Calvinism in the SBC: New Motto Stand By My Man

Earlier today I was asked if I was aware of the legal issues surrounding CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries and Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Danny Aiken and other’s continued support of Mahaney. I said I was familiar with what was going on. I began an article and then decided to delete it until I came across the following tweet from Al Mohler, late this afternoon: “‏@albertmohler 34m Here is the statement from @LigonDuncan and @MarkDever and me for Together for the Gospel. @T4GOnline Click Here. “ I had of course already seen this statement earlier today.

The first article I found was interesting. Titled: “Mohler, Dever, Duncan, Carson, Taylor, DeYoung, Aiken Support of C.J. Mahaney” written by Joel Taylor. Taylor compared the stand that these men have taken to Tammy Wynette’s hit song, “Stand By Your Man.” His comments can be seen by clicking here.

What was initially very interesting was the fact that the reference Taylor made to Mohler and Dever’s statement was removed from the facebook page of Together For the Gospel. It was apparently moved from their facebook page to their web site.

I want to speak to a couple comments in the joint statement. First of all, the statement recognizes a Maryland courts dismissal of a civil suit against Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Note the following statement,

“Often, such claims are even beyond the ability of a court to deliberate. To comment on such claims is irresponsible, since no one apart from the court and the parties directly involved has any ability to evaluate the claims presented. If the filing of civil litigation against a Christian ministry or leader is in itself reason for separation and a rush to judgment, no ministry or minister is safe from destruction at any time. Furthermore, the effort to try such a case in the court of public opinion prior to any decision rendered by an authorized court is likewise irresponsible.”

It is true that no one is exempt from civil filings and is no reason for anyone to rush to judgment. For that matter, no one is exempt from legal filings either, for the most part. So perhaps Mohler and company are justified. The joint statement acknowledges the men’s ongoing appreciate for and support of Mahaney. Fine. The joint statement goes on to say, “Our hearts must go out to anyone, and especially to any child, who suffers abuse at the hand of anyone. In such a case the legal authorities must use the full power of the law to investigate and to prosecute any perpetrator of such crimes.”

Here is a statement I have a serious problem with.

“If a Christian leader is accused of any wrongdoing, those to whom he is accountable must investigate the charges and then deal responsibly with the evidence. If a criminal accusation is made, Christians have a fundamental duty to inform law enforcement officials. This does not, however, preclude or mitigate the church’s responsibility for biblical church discipline.

A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.”

In a letter sent to 77 national religious leaders, many of whom are Southern Baptist, Brent Detwiler one of four original founders of Sovereign Grace Ministries sent an appeal detailing specifics asking these leaders to refrain using Mahaney until the mess he was embroiled in could be resolved.

Listen to the words of Detwiler,

“Gentlemen, I’ve worked with C.J. since I graduated from seminary in 1979. I wrote the Statement of Faith, founded the Pastors College, oversaw 23 churches in the southeastern United States, directed our outreaches in Asia and the Caribbean, served on the Board of Directors for 25 years, and was one of four men who started Sovereign Grace Ministries in 1982. I say none of this to impress you, only to establish some credibility with you.

In 2007, I stepped down from the Board of Directors largely due to my loss of trust in C.J. In 2009, I left SGM because of the pride, deceit, hypocrisy, and heavy handedness that characterized the leadership culture. It became unconscionable. I could not stay.

I am not a lone wolf in my assessment. Over the last seven months, the majority of C.J.’s closest friends and colleagues have severed ties with Sovereign Grace Ministries for the same reasons. The entire ministry is convulsing and the problems are only worsening. More and more pastors and churches will be leaving in the coming months.

None of this pleases me. It breaks my heart. I was C.J.’s closest friend and co-worker in Sovereign Grace Ministries for over two decades. No one loved, served, honored or encouraged him more. There were many ways in which I benefitted from C.J.’s friendship and ministry. I remain grateful for him. I was also the individual most responsible for the care of his soul.

