Kevin DeYoung Claims C.J. Mahaney is Above Reproach, Jenn’s Comment from SGM Survivors, and a Dark Anniversary

Kevin DeYoung responds to Todd Pruitt at Mortification of Spin on C.J. Mahaney. Kevin’s post reveals his corruption and why the Christian community should not expect anything substantial from Kevin. These are my thoughts on what Kevin said, Jenn’s amazing comment from SGM Survivors, and my amazement with the strong pushback. Plus today four years ago a Care Group Leader from Redeemer Arlington under the shepherding of Jordan Kauflin gave birth to a false accusation that took aim at my name, ability to earn income, and more. Today is a dark anniversary and why I care and write about some of these issues.  

“I repeat my motive in all of this: The reputation of our Lord, his church, the Doctrines of Grace, complementarianism, and biblical church discipline are taking a beating over this scandal. The damage being done is significant.”

Todd Pruitt in response to SGMGate

“I assume you are referring to CJ Mahaney. How does the fact that so many churches left the SGM network while CJ Mahaney was in charge affect your comments?”

Charlie Singleton

“I have come to learn in life where you smell smoke , there is fire. I have read all of the emails that Mahaney and the other SGM leaders sent to each other. I was in SGM for almost 25 years. I was there. More importantly, I have read THEIR OWN WORDS from their own emails. They are not above reproach. Mahaney has implicated himself in coverup, blackmail, deceit and all other types of things that shouldn’t be named amoung Saints.  We all can put the most godly face on in front of friends and associates. It’s what happens behind closed doors and in the dark that God is most concerned about. Sorry, Mahaney fails the test. Shame on T4G for not listening to the flock of Christ and believing themselves more wise than those who KNOW!”

Mike McNesby

So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.

1 Timothy 3:2 NLT

In a Mortification of Spin post published on April 9, 2016 Todd Pruitt said that Mahaney should not speak at T4G. He listed all the reasons why and said his views have changed in light of the additional information that has come out. You can read that post here. He followed up with another post in which he tried to clarify his remarks. You can read that follow up post right here. Those posts hit a nerve apparently in Kevin DeYoung who wrote a blog post called ‘What Does It Mean for an Overseer to Be “Above Reproach” and “Well Thought of By Outsiders”’?

In that post Kevin says the following:

Let’s start with what the requirements cannot mean. Surely, Paul is not saying that a man who would serve as an elder or pastor must be without any enemies or any accusations, for elsewhere in his correspondence to Timothy, Paul intimates that many have opposed him, deserted him, and been ashamed of him (2 Tim. 1:8, 15, 16; 4:10, 14-16). Moreover, we know from Paul’s other letters he was accused of being everything from fickle and foolish, to overly weak and overly harsh (2 Cor. 1:12-23; 10:1-10). Likewise, in Acts, Paul is often derided as a rabble-rouser, a violator of the Torah, and an enemy of the law of Moses (e.g., Acts 21:27-36). Paul was certainly not above reproach in the eyes of his opponents, neither did he have a good reputation with all outsiders.

We see this same dynamic even more plainly with Jesus. If anyone could be labeled “controversial” or “embattled” or “haunted by serious allegation” or “surrounded by scandal,” it was Christ. He was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard (Luke 7:34), a false prophet (Luke 7:39), a Sabbath breaker (Luke 6:2, 7), a friend of sinners (Luke 7:34), insane (Mark 3:21), demon-possessed (John 10:19-20, 31-33), and a blasphemer (Matt. 26:57-67). He died as a convicted criminal with hardly a public friend in the world. He was, as Rich Mullins put it, “a man of no reputation.”

So unless we want to exclude Paul and Jesus from serving as an overseer in the church, we must conclude that being above reproach and being well thought of by outsiders must mean something other than, “everyone likes this guy; he has no enemies and no accusations against him.” Not only is this standard untenable for almost anyone who has a public profile in today’s social media world, it’s not biblically consistent. The qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus must mean something else.

Kevin goes on and writes the following:

It’s telling that Paul begins both lists—the one to Timothy and the one to Titus—with the requirement that an elder be above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). This characteristic serves as a general heading for the entire list of qualifications. In other words, a man is “above reproach” when he is known to be a man who is faithful to his wife, sober minded, self-controlled, a good manager of his home, gentle, respectable, and so on. Since Paul is writing to pastors or local churches, it stands to reason that the arbiters of whether an overseer is “above reproach” are those on the local level who are close enough to attest (or contest) a man’s character. The gist: your elders and pastors should be examples of godly graces and Christian maturity.

If the requirement to be “above reproach” focuses on the discernment of the local believers, the qualification to “be well thought of by outsiders” concerns the wider non-believing community. Again, knowing what we do about Jesus’ public ministry, the requirement must not be pressed to mean that the elder must be universally beloved by the unregenerate world. Rather, the issue for us, as it was for Ephesus, is that “the leadership of the church should bring no unnecessary disrepute upon the church through improper and immoral actions” (Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 183).


Jenn from SGM Survivors Comments on Kevin’s Blog

There are a lot of good comments and while a couple have been deleted what amazes me is that many still remain. Its the norm at The Gospel Coalition to delete other points of view and act with authoritarianism. After all that is what is known in this movement. But of all the outstanding comments left, Jenn’s comment I wanted to single out and highlight.

