Sovereign Grace Ministries Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit

From NBC News:

A small evangelical church group has invoked the First Amendment  in asking a Maryland judge to dismiss a lawsuit accusing church  leaders of covering up allegations of sexual abuse.

Sovereign Grace Ministries says in a motion to dismiss the  lawsuit that Maryland courts can’t get involved in the internal  affairs of church business.

The church group’s lawyers also say the case should be thrown out  because its allegations are so vague. For instance, they say the  lawsuit leaves unclear how old the plaintiffs were at the time  they say suffered abuse.

The suit was filed in Montgomery County. The church recently  moved its headquarters from Maryland to Louisville, Ky.

 

184 comments

  1. Whirlwind says:

    I would expect any lawyer to seek a dismissal if his client is potentially liable for millions of dollars. I’d also expect them to grab hold of any possible legal maneuver that would allow them to do so.

  2. Whirlwind says:

    Anyone have some knowledge about when the judge will rule on the motion to dismiss?

  3. Diego says:

    They want the lawsuit to go away so they can get back to the business of shepherding…
    Copy from CFCs Sunday Message Take Home Point
    Take It Home Questions

    Feb. 24, 2013 – John: A Call for Shepherd Leaders
    Jared Mellinger preached from John 10:11-15

    Key Ideas

    It is God’s intention that the metaphor of the shepherd shape the way we think about faithful leadership.
    1.Shepherd leaders in the church. 1 Peter 5:1-4
    •We all need the provision that comes through shepherd leaders.
    •Pastors must know the flock
    •Pastors must guide the flock
    •Pastors must protect the flock
    2.Shepherd leaders in the home. Ephesians 5:25-29, Ephesians 6:4
    •Men must know their family
    •Men must guide their family
    •Men must protect their family

    Fellowship Starters

    Treasure – Application to stir our love for Christ
    1.Read John 10:11-15. Why does Jesus love his sheep this way?
    2.In what ways can men image Christ, the good shepherd? Why does the Lord call men to this?
    3.How is “shepherd defined leadership” different than “culturally defined leadership”?

    Grow – Application to stir our obedience to Christ
    4.What are some specific ways have you benefited from shepherd leadership in the church? How can you encourage those whom God has called to lead you?
    5.For husbands/fathers: which of the three areas (know, guide, protect) would you say comes more naturally to you? Which one are you weaker in? What is one way you can grow stronger as a shepherd leader in the home?
    6.Jared shared a list of things he is teaching his sons in “Man School.” While there are many ways a dad can disciple his sons, how does this particular list challenge and encourage you as a father?
    •Be a Hard Worker! (Industry) Do chores and physical labor. Accept responsibility. Learn new skills. Create things.
    •Be a Peacemaker! (Love) Be a good friend. Share. Forgive others and overlook an offense. Honor God in conflict. Think before you speak.
    •Be a Good Sportsman! (Humility) Try your best. Don’t quit. Have a good attitude. Encourage others. Don’t boast
    •Be a Teachable Student! (Wisdom) Study hard. Do your best in school. Read often. Pay attention. Ask questions to learn.
    •Be an Adventurer! (Imagination) Try new things. Be brave and courageous. Play outside. Create and discover.
    •Be a Money Manager! (Stewardship) Give generously to the church. Bless others. Remember to save. Be honest. Spend and invest wisely.
    •Be a Lover of God! (Worship) Spend time in God’s word. Pray. Sing songs and rejoice in the Lord. Love the church. Learn theology.
    •Be a Gentleman! (Manhood) Respect and honor women. Have good manners. Offer to help others. Be clean, neat, and organized.

  4. presbyterian says:

    According to the case information on case search, there is a scheduling hearing set for 3/08/2013 at 9am, 9th floor, courtroom 2. Maybe then? Anyone know if that is open to public (I work next door so could walk on over)

  5. Steve240 says:

    presbyterian

    I imagine it is an open case and anyone can be there. Just realize that this probably isn’t the only case that will be heard at that time so am guessing you would have to wait till this case is called. At least this is how it has worked in the past.

