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Why Sending Out “The Documents” Was Not Slanderous But Necessary (Part 2)

On Thursday, I put forward two reasons for sending out The Documents to the SGM pastors.  First, the favoritism shown C.J. by the Sovereign Grace Board.  Second, the failure of the Covenant Life pastors to enforce 1 Timothy 5:19-21.  Here are two more reasons.

3.  Made Out to be the Only Witness Against C.J.

I was deeply troubled by Joshua’s unwillingness to fill me in on the Covenant Life pastors’ time with C.J. on June 30.  But I was even more disturbed by Joshua’s assertion that “the challenge I [Josh] face is that all of this documentation is coming from just one witness [Brent].” 

I was now ostracized and relegated to the role of singular witness against C.J.  Joshua was distancing himself by making me out to be the only eyewitness with concerns for C.J.  His language was clear.  The use of “witness” was purposeful as in “two or three witnesses.”  Joshua and the pastors could take no action against C.J. because no one supposedly “witnessed” any of the events or sin patterns I raised in The Documents. 

I was on my own.  It was back to me against C.J.  I felt extremely abandoned by Joshua.  It is hard to count how many times I’ve seen men compromise their integrity around C.J. by refusing to speak up and be honest with him.  They are afraid of him, crave his approval, and worry about job security.  Once again, I was made out to be the only witness in the universe with evidence against C.J.  I wrote Joshua and shared my honest thoughts.

Friday, July 1, 2011


I am deeply discouraged by your response!

I should have received the minutes from [yesterday’s meeting with C.J.] immediately as an expression of trust, a willingness to walk in the light, and a humble desire to benefit from my feedback.  C.J. should also have requested they be given to me so I could provide my perspective. 

Since pulling back my appeal to the churches,[1] I’ve sought to talk to you and work with you.  I’ve held nothing back.  I’ve put everything out in the open…. Therefore, it is deeply distressing that you are continuing the same patterns of containment and concealment [as C.J., Dave, and Jeff]…. This ongoing lack of transparency affects me deeply.  It troubles me greatly.  It is another reason not to trust on top of a thousand reasons I already have. 

I have no commitment to a panel of mediators.  My commitment was to you.  I was hoping you’d be transparent.  But clearly your commitment is not to me.  If it were you’d zealously desire my observations on your meeting with C.J. knowing he has slandered me, misrepresented me, repeatedly judged me, forgotten events, misquoted my writings, withheld information, and gotten all manner of “facts” wrong….

Your suggestion that I am the only witness against C.J. is preposterous.  Mooresville is irrelevant.  I’ve not built my case against C.J. using material in “The Untold Story.”  You need to deal with the material in RRF&D, AFA, and CR.  Mooresville is another “straw man” argument.  I cannot believe you are pinning the case against C.J. on me.  What I have said most of you [the CLC pastors] know to be true.  You were there.  You were part.  You contributed.  You agreed.  You expressed the same concerns.  You saw the same behavior.  You corrected him.  You experienced mistreatment.  You observed his abuse of others.  You knew about Larry [Tomczak].  You participated on August 20, 2004 and following.  You closed circle around him [C.J.].  You covered up.  You heard his lies.  Experienced his deceit.  Observed his hypocrisy.       

I am distressed.  I have much more to say.


A couple of days later I wrote the following note to C.J. but copied Dave, Jeff, and Joshua.  It appeared the SGM Board and the CLC pastors planned to put me forth to outside evaluators as the only witness against C.J.  I felt betrayed by all the men because I knew some of them shared my concerns.  How could I allow this attempt to label me as the only witness be propagated?  It was another reason I contemplated the need to send out The Documents.  I was exasperated!

From: Brent Detwiler

Sent: Sunday, July 03, 2011 1:38 PM

To: C. J. Mahaney; Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris

Subject: “Am I Qualified?”

…I’ve had to build a case using 600 pages of documentation and telling you [C.J.] of my imminent appeal to all the SGM elders before getting any substantial response…. And now, Joshua is presenting me as the one and only witness against you.  He said, “The challenge I face is that all of this documentation [RRF&D, AFA, CR, TUS] is coming from just one witness (you).”  Holy Hanna!  We can’t find a second or third witness anywhere!  Well drop all charges against C.J. immediately!  We are transgressing God’s Word!  We are forbidden to proceed.  Stop!!!  The Scripture says, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses” (1 Tim 5:19)

May I make a request?  Can I ask a favor?  Would you do me a service?  Shoot that dam witness and put him out of his misery!  I mean, “Dear Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”  Is this the strategy the Board is taking with the evaluators?  It appears so and also with the CLC elders last week.  From Joshua’s report to me, it does not appear you were rebuked in keeping with 1 Timothy 5:20.  They only asked “hard” and “serious” questions.  And recommend your resignation, God forbid, that appears to be is the job of the independent evaluators.  I know all of this is new for some of the elders, but not for many of them.