Are you supporting CJ because it is the goal of your organizations to lean towards abusive leadership models? Aren’t the 12,000 of us in his wreckage evidence enough? Has anyone asked the members of CLC how they are doing in the aftermath of his abandonment and refusal to reconcile or communicate with ANYONE? Have you explored how they are spiritually coping with this tremendous act of hypocrisy against all we have been taught? Have you spoke to ANY of them? I will send you a church directory from five years ago if you would like and you can spend the day making calls asking how people are holding up? Do they still go to church? Do they believe in God? Do their children? Do you have broken relationships because of CJ’s actions? Are you aware of the families and marriages that have split regarding their loyalties to CJ in his sin? Do you realize, those of us who survived the first wave of church splits regarding SGM will now have to weather another barrage of church splits regarding loyalties to The Gospel Coalition or Together for the Gospel because you have his back? What does that say to us about God when prominent spiritual leaders endorse a man who spiritually abused his flock? The flock who sought to make his life such a joy? How were we to know in our loyal covenant with CJ as our leader that actually HE would be the greatest hindrance to the Gospel in our family’s lives. Doesn’t that count for anything? If you side with him, WE have nowhere to go. Literally spent the day Googling churches asking for ones in town that were not associated with T4G or TGC. Starting over…or not. T4G allowing him to speak felt like the pastors and people at CLC were assaulted.


Did C.J. Mahaney Give Kevin DeYoung Money?

First of all I wanted to write about this sooner but I am committed to writing about Community Evangelical Free Church and I needed to get out a couple of posts. I promised Melody Young that I would do this post. There have been a couple of good posts that have already been written about this situation. Brent Detwiler wrote a great post on this situation which you can read here. My East Coast Mom’s blog The Wartburg Watch also did a post which you can read here. This post was written by Deb.

What first went through my head when I read that post by Kevin DeYoung is the following. I wondered if C.J. Mahaney had given money to Kevin DeYoung, and if those financial gifts have corrupted him. I say this for a number of reasons. First of all we know that Al Mohler and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have accepted at least $200,000. We also know that Wayne Grudem was bankrolled by Sovereign Grace as he finished the ESV translation. This by the way is one of the many reasons why I reject the ESV and won’t use it….its tainted by scandal and corruption. Then you also have this account of Mark Dever receiving money from C.J. Mahaney. Now I am of the opinion that C.J. Mahaney gave a lot more in regards of money to Mark Dever. This by any means is not all the money that I believe traded hands. I believe more will come out in time. In all these transactions what I believe happened is that people were corrupted. The other possibility that exists is that since C.J. Mahaney allegedly blackmailed Larry Tomczak, the possibility exists that C.J. has some kind of dirt on others and they fearing being blackmailed go along with him. Either way what comes into play, is something dark, shady and corrupt.


Analysis of the Situation and How This SGM Scandal Affected Me

We should not be surprised that Kevin DeYoung is going to support C.J. Mahaney. After all remember this bastardized statement when Kevin, along with Justin Taylor and D.A. Carson attacked someone who was raped when they were 13? I have written about Justin Taylor here and Carson’s complicity and the silence by the Evangelical Free denomination led me to pen this post and pose the question…if the Evangelical Free is a safe place for sexual assault victims.

Here is my analysis of the post by Kevin DeYoung. First the obtuse, yet indirect ways show that Kevin needs to work on his communication skills. If you are going to say anything at all, say if openly or don’t say anything at all. If you have to read something, and then try and translate it, well then I am of the persuasion that you shouldn’t say anything at all. This piece shows how enamored  and spiritually lost Kevin DeYoung is, for him the Gospel is about the celebrity culture. The fact that he it teaching should give many people pause in that he keeps plowing forward, and in his corruption creating more and more harm. Kevin’s comparisons of C.J. Mahaney to the apostle Paul fall far short.  After all ask yourselves this my friends…do you find any incidents in the New Testement where Paul practiced blackmail on Barnabas or anyone else? Did you find anything in the New Testament where Paul allegedly covered up child sex abuse? The fact that Kevin is so desperate to try and draw some comparisons show how lost he is and how he shouldn’t even be teaching. I would even go so far as to say that his stretching of the truth to try and support C.J. Mahaney puts him not too far from Joseph Smith. Yes some may say that is a little harsh, but I am going to call it as I see it.

The other thing I find troubling is that Kevin feels he’s qualified to determine if C.J. Mahaney is above reproach. That alone should be done by people who know Mahaney and after reading much of Brent Detwiler’s work we have an answer. C.J. Mahaney is not above reproach. Quite simply for Kevin DeYoung this is about “Gospel Centered” business and fame, and he is cashing in. Kevin is supporting Mahaney because Mahaney is core to the Reformed Industrial Complex. The lack of ethics by the Neo-Calvinist crowd, leaves a bitter taste of bile in my mouth, that makes me wish that this would crawl back into the hole it crawled out of. We should not expect anything of substance from Kevin DeYoung, after all when you are known for a bastardized statement in which  you willingly participate in attacking a rape victim who was assaulted at 13, and writing foolish books like “Crazy-Busy,” the fact of the matter is that we shouldn’t expect anything of credibility at all. Kevin is doing all this for Kevin, and to expect anything more from Kevin is quite simply expecting too much. In other words let me say this…Kevin’s biggest problem is Kevin.

