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Monday
Jan142013

Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.  These most famous words in the Apocalypse were spoken by Jesus to the church in Laodicea.  They have also been spoken by our Savior to Sovereign Grace Ministries.  

For at least the last 10 years, Jesus has been knocking on doors in Gaithersburg, MD and other environs of SGM.  In recent years, his knocking and voice have progressively gotten louder.  So too the warning, I am about to spit you out of my mouth unless you be earnest, and repent (3:16,19).  

In Revelation 2-3, Jesus accesses, rebukes, warns, and encourages seven churches in Asia Minor in his role as Prophet.  The final book of the Bible is a prophecy given by Jesus through John.  This climax of prophetic revelation follows in the tradition of Old and New Testament prophets and prophecy.      

Prophets have never been popular.  I am reminded of Hebrews 11:32-38 and verse 37 which says, They were stoned, they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  Jewish tradition holds that Isaiah was sawed in two under the wicked, King Manasseh.  Jesus was tortured and nailed to a cross.   

The evangelical church in America does not believe in prophets and prophecy.  Jesus has no living voice in the form of prophets by which to address his church in America.  Sure, evangelicals believe in canonical prophecy but even then the actual prophecies of Scripture have little impact upon the church.  Who preaches the OT prophets and takes their message seriously in our day?  Not many.  All we do is quote Matthew 7:1 out of context and insist, Judge not, that you be not judged.  God’s word in Revelation 2-3 is another prime example of which I speak.  We can’t imagine an all loving and all accepting Jesus ever talking like his does in those chapters to particular churches or ministries in our day.  

Nor does our faulty application of the doctrine of justification permit such rigorous evaluations of our hearts and minds.  For example, Rev 2:23 I will strike her children dead.  Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 

I suppose many evangelicals believe Jesus has gone through sensitivity training since he returned to heaven.  But try as hard as we might, Jesus can’t be tamed according to our worldly preconceptions of niceness.  He is still the rock of offense (1 Pet 2:8).  When the shoe fits, Christ will still tell an individual, church or denomination that they make him so sick, he must vomit them out of his mouth in order to be rid of them.  We must be honest, the voice of prophecy has been silenced.  There is no tolerance for the ministry or message of prophets today.  

That is not to say we don’t love false prophets.  C.J. has surrounded himself with such men.  Consider these words by John Loftness on behalf of the current Board of Directors (i.e., Paul Buckley, Ron Boomsma, Craig Cabaniss, Mickey Connolly, Ian McConnell, Ken Mellinger, Al Pino, Phil Sasser). 

“This comprehensive process has clearly confirmed C.J.’s fitness to lead and his exceptional character as he has graciously endured major trials.  Through all of this he has been found to be a man and a minister of fundamental integrity.  We know of no one who is better suited for the office of President at this transitional time in our history.” (John Loftness,

Everyone who has followed the events of the past 18 months knows there was no comprehensive process of evaluation for C.J.  There was only an extremely narrow process put into place that was characterized by partiality, corruption and favoritism.  And the facts have shown C.J. not to be gracious when corrected or a man of fundamental integrity.  Furthermore, the Board views C.J. as the victim who “has graciously endured major trials.”  

Restoring C.J. as President, when he clearly did not qualify, was an affront to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  John is in essence a false prophet.  So too men like Jeff Purswell, Gary Ricucci, Bob Kauflin, and Bill Kittrell who have continued to prophesy peace and prosperity over SGM and put C.J. on an exalted pedestal.  The words of Jeremiah come to mind.  

Jer 23:16-17, 21-22 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. [17] They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’… [21] I did not send the [false] prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. [22] But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” 

With that as a backdrop let us examine an authentic prophecy of Jesus.    

Rev 3:15-22 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other! [16] So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. [17] You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. [18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. [19] Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. [20] Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. [21] To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. [22] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

First, we must take note of Christ’s love and patience.  In his kindness, he provided the Laodiceans his assessment.  He didn’t leave them in the dark.  He pointed out their self-righteousness (You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’) and their deception (But you do not realize you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 

Second, he gave them counsel to buy gold refined in the fire, white cloths, and salve to put on their eyes.  He wanted to make them spiritually rich, cover their moral nakedness and enable them to see their true condition.  He reminded them that this rebuke and threatened discipline was an expression of his holy love.        

