Interesting Thoughts From Ozymandias Over At sgmnation Blog, “Praise Warrior’s” Thoughts About CJ’s T4G Contributions

The sgmnation blog features a guest post from “Ozymandias,” who ponders the question of what has been driving the leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries to respond to their denomination’s problems the way they have responded over the past 10 months or so.  Ozymandias suggests that the leaders’ primary concern is not so much about what would best serve the people of SGM’s churches but instead is about what the rest of the “Young, Restless, & Reformed” Christian world will think of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Ozymandias says,

It [the focus of leaders’ concerns] isn’t first and foremost about who is at the denomination’s helm, or how a new Partnership Agreement will define HQ-to-field operations, but about how public discussion affects the denomination’s reputation in conservative evangelical circles. As has been referenced here and there on “the blogs,” the center of gravity revolves around the (psychological) fear of what the public airing of SGM’s systemic problems would mean for its reputation in the YRR world, or in social science and business terms, the public diminution of the denomination’s overall brand among co-religionists.

Ozymandias then goes on to demonstrate how his hypothesis – that SGM leaders are mostly concerned about the organization’s image and reputation with the larger Christian world – makes perfect sense in light of SGM leaders’ actions and statements. 

For the sake of a working hypothesis, let’s see how this particular way of defining center of gravity might explain just a few of the decisions since last July:

– It can explain why the interim board’s first order of business was the establishment of the fitness panel, involving three well-known conservative evangelical personalities: Kevin DeYoung, Carl Trueman and Ray Ortland. It also helps to explain the rapid turnaround and public release of the report’s findings.

– It can explain the overarching theme of SGMHQ’s November 2011 denominational letter, written in the wake of Covenant Life Church’s internet release of its 30 October 2011 Family Meeting. Note the sheer number of times the letter repeats the words “public” vs. “private,” as well as the highlighting of Josh Harris’ influence and CLC’s public example [emphasis added]:

“we have taken the approach of privately engaging with CLC…”

“It has been our hope from the beginning that these disagreements could get worked out privately…”

“we would not engage in critiquing each other beyond the private realm”

“Our goal has been to interact privately and through conversation, withholding public critique.”

“…the CLC pastors have chosen to broadcast their differences and disagreements in public meetings and through the internet

CLC has always functioned as something of a model of SGM belief and practice. Pastors throughout our churches could assume CLC and SGM are on the same page, and look to CLC to observe the direction and positions of SGM.”

public statements continue to be made from CLC pastors that seem to us to significantly misrepresent SGM and have the potential to implicate and cast suspicion upon you and the churches you serve.”

“CLC pastors have publicly voiced their concerns and criticisms for SGM broadly..”

“In their most recent family meeting, made public through Josh’s Facebook and on their website, CLC openly shared their negative assessment of SGM leadership.”

“…the sweeping and pejorative assessments he is making of SGM…”

“…because of the public nature of Josh’s comments and our concerns for how SGM is being portrayed.” “Our disagreement lies with aspects of their assessment, their presentation of these issues, and the impression their public statements can have.”

“We have communicated to Josh that his broad critique of Sovereign Grace in public forums, while identifying certain weaknesses with which we all agree, is having the effect of raising suspicions in local churches against local church pastoral teams”

“Our request to them at this point is to confine their public pronouncements concerning reform to issues CLC is facing, although we have urged them to please continue to share concerns for SGM privately with the board, just as we have sought to share our concerns for them privately.”

– It can help to explain, following CJ’s reinstatement, the discernible move away from regular posts about the denomination’s issues on SGM’s Plant and Build blog. Related to this, it can also explain why, recently, all of the previous comments to older posts at the Plant and Build blog have been deleted and are no longer available for public review. It can also help to explain why earlier statements by denominational leaders have also been removed, and why, in the new board’s first public statement, it made itself clear that, among other things, it would not involve itself in “day-to-day communication.”

– It may explain why there has been no specific response to Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax’s 7 March 2012 letter to the interim board – a letter signed by multiple SGM churches and subsequently made public.

– It may help to explain the rush to affirm and seat a new board, as SGM’s 13 March 2012 letter describes, “[in the] small window of time before the release of the [Ambassadors of Reconciliation] report.” If – and I emphasize if – the goal is to lessen the impact of the report’s findings among the conservative evangelical crowd by releasing it simultaneously with some statement about “how the denomination has already addressed AoR’s more salient points,” then it is understandable how, as the 13 March letter continues, “it was important to get a new board in place in order to respond promptly to [AoR’s] report.”

– It could also explain the decision to hold off any public release of the AoR report until after this week’s Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference in Louisville, rather than release it in the run-up to the event.

I think Ozymandias is absolutely correct in his assertion that if his hypothesis is true – which seems rather obvious, especially in light of the multitude of statements from SGM that show such nonsensical determination to frame up the organization’s problems as primarily interpersonal conflicts that have to be dealt with privately – then SGM’s issues will never really be addressed without input from those whose opinions matter so much to SGM’s leaders.  Ozymandias says,

I would argue that significant reform is just not possible without public YRR discussion of the denomination’s historical, systemic problems. And unfortunately, there has been a noticeable unwillingness on the part of YRR outlets to engage in any such discussion. If you regularly read conservative evangelical bloggers or personally interact with conservative evangelical publishers, you may wish to bring this up with them. Shying away completely from the conflict’s immediate proximate cause (i.e. the Mahaney/Detwiler conflict) I might recommend a polite letter, especially to those who have historically highlighted SGM, its books and its music to their audiences, asking if they are aware of how the denomination is currently facing division, and if they have any concerns that they have – either through commission or omission – perpetuated the conflict rather than helped to ameliorate it.

Check out the full post over at sgmnation.  It’s a good one.


