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Friday
Jun302017

John MacArthur Refuses to Follow His Own Teaching in Dealing with Phil Johnson’s Egregious Sins

 

I don’t exaggerate claims, I don’t bring unsubstantiated charges, and I don’t go public unless private attempts to secure repentance have failed.  I only expose sin of a serious nature when leaders seek to cover them up.  I do this for their good and the good of Christ’s church.  That has been my practice beginning with C.J. Mahaney in July 2011 when I sent out The Documents.  That is the case now with Phil Johnson and John MacArthur.  That was the case in April 2016 when I was forced to expose R.C. Sproul Jr. for his fraudulent confession related to Ashley Madison and Ligonier Ministries for knowingly promoting it.  And that was the case in November 2016 when I published Conclusive Evidence the Investigation of C.J. Mahaney’s Confessed Sins by Kevin DeYoung, Ray Ortlund, & Karl Trueman Was Thoroughly Corrupt.  I’ll stop there.  No, one more.  When I wrote about C.J. Mahaney’s use of an illegal “hush fund” to deter a victim of sexual abuse from joining the lawsuit against him and other defendants.  I kid you not. 

I’ve been familiar with John MacArthur since my college days in the mid-1970’s when I was leading a “charismatic” campus ministry and he was opposing the trans-denominational charismatic renewal.  I’ve not been familiar with Phil Johnson, his executive director for Grace to You, though I watched Phil’s 2012 interview of John on the charismatic movement a couple years ago.  It left me concerned.  You can view it here.  I didn’t know who Phil was at the time.  

I only came to know Phil in April 2016 when he began to defame and slander me on his Facebook page with 9,000 plus friends.  Someone wrote to alert me saying, “Oh, my word, Brent - have you read this FB post from Phil Johnson?”  That was my introduction to Phil Johnson. 

The exchange that followed began on April 14 and ended on May 1.  It is 77 pages long and last I looked it was still on Phil's Facebook page.  You can also find it here.  What I cover below only deals with a portion of the important issues that came up in our interaction.  There are other concerns for Phil that I have left unaddressed due to length.  

The context for this exchange was C.J. Mahaney’s participation in Together for the Gospel 2016 on April 12-14 in Louisville, Kentucky (see Todd Pruitt from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals Calls for C.J. Mahaney’s Removal from Together for the Gospel).  Phil introduced the conversation on FB with this comment.     

Phil Johnson 
April 14 at 5:58pm · Santa Clarita, CA ·  

Lots of people have been asking my opinion about having CJ Mahaney as a headliner at T4G [Together for the Gospel].  Here’s a longish summary of my answer: 

In July of 2011 I started reading the original 600-page Detwiler dump.  Approximately 375 pages in, I gave up looking for anything substantial.  Everything Brent Detwiler complained about was petty and personal: CJ Mahaney was too controlling; he wasn’t transparent with his fellow leaders; he didn’t submit to the same accountability he demanded of them; he was stubborn; he didn’t listen to criticism; etc.  I’m no defender of SGM’s continuationist doctrine or their philosophy of ministry.  In fact, the Detwiler documents left me with the impression that SGM is practically cultlike in the ways they have tried to achieve “accountability” and “transparency.” (The accountability structures seem even worse than the Roman Catholic confessional system.)  But it deeply annoyed me and offended me to read hundreds of pages of private emails in the Detwiler papers without seeing any evidence of the kind of gross, deliberate wrongdoing that might justify that style of public attack on a Christian leader’s character and reputation.

Here is a sampling of my response to Phil. 

Brent Detwiler  Phil, this is not just about me and C.J.  40 churches, 100 pastors, hundreds of small group leaders, and around 12,000 people have left SGM because of C.J.’s abusive leadership and the culture he created.  Even Joshua Harris and C.J.’s own church, Covenant Life, left SGM in 2013.  So did the vast majority of C.J.’s closest friends who were also longstanding fellow leaders.  I say this matter of factly, not angrily, you don’t know what you are talking about and no one should accept your assessment.  They need to study the evidence.  And as someone has already recommended above, everyone should read the Second Amended Complaint (i.e. lawsuit) and keep in mind another lawsuit will be filed in the coming months.
http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/static/f/970485/22689936/1368570306447/second+amended+sgm+lawsuit.pdf?token=dwrR9GjVWxAlCa04mkOvtibFscQ%3D
Like · Reply · 5 · April 14 at 11:51pm 

Brent Detwiler  Now an appeal to all readers on this blog.  Please read the “600 pages” that Phil has repeatedly disparaged.  They are kindly and carefully written appeals to C.J. regarding longstanding and serious patterns of sin of that are of a disqualifying nature. C.J. should not be in ministry.  They are not “disgruntled-employee-style ramblings.”  That is a slanderous caricature.  But here’s the thing.  You don’t have to believe me and you don’t have to believe Phil.  You can read and think about the contents and then form an opinion for yourself.  No one should trust Phil’s assessment and you don’t have to believe mine either.  You just need to read the evidence and decide if C.J. is above reproach.  They can all be read at http://abrentdetwiler.squarespace.com/the-documents/.
Like · Reply · 2 · April 22 at 7:32pm

As I interacted with Phil and observed his interaction with others, I became increasingly concerned for his deceit and belligerence.  Here is an example of the latter.  He is describing those who self-identify as victims of spiritual abuse.  He is oblivious to his hypocrisy.  What he accuses them of, he is guilty of.

Phil Johnson The problem with this particular swarm of rancor monsters is that there are lots of people who self-identify as victims of “abuse” when in reality they just despise all authority, starting with the authority of Scripture.  They profess to hate bullying, but their actions betray an eagerness to berate, accuse, and impute the worse possible motives to anyone who fails to affirm their omni-directional resentment.  It is a potent flavor of spiritual abuse all its own, and it is as sick as any other form of spiritual abuse.

My heart goes out to *real* victims, but the survivor-blog community is heavily populated with people who are the Bruce Jenners of spiritual abuse.  I’m not inclined to legitimizes their resentment, any more than I’m inclined to lend Bruce the artificial “dignity” of calling him a “she.”
Like · Reply · 8 · April 15 at 3:40pm 

While I wanted to engage Phil on various concerns, I decided to keep it simple and focus on one important example of deceit that came up in the FB conversation.  If successful in helping him, I hoped to raise other issues.  Therefore, I wrote him in private about his claim that he personally interacted with multiple victims of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries, which he did not.  It was a bold-faced lie that he used to claim there was no evidence showing C.J. Mahaney participated in a conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children by not reporting suspected abusers to law enforcement. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 9:59 AM
To: Phil Johnson phil@spurgeon.org
Subject: A Private Appeal for Repentance
Importance: High 

Hello Phil, 

I am coming to you in private hoping to win you over to repentance for lying about the number of victims of sexual abuse you corresponded with and spoke to in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” . . .

This resulted in a barrage of extraordinary insults and a fierce attempt to cover up his lying.  As a result, I began contacting victims to see if Phil had been in touch them.  He had not.  I documented the incontrovertible evidence and sent it to John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt and Tom Chantry.  I included Todd and Tom because they are national leaders, friends of Phil and were part of the Facebook conversation.  They saw everything unfold as it happened.  I included John because Phil is his top leader in the ministry and a pastor/elder in his church.  In this email, I asked these three men to serve as witnesses in carrying out the second step of Matthew 18:15-17 in appealing for Phil’s repentance.   

Todd Pruitt responded, “You truly need to stop this nonsense.”  Todd is known for his posts on the blog, Mortification of Spin.  

Tom Chantry responded, “I agree with Todd; this must stop.  Todd and I have no authority over Phil.”  Tom is a well-known pastor and blogger in Reformed Baptist circles.  He is also awaiting trial for the alleged physical assault and sexual abuse of children

John MacArthur responded through his personal assistant.  He is internationally recognized as a Bible teacher and author. 

“In response to your question, matters of church discipline are raised by our church members.  We do not involve ourselves in the discipline issues of other local churches - neither do we invite non-members to raise or play a part in our cases.”

It was another stunning moment for me.  None of these men were willing to obey the clear teaching of Scripture.  They all came up with excuses to justify their disobedience.  Clearly, you don’t have to be in a position of “authority over” to correct a friend.  Likewise, you don’t have to be a member of the same church to raise a concern for a Christian leader.   

These men were covering up Phil’s egregious sins by unscrupulous means including the twisting of Scripture just like Sovereign Grace Ministries covered up C.J.’s sins with the help of nationally recognized leaders.  This kind of behavior is rampant among celebrity leaders, churches, ministries, and institutions.  There is little to no accountability in these celebrity circles.  And of course, my carefully presented case and attempt to help Phil was nothing but “nonsense” to these men.

As you read what follows, you will be aghast that the number 2 leader in John MacArthur’s ministry can act with such deceit and arrogance and not be held accountable for his actions.  It is pure hypocrisy.  No church member in Grace Community Church could ever get away with this kind of behavior.  They would be put out of the church if they did not repent and were not willing to follow John’s teaching in making a public confession under like circumstances.  It really is outrageous. 

I have organized this presentation in six sections. 

SECTION 1:  My Appeal to John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, and Tom Chantry to Rebuke Phil Johnson for His Egregious Sins 

SECTION 2:  Todd Pruitt & Tom Chantry Respond to My Appeal for Phil Johnson’s Repentance by Telling Me to “Stop This Nonsense.”  

SECTION 3:  My First Letter to Chris Hamilton, Chairman of the Elder Board for Grace Community Church, Regarding Phil Johnson & the Need for Discipline 

SECTION 4:  My Second Letter to Chris Hamilton Conveying Serious Concerns Arising from Our Phone Call When He Told Me to “Drop the Matter” 

SECTION 5:  My Email to John MacArthur Regarding His Hypocrisy & Refusal to Hear Charges Against Phil Johnson 

SECTION 6:  John MacArthur’s Double Standard for Phil Johnson the Same as His Double Standard for C.J. Mahaney 

##

SECTION 1:  My Appeal to John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, and Tom Chantry to Rebuke Phil Johnson for His Egregious Sins 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 12:07 PM
To: John MacArthur <receptionist@gracechurch.org>; Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Cc: Phil Johnson <phil@spurgeon.org>; phil@gty.org
Subject: Evidence for John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, & Tom Chantry

I’ve attached [below] “Johnson, Phil – Evidence for John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt and Tom Chantry.” May it be used for good in Phil’s life.

June 8, 2016

John, Todd, and Tom,

Over the last two weeks, I have been praying for you and for Phil.  I’ve also been looking forward to what I hoped would be a favorable update from John regarding the discovery and appeal process.  I’ve heard nothing. 

John, I don’t know how to interpret the silence but it does cause me some concern.   Perhaps, your receptionist failed to forward my correspondence or perhaps Phil failed to bring the matter to your attention.  In any case, I assume you are out of the loop and that is why I’ve not heard from you. 

Therefore, I have made arrangements with Paul Twiss, your administrative assistant, to make certain this information reaches you.  With this in mind, let me review what has already transpired before proceeding with the presentation of evidence regarding Phil’s lying and deceit. 

I contacted Phil in private and appealed for his repentance on May 18.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 9:59 AM
To: Phil Johnson phil@spurgeon.org
Subject: A Private Appeal for Repentance
Importance: High

Hello Phil,

I am coming to you in private hoping to win you over to repentance for lying about the number of victims of sexual abuse you corresponded with and spoke to in Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”  

Recently, the following exchange took place on your Facebook page.  I’ve highlighted some of the most important comments in bold print for focus.  It began with a question from Terri Ammerman.

Terri Ammerman  Phil Johnson, have you spoken to any of the victims firsthand?  Have you read the court documents?  Please go to the sources before you speculate about things.
Like · Reply · April 15 at 12:44pm
 
Terri Ammerman  Sir, I feel like you are wading into waters that you don’t know much about.  You don’t like Brent Detwiler wordiness, you don’t like the “hysteria” of the SGM Survivors Blog, etc, and you seem more concerned with the words and attitude of those who are crying out to be heard than with their plea itself.  There is a ton of stuff in this whole terrible mess, and if you were really going to swim, not wade, into the waters, you should contact some of the victims and go right to the source
Like · Reply · 5 · April 15 at 12:57pm · Edited

In answer to her questions and counsel, you claimed to have corresponded with, and spoken to, some of the victims.  In other words, you went “right to the source.” 

Phil Johnson Terri Ammerman : I have corresponded with some of the victims via email.  I’m deeply sympathetic to their plight and pain, but I’m also quite sure that a million voices angrily echoing accusations without real evidence are not going to ease that pain; they only make the situation worse.

And yes, I HAVE read the court documents.  The “evidence” I was assured I would find there wasn’t there, and none of the victims who have spoken to me have offered any proof that Mahaney actively participated in the coverup.
Like · Reply · 1 · April 23 at 12:04pm · Edited

This sounded very impressive!  You were in contact with victims from the lawsuit.  That was news to me.  None of the victims had relayed that information to me.  I was curious to know when and how this interaction developed.  

Brent Detwiler Phil Johnson  I’m glad you have corresponded with some of the victims.  Is that a new development; as in the last week or so?  Thanks.
Like · Reply · April 22 at 1:42pm

You did not answer this simple question.  That concerned me because it suggested you were unwilling to be forthcoming.  Therefore, I appealed for an answer and asked a second question about “how many victims.” 

Brent Detwiler Phil Johnson  Would you please answer my question above?  When did you begin to “correspond with some of the victims”?  And a follow up, you say “victims” in the plural.  How many victims from the lawsuit have your corresponded with?
Like · Reply · April 22 at 6:02pm

Once again, you did not answer these easy questions so I began to investigate.  It quickly became clear you did not correspond with or talk to multiple victims of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  You were lying but rather than openly confront your deceit before all your friends, I sought to be gracious and give you another opportunity to be honest.         

Brent Detwiler Phil Johnson  I’ve asked this before but how many is “some of the victims” and when did you correspondent with them.  I assume in the past week if you did.  Is that correct?  By the way, you say victims, not families of the victims.  And you say “some,” not a couple of victims.  Have you really communicated with “some” of the 11 victims in the lawsuit?  I find your claim implausible for various reasons including the fact that the victims have been instructed by lawyers and law enforcement not to interact with others like yourself.  Have you inflated your claim?
Like · Reply · April 22 at 10:42pm · Edited

In asking these questions, I was following Peter’s example in Acts 5:8 with Sapphira.  “And Peter responded to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?”  And she said, ‘Yes, that was the price.’”  Of course, Peter already knew the price for which it sold.  He was giving Sapphira the opportunity to be honest.  Instead, she lied about the price of the land.  That’s what I was doing with you.  I was giving you the chance to be honest.  Instead, you hardened your heart and refused to answer though I’m confident the Holy Spirit was convicting you. 

This was now the third time you purposely evaded my questions.  If innocent, you would quickly have said, “Yes, I really have communicated with some of the 11 victims in the lawsuit.” And “No, I have not inflated my claim in the least bit.  I corresponded and spoke with (three or whatever number) of victims in the past week.”  Of course, you couldn’t say this knowing I might check with the victims or their families which I began to do anyway.  Phil, you did not interact with victims.  What you told everyone on your Facebook page was a blatant lie. 

