“Here lies one who neither flattered nor feared any flesh.”
Testimony by James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton at the grave of John Knox, as quoted in Trumpeter of God (1974) by W. Stanford Reid
Shawn Woo is, from all accounts a great guy. He graduated top of his class from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and, as the man chosen from the latest Pastor’s College class to preach a sermon at Mahaney’s church, was also the brightest star in this 9 month class. Jeff Purswell also heaped praise on him as he introduced him prior to his sermon.
My concern is what kind of leaders is SGM producing? Mr. Woo is a bright guy and has figured out early in his career that the way to climb the ladder in SGM is unabashed praise of Mahaney and his inner sanctum. But I must ask at what cost Mr. Woo? Surely you have knowledge of the sexual abuse scandal and cover-up that occurred on Mahaney’s watch. Surely you have knowledge of the blackmail Mahaney engaged in. Surely you have knowledge of the class action lawsuit filed by the victims of sexual abuse against Mahaney and Sovereign Grace. Surely you have knowledge of Grant Layman’s sworn testimony at the Nate Morales trial, testimony that implicated the Sovereign Grace leaders of having knowledge of sexual abuse and doing nothing. Surely you have knowledge of the approximately 30 churches that have left Sovereign Grace Ministries because of their disgust with this situation. Yet Mr. Woo, in spite of this knowledge, chose to praise Mahaney and his cohorts! As mentioned in the clip above, integrity is not often an easy choice, but it is the God-honoring choice.
“For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
Mr. Woo’s introduction was eerily similar to Mr. Dever’s; another man that has chosen to praise an enabler of sexual abusers.
Steve Zahm, a friend of mine, had some great thoughts on this and he agreed to let me share them:
Interesting that Woo makes a special point to praise the pastor’s college because the training of the pastors was done in in the context of a local church environment. If I am not mistaken this is a not a particularly novel circumstance. Most, if not all, seminary’s have a substantial practical ministry requirement. MDivs are required to be involved in local church or para church ministry during their years, as opposed to a mere nine months, at seminary. BTW that is intended as a slam against SGM to think that generally untrained men can go to a nine-month course and be anywhere near trained enough for leading a church. Woo is an exception in that he actually is seminary educated already. That sort of blows my mind because for a formally trained seminary student from a highly regarded seminary like Gordon-Conwell should have learned enough about the Bible and hermeneutics to recognize the glaring lack of theological rigor in much of SGM’s doctrine and practice.
Having pursued my own theological education, I am forced to conclude that Mr. Woo is intentionally choosing to ignore entire swaths of church history and tradition, sound hermeneutic principles, and a broad array of other theological perspectives to force and manipulate the biblical texts to fit into SGM’s often weak and even bizarre doctrine and polity.
His endorsement of SGM and Mahaney et al lends credence to my belief that there is a substantial amount of spiritual deception taking place within SGM. People I know who remain at CLC have expressed some very selective use of Christian principles and misuse and misapplication of biblical texts to justify staying. In my opinion CLC remains an SGM church in form, function, doctrine, and practice and the same kind of blinding deception remains there at CLC as it does with all the folks who are staying in SGM.
Folks place a higher value on friendship, fellowship, and ear-pleasing worship than they do on the integrity of their leaders, the very men who demand the loyalty and trust of heir congregations based on their own self-proclaimed anointing (or based on the approval of other men who are self-proclaimed as anointed). SGM/CLC leaders have either intentionally lied or remained ignorant of serious sin in their midst and they did this for years, decades even. They taught all of us that submission to God-appointed authority was paramount to the church. They taught us that because of their anointing we should trust and obey them (not God, but them as they “stood in the stead” of God) automatically. They taught us it was sin not to do so. Yet, here we are years later and we have learned that CJ threatened his former good friend and fellow founder Larry Tomczak with publicly exposing some sin Larry’s son confessed in confidence (and under pastor-confessor protection) if Larry did not comply with CJ’s wishes. This is the man some continue to follow (although, interestingly Larry is not on board with supporting CJ and himself called for some accountability).
Meanwhile, over at CLC, Grant admitted that he as well as the entire pastoral staff knew about the sexual abuse in 1992. Folks that 22 years ago. 22 years and it only publicity comes out within the last year or so. These are the men that you still follow. They did not merely lie (or fail to disclose) for a little while, they have done it for decades all the while proclaiming their assumed integrity. Who knows what kinds of other critical issues they have withheld from the congregation that would have made a substantial difference in lives undoubtedly affected by their silence.
Answer one question as a test to see what is really going on with the motives of the people choosing to ignore what is obviously and horribly wrong with these two organizations: if CLC or SGM wre re not churches you were attending and you heard all this stuff from different sources some of whom are reliable and others whose reliability is questioned or doubted and you had school-aged children, would you risk the safety of your children and start attending one of these churches? Before you did attend, would not you do a serious amount of due diligence and investigate. Going to a church is about directly affects the lives of your children after all. Would you merely take the word of the men leading the church or would you want to do the responsible thing and talk to all the concerned parties even the critics of CLC/SGM? If you say you would not do that, then shame on you.
You can listen to Woo’s entire sermon at this link.