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Departures

As we say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013, I thought it would be interesting to note a couple of departures.

First, Dave Harvey is departing from the Sovereign Grace Ministries Leadership Team.

Secondly, the buzz is that the Chesapeake (Virginia) SGM church is also departing from Sovereign Grace Ministries.  There isn’t (yet) any official announcement to link to, but I’ve heard this bit of news from several folks and would be surprised if all of them were wrong.  It’s always a possibility, or, like one of the churches in Florida a few months back, it may just be a question of timing.  Have any of you heard the same thing?  Any of you at the Chesapeake church want to ask your leaders if there’s validity to this story?

Finally, as a departure (of sorts) from the previous conversation, I thought it would be interesting to allow you, the readers, to have a go at responding to an email I received a few days ago.  Someone wrote to ask the following:

My questions are this, I have read your blog off and on for the past year or so. and I don’t understand the purpose of it, how this blog is honoring to God? I understand that people have been hurt by sgm and I know several of them (specifically people in the [Church Name]).

Especially for you, since you were never specifically hurt by them. In my opinion it comes across as gossiping and slandering or in other words, beating a dead horse. I don’t agree with Sovereign grace and CJ, but I also don’t see how talking about how horrible they are is good either? Sovereign grace, although that have/had some mixed up principles they have and continue to preach and advance the Gospel, which is our calling as christians.

Also we are all sinners, if you find me a perfect church or a perfect preach and I’ll call you a liar or blind. So in other words, the exact same blog could be written about many other churches.

I guess I just don’t see what the good is in this? it doesn’t further the Gospel, so why?

Like I don’t see anything on here saying like sgm is teaching this wrong, so this is what you should do, or this is what the bible says. it just complains about what they are doing or have done.

Sorry for rambling so much, hope to hear from you.

Well, readers – any of you willing to help me out and answer our concerned correspondent?

Happy New Year!

395 comments to Departures

  • Oswald

    I have not been hurt by my SGM church but I have learned a lot about SGM form others here. I’ve gotten news I would not have heard from any other source. Yes, sometimes it seems like group therapy; often it seems like gossip and slander; and sometimes bitterness leaks out in comments. But it’s like a care group only much better. We can express ourselves without fear of man, because we don’t know each other personally. We rebuke each other as needed and are not afraid to do so. We have discussed reformed theology, Calvinism, the sovereignty of God and narcissism, sociopathy, and psychopathy, etc. There is so much more here than just SGM. It’s meeting with friends as often as you like whenever you like, even in the middle of the night. So that’s just my two cents worth.
    Thanks Kris and Guy and Jim, too.

  • Jenn Grover

    Why does the blog exist? That is a GREAT question and really the question that the AoR report should have addressed instead of slamming the blogs. I really think it can be summed up like this: the blog(s) exists because transparency within SGM does not exist. This lack of transparency, which by the way has led to dishonesty, has been a method of control and manipulation of members and churches and used to cover up wrong-doing and wrong thinking for years. SGM leaders believe, and wills tick by their belief that it does not “Serve” us to know the full truth and therefore have created rightful suspicion and distrust. When you realize you aren’t getting the full story, the natural response is to seek it out. SGM would like to continue to control people by keeping the truth silent. The blog counters that control tactic by bringing the truth into the light. Walking in the light is a biblical principal which most of us wish SGM had chosen to honor. One of the most freeing parts of leaving SGM is not being concerned with what the SGM folks think about you and feeling free to be completely honest.

    The way the question was worded leads me to believe that the person was not looking for an honest answer, they just wanted the less confrontational method of slamming the blog(s). However, for many of us, having invested so much of our lives, and that is in no way an overstatement, we actually do need an outlet for debriefing our experience as we consider what “moving on” looks like.

  • Sovereign grace, although that have/had some mixed up principles they have and continue to preach and advance the Gospel, which is our calling as christians.

    I will start with the easier question to answer first. This is what I have picked up from my personal experience and from reading this blog since it just about started.

    With regard to SGM “advancing the gospel” SGM’s method of growth is typically planting churches in upper middle class areas in the US that already have a number of solid churches. It isn’t that they are taking the gospel to areas where one hasn’t heard the gospel or there is a dire need for a church such as foreign countries. Church planting is basically the only way SGM believes in “advancing” the gospel and thus typically don’t support missionaries.

    The members SGM “adds” to their churches are typically existing Christians who were attending other churches. Some call this “poaching” believers from other churches. It isn’t as if SGM churches make great strides in evangelism to win large numbers to Christ.

    Typically SGM’s “mission” fund in local SGM churches has been used to pay down that local church’s debt. It isn’t like large dollars are being sent to foreign missions where people haven’t heard the gospel.

    Additionally, there have been numbers of reports of leaders through their heavy handed methods abusing sheep. Only God knows how much damage has been done to the sheep but as has been reported on this blog and other places the damage isn’t insignificant.

    Within the last day someone reported on the impact of Mahaney’s unconfessed sin and church split it has caused:

    I don’t know a single family at CLC that is not fractured by the divisiveness of the Louisville Loyal. The most painful aspect is the pastors you trusted for so many years are now the ones splitting your families. People feel scammed for trusting these people for so many years. It is so obvious by what they are doing to your relationships that they never truly cared about any of us. People feel defiled. People feel accused by friends who are sympathetic by the Louisville Loyal. People feel duped. People feel lied to. Victims of abuse are being threatened and accused.
    I know many families dealt with icy silence or empty chairs this Christmas. Lines clearly drawn.

    If what I have said above is anywhere near true I wouldn’t be so quick to excuse SGM for their “imperfections” under the guise that SGM is “advancing” the gospel.

    The biggest issue I and am sure a lot that contribute on this blog is SGM unwillingness to admit their sin and change. The worst example of this has been when Brent’s documents became public. The SGM Board rather than admit their were issues with SGM and that this was the “discipline of the Lord” were quick to call what Brent published as “gossip” and “slander.” SGM Leadership also didn’t see how Mahaney blackmailing Tomczak and hiding that sin for over 10 years disqualified Mahaney from being the group’s top leader.

    C.J. Mahaney after giving somewhat of a confession to CLC right after Brent’s documents were made public later basically retracted his confession at the SGM Pastors conference. Thus what at least I see is a group with leaders that aren’t willing to confess their sin and change. In fact when the heat of Mahaney’s sin became too much in Gaithersburg (being at the same location CLC is at), Mahaney had the group’s headquarters moved to Loisville.

    I am sure you wouldn’t see a need for this blog if you had leaders willing to admit their “imperfections” and make changes.

