From Brent Detwiler: A Response To The Ambassadors Of Reconciliation

Ambassadors of Reconciliation Refuse All Reconciliation Attempts 

The Ambassador of Reconciliation (AoR) Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries (April 10, 2012) raised many troubling concerns for me.  Chief among them the hypocrisy of Ted Kober who serves as the President of AoR.  After its release, I attempted to interact with Ted in private. 

 When those attempts failed, I sought the help of Jim Pappadeas (SGM Refuge), Kris (SGM Survivors), Mole, and Larry Tomczak.  I tried to set up a meeting with Ted to discuss our concerns for his report.  Ted did not respond to these initiatives either. 

Yesterday, I wrote the Board of Directors for AoR.  I brought my concerns to their attention and made them aware I’d be posting a public rebuke on my blog given Ted’s refusal to meet in private or follow his own teaching.  I also presented my case against Bryce Thomas, the trial lawyer hired by SGM, who helped design the Three Panel Review that took place last December.  I asked the AoR Board to take disciplinary action against Ted, Ed Keinath (co-author of the report), and Bryce for failing to follow the Standard of Conduct for Christian Conciliation. 

I now bring this matter to the attention of those effected by the AoR Report and invite you to write Ted Kober (, Ed Keinath (, Bryce Thomas ( and the AoR Board of Directors ( in a redemptive manner in obedience to the process outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. 

I am confident Ambassadors of Reconciliation has done much good helping other groups experience reconciliation.  Unfortunately, some of their efforts have produced greater suffering and division for those inside and outside of Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

What follows is a chronological presentation of my/our unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation. 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 6:33 PM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Offenses with Me

Importance: High 

Hello Ted,

I just finished reading your report.  I get the feeling there is a substantial list of undiscussed and unresolved issues in your heart toward me.  This concerns me since you have never written or talked to me about any offenses you may have with me.  In contradistinction, I have always talked and written to you about all my concerns.  I’ve been open, honest and transparent about the faults/concerns I have perceived in your perspective, character, or approach.   

Therefore, please highlight each section or sentence of your report where you have me in mind and send that to me.   It is impossible to know who you are referring to in comments like “Another threatened to publicly humiliate and discredit us by posting extensive blogs on the web if we didn’t respond in certain ways by that person’s imposed short deadline.”  I am glad to entertain your criticisms but I need to know which ones apply to me.   

I’d appreciate your prompt response. 

Thank you,



From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:29 AM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: RE: Offenses with Me

Importance: High 

Please call me if you prefer to do this via a conversation.  Today if possible.  I need you to point out each statement in your report where you have me in mind.  You have not come to me in private so I want to afford you that opportunity. 




From: Brent Detwiler 

Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 1:12 PM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: RE: Offenses with Me

Importance: High 

In the report, you claim you “addressed sinful attitudes, words and actions of key individuals” but that is not true with me.  We had two conversations.  During those interactions you never addressed any attitudes, words or actions of mine as sinful.  The subject never came up.  The statement below is entirely untrue as it pertains to me.  You have never come to me in private.       

“The Ambassadors of Reconciliation team addressed sinful attitudes, words and actions of key individuals or leadership groups privately as Scripture requires.  Some expressed fear that the AoR team would not confront key leaders or groups on individual actions that contributed to the conflicts.  Others expressed their desires that the team would expose sins of key leaders or admonish them publicly.  Just as this report does not publicly address the sins of individual members, neither does it publicly address the sins of individual leaders.  However, AoR did address such issues with key leaders privately.” 

After our second conversation on January 25, you wrote me on February 4.  In that letter you ask me to consider several questions but you did not correct me or reprove me for sin except for one passing sentence.  That is, “Moreover, I don’t often see the love and forgiving heart in you that your Lord Jesus has shown you.”  That is the only corrective statement you made and it was not something you ever talked to me about in person.  In fact, you never followed up after February 4 about any of the questions you posited for my consideration even though I wrote you about the contents of your letter.  You cut off all communication and refused to interact with me. 

 Here is the point.  You have never corrected, confronted, reproved, rebuked, or addressed any “sinful attitudes, words and actions.”  You asked some questions in writing but you never told me my attitudes, words and actions were sinful.  If you believe I have sinned against you or others, you have not told me so.  As such you have flagrantly disobeyed your own teaching.  You did not come to me in private.  Even more seriously, you make the false claim in your report that you obeyed Scripture when in fact you disobeyed Scripture as it pertains to me.  That is totally misleading.

Ted, I have aught with you.  Please leave your altar and call me.  The first thing I want to know regards which comments in your report are directed at me.  The second thing I want to know is why you never came to me in private.  You have never talked to me about any sins you feel I have committed.     


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:00 AM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Kris and Jim 

You did not come to me in private.  Did you go to Kris (Survivors) or Jim (Refuge) to correct them in private before posting your report? 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:26 PM

To: Kris; Jim @ SGM Refuge

Subject: Ted 

Did Ted ever talk to you in private and correct or confront you for the sins he accuses you of in the report? 


From: Jim @ SGM Refuge 

Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:38 PM

To: Brent Detwiler; Kris

Subject: Re: Ted 

We talked privately, but the blogs were a very small part of our conversation.  There was zero correction.  He broke his own ministry guidelines. 


From: Kris

Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 12:22 AM

To: Brent Detwiler

Subject: RE: Ted 

No.  Never.  And I did something I never do – I actually initiated a conversation with him via email, offering to be of assistance in any way I could.  He never responded to my email. 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2012 11:08 AM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Great Hypocrisy

Importance: High 

Ted, you have acted with great hypocrisy toward Jim, Kris and me.  You need to make this right.  See their responses [above]. 


From: Brent Detwiler 

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 8:51 AM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Are You an Ambassador of Reconciliation?

Importance: High 


In your report you make the following statement: 

“Our observation is that the power of worthless talk (Ephesians 4:29 if) 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.  Coupled with the falsehoods and exaggerations about AoR, our team members and work were the threats and condemning words sent to us.  Based on false information, people made assumptions, misquoted and twisted our words and statements, and made D**ning statements against us.” (p. 10) 

The facts show you did not come to me, Jim or Kris.  I’d like to know if you went to anyone in private.  Did you attempt to restore these individuals in a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1) as you are apt to point out to others?  Or did you leave them in their sins and give them no opportunity for repentance?  You make no reference to any attempts to act as an ambassador of reconciliation.  It appears you are content to make vague accusations on a website but are unwilling to approach such individuals in a biblical manner. 

You are completely at odds with your teaching if you have not gone to these people and acted as a peacemaker.  I also wonder if you are exaggerating the magnitude of the sins against you since you provide no evidence.  What falsehoods?  What exaggerations?  What threats?  What condemning words?  What false information?  What D**ning statements?  Without evidence I am concerned these kinds of statements may constitute “worthless talk” and “sinful judging.”  You spend a lot of time in the report highlighting how people have sinned against you.  I am not sure why you felt the need to do so.  Are you bitter or resentful? 

Most importantly, however, have you contacted each of these people regarding the accusations above to work out your offenses?  Have they been given the opportunity to respond? 

I am still waiting to hear from you.  Please tell me all the places in the report where you have me in mind.     




From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 9:47 AM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Use of Email 

Given your position on the use of email and your counsel to SGM, why didn’t you call me regarding the “sensitive issues” contained in your February 4 email?  From my perspective, you did not follow your own admonition.  Do you agree?   

“It seemed apparent to us as outsiders that leaders within SGM have made extensive use of email for rather sensitive or confidential communications. While this may be an expedient way to communicate when key leaders work from scattered locations, the extensive use of this medium in sensitive communications seems unwise to us…. Matters of confronting others about sin, discussing issues with legal implications, discussing employment or supervisory information, confessing sins or forgiving others, and other similar communications should be done in person or documented in more formal written communications.  Email tends to be less formal and inadequate for addressing sensitive issues.” (p. 15) 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:14 AM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Mole 

In your report, you appear to have Mole in mind as one of those individuals who has sinned against you and SGM?  Is that correct?  If so, have you gone to him in private to confront his perceived sin and be reconciled? 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 2:57 PM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Great Travesty 

Dear Ted, 

Here is your authoritative exhortation to the Sovereign Grace Board of Directors about going to be reconciled.  It is found in the Consultation Report from last August:   

“Before engaging the help of other Christians (such as through Ambassadors of Reconciliation), we remind the SGM Board members of their biblical responsibilities to initiate action for reconciliation. 

“Note that the direct teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul urge us to go and be reconciled to those with whom we have disputes.  It does not matter whether we believe we have been sinned against (Matthew 18:15), the other person is entrapped in sin (Galatians 6:1), or if the other person has something against us (Matthew 5:23-24). We are to make every effort to make peace (Romans 12:18; see also Hebrews 12:14). 

“As we consider these and other verses in the full context of the Bible, we see that “going” to be reconciled requires more than email, more than blogs, more than letters, more than phone calls – it requires going to meet face-to-face.  Note that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son (John 3:16). Jesus the Christ humbled himself to become flesh (Philippians 2:1-11) and come to earth in person to dwell among us (John 1:1, 14). 

“Note also that our responsibility to “go to be reconciled” is not excused simply because another indicates that he does not want to meet.  God reconciled us to himself “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:6-11).  God did not wait until we desired for him to come. 

“It is obvious to us as we read the documents written by Brent Detwiler and met with you that there are broken relationships between Brent Detwiler and C.J. Mahaney, between Brent Detwiler and individual members (current and former) of the Board of Directors, and between Brent Detwiler and the entire Board of Directors.  According to Scripture, it does not matter who caused the offense.  When relationship is broken, it is incumbent upon every believer in Christ to “go and be reconciled.” 

“Scripture does not excuse us because we are fearful that our words might be twisted.  Scripture does not excuse us if we think the other person might not listen.  Scripture does not excuse us if the other party indicates in emails that he will not meet with us.  Scripture does not excuse us if the person does not live in our town.  Scripture does not excuse us if the other party has widely shared his complaints against us.  Scripture does not excuse us if the whole world reads about the complaints against us in some public media.  People find all kinds of excuses not to obey the teachings of Scripture, but our social practices and customs are not what guide God’s people in such matters.” (Ted Kober, Consultation Report, August 24, 2011, pp. 13-14) 

My question is simple.  Why haven’t you followed any of your own demands?    In relation to me, Kris from SGM Survivors, and Jim Pappadeas, you have made no effort to walk in the light and be reconciled.  I suspect the same is true of Mole but you have not answered my questions regarding him.  In all seriousness, have you made any effort to meet with anyone you speak against in the report?   Have you taken any action to contact those with whom you have offenses?   

The majority of your offenses go back to August-November of last year.  You’ve had months to pursue reconciliation.  Once again, why haven’t you followed your directives in relation to me, Kris, Jim, Bob and others?  Per your admonitions, you should have been on a plane to meet with each of us months ago.  Furthermore, why haven’t you written me as requested?  Why haven’t you called me as requested?  Why haven’t you offered to meet with me?  I am ready to do all of the above.   

Ted, you have done nothing you have taught thousands of others in relation to us.  This is a great travesty and needs to be corrected. 


From: Brent Detwiler

Date: Fri, April 20, 2012 7:03 am

To: Mole

Subject: Ted Kober 

Has Ted ever come to you in private to confront or correct sins he believes you have committed against SGM or himself? 


From: Mole

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 9:15 AM

To: Brent Detwiler

Subject: RE: Ted Kober 

No, why do you ask? 


Family Counselor


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:41 AM

To: Mole

Subject: RE: Ted Kober 

Have you ever talked to Ted or Ed [Keinath]?  Did you meet with either of them last November at CLC?  If so, did they ever register any concerns for you? 


From: Mole

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:45 AM

To: Brent Detwiler

Subject: RE: Ted Kober 

Marsha and I were told by another couple who interviewed with A of R that their counselor had indicated with dismay and shock, that in fact, 104 pastors had come forward in an effort to expose SGM for their abuse. 

Our interviewer [Ed Keinath] was moved to tears as we shared [our] story.  He gave every indication that he completely sympathized and understood the tragedy of our situation.  When we were finished with the interview I looked out the small window of the office door and saw Gene and Liz sitting there.  I asked the interviewer to please escort Gene and Liz down the hall so we could leave without interacting with them.  He did so and said, “I absolutely understand.”  


From: Mole

Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 11:58 PM

To: Brent Detwiler

Subject: A of R 

Brent…. Marsha reminded me that at the end of our session with Ed, he asked me if I would be willing participate in a meeting in order to address concerns about SGM.  This was yet another indication from A of R that they were taking our complaints seriously.  Our hopes were very high when we left. Unfortunately, I never heard from anyone from A of R again.  Looks like it will stay that way. 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 4:19 PM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Follow Up on Mole 

Bob met with your associate, Ed Keinath in November at the Pastors Conference.  Ed only empathized with Bob.  He did not confront him on anything.  No one from AoR has ever brought any concerns to Bob’s attention.  Just the opposite.  I hope you did not have him in mind in your report.  I await your clarification.  Did you? 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Saturday, April 21, 2012 6:43 PM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Take Along One or Two Others – Matthew 18:16  


I wanted to talk or meet with you in private in order to show you your fault and win you over (Matt 18:15).  I’ve waited five days for a response of any kind but you could not take 5 minutes to call me or two minutes to text me.  You should have expressed eagerness, if not a willingness, to meet with me.

I’ve written you numerous times over the past week.  I asked to talk with you.  I asked to know what parts of your report are in reference to me.  I pointed out your dishonesty in saying you addressed sinful attitudes, words and actions with me in private when you did not.  I pointed out your hypocrisy in not coming to me when offended at me.  I pointed out your hypocrisy in relation to Kris and Jim for the same thing.  I asked for an explanation on your use of email in raising “sensitive issues” contrary to the counsel you have given others.  I asked whether you have gone to anyone with whom you have offenses.  I’ve told you your sins in print.  I’ve asked to do this in person.  In spite of all this, you have made no effort to “leave your gift at the altar” and “settle matters quickly” with a “brother [who] has something against you.” (Matt 5:23-26.) 

Ted, you have grievously sinned against me, specific others, the abused, the churches of SGM, and the larger Body of Christ.  Therefore, I have asked Kris (SGM Survivors), Jim (SGM Refuge) and Mole to appeal for your repentance.  I also asked them to join me in meeting with you per the teaching of Matthew 18:16.  As is obvious in your report, you believe many people have sinned against you (and SGM) and yet you have not gone to them.  We also believe you have sinned against us.  For example, you confronted us in your public report but never came to us in private.    I assume you justified doing so by leaving out our names but it is readily apparent who you had in mind.  That amounts to duplicity.  

Ted, you have set a terrible example for one who teaches others on peacemaking and the pursuit of reconciliation.  You have not been a conciliator.  You have brought more division.  To be honest, I am concerned you hold sinful anger in your heart toward us and others.  This much I know for certain; you have repeatedly violated Matthew 5:21-26, Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:15, Romans 12:18, Galatians 6:1 and Hebrews 12:14.  I hope you will repent to us in private and then make public restitution.  Please let me know by Monday if you are willing to meet with us or talk to us using Skype.  Then we can set a date and make arrangements.  If Kris, Jim or Bob are unable to participate, I will provide other witnesses as required by Scripture. 

Please show me the simple dignity of a response.  Sinners do that much.



From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2012 3:37 PM

To: Ted Kober

Subject: Please Contact Me Today 

Please don’t let the day pass without calling or writing to set up a time to meet with us for reconciliation.  As I said before, I am glad for you to point out in the report where you had me in mind and then tell me my faults. 




From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 4:41 PM

To: Jim Pappadeas; Kris; Mole

Subject: An Appeal to Ted Kober

Importance: High 

Dear Jim, Kris and Bob, 

I’ve repeatedly attempted to contact Ted Kober.  He has been unresponsive.  Though he shows no interest, would you be willing to meet or talk with Ted in accordance with the second step of redemptive discipline outlined in Matt 18:15-17?  I believe he has sinned against us and others.  Kris, we can make special arrangement for you if you are unable to join us in person or prefer not to use Skype.   

I’ve limited the scope of my correction in addressing Ted for now.  There are some good parts in his report.  There are some bad parts.  Mostly, there are missing parts.  I believe Ted has sinned in other ways but I will address those additional matters in private and give him the opportunity to respond.   

For now, I’d appreciate your assistance in helping Ted to see his hypocrisy, unwillingness to attempt private reconciliation, and public slander having not come to us first.  You are also welcome to share your general perspective on his report.    

Bob has already provided me a statement to send Ted.  Jim and Kris, would you do the same?  It can be short.  I will also ask Larry Tomczak for his perspective on the report.  I’d like to send them to Ted tomorrow if possible.   

I know we are not in habit of communicating with each other but I felt it important that we collectively reach out to Ted, appeal for his repentance, and share with him our perspectives. 

I’ve included my private correspondence with Ted below.  I plan to post our correspondence this week if he is unresponsive and ask others to reach out to him and Ed Keinath and appeal for their repentance.  I will also contact the Board of Directors for Ambassadors of Reconciliation.   

Thanks for your help.



From: Jim @ SGM Refuge []

Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 9:29 PM

To: Brent Detwiler; Kris; Mole

Subject: Re: An Appeal to Ted Kober

Importance: High 

I would love to interact with Ted regarding his condemnation and misrepresentation of my blog.  As AoR’s primary blog cheerleader, I’m surprised my efforts were ignored by Ted.  I’m not hurt or offended, just surprised.

I am greatly disappointed that Ted was apparently offended by the perceived sin of those abused by SGM leaders, and felt the need to add to their pain with his very public condemnation.  I’m really having a hard time wrapping my head around such a blatantly hurtful act coming from the president of an organization that calls itself Ambassadors of Reconciliation.

If Ted honestly cares at all about reconciliation, he should publicly repent to the abused, as he has now joined the ranks of the abusers.  His actions bear no resemblance to peace making.




From: Kris []

Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 8:23 PM

To: Brent Detwiler

Cc: Guy

Subject: RE: An Appeal to Ted Kober 

Hi Brent – 

Our policy has always been that we want to remain anonymous.  Although we were very disappointed with the way that AoR chose to go after “the blogs” as relentlessly as they did, without attempting even a simple response to the emails I sent, in which I offered my help, I don’t really feel like we need to participate in any sort of reconciliation process with anyone – at least not the sort of process that the AoR people would expect.  We would not wish to speak on the phone or Skype with anyone.  We’re happy, however, to have you pass on the following statement to the AoR folks: 

To whom this may concern: 

As random bystanders who were ourselves thrust unwittingly into the midst of SGM’s problems back in late 2007, we definitely sympathize with the magnitude of the job with which the AoR organization was tasked when hired to explore SGM’s weaknesses and failures and attempt to bring healing to SGM’s victims. 

Much has already been said on the Survivors site in response to the report which AoR released recently.  If I were to summarize our readers’ reactions, I’d say that many were very disappointed with the way so much of the report’s focus seemed to be upon “the blogs” and the (perceived) sinfulness of those who had spoken out about the way they’d been harmed by SGM.  It came across quite clearly in their report that the AoR folks had taken personal offense with “the blogs” early on and never bothered to dig more deeply to try to find out WHY AoR was met with suspicion.  Consequently, AoR is – ironically – guilty of committing the very same sins toward blogs and bloggers that they themselves had found so off-putting.  The AoR representatives felt free in their report to vent their disdain toward “the blogs” without ever having communicated with anyone from SGM Survivors.  (And this, of course, was despite the fact that I’d made at least a couple of efforts to engage with Mr. Kober via email back in December and offered to help AoR in any way I could.)   

Also, since it is my understanding that AoR was hired to examine and evaluate Sovereign Grace Ministries, NOT “the blogs” or SGM’s victims, it was especially bizarre to see so many peevish references to all the ways in which bloggers and SGM’s victims did not meet AoR’s expectations.   

That being said, I can truly say that AoR’s report was, unfortunately, essentially what I had expected it to be.  I’m sorry that that turned out to be the case, but I can understand why a “reconciliation” business with only the most rudimentary outsider’s understanding of SGM’s history and culture would lack the perspective and the knowledge to look beyond SGM leaders’ pretty words and shining surface behavior and see how twisted the organization actually has been. 

We don’t want anything from AoR.  But if they would like to grow from this experience, I would suggest that they consider the ways they failed SGM, SGM’s victims, and themselves by being so quick to accuse bloggers of sins without taking the time to explore more deeply where the bloggers are coming from – and why they themselves felt it was OK to castigate “the blogs” in their report without first following their own rules for conflict resolution. 




From: Mole

Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:45 AM

To: Brent Detwiler

Subject: RE: Ted Kober 

As most people understand, it is extremely difficult for anyone who has been abused to report the offense, even to the proper authorities for a myriad of reasons (fear of retaliation, fear of more abuse, ostracism, fear of revisiting the feelings and emotions relevant to the abuse, embarrassment, shame, etc.).  Everyone who shared their stories of abuse with A of R were hoping that by entrusting their story to the perceived “proper authority,” in this case A of R, justice and resolution would occur.  The very last thing abused individuals expected was for the proper authority to essentially turn on them.  This is a great travesty.  These people are now doubly harmed and have had emotional and psychological problems aggravated by their experience with A of R.  

Our interviewer [Ed Keinath] was moved to tears as we shared [our] story.  He gave every indication that he completely sympathized and understood the tragedy of our situation.  When we were finished with the interview I looked out the small window of the office door and saw Gene and Liz sitting there.  I asked the interviewer to please escort Gene and Liz down the hall so we could leave without interacting with them.  He did so and said, “I absolutely understand.”  

Personally, Marsha and I feel betrayed.  We were told by another couple who interviewed with A of R that their counselor had indicated with dismay and shock, that in fact, 104 pastors had come forward in an effort to expose SGM for their abuse.  He gave every indication that he completely sympathized and understood the tragedy of our situation. When we were finished with the interview I looked out the small window of the office door and saw Gene and Liz sitting there. I asked the interviewer to please escort Gene and Liz down the hall so we could leave without interacting with them. He did so and said, “I absolutely understand.”  

Prior to the interviews starting I wrote A of R asking them to reconsider the venue for the interviews because they were asking the abused to come back to the place that represented where the abuse occurred.  I also mentioned the Pastors Conference was simultaneously being held where those reporting abuse would likely see their abusers face to face (which of course they already knew).  In light of the emotional trauma this would likely engender in those reporting abuse, I asked them to reconsider where they had chosen to do the interviews.  They ignored this request (which further demonstrates and lack of appreciation and knowledge in dealing with abused people).  

Looking back, now that the report has come out, I am convinced A of R simply did not and does not comprehend what has happened to those who have experienced abuse at the hands of SGM.  I’m afraid rather than resolve any problems or being ambassadors of reconciliation, they have stirred up a hornet’s nest and are complaining as to why they are being stung. 




From: Larry Tomczak []

Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 5:41 PM

To: Brent Detwiler

Subject: Re: An Appeal to Ted Kober 

To whom it may concern:

I have been asked my thoughts on the AoR report.  First, I appreciate all the hard work that went into this project dealing with very sensitive matters in scores of people’s lives.  I trust AoR was well compensated.  

Second, after waiting and praying for almost a year regarding this endeavor (regularly not daily), I was EXTREMELY disappointed with the results.  I could scarcely believe what I was reading.  I believe multitudes share this perspective.  

Third, my wife and I believe the report was a serious disservice to scores of people who invested incredible amounts of time and effort to serve the AoR team.  Doris and I gave over 250 hours to prepare for our contribution in addition to travel time and the days given to the interview.  Addressing the illegal, immoral and documented blackmail plus the reprehensible conduct that shattered our reputation, relationships and family ties (plus our livelihood) was afforded a dismissive SIX sentences in the report!  Unbelievable.  

Finally, we are of the opinion that if the SGM leaders had simply done the report on their own, they would have been more forthright and harder on themselves than this most favorable AoR document.  

When we shared our experience with Ted and his assistant, one wiped away tears and the other dropped his head in shocking dismay at our traumatic experience, manipulation, falsehoods and numerous examples of unChristlike behavior we experienced that could have destroyed our Christian lives as a family of six.  We, like hundreds of others who experienced spiritual abuse from SGM leaders, now wonder if some of the apologies and asking of forgiveness will have to suffice.  

We love you Ted and the team but inquire if your labors represent the accurate picture of the systemic problems that multitudes hoped would be addressed and corrected so SGM could begin a new season in humility and integrity.  

Trusting God’s sovereign grace, I am, yours in His service,  

Larry Tomczak 


From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 9:14 AM

To: Ted Kober

Cc: Jim Pappadeas; Kris; Mole; Larry Tomczak

Subject: Private Appeals Continue

Importance: High 

Dear Ted, 

It has been over a week since I first asked you to call me.  I don’t understand how you can reject all my attempts to engage you.  I believe you have sinned against me and I am happy to hear how you believe I’ve sinned against you.  I’ve sincerely sought to engage you in a redemptive and biblical manner but you appear obstinate in your rejection of all attempts at reconciliation. 

Jim Pappadeas, Mole, Larry Tomczak and I would like to meet with you.  We all have concerns for your Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries from April 10, 2012.  We would like to discuss our concerns with you personally.   

In obedience to Scripture and for your godly good, I’ve also asked these men to join me in helping you see how you have sinned against us and others.  I’ve included their appeals and perspectives [above] but this is inadequate.  We also need to meet in person.  As it stands Ted, you are rebelling against the commands of Scripture and living contrary to everything you have taught and demanded of others. 

I have many things to say about the report regarding inaccuracies (e.g. AoR’s confidentially requirement), bias, unfactual assertions, and dereliction of duty.  That is, how you largely failed to address what you were tasked to do.  There are some good and bad parts in the report but the most important parts (e.g., C.J. and the Board’s deceit) are left out.  I will write you in private about these matters and give you the opportunity to correct my perspectives before I share them at large.  The report is public.  It requires a public response. 

Of greatest importance for now is your failure to meet, hear our offenses, or pursue reconciliation.  Your indifference undermines all your credibility and the entire ministry of which you are the President.  If you have not done so already, send my previous appeals to your Board of Directors along with this correspondence.  I hope they will reprove you and hold you accountable to the most basic tenets of the organization. 

Ted, I have faithfully sought to obey Scripture in my pursuit of you.  Please text, email, or call me today.  I’d like to keep this matter confined to Jim, Kris, Bob, Larry and me.  Whether I appeal to a wider audience is up to you.  Contact me by the end of the day so we can set up a time to meet in the near future. 

God’s grace rest upon you. 



I would add that my own interview with Ed Keinath also was in complete contradiction to what AoR published. Ed told me that since last summer he and Ted had been concerned about the the board’s blind devotion to CJ. He also expressed whole-hearted agreement when I indicated that at the heart of SGM’s problems was a culture of selfish-ambition. Ed also indicated that he and Ted estimated that about 20-30 churches within SGM were already prepared to leave SGM.   

I don’t pretend to know why the report does not match what was communicated to many of us but the disharmony between what we heard with our own ears and what was published casts a significant cloud of suspicion over the report and the SGM leadership. 

I plead with you that if any of you fear God and know why this disharmony exists that you would come forth.  

Jenn Grover 

Pittsburgh, PA

423 comments to From Brent Detwiler: A Response To The Ambassadors Of Reconciliation

  • MAK

    Breezey…I’m not really getting your point. If you don’t believe in transsubstantiation then you really shouldn’t be going to the Catholic church as I don’t believe they are going to change their view because Winkie Pratney has the real truth. If you can’t subscribe to a church’s doctrine then you should go to a church where you do and thrive there. To your point, CLC/SGM doctrine has changed several times since TAG so it is kind of a moving target, huh? So did you really want to be a part of a Calvinist church when you were Armenian?

  • Breeezey

    I know this is off the current topic but some months ago someone posted all of the ways that wives were taken, found, met, captured (whatever) in scripture. I forgot to copy it. Could someone post that again please? Thx

    BTW… I left CLC in 93. I came back in 2002 and it was very different. The emphasis had changed to a more Calvinistic bent. I didn’t like it too much but as a person that went to TAG waaaay back when it was still “home”. When I tried to fully rejoin in 2007 Robin told me that “We don’t think you being a member here would be a good fit. The questions you ask and the things you say… well those issues have already been decided. Maybe you would be happier in a more Armenian based church.”

    In the ten years I was gone I was still hanging out at Fishnet and had cultivated a friendship with Winkie Pratney. I had been literally trained in Moral Government thoeology. I had read through a bunch of Finney’s stuff. Winkie had showed me some of Augustine’s errors and the stuff he had bought into the church that was now hard doctrine that was not taught in the first 300 years of church history. So I was asking questions in the evening classes that reflected that there were HUGE gaping holes in what they were teaching. To say I had ticked off a couple of folks in putting it mildly. I had given a couple of PC students some stuff that the teachers didn’t like too well. Augustinian/Calvinism is logical straight down the line from the premises. But I believe that Augustine was influenced heavily by Mane and he bought those influences into his christian teaching. Calvin picked up on it and made it a logical system due to his training as a lawyer. But the premises that Augustine starts with are wrong. Its Eastern and Augustine got it from Mane and bought it into the church. The church has now been teaching Augustine (irresistable gift of faith, eternal now in the being of God, etc…) for 1500 years but it isn’t the original view.

  • Roadwork

    RE: Fire Alarms
    That year, IUP had lowered the alarm boxes to be in compliance with the ADA. Lowering them on the wall also meant that they were now in easy reach of children. Hence, the big clear plastic enclosures that you often see covering the actual alarm boxes.

  • Persona

    I remember the errant fire alarms. Not sure what all the true reasons for ending celebration were but, I think CJ was getting tired of the never-ending conference circuit. He also wanted to focus mainly on youth. Hence the retention of the one youth celebration, and now, one more NEXT and, the Clash conferences. Even the children’s version of Celebration at CLC each summer was likely encouraged by CJ and spearheaded by one of his son’s in law. CJ no longer cares much about baby boomers but, he is target-fixed on their children and their grand-children.

  • Does anyone remember what year Mahesh Chavda spoke and ministered at Celebration East? That was the last year I remember charismatic gifts being expressed at the conference. It might have been 1995. When Mahesh prayed, many people were slain in the spirit and healed. I saw some pretty dramatic healing occur. He visited CLC later and prayed over people again with the same results but I don’t remember him coming back after that.

    I am almost positive that was in 1993. That was the same year they had all the boys pulling the fire alarms in building. The next year the even was a singles only event (no children) though they never admitted a connection between the two.

  • Persona

    Oz 416

    Jeff wasn’t involved in the earliest incarnations of the PC but, Brent was so he probably has a pretty good record of what happened and I would defer to him. I don’t keep copious records like he does.

    I do recall Jerry Bridges speaking on at least one Sunday during the ‘refreshing’ season because it was a awkward to watching them usher him quickly off stage so they could conduct their customary time of extended worship and ministry. And, I was watching to see how they would handle the transition.

    Anyway, traditionally, once a year Jerry would speak on the Sunday after he participated in the PC. Then, they started asking him to also speak at a youth meeting at night as well. At some point, I heard he made comments at a youth meeting that the pastors did not appreciate so they didn’t ask him to do that any more. I have no idea what he said but it must have struck a nerve.

  • Defended

    For the sake of those who are trying to build timelines I can tell you that Mahesh was NOT at the Celebration 95. But there was a lot of healing and ministry going on in the celebration that year and also in our Fx congregation on Sunday nights that year, all summer. Both he and Charles Simpson had been invited prior to that year. I know that because 95 was our first celebration experience. We went again to Celebration in 96 but it was much less full of the Holy Spirit so my guess (only a guess) is that CJ put a stop to the freedom in the Holy Spirit around 96.

  • Ozymandias

    Persona #409 said:

    CJ and Jeff had been inviting reformed teachers to teach in the PC, for week-long sessions, by 1995. So, I believe those relationships well predate the ‘refreshing’ of the Holy Spirit (as some pastors called it).

    And Brent’s latest post stated:

    Jeff also had a big impact on our pneumatological decline. In 1994, Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology came out. It is a fine work in most respects but it contributed to the demise of our Acts 1:8 experience of power and several supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. In 1998, Jeff moved to Gaithersburg, MD to be Dean of Student Affairs for the Pastors College. I was Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. The following year, I turned the college over to Jeff. That was 1999 and the same year Wayne Grudem endorsed People of Destiny International in our Ministry Overview issue of the magazine. Jeff graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was mentored by Wayne and served as his teaching assistant. Jeff brought Wayne’s “third wave” understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work and his fundamentalist’s view of apostles. After joining People of Destiny International, Jeff came to accept a low view of apostles. That view was passed onto others and especially to C.J.

    (1) Persona, do you have any ballpark dates as to how much the invitations of Reformed folks to lecture at the PC predates 1995?

    (2) And again, Persona, does Brent’s chronology comport with what you understand/remember of how things went? Was Jeff helping to organize PC lectures prior to moving to Gaithersburg in 1998?

  • Persona

    Does anyone remember what year Mahesh Chavda spoke and ministered at Celebration East? That was the last year I remember charismatic gifts being expressed at the conference. It might have been 1995. When Mahesh prayed, many people were slain in the spirit and healed. I saw some pretty dramatic healing occur. He visited CLC later and prayed over people again with the same results but I don’t remember him coming back after that.

    It does seem that the pastors did not seem to know what to do with the expression of the gifts after they began relating heavily to the reformed big dogs.

  • Unassimilated

    The Passion For His Presence Worship LP was recorded at Celebration 1995, released later that year.

    From a former post –

    In the 90s came a chapter that I wonder if Sovereign Grace would even like to talk about today. In 1994, C.J. Mahaney visited a New Frontiers-related church in Missouri, which Terry Virgo was overseeing personally following a pastoral replacement. As Mahaney began to preach a sober message on the sad ending of Solomon’s reign, “holy laughter” began to break out in the church. Mahaney could no longer continue speaking, as the entire congregation was hit with the same renewal that currently was underway in Toronto, and being dispensed by Rodney Howard-Browne. The renewal affected both NFI and PDI, and throughout 1994 renewal — what PDI called “a time of refreshing” — held sway at CLC and other PDI churches. The high-water mark came at the Memorial Day 1995 Celebration conference in Indiana, PA (theme “Passion for His Presence”). In addition to prolonged periods of worship before the main evening meetings — punctuated by powerful prophetic songs — personal ministry was done after one evening meeting. As at Toronto or other renewal spots, the Holy Spirit came in power, and bodies were on the floor by the hundreds as prayer ministry produced laughter, tears, shaking in most of thoese receiving prayer (including myself).

    Though there was never any official public pronouncement given, it appeared that PDI began distancing itself from the Toronto-associated renewal after John Wimber expelled TAVC from the Vineyard in December 1995. While in 1994 and 1995 Mahaney was defending the renewal from its critics, including Hank Hanegraff, within a couple of years a PDI pastor, Craig Cabaniss, stated in a public debate that PDI had chosen “Geneva” (i.e., the Reformation) over “Toronto” (the current renewal/revival, and all the negative connotations associated with it).

  • glad i am out

    A few pastors from CFC also flew to Toronto to see what was happening. Following that we had weekly “Holy Spirit” meetings for several months. My very best memories at Cov Fel. The spirit was definitely moving, and it was exciting, although i must admit it got a little weird at times. None of the pastors seemed to understand how to, or whether to, try and direct what was happening (control it?)… It was so new to everyone and so crazy, and some people pushed a little hard to “encourage” being slain in the spirit, and clearly some extra training and teaching was needed. I thought that that might be why these meeting were stopped, although, i believed the HS would continue to move among us and we would grow as a church in that way, as clearly scripture says we are the pursue the gifts and all.. I hate to think that the reason the Holy Spirit stopped (and i mean REALLY STOPPED! even beyond the way things were before Toronto) was because CJ showed him the door. He probably called the pastors and said, hey, you shouldn’t have gone there, and we need to nip this in the bud. And after that things got continually drier, and deader, and even oppressive, for the rest of my years in SGM.
    Even before Toronto, i used to leave sunday morning services lifted up and encouraged. During the “renewal” even more so. After the HS meetings were stopped, it just changed seemingly overnight – it took a few more years to realize it fully, and a few after that before i had to leave. And a lot of folks i know felt the same way. I mean, sure, you don’t want people praying in tongues all the time and scaring the guests, ok, i get that, and you certainly don’t want people cackling in extreme divine joy while rolling on the floor – i certainly get that, but you no longer believe in prayer, and you no longer pray for the sick???? Whats up w/ that!!!

