I want to make this short, and not go too in depth, because I am sick of the men involved, and how they have used their positions in the church for earthly gain (money, power, and pride). This year’s Shepherds Conference took place this week, at Grace Community Church, located on the outskirts of Los Angeles. This conference is strongly affiliated with The Masters Seminary, a conservative reformed Christian seminary that has done a decent job at withstanding advances of liberal theology … for the moment. The theme of this year’s conference is:
“Faithful” —a clarion call for perseverance in ministry and a commemoration of 50 years of God’s faithfulness in the life and ministry of Pastor John MacArthur.
Around 2011, a scandal broke out concerning C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries. Brent Detwiler, a former board member, sent out a massive email including 600 pages of documents exposing the ministry. Accusations of spiritual abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse started coming out of the woodwork. Victims included women and young children. Accusations went back 20 years.
Three men immediately jumped in during the summer of 2011 to defend C.J. Mahaney, without reading any of the documents: Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Ligon Duncan. The Gospel Coalition (and John Piper) also stepped in to defend Mahaney, and SGM.
A class action lawsuit was filed in 2012, alleging child molestation. Mahaney claimed he had “never conspired to protect a child predator, and I also deny all the claims made against me [in a civil suit].” Two people came forward and stated they discussed a molestation issue with Mahaney in January 2009, and met three times, and had email evidence.
Joshua Harris, Mahaney’s protege, eventually admitted to participating in cover ups. Other pastors admitted the same. The “denomination” fell apart.
Al Mohler has many flaws, and has been on a politically and theologically liberal trajectory for many years. Mohler took an active role in the Sovereign Grace scandal. When Rachael Denhollander ratched up pressure, and more news broke on the matter, Al Mohler finally issued an apology – 8 years after his initial statement supporting Mahaney (see below).
Janet Mefferd has since told her story about Mohler silencing commentary into SGM and CJ Mahaney. Biblical Counselor Rick Thomas, himself a former SGM pastor, also called Mohler’s apology insincere, and far from complete. Its several years too late. See more of the story here.
In 2011, Al Mohler wrote in The Courier-Journal that:
“I always have had only the highest estimation of C.J. Mahaney as a man and a
minister. That continues absolutely unchanged. There is nothing in this
current situation which would leave me to have even the slightest pause of
confidence in him. There is nothing disqualifying in terms of anything that is
disclosed in [The Documents]. It’s just evidence we knew all along, that C.J. is
human but a deeply committed Christian and a visionary Christian leader.
Detwiler has an obvious vendetta against C.J.”
Coincidentally, from 2005-2007, SGM gave $120,000 in total to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Al Mohler was SBTS’s President at the time. Convenient.
Interestingly enough, Mohler snapped at Phil Johnson during a panel this week over the social justice gospel.
Mark Dever also played a key role in the Sovereign Grace cover up (as with Ligon Duncan). Mohler, Dever, and Duncan wrote a very lengthy letter (link above), with the following statement:
We have stood beside our friend, C. J. Mahaney, and we can speak to his personal integrity.
That didn’t age well, did it?
P.S., Mahaney had made a $10,000 to Dever’s church (Not much, but that is all that can be verified. There are rumors that Mahaney helped prop up IX Marks ministry).
Mark Dever is part of TGC, and will participate with a self identifying celibate homosexual Anglican priest at For The Church Regional Micro Conference (TGC 19). Ligon Duncan (below) will also be there.
Duncan has flown under the radar in recent controversies. So lets look at this alleged shepherd’s track record.
In 2011, Ligon wrote a post for Reformation 21:
It is clear that far from a scandalous cover up, our brothers at Sovereign Grace
are taking these matters with utter seriousness and are endeavoring to walk in
Gospel repentance and humility and fidelity. C.J. knows of my complete love
and respect for him. …
It would have been very easy for the leadership of SGM to ignore and dismiss
these charges [in The Documents], because so many of them are so evidently
self-serving and spurious accusations.
Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, and John Macarthur have tarnished their reputations by inviting these disgusting men on a platform, let alone a platform for “shepherds.” What Mohler, Dever, and Ligon did was reprehensible. They circled the wagons for fellow celebrity pastors. They refused to hear any evidence before shutting down all dissent. They harassed victims back. They ignored the hurt. They ignored the flock, and the individual sheep. And then they went years without recognizing their error, with the expectation that they were right, because they are famous, after all.
I do not consider Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, or Al Mohler to be qualified to fill the position of elder in any church. They spit in the face of the church in maintaining their positions, and public influence after this scandal. They openly mock the flock, they openly mock scripture, and ultimately, they stand in defiance of God. They never humbled themselves. They never repented. Yet they want you to view them as discerning, responsible, and respectable men.
Shame on them.
As per Grace Community Church: you have yoked yourselves with these men. You have granted status to these men. You have thrown discernment out the window, gave your stamp of approval to these dangerous men, without considering their qualifications, or the repercussions.
Shame on you.