Tim Challies Has No Room For Discernment Bloggers

It’s a funny thing – I don’t consider myself a “discernment blogger” or this site a discernment site.

I did, however, originally come to read Tim Challies back when he was writing pieces on Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven materials…which always made me think of him as a “discernment blogger.”  (Mr. Challies has written many articles about Rick Warren.  Here is a more recent one.)

Indeed, Tim Challies’ first book was entitled The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment.

But today we learn that Tim Challies no longer “has room” for discernment bloggers.  Why?  Well, because some weeks back, the Wartburg Watch ladies did a piece on Mr. Challies’ joint publishing venture with someone who was a longtime employee and member of Sovereign Grace Ministries…and made the (to me, logical) connection between that business relationship and Mr. Challies’ pretty obvious desire to give C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries every benefit of the doubt.

Reading Mr. Challies’ post today was a sort of surreal experience.  He throws a lot of words out there, many of which seem to accuse the people who discussed his business venture with the SGM guy of misrepresenting him.  He says,

Then they wrote about me. They wrote about my financial situation. They wrote “shocking” exposes and went rummaging through the digital trash to dig up the smoking guns. They did not just report (supposed) facts but also interpreted them. And then other blogs picked up the stories and carried them as well. And this clarified the situation for me. I wish my teacher here had been something nobler than personal attack, but sadly, and perhaps ironically, it was when I was in their crosshairs that they themselves came into sharper focus.

Because here’s the reality: So much of what they wrote about me had so little basis in reality. These bloggers misinterpreted even what is obvious, stretched what is true, assumed what is dubious, and fabricated the rest. They shared all of this with their readers as if it was based on verifiable facts, as if they were privy to details, as if it was anything more than conjecture.

But what’s interesting to me is that nowhere does Tim Challies actually explain what was inaccurate about what was written about him and his business venture.  I know he complains that people didn’t just report facts but also interpreted them…but since when are bloggers solely reporters?  Since when is it not OK to state an opinion, or make an inference based on facts and point out what seems obvious?

Unless Tim Challies specifies and explains otherwise, it is still no less certain that he was caught shading the truth.  The disclaimer with which he prefaced the article he wrote telling his audience how to “think biblically” about SGM – the disclaimer in which he asserted his total lack of relationship with C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries – conveniently neglected to mention that while he may not be bosom buddies with C.J., he actually does co-own a publishing house (Cruciform Press) with Kevin Meath.  Kevin Meath’s biography, as listed on the Cruciform Press site and quoted at Wartburg, clearly shows connections with SGM, SGM leaders, and other ministries closely associated with SGM:

Kevin has more than 25 years professional experience as an editor, including eleven years as chief editor for Sovereign Grace Ministries. He has worked on more than 40 book projects for the Christian market, and has edited for C.J. Mahaney, Paul Tripp, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, Joel Beeke, Richard D. Phillips, Scotty Smith, Dave Harvey, and many others. He has worked with Multnomah, Crossway, Reformation Trust, Shepherd Press, New Growth Press, Founders Press, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Revive Our Hearts, Focus on the Family, Desiring God, and others.

Instead of railing against “discernment bloggers,” it would have been much more effective for Mr. Challies to explain how it is that having a business partner with longstanding relationships with SGM would NOT have affected his own impartiality when it comes to what he tells people to think about SGM.  How, precisely, did the scorned “watchbloggers” misrepresent the facts?

I’d really like to know.  Mr. Challies, if you’d care to respond, I’d love to post your explanation.  Were the Wartburg ladies wrong in saying that you co-own Cruciform Press with Kevin Meath?  Is Mr. Meath’s biographical information on the Cruciform Press website inaccurate?

And can you truly not see how it looks to those of us outside the cozy world of conservative Christian publishing?  Can you truly not understand why it would make total sense for someone to connect the dots and say that if you’re trying to make it as a publisher of Christian books, you’re probably going to try much harder not to offend the guys who author many of those books?

Or were you just trying, again, to cloud matters for your readers?

If what the Wartburg people posted is not true, how was it inaccurate?


  1. Kris says:

    For the record, if you’re not particularly interested in discussing the side issue of Tim Challies, feel free to talk about other SGM-related topics.

    The question of what might motivate an otherwise discerning guy like Challies to tell people that “thinking biblically” about SGM means learning as little as possible about SGM’s problems and giving SGM’s leaders every benefit of the doubt is, nonetheless, relevant to SGM’s rise to influence. Mr. Challies has long been one of the “Reformed Taste-makers.” He shares a significant amount of responsibility for making people view SGM positively. He has written positively about SGM, SGM leaders, SGM books, and SGM music literally dozens (if not over a hundred) times on his blog. He is nothing if not an SGM promoter.