  • Remnant

    5Years #405: I agree CJ has a right to change his mind.

    The problem, as you stated, is that he attempts to hide what he used to believe.

    Another problem is that when CJ changes HIS mind, he expects instant acquiescence by his cohorts and immediate obedience by the SGM tithe-payers that THEY will change THEIR minds – no matter his whim.

    He is one sick dude.

  • Defender

    Stunned, As I recall it was 96 or 97, when that “Passion For His Presence” Worship CD was recorded. (Not during the recording.)

    A move of the Holy Spirit was coming over the people during one session, and a spirit of repentance was taking place in the hearts of the people, and Ceege stopped it to say something to the effect, “I don’t want to go in this direction.”

    I wasn’t in that session, I was at that Celebration though. (It was our last Celebration…. Celebration just didn’t “turn our cranks.” We always came home more exhausted than “refreshed”. AND, I didn’t like the controls put on everyone who attended.)

    I’m sure someone who was there can elaborate better.

  • Maybe Dave Harvey should list these reasons for being “called” to the ministry (at least as a pastor in SGM):

    1. You are related to someone who is already a pastor in SGM, especially if they are one of the more known names. This is especially true if you are related to C.J. Mahaney (makes you a shoe in).
    2. Your wife or engaged wife is related as noted in question 1. It could also be someone else you are related to by marriage.
    3. You have some type of contact with C.J. Mahaney and he supports you. (maybe should be number 1 on this list).

    Sometimes it seems like these are the more prevalent reasons one is identified as “called” or “gifted.”

  • Persona

    CJ and Jeff had been inviting reformed teachers to teach in the PC, for week-long sessions, by 1995. So, I believe those relationships well predate the ‘refreshing’ of the Holy Spirit (as some pastors called it).

    I remember how CJ would ask someone like Jerry Bridges to give a sermon on the final Sunday of his week and then, rapidly usher him off-stage when the worship team began the ‘ministry time’ after the meeting, where people might be slain in the spirit. It seemed to me at the time, that the pastors did not want to offend or embarrass themselves in front of any Reformed Big Dogs. That was my impression at the time.

    A small group of CLC pastors (and some wives) did make an investigative trip to Toronto to judge for themselves what was happening. I don’t remember them giving a report to the church about what they found. I do know they found some things shocking but, I think they tried to be open to participation in what the Holy Spirit was long as it didn’t offend their new-found friends in the reformed community…and that, I guess, is the rub.

  • Stunned

    Ozy, at which Celebration did CJ stand up and (not sure how to say this) but proclaimed that he was in charge and that everything with the Holy Spirit would be put to a stop immediately. (I don’t think I said that well, but I’m not sure how else to put this.)

  • Ozymandias

    5Years #405 — Yeah, that was the section I found the most intriguing as well. The historian in me has been waiting for some details regarding SGM’s “(neo)Reformed turn,” including some specific dates, and this is helpful. My next question is — what precipitated the initial meetings between RC Sproul and CJ? Here’s how I understand some of the more “(neo)Pentecostal” chronology around the same time:

    early January 1994 — Toronto Blessing begins

    23 January 1994 — Healing Conference @ Anaheim Vineyard — Che Ahn has holy laughter experience

    29 May 1994 — Toronto Blessing hits Great Britain

    summer 1994 to 1995 — CLC experiences Toronto Blessing-type incidents (w/ holy laughter, slain in the spirit, holy weeping)

    If the initial foray into meeting with Reformed luminaries started to occur in 1995, was it in reaction to the Toronto phenomenon?

  • BeenThere

    Brent seems to think abandoning the idea of present day Apostles was a major deviation for SGM. I’m Continuationist, but out of all the things you could single out and identify as a major problem I would think the idea of Apostles would be last on your list. A lot of people in charismatic and pentecostal circles have seen how the position of Apostle has been abused and used to control people so you get a lot of pushback on that issue even from contiuationists, much less the fundamentalists or reformed types.

    Anytime I hear someone identifying themselves as a prophet or apostle I see a major red flag.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I found Brent’s latest post fascinating.

    CJ has the right to change his mind. We all have the right to study and think and change our minds over time. We all should in many ways as we mature.

    But do you have the right to hide and deny what you used to think? Is it fair to constantly say you are “doing it right”, make big changes, and refuse to talk about them openly or admit to them, and keep on saying you are “doing it right” without admitting how wrong you were before, back when you were doing something different and also claimed to be right?

    If you believe in apostles you should say so. If that costs you acceptance in Reformed and Cessationist’s circles then that is the price you pay for remaining true to Scripture. You can’t introduce extra-biblical nomenclature in order to save face with men whose favor you are courting. Playing the “wisdom card” became an excuse for compromise.

    At this time, the Reformed world of R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, Ken Sande, et al., was opening up to us. C.J. first met with R.C. in 1995. We visited John Piper in 1997. We were all enamored and wowed by these developments. The following well-known leaders prominently endorsed us in our annual Ministry Overview issue of the magazine: David Powlison (1996), Jerry Bridges (1997), Wayne Grudem (1998), Ken Sande (1999), Mark Bullmore (2000), Mark Dever (2001), John Piper (2002), John Bettler (2003). C.J. ended the magazine in 2003. Together for the Gospel began in 2006 with Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, John MacArthur, and John Piper. This was heady stuff.

    It wasn’t long before our Polity and Pneumatology began to change. I sounded the alarm on polity in 1999 when I wrote a paper on “The Nature and Extent of Apostolic Authority.” Apostles were slowly on their way out.

    The same was true with the baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, prophecy, singing in the Spirit, the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, miracles, faith, healings, the casting out of demons, etc. By 2007, C.J.’s understanding of all this things radically changed though he never communicated those changes to the movement. Dave and Steve followed C.J. I asked these men to be open with SGM about the changes in doctrine. They thought it unwise. I thought it deceptive.

  • TR

    Diane #402
    “Every sentence I was listening to I was thinking..but that’s not what you practiced at SGM. And when talking about how pastors must be godly examples, how can he say that with a straight face?”


  • Somewhereintime

    New Brent post up. He’s been busy … this one is a long one.

  • Diane

    I came across this video of Dave Harvey this evening discussing his recent book for anyone who is interested.

    Watching it -what he says seems so normal and right. But, having read the comments and stories of abuse and what not here since this all broke out last July, it is simply incredible the disconnect between what he is saying and the reality of how things were described here and in Brent’s docs. Every sentence I was listening to I was thinking..but that’s not what you practiced at SGM. And when talking about how pastors must be godly examples, how can he say that with a straight face?

    The title even–are you called…I remember reading comments about how men were more or less chosen to go to the PC…it was more of a who you knew than a calling they accepted. Anyway, I found it interesting and kind of sad.

  • Lee


    Oh, sorry, I didn’t see your post before I posted. Maybe someday they’ll see.

  • JeffB

    Lee –

    No, they certainly don’t, among many other things I commented on this (#397).

  • Lee

    SGM and the AOR report get a mention in today’s Team Pyro blog.

    They are discussing the Band of Bloggers meeting from T4G. I still don’t think they get that the issues go way beyond Brent Detwiler’s and CJ ‘s relationship.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Technically speaking that is a different convention than the SBC. In the unseen providence of God there are no coincidences in this world, but it may be simple economics having nothing to do with SGM or reverend Al and his school.

  • JeffB

    Well, Mr. Frank Turk has a post on Pyromaniacs today criticizing The Gospel Coalition on the way it handled criticism of the Elephant Room fiasco involving the inviting and kid-gloves treatment of T.D. Jakes. Turk makes some good points about some of its members’ elitism and disdain for the opinions of ordinary folks. Virtually everything he says about TGC applies to SGM, but he doesn’t see it.

    Even more maddening is his using the SGM situation as an example of when “public statements would hurt the private conversations”:

    “Therefore, let’s think about the perfect example of that — the mud fight surrounding SGM — as it is also instructive. JT [Justin Taylor], as the insightful and helpful blogger that he is, actually nails it in his statement: what happened to those with the (in my view: unreasonable) hunger and thirst for justice is that they gave up on any kind of ethics in order to make public every jot and tittle of perceived wrong-doing and to demand a pound of flesh because they said they were offended — and not because there was any substantive offense.”

    He then quotes the parts of the AOR report that deal with – you guessed it – the blogs and the anger of some of the people giving testimonies.

    He can’t – or won’t – see that these things are the results of many years of lies and stonewalling by the leaders.

    If you can stand to continue reading: Tom Chantry, a sort of assistant Pyro guy, makes this comment on the post:

    “Bingo. Have you ever seen a church in which a member of the board of elders is held to a different standard than a new member in his twenties – and it isn’t a higher standard? Boy is that ugly. People start saying things: ‘It’s as though the leaders are above criticism,’ and ‘this church is little more than an old boys’ club.’ And of course, those who say such things are right, even if they are maligned as being ‘divisive.'”

    But, of course, this couldn’t *possibly* apply to SGM churches.

    In another comment, he gets snarky:

    “…where is the Anti-CJ militia? I thought they’d be all over this post like fleas on a junkyard dog.”

    To which Turk replies: “If they show up now, Chantry, I’m going to ban them and blame you.”

    Ha-ha! What cut-ups these guys are!

  • Stunned

    One third of employees leaving is never just a coincidence. I’m afraid we may have a few new friends joining us here on the blog soon.

  • PhillyInDC

    Layoffs a-coming in Kentucky:

    Basically it says: “One third of Kentucky Baptist Convention employees are opting to resign or retire early in anticipation of a reorganization of the Baptist Building staff in Louisville. ”


  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kaz…..I believe you. Thanks.

  • Ellie

    Good on you!

  • Oswald

    Ex’sMom #389 — Amen and amen.
    God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Praise His Name!

  • Persona

    KAZ 390 “I believe in full disclosure and then allowing adults to decide for themselves haveing all the facts at hand.”

    I couldn’t agree more. We sat through more deceitful meetings and announcements than I can count. It used to amaze me the lengths the leaders and employees would go to in order to hide the truth.

  • KAZ

    @5yearsinPDI 387

    What I am saying is they quickly rewrote this document ( I have yet to see an orginal and yet to ask for one ) to coinside with the splitting of the church. It made it look like Crossway Surrey was going to do all these great things after the split when in fact these things were planned before the split was even contemplated. The plan as I saw it was to try and win the people over to stay becuase after the split happenned all these awesome things were going to happen. Unfortunatly it did divert the attention of many from the truth of how the split happenned so they stayed. The truth is this whole SGM situation was used as an excuse to seize control of this church.
    NOW dont get me wrong Crossway Surrey may indeed do some of these great things but their moveing forward is birthed in deception. Sound firmilar ?

    @Persona 388

    I am not implying slight-of-hand ….. I am saying it. See I am just a mechanic who is not under the gag order LOL I believe in full disclosure and then allowing adults to decide for themselves haveing all the facts at hand.

    @ “the guys”

    YES its me and await your hate mail LOL

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Defender, Anon, and 5 years-I agree with all of you! Honestly, when I see all the changes going on in my life right now (not to do with SGM), and know the changes in so many others lives, and see the changes in SGM churches that are happening, and think of all the lives impacted, and then still the lives that are NOT impacted..How magnificently expansive everything is, and think how God is so intimately involved in it all-caring for each of us individually..I can’t help but break out in praise to Him who is so infinitely Incredible! Praise God, that he is so much bigger than all fo this, and His truth will prevail! I especially LOVE that he loves me. :Heartbeat:

  • Persona

    KAZ 385

    I do think it is wise for people within SGM churches to evaluate why their leaders choose to do and say and write what they do. That is easier when you really know the men behind the words. The kind of slight-of-hand you imply is consistent with our experience at CLC. I was hoping for more but, I have a hunch God is going to continue to break-up SGM into smaller bits. Super-sized churches may look really successful to mankind, but I don’t think it is actually God’s preferred way to grow his church. One example would be the early church in Jerusalem.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    We will be broadening our
    eldership to involve ‘non-vocational’ or ‘lay’
    elders to share the load of pastoring the flock.
    These men will come from the congregation, be
    known to the congregation, and be affirmed by
    the congregation (Titus 1:5). Lay elders will have
    the same authority as vocational elders and will
    function as pastors and overseers of the flock.

    Kaz…you saying they wrote this just to get people to stay?

    I guess we can go with Paul in Phillippians 1 and say that even if their motives are insincere and selfish, we can still be thankful that they are saying the right thing. Some lay elders not dependent on the church money hopefully will be for the better.

  • KAZ

    Persona 383
    That document has a giant story behind it. Its definatly got the attitude of the people who left Crossway Surrey written all over it but was hastily rewritten to deflect the attention of the people who stayed. It is unfortunate that some people stayed at Crossway Surrey just becuase of this document. I believe people should be apart of a certian group of believers becuase God has been clear about what He wants. The concept being played out here is people staying becuase of lies, deception and not wanting to leave their comfort zone…… ok I am going to stop now cause the rant maybe endless LOL

  • Stunned

    Persona, would you, please, provide a link to that document?

    Defender- not forsaking the gathering of believers- ha ha ha ha

  • Persona

    Wow, the Crossway document, ” The Way Forward” sure is encouraging. I hope more SGM people read it and change in similar ways.

  • KAZ

    Oswald I am from the west coast of Canada so its all about the west for me :o)
    I think by next Christmas the SGM church map will look very different ……
    The church split I was referring to was Crossway Community Church in Surrey B.C. Many will not call it a split but rather say a new church was planted from Crossway of Surrey. Kinda like CJs new church is being called a church plant from CLC. The new church that split from Crossway Surrey is called Redemption Hill Church. I have not asked the new churches head pastor what he thinks of this SGM situation directly but I do see a drastic change in him towards the good. I suspect the leftovers at Crossway in Surrey will eventually leave SGM but those are only my thoughts. AND ya I keep calling Crossway in Surrey becuase I do not want it to be mixed with any other church named Crossway in SGM …..
    The church that has closed is in the Pacific Northwest and was headed by a great friend of mine ….. I am sad when any church folds and even more with this one becuase of my love for those people down there. I dont really have anymore details becuase I have not ridden down there in awhile.

    My thought is that things are still in play even when we dont see all that is going on …… I am being taught patience LOL

  • anon

    @5years, “God is in this. It is way bigger than SGM now- it includes dozens of big names who have taken the side of abusive false apostles- and I don’t think God’s exposing purpose is over.”

    I agree. I have seen as a result of this debacle things I never saw, some very disturbing things coming from the leaders in the American Protestant world.

    @Defender, “…occasional irrelevant banter is good just to ‘stay in touch.’ After all, we don’t want to forsake the gathering of (or discussing between) believers, do we?”

    tee-hee. :i-heart-us:

  • Oswald

    KAZ #378 — Now you’ve peaked our curiosity and given us some things to try to figure out. I heard that the church in the Akron, Ohio area is ‘having problems’ and a young church-planting intern/PC grad is being sent from CovFel to go there and help out.

  • glad i am out

    I believe dave is 50. I remember years ago talking to dave and learning he is a year older than me ( i am 49)…

  • KAZ

    I think alot of people including myself are quite becuase we or myself at least did not see God work in the ways I thought He would. I am not discouraged but just sad that God did not soften some mens hearts to repend and become more real in christain walks ….. there are still things going on though in the land of SGM , a church split ( other than CLC ) a church closing its doors , and even an upper management SGMer giving this blogger a word of encouragement dispite him knowing my contributions here.

  • Oswald

    Persona #364 — Actually, I think Dave Harvey is only in his early 50’s, so not that close to retirement, but just reaching his peak of influence.

  • Defender

    We all, each in his/her time need to “take a break” from time to time and hear God.
    YOU are not a neglectful moderator.

    Quite frankly I think this is just a little quiet between storms.

    Besides, occasional irrelevant banter is good just to “stay in touch.” After all, we don’t want to forsake the gathering of (or discussing between) believers, do we?


  • intheNickoftime

    Persona #364 –

    Tyrants/despots NEVER give up or retire!

  • SamMcGee

    @MAK 373

    CJ’s house is shown on as “Contingent with kick out”

    Purswell’s house is for sale as “For Sale by Owner” and isn’t listed in as for sale.

  • MAK

    I’m not sure if CJ will be at graduation but he normally is. CJ’s house is still for sale. I’ve heard that the Kauflin’s has sold. Purswell’s and Ricucci’s are not on the market yet.

  • Oswald

    So, will CJ and all, be in G’burg for the graduation? Do they still live there?
    Have any of the SGM big guys homes been sold yet?
    Just curious.

  • Bridget

    MAK –

    Contributors to the PC may have been a bit disracted this past year :)

  • MAK

    Actually, it’s late this year…the second weekend in June…I’m not sure why.

  • In Adullam's Cave

    I’m guessing significant news will break soon after the Pastors College year is over. Graduation is usually somewhere around the 3rd Sunday of May.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    “sanctimoniously idiotic drivel from the likes of AoR a few weeks ago”

    I think it was shocking for many of us, after so many good reports about interviews with the AoR staff, from Jim P at Refuge and others.

    Even Brent’s docs, without the extra imput AoR got from over 100 ex pastors, show terrible systemic flaws. Add in Josh resigning from the board, CJ picking up and going to CHBC in defiance of his own rules for 30 years, and I think we all expected a hard hitting report from AoR.

    I thought exMom and the others who didn’t want to interview were far too cynical. Turned out they were right. I feel a bit gullible and taken in myself.

    Kris, God is in this. It is way bigger than SGM now- it includes dozens of big names who have taken the side of abusive false apostles- and I don’t think God’s exposing purpose is over. Take a nice long rest because I think God has not finished yet. We will see.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    I suppose that an occasional silence is just proof how we are not all men living in our Mother’s basements, sitting on the computer in our underwear-that we actually have other, productive lives to lead as well! LOL!
    Honestly, Kris, I totally understand, and agree with you. It is not like we have to ‘drum up drama’ will occur without any help from any of us! It seems like there is a ‘season’, so to speak..of waiting to see where the chips fall, and what choices are made..Everyone has had their hopes of SGM reform dashed enough times now that they are not so enthusiastically hopeful for a change there..SGM is running now, and yet they even spin that. SMH..The information is out there..I do believe Truth will ultimately prevail..The men at the stead of that organization are acting totally as I would have expected of them-dishonesty and escapism. Enjoy the peacefulness for a bit, because it is sure to be temporary!

  • Defended

    Thanks, Kris. I totally get it.
    For me I think no matter how much I thought I was skeptical of AoR I hoped they would have a shred of integrity. So dismay is probably more where I’m sitting than apathy.

    But I am more disgusted than words can say at the truly slimy slippery way Mahaney, Ricucci, Kauflin and all the rest he has been able to divide and polarize, to lead the slithering off to Ky. CJ himself would love to criticize and decry these actions from the stage in G’burg under any other circumstances.

  • Stunned

    Ah, the sweet silence…

  • Persona

    Well, I for one, like giving Guy and Kris a little break from the madness of SGM-AoR. Enjoy the calm while you can!

    I don’t know about anyone else but, it encourages me to think that most of the men at the top of SGM are nearing retirement age. CJ, John, Bob, and Dave are all pushing 60. They must be just a little weary from all the hiding, cover-ups, PR-building and packing. Lying is much more tiring than truth-telling. And, building a new church is pretty exhausting, too. The last time CJ did it he was in his early 20’s but this time he will undoubtedly feel his age.

    I wonder if CJ asked Josh for his baton back so, he can have it ready to pass onto the next guy before he retires from the senior pastorate, a second time?

    The organization will likely see a big shift in leadership in the coming two years, despite their current intransigence. So hopefully it will not always be such an unhealthy ‘ministry’. The Baptists may also have a positive affect on the members of the new plant.

    Anything can happen and God is perfectly able to give the gift of repentance, at any time.

  • Sometimes there’s just little to say. I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had the time to pay close attention to comments or (sadly) even the emails people have sent. I’ve been a neglectful moderator.

    But part of me just…well…I was going to say, “…doesn’t care much anymore,” but that’s not exactly accurate. I’ll never change my opinion of what SGM has been and what SGM has done. I’ll never be rid of my skepticism when it comes to all the changing they’ve supposedly been doing. (It’s really not that meaningful for an organization like SGM to change, if the change is happening only because people started calling attention to the errors in the old ways/teachings, and because leaders are eager to avoid embarrassment or other unpleasant fallout from the old ways/teachings.)

    I’ll never stop caring about trying to get people to see that the real day-to-day SGM isn’t so much like the SGM that is being slickly marketed to Generation NEXT and the rest of the Young, Restless, & Reformed world…

    But in terms of discussing SGM’s upcoming move to Louisville, or the new church that CJ is supposedly about to plant there, or Brent’s possible litigation, or people’s fruitless attempts to get anything more out of the Ambassadors of Reconciliation – well, the whole thing has become boring beyond measure to me.

    At the moment.

    (Guy always teases me, because without fail, whenever I say this, some big fit will hit the shan, and then things will start hopping here again. I wonder what it will be this time?)

    So – sorry for the silence on my part. After that sanctimoniously idiotic drivel from the likes of AoR a few weeks ago, I guess I’ve been rendered apathetic. Sort of. And – probably – temporarily.


  • JeffB

    Rapture? (I hope not.)

  • Persona

    You can hear a pin drop.

  • Test

    It has been pretty quiet here on the blog today.

    If there are scalpers selling tickets to the Derby then with the money C.J. has shown to have I am sure he could tickets.

  • Defender

    I understand that to get a ticket to be at the Derby, you have to make your reservations a year in advance.

    Hey Ceege! Get those tickets for next year, this week!

    I have watched the Derby every year for as long as I can remember, and this year I kept thinking, “I wonder how does C.J. think he’s gonna influence this?”
    Nah…..he’s not that important.

    It was an exciting finish, wasn’t it?

  • Nickname

    Wonder if the newly-arrived SGM royalty went to the Derby today?

    Can’t wait to see photos of their Derby hats, no doubt homemade and recycled from leftover wallpaper or such — and oh, the GT blog is bound to have a fabulous recipe for a Mint Julep. Wonder if they ran right over to the winning female jockey of the Oaks race to make sure she knows she ought to be home cleaning stalls?

    (BTW – I was struck by the interview with the winning female jockey; several times she used the word ‘thankful’. Nice.)

  • 5yearsinPDI

    You made me google it. I’ll post it for the other technochallenged people like me here.

    Clever really….although I suppose more fodder for SGM charges against the evil blogs…..

    binary four: n.
    [Usenet] The finger, in the sense of digitus impudicus. This comes from an analogy between binary and the hand, i.e. 1=00001=thumb, 2=00010=index finger, 3=00011=index and thumb, 4=00100. Considered silly. Prob. from humorous derivative of finger, sense 4.

  • Defender

    Nevermore, you have a good Dad. (And a good sense of humor.)

  • Nevermore

    Stunned, That’s so true. >< Recently a lot of these shame issues have been coming to light, and I'm AMAZED by how deep and tangled they are. Thank God for, uh, God. And good friends. ;)

    Defender, I'm glad I made you laugh! I like to amuse people. ;D Yeah, my dad taught me how to count in binary at a young age. XD

  • Defender


    So good-bye SGM, and four-in-binary!

    Instantly made me laugh out loud.
    I just love that!
    Now I gotta explain binary to my wife…

  • Stunned

    Nevermore, the shame is so awful and this kind of things last so long in your life. Years after you’re gone.

  • Luna Moth

    Well, hey there, Nevermore! :)

  • B.R. Clifton

    Concerned #349:
    People are reluctant to call it anything but those niceties because they are reluctant to call a spade a spade. Sometimes they are acturally afraid to call it like it is for fear of retribution. That fear is not always unfounded, as in SGM. Then there’s the real risk of these “Jokers” turning the tables on you and publically rebuking you for your (suddenly discovered) sin of pride, etc., etc.. After all they are the ones who stand on the platfrom and usually have the last say. It’s only in a form like this that the “Jokers” begin to get their nose rubbed in their own stuff.

    (Beating the Dead Horse here)

  • Nevermore

    Well said, Luna Moth! :D
    (I’ve posted here before, but under a different moniker.)
    The thing that most bothers me at the present time (and there are are many to choose from!) about SGM and similar groups is their treatment of women and girls. I grew up in SGCP (formerly ALCC)–unlike many of you, I had no choice to join, and I do think I would have recognized that den of liars for what it was, if I had met them at this point in my life. I know you can never tell whether you’ll get deceived by a cult, but I reserve the right to say that because hey, I was abused. Spiritually and emotionally abused. They contributed hugely to my OCD, which had (HAD, because I’m mostly over it now YAY!) a very moralitic, condemning tint.

    Then there’s the Modesty doctrine. Even now I feel uncomfortable with my body and who I am as a woman–not that I think I’m ugly, I’m just shy/nervous about choosing to be beautiful in my whimsical dramatic sensual romantic way (yes I’m Goth XD ), because of all the slut-shaming and “blame the victim” culture that went on. Not that I was an actual victim, but that didn’t stop them from blaming me. Blaming all of us, who dared to be young and pretty and impressionable and FEMALE. >.> This “make sure other people don’t get to close to you or *things* could happen” idea gives me problems even now, because even though I’ve rejected it, there are so many subconscious lingering threads. Well, as a friend of mine pointed out, I WANT those *things* to happen! So good-bye SGM, and four-in-binary! (I’ll leave it to those of who know the binary one-hand method of counting to figure that out. ;) )

    ^-^ ~Feminist, Goth, Mystic and beloved of the Prince of the Universe.

  • concerned for the kids

    Here’s something to ponder:

    I’m struck with the long trail of devastated individuals, families, literally abused kids, and ministers/ministries left behind these jokers, and the fact that largely they really don’t care, evidenced by the lack of repentence and refusal to follow the code they ask the sheep to live by.

    At what point does everyone stop calling it pride, unentreatability, ambition, narcissism, poor polity,and the like and start calling it what it really is: Evil?

  • SGMsingle


    Here is an example from my own observation of the difference between the approach of a 1970s Shepherding Movement leader vs SGM:

    Shepherding leader (publicly) YOU are a rebel. 1 Samuel 15:23 says “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft”. You have broken covenant, so you must be cut off from this fellowship.

    SGM CGL : (privately) Is there some reason you did not trust you pastor enough to ask for his counsel before making that decision?

    The difference is blatant domination vs subtle manipulation. Both can be hurtful.

  • In the above video talks about why the charismatic movement ended and she talked about sexual sin and control, especially control in catholic charismatic groups. There was also some abuse of money. It was the sex, power and to some degree money.

    The interviewer indicated that the charismatic movement is going “gangbusters” overseas but not doing much here in the USA. Julia indicated that in her opinion it wasn’t happening due to people not having dealt with root causes of sin in the USA and God was withholding revival till it was.

    I will try to get the book and see if she comments any more on what those root causes might be.

  • People might find Julia Duin’s video talking about her book.

    The video was recorded outside of Christ Church of Washington where TAG Ministries met. The books isn’t that much about TAG but she does mention this in the video.

  • JeffB

    Remnant #337 –


    Alas, I’ve never attended Camp Shoshanah. Had some in-person teaching from the Frucht, though.

  • Whirlwind

    @Oswald #343 – Thanks for sharing that. I’ve found it very helpful and encouraging.

  • Oswald

    Off topic, but an interesting article from Tony Reinke at Desiring God, link below. Titled “15 Tips on Blogging from John Newton” All the tips are backed by words from the writings of Newton. They could apply to commenters as well as bloggers.

  • Lee

    I recall that a news director of some sort from the NBC Evening News in Washington attended FFX for awhile back in the late 90’s She played the flute in worship and was really nice. I noticed after awhile (maybe a year?) she totally disappeared from church.

    Wonder if she’s still a news director and what she thinks of SGM? I don’t remember her name.

  • A reader sent me the following:

    Current and former SGM members may wonder if they are the only ones in Reform/charismatic circles to undergo these trials. Not at all: Those of you living in the Washington, DC area have a chance to hear Julia Duin, the former religion editor of the Washington Times, now writing for the Washington Post Sunday magazine, talk about her book about what went on with Episcopal and Catholic charismatics, whose problems with community life and control make what happened with SGM seem like child’s play. Her book “Days of Fire and Glory: The Rise and Fall of a Charismatic Community” talks about how a famous Texas church underwent very similar experiences and the lessons learned from the debacle. She will be talking about her book Saturday May 19 at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, specifically from 11:40 a.m-12:20 pm in the Rachel Carson tent. Her web site has more information about the book. Or you can buy it

    I don’t know anything about the author, but the book sounds very interesting. Of course, my hackles immediately go up anytime it feels like someone wants to act like what SGM has doled out somehow isn’t “real” abuse compared to what others have gone through in full-blown cults. Maybe the author of this promotional statement didn’t mean it that way. But I don’t think too many people who have walked through SGM’s shepherding, control, and masterful manipulation would call it “child’s play.”

    I actually think that the more subtle forms of spiritual abuse have different – and more insidious – effects. It’s “child’s play” to point to a a group that isolates itself on a compound out in the middle of nowhere and recognize there might be some dysfunction there. It’s a lot more difficult to see what’s happening when the dysfunctional group has technically correct “sound theology” and is working hard to make itself blend in better with mainstream Christianity.

  • Stunned

    QE2 said, “If Jesus, God in the flesh, did not spend time debating theology, or align himself with a particular group, why must I? If it were so important, wouldn’t Jesus have told us and the Spirit have included it in the Gospels? Why can’t we respect others as “believers” without using labels that divide?”

    Bravo. I wish I had said that.

  • Stunned

    Kris said, “But how in the WORLD did something like date night get connected with the word “gospel” when it has basically NOTHING to do with the good news of what Jesus has ALREADY DONE FOR US and everything to do with what we are supposed to put on our own “To Do” lists????????”

    YES! Amen!!!!!!! The work of religion is do’s and don’ts, but the work of Jesus was already DONE!

  • Luna Moth

    Restating the “agree with what you like”–

    “You mean that if you have two and two, you’ll call it four, but if you have one and two you’ll feel free to call it three??”

    Yes. Yes, I’ll call it three.

    (hee hee)

  • Remnant

    @JeffB, Breezey, Oswald: I just sat down to type a response and see that JeffB wrote it for me! I highly recommend the book Jeff mentioned on Israelology (a term coined by Fruchtenbaum, I believe). (Jeff, have you ever attended Camp Shoshanah?)

    I would only seek to add a point to this discussion: I firmly believe that one’s view of Israel (past, present, future) filters one’s understanding of present-day theology and the purpose and role of the Church. I find that SGM’s disregard of the topic shows an ignorance, a haughtiness, a pathetic neglect of a huge portion of the written Word and God’s outworking of His purpose on earth throughout history which has, perhaps, skewed their view of their own importance within the Body.

  • B.R. Clifton

    About whether a person should or shouldn’t, or can or can’t believe 100% of what an ecclesiastic says or teaches, nothing which purports to be of spiritual content should be taken at face value. Any biblical “proof texts” should be checked for validity as well as context. Any other biblical quotes should be similarly checked. One mis-quoted or “shoehorned” bible quote contaminates the whole thing. Remember, satan misquoted God’s command just a little bit, but it was enough to make what he said an outright lie. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” as Paul said. If a speaker is willing to misuse the bible even a little should be questions as to his motives for doing so. People, especially ordained speakers should be scrupulously careful how they handle the Word of God. Like God says in Is. 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”. Notice it says “no light”. A partial untruth is still a whole untruth.
    (Beating dead horse here)

  • JeffB

    Kris #321 – I agree with everything you wrote in this comment (so it must be correct, ha-ha). “Christless Christianity” deserves to be a classic, imo. If you read the Horton article I linked to, I’d be curious to know your opinion of it.

    FSGP #309 – If WMWest is Westminster Seminary California, yes, he’s still there. I, too, haven’t listened to WHI in a while, but, if his recent book, “For Calvinism,” is any indication, he’s less strident than before: “Unlike myriad sects, we do not regard our congregations or denominations as the only true church, but as part of the catholic church across all times and places.” Also, I don’t recall if he used to identify Arminianism with Semi-Pelagianism. In any case, here’s what he says now: “The crucial difference between Arminianism and Semi-Pelagianism is that the former insists upon the necessity of grace prior to all human response.”

    Stunned #305 – Thank YOU for clarifying.

    Remnant #304 – I’ve heard differing reports from people who have spoken to pastors at CLC, but I believe that they, and probably all of SGM, believe that the Church is “spiritual Israel,” even if they may not use those exact words. They seem to view the OT through the NT lens.

    Breeezey #322 – If Israel were a part of a Systematic Theology, it would be called “Israelology.” (I highly recommend “Israelology: The Missing Link In Systematic Theology,” by Arnold Fruchtenbaum.) I think you gave a good brief overview of the main issues.

    Oswald #328 – Rom. 9:6-8 speaks of physical Israel and spiritual Israel. Spiritual Israel are those of physical Israel who are believers in Messiah, i.e. believing Jews. The context of this passage does not deal with Gentiles or the church.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    You know, Breezy, as horrible as it was how the pastors handled the situation with my family, I DO know (and have all long) that there were people who wanted to help us. One year, Loftness met with me Labor Day weekend, to tell me the children would not be allowed to attend CLC school..That Monday school was to begin, my children had already attended the open house, and saw their desks..I had never dealt with the public school system, and here I did not even have time to figure it all out! I went to my wonderful friend, Cathie Farr’s house, devastated, and in tears. She organized some people who went to the Pastors, and paid the tuition for my whole family that year! (That had been the pastors’ ‘excuse’, was that they could not afford to pay for my family-a very interesting excuse now that we have had some of their financials revealed). There were many wonderful Saints, who did care, and helped as they could-but many were discouraged, mostly due to the pastors allowing gossip and slander to spread through rumors and lack of true, honest information. But, I look back, and think, as difficult as ti was to endure, because of the way they treated me and my children, I left their organization. The world treated me kinder, and was more helpful than that church. God was with me always. In looking back now, I can see the effects on my children-the older ones, who spent the most time within that culture, are most opposed to any experience with Jesus, or even God at all. In my family, the less exposure to SGM any child had, the more receptive they are to the Gospel, therefore, ultimately, I would have loved to left way earlier, even being ‘exposed to the world’, because my children who have grown up outside of a church have fared so much better. But, thank you-I do appreciate your kind thoughts. I never go to the G at AH, though, but I appreciate your ex-wife’s sentiment. To me, the lesson I think to learn is that we should hear God speak to us for ourselves concerning who and how to help anyone, and to speak to them directly, because we are each responsible for our own heart towards God, the the subsequent actions that occur out of the abundance of our heart. I am praying for those poor people in Lousiville.

  • Mommy2boo

    I once had a fellow church member accuse me of being prideful for not agreeing with 100% of Piper’s teachings. I felt he had some good things to say, but some just didn’t sit right with me. When I voiced this, he said that it was wrong of me to think that I have a greater understanding of scripture and God than John Piper.

    It’s that perspective that helps me understand why they’re so willing to take CJ’s blatant inconsistencies at face value.

    Quite sad when you think about it.

