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The Next Generation of Sovereign Grace Ministries

This Facebook conversation took place this week with a college educated, young married, “thirtysomething” member of a Sovereign Grace Church. Unfortunately, I think his views are representative of the next generation in SGM. That is why I took the time to engage Stephen. That is why I’m posting the salient points of our conversation. I am not, however, taking comments on my FB page.  Not out of concern for me but out of love for him. I wasn’t able to help Stephen and I left so much unsaid.  For instance, the Roman Catholic is finally dealing with its sex abuse scandal.  SGM is still conspiring. Nevertheless, I hope this limited conversation helps others in SGM from his generation. 

Stephen:  Do you think you will ever move on from pointing out Sov. Grace faults? 

Brent:  The real question is whether Sov. Grace will ever acknowledge their faults. Serious faults like the conspiracy to commit and cover up sex abuse. I will continue to educate people regarding the ongoing corruption in SGM. I have no choice. I care too much about good people like you. 

Stephen:  You have a choice to forgive as you have been forgiven. Yes I am aware of problems in Sov. Grace churches but not all of them are the same. Just as the Catholic church survived sexual abuse on a far larger scale so will our local church. Yes they should have been open about the sin but God through His appointed authority will take care of this. Thanks for your concern for our well-being but that is not really your role.  Your role should be finished by now. You brought to light sin in the church now it is up to the authorities to decide the outcome. You really need to move on and forgive. We must always forgive. Not enable but forgive. Lastly we are not necessarily “good” as you suggest. Yes we possess an inherent by being created in the image of God but we apart from daily grace and mercy run the course of being pretty corrupt. Well take care I have been in enough churches to understand that all possess sin. 

Our church in Reading [PA] is healthy and has remained faithful to Gods word. God bless you always have a choice to let things in God’s hands. Would it not be good for your soul? 

Brent:  Forgiveness is based upon repentance in the Bible. I am quite willing to forgive. That is not the issue. Holding the pastors in SGM accountable is the issue. That is not a sign of unforgiveness. It is a sign of love. Love rejoices when the truth (not lies) win out. 

Stephen you obvious don’t know me. I wrote and complied the Statement of Faith you adhere to. I am well versed on the doctrine of sin. I am using “good” is the sense of “dear, cherished, loved” people of faith. I disagree about Reading being faithful to God's Word. I love and respect C.B. [Eder] for different things, but no church should have remained in SGM. Much of the current leadership has acted corruptly. That is a matter of fact. Not gossip. Not slander. You obviously have not studied the evidence. As recent as last August the pastors of SGM publicly commended C.J. when they should been rebuking him and removing him from ministry in true faithfulness to God’s Word. You need to do your homework and speak out. 

Stephen:  We have no plans to leave our church and for you to suggest that I should speak out concerns me. You might want to study a little more on positional forgiveness vs. relational forgiveness. You are able to forgive those who have offended you without them personally confessing to you. You are not divine and to demand or expect apologies from people is not biblical. Secondly, saying that you cannot stop in this “Mission” you seem to have is also not true. You are not a free as long as you hold onto these things. We again I am grateful to you for your work in the early years of Sov. Grace and remember hearing you speak and you were a blessing to us. 

I was concerned when you mentioned in your blog that you were about to lose your house over by using all your savings on this mission you think God had called you to. I am not sure of any biblical support that speaks of setting up ministries that sort of judge people in the name of “truth” and asking for donations while doing it. Well I do wish you the best as you seek to lead others in the Bible studies and hope they are a blessing as you study God’ word together. 

Brent:  The last thing I wrote was, “Just this week I found out about more abuse victims. Last week was the same!” And yet you express no concerns. That is incomprehensible! What is wrong with you? Seriously. You should be outraged! You don’t even ask a question. You blow right past these arresting statements. These statements should cause you to stop in your tracks and grieve uncontrollably. Are you suggesting I stop trying to expose child abusers and the pastors that covered up for them? Are you suggesting I stop challenging SGM to obey the law, report abusers, alert people in harm’s way, inform members of sex abusers and implement standardized policies in the Book of Church Order to protect against sex abuse in your denomination? Are you suggesting I stop caring for victims that have been devastated by your leaders and abusers that were protected? Listen! There has been a widespread conspiracy to commit and cover up sex abuse and you are concerned about my mission to expose it. That is sick.   