Also, in light of the fact that C.J. Mahaney is a featured speaker, several people have written to ask for a specific post about T4G (the “Together for the Gospel” conference taking place right now).  I thought “Praise Warrior” said it well when he wrote,

We find it ironic that CJ Mahaney will preach a session called “When A Pastor Loses Heart” at the T4G (Together For The Gospel) conference soon. Perhaps before stepping up to the plate to hit his homerun, CJ might consider interviewing the many pastors and church members who have lost heart and left Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

It might surprise the many that will be gathered to hear the strength of the arguments that CJ might not be the best choice to deliver a message on this topic. In fact, many of us would call it downright rude – an ‘in-your-face’ blow to those who are convinced that CJ charging ahead in his public ministry poses a significant lack of integrity on his part and the part of those around him. 

Let the discussion panels be comprised of just 4 pastors who have lost heart under CJ’s leadership and the conversation would become quite lively. 

CJ, would you please consider recusing yourself from speaking at this conference? Don’t you think you might have a slight conflict of interest here? Here is a suggestion: rather than taking your cues from your buddies Mohler, Duncan and Dever, why don’t you simply ask all the remaining pastors in your family of churches if they think it is wise for you to continue in public ministry at this time? 

No one is out to destroy you. Most of us feel sorrow for you. It might be time for you to consider the following: 

1) Have you failed to both teach about AND PRACTICE meaningful membership at Covenant Life Church? 

2) Doesn’t the nature of a church covenant require the church’s consent to both enter and leave the membership of the church?

3) Do you have unresolved conflicts with your family of churches and their leaders?

4) Are you aware your flock (the one you pastored for so many years) is studying you?

5) How many people are struggling with you because your teaching does not line up with your practice? 

Answer these questions and we will be happy to not walk out when you begin to speak at T4G. If you get around to answering these, maybe clue us in as to why Dave Harvey is continuing in his ministry as well. Not that you owe us anything. You might have already forgotten about us.



  1. Just saw this says:

    Just looked at my Facebook and saw this: I will not be attending T4G this week. Here’s why:

    C.J. Mahaney should not be speaking at any conference right now. C.J. left his local church Covenant Life church in Gaithersburg, MD just weeks ago before reconciling with many of the leaders and members there. I don’t claim to know all of C.J.’s reasons for leaving, and I am not making a judgment as to whether or not any of C.J.’s grievances with CLC have merit. What I do know is that C.J. left the only church he has ever known without first making every effort to reconcile to the people there. C.J. is not being consistent with decades of his own teaching on God glorifying conflict resolution and submitting to the authority of the local church.
    Why would men who purport to hold the local church in such high esteem (like Mohler, Duncan, Dever, et al) allow C.J. to speak about the “underestimated” gospel when he is making a loud statement to all of Sovereign Grace that the gospel isn’t sufficient to reconcile him with those whom he has claimed to “love the most”? Shouldn’t C.J. try to be “together for the gospel” with those in his own local church before expanding his relationships with the greater body of Christ?
    At the very least, I hope that there will be some explanation from either C.J., or the previously mentioned leaders as to why it is appropriate for C.J. to be speaking at this year’s T4G conference.
    Since no explanation was given, this year, I am staying home.

  2. 2confused says:

    I totally agree with this post. I wonder if they (SGM) ripped 1Cor and Galatians from their bibles? In both of these books Paul publically rebukes them for their wrong doings. He doesn’t privately smack them around. Even more interesting is it is recorded for generations and generations to see, read and learn from. SGM is more concerned about what the world thinks not what God is doing in their midst. It is sad, but true. I stay with CLC because I see great changes happening. I pray SGM pulls their head out of…the ground and sees what is really going on. As for the AoR report. I don’t believe it will change much within SGM. I am glad all this happened because now CLC sees where it got things wrong and is moving forward to make changes.

  3. Lee says:

    I noticed on JD Greear’s Twitter feed that he ate lunch with Joshua Harris yesterday. I just can’t imagine that these guys don’t ask Josh “what is really going on at SGM”? I know Josh has to tread carefully but I really hope he shares.

    I do agree that a lot of SGM’s reactions are totally due to fear of losing their image, which is really “funny” when you think about it because the same people who preach constantly to not give into “fear of man” are totally giving into fear of man.

  4. Muckraker says:

    Just saw this @1 :clap :clap :clap

    Is there a way to post this comment on the T4G website? They should see it too! :scratch

  5. Kris says:

    As I was perusing the sgmnation blog, I happened upon this comment (from “Annie”), which isn’t exactly about our topic here, but I thought it was really good:

    One thing that seems nearly impossible in all this is to open the eyes of those who have been sgm favorites. At my church, there’s not a one of these pastors’s pets that I don’t also love with admiration and affection. But I’m almost certain they can’t “get” what it’s like for the many of us who aren’t loved and cared for (ie liked by the pastors) as they are. In other words, they don’t get how we don’t “feel the love” that they are always surrounded by. And the whole dynamic is wrong anyway- both the favoritism, the provocation we feel as “lowlife members,” the whole class system. It stinks to high heaven. Shame on me for wanting to “be somebody,” but how has it not been a temptation in such a strange atmosphere where a pastor’s frown or smile can seem as if it is from God Himself?

    I hadn’t ever thought of the description “Pastor’s Pet,” but it really is a perfect way to describe what can make the difference between believing SGM is the closest thing to heaven on earth and realizing that it’s not.

  6. Just saw this says:

    It’s from an Eric Grover. Just look him up on fb. Not sure who he is.

  7. yentl says:

    #5 – Annie totally nailed that one.

    I can’t believe SGM churches could so consistently exhibit this behavior unless it is TAUGHT to them. There must be a teaching somewhere on it.

    1. Exalt the valuable.
    2. Court the promising.
    3. Dispose of those who fail.
    4. Ignore the common man.
    5. Shun the troublemakers.

    Nowhere else in the body of Christ do pastors view their parishioners in this way.

