Russell Moore Says Evangelicalism is in a Time of Great Peril Because of Bill Hybels – Still No Mention of CJ Mahaney

By | March 28, 2018

“Christians are supposed to represent Christ to the world. But according to the latest report card, something has gone terribly wrong. Using descriptions like “hypocritical,” “insensitive,” and “judgmental,” young Americans share an impression of Christians that’s nothing short of … unChristian.”
-James Davison Hunter, “To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World”


Russell Moore is correct – American evangelicalism is in a time of great peril.  Moore is a little late to the parade, it seems he hasn’t noticed any problems with Sovereign Grace Churches, nor the numerous other scandals in the evangelical world, but then Sovereign Grace Churches unexplainably continues to enjoy the approval of Mark Dever and Albert Mohler, two influential leaders in the Southern Baptist denomination. In the case of Mohler, Moore is beholden to him for his positions at both Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the ERLC; and Mohler and CJ Mahaney are gospelly buddies, so I don’t expect Moore to ever turn his spotlight on Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches.  For an example of how tight Moore and Mohler are, watch this video. The way Mohler describes Moore you would think he was the second coming of Christ.

For further evidence of just how perilous the times are in the evangelical world, Moore needs to look no further than his own tribe. The list of distinguished celebrities who continue to support CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches is long, headed by the men in the photo below – all speaking at the T4G conference. Do these men totally lack discernment or have their principles been thrown aside in their chase for riches and fame?

Back row: Matt Chandler, Albert Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever. Front row: David Platt, John MacArthur, John Piper, Kevin DeYoung, Thabiti Anyabwile

If the brilliantly gifted Neo-Calvinist celebrities pictured above remain unwavering in their support for CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, can one reasonably expect the average man who has purchased a ticket to the T4G conference to exercise a modicum of discernment and refuse to support the T4G conference?

We could expect it, but it doesn’t appear likely to happen. The conference is sold out and you can bet the celebrity fanboys will once again be lining up for photos with the celebrities they idolize.

John MacArthur at the 2016 T4G conference, surrounded by his worshippers.

Another telling factor which demonstrates just how perilous the times are for evangelicalism is the lack of discernment demonstrated by many senior pastors.

In spite of the fact that CJ Mahaney has now had to withdraw a second time from speaking at T4G; that there is an abundance of credible evidence showing that CJ Mahaney and his cohorts conspired to cover up the sexual abuse of children in Sovereign Grace Churches; that major media have published stories highlighting the scandal within Sovereign Grace Churches; and that Rachael Denhollander has recently made the case that there are major problems in Sovereign Grace Churches and called for an independent investigation there seems to be no shortage of evangelical pastors willing to open their pulpits to CJ Mahaney.

The latest Senior (or Lead) Pastor to demonstrate a lack of discernment is Brad Bigney. Brad pastors Grace Fellowship Church and approved of CJ Mahaney speaking to his congregation at three services on March 18, 2018.


Below is Lead Pastor Bigney’s introduction. Please watch this short video. It is a sickening display of over-the-top praise of Mahaney. Unfortunately, this type of behavior occurs nearly every time Mahaney speaks at a church.

Please note also how Pastor Bigney smoothly transitions into a hawker of Mahaney books.


I wonder if Pastor Bigney has actually read any of Carolyn Mahaney’s books? If he had I don’t think he could, in good conscience, recommend them to his congregants. What is actually taking place is shameless flattery of Mahaney coupled with an attempt to make a buck.

In an article titled “My People Are Destroyed – Lack of Discernment in Modern Christianity,” Peter Ditzel wrote, “It has become commonplace for today’s moguls of Christian media to air programs and print books that their predecessors of only a generation ago would have had the discernment to reject.”

Such is the case with “True Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions,” one of the books Pastor Bigney recommended.

One of the reviews I read online had this to say about the book:

“I was a bit disappointed in this book, the writing style is tedious and condescending.” “I had a hard enjoying the reading, as it dragged and I often felt like they were talking down to me. Each paragraph was just the same point repeated 4 or 6 times with slight changes in wording as if the authors thought the reader did not understand them the first time. At times, I felt like the authors were writing to children or teenagers.” “This book would have been much better if I felt like the authors were helping me to build on my own past experiences and understanding to process my present emotions and situations, rather than treating me like I must be completely ignorant about my own emotional life and past, and therefore need to learn everything from their expertise.” “Fortunately, that flaw was less overt and obvious compared to the condescending and repetitive tone, and I think even if you are not a woman or not a homemaker, there are still good principles here to glean if you are willing to read through redundant paragraphs and at times patronizing writing.”
Review of “True Feelings: God’s Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions” by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre

With all the good books in print, this is the one Lead Pastor Bigney urged his congregants to spend their money on (once again demonstrating his lack of discernment), and the obedient pew-sitters did so; all the copies sold out after the first service, but not to worry, Pastor Bigney reminded the faithful in the second service that there is always Amazon Prime!

