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Mark Driscoll, High-Profile Pastors, and Credibility

I’ve taken this title from an excellent blog post by Matt B. Redmond by the same title.  It is a must read.  Here’s an excerpt. 

“Take Mars Hill Church in Seattle where Mark Driscoll is the 'pastor' as an example.  Paul Tripp has called Mars Hill 'the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.'  He didn’t say 'only,' he said 'most.' 

“Mars Hill was pointed to for years as a beacon by me and all the high-profile Calvinist leaders involved with The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel.  And all of them talked about the value of the institutional church and still do.  And now in the wake of increasing scandal, the only thing we have heard is that we should pray for Mark Driscoll and his family. …

“If you’re gonna applaud a leader and his church and point others to him and his ministry when things are fine, you will lose your credibility if your only public reaction is to call for prayer for the leader of the abusive ministry and offer none for those abused.”

I absolutely agree with Redmond on everything in his article with one exception.  There was one “high-profile Calvinist leader” who did not call Driscoll or Mars Hill a “beacon” of light.  That was John MacArthur.

In April 2012, I wrote The Twin Brothers Driscoll and Mahaney.  It provides important verification and background for what I about to say.  

In November 2007, Mahaney, Dave Harvey, Steve Shank, Pat Ennis and I met in Baltimore, MD for a three day Board of Directors retreat.  During this time, Mahaney told us about his serious differences with MacArthur’s “fundamentalist’s” concerns over Driscoll.  Mahaney was willing to “sail on” without MacArthur and replace him at the Together for the Gospel conference with Driscoll. 

Keep in mind this was happening seven years ago.  If Mahaney and Piper had followed MacArthur’s lead and taken strong biblical action against Driscoll, he might have been helped.  Instead, they enabled him with soft action that was partial.  As a result, Driscoll had no reason to fear sinning (1 Tim 5:20) and his abuses continued and worsened. 

Here are my notes exactly as taken at our Board of Directors or team retreat.  I’ve added explanatory notes in brackets [ ]. 

Team Retreat
Hyatt Hotel
Inner Harbor, Baltimore


o  Could be using MacArthur in the process of helping Driscoll [i.e., Mahaney & Piper could use MacArthur] 

o  Rick needs to talk with C.J. [Rick Holland was MacArthur’s executive pastor.  Mahaney wanted to talk with Holland to help adjust MacArthur’s view of Driscoll.] 

o  John MacArthur has more areas of concern for Mark [that Mahaney did not agree with] 

o  Postponing a brawl [between MacArthur & Driscoll] 

o  Fundamentalist tendencies cannot ultimately be restrained [This was a slander.  Mahaney was saying MacArthur would not back off or change his view of Driscoll because of “fundamentalist tendencies.”] 

o  John might not come to T4G planning meeting as a result [MacArthur was taking a stand and might not participate in the Together for the Gospel planning meeting which was also a time for fellowship between its main leaders.] 

o  John wrote 5 pages to Driscoll – Mark is responding humbly, much of it good, first page with evidences of grace [Mahaney claims Driscoll is responding humbly to MacArthur’s 5 page letter.  Driscoll’s response to MacArthur included “evidences of grace” in MacArthur’s life.] 

o  C.J. made clear to Mark Dever at beginning that would not have included MacArthur [That is, Mahaney made clear to Dever in 2006 that he would never have included MacArthur in T4G.] 

o  If he doesn’t sail with us we will sail on without him [If MacArthur didn’t agree with Mahaney and back off on Driscoll, T4G would move on without his participation.] 

o  If MacArthur separates it won’t serve the younger Reformed guys [“Younger Reformed guys” loyal to MacArthur would not participate in T4G if MacArthur separated over Driscoll.  If they didn’t come to T4G, they could not be “served” by Mahaney, et al.] 

o  C.J. has more hope for Driscoll [That is, more hope Driscoll will change than MacArthur will change.] 

o  Will work with Driscoll not MacArthur if comes to it [Mahaney will help, support and commend Driscoll over MacArthur.]    

o  Mark [Driscoll] is pursuing C.J. for help and input [See The Twin Brothers Driscoll & Mahaney]  

o  Rick has some fundamentalist tendencies himself [Holland is similar to MacArthur in his “fundamentalist” view of Driscoll.] 

o  Driscoll could replace MacArthur as a speaker in years ahead [That is, at Together for the Gospel.] 

o  MacArthur doesn’t discern his humility [That is, MacArthur doesn’t discern Driscoll’s humility.] 

o  Stumbles over shirt he is wearing [MacArthur stumbles over the shirts Driscoll wears.] 

o  Driscoll has a large movement – trying to protect from Driscoll’s worldliness [MacArthur is trying to protect those following Driscoll from his “worldliness” which Mahaney discounts as a fundamentalist concern focused on externals.] 

o  No need to interact [No need for MacArthur and Driscoll to meet in person.] 

o  Work from documents [They can interact in writing.] 

o  Dan Dumas is at Southern now [Dumas was MacArthur’s executive pastor before Holland.  Now at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.] 

o  Rick can weakened or agree with MacArthur [Mahaney was trying to win Holland over to his view of Driscoll.  In spite of Mahaney’s efforts, Holland would “weaken” and end up agreeing with MacArthur’s view of Driscoll.]

