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Wednesday
Apr172019

The Sovereign Grace Leadership Team Rejects an Independent Investigation of Sexual Abuse Insisting It Would “Dishonor Christ and Harm the Cause of the Gospel.” Rachael Denhollander Responds. So Do I.

The Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. continues to lie, deceive and stonewall.  There will be no independent investigation despite widespread calls for it.  Only more propaganda!  This has been going on since the Original Complaint (lawsuit) alleging a conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse was filed on October 17, 2012.  

From the beginning, SGC opposed the lawsuit by arguing they had a protected right to hide their illegal actions behind the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Freedom of religion meant freedom to cover up the sexual abuse of children by not reporting alleged abusers to law enforcement.  This is what they posted in 2012.     

Updated Statement on the Reported Lawsuit
November 14, 2012
 

We are saddened that lawyers are now, in essence, seeking to violate those [First Amendment] rights by asking judges and juries, years after such pastoral assistance was sought, to dictate what sort of biblical counsel they think should have been provided.  SGM believes that allowing courts to second guess pastoral guidance would represent a blow to the First Amendment.   

I am currently working on some major stories so time doesn’t allow for a detailed response to the on-going refusal of the SGC Leadership Team comprised of Mark PraterMickey ConnollyTommy HillBob KauflinIan McConnellJeff Purswell, and Rich Richardson to do any kind of an independent investigation – even of limited scope. 

Last Friday, SGC posted “Thoughts on the Call for an ‘independent Investigation’ of Sovereign Grace Churches.”  Rachael Denhollander posted a response yesterday.  I’ve added underlining and a few notes in brackets to her comments. 

A RESPONSE TO SOVEREIGN GRACE CHURCHES STATEMENT ON AN INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION
RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER·TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2019 

Sovereign Grace Churches recently released a statement on why the denomination of SGC will not recommend a third party investigation.  Their statement in full can be found here: https://www.sovereigngrace.com/sovereign-grace-blog/post/independent-investigation

For those wishing to sift through the allegations and evidence, and evaluate the claims made by SGC leaders, please thoroughly read the statements below.   Nothing in SGC’s response or mine has changed, and after meeting with SGC leaders to discuss these allegations, I stand by these statements.  [In other words, they provided no refutation of her evidence.  I also stand by my statements.  SGC has never attempted to refute what I have written with evidence.  They just pronounce themselves innocent.]

Brief overview [Feb. 5, 2018] - https://www.facebook.com/notes/rachael-denhollander/public-response-to-sovereign-grace-churches/1694664773947169/?__tn__=HH-R

Detailed Response [March 1, 2018] - https://www.facebook.com/notes/rachael-denhollander/response-to-sovereign-grace-churches/1720170721396574/?__tn__=HH-R&fbclid=IwAR0tTT7-R-z9BRF6ECQRK3tBX2p2c9aW-qr5MxVLxULqRkKfD1IDkgamd5I

Please also carefully review the [Feb. 15, 2019] statement made by Dr. Albert Mohler, President of SBTS [Southern Baptist Theological Seminary], who had been a longtime ally and close friend of CJ’s, and who had previously come to his defense. - http://news.sbts.edu/2019/02/15/statement-r-albert-mohler-jr-sovereign-grace-churches/

I suggest a point-by-point comparison and cross-check of each statement made by SGC, against the facts provided in the above statements.  An answer to all of them has already been made.  I am discouraged to see the same incorrect information [i.e. lies] being reposted.

[Note: I have presented the facts, and exposed their lies, in 100 Articles from 2012-2018 on the Conspiracy to Commit & Cover Up the Sexual Abuse of Children in Sovereign Grace Ministries (Jan. 9, 2019).  In particular, I’d recommend people read C.J. Mahaney, Covenant Life Church & the Conspiracy to Cover-up the Sexual Abuse of Children (Feb. 13, 2018).]

