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C.J.’s Flight from Covenant Life

For the last 15 years many people on many occasions have brought serious charges against C.J. with little or no success.  I am far from the only witness against him.  The SGM Board and the CLC pastors should have formally rebuked and disciplined C.J. a long time ago in obedience to 1 Timothy 5:19-21.  Fear and favoritism won out instead.  

But in recent months the CLC pastors have begun to take C.J.’s sins more seriously (unlike Harvey and the SGM Board).  That is with the exception of Mike Bradshaw and Brian Chesemore, two of C.J.’s sons-in-law.  Well, things have gotten a little too hot in the Covenant Life kitchen.  So it’s time for a new church and a new pastor.  That’s right, instead of the many pastors who know the real C.J. far better than Mark Dever, he will have one pastor who adores him and a church that won’t ask him hard questions.  So instead of getting his goose cooked, it’s time to fly to the Covenant Life coup and take off for Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

On Wednesday, Joshua wrote the CLC members and said that “C.J. and the Sovereign Grace Board have let us know that they think it is best for C.J. and Carolyn to attend Capitol Hill Baptist Church during his leave of absence.”  Let them know?  Are you serious?  Do you mean C.J. and the SGM Board simply informed the CLC pastors of this decision? 

This needs to be looked into.  Did C.J. make a decision to leave CLC without getting any counsel from his pastors?  If so, this is another example of his independence and the double standard he so often operates by.  You don’t just go to people for “counsel” (i.e. the SGM Board) you know will support your decision. 

What bothers me the most is C.J. statement on his blog today that says, “During my leave of absence I will be attending Capitol Hill Baptist Church where Mark Dever is the senior pastor.  After seeking counsel about this decision, I’ve concluded that this is the best place for Carolyn and me to receive care and counsel, to examine my life and leadership, and to consider my future during this season of reflection.”

What does “after seeking counsel about this decision” mean?  Whose counsel did he seek?  It doesn’t appear to include any of his duly appointed pastors!  If that is true, he should be reproved and so should the SGM Board.  If they operated without involving the CLC pastors they have violated everything they have taught about the autonomy of the local church and the primacy of pastoral care. 

So why is C.J. leaving?  For the same reasons as Mike and Brian?  Seems like it.  Joshua wrote on Wednesday, “C.J. has also expressed concerns and points of disagreement with how we have been leading during this season.  He’s communicated a desire to work through these issues with us in the coming months with the help of mediators from Ambassadors of Reconciliation.  We are all eager to do this and have told C.J. we’re ready to meet as soon as he’s ready.”  Sure sounds like C.J. is in lock step with Mike and Brian.  You got it, the Mahaney clan is out of here!  Goodbye Covenant Life Church and I think that means for good.  Do you think C.J. can support the vision and direction of CLC under Joshua when Mike and Brian cannot in their consciences?  Hate to say it but the answer is no unless Joshua conforms to C.J.  That is the real issue! 

So is C.J. leaving because he disagrees with the pastors?  Is he leaving because he feels shamed or mistreated by them?  Is he leaving because he finds them inept or unable to pastor him?  Is he leaving because he doesn’t trust them?  All of these sinful reactions are familiar patterns in C.J.’s life.  Or, from the Lord’s perspective, is he leaving because he doesn’t want their pastoral input, he is offended, and Joshua and the pastors are building a church contrary to his wishes?

So, C.J. and Carolyn have packed their bags and taken off to greener pastures where C.J. can “receive care and counsel,” “examine [his] life and leadership,” and “consider [his] future.”  Wow, who needs the CLC pastors to do any of that!  And who could get away with this but C.J.?  Men throughout the history of the movement have sat tight during similar circumstances.  

C.J. wrote today, “Some of you have asked where I will be attending church during my leave.  That’s a good question, as it’s not uncommon for pastors to take a leave in a church that is away from their home congregations, and this seems wise.”  This is a case of SGM spin.  It is partly true but mostly false.  It is true that pastors outside of SGM may attend another church while undergoing evaluation but that has never been true for us.  It has never been the case in the history of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  No pastor has been granted “asylum” or refuge in other church or been transferred to someone’s pastoral care outside of SGM.  Of course, the SGM Board thinks this is best.  But do the CLC pastors think this is best?  

Here is what Joshua said on Wednesday.  “We’re torn over this decision.  We understand C.J. wanting to attend where he feels he can best be cared for and best serve his family, but we also have reasons why we think it would be good for him to stay at Covenant Life.”  Did the SGM Board and C.J. pursue input from the CLC pastors before making the decision to have C.J. and Carolyn pull out of CLC?  It doesn’t sound like it.  

Talk about contrary to SGM polity.  Since when can the Board pull rank over the local church and C.J.’s pastors and determine church membership and pastoral care without  their input?  Never!  The support of the SGM Board in C.J.’s decision is secondary.  They are not C.J.’s pastors!  C.J. is a not a member of Dave Harvey’s Covenant Fellowship Church!  He’s a member of Covenant Life Church.  That’s doctrinal hypocrisy.  I’m afraid the happiest place on earth is now the last place on earth you’ll find C.J. and Carolyn.