  • presbyterian

    RE:325: I so agree with idiocy of having to take everything 100% or not at all. I think it ties with the SGM view of being scared of culture and the whole a half a poison pill is still a poison pill thing. This is another way that SGM (and unfortunately they are not the only one) does not embrace typical/historical reformed theology is their view of culture. How they are more Mennonite in being scared and separate from culture, instead of seeing that God is in everything and we can learn from all. I did not like at all the 1/2 a poison pill sermon series at CLC, was very afraid of culture and not really biblical or reformed. We differ from the world in our christian view, but it is a difference of principle, as Van Til would say, it does not mean that we can get nothing out of culture. In fact Calvin even says “Shall we say that the philosophers, in their exquisite researches and skillful description of nature were blind? Shall we deny the possession of intellect to those who drew up rules for discourse, and taught us to speak in accord with reason? Shall we say that those who, by the cultivation of medical arts, expended their industry in our behalf, were only raving? What shall we say of the mathematical sciences? Shall we deem them to be the dreams of madmen? Nay, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without the highest admiration; and admiration which their excellence will not allow us to withhold.” We can learn from those who we disagree with, or who are not fully reformed, or who are not Christians, God is bigger than man, and a sovereign God can and does use everything to teach us about him and to benefit us.

  • Oswald

    QE2 and Luna — In the same way, we need not discard someone’s input from our thinking just because mention of their name incites us. As an example, CJ has preached some good and effective sermons, though now it’s difficult to listen to him speak.

  • Moniker

    Well, good grief, that only makes sense, QE2 and Luna! What kind of nutty person would like what he disagrees with and not like what he agrees with? :Daze:

  • Luna Moth

    I had someone attempt to correct me by saying “so, if you like what an author says about something, you agree with it, but if you don’t like it, you feel free to disagree?”

    QE2, I have heard something like this, too…It really silences you, doesn’t it?

    But now I’m going to answer. Yes! I feel free to disagree! If what John Piper writes doesn’t fit how I know my Lord–yes, I will disagree with it.

    The Lord is my Teacher and He can lead me in His way. He can lead me deeper into the truth. It won’t matter if I made mistakes along the way.

    But yes, I will freely disagree. Why should I not? Could my disagreeing cause my Lord to forsake me?

  • Oswald

    Breezey #322 and Remnant #304 — I think a read of Romans 9 speaks to who Israel is. (vs 6)-For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, (7)and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” (8) This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
    Take notice of all the ‘not’ in the text.

    That says to me that believers, as children of the promise, are counted as Israel or Abraham’s offspring.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    Oh the conversations I had years ago w/ one of my former pastors (SGM) about Wilson’s materials, FV and masculinist theology. Interesting to hear it re-hashed here. I don’t think my observations made much of a difference in my SGM church but another former pastor’s did, and his books were eventually dropped from our church “bookstore.”

  • Sea change

    Re: Kris #321

    While I was in sgm I heard a lot of that “gospel centered _____” (fill in the blank with whatever…marriage, sports, etc) and “applying the gospel to ______”. You’re right, it does sound like an indisputably good thing on the surface. Once you really start to think about it though, in some cases it makes absolutely no sense and seems like it’s just something to say to make you sound holy.

    When I first heard these phrases, especially in a care group setting, I have to admit I didn’t have a clue about what it meant, and felt like I just needed to nod my head and agree so I didn’t seem stupid. I was brought into sgm as a very young adult without great roots in my beliefs or theology in general. So I went from scared and confused, and inclined to believe that what all these really spotless looking people around me were saying was just too much for me to grasp, to wondering if something was askew. Sometimes I felt like asking people to explain in detail what they meant when throwing out certain phrases, just to see if they were blowing hot air, or if they really had something good to say and I was incapable of deciphering it through the sgm speak.

    The special language is a great way to differentiate the insiders from the outsiders in a church culture (any culture really). It’s also is a rite of passage in a way. Once you go from a confused newcomer in a new culture to a fluent speaker of the language, you feel like you have accomplished something. You are then granted the ability to look at those who come in behind you and think “wow, I remember when I was that clueless. I can’t believe he just said that! They’ll learn…”

  • QE2

    I always wondered why people thought they had to embrace every single detail about whatever-reformed theology, Douglas Wilson, etc.

    Why must it be either 100% or nothing?
    Does “unity” really mean being identical?

    I have a few Douglas Wilson books. There were some things that I really liked-his bluntness, for example.
    Some of what he said spoke to me. Other things seemed off. So I took what was valuable and blessed me, and left the rest.

    I guess I think that everyone should be able to read something, think about it, take from it what is valuable to them, and discard the rest. Maybe it’s one of those Jedi mind tricks from SGM-you peons just can’t discern things for yourselves, and just reading the wrong thing will cause you to blindly follow it away from God and through the gates of hell.

    I had someone attempt to correct me by saying “so, if you like what an author says about something, you agree with it, but if you don’t like it, you feel free to disagree?” One of the strangest things I have heard. We were discussing a John Piper book. It seemed like he thought that because John Piper was John Piper, I had to believe that everything he wrote was spot on. I didn’t understand why I was obligated to do that, why I couldn’t form my own opinions on things if they were different than the opinion of John Piper.

    I don’t have to identify myself with any theology group or label. Calvenist, Armenian, Reformed, etc.
    If Jesus, God in the flesh, did not spend time debating theology, or align himself with a particular group, why must I? If it were so important, wouldn’t Jesus have told us and the Spirit have included it in the Gospels? Why can’t we respect others as “believers” without using labels that divide?

    Discussing, even debating, things of the Lord is great! But to have any one man or group feel like they alone are correct and understand every single thing about every single issue, and demand that others acknowlege that, and feel that those who see it another way are less, is just unbiblical.

    Sorry. Rant over.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    If you espouse his FV beliefs in the OPC or PCA, you are likely to have charges brought against you and be removed as a Pastor…

    There are several reformed churches in the Charlotte and surrounding areas that embrace much of what Doug Wilson teaches. Matthews OPC is one of them.
    They also have a classical school called “Greyfriars.”

  • A Kindred Spirit

    While homeschooling, it was our interest in “classical education” that first drew us to the “Wilsonites.” We were SOOOOOOOO impressed with all of them. It was refreshing to be with “like-minded” people when it came to so many things we believed about education and the Christian faith. Bit by bit, however, we began to observe things that concerned us. It was very similar to Kris’s personal experience with SGM. In fact, I could have started a blog about “Wilsonites” that probably would have sounded very much like those early posts Kris wrote.

    I’m not quite sure why God allowed me to be exposed to both SGM and the Wilsonites. It has caused our family great pain and heartache. But He’s a good God and I know He loves my family and me very much. I trust Him, although there are days that are really hard. I know He has a reason.

  • Breeezey

    :Thinking: :Thinking: To ExCLCer’sMom… I have 2 daughters and 2 sons and I’ve been divorced twice. I’ve been very cognizant of the fact that my girls look at the way I treat their mothers, even in the midst of a break up. I’ve told my sons that girls look at their dads with the thoughts running in the background “is this the type of man I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with?” Even in the midst of a relationship that doesn’t quite work out, how is the break up handled. Is there a lot of screaming and physical or mental abuse. Is there respect afterwards. My exexs and I get along fine and although divorced I’m still “part of the family” and welcomed at weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings. My sons and daughters see how I’ve treated their mothers even in the midst of the break up and while things aren’t perfect we get along and respect and care for each other. (BTW… I showed my ex your daughter’s story and she had no idea. She was literally horrified. She told me that if we had known there is no way we would not have taken at least 2 of your kids. By that time our nephew had gone into the navy and we had the space in his old room. I told her to tell you so when she sees you at the checkout at G in AH.)

    Remnant #304… You used the term “Israelology”. I had never seen that term before. By pulling it apart I get Israel – the physical land mass that God gave to Abraham and the Jewish people that God covenanted with, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God made dozens of unconditional promises to them. He swore by Himself to fulfill them. Many are not fulfilled but the physical rebirth of the nation of Israel on May 8, 1948 is the beginning of those fulfillments. Ology – the study of. So putting them together I get the study of Israel, the land and the Jewish people.

    I’m a dispensationalist precisely because in order to descern prophecy properly you have to be. Daniel’s 70th week is a return to Israel under the Law. And the church can’t be here on the planet when the focus is back on His covenanted people. There is no warrant in scripture for the church to inherit Israel’s promises. After 70 AD there was no Israel so Christians wondered about those promises and gave them to the church or interpreted them allegorically. Now there is a physical Israel with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob living there (and speaking Hebrew as their first language)and while giving those promises to the church was an explanation for 1800 years (and it was the wrong one) it is hard to get rid of. It is considered the “proper” historical view.

    That’s my “Israelology”. (However, I did leave out the persecution of the Jews by the church and why.) Am I close to yours? :Thinking:

  • I have to say, Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity was a book that really encouraged me. I’ve used thoughts and lines highlighted in Christless Christianity many times before here – like the fact that the word “gospel” means, quite literally, “good news.” And “news” implies information about something that has already happened. Therefore, the true gospel is about what Jesus has already done for us.

    This has been especially helpful for me as I’ve encountered the crazy ways that SGM has misused the term “gospel,” turning it into one of the organization’s favorite thought-terminating clichés. When an SGM pastor (or some other leader) talks about “bringing the gospel into” this or that area (as in, “Bringing the gospel into marriage,” or, “Bringing the gospel into parenting”), there is often an immediate shut-down of thinking, because of course “gospel” = good…right? So therefore, whatever advice the pastor/leader is getting ready to dole out will of course be good. And biblically correct. After all, it’s “gospel-centered” advice.

    (Using words like “gospel” and “biblical” as shorthand to indicate that whatever follows is to be accepted unquestioningly is the practice of speaking in thought-terminating clichés, like I said.)

    So the SGMer listens to his pastor talk about “bringing the gospel into marriage” and takes home the idea that it’s “biblical” and “gospel-centered” to have a weekly date night with his wife. There’s nothing necessarily wrong, of course, with having a date night with one’s spouse. That’s not bad advice. But how in the WORLD did something like date night get connected with the word “gospel” when it has basically NOTHING to do with the good news of what Jesus has ALREADY DONE FOR US and everything to do with what we are supposed to put on our own “To Do” lists????????

    (That’s a rhetorical question. The reality is that date night has nothing to do with the true good news of Jesus and what he has already done for us.)

    Anyway – large segments of Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity have been very helpful to me.

    As a disclaimer, I would add that the book can feel a little bit disjointed, as I believe it started out as a series of blog posts…and a lot of Horton’s observations flow out of his specific critique of Joel Osteen’s ministry, which likely isn’t a topic that is at the top of a lot of people’s lists of burning issues to be concerned about. But a LOT of what Horton says about the gospel – the real true gospel of the Bible – cuts to the heart of truth and makes one think.

    Good book.

  • presbyterian

    Re: WIlson – He is still considered heretical by most reformed (or i should say truly reformed) people. If you espouse his FV beliefs in the OPC or PCA, you are likely to have charges brought against you and be removed as a Pastor, (though there is some holdups with that in the NW which are being handled). He had to essentially start a new denomination, which is not a member of NAPARC (which is the cons reformed Presbyterian group). The thing with Wilson is that a lot of reformed people would say, he is off in this area or that area, but I appreciate his writing in this area. Especially in the Classical education circles, he is thought of highly, and he has influenced, and help write a curriculum that I would confess that I even use, with all my strong misgivings about him.
    Re:Horton – I love his writings and have found them to be a great counter to the indoctrination that I received in SGM. Loved Gospel driven life. He is someone who is not in the pulp-culture psuedo-reformed group but is a reformed professor and teacher.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Been There, you said,

    I think it can be harder for women to comprehend how this dynamic works, because it is a thoroughly male dynamic and has to do with how men get their self esteem and seek their identity. Boys view manhood through the lens of whoever the most prominent men are in their lives growing up. If boys don’t get a positive self-image from their dads then they seek it wherever they can. In inner cities this can translate to boys looking up to gang members who seem to have power and influence in their neighborhoods.

    That was like a ‘lightbulb moment’ to me! My son, as a little boy, always looked to construction workers, the trash collectors, any man he saw nearby who exhibited strength. I would observe, as I watched him study their behavior, even the way they would stand or sit! He grew up to become a Marine. I never thought of this as a ‘male dynamic’ before..

  • ExClcer'sMom

    So, Doug Wilson says the pedophile was delusional when he molested a kindergarten age child, and Riccucci says the pedophile was ‘attracted to the women she was becoming’ about an 11 year old child..Why do these guys feel the need to minimize and excuse such horrific sins, but want to condemn others for what they deem ‘gossip and slander’, or ‘lack of submission’?? I don’t believe that makes sense to a normal mind.
    It is just as unbelievable to me to hear ANYONE speak of slavery as a satisfying reciprocal relationship. We, as a people, have sacrificed so much to be able to choose our freedoms..Slaves had no freedoms. They made the best of a horrible situation, as they were able to. The repercussions of such hateful treatment still resounds in them as a people, after all of these years..
    The ignorance of the men that speaks these foolish things is almost unbelievable.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I’ve formed my opinions of Doug Wilson based on the fruit I’ve observed over the past two decades produced by those who follow him (a rather large following on the east coast).

    It’s “bad fruit,” VERY bad fruit, and it looks and smells very similar to that produced in SGM.

  • Oswald

    Re: Wilson and other pastors who don’t do the right thing concerning child molesters, and make up rules as they go along. How can they be this blind or stupid, or maybe it’s arrogance that they think they know better.
    Could it be that the Holy Spirit has left them?
    Read about King Saul when the ‘Spirit of the Lord departed from him’, after having ‘rushed upon him’ at the beginning of his rein. He arrogantly abused his authority and did what was not according to God’s leading through Samuel.
    And also Samson, one of the OT Judges. He began to think he was ‘all of that’ and after Delilah finally knew the secret of his strength and had his head shaved, he was about to show his strength as he had at other times, but he didn’t know ‘the Lord had left him’.
    OT stories have a lot to teach us about God’s ways concerning what he hates. and we know that God does not change either in justice or in mercy.(or any other attribute)

  • BeenThere

    I have a lot of thoughts going around in my head regarding the culture of the male fraternity and how it relates to the circle of well known men in ministerial circles. Someone could write an entire thesis of the psychology of this culture and how it operates. I’ll try to compress my thoughts into a somewhat short post. My first exposure to this culture was in IFB circles. A group of men come to be known as the recognized leaders within a movement. All the other men admire this group and want their approval. This gives the men who are recognized as leaders a lot of power and influence. They can literally make or break you. Entrance into the membership of these groups is difficult, but when they think someone is gathering a significant amount of influence among the laity they want to bring this pastor/minister into this leadership group so they can co-opt them and make sure they keep them (and their followers) within the fold. My time in IFB was in the early 80’s and pre-internet. One of the ways you could tell who this select group of leadership was by who was featured in the various publications, and who headlined the various conferences. Most of the men made sure to use the same catch-phrases and cliche’s so everyone would know they were all validating each other. I don’t have a lot of experience in Reformed Circles because although I adhere to Reformed Theology most of my study has been on my own and apart from recognized teachers and authors, but I can see some of the same aspects in some Reformed circles as I saw in IFB days, but it doesn’t appear to be as bad. From my experience in Charismatic circles you have the same culture, but its more decentralized with a lot of splinter groups and is more scattered.

    I think it can be harder for women to comprehend how this dynamic works, because it is a thoroughly male dynamic and has to do with how men get their self esteem and seek their identity. Boys view manhood through the lens of whoever the most prominent men are in their lives growing up. If boys don’t get a positive self-image from their dads then they seek it wherever they can. In inner cities this can translate to boys looking up to gang members who seem to have power and influence in their neighborhoods. In religious circles young men look to whoever seems to be on top of the Spiritual Totum Poles. A healthy Pastor/Minister does not seek to draw attention to themselves or their own manhood, but they point people to Jesus Christ and HIS manhood. Unhealthy pastors/ministers on the other hand draw attention to themselves and how manly they are.

    Doug Wilson does come very close to the Theonomist culture made famous by Rushdooney, and in that group the leading men are almost revered. It’s the only group where I have seen an even stronger worship of these male leaders than in the IFB culture. As far as how it applies to SGM I can only speculate based on what I’ve read. If the portrayal here is accurate of the dynamics between Josh Harris and C.J. Mahaney then you guys need to be seriously praying for Josh Harris. One of the things that happens within these cultures is that if there is ever a dispute a person like C.J. is going to make sure he shores up support among whoever occupies of the power structures of their particular circle. Once they get that support they wield it against whoever they see as a threat. This can be very very intimidating if you’re on the receiving end.

    Lots of thoughts, but trying to keep it brief….

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Interesting info about Doug Wilson and the pedophile he helped….

    “Doug Wilson has written that he believes Sitler was delusional when he was molesting children. Wilson has no training in psychology or counseling, not even ministerial training. Wilson is not ordained. In response to criticism that he did not warn his congregation or the greater Moscow community in an adequate or timely fashion, Wilson writes: “I am a pastor. I cover up sins for a living.”

    Is this what pastors do? Is this what reporters do? The Sitler and Wight cases were not broken by the local news media: they were first exposed on a local blog. Many in the community — and many in Christ Church — first heard about both Sitler and Wight on Moscow’s Vision 2020, an Internet chat group.”

    ———and did you catch that shout out to a local blog? :)

  • BeenThere

    In my early 20’s I traveled in a lot of IFB circles, and they were known for their patriarchial beliefs. In one particular church I recall overhearing some comments from a pastor’s wife, and I quickly understood that this pastor/husband wasn’t quite as in charge as he thought he was or at least what he represented from the pulpit. This left a lasting impression on me as a young man. Since that time other experiences on top of that one have convinced me that anytime a man is beating his chest about how much in charge he is that he is in reality just over-compensating. I’m Complementarian, but on this question I don’t think it comes down to doctrine or theology. I’ve known some very liberal men who on paper would be for all the feminist agenda, but privately are very chauvinist. Being secure enough in your manhood to be able to treat a woman/wife as an equal partner is not so much about your doctrinal belief as it is your being at peace with yourself.

  • This is a comment submitted by Ozymandias:

    Wilson’s theology has morphed over the years and although I believe he would hesitate labeling himself a “theonomist,” he has certainly been influenced over the years by both the Rushdoony/Chalcedon wing and the Tyler, Texas wing of the theonomy/Christian Reconstructionist movement. Peter Leithart, one of the co-pastors of the Christ Church plant, Trinity Reformed Church, was associated at one time with the Tyler faction (e.g. James B. Jordan) prior to going to the UK to study under Radical Orthodoxy guru John Milbank. Leithart, who just published Defending Constantine — a fantastic book on political theology — did his Ph.D. dissertation with Milbank on the theology of baptism, published subsequently by Wipf and Stock as The Priesthood of the Plebs. I think it’s important to note that New Saint Andrews College, the university connected to Christ Church, Moscow, puts out some very, *very* formidable and irenic thinkers in the area of political theology — Google, for example, Brad Littlejohn (The Sword and the Ploughshare) and Davey Henreckson (Reforming Virtue). All this to say, the Moscow crowd is a mixed bag of very good and, at times, rather questionable.

    If I could recommend a set of resources for some additional understanding of Doug Wilson and Christ Church, Moscow — both positive and negative, see below.

    Some Positive Links:

    (1) Wilson’s 2-part Ministerial Biography — very detailed, but unfortunately, it used to be free of charge but now it’s not:

    (2) Wilson’s examination by the CREC Presbytery re: Federal Vision:

    (3) The recently-published (2011) update to Christ Church’s Book of Worship and Confessions — includes sections on church discipline and elders:

    (4) Biblical Horizons (old —; and Biblical Horizons (recent –

    Some Critical Links:

    (1) Not on the Palouse, with a lot of associated articles and documents:

    (2) Vision 2020, a local Moscow, Idaho listserver — has pre-2003 archive ( and post-2003 (; Wilson has posted to Vision 2020 over the years, as I believe, has Keely Mix, the author of the blog posts mentioned earlier

    (3) If you’re in the mood for detailed, critical discussion of theonomists, including a discussion of “the Moscow Spaceship” (Rushdoony, Tyler, Moscow, oh, my) —

  • Oswald

    ATC #297 — This sounds like the kind of meeting I would pray I would find in my area. Where the Holy Spirit is always present and active, not a show, and not present ONLY during a healing service or other special meeting. He doesn’t prophesy only through ‘The Prophecy Team’. He is in all, and through all, as He wills.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    Stunned said…

    I’m sorry but to anyone who understand what masculinity is, the concept that these so called masculine men are… masculine… well, it down right cracks me up. I’ve seldom had to go around boasting about my femininity. Know why? Cause I’ve got it. Why TALK about it? Puh-lease, I think that those who talk about this subject are often SEEKING it in their own right ir trying to define it so they can own it themselves. It has nothing to do with being tall or in shape but it is humorous how these men work so darn hard to judge others by a standard they themselves can not keep to. Just let go of it, guys! Trust GOD to create each man/woman in His own image. He’s done a pretty good job of it for the last few milenia without help from any controlling overlords. How about we just point people to Him and let Him do the work?

    Amen, sister!!!!!!!!!!

    Immediate red flags go up with me when I encounter any man that talks masculinity, lust, and modesty. Those three things tell me the man has “issues” – keep your daughters and children away from him.

  • FSGP

    JeffB –

    Don’t know if MH is still at WMWest but there are those who were/are there who espoused an extremely narrow view of “church”. If you didn’t agree with them, you weren’t in the True Church with them. Plus, back in the day MH and the gang on White Horse Inn snarked at Arminians and those less than 6 or 7 pointers. That may have changed; I haven’t listened in several years.

    A former Calvinist myself, I find MH’s brand and Reformed Theology generally without taste. MHOO.

    Shibboleth, sibboleth, potato, but not potatoe,
    Former SG Pastor

  • A Kindred Spirit

    The author of that blog describes Doug Wilson well in her most recent post…

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    No Outbreak Of Shame Nor Response To The Spirit Here, Folks. Move On . . .

    I had truly hoped that, because neither I nor a couple of other friends who looked again on his blog and couldn’t find Doug Wilson’s odious blather about how to tell if your church’s worship service is “effeminate,” he might have either suffered a pang of remorse, received some sort of rebuke from one of his cohorts, or even felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit and had thus removed it. But, alas — it’s still there, just dated earlier than I had written (my error), and still proudly nestled in between shameless self- and family-promotion and other musings about the very many things on which he is an expert whose opinion ought, thinketh he, to be considered the final word on all matter of issues. These range, if you’ll recall, from architecture to Latin, nutrition to land development, music to sex, home decor to beer, racist theologians to pre-millennialists, and virtually anything else in between, including young-earth creationism, pedophile rehabilitation, soteriology and Lynrd Skynrd. He’s a virtual pea-and-lentil country Renaissance Man, Wilson is, an Oxford Donwannabe with a staggering command of . . . well, ummmm . . . well, of the things in his own mind. Yeah, that’s it. Don’t underestimate what a big deal it would’ve been if, whether motivated by second thoughts of his own, a knuckle-rapping by a colleague, or the conviction of the Spirit, he had removed his Blog and Mablog post. The “Ten Reasons Why” your congregational worship service may not be sufficiently reeking of manliness, while imprudent, immature, and impotent in the strength of its argument, wasn’t anywhere close to the most reprehensible things he’s said or written in the decade I’ve studied him, and it’s safe to say that Wilson doesn’t countenance, much less consider, anyone else’s criticism. Indeed, with an elder board largely made up of men financially dependent on his business enterprises (I’m unable to use “ministries” here), he operates with precious little accountability, and the unfortunate legitimacy he’s gained in the larger Reformed and Evangelical establishment is not sufficient to make him accountable to those who’ve in recent years discovered the puckish witticisms and penetrating socio-religious analysis offered by the Patriarchal Pundit of the Palouse. In short, I can’t think of any mortal whose “Hey, Doug, better roll this one back” would mean a thing to him, and I feel on solid ground in saying, with great sadness, that the counsel and conviction of the Spirit appears to land on a heart hardened and a soul calloused.

    Sound familiar?

  • A Kindred Spirit


    Like I said, the similarities are amazing.

    I’m with you, 5years…Lord come quickly! I was just reading on the blog you posted.

    These guys are sick. SICK, SICK, SICK!

  • Diane

    5 years:

    The reason I posted my comment was because it relates to Kris’ excellent observation:

    “It’s like they all do that for one another – shield one another and pump one another up. It’s like, if you technically affirm certain doctrines about salvation, sinfulness, complementarianism, and required Christian lifestyle, you’re in. And if you attract any kind of book-buying, conference-attending following, you’re WAY in, to the point where all your oddities and foibles (and sometimes even downright kooky opinions/positions, or even abusive behaviors) will be minimized and overlooked. Your image will be protected no matter what.”

    And since there were several comments about Wilson and his slavery book I thought someone would bring up the NSA scandal since that happened around the same time as the plagiarism controversy-if I remember reading correctly. I won’t comment about it again because it is not my intent to fixate on this. However, here is one site I will link which has the relevant court documents if anyone wishes to research further. How a “minister” can marry off a convicted pedophile on life parole (must never be alone with children-ever) to a young woman in his church via a courtship scenario is beyond me. You can google the wedding video as well and see Wilson officiating with another minister in which prayers were offered for the blessing of children for the couple.

  • Stunned

    JeffB, I understood that you weren’t calling these guys masculine, nor were you pointing to them as any example to follow. Thanks for clarifying, though, in case I had misunderstood.

    Oh, how I long for the day when pastors point people to Jesus and not to other HUMANS as AnY kind of example.

  • Remnant

    JeffB, #300,

    I, myself, get a nasty aftertaste from the Reformed view of Israel, past and future, but it’s very strong in other areas, imo.

    As a Jewish Believer in Jesus (a member of the Remnant of Israel), I send out a resounding AMEN brother!

    There are so many levels of false teaching in the layers of masculinity and patriarchy which leads into dominionism and the false theology of British Israelism. It is one of circular reasoning which leads to belief in the wrong basics and laying of a shaky foundation. False foundations build skewed church purpose.

    When one has an understanding of Israelology, the Church comes into clear focus and purpose. But I haven’t found the SGM has spent any time delving into the topic of Israelology and, because of that, I find they are lacking in a clarity of Theology.

    ATC, that service sounds lovely! Alas, I haven’t been in a service like that in decades.

  • Stunned

    AMEN, Oswald!!

  • Oswald

    Regarding ‘masculine Christianity’, and Horton’s article in particular: I’m reminded of something I heard Matt Chandler say in a sermon. (in my words)He said he could have messages on how to be a good, Godly husband/man or good, Godly wife/woman, or how to parent your kids, but really what he needs to teach is how to get to know God and His awesomeness and greatness and how he responds to us and how he sees man/woman and deals with him. The better we know God, the more we become like Him in all areas. That’s what makes a difference. And that goes for male and female, young, old and in-between.

    Whoever posted the link to Horton’s article — I made a copy of it to share with others, thanks.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    OK Diane, I took the bait and googled it.

    You can come wipe me up off the floor now.

    Oh Lord, come quickly.

  • JeffB

    Stunned –

    Of course I was referring to Piper saying that Christianity has a “masculine feel.” Horton, in his article, labels as “insecure jerks” the picture of men given by some of the “real men” Reformed guys. “Insecure” is the operative word.

    FSGP –

    I am not a Reformed scholar, but it seems to me that Horton genuinely wants to discover what Reformed theology is and to apply it to the churches today, without adding current cultural beliefs (of course, this is impossible to do perfectly). Is the “nasty aftertaste” from Horton’s “brand” or from the distinctives of Reformed theology itself?

    I, myself, get a nasty aftertaste from the Reformed view of Israel, past and future, but it’s very strong in other areas, imo.

  • Diane

    “A Kindred Spirit:

    May 2nd, 2012 at 12:49 pm
    I’ve ran in “Wilsonite circles” for almost 2 decades now. They’ve given me every book and tape out there by the man and his wife, Nancy, and have worked hard to “convert” me.

    They all have issues…SERIOUS issues.

    I’ve heard Wilson in person on several ocassions and I was not impressed. I’m amazed at the people who idolize him. Absolutely amazed. How do these men do it?!!

    Ten to fifteen years ago reformed folks were calling the man a heretic, and rightly so. What in the world has happened?!!”

    Piper helped a little bit with changing that didn’t he, by saying Wilson was just “confusing” and surrounded by dumb people.

    AKS–since you are fanmliar with Wilson, then you probably know about the Steven Sitler – Katie Travis ordeal? Wedding this last summer?

    Anyone can write a fairly average book. Instead of looking at that to gain some insight on who he is, google that mess and get a glimpse of some fruit of Wilson’s ministry. I found it to be so very grievous and disturbing.

  • Stunned

    “Here’s his take on the “masculine” Christianity of Piper, Wilson, etc.”

    I’m sorry but to anyone who understand what masculinity is, the concept that these so called masculine men are… masculine… well, it down right cracks me up. I’ve seldom had to go around boasting about my femininity. Know why? Cause I’ve got it. Why TALK about it? Puh-lease, I think that those who talk about this subject are often SEEKING it in their own right ir trying to define it so they can own it themselves. It has nothing to do with being tall or in shape but it is humorous how these men work so darn hard to judge others by a standard they themselves can not keep to. Just let go of it, guys! Trust GOD to create each man/woman in His own image. He’s done a pretty good job of it for the last few milenia without help from any controlling overlords. How about we just point people to Him and let Him do the work?

    Rant over. But seriously… masculine?

  • ATC

    Last Sunday I went a local ‘tabernacle’ church (AoG) and a real ‘classic Pentecostal’ meeting.

    No hype. No ceremony. A lady in her 60s strumming the acoustic guitar and leading us in worship. Some great ‘Redemption’ hymns as well as modern choruses. A man in his 70s, full of the joy of the Lord, celebrating his testimony from the 1950s when he gave his life to Jesus as a teenager. Everyone relaxed and people shouting out a song they’d like to sing. Prayers and scriptures. No-one tense about how the ‘show’ was going. We felt at ease with our toddler and baby at the back where a corner had a load of kids toys and books (the back of the main room! they didn’t have to leave the main room to play…)

    A complete focus on Jesus and his love and his mercy in saving sinners such as us. Worship through music and song to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    It was wonderful. I really sensed the gracious presence of the Lord’s Holy Spirit.


    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    There’s also a great deal of suspicion cast upon believers in other churches as “not quite there yet.” (If not explicitly stated, it permeates their members.)

    It’s both explicitly stated AND it permeates their members.

    They’re an arrogant bunch. And yes, they pride themselves on being “educated.” Doug’s quite proud of his rhetorical skills – LOVES to debate.

  • Whirlwind

    @AKS #293: “It’s bizarre, really, how similar the cultures are.”

    Though the two are on different branches of the Reformed tree, they’ve both been very intentional about creating a certain culture within their churches that makes them distinct from others around them (even other believers).

    They have both attempted to “get it all right” where all the other denominations have failed, so we get SGM (Mahaney) and CRE (Wilson).

    There’s also a great deal of suspicion cast upon believers in other churches as “not quite there yet.” (If not explicitly stated, it permeates their members.)

    A big difference is that I think Wilson is a lot more educated than Mahaney. Wilson tends to captivate through his wit and sarcasm instead of simple humor that comes with his own laugh track.

  • FSGP

    WW 273- “My gift of leadership is more strategic than it is tactical, it is more theological than it is practical.” Scary, scary words of self-assessment from CJ. We need to remember (a) he wrote _the_ book on humility, (b) his “gift” has run a denomination into the ground.

    AKS/Kris/Others – on DWilson – I, too, became familiar with him over a couple of decades. His most interesting work to me was the work he did with the atheist Christoper Hitchens.

    JeffB/Others – on MHorton – Horton prefers the “more Reformed than thou” brand of beverage. While decanted differently from other brews, it still leaves has a nasty after-taste.

    Former SG Pastor

  • A Kindred Spirit


    Thanks for posting Horton’s article.

    Loved this…

    So enough with the beards (if it’s making a spiritual statement). Enough with the “federal husband” syndrome that goes beyond the legitimate spiritual leadership of the heads of households found in Scripture.

    Doug Wilson wrote a book entitled, “Federal Husband.” And for those of you unfamiliar with what Doug Wilson looks like, he has a nasty, nasty unkept beard. (We’re talking gross nasty.) Many of the “Wilsonite” males sport these beards, as well. It’s very similiar to the “shaved heads” thing in SGM. It’s bizarre, really, how similar the cultures are.

  • Bridget

    Kris –

    What you describe @ 289 sounds like a bunch of teenage boys who have been overcome by “peer pressure” (seriously).

    JeffB –

    Thanks for posting that. It is more balanced than what has been seen recently.

  • JeffB

    Michael Horton is one prominent (genuinely) Reformed scholar who doesn’t swallow the Kool-Aid. Here’s his take on the “masculine” Christianity of Piper, Wilson, etc.:

  • Bridget

    AKS –

    What has happened? I think he has been admitted to the “masculine-celebrity-book” club. Anyone in the club gets free passes as Kris pointed out.

  • Y’know, Kindred, I think the question of how the Reformed celebrity culture has become what it’s become is probably what puzzles me the most. I mean, one of the main reasons I first tossed up the original “SGM Uncensored” blog in the first place was because the internet press about SGM was so radically different than our personal experience had been. SGM was portrayed one way online…but felt so abnormal in person. Yet somehow, the other bloggers and Reformed celebrity preachers did not seem to pick up on the abnormalities…or at least, they did not ever talk about them or acknowledge them in any way.

    It’s like they all do that for one another – shield one another and pump one another up. It’s like, if you technically affirm certain doctrines about salvation, sinfulness, complementarianism, and required Christian lifestyle, you’re in. And if you attract any kind of book-buying, conference-attending following, you’re WAY in, to the point where all your oddities and foibles (and sometimes even downright kooky opinions/positions, or even abusive behaviors) will be minimized and overlooked. Your image will be protected no matter what.

    The same Reformed gurus that salivate to go after the likes of other non-Reformed ministries for their perceived doctrinal failings and weaknesses have completely refused to police their own. Instead, they celebrate one another and work to shield each other when legitimate criticisms come from the inside of the various ministries.

    I’ve said this so many times before, but it continues to be true: I just don’t get it. One is left with pretty much only one reason for the Reformed world’s indifference to the problems within its favored celebrities’ churches – that the problems are brushed under the rug because nobody wants to face the possible fall-out that might come with speaking up. Nobody wants to risk the loss of being one of the favored crowd. Nobody wants to risk the loss of influence, publishing contracts, and speaking engagements.

    So they all remain quiet and keep affirming each other. They keep sighing happily over the affirmations they receive from one another…without ever wanting to know the dark side.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    I’ve ran in “Wilsonite circles” for almost 2 decades now. They’ve given me every book and tape out there by the man and his wife, Nancy, and have worked hard to “convert” me.

    They all have issues…SERIOUS issues.

    I’ve heard Wilson in person on several ocassions and I was not impressed. I’m amazed at the people who idolize him. Absolutely amazed. How do these men do it?!!

    Ten to fifteen years ago reformed folks were calling the man a heretic, and rightly so. What in the world has happened?!!

  • Bridget

    AKS –

    I don’t think it is worth the time spent to read Wilson’s books – IMO. The only thing that would be of value for the time spent would be Kris’s thoughts.

  • A Kindred Spirit


    I would LOVE for you to read some of Wilson’s other books and tell me what you think.

  • Bridget

    Stunned –

    The man is deranged!!

    And Lincoln didn’t follow our constitution and let the Southern states secede (as I’ve heard argued and complained). My response to that was BECAUSE GOD IS ACTUALLY SOVEREIGN AND CHOSE TO STOP SLAVERY AND WORKED THROUGH LINCOLN TO DO SO. That response has silenced grown, educated, authority-wielding men.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    WW, I am so sorry, I missed the sarcasm. Maybe I should stop reading these blogs for a while; I think I may be getting hyper reactive in a cynical way. My apologies.