What did please me is to see all the pushback that Kevin DeYoung is receiving. People are fed up and tired of this crap. I am especially sick of some of the garbage. Matt Redmond said it best..a faith system that support the celebrity pastor at the expense of the least of these is really no faith system at all. And if you think it is go back to your Bible and ditch that damn ESV version, as that is propaganda. The fact that people are speaking up and that its forcing even men like Phil Johnson of John MacArthur’s camp to speak about this is indeed encouraging. Note I am not saying that what Johnson said is good, actually I find it disturbing. What I am thrilled about is that these individuals are being revealed for the depth of their corruption. The chorus is rising, and we need to step out and become a ground swell as we continue to challenge and push back. In the end we in the pews have the power and the responsibility to challenge these individuals and refuse to honor their leadership.

Now you my ask why do I care? Why do I write about Sovereign Grace and its last church plant in the DC area before the scandal broke open in 2011? It was today in 2013 where I was hauled into a bosses office. It was today that I was threatened to be reported to the police for a crime I did not commit. It was today four years ago that I was sent into the darkest season of my life. It was in the ensuing period where I had to put together the pieces of my life and find a way forward. While I did so the person who gave birth to the false accusation started to recruit another co-worker to Redeemer Arlington. Four years ago after this event happened and in the course of time I also learned why rape and sexual assault is a serious issue in the United States military. Its about power, and four years ago today I witnessed an Air Force Captain, and 2005 graduate of the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs abuse his power. Jordan Kauflin is the Redeemer pastor who shepherded Andrew White, and what is profoundly sad is some of the conversations I have had in which he have had to discuss what is forgiveness. Sovereign Grace crashed into my life when it was not needed and the fact that its track record is nothing, but pain, corruption, scandals, and acts of alleged illegalities should give everyone who cares about the Gospel pause and deep concern. I write about it because I don’t want anyone else to endure what I have endured. I do get feedback from the posts I have written, and sometimes that comes through email, and other times that comes through personal meetings. But today is a dark anniversary that changed me. I still feel the pain, and I feel like a part of me has indeed died. I just don’t feel the same at all. But that pain is what drives me to write as much as I do, and to document and pushback in my own way. After all I am employing the most powerful weapon that exists: social media. If you doubt me look at the role social media played in the Arab Spring. Again I love you guys, email me if you need anything!


38 thoughts on “Kevin DeYoung Claims C.J. Mahaney is Above Reproach, Jenn’s Comment from SGM Survivors, and a Dark Anniversary

  1. It is not enough to just disagree with them. They have to try and ruin you. I get this. Upclose and personal. Most people have no clue the true evil that is going on in the Name of Christ. It is bonw chilling scary.

    Btw: Pruitts goal is to save the doctrines of grace and complementarianism because T$G is giving them a bad name? What about the victims? What about the spiritually abused? Again, it is not about people but their version of correct Doctrine.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Have you noticed that people are now making this about MoS vs T4G? It is the typical progression we see in political reporting. Ignore the real issue and make it about the factions. They become the story. Not the victims. In truth, neither side really cares about them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ignore the real issue and make it about the factions. They become the story. Not the victims.


      • “Have you noticed that people are now making this about MoS vs T4G? It is the typical progression we see in political reporting. Ignore the real issue and make it about the factions.”
        Awesome connection you make Lydia. They don’t inform us, they ignore the issues, they report it as if it is simply a personal grudge match.

        Twenty years ago out West there was a big controversy over spotted owls, it was really a discussion about long term sustainability of a resource and the associated industry, but instead the news media interviewed militant loggers on one extreme and Earth First on the other, not much help for understanding.

        I guess they are responding to a need and all too many appear to want things to dumbed down to something easily dismissed. It is a don’t “figure out things yourself and let someone else to deal with”, it also explains the political leaders we now have and the leaders in many churches.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It is not enough to just disagree with them. They have to try and ruin you. I get this. Upclose and personal.

      “It is not enough for you to obey Big Brother, 6079 Smith W. You Must LOVE Big Brother.”


  2. You can’t win. There will be no justice. If you have legal recourse, take it. But expecting to get justice and repentance by a keyboard on the blogosphere is futile and only keeps you angry and opens you up for defamation and slander charges, even if it’s all true. This will not change anything or anyone. It’s deeper than a corrupt denom or corrupt leaders. The corruption goes to the core or abrahamic faith and even biblical Christianity. Again, if you have legally actionable information and charges go forward legally. That’s the only way you will ever get justice with these people. They will not change or repent otherwise. And they will run you into the ground to shut you up. They have more resources than you do and much more to protect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • KIA thanks for your comment. I appreciate it…I think in the end all will be fine in many ways. Things won’t change immediately but in time they will. After all in the past couple of weeks some of the prominent Neo-Cal leaders in the movement have been forced to address the issue. That would not have happened a couple of years ago. Nothing changes over night, but me and others can chip away at the wall day by day.


