Do SGM’s Problems Shake Your Faith?

Kris says:  What follows is one of those posts that some of you (those of you who come here looking for news) probably won’t like, as it’s an editorial of sorts – some of my thoughts about a recent trend I’ve noticed in my email and in comments people have left.  I really don’t presume to be any sort of teacher or profound thinker, so if you’re not usually interested in what I have to say, then you might want to come back another day, when we may finally have some news about things like the release of the report from the Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

That being said, if you’re still here – well, here goes.  :D


In the previous post, new commenter “Shoreline” said,

I am much more interested in how to salvage shipwrecked faith as a result of the experience of sgm.

This is a theme I’ve been hearing more often lately. A few days ago, “yentl” wrote,

So…if good Christians throughout SGM stand up against spiritual abuse, will I be whole again? Unfortunately, if they find in my favor, my friends will hate me. Either way…I lose.

I get the feeling, from different comments and emails, that the issues with which Sovereign Grace Ministries has been dealing over the past 8 or 10 months or so have caused a lot of upheaval in at least some SGM members’ spiritual lives.

I’m looking at the last sentence that I wrote and realizing that what I just said probably seems really, really UN-profound to a lot of you.  But I think it’s important to understand that for people on the outside of SGM, their ideas about “church” are much more elastic…and much less foundational to their Christian faith.

And, if you find that SGM’s problems are causing you to feel differently about your Christian faith – your walk with Jesus – then that’s quite likely a sign that you have confused the real gospel (the good news of what Jesus has done for us) with something else (the role that your SGM church plays in your life as a Christian).

I believe that because of the way SGM churches were established (for years, SGM’s “missions” efforts were almost exclusively directed toward planting more SGM churches in already-churched suburban neighborhoods where there were already plenty of gospel-proclaiming, Bible-believing congregations), and because of what SGM pastors have believed and taught about church, too many people within SGM have made the way that SGM “does church” the defining aspect of their lives as believers. For instance, if you look at earlier SGM writings like the collaborative Why Small Groups: Together Toward Maturity, it is clear that for decades the leaders of SGM believed that SGM churches’ approach to “biblical fellowship” was the only real way to have sanctification…and of course, while sanctification does not save us (or so the book says initially), sanctification will be taking place if we are “truly saved”…and sanctification cannot happen apart from “biblical fellowship” as SGM defines “biblical fellowship”…so therefore, your SGM church, with its “biblically correct” approach to fellowship is crucial to your sanctification, which is required in order for you to actually be saved. (This is discussed here at some length.)

In addition to SGM’s rigid ideas about what constitutes “biblical fellowship,” SGM has for years marketed itself as practically the only purveyor of “correct doctrine,” because SGM is just about the only church out there that is – on paper at least – both “Charismatic” and “Reformed.”  Moreover, a lot of SGMers have absorbed the idea that pretty much no other church gives its people enough tough talk about sin.

The bottom line for many loyal SGMers is that although they like to defend their SGM churches by paying lip service to the idea that “no church is perfect,” the very reason that they feel the need to defend SGM in the first place is because SGM has in many ways historically believed itself to be “more biblical” than other churches, and about as close to perfect as it’s possible for a church to get in this lifetime.

SGM churches have also been “One-Stop Shops.”  For years, members were trained to look to their pastors for all their needs.  Within SGM, pastors were thought to possess special abilities to know their people’s hearts – abilities to discern a person’s sins better than the person himself could discern them.  From C.J. Mahaney’s Happiest [Dearest] Place On Earth sermon comes the following quote:

We need good and godly pastors to watch over our souls because we are vulnerable on a daily basis to the deceitfulness of sin, the hardening effect of sin upon our souls. So sin is deceptive. That’s the DNA of sin, the DNA of sin is deception, therefore we need the discerning and caring eyes of pastors and others because so – so often I’M BLIND TO WHAT IS OBVIOUS TO THEM.

Also, SGM members were for years taught to have disdain for anything having to do with the mental health profession.  No matter what the issue or problem, the SGMer was trained to seek help only from his or her pastor.  Professional counseling – even professional Christian counseling – was automatically suspect.  While it is true that pastors have been told within the past couple of years (since this issue has been discussed publicly here and on other sites) to tone things down, this stuff was taught to pastors as recently as 2009.  At the 2009 Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors’ Conference, Andy Farmer gave a lengthy teaching to SGM pastors about The Counseling Process in which he provided ample evidence of SGM’s longtime antipathy for the mental health profession.  In that message, he even suggested that pastors might help members figure out whether or not to take prescription drugs such as anti-depressants:

But, uh, I think in generally speaking, we can engage people in their medications in a very helpful thoughtful way and they could – and they could – they could be, ah – and – and – and – we can become part of that process of the management of it.  [View the context for this statement in paragraphs 12-15 here.]

Back in the day, SGM pastors even believed that they ought to be the primary go-to guys for situations involving child sex abuse, weighing in on whether or not victims should involve law enforcement and the legal system, putting pressure on victims to forgive perpetrators quickly, and basically doing little to support victims while at the same time seeming to take the side of the perpetrator.

The bottom line is that if you’ve been part of an SGM church for a significant period of time, you will have very likely reached a place where you are dependent upon your church and your pastor in a way that simply does not happen out in “normal” Christianity.  You have been required to place so much faith and confidence in your church and your pastors that they really do need to be close to perfect. 

To summarize, you’ve been taught that 1) your church is one of the very few purveyors (if not the only purveyor) of truly “biblical” doctrine, particularly as it pertains to being (supposedly) both Reformed and Charismatic; 2) your salvation is dependent upon your sanctification, which is dependent upon a very particular formula for small-group fellowship; 3) your pastors have superior insight into your heart than you yourself do; and 4) your pastors ought to be the main source for all manner of advice.

With all those teachings, it stands to reason that if you discover your church organization might not actually be worthy of so much blind and unquestioning trust, the way you’ve been living out your Christian faith – with so much emphasis placed on your local SGM church – may start to bother you.  You may begin to question many elements of what you have been taught.

The good news in all of this is, well, the good news - the gospel.  The real gospel of Jesus – what He has accomplished on our behalf, what He continues to do now through the work of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that He never changes, despite what your church may have told you about how “constant change is here to stay.”  If you’re finding yourself feeling like the bottom has fallen out of your Christian life because the SGM organization is struggling to define itself, then maybe that’s a sign that you need to look at your church less and look to Jesus more.

The Bible tells us that Jesus – and not a particular expression of His church – is the author and finisher of our faith.  The Bible also tells us that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  While I believe the Bible also tells us that it is important for us to seek out the company of other believers and worship and study the Word with them, the Bible does not specifically spell out (as SGM has always spelled out) the precise way this must be done.  If you’re finding that your faith is being shaken these days, there’s a good possibility that you may have been putting your faith in the wrong thing.

309 comments to Do SGM’s Problems Shake Your Faith?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Very good post Kris.

    You have been required to place so much faith and confidence in your church and your pastors that they really do need to be close to perfect.

    If you’re finding that your faith is being shaken these days, there’s a good possibility that you may have been putting your faith in the wrong thing.

    I thought I would broaden your concern a little bit in case anybody else, like me, has been shaken not so much by SGM itself but by the celebrity preachers of the Gospel Coalition shacking up with CJ. I think I have worked it through over the years, but although I did not put my faith in SGM leaders, I certainly put other men on high pedestals.

    The hardest was John Piper. I still think he is one of the greatest living preachers on earth. His collection of CD messages of biographies of late great men of the faith is profound. Romans, Hebrews, Future Grace, God’s desire for our joy in him( Desiring God)……Piper is a greatly anointed preacher. For us, recognizing CJ as sociopathic in the 90s, to see Piper link up with him, well, that was gut wrenching. The grief and dismay lasted for years.

    Duncan…..I’ve heard him preach on the Word of God at the PCRT, and other messages as well. What depth to the Glory of God. Watching him get into the T4G bed with CJ…ugh. CJ was such a poor teacher I could not for the life of me figure it out. I still can’t.

    Randy Alcorn- a good guy. A real Christian. Praising CJ?? that was a blow.

    Never cared too much for Mohler, Dever, Trueman anyway, and could brush off DeYoung and Ortland as young. Could step back and watch Driscoll still be part of “the group” and realize that as long as you had TULIP in place and the 5 solas, they left you alone on prayer and polity. But Grudem??? Grudem?? Wayne, don’t you get it?

    Sinclair Ferguson, the incredible doctrinal genius with a big heart for children and laymen (unlike what I saw in SGM)…Sinclair, don’t you get it?? How can you speak at their conference?

    No, they don’t get it. How can we see it and they do not? Do you have to be in SGM to see it? I struggled so long with it all.

    I have cried on the phone with my pastor, and talked at length with my husband. Talk about agony. I have had to face that I put men on pedestals, and to face that God himself allowed SGM to fool people with an image that only now is getting exposed, in His divine purpose. God is exposing more than SGM, He is exposing trends and weaknesses and sins that go to the very top in neocalvinst circles nation wide. As a neocalvinist myself, this has been rough for me. My faith itself was not shaken, but my cynicism about church and pastors has been tested to the max.

    My biggest helps:

    1. Meditating on Peter who fell so bad as described in Galatians, due to peer pressure and fear of man.

    2. Folks I knew at CCEF who told me that they saw it all and could not send anybody to SGM. Finding out that Ken Sande saw it all and CJ would not listen to him.

    3. My husband exhorting me that neocalvinists have made an idol out of doctrine to the neglect of dependency on God in prayer, and true care for the sheep. “The goal of our instruction is love”. Repenting of that idol myself- (which is why we even joined SGM. We alone had Calvinism and Charismatic truths together. We were the best place for doctrine.)

    4. Being in a decent church now with a true pastor and true elders. They have their flaws and we have had arguements, but it has done a lot for my cynicism. The outreach to needy and orphans has kept my focus right. I don’t know if you can ever get over it all unless you are part of a flawed but decent real church.

    5. Survivors and Refuge. The blogs have helped me process reality in so many ways, and have forced me to examine my own heart and attitudes so many times. Too many posters to list by name.

    At the end of the day above everything else I come back to exCLCer who has left the faith after watching what happened to her family in response to sexual molestation, and [another victim] in a mental hospital, cutting her own body, suicidal and in agony. At the end of the day I have met up with the God of Justice who loves these women and is going to deal out the fires of Justice.

    I do feel compelled to obey this verse ( Isaiah 62):

    “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves, And give Him no rest, until He establishes
    And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”

    We must not rest in our prayers for the Lord to establish His church.

    Sorry to be so long winded. Thanks again to the many posters here without whom I don’t know if I ever would have processed my own sin and need to repent, and gotten past bad church experiences ( not just SGM). To think we are just evil pornography :D :roll:

  • Mattie Chathan

    I have to say, after leaving SGM, I’ve had a ton of cynicism and disillusionment to work through. The worst of it has been a total disinterest in reading the Bible, as I still hear Gene and his messages through the passages underlined in my ESV. My current solution has been to just read the Message.

    The other thing that I’ve had to deal with (which you mention) is the fallout from the total rejection of psychology and counseling. I think I might have majored in psychology if I hadn’t been in a SGM church before heading off to college, and even today I’m at a total loss regarding finding a “good” counselor. I have no criteria for knowing a good professional counselor or therapist, and I’m torn between habitual distrust of secular therapists and being jaded toward the ones who profess to be Christian (using papyrus font on their websites doesn’t help that much, either). There’s no good way to find a happy median–no polar start to chart these waters post-SGM.

  • Epaphras

    Trite, but always true: the strongest deceptions intertwine themselves around the most profound truths.

    Truth: the church is beloved to our Lord Jesus.
    Deception: any particular local church is co-extensive with the church.
    The hook: post-modern church shopping does displease our Lord.

    Truth: as we behold HIm in fellowship with one another, we are transformed.
    Deception: we do not have a direct one-on-one communion with Him in heaven by the Spirit.
    The hook: we do not, indeed, live to ourselves.

    Thirty years ago, thankfully, I really got “it” and both my life/ministry was transformed:

    If our hearts (individually AND) corporately) are fixed on Christ Jesus the Person, the local church somehow ‘appears’ and, admitting her sins, does well.

    If our hearts are fixed on the local church(es), ESPECIALLY if we fantasize that we ‘serve the church’ for Him personally, we lose Him (e.g., not literally, but Body detaches from Head functionally) and so lose the local churches too.

    Just as the Holy Spirit ‘obsessively’ turns all attention from Himself to Jesus, though He is the Third Person of the Godhead, healthy churches don’t even notice themselves, their programs, their size, their coolness any more than a bride focuses on herself instead of her Bridegroom.

    That isn’t just nice religious talk. It’s the whole ballgame.

    Though real, findable-on-GPS local churches are His will without question, they remain scaffolding which come-and-go over the centuries. If they weren’t, ‘planting’ a church in areas where there are already other churches would be sheer wickedness. Though always biblically questionable, there ‘may’ be reasons to do so, solely because those churches AND OURS are tents of pilgrimage, not eternal stone cathedrals.

    If our faith is in ‘the church’, then Revelation 2 and 3 will shake our faith. How can the Lord who loves His LOCAL churches treat them so? Because He loves you and me far more than the assembled entity He addresses in Ephesus, Smyrna, etc.

    His ONE Body is indestructible and eternal. The ten million (probably more) precious local scaffolds for the on-the-ground building up of His ONE Body are temporal.

    While subtle, the universal practice of terming a local church “our Body” or “our local Body” verges on doctrinal heresy; no exaggeration. Once Screwtape gets us to function as though a local church is The Body of Christ (he is glad we’re so ‘clever’ that we pooh-pooh even the notion that WE would be so silly).

    Aren’t we glad that the way back to faith is always the same? “Follow Me”.

    That’s something children like us can understand.

    (Oh and SGM-organization-things are merely scaffolds OF scaffolds).

  • DB

    After we were dismembered from our church we couldn’t find another one just like them with nice pastors instead of Dave Harvey and his henchmen so it took awhile to realize that we should thank God for that and enjoy our newfound albeit reluctant freedom in Christ and let the thing go.

    It has taken some time (and we have some work left to do) to separate what is godly and what is churchly, peel away the churchly and focus on the godly.

    Now, we realized that the godly/churchly combo was a lethal dose of legalism but cutting away the sgmanure was tedious but the more we got rid of it, the more of what was godly was visible.

    The body of Christ is like a chimera or a moasic mutation (or the X chromosome inactivation) if you know any one of those three phenomanon in the first, you have a blanding of two genomes a chimea was two animals/one body. There are extremely rare cases of this in humans, if you don’t already know about the other two, just stick with the first (it would take too long) the Body of Christ in SGM land is a bad mix of the mutated or bad line of manmade junk but it is packaged such that it looks like its from the same source as the godly stuff and you get a bizarre piecework that isn’t healthy or godly.

    I am questioning everything right now because when I started to question before, I felt like I was evil entertaining evil rebellious thoughts and everything. Now, with a large dose of freedom in Christ and a desire to put a whoopass on anything that holds people in bondage, I am questioning everything.

    So far, no lightning bolts to my bad ass.

    Oh, yeah, I have a *minor* in Psychology and I’m taking a class right now on Evolutionary Biology,

  • Izze

    My short answer is no. The Jesus of the bible is the same regardless of how people act or how pastors interpret specific principles. He is still the one who saved this lost and hopeless college student many years ago. However, I do question many principles that were taught and culturally expected.
    1) I may actually work when I have kids and that is okay.
    2) I don’t have to homeschool.
    3) It’s not “unsubmissive” to question my husbands decisions (he would never think so anyway)
    4) I don’t have to run to our caregroup leaders if we have a conflict. Being grown up means working through things together. i don’t have to share EVERYTHING.
    5) I am not the worst sinner in the world. I’m just not. And to make any sort of comparison is not beneficial.

    I’m sure I could go on but these are the things that held power over me when I was a “good lil Sovereign Gracer”

  • Lost in (cyber) Space


    Wow! This post really captures my experience over the past 8 mos. I have realized that I put my SGM leaders on pedestals and made my church an idol. See, I made it my “god”. I looked to the church and their interpretation of doctrine to tell me what I was supposed to be like as a Christian. I drank the koolaide big time. When I saw things that bothered my conscience, I told myself to believe the best for they knew far more than I did. I acted my part pretty well… at least on the outside. Inside I was dying.

    Since the release of Brent’s docs, the wool has been removed from my eyes and I see the lack of integrity and hipocrisy of the head honchos in SGM. This has shaken my faith, for I really believed they were above reproach. I was told they were humble godly men that were worthy of my admiration and emulation.

    Yes, my faith has been shaken… but it is my fault. My foundation is/was faulty. I built on the sand. I did not study God’s Word for myself. I read devotionally, but was not a “Berean”.

    Kris, I believe the Lord is establishing in me that, of all that I have heard and learned, the thing I can build on is the true gospel. Jesus is the Son of God. He came to seek and save the lost. He died on a cross for my sins. He was raised from the dead and sits at the right hand of the Father. The same Spirit that raised him from the dead abides in me. He has given me His Spirit to guide, lead and teach me in His ways. This is true. This is my foundation. All of the other stuff… well… I will need to look to the Holy Spirit to help me know what is good and what needs to be tossed into the fire.

    Thank you for writing this post. It really helps that you and others see what I see and have experienced what I have. I am grateful to God that He has opened my eyes to see my idolatry and the fallibility of my SGM leaders. He has used you and many of the posters her to help me see that more clearly.

  • The short answer is no, it didn’t shake my faith in Christ, despite the abuse we endured and observed. It did shake my faith in the local church as an institution. It also set me on a decade quest, researching church history and the history of scripture….that did shake my faith.

  • Michael

    God help me, yes, they do.

    But then, if the problems shake my faith, that means my faith has been largely placed in SGM. It’s one thing to have outrage against injustice, to speak up for the oppressed, both of which are Scriptural practices. But to waver, to doubt Him…but He wasn’t the one who sinned.

    What this reveals to me is that I have never fully placed my trust in Jesus. I struggle to do so to this day. I mean, “take up your cross and follow Me” is still one of the most terrifying statements that I have heard in my life. And it’s not like you’ve never heard that if you’ve grown up in an SGM church like I did: you hear that all the time!

    It is disheartening to me how quickly I gravitate toward placing my trust in man, even men and women who do some ridiculously bad things, because it’s more tangible and less frightening than an enigmatic Christ. I didn’t just trust that my leaders were godly because they told me they were: I WANTED them to be exactly as godly as that. I wanted to stop thinking, and just follow. Just serve. Just do it.

    Was I encouraged to do that? By some, yes. But I wasn’t coerced. I am culpable as well.

    Lest you think I am still buying into the SGM culture’s crusade against victims, I have been abused and betrayed before by someone outside of SGM. I was an innocent victim. I can discern the difference between the two situations. In my time with SGM, as long as I was silent or participatory in its wrongdoings, I was part of the problem.

  • Roadwork

    What helps is realizing that I was not the problem. The legalistic man-made structure and the leaders that support it is the problem.

    Thankfully, my wife and I had a number of good church years prior to SGM. If SGM were the whole of our experience, we may not have come out of it in anything but a destroyed condition. In other words, if that’s the best there is (and that is what they infer), then I’m not interested.

    Getting out and visiting other churches, meeting other believers and their pastors has been very helpful.

    I liken SGM to a cheap Chinese made knockoff of the real thing. The parts are inferior, it’s not UL listed, not code compliant, it’s a shock and fire hazard, it’s manufacturer is not bound by regulations, it’s not afraid to steal original designs from others and it won’t last like a real well-made product.

    When it breaks (and it is broken), it’s not worth fixing. Toss it and get a real one: Christ and Him alone. Patronize only those that support the Real Thing. (In other words, a well established church, grounded and rooted in the faith.)

    Maybe you think I’m just spouting off. Maybe I can break this down (and I’m sure you can add others):
    • The parts are inferior – They are a corporation and not a church. They’ve lacked any substantial mission and mercy efforts for years.
    • It’s not UL listed – Underwriters Laboratories is an independent testing facility that tests products to determine whether or not they are safe when used according to the instructions. SGM has been tested these last 30 years and it’s not a safe place to be.
    • Not code compliant – They twist biblical words and patterns to fit their own use. They aren’t even well versed in what the Code (the Bible) says.
    • It’s a shock and fire hazard – How many families and individuals have been burned by SGM?
    • Its manufacturer is not bound by regulations – There is no accountability.
    • It’s not afraid to steal original designs from others – Grudem’s book too heavy for the “intensive” training of the PC? They made their own and edited out stuff they didn’t agree with.
    • It won’t last like a real well-made product – I think we’re witnessing this.

  • Persona

    One of the first things that happened when I finally saw the pastors of the founding church as, the big bullies they were is, Jesus got bigger, much bigger. Soon, I began to see Jesus as my first love again and, I ran to him for comfort. That’s when healing began for me.

    How had I allowed those pastors to rob me of this experience? I still don’t fully understand but, part of it is them asking for adulation and another part is me giving it to them.

    So, after years of cold and calculated abuse, the scales finally fell-off and I was free to imagine life without the oppression and mind-numbing cruelty that typified our treatment at the hands of the ‘shepherds’ in that church.

    Healing was sped-up by three months of counseling from someone well-trained in abusive church practices. That counselor helped me see that men were never meant to be entrusted with the trust that should be reserved only for God.

    I am just now beginning to enjoy and learn from sermons (from non-sgm pastors) so, total recovery might take years to achieve. But, I have every hope that it will.

  • Lee

    For me, I can say that my three years in SGM didn’t shake my faith at the time. I think whether or not it does depends a lot on your background. I had been in some good healthy churches, always did a lot of reading, and had actually seen some concerns while I was there. But I can see how if someone was there a long time and didn’t have the experience I did with other denominations that it could really affect their faith. Something I find almost amusing now is that I used to do a lot of research on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society and wonder how on earth people could be attracted to it, and I ended up in a similar situation! (better doctrine but still similar control)

    I do have to wonder though if my experience at PDI did not contribute to some of the problems I faced a few years after leaving PDI. I went through 18 years of an incredibly abusive marriage of which the very last three years were spent at PDI. I had a bit of a meltdown emotionally and spiritually after I got divorced (outwardly I was stable but inwardly I was a mess) I did find myself with a total distrust of male leadership and a ton of cynicism regarding Christianity. I honestly really can’t totally separate out what may have been because of my marriage and what may have been because of PDI.

    I, like Lost @ #6 do feel like I do bear some responsibility for building on sand and not being more of a Berean. I tend to be a trusting soul and want to think the best of everyone.

    Anyways, for those experiencing doubt…I would say to keep reading your Bible and keep trying to pray. For years I couldn’t even read my bible and pray and I still struggle with it.

    Don’t give up on finding a good church. They exist. In the past, I could always find a good church right away. This time I couldn’t. I tried and tried. The churches I visited weren’t bad, but there just seemed to be something missing. I knew I needed a very grace based church. Don’t discount a church till you’ve tried it several times…for four years I passed a traditional looking SBC church on my way to work and finally gave in and went. They were indeed traditional. But the pastor’s preaching was incredible and so full of wisdom and grace. I’ve probably driven the pastor crazy with comments and questions. He probably thinks I am nuts but he doesn’t show it. I know now that God knew this church was exactly what I needed, and perhaps God was the one who was keeping me from being content in the other churches because He wanted me there. This church is so NOT based on entertainment or Christian celebrity. I am sooo thankful for that now!

    I’m a strong believer in the Sovereignty of God…not because of SGM, but because I believe that is what the bible teaches. If He’s started a good work in you, He will finish it! Don’t beat yourself up over the past, but start asking God to work in you, to show you what He wants you to learn and to keep conforming you to the image of Christ. Ironically, my favorite new song is actually an SGM Song called “Show us Christ”.

  • Jimmy

    sanctification will be taking place if we are “truly saved”…and sanctification cannot happen apart from “biblical fellowship” as SGM defines “biblical fellowship”…so therefore, your SGM church, with its “biblically correct” approach to fellowship is crucial to your sanctification, which is required in order for you to actually be saved.


    This assertion by you is way over the top and a jumping to inaccurate conclusions based on inaccurate assumptions – No SGM pastor that I know would agree with this distortion of truth – group dynamics can definitely encourage sanctification in specific areas of our lives, but the Bible tells us that “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” – I Cor. 1:30.

  • Unassimilated

    Jimmy –

    John Loftness, Corby McGordon, Grant Layman, Adam Malcolm, and a few other SGM Pastors have said from both the pulpit, and to me personally, what Kris states about the cruciality of the Church to your sanctification. That concept is also the basis for “Why Small Groups.” Published by PDI/SGM.

    We used to joke about those that thought they would be independent/solo christians by calling them Charasmaverics.

    I would agree that it is a ridiculous notion, but it is a key principal of the SGM program. In truth Christ is sufficient, in SGM, Christ is simply the groundwork for the role & work of the church. Unless I missed something, and I may have, I do not think that Kris would agree with SGM on this principal.

    It is the man centered approach of SGM that leaves many people spiritually weak once they have departed SGM. Many mistake God for the manipulations, men, programs, and publications of SGM, and once they are gone, there is not much left for the survivors.

  • Muckraker

    I will never forget the first days after leaving SGM…to feel the weight lift off of me…I had been under the heavy burden of legalism…

    And I will never forget the day, a few years later, when I heard that that CJ had blackmailed Larry T. way back then and a number of the leaders knew about it all these years….

    But this is my hope, “In Christ Alone (I Stand)

  • Persona

    Unassimilated 13

    I agree with you that all those pastors teach and practice all the things Kris mentions. J. Loftness even wrote his own curriculum called, “How People Change”, that focused on public confession and left out the Holy Spirit as the primary agent of change. This may be the curriculum J. lee and C. Megorden are using in their series at CLC. The title of their series is the same name, anyway. CLC put a HUGE amount of weight on confessing your sin to one another. They even train the new members to come into their new groups and say, “Hello, I am ___, and I want your help to change ____. ” One pastor even told me one time that he actually forgets to confess his sins to God because he is so focused on confessing his sin to his accountablity partner! If this isn’t the skewed Christian life I don’t know what is.

    Loftness did mention the HS as an afterthought, toward the end of his teaching series, as people were packing up to leave but, that was not what he focused on. Too bad, change simply won’t happen without the HS being central.

    And, when John corralled the small groups together for this “How People Change’ seminar, the break-out groups were a big flop. The group I was in even mocked people as they confessed sins, intimating they weren’t digging deep enough. I got the strong impression that public confession possibly invites bullying and oppression. It certainly tempts immature saints.

    Another thing, has anyone noticed how frequently current members of sgm church scold commenters on this site? Scolding is another thing they teach you at the sgm church I was in. Nit-picking and scolding and upbraiding people was very common.

  • Bridget

    Jimmy –

    Where does Jesus put such importance on the role of the local church in scripture? The people are the Church. The local bodies are the results of the work of God through his Son. Scripture does not say that sanctification comes only by belonging to a local church. Sanctification comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and being a doer of the Word, not hearing only. But when was the last time you heard anyone speak of the role of the Holy Spirit in SGM. According to CJ you need the pastor preaching the Word to you for sanctification. There was no Word to preach from during the time of he NT. Jesus told his disciples that he would send the HS and they would be empowered. The Holy Spirit was to be their Helper. Did God give us new instructions regarding the Holy Spirit?

  • Saint Elsewhere

    @5 years #1 – You said, “Folks I knew at CCEF who told me that they saw it all and could not send anybody to SGM. Finding out that Ken Sande saw it all and CJ would not listen to him.” – Maybe everyone else has heard this before, but I have never heard it. Do you know this personally, or was this information discovered some time ago and I missed it? The reason I ask is partly becasue I have wondered if the Biblical Counseling folks had noticed anything…

    @Unassimilated #13 – I think that if you were to try and corner those guys about whether the sanctification process was impossible without fellowship or if it was just a “means of grace” to help it along that they’d choose the latter. The irony of course is that the whole problem we are seeing at SGM is that CJ dodged fellowship re: Larry and Brent and that the SGM board doesn’t want the benefit of fellowship when it comes to their own little world. So in a sense, we all agree that they need the light of day and the voices of others to keep them accountable. We just don’t want anyone to say that somehow the grace of God only flows to us, His children, in circumstances that seem to be under the control of others. because of course God’s grace flows to us abundantly in many, many ways. (Sorry, I’ll stop now! :P )

  • Roadwork

    Ahem… Jimmy: May I offer the following quotes from Why Small Groups: Together Towards Maturity?

    It starts on Page 3

    What Sanctification is – and Is Not
    Theologian Wayne Grudem provides a fine, concise definition of this critical doctrine: “Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.” That’s the goal of the Christian life, isn’t it? Increasing from sin and increasing resemblance to Jesus. Small groups provide an ideal context for this to occur.

    Not every small group is intent on this purpose, however. Some put a higher priority on socializing than on sanctification. Others excel in open sharing and sympathetic listening, yet they never confront sin or challenge members to change.

    This is unacceptable. A group with a less-than-biblical purpose can do more harm than good. Groups that meet without the biblical purpose of pursuing character development have the tendency to reinforce, rather than confront, the sin and selfishness already present in us. None of us needs such reinforcement. Instead, we need to be challenged by others so we can grow in spiritual maturity, for the glory of God.

    A shot over the bow – Any small group that meets together for anything other than the express purpose of sanctification is unacceptable – not biblical. The bible study you attended at your old church wasn’t biblical.

    From Page 5:

    Don’t Try This Alone
    Although one’s personal responsibilities for sanctification is 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’ve taken a torpedo below the water line – Sanctification cannot take place in any context other than the local church.

    From Page 6:

    There is a common yet false supposition among Christians that practicing the spiritual disciplines (prayer, memorizing and meditating on Scripture, fasting, confession of sin, etc.) is sufficient to maintain spiritual growth. But as vital as these practices are, they are not sufficient.
    Small Groups provide the encouragement, correction, and accountability that are necessary to keep us from drifting.

    Now you’re taking on water. What you’re doing isn’t enough. It must be accompanied by works – the works of attending your biblical small group for the express purpose of sanctification. The Gospel has just been added to.

    From Page 9:

    Simply reading your bible and listening to good preaching won’t make you more like Jesus.

    You’re sunk unless you attend your local church’s small group for the express purpose of sanctification.

    And it gets worse if you keep reading. Rescue is not possible unless you forsake all others so that you can commit yourself fully to attending every small group meeting.

  • Ellie

    Izze, #5 – great post! I wouldn’t have worked when my kids were little, but that would’ve been my choice, but everything else – :clap :clap :clap

    Roadwork – #9 = what an excellent analogy!!

  • Unassimilated


    I recall the Loftness seminar. I did not find it helpful in any way.


    Yep, no sanctification without the SGM church. It explains why they become so concerned for ones ‘salvation’ when you desire to leave. in the SGM eyes, you are not only rejecting your God ordained leaders, but you are also abandoning the ‘biblicaly’ prescribed means in which you are to be sanctified. Everyone ‘knows’ that sanctification really does not happen at a decent rate or depth to amount to anything outside SGM.

    Interesting to note that on one occasion, when I pressed Corby M for details on where
    the Holy Spirit fit into all of this, his reply was that the desire to attend, participate, and obey was the work of the Holy Spirit. He got a big grumpy face when I asked how one differentiates the Holy Spirit from peer pressure and mass conformity at CLC.

    He abruptly quipped that we are to believe the best, and that even the desire to appear righteous comes from the Holy Sprit.

    That’s when I got a grumpy face.

  • Deuteronomy 32:35

    How difficult it is to watch when someone stands to defend what is defenseless…the next defense that might be offered is; “Well my pastors have never done anything to hurt me, so I have no problem with SGM”…how nice for you…that would be a valid answer if only the scriptures didn’t teach that “when one member suffers we all suffer”…or that we are to “bear one anothers burdens”…but you can’t bear someone’s burdens, or suffer with them when there is a gag order in effect to cover up pastoral miscarriages…you can’t help when serious problems that arise between church members or between church members and their pastors when MT18 is routinely misintepreted and not applied at all…”take it to the church” means precisley what it says…take it to the church…let the church decide…oh but they in the pews…the “laity”…word makes my blood boil…the laity are too stupid to judge such issues…

    If everything were being done in an orderly and honorable fashion…why would there be such a need for all the secrecy (which the internet blows up of course but still they try)…if it can’t stand the light of day…something is VERY WRONG…

    Even if you want to ignore the terrible details of the worst cases on the blogs…as a current SGM member you must ask your self why it is that what is supposed to be a Christian organization has generated so much animosity towards itself…dismiss some of what you may think are some of the less substantive accusations if you will…the question still remains…is there a contemporary scenario like this that any of us know about? Have other evangelical movements or denominations generated this kind of deep antipathy towards themselves? Maybe there are more current examples but I don’t know of them…maybe it would have been worse for Jimmie Swaggert and (who was the guy who led “Praise the Lord” ministries on TV?) Maybe if blogs had existed then in the late 80’s all hell would have broke loose about what he and Tammy Faye were doing…

    So dismiss some, but you can’t dismiss it all…where there IS smoke there IS fire…if you have any sense of justice…yes justice despite SGM teaching God is a God of justice…you MUST be asking serious questions of your leaders and of yourself about all of this…three blogs now dedicated to diagnosing SGM issues…a summer “cattle call” at the PC to even try and get their arms around all of the issues and trouble (I know not really meaningful but it LOOKED good)…what evangelical church has ever had to stage such an event? Now 16 churches who have publicly affirmed much of what has been said critically about SGM polity and leadership…oh I forgot…that’s right…they are devisive and rebellious and they MUST BE ROOTED OUT…must be in the book of Maccabees…haven’t seen that Biblical directive before…C’mon Man!!! Get your wits about you…I really had to control myself there…much better analogy available but “no coarse jesting”… :bang

  • Unassimilated

    Saint Elsewhere –

    My #20

    Also, I did corner them as best I could without causing too much trouble for me and my family. They would say that sanctification was not impossible, yet is was practically ineffective to be a solo christian. They would then point to Paul as a one and a billion exception, not the rule.