  6. just saying... says:

    In regards to the previous post. Am I the only one or were ALL of your sin issues regarding the church? We didn’t have people lying, cheating, stealing, murdering, committing adultery, cursing, drug abuse, etc. People were always wrestling with and grappling with the sins that arose in response to the church. Thus the complete emphasis on sins of “idolatry” or “pride”. Any time your gut disagrees with us, it is sin. The goal for all of us is to distrust ourselves and repent of our gut feeling until we can come to a place of peace and compliance.

    Ex. I didn’t have issues with my husband. I had issues with the church saying I was his property.
    Ex. I didn’t have issues with anger. Until you mistreat me and sin against me in the name of God.
    Ex. I didn’t have sin of pride until you church disciplined my innocent friend.
    Ex. It was my sin of arrogance to think women should have access to theology.
    Ex. I thought too highly of myself when I resented the ushers not letting us sit down in a chair in the lobby with our baby during the meeting because they are so focused on controlling people, they aren’t even human.

    Oops! React in anger? That’s an idol! You must be worshiping something more than God for you to become angry at something we do. In fact, we’ll keep sinning against you. What a fabulous opportunity to see all of the sin in your heart! Let’s jerk you around some more.

  7. Elle says:

    Dear Jared,
    Hey buddy, you could teach your daughters all of the same things. I would re-title “Be a Gentleman” as “Be a Nice Person”.

    This really frosts my cookies that they are only teaching this stuff to boys.It sounds like you are teaching your boys that they are somehow superior to girls. And that video link on adult courtship two postings ago, though not Sovereign Grace, made me upset, too. Someone should re-post that link over here.

    Why is a slice of the church world dumbing down women and trying to send us back in time? I hope all their daughters get doctorates, get fabulous jobs, buy houses on their own, and find their own men!

  8. delta dagger says:

    I think CJ and SGM are on drugs if they think the judge will throw out the case. SGM could have spare themselves this huge mess if they would have cleaned up they act. Also CJ-SGM should have whipped out the old checkbook 5-10 years ago and this would have saved CJ-SGM a ton of money.Oh well live and learn.

  9. Persona says:

    My guess is asking the judge to throw out the lawsuit is a first step. The second step might be to settle some of the cases out of court. The longer this drags on the more costly it will be. The one big snag I see would be the request for a jury. I don’t think they will be able to get around that one.

  10. delta dagger says:

    Hi,
    Just got threw hearing a family meeting here in Bloomington Mn. SGM has put off planting a new church in north Minneapolis my guess is lack of people and money.

  11. Argus says:

    I have heard that disappointment over SGM’s planned First Amendment defense against the lawsuit is a big part of why Craig Cabaniss resigned from the SGM Leadership Board. That is what he told members at a family meeting announcing his Board resignation.

    The other part was that some respected members of the church were urging him to consider where his loyalties lay, whether with corporate no matter what or with what was best for Grace Church Frisco. The thought was that his position on the Board made any other discussion of whether to sign on with the polity agreement pointless.

    Nevertheless, I will be shocked if the church leaves SGM. One of the other pastors is die-hard SGM to the core. If they do leave, it will be more for public perception (so that local outreach is not hindered by the SGM label) than change of heart, I suspect.

    At an earlier meeting, the pastors already expressed the intention of signing and then seeing what happens, on the theory that they could always leave later if they find it not working.

    But how anyone can sign that mess of a polity document is beyond me. Having found spiritual freedom once again outside of SGM, I cannot imagine going back under that yoke of bondage. I do not see it as any better than before, except for having standardized it and put it in print. Their lack of regard for the congregation, especially women, is evident in the document.

