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The Confessions of Saint C.J. (Part 2)

Confession 7 (Well Almost) 

Just before I sent out my documents to the SGM pastors last July, C.J. came close to confessing some of his most serious sins to me.  He jumped ship at the last moment.  It was his “almost” confession. 

Here’s the story.  It’s important.  

C.J.’s December 16, 2010 confession (number 3) failed to address my most serious charges in RRF&D and AFA.  I wrote C.J. about this purposeful omission. 

January 21, 2011 


Before we meet, I must understand far more clearly how you view my assessment.  For instance, in what you’ve written [in your Dec 16, 2010 confession] you acknowledge no lack of integrity, no deceit or hypocrisy, no concealment or cover-up, no damage control, spin or manipulation, no partiality or favoritism, no abuse of authority or lording, no need for a confession to the movement or the leaders, no wrong doing by others, no realization of how your sinful judgments negatively influenced many others, etc. 


On March 11, 2011, C.J. sent me a second confession (number 4).  Once again he ignored my most serious charges.  I wrote him a second time. 

June 8, 2011


In the paragraph above I mentioned 15 areas of concern for you and the movement.  You denied [in your March 11, 2011 confession] any lack of integrity, deceit, or hypocrisy (with one exception) in your own life; expressed no need for a public confession, and failed to see how your sinful judgments negatively influenced anyone).  You left the remaining 10 areas of concern (i.e., concealment, cover-up, damage control, spin, manipulation, partiality, favoritism, abuse of authority, lording, wrong-doing by others) entirely unaddressed.  

I specifically and intentionally asked to address these 15 critical issues.  Instead you ignored ten of them [in your March 11, 2011 confession].  You don’t even reference them.  So much for the greater detail you promised to supply.  In addition, you left unaddressed considerable portions of material in RRF&D and AFA.  I’ve gone back to these documents and added [409] endnotes to indicate the many critical points and illustrations you passed over without comment or insufficient comment.  The moral of the story – you skipped over large amounts of material and added almost nothing as it pertained to areas or occasions of sin.  


Two weeks later I followed up with C.J. a third time.

June 23, 2011

Dear C.J.,

I ask the following questions with grace and tenderness of heart.  Have you had a change of heart and mind?  If so, are you willing to provide me a complete and thorough response to RRF&D, AFA, and CR in preparation for a meeting between us?  And are you willing to walk in the light by publicly confessing the sins I’ve addressed?

I mean you no harm.  These are redemptive requests designed to serve you and the movement you lead.  Please provide me a response in the next day or two.

With sincere affection,


After 15 months of appeals and 521 pages of evidence, I finally received this encouraging response from C.J.  It contained two crucial promises.  First, C.J. committed to making a public confession to all the SGM pastors and anticipated making a wider confession to the general public.  Second, he planned to “give particular attention to the 15 areas of concern/sin.”  He wanted me to know “I take your charges seriously and I want to do all I can to convince you of this.”   This was great news.

From: C.J. Mahaney 
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:44 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris; Tommy Hill; Tony Reinke; Ken Sande; John Loftness; Bob Kauflin; Gary Ricucci; Carolyn Mahaney; Chad Mahaney
Subject: FW: Change of Heart? 


Thank you for your affection and care.  I trust you know I feel the same toward you. 

In answer to your question, yes, I am changing my mind in regard to your request to give a more thorough response to your documents.  At the same time, I am committed to making a public confession, as detailed below.

The men around have challenged me to go back again and seek to dig deeper into the issues you’ve brought… Brent, I know my sin has deeply hurt you and others and I want to more clearly acknowledge this wherever I can.  I want to benefit from all God has for me in your documents…. Please pray that God would give me the gift of sight as I continue to examine your documents and my heart.

So here is how I plan to proceed.  In attempting to give a more thorough response to the three documents, my plan was to give particular attention to the 15 areas of concern/sin you think I have yet to perceive or acknowledge.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this approach…. As a result of these steps, my plan is to provide you with my response to your documents that specifically addresses your primary areas of concern. 

I also plan to make a public confession to the Sovereign Grace pastors.  My hope is to do this at our November conference although it’s possible this could take place at an earlier date.  I want my confession to be as fully informed as possible, so I’d like to get the benefit of the independent review process before making it.  It’s also my preference to make this confession in person with the pastors rather than by e-mail.  I want these men to hear my confession and hopefully perceive my conviction/sorrow as well as ask their forgiveness…. And once God has given me a clear understanding of my sin and its impact on others, I anticipate that it will be beneficial for me to make a wider confession to the general public about God’s correction and refinement in my life.

So it is my determined intention to continue to pursue a rigorous evaluation of my heart, involving those inside Sovereign Grace as well as those outside Sovereign Grace who do not have history with me.  I take your charges seriously and I want to do all I can to convince you of this.  Most importantly I want to please and glorify God by walking humbly before him by his grace.  Thanks for helping me to do this.

