*(Update - Dee Parsons, one of the blog admins at TWW commented below that Deb's response of "Bravo" which followed the derisive comparison by the commenter, Eagle, was not a reply to his comparison but to an earlier comment about arriving "first". With good will, I have accepted this plausible explanation but really don't believe it has any impact on the greater concerns addressed in this article. However, because of that I have adjusted the article's title to reflect what I believe would then be appropriate which is my use of "foster". This means they, TWW, permitted and did not challenge or correct the offensive comment and further failed to censor such an irresponsible claim in the first place.)
The other day at a blog entitled, The Wartburg Watch, a post was published about a minister named CJ Mahaney being reinstated as a visible leader with T4G. We will get to that very quickly but first a qualifier.
The Wartburg Watch (a blog which I have written about in the past regarding a personal episode I had while commenting there and which you may read here) in my view, is a blog of Christian and non-Christian malcontents who, from time to time, may have a point but it is among mounds of refuse. And the trash piles up quickly in the form of vitriol, self-aggrandizing insults, extreme caricatures of those they appear to despise with gusto and very prejudicial narratives regarding events which they debate and pursue in their articles and comments section.
That is my opinion, of course, but when you read this entry I hope it has some impact if you consider yourself more temperate in your judgment regarding their efforts which, as I pointed out, aren’t all just rhetorical feces. But as they say, going through the trash to find a morsel when there are far more healthy venues for theological and intellectual dining, belies claims of altruism and benign interest in feeding there.
Enter TWW and Mahaney’s Restoration to T4G
Charles Joseph Mahaney, commonly known as CJ Mahaney, is the Pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He once was the head and co-founder of the Sovereign Grace para-denomination. He was and is (I have yet to hear of any recantation on this view) a full-fledged charismatic who holds to the view of the present day offices of Apostle and Prophet along with all of their miraculous spiritual sign gifts.
C.J Mahaney has no formal theological training. However, this did not prevent him from rising as a personality and teacher with great celebrity among Southern Baptist Calvinists as he adopted and mixed with his charismaticism, a Calvinistic theology. This elevation in ministerial exposure and promotion among the Southern Baptist Calvinists conspicuously paralleled his sect’s monetary giving (under his direction) to Southern Seminary and peripheral ministries.
However, at the peak of his notoriety among the Calvinist Southern Baptists and out to many Neo-Calvinist and Neo-Reformed ministries within that theological galaxy, Mahaney and SGM (the ministry which Mahaney was heading) came under serious investigation for allegations of failing to report sexual misconduct and abuse by ordained ministers and volunteers. Court plaintiffs claimed that church leaders, including Mahaney, failed to report charges, by church and SGM members of such abuse, to law enforcement and further, went to great lengths to cover up the matter.
As well, in 2011 CJ Mahaney took a leave of absence in the wake of vehement indictments by former co-minister(s) against Mahaney of pride, dishonesty and forms of sinful adjudication on a number of matters.
T4G – Subsequent to all of this, Mahaney was dropped from visibility with a ministry called T4G (Together for the Gospel) which is, as many describe and I agree, a Neo-Calvinist/Neo-Reformed cooperative that has strong ties to The Gospel Coalition. Essentially, it seems they are a Bible conference alliance who talk about what they consider to be important doctrinal issues facing the church and charge people significant fees to attend such conferences (I suppose part of this charging people for the ministry of the Word is justified by the offering of SBTS credits for attending). However, this year after a few years of absence, Mahaney's name, face and ministry have exploded back on to the scene with T4G hence, the understandable measures of objection by some groups and then, what I can only categorize as hysteria prone outbursts, by others.
The Wartburg Watch and a Guy Named Eagle - So let’s fast forward to The Wartburg Watch, who claim to care for truth, justice and the Biblical way (my summation of what I believe they assert). Recently, in response to CJ Mahaney’s reestablished visibility with T4G, they published a blog entry entitled, Together Again – Mahaney Reinstated at T4G (click on the embedded link). There is a commenter at TWW who uses the tag Eagle and who, the other day, decided to drive-by with an opine, a broad and unrestrained one. We will visit that in a moment.