    I knew an ethnic German who believed the Aryan race is the pinnacle of evolutionary superiority and Hitler was a great man. You should hear those types talk about what Hitler did for Germany in his early days, before he tried to wipe out the pesky sub human types. It reads like a real hero if you leave out the WW11 parts. Kind of like a family of churches I know that sounds good if you leave out the horror stories.

  • Whirlwind

    @5years #282: Just to be clear, my mention of HBS interviewing less than 1% of slaves was an intentional jab at AoR and should be read with a completely sarcastic tone.

    The only use I have for Wilson’s take on slavery is to point out how we can try to spin things any way we want if we need to make a point. Actually, I think he’s a lot like Mahaney in that he seems to have a lot of followers and peers who will excuse him when they should rebuke him.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Whirlwind…yes, and AoR interviewed less than 1% of SGM.

    Any system, be it SGM shepherding or southern slavery, which is set up in such a way that even 1% or less of the people can endure terrific abuse with no recourse to justice or basic human rights, is a bad system.

    Jesus was all about leaving the 99% and going to help the 1%. Any system that is rotten for even 1% is a rotten system. Southern slavery legally allowed for families to be broken up and sold- husbands and wives, mothers and little children, torn apart. People were just farm animals legally. And yeah, I am familiar with Dabney’s reasoning and I don’t buy it. I think Jesus was crystal clear when he said to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  • Whirlwind

    I will throw in that Wilson (as much as I may take issue with him on certain matters) doesn’t seem to advocate a return to slavery. Rather, he seems to just think he’s being more honest than most with the historical record and takes the “nice, Christian slave owners” at their word. I think John Piper recently addressed this before Wilson spoke at one of the Desiring God-sponsored conferences.

  • Stunned

    ““Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.”

    WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!???????????????? WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Whirlwind

    @5years #277: Harriet Beecher Stowe probably interviewed less than 1% of the slaves before writing her book. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  • JeffB

    A Kindred Spirit –

    First of all, in the interest of full disclosure: I’ve been reading Dan Phillips online almost daily for several years. I’m a fan, but that hasn’t prevented us from having some fairly heated “discussions” both online and off (through emails).

    I can understand how, from the post you linked to, you can deduce cronyism between Phillips and Douglas Wilson. However, Phillips has, on several occasions, publicly taken Wilson to task. One time had to do with Wilson’s giving fathers too much responsibility (in Phillips’ opinion – and also mine) over how their sons turned out. Another involved Wilson partially supporting Mark Driscoll when the latter claimed to have utterly accurate visions of the sex lives of members of his church.

    I think cronyism has to do with continuous public praise of another without any acknowledgment of their faults, even when the latter is quite evident. I don’t think Phillips/Wilson is an example of it.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Don’t miss Doug Wilson’s book on slavery. The blacks were better off, and they liked being slaves, and it produced warm affection between races, and you’ve just swallowed abolitionist propaganda.

    “Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence. There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world. The credit for this must go to the predominance of Christianity. The gospel enabled men who were distinct in nearly every way, to live and work together, to be friends and often intimates.” (from the book)

    Harriet Beecher Stowe describes the true state of things much better. The black man was a piece of property with no more rights than a horse or dog, his wife and children owned by master and able to be sold away forever at whim. Of course many Christian masters were kind. Does that justify the institution as good? Wilson is a disgrace.

    I wonder, to quote Jesus’ command to do unto others as we would want them to do to us, how he’d like to be a slave picking cotton all his life. Maybe he’d look at things a bit differently.

    Ugh. I had no idea Challies was a Wilson fan. Double ughs.

  • Kindred,

    I know what you mean, about the adoration Doug Wilson seems to engender among his admirers.

    BUT, just to be clear to the Wilsonites out there, I don’t want my remarks about Evangellyfish to be taken as some sort of criticism of the man or his ministry in general. I personally don’t know much about Doug Wilson. I haven’t followed him closely or read a whole lot of his work.

    I probably thought Evangellyfish was particularly awful as a novel precisely because I’d been led by Tim Challies’ review to have higher expectations of it. He gave it a nice recommendation…the sort that he doesn’t typically dole out so freely…and made the book sound way better than it turned out to be. I’ve read lots of other books Challies has reviewed, both positively and negatively, and I’d come to respect his opinions, generally. Evangellyfish, though, read like a cheap and poorly-thought-out Harlequinn Romance, minus the romance (unless you’d consider love for a very narrow way of thinking about church to be “romance”).

    Doug Wilson may be the greatest thing since sliced bread…but if Evangellyfish is any indication, the dude should stay away from writing more novels.

  • It may be cronyism, it also may be that folks like Chailles are being paid for their glowing reviews. It’s a common practice to pay another author or celebrity that writes an introduction and/or review of a newly published book.

    Not sure what the going rate is in the internet age….but keep that in mind when you see your favorite author recommending a book. It could be a favor to their publisher , to a friend, or just plain old money that motivates them.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    To put it bluntly, I thought Evangellyfish SUCKED. Big time.

    I *CONSTANTLY* hear, “Doug Wilson is a remarkably gifted writer and speaker, and a sharp thinker”…to the point that it honestly makes me want to puke. Doug Wilson has a “cult-like following” every bit as arrogant, odd, and whacked as most of the folks in SGM, Federal Vision, etc. Personally, the guy gives me the “creeps”.

    After I read Evangellyfish, I became more convinced than ever that the Reformed Christian book-reviewing and book-blurbing dudes (like Challies) absolutely engage in obvious cronyism.

    Yep, and here’s another example of the “cronyism”…

  • Whirlwind

    From, quoting C.J. Mahaney (emphasis added):

    Now reflections on Sovereign Grace, reflections on my leadership of Sovereign Grace. Prior to this leave of absence I had become convinced, with the help of others, that I am not gifted to manage a movement. I lack the necessary organizational skills, I am not good at establishing policy and procedures and processes that set an appropriate expectation for how we serve together.

    My gift of leadership is more strategic than it is tactical, it is more theological than it is practical. And given the growth we have experienced even in the last 10 years we need practical leadership here, and appropriate structures and procedures. It is critical for SG, not optional and where change has been required in SG a process is necessary and here I would perceive definite other weaknesses in my leadership. I can introduce change quickly, I can assume when I have introduced quickly everyone understands it.

    I can change quickly. I can tell you it is frightening how quickly I can change, it is disconcerting how quickly I can change. I can change quickly, I can make major decisions quickly. This doesn’t always serve a movement where process is necessary. Certain change is required, explanations, and more explanations, discussion, debate, and more explanation and persuasion. At times my leadership has helped create confusion. If you add to this our history of not communicating wisely – another area I want to take responsibility for, not communicating wisely and well, especially when you have made some significant changes.

    From a SGM blog post:

    Numbers of you have inquired about conflict between the Covenant Life Church pastors and the SGM Board and President.

    From another SGM blog post:

    First, we decided to create a polity committee to consist of two members of the Board, two members of the Leadership Team (including C.J. Mahaney, who will chair the committee)

    So, SGM needs a committee to define the relationship and structure between SGM and member churches and they select a chair for the committee who has publicly stated, “I am not good at establishing policy and procedures and processes that set an appropriate expectation for how we serve together.” He confesses to making major decisions quickly and not communicating those decisions well. Furthermore, he’s in the midst of a conflict with his former church, which can’t help but shade his thinking on how SGM leadership should relate to local church leadership and how church leaders should be held accountable.

    Based on these facts, I’m failing to see how the board could have ever selected C.J. to chair this committee, but I’m guessing he “humbly” volunteered and the board didn’t want to turn him down.

  • Whirlwind

    Are there really many CLC members leaving for the Louisville church plant? If I ran into such a person I’d want to ask:

    1. How long has the Lord been leading you to help with a church plant?
    2. Will you still make this move if CJ decides not to lead the church plant?

    It seems like there must be some questions to help them realize they’re caught up in following this man and not the Spirit’s leading.

    In regard to the church plant, I also wonder how long the “participating in a church plant led by C.J.” and the “smaller church experience” that were mentioned as a benefit to PC students will be a reality. This will not be like any other SGM church plant – past, present, or future. Will they intentionally keep it small and struggling to benefit PC students. I’m guessing in two years they will reconsider and decide a larger church provides resources that better benefit C.J. the PC students.

  • QE2

    The comment on an average person “love bombing” someone just because that person is genuinely a nice person and not acting that way as part of a strategy just highlights how weird cult life really is.

    Maybe that’s why SGM historically grows by sheep stealing and not through effective evangelism that leads to changed hearts. A believer is already familiar with the church lingo and culture, but a non-believer can see the strangeness behind the facade and thinks-no, thanks!

  • Nickname

    Beth Young — I understand and appreciate your exhortation to move on. Many of us have done just that. But there are many new people showing up, reeling from the recent events, and they need so know they’re not alone.

    There were many aspects of the AoR report that disapppointed me. It hit me like a term paper that started out well, but in the rush to get turned in on time and please the prof, it mentioned/excused/glossed over the most important points.

    Their defense of SGM’s handling of sex abuse cases is not just a headscratcher; it’s a slap in the face and seems negligent almost to the point of being criminal. I personally can tell you of three sex abuse cases in my SGM church that were handled fairly well, as far as I can see, and I don’t know the whole story — but three perps landed in jail or prison, victims were protected, etc. But that does not in any way negate the horrific situations that still affect Happymom, ExClCer, Noel, Grizzly, SgmNot — too many to count. It’s like saying an insurance company paid a claim properly to 1% of their accident victims, and even though they failed to complete the paperwork on 99% of the others, they’re still qualified to stay in business. It’s NUTS.

    So, SGM moves to Louisville just as the Southern Baptist are once again considering a name change….interesting implications there.

    But not everyone in the reformed world has been fooled. A friend told me today that a PCA pastor recently mentioned the Louisville move on his FB page, and wondered if they’d gotten Ceeje’s throne ready yet.

    Exodus from Gaithersburg; Crossing into the Promised Land may sound like a really good idea. But I cannot imagine people in Kentucky understanding one word spoken with a Maryland accent. And love bombing? Shoot, that’s what happens when you walk into a gas station in Kentucky. The friendliest people I’ve ever seen. You’dda thought the gas clerk was a long-lost cousin. And “Don’t Waste Your Sports” is gonna go over REAL well in Churchill Downs…

    A sitcom in the making. Beverly Hillbillies in reverse.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    *hundreds of thousands of dollars FROM honest, but deceived tithers*

  • ExClcer'sMom

    FF, but SGM has hundreds of thousands of dollars for honest, but deceived tithers..They are not looking to ‘save dollars’, they are looking to ‘save face’…As long as they can get someone to leave a little doubt, the money will continue to roll in, and CJ will continue to sit on his throne somewhere…(definitely need a koolaid guy icon here.) :Daze:

  • Happymom


    No worries! I really did appreciate what you were saying and can agree with you that for some of the issues, your theory makes sense. But the other issues were pretty clear cut.

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Presbyterian———I agree, and it’s good to “see” you here. So much of the hip ‘reformed’ folk really aren’t reformed. It’s like a Chinese guy who grew up eating his grandmother’s homemade dumplings. And then he goes to Costco and sees a 10 pound bag of pot stickers. The Costco ones are just an imitation, and not even a good one. The Chinese guy knows what real Chinese food tastes like and won’t be persuaded by marketing whatnot.

    If they were really reformed, they wouldn’t go 30+ years without a ladies Bible study….but don’t get me started! :)

    In regard to Sam’s recollection of a meeting———-
    Who is in the power seat in this remembering game? CLC pastors.
    Who has more to lose? CLC pastors.
    Who is most likely to be ‘faltering’ in the memory department? CLC pastors.

  • Fried Fish

    Ex’s Mom, I guess what really bugs me is that someone could have saved SGM hundreds of thousands of dollars by giving them a copy of the “Facts of Life” theme song and a few plane tickets to Louisville. They could have used that money for…. Sorry. That’s where my analysis breaks down.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    It seems to me that perhaps the tears the AoR staffers cried with people hurt by SGM were probably real, but perhaps due to them knowing that nothing will be done. :Weary:
    I find it a bit ironic that AoR criticized bloggers for stating (ahead of time) the very things that came to be!

  • Fried Fish

    Wow. Must be a staffer at AoR stuffing envelopes with a form letter. All the people that were working on the SGM gig must be in some intense therapy sessions….

  • Former CLC'er

    5 Years – I have met other people who “confabulate” – most recently my last (nonSGM) pastor. He spun a different take on EVERYTHING and not just important things. And the important things were way out of whack. Your theory about a split personality, or parts of the personality split off is a good theory. It’s just bizarre to deal with someone like that, but especially a pastor.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Happymom, if you say they are lying and they know exactly what they are doing, I’ll take your word for it. I am sorry for any misunderstandings!

    Its worse to think that the ones you dealt with know what they are doing, whether from weakness or wickedness.

  • Lee

    Sounds like AOR is saying we are no longer getting paid and we are are outta there!

  • Jim

    A lot of these going out today. Mine was the same.

    Thank you for taking the time to write. Ambassadors of Reconciliation has received your message regarding our Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries. We are receiving a number of reactions ranging from people expressing gratitude and complements to those expressing disappointment or significant criticism. Although the report concluded our work for Sovereign Grace Ministries under the Group Reconciliation Assistance agreement, we will continue to keep all those connected to Sovereign Grace in our prayers.

    “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13 esv).

  • JeffB

    In the “What Did I Expect?” category:

    Just got a generic reply from AOR in response to a sincere question having to do with their contention that they were not qualified to “adjudicate issues regarding the fitness of C.J. Mahaney for serving as president and/or chairman of the board.”

    “Thank you for taking the time to write. Ambassadors of Reconciliation has received your message regarding our Report to the Board of Directors of Sovereign Grace Ministries. We are receiving a number of reactions ranging from people expressing gratitude and complements [sic] to those expressing disappointment or significant criticism. Although the report concluded our work for Sovereign Grace Ministries under the Group Reconciliation Assistance agreement, we will continue to keep all those connected to Sovereign Grace in our prayers.

    ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope’ (Romans 15:13 esv).”

  • Happymom


    While I appreciate what you are saying I’m not sure you can make that call unless you personally knew all of our history with the FX staff.
    In some instances, it really is A or B. :)

  • Ellie

    5years said:

    At any rate Sam, I don’t think you need to bother to apologize. You can tell us what they say if you like, and let us choose who to believe. I’ll believe you at this point.

    I agree with 5years. The kind of thing that you (Sam) heard at that meeting would be kind of hard to misunderstand.

  • JeffB

    Kris #220 –

    Thanks for your review of “Evangellyfish.” It sounds as deadly as the excerpt on Challies’ blog. Although there’s no accounting for taste, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that Challies might be a bit biased or feel to be under compulsion to praise it.

    Ozymandias #221 –

    Good suggestion. I actually did email Frank Turk on the matter about 6 months ago; there was no reply, and I have since discovered that his profound thinking on the matter comes down to, basically, “Well, what do you expect with charismatics?” (an opinion written privately and publicly). By contrast, Phil Johnson, on the same blog, interacts online with commenters on the subject. He’d be a good candidate for emails.

    On the whole, however, I doubt that any of the RBD, whatever their private thoughts on the matter, will come out publicly against CJ/SGM unless they are virtually forced to by some undeniable public “revelation” on the matter. There are too many man-pleasing and self-interest “reasons” for them to remain silent. Also, let’s face it, there is a lot of material to work through, and I doubt that they would take the time to do it. If it were a matter of Mahaney and others blatantly teaching false doctrine, it would be different (I THINK), but mis-application of doctrine and wrong behavior is harder to prove, especially to those inclined not to believe it.

    The Bard #227 –

    Just a shout-out to you for all of your literary achievements. I’m reading “Richard III” right now, and thoroughly enjoying it. The title character reminds me of someone.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Good post on confabulation.

    With CLC seeming to want to walk on the fence between SGM loyalty and those CLC Members wanting to leave SGM so it is quite possible that confabulation is a convenient might explain this pastor no longer remembering it this way.

    On the other hand, I would surprised that CLC Pastor(s) would share this kind of information with a group of regular members but it was indicated it was shared late lass summer which if this was shared during the shock period of last summer it might have been possible.

  • Persona

    Every week, I learn of another family leaving the church because of choices made by CJ Mahaney. Some leave for unspoken reasons but, those who are following CJ are calling their move to Louisville, a ‘church plant’.

    Interestingly, none of them are calling what they are doing, a ‘church split’. But, that is exactly is what it is. The split is all the more ironic since, CJ once declared he would rather die than cause a church split. And, here he is leading one! To me it is a good example of Prov 10:24: “That what you fear, will come upon you…”

    But, I think that anyone praying about leaving an SGM church, whether fleeing CLC with CJ, or transferring membership from the mother-ship to another ‘local’ church, should be given ALL the behind-the-scenes information that has recently transpired in the warped world of SGM. It is only reasonable that they be given this information so they can make wise decisions for their future. The question is, where can they get their hands on accurate information?

    You can’t get the whole story from a pastor. You can’t get a lot of information from an employee. You can’t get complete, unbiased, information from anyone related to the organization at all. So, I wonder how all these folks can be making such huge life-altering decisions on such slim information?

    It is a maddening situation that can only be resolved if and when, the principal parties, start speaking the whole truth with one another and the congregation and, with the rest of the church community, who are long-overdue for a measure of truth, that has been withheld for seemingly no good cause.

  • Uriah

    confabulation = self deceived (biblical term)

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Sam…..”I may end up reaching out to the CLC pastor directly to get this cleared up.

    I have posted a similar statement as this one over at Refuge and stated that I will post a retraction and apology if it turns out my recollection of the statement was in error.”

    The problem here is that many of us would believe your memory over the CLC pastor’s memory. Even if they say you are wrong, I would still believe your recollection.

    Why? I’ve never seen such a group of men with a propensity for confabulation in my entire life. Confabulation is diffferent from lies. It is when a person says something that they have convinced themself is true, and they actually believe it is true, and without a video of the event you’ll never convince them it isn’t true. It is an amazing ability to create an alternate reality that prevents feeling shame or inadequate or wrong or whatever it is they can’t allow themselves to feel and be.

    I have three relatives that do this all the time. Freaky to watch it and freaky the way they deny things and rewrite history with a straight face. Two are Christian, both with terrible childhood abuse and perhaps a split personality, or at least an ability to split off one real and sinful person from the other ‘perfect person’, and only admit to the latter. I am not a shrink but I am sure this must be some well observed and explained syndrome. Anyway, it is all over SGM. I don’t think HappyMom’s former pastors are lying exactly, I am convinced they believe what they are saying. Confabulation. Not sure of the biblical term…self deception maybe. Strong delusion. All that stuff we call spin coming from the board? I think they may believe it, as opposed to deliberate lies. I don’t know.

    Secondly, when people are hurt or shocked, they tend to remember exactly what was said, the tone of voice, the look on the face, everything. A bitter person can recall every single word exactly (not calling you bitter). A traumatized person can remember even the light, the color of the floor, the smell in the room- every detail is burned on the brain. The abuser often forgets it all, or at least forgets specifics.

    At any rate Sam, I don’t think you need to bother to apologize. You can tell us what they say if you like, and let us choose who to believe. I’ll believe you at this point.

  • Sam McGee

    Thanks for clarifying this. I wish had seen your clarification before posting.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    ozy 221…very good thoughts, except right now I have no interest in spending one second of my life writing to any of them. Cynical maybe, but I’d rather pray for lay people to get out, than hope for defensive big dogs to face the facts.

    William, enjoyed your quotes!

    Been there…..I think, based on my enjoyment of church history, that some of the very strong priority the Reformed Community places on church attendance comes from their valid respect for old dead guys and what those dead guys wrote. But, those old dead guys lived in a time of massive illiteracy and poverty such that there might be one bible- in an entire region- in the town church. In fact, it was the Puritans who came to America that passed laws demanding the education of all children. This was non existent in Europe (with the possible exception of parts of Scotland). Not required in England.

    When people cannot read, they must come to church to hear the scriptures. A sermon for a couple hours in the morning and in the afternoon full of scripture was all they got, and if you read some of those old guys, well, they just packed everything with scripture. No jokes, no anecdotes, no stories. It was essentially true that the preacher stood in the very stead of God as he read and expounded scripture to illiterate masses, speaking forth the bible. It was never meant for control, or for superiority of one man or the pastoral office. It was trying to get people to know scripture.

    If you read Edwards in Religious Affections (in my book I think it starts around page 300 so it must be in part 3), he has one section that is a long bible exegesis on every guy in scripture who has met God in a powerful way alone. It is just about all of them. Edwards appeals to the scriptural example of private devotions and private communion with God, and powerful encounters with God alone. He also of course believed in church, but only balanced with a personal walk. Perhaps that is why he saw such marvelous revival in his own church.

    Must get to work. Prayers for all of you, so many good and thoughtful posters here, I do enjoy reading.

  • concerned for the kids

    “I listened to Sunday’s message from CLC. It seemed, once again, prophetic and metaphorical. … Mention was made of how, at first, things look like they are going to be resolved soon and it is expected that players will act in a Godly way and when it doesn’t happen that way, there is discouragement. ”

    With the pastor’s primary purpose being the equipping of the saints, a disturbing number of messages from the pulpit at many SGM churches, including CLC,seem to be passive-aggressive damage control regarding this mahaney/SGM situation.

    It’s possible that God really wants to share a weekly message with each congregation regarding why the people should not read blogs, or how the sheep hurt the pastors, or how to leave a church well, but it seems unlikely. Although loosely supported by tossed in Scripture passages here and there, largely many of these recent sermons and pastoral blog posts seem to be no more than self-serving speeches, damage control, and spin disguised as food for the sheep.

    Mostly various versions of “move along, nothing to see here” from the pulpits the past few months. Certainly seems appropriate to occasionally touch on the subject from the pulpit, but so often? Feels more motivated by pastoral agendas than a heavenly one.

    When pastors stop sharing the messages GOD wants them to share with the local body, and repeatedly use the pulpit essentially as a blog or editorial column to deal with the difficulties or issues of their own making, it reveals volumes about what’s in the heart of the speaker.

    “Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

  • Stunned

    John, do you know who writes that blog?

  • SamMcGee

    @Steve240 RE: #244

    I posted that last night to Refuge. Since then, I have been in contact with Jim. Jim asked if he me if he minded if he tried to confirm my story with a CLC pastor. I told him that I did not mind. He reached out to a CLC pastor this morning who denied the facts of what I posted.

    Jim has since removed my post and emailed me about it. I understand why Jim felt it was necessary to do that. However, I corroborated my recollection of the statement with another person who was at the same meeting before posting. I still believe what I wrote to be what we were told by a CLC pastor last October. If it was said in the meeting I am thinking of, there were 30 to 40 people there. I am in the process of gaining additional corroboration and also looking for my notes. I may end up reaching out to the CLC pastor directly to get this cleared up.

    I have posted a similar statement as this one over at Refuge and stated that I will post a retraction and apology if it turns out my recollection of the statement was in error. Again, I believe what I posted is an accurate account of what we were told.

  • Someone posted this comment on SGM Refuge last evening:

    When all of this broke last summer and Josh made his comments from the pulpit and in the CLC family meetings, the SGM leadership responded by attempting to remove Josh from office. The rest of the CLC pastors responded by telling SGM that if they tried to take out Josh, CLC would immediately separate from SGM. SGM backed down.

    An account of these events was communicated in response to a question to a small group of CLC members in a question/answer session with the some of the CLC pastors at the end of last summer. Soon after, a bunch of us at CLC dug into the SGM polity documents to see what authority they gave SGM leadership to remove pastors. What was clear was that the polity agreement was extremely vague when it came to SGM authority over the member churches.

    The comment certainly sounds plausible. If true, this would help explain why the Mahaney clan including C.J.’s two son in laws left the staff of CLC soon after.

    A lot of these events sounds like C.J. is like a little boy who suddenly finds himself not getting things his way.

  • presbyterian

    Re:the reformed community; I think part of the problem is that much of the reformed community has never considered SGM as reformed at all. Many of them would not consider Piper, Mohler or especially Driscoll to be really reformed. You have a large segment of the old, Presbyterian, confessional reformed community to which this whole situation is seen as a non-personally related event in the larger christian church, that does not really necessitate any involvement, similar to things going on in Episcopal church or Voice of Martyrs. I.e. if you are involved, it is one thing, but it is not related to their church. Some might say that this is what happens in a church that is not confessional. Now I don’t think all woudl say that, and a lot of it is just a lack of knowledge of the situation, but since it has happened outside the Presbyterian church, by peopel not trained or especially teaching at reformed seminaries, it does not have a great effect on the reformed/confessional church. This is why the response is much different than say to Douglas Wilson, who was in the Presbyterian church, and whose teaching have been largely labeled as heresy, and those following him have been removed from the denominations, for the most part. If SGM had these beliefs and actions and was teaching at a major seminary, you would see more a response, similar to stuff with Enns, or others. Really this is an effect on the new, so-called reformed movement, or yrr, which is seen as suspect to begin with, and is full of cautionary tales.

  • MAK said,

    The Purswells and Kauflins and at least half of the pastor’s college left CLC without any fanfare at all. Not even a word. Again, what about all the teaching about “leaving well”????? So CJ leaves CLC and leaders and members follow. Doesn’t anyone in SGM think this is questionable?? Instead they are praised to the height…folks are tweeting, blogging, and facebooking all about the new church plant!!!! Would there have been a Louisville church plant without the disagreement with CLC??

    These are very good questions.

    It seems to me that all the hoopla over this church plant in Louisville is just one more way leaders’ deep hypocrisy is being revealed and put on display for all to see. Even the people who are so excited over the Louisville church plant have to understand at some level that it’s only happening at this point in CJ’s life because he is running away from all that was uncomfortable at CLC. He never said “boo” about feeling called to pastor…until he made some public appearances after he was facing criticism because of Brent’s documents. Then suddenly, CJ – who had quit his pastoring job at CLC years before to so much fanfare that a 2-hour Broadway-style musical was performed in his honor and Bob Kauflin had to write him a song for the occasion – starts rumbling about how people keep telling him he’s missing his real calling, that he should be pastoring a church somewhere.

    And for whatever reason, people accept this, believe it, take it at face value? And choose not to see how totally unsubmissive and hypocritical an act it is for CJ to blow off literally decades of his own teachings about accountability and “marrying” the church? And ignore the obvious, that the move to Louisville is all about giving CJ a fresh start and aligning SGM more closely with Al Mohler and gang, so as to beef up their faltering credibility?


    CLC is one of the places where pastors, until fairly recently, used to weigh in on members’ decisions about whether or not to move. It was not uncommon for pastors to discourage people from taking job transfers because of the supposed necessity of maintaining their commitment to their “local” church. But now, it’s suddenly OK for key people to slink away for no other reason than to follow CJ like some sort of manic bald Pied Piper?

    Every SGMer ought to be asking the hard questions about this Louisville church plant. Not just those of us here.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Oswald, you are right-that IS the way GOB/CLC got started. Yet, what I think is, how it started was not a bad thing, but it became corrupted over time. Perhaps, had ti remained smaller ‘house churches’, instead of growing like it did..where it multiplied houses to meet in, rather than looking for one building to house all..perhaps that may have kept any one person from feeling so powerful that they were above any law? Plus, it would have continued to allow people to keep their own jobs, rather than have their livelihood be dependent on their control over another, or how much they cater to whatever man is in power.
    Somehow, I still question everyone and everything, except God Himself. It seems to me, however, that bringing it down to a few in a house is being about as direct a line with God-no mumbo/jumbo politics getting in the way..Maybe that is why so many leaders get nervous about the mention of house churches?
    …just pondering things..

  • Oswald

    BeenThere #237 — Someone has observed here that while a house church is good, it grows in popularity and soon child care is needed and Sunday school, women’s/men’s groups, someone to hold the meeting at their house, etc, and before long, it becomes organized. I guess that’s how CLC started out as TAG/GOB.

  • Oswald

    Wizer #222 — I missed your comment earlier. I notice that Jared mentions ‘missions’ as something to look for in a church.
    One of the most praised speakers at T4G spoke about missions, as in reaching ‘unreached people groups’. IMO, SGM will come out in favor of world missions in the very near future, as others they hang with do. I’m all for the sending of missionaries to unreached people groups so I praise God and will continue to pray for it to happen through my SGM church.

  • BeenThere

    Oswald #236

    I know that when this subject gets brought up the professional church leaders get really nervous and assume you’re suggesting the “House Church Movement.” Now I honestly don’t know that much about that movement, but I assume it is a movement about establishing home fellowships instead of the traditional church. In some cases I think a home fellowship could very well be God’s will for a group of believers. However I would not say that there isn’t any place for the organized and traditional church, but what I would say is it needs to be transformed from what it has been.

    One mindset that I hear all the time that I completely disagree with is the thought that everyone needs to be in a traditional church. You hear it said that if there isn’t a church that is close to what you’re looking for then find the next nearest thing (whatever it is) and go to it because there’s nothing perfect. I believe that if God isn’t directing you to a specific church then the fellowship you can get in a home fellowship or even over lunch with close friends qualifies as “assembling together.” It’s just another example of how we’ve over-emphasized traditional church, and another example of why it is so hard for church leaders to recognize the problem. The very words “house church” scares the hades out of them :-)

  • Oswald

    BeenThere #235 — I think Francis Chan has spoken this way about the way we do ‘church’. He hasn’t necessarily got an alternative, though.
    I mentioned a short time ago, that Harold Camping of Family Radio says that the church age is over. Now, we know that he has said things before that seem far-out but, in many ways, I wonder if this might be so. IMO, it seems as if ‘church’ has taken on a life that God did not intend. Knowing God’s sovereignty makes it so much easier to trust Him and not be stressed about keeping-up.

  • BeenThere

    I think persona is right in saying that when the dust settles people in the reformed community will start to weigh in more. My question though is will they take away the right lessons. As I shared in an earlier post I’m relatively new to the Reformed Community, and I have the advantage of being able to bring a lot of varied church experiences to my current perspective. One thing I see that Reformed leaders and ministers have in common with their brethren in Fundamentalist and Charismatic circles is that they magnify the institution of the church to a place I don’t feel it should be. It should not be the over-arching control center of all things in a Christian’s life. It is my belief that over-emphasizing the role of the church is what leads to a lot of problems and abuses. This is a blind spot for all ministers because in one way or another they ALL (regardless of doctrine or affiliation) make their living and owe their existence to the institution of the church. So to say this is the problem is going to take a lot of self-examination and some sobering introspective thought. Will ministers and leaders be able to see that when ministers try to take too much control that this leads to problems? Will they see that allowing more freedom of thought and input can lead to more mature Christians and an even more healthy church? Can these leaders recognize the Co-dependent nature of the Minister (controller) and member (one being controlled) that takes place in many church atmospheres?

    I don’t know the answers, but I suspect this would feel like taking a tremendous risk if you are one of these leaders. For sure they would encounter great opposition from their peers for even entertaining such thoughts. And instinctively they would understand that loosening up the reins on the congregation does in fact open up a wide door for trouble-makers to exploit. But everything about Christianity is risky and against our human notions of control. Ministers have got to come to a point where they’re willing to risk this openness in order to gain what God wants in his churches.

  • Oswald

    BeenThere #232 — I agree with your words to Persona. I said the same a while back about ‘famous’ folks not speaking out against SGM.
    Thanks for your gentleness in communicating truth.

  • Oswald

    Persona #230 — You said… “I also think they can see that SGM will never be the same after this. And, with that, they harbor private opinions that they refuse to share. But, one day, when the dust settles, they might just weigh-in on the debacle.”
    I heartily agree with this. And I think we will see SGM as a mere shadow of it’s former glory not many years hence.

  • BeenThere

    Oswald #229

    I identify with that experience as well. In many ways my transformation to Reformed Theology mirrored my transformation to continuationism. In both cases I did not read any literature supporting the position or listen to speakers making the case for the position. I was exposed to each even though I had been against both for a long period of time. In both cases though it was at a time when I was open to listening and doing further research. Also in both cases the main thing that made the difference was one piece of Scripture.

    Persona #230

    I’m not sure that taking a wait and see approach isn’t EXACTLY what many in the Reformed community need to do. I know some have been critical that Piper and others haven’t come out and taken a stand, but it seems to me that remaining quiet until more is revealed is the right thing. In the end it is fruit that will solidify the conclusions. If those who have left for Louisville continue to try and take the same philosophies and methodologies to a new location it is still going to end up with the same outcome. No minister or leader wants to be too quick to jump in on something like this because inner-church and inner-ministry feuds are very common. It’s best to let things work themselves out and let the results speak for themselves over time.

  • Oswald

    MAK #223 — I listened to Sunday’s message from CLC. It seemed, once again, prophetic and metaphorical. It was about David and as I listened, I could compare the actions and events of people in the story to players in the SGM/CLC situation. Mention was made of how, at first, things look like they are going to be resolved soon and it is expected that players will act in a Godly way and when it doesn’t happen that way, there is discouragement. Then it might look like we are in it for the long haul and again, discouragement, not knowing what will happen next. The point was emphasized that God is in control and will have His way in the outcome, one way or another. We can only humbly praise Him and give Him all the glory.
    It’s worth a listen. Be attentive for the ways we can compare current players and events with those of David’s time.

  • Persona

    I listened to the Band of Bloggers the other day and found it interesting. I understand to some extent why they don’t want to wade into the complicated SGM controversies. But, I am pretty sure they all wade into other controversies with free abandon. They seem highly intelligent, but for some reason they feel they are unable to understand fully what is going on at Sovereign Grace and they have decided to leave it to members and leaders to duke it out right now.

    I also think they can see that SGM will never be the same after this. And, with that, they harbor private opinions that they refuse to share. But, one day, when the dust settles, they might just weigh-in on the debacle.

  • Oswald

    BeenThere #228 — You have indeed articulated the heart of God’s sovereignty. I also came to reformed thinking late in life, just within the last 5 or 6 years, and I too know that it was a work of the Holy Spirit that spoke truth to my heart. I don’t want to give praise to any one man as I know it is God who is at work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure. God has used the internet and how thankful I am for this technology. I have listened to many sermons, messages and ‘attended’ conferences online, sometimes live streamed, in these years, all for free, learning so much for which I am so, so thankful.
    Praise God who has it all under His control. We can trust Him.

  • BeenThere

    Speaking of Doug Wilson it is my understanding that he converted rather late in life to Reformed Theology after being thoroughly Arminian for most of his theological life. Now I’m not saying it isn’t possible to change major theological views later in life because I went through a major shift in my theology in my late 30’s. I grew up fundamentalist Baptist and later joined some Charismatic groups, and you could say I was anti-Reformed. But although I know from personal experience that it can happen, I am suspicious of people like Doug Wilson and C.J. Mahaney who seem in my opinion to have converted to Reformed Theology out of political convenience. I think for them it was a passing train that seemed to be heading somewhere at a time when it seemed that both evangelical fundamentalism and charismatic groups were running out of steam. When I went from being a fundamentalist to a charismatic it was at the height of charismatic growth. People were looking for something new due to in large part (imo) feeling that they were missing something in their current church experience. I think to some degree that has been happening to the charismatics now as well as people have grown weary of all the excitement and euphoria without a whole lot of substance. For me, the changes I made had nothing to do with expediency and the next big thing, but it was (again imo) a sovereign work of God. I am thankful for my fundamentalist upbringing and my being grounded in much Biblical truth. I am grateful for my exposure to continuationism and the opening of my spirit to all the wonderful things the Holy Spirit still wishes to do today, and I’m grateful for the anchor and peace that Reformed Theology has brought to my understanding of the Sovereignty of God.