    These corporate leaders at the very top of SGM lack a spirit of love for others, especially the week and lowly. Most unbelievers have more compassion than that. This does not reflect the Spirit of God. How very typical of them to use the power of law to dismiss those with something against them, to try to deny them their right to even sit down at the table across from them and be heard. No, they want to make them go away, sight unseen, just *poof* wave a hand, bang a gavel, and business as usual.

  12. Awake says:

    Cabaniss’ move seems very strategic. I have heard that it looks like the right thing to do but doesn’t feel like it. No one is admitting Frisco has issues. His resigning makes him come off as a hero while nothing else really changes. Many members there refuse to read about the current lawsuit. Many didn’t read AOR. This move lets them say, “see we and our pastors are different.”

  13. Doc says:

    Argus wrote: “….Nevertheless, I will be shocked if the church leaves SGM. One of the pastors is die-hard to the core. If they do leave, IT WILL BE MORE FOR PUBLIC PERCEPTION (SO THAT LOCAL OUTREACH IS NOT HINDERED BY THE SGM LABEL) THAN CHANGE OF HEART, I suspect.”

    Yes, the Frisco church has reason to be concerned over the publicity of SGM and SGM’s decision to spit in the face of the many victims in the lawsuit. They are scheduled to build an SGM church in the heart of Frisco, IF they are able to begin building within a given time-frame. The “building fund” requests have been accelerated…they are nearing the time limit….

    Also, Grace Frisco recently sent members a questionnaire in regards to opinions about possibly departing from SGM Inc. Okay.
    However, in this list of questions, it was also asked * How often do you go to Sovereign Grace Ministries blog? * How often do you go to Grace church Frisco blog? * How often do you go to any other blogs?….Hmmmmm–“other blogs”– This appears to be weeding out those who might be seeking information on “the blogs” and determining who are loyalists…..
    And the SGM loyalists will sing “we are different”…while steeped in SGM cultural mindset.

    As Awake stated, Cabaniss’ move seems very strategic. The congregation may dislike the First Amendment stand, however, they ARE all that SGM embodies.

  14. Argus says:

    Oh, Frisco has issues.

    Good Christians for the most part, some really great people actually, but not all is well. Craig is by all accounts the real deal in his personal life, a genuinely well-intentioned guy, but he has believed in SGM for a long time. The church has typical SGM problems, especially the ‘Stepford’ conformity thing. More than a few of the original ‘planting’ families and others who were very close to things have left. Those who stay and have a good experience think their church is the best, but behind the Sunday smiles are some serious problems that few people know about. Right now they are dealing with a sexual abuse case that brought out a lot of ugly in some people.

  15. Steve240 says:

    With all the money at risk my guess is that asking for dismissal is what SGM really had to try even if means negative press. The lawsuit has the chance of possibly financially bankrupting the group IMO. One would think that they might have had been able to come up with a better case or reasons for dismissing the suit but was the group’s attempt at trying to “nip this in the bud” as the saying goes.

  16. Mary says:

    So yesterday I was in the bookstore and noticed they had a book by Carolyn Mahaney, “Feminine Appeal” and I opened it up and landed on this from the book – a lovely breakdown of that sinful woman Hannah :o) who thankfully had a husband in her life to tell her that her heart was bad…because she grieved not having any children.

    “Sinful feelings reveal a sinful heart. Our story of Hannah (found in 1 Samuel 1) verifies this fact.

    When Elkanah found Hannah weeping and in despair, he rebuked her. He asked, “ Why is your heart so sad?” (v.8). The general
    translation of that question in Hebrew is: “Why is your heart bad?” Essentially, Elkanah was admonishing Hannah for her bitterness.
    Hannah responded to Elkanah’s correction. She poured out her soul to the Lord (v. 15). Then Hannah “went her way and ate, and her
    face was no longer sad” (v. 18)”

    So, much of that is wrong – I would puke if I tried to talk about it. And, I happen to be a happy girl that prefers not to puke.

