A bit of wisdom in a difficult situation. . .

The following article was written by Tim Challies, an outsider to the issues surrounding Sovereign Grace Ministries. At least one ‘Christian’ blogger has thrown the author under the bus, where C.J. Mahaney has been has already been tossed, along with anyone any everyone who has not already pronounced judgment, by many who claim to be doing God’s work of ‘discernment’.  We are talking about professing believers passing judgment here, Anyway, I think it is a well written article from an ‘outsider’ – at least it expresses my own thoughts about the situation.

Thinking Biblically About C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries

by Tim Challies

These have been troubling days for C.J. Mahaney and everyone associated with Sovereign Grace Ministries. Once a thriving and growing group of churches, SGM has recently seen many of its key churches and leaders disassociate themselves, including the flagship Covenant Life Church under the leadership of Joshua Harris. This turbulence has followed allegations that C.J. Mahaney has proven to be unqualified as a leader, having damaged many important relationships through pride, judgmentalism and deceit. These charges forced a leave of absence, decisions about church governance, discussions about the jurisdiction of denominational leaders, and so much more. As churches have separated, friendships have been disrupted and long-time working relationships severed. In the midst of all of this, SGM’s ministry headquarters relocated from Gaithersburg, Maryland to Louisville, Kentucky, where C.J. has planted Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.

More recently, the ministry has faced allegations that many years ago there was significant sexual abuse within Covenant Life Church and its associated school. Though none of the current SGM leaders have been implicated in this abuse, a lawsuit that will soon go before the courts alleges that they responded unwisely when it was reported to them and that they failed to take sufficient action on behalf of victims. National media outlets have taken up the story. SGM has sought dismissal of the suit on the basis of the First Amendment and on the basis of unclear allegations.

Today I want to explore how we can think about all of this in what I hope is a distinctly Christian way. Some have heard bits of information through blogs or word of mouth. Some have read stories in the Christian or mainstream media. Most of us struggle to think well and wisely about it. I have no more information than you do, so will be relying on what has already been made public through media new and old.

Before I begin, it may be useful for me to explain the nature of my relationship with C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, though there is actually very little to explain. I recall meeting Mahaney only one time and for no more than two or three minutes. To my knowledge we have never corresponded by email or any other media. He and I have never shared a speaking platform and I have never spoken at a SGM event (though I did liveblog a couple of them several years ago). All this to say that I write as an outside observer rather than as a personal friend and write this article primarily for the benefit of other outside observers.

Now, let me share how I have been thinking about it.

There Are Implications

Obviously the situation carries far-reaching implications for Mahaney and for SGM. But there are implications for you and me as well. The Bible is clear that a distinguishing characteristic of Christians is to be our love for one another. John 13:35 says it plainly: "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Love for other Christians is the great test of our commitment to Christ and our likeness to him. This love is put to the test in a unique way in the midst of trouble and disagreement.

This situation is unfolding before a watching world that loves nothing more than to see Christians in disunity, accusing one another, fighting one another, making a mockery of the gospel that brings peace. You and I are responsible to do well here, to be above reproach in our thoughts, words and actions. We are responsible to be marked by love whether evaluating a difficult situation or taking appropriate action. We can make the gospel look great or we can make it look insignificant.

Believe and Hope All Things

The great theme of the Bible is God’s unfailing love. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul explains some of the implications of this love, saying that it "believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things" (v7). This is not a call to be naive or to deny the obvious, but an instruction to maintain a hopeful attitude toward others, even, and perhaps especially, those who have been accused. The Christian’s attitude toward others, especially in difficult times, is to be one of optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than doubt. We, of all people, should be slow to put aside hope and belief. This means that I owe it to C.J. Mahaney, to SGM and to those who have levelled allegations to believe the best about them, to hope all things for them.

As it pertains to the sexual abuse lawsuit I do not take this to mean that I necessarily presume innocence until guilt is proven (since, after all, there are professed Christians as both accusers and defenders) but rather that I am to do my best to withhold judgment until the God-ordained civil authorities have been able to do their work. It is for them to evaluate the case and to pass judgment, it is for me to withhold judgment until that time, especially so since these are, by their very nature, allegations and not yet proven facts.

As it pertains to the other charges and to the rift between SGM and the former SGM churches, I am also being deliberate to hold back judgment, believing that both the SGM leadership and those who are leaving are doing what they believe is right before the Lord. This sinful world is such that this happens, that believers, churches and associations of churches are at times driven away from one another. Even Paul and Barnabas had to go their separate ways for a time. Sometimes this happens when a deliberately divisive person disrupts unity; other times it happens when Christians can no longer agree. It is always sad but also a fact of life in a sinful world where we are all opposed by an enemy who is bent on our destruction. Because I am not a part of SGM I am not forced to take a side and, therefore, will not.

The One Who States His Case First

I have been careful to keep in mind Proverbs 18:17 which says, "The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him." It is so simple, but so consistently and demonstrably true. There are always two sides to a disagreement and often one side chooses to speak loudly and boldly and the other to remain silent. This is particularly true when one side is acting on the counsel of legal advisors who will almost always insist upon withholding evidence until formal legal proceedings have begun. We tend to believe that the side that is slow or hesitant to release information must be in the wrong, that their silence is an admission of guilt. Keep in mind, though, that Jesus did not protest his innocence and that people took this as a sign of his guilt, though he, of all men, was completely innocent.