  • This blog exists to expose a serious problem in SGM and other denominations and churches: spiritual abuse. It also is a safe haven for victims of such abuse to be free to share their experiences and thoughts without fear of further abuse. It is a vehicle for healing. Finally, it is a platform to highlight abuse in the body of Christ and warn people to beware of spiritual abuse and try to prevent it in the future.

    The blog honors God because Jesus is always on the side of the oppressed and exposing this problem, just like any problem or addiction, is the first step to overcoming it. People who claim it is just a bunch of gossip and slander are misunderstanding something very important: protecting and loving people is more important than protecting religious institutions and their reputations. Churches like SGM have put the reputation of “the Church” (and I would say, a misguided hyper-submission to Scripture) above love and care for people.

  • justme

    Hi Kris,
    thanks for throwing that out there.

    Jenn,
    your response seemed to capture the essence of what I’ve always heard from folks on any of these blogs, as to their purpose. this might be a good paragraph to link to, Kris.

    maybe we should ask the questioner (is this a real word?) if their question was sincere or not? its very difficult to write anything on an email, txt msg, or otherwise that cannot be taken the wrong way. it also seems that there is a lot of sensitivity to receiving ‘blog’ criticism; i can’t imagine there is no possible and rightful correction that could be addressed in any of our posts or messages, including this one (i’m not including the AoR report comments; imo, that was unjust ‘formal’ criticism and not part of the focus of the SGM review)

    i made comments regarding the ‘blogs’ on a different blog and they were were not well received. I was criticized for it as ‘bashing’ the blogs. i don’t think that it’s intellectually honest, to have a form that provides a lot of critique, but to be so offended when the critique is provided in the opposite direction (but maybe it was how I said it??). My point is, after prayer that night, I also remembered Job. How the best thing Job’s friends did was be silent, around the suffering man. After they spoke, Job rebuked them for criticizing how he delivered his complaint(s) (words in the wind) vs. hearing the content of his message. This remembrance was also posted, but was not commented on. i think Job’s rebuke brings insight to how anyone works with others, like in the case where folks provide a vehicle for folks to share their complaint plainly, in the way they feel, and with hope that the ‘content’ is heard vs. only the way it is delivered.

  • Marybeth

    Gal 2:14 When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others…

    At SGM people are more trained to address gossip than truth. Why be more concerned about gossip than the truth of the gospel? When a church makes people SO SO SO focused on sin – more than grace – then this is a matter of the truth of the gospel. Peter said what needed said in front of all the others.

  • Facts, openness, and honesty are just not “gossip ‘n’ slander,” no matter how much SGM leaders would like people to think they are. Questioning leadership is not “gossip ‘n’ slander,” either.

    I think an interesting question to ask would be, why do SGMers assume that a conversation about their church organization is almost automatically “gossip ‘n’ slander”? Why have they been so incorrectly taught about those sins, where they perceive sin when there is no sin?

    Who benefits from such an inaccurate concept of what constitutes “gossip ‘n’ slander”? I can tell you that it’s not for the benefit of the ordinary members. Instead, making people deem honesty and openness and questioning leaders to be sinful “gossip ‘n’ slander” only benefits the leaders who don’t want to be discussed or questioned.

  • Jenn Grover

    Justme: “i don’t think that it’s intellectually honest, to have a form that provides a lot of critique, but to be so offended when the critique is provided in the opposite direction (but maybe it was how I said it??). ”

    Any claim that something is not intellectually honest is at face value, just another way of saying you don’t agree. I believe it is up to the blog owner to determine whether or not they will entertain criticism of members. In my opinion, some of the people who post here have been grossly sinned against and/or abused or their criticism has been squelched to the degree that it is both unkind and not productive to try to show them their sin again, in this particular venue. Many of us are relieved to escape the constant introspection that brings condemnation rather than authentic conviction. If we believe someone is born again, we can also trust that the Holy Spirit is at work and will reveal any sin to them at the right time. It is an almost obsessive-compulsive trait for an SGMer to feel compelled to show someone where they are wrong, whenever they are wrong or whenever they think you are sinning. There is a lot to be said for “keeping in step with the Spirit.”

  • justme

    JoyfulandFree and others,
    i was thinking about my use of the term “drivel” and some corrective comments I rcvd. thank you for bringing that to my attention. i would also like you to know that i was not referring to the blog content in general, but specifically what had just been posted. even though, i still appreciate the input.

  • justme

    Jenn,
    seems you have continually disagreed with what i post, i’m not sure why, but if you don’t like me and feel the need to only correct me, that’s fine, but i don’t desire to feel like i’m going to have a fight with you every time i post something – no i don’t have a “beef” with you. i get the impression you just want me to be some kind of clone, or go away; is this true?

    regarding your post, i didn’t say the “blog owners” were upset with the criticism; for years i’ve seen corrective comments treated in a very unwelcome manner from many, not all (i can understand it as well).

    it sounds like you didn’t fully read my post, or just didn’t care to listen; are you judging me?

  • Diego

    This blog has been used by God to warn Christ’s Church. Like a lighthouse warning ships of dangers of the rocky coast, to avoid, to alter course, to not proceed further; this site warns us sheeple of the dangers of getting too close to the CJ gospel. Warns of the heavy handed sin sniffing, guilt laying pastors that are CJs minions. Shining light on what is wrong and has caused some pastors to wake up and begin to direct to the Mercy and Grace of the Cross, rather than the guilt laid sin soaked sermons that are infamous throughout SGM.

  • Jenn Grover

    JustMe – nothing personal, would be pretty hard since I don’t know you, or do I? “Intellectually dishonest” and similar language is the type of language meant to shut down an argument and I sensitive to that type of language as it has been so abused within SGM. My point was not whether blog owners were upset/not upset, but that type of language is judgmental in nature and seems to indicate that the person who is speaking such believes their view as final or higher ranking. Perhaps my 20 or so years in SGM has made me defensive of superiority and others trying to control a conversation. The thing you seem to miss is there is a forum for critiquing the blogs: it’s called SGM and they have been running a one-way dialogue for thirty years. The blogs have become a safe place for people to share their experiences in a safe setting. Sure, many of us don’t always express what we are seeing and thinking perfectly, but we often acknowledge it. Do people sometimes respond in anger? Sure. Do people sometimes blur the lines between discussing things and gossip and slander? Maybe. The point is, most of us are in process and allowed to work is he will, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction at the right time. So, I don’t think I am judging you as much as I am seeking defend those still in process.

  • lily

    Questioner, I disagree that this blog is a place to gossip and slander, and would ask that you read more posts from the last couple of years. I also disagree that posters here have merely criticized what they experienced to be abusive leadership, without backing up their observations and refutations with Scripture, shared in context, I should add. I believe that many in SGM leadership to the contrary, have used Scripture and the Gospel, out of context, in order to maintain/further the control they have over others. IMO, it’s a Shepherding Movement, not good shepherding.

