Sovereign Grace, CJ, and the SBC

From a story covered in April’s Ministry Briefing Digest:

CJ Mahaney seems to have become a bit of a lightning rod of late. The founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries has been through the wringer of late, as SGM is embroiled in turmoil with churches leaving, and an ongoing child sexual abuse lawsuit.

Piling on top of all this is SGM co-founder Brent Detwiler calling on the Southern Baptist Convention leadership to distance themselves from Mahaney until the sexual abuse lawsuit is over. Detwiler says:

Some of the greatest preachers in America have enabled C.J. in his sin when they should have been confronting his sin and taking action. These men continuously promote one another’s books, conferences, ministries and celebrity status. It looks like a mutual admiration society, and it often leads to a double standard of living.

Today we discuss the story, and how leaders should interact with others who are in the midst of controversies like this one.

How do YOU publicly interact with leaders in these situations?

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Original story


  • Charley April 4, 2013 Reply

    This is a great problem. Often we look at the outside, and won’t look beneath the surface. we are dazzled by the golden image

  • Gary Sweeten April 4, 2013 Reply

    After reading the unbiblical public attacks of one Pastor on other Pastors in violation of the commands of Jesus to only do such things in private I am even happier that I left the SBC fold many years ago. What shallow nonsense emanates from so much of their writing.

  • Gary Sweeten April 4, 2013 Reply

    Detwiler is in violation of Mt 18:15 ff. He has no standing in this case. You guys are offering no real guidance but simply adding your own opinions from personal experience. I will not buy this stuff it is way too weak.

  • Julie Anne April 5, 2013 Reply

    Gary – It is commonly known that Brent Detwiler did apply Mt 18 in this situation. Over 20 SGM churches have now severed ties with SGM in recent months due to these issues. Have you read this?

  • peter lumpkins April 5, 2013 Reply

    Gary & Todd

    I appreciate the focus on this issue. As a SBC pastor, I have substantial reservations about Mahaney remaining in the speaking circuit among SBC entities. As for individual churches in the SBC, while I wouldn’t do it myself, each church can make up its own mind. Entities are different, however. Until this fiasco is settled in the justice system, we don’t need to be promoting him amongst our ministries.

    Thanks again…
    Peter Lumpkins,
    SBC Tomorrow

  • David Thompson April 5, 2013 Reply

    You describe the charges against SGM as being related to “sexual allegations” and “sexual misconduct”. In my mind that could be understood as a pastor having an inappropriate relationship with the secretary.

    To be clear, the detailed charges against SGM concern pedophiles sexually violating very young children.

    In response SGM churches allegedly called on those involved to not call the police, arranged for “reconciliation” meetings between the perpetrators and the children and where the children were asked to forgive, and are claiming first amendment rights to avoid investigation into what happened.

    The fact that children were molested is not contested. The SBC, T4G, and GC have spoken up in support of Mahaney, but remained silent in regard to the children.

  • iris April 7, 2013 Reply

    If CJM et al do not see the propriety of removing themselves temporarily from preaching, speaking, etc., until the lawsuit, at least, is resolved, those with the authority to take them off of said lists, should do so, whether it hurts their wallets or perceived standing in their respective circles or not. horizontal worship? Their blind support of each other in deference to doctrinal position hurts the body of Christ, hurts the victims, past and present, and grieves the Holy Spirit. Let God work through the court systems, since personal pleas for justice were rebuffed consistently.

  • Gary Sweeten April 7, 2013 Reply

    The Matthew 18 process does not suggest broadcasting gossipy things to the world. I am not suggesting that anyone be promoted by anyone else but when I was a Baptist each congregation was independent and free to invite whomever they wish.

    Every person is innocent until proven guilty.

  • Are You Kidding? April 7, 2013 Reply

    CJ took a half dozen of the most prominent founding pastors of his home church Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg and fled with no explanation to the 3000 members who have supported him and his ministry for nearly four decades, dividing relationships and families. Before entering the speaking circuit or writing books, he needs to apologize to the church he abandoned. How could pastors leave the flock they led in such a hurtful way?

  • Rosalee April 8, 2013 Reply

    “Innocent until proven guilty” is a legal concept that places the burden on the prosecution. Matthew 18 was followed to no avail; now, the process is at the “take it to the church” stage. In other words, the prosecution is presenting evidence. Please do not equate “innocent until proven guilty” with a pronouncement of innocence by a court.

    There is a lawsuit; it is a civil procedure, not a criminal procedure. There is no innocence or guilt pronounced. The court will find “for” or “against” the plaintiffs or defendants.

    If you have never been in a high-pressure, hyper-authoritarian church setting, count your blessings.

    Most of the Baptists I know at the local level wouldn’t know Mr. Mahaney from Adam, and I hope it stays that way. The church needs more of Jesus, and less of celebrity preachers.

    Thank you.

  • steve240 April 10, 2013 Reply

    Another point that need to be mentioned is that C.J. Mahaney blackmailed Larry Tomczak and hid this sin for over 10 years. When this fact came out (shown in the documents Brent Detwiler compiled) SGM Leadership decide that this didn’t disqualify C.J. Mahaney from being a leader.

    It is just baffling how someone can claim that this was not a reason to disqualify Mahaney.

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