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Friday
Nov042011

A Tough Wedge & a Heavy Pike

Introduction

 I am of German descent.  My grandfather and father were both fluent in a dialect of German called “Pennsylvania Dutch.”  My roots are in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania which is well populated with Lutheran churches.  My most beloved Lutheran pastor was Reverend Ernest Flothmeirer - how’s that for a hearty German name.  A mighty fortress was his God.

So it is of little surprise that my historical hero of the faith is Martin Luther.    

Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was fourteen years Luther’s junior.  He was a pale and anemic man and Luther once described him as a “scrawny shrimp.”  What he wasn’t in body, he was in mind.  He was the first systematic theologian of Protestantism and  largely responsible for the Augsburg Confession, which is consider by many the most important document of the Reformation.  He was a towering intellectual and could speak Latin and Greek better than his native German.  He also shared a close friendship with Luther.  He said, “I would rather die than be separated from Luther…Martin’s welfare is dearer to me than my own life.”

Luther greatly loved and valued Melanchthon but differed with him on what was necessary in addressing the corruption that existed in the Roman Catholic Church.    

“The little fellow [Philip Melanchthon] is a godly man, and even if he should do wrong, his intentions are not bad, but it’s because he’s taken captive by others.  He hasn’t accomplished much by his method, and he used bad judgment in dedicating his books.  I think, when I reflect on the matter, that my way is still the best.  I speak right out and scold my opponents like schoolboys.  For a knotty stump requires a tough wedge.” --Martin Luther

“Philip stabs, too, but only with pins and needles.  The pricks are hard to heal and they hurt.  But when I stab, I do it with a heavy pike used to hunt boars.” --Martin Luther

When Melanchthon died at the age of 63 in 1560, he was buried beside Luther at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

I am no Luther, and I am not comparing myself to him, but I have drawn inspiration from his life.  The Reformation would never have occurred if left to the godly Phillip Melanchthon. 

The Need to Tell the Truth

Sovereign Grace Ministries is not the Roman Catholic Church and C.J. is not Pope Leo X.  Nevertheless the unrepentant sin in C.J.’s life is serious and long term.  So too the problems in SGM.  They are widespread and deep.    

I have been universally condemned and denounced as a “devil” (i.e. an accuser, a slanderer from diabolos) by the Sovereign Grace Board, the Covenant Life pastors, some SGM pastors, and Reformed leaders of different stripes.  Curt Allen’s recent description is representative.  By the way, I could use a hug; but please, but no more kisses from an enemies.

“Brent, you need a hug man.  For real!  The only people that would sit and listen to you for two hours saying the same old stuff, are you, a few homeless people that thought there was going to be food afterwards, and a few flunkies that actually think all this is God glorifying.  Brother, you got one foot on the grave and another on a banana and you are slippin’.  Cut this stuff out man.  Say what you got to say at the adjudication hearing and be done with it.  No matter what you say in these emails and on your blog, we are not on your team man.  You brought some good things to light that gave us categories to ask questions but now this is just division homeboy.  This is factious.  You need Jesus Brent.” 

But telling the truth when SGM is covering up the truth is not slander!  My accusations are not demonic assaults.  They are carefully documented charges.  I’ve asked for C.J.’s  defense.  He has not provided one.  I asked for a hearing.  He won’t give me one.  I believe the SGM Board and friends like Challies, Ortlund, and Purswell have torn out a third of their Bible.  The section called The Prophets where kings, peoples or nations were constantly exposed in public for their public transgressions.  These critics should also throw out all their books on Church History and most of the NT epistles.  On yea, the Gospels also. 

Of course, nothing SGM says is slanderous but any criticism or public exposure of them is slanderous.  More hypocrisy.  More control.  Yet they won’t answer questions, don’t walk in the light, refuse to acknowledge wrong-doing, won’t allow for a hearing, etc.  What do they expect?  They don’t want the truth getting out so they malign motives, attack accuracy, and dam distribution while they remain unaccountable and silent. 