Regarding the other objections SGC raises to an independent review, these are simply not valid objections [True.  They are excuses.  Independent investigations are done in every sphere of society for all kinds of reasons.].  Every institution that desires to pursue truth and accountability must sift through these questions, and numerous Christian experts are available to help properly exegete Biblical standards of justice and accountability.  An independent review by a qualified firm [i.e., law firm] requires higher, not lower, standards than the less-defined and basic standards set out in Scripture.

Further, I have provided multiple suggestions to SGC leaders directly that laid out a framework for pursuing an independent review.  These suggestions were in light of all these supposed roadblocks [the only “roadblock” is their guilt] and did not violate SGC’s ecclesiology.  I also made it clear I was not suggesting an automatic review of every church [Right. Investigate those individuals (starting with Mahaney) and churches where abuse and the cover up of abuse is alleged by victims.]  In addition to providing multiple alternatives and structures for an examination, I offered to help identify multiple independent firms capable of carrying out such an examination.

Should an examination demonstrate that any of the allegations and concerns or facts I have raised are false, I will immediately and publicly post such a finding, and do so gladly.  None of us should fear the truth or accountability.  All of us should desire it. [I’d love to be investigated by an independent law firm to see if anything I’ve written is false.  I too will own any error.] 

For an in-depth theological and academic-level analysis of SGC’s communications and the image-management strategies employed [i.e., the tactics used to cover up evil and appear godly], I highly recommend the doctoral work of Wade Mullen, who has studied and analyzed these dynamics thoroughly.  His dissertation can be found here.  Search for Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace Churches. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rXrd8MYay5Vg5s7JXFx7S91hDTlm1CVX/view

I also recommend his Twitter profile and blog for an ongoing and valuable continued discussion on the communication techniques of organizations in general, including warning signs, indicators of abusive dynamics, communication strategies and healthy signposts and positive indicators.  Understanding these techniques will give everyone tools to identify unhealthy dynamics in organizations asking for trust.

Blog: http://wademullen.xyz/2019/01/11/cubicles-of-charm-and-crucibles-of-condemnation/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wad3mullen

END

Here is one thread of tweets by Mullen.

Brent Detwiler‏ @BrentDetwiler
Brent Detwiler Retweeted Wade Mullen
These comments by Wade Mullen perfectly explain the tactics employed by C.J. Mahaney, Mark Prater, Mickey Connolly, Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc., etc.
1:32 PM - 16 Mar 2019
 
Wade Mullen‏ @wad3mullen
When an abusive organization can no longer control those who are exposing their abuses, they will turn their attention to controlling public perception of the whistleblowers, suggesting they lack credibility, are motivated by hate, and are alone in their concerns.
10:27 PM - 18 Dec 2018
 
Wade Mullen‏ @wad3mullen 
They use a tactic I call “tarnishing.”  Just as your shoes might effect your overall appearance if they are tarnished, they seek to increase public condemnation of the whistleblowers by exaggerating or fabricating characteristics that the public would disapprove of.
11:07 PM - 18 Dec 2018
 
Wade Mullen‏ @wad3mullen 
If the whistleblowers are truthful, concerned for the well-being of others, and compelled by a responsibility to speak up, then this tarnishing is a seriously devious tactic of deception that seeks to make those in the right appear wrong at great cost to the harmed.
11:07 PM - 18 Dec 2018
 
Wade Mullen‏ @wad3mullen 
Having tarnished the whistleblowers, they then use a tactic I call “polishing.”  Just as your shoes effect your overall appearance when polished, they seek to increase public support of the organization by exaggerating or fabricating the positive characteristics of its leadership.
11:07 PM - 18 Dec 2018
 
Wade Mullen‏ @wad3mullen 
If the leadership is being less than truthful, concerned for its own reputation, and compelled by a desire to remain in power, then this polishing is a seriously devious tactic of deception that seeks to make those in the wrong appear right at great cost to the harmed.
11:07 PM - 18 Dec 2018 

On March 17, 2010, I sent C.J. Mahaney the first of several documents regarding my concerns for him and Sovereign Grace Ministries.  That was before the conspiracy to commit and cover up the sexual abuse of children was known to me.  Here is the essence of those concerns.  I had just left Sovereign Grace Ministries after 27 years of service.  

Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine
March 17, 2010 

Most importantly, I write because of my deep love for you and for Sovereign Grace Ministries.  My greatest concern is for the increasing presence of deceit and hypocrisy rooted in self-preservation and the love of reputation.  I’d be overjoyed to see you acknowledge these things to the movement, whether or not you ask my forgiveness for anything specific.  Comparatively speaking, the latter is unimportant.  Ultimately, this isn’t about us.  It is about something much bigger.  Therefore, I provide the history that follows for your careful consideration. …          

Primarily, I hope and desire to see a restoration of integrity, truth telling and justice in Sovereign Grace so there is no lying, spin, manipulation, lording, cover-up, or partiality.  I am concerned for the movement.  Some men have followed sinful aspects of your example and leadership – the kind referenced in this response.  These men have acted deceitfully, judgmentally, unbiblically, and hypocritically.  Their example in turn, has harmed others and been corrosive in its effect.  

I wrote these things over nine years ago.  Things are far worse today!  These sins characterize the Leadership Team, the Executive Committee, and the Regional Leaders.  Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. is corrupt because its leaders are corrupt.  That is especially true of Mark PraterMickey ConnollyTommy HillBob KauflinIan McConnellJeff Purswell, and Rich Richardson.  These men are deceivers!  That is strong language but it matches the evidence.  There is now a longstanding pattern of deceptive behavior that marks these men.  Their April 12 statements have forced this conclusion upon me.  You will know them by their fruit. 

Denhollander references Al Mohler’s official statement above.  I wrote about it and related matters at length.  In summary, Mahaney deceived Mohler into believing an independent investigation of himself, Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. had been conducted by the law firm of Thaler-Liebeler LLP.  It was all a lie.  Here is an excerpt from my article.      

The Inside Story: Al Mohler Severed All Personal Ties With C.J. Mahaney & Sovereign Grace Churches Because Mahaney Deceived Him Into Believing An “Independent Investigation” of Abuse Was Done
Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 4:54o
 
Mohler: “I was deeply affected by the documentation offered by Rachael Denhollander.  I met with Jacob and Rachael soon after she released the documentation and I have deeply appreciated her counsel.  That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.”
 
Mohler says, “That first conversation fundamentally changed my understanding of this issue.”  It was then Mohler discovered 1) Lars Liebeler was not qualified to do the investigation though competent in other fields of law; 2) Liebeler was retained by Covenant Life Church as their lawyer; therefore, the investigation could never be “independent;” 3) Liebeler did not talk to any of the victims in the lawsuit; 4) Liebeler withheld incriminating evidence in his oral reports; 5) the investigation was confined to Covenant Life Church; 6) it did not include other churches or leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries; 7) C.J., John Loftness [accused abuser], and Gary Ricucci [accused abuser] refused to participate though they had been pastors at Covenant Life Church; 8) no written report was published documenting Liebeler’s findings; 9) the lawsuit was dismissed on technicalities, not its merits; and 10) Mahaney had beguiled him about the whole thing. 

This is standard operating procedure for Mahaney.  He has beguiled influential Christian leaders throughout the nation but it is coming to an end.  National leaders are finally seeing through his pride, deceit and independence. 

I regularly pray the Lord Jesus will mercifully lead pastors to repentance and out of Sovereign Grace Churches.  Last month, four pastors from two churches in the Phoenix area left.      

One of those men was Jason Hansen.  He was the Regional Leader in the West and based in the Gilbert, AZ church with Rich Richardson who is on the SGC Leadership Team.  Gilbert is a suburb southeast of Phoenix.  Another pastor, Tyler Jenner went with him along with a lot of people including many members from the worship group.    