If I am going to believe and hope all things, if I am going to be slow to pass judgment, then I also need to understand that neither side has publicized all of the facts. These things may be known in time and I do well to wait for that time if it comes.

Consider What I Need to Know

This is an issue of greater urgency to some than others. The way each of us thinks through it will depend on the extent to which we are stakeholders, to our relational proximity to those involved and even geographic proximity. If you are a member at a SGM church this issue is very urgent, and particularly so if your church is considering withdrawing from the association. However, the majority of us are far on the outside with very little at stake. For this reason many of us simply do not need to have an opinion.

The farther we are from being stakeholders, the less the likelihood that we are equipped to helpfully evaluate the facts and that we can do anything helpful with the information we learn. The farther we are from being close to those involved, the greater the likelihood that we are drawn more to the scandal of it all than any noble purpose. Not all knowledge builds us up; not all knowledge helps us; not all knowledge helps us love God and love one another in deeper ways. The fact that today’s media allows us to have access to facts, does not necessarily give license to avail ourselves of them.

If it is true that I am called to love other Christians, that I am called to believe and hope all things, that I am far outside this situation, then I think I do well to learn less rather than more. I need to know only enough to understand that I don’t need to know anything more! For example, when the leaders of a church call a members’ meeting knowing that there may be someone there transcribing the meeting with a view to making it public, and when that church’s pastor specifically asks outsiders not to read the meeting’s proceedings, I, as an outside observer, do well to honor that request as a show of love and respect to a brother in Christ. When thousands of pages of documentation appear on web sites, I do not benefit from reading and studying every word.

For this reason I have deliberately avoided learning too much. I have had to question my motives, especially since I have repeatedly been on the receiving end of scathing criticism for not using my platform to speak out against Mahaney. I have chosen to read the news stories, to understand the basic facts, but conscience compels me to stop there. To do more may not be spiritually beneficial, it may not reflect good time management, and it may not be loving toward those who are involved.

Conclusion

In a situation as difficult as this one, especially in a situation as difficult as this one, the Lord calls me, he calls each of his people, to pursue peace and love and unity. I take this as a call to consider carefully what information I learn, to keep in mind that none of us has access to all of the facts, that I am to believe and hope all things of every believer, and that there are important and wide-reaching implications for each one of us.

38 responses to “A bit of wisdom in a difficult situation. . .

  1. Born4Battle

    Here is Brent Detwiler who is NOT an outsider…
    Someone who knows C.J. Manhaney for many years – about the Challis article.

    http://www.brentdetwiler.com/brentdetwilercom/2013/3/2/tim-challies-on-thinking-biblically-about-cj-mahaney-and-sgm.html

    Born4Battle – You might want to check both sides – Before taking sides…

    And passing judgment on folks who have been “Abused” by these scalawags who have deceived many into thinking they are “Qualified” pastor/leader/overseers.

    When you believe the lie you start to die…

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    • You have to be kidding maybe? All I have had for the last months or so is the ‘other side’, apparently the one you are on. I have read Brent Detwiler and MANY others on the other side, as well as those who have not thrown their brethren under the bus, which is by the way the scriptural approach. I actually thought an intelligent oursider’s opinion might be valuable. For all you know, I might personally want to ‘hang ’em high, but my personal desires/opinions are not what I was trying to communicate. ANyone who can read could see that I only offered something biblical principles to factor into the whole equation. And how do you know I didn’t check both sides? Are you some able to observe me and know everything about me? I thought that was God business. Are you also saying I am passing judgment on anyone who has been abused? That, my dear friend is a complete lie. Perhaps you need to take a course in reading words on a page and NOT reading into it what is not there. Or at least if you are going to make assumptions and insinuations, back them up with why you are making them. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but you need to do some rethinking about your silly comment. You are embarrassing yourself.

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      • Wow, talk about not reading you in context! Sometimes these survivor blogs kind of folks go a little over the top….I’m concern for the victims of SGM and am disturbed by what I’m hearing, but at the same time I am appalled to see on my own personal facebook feed the vast ungodliness of the messengers of those anti-CJ. I don’t think they are doing any good for their cause when they become so impassioned they are willing to shoot at any believers including you!

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        • Actually, frying C.J. in the court of public opinion works for his defense, as it would most cases, I suspect. There are good reasons for letting the civil courts play out having nothing to do with scripture passages urging caution.

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  2. Hey Dan: Ok, it was a bit tricky to figure out the comment thing. I don’t want to read Challies again. I’ve read that before. But I would like you to read another comment – – one that expresses a lot to me about CJ’s role in this situation. Your ID is Born4Battle – I cannot tell if that is in reference to only the spiritual connotation, but if you’ve ever been in the military you would be familiar with the expression “the buck stops here.”

