Archives

The Report From Ambassadors Of Reconciliation

Well, the AoR report is out.  You can view it here.

485 comments to The Report From Ambassadors Of Reconciliation

  • Frankly, I’m rather blown away at the level of scorn and disdain these guys have reserved for “the blogs” – particularly considering I emailed Mr. Kober early in the process and offered to HELP him but never received any sort of response.

    If they were so very offended by “the blogs,” why didn’t they ever make any effort to make things better? Why didn’t they at least express their disgust personally by responding to my emails? Why save it for the report? Isn’t that the very same kind of sinful communication (talking disdainfully and dismissively of “the blogs” without actually talking first to the bloggers) they are accusing us (me) of?

    :spin

  • Somewhereintime

    Nothing that we haven’t heard. Blogs singled out on page 4.

    Funny, my new church, which is quite large, doesn’t have survivor blogs written about it AOR!

    They exist and were created due to the sin of SGM leadership.

  • MagruderHighDays

    blogs blogs

  • MagruderHighDays

    1) In addition, people were actively writing on blogs with complaints against the SGM Board, AoR and the process.

    2) Contrary to false assumptions and complaints that were widely distributed through blogs and emails…

    3) However, one unusual aspect in this case was that the gossip and personal attacks began within hours of SGM Board announcing that it planned to use
    our organization. Usually, groups wait until we begin working with them before criticizing us and our work. The first evidence of this appeared on the blogs…

    4) False information was apparently posted on one of the blogs…

    5) Obviously, a number of people were misled by false information posted on the blogs…

    6) While some may have been influenced by the blogs..

    7) ..Was greatly exacerbated by those writing and reading blogs..

    8) During November 8-10, a number of people made appointments after reading some of the positive reports on the blogs…

    9) Blogs can provide a way for people suffering with similar hurts or problems to share them with others who can sympathize and at times provide helpful advice. Blogs have at times served as electronic support groups.

    10) Some bloggers claim that such media provide a way for the oppressed to speak out with power against unfair treatment by those who control communication and cause hurt to the multitudes.

    11) Nevertheless, the sinful effects of the blogging and judgmental….

    12) It appeared to us that many were vulnerable to easily believe anything written on a blog and then add their own condemning
    thoughts, whether or not the blogger’s identity was known

    13) However, blog support groups rarely have a professional leader who guides the group and helps them avoid sinful talk.

    14) the judgmental criticism we received from the blogs…

    15) One man in particular told us that he was hoping that SGM would be destroyed and cease to exist, and he was intent on writing what he could on
    blogs…

    16) One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking on the blogs

    17) Unlike verbal gossip to one or two people, posting sinful talk on web sites or on blogs becomes a public venue, which has even more potential to destroy
    reputations, harm innocent people, and escalate further attacking.

    18) The Bible is full of admonition and teaching against sinful communication because of the natural tendency of human nature and the harmful effects of such talk. For example, leaders in meetings or those who sponsor blogs could remind people of things such as…

  • MagruderHighDays

    I was trying to Bold all the Blog words but Ted sure does mention the blogs around 20 times. Pretty negative attitude towards “the blogs”

  • Mr Stretch

    If it wasn’t for the blogs I highly doubt that AoR would have ever been called.

  • Isn’t the AOR report being released through a blog?

  • Dylan

    I wish I got paid to write this report. Just sweep everything important under the rug, and when something is too controversial just say it isn’t your “expertise”.

    Very much a PR move from SGM to have these people weigh in on anything.

  • Oneofthem

    You know, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a large disgruntled faction of bloggers to bring to light inconsistencies and problems within a church. The truth is that the blogs should not exist but they do because of the failings within SGM. This is where members and non-members can hear the truth, stay updated and seek justice. This AOR review is in direct response from the pressures of these blogs. Yes, there may be some misinformation and snarkiness, but for the most part these blogs are the best we have. While we who frequent the blogs can certainly examine our hearts for times when we have engaged in sinful conversations or jumped the gun about motives, the AOR board should at least acknowledge God’s grace in having the blogs at this time. If there is any reform, any progress made, it is in part from these blogs and the willingness for SGM to be obedient to God’s reproof through reports like AOR. For this we are wholeheartedly grateful to God.

  • Mr Stretch

    Kris, I would be honored that you were mentioned so often in the report. It means you are/have been making a difference.

  • katie

    “The irony to us was our impression that some were proud of their accomplishment in humility.
    They talked about it in such a way as to distinguish themselves from people outside their
    fellowship in that those in SGM were better at humility than others.”

    a ministry of narcissists…

  • Kris

    That is quite sad that you offered to help Mr. Kober and he never heard back. As you indicate AOR seems to practicing what they say shouldn’t happen. They should have at least gone to you in private and discuss their concerns vs. only posting them in their report.

    One thing I didn’t see the report mention was a distinction or talk about qualifications for leaders or consequences of sin, especially a leader’s sin. Sure it was sad that C.J. after his “confession” to CLC in 7/11 (which he later just about rescinded) should have been encouraged about forgiveness. On the other hand there are consequences to sin.

    AOR also failed to mention how Mahaney basically retracted his “confession.”

    The report left a lot to be desired IMO but really didn’t have high hopes either.

  • Based upon their report, I’d say that these guys are not really equipped to see SGM’s issues for what they are. They seem awfully quick to shoot the messenger down for what they perceive to be “sin” in the way the message is communicated…rather than just listen with open ears for truth in the message itself…

    And after reading the first half of their report, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that AoR had been paid to critique and put in their place those who post on “the blogs.” They seem far more concerned about the sinfulness of those who have been hurt by SGM than the fact that an organization has managed to create a culture where those hurts can take place and fester without any recourse until “the blogs” came along.

  • SamMcGee

    I think a fundamental problem is AoR is in the business of reconciliation. But this isn’t primarily a reconciliation situation. It is a situation of spiritual abuse and abuse of authority.

    I only quickly glanced over the report but even in my brief review, I found many problems. Really, they are too many to mention and I don’t want to minimize all of them by only mentioning a couple here. Having said that:

    On page 24, they essentially conclude that all these problems happened years ago (they through out the number of 7 years) but that there has been improvement recently. This conclusion is erroneous and demonstratively so.

    They also spend a large portion of the report talking about things that happened after July 2011. To me, that is nothing but more misdirection towards how people reacted to the problems rather than the problems themselves. This is consistent with their focus on reconciliation I mentioned above rather than abuse.

    Without mentioning names, they take CLC to task for holding Family Meetings saying that this shouldn’t have been done in public. Again, from a personal reconciliation stand point, I get that but from an systemic abuse stand point, which this is, a public airing is absolutely appropriate and essential because it has to do with actions taken under a corporate umbrella.

    Other parts of the report sound like they could have been written by CJ. It makes we actually wonder if AoR submitted a draft to the SGM Board for comment and then made revisions. I would like to know if that was the case. If it wasn’t, then this report is even sadder than it looks.

    So much more could be said.

  • Defender

    I’ve just “skimmed” the report, (took about an hour.)

    Yes the blogs have taken a “hit” but I don’t see that as totally misplaced.
    I really don’t want to go back and re-read my every post here, but I’m sure there are things I’d wish I can take back.

    I broke into worship when I read at page 27 “Significant Factors; Lack of proclaiming forgiveness”

    As someone who was raised in the Lutheran Church, I find it appropriate that the Lutherans notice that proclaiming forgiveness is lacking in SGM.
    If I may quote Luther, “This is Most Certainly True!”

    I’ll be digging deeper in the report over the next few days, but at first read, I am thankful and hope that SGM doesn’t twist what they read and hear in this report.

    May God be glorified!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kris, I don’t think they grasp how hard it was for soem of us to see things, and feel like we were the only one, and struggle with wondering if we were just overly critical and unsubmissive. I don’t think they understand how much we want others to not feel so alone and to know that it wasn’t just them, hence the blogs.

    I am disappointed by their apparent failure to come down real hard on the shepherding movement errors. While they do speak about abuse of authority in some cases, I doubt they see this as a systemic repeat of 70s shepherding with the Ft Lauderdale 5 all over again- which it is. They didn’t seem to zero in on the priesthood of all believers and the legalism imposed from the top that we had to submit to that went far beyond elders leading in the church, but into homes and personal lives.

    They do point out areas where SGM has supposedly changed…..but what bothers us bloggers is that the changes happen with no admission that what they did last month was wrong and now we are doing it differently. Nothing is apologized for, the past history disappears.

    Well, may the Lord take all of us who want Him into a deeper relationship with Him. Maybe SGM will dry up, maybe God will pour out revival, but all we can do is pray and go on with our lives. As somebody who has known three sociopaths up close in my life, I know the total disconnect between how they can charm everybody in public and how they can turn relentlessly and viciously on their victims and/or competition in secret, and seem to get away with it all their life. But God is just and He will not be mocked. God is good.

  • Greg

    Kris

    While I realize the report is not everything we may have wanted, it is helpful. It did call out quite a few of SGM’s faults. It may be biased in it’s view of the blogs, but can I suggest that for your first reaction to be criticism would be missing what is beneficial in this case?

    One of the points of the report is that the tendency to criticize that wounded so many of us is being practiced in response. I thank God for this report, I would suggest that a Christ-like response would be for each of us to ask God how we may need to change in light of it’s findings before evaluating it’s deficiencies.

    I have my own opinion of what is lacking in the report, but that is not my first response. Rather I ask the Holy Spirit if I have harmed anyone or promted sinful attitudes by what I have written and I receive the grace of God to me more forgiving and gracious in my speach.

    The leadership is now accountable for what is in this report, but I trust God with that process.

  • Defender

    On “Sinful Communication”
    AoR says:

    “Those who truly want to love a person, including opportunities to restore gently (e.g., Galatians
    6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26), can find God-honoring ways to do so. Tearing people down publicly,
    speculating on others’ motives, and sarcastic and caustic talk are anything but loving and gentle.”

    I’ll be looking for scriptural passages to deal with leaders who have stopped up their ears from the cries of the afflicted….

    Oh! Look what I found!

    Titus 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
    20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.

    My wife and I tried to respond “gently” on several occasions.

    For now, SGM, please forgive me for NOT LYING, but proclaiming the TRUTH in my report here, when my wife and I were lied to, and about, by yourselves.

    Also, AoR, I do forgive YOU for being just a little lopsided in your report…..

  • Christiana

    Kris #13, SamMcGee #14 :goodpost

  • BrokenHearted

    I seriously want to just curl up on my floor and cry.

    They are basically doing what SGM was doing for decades (and I really felt had been doing BETTER in lately…) – if you don’t have “biblical terms” and “right attitudes” then what you have to say is invalid.

    The man from AOR that I spoke with showed compassion and was very open about the fact that a LOT of people in SGM have been hurt…obviously these men who wrote the report do not share his giftings.

    I know that y’all told me over and over not to expect much from the report – and I didn’t expect SGM’s reactions to be super surprising, but I really DID expect the reports to be harder on SGM. Now I know why the men in leadership didn’t mind posting the report in it’s entirety.

    Off to cry….

  • Defender

    BrokenHearted,
    The Lord God, King of the Universe, hears your cries.

  • Freedom

    I took a quick read though of the report and it is pretty much what I expected – a joke.

    It had a few “SGM could do this better” ideas, which was to be expected. It also seemed to give a case for SGM to strengthen its grip on the churches, which I am sure ceej is just salivating over (considering his recent statements about not wanting dissenters in his organization).

    The report took a passive/aggressive approach to the blogs. The end point of all the writings about the blogs was that AoR thinks they are tabloid sites on the scale of the National Enquirer or Weekly World News. Yes, they talked about it being a a support group – that was right before they went in for the kill (see post # 4).

    The entire way Survivors and Refuge were dealt with in the report was a classic passive/aggressive approach. Those are also the only two blogs they identified in the report (the only two they said they know of). It was a way to dismiss the blogs and those who post as angry, bitter people. I am not at all surprised – SGM are the ones that funded the report. AoR is working on a contract from SGM. Of course it’s going to be SGM friendly. It’s no different that the GAO auditing their own trips to Las Vegas.

    Everything in the report about what SGM needs to be better is just “slight adjustments”. AoR’s judgement is impaired, they are serving the group that signed their contract.

  • Wow

    I just got to this statement and had to stop and say EXACTLY!

    “The irony to us was our impression that some were proud of their accomplishment in humility. They talked about it in such a way as to distinguish themselves from people outside their fellowship in that those in SGM were better at humility than others.”

    :word

  • 2confused

    Did anyone else notice the date on the first page?? Its dated April 10th! Didn’t SGM recieve this report before then?? If that is the case why is it dated 4/10?

  • Ellie

    The only thing that keeps running through my mind is “God will not be mocked, God will not be mocked”.

    “On the SOLID ROCK we stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

  • glad i am out

    One question raised here several months ago has been answered: Yes, AOR definitely was reading the blogs!

    A few things i highlighted when reading the report:

    1. SGM, apparently, was right, the blogs are most of the problem.

    2. Though they later said something to the contrary, they do seem to discount many of the reports from abused people due to how many years have passed – they seemed to go out of their way to say “but that was a long time ago.”

    3. Unlike SGM, aor does seem to understand the purpose of the Law, it’s to prepare us to hear and receive the good news, and by faith, through Grace, receive salvation… It does not save by itself, in fact it only condemns, if one lives by the law and does not keep it all, and it does not restore us – Grace does. Although i heard that at SGM once in a while, it was not actually lived out that way or modeled for us by leaders… The HUGE emphasis on indwelling sin in SGM seems to be the way they get people saved and then keep them yoked once they are saved… No good News about it… Which brings me to point 4.

    4. Aor’s report on sinful speech: They said they’d never seen anything like it and were shocked! Well, they don’t seem to understand that this has occurred because of the whole emphasis on indwelling sin, which has trickled down through the masses from the pulpit. The sin sniffing has caused more sin, in our speech and actions. No surprise there. That is what happens when grace is never taught or modeled, or otherwise demonstrated… And it has made us angry for being judged and disciplined and never w/ grace applied (which AOR correctly notes). They should not be shocked, and this should cause them to look back at the leadership and what is taught – they didn’t quite make that connection.

    5. They emphasized again and again the fact that they only talked to less than 1 half of 1 percent – well, so what? Maybe they should have made an effort to visit several more churches around the country and make themselves more accessible to the rest of the 28000 members… Their statistic that they present as so small and use to discount much of what they heard, should really be a percentage of just the members in the greater DC area.

  • Christiana

    Brokenhearted #21 —
    My heart aches for you! My first thought on reading the report was to feel so sad for all those who decided to be brave and talk to AoR in the hopes that it would do some good. The attitude in the report is exactly what SGM has dished out. I’m so sorry! God knows the truth about everything and he loves you so very much! Let him comfort you in your grief. I am praying for you and everyone else who shared. It makes me want to cry too just thinking about how you must feel.

  • BrokenHearted

    The Holy Spirit just reminded my heart that I don’t need to be afraid. HE is in control, and that is no less true now than it was yesterday or will be tomorrow!! Whatever else SGM taught me that was NOT true I know this – My God Is Sovereign!! My God Is Good!! MY GOD LOVES ME!!! And He will take care of me!! :)

  • Oneofthem

    Is it just me or do these AOR guys seem like a new breed of Christian pychologists? I just think of the fact that while they were conducting interviews with people expressing their pain, they were also taking notes on their body language. Is it that important that people had “clenched fists” or some raised their voices? Just because everyone doesn’t display the most gracious behavior in reconciliation,doesn’t mean that they are part of the problem. Hurt people act hurt and angry. If you were truly wronged by someone by no fault of yourself, how is it helpful to try to find ways in which the problem is your fault before sharing how you were offended?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    BrokenHearted, my first thought was , “Oh, please dont cry-let me hug you!”..Then, I thought..”Sometimes crying is just plain soothing-a release..and then I thought, ‘The disappointment you feel is a fraction of what God’s heart feels…
    Further thoughts, but I will not have the quiet time to read the report until later:
    It seems they are trying to mix generalizations along with personalization.
    -They did not respond to you, Kris (although I think they should have) because you were not ‘an individual’ injured by SGM, and they planned from the beginning to stand generally against the blogs..Using the thought of dealing with personal matters in a public forum is wrong.
    -On that thought, I think of the ‘divide and conquer’..As “a group’, our voices combined are louder, to be heard, and more powerful, to make a difference. Divide that, instead, into personal, individual stories, and the voices are quieter, but can have huge impact by personalization. I think History has proven that it often takes both to effect change. AoR seems to only want to acknowledge the personal (except, of course, with SGM)
    -The individuals within AoR were compassionate, of course! That is natural with most humans. But, were they the same people who wrote the report? I am thinking the whole thing is about as personal as a corporation. The 1st level managers may care, but “Corporate” makes their decisions not responding to the emotions or personal needs, but ‘the greater good’. So often we see examples of this in life..people genuinely cry with you, but are powerless, except in prayer, to actually DO anything.
    -They criticized ‘the blogs’ quick criticism of them, not even seeing that everyone was suspicious due to SGM, not AoR at all! That, I find disappointing. To truly empathize and understand, I would think another would have to recognize how that would be a natural response to hurt and distrust.
    Once again, we knew who paid them..it was not wrong to hope, it is not wrong to be disappointed..but I am certainly not surprised.
    I will try to read the report before I post again. I only posted from what I read here so far because it all sounds so ‘par for the course’, and many of you I do trust.
    All this really has me looking forward to that final day..It is gonna be way more interesting than the end of ANY other book I have ever read! (Even when I already basically know the ending!)

  • El Pastor

    # 29 One of them

    I too was struck by the detailed study of unholy body language and shrill voices. It is as though despite all the information they had, they never consulted any experts on spiritual abuse. The blogs are not a Sunday School class or a Ladies Tea. People are hurt…by their shepherds! Those they trusted most. Some are lost, some have renounced their faith, others are just crying out for justice. The blogs are inherently messy because of this. But AOR looked at everyone as typical Christians who needed a little mediation. So they were SHOCKED. How un-Lutheran!

    The expression of SHOCK at such ungodly attitudes shows how AOR was in deep over their heads. It seemed like they noticed that early on, and we assumed they would look deeper into this unusual situation. Study it, try to understand it. They didn’t. They stuck to their program, and interpreted everything according to their reconciliation paradigm.

    It is sad, but please, everyone be encouraged. I was hoping for more, too, but consider all that has happened in the last year. Mountains have moved (at least to Kentucky), and it’s not over yet. People are taking notice, and God is working.

  • KAZ

    I liked the report. They did have truths to say about all of us. Wether or not SGM trys change is another story altogether.
    I do have one gripe :evil:
    Near the bottom of page #5 they discuss the percentage of people actually reporting as less then one half of one percent of the total membership. I believe this percentage should have been calculated based on the number of people reporting and the number of SGM membership THAT ACTAULLY KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON :roll:
    How many regular members knew that they had an opportunity to give a report of some kind to the AOR ?

  • A Kindred Spirit

    #28 & #30…I’m with you!

    I feel sorry for those who mustered up the courage to share.

  • Bridget

    ExClcer’s Mom –

    I had the same thoght about AoR being like a corporation and reporting up the ladder. As I was trying to reconcile what people on the blogs had said about their experiences with AoR staff in interviews being compassionate and understanding and what the report seems to say about the interviewees.
    I realized that the interviews would seem very different being read by a third party from a piece of paper with no emotions involved. The person compiling the report has no interaction with the offended party. This might be why scripture tells to “go” to your brother.

  • Bridget

    El Pastor @ 32 –

    Do you think the AoR people believe that the response from those they interviewed is wrong on the offended parties part and the offended are just not being Christ-like? Or does the AoR organization see these responses as a clue to the depth of hurt people have experienced by their shepherds? I wonder if the AoR organization even recognizes spiritual abuse as a legitimate priblem. If they don’t, then they wouldn’t understand any of the interviewee’s responses. I think it would have been better to be seen by someone in the medical profession. They would have seen more of the signs of abuse by the way interviewees shared their concerns and hurt.

  • JeffB

    I would not say that the report was a complete whitewash, but some things were definitely bothersome to me. One was the peevish attitude toward the blogs. Another was the mixed message about hurts that occurred a number of years ago: The length of time does not “invalidate” these hurts, but the implication is…get over it.

    Something that really annoyed me is in the following section (my remarks are in brackets]:

    “Lack of Proclaiming God’s Forgiveness

    In our August 24, 2011 Consultation Report, we observed that SGM appears to not have a practice of declaring God’s grace to one another when sin is confessed. Since that time, our observation has been confirmed over and again as we met with individual members, pastors,and SGM leaders.

    We saw evidence that C.J. Mahaney’s preaching and teaching does proclaim God’s grace. [How often? Once in every message? Every 5 messages? 10? And how much in comparison with mentioning sin? Very vague.] When he began to sense that some in SGM were over-emphasizing the Doctrine or Sin at the expense of extending God’s grace, he warned against such behavior and urged leaders to balance the addressing of sin with God’s grace. [Over what period of time did this happen? Within a few weeks? Months? Years? Decades?]

    Nevertheless, when Ed Keinath and Ted Kober taught how to proclaim God’s forgiveness in confession during the Getting to the Heart of Conflict at the Pastor’s Conference (November 8), a number of pastors expressed appreciation for the teaching and personal experience (in the exercises we provided) and explained that this was a new concept for them. Further, as we talked to individuals and proclaimed God’s forgiveness to them, they indicated that the way in which our team members did this was new to them.”

    So – despite CJ’s warning leaders of over-emphasizing sin at the expense of grace, “a number of pastors…explained that [proclaiming "God's forgiveness in confession"]…was a new concept for them.”

    Gosh, even Catholic priests know this “concept.” Obviously, the pastors didn’t listen very hard when CJ warned them, or else they were just too dumb to understand. It couldn’t possibly be that CJ didn’t do much of a job in warning them. Apparently the writers of this report didn’t see a contradiction here.

    And then there’s this:

    “As noted in our August Consultation Report, when C.J. Mahaney made his public confession at Covenant Life Church, no one took the opportunity to publicly declare to C.J. a message of hope based on Christ’s forgiveness. For example, someone could have said the following based on the Bible’s teachings: C.J., I have great news for you. God promises in his Holy Word: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 ESV). The Apostle Paul also declares: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). Having heard your confession of sin, and based on the promises of God, I remind you that
    God loves you and forgives you all your sins because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. You are forgiven by God. Go in his peace, which transcends all understanding. In spite of his open confession, C.J. Mahaney was sent out without the comfort of God’s good
    news for him. Instead, many discussed the merits and weaknesses of C.J.’s confession and his other wrongs in a large group meeting.”

    First of all, there’s a rather sickening attempt to gain sympathy for CJ, particularly ironic since he later regretted his “confession.”

    Secondly, we see, once again, that, despite all of CJ’s no doubt diligent attempts to warn against over-emphasizing sin at the expense of grace, somehow the message didn’t get through. And poor CJ himself was punished because leaders and members were apparently too dense to heed his fervent warnings.

    Of course, his being “hoist on his own petard” is not a possibility.

  • Oswald

    Greg #18 — “One of the points of the report is that the tendency to criticize what wounded so many of us is being practiced in response. I thank God for this report, I would suggest that a Christ-like response would be for each of us to ask God how we may need to change in light of it’s findings before evaluating it’s deficiencies….I ask the Holy Spirit if I have harmed anyone or promoted sinful attitudes by what I have written and I receive the grace of God to me more forgiving and gracious in my speech.”
    Thanks, Greg. My thoughts exactly. God spoke to my heart through the report.

  • Eagle

    I usually hang out at TWW and IMonk. While scanning through the report a thought popped up in my mind. I wondered if there was a case of “religious espionage” where there was a pipeline into the other “Big Dogs” as you call them. Here’s why I say this….this report takes on a new light in my mind when you consider how the other T4G leaders have been building up Mahaney. It was almost like they knew in advance what he report was going to say. If they did…it makes one wonder…how partial was this process to begin with?

    Also does the report say anything about Mahaeney’s blackmail and extortion of Tomczak at all?

    Who I truly feel sorry for are those who shared. They are now marked, and on the record in some shape or form. If SGM really was interested in reconciliation why didn’t they just practice it?

  • El Pastor

    Bridget # 35

    My read is that they believe those interviewed were in the wrong for ungodly anger and bitterness. Since they are all about reconciliation, the bitter ones are the obstacles to the goal, and the SGM people, who were bowing and displaying their “humility”, were cooperative and therefore not really sinful. Injustice is not given any real weight in the report. It may be, as you point out in #34, the interviewers were genuinely sympathetic, but the final report, which is really very sketchy, does not reflect any real concern for how SGM beat people up spiritually.

    Personally, I thought AoR would catch on to how divergent SGM is from “normal Christianity” as Kris has pointed out over and over. They didn’t catch on, or, more likely, they simply chose not to go there.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I am now very glad I did not participate with that process. I am sorry for those of you who have been so disappointed. I was reading, and I saw instances where I disagreed strongly with them, but then I thought, to what end? Now, more so then ever, I see a divide between “He who has ears to hear”, and ‘he who does not’. It appears to me that SGMSurvivors and SGM Refuge both have an important part to play in support and healing, and letting the truth be known. I could be wrong, but I honestly do not see any way of reconciliation. Our God is a God of Reconciliation, but He will never reconcile with evil..This is not arguments over doctrine or theology-this is about real people, with real instances of abuse, with real families and lives that are forever changed. It is only by God’s Grace that, despite the abuses within SGM that we have any hope of healing anyway. But, I dont think reconciliation is going to be any part of that. Kris, my thanks to you and Guy, as well as Jim at SGM Refuge, for ‘being there’, to be a place for healing, as well as a voice to be heard by all who has ears to hear. (And, to clarify, I am not meaning that in an ‘predestined’ way or another doctrine..I just think some people become so deceived or hard hearted they dont want to listen and recognize the truth. Yes, my hope would be that they one day will see, but I personally have no Faith for that.)

  • Bridget

    JeffB –

    From what I understand of that “confession” ar CLC, CJ shared his stuff and immediately left. (Can anyone confirm this?)

    Was there time for anyone to address him?

  • Rick

    My concern with the report is the sense of overt protection of the powerful (CJ and the rest of SGM leadership) rather than a coming along side those in vulnerable positions that have been wounded, the powerless. Sadness. There is no moral equivalence between what those in power wrongfully do and say and how those that have been abused by unbiblical authoritarianism respond. Sadness. True, biblical leadership would rush to repent for the past actions, no matter how long ago these occured.

  • Bridget

    El Pastor –

    Thank you for the response. I was hoping that AoR’s eyes had been opened to a reality. It does not appear so.

  • Persona

    I am not sure we can expect a much better outcome to a report that was funded by SGM, an obvious conflict of interest.

    SGM also stuffed the ballot box, in a way, by inviting a lot of Kool-Aid drinkers (from CLC) in to meet with the AoR to ‘balance’ their view of SGM.

    More significantly, Mr. Kober seems to have taken up an offense with CJ/SGM, against a few weblogs. I didn’t find it appropriate that blogs were mentioned at all in the document. And yet, there was much detailed commentary about blogs taking up a sizeable portion of the report. I wonder who requested that?

    And, though Mr. Kober apparently does not consider it biblical to mention specific faults or deficiencies of SGM leaders in a public way, he did not withhold some very specific criticism of SGM members, past and present. This, despite the fact that those members have absolutely no one else on earth, to speak on their behalf, about a group of men who have wielded immense, unchecked power over them, for more than 3 decades.

    This is why I do not feel the report is worth the ‘digital paper’ it was written on. And, this is also why blogs will likely never outgrow their usefulness. So, Mr. Kober has failed if he is thinking blogs will all shut-down after his public scolding.

    Since groups like T4G and the AoR shrink back from their God-given responsibilities, blogs will remain the single best means to document ongoing abuse by SGM leaders and continue to call for reform, in a very unhealthy league of churches.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    They seem awfully quick to shoot the messenger down for what they perceive to be “sin” in the way the message is communicated…rather than just listen with open ears for truth in the message itself…

    And after reading the first half of their report, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that AoR had been paid to critique and put in their place those who post on “the blogs.” They seem far more concerned about the sinfulness of those who have been hurt by SGM than the fact that an organization has managed to create a culture where those hurts can take place and fester without any recourse until “the blogs” came along.

    Is there a “how to” book for pastors floating around somewhere out there by some “Gothard-type” author on how to handle situations like these? The consistency in response is amazing!

  • Sea Change

    :( I was hoping for more, like brokenhearted.
    Instead it is just more beating the wounded over the head for acting wounded and not being gentle in their reaction to abuse.

    So who did they expect to “absolve” CJ after his public confession? Nobody was bringing the accusations to him like their example of David confessing and then being forgiven. Nobody stood in front of him and said “you have done this specific thing”. He got to make his vague apology and then retract it later because he didn’t really mean it anyway. The petty and childish part of me sees aor rebuke the people for not being whatever they were supposed to be to CJ after his confession, and wants to yell “well he started it!!”. In a sane world, i dont think that such detailed confession as many people want from the leaders of sgm is really necessary. It’s just that it’s so hard to believe that anything resembling true repentance is coming out of them unless you hear exactly what it is they are sorry for.

    From my perspective it seemed like there was a lot of cj praise going on after the confession, about how humble and sacrificial he was. But maybe that was just me overblowing the number of applauding Facebook posts I saw after it was released.

    The sad thing is that i think the SGM system makes people feel like they are a little crazy and disoriented, like that there might be something wrong with ME for thinking that something is right when the leaders say it isn’t. So it’s tempting to read this report and feel that twilight zone confusion. Maybe it really IS just me after all?…

  • lily

    With what I’ve read here, looks like SGM is hardening its heart further, and simply bought off some para professionals to make them look good and those abused, as bad. That means there is a stronger probability for these problems in SGM to increase down the road, and if that happens, then, it will have become a recognizable cult, not normal Christianity. In the meantime, I appreciate the help I’ve experienced here, but agree with those posters who have been encouraging us to focus on Christ, and move forward with what He would teach us as individual believers and is calling us to in Him. I think most of what I’ve read in the last few months here and in other blogs has been fulfilling a calling from God. He really does care for and about wounded people, and He is just.

  • I’m puzzled, actually, over the amount of criticism the AoR report leveled at SGM’s critics, in particular for the critics’ sinfulness.

    I wonder if it occurred to the AoR guys that all the pro-SGM folks with whom they spoke had a vested interest in presenting themselves as über Christians…while a significant number of SGM’s critics no longer have such a compunction.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Persona, I so agree with you! The blogs should not have been mentioned, and if AoR was not going to speak to Kris, I dont think they should have considered the blogs at all! Did they really validate that their alleged threats actually came form bloggers? Not ALL people who have been injured are bloggers, and in any large group of people, it is not uncommon to get one or two irrational people statistically. Even Kris and Guy have been threatened, but they do to accuse everyone , or even most of the people in SGM to be violent!As a matter of fact, i do believe almost EVERY person that speaks of reconciliation practices will say to stay away from generalizations.
    The way they speak of the blogs would make me think badly, but that is really not the way it is.
    Look at these two ‘presentations':
    They pointed out that since SGM made them aware how “they were fully indoctrinated with the practice of Biblical peacemaking”, so they altered their half day seminar accordingly. (Although, does SGM practice their so-called indoctrination in peacemaking?)
    Yet, the way they describe what the bogs says is: People had “heard all of this stuff before” (a direct quote) and didn’t feel that they needed to hear it again.
    Is there really any difference in the statement, except the wording? Yet, both give entirely different perceptions.
    *sigh*

  • FSGP

    Perused the report and totally missed the parts about where it’s OK for the ministry president to ignore his own church’s pastor/leader, run to a BFF’s church outside the denomination, lead his sons-in-law, worship pastor, “college” president to transfer church membership, move the ministry to another state …. let me check the report again … nope, still not seeing it.

    The whole bunch of ‘em put the “ill” in humil(l)ity.

    Soooooo glad I am out,
    Former SG Pastor

  • Blindsided

    Bridget #42

    To me, CJ seemed to have one motive for being at that July meeting and that was to put his spin on things and then get out of Dodge. He left quickly and exited stage right. As he walked down the steps, Carolyn got up and joined him both leaving near the door by the stage. There was no opportunity for any questions.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    It’s as those their main objective was to discredit the blogs.

    It’s weird.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    *It’s as ‘though’

  • Bridget

    It is interesting that the former wounded members are called out for their attitudes and bloggers are called out for talking, but leadership of SGM and CLC and how they immediately responded (by leaving) is not mentioned at all. The fact that CJ didn’t follow his own teachings (hypocrisy) not mentioned. The runnining of SGM like a papacy – not mentioned.

    The issues with Brent and Tomczak being under separate cover is a big issue. CJ not apologizing to the Family of Churches for how he portrayed Tomczak ??? among other things. I guess he only had to apologize to CLC and then retract at pastor’s conference ???

    Did it ever occur to AoR that how they saw CJ being treated when he confessed was similar to how other pastors had been treated? Do they not think that what they see in wounded people’s communicatiiom is the result of “something amiss?” All they can manage is “unholy responses” by the wounded! What, no one should expect some behavior from leaders that resembles righteousness!

  • GraceCheck

    It is unfortunate that the report reads so generic. It seems that this process took 9 months to say, “Stupid guys, put a “Book of Church Order” together like normal denominations. And just use that past bad stuff to be sure you get it right in you book so you can move on. Oh, lets hug.” However, I really did not expect more than this and knew this would be the outcome.

    I think that many will read the AOR report and really be appalled that nothing is really said about CJ. For some, I think the only acceptable action on CJ is to have him crucified, and on the 3rd day when he is still dead, say “I was right, he was not the messiah.” If that is you, you need to find a way to forgive and move on. There are many fantastic Churches out there that are in need of people like you to help them spread the good news of Jesus. Go there and be renewed, refreshed, and then go forth to spread the Word.

    A recovering SGMr

  • sick with worry

    Brent has been quiet. Also, I agree with what gracecheck said above. There are a lot of churches that would love to have you. My SGM church is full of some great men that are totally under-utilized.

  • Leo

    A Kindred Spirit – re: post # 53, you are correct. That was a big part of it – it was to attack the blogs and make the wounded members look like they are in sin. The rest of it is a way for sgm to take greater control over their churches.

    I have mentioned this earlier, but I am not at all surprised at the content of the report. There is no way that SGM was going to contract out to a company to publish a report that made them look liable for anything.

  • Ozymandias

    A couple of initial thoughts:

    1. Besides part of #4 (inconsistency re: church discipline) and #5 (inconsistency and insensitive handling of sexual misconduct), the list of AOR-identified “deficiencies in pastoral practice” (as outlined in the Board’s response to today’s report on document page 43) are pretty much word-for-word from what CJ outlined at the end of his 9 November 2011 Pastors Conference talk. Compare the list to the last three pages of http://dl.dropbox.com/u/46607022/CJ_Mahaney_Family_Meeting_SGM_Pastors_Conference_Bootleg_Transcript.pdf.

    2. Re the bullet list on document page 28-29, each of those points made me ask the question — why? Why did the movement fail to develop policies and procedures? Why were there no structured ways of bringing concerns/complaints? Why was there no defined process for church discipline cases? The report could have been fleshed out a *lot* more in this particular section. Just saying that we’re a young movement isn’t much in the way of analysis. Compare this dearth of policies and procedures with the detail provided in, for example, the excerpts from SGM’s Administration Manual for Church Planters (http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/Reference/AdminManualforChurchPlanters.pdf).

    3. How do you do just a page to a page-and-a-half of bullets re: underlying factors, but then write just shy of 6 pages on the contributing factors for the “intensity” of the conflict over the last number of years — focused mainly on sinful behavior/attitudes and sinful communication (i.e. the slander/gossip issue)?

  • Ozymandias

    4. I’m not sure what it is about these AoR findings that necessitated the rapid-fire seating of the new SGM Board. Save for being able to say that we’ve established a polity committee, along with the process and questions it will address (see document page 42), I don’t see anything in today’s report which warranted the political and relational capital lost by all-but-ignoring the 7 March 2012 “go slow” FFX + 16 letter.

  • Local Church Fan

    Pretty eye opening. I hope that each person who invests time on this site stating their opinions, slandering others, gossiping, casting suspicion, consider the things mentioned from an objective 3rd parties findings of this and other blog(s) like this:

    (Kris, I think that you should copy and paste all these things, make them a blog post, and close the comments. It should always be visible on your homepage so that those who come to your site and choose to read the posts and comments, can read an 3rd party objective view on the credibility and affect of the content.)

    *Apparently on one of the blogs, someone falsely claimed that if a person met with a member of the AoR team, he or she would be prohibited from ever talking about that issue again to anyone anywhere. :(

    *Contrary to false assumptions and complaints that were widely distributed through blogs and
    emails, :(

    *It is not unusual that AoR or its team members become the subject of gossip in a conflicted group. However, one unusual aspect in this case was that the gossip and personal attacks began within hours of SGM Board announcing that it planned to use our organization. Usually, groups wait until we begin working with them before criticizing us and our work. The first evidence of this appeared on the blogs. :(

    *For example, one threatened to report us to government agencies about our illegal work (based on false assumptions that were posted on a blog). :(

    *Another surprising response was the negative reaction to our confidentiality policy. False information was apparently posted on one of the blogs and easily accepted and passed on as fact. :(

    *As a result of the false assumptions and misinformation, blog postings discouraged people not to participate in AoR’s process and even warned people against doing so. :(

    *Obviously, a number of people were misled by false information posted on the blogs. :(

    *Our observation is that the power of worthless talk (Ephesians 4:29 ff) and sinful judging (Matthew 7:1-2; James 3:5-12; 4:11-12) was greatly exacerbated by those writing and reading blogs and widely distributed emails. :( :( :(

    *Some of the blog postings became positive and encouraged people to meet with us. During November 8-10, a number of people made appointments after reading some of the
    positive reports on the blogs. :D

    *Communicating in blogs and emails can be beneficial. It provides a way to communicate quickly and publicly. Blogs can provide a way for people suffering with similar hurts or problems to share them with others who can sympathize and at times provide helpful advice. Blogs have at times served as electronic support groups. Some bloggers claim that such media provide a way for the oppressed to speak out with power against unfair treatment by those who control communication and cause hurt to the multitudes. (Footnote: However, blog support groups rarely have a professional leader who guides the group and
    helps them avoid sinful talk.) Not sure what emoticon goes here.