Third, he commanded them to be earnest, and repent.  Fourth, he conveyed his deep desire for intimacy and communion.  I will come in and eat with him.  Fifth, he promised a place on his throne with him in the eternal state.  

The question was whether or not the church would listen to what the Holy Spirit was saying or whether they would be indifferent (i.e. lukewarm) to his voice.  There was much at stake.  Jesus would either come to dine with Laodiceans or he would vomit them out of his mouth. 

Three years ago today, I began writing Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine in order to help my longtime friend, C.J. Mahaney.  It took two months to compose the 128 page document.  I sent it to him on March 17, 2010.  That was followed by A Final Appeal (168 pages) on October 8, 2010, and Concluding Remarks (202 pages) on  June 8, 2012.  All this was done in private and with a desire to serve him and Sovereign Grace Ministries. 

C.J. provided me limited responses and partial confessions to these three major documents but avoided the most serious issues I raised with him and expressed no willingness to make any kind of public confession.  He was not willing to be open, honest and accountable. 

As a result I wrote, In Need of a Corporate Rebuke – An Appeal to the Covenant Life Elders (11 pages) on June 17, 2012.  I implored the pastors of CLC to act in conjunction with 1 Timothy 5:19-21 and take the disciplinary, but redemptive, action required by the text with C.J.  I also provided them my three previous documents.  They refused to act and isolated me.  

Here is an excerpt from my appeal to them. 

“Scripture requires the action I am taking [in sending these documents] when a leader [C.J.] continues in sin and I am under its authority.  I wish it were not necessary but I trust in the wisdom of God.  It is for C.J.’s good, the good of the movement, and the good of the gospel.  I have avoided any public admonition of C.J. among the elders of Sovereign Grace Ministries over the past 10 years.  I have painstakingly sought to protect his reputation and cover his sin.  But further action is required now.  As an intermediate step I am appealing to you, the Covenant Life Church elders.  C.J. and the Board [Dave Harvey, Joshua Harris, Jeff Purswell] are in need of your admonition [for not dealing with C.J.] which may lead them to repentance.  You should also require C.J. to acknowledge his sins publically.  Anything less is pure favoritism.” (Brent Detwiler, In Need of a Corporate Rebuke – An Appeal to the CLC Elders, p. 2)

My appeal to the CLC elders was an intermediate step.  I did not want to send RRF&D, AFA and CR to all the pastors in SGM.  For a literal decade, I worked privately to help C.J. see and take responsibility for his faults.  I had no choice but to widen the circle as his sins not only continued but worsened. 

I also sent In Need of a Corporate Rebuke to C.J., Dave, Jeff and Joshua who comprised the SGM Board of Directors at the time.  I said the following to C.J.   

“C.J., when I sent you RRF&D last March, I hoped you’d make a public confession to the Sovereign Grace pastors at the Pre-Conference Gathering before Together for the Gospel in April 2010.  I wanted the men to learn from your example and hold you in high esteem.  The same was true after AFA and now CR.  I’ve never desired that any of the CLC pastors learn of your sins from my documents.  But confessions to them, Covenant Life Church, the movement and the SGM pastors have not been forthcoming; therefore an appeal to your elders is required.  My motive is not to ridicule or mock you.  I pray the [CLC] pastors will redemptively learn from your sins “so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.”  That is one of the reasons for reproving “in the presence of all.”  Not just the Governing Board of CLC but among all of the elders.