  17. Mary says:

    about the lawsuit…I hate this part, “The church group’s lawyers also say the case should be thrown out because its allegations are so vague. For instance, they say the lawsuit leaves unclear how old the plaintiffs were at the time they say suffered abuse.’ So…they are not false just to vague. And, as if SGM doesn’t know who the people are and how old they were. Come on SGM! Stop already! Enough! Is anybody home with any integrity. Any at all?

  18. 5yearsinPDI says:

    The church group’s lawyers also say the case should be thrown out because its allegations are so vague. For instance, they say the lawsuit leaves unclear how old the plaintiffs were at the time they say suffered abuse.

    Huh??????

    The really didn’t know how old victims were??????

    One of the plaintiffs is exCLC correct? She has written to JL every year for a couple decades. They know exactly how old she was.

    Wallace and Happymom- they know the dates for that.

    Not sure who else is on there. Taylor’s story?
    http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/2011/08/31/taylors-story/

    She originally submitted it to Kris with names and church locations….so SGM could have easily verified the person by contacting Kris to make it right, back when Taylor posted, or now.

    Noel? ( not sure if she joined the suit). They know that one.

    Larry’s bare bottomed adult spankings? They know that one. Age zero to 25.

    Am I wrong to say this appears to be a blatant lie?

  19. Luna Moth says:

    I really dislike that misinterpretation of the story of Hannah. What I see is Elkanah’s tenderness to Hannah–“Am I not more to you than ten sons?” He valued her for herself, not for whether she had children…

    Now, why Penninah was not rebuked for her unkindness, I cannot say.

  20. Bridget says:

    Argus –

    Are you at liberty to say what ‘planting’ families have left the Frisco church? A sexual abuse case as well — hopefully with law enforcement involved ASAP?

  21. Stunned says:

    So either they are lying or they had SO many children sexually abused that they can’t even identify which ones were filing suit.

    Your pick SGM. Which is it?

    Someone here used to end many of their posts with, “CJ, it is hard to kick against the goads.” I’d say this is more apropos than ever.

  22. Stunned says:

    Luna Moth,

    Only in the SGM world can the bully’s sins be ignored whilst a woman in deep grief is rebuked. The way scripture is sometimes twisted can be so damaging.

    (Personally, I don’t think that she was happy because her husband rebuked her but comforted her with his great love and value of her.)

  23. Stunned says:

    Without diverse opinions, we only have the will of one man, which is the basis for cult.

    That is a loose quote from the Philip Seymour Hoffman movie about a cult leader. I just overheard it on a commercial. Kind of hit me hard.

  24. Mary says:

    Luna Moth – I agree. I think Elkanah was tender and trying to comfort Hannah. And, the use of the word, “bad” by Carolyn is WAY off. It amazes me that Carolyn managed to get the words “rebuked” “admonishing” “correction” and “responded” all in such a small amount of words. Gold Star! I am joking but really this is such a twisted approach to reading the bible.

  25. Mary says:

    Stunned, #23 yes. that one hits home. I also like your #21 – breaking it down. Choose one. Amazing on their part – simply amazing!

  26. Oswald says:

    Don’t most, if not all, lawsuits begin with a request for dismissal? No surprise here, is it?

    Regarding the polity proposal — What does a ‘provisional Council of Elders’ mean? Is this like our electoral college? If so, then we would never know exactly who voted how among the pastors in any given church. Maybe it doesn’t really matter anyway, the group is either ‘for’ or ‘against’.
    I’m still praying for courage among those pastors who are troubled by this whole polity and other messes, that they will speak up.

  27. FormerFrisco says:

    Argus wrote:

    “Craig is by all accounts the real deal in his personal life, a genuinely well-intentioned guy, but he has believed in SGM for a long time…”

    As a former member of Grace Church Frisco, I would take issue with part of that statement. Craig is a nice guy, but a bureaucrat to the core. His resignation from the board strikes me as little more than self-preservation. He is a gifted orator, and is able to manipulate the thinking and emotions of his flock from the pulpit extremely well. A master of spin if I have ever heard one.