So now I am the only witness against you.  Well, that brings back a lot of bad memories.  But it is nothing new.  Since Dave bailed, no one has stood with me.  No one has listened to me.  No one has supported me.  I suspect there will be many secret (oops, I’m sorry, I mean confidential) conversations with the mediators where all of you bludgeon me again. 

Contrary to Joshua’s assertion, The Documents make it clear many people were witnesses against C.J. including Joshua.  I could not allow the SGM Board or CLC pastors frame the case as Brent against C.J. alone  For thirty years, I kept the sin issues with C.J. confidential.  For ten years no one knew about our confidential dealings with C.J. as an apostolic team.  His sins were the best kept secret in the movement.  Now I was having to consider a new course of action that I didn’t want to take, revealing the truth about my friend (and others) to the pastors of Sovereign Grace Ministries because others were not willing to redemptively witness against him.

Well, now I have my answer to the question, “Is this the strategy the Board is taking with the evaluators?  It appears so.”  The case against C.J. has been reduced to one witness.  The official report by Ambassadors of Reconciliation reads, “The parties in the case should be C.J. Mahaney as the respondent (or accused) and Brent Detwiler as the complainant (or accuser).”[2]  There is nothing new under the sun.

4.  The Necessity of Telling the Church (Matthew 18:15-17)

1 Timothy 5:19-21 must be understood in light of 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  An overseer who is rebuked by his fellow-elders because witnesses have observed serious sin or patterns of sin is no longer above reproach (3:1).[3]  He is no longer qualified to be an elder, overseer, or pastor.  This may be permanent, temporary or probationary.  When this occurs the church should be told.

The local church should also be told about the sins of an individual member when repentance does not occur after due process has been followed and the truthfulness  of witnesses against the erring member is confirmed in private meetings.  In such a case, the person’s sins are shared with the church and the church appeals for their repentance.  The private becomes public and the confidential is communicated openly but redemptively.  This does not constitute slander.        

I've been asked by a lot of people if I followed Matthew 18:15-17 with C.J.  The answer is yes.  I have gone to C.J. many times “in private” but he did not listen.  Then, I’ve gone many times with “the testimony of two or three witnesses” but he also refused to listen.  These two steps have been repeated time and again over the last decade and longer; more than with any leader we have ever disciplined or removed from ministry.  It was due to our cowardice and favoritism that we never took the third step which says we must “tell it [his sins] to the church.” 

1 Timothy 5:19 says, “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.”  I understand this to be the same step outlined in Matthew 18:16, “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’”  These passages describe the second step of discipline to be taken when bonafide, not false, witnesses exist.  In the case of an erring elder, the disciplinary action is greater than that required for an erring member.  All the elders are called to assemble and rebuke the sinning elder.  1 Timothy 5:20, “Those [elders] who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others [elders] may take warning.” 

We informally practiced this “second step” with C.J. for the first time during our December 2000 retreat.[4]  It was repeated on many subsequent occasions.  1 Timothy 5:20 formally occurred with C.J. on August 20, 2004.[5]  Dave, Steve and I asked for a public confession to all the CLC pastors.  This was shut down by C.J., Joshua, Grant Layman, Kenneth Maresco and Bob Kauflin.[6]    After the August 20 meeting, C.J. continued in the same patterns of sin as witnessed to before and during the meeting. 

I think the intense efforts of the past 18 months have born some fruit in C.J.’s life but I am uncertain because it appears he is reverting back to his old ways again.[7]  In any case, the fruits of repentance have been limited in scope and serious issues have gone unaddressed.  That is why I added the endnotes to RRF&D and AFA on June 8 for the SGM Board.  These additional comments had no apparent impact upon the SGM Board.  As a matter of fact, they sent out a secret letter three days later to all the SGM pastors discrediting me and The Documents (more on this in my next blog post).  That aside, I wrote the following assessment of C.J. on June 8.