People are told to “believe the best” but this is used by leaders to obscure the truth or put a positive spin on everything so members remain ignorant or uninvolved.  Too many people would rather hear prophets of peace.  Nothing disturbing, please.  But this is not how it’s done in the Bible. 

Jesus “Speaks Against” Churches

“The verb ‘slander’ simply means to ‘speak against’ (Gk. kata-lalein) [this is a separate Greek word from diabolos above].  It is not necessarily a false report, just an ‘against-report.’  Non-slanderous evaluation…is never ‘against-speaking.’…Passing on negative stuff always undermines love and respect.  It’s never nourishing, never constructive, never timely, never grace-giving.” (“Should You Pass on Bad Reports?” by Tim Keller & David Powlison)

There are many good point in this article by Keller and Powlison, but if you mindlessly apply the “speak against” definition of slander you end up with all kinds of error.  For one, you make Jesus into the world’s greatest slanderer.  Read the four gospels – Jesus speaks against all kinds of people, groups, and leaders.

And listen to these examples from the book of Revelation.  Jesus publicly exposes five of the seven churches in Asia Minor (but no one can expose SGM under any conditions).  Jesus forgot…he should have gone to these brothers in private.  He should have kept his message positive – no rotten, corrupt or unwholesome words.  No ”against speech.”  Instead Jesus reveals the sins of these churches to John the apostle who is commanded to write them down for the church throughout history to learn from.  And take note, gentle Jesus, meek and mild, uses strong language like “I’ll lay you out on a bed of affliction” or “I’ll puke you out of my mouth like vomit.”  Edifying speech isn’t it?

Rev 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you [Ephesus]: You have forsaken your first love. [5] Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Rev 2:14-16 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you [Pergamum]: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. [15] Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. [16] Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Rev 2:20-24 Nevertheless, I have this against you [Thyatira]: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. [21] I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. [22] So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. [23] I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

Rev 3:1-3 I know your deeds [Sardis]; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. [2] Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. [3] Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Rev 3:15-19 I know your deeds [Laodicea], that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other! [16] So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. [17] You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. [18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. [19] Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.

Bible Characters “Speak Against”

In the same way, the authors of Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles write down in detail the sins of the Judges and theocratic Kings.  There is no cover up in the Bible.  Even David was humble enough to write about his adultery and murder.  He penned Psalm 51 for everyone to read.  He wasn’t worried about his reputation.

I know what some critics will say.  Well, we can’t speak like Jesus.  He was God.  Or we can’t speak like Jeremiah, Amos or Nathan.  They were prophets.  Or we can’t denounce people like John the Baptist.  He was the forerunner of the Lord.  Or we can’t publicly rebuke individuals or churches like Paul did.  He was an apostle.  When does it end?  Can we doing anything found in the Bible?  I respect the uniqueness of these men, but they were examples for us to follow, not relegate to the annals of canonical history.  They still speak to us today.

We have such phony ways of interpreting the Bible.  We say “judge not” (Matt 7:1) or “you can’t know a man’s motives” (contrary to passages like Matt 7:16-20; 15:18-19; Acts 5:3; 8:22-23; 26:20; James 2:14-25; Heb 4:12; 13:17).  Sometime I think we read the Bible sitting upside down.  We get it all backwards.  Or we forget or cut out passages of Scripture that are distasteful by our cultural standards.  Instead we highlight a few passages like Prov 17:9 – “he who conceals a transgression seeks love;” Eph 4:30 – “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth;” 1 Cor 13:1 – “If I have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal;” 1 Cor 13:7 – “believe the best;” Philip 4:8 – “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – think about such things;” Eph 4:2 – “be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.” 

These are important passages but so often we “Americanize” the meaning of the text.  They are don’t tell the whole story and especially not when you are dealing with systemic sin modeled by the President of an organization who remains unrepentant having only made the tiniest acknowledgement of wrong doing and now refuses to hear charges against him. 

As a result, we package these passages together and effectively create a false doctrine regarding godly speech and how we respond to evil.  We don’t take into account the whole the Bible and we don’t always interpret these select passages correctly or apply them accurately.  Wrongly applied these verses condemned most biblical characters for being harsh, judgmental, not speaking in love, believing the worse about others, shamefully confronting sin, and threatening with consequences. 