  28. keepinstep says:

    Just Saying #6: applause and cheers. Your examples really nailed it.

    For some of these guys, it really has gotten down to this sort of evil:

    “In fact, we’ll keep sinning against you. What a fabulous opportunity to see all of the sin in your heart! Let’s jerk you around some more.”

  29. Papist says:

    Hey everyone. What Oswald says is correct. The Sgm’s answer was due on Monday. By statute (Md 2-322 i believe; Fed rule civil procedure 12(b)(6) is it’s equivalent) The motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim can be done before the answer. This is a first move. You have to state a claim and under current law the pleading standard is higher than it was. This means that you have to show some plausibility. I have not seen the motion brief yet. I hope to tomorrow. This is a stall tactic. It will take the judge time to rule. If SGM is successful, Miss Burke can amend her complaint, or, if not, the lawsuit is dead. If SGM loses they have more time to answer the complaint. I don’t know how it works with class actions and place-holder names though. Just wanted to throw this out there. Also SGM, CJ, CLC have a new lawyer. She is in Baltimore.

  30. Papist says:

    Yes I said she was a SHE!

  31. delta dagger says:

    Wow CJ and SGM have a Women lawyer this has to be a first.Whats next women in charge at a SGM church?

  32. Argus says:

    Of course a she. It looks better to have a woman on their side so that it isn’t perceived to be a bunch of men ganged up against women and children.

    Any smart lawyer will work all the technical angles, and we’ve all seen suits thrown out on a technicality. They’ll try to get it dismissed on any grounds they can, and since Maryland law doesn’t make pastors mandatory reporters, their motion to dismiss is not as far-fetched as it seems, and it certainly lays the groundwork for a First Amendment defense and possible appeal. Vagueness is also sufficient grounds if upheld, since the defendants have a right to know exactly what they are being accused of in order to answer adequately. However, the judge can allow Ms. Burke to amend the lawsuit once again if she agrees particular wording is vague but the case otherwise has enough merit to proceed. I think that is a weak argument by SGM since all the details would come out in discovery anyway as the case proceeds.

    Assuming the motion to dismiss doesn’t go their way, one of the next things I expect SGM will do is to contest the pleading for class action certification. The case is not a class action until the judge certifies it to be, so SGM will probably argue that the cases are distinct, involving different churches and different pastors at different times, and move to get each case tried separately. (My guess is that they would seek to dump most of it in the laps of the ‘problem’ churches no longer affiliated with SGM and let Mahaney off the hook almost completely.) Separating the claims would undermine the likelihood of effective action because it would take much more money, time, and courage for the plaintiffs to make their cases one by one. To have the case certified as a class action, Ms. Burke will have to persuade the judge that there is enough in common in the way all the individual situations were handled that came from the culture of SGM itself.

    SGM may drag this out for quite a while, hoping for the negative press to die down, the spin machine to generate positive PR, the people on the blogs to grow weary, potential witnesses to lose contact, plaintiffs to drop out, and SGM assets to get allocated elsewhere in the meantime in advance of any possible awards. It’s nasty business, but that’s how it’s done in the corporate world.

  33. Argus says:

    Bridget – You can ask me about specific families if you have someone in mind. Kris has my email. I know Craig’s sister and her husband left (lovingly) over differences with polity and practice. Another couple ended in a terrible divorce. Several others left over exactly the sorts of things often discussed here. More than a few have struggled with family problems, troubled teens/young adults, and financial problems.

    One original family on the planting team from San Diego left very upset about it all many months ago. When the amended complaint came out with more abuse cases, the father (a former care group leader) felt stirred to ask his kids one by one if anyone had ever been inappropriate with them. He found out his young daughter had been molested during care group by the adolescent son of a neighboring care group leader who also came from San Diego on the original church plant team. The young victim’s father notified the police right away and later sent an email to the entire church (not naming names) so that they had no choice but to deal with it openly. The young teen confessed and was taken into custody. It is a very tragic situation all around.