    I believe this methodology is the root of much of the spiritual abuse. Everyone is covetously striving to be acknowledged by the spiritual leaders. Then, they feel discarded by God when they are found unworthy.

    God is so not that way.

  8. facedown2000 says:

    Eric Grover is someone I respect deeply — I met him a few times, but I’m more familiar with some of the songs he wrote than Eric himself. Those who’ve followed SGM worship releases sometime will be familiar with his songs, including “Your Great Renown.” He’s not one of the muckety mucks in SGM, but he’s no slouch, either.

    While I wish the state of things were such that Eric’s comments weren’t needed, folks in SGM may be more likely to listen to him than any of us.

  9. KAZ says:

    YENTL #7


    I definately experianced 3 + 4 + 5

  10. Steve240 says:

    For those having trouble “connecting the dots” (it took me some time myself).

    Eric Grover who is the worship leader at the SGM Cleveland Church wrote what is quoted in comment 1. The SGM Cleveland Church doesn’t show that Eric is on paid staff but still it is quite a gutsy comment. I hope Eric isn’t routed from SGM for posting this as C.J. Mahaney indicated needed to be done with divisive people when Mahaney spoke at the SGM Pastors’ Conference late last year.

    Here is the Facebook link:

    This is what Eric shows posted on his Facebook page:

    I will not be attending T4G this week. Here’s why:

    C.J. Mahaney should not be speaking at any conference right now. C.J. left his local church Covenant Life church in Gaithersburg, MD just weeks ago before reconciling with many of the leaders and members there. I don’t claim to know all of C.J.’s reasons for leaving, and I am not making a judgment as to whether or not any of C.J.’s grievances with CLC have merit. What I do know is that C.J. left the only church he has ever known without first making every effort to reconcile to the people there. C.J. is not being consistent with decades of his own teaching on God glorifying conflict resolution and submitting to the authority of the local church.
    Why would men who purport to hold the local church in such high esteem (like Mohler, Duncan, Dever, et al) allow C.J. to speak about the “underestimated” gospel when he is making a loud statement to all of Sovereign Grace that the gospel isn’t sufficient to reconcile him with those whom he has claimed to “love the most”? Shouldn’t C.J. try to be “together for the gospel” with those in his own local church before expanding his relationships with the greater body of Christ?
    At the very least, I hope that there will be some explanation from either C.J., or the previously mentioned leaders as to why it is appropriate for C.J. to be speaking at this year’s T4G conference.
    Since no explanation was given, this year, I am staying home.

    It would be good if more SGM members especially those in leadership made this type of statement.

  11. Persona says:

    I am glad Eric Grover and his wife are speaking-up. Their observations are astute. I am not sure CJ and Bob are listening but then, not many popes or priest listened to Luther, either.

    Even if we don’t get blanket repentance in SGM- affiliated churches, we can hope and pray for a decisive victory in the heavens, for a gradual reduction of SGM influence on the church, over time.

    It sickens me to see Bob Kauflin and his band leading worship at T4G. Bob and his family left CLC with nary a word of farewell. So, it’s okay for them to leave their home church but, not their son-in-law?

  12. Kris says:

    I tend to think that CJ’s presence on the T4G stage simply serves to further validate the charges against him made by people like Brent. I know CJ’s fans would like to believe otherwise – they’d like to think that his being a speaker at T4G is a sign that all is actually well (or well enough) with CJ – but the exact opposite is true.

    Yes, CJ is a popular speaker. And yes, there’s probably some sort of demand for him to be there. Maybe it’s even the case that the roster of presenters was put together a long time ago, before SGM’s own ruckus became public. Maybe the T4G brand would take a hit if CJ were to have stepped away and asked them to find someone else.

    But even if all that is true, you just have to ask yourself what sort of person would believe that his presence on the T4G stage was so vital that he could not have recused himself for a year, at least until everything within SGM is more settled. If you think about that question at all, it becomes obvious that only a really self-important person would think what he might have to say at T4G could really be THAT vital, that he needed to press on and put himself out there anyway, even as his own longtime church doesn’t know what to make of his recent actions, and the denomination that he presided over for decades is in the midst of turbulance.

    CJ’s either really self-important, or perhaps there’s really no one out there who can speak the truth to him and tell him what he does not apparently want to hear – that he should have kept himself off the stage.

    And of course, both of those options dovetail very well with what Brent has said about CJ’s lack of accountability and difficulties submitting to the authority of others.

    So CJ’s fans can believe what they want to believe, I guess. But honestly, I’m pretty sure none of them would have such hubris, if they were in the same position CJ’s in right now. Most of CJ’s fans actually are “local church fans” and wouldn’t dream of blowing off their local churches the way that CJ has.

    Maybe they’ll see the irony someday. In the meantime, at least they can cackle with CJ as he laughs at his own jokes.

  13. JeffB says:

    At Pyromaniacs, in comments to a post about T4G by Frank Turk (which doesn’t mention Mahaney), several people, including myself, have criticized Mahaney’s presence there. (Link below.) Turk wrote early yesterday that he will delete those comments when he gets to “a real Internet connection.” As of now, they are still there (I wish I’d known about this yesterday).

    This is a good opportunity to write about Mahaney at a blog where it is unlikely to find criticism of him. (Although comments to a post by Phil Johnson [also not about Mahaney] a while ago that were critical of Mahaney were not deleted, and Johnson interacted with them.)

    Sorry to sound like a nanny, but if you are polite and concentrate on Mahaney and not Calvinism, you will be taken more seriously. And sorry if the deletions have begun.

  14. JeffB says:

    Oops. It was early today, not yesterday, when Turk wrote that he planned to delete the comments.

  15. FSGP says:

    CJ on “When a Pastor Loses Heart” as ironic? Paradoxically, I’m not so sure.