“I have worked exceedingly hard to make sure my formal accusations are true and just.  In my writings, I avoid hearsay testimony and only draw conclusions when I believe they are supported by ample evidence.  The issues I’ve raised are not contrived and the illustrations I’ve used not embellished. They are real.  I don’t share speculations or opinions as facts because I have no interest in false accusations or bogus charges.  I’ve worked extremely hard to present accurate renditions in their historical context as supported by the facts.  That’s why I’ve always welcomed disagreement.  I’ve wanted my record corrected where faulty.” (Brent Detwiler, In Need of a Corporate Rebuke – An Appeal to the CLC Elders, p. 3)

A week later, C.J. wrote me the following.  I was very encouraged by his correspondence.  

From: C.J. Mahaney 
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:44 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris; Tommy Hill; Tony Reinke; Ken Sande; John Loftness; Bob Kauflin; Gary Ricucci; Carolyn Mahaney; Chad Mahaney
Subject: FW: Change of Heart? 

Brent, 

Thank you for your affection and care.  I trust you know I feel the same toward you.  

In answer to your question, yes, I am changing my mind in regard to your request to give a more thorough response to your documents.  At the same time, I am committed to making a public confession, as detailed below. 

The men around have challenged me to go back again and seek to dig deeper into the issues you’ve brought… Brent, I know my sin has deeply hurt you and others and I want to more clearly acknowledge this wherever I can.  I want to benefit from all God has for me in your documents…. Please pray that God would give me the gift of sight as I continue to examine your documents and my heart.

So here is how I plan to proceed.  In attempting to give a more thorough response to the three documents, my plan was to give particular attention to the 15 areas of concern/sin you think I have yet to perceive or acknowledge.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this approach…. As a result of these steps, my plan is to provide you with my response to your documents that specifically addresses your primary areas of concern.

I also plan to make a public confession to the Sovereign Grace pastors.  My hope is to do this at our November [Pastors’] conference although it’s possible this could take place at an earlier date.  I want my confession to be as fully informed as possible, so I’d like to get the benefit of the independent review process before making it.  It’s also my preference to make this confession in person with the pastors rather than by e-mail.  I want these men to hear my confession and hopefully perceive my conviction/sorrow as well as ask their forgiveness…. And once God has given me a clear understanding of my sin and its impact on others, I anticipate that it will be beneficial for me to make a wider confession to the general public about God’s correction and refinement in my life.

So it is my determined intention to continue to pursue a rigorous evaluation of my heart, involving those inside Sovereign Grace as well as those outside Sovereign Grace who do not have history with me.  I take your charges seriously and I want to do all I can to convince you of this.  Most importantly I want to please and glorify God by walking humbly before him by his grace.  Thanks for helping me to do this.

In His grace,   
C.J.

The next day, C.J. also sent a follow up note.  He was perceiving “a couple of areas of sin” presumably related to the tens areas of sin he ignored in his responses to me (i.e., concealment, cover-up, damage control, spin, manipulation, partiality, favoritism, abuse of authority, lording, wrong-doing by others).

From: C.J. Mahaney
Sent: Saturday, June 25, 2011 1:58 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: Confidential

Brent,

I was reluctant to send this but decided to do so.  I am not trying to impress you or convince you about what I am perceiving in my heart.  But since I began to reengage with your documents a couple of days ago and with the help of others I have already perceived a couple of areas of sin I didn’t clearly perceive previously.  It’s discouraging how slow and dull and blind I can be.  My pride/self-righteousness are no doubt the root cause.  Pathetic really.

Just wanted to inform you of the small incremental stuff that seems to be happening.  My hope is that it continues. 

Thanks for your patience and care my friend.  Please keep praying for me.

With my gratefulness,
C.J. 

Little did I know, however, that C.J., Dave, Jeff and Joshua had already been spinning a web of deception around the SGM pastors two weeks earlier in an attempt to discredit me.  Here’s is an excerpt from the crucial letter Dave sent to the senior pastors which in turn was forwarded to all the pastors.     