I think you also lied in other respects during the Facebook exchange.  For example, saying you “may” have read the lawsuit before April 14 and claiming you read “court documents” (plural) before April 14.  I appeal to you, please be honest about these matters too.

Nathan the prophet faithfully confronted King David after he attempted to cover up his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah.  In his contrite prayer for forgiveness in Psalm 51, David exclaimed, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. … Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being.”  That is the issue with you.  Truth, that is moral integrity, in the innermost being. 

Having been exposed in private, David chose to be unconcerned for his reputation but intensely concerned for his integrity.  He needed to make things right in public.  Therefore, he wrote a private prayer that he included in the Psalter for use in public worship.  The subheading reads, “A psalm of David.  When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.”

With regard to public confessions, John MacArthur recently wrote the following. 

“Confession of guilt must always be made to God.  Confession is also owed to whomever our sin has injured.  The arena of confession should be as large as the audience of the original offense.  Public transgressions call for public confession. … Lies should be confessed and the truth communicated at least as widely as the lie was.” (John MacArthur, Answering Tough Questions About Forgiveness, May 2, 2016)

I agree.  You lied to thousands of people on your Facebook page.  To these people you must return and ask forgiveness.  The elders at Grace Community Church should also be informed of your deceit. 

Most importantly, however, you must take your heart to task before God.  You must ask the question, “Why did I lie and deceive?”  Or put another way, “What was sinfully motivating me?”  Or, “What did I crave more than glorifying God?”  It is not enough to acknowledge the lie.  You must also confess why you lied.  That is the real issue. 

Inevitably, pride is behind lying because pride is always preoccupied with one’s image.  Therefore, the proud person will cover up bad things and spin good things.   That was the case with Ananias and Sapphira.  They wanted to impress the leaders and the church by giving the false impression that all the proceeds from the sale of their land were given to the poor, when in truth, they donated only a part of the proceeds.  You know the rest of the story.  God be feared.

Phil, I’ve taken the time to write you in obedience to Scripture and with a desire to win you over as a brother in Christ.  You are an elder and pastor in Grace Community Church.  You are the executive director of Grace to You.  Lying and deceit should be far from your lips and heart.  Therefore, I urge you to seek the Lord, turn from your sin, and make an open and honest confession on your Facebook page.  Then, may the grace of God fill your heart with power to overcome.

You are in my prayers.  I look forward to a contrite response over the next few days.    

Vox Veritas Vita.

Brent

I waited six days to hear back from Phil.  When he did not respond to my appeal, I contacted the three of you on May 23 and copied Phil.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 4:26 PM
To: John MacArthur <jmac@gracechurch.org>; receptionist@gracechurch.org; Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Cc: Phil Johnson phil@spurgeon.org
Subject: Appeal to Phil Johnson - Matthew 18:16
Importance: High

Dear John, Todd, and Tom,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A week ago, I appealed to Phil Johnson in private asking him to repent for lying in public and make a confession to those against whom he sinned.  He has not listened to my appeal.  I am therefore, under obligation to enlist two or three additional witnesses.

I’ve chosen you, John, since Phil is a pastor and elder in Grace Community Church, a Board of Director for Grace to You, and the Executive Director of Grace to You.  In all these capacities, he works for you.  You oversee him. 

I’ve chosen you, Todd and Tom, because you are Phil’s friends and you were following my interaction with Phil on Facebook during the time in which he lied. 

Matthew 18:16 says, “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.” 

First, you men must confirm the facts.  That will be easy to do.  Ask Phil to prove he corresponded with and spoke to multiple victims in SGM by asking for his correspondence and phone log.  He made the claim on April 21 at 3:23 pm so all evidence must predate that time.  Once in your possession, I’d recommend you verify the correspondence and phone conversations by contacting the victims directly.

Second, you must appeal to him, like I appealed to him.  I sincerely hope he listens to the three of you and repents.  

John, I expect you will lead this process so I am asking you to get back to me regarding your discovery and the outcome of your appeal to Phil.  I’d also urge you to read the entire Facebook conversation.  I’ve attached it for your convenience.  There are many other concerns that arise from Phil’s comments that you should carefully examine. 

Finally, please send me an update if you are unable to finish the discovery and appeal process by Wednesday, June 1.  I’d like to be kept current, which is appropriate, since I’ve initiated this redemptive action.

All of you are in my prayers, especially Phil.  My appeal to Phil follows [i.e., the May 18 letter provided above].

Grace to you.

Brent

Attachment: Johnson, Phil – Facebook

The next day, I followed up with an additional thought.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:37 AM
To: John MacArthur <receptionist@gracechurch.org>; Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Cc: Phil Johnson phil@spurgeon.org
Subject: RE: Appeal to Phil Johnson - Matthew 18:16

One other thought.  There is no question of Phil’s guilt but I don’t know if he will be open and honest with you.  I hope so but if that is not the case, let me know [and] I will provide contact information for the victims.  Then you can contact them and discover what I discovered, Phil did not interact with multiple victims as he claimed.

These emails were addressed to the three of you but Phil responded in what appears to be an attempt to cut you out of the process and take control.  More on that later.  He also responded in an arrogant, deceitful and belligerent manner.  His email greatly alarmed me.  I trust it had the same effect upon you. 

Here is what he wrote. 

From: Phil Johnson [mailto:phil@gty.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 1:35 PM
To: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>; John MacArthur <receptionist@gracechurch.org>; Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Appeal to Phil Johnson - Matthew 18:16

Brent, 

You really ought to stop this foolishness.  I’m not sure why you feel compelled to publish groundless accusations, but you seem to think this is your calling, or your spiritual gift. What you are doing here is just another example of your pattern of making false accusations without evidence. 

I’ve ignored your demand for names and information about my private correspondence with victims of the SGM scandal because it’s simply none of your business whom I have talked to and what they said.  I don’t know what kind of public embarrassment or reprisals you would subject these people to if I divulged that information.  You have no right to that information in any case.  And I have neither the right nor any intention to make that information public.  Say whatever you like about me as publicly as you like.  I’m not the least bit intimidated by your threats.  Your credibility is already nil among people whose judgment or opinions matter to me. 

This e-mail campaign of yours has not helped your case, but please feel free to follow through with your threats if you feel so compelled.  My only suggestion is that you ought to do it in a more mature and serious manner if you wish to be taken seriously.  And to be absolutely clear: regardless of what you do or what threats you make, I’m not going to give you the names of people who have already been victimized and who do not want to get drawn into the seamy side of the scandals you are trying to foment online. 

If your goal is to try to shame me publicly as a reprisal for the fact that I pointed out how devoid of substance your reams of leaked emails really are, you are playing to the wrong audience.  The people whom you have already emailed all know that you are a less-than-credible witness.  There are, however, certain districts on the Internet where the kind of gossip you like to spread is their stock in trade.  I know you realize that, and I have little doubt that you will eventually publish your false accusations in those forums, where they will be like red meat for people who love outrage.  Personally, I think that’s your real agenda in this little campaign of threats, because the men you chose to email with your complaint against me are not the proper people to contact if you want to treat your accusation as a Matthew 18 case.  You seem to have chosen those particular men because they are well-known pastors who have already voiced questions about your credibility.  Perhaps your plan is to try to embarrass those men, too, by complaining when they decline to do what you demand—something that they have no authority to do anyway.  It’s a foolish, childish tactic on your part.  But, then, that’s precisely what you are best known for. 

I realize you have never been very responsive to grown-up counsel, but let me offer this advice anyway: If on the off-chance I’m wrong about your real aim and you truly want to pursue your complaint against me as a case of church discipline, the proper forum in which to bring your accusation would be the board of elders at Grace Community Church.  The chairman of our board is Chris Hamilton.  And if you want to come across as someone more serious than an adolescent gamer living in his mom’s basement, you should send a proper letter via US Mail to Chris at the church address—not a Tweet, text, or email. 

The church address: 

Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352

-- Phil Johnson

http://www.gty.org

As a result of this email, my concerns for Phil have grown exponentially.  The teaching of Proverbs concerning the scoffer and wicked man certainly applies to him in this situation. 

Proverbs 9:7-8 He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.  Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.

Moreover, his commitment to lie and cover up has clearly intensified.  In this email, he sins against me, but he also sins against the three of you because he has actively sought to deceive you.  You must reprove him and hold him accountable for his good and the good of the gospel.   

Let me respond to each paragraph.  I do this for Phil’s benefit sincerely hoping he turns from evil, practices the truth, and comes to the Light – Jesus Christ. 

John 3:20-21 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed, but he who practices the truth comes to the Light.

Paragraph 1

“You really ought to stop this foolishness.  I’m not sure why you feel compelled to publish groundless accusations, but you seem to think this is your calling, or your spiritual gift. What you are doing here is just another example of your pattern of making false accusations without evidence.”

In demanding I “stop this foolishness,” Phil shows himself to be a fool as defined by Proverbs.  He has no interest in honesty or humility.  Instead, he responds with mocking and belligerence. 

He also makes up two false accusations.  First, that I “feel compelled to publish groundless accusations” against him.  Second, that this is part of a “pattern of making false accusations without evidence.”  This is typical of spiritually abusive leaders when called to account.  They attack the messenger.

As will become plain, my charges against Phil are rooted and grounded in evidence.  This is in keeping with how I have always conducted myself.  That is evident in The Documents and on my blog at BrentDetwiler.com.  I don’t bring accusations without compelling evidence and I follow the protocol laid out by Christ in Matthew 18:15-17.  That is what I am doing now. 

Nowhere in my writings will you find a “pattern of making false accusations without evidence.”  In fact, I don’t think you will find an example of me bringing a charge against anyone without evidence and/or witnesses.  I have been extremely careful in this regard.  That is why C.J. and his enablers have steadfastly refused to allow my charges to be heard and tried by objective mediators.  They know the evidence of guilt is overwhelming. 

Paragraph 2

“I’ve ignored your demand for names and information about my private correspondence with victims of the SGM scandal because it’s simply none of your business whom I have talked to and what they said.  I don’t know what kind of public embarrassment or reprisals you would subject these people to if I divulged that information.  You have no right to that information in any case.  And I have neither the right nor any intention to make that information public.  Say whatever you like about me as publicly as you like.  I’m not the least bit intimidated by your threats.  Your credibility is already nil among people whose judgment or opinions matter to me.”

First, Phil makes up a completely bogus charge that has no basis in reality when he says, “I’ve ignored your demand for names and information about my private correspondence.”  This is a stunning display of hypocrisy given his previous paragraph about making groundless and false accusations.  He is doing the very thing he so strongly condemns. 

Clearly, I never demanded names or information about his supposed interaction with multiple victims.  To be precise, I asked a total of four simple questions.  None concerned names or information.  Here they are.

“I’m glad you have corresponded with some of the victims.  Is that a new development; as in the last week or so?” 

“Would you please answer my question above?  When did you begin to ‘correspond with some of the victims’?  And a follow up, you say ‘victims’ in the plural.  How many victims from the lawsuit have your corresponded with?”

“I’ve asked this before but how many is ‘some of the victims’ and when did you correspondent with them.  I assume in the past week if you did.  Is that correct?  By the way, you say victims, not families of the victims.  And you say ‘some,’ not a couple of victims.  Have you really communicated with ‘some’ of the 11 victims in the lawsuit?  I find your claim implausible for various reasons including the fact that the victims have been instructed by lawyers and law enforcement not to interact with others like yourself.  Have you inflated your claim?

I didn’t ask for names or information about Phil’s supposed correspondence and conversations because I trusted the three of you would take care of the matter and verify the facts.  I never thought this letter would be necessary.  Here’s what I said.  

“First, you men must confirm the facts.  That will be easy to do.  Ask Phil to prove he corresponded with and spoke to multiple victims in SGM by asking for his correspondence and phone log. … Once in your possession, I’d recommend you verify the correspondence and phone conversations by contacting the victims directly.”

Moreover, I already knew with a high degree of certainty that Phil’s interaction was limited to [Happymom] and knew I could confirm that fact if necessary.  I didn’t need names and I didn’t need information because the information concerning C.J.’s role in the conspiracy is already in my possession.  [Note: I redacted Happymom’s real name for this public post.  Happymom is her pseudonym.  I also redacted her children’s names and used their pseudonyms, Karen Koe and Karl Koe.]

For instance, [Happymom] likely passed on to Phil an overview of C.J.’s involvement in Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax as it pertained to her son and daughter (“the Koe children”).  But that is the very information I submitted as evidence in an affidavit filed with the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Maryland on March 25, 2013.  It included 14 exhibits.  Exhibits 11 and 12 pertained to the information most likely provided Phil. 

Here is a summary of those exhibits as I described them in my affidavit.

“Exhibit 11 is an email dated October 4, 2009 that establishes Defendant Mullery communicated directly with Defendant Mahaney (located at SGM headquarters in Maryland) about the sexual abuse of the Koe children.  Exhibit 12 is an email dated September 6, 2009 that establishes Defendants Gallo, D. Hinders and Mullery communicating directly with Defendant Mahaney about the sexual abuse of the Koe children.  (These exhibits are being filed under seal to protect the identities of the Koe children.)  Based on my knowledge of the workings of SGM executive management with the local pastors, I believe it likely that SGM executive management consulted also with V. Hinders about incidents of sexual abuse of children occurring in the Fairfax Church.”

I only cite this evidence to show I didn’t want or need names or information from Phil.  I already have them.

Phil goes on to say,

“I don’t know what kind of public embarrassment or reprisals you would subject these people to if I divulged that information.” 

The obvious answer is none.  This is an excuse for not being honest.  For the last three years, I have helped, protected, supported, and advocated for all the victims in the lawsuit including [Happymom and the Koe children].  The only information I have “divulged” is to lawyers, investigators, detectives, and prosecutors on behalf of the victims.  I would never do anything to harm their cause. 

He continues, 

“You have no right to that information in any case.  And I have neither the right nor any intention to make that information public.” 

This is the argument behind which Phil intends to cover up his lies.  Once again, I have not asked for names or information.  I have asked you to verify Phil has interacted with multiple victims of sexual abuse.  Information about the content of these supposed interactions is irrelevant.  The fact of these interactions is not.  There is no reason Phil cannot provide you the names of the victims with whom he corresponded and talked.

Later in the paragraph, he makes another groundless accusation when he says, “I’m not the least bit intimidated by your threats.”  This too is bizarre.  I have made no threats of any kind.  Far from it.  I have related to Phil in a gracious, respectful and redemptive manner while urging him to seek the Lord and turn from his sin.  There have been no threats.  There has been no intimidation.  Here is the sum total of my appeals.

“I am coming to you in private hoping to win you over to repentance for lying about the number of victims of sexual abuse you corresponded with and spoke to in Sovereign Grace Ministries.” 

“It quickly became clear you did not correspond with or talk to multiple victims of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  You were lying but rather than openly confront your deceit before all your friends [on Facebook], I sought to be gracious and give you another opportunity to be honest.”    

