Dirty Little Secrets

January 9, 2008 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

When I put up this blog less than two months ago (I think the site is just about seven weeks old now), I had NO IDEA that there was a whole hidden part of Sovereign Grace Ministries about which my husband and I had known nothing.  All I thought I was doing was writing about our observations of what I’d termed SGM’s “cultural oddities.”

We hadn’t left our SG church because we’d “taken offense” to anything there.  We had (and continue to have) much love and respect for our pastors.  We just thought there ought to be some place online that explained how SG would seem to others like us – how SG might come across to someone who thought they were visiting just another Evangelical or Reformed church.

When we put up the site, we believed that SGM was just a “unique little denomination,” nothing more (and nothing less).  We didn’t know of anything that we’d be able to point to and say, “This is not right.”  We just had a lot of vague impressions and a sense that Sovereign Grace was not typical.  And we thought that unwitting SGM visitors or “seekers” should perhaps have another resource out there to let them know this.

But then the comments and the emails began pouring in.  And I have to say, my thoughts on just how well SGM actually practices the “orthodoxy” they claim to prize have been changing.

Here are just TWO of the MANY things that have been reported again and again in people’s stories:

  1. SGM actively discourages (and some have said, “does not permit,” or even, “FORBIDS”) non-pastor-led small group Bible studies.  Reasons given have been along the lines of, “Small group Bible studies will lead to doctrinal confusion,” or, “The people are not mature enough to engage in this activity.”  EDITED TO NOTE:  A STUDENT FROM SGM’S “PASTORS’ COLLEGE” HAS STATED THAT HIS CONGREGATION, AT LEAST, DOES “ALLOW” SMALL-GROUP BIBLE STUDIES.  YOU CAN SEE HIS ASSERTIONS IN THE “COMMENTS” SECTION, BEGINNING AT COMMENT #12.  THERE MIGHT BE SOME CONFUSION, HOWEVER, AS TO HOW WE ARE DEFINING “SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDIES.”
  2. Many within in SGM leadership take it upon themselves to offer up binding advice on subjects like members’ decisions about whether or not to move and when and whom to marry.

There are perhaps a hundred other alarming trends that many, many folks have taken the time to report and discuss here, but the two listed above are, in my experience, absolutely outside the bounds of a healthy, normal, and – most importantly – BIBLICAL church experience.

I am growing increasingly alarmed that the people reading and writing here appear to be the only ones who are concerned about SGM’s aberrations.  How is it possible that such Reformed luminaries like John MacArthur continue to be willing to share a platform with C.J. Mahaney, when Mahaney leads a group (in a manner that is, by all accounts, very active, involved, and “top-down”) that adheres to these unorthodox practices?

Why are Sovereign Grace Ministries and C.J. Mahaney only gaining MORE credibility, rather than being held accountable for these non-mainstream (and seemingly unscriptural) practices?

I’m baffled.  Does anybody else out there have an answer?

© 2008, Kris. All rights reserved.