    *Nevertheless, the sinful effects of the blogging and judgmental emails cannot be minimized or
    ignored. While there were real issues to address regarding SGM and its churches, the way in
    which some people treated us as outsiders demonstrated to us that many in this system were
    prejudiced, bitter, angry, and judgmental in their approaches. It appeared to us that many were
    vulnerable to easily believe anything written on a blog and then add their own condemning
    thoughts, whether or not the blogger’s identity was known. Furthermore, those being
    condemned in this way had no just way to respond to the accusations. :( :( :(

    *This particular cultural norm stood in stark contrast to the judgmental criticism we received
    from the blogs and emails in September through early November. :(

    *One man in particular told us that he was hoping that SGM would be destroyed and cease to exist, and he was intent on writing what he could on blogs or emails to that end. :(

    *Others expressed deep hurts or anger or bitterness. A couple of people openly expressed a desire
    to bring harm to SGM as an organization. In addition to receiving such feedback in personal
    interviews, we received copies of information that was sent in emails and on blogs that
    expressed similar viewpoints. :(

    *One of the greatest factors that inflamed the conflicts and increased people’s wrath and clamor
    was the extensive use of sinful communication in talking, emails, blogs and meetings. :( :( :(

    *In emails and blogs, people speculated on others’ motives, interpreted events and other
    communications in the worst possible light, and inserted commentary and falsehoods to enhance
    their positions. Modeling the sinful world’s ways, some used sharp sarcasm to criticize and
    attack. Once something was posted or emailed, even though an outside bystander could see the
    sinful ways in which things were being communicated, others accepted the writings as truth and
    continued to add their own sinful talk. Unlike verbal gossip to one or two people, posting sinful
    talk on web sites or on blogs becomes a public venue, which has even more potential to destroy
    reputations, harm innocent people, and escalate further attacking. :( :( :(

    *All such public venues, whether in meetings or on blogs and web sites, should remind people of what God warns against and encourages in our speech. :D

    *For example, leaders in meetings or those who sponsor blogs could remind people of things such as:
    • “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Proverbs 11:13 ESV).
    • “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:29-30 ESV).
    • “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15 ESV).
    • “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12 ESV).

    Those who truly want to love a person, including opportunities to restore gently (e.g., Galatians
    6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-26), can find God-honoring ways to do so. Tearing people down publicly,
    speculating on others’ motives, and sarcastic and caustic talk are anything but loving and gentle.
    Paul describes love in a very different way:
    “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not
    insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but
    rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
    things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV).
    Those who read and listen to such ungodly communications can easily be moved to their own
    sinful actions. Wise Christians learn to avoid such venues where sinful talk is left unrestrained.
    In the end, sinful words and actions became a major contributing factor to the seriousness of the
    conflict. Much like a back draft in a building fire, gossip, anger, hurtful words and actions, and
    other sinful responses fanned the flames of destructive conflict.
    Through sinful communication, more relationships were broken, the ministry of both the church
    and her people were damaged, and Sovereign Grace’s collective witness to Christ was greatly
    diminished. :D

    It seems that when the report discussed the blogs in the past/current state, the result was frowning faces. When the report talked about what the blog could be, the result was smiling faces.

    I pray that all who comment and moderate will read and consider the findings of this objective group.

    If you do, great changes will be made, for the glory of God.

  • Bridget

    Just realized that the 28,000 probably includes children. The count at our location always includes children. That’s a skewed number then!! Children won’t respond to AoR .

  • glad i am out

    I hope some here will email AOR – no, not the angry emails and threats they claim to have received, but honest questions… As a christian reconciliation organization, they need to hear from folks who know, as we know, that they foolishly discounted valuable testimony, because of the way it was brought, and gave SGM a huge PASS for which they will be held accountable… This organization, frankly, for all their expertise and for all that they charge for their services, is foolish and naive. I emailed them. I hope you will do similar:

    I emailed them tonight as follows:

    I am not one who trashed you on the blogs before you started your investigation, or during it, and i have never sent you angry emails or threats. I am concerned now, however, after reading your report, that you seem to discount anything said by a person w/ a raised voice or a clenched fist – why do you think they are so angry – could it have something to do w/ the actions and failures of leaders in SGM?
    Why do you think the blogs exist – have you ever seen anything like this in any other church movement?
    Yes, the people often speak in sinful ways – does that mean necessarily that their points are not valid and based on specific truths about what they say..
    if bloggers ran w/ mis-information, and added to it, well, shame on them, but WHY did they do this? Can it be that they are so suspicious of all things SGM and w/ good reason?
    Do not discount the message because of the way it was delivered – that is foolish
    Also, the sinful speech you mention in the report is directly relatable to the “sin sniffing” due to the “indwelling sin doctrine” that is taught – Sin begets sin… and the leaders contributed greatly to the way we sheep now communicate… For the record, i AM aware of my own sin. I am guilty of sinful speech… Does this mean, though, that everything i say has no validity??? Of course not.
    Finally – on the fact that you only heard from 1 1/2 of 1 percent – well, you only went to one location.. Do not consider that statistic as representative of 280000 sgm members unless you go to several churches across america – and the UK (many many damaged sheep there)
    You guys have much to learn… you played into sgm hands and gave them a HUGE pass – which you are now accountable for…
    One thing i will praise, however, and am grateful for, is you know the difference between Law and Grace and correctly pointed out SGM has failed in this area – FRANKLY this is the very crux of all of the issues!!!! If they got this one thing from your report, and endeavored to fix it – ALL WOULD CHANGE!!
    (name removed) – 20 year member of a SGM church – and one who could tell a thousand stories of abuse. You have not heard from the multitudes that are out there so you should not make so much of the 1 1/2 of 1 percent statistic – absolutely misleading and foolish. Oh, and BTW, what of CJ’s recanting his confession at the pastor’s conference, and what of CJ’s blackmail of larry tomczak??????????

  • Bridget

    The number should probably be done as a household/family unit and not even individual adults.

  • justawife

    LCF#61: I personally think the mention of the blogs, such as this one, in the AoR report was a HUGE sidetrack. Why did they even merit mention? It was almost as if AoR immediately attacked the blogs or the angry/bitter former SGMers as being the ones at fault rather than realizing WHY in the first place the blogs have gained so much traffic over the years as well as why those individuals that have fled SGM are bitter.

    The hurt people who post on these blogs and have shared their concerns with AoR (angry body language at all) aren’t just slanderers,gossipers, or bitter/angry people. And it isn’t for anyone else, whether it be AoR, SGM, pastors, whoever, to judge their hearts and motives. Each tells a story of what they have personally gone through at SGM. Each deserves to be heard, to be listened to, and to not be judged simply because they may display bitterness towards being hurt years ago by the church. The problem is that the hurts that people have experienced are REAL. That is why the blogs have grown in traffic tremendously over the past 4 years. It doesn’t have to do with the blog writers encouraging gossip or slander or people doing the same. All of these things, the blogs, the bitter former members and pastors, are symptoms of a greater problem. The AoR report is incorrect, IMHO, to identify them as the main problem when these blogs never would have gained the traction that have had it not been for the many that had been hurt through SGM’s authoritarian oversight and culture on its members.

    What AoR should have done is address, or at least try to look into, WHY people are so upset,and why these blogs have gotten so much attention. Instead they chose to pinpoint the symptoms rather than the underlying problem. It’s a good thing that the men who have written and compiled this report are not medical physicians. Then we’d all still be sick while only treating our symptoms and not the actual illness causing them.

  • MAK

    LCF…interesting that you would post this about the evil blogs that YOU have participated in reading and posting on :scratch

  • glad i am out

    Local Church Fan,

    keep drinkin’ that kool-aid, because when and if you ever stop, you are going to see the truth and clearly it will blow your mind and your whole world. Be happy with sin, lack of integrity, mediocrity, and oppression, if that is what floats your boat. Read the comments about AOR here if you dare – the questions asked are about the questions they did not. The comments posted, about the AOR bias, can not be denied. Unless, of course, you do not read your bible… and i think it is clear you do not. Enjoy your comfort… But great thinkers, truth-seekers, and the great movers and Shakers in our faith, never stay in the comfort zone – that is for chickens and fools.

  • Persona

    61

    Are you being facetious? CJ obviously paid the AoR to say what they said.

    And, Kris doesn’t need anyone telling her what to do or not do. It’s her blog.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Wow……Initial response: AOR just didn’t get it.

    And how much money did this report cost?

  • Local Church Fan

    MAK #64 –

    The comments made by AoR about the blogs are not reflective of my posts.

    Notice the positive things they point out that blogs can be used for.

  • Local Church Fan

    Persona #66 –

    Not facetious at all.

    Your comment, “CJ obviously paid the AoR to say what they said.” is an example of what AoR found concerning.

  • Bridget

    LCF –

    That came across like a self-righteous ton of bricks. Was that intended?

    You said nothing about SGM and their issues. You only commented about the blogs which was not the original purpose of the AoR report. The AoR was to evaluate SGM’s practices and the complaints of the offended. How is it that the blogs have become a scapegoat?

    BTW – Many leaders in Christendom are involved in blogging their perspectives on everything — many do not take comments or delete many comments that do not agree with their perspective. Why is it ok for them to speek but not others? Do you suppose that everything they say is true, that they hold all truth, or are they acceptable to you because you agree with them?

    You have been given more freedom to express your thoughts on this blog than people here have been given on many blogs because their perspectives were different than the moderators. Then you come on here and restate what everyone can plainly read for themselves. What is your purpose?

  • Guy

    I think LCF should start a blog…

  • glad i am out

    Lets give Local Church a break. maybe he/she did not have a father like mine, who taught me integrity, and who said if you follow a man, make sure he knows where he is going, and that you want to go there too. Maybe the fact that CJ turned tail and cowardly fled “his dearest place on earth” is a good thing in LCF’s world. Maybe the fact that CJ did not, ONCE, in this process, adhere to his constant teachings of 30 years in ministry, and obey his own rules, means anything to LCF… It is difficult to understand, i know, that a man so revered and respected could so quickly let so many people down… He is just a mortal human after all… I mean, he is allowed to be like the rest of us, right??? But, LCF, is this a man you want to follow? A man who did not respect his own pastor and did not submit, yet expected everyone else to do so? and taught so for decades? Do you want to follow a man who escaped reconciliation by leaving the very church movement he started and by going to a baptist church? A man who made a partial confession of his sins, and then later recanted even that partial confession? A man who said he was planting a church, yet who now seems to be getting comfortable, again, in a role he admitted he is not qualified for? A man who will dismantle an entire ministry, and cause folks to lose jobs, and others to uproot their families, just because of his damaged pride and his refusal to face the music he created in the first place? Well, ok then. Good for you. Good luck with that. That sounds very biblically thought out. I am glad that AOR gave you some support. I mean, they are experts right? They do no wrong right? they understand all of the complexities of this conflict within SGM better than those of us who have been here for 20 plus years right?? And most importantly, they do not like bloggers right? So you are cool. Keep doing what you are doing. Keep being comfortable and safe. I mean, AOR has clearly made a way for you to do nothing and to believe nothing, and the did so easily, because a few folks raised their voice and clenched their fists… I mean, who could believe the words of such people who raise voices and clench fists – they must just be sinful yo-yos – no reason behind the words they speak… So, LCF, enjoy your peace… I mean didn’t Jesus have a perfectly peaceful life? Isn’t that why he came, so we could all be comfortable in our perfect little sunday boring experiences? Isn’t that what God promises us and what the bible is all about??? Enjoy.

  • Local Church Fan

    Bridget #72 –

    It was definitely not intended as self-righteous.

    I felt that the perspective that AoR brought was helpful in evaluating the content and the affect of the blogs. I think it would be a tragedy if this, and other blogs, overlooked these statements.

    I am confident that SGM will address the issues brought forth in the report.

    I expressed hope that the blogs would address the things revealed by the 3rd party.

    People, on blogs, have continued to reject the comments by “pro-SGM’ers” concerning the slanderous nature of many of the posts/comments. I think it is noteworthy to see an objective perspective on the situation. But, as I have seen, the response to even an objective perspective is “CJ paid them to say what they said.”

    The words that many post on these blogs are hurtful and are contrary to Scripture – and it is done all Anonymous. Simply said, all comments and posts on this blog, and all others, should be carefully moderated and sinful comments, slander, and corrupt speech should be removed immediately.

    That is what I would love to see for this blog.

  • Persona

    75

    You give the AoR much more credit than they deserve. The truth is simple. They were paid to say what they said.

    I agree with Guy.

    Go start your own blog where you can pontificate all you want about the local church you are a big fan of.

  • justawife

    @LCF#75: “The words that many post on these blogs are hurtful and are contrary to Scripture – and it is done all Anonymous. Simply said, all comments and posts on this blog, and all others, should be carefully moderated and sinful comments, slander, and corrupt speech should be removed immediately.”

    So who determines if a comment is “sinful/slanderous/corrupt”? I think these terms are very subjective. What one may view as sinful or slanderous another may view as simply an honest, straightforward observation of a situation.

    We need correction as Christians and I am thankful for those who have brought honest observations to me when I didn’t want to hear them because I NEEDED to hear them. SGM desperately NEEDS to hear them. They NEED to listen to these blogs and these problems. Josh Harris finally started doing this at CLC and , as result of addressing the criticism and trying to fix things rather than pretend that everything’s ok with the way they do church, it appears he’s been shunned from all his former SGM buddies, such as his “mentor” CJ.

    People are trying to tell SGM to listen, but are they? Or are they just finding someone new to blame and justify their actions once again?

  • El Pastor

    LCF #75

    This is an open blog about people’s experience with SGM. Some of the posters are not Christians. They don’t accept the biblical rules. Others are struggling with their faith because of their SGM experience. They are hurting and sometimes spittin’ mad. The rules don’t seem so important to them as does the truth. Many are true believers, of whom some let their suspicions and anger get the best of them sometimes, and out comes evil speaking and judging motives…a number here have humbly admitted this. None of this invalidates the core concerns and truths revealed here about SGM.

    A wise man sees through the anger and bitterness, and asks, “What really happened here?” AoR failed to ask that, and so have you. Your posts drip with condescension, not love.

    Remember, it is the shepherds and teachers who will incur a stricter judgment.

  • sgmnot

    El Pastor @78 Yes! Thank you for stating this so well.

  • Res Ipsa

    Local Church Fan #75 wrote: “Simply said, all comments and posts on this blog, and all others, should be carefully moderated and sinful comments, slander, and corrupt speech should be removed immediately.”

    Wow. You’re suggesting that the blog hosts censor comments to “prevent” sin. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the essence of SGM boiled down to a single sentence, but it looks like you managed it: third parties should control information provided to others, all for the sake of “protecting” those who can’t possibly discern for themselves. Wow.

    If the posts are so often sinful, shouldn’t the onus instead be on you to avoid them rather than on the blog hosts to control them?

  • Unassimilated

    The report, in its own weird way, does point out just what we see here. A seemingly happy healthy ministry that produces a ridiculous amount of unhappy/’sinful’/hurt/confused/disillusioned people. In ways and in numbers that AOR has not seen in 18 years. They even noted how what CJ preaches is in some sort of conflict with the practice/understanding of many SGM Pastors.

    Nevertheless, when Ed Keinath and Ted Kober taught how to proclaim God’s forgiveness in confession during the Getting to the Heart of Conflict at the Pastor’s Conference (November 8), a number of pastors expressed appreciation for the teaching and personal experience (in the exercises we provided) and explained that this was a new concept for them.

    Demonstrating forgiveness…a new concept…wow!

    Still, AOR spends more time whining about the blogs rather than digging deep into the why of the very circumstances they both note & complain about.
    For AOR to simply proclaim many things as wrong attitudes, or sin, is to display the same self absorbed dismissive attitudes that SGM itself is known for.
    In other words, they miss the forest for the trees. Why not dig in?

    I could rant about this a bit more, but there is a big disqualifier in the report. AOR points out their own fatal flaw. A flaw that makes the report, IMO, absolutely meaningless. It is found where the report seeks to absolve itself with this statement;

    Because we met with such a small percentage of members (less than ½ of 1%), our observations may not accurately reflect the entire association of churches.

    So, this report is doomed from the the start just in its sample size. Its bunk & junk. Being that – “According to Board statistics, some 28,000 people are served by its churches.” We are looking at roughly 126 people interviewed. Certainly no more than 140.

    This matters in that if AOR was simply to ask each participant one question, and that question was “Do you like ice cream?”, they would
    need to ask 379 people that very question to have a 60-80 % chance of having an answer that sufficiently represents the reported 28,000 SGM members/people served.
    Yet we are dealing with very complex issues that have manifested over 30 plus years, and perhaps 50-100 thousand former members. This blog alone is reported as getting 100,000 unique hits per month. That would take the required number of needed participants to roughly 1353 people. Just for the one yes/no question.

    So the report is inaccurate musing as coyly explained by Kober in his own report. If I was going to fault AOR for anything, it would be taking this
    SGM business on in the first place. If AOR has been doing this for 18 years, why had they elected to take on a task that they were not equipped to
    adequately handle in the first place? I have to suspect it was the size of the paycheck above all else.

    So, IMO, SGM should not be using this report as anything authoritative, but they will. They paid too much for it, and they need all the spin they can muster.

    The blogosphere should simply ignore it as speculative at best, because it is by AOR’s own admission. Yet we can’t as many will feel personally marginalized, and
    others will feel the need to provide a sufficient backlash to SGM’s blah blah blahing about every positive nugget they can squeeze out of it.

    The only positive thing out of all this is that God still so loved the world, that he sent his only Son. If I were God, I would be sending a fleet of doomsday devices. Epic doomsday devices! It all makes me think that Heaven, may perhaps, have some shocks for us as to who is there, and how many are not.

  • Unassimilated

    LCF, do you like ice cream?

  • Unassimilated

    Res-

    “third parties should control information provided to others, all for the sake of “protecting” those who can’t possibly discern for themselves.”

    Your awesomeness is showing. :D

  • Bene D

    If you look at the recommendations – one is the establishment of a reconciliation ministry. AOR has volunteered, which would generate a fair chunk of change for AOR.

    “Furthermore, SGM should encourage its churches to develop Reconciliation Ministries that would serve similar purposes in the churches. Training in Reconciliation Ministries (also known as Peacemaking Teams) should be incorporated in the Pastors College, Pastors Conferences, and other training opportunities.
    SGM may seek assistance from Ambassadors of Reconciliation or Peacemaker Ministries to
    help implement this plan over time.”

    #11 A reference to the meticulous record keeping of people like Brent Detwiller? :spin

    “As SGM Board Members and Officers, restrict use of email for sensitive and
    confidential communication. Consider what media should be used for communications
    when dealing with confidential information or dealing with sensitive matters.”

  • KAZ

    LCF #75 why do you continue to post anonymously and then make generalizations about how wrong it is that people post anonymously ? Your kinda confusing me becuase many of us use our real names or names that we are most reconized and some have even used pictures of themselves.
    SOOOO your slandering me for something I am NOT doing ??? I am actually offended you continue in these accusations bro 8O

  • Bridget

    LCF –

    That is quite a demand to “this blog and all others.” Your statement sounds like you are the holiness police. How do you have conversations with people you don’t know, who may or may not be believers? Do they all have to be filtered through your grid of cleansing before they can be heard? Do you even realize that several people who comment on this blog have walked away from God as a result of their experience with SGM churches?

    What do you think Jesus experienced walking the streets with his disciples and interacting with the people he encountered? What did those same people experience from the “holy men” of their day? This place is a walk down a street. You seem to think it is something else.

    Why did AoR expect hurt people, who have been trying to be heard for years, to come to them happy and without sin? These people came to them. Many had to muster much courage to speak again, or for the first time. Isn’t it concerning to them that people DO have these strong feelings? Wouldn’t you think that there is reason behind this besides they are bitter and in sin?

  • LCF-

    You know what I think a tragedy is….is when a child is raped and the very people you thought would be there to help you through times of trial, turn on you and your child.

    That is a tragedy….so save the Shakespeare act for another blog.

    I know you would like the blogs to go away, but they won’t. As long as you and your dear leaders ignore the cries of those you have abused, they will continue to exist.

    As for your comments, I don’t “reject them”….I just see you as brainwashed. Comment away all you like…but just because you think you are super right, doesn’t mean you are or that we have to be nice to you and your nuggets from SGM land.

    As for AOR, how can they possibly evaluate the blogs when they spent zero time interacting with us on the blogs?

  • JeffB

    There seems to be a blatant contradiction in the AOR report that may reveal bias.

    Concerning the adjudication of issues regarding Mahaney:

    “In its earliest conversations with AoR, the SGM Board asked AoR to adjudicate issues regarding the fitness of C.J. Mahaney for serving as president and/or chairman of the board. However, AoR declined to offer such services. AoR is not qualified as an outside organization for making such a final adjudication for SGM because we are not intimately familiar with your
    doctrine, practices, or polity. Although a team from AoR could study bylaws and other governing documents, the issues regarding the fitness of a leader to serve in leadership are also decided based on an organization’s specific doctrine and application of biblical teaching. Since AoR staff and conciliators are not intimately familiar with the specific doctrines and application of those teachings to such areas, AoR felt it should not be empowered to make decisions that
    must apply doctrine to practice in this critical area.”

    So AOR is not qualified “to adjudicate issues regarding Mahaney’s fitness to serve as president and/or chairman of the board” because “[it] is not intimately familiar with [SGM's]doctrine, practices, or polity.” Concerning doctrine, they “are not intimately familiar with the specific doctrines and application of those teachings to such areas [i.e. 'bylaws and other governing documents.']”

    And yet, later in the report, they have an entire section devoted to a doctrine:

    “Doctrine of Sin

    As we met with people, they often mentioned the Doctrine of Sin and described the impact on
    their personal and corporate lives. Obviously the organization’s teaching on the Doctrine of Sin
    plays an important role in the church’s preaching and practice as well as within small group ministries.
    Many described the extent at which small groups would hold one another accountable by scrutinizing each other’s lives according to the Doctrine of Sin. A number of people noted how this had helped them or others grow deeply in their understanding of Scripture and their personal faith.

    Some who were critical of SGM (including those still in SGM churches) described how small group leaders or pastors or SGM leaders worked to “drill down” (an actual quote) to the root causes of people’s sins. Some described being examined by their leader (in various levels) for several hours. Although seen as a blessing or strength by many, others saw an abusive side of
    the practice of this teaching when it had the affect of beating people down or unfairly scrutinizing them.”

    Though the effect of this doctrine is important to understanding SGM’s culture, why did they earlier say that they were not qualified to discuss doctrine?

    Further on, they use it to absolve Mahaney:

    “In our August 24, 2011 Consultation Report, we observed that SGM appears to not have a practice of declaring God’s grace to one another when sin is confessed. Since that time, our observation has been confirmed over and again as we met with individual members, pastors,and SGM leaders.

    We saw evidence that C.J. Mahaney’s preaching and teaching does proclaim God’s grace. When he began to sense that some in SGM were over-emphasizing the Doctrine or Sin at the expense of extending God’s grace, he warned against such behavior and urged leaders to balance the addressing of sin with God’s grace.”

    It goes on to say that “a number” of SGM pastors said that AOR’s teaching on the “the way” of “[proclaiming] God’s forgiveness in confession…was a new concept for them.” (This is disturbing in itself, and very revealing. I discussed some of this in an earlier comment.)

    Questions:

    Once again, why did the report discuss a subject on which it earlier said it was not qualified? Because it didn’t specifically concern “bylaws and other governing documents”?

    AOR said that its non-qualification to discuss doctrine was one of the reasons it could not “adjudicate issues regarding the fitness of C.J. Mahaney for serving as president and/or chairman of the board.” And yet it brought up a particular doctrine and cleared Mahaney of over-emphasizing it. Is that the truth? Didn’t he over-emphasize it for years?

    Why does the report only blame “some in SGM” (very vague) for over-emphasizing it and stress that Mahaney himself warned against it? And why doesn’t it say how long it took him to realize this?

    Re-reading the report, it seems to me that, despite some definitely wrong-headed statements, it’s more balanced than it seemed at first. But in this case it seems to contradict itself, and, in the process, favor Mahaney.

  • JeffB

    Sorry about the margin mess in some parts where I copied the report.

  • Unassimilated and JeffB –

    You guys both did a great job of highlighting reasons why this AoR report isn’t, as Persona said, “worth the (electronic) paper it’s printed on.”

    I’m still too blown away by the pages and pages harping on “the blogs” and sin and clenched fists and sinfulness and “the blogs” to think so clearly and analytically. I’m glad you both nailed it.

  • QE2

    Once again, we have “the sin of all sins” is gossip.

    The actual acts that provoke the gossip are not the problem, the gossip is. Weird.

    Hurt people need to repent of bitterness. Hey, the offenses took place a long time ago! Get with the program!

    (I believe Ken Sande called what seems to be AOR’s main thrust “peace faking”- no need for repenting of specific sins on the offender’s part)

  • QE2

    Why would anyone that has been hurt by anyone in SGM want to work with “reconciliation ministries”?

    That’s what they thought they were doing when they spoke to Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

    I am here to help with reconciliation. I am going to listen to you in a sympathetic way and give you hope.

    Then I am going to issue a report and say you are bitter and need to get over it. I am going to focus on gossip, not on what happened to you individually.

    I am going to recommend that you go to the person who offended you, because they don’t know they did something wrong. (Wait-you sent a letter or email each year for 20 years? The whole thing started when when you brought something to this person in the first place? Hmmm. I notice your fist is clenched. Let’s focus on that, shall we?)

    I fail to see how the whole process brought about group reconciliation.

  • Mary

    I thought it was interesting that the report put the existence of the blogs on SGM:

    –SGM and its churches have not developed structured ways for people to bring their concerns or complaints against their small group leaders or pastors, thus leaving people to find their own methods for doing so. (p.28)
    –In church discipline cases, there did not appear to us to be a defined process for people to appeal their cases, which led to people finding other ways to express their disagreement with the disciplinary actions taken against them. (p.28)

  • Somewhereintime

    So I’ve taken the time to go back and reread the AOR report … a few thoughts.

    1) I think AOR did justice looking at the entire situation and, from a completely outside perspective, did a good job analyzing the issues and gave great council on the issues at hand.

    2) We on the blogs DO sin A LOT … including myself in our speech and judgements … according to what the bible says as how we should relate to one another … even if the other side caused the issue or is ungodly, the Bible gives us direction on how to relate to brothers and sisters in the Lord that are sinning. I don’t think that we do that well (us bloggers).

    3) The leadership of SGM sins A LOT. They laid them out numerous times. I think we all know the issues there. AOR calls them to repentence. We’ll see if that REALLY happens. If not though, we individually are still called to love them and be of godly character … even if it kills us.

    4) The tone of the AOR report is one that shows that SGM, including members and past members, have been acting like a big bunch of spoiled children. I think I agree with that assessment. We ALL know the hurts that we’ve experienced … but where is the forgiveness and love that Jesus preached to us?

    5) I felt like I was reading the outtakes of a marriage counciler who is trying to help a failing marriage. SGM leadership (the husband) has been horrible to its wife and children (us). They need to change and we need to look at our own sin in the matter while loving them through the change. As hard as that would be, especially for a “husband” that has been cruel and unjust, we are still called to love, forgive and to help the sinner. We haven’t done that well.

    6) I am praying that SGM leadership lets the report sink in to each of them. I am praying that I can do the same and I encourage all of you likewise to look at the report without bias to your situation and ask the Holy Spirit to bring conviction for YOU and you alone.

    The report is a clear call for all of us to put down our fists … to repent … to forgive and to pray for each other. Even with the past hurts (I have MANY … and all of you do as well).

    This report is a call for us to do the hard work of being a REAL CHRISTIAN that would have the Lord one day say to us “Well done good and faithful servant”

    My prayers are for each of you and for the leaders and pastors of SGM. It’s time to “lay down arms” and to forgive.

  • freedom

    LCF wrote:

    I pray that all who comment and moderate will read and consider the findings of this objective group.

    Me:

    AoR is NOT an objective group.

    They were hired by SGM and SGM are the ones funding the work. Because of SGM they have been able to make payroll. Not objective at all.

    Additionally, they play the exact same game that SGM does, uses the same words. SGM and AoR are the game masters. The report proves that if you don’t play by their rules, you are written off and anything shared is not considered.

  • To add to what Mary said:

    –SGM and its churches have not developed structured ways for people to bring their concerns or complaints against their small group leaders or pastors, thus leaving people to find their own methods for doing so. (p.28)

    –In church discipline cases, there did not appear to us to be a defined process for people to appeal their cases, which led to people finding other ways to express their disagreement with the disciplinary actions taken against them. (p.28)

    It is interesting that AOR would be so critical of the blogs while at the same time indicating that there was no way to appeal or bring complaints. Wouldn’t it be common sense that a major reason for the blogs is these issues that AOR pointed out? It doesn’t seem like AOR even sees a connection between what they point out as lacking and the blogs.

    As I recall Jim started SGM Refuge at least in part due to his experience with his local SGM Church and the leader(s) refusing to even use the Peacemaker process that the group had taught and promoted.

    It is baffling that AOR is not acknowledging at least a cause and affect. That is maybe a big reason the blogs exist is due to the issues AOR pointed out. Why throw stones at the blogs when this is a cause and effect?

  • Jimmy

    I was impressed by SOMEWHEREINTIME’s post. Very thoughtful, very balanced.

  • Mole

    My response to the A of R report and SGM is the same as Samuel’s was to Saul, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” 1 Sam. 15:14

    Brothers and sisters,
    The A of R report does not negate the fact that many people have been and are currently reeling from the affects of being subjected to the practices of SGM. There were many people who did not participate in the A of R process, who have their own horror stories, which were never told…. mainly out of fear. The lack of compassion and validation represented in their report does not minimize the reality of harm done by SGM.

    A of R’s report was primarily academic. It was not compassionate. They have primarily chastised the abused rather than the abusers. Their report has demonstrated a very superficial understanding of the deep seeded problems represented in those hurt by SGM over the course of 3 decades. It is important for those who hoped their suffering would be validated and the truth of what happened to them vindicated, to remember this report does not and should not define your reality. What happened to you is reality, and it is this reality you must now deal with, not the A of R report.

    Just this past Saturday, I spoke with the wife of an ex SGM pastor whose husband was abruptly fired/degifted several years ago. Needless to say, their family has been devastated. I will be meeting with them soon in an effort to make sense of what happened and help mend their lives. Since the launch of Symboulos Ministries I have been freshly exposed to the very real pain, suffering, and disillusionment in more people than I could imagine. I am much more affected by this reality than the A of R report.

    My advice to those who have unresolved issues with SGM is to adamantly resist the temptation to nurse hurt, pain, resentment, bitterness, and unforgiveness, but rather make every effort to resolve them. Seek out biblical counselors and wise discerning saints who can steer you out of these devilish traps. The worst thing you could do is to remain bitter, resentful, and angry. Doing this will lock you in the darkest prison of despair. I implore my brothers and sisters in Christ, to seek help in resolving these issues so you can glorify God, live free, and return to your first Love.

    We have fought a good fight, and that, for a just and noble cause. Now, the battlefield is strewn with many spiritual casualties. Perhaps it’s time to beat our swords into plowshares……. and tend to the hurting among us. Let’s return for the ones who need our help and give them the balm of Gilead.

    “For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart wounded;
    I mourn, and dismay has taken hold on me.
    Is there no balm in Gilead?
    Is there no physician there?
    Why then has the health of the daughter of my people
    not been restored?” Jeremiah 8: 21-22

    To that end I will be available to meet with those who would like help understanding and/or processing issues related to their experience with SGM, in an effort to promote resolution and healing. I will be in Fairfax on Friday, April 27th and Gaithersburg on Saturday, April 28th. If you are interested in meeting please fill out the Confidential Contact Form at our website (http://www.symboulosministries.org) and together we will coordinate a time and place to meet. I look forward to spending time with those for whom I have the deepest respect.
    May God pour out His grace upon us,
    Mole

  • A Kindred Spirit

    AoR doesn’t “get it.”

    Many of the RBD’s don’t “get it.”

    It’s spiritual warfare and Satan’s no dummy.

    But God wins EVERY time. Think back to all the “bad guys” through history. God IS in control. God in His Providence uses them all for His purposes. Sometimes the bad guys are “men of God,” like the Pharisees; sometimes they’re world leaders, like Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. SGM, their buddies, and those like them will soon discover that God is INDEED sovereign. God has said, “enough is enough,” and it really doesn’t matter what the AoR guys, the “8 guys” at T4G, or SGM say.

    God hears the cries of the oppressed. Those of us who have been trampled by such men can find comfort in the arms of Jesus. He understands our confusion, hurt, and pain. He’ll walk us through it, regardless of how long it takes, and eventually heal us.

    I find that for me, personally, God has used it to grow me spiritually and mentally; and to draw me closer to Him. For that, I’m grateful.

    For their sakes, I pray that they all eventually “get it” and repent.

  • Moniker

    AKS – Absolutely! This has been a year of growth and change for me in ways I never dreamed of. I am so enjoying my new-found freedom in Christ. I am so thankful for my heavenly Father’s care and love and direction. I am moving on with my life and very hopeful for the future. Goodbye, SGM; hello LIFE!

  • Muckraker

    Someone mentioned this yesterday, but I thought I should bring it up again:

    Why is the AoR report dated 4/10 when SGM clearly stated on the Plant & Build blog (3/23) that they would have a copy of the report in hand within 2 weeks (end of March?) and review it on a retreat starting on 4/9? :scratch

    “We met with Ted Kober of Ambassadors of Reconciliation and discussed his final report after eight months of study of our ministry practices.” (Inferring that this meeting occurred in Louisville during this SGM Board retreat. 4/10 is when T4G started.) from Plant & Build 4/14

    Was SGM allowed to review and critique, this report BEFORE it was finalized?

  • Muckraker

    About Confidentiality concerns on participating in the AoR Group Mediation, I find this rather disingenuous:

    AoR report p.5
    “Some were angry about a false assumption concerning the way that AoR would apply confidentiality to its interview process. Apparently on one of the blogs, someone falsely claimed that if a person met with a member if the AoR team, he or she would be prohibited from ever talking about that issue again to anyone anywhere.”

    From AoR Interview Agreement p. 2: http://www.hisaor.org/web-content/Images/ReconciliationInterviewAgr.pdf
    “We ask that you agree not to discuss our communication with people who do not have a necessary interest in the reconciliation process. By participating in this process, you agree to treat all dealings with us in regard to this dispute as settlement negotiations, which means they will be inadmissible in a court of law or for legal discovery.”

  • Mucraker

    I would add to what you said about confidentiality is that my understanding that most Peacemaker lead mediations are done under an agreement of confidentiality. Since AOR was at least somewhat modeled using the Peacemaker group’s guidelines I think it was fair for people to assume or at least think that any discussion would be then confidential with no right to disclose to others.

    I can see the need for confidentiality when the mediation is an offense between two people. The problem I have with confidentiality especially when it is a leader’s sin. Sometimes there is a good reason for others to know about things.

    In some ways getting into a reconciliation situation with a confidentiality agreement is a good strategic move for the offender since it insures a level of confidentiality imposed on who was sinned against.

    It is my understanding that this applied with the situation in Richmond Kingsway where Gene Emerson withheld the truth for a period of around 10 years.

  • relative

    I’m struck at the continued use of the phrase “independent third party” as a description of AoR.

    I wonder if Kris, or say a collective of the many hurt “bloggers,” had been the ones to initiate with and hire AoR, and financially sponsor the “report” – if that had been the case instead, how differently the report would have read. As a business, there is no way that AoR would produce a public report with so many broad repetitive criticisms of the very people paying their bill. Also interesting to think about whether any of the SGM leadership would have chosen to participate, or interact with the interviews with perfect biblical speech and attitudes if Kris had been the one to hire AoR.

    But in reality SGM had the upperhand in this situation as the ones holding the paycheck and AoR’s reputation and financial future (If AoR came down too hard on SGM, what other organization would ever want to hire them for this sort of thing in the future?) So alas, the weaker, hurting, littlest of these, were not the ones paying the bill and were therefore an easier target to deflect criticism onto.

    Independent third party…right.

  • Defended

    AKS – #99 —
    Amen!
    In 1977 I was at a national conference… (I know L. Tomczak was there, anyone else here?)
    The most memorable point (for me) in the whole week was when a man stood up in Arrowhead Stadium and declared “‘SEE ME!’ Saith the Lord”

    God is God. He alone is our focus, our strength, and our fortress.

    Thanks! Got my focus back on my Redeemer, my Hope.

  • Diego

    Many years ago there lived an emperor who loved beautiful new clothes so much that he spent all his money on being finely dressed. His only interest was in going to the theater or in riding about in his carriage where he could show off his new clothes. He had a different costume for every hour of the day. Indeed, where it was said of other kings that they were at court, it could only be said of him that he was in his dressing room!

    One day two swindlers came to the emperor’s city. They said that they were weavers, claiming that they knew how to make the finest cloth imaginable. Not only were the colors and the patterns extraordinarily beautiful, but in addition, this material had the amazing property that it was to be invisible to anyone who was incompetent or stupid.

    “It would be wonderful to have clothes made from that cloth,” thought the emperor. “Then I would know which of my men are unfit for their positions, and I’d also be able to tell clever people from stupid ones.” So he immediately gave the two swindlers a great sum of money to weave their cloth for him.

    They set up their looms and pretended to go to work, although there was nothing at all on the looms. They asked for the finest silk and the purest gold, all of which they hid away, continuing to work on the empty looms, often late into the night.

    “I would really like to know how they are coming with the cloth!” thought the emperor, but he was a bit uneasy when he recalled that anyone who was unfit for his position or stupid would not be able to see the material. Of course, he himself had nothing to fear, but still he decided to send someone else to see how the work was progressing.

    “I’ll send my honest old minister to the weavers,” thought the emperor. He’s the best one to see how the material is coming. He is very sensible, and no one is more worthy of his position than he.

    So the good old minister went into the hall where the two swindlers sat working at their empty looms. “Goodness!” thought the old minister, opening his eyes wide. “I cannot see a thing!” But he did not say so.

    The two swindlers invited him to step closer, asking him if it wasn’t a beautiful design and if the colors weren’t magnificent. They pointed to the empty loom, and the poor old minister opened his eyes wider and wider. He still could see nothing, for nothing was there. “Gracious” he thought. “Is it possible that I am stupid? I have never thought so. Am I unfit for my position? No one must know this. No, it will never do for me to say that I was unable to see the material.”

    “You aren’t saying anything!” said one of the weavers.