“Phil, I’ve taken the time to write you in obedience to Scripture and with a desire to win you over as a brother in Christ.  You are an elder and pastor in Grace Community Church.  You are the executive director of Grace to You.  Lying and deceit should be far from your lips and heart.  Therefore, I urge you to seek the Lord, turn from your sin, and make an open and honest confession on your Facebook page.  Then, may the grace of God fill your heart with power to overcome.”

Paragraph 3

“This e-mail campaign of yours has not helped your case, but please feel free to follow through with your threats if you feel so compelled.  My only suggestion is that you ought to do it in a more mature and serious manner if you wish to be taken seriously.  And to be absolutely clear: regardless of what you do or what threats you make, I’m not going to give you the names of people who have already been victimized and who do not want to get drawn into the seamy side of the scandals you are trying to foment online.”

Matthew 18:15-17 is not a threat.  It is a kindness.  Our Lord Jesus Christ seeks to restore stray sheep in his love and holiness.  That is what he is attempting to do with Phil.  He should be taking the Lord’s discipline “in a more mature and serious manner.”  Instead, he continues to insult, make false accusations, lie and cover up.

Phil reiterates, “And to be absolutely clear…I’m not going to give you the names of people who have already been victimized.”  Why?    Because I want to draw them into the seamy side of scandals I am trying to foment online.  This is another sinful judgment.

There is only one fact that needs to be established.  That is, did he interact with multiple victims of sexual abuse in the lawsuit as he proclaimed to thousands of people on his Facebook page and continues to assert in his email to you and me.  As I’ve said before, the task at hand is ever so easy and so simple to complete.  Just ask Phil for the names of the victims.  Then give them a call to verify or have Phil provide proof.  That is all that needs to be done.  You don’t need to know anything more.  Their names don’t need to be published.  Nor does the content of their conversations.  But here is the reality.  Phil won’t provide that information to anyone because it does not exist. 

Paragraph 4

“If your goal is to try to shame me publicly as a reprisal for the fact that I pointed out how devoid of substance your reams of leaked emails really are, you are playing to the wrong audience.  The people whom you have already emailed all know that you are a less-than-credible witness.  There are, however, certain districts on the Internet where the kind of gossip you like to spread is their stock in trade.  I know you realize that, and I have little doubt that you will eventually publish your false accusations in those forums, where they will be like red meat for people who love outrage.  Personally, I think that’s your real agenda in this little campaign of threats, because the men you chose to email with your complaint against me are not the proper people to contact if you want to treat your accusation as a Matthew 18 case.  You seem to have chosen those particular men because they are well-known pastors who have already voiced questions about your credibility.  Perhaps your plan is to try to embarrass those men, too, by complaining when they decline to do what you demand—something that they have no authority to do anyway.  It’s a foolish, childish tactic on your part.  But, then, that’s precisely what you are best known for.”

My goal from the beginning has been Phil’s restoration to Christ, not his public shame.  Nor have I been motivated by “a reprisal.”  I have no interest in retaliation.  I do have an interest in the truth because “God is Light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).  And “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Prov. 12:22).

That is why I encouraged Phil’s Facebook audience to actually read the “reams of leaked emails” that were “devoid of substance” because they would quickly see through his slanderous caricature.

Brent Detwiler  Now an appeal to all readers on this blog.  Please read the “600 pages” that Phil has repeatedly disparaged.  They are kindly and carefully written appeals to C.J. regarding longstanding and serious patterns of sin that are of a disqualifying nature. C.J. should not be in ministry.  They are not “disgruntled-employee-style ramblings.”  That is a slanderous caricature.  But here’s the thing.  You don’t have to believe me and you don’t have to believe Phil.  You can read and think about the contents and then form an opinion for yourself.  No one should trust Phil’s assessment and you don’t have to believe mine either.  You just need to read the evidence and decide if C.J. is above reproach.  They can all be read at http://static1.1.sqspcdn.com/.../Brent%27s+Documents...
Like · Reply · 2 · April 22 at 7:32pm

Anything I have written will stand up to scrutiny because I don’t publish false accusations.  The Documents and blog posts at BrentDetwiler.com are not comprised of rumors or whisperings (i.e. gossip).  That is why C.J. and Sovereign Grace Ministries have never challenged their factuality though I have repeated asked them to correct any erroneous information.  They, like Phil, have to attack me because they cannot reasonably attack what I have written.  Hush Fund Set Up by Top SGM Leaders to Meet the Demands of a SGM Pastor Whose Son Was Sexually Abused  is a good example of my work and use of primary sources.  Please read it.

Furthermore, I don’t publish in other forums with one exception.  Sometimes, I have made comments or posted links on SGMSurvivors.  Otherwise, I don’t publish in other forums.  I publish on http://www.brentdetwiler.com/ and provide a link on my Facebook page.  I send out a tweet to announce my post.  Occasionally, I send out important online articles to leaders, bloggers and media around the nation. 

People interested in evidentiary truth, read and share my posts with others.  Overwhelming, they are not people “who love outrage.”  If fact, those who the run the online forums I have in mind, conduct themselves in a manner better than Phil.  For example, I am reminded of Phil’s Facebook comment about those “who self-identify as victims of ‘abuse.’”  From my perspective, he is the one who loves outrage and provokes outrage.

Phil Johnson  You have basically the same pattern of swarming resentment in the blogosphere.   I’m more or less accustomed to it.

It’s no different in the real world, either: Stand in front of a lynch mob and try to reason with them and invariably the wrath of the mob will be poured out on you.  I learned that with my very first blog post, more than a decade ago.  I’m OK with it.  I’m not deterred or discouraged by such rhetoric.  Bring it.

The problem with this particular swarm of rancor monsters is that there are lots of people who self-identify as victims of “abuse” when in reality they just despise all authority, starting with the authority of Scripture.  They profess to hate bullying, but their actions betray an eagerness to berate, accuse, and impute the worst possible motives to anyone who fails to affirm their omni-directional resentment.  It is a potent flavor of spiritual abuse all its own, and it is as sick as any other form of spiritual abuse.

My heart goes out to _real_ victims, but the survivor-blog community is heavily populated with people who are the Bruce Jenners of spiritual abuse.  I’m not inclined to legitimize their resentment, any more than I’m inclined to lend Bruce the artifical “dignity” of calling him a “she.”
Like · Reply · 8 · April 15 at 3:40pm

I asked you men to serve as witnesses for the reasons I have already cited.  

“I’ve chosen you, John, since Phil is a pastor and elder in Grace Community Church, a Board of Director for Grace to You, and the Executive Director of Grace to You.  In all these capacities, he works for you.  You oversee him.” 

“I’ve chosen you, Todd and Tom, because you are Phil’s friends and you were following my interaction with Phil on Facebook during the time in which he lied.” 

When people sin, we call upon friends to help them turn from their sin.  True friends bring open rebuke and faithful wounds.  False friends conceal their love and dole out deceitful kisses.  

Prov 27:5-6 Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. 

Paul the apostle makes the same point.  We carry each other’s burdens and fulfill the law of love set forth by Christ when we seek to restore a brother caught in sin

Gal 6:1-2 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” 

John, Todd and Tom, I have not chosen you to embarrass you.  I have chosen you because you are Phil’s friends and reputed to be spiritual.  I don’t believe Phil when he implies you will “decline to do what [I] demand.” 

And I repudiate Phil’s claim that you “have no authority” to confirm the facts and seek to help him.  That is refuted by the clear teaching of Scripture.  Of course, you have the “authority” (i.e. God given responsibility) to act as witnesses. 

Summing up, Phil concludes paragraph 4 with another insult.  “It’s a foolish, childish tactic on your part.  But, then, that’s precisely what you are best known for.”  Now we come to his final paragraph.

Paragraph 5

“I realize you have never been very responsive to grown-up counsel, but let me offer this advice anyway: If on the off-chance I’m wrong about your real aim and you truly want to pursue your complaint against me as a case of church discipline, the proper forum in which to bring your accusation would be the board of elders at Grace Community Church.  The chairman of our board is Chris Hamilton.  And if you want to come across as someone more serious than an adolescent gamer living in his mom’s basement, you should send a proper letter via US Mail to Chris at the church address—not a Tweet, text, or email.”

Phil says, “The proper forum in which to bring your accusation would be the board of elders at Grace Community Church.”  And in the previous paragraph, “The men you chose to email with your complaint against me are not the proper people to contact if you want to treat your accusation as a Matthew 18 case.”  This is the other argument behind which Phil intends to cover up his lies.  He is seeking to silence you men.  That is, remove you from the process.  John, that appears to include you also.

Yet, both of these assertions are contrary to the teaching of Matthew 18:15-17.  Scripture does not require “two or three board members.”  The only requirement for witnesses is they be brothers in Christ.  That is clear from the text.  Phil is adding to the text and thereby distorting the text. 

Todd and Tom, you are the “proper people to contact” because you are brothers and “spiritual”.  The Scripture requires nothing more.  Therefore, I trust you men will act as faithful friends and serve as witnesses.  There is no biblical warrant for you not to do so.  In fact, to the contrary, you have a biblical obligation to help Phil and fulfill the law of Christ.  Moreover, Matthew 18 makes clear it is not up to him to determine who serves in this capacity.  He has no biblical grounds on which to dismiss you. 

Of course, all of this centrally applies to you John.  No one has a greater responsibility for Phil than you do.  You are his friend, pastor, and employer.  Here again is what I said in my May 23 email.  

“John, I expect you will lead this process so I am asking you to get back to me regarding your discovery and the outcome of your appeal to Phil.  I’d also urge you to read the entire Facebook conversation.  I’ve attached it for your convenience.  There are many other concerns that arise from Phil’s comments that you should carefully examine.” 

There is also another reason you men must serve as witnesses.  In Phil’s email, he repeatedly sins against me.  You are eye witnesses to his behavior.  These sins parallel his sins during the Facebook conversation.  For example, in both contexts he is harsh, intemperate, imprudent, insensible, contentious, arrogant and pugnacious.  These appear to be patterns and they are disqualifying in nature according to Paul the apostle (1 Tim 3:2-3; Tit 1:7-8).   

Therefore, I must ask you to address these transgressions.  Phil has sinned against me and I would like you to call him to repentance.  Not for my sake, but for his sake.  More importantly, I want you to address his heart.  He is in desperate need of pastoral care and accountability. 

For example, consider his hypocrisy when he calls self-identified victims of spiritual abuse a “lynch mob,” “a swarm of rancor monsters” and “the Bruce Jenners of spiritual abuse” all the while condemning them for their supposed “eagerness to berate, accuse, and impute the worst possible motives to anyone who fails to affirm their omni-directional resentment.”

From my perspective, Phil doesn’t know how to communicate in a mature and respectful manner when corrected or challenged.  In this final paragraph, he continues to mock and belittle. 

“I realize you have never been very responsive to grown-up counsel, but let me offer this advice anyway.”

“And if you want to come across as someone more serious than an adolescent gamer living in his mom’s basement, you should send a proper letter via US Mail to Chris at the church address—not a Tweet, text, or email.”

By the way John, I will not be involving Chris unless Phil remains unrepentant.  If you feel the need to update him, however, you have my permission. 

Now back to the central issue.  That is Phil’s statement on April 21 that “I have corresponded with some of the victims via email” and “none of the victims who have spoken to me have offered any proof that Mahaney actively participated in the coverup.”  Phil is defending C.J.’s innocence based upon his supposed interactions with multiple victims. 

There are 11 victims in the lawsuit which is referred to as the Second Amended Complaint (SAC).  You can read it here. 

The lawsuit was filed on May 14, 2013.  It was later dismissed on technicalities.  Therefore, the substance of the complaint was never ruled upon by a judge or tried by a jury. 

The lawyers for SGM summarized the results of the hearing this way.   

“Judge Burrell dismissed 9 of the 11 plaintiffs on the grounds that their claims fell outside of the statute of limitations.  She also dismissed the claims of all 11 plaintiffs as to the Virginia-based defendants (for lack of jurisdiction).” (SGM Board: Update on the Amended Civil Lawsuit, May 20, 2013)

The Board of Directors for SGM clarified the implications of this summary.       

“Please note that this ruling does not specifically address the substance of the plaintiffs’ allegations.” (SGM Board: Update on the Amended Civil Lawsuit, May 20, 2013)

Five of the plaintiffs went public and used their real names in the lawsuit for greater credibility.  They are as follows: 

  1. Heather Thompson Bryant
  2. Jessica Roberts Thomas
  3. Dara Sutherland
  4. Renee Palmer Gamby
  5. James Roberts 

Six of the plaintiffs remained anonymous and used pseudonyms in the lawsuit.  They are as follows:

  1. Jane Doe
  2. Karen Koe
  3. Karl Koe
  4. Carla Coe
  5. Grace Goe
  6. Donna Doe

Phil did not correspond and talk with any of these victims with one possible exception that is highly doubtful.  Here is the evidence.

Karen Koe and Karl Koe

Phil interacted with [Happymom] after she contacted him using messenger on Facebook.  [Happymom] is the mother of [Karen Koe] and [Karl Koe].  Both were victims of sexual abuse and plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

[Happymom] Phil, while I’m sure you’ve got tons of PM’s [private messages], would you please take a moment and read the one I sent?  Thank you.
Like · Reply · 4 · April 15 at 12:27pm 

Julie Anne Smith “My heart goes out to _real_ victims” Publicly?  Because I see far more ranting about people like me than a modicum of support for real victims.  BTW, please respond to [Happymom’s] pm.  She’s close to the SGM situation.
Like · Reply · 2 · April 15 at 4:54pm 

This is the first time Phil had any interaction with anyone involved in the lawsuit.  [Happymom] was well intentioned in contacting Phil, but this contact would not have been approved by her lawyers, Susan Burke and William O’Neil. 

I contacted [Happymom] before I knew she had messaged Phil. 

From: Brent Detwiler
Date: April 26, 2016 at 1:01:04 PM EDT
To: [Happymom]
Subject: Phil Johnson

Hi [Happymom],

Could you answer a quick question for me?  Do you know Phil Johnson?  He works for John MacArthur.  He claims to be corresponding with some victims in the old lawsuit against SGM.  Has he been in touch with you?

Thanks
Brent 

By the next day, I had read all the comments on Phil’s Facebook page and noticed her communication. 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 6:35 AM
To: [Happymom]
Subject: Phil Johnson 

Good morning [Happymom], 

I’m now aware you have communicated with Phil … I do have a follow up question, however.  Could you tell me if Phil corresponded with any of your children?  I doubt it.  I assume his correspondences was limited to you.  Is that correct? 

For whatever reason, [Happymom] did not respond to my questions.  Therefore, I decided to contact her son [Karl Koe].  I have been helping, encouraging, and advocating for the [family] over the past three years. 

4/30, 6:12am
Brent Detwiler 

Hello [Karl Koe],

A pastor by the name of Phil Johnson is telling people he has been corresponding with some of the victims in the Second Amended Complaint.  I don’t think he is being truthful.  Has he had any contact with you?  Thanks for your help.  Standing with you.