    CJ on “When a Pastor Loses Heart” as appropriate? Indeed, he’s an expert on the issue; he has caused many of us to do so.

    Glad that the RBDs have matched CJ with his strength,
    Former SG Pastor

  16. Kris says:

    Interesting, about Pyro Frank’s threats to delete discussion of CJ and SGM’s issues.

    Although I can see the appeal of breaking through the Reformed Blogger Shield Of Protection that surrounds CJ and SGM, I would strongly discourage anyone here from going against the Pyro guys’ requests not to talk about CJ on their site. As incredible as I find those guys’ refusal to take a long, hard, honest look at SGM, I think it’s important to respect their rules for discussion and moderation…even if Frank is doing nothing to quell the very conspiarcy theories he just pooh-poohed.

  17. Mike Cole says:

    Hey Persona,

    FYI – Eric and Jenn are siblings not spouses. :wink:


  18. Persona says:

    Ha! Thanks, Mike 18. I have never met them but, I am slowly becoming big fans of their ministry.

  19. Guy says:

    FSGP – glad to see you around these parts. I’ve missed you brother!!

  20. ExClcer'sMom says:

    Persona,post #19, I feel the same way.

  21. Fried Fish says:

    LOL almost snorting stuff out my nose at “Reformed Blogger Sheild Of Protection.”

    Ozy and Kris – Do you think that CJ and SGM really care very much about what conservative Evangelicals or the larger Christian world think? I mean, if you include folks like the Assemblies of God or the Wesleyans, Nazarenes, CMA and Salvation Army, all sorts of non-YRR Baptists (Southern, Conservative, General, etc.), all the nondenominational Bible believing churches that don’t identify as Reformed, the Missouri Synod Lutherans – I could go on and on, and if we totaled them all up I think they would outnumber the Calvinistas’ following quite handily.

    It really seems to me that the Calvinista world is like a bubble, with an air of exclusivity and superiority that acts like a vacuum to suck in folks from outside and for lack of a better word, insulate them from the wider world, Christian or otherwise. An intellectual respite that provides a formulaic solution to the mess that is a normal life, as it were. CJ’s antics may provide some comic relief there, but his skill at brandishing the large, dark, brooding “T” in TULIP and how well he has wielded it for so long has, I’m sure, cemented his place In the Together For The Extended ExtraBiblical Gospel Hall Of Fame.

    The NeoReformed crowd is CJ’s Peoria, and imo as long as he gets to play there, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

  22. B.R. Clifton says:

    Yentl #7:
    The tendency to show favoritism to the more influential citizens in the congragation is far more prevelant than you would think. No denomination is free from that blight. Many “pastors” depend on these civic and congregational movers and shakers to help them in realizing their “vision”. Those with the fatest check books tend to getthe most attention from the leadership and are “schmoozed” to the hilt. The average congregants are left mostly to fend for themselves. Their only interchange with the “man on the pedestal” comes from a 40-45 minute diatribe on Sunday morning that may or may not have any real spiritual substance to it.

    Many ministers shun the ones on the lower rungs of the ecclesiastical pecking order simply because they don’t have a clue how to address their needs other than the usual “be warmed and filled” blessing as they nervously move on to the next parishoner to repeat the empty greeting.

  23. Kris says:

    Fried Fish said,

    Do you think that CJ and SGM really care very much about what conservative Evangelicals or the larger Christian world think?


    The NeoReformed crowd is CJ’s Peoria, and imo as long as he gets to play there, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

    No, I don’t think CJ and SGM care much about the organization’s image among “conservative Evangelicals.” But I do believe they care greatly about the opinions of the movers and shakers within the “NeoReformed” world. I’d agree with you that it is a much smaller subset of Bible-believing Christianity…but right now, it’s the one with the loudest voice, the one getting the most attention through conferences and bloggers and – most importantly – celebrity names. SGM and CJ have for years wanted to align themselves with those celebrities and have worked very deliberately to do so, through CJ’s contributions to Al Mohler’s seminary, through careful machinations to make himself part of T4G, through the celebrities he goes after to endorse his books, and through the careful marketing of the SGM brand as being a good place for bookworms with a continuationist bent.

    You’re right in that there are thousands more conservative Evangelicals among the groups you listed. BUT, can you name one celebrity preacher/author from, say, the Salvation Army who has any sort of following? One Nazarene guy who would be a household name? One Assemblies of God person with more than a thousand Twitter followers?

    The fact is, it’s not really about numbers. It’s about influence. The loudest voices with the most celebrity star power have the most influence. I believe Ozymandias is right in his hypothesis that whatever CJ and SGM’s leaders choose to do is firstly and foremostly about what will best help to preserve their image and enable CJ to retain his star power in that specific select little YRR world.

  24. TomH says:

    Well, Frank shut down the blog after calling those who think CJ is in sin “conspiracy theorists” which is typical control tactics. Marginalize, demonize and silence. Here’s what I posted at sgmnation which 2confused eluded to in #2. Forgive me for popping in and posting occasionally. I’ve posted under a different name but decided to stop hiding. I am not concerned if the leaders know how I view all this. They should know and actually they do know. I certainly don’t mind being corrected where appropriate because of wrongful thinking as proven by Scripture but I won’t be silenced by fear any longer.

    “The spiral effect is in SGM’s attempt to “save face” they expose more of their desire for reputation instead of a desire to please God and walk in the light. I am frankly astounded at the silence of YRRs and “Reformed Big Dogs”. It would seem obvious to the majority of the Church (capital C) that fear of man is the driving force (aka love of reputation) behind the decisions of the SGM leadership. In the name of Christ, how do the leaders outside SGM let this go, and in fact attend conferences with these (SGM) leaders actively engaged in sin as if everything is pleasing to God? Is the eventual church split pleasing to God? Is the massive divide created by a few leader’s decisions pleasing to God? How does this affect the Gospel message to the world? And lastly, are they protecting the Gospel as Paul did in Gal 2:11-14 “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
    (Galatians 2:11-14 ESV)

    Where’s the call to be “in step with the truth of the gospel”????

