Analysis of Tim Harvey’s Prayer at Covenant Life Church

This is an analysis of Tim Harvey’s recent prayer at Covenant Life Church which occurred in June of 2016.  Today’s post explores the question…has any serious change occurred at CLC? My contention is no… it appears to be business as usual with no interest in doing the right thing.

“Over the past decade…while many businesses have pursued what I would call ‘business as usual,’ I have been a part of a different smaller business movement, one that tried to put idealism back on the agenda.”

Anita Roddick

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

1 John 3:16-18 ESV

Recently I was eating dinner and checking out the Covenant Life Church blog and I saw this post which ultimately came from Tim Harvey. When I read this I almost choked on my food and knew it needed a response.  This prayer which I believe happened on a Sunday morning (please correct me if I am wrong…) raises a whole host of issues that need correction and to be pointed out. This prayer shows that the DNA of Sovereign Grace is alive and well…and still being practiced in many ways. Before I get into this post let me tell you a few things about Tim Harvey. Tim today is a non staff elder.  This paragraph from the website explains how and why he got involved in Covenant Life.

Tim and Geney first visited Covenant Life Church in 1990, when they moved to Maryland from Connecticut. They were drawn to the strong biblical teaching, powerful worship, and openness to the gifts of the Spirit that they found at Covenant Life, and joined the church a few months later in 1991.

For more about Tim I recommend you check out his biography on the Covenant Life Church website.  In this blog post I am going to write in between Tim’s prayer and my comments will be in red.

Gracious Heavenly Father, we come before you this morning to agree with your evaluation of us, spoken through your prophet Isaiah. Like the people of Isaiah’s day, we have rebelled against your laws and forsaken your ways, both inwardly and outwardly. So we come before you as your people to confess our many sins. 

Alright! This sounds good, let’s see where this goes, but so far this is looking positive!!  

Lord, we have raised up other gods before you in our hearts and our lives, idols that we have looked to for joy and hope and meaning more than we have looked to you. And our idols are many – they are entertainment and social media where we have run for refuge and for joy rather than to you. Even your good gifts like work and family and children and marriage and friendships we have exalted as other gods above you by running after them and holding on to them as our ultimate sources of joy and hope instead of you.

Wait …we’re talking idols isn’t  this the part where Tim Harvey raises up the issue of C.J. Mahaney being worshipped and deified at Covenant Life Church? Isn’t this the part where Tim Harvey should have said…”Lord I need to confess something to you and we need to do this as a church. Lord we worshipped C.J. Mahaney. Covenant Life Church did that…spiritually we got down on our knees and prostrated ourselves before him. Lord that was sin. C.J. Mahaney is an idol we at CLC and Sovereign Grace worshipped.” That would have been a healthy and good start but did that happen? No…another opportunity came and went and Covenant Life Church really screwed the pooch. They have all these opportunities and talk about repenting and doing the right thing but have they? Has CLC done that?

Here is another thing that is deeply disturbing. In that paragraph up above he talks about idols. But here is the problem in speaking of idolatry, Tim says nothing about celebrity pastors and people from the Reformed Industrial Complex. He says nothing about how individuals like Mark Dever, Al Mohler, John Piper and Matt Chandler are nothing but idols who are being worshipped over God. Another opportunity that Covenant Life had and another opportunity to fail. To fail like this takes some serious talent!

Lord, we have disregarded and dismissed things of eternal value – the wonderful treasures of your word and of deep fellowship with your people – in favor of things that will not last – entertainments and diversions, or even a few more minutes of sleep. 

I want to interject that in this comment Covenant Life due to its own culture has chosen to forsake and ignore people who left. There is this sick mentality that you can only be friends or fellowship in the same mindset or church. Those in the church ARE the church yet those outside it, even if they be conservative are not of the church. There can be such a narrow and sick definition of what the church is. Now here is the other thing I would say…many of those who left CLC are opportunities to show love, grace, repentance for how CLC acted. Has CLC reached out to those that were hurt and sought out deep fellowship with them? Have they sought to show love and care for them? Plus I will also say this…many people at CLC have invested time into an organization that will not last. The reason why is because they have it backward in making the “local church” the mission often in forsaking or forgetting the “global church.”

We have prayed more for our own kingdoms and our own comfort than for your kingdom.