    I’m so new in fact to Reformed Theology that I’m just in the last 9 months really getting to know many of the major players. I remember it was about a year and a half ago when I first started looking around for Reformed blogs. I was struck by how negative a lot of them were, and just how judgmental they were. It reminded me of some the same attitudes I had seen in fundamentalism where this particular group alone feels they have an “in” with God. They seemed to major on minor points and would feud over the smallest meanings of words. Many seemed to be angry most of the time. Of course one exception I found was John Piper, and I listened to a Q&A session with him on why so many Reformed believers are so negative and angry. He had what I thought was a very good answer. Reformed belief can be appealing as a philosophy apart from the theological implications. Reformed Theology has answers for everything. You might not like the answers, but it has them. The problem arises though when you take out the grace and love that anchors Reformed belief and just have the philosophical aspect. Yes we’re all totally depraved in our sinful nature, but…..there’s grace to transform us into the likeness of Christ because of our new spirit that’s been born again. Yes God is in complete control of everything, the good and the bad, but….He watches over us as His children as he watches over even the sparrows.

    I’ve said all this to say that I get the feeling that for whatever the reason their conversion may have been, that people like Doug Wilson and C.J. seem to have separated Reformed Theology as a philosophy from the very heart of what it really is which is a sovereign work of God’s grace and mercy on behalf of those who were powerless without it.

  • William T. Shakespeare

    Dear SGM pastors,

    As you may know from church history (or not – just how much history can you learn in a 10-month Pastors College curriculum? but I digress), Cardinal Wolsey, after many years of faithful service to his King, was “degifted” by his boss Henry VIII, and died en route to London before his trial could commence. When I wrote my play “Henry VIII”, I put the following words in Wolsey’s mouth (some say John Fletcher wrote them, but don’t listen to those evil textual critics – that’s just a lot of Gossip and Slander):

    “O, how wretched
    Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours!
    There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
    That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
    More pangs and fears than wars or women have:
    And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
    Never to hope again.”

    Before his death, the real Wolsey remarked that “if I had served my God as diligently as I did my king, He would not have given me over in my grey hairs.”

    SGM pastors, flee from “King” CJ while you have the chance! Heed Brent’s tragic fate!

    Your obedient servant,

  • Oswald

    MAK #223 — No mention of Dave in connection with the move to LVL at the CovFel meeting on Sunday. IMO, Dave will stay where he is. When he went to work full time for SGM, and was no longer Sr. Pastor at CovFel, he seemed to insist on staying in PA and not moving to Gaithersburg.

  • Wizer

    MAK, I don’t think Dave will likely be moving to Louisville any time soon since he has been having so many struggles with personal family matters. That’s just my hunch. And your reference to “leaving well”? I think there’s a new SGM policy just recently released that goes something like this: Leaving. Oh well.

    Beautiful Lies, you said: “I honestly never want to see another young pastor wearing jeans and an untucked shirt trying to be “relevant.” Here, here! I add to that: I honestly never want to see another young, shiny-headed, bald, pastor/elder/apostle/?? again!

  • Beautiful Lies

    Does Louisville really need another church? We were once part of the arrogance that thought Sov. Grace did church best. I truly repent of that. Who am I to judge if someone in another denomination is truly saved? SGM could learn a lot from the denominations that have been around forever. I honestly never want to see another young pastor wearing jeans and an untucked shirt trying to be “relevant”. There are many quiet souls exercising Christian faith and doing God’s work in thousands of churches across our land. Maybe they don’t use all the buzzwords, but they love God, hate sin, read the Bible and pray.

  • MAK

    Oswald, is Dave Harvey moving to Louisville also? I haven’t heard their plans. Have you had a chance to listed to CLC’s Sunday message? I’d be interested in your take on it. You’re always so faithful to listen and give a balanced perspective.

    The Purswells and Kauflins and at least half of the pastor’s college left CLC without any fanfare at all. Not even a word. Again, what about all the teaching about “leaving well”????? So CJ leaves CLC and leaders and members follow. Doesn’t anyone in SGM think this is questionable?? Instead they are praised to the height…folks are tweeting, blogging, and facebooking all about the new church plant!!!! Would there have been a Louisville church plant without the disagreement with CLC??

  • Wizer

    CJ asking Jared Mellinger about church membership on his blog:

    CJ: How would you counsel someone who is looking for a church to join—what should they be looking for?

    Jared: Don’t care too much about image, the personality of leaders, technological savvy, creativity, the size of the church, and musical style. Those are all overrated. Instead, find a church that treasures the gospel of Jesus Christ, trembles at the word of God, emphasizes preaching and sound theology, seeks the power and presence of the Spirit, abounds in love, faithfully practices the sacraments and church discipline, and is committed to biblical evangelism and missions.

    I’m so shaking my head right now. Best answer: JESUS! Just JESUS! God, please wake these men up. I find it most interesting that the very things Jared says not to look for in a church are EXACTLY what alot of SGM (at least the big ones) strive for. I remember a time not so long ago when the presence of the Spirit was more alive in my church, but it’s a strain now. Speaking in tongues, healings and prophecy were more vibrant and beautiful and all of the nonsense about SGM wasn’t high and lifted up: God was. When I read this I am so sad. I’ve got to get back there again and close this sad chapter of my church life. Some days I am hopeful, some days I am angry, and some days I just don’t care. I’m so glad my God is unchanging because I really need Him right about now.

  • Ozymandias

    JeffB and 5Years — If I could recommend a different tactic vs. consistent “comment-bombing” at Challies, Between Two Worlds, Team Pyro, and the like, I’d suggest polite, privately-emailed letters to the blog authors. I would also add that, since they are unlikely to listen to anything resembling personal critique of individual, named SGM leaders, I would emphasize to them (a) the moderation of the Fairfax letter (affirmed by 18-20 SGM churches, including CLC); (b) the fact that the interim board ignored the letter’s (and those 18-20 churches’) call for “going-slow” and bringing together a larger number of individuals to think through the denomination’s weaknesses; and (c) how the structure and process of SGM’s planned Polity Committee still doesn’t take into consideration the concerns of the letter’s signatories. You might also emphasize the denomination’s systemic problems, and ask such conservative evangelical bloggers if they think they are doing a disservice by not asking hard, public questions of a church movement that they have advertised and highlighted to the wider evangelical world over the last 5-7 years.

  • JeffB –

    I actually read Evangellyfish, based in part on Tim Challies’ review of a couple of months ago. He’d made it sound like quite a fun and well-written Christian satire.

    But, uh…well…

    To put it bluntly, I thought Evangellyfish SUCKED. Big time.

    The characters were ridiculously one-dimensional and poorly developed. And I know the book is billed as a satire, but the main situation described in the novel was so completely over-the-top implausible that after awhile it wasn’t even close to funny any more. Pretty much, the clichéd Evangelical megachurch was everything evil and bad, to the point where everybody associated with that church engaged in mindless wife-swapping and other types of immorality. The small (I think it was) Lutheran church, on the other hand, was everything good and true and wonderful. So was the pastor of the small Lutheran church.

    After I read Evangellyfish, I became more convinced than ever that the Reformed Christian book-reviewing and book-blurbing dudes (like Challies) absolutely engage in obvious cronyism. There’s no way that someone with Challies’ otherwise discerning taste in books could have thought that Evangellyfish was a worthy read with something fresh and meaningful to say to the Christian community. No way. The book contained just about every stereotype and silly cliché possible…and didn’t even dish up a semi-interesting or suspenseful plot. The writing was wooden and labored.

    The ONLY reason I could imagine for why Challies gave it a positive review is because it was written by Doug Wilson and he felt compelled to write about it the way he did for one reason (loyalty to a Reformed buddy) or another (something in his own contract/contacts/whatever that forces him to write positively about certain authors). I can’t imagine that he actually enjoyed the book or thought it was meaningful in any way.

  • Remnant

    Oswald, a send off with song, dance and CJ worship? BTDT

  • Oswald

    If indeed SGM was leaving CLC on good terms, there would have been a BIG send-off, instead of slithering off with nary a word of farewell or thanks. It’s very troubling.
    At CovFel there was a family meeting yesterday and the move was announced with smiles and excitement, like it’s a good idea.
    How about the Louisville Church Rant.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Challies blog:

    David Kjos Note to those who keep bringing up the Mahaney/Sovereign Grace affair:

    Keep it up, and I’ll keep deleting AND banning (yes, I know, you’ll keep using new pseudonyms and fake emails; that just tells me you’re as lacking in character as I think you are). No, I won’t explain, nor do I care what you think about it.

    If you must, go vent at a blog that’s actually connected with SG.

    I wonder what it’ll take to open their eyes……

  • Remnant

    @katie #210: Louisville Church Escapade

  • Fried Fish

    Katie #210 –

    Exodus? :Thinking:

  • JeffB

    A minor item.

    Two days ago, Justin Taylor posted an excerpt, that a “friend” sent him, from Douglas Wilson’s “satirical novel” Evangellyfish, which I haven’t read. As almost every commenter noted, the excerpt made fun of a character remarkably like Brent Detwiler. Wilson chimed in with the reasonable statement that he wrote it years ago, before the SGM situation became public.

    My only point is that it’s “interesting” that Taylor’s friend sent him this particular excerpt, and that he decided to post it now, when Detwiler is calling for a church court. In any case, this is not a “biggie” – just wanted to note it.

  • John


    I didn’t see your post on Challies’ blog. I posted this:

    “Was C.J. Mahaney’s book on humility written before or after he blackmailed Larry Tomzcak, his fellow co-founder of SGM?”

    It was deleted after about 20 minutes!

  • JeffB

    Oswald –

    Thanks for the link. BTW, I AM old, and I get it. Sometimes I forget what I posted on which blog.

    I first heard about that talk on Pyro, when good ol’ Frank Turk actually criticized something Challies said. Someone made a valid connection to SGM, and, of course, the roof fell in on him. I commented, although I knew it would be deleted, and, sure enough, it was. Still haven’t listened to the talk though.

    Also, btw, my comment on Challies’ blog, along with those of the two who agreed with me, has been deleted. Now others are commenting and being deleted. Last I looked, there was one on there, but not for long, I’m sure.

    It’s kind of hard to be silent when Challies touts Mahaney as an authority on humility.

  • Bridget said:

    Steve240 @203 –

    Before any of that analysis, I’d like the leaders to ask CJ to be honest about “why” he really left “his happiest place on earth.” It’s not a money issue. It’s an honesty, integrity, and pride issue. The statement that is on the SGM site about why they are moving is not the truth. Although, it appears that CJ et al have all convinced themselves that this is so. The day he walked out of CLC after his speach, he had no intention of returning.

    I agree with you Bridget. I just would really like for SGM to show figures to prove that there really is the savings that supposedly prompted this move.

    I am sure it is a money loser moving to Louisville or at least it won’t payback in savings for a number of years (10 or more).

  • katie

    Yesterday someone told me about how a friend of theirs was going on the “Louisville church plant”… I don’t think I’d heard it described that way before and it’s certainly not what I would call it. I’d call it a church plant if the church people were leaving from were the church “planting” the church… but that’s not what it is at all. I’ve been trying to figure out how to best describe it… Louisville church upheaval? Louisville church escape? Louisville church split?

    I just don’t know. Suggestions? :Wink:

  • Izze

    Oswald- I’m listening… seems like Collin is basically saying that we don’t talk negatively about people we have relationships with just like the NYTimes wouldn’t go on the offensive with particular political figures because of long term relationships. But to me it sounds like in a very nice way he basically said.. “well they scratch our back so we will continue to scratch theirs”.

    I guess putting cotton balls in your ears is easier than doing what’s right.

  • Bridget

    Steve240 @203 –

    Before any of that analysis, I’d like the leaders to ask CJ to be honest about “why” he really left “his happiest place on earth.” It’s not a money issue. It’s an honesty, integrity, and pride issue. The statement that is on the SGM site about why they are moving is not the truth. Although, it appears that CJ et al have all convinced themselves that this is so. The day he walked out of CLC after his speach, he had no intention of returning. This was confirmed by his actions and his entire extended family as they all quickly left CLC and the surrounding “happiest places on earth” churches. Since the “happiest places on earth” were no longer bowing to their former idol (which is good for them), then CJ couldn’t stand it. He has gone elsewhere for his fix and he is finding it (not a good thing for CJ). This sounds harsh, and it may be, but it is also the facts set before us as witnessed over and over again for thirty years. All who did not submit were rejected. Now whole churches will leave (many have already “silently” been excluded). I think it is the hand of God and the churches have nothing to fear. They will find freedom in Christ.

  • Bridget

    intheNickoftime @ 198 –

    Yes . . . I am well aware of that! I was “affirming” the position of the 28,000 believers, many pastors included, who are treated as mindless sheep that must be controlled by SGM leaders. These men and women are created in the image of God and are a royal priesthood able to understand and discern Truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us this would be so before he left this earth.

    I’m sick and tired of SGM and it’s leaders treating God’s elect like babies that need milk. If they still need milk after years under SGM teaching . . . then the instruction was of little use and maturity didn’t result.

  • Oswald

    JeffB re:#205 — Part about SGM is in 2nd half of an hr long discussion.
    Also noticed that I DID post this in this thread @#21.
    LOL again.

  • Oswald

    JeffB — I’m not the one who posted the Band of Bloggers link, LOL (you’ll be old someday) but I found it in the previous thread. It was posted by Ozymandias # in the 400’s.

  • Oswald

    JeffB #202 — Interesting to me the things you say about blog/blog comments. I recently heard a panel discussion of Band of Bloggers from T4G. Taylor and Challies were part of the discussion, among others. I posted a link here somewhere. Probably no one listened; no one commented that they had. Anyway, they discussed SGM and others (Elephant Room) they talked about why not post about things, how some people have been off-limits in times past, etc. I found it very interesting and informative. You might be interested. If I can find the link again, I’ll post it.

  • intheNickoftime

    I would be curious to see the SGM balance sheet to see what total $’s they have in reserve including what they think they can get from the sale of owned property such as the houses around CLC and their portion of the CLC building. I am curious if SGM even did some type of analysis like this showing the estimated costs of moving and showing what estimated savings they would experience from this move.

    If I was still in one of the associated churches and especially a leader I would want to see this financial analysis and review it before the group announced they were going to do this.

    Is SGM Leadership ignoring Luke 14:28-30 where it talks about someone not calculating the total cost of building?

    With their moving to Louisville it will require leasing or possibly purchasing space for the headquarters. That cost along with the moving cost will be significant.

  • JeffB

    Maybe things are changing.

    On Challies’ blog yesterday, he had a post that mentions Mahaney’s book “Humility.” I commented: “A good companion to Mahaney’s book ‘Humility’ is Bernard Madoff’s book ‘Honesty.'”

    It’s still there 14 hours later. No one has even commented on it.

    I think I mentioned earlier that, a few days ago, I wrote a snarky comment on Justin Taylor’s post about the NEXT Conference. That’s also still there, with a couple of people agreeing with me

    Juvenile, I know, but I’m testing to see if they’ve changed their “No negative statements about Mahaney” policies, although my comment on Taylor’s concerned the Conference in general. The one on Challies’ may have just slipped by. (Or…too subtle? I don’t think so.) We’ll see.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    This is a sovereignty of God issue right now to expose much more than SGM. When you have the panel of three dismissing the blackmail threat as words spoken in a moment of emotion but never carried out, but the email correspondence from the lawyers over a timespan of a few weeks, about the cold, calculating viability of carrying out the threat is right there in front of their nose, well, it is clear that something bigger is happening in the spirit realm.

    2 Thess 2:11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

    Reading this verse in context, it is happening in the end time when the man of lawlessness is revealed, and people are given over to final unrestrained lawlessness. I do not think we are at that final time yet, but the principle applies. God gives men over to deception because they do not believe in the truth.

    This SGM thing is a scary wake up call to me. What I see with them is men who are above the law, above their own rules, above all the rules they laid on everybody else for 30 years. Even with AoR they are not following their own rules when they blast blogs without talking to Kris and Jim first. It is like they all think the rules do not apply to them. This is why they did not have to follow civil regulations with reporting sex abuse. They are higher than the law. This is frightening. God himself is giving them over to delusion. God is doing this. And yeah, I know soemtimes we must obey God rather than men or wicked laws, but SGM is not in one of those excepted categories.

    I have never in my life wanted so much to not fall into deception and ever think I am on a higher level and above the rules, or that scripture commands don’t really apply to me. I don’t ever want to be so enamored of people that I will throw little guys under the bus just to stay in the in crowd. This all gives me the chills. I pray for grace and mercy to be spared this arrogance and blindness. To be turned over to delusion by God, because you refuse to believe the truth, well, how horrible is that. The truth is painful but delusion is so much worse.

    We need to guard our intimacy with God in prayer and ask Him to help us face hard truths, about ourselves and anything else. SGM is a national warning and I sure hope the Gospel Coalition Crowd wakes up to hear it.

  • Oswald said (in response to JeffB):

    JeffB #187 — It’s good to see someone who is open to hearing truth, and not shutting you down as if it were g/s. I wonder at your choice of words in saying ‘he might be open to criticizing them’. Is that really the goal of having him know some truth? I pray he will check out the things he’s heard before saying anything and sounding foolish. After all, he has no ‘dog in the race’.

    I also agree that is is nice when someone is willing to hear both sides. A number of people I have interacted don’t even want to hear or “entertain” the possibility that there may a number of issues in SGM including with C.J. Mahaney.

    When possible it is good to interact with people and share the other side that they may not know about.

    My thought is that some of those that aren’t open are so closed because it would destroy what they see as their perfect world. The more you have invested in a group like SGM the harder it would be to admit that it wasn’t what you thought. It is hard to admit that you were duped by a leader who didn’t practice at least some of what he taught.

  • intheNickoftime

    On a different topic –

    CLC stopped paying and Fairfax stopped paying. Those two churches accounted for over a million dollars a year to SGM.

    AoR has cost SGM $425,000 so far.

    The moves will cost money as well. They can purchase something in Ky to move into but it will take some time to sell their offices in CLC (there is a condo arrangement with CLC so hopefully CLC will buy the offices back at a fraction of what SGM paid for them! The economy is down and SGM has to leave in a hurry! Hopefully CLC wont do like they did with the sons in law.)

    If 10 or more churches leave SGM as a result of the new draconian polity CJ is writing up, and those churches dont send people to the NEW pastors college, I can see a time when SGM has to sell properties to have enough operating funds.

    As they canabalize their savings, selling MoCo townhouses, to build up a presence in Ky, hopefully the kool-aid crew will see this as a desperate attempt to put a good face on a sorry situation, and decide to go elsewhere. Only Melinger and Sasser devotee’s will be left. How long can SGM continue under those circumstances? The SGM/CJ/Loftness/Harvey leadership model will slowly crumble under the weight of continued bad publicity, poor leadership and diminished attendance.

    (Mark Lauterbauch of the San Diego SGM Church preached last week at the Fairfax Church. He explained how the regular overbearing SGM model slowly drove people away from their church. The only way they avoided closing was to go to the people. They opened up to the congregation, ran the church like most churches where the people had some say in the direction and operation of the church and now the church is back up to a level that they are talking about planting a new church. Check it…there is hope. )

  • intheNickoftime

    Bridget –

    SGM doesn’t WANT brothers and sisters that could reach an equitable decision.

    They want to do what they want to do. For over a year now they have done what they wanted, mostly. They have made excuses and tried to avoid getting blamed for anything.

    The three panels were the closest they came to real accountability. The facts came out pretty well but the conclusions were still all SGM.

    SGM wants to keep the kool-aid flowing to those who drink. Everyone else can get lost!

  • Bridget

    Res Ipsa –

    Yes. Out of 28,000 members across the country I’m sure they could find brothers and sisters that could reach an equitable decision :)

    SGM does not think very highly of those 28,000 members.

  • Res Ipsa

    lmalone #174 wrote

    Think about this…so far there have been NO brothers and sisters who can decide this fairly with wisdom.

    I disagree. There are plenty of wise brothers and sisters who could decide this fairly. The fact that the parties can’t agree on who should decide doesn’t mean that fair-minded, godly people capable of reaching an equitable decision don’t exist.

  • MAK

    Yes, the train wreck is classic but how can we live without the beating the dead horse, the little guy puking, and of course Mr. Koolaid!!!!

  • Luna Moth

    Chug chug chug chug…Woo woo!

    :Happy-Grin: :Pleasure:

    (hee hee)

  • Defender

    Thanks for the help Luna.
    I just want to play with the trains again…..

  • Luna Moth

    :I-Wish: …for the train wreck back!! :Cry-Out:




    Put those emoticons BACK!!! :Bully:

    How can I persuade you?:Thinking:

    I know, I’ll get my champion to help!


  • Oswald

    Thanks JeffB.

  • JeffB

    Oswald –

    After I posted the comment, I wasn’t happy with those words either. What I meant was that he might be more accurate positively and negatively.

  • Oswald

    JeffB #187 — It’s good to see someone who is open to hearing truth, and not shutting you down as if it were g/s. I wonder at your choice of words in saying ‘he might be open to criticizing them’. Is that really the goal of having him know some truth? I pray he will check out the things he’s heard before saying anything and sounding foolish. After all, he has no ‘dog in the race’.

  • JeffB

    Concerning Louisville: You may recall that someone posted a link on the last thread to a blog called It had a very positive article about SGM coming to that city. I wrote a comment questioning some of the things in the article. (It’s still there, six days later.)

    The author, Darin Anderson, emailed me, and admitted that most of his info came from the AOR report. He was eager for more input, so I gave him a summary and some links. He wrote back to thank me, and said that he realized there was more to the story and wanted to be accurate to the facts.

    Though it’s just a small blog, without, he said, much traffic, he might be someone who is not beholden to SGM and will be open to criticizing them. It’s a start.

  • Epaphras

    @ATC you said: “Now I don’t know where I am… I read Kris’ 160 and totally agreed with it and then I read Epaphras’ 161 and totally agreed with THAT.”

    I agreed with both too.

  • Oswald

    Sorry, badly copied link @#184 — good one below.

  • Oswald

    (I posted this at Refuge and wanted to say it here as well.
    I just listened to the message from T4G by Ligon Duncan. Titled ‘The Underestimated God’. As I listened I was thinking, both Josh Harris and CJ Mahaney were part of the audience and heard this message and I wondered what each of them took from it. It’s a very moving and informative study of Elijah’s experiences and God’s ways with him. I also wondered if Duncan had any thoughts of anyone in particular as he prepared or if he had all hearers, as human beings, in mind.…..mated-god/

  • Friendly Observer

    Many months and many threads/conversations ago, Brent was seen by several posting here as analogous to Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the cathedral. “Well done,” some said in essence, “now pack it in and move one with your life.”

    Now, it appears, the metaphor has changed. Here is Luther, post-excommunication, petitioning in some way to get the Pope disciplined and to regain a standing in the R.C. church. Odd.

    As to the civil action threat, I think Res Ipsa answered best: Brent has no standing in the civil court for wrongful termination, as that was determined by the local church and its immediate advisers. If Brent has standing to validate a civil decision, what does he hope to win? Also, if Brent has standing in civil court, then why doesn’t “Friendly Fire” have equal standing for the treatment he received from BD and MC?

    Could this be analogous to the man from La Mancha tilting at windmills? I mean no disrespect for Brent, but he’s beginning to remind me of a bull terrier, hanging tough — but for what ultimate cause?

  • Yellow is a Happy Color

    Rick said in 161————“the hardest part of forgiveness is the necessity of dropping our expectation of seeing justice this side of heaven.” Rick, that is so true and wise!!!

    I think exClcer brought up the whole Claude story simply to illustrate how easily CLC’s cultish ways can come up in random conversations in the community. I had long heard about CLC’s cultish ways, but didn’t believe it for myself……

  • Defender

    Guy, I’m with MAC.

    Ya know, I could just sit and watch that train crash again and again for HOURS.

    (Yeah, I’m easily amused.)

  • Rick

    MAK, I laugh heartily with you regarding future leadership. My whole view of leadership changed after a sermon series done by a beloved teaching elder on the parables. I discovered, as Philip Yancey would say, the Jesus I never knew. I was transformed by the invitational Jesus I met in the parables, in contrast to the very imperative Jesus that I heard about in the 38+ years of sermons and exhortation I experienced. I found that I not only loved Jesus, but I liked Him, an important rounding out of my spiritual life.

    I was told by one of the leaders in the association of churches we belong to that the transformed leadership vision I had acquired was “dangerous”–I had just finished an explanation of how I thought that it was up to leadership to set a positive example that would invite people into loving relationship with Jesus, rather than pushing them to conform to whatever ‘vision’ leadership felt compelled to project. I think leadership should be risky–if we are truly following Christ, won’t the fragrance of that be attractive enough to draw others to follow Him as well? I knew my days were numbered after the ‘dangerous’ label was applied.

    The other men in leadership were/are good men; it is risky to invite, rather than compel–people can turn down an invitation. We may look as though we have failed. I’m OK with that now, but I was never salaried, so the fear of having my financial security threatened was never an issue. I have empathy for professional leadership–I am currently reading the book by Mataxis called Bonhoeffer; I love that the Christians that dissented from the state church in Germany before WWII chose to call themselves the Confessing Church. It would be better for us all if we were more confession oriented than profession oriented.

    Blessings upon all the readers this evening,

  • MAK

    Guy, what happened to the old Emoticons???? There’s a few I miss!!

    • Guy

      I had to do some spring cleaning, and the emoticons were a casualty. Maybe I can be convinced to go back, but for now we’ll have to do with the big shiny ones ;)

  • MAK

    Rick, :Approve: Excellent comment. For years we were taught to be humble when receiving “input” or “correction” but yet now when the congregation is giving “input” which disagrees with the leadership they get defensive. I couldn’t agree more with you when you say “Giving up control is quite freeing”. Yes, pastors will give an account but ultimately the church is in God’s control. Who are we to think that we control the church.

    Rick, if your season of not being in leadership ends, I think we have a few openings at CLC vacated by CJ’s son-in-laws. We’d be glad to have your perspective, LOL!!

  • Rick

    One more quick note–if AoR or SGM leadership did read the blogs comprehensively–in context, they would take note of the self-correcting factors present when communication is allowed to flow freely and uncensored. What MAK offered to correct my lack of understanding is, I think, one of the necessary reasons that questions and concerns should be encouraged and welcomed in the midst of this living organism we call the church. If the truth is our priority, then we should fear nothing. Speaking as one currently enjoying a rest from leadership responsibilities, if we are insecure hearing the perceptions of others regarding our leadership, that should be a provocation to humble ourselves and seek input regarding our blind spots. I have been the recipient of some unfair criticism; however, the larger part of criticism that I/we received for our leaderships decisions, in retrospect, was deserved. I wish I had been quicker to discern rightly–but I am utterly grateful for the grace demonstrated toward me as I better understand my humanity expressed in that risky place of leadership. Giving up the desire to be in control is quite freeing.

  • MAK

    Thanks for the kind words Rick. There’s been a lot of dialogue regarding open mic/controlled meetings. It appears that the CLC leadership is somewhere in between right now. Keep in mind that one of the main items they came under fire for and earned SGMs rebuke and eventual cut off was having open mic/discussion at members meetings. You know people should not be able to speak their minds because that is gossip and slander. Even AOR mentioned this in their report and advised against it.

    Also, CLC’s format is one pastor moderates and asks the questions of a panel of pastors. One pastor answers the question and then other pastors that have anything to add chime it. I find it an acceptable format as it answers a lot of questions in a short amount of time. Also, the pastors welcome follow up emails after the meeting and normally hang around for a while after if anyone wants to follow up personally.

  • Rick

    MAK at 170, thank you for your clarification–I misunderstood a previous post and thought the grumbling talk was a Sunday sermon. I have somewhat of a sensitivity to the matter of having questions written and screened–for years I was an elder in a non-SGM church. There were times we had community meetings (similar to the coffee and questions meetings) and we required the questions and comments to be written down, rather than an open mic. It was for purposes of command and control–something I should have objected much more strenuously to than I did at the time (though I did object early in my time with this format). I was unaware of the open-mic at the end and gladly accept your correction and clarification.

    Comments from members of the congregation regarding that format is that we didn’t do a very good job of hiding our true motivation, which was to maintain a comfortable control over the meeting. It also effectively cuts off the opportunity for follow-up questions, and robs us of both tone and body language in the communication. I remember reading some of the more controversial questions in a very flat tone and affect, also a method of deescalating the importance or gravity of the question–to my shame–I was very unfair to the questioner. Probably because of my experience in being on the manipulative end of this I bear a hypersensitivity to it. I am glad to know CLC is taking the bold step of the open mic.

    Again, thanks.

  • lmalone

    Folks, please stop with the 1 Corin 6 rebuke. You are interpreting that in a wooden way. Think about this…so far there have been NO brothers and sisters who can decide this fairly with wisdom. Why is that? Because you are not dealing with Brothers who want that sort of “reconciliation”.

    If I were Brent, I would move on. He is taking on big dogs and won’t win. Churches and with the protection of their church position, church leaders can pretty much do what they want and people rarely win. Most sue because of discovery and getting stuff out in the open. It is a way to get documents and make them public. The key is NEVER go to work at a church. This stuff happens all over the place.

    Just because someone calls themselves a Christian does not mean you have no biblical right to sue them. Same goes for having a Christenese title. YOu guys are treating the title or label as a talisman.

    I want to say this as gently as possible. Some of you are still reading scripture through your SGM lens. According to your wooden interpretation a woman who has been abused by a “christian” husband could not “sue” for divorce.

    And for those of you who think the T4G leaders don’t really know the bad stuff. They do know. They admire CJ. They admire the “strong leadership”. They are a lot like him. You just don’t know that. And they will continue to protect him and help him. The person who should be the most worried is Mohler. He is just an employee of the SBC. He has forgotten that fact. But he has stuck his neck out pretty far. We will see how much power he really has in the next few years.

    The SBC is 90% NON Calvinist. And they are starting to wake up to the authoritarian non priesthood follow the human bent of this New Calvinism and they don’t like it one bit.

  • Unassimilated

    MAK – Claude was part of the SGM/CLC inner circle, did you miss that? Did you miss how we as a church, CLC would put him on stage as an
    example of Gods favor and influence. Did you miss the part about how SGM and CLC originally chose DC as a headquarters as the best place to
    have national influence. Do you see how them turning tail to Louisville is turning their back on 30 years of work and planning?

    Or was that not spelled out enough in the post.

    If your commentary was on the times article, post it there.

    What would you like to rant about my sweets, other than how we chose to spend our time, which is not your business. Don’t like what I post,
    ignore and move on.

  • ATC

    Now I don’t know where I am…

    I read Kris’ 160 and totally agreed with it and then I read Epaphras’ 161 and totally agreed with THAT.

    Both had a lot of spiritual food for thinking Christians..

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

    PS: And, Rick at 162 – “Again, thanks–anyone who reads this blog with an open mind would see wonderful expressions of grace.”

    Yes. Amid the pain, grief, wisdom, anger, unrighteousness, unbelief, cynicism, hope, truth, joy, despair, gossip, disbelief….. There is also this.

  • MAK

    May I ask, what the Claude Allen incident has to do with any of this?? He lives in Avalon Farms and home schools his kids so he’s in a cult???

    I guess SGM doesn’t give you all enough topics to discuss…

  • MAK

    While I’m a pretty regular participant on this blog, I try to be pretty careful to get my facts straight before I post. There have been a couple of times that I haven’t and have reposted to correct or going forward not posted until I verify the facts. With that said, I agree with Rick #162 above that you can’t just all of a sudden believe that the leadership in SGM churches is changing dramatically. SGM is all some pastors have ever known. It’s deeply engrained in their pastoral being. There are 2 areas of clarification though “members meetings where all the questions are submitted beforehand and pre-screened”…the recent coffee and questions meeting that pastors did request questions beforehand. I saw this more as a way to organize questions and they also had an open mic for some questions at the end. Also the recent message on grumbling was a talk given to a small business network meeting at CLC not a message during a sunday meeting.

  • exCLCer

    Gosh, I kept thinking to myself “Avalon Farms sounds so familiar…..” but I couldn’t place it. When I looked it up I realized that is the neighborhood near the airpark, like you said right aroiund the corner from CLC) where for the one year (after CLC cut all tuition assistance from my family)I was supposedly being “home-schooled” and one of the “charitable” higher status church couples offered to my mom to “help teach” me, and I spent day after day, left alone at their house, babysitting their extremely disabled infant child, while the parents would be gone for hours. What an education that was. I wasn’t at all being taught, but I definitely learned all about underlying motives, false charity, usury, and social status that year. Anyway, yeah, I’m not surprised to hear attorneys, social workers, and other officials call them a cult. I guess it only surprises me to see people still IN it that continue to think the extreme practices over the years are normal when they are clearly odd to say the least.

  • Unassimilated

    I too am concerned that the world of Louisville wont know what hit them.

  • Unassimilated

    exCLCer – BTW, Most Attorneys in the Moco area know CLC as a cult as well. Particularly those practicing in the area divorce.
    CLC’s position on spanking always seems to be a hot topic. The only pseudo positive comment I ever heard was, “Your wife has to
    say yes when you feel the urge.” Not a glowing endorsement if you ask me.

    They are well known in the real estate world as well, not only for the number of agents that belong/network in CLC. But also for
    being easy to sell to if you can place a member close to a chosen CLC family and/or one of the elected neighborhoods.

    We did take over Avalon Farms. Pricey homes with acreage just around the corner from the mothership.

    For all SGMs/CLCs thoughts and hopes of reputation and influence, it is the term cult that is used most often when most of the world speaks of them.

  • Stunned

    Rick, AMEN!!!!

  • exCLCer

    Unassimilated – wow, just wow. I mean I knew they had their hands deep inside the beltway, with Grange being legal counsel for The Fellowship (the secret society with the now somewhat infamous C street townhome), and with JH flying in Grudem to speak at the church and himself admittedly giving a month long series of sermons on political culture etc…I can not agree with Brent about the need for this kind of influence in DC and I welcome seeing them leave my hometown area, but I do feel sorry for the possibly unsuspecting victims in Louisville who may not even see it coming.

  • Unassimilated

    exCLCer – There were a number of people that used to rally to Claude’s defense in CLC, some even claiming Claude was taking the
    fall for a twin brother.

    Prior to the arrest, the CLC Pastors and CJ would point to Claude as a confirmation of God anointing and the deep desire God had
    for them to influence the world at large. CLS would pray fro him regularly as if he were some ambassador of the SGM Gospel.

    Funny you bring this up as Claude was one of the first people that came to mind when I read this on Brent’s Blog the other day.

    “How about staying in D.C. so you can influence the whole nation and the most influential people in the world with the gospel!”

  • exCLCer

    Strange how it seems everywhere I go there is discussion that leads to this dang church and its members, leaders, and actions: So I am participating in a discussion with PolySci students in my class about political corruption starting with individuals and how little the public may know about a politician until they are exposed, and randomly one of them mentions how he used to live in Avalon Farms and had a neighbor a few houses down from him named Claude Allen who was a top white house aid under Prez Bush but was also a vocal member of (what this student termed)”a huge cult called Covenant Life” and even a position of the groups legal team, and how he seemed to be making a pretty good living from the looks of it. The neighbors thought it was strange he home-schooled all of his kids and even more odd that there was a rapid influx of other cult members all moving into the neighborhood at the same time that year(major reason the other neighbors assumed they must belong to a cult). Turns out while living there Allen ends up being investigated and arrested for stealing items from Hechts and Target stores and running a long term “return the item for cash” scam on the stores. Of course when the papers all came to try to interview neighbors about the scandal, all the new cult members who had moved in came out of the woodwork to talk to the reporters to defend him and he (this student)assumed then that was possibly why they all had moved near each other — to provide resilience and public protection in numbers. When I mentioned they were actually a church all the students laughed and said “yeah right, that’s not normal stuff a regular church does”. They weren’t going to get an argument out of me of course. I looked up Claude Allen online and came up with this time article:,8599,1172159,00.html

    ….no surprise, it was true. It used to surprise me to hear CLC or SGM come up in random conversations with other people, and it used to be normal to have to explain to the average random Montgomery county resident just who this CLC/SGM organization was. But they seem to be becoming pretty well known by their works and needless to say their public image is not a pretty one. But this wouldn’t be the first time a corporation moved their headquarters or “home base” in an attempt to find more neutral ground, a change of venue of sorts, where public image can be reinvented after scandal had rocked their reputation in their former location. Nothing seems to surprise me anymore…….