  25. Somewhereintime says:

    Too bad CJ doesn’t really care about the one and only opinion that really matters!

    Not to worry … the Lord will not be mocked and we have front row seats watching what He will do. Not to cheer it when it occurs, but to fear Him so that we don’t do the same.

  26. Lee says:

    I listened to most of CJ’s talk at T4G about “When a Pastor Loses Heart”.

    Maybe it’s because I am a bit cynical to start with, but I got no warm fuzzies listening to it. It seemed to me that CJ was going through the motions, and definitely purposely turning on emotion at key times. It didn’t feel genuine to me.

    At first I thought people here were wrong that CJ was referring to specific people/events in SGM as I didn’t sense he was doing that. But definitely when he got to the point were he kept saying “STRUCK down” in a certain way over and over again…he sounded totally angry.

    I’m a little disappointed in the Team Pyro guys for shutting down converstaion about CJ, but I think in time they’ll see. They are critical of Mark Driscoll at times so I know they are honest when they see the facts. They are sticking their head in the sand about it for now because they’ve been told it’s gossip and slander.

  27. A Kindred Spirit says:

    The fact that the Pyro guys won’t allow “CJ discussion” speaks volumes about what we’re up against.

    Kris’s #24 nails it.

  28. 5yearsinPDI says:

    Has there been the slightest remark anywhere by anybody about the AoR report? They were supposed to have been discussing it before the conference, am I correctly recalling that? Has it been confirmed as released yet? Total silence?

    I am sure CJ and the SGM top tier must be glad to know that their former chronic leak took place among the lower pastoral ranks- if the report did come out- because there has been no leak yet. I wonder if even the pastors will see it….the implication from the last year is that if they do send it to pastors, it will get leaked.

    One would think that if the AoR report did come out already, and has been discussed before this conference, the SGM leader would make some allusion to it, in some way, however brief, if he is a man of integrity. Perhaps it has not come out yet? Has anybody heard anything?

  29. Oswald says:

    5years #29 — The board was to have a retreat on Monday and Tuesday, 4/9,10 concerning the AoR report. If we hear anything, I would guess that it would be Friday or Monday, while T4G is still blooming in the hearts of all who attended or listened to the messages. (thinking) could anything be wrong when all these guys we really, really respect are not appalled in the slightest. I think SGM has managed to make it’s dirty laundry seem very small to the outside world. But as many have reminded us, God will not be mocked. We must pray and rest in Him, whatever happens. Our actions or reactions could also be interpreted as ways of mocking God, by not trusting Him and waiting on Him. We may never see things happen as we think they should.

  30. JeffB says:

    Kris – I plead guilty to encouraging others to ignore Frank Turk’s warning to “lay off C.J. in these comments.” I respect your opinion, but I wonder if there are times when it is Biblical to ignore warnings such as these. I’m not sure in this specific case.

    One of Phil Johnson’s blog rules at Pyro is “Keep our friends and families out of it,” followed by some elaboration. “Families” I quite understand, but very influential “friends”? (First of all, we’d have to know for sure if they are friends.) As I mentioned, Johnson did not threaten to delete or ban when Mahaney’s name was mentioned negatively in comments to one of Johnson’s posts. He said he’d look into the matter (in summer of this year, when he would have time, I believe he said). As for Dan Phillips, I don’t recall any Mahaney/SGM comments.

    As has been mentioned, Turk did what he said he’d do, and remarks by me and some others were deleted. His charge of “conspiracy theorists” directly followed my comment (still there, as well as his) where I asked him not to follow in the footsteps of Challies and Justin Taylor in deleting negative Mahaney comments. Before he deleted it, I posted another comment providing evidence for my claim about Challies and Taylor. So his “conspiracy theorists” remark is, it seems to me, libelous against me, and, by implication, others who commented. I informed him of this by email. Of course, I don’t intend to pursue it legally.

    I referred him to a to a recent post by Taylor. Of all Taylor’s many posts about T4G, guess which one was closed after two innocuous comments? That’s right, the one concerning Mahaney (Apr. 10, 1:12 CT). He’s done this before.

  31. Kris says:


    I actually got to see the full comment thread before PyroFrank performed his selective deletions. The way he snarked about conspiracy theorists even as his own moderating decisions further fueled those theories was disappointing to say the least. I don’t understand these guys’ allegiance to CJ. They’ve demonstrated no hesitations in going after any number of others, but for some reason they cannot seem to even entertain the notion that maybe they’d do well to exercise more discernment with respect to SGM and its present issues.

    I would still encourage people to honor the Pyro guys’ discussion guidelines, though. It’s their blog, and they get to make the rules. Fair is fair. If they don’t want to host a conversation about a particular topic, they don’t have to.

    (They’ll be held accountable, though, for whatever is driving their willful blindness…)

