A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering words cause ruin.
Proverbs 26:28 NLT
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 sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it.
-C.H. Spurgeon, “Lectures to My Students”
History is littered with the serious human wreckage caused when good Christian people start worshipping the messenger rather than the One to whom the message refers. A cultic devotion to a leader, combined with the kind of authority structures that churches necessarily have in order to function as churches, can prove a sometimes deadly and always painful mix.
-Carl Trueman, “Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear to Tread”
Below is a video of Ryan Fullerton speaking at a 9Marks conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2013. Please listen to the first two minutes of his speech, it provides sufficient evidence proving that Mr. Fullerton has been well groomed in the art of flattery by the older men he idolizes. I have written several articles highlighting this distressing trend amongst “Mahaneyite” disciples; it now seems to be taking hold amongst the quasi-Reformed Baptists, “Deverites” and “Mohlerites,” if you will. Perhaps that is one of the curses of allowing Mahaney’s church membership status in the SBC!
Reaching the elite ranks of Christian celebrity status does not come cheap, you must kneel and kiss the ring. Oh, and one other necessity – you must be willing to sacrifice truth to prove your loyalty to those on top of the Christian celebrity food chain.
Ryan Fullerton seems to have struck up a friendship with C.J. Mahaney, the man who, with the possible exception of Mark Driscoll, is the most notorious preacher in the Neo-Calvinist movement. Mahaney has been credibly charged with blackmail, conspiracy to cover-up the sexual abuse of children in his church and denomination and setting up a hush fund with top denominational leaders to keep an SGM pastor from going public with the facts of his son’s sexual abuse. There is more, much more. I suggest you read the 2nd Amended Lawsuit filed by attorney Susan Burke on behalf of 11 victims of sexual abuse in the Sovereign Grace denomination. The suit was dismissed due to the statute of limitations restrictions, but a similar lawsuit will soon be filed in Virginia on behalf of two plaintiffs who still meet the statute of limitations restrictions. For a good video summation of what has transpired, I recommend you watch a video produced by my blog partner here. You can also read some articles at this link where Sovereign Grace leaders admitted to knowing about sexual abuse but not reporting it.
To date what is the outcome of all the sexual abuse that has occurred within the Sovereign Grace denomination? Listen to the short audio below, taken from a recent Kojo Nnamdi radio show on the subject of Sovereign Grace Abuse.
None of this information seems to have made an impression on Ryan Fullerton, Lead Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. I struggle to understand how a father of four children would not be more sympathetic to the plight of numerous children who were sexually abused while Mahaney served as Executive Director of the Sovereign Grace denomination, but hey, the man’s doctrine is spot on!
Church members of Immanuel Baptist Church, I appeal to you to exercise your good judgment. The sexual abuse scandal that occurred under C.J. Mahaney’s watchful eye is not a “he said, she said” type of event. There is overwhelming evidence of what has transpired in the Sovereign Grace Churches available for anyone willing to take the time to read. Undoubtedly you trust your elders and I am sure they are decent men, but they have failed you miserably on this issue. I cannot judge their motives, but I do question their discernment. You owe it to yourselves to look into the facts of this matter.
Here is a resolution that passed the SBC National Convention in 2013. It was crafted specifically because of concern members had with the close ties Mahaney had forged with Al Mohler and Mark Dever.
RESOLVED, That we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse;
-A Resolution from the Southern Baptist National Convention in Houston, TX, 2013.
Back in October 2013 your elders saw fit to allow C.J. Mahaney access to the pulpit of Immanuel Baptist Church. It would appear they are somewhat embarrassed by this fact. In checking the IBC website sermon page, numerous preacher’s names were listed. C.J. Mahaney’s name does not appear! Why not? The name “guest” does appear, and when you click on that you are linked to the page below. Even when you get to the page to listen to Mahaney’s sermon, his name is not listed! Once again it says “Guest Speaker.” Why? If your elders would (rightly) be embarrassed for the world to know that C.J. Mahaney spoke at your church, perhaps he should never have been allowed to speak in the first place.
