Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Truth Seeking and Heady Church Issues

The church I grew up in is experiencing a hard time.  There's a scandal of sorts whereby a former pastor in the church family (Brent Detwiler) has made a lengthy document of accusations against the leader of the movement (CJ Mahaney).  I believe that I have a unique insider/outsider perspective as I sat in the pews for 10 years of my childhood and have been an active member or participant in several churches since that time.

The background is complicated, but for the purposes of this post, I present a timeline compiled by Jim at SGM Refuge and that I have been an eyewitness to:

June 8: Brent sends Part 3 to SGM. Page 201 states, “It is now time for me to share my concerns with the Sovereign Grace pastors.” The end note states that “I also plan to make my thoughts available to a small group of former Sovereign Grace pastors or employees. Nine to be exact.” Brent lists all nine by name.
June 11: Dave Harvey sends an email to SGM pastors, letting them know that,“Yesterday Brent responded with another 199-page document.  In it he informed us that he would now be conveying his concerns to the pastors of Sovereign Grace and certain others outside of SGM.” Dave also stated, “But there was also a concern emerging for the board.   We wanted to clearly acknowledge and deal with any of CJ’s sin, but it also seemed important to recognize that the entire situation was being framed by Brent’s sole perspective.  Equally important was that there seemed to be a number of areas where Brent’s take on things was dramatically different than the others involved.” Funny, I saw a lot of emails from people other than Brent in the documents.
July 2: CJ sends this to SGM pastors.
July 6: CJ’s blog post.
July 7: Dave’s blog post.
July 6 & 7: Brent sends documents to SGM pastors.
July 7: Documents are uploaded to I’m made aware of the site, post the link, and send it to Kris at survivors. We have over 10k unique visitors, and survivors has a gazillion.
July 8: 5:30 PM, EST. Docs on sgmwikileaks have been read by 11,860 people.
July 10: Joshua Harris preaches the most transparent message I’ve heard from a SGM pulpit regarding SGMI’m dead serious. Mickey wastes time at the mic trying to discredit Brent. Mullery babbles some nonsense. Aron throw Brent and “the blogs” under the bus. sgmwikileaks readership hits 21,050 at 6PM eastern.
July 11: Two new docs added to sgmwikileaks. Readership is @ 25,860 at 3:15 PM, eastern. Readership hits 31K at midnight.  

To my friends and family currently attending, please feel free to reach out to me.  I am happy to facilitate questions, to search for truth with you, and share my perspective.  I believe that it is critical for you, as members of the body of Christ, to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance.  What is right and true and what makes it so?  The pulpit and apostolic team do not have the market cornered in speaking and their words being true.  Prayerfully consider that your pastors and church is not infallible.  Consider that God uses imperfect vessels.  The truth can stand up to questioning - ask your hardest questions, don't be afraid!  Also, please consider the testimonies of the former members that substantiate Brent's documentation.  Though you may not have any bad experiences with SGM, think of the sincere believers who have walked through those experiences.  Again, I'm glad to lend insight and share my personal story with you.

One of the most recent and telling experiences I have had is that I graciously critiqued the Board's post this morning and the comment has been censored.  I will update here if it gets through moderation and is posted.

Several comments have come out of moderation with the following apology from the moderator: "I am just way behind on the moderation queue right now because of all that's happening. I've explained our comments policy in previous responses this week and hope that gives some clarity. But I can see why it's frustrating to see comments lag--everyone who is waiting on me right now, thanks for your patience." My comment does question the appropriateness of the board to make this decision while several board members are also implicated in Brent's documentation (not due to Brent's analysis, but by their own hands in their emails).  I also indicated I was praying for the Lord to reveal the truth.  They have allowed some critical comments though to which Andrew has replied.

***Update #2***
My comment has been approved: I find this an alarming dismissal of hard evidence (years of documented emails).  The implications in Brent's documents against those signing this very letter from the board is also highly alarming.  As a believer and child who grew up in SGM, I have heavy concerns for the family of churches under your care.  I pray the truth comes out in it's fullness and for God's healing.

(To my blog friends, tune in later this week for regular programming!)


  1. I was just thinking about all this the other day, remembering what you had told us from your experience.

    Arrived in Durham this weekend, sad ya'll aren't still here...

  2. Just wanted to say obviously I'm an outsider to the issue, but questions of any faith are difficult. If you would like someone to talk to, I'm always here for you!