These personal notes from our retreat have not been altered, fabricated or embellished in any way.  They accurately portray what Mahaney said and what he meant in context.  National leaders do not understand how Mahaney operates.  He will flatter them in public only to slander them in private.  That’s what he did with John MacArthur and he’s done the same with other leaders. 

Mahaney was wrong about MacArthur and MacArthur was right about Driscoll.  

So were Paul and Jonna Petry when they started writing about Driscoll’s abuses in March 2012.  Their efforts embolden others.  Finally, former leaders at Mar Hills began to speak out against Driscoll and his enablers.  Now, some of the elders at Mars Hill have come under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and are confessing their sins. 

Warren Throckmorton has closely followed all the developments with Mark Driscoll.  He just posted Nine Current Mars Hill Church Elders Take a Bold Stand on Thursday of last week.  Here’s a short excerpt. 

In an August 22 letter to the Full Council of Elders at Mars Hill Church (click link for entire letter), nine current elders called on the church to change the governance and for Mark Driscoll to submit to a restoration plan. They also raised significant questions regarding the veracity of information which has come from the Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability. … They prefaced their concerns with a confession of deep concern for the church:

“Where there is nothing to hide, there is no fear of being exposed.  But, rather than seeking clarity, we have cloaked ourselves in non-disclosure agreements.  We have become masters of spin in how we communicate the transition of a high volume of people off staff.  We have taken refuge behind official statements that might not technically be lies on the surface, but in truth are deeply misleading.

“At the retreat this week, Pastor Dave spoke about our church’s credibility problem.  Brothers, this credibility problem is directly linked to the fact that we have not loved the light.

“This is not the fault of one person, or even a just a small group of people.  We all share in responsibility for this in one way or another, and we must all repent of it together, together calling for our church to step into the light.

“It is out of a longing to come to the light that we began to look more deeply into certain issues when the answers that we were being given — answers that were being given to our people — continued to not add up.  We sought clarity, which has been lacking.  We do not believe that looking for answers, asking questions, and trying to discern the truth is a divisive or sinful thing.  Rather, this is the responsibility we have as elders as we are called to lead our people and the church from a position of truth and love.  To ask us not to do so would only be to further exasperate the “culture of fear” that we so desperately want to move away from.”

This is in drastic contrast to Sovereign Grace Ministries where the culture of corruption far exceeds Mars Hill!  And yet, not a single leader in SGM has ever acknowledged a single occasion of duplicity!

I said the following 2½ years ago in The Twin Brothers Driscoll & Mahaney.

“Like with C.J., Mark intimidated his local elders.  Like with C.J., the elders showed Mark favoritism, craved his approval, and allowed him to play by a different set of rules.  Like with C.J., an employee could easily lose their job or be demoted if you confronted or offended Mark.  Like with C.J., Mark set up a puppet board and changed the bylaws (used the bylaws in C.J.’s case) to secure his power.  Like with C.J., you could be excommunicated or shunned if you didn’t comply with authoritarian demands.  These boys are birds of a feather. …    

“In the same way, C.J.‘s sins were covered up, so too were Mark’s.  The scenario at Mars Hills Church with Mark is almost identical to our dealings with C.J. in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Like C.J., Mark took control of the process.  Like C.J., he silenced dissent.  Like C.J., he removed people he didn’t like any longer because they challenged him.   Like C.J., he surrounded himself with devotees.”

There is finally a small chance Mark Driscoll will be held accountable for his reign of terror.  He should have been disciplined and removed from ministry years ago for multiple traits and actions that violated the clear qualifications of Scripture in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.  Instead he was held up as an example by “all the high-profile Calvinist leaders involved with The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel” except for John MacArthur who was dismissed by Mahaney as a fundamentalist.

Many of these same high-profile Calvinist leaders continue to point to Mahaney as a beacon of light.  For instance, Kevin DeYoung just preached at his church.  How can this be?  It is beyond comprehension.

Mahaney and Driscoll have been lying, spinning and covering up for a long time.  Their deceit greatly exceeds that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) and yet there have been no high profile “Peter’s” in the evangelical church willing to call them to account.  It is not enough to remove Mars Hill from Acts 29 for causing problems.  Driscoll needs to be publicly rebuke and removed from ministry for long standing patterns of serious sin.  The same is true of Mahaney.

