The EFCA’s pre-conference appears to take a strong stand on abuse issues. And yet in the EFCA Theology Conference D.A. Carson is teaching. Carson once lashed out at a rape victim from Sovereign Grace to defend C.H. Mahaney. This blog would like to ask if Greg Strand takes abuse seriously? Is it possible for the EFCA to follow what Jesus said about admitting mistakes and stop worshiping him and make things right? That is the question today’s post deals with.
O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 97:10 ESV
Greg Strand of the EFCA
At first glance it looks promising. A pre-conference that deals with spiritual abuse. A program by Mike Sloan of GRACE that is well balanced. And then you have Greg Strand who is the Executive Director of the EFCA’s Theology and Credentialing program pushing people to attend and to take spiritual abuse seriously. Greg emphasizes that one abuse victim is too many. At the EFCA blog Greg wrote, “The numbers of abuse victims are staggering. One is too many. Abuse betrays the gospel we affirm and proclaim. Abuse dishonors the Lord we love. Abuse destroys the well-being and dignity of the innocent victim.” And yet the reality is that the EFCA has tolerated the abuse and mistreatment of a child. The EFCA has trampled, kicked and ignored someone who was abused. It happened inside Sovereign Grace Ministries and it was D.A. Carson by his own free will who decided to attack and tear into someone who was raped when they were 13.
Brief Overview of C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries
Sovereign Grace Ministries at one point was headquartered out of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Sovereign Grace at once was a theological giant. At its peak it had churches in 26 states in the United States and partnerships and churches in 21 countries. Wayne Grudem who is held in high esteem by many in the Neo-Calvinists once claimed that Sovereign Grace is the model of how church should be done. Then through a blog called SGM Survivors deeply troubling stories of sexual abuse started to leak out. Drip…drip…drip…. One at a time deeply concerning stories of sexual abuse and allegations of intentional mishandling of it was shocking. Some of the stories included the following. There was the story of Wallice and Happymom and their two children who were sexually abused and efforts by their church not to deal with it properly. When questioned they were told they were “sinfully craving answers.” You had the story of Noel and Grizzley of a teenager sexually abusing a three year old. Sovereign Grace then tried to convince the parents to forgive the sexual abuser and drop charges. The church was more concerned with its image then doing the right thing. When Sovereign Grace tried to get the family to not pursue charges in the judicial system the mother asked, “What is wrong with these people?” Then at another Sovereign Grace church you had the story of Taylor. In that case her husband was allegedly sexually abusing his ten year old daughter. The church coached the mother and the pedophile’s wife that she helped bring the abuse about because she did not have enough sex with her husband. On the churches orders she forced herself to have sex often to the point of being sick. While this was going on the Sovereign Grace leadership instructed the ten year old to bolt the door to her bedroom from the inside for her safety. But this is how Sovereign Grace functioned. If you would like to read more you can do so in the Washingtonian magazine article called, “The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch.”
Another Sovereign Grace Rape Story and D.A. Carson Lashes Out at a Rape Victim to Defend C.J. Mahaney
On February 4, 2013 a person called “Anon” wrote about how she was raped when she was 13 at a Super Bowl party at a Sovereign Grace event, and how that rape affected her. She wrote about how she wanted to see the organization be held accountable. Here is the comment that “Anon” left at SGM Survivors.
I’m just going to share a little story and some minor commentary at the end.
One Superbowl Sunday, I was at a prominent SGM (then PDI) member’s house . There were dozens of others in attendance, lots of teens and younger adults. Remote controlling and commercial censoring were in full effect, snacks in abundance, and everything was so biblical…as biblical as recently invented sports events centered around electronic devices can be. During a commercial break I was sexually assaulted against an exterior wall of that house.
I was thirteen
Not a single one of those appointed to watch over anything, much less my soul, noticed a thing when I and the perpetrator went back inside the house. I doubt it would have mattered anyway. My family was in the outer circle, despite decades of $$$ and attendance. I started “rebelling” thereafter and refused to attend any church functions, and my parents surprisingly didn’t seem to mind (despite them not knowing the reasons for my rebellion). They severed ties with PDI/SGM 2 years later.
Why bring this up? I think it’s telling that despite the micromanagement of ‘biblical living,’ horrible things have not only slipped under the radar of those ‘caring for our souls’ (barf) but have been actively hidden, squashed, silenced. The pending lawsuit is long-deserved. I hope it ruins the entire organization financially and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally, and physically.
You can read the original comment and the post plus people’s reactions to the story of a 13 year old being raped.