    “Oh, it is magnificent! The very best!” said the old minister, peering through his glasses. “This pattern and these colors! Yes, I’ll tell the emperor that I am very satisfied with it!”

    “That makes us happy!” said the two weavers, and they called the colors and the unusual pattern by name. The old minister listened closely so that he would be able say the same things when he reported back to the emperor, and that is exactly what he did.

    The swindlers now asked for more money, more silk, and more gold, all of which they hid away. Then they continued to weave away as before on the empty looms.

    The emperor sent other officials as well to observe the weavers’ progress. They too were startled when they saw nothing, and they too reported back to him how wonderful the material was, advising him to have it made into clothes that he could wear in a grand procession. The entire city was alive in praise of the cloth. “Magnifique! Nysseligt! Excellent!” they said, in all languages. The emperor awarded the swindlers with medals of honor, bestowing on each of them the title Lord Weaver.

    The swindlers stayed up the entire night before the procession was to take place, burning more than sixteen candles. Everyone could see that they were in a great rush to finish the emperor’s new clothes. They pretended to take the material from the looms. They cut in the air with large scissors. They sewed with needles but without any thread. Finally they announced, “Behold! The clothes are finished!”

    The emperor came to them with his most distinguished cavaliers. The two swindlers raised their arms as though they were holding something and said, “Just look at these trousers! Here is the jacket! This is the cloak!” and so forth. “They are as light as spider webs! You might think that you didn’t have a thing on, but that is the good thing about them.”

    “Yes,” said the cavaliers, but they couldn’t see a thing, for nothing was there.

    “Would his imperial majesty, if it please his grace, kindly remove his clothes.” said the swindlers. “Then we will fit you with the new ones, here in front of the large mirror.”

    The emperor took off all his clothes, and the swindlers pretended to dress him, piece by piece, with the new ones that were to be fitted. They took hold of his waist and pretended to tie something about him. It was the train. Then the emperor turned and looked into the mirror.

    “Goodness, they suit you well! What a wonderful fit!” they all said. “What a pattern! What colors! Such luxurious clothes!”

    “The canopy to be carried above your majesty awaits outside,” said the grandmaster of ceremonies.

    “Yes, I am ready!” said the emperor. “Don’t they fit well?” He turned once again toward the mirror, because it had to appear as though he were admiring himself in all his glory.

    The chamberlains who were to carry the train held their hands just above the floor as if they were picking up the train. As they walked they pretended to hold the train high, for they could not let anyone notice that they could see nothing.

    The emperor walked beneath the beautiful canopy in the procession, and all the people in the street and in their windows said, “Goodness, the emperor’s new clothes are incomparable! What a beautiful train on his jacket. What a perfect fit!” No one wanted it to be noticed that he could see nothing, for then it would be said that he was unfit for his position or that he was stupid. None of the emperor’s clothes had ever before received such praise.

    “But he doesn’t have anything on!” said a small child.

    “Good Lord, let us hear the voice of an innocent child!” said the father, and whispered to another what the child had said.

    “A small child said that he doesn’t have anything on!”

    Finally everyone was saying, “He doesn’t have anything on!”

    The emperor shuddered, for he knew that they were right, but he thought, “The procession must go on!” He carried himself even more proudly, and the chamberlains walked along behind carrying the train that wasn’t there.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Some reported that AoR “wept” when they heard their stories.

    I can’t get that out of my head.

  • Bridget

    I believe that this quote from the AoR report is CRITICAL as they, themselves, point out:

    “In its earliest conversations with AoR, the SGM Board asked AoR to adjudicate issues regarding the fitness of C.J. Mahaney for serving as president and/or chairman of the board. However, AoR declined to offer such services. AoR is not qualified as an outside organization for making such a final adjudication for SGM because we are not intimately familiar with your doctrine, practices, or polity. Although a team from AoR could study bylaws and other governing documents, the issues regarding the fitness of a leader to serve in leadership are also decided based on an organization’s specific doctrine and application of biblical teaching. Since AoR staff and conciliators are not intimately familiar with the specific doctrines and application of those teachings to such areas, AoR felt it should not be empowered to make decisions that must apply doctrine to practice in this critical area.”

    Especially this point:

    “Since AoR staff and conciliators are not intimately familiar with the specific doctrines and application of those teachings to such areas, AoR felt it should not be empowered to make decisions that must apply doctrine to practice in this CRITICAL AREA.” (Actually, though they have been trying to help, they may not have been qualified to do anything to help because of this.)

    What are SGM’s doctrines? The Family (this sounds nice, but ?) of Churches known as SGM has been in existence for over thirty years, yet their doctrines are unclear, their doctrines are not communicated to their “family,” and their doctrines have changed in big and little ways over those 30 years by simply starting to teach different beliefs, passing out books for people to read, or by one man saying “I am seeing things differently” or “I can change my mind quickly.”

    Does anyone find this absurd?

    The men leading this Family of Churches want people to follow them. Yet, these men are asking this “Family of Churches” to follow them in what to what? It is amazing that we can find ourselves belonging to “something” but we don’t know what the “something” really is. We can end up trusting these men because they are on a stage with other men, yet the reality of what is happening in individual churches with individual people is something quite different.

    The comment by AoR above should give rise to critical thinking in every member of every church in the SGM “Family of Churches.”

    I also believe the this comment:

    “and the application of those teachings (that change, are explained and, in some cases, don’t even exist) to such areas”

    . . . is a big part of the reason why members and past members are so upset and why AoR doesn’t grasp the whole picture. How can people from within a highly organized denomination understand what it has been like for the members who have been hurt by this particular “Family of Churches?”

    Organization by itself won’t fix it.

    Just knowing “what” the doctrines are would at least help people decide if they still want to be a part of this family of churches/denomination.

    Yes, we do need to forgive, we should conduct ourselves in scriptureal ways. But that does not mean we should automatically agree with the doctrines(?/) of this Family of Churches.

  • Bridget

    sorry about the typos above

    and this should read (that change, are “not” explained and . . .)

  • Stunned

    Just wanted to remind ya’ll that Jesus loves you. God is still on His throne and He CARES for you and every minute of your life is important.

    There is this one scripture that I think is so incredibly awesome. It says that God keeps our tears, every last one of ‘em in a jar. He remembers every one you’ve ever wept and every circumstance, happy and sad, that produced them. He does not discount our pain or say, “It’s in the past.” He walks through it with us, even the past stuff. He IS there for us and cares for us.

    He hasn’t forgotten you. He won’t ever forget you.

  • exCLCer

    #91 “peacefaking”…….lol. Now thats good….could be called “cheesemaking”, because the recommendations to adopt their program on a regular basis will, I suspect bring in some very good cheddar for AOR.

    Nothing in this “report” surprised me. Of course I never did accept that AOR was any kind of legitimate authority capable of being objective or reasonable in regards to the actions of SGM and co. so I wasn’t expecting much. I was a bit surprised to see that an organization that claims to have been so successful in these types of endeavors barely scratched the surface of one half of one percent of the population involved, and then felt confident in making such strong observations based on such a tiny cross section of interviewees.
    Seems it was all more of a survey to find out how large the “hurt, gossiping, sinful, slanderous” group really is, identify the ones willing to be vocal, and ascertain what if any kind of threat they pose to the continuation of SGM’s practices. Even if that wasn’t their sole intention, it served to do just that for SGM, giving them the ammunition to just assume the people affected are a small, sinful, group of bitter people who will not force them to make any real changes.
    SGM nation, open your pocketbooks and wallets and be ready to buy all the newly required reading material from the cheesemakers, I mean peacemakers, available at the book table after Sundays sermon.

  • So AOR apparently have absolutely no experience with or understanding of cults. That much is clear. I can see why SGM chose them, they are very fond of highlighting the sin of the offended party (or victim) and went out of their way to applaud SGM on many points. They seem impressed with SGM and quite happy to boil down the problems to ” half a percent” of people, so obviously not a big deal. They fail to understand that people who are still involved in a cult will have nothing but nice things to say about their leaders! I’m not saying they’re a bad organization or even not good at their job in a normal situation, so these are just my general observations. I’m just going to assume they have not been trained to deal with cults and excult members and leave it at that… For those of you who shared your experiences with AOR personally, I’m sorry that AOR weren’t more discerning. Don’t give in to the temptation to feel once again that you’re crazy! Move forward and may God bless you and turn everything you’ve been through for your good.

  • Persona

    ‘We saw evidence that C.J. Mahaney’s preaching and teaching does proclaim God’s grace. When he began to sense that some in SGM were over-emphasizing the Doctrine or Sin at the expense of extending God’s grace, he warned against such behavior and urged leaders to balance the addressing of sin with God’s grace.”’

    I wonder who gave Ted copies of CJ’s past teachings? How would
    he know if CJ taught on grace to ‘balance’ his teachings on sin? Perhaps Ted was influenced by the excuses CJ’s gave at the 2011 Pastor’s Conference? Or, maybe Ted just sifted through the files and listened to all of CJ’s sermons?

    And, who in SGM, primarily overemphasized the doctrine of sin? From everything I saw, CJ led the crusade. He had every opportunity to put on the brakes but, I never saw him do it.

    This report seems to create more questions than answers.

    I don’t even think SGM diehards are too pleased with the document. It might be embarrassing to them. For whatever reason, very few of them have posted news of it on their FB or Twitter accounts. It could be they just want to put this whole era behind them as they pack for Louisville.

  • Stunned

    julie, you’ve been on my mind lately. i hope you’re well. good to “see” you.

  • Hi Stunned! I’m doing great these days and it’s great to ‘see’ you too. Thanks for thinking of me, hope you’re doing well too.

  • Dan2

    bottom line –

    1. The “blogs” are now permanently mentioned on the AoR record for all to see. This will lead many others to check out these blogs rather than keep people away from them. Sure SGM is not happy about that.
    2. Even if it was a light weight hand slap, the report does highlight significant failures of SGM that would embarrass any church or organization. The whole missing “grace” (even though it is in their name) is particularly embarrassing for a group that claims to be so gospel centered.
    3. Mole is very wise and a voice that should be heard (#98).

  • Stunned

    Good to hear you’re well, julie!

  • Just one more thought…the report is dripping with insidious condemnation of any and all who have participated in saying anything negative about SGM. While it’s obvious to all of us that things have been said here and elsewhere by hurting people that are angry, bitter, and speculative I think AOR has dumped an undeserved amount of guilt and condemnation the offended parties. And in any case, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, even those who have started blogs and read them and commented on them hehe. Hope none of you are succumbing to the guilt manipulation here, it’s yet another attempt by leaders, albeit not directly SGM leaders, to control you. Throw off the condemnation and embrace freedom and joy and the gift of righteousness. Praying for you Kris and others who have been targeted…I guess we have all been targeted, anyone who has ever criticized SGM! Just know that this condemnation doesn’t come from Jesus and if you’re feeling bad it’s not ‘conviction’ but accusation. Pretty blatant accusation actually so don’t be fooled. If you do have unresolved bitterness/unforgiveness then by all means let God free you from it but guilt/shame is not the answer, in fact guilt/shame/condemnation is the ministry of death Jesus came to abolish once and for all.

  • I did see this in the report:

    10. Look for ways to reinforce proper use of authority at every level. Leaders at every level in SGM have significant authority over others in submission to them. While this in itself is not a problem, the misuse of authority (such as pressuring others in ungodly ways) is a temptation common to man. Provide checks and balances to minimize the temptation of pride among those in authority. Develop a godly way for those under authority to respectively disagree with those in authority or to appeal unfair treatment.

    It was good that AOR at least pointed this out though I didn’t really see them indicating this was a problem or examples of this happening. We have said for a long time on the blog that there are little checks and balances within SGM especially the higher you go up. With C.J. Mahaney there are few check/balances and hence some call him the group’s “pope.”

    We have also said that disagreement is barely tolerated and SGM is at times a “submissive pyramid” where people get promoted based on how submissive they are to those above them. Maybe this will motivate SGM to change their culture that sees any questioning as almost rebellion to authority.

  • Ellie

    If you do have unresolved bitterness/unforgiveness then by all means let God free you from it but guilt/shame is not the answer, in fact guilt/shame/condemnation is the ministry of death Jesus came to abolish once and for all.

    :clap :clap :clap

    Good post, Julie!

  • Julie said:

    Just one more thought…the report is dripping with insidious condemnation of any and all who have participated in saying anything negative about SGM. While it’s obvious to all of us that things have been said here and elsewhere by hurting people that are angry, bitter, and speculative I think AOR has dumped an undeserved amount of guilt and condemnation the offended parties.

    I really why people here would be angry and bitter. I wouldn’t expect say a wife who found out her husband was having an affair to be upset or struggle with bitterness. ;-)

    It sure sounds like AOR was expecting people that were hurt and abused to be perfect when those who dealt out the hurt and abuse certainly weren’t perfect.

  • Here’s a succinct way to put what I see as AoR’s biggest assumption:

    The only people who might have legitimate complains against SGM are those who express those complaints in what AoR would define as a “godly” fashion. Those who do not communicate in a manner AoR deems “godly” – i.e. those who might have had clenched fists, visible residual anger, an unpleasant tone of voice – have nothing of value to say and (most importantly) deserve no recourse.

    For instance, in AoR’s thinking, a blog cannot communicate valid truths unless it is moderated by a “professional” who can keep commenters from sinning.

    Unbelievable.

    It makes me wonder, who is the “professional” who helped the AoR folks to write their report without sinning?

  • To add to what I just said (#121)I have heard various pastors explain how God was patient with Israel for a season after they came out of Egypt. He knew that various emotions had built up inside the Israelis when they were in Egypt.

    Maybe AOR should remember that lesson to help them understand how people could have emotions they are still dealing with about they experienced in SGM.

  • Beautiful Lies

    Julie –

    Do you really think SGM is a cult? Not criticizing as I’m with ya, but just trying to understand. You were pretty involved, as we recall. Care group leaders?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Kris said,

    For instance, in AoR’s thinking, a blog cannot communicate valid truths unless it is moderated by a “professional” who can keep commenters from sinning.

    When I read this, I thought how it really does fit perfectly with their whole gamut of thought, how no ‘mere Christian’ could possibly follow God on his own, without being ‘led’ by some ‘Holy Man’. If you dont take a stronger hand with your rod and staff, we will just wander ourselves off into the land of sin, and the others will simply follow. Like no one has the ability for critical thinking, and hearing from God, choosing to follow Him.

    I get lost in the Doctrine arguments, but, is that the ‘side’ SGM follows-that the are ‘chosen’, we do not choose, so of course we would need someone to keep us from wandering off? I am not trying to start a debate-just thinking and wondering.. :scratch

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Kris, that comment about being a “professional moderator” really stuck in my craw, too. They have NO IDEA who they’re dealing with. :wink:

    I guess I was shocked at just how much AoR sounded like SGM.

  • Confused Occasional Reader

    Persona-

    Perhaps pro-SGMers (especially SGM staff that attends CLC) aren’t posting this to their twitter and Facebook pages because this is a report that deals with a specific group of people, not the internet world. Perhaps they aren’t posting because Covenant Life came out of the report with a big black eye and they are using discretion. Or perhaps they aren’t posting because they are actually putting AoR’s speech recommendations into practice. Who knows?

    I am a member of CLC and curious about a different question. I wonder why CLC hasn’t posted the full AoR report to our family blog yet? As much as the CLC pastors have kept talking about this report to us, with a desire to fully disclose its findings to our congregation, you would have thought it would be posted by now. I guess it didn’t quite come out the way they hoped and maybe they are taking time to write a response to it when they post?

    It will be very interesting to see how our pastors respond to this report. It has been quite clear that our pastors have been moving us away from SGM at a rapid pace over the last 9-10 months, and a lot of their decisions about staying with SGM/funding for SGM was contingent on this report.

    I would be interested to hear other CLCers input on how they believe our pastors will respond to it. Do you think our pastors will heed the observations by apologizing to CJ and our congregation for the way family meetings were held? This is a very interesting time for our church, and our pastor’s response to this report will probably determine the trajectory of our partnership with SGM for the future.

  • SamMcGee

    @Confused Occasional Reader,

    Just one point here, SGM left CLC. CLC did not leave SGM.

    CJ walked out of his “confession” and never looked back. He went to TN with the family for three weeks and when he got back, began implementing the plan he had formulated. It started with the SILS leaving. There were rumors last August that CJ was moving. As most know, his house is on the market. The Kauflin house went up and sold in two days. The Ricucci house is also up – the realtor site indicates it entered the database last August. Word is the Purswell’s will be on the market soon.

    Many CJ supporters have already left and gone to Solid Rock. SGM is planning their move away from CLC/MD to either Louisville or Charlotte.

    There is a lot more that will come out but at the end of the day, let’s be clear. SGM broke the relationship. Not CLC.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I had stopper reading the report half way through because I found ti inaccurate and irritating, but now my curiosity is peaked. They said CLC should apologize to CJ?? CLC ‘has a black eye” from this report?? Boy, are we on the whole other side of things! :spin

  • Confused Occasional Reader

    Sam-

    Not quite the answer I was looking for. I presume you are a CLC member too. Clearly, the relationship goes both ways. You are grossly oversimplying by saying that SGM broke the relationship because of the reasons you stated. There has been a drift away from each other ever since CJ went downstairs. Bottom line, we are still an SGM church, and our pastors need to determine whether we will continue to be one.

    I had no desire to rehash an old post on here, but I have witnessed first-hand as SGM staff and their families have been shunned by our church. Every response I heard when I originally posted on here had something along the lines of, “well they deserved it for all the shunning they’ve done over the years.”

    All that to say, relationship is a 2 way street and our pastors have been intentional in what they have said, and not said that has been clear that their desires are to move away from SGM unless SGM undergoes “serious reform.” Meantime, it has left our congregation as a hotbed for suspicion of SGM guilt unless proven otherwise, and not the most conducive for SGMers to worship without distraction. I completely understand why those people would have left our church…after 30 years of ministry together, I would be hurt too if my pastors were not publicly supporting me unless proven otherwise.

    Nevertheless (to get back on track), our pastors have continually pointed to this report as playing a major role in that decision (particularly financial partnership), so I merely brought up my interest in how they will respond.

  • JeffB

    Some have mentioned the report’s confusing statements about Doctrine.

    FWIW, I have a long comment about this (#88). In a nutshell: The can’t “adjudicate” Mahaney’s fitness for ministry because they are not “intimately familiar” with SGM’s doctrines, among other things. Yet later they have a section concerning SGM’s Doctrine Of Sin. They make some perceptive remarks about its abuses, but then quickly absolve Mahaney from having any part of it: Lesser beings misunderstood him.

    So, 1) They can’t talk about Mahaney’s ministry fitness because they don’t know SGM’s doctrines. 2) They discuss SGM’s Doctrine Of Sin, which they don’t know. 3) They say Mahaney had nothing to do with it because he taught grace.

    I revised the comment somewhat and sent it to AOR because I thought what they wrote about doctrine was contradictory and showed evident bias toward Mahaney. If I get a response, I’ll report back.

  • JeffB –

    I puzzled over that contradiction, too. I’ll be interested to hear if you get a response.

  • MAK

    Dear confused…the members of CLC have been under a gag order for 30 years. After July ,they let people speak freely about their thoughts and feelings and it was labeled as gossip and slander. So now it is confirmed by AOR that letting members speak their hurts and frustrations is gossip and slander. I went to all of the members meetings and I didn’t hear any gossip and slander. So now we should go back to the gag order? I perceive you haven’t been a member of CLC for too long. You have no idea how deep this stuff really runs…how could you? All I can say is that after the first members meeting, CJ turn his back on CLC and never looked back. He had no regard for the leaders/friends that have been by his side for 30+ years. The members who faithfully supported him were disregarded and labeled as gossips and slanderers. Is this the mark of a Godly leader? Not one that I want to follow. I have been at CLC for 28 years. Sadly, I now regret this.

  • MAK

    I found recommendation #11 interesting “As SGM Board Members and Officers, restrict use of email for sensitive and confidential communication”. Yes, don’t leave an audit trail in case you try to blackmail another one of your comrads. This whole mess wouldn’t have been necessary if there wasn’t so much documentation!! A corporation’s emails and IMs are recorded so why would a christian organization who are so sinless that they never slander anyone need to avoid documentation. Our lives are an open book before God.

  • MAK

    The Sunday the CLC pastors apologize to CJ will be my last. I will terminate my membership immediately. If this occurs, they will have lost all integrity.

  • MAK

    Since the “evil blogs” were such a big part of the AOR report, the scripture that came to mind was Acts 5:41. “Then they (the apostles) left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name”.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Jim, the mod at SGMRefuge, posted this over there. I don’t want it to be missed:

    Jim says:
    April 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm
    We all obviously have a million thoughts, now that the report is out. I agree with much of what has been said, even by those who disagree with each other.

    Ted is clearly offended by “the blogs”. As the founder and host of one of “at least two blogs which provide venues for people to vent their frustrations and concerns regarding SGM” (how does one vent a concern?), why did he not vent his concerns with me when we spoke?

    Since he called me, he had my phone number. Why no call before he released a public report trashing us? Is this not a peacemaker principle? Why was there no response to my email last month, where I was once again trying to gather data to defend his ministry?

    Why was Ted’s blog rant so one sided? I not only defended AoR here, but posted on survivors when I saw an inaccuracy about AoR.

    Did Ted follow the principles of his own ministry in this report in regards to “the blogs”?

    No, he did not. He’s clearly offended and thus incapable of rendering an unbiased opinion regarding what we do here.

    Take some time off, Ted. Give me a call, if you like.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    How ironic that AOR cares so much about a blog being moderated by “professional”, yet did their report address the fact that CJ doesn’t have a “professional” degree either……..

  • MAK

    5yrs…thanks for reposting. I saw that and thought it was good. The AOR report contained more finger pointing than peacemaking. Maybe Mr. Tober should avail himself of his own teaching.

  • Valley Boy

    This is AoR’s (and CJ’s) view of things:

    We saw evidence that C.J. Mahaney’s preaching and teaching does proclaim God’s grace. When he began to sense that some in SGM were over-emphasizing the Doctrine or Sin at the expense of extending God’s grace, he warned against such behavior and urged leaders to balance the addressing of sin with God’s grace.

    This is my view on it as someone who lived thru it:

    After 5 years (or more) of emphasizing the doctrine of sin (i.e. its all about your sin), one message on “grace” during a Sunday meeting could hardly be called “balance”.

    You cannot undo a culture that took years to create in a day.

  • MAK

    Valley Boy…yes, and where did they get that information? Did CJ send out letters to all SGM pastors? Where’s the documentation for that? Did the SGM board just tell AOR this and they accepted it as fact?

  • MaryMelissa

    MAK
    Do you actually believe that CLC pastors could or would apologize to CJ/SGM? I cannot think that they could go that low. That would prove that they don’t care for the congregation and they are in the church for power and their own reputation and they stand for lies rather than the love and truth that Jesus taught. What a shame to call themselves Christians would that be.
    I sure hope that they NOW are ready to break away from SGM and go independent. What a blessing that would be not only for CLC members now but for the many that God will add to the congregation. I just wish that the SGM followers that are still members of CLC, take a hike and go follow their cult leader. Those SGM employees and CLC members need some mind cleansing from all the error that were taught.

  • MAK

    mm…i certainly hope not but I won’t believe anything for sure until it is announced that CLC is leaving SGM. CLC has not cared about the congregation for 30 years and is still very entrenched in the SGM mindset (that’s all they’ve every known). God’s will be done!!

  • katie

    I’m confused why they were hired to decide on whether or not CJ was fit to be in ministry, just to have them say they weren’t qualified… what was the point of all this?

  • Defender

    “what was the point of all this?”

    Either a “fishing expedition,” (Looking for names of the disenfranchised,) or it was a Lucy & the football game.
    The bloggers came running to kick it, and, well….. you know.

  • Praise Warrior

    SOOOO…SGM hires AOR to shoot the messengers instead of carefully considering their messages? Nice. We feel the love. So warm and welcoming in an attempted rescue effort. Newsflash: bloggers are alive and well and deeply in love with Jesus. We wish you the best in your efforts to clean house, SGM. We are not given to sarcasm, but we are EXASPERATED!

    Please consider that AOR’s statement on percentages is inappropriate at best. Last time we looked, Jesus left the 99 to go after the 1. Maybe a different context of salvation history, but definitely the context of shepherds and sheep. We hope you are not counting our children. Did you count all of the pastors and their wives and families who have sadly left your ranks?

    We don’t hate you, SGM, we hope and pray for the best for you all. Many of us privately and publicly invested loads of time and money to partner with you in the mission, so we do believe that public accountability is warranted. You have not listened well.

    Our take with the AOR report: listen well to the corrections that have been suggested. It would seem that some of this report is just you shooting yourselves in the foot but there are some redemptive suggestions.

    Perhaps a few questions remain to be answered? What about Larry Tomczak? Have you followed through on your part of making things right with Brent Detwiler and honoring him for his years of service to you? What of your move?

    Your “strength in extra-local ministry” was in your ties to a local church – CLC. You preached ad infinitum about the local church and warned us against the dangers of para-church mentality. Isn’t para-church what you have become? Your conferences used to exist to bring local churches together so that our members could be “devoted to the apostles teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” Might they now just be platforms for human personalities?

    Several have said this report reads like a marriage gone bad. We agree.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Another general comment—–the AoR report to me is like the Saducees reviewing the Pharisees and saying that they are pretty much fine. Thanks guys.

  • katie

    Yellow- hahaha very nice.

    Does it actually say in there somewhere that CLC should apologize to CJ? I skimmed most of it but don’t remember seeing that part.

  • Wow

    I seem alone in my satisfaction with the AoR. They have made it their mission to bring reconciliation, and didn’t give SGM the desired endorsement of CJ’s leadership, which I’m sure SGM expected. They also observed very much of what has been said on here, and found it to be valid.

    I was glad, for example, that when they observed the knee-jerk reaction that came with their confidentiality clause, that they dug deeper to learn how that term had been used to keep people quiet in situations of wrongful discipline, and how it had been only the objects of discipline who’d been forced to keep mum while those slinging the whip had been vocal and public.

    They also agreed that the handling of sexual/physical abuse situations had been mishandled and that SGM needed to have persons with extensive training in the area help with this issue.

    They observed with 20/20 vision SGM’s emphasis on sin to the neglect of the living out of the message of grace and forgiveness, which they also mentioned was preached from the pulpit but neglected in individual ministry. And the humility observation was almost humorous.

    I would observe that in an online community, we really do not know who is posting (even whether they actually did attend a member church), whether or not they may be skewed in their interpretation of events, and so forth. We do know that many of the stories of victims on here are backed up by witnesses in their church, and that many of us have had similar experiences.

    Surely none of us would claim that we know for sure everything on this blog is accurately conveyed. This is perhaps what AoR is getting at in that it isn’t the best way to resolve conflict. However, it is due to the treatment received by person’s on here in trying to reach out to leadership that people ended up leaving and happening upon one another here. Definitely, it SGM doesn’t like the blogs (and it does NOT), they need to learn how to respect members and not assume they are always right. They also need to apologize where they have done wrong.

    Lastly, I was very happy that AoR recognized the inconsistencies with which both pastors and members had been treated and how there need to be standards in place which apply to everyone where sin/discipline take place.

    If we expected anything different than an attempt to describe what would be required for reconciliation to take place, then we’d be guilty of ignoring the name of the ministry. We ourselves are in no bondage either to reconcile or not. However, I appreciated that this outside ministry did observe many of the things we have experienced at the hands of SGM.

  • Persona

    MAK 135

    I hate to say it but, Joshua already apologized to CJ in a sense, when he told the congregation that he had ‘gotten some things wrong’ in holding open-mic family meetings after CJ left. And, he repented for it by only entertaining smaller coffee-times, with selected questions on the table from then on. I thought Joshua should not have apologized back then and, I still do. It is the reason we left CLC when we did. I could see the writing on the wall.

    Josh and the other pastors also say they want to continue their partnership with SGM in sharing, such as evangelistic initiatives, like the North Africa church plant.

    In addition, Joshua and other CLC pastors attended T4G. They didn’t have to attend it or, praise the teachers or, say how much they valued the teachings and the RBDs.

    Though it is unlikely that all CLC pastors are on the exact same page, none of them look like they are leaning strongly against SGM. Even the act of withholding money from SGM until they published the AoR report, was not a very aggressive move on their part. They may be offended that CJ left them to clean-up his mess, but, I don’t think anyone can assume they no longer desire to be part of SGM.

    But, I guess we will all find out soon enough.

  • MAK said:

    I found recommendation #11 interesting “As SGM Board Members and Officers, restrict use of email for sensitive and confidential communication”. Yes, don’t leave an audit trail in case you try to blackmail another one of your comrads. This whole mess wouldn’t have been necessary if there wasn’t so much documentation!! A corporation’s emails and IMs are recorded so why would a christian organization who are so sinless that they never slander anyone need to avoid documentation. Our lives are an open book before God.

    That was my thought. One could almost read into that AOR was saying that SGM was dumb to use email since it allowed them to get caught. Find another way where things aren’t recorded or can’t be stored by someone so you don’t get caught next time. It could be AOR saying I know you at SGM are going to do questionable activities but when you do don’t leave a paper trail.

  • BeenThere

    I believe I qualify as an independent 3rd party observer. I’ve posted that I went through my own issues of spiritual abuse over 10 years ago and have learned a lot through the healing process that followed. I was involved in counseling for several years both as a on a ministry team in a local church and in the secular world. I’d like to give you my take on this report and, I’ll break it up into two posts.

    My first take on things is with the overall tone of the report and the perspective from which it was written. When I first started reading here and heard of the impending investigation and report from AoR I remarked that no matter how fair or reputable they might be, in the end they worked for the ministry that originally reached out to them, and they were always going to slant in that direction. The question was how much slant were you going to get. It appears you got a very heavy slant toward SGM, and a rebuke to those who would disagree. You should understand that in a situation like this when you attack your detractors (in this case the blogs) you are trying to accomplish two things. You’re trying to discredit what they have said, and you’re trying to head off and blunt the criticism they’re going to give you for the report you’re releasing now.

    I really feel for those who put some measure of hope in this report to give them any kind of validation and support for what they went through. That was never going to happen. I found out over a long process of years that you only get validation and support from Jesus, and it begins to happen when you stop looking to man for those things. Maybe the release of this report will be what some need to take the next step and realize there’s not going to be this giant epiphany where SGM finally gets it or someone from the outside makes them get it.

    If we were all being really honest we would admit that we only got into these kind of ministries or stayed there for as long as we did because we preferred a man-made system of performance rather than relying on the grace of God through relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. This was one of the very first things I had to repent of before my healing process began.

  • BeenThere

    I’d also like to give you my take on why this report turned out the way it did. The simple answer as to why it says what it says is that it was commissioned by SGM, and it was always going to slant in their favor with a minimum amount of correction. It appears that what little correction there was this was placed in the context that the problems were already in the process of being corrected by SGM. But I think there’s more to it than that.

    One of the things I have noticed is that a lot of posters here seem to feel that SGM is the center of the spiritual abuse universe, and it can’t be widespread anywhere else, and if it does exist in other places it can’t be nearly as bad. I’m not sure what fuels this, but it is very off. It is widespread and has been widespread for a very long time across all boundaries, denominations, and groups of Christianity. If AoR or anyone else called out the core problems of SGM in a very significant way they would have to indict a large segment of organized Christianity. Lots of churches are built on a system of legalism where they keep their members focused on their sin and point them toward the church authority figures as a major part of the answer. Churches are portrayed as hospitals and doctor’s offices. We constantly tell you what is wrong with you, and then we tell you that you have to come to us for the cure. Pointing people completely toward Christ and His Grace is dangerous and risks losing control over a congregation. In my opinion this is the next major breakthrough that is coming to Christianity. Members are going to want to get out of these legalist systems and get into grace.

    I think what many of you wanted was for AoR to completely tear the lid off of things and expose all of the problems that come with a Top-Down system of authority that seeks to maintain control through a heavy-handed, sin-conscious, and manipulative approach. That would be great, but NO ONE is going to do that right now, and it was unrealistic to expect AoR to do it. That kind of breakthrough is not going to come from the top down. It is going to come from the bottom up with indidivdual Christians voting with their feet.

    What I really think we’re missing is that it isn’t SGM or people like them that have the power. It is WE, the body of Christ that has the power to decide where we go and what we support and don’t support. It isn’t AoR that has the power to issue a report on what is valid or not valid and how Christianity should be practiced and conducted, but it is the Word of God that is the final report on ALL THINGS! If you want to read a report that validates and brings healing then get into God’s Word.

    Hebrews 4:12 AMP

    12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Been There;
    I second your comment. It seems to me that a lot of the abused looked at SGM as kind of a “Golden Calf”, worshipping or looking to something that did not deserve such admiration. Of course it was all with the encouragement and prodding of SGM itself in it’s drive for self agrandisement. You last paragraph says it all. It’s not the system that counts, it’s the one who made our salvation and reconciliation with God the Father possible; Jesus Christ. Anything or anybody that attempts to take the place of Him as the center of our attention should immediately be cast aside as false and satanic. SGM without doubt fits that category.
    :beat

  • ATC

    Had a lot of notes as I read but I’ll spare you! Just one thought I want to share:

    1) No. 3 on page 8 – AoR’s utter incredulity that people were angry/furious/outraged or whatever about the need to attend one of their Bible teaching sessions shows to me a lack of understanding of what spiritual abuse entails. Many of my friends aren’t even going to a local congregation at the moment because of the heavy shepherding they’ve endured in a church. The last thing they’d want to go to is a Bible teaching session from someone they don’t know which is specifically aimed at issues surrounding their hurt. People don’t want to risk coming ‘under’ a real person preaching/teaching at/to them. Not for a while in my experience.

    AoR says it was unique to this case. I wonder if they’ve ever handled pastoral/leader/elder authoritarian abuse cases before and are used to just resolving good old personal conflicts? This is the same with the description of people on page 18. Such behaviour should cause us all to weep and see not only the evidence of their wrath, bitterness, rage, etc, but evidence of something that has gone seriously wrong to take them to that place: and that wrong has happened in a place which should be full of grace, love and truth (the Church with a capital ‘C’).

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • ATC

    OK, read the report, took my notes, and posted my ONE mail about it (above) – but had to say:

    El Pastor, No 32 – EXACTLY!
    :goodpost

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • PhillyInDC

    Official announcement on the SGM Blog about them moving to Kentucky!

  • Muckraker

    The SGM Plant & Build blog now has 2 more posts since the AoR report was released, a few more posts and the report will be off the main blog page. They seem to be trying to sweep it away into the archives quickly! :huh

    http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/default.aspx

    Hey, SGM, you OWE it to your church members (and the ex ones) who have sacrificially financed you for the past 30 years to keep this report front and center on your website longer than a few days!

  • Mr Stretch

    It’s pretty obvious SGM wants the report gone ASAP. I’m sure they had this planned from the beginning. As I have said before most in SGM have no clue whats going on. I doubt most churches will make known there was a report. If they do they will D**n the blogs. The faster the report is off the main page the faster things will get back to “normal”.

  • sick with worry

    Where is Brent? Been a while since a post.

  • Muckraker

    Because we met with such a small percentage of member (less than ½ of 1%), our observations may not accurately reflect the entire association of churches.

    I live in a town of approx. 28,000 adult drivers. If it was discovered that 140 drivers (.5% of the driving population) were stopped and detained falsely by the police or given illicit tickets — I’m sure that, not only on a local level, but the national media would be doing exposes’ on the serious pattern of police misconduct and harassment!

    AoR how can you be so dismissive about this percentage of SGM victims?? Why can’t you draw conclusions about the system-wide patterns within SGM from this sampling?

  • Muckraker

    Mr. Stretch @158 Yep. I just wanted to document that duplicitous move on their part. :(

  • CLCya

    AKS – #107 I, too, had heard that AoR people wept when they heard the stories of abuse. It doesn’t seem to be reflected in the report at all. I am disgusted by that, not surprised (although I was hoping), just disgusted.

  • Lots of great observations…

    MAK said,

    I found recommendation #11 interesting “As SGM Board Members and Officers, restrict use of email for sensitive and confidential communication”. Yes, don’t leave an audit trail in case you try to blackmail another one of your comrads. This whole mess wouldn’t have been necessary if there wasn’t so much documentation!! A corporation’s emails and IMs are recorded so why would a christian organization who are so sinless that they never slander anyone need to avoid documentation. Our lives are an open book before God.

    I had the same thought.

    I find AoR’s rationale for eschewing email and doing all their communications by phone completely lame. I already know of at least one situation where there have been conflicting accounts of who said what in an AoR-to-victim phone conversation. Such a misunderstanding would never have arisen if either party could go back and examine a written record, such as what would be provided with email. (Frankly, if I ever dealt with someone who was so obsessed with getting me on the horn and avoiding written communications, I’d go to Radio Shack and get me one of those handy-dandy phone recorders before I talked with them…but that’s just me.)

    MAK is right, the only thing that could be behind such an admonition to quit sending emails and instead have meetings or talk on the phone is the idea that it’s better to avoid any hard-and-fast proof of what was said. From such high and mighty sin-sniffers, I would have expected more of an awareness of how ridiculous it sounds to be so concerned about a paper trail.

  • facedown2000

    FWIW, I think some of the criticism of the blogs is warranted. As defender pointed out early on, there are statements here that all of us would like to remove. There have been some egregious things said on the internet — look no further than Brent’s “Hardball” post, which even Kris decided not to reproduce in full on this site. Compromise and reconciliation is costly for everyone involved, so I’m okay with admitting a sinful interest in details I really don’t need to know. At the same time, I support the idea of public criticism and discourse as a means of holding people accountable to Christian standards. It’s a delicate balance, and I know I can do better. But under no circumstances does the Bible say I can sin in response to someone else’s sin.

    And, according to the AOR Report the unerring Word of God, I am forgiven for all my sins, here and everywhere else. :-) (That is to say, let’s not take ourselves too seriously.)

    Personally, I think it’s embarrassing for SGM that CJ will now be leading a church. In my mind, he will never qualify as “above reproach” again. But I’m also at peace with the fact that it’s not my decision and that God is not mocked. Time will tell; I have the luxury that none of this really affects me directly anymore.

    I am curious if anyone is planning to post the CLC response to the move to Kentucky.

  • CLCya said,

    I, too, had heard that AoR people wept when they heard the stories of abuse. It doesn’t seem to be reflected in the report at all. I am disgusted by that, not surprised (although I was hoping), just disgusted.

