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A Brief Response to Tim Challies

Hello Tim.

At some point I hope to provide a more thorough response to what you have written. In the meantime, I hope you will read all of my documents and also my posts at That's required reading if you are going to post about me.

What you fail to realize is the pervasive and profound nature of problems in SGM. Hundreds, if not thousands of people have been mishandled and mistreated. You don't have two anti SGM blogs, Sovereign Grace Survivors and SGM Refuge, because of disagreements between C.J. and me. You really must get educated about the depth and breadth of ungodly practices that have existed in the movement. You haven't done your homework.

You also fail to recognize the long term and serious nature of C.J.'s sins. Many men have brought many charges for many years against C.J. In each case, with little or no success. I love C.J. I love SGM. I count it a privilege to have been one of four founders. I served on the Board of Directors for 25 years. Few men know C.J. as well as I do. Dave Harvey is interim President of SGM. Here is his description of C.J. which is the experience of many others.

“To correct CJ, or to challenge his own self-perception, was to experience a reaction through e-mails, consistent disagreement (without seeking to sufficiently understand), a lack of sufficient follow-up and occasionally, relational withdrawal. Along with this, CJ was poor in volunteering areas of sin, temptation or weakness in himself.” --Dave Harvey

In spite of this, no one has been shown more mercy or patience in our movement. He has been treated with kindness and shown great respect.

That's why this is not a Brent and C.J. thing. It is much bigger. This is not about slander, it is about truth. There is a time to address corporate sin. That's why we have an entire section of the Bible called The Prophets. There is also a time to "tell it to the church" when sin is not repented of, confession is not forthcoming, and restitution of wrong not pursued. I sent my documents to the SGM pastors on July 6 after several deceitful and misleading statements and actions by C.J. and SGM. I didn't want to and tried not to. Once again, you are uninformed and therefore misguided in your comments.

Lastly for now, you failed to state that which is repeatedly stated in my documents. Time and time and time again, I expressed my willingness to meet with C.J. and pursue mediation if necessary, if only he would give me open, honest and accountable answers in print and in advance of our meeting. I wanted to know his thoughts, prepare for our time, and formulate an agenda. All that would greatly assist our conversation and interaction. I never intended to publish his response (something slanderously asserted by SGM and contrary to the evidence). But C.J. refused to respond in a thorough going manner even though he promised me he would do so. It is for good reason, C.J. and the Board cannot be trusted.

You appear oblivious to the fact that there has been lying, spin and cover up by them. You recognize faith by works, roots by fruits, and the heart by the mouth. These are not grotesque judgments. What I say is clearly born out. A just verdict is pleasing to God. Acquitting evil is not. That is why I hope C.J. will one day give transparent answers to the questions I asked, the points I raised, and the illustrations I shared. I want him to have his day in court. But for now, he is in contempt. I have repeatedly asked C.J. and the Board to correct any inaccuracy (which is clear in the documents and not mentioned by you) and defend freely against any charge. What I have written is not tabloid journalism. They have provided me no input except that which I include in the documents.

Tim, there are serious issues of deceit, hypocrisy, arrogance, authoritarianism in C.J.'s life and the ministry of SGM. Now, thanks to your post, your audience is oblige to read my 600 pages of documentation (I mean slander) and access my blog in order to know the truth because they have not gotten it from you.

Brent Detwiler


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Reader Comments (27)

Hi there,

This is an excellent post and raises some key points to (yet another) SGM/C J fan.

It has long-term mystified me why C J seemed to have acquired a "free pass" among reformed Evangelicals such as Macarthur, Ortlund, Challies et al. Macarthur - an ardent cessationist who wrote "Charismatic Chaos" and has nothing good to say about them - can share a platform with Mahaney?! I suspected the free pass was on Mahaney's downgrading of the charismatic rather than Macarthur's softening of his position.

For men who pride themselves on being "Berean" like - they show remarkable timidity in looking too closely into Mahaney's affairs - and seem eager to let him off and make excuses.

