve also speculated that perhaps CJ himself does not want to deal with the very real insights that secular psychology could offer him about his need for control and his drive for perfection. CJ’s very clear, very obvious personal hangups read like a laundry list of behaviors of children of alcoholics. Perhaps that’s too painful for him, so instead of dealing with his past, he’d rather rail against the diagnostic tools.

  • Here’s a link to an article outlining the characteristics very often exhibited by children of alcoholics: http://www.livestrong.com/article/14265-common-characteristics-of-adult-children-of-alcoholics/

    From that article:

    Control Freaks Children of alcoholics often have an overwhelming need to control everyone and everything in their environment. This fear-based survival technique resulted from growing up in a chaotic environment. Their life experiences have taught them that if they don’t control everything, it will automatically get worse. They also tend to overreact to changes over which they have no control.

    Heightened Sense of Responsibility Children of alcoholics are often “the responsible ones.” At one point or another, most came to believe, that it is either their fault that problems exist in the family and/or their responsibility to “fix it.” From an early age on, the burden for taking care of the family is placed upon their shoulders.

    Care Takers Because of their heightened sense of responsibility, most children of alcoholics believe it is their “role in life” to take care of everyone else. They tend to be attracted to people they can rescue and take care of. You will often find them working in the “helping professions.”

    Perfectionism Children from alcoholic families learned to be “perfect” in order to get some sort of “positive attention.” Conversely, they also learned that if they weren’t “perfect” there would be hell to pay.

    Low Self-Esteem Children of alcoholics rarely, if ever, see themselves reflected back in a positive light. Generally, no matter how hard they try, no matter what they do, they always seem to fall short of “perfection” in their parents’ eyes and as such… in their own eyes.

    Lack of Self-Worth Children of alcoholics not only feel “less than,” but that their wants, needs, thoughts, feelings and accomplishments don’t matter. They believe they are unworthy, unlovable, and simply no good – more often than not, because this is how they were treated while growing up in an alcoholic family.

    Stressed, Depressed, and Anxious Because healthy stress management, coping, communication, and problems solving skills are generally lacking in alcoholic families, children of alcoholics tend to have a much harder time dealing with the variety of life’s adversities. They suffer from much higher rate of stress related “dis-ease,” mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and other serious psychopathology.

    Feelings of Guilt Because of their low self-esteem, and low self-worth, children of alcoholics tend to feel very uncomfortable with and guilty about standing up for themselves and their rights. It is much easier for them to just give into the demands of others and/or carry the burden of shame and guilt for all the problems.

    Critical Self-Appraisal Because children of alcoholics rarely receive positive praise all they know is how to be critical of themselves. They can recite long lists of what’s “wrong” with them, but struggle to find one positive thing to say about themselves.

    Seriousness Children of alcoholics tend to be very serious in their approach to life and often lack spontaneity, playfulness, and joy.

    Difficulty with Intimacy Being intimate requires releasing control, opening up, and being vulnerable to someone else. This is very difficult for children of alcoholics for their early life experiences clearly taught them that to do so would only result in them getting rejected for being who they really are and what they really feel. Another basic survival skill growing up may have been the need to hide their true feelings and not express them in order to protect themselves from being hurt.

    Avoidance of Feelings Children of alcoholics avoid talking about or expressing their feelings, especially those related to traumatic childhood experiences. They are often E-motionally crippled, stunted in their E-motional growth and maturity, unable to feel or express feelings because of their frightening, painful and overwhelming nature.

    Fear of Abandonment Because children of alcoholics fundamentally believe they are unworthy of love and therefore unlovable, they are extremely afraid that once someone finds out “who they really are,” they will once again be rejected and abandoned, left all alone in a cold, harsh world.

    People Pleasers In order to avoid fears of rejection and abandonment, many children of alcoholics will do almost anything to hang on to a relationship with someone who appears to care for them, no matter how bad or abusive it may be. Indeed, most adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.

    Approval Seekers Children of alcoholics will go to almost any lengths to win the love and approval they so desperately long for, and never got, from the people that mattered most to them when growing up – their “family.”

    Perpetual Victims Children of alcoholics tend to feel powerless over their life circumstances; that life has dealt them a raw deal, and there is nothing they can do about it. Many are stuck in the role of “victim” and as such are perpetually victimized.

    Of course, some would argue that CJ actually only exhibits some of these traits. But in another place (which I can’t find now), I read that those who become perfectionist control freaks tend to take a different path than the loyal people-pleasers/approval seekers/victims.