4/30, 6:49am
[Karl Koe] 

Thanks Brent.  I haven’t been in contact with him.

4/30, 6:56am
Brent Detwiler
 

Thank you [Karl Koe]. 

5/13, 1:54pm
Brent Detwiler

A follow up if I may.  Do you know if [Karen Koe] has corresponded with or talked to Phil Johnson?  Thanks.

5/31, 7:32am
[Karl Koe
]

Hey Brent, didn’t intentionally ignore you.  I was out of town for work and forgot to respond. … I highly doubt [Karen Koe] is or has ever been in communication with Phil, but my parents are better suited to answer that.

5/31, 11:53am
Brent Detwiler
  

I asked your mother but she has not replied. 

The only family member from the lawsuit in contact with Phil was [Happymom].  Two of her children, [Karl Koe and Karen Koe], were plaintiffs in the lawsuit and victims of sexual abuse in SGM [Karl Koe allegedly by a pastor’s son].  If Phil was corresponding and talking with any of the victims, it would have been with them.  And yet, [Karl Koe] had no contact and he highly doubts [Karen Koe, his sister] was ever in communication with Phil.  

That’s because she is one of the plaintiffs in the upcoming lawsuit in Virginia.  [Karen Koe’s] lawyers would never let her share evidence with Phil that will be used in the hearing.  For this and other reasons, it is highly doubtful she talked to Phil about C.J.’s role in the conspiracy to cover up child sexual abuse. 

Renee Palmer Gamby

Pam Palmer is the mother of Renee Palmer Gamby.  Pam has been the most active and vocal of all the victims or family members in speaking out against child sexual abuse.  If Phil talked to anyone besides [Happymom], it would likely have been Pam and her daughter, Renee.  That is not the case.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 12:57 PM
To: Pam Palmer
Subject: Phil Johnson

Hi Pam,

Could you answer a quick question for me?  Do you know Phil Johnson?  He works for John MacArthur.  He claims to be corresponding with some victims in the old lawsuit against SGM.  Has he been in touch with you?

Thanks
Brent 

From: Pamela Palmer
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 1:49 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Phil Johnson

No, it is not me.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 2:42 PM
To: Pamela Palmer
Subject: RE: Phil Johnson

Thanks Pam.  I assume the same is true for Renee.  Is that correct? 

From: Pamela Palmer [mailto:palmerp@live.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 3:11 PM
To: Brent Detwiler abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Phil Johnson 

Yes, it is not anyone from our family.

Heather Thompson Bryant

After these initial contacts concerning [Karen Koe], [Karl Koe], and Renee Palmer Gamby; I made contact with the remaining victims that went public using their real names in the lawsuit.  None of them had any contact with Phil. 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 8:29 AM
To: Heather Thompson Bryant
Subject: Phil Johnson

Hello Heather,

Could you answer a quick question for me?

A man by the name of Phil Johnson claims he has been corresponding with and talking to victims in the Second Amended Complaint.  Based upon that interaction, he is saying there is no evidence for a conspiracy.  I don’t think he is being truthful about his contact with multiple victims.

I just think he is exaggerating his claim and then using it to say there is no evidence.  Anyway, could you tell me if he has been in contact with you?

Thanks for your help.
Brent

From: Heather Thompson Bryant 
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 10:54 AM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Re: Phil Johnson

1)  No.  Never been contacted by him.  If I had been, I would have immediately reported him to Susan [Burke] & told him I’m not at liberty to speak with him. 

2)  I’d be shocked if ANY victim would speak to someone outside of Susan’s approval.   Maybe he’s spoken to a parent, but I’m pretty confident he has not spoken to actual victims, let alone multiple connected persons. 

3)  Only a few of us went public on the lawsuit, so the majority were pseudonyms.  He wouldn’t know who most of the victims are anyway.  I believe he’s grossly exaggerating; if not all out lying. 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 4:15 PM
To: Heather Thompson Bryant
Subject: RE: Phil Johnson 

I don’t believe Phil is being truthful.  I’ve contacted other victims.  No one has said they have been in contact with him.  Like you said, “I’d be shocked if ANY victim would speak to someone outside of Susan’s approval.”  And as you well know, Susan is not giving that kind of approval.  She doesn’t want victims talking to people like Phil.  For instance, I asked Pam [Palmer] a question about the case back in January.  Dominic [her husband] responded for her. 

From: Dominic Palmer
Sent: Monday, January 25, 2016 8:54 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Responding to your message 

Hey Brent, 

Pam is tied up with other commitments right now, so I’m responding to the FB message that you sent her today. … I appreciate your desire to help; however, our legal team and law enforcement have advised us not to share details about the case.  …  If you have further questions, you can contact our attorney, Ms. Burke. 

Dominic 

What is true for Dom, Pam and Renee is also true for the other victims and families according to my understanding.  You’ve told me the same in the past.    

Well, I am not hopeful Phil will be open and honest.  I only hope John MacArthur, and two other men [Todd Pruitt and Tom Chantry] I’ve asked to be witnesses, will faithfully fulfill Matthew 18:15-17 and examine the evidence without partiality or favoritism so “every fact may be confirmed.” 

All of you are in my prayers as the new lawsuit approaches.  May God grant justice for his glory and the good of children.

Yours in Christ,
Brent

Dara Sutherland

Dara Sutherland represented her younger sister in the lawsuit.  Her sister was sexual abused by her father and was “psychologically disabled from the assaults” when the lawsuit was filed.  Her name was not used in the lawsuit so I have deleted it below.      

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 9:49 AM
To: Dara Sutherland
Subject: Phil Johnson

Hello Dara, 

Could you answer a quick question for me?

A man by the name of Phil Johnson claims he has been corresponding with and talking to victims in the Second Amended Complaint.  Based upon that interaction, he is saying there is no evidence for a conspiracy.  I don’t think he is being truthful about his contact with multiple victims.

I just think he is making up or exaggerating his claim and then using it to say there is no evidence.  Anyway, could you tell me if he has been in contact with you or [your sister] for that matter?

Thanks for your help.
Brent

From: imadarable 
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 4:14 PM
To: Brent Detwiler abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Phil Johnson

No idea who that is and I’m sure he hasn’t talked to my sister.  

Dara 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 4:16 PM
To: imadarable
Subject: RE: Phil Johnson

Thanks Dara.

Jessica Roberts Thomas

Jessica is in law school at Georgetown Law in Washington D.C.  You can read her account of abuse in my post, John Loftness in Focus – Former Chairman of the SGM Board & Alleged Sexual Sadist

5/25, 8:02am
Brent Detwiler 

Hi Jessica, 

Could you answer a quick question for me? 

A man by the name of Phil Johnson claims he has been corresponding with and talking to victims in the Second Amended Complaint. Based upon that interaction, he is saying there is no evidence for a conspiracy. I don’t think he is being truthful about his contact with multiple victims. 

I just think he is exaggerating his claim and then using it to say there is no evidence. Anyway, has he been in contact with you? 

Thanks for your help.
Brent 

5/26, 3:34pm
Jessica Roberts-Thomas

I have never heard of him.

5/27, 7:48am
Brent Detwiler

Thanks for letting me know Jessica.  I continue to lift you and James up in prayer.

You’ve been through so much.  May the Lord guide your steps in terms of further action and grant divine justice.  You have been so courageous!

James Roberts

James Roberts is brother to Jessica Roberts Thomas.  He also goes by his Hawaiian name, Kimo Kaleohano.

5/26, 11:39am
Brent Detwiler 

Hey Kimo, 

I don’t know if you received my email so I’m trying messenger. 

A man by the name of Phil Johnson claims he has been corresponding with and talking to victims in the Second Amended Complaint.  Based upon that interaction, he is saying there is no evidence for a conspiracy.  I don’t think he is being truthful about his contact with multiple victims. 

I just think he is exaggerating his claim and then using it to say there is no evidence. Anyway, has he been in contact with you? 

I’ve heard back from Pam, Heather, and Dara.  None of them were contacted by Johnson.  How about you and Jessica?  I could really use your help on this one. 

Thanks
Brent 

5/26, 6:53pm
Kimo Kaleohano
 

No I have never been contacted by anyone other than our attorneys.

I’ll ask my sister if she was contacted.  Supposedly someone was supposed to do an independent investigation for CLC [Covenant Life Church] or something but I never heard from that person either.

5/27, 8:04am
Brent Detwiler

FYI.  Jessica sent me a note to say she was not contacted by Johnson.

That was Lars Liebeler.  He was the lawyer hired by CLC to do an “independent” investigation and yet he did not contact victims like you.  He talked to the predators but not their victims in the lawsuit.  Hardly independent.

I’ve never asked Jessica but I assume Liebeler didn’t contact her either.  Is that true?

I thank God for the stand you have taken and the fact Morales is in jail for his heinous crimes.

Jane Doe, Carla Coe, Grace Goe, Donna Doe

There are four remaining victims.  I am intimately familiar with all their stories.  They have all chosen to remain anonymous.  None of them would reveal their true identities to Phil.  Let me elaborate.  

Jane Doe and her parents talked with Tiffany Stanley from Washingtonian magazine for her article, The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Church. That is the first time they have made any statement since the lawsuit was filed in May 2013.  In the article, Jane Doe used her middle name [Ann] as did her father [Edward].  The mother used an alias.  You can read the article here.  

I talked to the mother of Jane Doe in May 2014 at the Nathanial Morales trial.  He sexual abused multiple boys in Covenant Life Church when C.J. was the senior pastor.  The pastors knew about his abuse but did not report him to law enforcement.  Morales was sentenced to 40 years.  

I also sent her evidence in September 2014 concerning the conspiracy in Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax involving C.J.  Since then we have had no contact.  Nor have the Doe’s been in contact with other victims according to Heather Thompson Bryant.  That is understandable.  They are wise, careful and intelligent and their case is active.    

From: Heather Thompson Bryant
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 11:28 AM
To: Brent Detwiler abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Phil Johnson

I have not corresponded with [the mother of Jane Doe] in quite a while.  To my knowledge, she doesn’t interact with any of “us”, and rarely did.  I’m pretty sure there’s not a chance she would talk to him [Phil].  They’ve remained extremely private & out of the public eye. 

Ms. Bryant is correct.  They have “rarely” interacted with fellow plaintiffs.  They are not going to be interacting with Phil.  They have also remained anonymous.  

That may change because Jane Doe is preparing for the new lawsuit to be filed in Virginia.  She will be a plaintiff.  All the more reason not to talk with Phil.  The Doe’s would never jeopardize their civil case by talking to Phil.  Furthermore, her lawyers, Susan Burke and William O’Neil, would forbid the passing on of evidence to Phil that will be used in the proceedings regarding C.J.  There is no chance this family has been interacting with Phil.  

Next.  I talked to the parents [Charlie & Greer Llewellyn] of Grace Goe in July 2015.  She is in contact with no one because she is focused on profound personal problems.  I helped, advised, and counseled her for 7 months.  She gave me permission to use her real name in my post, The Conspiracy Surrounding Plaintiff Grace Goe at Covenant Life Church, but she is withdrawn now.  She has no knowledge of Phil Johnson and she is in contact with no one regarding evidence against C.J. 

The same is true of Carla Coe.  I helped, advised and counseled her for two years.  I was also interviewed by law enforcement on her behalf.  She is in touch with no one and uses different aliases to disguise her identity.  I could not reach her.  I also asked Pam Palmer if anyone from the lawsuit was in touch with her.  The answer was no.   

5/27, 7:29am
Brent Detwiler 

Hey Pam...do you know how [Carla Coe] is doing? 

5/27, 9:19am
Pamela Palmer
 

No, sorry, I don’t know.

5/27, 9:39am
Brent Detwiler

Has she dropped out of sight?

5/27, 12:39pm
Pamela Palmer

Yes.

5/27, 2:08pm
Brent Detwiler

Oh my.  Thanks.

Carla Koe has no knowledge of Phil and would never reveal her identity to him even if she did.  She has often asked me to conceal her identity.  Furthermore, she is just trying to survive the trauma she has suffered.  She is not at all active in trying to make a case against C.J.  Phil did not correspond or talk with her. 

Lastly, Donna Doe.  She has likewise been silent and remains anonymous.  She is not talking about her abuse.  She is not in contact with others.  For example, she did not participate in the story by Tiffany Stanley in the Washingtonian.  I am also intimately familiar with her story.  It is all about tragedy.  Her father sexually abused her.  Her mother divorced her father.  Her mother is now “married” to a woman.  This mother and daughter would never talk to Phil.  

The only victim Phil may have talked to was [Karen Koe] and that is extremely unlikely.  And yet he claims to have corresponded and talked with three or more victims from the Second Amended Complaint between April 15 and 21 which he didn’t even read until April 14 at the urging of Janet Mefferd.  

John, Todd and Tom, this is extremely serious!  Phil has lied, bullied, deceived, falsely accused, and sought to manipulate the process in order to cover up his sin.  You men are the only men privy to this information because I have carefully followed the second step of Matthew 18:15-17.  It is time for you to fulfill your holy responsibility and rebuke Phil in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He has continued in sin and his sin has worsened.    

If he repents, he will return to me and to his Facebook friends to confess his sins and ask forgiveness in keeping with your teaching on the subject, John, which I believe is in accord with Scripture.  This confession must be specific and address the sinful motivations of his heart.   

“Confession of guilt must always be made to God.  Confession is also owed to whomever our sin has injured.  The arena of confession should be as large as the audience of the original offense.  Public transgressions call for public confession. … Lies should be confessed and the truth communicated at least as widely as the lie was.” (John MacArthur,Answering Tough Questions About Forgiveness,” May 2, 2016) 

Brothers, I never expected it would be necessary to prove Phil’s guilt.  I thought he would repent or you would confirm the facts in keeping with Christ’s command in Matthew 18:16 without necessitating in depth involvement by me. 

Two weeks ago, I asked the following of you.  

“First, you men must confirm the facts.  That will be easy to do.  Ask Phil to prove he corresponded with and spoke to multiple victims in SGM by asking for his correspondence and phone log. … Second, you must appeal to him, like I appealed to him.  I sincerely hope he listens to the three of you and repents. 

“John, I expect you will lead this process so I am asking you to get back to me regarding your discovery and the outcome of your appeal to Phil. … Please send me an update if you are unable to finish the discovery and appeal process by Wednesday, June 1.  I’d like to be kept current, which is appropriate, since I’ve initiated this redemptive action.” 

I did not receive an update and I don’t know if or how your discovery and appeal went with Phil.  John, I trust you will weigh in on this situation very soon.  You more than anyone, have a responsibility before the Lord to care for Phil’s soul and carry out Matthew 18:15-17 as you have with other believers.  He is in need of your help.  Please write me or call me at 704-497-7986 with an update.  This situation requires your direct and immediate involvement.  

John, Todd and Tom, please seek out Phil’s repentance like the woman in The Parable of the Lost Coin so we can all rejoice in the presence of God. 

