Statements…From SGM’s Board, Josh Harris, Brent Detwiler, And A Couple of Commenters

July 13, 2011 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

The board of Sovereign Grace Ministries released the following statement today:

Last week we announced that C.J. Mahaney would be taking a temporary leave of absence from his position as President of Sovereign Grace Ministries. This leave was intended to create a fair and open process of evaluation for C.J. and the ministry and was not intended to be disciplinary. We assumed that the charges against him would remain private and that following the evaluation period, we would be able to announce publicly an independent evaluation panel’s findings.

Since our announcement Brent Detwiler sent his accusations against C.J. and Sovereign Grace to all Sovereign Grace pastors. His material has also been published on the internet. Brent sent his material to the Sovereign Grace pastors despite repeated appeals that he engage C.J. and Sovereign Grace through the agency of an independent mediator, and if he refused to do that, to simply meet with an independent evaluation panel so they could examine his charges without C.J. or Sovereign Grace present to respond.

In light of the fact that C.J. has now been publicly accused with no opportunity to defend himself, the board of Sovereign Grace has made the following resolutions.

  1. That Brent Detwiler’s refusal to participate in mediation with C.J. Mahaney—unless Mahaney first agrees (a) to publish an extensive written response to each of Detwiler’s accusations and (b) to make a public confession prior to any mediation or impartial evaluation of his charges—is unjust and constitutes a denial of biblically grounded due process for a qualified minister of the gospel (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Timothy 5:19-20, Proverbs 25:9).
  2. That Brent Detwiler’s distribution of written accusations against C.J. Mahaney to all Sovereign Grace pastors constitutes the public slander of Mahaney’s reputation.
  3. That the board of Sovereign Grace Ministries has reviewed Brent Detwiler’s documents accusing C.J. Mahaney of sinful practices in the conduct of his ministry and finds no reason at this time to deem him unfit for ministry. However, the board will reevaluate Mahaney’s fitness after receiving formal evaluation of the accusations lodged against him (see below). The board acknowledges that sins have been committed but also recognizes and appreciates Mahaney’s eagerness to confess sins, pursue reconciliation with Detwiler, and pursue personal holiness and growth as a minister.
  4. That C.J. Mahaney is a qualified minister of the gospel and this board approves his pastoral and teaching ministry in Sovereign Grace and the wider body of Christ.
  5. That Sovereign Grace Ministries will engage a process of evaluation regarding CJ Mahaney’s fitness for ministry.

A preliminary panel will examine confessions that Mahaney has already made to determine if at present he is qualified to be a pastor and the president of Sovereign Grace. In light of the public defamation of his character, this is to be done with all deliberate speed. The board deems this preliminary panel necessary to show that while it has concluded that Mahaney is fit for ministry, other temporary outside evaluation is necessary either to lend credibility to its assessment or to make changes this panel deems necessary.

A second panel will commence work concurrent with the first. It will consist of members of an independent conciliation ministry with no ties to Sovereign Grace. This panel will create a process for examination of the outstanding charges against Mahaney and create and lead a process for a fair hearing of those charges to determine if they are true or false. The board will then seek review and comment from qualified pastors with a good reputation in the body of Christ who are not directly associated with the ministry. The board will then make a determination of appropriate action in light of the panel’s findings and the advice of the above pastors.

Dave, Aron, Craig, Jeff, John, Mark, Mickey, Pete, Rick, and Steve

EDITED TO ADD:  Brent Detwiler gives the following response to the Sovereign Grace Ministries board’s statement:

