CJ Mahaney is no CH Spurgeon

By | February 22, 2016

“For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness – nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others,”
-I Thessalonians 2:5-6

“Remember that the favour and pleasing of man is one of your snares, that would prevail against your pleasing God: therefore watch against the danger of it, as you must do against other earthly things.”
-Richard Baxter, “The Practical Works of Richard Baxter,” page 185

“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


I can’t speak for the Humble One, C.J. Mahaney, but it would seem one of his heroes is C.H. Spurgeon.

The Humble One

The Humble One

Hardly a week goes by that he doesn’t Tweet a Spurgeon quote to his 50.7K followers. (Unfortunately, I am blocked from viewing the humble blackmailer’s comments, therefore, I don’t see many of Spurgeon’s pearls.) Mahaney seemed to be on a meteorological kick last week:

2016-02-22 Mahaney Spurgeon tweet 2016-02-22 Mahaney Spurgeon tweet 2

It’s hard to understand how a man who spends hours and hours, and hours and hours and hours a week on sermon preparation can find the time to so prodigiously pump out Tweets, but give the Humble One credit, he works hard to serve you!

Did you realize C. H. Spurgeon had a Pastors College?  I just came across that fact today.  Since I only work 40 hours a week at my job I have a bit more time than your average Sovereign Grace pastor to peruse obscure books.  (Of course, my stack of books is much smaller than Al Mohler’s stack of books (another hero of the Humble One), but I make do.

Four Instructors at C.H. Spurgeon's Pastors College

Four Instructors at C.H. Spurgeon’s Pastors College

I am now left to wonder if perhaps the Humble One named Sovereign Grace’s Pastors College after Spurgeon’s college?  Maybe one of you 50.7K Twitter followers could pose that question to the “Ceej” and get back to me.  It’s not an urgent request, just something I am curious about.

2016-02-22 SG Pastors College

Now it’s time to play a little game.  The purpose of this game is to highlight how Sovereign Grace teaches their college recruits to preach.  After that, I will attempt to demonstrate why the Sovereign Grace Pastors College method of preaching was not the C.H. Spurgeon Pastors College method of preaching.

Below are six short clips taken from the beginning of each pastor’s sermon.  Your job is to attempt to determine which 3 clips are from Sovereign Grace pastors, and which 3 clips are from pastors that didn’t have the privilege of attending the 9 month Sovereign Grace Pastors College. Ready? OK, give it a try.  Grade yourself afterwards.  6 of 6 correctly answered and you are an individual of at least average intelligence.  Anything less than 6 correct and you are mentally challenged; you are prone to believe that the sexual abuse scandal in Sovereign Grace Churches is chock full of omissions, distortions, false allegations and an attack of Satan.


How did you do?  A fairly simple task to identify the Sovereign Grace pastors, isn’t it?  Unfortunately, C.J. Mahaney and his fellow leaders at Sovereign Grace Louisville encourage and reward the men who learn to be blatant flatterers.  The odds are against you even being selected to attend the Pastors College unless you have already demonstrated the ability to engage in shameless flattery. Once at the Pastors College, the shameful behavior seems to be pounded into the recruits heads much like a Marine has the motto “God, Corps and Country” pounded into his head at boot camp. After 9 months these guys have flattery down to an art form.  It appears that the man selected to preach at Mahaney’s church prior to graduation is the guy who is the best in his class at flattery.

Of course, the recruits get to learn from the best.  Here is the Humble One demonstrating his skill:


Why did I say Spurgeon would not use this method of preaching?  Here is a quote from his book “Lectures To My Students,” second series, from pages 174-175.

“In any case it is all about yourself, and this is a poor theme to be anxious about; play the man, and do not demean yourself by seeking compliments like little children when dressed in new clothes, who say, “See my pretty frock.” Have you not by this time discovered that flattery is as injurious as it is pleasant? It softens the mind and makes you more sensitive to slander. In proportion as praise pleases you censure will pain you. Besides, it is a crime to be taken off from your great object of glorifying the Lord Jesus by petty considerations as to your little self, and, if there were no other reason, this ought to weigh much with you. Pride is a deadly sin, and will grow without your borrowing the parish water-cart to quicken it. Forget expressions which feed your vanity, and if you find yourself relishing the unwholesome morsels confess the sin with deep humiliation.

…Knowing something myself of those secret whippings which our good Father administers to his servants when he sees them unduly exalted, I heartily add my own solemn warnings against your pampering the flesh by listening to the praises of the kindest friends you have. They are injudicious, and you must beware of them.

A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers if you have enough sense to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it.

…No money can purchase outspoken honest judgment, and when we can get it for nothing let us utilize it to the fullest extent.”


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I was a member of CLC for over 30 years. I remember the days before C J became a Calvinist. This back slapping, over-the-top flattery did not exist then. Once it started, I guess around the late 90’s, I would squirm in my seat in impatience and embarrassment when C J would introduce a guest speaker. The flattery would go on and on. When the speaker would finally get up there, he would then flatter C J and CLC and SGM. C J would sit in his seat, head down and shaking, smiling, as if he was too humble to receive such praise. All a joke. They also liked to heap praises on members who had “made it” – the successful, the powerful, etc. Can’t believe all I accepted back then as the norm.

Brett Conway

It’s not specific to CJ. Where I attended it was just like part of the program when a guest (from a nearby SGM church) speaker came. First your senior pastor would introduce the guest and do the obligatory heaping of praises, letting us know how special this moment was going to be and how lucky we were to be hearing from such a humble, godly man, the finest example of a husband and father there ever was. Then the guest would reciprocate, again letting us know how lucky we were to have such a faithful, humble senior pastor. Business as usual.

It’s funny how they all do that whispering thing, you know, where CJ would be trying to really drive home the seriousness of his point. Our senior did that (he worked with CJ at CLC for a decade), as did like all of our guest speakers who also came from CLC and other area SGM churches. It’s just part of the legacy I suppose, but I digress…

Alan House

One hardly knows whether to laugh or cry! Notwithstanding Our Lord has secretly, exhaustively and meticulously decreed that all this nonsense should come to pass. Selah.


One sad thing that Mahaney did was preach during his “paid season of reflection.”

Another nice blog post.

I know of 3 gifted pastors. They all have their own style but are gifted in their own way. What a shame it would have been if 2 of them tried to imitate one of them.

It is sad that this is basically what happens within SGM.

Bill M

Are these three excerpts typical of what goes on?

I take your point, it is and should be embarrassing, both to the flatterer and to the person being flattered. A young pastor may be forgiven a singular occurrence but what can’t be forgiven is the apparent routine acceptance by the overlords. Someone with humility and integrity would not accept them and would put a stop to such nonsense. This same someone is being exalted, it isn’t God.

I doubt that C.J. Mahaney has ever read Spurgeon, much less tried to emulate him. He claims to be a busy man, yet Mahaney could have read Spurgeon during the “paid season of reflection” Sovereign Grace Ministries gave him in 2011 when Brent Detwiler’s documents caused many people to wonder if Mahaney was qualified to be a Pastor.

As I recall, the “paid season of reflection” lasted for 4 months, and the Sovereign Grace Board members did not comment on what type of reflection-activities, Mahaney was doing in exchange for his full salary, believed to have been more than $200,000/year at the time.