Luke 15:8-10 “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? [9] When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ [10] In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” 

Grace to you!
Brent 

 

SECTION 2:  Todd Pruitt & Tom Chantry Respond to My Appeal for Phil Johnson’s Repentance by Telling Me to “Stop This Nonsense.”  

Todd and Tom responded with insults and excuses.  They refused to confront Phil.  This kind of compromise is so rampant in evangelical circles where high powered celebrity leaders are protected by their colleagues out of cowardice and selfish ambition.  You don’t climb the evangelical ladder by confronting well known evangelical leaders.  Todd and Tom were not about to obey Scripture and reprove Phil knowing they would get in trouble.  Instead, they sinfully protected Phil and stayed in the good graces of John MacArthur.  

From: Todd Pruitt [mailto:todd@cov-pres.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 12:36 PM
To: Brent Detwiler abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Cc: John MacArthur <receptionist@gracechurch.org>; Tom Chantry <tjchantry@gmail.com>; Phil Johnson <phil@spurgeon.org>; phil@gty.org
Subject: Re: Evidence for John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, & Tom Chantry 

Brent, 

You truly need to stop this nonsense.  

Todd Pruitt 

From: Tom Chantry [mailto:tjchantry@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 12:37 PM
To: Todd Pruitt todd@cov-pres.org
Cc: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>; John MacArthur <receptionist@gracechurch.org>; Phil Johnson <phil@spurgeon.org>; Charles Spurgeon <phil@gty.org>
Subject: Re: Evidence for John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, & Tom Chantry 

Brent,

I agree with Todd; this must stop.  Todd and I have no authority over Phil.  He has directed you to those who do. 

Tom Chantry 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, August 21, 2016 1:05 PM
To: Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Evidence for John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, & Tom Chantry 

I’ve been delayed in getting back to you [Todd & Tom] due to major developments in our lives over the past couple months. 

Tom, you are a textualist.  Why then are you imposing upon the text a meaning not found in the text? 

Matthew 18:16 does not say, “Take one or two more with you who are in authority over the person”?  No!  It says take one or two brothers with you.  The second step does not require pastoral involvement. 

Likewise, Galatians 6:1 does not say, “Your who are in authority over, restore such a one.”  The text says, “You who are spiritual, restore such a one.”  Are only those in authority, spiritual?  No!    

The Word of God teaches, “And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14). 

As John points out in his commentary. 

Noutheteo (to admonish) carries the ideas of encouraging, warning, and advising.  It is a comprehensive term for counseling.  In this context, it refers to coming alongside another Christian for spiritual and moral counseling.  Paul is not referring to a special gift of counseling, but of the duty and responsibility that every believer has for encouraging and strengthening other believers.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary – Romans 9-16, p. 328)

You and Todd don’t need to have “authority over Phil” in order to admonish Phil.  The Bible’s teaching on this matter is perspicuous.  Therefore, stop adding to Scripture in order to disobey Scripture.  Rather, submit yourself to the authority of Scripture and appeal for Phil’s repentance.  That is your biblically defined duty.  

Todd, you say, “You truly need to stop this nonsense.”  Tom, you say, “I agree with Todd; this must stop.”  

Nonsense means: 1) Spoken or written words that have no meaning or make no sense.  2) Foolish or unacceptable behavior. 

Do you really think Matthew 18:16, Galatians 6:1 and Romans 15:14 “have no meaning” in relation to Phil?  Do you really think the incontrovertible evidence against Phil “makes no sense?”   If so, then you are the ones who truly need to stop the nonsense.  By this I mean your foolish and unacceptable behavior in the sight of God.  

You men know Phil is guilty of very serious lying, deceit and bullying and yet you refuse to correct him as a brother in Christ.  You are doing exactly what Jesus condemned in Mark 7:7-13 when religious leaders made religious excuses for not financially supporting their elderly parents.  Jesus said, “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”  In like manner, your refusing to confront Phil because you “have no authority over Phil” is a man-made legalism that violates the clear teaching of Scripture.   

You don’t need to be his pastor.  You don’t need to be a member of his church.  You just need to be a faithful friend concerned for his soul.  The charges I have brought are not nonsense.  They are true.  Phil did not interact with victims of child sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  That has been proven.  Therefore, hold him accountable for his duplicity and attendant sins.    

Proverbs 27:5-6 (NASB) says, “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”  If you love Phil, you will rebuke him in the open.  If you hate him, you will continue to enable him and cover up for him.  

I sincerely pray both of you stop making excuses and start obeying the Bible in this matter.  Please, for his good, for your good, for the good of others, and for the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ; rebuke your supposed friend and direct him to public repentance and confession.  

[Note: I did not hear back from Todd Pruitt or Tom Chantry.] 

 

SECTION 3 – My First Letter to Chris Hamilton, Chairman of the Elder Board for Grace Community Church, Regarding Phil Johnson & the Need for Discipline 

Mr. Chris Hamilton
Chairman of the Board of Elders
Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA   91352 

April 20, 2017 

Dear Mr. Hamilton, 

Over the past year, I have corrected Phil Johnson in private regarding serious issues of sin in keeping with Matthew 18:15.  He remains obstinate and unrepentant.  These issues therefore need to be pursued as a matter of church discipline.  

In this regard, Phil instructed me to contact you as the proper forum via a formal letter so an official process can be undertaken.  He said,        

“If on the off-chance I’m wrong about your real aim and you truly want to pursue your complaint against me as a case of church discipline, the proper forum in which to bring your accusation would be the board of elders at Grace Community Church.  The chairman of our board is Chris Hamilton.”  

To commence your investigation, I have included 31 pages of documentation.  I previously sent this material to John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, and Tom Chantry but Phil redirected me to you as the proper authority in a case of church discipline. 

The accusations I bring are not minor.  I consider them disqualifying in keeping with Scripture and the teaching of Pastor MacArthur.  Phil, on the other hand, considers them “foolishness,” “groundless” and “false.”  As you study the evidence, I believe you will quickly discover his sins in the form of pride, deceit, and abusive speech are “quite evident” (1 Tim. 5:24).  

Here is the email he sent directing me to contact you.  

From: Phil Johnson [mailto:phil@gty.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 1:35 PM
To: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>; John MacArthur <receptionist@gracechurch.org>; Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Appeal to Phil Johnson - Matthew 18:16

Brent, 

You really ought to stop this foolishness.  I’m not sure why you feel compelled to publish groundless accusations, but you seem to think this is your calling, or your spiritual gift. What you are doing here is just another example of your pattern of making false accusations without evidence. 

I’ve ignored your demand for names and information about my private correspondence with victims of the SGM scandal because it’s simply none of your business whom I have talked to and what they said.  I don’t know what kind of public embarrassment or reprisals you would subject these people to if I divulged that information.  You have no right to that information in any case.  And I have neither the right nor any intention to make that information public.  Say whatever you like about me as publicly as you like.  I’m not the least bit intimidated by your threats.  Your credibility is already nil among people whose judgment or opinions matter to me. 

This e-mail campaign of yours has not helped your case, but please feel free to follow through with your threats if you feel so compelled.  My only suggestion is that you ought to do it in a more mature and serious manner if you wish to be taken seriously.  And to be absolutely clear: regardless of what you do or what threats you make, I’m not going to give you the names of people who have already been victimized and who do not want to get drawn into the seamy side of the scandals you are trying to foment online. 

If your goal is to try to shame me publicly as a reprisal for the fact that I pointed out how devoid of substance your reams of leaked emails really are, you are playing to the wrong audience.  The people whom you have already emailed all know that you are a less-than-credible witness.  There are, however, certain districts on the Internet where the kind of gossip you like to spread is their stock in trade.  I know you realize that, and I have little doubt that you will eventually publish your false accusations in those forums, where they will be like red meat for people who love outrage.  Personally, I think that’s your real agenda in this little campaign of threats, because the men you chose to email with your complaint against me are not the proper people to contact if you want to treat your accusation as a Matthew 18 case.  You seem to have chosen those particular men because they are well-known pastors who have already voiced questions about your credibility.  Perhaps your plan is to try to embarrass those men, too, by complaining when they decline to do what you demand—something that they have no authority to do anyway.  It’s a foolish, childish tactic on your part.  But, then, that’s precisely what you are best known for. 

I realize you have never been very responsive to grown-up counsel, but let me offer this advice anyway: If on the off-chance I’m wrong about your real aim and you truly want to pursue your complaint against me as a case of church discipline, the proper forum in which to bring your accusation would be the board of elders at Grace Community Church.  The chairman of our board is Chris Hamilton.  And if you want to come across as someone more serious than an adolescent gamer living in his mom’s basement, you should send a proper letter via US Mail to Chris at the church address—not a Tweet, text, or email. 

The church address: 

Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352 

-- Phil Johnson
http://www.gty.org

I have kept this matter private.  I’ve not talked to others about it.  Rather, I am coming to you in obedience to Matthew 18:16 and 1 Timothy 5:19-21.  I am asking you to study the evidence and examine the accusations against Phil without bias or partiality in the presence of God, Christ Jesus and his holy angels as Paul the apostle commands.  

Once completed, please send me a report of your findings and let me know how you plan to proceed.  You may write, call or email me.  I am also happy to interact with you in any form as you do the investigation to answer questions or help in any other manner.  

Lastly, I would appreciate hearing from you upon receipt of this letter that a disciplinary investigation of Phil will commence.  I’d also appreciate knowing how long you expect that investigation to last.  

My interaction with Phil has left me profoundly concerned for his good.  I sincerely hope our efforts result in his repentance and transformation for the glory of God.  

Grace to you! 
A. Brent Detwiler 

 

SECTION 4 – My Second Letter to Chris Hamilton Conveying Serious Concerns Arising from Our Phone Call When He Told Me to “Drop the Matter” 

Mr. Chris Hamilton
Chairman of the Board of Elders
Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA   91352

May 15, 2017

Dear Chris,

Thank you for calling me on Monday, May 1.  Though we differed on subjects of great importance, I genuinely appreciated our interaction. 

I wanted to send my thoughts on our 30-minute conversation and follow up on some topics we discussed.  I am glad to speak again.  You used a “No Caller ID” so I don’t have a number by which to contact you.  I also contacted Paul Twiss to ask if you would provide an email address.  He instructed me to use regular mail. 

During our conversation, you accused me of not following the first step found in Matthew 18:15.  I pointed out that was manifestly untrue.  I also conveyed my deep concern that you could be wrong about so basic an issue and how it affected my confidence in your comprehension of the issues.  I directed you back to my May 18, 2016 letter to Phil.  I quote in part.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 9:59 AM
To: Phil Johnson phil@spurgeon.org
Subject: A Private Appeal for Repentance
Importance: High 

Hello Phil, 

I am coming to you in private hoping to win you over to repentance for lying about the number of victims of sexual abuse you corresponded with and spoke to in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  

Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” … 

I waited six days to hear back from Phil.  When he did not respond to my appeal, I contacted John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, and Tom Chantry.  I quote in part. 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, May 23, 2016 4:26 PM
To: John MacArthur <jmac@gracechurch.org>; receptionist@gracechurch.org; Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry tjchantry@gmail.com
Cc: Phil Johnson phil@spurgeon.org
Subject: Appeal to Phil Johnson - Matthew 18:16
Importance: High

Dear John, Todd, and Tom, 

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

A week ago, I appealed to Phil Johnson in private asking him to repent for lying in public and make a confession to those against whom he sinned.  He has not listened to my appeal.  I am therefore, under obligation to enlist two or three additional witnesses. … 

Chris, I have been very careful to follow the Bible. 

You also accused me of calling Phil an unbeliever.  I quickly and firmly corrected you.  It was a charge entirely without basis.  I’ve never remotely said anything about Phil not being a Christian.  I have approached him and affirmed him as a brother in Christ in all my correspondence.  Again, I conveyed how such a judgement affected my confidence in you.  I was rather shocked by the charge. 

I’ve been very clear that the issues with Phil are about sanctification, not salvation.  In this regard, Matthew 18:15-17 applies to him as a brother and 1 Timothy 5:19-21 applies to him as an elder.  I pointed this out to you. 

Regarding my allegation that Phil has lied and deceived, you claimed he is innocent.  I asked how you came to that conclusion.  You would not tell me.  I asked you to provide evidence supporting your claim.  You repeatedly and emphatically refused.  I asked why you would not provide evidence.  Again, no answer.  I even asked what kind of evidence you had.  You would not answer the question.  

I repeatedly appealed and pointed out how easy it was to prove Phil’s supposed innocence by providing his phone log or email history proving he interacted with multiple victims from the lawsuit as he claimed.  

Like I told you, and told Phil, I didn’t need to know what he talked about with the victims because I know their stories like the back of my hand.  I pressed and said you appeared to be covering up for Phil. 

You kept insisting I must “drop it,” “move on,” and “trust” you.  I said I’d love to move on if you provided evidence.  I also told you I don’t think there is evidence and that is why you were not forthcoming.  In this regard, I used President Reagan famous line in his dealings with the Soviet Union, “Trust, but verify.”  Of course, I am not comparing you to a communist regime but Reagan’s approach is required in this situation.  You didn’t budge.  You refused to provide any proof whatsoever.     

I thereby stand by my assertion.

“The only victim Phil may have talked to was [Karla Koe, pseudonym] and that is extremely unlikely.  And yet he claims to have corresponded and talked with three or more victims from the Second Amended Complaint between April 15 and 21 which he didn’t even read until April 14.” (Letter to John MacArthur, Todd Pruitt, & Tom Chantry, June 8, 2016)  

You also repeatedly said I was “not listening.”  That was not true.  I was listening very carefully.  I was not agreeing, however.  I corrected you for equating not listening with not agreeing and mentioned in passing this kind of charge is often made by spiritually abusive leaders.  It has the effect of silencing.  

Chris, my accusations (in the biblical sense) against Phil are based upon overwhelming evidence.  You have the obligation to disprove the evidence.  Your refusal to do so only confirms my perspective.  Again, I welcome proof but I am not going to accept your claim of innocence (not lying) without it.  Trust, but verify. 

The second half of our conversation shifted to Phil’s abusive speech.  You told me you “cringed” when you read the Facebook discussion from April 2016.  You also said you agreed with me “100 percent” that Phil was “harsh.”  I expressed my sincere appreciation for your perspective but also made clear it was inadequate.  

In this context, you justified Phil by saying he is “open, honest, and truthful” to a fault and that is the reason he was so “blunt.”  I challenged this assessment and exhorted you to use biblical categories in describing Phil’s sins.  

I said he was authoritarian, heavy-handed, and guilty of bullying.  I also pointed out multiple qualifications from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 that Phil does not meet.  For example, he is not gentle, sensible or temperate but contentious and pugnacious.  I referenced this paragraph from my 31-page letter to John, Todd and Tom on June 8, 2016. 

“There is also another reason you men must serve as witnesses.  In Phil’s email, he repeatedly sins against me.  You are eye witnesses to his behavior.  These sins parallel his sins during the Facebook conversation.  For example, in both contexts he is harsh, intemperate, imprudent, insensible, contentious, arrogant and pugnacious.  These appear to be patterns and they are disqualifying in nature according to Paul the apostle (1 Tim 3:2-3; Tit 1:7-8).”    