    People on the outside of SGM read the stuff Mr. Challies puts out and conclude that since they agree with his discernment on other issues, he must be right about SGM.

    This is at least partly how SGM has escaped any sort of outside criticism and accountability for so many years.

    This matters. It may seem silly, to those who don’t read Mr. Challies’ blog regularly. But it’s not. He’s a fairly big name in that little world, and his opinion counts. That’s why publishers send him copies of their books to review. What he says can drive sales.

    Again – this matters. It’s relevant. It might not appear to be, but it is.

  2. Bridget says:

    So is Mr. Challies railing against his own “discernment” as well or just the discernment of those who have a differing opinion from him and/or are not one of his buddies? Inquiring minds want to know . . .

  3. Foot says:

    Perhaps the Truth is standing right in front of Mr. Challies and he is caught in the PP (SGM) syndrome, “What is Truth?” (Jn 18: 33-38). Mr. Challies, it is not healthy to hold on to your PP syndrome. Your in the business of “marketing truth” but you can’t handle the Truth. We are waiting for your explanation, for all history to record, as what you have said and done before is already in the hopper…

  4. Kris says:

    Bridget said,

    So is Mr. Challies railing against his own “discernment” as well or just the discernment of those who have a differing opinion from him and/or are not one of his buddies?

    That’s one of the things I found pretty ironic myself. The guy apparently defines “discernment” as sharing what HE deems to be [his] “biblical” point of view on matters.

    But I’m just so curious – I want to know how the various bloggers misrepresented reality?

  5. Free to Seek Truth says:


    Are you suggesting that Mr. Challies come into the light by sharing the truth?

    John 3-

    19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

  6. Bridget says:

    Kris @ 3 –

    It is interesting that he waited a week or so to “seemingly” respond to a blog post about him, yet he didn’t give any concrete clarity about anything that was written regarding their claims. He just tells people not to listen. Sadly, it sounds very similar to the way SGM responds to critique — that and closing comments.

  7. Persona says:

    It would be more helpful if Challies shared the names of blogs he finds most offensive. Are they mostly the ones who have called him out personally?

    I think he is definitely treading on thin ice telling others what they can talk about and what they can read. In that, he might be an example of the ultimate ‘discernment blogger.’

  8. Steve240 says:

    The question of what might motivate an otherwise discerning guy like Challies to tell people that “thinking biblically” about SGM means learning as little as possible about SGM’s problems and giving SGM’s leaders every benefit of the doubt is, nonetheless, relevant to SGM’s rise to influence.

    So Challies defines “thinking biblically” as:

    – learning as little as possible about SGM’s problems
    – giving SGM Leaders every benefit of the doubt


    One way to use the word “biblically” to be another way of “believe the best” or ask do I really have any business knowing about this issue.

  9. Eagle says:

    Tim Challies really has lost credibility (or what little he had….) with this post. Really this is the good old boy network in full gear with people slapping each other on the back and covering each other’s ass. As a result ethics and transparency are out the window. I’m amazed…almost every industry I’ve worked in going back to college had some ethics training.

    From retail, to banking, to marketing there was ethics training and teaching about conflict of interest. Often times there were things you could not do, and it was made clear. At Washington Mutual Bank in California years ago 2 employees I worked with were fired for approving overdraft coverage for them self and doing transactions on their accounts. In the banking world that is a major no no, and we were trained on ethics regularly.

    My father was a physician and when he gave presentations at medical conferences he had to divulge any business relationships before he spoke. Also when he worked with pharmaceutical reps there were restrictions in place as to what he could accept gift wise, and what he could not.

    Here in Washington, D.C. I have friends that work in government. And there are many rules governing conflict of interest all across government. For example can you go work for the FAA and hold airline stock in United Airlines? No….you have to sell it before you are hired.

    So I find it quite amusing that Tim Challies can’t live up to that transparency about his business relationship, especially when it comes to giving his blessing to books published by a company he co-owns. I also find it laughable for a movement that talks so much about man’s sin and total depravity that they don’t get that THEY THEMSELF are sinful because Tim Challies doesn’t see how he is sinful with proceeding forward in reviewing books that his co-owned publishing company will profit from. So at the end of the day (I guess) for Tim the Reformed Industrial Complex has to keep rolling, and ethics are thrown out the window because he needs his publishing company to succeed…EVEN if its through un-ethical means. Makes me wonder who is Tim worshiping? God or money?

  10. Waters says:

    I have never heard the term “discernment bloggers” –is that created by Mr Challies?