Come on gentlemen - show some credibility and challenge your "friend" as Brent has so boldly and bravely done. THAT'S true love - "faithful are the wounds of a friend".

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDan

I came to your blog based on blog post by Tim Challies. I love CJ, although I don't know him personally like you do. I have been deeply impacted as a direct result of many of his CJ's books and material (i.e. Humility: True Greatness, Don't Waste Your Sports etc.). However I do not know the inner workings of the man that is CJ, or the issues to which you speak of in your blog. The whole situation is simply very sad. Sin has a way of creeping in and destroying things. Sin has a way of camouflaging itself in our lives and finding places where it is allowed to grow based on our own inability (or pride) to look for areas of our lives where we need to be sanctified.

I guess all I'm really trying to say is that I will be praying for the entire situation. It is my hope that restoration rather than division is the final outcome here. Eventually (in the eternal sense) it will be...but I pray that the damage done to CLC or SGM in this situation does not overshadow the work that God has done through this ministry over the years. There are a lot of men that I have looked up to, as heroes of the faith, who have been mentioned in this situation...and I guess what it really goes to reiterate is how dangerous it can be to put our faith in any man other than CHRIST.

May God have his way in this entire situation.

For His Glory,


August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Brent, I so appreciate your perseverance and continued pursuit for truth. The main thing I have seen year after year in SG is the ability to use the bible as the weapon against the people who are faithful to raise up issues. To say that your situation does not have a scriptural reference point shows how clearly blinded the leaders are.
To have literally thousands of people saying the same thing and to dismiss it with a simple, its not true, or ignore it just won't do. My heart is still perplexed by the people who attend these churches and still ignore what has been brought to light. They are making a conscious choice to IGNORE, or not do their homework regarding the people who have been affected by this form of spiritual abuse.
I want to again thank you for fighting the good fight... and for putting it all out there in such a biblical way. You mentioned thousands of people who were affected... and we are all the people who are grateful to you for your voice! God is with you, and so are we. Many blessings

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarabeth

Challies efforts are noble, imo, but his thoughts are very shallow in his understanding as I just wrote & told a friend b4 I saw your response. How many times will we continue to see Matthew 18 misapplied? This matter involves a whole lot m...ore than Brent & CJ alone. Even then, Brent did go through the appropriate steps himself by sending his documents to the pastors of the SGM churches. Brent was asking for CJ to be reigned in LONG ago.... far before he was considered a persona non grata within SGM. This isn't a personal vendetta gone wild.....

My pastor pal who forwarded Challies blog to me today says that he thinks (along with Challies) that the airing of Brent's papers publicly have "muddied the waters". Only in the sense that it has so for the SGM wonks.... not for the average peeps, it hasn't. Brent & the blogs (thanks for listing them on your blog here, Brent, btw) have UN- MUDDIED the waters, as I see it.

Loved the Josh Harris reference that you quoted yesterday, Brent..... about the Lord's discipline, from Hebrews 12. This is what is happening, I agree. The well intentioned brother Challies would do well to see this, in my humble opinion. God is at work.... even through cyberspace..... oy vey!

Philippians 1:6, all!

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill

I took a look at the comments on Mr. Challies blog. It's interesting how many people say they've avoided looking at Brent's documents or only given them a cursory glance because they've been told by others that Brent's material "goes against Mat. 18, represents slander, etc."

My church history could be a little rusty but wasn't a big part of the Protestant Reformation the idea that you have the right to read and interpret the Bible and other documents pertaining to Biblical interpretation, such as Martin Luther's strongly worded letters to Pope Leo XVI and Henry VIII, yourself, without a priestly guide by your side no matter what your status is in the church or society in General?

[Jann. I am expecting C.J.'s Protestant/evangelical friends to reissue, Esurge domine, which was the Papal Bull that excomminucated Martin Luther. So much for reformation. Anybody got a castle I can borrow. Brent]

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanna L. Chan

If you click in to read the documents and only read a few...for you it IS gossip.
To read the whole 600 pages is being informed. These things have a huge impact on our churches. The effects will be slow in coming but large changes loom in the future.