    Did you catch their switch??

    I was never inquiring about a solo christian existence.

    Iron sharpens iron, and yet, to replace meaningful friendships, relationships, and group studies with ridged inward curriculum, list, agendas, and a one size fits all template seemed to be a pendulum swing into the opposite sides of grace and personal relationship with the savior.

    To assign groups, and claim complete compatibility based on solely the common purpose
    & goal of sanctification, is to ignore human intellect & friendships. Yet is was intentionally done that way to keep us isolated from those that may ‘reinforce’ our sin and tenancies towards heresy.

    Overprotective, ill-informed, or just a control tactic. Manipulation has many faces IMO.

    If you can’t live and grow without them, guess you can never leave.

  • Deuteronomy32:35

    This is getting fun…can’t believe we have all forgotten the “three trees” system of sanctification!!! The three trees…ala CCEF…it’s a beautiful thing man!! Who needs Jesus? I can sit down and diagnose my own sin thank you with the help of my brothers and sisters…we can nail it down and trace it’s history better than!! We can even white-board it and use ourselves as examples to abuse ourselves and mortify those root causes…even came with a three ring binder ’cause ya know your gonna need a lot of three trees charts baby!!! Your a MESS!!!

    I’m sorry guys…must be TGIF…promise I’m not blogging from happy hour at AppleBees…

    Also, in the mix of helping people with truly tragic events that took place as a result of their SGM experience…I would never minimize those by being simply silly…but we can’t forget “That the joy of the Lord is my strength”…we SHOULD be the happiest people on earth…we should have more fun legally because we know we have no abiding place here…and that this is not THE END…Jim Morrison wrote a book entitled, “No One Gets Out of Here Alive”…but We do…tell someone who don’t know it yet…it is true that in due time that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…we are being prepared…

  • Unassimilated

    “promise I’m not blogging from happy hour at AppleBees…”


    No judgement here if you were, I would have to confess that I might be envious of you if you were. Better than how Eric Simmons sees you…

    I’m also concerned because at this point in time, we are at the pinnacle of the Information Age. You can in an instant find tons of information on any subject you want on Google. Do you realize that Google allows you to be one step away from a lot of heresies?

    There are a lot of heretics out there with a lot of false teachings that have blogs. And it’s phenomenal to me in our age now, that what is represented on the Internet is now seen as fact, and authority, and truth! And the reality? Most of these guys who are writing blogs are 24-year-old guys living in their moms’ basement, sitting there in their underwear! That’s what they’re doing! They’ve got a robe on, and they’re just typing away. And they’re typing away their false teaching, which is honestly a bunch of garbage.

    It’s an oldie but a goodie, and born from the same fear-mongering perspective that authored “Why Small Groups.” Its a bad world out there, come in, shut the door, forget the world, SGM is here now. There there now…shhhh.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    The exposure of SGM’s problems has STRENGTHENED my faith.

    I’ve sat back for YEARS and watched SGM and those like them look down their noses at Christian outsiders for not doing things “their way.” I’ve been estranged from family members and friends. I’ve been made to feel like a “second rate” Christian – many times feeling terribly stupid. I’ve observed countless kids and women suffer under authoritarianism – some of those kids turned from the faith. I’ve observed more condemnation, manipulation, and control issues among “men of God” than I have EVER observed within any other group – more narcissists, too (in fact, I had my first exposure to a bonafide narcissist). And I’ve NEVER met a group so messed up when it comes to marriage, sex, and raising kids.

    For years I prayed and cried, pleading for God to do something, wondering if God was listening, wondering if God even cared. When I was at an all time low, I discovered Kris’s little blog, and the rest is history.

    God heard. God cared.

  • Wasabi

    Kris said:

    If you’re finding that your faith is being shaken these days, there’s a good possibility that you may have been putting your faith in the wrong thing.

    IMO this is the primary cause for the SGM house of cards finally coming down, not polity. SGM passively promotes this idolatry by continuously reinforcing SGM culture. When sheeple are repeatedly taught the importance of conformity, far over the importance of pursuing God and His glory, how can a new believer not help but equate conformity with sanctification? It is just too easy for me to connect the dots between Christ’s disdain for the pharisaic laws and His hand in the inevitable collapse of SGM’s current doctrine and structure. He does not tolerate idols.
    Over time the SGM indoctrination becomes an addiction. And just like any other addiction, the hardest step is admitting we have one. The longer we stay in, the harder it is to acknowledge we are/were deceived. Then once we break free of the SGM bondage, we’re temped to rebound with “shipwrecked faith”, anger at being controlled, anger at being deceived, anger at squelching the Holy Spirit’s voice within us. That anger is too often mistaken for “bitterness” by critics of this blog.
    To those struggling with their Christian walk because of SGM’s distorted culture: Kris is spot on when she reminds us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. Accept no substitute; His refreshing living water will satisfy your parched spirit!

  • glad i am out

    Skipped a few posts to post this so do not know what else was said regarding sanctification, and whether or not membership in a local church body is necessary to achieve it, or whether is it necessary to be saved…

    I have two favorite passages from scripture that free me more than any others, and let me know more than any other, of the heart of my heavenly father, and his love for me…

    The prodigal son and the thief on the cross…

    Let’s talk about the thief. He had a conversation that lasted only moments w/ Jesus… he did not confess his sins, get baptized, was not a member of an sgm church, did not ask a care group leader if it was ok to move to another town, had no chance to walk through sanctification, yet Jesus looked upon his heart and invited him to dinner in paradise that very day…

    End of discussion.

  • glad i am out

    Having just read Roadwork’s quotes from the book “why small groups?,” i will add that SGM’s position on the importance of care groups to create an environment where sanctification can occur really just creates a HUGE boiling cauldron for the marination of legalism….

    Did anyone ever hear of the Holy Spirit? I think i remember once learning that he was to lead us through the process of sanctification, not my arrogant care group leader who is power hungry, eager to please a pastor, and spying on me, and sharing my confidences…

    I think i will just do it the Holy Spirit’s way, he knows what he is doing…

  • Unassimilated

    Wasabi –

    When Jesus prayed for his disciples, he stated, in John 17,

    My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

    Yet that is opposed to the SGM system of sanctification. SGM takes you out of the world, and places you into a man made sanctification process that is man centered rather than Christ centered. So if by indoctrination, you would include this SGM practice of sanctification, then yes. As you say, an addiction is born, for me I see it as an unhealthy co-dependancy.

    If sanctification does not exist apart from the SGM way, you have to stay. When that method of sanctification is based on the preferences and prescripts of man, your not
    really following Christ, rather an expression of their interpretation of Christ.
    I call it a false gospel. They may be able to line up their claims with scriptures, but their practice is opposed to the words of Jesus. Hmmm

    What church, other than non-christian cults, would discourage group bible studies?!?

    Scripture tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Yet that word is not trusted to be freely read and shared in a group context in SGM.

    I would submit that for many in SGM, their faith is in the system, rather than the savior. So once separated from that system, where is ones salvation? Crisis will ensue for many.

    @ Kindred – The recent events have been encouraging and helpful to me as well. Its been a rough couple of years for me, but fortunately I had a faith and relationship with Jesus prior to SGM. As we have discussed on this board before, it is a much rougher road for those that came to faith in the SGM system.

  • Unassimilated

    glad i am out – Your #27

    SGM would say to you, was that really Gods best for him? How much more would the thief have accomplished for the kingdom, how much more would God be glorified, how much more grace could he have attracted, how much more reward would he have in heaven, had the thief plugged into a good church and lived his life in accordance to the teachings of his God ordained Pharacies, leaders?

    Too much grace in the example of the thief. Not good for building international cell groups a family of churches either.

  • glad i am out

    I had never read the book Why Small Groups… i found most of the church assigned reading to be a waste… But, now considering some of what it says, I feel like barfing my freaking guts out!! I really really do…

    What heresy, what blasphemy, what a works-oriented-Jesus-denying pile of pig crap!!!

    Look folks, i have already confessed on this blog that i am not good at holding my tongue, that i am a loose cannon sometimes with my emotions, and i will never do this – seriously, never, so do not think so..; But when i hear some of this stuff, i want to see SGM churches burn to the ground (w/no people inside, of course). If stuff like this is taught, and i know it was, and possibly still is, because i was there for 20 years, i just want to see the end of SGM…

    Now one SGM pastor told me a few years ago i was not saved…

    You know how i know i am, besides that i know that i know….? read two posts up, about the thief on the cross, that is me, and i weep bitter tears, happy tears, all kinds of tears, every time i share that story, or even think of it…

    That is the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me… He is the one who leads me thru the process of sanctification… How DARE they say, reading the bible and listening to sermons isn’t enough!!! It may not be, but care groups are not necessarily the answer – God knows our heart, he is the author and perfecter… Not the author of that crappy heretical book, that once i was probably required to buy!!!

  • Thank you all for your comments and what you have shared. I’ve been out most of the day and haven’t had the opportunity to reply to anything, but I hope to catch up later.

    Just a quick note to Jimmy – if you go to the post I linked to (the one called “Survivors Rewind: Revisiting Why Small Groups?), you will find a link to a free download of Why Small Groups? You can read it and see for yourself that CJ and his collaborators do indeed indicate that sanctification cannot happen apart from doing small groups precisely the SGM way. And before asserting that, they also establish that sanctification is a vital indicator of salvation – that without sanctification, it’s doubtful that one is even saved.

    Roadwork already did a GREAT job of culling the key quotes for you, but if you haven’t done so, you really ought to read Why Small Groups? for yourself.

  • Brent responded to additional questions.

    READER QUESTION: for Brent Detwiler, if it is not too late:

    Brent discusses SGM’s “reasserting its commitment to apostolic ministry,” in his Cotton Candy post, concluding with the statement, “So if you don’t believe in apostles, it is time to get out of your SGM church.”

    Does this paragraph regard SGM’s disingenuous replacement of the term “apostle,” or does it regarding their practice of “apostolic” leadership and authority?

    BRENT’S RESPONSE: My meaning was, “It’s time to get out of SGM if you don’t believe in apostles” as a matter of biblical conviction. But it is also true that it’s time to get out if you believe SGM apostles abuse their leadership and authority. Moreover, as you point out; the “disingenuous replacement of the term ‘apostle’” is another example of deceit and reason to leave. C.J. needs to come out and say he is the senior apostle. The spiritual leader of his movement.

    READER QUESTION: If towards the practice of apostolic leadership, has Brent’s opinion regarding this type of leadership and position in the church changed over the years since he himself was practicing apostolic leadership and authority in SGM? I am not intending to be critical if his perspective has changed (I would celebrate it), but mostly I am curious as to his thought process. I remember the days when the role of the importance of the “office of apostle” in the church was much proclaimed in PDI.

    BRENT’S RESPONSE: I still believe in “apostolic leadership and authority” just like I believe in pastoral leadership and authority. Both are biblical. Both can be abused. Every church should have godly apostles and shepherds (i.e., pastors, Gr. poimen) but not false ones or untrustworthy ones. Truth and Christian character are the dividing line.

    We started a magazine in September, 1983. For the first two issues, it was called Christian Destiny Magazine. The first issue was titled, “Restoration of the Church: Are You a Pioneer or a Settler?” (Sept/Oct ’83). The second issue, “Evangelism as a Lifestyle” (Nov/Dec ’83).

    With the third issue, the name of the magazine changed to People of Destiny Magazine. The topic, “Apostolic Team Ministry” (Jan/Feb ’84). Those were the good old days. The team was comprised of Larry, CJ, Brent, Bill Galbraith, Steve Shank, Che Ahn and Dick Wolohan. Through the years, everyone but Steve left over, or with, concerns for C.J.

    I wrote a lead article in that issue entitled, “20th Century Apostles – They’re As Necessary Today As They Were 2,000 Years Ago.” That was 28 years ago and I was 30. I fully believe today what I wrote then. My understanding of Scripture on the subject has not changed. I still believe what Larry T. wrote on page 2, “Apostles and Prophets: Past History or Present Reality?” (see attached)

    In my article, which was mostly an apologetic for apostles, I said, “Like overseers and elders, an apostle also had to be a man above reproach in his personal life and relationship with others (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). He was a man sent forth from a proven base of ministry where he had been responsible for building the church locally (Acts 11:25-26; 1 Cor 9:1-3).”

    Apostolic ministry only works (and can only be trusted) when men are above reproach. This is the problem with Sovereign Grace Ministries today. It is full of compromise at the highest levels. Men cannot be trusted. They are not above reproach. In the old days, we had to be “sent forth from a proven base of ministry.” In C.J.’s case, he left Covenant Life Church in a huff, never consulting with his pastors or asking for their blessing. Furthermore, the Sovereign Grace Board counseled this action by C.J. without talking to CLC pastors. It’s a different day. A sad day.

    The fourth issue of People of Destiny Magazine was “Becoming a Prophetic People” (Mar/Apr ’84). As Larry said, “The prophet is not just some electrifying preacher or ‘weird-acting’ opponent of sin; he is a submitted [i.e. working with apostles] and anointer seer who brings necessary revelation [e.g. keen discernment] and insight to keep the house of God pure and on the right track.” C.J. does not have any prophets. They’ve all been slaughtered. He does have blogs.

  • Roadwork

    They haven’t all been slaughtered. Some are hangin’ out over at Obadiah’s place.

  • Bridget

    Roadwork –

    I agree. They’re still around, but the leaders are not seeking them out. When they do speak out, most leaders do not listen to them.

  • Wallace

    Here is a brief update regarding the leadership at the SGM Fairfax church:

    In November 2011 we gave our story to Ted Kober from AoR in an effort to receive help in reconciling with Pastor Lou Gallo. However, Senior Pastor Mark Mullery and his staff rejected the offer from AoR to intervene.

    During my communication with AoR, they said they were receiving this type of response “across the board” with SGM leadership.

    It is interesting to note that Mark Mullery would challenge the SGM board without first dealing properly with sex abuse issues in his own church.

    For those new to the blog, our story, (Wallace’s Story) can be found in Kris’ above post under “seeming to take the side of the perpetrator.”

  • Wallace,

    Thanks for the update, although I’m sorry to hear things didn’t go differently.

  • Happymom

    Fairfax’s refusal to meet with AoR is quite an interesting contrast to their Weep-fest Family meeting, July 2011. If expressing true sorrow was their goal why weren’t the victims and families invited? Because their goal was to clear themselves and twist the facts.

    They’ll come to the table with SGM pastors, (J. Britt) they’ll come to the table with an SGM paid, peace-maker trained mediator, but turn down AoR.

  • Uriah

    Prophets are still very much alive and well. Many live in caves, sort of speak, but come out when God calls them. True prophets do not need to be publicly recognized as prophets in order to be taken seriously. If they are true prophets, the “words” they speak to leaders and to the church will not fall to ground but will accomplish what they were sent to do. They carry the concern and well being of the church on their heart continually and with unrelenting passion. They are fearless, uncompromising, and say things that others would not dream of saying. The church is the better for their ministry. Most will receive their reward in heaven, for in this life they are generally counted as crazy by the world and often “the troubler of Israel” by the church.

  • Philly Girl

    Until I heard about these blogs, I had no idea there were all these problems in SGM. What I read here, I can’t believe I was so blind. And to think of all the people in our caregroup, how many have I hurt in their faith. I have blocked alot out and don’t really remember timelines. When we first went to CFC, it was after being in a church with adultery in the pulpit and the pews. I do remember telling Bill and Alan (pastors at CFC) I didn’t trust them. They listened and prayed with us. They also told us that CFC was a charismatic church looking for college educated young professionals. In a few years, we were asked to be caregroup leaders. No idea why, but we were faithful. We believed what they taught. We were taught alot of attitudes from the church, but not directly from the pulpit on Sunday. All those reports, after all, the pastors needed to know what was going on as they were responsible before God. We were simply unpaid pastors. Oh Lord, forgive us. And then it happened. Renewals in Toronto and Brownsville, and churches coming together in Philly. Yeah, I remember a monsignor spraying holy water and worshiping Jesus while walking down the center aisle of a RC church. The nun playing the keyboard fell out in the Holy Spirit. I remember Dave and Kimm being prayed for in Philly and flat on the floor. Those were the days! Then it was shut down. If these guys are so controlling as I read here, no wonder the Holy Spirit was shut out. Silly boys, you can’t control God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. We were told that it would be gossip to talk to anyone so we moved away. Couldn’t continue to live in an SGM neighborhood, being stopped in the supermarket by a member. I was told that I hid my sin well, as they were all shocked when we were thrown out. I didn’t know we were! Our problem was that we addressed a sin issue with Dave, the Sr. pastor. He didn’t respond to us at all until we met with Joe, who brought in Dave and Dave told us it was our sin for thinking he had sinned. To this day, I don’t like tulips, stay out of the Epistles and read the Gospels. How’s that for rebellion? Where are we now? Tried several churches and can’t handle family businesses or fluffy feel good messages. In the last 10 years, we have only been invited to church by a friend, who is gay. Who knew, a gay guy who cares for the faith of a straight couple! We still haven’t been to church and really don’t miss the politics. If I want politics, I can watch Fox News! OK, I’m done for now. :mic Kris, whomever you are, keep up the great work you are doing to help all of us. Be blessed!

  • radicallysaved

    Kris – interesting post…thank you once again.

    I must admit I am addicted to your blog – your insights are uncanny, many folks posting here I have grown to respect and admire….well, also I have prayed for and wept for….

    I don’t post much, but I read almost daily. This question you ask about Faith being shaken, well, I must admit that while my faith in Jesus, salvation, and my eternal destiny has not been shaken, the question of “how am I to walk out my Christian life in this temporal body and world” has been, if not shaken, well at least…doubts and regrets have been hounding me.

    Small examples – I was a parent who had many “spanking rods” in multiple locations, so that I could “serve” my children by addressing sin “immediately” without delay, so no black cloud of a future discipline would hover over them….I look back and have regrets, if not serious questions, about how much we spanked…but at the same time today, I do believe in what the bible says “Spare the rod spoil the child”…So I am , though not shaken, at least….conflicted.

    I also felt the ecstasy of confessing sin on an incredibly deep level (from my perspective) with my care group, confessing adulterous thoughts, agreeing wholeheartedly that men and women needed to be seperated bi-monthly so “Men could discuss our twisted sick lust of women”…those were heady days when my sanctificationn was in seeming overdrive….I have moved on now, out of SGM, but yes a part of me cannot shake the feeling that I have become a “soft” christian, that my greatest growth came during my times in an SGM church…dare I say, that reading the Q&A from Brent, that I have a “little bit of Brent in me”…That is, as I am no longer at SGM, there still is a questioning in my soul that the glory days of SGM still produced the “greatest fruit” in my chrsitian walk to date?? I think that is the crux of what you have heard in private emails, not so much a questioning of faith and salvation, but rather a “doubt” or struggle that “Am I Missing the boat on sanctification, am I not growing as much as I should, or could be, by leaving SGM and going to an “ordinary” church….count me in the conflicted group….

    May God show us how to live, how to share, hoe to love….and yes I think the bible says lots about God showing us…if only SGM had allowed us to read and discuss the bible….

  • BeenThere

    Hello all, I have posted here before but stepped back for a little while. I don’t have an SGM experience, but I do have experience with abusive church atmospheres, and I enjoy reading how people are overcoming this issue in their own lives and experiences. I haven’t kept up with a lot of your threads, but I skimmed through the last one and this one, and it seems on these you’ve really been spot on when it comes to the issues surrounding an abusive church experience. I’ve been in both IFB and Charismatic circles where abuse has occurred, and reading through many of your SGM experiences has confirmed for me that the main ingredients that cross all doctrinal and denominational lines is Shepherding and Legalism. You keep the people under control through Shepherding, and you make them feel like they need to be controlled through legalism. These go hand in hand. However I must also add that I found in my own experience that this is a two-way street. There is a draw and an attraction to this kind of system. Legalism is attractive because it is a system that we can see and hear with our natural senses. Rather than having to seek God for ourselves we can be told what is right and wrong from a man. The line I’ve used is that it is easier to work a system than develop a relationship. Coming out of this kind of system is tough, and it takes years to detox. There is a feeling of guilt that you really aren’t living the Christian life right unless you’re going through all the machinations and man-imposed responsibilities that you’ve been used to.

    Trusting God and developing a personal relationship directly with him is a scary thing at first when you haven’t been used to it. I think if we’re being real and honest, there were times when we may have have manipulated the legalist system we were win for our own gain when we saw the opportunity. But when you’re face to face with God there is no manipulation that works. He knows your deepest thoughts, attitudes, and motives. He drills down between joints and marrow and the innermost places, and that is a very vulnerable feeling. But yet where our sin abounds, God’s grace even more abounds. That’s the real benefit. Yes it is harder to come face to face with God, and yes more of our deepest sin is exposed, but unlike man-made systems God can and does provide real grace that causes us to not to just feel better about our sin condition but actually provides the means to overcome it and grow in true sanctification. Colossians 2:20-23 talk about how legalist systems have an appearance of doing some good, but they are actually worthless.

    I had a couple of other thoughts on the different topics on this thread so I’ll break them up in other posts.

  • BeenThere

    I’ve seen where some of you have been really disappointed that various ministers who’ve had associations with CJ and SGM have not seen through what is happening and called some things out. I think part of the problem is that ministers have a blind spot when it comes to other ministers. In the Charismatic church I was in there was a couple that came to minister a few times a year who were great people, and who taught against church abuse. They were known to be very discerning, but yet they couldn’t see what was happening within our church. This couple had friendships with some of the people in our church going back years even before they started attending this particular church. And when these people started experiencing some of the abuse they went to this ministering couple. EVEN THEN this ministerial couple sided with the pastors and still could not see (or would not see) what was going on.

    I think there’s probably several reasons why ministers have this kind of blind spot. One reason is probably all ministers have experienced being called abusive at some point and time, and so they are quick to take a minister or pastor’s side on this issue. I think ministers and pastors in particular view themselves as a kind of fraternity with a common set of experiences and struggles with a lot of those challenges and struggles coming from dealing with people in their church. And we have all been in churches where we’ve seen pastors being given a hard time by different parishioners who are just hard to work with and deal with.

    So while I personally wish a lot of these pastors would see through more of a lot that goes on not just in SGM, but in a lot of other churches; I tend to cut them some degree of slack because I know that this is a blind spot that is currently shared by a lot of ministers today.

  • QE2

    As recently as a few months ago,(local SGM church, January, perhaps?) we were told during a message that we were not to forsake meeting together, and while the scripture did not actually say that meant small groups, it meant small groups!

    So the teaching is still alive and well.

    As far as the Holy Spirit-well, he’s the helper. And we all know that the helper, whether we mean female or Holy Spirit, is a second class citizen whose main role/job description, is to submit.

  • Acme

    Wallace and Happymom, I am so sorry.

    I still believe the essentials: the Nicene Creed list and Jesus’ red letters. I reject almost everything else from my SGM days and find gungho anything disturbing–sometimes laughable, sometimes pitiful, sometimes crazy making.

    The benefit of having been here and in refuge so long is that I can read what I wrote earlier and marvel at the journey.

  • Sick With Worry

    Kris – your last post on “why good men go bad” was very insightful. These are Godfather-like tactics, but I think only CJ, Diamond Dave and a couple others intended for it to be this way. Perhaps CJ himself is not smart enough to design it this way, but Dave was always the smart one. I like the fact that you call them “good”, because I believe that these are mostly decent men that have allowed themselves to be stupid. I will not understand why, but I guess they find a sense of fulfillment.

    BTW – My faith is not shaken – but I am disappointed and worried that so many people, including pastors, will not reach their full potential.

  • Sick With Worry

    OK – totally random thought, but are there any “Little House on the Prairie” fans out there? Remember the episode where in an attempt to boost revenue, the Olsons hire a consultant that turns the restaurant into a franchise? They think it is a great idea, until they realize the details in the contract keep them from cooking the meals that the townsfolk love, and remove any and all creativity from the “process”? I think the episode is called “The Wave of the Future”. Anyway – I think it compares to some of the SGM takeovers of existing churches. It just hit me in the shower this morning because my kids were recently watching that episode.

  • facedown2000

    @radicallysaved #41:

    I think it’s okay to be conflicted. As you say, the Bible condones spanking, although it doesn’t specify how often or for which violations. The problem occurs when a Biblical tool is promoted to exclusivity. Spanking is a tool, but it’s not the only tool, and the atmosphere at many SGM churches promotes a “reduction to one practice,” as was discussed at that fateful CLC meeting almost a year ago. If you don’t look like everyone else, you are pressured (directly or indirectly) to conform.

    I think the same goes for small groups. Certainly most folks here would be okay with occasionally discussing sin at a small group meeting. There are many good suggestions in “Why Small Groups?” and even though we’re out of SGM, I still recommend it, particularly for churches where sin is never discussed at all (or is only ever mentioned generally). Why? Because “faithful are the wounds of a friend” and I want my friends to help me on my way to heaven. Confession is a biblical tool, but practically it’s difficult to incorporate confession in a Sunday meeting. God is dishonored, though, when the *only* thing discussed at small groups is sin — again the whole “reducing to one practice” thing.

    I was in several small groups while involved in SGM, and for the some of them, I felt like the “sin-sniffing” attitude was pervasive. But there were several groups where this wasn’t the case, where the main point was worshiping God by studying scripture, singing, and praying. Those meetings were blessed times.

    As I’ve thought about leaving SGM, I think there’s a temptation to treat everything we learned as suspect. But I’ve realized that to do so would be akin to “cutting of my nose to spite my face.” Instead, I’ve tried to take a nuanced approach: stand against the bad stuff, without disregarding the good teachings. Inasmuch as anything I learned from SGM was biblical, it would be a bad idea to ignore those principles. It’s easy to write off the entire movement, and perhaps those who have never been involved would be wise to do just that. But since I spent a significant amount of time in SGM, I am finding it helpful to dig in to scripture and try to determine what God was really teaching me during that time. Personally, I’m trying to keep the stuff that I find to be biblical while getting rid of the un-biblical principles and emphases.

  • facedown2000

    One other thing: ad hominem works both ways. Just because a total jerk says 2+2 = 4, it does not make this statement false. While have very little respect for CJ at this point, it would be logically inconsistent to propose that all of his collected sermons, writings, etc. were false.

  • CLCya

    (Formerly CLCerNow)Unfortunately, my faith WAS shaken last summer. I bought into the “dearest/best place on earth” and thought I would never leave. One person told me, “You’ve given your life to this church.” I realized then that I had given the church way too much time…and over my family. Church had become an idol for me, big time, and had turned into a popularity contest of sorts. I’ve got to admit, that for the first six months or so, my passion for the Lord waned. I turned the radio station when I came to a Christian station. I had absolutely no desire to go to church. It’s like I invested a lot of money and time into buying what I thought was a masterpiece only to find out that it’s counterfeit! I was investing in CLC/SGM, not Jesus. I am glad God yanked me out of there and revealed how my loyalties were misplaced. I am just now starting to truly worship again. It’s a process, for sure, and I’ve got a long way to go.

    I know of someone who left who is now embracing a “false” gospel. People coming out are extremely vulnerable with their “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Understandably! It’s a real shame the spiritual damage that has been done. I weep for people (ExCLCer and others) who have been abused by so-called Christians.

    I just finished reading “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by Johnson and Van Vonderen. I highly recommend it! There is a section toward the end entitled “Post-Abuse Recovery.” One of the chapters, “Recovering Right Focus”, says:

    …it is imperative to refocus the victims of spiritual abuse on the truth about God and his “good news.” For this reason we offer a list of “reminders,” from the heart of God as follows:

    God love us a great deal…
    He is extravagant with His grace…
    He makes us stand…
    He can be trusted…
    We have been made entirely new…
    We have been handpicked…
    We are blameless in his sight…
    What is His is already ours…
    God is not keeping track…
    He doesn’t have a problem with our struggles and pain…
    We don’t need to improve on what He’s done…
    When we fail, Jesus defends us…

    CLC is pretty much all I knew as a Christian (until seven months ago), so a lot of things need to be unlearned and relearned. I’ve said that everyone in SGM needs to be rewired. I am looking forward to being rewired myself and experiencing what God has to teach me about what real, normal Christianity looks like. Bring it on!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Post 195 at Refuge, SGM Board Response to the 16 SGM churches who wrote about rushing the new board.

    Wallace and HappyMom- sorry, but not surprised.

  • Ozymandias

    Here’s a copy of the SGM response letter, via public Dropbox folder.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I’m right there with those of you who have shared your disappointment with today’s pastors.

    Much of it is my fault, as 5yearsinPDI shares in her #1…

    I thought I would broaden your concern a little bit in case anybody else, like me, has been shaken not so much by SGM itself but by the celebrity preachers of the Gospel Coalition shacking up with CJ. I think I have worked it through over the years, but although I did not put my faith in SGM leaders, I certainly put other men on high pedestals.

    Add Doug Wilson to the list. (Not necessarily my list or 5years’s list. I personally can’t stand the guy and I doubt 5years is a fan.) Doug Wilson invited Mark Driscoll to speak at his conference last fall. Wilson appears to be like all the rest…focused on building his little fiefdom and jumping in bed with whoever can help him attain his goal.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Thanks Ozymandias and 5 years. I think that was just masterfully spun don’t you? Don’t you feel just heaps better now?

    I wonder what the next line drawn will be. The Board just spit on that one.

  • Res Ipsa

    My faith in God has not been shaken by my SGM experience or by the events of the last few months.

    My faith in myself was shaken in a huge way.

    I doubted (and continue to doubt) my ability to hear from God, my ability to choose a church and my ability to discern right from wrong in leaders. As a result, I have distanced myself from all things church in order to get back to a place where I no longer put the church and its leaders on God’s throne. It hasn’t been easy but it’s been so good.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Res Ipsa,

    Been there/done that, too.

    You’re right, it isn’t easy, but it’s good.

  • Ozymandias

    I wouldn’t say, WaitingPatiently, that the Board “spit” on the l6-church letter. As I read it, the gist seems to be — We desired affirmation of the new Board candidates so that the composition of the new Board could be announced simultaneously with the release of AoR’s report. To which the counter should simply be, Thank you, but the churches prefer to evaluate/affirm new Board candidates once the AoR report has been publicly released and its findings can be assessed.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Ah yes, then gentleman’s way of spitting. ;)

  • Roadwork

    Their response looks like a single digit salute. Can anyone guess the digit?

  • Roadwork

    Fairfax and the others should have expected this kind of response. It’s the same way regular ol’ members have been “thanked for their participation” for years.

    Except this time it was done to them.

  • Fried Fish

    @Roadwork #59 –

    At least when the AoR report come out, it won’t be an interim digit. :spin

  • Happymom


    We’re not surprised either. Fairfax has been blowing us off since we first discovered what happened to our children.

  • Former CLC'er

    facedown2000 – I agree that some of the things we learned at CLC can be helpful tools when used in moderation. As for “spare the rod, spoil the child”, I heard on New Life Clinic (a broadcast NOT recommended by SGM!) that this can apply to all types of discipline. I guess they took the verse literally and symbolically? Anyway, it made sense to me.

    As for whether my faith was shaken, I went from CLC into a more balanced evangelical church that taught me grace, and I also had a lot of growing doubts when I was at CLC, so no, my faith was not shaken then. In fact, I SO enjoyed the freedom of grace that I would spontaneously walk around with a smile on my face. What a refreshing feeling.

    However, last year I had a traumatic experience with another narcissistic pastor that did leave me reeling. It’s only God’s grace that I am now in a church that I love and am finally starting to grow and worship God again. But I frankly chose the church partly because it was a short distance from my home and I’d have a greater chance of making it there. I still do have trust issues with pastors and leadership, and I feel like I am questioning some of my beliefs, though I still believe in the core of the gospel. My relationship with the Lord is growing, but I have a hard time standing up or going up for altar calls and such where they ask us to give all for Christ. I stood up so many times in the past when I didn’t feel it, but I felt I had to. But at least my relationship with God is honest, so it can grow from wherever it is now.

  • FashionablyLate

    Res Ipsa #55–
    “My faith in myself was shaken in a huge way.

    I doubted (and continue to doubt) my ability to hear from God, my ability to choose a church and my ability to discern right from wrong in leaders.”

    I can relate to that in a big way! I have been away from SGM for a long enough time that the current events don’t really affect my relationship with God, but my experience at SGM and more so, at another very unhealthy church/cult have greatly impacted my faith that I can make good decisions, that what I’m hearing is really from God, etc, etc. I absolutely believe in God. That’s not the problem.

  • His Name is Jesus

    CLCya #50

    I also read the book, “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.” That was pretty much right before I left my SGM church (It was recommended to me by my father -in- law). There was a lot of good stuff there, and it helped to spotlight a lot of things in my own heart and life, and in things that I saw in SGM and my former church. If you ever get the chance (I am not sure if it is available), you should try to get a hold of a series by Johnson and Van Vonderen called “Ministry Burnout is Not God’s Idea.” It is very grace filled and helpful as well….

  • presbyterian

    RE:53 douglas wilson
    Douglas wilson is a little different than the others in that he is now in a denomination that has split off from the conservative Presbyterian denominations because what they are teaching is considered heretical. (Federal Vision) Some peopel in the Y&R camp were upset with Driscoll (and others) for speaking there and giving him legitimacy. He would not be welcomed in to most PCA, ARP or OPC churches. There have been many church rulings about men teaching what he teaches and many of the pastors have either left or been forced out, and then they go to the denomination he pretty much started.

  • Moved On

    @ Wallace #36
    In November 2011 we gave our story to Ted Kober from AoR in an effort to receive help in reconciling with Pastor Lou Gallo. However, Senior Pastor Mark Mullery and his staff rejected the offer from AoR to intervene.

    During my communication with AoR, they said they were receiving this type of response “across the board” with SGM leadership.

    Are you saying that senior pastors of different churches did not want to go through a reconciliation process with former members that have been abused and hurt by them??? I am so sorry for your family. It truly grieves my heart and spirit to hear this. I can’t imagine how God’s heart is breaking and how he must be weeping over this.