Lord, we have failed to love our brothers and our sisters as we ought to. We have made harsh judgments in our hearts without knowing or even caring about their situations. We have distanced ourselves from those in need, we have been too afraid or too concerned with our own comfort to embrace the hurting, the desperate, and the difficult people around us.

Now here is the question…while I like what Tim says here will this translate to anything? Will he or CLC do anything different? Will they reach out to some of the people I mentioned above? Or in the end is this all an elaborate act worthy of a Tony or an Oscar? Where you get up before CLC and say all the right things but in the end nothing changes. Its business and usual, shut up and follow the party line.  Say one thing because it looks pretty and “Godly” but don’t give a damn nor do the right thing in the end. Will CLC embrace the hurting people? What about those who were hurt by Covenant Life Church? Will they do anything at all? This is part of the reason why I wanted to write this post as in the end I would suggest that nothing has changed at CLC the culture of SGM still remains and is in place. Or in other words when you have individuals like Kenneth Marseco leaving Covenant Life for places like Redeemer Grace Church what the hell does that say?

We have sought to be proven right more than we have sought to be loving.

And Lord, these things have come about because we have looked first to ourselves rather than to you. We’ve trusted in our own strength and wisdom and become fearful when those fail us. We’ve chased after our own comforts only to find those comforts are ruling over us.

Okay so we are now talking about trusting our own strength…that’s good where does this prayer go? How will this compare for the remainder of the prayer?

And so we turn to you, Lord. We turn to you to ask your forgiveness for our many sins. And we turn to you to thank you for the great forgiveness that you purchased at such a cost – by turning your back on your own son as he died – and yet that you offer to us for free. We turn to you to rejoice that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, that you have set us free from the sin that once enslaved all of us.

Okay so we are talking about confessing ours sins as a church. Our many, many sins…lets see if Covenant Life Church does the right thing. Lets continue reading as to what Covenant Life confesses to…

And we turn to you, Lord, to cry out for your help to turn aside from our sinful ways and to live in a way that pleases you. We cry out, Lord, that you would give us not just an outward form of obedience, but that you would change our hearts. Take away our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh that are tender toward your ways. Fill us with your perfect love that casts out fear. And turn our eyes away from ourselves, away from the foolish idols that fill our view, to see more and more your kingdom and your glory.

We pray in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us,

Amen

THAT’S IT?!? THAT’S EVERYTHING?  As they say in the US Army…”Whiskey” “Tango” “Foxtrot!!” We’re going to talk about confessing our sins and stay silent on what Covenant Life needs to own up and confess. What sin is that you ask? Its all the efforts to allegedly cover up and conceal child sex abuse at Covenant Life Church. Tim is going to speak about confession and he’s going to do it up front and before others, actually before the whole church and he’s going to stay silent on the grand-daddy of them all – allegations of “Gospel Centered Child Sex Abuse” cover up. Here’s another thing I wonder…did Tim Harvey vet this prayer through Chip Grange? Did Tim call up Chip and seek advice on how to BS his way through a prayer? It needed to look good enough to satisfy the masses but not admit real issues or problems. Confess enough to say you confessed while the entire time you defer and deflect. Can one confess to drinking Kool-Aid at Covenant Life for years? I selected this blog article to say one key thing about Covenant Life Church. Now while I have written a couple of things about P.J. Smyth I have withheld writing any critical pieces on him because I want to give P.J.  the benefit of the doubt and see what he will do. But while saying this you have this church that meets week after week, and carries on has prayers like the one I have above, and the entire time they are acting like its business as usual. Life goes forward and I am not seeing much of anything that will suggest that there is change. Or in other words I am not seeing Covenant Life facing its past and admitting all the errors and mistakes that they have made over the course of time. It makes me wonder if the church is more interested in following the counsel of Chip Grange than the Bible. To keep this up is more than just frustrating it goes against Christianity to not even do the basics of saying “we were wrong…” and cleaning it up. Personally I am pessimistic about the overall health of this organization in so many ways. And prayer like Tim Harvey’s only seek to confirm that deep concern. Well that’s it guys, as always I love you! Feel free to agree or disagree on this post I invite all thoughts and agreement or criticism.