  32. Todd Wilhelm says:

    From “The Reformed Pastor” by Richard Baxter

    Too many who have undertaken the work of the ministry do so obstinately proceed in self-seeking, negligence, pride, and other sins, that it is become our necessary duty to admonish them. If we saw that such would reform without reproof, we would gladly forbear the publishing of their faults. But when reproofs themselves prove so ineffectual, that they are more offended at the reproof than at the sin, and had rather that we should cease reproving than that themselves should cease sinning, I think it is time to sharpen the remedy. For what else should we do? To give up our brethren as incurable were cruelty, as long as there are further means to he used.
    We must not hate them, but plainly rebuke them, and not suffer sin upon them. To bear with the vices of the ministry is to promote the ruin of the Church; for what speedier way is there for the depraving and undoing of the people, than the depravity of their guides? And how can we more effectually further a reformation, than by endeavoring to reform the leaders of the Church? For my part, I have done as I would be done by; and it is for the safety of the Church, and in tender love to the brethren, whom I venture to reprehend — not to make them contemptible and odious, but to heal the evils that would make them so — that so no enemy may find this matter of reproach among us. But, especially, because our faithful endeavors are of so great necessity to the welfare of the Church, and the saving of men’s souls, that it will not consist with a love to either, to be negligent ourselves, or silently to connive at negligence in others. If thousands of you were in a leaking ship, and those that should pump out the water, and stop the leaks, should be sporting or asleep, or even but favoring themselves in their labors, to the hazarding of you all, would you not awaken them to their work and call on them to labor as for your lives? And if you used some sharpness and importunity with the slothful, would you think that man was in his wits who would take it ill of you, and accuse you of pride, self-conceitedness, or unmannerliness, to presume to talk so saucily to your fellow-workmen, or that should tell you that you wrong them by diminishing their reputation? Would you not say, ‘The work must be done, or we are all dead men. Is the ship ready to sink, and do you talk of reputation? Or had you rather hazard yourself and us, than hear of your slothfullness? This is our case, brethren, the work of God must needs be done! Souls must not perish, while you mind your worldly business or worldly pleasure, and take your ease, or quarrel with your brethren! Nor must we be silent while men are hastened by you to perdition, and the Church brought into greater danger and confusion, for fear of seeming too uncivil and unmannerly with you, or displeasing your impatient souls! Would you be but as impatient with your sins as with our reproofs, you should hear no more from us, but we should be all agreed! But, neither God nor good men will let you alone in such sins. Yet if you had betaken yourselves to another calling, and would sin to yourselves only, and would perish alone, we should not have so much necessity of molesting you, as now we have: but if you will enter into the office of the ministry, which is for the necessary preservation of us all, so that by letting you alone in your sin, we must give up the Church to loss and hazard, blame us not if we talk to you more freely than you would have us to do. If your own body were sick, and you will despise the remedy, or if your own house were on fire, and you will be singing or quarrelling in the streets, I could possibly bear it, and let you alone, (which yet, in charity, I should not easily do,) but, if you will undertake to be the physician of an hospital, or to a whole town that is infected with the plague, or will undertake to quench all the fires that shall be kindled in the town, there is no bearing with your remissness, how much soever it may displease you. Take it how you will, you must be told of it; and if that will not serve, you must be told of it yet more plainly; and, if that will not serve, if you be rejected as well as reprehended, you may thank yourselves. I speak all this to none but the guilty.
    And, thus, I have given you those reasons which forced me to publish, in plain English, so much of the sins of the ministry as in the following Treatise I have done. And I suppose the more penitent and humble any are, and the more desirous of the true reformation of the Church, the more easily and fully will they approve such free confessions and reprehensions. But I find it will be impossible to avoid offending those who are at once guilty and impenitent; for there is no way of avoiding this, but by our silence, or their patience: and silent we cannot be, because of God’s commands; and patient they will not be, because of their guilt and impenitence. But plain dealers will always be approved in the end; and the time is at hand when you will confess that they were your best friends. But my principal business is yet behind. I must now take the boldness, brethren, to become your monitor, concerning some of the necessary duties, of which I have spoken in the ensuing discourse. If any of you should charge me with arrogance or immodesty for this attempt, as if hereby I accused you of negligence, or judged myself sufficient to admonish you, I crave your candid interpretation of my boldness, assuring you that I obey not the counsel of my flesh herein, but displease myself as much as some of you; and would rather have the ease and peace of silence, if it would stand with my duty, and the churches’ good. But it is the mere necessity of the souls of men, and my desire of their salvation, and of the prosperity of the Church, which forceth me to this arrogance and immodesty, if so it must be called. For who, that hath a tongue, can be silent, when it is for the honor of God, the welfare of his Church, and the everlasting happiness of so many souls?

  33. El Pastor says:

    #33 Todd, what an amazing quote from one of the truly great men in the Puritan movement…so perfectly balanced and biblical. Thanks for sharing it.

  34. Praise Warrior says:

    #33 Spot on!

  35. JeffB says:


    Thanks for your reply (#32). You summed it up well, as usual.

    Frank and I have exchanged some emails today. He’s giving his patented cutesy replies which say nothing. In my last one, which I just sent, I told him that I wondered why he is so sure that there’s nothing to all of this. I’m not holding my breath waiting for a substantial comment from him.

  36. Beautiful Lies says:

    I’m trying to watch a clip of Mark Dever from T4G but he looks too much like Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley so I am cracking myself up! (no offense to Mark Dever – Squiggy is just so funny) You be the judge:

  37. Contentious Jones says:

    Back in February, World Magazine mentioned that CeeJay had been reinstated as SGM’s el presidente. In the April 21, 2012 print issue (and here; look for the “Human Race” entry), someone from Wisconsin wrote the following letter to the editor:

    “Thank you for reporting that C.J. Mahaney has been reinstated to ministry. Our family has turned away from legalism largely through his message that the gospel is everything and Jesus is enough. We have never met him, but we are grateful to him.”

    There’s no SGM franchise in the land o’ the cheeseheads, so I guess more than just the Big Dogs are being/have been hoodwinked and/or willfully blind.

    (BTW, T4G and other SGM-associated organizations have purchased quite a bit of ad space from World Magazine in the past. World is a fave of the US Reformed crowd. Perhaps the editors should investigate SGM…)

  38. BrokenHearted says:

    CJ :) – there isnt a SGM church, but a guy from WI used to fly out here to give talks on how to study the bible more effectively and he was very friendly with SGM… i think he wrote the preface to the gospel primer…or put together the gospel primer or something

  39. Kris says:

    Just now, I had what sort of felt like a flash of insight. You guys will have to tell me what you think of this…

    I was pondering the missing AoR report and wondering how SGM leaders might reconcile sitting on the report and not releasing it to the general public as Dave Harvey had originally promised. As someone else pointed out, they were supposed to meet before T4G to discuss the report and come up with their response. So the report must be out there…but it’s apparently not being released, unedited, and the board seems to feel that they have to “respond” to it in some way before the general public can read what AoR had to say.