To talk about what Bent has done if you haven't read the documents IS slander.
To discuss ALL the documents and the charges and evidence they contain and debate what is sin and who sinned is working through issues in a godly manner.

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Brent -
I so appreciate your boldness in coming forward with these things. I believe what you're doing is going to really help SGM and everyone will come out better.

I'm wondering what your response would be to people who write all of this - the documents and the blogs - off as slander and gossip? There are a lot of people at CLC right now who are outraged by the way the pastors "allowed" the congregation to know about and read the documents and thus cause emotional damage to CJ and his family. They think the congregation's response to all of this has been out of control and slanderous. I'm wondering what you think of this?

[Katie...I am sorry to hear that. At some point I plan to post on the subject of slander. I asked for correction of any errors or sins many times. None provided. I appealed time and again in private. Finally I had to let the SGM pastors know. That is not slander. The CLC pastors will have to speak for themselves. I think they should have been stronger with C.J. and SGM. not weaker. They have been kind to C.J. Brent]

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkatie

No castle and no German prince to rescue you, unfortunately, Brent. However since you've taken out all your detractors in the first round or even the first punch in some cases, I think you'll be fine.

You're a teddy bear compared to Martin Luther who was not shy about letting a fellow Christian know what he really thought of him.


August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanna L. Chan


I don't know you therefore I can not claim personal knowledge of your character.
All I can do is interact with your thoughts shared.

So he I go ...

If we stand and judge other's actions, don't we know that we will be judged by that same standard.

So, if private we should remain, then private you should have remained.

Making your thoughts public, by standards you stated, is wrong, and ever making public remarks about another's sins is sin. Doing so violates your declared standard.

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Perry

Brent, I DO appreciate that you have allowed comments critical to what you are doing. That's a good start.

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSeneca Griggs


After attending for 3 yrs, my family left the SG church we were attending because of leadership issues. I didn't know you had left until I read about all this in Tim Challies' blog when it all became public.

I heard you speak at a men's conference in the fall of 06 in Charlotte. Many of us attending the conference together were amused at the level of detailed record keeping you told us you did on tire pressure and other car related items in your home. So I was not at all surprised to learn that you had kept all the records of correspondence between you and others. I knew you were not setting CJ/SGM up.

As Thomas Perry stated, if Tim thinks what you've done is sin, Tim's publicly airing his opinion about you without talking to you, about a group of churches he's never lived in and about documents he hasn't read is far more egregious. He didn't follow the first 2 steps of Matt 18 - he didn't even do step 0 and invest the time to investigate before forming an opinion.

Al Mohler seemed to casually dismiss it as well, immediately after CJ resigned. Do reformed leaders now believe they must maintain a reputation of papal perfection amongst themselves? There should be no shame in always reforming and in helping each other to reform.

August 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

[Just Sayin, That's all. Worked it out off line because your comments toward a certain person (not me) are over the line. Brent]

I don't understand why other leaders, the panel of three, and now Challies refuses to acknowledge that there are some serious breaches of law exposed as a result of the documents. Not scandalous? Not illegal? Can they have such a breach of judgment?

1. Brent's documents, according to the accrued evidence brought to bear which has not been refuted as inaccurate or false (in fact quite the opposite) - in addition to confession (unspecific as it was) - bear testimony that coercion/blackmail did occur... it was premeditated, legal counsel was sought, acted upon, was repeated, was covered up, & was not repented of (except until just recently). Others were involved, does that not also imply aiding and abetting... being accessories? Is this, a FELONY, implicating others, not serious and scandalous? Does it have to happen more than once in order for it to be? Does the motive (no matter how "noble") acquit one of a felonious crime?