    Tom’s words speak for me (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/05/29/should-i-start-a-grassroots-movement-to-change-my-church/?comments#comment-37097). I wish I would have written this:

    It is concerning that the post, “Why We Have Been Silent About SGM Lawsuit,” published on The Gospel Coalition website by DA Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor blocked readers from posting comments. The history of the lawsuits against SGM is complicated with numerous examples of the depravity of men. The number of electrons burdened with ill reasoned, slanderous, and cowardly accusations pertaining to SGM over the past several years could fill a NASA supercomputer (before sequestration). It makes practical and Biblical sense not to open another electronic forum that may encourage the continuation of a trial that has been disallowed by the appropriate civil authorities. Disallowing comments to these authors’ letter is an altogether different consideration.

    Disabling reader’s ability to respond to the author’s letter is akin to traffic enforcement officers telling the witnesses to a horrific car wreck that their testimonies are not worth collecting. Are inappropriate comments and observations going to be posted by readers? Yes. That is why this web site has content editors and mediators. Are these authors implicating the site’s editors with incompetence and inadequate skill in determining what is appropriate and what is not?

    Many of this site’s readers are concerned about the multitude of faith issues inherent in the SGM tragedy and want to learn from Scripture and faithful teachers how to respond if these events arise in their own worshipping community. No matter where someone sets down in thought about the events surrounding SGM over the past five years or more, there is much to be discussed for the health of individual saints and the greater body of believers.

    When a subordinate officer in US Army GEN Stanley McChrystal’s command made offhanded comments about President Barak Obama to a Rolling Stone reporter, GEN McChrystal resigned his position as ISAF commander and Commander, US Forces Afghanistan. He immediately retired from active military duty in order to return America’s focus to the mission of protecting this country and prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. GEN McChrystal, West Point graduate, Special Forces qualified, Ranger qualified, Airborne qualified, former commander of US Special forces Command, subordinated his career, personal goals, and professional calling to the greater mission. Did GEN McChrystal do anything wrong or behave in a way that brought dishonor to the United States of America? No he did not. GEN McChrystal took personal responsibility for the failings of subordinates under his command and removed himself as a distraction to the successful accomplishment of a greater goal.

    GEN David Petreaus, West Point graduate, former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, author of American counter insurgency doctrine, head of the CIA, resigned when his personal leadership failings distracted from the mission for which he had been hired to execute. At the time of his personal moral failure was he still eminently qualified to successfully perform the task for which he was paid? Yes. Did his personal role in the prosecution of the mission for which he was hired require him to be above reproach? Yes it did?

    The head of the IRS resigns after six months on the job in order to mitigate the distraction his personal involvement in alleged misconduct may present to the return of integrity to this country’s tax collecting agency.

    And on and on it goes. In business, government, and the American military, leaders get out of the way of the mission when their involvement becomes a distraction. Why does there seem to be more integrity among the secular leader’s prosecution of the missions of business and government than among the men entrusted with Gospel proclamation? Is not Gospel proclamation a greater undertaking than any of the tasks entrusted to these military, business, and civic leaders? Does the value of vocational ministry friendships and relationships override the integrity of the Gospel? Do preachers, church leaders, and anyone of us not have to die to ourselves when we become a more compelling story than Jesus The Messiah and His Redemptive suffering and death?

    If the leader’s of this country’s wars understand that leadership integrity must never be undermined, why are we so willing to accept a lesser standard within the church? Maybe the Church is not at war.

    I encourage DA Carson to discuss with his son, a US Marine, what must be sacrificed personally in terms of ambition, self-reliance, and independence when a man goes to war. Kevin, if the thoughts you express in this post have veracity, open up the comments so that the world will see that faithful brothers and sisters can undertake the hard conversations that make up much of life this side of all Glory.

    Open up the comment section and let the uncomfortable discussion of the tragedy that surrounds SGM begin so that we never repeat these same mistakes.

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    • Julie Anne, I personally agree with the comment about the slanderous accusations unbefitting believers against C.J. AND the notion of taking responsibility for things happening ‘under one’s watch’. I served for 28 years as an NCO in Spec Ops and rose as high as an NCO can get. I have my own opinions and concerns and am in agreement on several points about what I thing ought to be done and by whom, but I refrain from airing them publically. I also think it appropriate to close responses down if they are not profitable to polite discourse. I never visited the Facebook page that contained the original post being talked about here, so I don’t know if moving it was justified or not. I do know a lot about the types of unprofitable ranting that seems to be the rule rather than the exception o I respect the decision to move it.

      However in all this, I’m just another ‘outsider’ trying to regain a bit of biblical sanity to a situation that seems to be a bit out of control.

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        • Of course appropriate action should be taken and there might be appropriate action being taken/going on. I said might. I have no idea. There is so much we don’t know and that we would like to know. There a lot of people screaming for action that’s for sure. I’m big on definitions – I do technical writing and editing for a living. What IS appropriate action? Should that be what (God ordained) civil courts (not perfect courts) decide is appropriate according to the law, what we think is appropriate, a combination of the two? If I considered myself a victim of abuse, what should be my reaction? Was I really ‘abused’, or am I whining because I didn’t appreciate properly applied biblical discipline in my church? All I really know is that “They will know we are Christians by our love for one another (including still loving brethren caught in sin or accused of great wrong. I know that quiet caution is wise when all the facts aren’t in for a variety of reasons. I know that as a believer I am called to be ‘separate’ from the world, but live in it and be engaged in spreading the gospel. I personally feel that the greatest battle in Christendom today is for the integrity of the gospel, although there are other worthy battles in which to be engaged. It is not as difficult to be engaged in the battle for the true gospel because we are given a precise definition that unless it includes the issue of sin, it’s not a message that has the power to save. It is at times difficult to ‘wage war’ for the gospel and also clearly demonstrate love when I become so angry at the false preachers who are leading people straight to hell with a sinless gospel all about us and ‘our best lives now’. I will demonstrate anger when I shouldn’t and be too kind when it’s time to demonstrate ‘zeal for the house of the Lord’.