In His grace,   


The next day, C.J. sent me a follow up note.  He was perceiving “a couple of areas of sin” presumably related to the tens areas of sin he ignored (i.e., concealment, cover-up, damage control, spin, manipulation, partiality, favoritism, abuse of authority, lording, wrong-doing by others). 

From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:58 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Confidential


I was reluctant to send this but decided to do so.  I am not trying to impress you or convince you about what I am perceiving in my heart.  But since I began to reengage with your documents a couple of days ago and with the help of others I have already perceived a couple of areas of sin I didn’t clearly perceive previously.  It’s discouraging how slow and dull and blind I can be.  My pride/self-righteousness are no doubt the root cause.  Pathetic really.

Just wanted to inform you of the small incremental stuff that seems to be happening.  My hope is that it continues. 

Thanks for your patience and care my friend.  Please keep praying for me.

With my gratefulness,


A week went by with no word so I followed up with C.J. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Friday, July 01, 2011 8:29 PM
To: C.J. Mahaney
Subject: Answers

When will I receive your detailed response to me?  I look forward to hearing about your additional illumination.



At this point, things took a horrible turn for the worse.  The SGM Board demanded that C.J. cut off all interaction with me.  They also delayed an “updated confession” until after his evaluation by the independent panel which never took place.  C.J. claims he made this delay “clear in a previous e mail” but that is untrue.  He never wrote me about a postponed response.    

The Board hid C.J. under their skirt.  There would be no response to the ten areas of sin he ignored, no response to the many illustrations he left unaddressed, no independent evaluation and no public confession to the SGM pastors or general public.  All of these promises were broken.  All part of a grand cover up.  C.J. contended he was “not reluctant to respond to [my] questions” but that was a meaningless boast.  He has never responded to the overwhelming majority of charges I’ve documented.  Almost all have been brushed under the rug in C.J.’s office. 

But even worse, the SGM Board decided to go on the attack.  Two weeks later, they trumped up false charges against me and repeatedly lied in their July 13, 2011 blog post. (see “The Five Resolutions” from January 13, 2012 at  This pattern of deception has continued over the last six months including their approach to the three panel “evaluation” recently concluded.   These panels were rigged from the beginning with a bogus selection process including board members, pathetic questions, and rules that favored C.J.  The actual reports covered up far more than they revealed.  I will prove this in the days to come.    

From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Saturday, July 02, 2011 4:26 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: FW: Answers - Deadline 12 Noon

… I am not reluctant to respond to your questions.  But I am submitted to the SGM Board and now this independent evaluation panel, and the Board wants me to cease interacting with you directly and devote my energy instead to cooperating with the independent review…

Am I qualified to lead SGM?  That is for others to determine, not me. 

And as for the updated confession I think I’ve made clear in a previous e mail that you will get that after my evaluation by the independent panel.  And I have also asked Mark Dever and David Powlison to personally counsel me after reading your documents.  So I am enlisting as much help as possible in order to discern my sin and its effects on others.

The Problem: C.J.’s High View of Himself 

C.J.’s six confessions make clear his sins are egregious, long term, pervasive, and adverse.  They have harmed many leaders and people over the last 30 years.  I could not disagree more with the conclusion of Kevin DeYoung, Ray Ortlund Jr., and Carl Trueman. 

“We do not believe C.J. Mahaney’s confessed sins have disqualified him from Christian ministry. … We do not see a pattern of egregious sins which would dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ should C.J. Mahaney continue to minister. … To reiterate: nothing to which he has confessed would appear to us to require his stepping aside…we affirm that C.J. Mahaney has not disqualified himself from ministry.” (DeYoung, Ortlund, Trueman, July 27, 2011)   

C.J. has repeatedly asked for “the gift of sight” but his vision has only deteriorated.  He is almost blind now.  His most recent “confession” at the SGM Pastors Conference on November 9, 2011 reveals his true condition of heart.

“It does appear that some assumed or concluded that I agree with Brent’s narrative, his accusations and interpretations and judgments of my motives and this simply wouldn’t be true and it never has been true.  Brent’s documents construct a narrative that I disagree with. … I don’t believe my sins are uncommon or scandalous or disqualifying.  I have never believed that since the day the first document [RRF&D] arrived. 