If fact, Jesus violates his own teachings.  He should have turned the other cheek but instead he was turning over tables.  John should not have called people vipers and Paul should not have confronted people in public like Peter for his hypocrisy (Gal 2:11, 14) or Euodia and Syntyche because they were fighting with each other (Philip 4:2).  Shame on Jesus, John and Paul.  They are hypocrites.  Seriously, there are thousands, yes thousands of verses, that must inform our understanding of these seven verses that have too often been cited in this present crisis. 

As a result we end up with inaction against evil, silence, little discernment, lots of ignorance, sentimentalism, naivety, positive thinking, cover-up, and false notions about humility, gentleness and patience, and injustice.  We might as while have Barney, or Mr. Rodgers, for our Messiah.  And Yahweh is not Norman Vincent Peale, Anthony Robbins or Zig Ziglar. We confuse "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie with the Bible. 

We don’t think about other passages and these are but a small sampling.    

Matt 10:34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

1 Cor 11:17-19 But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. [18] For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. [19] For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you.

1 Cor 14:24-25 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, [25] and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.

1 Cor 2:55 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:

Matt 10:16  I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

1 Cor 4:19-21 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. [20] For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power. [21] What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

Did the authors of Chronicles and Kings slander Saul, David and Solomon and the Kings of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms?  Did the prophets err in detailing and publishing the sins of Israel, Judah and adjacent nations?  Did John the Baptist sin for his “unwholesome speech” when he called people snakes?  Did Jesus defame the High Priest, the Sanhedrin and Judaism for his harsh condemnations?  Did Paul malign churches like the Corinthians and Galatians and individuals like Peter and John Mark?  Did John the Revelator slander the churches in Asia Minor for recording Jesus’ chastisement of them?

And how about Jude.  I think he forgot the injunction to “judge not.”

Jude 12, 13, 16 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm — shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead. [13] They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever…[16] These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

I know he is talking about those “godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”  That is not C.J. or SGM.  But C.J.’s sins and actions have adversely affected many pastors, many people and the entire movement.  They should have been acknowledged a long time ago.  Instead they are covered up.  Jude used extreme language for the sins he outlined.  Strong language is needed and appropriate for C.J. and the SGM Board.   

Joshua is correct.  If we had spoken up in the past the present could have been avoided. 

July 1, 2011

Brent,

Your documents have helped me to face issues that I have not wanted to face.  I told CJ and Dave and Jeff that I have played a part in failing to challenge CJ.  If I had been more courageous 7 years ago he might not be at this same place.  I feel that I have failed many people.  And so I feel a great weight of regret and I know the Lord is disciplining me in this process too. 

Joshua

Keith Collins, Lakeview Christian Center

Keith is the senior pastor of Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans.  Their church building was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina and the church endured a great trial but they have come through victorious by the grace of God.  Lakeview may be the most evangelistic church in SGM.  They are doing a great job.  Recently, I answered some questions and shared my overall perspective with Keith on what has happened since 2004. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2011 12:53 PM
To: Keith Collins
Subject: RE: Hello

Keith,

Good to hear from you.  Thanks for all the time you invested in communicating your thoughts.  I appreciate it.  A few brief comments.  I believe in loyalty.  That’s why you only knew one side of C.J. and that is a wonderful side.  After the meeting with C.J. In August 2004, things took a turn for the worse.  The abuse began in earnest.  By November 2007, I had to resign from the apostolic team as a matter of conscience.  I went quietly though I suffered greatly.  By August 2009, I had to leave SGM.  The betrayal, cover up, and assessment evaluation by Bob K and friends was the most awful thing I’ve ever witnessed in 30 years of ministry.  “The Untold Story” remains incomplete.  I hope to finish it.  I sent my first major document (RRF&D) to C.J. in March 2010.  Since then the spin and deception has only intensified.  I cannot believe what I am seeing. 

