Thabiti Anyabwile and The Mahaney Conversation We’re Still Not Having

By | September 23, 2015

“Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.”  -Alexander Solzhenitsyn


“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” -Martin Luther King, Jr


“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.”    James 2:9


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Thabiti Anyabwile has written an excellent article titled “The Cosby Conversation We’re Still Not Having.”  Anyabwile addresses the well-known Bill Cosby sexual abuse scandal and says the Cosby case should have driven a national conversation about sexual abuse but this conversation has not taken place. Anyabwile states:

We seem to have forgotten the society-wide need to protect our daughters, sisters and wives against the predations of men… 
What we are not discussing is how to prevent the many Cosbys in our homes, families, friendship networks, schools and churches from preying upon our daughters, sisters, and mothers…
There are many working in the trenches, but comparatively their numbers are few. And I suspect far too few churches lend their voices to this cause. We are complicit in our silence…
We can significantly impact the safety and well-being of women by breaking our silence, speaking against violence, abuse and sexual entitlement, and insisting on the prosecution of offenders. We must speak up if we ever hope to end this scourge.”

To which I reply, Amen brother, preach it!

Anyabwile ends saying: 

“Sitting a couple seats from my wife and teenage girls, I kept thinking, I will fight. I will fight. I will fight for the black girls in my home, in my community, and around the world. Let’s fight for them together.”

I’m with you Pastor Anyabwile; I would only add that I will fight for girls of all colors and also for the boys that many pedophiles victimize.

The problem, as I see it, is there is a very real disconnect between Anyabwile’s call to action and his action.  Do you recall a similar “call to action” by Dr. Mohler in 2011? Allow me to refresh your memory:

“A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers. These must be safe places for children, and for all. Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.”    -Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.,  The Tragic Lessons of Penn State – A Call To Action” November 10, 2011

This all sounds great, but we have seen both men’s words are meaningless in light of their continuing support for C.J. Mahaney.  

I have covered the sexual abuse scandal in the Sovereign Grace denomination and the conspiracy to cover it up by Sovereign Grace leaders at length.  You can review any number of my posts if you desire more information. Below is a recording of Janet Mefferd interviewing Boz Tchividjian which will bring you up to speed on the scandal.

Allow me to provide you with just one example of abuse that occurred at Covenant Life Church, the church where C.J. Mahaney was the Senior Pastor.  The full story can be found on Brent Detwiler’s blog.

Complaints 152-161 

152.  As Donna Doe was being subjected to the terror of living with her pedophiliac father, Defendants were also forcing Plaintiff Grace Goe to endure constant physical and sexual abuse from her father [Charlie Llewellyn], a wealthy man who was and remains a prominent member of the Covenant Life Church. 

153.  Grace Goe’s father repeatedly beat her on her naked buttocks so harshly that she bled and bruised.  Her father would then submerge her into an ice bath to hide the physical manifestations of the beatings. 

154.  Grace Goe’s father also repeatedly sexually abused her, making her rub his feet, which he then inserted into her vagina.  He also molested her on several occasions by rubbing his hands over her breasts, at times outside her clothes and at times against her bare skin under her clothes. 

155.  Grace Goe’s father engaged in the physical and sexual abuse towards the other children, including the male children, whose penises he repeatedly fondled. 

156.  Defendants Ricucci and Layman learned of the ongoing abuse no later than in or around 1997, when Grace Goe was 13.  At that time, a housekeeper named Mary Burcham reported the ongoing abuse of the Goe children to Defendants Ricucci and Layman, and discovery will show other Defendants.  Defendants Ricucci and Layman met with Grace Goe and her older female sibling, who reported the fact of the abuse to the Individual Defendants and sought protection from their abusive father.  

157.  Rather than report the ongoing abuse to the secular authorities or take any steps to stop the abuse, Defendants informed the father that his children had reported the abuse.  This led to further abuse by the father.  In exchange for the conspiracy of silence, the abusive father paid to send Defendants Mahaney, Ricucci and Layman and their families on vacation to the Kiawah Islands, South Carolina. 

158.  On or about September 17, 2008, Plaintiff Grace Goe again reached out the Defendants, seeking assistance in preventing the ongoing abuse of her siblings. Defendants failed to report or take any other steps to stop the ongoing and severe abuse. 

159.  In May 2010, Plaintiff Grace Goe again sought help from Defendants Layman and Ricucci, as she was concerned that her father was continuing to abuse the children remaining in the house. 

160.  On May 14, 2010, Defendants conspired to mislead Plaintiff Grace Goe into believing that they would finally assist in ending the abuse.  Defendant Grant Layman affirmatively made misrepresentations in writing to Grace Goe, assuring her that “[a]fter the pastors discussed this situation, the bottom line is, we feel a moral obligation to report.” 