    In reading his blog post, I do find it puzzling he did not take the opportunity to clarify any possible errors to the reports of his alignment with the same publisher as SGM, and any financial or personal bias that may entail. Since he writes a (public) blog, would he not EXPECT a public response from bloggers sounding the alarm about SGM? I am sorry some commenters were “crying out to hack my site and destroy it and threats of physical violence.” Surely, as a public blogger Mr Challies is a big boy and knows these types of threats donot represent the majority of bloggers who are crying out on behalf of mauled and wounded sheep?

    The blogs are a representation of “the everyday people”. For the most part, we are not those in leadership, writers, publishers, pastors—rubbing elbows with the other like-minded leadership people (who for the most part are oblivious, blind, or just don’t care about heresey and the mauling of Gods own).

    Mr Challies does NOT have a clue on WHY SGM blogs exist and their hearts cry to STOP abuse of Gods people, for he writes:
    “Where the Bible calls us to approach conflict with equal parts truth and love, discernment bloggers operate by lies and fear
    –or half-truths and fear at the very least. It is an intimidating combination if you are the one who may face their wrath.”
    Wow, talk about sweeeeeeping judgement!

    Francis Schaeffer stated “Truth brings confrontation”…..Jesus said He came to bring a sword (truth) which would even divide family members. Yep, sometimes, often times, the sword/the truth—EXPOSES all the defilement underneath, and the defilement area is not happy about being exposed.

    Does Mr Challies now pick up a stone and hurl the term “liar” against those who have TESTIFIED of their stories of spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse on the SGM blogs?? (and now in LEGAL proceedings in the COURTS of our land) And what exactly, is the so-called FEAR tactic supposedly employed by bloggers?
    Those who have taken COURAGE and counted the cost to stand up to the Pharisee leavened polluted spirit of SGM have counted the cost. Many have lost life-time ‘friends'; many have fractured families. Most are shunned by former fellow SGM congregants.

    What misrepresentation of reality is he talking about??? Why the judgemental name-calling of bloggers as LIARS and fearful?

    SGM survivors testify of what it has been to come out of SGM bondage and shadows, into the glorious light of Jesus Christ.
    BECAUSE of LOVE–love for Jesus; love for the Truth; love for Gods people; love for justice and righteousness — we bring to light, via the internet, the destructive pollution of Sovereign Grace Ministries.
    ~~~ Can you DISCERN this, Mr. Challies? Please revisit Eph 5:13 EXPOSURE brings DECEPTIONS into the LIGHT—

    Shall we be silent over deceptions and maulings perpetrated by Christian leaders in SGM???
    Or does scripture implore us to expose that which simmers in the darkness?
    Constantly, we are engaged in the battle for truth…battles arenot like playing tiddlywinks….it’s messy

  11. old timer says:

    Kris wrote, (This is at least partly how SGM has escaped any sort of outside criticism and accountability for so many years.

    This matters. It may seem silly, to those who don’t read Mr. Challies’ blog regularly. But it’s not. He’s a fairly big name in that little world, and his opinion counts. That’s why publishers send him copies of their books to review. What he says can drive sales.

    Again — this matters. It’s relevant. It might not appear to be, but it is.)

    You better believe it matters…..it’s just like when Oprah presented a book for her book club. It was an instant best seller…..same concept, smaller market with Mr. Challies.

  12. 5yearsinPDI says:

    Eagle #10:


    I never read his blog but I did read this one. How depressing. Not even the slightest admission that he realizes there was a conflict of interest in his former commentary on SGM and his relationship (or alleged lack thereof) with them.

  13. Julie Anne over at Spiritual Sounding Board has a really good post about the Challies’ post. http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/04/03/challies-rails-against-discernment-bloggers-fear-of-truth-exposed/

    I think it’s pretty ridiculous about how much the entire post by Challies comes across as whining and like he’s making himself the victim. I wish there wasn’t so much kissing ass going on among all of these big name men, and more of these men standing against SGM’s abuse.

  14. sb says:

    Challies has close guys to SGM I think in fact I had a conversation with him at New Attitude-when he was liveblogging

    Additional buddies of Challies:
    Tim Kerr is the pastor of the local Sovereign Grace church in Toronto:

    Here is Paul Martin Challies’ pastor referencing various SovGrace music-he’s a TMS guy but we know the relationship John MacArthur has had with Mahaney:

  15. JoyfulandFree says:

    No surprise here, one of my ex sgm pastors posted Mr. Challies post to his facebook page. What a great way to manipulate, cough, reinforce their stance on the evil blogs.