    I think there’s the distinct possibility that they will use Dave Harvey’s “stepping away” as some sort of rationale for not sticking with what Mr. Harvey had said would happen with the report – that the new SGM board members will portray Mr. Harvey’s promise as a rash and unwise statement made by someone who wasn’t actually qualified to lead back then…and thus, the promise doesn’t actually count.

    That is one way the board might try to rationalize hunkering down and abandoning any move toward genuine openness by not releasing the full and unedited AoR report.

    And I was thinking, they will also try to soothe their consciences by telling themselves that they had no choice – that the contents of the AoR report would have “harmed the gospel,” particularly during the T4G season, with CJ in the midst of such a positive limelight.

    So here was my flash of insight: in his piece over at the sgmnation blog (parts of which were quoted in this post), Ozymandias lays out quite a good case for how the decisions made by SGM’s leaders over the past 10 months or so would seem to be motivated primarily by the desire to protect the organization’s reputation and image in the eyes of those in the non-SGM Reformed world. We’ve talked many times before about how SGM has blurred the lines between the actual gospel – the good news of Jesus – and its own particular way of “doing church,” to the point where SGM has historically equated missions work with planting more SGM churches. Also, we’ve discussed how almost all of SGM’s new members are NOT new Christians but instead are “converted” to SGM churches from other Christian (Bible-believing gospel-proclaiming) churches.

    So I’m thinking (and finally, this is my flash of insight) that the way the SGM board might handle the AoR report is yet another symptom of SGM’s twisted gospel…and how SGM’s “unreached people groups” are actually NOT unbelievers but are instead Christians from non-SGM churches. The board feels compelled to sit on the AoR report until after T4G because T4G’s target audience is SGM’s real mission field. And SGM’s/CJ’s reputation is completely tangled up with SGM’s gospel, to the point that the board will reconcile breaking a promise it made just a few months ago (about the full and unedited release of the AoR report) by telling themselves that something so embarrassing to the SGM organization would “harm the gospel.”

  40. concerned for the kids says:

    Kris said: “the board will reconcile breaking a promise it made just a few months ago (about the full and unedited release of the AoR report) by telling themselves that something so embarrassing to the SGM organization would “harm the gospel.””

    The behavior we see from this bunch has more to do with keeping the target market of purchasers going than the gospel. From only picking locations in strong financial suburbs to treating big donors/tithers differently to sharing the sheep among each other so they can all sell more stuff to more people, it’s all about the money. It’s never been more clear than in the past 6 months.

  41. Lee says:

    I noticed yesterday that CJ is speaking at a conference called “Resolved” with John MacArthur in CA in June.

    That might explain Team Pyro’s reaction to criticism about CJ.

    I like what SGM Nation had to say yesterday on his blog in response to a comment made about the latest post by Ozymandias:

    “I’m disappointed that the YRR/T4G group hasn’t been more helpful but I take that in stride. It’s a lot to ask someone to criticize a fellow minister of the gospel, especially in the reformed ranks. It’s an even higher bar to ask them to “break fellowship” by refusing to participate in a conference where one speaker is having problems w his own denomination. Unless it’s a morally observable fault/failure, it’s unlikely that other leaders will break fellowship w CJ over SGM related issues…nor am I suggesting that they should.

    I honestly think that the YRR group watches on with puzzlement – like “what’s the big deal?” – while many of the SGM church members are up in arms. It’s not coherent to them because they see someone who is publicly charming, gospel confessing and a gifted speaker – what’s not to like and overlook?”

  42. A Kindred Spirit says:


    Kinda like the way leaders look the other way at the oppression of the people of a particular leader when it’s a leader they’re trying to be all diplomatic with.

  43. A Kindred Spirit says:

    In the past, it was the church that came to the aid of those oppressed. How sad.

  44. Oswald says:

    Over at SGM’s Plant and Build, there is a post titled “A final update on Disaster Relief Funds for Haiti”. I guess they saw all the comments on the blogs and felt they should respond.
    I keep watching for the AoR Report to be posted, unedited.

  45. A Kindred Spirit says:

    It would be different if the YRR groups didn’t know the blogs or Brent’s docs existed. There’s a lot of incriminating stuff on the internet now.

    If “one sheep” can get God’s attention, you would think that somebody in the YRR group would feel a tug at their heart that there was probably some truth to some of the survivor stories floating around and have that same concern. :scratch

  46. A Kindred Spirit says:

    Lord, raise up godly pastors among us that aren’t influenced by or dependent upon the “religious leaders” of our day.

    Those with a heart like Jesus when He walked the earth and encountered the “religious leaders” of His day.

  47. A Kindred Spirit says:

    Here’s one “non-YRR” pastor’s take on “Together for the Gospel.”


    Please allow me to say some things about myself at the very outset of this article. I am not closely aligned with those who are sometimes (and often) pejoratively referred to as separatists, of either the fundamentalist and the holiness variety. While I think I understand some of their concerns and recognize and respect some of those concerns as legitimate, I am neither scripturally nor theologically persuaded that “separatism” is the way forward for the church of Jesus Christ.

    Still, some doctrines and practices ought to be avoided as the spiritual and practical plagues they are. By extension, I also believe that this sometimes requires a separation from those teaching unbiblical doctrines or engaging in ungodly practices. Nevertheless, I am not convinced that many advocates of separatism are as discerning as they should be in what needs to be separated from. Sometimes it seems to me that separatists have absolutized the culturals in their well-meant, yet misguided efforts to walk in the light in what can be a very dark and wicked world. For example, I unashamedly like good “Christian rock” as I do good Christian “Country-Western” music and do not see an oxymoron in any of this. For these reasons most of my fundamentalist and holiness friends believe that I went terribly wayward.