    My prayers to you and your family and happy mom.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    I’m sorry, but I had trouble following who the “he’s” were. Would you replace them with the name. I think they were all “Doug Wilson” but I wanted to make sure. And could you go into a little more detail? Thanks.

  • Persona

    I am not sure that Dave and CJ promised to reconcile with offended parties after the AoR examinations. Sadly, I think they only paid for interviews and a report. That was part of CJ’s slight-of-hand in offering them.

    I have a hard time believing the 16 churches will want to sign on the dotted line after viewing CJ’s inflexibility and insensitivity.

    It is sad that so many have lost their way due to their experiences in SGM churches. I myself, no longer listen to teachings or read books by any celebrity reformed teachers after seeing their blindness and in some cases, their complicity in promoting CJ and SGM.

    Our family views doctrine as less of an issue when judging the health of a church. We now look for their capacity for loving one another and sharing the Gospel. We also prefer smaller churches and, once they get too big, they should multiply.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Someone in our church was questioning their salvation after reading something by a famous Reformed writer a few weeks ago. I tried to give comfort and encouragement through scripture. Their response was that they were relieved to see another passage by the same author which sounded just the opposite of what had been read previously. This dependence on what man says, by a long term believer, no less, may be part of why SGMers find their faith shaky at times.

  • Luna Moth

    ARGGHH! As if a “famous Reformed writer” has the power to tell you if you are saved or not!!


  • Luna Moth

    And my heart does feel sympathy and concern for the ones who are made anxious by the words of a human teacher.

    But oh, don’t LET them!! Don’t LET them be bigger than Jesus and His words!

  • Luna Moth

    Sorry, just a little passion there…


    :wink: :spin

  • Ellie

    Luna – :clap :clap :clap

    (Passion for the truth is a GOOD thing.)

  • glad i am out

    Smart folks and good diggers-for-truth (most folks here, i have observed)

    Here is a question for you: has anyone ever heard this before?:

    I once heard a message by a guy i love and respect, Rob Ruffus, an australian guy, out of Hong Kong (look him up you will be glad you did), preach on the scripture “Spar the rod, spoil the child”…

    According to his studys, the “rod” has nothing to do with a “spanking stick” or w/ spanking at all.. King Solomon, like most kings, while in court, held what was called a “shabat” – With this rod he both blessed and cursed those who cam before him… Some may be given lands or other riches or other types of blessing and he would use his rod and tap that person on the shoulder (or however, i forget..) – and w/ some he would use it to send them to their executions…

    So “spare the rod spoil the child” could have something to do with ( and i am a bit fuzzy on what Rob taught s it was a while ago) actually spoiling your child by withholding blessing, or from withholding discipling, but that it did not mean spanking…

    anyone have thoughts on this…?

    I always wanted to dig into this for myself because i felt SGM’s teachings on spanking were waaaaay over the line, and basically abuse, and also, because as i spanked my own children, at one time, it was usually because they hit their sibling… I really struggled w/ spanking (hitting, to them) a child because he hit someone…

  • Junior


    This is the first time I’ve posted, so I’ll give a little background. I have scanned topics on this blog for the past year or so, but don’t read religiously – maybe catch about 50%. (Some topics are of more interest to me than others.)

    I felt compelled to post for the first time because of your description of the SGM system of training pastors, the PC experience, and the resultant bad fruit (on the “Why Good Guys Go Bad” page). Being a former student and “junior” pastor, I felt I could at least contribute my personal experience, even tho I’m sure it won’t be the same for all others.

    I am no longer in SGM. The reasons are much the same as what many have mentioned on this blog, and especially due to what you write in this post. I agree with the overall assessment – very insightful. As I read it, I found my heart responding with so much agreement that I wanted to point my friends here to give them a window into what happened to me. I had never thought through the whole journey from beginning to end in such a cohesive way. I found it very helpful.

    Some of the conclusions that are stated as “fact,” though, don’t match what I experienced. And some statements (and especially the follow-up posts) assign motives that I don’t believe are really there. I agree that much of what SGM leaders do is flawed and damaging, but I believe most of those leaders are blind to it, not doing it maliciously. They really think they’re doing the right thing.

    Of course, that doesn’t excuse them. And those receiving the most input (CJ, Dave, the Board) are least excusable. Even if they are blind, they should practice the humility they preach and listen to the many, many people who are trying to help them see their blindness. So I would conclude their main heart problems are likely pride and blindness. Not a malicious desire to make men into their own image, but into the image they blindly believe is what God has called them to mold.

    If I may, I’ll highlight the statements that do and don’t match my own experience:

    If we examine the process of becoming and remaining a pastor within SGM, it will help us understand why pastors in the SGM system – who can seem like such nice, godly guys who are sincere in their desire to serve God – can easily end up compromising their integrity. I’d even argue that because of the way the system is set up, it’s practically guaranteed that they will compromise their integrity.

    This was true for me. I like to think I saw things more clearly than my peers, but it took many years. I’m thankful I didn’t compromise on anything that was of a seriously harmful nature (but I suppose even that assessment might be challenged by a person who was affected by me in ways I am not yet aware.)

    How does one become an SGM pastor? Well, as we’ve frequently discussed, the road to a pastor’s job within SGM is one that starts by invitation only, and the invitation is issued by men who are already pastors.

    I used to view this as a good thing. I still see some merit in the idea of one’s personal sense of calling (unarguably a subjective conclusion) being affirmed by others whose callings have been already affirmed and confirmed. But if it’s all decided by Senior alone without regard to input, that’s obviously a problem. The congregation should be able to initiate – they are the ones directly experiencing a candidate’s care, counsel, gifts. The man sensing a calling should be able to initiate, too. I heard affirmation that men sensing a calling should make it known to Senior, but then only Senior gets to decide if he agrees or not. No one else even finds out that he expressed an interest and was dismissed.

    On a tangent: One thing that makes this profile more accurate than not is the relative age and maturity of the PC students. It’s my understanding that the average age of the students each year is rapidly decreasing. That says a lot – both about this subject and about the discounting of many potentially called men who are deemed “too old” to serve in SGM churches. What a tragic loss, and how could you not therefore see the results we do see. There is a LOT to be said for life experience, raising children to maturity, working in the “secular” field. We lose all of that in favor of moldability. The men in my class I most respected were those 40, 50 and +

    The invitation comes when pastors believe you to be a godly man whom people want to follow – and “godliness” within SGM is characterized primarily by SGM’s concept of humility. In SGM, “humility” is not necessarily the same as it is in the rest of Christianity, where it is characterized by self-forgetfulness and serving “the least of these.” In SGM, “humility” instead is demonstrated by submitting yourself to your leaders and by elevating your leaders through your obedience to them and through your expressions of deference to them. A key part of this is always agreeing with your leaders about their assessments of your sin.

    This was sadly true. I didn’t realize it when I started the journey (because I was really seeking to be humble!), but when I later disagreed, this truth became crystal clear. It is a no-win in the subordinate spot – either you agree with Senior (in which case you’re lauded as humble), or you’re deemed to be sinning and need his help. Though he may say he wants your help with his own sin, it doesn’t work. You (the subordinate) can’t really be more wise or discerning than your mentor, can you?

    Elevating your leaders and deferring to your leaders – as well as demonstrating in front of your leaders that people also want to follow and defer to you – will be the behaviors that cause your leaders to believe that you are humble…and thus godly.

    This deference – always agreeing with your leaders’ assessments of your sin, always speaking to them in the most respectful, honoring way, doing whatever you can to serve your leaders and lift them up through praise – is amped up to a whole other level at the Pastors College. There, you are paired up with a pastor-mentor who proceeds to make you strip spiritually naked. Your (and your wife’s) deepest darkest sins are confessed and discussed freely and openly with your pastor-mentor and his wife. Your every weakness is probed relentlessly.

    This is the only part of your profile that I didn’t agree wholeheartedly with. I suppose it depends on what church you came from. Some of the senior pastors (especially the young ones) were trained “well” by SGM and actually exceed the spiritual-stripping skills found in the PC. They may have even been disappointed because the PC was not as probing as they expected. Others of us came from churches where Senior was a true and chronological “elder” and either didn’t go through the PC or was mature enough not to adopt everything thrown at him. If we came from that environment, the PC stripping was more than what we experienced back home.

    I also didn’t experience the “pastor-mentor” assignment you refer to, at least not the way you describe it. But maybe they practiced that either before or after I was there. My understanding was that Gary has been performing that role for all of the students, serving as their assigned pastor and caregroup leader. And I have never heard anyone accuse Gary of stripping anyone spiritually naked. From all I’ve heard (first hand from friends who were under his care), he was very gracious, affirming, and encouraging to students and wives.

    Just like in the army, you are broken down to nothing through the weekly meetings you have with your pastor-mentor as well as through the use of “humorous” put-downs and even some silly hazing rituals.
    After you are broken down, to where you truly believe you are nothing and have nothing to offer, you are then built back up – in the image of your pastor-mentor, who himself is patterned after CJ.

    Again, this wasn’t exactly what I observed. Yes, there were the humorous put-downs and silly-stuff, but usually those who were subject to the put-downs were those who put themselves out front in a foolish way. It accomplished the appropriate goal, from my perspective, of teaching proud guys (and face it, lots of the personalities that see themselves as good pastors come packaged w/a lot of pride) not to see themselves so highly – not to take themselves too seriously. I didn’t see any of the pastors or teachers rip anyone to shreds like that. Personally, I received more gracious care while at the PC than I did at home.

    Probably the roughest wielder of the humor tactic was CJ himself. But again, if you didn’t put yourself out there, you wouldn’t get mocked. On the other hand, if you didn’t put yourself out there, you weren’t recognized as having “the gift,” either. So those who were loudest and most funny and were able to take the mocking and mock back – those were the ones deemed most gifted. They were definitely looking for a particular personality. I think that’s one of SGM’s biggest flaws.

    So I’m trying to see where you say they brought us “to where you truly believe you are nothing and have nothing to offer.” I don’t recall anyone in my class feeling that way. (Nor did I hear it from friends who attended before and after me). But I do see the potential. And I see where some aspects of a man’s personality were demeaned and belittled in effort to mold our personality to be more like CJ’s. That was always repulsive to me, even then.

    It’s little wonder that the guys who come out of SGM’s Pastors College have so often ended up talking and even looking exactly the same. They were taught that they should “follow their leaders, even as the leaders follow Christ.” Unfortunately, in SGM, that mandate has been interpreted in the most literal and wooden of ways, to where all too frequently, “following Christ” has been equated with following CJ and CJ’s followers.

    Agree. Though I argue that not all of the guys in PC succumb to that goal. Those with prior experience / age / wisdom seemed to see through that and stayed more true to themselves. Maybe even some of us who were younger were protected by the Spirit from succumbing – given more clear spiritual eyesight. We all, though, bought into parts of it I’m sure.

    After being in the environment of the Pastors College – which, incidentally, is a very expensive 9 months of SGM-centric study that is more about learning the SGM way of doing ministry than it is about actual Bible knowledge and real Spirit-led growth…

    Interesting assessment. I don’t know if I agree that it’s “more” about the SGM-way. There was a lot of valuable knowledge and truth taught. But yes, there was also a lot of the SGM-way taught. I think you would expect that from any seminary or training context. Part of the reason you choose to go to any pastoral school is because you like and agree with and want to learn the ways your denomination puts pastoring / preaching into practice. I see some good and some bad to the whole “Pastors College” idea. I also see good and bad in the traditional seminary. Not sure there is a perfect model. But given what SGM has become, the PC model makes application much more damaging in terms of what it is perpetuating.

    He’ll be placed on staff at a church somewhere and given a salary decent enough to allow him to afford to buy a nice-enough home and support a family with a stay-at-home wife.

    That’s not my experience, or that of many of my fellow graduates. Perhaps in the DC/VA/MD area or other affluent areas this is more true. And maybe after serving a few years and proving yourself, salary increased. I can speak for many in less affluent areas, though, who years later are not being paid enough to make it comfortably. There is a sacrifice for most who decide to become pastors. And most, even in SGM, make that sacrifice not expecting to ever earn what they may have earned in the marketplace. But I agree that when/if they do end up making a comfortable salary, it can really mess with personal integrity. It is troubling to consider what the upper tier guys are making.

    Almost immediately, he will get to enjoy the fruits of his labor, as the deference he paid to his SGM leaders for the previous several years will now be paid to him. He will be talked up in an introductory speech as the greatest, most humble and wonderful guy ever to come out of the Pastors College…and he’ll quickly be extended the same sort of obedience and submission by the church members. He’ll find himself counseling people and assessing their sin and having people agree with him.

    That’s some pretty heady stuff.

    This is true. I commend the people who humbly respect the office regardless of the office-holder, but SGM (both pastors and lay people) do carry that too far and entrust too much to us novice pastors. It does quickly foster pride in those prone to pride, and is even strong temptation to those who are more humble.

    Some years go by. Our PC grad is now a senior staffer. He’s not the senior pastor, but he’s one of the more established church leaders. His family owns their nice-enough home and has enough money to live well enough. His wife perhaps homeschools the kids…and in her own way also enjoys a level of influence in the church community as a women’s leader.  One of the main fruits of their labor is that they are regarded all around as godly leaders to be revered and honored.  Although they don’t misuse anyone, they have nonetheless grown accustomed to having people want to serve them.

    Give or take some details in each situation, of course, this is an insightful observation.

    Now, think about what happens when the proverbial fly gets into the ointment.

    Starting here, I’m completely with you. It is all downhill if you face the prospect of having to oppose Senior in something he believes.

    Our now-veteran PC grad established pastor is cruising along, when lo and behold, he begins to get inklings that all is not as it should be in something the senior pastor is doing. The senior pastor is not behaving with integrity in some fashion. What does the junior pastor do?

    Well, although he’s quite used to directing the lowly church members’ attention to their own sins, it’s a different game with his boss. So he must proceed very carefully. He doesn’t just barrel into a confrontation. Perhaps he approaches it in a round-about way, hinting at the problem. When that doesn’t work, he bucks up and – with much trepidation – dares to try and put his concerns into words. All the proper flowery flattery does come first…but then he does his best to oh-so-gently lower the hammer.

    It does not go well.

    Correct. Because no matter what approach he takes, it is never received unless Senior can easily agree. If Senior is blind to his own sin, he is now in a sad (and bad for others) position where no one is able to help him.

    The senior pastor is even more used to the deference from everyone in his world, and “everyone” would include the junior pastor. Having Junior attempt to correct him just feels…wrong. Plus, if Junior just knew how things really were, he wouldn’t be asking questions or insinuating that something was wrong. Junior is misinformed. Moreover, Junior is arrogant! Junior must be put back in his proper place!

    Sadly common. First hand experience, and first hand recounting from several friends repeating the same story.

    So Senior Pastor does what by now comes naturally. He directs Junior’s attention back to Junior’s own sins and shortcomings. Certainly Senior Pastor is very familiar with what those sins and shortcomings are – he’s had enough years with Junior to know just how to bring up the besetting sin, the Achilles heel.  He knows just how to hit the sweet spot.

    Yes, exactly

    Despite his best resolve, Junior finds himself responding the same old way when he hears the same old song about his sin  – with automatic deference, because it has been by now beaten into him.  … Junior will find himself folding like a cheap lawn chair the moment he faces his first real challenge from Senior Pastor.

    This, again, depends in part on the maturity and life experience of Junior – though even older men who should be wise can be swallowing the SGM way hook, line, and sinker. So, really, it depends more on the grace given by the Spirit to see and to have real courage. (And I don’t mean CJ’s recent definition of “courage”). If he doesn’t fold like the lawn chair, he will not be able to remain as a pastor in SGM, because SGM will not support Junior, they will support their prized, CJ-emulating Senior. Just look at the current national-level drama with CJ and the board to get your answer for how it plays out in the local church.

    End of confrontation.

    End of potential accountability for Senior Pastor.

    And this was for an area of real concern to Junior. This was for an area of actual sin in Senior Pastor’s life.

    Imagine what the relational dynamic is like for more prosaic, less obvious dilemmas. Imagine what a meeting looks like where some neither-here-nor-there church decision is being made. Whose will is almost always guaranteed to prevail…even if lip service is paid to making a mutually agreeable choice?

    BIG TRUTH here. In the “lesser” things, no matter how much lip service is given to applaud plurality, Senior prevails. There are many “tactics” at Senior’s disposal to ensure this outcome, even if Senior doesn’t realize how he’s forcing his way.

    But let’s say that the Holy Spirit is at work in Junior’s life, and Junior begins to experience real and genuine conviction about something he knows is not right in the inner workings of his church. Let’s say that rather than folding, as he’s been so conditioned to do, Junior instead continues to stand firm. He continues, stubbornly, to refuse to bow and bend as he always has. Going against all his training, he refuses to submit to Senior Pastor – who is, after all, Junior’s spiritual authority, his covering, his head.  Instead, Junior sticks up for what he believes.

    What’s going to happen to Junior?

    At that point, Junior faces the very real possibility of having Senior Pastor decide that Junior is exhibiting “ungodly” behavior. Junior is demonstrating pride! After all, Junior is no longer submitting to his authority. Junior is unteachable. Junior is not humble, despite his most ingratiating preambles.

    The wheels are then set in motion, and Junior finds himself on the fast track to being disciplined out of a job. Junior looks around and wonders what he can do.  Unfortunately, SGM’s Pastors College training isn’t really acknowledged or accepted as pastoral education in the rest of the non-SGM Christian world. If Junior is lucky, he will have gotten a college education prior to being sent to the PC. If he’s really lucky, he will have some sort of other non-pastoral vocation that he can once again embrace so that he can make a living. But it’s going to be a struggle. Junior discovers, to his dismay, that what had seemed like a moderate salary is actually quite generous when compared to what he’ll be able to earn just starting out in his new profession, if he’s even lucky enough to get a foot in the door and get an interview. As a pastor, he enjoyed all sorts of tax advantages. As a manager at Home Depot, on the other hand, he can no longer count on things like a tax-free parsonage allowance. All he’s left with is the same old ordinary mortgage interest deduction that’s available to all little people.

    Junior begins to have serious doubts about his convictions. Who is he, to ask questions? Really – who is he? He knows his own heart. And of course, his heart is deceitful. His pastor – Senior Pastor – is the one who knows Junior’s heart better than Junior knows it himself.  That’s the answer!  He will do the (SGM version of) the godly thing and go back and submit himself to Senior Pastor once again.

    Who wants to go work for Home Depot anyway? Far better to be sacrificing for the gospel.

    THIS is how SGM’s dysfunctional lack of formal accountability happens.


    So sad. So true. Thankfully, God spared me of this. Some are sensitive enough to the Spirit to trust that He will provide even when the circumstances look dim from the world’s perspectives. And He does. He is faithful. If you’re one of those pastors wavering, I would exhort you to trust Him and step out. You begin to see things much more clearly on the other side.

    And it’s not “sacrificing for the gospel” if you’re compromising your own integrity. Your soul will suffer. It will have an effect. Better to be out of the ministry and at peace than to “serve” in that environment.


    Regarding post #56 on the “Why Good Guys…” page:

    Try to find someone out there who will tell you with a straight face that Pastors College students have NOT been paired with mentor pastors and were NOT expected to strip spiritually naked in front of these mentors for the 9 months they were there. You won’t be able to, because it is a fact that these relationships were set up like that.

    That was not a fact when I was there, but I can’t speak for other years. I do agree with your assessment of the problem with “voluntary” accountability – it’s really no accountability at all if, when you most need it, you can opt out of it.

  • Don

    Philly Girl – your #40 – I was at those Philly meetings, too! First the ones in December 95, then some of the “30 Days of Gathering Around Jesus” meetings in 96. I, too, saw the Spirit move on Protestants, Catholics and Messianic Jews — he loved us all the same. I was forever changed by what the Spirit of Jesus did in my life at that time.

    Prompted by his dropping Matthew 11:12 into my heart one night after prayer, I decided to take my family that weekend in December 95 to the Randy Clark meetings at Deliverance Evangelistic Church — instead of to the David Powlison “Three Trees” seminar at CLC that weekend. I can’t exaggerate the importance of my choice to my, and my family’s life ever since.

    I know some Spirit-filled believers in the Philly suburbs who were in the thick of those meetings, and are still following the Lord closely. If you’re interested in meeting them, email Kris to get my email address and I’ll follow up. God wants full healing and restoration for you!

  • Persona

    I never did ‘get’ the CCEF diagrams. I noticed they even altered some of them later, perhaps to try and make them more understandable.

    But, I think God delights in confounding the work of men who attempt to weave formulas out of the work of his spirit. So much of what is written about the sanctification process wreaks of self-righteousness. And, as great as so many have gotten at diagnosis, it seems they are clueless about how people change.

    I think the folks at CCEF do everyone a disservice by telling them how bad off they are and then, leave them hanging.

  • Junior –

    Thank you so much for your #78. I really appreciated your point-by-point comparison of the post to your own personal experience.

    I’m thinking that the mentor pastor relationship is something that was probably handled more rigidly and harshly in the earlier years of the PC. Also, I’m starting to wonder if perhaps the discipling process was a lot more unsettling to PC students’ wives than to the PC students themselves. The most vivid descriptions of this experience were shared with me by wives, and especially one woman made it sound particularly grueling and demoralizing.

    Junior, I’m so glad to hear that you were able to step away from a situation where your integrity would have been compromised. It’s good that you can encourage others to trust in God’s provision.

    Again, thanks for commenting and sharing what you know.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Luna Moth 72,3 and 4, Amen! His Name is Jesus 65, Thanks! I just ordered that book and a similar one by Van Vonderen. I agree with most here, my faith hasn’t been shaken, but faith in my powers of discernment have. I’ve also been taking a good look at myself in all of this, so praise God! He always works good for believers.

  • Persona

    Junior 78

    Thank you for your participation. It is of course, invaluable to have PC graduates share their experiences with us.

    As you say, every year of the PC is unique. Ironically, Brent D. taught the first iteration of the PC which met on Saturdays about 1982. Interestingly, women were not excluded from that class.

    The next iteration, the first all-male class, included mostly young, single men. After that, they accepted mostly married men so, they could be deployed immediately. And so, more and more men with children, started attending the PC.

    Because of that, care groups were asked to ‘adopt’ PC families to help them with practical needs, like babysitting. In that regard, the small groups we belonged to got to know several PC families, over a period of years. We were able to see up close some of the challenges the students faced.

    One couple shared with us how much they dreaded being put on ‘the hot seat’ in the Ricucci care group. Apparently, it was quite uncomfortable. I did not doubt their story. I knew the R’s had turned up the ‘heat’ on church members before they started working in the PC. So, I guess you can count yourself fortunate that you were one of the favored ones.

    I feel particularly grieved that so many men were derailed in ministry by the authority structure of SGM. It must be very hard to swim against the prevailing current. I have also heard someone say,’it is nearly impossible to win an argument against CJ.’ He allegedly makes it very difficult to disagree with him about anything, small or large.

    I understand what you mean by the pastors being ‘blind’instead of being deliberately ‘malicious’ in intent. However, I am not sure God winks at our blindness. There have to be many moments of blinding oneself to truth, to reach the depth of blindness that afflicts someone like CJ, right now. In other words, I think we choose to blind ourselves to truth each and every time God gives us glimpses of the truth. It is the accumulation of all those momentary deceptions, that eventually leads to full-blown, self-deception. ‘And, self-deception is our worst enemy.’ (I just realized that is a quote from one of Larry’s old sermons)

    Lastly, I don’t know about ‘mentors’ but, most CLC pastors have ‘accountability partners’ so, that may be what Kris is trying to describe. It may only be a practice in the larger SGM churches with multiple pastors.

    Again, thanks for sharing your insights. Please come back!

  • Moniker

    Wow, Junior’s #78 is so good. I really appreciate reading the thoughts of one who’s been to the PC. I loved his concluding statement:

    And it’s not “sacrificing for the gospel” if you’re compromising your own integrity. Your soul will suffer. It will have an effect. Better to be out of the ministry and at peace than to “serve” in that environment.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Glad I am Out, post #78, I have been mulling over that concept this past month myself! Something I thought about: Knowing that the most effective action for any type of training is consistency, but also recognizing that in order to be consistent, we must have a standard to be consistent to-our goal of the training..Therefore, I wondered if ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ is meant more combining the rod (a flexible stick) as a measurement stick, to mean use consistency and standards for your child, but also flexible, to allow empathy and is a fine line that some struggle to see, like ‘disciplining’ a young child for being grumpy, when they are tired, or dont feel good, either because they are coming down with a sickness, or because you (the parent) kept them out too late, or too long. Sometimes, ‘some standards’ are ‘relaxed’ due to extenuating circumstances, where we need to be sympathetic, but other parents have ‘too much empathy’, and make excuses where a standard should be enforced. To many of us, it seems so simple, but some people really do struggle with where to draw a line.
    Anyway, I just thought it interesting to hear others trying to understand that also.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    HappyMom and Wallace, I am not surprised at the response from Fairfax to A of R…I am sorry you wasted your time. Perhaps all is not wasted, of A of R’s report is able to somehow be published in an unedited form..maybe more truth will come out-who knows..
    It was interesting for me to see this blog title this morning. SGM may have jostled my faith a bit, but it put a huge damper on my ability to share my faith. My older children, who were raised in SGM are so absolutely hostile to even speaking God’s name, that I found it better to not speak about Him in front of them, to avoid arguing all the time. Just yesterday, I was trying to explain to a grandchild why the older children are so ‘anti-Christ’..When one mentions anything to do with God, Jesus, or church, they have the same gag reflex, response as they do when one brings up a child molester..The younger children and grandchildren have a much softer heart towards God. I constantly pray for God to heal the hearts of those who have been so injured that their faith is destroyed before they even know Him directly.

  • SamMcGee

    How’s this for coordination?

    Original Date of the release of the panel reports: January 27, 2012

    Release date of Nathan Sasser’s paper on gossip and slander: January 27, 2012.

    Date of CJs letter notifying CLC of his transfer of membership to Solid Rock: January 27, 2012.

  • Bridget

    ExCLCers Mom @85 –

    Your observations about discipline are spot on. When I think about how discipline was taught in many of these churches I pretty much want to scream “Is this the way our Father in heaven treats us?” He doesn’t whack me every time I step to the right or left without a direct order from Him. He doesn’t get angry when I question Him. He doesn’t spank me when I don’t smile at someone when I should. Yes, he does work with me, brings things to my attention, brings people along to share things with me, and he does discipline me at times. BUT he loves me through all of it and treats me respectfully as a person. He doesn’t treat me as a thing to be fixed.

    It just acurred to me that many of the wounded have been treated this same way . . . as children who were to have first time obedience. If they got out of line, they were disciplined. It sounds more like army boot camp than the Church of Jesus.

    Jesus was and is very relational with his followers. The disciples asked endless questions and said and did some pretty stupid things, including lying about Jesus. Jesus loved and cared for them just the same.

  • Let My People Go

    Thank you for taking the time to comment here. I was blessed by your insights and by what you shared about your experience.

    I found this particularly compelling:
    “Some are sensitive enough to the Spirit to trust that He will provide even when the circumstances look dim from the world’s perspectives. And He does. He is faithful. If you’re one of those pastors wavering, I would exhort you to trust Him and step out. You begin to see things much more clearly on the other side.” So true. So true.

    Thank you for reminding me about what the heart of the Christian life is – walking in the Spirit and trusting God to be faithful. I needed to be reminded today. God bless you.

  • Like I said on Friday, I’ve had some other demands on my time and haven’t been able to read and interact here as much as I would have liked to. In trying to catch up, I noticed this, from “radicallysaved”:

    I also felt the ecstasy of confessing sin on an incredibly deep level (from my perspective) with my care group, confessing adulterous thoughts, agreeing wholeheartedly that men and women needed to be seperated bi-monthly so “Men could discuss our twisted sick lust of women”…those were heady days when my sanctificationn was in seeming overdrive….I have moved on now, out of SGM, but yes a part of me cannot shake the feeling that I have become a “soft” christian, that my greatest growth came during my times in an SGM church…

    I think “radicallysaved” is not alone in feeling this way. I’ve heard from plenty of others who have shared similar sentiments. And, I have to say that I also remember an instance from my own SGM experience where I shared with our care group about a weakness – a sin pattern I didn’t want to deal with any longer – and really appreciated people’s responses and prayer support. There is power in bearing one another’s burdens and praying for each other.

    Facedown said,

    I think the same goes for small groups. Certainly most folks here would be okay with occasionally discussing sin at a small group meeting. There are many good suggestions in “Why Small Groups?” and even though we’re out of SGM, I still recommend it, particularly for churches where sin is never discussed at all (or is only ever mentioned generally). Why? Because “faithful are the wounds of a friend” and I want my friends to help me on my way to heaven.

    I’m right there with “Facedown,” but I think it’s important to note that the verse says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” I believe the problems that have arisen in SGM’s approach to small groups, confession of sins, and “fellowship” arose because of an upside-down interpretation of this verse.

    The Proverb is saying that when someone who is already a friend speaks the truth about his friend’s faults or sins, those words may hurt (or “wound”), but the wounds will ultimately produce positive results (prove “faithful”) – because a friend’s honesty builds us up.

    The Proverb is NOT saying that going around pointing out people’s sins and flaws is the way to establish or even to build friendships. This is key. In SGM, people have been trained to think that confronting one another about sin requires basically no prior relationship, other than that the individuals involved in the confrontation attend the same SGM church. Somehow, they have this verse backward, where going around “wounding” each other is seen as some sort of gesture of friendship, some sort of sign that they care…when the reality is, “speaking into a person’s life” (the SGM euphemism for confronting a person about a sin you see in his or her life) is an activity that needs to take place within the context of an already-established relationship. Again – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” NOT, “Going around wounding people is a good way to prove you’re a faithful friend.”

  • Dan

    Do SGM’s problems shake your faith?

    Simple: Yes.

    In organised religion? Devastated/almost gone.

    In God? Working through that.

  • Argus

    @Sam McGee, #87 — Very telling on those dates.

    I *might* write it off as coincidence if we had not seen so much similar ‘coincidence’ between key sermons, papers, and SGM Board actions.

    It becomes clear that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes strategizing and manipulating going on.

    Some people think they are so clever and covert, yet what they are scheming is overt totalitarianism in the name of ‘protecting the Gospel.”

    It is hard sometimes to step back and remember that we are talking about a Christian denomination. Oh, wait. I forget. We are talking about a corporation. Well, actually, we are talking about a hybrid of the worst of both worlds for the congregations and the best of both worlds for the power brokers.

    They rule from a corporate structure; the top guys get corporate salaries and golden parachutes; they protect their positions and promote the ‘team players’ from within; they hire and promote young ‘rising stars’ and fire or marginalize older workers; they stage hostile takeovers; they employ corporate PR and spin; they brand themselves in a growing niche market; they do demographic market research; they focus on franchise expansion to their target markets (upper-middle-class, college-educated, young suburbia); they form strategic alliances to expand brand recognition and market share; they do motivational speaking tours in which they cross-sell and up-sell books and materials; and they are almost ready to roll out a big corporate quasi-merger.

    However, they also fall back on church denominational authority when it suits them. They claim apostolic authority for those at the top; they claim to supernaturally, by virtue of their office, know what is best and to speak ex cathedra; they exalt the office of the pastorate and view any disagreement as spiritual rebellion and sin; they teach that blind allegiance is godly humility and submissiveness to the Lord; they forbid free speech (and independent thought, if they could) under the guise of protecting the work of the Gospel from sinful gossip and slander; they require the tithe of all; they require ministry to the local SGM church and equate serving the local SGM church with serving the Lord, effectively turning virtually all ‘Gospel’ resources inward to the organization; they take advantage of the good will of God’s people and elevate ‘believing the best’ above all wisdom and prudence; they call any deviation from pattern a sin; they subsume the ‘role’ of the Holy Spirit while ignoring His person; they put the Church on the throne, and themselves on the throne of the Church; they put all the people much lower as sheep in need of their shepherding.

    And, when being a denomination means they might be liable for the crimes and wrongful actions of their member churches, suddenly they claim to be simply a para-church ministry, called alongside to aid ‘independent local churches’ in a voluntary alliance.

    Because SGM culture did not derive from Scripture as much as from the unique life happenstances of its original self-appointed leaders, it is a motley mix of incompatible ideas that they hold to be self-evident. It is an amalgam of Catholic/smile-God-loves-you Jesus people/charismatic gifts/five-fold ministry teaching/shepherding movement/Bill Gothard/counter-cultural reactionism against feminism and the youth movement/ and neoCalvinism.

    Because SGM’s polity did not derive from Scripture as much as from the personalities and preferences of its original self-appointed leaders, it is the intractable, authoritarian mess we see today.

    Their plurality of mutually-accountable elders only lasted until C.J. tossed down Larry and became sole King of the Hill. Now he holds court according to his own whims and ambitions.

  • OutOfStepford

    I read this site often, but I rarely comment. I wanted to “chime in” on the discussion about the rod of discipline. The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” is not actually found in the Bible. There are numerous other well-known sayings that are quoted as being “biblical,” but they are not. Here is a neat article explaining this phenominon & how it has affected our culture. It also could explain how many SGM leaders have been manipulated at PC, & thus have misled their congregations.

  • glad i am out

    OutOfStepford – Thanks! Very interesting read.. I have quoted phantom verses myself… Now, not being the best christian, especially in SGM’s eyes, i have not read the entire bible.. or even most of it, but i did read proverbs many times and still did not remember what this passage actually says:

    13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

    But now that i see it, i am more convinced that it does not refer to a spanking rod…. Solomon was talking about the shabat – or whatever his kingly staff was called… and maybe he was referring to withholding the blessings that it represented…? maybe? again, hope someone can fully answer my earlier questions based on the teaching i heard and described above.,.. But i am fuzzy on the details as i heard it long ago…

    All i know is that my heart tells me that spanking is not right – yet…. i must admit, that of 4 boys, only the one who got spanked, my 1st, tended to obey…

    all that aside, i think we can agree on this… It is a fact that at one time, in SGM, our church, at least, some mothers (my wife knew them well) would spank a child 30 separate times (and a spanking is something like 3 or 6 swats a time)…. for not obeying for whatever reason.. not eating peas? complaining, possibly about an expectation that the parent is being unreasonable about? This is wrong no matter what the reason!

