CJ Mahaney has withdrawn from the 2018 T4G conference. This due in large part from the spotlight Rachael Denhollander has shined on Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC, formerly Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)). Additional heat was applied by The Washington Post and Fox television, among others.
When the flame got sufficiently hot CJ’s stalwart supporters, Mark, Lig, and Al (as CJ refers to them – known to the rest of us as Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Albert Mohler) undoubtedly pressured the unrepentant Mahaney to once again sit this conference out, just as he did in 2014. I suspect the T4G celebrities are confident that, just as in 2014, the spotlight will soon be off Mahaney and SGC and CJ will once again be able to reunite with his gospelly buddies and return to the Christian celebrity stage.
Left unsaid is whether Mahaney will still receive his cut of the proceeds from the sold-out T4G conference. My guess is he will. While it would be interesting to know just how much the celebrities will be pocketing from the T4G extravaganza, don’t hold your breath waiting for financial transparency from your elite superiors.
Mahaney is a proud man who stubbornly insists he is innocent of covering up sexual abuse in the denomination he formerly led. In his letter announcing his withdrawal from T4G he stated:
“I categorically reject the suggestion that I have ever conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing. No one should interpret my withdrawal as an acknowledgment of guilt. I withdraw out of care for my friends and for the sake of this conference and the cause of Christ.”
A few comments on Mahaney’s quote. “Suggestion” is a rather weak word to use in this case. Mahaney chose it to soften the impact of claims which have been convincingly established. Further, I see red when Mahaney ties his continuing purposeful obfuscation of the facts to “the cause of Christ.”
Here is what Brent Detwiler had to say about the believability of Mahaney’s story:
“Mahaney is a con artist. He categorically insists, “I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me personally” but refuses to defend his innocence. He just pronounces himself sinless as though he were God issuing a divine fiat.
…I could go on and on. C.J. Mahaney is a serial liar. That is not slander. That is not an exaggeration. That is not malicious. It is the simple truth. And it has been fairly and justly proven time after time.
It is an absolute disgrace that Mahaney is supported by ten of the most powerful leaders in evangelicalism. They have brought great shame to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If they were really together for the gospel, they would have removed C.J. from ministry long ago and then sought to restore him in God’s timing. Instead they have steadfastly transgressed the teaching of Scripture in proclaiming a man “above reproach” when he is clearly a man of great reproach.
I’d recommend people who are registered for the conference pull out and ask for a refund. And I’d ask leaders outside T4G to confront Moher, Duncan, Dever, et al. for their support of Mahaney and failure to call for an independent investigation.”
While I am thrilled CJ Mahaney will not be speaking at the T4G conference, there are several things which highlight the fact that CJ Mahaney, as well as every single one of the “Christian” celebrities speaking at the conference, simply do not “get it.” First, as stated above, Mahaney continues to proclaim the total innocence of himself and his denomination. Second, all of the celebrities have expressed their strong support for CJ Mahaney. Some by signing statements endorsing Mahaney, others by speaking at Mahaney’s church, and all of them by willingly sharing the conference stage with the con artist.
To my knowledge, not one of these men has backed down from their support of Mahaney.
Further, the problem is not just CJ Mahaney. Sovereign Grace Churches has many leaders that have participated in covering up sexual abuse. Topping the list is Executive Director of SGC, Mark Prater. Bob Kauflin is a close second. Both men will be actively participating in the T4G conference, as will Jeff Purswell. Why? It only makes sense that if Mahaney had to withdraw his buddies should also have to go.
Here is an interesting recent comment I found on the SGM Survivors website on the character of Mark Prater by Dave Bluey, a former best friend:
“I was once best friends with the present leader of SGC. In fact, I was the person who led him to CFC several years ago. The leader’s wife at the time was very hesitant in attending the church because she suspected that it may be a cult. (Good discernment) I work ed very closely with the leader at a large Pharma company and was his boss at the beginning of our friendship. he followed me to our home office and actually betrayed me twice to get ahead at the company and to become a leader in SGM. I forgave him and eventually went with him to Pittsburgh to plant His church in the rich suburbs. His vision before his elevation was to minister to the poor, addicted, homeless, etc. Opps, not many of those in Upper St. Clair.We eventually left the church because it was not a good place for non home schooled children to attend and the mystery surrounding LT’s departure.
He “loved” the church plant until the upward call came from CLC to be one of their pastors in Chads Ford, PA.(Another area steeped in poverty. NOT!) They made room for him by degifting one of their own. His rise to the top of SGC is history.
MP was trained to deal with crisis management and negotiation by the best in the business. That coupled by his humble, caring and nice demeanor certainly makes him well qualified to be the Mahaney and SGC front man. MP makes a great #2 man who can be manipulated by others in his ambitious pursuit of upward mobility. I personally am appalled by what I have heard and read about concerning his protectionist tactics over the years. I have tried to reach out to him by calling his office (his admin daughter would not let me through, emails and via his twitter account. No response.
Jenn Grover is absolutely correct in what she posts here and elsewhere. She and her brother were once very loyal to MP and his church plant. The SGC system is a “pastoral cult” that is in large part Roman Catholic in polity (unofficially of course) and contains many beliefs of the horrendous “Shepherding Movement” which LT and CJ explored. (I witnessed it in person). From my past, it is amazing that people believe the pastoral covering crap and will protect the movement without reason or discernment. I was there in the 80s, ready to follow my pastor to Mobile, AL. Thank God that I had a wife with discernment. I believe the abuse cover up stories but the spiritual authority abuse is by far the bigger issue and problem that has ruined many lives. It continues today.”
That Mark Prater leads a denomination like SGC is not surprising. What I find disconcerting is that a guy like Mark Prater has been extended an invitation to speak at T4G! With major conference roles given to leaders of the SGC denomination, along with the T4G leaders continuing strong endorsement of CJ Mahaney, a sincere Christian should rightly question whether supporting this conference is warranted.