From Strange Bedfellows to Strange Fire: What is the Relationship Between John MacArthur and C.J. Mahaney?

This is an examination of the relationship between John MacArthur and C.J. Mahaney. This looks at all the times Mahaney preached at Resolved. Plus there is a question that must be asked..did John MacArthur or Grace to You receive large financial gifts from C.J. Mahaney or Sovereign Grace? It is well within reason to ask that given how Mahaney gave money to other individuals or organizations allegedly to influence. This also looks at how MacArthur treated Mark Driscoll vs. C.J. Mahaney. 

“Evil influence is like a nicotine patch, you cannot help but absorb what sticks to you.”

E.A. Bucchianeri

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.

Proverbs 13:20 NLT

John MacArthur and C.J. Mahaney on the floor of T4G in 2014. 

John MacArthur at T4G 2016 

John MacArthur in Strange Fire in the fall of 2013. 

There is some ground and history I need to cover so let me dive into a biography of John MacArthur first and then proceed onward. 


Who is John MacArthur? 

John MacArthur was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1939. He is the fifth cousin of famed and controversial U.S. General Douglas MacArthur. John MacArthur attended Bob Jones University and then transferred to Los Angeles Pacific College (today Azusa Pacific University). He earned his Masters of Divinity from Biola University’s Talbot Theological Seminary in La Mirada, California. From 1964 until 1966 he served as the associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, California. From 1966 until 1969 he was the faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary. In 1969 he became the pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California which is where he has been ever since. 

For many evangelicals he is one of the more influential theologians. His radio program is called Grace to You and is broadcast throughout much of the world. It actually began as a ministry of sending tapes of his sermons to listeners. The first place Grace to You was broadcast is Baltimore, Maryland in 1977. In 1985 he became the president of The Masters University (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College) which is a four year college. Then, in 1986 he founded The Masters Seminary. John MacArthur has received an honorary doctorate from both Talbot Theological Seminary and  Grace Graduate School. To list all the works of John MacArthur would be too hard to do, as there is just too much. His first book was published in 1974 and called “The Church:The Body of Christ” and his last book was published in 2013 and called “Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship.” To see a complete list of John MacArthur’s books you can go to this wikipedia page here. It should also be noted that John MacArthur took on Mark Driscoll I believe when Mark Driscoll taught that Queen Esther is a slut. Plus he is a strong believer in Jay Adams nouthetic counseling. It is important to note that John MacArthur’s church discouraged a suicidal man from seeing a psychiatrist in 1979 and that the young man took his own life. This belief, is one of the many reasons why I believe John MacArthur’s ministry is dangerous. In the future sometime I want to do a detailed post about the history of the situation. You can read a brief description of the situation in “Examining The Bridge Bible Fellowship in Reseda, California and their Biblical Based Counseling Program.” 


The History of C.J. Mahaney and John MacArthur 

I have done some research on Amazon and none of the books that C.J. Mahaney has written or co-written has been done in conjunction with John MacArthur. However, when you go to the Grace Community Church website one finds that the relationship between C.J. Mahaney and John MacArthur goes back a few years. Most of the preaching Mahaney did is at the Resolved conference. The first time C.J. Mahaney preached was at “Resolved” on February 19, 2005. The sermon Mahaney gave is called “Interrogating the Legalist Within.” Then he gave two more talks called “Pay Attention to What You Hear” and “Why Gethsemane?”  Then in August of 2005 Mahaney spoke at Crossroads which is the college and career ministry of Grace Community Church. At Crossroads Mahaney preached “The Happiest Place on Earth.” 

