Todd Pruitt from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Calls for C.j. Mahaney’s Removal from Together for the Gospel
April 10, 2016
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is a coalition of pastors, scholars, and churchmen who hold the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today’s Church.
The organization has a website called Mortification of Spin (i.e., the killing of deceit). Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt, and Aimee Byrd are featured bloggers on the site.
It is significant, therefore, that Todd Pruitt called for C.J. Mahaney’s removal from Together for the Gospel yesterday (link). The conference starts on Tuesday. He said, “I appeal therefore to the organizers of T4G to remove C.J. Mahaney not only from the roster of speakers but also from the organization itself.”
Pruitt also called upon Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Al Mohler to make “a humble statement asking forgiveness for not acting sooner” in the removal of Mahaney from Together for the Gospel and exhorted them to take a “posture of solidarity with the victims of the abuse in SGM churches.”
I’ve included his post below.
Mahaney used to be a Council Member on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals along with the men listed below in 2011. That’s the year I sent out The Documents. The Council has since been disbanded but the Alliance remains active, influential and well connected in the Reformed Church.
I pray all the men on this list will likewise call for Mahaney’s removal from Together for the Gospel. Further, they should call for his removal from ministry. Pruitt gives his reason.
“Mahaney is a pastor. He is and has been for years a spiritual overseer in the church of Jesus Christ. And as we know from Scripture an overseer must be above reproach and have a good reputation with those outside the church.”
Unfortunately, Pruitt also makes a point with which I strongly disagree. He says, “[C.J.] may be an honorable man who is truly innocent of every one of the many charges that have been made against him.” I charitably assume Pruitt has not read the thousands of pages of evidence against C.J. from the past six years demonstrating the charges are true.
He must also be unaware that C.J. did great harm to his home church when he fled in anger never to return. Nor that his divided an entire movement. Forty churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries including Covenant Life Church. So did hundreds of leaders and half the people. If he knows this than his comment is pure spin and must be mortified!
C.J. is not above reproach nor of good reputation because of long standing patterns of serious sin that have harmed thousands. Covering up the sexual abuse of children is but one example of his sin and deceit.
I’m glad Pruitt was willing to speak out but his argument for removing Mahaney is unconvincing. Dever, Duncan and Mohler are not going to remove him from Together for the Gospel. Nor are they going to ask forgiveness. No, they will continue to prop him up as an “honorable man who is truly innocent.” Pruitt gave them license to do so.
According to the T4G trio, Mahaney is a hero of the faith – a persecuted saint – a victim of malicious slander. He is like Jesus Christ. A man despised and rejected by men. And yet this is a caricature so contrary to the facts and reality. Few men are as unqualified for ministry. Someday I hope a group of national leaders will make the case against Mahaney based upon a just and objective review of the evidence!
The Rev. Mr. ERIC ALEXANDER, Former Senior Pastor, St. George’s Tron Church, Glasgow, Scotland. Presbyterian (Church of Scotland)
The Rev. Dr. ALISTAIR BEGG, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Cleveland, OH; Speaker, Truth for Life. Independent (Parkside Church)
The Rev. Dr. GERALD BRAY, Anglican Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, AL. Anglican/Episcopal (Church of England)
Mr. JERRY BRIDGES, Author and Bible teacher, long-time staff member with the Navigators, where he served as Vice President. Presbyterian (PCA)
The Rev. Dr. DONALD CARSON, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL. Independent (Evangelical Free Church)
The Rev. Dr. SINCLAIR FERGUSON, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC, and Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX. Church of Scotland
The Rev. Dr. ROBERT GODFREY, President, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, CA. Reformed (URC)
The Rev. Dr. JOHN HANNAH, Department Chairman and Distinguished Professor of Historical Theology, Dallas Theological Seminary. Independent (Scofield Memorial Church)
Dr. PAUL JONES, Music Director and Organist, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA. Presbyterian (PCA)
The Rev. Dr. JOHN MACARTHUR, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA; President of The Master’s College and Seminary; Speaker, Grace to You. Independent (Grace Community Church)
The Rev. Mr. C. J. MAHANEY, President, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Former Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg. MD. Independent (Sovereign Grace)
The Rev. Dr. ALBERT MOHLER, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY; Author/Speaker, The Al Mohler Show. Baptist (Southern Baptist)
The Rev. Dr. JOHN PIPER, Senior Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN; Author/Speaker, Desiring God Ministries. Baptist (Baptist General Conference)
The Rev. Dr. R. C. SPROUL, Chairman, Ligonier Ministries, Orlando, FL; Senior Minister for Preaching, St. Andrews Chapel, Orlando, FL; Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Knox Theological Seminary, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Presbyterian (PCA)
Dr. CARL TRUEMAN, Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. Presbyterian (Orthodox Presbyterian Church)
Dr. GENE EDWARD VEITH, JR., Professor of English, Concordia University – Wisconsin; Cultural Editor, WORLD magazine. Lutheran (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)
The Rev. Dr. DAVID WELLS, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA. Congregationalist (Conservative Congregational Christian Conference)
The Rev. Dr. MARK DEVER, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; Author/Speaker, 9 Marks Ministries. Baptist (Southern Baptist)
The Rev. Dr. LIGON DUNCAN, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS, and Adjunct Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary. Presbyterian (PCA)
The Rev. Mr. RICHARD PHILLIPS, Senior Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, SC. Presbyterian (PCA)
The Rev. Dr. PHILIP RYKEN, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA; Preacher, Every Last Word. Presbyterian (PCA)
The Rev. Dr. DEREK THOMAS, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS; Minister of Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, MS. Presbyterian (PCA)
Mr. ROBERT BRADY, Executive Vice President, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
An Appeal to the Organizers of Together for the Gospel
Posted On Saturday, April 9, 2016 By Todd Pruitt
In 2006 I was delighted to attend the very first Together for the Gospel conference held at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY. Who remembers that large banquet room stuffed to the brim with over 2,000 men? I still think about Ligon Duncan’s excellent address on preaching the Old Testament. At the time I was a Southern Baptist pastor who had come to embrace the Doctrines of Grace as being clearly taught in the Scriptures. Together for the Gospel was like a breath of fresh air not least of all because it reminded me that there were many like-minded SBC pastors. I was not alone. It was exciting to be, however peripherally, part of a wonderful new movement. It was exciting to see the attendance of T4G balloon to around 10,000 by 2012. With only two exceptions that I can recall the messages were edifying and God-glorifying.