  • BeenThere

    Ever since my own experiences that go back to the decade of the 90’s, I’ve thought a lot about how we got to the point we did in our churches. In my own study of church history I think it goes back as far as the 2nd century not long after the Apostles left the scene. You started to see the institution of the church being magnified above a personal relationship with Christ. Eventually this heavy emphasis on the church and its power over the people culminated in the Roman Catholic system. It has been my conclusion that while the Reformation represented a major correction in doctrine it did not represent a major correction in the church as a man-made institution.

    What the reformation did was simply decentralize one big global institution into a lot of local ones. Now I’m not saying there wasn’t some progress, but I’ve thought of how much we actually carried over from the Roman system. Take for instance the teaching of the infallibility of the pope. Every Protestant minister would deny this doctrine, but try talking to a lot of pastors (especially those involved in shepherding) after they’ve preached a message that you didn’t feel was from God or had elements of problems in it. I would imagine the Pope himself would probably take it better than many of these pastors do when questioned. To question your pastor is to question God (or so we are taught).

    One of the famous doctrines to come out of the Reformation was the Priesthood of All Believers. The reformation told us that ALL believers could go before God and have a direct and personal relationship with him without the need of a go-between. I’m being really simplistic for the sake of space and time, but essentially the Roman Catholic system was a Two Tiered system where there were the Priests and then all the common people. Protestants like to tout that we are all Priests, and there is no such division. Well…have we not all seen this kind of division within a lot of protestant churches? When you hear cliche’s such as “You just need to trust your spiritual leaders” what is that saying? Can you not trust your own relationship with God? Are these pastors helping their members build their relationship and dependence on Christ or are they teaching them to build their dependence on man?

    There’s a lot more that could be said about this, but I just wanted to throw this out to highlight that the problem of shepherding goes back thousands of years and is rooted in man’s desire to be in control. It’s in every circle of Christianity and throughout every denomination.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Been There #95:
    Your take on church history is correct as I see it. Over the centuries we’ve only been interested in exchanging in type of man made religious institution for another. Only the faces at the top have changed. The priesthood of the believers will never be restored until or unless the nicolaitain based professional clergy is done away with. That’s one (but not the only) reason that house churches are growing in popularity so rapidly. Believers can only grow to a certain level within the current system, and then they begin to see that something is wrong. They can’t and are not allowed to grow any farther. The only option is to leave the man made system and seek an environment where one can grow to the level God has for him or her. Only thin is, I’m not yet convinced that house churches are the final answer either. That may just be exchanging one man made system for another. On the plus side people seem to be growing there and they are allowed to grow.

    Will the priesthood of the believer ever be discovered in SGM? I doubt it. No matter how many changes the make or howthey restructure (if they indeed do) they will still be a hierarchy manned by professional clergy. There’s no room for a general priesthood of beliers in that kind of system.

  • DB

    With respect to the rod and the so-called rod verses, I have my peace to say and since the pastors at CFC tried to shut me up, I joy in the freedom I have in Christ and the good nature of our hosts who allow me to opine freely.

    Shebet is a symbol of authority as pointed out, Soloman likely had a shebet as he sat on his throne. It is also the staff a shepherd used and was used to protect the sheep from predation (not to hit the sheep.)

    Many translations from the original languages reflect a bias in the culture of those (usually influential men) doing the translating.

    Train up a child in the way he should go, for example, is an extremely poor rendering of the Hebrew word, channuk.

    Train up has connotations of the Von Trapp children marching along responding to their overly strict father’s dog whistles.

    A family with well-trained children would be like a platoon of soldiers or a well-oiled machine except for one teensey little complication: it isn’t what the word means. Channuk is more like “Dedicate” than train up (train what up, like a training bike keeps the girls perky or the training wheels keep the kid’s tushie on the bike, train up?

    No, try fillig in the better rendering of chanuk and see what happens.

    Dedicate a child in the way he should go

    You are dedicated to directing a child in the right direction.

    The mood is much different and more closely resembles God’s heart towards us (which is our mold to emulate.)

  • OutOfStepford

    Glad i am out-

    At the SGM church where we were members, the parents also spanked their children numerous times per day. And over those seemingly “minor” offenses, like not looking in the eyes when speaking. That one seemed crazy to us, especially since one of our children has autism. We were glad when he wasn’t having meltdowns about the color of his shoes…we certainly weren’t going to “nitpick” over looking in people’s eyes! One of the biggest “red flags” for me was when I was in a conversation with a small group leader’s wife and a young mom in our group. The young mom was sharing her frustration with spanking her 2-yr-old for disobeying. She said he would throw a tantrum to fight off the spanking. The CG leader’s wife advised that she keep spanking the child–even if she had to hold him down 40 times–until he “accepted his discipline cheerfully!” I picked my jaw up off the floor and then asked, “but, isn’t that a little unreasonable? He’s TWO.” They both looked at me with confused faces, like I was speaking another language. I guess, to them, I was.

    Another weird/fishy thing some of the families at our SGM church did was: during the day, while Dad was at work, Mom would have an “discipline” (I REALLY hate that word now) problem at home and she would call Dad to straighten out the issue over the phone. At first glance, it doesn’t seem that weird–a phone call to Dad is sometimes necessary. But, the Moms here were pretty much tattle-taling to Dad about every single misstep of each child! While in a lunch meeting with one of our pastors, he had to excuse himself 3 or 4 different times to talk his wife through the process of dealing with their kids’ attitude problems. Several moms I knew talked about the importance of doing this because they needed to yield to their husbands’ leadership, even while apart during the day. Many of the moms seemed like children, themselves. It was creepy.

  • OutOfStepford

    DB #97-

    Thank you for that information! It’s very, very helpful. I think of Psalms 23, when David says, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…” when declaring the goodness of God, our shepherd.

  • Breeezey

    SGM claims to be both Reformed and Charismatic. The charismatic gifts were poured out on the day of pentecost. The reformation was started 1500 years later. The “church” was so far away from what the apostles left, it needed to be reformed. The problem is that the Reformers didn’t go far enough. They basically went back to Augustine and not to the first 3 hundred years of church history. Augustine introduced a number of (and there is no way to say this gently) heresies into Christian doctrine. For instance the church replacing the Jews (replacement theology) was started by him. This is where anti-semitism gets its start. (Augustine’s contemporary John Chysostom preached this too.) Prophecy being taught allegorically instead of literally was started by him. Augustine spent years arguing with Man’e who was once his teacher. The “irresistable gift of faith” doctrine was started with Augustine. Augustine was the first church leader who taught that christians can force unbelievers to get saved. For instance, one of the main verses he used was “Go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in,” which meant, in his thinking, God forces people to get saved, therefore the Christians ought to too. Go out and make them Christians! If God uses force to change man’s will, then so can his people do the same thing. Augustine was a great man but but his errors have really done damage to the church. Augustine was very sincere. Unfortunately his errors have hurt untold millions as they have been handed down through church history

    In the same respect SGM started out very sincere. Those early TAG days were a lot of fun. I remember at the TAG retreat in 75 being led through the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Tongues and interpretation was a regular occurance at TAG. I don’t know when was the last time I heard of this occuring at an SGM church. SGM is stuck at the reformation. The problem is, God isn’t. God is alive and active in the affairs of men and His Church.

    Recently I was listening to a set of Hal Lindsey’s CDs on Revelation. As a prophecy teacher and historian Hal is in the top tier of Bible teachers. Looking back at church history you can see that the 7 letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 you can see the outline of the entire church age. Here it is:
    Church History Foretold in Revelation 2 – 3
    1. Church of Ephesus – 33 AD– 100 AD
    Knowledge without love in the filling of the Spirit
    2. Church of Smyrna – 100 AD – 312 AD
    Persecuted poor but rich church
    3. Church of Pergamos – 312 AD – 590 AD
    The compromising church
    4. Church of Thyatira – 590 AD – 1517 AD
    The corrupt church (the great counterfeit)
    5. Church of Sardis – 1517 AD – 1750 AD
    The dead church (orthodoxy without the filling of the spirit)
    6. Church of Philadelphia – 1750 AD – 1900 AD
    The Missionary Church (eschatology began to be studied, systematized, looked at literally rather than allegorically)
    7. Church of Laodiceah – 1900 AD – Rapture
    The lukewarm church (compromise with the world system and apostacy)

    I bring this up because it seems that SGM is stuck at the church of Sardis. Either that or they went through the church at Philedelphia quickly as far as missions (which is how they got so big) and are at the Laodiceah stage. In Rev 3:20 Jesus says He is outside knocking at the door. It seems that SGM kicked Jesus out of His own church and He’s outside knocking asking to be let in. Somewhere between 1990 and 2000 the leadership lost its way.

    Look at Che Ahn and the ministry God gave him when he left. Even through CJ’s blackmail God was using Larry at the Brownsville Revival. He preached there on numerous occasions. God’s anointing was still on his life.

    I believe as the faulty teachings on Augustinian/Calvinism began to take hold in SGM the anointing on the ministry began to lift. As the focus on only one side of God’s glorious being overshadowed His other attributes He pulled away. He’s on the outside knocking. He truly desires to be let in but will not come in if we insist on being in charge. He doesn’t pour out His Charismatic gifts to the churches of Laodiceah or Sardis. SGM stopped being charismatic years ago. They claim it because it was part of their past but I doubt it is part of their future.

    BTW… I recently found an article called: What the Reformers Forgot by James Jacob Prasch. Get my email from Kris and I’ll send you a copy. I don’t agree with everything in it but his analysis is dead on.

  • Glad i am out


    My wife used to call me.,..It was awful!!! I was expected to come home hours after the fact and spank my child… My wife did not want to do it, and i now understand… I did not want to either – but it “was my job” to do so, and my child often did not even remember why he was being spanked.. hours later…

    I am so ashamed of this…. In front of some of my in-laws, i once asked my 3 or 4 year old to pray over the food at a family gathering.. he would not do it, and in front of everyone, i took him up stairs to spank him… interrupting the whole family event… Normally i would not blame anyone else for my ridiculous behavior and my foolishness in this situation…. but i was trying to do what SGM taught me and was trying to please them!!!! And frankly i will blame them now – What they taught was pure utter sinful un-biblical pig-crap!!!!!! and i am ashamed i ever listened!!!! i did not know, and i trusted my leaders,… I was a fool, as they were!! imagine my family’s shock that i would spank a 4 year old son for not asking the blessing… I feel sick to my stomach over this and many other similar occurrences… ya know… I feel bad for SGM churches and their leaders and what they taught, and i feel like i have been too harsh on them and need to repent… and then, i remember little things like this – like what they taught about disciplining a child… and everyone was doing it… Yes, i had 5 glue sticks in the house… because they hurt more than wooden spoons… I used to have the spoons everywhere… You know what? I wish, i really really wish, i had the opportunity to spank the crap out of who ever started this erroneous practice against our precious children… I can make a glue stick really sting – and who ever you are, whatever leader in this (bowel) movement that started this – i have a freaking glue stick w/ your name on it… And i long to use it!!!! sorry… everyone else… as per usual, i can not contain my anger for the years i was lied to and ripped off by the foolish, errant, and stupid teachings by our -oh so great and wise, and infallible pastors….!!!!!!! They need to repent… because they ARE causing me to stumble – i really want to kick some A** right now… and we all know that is not God’s will…

    I guess… yes, Kris, my faith has been shaken, my “church” world has been rocked… and frankly, i want to see some heads roll for this – and cowardly CJ’s is the first – i can not believe i ever respected that pitiful man. What a coward, a Liar, a cheat, and a hypocrite! CJ, you contact me personally… I want to have a conversation w/ you my friend… Someone needs to set you straight!!!

  • B.R. Clifton

    Breeezey #100: :clap :goodpost :clap
    One of the biggest errors in the church today (the whole church) is that church history is largely ignored, except for those parts that suit a certain denominational slant. The errors of today are a result of ignoring (or being ignorant of) the erros of the past in the church. Of course there are also certain slanted doctrines that add to the mess. Unfortunately, back in the early days of the church right on up to the reformation, not everyone had access to a bible. There was no way for the average citizen and church member to check and balance what was being taught. On top of that, the institution had just as tight a rein on things as SGM today. Questioning and sidagreement were not tolerated. Wycliffe and Tyndale changed all that; or at least set the change in motion. They translated the Bible into English and made it available to the average man.

    The current problem is that modern folks still conduct themselves like there are no bibles available and depend on the professionals to tell them what is right and wrong. As long as the average “pew warmer” continues to rely on the guy on the platform to hand down “the truth” there will continue to be abuses like we have seen in SGM and other places. The local churches should have regulkar bible classes to teach the believer. The trouble with that is most churches that do infact have classes, stress denominational mindset over scripture. What is left is for the believer to find out on his or her own. That’s not dangerous, in spite of the fact that the professionals will tell you it is. You see, it you depend on the Holy Spirit to lead you in such study, you will find that the scriptures will be opened up to you in a marvelous way. After all, the Holy Spirit is tha author of the scriptures. What better teacher to learn from!

    One of the hallmarks of the early Charismatic Movement was the intense hunger for God’s Word and bible studies were the truth was sought. The Holy Spirit did a marvelous work then and he manefested himself through the gifts that He poured out. Sadly, elitism crept in and believers ran hither and yon attending conference after conference where they could listen to their favorite speakers expound on their version of the scriptures. Then a whole new industry sprang up to produce and sell cassette tapes which could be listened to ad nauseum and traded to other believers who might have something you wanted to hear. People began to put their bibles aside and depend on their favorite expounder to tell them what they should know. When eoor crept in nobody was paying attention or realized it because they had forgotten their best weapon against such error; Their own knowledge of the scriptures!

  • TookTheBluePill

    Yes Kris, I am a 29 year vet of this SGM/PDI garbage. Maybe I did place much of my faith in the wrong place. No, not maybe. I was trained. I was a small group leader, wrote the “summary reports” to the pastor, including attendance, issues people had, etc. I stopped being a care group leader when I looked around and saw all this produced NO fruit in my kid’s lives.
    I don’t know who I am more angry at, CJ et all or myself for believing all this crap. You are right on your 4 points, but you left out many others like pressure (unseen) to homeschool, spanking kids as “glad i am out” spoke about, but mostly because of my attitude towards other christians who just didn’t “get it.” I started seeing the light when at the end of one of our care groups someone announced they were moving to another state. One of the other members of the church asked “Is there a SGM church there?” – It stinks and it’s in the culture. I am out, mentally. Unfortunately one of the other devious things about SGM is the hold they have on wives. My wife thinks I am crazy for how I feel. I am numb. I don’t want to go to church (We are still at a FL SGM church)- I have no desire for fellowship. I don’t go to care group since a memo came out from one of the pastors saying if you don’t go to care group you are “unqualified” to serve on our worship team.

    You are right. I am not even caring enough to go to another church now. I don’t care about god, jesus, church. I have many reasons to not believe. I just don’t care. I do appreciate this letter. It might be helpful in the future. For now I am trying to be kind enough to my wife so she doesn’t leave me. SGM has a stranglehold on her. She doesn’t want to leave but I will not go back. Of course I will be the bad guy. I will be the one who, at some family meeting in the near future will be announced, and everyone will be asked to pray for me to return to the faith “I.E. come back to a SGM church.” Sunday used to be what I look forward to. Now I wish there were only 6 days in the week.

  • presbyterian

    While I would agree with you that Augustine introduced a lot of errors into Christianity, specifically in the way the church relates to the state, but to say that he introduced prophecy being allegorical instead of literal is just not accurate. Origen, Hilary of Potiers, and Clement of Alexandria to name a few. Clement of Alexandria was born 200 years before Augustine and heavily taught allegory.

    I would also say that to call Hal Lindsey a top tier bible historian is a stretch, and I would doubt any Bible historian would think of him as one.

    I would agree that SGM is not traditional Charismatic anymore; but I would say a lot of their problems do come down to their Charismatic view of the Holy Spirit. One of the thing my wife especially, who was saved at CLC, most noted when we started attending a Presbyterian church was the high view of the Holy Spirit. The teaching that the Holy Spirit was at work in us convicting and sanctifying us really influences the counsel. There is not a need to tell people exactly what to do like at CLC, instead we were pointed to scripture and people and pastors trusted the Holy Spirit to convict us, they did not need to do it. Ironically, I find that many Charismatic churches, SGM in particular, have a very low view of the Holy Spirit. The Holy spirit is almost a show pony to do miraculous works, but they do not trust the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives to comfort, convict, and illuminate. Contrary to what BR Clifton said in 102, the belief that the Holy spirit is what illuminates scripture is a hallmark of reformed/Presbyterian theology (one absent in SGM). The Westminster Confession (the Presbyterian theology standards) say that: “The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”(WCF 1:10)

  • Tookthebluepill-

    I really feel for your situation…I hope that all can be worked out with your wife.

  • Another Joe

    To all the new people on survivors

    I just wanted to let everyone new on here know that you are among friends here.
    Most of us here have seen, done and heard horrible things that should never go on in a church.

    God is much Larger then all of our problems though, the one thing that SGM wanted or wants people to believe in my view is that they have a corner on the Gospel. Well they don’t!!!!! And there are hundreds and hundreds of good churches out their that would love to take you in and help you through the healing process.

    But please don’t take the experience that you have had at your SGM church and believe that all churches act in such a horrible way.

    I know first hand that putting your trust in another church will be difficult and even SCARY!!!!!!!!!!

    But put your hope in the Lord and he will guide you to a body of believers that needs you. Trust in the Lord and He will guide your path.

  • facedown2000

    @presbyerian # 104:

    That’s interesting — My wife and I started attending a PCA church recently after attending CLC, and the Holy Spirit has come up a couple of times since then. While your observation may apply in some cases, my experience has been the opposite. A few times the Spirit has been referred to as an “it” instead of a “he,” and the Spirit receives very little emphasis when discussing the Godhead. Some of that’s biblical: the Spirit delights to bring glory to the Father and Son, but I don’t think many people have thought as much about how the Spirit works, especially today.

    As you can probably tell, I’ve taken my charismatic views into my new church context. The great thing about this new church, though, is that it’s okay to disagree (unlike CLC, where dissenters on doctrinal points were asked to leave). Maybe they’re just humoring me, but they seem to take my ideas seriously, especially when I can back them up with scripture. Granted, I’ll never “make elder” given my views on baptism and the Holy Spirit, but thankfully that’s not the goal of the Christian life.

  • facedown2000

    Originally came here for this: I haven’t been following Pastor Schuller or his ministry, but Tim Challies posted this link about the downfall of the “Hour of Power” and the sale of the crystal cathedral. It’s another example of the dangers of filling your church staff with family members.

    It’s sad how easy it is for Satan to make a mess out of Christians, and it’s sad how hard it is for us to learn to protect ourselves from the same old tricks. I fully include myself in that — the same stuff seems to get me every time. It’s a good thing that Jesus is a mighty savior.

  • “TookTheBluePill” –


    It sounds like things are pretty difficult right now. I’m really sorry that you are going through this. It stinks.

    What sorts of conversations have you had with your wife about what you’re thinking? I’m no therapist, but one thing I have observed over the years is that sometimes a spouse can think he has expressed his deepest thoughts and frustrations, but it hasn’t actually happened in as obvious a way as it needs to happen. Sometimes the other spouse has to have things spelled out for them in no uncertain terms…to the point where they can no longer avoid what they don’t want to face.

    If you haven’t already done so, I would suggest sitting down with your wife and trying to have that kind of conversation about what you’re feeling about church. Start off by telling her how much you want and need to lead your family (or her, if your kids are all out of the house)…and that you’re sensing that the Lord is leading you in a new direction. You may need to employ the use of some familiar terms (like “lead your family”) to help her to understand.

    Also, try really hard to get your wife talking. Try to ask her some questions. Try to get her to open up about what goes through her mind when she sees your disinterest in church. Really try to hear what your wife says. Really try to understand what she may be feeling. If she still believes the typical stuff that some SGM churches used to teach, it might be a very frightening thing, to face the prospect of not having her husband “leading” her in the usual SGM way.

    If you find that it’s really difficult to have this kind of conversation with your wife, that’s a strong indicator that you guys would benefit from some outside assistance. A Christian counselor could help you a lot. I have heard that in areas where SGM churches have been around for a long time, it is pretty common for Christian therapists in the area to have had considerable experience working with people who have been in situations similar to yours. Even if you start out going to counseling by yourself, a counselor could give you strategies that would help preserve and strengthen your marriage…even as he also helps you work through your church issues.

    Ultimately, though, our power lies in the Lord Jesus and prayer. Even when a situation seems impossible – actually, especially when a situation seems impossible – that is when we can still have hope as we look to God to step in and fix things. Many of the folks here will pray for you. It will be exciting to see how God is going to work things out.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Let’s leave Hal Lindsey out of discussion. Last I knew he was on wife #4. Not sure what happened to #1 but he dumped #2 for a woman in one of his classes and dumped #3 for a much younger gal. Or were 2 & 3 the other way? I forget. Lest you think this is slander, I know somebody who checked it out with his office secretary.

    Regarding “replacement theory”, a common term used by dispensationalists, Galatians 3 is clear that the promises of God were to Abraham’s seed, singular, that is to Christ, and by inference to all who have union with Christ. The promises were not to the seeds, ie physical Jews in unbelief. Hebrews stresses the same theme- we have a new and better high priest, a new Covenant, and the old and obsolete is replaced by a new and better covenant.

    SGM has many problems, but not being dispensational is not one of them.

    By the way Presbyterian, I fuly agree with you about how much of the real presence and power of the Holy Spirit can be in a PCA church, even one that is technically cessationist. Ironic. My opinion now is that when churches realize how dependent on God to move they are, how much they need God, and how they labor in vain unless God builds the house, and they pray- oh how rare to find a praying church- the Holy Spirit is very present. My praying PCA experience was more “spirit filled” than my SGM “doing it right” church.

  • facedown said,

    As you can probably tell, I’ve taken my charismatic views into my new church context. The great thing about this new church, though, is that it’s okay to disagree (unlike CLC, where dissenters on doctrinal points were asked to leave). Maybe they’re just humoring me, but they seem to take my ideas seriously, especially when I can back them up with scripture. Granted, I’ll never “make elder” given my views on baptism and the Holy Spirit, but thankfully that’s not the goal of the Christian life.

    One thing I have observed over the past few years is that SGM trains people to believe that members of a church must be in lockstep agreement about pretty much everything. (The pastors don’t necessarily say that – but for whatever reason, people come away with that belief.)

    Out in non-SGM Christianity, though, it is considered normal and perfectly acceptable for a member to hold to opinions and positions that differ, sometimes significantly, with those of his pastors. There is room – and more importantly, grace – for a wide variety of ideas within the framework of biblical Christianity.

    One of the effects of assuming that you have to be in agreement with every aspect of every belief of your church is that it makes leaving your SGM church (where, presumably, everybody DOES believe the same thing about everything) loom like a much more daunting proposition. But once a person moves beyond the expectation of total agreement, he or she will discover that the expectation is actually impossible in the real world of “normal” churches, because out in the real world, everyone knows that 100% agreement is not even possible. Or desirable. Out in the real world, people understand that if a church tries to convey that it is totally unified on every aspect of the Christian life, that unity is going to be more about appearances than actual unity. It will only SEEM like people are in 100% agreement on every ussue, when the reality is that a lot of them are stifling their questions and differences of opinion.

    I am reminded of the statements Dave Harvey made on the SGM blog back when Josh Harris stepped down from the board. He said something like, “Although we continue to be in agreement on 95% of the issues, Joshua feels like he needs to step away right now.” I thought it was so interesting that in SGM thinking, a difference of opinion which Dave Harvey would quantify as “5%” could be enough to make someone feel like he had to leave a leadership position. Out in the non-SGM world, any board that would be in even 95% agreement would be considered abnormally unified. The implication that SGM’s board was expected to be in such agreement that “95%” wasn’t enough indicates that when there WERE differences of opinion, those differences just didn’t get acknowledged or expressed.

  • Breeezey

    For Presbyterian… My apologies, you are correct about Origen and Clement of Alexandria.

    As for Dr. Hal Lindsey I disagree. I have a set of CDs Hal did on Daniel where he went through the book of Daniel paragraph by paragraph and on the very first one he started with Adam and went through the world history and the history of Israel side by side concurrently until after the first hour he was just getting to Daniel chapter one. Over the course of the series he did the same thing showing how Daniel predicted the rise and fall of empires throughout history. Because Hal doesn’t use his earned credentials in his titles (he has a Ph.D in either divinity or theology I forget which) most people don’t know he reads both Hebrew and Greek and has translated both into english. I have his 36 CD series on Revelation. Listening to it was like going through a college level course only without the homework. I remember the stories he told of spending all day with Walter Martin before he passed and them literally teaching each other and discussing stuff all day. Dr. Martin was one of his closest friends. So I’ll disagree with you about Hal Lindsey.

    As for the where the beginnings of where the allegorical teaching of prophecy began you are probably correct. I’m pretty sure it started with when one of the early church fathers while reading through the Old Testament and saw all of the unconditional promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to Israel as a whole and noticed there wasn’t an Israel anymore. Israel as a nation was destroyed in 70 AD. So what do we do with those promises? Give them to the church. Allegorize the rest of prophecy and leave it alone. By the time the reformers came along those errors were fully entrenched and they had other issues on their plates to deal with.

    What does this discussion have to do with SGM? Errors in one area can lead to other areas. Stubborness and rebellion can be contagious and passed on. We see it and it hurts both inside and out. I do remember one of the at prophesies at TAG where the speaker said that time was short and everything that could be shaken would be shaken. The foundations of SGM are being shaken right now. Only what is pure and of god will be left standing.

  • Oswald

    Presby #104 and 5years #110 — :word :goodpost
    I agree and I got some new insights concerning the Holy Spirit from you folks today. Thanks so much.

  • Muckraker

    TookTheBluePill @103

    I so feel for what you are going through. Yes, SGM does get a “strangle-hold” on many of the wives…I was one of them! My husband felt very similar to what you are feeling years ago, before we left SGM. And yes, I am VERY ASHAMED that I judged him as unspiritual, immature and even lazy! I want to encourage you that there IS hope, it may take time (perhaps years-I am sorry to have to say) but God can use your angst, your humility and your gentleness in this trial to help your wife be set free from the false practices and concepts of SGM.

    Others have shared similar advice here before and it has really helped my husband and me to heal from the spiritual abuse–

    Take your Sundays to relax alone with your Creator. If you can pray, pray–if you can’t even pray, just BE. And I firmly believe our loving, perfect Father will gently help you in your time of deep struggle.

    Walk in nature (God’s cathedral) and allow Him to woo and heal you from the inside out. (This too takes lots of time.) When you can read the word, allow the Holy Spirit, your Helper, to help you see all those familiar scriptures in a new, clear light–devoid of man’s interpretations and twistings.

    Keep reaching out and communicating your thoughts and struggles to your brothers and sisters of like mind and faith–here and sgmrefuge are good places to start. There ARE other fellowships and churches that are healing too–visit and don’t feel pressure in any way to join. Meet new friends and allow true fellowship to birth out of real friendship (not like the fabricated/forced “accountability” of Care Groups can be) It will happen naturally, as you heal.

    Take your time and allow yourself to be really honest with how you really feel–for so long we all stuffed our true feelings and thoughts under spiritual tyranny! The Psalms have taken a whole new meaning to me–there is so much raw, honest emotion in them. God can soothe you through them.

    Many of us have been walking through this process too, and are finding healing and a rebirth of our true, simple faith in Jesus. I believe that you will find yourself back, eventually, to your First Love–He can bring you to that place. (And also eventually, your wife)

    There is hope! Just this year, God has helped me to repent on a much deeper level to my husband of how I misjudged him all those years ago. Please, my brother, don’t despair…

  • Persona

    BluePill 103

    It can take years for the blinders to fall-off. It took about four years for my spouse and me to finally be on the same page. It helped immensely for both of us to read the blog accounts and begin to discuss them together. There is so much about sgm that is subliminal and hard to pin down. It is challenging to fully see their manipulation tactics without the help of others. I encourage you to continue to pray and, read and have discussions and we will also pray for you. Do not fear; God is at work.

  • presbyterian

    RE:Kris: I too am struck by the ability to not be uniform in most churches and that is okay. I just went through my elder exam last week and I lifted numerous places where i would have a difference with the Westminster. One in partiuclar one of the elders said something along the lines of, I disagree with you, and that thinking concerns me a little bit, but it is within the bounds or what is allowed, so that is fine. I remember thinking on how if I was in SGM, there is no way that would happen, and the ability to speak up and state differences, and to minister through them, is something I know cherish. One of the blessing that was seen of having me on the session was that I see things from different perspectives. That is needed, we need to be challenged by other views, not put our head in the sand and just parrot whatever the senior pastor or pope cj says. I have told the story several times before of how when we had our exit interview to leave CLC, we said one of our concerns was that there was not a lot of scripture interpreting scripture, just statements about a passage that were to be taken on the pastors say-so. We wanted to be able to make sure what was said was true and talked about how we thought Christians were supposed to double check what the preaching was, referencing Acts 17 and how the Bereans were praised for how they examined what Paul taught against scripture to make sure it was true, and so shouldn’t we be doing the same thing. The pastor, how is now one of the apostle board, told us that he didn’t think the passage meant that, and pretty much dismissed the idea of a lowly congregant making sure the pastor was preaching what scripture says.

  • Whirlwind

    Have SGM’s problems shaken my faith?

    To the extent my faith was in SGM and its leaders, yes. Fortunately, what cannot be shaken still remains – Jesus radically changed my life long before I knew anything about SGM, so I go back to Him.

    To the extent my faith was in national personalities (i.e. Mohler, Dever, Duncan), yes. Fortunately, what cannot be shaken still remains – the Scriptures speak more clearly than any man can, so I go back to them.

    I am discouraged when I see care groups turning to books or sermons instead of studying through the Scriptures directly. Those things have their place, but it’s like eating processed foods instead of fresh fruits and vegetables. In moderation, they won’t kill you and you can probably even survive off them for a long time, but your health will suffer over the long term.

    I’m also discouraged to see how many people hear the official SGM reports on their progress and don’t really seem to care too much one way or the other. I think there’s too much presumption concerning the godly character and humility of those who serve in leadership. If you listened to Josh Harris’ recent sermon on the congregation’s role in church governance, you heard him share about one woman in his congregation that didn’t want any involvement – she was just a dumb sheep and trusted the elders to run everything. Fortunately, he corrected her.

    I like the direction CLC is moving based on what I see from a distance. Anyone know if other SGM churches are moving in the same direction? (Mine is not.)

    Remaining in my SGM church for now, I try to make a point to challenge some things I hear in care group by either asking questions or opening up verses in ways people may not have considered. A lot of people have heard some verses preached in a sermon and made the mistake of assuming the explanation given was correct or complete, but expanding context around some verses can help bring correction or at least soften an adamant position on secondary matters. (Sadly, this problem is not limited to SGM. I experienced it in my previous church as well.)

    I pray SGM will continue to be shaken until only those things that can’t be shaken remain.


    I’m sorry to hear of your discouragement. I know there have been times I’ve really wanted to quit church altogether, but I’ve been in that same place prior to involvement with SGM – frustrated with deficiencies and heavy-handed decision making, cynical about leaders lacking biblical qualifications, etc. (Granted SGM takes those things to a new level.)

    I would encourage you to consider Jesus and Jesus alone. Think about times you’ve seen him work in your life prior to SGM if you knew Him outside that context. I’ve found it helpful to remember those genuine believers who helped me early on in my faith – men and women who sacrificed a great deal and had nothing to gain by serving me. I’m saddened by things I see in SGM; I’m concerned for many still swallowing blue pills; but I’m also hopeful that a loving and mighty Savior can overcome all of it.

  • Fried Fish

    If I ever find the perfect church, I won’t join it. That would ruin it :)

    Another Joe said “And there are hundreds and hundreds of good churches out their that would love to take you in and help you through the healing process.”

    I’m pretty sure AJ didn’t mean it that way, but if you’re already feeling like you’ve been “taken in” by an abusive system, maybe being taken in again is the last thing you need. At least for a while. My abusive system wasn’t a church, but it shared some things in common with SGM.

    When I fell apart and walked away from God about 15 years ago, I was fortunate enough to be very involved in a fairly normal church. That meant there were people who were praying for me until years later when God regained my attention.

    When I fell apart and walked away from God about 15 years ago, I was unfortunate enough to be very involved in a fairly normal church. That meant there were people who criticized my every move, questioned if I was ever a believer, and turned around and walked the other way when they saw me coming.

    That duality exists in any “fairly normal” church. Actually, the one I was part of was a pretty good one. I left because I didn’t see much relevance for my life there anymore.

    Churches are full of people. Loving, kind, caring, prayerful, encouraging, hopeful, indifferent, spiritually-superior, judgemental, backbiting, hateful people. They’re a great place to live out faith in community – but sometimes a real tough place to hear from God. The “still, small voice” gets drowned out by all the noise and activity. If your life has been wrapped up in an organization, and the organization turned out to be just so much smoke and mirrors, maybe it’s time to just give it a rest. And that’s okay. Because ultimately, it’s not about the organization. It’s about the people. And if the people don’t care about you if you’re not part of the organization, well &%*!$ them. Please excuse my French.

    The answers to many of my questions came from spending much time alone with my thoughts, a Bible, and lots of angry (and other) conversations with God and with myself. 15 years later, as I’m thinking about getting involved in a church again, it’s not going to be because they’re more right than anyone else – I already know they’re not. It’s not going to be because they have famous people on stage – :barf: It’s not going to be because they love bomb new people, or ignore them – although I might prefer the latter. I already know it’s going to be a church full of hypocrites – I’ll just be one of the crowd.