I conclude with these thoughts for your consideration. It is understandable that C.J. has become a celebrity in the Reformed world given his wit and wisdom. But these are not the things that qualify a man for ministry. Sovereign Grace Ministries now faces a situation where its President (C.J.), Chairman of Board (John Loftness) and Pastor over the Pastors College (Gary Ricucci) are at the center of a class action lawsuit that alleges atrocities of the worse kind were covered up for reputational and financial concerns. Furthermore, Dave Harvey, who was Director of Church Planting and Church Care, was recently asked to step down from all his SGM responsibilities by his local pastors.

Given all these developments, C.J. should not be a Council Member on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood or The Gospel Coalition. Nor should he be speaking in seminaries or at conferences around the nation and world. Those that know him best, know he is in need of private repentance and public confession.”

Of the 77 national leaders who received this letter, note the following names: Danny Aiken, Al Mohler, Paige Patterson , Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Matt Chandler, Russell Moore, David Platt, Thomas R. Schreiner, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung and Ed Stetzer. Detwiler’s article can be read in its entirety by clicking here. You can read his follow-up letter in April by
clicking here.

Here is the statement that I am wondering about. “A Christian leader, charged with any credible, serious, and direct wrongdoing, would usually be well advised to step down from public ministry. No such accusation of direct wrongdoing was ever made against C. J. Mahaney. Instead, he was charged with founding a ministry and for teaching doctrines and principles that are held to be true by vast millions of American evangelicals.”

A couple of things are crystal clear. Drs. Mohler, Dever and Ligon admit that they were aware of the civil charges that were dismissed not because of a lack of evidence but because of a technicality dealing with a statute of limitations. They received or should have received Brent Detwiler’s detailed statements that were by the way followed up on in April and they are unquestionably aware of the continued criminal investigations that are currently ongoing. What do these men consider a credible “accusation of direct wrongdoing” against Mahaney? Mahaney spoke as recently as February at Southeastern Seminary and then at the Gospel Coalition’s Pastors Conference in Orlando in April. This is simply inexcusable.

Is it possible that Joel Taylor’s charge that these men are indeed determined to “Stand By Our Man”?

Consider this in light of recent trustee decisions of Louisiana College and Campbellsville University to not renew contracts for professors because of what has come to be their association with Calvinism. The barrage of criticism was certainly brutal and in the case of Louisiana College and the Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Dr. David Hankins, may still be. While little was said officially from SBC Calvinist leaders in the Louisiana College situation, much more was said about the Campbellsville University situation, primarily because it was in the backyard of the Calvinist mecca, Louisville. Patrick Schreiner, a PhD student at Southern chimed in on the conversation, stating something the university itself had not released, that Williams’ contract was not being renewed because of his theology, which is Calvinism. His article can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

Denny Burk, an Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary chimed in noting Paul Chitwood’s intention to check into the matter of Campbellsville’s decision related to Dr. Jarvis Williams’ contract renewal. While he did not comment, the title to his blog post spoke volumes: “Kentucky Baptists to discuss theological integrity of Campbellsville University”. Burk’s brief article can be seen by clicking here as well as Dr. Chitwood’s article by
clicking here.

Enter into the fray Dr. Jason Allen, the newly elected president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. Allen stated clearly that it would not be the representatives of Campbellsville University that need to explain where they stand; it would be the Kentucky Baptist Convention that needed to explain where they stand and CU that needed to listen and take note. His article can be read in its entirety by clicking here.

In conclusion, here is what I believe is a horrible precedent possibly unfolding before our eyes. This statement, Joel Taylor has alluded to, “Stand By My Man” appears to be the model Southern Baptists can expect more of as the influence of Calvinism gains more control in the SBC. Do not renew a Calvinist’s contract and be ready for an onslaught of criticism. If you are part of the club, we will stand by you, no matter what. Joel Taylor is the only person in the Reformed camp to take a stand against Mahaney’s club card. Mahaney spoke at Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville on Mother’s Day. (Interesting side note.) See the church’s web site by clicking here.