C.J., I rejoice in the “thirty-fold” fruit that has been born in your life as a result of this ten year process.  I am glad that friends have finally spoken the truth to you in love.  But the most serious issues I’ve brought to your attention have been ignored, repudiated or denied.  Things like deceit, lying, covering-up, hypocrisy, lording, and favoritism.  I take no delight in saying this, but you and Sovereign Grace Ministries cannot be trusted until these things are acknowledged.  I do not mean to imply the ministry is corrupt or completely untrustworthy.  It isn’t.  There are many outstanding people of high moral integrity that work for Sovereign Grace Ministries and serve as pastors in Sovereign Grace churches.  But given a certain set of temptations related to the love of reputation and self-preservation, I have no confidence you, or those around you, will walk in the light, be truthful, or handle people properly.  I’ve said this from the beginning. (Concluding Remarks, June 8, 2011, p. 201)

A couple weeks later, I followed up with C.J., Dave, Joshua, and Jeff on June 24.  Whereas, I told them on June 8, “It is…time for me to share my concerns with the Sovereign Grace pastors;” now I told them “it is time to tell the churches.”  I said:

I’ve provided 521 pages of historic testimony [RRF&D, AFA, CR], all carefully documented, but it has produced no contrition, repentance, confession or restitution.  Deceit, hypocrisy, self-preservation and the love of reputation remain unconfessed alongside a host of other serious sins….Therefore, it is time to tell the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries about C.J.’s sins for their protection and his good.  I hope brothers and sisters, Care Group leaders and deacons, administrators and pastors, will courageously appeal to C.J. and he will listen to their voices.  To date, he has not listened to my voice, or the voice of others, on many critical matters.

At that point in time, I momentarily changed my mind and decided to tell all the churches of SGM instead of just the pastors.  I was grappling with the command to inform the church or movement given C.J.’s role and influence as President of the Board.  I also considered telling just Covenant Life Church. 

I wrote “Part 6: Tell It to the Church” on June 24 and planned on sending it out to people in the churches on June 26 but held off on doing so when I received some good news from Joshua and C.J. on June 25.  Of course, they were under great duress.  They did not want The Documents going out. 

Joshua and the CLC pastors promised to meet with C.J. and C.J. promised for a third time to follow through on providing me a thorough written response to RRF&D, AFA, and CR (which he has not done).  He also expressed a willingness for the first time to make a public confession to the SGM pastors at the upcoming November conference.  Communicating my plan to tell the SGM pastors or the SGM churches got a quick response from Joshua and C.J.  Unfortunately, it did not ultimately produce any recognizable fruit.       

Moreover, the SGM Board was not dealing with C.J.  They were defending him.  This became extremely obvious on July 13 when the ten man Board (less C.J. and Joshua) found “no reason…to deem [C.J.] unfit for ministry” in any capacity.  They commended C.J. and condemned me on the SGM blog.  There was no need for any rebuke, discipline or public confession.  C.J. was exonerated by the Board in no uncertain terms.  His sins were not serious.  Nothing had changed.  Moreover, the CLC pastors were not dealing with C.J. either.  Both groups made me out to be the only accuser and witness against C.J.

Nevertheless, Matthew 18:15-17 stood before me.  I could not remain silent.  It didn’t matter if no one else was willing to serve as a witness.  The facts proved otherwise.  The evidence overwhelming.  The cover-up reprehensible.  The inaction unacceptable.  C.J. sins were serious and they continued.  How could I not appeal to the pastors or churches in light of Matthew 18:17? 

Two days ago, I wrote, “Typically, slander is comprised of three parts:  1) evil motives or malicious intent;  2) false charges known to be bogus or inaccurate;  3) the distribution of damaging information that is unwarranted.”

I send out The Documents with a redemptive motive, the material contained was credible and the distribution was necessary.  In New Testament times, you ran the risk that “telling it to the church” could be “leaked” to the community.  In our time, you run the risk that information can be leaked to the internet.  That cannot stop us from obeying Scripture.     

C.J.’s is accountable to the SGM churches, the SGM pastors, and the body of Christ where his influence has been felt.  What could have remained private became public because he continued in sin and remained unrepentant aided and abetted by the SGM Board.  The CLC pastors also failed to fulfill their biblical responsibilities.    

Therefore, distributing The Documents was not an act of slander.  It was a necessary and redemptive step in keeping with the teaching of Scripture.

[1] See Reason 4 below and “Part 6: Tell It to the Church” at under “File” on right side of page.

[2] “Consultation Report for SGM Board of Directors,” p. 19.

[3] See “Part 6: Is C.J. Above Reproach?” at under “Files” on the right side of page.

[4] See RRF&D, pp. 5-7.

[5] See RRF&D, pp. 16-28.

[6] See RRF&D, pp. 27-31.

[7] See blog posts “Getting Rid of Speck Is Expensive” and “When Confidentiality Equals Concealment – C.J. versus Joshua” from September 15 at

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