You sought to assure me that Phil was being held “accountable” and on that basis alone asked me again to drop my appeal for repentance, move on and trust you.  I wish that were possible but there has been no fruit of repentance.  In fact, he continues in sin.  Here is an excerpt from a March 30, 2017 tweet.

ᴾʰᶤˡ ᴶᵒʰᶰˢᵒᶰ‏ @Phil_Johnson_  Mar 30 

To the chorus of complaints, insults, and accusations currently coming from the survivor-blog community: … 

Though I have absolutely no connection with SGM, I deplore the execrable abuse and subsequent cover-up that took place in that denomination.  I haven’t made any personal accusations against CJ Mahaney in that mess because I haven’t seen any actual proof that he was personally involved in the abuse or the cover-up.  (I have already been scorned by the survivor community and threatened by Brent Detwiler merely for saying that so you can save your breath this time).  But I still don’t think Mr. Detwiler’s famous leaked emails provided actual prove that CJ bears personal responsibility for the sexual abuse of children.  Until I see proof of his guilt, I’m going to stick with my conscience on that, rather than jumping on anyone’s bandwagon.” 

This is characteristic of Phil.  He slanders me when he says, “I have already been…threatened by Brent Detwiler merely for saying that so you can save your breath this time).”  I have never threatened Phil for anything including his failure to make “any personal accusations against CJ Mahaney” with regard to “the execrable [sexual] abuse and subsequent cover-up that took place in that denomination.”  

This charge is completely contrived; something Phil does frequently.  I provided evidence for Phil, I never threatened him.  And then, of course, he must ridicule me with “so you can save your breath this time.”  Another one of his many taunts. 

He also continues to pass on erroneous information about The Documents though I have corrected him on this issue.  He says, “But I still don’t think Mr. Detwiler’s famous leaked emails provided actual prove that CJ bears personal responsibility for the sexual abuse of children.”  The “famous leaked emails” is a reference to the three major documents I wrote titled Response Regarding Friendship & Doctrine, A Final Appeal and Concluding Remarks.  

These documents contain emails but the evidence in them goes beyond emails.   Second, the documents don’t address the sexual abuse of children because they were written before the conspiracy to commit and cover up child abuse was exposed.  I addressed this specific issue with Phil on his Facebook page.  Yet, he continues to mangle the facts.  

Brent Detwiler Phil Johnson  Once again, I am staggered by your ignorance.  I had no knowledge of the cover up until I began to investigate AFTER the lawsuit came out in Oct 2012.  That investigation will be covered in a 300-page book I am writing.  There was no running debate with C.J. over our sex abuse policy.  I assumed he was following the law.  He was not.  Nor was his staff.  They were all covering up and that has been acknowledged by Grant Layman in court, Joshua Harris in the Washington Post, the church administrator in a closed meeting, etc.  C.J. and his staff had a policy of not reporting to law enforcement and that was due in large measure to their unreasonable fear of lawsuits.  That is also a matter of record.  Phil, I didn’t know about any of this or I would have confronted it.  C.J. hid it from me.  That is part of the conspiracy.  That is part of his long-term pattern of deceit.  Again, I am shocked by the extent to which you are uniformed and ill-informed.  Everyone knows these things who has taken any time to read even the most basic coverage.  I wish you would remain silent because you are leading a lot of people astray by your ignorance.  If you don’t want to read the 40 or 50 posts I have written on the subject, that is fine.  If you don’t want to read the media coverage from the past 3½ years, that is fine.  If you don’t want to read and study the court documents from the Morales trials, that is fine.  Just don’t pretend to know what you are talking about because you absolute do not!
Like · Reply · 1 · April 22 at 6:44pm

Phil also says in his recent tweet, “Though I have absolutely no connection with SGM, I deplore the execrable abuse and subsequent cover-up that took place in that denomination.”  Two points are necessary.  First, C.J. was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church from 1979 to 2004.  He was also chairman of the board for Sovereign Grace Ministries from 1991-2011.  In other words, “the execrable abuse and subsequent cover-up” took place while he was in charge.  The sexual and physical abuse of children and its cover-up involved C.J.’s relatives, close friends, and fellow-pastors he employs [and employed].  For example, his brother-in-law, Grant Layman, who was an executive pastor at CLC, testified under oath that there was a cover-up by fellow pastors of the crimes committed by convicted felon Nathaniel Morales. 

Second, Phil says he has “absolutely no connection with SGM.”  That is not true.  I find this another one of his deceptive statements.  Let me explain.  Phil is a pastor at Grace Community Church.  GCC sponsors the annual Shepherds’ Conference like it did earlier this year.  Phil was one of the main session speakers.  Guess who was leading worship for six of the main sessions?  Bob Kauflin!  

Bob is a major player in Sovereign Grace Ministries (now called Sovereign Grace Churches).  He is on the powerful 7-man leadership team.  He also works for C.J. as a pastor in his Louisville church.  Bob has enabled C.J. and covered up for C.J. perhaps more than anyone except John Loftness, who is an alleged sexual sadist.  I know Bob well.  He once worked for me and we were close friends.    

Bob took great pride in leading worship at the conference and wrote a lengthy post about it.  How can Phil say he has “absolutely no connection with SGM”?  Of course, he has a connection with SGM.  Bob Kauflin just lead worship at the Shepherds’ Conference sponsored by Phil’s church in which he is an elder and pastor.  Chris, that is like saying you have no connection to SGM.  Or John has no connection to SGM.  The truth be told you, John, Phil, the board, the elders and the church have a connection with SGM.  And C.J. and Bob certainly believe they have a connection with you.  They’ve been advertising the fact ever since C.J. first preached at one of your conferences in 2004.   

Phil doesn’t like C.J. or SGM but he is connected try as hard as he may to distance himself.  Here is a sample of what he has said about them on his Facebook page.  

Phil Johnson  For instance, they had a notion that “accountability” entailed a system of intense, relentless mutual interrogation and confession of picayune sins to one another--like a Catholic confessional booth on steroids.  Obviously, the more egregious sins were being systematically covered up, but the pastors and leaders in SGM expected one another to be constantly making all their small private sins public, and they were piqued at CJ because he himself seemed to shy away from the interrogation and confession.

In other words, what Detwiler’s documents reflect is a seriously sick and dysfunctional--yes, *cultlike*--religious culture.  A lot of that, I think, stemmed from the notion (reflected even in CJ’s preaching style) that the expression of emotional intensity is the true barometer of one’s spiritual fervor.  The goal therefore was to be as expressively “fervent” as possible, and as effusive as possible in the “confession” of one’s private pecadillos.

In my judgment, this whole defective system is the fruit of SGM’s charismatic doctrine. 
Like · Reply · 11 · April 15 at 2:55pm · Edited

I don’t agree with Phil’s description but wanted you to see his assault on SGM.  He blames the “seriously sick and dysfunctional—yes, *cultlike*--religious culture” on “SGM’s charismatic doctrine.”  Of course, John also condemns the charismatic doctrine taught by SGM. 

That is why I am perplexed as to how you could invite Bob Kauflin to lead worship.  Bob is highly esteemed for his charismatic gift of prophecy.  Something all of you adamantly reject and view as a grave error.  Bob, like C.J., believes in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit (e.g. tongues, interpretation, prophecy, miracles, divine healing) and all the gift ministries (i.e. apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers).  This is required doctrine.  You can’t be a pastor in SGM without subscribing to the Statement of Faith.  It says in part, 

“The Holy Spirit desires to fill each believer continually with increased power for Christian life and witness, and imparts his supernatural gifts for the edification of the Body and for various works of ministry in the world. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work in the church of the first century are available today, are vital for the mission of the church, and are to be earnestly desired and practiced.

“The ascended Christ has given gift ministries to the church (including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) for the equipping of Christ’s body that it might mature and grow. Through the gift ministries, all members of the Church are to be nurtured and equipped for the work of ministry.”

But back to the main point.  Phil claims “absolutely no connection with SGM.”  He may not be friends with anyone in SGM, and he may not like SGM, but he is connected to SGM by virtue of his connection to Grace Community Church as a pastor.  Phil’s tweet misleads people.  No one would ever imagine Bob Kauflin led worship during a half dozen main sessions and Phil preached in a main session at a conference sponsored by the elders of Grace Community Church based on Phil’s disinformation.  Inviting Bob amounts to a national endorsement (not just a connection) of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries given Bob’s leadership position in SGM and pastoral position in Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.

Now back to our phone conversation from Monday, May 1.  During our interaction, I repeatedly pointed out your hypocrisy in relation to Phil.  I made the following points.  Phil’s sins are serious, disqualifying, on-going and long term and yet he is allowed to continue as executive director of Grace to You and as an elder/pastor in Grace Community Church.

In this context, I expressed my appreciation for John’s teaching (except his cessationism and dispensationalism) but pointed out how it was not being followed with Phil.  In particular, I talked about John’s material on “Standards for Shepherds” and said Phil didn’t meet those standards.  I referenced Matthew 23:3. “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you.  But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

I also told you this kind of hypocrisy is why so many Christians have given up on the church.  Leaders teach one thing.  They live another or don’t apply what they teach to fellow pastors.

In that regard, I shared my perspective that Phil is just as abusive as Mark Driscoll though not lewd like Driscoll.  I also referenced my interactions with C.J. in 2007 when he informed me about John’s private efforts to confront Driscoll.  Driscoll needed to be confronted but no less Phil over the years.  In my opinion, Phil is disqualified from ministry for many of the same reasons Driscoll is disqualified.  I challenged you to submit to the authority of Scripture and follow John’s teaching as it relates to the qualifications of leaders and the discipline of leaders.  I said you were treating Phil with partiality and favoritism.

In my previous letter to you on April 20, I said in part, 

“The accusations I bring are not minor.  I consider them disqualifying in keeping with Scripture and the teaching of Pastor MacArthur.  Phil, on the other hand, considers them “foolishness,” “groundless” and “false.”  As you study the evidence, I believe you will quickly discover his sins in the form of pride, deceit, and abusive speech are “quite evident” (1 Tim. 5:24).”  

During our phone call, you said Phil did not lie and was not deceitful regarding his claim to have interacted with multiple victims from the SGM lawsuit.  I disagreed based on the overwhelming evidence but I will set that charge aside for now.  

You also said you have been thoroughly involved with Phil for “a long time” and “read a bunch of material” about Phil.  In other words, you were well versed and had no need to “study the evidence” or do an investigation as requested by me.  In that context, you attempted to assure me again that Phil was “accountable.”  

If I understood you correctly, you have known about the issues of pride and abusive speech in Phil’s life for a long time.  That is not a source of comfort.  It is a source of extreme concern.  It is just like with Driscoll.  You have known.  John has known. Basically, everyone has known for a long but all have turned a blind eye to Phil.  The question is why has nothing been done about it.  To this you might respond, we have corrected Phil over the years.  Fine.  But there has been no repentance.  No fruit.  No transformation.  His arrogance and abusive speech has been on display for many years including that found on his former blog, PyroManiacs, with Frank Turk and Dan Phillips.

In October 2014, I wrote a post titled, Tim Keller’s Double Standard for Mark Driscoll.  You should read it.  During an interview by Michael Paulson of the New York Times, Keller said the following.  

“He was really important — in the Internet age, Mark Driscoll definitely built up the evangelical movement enormously,” said Timothy Keller, the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and one of the most widely respected evangelical intellectuals in the United States.  “But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships — which he himself has confessed repeatedly — was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.” 

In response, I wrote in part, 

“First, he [Tim Keller] is well aware of Driscoll’s “brashness…arrogance and…rudeness in personal relationships.”  Second, he points out how Driscoll has repeatedly confessed these sins but effectively not changed.  Confession alone doesn’t change you.  Genuine repentance does by the grace of God.  Third, these sinful patterns were “obvious to many from the earliest days.”  Driscoll started Mars Hill Church in 1996.  Fourth, from then to now, Driscoll has “definitely…disillusioned quite a lot of people.” 

“In light of this assessment, I have several sincere questions for Tim Keller.  Why did you ever allow Mark Driscoll to be on the prestigious and nationally recognized leadership Council for The Gospel Coalition in the first place?  And furthermore, why did you and Don Carson commend him when he stepped off the Council in 2012.” 

I think these same observations hold true for Phil.  Everyone knows he is “harsh” and “blunt” and it makes many “cringe” to use your words.  

Last week I posted, Phil Johnson & Tom Chantry Charge Me with a “Hit & Run” for Not Answering the Question, “Did You Know about Sexual Abuse in SGM?”  It serves as a classic illustration of the issues in Phil’s life.  Here is an excerpt from the introduction. 

“Phil Johnson’s ill-informed and unprovoked attack on me began on April 14, 2016.  The day before my wife had undergone an eight-hour surgical procedure requiring an extended hospitalization and continuous care by me.  Two days after we came home from the hospital, she developed an extremely serious complication.  My on-going continuous care lasted six more weeks.

“In the midst of these dire and demanding circumstances, I was asked a reasonable question by Scott Frady, whom I do not know, on Phil Johnson’s Facebook page.   It was, “Hey Brent, Did you know about sexual abuse in SGM?  Were you part of the cover up?  Or were you unaware?”  I was not able to provide a meaningful answer given all that was going on though I desired to do so.   

“This led to false accusations by Johnson, Chantry and others despite the fact I affirmed the question by Frady and gave my commitment to answer it.  That did not satisfy them.  Johnson accused me of a “hit and run” meaning I deceitfully agreed to answer but claimed I was too busy and then sped off from the crime scene.  Chantry chimed in his agreement with Johnson, “Ding!  Ding!  Ding!”  Many other accusations were hurled at me.  

“A few days later, I answered the question when my wife was out of danger.  No apology was forthcoming from Johnson or Chantry even after I followed up with them in private.  This is a classic example of spiritual abuse rooted in callousness and self-righteous pride.  A simple, “Thanks for answering.  I was wrong about you.  I will pray for you and your wife” was far from their lips because that kind of humility and compassion was far from their hearts.”

Chris, while you acknowledged Phil was harsh, you acknowledged no sorrow for his treatment of me or others.  There was nothing like, “I am so sorry Brent.  Phil was wrong.  He will be getting back to you to ask forgiveness for his mockery, callousness and self-righteous pride.  He will also ask forgiveness of everyone on his Facebook page for his reprehensible conduct.  He set a terrible example.  We plan to rebuke him before the elders and evaluate whether he has disqualified himself from ministry.”  

Instead, you abruptly, but not angrily, ended the conversation and told me it was “not profitable” because I wouldn’t accept your assurance Phil was truthful contrary to the evidence and I wouldn’t drop my appeals for discipline based upon Scripture and John’s teaching.  You wanted me to move on and trust Phil was accountable.  I wish that were possible but it is not.  Our conversation only heightened my concerns. 

If Phil was truly accountable, five things would have happened by now.

1.  You would have gone through our Facebook interaction and correspondence and noted for Phil those places where he sinned.    

2.  You would have directed him back to me and everyone else on his Facebook page to acknowledge those sins and ask forgiveness in keeping with John’s teaching that the circle of your sin must be the circle of your confession.