      • Makes you wonder though, doesn’t it? If the HS is really in charge and able to move, then why chipping away is even necessary. Why not just pray and be done with it? Why allow such corruption in the Church and it’s leaders to begin with?


      • KIA…love your thinking! While I believe in the HS I don’t think what is taught is necessarily what happens. I actually believe much of the responsibility is up to us. That’s why I believe its necessary that Christians confront corruption, and challenge it. You know who you should read as you would like it. Is William Lobdell’s “Losing My Religion” he talks about this as the former religion reporter for the LA Times. He became an atheist in covering Christian scandal and asked the same question you just did.


  3. I read Phil Johnson’s piece with interest, having formerly read Pyro for quite a while.

    I think something greatly underestimated is the damage survivor blogs (so-called) do when they are populated by the bitter and angry. This has clearly had an affect on Phil’s thinking, and makes the accusations of cover-up of abuse less credible to him. I agree absolutely that leaders shouldn’t lord it over the flock, but when the flock itself wouldn’t submit to or respect leadership in any shape of form, when it can recite a litany of past hurts to justify this, is it any wonder the the very real problem of abuse gets mixed in with the self-pity? If someone cannot get over being put down by a schoolteacher 36 years ago (I read this recently to my astonishment), how can you take seriously claims of spiritual/authoritarian abuse?

    I certainly seen enough of this recently to make me more sceptical of such claims.

    I’m not saying it ought to be like this, merely that it is. You end up with a professional ‘clergy’ who are out of touch with the grass-roots and what goes on amongst them, and genuine reasons for complaint being buried under, or diluted by, petty accusations of the professionally aggrieved.

    That ought to be the lesson learned from Phil’s brief article. His complaint about the unhealthy nature of much of survivor blogdom is well-made. And it gives well-known church leaders a reason (or excuse?) not to take seriously what has been going on in churches for far too long. Things that they, as overseers, have been overlooking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken-

      We’re going to have to disagree here. If your child was raped, and it was covered up and dismissed should you just smile and say “all is well?” and sing the classic hymm? The claim of being bitter is a tactic by this crowd. One of the acts of cognitive dissonance over at SGM Survivors is that people like John MacArthur despite the role MacArthur has played in propping up Mahaney. After all its strange when you have a conference on strange fire and warn about charismatics and then you sit next to the most infamous one at T4G.

      While a couple of people here and there do have anger, the majority of people have been deeply wounded and are hurting. After all if you break your arm that is painful, if your soul is broken that is also painful. But in regards to Phil Johnson he will always to the party line as that is what John MacArthur is known for. Its a glaring problem that undermines Phil Johnson’s theology, after all scripture says to “weap with those who weap.” Not call them bitter and pass the buck.


      • Eagle, I think you missed the point I was trying to make. When the world of survivor blogdom endlessly whines and moans about every petty incident ever to have happened in their lives regarding church leadership, sometimes decades ago, when they then bring up the very real issue of child abuse, and it being covered up (which in no way would I seek to downplay), is it any wonder that MacArthurville and general Evangelicalism doesn’t find this very credible. There is an element if you like of crying wolf, or if not exactly that, that such claims are exaggerated.

        Phil Johnson himself more or less said this:

        “Sometime much later (seems like it was almost 2 years later), accusations began to surface that CJ Mahaney had actively participated in a cover-up of several child-abuse incidents within SGM. Given my frustration with the Detweiler documents, my inclination was to be highly skeptical of these new accusations”.

        He went on to say The best-known survivor blogs tend to be places where disgruntled former church members mingle with people who are overtly hostile to biblical authority–and a handful of people who are true victims of spiritual abuse.

        This is something survivor blogs very badly need to take on board. There is a marked lack of introspection, of being careful to ensure that the standards of honesty and willingness to obey scripture they require of others they meet themselves. So commenters criticise Doug Wilson for his infamous ‘penetrates, conquers, colonizes’ piece by swearing and using bad language, and cannot see the hypocrisy of this. It’s very obvious to outsiders though.

        Phil is right that no-one actually knows for certain whether Mahaney really knew of the covering up of abuse in his outfit. Until and unless absolute proof of this comes to light, it would be better to withhold judgment, even if it is most unlikely that he didn’t know about it.

        I quite liked Phil’s blog for a while, but left off once he left the scene and his two sidekicks took over, and let’s just say with regard to them that the word ‘humility’ is not the first one that comes to mind!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ken-
        I think Phil Johnson is going to dismiss all critique or challenges. That is part of why he is…he’s eh true believer, the one who tows the party line. He or MacArthur teaches and we are supposed to submit. Its like Islam in many ways. What is defined as “petty?” What is defined as “whining and moaning?” I’ve been in some churches where you try and talk about an issue and you are routinely dismissed or hammered. Fairfax Community Church was the last example of that for me.

        Actually the amazing thing Ken when you raise introspection is that many blogs are able and willing to let people of differing points of view comment. I gave Seneca a long rope to comment here. In the “Contact” or “About Me” you can read some real malevolent comments directed at me. Which church those people attend I would love to know.