    Again, speculation. But it is a fact that CJ’s father was an alcoholic. I think “secular psychology” can offer us some fascinating insights into why CJ himself would have gone on to found an organization with abusive and dysfunctional characteristics that all flow out of perfectionism, guilt, and control.

  • Lauren

    Yes Kris, and to clarify further, my personal opinion is that those who do access professional help when needed show a lot of inner strength. In my opinion, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

    In the video where C.J. shows off his office library, there is one odd moment where he talks about how “loud” he is and then he pauses and looks down at his clasped hands looking very emotional. He then says something about his mother always thought he was loud. An odd comment and oddly timed.

    To me, there is a lot in that one video that speaks to a few of his inner struggles, but that’s just my take. I think the most loving thing someone could do would be to get C.J. Mahaney professional help. Ignoring or minimizing pain, whether emotional or physical, is a sin.

  • I don’t mean to be urging all this extra reading on people, but for those of you who haven’t looked at it in awhile, I would suggest re-reading the Pastor And The Counseling Process transcript – all 3 parts.

    Especially if you are an SGM member and have questions about what your pastors actually are taught about these matters, you will find this presentation highly instructive. (Links are in the post above.) Yes, it’s lengthy and somewhat tedious, but if you read it carefully, you will gain a sense of what pastors REALLY think…and how they are taught to hide that from you.

    Actually, considering that we can read and hear for ourselves how pastors are taught to hide their true feelings by putting on their “poker faces,” I don’t know why anyone finds fault with us for refusing to take Dave Harvey’s video at face value. Who’s to say that he’s not putting on his own “poker face” in that video?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    The whole evangelistic theory, as I remember it from the early years, was that as we live our live “triumphant in Christ” the unbelievers will be coming to us, asking us what is the difference in our lives, desiring what we have..and that is when we share with them the Gospel. Somewhere over the years, I suppose they got so “caught up” with trying to live such a perfected life, and became so separated from “the world”, that that could not happen. They would talk about how their “little communities” within a “larger community” could reach out to the larger community..helping when someone was sick, offering to babysit for a mom, mowing your neighbor’s lawn..It was all very idealistically wonderful-just like what you mentioned, Kris in the above post #13. Somehow, somewhere along the line, it became more introverted instead of extroverted.

  • sgmnot

    Kris #22: “Tell me what you’re talking about, tell me what you’re hearing.” You know, and – you gotta do it with a happy face. [Crowd laughs.]…One of the things you have to do as a counselor is always intake with a happy face. [Crowd chuckles.] Um, uh, it’s a poker face. Sometimes you’re hearing things and you’re cringing inside. But you realize that, “I can’t let them know my game, and so I’ve got to be able to relate to them.” –Andy Farmer

    THIS is incredibly disturbing, demeaning, arrogant, icky, weird, and :barf:

    Do they have and openly acknowledge (among themselves) that they have a GAME? toward their fellow church family members??

  • Whirlwind

    In regard to Mr.Farmer’s teaching, I’ll go back and listen to the audio. It may be that I too carry too much bias against secular psychology, but I might suggest/follow the same approach he seems to outline here – I’ll listen to the entire audio, but he seems to be saying, “We strongly disagree with secular counseling approaches, but don’t over-react when someone sees a secular or non-SGM/CCEF Christian counselor. Rather than insist they stop seeing the counselor (which might have been an older approach?), just listen and question to see if the counselee is picking up any bad advice and encourage them to rethink what might be in error.”

    I might take this same approach if my daughter went off to a secular college and came home and excitedly began talking about all she had learned in geology and biology classes about the age of the earth and evolution. If she’s enthusiastic about it, rather than risk alienating her by condemning it, I’m going to ask questions and try to help her see where I think she may be missing something. Same as I might want to respond if a child told me they were talking with a Jehovah’s Witness and really appreciating his insights into Christianity.

    I think there could be lots of situations where inside we’re screaming, “NOOOO!!!”, but outwardly smiling and nodding to maintain opportunities for effective communication.