    So wish there was as passionate defense for all the wounded in their wake.

  16. Wanderer says:

    It’s the same with Tim Challies as with so many locked inside their echo chamber. Eventually the bubble bursts and reality floods in. Suddenly all the Gospel Coalition re-postings of each other’s support isn’t enough.

    Easy to ignore reality when just one or two people comment negatively on something he wrote. Delete that one “slanderous” comment or shut commenting off entirely. But when people don’t confront him on his blog anymore (where he can control the discourse) but take their discussion to other blogs and larger audiences, even he can’t deny the truth any longer – that Emperor CJ has no clothes, but a lot of lawSUITS (excuse the pun).

    Just another blogger who closed himself off from dialogue for so long that he couldn’t imagine anyone NOT thinking the way he and his fellow RBD’s do. I imagine at some point Carolyn and her daughters will post something similar.

  17. Another Joe says:

    I think this falls into the how dare you category for Tim. How dare you write negative material about me. How dare you question my teaching. How dare you put my financial future at risk by these accurate accusations.

  18. Waters says:

    Verrrrry interesting, JoyfulandFree — Betcha amny SGM pastors will post his article to their facebook (and maybe even the church blog). The mouths of the watchmen will always be a hindrance to the hidden control/pollution of SGM.

  19. @Waters, they already are. Kevin DeYoung already endorsed the article, and a few others.

  20. Eagle says:

    Someone should do is the following. You need to have someone who reads this blog and follows it create the following picture from photo shop.

    A picture to Tim Challies kissing CJ Mahnaey’s ass.

    Can you JUST imagine it? CJ giving that grin you always see in pictures bent over while you see Tim’s lips puckered up and smacking (yes you can make fun of that word too in the process) CJ’s ass.

    After Tim’s last post I think it’s very appropriate. It would be hysterical as well.

  21. Persona says:

    #20 Funny how they all try and police the internet. Forget it guys. Burning books failed too. Oppressive behavior always boomerangs on the oppressor.

  22. Res Ipsa says:

    I don’t want to derail the conversation but just wanted to thank those of you who responded to my post on the last topic. I wasn’t ignoring you – just haven’t been online. I appreciate your thoughts!

  23. Bridget says:

    Wanderer –

    The “Girls” are still busy reminding everyone how important it is to inhale the Sunday sermon (Daddy’s?). They’ve been in that kick for about a month now.

  24. Fruit Flavored says:

    Apparently Josh Harris is still with Team Challies. Josh posted the following yesterday on Facebook concerning his book, “Humble Orthodoxy”:

    “A good review from @challies means a lot because if he doesn’t like your book he won’t hesitate to be honest.”

  25. Little Sheep says:

    If Mr. Challies is guilty of anything …the Lord will deal with him as the scriptures teach …”those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” If Mr. Challies isn’t, there’s been a lot of hurtful & accusatory things said here that sound more like hatred than love. I don’t know what the truth is ..but Christ does & our scriptural obligation is restore one who has fallen into sin, not bury them & leave them for dead. Mr. Challies is no heretic, he espouses the essentials of the Christian faith & his brothers & sisters in Christ ought to be praying for him & all the SGM men who have fallen into error. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

  26. 5yearsinPDI says:

    We really need to be in prayer for this nation, and those called to political action need to be vigilant. The depravity and darkness are growing.


    Culture, Education, Government, Health, Op-Ed
    Pedophilia Is A Sexual Orientation Under CA Bill
    Posted by Lisa AFebruary 7, 2013

    582California Congresswoman, Rep. Jackie Speier CA (D), wants to federalize a state law to prohibit counseling to change a person’s sexual orientation. That doesn’t sound that extreme, but pedophilia is a sexual orientation according to this bill as well.

    Under the bill’s language, a mental health counselor could be sanctioned if there was an attempt to get a pedophile or gay individual to change his behavior or speak negatively about their behavior as it relates to sexuality.

    The bill calls on states to prohibit efforts to change a minor’s sexual orientation, even if the minor requests it, saying that doing so is “dangerous and harmful.”

    The text of the legislation doesn’t specifically ban “gay” conversion therapy. Instead, it prohibits attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation.

    “Sexual orientation change efforts’ means any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation,” the bill says.

    Republicans attempted to add an amendment specifying that, “pedophilia is not covered as an orientation.” However, the Democrats defeated the amendment. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) stated that all alternative sexual lifestyles should be protected under the law, and accordingly decided that pedophilia is a sexual orientation that should be equally as embraced as homosexuality.

    “This language is so broad and vague, it arguably could include all forms of sexual orientation, including pedophilia,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute. “It’s not just the orientation that is protected—the conduct associated with the orientation is protected as well.”