        As for Phil is right on no one knows for certain on Mahaney and the cover up. This approach reminds me of Frank Drebin of Police Squad. Phil is going to be like Leslie Nielson and find a master document in an office that says “Top Secret: How SGM Covered Up Child Sex Abuse and Engaged in Other Illegal Activities” Sorry Ken illegal activity is seldom that organized. Plus in many cases we have the emails and other documents that Brent Detwiler has written and that is still dismissed. For the sake of the party line the real, and credible allegations are going to be dismissed.


  4. Reading the comments I have some initial reactions and thoughts to consider.

    First, I am glad for the Internet and believe God is using it to expose evil. When things are tolerated in secret by those who had the responsibility to speak to them publicly, God is not mocked, and His people are harmed.

    Secondly, on that, if people are harmed and in the SGM case refused justice for twenty years or more, you can bet any human being would be naturally and healthily angry. Spiritual abuse is also a violation that requires a grieving process, and anger is part of that and needs expression in a safe place.

    Thirdly, I no longer accept the bitter and angry charge about blogs because I see instead huge amounts of grief and pain the evangelical church would like to ignore and even discredit.

    People like Phil Johnson are quite bitter and angry towards people in pain, if you read what they say about the anger. They really just want people to shut up and stop rocking the boat!

    Finally, the cat is out of the bag and can’t be put back. The current leadership/shepherding/church discipline movement has failed to protect the church and perhaps it never could-because those men should have been servants; instead they chose to lord it over.

    If such people or organizations choose to sue poorer people than they for telling the truth of how they’ve behaved, they aren’t just bad leaders, they are false teachers.

    They will expose themselves to ruin spiritually if they continue to abuse the people of God. Maybe they don’t care about that, but we who blog and write and share on social media care very much for the state of the church and our own responsibilities before God.

    I don’t think evangelicals can play politics anymore. Just speak truth and humble themselves. I simply won’t submit to nor give any hearing to anyone who is bitter, angry, or proud towards people in pain ever again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think evangelicals can play politics anymore. Just speak truth and humble themselves.

      But their leaders insist on fighting over the Iron Throne while the White Walkers close in from the North…


    • I no longer accept the bitter and angry charge about blogs because I see instead huge amounts of grief and pain the evangelical church would like to ignore and even discredit.

      I think two things need separating here. The internet up to a point can indeed uncover gross religious error and wrong-doing in evangelical churches. The covering up of abuse in the Catholic Church is being mirrored in some sectors of professed evangelicalism. It is not sinful to be angry at such activities, both the abuse and the attempted suppression of the truth that it has occurred. Anger can be righteous. Evangelical ‘business (I use the word deliberately) as usual’ needs to be confronted.

      Bitterness, on the other hand, is always sinful, and tends to harm the person indulging in it, and eventually to defile those around. It is a sinful response to being sinned against. I might add I have had my own personal battles against this, this is not just theory.

      I’m more and more convinced that the internet is not the place to try to deal with the effect of abuse on families. They need people, ‘pastoral’ ministry, and the encouragement of fellow believers around them. People who love them enough to tell them when they are being wrong themselves. If they are permitted to endlessly repeat ‘telling the story’ of what has happened to them, I don’t see how this helps in the processes of getting free from what others have done to them. The latter must surely be the goal, even if it takes years to achieve it.

      So the internet is a mixed blessing. It can reveal wrongdoing resulting from false teaching, but can be a gossip shop for disinterested third parties. It can reveal righteous anger against things evangelicals want to sweep under the carpet, but it can enable the root of bitterness to spring up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Reading this, I’d be curious how you define “bitterness” and “gossip”- because i haven’t seen a Scriptural definition from those who like to use those words against survivors of spiritual abuse just yet.

        As I understand it, “missing the grace of God” is what constitutes bitterness- and many people have conversely experienced “the wandering and the gall” of bitterness as part of their journey out of ongoing spiritual abuse to life, without in fact ultimately missing God’s grace.

        Grief and bitterness that comes with it can be a process, and people cannot simply be dismissed as bitter for expressing bitterness. Some maybe do entirely miss the grace of God, but again, can you blame them?

        The truly bitter among us are those who miss the grace of God towards hurting people, and give them further condemnation on top of the spiritual abuses they have spoken out about. This is the kind of bitterness I believe Todd Pruitt and Phil Johnson are guilty of towards survivors blogs. It’s a kind of kicking people when they are down, and manifestly ungodly for Christians who are meant to weep with those who weep. It’s being Job’s “comforters” to expect people not to express pain and bitterness in that way.

        Again, not denying people can remain stuck and miss the grace of God. But currently, I would suggest it is the evangelicals who judge survivors of abuse who are most bitter.

        It is also not gossip to talk about what one knows about public situations. Survivors have a need to be validated because they have been lied to and about- in fact they have been gossiped about, by definition. Truth tends to rise to the surface. In this case, if CJ Mahaney did not know about child sex abuse, he was the only one in his leadership team in 2007, according to court testimony, and his leadership team included family members.