“Confession of guilt must always be made to God.  Confession is also owed to whomever our sin has injured.  The arena of confession should be as large as the audience of the original offense.  Public transgressions call for public confession. … Lies should be confessed and the truth communicated at least as widely as the lie was.” (John MacArthur,Answering Tough Questions About Forgiveness,” May 2, 2016)

3.  You would have helped Phil see the arrogant and abusive fashion in which he has treated many people, over many years, and then required him to make a public confession at large. 

4.  You would have rebuked Phil in the presence of the elders and Grace Community Church.   

5.  You would have removed him as a pastor and executive director because he does not meet the qualifications of Scripture.

Instead, he is treated with partiality and favoritism and put forward as a main session speaker before 4,500 men at The Shepherds’ Conference in March. 

Consider again this deplorable statement by Phil.

Phil Johnson The problem with this particular swarm of rancor monsters is that there are lots of people who self-identify as victims of “abuse” when in reality they just despise all authority, starting with the authority of Scripture.  They profess to hate bullying, but their actions betray an eagerness to berate, accuse, and impute the worse possible motives to anyone who fails to affirm their omni-directional resentment.  It is a potent flavor of spiritual abuse all its own, and it is as sick as any other form of spiritual abuse.

My heart goes out to *real* victims, but the survivor-blog community is heavily populated with people who are the Bruce Jenners of spiritual abuse.  I’m not inclined to legitimizes their resentment, any more than I’m inclined to lend Bruce the artificial “dignity” of calling him a “she.”
Like · Reply · 8 · April 15 at 3:40pm

One of Phil’s FB friends responded with this strong rebuke.  I could not agree more (underlining mine).

Nick Sherid Carter Phil Johnson. Your comment is one of the most immature & hypocritical statements I hv [have] read of a leader I respected up until 5 minutes ago.  You had a decision to either be quiet yet you have chosen to make comments that are aggressive, hurtful towards people who have suffered abuse within churches. 

Ur [Your] comment reeks of someone who has clearly never personally suffered under spiritual abuse.  Spiritual abuse destroys people & often their walk with the Lord.  Your comments that are ugly towards people who have gone to survivor blogs (like recovering grace) to heal & have brothers & sisters in Christ support them back into a healthy mindest [mindset] of church & therefore the ability to be able to submit again under godly authority...through healing in Jesus’ name.

You should be ashamed that you hypocritically do not even put yourself under 1 timothy 5:19 & publically are ugly towards 2 named people in ur comment. 

You have not personally spoken to people on these blogs who hv suffered...you attack & are ugly in ur comments yet Jesus Himself spoke in the most strongest language against those who bring down those weak & immature in the faith.

I am shocked John Macarthur has not dropped you after your immature & ugly comment.  If you were in my ministry you would be sacked!  Where is your fruit of the Spirit?  None. 

If you do not publically apologise for your immaturity & lack of understanding in attacking millions of people worldwide who hv clawed their way back to a fruitful life after serious spiritual abuse thru the love & support of strangers.

U hv done nothing but hurt & mocked so many people who hv been thru terrible spiritual abuse by flatlining everyone into one category.

I pray John Macarthur sacks you otherwise i publically call upon everyone who supports g2you [Grace to You] to stop supporting them & therefore you. 

Once the pride kicks in doesn’t take long until you become an enemy of the Lord.
Like · Reply · 2 · April 16 at 5:15am

This is a very fitting response.  Phil’s comment is hypocritical, aggressive, hurtful, ugly, shameful, attacking, immature, mocking and proud.  Where is the fruit of the Spirit?  There is none!  John should “sack” Phil; and of course, that is what John has taught for decades.  

Phil conduct is outrageous.  And this is how he has treated many people over the years.  It is not an isolated case.  He cruelly abuses those who “self-identify as victims of ‘abuse.’”  In so doing he is adding to their abuse but totally blind to the fact.  His hypocrisy is extraordinary.  I imagine any member in Grace Community Church speaking about group of people like Phil would experience correction and church discipline if it continued.  This kind of hateful speech would not be tolerated. 

Contrast Phil’s speech to these Scriptures. 

2 Timothy 2:24-25 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. 

Titus 2:6-8 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. 

People have been saying “bad” things about Phil for a long time because he is not sensible, dignified, or sound in speech which is beyond reproach. 

Five years ago, Phil stopped blogging on PyroManiacs.  He said in part, 

Phil Johnson Unplugged
By Phil Johnson
June 11, 2012 

Today was my 59th birthday.  In other words, I’m now officially in my 60th year.  Last week I did some careful reflecting; I also did some calculating; and it was—how shall I say this?—unsettling.  Convicting.  Alarming.  In the very best case, I figure I might have a decade and a half of productive full-time labor left.  Looking back on the past 15 years, I realize that’s a very brief time.  I want to make the most of it.

Thursday my doctor confirmed what I was beginning to think: I need to cut out everything non-essential in my life that causes stress without giving me any cardiovascular benefit.  I hate when geriatric patients recite the details of their medical reports, so let’s just say that the doctor was serious: It’s time for me to stop burning the candle at both ends.  Darlene emphatically affirmed that diagnosis.  Everyone who loves me is likewise in hearty agreement.

So: (gladly, with no reluctance whatsoever) I’m officially retiring from blogging, social media, and every other activity that intrudes on things that ought to be the real priorities in the final two decades of a man’s life. …

But my blogging stops here.  I’ve already got more than enough deadlines to keep me busy for the rest of my life, without the additional stress of writing 2-3 weekly posts and trying to keep up with every controversy in the blogosphere.  As interesting as that is, it’s not my most important duty—by a long shot.  And at my age, nothing would be more tragic than letting my priorities get confused.

Too bad Phil broke his promise to officially retire from blogging and social media (with absolutely no reluctance) per the input of his doctor, wife, and “everyone who loves me.”  I assume that included you, Chris.  Why do I bring this up?  It is an example of Phil not being held accountable.  He obviously invests large amounts of time on social media and continues to closely follow (and create) controversy.  

The doctor was concerned for his health.  Phil was concerned for his “real priorities.”  I am concerned for his soul.  Honestly, he does not have the maturity to interact with others on Tweeter or Facebook with charity and humility.  You should encourage him to stop using social media.  It is a source of temptation for him to mock, abuse and ridicule.  Phil is a spiritual pyromaniac.  Thus, the name of his old blog.  A pyromaniac suffers from pyromania.  Pyromania is “an obsessive desire to set fire to things.”   

Furthermore, the way Phil conducts himself online is the way he conducts himself in person according to witnesses who have contacted me.  He has scorched and burned a lot of people.  Phil is not above reproach.  Many people have found justified fault with him.  He is blameworthy. 

Here is what John says in his commentary on 1 Timothy about the “absolute necessity” of “a life without blame.” 

“Paul demands that an overseer in the church of Jesus Christ must be above reproach. The Greek particle de (must) emphasizes that this is an absolute necessity.  A life without blame is the overarching requirement for leadership in the church.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 102) 

Here is what John wrote on the Grace Community Church blog in “God’s Standard for Leadership.” 

“A fundamental, universal requirement for an overseer is that he “must be above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2).  It is an absolute necessity.  The Greek text indicates that being above reproach is the man’s present state—he has sustained a reputation for being irreproachable.  There’s nothing to accuse him of.… A church leader’s life must not be marred by sin or vice—be it an attitude, habit, or incident.  That’s not to say he must be perfect, but there must not be any obvious defect in his character.” (John MacArthur, God’s Standard for Leadership, August 5, 2013) 

There are, however, obvious defects in Phil’s character.  Let me reference a few of them in John’s words. 

“Nor may an elder be pugnacious…He must react to situations calmly, coolly, and gently (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-25).  Instead of being pugnacious, a leader must be gentle. Epieikes (gentle) describes the person who is considerate, genial, forbearing, and gracious, who easily pardons human failure.… Uncontentious translates amachos, which means “peaceful,” or “reluctant to fight.”  It refers not so much to physical violence as to a quarrelsome person.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 111) 

“By extension, pugnacious can refer to verbal as well as physical fighting and quarreling.  It is possible to hurt a person more deeply and permanently with cruel words than with a fist or club.  An elder should have no part in meanness, abusiveness, or retaliation, no matter how cruelly provoked.“ (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Titus, p. 39) 

So, what should be done?  John provides a clear answer in his writings.  Phil should be rebuked in the presence of the elders and members of Grace Community Church.  “A sinning elder has nowhere to hide.” 

“Any sin that caused an elder to violate the qualifications listed in [1 Timothy] 3:2-7 would be grounds for rebuke in the presence of all.  There are no elaborate steps of discipline to be followed.  An accusation is made and confirmed, then investigated.  If found true, the elder is publicly rebuked.  Elencho (rebuke) means “to expose,” “to bring to open conviction,” “to correct,” or “to reprove.”  There are no exegetical grounds for limiting all to the other elders.  It means everyone, elders and congregation.  A sinning elder has nowhere to hide. 

“The sins of a man in a leadership role are more serious, and are to be punished more severely, (cf. James 3:1).  Whether or not he repents is not the issue.  Since his credibility is forfeited, he is disqualified from the ministry in either case.  He must be publicly rebuked so the people understand why he is no longer in leadership.  Attempts to hush things up and allow a sinning elder to leave quietly often create the chaos of misunderstanding in a congregation.”  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 222) 

As I conveyed to you on the phone, I am very concerned you and John are attempting “to hush things up” even though Phil’s “credibility is forfeited.”  I just wrote John about this because he told me I could not raise any issues of sin regarding Phil since I was not a church member.  And I am writing you again because you told me to stop raising Phil’s scandalous sins and move on.  There is every reason to conclude you are making a concerted “effort to protect” Phil contrary to John’s teaching.  

“The church must maintain these principles regarding sinning elders without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.  No one is to receive preferential treatment.  The rebuke of sinning elders must be done with accuracy and integrity.  There must be no effort to protect those who are famous, specially gifted, or popular.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 223) 

I genuinely wonder whose reputation you are concerned about based upon your actions and inactions. 

“To rebuke sinning leaders is not easy.  Yet God requires it because holiness in the church must be upheld.  The question facing any church is whether it is more concerned about its reputation or God’s holiness.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 224) 

“To publicly rebuke a sinning elder takes great courage…The church that tolerates sinning elders to protect its reputation on earth will lose its reputation in heaven.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, p. 223) 

I totally concur!  Will you take the hard road or the easy road?  Will you uphold God’s holiness or compromise it?  Will you be more concerned about God’s reputation or your own?  Will you be courageous or cowardly?   Will you rebuke Phil’s sins or tolerate his sins?  

The answers to these questions will be evident by the actions you take or don’t take in the immediately future.  

Therefore, I hope Phil asks forgiveness and makes a confession.  I look forward to hearing from him.  And I trust you, John and the elders will rebuke and remove him from ministry.  Please let me know how you plan to proceed in this regard over the next few weeks.  I realize it will be difficult but not taking these steps surely constitutes hypocrisy, favoritism, and compromise.  I pray you will uphold God’s standards for shepherds. 

Chris, we live in an hour when the church desperately needs “preachers who practice what they preach.”  So, please honor Christ and faithfully apply what John has taught people around the world for the glory of God and the good of his people.  

Grace to you! 
Brent 

[Note: I wrote this letter on May 15, 2017.  I never heard back from Chris Hamilton.]

 

SECTION 5:  My Email to John MacArthur Regarding His Hypocrisy & Refusal to Hear Charges Against Phil Johnson 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, May 15, 2017 2:47 PM
To: John MacArthur ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: Not Permitted to Raise Issues Concerning Phil Johnson 

Hello John, 

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Last June I sent you, Todd Pruitt and Tom Chantry, a 31-page letter documenting examples of Phil’s egregious lying, bullying, and abusive speech having been unsuccessful in winning him over in private.  Therefore, I asked each of you to fulfill the role of a biblical witness and appeal for his repentance with me.  To that end, I provided what I consider indisputable evidence.  Your personal assistant, Paul Twiss, assured me he brought the entire matter to your attention.  

In that context, Phil exhorted me to present my charges to Chris Hamilton, chairman of the elder board.  Paul told me to do the same.  As a result, I forwarded all the evidence to Chris via regular mail on April 20, 2017 and asked him to confirm possession upon receipt.    

Chris was kind enough to call me on May 1 but was unwilling to take any disciplinary action with Phil.  Instead, he admonished me to drop the matter, move on and trust you men to hold Phil “accountable.”  

Unfortunately, this demand further eroded my confidence in the two of you.  Chris was not willing to follow Matthew 18:15-17 or 1 Timothy 5:19-21.  Nor was he willing to have Phil ask my forgiveness or that of his Facebook “friends” for his brute, deceptive and ungodly speech.  Since I wrote you 11 months ago, there have been no evidences of genuine biblical accountability – repentance, forgiveness, confession and discipline.  

From my vantage point, you have protected Phil and used a faulty and legalistic interpretation of Scripture to shield him from my charges which you dismissed because I am not a church member.  This is the counsel you provided me through Paul. 

“In response to your question, matters of church discipline are raised by our church members.  We do not involve ourselves in the discipline issues of other local churches - neither do we invite non-members to raise or play a part in our cases.”

Before I proceed here is the history of my interaction with Paul.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 11:53 AM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: Forward Confidential Information to John MacArthur

Hello Paul,

We talked by phone on May 26 about you forwarding confidential information to John on my behalf.  You will find that information attached.  It concerns a matter of church discipline and includes information about the victims of sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Therefore, the need for confidentiality.

Thanks for helping me out and passing it on.

Brent

From: Paul Twiss [mailto:ptwiss@gracechurch.org]
Sent: Thursday, June 9, 2016 1:40 PM
To: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Forward Confidential Information to John MacArthur

Brent 

Thank you for your email. 

However, if your correspondence pertains to a matter of church discipline, your point of contact should be Chris Hamilton. (Pastor MacArthur is not the chairman of our elder board.) 

My advice is that you send your correspondence to the church address, for Mr Hamilton’s attention.  

Regards,
Paul 

Paul Twiss
Administrative Assistant to John MacArthur
Grace Community Church 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 9, 2016 2:54 PM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: RE: Forward Confidential Information to John MacArthur

Thanks Paul for your advice but it does not pertain to a matter of church discipline.  I misspoke in my previous email. 

My confidential correspondence for Pastor MacArthur relates to his involvement in the second step of Matthew 18:15-17.  That is, serving as a witness.  No church discipline is taking place at this time.  That step has not been arrived at or initiated.  In fact, John’s involvement will likely have the effect of restoring the sinning brother so that church discipline and a public telling of his sin is unnecessary.   

I should also add that Pastor MacArthur is by far the best qualified and positioned to serve as a witness under the circumstances which unfortunately I cannot divulge.  Let me go further, without John serving as a witness, the third step will likely result because I don’t have reason to believe the erring brother will listen to anyone else.  Therefore, it is vital that John receives this information.  

