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


  1. 5yearsinPDI says:

    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.

  2. JeffB says:

    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.

  3. Steve240 says:


    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.

  4. Oswald says:

    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.

  5. Oswald says:

    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.

  6. Oswald says:

    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.

  7. Bridget says:

    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.

  8. Bridget says:

    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.

  9. Izze says:

    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.

  10. katie says:

    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:

  11. Steve240 says:

    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).

  12. JeffB says:

    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.

  13. John says:


    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!

  14. JeffB says:

    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.

  15. Fried Fish says:

    Katie #210 –

    Exodus? :Thinking:

  16. Remnant says:

    @katie #210: Louisville Church Escapade

  17. 5yearsinPDI says:

    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……

  18. Oswald says:

    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.

  19. Remnant says:

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

  20. Kris says:

    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.

  21. Ozymandias says:

    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.

  22. Wizer says:

    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.

  23. MAK says:

    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??

  24. Beautiful Lies says:

    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.

  25. Wizer says:

    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!

  26. Oswald says:

    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.

  27. William T. Shakespeare says:

    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,

  28. BeenThere says:

    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.

  29. Oswald says:

    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.

  30. Persona says:

    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.

  31. Oswald says:

    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.

  32. BeenThere says:

    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.

  33. Oswald says:

    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.

  34. Oswald says:

    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.

  35. BeenThere says:

    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.

  36. Oswald says:

    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.

  37. BeenThere says:

    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 :-)

  38. Oswald says:

    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.

  39. Oswald says:

    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.

  40. ExClcer'sMom says:

    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..

  41. Kris says:

    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.

  42. presbyterian says:

    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.

  43. Steve240 says:

    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.

  44. SamMcGee says:

    @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.

  45. Stunned says:

    John, do you know who writes that blog?

  46. concerned for the kids says:

    “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.”

  47. 5yearsinPDI says:

    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.

  48. Steve240 says:

    Sam McGee

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