Bruce’s story is not uncommon and I have his permission to post it. It is typical. Nor is he a lone voice. Scores of former SGM leaders agree with him. And he is correct when he says “the accusations against Sovereign Grace are longstanding and true” and have only worsen.
C.J. and Dave are hearing nothing new these days. That’s why it drives those of us, who have been around for a long while, crazy when Dave says, “I’m growing more excited about how God is going to use it to help us see areas where we need to change.” For the last two decades men have been addressing areas of concern that needed to change. All those men ended up removed from ministry or chose to leave SGM.
That is one of the reasons, I resigned from the Board of Directors in 2007. I gave up trying to adjust C.J., Dave, Steve Shank, Bob Kauflin, et al. Every effort to provide input was turned back upon me as an expression of pride and arrogance. In 2000, I began a 3½ year process whereby we tried to help C.J. That culminated in our meeting with C.J. and the CLC pastors in 2004. But C.J. took control of that process, lost sight of his sin, began confronting me and turned Josh, Kenneth, Bob and Grant against me. After years of trying, I lost too much respect for C.J. (and others) and I no longer trusted his (or their) integrity. I had to leave. The hypocrisy and abuse were just too much.
That is why people throughout SGM need to realize my story is far from the only story! Men from around the country are writing C.J., Dave, and Steve saying the same things as Bruce and me. And unfortunately, they are getting meaningless responses. We call it “Dave speak.” That’s why the SGM Board has not acknowledge the widespread and serious correction they are receiving from many quarters.
If C.J., Dave and Steve are ever truthful, if AoR ever releases the evidence, they will have to resign from the SGM Board. That is one of the reasons they rejected my counter proposal for adjudication. I wanted an open hearing and a public report. Let the church judge. If we are going to be biblical, all the churches should hear the evidence. These claims of slander are rediculous. I had biblical warrant to go public many years ago. In fact, I should have gone public in 2004 when C.J. cover everything up and silenced men.
The churches of SGM should be presented with the evidence. I am happy for C.J. to defend himself. I've asked him to do so repeatedly. But instead he hides behind the SGM Board and the SGM Board hides behind AoR and AoR hides behind confidentialiy agreements and confidentially agreements fail to recognize the role of the church in trying a case. I have no hope people in the churhces will ever hear the truth from SGM. That is why other venues have been raised up by God to reveal what SGM conceals.
When you view the panorama of the evidence, you immediately realize there is no middle ground. It will frighten you if the CLC pastors tell you fully of their dealings with C.J. in recent days. C.J., Dave, Steve, et al, either cover up and stay or they open up and resign! If they choose the former it is only a matter of time before scores of letters like this one are posted on the internet and rightly so.
From: Bruce Farley
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2011 4:37 PM
To: C. J. Mahaney; Brent Detwiler; Dave Harvey
Subject: Would appreciate your comments
I sent this out a few days ago—and hadn’t heard back from anyone in terms of thoughts, etc.—so I’m resending it. Thanks for reading:
I’ll make this as brief as possible. I’ll probably be accused of being simplistic—so be it. Simplicity may bring clarity with it.
To see all the energy and effort going into this reconciliation and Brent’s blog and the Sovereign Grace Refuge and related websites—really all of it from all parties concerned—is grievous at best.
The accusations against Sovereign Grace are longstanding and true—of that there’s no doubt. You’ve really, really hurt some people and really, really messed up some people’s lives and walks with God. So Dave, CJ—admit you’ve totally messed up in some areas. No more Christian doublespeak—guys all around the country were grieved to see you go that route again. There are so many of us—and this is specifically to you CJ—that love and respect you—and know that you can do better than the nonsense you put out in your stepping away statement. We all feel like this is simply another round of something like manipulation when God wants to cut out the root. I remember so many years ago a teaching you did on repentance and what it meant to just let God go for the root of the issue. You guys love to control—admit it—repent—be reconciled—and then move on into all God has for Sovereign Grace. We want to see CJ Mahaney finish this race well, not just keep covering his back and not dealing with the root.
Brent—you’ve probably been hurt more than any of us—but is it really worth writing a full length book about? Are the grievances really worth websites dedicated to people being offended and losing sight of being Christlike and simply moving on and forgiving even if the other person never sees their wrong?