    It’s going to be because they take seriously the Lord’s concern for the homeless, the poor, the hungry, the outcasts, the sick, the prisoners, and those who can’t get the time of day from the “respectable” folks in our society – and because they are making every effort to help them and give them hope. Just because they need it. I want to be a part of a community of believers that does that. To me, it’s more important than being right. And it took 15 years to get here.

    Please don’t be too hard on yourselves. Or too impatient. No need to continue the abuse.

  • Former CLC'er

    I remember clearly when I first left CLC, I would sit around with friends in my new church and have discussions about various points of view – and it felt so freeing. I couldn’t believe that people in typical churches did that. Unfortunately, it can still be difficult for me, even 12 years later, to tolerate disagreement at times. CLC had the facade of total disagreement, but obviously, through reading the blogs, it was total, nor was it hearfelt by all.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Mr. Presby. #104:
    I’m sorry, you’re going to have to illuminate me on where I said the Presbyterian church did not believe in the Holy Spirit. Most, if not all denominations, believe in the Holy Spirit. After all, He’s part of the Trinity! That said, not everyone agrees on what Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to do. Some even parcel out the part of His mandate that they like and trashcan the rest.

    In all my travels in Charismatic circles I have never seen the disrespect for the Holy Spirit that you describe there. You must have been traveling in a different circle or are speaking second or third hand. Nomatter, in all the charismatic circles I’ve had the privelege to be in the Holy Spirit was treated with deep respect.

  • Persona

    Dave Harvey announced the a SGM new governing board today. I can’t believe he said that this board was “affirmed through a feedback process open to ordained pastors of SG churches.” Ha! Maybe we should ask those ordained pastors what their feedback was?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Took The Blue Pill, I am so sorry for the situation you are in right now. Others have all given enough great advice-I just want to say I will be praying for you and your wife. Doesn’t it often work that way with couples, that one ‘sees something’ before the other, causing the one to pray harder, drawing them closer to God during the time of transition? It is never easy, but I will pray God opens your wife’s eyes, and strengthens you in Faith and Patience during the wait, giving you wisdom in the best ways to encourage her.

  • WaitingPatiently

    Ozy – still think the Interim Head Honchos didn’t spit on the line of “Stop & Listen”?

  • presbyterian

    I was referring to your quote about modern churches in post 112:” The trouble with that is most churches that do infact have classes, stress denominational mindset over scripture. What is left is for the believer to find out on his or her own. That’s not dangerous, in spite of the fact that the professionals will tell you it is. You see, it you depend on the Holy Spirit to lead you in such study, you will find that the scriptures will be opened up to you in a marvelous way. After all, the Holy Spirit is tha author of the scriptures. What better teacher to learn from!”
    You at least implied that denominational churches don’t want the Holy Spirit to have a roll in bible study, I was just responding that the Westminster specifically says that the Holy Spirit has the ultimate roll.

    While I do have quite a variety of Charismatic church experiences, and I would say that there seems to be a tendency to focus on telling what to do in council (or hearing a word of God) instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to convict us through scripture, i was specifically talking about SGM, which i think that sentiment is most clearly prevalent. I don’t think it is unrelated that the shepherding movement, which clearly SGM came out of, is a charismatic church movement.
    Now none of this is to clearly speak against gifting, and I am not a staunch cessationist by any means, but I think that this tendency arises the more the focus is on the “Special” gifts of the Holy Spirit and the less on the more prevalent roll of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a necessity for those who are charismatic, it is just a tendency.
    SGM keeps the low view of the Holy Spirit and has now removed itself from the Special gifts as well, and has an extremely low view of the Holy Spirit, which has lead to an extremely high view of their leadership, in my opinion.

  • BrokenHearted

    In answer to this post – Yes. It has not severed my relationship with Jesus, but I am questioning everything I have ever been taught because I know that so much of it is tainted with legalism and…just innacuracy? I am not sure I would say lies because I really don’t believe the men who taught were trying to deceive anyone, but there are definitely things I have believed for most of my Christian life that I am just not sure are what God intended or what The Bible actually MEANS! I think that is the hardest thing is that my husband can quote off scriptures and back up things because “the Bible says it”, but… I can often feel like scripture has been twisted or misinterpreted. And it can be really hard for me a lot of the time.

    A sidenote for the letter signed by 13 churches – I asked my pastors why our SGM church we are in right now did not sign and I found out that my pastors didn’t sign the new church agreement, they are not giving money to SGM right now, and they have some serious concerns about the new board and the way SGM is going at this moment. The reason they didn’t sign the letter from Fairfax was because their concerns are not exactly what Fairfax listed and they wanted to write their own more personal letter. But, they supported Fairfax writing the letter and thought it was a good move. :) So… seriously ask your pastor if you want to know why they didn’t sign – their answers might surprise you. :) Or not… they might just be kool-aid drinkers :) :koolaid

  • KAZ

    The current SGM problems do not shake what little faith I have left. What devistated my faith was being in an SGM church to begin with……I hate to remember it but there was definately a time when I thought it impossible for me to be saved becuase I did not fit the SGM mold. Single unattractive guy with none of the talents they were looking for …… it was a horrible time. All the current problems with SGM do is prove to me that putting my faith in a wacked SGM culture was wrong.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Breeezey-112, Thank you for the second half! If we say in our tenants of faith in churches, that we believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, infallible and authoritative in all matters of faith and practice, it seems strange to me that we would question those words, change them, add to them, delete them or re-interpret them. But 2000 years is a long time, and we have come to accept the false teachings as orthodox. Hitler quoted Luther, who grew up in a bigoted culture from the Catholics, who got it from folks in Rome before there was a Roman Catholic Church, and in modern history, it wasn’t just 6 million Jews who died because of it, millions of Christians did too, in WW11 alone.

  • Somewhereintime


    Don’t let SGM, nor the world, define who you are. You are specifically defined by the Creator of the Universe. He calls YOU His child. So you are royalty in His view.

    Whether or not we are attractive according to the world’s view makes no difference. The Apostle Paul alludes to his own statue regarding how he appeared (some say he was very short, bald … obviously not a lady’s man). It didn’t matter. He was the Lord’s servant and Paul’s crowns in heaven will be numerous.

    Define your life as a servant. That’s where REAL joy and fullfillment are found. It’s not found in looks. It’s not found in money. It’s not found in your job or education (sorry homeschool moms at SGM who brag about their kids SAT scores/the school they are attending/etc.).

    We are ONLY called to brag about what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross. That’s it! All else is sin!

    Think about what Jesus said about the widow who put a “mite” in to the collection box. It was EVERYTHING she had. He knew it. He knows you. You are called to please Him and Him alone.

    The “gospel” that you heard about at SGM was tainted because it was “justified” by works of man. Biblically they WOULD NOT SAY THAT. However, their actions spoke deep to where their hearts were.

    Spend the remainder of your life reaching out to the “castaways” in life. I’m one. I get much joy in seeing someone who I reach out to because ONE person cares for them. It pleases the Lord and it brings joy to that person’s life … and to mine.

  • facedown2000

    Looking at the new board for SGM made me think about The Who.

    I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
    We don’t get fooled again

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss

  • Let My People Go

    Took the Blue Pill,
    I am so sorry for your pain. I can only imagine how overwhelming it all must feel.

    I read Philippians 1:6 this morning before I read your comment…”He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I am believing this for you as your sister in Christ. This is a good site for support and learning. Keep reading. God has used this site and the people who comment here to help me get well. I prayed for you and your wife today…for wisdom, conviction, healing, favor, patience, peace and comfort. I read here regularly and pray as I read. I will continue to pray.

  • Lmalone

    I am always hoping and praying these situations “shake someone’s faith”. I pray they go home, lock the doors, shut the blinds and cry out to God to teach them the truth in His Word. To take away all the filters they have been taught on understanding His Word. Pray for the Holy Spirit, the BEST TEACHER, as Jesus said, will teach you.

    This will take time but it is so very worth it for your life. And you are NOT in sin for not going to church while doing this. He wants you to know HIM. Not CJ, Mohler, Piper, etc. But HIM!

    Discover Him on your own. NO filters, no preachers…turn them off! We are to have a ‘relationship” with God in the flesh.

    Once you have a handle on the truth in the entire pericope then you start listening again. With NEW EARS to hear both error and truth.

    Happy Hunting for HIs Truth!!

  • Rick Malament

    For the record, 12 years in a SGM did not shake my faith, however I was seriously disappointed in my lack of discernment and self-serving attitude (pride) in wanting to please those who God (at the time) appointed to watch over my soul. If I’ve learned anything these past few years on this blog it’s to live like a Berean, study the word, and trust God for discernment. I’ve no one to blame but myself, HOWEVER, there is now amazing GRACE!! :D

  • Don

    RE Rick #132 — Good to see you here, Rick. I enjoyed your friendship across the many, many meetings we both attended. A lot of good things occurred in our men’s group. And, we actually brought and read aloud from our Bibles, as I remember. So thankful to the Spirit for removing the veil that CLC laid over so many scriptures.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    I will most likely be leaving CLC and have visited a couple churches so far. So in terms of responding to Kris’ question:

    In terms of devastation, my faith has not been affected. I enjoy digging into God’s word more than ever. But what has been affected is my trust of pastors. I now initially look at church leaders with suspicion, and assume that they are just like CLC pastors whose primary concern is ‘spin’. I wonder what legal battles they are fighting behind the scenes. I wonder what his agenda is, wonder what products he’s trying to peddle..

    I know though, that any pastor worth his salt in the CLC area will patiently allow me to work through my doubts and skepticism. I’m sure I’ll be fine over time.

    But for now, I just have this knee jerk response of suspicion and skepticism towards pastors……

  • B.R. Clifton

    Presby. #124:
    The Charismatic Movement didn’t foster the shepherding movement, but it was caught up in it when the so called shepherding doctrine swept the church back in the 70’s and early 80’s. BTW, the shepherding movement was called “Hypersubmission” where it was manifested outside the Charismatic circles. nomater the name, it was all the same under the surface. It did find notariety in the Charismatic Movement through the teachings of four individuals with whom the movement was identified in Charismatic circles. These men eventually repented publically of their invovement in the doctrine and repudiated it. When closely analyzed, the shepherding movement was and is decidely anti-charismatic in that it wrests the leadership from the Holy Spirit and places it in the hands of men. This all occured at about the same time the Holy Spirit seemed to back away from the Charismatic Movement. As I said, men were taking control and relying more on newly written rules and regulations rather than the firm foundation of scripture which was a hallmark of the early Charismatic history.
    Does all of this sound familiar? It should. It’s the same thing that happened and continues to happen within SGM. While shepherding or Hypersubmission was disavowed by many Charismatic groups, others moved away from the Holy Spirit gifted movement and morphed into something else. SGM was/is only one of those.

  • Deuteronomy 32:35

    It is difficult many times to reconcile the difference between who we thought these men were, and who they have now shown themselves to be. When we were in the process of leaving our SGM church, the pastors had discussions with us along the lines of saying that we should leave in such a way so as not to repudiate our long time involvement with SGM, especially in the minds of our children. I wonder what happened to that concern on their part, as they have shown they have made a mockery of the church and movement, and trampled under foot the Gospel in order to simply keep their jobs…for love of money they have done all that they have done.

    But my faith in Christ is stronger than ever, and by His grace I have a much more firm grasp on the reign of grace. My family and I were set free by God when He led us to leave, and the light has gotten brighter every day since. I remember how I felt when I left the meeting where I told our pastor we were leaving and he could pull our membership…I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I am…and we all are…free in Christ Jesus…THANK GOD!!!

  • Moniker

    Deuteronomy 32:35 #136 – My sentiments exactly! I had that same feeling driving home from my final Sunday meeting at our SGM church. Kinda like a slave being set free. And it has only gotten better as I’ve left the religious bondage behind and have been getting to know my heavenly father in a much more intimate way. The revelations of SGM’s “problems” (I’d probably use a stronger term) were shocking and hard to process but I thank God every day for bringing this to light and opening my eyes to see the truth. He is doing a great work of purifying his church. He is the one doing the shaking and setting right what man has royally screwed up. My faith in him has only grown stronger as a result.

  • old timer

    Lmalone, # 131 excellent post. So true.

    My faith was not shaken by sgm –just showed me you can’t rely on, depend on or put your faith in men or a system.

    When we want a king ‘over’ us we sure get it, don’t we?

    chorus lyrics from 3rd Day–Cry Out to Jesus

    There is hope for the helpless
    Rest for the weary
    Love for the broken heart
    There is grace and forgiveness
    Mercy and healing
    He’ll meet you wherever you are
    Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

  • Happymom

    Old timer,

    #138 – :clap

  • Stunned

    You all are a great group of people here. I love the care I am witnessing between ya’ll.

  • Muckraker

    Comfort from “In Christ Alone…”
    And as He stands in victory
    Sin’s curse has lost it’s grip on me

    For I am His and He is mine

    Bought with the precious blood of Christ

    No guilt in life, no fear in death
    This is the power of Christ in me
    From life’s first cry to final breath
    Jesus commands my destiny
    No power of hell, no scheme of man
    Can ever pluck me from His hand

    Till He returns or calls me home
    Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
    Till He returns or calls me home
    Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
    Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

  • “Deuteronomy 32:25″ said –

    It is difficult many times to reconcile the difference between who we thought these men were, and who they have now shown themselves to be.

    This is a sentiment that comes through in a lot of people’s responses to SGM’s issues. I think it sums up a big part of what has been so troublesome to the SGMer who was taught to “believe the best” no matter what.

    Yes, we know that “nobody’s perfect,” in the same way that we know “no church is perfect.” But the way SGM set itself up actually did require something approaching perfection, both from pastors and the organization itself. I can remember how angry and indignant some people used to get when we’d discuss CJ and his lack of real formal accountability, for example. They would defend CJ, either by asserting that he totally did have accountability through the circle of men with whom he’d surrounded himself – guys like Dave Harvey and (at the time) Brent Detwiler. Or they’d say that CJ’s Reformed Big Dog friends provided accountability, that his Reformed Big Dog friends were keeping an eye on the SGM store, so to speak.

    Or they’d rhapsodize about what a man of character CJ was, and how much humility he had.

    Basically – the real underlying idea, no matter how they’d try to dress it up, was that it couldn’t be true that CJ didn’t have formal accountability, since he appeared to stand for the importance of accountability. And if it did happen to be true that CJ actually answered to no one, it didn’t matter anyway because CJ was so close to perfect that there wouldn’t be anything about his leadership or his life to question.

    In other words, “no church is perfect” – but SGM is about as close to perfect as you can get. “Nobody’s perfect” – but CJ is so above reproach that he might as well be perfect.

    It’s an interesting thing, to observe the ultra-high expectations SGMers were taught to have of their leaders and their church organization. So many SGMers have sincerely believed that their leaders simply could not have made the mistakes people here have said they made…because even though “nobody’s perfect” and “no church is perfect,” they secretly believe that their leaders actually were nearly perfect, and their church actually was very close to perfection.

    So when it came to light that the system did indeed leave room for a lack of formal accountability, and that Brent Detwiler and the RBDs couldn’t really question CJ about much, I think a lot of people had to majorly adjust what they believed about their leaders and their church organization. What they’d assumed to be true was not actually true. What they’d believed about their leaders wasn’t actually reality all of the time. They realize that being required to “believe the best” without some sort of reciprocal formal accountability all too easily leads to unchecked power that corrupts.

    The SGM system required members to put an inappropriate level of faith in their leaders. Even now, as we watch the SGM board be put in place with tightly limited feedback from member churches, it would appear that members are still being asked to “believe the best” and trust their leaders to build a new system that will…require less trust?

    “Deuteronomy” also said,

    …they have shown they have made a mockery of the church and movement, and trampled under foot the Gospel in order to simply keep their jobs…for love of money they have done all that they have done.

    Although we talk about money from time to time, I honestly don’t think that money has been the primary motivator for a lot of the guys. I think it’s more about influence. They want to maintain the image of the SGM organization – to promote that image – because they believe that the better SGM’s image is, the more influence SGM has, and then the more the “gospel” is being advanced. (“Gospel” is in quotes because I believe they have confused promoting SGM’s image with promoting the actual good news of Jesus.)

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d say that money comes into play only as much as pastors are limited in their ability to provide for their families without their SGM jobs.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    “they secretly believe that their leaders actually were nearly perfect, and their church actually was very close to perfection.”

    In the circles I traveled, it wasn’t secret, it was open. Flagrant. The pastors had more humility and integrity and truth than anybody else in the whole freaking Christian world. I heard devoted (nice, caring, loving the Lord and bible people) members say that.

    We wanted them to be nearly perfect. In our own insecurities and inferiority complexes and feelings of inadequacy, it was wonderful to be around the great ones and get their approval, and feel like part of the first group since the book of Acts that was doing it right. We wanted it that way. We no more wanted them to be flawed humans than a six year old wants his hero Daddy to be flawed. We wanted men to look up to.

    Ugh. God, forgive us and restore us in your mercy.

  • Kris said (Post 142):

    Although we talk about money from time to time, I honestly don’t think that money has been the primary motivator for a lot of the guys. I think it’s more about influence. They want to maintain the image of the SGM organization – to promote that image – because they believe that the more influence SGM has, the more the “gospel” is being advanced. (“Gospel” is in quotes because I believe they have confused promoting SGM’s image with promoting the gospel of Jesus.),

    Another good post.

    In addition to what you said, I am sure there is some “face saving’ for SGM Leaders as well these leaders still being deceived in their mind about how egregious their problems are and how egregious their sin is. Just look at how the leaders were able to accept that C.J. Mahaney blackmailed Larry Tomczak and not impose any consequences on C.J. Mahaney. To appease themeselves they called it “coercion.”

  • Lost in (cyber) Space


    You are so right! We were told the higher ups were so humble, so wise, had so much integrity, etc. It was not a huge jump to believe they were nearly perfect. Add to that the distance that was created between CJ (and the other big wigs) and the Regular SGM member, what else were we to think? We did not REALLY know them. We trusted what the leaders directly above us said about them and what the big wigs said about each other. Sad thing is… I am not sure my CG leader or my average small church pastor knew CJ and Dave, etc. any more than I did!

    And yes, there is the truth that I wanted them to be perfect. I came out of a messed up background where I believed all men were dogs (sorry guys). When I came to CLC in the mid-80’s and saw these men who loved God and their families, who seemed so wise and all-together, it was radical to me. I wanted and needed to believe they were who they portrayed themselves to be. God really used it for good. I began to trust again and then ended up marrying a wonderful guy (although not perfect :wink: .

    It is very hard to see these guys for who they have become, for I truly believe that early on they really did love God more than reputation.

  • 2+2=4 again

    Yellow is a Happy Color-134,

    So glad you’re getting OUT and visiting other churches already! We prayed for each other, I’ve been praying for every person still trapped in this and similar church situations, I’m sure you have, too. Please keep praying for our family. I think you’re right to be suspicious, as you call it, I’d call it being a Berean and allowing that God-given discernment to kick in. I’m learning that I can rest in Christ over this whole thing, since the battle belongs to the Lord, and it is a spiritual one, not against specific people, whom He loves dearly.

  • Let My People Go

    I had a good friend in my SG church whose husband was “chosen” by the pastors several times to give testimonies on a Sunday morning that would highlight some personal growth in his Christian life. It usually was about a book or a conversation with a leader that had helped him. He recently told me that there was a part of him that really enjoyed the “power” that he felt when he was able to stand up in front of everyone and tell them the “right way” to do some part of Christianity. To this day he stands by his own personal conviction that it is the desire for power that drives the leaders of SG.

  • It is difficult many times to reconcile the difference between who we thought these men were, and who they have now shown themselves to be.

    Another thing that leaders did that contributed toward members being deceived about the leaders was that the leaders in my experience (and others have reported) never have admitted any real struggles with sin they have had. As has been said before, the leaders would boast about being the “worst sinner” they knew and admit they are “imperfect” but never shared any real sin, struggle or imperfection. Thus the SGM Leaders presented themselves as not having issues like regular members have.

  • PBG

    Don’t know if anyone has seen this yet but this past Sunday CJ gave a sermon. I’m guessing he’s preparing for his new church.

  • Freedom

    Kris – another great post. SGM’s current problems don’t shake my faith. However, when I left the then PDI my faith was completely shattered and broken down. And it was something that needed to happen in order to build a real Faith on what Jesus actually taught – he that believes in him shall have everlasting life. My entire foundation of what I believe is now centered around that. No works, no additional “sanctification” process, no “submitting” to so and so and confessing my “sins” (most of which are made up sins in SGM anyway to keep the members under control).

    As hard as the experience of leaving was, it needed to happen. I knew I had to leave long before I finally left. I just didn’t think it would be as hard as it was. I am very thankful to God that I have the Faith I have now.

    On a side note, Wartburg Watch posted about a pastor fired for CJ’s buddy Driscoll’s church. Interesting to see that Driscoll runs his church exactly the same way CJ does and if Mars Hill isn’t a cult, it’s at least a high demand group controlled by an ego-maniac.

  • PBG

    Thanks for sharing information about the message Mahaney gave this past Sunday. I haven’t listened to the message yet but it is interesting to note that this message is suppose to be about Luke 18:9-14. I have shown the passage below.

    If anything, IMO C.J. Mahaney has been more like the Pharisee than the tax collector. The tax collector admitted his sin. An example of Mahaney acting more like a Pharisee was the speech Mahaney gave at the Pastors Conference. There really hasn’t been much of a confession by C.J. Mahaney or a “humbling” of himself since Brent’s documents came out.

    Luke 18:9-14
    New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    The Pharisee and the Publican

    9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee (D)stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • Persona


    I wonder if everyone on the blogs sent CJ a full-length mirror it would help him see himself a little better?

    The Solid Rock message is so concerning. To me, it clearly demonstrates his self-deception pattern.

    Somehow, CJ does not think of himself as a pharisee, even though he bears a pretty good likeness. Amazingly he even asks his listeners see themselves as pharisees and they clap, and laugh at various times…

    He includes an example of how he creates a ‘category’, for anyone interested.

    One thing I was grateful for as I listened, is that there is no more velcro-hold on me by SGM-thought. I’m no longer hooked.

    CJ, if you are listening: God does not want us focused so closely on our sin as you would presume. Becoming more like Jesus is simply not a grueling process. And He focuses more on love, than sin.

  • intheNickoftime

    Cj said that all of us are no better than he is. That we, when we focus on HIS sin are doing the same thing as the Pharisee!

    BUT he also said that he/we/tax collectors have all been justified so there is no reason to dwell on our sin any longer. We are changed!

    Nice message. Real slow starting but it gets better a little over half way in. He says it is not good to be preoccupied with our sins, but we should proclaim and celebrate our justification in Christ! (Isn’t that a change?)

  • Bridget

    IntheNickoftime @ 153 –

    That is a change. It is a good change. It means little coming from him since the past 30 years has SHOWN us that he does not actually live what he teaches. He has yet to apologize to SGM as a whole. I don’t think he has any business asking anyone to follow him. That may seem harsh to some. It seems like common sense to me.

  • Argus

    @Nick, #153 —

    I didn’t listen to the message, but, assuming your statement is correct, that CJ “says it is not good to be preoccupied with our sins, but we should proclaim and celebrate our justification in Christ! (Isn’t that a change?)”

    I would say —

    Yes, and it only took him hundreds of posters making that case thousands times on the blogs these last few years, severed relationships with men who were once his close friends and allies, several criminally-botched abuse cases on his watch, hundreds of thousands of donated SGM dollars for an elaborate crisis-management effort involving new Boards and panels and outside agencies, hundreds of scathing AOR interviews, mainstream press articles, sons-in-laws leaving their jobs, behind-the-scenes deals with influential friends, packing up and moving an entire ministry cross-country (minus the ones who lose their jobs in the process), hundreds of members leaving and more donors ceasing to give their tithes, — oh, and a couple of thousand years of church history and sound doctrine commonly understood by most of Christianity.

    And for that, watch, CJ gets applause an the intrepid apostle ‘adjusting’ the doctrine of the confused sheep who ‘misunderstood’ his intent, and for leading SGM into a ‘fuller understanding’ of ‘the Gospel.’

    And the people will rejoice in the good news.

    And CJ will be a hero.

    And he’ll believe it.

    And he won’t even see the irony of the whole mess he created. He thinks he is worth it. The mess was the other guys’ fault. His glory is in seizing it as an opportunity to reposition himself as leader of a new-and-improved model.

    *shaking my head*

  • Bridget

    Argus –

    You forgot something at the end :barf:

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Argus, 155….

    A+ on your english essay. A+ on your psych report. A+ on your one pager for the cults topic in Religion class. A+ on understanding sociopaths and the people who enable them. You win the BINGO prize.

    Why is it soooo hard to say “I was wrong, I am sorry”?

  • Persona

    I think it is a little audacious for CJ to talk about sin at all, especially to make mention of other peoples’ sins. It’s also pretty audacious for him to borrow any pulpits, right now.

  • acme

    In the Washington Post today: an article about sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community in Baltimore (where people were told to go to the religious leaders, not the police — hmm, sounds familiar) had the following good news:

    “Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) has introduced a bill that would withhold federal funds from states that fail to enact laws requiring all adults to report abuse to police. Maryland state Sen. Nancy Jacobs, (R-Harford) introduced a bill recently that could make failing to report sexual abuse a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. And in New York, State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey is promoting a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims, both for criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.”

  • Happymom


    #159, That is good news, thanks for sharing that. It’s only a matter of time before these antiquated laws are changed.

  • katie

    I’m wondering if there are people from Solid Rock who are not pro-SGM and how they are feeling now that their church is becoming the new “mothership” as CLC was formerly called. Does anyone know if there is upheaval at that church or if everyone is going along with it?

  • Persona

    Katie 161

    CJ would only dare to show-up at churches where seldom is heard a discouraging word. No matter how independent Curt says he is, there is likely very little dissent (openly expressed) at Solid Rock. It’s a tiny church; a fraction the size of CLC.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    2+2——-let’s both keep praying! Thanks for your encouragement!

    Argus in 155———So so good. As you said, this is soooo truly “the mess he created”. The carnage is astronomical, and it is so friggin’ sad!

    …..and then there is CLC….who currently refers to CJ as “our brother”, and other terms of endearment……

  • SamMcGee

    Posted to the Apex blog yesterday in a post announcing the seating of the new board:

    “They will process the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report that comes out within the next month or two.”

    So it sounds like a release by the end of March is unlikely.

    And this:

    “We recognize that SGM is now a fragile movement, and its future is not certain. Yet, we also believe that there is enough like-mindedness in enough churches and leaders that it will endure through this challenging season”

    The use of the word “enough” before the words “churches and leaders” leads me to believe that the context is in response to the 16 churches and 70 pastors. At the very least, it references a schism.

    The post was made by Daniel Baker. He started the SGM polity blog in January 2012 with Phil Sasser, he authored the 54 page paper released on Feb 3 , 2012 called “A Defense of and Model For Apostolic Government” and, if I am not mistaken, he is Phil Sasser’s son-in-law.

    Here is a link

  • I listened to the entire sermon PBG linked to in comment #149 (the sermon CJ gave at Solid Rock Church this past Sunday, I believe). Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:

    — I have to say that – to my surprise – I did not find anything actually unsound in this teaching. “intheNICKoftime” had said,

    Cj said that all of us are no better than he is. That we, when we focus on HIS sin are doing the same thing as the Pharisee!

    So, I was prepared to hear CJ telling people that they should not be looking at his sin. But unless I missed something, or unless the message has been edited, I don’t believe there was any such statement made in this sermon.

    — That being said, I was very surprised at how really basic the message was…and how CJ was somehow able to expand one simple thought into something like 45 minutes.

    — The main idea of the message was that we should be like the tax collector, rather than the Pharisee, in how we see ourselves, always, as “the worst sinners we know.” But at the same time, we’re not supposed to remain focused on our sin. We should instead be thrilled about the grace we received as we depart, justified.

    That sounds great, of course, and it appears to be something of a shift for CJ, to end by telling people they should NOT be so focused on their sinfulness. And yet if his main point is to draw attention to our now-justified status, he still spends an inordinate amount of time – most of the sermon – emphasizing our need to be aware of our own sin as opposed to being like the self-righteous Pharisee. He even says at one point that if we cannot always say, “I am the worst sinner I know,” then we are in effect Pharisees. I guess I find the double-speak sort of tiresome.

    — It is just so jarring to me, every time CJ refers to “the Savior” instead of “Jesus.” Aside from one quick reference to “Jesus Christ,” CJ never used the simple name of Jesus in this message. Not once. It was always “the Savior.” For someone who is trying to tell people (in the last 5 minutes or so of the message) that they can rejoice in their justification and NOT still be standing “afar off,” constantly referring to Jesus as “the Savior” is very off-putting. It’s odd. And, as a random side effect, it comes across as being deliberately overly formal – which makes CJ sound pompous.

    — CJ makes the blanket statement at the beginning that the purpose of this parable was to “surprise the listener.” Yet he never backs this assertion up or explains where he gets this idea from. We’re just supposed to accept this statement as fact – that the main (I think he might even have said “sole,” but I’m too lazy and weary of listening to CJ’s clipped speech cadences to go back and check) purpose of this parable was to “surprise us.”

    — Aside from the passage CJ reads at the beginning, there is no additional citing of scripture. He engages in the usual SGM practice of quoting other Christian authors, including Spurgeon, but he does nothing to draw more deeply from the Bible itself.

    — If CJ does start a new SGM church, and if his church draws a crowd, it will be solely on the basis of his reputation and celebrity, and NOT on the depth or profoundness of his teaching, unless he changes his tactics. Like I said, this message was a whole lot of words and very little depth. I get the feeling that CJ is totally resting on his laurels – taking a quick devotional thought (“Keep your focus on your own sin and then on God’s grace”) and using a whole lot of dramatic pauses and talk of “gratitude” and “categories” and other random fluff to turn it into a feature-length sermon.

    Bottom line: 45 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back! :D

  • Jayson

    We have a couple of friends who still go to SRC. From what we have been able to determine, JL has done a great job at spinning the situation with CJ. Our friends think it is great that CJ is there, he has weathered those “false accusations” and “he is standing strong”. To hear them speak, it sounded like a Catholic church having the Pope take of residence there.
    I did ask if they ever read of the documents from Brent. The reply was they would not read one man’s opinion, who clearly has an “axe to grind”. Some just don’t want to be confused by the facts, :scratch I guess.

  • Breeezey

    It seems to me that CJ left CLC with his tail between his legs and took his whole family with him. First he ran to Capital Hill Baptist. Then his SILs left CLC to join him. Then he switched his membership to Solid Rock. (If I remember correctly Solid Rock was literally stolen from the founding pastor right after the bldg was completed.) CJ previously had installed one of his closest friends there as senior pastor, John Loftness. (BTW… why does no one in SGM use the title Reverend?) Within a short period of time his whole family ran away. Seriously, CJ is literally fleeing the state. (Who was that masked man?) The only one left is Grant Layman and I’m pretty sure he was dropped from the invite list on Thanksgiving and Christmas. If I remember correctly at one time CJ’s brother Bill was a member at CLC. Anyone seem him there recently?

    Anyway… I have $20 that says Larry Tomczak preaches at CLC before CJ does. With a side bet of $20 that CJ doesn’t preach at CLC before 2013 or 14(speaking at the PC doesn’t count).

    CJ likes the reformers so he may see himself as the second coming of Jonathan Edwards who was kicked out of his own church. John Wesley wasn’t allowed to preach in the pulpit of his father’s church so he preached standing on his father’s gravestone. (The church came outside to hear him preach.) The early church tried to stay in Jerusalem in their own little holy club but the Holy Spirit allowed persecution to scatter them to the ends of the earth. Maybe CJ feels persecuted in Maryland and is allowing percecution to scatter him to… Kentucky???

    SGM’s problems shook my faith in SGM. I always thought they were the gold standard of what a church and church life should be. I left in 96 and tried to return in 2007 but was told “we don’t think you would be a good fit…” because I didn’t believe the reformed crap they began teaching in the years I was gone. I’d ask all kinds of questions that they didn’t like in the classes. Just because I left CLC I didn’t stop being a believer. I was still going to Fishnet and had developed a friendship with Winkie Pratney over those years. Winkie was a yearly regular teaching at CLC for years during the 80s and early 90s but CJ turned away from all his early ministry friends. He literally was left with no one to truly give him grief when he blows it. You can literally tell that while talent and gifting is still there when he preaches but he anointing isn’t. It reminds me of the verse in Judges where it says Samson didn’t know the Holy Spirit had left him.

  • old timer

    I am NOT the worse sinner I know. The makings for the worse sinner I know are in us all because of our fallen state but why do you think JESUS had to die on the cross? To redeem mankind.

    Sorry CJ but I do NOT accept that mantle on myself anymore…..and I am NOT a Pharisee either because I do not heap comdemnation on other people for their sins and shortcomings…..or because they do not believe as I do.

    The makings for the worse sinner we know is in us all—but because the Lord allowed me to believe and acept the Blood of Jesus over me-I am cleansed, purified and washed whiter than snow. I have been forgiven, redeemed and stand before the Lord washed in the Blood of the Lamb—JESUS.

    I can tell you this—JESUS does not look at me and see the worse sinner HE knows…..only you would do that….and to me that just shows how warped your understanding of the Cross,the Saviour and the Blood of Jesus really is.

  • sick with worry

    Kris, while I have benefitted from some of CJ’s applications over the years, he should never be thought of as a solid expositor. Actually, the message on deacons last week at CLC was one of the best messages I have heard from any SGMer.

    Since SGM puts such emphasis on guys like Spurgeon, Piper, and Lloyd Jones, you would think some of it would rub off.

  • oneofthem

    Hi everyone! I’m stepping out of the shadows for a minute :new. Let me just say Kris that SRC has two services and they usually post the sermon that was better. Kudos for JL for correcting the first sermon. Some of your mysterious quotes may be coming from that. The sermon that was posted was fine at the best (not a touch of heresy there). The congregation at SRC has a very youthful and carefree spirit. They are not too concerned with all of this drama and just want things to settle down. Jayson was right with what he said, but not everyone is oblivious.