    I do agree with you that the problems witnessed here are not exclusive to SGM, and that there is no perfect church, just as there are no perfect Christians, but if you read more thoroughly here, I think you’ll realize that these things have needed to come out for many reasons, and that for the most part, the posts are honoring God and helping others, inside and out of SGM.

  • Uriah

    Diego #11, as well as others here, have it right…..

    Here’s my two cents,

    SGM preaches a different gospel, which is no gospel at all. The fruit of thousands of broken lives attest to their destructiveness, deception, pride, control, unaccountability to the church, coercion, blackmail, intimidation, lording over, shunning, ostracism, etc. SGM has not only shipwrecked individual’s faith but entire families and even extended families. Their behavior has been profoundly divisive.

    One of the primary purposes of this blog is to warn others. The lighthouse analogy is a good one. This blog honors God because it compels people to be Bereans so that they might discover the systemic problems inherent in SGM culture and practice, and thereby avoid them and urge others to do the same. It is not gossip or slander to warn people of the serious spiritual abuse being propagated by SGM. It is a kindness.

    We are not so much “talking about how horrible they are” as we are citing countless historical facts in the hope others might heed our warning. SGM’s principles are not only “messed up”. More importantly, their principles are wrong and spiritually deadly.

    SGM continues to advance its lust for control and power over the lives of people (read their new polity statement). They are not advancing a pure, healthy, God glorifying gospel. This blog is actually a herald and effort to insist on an authentic gospel not a perverted or compromised one.

    I would recommend reading Galatians with SGM in mind. Hopefully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, one will begin to see why Paul got so lathered up and used terms like “bewitched” and “accursed”. Perhaps the greatest danger that SGM poses to naïve Believers is the subtle, yet powerful way they promote the SGM culture. I pray the members and pastors in SGM will be sobered by the realization that their leader, CJ, has effectively thumbed his nose at the authority of the church (CLC) where he was a member and realize his example is indicative of the false doctrine that systematically and intentionally subverts and ignores the authority of Jesus Christ as it is manifested in the church. This is a very serious error.

    It is no accident or coincidence that God has made it His business to humble SGM. It is His mercy… since they will not humble themselves.

  • Already Gone

    Speaking of departures, I was told over the weekend that the new church plant in Miami has quietly withdrawn from SGM. How many others will leave but say nothing?

  • JoyfulandFree

    Just me I definitely did not want to come off as corrective but did want to express how I really appreciate this group as we get through this. I can see as I read back how you were commenting more about that conversation so forgive me for initially thinking your comments were just another gossip and slander post.

    As to the current post, I have shared my true experiences in 16 yrs of sgm. As I have said before I was completely indoctrinated. I could have asked the same questions a year ago. But sharing what really happened to me and my family is not gossip nor is it slander. I would also have to say that though the Gospel was preached, the culture, counsel and leading I received always left me despondent and defeated over my indwelling sin. I was not brought through to the grace and love of God. In preaching maybe but in practice rarely. Thus the full Gospel that leads to life, joy and peace with God was more like a carrot on a string to me. My kids were even more hurt by this and I am grateful to be in a church now where we are being reintroduced to God with His arms wide open to us because of what Jesus has done for us in love.

  • justme

    disclosure, in bullet statements, i hope this is ok and i apologize up-front for the many usages of the word, “i” :)
    i was thinking, it may be of worth providing some adtl information about me, “adding to my story.” maybe.

    i have friends that were treated harmfully by SGM; at least one of their stories is posted on these blogs.

    i’ve not been treated harmfully in my SGM church. on the contrary, i’ve enjoyed much spiritual growth (mbr for aprox 9 yrs) and seeing freedom gained in areas of struggle through care groups and the preaching. however, i recognize others have been treated harmfully by the leaders in my church, and potentially others. typically, these were brothers and sisters seeking counseling, mostly (this appears to be a pattern throughout SGM).

    i’ve been treated very harmfully by a couple of those who have left our church, maybe more (these were not treated poorly by SGM churches, but those who didn’t like what was done to my friends – i didn’t like that either).

    its my hope that my church will withdraw membership from the SGM association, and feel they will

    i don’t consider all people in SGM churches deceived, nor do i think they have their heads in the sand. i do have a sense to defend them, where appropriate

    i don’t think all pastors are abusers, nor party to those that are merely because of their affiliation (currently) with SGM. in the future, after the polity is ratified and signed by any of these pastors, i may reconsider my opinion. i understand my opinion will matter little in the big picture.

    i love the Lord, as you all. i’ve attended a different church where leaders abused its congregation with manipulation leadership, even openly turning some members against others members, even those that left (disgusting). many similar concerns have been reflected in SGM, howbeit more covert in SGM, and from i’ve seen, not as intentional.

    i’ve wrestled, prayed, and struggled with these issues extensively with friends who have left and those who remain in my church. this has been a long trial for many. i’m weary, but believe God has led me to continue where I am.

    i’ve written SGM leaders at various levels regarding the issues. my letters were direct, bold, and respectful; i’ve received some response, but sadly, little – like writing politicians (comparison is intentional).

    i really love the Lord, i have a wonderful spouse/family, we have quite a few children, and we are very blessed even with typical hardship (long military deployments/separations), past church experiences (over the years, we’ve had to leave two churches), current hardship physically, and with SGM. (Psalm 146 and Rom 5.1-5 – these have both encouraged my soul and brought me hope)

    i feel no need to defend any church organization; i understand the “Church” is not contained by walls and doors, but is made up from the host of believers throughout the world in many congregations, and some who are not attending with a local body

    i want to be “real” and i love God’s Word – note this does not imply i believe others are not real or do not love God’s word; these are just the cry and desire of my heart

    so,
    i hope this list has helped folks who read here to understand more of where i’m coming from

  • Nickname

    Questioner — welcome. I’m glad you’re here, and hope you’ll spend some time reading back over the archives. If you’ve just tuned into a current discussion, you may be shocked at what you read, but some archival reading may put some of that into context for you.

    When we first found the blogs, many of us felt confused. We might have left SGM years ago, or possibly had just left, or only thinking about leaving. But we struggled with ambiguous feelings — after all, we loved the people who had wronged us, had thrown hats into their rings, supported them with money, loyalty, and friendship. It was hard to admit that the problems were so huge — and then, it was a tremendous relief to find that we were not the only ones who had suffered — that we were not, after all, crazy.

    Fifteen years out of SGM, I stumbled upon a blog. Until I began to read, I could not figure out why my skin crawled at the very mention of SGM, yet I still recommended them to people as a great place to become a Super Christian. I still looked down on others as Second-Class Christians who just didn’t ‘get it’.