At Resolved in 2006 Mahaney preached “Extravagant Devotion“,”Sovereign Grace” and “True Greatness.”  In the next Resolved conference at 2007 Mahaney preached “The Suffering Servant” and “Deflating a Puffed Up Church.” At the Shepherds conference in 2007 Mahaney preached in the third session. Then at the 2008 Resolved Mahaney preached “God as Father: Understanding the Doctrine of Adoption” and “The Cry From the Cross.” The following year at the next Resolved “The Troubled Soul” and “Who’s Really at Work.” In 2010 Mahaney preached “I Wish I’d Been There” and “Called to Contend for Christ.” The next year C.J. preached “Called, Loved, Kept” and “When Someone Doubts.” Then in 2012 Mahaney spoke at the final Resolved conference. The last two talks Mahaney gave are “Church and Disappointment – When Expectations Collide with Reality” and “The Death of Christ.” The scandal with Sovereign Grace and C.J. Mahaney occurred in 2011. Now I did a quick search but it appears as if John MacArthur never spoke at Covenant Life Church. I also did a quick search of the sermon archive at Sovereign Grace Louisville and John MacArthur did not speak there. Mahaney sat on the floor next to everyone else in 2014, I have that picture at the top of this post. However when C.J. Mahaney came back to preach at T4G in 2016 he shared the platform with John MacArthur.  From 2005 until 2012 there was a lot of money to be made in book sales, conference fees, speaking fees I imagine and more. I believe that MacArthur most likely benefited from having C.J. preach and C.J. most likely benefited from being involved. He had recognition, a platform and an ability to financially grow from what he was doing. You have to remember in these situations you always need to follow the money. 


Did C.J. Mahaney Give Money to John MacArthur or Grace to You? Plus Examining how Mark Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney were Treated by Mac Arthur 

In Sovereign Grace people were expected to give sacrificially. Tithing and giving were hammered and I believe people even faced “church discipline” for not giving, or giving as much as they should. Yet what happened with the money in Sovereign Grace?  Did it stay within Sovereign Grace or was it used externally? Was money used for other reasons?  While there are families who were eating oatmeal for dinner in the wealthiest counties of the United States what was happening with that money that was sacrificially given? Well there were those Mahaney family vacations to Disneyworld. Yes some thought you were building up the Kingdom of the Lord, but in reality you were building up the Magic Kingdom instead. So in some ways you helped drive the Florida economy by giving. Florida thanks you! But what else happened? Where else did the money go?

Dee Parsons and her writing partner Deb Martin have documented how much money Al Mohler received at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Al Mohler received at least $200,000 from C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace. If the SGM Pastors College is so exceptional (even if it is unaccredited) why give the money to Al Mohler and Southern Seminary? If you want to read the post Deb wrote about Mahaney and Al Mohler you can read that here. So the money that people were giving to Sovereign Grace was used outside it. My one question is this…is $200,000 all Al Mohler received? Or did he receive more money? In the end how much money did Al Mohler receive? $300,000? Or even $400,000? I am just curious and wondering out loud.

In addition to Al Mohler who can be documented who else took money from C.J. Mahaney? What about Wayne Grudem? On SGM Survivors on July 2013 the following comment was made about how C.J. Mahaney received SGM funds.

So C.J. Mahaney also gave money to Wayne Grudem. Grudem acknowledged it and you can read about it here.  In the end how much money did C.J. Mahaney give to Wayne Grudem? In case you can’t follow me there is a pattern that started with Al Mohler and the money he received. Does that also explain that infamous statement that Al Mohler made on behalf of C.J. Mahaney? Did Al Mohler feel an obligation to protect C.J.? After all C.J. was his business partner. But who else received money from C.J. Mahaney? Who else or what other institutions received money. We have to follow the money trail people. 

What about Mark Dever and Capital Hill Baptist Church?  Can we follow the money to CHBC? I am thinking out loud and asking this question. Remember this video where Mark Dever talks about how generous C.J. Mahaney has been to Capitol Hill Baptist Church? We do have some proof that Capitol Hill Baptist took money from Sovereign Grace. You can read about that here.  But did C.J. Mahaney personally give money to Mark Dever? Was the Senior Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist purchased? These are just questions I have. Given the amount of money that C.J. Mahaney gave to Al Mohler it is well within reason to ask if C.J. also gave money to Mark Dever. If C.J. Mahaney gave money to Mark Dever, that leads to the next much? How much money did C.J. Mahaney give to Mark Dever? $40,000, $45,000, $50,000 or even $100,000? I’m just asking this question out loud here…did C.J. Mahaney give money and buy the Senior Pastor at Capital Hill Baptist Church?