Next is a short introduction by CJ Mahaney. Nothing new here.  He says nearly the same things at every church he speaks at.


At the end of the video, Mahaney states that he doesn’t know how Lead Pastor Bigney preaches the same message three times every Sunday. While Mahaney doesn’t preach the same message numerous times on the same day (since his church has only one service),  I have documented how Mahaney preaches the same message time after time at different venues.  His three sermons at GFC make my case. Below are the three subjects he preached on at GFC. Following that, you will see a screenshot of the exact same messages he had earlier preached at his own church!

Brent Detwiler was correct when he said Mahaney is a con man! Instead of reading books by Carolyn Mahaney I suggest you read “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis. Your eyes may be opened!






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Todd, I am no fan of CJ, for many reasons and on many levels. But I think, if we must criticize, we must be fair. I am referring to your comments about CJ preaching the same thing at his church in Louisville, and then again at Grace Fellowship. It is not at all uncommon for a pastor, if asked to preach at another church, or another venue, to preach a sermon he has preached at his own church. Virtually all pastors do this. I am pastor of a church in the U.S., and travel frequently to El Salvador and Cameroon to teach pastors, and I always preach sermons there that I have preached in my church. Again, I know of no pastor that does not do this. CJ may be guilty of many things, but I don’t think this is a basis for criticism.

Thank you for your comment, Ken. You are certainly entitled to you opinion about the validity of constantly preaching the same sermon to different audiences. I’m not sure I agree with the contention in your comment that, “Again, I know of no pastor that does not do this.” I know Pastors who make a point of not engaging in this type of behavior. Some of their sermons may be derived from other sermons they’ve written, but they never preach the exact same thing, word-for-word, no matter who their intended audience is.

In Todd’s defense, his concern about the practice of repeating sermons, in CJ’s case, probably arises from the fact that CJ brags about how much time he and other Pastors spend preparing sermons.

He labors for you.. it will be hard work…it’s (sermon preparation) hours and hours, and hours and hours and hours every week in order to prepare a sermon and then in order to communicate that sermon, the same people every week…. no wonder God’s word says that we are to most deeply respect and most highly esteem those who labor among us.” -C.J. Mahaney

Please click here for source

It is the second audio recording in the article I just linked to.

In the article I’ve linked to above, Mahaney claims that it takes all Pastors many hours each week to write sermons for their Church members. Does that assertion seem aligned with the practice of giving the same few canned sermons everywhere you preach? I’m referring to CJ, not you and other Pastors, Ken, about whom I know nothing.

I’m also wondering if you’re aware that CJ sometimes engages in blatant plagiarism when preaching his sermons. Todd has proven that in the article I just linked to. Do you believe that it’s okay for CJ to plagiarize material when giving sermons? Is that a common practice among Pastors you know?

Also, reliable sources report that CJ Mahaney often got/gets substantial honoria for preaching the same sermons at different SGM Churches. He is also given many opportunities to hawk his books and his wife’s books at these Churches. His travel expenses are covered. If my Church or religious organization was paying someone a total of $500-$3000 to give a sermon, I’d be a little upset if the whole thing was canned, and I could have listened to it for free online.

Just some thoughts. As I said, you are entitled to your opinion, Todd and I are always happy to get good feedback about the content of this blog.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)


Thanks for commenting Ken, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. I am not a member of the professional clergy class and am quite surprised to read that all the pastors you know preach their same sermons repetitively. I guess I can understand if, for example, you have prepared and preached a good sermon on the importance of evangelism to your congregation and then use the general outline from that sermon to teach a class on evangelism, but I really wonder about preaching the exact same sermon numerous times (nearly word for word) in numerous venues. This is what CJ Mahaney does.

When I was a member of Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, CJ Mahaney came and preached a sermon from Hebrews 13:17 on obeying your pastor because he has to give account for your soul. It was only later that I learned he was making the rounds across the denomination and preaching this same sermon at every church. On top of that, he was paid an honorarium, I believe $2,000, to speak. Our church also provided his airfare, lodging, and meals. I cannot say whether all churches did the same, but I assume the larger churches did. Besides the fact that Mahaney was basically double-dipping when he preached at churches in his denomination, if he was going to preach the same sermon to every church why not just produce CD’s (nowadays you could just make a video recording and put it on the website) and distribute them to all church members with the instruction to please listen to it because denominational leadership thinks it is very important to hear this message? Think of all the time and money that could have been saved.