    I don’t have time right now to go back and find the actual quote, but in the segment of AoR’s report where they talked about the services they provided to SGM, I noticed that they said something about how their representatives had (loose quote) “listened compassionately” (or some such) to those with grievances.

    When I read that, what instantly came to mind was custom in Jesus’ day of hiring mourners to come over and wail and cry when there was a death in the family.

  • CLCya

    OK, I just read the announcement on the SGM blog about moving headquarters. Don’t know how to block quote, sorry about that.

    “Basing Sovereign Grace Music out of Louisville places Bob Kauflin’s team much closer to Nashville, where they can both learn from and help influence other spheres of Christian music development.”

    “Influence” other spheres? That word, “influence”, doesn’t sit well with me. Why do they want to “influence” other spheres of Christian music development?

    “The Leadership Team has wanted to plant a church in Louisville near the seminary for several years, and after speaking at a college event there in February 2011 C.J. began to consider leading the plant himself. He made this desire known to us when we were seated as a Board, and we approved the plant this month. Although this was by no means determinative for the Pastors College, this does mean that students will have the opportunity to participate in a church plant led by C.J. This will both facilitate CJ.’s ongoing influence in the college, as well as provide students a smaller church experience that will more resemble their ultimate ministry context.”

    There’s that word, “influence”, again! What’s up with that?

    I just looked up the word “influence” in the dictionary. Here’s the definition: exertion of spiritual power or moral persuasion; power of affecting others through the use of authority…; a person or thing that exerts force by intangible means…

    Here’s what I think. They are still puffed up with pride and believe they have so much to offer others. This whole process hasn’t humbled them in the least. Ugh

  • Mr Stretch

    CLC ya 167 spot on. I don’t think SGM has learned anything. They all just want us to go away. They want things to get back to “normal”. I have no doubt this was planned from the beginning. Remember everything SGM is very calculated. SGM wants to quiet their folks as much as they possibly can. All of us who left are just evil, bitter, unsaved people. SGM just wants to keep the wheels spinning. This whole thing was just a bump in the road. They have so much control that the average member truely has no clue.

    Mr Stretch

  • I think what stinks about the AoR report is its total lack of balance when it came to anything having to do with “the blogs.” AoR was so careful to spend several pages affirming anything even remotely good about SGM…to the point where their recommendations for correction almost got lost in the SGM lovefest…yet their complete scorn for “the blogs” wasn’t even tempered by one little affirmation about the good that has been done here.

    I know AoR was hired by SGM, and I had pretty dim expectations from the get-go. I knew they’d be completely biased toward SGM. I also anticipated the pompously didactic, lecture-ish tone of the report. (The AoR guys’ writing style reminds me of an over-eager student who’s trying to gain brownie points with the teacher by being more teacherly than the teacher. :D ) But I didn’t anticipate literally dozens of negative references to “bloggers'” sinfulness…with ZERO affirmations about anything positive that “the blogs” have accomplished in terms of bringing SGM’s multitude of issues out into the open.

    I mean, quite literally, AoR would never have gotten this gig if it hadn’t been for “the blogs.”

    Considering how desperately they tried to affirm SGM, it would have been nice for them to throw us a bone or two here…

    That what has surprised me the most – that a supposedly “objective” (yeah, right) organization would write something so totally (and obliviously, it seems to me) one-sided.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Yeah, it really reflects badly on them.

    And I’m not saying that out of bias.

  • I searched for Larry Tomczak and found one paragraph on pages 16-17. Is that it? Is there some other document I am missing?

  • CLCya

    Kris #166 – Thanks for pointing that out. I was, however, hoping for that compassion to be reflected in the overall report, not in just a sentence or two. And like you said in #169, it’s unbalanced.

  • PhillyInDC

    I had a thought about the overall mentality of pastors. I don’t know if anyone watches the Biggest Loser (and if you do a spoiler from this past week’s episode). Five contestants threatened to quit because the game wasn’t “fair” – even though they signed contracts that had the rules clearly laid out. In the end after the show’s lawyers met with them individually, two decided to quit because the game wasn’t “fair” – the two who quit – Buddy Shuh (a pastor from Michigan) and Mark Cornelison (a pastor from Texas)

    So, these two guys had a chance to win 250,000 and were within 2 weeks of getting there, they quit because the game wasn’t “fair”. CJ is jumping ship to Kentucky, because he isn’t being treated fair. What is the deal with pastors crying and going home?

  • Mr Stretch

    I’m very disappointed in AoR. All the AoR report does is keep th SGM machine running as is.

  • Epaphras

    The hostility towards the blogs remains utterly intense by SGM leadership. First, blogs epitomize the loss of control which they both fear and, probably sincerely, believe is thoroughly unscriptural. Second, they permit unauthorized people (‘moderators’) to exercise authority, including … women. See point 1 again.

    Considering that this blog and SGMRefuge have been far more of a force on behalf of true reconciliation than anything ever initiated by SGM (the AOR report included), the attacks on blogs by AOR/SGM make a kind of sense. Bad sense ….

    The primary (biblical) fallacy is that the sheep, including pastors btw, have liberty to speak freely and frankly to one another without having to raise their hands for formal permission. Self-evidently, this can be abused online- or off-, but that is apples-and-oranges to the vital principle of honest fellowship.

    A gray area exists with respect to certain types of communication in public which might better be reserved for those who share the same world view (e.g., the household of faith). Even here, though, non believers have forever been more impacted by open, transparent speech between God’s people than by phony, controlled, rhetorically-slick public speaking …. cf professional moderators for blogs. Messy, but transparent ‘real’ blogs have far greater influence for good in gospel work with a world that can smell ‘marketing’ a mile away than the packaged entertainment called ‘preaching’ at so many churches and conferences.

    Besides, folks experienced online (young people especially) are surprisingly able to accept, cope with and ‘forgive’ the roughness-at-the-edges of online communication without swallowing whole either a blanket affirmation or confirmation of their content. For instance, they routinely ‘test’ everything posted by knowledge, experience, give-and-take, etc. The word for that is ‘discernment’ which this blog (and its readers as co-participants) have exercised at least as well as have most churches I have seen over the past forty years, often better.

    (As an example, the informal vetting of a poster like LCF has nothing to do with ‘attack’ as a surface (mis)understanding would suggest, but with an ultimately positive weighing of a person’s character through their words and responses. Heck, how else could a blog negotiate the fine line between contributors and trolls without such ad hoc, yet surprisingly formal, methods? The subtle reputation differences gained by known vs anonymous posters represents still another powerful ‘category’, hehe, for blogging communities.)

  • Uriah

    The following comments by BeenThere are very insightful and hopefully, provoking….

    Been There #152 – “If we were all being really honest we would admit that we only got into these kind of ministries or stayed there for as long as we did because we preferred a man-made system of performance rather than relying on the grace of God through relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. This was one of the very first things I had to repent of before my healing process began.”

    This, indeed is the first step to healing…. turning from a man-centered Christianity to a Christianity rooted in Jesus as your first love.

    and… #153 – “Pointing people completely toward Christ and His Grace is dangerous and risks losing control over a congregation. In my opinion this is the next major breakthrough that is coming to Christianity. Members are going to want to get out of these legalist systems and get into grace.”

    Pointing people to Christ = SGM losing control. Folks, this single idea is what has permeated SGM’s culture from the onset. Maintaining CONTROL is what SGM will do until it’s dying breath. The sad and most frustrating thing about this is the members of SGM churches have been so indoctrinated into this skewed value system, they do not see the perversion of it. This is scary. ie. CJ is the chairman of the new polity commitee :scratch

    and finally BeenThere observes the following ….”I think what many of you wanted was for AoR to completely tear the lid off of things and expose all of the problems that come with a Top-Down system of authority that seeks to maintain control through a heavy-handed, sin-conscious, and manipulative approach. That would be great, but NO ONE is going to do that right now, and it was unrealistic to expect AoR to do it. That kind of breakthrough is not going to come from the top down. It is going to come from the bottom up with individual Christians voting with their feet.”

    IT IS GOING TO COME FROM THE BOTTOM UP… and this is true, because this is what is reflected in the bible, authority emanates and is authorized from the people (the collective members of a local church). SGM members have allowed themselves to be duped into accepting an unbiblical and irresponsible polity, and they have been deceived in doing so, and therefore will not act on what BeenThere has so wisely noted. They are stuck and paralyzed by their deception… until God opens their eyes.
    Let me just go on record as saying, SGM is a bonafide cult, not because of their theology but because of how they apply their understanding of their theology. The proof of this is there are countless X-SGM members who have been devastated by being subjected to the SGM monster. A Of R, SGM leaders and members continue to minimize or deny this but it is very true. When they do this they are like those who adamantly believe the Holocaust never happened. Folks, the Holocaust DID happen and to deny it is dangerously foolish. It is said, those who believe such nonsense are destined to relive the horrors of it. May God have mercy on you and open your eyes, before it’s too late.

  • Defended

    PW – #146 – :word

    Kinda leaves me thinking the question begs, WHAT would any church do with, or need SGM for, after all? WHY would any church need or want this group’s input with such a mixed bag of faulty theology being promoted as an example to follow?

    Why not just cut loose and seek the Lord as Jesus commands? There’s no “family of churches” in the NT!

  • SamMcGee

    FYI. As of April 4, 2012, CJ has a twitter account at @CJMahaney. Looks like they must have announced it at T4G because he already has over 11,000 followers.

  • exCLCer

    I mean, quite literally, AoR would never have gotten this gig if it hadn’t been for “the blogs.”

    So true. A little appreciation for the assistance they got would have been nice……..

  • KAZ

    Kinda had a crazy thought this morning :spin
    Wouldn’t it be awesome if every SGM church printed out the AOR doc and gave it to ALL their members and asked them to spend every caregroup for the next month discussing it :lol:
    Fantasy I know but I like thinking big sometimes :D

  • Whirlwind

    @MAK, #135: “The Sunday the CLC pastors apologize to CJ will be my last. I will terminate my membership immediately. If this occurs, they will have lost all integrity.”

    MAK, how would you respond if they said, “While we still believe CJ’s public confession was necessary and appropriate, we should have publicly expressed God’s forgiveness to CJ after his confession. We publicly apologize for this and want to communicate to everyone that God has forgiven CJ. We regret having contributed in any way to pushing CJ away from CLC, but even under those circumstances we believe he should have stayed and resolved issues with the elders here rather than moved to another church. As elders we’re especially called to work out conflict within the local church context and CJ chose not to do that, going directly against past SGM teaching and practice in regard to pastoral conflict within the local church.”

    Would that satisfy you?

  • Mr Stretch

    KAZ Never gonna happen. SGM will never tell members who they really are.

  • MAK

    Whirlwind…your post is reasonable…keep in mind that at the pastor’s conference CJ (in some words) took back his confession. I feel convicted that I should not pick apart his confession…so yes, if the CLC pastors would make a statement, something like yours would be acceptable.

    But the point really is why did AOR single out this instance with CJ? Why hasn’t the SGM leadership expressed any contrition for all that they’ve done? (Loftness for covering up sexual abuse cases, CJ’s blackmail, etc). Why didn’t AOR exhort SGM to ask for forgiveness to all parties wronged…even down to individual members?? How come only CLC got their hand slapped on this one?

  • MAK

    Also, the Relocation of SGM post on the SGM website also announces the Louisville church plant led by none other than the man himself……CJ!!!!!!!!!!!!! :clap :clap

  • SamMcGee

    Here is some context for CJ’s confession at CLC. I know of a CLC pastor who spent an hour or so going through a copy of CJ’s remarks making comments and suggesting corrections. When he submitted his work, he was told “Nobody edits CJ”. Not exactly the picture of a humble confession.

    I was at that confession. The congregation was not told beforehand that CJ would be speaking. We were a captive audience. The only option would have been to get up and leave. There was no opportunity for anyone in the congregation to address CJ. We were told that when he finished speaking, it was agreed that Carolyn and he would leave. He had a personal body guard as if we were a threat. I took several pages of notes, which I still have.

    For the first ten minutes he talked about everyone but himself. The congregation, the pastors, Brent. He criticized Brent and then said he was not here to criticize Brent right after doing so. He tried to give his side of the story but provided no detail or any evidence to support his position. Any confession was totally vague. Near the end, he actually starting teaching us. When he finished, there was a smattering of applause (maybe 3 people). One guy yelled out “We love you, CJ”. Other than it was dead silence in a full auditorium. He left, humiliated and never looked back. As far as I could tell, the congregation was pretty much in shock. I don’t think I was alone sitting there thinking, “What the heck was that?”.

    I know that after that night, CJ was asked on numerous occasions to come back and meet with CLC members. He was begged to come back and talk and be reconciled. He refused every invitation. There was some discussion that he would come back but he would only agree to do so if he was allowed to preach a farewell message, which would mean that no one could engage him ijn conversation. The CLC pastors declined.

    So, to answer your question, Whirlwind, given the context of CJ’s non-confession confession, I think any apology by the CLC pastors or congregation would be totally inappropriate and unnecessary.

  • Patti

    Been There said,
    “If we were all being really honest we would admit that we only got into these kind of ministries or stayed there for as long as we did because we preferred a man-made system of performance rather than relying on the grace of God through relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. This was one of the very first things I had to repent of before my healing process began.

    I just want to say to those who were raised in SGM who had no choice where you learned about God and the church, and were too young to know what was man made, that you have a choice now. Examine your parent’s religion.
    And if you haven’t yet read the testimonies that the report says shouldn’t be on blogs, read them, decide for yourself! Cults gain strength through generations because the children won’t question the fathers. There are scriptures where God’s people actually confess the sins of their fathers.

    To Kris and other blog hosts? This scripture comes to mind for you.

    Gal 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

    Gal 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

  • Persona

    McGee 178

    Regarding the twitter feed with CJ’s name on it but, not many actual posts by Mahaney: I love that Eric Grover left this quote for CJ to read:

    “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?” – Richard Baxter

    Great job, Eric.

  • Henry

    I must admit I am seriously embarrassed by Sovereign Grace Ministries board’s post regarding their move to Louisville. Do they really expect members of churches to believe that THEY decided it at a RECENT retreat. Surely that is yet another outright lie? Couldn’t the board just say something like, ‘at the suggestion and prompting of our President de-facto, we submitted and agree with all the plans he’s been hatching for a number of years.’ The trail is a long one.
    The donations to Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville over a number of years, all the way down to his family and friends leaving Covenant Life Church because Mahaney couldn’t have his own way and would not face godly accountability. There is now something deeply corrupt about Sovereign Grace Ministries as an organisation.It must be opposed whilst protecting the saints. I am now praying for its demise as an organisation and that all the churches survive the trauma.

  • SamMcGee

    Persona

    That is a great quote.

    It appears that CJ has entered a new phase in his twitter life. He has 44 tweets since April 4. So, if anyone wants to communicate with him, @CJMahaney is available.

    I thought it might be helpful to retweet his tweets with the following tinyurl http://tinyurl.com/bt3vlcf :D

  • Stunned

    Patti, rock on with yo bad self! (That would mean, “Amen!” in Christianese.) There are MANY reasons people entered and stayed in SGM. A mass condemnation of all is not OK. It’s one thing if a person knows why they stayed in SGM, but that doesn’t mean it applies to others. It may. It may not. But certainly just because God convicts you of one thing, doesn’t mean that your heart is the same as others. Whoever said so, please reconsider.

  • Jon

    This is probably the best and most succinct description of what has been wrong with the likes of the Big Dogs and AOR:

    “They seem far more concerned about the sinfulness of those who have been hurt by SGM than the fact that an organization has managed to create a culture where those hurts can take place and fester without any recourse until “the blogs” came along.”

  • Bridget

    Sam @185

    Thanks for that explanation. I had asked earlier what opportunity existed for response to CJ. It appears CJ didn’t leave room for any. It also appears like no one at CLC knew what he was going to say or do. Did AoR even take any of this into consideration, or the fact that CJ refused to go back? The information seems one-sided.

  • Bridget

    Henry @188 –

    I agree with you.

    When leaders have a low view of the saints, then yes, they think the members are stupid and don’t know what has been going on for years and can’t see that the statement is a blatant lie.

  • Uriah

    “The person who understands the evil in his own heart is the only
    person who is useful, fruitful, and solid in his beliefs and
    obedience. Others only delude themselves and thus upset families,
    CHURCHES, and all other relationships. In their self-pride and
    judgement of others, they show great inconsistency.”
    -John Owen

  • MAK

    Uriah… :goodpost

  • Persona

    Regarding official announcement of the relocation of SGM:

    I wonder where CJ plans to relocate when he finds the heat turned up on him by students of the SBTS? It is only a matter of time that the good folks of Louisville discover the truth about SGM. Some SGM members have shown themselves to be adept at keeping their blinders on but, Southern Baptists have a long history of open debate.

    CJ might be able to hide for a while behind Harvey, Purswell and Loftness but, as soon as he plants a church, he will quickly become fodder for controversy. His brand of heavy-handed control will be on display and I don’t think the Baptist will be as kind to him as we have been.

  • CLCya

    This is a little off the current conversation, but Uriah’s comment (#176) about SGM being a bonafide cult reminded me of this program. Anybody watch “I Escaped a Cult” on NatGeo? It was very interesting indeed. There was a story a woman told of being instructed to discipline her children in a harsh way. She said something deep down told her that this form of training was wrong, but she did it anyway. Her kids were young, about toddler age. She and her husband finally decided to leave the cult, their friends, their way of life. It was very difficult, but they knew they HAD to leave. Of course, I was thinking of SGM/CLC as I was watching the program. It definitely isn’t easy to leave, but it has to be done for the sake of our own health and our families’ health (spiritual AND physical). Also, it’s a process, not a quick one either, but a long one. I’m still in the process myself, even though I’ve been out almost eight months. In fact, I’ve got a long way to go.

  • CLCya-

    At least you know you were in a cult. It took me years before I could admit that I had been duped. That I had been a member of cult.

    But SGM is a cult! And the process of exiting a cult like SGM, is slow and painful…

  • Friendly Observer

    I’ve been reading and following, but quietly because of having nothing helpful (new, original, clever, etc.) to say. As some may remember, I said months ago that I was never a victim (therefore, not a survivor), nor part of either “side” of the issues. But because I had/have friends and relatives (some by marriage) spread around in some half-dozen or so SGM churches (and some have suffered very much in different ways from bad theology, polity, and pastoring), I wanted to learn if what I saw happening among friends and family members fit any sort of pattern nationally. (It did and does, though thankfully, for people I know and love, not in the area of sexual abuse.) I have mourned with victims here whom I don’t know and never will know. But as a father and grandfather, I believe I have cared deeply.

    As for the AoR guys, it’s ironic to me that they are Lutheran and especially ironic that they came down (predictably, by the way) against the blogs and bloggers.

    Wasn’t Luther an early blogger? Sure, he preceded the electronic age by a few hundred years, but he could well have been “MLuther@cathedraldoor.com” right? Didn’t his initial blog entry (granted, his “Send” button was a hammer and some tacks) start a ruckus? Didn’t “Leo@vatican.org” have serious issues with this blogging upstart? Had he been immediately “repentant” and silenced, there would have been no denomination bearing his name. :scratch

    AoR has done nothing more (or less) than they were hired to do. Some here may be too young to remember Watergate, but the anonymous tipster for the WashPo journalists said, “Follow the money.” AoR had no chance to earn any fees from the blogosphere. Whatever anyone thinks of the SGM leadership, they shopped well and got what they paid for. Good stewardship, eh?

    Someone said he/she is praying for the demise of SGM. Sorry. Ain’t gonna happen. So far as I know the New Testament, the early church was never instructed to pray for the fall of Rome. Indeed, one of Paul’s strongest exhortations (1 Tim. 2) was to pray for those in authority. It isn’t necessary to pray against darkness. One merely turns on the light, and darkness is no more in the same room. In this case, “darkness” is relative, and I use the light-darkness analogy merely to illustrate a point. I hope we can all remain balanced. Some of those participating here do need healing, of course, and closure — and I pray it will come swiftly and deeply. Others have already been able to press onward and upward, still seeking God, still loving and serving Jesus Christ, shining your light in every place you see darkness.

    Leave the rest with God, I beg you. “Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice, who ruled them while He dwelt below” (from “Be Still, My Soul”). Hear our Lord say, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you. . .”

  • Stunned

    “MLuther@cathedraldoor.com”- hee hee hee- awesome

  • Beautiful Lies (re: #124) Yes I consider SGM a cult. This is based on the culture of control they have set up through both teaching and the way they treat people. As I’ve said many many times, we were never mistreated the way many have been, but the doctrine is abusive. When we look back at how we thought and behaved, we definately acted like we were part of a cult. We were brainwashed, and not in a good way. The fruit in our lives from wholeheartedly believing and supporting (worshipping?) our leaders was very very bad. It was purely God’s grace that got us out before our family was completely destroyed. Legalism is no small matter, neither is manipulation/control whether it is subtle or more obvious.

    I know many are not comfortable with labelling SGM a cult and I understand that, I used to feel the same way. I think the word “cult” is rather broad and allows for more extreme versions (which are usually smaller scale) and more ‘acceptable’ versions that are much more deceptive.

  • Freedom

    CLCya – I expect to see SGM as one of the cults on that show someday. I came to the conclusion that SGM is a cult right before I left.

  • Tom

    $10 says there will be a forthcoming name change.

  • Muckraker

    F.O. @199 Brilliant! :D

    “MLuther@cathedraldoor.com” right? Didn’t his initial blog entry (granted, his “Send” button was a hammer and some tacks) start a ruckus?

  • BeenThere

    I agree with the sentiment that we’ve been soooo brainwashed as the Body of Christ when it comes to how we’re suppose to approach leadership. We’ve been led to believe that leadership or anyone calling themselves by a Biblical title is due almost unquestioned loyalty and the extreme benefit of the doubt. We’re taught that anytime there is a conflict with leadership we should assume the conflict is due to our sinful and rebellious hearts. In our history as Americans, the original colonists faced a similar dilemma as they struggled with the mandate from Romans 13 which paraphrased says that we are to be subject to governing authorities, and they who resist the authority resist God. But the colonists read further and saw that the description of this governing authority was one that “rewarded good and was a terror to bad.” They believed the British Government had ceased to function in this manner toward the colonists and therefore their resistance was justified. The motto often heard at that time was “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God!”

    Yes we are to be subject to spiritual authority, but how does the Bible describe this spiritual authority?

    1 Peter 5:1-4 AMP
    1 I WARN and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honor and splendor) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded):
    2 Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully;
    3 Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation).
    4 And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the conqueror’s crown of glory.

    When elders cease to act in a Biblical fashion then they cease to be Biblical elders.

    As I was driving to work I heard a familiar cliche’ about how we should be respectful and submissive to spiritual authority. I got to thinking, “What made these guys a spiritual authority in the first place?” No doubt a lot started as small fellowships in homes or community centers. A group of people recognized a particular gifting and calling. The spiritual leadership of that group came about by the consent of the people there. Or if an elder came into an existing church then in most cases they would have to be voted in so again it is the people that recognize and consent to be spiritually governed. In America of all places we should recognize the concept of the “consent of the governed” but yet we seem to think that spiritual authority operates more like a king in the middle ages under the doctrine of the “divine right of kings” which cannot be questioned and must be submitted to for life.

    We’ve gotten it so wrong…

  • WHO

    So, what is the total cost for this reconciliation/non-reconciliation event?

  • Muckraker

    BeenThere @205

    America of all places we should recognize the concept of the “consent of the governed” but yet we seem to think that spiritual authority operates more like a king in the middle ages under the doctrine of the “divine right of kings” which cannot be questioned and must be submitted to for life.

    We’ve gotten it so wrong…

    THIS is so true!

  • randall slack

    “A few former leaders described being pressured to read public confessions that they said they did not fully agree with. And yet they read them in order to be restored.”

    Why would anyone in their right mind stand in front of a congregation and confess to something they did not do? Because they had been conditioned to do so.

    “There is no doubt in our minds at AoR that a number of people have experienced deep hurts and disappointments in SGM churches. The passage of time does not invalidate these hurts. We encourage the leaders of SGM to acknowledge these hurts and past offenses, express sorrow for them, and explain how leadership has and is responding to overcome past weaknesses.
    At the same time, we are also aware that many thousands of people have been and continue to be richly blessed by their involvement in a SGM church, and there is much evidence to indicate that there are many leaders and churches that provide loving, caring, and encouraging support and teaching.”

    So, your saying that the ends justify the means? Never.

  • Persona

    Henry 188:

    “I must admit I am seriously embarrassed by Sovereign Grace Ministries board’s post regarding their move to Louisville. Do they really expect members of churches to believe that THEY decided it at a RECENT retreat. Surely that is yet another outright lie?”

    I find John and CJ’s web of lies very embarrassing, too; not new, but embarrassing none the less.

    Even twenty-something SGM-raised children know that Mr. Loftness is straight-out lying or mixing truth with lies in this missive. One of them told me just that today after reading a copy of it online. Apparently it is making the rounds among their friends.

    If SGM thinks they are fooling anyone but themselves, they are wrong. And, they are certainly not endearing themselves to the next generation posting outright fabrications or rewriting history.

    SGM will not escape the steady gaze of a growing number of bloggers, by fleeing to Louisville, KY. This is a new age. Truth-speaking blog posts will be a thorn in CJ’s side until he repents or retires, whichever comes first.

  • I really wonder how much SGM will save by moving to KY as they claim is why they decided to move there.

    Didn’t SGM buy houses that they use for Pastors’ College students to use while in Gaithersburg? If that is the case, wouldn’t their costs now be fairly low?

    As others have pointed out, it sounds like a fabrication to claim the move was to save on cost.

  • Lee

    Interesting discussion going on over at Team Pyro about whether or not multi site churches are biblical.

    Anyways, one guy says this and it’s a perfect description of CJ Mahaney. Of course if you were to say so they’d give you the boot.

    Remember, you have to account for the fact that some pastors may see themselves as more of a “mouthpiece” (see MacDonald quote earlier) than a shepherd. I’ve yet to find the Biblical reference for the establishment of the church office of “mouthpiece”. If you’ve reduced yourself to the role of “mouthpiece” (and presumably CEO), then you can safely say “It doesn’t matter where I am”. Just like attending a business meeting via skype.

  • Defender

    I’ll save ‘em some money.
    Tell ‘em to go enroll at SBTS!
    Al would just love C.J. even more!

    (Perhaps that’s already in the works?)

    Who knows? :wink:

  • Stunned

    Oh, if I were a betting woman (and I can’t even handle a nickle slot), I would put down some MAJOR coin that not only is rusty in the works, Defender, but has been for QUITE some time.

  • Stunned

    Hate spell check some days.

    Forget rusty and put in.. Not only is it already in the works…

  • Defender

    Oh yah.
    You can bet on that sister!
    (I’ll loan you a nickle.)

  • Epaphras

    @BeenThere … yes, so true. Interestingly, Catholicism then viewed the ‘classic’ Reformed doctrines on the priesthood of believers as having led to the disaster of the American democratic republic.

    Let’s shift gears slightly: there is an authoritarian lawlessness that cloaks itself under law, order and authority, while using propaganda and intimidation to suppress the ‘sheep’. Scripture gives this very much inspired ink, both in the O.T and N.T., focusing on the spiritual warfare against God’s people, but also among the nations.

    Intriguingly, this kind of lawlessness will apparently be a special characteristic of the final days of the age. Can any believer claim ignorance that such lawlessness is overspreading the earth in nearly every sphere of life? It will not corrupt those who belong to Him, but it will apparently be a very close call ;-).

    (N.B. I make no claim whatsoever of dating or timing; am only noting biblical patterns working themselves out in our days. May God in His mercy lengthen the days of His patience for salvation by years, decades or centuries, if it pleases Him, intervening by unexpected revivals spurred by authentic repentance – within the churches first, as always.)

  • Oswald

    They could maybe save a lot of money by doing PC online as many schools do these days. The students could stay home and still have a real job, attend their home churches. What they would miss is the mentoring/quidance, kept busy, being ‘trained’ to be loyal leaders of a flock. This reeks of cultish activity. Just a thought.

  • Defender

    Spell check is that “friend” that occasionally stabs you in the back.

    (I wasn’t sure who rusty was, but I got the gist of your comment anyhow.)

    :wink:

  • Stunned

    Oswald, that is a very good idea. Out would allow the students to continue in their relationships and save a great deal of money in not needing to move, etc.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    In light of how AoR says that SGM needs to be careful about excessive use of email, isn’t it ironic that CJ is has a twitter account?

    Persona——-I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that CLC doesn’t really seem too bothered by SGM. There was a recent post on the CLC blog (I think it was about a financial committee that just–within the past month—decided to withhold funding to SGM) and every time a member would say anything less than shining about SGM, a CLC pastor would then comment and warn against “besmirching” the character of SGM, because they are our dear “brothers” in the Lord, blah-dee-blah BLAH! All they were doing was defending SGM. I kept thinking, “Hey, whose side is CLC on anyway?”

    But, as much as CLC pastors can Blow Snow, I have to hand it to them for using a word like “besmirch”. I can’t besmirch them for that.

  • justawife

    Yellow#220: Don’t you think that the effort of the pastors to warn members against besmirching our “brothers” has less to do with defending SGM and more to do with protecting themselves from getting into significant trouble with CJ and company? Because we know when you don’t agree with CJ he has a way of making your life pretty miserable (e.g. Larry Tomczak, Brent Detwiler).

    While CLC is intentionally trying to not take sides, by not accepting everything that SGM does “graciously” they are inadvertently siding against SGM in a passive-aggressive manner. Many of the big SGM affiliated families and friends of CJ have already left or are planning on leaving CLC, especially in light of the decision to withhold funding. Kauflin and the Cooks have now left in addition to other CJ supporters and/or relatives (with the exception of Grant Layman). As I note more pro-SGM folks leave CLC, I think the pastors are growing bolder in being open regarding criticism of SGM. Of course they always seem to whitewash all criticism as “mere disagreement” when in reality most of us know this isn’t the case. Josh, judging from last Sunday’s sermon, is visibly troubled and hurt by the actions of CJ and others affiliated with him. They have essentially abandoned him by not making an effort to work things out and simply fleeing with nary a word. I don’t know about you but I think Josh is starting to get the picture of who CJ really is behind all his “humble” talk of being “the worst sinner he knows”.

    While CLC may not seem bothered by SGM the congregants sure were bothered and the continuation of fund giving to SGM. That is why CLC had to cease this. I’d be surprised after this report if SGM ever gets anymore money from CLC and expect a split from SGM to be in the works in the near future.

  • Contentious Jones

    This is Josh Harris and his fellow CLC leaders’ moment of truth.

    Will they make a clean PUBLIC break with CeeJay, his deluded SGM minions, and their shared 30+ years of bad behavior, or will they wimp out?

    Will Josh and company PUBLICLY ask for forgiveness for their involvement in this mess, or will they continue to make vague and wishy-washy statements?

    What are they gonna use to build their ministry, jewels or hay?

    “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1 Cor 3:10-15

  • Oswald

    Yellow #220 — Advising people to do the right thing and NOT sin is hardly defending SGM. One need not act sinfully in order to show which ‘side’ they’re on. Doing the right thing is always the best choice to make.
    Your post indicates a misunderstanding and is the sort of thing AoR has against bloggers.
    Doing the right thing is always the best choice to make. God help us to do so.

  • Fried Fish

    General items of note:
    The report was addressed to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and signed “Respectfully submitted by your servants in Christ, leaders of your Ambassadors Team”. The AoR team was there to serve the Board, and they appear to have remained, first, true to their areas of expertise and second, within the scope of issues the board wanted them to address.

    As I believe has already been mentioned in various ways, their tone comes across as more analytical than critical, with one glaring exception – the blogs. Whoever wrote the comments about the blogs comes across as quite angry.

    They do make some very good points about godly behavior, which I’m not an expert on, but it seems to me that they would at least wonder why people who sat under the teaching of SGM for years or decades displayed so much animosity toward SGM and in a manner AoR considered very un-Christlike. Could it be that they were simply behaving in a manner consistent with what was modeled for them? That’s not to make excuse, but one would think it would cause AoR to be a little suspicious of a possible SGM snow-job. I’ve seen the stories about the love-bombing, and since AoR obviously read the blogs I’m sure they have too.

    Whether a half of a percent truly represents a statistically significant sample, I’m not sure. It would be very difficult to determine unless the participants were randomized and the input was standardized. But if that many were willing to take the time (and the perceived risk in some cases) to talk to AoR, how many others are there who weren’t?

    The report comes across as willing to hint strongly that SGM has some past deficiencies in doctrine and polity, but content to accept that SGM is working on those areas. While they make some good comments regarding SGM and the “Doctrine of Sin”, they stop short of actually saying SGM was or is WRONG in the way they applied it. (thought – Peacemakers are not often prophets).

    AoR totally bowed out with regard to “sexual misconduct” issues – probably a good idea. They admittedly aren’t qualified to deal with them.

    I give AoR a lot of credit for their skill in tightrope-walking.

    If SGM truly works to fix the deficiencies in their polity and pastoral practice, will it make them less likely to damage people in the future? Probably at the pastoral level. AoR has probably done the SGM leadership a great service in that respect.

    But unless SGM, across the entire denomination and from top to bottom, truly renounces the heirarchical, authoritarian Shepherding culture and twisted doctrine that encourages abusers and holds the sheep for ransom, he or she who the Son sets free will be, if in SGM, still a prisoner.

  • Much Afraid No More

    New Brent post up!

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Oswald, I’m not sure what you think I’m misunderstanding. Care to clarify?

    I agree, it is never too late to do the right thing. This is exactly what I said in the last thread when discussing how CLC needs to come clean on its handling of sexual abuse cases.

  • need clarity

    Searching for clarity. Trusting He leads. Asking the questions. Any sgm members feel conflicted with a desire to stay in their church, but not in sgm? How to do both.

  • SamMcGee

    I thought the article in the courier-jourrnsl was pretty fair. Note, if you click on the author’s name in the byline you can send him an email.

    Here is a journalist who is interested in this story. I was going to express my appreciation for his article and then offer some clarifications. For example, much of the positive feedback that AoR received that he mentions was from plants sent in to balance things out. He should be made aware of that.

  • Ellie

    I thought the article was much more balanced than the AOR report.

  • Persona

    227

    Thanks for pointing out this refreshing article from Louisville. It may be one of the first, but it will not be the last to focus on the controversies endemic to SGM. I’m glad to see that the reporter dug deeper than the surface and tried to sift the truth from untruth, from all side.

    This article portends a future where CJ will be unable to shake the past. Controversy will follow him for the rest of his life unless he repents.

  • Uriah

    #228 need clarity….. yes, here’s how you do both:
    Find out if the members of your church would like to secede from SGM and stay together as a church. If they agree, then it should happen (but it won’t). This will be an interesting exercise because you will ultimately find out who controls your church…. the people or a handful of pastors. I think you already know the answer….now what are you going to do?

  • Uriah

    Sam McGee #29
    I wonder if he would be open to doing an in depth news article/series. Kris and Jim would be great resources. Sounds like he might be an investigative reporter. We could put all of our stories to better use than what A of R used them for.

  • MAK

    Moving to Louisville also is a bold statement towards a closer relationship with the SBC. I wonder if all of the current loyal SGM churches are up for the closeness with the SBC. Or conversely is the SBC ready for the SGM fold to move into town? This is really tightening the lid of the coffin with reformed theology.

  • Persona

    MAK 234

    CJ is on borrowed (or bought) time in Louisville. All it will take is Al Mohler to loose his job or retire, for CJ to start saying he found an even less expensive place to relocate the PC.

  • MAK

    Persona…yes and fall out of graces with the SBC and you make a lot more enemies than you did with SGM.

  • Local Church Fan

    Justawife #77 –

    I think we all would have to agree that Scripture is the one who determines if a comment is “sinful/slanderous/corrupt”? As a result, I think the instruction in Scripture should guide us and therefore the definition of slander, for example, should not subjective. I understand that there may be some subjectivity to determining if something is slander, because there is a motive component to slander. But beyond motive there is an affect component as well. Therefore, we should all value Scriptures instruction and should be speaking words that are not intended to or have the affect of harming others. In addition, we should not speak about others to people that have no reason to be involved in the charge/accusation/opinion. Anonymous blog communities allow for this type of speech to exist without correction. Doesn’t seem to be God-glorifying.

    I don’t think it is fair to think or state that SGM is not addressing the concerns that have been brought to their attention. We don’t know how they are handling things internally, on an organizational level or on a local church level. It seems to cast an unhealthy suspicion that others view as fact.

    I agree that people should take their concerns to SGM. I just disagree with the ethics of posting about people online, in a manner that can harm their reputation.

    El Pastor #78 –

    My suggestion is that the moderators apply biblical principles of speech to their blog, so that it honors the Lord. They have the right and the responsibility to do that.

    Unassimilated #82 –

    Not really.

    KAZ #85 –

    No reason to be offended. If you aren’t posting anonymously, our you aren’t slandering or gossiping, then the comments in the AoR report, or my comments weren’t directed at you.

    Bridget #86 –

    I think the AoR report was clear that some of the actions of SGM hurt people. As a member of an SGM church, that stinks to hear. I pray that everyone who was hurt by the practices of SGM, pursues the specific individual that they were hurt by and seeks reconciliation. I hope every one that was hurt and everyone that did the hurting will want reconciliation, even if it isnt convenient, as Jesus talked about in Matt. 5.

    But as said before, just because we are hurt or harmed by someone, I dont believe we have the right to speak in a way that is not outlined in Scripture. I think that is what the AoR report hit on. I believe they agreed with the fact that people were hurt, but felt the way things were talked about on the blogs and in emails were done in a sinful way.

    musicman #87 –

    I thought anyone had the opportunity to interact with AoR either through a face-to-face meeting or a phone conversation. Is that correct? Or were you wanting them to interact with anonymous people and their comments on a blog?

    freedom #95 –

    Is anyone objective? Not sure the hiring of an outside firm to evaluate an organization constitutes objectivity. In fact, a corporation hires outside firms to do independent audits (and pays them to do it). These audits are viewed as objective by all parties. Do you think that is not objective as well?

    Epaphras #175 –

    You seem to be arguing for the ability to speak in anyway one wishes, about anyone one chooses, and it is the responsibility of the reader to discern. To me, the responsibility in Eph. 4 is on the one speaking. What biblical principle do you use to determine your ethic for online (or verbal for that matter) communication?