  • Rick

    Kris, your words are both wise and generous in your assessment of Brent–I thank you for that. I am tempted as I watch the Brent–SGM leadership saga go on is to just think that they deserve each other–in a sense Brent’s relentless legalistic demands are a mirror for SGM. I think perhaps what would best serve Brent is if he could gain an awareness that what has happened to him is what he, along with others in SGM leadership, have with gusto meted out to others through the years. If he could come to understand the mercy he needs for his past, perhaps mercy for those currently in leadership would be awakened in him. Either Brent, or the SGM leadership, will willingly have to lay down their sword first–I doubt that SGM leadership is structurally capable of doing so. I have sadness for Brent in this; the hardest part of forgiveness is the necessity of dropping our expectation of seeing justice this side of heaven. Kris, your words help me to see Brent with more mercy, less judgment.

    It is also why I caution those with high expectations of reforming leadership from Josh Harris and others; in a great sense their identity is so fully integrated into the historical structure of SGM polity and practice. To quote the comic strip Dilbert, for CLC and other ‘dissenting’ leadership to radically change their practices would be “a paradigm shifting without a clutch”. A few degrees shift here and their from their historical course is occurring and will continue to occur–but watch them closely. Members only meetings where all the questions addressed have to be submitted in writing and screened–the fear of loss of control is palpable on their part. The recent message on grumbling–and the lack of candor regarding past abuse. The addressing of CJ,s issues only after the documents went viral on the internet. The need to continually verbally reinforce how ‘precious’ past leadership at CLC and SGM rather than letting their actions speak for themselves.

    Again, thanks–anyone who reads this blog with an open mind would see wonderful expressions of grace.

  • Epaphras

    However discerning, I still don’t get it. One of the chief things that abusive leadership counts on is that those affected will give up, ideally right away but, if necessary, as long as it takes. SGM is classic and expert. The recent move to Louisville is just that kind of action writ large.

    There is a difference between the psychological need to ‘move on’ (or as some on this blog rightly put it, forgive) without confusing that with taking appropriate actions (which may be ‘leave SGM church’ but also may be ‘call for SGM Board to examine evidence’).

    Whether or not Brent ‘has a case’ before either a church or civil panel/court is a fine question, but different than whether Christians have a biblical right to proceed down that path. They do, providing that they have not yet been given a chance to be heard justly. Why one should give up (‘move on”) before that has taken place puzzles me since again, it is precisely what the offending party wants to achieve to consolidate their injustice.

    I wish that LT had not ‘moved on’ but done what Brent is doing today … still, that was its own situation. Brent may have been and may still be spiritually blind as a bat, the world’s biggest prig and hypocrite or not. I’m not smart enough to read people’s minds.

    But as to what he is doing, how is it biblically unsound, unless one is convinced that a believer must never find themselves in court with another believer? Undoubtedly, that should be a last resort. Has not Brent waited years before making anything public? And a year before raising the bar because SGM has stiffed him yet again and, indeed, slandered him continually? Isn’t he still calling for this to be resolved by (unbiased) Christians?

    Paul did not imply that Christians should never resort to civil courts. The instance he cited was an egregious effort to circumvent church order first. He himself appealed to civil authorities when he considered it vital for the gospel. Paul’s case also helps to answer the question,”but how/where will a church court be convene?” Matters were hardly ideal then, either! The Jews were scarcely behaving in an orderly way and the Romans were bestial. Even so, Paul saw the Roman leaders as having been positioned by God so they would do the right thing under Him. Paul was not naive, nor was he super-spiritual and gnostic.

    What bothers me, I suppose, is the lack of biblical support for opposition to Brent’s intention juxtaposed with our generation’s ‘don’t hassle it’ mentality, since the latter paves the way for so much of SGM’s dysfunction. If a church ‘court’ cannot or will not convene and a civil court throws Brent’s charges out (assuming his lawyers feel he has a case), I will be the first to pray/encourage this brother to ‘let it go’.

    Until then, I pray he does not let it go and that SGM does what it should have done all along and could have done privately: examine Brent’s evidence objectively in the fear of God.

  • I confess to having mixed feelings about Brent’s latest post, and mixed opinions about what he should do.

    I’ve actually grown to appreciate Brent over the past year. Sometimes it’s crazy to remember how I used to think of him, back when he was all apostolic and putting out patriarchal and weirdly SGM-centric materials like his Questions For Courtship document, in which he outlined the supposedly ideal courtship, which included keeping the girl totally in the dark about the guy’s interest in her until after the guy had gotten the go-ahead from the girl’s dad. Then, Brent suggested, the guy could “surprise” the girl – after the big dramatic relationship had already practically been decided upon by the girl’s dad and the guy!

    (I could not believe the level of disrespect for women that such advice revealed – like young ladies are such vapid fools that if they thought a guy liked them before their dad could give the green light, the A-OK, they would just dissolve right there into helpless puddles of giggly wedding planning, coupled with inappropriate sexuality…so therefore, to prevent such out-of-control reactions to a guy’s attention, the girl had to be deceived into thinking the guy had nothing more than platonic interest in her until he’d jumped through the dad’s courtship hoops. Ugh! “Surprise her,” indeed!

    Just the fact that anyone would believe that such a scenario would be both A) desirable and B) possible demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of humanity!)

    Considering how that Questions For Courtship document made the rounds and was widely distributed among SGM churches – and thus widely influential – I took to thinking of Brent as “Uncle Brent,” for the way he apparently viewed himself as some wise elder with enough familial authority to weigh in on a topic like courtship in such elaborate and socially weird and emotionally wooden and clueless detail. It was almost humorous to think about the dysfunctional relationships that Brent’s guidelines, if followed to the letter, would have produced.

    And Questions For Courtship was just one segment of the wake of legalistic control that Brent’s leadership seemed to leave behind. There were many other stories, many other teachings.

    So I found Brent both sort of scary and sort of silly, like how could someone obviously so smart be at the same time so insular and clueless about SGM-style legalism, especially how it would seem to the rest of “normal” Christianity?

    After interacting with Brent over the past year, though, my opinion of him has changed a great deal. I’ve seen him demonstrate a good sense of humor and even some irony about all the SGM stuff.

    I’ve also – as I’ve said many times – grown to have a considerable amount of respect for how Brent stuck to his guns with respect to the SGM principles that he taught to others. Think what you will of those principles – particularly the ones relating to confronting others in their sins and holding others accountable – but you have to say that at least Brent was about the only one who has remained consistent. He’s really the ONLY one who has genuinely lived out what the SGM system supposedly claims to stand for. That is really the source of his fury, his indignation, over everything that’s gone down with CJ and CJ’s enablers. Brent has been (and continues to be) ferocious in his desire to get all the others to stick with what they all claimed to believe.

    At the same time, I’ve talked several times before about how I think Brent is still somewhere in the early stages of seeing SGM for what it is. You can discern in his many blog posts the reality that he is currently still under the delusion that all could be made right in his (and SGM’s) world if only the right people would repent and go back to living out what they supposedly believed about accountability and confession of sins. Brent has not yet reached the point of seeing the flaws in SGM’s ideas about authoritarian sin-sniffing and finger-pointing…and how few of the other guys in power truly wanted those beliefs to apply to THEM when the rubber hit the road. Brent is still mired in the old idealistic mindset and hasn’t yet rejected it.

    But I’ve said all along, seeing SGM for what it is – and thus being able to know what to reject – seems to be something that happens in a flash of Holy Spirit-inspired insight. I loved what “Sea change” wrote yesterday:

    SGM kind of reminds me of those visual riddle things. You know the pictures that you have to look at and look at, and maybe cross your eyes just so until you just see it the right way, and then the hidden image is revealed. The real secret image is hidden in the jumble of details, and it can be hard to see, but once you see it can’t be unseen. Some people just don’t see or don’t want to see. But the ones who see it are flailing around and pointing to the picture going “I can’t believe you dont see! It’s right there!”

    So, SO true!

    I think it’s safe to say that Brent is nowhere near that moment where he “sees the picture,” so to speak.

    (For all you fellow Seinfeld fans out there, remember the episode where Elaine’s rich old codger boss Mr. Pitt became obsessed with staring at one of those pictures and grew increasingly frustrated with his inability to see it? Well, right now, Brent = Mr. Pitt. Snicker. I’m sure Brent, if he’s ever even watched Seinfeld, would not be too thrilled with being told he’s Mr. Pitt.)

    So, all of this is to say, yes, I actually sort of agree with “5years'” analysis of Brent’s latest post. I think Brent probably does need to step back and try to let it go.

    But at the same time, Brent’s journey is Brent’s journey. He is where he is right now. And some of that can’t be helped. He’s not at the place (yet) where he’s “seen the picture.” Consequently, he can’t be expected to react and behave the way we think he ought to. He’s mired somewhere in a post-SGM no-man’s-land. Like I’ve said, “You can take the boy out of SGM, but you can’t as easily or quickly take the SGM out of the boy.”

    I think we need to pray for Brent, that he’ll “see the picture.” Which would include seeing his own part in creating that picture. He has to get to that point before he can be expected to step away from the sometimes cringe-worthy over-the-top efforts to make all right again in his SGM world. He has to understand that that world never really existed in the first place before he can be expected to know how to wisely put that world behind him and move on with his life.

  • Moniker

    I agree with 5Years (#150). It seems like Brent still doesn’t get it. I feel like he hasn’t owned up to his part in the SGM fiasco. He was the “resident theologian” on the apostolic team for many years and he is responsible for teaching much of the bad doctrine that led to the abusive authoritarianism that damaged so many lives. He’s the one who hammered us with the doctrine of sin over and over again. He’s the one who preached that courtship and homeschooling and wives staying at home are next to godliness. He told us that it was disgraceful for a man to have a ponytail, that we shouldn’t go out to eat or shop on Sundays and that we shouldn’t read the newspaper on Sunday morning because we should be preparing our hearts for the “Sunday Celebration.” I remember a sermon when he told us that it’s not true that God loves everyone, but that He hates sinners. I could go on and on. Brent did a lot of good, but he did a lot of damage that didn’t effect only those in the churches he pastored. From his position of supposed authority, his influence spread throughout all of PDI/SGM. He needs to own up to it. But I just don’t think he sees it yet.

    Res Ipsa (#156) – Thanks for weighing in. I was thinking that Brent’s idea of a lawsuit was unrealistic.

  • katie

    Beautiful Lies,
    I agree with you. I’m torn because I think Brent makes some good points, but at the same time he is overly relentless. If he was emailing me the things he’s emailing CJ and Ted Kober and the board, etc, I probably wouldn’t respond either. I think he’s obsessed with SGM and just can’t let go. His approach is almost harassing and it makes him sound less reliable and more like a madman.
    There reaches a point where you just have to let go and not let it affect your life anymore.

  • Beautiful Lies

    If anything, I think Dave Harvey has a lawsuit in the making for Brent’s “Hardball” post. I wonder if he will let it go himself as per 1 Cor?

    Someone at Refuge said Brent is addicted to SGM and the individuals he used to work with. I thought that was a very good point. For an organization he is no longer a part of, he just can’t let it go. “Justice is mine”, says the Lord. Brent, we want you to be happy and relaxed and loving God. Maybe instead of collecting emails and pursuing a war of words you will never fully win, just enjoy another career, your family, your hobbies, your current church, your relationship with God. Let Him fight the battle and the war. We want you to have peace.

  • Res Ipsa

    Brent has no viable claims and he doesn’t want to hear that. Believe me, I tried. He was not an employee of SGM when he lost his job. He was an employee of one of the churches in NC so his wrongful termination case would have to be brought against that church (which no longer exists) and would have to be based on NC law. Wrongful termination is nearly impossible to prove in NC and, as Unassimilated pointed out, it has been gutted by the Supreme Court where churches and clergy are involved. His other “claims” are equally baseless. 5Years is absolutely right and the person who said “Get a clue” might benefit from some more research. A lawsuit simply should not be considered, not only because it’s a giant waste of time and money but because scripture prohibits it:

    But instead, one brother takes another to court — and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 1 Cor. 6:6-7

    Brent now claims he wants to bring a suit for the betterment of SGM and those in its wake. That’s a great way to try to get around 1 Cor. 6 and a great way to get your encouragement but it ignores scripture and the law.

  • Oswald

    Beth Young #145 — Well said, and thanks for your gentleness and compassion. It reminds of the story of Elijah as mentioned in the CLC message this past Sunday. Elijah is very discouraged and tells God he’s done everything right and he’s the only one who is not turning against God, and God says ‘I have a job for you, go and do it. And, by the way, I have 7,000 who have not turned to Baal’. God reminds Elijah that he’s not the only one waiting on God’s way, and also, that God has a job for him to do, so go do it. In other words, God says ‘move on, I can handle this’. God reminds Elijah, and us, that He is still at work even if it looks like nothing is happening or changing. God is not necessarily going to go by our plan. We can’t predict how God will work or even when He is at work. He is past finding out. We can only trust.

  • SMP

    An appeal to all SGM pastors:

    I pray that you will all consider the following message as it may pertain to you personally.

    Many of those in your congregation have turned there back on those that have left Sovereign Grace.
    Do you have people in your congregation that are not speaking to family members for ANY reason? Are these ex-members of SGM ALL to be treated as divisive? Have you encouraged your sheep to go looking for those they are estranged from BEFORE they go to the alter?

    If we are to be labeled as anything on these blogs you must take into account ALL of us..just like we do you. Some of you are Godly and some of you are exactly what you think we are. You can’t all be right ALL the time, can you? You do see us appeal to you. You see us humble restoration, kindness and care for our own wounded. What is the matter with you? Stand up, help us!

    We want the truth. We fight for justice and you read and read and read the blogs. There is truth in these stories and heart ache and all you can do is write and read reports. Your knees should be scarred from crying out to God on them for the ministry that you are involved in. Look at yourself. What if you just started with…”I could be wrong?”

    How can you look the other way when that AoR report came across your desk? You KNEW that these blogs were serving hundreds that had been in your very own care. How bad does it have to be… to see bloggers scrap people off the pavement after they have been treated so cruely by ANY church group? Have you no compassion? Where is your heart of kindness that drips off of you each week to those who stay in your church? Can you only care and reach out to those in your house? Why do you show “grace” to only those you like?

    What priciples are you holding to if you can not help us “sinners?” WHERE IS YOUR COURAGE? Why do you not fight for the weak? Why do you let AoR IGNORE those who have been ruined by these men? Are you one of them? Please show me how to continue to pray for you. I am losing heart in your ability to hear.
    GO and be RECONCILED…GO!

  • Sea change

    5years #150 I hear you on this one. I kind of wonder if he wouldn’t take his top dog position back too. I really appreciate what he has done to shine the light big and bright on sgm, but I get mixed feelings too.

  • Persona

    Christiana 149

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • SMP

    To Beth Young,
    It is good of you to take the time to post to us and remind us not to get so caught up in the details that we become unproductive. While, I do see much forgiveness through the fruit in my life, I can not simply stop desiring reconciliation.

    Perhaps it is foolish to wait for something that will not take place as we look at the terrible events that continue to unfold. Still, many of us are separated from family and hope these pastors will someday teach and bring reform to their flock.
    It may be more difficult then you realize for some of us to “move on” when we can not be with our familes. Being shunned by those you grew up with and are blood relatives..relatives that God gave us, is very difficult indeed. I must believe that God can and will DO something to stir hearts, convict and prayfully change the ones that can and will have the scales fall off their eyes.

  • 5yearsin PDI

    Epaphras, of course I may be wrong.

    But, at this point in time, Brent has how many posts on his blog? 95, 96 or so? Getting near one hundred.

    To my recollection, and please correct me if I am wrong, Brent has never uttered one word about the sex abuse cases where perps get church support and victims become the problem. Those cases happened while he was part of the founding team that goes back to originally four Apostles (more A’s were added later).

    Brent has not commented on all sorts of things that ought to make his former apostolic blood boil. In addition to the sex abuse, there are untold horror stories on this blog many of which happened under his apostolic tenure. It has been posted here that people have contacted him (within the last year) to try to reconcile and he backs out himself at the last minute.

    I don’t know Brent personally. I can say that he spent at least 20 years at the top lording it over the flock like CJ and the others, and maybe as many as 7 years starting to see the problems with CJ, until he got kicked out.

    I have to say I have mixed reactions to his posts. All of us have conflicting sides to our life with the old man of the flesh and new man of the spirit at war. Sometimes he seems to be a wise vessel of the Lord, but most other times he seems doggedly fixated on himself, him being wronged, his agenda for what Brent ought to have the right to.

    In secret, is he pushing to see all the sex abuse cases made right and restitution granted? I don’t know. All I know is what I see on the blogs, and the focus still does not seem to be on the sheep he was called to watch over in his apostolic days.

    I would be delighted to see a lawyer take on a class action suit for all the bungled SGM sex abuse victims. Of course I believe in the civil magistrate upholding justice. I in no way think all recourse to civil couts is wrong.

    But Brent? This post? He has been denied reconciliation with CJ and the rest? Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me? He has been denied due process and lied about and slandered. Yeah. That is true. So where is the outrage about all the degifted pastors with kids who lost their jobs for no good reason?

    Hey, I could be wrong. He just seems so self focused. I think he needs serious counseling. Just my opinion. Its late, and I need to get off this subject and go on with my life. Right now I honestly think that if Brent had the chance to go back into SGM at the top level, he’d go for it. And for that reason I think he still does not see the truth that Josh Harris saw when Josh spoke of serious systemic problems through the entire organization- a systemic infection Brent is partly responsible for himself.

  • Christiana

    Persona #127 — The message you mention was at a small weekday morning gathering for those desiring to reach out to people in the workplace. This was in no way a “warning from the pastors.” Are you perusing the CLC website looking for something to find fault with?

  • Contentious Jones

    Ozymandias #146:

    I wonder how this new polity “test” is going to square with CLC’s non-staff elders ‘n deacons proposal (assuming it’s actually put into practice)? Are Josh and Co. ready for yet another fight? Would CeeJay and his SGM minions actually put up with elders who don’t depend on SGM for their livelihoods?

    That phrase “Book of Church Order” is sure to please Big Dogs like Duncan. I can hear them now: “See how Presbyterian SGM is becoming!” Give me a break…

  • Sea change

    On the previous topic of bible studies, I felt seriously confused when I fell into my SGM church and discovered none. In my background bible studies were encouraged. To discover a church that supposedly was biblical but that didn’t allow groups to study the bible….well I had to scratch my head. Say what you will about lack of women’s and men’s ministry, since in all honesty they aren’t something that the bible prescribes to fall under church authority. But to not only not encourage bible studies explicitly, but to not let groups just talk about the bible instead of dissecting the last weeks sermon? It smells bad to an outsider. Fortunately for me, even after several years in SGM I still felt for the most part like an outsider. The longer you stay the more numb you become.

    SGM kind of reminds me of those visual riddle things. You know the pictures that you have to look at and look at, and maybe cross your eyes just so until you just see it the right way, and then the hidden image is revealed. The real secret image is hidden in the jumble of details, and it can be hard to see, but once you see it can’t be unseen. Some people just don’t see or don’t want to see. But the ones who see it are flailing around and pointing to the picture going “I can’t believe you dont see! It’s right there!”

  • Ozymandias

    From today’s letter re: SGM Polity Committee and Process:

    2. With help and input from Sovereign Grace pastors, to write a Book of Church Order detailing how the SGM Board and Leadership Team should order themselves, what polity particulars should characterize local churches as members of SGM, and how SGM and local churches should relate to each other. This Book of Church Order will be presented to the SGM Board of Directors and, with their approval, to all SGM pastors.

    As I wondered (and feared), this sounds very much like there’s going to be a required “polity test” to be a SGM church.

  • I haven’t read or commented in a long time but I think it’s time — It’s time to move on. Yes, it could be the most screwed up situation ever (all of this) but is it really worth it? The time that you are invested in attempting to make reconciliation? Clearly, you are not going to get there this side of heaven! Give it up, move on and do something productive!!!! I’m not saying that this blog hasn’t been productive and I’m not talking to the authors of this blog necessarily, just everyone involved. You have proved your point. Long and hard. And I’m not against you! This blog actually helped to lead us to move on from the Sovereign Grace movement. I just say it’s time. It’s tiring. It’s old. Forgive and forget — if you can, even…but move on at the very least!

  • Lee

    The problem is that no one wants to communicate with Brent because he doesn’t keep things confidential. I can’t say as I blame them.

    It’s very difficult to get the civil courts involved in religous matters.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Epaphrus #137:
    Get aclue. Brent has tried over and over again to open a dialogue with the “Evil Empire” to no avail. He tried the same thing with the sham recomciliation group with the same results. It has become quite obvious that he’s going to get nowhere in that area.

    It seems obvious to me that the only avenue he has left to him is the courts. Quite personally I believe it’s going to take court action to wake the SGM folk up, if that ever does happen. When they see a mega-buck lawsuit staring them in the face, they just might trip all over themselves to effect restitution and reconciliation with Brent. That could trickle down to all the offended and abused just to forestall any other similar lawsuits. Then again, they could just stand their ground nomatter what rather than admit any wrong. Arrogance is like that.

  • Wizer

    Hello fellow “post-its” out there,
    For those you’ve had a chance to digest the polity committee’s latest letter that went up today over at SGM Refuge, I have this response to it:

    Alot of this has CJ’s name written all over it. He is the first name listed on the polity committee and you can be sure he is given preferential consideration over the formulation of the questions and the direction things are headed. For instance there’s this among their questions up for consideration in the coming months:

    “Should former members be able to bring an accusation?” Notice it DOESN’T say, “CAN former members bring an accusation?” Wording is everything. This question has Brent Detweiler written all over it. They want to be SURE that mess NEVER happens again.

    “Is SGM (a) a constituent organ of the Sovereign Grace church(es), (b) a subservient agent under the authority of the Sovereign Grace church(es), (c) an independent parachurch ministry, or (d) something else?” It just boggles the imagination that after 30 years they are asking themselves these types of questions and it answers for my husband and I, at least, why so often during our time within an SGM church, we often felt that changes happened willy-nilly, decisions made on the fly, like they really didn’t have a compass with which to guide themselves.

    “To what extent can churches permissibly delegate (contractually or otherwise) ecclesiastical authority and/or mission activity to outside agents and organizations?” This is the, ‘Should we ever have to resort to hiring an outside entity like AoR, etc. again?’ question. I think the answer will likely be, “let’s just handle this ourselves.”

    SO much can be gleaned about the direction they are heading in the way they word the questions. A very interesting read but sad in that I seriously doubt much with change.

  • Fried Fish

    Not sure how I got two winks in there.

  • Fried Fish

    :Wink: Per the Supreme Court in Unassim’s link:

    “The purpose of the exception is not to safeguard a church’s decision to fire a minister only when it is made for a religious reason. The exception instead ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful – a matter ‘strictly ecclesiastical,’ is the church’s alone.”

    Per Mathew Staver in the same article:

    “It makes no sense to tie the hands of a church when the messenger is undermining the message.”

    Now, in the case of SGM, what message was Brent trying to undermine? The one about positions of power having unlimited privilege, or the one where truth doesn’t matter?

  • Somewhereintime

    And we wonder why the AOR report was biased against the abused bloggers … (from Brents latest post)

    “Some parts of the AoR report are good.  Some parts are bad.  Many critical parts that should have been included are entirely missing.  That is unacceptable.  A $400,000 study over nine months should have covered all the evidence.  The report is biased and largely focused on the wrong issues.”

    Silly us! We should have taken up a collection and given it to AOR! Maybe that would have put a greater focus on the SINNERS … Not the SINNED AGAINST!

  • Unassimilated

    “so why not wrongful termination and related character defamation?”

    Simply stated;

    Washington DC – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided that under the First Amendment churches are entitled to a “ministerial exception” and thus dismissed a wrongful termination suit against the church. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. EEOC, the Court recognizes that the ministerial exception applies beyond the head of a religious congregation to others, such as the teacher in this case, who are viewed as ministers or those carrying the message of the Church.

    More reading here –

    Brent should know this, as hiding behind these sorts of protections, precedents, and decisions has been the SGM way for many years. ‘Clergy’ and Churches enjoy many exceptions and exemptions that are second only to claiming Diplomatic immunity.

    Other fun reads –

  • Epaphras

    @5years – how do you know your discernment about Brent is correct? Is it sheerly on the basis that he will bring a civil suit, if he feels it to be legitimate? In that case, it seems your objection has to do with bringing a cult (let’s say) to justice as being more-or-less useless and not to God’s glory. If so, could you edify me biblically … you could well be right, but I can’t think of any illustrations. And I can think of a number of cults around us where people would have been saved from involvement with them if someone had taken them to court, as they should have …. btw, sexual abuse cases should surely be brought to court if justified, so why not wrongful termination and related character defamation?

    Brent is quite correct that, biblically, God has given no warrant for His people to break the civil laws of governments instituted by Him and laws to which they agreed (e.g., the laws were not unChristian/unbiblical). To the contrary, if Christian organizations act unlawfully and are not called to account, how can they/we maintain any credible witness to the world?

    To my mind, the biblical question is not whether Brent is harboring something, because that takes a supernatural gift to perceive (I am not belittling that, just being descriptive). The question is whether he has done everything he could, and still is, to be reconciled short of appealing to civil courts.

    It seems to me that Brent has and is being faithful in that regard. That Brent is remarkably anal, detailed and tenacious is a fact, but not a sin last time I looked … and, in any case, falls into that same ‘discernment’ category which is authentic but apples-and-oranges to pursuing righteousness and justice biblically. Justice is, after all, a New as well as Old Testament mandate and God gives civil government a role to play in securing that which churches are not free to ignore as though they are spiritually superior to ‘secular’ government …. but as someone familiar with Reformed teaching, you know that, I’m sure.

  • Defender

    Stunned,I hear I’m good at making people cry….
    I just remember you as the most Lovely woman who came to visit us and I am Blessed and Honored to have you as my Sister!!

    AND His pockets will be lined with tissues, for you I’m sure. (But you won’t be crying for long.)

    Speaking of making people cry..

    Why? What is wrong with you?

    Why on earth do you want to be reconciled to unrepentant hypocrites and liars? Why?

    It hit me funny and I laughed till I cried.
    It’s close to the wording I used in my AoR report as to why I have no interest in reconciliation with SGM.

    I hope that if Brent is doing this, it is because he is following directions from God.

    We’ll see.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    To Brent Detwiler:

    I want to be reconciled to C.J., Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, Mickey Connolly, Gene Emerson, et al., but…

    Why? What is wrong with you?

    Why on earth do you want to be reconciled to unrepentant hypocrites and liars? Why?

    Why can you not see that God has delivered you from SGM, opened your eyes, and set your feet on a new and different path. Why can’t you give yourself 100% in whatever local church you go to and forget all this? Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? The Corinthians 6 verses DO apply, you are wrong. They apply precisely to this. You have a family, do you really want to dump tens or even hundreds of thousands into a lawsuit?

    Brent, I beg you to seek help from a professional counselor. I am sure it must be awful to be treated this way and then on top of it have AoR toss all the victims aside and dismiss your careful and accurate records. It must hurt, it must be agonizing, but you need to LET IT GO. No, you are not helping people in SGM by this, they do not want to hear the truth and if you win the case they still won’t believe it. You (we) are the evil one(s) and SGM leaders are men of God, you can’t change that.

    We appreciate all you have done, but time to move on. Let them go on in their game, same as every cult in history goes on. Get back to Jesus, the bible, maybe volunteer in some local outreach. You are a smart guy, teach at a school. Brother, the grief must be awful, but this is not the answer. You are still addicted to these men, even after all this time you cannot break free. Brother, I will beg God to deliver you.

  • Stunned


    You know how to make a person tear up. That is exactly where I want to be- as close to His heart as possible.

    (So, in other words, look for God’s pocket to be wet as I cry a lot. What a job He’ll have “wiping away every tear”. Think they’ll have Bounty Heavy Duty in heaven?)

  • Lee

    Regarding Brent’s latest post–how do you have a church court when there isn’t any polity that would govern one?

  • Bridget

    Lee –

    Thanks for that suggesion. I’ll check it out.

  • Wizer

    Heads up everyone, Brent Detweiler just posted around 3:45 EST and is considering civil action. I suspected this after the report came out.

  • Defender

    Stunned, that will be easy to find.
    Just find the closest place to His heart, and there you’ll be.

  • Wizer

    Beautiful Lies,
    I had the same thought as you: that Jared (and others have also expressed this here) will likely become the new Josh and I could easily see him relocating because this is done all the time within SGM. Didn’t his topic for next month at NEXT seem a little strange? The church is supposed to protect us? Really? I thought that was the Lord’s job. It just keeps getting more bizarre sounding the more I distance myself from it all.

  • Stunned

    Defender, I’ll be there!

    PS. If I have things my way, you’ll be able to find me at this address when we’re up there:

    In His Pen Pocket

  • Persona

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned the message given by Don Devries, at CLC, two weeks ago. The sermon topic he was given to preach about was grumbling, and how the Israelites displeased God by grumbling in the desert. Of course, he likened it to grumbling in present-day circumstances of life.

    To me, it appeared to be a passive-aggressive warning from the pastors, telling members to stop offering their opinions about reform in the church. Why else would this message be given at this time and in this context?

    In it, Don contrasts grumbling with faith. I wonder if he doesn’t actually mean to tell the congregation to have faith in their pastors more than faith in God or, are both still the same thing in their world? It made me curious to know if CLC pastors still believe they “speak in the stead of God?”

    I also wonder how one would go about finding out the answer to that question? Perhaps someone could slip some truth serum into the coffee at one of the Coffee Times with the pastors and ask them?

    I would have to say, the inability to get real answers to real questions is one of the most frustrating aspects of SGM and her related people and churches.

  • Defender

    Stunned, this is your “official” invite to drop in and visit me at the “Thousand Hills Ranch”.
    We’ll catch up and fellowship the Goodness of God. (Amidst all the cattle.)


  • Stunned

    Defender, thanks for the lovely encouragement. I’m looking forward to hanging out with you in heaven!

  • Bridget

    exCLCer –

    I agree! – But I’m not holding all Christendom to that analogy Though, at the moment, it fits many SGM leaders.

  • ATC

    JeffB at 118 , Great comment.


    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • exCLCer

    5years #107 said

    …some of what goes on in churches like buying lottery tickets, and the capacity of humans for delusional hope. People with no money wasting countless dollars on that chance to win mega millions, even though they have less statistical chance than one grain of sand on the seashore as far as the eye can see. Maybe their abusive pastor or drunken husband will be the one that suddenly repents and changes and treats them wonderfully well.

    – good analogy. I dunno, I am thinking I probably have a better chance of winning the mega millions than to see that “repenting” thing happening …..and I didnt even buy a ticket.

  • Defender

    Stunned #116:
    I don’t think we can think about Heaven enough in this life.

    There is, I believe, a kind of healing and inoculation so to speak, against false teaching when we fix our affections on Jesus and what He has (and is) preparing for us.

    It’s like that song by Chris Rice “Deep Enough to Dream”

    I LOVE to dream like that.
    We WILL be there soon!

    Oh! Come Lord Jesus!

    Come Quickly!

  • Izze

    Phoenix- One example:
    I believe making caregroup a mandatory occasion for members proves a distrust in God. The excuse used is “If we don’t make CG mandatory how will new members get hooked in with relationships?” or “How will we be able to keep track of existing members?”. My answer is simple. That’s not the Pastor’s responsibility. It seems that more often than not their answers start with “if we don’t..” rather than “God Will!”

  • Oswald

    Bridget #109 — I’ve been feeling this way about church for quite a while, too. The building seems like a waste of money that could be better used.
    On another note, Harold Camping says the ‘church age’ is over and people should not participate. Now, everyone will think the opposite. Sad to say, we tend to judge comments by who makes them, rather than what the content is.

  • JeffB

    This irony may have already been mentioned –

    In an indirect way, AOR has demonstrated the existence and effect of abuse in their reaction to the blogs. I’m assuming for the moment that there were occasional, inevitable, inaccuracies in the blogs. Look at how upset they got. Look at how unfair they thought it was. And this was for a relatively short period of time.

    How would they have felt if this type of thing, but much worse, and always intentional, happened to them over years? They might even shake with anger and raise their fists.

    If they had the ability to step back a little and observe their own behavior, they would have shown more understanding in their report for those who suffered, and saved their harshness for SGM, not the blogs.

  • Phoenix

    Re Izze #108,

    You used two phrases that really resonated with me, “distrust in God” and “unbelief.” I hadn’t really noticed before how often I’ve been struck by the unbelief implicit in some SGM actions and practices. This was true when I was part of it for twelve years (towards the end, especially) when it was PDI. It has been especially true as so much has come to light.

    So I’d like to ask others what specific actions/practices have seemed to indicate unbelief/distrust in God. For me a primary one was the excessive concern with litigation/legal entanglement. I had personal experience with this during Noel’s story.

    In general, I think that doing the simple right thing should not be hedged about with so many catch-phrases, caveats,cautions….”gospel implications.” The Gospel cannot be harmed by doing right.

    I think of the rich, young ruler…(and a LOT of other parables.)

  • Stunned

    WiseAsSerpents, your post #88 was beautiful! Thank you for having the courage to share it with us and the courage to share it with AoR. God saw your courage and will remember it forever. Can’t wait to see you enjoy the fruits of your courage in eternity! (Sorry, I probably think about heaven way too much some days. But, it’s just going to be so kick butt awesome, how can I not!)

  • Lee

    Kris @98,

    I wonder if it is like a set of scales. The T4G see the good, and are told not to believe the bad. Each time they see someting a little bad it goes on the bad side of the scale, but the good side is still outweighing the bad. It isn’t till they see something major in their eyes (like embezzlement or adultery) that they’ll mentally allow much weight to be thrown in the bad side. All the “little” things they are hearing are not adding up in their minds and causing more weight to go on the bad side.

    Until they are confronted with major irrefutable issues they will not allow the bad to outweigh the good.

  • Moniker

    A year or two ago at the SGM church of I am a former member, the pastors stopped dictating the curriculum for care group meetings (which were almost always book studies) and encouraged the leaders to do Bible studies or whatever else they felt led to do. Definitely a step in the right direction. Funny thing, though, was that they made up Bible study documents that the CGL’s could pick from, complete with discussion questions and suggested answers.

  • Lee


    Have you read “Radical” by David Platt? I think you’ll like what he has to say based on your comments above.

    A VERY thought provoking book on how we do church and what should Christianity look like.

  • Izze

    Rorschach- Agreed. There have been many well thought out comments on this blog in particular about how SGM is far from following Reformed doctrine/traditions.

    Kris/Guy- It’s been almost two business days since you posted the conversation publicly. Any word from AoR or Ted specifically?

  • Rorschach


    Very acute thought. It’s kind of why I look at the paradoxical implementation that SGM has set up – Calvinist in statement, but effectively Arminian in how they view the sheeple need to be kept from ruining themselves.

