This post looks at the 9 Marks network and asks as to why 9 Marks is silent on the Rachael Denhollander claims about the child sex abuse cover up inside C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace. Where do people like Nick Roark of Franconia Baptist or Mike McKinley of Sterling Park Baptist fall on this issue?
“Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency.”
“Corruption is just another form of tyranny.”
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
Nick Roark’s Franconia Baptist Church
Nick Roark, Jonathan Leeman and Mark Dever
As T4G is now over there is a pressing issue that needs to be raised. Communication happens in two ways, when people choose to address an issue and then when they choose to remain silent. Actually silence can speak volumes in many ways. As the Sovereign Grace scandal continues to drag out and as Rachel Denhollender raised her voice on the matter there is a question that hangs around in the back of my mind. Where is 9 Marks in this mess? And why haven’t they responded to what Rachel is claiming? Before I get into this issue I selected two 9 Marks churches in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to write about and ask this question. I want to pose this question about Rachel Denhollender to the staff of Nick Roark’s Franconia Baptist and Mike McMinley’s Sterling Park Baptist. Both churches are being emailed and any statement about Rachael Denhollender will be published. I have written about Sterling Park Baptist before in, “Does the Washington, D.C. Area Need Another 9 Marks Church? Deep Concerns about Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma Sponsoring Matt Felton and David Chung’s Trinity Church of Loudoun County.”
Nick Roark’s Franconia Baptist Church
Franconia Baptist Church can be found in Franconia, Virginia, which is near Springfield. Franconia Baptist origins are in Beulah Baptist Church on Beulah Road in Alexandria, Virginia. The church began on November 10, 1870 and Rev. B.P Dulin was one of its first pastors when he came on staff on February 2, 1873. Beulah Baptist eventually moved after acquiring land on the corner of S. Van Dorn St and Franconia Road in 1957. In 1966 Luther Rice College, was chartered and located at Franconia Baptist. Nick Roark became the pastor of Franconia Baptist in 2015. Let’s look at some biographical information on Nick Roark.
Nick was born in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Falls Church, Virginia. He then grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee. Nick moved to Raleigh, North Carolina where he worked for IBM Global Services for six years. He then got involved in David Horner’s Providence Baptist and joined the staff in 2006 as the Pastor of College and Equipping. Nick was on staff at Providence when they had a sexual abuse scandal with Brian “Doug” Goodrich. He was sentenced in 2007 to 13 years in prison. Nick picked up a degree at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and was an intern at Capitol Hill Baptist in the spring of 2012. He went on staff for three years and was there until he became the senior pastor at Franconia Baptist. According to my research Nick has not published anything at For the Church or Desiring God. At Crossway Nick has published, “Why the Local Church Needs Good Biblical Theology” and “4 Reasons Why We Need Biblical Theology.” At 9 Marks Nick has published several articles or reviews to include, “Biblical Theology Will Help You See Jesus in All the Scriptures” ,”Three Pastoral Reminders From Three Dead Guys,” and “Book Review: The Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes.” Nick Roark publishes an active blog at Tolle Lege and it looks like he publishes two to three posts a week. Nick also recently published through Crossway, “Biblical Theology: How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel.” This book is part of the 9 Marks series and was writtne with Robert Cline. On the Crossway website here it how Biblical Theology is described.”
Every week, many churches around the world read the Bible but miss the main point—and end up teaching false gospels week in and week out. One of the most important safeguards against this danger is an understanding of biblical theology: reading the Bible in light of its main message, culminating in Jesus Christ.
Starting with a framework for understanding the storyline of the Bible and then explaining basic principles for prioritizing the teaching of this message, this book aims to help churches guard the truth of the gospel.
The last point to be made is that Nick is married to his wife Allison and they have three children.
Mike McKinley’s Sterling Park Baptist
Sterling Park Baptist can be found in Sterling, Virginia. You can reach Sterling from Leesburg Pike which runs from Tysons Corner to Leesburg, Virginia. In researching Sterling Park Baptist there is not much information on this church. Here is some history as to how Sterling Park came to be. Sterling Park Baptist merged in 2013 with Guilford Baptist Church. Guilford Baptist was founded in 1857 as Lebanon Grove Baptist Church. It later changed its name to reflect its community. In 2005 when membership was dwindling Capitol Hill Baptist Church sent a team of people led by Mike McKinley and the church was allegedly replanted. Sterling Park is a 9 Marks church. Here is how it describes itself on 9 Marks. “At SPBC, we’re about three things: God, Community, and Mission. God comes first because in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we find salvation, acceptance, and new life. Community comes next because God’s love for us in Christ makes us a new people. Being reconciled to God makes us reconciled to each other. Mission comes next because God’s love drives his people out as messengers of his grace and mercy. We invite you to visit with us and participate in the work that God is doing in us and through us.”