Here’s my real question.  When is someone going to expose Mahaney and Driscoll for the glory of God?  When is someone going to address their deceit and hypocrisy?  When is someone going to examine them and ask them, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (v.3)  This has clearly happened!

In the same way, when is someone going to ask their deceitful enablers, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (v.9)  Mahaney and Driscoll have been let off the hook time and time and time again.  Doesn’t anyone care about the holiness of God beyond a seminary classroom?  They could be carried out dead tomorrow.   

Moreover, they have done great harm to a great many people and yet national leaders rally around them rather than around their victims in prayer.

Listen again to Redmond. 

“If you’re gonna applaud a leader and his church and point others to him and his ministry when things are fine, you will lose your credibility if your only public reaction is to call for prayer for the leader of the abusive ministry and offer none for those abused.” 

To date, “high profile pastors” throughout the nation have deservedly lost a lot of credibility because they have protected and enabled two men they should have exposed and disciplined while showing little to no concern for all those harmed in their wake. 


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Ken Sande Counseled C.J. Mahaney to Confess He Was “So Very Guilty” of Attacking & Ambushing Me

I left Sovereign Grace Ministries in August 2009 after five years of non-stop attacks, ambushes, intimidation, control and manipulation by C.J. Mahaney and his surrogates.  I’ve never put into words the depth of anguish I experienced during those years.        

The abuses began in earnest in August 2004.  That’s when I led a historic meeting with Mahaney that included all the key leaders from Sovereign Grace Ministries (i.e., Dave Harvey, Steve Shank, and Pat Ennis) and Covenant Life Church (i.e., Joshua Harris, Kenneth Maresco, Grant Layman, and Bob Kauflin).  See RRF&D, pp. 16-28.  Everyone contributed, but I was the main spokesman.  Together, we raised agreed upon concerns for longstanding patterns of sin in C.J.’s life.  

Immediately after that meeting, however, Mahaney began to secretly and aggressively turn Harris, Maresco, Layman and Kauflin against me.  He did the same with Shank and probably with Ennis.  Initially, Harvey stood with me but later he decided to accommodate Mahaney’s abuses.  Finally, he joined Mahaney in the abuses.    

Today, only Kauflin and Shank remain in SGM.  Harris, Maresco, Layman, Ennis and Harvey departed due to the abusive leadership culture created by Mahaney. 

After I left SGM, I began to write Mahaney in private hoping to bring about reform in his life and in the ministry I helped to start in 1982.  I sent him my first document, Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine (RRF&D) on March 17, 2010.  It was 128 pages long.  I sent him my second document, A Final Appeal (AFA) on October 8, 2010.  It was 168 pages long. 

On October 13, I received the following email from Ken Sande who was the President and Founder of Peacemaker Ministries, the foremost Christian reconciliation ministry in the nation. 

From: Ken Sande
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 1:24 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Could we talk?

Dear Brent, 

CJ contacted me yesterday to see if Peacemaker Ministries could be of assistance in addressing the concerns you have raised in regard to his relationship with you and his leadership of SGM.  I have reviewed the two documents [RRF&D, AFA] you sent to him, and can see that you’ve identified some extremely serious issues. 

Out of concern for both you and CJ, and for the witness of Christ through his church, I am willing to do whatever I can to support a God-honoring examination and resolution of the issues you’ve raised.  Because of my personal relationship with CJ, I would not expect you to view me as a suitable conciliator in this situation.  Even so, I would be happy to suggest some independent Certified Christian Conciliators or some other organizations that have no connection whatsoever with SGM that could provide a rigorous and objective process for addressing these issues and bringing about the kind of results you request in your memos. 

CJ has indicated his willingness to respond to your memos in writing, to submit himself to the review and correction of an independent panel of conciliators who would examine all of the issues you have raised, and to make whatever confessions that panel recommends.  If this is a direction you’d like to go, I’d be happy to work with you to identify the process and people that both you and CJ would trust to serve you. 

I’m leaving tomorrow morning for two weeks in Africa at the Lausanne Conference, so I would appreciate it if you would call me today on my mobile number so we could discuss this.  Again, I do not expect to be a part of a review or conciliation process, but I would welcome the opportunity to help you find a path for resolving these issues and being truly reconciled to one another in Christ. 

Warmly in Christ,


Sande was a close friend of Mahaney’s and Mahaney promoted Peacemakers more than any other outside ministry at the time.  I was an acquaintance of Sande.  Nevertheless, Sande came to the conclusion that I had “identified some extremely serious issues” having reviewed Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine and A Final Appeal.  You can’t come to any other conclusion if you read the evidence objectively.

Mahaney later denied his sins were “unusually serious” and called them “routine and common.”