    God used the blogs — and all the people who post — to show me that TRUTH does not need a gag order disguised as a holier-than-thou gossip’n’slander prohibition. Telling the truth can be done with discretion and with integrity. I had spoken of my SGM debacle to only a very few close Christian friends outside SGM (good thing I still knew a few people on the outside!) — and would NEVER have told it to a non-Christian. I didn’t want Jesus & the church to look bad to unbelievers, and I didn’t want believers to be ashamed of their leaders, so I hid the truth. I actually lied sometimes, because the leaders had told me not to tell what they had done, so in order to obey and protect them, I made up other reasons for my departure. I was deeply injured, but like a good soldier, put on a few bandaids and kept marching with the walking wounded.

    Reading the blogs made me admit the truth, and God began to heal wounds I had hidden from myself. It is hard to describe the sense of pure joy there is in the Lord Himself, pure joy in FREEDOM from hyper-authoritarianism and spiritual abuse.

    I understand why people who come here have a hard time at first — they’re conflicted, their loyalty to even those who damaged them and the church at large is huge. But be sure — stating the truth is not disloyal. It is truth. We know from Jesus himself that truth brings freedom.

    The command from scripture is to speak the truth in love. It’s hard sometimes, to convey ugly truths in a loving manner. But keeping the truths of spiritual abuse and theological error hidden is not loving at all. Truth can be spoken in love and with discretion. We’re imperfect people — we don’t always get it right, but we’re here to help others heal and to expose the tragic consequences of theological & methodological errors.

    Thanks for joining us. Wherever you are in your SGM journey, Godspeed.

  • just saying...

    For decades, people like those on these blogs have been in your care groups suffering in silence. Secretly, they’ve been threatened, coerced, manipulated and shunned by pastors behind closed doors. Those pastors freely slandered them behind their backs. If they breathed a word, they were called divisive. It affected their marriages, their children, their concept of who God was. But, to keep your fantasies of the Dearest Place on Earth, they remained silent. Silent and terrified at how men of God will not hesitate to dismember them. The Louisville Loyal had their dream church while their brothers and sisters were weeping in the dark with unspeakable devastating sorrow.

    Alone after years or even decades, they found each other here. Together, they’ve brought hope and truth and encouragement. They’ve helped each other here dig through the shoot and find God again.

    Nobody asked the happy people to start reading the blogs. And nobody asked the content to start debating the validity of our sorrow. We kept our sorrow from our brothers and sisters because we were silenced for so many years. We kept our silence to protect you. But, now those same brothers and sisters are debating our sorrow like it is politics. Those same brothers and sisters freely spout off in people’s living rooms and kitchen tables and Sunday mornings about the victims being at fault. To our horror, they blame us.

    We are so sorry for your unhappiness. We are so sorry the Dearest Place on Earth isn’t what you wanted it to be. But, we aren’t the ones that did that. If there was not decades of crap in the building, the sewage wouldn’t have backed up down the street.

    All we did was sit down the road at the coffee shop and suggest someone call a plumber.

    It’s not our fault it smells the way it does.

  • just saying...

    I just wanted to stop for a minute and give C.J. a “bad report”.

    Oh? Is that slander?

    I’m sorry. I didn’t know that. He’s always been fine with entertaining and circulating everyone else’s “bad reports”.

    Why is that ridiculous phrase even in our ridiculous vocabulary?

  • 5yearsinPDI

    Speaking of departures, the SGM Refuge blog is closed.

    http://sgmrefuge.com/about/

    SGM Refuge launched in June 2008, and “closed” on on December 31, 2012.

    Friends and regular readers know that I’ve been sick of thinking about SGM for a couple of years, and felt that I had said everything I wanted to say about this dysfunctional “family of churches” long ago. I honestly hoped that our readership would just dwindle away to nothing, but that was not the case. As I write this at noon on December 31, we have had 94,577 unique readers in December. Technical difficulties have disabled my ability to post, and the ability for readers to comment since December 16. This God-ordained hiatus has given Carole and I time to think and pray about our continued participation in the SGM conversation. We are done.

    While I feel that there was a need for what we were attempting to do back in 2008, of late we’ve mostly reported “SGM News”. SGM Survivors predates refuge by 8 months, and is the pioneer in this field. I can walk away, knowing that survivors (and others) will continue to publish the info your pastor doesn’t think you can handle.

    While my prayer remains that the abusive pastors within SGM will someday repent and seek reconciliation with those that they have sinned against, the sad truth is that this may never happen. I think that this is a truth that many need to come to terms with, and my prayer is that you’ll refuse to allow these men to continue to occupy any space in your head. My prayer is that you’ll be able to forgive, and will not let the past spoil your future. I understand that many do not struggle with this, but i’m very aware that many do. Please walk in the freedom granted to you as a child of God, bought with the blood of our Lord and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ.

    You are loved.

    94,577 unique hits just in the last month. Wow. People are reading, people are thinking, people are waking up.

    Jim and Carole, I read your blog before I knew of this one. Thank you for all the time and effort and prayers and emotion and care you have put into it the past years. May the Lord bless your future abundantly. You have loved the flock well.

    just saying #19….powerfully written, Thank you.

  • Uriah

    justme #17,
    Those who remain in any SGM church are vicariously supporting, both financially and morally, CJ’s actions, SGM’s aberrant polity, and the continuing saga of control and lording over the people of God.

    I understand you may not want to face this reality, but it is a stark reality nonetheless. One of the most discouraging aspects regarding the SGM travesty is the lack of indignation on behalf of it’s members and acquiescence by their silence and continued membership, which encourages SGM to remain unrepentant. Ultimately, the collective membership in each SGM church is responsible for what is tolerated, or not, by their leaders. The leaders are accountable to each local body of Believers. Silence is, in essence, each member’s affirmation and acceptance of the atrocities against their fellow brothers and sisters. You can’t have your proverbial cake and eat it too.

  • QE2

    Maybe the questioner has a narrow view of “furthering the Gospel”.

    Telling the truth when accused of gossip and slander is furthering the Gospel.

    Showing compassion and encouragement to people who have been hurt is furthering the Gospel.

    Respectfully disagreeing with someone is furthering the Gospel.

    Rudely and judgementally disagreeing with another, and then being convicted by the Spirit and apologizing is furthering the Gospel.

    Debating and discussing secondary issues by applying intelligent thought and sharing different perspectives is furthering the Gospel.

    Having a safe place to vent and process hurts is furthering the Gospel.

    Praying for fellow posters, even if no one broadcasts they are doing it, is furthering the Gospel.