        If victims’ families say he knew, and he refuses to address that directly, it is absolutely not gossip to discuss that, nor was it gossip for those families who have been victimized for over twenty years to tell the truth to warn the church and other families. Gossip is malicious spreading of information with the desire to smear someone. That is not the same thing as making things public to protect others and get justice for those harmed.

        The gossip card in evangelicalism needs to go. It wouldn’t fly in a healthy secular organization. I also think there is a difference between biased speculation and gossip. If people who are responsible refuse to be direct and truthful, they can’t complain when people lose trust in them and speculate accordingly.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think there is a very dangerous straw man in comparing CJ Mahaney to Paul and Jesus. In both Paul and Jesus’s cases, there was a public trial. Although there were a lot of accusations against Jesus, as Kevin listed, when it came time to try him, there were not two witnesses that could come forward with accusations that agreed. With Paul, the same thing. The Chief Priest hired the best lawyer, and that lawyer wasn’t able to make a coherent case against Paul.

    So, in one case, we have baseless accusations and trumped up charges that failed to carry any weight in a court, and in the other case, there are substantiated claims from multiple witnesses that multiple churches, through their courts, have decided require them to leave SGM.

    As with many evangelical arguments, equivocation is strongly at play. DeYoung takes the qualification of “having a good reputation”, which is a Biblical qualification, explains how it (rightly) could not have disqualified Paul and Jesus, but then changes the language (equivocates) to say that somehow the many claims against CJ Mahaney are somehow equivalent to the claims against Jesus and Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark welcome, and thanks for your comment. This is very insightful and says quite a bit. Jesus lacked evidence in his false accusation, Paul had the same problem. Those issues are not problems for Mahaney, after all we have his email correspondence and other documentation.


  6. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice,

    The bitterness here is resentment at how we may have been (mis)treated. Being sour. Self-pity. It belongs with the other family of ugly words here where Paul wants us to refrain from venting anger or blowing our stack, to use more colourful language. Passionate outbursts, a desire to hit back, emoting.

    It ought to be replaced by forgiveness, being tender-hearted and kind. Who said being a Christian is easy!

    Let me ‘update’ 1 Tim 5 for you: Besides that, they learn to be idlers, gadding about from blog to blog, and not only idlers but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households, and give the enemy no occasion to revile us. For some have already strayed after Satan.

    The aspect of blogging I have in mind here is unsubstantiated or unproven allegations of wrong-doing. Spreading rumours or assuming the worst without evidence. I’ve had enough experience of this personally to be able to vouch for the inaccuracy of most rumours, and believers need to avoid straying after Satan by becoming accusers of the brethren.

    I was shocked at a fairly recent trawl through the world of survivor/discernment blogs at just how much of the very thing Paul warned against is present. There is too much trial by internet, and third parties with no direct involvement assuming the worst or speculating. The word that came to mind was ‘bitter’, ending in malice. Not universally, but too often.

    This should never be used by the evangelical leadership establishment to shut believers up from exposing error and criminal negligence. That’s not what I am getting at, and I get the impression you have seen this done (“the gossip card”). The bible assumes believers are able to charge leaders with wrong-doing, and puts in safety checks to ensure that this is not just someone who is bolshie hitting back at legitimate correction.


  7. I wanted to make an observation on comments above regarding bitterness on survivor blogs. Especially the one about “third parties” with “no direct involvement” commenting.

    I have commented on the SGM matters on a couple of places. I am in Australia with no “direct” involvement. But hang on, are we part of the same body of Christ or not? Or is that no longer the case now? If there is a cancer in one part of the body should the rest of the body pretend we have nothing to do with it? What you forget also is that these ministries attempt to influence people all over the world. Its hardly unreasonable when said people from around the world then have a say, is it?

    Regarding bitterness. I do agree that holding on to bitterness is bad and wrong. However, most of these folks venting on survivor blogs have almost NEVER been afforded either the courtesy of a proper hearing in case of clerical abuse or the opportunity to speak their minds in the churches and ministries they have been part of – all to keep up the facade of “reputation”. Instead, the so-called shepherds preferred to lord it over their minions demanding they forgive, remain silent and grin and bear it. I have been in churches like that where asking even a question about why members did not get copies of audited financials was licence to be treated as persona non grata. That’s the reality many people have lived with.

    We are always branded wrong by this evangelical-industrial complex. No matter what happens, we the “laity”, the “hoi polloi” are always wrong, always the ones who fail to meet the biblical standard. Never these elite ministers and clergy. Why is that?

    Jesus lambasted the teachers of the law and the scribes for laying heavy burdens on people’s backs and not lifting a finger to help them. Is this system of holding the ordinary believer to standards that the elite clergy don’t bother to keep any different? Would it meet with Christ’s approval or rebuke? What do you think?

    There is a time for everything. Pointing fingers at hurting people venting their hurt and anger and -yes- bitterness in the only forums that they have space to, and whining about their “sin” without actually weeping with them or really doing or saying anything against the evil and injustice done to them in the first place is out of order. It is not the time or place.

    First speak up or do something about what these people have suffered. There is more credibility then when reminding them not to sin in their anger.

    Oh, and bad trees do not produce good fruit, or vice versa. Maybe Phil Johnson and his ilk are not such good trees as they make themselves out to be.