    All that being said, I still have regard for Craig Cabaniss and his family. I think he is fundamentally a good guy in a terribly flawed system. I hope some day he sees the flaws and escapes from the SGM mindset.

  34. James says:

    I’m gonna try blockquotes for the first time…..so here’s the part Mary referenced from Feminine Appeal

    We may be inclined to believe that our feelings are caused by life’s circumstances or by our body chemistry. Undoubtedly, these things do affect us. However, such factors are not the source of sinful feelings. As we encounter life, our emotions are primarily determined by what is in our hearts. Sinful feelings reveal a sinful heart. Our story of Hannah (found in 1 Samuel 1) verifies this fact.
    When Elkanah found Hannah weeping and in despair, he rebuked her. He asked: “Why is your heart sad?” (v.8). The literal translation of that question in Hebrew is: “Why is your heart bad?” Essentially Elkanah was admonishing Hannah for her bitterness.
    Hannah responded to Elkanah’s correction. She poured out her soul to the Lord (v.15). Then Hannah “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” (v.18).

    Carolyn goes on to attribute Hannah’s change in heart to her repentance of bitterness.
    Let’s read that passage from the Bible!

    Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

    9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

    12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

    15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

    17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

    18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.

    19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[b] saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

    I love that story. Carolyn does a TERRIBLE job, IMHO, of interpreting that passage. I would go so far to say that it is an intentional misinterpretation. Where is there anything about Hannah repenting of bitterness, or even being accused of being bitter?

  35. Diego says:

    Jared Mellinger, how bout showing your son how to stand up against injustice, by defending those who have been injured by SGM negligence. You and SGM are setting examples to your children and PC grads/pastors wantabees of deny, deny, deny, defend, defend, defend…please point out to me where this is setting a Biblical example to your children, the members of your churches, or your future PC grads. You are setting a foundation, not of standing on the rock and surviving the storms against you, but you are holding on to your rock of SGM idolatry, but that rock will crush you. Repent, defend those injured by SGM, and set an example to your son in Man School, what it does mean to be a man.

  36. Diego says:

    Jared and all SG pastors. Time to let go of SGM and defend those who have been injured!

    Jeremiah 22:3-5 Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their servants and their people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.

  37. Kris says:

    Oh the irony…

    An easily observable pattern in just about all the bad SGM stories I’ve heard has been what happens when a pastor judges a member’s sin and then the member defends himself against the judgment. Especially in situations where pastors accused members of the sin of “pride,” or the sin of “unteachability,” any defense whatsoever would then be used as proof of the accusation. After all, it displays “unteachability,” if someone rejects what a pastor says. It displays “pride” if someone stands up for himself and fights charges of pride.

    For multitudes of now-former SGMers, objecting to a pastor’s assessment of their sins was what sent them down the path of being declared hopelessly lost. SGM pastors all know this is true. Almost all of them have engaged in these sorts of confrontations over the years, where the clearest sin of all was not “humbly” bowing to the pastor’s assessment (accusation) of sin.

    In light of this, it’s interesting now to watch what happens when SGM is accused. What does it say about the organization, that they are quick to mount this sort of defense? In the twisted thinking of SGMville, they are displaying a stunning sinfulness just in trying to wiggle out of these charges.

  38. Kris says:

    Something else I was thinking of –

    For a long long while, I marveled at how Teflon-coated CJ seemed to be. People would share horrifying stories of spiritual abuse at the hands of their SGM pastors…but would still express a love for CJ, a belief that he must not know what’s going on, that SGM’s dysfunction was not his fault.

    With Brent’s documents, of course, that began to change. But even then, I realized that CJ remained essentially disconnected from the messy day-to-day dealings with members. The accusations Brent made all involved the way CJ handled his inner circle of other leaders, NOT ordinary members.