    Who Cares If Pedophilia Is A Sexual Orientation?
    It also means that, if pedophilia is a sexual orientation, that discrimination laws also apply to pedophiles. That means you cannot block a pedophile from being a preschool teacher or any other high-risk occupation.

    Recently, a United States District Court Judge, William Shubb, sided with Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) by granting their plaintiffs a preliminary injunction against the legislation, which is known as California SB 1172.

    “Because the court finds that SB 1172 is subject to strict scrutiny and is unlikely to satisfy this standard, the court finds that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims based on violations of their rights to freedom of speech under the First Amendment,” wrote Judge Shubb.

    “This victory sends a clear signal to all those who feel they can stifle religious freedom, free speech, and the rights of parents without being contested,” said PJI President, Brad Dacus. “We at PJI are ready to fight this battle all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

    “This will be a long, grueling battle with tremendous consequences for generations to come. We are grateful to those who are willing to support us in this critical time to preserve our freedoms and protect our children,” he continued.

    Thankfully, for the time being, this legislation has been blocked, but many questions still remain.

    This bill establishes a dangerous precedent for normalizing the behavior of pedophiles while stripping parents of their rights and peace of mind.

    One can certainly make the argument that homosexuals are “born that way,” and we generally would not dispute that. However, when we have legislators that want to extend the “born that way” defense to pedophiles, this crosses a very dangerous line.

    Whether a pedophile is born that way or not, it still does not make their behavior acceptable in any way.

    If so, then you could declare rapists are “born that way.” They can’t help that they need to rape! Poor them!

    Let’s be real.

    Sex between an adult and a child too young to understand what is going on is not the same thing as sex between two consenting adults.

    The operative word here is “consenting.” Children—by both law and basic common sense—cannot “consent.” If Jackie Spier had a son or daughter, and an adult “had consensual sex” with him or her, we do not believe that what she would be so adamant about protecting them.

    What liberals conveniently ignore is the fact that all societies who participated in pedophilia—such as the Hittites, Canaanites, Greeks, and Romans—eventually caved in on themselves due to corruption and depravity.

    Further, let’s not also forget that their favorite form of entertainment was watching people get torn to shreds by lions, hacked to death, and burned alive.

    Recognizing sexual ‘orientation’ is walking a razor’s edge. Unlike gay-oriented legislation, pedophilia has victims who must be protected.

    We don’t put pedophiles in prison to make them stop being pedophiles; we put them there because they threaten the safety of the most vulnerable people in a society.

  27. Oswald says:

    Eagle @21 — Your comment is one of those that hinders credibility. Can’t you just hear someone saying, “See, this is the kind of comments ‘they’ make. ‘They’ are not thinkers, ‘they’ are just childish, looking for fun”.

  28. Kris says:

    “Little Sheep” said,

    If Mr. Challies is guilty of anything …the Lord will deal with him as the scriptures teach …”those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” If Mr. Challies isn’t, there’s been a lot of hurtful & accusatory things said here that sound more like hatred than love.

    I’m curious – have you left (or attempted to leave) a similar directive for Mr. Challies, with respect to the unkind and sweeping judgments he made against an entire group of people (“discernment bloggers”)?

  29. Eagle says:

    @ Oswald….

    Ever hear of satire? Read the political comics in the Washington Post or other newspapers? I do often….

    Take a read through some of these. Better yet if you want to read some really hard…look at some of the political comics during the Bill Clinton era. You can google those….


    The fact of the matter is they can say what they want, but in the neo-reformed movement you have Drisocll speaking about oral sex, anal sex, etc… It’s hard to get any lower than what Driscoll says. They don’t have high moral ground. They never have. And with each passing day they cede it to Julie Ann Smith and Dee Parsons and Deb Marten. And against all that you have this lawsuit growing, and growing, and growing.

    I’d be hopeful. They are grasping for straws.

  30. Kris says:

    As I said already – but feel like repeating – I am really curious to know which part of what the Wartburg ladies (and whatever other “discernment bloggers” Challies has stuck in his craw) was not true?

    If anyone knows, please tell me. I’d be happy to post a clarification.

  31. Oswald says:

    @Eagle — Maybe it’s just that I am extremely old.

  32. Persona says:

    Kris #31

    It seems to me that Challies is saying that ALL the statements made about him were erroneous in some way. He didn’t seem to agree with any of them but, of course he didn’t make clear what the statements were or where they could be found.

    I don’t follow Challies and I don’t really know why anyone would. Maybe someone can explain to me how he got where he is?