I trust this will not be the case, but if after Pastor MacArthur has read the material, he decides not to be a witness, would you please have him call me to provide an explanation. 

Please confirm you have forward the information to John.

Thank you. 
Brent 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 11:05 AM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: RE: Forward Confidential Information to John MacArthur
Importance: High 

Would you please confirm for me today that the confidential information I sent you has been forward to John?  As I’ve mentioned, it is extremely important he read the evidence it contains since it is vitally connected to Grace Community Church of which he is the sr. pastor and Grace to You of which he is the President.  The forwarding of this information should be made a top priority so John can fulfill his biblical responsibilities.  Withholding this information, is unwise and contrary to the teaching of Scripture. 

Thanks
Brent 

From: Paul Twiss [mailto:ptwiss@gracechurch.org]
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 4:58 PM
To: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>
Subject: RE: Forward Confidential Information to John MacArthur 

Thank you for your email Brent. 

I have not seen Pastor John since you sent me the email.  I plan to discuss with him later this week. 

Paul Twiss
Administrative Assistant to John MacArthur
Grace Community Church 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, June 13, 2016 5:03 PM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: RE: Forward Confidential Information to John MacArthur

Thanks Paul for discussing this with him.  That is much appreciated.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 10:41 AM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: Please Return call
Importance: High 

Hi Paul, 

I left a message on your cell phone yesterday.  Could you call me today to update me on your discussion with John last week? 

Thanks
Brent 

From: Paul Twiss [mailto:ptwiss@gracechurch.org]
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 11:22 AM
To: Brent Detwiler abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Please Return call 

Brent 

Please can I ask how you got my cell phone number? 

Paul Twiss
Administrative Assistant to John MacArthur
Grace Community Church 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 11:27 AM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: RE: Please Return call 

Sure, it is listed on the website for the campus ministry.

https://www.gracechurch.org/ministries/CSUN%20Grace%20on%20Campus

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 11:00 AM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: RE: Please Return call
Importance: High

Paul, 

I first wrote John on May 23.  Then again on May 24 using the email address for the church receptionist.  I provided him vital information and asked him to serve as a witness in carrying out the second step of Matthew 18:16.  I did not hear back from him. 

Therefore, I called you on May 26 since you are John’s administrative assistant.  You agreed to forward my confidential information to him regarding this matter.  I sent you that information on June 8 and explained the situation more fully for you on June 9. 

On June 13, you wrote and said “I plan to discuss with him later this week.”  I thanked you the same day for planning to do so.  The week went by but I did not hear from you.  

Therefore, I called your cell phone yesterday (June 21) and left a message asking you to return my call so you could update me on your discussion with John. 

You didn’t return my call but you did email me to ask how I got your cell phone number.  I pointed out it is on your webpage for the campus ministry you lead as “campus shepherd.”  That was yesterday morning.   It is now the next day and no response. 

Paul, I have patiently been trying to get absolutely vital information to Pastor MacArthur for the past 30 days.  I still don’t have any idea if it has been forwarded to him or whether or not he has read it.  In addition, I have repeatedly asked that he write me or call.  I’ve heard nothing.  This is wrong in all respects. 

Therefore, would you please write me today and answer the three questions I’ve been asking.  One, has the confidential information been forwarded to John?  Two, has he read it?  Three, will he serve as a witness?  These are all perfectly reasonable requests given his relationship to the sinning brother, the seriousness of the situation, and the compelling evidence I have sent him. 

Therefore, would you please provide open and honest answers to these questions? 

Thank you.
Brent 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 11:04 AM
To: Paul Twiss ptwiss@gracechurch.org
Subject: RE: Please Return call 

Put more simply, what did Pastor MacArthur tell you when you discussed the matter with him? 

From: Paul Twiss [mailto:ptwiss@gracechurch.org]
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 11:59 AM
To: Brent Detwiler abrentdetwiler@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Please Return call

Brent 

Thank you for your recent emails. 

In response to your question, matters of church discipline are raised by our church members.  We do not involve ourselves in the discipline issues of other local churches - neither do we invite non-members to raise or play a part in our cases. 

Paul Twiss
Administrative Assistant to John MacArthur
Grace Community Church 

This was the instruction Paul received from you.  It was contrary to what he previously told me and it was contrary to what Phil told me.  I guess that explains why Chris Hamilton was unwilling to hold Phil accountable in any biblical sense.  For example, there has been no asking of forgiveness or confession of sin.  Nor has there been any discipline.  Phil maintains his positions in Grace Community Church and Grace to You ministries.  He also spoke at your Shepherds’ Conference in March.  It is as if he never sinned. 

That makes sense since according to your teaching, I am not allowed “to raise” concerns for Phil or “play a part” in “matters of church discipline.”  In other words, Phil cannot be disciplined for sins against me and you will not entertain my accusations against him.   That also explains why you, Todd Pruitt and Tom Chantry refused to act as witnesses.  despite my many appeals.

Per your doctrine, the following passages are totally irrelevant in relation to Phil because I am not a member of Grace Community Church.       

Matthew 18:15-17
[15] “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. [16] “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. [18] “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
 
1 Timothy 5:19-21
[19] Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. [20] Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. [21] I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.  

The legalistic restrictions you place on these passages invalid the word of God.  Per your response to me, Phil can only be disciplined for sins committed against church members.  He cannot be investigated or disciplined for sins against believers or unbelievers at large.  That badly misses the point of Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching.  

Let me illustrate.  According to your polity, an elder in your church could be committing adultery with a woman who is not a member, but that woman is forbidden from raising the issue with you, the chairman of the board, or the eldership.  Even if she has compelling evidence, her accusation is invalid and cannot be used to initiate church discipline because she is not a member.  Or to put it another way.  An elder can only be investigated or disciplined if he is committing adultery with a church member. 

John, you don’t have to be a member of the same church to raise concerns for a leader in another church or ministry.  The only thing that matters is if the charges or accusations are true.  If so, church discipline should commence if the charges are of a serious nature and not minor offenses.  

Christians have a responsibility to follow the principles of Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Timothy 5:18-21 with other Christians regardless of church affiliation.  That is why I don’t go public unless I have done all I can in private.  For example, I appealed to C.J. Mahaney in private for 15 months.  You seem to do the opposite.  You go public without going in private to erring leaders who are not members of your church.  Correct me if I am wrong. 

On the other hand, you clearly believe, you have the right and obligation to confront the sins or doctrine of leaders that are not members of your church (e.g. Steven Furtick).  You just don’t follow Matthew 18 or 1 Timothy 5 from what I can tell.  I think that is a big mistake. The proper approach is to contact their fellow elders (or board), bring charges, provide evidence, and call for church discipline.  If the elders surrounding these men fail to take action, then you have an obligation to go public and correct them.    

John, I’ll be sending Chris a lengthy letter in the coming week [the one above in Section 4].  You should read it.  My appeal to both of you men is simple.  Please obey the Bible and your own teaching regarding Phil less you be guilty of gross hypocrisy.  For example, seriously consider your comments below including “The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach.  Anything less is an abomination.” 

Forgiving Fallen Pastors
Wednesday, May 4, 2016 | Comments (48) 
by John MacArthur

It has always saddened me over the years as I’ve watched church leaders bring reproach on the church of Jesus Christ.  What’s perhaps most shocking to me is how frequently Christian leaders sin grossly, then step back into leadership almost as soon as the publicity dies away.…

Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong within the contemporary church.  But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin.… Christians must not regard leadership in the church lightly.  The foremost requirement of a leader is that he “must be above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:210Titus 1:7).  That is a difficult prerequisite, and not everyone can meet it….

Why is the contemporary church so eager to be tolerant in restoring fallen leaders?  I’m certain a major reason is the sin and unbelief that pervade the church.  If casual Christians can lower the level of leadership, they will be much more comfortable with their own sin.  With lower moral standards for its leaders, the church becomes more tolerant of sin and less tolerant of holiness.  The “sinner-friendly” church is intolerable to God.  And such a church reveals the precarious status of contemporary Christendom—a reality that should frighten all serious and obedient believers.…

In view of this crisis in leadership and morality, what should you do?  Pray for your church’s leaders.  Keep them accountable.  Encourage them.  Let them know you are following their godly example.  Understand that they are not perfect.  But continue nonetheless to call them to the highest standards of godliness and purity.  The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach.  Anything less is an abomination.

You must not ignore Phil’s sins against “non-members” like me, his Facebook “friends,” or others.  Sin is sin whether it is against an unbeliever, non-member or church member.  As such, I pray that you, Chris and the entire eldership will fulfill your biblical responsibilities and remove Phil from ministry for his good and the good of the church.  From my perspective, you have tolerated his egregious sins for far too long.  

Sincerely,
 
Brent 

 

SECTION 6:  John MacArthur’s Double Standard for Phil Johnson the Same as His Double Standard for C.J. Mahaney 

In my email to John above, I quoted from his post, Forgiving Fallen Pastors.  He wrote the article on May 4, 2016.  That was right after he participated with C.J. in Together for the Gospel.  

I wrote the following comment on John’s blog in response. 

Comment 49
May 14, 2016 at 1:09 PM 

I completely agree with what Dr. MacArthur has written but here is my question.  When is this standard going to be applied to C.J. Mahaney?  He is clearly not above reproach and yet nothing has been done to remove him from ministry or even from speaking at massive events like Together for the Gospel in April.  No one is keeping him accountable.  No one is calling him “to the highest standards of godliness and purity.”  Why is that?  

The evidence against Mahaney is overwhelming and clearly documented.  It covers many years and comes from many friends and colleagues who knew him best.  There is no question he has disqualified himself from the ministry of an elder/overseer/pastor.  To deny this, is to deny reality and repudiate the teaching of Scripture.  Anything less than removal from ministry is an abomination.  It is clearly required.  Please, let’s practice what we preach and not selectively set aside the qualifications of Scripture for friends like Mahaney.  That kind of partiality and favoritism is condemned in 1 Timothy 5:21.  

Moreover, hundreds of godly people have witnessed against Mr. Mahaney; not just the “two or three” that are required.  He does not meet the standards laid out in 1 Timothy 3:1-6 (and by comparison Titus 1:6-9).  Therefore, he is not above reproach.  I value sound doctrine.  I’ve taught Systematic Theology for over 30 years.  That said, sound doctrine must be applied if it is going to glorify God.  

Therefore, let us not be hearers of the word.  Let us be doers of the word.  That means applying the Scriptures above (and many others) to C.J. Mahaney and removing him from ministry.  No one should be supporting his continuation in ministry or be a featured speaker with him at conference like Together for the Gospel. 

My comment was initially posted but later removed.  Under “Blog Guidelines” you read the following.  

“We value your comments, even your disagreements, as long as you are courteous and respectful. We’ll remove anything unwholesome.” 

What I wrote was determined to be “unwholesome” and removed by the powers that be at Grace to You.  Maybe by Phil Johnson, the executive director.  Whatever, they deleted the comment.     

Sound doctrine matters but obedience to sound doctrine matters more!  John MacArthur has written excellent material on standards for shepherds but in the case of Phil Johnson and C.J. Mahaney he has totally disregarded his teaching.  Phil should not be his executive director nor a pastor/elder in his church.  C.J. should not be in ministry or a speaker with John at Together for the Gospel.  

I love sound doctrine but I love sound living in obedience to sound doctrine far more.  When is the rampant hypocrisy among top evangelical and Reformed leaders surrounding C.J. Mahaney going to end?  It appears never.  There is absolutely no question C.J. conspired to cover up the sexual abuse of children in Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries and then lied about it.  By God’s grace, I’ll finish up my book on the conspiracy before Together for the Gospel 2018. 

Spiritual gifting and sound doctrine are important but they are no substitute for Christian character.  You can have the former without the latter and that’s what deceives so many sheep.  They naively assume great writing or great preaching equates with great character.  For example, C.J. wrote a book on humility while we (his closet friends and fellow leaders) were confronting him on pride.  The process of correcting C.J. was long, hard, and unsuccessful.  We were in year 5 when Humility: True Greatness was published.  C.J. made no mention of our efforts or extensive observations of his pride in his book. 

Tremendous harm has been done to the Body of Christ because the qualifications laid out in Scripture for leadership are not applied to men like Phil Johnson and C.J. Mahaney.  They can lie, be arrogant, and abuse people with impunity.  No one will discipline them or remove them from ministry.  They are treated with partiality and favoritism.  Their sins are excused or covered up with lies and denials.  They are even put forward as heroes of the faith. 

Clearly, there is one set of rules for lowly members and another set of rules for high and mighty leaders in way too many circles.  Members are disciplined in keeping with Matthew 18:15-17.  Their leaders are not disciplined in keeping with 1 Timothy 3:1-6, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Timothy 5:19-21.  That is the case with Phil and C.J.  They have gotten away with transgressions no member ever could in their churches.  The hypocrisy is immense.  Only the harm is greater!  

It doesn’t matter that John MacArthur has written a study Bible, New Testament commentary or scores of books if he is unwilling to apply what he has written to his top leader, Phil Johnson and his friend, C.J. Mahaney.  “The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach.  Anything less is an abomination.”  I agree John.  Therefore, practice what you preach and stop the double standard.  It is ever so offensive to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Postscript

I sent Phil Johnson, Todd Pruitt and Tom Chantry this post.  Here is Phil’s response and my response to him.

From: Phil Johnson [mailto:phil@gty.org]
Sent: Thursday, July 6, 2017 4:33 PM
To: Brent Detwiler <abrentdetwiler@gmail.com>
Cc: Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry <tjchantry@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: John MacArthur Refuses to Follow His Own Teaching in Dealing with Phil Johnson's Egregious Sins 

Three blatant lies in his first sentence.  You have to give him full marks for sheer chutzpah. 

Phil 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 6, 2017 5:34 PM
To: Phil Johnson <phil@gty.org>
Cc: Todd Pruitt <todd@cov-pres.org>; Tom Chantry <tjchantry@gmail.com>; Stephanie Blood <sblood@gracechurch.org>
Subject: RE: John MacArthur Refuses to Follow His Own Teaching in Dealing with Phil Johnson's Egregious Sins 

The claims against you are accurate.  The charges substantiated.  And the repeated attempts for your repentance sincere.  Those are the facts.  Plain to all.  You can go on the attack with your mockery and bullying but anyone with any discernment will see it as a ploy to avoid dealing with your egregious sins which continue unabated.  There is no “chutzpah.”   Just the truth spoken clearly with a heart to help you in your pride and deception. But you are like the fool in Proverbs 9.  You hate correction and those who bring it.  Lady Wisdom is calling (9:1--9) but you are set on following Lady Folly (9:13-18).  You have little fear of God or knowledge of the Holy One (9:10-12).  Why do you continue to exalt yourself?  God is opposed to the proud.  He brings them low.  Do you not see his hand in these present circumstances?  Are you that blind?  Is your conscience that dull and your heart that hardened?  Why do you persist in your deceit and arrogance?  Please Phil, repent for the sake of Christ’s gospel, church, and glory and for the good of your own soul.  

Stephanie, please forward this exchange to John MacArthur and Chris Hamilton.  Thank you.

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