TIME Publishes Article on Sovereign Grace Sex Abuse Scandal

By | February 17, 2016

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”
-Jesus

TIME has just published an article on the Sovereign Grace sexual abuse scandal. You can view the article here.

Screenshot 2016-02-17 04.48.14

In the article, Elizabeth Dias interviews Tiffany Stanley. You may recall Stanley wrote the insightful article titled “The Sex Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the Rise and Fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries.” The TIME article allows Stanley the opportunity to add further details to the story she wrote.

Both articles do a good job of exposing the scandal and I am thankful that a very bright spotlight is now shining on C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Churches, Covenant Life Church, and the Neo-Reformed Calvinist leaders who continue to back these people.

What I find deplorable is the fact that five years after the story broke, Christian evangelical leaders are still not willing to admit they have a problem.  It has taken secular media to drag these so-called Christian leaders into the light, exposing their evil deeds of sexual abuse, cover-up, and enabling these actions.  What a very sad commentary on  Evangelicalism in the United States.  As you can see in the line-up below, there are eight Christian leaders who are still planning on sharing the conference stage with C.J. Mahaney in a few months. They will all be speaking at the Together For The Gospel conference in April.

2016-02-18 Mahaney T4G Power under your hood

R.C. Sproul, because of either good sense or poor health,  just recently backed out of his speaking engagement.  Hopefully, more men will follow, but these leaders should know that their credibility has already been destroyed.  They should see an ever decreasing influence in the broader Christian world.

And that is a good thing. They have lost their flavor, and, as Jesus said, are worthless.

Screenshot 2016-02-18 19.31.52

R.C. Sproul, citing health concerns, has dropped out of the T4G conference.

2016-02-16 Sproul drops out of T4G

One must wonder how much longer the  Christian celebrities pictured below can afford to continue their support of C.J. Mahaney.

2016-01-23 Group photo of T4G speakers

Mahaney’s supporters, from left to right: David Platt, Thabiti Anyabwile, Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, Matt Chandler, C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever.

 “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so!  But what will you do at the end of it?”
Jeremiah 5:30-31

Before preceding further, it would be helpful to listen to this podcast from “The Mortification of Spin.” The subject matter deals specifically with the Mark Driscoll scandal, but it also applies to C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Churches, and their supporters.

Just to refresh our collective memory, let’s review some of what the Christian celebrity leaders have said about their good friend, C.J. Mahaney. These leaders were not hesitant to sing the praises of C.J. Mahaney, even though they knew full well of the sexual abuse scandal embroiling Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches.  These men seem to be totally bereft of any ability to exercise discernment, or, more likely, they know Mahaney’s involvement in the cover-up of abuse but they have allowed their love of money and power to override any concern for the victims or ethical response.

Dever Mahaney DeYoung Kauflin Duncan in SA

mahaney mohler duncan dever

The Neo-Calvinist big dogs.

1Photo Promotion of C.J. at T4G

 

Wayne Grudem:

1 wayne grudem

Dear Todd,

My name is John Paul Stepanian, and I am Dr. Grudem’s assistant as well as a student here at Phoenix Seminary. One of my jobs is to see to Dr. Grudem’s correspondence on his behalf.

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Dr. Grudem speaking at CJ’s church.  Dr. Grudem has the challenging task of weighing many worthy and intriguing requests.  His current research, teaching, speaking engagements and family commitments have filled his schedule, and unfortunately he will be unable to answer your questions directly.  Please accept his regrets.  Dr. Grudem has asked me to personally respond to these requests on his behalf.

Dr. Grudem is speaking at CJ’s church specifically so that he can signal support for CJ in the face of unjust accusations.  No further communication on this subject will be responded to.

May God bless your continued work for His kingdom.

Sincerely,

John Paul Stepanian
MA to Dr. Grudem
Phoenix Seminary

On behalf of:
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies
Phoenix Seminary

Do you think money may have compromised Wayne Grudem?