    I do remember CJ and Josh dropping his name. But, I wasn’t looking for Challies’ endorsements so I guess I never really knew who he was or where he came from.

    But, I do bristle at him trying to dictate what I read or the blogs I follow. The nerve!

  33. musicman says:


    Your post is incorrect about the bill and the Congresswoman. Nowhere in the bill does it mention pedophilia and it exempts therapy for unlawful acts (which would include pedophilia).

    You can read the text of the bill here : http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120SB1172

    From the bill:

    “2) “Sexual orientation change efforts” does not include psychotherapies that: (A) provide acceptance, support, and understanding of clients or the facilitation of clients’ coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices; and (B) do not seek to change sexual orientation.”

  34. Todd Wilhelm says:

    One can only hope that Tim Challies, the doctor of discernment, has a better grasp of spiritual discernment than he does of history. While quickly skimming his book, “The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment”, I found the following on page 12:

    “It was 1945 and the world was at war. Adolf Hitler, the man responsible for beginning the conflict, was dead, having taken his own life in his mountain fortress.”

    Last time I checked Hitler killed himself in his bunker in Berlin! http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Where_did_Adolf_Hitler_die

    Also, just inside the front cover of Challies’ book on discernment were recommendations by the usual inner circle of elite neo-Calvinist authors and serial conference speakers – Ligon Duncan; R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Mark Dever.

    Mark Dever stated he read all of the book (May I therefore surmise many of his endorsements are based on partial reads?) and that he found it accurate! I may not be the most discerning guy, but I am left thinking these endorsements are the modern day equivalent of Tetzel selling indulgences to ignorant laity. Perhaps it’s time for another Reformation!

    “If you want to be discerning, buy this book; if you read it, you will be! Tim Challies has written on a topic that is both important and rarely addressed. This book on discernment is simple, clear, well written and well illustrated, accurate, and even insightful. I read it all. I liked it all. I will recommend it often. Ten pithy chapters – read one a day for ten days, and I guess that you’ll find yourself more discerning – or at least wanting to be.”
    -Mark Dever, pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC

  35. seeking truth says:

    If Mr. Challies didn’t want to be seen in a negative way, perhaps he shouldn’t have defended a group of people who are in the middle of a lawsuit. It’s just common sense. Don’t associate yourself with those who have major character flaws and expect others not to second guess your character or motives in why you would defend someone such as Mahaney/SGM. Especially when you are benefited financially when they do well.

  36. Kris says:

    “seeking truth” said,

    Don’t associate yourself with those who have major character flaws and expect others not to second guess your character or motives in why you would defend someone such as Mahaney/SGM. Especially when you are benefited financially when they do well.

    Very well-said!

    I was thinking of how interesting it is that Challies apparently sees no discrepancy between his new intolerance for “discernment bloggers” and his own blogging endeavors.

    Persona asked how it is that Challies came to prominence. Well, way back when it seemed like EVERY church was suddenly doing a “40 Days of Purpose” campaign, and changing very significantly to draw more people into the campaign, Mr. Challies wrote a series of posts about the theological weaknesses and problems in Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven materials. This was back in probably 2004 or so – very early in Challies’ blogging career.

    I happened to stumble upon this series of posts because my parents’ church was in upheaval after embracing the Purpose-Driven approach. At the same time, I was in a Bible study that was using The Purpose-Driven Life, and I’d had a lot of discomfort with elements in the book – particularly how Warren appeared to go translation-shopping, quoting from a whole bunch of different Bible translations (one or two I’d never even heard of) in order to find those that made the verses say what he wanted them to say. He plucked verses out of context, apparently having searched for key words that would coordinate with whatever principle he was trying to convey.

    It was alarming to me, to observe how the Purpose-Driven stuff had swept through Evangelicalism like a tidal wave…especially because the overall message seemed to be more about making the Bible fit Warren’s agenda rather than the other way around.

    Anyway, I went looking online for information about the Purpose-Driven movement. Was I crazy for my reservations? I wondered if anyone else thought the use of multiple random Bible translations (and honestly, the frequent scripture-twisting, as very often the verses didn’t even support the points Warren was trying to make, if you read the verses in context in a common translation) was of concern.

    So I stumbled upon Challies’ materials and really appreciated the way he wrote about the topic. He seemed even-handed and just…nice in how he approached his critique. Yet he also did not hesitate to pull punches where necessary.

    In my view, Challies has always been more of a “discernment blogger” than anything else. He’s probably most well-known for his book reviews, where he typically explains to his audience how this or that book fits in with a biblical worldview.

    What else is that, if it’s not “discernment blogging”?