(Feel free to spend your time researching The Wartburg Watch’s self-admiring sharing of their restoration, or whatever you wish to call it, of what I view as a rather theologically and emotionally impaired individual named Eagle. I don’t recommend using your time for such mining but if you wish to observe the evolution of this individual via The Wartburg Watch who, it seems, believe they took him from being an agnostic of sorts - the best as I can recall - which was the result of some bitter experiences at “fundamentalist” ministries - again, very general here - to a renewal of his faith, such an investment will at least be informative as to where not to take a person if you wish to restore him or her to spiritual health as demonstrated by the product of his eagerness to post the severely immodest analogy he offered in the comments section).
Before getting to the astonishingly repugnant, and in my view - sinful - comparison which not only was permitted but cheered by one of the blog administrators (Deb), I want to say that their basic objection is reasonable but beyond that and to how they conducted themselves here as well as having in view the nature of so many of the discussions which go on in the comment section at TWW, I am led to believe that the blog is tactically, a very hysteria and mania fueled endeavor which attracts, by majority, malcontents and destabilized personalities who have large personal and inter-personal conflicts which are exacerbated by an overwhelming juvenile narcissism of perpetual victim-hood and anger.
This, of course, is my opinion which is why I invite you to form your own conclusions. However, if my assessment is true, this makes such a group mephitic and ultimately detrimental to the well-being of a Christian's spiritual welfare.
The Comment and the Applause
As I provided earlier, you can click on the link embedded in the article title to read it in its entirety with all of the comments but here is the particular comment followed up by Deb saying, “Bravo”:
Eagle on Wed Sep 09, 2015 at 07:55 PM said:(*Herein lies the justification for my blog title. Deb, one of the administrators of the blog, commends this comment with "Bravo" thus, giving it approval or sanction.)
This made me so angry….good thing I saw this before the gym. Having CJ Mahaney speak is like having Jeffrey Dahmer having a cooking show on the Food network.
Deb on Wed Sep 09, 2015 at 07:55 PM said:
@ Eagle: Bravo!
Personal, Intellectual and Spiritual Integrity
First, I want to make it clear that I am not a fan of CJ Mahaney’s theology nor leadership. I do not believe he belongs in the pulpit, anywhere in an Evangelical church at this time and certainly not in a position of leadership until, in the least, he receives comprehensive theological rehabilitation and demonstrates the integration of this training and until he fully abandons, with utmost clarity, his charismaticism. But in truth, none of that will happen and I do not expect it to occur.
Further, I would demand a full and exhaustive reply to all inquiries by mature and disciplined ecclesiastical investigators to all of the matters surrounding the number of devastating events and issues raised which occurred under his leadership at SGM and even then, simply being willing to respond to them is not a default re-qualification seeing that it may reveal a need for even greater remedial training.
So let's be clear, I am not CJ Mahaney's apologist in any shape or form.
However, this does not mean I do not believe he should not be permitted personal evangelistic efforts or other spiritual ventures allowed regarding involvement in a local assembly under the authority of a senior Pastor until he again, demonstrates fitness for ministry in his theology and disposition. But I know, and most others know, this is not going to happen. Still, for the record, I want my view made clear and if I were to have to provide a summation for CJ Mahaney I would state that though he is sincere and though he has done some good work for the Lord and stated some true things and helped some people advance in some ways, spiritually, he remains a seriously theologically and psychologically challenged individual.
Will God use him in spite of this? Sure, he uses all kinds of errant people but none of that justifies what should not be. God will use whatever tool he may. As Joseph told his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. Though God may bring good from something, it does not remove the negative property of the thing he uses - at whatever level - in word, thought or deed.