I worked extremely hard to only include factual information that could be substantiated by primary source material.  I didn’t rely on memory but on notes, minutes, recordings and documents.  In each of my writings, I’ve repeatedly asked C.J. and the SGM Board to correct any factual error (see Concluding Remarks, pp. 193-198).  They have not done so.  I am very glad to correct my documents where they are shown to be in error.  That has been my position from the beginning.  I don’t want to be a false witness in any fashion.  In all my writings, I strove to be a truthful witness.  Proverbs 12:17 – “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.”  But thus far they have made no attempt to prove falsity.   I continue to welcome any and all adjustments from the SGM Board.  I’ve only asked that their criticisms not be based on memory alone.  Their recollections need to be corroborated by supporting documents.  Hearsay evidence (he said/she said) is no evidence.  Moreover, I think you could remove all of my personal correspondence and a strong case remains with regard to the seriousness of C.J.’s sins.  For instance, look at the official notes recorded by Bob Kauflin on August 20, 2004 at that most critical of meetings (see Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, pp. 16-28).   I’d also point to Dave Harvey’s assessment of C.J.’s hypocrisy (see Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, pp. 29-30).  These are just two examples among many others.

Josh Harris had this, entitled Critics and Assyrians, to say on his own blog:

Last week I preached from Hebrews 12:1-11 called “The Father’s Discipline.” The point of the message is that God disciplines us because he loves us, that his discipline hurts, and that we must be trained by it. Instead of doubting God’s love, we should see that he is treating us as sons and daughters.

But I want to amend something I said in that message. At one point I compared people criticizing our church to the Assyrians who attacked the people of Israel. I wanted to make the point that even people who seem like enemies (and who use methods we don’t appreciate) can be used by God in his loving discipline. Afterwards two fellow pastors pointed out that it wasn’t fair to compare fellow-Christians who disagree with our church to a pagan invading enemy army. I realize now that they’re right and I should have more carefully qualified (or just left out) the statement.

So, to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with my books on dating, or who have disagreements or concerns for my church or for Sovereign Grace Ministries, I want to clearly state that I don’t view you as enemies. And I’m grateful that many of you have expressed the same sentiment to me. I pray that in the days to come we will all grow in civility, in listening, in gentleness and in honoring the Lord with speech that builds up (even when we disagree.)

Brent Detwiler wanted to pass this on to our readers here:

I want to thank everyone for their prayers and concerns including Jim, Kris and Guy.  Survivors and Refuge have been used of God to get the attention of SGM.  People have been hurt by us.  There are problems that need to be fixed and sins that need to be acknowledged.  If you have written me, please pardon me if I am slow to respond.  I’ve been inundated with messages and I am trying to keep my focus on private appeals to SGM.  And as you can imagine, I’ve been attacked from many sides but I’ve also been encouraged by many dear folks – including some I’ve sinned against in the past like Canary.  Please write me if you fell I’ve harmed you in the past.  I may not be able to respond quickly but I’d love to hear from you.

Finally, here is an exchange between two commenters – “curious” and “just saying…”:

“curious” asked,

When will you be satisfied? What needs to happen so that this site shuts down and you all move on in your own lives? What needs to take place so you can flourish in a local church rather than tracking down information about your former “cult” leader/pastor C.J. Mahaney?

“just saying…” replied,

It is not about bitterness and anger.  It is about the need to hear Truth.

We need someone in authority to say, “This was wrong and God did not do it to you.”  When you are rejected by the only church you thought was right, by the only leaders you thought truly represented God, it is as if God rejected you.  Although some people here have found liberty and restored their relationship with God by hearing others on the blog tell them over and over again that this was wrong and God did not do this, some of us are still enslaved by the opinions of the leaders we followed and can’t get past it.

We needed JH to stand up there and say this was wrong.  We needed Al Mohler and outside parties to investigate what really happened to everyday members that vanished.  We need someone we respect to renounce all that happened to us.  We need it in order to ever think we can approach God again.

I was so completely encouraged by Josh Harris on Sunday night.  I was so completely demolished by Al Mohler and friends supporting CJ without knowing any of the facts. It is so excruciatingly painful to have friends vocally expressing blind support for CJ and attacking the victims.  It’s like going through it all over again…only the whole church body is doing it to you.


© 2011, Kris. All rights reserved.