Sande also claimed:   

“CJ has indicated his willingness to respond to your memos [documents] in writing, to submit himself to the review and correction of an independent panel of conciliators who would examine all of the issues you have raised, and to make whatever confessions that panel recommends.”

Mahaney broke all three promises.  He never responded in writing to the most critical issues I raised in my documents, never submitted himself to an independent panel, and never made any kind of confession to SGM or its pastors. 

The above email from Sande was written in October 2010.  Over the next eight months, he investigated the “extremely serious issues” contained in RRF&D and AFA.  In addition, I sent him a copy of my third document, Concluding Remarks (CR) on June 8, 2011.   It was 202 pages long.  It contained more “extremely serious issues” including Mahaney’s blackmail of Larry Tomczak. 

A week later, I wrote Mahaney the following and copied it to Sande and Tomczak because Mahaney, Dave Harvey, Joshua Harris and Jeff Purswell were intentionally trying to frame me and make it look as though I was unwilling to meet.    

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 11:19 AM
To: Jeff Purswell; C.J. Mahaney; Dave Harvey; Joshua Harris
Copy: Ken Sande; Larry Tomczak
Subject: Framing the Issue & Me

[C.J.] Stop the manipulation!  Stop trying to frame me!  Your machination to tell the world I have refused to talk to anyone, including Ken Sande, President of Peacemakers, is obvious.  I have said a million times, I will meet with you and the Board but not until you respond in writing to the issues, questions, and illustrations I have raised.  You promised to do this very thing but then broke your word to me.  Time after time, you and the Board have refused to be open and honest.  I am not talking with anyone unless they first communicate with me in writing.  I have been on the receiving end of deceitful scheming far too many times.    

Indeed, I have many sorrowful experiences, where “conversations” turned out to be surprise attacks.  Sometimes I was told these face to face meetings were for discussion; but, they turned out to be spiritual ambushes.    The goal was not understanding.  The goal was correction.  So often, “conversations” have not been conversations, but the means to intimidate, control or confront.  They have been used as guises for thrusting forth hidden agendas.  Like a deer in the headlights, I’ve been stunned, frozen and frightened many times.  They are a pretense for manipulation in an unrecorded and therefore unaccountable context; the contents of which can later be denied or distorted with impunity.  

At the same time and unbeknownst to me; Mahaney, Harvey, Harris and Purswell were also discrediting me and my documents to all the SGM pastors while telling me how much they appreciated my input and writings.  I wrote about their extraordinary deceit in The Mona Lisa of Spin by Master Harvey.  It was my most scathing denunciation.  A must read.  Here’s an excerpt.

“Behind my back on June 11 [2011], Dave Harvey warned all the SGM pastors about my documents (RRF&D, AFA, CR). … Dave told the pastors, “If you haven’t received them already, you have hundreds of pages of documentation - Brent’s concerns for CJ - coming your way.”  He then proceeded to discredit me and my writings while commending C.J. for his humility. … I had no idea Dave launched this preemptive strike with laser guided missiles loaded with deadly deceit.  He ended his letter by saying “Gentlemen, it ain’t pretty…but it’s a faithful narrative [i.e., Dave’s version] of a sad tale [i.e., my conduct and writings].”

Ken Sande knew all about their deceitful scheming and manipulation.  Three days later, he wrote Mahaney the following email based upon his observations and eight month examination of the evidence.  I never saw this “Message to Brent” email until this week.  It was sent to “Amazgrace.”  That is, to Mahaney. 

From: Ken Sande 
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 6:04 PM
To: Amazgrace
Subject: Message to Brent

Hi CJ, 

Since Eric cleared up the issue about his email, I think the coast is clear for you to respond to Brent’s earlier message.  That message put Brent’s heart on the table more openly than anything else he’s written, so there is an opportunity for you to connect with him at the heart level, which is where this kind of conflict originates and festers.  You’ll need to put this in your own words, but here’s how I would approach it. 

I’ve reread this message several times, and each time it breaks my heart further.  This paragraph in particular told me how much pain I’ve caused you:

“Indeed, I [Brent] have many sorrowful experiences, where ‘conversations’ turned out to be surprise attacks.  Sometimes I was told these face to face meetings were for discussion; but, they turned out to be spiritual ambushes.  The goal was not understanding.  The goal was correction.  So often, ‘conversations’ have not been conversations, but the means to intimidate, control or confront.  They been used as guises for thrusting forth hidden agendas.  Like a deer in the headlights, I’ve been stunned, frozen and frightened many times.  They are a pretense for manipulation in an unrecorded, and therefore unaccountable context; the contents of which can later be denied or distorted with impunity.”   