Mike McKinley comes from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. He received a B.A. in Religion and Classics from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and then a Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Mike went on staff at Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church as a church planter in 2004. In 2005 he came to Guilford Baptist and brought a group of people with him. An English translation of that is the following, the virus had to infect the host which took place. Then the virus had to infect another host, which would be Sterling Park Baptist. Sometimes I feel that in order to understand Neo-Calvinism I should have gone to medical school and studied infectious disease and immunology. By learning how infectious diseases spread, one could get a better grasp on how Neo-Calvinism works.
Mike is married to his wife Karen, and they have five children. Mike is also an accomplished author which in the Reformed Industrial Complex is substantial. The books Mike published include the following titles, “Am I Really a Christian“,”Church Planting is For Wimps“,”Luke 1 – 12 For You“,”90 Days in Ruth, Jeremiah, and 1 Corinthians“ (with Mark Dever), “Luke 12 -24 For You“,”Church in Hard Places“,”Did The Devil Make Me Do It.” , “The Resurrection in Your Life“, and “Passion.” Mike McKinley has also authored 35 articles for 9 Marks. Mike McKinley also comes up 84 times in The Gospel Coalition website, and that includes a number of things from interviews, to articles to book reviews.
Rachael Denhollander Gets C.J. Mahaney to Withdraw from T4G 2018
In order to understand the overall history of C.J. Mahaney withdrawing from T4G I would encourage you to read the following article, “The Run Away Pastor: The Embattled C.J. Mahaney Withdraws from T4G a Second Time.” C.J. Mahaney withdrawal from T4G centered around a chain of events. Rachael Denhollander was sexually abused by Larry Nassar who was the sports medicine doctor at Michigan State University. She became the first out of 160 females to report the sexual abuse. When Larry Nassar was in an Ingham County Circuit Court, Rachael was the last one to read her statement. Her bravery stunned the nation. Rachael also contacted the Indianapolis Star when it was investigating gymnastic sexual abuse. After that situation she gave an interview to Christianity Today. Rachael spoke about the challenges of sharing abuse in an evangelical setting. She went on and spoke about what it costed her. Friends, her church and more when she challenged the status quo. The issue that Rachael had to deal with is the Sovereign Grace Ministry scandal with C.J. Mahaney. She went on about how Christians enable, how they stay silent and how they are told to stop gossiping and more. Evangelical Christians can not see the evil in their own communities. You can read that Christianity Today interview in, “My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.”
Sovereign Grace Churches issued a response to that Christianity Today interview on February 2, 2018. Mark Prater published a blog post at Sovereign Grace that disputed the allegations that Rachael made. Sovereign Grace also accused Rachael of making a false accusation. You can read the statement right here. Rachael responded by answering the claim and laid out the facts of what happened. She did this on her Facebook page on February 5, 2018. Sovereign Grace then responded in kind on February 13, 2018. In Sovereign Grace’s response again reiterated the false accusation and said it was irresponsible to compare the situation with SGM to what happened at Michigan State. This is how Sovereign Grace worded it.
The comparisons drawn between SGC and horrific, widespread episodes of abuse—about which the facts are already publicly established – are irresponsible. The pastors and leaders of SGC are believers in Jesus Christ, and our churches are led by pastors who fear God with the sobering reality that we will give an account for our ministry (Hebrews 13:17). We are also unceasingly aware that our faith is rooted in the absolute truths of God’s Word. To allChristians, truth matters, and zeal without knowledge leads to error and strife.
Sovereign Grace also disputes the idea that Boz Tchvidjian can do a fair and unbiased investigation. Then the organization pushed back on the allegations of abuse being widespread, covered up and that pastors were involved i the process. The statement also defended C.J. Mahaney against the claims that he protected abusers or created a culture that perpetuated them. You can read the entire statement here. Rachael responded to Sovereign Grace again on Facebook on March 1, 2018. You can read that rebuttal right here. Mahaney responded by withdrawing from T4G on March 7, 2018. In the statement which you can read below he still asked people to buy as many books as one can with your “Gospel Centered” credit card. You can read the statement on the T4G website here. Plus I also snagged it and posted it below.
Given the recent, renewed controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Churches and me individually, I have decided to withdraw from the 2018 T4G conference.
This conference exists to serve pastors with the gospel and exalt the Lord Jesus. I want to do all I can to promote that purpose. Mark, Lig, Al and the other speakers should also be able to devote themselves to that purpose without the distraction of having to defend me or answer questions about Sovereign Grace Churches. They should be preparing their sermons, caring for their families, and serving their unique and strategic ministries.