  • Sick With Worry

    I am saddened to see the end of the “Refuge” blog. Jim has a lot of credibility in my book. I think early on Jim went on and apologized for his own attitude in all this. That really struck a chord with me. Jim seems to have heartfelt concern for the folks who have been hurt, as well as those who have done the hurting. Thanks Jim. I HOPE YOU CONTINUE TO POST HERE ON SURVIVORS.

    Thanks to Kris and Guy as well, along with the commenters here. The internet is obviously the equivalent of the old west…. and I think under the circumstances you all have set a pretty high standard. Thanks as well for tolerating some of my posts. I try to walk the middle on here, and I appreciate the conversation.

  • Jenn Grover

    You know, I would be interested in how the questioner defines, “advancing the gospel.” It’s a phrase I heard a lot in SGM but it usually meant advancing reformed doctrine. Although I am primarily reformed in my theology, I would define reformed theology as the gospel or exclude other doctrinal schools from the gospel. Furthermore, Scripture calls us to make disciples and preach the gospel. I saw very little disciple-making in my 20ish years in SGM.

  • Stunned

    We love you and Carole, Jim.

  • Jenn Grover

    *would NOT define reformed theology as the gospel.

  • Sick With Worry

    One more thing….. SGM church in Marlton, South Jersey – has big meeting tomorrow night. it is called a “Family Meeting” of course. Anyway – I will try to get an update from my friends there, but they are kinda “tight lipped”. I doubt I will get info and then permission to post. In fairness to them, if they spill their guts to me and ask me to not post I will not. If anyone goes there maybe we can get an update. I was there Christmas Eve with family and friend and it is indeed a large church. From what I hear they are staying in SGM and very excited about the future.

  • lily

    A heartfelt thank you to you both, Jim and Carole! The phone conversation you graciously had with me gave me hope and I realized I was not crazy or alone with what I had seen and experienced. And then came the blogs and an e-mail reply, which encouraged me to endure and wait on the Lord, Who as always, proved Himself faithful. God bless!

  • Stunned

    DIANE (from the last thread),

    Your post moved me deeply. I sat for a long time and thought about you. I got upset that you didn’t have the mom so many long for. I wish you had had the kind of mom that held you every night and kissed your boo boos and laughed with you over silly things. I am sooo sooo terribly sad that you (and so many others) didn’t get that kind of mommy. This may seem really bizarre to say, but if you had been my daughter, I would have seen to it that you got those hugs and nurturing. I wish someone could give you a do over and you could have a different kind of mom.

    I have no doubt that given your situation, you have grown into a more compassionate woman in many ways. That you understand and know the pain of others in more intimate ways. That you are better equipped to see hurting, where others might just see anger. I believe God has given you insight and care for people that not everyone may love. But God loves them. And He has created you to be a woman who loves people in your own unique way.

    I know it wasn’t easy what you grew up with and if I could do something to change it, I would. But I have no doubt that the hardship that you went through caused you to be the woman who could extend such kindness and compassion to me and offer to pray for my precious son. Thank you for that kindness. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself. You may think that I did some help in what I shared yesterday but you need to know that you did, too. (It may have felt like you were the only one without a mommy around, but you have no idea how many there are with mothers either not there or not all there.)

    Thank you for your post.

    Stunned

  • Mary

    Thank you Jim and Carole. I understand the need to walk away. Well done on all your care for the broken and for sharing biblical truth. May you walk away with the peace of Christ. I wish you both all the best.

  • justme

    hi jenn,
    thank you for your response. i don’t think we know each other, but i’ve enjoyed seeing your photography, if that was yours :) i believe you are the one into weather as well, cool!

    i can see where you are coming from regarding the term “Intellectually dishonest” and similar language being the type of language meant to shut down an argument”. my usage is merely a call for intellectually (or other) honest positions, not to turn off the conversation, but make it more meaningful and helpful. i’ve also tried to be sensitive to the types of wording i’ve used, and have pursued alternative wording in following posts. btw: i don’t recall any usage of this term from any SGM source, it might have been, but i don’t recall it. i’ve gained that usage from Ravi Zacharias, i wish i could assemble thoughts as well as he does, even with those who disagree (ref: Harvard University Form Q&A with atheists).

    i’d like to respond to some of your comments by item. maybe this will be helpful for our discourse, but more so for others who come after.

    >>”Perhaps my 20 or so years in SGM has made me defensive of superiority and others trying to control a conversation.”

    this is what i feel you’ve been trying to do to me; correcting my wrong words and not seemingly “hearing” the content of what i’ve written – ref: “Job.” i would think, perhaps incorrectly, that my writing would have given you more of an inclination that I’m not trying to shut-down anyone. i don’t recall using any of the other terms you mentioned, “gossip/slander.”

    >>”The thing you seem to miss is there is a forum for critiquing the blogs: it’s called SGM”

    I disagree, SGM is not a “blog.” they do have a platform, and maybe that’s what you mean. i am not ‘SGM’. maybe reading my disclosure above has helped provide more understanding on my thoughts and background. also, if believers, hurt believers, are seeking to get help, then everyone being more open to scriptures, using scriptures rightly (e.g. Psalm 146) can be very helpful if not prescriptive (even though SGM may have used it to control). we have no where else to go, if not to the source of truth, the Word – Jesus, then where? i also believe some mental health sites can be good sources in the right cases, as defined by professionals in that field. one of my dear friends is a psychologist.

    >>”The blogs have become a safe place for people to share their experiences in a safe setting. Sure, many of us don’t always express what we are seeing and thinking perfectly, but we often acknowledge it. Do people sometimes respond in anger? Sure. Do people sometimes blur the lines between discussing things and gossip and slander?”

    i can appreciate these things – ref “Job.” i’ve been on the net since before GUI, i don’t think its a safe place entirely; but it certainly is a capable sounding board that can bring thousands of people together, globally, and provide a warning to others. if done well, its a great resource.

    i believe its important to remember that all believers have the Holy Spirit, and it’s quite reasonable to think that the H.S. would use those who believe; i believe i’ve been served that way on Survivors. please don’t hear what i’m not saying, i mean this in the sense and context of scripture, not in how denominations (family of churches) have misused this to control their membership.

    “The point is, most of us are in process and allowed to work is he will, the Holy Spirit will bring conviction at the right time. So, I don’t think I am judging you as much as I am seeking defend those still in process.”