All of you men have lives in God that he wants to use.
All this to say that it feels like you’ve all lost sight of something infinitely bigger—a crucified Savior and proclaiming him to a world that is dying. Churches that are discipling with the Word, Spirit and grace.
It breaks my heart to see this movement where it is—but there’s a day gentlemen where you have to just decide to get a life and move on in God.
From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2011 11:37 AM
To: Bruce Farley; C. J. Mahaney; Dave Harvey
Subject: RE: Would appreciate your comments
Sorry this has taken so long. Of late, I’ve not been able to read all my email let alone answer them. But I am glad you wrote and happy to share a little of my perspective.
What we are dealing with has a long history as you are aware. During the last decade we were unsuccessful in helping C.J. to deal with some serious patterns of sin in his life. Our input was met with constant resistance. I left SGM in August 2009. Starting in March 2010, I began writing C.J. I produced three major documents. These produced some fruit in C.J.’s life but my most serious concerns went unaddressed. I appealed to the SGM Board. They defended C.J. I appealed to the CLC pastors. They failed to act decisively. Then Dave and C.J. began to spin to the pastors and movement what really was going on. I was forced to send out the documents on July 6, 2011 (available at BrentDetwiler.com).
Additionally, C.J, Dave and the Board promised me the opportunity to present my concerns before an objective panel of evaluators in an open and thorough going fashion. They broke their word and came up with a proposal the was partial, closed, limited and unjust. I could not accept.
Since 2004, old and serious sins patterns have only grown in SGM. More churches have been destroyed. More people harmed. More pastors ruined. The problems in SGM are systemic. Yet, C.J. and Dave have yet to acknowledge any substantial sin or make any meaningful public confessions and restitution. They have covered up so much.
Therefore, it came time to remove the garbage can lid so people could see and smell the trash. I didn’t want to do this but I had no choice. The issues are very serious. C.J. and Dave have been unrepentant. People needed to be informed for their own safety. Though grievous, it was necessary to do, after all other options were exhausted. As a result, hundreds are telling their stories. Former leaders who were afraid are finally telling their stories of being abused.
I hope C.J. and Dave resign from the SGM Board. That would be a good start in rebuilding SGM.
From: Bruce Farley
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2011 12:29 PM
To: Brent Detwiler; C. J. Mahaney; Dave Harvey
Subject: Dave and CJ and especially CJ--PLEASE READ
Dave and CJ,
As you can see below—Brent has laid out a pretty obvious case—and one that I would unfortunately have to agree with.
My experience was with XXXXX. The manipulation, condemnation, and spiritual control he exercised left me a broken man that was at one point almost suicidal. It’s my fault I let him do the sinful insanity he did—it was XXXXX however—operating in an environment woven and constructed by SGM under your leadership, that created that environment and spiritual manipulation that empowered him to do and be what he was.
I’ve forgiven you men and the movement years ago—but must confess even when we talked last year Dave, I felt your “interest” in what I had gone through and your desire to “hear” and embrace for the movement what you did was to a degree more of the “same old same old.” As I stated in the original email below— “We want to see CJ Mahaney finish this race well, not just keep covering his back and not dealing with the root.”
Your cover-up and avoidance of the voices of hundreds has wrecked lives, caused spiritual disillusionment, caused children to give up on the church, etc.
Please guys—deal with this—stop the games. PLEASE.
I remember a sermon years ago CJ when you talked about the challenge of finishing well. You’ve put so much into my life—and I and so many others want to see you finish well.
From: Dave Harvey
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2011 5:03 PM
To: Bruce Farley
Subject: FW: Dave and CJ and especially CJ – PLEASE READ
Thanks for sending in your thoughts. I’m out of town right now but I wanted to get back to you and let you know that I did, in fact, receive your email.
While we may disagree on your some of your observations, I’ll certainly agree that there are a number of areas that we need to change. However, we want to do a thorough evaluation of our practices which includes inviting feedback from people inside and out of SGM, and also includes inviting you and others to the Group Reconciliation process that I emailed you about. So I hope you will reconsider being part of that to help us arrive at a place that truly honors God, serves people, and allows us to get back to the bigger things that you mention in your first e-mail.
Thanks for considering this. I’m growing more excited about how God is going to use it to help us see areas where we need to change.