From: Dave Harvey
Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2011 4:04 PM
To: Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris; SGM Sr. Pastors
Cc: Tommy Hill
Subject: FW: Confidential - From the Sovereign Grace Board

Hey guys.  I’ve got some family news I want to pass on, so grab a coffee or whatever cause this is going to take a few minutes.  We (Jeff, Joshua & I - the SGM board) want to bring you in on a very difficult situation that has been unfolding for the last 18 months.  It’s an unfinished story, but I’m confident God is at work in some powerful ways.  Let me explain… 

Gentlemen, it ain’t pretty…but it’s a faithful narrative of a sad tale.  Yet we are learning much and we cherish the hope of restored fellowship with Brent in the future.  Until then we labor, together, as partners, in a family, for the gospel. 

On behalf of the Board
Dave  

I had absolutely no idea this letter was sent to all the SGM pastors behind my back until one of them brought it to my attention two weeks after the fact.  I was shocked by the Board’s deceitful action.  I was discouraged by their ridicule.  None of them were taking me or my work seriously.  It demonstrated that C.J.’s last minute willingness to further consider my documents and make a public confession were motivated by his desire to dissuade me from sending out the material to all the SGM pastors (see C.J.’s Foxhole Conversion, Oct 13, 2011).  Of course, he never did either.  I wrote the following.        

“This summed it all up.  Dave’s account was a ‘faithful narrative.’  My 600 pages of documentation were a ‘sad tale.’  All the work, all the effort, all the patience, all the appeals, all the documentation derided as a sad tale.  I am now accustomed to this kind of ridicule by Dave.  To fully appreciate his brilliance, you must contemplate the purposeful contrast.  It was intentional.  Dave’s rendition was faithful to the facts.  His story was true and credible.  My rendition was false and spurious.  And my pathetic tale was also a tall tale.  It was both pitiful and false.  This kind of statement revealed Dave’s true state of heart.  One of arrogance and self-righteousness.” (Brent Detwiler, The Mona Lisa of Spin by Master Harvey, October 20, 2011) 

Of course, I confronted Harvey and the gang for their duplicity and grotesque misrepresentation of the facts.  I heard from Dave first.  

From: Dave Harvey
Sent: Monday, July 04, 2011 1:11 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Jeff Purswell; Josh Harris
Subject: Confidential 

We are sorry but not surprised at how little trust you have in the SGM Board.  We have made many mistakes in how we have sought to respond to your complaints, and we can understand why you have no confidence in our ability to provide objective guidance in resolving the issues you’ve raised.  Your lack of trust in us, combined with our inexperience in handling a conflict of this complexity, heightens the necessity of seeking the assistance of godly and experienced men who can help us address these issues in a trustworthy manner.

Then I heard from Dave, Jeff and Joshua.

From: Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; Joshua Harris   
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2011 5:45 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: FW: Request for Mailing to SGM Pastors
Importance: High 

We know this has upset you and we can understand why.  We have struggled for months to know how to effectively communicate with you.  If you believe our sending this letter was unethical or sinful, please submit that issue to the evaluation panel along with the other complaints you have against us.  We welcome the opportunity to have objective eyes and minds examine all we’ve done so we can see our mistakes and make needed changes.  

All of these were empty promises.  I was never allowed to share this issue or “other complaints” with any panel for evaluation.  This illustration underscores the self-righteous response of the old Board in discrediting 600 pages of carefully (and lovingly) prepared material as nothing but a “tall tale” while presenting their devious version to the SGM pastors as a “faithful narrative.”   

At the heart of Jesus’ rebuke are these words in verse 17, You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  The self-assessment of Laodiceans was categorically at odds with the assessment of Christ.  To be lukewarm is to be blind to one’s own condition.  Their high view of themselves made Christ sick.  The same is true of SGM.  At every point in this process, SGM has refused to acknowledge they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked 

On October 17, 2012 a class action lawsuit comprised of 115 counts was brought against SGM.  Tommy Hill, Director of Finance and Administration and member of the Leadership Team, issued a response which I quote in part. 