  • Lauren

    For anyone who has not yet seen it, here is the video of C.J. Mahaney showing off his office/library. This really reveals his narcissism. He doesn’t look down at this hands, but there is intense emotion on his face at minute marker 5:01 when he mentions his mother’s labeling him as being loud all his life. Maybe it’s just me, but his expression looks so painful at that moment. The entire video says so much to me about his inner needs, but as I said, this is just my own sense of things. I guess I’m committing the sin of psychoanalyzing. Would it be better if I just sin sniffed? Actually, I really feel sorry for C.J. I think his childhood had to be very hard for such strong defenses to be built up, and it’s sad that someone in the ministry is not reaching out to help him in a productive way right now especially since his ministry continues hurting so many people.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RCStEsLPCw

  • Fried Fish

    Kris #25 –

    That could explain a lot. Not to delve into psychobabble :), but being the child of an abusive (mostly verbal) alcoholic myself, I can relate at least at some level to 11 of the 16 characteristics from the article you cited. I am sure that the number of those characteristics present and the degree to which they are expressed in any one individual will differ based on any number of other factors present in the person’s life, including the longevity and extent of the alcoholic parent’s disease and if/how they dealt with it, the level of abuse that may have been involved, the relationship with the nonalcoholic parent (if there was one), spiritual foundation, level of recognition and dealing with one’s own problems – including professional counselling where warranted, and so on….. If CJ is taking an SGM approach to his own upbringing and not dealing with the real issues because he’s just a dirty sinner himself and already getting better than he deserves, there’s probably a lot of unresolved anger, frustration, helplessness and self-loathing in there. OK I’m done being an armchair psychologist for today :)

  • justawife

    Kris #24:”I’ve also speculated that perhaps CJ himself does not want to deal with the very real insights that secular psychology could offer him about his need for control and his drive for perfection.”

    Excellent observation. Many of the individuals who generally shy away from counseling are those who do not want to face their problems head on. It is easier to live with something by ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist rather than by bringing it to surface and dealing with it.

    My observation as to why SGM and some other Christian churches have been generally opposed to “secular” psychology are for many reasons. First being the acceptance of homosexuality (which does not jive with the Bible or Christianity). Secondly, the overmedication of ADHD that did occur in the 1990s (just now are they beginning to figure it out many of the causes that led to children being improperly diagnosed and unneccessarily medicated. I’m not saying ADHD doesn’t exist, it is a very real disorder and some severe cases necessitate medication, but it was kind of “diagnosis of the moment” during the 1990s and was improperly labeled due to overlapping symptoms with other disorders such as bipolar, Aspergers, OCD,etc). Thirdly, the strong anti-religion emphasis of emerging psychology (as you mentioned in a previous post).

    The problem in the anti-psych reaction of the Christian church in the late 90s was the “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” approach. While you may not agree with the overdiagnostic nature of psychology and should question whether a true medical intervention need be made, you should consider the severity of the symptoms and whether this condition is causing functional impairment. For some medication may not be neccessary but others, to whom their mental health issue causes significant distress, may need medication to function. And it is impossible to understand what someone who is mentally ill goes through unless you have experienced the same issue. A pastor is not qualified IMO to make this judgement so they should defer this an individual facing a mental health issue to a psychiatrist, who with years of medical training, could adequatedly determine whether the individual needs medication or not.

  • sonya

    I attended CCEF for years and still go to conferences and look at podcasts. SGM’s approach to counseling is not the same ,despite their apparent training/endorsement of CCEF.
    The CCEF library where I took classes is filled with books from secular psychology and Powlison has said that many times that secular psychology has very valuable insights, wonderful desriptions and clarity about how human behavior goes awry and that we can learn much from it. When it comes to ultimate causality of our problems they ” go off the rails” because of exactly what Kris mentioned- a belief that we are essentially good.

    Ultimate problem( sin), ultimate solution (God) is clearly the biblical view, but how foolish to think that people who have dedicated time to studying human behavior have nothing to offer or are in some way to be feared!

    CJs vehement rejection of all secular mental health has to offer may be more indicative of the fact the he himself would be termed a sociopath by many in that field and he prefers to play in the sandbox where he controls the definitions and ways of viewing and responding to people.

  • El Pastor

    I hope these threads are getting a wide reading, and not just with SGM folks. I think there is a lot of wisdom coming through here. It’s helped me think through a lot of things. Thank you, Kris,and so many others, especially Just Saying #9. Wow.

  • concerned for the kids

    Kris said:

    ” the people in SGM churches are very rarely new believers….Most people who join SGM churches arrive there after years as believers in other churches….SGM churches pilfer almost all their members from other “local churches.”

    me:
    This is not just happening in SGM, but in all the other churches that have recently fallen in love with the idea of creating a US church “network” by expanding the franchise into other areas (areas with money, of course). Why create a network? Wartburg Watch has a great article on the business of church revenue streams, many of which are directly increased by creating a network. This is becoming the next big stupid thing that the broader Christian church is embracing.