15 thoughts on “Analysis of Tim Harvey’s Prayer at Covenant Life Church

  1. Two summers ago at Sovereign Grace church of Fairfax/Redemming Grace, during a service to announce that Lou Gallo was stepping down from his role as a pastor, Sr. Pastor Mark Mullery encouraged Lou with the scripture, “when you’re persecuted in one town, flee to the next.” Lou and Mark were named in the lawsuit against SGM, that’s persecution to them. (Guess they’ve never been to Baghdad) As long as these men see themselves as the victims, nothing they say will be of any value to anyone who suffered under their watch.

    When CJ/CLC and Fairfax genuinely repent for the damage they’ve done, that will be a sign that things are changing.

    “Offenders are experts at twisting the truth, minimizing abuse, and exploiting guilt in order to create a fictional narrative that paints themselves as the victims and those who accuse and confront the offenders of injustice.”

    Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment

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  2. Eagle, I’m glad you don’t hear my prayers. I fear what you’d say about them. I’m more about letting people pray whatever they pray without criticizing them.

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    • Megs CLC was ground zero for SGM, and faced a lot of allegations of covering up child sex abuse. It is more than fair game to critique or look at something that they are doing publically. If you are going to post a prayer about remorse and repentance all the while refusing to own allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of a child..then yes it deserves to be pointed out. Yes it deserves to be questioned and asked if their statements and are vetted first by a “Gospel Centered” lawyer.

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    • “I’m glad you don’t hear my prayers. I fear what you’d say about them.”
      When you cannot attack the message, then attack or discredit the messenger.

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    • Megs — or should I say Betsy — when you change your identity, change your icon, too. And try to vary your response style.

      And the proper phrasing of your passive-aggressive backhands should be couched in some sort of woo-woo “I Feel The Holy Spirit Grieving…” or something similar.

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  3. Megs, honestly, I see your response as more trolling than serious. Eagle “analyzed ” the possible theological and doctrinal content of an apparently public prayer at an open to the public church service. When someone is allowed to present a prepared prayer from the stage, I’m pretty certain that prayer was pre-approved especially considering the venue. Eagle is legitimately seeking clues to indicate institutional change at CLC. Considering the entire scope of CLC’S history looking and hoping for change there is pretty reasonable. Your claiming to be terrified appears to me to be the product of a troll because it is so very illogical and absurd.

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  4. This one’s for not just Tim, but also for the alpha-male chieftains in the Calvary Chapel cult:

    Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.
    — Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 —

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  5. Thank you for all the hard work you do with this blog. It is an inspiration to know that there are brave people speaking the truth for those who cannot speak it themselves, and you are an advocate for the victims of abuse whether spiritual, physical or emotional. Many CEO’s (not pastors) of large churches I hope will see these blogs and realize its a new time where people in pain can unite and stand firm against any type of abuse.

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  6. I know Tim Harvey only slightly, but believe him to be a good man. He has served in the background for many years in a ministry that requires a lot of sacrifice but gets no acclaim. I’d be surprised if his prayer was vetted beforehand, but I have no idea.

    I think part of the problem with CLC, and likely other former SGM churches as well, is that there is a sizeable percentage of members (and even some pastors) who don’t read online and whose knowledge of the serious issues discussed here and elsewhere is limited to what they hear from pastors or their small-group leader. And statements they hear from the “authorities” in their larger circle (the echo-chamber of Mohler, Moore, Piper, Grudem, Chandler, DeYoung et al), seem to downplay or ignore these issues as well. So, many members are satisfied that they know enough, and there’s no need for further inquiry.

    While I feel the freedom to disagree with much of what I read online, I compare and evaluate and learn much from blogs such as yours, the Wartburg Watch, etc. I don’t agree with you on every point, but I appreciate and respect the research that you do. It is much better for the Body of Christ to be able to consider many diverse viewpoints than to have their thoughts held captive as it were by a self-reinforcing group of autocratic leader-celebrities. Discernment can not be developed in an echo-chamber.

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    • Peach thanks for the comment. Its always important to have two way conversations and to be able to hear other points of view. That is one of the issues at CLC, and its one of the reasons why it is so unhealthy. For the record I can and from time to time probably will be wrong. I gladly entertain correction. Its incredibly ironic for people who claim they have the Gospel in its full entirety – to the point I would suggest – that they feel they don’t have to grow any further. After all when you finally have arrived at “sound doctrine” what else is there to do? Not only that but CLC claims to have “sound doctrine” and they can’t even repent of all the allegations of child sex abuse.

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