Disappointments with C.J.’s Pastor’s conference speech

Yesterday I read with anticipation the transcript of C.J. Mahaney’s speech to the Pastor’s conference. (You can read it here) Sadly my anticipation turned into disappointment and even grief as I read what I can only categorize as an “explanation”. Let me first off state that I hold no ill will towards C.J. I’ve sat under His teaching met, and even let Him borrow my car one Celebration years ago. In fact it is the respect I formerly have had for C.J. that causes my current grief. Over all regarding the entire speech I was saddened that yet again C.J. has not specifically admitted or confessed any particular sin related to his stepping down as President of Sovereign Grace Ministries. At best there have been general “areas of sin” that He has acknowledged, but even here I’m struggling to discern if C.J. is confessing to ANYTHING much less a particular sin. (I appreciate that the mostly non-existent adjudication process is ongoing but SOME specificity wouldn’t hurt) I’m not going to “cut and paste” or go over the speech point by point just point out the areas that I found disconcerting.
1. C.J. has a personality: At least in this speech C.J. admitted that he has been “changeable”, “visionary”, and “failed to communicate effectively”. It’s nice that C.J. acknowledges that he’s an ENFP. I myself am an ISTJ, yet I also know that just because I have personality tendencies ,that doesn’t mean that my sin isn’t present in those proclivities. In fact it is in those areas that my sin is most likely to go unnoticed because of what comes natural. My question to C.J. at this point was, “Is there an instance where you’ve been ‘changeable’ that you now see that you were wrong? How exactly have you failed to communicate clearly, and have you clarified yourself? Have you asked for forgiveness for any of these times?” I can appreciate that C.J. now sees that his giftings are more pastoral in nature, but that doesn’t mean that poor decisions have not been made and that those decisions have had far reaching consequences. Poor leadership is not excused because of “personality quirks”, especially if those same “quirks” caused a lack of accountability and oversight.
2. The most disturbing thing about C.J.’s message to me was C.J.’s acknowledgement of a “misunderstanding and misapplication” of the theology of original sin. Setting aside the “misunderstanding” bit, the fact that C.J. admits that he was aware of this tendency for SIX YEARS is incredible and proof that C.J. should never be allowed in a position of leadership again. It astounds me that C.J. and by extension the SGM board can blithely admit this aspect of Sovereign Grace culture. Do C.J. and the board have any idea of how many people have been hurt through this “misunderstanding”? Are they unaware of the tears that have been shed after counseling sessions with Pastors and after caregroup meetings? That ONE innocent has been made to feel responsible and even culpable in the sin that has been committed against them, or that God has been misrepresented as not being righteously angered by injustice should cause both C.J. and the board to weep and beg for forgiveness and mercy. That again for SIX YEARS this propensity and even culture (C.J. admitted to caregroups and “fellowship” where the Christian life pretty much was the revelation and confession of sin) was known, and the response was ONE message at the Pastor’s Conference? (That didn’t even specifically address the issue. I know I have Powlison’s message on my iPhone) Where is there any amount of remorse for those who have had to live like that? Any remorse for not preaching the resurrected grace filled Christian life? This is at the least gross incompetence and at worse gross negligence.
3. The “polity” issue is an example of SGM’s arrogance not humility. C.J. admitted that there have been issues for “at least two years”, but that it’s OK that these issues have not yet been resolved since SGM is “such a young movement”. First off SGM has been a “movement” for at least thirty years, that’s not so “young”. Second for TWO YEARS there has been no one the board could bring in to assist in these polity issues? SGM knows no one in the Southern Baptist Convention? The PCA? The RPC? Or could it be that none of those denominations hold the views on “pastoral gifting” that SGM does? Instead of being teachable and humble in asking for help both C.J. and the board have allowed this issue to get to the point it has.(and they are still digging their heels in)
4. I’ve not written about this up to this point but I simply can’t stand it anymore. SLANDER IS SPOKEN FALSEHOOD UTTERED WITH THE INTENT TO HARM, LIBEL IS WRITTEN! If the Blogs and “Brent Documents” are anything they are libelous NOT SLANDER!!!!! Please for the love of God (literally) STOP redefining words to vague definitions that don’t exist in normal English. Moreover realize what you are really suggesting when you categorize someone as a “slanderer”. In normal English you are intimating that what they are saying is false, that they are aware it is false, and that they are intentionally trying to harm someone. Essentially you are saying that that person is a vengeful liar. Is Brent really a vengeful liar when the majority of “The Documents” are emails that no one yet has claimed were not written by them? Is C.J. or the board ever going to address the issues raised by those emails? I can understand dismissing Brent’s “commentary”, but the emails themselves reveal patterns of preferential treatment for C.J., C.J.’s tendency to make unilateral decisions, and a resistance by C.J. to be held accountable. On one hand these may be “common” sins as C.J. and the board have put it (though the fact that we are talking about an individual who wrote a book titled “Humility” and mostly put himself forth as an example of the title makes it a little less “common”), but these are still sins and THEY HAVE AFFECTED MORE THAN BRENT AND C.J. Are the “bloggers” and those who post their personal experiences “vengeful liars”? And now we have a new word “Divisiveness”. What exactly does that word mean? Who qualifies as a “Divisive” person? And what “courage” should a pastor have in “dealing with them”? And finally how the heck is this statement true? ” We are capitulating to slander in the name of humility” In what ways has the board “capitulated” to anything at this point?

I really hope and pray that the Art of Reconciliation report will shock both C.J. and the SGM board into repentance. I pray for these men that I have known and have in the past respected that they will be broken and humbled before God. However if this is an indication of where things are going I fear that I will not be able to endorse SGM and it pains me to say that. To the friends I know who are pastors and leaders in SGM churches all I have to say at this point is that I’m pretty sure the SBC, PCA, RPC, or heck Acts 13 would welcome you with open arms.


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