  • Bridget

    QE2 –

    It’s as if Jesus new the power of the Holy Spirit would be at work in people — fancy that!

  • Bridget

    Kris @98

    I think the “WHY” has to do with the whole structure and functioning of most institutional churches as we see them today. I think there is great fear among leaders from one denomoniation to the next (and among “family of churches”) that people are walking out of church doors and not wanting to support “church” as we know it today. I’m pretty much there myself. I’d much rather gather in a living room with people and open my Bible than go sit and listen to a sermon. I’d rather give money to a good organiztion that is feeding the poor and providing medical care to the needy than pay a mortgage and utility bills for a church building. For the most part church has become a business and it does not look like the church that Jesus was building. I think this puts fear in every organization and MAN that has built itself around “churches.”

    If the folks at AoR can’t spiritually see (I’m not saything they don’)the wreck at SGM then they have no business in the business. Here’s a thought — maybe they do see it, have no clue how to deal with it, are very glad they are finished and just want to walk away.

  • Izze

    Kris & Rorschach- The whole bible study conundrum speaks deeply about SGM’s mistrust in God and shows what they believe about pastoral authority. They seem to believe it’s entirely up to them to make sure the sheeple are well rounded theologically. Almost like people are barely saved if their doctrine isn’t in line. As if we do not possess the Holy Spirit at all. This is one example of a blatant display of unbelief in God.
    I cannot speak for other churches, but it seems even CLC still has not fully grasped their error in pastoral authority. I hear apologies from leadership (rightly so) but I haven’t heard specifically that they see pastoral authority differently now and that the way they viewed things in the past were wrong, arrogant and hurtful to many. They misused their authority by keep people quiet, and ashamed by the questions people had. If anyone else seems to see a different trajectory in their beliefs about pastoral authority I would be happy to be corrected…

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Kris- you are an excellent thinker. AoR lost something valuable and important in refusing to communicate with you.

    Having said that, I think your questions can be easily answered by looking at SGM as a charming sociopathic guy who seduces women and ends up beating them up regularly, until maybe they finally leave after they need X Rays at the hospital. But all their friends and family think the guy is sooo wonderful and don’t really believe the girl when she tells them how bad he is in secret. I’ve seen this syndrome more than once in real life. It is easy to see how women get sucked into relationship with such an outwardly fantastic man, less easy to see why they stay when the abuse starts.

    There are countless books out there on battered wife syndrome that describe the inner workings of the victims, and the enablers. The oppressed have all kinds of shame and inferiority no sense of worth, and probably were mistreated as children.

    The enablers have their own set of selfish motivations. Usually they know they won’t be believed and will lose relationships over this. Better to be quiet and let the wife be battered.

    I think AoR must not understand sociopathy. They admitted to being weak on handling sex abuse situations. Anybody else would have recognized the syndrome instantly.

    This also might sound strange, but I see some of what goes on in churches like buying lottery tickets, and the capacity of humans for delusional hope. People with no money wasting countless dollars on that chance to win mega millions, even though they have less statistical chance than one grain of sand on the seashore as far as the eye can see. Maybe their abusive pastor or drunken husband will be the one that suddenly repents and changes and treats them wonderfully well. You can live a long time with unrealistic fantasy. The ability of humans to hope is both an incredibly marvelous and good thing, as well as a dangerous and fallen ability sometimes.

  • Rorschach –

    I, too, know that the “We don’t support small-group Bible studies” sentiment must be true for at least a segment of SGM churches. Way too many people have shared observations over the years about how there were no Bible studies at their SGM churches…and how, when they asked questions and/or tried to get something started, they were discouraged or forbidden.

    There are some exceptions. But even in the case of the exceptions, I think it remains true that Bible studies will be tightly controlled by leadership, most often led by pastors or their wives (in the case of women’s Bible studies) or by people with very close connections to the pastors. The kind of Bible studies done in “normal” churches do not happen much in SGM churches…and this is by design, done deliberately.

    MANY people have shared about wanting to deviate from the decreed book they were supposed to study in their care group, and just study a book of the Bible instead – and they were told “No.” In the rare cases where it did eventually happen, the care group leaders had to do battle for it – for the exceptional privilege of getting to study the Bible, rather than some SGM-approved book or the pastor’s most recent sermon.

    SGM defenders will argue about this. But if you go to all SGM church websites and survey the church calendars and what’s available, you’ll see that by and large, SGM churches do not do Bible studies the way that “normal” churches do them. Yes, there are exceptions. But they are exceptions. Since SGM does nothing that is not deliberate, the general policy against small-group Bible studies becomes pretty obvious.

  • Whirlwind,

    I think what you imagine is probably quite accurate. SGM leaders were eager to talk about their sin and are well-trained in displaying a properly “humble” demeanor.

    But wouldn’t someone with even a shred of discernment consider the fact that SGM leaders had every motivation to behave in ways that would impress AoR with their (perceived) godliness and humility? While those who had been hurt by SGM would not have such motivations and would instead be more prone to lay it all on the line and display anger and frustration?

    You can practically hear AoR’s breathless admiration for SGM throughout the report. This, coupled with their clear disdain and personal irritation over “the blogs” and SGM’s critics, makes it clear that AoR was far from being a detached and impartially fair outside organization doing a legitimate investigation – which is how the report has always been portrayed. Considering their obvious bias, and their apparently naïve embrace of however SGM’s leaders presented themselves, AoR’s evaluation of SGM and SGM’s critics is essentially meaningless.

  • Rorschach


    I know for a fact it’s true. Not sure if they have ever put it in writing for dissemination (probably wouldn’t ever do that), but yes – I’ve heard this sentiment/ideal escape physical lips of SGM leadership.

  • Stunned

    ATC, keep it on the dl. I’m trying to develop my bad boy persona. (So far I have some SGM pastors and Brent convinced. ;) ) Thanks for your kind encouragement. It’s one of those days that I can use it!

  • QE2

    Kris, your email sparked a few more thoughts.

    Why do people care so much about the nuanced sins of the person sitting next to them on Sunday, to the point where they continually rebuke and sin sniff each other, but ignore or minimize major sin of the movement’s leaders? And both the focus on sin of others near you and the ignoring of sin above you is
    supposed to be “biblical”?

    I ponder the life of Jesus. He didn’t seem to spend 3 years having the twelve focus on sins like “the fear of man”, or “pride” while “believing the best” of the religious leaders. They didn’t sit around at night confessing sin.

    While Jesus did give direct teaching-do this, don’t do that, he also spent a lot of time telling parables, which, by the way, required critical thinking skills to figure out. It was almost like he wanted people to continually monitor themselves, not for sin, but for a sense of “Am I missing the entire point here? Is the Kingdom of God really what the religious system portrays it to be?”

    So many on here say that they come to a place where they realize that they wasted years in the SGM system, thinking they had it figured out, only to discover that they missed the whole point!

  • Defender

    If we walk by FAITH and not by sight, and Jesus tells us that there are only two masters, God and mammon, why are these men of supposed great faith and even greater humility making such a great decision based on money? (Cost of living?)

    Scratch that question. All the church plants were placed based on the wealth of the community they were poaching, er, planting.

    In my personal experience, God asks us to do things that sometimes makes no financial sense, and He provides and blesses us in the endeavor.

    This organization has no eternal purpose or future in mind. It’s all about power and money (read that mammon.)

    Just my 2 cents, as I drink my coffee this morning….

  • WiseAsSerpentsMeekAsDoves

    Kris: Your #98 made me think about the “Why” question. Could it be that AoR folks were given the kool-aid to drink? If so, then we can understand that they are under a spell (along with the rest of the “movement”) and can simply intercede that when the scales fall off their eyes, they will be warmly welcomed to this site.

  • Disillusioned

    It seems to me that SGM corporate has historically been able to define reality for those under them, and that the pastors then define that reality for the congregations. When alternate information is controlled, limited, or out-of-bounds, there is only one set of data to work with. You may have questions or suspicions, but when you add the culturally-instilled value of the necessity of trusting your leadership and not asking questions you get what we have – reality being defined for the masses. As long as it sounds reasonable and comes down from above it must be true. Clever system, if you can get it in place…

  • Rorschach said,

    Do folks know they (SGM) were recently trying to quell bible studies? And don’t agree with women’s bible studies?

    So, OK – if this sort of thing is even remotely true (and I think we can say it’s true for at least a few SGM churches) – it ought to raise huge red flags for “normal” Christians. Right?

    And yet somehow, at least in the Reformed blogosphere, it does not. Why is that?

    I think it goes back, once again, to the mysterious reality that those in T4G-promoting circles are dead set on putting everything about SGM in the best possible light. So if SGM says, “Well, that’s only a few misguided churches, we’re not responsible for that,” or even if SGM admits, “Sure we’re not big fans of the small-group Bible study,” this is accepted at face value and interpreted in the most positive way. The T4G folks automatically go, “Yeah, we understand, we’ve seen the flakiness that can happen when uninformed people are all, ‘This verse speaks to me!’ and then fall into theological error.”

    Somehow, they don’t stop and go, “Wait a minute – what if they don’t like small-group Bible studies because such groups threaten their unhealthy love of control?”

    Again, WHY do these people all so desperately want to believe in SGM and put the most positive spin possible upon everything SGM does? WHY?

    I know the easy answer is that they choose to be blind, choose to ignore the issues.

    But again – WHY?

    What is driving that desire to not see?

  • Whirlwind

    @Kris #91:

    Just because one group communicates in a way that AoR likes more and deems more in line with what the Bible says, AoR sees everything that group says as above reproach. Yet obviously the “more biblical” group has far more motivation to suck up to AoR and try to impress AoR with their “biblical” behavior, while there’s little in it for critics beyond a desire to have the world see the truth.

    Your comment got me to thinking about what AoR experienced when meeting with SGM victims and SGM leaders. They shared in their report what they saw from the victims which included some anger and hostility toward SGM. What do we think they saw from SGM leaders? I think they probably saw a lot of agreement, confession to wrong-doing, and probably tears – everything that would appear to be a “biblical” response to the victims’ stories. At that point, if you perceive SGM leaders are already being hard on themselves, wouldn’t that tend to make you lighten your stance in your report? I think about dealing with my children. If their stubborn in their sin, I become stronger in my statements toward them. If they’re in tears, I want to comfort them as they express sorrow for their sin. We’ve seen CJ’s tears. I’m sure they were flowing freely when he met with AoR.

    I’m reminded of a chat I had with a counselor once about the difference between violent abusers and their victims. The abuser can flare up in anger, dispense his abuse, settle down, and move on from the mess pretty quickly, frequently unaware that his victim still carries the abuse with them. The abuser can express sorrow and regret for his actions and not think anything more about it. In fact, he usually has a hard time understanding why the other party can’t forgive and move on just as quickly.

    I think SGM leaders have published the report from AoR and now they’re ready to move on – it’s all been wrapped up, everyone should be satisfied. It’s back to the business of ministry. Meanwhile the blogs continue to dwell on the same old hurts and mistakes from the past and won’t move on.

    I’d like to think someone at AoR at least tried to communicate this dynamic between abuser and victim works to SGM leaders, but the tone in their report makes it seem like they missed it themselves.

  • Rorschach

    Friendly Observer,

    Well said. It’s been counseled to be me before “believe the best, judge charitably, don’t stoke suspicion” – which sounds good. But the nuance goes beyond giving folks the benefit of a doubt and rather a veiled call for total and unquestioning allegiance.

    I wish there was a way for the churches across SGM to gather and voice their thoughts. I suspect the number that is in disagreement and/or very concerned is much greater than the 30-40 that are “ready to walk out the door.” Too bad the SGM leadership keeps them fragmented.

  • ATC

    Not at all, Stunned!

    And, as a long time reader, I know you’re one of the most loving and gracious people on here.. :In-Love:

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

    PS – Sorry about that smiley! Wow, they’re big…..

  • Friendly Observer

    Kris, you ask in #91 (somewhat rhetorically no doubt, but important questions):

    “The entire little corner of SGM-style Reformed Christianity needs to wake up and start asking themselves WHY they so badly want to unquestioningly accept everything SGM says about itself. Why? Why is it so difficult to consider the simple fact that if we’re really all sinners, leaders might be sinners, too? And might have every reason to work toward selfish self-preservation?

    “Why is that obvious concept so mind-boggling?

    “Why are SGM’s critics automatically suspect, while SGM’s leaders enjoy a level of namby-pamby automatic acceptance of everything they say about their organization?”

    I would suggest the answer to these questions (and many others just like these) is found in the famous quote:

    “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

  • Stunned


    I’d imagine that my SGM church would claim that shunning did not take place there, either. But it does in great big, ugly chunks. (I swear I am not trying to make this “disagree with ATC day”! I hope it doesn’t feel that way.)

  • Rorschach


    The questioner = untrustworthy isn’t relegated to the mongrelgation either. It happens in the higher tier as well. Not sure exactly how it came to be this way (with all the teaching of “suspect your heart and discernment”) … whenever I look at the problem it just looks so much like an effort to put papal authority in place. If you’re not in line with the SGM leaders you’re basically against God. Because they’ve got it right (they believe).

    Do folks know they (SGM) were recently trying to quell bible studies? And don’t agree with women’s bible studies? Since (they believe that studies would turn into) interpretation and teaching scripture should only be done by a male pastor. And the wayward laity could easily stray outside of SGM’s prescribed medicine (though they preach reformed/Calvinist ideals, a lot of their approach to the sin-ready person is pseudo-Arminian imo). Nevermind that every morning I sit down with MY bible I’m depending on the Holy Spirit in me to feed me through the Lord’s words.

  • In #87, QE2 said,

    Do they really think we believe them?

    Do they really believe themselves?

    I’ve often wondered about that. To me, so much of what SGM leaders say comes across like obvious lies, or – at best – self-serving spin. But somehow, enough people accept the untruths and swallow the spin whole. How does SGM manage to do that, to the point where even a group like AoR, who supposedly received unhappy reactions from 100 pastors and reportedly wept and empathized with victims, still went out of their way to write pages and pages affirming SGM for what they get right?

    I guess I don’t understand how anyone could hear the stories of spiritual abuse and manipulation by SGM leaders and turn around and still accept at face value what those same SGM leaders say about themselves. Wouldn’t it just be common sense, to assume that an organization that could generate such extraordinarily negative responses would then have every motivation to try to shade the truth and put the best possible spin on information to make themselves look better?

    As QE2 asked, how does SGM manage to continue to get people to believe them?

    I think it comes down to the reality that in the SGM-style Christian world, of which AoR is a part, virtue is attached to “believing the best” of SGM leaders – but no reciprocal virtue is attached to “believing the best” of SGM’s critics. People sense this and feel it and know it, so when SGM puts out these ridiculous statements – like the one about how they’re moving to Louisville because it’s cheaper – there’s almost no option but to accept what SGM says. To do otherwise would mean that one has aligned oneself with the critics…which is bad!

    In the SGM world, questioning leaders automatically implies that you’re saying something negative about them, casting doubt upon their motivations. And somehow, despite the fact that their theology says we’re ALL – including leaders – sinners, with a sinner’s bent toward selfish ambition and self-preservation above all, we must always “believe the best” about leaders, always assume that what they say is above reproach, above questioning.

    If one questions leaders and does not take what they say at face value, one is automatically assumed to be on the dark side. The whole “believe the best” thing is NOT extended to questioners. Questioners and critis are always in sin.

    That makes no sense, of course. Really, think about it. If we’re all sinners and we’re all daily battling against selfish self-promotion and self-preservation, then it’s pretty stupid for a group like AoR to so deliberately choose to “believe the best” of leaders, while automatically believing the worst of critics. Just because one group communicates in a way that AoR likes more and deems more in line with what the Bible says, AoR sees everything that group says as above reproach. Yet obviously the “more biblical” group has far more motivation to suck up to AoR and try to impress AoR with their “biblical” behavior, while there’s little in it for critics beyond a desire to have the world see the truth.

    The entire little corner of SGM-style Reformed Christianity needs to wake up and start asking themselves WHY they so badly want to unquestioningly accept everything SGM says about itself. Why? Why is it so difficult to consider the simple fact that if we’re really all sinners, leaders might be sinners, too? And might have every reason to work toward selfish self-preservation?

    Why is that obvious concept so mind-boggling?

    Why are SGM’s critics automatically suspect, while SGM’s leaders enjoy a level of namby-pamby automatic acceptance of everything they say about their organization?

  • ATC

    Stunned, 73 – Absolutely right.

    And, Dan, I too am glad at where you are on your journey. :)

    Btw: I had a phone conversation with Mr Bowley from Grace Church, Bristol. I’m sure he won’t mind me mentioning his name as what I have to say is encouraging.

    He assured me that Grace Church, Bristol did not practise shunning. (I’d mentioned it in the context of Sovereign Grace Ministries as a whole and was not referring particularly to Grace Church, Bristol).

    This is so encouraging.

    I know of churches where a culture is created whereby people who leave (for whatever reason) are most definitely shunned. The idea of continuing relationships with people who have left the church is not viable!

    I know of churches where shunning is actively taught. Perhaps not from the pulpit. But people are taken aside, friends of people who have left, and told not to associate with their friends who have left.

    I even know of churches where people have been warned that the ones who have left are ‘wolves’ (you know, as in ‘wolf among the flock’).

    It’s so encouraging that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in every SGM church.

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Two Feet Out

    Mom, your comment #78 made me cry. We left CLC last November, and I am all over the map w/ how I am doing after being in SGM for 12 years. Your description of how a parent comforts and cares for an injured child brought home to me that it is a process, a peeling back of layers, to work out the subtle lies we believed. I am a mom (w/ two little boys who OFTEN get bumps and bruises!) and I am learning to see how tenderly God deals w/ us. Not a day goes by that I don’t think “I’m so glad we left.”

    Wizer, welcome. Yes, get back to Christianity 101. You don’t need a leader/pastor to tell you what to think about your Bible if you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

  • WiseAsSerpentsMeekAsDoves

    Wow. All I can say is that, having just perused the AoR report and BD’s responses here, I am (gonna use a “report” word here)… SHOCKED. I had met with Ted for my “interview” and came away hopeful. He expressed an understanding of how folks who are continually told how wretched they are without immediately backing it up with the hope of the gospel can tend toward despair and depression, and it appeared he had truly listened to folks, and “heard” what they had to say. Flash forward to the report, where more time is spent expressing outrage about the unusual backlash they received than validating the few who had the courage to re-enter the headquarters of the system under which they experienced cruel and unusual sufferings. The bizarre manor in which these folks were perceived is incredulous. Instead of concluding that this must be a tip of the iceberg, instead of “it only represented an infinitessimally small, non-representative faction of folks”, how about “we can only imagine what scores of others must have experienced; so great is the depth of suffering that there must be something that needs further exploration”.

    I found the “blogs” by accident. I had originally thought that I was sinful and had guilt for having so many unresolved issues. I thought I was morally on the right track, to my glory, to overlook a multitude of sins. I didn’t know that sweeping the hurt and abuse under the rug was going to come back and bite me. I did not, in any way during my interview, express a single bitter thought. At the time, I remember feeling courageous because I could forgive as I have been forgiven, which means the gospel must be true. Little did I know that yes, there is a Holy Spirit, and He does enable us to do this. But this would be like not reporting a crime. Those committing the crime are free to go and do likewise to others. I haven’t figured out how to warn the city of Louisville. I can only pray that God will have mercy on folks there. I wish that someone could have warned me many, many years ago. But would I have listened? I think not. Such is the level of deception that I was under. Wolf in sheep’s clothing sort of thing. I didn’t want to see the tail sticking out of the robe, didn’t want to perceive the “big teeth”. Granted, I don’t think I should have “hoped for the best” with the AoR report, and although I do not believe that BD has necessarily approached things well by seemingly bullying folks with deadlines and ultimatums, there is voracity in the content of what he has been sharing. If only the facts could have stood alone. AoR and SGM have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. They didn’t like the attitudes of those who shared, so it was all discounted as rubbish. I WASMAD; now I am sad.

  • QE2

    Because of the lack of “promotional information”, people have not “been motivated to register for NEXT”, so they extended early bird registration and are giving away 5 free registrations.

    And they are moving to Louisville because it’s cheaper.

    And blackmail is a garden variety, non-disqualifying sin.

    And over 60 pastors publically disagreed with the process for filling the new board, but the “affirmation” process was successful.

    And over 104 former pastors have been (use your own verb here)by SGM, but an independent organization says these people are bitter gossipers and SGM only needs to make a few adjustments to remain awesome.

    And CJ is humble.

    Do they really think we believe them?
    Do they really believe themselves?

  • Beautiful Lies

    Also, seeing Jared’s name on the list of speakers makes me wonder if he is on the list to move to Kentucky. Just a fleeting thought, but if I were a betting person, I’d say it will happen eventually. When CJ introduced him once, he said “the kid’s got it!”

  • Beautiful Lies


    Ian McConnell is actually a very gifted speaker, and because his church was adopted, he doesn’t seem to totally fit into the SGM mold, which I think is a good thing for the board. He’s his own person. I wouldn’t be too harsh on his topic. He’ll probably bring a non-Stepford perspective.

  • Unassimilated

    “A Little Taste of Heaven on Earth”

    Now that has got to be the most ridiculous thing I have heard in years. If heaven bears any resemblance to an SGM church, or any human experience,
    we are all in trouble. I have other words for that sort of an eternity.

  • JeffB

    Sorry to get off the subject, but Justin Taylor’s blog has the line-up for the upcoming NEXT Conference in Orlando next month. I think it speaks for itself.

    Kevin DeYoung, “The Church and Friendship: How Not to be a Stupid Friend” and “The Church and Holiness: Why Jesus Says We Need It and Why We Don’t Want To Talk About It”
    Matt Chandler, “The Church and Culture: Reaching Out Without Selling Out”
    C.J. Mahaney, “The Church and Disappointment: When Expectations Collide With Reality”
    Jeff Purswell, “The Church and the Purpose of God: The Eternal Significance of Your Local Church”
    Jared Mellinger, “The Church and Membership: Our Privilege and Protection”
    Ian McConnell, “The Church and Sunday: A Little Taste of Heaven on Earth”

    SGM is giving away 5 free registrations. You have to leave a comment saying why you want to go (one person is very excited to see and hear CJ). I left a comment: “I wouldn’t be caught dead there.” I don’t think I’ll be one of the 5 chosen.

  • Rorschach

    “We shared similar thoughts when my husband and I report the announcement about the move. It is SO blatantly OBVIOUS their reasons for leaving. You honestly couldn’t make up a more sordid tale of clerical power gone awry. If you would have told me back in July that SGM would move its headquarters and the PC to Louisville I would have said no way. It is all so much stranger than fiction.”

    For all the pretense and “fare thee well, my dear friends!” by SGM leadership there has definitely been a withdrawing, dropping (of relationships), shunning of those who disagree – yes even stark bitterness. This includes the wives. All those who think they stand unblemished have no idea that others see through the facade… that’s there’s a cloud of witnesses greater than they know who’ve seen how they act behind the curtains…contrary to what they’ve preached and held others to. Seen how they act and treat others who haven’t continued with total and unquestioning subjection. Seen how their closer/longer relationships and those under their care were dropped because they were no longer “convenient” or easy. And they still desperately want to keep the illusion that all is well and they’ve transitioned in the best way and it’s all good. To save the gospel. Or at least their credibility and jobs. They seem to forget that God will take care of advancing the gospel. It’s His. Not theirs.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    KWIM…interesting. Between you and Res Ipsa I do think we need to consider that this is a special report released for the public eye, but not the longer and most significant one.

    Wizer…welcome. Give yourself time to get over all of it…years even. The initial relief may give way to some anger, hurt, cynicism. Find some starving orphans to support, read a great book occasionally, be faithful in normal Christian disciplines. Don’t look at any of the years as wasted- it is never a waste and God will work it all for His purposes.

  • Persona

    KWIM 77

    I think the authenticity question should be follow-up immediately. Lies and cover-ups should not be tolerated.

    Perhaps the congregation can pull together their own panel to assess the legitimacy of the document? The CLC financial committee could put the investigation on their docket now that they have a breather from their initial assessment.

    If the AoR report has been molested in any way by SGM leaders, they should be immediately fired by the churches who financially support them. CJ should not be allowed to use their money to produce such outrageously biased reports and they certainly should not be committing cover-ups of any kind.

  • Whirlwind said:

    @Steve240 #7: Steve, I don’t think you’re doing this, but I wouldn’t lump Alexander Strauch in with SGM thinking. Though there are some common beliefs (e.g. male leadership in the church), I don’t think there’s any direct connection theologically. The church where Strauch serves/attends (according to is even intentional in not giving any of their pastors the title “senior pastor”.
    You might be able to take a chapter from his book and use it in a certain context to make a point against the blogs, but I wouldn’t blame the author for that.

    I wasn’t trying to lump them together.

    My point in my post was in response to Local Church Fan promoting the book and how a few SGM leaders used one chapter of this book to call criticism of leaders “slander.” I haven’t read the entire book and don’t know much if anything about the author. It just seemed like LCF posted the promotion of this book as a way to say don’t “gossip” and “slander” which means in SGM’s definition criticizing and questioning leadership.

    Whirlwind also said:

    Think about Strauch’s thoughts on elders, I recall the old SGM polity booklet mentioned that some SGM churches used to take a similar approach where there wasn’t a “senior” pastor, but Harvey mentions they changed that because it wasn’t working out and they thought things ran more smoothly if someone was identified as the elder who took charge and moved everything in one direction. (I’m paraphrasing from my memory of what’s in the polity book.)
    Anyone have any history on this? I wonder who decided things really worked better with a “senior” pastor. Hmm…

    The original thought at CLC (when it was called Gathering of Believers) was to not have a senior leader. The church would be run by a group of men of equals. They didn’t feel called to have one senior person in charge over the others. Eventually they moved away from this belief.

    I am sure their moving from this concept is one of the reasons for the group going the way it did, especially when you have someone like C.J. Mahaney who some call the group’s “pope.” It may have been choosing expediency at the loss of balance of power and checks/balances.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Wizer,it is heartbreaking to hear of the abuse both you and your niece suffered at the hands of ‘so called christians’. While we look towards and anticipate the coming Judgement Day, I imagine that Jesus is looking forward to it in a way similar to a woman who is 10.5 months pregnant! :Wink:
    I have been gone now from CLC for about 20 years (was part of CLC for about 15 years), yet I STILL find myself shedding ‘untruths’ from my time there, or dealing on a new level with something I thought was behind me. It is like God ‘cleans us up’ a little at a time-liken it to when a child may have a fairly serious fall: We immediately scoop the child up and offer hugs and kisses, while we look for obvious injury, then we may brush their hair back, or brush dust off of them as we carry them safely home. Once inside, we wash their tears, looking for more damage, remove their dirty and torn clothes-all the while looking for tell-tale swelling or bruising to indicate further attention, finally bathing them-starting with the face and hands, to soothe them, and cool them down-finally, once they have been hugs, and soothed, and washed, we will scrub the scraped knees really well, apply antibiotic ointment, and any necessary dressings..a full process, it is! So, I suppose that we should not be surprised when God deals with our Spiritual wounds a little at a time, as we are able to deal with them, you know?
    Anyway, thanks for your encouragement also! I can only imagine how pleased God is as He watches you and yoru hubby use the mind He gave to each of you, to critically think for yourselves, and to seek Him, not some man’s approval! :All-I-See-is-Love:

  • KWIM

    As I ponder the authenticity of the report I look back to other reports put out by SGM. The report from the independent panel really left no question as to its authenticity due to the many signatures, and a letter from Bryce Thomas. Oh and the scanned in quality of the report. I also have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that they reduced thousands of pages down to a mere 44? The independent report was/is 51. I shudder to think how many pages those men had to go through to reduce it down to 51. Ok Ok I know the reports were put out by different groups, but still Bryce had a part in both reports. You would also think it would be on AoR letterhead, right?
    Maybe we should go to SGM and request an hard copy of the report.
    Independent panel report

  • Wizer

    ExClcer’s Mom,
    You’re very sweet to give me that encouragement. It’s taken me months to post and the odd thing is I didn’t feel right about doing it until we’d finally made the decision to leave. I did feel like I was betraying my church in doing so. I mistook disagreement with betrayal. I guess I was more affected than I realize. I have followed your comments for awhile and if I’m not mistaken you had alot of pain to work through. I admire you deciding to share with us; I am sure you have found it to be helpful in recovery. I experienced spiritual abuse by my pastor when I was 18 years old and my niece was physically abused by my youth pastor. That is why this mess has hit me in deep places I thought I’d got over. God bless you and btw, that you use Mom in your name is just the best in my book.

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Wizer, I just wanted to let your know that I enjoyed reading both renditions-posts 48 & 49, as well as your contributions that have followed. :Wink: Welcome.

  • Wizer

    Thanks for the heads up. I guess I best get my helmet on. :) I have much to learn and I’m SURE if I stick around, I’ll be self-correcting very soon. Come to think of it, I already did when I double posted today!

  • Stunned

    ATC, to be honest, the people who contribute to this blog have been self correcting since it got started (Kris included). I’d like to be able to give AoR credit for this, but nothing new under the sun (or basement light fixture) here.

  • KAZ

    Wizer I must be the bearer of bad news but your going to have to get used to this kinda thing. Thanks for being graceful in explaining your statments to “CLC Member …for now”

  • Stunned

    $70 grand for 9 months of education? Ivy League schools don’t cost that much!!!!!! Please, someone tell me that that figure is inaccurate!

  • Wizer

    Beautiful Lies,

    You probably do know me and this has been a lonely time for me. Leaving a SGM church is very isolating. But Dee over at Wartburg Watch (thanks Dee) has been very encouraging and kind. There are few who understand or care to listen without you sounding like you’re G/S. Any critical thought or concern is automatically turned over to the pastors if you do pose a question to your comm. group leader. I would speak with you privately but I do not know how to contact you through a public forum like this. Maybe you may have a suggestion. And thanks for waking up and thinking for yourself. That’s healthy as long as heal and continue on in our walk with Him.

  • Wizer

    CLC Member,
    Thank you for your clarification. You said: “PC students have NOT been told to leave CLC. That is a rumor that has been spreading through our church and throughout SGM that just isn’t true. I was talking to a PC student last weekend, and they said that at least half of the class of 23 is still regularly attending CLC.

    You may have legit concerns for leaving, but I would be careful propogating information that isn’t factual in order to persuade others. I believe that is exactly what the AoR report was accusing this site and others of doing.”

    If you re-read what I said you will notice I never said that PC STUDENTS are being taken anywhere and I never said they were being told to leave CLC. Are you mixing my statement up with something else you read perhaps? Please check that. I simply said the PC is being relocated. And if you read the Board’s announcement, it is FACT that the college itself is moving to Louisville. I never thought that could be misread to include coercion of any kind. Of course, any man may choose whatever school he likes (it just better be the PC if he wants to be a SGM pastor). So what I said IS factual based upon the Board’s announcement.

    I understand your concern but I would kindly ask that you re-read what I said. And so you are aware, even though we are leaving our church doesn’t mean we hate it. We are deeply grieved at what we see and know and a number of things we read on this blog were confirmed by one of our pastors! We have repeatedly said how awful we feel for the people at CLC for what has happened, not the organization; rather the PEOPLE, like you.

  • Rorschach

    Regarding the authenticity of the report –

    The pdf file was obviously created by SGM in order to include the addendum at the end as one file. I’d like to see a secured and [electronically] signed copy of the report by AoR, from AoR. In order to prove its origination and integrity. If it was doctored, I think AoR would be interested in dispelling any misrepresentation. If it wasn’t doctored, it’d be in SGM’s best interest to at least produce a version that proves its authenticity.

  • Beautiful Lies


    I feel like we might know you (I matched your website quote with our former SGM church’s site). We recently left as well. Our friends have said the same thing “the pastors will take care of it” while sticking their heads in the sand. But it seems to be about half the church doing that. I’m with you – I’m all for critical thinking and asking questions. I feel like we were zombies for years and years who just woke up!

  • Res Ipsa

    Isn’t it possible that AOR produced two reports – one to be shown to the world and one for SGM to use internally? If so:

    – AOR would have met its contractual obligations with SGM
    – SGM would have fulfilled its agreement to make a report public
    – It would explain, to some extent, why AOR won’t respond to Brent and others
    – It would explain, to some extent, the discrepancy between how Eric, Jenn and others were treated and the language of the report we’ve seen
    – And it would explain, to a lesser extent, why the report we saw was focused so much on the blogs and not on the real issues.

  • intheNickoftime

    Since it is sooo much cheaper down there, I wonder if SGM will still charge $70K for future pastors to attend. The price should be a lot cheaper since the cost of things is so much cheaper down there.

    Will CJ’s salary also be reduced since he wont need so much money donw there?

    And a question…What is the standard $$ support given to a planting church? Is that a figure that is published by SGM? Will CJ get that or will SGM throw as much money as possible at this plant to make certain it works! And will they pay for two pastors to start the church? Too bad that former Fairfax SiL wont be done with school yet, he would be a great second fiddle for the CJ church plant.

  • SamMcGee

    @CLC member….for now #62

    I will let Wizer answer for herself but just real quick, I think she was saying that the PC was leaving CLC, which is true. The PC is moving to Louisville (with CJ and the rest of SGM) and the next class will begin in January of 2013.

  • CLC member....for now

    Sorry, accidentally hit send.

    PC students have NOT been told to leave CLC. That is a rumor that has been spreading through our church and throughout SGM that just isn’t true. I was talking to a PC student last weekend, and they said that at least half of the class of 23 is still regularly attending CLC.

    You may have legit concerns for leaving, but I would be careful propogating information that isn’t factual in order to persuade others. I believe that is exactly what the AoR report was accusing this site and others of doing.

  • intheNickoftime

    Happy mom quoted the AoR report:

    “Some raising their concerns alleged that SGM consistently handles such cases in irresponsible
    ways. While we did not complete detailed reviews of cases involving sexual misconduct, we
    were able to review documentation in some situations that demonstrated the SGM leadership
    understood the gravity of the situations. SGM leaders offered care and concern, they sought
    professional legal and counseling help for SGM and key leaders involved, and in some cases
    they helped connect parties to Christian mediators.”

    We know this is not true.

    Even the pastors in the Fairfax Church admit that they did not handle the situations well, did not offer appropriate care and certainly did not connect parties to health professionals.

    Yes, they called legal help but only to be certain THEY were protected. Yes, they called in mediators, but only because they screwed up the process in the first place.

    And the Fairfax Pastors have confessed this and repented! How can AoR say it didnt happen?

  • CLC member....for now


    Welcome to the site. However, I want to correct a false piece of information that you heard and sounds like are spreading. PC students have NOT

  • Oswald

    Dan #56 — It’s good to hear that things are better for you and your family. Praise God.

  • ATC

    Hey Dan, good to hear from you.

    Interesting points, my friend.. There’s been some typically insightful self-critique of these blogs from the bloggers themselves since the AoR report.

    We’re all on a journey and it ends in love!

    Got to go..

    Take care,

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

  • Somewhereintime

    Bridget …

    I now say “Yes, SGM ARE the worse sinners that I know!”

  • Bridget

    Wizer –

    SGM leaders claim to be “the worst sinners they know” (a term I dislike and don’t use) BUT they turn around and portray themselves on their blog in the “best light possible.” You can judge for yourself, but I have found that their actions rarely line up with their words.

  • Dan

    Hey ATC – #14,

    Always good to read your comments, I was interested to read about your “roundabout” contact with my former church leaders. I should note I am a daily/regular reader here and on “Refuge” – I just don’t comment as much as I used to.