“So I was grateful for the findings and rulings of the first panel [DeYoung, Ortlund, Trueman] in this regard and their agreement with that assessment…  One member of the first panel said this to me - quote: ‘I respect CJ how seriously you take the respectable sins but you left the impression that you did something scandalous.  But nothing you confessed reached the level of public scandal requiring a public confession.  Your sins are routine and common.’ … Another member of the panel said this: ‘I think you made a genuine effort to be humble.  You overstate the level of offense and you confuse those outside of Sovereign Grace.’  I happen to think that is an accurate critique. I didn’t just confuse those outside SG, I confused those inside SG as well.  I over stated [my sin]. …

“I think it might also be helpful to say something about the confession statement to Covenant Life [#6] and to you [SGM pastors] via a letter [#5]. … My communication in some ways created speculation that left me vulnerable to interpretation, that left me vulnerable to exploitation.  I left the wrong impression of my sin.  In that confession [#5] I was trying to convey that I take my sins seriously but I regret that my language conveyed that my sins were unusually serious.  I do not think that, I have never thought that. I didn’t distinguish my sins from Brent’s accusations, judgments, narrative and I should have.”

C.J. Is Disqualified If Scripture Is Your Guide

Here’s the question.  Is C.J. above reproach and blameless judged by his own confessions?  If you use the Bible the answer is evident!  No.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  And this doesn’t take into account the ton of evidence that has been buried in the SGM landfill.     

The three outside ministers said, “We do not see a pattern of egregious sins which would dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ should C.J. Mahaney continue to minister.”   Egregious means “conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible.”  I think C.J.’s sins are egregious for the President of a medium sized evangelical organization but that is not the point. 

The Bible doesn’t teach that a pastor is disqualified only if there are patterns of outstanding and extraordinary sin.  No the Bible says a pastor must be above reproach and blameless.  The meaning of those words are filled out in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.

Instead the SGM Board has adopted the DeYoung, Ortlund, Trueman standard for   ministry – no egregious habits of sin.  That’s why C.J. is back as President.  But this is hocus pocus.  The SGM Board has magically set aside the Bible and replaced it with humanistic standards. 

This is an affront to every man removed from ministry in SGM.  With one exception, C.J.’s sins are greater than all his predecessors who have been disciplined in the movement.  If the SGM Board is using this standard then every pastor removed from ministry must be restored to ministry at the expenses of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  A class action lawsuit could rightfully be filed against SGM for violations of civil law.   

A friend recently wrote me to ask about the meaning of “above reproach” and how SGM was applying it in the case of C.J. and other leaders like Mickey Connolly.  I gave him the biblical definition and the dumb down definition of SGM. 

From: Topher Blackburn
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:26 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Above Reproach


Part of this whole thing, especially since the 3-panel report came out, is the concept of above reproach.  1 Timothy 3:2 says that overseers are to be above reproach.  I am not versed in the depths of this verse, but you are versed in the depths of it and how it is interpreted in SGM.  At what point does this verse play into evaluating a leader?  What exactly does “above reproach” mean these days?  I know you are busy but I would appreciate your thoughts.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 8:23 AM
To: Topher Blackburn
Subject: RE: Above Reproach

“Above reproach” in SGM nowadays means you haven’t murdered anyone, stolen tons of church money, or committed adultery multiple times.  Otherwise, you’re allowed to do most anything else.  You can also see the attached [“Part 7: Is C.J. Above Reproach” at].  Here are some [biblical] definitions.

1 Tim 3:2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach.  The word (Gr., anepileptos) literally means “not apprehended, that cannot be laid hold of; hence that cannot be reprehended, not open to censure, irreproachable,” “blameless,” “irreprehensible, unassailable.”  It bespeaks of irreproachable conduct and it also means “not only of good report but deservedly so!”

Titus 1:5-6 …appoint elders in every city as I directed you, [6] namely, if any man is above reproach.  The word (Gr. anengkletos) literally means “that cannot be called to account, unreprovable, unaccused, blameless.”

What I told C.J. seven months ago is true today.  Even more so given the increase of sin.  His greatest sin of recent is his denial of disqualifying sin at the Pastors Conference.  Here is the problem.  The SGM Board and many SGM pastors are not submitted to the authority of Scripture in the case of C.J.  He continues to be treated with partiality and shown favoritism.  The three panel approach confirms this obvious conclusion.

The Board has overturned the clear verdict of Scripture with trickery and deceit.  No outside evaluation of C.J. and SGM as promised.  No inside adjudication of my charges against C.J. and SGM as promised.  Just three kangaroo courts incapable of doing justice.  They have replace truth with falsity and justice with injustice.  

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 5:09 PM
To: C. J. Mahaney
Subject: Resignation as President of SGM

… I say the following with no joy in my heart, satisfaction in my soul, or retribution in my mind.  It is time for your resignation as President of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  This should be obvious to you by now.  No one should have to ask for your resignation.  There is no need for any further assessment.  It is clear – you are not above reproach.  You should not be overseeing Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

In your case, there has been no conspiracy, betrayal, rush to judgment, piling on or false witnesses.  Everyone has been merciful, patient, long suffering, and forgiving.  You have been afforded a degree of kindnesses no one in the ministry has ever been extended.  So if the Bible has a normative and causative authority in your life in the matter of qualifications for leadership, you will resign immediately. 

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