    AMEN! me too! i am so thankful for this.

    i find it odd that a lot of what you said to others agreeable. so i scratch my head at times when you’ve written / corrected me. i feel like you may have pigeon holed from what position i come from (i don’t really know if this is accurate at all), and have interpolated my comments through that judgement. i find it difficult to -not- do that one the net, its always so easy, for me, to presume from what background a person is writing, build the picture in ones head, and respond accordingly. that’s another reason i’ve appealed to asking folks questions, like the beginning of this thread.

    i understand, and can see where people expressing their anger, at individuals or actions, and other things, though the lines of gossip/slander may happen, though bitterness be expressed, etc. is much in the realm i see in the book of Job. these are words in the wind, expressed from suffering, and we (listeners) should focus on those folks’ pain and suffering, not their words.

    i have a hard time understanding that any of us should ‘speculate’ on the motives and intents of the heart of specific individuals that we’ve never met, and don’t know (i’m not saying this is done all the time). maybe i’m confusing what was written and what was being attempted to be communicated on some posts, but it seems very unnecessary for anyone to forge through those topics, which can never be answered. we can only conclude our own opinions – only God knows.

    how can knowing help us either. knowing will probably make us madder, possibly do more harm. how would it have helped me to know my dad’s heart ‘motive’ and ‘intent’ when he through the dinner table from the kitchen thru the family room during a fit of rage, or when he knocked me out, or when he knocked my mom out. what were my dad’s motives. i will probably never know, i cannot speculate as there are millions of variables. i don’t think it matters much either, i’m not sure how it could. additionally, what were his motives when he later apologized? was he trying to manipulate me, or love me? we are told that only God knows these things, i think attempting this without asking the person(s) in question is harmful.

    i think we need to be free from this type of speculation, for all our sakes. and as we grow, free from the other things as well, but in due course.

    i hope this, and my previous post has been beneficial. hopefully for all. i don’t discuss some of these things much, i try to be objective, and i try to be real. i wanna be. i also want to help people: brothers, sisters, and unbelievers see the light of God’s glory through His Word, through His Son, and Lord willing as he gives cause, through my life. i’m willing to be corrected when i’m insensitive, hopefully corrected, as we continue the fight of faith in God and His promises to us, we have an inheritance!

  • Uriah

    Jim and Carole,
    You have been to me like the soldier in battle who spends himself for a noble cause, who presses into the fray, inspiring and putting courage into the hearts of fellow warriors. Thank you for your tireless efforts, uncompromising conviction, and love for the saints. Carole, thank you for supporting your man and lifting his arms when he was weary. You are a great team. Enjoy a much deserved rest. Hope to read your posts at Survivors. Much love and appreciation…… Uriah

  • Oswald

    Jim,
    Thanks for all your effort. I’m sure we’ll ‘see’ you here.

  • Jim and Carole

    I would also like to thank you for all your effort. Refuge was a nice compliment to Survivors and will be missed but I understand where you are at. There is the passage in Ecclesiastes stating there is a time to seek out and time to give up as lost.

    I share your doubt that abusive SGM pastors will every repent and seek reconciliation. If what was exposed in Brent’s documents didn’t do that then short of a miracle then nothing will. Of course our God is the God of miracles so there is always hope.

  • Friendly Observer

    I’m guessing that my post, if accepted, will be #36 or 37 — somewhere in there, depending on how much I write. What is of interest to me, especially, is how quickly so many of the initial posts (#1 through 35 or so) quickly departed from Kris’ request, which was to comment on and perhaps answer the “concerned correspondent” in his or her questions and reflections.

    This is in no way a personal attack, merely an observation. I have no particular post or personality In mind. My assessment is that the questioner raises some valid points, and the responses to him (forgive me, but “him/her” is awkward), taken together, will be a reflection of whether some here can handle constructive criticism and step back with some degree of objectivity, perhaps to say, “Hmmm, yeah — some of the discussion here is way (waaaay) beyond ‘survivorship’ and is somewhat over the top in venting. Let me be honest about my own comments. Am I repeating myself and talking about stuff that’s really ‘ancient history’ and thus, none of my business?”

    Example: is it a worthy topic of conversation as to how much Bob K paid for his house in Louisville? how large it is? how many live there? what his present salary is? Why is anyone so curious about that, and — if discussed at Bob’s expense — does it not, in fact, add up to gossip? What I’m asking – of myself as well – can we see that often our critics have made a valid point, and perhaps we have (individually) blind spots that others see/hear and we do not?

    Similarly, some “survivor” stories are still “new” to many of us and are literally heart-wrenching. This forum — or so I understand from my intro here 18 months ago — is a perfect place to “let go” and share. (For example, “Stunned” recently stunned even an old curmudgeon like me with her story of hurt, abuse, and humiliation; I wept from her description of the clothing-thrown-outside episode and how the children were so traumatized. I’m a grandfather, and that experience was brutal to wife/mom/kids.)

    But Kris was asking the readers/posters to comment specifically on the e-mail she received and posted. I’m sure many of this community would agree, with objective consideration and some self-critique, that some of us have often gone far afield in pretty relentless analysis as to what is going on in Louisville, how does CJ relate to Mohler, what relationship will the PC have with SBTS, etc. Honestly, just how much of the Louisville expedition is the business of this forum — especially those who identify themselves as survivors. After all, CJ is not Jean Valjean (to say the least), but none of us (including Brent, I hope) is called to be another Javert.

  • Stunned

    Oh heavens, I’d say some of the good things about this blog is the ability to go far afield!

  • Babyrock

    Already gone #15

    The Miami church plant did not leave quietly. The leadership spoke openly to the church of their concerns over months and when they made their final decision they wrote a very detailed letter to their church, the SGM board, and all the pastors they had association with regarding their reasons for leaving. I doubt the letter will ever make it on this blog but from what I hear their reasons had much to do with their negative view of SGM’s leadership.

  • (formerly)oneofthem

    I’m not sure if this point has been made yet,but the questioner seems to be using the questioning evangelism technique. I learned about this while at my former SGM church. Instead of stating a judgement,the interrogator asks a question to try and passively get the other party to agree. Just one more example of how some of these books may encourage abuse and extra-biblical adherence (in the name of doing things the Gospel way).

  • lily

    Friendly Observer, I must agree with you that sometimes some of us have gone “over the top” with delving into what imo should be private matters, however intrusive into private lives SGM leadership has often proven themselves to be, and destructively so. Individual marital problems, costs of homes, etc. should be beneath us, however, when an organization has had so much control, at the corporate, local church, family and individual level, perhaps some in kind responses are to be expected.

    Your point is well taken, though, about responding appropriately to Questioner. It looks to me that from their perspective, this blog may be “much ado” about very little. I think we should accept the challenge and keep things as pertinent to the deeper problems we perceive, as possible. Sometimes, though, pertinence spills over into the petty, because of the hypocrisy many of us saw from SGM leadership with their personal dealings.

  • Whirlwind

    As I was talking with a fellow SGM church member, he made a telling comment about reading the blogs: “Sometimes that’s where you need to go to get the full story.”