  • I was thinking some more about what seemed “off” or disingenuous about CJ’s recent sermon…and a realization hit me.

    Like I said earlier, I didn’t hear anything theologically incorrect in this particular teaching. I was actually expecting to, after some of the comments yesterday, but I didn’t. Nothing was actually unscriptural.

    I was even encouraged to note that CJ did spend some time (probably the last 5 minutes or so) emphasizing our need to become “drunk on 100-proof grace,” where we are so overwhelmed by the realization that we can (like the tax collector) “depart justified” that we respond joyfully. And that we actually ought NOT to spend all our time focusing on our own sin and our own sinfulness.


    I realized, as I thought about it some more, that CJ’s main point was still that we ought to be “surprised” by the fact that we still think more like the Pharisee about our sin. In fact, in the portion of the message that I suppose would be considered application, CJ talks about how he spent some time the night before “making a category” for how he is like the Pharisee.

    Which means, of course, that CJ spent time focusing on his own sin, the sin of being like the Pharisee and not properly humble like the tax collector.

    If his listeners are going to take CJ’s message and apply it to themselves the way that he says he applied it to himself, they will still be focusing on their own sin (all the ways in which they resemble the Pharisee rather than the tax collector), despite the good thought he tacked on during the last few minutes of the message.

    It’s kind of bizarre, in a way, how CJ manages to do this. Anyone who wants to defend CJ over the charge that he has historically not emphasized God’s grace and our justification can point to the 5-minute segment about going away joyful, knowing that we are justified. But at the same time, the main message was still about our sin – the sin of not seeing ourselves as the “worst sinners we know” but instead thinking that we are somehow more righteous than other people.

    I find it interesting that CJ manages to do this – manages to have it both ways, where he basically spends 40 minutes instructing people on how to “make a category” for how they’re sinning in resembling the Pharisee…and yet can check off the box for talking about grace because he says in the very end that we ought to be rejoicing about our justification.

  • intheNickoftime


    I thought CJ’s comment of “anyone who measures his own sin by comparison with another” was a direct shot at people on the blogs looking too closely at His sins and I still feel his goal was to put everyone on the same level.

    He also accomplished that by saying the tax collector was too easily morphed into the Pharisee. Again, I thought, a swipe at his detractors that have assumed they would not do the bad things he has done.

  • Izze

    @old timer #168 :clap

    thank you for that. It helps me more than you know.

  • Kraftig

    Re: this “worst sinner I know” garbage:

    The “worst sinner I know” would be someone who is entirely unrepentant and rejects any effort to live a sanctified life. I can’t imagine why anyone would ever attach such a label to themselves.

    I think, however, that it is ironically [and clearly unintentionally] revealing about the one who deploys the phrase. Trying so hard to look so uber-humble always has hilariously catastrophic effects.

    Reminds me of a bumper sticker I often see walking into my office: “If you succeed at failing, which have you?”

  • Nick,

    I can see how you made those inferences. I’m not necessarily saying I disagree with you over the idea that in addition to what his literal words conveyed, CJ was trying to send some subliminal messages to his critics.

    BUT, just going by his words alone, I didn’t pick up on anything theologically incorrect…or even that overtly self-defensive.

    That being said, I do think it’s interesting to observe CJ’s choice of topics. If you think about it, there’s almost an unlimited array of ideas in the Bible that could be turned into superb, meaningful sermons. For someone who supposedly doesn’t believe (now, now that his critics have pointed out the imbalance of the SGM movement’s emphasis on sin) that we ought to be focusing so much on our sin, I’d think CJ could have cracked open a Bible and stumbled upon a dozen other sermon ideas that would have had nothing to do with focusing on our sin. Instead, he chose to circle the same old familiar wagon yet again – even going so far as to squeeze in a couple of references to our need to be the “worst sinners we know” – and do so in such a way where his listeners would be newly prejudiced against analyzing the wrongdoings of others.

    I continue to marvel at CJ’s true cleverness. He may not be very educated, but the guy has a gang leader’s street smarts for self-preservation.

  • Kraftig

    Also Re: “worst sinner.”

    It fits the narcissist profile neatly. If you’re going to be the ultimate ‘whatever,’ I guess it makes sense to be consistent and apply it universally. Might as well be the worst sinner. I hate it when people use such superlative language.

    Also feeds that craving for attention. Nice.

  • Lee

    I think the “worst sinner I know” can be taken another way and perhaps that is what CJ means.

    We only know our own hearts. He’s the worst sinner he knows because he is the only one he truly knows. Does that make sense?

    The line does get old after awhile though.

  • Kraftig

    Lee: Noted. And, you’re probably right. If so, the sentiment should be expressed the way you did it. Doesn’t take too much extra time or effort.

    Like most SGM communication, however, I suspect this one is conveniently packaged up to sound and come across one way [catchy, shocking!, clever, cute], but when necessary be interpreted or explained away as something completely different.

    ” . . . could have communicated better . . .”

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    @Lee – in SGM many years, that is the way I’ve heard it explained. It’s not supposed to be an objective comparison of all the sinners in the world with a conclusion that you’ve done worse than anyone else. It’s supposed to be about your awareness of your own personal sinfulness and need for God’s mercy.

    Yet, I’ve never been comfortable with employing “the worst sinner I know” or “better than I deserve” terminology (and I’ve never done so). Perhaps I just don’t like fads and mimicry and that’s what it feels like. Perhaps because the subjective nature of it just seems designed to confuse the listener, rather than impart grace. But mostly, I think I could never use it because of where it seems to draw attention, to my badness… and really, that’s not where I dwell… that’s not where I want to direct others attention when they ask me how I’m doing either… I want to give a meaningful (hopefully not gimmicky) answer and then ask them how THEY are doing, and sincerely listen and relate…

    I’m reminded of how CS Lewis describes the humble person – that you won’t be so much aware of his humility as you will be of his interest in you… of how much you enjoyed interacting with him… I want to be genuinely interested in others, because they bear the image of God and are loved by Jesus; I don’t want to use every interaction to draw attention to myself…

  • Whirlwind

    @Lee #177 – “The line does get old after awhile though.”

    Yes. I somehow doubt Paul made a point of regularly delivering this line.

    I think you’re correct in how CJ wants to apply that statement (we know ourselves more deeply than we know anyone else, so we should see all the wickedness within our own hearts more clearly than the wickedness in others). Unfortunately, I also doubt Paul’s intent in referring to himself as “the worst of sinners” was to get Timothy and everyone else in Ephesus to adopt that same mindset. Rather, Paul’s intent seems to be having everyone else understand that if God’s mercy could be extended to him after all he had done, it certainly could be extended to anyone else. A better application of Paul’s words would seem to be, “Yeah, Paul was really an evil sinner. I haven’t sunk that low, so I can be confident God is patient with me and will forgive me as well.”

    Rather than coming away thinking, “I’m the worst sinner I know,” we should come away thinking, “I’m NOT the worst sinner I know – Paul is.”

  • QE2

    I agree with Whirlwind.

    When I think about all Paul did…the loud voice said, “I am Jesus, whom you persecuted”. I doubt many of us have gloated over the murder of a martyr like Stephen, actively and openly fought against the cause of Christ, persecuted other believers, etc.

    Paul himself seems to be saying “I win the ‘worst sinner’ contest”. He didn’t follow up with “and you’re the worst sinner YOU know”.

    While it is a good thing to evaluate ourselves in light of God’s word and not rank ourselves and compare ourselves to each other, CJ has perpetuated a wild misapplication of Paul’s intent, which, to paraphrase Whirlwind, might be:

    I, Paul, was really an evil sinner. You haven’t sunk that low, so I can be confident God is patient with you and will forgive you as well.”

    Words of grace and life, not self-flagellation.

  • Lee

    Whirlwind @180,

    I agree with you completely. :)

  • I agree with everyone who says that CJ doesn’t intend his “worst sinner I know” talk to be taken to mean his sins are literally the worst sins he knows.

    And yet – if you think about it – there’s an element to that statement that almost has to include the idea that one’s own sins are the worst. So going around saying you’re the worst sinner you know then becomes some sort of exercise, where the point is to drive home to yourself the reality of your own badness…like wearing a horsehair shirt or sleeping on a bed of nails or whipping yourself. The goal is to remind yourself of your own unworthiness.

    I guess there’s nothing wrong with doing that once. Or every once in awhile. But when you get to the place where it becomes part of your routine, it seems to me like it would lose its power and become pointless, because if you were to take the statement literally, at face value, you wouldn’t honestly believe that it is true.

    The need to see oneself as the “worst sinner one knows,” by the way, is at the root of the peculiar way that some SGM pastors have responded to victims of sex abuse. They were so programmed to go through this mental exercise as a sign of spiritual health that when a victim could not immediately put the attention on his own sin, rather than that of the perpetrator, the pastors became disgusted with the victim and behaved in ways that suggested they supported the perpetrator more. Victims were discouraged from seeking normal legal consequences for perpetrators. Victims were urged to offer quick forgiveness instead. Because, after all, the victim himself (or herself) ought to be in his own mind a “worse sinner” than the perpetrator.

    This Worst Sinner I Know™ fad that CJ created may not be wrong, per se, especially when a person is careful to parse the nuances. But it has had many bad ramifications for SGM churches, particularly in some of the more serious counseling situations.

  • StvMac

    I certainly can’t know what Ceej has in his heart when he says, ad nauseum, that he is the worst sinner… From where I was sitting, any number of times I heard him say it, it seemed like just more of the HUMILITY ON PARADE schtick that he has down so well.

    Have you ever noticed that whenever he is introduced it always has to include some acknowledgement of his legendary humility? “And here he is, fresh from G’burg, MD (oops, make that L’ville, KY), a truly humble guy, possibly the most humble ever – and the worst simmer he knows – CEEEEEE JAAAAAY MAAAHEEEENY”.

  • justawife


    In regards to: “The Worst Sinner I know” rhetoric.

    I always took it as a way of fishing for compliments. Reading about the Narcisstic personality this is something they do due to low self-esteem. It reminds me of women who are clearly not overweight saying that they look or feel fat. The only reason they do this is to hear people tell them “Oh, you’re not big at all. You are so thin!”. In reality the women do not see themselves as overweight at all, but they are just looking for compliments to inflate their self-esteem. I always thought CJ’s saying was more to get people to tell him “Oh you aren’t that bad” or for people to think “Look at that CJ, he’s so humble”.

  • Whirlwind

    It would be interesting to have someone respond back to CJ: “There was a time when I would have thought you were exaggerating.” :D

  • Breeezey

    I’m pretty sure the “worst sinner I know” is as compared with others. So lessee…

    I destroyed my marraige through a combination of stupidity, selfishness and hypocrisy. My oldest son barely speaks to me although my ex and I get along fine.

    Hitler took the lives of over 6 million Jews, another 4-6 million christians, gypsies, and infirm. 58 million died in WW2
    Stalin and Lenin killed probably about 40 million through the gulags and forced starvation.
    Pol Pot another 4-6 million killed.
    Mao Zedong about 40 million in the cultural revolution.
    Charlie Manson, maybe a dozen killed at best but one was a pregnant woman and we know what Jesus said about hurting the “least of these”.
    Judas betrayed the Jesus, Lord of Glory. That betrayal cost Jesus his life and God His Son.
    CJ Mahaney cost the ministry of over 100 pastors and (only God knows) numerous others their faith but he never cost any one his life that I know of. (He also blackmailed Larry Tomczak, his onetime best friend and “yokefellow”, and cost him his reputation and livelihood for awhile.)
    What CJ has cost the kingdom of God only God knows but until you get into countless millions killed, worst sinner I know… he isn’t in the category as far as I can see. But he should still put that little phrase into the “forgotten sermons” folder and leave it there.

  • Breezey said,

    But he should still put that little phrase into the “forgotten sermons” folder and leave it there.


    Although this most recent message ended with CJ’s quoting the line “Drunk on 100-proof grace” from some other author, the “Worst Sinner I Know™” schtick still got about 5 times the air time. I wish he’d give it a rest.

    Actually, I wish he’d really see, really understand, the damage this focus has done to so many people, particularly victims of crimes who sought counsel from pastors who were so concerned about assessing the victims’ spiritual health according to how easily the victims still saw their own sin as worse than that of the perpetrators. If CJ really understood what this ridiculous little tagline has done to people, I’m pretty sure he’d retire it once and for all.

  • Persona

    Kris 175

    “I continue to marvel at CJ’s true cleverness. He may not be very educated, but the guy has a gang leader’s street smarts for self-preservation.”

    You are correct in your analysis.

    I think CJ has gotten a lot of mileage with his cleverness and his humor. It’s also true that he can stretch a 2 minute message into 45 minutes better than most. Would that fall into the category of the gift of gab?

  • katie

    justawife –

    I completely agree. If CJ actually thought he was the worst sinner he knew, he would be taking the accountability provided to him more seriously, not just taking in compliments on how brave and humble he is. I think this line is really overused. Even though it probably means we just don’t know any heart but our own, it doesn’t mean a thing to me anymore.

    Plus I think it’s caused a wave of young girls especially to have really low self esteem and low confidence. These girls will allow anyone to walk over them because they think their opinion doesn’t matter or they aren’t good enough to stand up for themselves. So now there are a bunch of girls with no personality, no clue of who they are except that they are the worst sinner they know… which means they are probably depressed too.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Whirlwind #186,

    You made me laugh so hard that my Coke went up my nose! No, really, I mean “Coca-Cola”.

    :clap :clap

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Its all part of control and squashing dissent.

    Remember the poster that got on here and said he was an ex pedophile in SGM, and had repented and was now happily married? OK fine, God can truly change people and they can repent.

    Then he comes out with the line that what he did was no worse than one of us feeling mad at a driver who cuts us off in traffic. :barf:

    This is SGM moral equivalency. Feeling irritated, or molesting a child, it is all the same, so just shut up because you have sin too, and no matter what the pastors do or don’t do, well, it doesn’t matter because you should feel like the worse sinner you know. Worse than the man who rapes a child. This is why Wallace and Happy Mom end up the bad guys, and anybody else who presses for justice/apologies in the sex abuse cases is a bad guy. Sin is sin, it is all the same. Your failure to submit is as bad as the rapist. Worse maybe.

    Jesus was clear about greater and lesser sins, greater and lesser rewards. Paul the Apostle as well. I could go into this in more biblical depth if I had time, but even SGM made a difference between scandalous sins that disqualify, and ordinary fleshly sins, when they reinstated CJ. They made a clear distinction between say adultery and theft, and CJs “lesser sins”. But you peons can’t make those distinctions when it is about bungled pedophila cases in SGM churches…..the parent who “won’t forgive” (by their definition) the perp is worse than the perp.

    God is just. God will deal with this. So glad to be out of it.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Kraftig, I am still ‘catching up’ here, but I had to stop to say how much I agree with your post #174! I love it! :clap I have been pondering why that statement always does not sit right with me-and you said it perfectly! Thanks!

  • Muckraker

    katie @190

    …it’s caused a wave of young girls especially to have really low self esteem and low confidence. These girls will allow anyone to walk over them because they think their opinion doesn’t matter or they aren’t good enough to stand up for themselves. So now there are a bunch of girls with no personality, no clue of who they are except that they are the worst sinner they know… which means they are probably depressed too.

    Very Insightful. My young-adult daughter were just discussing this concept just this morning! There are many young women, who have grown up in CLC, whom we now see as lacking personality. They are not “in touch with” their own true personality. We feel that is a result of the heavy expectations of conformity, the demands for perfect obedience to SGM standards and the concept of submission to parental wishes even into adulthood, specifically placed on the teen girls and young women. :(

  • Muckraker

    *and I :D

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Breezy, I was laughing, too, at #186!

    5yearsinPDI, post #192, :goodpost So very true! All of it! Thanks for posting that!

  • Unassimilated

    1) Funny how CJ twist the worst of sinners thing. Paul did see himself as a wretched mess pre-conversion, but his illustration was to show the depth of mercy that God had shown him. He would point to this as an encouragement to others, rather than as a mantra or measuring stick. Paul’s life illustrates the Gospel of Grace, not a Doctrine of Sin.

    1 Timothy 1:16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

    2)There were things that Christ found more offensive to the Kingdom than others.
    False teaching, and preventing others from entering into fellowship with Christ.

    Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

    And its parallel

    Luke 11:52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

    CJ, you may be the worst sinner, does not make everyone the worst though. Knowledge of this is not a badge of humility either, it is a call for repentance and change.
    I would rather learn that you have repented of much, then hear that you are still the worst of sinners.

    Question CJ, when you say you are the worst of sinners, are you speaking of your pre-conversion self as Paul did, as he saw himself as a new and redeemed creation?


    Are you speaking of your current condition, thinking that there is still unlimited work to be done, and that Christ simply has made you aware of your wretchedness so that you can flog yourself in public, and rebuke those that care in private? My understanding is that you speak in the context of current condition and the latter, What a scary place to be, and thank you for the honest warning.

    You have become an expert in a new law, and you may be among the worst of sinners, not sure planting churches is the solution God has in mind for you.

  • Somewhereintime

    CJ is the worse sinner I know …

  • Bridget

    5years –

    That was my thought as well. Thank you for clarifying it so well.

    When we look at CJ’s audience, SRC, we have to think, “What is the message CJ wants them to get?” He doesn’t want them to judge what others (him especially) have done. Has CJ repented to SRC for his actions as the leader of SGM? Why do they not ask for this — ? They have been taught well.

    I believe someone above mentioned the age demographica of this church as being younger. I find it interesting that this is where CJ would go . . . where the believers are younger, not as grounded in scripture, and more easily influenced. Why not go to a more mature church? But, then again, we have heard CJ and his views about the younger men and the older churches with mature believers are in disagreement with CJ and SGM at the moment.

  • katie

    Bridget –
    I remember one time CJ telling us he wished he could quit his job and run Children’s Ministry for a living so he could influence and teach the next generation… horrors!

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Actually, Bridget, the age demographic of SRC is probably older. There are a lot of old timers there. Unless a bunch of college students have come since I was there. They are pretty close to the Univ. of MD. It is a small church still, I am pretty sure.

  • Bridget

    Lost —

    Thanks. It made me go back and look where I got it from. It came from the comment @ 170. The poster is new. They sound like they may have some insight to SRC.

  • Bridget

    oneofthem —

    :welcome Thanks for posting. Glad to have you here even though I wish “here” wasn’t needed.

    What was the sense you got from the message sharedon Sunday, if you were there?

  • intheNickoftime

    Kris in #175

    I can see how you made those inferences. I’m not necessarily saying I disagree with you over the idea that in addition to what his literal words conveyed, CJ was trying to send some subliminal messages to his critics.
    BUT, just going by his words alone, I didn’t pick up on anything theologically incorrect…or even that overtly self-defensive.

    Kris, you can never just look at CJ’s words when he preaches. If you bumped into him during a softball game, MAYBE you could take his words at face value. Only those casual circumstances would CJ use real speech and not plan what he wants to say.

    As a narcissist and a controler he is always looking to use his words for a purpose. And he had weeks to work on that sermon. Even if it was recycled from before, he knew he was giving it at SRC and he knew it would be after he was reinstated and he knew it would be on the net and people could hear it.

    I appreciate your integrity in trying to look at what he said clear of any “history” or drama that may be occurring, but with CJ…you just cant do that. A controller like him is NEVER not trying to control. It is in his DNA and anything that is prepared is prepared for a purpose. (leopards dont change their spots)

  • Lost in (cyber) Space


    Thanks! I guess things have changed a lot in 8 years! Sorry for my comment.

  • Nick said –

    As a narcissist and a controler he [CJ] is always looking to use his words for a purpose.

    I would agree that CJ has a history of being exceptionally deliberate – I believe the SGMese is “intentional” – about everything he says and does. So it does follow that his message was intentional.

    And like I said earlier, it’s interesting to me that out of the thousands and thousands of sermon topics he could have picked from, he chose that particular parable to highlight…with the punchline (about how Jesus gave that parable expressly to “surprise” us) being all about how we’re Pharisees if we’re not thinking of ourselves as the worst sinners we know.

    Of course the concluding 5 minutes or so did focus on grace. So anyone listening to CJ with just surface knowledge of him and his history would come away with the impression that the teaching was all about how we’re now justified and need to QUIT obsessing about our sin.

    What a jumbled mixed message.

  • Bridget

    This will sound like a joke – but, unfortunately, it isn’t.

    And how many jumbled mixed messages given to a family of churches does it take before you leave in your wake a jumbled mixed mess of theology that adversely effects that family of churches; especially if the leader never admits that much of what was said and done was wrong and just keeps going with another jumbled mixed message? :scratch .

  • Persona

    Katie and Bridget 199-200

    I never saw CJ show any interest in any children but his own. I do remember him opining about his desire to sit under Josh and take his place in the lowly job of children’s ministry. But, I think it was all meant to impress and get others’ to serve in the ‘lowly’ jobs in the church. CJ is manipulative and you always have to ask what he’s trying to get out of the people around him.

    As for why SGM unabashedly pursues the next generation in NEXT, the CLASH and promotes young leaders and youthful churches? CJ years ago, began to focus primarily on the young. I even heard him admit he no longer cared about the older saints or, what they thought, anymore. They are simply not on his radar.

    For various reasons he is much more given to the next generation. It could be that they are easier to lead but I think he wants to leave a legacy. At any rate, it’s great for twenty-somethings but not so good for those in the twilight years. And, CJ always said a Christian should never ‘retire’ from serving. But, there is frankly very little for those over 55 to do in CLC, anyway. It’s sad because those people are sometimes the most wise and the most learned. And, many times they have been supporting the church for the greatest amount of time.

  • MAK

    referencing sick with worry #169

    Ya know I can’t remember the last time Spurgeon or Piper were quoted at CLC :scratch

  • Sick With Worry

    MAK – not sure if you are being serious or kidding around….. but I think a couple contemporary quotes can be helpful. I appreciate the fact that a pastor quotes directly from the guy’s commentary he has been using, because it shows he is giving credit where it is due. But – the sermon last week at CLC was pretty much all supported by text cross-referencing. I think there was one Strauch reference at the end. It is hard to teach on polity without quoting Strauch once or twice because his work on elders is pretty exhaustive.

    My SGM church goes a bit overboard on the quotes, and I guess other churches do as well based on the comments here.

    In my experience, when people witness solid exposition supported by referencing other scriptures, it creates a hunger in them for more. When people hear preaching done well, I think they start to see the importance of self study. Good leaders and teachers show people how to function at a higher level on their own. If all the people hear is quick read of the text, followed up by examples from the pastor’s life and some contemporary quotes, then that is where folks will tend to come back for more. I prefer to teach people in a way that drives them back to the text for more. For example: Whether you love them or hate them, MacArthur and Piper are two guys that when I hear, make me want to study more on my own. I get excited about their insights, and rather than just copy them, I want to work harder on my own study.

  • His Name is Jesus

    As I have been perusing what has been stated I thought of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “Remember Your Chains.”
    “Remember your chains
    Remember the prison that once held you
    Before the love of God broke through
    Remember the place you were without grace
    When you see where you are now
    Remember your chains
    And remember your chains are gone”
    And Ephesians 2
    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body1 and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.2 4 But3 God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; cit is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down tin his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in cone Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 kin whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into la holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

    It seems to be Paul’s pattern in most of the epistles to state something to the effect of – This is who you are in Jesus, yes remember who you ONCE were, but/and if you forget who you ARE, let me remind you again that you ARE (currently and presently in the sight of God)in Jesus – beloved, children of God, heirs with Christ, the workmanship of God, who have been prepared by God to walk in good works. So, now, walk worthy. And when you fail, remember again “I (God)have chosen you…It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you (or because you were better or worse off than another), for you were the fewest of all peoples (or because you were dead in your sins), 8 but it is because the Lord loves you..” I think it is good and right to remember, “the chains that once held you.” So long as you “remember that your chains are gone.” Because the love of God broke through!

  • Another Joe

    @ MAK

    I believe but cannot be a hundred percent sure that SGM has begun to move away from PIPER. For this I praise God… But I am afraid that roots of PIPER will remain in SGM for a long time.

    I believe but i cannot be sure that SGM is not radical enough for him. Not Radical in a sense of the Gospel.
    But Radical living based on the Gospel of PIPER the TULIP.

  • sgmnot

    His Name #211 Thank you for this. Great to read first thing in the a.m.

    This is who you are in Jesus, yes remember who you ONCE were, but/and if you forget who you ARE, let me remind you again that you ARE (currently and presently in the sight of God)in Jesus – beloved, children of God, heirs with Christ, the workmanship of God, who have been prepared by God to walk in good works. So, now, walk worthy. And when you fail, remember again…

    So different than: I’m the worst sinner I know. You’re the worst sinner you know. :bang

  • CLCya

    Took the Blue Pill #103

    I am so moved by your post. Maybe it is because I can totally relate to being in polar opposites with your spouse. My spouse is not a believer, but he knew from day one that there was something terribly wrong at CLC. He’s the one who said in mid-July, “I think you should leave.” At the time, I was willing to stick it out a while, but now, I’m glad I didn’t waste my time. I also used to be one of those people, when told that someone was moving to another area, who asked if there was an SGM church there. Yuck! You know, SGM does have a corner on the gospel market! ;-) I have a Christian friend (non-SGMer) who was questioned, by a CLC-member, about the genuineness of her salvation because she wasn’t saved at CLC! It’s going to take some time to “detox” from our experiences, and maybe longer for you since you were there so long (don’t mean to be a downer). Give yourself some time for that. I used to look forward to Sundays, too. Not so much anymore, but I keep going because I have young children and want to provide some consistency. I can think of a least five families in my small circle of friends where one spouse wants to leave CLC/SGM and one doesn’t. I will pray for you and your wife. This is not an easy situation to be in. You are not alone!

    On another note, there were some earlier posts that SGM teaching is not all bad. You know that saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”? Well, the bathwater is dirty, so I’m getting rid of it!!! (The baby is Jesus, I’m keeping Him.) I have a pile of SGM books, sermon cds, and notes from various teachings/conferences that will be going in the trash. I will not sell this stuff because I would not want anyone to get sucked into this warped version of Christianity.

  • sgmnot

    CLCya: Love it!

    You know that saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”? Well, the bathwater is dirty, so I’m getting rid of it!!! (The baby is Jesus, I’m keeping Him.)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Probably the best descriptions of CJ on the blog…

    I continue to marvel at CJ’s true cleverness. He may not be very educated, but the guy has a gang leader’s street smarts for self-preservation.

    As a narcissist and a controler he is always looking to use his words for a purpose.

    This has been my take on CJ all along.

    I find that most narcissists don’t have to do a lot of “prep work” when they speak. The words flow out of their mouths as naturally as breathing. The manipulation is truly effortless for them. Rarely will you catch them off their game.

    We have a SGM pastor in Charlotte just like him.

  • I listened to C.J.’s message he gave last week at Solid Rock and as others have said don’t really see anything that off in his teaching.

    It does strike me quite hypocritical for C.J. Mahaney to be quoting and teaching on a passage in Scripture where it says those that exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. As others have pointed out it shows the level of self deception existing in Mahaney.

    Despite all of Mahaney’s sin being revealed I don’t see where he has acknowleged his sin and humbled himself. I haven’t seen where Mahaney has seen himself like the tax collector admitting his sin and acknowledging his need for God’s mercy. Mahaney certainly gave this message without any examples from his own life about his sin and needing God’s mercy.

    I do find it interesting that now all of Mahaney’s sin has come to light Mahaney changes how he talks and that one shouldn’t focus on their sin.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I do find it interesting that now all of Mahaney’s sin has come to light Mahaney changes how he talks and that one shouldn’t focus on their sin.

    Now that is pretty funny….. :D

  • Stunned





    (whispers) sin





    you are a sinner

    I am the worst sinner

    sin, sinners, sinners, sinners, sin

    you shouldn’t focus on sin

    You SHOULDN’T focus on sin

    It is WRONG to focus on sin




    If you think CJ’s message was good and didn’t say anything inaccurate, take a step back and ask yourself what the message was about. God and His love for you or YOU.

    Same message, different window dressing.

  • Whirlwind

    Has anyone else noticed some interesting happenings of late at CLC?

    1. They went through a series on interpreting Scripture (Reading the Bible for All Its Worth).

    These weren’t your typical expository sermons you’d expect from an SGM church. I found this interesting in that it seemed to be an effort to say to the congregation, “This is how we’re going to read the Bible and we want you to be able to do this effectively as well.”

    2. They followed it with a series on church government (How Church Works).

    Whether you think the elder still have too much authority to not, the sermon on congregational involvement definitely said, “We’re intentionally going in a different direction.”

    3. Josh Harris recently posted about having someone come in to train the pastors in Biblical Exposition (see

    This was really odd because I figured this would be part of everyone’s PC training. Could you really become a CLC pastor without the current pastors giving approval to your exegetical skills? That would be really weird, so I wondered if there’s not an intentional move to say, “Let’s just back away from our SGM training and listen to some outside voices to help us better read our Bibles and give application in our sermons.”

    While they’re sticking with SGM at the moment, it definitely appears they’re looking outside SMG as well for sound instruction.

  • SMP

    You crack me up! I will be laughing all day about this one even though MY sin is no laughing matter.

    I could just go around singing, “ME ME ME.” Everyone will think I am rehearsing for a stage performance.

    Oh wait, no woman preachers, I remember now. Oh well, “You, You, You” then! :clap

  • Stunned

    SMP, :) mee mee mee mee, you u you u- it’s all the same tune, isn’t it?

    ah, how lovely it is when it’s all about Jesus, God, Holy Spirit and His great and amazing love for you, me and all of the people He made! How wonderful it will be when we are forgetful of everything else but that which causes us to love him, others and ourselves more. (I have seldom if ever seen this being the side effect of looking at sin. “He whose mind is stayed on HIM, his face is radiant!” Oh, how I LOVE that scripture!)

  • His Name is Jesus

    Listening to the message from CJ – “God I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector…”

    CJ’s address in the PC family meeting, “my communication in some ways create speculation that left me vulnerable to interpretation, that left me vulnerable to exploitation. I left the wrong impression of my sin. In that confession I was trying to convey that I take my sins seriously but I regret that my language conveyed that my sins were unusually serious. I do not think that I have never thought that. I didn’t distinguish my sins from Brent’s accusations, judgments, narrative and I should have….”

    “…One member of the first panel said this to me -quote: “I respect CJ how seriously you take the respectable sins but you left the impression that you did something scandalous. But nothing you confessed reached the level of public scandal requiring a public confession. YOUR SINS ARE ROUTINE AND COMMON.That is not to minimize my sin. But it did help me to see the wrong impressions I left and I regret that.”

    “Another member of the panel said this: “I think you made a genuine effort to be humble. You overstate the level of offense and you confuse those outside of SG. ” I happen to think that is an accurate critique.”

    (Extortion/blackmail is gaining a favor through some type of outside pressure or force – could be physical or otherwise)

    It struck me as odd, when I saw the word extortioners in the text he was preaching from because CJ stated that his act of blackmail, er… coercion -CJ’s word when the “online confession” was- against Larry T, apparently is not scandalous,(he said the word scandalous in the sermon by the way :wink:) but ordinary(I know, I know, this dead horse has been mutilated :beat ). And that it did not or does not “require a public confession.” -Even though it was committed in the presence of about one thousand people!?-

    I just had a thought – my father-in-law taught my wife how to drive by showing her what not to do – maybe this has been all part of CJ’s plot! He has been showing us sheeple what NOT to do through his example..and this has been his intention all along! He didn’t really mean to “coerce” Larry. He was just giving an example of how NOT to handle things…And when he stated “I would rather be dead than be like Larry” (or however he said it in front of even more people) He was just showing how acting like the Pharisee in the text he was preaching on is not a good idea! I’ve misunderstood that all along…my bad! :mrgreen:

    Ok, sarcasm trip is now over.

  • Regarding the “worst sinner” it has always baffled me how Mahaney (and thus others in SGM) thought that Mahaney was referring to his current status. From what I can tell from reading the passage and using various bible helps is that Paul was referring to his past, especially how Paul crucified the church. Paul wasn’t talking about his current condition. If Paul was then he would be “holding to a form of godliness but denying its power” as Paul taught.

    His Name is Jesus #223

    Thanks for sharing what Mahaney states at the SGM Pastors’ Conference last year. They really show where C.J. Mahaney is at. He doesn’t consider what he did really that significant. Sadly a lot of other leaders don’t see Mahaney’s actions as egregious either.

  • Unassimilated

    “Regarding the “worst sinner” it has always baffled me how Mahaney (and thus others in SGM) thought that Mahaney was referring to his current status.”

    Simply stated, it was standard SGM practice to behave as if you were the worst sinner at all times. Just ask a Pastor a challenging question, your worst sinner status becomes instantly paramount. Being that the laity was such, the entire operation revolved around as if we were, and CJ quotes like this –

    “Even on my best day, I fall woefully short of,…I am full of sin, and as a result,
    even my best efforts to preach to you this Sunday will be marred with my own pride, with my own selfishness, with my never-ending sin.” (From CJ’s Suffering and Sovereignty series)

    Why so baffled?

    Doesn’t matter what the bible really says when it comes to SGM practice.

    The Bible is clear, but that is post SGM hindsight.

    In other news –

    According to a Gallup poll in 1999, 18% believed that the earth was the center of the universe.

  • Let My People Go

    I have been thinking about Paul’s reference to himself as the “worst sinner.” (1Timothy1:15-16) As many others, when I was in SG, referring to yourself as the worst sinner was common.

    The commentary I read regarding those verses points out that Paul never hesitated to talk about his “past” because he knew his failures would allow others to have HOPE. The commentary goes on to say that Paul wasn’t concerned with creating an image for himself…he wanted to be an example. An example of what Christ can do in someone’s life, even someone like Paul. That’s why verse 16 says, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as AN EXAMPLE for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.”