    Also, how do you quantify this statement?

    “A gray area exists with respect to certain types of communication in public which might better be reserved for those who share the same world view (e.g., the household of faith). Even here, though, non believers have forever been more impacted by open, transparent speech between God’s people than by phony, controlled, rhetorically-slick public speaking …. cf professional moderators for blogs. Messy, but transparent ‘real’ blogs have far greater influence for good in gospel work with a world that can smell ‘marketing’ a mile away than the packaged entertainment called ‘preaching’ at so many churches and conferences.”

    I don’t think our society agrees with your assessment of anonymous vs. known bloggers/accusers, etc. Credibility in the courtroom (which should be an accepted illustration since many on the blog are charging or accusing specific people or the organization as a whole) is determined by the testimony of the person. Is anonymous testimony ever allowed in the courtroom? Would the court accept an accusation or even listen to an accusation by an anonymous person or post? Of course not. I am surprised that anyone on this blog would be surprised that leaders of SGM dont look to anonymous comments to figure out what is going on or what they should do.

  • Unassimilated

    You know, as Americans we praised the bloggers and social media for the ‘Arab Spring’ and all the corruption that it brought to light.
    We could try throwing scripture at them I suppose…nah.

    I have also wondered if lets say, I know information about a local church fans child, yet the perp is a leader, do I gossip?
    If I do speak out and the other leaders cover things up, I am wrong from doing what I can to protect the children and families
    of other local church fans?

    So in the more important field of spiritual leadership, we are all supposed to bury our heads and toss out the Constitutional rights to free speech?

    The notion that an all knowing God, who created us in his image, would ask us to mentally check out and clam up when his word, and his people are being wronged
    just does not sound right, nor was it Christ’s example.

  • LCF-

    Ok I am laughing out loud at the irony of your question. Re-read your question to me and see if you can see how ridiculous it is….hint (you are on a blog, I don’t think LCF is your real name)

    Anyway, yes…there is nothing preventing Ted Kober or CJ Mahaney from interacting with us on the blogs, just as you are doing right now.

    In my opinion, you are choosing not see SGM’s problems for what they are, but that’s your choice.

  • Bridget

    LCF –

    I hope you are interacting with your local church leaders the same way you are interacting on this blog. Many of your comments to bloggers need to be directed to the leaders of SGM and pastors of local churches as well. Since they are leaders, they need the instruction you are offering up as much, and maybe more, than the bloggers. I’m sure the people on this blog are not the only people who may have used “sinful” speech and communication. But the people on the blogs, along with people who interviewed with AoR, were the ONLY parties assessed in this way. (Hmmm.) I don’t believe any pastors or SGM leaders even bothered to interact with the offended people.

    FYI – many of the bloggers have tried to reconcile with pastors and leaders of SGM for years, but to no avail. That is why these blogs exist to begin with. Maybe you could ask AoR how many pastors and leaders of SGM DID come forward to reconcile with people. That would be an interesting statistic.

    I am a member of an SGM church and I did come here for the purpose of finding out what was going on behind the curtain of “the leaders are taking care of it.” Needless to say, I was appalled at the cries of the wounded that I found.

    I actually have an easier time communicating here with anonymous bloggers than I do with SGM leaders. You see, SGM leaders are very poor and unclear communicators. They don’t keep people informed and they change and twist things to suit themselves. Go read their blog and the reasons they give for moving everything to Kentucky. That is not the WHOLE truth. As I have said before, knowing someone’s name does not automatically make that person believable or more upright than a blogger. I know CJ’s name, Dave Harvey’s name, Steve Shanks name, etc. They have done sinful and harmful things as leaders and have not gone to the churches and repented. In contrast, I have seen people on this blog repent and ask others for forgiveness. These are people who don’t know each other personally. It is quite an interesting paradox.

    What is your purpose for ANONYMOUSLY communicating on this blog?

    I have learned very much since reading and interacting on this blog. I imagine that many pastors have as well. At least I hope so. Many do read here, contrary to what you might think.

    I believe it is right and appropriate for people on these blogs to be angry. It is not “good” for people to be silent when leaders have misused their positions and brought harm to people. God does not call us to passivity when sin goes unaddressed.

    Your response to Freedom at 95 is absurd. Those outside groups that are paid by the company are trained, licensed, and are accountable to the government. The audit is objective only because those firms DO answer to another party besides the one paying them. Is AoR licensed and governed by an outside force that does not pay them? (I am not accusing them of any wrongdoing.)

    I do believe that because of disclaimers that AoR put in the report themselves, that they are not qualified to understand the issues that have transpired in SGM. Besides that, who did they actually reconcile? I believe that was the purpose of the report. Do you know if anyone was been reconciled after going and sharing their issues, yet again, with SGM?

  • Moniker

    I think it would be great if a bunch of us left some comments on that Louisville newspaper article to validate what the reporter said.

  • B.R. Clifton

    LCF:
    The more of your posts I read the more you smell like a top dog professional SGMer. Perhaps that’s why you continue to hide behind an alias rather than use your real name.
    I’m curious about your definition of gossip and slander (a word not found in the bible). What I read here is the crys of people who have been hurt, abused, and themselves slandered by the very men you seem determined to defend. The people on this blog are merely crying out against the myriad of abuses (sins) committed against them. Do you really believe that the lowly clergy have no recourse but to sit and take it from the “I can do no wrong” clergy. I refuse to use the term “leaders” because these clowns (The SGM top dogs) are in no way leaders in a biblical sense. There’s no example there that I am willing to follow. And they most certainly do not stand up to the admontion of Paul to “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Paul was never a liar, cheat, deceiver, backstabber, betrayer, abuser, twister of scripture, A user of the people for his own personal gain, etc. He fully gave of himself for the benefit of the people and the true gospel, unlike the SGM professionals who are now running from the very mess they have created.
    I wonder what your real name is LCF.
    :beat

  • ExClcer'sMom

    LCF said:

    Is anyone objective? Not sure the hiring of an outside firm to evaluate an organization constitutes objectivity. In fact, a corporation hires outside firms to do independent audits (and pays them to do it). These audits are viewed as objective by all parties. Do you think that is not objective as well?

    I pondered this for a bit..at first thought, you are right. I agree with you. But, then, I think of the ‘associations’ than were discovered between “friends” of AoR and SGM, second tiers relations behind the scenes. In corporations, when they hire an objective party to audit, they stay clear away from possibilities of ‘conflict of interest’. It seems to me there were some questions about that holding true with SGM and AoR.

    It doesn’t matter to me, because I KNOW that I KNOW what God has said to me, and I strongly believe SGM is a cult. :koolaid

  • I think it’s interesting that LCF suggests holding what’s shared here to the standards applied to testimony in a courtroom. I’ve never thought of this site like that.

    SGM would have been wise to see “the blogs” as their own personal FBI anonymous tip line…because that is the sort of information discussed here. The legal system would never convict a criminal of wrongdoing based solely upon what an anonymous tipster might say. But anonymous tips are nonetheless valuable – oftentimes they help investigators solve cases and know where to look to find the criminals.

    I’ve likened our conversations to this scenario: you’re in a stall in the men’s room. Two people come in, and of all things you happen to overhear them talking about you. They think you have body odor.

    Now, what do you do? Do you dash out of the stall to ascertain who it is that was saying that stuff about you, so that you can figure out whether or not they have “credible” noses and have made an accurate assessment of your B.O.? Do you fly off the handle and rage about how two people were gossiping about you?

    Or do you instead look at yourself and ask yourself if maybe you do stink…and perhaps consider whether or not you wash your clothes often enough…whether you need to switch deodorants…whether you might need a second shower after “Bike to Work” day?

    Which response would make more sense? Which response would be more helpful to your own well-being?

    I mean, what if you do reek?

    I’ve never understood the SGM defenders’ obsession with anonymity. Information is either true, or it’s not. You don’t need to know the identity of a source in order to check to see whether what the source shares is accurate.

    All you need to do is (figuratively) sniff your pits. :D

  • ExClcer'sMom

    It is like their chance to ‘be a fly on the wall’ so to speak. Only when they dont like what they are hearing, instead of changing, they attempt to silence the sounds. You know, the night before my daughter revealed to me the abuse that had been happening, I was saying to my husband at that time:

    “It seems to me that most people want to know what is ‘amiss’ with them-self, so they can change it, to improve..but you, when someone brings something to your attention, instead of putting your energy into change, you put all your energy into hiding it further. I don’t even know what dark secrets you hold in your heart.”

    Those words have stuck with me all these years, because the very next day, my daughter told me the ugly secrets he held in his heart.

    This is the same thing I see SGM leaders doing-putting all their energy into discrediting sources, covering up, moving away…sometimes I wonder if he didn’t learn that pattern from them from the very start. Kind of like the chicken and the egg..I do not need to know anymore of the dark secrets those men hold in their hearts..I have chosen to follow God, and not man!

  • My “sniff your pits” analogy could even be stretched a little further…

    A lot of times, people go out the door with bad body odor because they (and their family members) have become so immune to their own smells that they lack the ability to smell themselves.

    It would make sense for someone who had lived through the bathroom stall scenario to ask a truly objective third party for an opinion.

    I say “truly objective” because…work with me for a moment and allow me to play with my analogy…sometimes a person can have body odor because he’s been eating a whole lot of a certain kind of food…or because he lives in a house where foods with really strong odors are cooked. Some cultures favor foods made with lots of garlic, for instance.

    So our hypothetical guy-in-the-stall with body odor – if he’s from an ethnic group that uses a lot of garlic in his food, and that’s what is making him smell, it would not actually be helpful for him to ask someone from a similar ethnic group, with a similar proclivity for using lots of garlic, to be the one to figure out if he smells.

    A lot has been said about AoR, and about how they’re Lutherans and so forth. Their Lutheran-ness has been cited as evidence of their objectivity.

    But it’s pretty obvious, from all the attention their report paid to pointing out the faults and flaws and sins of those who have bad opinions of SGM, that despite their non-SGM background, they share SGM’s tendency to be very quick to hone in on others’ perceived sins – particularly their critics’ perceived sins. And they clearly share SGM’s crazy belief that if information is communicated in a way they deem “sinful,” it’s simply not worthy of their attention.

    It seems to me AoR has been marinating in the same garlic that’s contributed to SGM’s B.O. So looking to the AoR guys for some sort of objective assessment is about like asking garlic-lovin’ Granny if you smell like garlic.

  • CLCya

    Kris #244 – Great post! You make some insightful points. If I were in that situation, I would sniff my pits!
    :goodpost

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Kris,

    Love, love, love the “body odor” example.

    You’ve learned well from the Master teacher…communicating in such a way that even a child can understand. :)

    Loved the “garlic,” too. I shared earlier how surprised I was at just how much AoR sounded like SGM. Who/where do you think this stuff originated from?

  • As most know here, C.J. Mahaney gave a message last week at Together for the Gospel about a pastor “losing heart.”

    C.J. gave various examples of what might cause a pastor to loose heart. C.J. even seem to be giving examples of what “happened” to him that might cause him to loose heart. As had been discussed before, it appeared that C.J. didn’t seem to understand that most of what has happened to him is the result of his own sin and choices.

    Maybe C.J. should have given the example of a pastor being blackmailed by a fellow pastor who he worked with for years and this pastor had helped mentor the other pastor who was blackmailing him. How about even when the blackmailed pastor confronts the other pastor about his sin and this pastor refuses to admit it and reconcile for 10 leaders with other leaders supporting the blackmailer? To add to that the blackmailer gets up and slanders the one pastor. That certainly would be a reason for a pastor to loose heart.

    I doubt C.J. Mahaney thought of that example though that is what C.J. apparently did to Larry Tomczak.

  • Stunned

    Kris,

    I just want to send you a big hug right now. Thank you for what you’ve been doing lo these many years.

    Kindred Spirit said, “Kris, that comment about being a “professional moderator” stuck in my craw.” Mine, too! I thought, “So Kris, who moderates a blog that some months has over 80,000 unique visitors, is being told by a guy who I am SURE does not have the readership of anywhere NEAR that number, that Kris is not professional enough?”

    So how does one define a professional blog moderator?

    Does one need to be paid to be a professional?

    If so, then AoR is right, Kris isn’t a “professional” blog moderator. In fact, I believe that the only people who have made any money in this situation are…hmmm, who would that be? Oh yes, AoR made the money here.

    Or does one need a specific degree in blog moderating in order to be considered a professional blog moderator, like an architect or lawyer? Hmmm… as that degree doesn’t exist, this couldn’t be the definition of a professional blogger.

    Or is a professional blog moderator someone who has dedicated both time, money and energy for a matter of… oh, let’s say a couple of years, to moderating a blog visited by… what was that number again, Kris?… who has received emails numbering in the…? … who has sacrificed and wept and prayed and encouraged and prayed for how many? Certainly a dozen TIMES the number of people AoR personally interviewed for this report. But hey, who’s counting? I guess unless you bend over an… I mean, unless you are paid by a wealthy church or unless you don’t have a professional degree, you’re not a professional moderator? (Silly rabbits, some people are.)

    PS. In case someone hasn’t read their bible lately, Jesus, Paul, etc used snark AND acted angrily, in addition to speculating. (Well, I am guessing that Jesus was all knowing, so He probably didn’t need to speculate. Maybe someone needs to point out to AoR that either these things are NOT sin, or they need to write a report calling Jesus out for sinning.)

    PPS. And if AoR won’t say it, I will on their behalf. “If it weren’t for you, Kris, we wouldn’t have gotten this gig and the paychecks that came along with it. Thank you.”

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Stunned,

    As you told Patty earlier…

    “Rock on with yo bad self!”

    Ditto, Kris!

  • A Kindred Spirit

    LCF,

    Would you have approached Jesus about the “unChristlike” way in which He addressed the Pharisees’ issues?

  • Aww, Stunned – thanks!

    I did think the line about how blogs need a “professional moderator” to (loose quote) “keep commenters from sinning” revealed more about AoR’s general mindset than almost anything else. Silly boys.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Kris,

    The reason I asked where this stuff originated from is because it spread pretty rapidly into various Christian groups (typically the controlling ones). Now we have a “Lutheran group” practicing it, or at least a group of Lutherans in the field of “reconciliation/peacemaking/counseling/etc.” (is that where some of it is coming from?).

    Bill Gothard was the first person I recall coming on the scene and screaming “gossip and slander” at his critics to shut them up. Others have fine-tuned it and broadened it. Not sure where the “honing in on others’ sins” to silence critics originated.

    I guess they all figured out how quickly it shuts your critics up. It’s very effective because it usually works.

  • facedown2000

    I think the “sniff your pits” illustration is so fitting in that it works both ways. There have been some good things to come out of this blog, and I’m generally supportive of the mission here. But LCF makes some valid points, and it’s interesting to see how everyone jumped all over him/her.

    If you think that the blogs can do no wrong, I would suggest that you also “sniff your pits.” Again, I would refer you to Brent’s “hardball” post, and I’ll remind you of my previous statement (and LCF’s) that, no matter how egregiously we have been sinned against, God does not give us the right to retaliate sinfully. I know that some of my posts here have been sinfully motivated, and I’d bet that everyone can point to cases where their discussion hasn’t been as gracious as God calls us to be.

    I have no problem with personal accounts (xxx’s story), and I think scripture encourages sharing testimonies as a warning to others, particularly when there’s documented evidence, and especially when one-on-one discussions have proven unfruitful. In this sense I think Brent’s original documents were also warranted. But over the years, there’s been a lot of false rumors spread and speculation made that’s just… bad. And I think we need to cop to that where we’ve participated. AoR was right to call the blogs out on this issue, and I personally think their treatment could have been stronger.

    We all should take care, lest we become just as unentreatable as CJ.

    @BR Clifton (#242):

    Two points: (1) “Trinity” isn’t found in the bible either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. (2) There are many reasons why one might wish to stay anonymous on a site like this. Personally, I have a professional presence on the web, and a fairly unique name. I’d prefer searches for my name bring up professional information rather than my arguments on “teh interwebs.”

  • Whirlwind

    @Defender #212: I’ll save ‘em some money. Tell ‘em to go enroll at SBTS! Al would just love C.J. even more!

    In the short term, there may be some enrollment of PC students at SBTS, but my guess is Mohler may have more value in seeing students exposed to CJ’s method of church leadership. Go back to his comment after CJ stepped down and how some people had problems with strong leadership (or something to that effect). Given Mohler’s past in SBC politics, I think he sees CJ’s style of leadership as helpful in keeping SBC on the right course.

    It will be interesting to see how much the new SGM church is filled with SBTS students. Many will want access to CJ, but only so many will be able to get it and they’ll be competing with PC students.

    Long term, it wouldn’t surprise me if the PC goes through a merger of sorts with SBTS. The education elements of the PC would be handled by SBTS, and the pastors at the new church and SGM staff would provide oversight and a local church context to learn SGM particulars.

  • Bridget

    I was a bit confused about one party keeping another party from sinning. How does one do that? Where are we called to keep other people from sinning? That sounds exactly like SGM and sin sniffing. We are called to encourage one another to good deeds and Christ-likeness. But no one can make anyone else not sin. Don’t they know that?

    Is this a “Christian” only blog, Kris? I guess they can’t fathom that some have left the faith or never believed because of their SGM experience. Should we
    be sniffing them as well and walking the other way because they don’t
    measure up in their speech? I just don’t recall Jesus expecting that of people.

    I think their blogging issues are just as much directed at Brent as anyone else.

  • facedown2000

    This has come up several times even since I wrote the previous message. I’m curious where Paul speculated about the motives of someone else.

    I’d discount Jesus here — he’s God, and we’re not, so if he said something about the rich young ruler (e.g.), you know it’s true. Paul’s fair game though. I know he said some harsh things, but my understanding of scripture was that he experienced the sins of others firsthand.

    For example: “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2Ti 4:10). Demas wronged Paul directly — he wrote about it to Timothy, but he had direct experience to make an assessment of Demas’ motives. Similarly, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (Gal 2:11). Here again, Paul had direct experience and witnessed Peter’s actions.

    I’m interested in a specific example where Paul (or Peter, James, etc.) only had hearsay testimony and he made an speculative assessment of someone else’s motives. I don’t think you can do it — certainly not convincingly. In the Demas example above, one could say that Paul was speculating, but there’s no evidence for that, and it’s quite likely they had an extensive discussion before Demas left.

  • Facedown,

    I guess what I find confusing about AoR’s fixation on the sins of “the blogs” is twofold.

    First, I don’t believe it’s ever been a question here of whether or not some of the conversations have lapsed into sinfulness. I think that’s a given, considering we’re fallen (though redeemed, if we are in Christ Jesus) human beings. So I’m not sure what the big “gotcha!” is that we’re supposed to cop to. Have things been said here that are wrong? Sure. Have sins been committed? Sure. No argument there.

    Which leads to my second point, which is this: AoR was ostensibly hired by SGM to evaluate SGM, and NOT “the blogs.” As someone else said earlier, AoR’s running commentary on “the blogs” was a weird distraction, a side issue. As I think most of us understood it, AoR’s job was to examine SGM and find out what needed improving. If SGM Survivors or SGM Refuge had hired AoR, then yeah – all the smack-talk about “the blogs” would have been perfectly fine. But the report was supposed to have been about SGM.

    I know nobody asked, but my personal opinion is that Mr. Kober and his coworkers got their tender feelings hurt early on in the process, when people’s deep suspicions about SGM overflowed onto AoR when they were called in to the mess. You can practically hear the whiny and peevish tone in the report authors’ writing as they rant self-righteously about how astounded they were at the criticisms directed their way – how they’d NEVER EXPERIENCED SUCH BEFORE! OH THE HORRORS!! Boo hoo. Poor babies. Big bad evil bloggers are the source of so many of these woes…

    (Sorry…off track here…)

    Anyway, I think AoR took personal offense early on and completely lacked any objective perspective after that. That’s why the report reads as much more of a condemnation of blogging than of the evils SGM has perpetrated over the past decades.

  • Whirlwind

    Earlier this week marked my SGM pastor’s first public warning about the blogs that I can recall – perhaps emboldened by the AoR report?

    I’m saddened by the way AoR responded to the blogs differently than they responded to SGM. In effect I heard them saying SGM has had some big blind spots and have made significant mistakes, but they’ve also blessed a lot of people and their mistakes are common and go hand-in-hand with significant growth.

    Why couldn’t the same be said about the blogs? Have they had blind spots? Made mistakes along the way? (I’ll concede, “Sure.”) But haven’t they also blessed a lot of hurting people? Haven’t they been a refuge to the weak and helpless? Haven’t they seen periods of significant growth and perhaps didn’t always know how to respond to it? Can we afford them the same grace? Apparently not.

    If we’re going to compare the two, I’m much more concerned about the lives that were damaged by SMG’s “mis-steps” than I am about any damage suffered by SGM’s leaders (though I’m not sure how much they’ve had to suffer through as a direct result of anything on the blogs – most anything they’ve suffered through has come directly as a results of their “mis-steps”). Please don’t hear me to say I don’t care if someone’s reputation is damaged on a blog – I’m just saying what’s happened to numerous families and children growing up in SGM is much worse (millstones around the neck and such, you know).

    At this point, there shouldn’t be a single person who has posted their story on the blogs who hasn’t been contacted by the pastors involved to seek some kind of reconciliation. I know the Fairfax attempts failed miserably, but can I at least give them some credit for attempting to “come clean” even if they didn’t add any soap to the water. They seem to be miles ahead of other pastors and leaders. If they haven’t made phone calls, they’re cowards. Even if they wanted to set up unreasonable meetings and terms of discussion, I’d give them something for their “effort” but are they even doing that?

    Instead of saying SGM could have avoided a lot of their troubles by avoiding a paper-trail, why not say they could have avoided a lot of their troubles by sorrowfully engaging with people as soon as they saw them sharing their stories on the blogs. Why couldn’t the report emphasize how even the slanderous, gossiping, vindictive bloggers were able to respond to hurt sheep with more care and compassion than some SGM pastors? Why not rebuke SGM leadership for correctly identifying instances of online gossip, while neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. (Mt. 23:23) How long have they ignored or minimized the latter while highlighting the former? And it continues!!

    Sorry, this is turning into a bit of a rant, but the double-standard is screaming at me this morning and that last thought from Mt. 23:23 really gets me steamed.

    Who should receive the greater rebuke – the shepherds or the sheep?

  • El Pastor

    #258 Facedown

    ”Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”

    While it’s possible those preaching from wrong motives visited with Paul to tell him what their motives for preaching the Gospel were (“We’re only out there sharing the word to cause you distress, you know”), more likely Paul surmised from a number of factors that this is what they were doing. In fact, he probably based his opinion on the reports of others.

  • Trueblue

    SGM is following the same course of action as another shepherding/cult like church group, The Bible Speaks/Greater Grace World Outreach. Different errors but the the same cover up tactics and headquarters relocation strategy. The name change will come. See http://www.carlstevens.org.

  • Whirlwind

    While I’m ranting, here’s another thing that irked me this week. I went back to re-read the preliminary panel report, which stated this:

    The most serious charge in the documents is that, over a decade ago, C.J. Mahaney, in an effort to do what he thought would protect Sovereign Grace, threatened to break a promise, an act which appears in context to have been an attempt at coercion. This serious sin looks to us like an unfortunate lack of judgment, rather than a protracted pattern of behavior. It was clearly wrong, but C.J. Mahaney never acted upon it and has since apologized.

    I went back to re-check CJ’s confession at CLC, then remembered it became an unconfession and was removed from the SGM blog. (We wouldn’t want to just append a statement of forgiveness and grace – no, better just remove the evidence – I mean confession. I really need to remember to blot out those confessions of David from Scripture. He probably sits in heaven with those Psalms weighing on him like unforgiven sin.)

    Anyway, there are two major problems with the way CJ’s coercion was easily dismissed. This was not an apparent attempt at coercion. CJ confessed it as coercion.

    Furthermore, they panel missed the point when they targeted the threat of breaking a confidence as the problem rather than the act of coercion itself. Though CJ never went through with breaking the confidence, he did maintain the coercion. He didn’t come back to Larry in a few days and repent. He only recently acknowledged the coercion even after repeated attempts through the years by Larry at reconciliation. It was stubborn refusal for a decade to look plainly at what he had done.

    I went back to re-read this because it’s the biggest problem I have with CJ’s suitability for leadership. Major blind spot – couldn’t recognize coercion for over a decade even with someone trying to point it out to you. Now the blind have led the blind and the ditch has become rather full.

    I think I’m done for the day.

  • Defender

    Whirlwind #256:
    It is certainly going to get interesting.

    I’m gonna pop some popcorn and watch this unfold…

    Kris, the B.O. analogy is spot on!

    BTW, Thanks for your work here.
    YOU are truly a Professional Blog Moderator.
    I think AoR should carve out a percentage of their take as a “finders fee” to give to you.

  • KAZ

    LCF ?
    What can anyone say ? I am amazed :scratch You condem us for doing exactly the things you yourself are doing. Blogging anonymously, making general accusations…..
    Consider this….. If you used your real name or common nickname your respect level would go pretty high here. If you were to bring practical solutions to the sins your accusing us of people might actually take you seriously instead of thinking of you to be just another koolaid drinking loonie. I know as a CJ fanboy the concept of bringing solutions to sins instead of just condemnation does not compute but the rest of christianity has been doing it since the Cross.

    and I really dont think you have read alot of these blogs. We are here becuase the normal way of dealing with broken relationships or conflict in SGM churches has become an epic fail. Many of us have gone to the SGM kangaroo courts and our testimonts were voided becuase of our looks, or paid grade, or whatever …… Your “courtroom” thinking does work in real life but we are talking about SGM where the higher a person is on the SGM ladder the more believable their testimony is. How would you feel if in the court of law your testimony was voided becuase your unmarried ? Is that even possible in America ? Its great to talk about how the world works and how people interact in normal life but this blog is about SGM which is different.

  • Guy

    Maybe we’ll start a “Blogger College”. Graduates will immediately become “professional moderators” and know more about blogging and moderating than “normal” people. I’m thinking 9 months should be long enough. And the cost should be around $50k.

  • El Pastor

    Being a non-SGM sort of pastor, and certainly a very imperfect one as all men must be, I am amazed at the continued assaults on SGM’s critics. I have had my share of critics over the years, some justified, some not.

    But what I don’t understand is the lack of desire to communicate on SGM’s part. If someone thought I wronged them, I would meet with them right away (no conditions, bring whoever you want as a witness) and discuss it. I’ve never turned a critic away. If someone wrote me a letter, I would answer right away, preferably in person. I would go to them. I wouldn’t need a letter a year for 20 years. I can’t even imagine that.

    And if later, I found that there was a blog devoted to attacking me, and parishioner so-and-so gave a very inaccurate story about me, I would post a simple response sharing my point of view as best I could, explaining my motives and perspective. If I was wrong, I would apologize again. How hard is that? In short, I would make the effort, especially on a blog like Survivors where people are generally quite willing to hear the other party out.

    In fact, I would devote a couple of days to just answering bloggers questions about me, and if after that, it was just a “get me” thing, I would probably let it go. But I would try. Wouldn’t anyone?

  • Freedom

    LCF Wrote: Is anyone objective? Not sure the hiring of an outside firm to evaluate an organization constitutes objectivity. In fact, a corporation hires outside firms to do independent audits (and pays them to do it). These audits are viewed as objective by all parties. Do you think that is not objective as well?

    Me: If there is a conflict of interest, then yes it is not objective. And this has happened many times in the business world. And the accounting firms have been called out for what they did. Just go read up on Arthur Anderson and Enron. AoR is Arthur Anderson and SGM is Enron.

    No, they are not always objective. AoR is not at all objective. They are also not an accounting firm that has laws they are supposed to follow. They are playing the exact same game that SGM plays – if they don’t like the way something was said or what was said, then the person is in sin. And because they are in sin, the words are meaningless. They are following their own agenda and taking the money to write up a report.

  • El Pastor-

    Your post is right on. :goodpost

    That’s how any normal Pastor would handle criticism. But being a pastor in SGM means never having to say your sorry.

  • lily

    Kris, 259,

    Or possibly, AOR’s own “human hearts are desperately wicked and deceitful above all else, who can know them?”, Jer. They know how to speak Christianese very well at AOR, and were paid for the report. I am not saying they are totally depraved, but it is a logical assumption that the bloggers might have been the main reason for them being called by SGM/CJ, now that more has come to light.

  • Whirlwind

    @El Pastor #267: Sadly, I think that’s because you’re just “El Pastor” and not “El Apostle” or even “El Pastoral Celebrity”.

  • StvMac

    El Pastor #267,

    I can see why you are a “non-SGM sort or pastor”, you would not fit the mold, thanks be to God. Keep on!

  • Muckraker

    FYI: SGM just changed the format of their website to include the AoR Report on their front page. Good for them!
    Not front and center (like I recommended yesterday)but close to it.

    Readin’ the evil blogs, huh, guys? Oops, “sinful speculation”! :wink:

  • 5yearsinPDI

    El Pastor-

    Exactly.

    This is why I think the average person needs to read up on sociopathy to understand these events. Normal people have a conscience and cannot relate to people whose only goal is to be on top, and who will lie and do anything to crush the opposition. In biblical terms it is what Paul says of the false apostles in more than one epistle.

    I have gone on with my life and I know what I think about SGM, but the harder thing for me is watching what seems to be such blindness on the part of the T4G lineup. Is it a spirit of deception, are they good guys taken in by the charm who don’t know much at all and are gullible, or are some of them also sociopathic false teachers? Only time will tell.

    The AoR failure to demand full and complete apologies and restitution for the sex abuse cases, where victims got the blame and perps got support by leaders, is horrific. They admit to lack of qualifications to deal with this, and perhaps there are legalities that are over their head, and they lack professional training in this subject, but still, the report should have gone much further in insisting that people who ARE qualified to deal with this be brought in and the past properly dealt with- Loftness, FF guys, etc. This is too big to not deal with even if it takes a million bucks. While it is good that they speak of the need to get things in order for the future regarding sex abuse, SGM remains guilty until they clean up the past.

    Kris- the blogs are not under elder authority in the local church. Para church ministries must be submitted to local churches, whether schools or mission groups or counselors. If you want to be acceptable, you need to submit to the covering of the local church, preferably an SGM one. Everybody knows that there is less sin when para church ministries submit to local elders. Submitting to Guy does not count, he is just your lowly husband.

    Ugh.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    The AoR failure to demand full and complete apologies and restitution for the sex abuse cases, where victims got the blame and perps got support by leaders, is horrific. They admit to lack of qualifications to deal with this, and perhaps there are legalities that are over their head, and they lack professional training in this subject, but still, the report should have gone much further in insisting that people who ARE qualified to deal with this be brought in and the past properly dealt with- Loftness, FF guys, etc. This is too big to not deal with even if it takes a million bucks. While it is good that they speak of the need to get things in order for the future regarding sex abuse, SGM remains guilty until they clean up the past.

    5 years, I agree with you. Had I gone to AoR and then heard such a thing, I would have felt like I got slapped in the face. I am so glad I did not participate! For too many years, I ‘chalked it up to that” as well..until I saw how there were cases closely repeated 6 years later, and how even as recently as the summer of 2011, they are leaving children exposed, unbeknownst to even their parents. The only change so far has been ‘forced’, therefore, I dont believe I see a hint of repentance, much less a desire to ‘clean up the past mistakes’. :bang

  • Guy –

    LOVE your #266! Hahahahahahahaha…

  • El Pastor

    5Years, #274

    Yes, the T4G, “Reformed Big Dogs” behavior is for me the most disturbing of all.

  • Here are a few more thoughts re Guy’s #266 –

    1. When we start our bloggers’ college, we will frustrate Punctuation Police everywhere by calling it the Bloggers College.

    2. By the time they graduate, all bloggers will have grown their hair long and gotten blond highlights.

    3. Everyone will start talking with a Texas accent.

    4. We will have weekly blogging hazing rituals, where all students must scrub my bathroom floors with a toothbrush.

    5. We will develop a mysteriously vague protocol for being selected to attend. It will be based in large part on how well the potential student tells me how great I am and how unworthy THEY are.

    6. I will get to make fun of all students regularly, mocking them as less womanly and feminine than I am. If anyone gets her feelings hurt, that’s a sign that she’s not humble enough.

    7. Oh, I forgot – my Bloggers [sic] College will only be open to females.

    8. All Bloggers College students’ husbands must start their own blogs full of cheesy sepia-toned photos of the children and loads of quotes from Spurgeon.

    9. People everywhere will eagerly remodel their basements, adding specially equipped apartments where Bloggers College students and their families can live…and believe that they are doing this “for the sake of the blogging gospel.”

    10. When it’s discovered that I blackmailed coerced someone, we will decide to move our Bloggers College and organizational headquarters to some random location…and then we will pretend that the move had nothing to do with the revelation that I really am The Worst Blogger I Know™.

  • Liberty

    I have not had anything worth saying but HAVE to give a huge LOL to the above posts regarding the Blogger College idea.

    Kris, regarding your hazing ritual: I’m sorry but that ritual is so yesterday. All young single women who wanted to be on the list as potential apostle’s wives have already been there, done that. Can we please iron Guy’s pants…over and over and over again…until they pass inspection? Pretty please?

  • Remnant

    Kris, would potential Bloggers [sic] College students need to live in their mother’s basements and wear pj’s?

    If so, I’m sorry I won’t be a potential candidate because my mom lives in Florida and there are no basements in Florida. What to do???

  • Liberty

    Oh, and I almost forgot why I was going to post for REAL. I thought this block of scripture was very fitting for this whole scenario. It was in my inbox today as part of a daily devotional I subscribe to. Just so many parts that scream out regarding the situation. Since I have not attended blogger college and have no idea how to use the HTML to bold things, I have capped the parts that really scream out to be heard:

    Proverbs 28:12-26:

    When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding. Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble. Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people. A TRYRANNICAL RULER PRACTICES EXTORITION, but one who hates ill-gotten gain will enjoy a long reign. Anyone tormented by the guilt of murder will seek refuge in the grave; let no one hold them back. The one whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but the one whose ways are perverse will fall into the pit. Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty. A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished. TO SHOW PARTIALITY IS NOT GOOD–yet a person will do wrong for a piece of bread. The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them. WHOEVER REBUKES A PERSON WILL IN THE END GAIN FAVOR RATHER THAN THE ONE WHO HAS A FLATTERING TONGUE. Whoever robs their father or mother and says, ‘It’s not wrong,’ is partner to one who destroys. THE GREEDY STIR UP CONFLICT, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper. THOSE WHO TRUST IN THEMSELVES ARE FOOLS, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

    THANKFUL THAT I AM SAFE ON THE SIDE OF TRUSTING JESUS. God help those who choose to put their trust in anyone else.

  • Bridget

    El Pastor –

    Maybe you could do a 9 month reschooling for some of the current SGM pastors :D

  • Whirlwind quoted this from SGM (about C.J. Mahaney’s blackmail):

    The most serious charge in the documents is that, over a decade ago, C.J. Mahaney, in an effort to do what he thought would protect Sovereign Grace, threatened to break a promise, an act which appears in context to have been an attempt at coercion. This serious sin looks to us like an unfortunate lack of judgment, rather than a protracted pattern of behavior. It was clearly wrong, but C.J. Mahaney never acted upon it and has since apologized.

    As has been pointed out before and others have said, it is shocking how they try and point out “C.J. Mahaney never acted upon it” as an attempt to trivialize what was done. Though it would have been worse if Mahaney “acted upon it” it is the threat that Mahaney made that is really the issue. As also has been pointed out, C.J. Mahaney was successful in in his threat; Larry was silent.

    Maybe another reason for people “losing heart” would be seeing a leader’s egregious sin revealed and the top leaders of this group choose to defend this leader and trivialize his sin rather than call for him to step down.

  • Persona

    I don’t know why more people haven’t cried foul that the AoR included blog-evaluation in their report at all.

    It was a pretty cocky move since, to my knowledge, CJ hasn’t himself initiated any contact with any blogger (even though they have requested that numerous times) and, blog-evaluation was never included on any to-do list, I ever saw.

    Somehow, even SGMNation neglected to mention how out-of-line Ted/John/CJ were to bring anyone or any other organizations into their purview of critique. Strange how we continue to give SGM more line than they deserve.

    The AoR and their pals at SGM must have a pretty high view of themselves if they think they are in the business of regulating the conversation of the world. This is nothing short of stunning, in my opinion.

    So, since blogs were never included on the original docket, it seems to me that Ted should take some time off to consider the things he got wrong in this job and, how and why he allowed SGM to use him and his organization the way they did.

  • El Pastor

    Bridget #282

    Now that is an opportunity I would pay them to let me do. Actually, it has been my privilege to do some pastoral training in several other nations, and one thing I always tell the indigenous pastors : “do not look to the west or the USA as models! The one advantage we have, I tell them, is that we have made all the mistakes churches and denominations can make. So learn from what we do wrong, but don’t follow our trends. Stick to the Word. That is the great guide and corrective.”

  • Fried Fish

    Kris –

    “When it’s discovered that I blackmailed (coerced) someone,”

    Whatcha gonna do? Threaten to reveal Guy’s addiction to chocolate filled twinkies if he doesn’t add some new emoticons? :) j/k you guys rock.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Whirlwind & El Pastor – great last couple of comments.

    One of the first articles I read with my caregroup during the short time I attended CLC was called “The Cross and Criticism.” It has stuck with me all these years and I still believe it has many useful points.

    He writes:

    Unfortunately, as I travel around the country, the tale is often told that many people would never dare confront or criticize their pastor or leader for fear of retaliation. Many just find another organization to work for or church to attend.

    In fact, don’t you know of leaders who select those to be nearest to them who are easiest on them? How many times have you been warned to “walk on eggshells” around that person?”

    One of the biggest disappointments in the whole debacle of the last nine months is seeing SGM leaders ignore, disregard and act contrary to those things they taught me and others.

    If there is something to learn from every critic, even if the criticism is unkindly delivered, then SGM should be primarily concerned with learning from the blogs, not correcting bloggers. Likewise, I can learn from the AoR report, even if I think it was a little unbalanced in favor of SGM and against those who have experienced partiality, harsh or unloving treatment from SGM leaders.

    When I criticize, I want to give “accurate, fair criticism, well tempered with mercy and affirmation,” but if one does that and it is ignored, not once or a few times, but repeatedly, and if one is corrected for daring to “offer an observation” to one’s leaders, well, eventually you become convinced that either you haven’t anything worth saying or that you are in a place where you won’t be heard, no matter how humble you try to be. Theologically, I reject the former premise, so…

    Listening to AoR’s recommendations may help SGM some. But I wonder what it will help them with. Will it help them fix the underlying problems or will it be like putting wall paper over a gaping hole in the wall?