          I read a lot and tend to take the words of my brethren at face value. When true words are spoken by snakes, the words are still true. If I know they are coming from a snake I won’t quote them. The lie always rides in on the horseback of truth. From what I have read of Tim Challies I have heard some very sound words. I haven’t done a ‘deep dive into his ocean’ and discovered he is a snake and shouldn’t be listened to.

          Maybe I should just stick to discussing ‘what saith the Lord’ instead of trying to engage in conversation about some things. Please pray for my motives – that they always be pure.

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          • I’m just baffled why Challies is even a part of this. We’re talking 11 plaintiffs and numerous more people who can’t bring themselves to come forward. We’re talking 3 convicted sex offenders. It’s not a matter of “if” abuse happened. It has and the courts have ruled that abuse has happened. So there are legitimate sex abuse victims. Read the stories from SGM pastors who have severed ties with SGM. How many witnesses do you need and how many does the bible require?

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        • ‘Tone’ is everything. Words communicate things in how there they are used, and even IF they are used. If my words can be seen as judgmental by a reader even if there isn’t an ounce of judgmentalism in my heart, I need to choose better words that would not be misunderstood. The devil is a sly fellow and he loves to sow discord among the brethren.

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  3. Good evening to ya Born! Hoping you had a good Friday and got some good stuff going on this weekend.

    Challies! My favorite. 😉 I’m poking the bear right now. Poke, poke!

    We’ve talked about this situation and I know that you have never said that the plantiffs were liars. Ever. You’ve also never said that the people responsible should just slide on through. You’ve said that there should be justice and that this is a horrible situation. You’ve cautioned people to check their motives…watch how they say things, benefit of the doubt, that kind of stuff. Anyway….

    I had read Challie’s piece before and I thought it was a veiled censorship statement using Christian terms to make people feel guilty for trying to figure out what’s going on. Challies has his conscience, I have mine. Challie is more than welcome to follow his, and I expect that I can follow mine as well. Challies learns about porn and sex and harps on it week after week because his conscience apparently tells him to do so. I don’t. Mine doesn’t go there.

    Brent Detwiler…I saw Detwiler praising CJ…all recorded on video and everything. Right along with everyone else. The same guy who said CJ was basically a proud jerk was right up there with everyone else talking about how humble he was and how he led them all to the promise land and how people were led to the cross because they followed CJ…that kind of stuff. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was serious CJ praise. What happened between the praise video and those leaked emails…I have no idea.

    This is my opinion, I’m not asking for anyone to agree with me, it’s just that there are things about the reformed charismatic movement, which includes SGM, and CJ Mahaney, that really bother me. Personally, I wouldn’t call CJ a true teacher of the Word. He’s a self proclaimed apostle of a charismatic shepherding movement. I mean, when you start a movement with a charismatic catholic, turn it into free-will, charismatic shepherding group and then all of the sudden say whoops! I was wrong…let’s be a reformed charismatic shepherding group…then blackmail your partner in crime…by threatening to expose the sons own problems with sexual molestation…well, I see someone to stay clear of… and especially, if they call themselves an apostle. I don’t care if the SBTS president gives you the thumbs up or not. That was waaaaaay before all this legal stuff came out. But then, the legal stuff came out and it’s just one thing on top of another with SGM. Shoot, you got something 25 or so, I can’t recall the exact number, but churches who have left SGM…so something is going on inside SGM that apparently the congregation doesn’t like.

    Challies says “For this reason I have deliberately avoided learning too much.”…and if that is truly the case, Challies needs to not speak at all because he has admitted that he’s deliberately avoided learning about what is going on. In addition, he has lots of SGM material on his blog, articles and such so if he’s pushing SGM materials, I think he does need to know what is going on.

    He also says “This is an issue of greater urgency to some than others. The way each of us thinks through it will depend on the extent to which we are stakeholders, to our relational proximity to those involved and even geographic proximity.” And to that I say hog wash. Proximity has no bearing on whether a brother or sister in Christ is hurt. Do I ignore persecuted Christians in other parts of the world because of proximity? Avoid learning too much? No. That’s a terrible argument when it comes to something like child abuse and alleged coverup. What is so wrong with a Christian saying, look, if this happened it is wrong! Let the truth be known and let us truly be known by our love! We have nothing to hide!!!!

    Then, this comment “and it may not be loving toward those who are involved”…loving to who? I’m assuming he’s talking about the leadership here based on this statement he made on his blog a while back ” ““[Joshua] Harris had his mentor in Mahaney, and I couldn’t think of too many guys who would do a better job of it. There isn’t much I wouldn’t give to have that type of relationship with a man like Mahaney.” Shoot! And now we have Josh Harris, who left CLC, left SGM and now says he himself was sexually abused as a child and please go to the police if it happens to your child. Why did Josh leave? Something is really wrong Born.