    The question is: What is someone’s motivation in calling himself/herself “the worst sinner”?

    Since Paul said it in the Bible, we know that it was inspired by God and it is without error. And Paul said it to point out the HOPE that we have in Christ’s atoning work. I never got that encouragement from the people at my church who told me that they were the “worst sinner.” It seemed more like a statement of membership to some elite club. It is so perverted from the original, beautiful message that Paul’s heart was pouring out as a drink offering to us. God forgive us.

  • Unassimilated

    Let My People Go –

    “What is someone’s motivation in calling himself/herself “the worst sinner”? ”

    Good question. We know for Paul, his reputation as a persecutor of Christians was
    well known in the Christian community. There were many that feared Paul when he
    first became a believer, and for others it took years for them to trust Paul.
    So when he said that he was the worst, he did so with his past was in the open. There was no doubt that something had a supernatural encounter with God. It was his testimony.

    Without that context, most people who utter the phrase come across as self centered, and perhaps hyper focused on things they were forgiven for. I would include my SGM self in this. In the SGM culture, it was akin to proclaiming, “I have my biblical priorities straight.”

  • Marian

    Do SGM’s problems shake my faith??

    Yes. Drinking poisoned kool aide for most of my life (over two decades) nearly killed me. My marriage nearly didn’t make it and during my period of leaving my SGM church, suicidal thoughts plagued me regularly. I didn’t know who I was anymore. So, yes, I must have put my faith in a system rather than Jesus and I’m still being shaken to the core and hope to come out of this with an intact faith. At this point, I think SGM is doing more to scare people away from Christ than drawing people to Him. Don’t we all know those who won’t step foot in a church anymore because of SGM? Sometimes I’m that person myself.

    On another note, back in the early days of Covenant Fellowship, they had a ministry called “burnt stones” to specifically minister to those who had been “burnt” by churches gone bad. Ironic.

  • Unassimilated

    So when he said that he was the worst, he did so with his past was in the open. There was no doubt that something had a supernatural encounter with God. It was his testimony.

    Should read

    So when he said that he was the worst sinner, he did so with his past well known and in the open. There was no doubt that Paul had a supernatural encounter with God. It was his testimony.

    Senior moments day for me. :oops:

  • Let My People Go

    Thanks so much for your thoughts. I guess I always just felt so left out of a seemingly inner circle of members at my church. That’s why I said that when people called themselves the worst sinners, I felt like they had membership in a special group that I didn’t and it felt pretty exclusive. But maybe that was the intent. I actually do see my sin as just as bad as anyone else’s. I just never felt the need to make that statement about myself…and somehow it left me feeling like I didn’t fit in. Thanks again for your thoughts.

  • Unassimilated

    Let My People Go – I am truly sorry to hear that you felt left out. I can only speak for myself, however I know that I am not alone, there was a pride and an arrogance
    in “Doing it right.” It still eats at my gut at times, but that was part of the draw to SGM. You want the best for yourself, your family, and wow, SGM has a better version of Christianity. How nice to be chosen among the chosen.

    I hope you were never on the receiving end of my self righteousness, which I still struggle with, if so, I am sorry. Jesus example was true selflessness, and he is not exclusive to any man, group, or church. Eternal, universal, and without measure.

    The SGM notion that God is bigger within their doors and teachings is my definition of heresy & slander nowadays.

  • Quaker37

    “Back in the day, SGM pastors even believed that they ought to be the primary go-to guys for situations involving child sex abuse, weighing in on whether or not victims should involve law enforcement and the legal system, putting pressure on victims to forgive perpetrators quickly, and basically doing little to support victims while at the same time seeming to take the side of the perpetrator.”

    This is not only true for SGM, but for SBC and many other male dominated denominations.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    CLCya, post 214

    I used to look forward to Sundays, too. Not so much anymore, but I keep going because I have young children and want to provide some consistency. I can think of a least five families in my small circle of friends where one spouse wants to leave CLC/SGM and one doesn’t. …….. Well, the bathwater is dirty, so I’m getting rid of it!!! (The baby is Jesus, I’m keeping Him.) I have a pile of SGM books, sermon cds, and notes from various teachings/conferences that will be going in the trash. I will not sell this stuff because I would not want anyone to get sucked into this warped version of Christianity.

    Just a word of caution for you concerning the idea of staying for the children to have consistency..It has been well over 20 years now since I have stepped foot inside any SGM Church, and most of my children who were ‘raised there’ are now adults. Even today, despite my children rejecting the church as strongly as they do, I see ‘unspoken lies’ that came from within the culture-things I never even agreed with back then! But, because I kept my children in that culture, and did not actively teach against it, they ‘assumed’ I agreed with the culture, and soaked up the lies. Just like we expect the Pastors to ‘correct’ what they said before that they no longer believe, so ti is important for us as parents to ‘correct’ to our children what differences we see within a culture we are part of. For instance, I have ALWAYS believed that no matter what my children grew up to me, whether it was a lawyer, a stay at home Mom, or a trash truck driver, as long as what they did was legal, moral, and they were happy, then I was glad. Not everyone goes to college, and somebody’s gotta collect the trash! I always knew for myself, before CLC ever came into being, even before TAG, I knew I was going to have 12-13 children. I considered (and still do) Motherhood one of the hardest jobs, yet the biggest privilege anyone could have. I feel honored to have been able to be a Mother, but I also know not everyone sees it this way, and not everyone is ‘meant’ to be a Mother! Yet, as some of my adult children thought then, and still do-all I ever wanted was for my daughters to become Mothers.
    Another thing, I was ALWAYS totally intent on openly being who I am. Of course, I am imperfect, so is everyone else-therefore, I don’t need to ‘hide it’. I always say, “If you have enough gumption to do something, then have enough gumption to own up to it, and if it is so important to you that that action not be put to your being, then don’t do it!” SGM teaches, “Walk right on the outside, and the inside will follow”, only too many people become content with just ‘walking ‘right’ on the outside”. My adult children are boldly outspoken, but some struggle with being transparent-in a big way. Sure, that is probably human nature, but I really do see a lot of ‘influence from the culture’. So, my caution is that if you are going to remain, to keep consistency, then you DO want to ‘teach against unspoken cultural influences’, but, perhaps you may consider what consistency you would like to keep in your children;s lives? If we find something we are doing is wrong, do we continue so it remains consistent? Or, do we change as quickly as possible, so we can become consistent in something we want to promote? What do we want to show consistency in-the church we attend, or Jesus Himself, that fact that He is with us no matter where we go? I am not making any inferences of judgment here, I am merely sharing my own observations, and thoughts. We may let the water out of the tub, holding onto the baby, but unless we take the baby out, and scrub the tub, the new water will be dirty, no? :scratch

  • Ozymandias

    Audio for Fairfax’s 18 March 2012 family meeting is available: NOTE: Q&A was not recorded.

  • Let My People Go

    Thank you for your words. You really didn’t need to apologize to me! I’m pretty certain we went to different churches. But, I completely appreciate your humility and honesty. To be honest, it really helped me to read #231. You have a lot of good insights, especially the things you said about Jesus. And I understand the part of wanting the best for yourself and your family. We all do. This whole healing process is crazy – you never know how something that someone says might help you to process and heal. Thanks again for your honest words.

  • CLCya

    re: ExClcersMom #233

    I hear you loud and clear. Great points. Thanks for taking the time to communicate your word of caution. It means a lot to hear from a mom who is a season or two ahead of me! Just a clarification, though. I am already out of CLC. I guess what I meant about consistency, is that of going to church (non-SGM). For me, it’s hard to get the kids going to church after taking off for several weeks. They then expect to NOT go and when I want to go, I get all kinds of resistance/complaining. That being said, it’s just easier if we go on a consistent basis. We have found a smaller church in Frederick County. So far, we like it there. Even the kids say that!

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Thanks for clearing that up, CLCya-I was a bit confused, thinking you were gone, but then questioning that..I totally understand where you are coming from now! I am considering taking my 12 yr old with me to visit some churches, and then discussing with her what she liked and what she didn’t. I agree that consistently going to church has it’s merits, and I am thinking that as we look at different ones, going through that ‘thought/discernment process’ with her will also help her learn to ask questions, and consider things. It’s wonderful to hear that even the kids feel comfortable with the new church in Frederick! I just wish I knew back then what I know now..many things woulds have remained, but many things would have been so different. I am so glad I left there, I just wish I had left years before I did!

  • Mommy2Boo

    Marian #228… (((((Hugs))))) So sorry for your hurt.

  • thisjustin

    CLC members received notification yesterday that ALL funding to SGM has been suspended except for the North African mission.

  • Muckraker

    Quaker37 @ 232 Thank you for pointing that out. Religious leaders in many different denominations think that they are a God-appointed substitute for the legal system. When it comes to sin and counseling in spiritual issues, religious leaders ARE called by God to lead, but NOT when it comes to CRIME. Romans 13 makes this very clear–the legal authorities are ALSO instituted by God for the VERY PURPOSE of dealing with crime and punishment.

    Also, I realized that you were quoting from Kris’ original post and I didn’t catch that quote earlier when I read her post—I would disagree, Kris, that this concept has changed at all in SGM–i.e. it is NOT just “back in the day” but it is TODAY the actual stated policy of CLC according to their August Family Meeting on the sex abuse cases that were posted about here.

    In the Discovery Land written policy (their Children’s Ministry) they expressly state for folks to come to them first.
    For other cases (off church property) they state, that they first “check the validity of the claim” [of the abuse] substituting themselves for the appropriate justice system professionals. For each and every case that comes to their attention, their first phone call is to their own lawyer! (NOT to the police, to protect the victim or other potential victims)

  • KMD

    The following message was posted on the CLC members only blog yesterday:

    Dear Covenant Life members,

    Our prayer for you today is one offered many times by the Apostle Paul in his letters: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    We are writing briefly to let you know that the elders have decided, with the input of our Financial Advisory Committee (FAC), to suspend Covenant Life Church’s financial giving to Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM).

    The background is that the FAC and its subcommittee have requested more time to ask further questions and to weigh the upcoming Ambassadors of Reconciliation (AOR) report before giving the elders a final recommendation about our church’s financial giving to SGM. The committees have recommended that Covenant Life suspend its giving at this time, while their evaluation continues. We believe this recommendation is wise, and we will continue to work with the FAC to determine the best long-term course of action.

    We’ve communicated this decision in person to the leadership of Sovereign Grace who were very gracious in their response. We communicated that we are still committed to funding our shared mission in North Africa and have asked them to make us aware of other projects that we could specifically fund.

    We will update you when we receive the FAC’s final recommendation. Moreover, when we present the 2013 Fiscal Year budget to the congregation this summer, we will include a plan for allocating any funds that are uncommitted as a result of the suspension.

    Please continue to pray for the pastors and others involved in this decision. We take the stewardship of the resources of our church very seriously and need God’s help. And as always, we invite your perspective and wisdom and encourage you to speak with your pastor about any questions you may have.

    In Christ,

    Your pastors

  • Uriah

    KMD #241……this is great news! Hopefully other SGM churches will follow suit. :clap

  • Stunned

    justintime said, “CLC members received notification yesterday that ALL funding to SGM has been suspended except for the North African mission.”

    Yay CLC!!!!!!!! Don’t support evil!!!!

  • Stunned

    PS. CLC, there are lots of hurting and hungry people in your region. I BET there are lots of ways you could re-allocate those funds for the good of others and for the glory of God!

  • Muckraker

    Good for CLC!

    But if SGM leadership can allocate those North African mission funds any way they want (according to their By-laws) how can CLC know that those funds are not being used elsewhere in SGM? :scratch

  • Muckraker

    We’ve communicated this decision in person to the leadership of Sovereign Grace who were very gracious in their response.

    Wouldn’t you like to know who that hapless person was to deliver THAT news? “Sorry, Joe, you got the shortest straw….” :wink:

  • intheNickoftime

    With Fairfax and now CLC turning off the funds, the SGM offices will now have to work with about a One Million Dollar shortfall.

    SGM earns about 4.2 mil from the churches and another 1.4 mil from individual contributions. At least the last time I read their materials that was the ball park figures.

    With the economy down, with Fairfax and CLC out of the funding picture, with Metro cutting Benny loose, with KingsWay releasing one of their pastors, with Ashburn cut in half, with Denver North and South just holding on, with Az trying to hold on…When do you think someone at the top might look around, smell the coffee, and make some real changes?

    I think all this worry over who will leave SGM is too much conjecture. SGM will force out most of the folks who show any backbone and then SGM will quietly melt into obscurity. Just my prediction.

  • Roadwork

    Ozymandias: Thanks for the link.

    It’s a long recording. They receive new members (some of which are PKs), etc.

    We discover that they have a 14-member Safety and Security Team. They use radios, earpieces, etc. Some of the members of this team have CC (Concealed Carry) permits.

    By far, I was most encouraged by the Women’s Ministry information.

    359 ladies in the church, ages 15 and up were surveyed with 214 responses received.

    Question: What would bless the women the most?

    Top five categories
    1. Fellowship across all ages and stages of a woman’s life.
    2. Growing in spiritual maturity.
    3. Being encouraged in their faith in God.
    4. Studying the Bible. Many specifically expressed hermeneutics, wanted to know how to interpret the bible accurately.
    5. Mentoring or being mentored.

    Topics they wanted to grow in the most:
    1. Far and away the number one was practical theology for facing problems such as abuse, anger, anxiety, chronic illness, depression, fear and the list was much longer but that’s representative.
    2. How to more effectively help other women facing practical problems. There’s a strong theme of support in the church among the women wanting to help one another.
    3. Marriage.
    4. Interpreting the Bible (came up again).
    5. Parenting.

    What was the most desired format?
    1. By far would like small groups or one–to-one.
    2. Medium sized groups.
    3. Large groups (21and up)
    4. Would they like to have guest speakers? 84 percent said, “Yes.”

    Who would they like?
    1. By far, the number one speaker they would like is Elyse Fitzpatrick.

    The SGM related segment doesn’t start until a bit after the one hour mark of the recording and only last for about 11-12 minutes.

    Mark does mention that they really haven’t had any personal or direct responses to their concerns. He has had some several interactions with Craig Cabaniss (they have a relationship that goes back to their days in Pasadena together).

    Mark mentions that Fairfax hasn’t given as a church to SGM since January. Considering various options for these funds.

    What does Fairfax want out of all this? Fundamentally he says they are seeking reform, not separation.

    Like many others they are waiting for the AoR report which he says is due out this month.

  • Roadwork

    Also – I didn’t mean to omit the major portion where they talked about the major process of revamping their polity. That section was presented by J. Deck, a long-time Fairfax member. I just don’t have time to outline what they said they’re doing right now.

    Thankfully, it seems they’re headed in a much better direction. At least in regards to their polity.

  • SamMcGee

    From the SGM blog post today from the new Board:

    First, we decided to create a polity committee to consist of two members of the Board, two members of the Leadership Team (including C.J. Mahaney, who will chair the committee), and at least three Sovereign Grace pastors not on the Board.


    Second, we expect to receive the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report in the coming two weeks. We plan to begin discussing the report on a retreat in Louisville April 9 & 10 and then to make plans for responding.

  • BrokenHearted

    Wait… I thought CJ wasn’t on the board – maybe I misunderstood something…

    2 weeks ’til they receive and pray how to respond… how long until they share it?

    And it’s interesting they are headed to L’ville for their retreat i guess they are all over arent they?

  • SamMcGee

    @BrokenHearted #251 wrote Wait… I thought CJ wasn’t on the board – maybe I misunderstood something…

    It sounds like he is on the Leadership Team rather than the board. And, as you can read in their post, that is where the action is. From the post:

    This Board will operate differently from the interim Board. We will not involve ourselves in day-to-day ministry decisions and communication. Our priorities are appointment and evaluation of the Leadership Team…

  • ExClcer'sMom

    For anyone that may need to use this information, it is advised by professionals that as soon as any child speaks of abuse, you should schedule an appointment with someone who is an expert professionally in that specific field (which 99% of pastors are not even qualified, much less expert or professional)! There are very good reasons for this: Depending on the way the questions are asked, or the situation is discussed can greatly affect whether or not the State’s Attorney can get a conviction or not. Sometimes, without meaning to, one can ‘lead’ a child into answers. Other times, it may be hard not to show your hurt, disgust, or pain, and a child may mistake that as disappointment in them, and just stop talking or retract their statement. When you go to a professional first, they are trained on the right questions, or setting up a situation where a child can feel most comfortable discussing something like that. They are also able to videotape a discussion, where a child may not have to re-iterate things over and over. Pray, seek professionals for dealing with the abuse and the abuser, and then get support (if available)from your pastors for your Spirit, and support emotionally from your closest friends. Seek advice from professionals on dealing with everything, but seek God’s wisdom for yourself, not from Pastors, for what to do. I can tell you, despite the severe hardship my family went through, the ‘answers’ I got from time spent in prayer were, and still are, the best choices I made.I do not regret those choices at all! My life is full of situations where I listened to men over what I thought God was saying to me, and it proved wrong. Men will fail you, God will not fail you.

  • This is interesting that CLC has suspended contributions to SGM. My guess is that money (or lack thereof) will be the only thing that really gets SGM’s attention. If SGM Leadership ignored even the appeals of a significant number of their churches then I really don’t know what will get their attention other than money or some direct type of judgment from God.

    Perhaps this is at least partially due to SGM apparently violating the bylaws that require one of the SGM Board members be chosen by CLC.

    As others have said, you just can’t make this up

  • Lee

    Perhaps one of the reasons CLC stopped giving to SGM is because now they have pay for the entire building on their own? (when SGM moves to Louisville)

  • Persona

    Lee 255

    CLC might even have to pay SGM for the vacated space since SGM supposedly owns it.

    It would go a long way toward showing real transparency if CLC gave members transcripts of all their debates and dialogs regarding this financial exchange. I doubt that will ever happen on this side of eternity but, it would be nice.

  • Moved on

    Next year’s Pastor Conference will be in Orlando, FL. Posted today on SG Ministries blog.

  • Unassimilated

    “Don’t support evil!!!!”

    I want a T-Shirt with that on the front.

    And has this guy on the back!

  • CLC might even have to pay SGM for the vacated space since SGM supposedly owns it.

    From what I have read and documents that people have posted links to, SGM and CLC have a condo arrangement. My understanding is that SGM gave capital dollars to purchase a portion of the CLC building and agreed to pay a portion of the utilities and maintenance costs. If SGM decides to leave CLC would have to buy out SGM’s portion at a fair market rate. I forgot what the details were of how this separation would take place but you are correct that CLC would have to pay SGM for their part of the property.

    Was it CLC or SGM that owned all those houses around the CLC/SGM? If CLC owns them maybe CLC could sell the houses to generate funds to buy out SGM.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Guessing game time!!!!!! :D

    A)Will the AoR report be posted on the SGM blog as Harvey promised?

    B)Or will they go away and have their little disussion and not post any of it?

    C)Or will they post selected portions and tell us that the rest is not appropriate for public dissemination?

    D) Or is the little traitorious mole :worm so close to the situation that the AoR report will be quickly wikileaked (or sent to Brent?)

    E) Other….your thoughts?

    I am inbetween C and D myself…….

  • BrokenHearted

    C :-p

  • BrokenHearted

    WOOPS! I MEANT D!! :-p i meant i think c could be a temptation and if D didn’t happen it would not surprise me, but so far everything has been QUICKLY “leaked” so…

  • Unassimilated

    SGM owns the separate houses with the exception of the one on the corner of the CLC lot, which is owned by CLC.

  • Somewhereintime

    New SGM blog up. The new board will now be officially called “CJ’s Marionette Puppet Board”.

    CJ still controls the entire show. The board is a sham!!!!!!!!

    Repaet after me, the BOARD IS A SHAM!!!!!!!!!

  • Ozymandias

    Today’s SGM blog post said:

    Second, we expect to receive the Ambassadors of Reconciliation report in the coming two weeks. We plan to begin discussing the report on a retreat in Louisville April 9 & 10 and then to make plans for responding.

    And, as T4G begins on 10 April, can we assume that there will be no public release and/or public discussion (including public discussion among non-SGM conservative evangelicals) of the report prior to the start of T4G? And, by “make plans for responding,” one means “public release,” correct? Because, if it doesn’t mean public release on SGM’s website, then #7 on this timeline is now incorrect:

  • Oswald

    I think the new board should release the AoR Report as soon as they receive it, even before they have their retreat. The ‘people’ can read it at the same time as the board does. Releasing it along with their response is something like Brent’s tactic of interjecting on opinion along with the real goods. I think we can think for ourselves.

  • SamMcGee

    I have wondered about the March release date ever since it was announced given the proximity to T4G. I guess someone at SGM finally figured that out and they were able to delay until after. Now,the question is will someone leak it either before or during T4G? Wouldn’t that be something?

  • Back to the topic of this blog post asking if SGM Problems shake your faith I think about one of Keith Green’s songs. Here are some of the lyrics:

    How can they live without Jesus
    How can live without God’s love
    How can they feel so at home down here
    When there’s so much more up above

    For maybe they don’t understand it
    Or maybe they just haven’t heard
    Or maybe we’re not doin’ all we can
    Living up to His Holy Word

    ‘Cause phonies have come
    And wrong’s been done
    Even killing in Jesus’ name
    And if you’ve been burned
    Here’s what I’ve learned
    The Lord’s not the one to blame

    Just something to remember with all of this.

    Ironically Bob Kauflin sang this song on a remembering Keith Green album that various artists participated in to honor the late Keith Green. :scratch

  • Ellie

    GREAT song, Steve!!

  • Glad you liked the song Ellie.

    I compare Bob Kauflin singing that song to C.J. Mahaney teaching on those who humble themselves will be exalted and those who exalt themselves will be exalted. Sadly both are quite empty words for each of these men. At least when Bob Kauflin sang the song it was a while ago while Mahaney just recently taught on humbling/exalting.

  • Argus

    How about this song:
    “It’s all about me, Cee-ee Jay
    And all this is for me
    For my glory and my fame
    It’s not about you —
    You should do things my way
    I’m not afraid to lead;
    Just surrender to my ways.”

    Narcissists ‘read’ people’s reactions to them. They do this quickly, almost instantly and unconsciously, and either value people (have a use for) or discard people (have no use for) accordingly. They have an instinct about using all their resources (charm, wit, words, relationships, people, manipulation, influence, alliances, a pretense of ‘niceness’, your own ‘niceness’, money, legal maneuvering –whatever works)to get from where they are to where they want to be.

    C.J. knew some pastors and churches were turning from the fold before they did. They have been ‘dead men walking’ in his eyes since then. They’re already gone — they just don’t realize it yet. Even if they were to be persuaded to remain in SGM, it’s over for them.

    In fact, for several years at least, C.J. has been ‘over’ SGM. It has served to give him stature, credibility, and a big fat paycheck, but he had ‘moved on’ to greener pastures in every practical way. When challenged, he fought for his ‘due, but, having now won that skirmish, his eyes are once again on his own strategies for his larger role as global Christian statesman.

    That is why the move to Louisville has been in the works for a while.

    That is why the entire schedule of SGM revolves around C.J.’s conference schedule. That is why the T4G cronies will know what the AoR report says before SGM pastors do, and why they will have more say about how it is interpreted and ‘handled’ than anyone who really knows what it is like to be in SGM.

    C.J. has no use for ‘disloyal, ungrateful’ types who cannot further his “Gospel” ambitions. Why should he, when an entire seminary of impressionable young sycophants awaits his skillful molding? He can ‘serve the Gospel’ more by ‘speaking into their lives and ministries.’ Soon, a strong new army of C.J. clones will fill America’s pulpits. C.J. will know he is being used mightily by God; his proteges will tell him so.

  • Argus

    On another note, did all the SGM churches switch labels for their small groups from “Care Group” to “Community Group” recently?

    I remember some years back at our old SGM church, a switch was made from ‘small group’ to ‘care group’ and some rationale given for that.

    Then, recently (year ago or so?) we were given a rationale for switching to ‘community group’ suddenly.

    Both times, I got the clear impression that this was a polite edict from SGM headquarters.

    I was just reading an article at TWW, and I see that Mars Hill uses the term “community groups.” So, I google on over to Capital Hill Baptist Church, and quickly read the same term being mentioned for small groups.

    Imagine that.

    I realize this is just one tiny thing that means nothing, really, yet I genuinely believe this is creepy. Sinister.

    Sweet Christians giving till it hurts and serving their faithful hearts out for the ‘local church’ of their denomination while, behind the scenes, ambitious men stage a covert operation to form a de facto merger.

    It’s like a big factory that cranks out the same product for different privately-labeled store brands.

    SGM is big on branding.

    Welcome to the corporate world of church, where founding pastors are CEOs, where back-room deals get the job done, where PR trumps truth, where executives are chosen for brand image and team loyalty, where everything has to pass through the legal department, where it’s all about serving and expanding the corporation by keeping the customers buying the brand.

    Maybe instead of selling their brand of canned green beans to the ‘customers’ in the pews, churches should be about the congregation growing green beans to feed the hungry.

  • KMD

    On the CLC members forum, this comment in response to CLC’s announcement of suspension of financial support to SGM from a member of the Financial Advisory committee:

    “I think it is important for our church family to be aware of a critical finding of the subcommittee, namely that CLC’s decision to suspend its monthly contributions should not result in any SGM employee losing their job due to financial considerations in the near term. As a subcommittee, we spent a significant amount of time reviewing the financial position of SGM, including its balance sheet reserves, cash flows, budgeted expense projections and income expectations. According to SGM’s audited financial statements for its fiscal year ended August 31, 2011, the organization had net assets of $5.9 million and only $300,000 in current liabilities. We reviewed more recent financial information and concluded that SGM has sufficient financial resources to continue to pay its current employees. No one should be under the impression that our pastors have cost anyone their job. That simply isn’t the case.”

    Whoa – $5.9 million in assets?

  • SMP

    It has taken me several days to think through how to answer the posts question. After careful thought, I believe my faith has been shaken. Somewhere in almost 2 decades of listening to the like mindedness thinking in my SGM church, I lost myself. My faith GREW in the Lord (needed to cling to Him for stability!) but my faith in myself completely disappeared. At first glance, I thought this was a wonderful thing. Losing myself so I would decrease…that God would increase. Even upon examination some of you might tell me that this is a good thing but NOT until I left SGM did the damage begin to settle.

    I can not believe how I actually think sometimes. It is wrong and unhealthy. It relinquishes any God fearing confidence in me AS A woman. I struggle often with my role in serving my husband, my children and even my friends. I do not have a good grasp on biblical submission at all and I have no idea if I am being a good friend or not.

    How I long to be the woman after Gods own heart! Instead, I don’t even know if I am a good wife. I still get freaked out if he runs a vacumn because the pastors wife told me that she would NEVER let her husband do that. The stories are endless. Sure I can look to scripture but its my SGM pastors that I hear echoing in my head. My heart rebels. God, grant me your peace in the way you have made me to serve others all around me and heal my lack of faith in myself as a Godly woman. What more can I do?

  • Roadwork


    The financial statement can be found here:

    Net Assets of $5,853,353 on page 3.

    On page 3 you’ll see things like:

    Current assets:
    Cash and cash equivalents $87,261
    Investments $2,455,106

    Property and equipment:
    Land $768,170
    Buildings $2,794,966
    Furniture, fixtures and equipment $905,859
    Less: Accumulated depreciation and amortization ($1,297,672)
    Net property and equipment $3,171,323

    I have no idea how this compares to other (real) denominations.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I can tell you how it compares to my church which supports three foreign orphanges and an inner city ministry.

    My church could not even afford 1000 bucks for a particular speaker they really wanted in on a certain topic, and the speaker (who works for a non profit) got the non profit to cut the fee way back so they could speak.

    My pastor lives in a modest home, the asst pastor in an even smaller one, with old cars and no extra money. But the Lord is moving in our midst and adults and teens are getting saved and people are praying for revival. Glory to God.

    2.5 million in investments, and they beg people to scrimp and save to give to building funds. Ugh.

    SGM would be pretty broke though, if the courts awarded them the going rates to settle sex abuse cases. The Mormon victims recently were getting over a million each. Just the victims who posted here would wipe out that whole 5.9 million. So you can see why they refuse to talk at all about the sex abuse cases.

  • Stunned


    I am afraid your 271 may be dangerously true or close to the truth. Very close.

  • Unassimilated

    Argus –

    Reminds me of my GE toaster. When I went to get a manual for it online, I learned that, in addition to the other 4-5 corporate brands placed on the same exact model, it was sold as a Black and Decker, Kenmore, & Home Essentials.

    In that instance, the Branding simply existed for those that have certain loyalties or perceptions about the alleged manufacture. If everyone is indeed, selling the same thing under a different name, reputation becomes even more paramount.

    In regard to the church, I would love to know the theological shift that brought SGM to “community group.”

    Being that the definition of a community starts at “A group of people,” having a “community group,” or “group group” is kinda silly and redundant.

    Freshly loaded language from Pope CJ & friends. Not the type of SGM change I was hoping for.

  • KMD

    Thanks for sharing that information. I am glad CLC made this statement and was a smart move to hedge off SGM laying off staff and the implication being that this was the result of CLC stopping their contributions to SGM. With the amount of money that SGM it isn’t like SGM is living “hand to mouth” on income coming in and if SGM decided to lay people off the have sufficient funds to give those laid off a generous severance package. If they did lay people off hopefully the severance would be as generous as what the Mahaney son in laws were given.

    If SGM wanted to save money the could first start by cutting C.J. Mahaney’s alleged exorbitant salary he makes on top of speaking fees and book royalties.

  • Unassimilated


    Those assets and investments are just SGM, and do not include the ‘franchise’ locations
    property or investments. You would have to add thirty Million Dollars to that number if you only added CLC’s property and assets.

    A denomination would hold ownership of all the buildings & assets across the globe, and report as such. If SGM was put together as a denomination they would list over 500 million in assets. While not listed and filled as a denomination, they do operate as a denomination in the way they control the ‘franchisees’, as the assets are always under SGM power and influence. Yet for the Tax man, they are just a smaller integrated auxiliary.

    So with a half a billion dollar kingdom, can we honestly say its not about the $$$. What good is influence without $$$. Money is influence and power. What the $$$ doesn’t get you, the dossier they keep on everyone does.

    Its not unlike a seemingly modest home that on the inside, has $125,000 in appointments.

  • Oswald

    Steve240 #279 — “If SGM wanted to save money the could first start by cutting C.J. Mahaney’s alleged exorbitant salary he makes on top of speaking fees and book royalties”. I was thinking that a truly humble man would be the first to offer to do this if necessary, without even a hint from anyone else.

    Someone at Refuge asked, ‘What does any church really need SGM for’? Good question.

  • Argus

    Unassimilated, is it possible that whether or not the individual church buildings and land belong to the individual churches or to the denomination depends upon the governing documents of the denomination?

    I know that a recent major legal case was decided in favor of the Episcopal Church, ruling that property reverted to the denomination when a parish broke away.

    That may not be true, though, for Baptist or Assemblies of God. I don’t know.

    I was told that the local SGM church here could leave without consequence, owning all its property. I don’t know that the idea has ever been put to the test, though.

  • B.R. Clifton

    I don’t think we should be all that optomistic about the future release (if any) of the AOR report. It must be remembered, as I understand it, the report was bought and paid for by SGM. As such it is their sole property to do with as they see fit. Another though is the SGM board now in place is not the same board that purchased or made arrangements for the AOR investigation and report. They may or may not feel any obligation to honor promises or implied promises made by the previous board. The have a number of options they can pursue at their own choosing.
    1. Ignore the roport altogether.
    2. Release their own version of what the report says.
    3. Release only their reply or response to the report.
    4. Release only certain parts of the report as they see fit.
    5. Release the report in it’s entirety along with their response.

    Whichever they choose to co, they will be within their legal right as sole owner of the report. Each of the choices has it’s own consequences which no doubt they are now or will be weighing before taking any action on the report. All of this, may or may not be in consideration of any moral obligation to be forth-coming and release the report unabridged.

    Counting on the report triggering any wide sweeping changes could turn out to be just another busted balloon.

  • Unassimilated

    In all things legal, it depends..on many things, but in short, it depends on what you could get a Judge to agree with. I am not so familiar with all the deeds and titles that I could make a good guess as to what a court may decide.

    I would imagine that there may be key differences between adopted churches, and church plants. The key difference being that the start up funds come from SGM for a plant. With adoptions SGM could claim many expenses, PC, training, resources, infrastructure, etc., and parlay them through agreements that bring certain entitlements/ownership/control.


    Where the business of SGM may not have deed or title on many locations, there is this
    from the membership agreement;

    Joint Commitments: When a member church chooses to no longer affiliate with Sovereign Grace, the apostolic team of Sovereign Grace will relinquish its role in a God-honoring manner, and grant that church the freedom to withdraw unless the leadership of the member church is suspected of heresy, immorality, financial impropriety or substantial and unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualifications appearing in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 and Titus 1: 6-9.

    Here is Brent’s experience with the aforementioned membership agreement;

    The apostolic team can take over any church, if in the opinion of the SGM Board, there are “substantial and unrepentant breaches of the leadership qualifications.” If you get on C.J.’s or Dave’s or their agent’s bad side, you will find yourself in breach of “leadership qualifications.” You’ll have no freedom to leave, try as hard as you may. That’s basically what happened with me and Grace Community Church in 2009. Sovereign Grace took charge, did a “gracious evaluation,” shut down the church, and turned over 100k in money and assets to Mickey Connolly. The GCC Care Group leaders did the bidding of Dave Harvey, Gene Emerson, Bob Kauflin, Wayne Brooks and Phil Sasser. It has happened to other men and their churches.

  • Unassimilated

    In other words, they have historically been free to fully assimilate any franchisee.

    This based typically on SGM claims of Gifting.

    Clears up the ‘strange’ concept of de-gifting for me.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    When you read this, about the financial shenanigans of TBN and the prosperity preachers, you realize that the real problem is the multitudes of people who give until it hurts to finance this stuff. (People like me who gave their sacrifical offering to fund a building and lifestyle that my own home and lifestyle doesn’t remotely come close to.)