    This is how CJ managed to keep his hands clean for so long. As the organization grew, he was careful to create a buffer zone around himself, where only the people beneath him on the leadership pyramid actually did the dirty work of interacting with members and upholding whatever might be SGM’s teaching du jour.

    Somehow, the fact that CJ himself never actually counseled anyone, never actually engaged in anything messy with anyone, caused the bulk of SGM’s population to believe that he must have nothing to do with the bad leadership.

    Yet if you look at how careful so many SGM pastors were to mimic CJ’s style, and if you look at how SGM’s pastoral training was structured to guarantee cloning, we have to conclude that nothing happened within the organization unless CJ wanted it to happen. He may not have known all the nitty-gritty details of the various day-to-day operations at all SGM churches, but people close to him knew – and I believe they shared enough with him so that he had a fairly good idea of how his teachings and policies were playing out at the local level.

    I will hand it to CJ though – it was a stroke of genius to structure things so that he kept his hands as clean as he did.

  39. Kris says:

    James (in #34) quoted what Mary shared earlier from Carolyn Mahaney’s Feminine Appeal. I’m amazed that such a poor teaching has been embraced (or at the very least overlooked) by so many people, including people outside the SGM organization.

    For instance, here is an excerpt from Tim Challies’ review of the book:

    This book was a valuable read, even to one who has no feminine appeal! As I read I was challenged in the ways I understand my wife and was provided with much wisdom which I can share with her and even apply to my own life. I was given a greater appreciation for the precious gift God has given me in Aileen. I give this book my unreserved recommendation for men or women.

    You can read his full review here: http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/feminine-appeal#more

    How could someone like Mr. Challies, who otherwise has struck me as having a level of discernment, not notice such a weird, twisted reading of the Hannah story?

    I don’t get it.

  40. LetMyPeopleGo says:

    James #34…Oh my…there was so much perversion of Scripture done to controll and manipulate at my SG church. It’s why I finally left. In the excerpt you mentioned about Hannah…the thing is… if God wanted us to understand that Hannah was bitter, God would have come right out and said she was bitter. God never holds back the truth in Scripture. God says that Hannah was crying out of her anguish and grief. So that’s it. End of story. You can’t add to Scripture. You can’t rewrite it. Revelation warns against that, for goodness sakes.

  41. James says:

    Kris, #39, It’s quite possible he didn’t read the whole book. Which, either way, is still a knock against him.

    #38

    In the beginning, CJ made PDI…”Let us make pastors in my own image”…”It is not good for pastors to be alone, let us make care group leaders to help them herd the sheep”

    It’s true, I read it in my devos (er quiet time) this morning.

  42. Marge Sweigart says:

    James/LetMyPeopleGo/Kris – Also note that Carolyn declared that the word translated as sad in 1 Sam. 1:8 (ESV) is actually “bad” in Hebrew. Well, I looked it up in the lexicon, and it can mean bad, sad, or evil but it can also mean to be broken or to be broken in pieces. Young’s Literal Translation puts it this way: “and why is thy heart afflicted?” Seems to me that Carolyn cherry-picked the meaning to fit her agenda. What kind of husband would admonish his wife for having a broken heart? Good Lord!

  43. Stunned says:

    “Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.”

    With the cherry picking and twisting Carolyn did of that scripture, she could have just as easily taught that God was commanding us to eat when we are sad or grieving. Heck, I could obey that command any time.

  44. Stunned says:

    Marge asked, “What kind of husband would admonish his wife for having a broken heart?”

    Hmmm… CJ?

  45. Kris says:

    Stunned said,

    With the cherry picking and twisting Carolyn did of that scripture, she could have just as easily taught that God was commanding us to eat when we are sad or grieving. Heck, I could obey that command any time.

    Hahahahaha…

    This is so true!

    How is it that so many otherwise smart people could read (or hear) a teaching like Carolyn’s twisted take on Hannah and not see the error? The most casual reading of the story does not indicate anywhere that Hannah was rebuked for her feelings. If anything, it seems like the men in her life understood her grief and wanted to comfort her.