    I’m concerned about the way false doctrine is generally brushed over, accepted, promoted and sold and the way this whole law suit issue has been handled in general. 1st amendment rights?

    My question about all of this, is does God think it’s fine to teach false things and then start all over? I just don’t see examples of that in scripture. I see those false teachers getting some pretty harsh judgments. I keep thinking well…Paul,…but that was an entirely different picture. You didn’t have someone saying they were a preacher of the gospel who taught falsehood then was converted to a real preacher of the gospel. Paul was Jewish, coming to understand that redemption had come. His eyes were opened to the truth and THEN he was an apostle…a REAL Apostle with a capital A. Now, I could see a muslim cleric being converted…cuz they never claimed they were christians to begin with, you wouldn’t expect them to teach true things when they were a muslim cleric. But after conversion, if they claim they are called to preach, well they better be gettin’ it right because lots of people get hurt when they get it wrong.

    If you know of scripture that says that false teaching doesn’t disqualify you from being a preacher/elder or whatever, I’m happy to see it. Someone please show me where it is. I want my thinking to be in line with scripture. The sex abuse is horrible, the alleged coverup is horrible, but as I’ve said before, it happens everywhere not just SGM. And as I’ve said before, there are two sides to all of this and there are innocent kids who didn’t have a choice caught in the middle. But what about CJ being a false teacher and still being considered qualified to teach by men like Al Mohler for example or even Tim Challies, who though he might not be good friends with CJ, he sure posts a lot of SGM materials on his blog? I think this is an issue worth thinking about anyway. Where do we draw the line about how “off” a preacher can be before we consider him a false teacher? When is “wisdom” not really wisdom at all, just veiled foolishness?

    I consider the shepherding movement a cult, you make it charismatic and IMO, cult status and weirdness goes from orange to red alert.

    Another example, what if a pastor teaches that speaking in tongues is either fake, demonic or emotional responses…then calls it a secondary issue…secondary…something that could be demonic…but then says that’s secondary…or something is fake/a lie…but lying is secondary? What am I supposed to think about their opinions on other things? That would be John Macarthur in Charismatic Chaos. Or, how should I think If someone tells people that they are an apostle, but no no…not like the apostles in the Bible, we don’t have those anymore, I’m an apostle with a little a…what the heck? You don’t get to pick and choose how far your apostleship goes. Do some healing for me, raise the dead, speak in a real language that you don’t know fluently, get raptured and taken else where…get to writing scripture…apostle type stuff. You are an apostle or your are not. You’re not a “different kind”. It’s very strange to me Born. That’s my opinion anyway about this. There are many things to think about when it comes to this situation outside of the sex abuse issue.

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    • WHOOPS!!!! I said “who left CLC,”.speaking of Josh Harris..that shouldn’t be there, I meant SGM and failed to delete my error. Sorry about that.

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  4. You say a lot with which I am in agreement and some things with which I am not that I won’t go into them here. There IS much about this besides the abuse issues, including our Christian behavior in this and like situations. Are we behaving as we ought to as believers, or do we look like the world in how we are talking about it to the whole world? Some of what I just commented to Julie Anne speaks to some of what you said and I thank you for your input. Whether or not Tim Challies was engaged in thinly veiled censorship I have no idea. I think that on it’s face, there was wise counsel. I won’t judge his motives. If my cat uttered the words, I would have paid attention. 🙂 Anyhow, thanks for stopping and airing your views! Lot’s to think about. Will you also pray for my motives – that they always be pure?

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      • Yes, Licorice does talk! We are convinced! Not only that, she sets the terms for any petting, etc. She will get in your face, literally, then get persnickety if you touché her behind the ears until she has tipped her head to the side and given permission!

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            • lol…yes, and I have 1. The rest are dogs. 5 of them. Cats and dogs both have their quirks, but I’d be very sad without them. I guess I’m a dog person, but you know, I’ve always had at least one cat around…and the cat always ends up being the princess. My husband calls the cat “dumb dog” because we learned that the smartest dogs are as developed as a 2 and 1/2 year old in their little brains, and cats…well, like a two year ol…thus he says that a cat is just a dumb dog. Poor gracie. See what she puts up with? Meanwhile, I guess we have the equivalent of 6 toddlers running around our house apparently. Not really, I don’t equate dogs to kids…but it’s a funny way to think about it I think.

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              • Poor Gracie! I’ve never compared the intelligence levels of children. or grown folks either, to animals. Mentally retarded carrots maybe, but not puppies and kittens!

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              • I’ll send you the article I read via email so I can quit derailing your post. Have a good weekend!

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  5. Born4Battle

    Thanks for allowing this conversation to continue.
    And I really appreciate the current tone of ALL the commenters.

    Tell you what…

    I’ll pray for you – That your motives are always pure.
    And – If you like – I would appreciate you’re prayers – that my motives are also pure.

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  6. Born4Battle

    Yes – I jumped, jumped to conclusians. Please forgive me.