    Glad that CLC wised up.

    Argus 271/272…good posts.

  • Lee

    Steve 240 @268,

    The group “Glad” sang “How Can They Live Without Jesus” on an album called “No Compromise–Remembering the Music of Keith Green”. Not sure if Bob K did vocals on that album or not for Glad but he certainly wasn’t a soloist or anything.

  • One point about SGM Churches leaving SGM is there really haven’t been any that have left. It sure sounds like the old son that says “you can check out any time but you can never leave.” Thus the clauses shown above may have been used to “degift” a pastor when the pastor is thinking of having his local church.

  • Lee

    According to Bob K’s bio on SGM, he left Glad in 1984 and only wrote and arranged for them after that. Chances are really good he never sang “How Can They Live Without Jesus” on the Keith Green album.

  • exCLCer

    Did SGM’s problems shake my faith?

    No, SGM’s rampant and obvious problems actually did one better than that for me — it freed me from faith… faith – the indoctrinated vice (not a virtue)….faith – the great pretext to escape the need to think and evaluate evidence….faith – a belief in spite of and even sometimes because of the lack of evidence. This church standing in such stark contrast to this freedom, making it obvious, and allowing me to appreciate genuine goodness and morality as a human quality, not a religious one, is the only silver lining in all SGM/CLC has done to affect my life.

    I spent the day today at the Reason Rally in DC today and marveled in the sea of people there who were good people, and didn’t even need a god or a rule book, or a moral leader telling them how to live their life in order to be good……meanwhile the christians protested along the sidewalks shouting their message of demise, hell, D**nation, etc…… I’m glad to be free of faith, and if SGM?CLC and their overbearing shepherding ways contributed to me realizing that only sheep need a shepherd,and that joyously I am not a sheep, then I am glad for that.

  • Unassimilated

    Bob retains ownership in the Glad name & Productions, and is still involved in various degrees. Glad member Don Nalle came to CLC in 2003, and is their Director of Communications.

    From the Glad website;

    In 1998 came A Cappella Worship- Volume I, a recording of God-exalting worship songs which marked the return of the team that launched the first A Cappella Project — George King, as executive producer; Ed Nalle, as producer; and Bob Kauflin, as lead arranger (3 original songs penned by Bob, and a total of seven arrangements). More recently, the group released A Cappella Worship- Volume II inspired primarily by the writings of John Piper and the worship music of Sovereign Grace Ministries (formerly PDI). Glad’s most recent efforts are Voices of Christmas (released September 26, 2000), an eclectic and engaging offering of well known carols and original songs, and Pure and Holy Passion, the group’s first band offering in six years.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    PDI in 276——–What a great post!

    It’s amazing how much money SGM can rack up when it doesn’t do foreign missions….. $5.9 million?

    And ladies Bible studies? I guess they can’t afford that either…..

    CLC/SGM are both so self-absorbed, very much focused on themselves instead of the world around them. Busy looking at their own navels, their programs, their children, their families, contemplating their own sin……..

  • Breeezey

    For ExCLCer’s Mom. We both attended CLC at the same time. In an earlier post your daughter recognized my son TJ as a classmate from 87. Like you, my child (who turns 30 this year) has turned from his childhood faith. TJ was baptized at Fishnet. I still have the picture. TJ is not a militant atheist. He’s just living his life to please himself. When his mother and I divorced he went through a number of changes and we kept a tenuous relationship at best. It was then rent in two for 7 years and while he now speaks to me with a civil tongue I have a hard time forgiving his rotten attitude. His mom and I are not rancorous and get along fine.
    I saw your daughter’s post from yesterday. I’m sorry she continues to be hurt by people who claim to love God. I’m convinced as I read her posts here that she doesn’t even know how hurt she is. And while I cannot say she is in my daily prayers she is whenever I see she has posted here. I saw an article written by a guy named Jack Kinsella called Water, Carbon, and Electrical Impulses on the Omega Letter website which talked about the bankruptcy of being an atheist. I’m reposting it here because as Jack shows atheists truly have NOTHING to stand on in their belief system. And hopefully if she sees it the hard shell she has constructed around her heart will begin to crack just a little and the God we here know and love will begin to break through. She is very smart and very strong willed and extremely hurt. My hope and prayer will be for her to see through the hurts of her past and begin to see to the true Father that will heal her of all of the hurts of her past. This is Jack’s Article:
    Water, Carbon, and Electrical Impulses –
    “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)
    I saw the following t-shirt slogan the other day. It read as follows:
    Atheism: “the belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs. Any questions?”
    I gotta get me one of those, if for no other reason than because atheists love to portray themselves as “free thinkers.”
    Jordan Froese, writing for the Huffington Post, summed up atheism as he understands it thusly:
    “I am an atheist, and I subscribe to the idea that humanity and all of its works are essentially the sum of water, carbon, and random electrical impulses.”
    I’ve been analyzing that sentence for a few minutes now and am of the opinion that a two-word change would make it a lot clearer:
    “I am an idiot, because I subscribe to the idea that humanity and all of its works are essentially the sum of water, carbon, and random electrical impulses. I don’t mean mean ‘idiot’ unkindly I mean it in the clinic sense of the word. Consider what he is saying, here. The Mona Lisa is the sum of water, carbon and random electrical impulses. Following his line of reasoning, then so too, is the atomic bomb. The Bible. A crossword puzzle. An energy-efficient home. The computer you are reading this on. The software that makes it work. A Fabrege egg. The Sistene Chapel. The Great Wall of China. A baby’s smile. A tree. According to Froese, all these — simply the sum of water, carbon and random electrical impulses. Your ability to read these words are not the result of anything. Instead, they are the result of nothing. THIS is the position adopted by those who claim that reason is on their side!

    Recently, Stephen F. Hawking, hailed as one of the most brilliant scientists alive, made headlines by sharing what he knows about God, the afterlife and outer space. Hawking certainly deserves the title of the most brilliant scientists alive – he knows things no other scientist does. Hawking says that he knows that there is no God. Hawking says that he knows that heaven does not exist. Hawking says that he knows that everything was created from nothing according to a random process. But as brilliant as Stephen F. Hawking is supposed to be, he was rendered speechless by former child actor Kirk Cameron’s two-word challenge: “Prove it.”

    It always struck me as odd that secular scientists — who would never dream of making a blanket statement of fact concerning a topic they know nothing about and for which they had no empirical evidence — are completely comfortable making blanket assertions– as fact — like “there is no God.” The atheist’s blanket proclamation that there is no God, or that the works of mankind are nothing more than water, carbon and electrical impulses is actually a much more difficult position with far less empirical evidence in support than is the Christian position. The atheist position is one of total negativity. There is no evidence to support atheism. There are no ‘proofs’ that God does not exist. The entire atheist argument rests on the absence of any evidence whatsoever. It is that absence of evidence that forms the body of argument supporting atheism.

    Conversely, the Christian has the Bible, two thousand years of Christian history, various and sundry Christian denominations, prayer books, liturgical worship standards, and the support of history. These are things that can be seen, handled, examined and analyzed. In a word — evidence.

    What does the atheist offer in evidence of his position? Attacks on the Bible, Christian history, the various denominations, prayer and worship and history. His only defense is an attack. He cannot offer anything in support of his position except his own doubts. The only way that his position is in any way intellectually defensible is in the abstract – he can argue that it is at least possible that God does not exist. His entire argument rests on that possibility. Moreover — and this is key — it depends on his possibility being the only possibility. Atheists have another major problem with their worldview that immediately exposes the philosophical bankruptcy of their position. Even if they were successful in refuting evidences offered in favor of the existence of God, that in no way offers any support to atheism. Even if the atheist refutes all the evidences placed before him, he still loses the debate, IF the standard is really as they claim, that of reason and logic.

    Guys like Stephen F. Hawking cannot say there are no evidences for God, because Hawking cannot know all evidences that possibly exist in the world. At best, the atheist can only say that the evidence presented so far has been insufficient. This logically means that there could be sufficient evidences presented in the future. If an atheist is intellectually honest, he will acknowledge at this point that he has lost the debate, since his only alternative is to deny that there may indeed be evidence as-yet undiscovered — which then becomes the foundation of his argument. Spelled out in words, it would read like this:
    “My position is that I know beyond all possible doubt that which is unknowable, based on a total lack of evidence in support of my position.”
    His opponent’s argument in summary is this one:
    “The age and existence of the Bible, the historical failure to stamp it out, together with the faith and inspiration it has engendered, and the billions of people that believe it — all qualify as hard evidences that can be examined, debated and interpreted, but not refuted, since all exist in the real world and can be demonstrated.”
    Every single debate between a Christian and an atheist follows the exact same pattern. The Christian presents evidence, the atheist attacks the Christian’s presentation. The Christian always goes first because without the Christian’s prior assertions, the atheist has NOTHING to say.
    Picture the debate as it would unfold if the atheist goes first.
    “There is no God because I can’t see Him.”
    That’s ALL he’s got. He can’t add anything to that without reaching into the believer’s evidence bag for something to attack. By itself, the atheist position is identical to that offered by our pal Jordan Froese:
    “I am an idiot, because I subscribe to the idea that humanity and all of its works are essentially the sum of water, carbon, and random electrical impulses. And since I have no evidence of my own, the only evidence I am going to offer in support of my position is that your evidence doesn’t convince me.”
    “See, I told you I was an idiot.”
    The defense rests.

  • Oswald

    Breezey #293 — This bears out the truth that Satan is not the author or creator of anything, but rather he perverts and mistreats the good God has created. He lies and uses half-truth to make his wares seem attractive and true. He seems so sympathetic to our every hurt. In reality his offerings are empty and can never deliver all that is hoped for. And he laughs.

  • BrokenHearted

    hahaha – ok, so here’s the deal. “Unassimilated” you had me SO confused…

    You said Don Nalle is on staff at CLC, and was in GLAD. But, one of my brother’s good friend’s Dad “last name Nalle” was in GLAD and is on staff at Reston Bible Church (I think). So I just spent 10 minutes researching and realized there were 2 Nalle’s in GLAD. :-p :-) Don and Ed. :)

  • QE2

    Dearest SMP (post 274),

    I am so sorry for what you are going through! I have been thinking a lot about how to respond to your post. And the Lord gave me a wonderful analogy.

    SGM views roles rigidly. It’s like Five Guys, or In-and-Out. A meal consists of a hamburger. Minor variations are allowed-lettuce, or a pickle, or tomato and ketchup but no lettuce-but the only valid choice is a hamburger.

    Now imagine a tasty spice you love and can recognize by smell. Go to an Italian restaurant and sniff the chicken parm. You can pick out the spice amid the rest of the ingredients. Go to another restaurant and order marinated steak. Sniff. There’s that yummy spice again! Now go to a Chinese restaurant, and even though the dish is completely different, you can still detect the aroma! And if you decide to eat at the burger joint, you can taste the spice in the hamburger patty, too. So many different restaurants, different styles of cooking, different tasting meals-but in all of them, the same spice, combining with different ingredients to make such different but mouthwatering meals.

    And so it should be with each of us. The spice is Christ, a crucial ingredient, but how he is combined with each unique personality, gifts and skill set results in drastically different lives! That is something to celebrate! When we look at life through that lens, we give each other the freedom to become whatever God would have us to become!

    I realize I have come to despise the adjectives “Godly” and “Biblical”. Because in SGM it usually means “do it the way we tell you is Godly or Biblical”. Yes, my pastor’s wife is Godly, but if I have to reflect Jesus by acting exactly like her, then shoot me now. I have no interest in mimicing her expression of Godliness-it’s so NOT me. I want to reflect Christ the way he made me to reflect Him, in the freedom he purchased for me.

    So my advice is to not worry about being “Godly” or “biblical”, or fulfilling your role. Focus on loving Jesus. Out of that will flow loving your husband and children in the unique way the God meant for you to love them. I can’t tell you what that will look like, because it should look completely different for you than it does for me, Mrs. Pastor, or any of the beautiful women of God here on this blog!

    Much love,

    (Now I will follow the SGM example of recommending books. Two books that have helped me tremendously in joyful, freedom-filled Christian living are Waking the Dead and Beautiful Outlaw, both by John Eldredge)

  • Breeezey

    Hi Oswald. I was tooling around on The Omega Letter website and found another article that I think you would like on atheism and their philosophical problem.
    Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing
    Jack Kinsella – Omega Letter Editor

    One of the first challenges out of the mouth of the skeptic when confronted with the Gospel is often a demand for proof that God exists in the first place. But when you get down to it, the challenge is exactly backwards — on every level.

    First, there is the problem created for the atheist if God doesn’t exist. If there is no Creator, then we came from nothing. You see, that’s a problem. The one thing that we know does NOT exist in the physical universe of the atheist is nothing.

    Renes Descartes, often called the “father of modern philosophy” disproved the existence of nothing in his famous cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am.) What Descartes was pondering when the bombshell hit him was what he called the ultimate level of skepticism — he had even begun to doubt his own existence.

    “But I have convinced myself that there is absolutely nothing in the world, no sky, no earth, no minds, no bodies. Does it now follow that I too do not exist? No. If I convinced myself of something [or thought anything at all] then I certainly existed. But there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me. In that case I too undoubtedly exist, if he is deceiving me; and let him deceive me as much as he can, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something. So, after considering everything very thoroughly, I must finally conclude that the proposition, I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by me or conceived in my mind.”

    Descartes disproved the existence of nothing philosophically whereas both science and common sense disprove the existence of nothing in the material world logically. Nothing does not and cannot exist. To simplify it even more, nothing is the absence of something — it cannot exist independently.

    We live in a material universe. Even the vacuum of deepest space is something — it’s vacuum. Vaccum can be observed, it can be experimented with and it can be rationally analyzed. What is known about vacuum scientifically is that it is essentially empty of matter such that it’s gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. But the notion of a perfect vacuum with a gaseous pressure of zero is only theoretical — it has never been observed, nor empirically proved to exist.
    But the entire argument from the point of atheism is that nothing — which cannot exist in a material universe — is responsible for the existence of the material universe. The Big Bang Theory says the universe is in a state of expansion. If it is going forward, then reversing the process brings up back to that point in time when the universe exploded into existence. Before that, the Big Bang theory argues, there was nothing — no vacuum, no empty space, just nothing — a theoretical impossibility. That is the skeptic’s burden.

    On the other hand, the existence of God is, at the minimum, at least theoretically possible. And the existence of God accounts for what was there before the “Big Bang” in accordance with the Law of Causality. The skeptic’s burden is to disprove the Law of Causality applies to the Big Bang — that is, the Big Bang was caused by nothing, from which the material universe sprang into existence — from nothing and because of nothing. That’s a pretty tall order, given that the basic premise upon which the entire argument rests demands ASSUMING the most logical explanation — the existence of nothing — a premise that violates every known law of science. A skeptic cannot prove God does not exist, because that demands proving a negative. God could exist, therefore it cannot be proved He does not. Conversely, nothing cannot exist, a philosophical, scientific and logical principle long since established to be true. The heaviest burden of proof isn’t on the Christian — he has the only logical argument that has a leg to stand on. And that’s certainly better than nothing.

    “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:19-20)

    The more science learns about our universe, the more scientists are reluctantly forced to acknowlegee the existence of Intelligent Design. That the universe demands a Designer as obvious as a wristwatch requiring a maker or a dictionary requiring an editor. Then there is the existence of human conscience to both consider and explain. It exists as an inner voice that allows the person to follow his best judgment and highest instincts. It is unique to humanity, and it is that conscience that demands to know about God. (Even the atheist wouldn’t have decided that he was an atheist if he didn’t first contemplate the existence of God.)

    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalms 14:1)

    The skeptic’s blanket statement that God does not exist stands as sufficient testimony to the truth of the Psalmist’s words. So do all of the skeptic’s arguments, when broken down into their component parts. To begin with, none of them are in support of their own position, to wit; “nothing is responsible for creation.” They can neither defend nor explain the existence of ‘nothing’. Instead, the skeptic’s argument MUST come in the form of an attack on Something, to wit: a Creator God. But even then, they cannot launch a direct attack on the existence of a Creator God since they have ‘nothing’ to use to prove their position, so instead, the attack is centered on what you believe about God vs. what they believe about God. Because make no mistake, they also believe in God in some sense, or logically, there would be nothing upon which to base the discussion. They just don’t want to believe and are seeking justification for that disbelief. The atheist needs to sucker you into the positive position of proving God exists, because he cannot prove the negative proposition.

    Have you ever been in a debate about God in which you didn’t find yourself trying to prove that God exists? The skeptic’s argument doesn’t offer alternative answers — it only raises questions in the hope you can’t answer them either. Why is that? It is the atheist whose proposition demands positive evidence, since his proposition demands a belief in the existence of nothing. Not an absence of knowledge, but a positive declaration of certainty in the existence of nothing.

    There are libraries full of books attempting to prove the existence of God or to argue against the existence of God. There aren’t very many books that attempt to prove the existence of nothing. The very concept of nothing is something. Since the concept of nothing is itself something, the existence of nothing is therefore disqualified. Cogito ergo sum — I think therefore, I am. Does God exist? Well, if He didn’t, then there would be nothing to debate. And nobody debates about nothing.
    And that is something.

  • exCLCer


    “My position is that I know beyond all possible doubt that which is unknowable, based on a total lack of evidence in support of my position.”
    ……that statement is a real stretch trying to speak for atheist. BTW, I am a non-theist, and a humanist as well as identifying as an atheist. I suppose non-christians just have nothing to live for according to you, huh? That’s not arrogant. Hmph. I live for this life and the pleasures and possibilities it offers in THIS lifetime, and the people I care for, and the progression and civilization of the species, oh, and for good food. I have nothing supernatural to fear or to worship. Morality is not a religious construct, but a social one, and goodness requires no theology. My atheistic stance is based on this, and if god appears and provides more than circumstantial anecdotal evidence for him/herself, then fine, I will stand corrected. But there is none. The preponderance of evidences would suggest there is no such thing and that belief in one only furthers human suffering and division on a grand scale throughout history. Dawkins was hardly “shut down” by Kirk Cameron. Dawkins, arguably a genius, wouldn’t be the first person rendered speechless by such a ridiculous argument. Prove that a man cant live on saturns surface…ha, you cant right now(duh), but reason and scientific evidences we already know allow us to presume it is highly unlikely, if not statistically impossible, and if you found a book saying it was, we would know that to be generally considered false information.
    I don’t think anyone would want to base their entire life on some other persons interpretation of why thye believe a man could live on saturns surface. Preposterous. And yet, as a humanist, I choose to tolerate other peoples freedom to believe in mythinformation – AS LONG as they do not negatively affect my life in some way or harm others with their beliefs. I hardly think SGM qualifies in this regard, given the long list of their vehement actions over time.
    Belief, faith, anecdotes, stories, holy books, nor an entire membership of people in agreement of any one of these constitute “evidence”.
    I am convinced Christian faith is arrogance of the highest kind – to presume one knows the truth based on no evidence, that all other “gods” of all other religions worldwide (even far predating ones own) are presumed inferior to the one you claim, to uphold and impose archaic rules and ideals as proof of a patent on morality, all the while with a unsubstantiated confidence of the horrific demise and hellpath of every and anyone who would not agree with you, backed up by a rich tradition of violent torturous inhumane force implemented on dissenters in the name of your benevolent (dare I say malevolent) god throughout mans history.
    If god is willing to prevent evil, but not able – then he is not omnipotent. If he able, but not willing – then he is malevolent.
    If he is both able and willing – but does not prevent evil -then whence cometh evil?

    And if he neither able nor willing- then why call him a god?

    Are you really copying and pasting large article section of Jack Kinsella to support what you believe? That guy is the real idiot! He is a rapture/end times preacher, attending the Glenn Beck Rally, publicly calling the Mormon religion and Islam “delusional” because of their beliefs which are no more ridiculous and magical in nature than Christianity, and is known to go on for hours supposedly teaching what heaven and hell is physically like- ha, a living authority on after death, huh? I’m sure that’s based on “evidence”, right? Arrogant much?

    “So when you die, the spirit functions much as the body did, as the primary sensory gateway into the soul. The soul of a person that dies unregenerate, like the rich man of Luke 16, has lost its physical sensory input. His spirit is dark, dead, and incapable of getting any spiritual input. He is conscious and aware, like the rich man, but he is buried in hell where the only input he gets is burning pain. That lost soul will have his physical sensory input restored to him just before being cast alive into a Lake of Fire. There, he will be deprived of comfort, since his spirit is dead, but his resurrection body will be eternally alive. Brrrr! considering the alternative, suddenly the idea of eternal church sounds, well, heavenly.” -Jack Kinsella

    ……he’s your go to guy to defend Christianity?? See why I shake my head?

    I do not want to debate the evils of faith on this blog, not with you or anyone else, because if there’s anything I’ve learned, its that indoctrination may be the strongest force of all and the older generation would rather die that consider that the ideology they have dedicated their life to, made their children suffer for, suspended critical thinking in lieu of, and wasted all of their finances on, was all a hoax…..I know most of the people on this blog are highly religious – and i try to respect their right to be so in the hopes they would reciprocate the tolerance – so I avoid discussions of doctrine and ideology, since I’m not here to convince anyone of anything – so I wont be posting further on this, but I did feel compelled to respond (even though you disguised your post as if it was for my mother and as if she was interested in your argument for theism — she doesn’t need to be convinced — the kool-aid stain is dark red)
    By the way, please don’t be so hard on your son…. there’s nothing more painful for children than to grow up watching our parents suffer from the indoctrination we ourselves were able to actually break away from. Its hard to watch it still affect what is said and thought. Parent blaming our indiscretions on not being indoctrinated enough, rather than admitting to the effects of religious parenting in the SGM bubble we did not even have a choice in belonging to is heartbreaking. If your son made it to thirty with a rotten attitude being the worst he had to show for it, be grateful. We never had a choice while we were young.

  • Oswald

    exCLCer #299 — Historically, we can see that we are all going to die. So I guess we could each just wait until ‘that day’ and see the truth, one way or another, for ourselves. No argument needed.
    Thankfully, God has given us a heads-up in his word.

  • Unassimilated

    Ex CLCer – I would agree with you in that the church universal for centuries has existed more as a contrast to the the life of Jesus as told in the bible, than as an example.

    Perhaps it is what Ghandi had in mind when he said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

    We continue, as Christians, to ignore the life of Christ, and look to a God made in our own image, a God that serves our desires, a God that is more concerned with building a brick and mortar institution here on earth. It’s sad, because the Bible quotes Jesus as saying,

    “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36)

    Yet for centuries, ‘Christian’ institutions like SGM have made it about this world. They have created positions and authorities for themselves, that Jesus never spoke of.

    I wish you the best as you live in this world, and would apologize to you simply for having had a part in the hypocrisy that has become the trademark of Christianity. I may not have had any direct contact with you, yet I was for many years part of the problem.

    May you find peace in all that you do.

  • xyz

    ExClcer #299,

    “…because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that indoctrination may be the strongest force of all…”

    Hear hear — well said. I too have learned this. And it’s one reason I’m so astonished at pastors and teachers who wield this influence so carelessly, or worse, intentionally. That’s one of my biggest questions for my former SGM pastors and for the SGM leadership: do they know what they’ve done to some people?

    That’s why, with all the changes seeming to begin at my former church, Fairfax, I’m still waiting to see how the past is addressed (publicly), to know if they truly understand and feel remorse.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Off track comment here, but we just got back from seeing the movie October Baby. We so throughly enjoyed it. I hope ya’ll can get to see it; the movie has a limited showing so try to go soon.

  • The shenanigans that SGM had done with Mahaney where one statement issued by Mahaney sounded as if he was leaving the board and control and and a later statement indicated he was heading up a committee etc. sure sounds like the typical “bait and switch” or tell you what you want to hear then later announce a change. I didn’t really think C.J. Mahaney was going to give up leadership of SGM. SGM just had to try and show that was supposedly happening and then later find a way for this to not really happen.

  • Breeezey

    SGM’s issues do not shake my faith because I know in Whom I believe. We have a number of lurkers that pop in and out and never post. SGM isn’t the only “denomination” with issues that have wrecked the faith of some of its most vulnerable members. So while part of this is an answer to a challenge I’m moreso writing this to build the faith of some of the weakest among us that need to be built up in the faith.

    I’m not an expert on apologetics but nor am I completely ignorant of the subject. Proving the existence of God is relatively easy. Fulfilled prophecy is His signature. The question is where I would start. I would start by letting the person I was talking to know that the Old Testament canon was finished roughly 450 years before the birth of Christ. It was translated into Greek 250 years before the birth of Christ. Therefore the late dating game could not be played because time is at the very least impartial. I could go to Daniel chapter 2 and then from that point give the interpretation of Nebuchanezzar’s dream for the 4 world empires as Daniel lists in order: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greek and then Rome. The same list is in Daniel 7. Daniel 8 lists the entire career of Alexander the Great. As a matter of historical fact when Alexander came to Jerusalem the High Priest met him outside the gates of the city and showed him the scroll of Daniel and Alexander did not destroy the city because of his respect for the Hebrew God. I could then go to various scriptures in the Old Testament and show where they predicted things that happened to peoples and cities that were fulfilled hundreds of years after they were written. This is a short list I could show easily:
    1. Tyre – Ezekiel 26:3-5, 7, 12, 14, 16 (written 590 B.C.)
    2. Samaria – (Micah 1:6 – written 750 B.C.)
    3. Jerico – (Joshua 6:26 – written in 1451 B.C.)
    4. Edom – (Jer. 49:16-18 – written 600 B.C.)
    5. Babylon – (Isa. 13:19-21 – written 712 B.C.) and (Jer. 51:26,43 – written 600 B.C.)
    Of course I could also go to the personage of Jesus of Nazareth. There were 332 prophesies that were predicted about the Jewish Messiah that were written at least 450 years before he was born. Here is a quick 15:
    1. Place of birth – Micah 5:2
    2. Preceded by a messenger – Isaiah 40:3
    3. Teacher of parables – Psalms 78:2
    4. He would enter the temple of God – Malachi 3:1
    5. He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey – Zechariah 9:9
    6. Betrayed by a friend – Psalms 41:9
    7. Sold for 30 pieces of silver – Zechariah 11:12
    8. Money to be thrown in God’s house – Zechariah 11:13b
    9. Price given for potter’s field – Zechariah 11:13b
    10. Forsaken by His disciples – Zechariah 13:7
    11. Hands and feet pierced – Psalms 22:16
    12. Crucified with thieves – Isaiah 53:12
    13. Rejected by his own people – Isaiah 53:3
    14. Garments parts and lots cast – Psalms 22:18
    15. Bones not broken – Psalms 34:20

    The greatest prophecy in the Bible is this one: Daniel 9:24-27 – “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

    Why is this the greatest prophecy in the Old Testament? Daniel wrote this at about 550 BC. so there are dates in this that cannot be refuted and cannot be explained unless God exists since He is the person that created time and the only one who knows the end from the beginning. Look at this in verse 24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people…” and this is in verse 25 “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks…” We know the date this proclamation was given. This was given on March 14 (1 Nisan) 445BC by Artaxerxes Longimanus. We have confirmation of the date through the Archives of Persia. Then look at this in Daniel 9:26 – “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself…” Sir Robert Anderson of Scotland Yard did the research in his wonderful book The Coming Prince and showed that from the date that Artaxerxes gave that decree (also recorded in Nehemiah 1) until the exact day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey was exactly 483 years (173880 days). If this is not proof that God exists I don’t know what is. Prophecy is the signature of the only One who knows the end from the beginning, the God of the Bible. There is NO other religious book that has His signature, prophecy. Not the Koran, not the Bagavad Gita, not the Book of Mormon, not the Vedas, there is no other religious book that matches the Bible in that area. Its not “arrogance” when the Bible and Christians claims exclusivity. Jesus was the one who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO MAN comes to the Father but by ME.” I didn’t say it. He did. Ted Williams once said “Its not arrogance if you can do it.”

    Back to proofs… I could then go to the proofs of the resurrection of Jesus. There was a 2 ton stone in front of his tomb. Who moved it? There is no question Jesus died on the cross. Where is His body? You know if the religious leaders of the day had it they would have wheeled it through the streets of Jerusalem stopping Christainity in the cradle. Why would the disciples die for a lie? (Paul had his head cut off, Peter was crucified upside down, John was boiled in oil. James was run through with a sword. Others were martyred throughout the centuries.) Why would the Roman Soldiers lie? If they were asleep on duty they would be burned alive in their own clothes. Where is the grave site and the body of Jesus? We know where they buried Him but He is not there becaue He is risen.

    As for the trilemma… It is easily answered once the attributes of God and man are carefully explained. God’s attributes are:
    1. Uncreated
    2. Creator
    3. Holy
    4. Just
    5. Merciful
    6. Omnipotent
    7. Omniscience
    8. Omnipresent
    9. Infinite
    10. Loving
    11. Kind
    12. Eternal

    Here is the problem, most people don’t realized that there is a difference between God’s being (metaphysics) and his personality (morals). His being is uncreated. His being is omnipresent. He upholds the universe by the word of His power (omnipotent). On the personal side God is a creator. He is holy and just and merciful.

    Man is a finite creator. Man cannot create matter but he can create his choices. God took a risk in creating a being that can originate creative choices within his own being. It is quite simple then to answer the trilemma once it is realized that evil is not a creation of God but it originates creatively within a person other than God who is holy. Evil is not an independent entity. It is not something that pre-exists and we can choose it. We create evil by our choices. We are independent finite creators. So we can create good and evil by our choices.

    God can get rid of evil whenever He wants to just by judging all men by the standards of His holiness. His mercy is why He sent His Son to pay the price for our sin. His justice is why He needed to send His Son to be the substitute. The substitute could have no sin of its own in order to be the perfect sacrifice.
    God is both willing and able but you MUST add merciful to the mix. You can’t just mix and match attributes to seemingly create a conflict. God could judge us all against His holiness and prevent all evil. There would be no one left alive after that judgment for sin. Where does evil come from. It originates creatively inside each of us.

    C.S. Lewis said that, “… evil is God’s megaphone to a non-believing world. Evil speaks of moral law. Moral law demands a moral Lawgiver, and it is He that we call God!”

    Human beings confuse ‘good’ and ‘evil’ with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ all the time. It is that confusion that fuels the ‘a good God wouldn’t create evil’ argument. ‘Right’ and ‘wrong’ are human moral issues. ‘Good’ and ‘evil’ are OUTCOMES, and are entirely in the Hands of God.

    “And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

    Suppose God did eliminate evil from creation? For God to eliminate evil, He would have to eliminate our capacity of choice and thus our capacity to do both evil and good. And such a world is inferior to the one we have: one where love is possible, despite its inherent evil. What kind of God would do this? Only one kind. A God of love.

    In order that we might not suffer the penalty of our evil choices (sin), He, like a loving Father, paid the penalty for our sins. He allowed his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be murdered on a Roman cross — arguably the most evil act in the history of the universe. But this act of great evil gave rise to the greatest act of love in the universe: paying the penalty for the wrong choices we make, which are the result of the way He created us in the first place! Right and wrong are human moral choices arising out of our human moral code. Whether they result in good or evil outcomes is up to God according to His plan. Our job as Christians is to trust Him. God knows what He is doing!

    The greatest evil in the history of the universe resulted in the greatest Gift ever bestowed on mankind.

    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

    I’m sorry if this post was long but I wanted to give evidences to firm up the faith of anyone reading that was wavering due to the stuff we write about on a normal basis here. God is here. He is loving. He is kind. He will bind up the hurts and pains of anyone who is willing to allow it.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Hey there ExClcer———–I like seeing you around here and I think you have a lot to contribute to the discussion on SGM/CLC madness.

    Your posts about your family’s painful history and CLC’s corrupt “care” that I read last summer did sooo much for me to wake up and see CLC for what it really is. I have the door in sight now and it is such a good feeling!


  • ExClcer'sMom

    “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)
    “If god is willing to prevent evil, but not able – then he is not omnipotent. If he able, but not willing – then he is malevolent.
    If he is both able and willing – but does not prevent evil -then whence cometh evil? And if he neither able nor willing- then why call him a god?”
    Sometimes, I feel like I ‘fall short’ in being able to ‘give answer to every man’, but then, I actually think that it is not that I cannot ‘give answer’, but rather that they do not want to listen, and I will not argue. Saul would not ‘reason’ with other Christians-he did not want to hear their ‘answers’..It was not until he actually MET Jesus Himself, and then he was changed-ready to give his own life for the very beliefs he killed for before! I can speak, I can argue, facts, ideas, theories; but what is life changing is knowing Jesus personally, and there is simply no doubt to a relationship that is alive.. Those who seek Him, will find Him..I totally understand the whole ‘answer’ to the “Trilemna”-the Bible answers that! But those who do not have ‘ears to hear’ will not be desiring an answer, they will be trying to think of the next ‘argument’..Only God can change one’s heart, so I always choose not to argue. But, I suppose that from conflicting discussions good will sometimes come, so I understand that some people will argue and discuss..I just feel like I have had more than a lifetime’s worth of argument and fighting, and want to live my life in God Love, in peace..Is that selfish? Maybe so..maybe God is just allowing me a resting time, a ‘breather’ so to speak, but for now, I rest/bask in His Love, and His Peace, and my own personal relationship with Him-not what others think.

    But that is what I think SGM and others rob many of most devastatingly: our own personal relationship with Jesus. We should be encouraging each other in knowing Jesus, not ‘follow us as we know Him’..We need to know Him on our own.

  • SMP

    ExClcer’s Mom:

    Peace is a fruit of the spirit. To receive it is to receive a gift…. even a reward from the Holy Spirit. You are the recipient of His love and care for you during So Much Pain. (SMP!) To want to live in peace is to say you want to live with the fruits of the spirit. That doesn’t sound selfish to me. I am so blessed by you.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Thank you,SMP. Your understanding brings tears of joy to me. Really.