The year of that first gathering in 2006 was before everyone and their uncle was “reformed.” It was before the word “Gospel” had become a noun, verb, adjective, and prefix attached to everything from preaching to pastries. It was before the public debacle of Mark Driscoll. And it was before many of us had heard any concerns expressed about Sovereign Grace Ministries.
When I first read the reports of spiritual abuse and cult-like control of members in SGM churches I dismissed them outright as the rantings of malcontents. And, as far as my own personal knowledge goes, that may be the case. After years in ministry I have long since abandoned the notion of “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” I have witnessed too many occasions where the smoke came entirely from the mouths of slanderers.
However, the revelations of sexual abuse of children and the cover up of those crimes within SGM churches forced me to reconsider my opinion of “the critics.” It is not my purpose to rehash what has already entered the public record. Suffice it to say, I have found much of the evidence quite compelling that certain leaders within SGM knew about and sought to cover-up the sexual abuse of children. If you are interested you can read more about the horrific situation HERE, HERE, and HERE.
And now, as I have suspected for some months, there will be public protests outside the KFC YUM! Center during next week’s T4G conference. There will also be, no doubt a major media presence. After all, is there anything more delicious to the secular media than an evangelical sex scandal? All of this leaves me asking in stunned wonder: “What are they thinking?” How can the organizers of T4G allow CJ Mahaney a place on the platform this year? The scandal is still growing. Lawsuits are in the offing. The accusations, far from being exposed as lies, seem to have taken on greater credibility.
I understand and value loyalty to friends. I understand that false accusations are made. But I also understand that loyalty has its limits. The details that have been revealed about the various SGM scandals show that there is indeed at least some fire behind the smoke.
I appeal therefore to the organizers of T4G to remove C.J. Mahaney not only from the roster of speakers but also from the organization itself. It gives me no pleasure to write that sentence. I do not know C.J. Mahaney. He may be an honorable man who is truly innocent of every one of the many charges that have been made against him. But to whom much is given, much is required. Mahaney is a pastor. He is and has been for years a spiritual overseer in the church of Jesus Christ. And as we know from Scripture an overseer must be above reproach and have a good reputation with those outside the church.
Of course, at this point to remove Mahaney from the T4G platform at this late date would do nothing to satisfy most of the critics. It would almost certainly be seen as “too little, too late.” It may well be seen as nothing more than a cynical ploy to reduce criticism of the conference. But that does not mean that such an action should not be taken. It would require a humble statement asking forgiveness for not acting sooner. It would mean taking in no uncertain terms a posture of solidarity with the victims of the abuse in SGM churches.
It should never have reached this point.
The decent thing would have been for Mahaney to recuse himself from any more involvement in the leadership of T4G when it was clear that the various scandals of child sexual abuse first surfaced. That he did not, even though he had to know his continued involvement was attracting scandal like flies to a corpse, suggests a tangle of poor motives to which I will add no further speculation.
Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, and Al Mohler are men whom I hold in high regard and I will not heap scorn upon them as others have done. I have for years and continue to this day to be blessed by their writing and preaching. But I am dismayed.
My appeal to them in part is driven by my deep desire that these men for whom I feel a great deal of gratitude not be tarnished by another man’s scandal. Primarily, however, this appeal is made on the basis of my love for Christ, his church, and the Reformed faith. Like it or not it is our Lord’s reputation that is taking a beating because of this scandal. It is also the Doctrines of Grace which many of us hold dear that are being mocked because of this. Have we already forgotten how Mark Driscoll’s numerous scandals did great damage to complementarianism and Calvinism (though Driscoll was never a Calvinist)? Certainly the reputation of Jesus and his gospel are of far greater worth than our conferences, paychecks, platforms, projects, and alliance.
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