    Thanks for letting me know you have been checking out both sides.
    We just dis-agree on what to do about it. I NO longer believe silence is a good option.
    I believe ALL the conversationss, rantings, judgementalisms, have a benefit…

    This conversation about SGM, Sexual Abuses, Spirital Abuses, and what to do about them, is going viral and many children, many congregations are looking at the elephant in the middle of the room for the first time. That – IMO – Is a tremendous benefit.

    And many, who have been Abused by these – Hyper-Authoritaran-Pastor/Leader Types – now have a voice. And that they are NOT alone. There are others who understand that these pastor/leader/reverends are NOT who they have said they are – “God Ordained Authority” that is NOT to be questioned.

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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    • Sounds that way. I don’t think my ranting about it could be of help to anyone except make victims feel better because someone cares about things. I can’t actually fix anything, but I an sure sound off about how I feel to the delight of those watching with rabid delight, the spectacle of believers tearing other believers apart. Gives the enemy of their souls more to work with in trying to convince them that our faith is really a sham. In other words, whether we are wrangling with each other, or engaged in ‘patting ourselves on the back for our fine discernment skills, there are significant, but unnecessary obstacles for bringing them the gospel. THEY will know we are Christians by our love for other.

      One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd :)_

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  7. Dan

    You write…
    “I don’t think my ranting about it could be of help to anyone except make victims feel better because someone cares about things.”

    Now you got it – “make victims feel better because someone cares”

    You write…
    “I can’t actually fix anything”

    Well, I’m glad Julie Anne, and others did NOT feel that way.
    They are giving many a voice, and a platform.

    And are standing up to these bullies – pastor/leader/reverends – who have abused so many.

    Like

  8. Dan

    I left “The Abusive Religious System” in the early 90’s – Through much pain, tears, and “Spiritual Abuse.” Most caused by – that’s right – “Religious Leaders” – “pastor/leader/reverends” – NOT to different from these SGM guys.

    I had NO one to talk to about it for years – I was alone – No one who understood.
    Exposing this “Spiritual Abuse” “Sexual Abuse – Allowing the abused to rant – Is wonderful…

    And I was ordained – I was in leadership – then it became my turn to be an outcaste, to feel the wrath of those “Pastor/Leaders” who I questioned.

    And – When you challenge a “Pastor/Leaders”- Traditions?
    When you challenge a “Pastor/Leaders” – Power – Profit – Prestige…
    Things can get ugly pretty fast – Oy Vey!!! 😦

    The “Spiritual Abuse” had a benefit – It drove me to Jesus – And Jesus is the best. 🙂

    Seems the only ones Jesus gave a hard time to were “The Religious Leaders” of His day.

    I’ve admoished, warned, these – Hyper-Authoritaran-Pastor/Leader Types – for years…

    And have ministered to those who have been – Burnt – Burnt-out – Kicked-out – And Crawled-out – of these “Abusive Religious Systems” since the early 90’s. And I’m elated that this conversation has so many opinions and is going viral. Even in the secular media. People have to know what goes on in these – 501 (c) 3, Non-profit, tax deducible, Religious Corporations, the IRS calls church.

    Should one of His Disciples call an IRS Corporation – the Church of God? AAARRRGGHHH 😉

    These guys are being put on notice. It’s NO longer – “Do NOT touch the head of God’s Annointed.” “Do NOT question your Pastor/Leaders.”

    NO longer shaming folks to be silent.

    Forewarned is Forearmed…

    I might NOT have listened then…

    But – It would have been a benefit…
    If someone would have warned me how abusive these 501 (c) 3, Religious Corporations are.

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

    • “If someone would have warned me how abusive these 501 (c) 3, Religious Corporations are.”
      That’s an unwarranted generalization. Also, even as young believers we should ‘test’ and ‘prove’ what is true and then do what we gotta do. The written word is available to every Christian and it is not a hard thing to just examine everything in light of it’s truth. We don’t need other ‘people’ to warn us about what is false. Learn what is true and the false becomes apparent. I’m not a stranger to the false ‘in’ churches and it has always been God’s written word that has had the FINAL say about what is true or false. When this prodigal came home, I had a God given hunger for the Word above everything else, Nobody even had to tell me to put everything under its light. Therefore I could not then, nor can I now blame everyone but myself for my misfortunes – at least recognize that it’s not ALL somebody else’s fault.

      There’s a difference between Jesus climbing all over the religious leaders of His day and what is happenning in the blogosphere. He was and IS God and actually knows what is in the heart of a man – every man. . We aren’t God and have no right to pass judgments on the motives of others.

      Does God need US to put them on notice? Surely NOT! He already has them on notice and if they know their Bibles, they already KNOW the creator of the universe has not missed a thing, and WILL bring justice.

      I KNOW my puny little voice is no match for God’s thunder! ” I guess you think yours is?

      “And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28

      Like

  9. Dan

    Much agreement when you write…
    “The written word is available to every Christian and it is not a hard thing to just examine everything in light of it’s truth. We don’t need other ‘people’ to warn us about what is false. Learn what is true and the false becomes apparent..”