    Back in February of this year I visited Grace Church Bristol with my parents (never an easy visit) but I had a very key conversation with the same church leader I imagine you are dealing with – and I think that face-face discussion cleared up years of mistrust, worry, doubt and fear for me.

    In a strange sense I “almost” agree with AoR and their comments on the blogs – BUT I think they’ve phrased it incredibly badly. Where I agree, is that I think the written word on blogs can be mis-understood, mis-represented but it’s permanent. So in one sense it is a powerful tool in the hands of a guy like Brent Detwiler – who preserves EVERYTHING. But blogs are a form of conversation. So I think you have to take blog comments in context (which is where I think many SGM leaders don’t get it).

    I could write a comment a few months ago on here, and it “captures” my emotional state at that time – i.e. maybe anger, rage, resentment against SGM. So S.G Leader reading it builds up a picture of me from that. But if he doesn’t read the comment I leave today (still angry, but more saddened, wishful and praying for repentance and change) then he will think I am just angry!

    Social networking through blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc are here to stay! Like it or not – SGM leader.

    So all I’d say, ATC from my perspective, is that I do agree – I think the SGM leader rather odd, ponderous way of contacting a party they are afraid of (via church leader or father – in my case) – but actually in person, they are genuine people and do (I think and hope) mean well. And it was a tremendous relief to get their reassurances that they NEVER would split me from my family, and indeed signed the “Letter” to the SGM Board expressing concern.

    THAT being said – although I have come to some measure of personal peace – I am still absolutely in agreement with Brent Detwiler’s concerns about the AoR report. It’s disappointing in the extreme, but I am sure C J and friends think it’s worth the thousands of SGM members dollars and pounds. But I too got a similar response from the AoR staff – they sound shocked, upset and worried. And then the report – all clear! Bizarre.

  • Wizer


    Why, you just made me smile :)

  • Defender

    I like your name. (Reflects all of us, once we came out into the light.)

    Enjoy the full spectrum light of the Son.

  • Wizer

    “SGM is again (as in many cases, including the Tomczaks) guilty of sins of omission in what they report on their blog as the reasons for moving all their ministries to Kentucky as well as laying people off or asking them to move.”

    We shared similar thoughts when my husband and I report the announcement about the move. It is SO blatantly OBVIOUS their reasons for leaving. You honestly couldn’t make up a more sordid tale of clerical power gone awry. If you would have told me back in July that SGM would move its headquarters and the PC to Louisville I would have said no way. It is all so much stranger than fiction.

  • Bridget

    Happymom –

    The intent of the connection does not appear to be for any kind of reconciliation at all. Jim at Refuge has posted SGM’s own words regarding the intent for hiring AoR. Have we seen SGM complete or attempting to complete their stated goals? I have not seen that nor heard of that happening.

    We have seen the exact opposite from CJ and SGM. CJ left CLC and has stated that he does not need the services of AoR in regards to his relationship with CLC (no reconciling?). Someone stated that during their interview with AoR, the representative told them that SGM leaders/pastors were not open to meeting with victims (no reconciling?).

    SGM has continued their top down leadership moves with little (and/or confusing) communication with their member churches, while all the time apologizing for their poor efforts, yet not changing. All of these “evidences” leads one to believe that SGM hired AoR to accommodate a specific outcome so that SGM, in turn, could continue as they please.

    SGM is again (as in many cases, including the Tomczaks) guilty of sins of omission in what they report on their blog as the reasons for moving all their ministries to Kentucky as well as laying people off or asking them to move.

    The AoR organization is either completely duped by the overriding belief system that says leaders do little wrong, they care not for righteousness, they find in favor of their employers because that is who pays them, or they are incompetent. Who views one party’s paperwork, if available, and doesn’t hear the other side of the story and then says everything seems on the up and up? The whole thing is bizarre.

  • Wizer

    Newbie alert #2! Sorry for the overlap in my posts! I thought my first post didn’t go through because I got a weird message so I reconstructed and wrote a 2nd one. Thanks, everyone, for your patience! Wizer but not technically so :(

  • Wizer

    Newbie alert! About to be former SGMer of 9+ years. So done. Just curious:

    Did AoR actually think Brent Detweiler would just disappear if there was little to no mention of him in their report? He is the consummate paper pitbull and his grip is a bit on the tenacious side. But, even if you don’t like him, now we can all see that bloggers (yes, these are REAL people, not witches/warlocks stirring up the hate brew) are put in the same category.

    I have read some real heartaches on here from real folks and rarely have I seen the hatred we’re accused of. In fact, I don’t ever remember seeing something that venomous.

    A few months ago our pastor from the pulpit (or was it the bully pit), warned against going to the blogs where divisive speech (G/S) abounded. Never once in all our years had we heard anything about the internet unless it was about porn (every pastor worth his salt MUST have one sermon in his arsenal on that). As we drove home that day, we agreed, “he’s seriously got to be kidding if he thinks we are not going to be critical thinkers and ask questions.” Ever since that sermon and this whole mess the layers have slowly been peeled back before our eyes and yes, I’ve shed tears over dear people we are leaving behind who actually are afraid to think for themselves and are content to “trust their pastors to do the right thing.”

    I spoke with a dear friend last night who has been there for 20+ years who rarely if ever goes to the internet because she lacks access and when I told her the truth about CJ leaving CLC and taking the PC with him, she had no idea, she was in shock. Guess I’m for sure a certifiable G/S now. I’m so shaking my head right now.

  • Wizer

    Newbie alert! Hubby and I are leaving our SGM church after more than 9 years and that’s why we’re WIZER (hope I haven’t stolen someone else’s moniker by mistake).

    Now I know why Brent was silent so much of April. He was a very busy guy indeed. Did AoRidiculousness actually think a pitbull like DB would not challenge their report publicly? Are they so arrogant as to think the bloggers (who, btw, are REAL people, not witches and warlocks) would not continue to hold them to account? Do they not see that if they do not address these hurting people and undo what they have done in a careless, bureacratic fashion, they likely may face a decrease in clients calling on them to be their very own Ambassadors of Ridicule? Oops! I forgot, they’re counting on SGM to rehire them in the near future.

    And on a different topic, for the ladies, look what I found under the Women’s Ministry portion of our church’s website (btw, we don’t really have a women’s ministry; we have 2-3 meetings a year where pastor’s wives speak but are moderated by one or more of the pastors; a man is ALWAYS in attendance). Here’s what it says:

    “Welcome to the portion of our website designed for women! Our desire is to be godly women who are pursuing Christ and following his direction for our lives. His gospel has saved us and his love has won us, and yet our foolish sinful natures fight against spiritual growth.”

    There’s that magic word “gospel” again which is used in every context possible and ladies, don’t forget your that very large sack on your back called your “foolish sinful nature.” I conjure up a picture of the Hunchback of Notredame and cringe.

    Hubby and I are actually looking foward to to putting all the nonsense behind us. When your pastor asks you where your loyalty lies with regard to CJ/DH, you know it lies with no man save Jesus Christ. Now, back to basics called Christianity 101. :Angel:

  • JeffB

    “All by himself he just does not have the talent and brilliance to dazzle the Reformed community. (he certainly never dazzled me and I’m no popular celebrity speaker.)”

    5years in PDI – I agree. Mahaney seems to me to be something of a court jester. This is anecdotal, but I heard that, when Mahaney was a guest speaker at another ministry’s conference, he was so embarrassing that they never asked him back.

    This is unfair, I know, but, while watching Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Richard III in the 1995 movie last night, I couldn’t help thinking of Mahaney. Not his court jester side, but his way of getting away with everything he does while the people in his circle, some of whom have been victimized by him, just stand and watch. Until the end, of course.

  • Happymom


    I understand your point, but after two years of dealing with SGM leaders, I do not see the disconnect between the SGM leaders and how they handled the families/victims. All of the abuse stories carry a similar thread of how each family was treated. (with counsel from G & G and SGM leaders)

    What would be the point of connecting SGM leaders to Christian mediators if not to mediate with offended parties?

  • Remnant

    RE Happymom #33: I interpret the quote from the AoR report:

    “Some raising their concerns alleged that SGM consistently handles such cases in irresponsibleways. While we did not complete detailed reviews of cases involving sexual misconduct, we were able to review documentation in some situations that demonstrated the SGM leadership understood the gravity of the situations. SGM leaders offered care and concern, they sought professional legal and counseling help for SGM and key leaders involved, and in some cases
    they helped connect parties to Christian mediators.”

    to mean that the SGM leaders offered care and concern to other SGM leaders and not to the victims or the family of victims. The leaders were offered counsel by SGM as to how to handle the people coming to them. SGM never reached out to the victims, just the leadership and offered the SGM leaders care and concern, offered the leaders professional legal and counseling help and they offered the leaders Christian mediation.

  • Stunned

    Whirlwind, I’d imagine it was a “senior” pastor. ;-)

  • Whirlwind

    @Steve240 #7: Steve, I don’t think you’re doing this, but I wouldn’t lump Alexander Strauch in with SGM thinking. Though there are some common beliefs (e.g. male leadership in the church), I don’t think there’s any direct connection theologically. The church where Strauch serves/attends (according to is even intentional in not giving any of their pastors the title “senior pastor”.

    You might be able to take a chapter from his book and use it in a certain context to make a point against the blogs, but I wouldn’t blame the author for that.

    Think about Strauch’s thoughts on elders, I recall the old SGM polity booklet mentioned that some SGM churches used to take a similar approach where there wasn’t a “senior” pastor, but Harvey mentions they changed that because it wasn’t working out and they thought things ran more smoothly if someone was identified as the elder who took charge and moved everything in one direction. (I’m paraphrasing from my memory of what’s in the polity book.)

    Anyone have any history on this? I wonder who decided things really worked better with a “senior” pastor. Hmm…

  • Happymom

    For the record, (and for those who continue to categorize us as bitter and unforgiving) we have forgiven those who hurt and offended us. You can have forgiveness and continue to keep the facts straight.

    It takes one person to forgive.
    It takes two to be reconciled.

  • Happymom

    And since AoR had our story and assured us that they read it, are WE one of those cases where “care and concern” was shown?

    Would that be before or after we had to have pastors subpoenaed into court?
    Would that be before or after pastors sided with our (and other) perps?
    Would that be before or after a pastor told us he never informed his wife not to discuss the details of the case with me, only to later discover that he did exactly that as per counsel from Gammon & Grange?
    Would that be before or after the infamous Fairfax Family meeting (July 2011) where they slandered us and twisted the facts?

    And if they are referring to the Christian mediator that Fairfax hired, after two meetings with him, totaling 9 hours, that mediator concluded that we were sinfully craving answers according to James 4.

  • oldtimer

    What I want to know is why anyone thought that the AOR report would change anything …or reveal the truth?

    Call me cynical and jaded but also realistic —and as 5 yrsinPDI wrote in #22 there are other forces(the dark side) at work here. Unless these men have a Damascus Rd experience then forget it. They are holding each other’s cloaks while stones are being cast. (remember Saul and Stephen?) Saul thought he was doing the Lord’s work by killing the believers….well, those who hear and follow the Holy Spirit’s Voice–let’s differentiate. And it is not only sgm, it’s in many churches.

    Exclcer’smom is right on about the corporate mindset of AOR dealing with customers. Same idea as good cop-bad cop when dealing with those arrested.

  • Brent certainly raises some good points. If AOR, especially Ted Kober, can’t themselves practice what they teach then one would wonder how credible their actions are including their review of SGM. It just makes you wonder.

  • RE the paragraph from the AoR report quoted by Happymom –

    If anyone is wondering why that report is not sitting well with many of us, it might be instructive to look closely at what AoR said about how SGM has handled sex abuse cases. Again, here is the AoR statement:

    Some raising their concerns alleged that SGM consistently handles such cases in irresponsible ways. While we did not complete detailed reviews of cases involving sexual misconduct, we were able to review documentation in some situations that demonstrated the SGM leadership understood the gravity of the situations. SGM leaders offered care and concern, they sought professional legal and counseling help for SGM and key leaders involved, and in some cases they helped connect parties to Christian mediators.

    First, AoR issues a disclaimer:

    While we did not complete detailed reviews of cases involving sexual misconduct…

    They basically say up front that they didn’t look at many or most of the situations that have come up over the years. Then they add,

    …we were able to review documentation in some situations that demonstrated the SGM leadership understood the gravity of the situations.

    AoR essentially affirms how SGM has handled abuse situations based upon “documentation in SOME situations.”


    Does it really mean anything at all, if SGM coughed up a few files that showed they got it right sometimes?

    And why would AoR be impressed by that?

    How little discernment (or common sense) do the authors of this report have, anyway, that they would find “documentation in SOME situations” meaningful?

    What sort of standard is that?

    If I’m a teacher and I have a student who can document that he SOMETIMES does his homework, what sort of grade does he get? Do I write statements to his parents that affirm what a good student he must be, based upon the fact that I saw SOME of his work?

    I have a relative who has, by all accounts, including his own, been financially irresponsible over the years. Yet he’s somehow managed to hang on to his house. Why? Because he admits that he always pays his mortgage, even if he lets other bills slide. So of course he could produce documentation that he is in good standing with the lending institution that holds the mortgage on his house. But would that have much meaning in terms of the overall picture of his credit?

    WHY would the AoR folks be impressed with documentation from “SOME situations”? When they admittedly did not look at much else? Why wouldn’t they simply state that they are not qualified to issue an opinion as to SGM’s general handling of such abuse cases over the years?

    It’s segments like this that make me wonder why anyone takes ANYTHING from the AoR report seriously at all. These guys sound like they swallowed whole whatever SGM gave them…like they believed whatever SGM told them…that the suspicion and the ill opinions they almost automatically had for SGM’s critics were completely suspended when it came to SGM.

  • Happymom


    I copied and pasted the AoR statement directly from their report. AoR should have read Noel’s Story, ExCLCer’s Story, Wallace’s Story, SGMnot’s story and Taylor’s Story to see precisely what kind of “care and concern” we all received.

  • Defended

    HappyMom #33 – is that a typo? Does it really say:
    “SGM leaders offered care and concern, they sought
    professional legal and counseling help for SGM and key leaders involved,…

    Does it really say that in the case of sexual misconduct, they sought counseling help for SGM leaders?


  • Rorschach

    All this mess? It shows the fruit of THEIR labor. Does that call into question the legitimacy in their leadership? This mess? THEY made it. The heavy handed leading, the lack of polity (for 30 years for pete’s sake. WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT). And meanwhile the inner circle gives one another glowing reviews on performance and fitness. That’s strange, isn’t it?

    And if the sinful mongrel-gation is in an uproar, aren’t we the very ones trained by them? That’s a clue, too.

  • A Kindred Spirit

    5years, I agree.

    I also think God has a “list” and that AoR is on that list. I don’t think it was a coincidence that SGM chose them for the job. I also think Al Mohler is on the “list”, along with others.

    I think we’re live witnesses to a “big moment” in church history. It gives me chills, actually.

  • Happymom


    “Some raising their concerns alleged that SGM consistently handles such cases in irresponsible
    ways. While we did not complete detailed reviews of cases involving sexual misconduct, we
    were able to review documentation in some situations that demonstrated the SGM leadership
    understood the gravity of the situations. SGM leaders offered care and concern, they sought
    professional legal and counseling help for SGM and key leaders involved, and in some cases
    they helped connect parties to Christian mediators.”

    How does that statement line up with what has been shared repeatedly on these blogs? Did AoR’s assessment come from SGM leaders or victims??

  • ExClcer'sMom

    Kris, my thoughts about the discrepancies between the initial counselors and the final report:
    For many years I was a server in a restaurant. Now, because I genuinely love people, therefore enjoyed my job, my managers would often ask me to pick up a table that was already dissatisfied with the service they had gotten up to that point. I would be given some authority to offer a free dessert, comp their check, etc, but mostly, my job was to smooze them, and make them forget their initial ‘bad experience’-to turn their night around. I would listen, I would care, I would empathize, and I would do my best to give them what they were initially lacking. My shift manager loved that I was there, because I definitely made his job easier. Probably the store manager was relieved as well, but as you go up the corporate ladder, the very top main offices would report that their restaurants all have a high level of customer satisfaction. If those ‘higher ups’ were asked to investigate the actions of one store, and interviewed the servers, the customers, the managers, they would still minimize the ‘effect’ to the dissatisfied customers. One would think a church would be handled differently, but SGM IS handled like a corporation, and I suppose A of R may be also. Unlike Jesus, large corporations on worry about the 99, not the 1 lost.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Just one more short remark and I’ll wuit for now.
    AOR and SGM are both after the blog folk for their “unjust comments, etc., etc,” ad nausium. Haven’t they ever read the parts of the Bible where God commends complainers against the unjust and abusive system? Perhaps they might consider looking over the 9th chapter of Exekiel. That’s a goody. Then there’s Jesus’ trip to the temple and his actions of turning over the tables of the money changers. How about John the Baptist and the Essenes who were so digusted with the corrupt temple system that they removed themselves completely and set up shop in the desert to get away from it. Then there’s all of Paul’s open criticisms of other upstart pastor/teachers with whom he had a bone to pick about their teachings which were in opposition to his own. There’s no indication that he went to them for reconcilliation or correction, but openly castigated them to several church congregations.

    All this desire and insistence on confidentiality by the professionals when they don’t always, if ever, adhere to that themselves smacks of hypocracy. Their dogged refusal to participate in any reconcilliation proceedings also smells to high heaven. They most certainly do not seem to be practitioners of the very own preaching. No surprise there.

  • B.R. Clifton

    Kris #28:
    Whatever the circumstances were or are, AOR was indeed disingenuous and dishonest with their report. That is, unless SGM committed the sin of tampering with the report and then publishing it as the genuine AOR article.
    As far as all the tears that everyone saw comin from the interviewers, Hasn’t anyone heard of “alligator tears” before. One of the experiences my wife and I had involving a “pastor” at one of the SGM satellite churches ended with him crying the alligator tears when confronted with his offense. No change in actions or an apology, just alligator tears. Whether real or not they are usually effective in fostering a sense of empathy.
    Look beyond the tears and look for the fruit of their actions. Was the outcome biblical and reflective of the pattern laid down by Jesus? Were their final actions edifying or destructive? Was there any effort toward brotherly reconciliation? Jesus said “by their fruit shall you know them”.

  • EMSoliDeoGloria

    For whatever it is worth, I didn’t get the least sense that the Lutheran clergyman I met with was being disingenuous in how he spoke with me or responded to my story. He was kind, encouraging and expressed opinions (and read Scripture backing them) which disagreed with certain things that had been communicated to me by men in authority in SGM.

    Even after reading the AoR report, I still retain a positive impression of my interaction with Jaim Gann. I am not sure what happened that the care for those hurt in SGM was lost in translation between the interviews and the report, but I think there was genuine compassion in Rev. Gann and a desire to understand what had gone wrong in SGM’s culture.

  • RE the original post here –

    I should probably clarify that I do not necessarily agree with all aspects of Brent’s pitbull, take-no-prisoners style. But I certainly found AoR’s lack of response to Brent’s many overtures remarkable…and I think Brent does a good job of laying out a case to support the assertion that for all their grousing about the sinfulness of bloggers, the AoR folks neglected (and continue to neglect) to follow their own standards for conflict resolution…which, unfortunately, greatly weakens the impact of their report.

    I also see an interesting question arising out of Mr. Dixon’s and Ms. Grover’s statements about the discrepencies between their own AoR experiences and what the report ends up sharing. WHY did so many people talk about the AoR representatives’ tears and sympathetic responses to victims…and how the AoR representatives indicated a total awareness of SGM’s issues…when the end result – the AoR report – seemed to go out of its way to praise SGM and castigate those with complaints?

    What happened? Was pressure brought to bear upon AoR to write something that SGM liked better than the truth? Or were the AoR representatives disingenuous or downright dishonest in how they presented their opinions to those who talked with them about negative SGM experiences?

  • Wallace

    As I posted earlier, we went through the application proces with AoR in an effort to get help in reconciling with our brother-in-law, Pastor L. Gallo of the Fairfax SGM church. During my phone conversation with Ed Keinath he told me that Mark Mullery turned down our request for reconciliation help. He also mentioned they were getting the same response from SGM leadership “accross the board”.

  • Friendly Observer

    Oooops!!! That’s why the tobacco companies did not LOSE in court . . . Sorry!

  • Friendly Observer

    Defender, #23 — You must mean “Allan” (did you notice the second “l”?

    In general: “Follow the money.” I said it before, and I will repeat. Whether the report was tampered with or not, remember the “Revised Standard” Golden Rule — the ones who have the gold make the rules. Who paid for the report? That’s the key. It didn’t have to be tampered with. The contract may have specified what the resultant slant had to be. When Philip Morris paid for study after study on the results of smoking cigarettes with regard to incidence of lung cancer, does anyone think any of the reports implicated smoking as a causative agent? Of course, they did not. That’s why for decades the tobacco companies did not win in court when sued by the families of cancer victims.

  • Defender

    OOps! I was too quick typing out Alan. (Allan?)

  • Defender

    ATC, (Or would you prefer Alan? I do enjoy a good anagram from time to time. Not gonna try the last name……)

    Truly an amazing testimony you have.
    I believe that the intention for the SGM practice of chasing people to their place of refuge is to strike fear into the sheep.
    Unfortunately it works sometimes.
    (I was privately hoping the pastor who chased us out would come by. Our new pastor knew EVERYTHING.)

    Striking fear into the sheep………
    Kinda makes you want to say Hhmmmmmmm.

    I learned some time ago that the opposite of Faith is not so much Unbelief, but Fear. Fear is the opposite if Faith.

    A shepherd’s job is to help the sheep grow in their FEAR?

    No! Wait.
    I just might have mixed that one up…….

    The Shepherd’s job is to help the sheep grow in their FAITH.
    Ah yes. That’s it.

    These FALSE shepherds are going to have a lot of explaining to do when they face the “Good Shepherd”.

    Eternity is a long Long LOOOOOONG time.
    Gosh! I hope they repent.

  • 5yearsinPDI

    I am convinced there are principalities and powers at work here. I could be wrong-this could all be human sin and the flesh- but for so long I’ve believed that CJ “has help”. All by himself he just does not have the talent and brilliance to dazzle the Reformed community. (he certainly never dazzled me and I’m no popular celebrity speaker.)

    The way they say one thing, turn around and do another, and people just keep on cheering, well, it seems like deceiveing spirits. The way AoR appears to have done a complete about face betweeen the interviews and the report, well, it is like they came under a spell. You have to wonder if there are all kinds of demonic footholds operating. Creepy.

    To God be the glory- He makes even the works of the enemy serve His grand plan. Keep praying folks.

  • Oswald

    On the previous thread Ozymandias #471 has a link to a panel discussion of the Band of Bloggers at T4G. I found it very informative and kindly done. They explained themselves and how they feel about controversial issues and blogging. They discuss SGM and The Elephant Room issues in (probably) the 2nd half. It’s about an hour long, but interesting and worth the listen.

  • ATC –

    Wow, what a story.

    I can remember in this site’s early days when I very first started getting emails from folks who were hyper-concerned about confidentiality. It was all kind of hard to understand – WHY was it such a big deal to these people to be certain their church leaders did not know they were reading/posting here (or just writing to me)?

    Later I pieced together the reality, which is that because of SGM’s hyper-sensitivity to criticism, which for the longest time was ALWAYS a sin in the leaders’ minds, many of these leaders felt free to go after anyone they thought might be adding to the criticism.

    They see it as their duty. They think that if they defend SGM however they can, they are thus defending “the gospel.” They lose all perspective in their hot lather to silence SGM’s critics. They don’t realize how extreme their efforts can appear. Or how those efforts often violate some of the tenets the organization claims to stand for. (Anyone remember “Roy” and his story, where he and a few of his cohorts stooped to lying and deception and asking for prayer as they concocted and posted a fake story of SGM abuse over the course of several months? They thought they were proving some big dramatic point that somehow scored points for SGM…which (in their thinking, I guess) nullified the fact that they chose to LIE and FABRICATE and DECEIVE in order to do so? Crazy!)

  • Mary

    I would be concerned if 104 church members came forward, I would be greatly concerned if 104 pastors come forward in an effort to expose SGM for their abuse…and AoR is concerned about the blogs, and hiding future evidence by not using email. And all paid for with tithe money.

  • Ellie

    Brent’s post on his blog has 2 more postscripts: one from Eric Grover and one from Todd Twinning.

  • Mary

    ATC, CLC did that to me. They went to my new church and shared with all my sin..but they were a day late. I already told them everything because I knew that CLC would come knocking. And you are not the worst sinner I know. I am. But, I am ok with that because those that are forgiven much, love much (luke 7) and I am an all out lover of Jesus Christ! It is funny that they will go to other leaders to discredit people but won’t go to the hurting to repent.

    It is interesting that the bible does not say ANYWHERE to follow people to future churches and share someone’s sin (but they call love)…it DOES however, say to leave your gift at the altar and reconcile with those that have something against you (but to them this is not something they could do to love people) ugh.

  • Mary

    Kris – I find this all very stunning. And Lost is right…It feels alot alot like the twilight zone. Sigh.

  • ATC

    Hello all,

    This is OFF-TOPIC. I hope you don’t mind, Kris and readers. At the moment I haven’t got the time or energy to read Brent’s latest (but I will do….unlike many people who won’t read it but who will still claim the higher discernment ground…)

    I wanted to reply to ‘theleftovers’ from a previous thread and say how blessed I was to see a wise post showing a soul close to the Lord Jesus and a soul on His road of grace.

    I’m assuming you’re reading this, ‘leftovers’ and you as well, Dan. The three Bristolians! (but, forgive me, I’m actually a scouser.. :) )

    I also wanted to share something that happened to me last week. I had a telephone call from the elder of the local congregation I attend who is a lovely, humble, godly man. His example has played a big part in the healing road my wife and I have taken since the summer of 2008 when we became suddenly aware of a phenomenon known as ‘heavy shepherding / spiritual abuse’. :(

    The elder at my congregation told me that one of the leaders at the Sovereign Grace Ministries church, Grace Church, Bristol congregation had contacted another leader of my congregation (not yet an ‘elder’ according to the denominations official ‘ordination’ policies…but he soon will be). This not-an-elder-yet had passed them on to the lovely, humble, godly elder.

    The leaders at SGM, Bristol had seen my comments on this blog and, leader-to-leader, requested a meeting with myself, my ‘church leaders’ and themselves to talk about my comments. They know I’ve never been a member of an SGM church (as I’ve pointed out several times in comments my knowledge of their actions comes from three sources who have been members of the SGM, Bristol church, plus Dan and ‘theleftovers’ on the Nasty Blogs) and that as ‘I didn’t know them’ we should talk about this.

    My first thought was: ‘Do they think I’m under 16 years of age?!’ [alas, I approach my 40th] How high and elevated a view of leadership do you have to have to want to call a full ‘presbytery council’ without first contacting the person involved? It reminded me of a principal of a school seeing a naughty child in another school and contacting the other principal. That’s how it works with children. But the Body of Christ of which we are all members?

    My second thought was how it must have took at least a FEW minutes to work out who I was. Before they didn’t contact me, I mean. And then a FEW MORE minutes to work out which church I go to.

    Over a month ago, on my Twitter account, up popped ONE OF THE LEADERS of the SGM, Bristol church as one of my ‘followers’…. ‘ ‘Interesting’ I thought. I think I’m right in saying that the only way THE LEADER of the SGM, Bristol church (I’m purposely not naming their names for reasons I’ll share in a moment..) could have linked to my Twitter account was by looking through Dan’s twitter friends as I followed Dan a while ago. And then they would have had to google my name and up would come some podcasted sermons I’ve preached at my church in Bristol. SGMNation also ‘worked out’ who I was through Twitter (and contacted me to say ‘hello’). Maybe there’s another way of finding out which church I go to. Who knows? And if you do get in touch with me LEADER of SGM, Bristol church it’ll be one of the questions I’d like to ask you.

    So, I chatted to my congregation’s elder. The SGM LEADER(S) main problem was that I had written stuff which personally identified them. I looked through as many of my comments on this blog that I could and then wrote the following mail to the elder of my church:

    Hello ******

    Hope you’re well! ***** said the family meeting went really well last night.

    I re-read my contributions on the sgmsurvivors blog last night.
    There’s quite a few as I’ve been reading there since 2008! There were
    two particular sentences that troubled me. Not for their veracity, but
    because I felt in hindsight that I was particularly angry when I wrote
    them at what I was hearing and seeing about some people’s experiences
    of Sovereign Grace Ministries. I asked Kris, who runs the sgmsurvivors
    blog, to remove those two particular comments and, as far as I’m
    aware,she’s done so.

    I remain nonplussed at why the person who was concerned at my comments
    didn’t speak or email me directly. If they’ve taken the trouble to
    work out who I am, I would have thought it right for them to come to
    me first.

    I’d appreciate it if you could forward this mail to the person who has
    been affected by my actions. Please feel free to also include my

    See you Sunday, :)

    PS – I also comment on the blog and the blogs. I haven’t re-reach or checked any
    contributions I’ve made on those two.

    (Thanks Kris, once again, for helping me out with the deletions). As my email says, there WERE two comments that I feel were a bit below the belt, so to speak, and which caused a conviction I think was from the Holy Spirit. I’m human. And the worst sinner I know. There is still a comment that mentions one of the LEADERS by name, but as I don’t believe that what I’ve said is ‘below the belt’ it can stand. And I know it’s true.

    So, there’s my first little brush with SGM, Bristol. (Apart from one visit I made in the summer of 2008). And apart from people I know who used to go there. And the testimonies of people on the Nasty Blogs.

    If you’re reading from the Grace Church, Bristol, you can know for sure that the LEADERS are reading these blogs and trying to work out who is writing.

    I repeat: how high and elevated a view of leadership do you have to have to go straight to another leader when you feel one of the sheep is bleating a bit wrongly or loudly?

    ATC, Bristol, UK.

    PS: Think I’ll play a game…. My REAL NAME IS….. lalna lrcea

    Go for it, anagram fans!

  • Brent sent a postscript after I put up this post. It’s a message from Jenn Grover, who said (and this is quoted with her permission),

    I would add that my own interview with Ed Keinath also was in complete contradiction to what AoR published. Ed told me that since last summer he and Ted had been concerned about the the board’s blind devotion to CJ. He also expressed whole-hearted agreement when I indicated that at the heart of SGM’s problems was a culture of selfish-ambition. Ed also indicated that he and Ted estimated that about 20-30 churches within SGM were already prepared to leave SGM.

    I don’t pretend to know why the report does not match what was communicated to many of us but the disharmony between what we heard with our own ears and what was published casts a significant cloud of suspicion over the report and the SGM leadership.

    I plead with you that if any of you fear God and know why this disharmony exists that you would come forth.

    After reading her statement, as well as those from Mr. Dixon, I’m beginning to wonder just what process the AoR folks used to determine the content of their report. It’s difficult to imagine them signing off on a heavily (and unfairly) edited report that would be a dishonest representation of what actually happened during their investigations. But then, it was also difficult to believe how Larry T and various others were coerced into making statements from the pulpit that did not reflect the whole truth either.

    So I’m wondering.

  • Lost in (cyber) Space

    Does anyone else feel like they have entered the Twilight Zone? It’s simply unreal! AOR– the “experts” in reconcilliation have offended the abused and hurt ones heaping only more pain and disappointment on them. The perpetrators are praised by this self-proclaimed group of ambassadors of Christ’s peace. And those lied to, misled and subjected to hypocritical, authoritarian leaders are chastised for not giving the abuser more grace and merciful expressions of forgiveness!
    (explains why the abuse cases went the way they did!)


  • What else can be said? 104 SGM pastors coming forward and AOR chooses to focus on the blogs without following their own guidelines.

    I would not want to be in Ted’s shoes right now…he has Brent on his trail like a hound that won’t quit.

  • Ellie

    Defender (#8) & Persona (#9),

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the report published wasn’t as it was originally received by SGM.
    It doesn’t explain, though, why Ted hasn’t had any recent contact with Jim, since Jim was, as he said, a “cheerleader” for A of R.

  • Persona

    I have a strong and growing suspicion that the AoR report was at least partly tampered-with by John Loftiness and/or Phil Sassier (both, acc. to spell-check).

    They had the time (two weeks+) and of course, the motivation to edit the report. They could easily have deleted what they didn’t want published and padded it with comments about the blogs and complements about themselves and, then sent it back to AoR headquarters to be published ‘officially’ and released to the hapless flock, where no one would be the wiser.

    I wonder if there is any way Brent could procure the original document? The current one obviously wreaks of mutilation or spoliation.

  • Defender

    QE2, Re #1
    My thoughts exactly as I read the emails above.

    Roadwork. YES!
    I have wondered how AoR was chosen to “do reconciliation” on behalf of SGM. It is like SGM had their answer, and then needed to find the path to that answer.

    Either that, or what we saw as the AoR report, was so totally re-written by the SGM board before it was made public that perhaps Ted is busy consulting with his own lawyers for his response to SGM.
    NAH. It couldn’t be that simple.

  • Local Church Fan said in the last thread:

    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:

    I memory serves me correct this is the book that a few SGM Churches have posted a chapter from online when they had a message on “gossip.” One was Jared from CFC and the other from SGM Crossway in Charlotte NC (same church that branded Brent Detwiler as “divisive.” )

    The chapter they posted talked about the passage in James and showed how one Greek word there for criticize was translated “slander.” I haven’t read the book but did read that one chapter.

    As a number of people have pointed out, SGM sadly has used over the years teaching on “gossip” and “slander” to silence criticism. I haven’t read the whole book to see what balance that author has, but the balance I have seen at both CLC and SGM in the past has been to use this teaching to an extreme.

    Why do you think that SGM is in such trouble and has sin that existed for so long including with C.J. Mahaney? I am sure a significant cause is SGM’s teaching on what gossip is. When you teach that criticisizing a leader or have a culture where questioning leadership isn’t acceptable you are in all likelihood going to have problems like we now see being exposed.

    With this type of teaching leaders are able to do questionable actions and get away with them since few people know of the leader’s questionable actions.

    It isn’t surprising that you are introducing a book like this presumably with the intention of trying to guilt people into not talking or indicate it is wrong to criticize.

    Yes people should not bite and devour one another on the other hand people should be allowed to speak up and when leaders sin, especially sin and don’t repent of it, people should know.

  • Mary

    I think those 104 pastors should write a statement and nail it to the church door(today’s version – post it online).

  • Mary

    Roadwork – it is a screwed up system.

    Jesus will never pat anyone on the back and say, “Well done, at being the one that was right.” They can defend their brand of “rightness” until the cows come home…but I doubt Jesus is impressed. He is more than likely saying, show them my love, feed “My” sheep.

  • Mary

    Wow. That is some intense reading. “Marsha and I were told by another couple who interviewed with A of R that their counselor had indicated with dismay and shock, that in fact, 104 pastors had come forward in an effort to expose SGM for their abuse.” Really??? Is that for real?… 104 pastors…and they end up thinking the problem is the blogs? That is shocking.

  • Roadwork

    AoR is too similar to be objective. Their beliefs are the same as SGM. Sin is always the fault of the offended party. As long as the offended party dares to speak of the offense, it’s used against the offended as evidence of incomplete forgiveness.

    The offender goes free and held blameless.

    What a screwed up system.

  • Oswald

    QE2 #1 — Looks like the fat lady has not sung yet.

  • QE2

    I am sure this is not the appropriate response, but I am laughing my barrell off.

    Ted should have called Brent immediately, if for no other reason than to avoid a stuffed inbox and eventual sharing of the emails and lack of response on the evil blogs. Come on, Ted, this is Brent, AKA “The Persistant Widow”, we are talking about.

    I really love God for revealing another chapter in the Sovereign Grace Mini-series.