    That being said, I am not ready to join in with many contemporary forms of Ecumenicalism. Unity yes. Compromise no. In the name of unity many Christians are evidently willing to engage in biblical, theological, and even moral reductionism, just so that we can all hold hands and sing “we are the Christian world”. Unity is good until it is polluted with bad teaching or bad practices. There is simply too much of the “world” in much of the Christian world. I think modern but conservative Evangelicals need to be very and perhaps more discerning in this regard. I neither want to “throw the baby out with the bath water”, nor do I want the bath water to become my source of drinking water. Absolutizing the culturals is bad. Culturalizing the absolutes is worse. This is not (or should not be) a “to separate or not to separate” question. Rather it is (or should be) a “what should we separate from?” In like manner, the issue is not ”should we ever come together with people we may have some serious disagreements with?” Rather, “what should we be willing to come together over?”

    There is a contemporary effort represented in a certain conference called “Together For The Gospel”. It is lead by the well-known Evangelicals, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney and Albert Mohler. These men minister in very different settings and come from very different ecclesiastical and theological traditions. Now who could be against coming together for the Gospel? But it is not in their differences that we should focus our attention if we wish to discern their purpose or goal in coming “Together”. It is on what they already believe in common. More importantly, it is not what they believe in common that is so crucial in understating what they have come “Together” to accomplish. Rather, it is what they desire others to believe (in common with them) as well. Others that presently do not believe what they believe. It is not that it is a bad thing to want everyone to believe the Gospel, and agree on what the Bible says is the Gospel. That would be a very good thing. It is that they want others (that presently do not believe what they believe about the Gospel) to believe that the Gospel is Reformed. A Reformed Gospel is represented in the five points of Calvinism and only in the five points of Calvinism.

    These men want others to believe, as they do, that the Gospel is a shorter name for the Reformed or Calvinist doctrines of grace, otherwise known as the five points of Calvinism. If they were to refer to their conference as “Together For the Calvinist or Reformed Gospel” it would not be much of a concern to me. But if they were so transparent, they might not attract as many non-Calvinists as they are hoping to. They would (most likely) end up preaching to other Calvinists (kind of like they do in their respective churches) that already believe what they believe. That would defeat one of their objectives for coming “Together”.

    To truly reach a lost person with the saving message of Jesus Christ you need to preach, proclaim, or explain the Gospel as it is found and declared in Scripture. We call that (or used to) Evangelism. When believers of one theological persuasion try to convince believers of another theological persuasion to change their mind about something theologically and doctrinally important, that is not Evangelism. There is of course a time, place and proper way to try and persuade other believers of your particular view or out of theirs. The way this conference is promoted is not the proper time and place for such an effort. The way they are doing it is not the right way to do it, unless the measure of rightness is judged by how effective it is. Do we judge something to be right simply because it may work?

    If this “Together” effort is over a matter that would cause a person to leave his present church or association of churches (and it is) to join another church or association of churches (or to take a stand against his own church or association of churches), that is called proselytizing and is in fact not about coming “Together” as advertized. I am not against all forms of proselytizing. I happily proselytize a Mormon every chance I get. But let us not be fooled. This coming “Together” is about “Coming Over” to Reformed theology or Calvinism. As it is, this particular kind of effort may successfully result in new converts to Calvinism but few non-Christians to Christ. Rather than promote unity among believers of very different theological convictions, it will undoubtedly result in greater division in the already very divided and very contentious Calvinist and non-Calvinist camps.
    I will happily work with a Calvinist on issues we agree on. But I appreciate honesty and openness concerning the agenda we are coming “Together” about. The “Together For The Gospel” conference seems anything but honest and open and it certainly is not going to lead to more unity among Evangelicals but less unity. It is no accident that all three special guests announced for the first “Together For The Gospel” conference included John MacArthur Jr., R.C. Sproul Sr., and John Piper, all very vocal advocates of the Reformed or Calvinist “Gospel”. They have strong differences on other issues, but on whether or not the Gospel is Reformed or Calvinist, they are united. Because of their popularity, unity for them, can easily become the source of division for others. There are a lot of well-known and respected non-Reformed Evangelicals (such as a Norman Geisler) that are conspicuously absent from the list of invitees. For the sake of transparency, tell all the non-Calvinist Evangelicals that you want them to come “Together For The Reformed Gospel”. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t. But at least they will know what they are really coming “Together” for.

    If the Gospel is what Calvinists say it is (i.e., the five points of Calvinism) and not what non-Calvinists say, then coming “Together” could mean one of several things. (1) Let’s not discuss our understanding of the Gospel when come together. (2) Or let’s discuss our differences, and let the best understanding and view of the Gospel win. (3) Or it could mean, forget about what you believe (if you are not a Calvinist) and agree with us because Calvinism is the Gospel. My money is on the third option.

  48. Fried Fish says:

    Lee 42, AKS 43/46 –

    It’s probably tough for these guys not to measure each other’s go$pel value by the number of conference attendees they draw and the number of books they sell. Well-meaning good Christian people spend millions of dollars making these guys into celebrities – and the customer is always right, right? :spin

  49. A Kindred Spirit says:

    Unfortunately, that pastor’s right. “Evangelism” for the YRR crowd has come to mean converting non-reformed christians into reformed/calvinist christians.

    The RBD’s can’t afford to hold CJ accountable because it would hurt the reformed/calvinist gospel. A “reformed Jim Bakker” would hurt their cause.

    Plus, most of these guys pride themselves on their scholarship and intellect. What a blow it would be to admit they were conned by the likes of a CJ.