  • Patti

    Fried Fish said,
    “Whoever wrote the comments about the blogs comes across as quite angry.”

    I was thinking the same thing when AOR reported that some people they interviewed expressed anger over past SGM abuse, even clenching a fist. I would like to ask them if there was any display of anger from SGM leaders who experienced past “blog abuse.” Maybe AOR is just being “bitter” for them. You know, like how “bitter” I can get when I first learn about an abuse even though the victim themself has already forgiven and moved on. :wink:

  • Epaphras

    This really can’t be repeated too often – AOR’s work should have had nothing whatsoever to do with the blogs, let alone their report. Their mission was to interview complainants and determine how SGM could pursue reconciliation with those specific persons who have been damaged by their ministry. Period.

    If I had been writing the report, I simply can’t even conceive why I would have even used the word ‘blog’ once. Good, bad, accurate, erroneous, loving, hateful, the blogs were (I repeat) irrelevant to the work of AOR. Even if I had concluded that the blogs had aggravated the situation, my focus and report would have started-and-stopped with counsel to SGM about their responsibilities.

    The bizarre obsession of the report with the blogs invalidates, on its face, any claim to AOR objectivity even apart from other considerations. As for defending the blogs, it’s just another case of ‘have you stopped beating your wife?”

    IT’S NOT ABOUT THE BLOGS. And it’s not about bloggers repenting. It’s about SGM repenting.

  • Unassimilated

    Guy, would the scope of the Blogger College be specific to this particular brand of blogging, or would the skills and perspectives learned be of use in other fields
    such as;

    Turnabout is fair play – Its you, it’s soooo you.

    Unsolicited Helping or Rescuing. – Covers things like telling it to the church, & ‘loving pursuit.’

    Disqualifying the formerly qualified for fun, profit, or personal gain.

    How to Make People Insecure About Themselves.

    Finding the Weak Points of People.

    Shame, Scold, Blame Others. – Techniques of collecting for past favors and make someone (else) responsible.

    Use Your Power Wisely. – Best uses of general acceptance, verbal & intellectual prowess, threats etc. to put people into “one up, I am right and you are wrong” position

    Sin, Mistakes, Gross Negligence, the perceived value & ‘healing powers’ of third party groups & review panels.

    The Herd Mentality – Making disciples of men and putting them into motion. Say Moooo!

    Cloning – If its what we do, you should to!

    Sing! Branding your denomination, or family of churches with approved songs.

    I studied these extensively at SGM, but in recent years my venue of communication has changed. I have wanted to further my studies, and this seems like a choice opportunity. The best thing is that it could be subsidized by things like this;

    http://www.collegescholarships.org/our-scholarships/blogging.htm

    I would have to see if my congregation would be willing to pony up the rest of the $$$, I’ll just tell them its a mission fund for the ‘gospel’.
    A Going Forward fund if you will. Have a few guys who give $$$ in ridiculous amounts. I can drag them onto the stage to guilt the rest of the flock to fork out.

    Ahhh, I can smell the future blessings already!!

    In the end, it’s not how you do it, its about how many people are convinced it’s God’s way.

  • exCLCer

    #284 The AoR and their pals at SGM must have a pretty high view of themselves if they think they are in the business of regulating the conversation of the world. This is nothing short of stunning, in my opinion.

    :goodpost

    The AoR’s apparent need to create a false equivalency between the organization they were being paid to analyze and the people who were gracious enough to assist them in their endeavor by providing their stories is a lame effort at neutrality and reminds me of a quote:

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Bishop Desmond Tutu

  • Fried Fish

    You hit the elephant on the head there, ex. The Peacemakers model of reconciliation consists of, as far as I can tell, getting two conflicted parties in a room, getting them both to calmly tell their side of the story, getting them both to admit they are sinners in need of grace, getting them both to express forgiveness, getting them both to promise to behave themselves from now on, having a big group hug and inviting each other out for a beer. (or something pretty close to that – maybe the beer is optional but most Lutherans I know would jump at the chance). And I guess that’s pretty Biblical if you’re arguing with someone because they ran their lawnmower over your prize petunias and you got pissed off and keyed their car… just sayin’…

    But it seems in many ways like a one-method-fits-all model that really doesn’t apply in cases of systemic disfunction and abuse of authority. Just sayin’ again.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Was that a care group leader or a regular member who gave you that article? The quote you shared:

    Unfortunately, as I travel around the country, the tale is often told that many people would never dare confront or criticize their pastor or leader for fear of retaliation. Many just find another organization to work for or church to attend.
    In fact, don’t you know of leaders who select those to be nearest to them who are easiest on them? How many times have you been warned to “walk on eggshells” around that person?”

    Hard to believe that someone in much of a position would give you that teaching. The culture I saw at CLC in the early 90’s was one of conformance. You didn’t question and if you did you weren’t going to move up in the group. Care Group Leaders were all typically those who didn’t question.

    Then again they may have back then really thought they were open to questioning etc. I am sure they even think that now.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    @Steve240 – It was given to me by my CGL who later became my pastor. The whole article is online and you can read it now – side bar (with self examination statements) that we studied as a care group all those years ago included. You can see it here: http://www.peacemaker.net/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=aqKFLTOBIpH&b=1084263&ct=1245843

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Thanks for posting the link. This is interesting that this is Peacemaker material and C.J. Mahaney endorsed at least the original Peacemaker book.

    As you may know, one of the reasons Jim started his SGMRefuge blog was that at least one leader in his local SGM church refused doing the Peacemaker process despite their church having taught the process. Thus it is easier to know something than do it or as James says be only a hearer who deludes himself. It is hard to believe how someone could not be willing to go the Peacemaker route when they as a leader taught it.

    What is in that article is especially something C.J. Mahaney and other board members should study though we all would benefit from it.

    Here is a story about the need to think for yourself that I reposted on my blog:

    http://ikdg.wordpress.com/2007/12/31/a-favorite-story-about-the-need-to-think-for-yourself/

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    I don’t know Jim’s full story but I had the understanding that Jim had experienced what you describe above from comments he’s made recently.

    We are all sinners and I get that pastors and leaders sin too. But it feels like a betrayal (and one I know others have experienced too) when top SGM leadership repudiate with their lives the things I learned for years under their leadership… things I sought to practice (trying to follow them as they followed the Lord)… things I accepted correction for when I didn’t practice them… We talked at church about the value of learning to LOVE correction, and see it as a gift – even if it wasn’t perfectly delivered.

    And then witness the last few months… realizing how much was hidden (when they had claimed that they lived openly with each other and before their churches)… seeing them display disdain for correction, or wait until the last minute to issue minimal public or private apologies, in a way that seemed more concerned with reputation than reconciliation…

    I don’t want to judge anyone’s heart or the quality of their repentance before God. AoR is right, I think, that it isn’t our place to do that. And yet, in a sense, we are always evaluating the sincerity and trustworthiness of others. I can’t tell whether their repentance before God is genuine, and I can proclaim the Lord’s forgiveness… But none of us trusts someone who has grievously hurt us simply because they say they are sorry… Once the relationship has been compromised, only the demonstration of fruit consistent with repentance can help rebuild trust.

    Isn’t that true for all of us?

  • Argo

    Guy,
    Your comment at 266 was so freaking awesome. That MADE my day. :clap

  • Argo

    Kris,
    I don’t think the Bloggers College Attendance criteria be vague. It’s simple. First and foremost, those who are related to you will be obvious candidates…okay, then after that it’ll get vague. Granted.

  • Oswald

    EMSDG #294 — Thanks for the link to the article, very helpful. I’ve printed it to read several times, as needed.

  • Defender

    Okay Kris, Re #278 Item # 7……..

    I suppose I’ll have to start my own blog to expose your exclusive criteria to Bloggers College.
    I’ll call it “BloggerCollegeSurvivors.com”
    For those who’s feelings are hurt by Bloggers College abusive exclusions of men!

    ;>{
    ^ That’s a tear.

  • EMSDG said:

    We are all sinners and I get that pastors and leaders sin too. But it feels like a betrayal (and one I know others have experienced too) when top SGM leadership repudiate with their lives the things I learned for years under their leadership… things I sought to practice (trying to follow them as they followed the Lord)… things I accepted correction for when I didn’t practice them… We talked at church about the value of learning to LOVE correction, and see it as a gift – even if it wasn’t perfectly delivered.
    And then witness the last few months… realizing how much was hidden (when they had claimed that they lived openly with each other and before their churches)… seeing them display disdain for correction, or wait until the last minute to issue minimal public or private apologies, in a way that seemed more concerned with reputation than reconciliation…

    I would agree that this has been quite disappointing. In other words we have found that a lot of what the leaders claimed about themselves was a facade and not the truth. This includes actions they would require of others and not do themselves under similar situations.

    This hypocrisy of pastors sure would be a reason for regular church members to loose heart. Maybe C.J. Mahaney should have given this example in his message at Together for the Gospel about loosing heart. ;-)

  • Kris said (#278),

    “10. When it’s discovered that I blackmailed / coerced someone, we will decide to move our Bloggers College and organizational headquarters to some random location…and then we will pretend that the move had nothing to do with the revelation that I really am The Worst Blogger I Know™.”

    Please keep Raleigh, North Carolina in mind if you ever move the Bloggers College. Dee and I would be happy to have you!

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Fried fish…..

    I don’t remember where I read this, but apparently in the latest version of Peacemaker, Sande made some revisions and admitted that his book raised confusion in situations where you have a clear victim and a clear evildoer. His original book was, yes, the group hug for two sinful people having a conflict, where both need to change and both have sin that contributes to the problem.

    That does not work for pedophiles, and abusive leaders or wifebeaters, etc. So he tried to clarify that sometimes the problem is on one side and the other is a victim. I don’t have a new edition to check this out but supposedly he did try to fix his mistake.

    Gothard was the same way. Submit to daddy, husband, boss, with no place to NOT submit to wicked fathers, wicked husbands, wicked bosses and leaders. Simplistic and not helpful when dealing with wickedness.

    I am very disappointed with AoR, they do seem to fall into this moral equivalency stuff by the boatload.

    I don’t think godly people will be fooled. My own pastor read the report and said AoR missed the whole point that the upset hurt and angry bloggers are the direct result of SGM. It should have been a flag waving, he said, and they just did not get it. (we have a local SGM that has produced plenty of negative stories).

    God will send a revival. God will pour out his spirit on all who seek Him. I will be praying that everyone reading here enters into a deeper walk with the lord, and into the fullness of joy. God can give back double for all that the enemy tries to steal.

  • BeenThere

    From SGM’s perspective (and probably AoR’s as well) gossip and slander is any information that is shared among the lowly church members that is negative in any way about their spiritual leaders. They believe any negative information, complaint, etc. from any member must be submitted to the leaders themselves and never with anyone else. They are to trust that their leaders will do the right thing, and if the leaders disagree with the complaint then the member is to accept this. If the member still believes they are right then they are to simply put this information in God’s hands and leave it there. This works IF you have leaders that are responsive to both their members and to God. However if over time it becomes apparent that the leaders are not listening, and in fact continuing to go in the wrong direction then what are members to do?

    In an earlier post I talked about the American colonists and their dealings with the British Government. At first the colonists submitted private letters to the King and to Parliament, and if you read these letters you will be thoroughly impressed with their humility, loyalty, and desire to serve their King. They practically pleaded with the King to uphold the original charters and respect British Law as it applied to all of its citizens including those in the American Colonies. But after a long time of being ignored, and even having things get worse they eventually had to go from private correspondence to public criticism. When they did this they were accused of treason and rebellion. But they had simply exhausted all other efforts.

    When members of a church or organization have tried time after time to get their leaders attention, and nothing has worked then they have to go public. The question should not be why all of this information is being shared on the blogs, but WHY did it come to this point at all.

    In countries such as Russia, China, North Korea, and Venezuela where the leaders maintain a tight control over their people they realize this requires that they keep a very tight control on the flow of information. Spiritual leaders have learned this lesson as well. They intimidate their members into silence by inferring that anything negative said among members is sinful. They too know that maintaining control over the flow of information is necessary to maintain control over the people.

    It appears that AoR wanted to engage in the typical reconciliation process in a case like this where they slap the ministry on the wrist and convince all the members that everything will be ok as long as they trust their leaders again. They know this only works for those who are still willing to drink the kool-aid. They know the bloggers will see right through this so they go ahead and demonize them in hopes of putting distance between the blogs and the people they still need to fool.

  • Todd Wilhelm

    Richard Baxter “The Reformed Pastor”

    Hence also it is that men do so magnify their own opinions, and are as censorious of any that differ from them in lesser things, as if it were all one to differ from them and from God. They expect that all should conform to their judgment, as if they were the rulers of the Church’s faith; and while we cry down papal infallibility, too many of us would be popes ourselves, and have all stand to our determination, as if we were infallible. It is true, we have more modesty than expressly to say so; we pretend that it is only the evidence of truth, that appeareth in our reasons, that we expect men should yield to, and our zeal is for the truth and not for ourselves: but as that must needs be taken for truth which is ours, so our reasons must needs be taken for valid; and if they be but freely examined, and be found fallacious, as we are exceedingly backward to see it ourselves, because they are ours, so we are angry that it should be disclosed to others. We so espouse the cause of our errors, as if all that were spoken against them were spoken against our persons, and we were heinously injured to have our arguments thoroughly confuted, by which we injured the truth and the souls of men. The matter is come to this pass, through our pride, that if an error or fallacious argument do fall under the patronage of a reverend name, (which is nothing rare,) we must either allow it the victory, and give away the truth, or else become injurious to that name that doth patronize it; for though you meddle not with their persons, yet do they put themselves under all the strokes which you give their arguments; and feel them as sensibly as if you had spoken of themselves, because they think it will follow in the eyes of others, that weak arguing is a sign of a weak man. If, therefore, you consider it your duty to shame their errors and false reasonings, by discovering their nakedness, they take it as if you shamed their persons; and so their names must be a garrison or fortress to their mistakes, and their reverence must defend all their sayings from attack.
    So high indeed are our spirits, that when it becomes the duty of any one to reprove or contradict us, we are commonly impatient both of the matter and the manner. We love the man who will say as we say, and be of our opinion, and promote our reputation, though, in other respects, he be less worthy of our esteem. But he is ungrateful to us who contradicteth us and differeth from us, and dealeth plainly with us as to our miscarriages and telleth us of our faults. Especially in the management of our public arguings, where the eye of the world is upon us, we can scarcely endure any contradiction or plain dealing. I know that railing language is to be abhorred and that we should be as tender of each other’s reputation, as our fidelity to the truth will permit. But our pride makes too many of us think all men contemn us, that do not admire us, yea, and admire all we say, and submit their judgments to our most palpable mistakes. We are so tender, that a man can scarcely touch us but we are hurt; and so high-minded, that a man who is not versed in complimenting, and skilled in flattery above the vulgar rate, can scarcely tell how to handle us so observantly, and fit our expectations at every turn, without there being some word, or some neglect, which our high spirits will fasten on, and take as injurious to our honor.

    I confess I have often wondered that this most heinous sin should be made so light of, and thought so consistent with a holy frame of heart and life, when far less sins are, by ourselves, proclaimed to be so D**nable in our people. And I have wondered more, to see the difference between godly preachers and ungodly sinners, in this respect. When we speak to drunkards, worldlings, or ignorant unconverted persons, we disgrace them to the utmost, and lay it on as plainly as we can speak, and tell them of their sin, and shame, and misery; and we expect that they should not only bear all patiently, but take all thankfully. And most that I deal with do take it patiently, and many gross sinners will commend the closest preachers most, and will say that they care not for hearing a man that will not tell them plainly of their sins. But if we speak to godly ministers against their errors or their sins, if we do not honor them and reverence them, and speak as smoothly as we are able to speak, yea, if we mix not commendations with our reproofs, and if the applause be not predominant, so as to drown all the force of the reproof or confutation, they take it as almost an insufferable injury. Brethren, I know this is a sad confession, but that all this should exist among us, should be more grievous to us than to be told of it. Could the evil be hid, I should not have disclosed it, at least so openly in the view of all. But, alas! it is long ago open to the eyes of the world. We have dishonored ourselves by idolizing our honor; we print our shame, and preach our shame, thus proclaiming it to the whole world. Some will think that I speak overcharitably when I call such persons godly men, in whom so great a sin doth so much prevail. I know, indeed, that where it is predominant, not hated, and bewailed, and mortified in the main, there can be no true godliness; and I beseech every man to exercise a strict jealousy and search of his own heart. But if all be graceless that are guilty of any, or of most of the fore-mentioned discoveries of pride, the Lord be merciful to the ministers of this land, and give us quickly another spirit; for grace is then a rarer thing than most of us have supposed it to be.

  • Stunned

    5 Years and Been There,

    Great posts. Thank you for sharing them.

  • Mary

    I think the report focusing so much on the blogs makes it like it was an evaluation of blogs vs. sgm – who is right? Conflict is not about who is right…. The report only goes to prove that those who were suspicious from the beginning were right to be so. I love the idea of Bloggers college. Too funny.

  • Uriah

    Thanks Todd… that quote makes me want to read the entire book. Sounds like Mr. Baxter understands what appears to be incomprehensible to SGM and A o R.

  • Mary

    …and really it astounds me so much that I read it days ago and had to process it. Really, it is a bit like SGM theology. Evaluate the sin of those that have been abused. It’s just not right. The blogs should have been left out of the report. I would have more respect if they evaluated those they were “paid” to evaluate, SGM. Then, if they were truly concerned they could have come on here and expressed a concern that the abuse is being addressed and please consider giving SGM room for repentance…sigh.

  • Mary

    Furthermore, those being condemned in this way had no just way to respond to the accusations…

    Um…I wonder what that feels like..

    some under SGM authority were condemned without anyone hearing their heart and with no grace or recourse.

    SGM had a way to respond. They could have come on the blog and apologized. I know from the stories that many of the leaders know who the posters are. If even once they had come on and said, “we were wrong in the handling of this particular situation and we are sorry and wish to express our repentance…please contact _____ so that we can express our sorrow.” Oh yes, they had a chance to respond. Some of us did not.

  • Mary

    If it were not for my wonderful new church…I would be exhausted by the leaders of the body of Christ today. So many pharisees. Jesus did not come to call the righteous but the sinners. He did not win their hearts by constantly pointing out their sin. They need to ask themselves, how did Jesus win a person’s heart? This blog will never stop until they do and they express true repentance. And, what about leaving the 99 and going after the one. Although this was encouraged by AOR I would not hold my breath. It is hard for someone to repent when they have just been puffed up about how the other person wronged them so… Not a biblical way to encourge someone to repentance. Scripture says for them to leave their gift at the altar and seek out those that are offended. SGM paid them to say, bad blogs….talk about a waste of money.

  • Todd Wilhelm

    Mary,

    Here is what it feels like to me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVieJh1Jq1Q&feature=related

    Not unexpected. Throughout history might makes right. Justice is rarely done for the poor, the downtrodden, the little man of this world.

  • Mary

    Todd W. – I once had that look of shock in my eyes. Now, I am more shocked that a church that pats themselves on the back for their theology can miss the simpleness of the gospel. Things like Grace, loving others better than yourself, looking out more for someone else’s interest than your own, leaving the 99, loving JESUS’ sheep (not SGMs), etc.

    aor – has evaluated the hearts of the people here, lumped them into one group…and label them bitter, angry etc. but they have never met me.

    I am a woman madly in love with Jesus Christ; God and His people are number 1 in my life; I am a servant; I am a giver; I am an oak of righteous; I am dearly loved; holy….not because I am free of sin, as none of us are…but because I am a naked soul clothed in the righteousness of Christ Jesus.

    I have no good in myself to declare or defend. Christ is my only defense. I am more free than CJ.

    I am thankful for my SGM experience. Being shunned and excommunicated and having communicated to me that Jesus no longer loves and accepts me and that I no longer have a place in the body of Christ…has only served to make me that much more grateful that Christ is my righteousness. And now when I am giving my all: money, time, service, and heart to my church…I do not grow weary..only thankful because I know what it is like to be kept from serving and having a purpose in the kingdom. I have the gift of knowing something most others don’t. So no. I am not bitter or angry..I am free. So, no bitterness here – only thanks!

  • Todd Wilhelm

    1 .Rise up, O men of God!
    Have done with lesser things.
    Give heart and mind and soul and strength
    to serve the King of kings.

    2. Rise up, O men of God!
    The kingdom tarries long.
    Bring in the day of brotherhood
    and end the night of wrong.

    3. Rise up, O men of God!
    The church for you doth wait,
    her strength unequal to her task;
    rise up, and make her great!

    4. Lift high the cross of Christ!
    Tread where his feet have trod.
    As brothers of the Son of Man,
    rise up, O men of God!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Ew7d8bwZU&feature=related

  • Mary

    Amen Todd!
    Reconciliation is possible. What is the point of leadership that doesn’t lead….

  • CLC has an announcement of the SGM move on their blog:

    http://www.covlife.org/blog/sovereign_grace_ministries_relocation

    It is kind of a general announcement that doesn’t say much but does thank various men etc. At least we know one church is announcing it.

  • Mary

    So which of you are going to open “The World’s Greatest Blogging Store.” I want to shop there so I don’t do any independent blogging thinking on my own.

  • Mary

    We could hold a T4TB conference and invite other bloggers that agree with everything we say. We could endorse eachothers books and make lot so money! Jim from SGM refuge could write a book “How to blog from your basement in you pajamas” LOL.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Moving to Louisville also is a bold statement towards a closer relationship with the SBC. I wonder if all of the current loyal SGM churches are up for the closeness with the SBC. Or conversely is the SBC ready for the SGM fold to move into town

    Hmmm, that made me think of the old the cartoon “The Wuzzles”.

    Each character was a cross between two animals and they lived in the Land of Wuz. There was Bumblelion (bumble bee and lion), Rhinokey (rhinocerous and monkey) Butterbear (butterfly and bear), Moosel (moose and seal), Eleroo (Elephant and kangeroo), Hoppopotamus (hippo and rabbit). Remember the theme tune:

    “Here in the Land of Wuz, they’re havin’ twice the fun!
    ‘Cuz every single thing is really two-in-one!
    A little bit of this… a little bit of that!
    And when you add it up you get a lot of laughs!
    Oooh they got originality – driven with a split personality!
    ‘We’re the Wuzzles’ (Ooooooooh, yeah!)
    ‘We’re the Wuzzles’ (Oooh oh, yeah!)
    Two times the fun, wrapped up and rolled into one!
    Oooh they got originality – living with a split personality!
    We’re the Wuzzles (Ooooooooh, yeah!)
    We’re the Wuzzles (Oooh oh, yeah!)
    Two times the fun, wrapped up in one!”

    What would that make Mohler and Mahaney? A Mo-haney? A Ceej-Al?

  • B.R. Clifton

    Been There #304:
    I believe you have “hit the nail on the head” with that post. First of all, the AOR folks are professional ecclesiastics just like the SGM “big dogs”. Essentially they belong to the same union or fraternity and therefore owe allegiance to each other before all else. No “fraternity brother” wants to be seen as throwing mud on one of his own. They will stick together and go out of their way to overlook one another’s faults even when those faults are proven to cause serious damage among the congregants (they call it laity). We’ve seen it in action among the Catholic priest fraternity and their unwillingness to come out against those who commit heinous crimes against the people. The same things is far more pervasive in Protestant and Evangelical circles than one realizes. Currently the SBC has a big problem in the area of sexual abuse although it’s not being publicized. The point of this is the ecclesiastical fraternity (the professionals) stick together through thick and thin and are loathe to take part (in any form whatsoever) in criticism of a brother ecclesiastic.

    What AOR has done is intended as eye salve to show the lowly laity “see, we’ve done something, but we find greater fault in another corner.”, thereby diverting attention from the real problem to a factitious one.

    The rank and file (laity) has every right (and responsibility) to hold the professionals to the standards they preach. Moreover, they have the responsibility to insure they are not only preaching to true biblical standards, but walking them as well. If they don’t adhere to true biblical standards, then the rank and file has not only the right but the responsibility to go where true biblical conduct and preaching/teaching is happening. Every household head is responsible to God to insure the wholesome spiritual upbringing of those God has placed in his care. The same goes for single mothers.

    Anytime you find Criticism, Negativism, condemnation, and overlording by the bozos on the platform, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit and go find a place where the shepherds are truly interested in feeding the sheep. It may take you awhile to find it, but the search will be well worth it and you’ll never look back except to be grateful for not being in an environment like that any more.
    :beat

  • ATC

    Well. Read the report and now read up to comment 320. Some excellent insights from collective wisdom and multiple decades-worth of experience in SGM.

    I’d love the people at AoR (who are surely reading these responses?) to respond.

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • justawife

    A little bothered by this on CLC church blog:

    “We would like to specifically thank all the Sovereign Grace leaders—C.J. Mahaney, Gary Ricucci, Jeff Purswell, Bob Kauflin, Tommy Hill and Paul Medler. We will miss these men and their families. They have invested their lives and gifts into this church in numerous ways. We are grateful for these dear friends, and we pray that this next chapter in their ministry is fruitful and effective for the cause of Christ. ”

    I know they are addressing the men that are currently leaving but where’s Larry Tomczak’s “Thanks”? He got blackmailed and slandered by his partner in ministry, CJ, and he never gets a mention ANYWHERE at CLC (except maybe on the history page which now has been edited.

    Let’s thank CJ and not Larry? After CJ blackmailed Larry to get the church to adopt the theology HE wanted and, years later, fled CLC never to come back or even deal with the issues he had with Josh Harris et. al. Larry deserves mention and it really bothers me that it seems that at CLC no one cares about Larry.

    Larry Tomczak invested his life and gifts into CLC until he was “de-gifted” (as is commonly referenced) and he never got this loving recognition. In fact any mention of “Will Larry come back and give a message?” at CLC is never addressed.

  • Patti

    Umm, I just gotta rant here a minute, no need to ‘mind’ me.

    T4G states:
    “We deny that any Christian can truly be a faithful disciple apart from the teaching, discipline, fellowship, and accountability of a congregation of fellow disciples, organized as a Gospel Church. We further deny that the Lord’s Supper can faithfully be administered apart from the right practice of Church discipline.”

    Is this why they are all sticking together? Because they believe that the people SGM/Mahaney hurt and either kicked out of their fellowship or shunned so bad that they left church altogether have now become unfaithful disciples and deserve to be ignored or chastised? This is a very scary statement of affirmation and denial. We are all vulnerable to cult control if we believe that organized religion is that essential to our walk with God.

    Gathering together as believers is a privilege and it is a natural desire for people of like minds to do so. But where does the Bible say that we cannot remember our Lord’s sacrifice without the official organization to administer the bread and wine. Are they still afraid that we will drop Jesus on the floor? Their declaration is all about control. Nothing else. My distrust is growing towards anyone’s motives who are a part of T4G. And that should make them sad, not mad.

    What do you think of when you say that someone glorifies God. I think that means someone who so reflects God that they make you want to know God and believe in God and serve God. I do not think that T4G glorifies God. They glorify Man. And not just man but the male man.

    We can never expect any of them to stick up for the victims of SGM. Not even the Lutherans. Remember back when I mentioned that I thought AOR’S logo was creepy? When another commenter told me that it was just a harmless Luther’s rose I did some research on it. It’s a lot more than that. It’s origins are creepy. It does represent secrecy and control. It is about organizations more than individual people. I don’t know if Martin Luther himself was just a pawn in a greater scheme, but anyway…interesting history.

    Just as Paul predicted, wolves have for a long time infiltrated the church but we more than just tolerate them, we practically worship them.

    But the impetus is on us now. Bloggers, do not let up. Especially all of you who consistently share the pure gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s love on these sites. I appreciate you so much!

  • Bridget

    Patti –

    May I enquire where you got the T4G statement? These gatherings of leading(?) men and their statements are a concern to me. Why do I feel like it is a gathering of the wolves to ravage the fields? What is bizarre is how they seem to be oblivious to what they are “really” doing in the name of God.

  • Ozymandias

    Re: Bridget #324 —

    See T4G Affirmations and Denials, Article XIV, found here: http://t4g.org/about/affirmations-and-denials-2/

  • Defender

    Patti,
    I echo Bridget’s question.
    I have dear friends who go faithfully to T4G every time.
    They are “young” in their faith, and we (Defended & Me) fellowship regularly with them.

    I really want to know for research.

    I also want to know more about this “creepy” secret Lutheran society you speak of.
    Where can I go to find out more?

  • Defender

    Thanks Ozy

  • Bridget

    Ozy, thanks. Not in agreement with everything they say, especially in light of the use of “Gospel” this and “Gospel” that all over the place. To be honest, I don’t know what they mean by that term anymore. I wish they would define it. When I read those articles, it seemed to me that they were “adding” to scripture what is not “clearly” there.

  • Peach

    Been There in 205 said:

    Really good point! That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

  • Peach

    I’ll try that again, with the quote this time.

    Thanks for this insight. It’s so obvious once you’ve seen it, and yet… so easy to forget the history of all this.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Bridget #328:
    In the context that these men use the word “Gospel”, it’s just a buzz word they throw around to impress what they consider to be the “unlearned”. The whole context of the Gospel is freedom in Christ; Freedom from the law of sin and death as Paul articulated in Rom. 8. The gospel that these men preach is quite different than that of Scripture. They preach condemnation and bondage. They have so muddied the word Gospel than one needs go back to scripture to find the true meaning. Don’t accept any definitions from these monkeys. They would only twist it around to their own purposes.

    Patti #323:
    That T4G affirmation (or denial) is outright heresy at it’s best. Church history is repleat with men and women who have achieved and maintained a right and close relationship with the Lord in spite of the organized institutional church. Many of them were persecuted (and killed, as in murdered) by those who were in authority of that very institution. As to the Lord’s Supper statement, it is the individual’s responsibility to examine his or her self as to whether they can participate worthily. The individual is responsible to God for that examination and God will judge whether the individual has judged correctly. If an individual is in open and flagrant sin like the one mentioned in 1 Cor. then the Body, is responsible to take corrective action.
    Your statement about wolves having infiltrated the church is sadly very true. Many of these wolves in their hunger for blood and supremacy have wangled their way into influencial positions. Some have stepped on the necks of their “fellow believers” as in the case of Mahaney/Tomzak. Others no doubt come to mind. The point is that this is not the actions of Godly men doing godly work for the Glory of God. This is the underhanded evil actions of wolves come to ravage the flock of God.

    The advent of internet blogs has come at a time when the flock of God had no other avenue of redress concerning the abuses committed by the arrogant and haughty clergy. What these bozos fail to realize is that the church is not their closed and highly controlled organization. The church is God’s people; all of them. NBow all of God’s people have redress of their grievances via the internet and believer’s blogs like this one. Kudos to Kris for having the backbone to start it and maintain it under what has to be a lot of negative pressure from the Big Bad Wolves.

    ATC #321:
    Don’t expect that to ever happen. AOR is actually a hidden part ofthe problem rather than any sort of solution.
    :beat

  • newbie

    #322: Larry is not edited out of clc’s history….http://www.covlife.org/about/story

    i doubt their intention in the announcement was to slight larry. it seems like that were simply showing appreciation for the men currently with SGM, who are/were members of CLC.

  • Defender

    Bridget, I agree.
    Gospel this & Gospel that.
    Okay great! (Whatever.)

    I’m planning on spending eternity with Jesus.
    Not the Gospel.

    The gospel is not King of kings & Lord of lords…..
    (I could go on, but I think I make my point.)

  • justawife

    #331: Why CJ deserves more appreciate than Larry ever got (btw the story was recently edited after the Blackmail issue was revealed. I applaud CLC for putting Larry in the history) puzzles me. After all, this is a guy that ran from his sin, took back his apology, fleed and deserted his congregation, and then made them out to be the “bad guys” in his messages (e.g. “When a Pastor loses heart”). He blames it all on them, yet they still “thank” him? I can understand the other men like Riccucci and Kauflin but CJ wronged the CLC congregation. The last thing he deserves is an appreciative statement from CLC after he abandoned his congregation and then badmouthed them (claiming they were making threats against him and Carolyn when none of this was true). Disgusts me how much he gets a pass simply for being a “gifted gospel preacher”.

  • anon

    Patti, thanks for that disturbing observation over at T4G.

    I suppose then that ALL Christians in say, oh… China (and other openly hostile to Christians nations) are not “truly faithful disciples” because they are not “fellowshipping in an organized Gospel Church” receiving “teaching” and “discipline”?. Some are just trying to put food on the table and not be martyred! Thanks, T4G. You so clearly have the corner on the “True Gospel” and are helping the cause so very much. Gosh, what would Jesus do without you??

    LOLOLOLOLOLOL! I would love to see CJ dropped of in say, oh I don’t know, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, eh… Taliban controlled Pakistan and see how “truly a faithful disciple” he is.

    Give me a freaking break. :barf:

  • Persona

    Justawife 334

    It does seem that Joshua is choosing the highest road possible, though it seems a little too high, to me. Afterall, none of the guys who left CLC even said good-by to the congregation, unless you count CJ’s transfer request to Solid Rock, which I don’t.

    It is sad for me to note all the families who will be torn apart when the colony moves to KY. And be aware, they will all will spin their individual yarns about their reasons for leaving, everything from financial to missional. I wish they would all be honest, just this once.

    I guess the lies and half-truths are the hardest things for me to stomach. Imagine what reform would transpire if one truth followed another, and another..?

  • MAK

    justawife and persona…my take on the thanks is just yes, taking the higher road…I also look at it as “here…let me get the door for you…take care…God Bless” CLC will no longer have the pressure of having SGM “in house”. CLC can now be their own church.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Persona #336:
    Once person or organization of persons sets out on the raod of lies and deceit, there’s no way out without losing face. Once the first lie is told a second will necessarily follow soon afterward to either cover or bolster the first one. Then will come a third and so on until it becomes a way of life and truth and fiction become so clouded the person (or group) no longer know the difference between the two. I believe that’s the case here. These men have lived on a strict diet of lies, deceit, and half-truths for so long they now believe what they are saying. The bible has a lot to say about habitual liars, and none of it is good.
    It will all come back to bit them – in the end.
    :beat

  • 5yearsinPDI

    “We deny that any Christian can truly be a faithful disciple apart from the teaching, discipline, fellowship, and accountability of a congregation of fellow disciples, organized as a Gospel Church. We further deny that the Lord’s Supper can faithfully be administered apart from the right practice of Church discipline.”

    Whew. That is strong language. I guess it eliminates Paul in the wilderness for 14 years. Richard Wurmbrand in solitary confinement prison for many years. Muslims all over the place in “closed” countries who are blessed to meet in a secret with just a couple other believers, hoping not to get caught and executed. All the missionaries in the 1800s who labored- often at first- alone for years. Certainly eliminates David Brainerd for long periods of time. Then we have the Soviet Christians who got caught and sent to the gulag. Not exactly a place for organized gospel churches.

    Good catch. I am at my creeped out quotient for the day with this one. May God bring true revival.

  • Moniker

    5yearsinPDI (#339) – I’m with you. I am appalled. That also eliminates the thousands (or maybe millions?) of Christians like myself who have followed what we believe the Lord is telling us to do in leaving the institutional church. I’m not a “faithful disciple” since I’m not “doing church” the way they do. And just what the heck is a “Gospel Church”? There’s that use of “gospel” as an adjective again. It drives me nuts!

  • Patti

    Bridget, here is one site I stumbled on when I was searching for the history of Luther’s seal. Oh, and I did not mean to imply that there was a Lutheran secret society. But just that the seal itself has a controversial historic tie to one, which confirmed to me that I had reason to doubt it’s pure representation of Christianity.

  • Ozymandias

    Apologies for length. For some additional discussion/debate about what is more and more appearing to be the use of “gospel” and “gospel-centered” as shorthand for we hold to these specific secondary and tertiary positions, as well as these particular implications of the gospel, see the following:

    1. Ed Stezter’s interview of Scot McKnight (blogger at Jesus Creed) — http://www.edstetzer.com/2012/02/the-king-jesus-gospel-a-conver.html. Jesus Creed actually has a lot of discussion on this topic.

    2. David Fitch’s blog, Reclaiming the Mission — for example, the following post from January 2012: http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/the-mark-driscoll-fiasco-what-the-latest-flap-teaches-us-about-the-neo-reformed-movement/

    3. Roger Olson’s recent multi-part review of Crossway Press/Gospel Coalition’s The Gospel as Center: Renewing our Faith and Reforming our Ministry Practices; the review starts here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/03/part-1-of-a-new-series-responses-to-the-gospel-as-center-by-members-of-the-gospel-coalition/

    4. Boar’s Head Tavern has had some discussion about this in the past. The following is taken from a discussion back in 2010:

    [The] problem isn’t with complementarianism per se, but with the assertion that there’s an ever-so-thin-and-permeable membrane separating the gospel and complementarian thought. As I see it, CBMW and many in my own theological camp are in somewhat of a bind. They know that the complementarian/egalitarian debate can’t be cast as a first-order, gospel-or-die issue, but yet they don’t want people to walk away thinking that it’s simply a garden variety 2nd order issue where you believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want. Hence, you find attempts to craft a space for complementarianism that sits somewhere between a first order (i.e. gospel) and a second order issue. You can see the same thing in Article XVI of the T4G Affirmation and Denial Statement. Article XVI’s affirmation doesn’t say that complementarianism equals the gospel, but insists that it is a “testimony to the gospel” — yet there’s no explanation what the statement means by this phrase. Moreover, the last sentence of Article XVI indicates that a church can’t ”confuse” these issues (and relax its complementarian stance) without “damaging its witness to the gospel.” Note first that there’s no definition of what ‘confuse’ means here, and there’s also no suggestion as to which interpretive standard is being used to measure what would constitute said ‘confusion’. As with the affirmation, the denial in Article XVI hasn’t said that complementarianism and the gospel are one and the same, but it has nonetheless intimated that there’s a very, very thin line separating the two. It’s at best a quasi-argument.

  • trueblue-

    Interesting link…I actually went to church with his Grandson for about 5 years. His Dad (Carl’s Son) had disavowed the church and called it a cult according to his grandson.

