Where do I begin?
Four weeks ago today, I sent out "The Documents" (see sgmwikileaks) to all the pastors in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Since then I've been watching and waiting. It is now time for comment on what I've observed. Hence this blog.
I've also begun Aletheia Ministries - a separate Facebook page and website is in the works. I don't plan to use Aletheia, which is the Greek word for truth, in order to address personal issues or individuals within Sovereign Grace Ministries. I will do that on this blog. More on Aletheia Ministries in the future.
I want my posts to be focused and of limited length. Therefore, I don't plan to make or develop too many points at one time. At least I'll try not to. Instead, I'll attempt to develop the point(s) I make and bring home its implications. I'll build new points upon previous points. I plan to write two or three times a week. Sign up to receive posts automatically under the "Connect" section using "Subscribe in a reader" or "Subscribe to BrentDetwiler by Email." I also want to use language that is accessible (you know, understandable) to the average reader.
Well, that's enough of an introduction. I'll tell you how nice a guy I am later. Let's get going.
Yesterday, Dave Harvey, interim President of Sovereign Grace Ministries, posted the preliminary findings of a three man panel on the SGM blog. The panel was asked "to offer non-binding advice on the narrow question as to whether C.J. Mahaney is presently fit for ministry based on those sins to which he has already confessed."
Today, I am going to deal with one part of one statement in their finding. That is, "No one can question that C.J. Mahaney has specifically confessed his sins, both publicly and privately."
A few brief observations.
- "No one" - this is a categorical statement, a universal negative, not a single person.
- "can question" - the evidence is so overwhelming it cannot be questioned, end of debate, it is a shut and closed case, no further examination is necessary.
- "that C.J. Mahaney has specifically confessed his sins." - this is an assertion with no proof, the panel provides no information regarding the specific sins C.J. has confessed, the reader is left to research the matter for himself, very unhelpful.
- "both publicly and privately" - the panel claims C.J.'s confession of specific sins has unquestionably occurred in private and in public, that's obvious to them.
I want to address the last part of this authoritative assertion regarding C.J.'s public confession.
There have been two occasions when C.J. "confessed" his sin in public. The first time in a Sovereign Grace blog on July 6 entitled, "Why I am taking a leave of absence." The second in person on July 10 at Covenant Life Church (CLC). In my next two blogs, I will provide detailed comments on those "specific" confessions according to DeYoung, Ortlund and Trueman. For now, let me summate my findings in contrast to their findings.
- Nothing in C.J.'s July 6 blog is specific and it hardly qualifies as a confession. It is a vague acknowledgement of unspecified "sins" and "deficiencies." Read it closely.
- Little in C.J.'s July 10 confession is specific and those comments are confined to Dave and me back in 2003-2004. Otherwise, C.J.'s comments to CLC are vague, general, and non-descript. For example, he says, "in a particular phone conversation I sought to coerce Larry...my public announcement of his departure was self-righteous in attitude and critical of Larry." He doesn't go into any detail. He provides little background. He doesn't share particulars (for that kind of information you must read Part 3: Concluding Remarks, pages 131-179 at sgmwikileaks). At the end of his comments, C.J. says to CLC, "I want to ask for your forgiveness for these sins and their effects on you." What does he mean specifically? What sins against CLC is he talking about? What adverse effects upon the church does he have in mind? He makes none of this clear.
I took occasion to share my perspective with Joshua when he wrote me the day after C.J. spoke to Covenant Life Church.
Last night at the Member's Meeting as I shared about my involvement in the process back in 2004 a faithful member asked me in the Q&A if I had specifically asked your forgiveness for dropping out of the process back then. I've talked about this to you in different emails but I said I hadn't and I wanted to do that now. Brent, I'm sorry for the position I put you and Dave in back then by pulling out of the process. There were mixed motives. I wanted to protect Covenant Life and preserve my relationship with C.J. but I was also afraid. I lacked courage. I feared man more than God. I was not a faithful friend to C.J. nor to you. I know now that you were seeking to love C.J. by challenging him then.
Please forgive me.
God bless you, Brent.
I responded to Joshua's humble note and added my thoughts about the deficiencies of C.J.'s remarks.
We have all lacked courage. You were 29. Those older had a greater responsibility at the time but you are freely forgiven.
I thought C.J. did a poor job on Sunday night. He's not really seeing the issues. I hope he returns this Sunday night and makes a clear and specific confession of deceit, hypocrisy, and abuse. He also needs to reference specific illustrations like his treatment of Larry. People are reading the documents and they know he is not coming clean.
I'll be appealing to him again this week.
Of course, C.J. has not returned to CLC since July 10. He has not been to any Sunday morning meetings or any subsequent Sunday evening Member's Meetings.
Okay, let me wrap things up. DeYoung, Ortlund and Trueman concluded their findings with this statement.
"Having said all that, here is our conclusion. We do not believe C.J. Mahaney's confessed sins have disqualified him from Christian ministry. Or to put it positively, from all that we have seen, heard, and read, we believe C.J. Mahaney is, at this moment in time and based on those sins which he has acknowledged, still fit to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a pastor to others."
Here's the stunner! I totally agree with their conclusion! Based on C.J.'s publicly "confessed sins" he is not disqualified. Why? Because he acknowledged next to nothing and nothing specific except for his treatment of Dave and me eight to nine years ago! So based upon his public confessions, the three man panel is correct - C.J. is "still fit to be a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a pastor to others." Thanks Kevin, Ray and Carl for making that clear to all of us.