Not surprisingly, in spite of attempts to discourage the latest Christian conference from featuring C.J. Mahaney as a speaker at the Anchored Conference, including both emails to the organizers and a phone conversation one of my friends had with Rick Holland, they are pressing ahead with Mahaney as a speaker. Who is behind this conference? Again, not surprisingly, it’s The Gospel Coalition.
In the recording below I have captured the essential part of the video which I wanted to comment on. First is the transcript. These words were spoken by Rick Holland, apparently the point man for this conference:
“C.J. Mahaney is coming, he has been a friend of mine for the last decade. I love him. I love his life. I love his integrity. His gifts in conferencing are unique. You’ve (referring to Sovereign Grace of Gilbert pastor, Rich Richardson) heard him over and over. He has an ability in that context to really be prophetic in a way that takes God’s Word and places it right in our heart applicationally like nobody else I’ve ever seen.”
Integrity? Really Rick? C.J. Mahaney has been a friend of yours for 10 years? Have you not heard of his blackmail and cover-up of criminal sexual abuse of minors in his church? What part of that speaks to Mahaney’s integrity? You have either been on another planet for the past 3 years or have a problem speaking the truth. Either way, in my opinion, you have forfeited your opportunity to be respectfully listened to. Brent Detwiler sent out a letter in February, 2013 which stated in part:
“From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2013 4:56 PM
To: National Leaders
Subject: An Appeal to National Leaders Regarding C.J. Mahaney
Would you please take the time to read the attached class action lawsuit against C.J. and Sovereign Grace Ministries. It is ever so serious. I hope you will reconsider having C.J. participate in The Gospel Coalition Conference as a speaker in April. All 143 Complaints [in the lawsuit] occurred while he was sr. pastor of Covenant Life Church or the President of SGM. It seems to me such action is prudent on your part.
This may be a moot point if the SGM Board of Directors takes action against C.J. I hope they cancel his upcoming speaking engagements. I’ve also asked the Board to put C.J. on administrative leave while they do an investigation of him and the Chairman, John Loftness. Federal authorities are also aware of the criminal elements found in the alleged Complaints. The Civil Court proceedings could easily be followed by Criminal Court proceedings.
The lawsuit aside, C.J. does not meet the qualifications of Scripture for Christian ministry. For example, 16 churches have left SGM over the past 7 months because C.J. is not above reproach. That includes the first, third and sixth largest churches in the denomination. There has been a massive exodus of leaders and members out of SGM and it continues. This is not due to the work of slanderers. It is due to mountains of evidence and testimony from hundreds of witnesses against him and SGM.
Don, I don’t assume you are following the story but the ethical demise of SGM has shocked even the most ardent supporters. Tens of thousands of people are heartbroken over the abuse and corruption that has been exposed over the past 1 ½ years. C.J. and I were the best of friends and the closest of colleagues. I continue to hope and pray for his good.
Steve Zahm, a former member for 29 years of CLC, left the church in 2008. CLC is the church Mahaney was senior pastor of. Mr. Zahm had an interesting exchange with a Sovereign Grace loyalist on Brent Detwiler’s Facebook page. He has given me permission to post his comments here.
“The fact that most a CLC would not even have a clue as to that belief is where the real problems lies. Keeping the members largely in the dark about serious church matters that affect them has been the way CLC has always operated. Now, at least in my opinion, we see the results of that massive coverup paradigm.
Every parent should have been told about any allegations of child sexual abuse against anyone in the church. I never heard a peep except through the grapevine about the ones that were simply too big to hide. Nate Morales was a friend of mine and sang at my wedding. I never heard anything about him. He just disappeared one day. Because of the way CLC leadership handled that situation Nate was free to go somewhere else and sexually abuse other boys. CLC needs to take responsibility for that. How is that different than the Catholic Church shuffling pederast priests around from parish to parish without the members of the new parish ever knowing the monster in their midst.
…My point, in case you missed it, and I think you either missed it or ignored it, is that CLC has never made any attempt to recognize their past mistakes except in the vaguest of words, nor taken responsibility for the lives damaged by its policies. I know many if not all of the players. Looking back from the perspective of someone no longer under the sway of the kind of teaching that said those in authority are to be obeyed and submitted to, I can make my own decisions about what is biblical and what is not.