I am responsible, where necessary and appropriate, to defend myself and Sovereign Grace, and this I continue to do as I have for the last several years. Sovereign Grace churches are led by godly men and filled with good and godly people who love Christ and his gospel. So that there is no lack of clarity on this: I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me personally, and the recent, public characterizations of Sovereign Grace as a whole are absolutely false. I categorically reject the suggestion that I have ever conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing. No one should interpret my withdrawal as an acknowledgment of guilt. I withdraw out of care for my friends and for the sake of this conference and the cause of Christ.
I do not want this wonderful conference to become a context where questions about me or Sovereign Grace distract from the exaltation of Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). I desire the run up to this conference to be filled with nothing but joyful anticipation. I want the experience of the conference to be the deep edification of pastors through preaching, singing, praying, conversation, laughter, food, and buying as many books as one’s credit card allows, all for the glory of God.
T4G is sold out. In 2006, when we held our first conference, we met in a cramped hotel ballroom. Mark, Lig, Al and I did not imagine the conference ever reaching the Yum! Center – much less filling it. It is amazing and humbling. When the four of us are together, we fumble for the right words to describe all that has unexpectedly taken place in and through T4G. I think the psalmist best captures it when he writes, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Ps. 118:23). I’m praying this T4G will be the best gathering in the history of this blessed conference.
In response to Mahaney withdrawing Rachael Denhollander then issued a statement.
I am deeply grieved today to see CJ Mahaney’s statement regarding his stepping down this year from T4G. I am grieved for two reasons:
- It is unnecessary if, in fact, there are answers to every credible allegation that has been raised of falling to properly handle and report sexual and domestic violence. If all these allegations and each concern raised regarding the credibility of the investigation into CJ’s former church, Covenant Life Church are false, then this should have been and still should be, made known through an independent investigation.
- If, in fact those allegations are true and SGM has a significant and damaging problem regarding how they have handled sexual and domestic violence in their churches, then temporarily stepping down from a conference does not solve the problem. It seeks to avoid it.
Brothers and sisters, I have not asked for anyone to sit as “judge and jury”. In fact, I have specifically said we should not do this. What I have said, and plead for again, is that we treat these concerns as the serious concerns they are, and require of ourselves what we require of every other secular institution. That the truth be sought, and accountability be pursued, through an independent investigation into SGM’s handling of sexual and domestic violence allegations.
As Christians who speak to the necessity of accountability, transparency and the pursuit of truth and right, should we not be the first to submit ourselves to the same processes we call for secular institutions to follow? And if the sexual assault of children is not important enough to motivate us to pursue these Biblical aims, what will be? If these allegations are found to be false, will we not all rejoice in the finding of the truth? If they are found to be true, should we not then weep and grieve of the damage, minister to the wounded, and see to deal rightly in the future? In either resolution, the truth is found, and this is what we should seek, for the good of all involved.
Why is 9 Marks Silent on Rachael Denhollander’s Statement on C.J. Mahaney and the Alleged Child Sex Abuse Cover-up at Sovereign Grace?
I very much would like to know why 9 Marks has been silent on the Rachael Denhollander situation in regards to C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace. Their silence is screaming volumes. After all in his history Nick Roark has promoted Mahaney’s work. All one has to do is spend a few minutes on his blog and see the posts about Mahaney. For example there is ““Are you a thankful person?” by C.J. Mahaney“,”“Only one thing” by C.J. Mahaney“,“Legalism” by C. J. Mahaney“,”“Attend to it consistently” by C. J. Mahaney“,“Do you feel more like a mother or a wife?” by C. J. Mahaney” and ““That greater reality” by C. J. Mahaney.” 9 Marks as an organization seldom holds back what they think. They offer their thoughts on so many aspects of church and speak to fads in Christian ministry. Just take a few minutes and watch that video by Mark Dever, Jonathan Leeman and Nick Roark up above. Rachel Denhollander through her questioning resulted in C.J. Mahaney withdrawing from T4G. Many parts of the Neo-Calvinist movement as I interpret it have been silent on this issue. My question is why? Is the relationship between Mark Dever and C.J. Mahaney so sacrosanct that all questions are off limits? What is the nature of Mark Dever’s relationship with C.J. Mahaney? Does it require people like Nick Roark, Mike McKninley or Mike Law Jr (Arlington Baptist) and Nathan Knight (Restoration Church) to fall in line, no questions asked? In being in 9 Marks does it mean that tribalism comes first and that you pucker up and do some serious ass-kissing when it comes to Mark Dever? This issue with Sovereign Grace is not going away and its also tainting all other 9 Marks churches due to how the organization functions and is influenced by Mark Dever. Jonathan Leeman is the editor of the organization but Mark Dever is the one who influences the movement. For 9 Marks to speak on so many aspects of faith and what a healthy church is while being silent on this issue is telling. It shows how corrupt the organization is in the end. That is it for the day guys.