    Yes – I’m in agreement now – BUT – In the begining, I also believed, and trusted, those who called themselves – “Pastor/leaders” when they told me I should obey them, submit to them, and learn from them. After all, these guys loved me and said – It was for my good. “After all they expressed great concern for (me – their) victims – at least their words did.”

    And they did use the scriptures very skillfully to prove all that, and convince me.

    And I “Ignored,” or did NOT pay attention to, ALL the warnings in the Bible about – False Apostles – Many False Prophets – False Teachers – False Christs – False Brethren – Deceitful Workers – Wolves – Dogs – Swine…

    Jesus teaching His Disciples NOT to “Exercise Authority” like the Gentiles. Mark 10:42
    Jesus teaching His Disciples NOT to be called “Leader.” Mat 23:10 NASB
    Paul teaching Elders – NOT to be “Lords over God’s heritage.” 1 Pet 5:3…

    Because – I could NOT bring myself to believe My “Pastor/Leaders,” who loved me,
    were a part of ALL these false guys. “At least their words did” say they loved me.

    They made it seem so right when they “Exercised Authority” like the Gentiles:” In opposition to what Jesus taught. They made it seem so right when they “called themselves Leaders:” In opposition to what Jesus taught. They made it seem so right when they would act as “Lords over God’s heritage:” In opposition to what Paul taught.

    And I now agree with you when you write…
    “nor can I now blame everyone but myself for my misfortunes”

    Yes – I put my trust in “Mere Fallible Humans.” And – let man deceive me.
    When the Bible says NOT to do that.

    Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words:
    2 Thess 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means:
    1 John 3:7* Little children, let no man deceive you:

    Psalm 118:8-9
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

    Jer 17:5
    Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man…

    Mat 24:11
    And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

    2 Cor 11:13
    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers,
    transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.

    Today, I’m thankful for what I went through…
    The “Spiritual Abuse” opened my eyes and drove me to Jesus.

    And Jesus is the best teacher – Yes???

    Like

    • I think it’s safe to say that we all have fallen prey. Hopefully we have become wiser through the years. I know I’ve fallen prey to false teachers and doctrine. When we are young new believer we are the most susceptible. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And Yes Jesus is the best teacher, through the revealed written Word.

      Like

  10. Dan

    I’m pleased that you hold the written word in high esteem – You write…
    “The written word is available to every Christian and it is not a hard thing to just examine everything in light of it’s truth.”

    I’ve noticed, most of these “Spiritually Abusive” guys use the word “Biblical” – a lot.
    To me “Biblical” means – it is in the Bible.

    If something is NOT in the Bible, would you agree, we can call it…
    Non-Biblical – Extra-Biblical – Anti-Biblical?

    We are also warned by Jesus about Commandments of Men, Doctrines of Men, And…
    Traditions of Men, that Make Void the Word of God. Mk 7:13

    Mark 7:13
    KJV – Making the word of God of “none effect” through your tradition…
    ASV – Making “void” the word of God by your tradition…
    NIV – Thus you “nullify” the word of God by your tradition…

    So, after leaving “The Abusive Religious System” I notice these “Spiritually Abusive” guys…
    Who love to controll and manipulate the folks…
    Who love all their works they do for to be seen of men…
    Who love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the congregation…
    Who love greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Pastor, Pastor…

    I notice these “Spiritually Abusive” guys have taken a lot of “Titles/Postions” NOT found in the Bible, to automatically seperate themselves from “WE” regular sheep and “Lord it over God’s heritage.”

    Haven’t you ever wondered? Why? In the Bible?
    NOT one, Disciple of Jesus, called themself – pastor/leader/reverend?
    NOT one, Disciple of Jesus, called another Disciple – pastor/leader/reverend?
    NOT one, Disciple of Jesus, had the “Title/Position” – pastor/leader/reverend?
    NOT one, Disciple of Jesus, was Hired, or Fired, as a – pastor/leader/reverend?

    Now I cudda missed it – And maybe you can help – Can you find for me, In the Biible…

    1 -Pastor/Leader/Reverend. 2 – Under Shepherd. 3 – Senior Pastor. 4 – Lead Pastor. 5 – Teaching Pastor. 6 – Executive Pastor. 6 – Youth Pastor. 7 – Singles Pastor. 8 – Worship Pastor. 9 – Reverend. 10 – Holy Reverend. 11 – Most Holy Right Reverend. 12 – ArchDeacon. 13 – Canon. 14 – Prelate. 15 – Rector. 16 – Cardinal. 17 – Pope. 18 – Doctor. 19 – M.Div. 20 – Paid Professional Pastors – in Pulpits – Preaching – to People – in Pews….

    The only one I can find in the Bible with the “Title” Shepherd/leader/Reverend – Is Jesus. 😉

    If these “Titles” are NOT in the Bible? – Can we call them?
    Non-Biblical – Extra-Biblical – Anti-Biblical?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  11. Oh – and Dan – Botn4Battle…

    Here are a couple of veres to keep this conversation about “Titles” Biblical. 😉

    Job 32:21-22 KJV
    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give **flattering titles** unto man.
    For I know not to give **flattering titles;**
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.

    What is popular is NOT always “Truth.”
    What is “Truth” is NOT always popular.