“Though not yet served, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leadership has obtained a copy of the civil lawsuit filed last week against SGM and several pastors of its associational churches.  This recent complaint makes broad allegations that SGM pastors were negligent in providing spiritual counsel and pastoral care in situations involving persons who had previously suffered child sexual abuse…. SGM is not in a position to comment on the specific allegations at this time, but we are beginning a careful legal review of each allegation.  Upon initial review it appears the complaint contains a number of untrue or misleading allegations, as well as considerable mischaracterizations of intent.” (Tommy Hill, SGM Leadership Team, Oct 26, 2011) 

Tommy responded on behalf of C.J., Dave Harvey and Jeff Purswell by accusing the plaintiffs of considerable lying, deceit, and the sinful judging of motives.  In time, a judge or jury whether or not this is a self-righteous response by Sovereign Grace Ministries based upon an examination of evidence.     

I am also reminded of C.J.’s instructions at the SGM Pastors Conference in November 2011 which only reinforced a self-righteous perspective in all who attended.  In his mind, Sovereign Grace leaders and pastors had been too humble in dealing with “critics.”  The great need in SGM as stressed by C.J. was for courage.  Courage to “publicly identify those who are divisive.”    

“One thing I would like to say and stress.  We must not let our critics define us, or redefine us…. I think the days ahead are going to require more discernment as it relates to the identification of slander and the influence of slander in our churches.  I think the days ahead are going to require courage on the part of pastors and when necessary publicly identify those who are divisive.  I think the days ahead are not only going to require, I think they are going to require courage.  I think in some ways in SG we have more humility than courage.” (C.J. Mahaney, Nov 9, 2011) 

This kind of rhetoric was most unhelpful to the pastors.  Four days later, SGM Board Member and senior pastor, Mickey Connolly followed through on C.J.’s threat and excommunicated me from the church I founded and turned over to him in Charlotte, North Carolina.  In a letter written to the church in August 2012, Mickey said, 

“I’ve been made aware that Brent Detwiler has emailed a document to many of you regarding what he calls the “ethical demise” in SGM.  While I’m not surprised by this development I am saddened and angry…. Let me be very frank with you…Brent is driven by a sinful lust for vindication and vengeance…. Brothers and sisters, we must not allow this witch hunt of C.J. and other SGM leaders to continue.  We can’t stop Brent from his writing but we can and should refuse to read or listen to the divisive speech he and others continue to spread.  To do otherwise is to poison your soul, damage Crossway and displease God….. The other pastors and I have sensed for some time that we are on the brink of some great things here.  I am excited about our future together.” (Mickey Connolly, Letter to CrossWay Community Church, Aug 3, 2012) 

In response I wrote, The Misguided Focus of Mickey Connolly (August 7, 2012).  Like the Laodiceans, Mickey is oblivious to the fact that this kind of peevish and impervious self-righteousness is the real cause of all the troubles being experienced in SGM and CrossWay Community Church. 

I am reminded of Elijah’s response to the wicked King Ahab. 

1 Kings 18:15-18 Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.” [16] So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. [17] When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” [18] “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied.  “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.” 

The truth be told, every pastor and church member in SGM should be nauseated by the self-righteous responses of C.J., Dave Harvey, John Loftness, the old Board, interim Board and current Board over the past 18 months.  

Revelation 3:14-22 is being fulfilled before their very eyes but they cannot see it.  Instead, they put the blame for all their troubles on “the divisive speech he [Brent] and others continue to spread.”  All that has happen is a virtual witch hunt of “C.J. and other SGM leaders” motivated by hatred and vengeance.  Tragically, they refuse to purchase from Christ the salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.  As a result, their eyes are glued tight and crusted over.  They are blind to their self-righteousness and have no idea that Christ has spit them out of his mouth.  Instead they boast like Mickey,The other pastors and I have sensed for some time that we are on the brink of some great things here.” 

Listen to the words of Jeremiah. 

Jer 6:13-15 “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. [14] They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. [15] Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord.

The men around C.J. have repeatedly told him he is rich and in need of nothing when he is wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  They say the same about Sovereign Grace Ministries in general.  You will find no statement of repentance in any of the literature produced by SGM during this lengthy season of discipline by God the Father.  All the human accountability in SGM, of which they are so proud, has not resulted in any accountability to Christ.  They continue to commend each other and “kill the prophets” Christ has sent them.  Such obnoxious hypocrisy nauseates Christ. 