I guess I am old fashioned in my thinking, but I can recall the days when visiting preachers would seek guidance from the Lord on what to subject to preach on, I would guess they would even ask the pastor of the church for his input on the subject matter.

Am I being unfair to Mahaney? Mahaney pastors a rather small church, I am not sure what the size is, but I would guess around 200 people. That church has had, from day one, five pastors! Additionally, they make frequent use of guest speakers. I realize a pastor’s job consists of a whole range of duties, but in my opinion, his primary duty is preaching. I could find many pastors of churches in the 100-200 member range that serve without any assistant pastors and carry out all their duties, including preparing a fresh sermon every week. When I was growing up my pastor preached on Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and even had a short teaching at Wednesday evening prayer meetings. This was in a small church.

I see now that Janna has responded to you with many of the things I was going to add, so I will end this. I would like to add that I do not wish to come across as criticizing all preachers. I know many are hardworking and honest. They have my respect. But there seems to be, among many of the celebrity class, a growing feeling of entitlement accompanied by a growing distaste for hard work. Mahaney preaches the same sermons time after time, has utilized ghostwriters for his books, and frequently has guest speakers. But hey, I hear he plays a mean game of golf. Great work if you can get it.

Have you heard of Docent? I was shocked to find out about this “pastoral aid.”


While I am on the subject, let me add that I find it very maddening as a church member to donate my hard-earned money to a church where the senior pastor frequently is not preaching.

The year I resigned my membership at United Christian Church of Dubai (2013), senior pastor John Folmar preached at precisely 50% of the Friday morning services. (Church in the UAE is on Friday, not Sunday.) I have noticed that PJ Smyth, senior pastor at Covenant Life Church since January of 2017, has also had a lot of time away from the pulpit.

It’s probably a good thing that I will never formally join a church again. I would raise a fuss in the yearly business meeting if I had a preacher who only preached 50% of the time. I would suggest a 50% reduction in salary or a termination letter!

Little King

Excellent article with excellent thoughts and insight, Todd.
There is so much to say, but your comment on reading “Elmer Gantry” sums it up.
I think the LORD is working to expose all this insanity in American Christianity today; to give people a chance to stop wasting their lives and to truly follow Him. God is exposing all this corruption of idols. The information is there for all to take in and process; is your heart right? Big buildings, big name pastors with credentials, importance of tithing, the list seems endless. A leader is supposed to be a servant, not someone who cloaks themselves in fake humility while really meaning to make themselves out to be great. When a person tells others, come hear me talk (what i have to say is important), what that person is really saying is that they are smarter, more gifted, superior to you, and also is implied that if you reject my wisdom, then God is not going to bless you like he has blessed me. I’d like to say it is a mental illness, but it’s just plain down-right sin. A word that describes it all is ‘perversion’; perverted minds. Sorry, but you are not that important. The two videos in your article and the one linked are the same perversion that has been building since the early 70’s in my estimation.

I have been in 5 churches for the last 40 plus years, with a lot of time off, and i have never learned so much as i have from this website i recently came across. They succinctly explain the Scriptures on various topics. You probably already know about the site. I cannot believe that I have never heard from one Christian to mention this site and no Christian i mention it to has heard of it. I have read many of their articles and they accurately discuss many issues, most of which I have never heard discussed from any church leader, for obvious reasons. Here is one they have done on leaders and servants in the church from what the Bible has to say. It is well written but not too lengthy.

Here is another great article on what biblical ministry ‘is’. I think that two of the most abused words nowadays in the church are ‘ministry’ and ‘pastor’.

I do believe that the reason why Sovereign Grace has yet to be held accountable is because God in His infinite wisdom has decided to gather all those so-called leaders who have supported them into the pot to expose them.


Thanks for the comment, Little King. I read the articles you provided links to and thought they were good.

Grainne McDonald

There are some articles at the biblicisminstitute which are very odd. They promote multiple wives and anti-Israel sentiments. Not sure i can go along with their take although I absolutely agree with your comments, Todd. Although we will attend church we will not formally join as members.


Thanks for the comment Grainne. I agree with your assessment of the referenced website.


Little King, I won’t exhaust you with my church going credentials but needless to say, I am done. At this point, I have no way to ascertain if I am supporting deception or worse –so it best to stay away.My last experience I knew exactly what was going to happen so I was able to focus on tbe Pew sitters. They were so easily led right off a cliff. Would hear no disagreement. Who needs that? It’s been 5 years and they imploded (including financial) while the YRR boys moved on to other cities. But not before the pastor preached his final sermon insisting he was leaving the church better than it’s ever been.

There is no reasoning left in these places. Just raw emotional platitudes. Not healthy