    Put simply, you’re just not going to hear important information about SGM and its leadership apart from getting it on the blogs. From the information given at my church I would not know of CLC’s departure much less the withdrawal of any other SGM churches. I would not know about the conflict between CLC and SGM leadership or the history of heartless pastoral “care”. Depending on the SGM blogs, I’d get the sanitized version of everything that has happened with CLC, Brent, and other conflicts.

    You might say, “If you have so little trust in SGM and your pastors to shoot straight, why are you still there?” Well, that’s a fair question. For now, I’d say we’re weighing options and trying to keep things stable for the sake of our children and friendships they have within the church. However, the time for making a break could be coming if we can’t find greater confidence in SGM’s integrity.

  • Persona

    Thanks, Jim and Carole for helping to carry the load over the past five year. You have made a valiant attempt to encourage SGM leadership to repent. I never really thought there was much chance of that happening but, I applaud you for trying. You can retire knowing God has been please with your labors.

  • Persona

    Jenn Grover #2 and Kris #7

    I totally agree with both of you. Transparency has not been the norm in any SGM church that I am intimately familiar with. They also do not teach that practice to the boys in the PC. And transparency has not been the norm at CLC, to date. This blog and others are sorely needed unless or until that changes.

    As long as there are subjects that need to be discussed and information that needs to be known, we should keep the conversation going.

  • justme

    uriah,
    it seems you have failed to read, or at least comprehend what i was sharing in my posts. let me explain and let me know if i misunderstood you.

    you said: justme #17,- “Those who remain in any SGM church are vicariously supporting, both financially and morally, CJ’s actions, SGM’s aberrant polity, and the continuing saga of control and lording over the people of God.”

    i don’t think this is true. i can appreciate your opinion, but having not left, yet, is different than remaining with SGM; is actually quite a bit different. it seems you are overlooking the many people with very real lives in these churches, just like those who’ve left SGM. also, not all SGM churches are tithing to the corporate head, not until they can come to agreement with the new governance. i believe you should consider these things. however, i can somewhat agree with what you say in the long term. i would have to think it through much further to condemn everyone in a SGM church just because of your reasoning. there are new members added all the time, that i would surmise, have little understanding of “the old ways.” i say it that way since i’m not sure if those ‘ways’ will be continued, but i agree, with quite a few leaders it does not look promising.

    >>”I understand you may not want to face this reality, but it is a stark reality nonetheless.”

    i don’t know why you “understand” this, your understanding is flawed. I faced this “reality” quite a while ago, and i face it everyday today. i do try to not jump to conclusions, i’ve probably not be entirely successful, can you do so as well?

    >>”One of the most discouraging aspects regarding the SGM travesty is the lack of indignation on behalf of it’s members and acquiescence by their silence and continued membership, which encourages SGM to remain unrepentant.”

    i don’t know how you can judge the level of “indignation” of SGM members. i’ve seen quite a bit of it from fellow members. you just can’t possibly know all the things that are going on in the SGM churches, today. this is the kind of stuff that’s troubling, and if i were a potential candidate to open up and tell my story, completely, comments like this would provoke me to just move on and say, ‘forget it.’ also, i can’t say what may encourage SGM or not, i kind of think they really don’t care about the current churches and whether many will leave.

    >>”Silence is, in essence, each member’s affirmation and acceptance of the atrocities against their fellow brothers and sisters. You can’t have your proverbial cake and eat it too.”

    see above. i can understand why you would say this as it relates to the “watchman on the walls”, but this is taken out of context. you have no idea of the local discussions and what’s happening on the ground in local churches. i’m continually told (within many posts on these blogs, not all), that i, as a SGM member, “have my head in the sand,” i’m “deceived” “responsible (above),” a “sheeple,” “sleeping,” need to “wake up,” etc. etc. lots of name calling, and now it seems you are directly implying in a way that sounds quite authoritative, that i’m a bigger part of the problem.

    a friend of mine’s (a fellow SGM member) dad died the other day. he’s going out of town to attend the funeral with his family – his dad wasn’t that old. another friend of mine is having trouble, working multiple jobs and has many kids, spouse is sick, and they are trying to make ends meet. from what you are saying, people like these are the problem, “acquiescing” to SGM atrocities? you seem to imply that they should push all these ‘unimportant’ (my hyperbole) life issues aside, uproot their families from their church home, right away, and find a new church home, away from current friends where tangible-care (don’t read SGM speak here) Godly brotherhood continues to be provided, and from a church that -is- preaching the Word. btw: if they would leave, the would not be shunned.

    i’m not sure what you may believe my “cake” is here. i hope you’ve read more of my posts, where i’ve shared more about my background, just so you are informed. everyone in a SGM church is not blind, or the other characteristics i’ve read on the blogs.

    maybe I’m misunderstanding where you, but i thought i was pretty clear in the progression of when culpability for SGM support really begins to play a role – by signing the new polity agreement and paying the 5% tax. but even here, i’m not sure that all churches will see it the same way at the local level, that is, Godly people who love the Lord. i don’t understand that myself, but if the local church leaders do not carry on as before, but are acting differently, godly, then maybe reform will be happening, howbeit slowly. isn’t that good too?

    please let me know if i misunderstood something.

    btw: why would you want cake and -not- be able to eat it? :)

  • Dmac

    To #39 and OP

    #39 I think that your comment of how this is similar to “Questioning evangelism” was interesting but not convincing. Yet, it did give me a decent train of thought. Thanks.

    I will give the OP the benefit of the doubt that he was trying to be conciliatory in voicing his own opinions next to questions. I find I do this more often when I have a strong opinion on something. Thus, not intentionally manipulating opinions in any way.

    Yet, OP’s opinion is able to be voiced. OP is heard. OP is received without too much judgement by the community.

    This blog exists because 1) Opinions are not able to be voiced normally. [Culture of Fear] 2)Many voices are not able to be heard normally. [vs. a bully pulpit and the 'spin' machine. Plus, the lack of another medium. Face-to-face would likely be best for emotionally charged stories but it is often denied.]
    3)What is heard from many who talk is not always received well. (Openness to criticism and shelter from judgement. Facts/stories must rest on merits not the ‘status’ of the messengers.)

    These three things exist on this blog and the questioner benefits/assumes them even in his own message.

    Since when are we not going to greet our brothers and sisters with open arms? or even a holy kiss?

    When some invisible process is conducted without appeal on an arbitrary person that is lead by a few sinful (not super-christian) people with conflicting interests is concluded? and simply tells us so?