    Like

    • Sir,

      I wasn’t aware that this was a conversation about ‘flattering titles’. And yes, the ultimate response of the younger Elihu to Job and company does provide us with wise counsel. ‘Flattering titles’ has never been part of my conversation here. If they were, it would be to say idolizing men (personality cults) are really a form of idolatry (a general statement), but I would refrain from personal accusations. But that’s just me.

      Like

  12. After the second amendment to the conspiracy lawsuit, SGM made this response:

    “The charges in this amended complaint are serious, grievous, and difficult to read. The thought of such alleged abuse is extremely disturbing. Because of our resolve to see truth and justice prevail, we continue to work closely with legal counsel. ”

    “Our careful review of the allegations to date has not produced any evidence of any cover-up or conspiracy. If we discover otherwise, our Board will immediately report it to the authorities and see that it is prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

    “Without minimizing the serious nature of these allegations nor the grievous harm individuals may have experienced, we understand that it is possible for people to be wrongly accused. We thank God for the judicial system where these allegations can be brought, a defense made, and a verdict rendered through a fair and just process.”

    As a believer, I am duty bound before God and Holy Writ to hope and pray for the best result for all parties and that justice will prevail. The SGM response was reported in Christianity Today, as well as the response of one of the accused.

    No matter what we personally feel (and emotions are running high) we are to hold our tongues. Undoubtedly there are those among us (believers) who have already, or will judge SGM’s response to be a bunch of hooey, and even make their opinions known to the entire world via the blogosphere,, certain that they are right. They might be, I have no idea if they are or aren’t. However, our chief mission on this earth is to bring glory to our King and share Jesus Christ and the message of his gospel with the lost and dying all around us,

    Like

  13. Dan

    You are correct when you say…
    ‘I wasn’t aware that this was a conversation about ‘flattering titles’.”

    I threw in the topic of “Titles/Positions” – ‘flattering titles’ – Because, you seemed to think the assesment of “how abusive these abusive, 501 (c) 3, non-profit, tax-deductible, Religious Corporations, that the IRS calls church, really are. – Was, according to you **an unwarranted generalization.**

    But you did NOT explain why this statement was **an unwarranted generalization.**

    You write @ June 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm…
    ““If someone would have warned me how abusive these 501 (c) 3, Religious Corporations are.” **That’s an unwarranted generalization.** Also, even as young believers we should ‘test’ and ‘prove’ what is true and then do what we gotta do. “

    Unwarranted – Having no justification; groundless: not reasonable or right.

    Generalization – Taking one or a few facts and making a broader, more universal statement.

    So, I brought up “Titles/Positions” – NOT found in the Bible, – to “Justify” and “Make Reasonable” that statement about – “how abusive these 501 (c) 3, Religious Corporations are.”

    I’ve experienced, and witnessed, how these “Non-Biblical Titles” Affect/Infect ALL these “abusive 501 (c) 3, Religious Corporations,” – Affect/Infect those with the “Titles,”- and Affect/Infect the believers who attend and give money to these Religious Corporations and give money to these guys with these Non-Bibical “Titles.”

    I appreciate it when you say @ June 3, 2013 at 5:19 am…
    “‘Flattering titles’ has never been part of my conversation here. If they were, it would be to say idolizing men (personality cults) are really a form of idolatry (a general statement),”

    In my experience with pastor/leader/reverends and having been in “Leadership” shows me…

    “Titles” become “Idols” ………….(“Idols” of the heart – Ezek 14:1-11 KJV)
    “Pastors” become “Masters”……( A No, No, for His Disciples. Mat 23:10 KJV)

    And – No matter how loving… eventually…
    And – No matter how humble… eventually…
    And – No matter how much of a servant… eventually…

    The pastor/leader/reverend will “Exercise Authority” like the gentiles – A No, No. – Mark 10:42
    And “Lord it over God’s heritage.” – A No, No. 1 Pet 5:3

    And that is always the beginning of “Spiritual Abuse.”

    pastor/leader/reverend = Exercise Authority = Lord it over = Abuse = Always…

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

    • Not all 501c(3)’s are abusive, therefore it was an unwaranted generalization. At least I didn’t say something like making a judgment about all 501c(3) based on the actions of one/some is stupid. Even though a true statement, someone might have ‘felt’ judged and ‘confirming’ the suggestion someone made about me being a ‘spiritual abuser’.

      My issue is STILL the matter of Christian behavior before a lost and dying world and NOT the details of a particular situation.

      Like

  14. Dan

    I’m glad you did NOT say that my statement was stupid – So I would NOT feel judged…
    Because that would have been stupid, and bad Christian behavior, on your part…

    ***** Addional content removed due to the lack of content relevant to Christian behavior in difficult situations, which was the topic of the post*****

    Like

  15. Dan

    I apologize for my vindictive comments…

    And – I apologize for NOT sticking to the topic of the post…

    Please forgive me…

    Like

    • Not to worry, my friend. I not exactly innocent in the matter of sticking to posts either, but getting better. We all do it and it takes time to overcome the tendency. Also, the ‘blog’ venue strips out all of the ‘non-verbal’clues and such that face-to-face communications gives us, making good communication a bit more difficult. I did not see your comment as vindictive because to do so would have been to think I knew your motive in the comment.

      Like

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