Denny Burk tweeted a link to the Mohler, Dever and Duncan article. SBC Voices, a popular Calvinist blog moderated by Dave Miller, 2nd Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted a note saying, “Mahaney supported by Carson, DeYoung and Taylor pointing to another blog post by Chris Roberts a strong Calvinist pastor on the west coast of Florida. Then I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge Joshua Breland’s tweet to Roberts’ article as well. Breland is one of the outspoken students at Louisiana College who was highly critical of everyone and everything that took place with respect to the horrible handling of events there. He has since left the institution.

Perhaps this is part of the reason no one wants to stand up against the Mohler machine and the Calvinist revival and its increasing influence in the entities of the SBC, which is already being felt in the churches.

Is “Stand By My Man” the new motto of the SBC Calvinists?

UPDATE: Read Boz Tchividjian’s comments on both of today’s comments.

Boz is a former prosecutor and one deeply committed to fighting injustices against children, on this one. There is blatant failure here to recognize the complicity of a leader in what transpired under his watch. God have mercy. His comments are well worth noting. To read them click here.

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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17 Responses to Calvinism in the SBC: New Motto Stand By My Man

  1. Thomas Dickinson says:

    All integrity is lost quoting Taylor.
    Have you read him?
    He’s not reformed, baptist, or southern.

    • sbcissues says:

      About all I quoted from him was the title and reference to Wynette’s song. So from a credibility stand point I would say we are still in the game based on your comment.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • lydiasellerofpurple says:

      He used to work for Paul Washer. So what is he?

    • Joel Taylor says:

      This is simply a false statement. I am Baptist indeed, and born, raised and currently live in the South. I couldn’t possibly be more Southern. This statement by Thomas Dickinson (whoever he is) is a lie, not to mention ignorant.

  2. I was deeply disappointed and disturbed to find these SBC leaders throwing their support behind a man that is obviously in some serious trouble by all accounts. The depth may not be completely known, but some missteps have definitely been taken on Mahaney’s part. What bothers me is that a leader like Mohler sits as President of one of our seminaries and is a recipient of SBC funds and many see what he says as an indication of where others in the SBC stand. He, Dever and others may be standing beside Mahaney, but I am not. The whole thing has a sour flavor of Calvinist brother defending Calvinist brother because he is a Calvinist brother. These leaders had two good things they could have done – stayed silent or issued a statement of caution concerning Mahaney. Of course this is far from what happened. I’ve tried to not bee some sort of Calvinist conspiracy theorist, but this kind of thing causes me great concern. Thanks Bob for putting together so much valuable information in this article.

    • sbcissues says:

      Randy,

      Thanks and I like you hate that all this is happening. It is almost as if there is this relief that the civil suits were dismissed and Mahaney and SGM were exonerated. I said that would be the spin when I saw the headlines. The civil suits were dismissed because of the statute of limitations on filing civil suits. My point is less about the actual litigation and everything to do with standing behind certain people.

      Of coarse I was really surprised by the statement concerning no accusation being made against Mahaney! Wow. Especially after reading Detwiler’s letters to these men not to mention the publicity of all this. It is also interesting that Sovereign Grace Ministries moved to Louisville to be closer to Southern.

      Things have certainly changed and are changing even more in the SBC and it is not all for the better.

  3. Max says:

    For an interesting perspective on “what is not said” in the statements released by the reformed brethren at Together for the Gospel and the Gospel Coalition, check out this insight from a former prosecutor: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2013/05/24/cjm-tg4g-tgc-and-boz-tchividjian/

    Southern Baptists should not be satisfied with the belated statements provided by our seminary leaders and prominent pastors of the New Calvinism movement in our ranks. Ministerial integrity demanded that Mr. Mahaney step away from the pulpit until the courts dealt with this matter … he did not. That same standard applied to the SBC leaders who supported him – they should not have given him a platform to continue to speak while such serious matters were being processed by the legal system. Sticking together on matters like this are not covered in “Together for the Gospel.”

    • sbcissues says:

      Thanks. I found that site and updated my article to include his comments. Boz is apparently Tullian Tchividjian’s brother, I think I read.

