A response to Thabiti Anyabwile’s recent article on “The Cosby Conversation We’re Still Not Having.” Eagle wants to know how Thabiti can pen such an article and then turn around and support CJ Mahaney and be silent on the alleged cover up of child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace. Too inconvenient Thabiti? Is the reason why you won’t challenge CJ Mahaney due to your firm belief in the sovereignty of the American dollar? Eagle has this one question….is CJ Mahaney the “Bill Cosby of Neo-Calvinism?”
“allegations against Mr. Cosby are very serious and are in conflict with the Navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment.”
US Navy revoking an honorary title of Chief Petty Officer issued to Bill Cosby
“Be the Difference”
Motto for Marquette University
“A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals. For this reason, we, along with many others, refused to step away from C. J. in any way. We do not regret that decision. We are profoundly thankful for C. J. as friend, and we are equally thankful for the vast influence for good he has been among so many Gospel-minded people.”
Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever in the infamous T4G Statement supporting CJ Mahaney
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
1 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV
Before I proceed any further I want to be crystal clear that I am not suggesting that CJ Mahaney has raped anyone. That is not what I am saying in today’s post. Categorically, absolutely not. However, there are many other similarities between the Bill Cosby situation and the CJ Mahaney situation that need to be probed.
The other day I was reading the Facebook page for Julie Anne Smith’s blog. I was just checking it out when I saw this article by Thabiti Anyabwile. I started to read it and in light of the alleged Sovereign Grace child sex abuse situation I choked as I was processing it. Half way through the article Dee Parsons called me on my cell phone and the first words out of my mouth were, “You are not going to believe what Thabiti (I always butcher it, and can never pronounce his name) Anyabwile said in this article.” Dee said she knew and she read it herself. After I got off the phone with her I read the rest of the article and was greatly disturbed and wondered…how could Thabiti author such a piece? I read Todd Wilhelm’s response to his article here, then I read his follow up as well. I liked what Todd had said and didn’t think there was anything else to say. What needed to be said, was said. But then the other day I read CNN and my alma mater Marquette University along with Fordham made national news for revoking the honorary degrees that were given to Bill Cosby. I have to tell you as a Marquette University graduate I was thrilled and proud of my alma mater. They did the right thing and exhibited a lot of courage. That became the tipping point for me to pen this post. In the near future expect a longer, detailed post that shows what Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Thabiti Anyabwile and others can learn from a Jesuit Catholic University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Can one say that Marquette is more “Gospel Centered” than either the “The Gospel Coalition” or “Together for the Gospel?” Just a thought!
Bill Cosby’s Sordid Tale…
The sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby popped up in the early 1980’s and again in the 90’s but never gained traction. Then in January 2000, Lachele Covington who played a waitress on the Cosby show alleged she was groped by Bill Cosby. In January 2004 Andrea Constand, a former Temple University employee accused Cosby of drugging and fondling her. In March 2005 Constrand filed a civil case with 13 women as potential witnesses. In October 2014 Hannibal Buress a comedian criticized Cosby for “talk[ing] down” to young black men about their mode of dress and lifestyle, while according to Burres, “you rape women.” A media campaign took off on Twitter with meme’s saying “Define drugged” and “My two favorite things…Jello Pudding and Rape.” In November 2014 more allegations of sexual assault came forward including Joan Tarshis, Janice Dickinson, Louisa Moritz, Lou Ferrigno’s wife Carla Ferrigno, Sarita Butterfield, Victoria Valentino, Charlotte Laws, Michelle Hurd and 11 other women. They all allegedly claimed that sexual misconduct took place between 1965 and 2004. Then came forth information about how women were drugged and how Bill Cosby allegedly obtained Quaaludes.
One by one as the evidence became more compelling institutions and organziations started to distance themselves from Bill Cosby. I want to go over this in more detail in another post, because I ultimately want to illustrate what needs to happen to CJ Mahaney, so this will be exceedingly brief. In November 2014 NBC and TV Land ended relationships with Bill Cosby. A large number of universities and schools also distanced themselves from Bill Cosby by ending scholarships, cutting ties, changing program names or revoking honorary degrees. That list includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst, High Point University, Berklee College of Music, Spelman, and on September 24, my alma mater Marquette University and Fordam University. Marquette again I am so proud of you. Mark Dever could learn a thing or two from you. On December 4, 2014 the United States Navy revoked the title of Honorary Chief Petty Officer to Bill Crosby. The number of people who distanced themselves from Bill Cosby grew and it led to Simon and Schuster canceling a paperback book they were planning to publish. Meanwhile in Walt Disney World on July 7, 2015 they removed the bust of America’s Dad in light of the overwhelming amount of allegations. Finally pictures of 35 women who alleged sexual misconduct were posted together on the cover of New Yorker magazine. 35 brave women came forward and took away the anonymity of the situation and placed a name with a face. Then there was an open chair on the cover to represent those who had not come forward or who remain scared to speak.