    Just a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t want to hog the comments, but …

      I think if we can give encouragement to others, that is all to the good.

      My problem with the survivor blog commenting I have experienced is I find it in general hard to believe those who comment have actually been abused. I know what can go on in churches, I know what it is like to be misrespresented or ignored by the powers that be, rumours, assumptions about motives … and I’ve known believers who have endured various forms of physical and mental abuse in their lives.

      The ones I have known didn’t seem to need to have to talk about it publically. It wasn’t the dominating thing in their lives. And they didn’t seem to be consumed with bitterness or a desire to hit back.

      Any third party in the internet can do almost nothing to put right abuse when it has happened, this is an unreasonable expectation. We can only do this in the local church where we live, and I agree we should do so. And yes, there can be a price to pay for this.

      The most the internet allows for is as I say to try to encourage, and to refute the false claims and doctrines espoused by authoritarians. The truth setting you free. The net is rarely a source of objective information; too impersonal to replace direct contact with people who will actually help.

      I hope I don’t come across as too unsympathetic to anyone who really has suffered injustice, it’s not my intention. It’s just in nursing grievances, so many deny the grace of God to others, and therefore to themselves and it shows; and far from making the sorry situation better, prolonging the agony.

      This survivor constituency attracts, by majority, malcontents and destabilized personalities who have large personal and inter-personal conflicts which are exacerbated by an overwhelming juvenile narcissism of perpetual victimhood and anger. Strong language, but all too true.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ken I have no problem with other points of view. I believe its important for these issues to be discussed. You are free to speak your mind and say what you want. I want this to be a casual place for all people to share and speak. Its why I let everyone post, and why I don’t censure anyone. I give people a lot of freedom, and you are always free to speak what you think.


      • Ken said:

        “This survivor constituency attracts, by majority, malcontents and destabilized personalities who have large personal and inter-personal conflicts which are exacerbated by an overwhelming juvenile narcissism of perpetual victimhood and anger.”

        You cannot know that and you certainly not prove that.

        Judging by you previous posts, your statement sounds like gossip to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “I don’t want to hog the comments, but …”
        Remember, insertion of “but” negates the prior statement.

        “This survivor constituency attracts, by majority, malcontents and destabilized personalities who have large personal and inter-personal conflicts which are exacerbated by an overwhelming juvenile narcissism of perpetual victimhood and anger. Strong language, but all too true.”

        There is painting with a broad brush, this is the equivalent of throwing a bucket of paint at the wall, bucket included. We are reading and commenting on Eagle’s blog so if you are referring to Eagle or the commenters here I thoroughly disagree, if you are speaking of another blog and posters or commenters there then be specific. Some have already taken exception to the “bitterness” charge. Now labeling a majority “malcontents and destabilized personalities” is over the top, silencing tactics, and insulting. I’ve been around at least long enough to recognize patterns and references to victims as “bitter”, “malcontents”, “disgruntled”, “perpetual victimhood”, etc denotes a lack of compassion and hard headed tone deafness.

        Liked by 1 person

      • With the stuff Ken P is posting, I’m glad I don’t post under my real name (which is “Ken”, with a last name beginning with “P”…)

        I started using a handle when I was commenting on a blog with half a dozen “Kens”.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ron you make some good points. I will be writing a post about this and your commentary reveals some key points I would like to stress. Too often its about “shut up” and move on when people can’t be allowed to process what happened and grieve. I think that is part of the reason why evangelicals are also horrific about death as well.


  8. eagle – I appreciate your comment. I certainly don’t want to be a pain in the neck in your combox.

    I’m still thinking through this whole survivor blog (and general religious internet blog) phenomenon. Let’s just say you can get bogged down in it, drawn into it, and need to get free. It can have the effect on you in starting to make you more belligerent than you would normally be, as some commenters can be verbally abusive. I’ve had a taste of this, and it’s unpleasant – and of course I mustn’t now start to nurse grievances!

    I hope very much you will be able to keep the comments here free of toxicity – seems to be the case so far. I’m still very much of the opinion that we should Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; … but I very much fear too much survivor blogdom has become the exact mirror image of the attitudes of those whose deeds do need exposing. The tragedy then is those who need to listen to them won’t, and I can’t actually blame them.

    On a lighter note, I believe I was the very first person ever to comment here. Which means of course it can only get better from then on … 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bill M – I’ll try to keep this brief. The quotation I put in italics comes from a piece by Alex Guggenheim ‘The Wartburg Watch *Fosters a Comparison of CJ Mahaney’. The comments section there documents (at too great length) my gradual disillusionment with TWW. I wrote under KB. So yes, specifically I have issues with the comments section of TWW, but more with other survivor/discernment blogs I read. In particular, trawl the net on Doug Wilson and Natalie Greenfield. Absolutely appalling, above all the bitterness and emoting. It had quite a profound affect.

    I have tried to be fair and objective. I was strongly convicted of the unhealthy nature of such commenting, the damage it was starting to do to me, and the need to move away from any preoccupation with it. I’ve made mistakes as well, but you have to see the sinful nature of so much commenting in this sector for yourself. I ought to have left off a long time ago. I don’t think eagle’s comment section is like this as I have already said, and I hope it remains that way.