I’m guilty, so very guilty!!  All too often I have turned conversations with you into attacks and ambushes.  All too often I’ve come to you not to seek understanding but to offer correction.  All too often I have spoken to you in a way that intimidated, controlled, or confronted you.  All too often I’ve been more concerned about my agenda rather discerning your needs and ministering to your soul.  I am ashamed of how I have made you feel stunned, frozen, and frightened by my words.  I’m ashamed of the many times I’ve approached you with the sting of the law rather than the hope of the gospel … how often I’ve failed to practice with you the concepts I’ve preached from the pulpit … how often I’ve sinned against the Lord and you by not treating you as I’d want to be treated.  I can see why you feel manipulated and fearful. 

Brent, your words in this email ripped at my heart, as well they should.  But they have also helped me understand so much more clearly how I have hurt and wounded you.  I am grieved more than I can convey by the realization of how I have injured you and contributed to your struggles.  I am so very, very sorry. 

I realize written words cannot undo the hurt I’ve caused you, but I still want you to know how your opening your heart and sharing your pain in this message helped me to understand and grieve over how I have affected you.  I pray God will someday allow me to say this to you in person so that I can reinforce my sorrow in every possible way. 

In addition, I want you to know that I will keep this email on my computer with a special desk top icon labeled “Before Confronting,” and I will reread and pray over your words, especially when I am about to have a potentially difficult conversation with someone.  I am praying that God will use your words to remind me of my blind spots and sinful tendencies, especially when I think I need to bring correction to another person.

Thank you for opening up to me like this.  The wounds of a friend are true.

I realize that this might seem “over the top,” CJ, but at a time like this I’ve found it is important to match the emotional intensity of the person who has been hurt, to resist the temptation to qualify a confession or point out where the person contributed to the problem (which is something the Holy Spirit can do any time he wishes), and to indicate some kind of concrete action you will take to change the behavior that hurt the other person.  If you can think of a better step than the computer icon, use that instead. (One of the greatest evidences of real reconciliation and healing would be for Brent to one day write and say, “About that “Before Confronting” icon … delete it, brother!  God’s grace has covered all!)

By all means, edit so the words are really yours.  But if you err, err in going too far rather than holding back.

Warmly in Christ,


Ken Sande | President | Peacemaker Ministries | | (406) 256-1583

Families together for life : Churches together through Christ : Communities together in peace

Sande’s description accurately portrays what I experienced with Mahaney and men like Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, Mickey Connolly and Gene Emerson.  Pain, attacks, ambushes, intimidation, control, confrontation, manipulation, fear, hurt, wounds, and injury.  He wasn’t exaggerating.  He was informed having involved himself for the past eight months!

I’ve not written about many of events surrounding these horrific experiences.  In fact, Sande did not know about many of the things I suffered.  Nonetheless, he knew the “attacks and ambushes” were severe and “all too often.”    

Sande also accurately describes the way Mahaney sinned against me and the godly sorrow that should comprise any confession.

“I’m guilty, so very guilty!! … I’ve come to you not to seek understanding. … I’ve been more concerned about my agenda. … I am ashamed of how I have made you feel stunned, frozen and frightened. … I’m ashamed…how often I’ve failed to practice with you the concepts I’ve preached from the pulpit… how often I’ve sinned against the Lord and you by not treating you as I’d want to be treated. … Your words in this email ripped at my heart as well they should. … I am grieved more than I can convey. … I am so very, very sorry. … I realize written words cannot undo the hurt I’ve caused you. … I pray God will someday allow me to say this to you in person so that I can reinforce my sorrow in every possible way. … I am praying that God will use your words to remind me of my blind spots and sinful tendencies, especially when I think I need to bring correction to another person.”

I knew nothing about the counsel Sande was giving Mahaney but I was saying many of the same things.  The week before I pointed out to Mahaney in Concluding Remarks the following. 

“I mentioned 15 areas of concern for you and the movement [in RRF&D & AFA].  You denied any lack of integrity, deceit, or hypocrisy (with one exception) in your own life; expressed no need for a public confession, and failed to see how your sinful judgments negatively influenced anyone).  You left the remaining 10 areas of concern (i.e., concealment, cover-up, damage control, spin, manipulation, partiality, favoritism, abuse of authority, lording, wrong-doing by others) entirely unaddressed.  I specifically and intentionally asked to address these 15 critical issues.  Instead you ignored ten of them.  You don’t even reference them.  So much for the greater detail you promised to supply.  In addition, you left unaddressed considerable portions of material in RRF&D and AFA.” (CR, p. 90)

I didn’t hear back from Mahaney so I followed up two weeks later. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 9:15 AM
To: C. J. Mahaney 
Subject: Change of Heart?

Dear C.J.,

I ask the following questions with grace and tenderness of heart.  Have you had a change of heart and mind?  If so, are you willing to provide me a complete and thorough response to RRF&D, AFA, and CR in preparation for a meeting between us?  And are you willing to walk in the light by publicly confessing the sins I’ve addressed?