    Kris continued:
    “That’s why it’s so telling that some SGM churches have used money designated for “missions” to support their church facilities and pay for building expenses. ”

    me:
    Not to get off track, but didn’t I just say yesterday or so that there’s probably some deep money funny stuff going on based on what we see? Misappropriating funds designated for something else certainly adds smoke to that suspicion. Hopefully a whistle-blower comes forward soon on the real D**ning financial stuff, as this seems the most likely route to getting these dudes under oath, where they will begin to sacrifice each other instead of lie and risk personal jail time.

    Kris continued:
    “A couple of years ago, there was going to be an SGM church plant to Colorado Springs, Colorado. I would challenge anyone to find a more church-saturated community anywhere in the nation.”

    me:
    Once you realize it’s all about expanding the brand and customer base, and money, and not the gospel in it’s evangelizing sense, you understand why they target middle to upper-middle class neighborhoods with lots of churches and lots of cash. Like most things in our world, it’s all about the money at the end of the day. That’s why they manipulate and abuse when someone questions the golden goose. That’s why Josh fell back in the money line after almost breaking from the pack. That’s why the big-wigs circled the wagons around CJ. That’s why they care more about reputation and perception than doing the right thing. Is it coincidence that supplemental material that is encouraged, from the song CDs, to the books, to the study guides, to the pricey conferences, puts money directly into their pockets.

    It’s not about the people they shepherd, and the behavior over the past 20 years (even just the past month!) demonstrates it’s not about God. There’s no way a holy God is truly part of the SGM vision at this point – not with their actions. Once we get that straight we’ll all be a whole lot less frustrated with how SGM elites act.

    What did that old guy say a long time ago? Oh yeah: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” That guy was smart, I wonder if he ever held conferences…

  • Nickname

    Kris — excellent observations in your post — well written & clear. Thank you — I believe this will be helpful to anyone who reads it.

    #9 — Just Sayin’ — :clap :clap :clap

    Standing ovation from me.

  • Lauren

    This adds some insight into C.J.’s views on Christian psychology. He gets very angry in this sermon.

    Sermon Jam – Pyschotherapy vs. Bible (CJ Mahaney)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0aO8UCjVDE&feature=related

    I’ll loosely paraphrase with partial quotes some of what C.J. says in this sermon and make a few comments.

    “Psychologists say that we have two needs: security and significance. They say we have a God given need to be loved that is born into every infant. If children are deprived of love…they carry the scars for life. This is supposedly Christian counseling. THIS IS NONSENSE.”

    Oh really? So babies don’t need security and love? Maybe this explains why it is so easy for the SGM hierarchy to dismiss the sexual abuse of a three-year-old. Biblically speaking, God is love. We do need God’s love and it is through the love of people that God often works in our lives. C.J. says this is nonsense? To me, it’s basic Christianity. It is through our love for one another that others can know we are Christians.

    He continues, “If you are hurt by what I’m saying, why are you hurt? These counselors don’t challenge the idols. They create new ones. We’re not just talking about academic debate here. I meet people paying thousands of dollars for counseling. If people don’t change – The Bible does not say that I am just a love cup (needing love).”

    Abused kids often protect their abusive parent. One reason abused children have a hard time blaming an abusive parent is because it hurts so much for the child to think that he may not really be loved. This increases insecurity. Is this one of C.J.’s struggles? I don’t know about others here, but it is through God’s love working through the Holy Spirit that I am changed. In this sermon C.J. disdains the idea of anyone needing love. It’s as though we are all so rotten that we should not even desire to be loved. This feels perverse to me. Why would we not desire something that God is so eager to give us? Something that defines God’s very nature?

    “With the love cup model you don’t need a Savior. (They say) that Jesus becomes the therapist supervising with you offering you unconditional acceptance. Folks, He doesn’t unconditionally accept us. He can only accept us on this condition. That His Son suffered the wrath that we deserve….because we are rebellious idolatrous sinners and because of that sacrifice, He accepts us. That’s how He accepts us.”