  • Unassimilated

    Ozy, I thought this guy said it best. It was one of his reasons for leaving the SBC –

    “The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ” — Jimmy Carter, Former US president, Nobel Prize Winner

  • Unassimilated

    Ozy –

    The Church has been full of stupidity when it comes to women. For those that think Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, here is why –

    Pope Gregory the Great’s homily on Luke’s gospel dated 14 September 591 first suggested that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute: “She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary, we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark. And what did these seven devils signify, if not all the vices? … It is clear, brothers, that the woman previously used the unguent to perfume her flesh in forbidden acts.”(homily XXXIII)

    In 1969 the Vatican, during the papacy of Paul VI, without commenting on Pope Gregory’s reasoning, implicitly rejected it by separating Luke’s sinful woman, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdala via the Roman Missal.

    Just think of the centuries of misinformation & repression that caused.

  • Fried Fish

    gonna put on my Gospel shoes,
    gonna ditch these independent thinking blues,
    gonna go where they tell me what to believe,
    who to talk to and what gifts to receive.

    When you go outside and it’s cold your *ss freezes,
    and that’s what it’s like when you listen to Jesus,
    Common sense things, though it’s hard to obey him.
    But that’s why the Father let evil men slay him.
    Grace beyond measure and there for the asking,
    But hypocrites want to control its unmasking.
    They won’t go in, and they won’t let you enter,
    Not till you cough up your last fifty center,
    Say the word “FREEDOM”, they don’t want to hear it,
    Come back some other time, Holy Spirit.

    gonna put on my Gospel shoes,
    gonna ditch these independent thinking blues,
    gonna go where they tell me what to believe,
    who to talk to and what gifts to receive.

    Isaiah 1:18
    Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

  • Ozymandias

    Re: Unassimilated #345 and #346 — To be clear, the text re: complementarianism wasn’t about complementarianism specifically, but about how people in conservative evangelicalism can raise second-order and third-order issues to the level of “that which is of first importance.”

  • Unassimilated

    Hey Ozy –

    Got it. In a world where there are more reported Christian denominations, 38,000, than SGM members/people served, 28,000, there would have to be
    an amazing amount of trivial things that get elevated to levels that they should not. EVERYWHERE! Many small details do add up. I think we will all
    find that we were complete dingbats in many ways theologicaly when we are before the throne.

    The quote you posted placed complementarianism between a first and second order issue as its example. If I were a woman, heck, as a man with a
    Mom, Wife, Kids, Aunts, etc., I think the issue is a paramount one. Does not change Jesus’s example.

    In my experience, Churches that make much ado about their details & differences, tend to be the ones that usually miss the bigger picture & point
    of Jesus.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • ATC

    Ozymandias, 343 – Thanks for those links :D

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Rick

    I join those who thought the post on CLC’s website regarding the exit of Mahaney and others to KY
    was weird–silence sometimes is golden, let the SGM power structure’s actions speak for themselves
    without comment. It robs the current pastoral staff of credibility–and deepens the cynicism of
    those who remain. A dysfunction of church leadership seems to always be the need to cover up for
    other leaders, regardless of the detrimental consequences to those leadership is supposed to be
    serving.

    I have great empathy for those at CLC in
    particular. I have a high opinion of Josh Harris, he has done some very courageous things well
    and early in the process since Brent’s documents were released. But I would caution those who are
    investing a lot of of trust in him, and others, to bring radical reformation to CLC and other “dissenting”
    SGM churches.

    The interesting question for JH and all those who are being looked to for the reformation of SGM is
    this: What did you know and when did you know it regarding the information released in Detwiler’s
    documents? If you had awareness of the behaviors of CJ and other SGM leadership before Detwiler
    sent the documents to the SGM pastors (before the Wikileaks), why was there no expression of
    concern or action taken? Why did it take the Wikileaks publication before any visible actions
    were taken?

  • PDI Past

    God must be saddened by how many times this basic process has unfolded in the body that is supposed to be the Bride of Christ. But, then I remember that He is surprised by nothing. He knows of the flaws, the free will, the fallen nature – the mess that we are prone to create because of our often prideful behavior. He gave us a way to change that nature; to turn our back on that old man and walk with Him. The sadness comes when we don’t take that path.

    I am grateful for what I learned those many years ago from some very caring Brothers at PDI/FCC. They led me more closely in a true relationship with Christ.

    It was also there that I experienced the greatest hurt in my journey as a Christian and clearly learned the error of placing too much trust in men leading a church.

    God has used those experiences to grow me as a Christian and as a leader. When I fall short as a Brother or as a Pastor, I am quickly reminded of the importance of honest confession and asking for forgiveness. I still fall short – I have reminded the congregation often, “If I haven’t let you down or disappointed you, you probably haven’t known me very long.”

    Whether or not the leaders that are supposed to guide SGM ever change is an unknown. I hope and pray that they do. Unless someone with earthly power is either harmed by them or is willing to carefully review the facts over these past years and “follow the money”, it is beyond our abilities to change it.

    Come Lord Jesus; Come Quickly!

  • Moniker

    Rick said: The interesting question for JH and all those who are being looked to for the reformation of SGM is this: What did you know and when did you know it regarding the information released in Detwiler’s documents? If you had awareness of the behaviors of CJ and other SGM leadership before Detwiler sent the documents to the SGM pastors (before the Wikileaks), why was there no expression of
    concern or action taken? Why did it take the Wikileaks publication before any visible actions were taken?

    Exactly! This has perplexed me from the very beginning. These questions have yet to be answered, and that makes me suspicious of the whole lot of them despite the “progress” that has been made.

    (Note to Guy: There’s something goofy going on with the comment box now. And I like the new look!)

  • Bridget

    Moniker –

    Funny on the comment button! It sums up the attitude of SGM leadership. :P

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I would love to see CJ dropped of in say, oh I don’t know, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, eh… Taliban controlled Pakistan and see how “truly a faithful disciple” he is.

    Me too, Anon! Seriously.

    Didn’t someone comment earlier that when CJ gave his “farewell address” to the CLC congregation that he walked off with a BODYGUARD accompanying him?

    Really?!? Because that speaks volumes.

  • Stunned

    Rick,

    Your comment #351 was a good one, but the latter part was great. Thank you for sharing it.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I’ve attended a LOT of Christian conferences over my lifetime and the ocassional guy who left the stage after speaking with a “bodyguard” awaiting him was typically exposed down the road as having MAJOR ISSUES. Needless to say, they’re no longer around.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Come on, CJ was addressing his “local” church, “HIS” church, his very own brothers and sisters-in-Christ, the “happiest place on earth!” That would be like a dad needing a bodyguard to accompany him as he spoke to his own family. That’s crazy!

    Can someone verify as to whether that actually took place?

  • SamMcGee

    CJ’s body guard was one of the policeman who attend the church and serve on the security team. I know him and he is a good guy.

    At a later family meeting, the pastors had security protection. The pastors were sitting in the front row and had plain clothes policeman at either end.

    Unless they received specific threats, it was total overkill. The message it sent was ” the congregation is the problem and we, the pastors, are the victims”

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I guess I can somewhat see the need for security in churches in this day and age, but it really bugs the heck out of me. It bothers me to even type it. I know too many missionaires who put their lives (and their family’s!) in danger.

    It wreaks of the celebrity status mindset, “I’m so special, so high-profile, I’m a target for someone out there. Me, me, me!”

  • A Kindred Spirit

    The fact for me remains that most of the Christian speakers I’ve observed through the years that bodyguards ended up being exposed as having major issues and “had a great fall.”

  • A Kindred Spirit

    *that “had” bodyguards…

    The comment box is doing something funky.

  • Guy

    I fixed the comment box problem. I was going to get snarky and comment on how it isn’t the site, it’s really you, but that would be over the top…. ;)

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Haha…thanks Guy.

  • Mecry Triumps Over Judgement

    I found this article today called ‘Who Killed Ahithophel.’ It might be helpful for all involved: http://theresurgence.com/2012/04/22/who-killed-ahithophel

  • JeffB

    Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    “846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?
    Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head
    through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church,
    a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator
    and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed
    at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism
    as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church
    was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it
    or to remain in it.”

    T4G Affirmations and Denials:

    Article XIV

    “We affirm that the shape of Christian discipleship is congregational, and that God’s purpose
    is evident in faithful Gospel congregations, each displaying God’s glory in the marks of
    authentic ecclesiology.

    We deny that any Christian can truly be a faithful disciple apart from the teaching,
    discipline, fellowship, and accountability of a congregation of fellow disciples,
    organized as a Gospel Church. We further deny that the Lord’s Supper can faithfully be
    administered apart from the right practice of Church discipline.”

    Well, T4G isn’t there yet, but it’s a slippery slope.

  • Remnant

    AoR has set themselves up as authoritative practitioners of Biblical reconciliation within the Church and earn their living being paid to do so.

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have set themselves up as bloggers without credentialed expertise and pay to do so.

    Questions have been ringing in my heart for a week that compare and contrast the ministry of AoR v. Kris n’ Guy plus Jim to the Body of Christ.

    I have found one resounding response: Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have loved the Body best.

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have put in countless selfless hours spent moderating, writing, emailing, phone calling, seeking the truth, counseling, sharing tears and concern that far outweigh the efforts of the AoR employees.

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have proven they have the ears to hear, the eyes to see, the heart to understand the deep seated issues.

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have taken up the cause of the lowly.

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have freely given the Body of Christ a venue to talk, to think aloud, to share experiences, to encourage one another, to delve into the issues that plague some and to speak the Truth clearly without double-talk.

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim have been falsely accused and have had erroneous motivations ascribed to them unfairly by the paid “authority.”

    Kris n’ Guy plus Jim, thank you for exemplifying Christ when the paid experts failed. Those of us who have understanding, know the cost you have been willing to pay on the behalf of the Lord. You exemplify His love and the Body of Christ appreciates you and your sacrifices and efforts.

  • Oswald

    Brent’s latest post is about the SGM move. Posted last night.
    Not sure if anyone has mentioned it yet.

  • Rick

    Stunned, thank you for your kind words. The other puzzling thing to me regarding AoR’s report and the general tone of those criticizing those
    who comment on the blogs is the shallow judgment of their tone and language. I have some experience in pastoral care–one of the keys to
    mitigating conflict is to allow the free expression of the person’s complaint. Those I respect refer to this as listening to someone’s Psalm
    language. The language is raw, and in its most effective context, uncensored, if progress toward forgiveness, healing and reconciliation is to
    take place. If we look to the example of Scripture the Psalms, especially those written by David, provide a lovely picture into the grace God
    extends to us in that He listens to the honest expression of our hearts.

    The expectation that those who are hurting must conform their language (both verbal and body) and emotional affect to some standard of
    Stepford wife clinical presentation for it to be heard and validated is demeaning beyond description to those who have been harmed. I was
    stunned (no pun intended) to hear those who are supposed to be experts in working with hurting people to be so unkind in their evaluation.

    I had a wonderful pastor for many years who encouraged us to evaluate how situations were handled by whether “it looks like how Jesus would
    handle it”. The harshness of the words toward hurting people who have shared on these blogs didn’t pass my former pastor’s test–at least
    in my opinion.

    My hope for the AoR folks is that they will communicate with Kris, Guy and Jim at Refuge, and perhaps come to some common ground.

  • Bridget

    JeffB –

    That article stood out to me as well . . . not in a good way either. They’ve slipped as far as I am concerned. What they are declaring in that article is NOT biblical. They are creating a religion to fit their preferences.

    The other Article I found revealing was XVI. It was the longest Article, and it was to express their views on male and female roles in the church. By their statements in the last paragraph, they feel any other view diminishes the Gospel message in the particular church that holds that view. God is only allowed to work through a complementarian world view according to them.

  • Has anyone seen this?

    http://gracelouisville.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/sovereign-grace-ministries/

    Sure looks like some propaganda to try and hide C.J. Mahaney’s and SGM’s sin from people.

    The author of the blog sure doesn’t know the whole story.

  • a

    all AoR did was describe the monster in the room.

    AoR…to much emphasis on sin…no duh
    AoR…not enought education in Pastors College..no duh
    AoR…every one seems humble…no duh
    AoR…CJ is Pope like….no duh…
    AoR…Some of these offenses are from years ago..no duh
    Thanks kebler house cookies…

    I could have done the same observations 4 years ago…

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Rick 371….what a superbly excellent post. Thank you!

  • Ozymandias

    Steve240 #374: Thanks for the link. The church’s website is http://www.gracelouisville.org/gefc/staff.html. It’s an Evangelical Free Church congregation about 15-17 miles NE of SBTS.

  • B.R. Clifton

    It has occurred to me that there might be another not so obvious reason for SGM’s recent announcement of their impending move to Kentucky. All of their stated reasons aside, there are other factors that could be the real driving force behind the move.

    First, the catalitic release of the SGM documents by Brent Detwiller detailing a systematic history of abuse of power from top to bottom in SGM.
    Second, the birth of these blogs which brought so much more to light that the SGM “leadership” had fought so hard to keep under wraps. The blogs also served to band together those who had been abused and marginalized by SGM leadership into a group with a voice that could no longer be ignored.
    Third, some of the things berought to light involved criminal activity by some SGM leadership, such as blackmail, coercion, failure to report sexual abuse to the proper authorities. Then there is the long trail of continual lies and deceit. It’s just possible that they could be held accountable for a lot of this in court. In addition some who feel that AOR has failed in their task of reconciliation might seek legal justice.

    It has been reported that recently Mahaney and other SGM “leaders” have been seen at meetins sporting bodyguards as though they might have some concern for their own safety. And this in the face of their own parishoners!

    All this leads me to believe that perhaps SGM & Co. are moving to Kentucky so abruptly in order to avoid any such reprocussions. Once out of the state then any legal action would become difficult if not impossible. In other words, they are running to keep or get out of trouble. If this is true, they might escape civil action, but they cannot run far enought to escape the judgment of God who will most certainly have the last word.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I personally think it is a great exposé/post by Brent. JL is no more truthful than CJ..It is fitting they team up.

    Steve, post #374, I agree-I read the article and it totally seems like “Look here-ignore the man behind the curtain” type deal!

    (imagine kool aid server pictured here)

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Oh poor CJ. Poor baby. They treated you soooooo badly.

    (from the link above, Steve #374) A good intention – to take sin seriously – was unfortunately not balanced by an equally strong commitment to proclaim forgiveness. So while the intention of the ministry and much of C.J.’s preaching was about creating a culture of grace, a practice developed of confronting sin with only a veneer of forgiveness. Even C.J.’s own confession was not met with the hope of forgiveness and the goal of restoration, but instead ignited a firestorm of criticism, gossip and slander.

  • Ozymandias

    Thanks for sharing the connection. I wasn’t able to find this on the blog.

    It looks like comments either have to be approved or they aren’t allowing them to be posted.

    One could always write to leader of this church and let him know the other side of this issue. ;-) The leader’s email is on the church’s site that Ozymandias posted.

  • Res Ipsa

    While I think Brent makes some good points about why SGM should remain in Maryland, his post also makes it abundantly clear that SGM is (and maybe always has been) a business whose operation has been driven by demographics and income. Some part of me still wanted to hope that wasn’t the case and that maybe, just maybe, some of these decisions were also driven by the Holy Spirit. Silly me.

  • (from the link above, Steve #374) A good intention – to take sin seriously – was unfortunately not balanced by an equally strong commitment to proclaim forgiveness. So while the intention of the ministry and much of C.J.’s preaching was about creating a culture of grace, a practice developed of confronting sin with only a veneer of forgiveness. Even C.J.’s own confession was not met with the hope of forgiveness and the goal of restoration, but instead ignited a firestorm of criticism, gossip and slander.

    SGM might have had the “good intention – to take sin seriously” for regular members and regular pastors they have shown no intention to take seriously the sin of top leaders, especially C.J. Mahaney.

    C.J. Mahaney blackmailed Larry Tomczak and hid the sin for 10 years. That sin wasn’t taken seriously.

    Other top SGM Leaders conspired to hide C.J. Mahaney’s sin. That wasn’t taken seriously.

    C.J. wrote a book on humility while not practicing what he taught. That sin wasn’t taken seriously.

    C.J. taught about commitment to the local church and your pastors including “leaving well” but didn’t practice that. That sin wasn’t taken seriously.

    There are a lot more examples.

  • Unassimilated

    Anyone want to take a shot at what these add up to for CJ

    Wage
    Housing allowance
    Property allowance
    Car allowance
    Royalties
    Honoraria
    Bonuses
    Gifts
    Bonuses to Carolyn Mahaney
    Gifts to Carolyn Mahaney
    Book allowance
    Education allowance
    Office furniture and equipment allowance
    Retirement account
    Long term care
    Heath Insurance
    Dental Insurance
    Vision care
    Other medical reimbursements
    Life Insurance
    Disability Insurance
    Workman’s compensation

    Personally I would love to entitle myself to a Housing and Car allowance. Even though my little company does more in $$ per year than SGM, my only allowance
    is for the company cell phone that keeps me available 24-7. I would love to swap my Board of Directors for his.

  • Unassimilated

    I bet AOR would hit the roof if they knew about how much SGM records in written files or on tape. They thought the e-mails were a bad idea.
    Funny that they did not mention Larry’s tape of CJ’s calls. (Or did I miss that/) It’s nice to see that Brent has finally thought to mention the practice.

    “Better yet, let’s see the minutes, Tommy Hill, from the past several years where these discussions are recorded.”

  • Oswald

    Great message from CLC Sunday. Well worth the listen. Imo, God has something to say through this message.

  • Persona

    I may have discovered the underlying reason for CJ’s move to the “Ville”.

    (please note the last category for this online survey)

    Louisville:

    Ranked #1 Sleepless Cities 2011 (2nd only to NYC)
    Ranked #3 Hypertension Hot Spots
    Ranked #3 Safest Cities for Families with Young Children
    Ranked #4 Most Congested Cities
    Ranked #13 Americas Manliest Cities 2011*

    *Criteria for Manly Categories

    Below are the broader categories on which each city’s manliness was measured along with a brief description of the criteria that went into each category.

    Sports — In addition to the number of professional major league sports teams in a city (football, baseball, basketball and hockey), the number of nearby NASCAR tracks and racing events were taken into account along with the quality of pro sports, based on ESPN’s “Ultimate Standings” fan survey and “The Donovan Index” (www.donovanindex.com).

    Manly Lifestyle — Various consumer behaviors in each city were analyzed, such as the number of pickups and motorcycles registered in the city, rodeo events, sports TV viewing, fishing and home improvement.

    Concentration of Manly Retail Stores — The number of manly stores and businesses were evaluated for each city, including BBQ and chicken wing restaurants, steak houses, sports bars, western/cowboy apparel stores, Harley Davidson dealerships and home improvement stores.

    Manly Occupations — The number of construction workers, police officers, firefighters, and EMT personnel in each city were analyzed, using the “Occupational Employment Statistics” survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    “Board of Manliness” Rankings (NEW category this year) For the first time in the study’s history, we incorporated personal rankings of 10 individuals into the study results.

    This Board of Manliness ranked the 50 cities in the study and research expert Bert Sperling incorporated their composite ranking of the cities into a category weighted into the final rankings. The Board of Manliness includes publicly-known individuals such as actor and former bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, former professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, baseball hall of famer, Rollie Fingers, comedian and actress Judy Gold, world beard champion Jack Passion and lumberjack champion Mike Sullivan. In addition to the public figures, the Board includes four everyday Americans – a retired Navy Seal, a school teacher, a police officer and a mother of four boys.

    “Manly Kryptonite” Category / Emasculating Criteria*
    Cities also lost points for an overabundance of emasculating criteria – factors that reduced a city’s manliness rating. These factors included the number of home furnishing and décor stores, cafés/coffee shops, sushi restaurants, “modern” male apparel stores and cupcake shops. Cities with higher concentrations of these types of stores lost rating points.

  • B.R. Clifton

    What ever happened to “faith” and “Trusting God” for financing? What ever happened to going where God directs and doing what God directs? It seems SGM has forgotten those things (if they ever knew them) and is now totally embracing business world scheme of demographics for planning purposes. There also seems to be a fair portion of good old business world “under the table” scheming going on, none of which is in any way biblical or Godly.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    LOL, Persona, on the “Manliest City” as a reason to relocate SGM! I don’t think CJ will rank as “Manly” compared to the ‘standards’ of most of those men, however! Frankly, I feel like a man who runs from consequences of his own actions is the biggest coward and sissy of them all.

    BR Clifton, you said in post #376 how perhaps they are running to avoid prosecution, but I do believe some of the offenses may be on a felony level, which would be prosecutable across all states.

    Guy, I love the Blogger’s College idea! LOL! Isn’t it ironic that AoR thinks a blog moderator should be a “professional’, but CJ can fill all the roles he has with no formal training whatsoever? How do they reconcile that??

  • QE2

    I wonder if the Grace Louisville Church will be so loving when the new SGM church arrives and siphons off their members.

    Also, they missed mentioning the preaching schedule and travel to other countries during CJ’s leave of absence, and the outcome, which was to retract the confession.

    If they think they will “partner for the Gospel” with SGM on a local level, they are sadly mistaken, as the only partnering CJ does is on the national level with other celebrity pastors.

    Maybe they are hoping for an equally large donation from SGM, similar to what the SBTS got from CJ?

  • Moniker

    QE2 said “If they think they will “partner for the Gospel” with SGM on a local level, they are sadly mistaken, as the only partnering CJ does is on the national level with other celebrity pastors.”

    Haha. So true. And I think that’s probably true throughout SGM. They are very exclusive. About a year ago, during a Q&A time with one of the pastors of the SGM church that I left, I asked if the pastors had any kind of relationship or fellowship with pastors of other churches in the area. His answer was a firm “no”. The reason given: something about not being on the same page theologically. :Conceited:

  • Stunned

    Rick, 369, another GREAT post.

    In response to your last line from that comment, did you know that from the beginning, both Kris and Jim contacted AoR and offered any help, etc? Makes me sad.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Exclcer’smom:
    No doubt their legal advisors had a lot to say about the move. You can also bet the move was more because of legal rather than economic issues.

  • Remnant

    Somewhere on the post, BD said for CJ alone: $300,000.

  • Remnant

    opps – that was directed to Unassimilated #382.

  • Unassimilated Re 382

    Also realize that clergy such as I believe C.J. Mahaney can qualify for (though maybe not since he isn’t a pastor)include being able to take some of their income tax free including housing allowance while also being able to deduct the interest on his home loans. I am sure the book allowance Mahaney gets is tax free.

    It also must be nice to have your wife be given bonuses and gifts.

  • B.R. Clifton said:

    What ever happened to “faith” and “Trusting God” for financing? What ever happened to going where God directs and doing what God directs? It seems SGM has forgotten those things (if they ever knew them) and is now totally embracing business world scheme of demographics for planning purposes.

    Very good point. Does anyone really think that the SGM Leaders prayerfully submitted this plan to God? Isn’t that what scripture commands God’s people, especially leadership to do. There may be times when things make all the apparent sense in the world but God doesn’t want it done that way. There also may be times when it makes apparent human sense to do things one way but God’s will is something different.

    Are the SGM Leaders doing the equivalent of “preaching in Asia” (Acts 16:6) when forbid by the Holy Spirit? Did the leaders forget to ask the God they claim to serve? Only God really knows.

  • Stunned

    Unassimilated mentioned in his list of benefits for the Mahaneys:

    Bonuses to Carolyn Mahaney
    Gifts to Carolyn Mahaney

    What the heck?

    And then:
    Book allowance
    Education allowance
    Office furniture and equipment allowance

    Oh, how I WISH!

  • TR

    Has anyone heard if Harvey is moving with the rest?

  • Oswald

    Hasn’t anyone anything to say about the message from CLC yesterday?

  • Unassimilated

    Remnant – I saw that later in BD’s post, just wow.

    Steve – I thought of the taxes as well. CJ paid cash for his house, I wonder how the allowance is justified with SGM?
    It’s nice that Brent has finally raised the $$ issue with CJ. His points about SGM’s cash reserves have me scratching my head
    considering the years of SGM layoffs. All claimed to be necessary for budget reasons. I also recall a few years back when SGM initiated
    the “Go Forward fund, they claimed that SGM and the Pastors College were in the red. Seems someone was lying somewhere.

    Stunned – Do you think CJ gets a blogging allowance? :Wink:

  • the leftovers

    I’ve just read the report and feel so sad for all the people who poured their hearts out to this
    AoR crowd. I’m used to reading in the paper about how angry the general public feel when there is
    a sham enquiry done within politics, but it’s a disgrace to read it done by Christians.

    What a very sad thing for God to have to see.

    I would like to encourage all those hurting and/or angry to try to move on when you feel you can. You’ve done all you can, turn it over to God now. I have recently found a peace by doing just this after my experience within Bristol SGM. I realised that although I had left I was damaged and carrying around hurt and anger from all that I had seen. It was affecting my relationship with God. I had to sit down and commit my hurts to God and the people who did these things and then move on.

  • Unassimilated

    I do not know if CJ has elected to hire a bodygaurd, yet if he has, there’s some irony about;

    “The second stair is SELF-PROTECTION. Lies are weaklings; they need bodyguards. Even the smallest prevarication needs a ring of perjuries to keep from being seen. But each new lie needs its own protective ring. . . .”

    Found here –

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/rayortlund/2012/04/11/descent-into-darkness/

  • Stunned

    Unassimilated,

    I don’t know. Depends how much fuzzy slippers and a robe go for nowadays. There aren’t any other costs involoved in blogging, are there? Wait, I just remembered that, according to some rather nasty spirited SGM pastors, acne cream may be needed as well. (Seriously, other than mean 12 year olds, who makes fun of someone for having acne?!?!)

    Do you think CJ even gets to write his internet bills off? That would be sweet. Looks like those cheap seats are getting more and more expensive by the day.

  • Stunned

    Or is it that the seats are cheap for CJ because the pay for them is coming out of everyone else’s pocket?

  • Bridget

    Stunned @ 403 –

    I think you’ve hit it!

    I’m amazed at the CJ/SGM financial issues and what “they” are portraying to people, especially in light of pastors I know. Many pastors are taking cuts in pay, living off their own savings, and working other jobs because of the lack of funds. They did not complain. They viewed it as “natural” in light of the economic changes (can’t really call them hardships when I consider other countries) that most of their church is gowing through. Quite a contrast to the raises and continued income that CJ and other SGM leaders are receiving.

  • Stunned

    I am just reading Brent’s blog (which I seldom do).

    OUCH. Dang. In it, Brent said, “In 2008 C.J. gave 100k to Al Mohler’s seminary. Has he ever given 100k to the Pastors College in one year? He also had SGM give 100k to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008. Al Mohler doesn’t need the money. The SBTS has an extraordinary endowment. So 200k was given to impress Mohler when he didn’t need it while “extensive cuts to staffing” were made to SGM which threatened (if you believe the hype) the ministry.”

    OUCH! Dang, if I were giving my tithe to an SGM church, I would be ticked off right now. Oh, and ticked if I had ever been on staff with SGM or an SGM church, then lost my job. Why didn’t we normal people know this info all along?

  • B.R. Clifton

    Stunned #405:
    It’s because the inner workings and intrigue of the machine are the exclusive pervue of the professional clergy. We lowly normal people aren’t entitlted to know the innerworkings. Just keep those tithes and offerings coming in!!

  • Rick

    Stunned, I was aware of the contact between Kris, Guy and Jim with AoR early on–my hopes are that time and perspective will perhaps open AoR leadership to make a step toward those who could have provided context for the individual stories AoR heard. Background would have been helpful, especially if they were briefed on what to expect in their interaction with SGM leadership prior to the individual interviews.

  • MAK

    Oswald…

    Another great message at CLC yesterday. The jist was “we don’t see all God’s doing”. Maybe this evening I can summarize my notes. CLC also had a “coffee and questions” meeting last night. The room was completely full. A few good snippets from the meeting. Will try to make an update this evening.

  • Deuteronomy 32:35

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this in all these comments about the AoR report, so my apologies beforehand if I’m rehashing this issue.

    I’m not quite sure what to say about the fact that AoR takes so lightly CJs blackmailing of Larry Tomczak. They actually think it’s of no consequence because CJ never carried out his threat? Really? Have they been smoking something that smells like burning leaves? Is it possible that they are completely unaware of the nature of blackmail(highly doubtful), and that it entails a threat so menacing to the one threatened that the one threatened complies with the manipulation accompanying the threat? That’s the POINT of blackmail…to hide something…to gain leverage over the person being blackmailed…and to use that leverage against the blackmailee to GET WHAT YOU WANT…CJ didn’t have to carry out his threat PRECISELY BECAUSE HIS BLACKMAIL WORKED!!! Excuse me for saying this folks, but these men are either clueless (which I doubt), or worse, they have put the “perspective” in the report that the people who PAID for the report wanted…this is ABSOLUTE NONSENSE and WHITEWASH…that report isn’t worth the paper it was printed on…

  • Moniker

    Deuteronomy 32:35 (#409)- What you need to realize is that SGM leadership does not consider what CJ did to Larry as blackmail because what happened doesn’t fit the legal definition of blackmail. They would say that what happened is “coercion”, which is not technically a crime. They would agree that what happened was wrong, but it wasn’t a crime, and it wasn’t disqualifying.

    I’m not defending them, and I certainly don’t agree that it wasn’t disqualifying even if what happened wasn’t a crime. But that’s the SGM leadership’s view, and I assume that AOR would go along with SGM leadership’s assessment. Also, since there was already that “unbiased” SGM panel report on the Larry Tomczak incident, they probably didn’t see the need to address it.

  • Stunned

    Rick, I gotcha now. Thanks for sharing.

    BR, this is all so sad, isn’t it?

    Deut, you are 100% correct. Blackmail isn’t when you expose something. That is called (how’s this for simple), “exposing something.” Blackmail is the THREAT to expose something. According to some tape recordings, CJ is an extremely SUCCESSFUL blackmailer.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Stunned #405:
    Quite simply put, CJ was bribing Mohler in the form of donations. We don’t know yet what the bribe bought him, but it will eventually come out. It’s far easier to get a friendly handshake out of a well greased palm.
    This sort of thing is unprecidented especially when the organization could have used the money internally instead of throwing loyal employees and constituents under the proverbial bus. Come to think of it Jesus told a parable about just this very situation.

  • SamMcGee

    Bob Kauflin tweet from this afternoon:

    “Blog comments are always a reliable source of information. #InternetMyths”

    I wonder why he feels the need to go on offense? Wasn’t the AoR report the last word on all this? ;)

  • Oswald

    MAK #408 — Thanks, I’ll be on the lookout for your comments. I listened to the message and thought it was God speaking to us all. Continue to pray for this pastoral team.

  • Contentious Jones

    Does anyone know how much $ per annum (if any) SGM pays CLC for the use of CLC basement space? CLC’s operating expenses are huge (around $2.7 million/year), so I wonder how CLC will make up the difference.

  • Moniker

    Off the topic here, but since sexual abuse of children is a concern of ours here…in case you hadn’t heard, Voice of the Martyrs executive director, Tom White, committed suicide last week amidst allegations that he molested a 10 year-old girl. You can read about it at the AP link http://tinyurl.com/855uxuc and at Voice of the Martyrs http://tinyurl.com/766kswn So heartbreaking.

    I also wanted to draw your attention to a very touching open letter to the girl written by Pastor Wade Burleson of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma. http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/04/sin-and-suicide-of-voice-of-martyrs.html Wade Burleson is a pastor in the truest sense of the word.

  • MAK

    Contentious…SGM owns their part of the CLC building. When SGM moves out, CLC will have to buy out SGM. Not sure exactly how this is going to go down. I’m also not sure of the fair market value of the space. I’ve hear $1.5 million thrown around but I’m not a real estate expert nor has CLC leadership discussed this yet.

    At CLC’s coffee and questions meeting last night, it was stated that CLC’s MONTHLY payment to SGM that has been suspended was $60K per month! The leadership team did note that we are still supporting the north african mission team and that CLC is funding 70% of that work. They also noted that they would consider supporting other targeted SGM endevors if they came up and we felt the Lord calling us to.

  • Ozymandias

    Re: SamMcGee #413 — I think the proper hashtag for that Kauflin tweet is #StrawManArgument.

  • Ozymandias

    And here’s what Daniel Montgomery @ Sojourn in Louisville thinks of the news: http://daniel-montgomery-sojourn.com/sovereign-grace-moving-to-louisville-what-does-sojourn-think/

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Deut…..

    CJ and his cronies consulted a lawyer about the possibility of the blackmail threat, and the lawyer advised them that it would be unwise:

    http://abrentdetwiler.squarespace.com/storage/edited-pdfs/Brent%27s%20Documents%20Parts%201-7.pdf

    ( from the docs, around page 161, the blackmail section starts page 138)

    After writing us and later the same day, Steve talked to Chip Grange, our legal counsel,
    to get his perspective on the sharing of this information. Steve sent us the following
    notes regarding whether or not we should reveal details regarding the child‘s sins.
    Steve‘s Notes Regarding Counsel from Chip Grange
    10/14/97
    Gentlemen, here is a bullet form synopsis of our lengthy conversation.362
    3. Re: us divulging [the child‘s] sins if necessary. He said this is the shakiest
    part of our perspective. Would STRONGLY recommend we jettison the
    idea. Court would recognize our responsibility for Larry because he was an
    employee. [His child] was not an employee. Even though he was a [child]
    of an employee, it doesn‘t matter. If we divulged what was shared in
    confidence in a pastoral climate of counsel and confidentiality, we would be
    very vulnerable…
    9. Regarding us disclosing [the child‘s] sin, there is a big red flag here. Even if
    we state more than Larry has said in his May 15 letter, there are major
    cautions. Strong recommendation we do not divulge [the child‘s] sins to
    any degree in any fashion. He was not an employee and we are not
    responsible for [the child] (legally) unless that has been delegated to us by
    [the] parents, which it wasn‘t. Voiced major reservations that we do this.
    We would be vulnerable if we did…
    11. The courts would see a strong line of demarcation between divulging
    Larry‘s sins and revealing [the child‘s].

    You can be certain that had the lawyer said it was OK, and Larry not backed down, the threat would have been carried out. And by the way, the original panel of 3 that cleared CJ referred to this episode along the lines as a sin spoken in a heated moment that CJ never really intended, he just got mad and emotional but never really meant it. Oh really? They went and got legal counsel to see if it was possible to blackmail, for crying out loud.

    What boggles the mind, and simply astounds me, is the willing and chosen blindness of the big dogs CJ has charmed. I don’t know how AoR could let this pass either. To say that well, somebody did not carry out a threat- after the lawyer told them not to-is obviously no excuse to dismiss the threat. They didn’t want to get sued, period. Same reason they won’t come clean on the sex abuse crap. Fear of lawsuits.

    Ugh.

  • Stunned

    BR, I am embarrassed to say, but which parable are you talking about? The shrewd manager?

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Ozy, I went to that link..after reading the article, as well as the comments, I can see why CJ is so desirous to move there..Sounds like those people down there have no clue about the accusations against CJ..Too bad, CJ et all..you cannot outrun God, nor can you hide from Him. Be sure your sin will find you out.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Moniker, would that all people could respond to victims as Wade Burleson has..You are right-he seems like a true Pastor. I hope the little girl gets to read it, or has another minister such words to her.

  • Persona

    I Googled around and discovered there a few random things allegedly more costly in Louisville, than in Gaithersburg:

    – Milk
    – white bread
    – cheese
    – apples
    – bottled water
    – wine
    – beer
    – utilities (elec/gas/water/waste collection
    – mobile phone use (+ tariff)
    – fitness club membership
    – tennis court rental
    – summer dresses at H&M
    – pair of Nikes

    In general, groceries and mortgage rates are about equal…

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    http://www.wadeburleson.org/2012/04/sin-and-suicide-of-voice-of-martyrs.html

    Moniker in #416——–thanks for posting this. How sad. But this pastor’s letter to the young girl should be carefully read by every CLC/SGM pastor.

    THIS is how you ‘care’ for a victim of sexual abuse. Not in the classic CLC way..

  • Mary

    Wow. Yes. And how you should treat any victim of abuse. This should also be read by AoR. What healing words……….

  • B.R. Clifton

    Sam:
    Isn’t Kauflin the one who wrote and sang that worship song to CJ last year?

  • B.R. Clifton

    Stunned:
    Yup, that’s the one. He drew down the debts of all those who owed him in order to have friends to fall back on after his boss canned him.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Stunned:
    It’s found in Luke 16:1-9.

  • One thing I am assuming about the relocation to Louisville is that it more or less is something the new board announced vs. discussing and getting real input from various local SGM Churches. This is along the same lines as their installing new board members so quickly. The fast track installation of new board members lead to a “protest” type of letter from Fairfax SGM that a number of other churches signed.

    Why does SGM do things like this w/o working with the local churches that support them? Maybe it is easier to get something like this that they have decided they want done by just announcing it vs. discussing it with the local churches. Why ask local churches for input when you really want to do this? If you ask, it might be harder to implement.

  • RE B.R. Clifton’s #427 –

    Bob Kauflin did sing a worship song to CJ, but that was not last year. It was back in something like 2004, when CLC had a weekend-long fest to celebrate CJ’s ministry and his transfer of CLC’s senior pastorate to Josh Harris.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Thanks Kris. It seems like only yesterday that I watched the video of him doing that disgusting thing.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Here is the page with that video on it along with other videos:

    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/2012/02/10/some-interesting-videos/

  • B.R. Clifton

    I just went back and reread the SGM relocation announcement. Something I find glaringly lacking throughout is the mention of God, or of the SGM board having sought God on this matter. There’s no mention of God having directed them to relocate or that His (God’s) treasury was at a seasonal low and they would have to make adjustments and do without His help. If I am to take this announcement at face value then I would have to conclude that they did not consult with God over it and He (God) has not given them any counsel to take the action they are now planning. I think it’s a pretty lousy testimony to say by one’s actions that they have deterimined that God is no longer able to supply their needs and they must now pick up the ball and carry it on their own, making their own way. Have they now torwn God under the same bus with everyone else?
    (Beating on the dead horse here)

  • Remnant

    Nine pages of comments about the AoR report. I know I am not alone when I find myself continuing to shake my head in disbelief at the things AoR put in writing and at their lack of discernment and understanding.

    And this morning I find an encouraging understanding that our experiences, our understanding, our thoughts, ideas and personal judgments about SG “Ministries” are still valid and true even in the midst of the published report.

    There is a deception at play. But the guilt for deceit does not lie at the feet of the wounded and those whose eyes see the Truth of the matter.