I mean you no harm.  These are redemptive requests designed to serve you and the movement you lead.  Please provide me a response in the next day or two.

With sincere affection,


Mahaney responded with feigned humility.  He was desperate and didn’t want my documents going out to the SGM pastors.   See C.J.’s Foxhole Conversion.

From: C.J. Mahaney 
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:44 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris; Tommy Hill; Tony Reinke; Ken Sande; John Loftness; Bob Kauflin; Gary Ricucci; Carolyn Mahaney; Chad Mahaney
Subject: FW: Change of Heart?

In answer to your question, yes, I am changing my mind in regard to your request to give a more thorough response to your documents.  At the same time, I am committed to making a public confession. …

In attempting to give a more thorough response to the three documents, my plan was to give particular attention to the 15 areas of concern/sin you think I have yet to perceive or acknowledge. …

I also plan to make a public confession to the Sovereign Grace pastors.  My hope is to do this at our November conference although it’s possible this could take place at an earlier date. … I want these men to hear my confession and hopefully perceive my conviction/sorrow as well as ask their forgiveness. …

And once God has given me a clear understanding of my sin and its impact on others, I anticipate that it will be beneficial for me to make a wider confession to the general public about God’s correction and refinement in my life.

None of these things ever happened!  Every promise was broken!  Far worse, Mahaney directed an all-out attack on me and the documents just two weeks later!  Everything Sande exhorted him to confess, he vigorously pursued with great ferocity. 

On July 13, Dave Harvey and the newly appointed interim Board of Directors posted a universal condemnation of me on the SGM website.  See The Five Resolutions.

Mahaney also contacted national leaders like Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan.  These men gladly defended him and publicly denounced me even though they had not read the documents according to sources.  Here are two excerpts.

Dr. Albert Mohler

“I always have had only the highest estimation of C.J. Mahaney as a man and a minister.  That continues absolutely unchanged.  There is nothing in this current situation which would leave me to have even the slightest pause of confidence in him.  There is nothing disqualifying in terms of anything that is disclosed in this [i.e., in the documents].  It’s just evidence we knew all along, that C.J. is human but a deeply committed Christian and a visionary Christian leader.   Detwiler has an obvious vendetta against C.J.” (Dr. Al Mohler, The Courier-Journal, July 12, 2011)

Dr. Ligon Duncan

“It would have been very easy for the leadership of SGM to ignore and dismiss these charges, because so many of them are so evidently self-serving and spurious accusations.” (Ligon Duncan, “A Word About C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries,” July 12, 2011)

The week before these attacks commenced Mahaney wrote the following about his humility on the SGM website.

Why I’m taking a leave of absence
July 6, 2011 by C.J. Mahaney 

Just so you’ll know, I have also contacted David Powlison and Mark Dever and asked them to review the charges and provide me with their counsel and correction.  I have enlisted them to serve me personally during this time and to ensure this process of examining my heart and life is as thorough as possible.  And for the past year I have been the recipient of Ken Sande’s correction, counsel and care.  That, I am grateful to say, will continue. 

Only Mahaney has the gall to privately reject Sande’s “correction, counsel and care” but publicly put himself forward as receiving it.  He goes on to boast, “That, I am grateful to say, will continue.”  It didn’t continue.  It ended the following week when SGM signed their “Agreement for Consultation” contract with Ambassadors of Reconciliation and not long thereafter so did his friendship with Sande.  The same thing later happened with Powlison.

Over the summer of 2011, the attacks and scheming continued.  By the fall, Dave Harvey and the interim Board were proposing an “adjudication hearing” that was contrary to all their promises to use “an objective and credible panel” to hear my charges.  Under those circumstances, I was very apprehensive about participating.  Sande knew about these developments.

From: Ken Sande
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 4:46 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Ken Sande
Subject: Re: Confidential please

Thank you for confiding in me, Brent.  I can understand all of your apprehensions, but I do hope you will participate.  I have little contact or influence with SGM at this point, but I will do what little I can to encourage them to revisit the issue of how to constitute an objective and credible panel. 

Please keep me informed of any developments in this regard.  I’ll keep praying for wisdom for all involved.


Take note that on July 6, Mahaney said, “And for the past year I have been the recipient of Ken Sande’s correction, counsel and care.  That, I am grateful to say, will continue.”  Two months later on September 13, Sande told me, “I have little contact or influence with SGM at this point.”  That is the story of Mahaney’s life.  He goes through faithful friends who speak the truth like toilet paper.  Hold him accountable and he cuts you off like a gangrenous leg.  Hundreds of people have experienced this kind of angry rejection.   

Sande appealed to Mahaney and SGM.  They did not listen and went ahead with a “Three Panel Review” that was utterly corrupt.  I followed Sande’s counsel and participated in one of the panels.  I was forbidden from participating in the other two panels even though they concerned me and my charges against Mahaney.