And are you not aware that your faulty understanding of forgiveness has been used time and again to confront victims when they expressed pain, silence victims when they asked for redress, protect abusers from detection, and prevent law enforcement from getting involved? “Forgiveness” was repeatedly used in a way that devastated victims and covered up crimes. Read their agonizing stories! You would learn a lot.   

Furthermore, you have no idea how to properly understand positional forgiveness and righteously apply relational forgiveness. The latter is always based on repentance. Have you not read Matthew 18:15-18? Or let me make it even simpler. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).  We must always be willing to forgive but forgiveness is granted on the basis of repentance (Luke 24:47). Forgiving the unrepentant is immoral. For instance, where does God ever forgive the unrepentant? Theologically, such thinking leads to universalism. 

My tagline on says “Helping Christians to judge righteously, think biblically, and live courageously.” That’s what I am trying to do with you. Over the last four years, I’ve received less than 40k in contributions. I’m grateful for each dollar but obviously it is not enough to live on. I am sorry you find it unacceptable to accept contributions and disagree that we should sacrifice our house and life savings in order to expose lying, deceit, lording, hypocrisy, favoritism, cowardice, selfish ambition, and sexual abuse in SGM. 

Stephen, if you know anything, you know I was repeatedly assured by SGM that all these charges (except sex abuse which came later) would be heard by an objective, third party, outside group of competent adjudicators. That was a lie. It never happened.  Every promise was broken. But even worse - far worse. The entire Board of Directors (Dave Harvey, Jeff Purswell, Craig Cabaniss, Mickey Connolly, Rick Gamache, Pete Greasley, John Loftness, Aron Osborne, Mark Prater, and Steve Shank) devised a wicked and corrupt process whereby I was condemned without a hearing and C.J. was vindicated behind closed doors without a prosecution. This was carried out by three panels handpicked by the Board comprised of Mark Prater, Warren Boettcher, Ron Boomsma, Mark Alderton, Steve Teter, Brian Brookins, Ken Mellinger, Craig Cabaniss, and Rick Gamache. Most of these men are still major leaders in SGM though some have left. Everyone one of these men should be convicted and ashamed. So too every pastor in SGM. They knew exactly what was going on – it was an evil scheme devised to silence me and shield C.J. I have never been allowed to speak. 

Moreover, everything done during this process was opposed to everything written in the Book of Church Order. It was a collective expression of staggering hypocrisy. Yet, no one has ever asked forgiveness and no pastor has ever spoken out against this corrupt process in public. That includes C.B. though I personally challenged him. 

If you were concerned for truth and justice, you would address this and call SGM pastors to repentance. Yet you say, “For you to suggest that I should speak out concerns me.” That is a loud statement. You see no need to speak up against the abuse and corruption that has come to characterize SGM. Instead you focus on me. 

Stephen you say I am bound by unforgiveness. That is such an entrenched form of spiritual abuse in SGM. In fact, you are a facsimile of SGM in almost everything you say above. Stephen, I must wrap this up. You are enabling SGM, not helping SGM. Go back and read the evidence. Then confront your leaders. There is no excuse. SGM has been sternly disciplined by the Lord and yet it has never acknowledged its sins. Please humble yourself and help others to do the same. 

Stephen:  You are playing the role of God. … You need to let your bitterness go. 


Postscript: Must Reading (but only if you want to know the truth)

On bitterness, What About My Own Sins? (December 31, 2011) and A Tough Wedge and a Heavy Pike (November 4, 2011).

On the corrupt process imposed by the SGM Board, The Right of Tyrants (October 13, 2011), Try This Twelve Step Program on for Size! (January 26, 2012), and Whitewashed Tombs (January 28, 2012).


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