The tone of my communication has changed but I think that is appropriate given the unrepentant state of C.J., Dave and the Board.  My language is mild compared to the Bible when addressing these kinds of habitual sins that ruin others.  After a decade of appeals, I finally had to speak out on July 6, 2011.  I had no choice so I sent my documents to the SGM pastors.  I had exhausted every other avenue.  And now the adjudication hearing has been killed.  As a result, you will never hear the truth.  I’ve been silenced by an unaccountable and unentreatable Board of Directors.   

I haven’t changed Keith.  I am the same Brent.  I still love C.J. and the movement but the problems are serious and widespread.  I can’t convince you or anyone else.  I can only share the facts as fairly and accurately as I can.  The rest is up to the Holy Spirit.  I could say much more but I am too tired and it is unnecessary.  God bless you and the all the brothers at Lakeview as you continue to build and preach and evangelize.  Please greet them and forward this note to them if you don’t mind.

Love in Christ,

Brent

Thoughts on the Future

This week I sent the following message to the SGM Board, CLC pastors, AorR leaders, and friends.  I also responded to Jenn Grover.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 11:15 AM
To: SGM Board; Friends; Ted Kober; Ken Sande; Edgar Keinath; CLC Pastors
Subject: C.J.'s Deceit

I have two more posts to write then my work is done.  I may need to post in the future depending on circumstances but I hope not.  Instead, I plan to finish up a 1,000 page manuscript and write a 150 page book that is easy to read and follow.  It is my sincerest prayer that C.J. and the SGM Board will stop resisting the Holy Spirit and yield to the conviction you are experiencing so you can publicly repent with fervency and depth.  I have been your friend though you see me as your enemy.  May the faithful wounds you have received be used for good. 

From: Jenn Grover
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 11:26 AM
To: BrentDetwiler
Subject: Fwd: C.J.'s Deceit

I hope everything is alright and you are going to stop posting because you feel that you are coming to the end of what God is calling you to do.

Blessings to you.

Jenn Grover

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, November 02, 2011 11:44 AM
To: Jenn Grover
Subject: RE: C.J.'s Deceit

Of course, I don’t know the future but it seems I’ve done what God has asked of me.  There could be more and I am open.  I think the future will now be shaped by people like Joshua, Mike, you, etc.  My voice is hoarse.  My body weakened but that is not the reason for abatement or cessation. 

If SGM comes to their knees, I am happy to reengage.  As it stands they remain stiff-necked and about to fracture.  If I need to fight again, I certainly will but now is the time for all the SGM pastors to call for [SGM Board] accountability and change.  I am convinced the vast majority of the pastors know C.J. should not be the President and Dave should not be the interim President of SGM.  They must speak up. 

A Closing Appeal

This appeal to Ken Sande summarizes my thoughts.  They apply to every pastor in SGM not just Ken.  I coming to the end of the road.  I’ve done my part these past 11 years.  My formal correction of C.J. began in December 2000 (see RRF&D, p. 5).  My informal correction began in 1982 (RRF&D, p. 4).

I am grateful to those who have been willing to speak up and out.  But there is much more to do.  Don’t let your efforts and appeals to C.J. and the SGM Board result in cosmetic changes and nominal confessions.  You should leave Sovereign Grace Ministries if there is no deep contrition.  Repentance must be public. Confession must be public.  Restitution must be public.  Of biblical necessity, this will result in resignations from C.J., Dave, Steve and Mickey.  Fear God, not man.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2011 5:17 PM
To: Ken Sande
Subject: RE: Appeal

They might take you and Joshua and Mark Mullery and others seriously but only if you get serious in public.  Private appeals have never worked.  I tried for decades.  I was forced to speak out publicly because my private pleadings were largely rejected.  Until now, I’ve been the only one willing to speak out in public.  Others are slowly joining the course.  I hope you are one of them…

Ken, we need prophets as much as peacemakers.  AoR is not prophetic.  Peacemakers is not prophetic.  You were helpful in Richmond but no permanent fruit was born because things were not deal with in an open and accountable fashion.  Mediation agreements prevented a proper dealing with Gene’s sins as mandated in Scripture.  As a result hundreds of people left the church.  