161.  Yet this was a falsehood.  Defendant Layman and his co-conspirators again failed to report the abuse, and instead continue to assist the wealthy father in avoiding any consequences for his ongoing abuse of his children. 


C.J. Mahaney has never repented of his actions and has instead denied all knowledge of the events.  Is his denial credible?  Below are the recordings from two people with knowledge of the case who do not think so.



The Neo-Calvinist big dogs.

The Neo-Calvinist big dogs.

Thabiti Anyabwile seems to be a good-hearted man. He has traveled to Dubai several times to hold conferences at UCCD, the church I formerly attended. He has participated in several Muslim-Christian dialogues. I have met the man and spoken briefly with him. He struck me as a warm, down-to-earth man who doesn’t take himself too seriously.  Nevertheless, Anyabwile is one of the Christian Celebrities in the Neo-Calvinist movement and has close ties to Mark Dever.  Anyabwile served as an Assistant Pastor at Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church, also serving as an Assistant Pastor at the same time was John Folmar.  Folmar then moved on to become the Senior Pastor of United Christian Church of Dubai, a church where I was formerly a member. I  ended up withdrawing my membership because of Folmar’s refusal to quit promoting Mahaney’s books. Meanwhile,  Anyabwile moved on to become the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman where he served for seven years.  From there Anyabwile returned to Capitol Hill Baptist church, once again serving as an Assistant Pastor to Mark Dever.  In January of 2015 Anyabwile led a church plant in Anacostia.

Anyabwile has had every opportunity to know about the sexual abuse and conspiracy to cover it up which has taken place in the Sovereign Grace denomination.  Brent Detwiler emailed a national appeal to 77 prominent Christian leaders regarding C.J. Mahaney and the facts of the case.  Anyabwile was among those 77.  The letter they received may be read here.

Anyabwile states above that he will fight for those preyed upon by pedophiles.  To date, he has done quite the opposite, choosing to accept an invitation to speak at C.J. Mahaney’s church and not giving a second thought to sharing the platform at major conferences with the man.

t4gteamt4g 2016 speakers

1Photo Promotion of C.J. at T4G

2015-01-22 Gospel Glitterati with Mahaney

Based on Anyabwile’s article can we now expect him to start fighting for justice for the victims of sexual abuse in C.J. Mahaney’s denomination?  Will Anyabwile seek to have Mahaney removed from his role as a plenary speaker at the T4G conference in April of 2016? Failing that will Anyabwile make a principled stand and withdraw from the T4G conference?  Or are Anyabwile’s words hollow?  Time will tell.


“Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice.” Job 19:7

“Are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul?” -Socrates


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 In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus provided a hidden-camera view into God’s heart with his comments regarding the final judgment: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance.… Whatever you did for one of the least of these [prisoners, orphans, and those who are hungry] … you did for me” (Matthew 25: 34,40). Jesus made it clear that it really does count to him when people anonymously care for other human beings. Jesus notices it even if the people who are doing these things don’t. Seemingly unremarkable and very ordinary attempts to love others really do get Jesus’s attention.

I’m not suggesting that we earn our way into heaven by doing good things. But to say that our good deeds don’t get God’s attention would be to deny a common-sense reading of Jesus’s statement. Those Jesus rewards aren’t keeping track of their acts of kindness, but apparently Jesus is. They aren’t looking to score points, but he rewards them anyway.

It’s interesting to note that the religious folks of Jesus’s day— those who were trying hard to earn extra points— actually missed the point. They were doing the right external things, but Jesus doesn’t count the externals; he counts the invisible. He examines the internal motives and intentions of the heart. Those who were loving others out of their love for Jesus got his attention, while those who did all the right things but for the wrong reasons got problems.

This is what Jesus meant when he said, “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple … he will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10: 42). The words “if … because” are the key. They express the practice of nonmanipulative intentionality. It tells us that actions that engage others without trying to control them, and of goodness and kindness that serve others without trying to steer them, all count to Jesus. These practices really do get his attention.
Henderson, Jim. Evangelism Without Additives: What if sharing your faith meant just being yourself? (pp. 103-104). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


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“If you are still trying to go “fly under the radar” at sound doctrine central, you will only confuse yourself. At some point in this process, you are going to have to decide they are WRONG, and YOU don’t belong trying to mediate the middle. You can’t do it and it isn’t your job. So, get out and go get healthy.”
Immel, John. Blight In the Vineyard: Exposing the Roots, Myths, and Emotional Torment of Spiritual Tyranny (Kindle Locations 6179-6181). Presage Publishing.


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