    AoR squandered a great opportunity. They did not choose the high road, but instead chose to protect their earning potential.

    I feel sorry for the fine folk of Louisville. A spiritual train wreck is quickly descending upon them under the guise of SG “Ministries.” At least the people left behind in Gaithersburg can begin to breathe free air after so many years of oppressing “ministry.”

  • Stunned

    BR, there was one mention of prayer in their announcement. Here is the line, “Over the past few months, our staff has explored various locations for a potential move, including visits, demographic studies, many conversations, and much prayer.”

    I remembered that they had mentioned prayer once, because it struck me when I read it through the first time. I was sadly surprised that the last thing in their list of considerations was prayer. I am not trying to be critical of these men, many of whom are my brothers. And after spending many years being picked apart by the hands of sin sniffers in SGM, I am NOT trying to do that to them. But it seemed so conspicuous that prayer was the last thing mentioned.

    Also, God is mentioned at the very end of their announcement.

    “Please join us in praying for all those participating in this relocation. Despite the many adjustments this will entail, we are trusting God and hopeful that this move will position us for greater service to our churches as together we proclaim the gospel and plant churches for the glory of God.”

    Though they do not mention that God is leading them in this, they say they are trusting Him in this move. They also say they are wanting to glorify God. This is a good thing. I hope someday they will learn that they glorify God via the way GOD calls them to glorify Him, namely threw loving others and not lording over others. God is not glorified when we control others, but love them. I pray that some day they see that the gospel is not about what we can do for God, but what He has already done for us and His great, amazing love for us.

  • Stunned

    Remnant, I hear you, but I suspect that a train wreck was already in Louisville. A brother who lives down there used to write here and tell stories of what happened to the SBTS once Al Mohler took over. I wonder if this guy knows that CJ is coming down.

    He who has ears, let him hear.

  • Oswald

    I saw the following which is part of an article about fleeing a church. It’s from Jonathan Lehman of 9marks. I saw it at Gospel Coalition blogosphere.

    “Then Jonathan helpfully points out some examples of abusive leadership:

    How do you recognize abusive leadership? Paul requires two witnesses for a charge to be leveled against an elder (1 Tim. 5:19), probably because he knows that leaders will be charged with infelicities more than others, often unfairly. That said, abusive churches and Christian leaders characteristically

    Make dogmatic prescriptions in places where Scripture is silent.
    Rely on intelligence, humor, charm, guilt, emotions, or threats rather than on God’s Word and prayer (see Acts 6:4).
    Play favorites.
    Punish those who disagree.
    Employ extreme forms of communication (tempers, silent treatment).
    Recommend courses of action that always, somehow, improve the leader’s own situation, even at the expense of others.
    Speak often and quickly.
    Seldom do good deeds in secret.
    Seldom encourage.
    Seldom give the benefit of the doubt.
    Emphasize outward conformity, rather than repentance of heart.
    Preach, counsel, disciple, and oversee the church with lips that fail to ground everything in what Christ has done in the gospel and to give glory to God.”

  • Roadwork

    In hindsight, we should have seen this coming.

    We know that SGM only respects people and organizations that think, believe and interpret the Bible as they do. Diversity in theology or practice has never been a strong trait of SGM. Why would they have chosen AoR in the first place? Because AoR evaluates situations in the same manner as SGM. Since AoR thinks the way they do, it’s an organization they “trusted” to bring “reconciliation”. (Reconciliation in their mind is always about personal relationship so reconciliation only ever occurs at the personal level and never at the organizational level.)

    In any issue of broken relationship, the problem is always laid at the feet of the offended party. Regardless of what sin has been committed against you, ultimately it’s all about how you respond to the offense. If you respond in any way other than complete forgiveness, then you’re obviously still harboring sin in your heart and they’ll be all too willing to help you see where sin remains. It doesn’t matter who, what or at what level – your sin – your unforgiveness is therefore ultimately the problem.

    “Clenched fists” or continuing to bring up past offenses are all to be interpreted as unforgiven sin and is often categorized as sins of anger or bitterness. It doesn’t matter what or for how long you’ve tried appealing to the offender in an effort to get them to see how they’ve sinned or to what level they’ve sinned – in other words, how the offender’s sin contributed to the original hurt, pain and damage. If the offender hasn’t changed and you continue to bring up how you’re being hurt or damaged, it’s seen as evidence that you still harbor sin in your heart and proof that you haven’t responded by anything other than complete forgiveness. It’s always your problem.

    I believe they view blogging as just another means whereby you continue to bring up past offenses. The conclusion from that thought process is that blogging is sin. (“Past offenses” could mean four years ago or yesterday.)

    The continued focus on you is presented as caring for your soul since any offense leveled against you is far better than the punishment you ultimately deserve for your sin.

    As an aside, I’m not trying to minimize 70 x 7. The guilty should be taking responsibility for their contributions. SGM allows little on this side of the equation when it comes to the offender taking responsibility for their actions, showing true repentance along with commensurate and measurable behavioral change.

    Further, since the problem is always you and your sin, the offending party is rendered guiltless. For the offended ones, it’s a Kobayashi Maru. For you non-Trekkies, the Kobayashi Maru is the no-win scenario.

    What this no-win situation demands is actually works. It’s an unhealthy focus on your sin that keeps you enslaved to a level of performance unattainable in this lifetime.

    Consider the man that fell among thieves In Luke 10. A Priest and a Levite passed him by. However, the good Samaritan stopped. It is written that the good Samaritan, “went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

    It is not written that the good Samaritan counseled him to extend forgiveness to the thieves or in making it a private matter of broken relationship.

    Once again I ask, “Have they not read?”

    What they miss is the fact that as these offending parties continue in the same pattern, we have no choice but to do as Paul did and warn others and name names. In these “modern times” it’s called blogging. It’s no more than a digital epistle.

    ~ Roadwork

  • Stunned

    Clenched Fists”

    ha ha ha. Have they not heard about Jesus and his bad ol’ whips clearing the temple? ha ha ha, these guys crack me up! Man, imagine the letter they should be writing to Jesus about His anger issues! Clenched fists!

    Ha ha. Have they ever read the Old Testament, with whole civilizations being wiped out? God must have some major unforgiveness, eh?

    And to my knowledge, no one who met with AoR expressed any desire to see our SGM leadership brothers have their gonads removed, though this is exactly what Paul said in a letter that God saw fit to publish not just for tens of thousands of people in 2011, but in the most popular book ever sold for the past 2,000 years. Wow, don’t these AoR guys see that God’s ways are NOT their ways?

    My AoR brothes, I say this not to hurt you. I say it for the sake of all those you condemned with your letter. (A letter, which I remind you, was never intended to address anyone but SGM.) I also say it to, hopefully, show you the error of your ways. If you condemn someone who was abused because he/she had curled up fists, then by the same token, you must turn and condemn Jesus for His whip (which by all logic is much worse than a clenched fist). You must condemn God for having Israel wipe out whole civilization. You must condemn Paul for wishing that those who loved the law get their balls/testicles cut off. (Kris, I thought I’d give you the choice to choose whichever word is less offensive. Not trying to shock anyone here, but praying that these guys SEE what they are doing.) AoR, I beg you, please STUDY… commit to learning about PTSD, spiritual abuse. Please, educate yourselves further. I know you think you have probably learned enough, but if you are ever called on to work on a case like this again, you must educate yourselves first. Please, consider this. Please take it to God.

    You can’t lose a thing if you spend time asking Him if He would have you do this, can you?

  • Stunned

    Oswald, that list is amazing! Thank you for sharing it.

  • Rorschach

    Post 420 –

    FYI –

    As far as the law is concerned there is culpability regarding not mere blackmail (which as far as case law goes, occurs as soon as the threat is communicated and disregards the intent of the transgressor), but also extortion (which concerns coercion using an unlawful threat… breaching the confidentiality between penitent and parishioner in the common law of GA). Not only that but there is the implication of “conspiracy to commit a felony” – that includes all those present and a part of that meeting, especially those who repeated the offense. Blackmail and subsequently extortion (more serious) are felonies. Additionally, when done using communication means (phone) across state lines one hasn’t broken the law in MD or GA, but you’ve now committed a federal felony. I’ve done MUCH study and confirmed this through other professionals (and have considered for a long time to expound upon it in writing myself), which is one of my major hangups – as far as the US justice system, there was a serious breach. Anyone who does not recognize this is either being dishonest or is ignorant of US code.

    When the panel report came back with the assessment that the leaders ceased their “attack” after learning what they were doing was unethical my questions are:
    1) legal counsel was brought in on both sides regarding the fact that this was blackmail, and ILLEGAL
    2) legal counsel was aware that the threat itself was ILLEGAL
    3) they ceased and desisted after this was made known.
    4) these are not misdemeanors or petty crime… they are felonies. Serious crimes – that carry hefty penalties and years of jail time if prosecuted within a certain time frame. ATM, they are past the statute of limitations.

    To merely call it “unethical” is dishonest, you’re downplaying the seriousness of it…. and of all of us, you’d think the leader would already know this from the BIBLE.

    To play it out as a one-time thing that was done in the heat of passion is also to be dishonest. The offense was repeated over the course of many days.

    To downplay it as not as bad as adultery or malfeasance, I’d also disagree with. If you are a leader, you are one of the chief ambassador’s of Jesus’ good news. How dare a leader use someone’s sin as leverage in order to coerce them into what you want them to do? That’s antithetical to the entire purpose of that leader under the banner of Jesus Christ.

    So yes – I’ve lost relationships because this is one of my major hangups and because apparently some believe it to be slander. Nevermind there is a disagreement on what should not be private (the fracture of church leaders, as well as seriousness of a transgression is not merely a pecadillo offense between two guys… its much greater than that).

    Hence my tag – from whom some of my favorite quotes come from…
    “No compromise, not even in the face of armageddon”

  • Muckraker

    The AoR report is now officially off the SGM Main blog page. It was up for exactly 1 week. It is, however, still on the SGM Home page on the bottom right. How long will it be there before they attempt to sweep away all evidence of past controversy? Has its existence even been announced at any SGM churches? Do any members actually even know about its release?

  • Rorschach

    ” one hasn’t broken the law in MD or GA” should read
    one hasn’t ONLY broken the law in MD AND GA” …

    apologies.

  • Stunned

    Rorschach, great post!

    Though I may disagree with one thing. You said, “they ceased and desisted after this was made known.”

    The threat was already made. (And as you and others have pointed out, blackmail is a threat to expose.) The blackmail was not ceased, meaning, after they “found out” what they had done was illegal and wrong*, they never went back to Larry and Doris to say, “We are so sorry but no matter what you do, we will never do to you what we threatened to do. You go ahead and tell people why you are leaving PDI. We were wrong to blackmail you.”

    Had they gone back to promise to Larry and Doris that no one would ever betray their confidence, no matter what decision Doris and Larry made, then and only then could the blackmail have been considered to have ceased. But since they didn’t share with Larry and Doris their, “Oppsy-daisy, we were wrong” then the blackmail still stood. (And very effectively at that.)

    (*like they needed counsel to tell them that blackmail is wrong?! what is so broken in them and in their souls that they need someone else to tell them that blackmail is wrong?!)

  • Whirlwind

    @SamMcGee #413 – Looks like Bob’s Twitter post on blog comments has been removed. (At least I can’t find it – I really wanted to reply “Blog comments are never a reliable source of information. #InternetMyths”

  • Stunned

    Whirlwind, what would you reply with? “They are more reliable than any of the info we get out of SGM”?

  • Whirlwind

    @Stunned #447: I just wanted to change Bob’s “always a reliable source” (obviously not true) to “never a reliable source” (also not true, but in the other direction).

    I’m guessing someone must have pointed out the snarkiness of his comment and the obvious and continuing contempt it reveals in his heart toward the SGM blogs.

  • Bridget

    Stunned and all –

    I agree! And the fact that SGM leaders never confirmed with Larry and Doris their repentance nor did they promise that they would NEVER pull this threat out again, they essentially held them to this threat for the next DECADE. How could Larry or Doris trust CJ or the others ever again.

    The fact that other leaders in T4G, TGC, and the AoR representatives DON’T SEE the blackmail as a major legal, moral, ethical and Biblical problem is way beyond my comprehension. Yes anyone of us is capable of the same thing . . . but we would have been arrested, disciplined and/or kicked out of a church if we had not repented and made restitution, as it should be when you break the law of the land or commit such sin without repentance. Even with repentance you might still end up in jail.

    By the way, since SGM is all about Biblical language can we please call this sin, and sin that was encouraged and propagated with the help of other leaders.

    Was this all passed over because in the end it was all for the purpose of promoting the Reformed doctrines in PDI/SGM? Is that why the other RBDs are okay with CJ and SGM leaders breaking the law?

    Someone please explain this to me. Seriously, RBD and SGM leaders, please explain this to me so I can explain to “my children” why breaking the law like this (along with the mishandling of sexual abuse) and having other’s cover it up is an acceptable thing for Christians to do! Maybe you can explain it to the watching world as well!!!! While many people go to jail for far less.

  • Whirlwind

    @Bridget #449: When I first heard of the blackmail, I was troubled, but thought, “How should I consider really bad stuff that happened so long ago?” However, the fact that it took a decade for CJ to acknowledge it is a MAJOR factor in my mind, especially when you hear that Larry made attempts to reconcile during that time and wasn’t received.

    It’s very similar to the problems documented on the blogs. It seems the majority of them (though certainly not all) happened a lot of years ago. It’s possible people change – that is part of our hope in the Jesus – but still some leaders will not properly acknowledge their faults and seek restitution.

  • Stunned

    Whirlwind, I am all about forgetting what happened in the past. ONCE the person has repented. (Actually, if I weren’t worried for those who I believe will be abused in the future, I’d be happy to forget ALL of the past.) But saying that things are in the past, is only useful once the person has repented or changed or at least can no longer abuse. But boy, imagine ever trusting CJ Mahaney with vital information, once you know what kind of a thing he could do to his “best friend’s” son. No way. And I think others should be warned.

    Btw, Al Mohler, Louisville and all others, this is your warning. Don’t trust CJ as far as you can throw him. Until he REPENTS publically to those he publically sinned against and privately to those he privately sinned against, then change, don’t think for a moment that you are going to get treated any better.

    What’s the best way to know how someone will act in the future? Their past. (Without the repentance of God, that is.)

  • Defender

    Golly!
    If I weren’t such a “nice guy”, I’d think up a WHOPPER of a juicy story to “secretly confess” to CJ.
    Then I’d “confront” him on something.

    Let him try it….

    BANG! Blackmail!

    I’m not “important” enough.
    (Only in my own perfect little world would it work out. But a guy can dream can’t he?)

  • Fried Fish

    A little off topic, but as SGM tries to process the AoR Report and pack for Kentucky:

    We could have communicated better.
    So-and-so’s sins were just common ones.
    We should have proclaimed grace and forgiveness in addition to the Doctrine of Sin.

    Might as well say we may not always be 100% right, but we are NEVER wrong.

    I’ve been trying to nail down what makes me so uncomfortable with SGM, the T4G guys, the Gospel Coalition and a lot of the YRR crowd… and have come to the conclusion that it’s not Calvinism, it’s not TULIP, It’s not complementarianism, it’s not really theology or even Biblical interpretation – although I’m sure I disagree on many points. More than anything else, it’s just plain ARROGANCE.

    I just ran across a good blog article (is that an oxymoron? :) ) on Baptist professor Roger E. Olson’s blog (it’s a guest article, not by Dr. Olson himself), which articulates a lot of what I sense coming out of the Neo-Reformed camp better than I ever could…

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/04/certainty-not-a-guest-post/#_ftnref1

  • B.R. Clifton

    Stunned, etc.:
    Don’t worry about Mohler. He is quite capable of taking care of himself. He and CJ can be viewed as “two peas in a pod”.

  • Defender

    “two peas in a pod”?

    Or perhaps an “Unholy Alliance”?

  • B.R. Clifton

    Either way the smell of burning sulfur in the air is awfully thick.

  • QE2

    Hi Defender-

    Here’s something juicy that should set off CJ’s sin detector-each morning, I look west across the country, and I just know in my heart that Defended is over there gossipping!

    Oh wait, they already tried that one on you. Dang.

    (And by the way, you ARE one of the nicest guys I know!)

  • Ellie

    To merely call it “unethical” is dishonest, you’re downplaying the seriousness of it…. and of all of us, you’d think the leader would already know this from the BIBLE.

    Rorschach ~ EXACTLY!!
    Excellent post – thank you!!

    The fact that other leaders in T4G, TGC, and the AoR representatives DON’T SEE the blackmail as a major legal, moral, ethical and Biblical problem is way beyond my comprehension.

    Bridget – I know what you mean. All any of the SGM people I have talked to can say is “we all sin”. ??????

  • Defender

    Hey QE2!
    I miss ya! (Thanks! YOU are a sweet sister too.)

    How’s Merlin & everybody?

    Yeah. My wife is a heart breaker. (Breaks the hearts of sin sniffing SGM’ers every time.)
    That’s why I love her!

  • Defended

    QE2 – you rock! I’ve always loved your wit. You know that right?
    stay outta the sun…. ;)

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I have been wondering about something.

    You know all that stuff SGM came out with about preachers standing in the very stead of God and speaking the very word of God and how the congregation should listen to the preacher as if God was talking?

    (Maybe originally well meant terminology for the illiterate masses back in the 1600s with no bible, hearing the actual bible for the first time in their own language instead of latin, and yeah there was a real sense that the preachers of the Reformation were bringing the very word of God to them, and they did load up the sermons with bible verses….)

    Well anyway, did Josh Harris stand in the very stead of God too? I mean, how about when he said there were systemic problems and God was disciplining SGM? Do you only stand in the stead of God for Sunday sermons and not family meetings? Does Josh still stand in the very stead of God? I wonder how they can claim to believe that of SGM pastors and then give Josh the proverbial finger by moving to Kentucky. Did Josh lose that anointing when he spoke against the apostle above him? Does CJ stand more in the stead of God than Josh, so you can ignore Josh? Isn’t Josh the voice of God too?

    It is all very odd really. I can’t quite figure this doctrine out.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Blackmail, Coersion, intimidation, and other hardball tactics are not all that uncommon among the professional ecclesiastics. I have seen it quite often in my travels over the years. It usually occurs when someone comes up at odds with the “senior Pastor” (or whatever he may be called) over some issue that the big dog is committed to. The big dog will almost invariably consider such a difference as an attack against him personally and will counter attack accordingly. They usually go for the juggular in order to eliminate any such threat. (They see it as a threat against their “authority”). I a semi-democratic environment such as the Baptist community, such friction happens all the time. The reason can be as trivial as the color of the sancturary carpet (no kidding) or as serious as how the tithes and offerings are spent. If the big dog is not held in check by and active counter-balance such as elders and deacons, things can become nightmarish (ala SGM). On the other hand with a strong, firm, elder and deaconship, all out war insues resulting in either a church split or the big dog being “called of God” to go elsewhere. It all depends on how accountable to the elders, deacons, and congregation the big dog is. Of course, you are already aware of how devastated these things leave the poor sheep. The lucky congregations have the elders and deacons to pick up the pieces and effect healing. In the not so fortunate congregations the sheep are merely left to scatter dragging their wounds behind them. Healing for them can take years. All the while the big dogs view themselves as the victims. That’s why they are so quick to band together against the ungrateful laity.
    (Beating the dead horse here)

  • Oswald

    5years #461 — Yesterday’s CLC message given by Josh was (imo) from God through Josh.

  • Rorschach

    Amen, Oswald. I know there are a lot of folks that have taken umbrage to some of Josh’s past teaching and lit. Even his current actions and messages. I’d like to say I’m all for Josh.

    He’s proven his quality – not that he’s perfect, but that he has the guts to at least own up to his faults publicly. There’s not very many leaders who have the balls to do that.

    Those who may not know – he’s been under a fantastic amount of scrutiny, criticism, and stress. I can only see that the Lord is helping to sustain him. Really – he’s being raked over the coals from both sides (those who think he’s done the unconscionable to SGM and those who think he’s part of the problem or not doing enough).

    It is my understanding that being in the same house as SGM and being the “model church” meant that if you chose to lead differently than what the holy father thought best, or if you did something he didn’t agree with, Josh would be taken behind the woodshed, getting his stripes. Privately of course. But yeah – this has been happening for a long time.

    As far as reform?
    Massive change overnight? No. When you are on a ship this ponderous you alter your heading in degrees overtime. But he’s standing his ground and reforming. I hope that this continues. We sure aint done changing. God redeem this!

  • Rorschach said:

    Massive change overnight? No. When you are on a ship this ponderous you alter your heading in degrees overtime. But he’s standing his ground and reforming. I hope that this continues. We sure aint done changing. God redeem this!

    One thought I have had about CLC and CLC leaving SGM is that it would be a big step.

    They say one of the reasons people have a hard time leaving a cultish type group is that they personally have a lot invested in it. The investment includes both time (many times years) and money given over the years. When you have that much invested it is hard to easily walk about.

    In a similar sense, CLC has a lot invested in SGM. This includes time and contributions the church and members have given SGM. Just like with individuals it can be hard to easily walk away.

    Maybe one should “cut their losses” as the old phrase goes but that can be hard the more you have invested.

    With regard to Josh Harris I hear what you are saying Rorschach. I can feel for Josh. I am sure he is being pulled in at least two directions by the two camps. I am also sure it must be hard on Josh in his position to have thought for a while C.J. Mahaney was sincere and practiced what he taught to find out that C.J. doesn’t practice a lot of what he taught nor follow what he imposed on others.

  • Local Church Fan

    If anyone is interested in a good book on how to relate and speak about/concerning other believers, I recommend If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch. Here is the link in Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/You-Bite-Devour-One-Another/dp/093608331X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335326568&sr=8-1

    I just finished reading it and was really convicted throughout the whole book. I honestly think it is a book that all believers would benefit from reading, including our pastors and leaders. It is powerful. Strauch does a great job outlining and illustrating the clear biblical principles.

  • Oswald

    Rorschach and Steve240 — I just listened again to Sunday’s CLC message and imo, it is prophetic and speaks metaphorically to bloggers and others who put time, effort and hope into the AoR report as well as to CLC pastors (including Josh, himself), and congregation, and to anyone listening with interest in the current events.

  • just saying...

    Okay Rorschach – you convinced me. I’ve heard if you know about blackmail and don’t report it, you can be convicted of conspiracy to blackmail. In that case, we’re all guilty.

    You do it Rorschach – here’s the FBI tip link:

    https://tips.fbi.gov/

    Be sure to attach the sgmwikileaks and the panel reports.

    What if everyone does it.

    I once sat and watched a crime in which a child almost died. We all sat and watched because it never registered that we were the ones who should respond. We just stared in disbelief, not totally believing what we were seeing. Sooner or later someone came to their senses and reported it.

    I think we’ve stared in disbelief at this long enough…

  • Persona

    I am a long-time admirer of Joshua. I think he is a gifted and engaging teacher. But, that does not mean I don’t think he could be doing a WHOLE lot more to bring greater transparency between the leaders and members of CLC.

    Church members still don’t have a clue what Josh and the other pastors are thinking, planning or doing, on a day to day basis. They are still only given infrequent, random crumbs of information about what is going on.

    At the very least, the pastors should post the minutes of their many meetings and retreats in the lobby or, on the members’ blog, to keep everyone informed. But, they don’t. They never have. Why not? (Try asking your pastor, and let us know what he says. I hope it is more satisfactory than the answer I got.)

    They could also allow FULL access to detailed information and tax records about their salaries and other uses of funds. But, they don’t. They never have. Why not?(Ask them about that too)

    It continues to be exceedingly difficult to find out anything of substance about their current dealings with CJ and SGM. I find that shameful. Every member should have known long ago that CLC gave $60,000 a month to SGM, if that was true. Why are the pastors withholding this sort of valuable information from the congregation? What are they withholding now?

    CLC members should also hear about pastoral candidates LONG before they are in the ‘final phase’ of their appointment. Why even bother to ask the congregation to ‘affirm’ a candidate AFTER they have already begun their duties? What sort of bizarre form of government is that? I would be almost as offended if I were the candidate, as I would be as a member of the congregation. Such a weird pretense of involvement!

    Think what this says about the pastors’ view of themselves. And, think about their view of the congregation.

    It appears to me that not much has really changed at CLC. Words and lame gestures are not the great reform that is needed. Worse, the congregation seems to be willing to transfer their adoration of CJ, to Joshua.

    Josh spent half his life following his dad and half his life following CJ. He now needs to spend the rest of his life wholeheartedly following Jesus. I believe part of him wants to do that and part of him (self-proclaimed) wants to flee.

    The way the congregation can best help him now is to refrain from pitying him or defending him on the blogs. You need to encourage him to follow Jesus 100% and pray for him and keep pointing him toward the truth.

    The sleeping giant of a congregation also needs to step-up and share the burden of leadership. If the pastors aren’t willing to share this responsibility, insist upon it in the strongest of terms. Members need to be courageous and ask some very serious questions of the pastors right now.

    If you are not willing to do that, then find another church where your full participation is welcomed and you don’t need to beg and plead for answers to valid questions. Believe me, there are plenty of churches that do this well.

  • Stunned

    Just saying, that must have been awful. Is the child alright?

  • Ozymandias

    This year’s pre-T4G Band of Bloggers get-together had some discussion about blogging evangelical controversies, which included some discussion about the conservative evangelical blogosphere’s reaction to SGM. Starts about 1/2-way through here: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/conferences/t4g-2012/band-of-bloggers/. Also, Frank Turk over at Pyro is starting his own walk-through of Band of Bloggers, as there’s been some fallout over some of the points made on the panel: http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/04/bob2012-nice-guys-with-hobby.html.

  • Mary

    Stunned said # 451 “I am all about forgetting what happened in the past. ONCE the person has repented. (Actually, if I weren’t worried for those who I believe will be abused in the future, I’d be happy to forget ALL of the past.) But saying that things are in the past, is only useful once the person has repented or changed or at least can no longer abuse.”

    I so agree with that. Here is just one of the things that bother me. SGM and AoR is quick to shout out verses of forgiveness…while neglecting the rest of the law. such as this verse, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

    They have no responsibility to bear with anyone here? Also, what about Luke 17:2, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” and the word there is σκανδαλίσῃ (skandalisē)….

    I am so perplexed that a group of people that I loved and admired could think they could hurt people, ignore their pleas for them to care that they hurt them, tell them to get out, and then accuse them of sin…as if they had no role whatsoever.

    Jesus never chrushed anyone under the 10 commandments…He came to serve…He loved those that didn’t love back…He washed Judas’ feet….He came to show a servant love…a humble God that loves us…what is the story of Hosea about? God all thru the OT kept pursuing love as a husband to Isreal the wayward wife. But SGM divorces people. How is SGM as example of how Christ loved the church.

    These are the big dogs. The church leaders. Telling people you lead. You lead in reconciliation. You forgive. You do it. And we will do nothing. Wow. That is a seriously gross idea of leadership. Get off your butts and stop trying to save face….people are more important than your reputation, risk of lawsuit, and your paycheck. Do what God is telling you instead of waiting for a green light from CJ or Josh. You say what God is telling you. Love one another. Give expecting nothing in return…leave your gift at the altar…do none of these verses apply to you unless CJ/Josh tells you they do? I dare one of you leaders to have the guts to love like Jesus and just say one word of care on here for those you hurt. Geez. LEAD already!

  • justawife

    Persona#469: GREAT POST! I think you address exactly what the problems are at CLC. I think that Josh Harris does want to advocate for change at CLC, but not so quick or radically (in his opinion) that it offends anyone. He knows right now, for example, that his congregation is divided on the SGM-funding issue and he is trying to find the “middle ground” that satisfies everyone. Personally Josh strikes me as a genuine nice guy but a people-pleaser nonetheless that is trying to appease all. I don’t know what kind of opposition he’s faced from other pastors on his new proposed way of doing things either, so this could definitely be a factor on the changes at CLC not being (IMHO) as transparent with the congregation as they should (though he is definitely a step-up from CJ). I too think he is gifted but he has a lot to learn. He seems to be growing a lot in the right direction but I personally think he needs to get over his trying to make everyone happy and just follow Jesus 100%. I think the impetus to change is apparent at CLC but the implementation of that change is mild and very slow. Hopefully with SGM gone and (I’m hoping) CLC no longer becoming part of SGM’s “family of churches” this may change. It will still take some time as the culture at CLC is used to this kind of non-transparency and behind-closed doors dealings of those in leadership.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Persona, #469, a lot fo wisdom in your post! I do hope the CLC readers here take to heart what you have said. WE can all pray for Josh, and the members of that church.

  • Mary

    And this from Eph 5 “After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church for we are members of his body.”

    Anyone that is no longer a member of SGM is still a member of Christ’s body. How can you all hate these blogs and not see that the blog is not cyberspace – it is people – and not just people – but member’s of Christ body. Can you really say to Jesus…Lord, they were just too sinful for us feed “these” sheep, surely Jesus, you didn’t mean these sheep, but only the holy ones right? Really, you could say that to the One that said leave the 99 and go after the one. How Holy you are! Jesus must be very impressed with your holiness. I am sure he would understand you not caring for some sheep that didn’t met your standards. Afterall, He didn’t expect the pharisees to love prostitues and tax collector, and other untouchables. No, I am sure he understands that you have higher standards than He did. It’s ok. You can just ignore them, like Jesus did. You can hang out with the Pharisses, like Jesus did. You can love only those that love you, like Jesus did. You can wait for everyone to come to you, like Jesus did.

    And, you all can say Kris is wrong but I think Jesus would disagree. No, she is busy doing your job, feeding and caring for the members of Christ’s body that you hate. If you love…. you feed, you clothe, you care, if you love you are the Good Samaratian and not the priest that walks on by. Stop examing the hearts of people here and examine your own.

    Why do you need to get a report from AoR in the first place? Jesus made it simple, you hurt someone…repent…and ask for forgiveness..really, you needed to pay someone? So, what you are saying is that your Bible has no answer for this problem. So you had to go find it elsewhere. You haven’t even taken a baby step yet. You haven’t come on here and said, we are terribly sorry,…. nothing. Because you are too good for that? There is only one good and you aren’t it.

    Is there no peacemaker at SGM? No leader? How long will Kris have to lead for you? How can you keep telling people that male leadership is a blessing when there isn’t even one of you strong enough to lead in reconciliation? Hear my cry..I am crying out for just one of you to be a david. Step out and face this giant mess you created. Or, does your Bible have no answers? Or, is your God not big enough. Where is the man that God will send? Where?

  • Mary

    Rorschach:
    As far as reform?
    Massive change overnight? No. When you are on a ship this ponderous you alter your heading in degrees overtime. But he’s standing his ground and reforming.”

    I had high hopes for Josh but they are gone. Seeing the problem solved 100% that could take awhile. But, it seems like SGM has spent too much time counting the cost. The cost of possible lawsuits etc.

    But, deal with it. You did it-you own it. Be men! At least start taking some biblical steps. There are no leaders at SGM that could have written an open letter to the people here and sent it to Kris to post. There is nothing that they are aware of that caused anyone here to stumble? There are no sins that they can repent of? Nothing. Wait. Everyone here just keep waiting. For what? Wait. Wait. Really! There is nothing in the bible that they can see they should do? No answers in there? So, we all wait…..a few more years maybe…and keep saying to the world our God is just not big enough. How do they tell people on Sundays to go to scripture when they are in conflict…when they don’t? Tell, me they have exhausted everything God’s word says that they could do. And, their actions will continue to say some problems are too big for God, the bible, and the church. Is it possible that there is nobody in SGM wise enough?

  • RE Josh Harris –

    One thing to keep in mind is that Josh has been thoroughly indoctrinated in the belief that following those in authority over him (i.e. his dad, and then CJ) is how he follows Jesus.

    I’m thinking it would be difficult to recognize just how that mindset permeated everything, let alone ditch that mindset. I’ll bet Josh has been experiencing all sorts of internal conflict and confusion over the past couple of years, as he slowly comes to grips with the fact that the Gothardite ideas about authority – the assumption that it is always God’s will to accept and follow whatever one’s authorities do and say, and that to not do so is tantamount to rebellion, which is sin – are not actually right.

    I think this is likely the reason that Josh has not spoken out as much or done as much to stand against CJ and SGM as some people would have liked. After a lifetime of believing that someone in CJ’s role is his God-ordained authority and therefore ultimately always right, even when he’s wrong, it would be extremely difficult to “just follow Jesus.” In the Gothardite mindset, following Jesus = following your authorities.

  • Mary

    Kris – I understand that because we all bought into that too. But, I would bet that somewhere in SGM is at least one leader that God is speaking to – for them to do something and they are too afraid. I also think that Josh should be able to figure out that he has to obey the Holy Spirit over CJ. Paul said to follow me as I follow Christ…CJ is following himself and not Christ. At some point Josh is going to have to choose the Holy Spirit over CJ. Plus Paul didn’t exactly follow the church leaders of his day! Thank God he didn’t or grace by faith would be a principle long gone!

  • Mary

    For any Christian to follow the way CJ or any leader said to do anything…over doing what you know your bible says to do…has to know they are not honoring God. If following leaders equals obeying God than all those sinners in Jesus’s day should not have followed Jesus they should have remained under the legalistic leaders of the day.

    If Josh can’t put God’s word before CJ than he should step down. I think God’s word is very clear on what baby steps they could be taking and it is sin for him not to. He can’t win the battle by hiding in his house waiting.

  • Mary

    btw..I know he is taking steps “inside” his own house…in the church….but there is a battle out here to. I don’t need anything from CLC or SGM but I am passionate about the Church as a whole. This has gone on a ridiculous amount of time. I know they are aware that they have not done all that God’s word says to do to be peacemakers themselves…but instead keep preaching to others about forgiveness and peacmaking like the burden is on the people here. That is why I liked what stunned said in #451…yes we will…but what will you do….

  • Rorshach

    Just Saying:
    > What you’re talking about is imprisionment, I believe. Where culpability can also be transferred to those who refuse to report a witnessed felony. However, The statute of limitations on what transpired between leadership and Larry is done – so reporting what happened would be disregarded. Believe me though, if it was still in effect, and a federal prosecutor would look into it, I wouldn’t hesitate to report it. – Rom 13:1-7

    > That is tragic about what you witnessed with the child. I pray the kid is okay. :(

  • Lee

    Ozymandias @ 471,

    thanks for the links–very interesting stuff!

    Frank at TeamPyro links to another blog by a guy named David Kjos, and I find this interesting about what he said about the Band of Bloggers meeting at T4G “Bottom line: if you’re not on the inside, you’re not qualified to speak.
    The arrogance is astounding. But arrogance isn’t the only offense. Equally shameful is the attempt to silence critics with faux moral superiority and sweep the whole matter under the rug. First, we were told that insiders only were the legitimate observers and commenters on the affair. Then we heard from Collin Hansen, formerly of Christianity Today, now of The Gospel Coalition, that, just as everyone at CT knew Billy Graham and family were off-limits, no one at The Gospel Coalition was ever going to publicly criticize co-founder James MacDonald. So outsiders were not allowed to speak, and insiders were unwilling to speak. (I reserve high praise for Thabiti Anyabwile for breaking omerta.)

    Wow, this describes a lot of what is going on when people try to describe CJ/SGM!

  • I think on a cognitive (conscious-thinking) level, Josh has always known that he should follow Jesus through the Holy Spirit’s leading, and not blindly support CJ and SGM.

    But on a subconscious instinctive level, so many years of the Gothardite mindset about “umbrellas of authority,” even if communicated in mostly unspoken ways, would be really hard to recognize, let alone ditch. Although Josh Harris was famous in his own right prior to his involvement with SGM, so much lip service has been paid to the idea that Josh was discipled by CJ and CJ made Josh who he is that Josh probably has little frame of reference to realize that that isn’t exactly true. And if Josh really believes – as I think he still believes – that he owes this HUGE debt to CJ and that CJ is in large part responsible for who Josh is today, then standing up to CJ and rejecting what he now stands for would be something like being at war with himself, and rejecting himself.

    I’ve always said it was a neat trick that CJ pulled, to pluck up-and-coming Josh Harris off the homeschooling speaking circuit and build him from the ground up into CJ’s successor. In so doing, CJ not only gained access to a whole new audience – the people, particularly the young people, who had bought Josh’s book – but he also was able to look tremendously humble (“Look, everyone! I think so little of myself that I believe an uneducated and inexperienced kid can do what I do! I think I’m replaceable!”), all the while ensuring that he actually retained full control of everything, since Josh would be eternally indebted to CJ for the opportunity and the discipleship. CJ knew that his protegé would feel a tremendous obligation to always support him and temper any criticism with flowery statements of his undying gratitude.

    CJ’s selection of Josh was a stroke of genius. Even now we are seeing just how cunning a move it actually was. Yes, Josh has proven over the past year that he is still somewhat his own person with his own thoughts and the ability to stick with his own convictions. But old habits die hard. Old training is VERY difficult to reject completely. Those Gothardite ideas about how submitting to one’s earthly authorities = submitting to Jesus are deeply embedded in Josh Harris’ mind. And there’s of course the gratitude element. It has been beaten into Josh that he owes his entire career to CJ. Like I said, doing battle with CJ and rejecting some of what CJ stands for would be like being at war with oneself and rejecting oneself.

  • Uriah

    I remain disappointed that Josh and the rest of the pastors have not come out and publicly stated, what CJ did in leaving CLC was wrong. The CLC pastors have also not admitted their culpability in falling prey to the fear of man regarding CJ throughout their history together. They have not admitted that the reason they needed to change the polity was because the previous polity was WRONG. They have not confessed to the congregants at CLC that because they followed a wrong polity many people were hurt. The farewell letter the CLC pastors wrote to CJ and company is another example of presuming to speak for the entire membership at CLC. I can’t imagine that 75% of the congregants would have given CJ the free pass that Josh and company gave him.
    Finally, Josh’s last message about Elijah was an excellent message and I can see where he, along with the members of CLC, could feel the dismay that Elijah felt. However, there is one huge difference…… Josh, nor the members of CLC, have ever confronted CJ and called him to account for his behavior according to Matthew 18… they stopped short when they should have brought him before the church to be publically rebuked. That never happened because the pastors at CLC never allowed the church to engage in this responsibility. They seem to selectively apply their new polity when it suits them and don’t apply it when it doesn’t.

  • Mary

    Kris, I agree. It is hilarious though that CJ pulled that one off because everyone I talk to outside SGM knows Josh and very very few know CJ.