Richardson tried to spin the “church plant” as a positive but this is a big hit to his church and the region.  Hansen has been replaced but SGC, Inc. never tells people about it or why.  Any negative news is hushed up unless forced to acknowledge or address it..  

Member Meeting Announcement: A New Gospel Outreach
January 16, 2019

On Sunday night January 13, Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert held a meeting with our members to announce a new gospel outreach.  On March 3, 2019 we will be sending out two of our Pastors, Jason Hansen and Tyler Jenner.  They will seek to reach the lost by planting a church at a place yet to be determined here in the East Valley [i.e., in the same area].  
 
Even though this church plant will be outside of Sovereign Grace Churches, more importantly, it will be a gospel preaching church being planted to reach the lost in the East Valley. 
 
Though not in the same denomination, we are on the same gospel-proclaiming and Christ-glorifying team. 

All image-management! 

In addition, Chris Daukas and Jamie Self pulled Grace Church out of SGC, Inc.  It is in Peoria, AZ, a suburb northwest of Phoenix.  It was under Hansen’s regional oversight.  Here is their letter.

Our Partnership with Sovereign Grace Churches
March 1, 2019 

In early 2018 the Elders of Grace Church began a process of evaluating our partnership with Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC).  Nearly a year later, on January 17, 2019, we initiated our withdrawal from SGC.  As of March 1, 2019, Grace Church is no longer a member of the denomination.
 
Our decision to withdraw from formal partnership with SGC came after many months of prayer and earnest discussions, during which we attempted to work through our differences and express our concerns, first with fellow pastors, then more formally within our Region, and ultimately with SGC leadership [i.e. the Leadership Team].
 
Our concerns fall mostly into two categories: 1) SGC’s response to the ongoing allegations of widespread mishandling of sexual abuse cases within SGC churches1, and 2) growing disagreement with aspects of the SGC Book of Church Order (BCO).  We have communicated these reasons in detail to both SGC leadership and the members of our local church.  We do not intend to discuss them in a public forum.  If you are a member of Grace Church and still have questions about the decision to dissolve our partnership with SGC, we are happy to talk through the details.  In that case, please contact us at info@gracechurchaz.org.
 
As we have reflected on our long history as an SGC member church, we are grateful for the many ways in which we have benefited.  We consider many still in SGC to be friends and co-laborers in the Gospel.  We are committed to praying for SGC as we leave.
 
By God’s grace we are moving forward into a new chapter for our church, but our mission remains the same: to spread the joy of treasuring Christ in all of life.
 
Chris Daukas & Jamie Self
Elders, Grace Church 
 
1 Nothing in this statement is meant to be interpreted as representing a judgment regarding the ongoing allegations themselves.

Good for Daukas and Self.  Notice again, why they are leaving.

1) SGC’s response to the ongoing allegations of widespread mishandling of sexual abuse cases within SGC churches.

The SGC Leadership Team continues to deceive people into thinking the mishandling of sexual abuse was confined to two churches in the lawsuit in the distant past that are no longer part of SGC.  That is, Covenant Life Church and Fairfax Covenant Church (aka Redeeming Grace Church).  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Daukas and Self know better (and so do I).  There are “ongoing allegations of widespread mishandling of sexual abuse cases with SGC churches.”  That is true and that is why the “SGC’s response” is one of opposition to an independent investigation! 

Here’s the second reason for leaving.

2) Growing disagreement with aspects of the SGC Book of Church Order (BCO). 