2016-02-16 Grudem thanks SGM for money

 

John Piper:

1 piper

 

Al Mohler:

1mohler

Do you think money may have compromised Al Mohler? The screen captures below were taken from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s quarterly magazine “Roll Call.” These documents reveal that C.J. Mahaney has donated thousands of dollars of his own money, Sovereign Grace Ministries money, and Covenant Life Church’s money, to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Al Mohler is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  It should be noted that monies donated from Sovereign Grace Ministries and Covenant Life Church would have been received from church members donating their tithes and offerings.  These members had no say as to where their money went.

2015-07-19 Mahaney donations to SBTS in Roll Call Spring 2006

2015-07-19 SGM donations to SBTS in Roll Call Spring 2006

2015-07-19 CLC donations to SBTS in Roll Call Spring 2006

 

Thabiti Anyabwile:

1 Thabiti 9marks

Read this post for a demonstration of how Anyabwile handles criticism of his support for C.J. Mahaney.

 

Rick Holland:

1 Rick Holland

 

Mark Dever:

 

BFF Mark Dever and C.J. Mahaney.

Do you think money may have compromised Mark Dever? Here is a short audio clip taken from a YouTube video of Dever, Piper and Terry Virgo heaping lavish praise on C.J. Mahaney.  Dever mentions Mahaney has been very generous to them.  In context, I would take this to mean Capitol Hill Baptist Church.  It would be interesting to know how much Sovereign Grace money was donated to both CHBC and 9Marks. I would guess the amount was significant.

 

Here is Dever praising Mahaney shortly after Mahaney had started his new church in Louisville. Mahaney had fled from Covenant Life Church to Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church and then decided he was called to plant a church in Louisville, KY.  Louisville was already home to 3,500 churches, but apparently none of those churches got the “gospel” quite right, therefore, Mahaney and his band of relatives and hangers-on migrated west so they could “serve” the community of Louisville.

 

Thomas R. Schreiner:

cj schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner’s opening remarks at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville:

“It’s great to be with you this morning, thank you so much for your warm welcome and your prayers; that means so much to me… Thank you for the honor to be here. I’m just so glad that Sovereign Grace is here, that C.J. is here; we need in Louisville more churches that preach the gospel. We have a lot of work to do in this city. We have many people that need to be saved in this city so we’re so glad you’re here to partner with us in that. We’re comrades in the gospel, we’re friends in the gospel and we just rejoice that Sovereign Grace is here.”

 

Bruce Ware:

cj ware

Bruce Ware’s opening remarks at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville:

“I  just want you to know how much my wife and I and our family have been blessed by Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace music.  Oh my, you have enriched our lives! And we are just overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord, through you to the Lord, for the ways in which you have enriched us, taught us, inspired us in worship, and have been very good friends to us… So we are very grateful to be a part.”

 

Matthew Hall:

2015-12-10 Matthew Hall bio

 

Ligon Duncan:

Friends don't let friends cover up sexual abuse of children... or do they?

Friends don’t let friends cover up sexual abuse of children… or do they?

 A Word about C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries

POSTED BY LIGON DUNCAN

If you have been confused or discouraged by things you have read on the internet concerning my friend C.J. Mahaney and his leave of absence from the board and presidency of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), I would encourage you to read this and this and this and this, if you want to understand what is really going on.

I would then encourage you to ignore the assaults of wounded people on attack websites and blogs, and that you discount the opinings of those who have no real knowledge of these matters or relation to SGM or authority to comment upon them, and that you refrain from assuming that you (or they) are in a position to render judgment on these things.

It is clear that far from a scandalous cover up, our brothers at Sovereign Grace are taking these matters with utter seriousness and are endeavoring to walk in Gospel repentance and humility and fidelity. C.J. knows of my complete love and respect for him. And my brethren at Sovereign Grace know of my support and prayers for them. Al Mohler has spoken about this here. And, of course, C.J. has reached out to Mark Dever for counsel and accountability, but I want to emphasize that we fully respect the process that SGM is taking to review the entire situation and that we have no intention whatsoever of joining in the adjudicating of this case in the realm of the internet — a practice as ugly as it is unbiblical.