Below you will find the audio of the first three minutes of Mahaney’s sermon. It is the same old Mahaney schtick. He is a master of flattery. (See here for perhaps his most outrageous example.) I really doubt Mahaney knew your pastor and elders very well, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if his appearance at your church was the first time he had met most of them. He knows even less about the members, yet that doesn’t stop him from going into his canned routine, regurgitated at every church he visits, of totally insincere flattery. But it works every time. Mahaney is a master of manipulation, most narcissists are. (And no, “it’s not a few old guys who wanted to plant one more church before they died.” It’s a church planted by a guy who fled discipline at Covenant Life Church, went to Mark Dever’s church for a while, (not sure how that aligns with the 9Marks model of church discipline) then Solid Rock Christian Church, and finally to Louisville, with his son-in-law, brother-in-law and the ever faithful Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell (two guys who know what side their bread is buttered on) in tow.
Finding himself significantly charmed by CJ Mahaney, Ryan Fullerton returned the favor and has spoken at Mahaney’s runaway church plant twice. By the way, Ryan, you should see if you can obtain some Sovereign Grace money for your new church building. Mahaney is known to be a generous man by Wayne Grudem, Thabiti Anyabwile, Mark Dever and Al Mohler, all recipients of money tithed to Sovereign Grace churches. (See here and here.)
Here is a four-minute audio from Fullerton’s first appearance at Mahaney’s church. He displays a fine gift of flattery, and with further tutoring by Mahaney, should be well on his way to climbing the celebrity ladder. Unfortunately for Fullerton, he never had the opportunity to attend the nine-month Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College, where graduates are all assured of being master flatterers. Fullerton gets extra credit for sucking up to Mahaney’s wife. Nice touch Ryan.
Now we come to what I consider to be a real travesty. Ryan Fullerton Tweeted, for all the world to see, his support for CJ Mahaney to speak at the T4G Conference. What could possibly possess him to do this? Is he so lacking in discernment that he does not realize his action is sure to bring repute to the name of Christ, IBC and himself? Does he not realize that respectable Reformed pastors are now appealing for Mahaney to be removed from T4G?
I can only venture a guess as to the reason Fullerton did this. It is known that SNAP will be protesting outside the T4G conference this week, asking for Mahaney to be removed from the speakers venue. Al Mohler and Mark Dever would like to enlist the support of their worshippers to counter the SNAP protest. Therefore, they imposed on Ryan Fullerton, among others to publicly voice their support for their good buddy, CJ Mahaney.
To view the complete article please go to the Louisville Courier-Journal here.
The really shameful thing is Fullerton has reverted to lies to make his case. Does he know Mahaney has never been exonerated by courts? I don’t know, but if he doesn’t he is still not guiltless. A Christian leader in his position should know the facts prior to making public statements like the ones below. If you have read my story above and checked out some of the links, you can undoubtedly see that Fullerton has allowed his loyalty to Dever, Mohler, and Mahaney to override any sense he may have had to tell the truth. I think he owes an explanation for his foolish actions to IBC church members.
I have published Brent Detwiler’s tweets below. He is an expert on the Mahaney/Sovereign Grace case. I believe his tweets do a good job of refuting Ryan Fullerton’s foolish statements.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
-James 1:27 NIV
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.””
Matthew 19:13-14 NIV
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers… Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
James 2:8,12-13 NIV
Below is the original statement of support published by Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Albert Mohler on behalf of T4G. Just like Ryan Fullerton’s tweets above, there are factual errors (lies, if you will). The statement was originally published on the T4G Facebook page. They received so many negative comments (some are included below) that they pulled the statement, removed the lies, and republished it on their website, where no comments were allowed. Unfortunately, this is how these esteemed Christian celebrity leaders play the game. It is sad to see younger pastors like Ryan Fullerton choose loyalty to these corrupt leaders over truth. Is becoming famous really worth the price Mr. Fullerton?