    Because Tim Challies’ book reviews are honestly overall very thorough and usually sensible (if you’re someone who cares about the specifics of what the Bible says), it didn’t take long for him to make a name for himself as someone whose opinion represented the thoughtful Christian who takes the Bible seriously. I myself found that if Challies said a book was a worthwhile read, I usually agreed with him. Likewise, there were books I’d read and hadn’t really appreciated, and when I’d read his reviews of those books, I’d find that his opinion was roughly the same as mine had been.

    Aside from the fact that I’ve ended up spending five years trying to sound the alarm about SGM’s weirdness and abuses, I probably am pretty typical of Mr. Challies’ fan base.

    That’s why I naïvely assumed, way back in early 2008, that if I just told Mr. Challies what I’d learned about SGM, he’d take a closer look at them and eventually stop recommending them and their materials so enthusiastically.

    In a way, I think Mr. Challies ought to be flattered that his lack of discernment over the SGM debacle had been such a puzzle to me until his real relationships with SGM were disclosed. My puzzlement is evidence of just how much respect I’d had for his wisdom and discernment. It was almost a relief to realize that there were logical reasons why he seemed so stubbornly blind to SGM’s problems, why he seemed so very determined to give his non-friend CJ every benefit of the doubt.

  37. old timer says:

    Ahhh….discernment…The ability to judge well. Synonyms include discrimination – perspicacity and acumen.

    The Bible gives us discernment when we read and apply the Scriptures to our lives. The Holy Spirit gives us discernment when we hear Him and follow where He leads us. And Jesus gives us discernment when we pattern our lives after Him and the way He lived.

    We can, and do know the truth, when we compare it to what religious men portray as the truth. And if anyone remembers, it was the religious men that Jesus was so angry with….never the people.

    Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

    If these men showed compassion, mercy, justice and grace to the ‘little people’, like they do to each other, the blogs would not be needed.

  38. Kris says:

    Something else I was thinking about…

    I’ve come to think these Reformed guys like Challies judge everything according to what a preacher/ministry claims to stand for doctrinally. If the ministry’s statement of faith aligns with his own, and if the ministry’s teachings seem to be in agreement with its statement of faith, almost nothing else matters.

    In SGM’s case, they’ve also got their extreme “graciousness” going for them. SGM leaders (CJ in particular) really come across as self-effacing. They also are masters at flattering those whom they want to impress. As we’ve said many times, SGM pastors just know how to seem nice. Like über-nice.

    So I totally understand how someone on the outside of SGM – particularly someone on the outside of SGM whom SGM’s leaders want to impress and then use for their own purposes – could be deceived. Statement of faith? Check! Everyone is super-nice? Check! Everyone says all the right things? Check! Everyone is tripping all over themselves to suck up to me? Check!

    As we’ve also discussed, SGM leaders are amazingly skilled at seeming to take questions and concerns seriously – without ever actually acknowledging any hard facts to their questioners. I can imagine that if someone like Challies ever did actually muster up the courage to ask his non-friend CJ about the organization’s present woes, CJ would respond in a way that would both soothe whatever concern Challies might have had while totally shutting down further questioning.

    No, it does not surprise me that someone whose career is so dependent on remaining in the good graces of those within CJ’s sphere would be so eager to believe the best about him and SGM…and believe the worst about those who try to tell him he’s deceived. The deck is completely stacked against SGM’s critics.

    But the truth will prevail. I almost feel sorry for these guys. Eventually they will know what a huge mistake they made in aligning themselves with SGM.

  39. annie says:

    old timer said:

    “If these men showed compassion, mercy, justice and grace to the ‘little people’, like they do to each other, the blogs would not be needed.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. Thank you, old timer. I wish the big dogs were listening.

  40. Diego says:

    1 Tim 6:5 …imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
    Isn’t it convenient that Challies is a gateway of booksales for not only SGM, the NeoCalvin Big Dogs, Josh…

    Did not matter that SGM presented an incomplete Gospel. T4G, Transfer, conferences, conferences, conferences. CHA-CHING… Just trust Challies critique of your latest book. If he says it’s good, it’s got to be good.

    Not sure that spiritual discernment is found in these men using godliness as a means of gain. So easy for these ambitious men to loose sight of the sheep. Good news is that God does not care about their latest book, except to the fact that it takes away from His Book. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to read a book review that reads: Author shows a remedial understanding of scripture. It would be best for him to spend more time in personal prayer and personal study of God’s Word. Encourage those who may purchase this book do the same as well.

  41. Jenn Grover says:

    I believe Tim Challies’ outrage is genuine. He genuinely believes he has been maligned. He genuinely believes he has no vested interest in SGM. That is the very nature of bias.