2. Brent's documents, according to the accrued evidence brought to bear which has not been refuted as inaccurate or false - even implicates Brent himself in what looks scandalously like (if not exactly like) embezzlement though treated as an integrity issue - with the improper question of having SGM pay for family travel. That is using corporate money for personal use. The subsequent intention to cover said expenses by adjusting pay explicitly details the premeditation to move funds for this purpose (personal use) under false pretenses, an attempt to conceal the improper use of funds. That was agreed to and as far as I am aware - was accepted (e.g. no protest to accept pay increase). That is exceedingly troubling imo. A question that should never have been asked in the first place, especially by one who compared to the rest of the world (and even most of the U.S.) lives like a king. How many other instances has something like this occurred?

These are what I gathered from reading the facts. And is that slander? I think not.

[Jin. In the end, no additional moneies or increase in salary were given to C.J. to cover costs for family travel. Brent]

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJin

Mr. Challies said to Brent -
"What you have not done is make a convincing biblical case that your actions are sanctioned by Scripture." My first question is , "What does Mr Challies consider convincing?" My second question , “Where is the evidence by Mr Challies to support his statement?”
What is considered "convincing" to one person may not be to another person.

So perhaps, Tim can communicate to Brent some specifics, if he is willing. I would suggest reading the documents first, just to have the facts.

Brent does have a biblical case for his actions, sanctioned by Scripture. Should one believe it convincing or not, that is irrelevant.


August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJayson

Tim Challies Appears to Have a Business Relationship With SGM

Hello everyone: I'm not sure if this was disclosed or addressed in any way but Mr. Challies does seem to have a business with relationship with SGM. For instance, the "$39/year friend of the blog subscription" he markets offers people music from SGM:

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanna L. Chan

Brent, I'm not sure that many outsiders will listen much to your side of the issue as long as you continue to not meet with CJ. I know your reasons for wanting writing before meeting but I'm just saying that I'm not sure it helps your case.

[exbritpat. I understand your point. Unfortunatly, meetings are mispresented later and many other things.]

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterexbritpat

Could you take a witness or two with you to meeting? That way there would be more than your voice alone against any misrepresentations. Will you be meeting with AoR?

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterInterestedParty

Brent, a shallow, uninvestigated, premature and odd article by Mr. Challies. This scribe as much as posted that at Tim's site.

My English writing teacher has approved a research paper on SGM. As noted elsewhere, there is an inter-and-multi-disciplinary perspective to the story that warrants an on-going and deliberative examination. We, assuredly, did not get that from Mr. Mohler, Dr. Duncan, Dr. Trueman, or Mr. Challies. It's not just a few abuse cases (bad as those appear to be). It's not just Mr. Detwiler v. CJ. There are historic and systemic issues that are in dispute and warrant examination. Even a shallow and cursory examination of the Detwiler-documents suggest such.

Mr. Challies did not serve the public well with his article.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonald Philip Veitch

Awesome! OK, it's also sad that it's gotten to this point with other leaders outside SGM. Here Brent is trying to keep it "in house" and all of CJ's friends are jumping on the bandwagon to protect him and yes, it does seem like croneyism. You go Brent and we will be sending you money. By the way, Brian Auten, of FFX, wrote a very detailed, well written, article on what has caused many of our woes. You can see it at SGM Survivors.

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkmack

I would like to see one of these supposidely learned men actually think for himself instead of following one another off the intellectual cliff like so many lemmings.

Why are they so willing to make fools of themselves?

Why are they so willing to ignore (IGNORE) something as serious as the sexual abuse of children?...

No, these men...are more concerned with the reputation and power base of one another.

In other words, they are the pigs on the farm that are more equal than others and they want to preserve their power base and the safety of children under their care seem to be a secondary issues.

Challies, Dunkin, Mohler, and the rest of you big dogs that are cowering under CJ's porch; you will stand in front of God someday and He isn't going to be impressed with your position but He is going to ask you about this situation and you are not going to have your buddies covering your backside. That scenario alone should motivate you to end the good old boys dynamic and do the right thing.

[Debra, I removed some of your comments re: sex abuse. I'd like that conversation to continue at Survivors since I am unfamiliar with those situations and cannot knowledgably comment. Brent]

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Baker
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