The Book of Church Order is a monstrosity.  It is unbiblical and extra-biblical in countless ways.  Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. is a denomination.  Something we vowed would never happened.  It forsook a biblical model for church life and government when ratified in May 2012.  The BCO is at odds with the simplicity of the New Testament and a man-made replacement for the gift ministries in Ephesian 4:11. I see this as an expression of God’s judgement.  For varied reasons, including its immense complexity, Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. will never grow under the heavy burdens and convoluted structures imposed by the Book of Church Order.  Few pastors or churches will want to join SGC, Inc. after reading it.     

The departure of Jason Hansen, Tyler Jenner, Chris Daukas, and Jamie Self constitutes a major setback for SGC, Inc. in the West.  I hope it results in an advance for the Kingdom of God.  That depends on what they have learned and how they have been changed. 

The obstinance of C.J. Mahaney is unparalleled.  He often told Dave Harvey, Steve Shank Pat Ennis and me (“the core team”) that he would make it easy if we ever asked him to step down as “team leader.”  When we contemplated the possibility in 2004 due to his pervasive pride, he took great offense.  The same thing occurred in 2011.  He was being confronted on his pride, deceit, hypocrisy, and independence and took great offense.  He angrily left Covenant Life Church and divided Sovereign Grace Ministries down the middle.  But thereafter he managed to fool Mark Dever and a host of other national leaders.  I warned them that he would bring great division again but they did not listen.  Instead, they defended him, promoted him and protected him.  

The question is whether these same national leaders have learned from their mistakes.  A big test is coming concerning another leader far more influential than C.J. Mahaney.  Will they respond differently?  Will they study the evidence or ignore it?  Will they call him to account or remain silent?  Will they exercise discipline or refuse to take action? 

It is not enough to have sound doctrine and spiritual gifts.  Many do and are perverse.  In addition, Christian leaders must be above reproach and unassailable because of their godly character as defined by Scripture.  The woeful neglect of this requirement has resulted in massive harm to the church of Jesus Christ.  Only the preaching of a false gospel is more injurious.     

At first, Sovereign Grace Ministries hid behind the First Amendment.  Then they hid behind the statute of limitations in Maryland.  Now Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. is hiding behind Jesus.  Here is how they ended their statement.   

“Nonetheless, we remain persuaded that an investigation of the sort we’ve been challenged to authorize—both in good faith and otherwise—is inappropriate, impractical, unjust, and finally would be unsatisfactory to all interested parties.  Most importantly, as far as we’re able to discern, we believe this course, the theological capitulation it would represent, and the precedent it would set, would ultimately dishonor Christ and harm the cause of the gospel.”

An independent investigation by a highly respected law firm with expertise in these matters is not “inappropriate, impractical, or unjust.”  Nor would their findings be “unsatisfactory to all interested parties.”  Such objections are absurd.  

But worst of all is the claim a professional investigation would “dishonor Christ and harm the cause of the gospel.”  These men have lost their minds.  No one has brought more dishonor to Jesus Christ and harm to his glorious gospel than C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. since the advent of modern evangelicalism in the 1940’s.  Their lying, deceit, lording and hypocrisy have stumbled tens of thousands of Christians.  Many have fallen from the fall as a result. 

These men don’t care about the truth.  They don’t care about the victims of abuse.  They labeled five of them in the lawsuit as liars without ever talking to them.  They have never been willing to hear their stories first hand.  They only talk to the abusers.  Yet they claim to have thoroughly investigated.  What a demoniac lie. 

They also claim to have never broken any reporting laws and never been accused of doing so by the authorities.  This too is a blatant lie.  Grant Layman (Mahaney’s brother-in-law and staff pastor) confessed to breaking the law and the States Attorney’s Office for Montgomery County Maryland accused the Covenant Life pastors of covering up the heinous crimes committed by Nate Morales in court.  I’ve written about all of this and much more. 

The strategy of Mahaney and the Leadership Team has always been threefold.  Lie.  Discredit.  Refuse accountability.  There is nothing new under the sun in SGC, Inc.  They continue to deceive.  There is nothing about their refusal to do an independent investigation that is Christ-honoring or gospel-exalting.

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