…God brings his justice through the efforts of his people. There is no other way he has chosen to work in the world so I have no clue how you think he will bring his justice in his timing. And to me it looks like he is doing exactly that in the case of Nate Morales. He is using the criminal justice system to finally bring this man to accountability. And CLC leadership (those responsible at the time) will be part of that accounting. They should have been proactive in that accounting but typical of their long history, they are not leading in humility but faltering in a lack of integrity.
You agree that sexual abuse “should” have been reported to the authorities. It was not and that, my misguided CLCer, is a crime now, and it was then, and if it was not a crime at that time, then what should the consequences be for the leaders who failed to notify the parents at CLC that we had a child abuser in our midst and what should their penalty be for allowing Nate go to another location and commit more sexual abuse? If they did nothing, and it looks like that is the case, then they are as accountable and guilty as if they continued to let Nate continue sexually abusing young boys at CLC. Their attitude appears to have been, he’s not our problem anymore.”
You are terribly deceived if you think a church leader should remain a church leader with this kind of behavior for which they have never taken what is recognizable as responsible accountability for. Now CLC has continued this pattern of cover up to this very day.
Mr X, truly I am not offended or angry or even upset so there is no need to apologize. Nor am I angry or bitter. As surprising as it may be to you, those are not the only options available motivating someone who is critical of CLC. As a pastor, I care about my own local church as well as the state of the wider church. I am friends with lots of people who still remain at CLC and I am friends with many who have left because of the damage done by those who lead there.
Whether you know it or not, your comments have reflected an attitude all too common with those loyal to CLC and the men in leadership. You easily dismiss those of us who, from our own experiences with the leadership of CLC and our knowledge of the way other churches operate, remain both critical of your church leadership and the culture that they have created at CLC and skeptical of any real change. We are critical because we still care and we are skeptical because all of us who left realize that it is wrong for leadership to try to control how we think. We discovered that we are capable of reading our Bibles and understanding them in order to determine if what we are being taught in the truth. We like are like the Bereans that Paul commends for doing that very thing regarding his teaching. We discovered that we could “test” the spirit of the men leading CLC and many of us concluded that there was much that was wrong with their teaching and especially their application. The men in leadership displayed a remarkable lack of integrity, humility, and still do today. They are neither above reproach nor above being criticized and yet, from what I can glean from your comments, you believe, they are above both of those.
IT is true that God is the only one who judges completely righteously. It does not follow that human beings are incapable of making any legitimate judgements what so ever. We are quite capable of seeing right from wrong and it the actions of the leadership at CLC that most, if not all of us, are judging as wrong. Their actions are open to judgement. We do not judge their hearts but there is a very necessary connect between dishonest actions and a dishonest heart. There are only two options regarding their hearts. They are or have been walking in deception and ignorance or they have knowingly lied and covered up with the full knowledge that those actions were wrong. If they were merely deceived and ignorant then they are disqualified from leadership until that changes. If they knowing lied and covered up sexual abuse, then they are evil and are disqualified from leadership. Since they continue to fail to acknowledge their actual culpability in the Nate Morales case which I think is pretty self-evident, then it is not unrighteous to conclude that they knew and know full well what they were doing. Since the result of their actions led to Nate sexually abusing more boys than he would have had they taken the proper steps when he was at CLC, then their actions were evil, they allowed a serial sexual abuser to continue practicing unabated, never told the church, tried to get the parents of the boys and the boys to remain silent, and they did not notify the authorities ever.
Seriously, are you okay with those actions, that at are in fact true as far as everyone knows right now? You think those actions are excusable for men in leadership and for them to remain in leadership? You think it was proper to honor Grant with a wonderful and tearful send off after he has as much admitted his part in the cover up? If so, that is insanity pure and simple. That is calling wrong, right. It is calling unrighteousness, righteousness.”
Truer words were never spoken Mr.Zahm, thanks for letting me share them. In addition to the SGM leaders tainted in this scandal, we must also seriously question leaders such as Rick Holland who would have us believe that C.J. Mahaney is an icon of integrity.
“He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.””