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The Need for Crisis Intervention by the Covenant Life Pastors

To the Pastors of Covenant Life Church,

The Board of Sovereign Grace Ministries is in violation of their word.  They have refused to follow through on their promise to secure a third party outside panel of individuals with no ties to Sovereign Grace Ministries in order to evaluate my charges, and those of others, against C.J. and Sovereign Grace Ministries including Dave Harvey, Bob Kauflin, and Gene Emerson but not limited to them.  In support thereof, I cite the following.

“I’ve asked to take a leave of absence in order to give time to considering these charges, examine my heart, and receive the appropriate help from others…. In order for me to receive an objective evaluation in relation to these charges the board is securing the help of a third-party ministry that has no history of relationship with SGM.”  (C.J. Mahaney, “Why I am Taking a Leave of Absence,” July 6)

Because some of the charges move beyond C.J. to SGM, we also wanted to examine ourselves and our practices both past and current.  To that end, we are in the process of securing help from an outside organization that can conduct a thorough and objective review of the charges being brought against C.J. and SGM.  We are seeking to identify an organization that has no prior history with us and that has wide respect in Christian circles. (Dave Harvey, “A Note on C.J.’s Leave of Absence,” July 7)

“Given the numerous events, people, and perspectives involved, the work of an independent panel will be vital to fully examining these charges and arriving at an objective conclusion, especially on those charges with which the board does not agree…. Like C.J., we are committed to facilitate as thorough and objective a process as possible by an independent panel.” (Dave Harvey, “A Note on C.J.’s Leave of Absence,” July 7)

“I have welcomed the recommendation of the SGM board that we establish a panel of respected leaders outside SGM to study these charges and give us their evaluation of me and the ministry as a whole.” (C.J. Mahaney, Comments at CLC, July 11)

“He [C.J.] is taking a leave of absence so that an independent panel, a group of people outside of our church, outside of our family of churches, can look into these accusations and provide an objective evaluation of his character and leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries. (Joshua Harris, CLC Members’ Meeting, July 10)

I come to you in keeping with the principles of Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:19-21.  The SGM Board is in need of your rebuke for not following through on their promise to secure an unbiased and impartial group of evaluators in order to procure a just process of evaluation whereby they, and C.J., are carefully examined.  I hope the SGM Board will quickly change their minds, acknowledge their travesty to the public, and show the fruits of repentance by pursuing the course of action originally promised in response to your intervention at this critical point in the crisis.

Furthermore, it is unacceptable for Dave Harvey to explain this reversal in the following terms.  He frames previous commitments as “initial expectations” for an outside, third party, no history with SGM, panel of evaluators.  Why the change?  Because things didn’t work out with Ambassadors of Reconciliation as “originally envisioned” or “originally hope[d]” for.

You may note that this is different [an in-house evaluation] from what we originally envisioned and requested from AOR.  But after hearing their arguments we believe their counsel is sound and we plan on following it.  I realize that this constitutes a change from our initial expectations.”  (Dave Harvey, “The Consultation Report from Ambassadors of Reconciliation,” August 25)

“AOR has provided us with an ad hoc process by which we can form a review panel to adjudicate these allegations. We did originally hope that the Ambassadors of Reconcilation staff would be able to comprise that review panel.” (Dave Harvey, Video – Answering Your Questions, SGM Blog, August 28)

The SGM Board promised to search for and find outside arbitrators that would evaluate charges against C.J. and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  This was “vital to fully examining these charges and arriving at an objective conclusion.”  What was “vital” is now trivial and a serious betrayal of trust.  Furthermore, the SGM Board has dropped all reference to the outside evaluation of the ministry the promised.  They do not disclose this fact or provide any explanation for this omission.  My charges, and those of others, are directed at other employees of Sovereign Grace Ministries in addition to C.J.  These too were supposed to be investigated by an outside arbitrator.    

The SGM Board was under absolutely no obligation to follow the recommendations of Ambassadors of Reconciliation.  They cannot hide behind the “counsel” or “ad hoc process” put forward by AOR.  The Board of Directors can easily delegate their authority to outside arbitrators who are impartial and unbiased.  This does not violate Scripture or their position of authority.  In this respect, AORs’ proposal is unsound.  They fail to take seriously the need for independence and objectivity.  A five man panel comprised of one SGM Board member and four SGM pastors is no way to evaluate charges against C.J. and SGM.  This part of their proposal should have been rejected.  An “objective conclusion” cannot be reached in the manner they espouse.    

If the President of the United States came under serious charges for his conduct, he does not have the luxury of appointing his Vice President and four Cabinet Secretaries to determine his guilt or innocence.  An Independent Prosecutor will be appointed by Congress.  That is the way of justice.  If this kind of approach is negated by the Board, then the main purpose for this whole process has been circumvented.

If the SGM Board is genuinely interested in objectivity they will reverse course immediately.  This is a moral issue, not simply a procedural issue.  This is a major issue, not a minor one.  If Sovereign Grace Ministries cannot be trusted to secure an unbiased panel of evaluators in keeping with their word, they cannot be trusted in anything.  Please appeal to them to repent.


Brent Detwiler