So, that aside let’s consider what has been done here - A serial murderer, cannibal and sexual assaulter whose offenses were so acute, so maximal, that he was ultimately sentenced to sixteen life terms (my understanding is that Dahmer became a brother in the Lord in prison by receiving Christ as his Savior, may God be praised for his mercy and grace extended to all sinners), is given an analogous comparison to CJ Mahaney? Lest someone retort that the individual who calls himself “Eagle” wasn’t comparing them as being the same, that he was using it as an analogy, let me retort back and say so what? It is an a gross distortion of measure, analogically speaking.
Analogous things, while differing in form, are still required to be equal or close to equal in measure with respect to their context. To Eagle, TWW and any sympathizer of this corrupt equation, are you really insisting that Mahaney’s possible ecclesiastical malfeasance is anywhere proportionate to a serial murdering cannibalistic sex assaulter? If so, we have nothing more to discuss and I recommend a long, long time on the couch of a qualified therapist.
What kind of sickness is eating away at people who would not only make such a contrast but commend it with a “Bravo”? Is such a group really where you want to go to have your mind renewed? Are these the kind of people who you wish to have forming your objections - because remember, the minute you fall out of favor with them, you, too, will be subject to such gross departures from reason and equity in judgment?
This is genuinely appalling. I am sure those who associate with TWW blog up to ordained Ministers and take themselves seriously will be re-evaluating their nuptials such as Warren Throckmorton whose silence on this gross distortion by his friends at TWW can be taken as tacit approval based on TWW’s own practice of demanding ministerial associations to speak out against offending friends or else one may assume some form of cooperation or approval of said offenses. You may find Throckmorton here.
The World in which we live
We have all been guilty of overstating things but the reality of human foibles certainly does not exist to justify gross distortions of reality in the pursuit of ecclesiastical protests. However, in a world where there is little self-restraint (the internet – which is now beginning to infect real world behavior in primary ways) this is what we are served, even by Christians, all in the name of whatever crusade on which they are.
I get that there are valid criticisms of ministries such as The Gospel Coalition and T4G. I have a list of them, myself. But at no place and at no time are we permitted by God to allow, encourage and reward unscrupulous distortions of people or ministries in such an obscene manner. We must make true accounts, fair analogies and when using hyperbole, use it as it was intended which is not in an analogous context. We only discredit and damage ourselves and those we influence.
As for TWW, I only continue to observe them that I may be aware of the damage I believe they do and to be prepared to counter such influences and appeal to those who are still able to fairly weigh things. And this occasion is one where I believe my rebuttal is essential.
Whatever anger, whatever injury and whatever disruption you believe may have occurred to you in an ecclesiastical setting, hysterical, maniacal and volatile forms of dialog are not appropriate and only lead to more offenses but in this case you're the person out of control and committing the offense. Personal resolution to internal and external conflicts and wounds you believe you have receive from others are not healed by rage and irrational rhetorical eruptions. Such things only exaggerate your perceived nemesis and prolong your trauma by initiating further disturbances and creating mammoth barbarians who don’t exist at the level your frenzied indulgence has permitted you to craft.
Feed, if you wish, where toxic waste abounds, as you search for that singular morsel of nutrition you imagine awaits your discovery in the depths of disease. However, understand that the virulent waste in which you forage doesn’t simply fall off your person. It seeps into your pours, into your lungs and is upon the very crumb which you claim will give you life and health.
* A note to TWW administrators - you seem to wish to be heard by those to whom or against whom, you raise your protests. The more you amp up your ridiculous and self-serving and self-aggrandizing rhetoric the less likely you will be given a hearing or any serious consideration. Your discussions have degraded into nothing but cult-like group affirmations of strict theological narratives. Maybe that is what you desire and frankly, if you can't see what is going on by now, there isn't much helping you. You are clearly not uneducated but it seems to me that you are seriously lacking in circumspection and the kind of perspicacious wisdom you so loudly demand from your tormentors.