    This sermon excerpt shows really well how C.J. Mahaney takes some Biblical truth and then twists it into something that is not Biblical. He ridicules the idea that human beings need love and security when the essence of God is love and the security that comes through faith and trusting in Him. The focus of Christ’s sacrifice for us is that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son….” It is not based upon our works, but upon God’s love which is His nature. Nothing we do can separate us from the love of God. (Rom. 8:38-39) God wants to fill us with His love and through His love, we love others.

    Scripture: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:7-11)

    Love is the reason Christ died for us, not because God regards us as trash. We are made in His image and we are very loved by the Lord. Our own righteousness is as filthy rags, but God values human beings and He sent His precious Son out of His great love for us.

    It is so ironic hearing this narcissistic man make fun of people’s need to be loved when he himself craves the adulation of men. The way he raises his voice, there is so much anger towards Christians working in the field of psychology. He feels disdain for people who need basic love in their lives. My heart goes out to those of you who have been spurned by this “ministry” of disdain for those God loves.

  • Guy

    FYI….

    I’m taking Kris away for the long weekend…taking her to a place where the innernet don’t grow (that could be a country song). You might submit a comment that winds up in moderation. If so, just chill and it will come out when we get back.

    Have a fun Labor Day…I know we will. Guy :Elvis:

  • sgmnot

    Not to take away from all that has been said today, great insights Kris et al, but I just wanted to thank Taylor for standing up and telling her story again! Every time I think of you locking your daughter in at night and then having to lie down with that man, each night dying a little more inside of yourself, all in what you were told was the “Christian” way–I am sickened!
    I thank God that you had the strength to leave that abusive marriage and church!

  • Irv

    Just Saying #9 – Excellent composite of the arrogance of SGM and much of the church in America. :word

    Kris – Your pinpoint accuracy is amazing and a bit scary at times :D

    Reading through the many great comments and insights I am provoked to say the least. Taylor’s story was devastating and made me hurt all over. The world of unreality and lack of authenticity that exists in SGM is so dangerous but what is more dangerous is they think their world is the reality and they are the epitome of authenticity.

    From the SGM doctrine of sin there is no place for innocence as everyone is guilty. That being the case there is no need for incarceration as crime = sin. A quick confession of wrong doing at the cross resolves the sin issue therefore the crime issue. Confession = repentance! So if I carry this to the absurd – If they were counseling a baby that survived an abortion, the baby would first need to forgive those who were trying to end its life and then confess its own sin of being in the wrong place at the wrong time!!!

    One other thought – I don’t recall at anytime in 15 years a realization of the spiritual conflict with the rulers, the powers of the world forces of darkness, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Paul stated ‘we are not ignorant of the schemes of the devil. I don’t believe within SGM there is any understanding of the working of the demonic forces therefore doesn’t have a clue of his schemes. Their ignorance has imprisoned them and also those under “their” authority.

    From my seat, they are governing against God and not with Him? God will not be mocked – whatsoever a man sows he will reap. SGM is crumbling and they are carrying on as if they and their mission are being blessed. They (men) are building the house, hence they are laboring in vain!!

  • justawife

    @Lauren#38: Thank you for posting that sermon of CJ’s opinion of psychotherapy. He seems to be discounting all of psychology (including Christian psychology) on the basis that it is NOT Biblical. Likewise he is warning listeners that the only place they will receive books that look at this in a “Biblical” perspective are those in the church bookstore or those messages coming from his church. It’s almost as if there is no room for dissent, no room for critical thought and evaluation of opinions other than his own.

    What I kept on asking myself throughout hearing his mini-sermon is what led him to believe that his opinion is superior to others (particularly superior to Christian psychologists who have spent years of training studying psychology)? I agree you cannot blindly accept what any other Christian psychologist may tell you, but what led him to believe that his ideas on Christian counseling are in any way superior?

  • Irv

    Guy and Kris — Have a great weekend and thanks from all of us for your labor of love to the body of Christ!!!

    :clap :clap :clap

  • Argo

    Just sayin’, I agree with everyone. That number 9 post is just excellent. Kris, I agree that this could be its own post. In fact, I think it should be. This is a post all of SGM needs to read, in my opinion. Brilliant.

    exCLCr’s mom: Yes, truly you are right. Your assessment of the possible place for a pastor in the process is completely sensible. And I agree that, in a normal church, that is a completely appropriate role for the pastor. The problem is that I don’t believe the SGM pastor can see it this way. Their aversion to the mental health profession does not permit them to see their proper role as clearly as you do. That is a shame.

