A Pair of “Go-To” Books?
John Folmar, senior pastor of United Christian Church of Dubai, told me a few years ago that he was not willing to cease promoting and selling C.J. Mahaney’s book “The Cross Centered Life.” This in spite of the fact that I had presented evidence to Folmar that C.J. Mahaney had conspired to cover-up the sexual abuse of children in the Sovereign Grace Ministries denomination of churches. I had also shared documented evidence with Folmar proving that C.J. Mahaney had blackmailed Larry Tomczak, fellow co-founder of the denomination. John Folmar told me that he considered “The Cross Centered Life” a “go-to book” for new Christians, thus he would not quit distributing the book. Doctrine trumped integrity for Folmar. (Loyalty to Mark Dever and Al Mohler, two of Mahaney’s BFFs, may also have been a factor in Folmar compromising his integrity.) It wasn’t long after this discussion that I resigned my membership from UCCD.
“The Cross Centered Life” is, in my admittedly biased opinion, solidly mediocre. It has been widely distributed at neo-Calvinist conferences and churches but I believe it will have no lasting impact and is destined to be out of print and totally forgotten in another generation. Those not belonging to the neo-Calvinistic celebrity club or their publicists (Tim Challies) generally hold to similar views as mine. (See below.)
In spite of the fact that Mahaney’s book is mediocre at best it served its purpose – it provided Mahaney name recognition among a slice of American Evangelicalism, paving the way for him to become a featured celebrity speaker at Christian conferences. This is where the real money is made. Mahaney was able to donate in excess of $100,000 of his personal money to Al Mohler’s seminary. Mahaney has reportedly donated cash to other influential Christian leaders, effectively purchasing their loyalty.
Throughout history Christianity has had more than its share of scam-artists who manage to weasel their way into positions of authority. Once firmly embedded in leadership they manage to fleece the gullible flock. Anyone with these tendencies would do well to pay attention to the methods employed by Charles Joseph Mahaney. Through his cunning manipulation he has managed to do quite well for himself and his extended family.
One man who apparently was paying attention is David Volmer. A South African by birth, Volmer spent time in the United States, Singapore, and then moved to Australia. I have been unable to ascertain what Volmer did while in the USA; nor have I been able to determine what churches he attended. What is known is that once he moved to Australia he planted a church in a suburb of Perth which was affiliated with the “South African-based “Acts Christian Church.” This church is “charismatic” in their doctrine and, in a fashion similar to what Sovereign Grace Churches once held to, they have their own group of apostles and prophets.
Acts Christian Church also appears to be heavily into submission and authority. In my experience this generally leads to extremes resulting in the sheep being subjected to some form of abuse by those in “authority.” The following quote addresses this issue:
“Pastors like myself have spent large amounts of time over the last fifteen years picking up the pieces of broken lives that resulted from distortion of truth by extreme teachings and destructive applications on discipleship, authority, and shepherding.
Victims of this movement are usually born-again Christians and are fundamentalist and evangelical in their orientation. The errors are covered in many different terms like delegated authority, covering, unquestioned submission, covenant, commitment to a fellowship, etc…. Terms change from time to time. Submission may be called “commitment,” “covenant relationship” or “divine order” in church government. Many times terms aren’t used at all; it is the actions that tell you what is going on.”
-Gilbert Trusty, “Recovering From Abusive Authority” (Conference Evangelical Ministries to New Religions in Philadelphia, PA, Sept. 14, 1994).
As found in “Twisted Scriptures: Breaking Free From Churches That Abuse,” by Mary Alice Chrnalogar, pages 23.
David Volmer appears to have had hopes of becoming rich and famous by following the example that has worked incredibly well for C. J. Mahaney and so many other American evangelical pastors – become pastor of a growing church, write a book or two which will serve to increase your name recognition, start accepting invitations to speak at other churches about the subject matter of your book, and ultimately become one of the headline speakers at major conferences.
Volmer published a book titled “The God Standard.” I purchased the book simply as a research tool for this article, I would guess about fifty other people (the reported size of the church Volmer pastored) also bought the book. I have always stated that a Christian should ask himself a few questions prior to authoring a book – Have other books on the subject already been published? Will the book I write be significantly better than what is already available, or will the publication of my book make a substantial positive contribution to the subject? Regarding Volmer’s book, the answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the next two questions is no. The book is a very poor replication of “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald S. Whitney. Volmer’s book would have been better left unpublished. How he got a publisher to produce his book is beyond me. But, as I mentioned above, I think Volmer was attempting to gain celebrity status by following the same business model that worked for so many other Christian “leaders.” A blog Volmer started to publicize his book gives evidence of this fact; notice the not-so-subtle appeal for speaking appointments!
Unfortunately for Volmer his rise to fame has occurred, but at a great cost and not in the manner he was hoping for. In this too, the similarity to C.J. Mahaney is chilling.
Distressing to me is the fact that yet another clergy member is involved in the sexual abuse of children. This profession seems to attract pedophiles. My heart goes out to the young girl cruelly victimized, to the wife and two daughters of David Volmer and to those who attended the church pastored by Volmer. Undoubtedly many of those who attended Volmer’s church will have their beliefs shaken to the core.
I would like to add that here is where all similarities to the Sovereign Grace Ministries/C.J. Mahaney sexual abuse scandal stop. David Volmer has plead guilty to the charges. Mahaney maintains his innocence. We have witnessed many influential Christian “leaders” rush to the defense of Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Public statements of support have been proffered by members of the Gospel Coalition and Together For the Gospel. Even after the trial and conviction of one of the abusers and sworn testimony by Grant Layman, brother in-law of C.J. Mahaney, that Sovereign Grace Leadership knew of the abuse by Nate Morales and chose not to tell law enforcement, the Christian “leaders” have not amended their statements of support for Mahaney. Sovereign Grace lawyers have fought all the charges.
To their credit here is what Acts Christian Church leaders had to say regarding this sexual abuse:
Song of the Afflicted by Lori Sealy