    If you think I should direct my criticisms to the people concerned rather than elsewhere in the net, after a particularly vicious comment aimed at me at TWW was allowed to stand, I did attempt two thoughtful posts to try to resolve this with the commenter concerned, and fwiw set out my thoughts to Parsons. Neither comment was approved, so I have clear conscience on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken I wonder where this is going in particular. I see the quoting from that website you are referring to. To be fair I think mine is far more diverse in its commenters and people who read. Reading all this is giving me the desire to do a post and ask questions like

      1. What is bitter?
      2. What is angry?
      3. Talk about how words are redefined?
      4. Talk about how many evangelicals are in a bubble away from the world and don’t realize how they can be out of touch.
      5. What recourse do people have when the other side has no interest in engaging or is fundamentally flawed?

      I see nothing wrong with what people are saying and to play the bitterness card is questionable and raises concerns. If a loved one in your family was the victim of a crime that was covered up by the church…wouldn’t you be a tad bit livid especially when you see that loved one trying to medicate through drugs and alcohol? Or going in and out of mental health facilities?

      Give me some time and I will craft a post dealing with this issue but those who have commented are not bitter. The fact that they care speaks far more volumes about their faith in the end.


      • I think the post you suggest is a good idea. I certainly don’t want a long discussion here centered on me or my thoughts about blog commenters elsewhere.

        That said, this is a subject ripe for discussion. And I would personally clearly differentiate between anger at ecclesiastical wrong-doing, and bitterness being harboured in the aftermath of it. I’ve been there with this one, more than once and not necessarily all that long ago.

        There is the most appalling blindness to the effect letting rip in comment sections can have. An example (on which you also commented but nicely!) would be Todd Pruitt’s interaction at TWW. He rightly imo complained of the tendency to slander, but no-one had the introspection to look at their own lives and attitudes to see if they have overstepped the mark. To consider the views of an outsider, how the blog comes across. He’s not been the only one.

        Those who complain heavy church leadership used accusations or bitterness or slander to shut them up musn’t in turn exempt themselves from the requirement not to slander or be bitter.

        I visited your old mate Seneca’s Wartburg Whiners site for a laugh. His most damning criticism is imo found in simply reproducing the comments section on a TWW thread about John Piper. Snarky, nasty comments. There’s worse elsewhere.

        Not only is this damaging to the spiritual health of the commenter, it means legitimate criticism of Piper (or Mahaney or Wilson or T4G … ) will be ignored by those who perhaps very much need to exercise more discernment regarding his ministry and comments.

        There is far too much of the disobedient criticising the disobedient. It’s not going to do any good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Here is the problem with Todd Pruitt Ken. In the end you have a deeply flawed church governance model if all you can do is praise but not correct. What would happen if a doctor operated like that? Tell the patient the good news and ignore the cancer that is growing and threatening the patient’s life? What if a company operated like that? Just reported the good news and ignored the negative problems or issues. Its my understanding that is what Enron did.

        Todd Pruitt by not pointing out these issue earlier and by believing that you don’t correct these mistakes becomes part of the problem in the long term. He is an enabler. Its a serious, serious flaw and I don’t think its Biblical either. After all isn’t scripture for correction and instruction? How can you instruct if you can’t point out another person’s flaw?


  10. A bit of talking at cross-purposes here, eagle.

    In my time, the issues tended to revolve round things charismatic, including the heavy shepherding epidemic. It is absolutely right to exercise discernment, using both the NT to evaluate and the spiritual gift of distinguishing of spirits, and I for one am not fooled by the misuse of ‘Judge not, that you be not judged’ to allow charlatans and their unbiblical practices off the hook.

    Now I would still be charismatic if you define that by meaning the gifts of 1 Cor 12 – 14 are available today. Legitimate area to discuss.

    I would not be charismatic if you mean the faith-healing, prosperity teaching, celebrity circuit of ‘anointed’ ministers, many of whom have decidedly shady morals.

    Enter John MacArthur & Co, especially his sermon on tongues. I agree with him on exposing the false, but the attitude with which he does this, including torturing the text of the NT to bring it in line with his presuppositions, means charismatics or Pentecostals who have been fooled by the charlatans won’t listen. Team pyro have a similar attitude problem, and a marked absence of humility. It’s completely counterproductive.

    This is my beef with so much survivor blog commenting. They can be verbal abusers themselves whilst complaining about abusive churches or leaders. They become what they deplore.

    I agree with you that there is a place for righteous anger (within limits), but thinking about this, there is no such thing as righteous bitterness, or slander, or malice. So the bloggers and commenters may have just cause to be angry, but if their own sinful response is allowed to continue unhindered, not only do they damage themselves and put themselves out of God’s blessing (the very thing they need most), they can drag readers down with them, and every bit as important the evangelical ‘celebrities’ and their followers and the conference circuit won’t listen to legitimate and needed criticism. And who could blame them?


  11. Pingback: What is Gossip? What is Slander? Addressing the Issue of Bitterness; Finally the Word Bitter will be Banned at The Wondering Eagle | Wondering Eagle

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