Our response ought, positively, to be to pray for SGM. Indeed, they have asked us to: “Please pray for the people involved and for our network of local churches. This is a difficult time for us, but we see God using these events to refine us and prune us (June 15). We want to embrace all God has for us in this time and pray it will lead to greater fruitfulness. Psalm 37:3 & 5 carry a precious promise: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness … Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”

If you read this, you will get a taste of the fruit of Gospel repentance that is already being borne in SGM. It would have been very easy for the leadership of SGM to ignore and dismiss these charges, because so many of them are so evidently self-serving and spurious accusations. But instead, the leadership of SGM has taken the high road, or rather they have chosen to go the way of self-examination, submission to outside review and correction, self-abasement and repentance. It just makes me love and respect them all the more.

POSTED JULY 12, 2011 @ 11:56 AM by LIGON DUNCAN
Source: The Wartburg Watch

 

Kevin DeYoung:

1 October 2010: Think - Desiring God Annual Conference held in Minneapolis, MN. ©2010 Andres R. Alonso. All Rights reserved

“So the entire legal strategy was dependent on a theory of conspiracy that was more hearsay than anything like reasonable demonstration of culpability. As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted.

… High-profile Christians are sometimes targeted not because they are guilty, but because they are well known. While those who are shown to be guilty should be exposed with rigor and with tears, surely as brothers and sisters in Christ we must understand how much gain there is for those who hate the gospel when Christian leaders are unfairly attacked and diminished.

…Please do not hear us saying that we assume all of the plaintiffs are lying. We do not assume all the defendants are innocent, or that they are all guilty.

…we are friends with C.J.

…Reports on the lawsuit from Christianity Today and World Magazine (among others) explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to C. J., connecting the suit to recent changes within SGM. He has also been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some. One of the so-called discernment blogs—often trafficking more in speculation and gossip than edifying discernment—reprinted a comment from a woman who issued this ominous wish, “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.”

We are not ashamed to call C. J. a friend. Our relationship with C. J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction. He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted. While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend. We are grateful for C. J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades.”
Original Statement of Support from The Gospel Coalition; signed by D.A. Carson, Kevin DeYoung and Justin Taylor.

Janet Mefferd and Boz Tchividjian react to the statement released by the Gospel Coalition:

Janet Mefferd queries Tulian Tchividjian on the Gospel Coalition’s support of C.J. Mahaney:

 

12 thoughts on “TIME Publishes Article on Sovereign Grace Sex Abuse Scandal

  1. Happymom

    Yes, sorry, I should have noted the sarcasm. When we sat in his office in January 2009, he knew of our story at Fairfax and said he had read Noel’s as well.

    Reply
    1. JLC

      No worries, Happymom. I’m just glad we have so many new people interested in advocating against abuse in organizations they’re not intimately familiar with. Thanks. Janna

      Reply
  2. Happymom

    Thanks for compiling these accolades in one post. I’ve always believed this gross flattery would come back to haunt these men. Any man with a shred of humility should be horrified at this display of worship and promotion. Jesus died on the cross, have these men forgotten that?

    Two brief points:
    CLC calls the timing of the article a satanic attack?
    Then proceeds to send Tiffany Stanley a “we’re praying for you” card. Did they answer her questions?
    We received a handful of those cards as well, including one from CJ, (who didn’t know about the abuse, of course) but when it came time to answer our questions, we got spin, deflection and ultimately we were “sinfully craving answers” from Fairfax.

    On page 165 of the Washingtonian article, Sr. Pastor Mark Mullery states, “This resulted in the victim’s family being corrected when they should have been gently cared for as sufferers.”
    So he’s acknowledges there were VICTIMS.

    What does the crew supporting CJ say now?

    Their continued support of him and promotion of SGM affects the Gospel they claim to love and sends a message to abuse survivors that they do not matter.

    Reply
    1. Janna L. Chan

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Happymom. Because we have some new viewers who aren’t very familiar with Sovereign Grace Ministry’s or Covenant Life Church’s history of covering up abuse, I want to clarify that your statement below is meant to be taken ironically, not literally:

      We received a handful of those cards as well, including one from CJ, (who didn’t know about the abuse, of course)

      You actually do believe that C.J. Mahaney knew about the child sexual abuse going on in the Churches he ran, correct? Thanks. Janna

      Reply
    2. JLC

      “What does the crew supporting CJ say now?”