The exact same thing on a much larger scale is going to happen with C.J., Dave, and the SGM Board because of the unbiblical approach taken by AoR.  There is a secondary need for mediation.  Fine and good.  By the primary need is to bring things out into the open and rebuke C.J. in public and have him removed as President (Matt 18, 1 Tim 3, 5; Tit 1).  No one has ever had the courage to stand up to him. 

I’m denounced as a slanderer but it doesn’t matter who or how the message is delivered.  C.J., Dave and the Board would reject anyone the Lord sent to them like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.  The problem is not the messenger.  It is the message.  If C.J. or Dave or Steve don’t like the message sooner or later the messenger will be “stoned.”   We have a bloody history.    

For decades scores of people have tried to get through to C.J. with little or no success.  Now he and Carolyn are crying foul.  Labeling truth as slander.  And truth speakers as slanderers.  So is Dave.  This is so predictable.  C.J. has always acted this way.  Initially, he appears responsive.  Later you catch heck and are demoted, removed or corrected for pride and bitterness.  There are hundreds of testimonies to this affect.  You don’t cross C.J.  You don’t cross Dave.  And you don’t cross their agents or you pay for it. 

Now they claim to be listening but there is no repentance, confession or restitution.  It is a fake and that is not a sinful judgment.  There is no fruit.  Guys have tried to tell their story over the years and in recent months but there is no change.  People have been through hell with C.J., Dave, Steve, and Gene.  They destroy lives.  But it will all be covered up again.  AoR will not get to the bottom of it.  Even if they do, the Board won’t allow the truth to be broadcast or bring any discipline and there will be no reparation.   

Take for example C.J.  He has acknowledged absolutely no sin to the movement except against me and Dave in 2003-2004 and a very feeble acknowledgement about Larry T. to CLC.  That’s it for him and nothing at all from the SGM Board.  They may put on the appearance of listening but they are not hearing and they are certainly not doing.  When C.J. confesses that he has repeatedly lied, abused his position, lived independently and hypocritically, then we are making some progress. 

The decimation of people continues and it is only going to get worse.  I wish Luther were alive.  Or any of the Reformers.  Or any of the greats in Church History.  They would not be silent.  My language is mild compared to theirs.  And how about the Prophets of Scripture.  We don’t learn from them.  We don’t listen to their message.  They have no relevance today.  They have been torn out of our Bibles.  But if they were around the SGM Board would not listen to them.  Their language can be dreadful, fierce, and terrifying.

Listen, Ken, SGM must be exposed…. Practically every day they are lying, deceiving or manipulating in some way.  I am dead serious.  I am not making this stuff up.  It has been shown.  You know what is going on in SGM.  You’ve heard from lots of people and pastors over the years that were once part of the movement.  You know how bad it is.  If you speak out you’ll be condemned by Mohler, Ortlund, DeYoung and a host of others…. SGM needs to be exposed by heavy hitters like you.  We need a Jeremiah.

Brent

Conclusion

Luther was correct.  I thank God for his courage.  He was not “taken captive” by the fear of man.  C.J. and the SGM Board have been a knotty stump and a wild boar.  They've needed a tough wedge and a heavy pike.  Consider again Luther's words and then a final thought from Master Philipp.

“The little fellow is a godly man, and even if he should do wrong, his intentions are not bad, but it’s because he’s taken captive by others.  He hasn’t accomplished much by his method, and he used bad judgment in dedicating his books.  I think, when I reflect on the matter, that my way is still the best.  I speak right out and scold my opponents like schoolboys.  For a knotty stump requires a tough wedge.” --Martin Luther

“Philipp stabs, too, but only with pins and needles.  The pricks are hard to heal and they hurt.  But when I stab, I do it with a heavy pike used to hunt boars.” --Martin Luther

Melanchthon delivered Luther’s funeral oration in 1546, saying, “Some by no means evil-minded persons have complained that Luther displayed too much severity.  I will not deny this.  But I answer in the language of Erasmus: ‘Because of the magnitude of the disorders, God gave this age a violent physician.’”

 

 

 

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