I ask all the for a reason and I write all that above to ask the following question. One has to follow the money. If Al Mohler took money from C.J. Mahaney/Sovereign Grace, and if Wayne Grudem and Mark Dever/Capitol Hill Baptist took money from C.J. Mahaney/Sovereign Grace it is well within reason to ask he following question. Did John MacArthur or Grace Community Church or Grace to You receive any cash gifts from C.J. Mahaney or Sovereign Grace Ministries? Did C.J. Mahaney buy his way into the Resolved conference? But stop and consider John MacArthur’s behavior during this time as well. MacArthur went after Mark Driscoll. After all John MacArthur said that evangelical support for Mark Driscoll helped bring around strong evangelical support for Donald Trump. You can read what MacArthur said in the blog ChurchLeaders. Plus if I remember correctly John MacArthur called out Mark Driscoll when Driscoll called Queen Esther a slut. In addition there is this article from Grace to You calling Mark Driscoll “Grunge Christianity.” 

But consider the following. In 2013 John MacArthur led Strange Fire which attacked and went after charismatics. Strange Fire became a strong and stinging rebuke of charismaticism in all its forms. Mac Arthur from what I read talked about how charismatics have brought forth chaos and dishonored God in what they say and do. Tim Challies wrote about it as has John Piper if you are interested. And of course there was Mark Driscoll trying to crash the party. But consider the following….look at how John MacArthur has treated Mark Driscoll vs. C.J. Mahaney. MacArthur has spoken his mind about Mark Driscoll. But has he chastised or criticized C.J. Mahaney? To the very best of my knowledge John MacArthur has not. I mean consider John MacArthur made a big splash about charismatic theology, and talked about how it dishonored God and created chaos, and then for years he lets the man best known for charismatic Neo-Calvinism speak at Resolved. You have to remember C.J. Mahaney once referred to himself as an apostle if I remember correctly. But Mahaney was welcomed and allowed to teach and preach at John MacArthur’s events. Strange Fire happened in the fall of 2013, and yet MacArthur had no problem sitting near to C.J. Mahaney at T4G in 2014. What if Mark Driscoll was involved in T4G? Would John MacArthur have pulled out? Then John MacArthur participated in T4G in 2016 with C.J. Mahaney. So why the differing behavior? Did C.J. Mahaney give funds to John MacArthur and Grace to You and earn John MacArthur’s favor? This is a question that is well within reason to ask especially if you look at how Mahaney used money to throw around at key players in the Neo-Calvinist movement. I welcome any comment or perspectives from any former members of Soverieng Grace or those more in the know. I am just doing some analysis in this blog post for today. Again guys, please know I love you! 

4 thoughts on “From Strange Bedfellows to Strange Fire: What is the Relationship Between John MacArthur and C.J. Mahaney?

  1. Pingback: A Look at Grace Church of the Valley in Kingsburg, California; Plus Does the Central Valley Need The Masters Seminary? | Wondering Eagle

  2. For the longest time I actually thought Neo-Calvinists are for Charismatic. At the very least they were neutral to it. I wonder what changed. There must be so kind of marketing reason. Or they are trying to “steal” members away from Charismatic churches to join neo-Cal churches.


  3. Pingback: Cool Community Church on What a “Healthy Member” is in a Neo-Calvinist Church; However Drew Buell Forgot One Aspect as “Sound Doctrine” Means Teaching an Individual Why Rape and Sexual Assault is a Problem in the Military | Wonderi

  4. Pingback: Cool Community Church on What a “Healthy Member” is in a Neo-Calvinist Church; However Drew Buell Forgot One Aspect as “Sound Doctrine” Means Teaching an Individual Why Rape and Sexual Assault is a Problem in the Military | Wonderi

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