  • Stunned

    theory:

    CJ was deeply scarred by his alcoholic, neglectful parent. CJ never got the healing he needed, by neglecting his own need for being aware of God’s love for him, or rather, God’s Holy Spirit filling CJ’s love and security cup.

    The Holy Spirit starts doing His work mid-90’s and people are feeling loved up one side and down the other.

    Problem with that is if you have a huge unhealed, undealt with well that you have neglected, covered up with wood boards and put a big old “Leave Alone” sign on it, you can make due OK for a while. But once someone (like God) shows up and starts pouring His love all over you and that love comes in like a flood, that flow isn’t too descriminate. It acts sort of like water and goes everywhere, working its way between the cracks of the wood and dripping down into that dark, sealed up well.

    Now you can ignore a well if you cover it up and stop feeling, but once something shows up and starts messing with that well, those pains, well, darn it, they start to come back. It doesn’t always feel so good at first. Or if it does, initially it feels good but as the water continues to pour in, well it’s like a limb that lost all feeling because it’s fallen asleep. Sometimes you don’t know it’s fallen asleep. But man, once it starts to wake up- ssshhheeeewwweeee, it can hurt. Pins. Needles. Worse yet, memories come keep popping up.

    If you are a man or woman used to being in control and something as uncontrollable as horrific memories start popping up, it can get terrifying.

    And if you don’t understand what is happening (the limb waking up, indicating that it is coming to life in essence), then it is not only painful, it is scary. If you don’t have someone skilled in this to walk you through it and say, “It’s OK. I think God is at work and He wants you to finally start facing and dealing with those things from your past”, then it can really freak you out.

    You’d do anything to stop it.

    Even if it in some ways is freeing. It has got to leave someone feeling very conflicted.

    I wonder if that is what happened back when many people believe they watched CJ stop the move of the Holy Spirit.

    And yes, that is what we also call speculation.

    PS. Speculation can be a healthy thing or a not so healthy thing. It’s like trying on glasses. Sometimes it allows us to see so much more clearly than we had been able to see without them.

    Stunned

  • Defender

    Stunned said:
    [In SGM] “Repentance is king.

    Which sounds nice, until you realize Jesus is supposed to be king.”
    You are absolutely right sister! :goodpost

    Kris & Guy,
    God Bless your weekend! :D

    Defender

  • Oswald

    Whirlwind #30–My thoughts exactly.

  • Justawife said:

    “What I kept on asking myself throughout hearing his mini-sermon is what led him to believe that his opinion is superior to others (particularly superior to Christian psychologists who have spent years of training studying psychology)? I agree you cannot blindly accept what any other Christian psychologist may tell you, but what led him to believe that his ideas on Christian counseling are in any way superior?”

    Not to mention what about the other SGM Leaders? It looks like they pretty much blindly or conveniently accepted what Mahaney said here without any thought of their own. Another example of accepting what their “pope” says without question.

  • Kris said:

    “I would actually say that while CJ Mahaney may have a special hatred for “secular psychology,” it is fairly common in Reformed circles these days to believe that psychology is diametrically opposed to the Bible and therefore provides nothing helpful for the Christian.
    I can actually see how they arrive at this view. The foundational theories of psychology (Freud’s, Skinner’s, Erikson’s, Roger’s, Adler’s, Piaget’s, and so forth) all start with the assumption that humanity is essentially good (or at least morally neutral, until our parents jack with us). ”

    I can understand these leaders are coming from. What really concerns me is the reports of SGM Leaders not seeing the need and preaching against medication for some psychiatric conditions. These are the same men that will take medication for allergies and cholesterol issues but then will turn around and not see the need for medication for some psychiatric conditions.

    As one person pointed out, yes there have been conditions where medication has been over prescribed but that doesn’t mean there is no need at all for medicating some people. From what I hear, with some conditions as long as the person takes their medicine they function normally but have all kinds of problems when they stop taking their medicine.

  • Oswald

    #31–thanks for the link. It’s very telling in that it shows, once again, CJ’s magnification of the other men in T4G and mentioning his own lack of education and that he’s ‘just a pastor'; the ‘aw shucks, I’m really nothing’ attitude , which begs for praise. He does this on many occasions, (at least at my church). True humility seems lacking.
    I think this is true of many who start out small and gain recognition and then don’t handle it well. They begin to believe they really are ‘all of that’. (ie: Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Sweigert, and others)If you’ve been around a long time, you can see changes over many years.

    I love the music associated with the link. I listen to it often and sing along or just listen and weep for joy.
    Thanks again.