I cannot adequately explain the excruciating pain of betrayal I experienced following my participation in the panel conducted by Mark Prater, Warren Boettcher, and Ron Boomsma.  You have to read, Panel Report on Brent Detwiler’s Dismissal from Grace Community Church to understand what I am talking about. 

I’ve refrained from sharing most of what I’ve endured over the past ten years.  People would not believe it.  But worse, the leaders in SGM would use it against me to further claim I was “bitter and vengeful.”  Instead, I’ve majored on the facts, on the evidence and on the truth. 

In SGM, you can’t be honest and emote without being labeled and confronted.  That includes victims of sex abuse who are charged with unforgiveness when they express their anguish and pursue justice. This is a far cry from biblical Christianity.  Read the Psalmists as they cry out against their oppressors and ask for justice and godly vindication.  In SGM, these saints would have been reproved for their bitterness, corrected for their bad theology and silenced for their published prayers.

In October 2011, I asked Ken Sande to publicly expose and rebuke C.J. Mahaney for his “extremely serious” sins which only continued (1 Tim 5:20; Matt 18:17).  He was not willing.  That itself caused me great anguish!  Once again, I was on my own. 

Nevertheless, I am grateful for his private efforts; and now, God in his sovereignty has made them public.  Mahaney was “guilty, so very guilty!!”  Why?  Because the evidence was “overwhelming, so very overwhelming!!”  That is why SGM never let me present my charges or make my case!    

There is no “special desk top icon” on Mahaney’s computer labeled “Before Confronting.”  SGM has not changed.  Dan Roca, a SGM pastor, is a good case in point.    No, the attacks, control, intimidation and manipulation continue.  And for what it’s worth, I don’t expect Mahaney (or anyone else) will follow Sande’s counsel and say, “I am so very, very sorry” for how “I have hurt and wounded [and] injured you.”  “I am grieved more than I can convey.” 


Mahaney and the Board of Directors repeatedly thanked me for the love and care expressed in Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, A Final Appeal and Concluding Remarks from which they claimed to benefit in a major way.  This changed overnight when I was forced to send out the documents to the SGM pastors on July 6, 2011.  By November 2011, Mahaney was roundly rejecting their contents in opposition to all his previously favorable comments.  Here is an abbreviated email trail.  I’ve underlined for emphasis and focus.

From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:35 PM
To: Brent Detwiler

Brent, let me conclude by thanking you for sending me these documents.  I am deriving much benefit from reading them and reviewing them with others.  As I read them by God’s grace I am perceiving more of my sin, more clearly. … So I am grateful for your care expressed in and through these documents and the opportunity to attempt to address these issues again and hopefully do so more humbly and effectively.  There are a number of ways I have been dull to perceive my sin due to the pride in my heart.  … So thanks for sending these documents and thanks for your patience with me.  I look forward to meeting with you when you are convinced I am sufficiently trustworthy to interact with in person.


From: C.J. Mahaney 
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 12:18 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: FW: Overlooking Statements


Thanks for your gracious response.  I’m not finding the documents to be of some benefit, I’m finding them to be of significant benefit. … I am eager for you to hear what I am learning and how I am benefitting from the documents.  I understand if this isn’t your preference.  I am just eager to talk.


From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Friday, December 10, 2010 8:47 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: FW: Dec 7

Thanks for your kindness, understanding and patience with me concerning my written document [response].  I am working on it and benefitting from this as I have benefitted from the documents you have sent to me.  I completely understand you will need time to reflect before meeting with me. 


From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 3:38 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris; Pat Ennis; Bob Kauflin; Steve Shank; Tommy Hill; John Loftness; Gary Ricucci; Robin Boisvert; Grant Layman; Kenneth Maresco; Brian Chesemore; Corby Megorden; Carolyn Mahaney; Chad Mahaney; Ken Sande
Subject: My Response

Dear Brent,

Let me begin with what seems to me to be the only appropriate place to begin, by thanking you for your friendship and your desire to serve me by providing me with these two documents [RRF&D, AFA] that express your perspective, concerns, correction and care for me.  I am deeply grateful for your friendship over the years and this particular expression of your friendship has helped me to perceive my sin more clearly, experience conviction of sin more deeply and comprehend the effects of my sin more specifically.


From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2010 3:38 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris; Pat Ennis; Bob Kauflin; Steve Shank; Tommy Hill; John Loftness; Gary Ricucci; Robin Boisvert; Grant Layman; Kenneth Maresco; Brian Chesemore; Corby Megorden; Carolyn Mahaney; Chad Mahaney; Ken Sande
Subject: My Response

One more preliminary point I’d like to make that I hope you find helpful.  My written response will be brief in comparison to your documents (e.g., I’ve not included e-mails, documentation, etc.) but I hope you find it sufficient to begin a dialogue.  And though there are a few different points where I don’t agree with your perspective at present, there are far more ways I agree with you and realize I have sinned. 