A lawsuit commenced against SGM on October 17, 2012 by several former members alleging the cover up of child sexual abuse, forcing young toddlers to forgive their molester, and giving free legal advice to the sexual abusers themselves and helping them flee from the law. This lawsuit would grow and expand again on January 14, 2013, with deeply disturbing revelations about additional child sex abuse and domestic abuse. Included in these revelations was a claim that an adult woman was physically spanked by a then SGM pastor. This lawsuit was spearheaded by Susan Burke, an attorney who cut her teeth on military rape cases. This lawsuit would also grow to be the biggest evangelical sex scandal at the time. Even with the lawsuit against the ministry Bill Gothard established, Basic Life Principles, I don’t think anything has surpassed it.
On May 17, 2013 most of the lawsuit against SGM was thrown out on a technicality. The problem was the statute to limitations had expired. It didn’t mean the sexual abuse claims never happened, it meant that the legal avenue had run its course. In SGM culture members were discouraged from reporting child sex abuse to the local law authorities, so many of the law authorities were unaware of the abuse having occurred. Then in an act of brazen corruption which made one wonder why the Protestant Reformation even occurred on May 24, both T4G and The Gospel Coalition “The Neo Calvinists Rome” released a statement in support of CJ Mahaney. In this post I will just focus on The Gospel Coalition’s statement as I am writing about the Evangelical Free Church of America.
D.A. Carson is a prominent professor at the Evangelical Free’s flagship seminary Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Carson has been on staff at Trinity since 1978 and he is a Research Professor in New Testament. He is one of the darlings of the Neo-Calvinist movement so should we honestly be surprised to see corruption out of him? What happened next was unbelievable. On May 24, 2013 Carson as a 67 year old man lashed out and attacked someone who was raped when they were 13. Why did he do this? All to defend his
friend whoops I meant business partner C.J. Mahaney.
In a statement by D.A. Carson, Justin Taylor, and Kevin DeYoung that was called “Why We Have Been Silent About the SGM Lawsuit” the TGC stated the following, and in the process verbally attacked and went after a SGM rape victim in the process:
Reports on the lawsuit from Christianity Today and World Magazine (among others) explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to C. J., connecting the suit to recent changes within SGM. He has also been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some. One of the so-called discernment blogs—often trafficking more in speculation and gossip than edifying discernment—reprinted a comment from a woman who issued this ominous wish, “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.”
We are not ashamed to call C. J. a friend. Our relationship with C. J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction. He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted. While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend. We are grateful for C. J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades.
And with that Carson went after someone who told their story at SGM Survivors.
Greg Strand if you are Going to be Serious About Spiritual Abuse Let’s Act Like it
Its profoundly disappointing. D.A. Carson attacked that rape victim in 2013. Seven years have passed and nothing has happened. No admittance of error. No apology or stating he is wrong. In those seven years the EFCA has had plenty of conferences. Carson has come and spoke at several. Greg Strand has worked on conferences and still has Carson involved. Over and over the EFCA has been indifferent and revealed that it does not know how to deal with this situation. How hard is it for the EFCA to say that Carson’s behavior is wrong? Does Carson not know what Jesus taught? Does Greg Strand know his Bible? Why is it impossible for the EFCA to take a step back and issue a statement in humility saying that Carson is wrong for how he acted? In this situation it can be said that the EFCA is acting more like Willow Creek or Harvest Bible Chapel then following the God they claim to proclaim and teach. If Carson is the theologically and Biblicaly centered person who knows theology, then God help us all if he can not say he is wrong. If nearly 40 years at teaching at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and publishing nearly 60 books is all he can do, then Carson’s ministry and teaching is wasted. At this point as this situation drags on and as Greg Strand continues to plan and do EFCA conferences the following question must be asked, is Greg Strand an accessory to Carson’s behavior? If this is how Greg is to act and if Greg can’t take the right course of action in this situation I am left asking the question why is Strand heading up the theology and credentialing division of the EFCA? Greg Strand said at the EFCA blog recently that one abuse victim is too many. Well that must be a lie, because in this situation Greg Strand appears to be content with one victim being attacked. As long as he can have his EFCA Theology Conferences and more then all is fine. Greg Strand and the EFCA is acting like the high priest in the story of the Good Samaritan who are focused with getting to the temple but who leave the wounded person on the side of the road. And with that this blog will remain unconvinced by the efforts of the EFCA to talk about spiritual abuse. When actions are more important than words then I will pay attention. This blog is going to write tomorrow about the scourge that is tribalism in our society and the EFCA duplicating that problem.