By Peter Lumpkins
October 10, 2013
Things have been fairly quiet concerning the sexual abuse scandal surrounding C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), and several organizations (churches and schools) named in a civil lawsuit filed approximately a year ago. Since Susan Burke filed the Maryland litigation, several significant events took place, events including:
- Mahaney stepping down as CEO of SGM in April
- Mahaney announcing three months later he would not participate in the 2014 Together for the Gospel Conference, April 8-10, 2014. The announcement came just after the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly adopted a resolution I originally proposed which resolved, in part, to “encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse.” The resolution was yet another significant event happening since October, 2012.
- The Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition putting up a supporting statement for C.J. Mahaney contra the dozens of victims allegedly affected by the child sex abuse scandal, a supporting statement that backfired prompting both supporting parties to either edit the statement of support for Mahaney or withdraw the supporting statement altogether. In addition, the confusing statements of support for Mahaney drew the reputable rebuttal of Basyle "Boz" Tchividjian, founder and attorney for G.R.A.C.E.—“a non-profit organization made up of highly trained and experienced multi-disciplinary professionals who seek to educate and empower the Christian community to identify, confront and respond to the sin of child abuse” (from their website), grandson of Billy Graham, and Assistant Professor of Law at Liberty University Law School. Tchividijan’s rigorous advocacy for sexually abused victims as well as his emboldened criticism of men like Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Justin Taylor, and others for publicly supporting C.J. Mahaney contra the sexually abused families and children may very well have set the stage for the public rebuke of and private intimidation toward family advocate and Christian Talk Show host, Janet Mefferd.
- The Together for the Gospel group rewrote its history leaving out any reference to C.J. Mahaney as one of the founding members (I’m indebted to a link on The Wartburg Watch for pointing out the change on Together for the Gospel website)
More could be listed as significant events taking place which signals the initial support for C.J. Mahaney appears to be waning at least in some visible ways.
However, there still remain some troubling events taking place concerning the continued support of C.J. Mahaney, especially unnecessary public support from high profile Southern Baptists. I’ll mention two.
First, regardless of Together for the Gospel’s rewriting of its history leaving out one of the key founding members, C.J. Mahaney, fellow Together for the Gospel founder, Al Mohler, remains close friends with Mahaney, so close in fact Mohler has offered unwavering support for C.J. Mahaney publicly insisting upon Mahaney’s total innocence from any wrong-doing toward the sexually abused victims. Nor did Mohler fail to unequivocally defend Mahaney when specific charges of failed leadership were brought by prominent pastors in Mahaney’s own denomination. Mohler publicly dismissed their complaints outright.
Not that being friends with Mahaney is morally inappropriate. However, it seems to me Mohler’s public support for Mahaney continues to cross the threshold of proper discretion by dragging all Southern Baptists across the threshold with him. The fact is Al Mohler is an employee of Southern Baptists. He cannot and should not be empowered to jeopardize either our entities or our name by forging friendly liaisons with people or organizations who pose probable liability to us.
And, we so much as said so at the Southern Baptist Convention in June of this year by resolving to “encourage ... employees of the Southern Baptist Convention” to utilize the “highest sense of discernment” in their affiliations with “groups” or “individuals” that possess “questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse.”
Even so, Al Mohler still affiliates closely with C.J. Mahaney by partnering with him in theological education. Note Mahaney’s announcement on SGM's website concerning its partnership with our so-called flagship seminary:
Meet the Pastors College Class of 2014
September 27, 2013
“No work can possibly confer a greater benefit upon mankind than the training of ministers who God has chosen, for around them spring up churches.” —C.H. Spurgeon
Sovereign Grace Pastors College
By God’s grace, the Sovereign Grace Pastors College has trained 252 men for ministry since opening in 1997. This past week, we welcomed our sixteenth Pastors College class. This is our second class in Louisville, Kentucky. The first year proved to be a rich one with much blessing coming from our new location, including our degree-completion program with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reduced costs for students and churches, and our students’ up-close-and-personal involvement in a new church plant—Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.
Thus after Southern Baptists made it fairly clear we needed to avoid unhealthy liaisons with groups or individuals embracing questionable policies and practices in protecting children, apparently Al Mohler partners with C.J. Mahaney’s group in a “degree-completion program” with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. My brothers and sisters, if that’s not an in-your-face-Southern-Baptists decision, I frankly don’t know what is.
“A preacher tainted by unproven allegations of covering up sexual abuse is returning to a Southern Baptist seminary campus after a convention resolution urged ‘discernment’ about identifying with individuals perceived as being soft on pedophiles.”
Thus, again we have a president who apparently seems not to care what Southern Baptists think and is determined to affiliate with whom he wants no matter if the affiliation is funded by Southern Baptists. Moreover, were it not so tragic that Southeastern is now sponsoring Mahaney in the face of Southern Baptists’ resolution, it’s nothing less than a Georgia hoot to see the pictures of the platform lineup with C. J. Mahaney. Look who’s listed two doors down from Mahaney on the speaker schedule:
C.J. Mahaney is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, Ky. Mahaney serves on the Council of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Mahaney’s books include Humility, Living the Cross-Centered Life, and Sex,Romance and the Glory of God. He is also the editor of Worldliness and Why Small Groups? and has coauthored other books in Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Pursuit of Godliness series. He is the former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries, which exists to establish and support local churches.
Tony Merida currently serves two positions: pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC and Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. After previously serving as pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS and Dean of Chapel and Assistant Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Merida, sensing the call to plant a church, moved with his family to the Raleigh area to pastor and teach. Tony is married to Kimberly and they have four children.
Russell D. Moore is President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the SBC's official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns. A widely-sought cultural commentator, Dr. Moore speaks frequently to issues of theology, culture, and public policy. Dr. Moore holds an M.Div in Biblical Studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D in Systematic Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He blogs frequently at his "Moore to the Point" website, and is author or editor of five books, including Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches. Prior to entering ministry, Dr. Moore was an aide to U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor. A native Mississippian, he and his wife Maria are the parents of five boys.
That’s right, it’s Russell Moore, Southern Baptists’ newly elected president for its commission on ethics and religious liberty. The sad irony is striking. What are we saying to the public, Southern Baptists? What are we saying to abused victims, Southern Baptists? What are we saying to the assembled messengers at the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention, Southern Baptists?
If I recall correctly, when the now faintly remembered Conservative Resurgence began, it began with charges toward what was going on in our seminaries. Well now...
What does that say, Southern Baptists?
[i] One can forget Southern Baptists’ own newswire service Baptist Press reporting on anything whatsoever to do with C.J. Mahaney or anything at all for that matter that does not choke us with warm and fuzzy feelings about what’s going on in Baptist life