March 11, 2011

Dear Brent,

We hope this finds you well and experiencing the joy and peace that accompanies the gospel. …

Secondly, we would affirm a number of things in your documents.  When the SGM board, the CLC governing board, and other involved parties met with CJ in November, he asked the 12 of us who know him best to identify in our own experience the things that you communicated in your documents.  All of us could see his tendencies to withdraw when disagreed with, to make correction difficult, to be unduly confident in his own judgments (including his judgments of the motives of others), and to give insufficient attention to process in his leadership.  We, too, recognized and regretted his failure to follow up on the August 2004 meeting and its ill effects.  We agreed that during the period you describe from 2003-2004, he resisted yours and Dave’s correction and failed to lead the team to work through disagreement and conflict with you and Dave.  We regret his failure to reach out to you personally after you stepped down from ministry.  Brent, this is not an exhaustive accounting of our areas of agreement with your documents, but we hope it is sufficient to communicate general areas of agreement and our sorrow over these sins and failures… 

Yours in Christ,

Dave [Harvey], Jeff [Purswell], Josh [Harris], and Pat [Ennis]


From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:58 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Confidential


I was reluctant to send this but decided to do so.  I am not trying to impress you or convince you about what I am perceiving in my heart.  But since I began to reengage with your documents a couple of days ago and with the help of others I have already perceived a couple of areas of sin I didn’t clearly perceive previously.  It’s discouraging how slow and dull and blind I can be.  My pride/self-righteousness are no doubt the root cause.  Pathetic really.

Just wanted to inform you of the small incremental stuff that seems to be happening.  My hope is that it continues.

Thanks for your patience and care my friend.  Please keep praying for me.

With my gratefulness,



C.J.’s State of His Heart Message – Reflection on Personal Sins
December 28, 2011 at 1:05 PM
Brent Detwiler

What follows is a transcript of C.J. Mahaney’s talk at the SGM Pastors Conference on November 9, 2011. … This state of his heart message is an open window into C.J.’s soul especially the section regarding his reflection on personal sins. 

"Next, reflection on personal sins. … It does appear that some [SGM pastors] assumed or concluded that I agree with Brent’s narrative, his accusations and interpretations and judgments of my motives, and this simply wouldn’t be true[1] and it never has been true.[2] 

"Brent’s documents construct a narrative that I disagree with.  That narrative portrays my sins as scandalous, calculated and deceptive, and uncommonly intentionally hypocritical, and pervasively so, and this is false.[3]  Yes, sadly I am a sinner and throughout my Christian life I have never viewed myself otherwise, and I think I have acknowledged this however inadequately throughout my Christian life but I don’t believe my sins are uncommon or scandalous or disqualifying.[4]  I have never believed that since the day the first document arrived.[5]"

[1] This is an extremely revealing statement.  Given this description, C.J. more or less disagrees with everything I’ve written.  That includes my narrative, accusations, interpretations and judgments of motives.  It’s basically a cart blanches dismissal of 1,000 pages of material.  What does he agree with?  It appears very little but this is in direct opposition to countless statements he’s made over the past two years. 

[2] This is in direct opposition to repeated expressions of appreciation for what I wrote in RRF&D, AFA, and CR.   

[3] Obviously, C.J. doesn’t think his sins are serious.  That is the great divide.  People have to read my documents to see how I portrayed C.J.  To the best of my knowledge, nothing I’ve written is unfactual, taken out of context or embellished.  The narrative is true, the accusations well documented, the interpretations in keeping with facts, and the judgments based upon evidence. … The facts show C.J. has willfully committed sins that are “scandalous, calculated, deceptive, and uncommonly hypocritical” on a wide scale basis.    

[4] Using the word “disqualifying” is significant.  Notice, C.J. has always considered himself “above reproach” (I Tim 3:1) and “blameless” (Tit 1:6).  He believes he has always met the qualifications in these two passages.  The thought of not qualifying for ministry has never crossed his mind.  That is one of clearest evidences of his fierce pride.  There is no self-doubt or questioning.

[5] C.J. concluded on the very first day (RRF&D, March 17, 2010) his sins were not uncommon, scandalous or disqualifying even for the President of a large Christian organization.  Furthermore, he didn’t wait for any input from anyone else before arriving at this favorable conclusion about himself.  In spite of all the evidence from the past 30 years, C.J. has found nothing shameful, disgraceful or shocking about his conduct.  All very normal.  Nothing disqualifying in the least.  No wonder C.J. was never willing to make a public confession of any kind until June 24, 2011 and that was momentary.  We now know it was a ploy to keep me from sending out the documents.  


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