Thabiti Anyabwile’s Article on Bill Cosby
On September 21, 2015 Thabiti Anyabwile published an article at his blog called “The Cosby Conversation We’re Still Not Having.” In his post Thabiti references the first Cosby conversation that took place about the state of the black middle class family. Was it too fictional? Or did it represent an idealized life way beyond most black families. Then he talks about the second Cosby conversation that took place at the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education at the NAACP Awards. In what is known as “the pound cake speech” Cosby was critical of black parenting, lack of responsibility, consumerism and how blacks have betrayed the legacy of the civil rights era. Then Thabiti points out how we are not having the third “Cosby Conversation” in wake of the allegations of sexual misconduct. Thabiti says the following. “Predictably, the firestorm raged then cooled. Shock gave way to dismay and anger in some corners. Much has been written and said. But some few months after the allegations broke, there’s hardly any evidence of this third “Cosby conversation” ever happening. We seem to have forgotten the society-wide need to protect our daughters, sisters and wives against the predations of men.” He then goes on and proceeds to discuss rape statistics and the scars, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other issues with which a rape victim must deal.
Thabiti then proceeds to lament the fact that we are not discussing how to avoid men preying upon daughters and females. “What we are not discussing is how to prevent the many Cosbys in our homes, families, friendship networks, schools and churches from preying upon our daughters, sisters, and mothers. We need a sustained campaign to protect our daughters—when they are kidnapped en masse in foreign nations by groups like Boko Haram and when they are terrorized individually by fathers, step-fathers, uncles, brothers, family friends, employers, and celebrities.” Then Thabiti in addressing community standards and what contributes to sexual violence says the following. “If it’s one thing parents and pastors habitually do, it’s preach. The messages we send our sons, brothers and fathers determine the sanctions, norms and entitlements they tend to expect. We can significantly impact the safety and well-being of women by breaking our silence, speaking against violence, abuse and sexual entitlement, and insisting on the prosecution of offenders. We must speak up if we ever hope to end this scourge.” Anyabwile closes his blog post by talking about how we have to fight for black girls. “I will fight. I will fight. I will fight for the black girls in my home, in my community, and around the world.” Before finally saying, “Let’s fight for them together.”
Is CJ Mahaney the “Bill Cosby of Neo-Calvinism?”
I want to propose something in light of that article thatThabiti penned…is CJ Mahaney the “Bill Cosby of Neo-Calvinism?” Lets explore this sordid tale involving these two men. One of them was known as “America’s Dad.” The other one was known for his humility. One of them is facing allegations of sexual misconduct. The other one is facing allegations of covering up child sex abuse. Both men have been the subject of lawsuits, and both men have issued countless denials. In the end however, Bill Cosby came out and admitted under oath that he did indeed obtain Quaaludes to give to women. As hard as it is to say this I guess it could be said that Bill Cosby is more truthful than CJ Mahaney in the end. Despite the allegations each has faced both men have carried on despite it being suggested that neither has good character. One has tried resume stand up comedy routines, and the other has tried to speak and re-launch his career in the Reformed Industrial Complex. Oh and one more point…both men have allegedly thrown around money to influence people. However this is where the true corruption of the Neo-Calvinist movement is revealed. In Bill Cosby’s case institutions and organizations have wisely distanced themselves from Bill Cosby and do not want to be seen as endorsing unethical and questionable behavior. After all I think all of us here agree that rape is wrong and that rape is criminal. In the case of the Neo-Calvinists the exact opposite is true. As the allegations of CJ Mahaney’s involvement in the cover up of child sex abuse drag on people have stuck by the him and released bastardized statements such as this one at The Gospel Coalition or the statement that was removed at T4G. Then countless men, including Thabiti Anyabwile have traveled to CJ’s run away church plant and spoken and defended him. So while Simon & Schuster and Walt Disney World cancel book deals and remove statues, the Neo-Calvinists erect their own. Due to the intense loyalty exhibited to Mahaney I have to ask the question…how much money has CJ Mahaney given these men? How many loyalties were allegedly purchased? Dee Parsons and Deb Martin demonstrated and proved how much money was given to Al Mohler. At SGM Survivors it has been discussed as to how Wayne Grudem was allegedly bankrolled by CJ Mahaney to finish the ESV. If this is any indication of a pattern of behavior…(and I am thinking out loud mind you…) how much money has Mark Dever and Capital Hill Baptist received? $40,000; $50,000; $100,000? If Al Mohler was purchased, was Mark Dever also allegedly purchased? I don’t know I am just thinking about this out loud. Is CJ Mahaney the Bill Cosby of Neo-Calvinism? Yes my contention is that he is. In that piece above you see a horrific double standard that I will get into in a second. But in that photo above you see Thabiti standing next to the “Bill Cosby” of Neo-Calvinism.