    I’ve seen this trend, though, with a lot of SGM teachings, particularly those that come from CJ. It’s like he tries really hard to put the most condemning spin possible on everything so he can seem extra tough on sin and the sinfulness of the human condition.

    Like when he did his Dearest/Happiest Place On Earth sermon. CJ had an entire spiel about how we need pastors to watch over our souls because we’ll be blind to our sin but they will see it. He offered up no scriptural support for this assertion. The only verse he read was the Hebrews verse about obeying and submitting to leaders. He then had to extrapolate from the “for they watch over your souls” bit to get the idea that pastors have unique abilities to discern sins in their members.

    These people impose their own agendas upon scripture…and nobody in their audiences questions them. Not even an “independent” non-SGM reviewer like Tim Challies.

    What a bizarre spell they’ve woven, to hypnotize people into blindly accepting their off-the-wall interpretations of otherwise well-known, well-understood scripture passages.

  46. Bridget says:

    Kris @ 45 –

    This is what happens when people do not think, read the scripture, and pray for themselves and simply “trust” pastor/pastor’s wife (fill in the blank) to be the Holy Spirit. Or, when one DOES do these things, and brings a different conclusion to pastor/pastor’s wife (or other “authorities), they are shot down because it doesn’t align with what (fill in the blank) believes. It should be called the “lockdown of the Holy Spirit.”

  47. Steve240 says:

    Seems to me that Carolyn cherry-picked the meaning to fit her agenda. What kind of husband would admonish his wife for having a broken heart? Good Lord!

    Well we know where Carolyn Mahaney learned how to pick the meaning to suit what she wanted to say; from her husband C.J. Mahaney. He does that often. Rather than try to learn the original intent of what the writer meant (going back to the Greek and Hebrew) he picks what suits him.

    Another good way to research that Hebrew word is look how that same word was translated elsewhere in the OT. That gives one an idea of the word’s true meaning.

  48. Whirlwind says:

    Here’s something I think Carolyn/SGM should observe about Hannah: “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.”

    So she came to the Lord in her “bitterness,” but instead of being rebuked by Eli, he comforted her! And instead of being ignored by God, the Lord heard her “prayer of bitterness” and rewarded her!

    Unfortunately, Carolyn (and a lot of SGM pastors) can only see clearly to rebuke those who are bitter instead of trying to offer comfort. Perhaps bitterness is a legitimate response to some of life’s circumstances? No, we can’t fit that into SGM’s theology.

  49. Foot says:

    FF #27 (in response to Argus) wrote:

    “As a former member of Grace Church Frisco, I would take issue with part of that statement. Craig is a nice guy, but a bureaucrat to the core. His resignation from the board strikes me as little more than self-preservation. He is a gifted orator, and is able to manipulate the thinking and emotions of his flock from the pulpit extremely well. A master of spin if I have ever heard one.”

    Yes, FF, very true and concise! As a former member of Grace Church San Diego while CC was senior pastor “A master of spin if I have ever heard one.” Of course CC was and is a master of spin, why do you think CC was on the SGM board?

    However…

    CC can only spin for so long before: deceitfulness takes its toll. Time to answer to the God of Truth, our Lord Jesus Christ! The TRUE Shepherd (John 10, Psalm 23) and HEAD of the Church!!! I think Argus is in for a surprise…

  50. Mary says:

    I think it was intentional on Carolyn’s part. When you look at every trusted version of the bible they all use a word to indicate sad or grief. And, Josh Harris also endorsed this book. Clearly, like Kris said these people either didn’t read it or they agree.

    Stunned number 44 – I like your thinking and humor – and btw my SGM husband would have too – so would many others that are totally sold into the SGM idea that emotions are sinful. I wonder what they think of “Jesus wept”…Good thing He was male or someone would have needed to admonish Him.