    I have said it before and I will say it again. The leaders of the neo-reformed movement of today have essentially become a “mutual admiration” society and view any attack on them as an attack on the gospel. They overlook significant differences and blindly defend each other.

    I give John McAurthur and Michael Horton credit: at least they are honest where they disagree. I am not at all a fan, but I find John McAurthur’s views expressed in this video very revealing of why CJ has abandoned his charismatic roots: http://youtu.be/mY8TOHPUQgo.

    In some ways, if CJ dies the symbolic martyr’s death, meaning he gets poor treatment, at the hands of charismatics, he is likely to be esteemed even more by some of these guys.

  42. old timer says:

    Diego, Hahaha…that would be the day when a book review like that is written.

    I think these men have set themselves up as authorities when they didn’t have the maturity level to write what they did.

    People, and I used to be one of those, run to men and want to ingest what they think, before they run to God or the Bible. And that causes all kinds of discernment problems when we get tossed to and fro from men’s doctrine to men’s doctrine. 1 Cor 8;1 Knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Because they read and read and read they think they know it all– they are puffed up on knowledge, it fills their head with delusions of grandeur and gives them an erroneous belief that what they say is correct while everyone else is incorrect.

    No opinion matters but theirs….or those who think like them.

    It seems as if they are motivated by selfish ambition and vanity and that’s why other people are not esteemed more highly than themselves. Phil 2:3

    And if they would happen to read this they would be self righteous and believe that it doesn’t apply to them.

    Better to be an uneducated illiterate who hears and follows the Lord than someone who reads 100 books a year. Ecces 12:12 Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

    And don’t forget there is nothing new under the sun anyway.

  43. Jenn Grover says:

    I am totally disgusted by the spiritual pride McAurthur exhibits in that video. I say, that knowing that I, and guessing most of us, have that same pride that we are blind to, towards some group. But, McAurthur seems to believe that the gifts God gives are earned based on the quality of your theology. There is only biblical evidence of this to the contraire. But, I think it is very revealing.

  44. Rose says:

    In Christ, we actually can have all of truth and all of love at the same time. We don’t need to use them in “equal parts.”

  45. 5yearsinPDI says:

    music man…..thank you for the clarification. I saw this linked at a reputable site, and they were not begging for money, so I assumed its accuracy :) Sorry if the conclusions are false.

    Actually, I have read elsewhere about attempts within the licenced Psychiatric community to establish pedophila as an acceptable normal, and it was highly controversial among their peers (for obvious reasons). It does seem like the culture is degrading, no doubt partly due to the pervasive accessibility of p0rn with the internet, so lets pray for a harvest of souls.

    Thanks again.

  46. Persona says:

    Jenn 44

    MacArthur’s accusations seem fear-based to me.

    He did not convince me that the charismatic movement is the main reason the church is in the ‘mess’ it is in today. There is enough excesses in all mainline denominations, that he should not throw stones at just one.

    A whole lot of people came to faith during the Jesus movement and much of that was through charismatic ministries. He can’t deny that there is much good fruit during the height of that era. I personally witnessed healings and experienced them myself as well as many other manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

    Also, does he not know he is also guilty of “personalty elevation” in his own ministry?

  47. Jeff says:

    Challies – “On a few occasions I have said something, or neglected to say something, that has caused them to write an article about me. But then several weeks ago I wrote something that brought about an explosive reaction. Suddenly these bloggers were picking apart the meaning of my every word, taking stock of my deepest motives, and even writing with confidence about the state of my finances. Some of their commenters were crying out for people to hack my site and destroy it. A few were expressing themselves in profanity and threats of physical violence. It was intimidating, but also very clarifying.”

    Continue to pick the guy apart if that is your thing and you just can’t stop it, but consider the way “Christians” have been treating their brother in the Lord.

  48. JoyfulandFree says:

    So how about the “christian” pastors who have allowed more children to be sexually abused in their churches because they failed to report. Or how about the “christian” pastors who counselled abused women they had to stay with their abusive husbands. Or how about the “christians” who continue to defend those who don’t need defending while they shun those who have been abused and hurt by them. Oh yeah, I forgot, once I leave sgm I am no longer considered a brother or a sister. I don’t count.

  49. Michael says:

    Jeff, if indeed he has received threats of physical violence–apart from a spanking, which I think would be good for him–I don’t condone that. But everything else that he mentions is merited. If my brother in the Lord starts acting like a deplorable jerk, I’m gonna call his attention to it and tell him that he needs to cut it out. I don’t give a toss if it makes him feel bad.