      They’re certainly not saying anything publicly. I know that some people still believe trying to change the hearts and minds of the Pastors and other high-profile Christian leaders who refuse to address the devastating effects of known, as in backed up by criminal convictions, instances of child sexual abuse, is worthwhile. I think these people are pieces of crud whose books, Churches, and conventions should be boycotted.

      Some of them should also be in prison, in my view.

      I won’t say they’re not Christians because that’s not for me to judge/I’m not interested in trying to figure out what’s really in someone’s heart. I will say that I see no evidence that men such as Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, and Al Mohler are motivated by religious beliefs of any kind. Instead, they seem like ruthless business men taking advantage of people with poor judgment.

      And that I believe that some of Mahaney’s supporters, not necessarily the ones mentioned above, are supporting him because they’ve also covered up abuse and Mahaney has said that if he goes down for covering up child sexual abuse, he’ll take his supposed friends with him.

      Thanks again for the comment, Happymom. Janna

      Reply
  3. JLC

    I really chuckle when Ligon Duncan and others say it’s sinful and un-biblical (as we know, the Bible addresses online activity in great detail) to adjudicate a Church’s or Pastor’s problems on the internet and then proceed to do just that by defending C.J. Mahaney in a blog post.

    That’s not very logical, guys.

    😉

    Janna L. Chan

    Reply
    1. 2samuel127 Post author

      Janna,
      I appreciate how you so quickly pick up on the ironic absurdities of the self-appointed pharisaical class among us!

      Reply
      1. JLC

        Thanks, Todd. I’m very loyal to my friends as well and therefore understand why Ligon Duncan and C.J. Mahaney’s other friends lashed out at his critics initially in an unpleasant and less-than-logical manner. However, it’s been more than four years since Ligon Duncan stated his support for C.J. Mahaney sometime in 2011.

        Since then, the following things apply to Mahaney’s conduct:

        1) He’s been very credibly accused of covering up child sexual abuse and declined to argue that he was innocent of this crime when sued. Instead, he tried and succeeded in getting off on technicalities.
        2) He’s been willing to destroy the mega-Church he co-founded and its corresponding para-Church organization out of pride and a willingness to finance his own career at the expense of those who entrusted their money to the non-profit organizations he controlled.
        3) He’s been unwilling to publicly address criticism of his conduct despite claiming to be a responsible Christian leader.

        Therefore, I think that, in 2016, Ligon Duncan and the rest of C.J. Mahaney’s supporters need to publicly retract their statements of support for him and acknowledge that they, not Mahaney’s critics, are the ones who acted in an irresponsible and unpleasant manner in 2011 when Mahaney was first accused of being unfit for Ministry.

        I’d be thrilled if any of Mahaney’s supporters simply said, “I was wrong about the guy and I apologize for lashing out at his critics without first looking at the facts surrounding the allegations against him.”

        But I’m not certainly not holding my breath in anticipation of that happening.

        Thanks. 😉

        Janna

        Reply
  4. Jen

    This blog is so helpful in bringing all the major players and pieces into a cohesive unit. There are so many strands and scandals one could follow. Funny how they all lead back to the same person: CJ Mahaney.

    Reply
    1. Janna L. Chan

      As Todd’s assistant and occasional poster on this blog, I’d like to thank you for your kind words, Jen.

      Janna

      Reply
  5. JLC

    Also, if CLC members and Pastors really think that the Washingtonian article was unfair to them, why haven’t they said so publicly? I just checked CLC’s website and there’s no statement about the article.

    Janna

    Reply
  6. Janna L. Chan

    I guess that Covenant Life Church will just write this article off as being another Satanic attack. Satan sure does seem very interested in CLC these days.

    I feel for Tiffany Stanley as few things can be creepier than having a bunch of pedophilia enablers, like the CLC Pastors, say they’re praying for you.

    😉

    Janna

    Reply

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