    “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Prov 18:17

    ***My SGM experience was mixed. 5 1/2yrs. I had a really hard time with clique-like artificial friendships being encouraged as evangelism in the college group. The brainwashy focus also hurt the ‘ingroup’ by setting them up to crash hard after college. (Neglecting actually friends and later rejecting/hurting the projects when they ‘moved on’ in the name of mission. (I got burnt out trying to connect the unconnected outcasts.)I feel I out grew of the SGM church.

    I learned and developed more opinions indirectly after befriending a true narcissist for a time.

  • justawife

    FriendlyObserver#36: Interesting that you bring up the Valjean/Javert comparison (I’m a huge Les Mis fan). I think had CJ taken an approach more like Valjean the tone on this blog towards him would be completely different. The main difference between Valjean and CJ is that the former was highly repentant of his wrongs whereas CJ seems to try to minimize and hide from them, not acknowledging them in full in the public spectrum. Javert was out to condemn whereas I think that those who have spoken to CJ, particularly Josh Harris and other former-SGM pastors, are not trying to condemn him but to try to get him to move past his love of reputation.

    I agree the conversation at times can become petty. If you think back on good conversations you had with other individuals can you not think of possibly touching on one or two petty topics. I think it’s just a side effect of human nature.

    Yet this blog exists for good reason. Many of Kris’ posts and responses really get into the true problems that exist within SGM. And these problems aren’t only in SGM but other congregations as well. Having an independent voice out there where people can hear of the history and what has gone on is helpful so that the past/history is never squelched. I think every person that is going to anything (church, event) associated with SGM should do some research. This blog provides an independent and necessary voice.

  • Moniker

    Whirlwind (#41) – I understand your concern about your kids in considering leaving your SGM franchise. We had the same concern. But we realized that if we couldn’t fully trust the leadership and thought it was unhealthy for us, the parents, to stay, then surely it wouldn’t be a healthy culture for our kids to grow up in. And if leaving the organization means that the kids lose their friends, then what kind of “friends” were they in the first place?

  • Somewhereintime

    Ahh… Gossip & slander. How would God be concerned about gossip and slander against an organization that constantly flips the Lord the bird in almost EVERYTHING they do? I now go to a great church with a senior pastor that does something absolutely “insane”. He is fully committed to Jesus! I know, I know…lunacy. Sovereign Grace will NEVER have the Lords blessing on them ever again unless they fully repent… Which, if history proves me correct, will never happen. All they ca do now is shuffle the chairs on the deck of the Titanic because they are doomed.

  • Wow

    Just Saying #19,

    EXCELLENT!!!

  • 2Samuel127

    “But how deservedly soever we complain that the doctrine of truth was corrupted, and the whole body of Christianity sullied by numerous blemishes, still our censurers deny that this was cause sufficient for so disturbing the church, and, in a manner, convulsing the whole world.

    We, indeed, are not so stupid as not to perceive how desirable it is to avoid public tumults, nor so savage as not to be touched, and even to shudder in our inmost soul, on beholding the troubled condition in which the church now is. But with what fairness is the blame of existing commotions imputed to us, when they have not been, in the least degree, excited by us? Nay, with what face is the crime of disturbing the church laid to our charge by the very persons who obviously are the authors of all these disturbances? This is just the case of the wolves complaining of the lambs.

    When Luther at first appeared, he merely touched, with a gentle hand, a few abuses of the grossest description, now grown intolerable. And he did it with a modesty which intimated that he had more desire to see them corrected, than determination to correct them himself. The opposite party forthwith sounded to arms; and when the contention was more and more inflamed, our enemies deemed it the best and shortest method to suppress the truth by cruelty and violence. Accordingly, when our people challenged them to friendly discussion, and desired to settle disputes by calm arguments, they were cruelly persecuted with sanguinary edicts, until matters have been brought to the present miserable pass.

    Nor is this calumny against us without precedent. With the very same charge which we are now forced to hear, wicked Ahab once upbraided Elijah: that is, that he was the disturber of Israel. But the holy prophet by his reply acquitted us. “I,” says he, “have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim,” (1 Kings 18:17-18). It is unfair, therefore, to load us with odium, on account of the fierce contest concerning religion which this day rages in Christendom, unless, indeed, it be thought proper first to condemn Elijah, with whom we have a common defense. His sole excuse is, that he had fought only to vindicate the glory and restore the pure worship of God, and he retorts the charge of exciting contention and disturbances upon those who stirred up tumults as a means of resisting the truth.

    And what is it that we have done hitherto, and what do we even now, but strive that the one God may be worshipped amongst us, and that his simple truth may reign in the church? If our adversaries deny this, let them, at least, convict us of impious doctrine before they charge it upon us, as a fault, that we dissent from others. For what were we to do? The only terms on which we could purchase peace were to betray the truth of God by silence. Though, indeed, it would not have been enough to be silent, unless we had also, by tacit consent, approved of impious doctrine, of open blasphemies against God, and the most degrading superstitions. What else, then, at the very least, could we do, than testify with a clear voice that we had no fellowship with impiety? We have, therefore, simply studied to do what was our duty. That matters have blazed forth into hostile strife is an evil, the blame of which must rest with those who chose to confound heaven and earth, rather than give a place to pious and sound doctrine,­ their object being, by whatever means, to keep possession of the tyranny which they had usurped.

    But here again it is objected, that all the corruptions of the church are not to be corrected by such harsh remedies; that they are not to be cut into the quick;­ that not even is medicine to be applied to all, but some are to be treated gently, and others submitted to, if they cannot without difficulty be removed. I answer, that we are not so unacquainted with ordinary life as not to know that the church always has been, and always will be, liable to some defects which the pious are indeed bound to disapprove, but which are to be borne rather than be made a cause of fierce contention. But our adversaries are unjust when they accuse us of being excessively morose, as if we had brought the church into trouble on account of small and trivial errors. For to their other misrepresentations they add this one also, of endeavoring, by every artifice in their power, to extenuate the importance of the things which we have made the subject of controversy; the object being to make it seem that we have been hurried on by a love of quarrelling, and not that we were drawn into it by a just cause. This they do, not in ignorance, but with cunning design, namely, because they know that there is nothing more odious than the rash haste which they impute to us. And yet they, at the same time, betray their own impiety in speaking so contemptuously of matters of the greatest moment. And is it indeed so, that when we complain that the worship of God was profaned; that his honor was utterly impaired; that the doctrine of salvation was entangled with numerous destructive errors; that the virtue of Christ’s death was suppressed; and that, in short, all things sacred were sacrilegiously polluted; is it indeed so, that we are to be derided and charged with the folly of disturbing ourselves and the whole world besides, to no purpose, with disputes about insignificant questions?”

    The Necessity of Reforming the Church (1543)
    John Calvin