The Mahaney Conversation that we need to have
That article by Thabiti has to be one of the biggest piles of bull crap I have ever read. That article contains more bull crap than what one can find on a ranch or pasture in Wyoming or Montana. So let me get this straight….Thabiti is going to talk about how we need to have this conversation about sexual violence and culture and then he is going to support, enable and speak with the man at T4G who allegedly enabled the largest cover up of child sex abuse in evangelical Christian history. As they say in the United States Army…”Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!” How could Thabiti pen such a piece and lament silence about culture enabling sex abuse while enabling and remaining silent about the situation in Sovereign Grace? Or in other words…how can one talk about Bill Cosby’s situation and remain silent about CJ Mahaney’s situation? So one is to be concerned with the rape of an adult woman, but ignore the rape of a child? In the case of Neo-Calvinism money trumps allegations, is that how it works? Wow…and Neo-Calvinists are going to attack the secular world of all its “corruption.” Disney World has been attacked countless times by evangelicals for holding gay days. Disney World has shown more concern, motivation and sympathy to a victim of a sex crime than Thabiti Anyabwile or Mark Dever has ever had. I guess as long as the rape of a child is “Gospel Centered” than its okay?
The other thing that stuns me is that Thabiti talks about the damage and harm that victims of rape had to endure. He talks about the trauma, and psychological issues that fester from rape. Meanwhile he continues to support a man who has led an alleged cover up of child sex abuse in the Sovereign Grace denomination. The families of the victims of Sovereign Grace have struggled mightily with the pain and have experienced some of this very issues that Thabiti has described. So why doesn’t Thabiti address this issue? Too inconvenient? Too much trouble? Too much a threat to your own personal checking account? At the end of the day Thabiti what is more sovereign…. the Lord or that of the almighty American dollar? I guess its the money that is to be worshiped, and that is what speaks volumes for you and you co-horts. So I must ask…are we ever going to have this conversation about CJ Mahaney allegedly covering up child sex abuse Thabiti? If your word was gold you would cancel your speaking engagement at T4G and do what Disney World, the US Navy, and my alma mater Marquette University have done. You would distance yourself and actually show you care about the gospel of Jesus Christ by behaving that way. Its for reasons like this however that I don’t expect you to do a damn thing. That article was a puff piece, and as a theologian you are also a puff piece. As I have said countless times on this blog, I would love to be found wrong. If I am found to be wrong then I will own and celebrate that fact because I don’t want to be jaded or cynical. Being found wrong would be one of the healthiest things for my faith that could happen. And it would not just be for me alone, but so many other people.
As I have said before I will state again. The lawsuit needs to be finished. CJ Mahaney needs to be held accountable for his actions in Sovereign Grace. The church needs to send a message that covering up child sex abuse is wrong, uncalled for and stands against everything that Jesus stood. When it comes to evil you can’t be neutral. You are on one side or the other, but you can’t straddle the fence. If you choose to ignore evil than you have decided to embrace it. And its for this reason, this one individual from the depths of my soul that I plead…Susan Burke…finish the job! Stay the course! Hold CJ accountable. Let’s have a “Gospel Centered Trial” with a “Gospel Centered Conviction.” Susan Burke send a message loud and clear that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated at all. Like I said, and I will expand on this in another post but I’ve never been more proud to be an alumni of Marquette. Against this entire sordid tale of seedy corruption that hemorrhages daily out of Neo-Calvinism it is so encouraging, so refreshing to be affiliated with an institution that did the right thing. To belong to the Marquette family and know that my university spoke loud and clear that what Bill Cosby did was wrong, it’s about time. That fanned the flame of hope that there are institutions that do get it right. Now that Bill Cosby is being dealt with CJ Mahaney needs to be dealt with as well. Also one more thing would be awesome to see. I led this post with that cover from New York magazine. You know what we need? A follow up…it would be great if the Washingtonian or Louisville magazine replicated that cover with the Sovereign Grace victims. If 35 families or people were compiled into a magazine cover with one empty chair for those who are scared to come forward, yet represent the consequences of a theological dictator; or the “Neo-Calvinists Bill Cosby.”
Before I close I want to leave you with this tidbit of information. My moniker online has been Eagle for years. Want to know how I chose that name? Marquette’s mascot is the Golden Eagle. As a Marquette alum I decided to choose the name of my mascot as my online moniker. Its with that said that I will leave you with my alma mater’s fight song. Its called Ring out Ahoya. When I was a Marquette student and living in Milwaukee, I used to attend basketball games in the Bradley Center and I would sing out my lungs to this and be hoarse. Today I am doing it again, and I am singing out loud and clear!