      • Max says:

        Brother Hadley – if “Calvinism = Gospel” (as some neo-Calvinists purport), then it stands to reason that these folks would stand by their man Mahaney via “Together for Calvinism” and “The Calvinism Coalition”. They need each other to maintain the momentum of this movement.

  4. Pingback: Boys Scouts evil but molestation okay? | Unsettled Christianity

  5. Mark says:

    This along with a host of other reasons have proven to me that Mohler has been the worst hire to one of our agencies in my life time.

    • Max says:

      Mark – SBC leadership should have put the brakes on Dr. Mohler in 2000 when he became highly critical of long-standing Baptist doctrines of soul competency and priesthood of the believer http://assets.baptiststandard.com/archived/2000/4_17/pages/mohler.html

      Mohler’s influence on the BFM2000 revision team essentially diminished these SBC distinctives. One has to wonder about folks who distrust personal experience. Unfortunately, Dr. Mohler and his neo-Calvinist entourage appear to be firmly entrenched and untouchable. Where is SBC leadership when you need it?!

      • sbcissues says:

        Max,

        It does seem true that his influence did diminish the concept of the priesthood of the believer but leaving the phrase “soul competency” sort of nullifies that general drift. What the BF&M2000 did in effect by making “priesthood of believer” the “priesthood of believers” is bring individuals theology under the scrutiny of a body of believers. In this way, while i am responsible for reading the Scriptures for myself and interpreting them according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there was a shift that the individual’s interpretation is to be subject to the larger body. This was a decided change for the 2000 revision. However, it was an unnoticed change that was voted on and adopted. There are a coupe such areas of contention that had there been some clarity given, I do not believe would have passed or would have been amended. One of the problems we are seeing with the convention system today is the resolutions and recommendations favor those in control.

  6. thejenncastj says:

    Good for you. I have long marveled that the Southern Baptists have put up with our man, Mahaney ( I spent 20 years in SGM) due to the charismatic issue, but I thought for sure they would bail when the scandals broke, but Mohler and Dever, in particular, have been reckless in their endorsements of CJ. What has become apparent to me is that all of them seem committed to stand by people they don’t even really know.

    Thanks for your post. Mahaney and SGM leaders have been using the support of their “friends” to validate themselves and their actions.

  7. lydiasellerofpurple says:

    Bob, Did you see the facebook comments? If you had, you would know why they deleted the entire facebook page. Out of almost 100 comments the majority were expressing disbelief or sadness toward their statement and many identified themselves as Reformed. I was stunned. It was posted the night before and was down by 11 am.

    Bill Kinnon got a screen shot. Scroll down:
    https://www.evernote.com/shard/s2/sh/e3623beb-3591-4ba2-a332-30f2e94bb79c/48ade443a4715458c112553f82acf8c9

    Are we really going to allow Mohler to continue represent the ‘SBC in this? This has been covered by quite a few major media outlets quoting Mohler from the SBC.

  8. lydiasellerofpurple says:

    Enter into the fray Dr. Jason Allen, the newly elected president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. Allen stated clearly that it would not be the representatives of Campbellsville University that need to explain where they stand; it would be the Kentucky Baptist Convention that needed to explain where they stand and CU that needed to listen and take note. His article can be read in its entirety by clicking here.”

    The arrogance is astounding, isn’t it?

    But it seems the KBC is dropping it. Perhaps like what happened years back, CU told them to take their money and then they faced the cameras and said how much they loved one another.

    Thing is, CU will most likely do fine without the KBC if it comes to that. It is growing and expanding here with a popular new campus in Louisville. It seems the only people the KBC were hurting by this threat were students who needed help financially.

    • sbcissues says:

      Lydia,

      Thanks for stopping by. While it may be true that CU would do “fine without the KBC” I believe the long standing relationship between the two entities is a win/win for both the school and Kentucky Baptists and as you said, most certainly the relationship is a positive one for the students attending the school. From what I have read, CU has a desire and has made a strong commitment to represent the Lord and the people of the KBC and most certainly their student body to the best of their ability. I believe the Lord is pleased with CU and the KBC and my prayer is that He will bless both as they labor to send workers into the fields that are white unto harvest.

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