From: Bruce Farley
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2011 7:57 AM
To: Dave Harvey; Brent Detwiler; C. J. Mahaney; Steve Shank
Cc: Brian Wasko; Eric Hughes
Subject: My response to Dave and CJ
Dave (and CJ),
I’ve copied CJ on this, as well as Brent and several others. I’m also asking Brent to forward this to his list—and especially to Ken Sande or whoever is currently involved in your reconciliation team.
I remain thankful (I truly am) for the years of teaching I’ve received from you two and from the movement as a whole, and how it has shaped my walk with God and my appreciation of solid doctrine. I’ve never posted on and only read for brief minutes the Sovereign Grace Refuge or other blogs. I never wanted to be involved in bashing SGM. I only became involved in responding to any of this when I received the invite to the “group reconciliation”—but having briefly interacted again with you Dave—I’m giving for the time being at least my response. I won’t be coming to any group reconciliation at this point for one reason—I no longer trust you as men who will honestly care for my heart or respect my thoughts or input.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read your response to my thoughts Dave.
The way you led out in how you responded revealed the whole of what has been a pattern for at least 15 years—and I fear (as do many, many others) the reality of what your response will continue to be as you dance around the reality of what SGM has become.
Your immediate response is one of disagreeing with some “observations”—and then stating that there are areas that you need to change and that you want to hear. I would think someone who really wanted to hear might realize that it’s in the areas where you “disagree” that your biggest blind spots and self-deception lie.
It appears that God, as an act of his mercy, is bringing you guys to a point where many don’t really believe in any way, shape or form anymore that you truly “want to hear”—and that it’s not going to work anymore to try and convince us otherwise. It’s a ploy that’s been used too long—and in and of itself it’s one more sign of your manipulation, control and spiritual abuse. Having run out of ways to manipulate—God might bring you to a point where you have to look the issues of control, spiritual abuse and spiritual manipulation in the eye and hopefully deal with it once for all.
It’s not “practices” that need to change Dave and CJ—it’s your hearts. Hearing you talk about “practices” in contrast to being genuinely and deeply grieved and broken about how your blindness and control and manipulation has hurt and wiped out so many is terrifying. We’re tired of hearing how you’ve “seen errors,” supposedly repent, and then spend another few years destroying lives and people’s walks of faith.
Until you men really, really want to hear and allow your hearts to be changed—I and many others would be both fools and bad stewards of time to be involved in some type of group reconciliation. I honestly hope that very few men if any come to your group reconciliation—for two reasons. First—in not coming you’ll realize that you’ve run out of spiritual word games to avoid the real issues, and secondly we’ll serve you in the hopeful long run by not play into your ongoing self-deception.
I remain one who loves and respects the CJ and Dave I used to know—but who doesn’t recognize the men hiding behind the spiritual doublespeak that you’ve become. I want to be able to love and respect those men again.
Once again, I’m asking Brent to forward this to his list and to Ken Sande or whoever is currently involved in this “process of reconciliation.”
Sad to say—but my closing thought is a lyric from a song by the Who—“…won’t get fooled again.”
With hope in Christ’s power to redeem—
From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2011 8:37 AM
To: Ted Kober; Edgar Keinath; Ken Sande; Aron Osborne; C. J. Mahaney; Craig Cabaniss; Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; John Loftness; Mark Prater; Mickey Connolly; Pete Greasley; Rick Gamache; Steve Shank; Adam Malcolm; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler; Braden Greer; Corby Megorden; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Eric Sheffer; Eric Simmons; Grant Layman; Greg Somerville; Issac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Jon Smith; Joshua Harris; Kenneth Maresco; Mark Mitchell; Matt Maka; Robin Boisvert
Subject: FW: My response to Dave and CJ
To Former SGM Leaders [blind copy]
Bruce asked me to forward this to you. He makes some really good points. You may not take part in the Group Reconciliation but I’d strongly encourage you to write the SGM Board, the AoR representatives (e.g. Ted Kober) and copy the Covenant Life Pastors. You are also welcome to copy me. All their addresses are included above.
It is critical that all of us tell our story and provide SGM an honest critique [even though our critiques have not borne fruit in the past]. You can read my perspective at BrentDetwiler.com and access “The Documents” on the right side of the page.