But all is not lost.  Far from it.  A number of churches are getting it.  Recently, the Miami (Jose Prado) and San Diego (Mark Lauterbach) churches severed ties with SGM.  And last night, Sovereign Grace Church in Fairfax, VA and Sovereign Grace Church in Chesapeake, VA announced their departure.  They are the third and sixth largest churches in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  That brings to 13 the total number of churches that have left over the past 7 months and that number really doesn’t tell the whole story. 

Think about it, in the last four weeks, the first (Covenant Life Church), third and sixth largest churches have left Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Just those three represent 20 percent of all people in SGM and 35% of all monies given to SGM.  But it is not how many people, or how much money, is leaving, but who is leaving.  These three have served as bedrock churches going back to the earliest years of SGM.  They have partnered with SGM for a combined 84 years (CLC 1982, SGC Fairfax 1983, SGC Chesapeake 1987) and made extraordinary contributions to the success of SGM.  

These three churches and their pastors have a unique knowledge of C.J. and SGM.  They should be listened to and imitated.  Instead they have been reproved and their counsel discounted.  So too the wisdom and feedback provided by the other ten churches and their pastors who severed ties with SGM.  This combined voice is a testament against all those who stay.  These 13 churches have left over the corrupt and obstinate leadership culture that now exists in SGM.  I fear for those who remain and will not speak out.  In so doing, they uphold and condone the deceitful and heavy handed practices of SGM.     

When I first wrote C.J. three years ago, I summed up my concerns for him and SGM as follows.       

“I’d love to see our friendship restored.  I’d love to see some acknowledgment of wrong-doing.  I’d love to see issues from the past resolved.  I’d love to be in good standing with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  But all of these hopes and desires are very secondary!   Primarily, I hope and desire to see a restoration of integrity, truth telling and justice in Sovereign Grace so there is no lying, spin, manipulation, lording, cover-up, or partiality.  I am concerned for the movement.  Some men have followed sinful aspects of your example and leadership – the kind referenced in this response.  These men have acted deceitfully, judgmentally, unbiblically, and hypocritically.  Their example in turn, has harmed others and been corrosive in its effect.” (Brent Detwiler, RRF&D, p. 128)  

Not only have none of these issues been acknowledged, C.J. and those around him have denied they are even problems.  I will never forget C.J.’s response to this paragraph.   

“Brent, I don’t think Sovereign Grace in general or anyone I know in particular is ‘lying, covering up, manipulating, lording, etc.’” (C.J. Mahaney, July 2, 2010) 

Self-righteous comments from C.J. have abounded.  Here is another from the 2011 Pastors Conference.   

“Brent’s documents construct a narrative that I disagree with.  That narrative portrays my sins as scandalous, calculated and deceptive, and uncommonly intentionally hypocritical, and pervasively so, and this is false.  Yes, sadly I am a sinner and throughout my Christian life I have never viewed myself otherwise, and I think I have acknowledged this however inadequately throughout my Christian life, but I don’t believe my sins are uncommon or scandalous or disqualifying.  I have never believed that since the day the first document arrived.” (C.J. Mahaney, Pastors Conference, Nov 9, 2011) 

I wrote the following in response. 

“Obviously, C.J. doesn’t think his sins are serious.  That is the great divide.  People have to read my documents to see how I portrayed C.J.  To the best of my knowledge, nothing I’ve written is unfactual, taken out of context or embellished.  The narrative is true, the accusations well documented, the interpretations in keeping with facts, and the judgments based upon evidence.  No one on the old or new Boards have corrected anything in any of the documents.  I draw conclusions (which are not the same as facts) but when I do they are based upon a weighing of evidence.  The reader does not need to agree with my judgments (i.e., assessments) but they are based upon observable and documented patterns of sin.  That is why we need an open adjudication hearing.  The facts show C.J. has willfully committed sins that are “scandalous, calculated, deceptive, and uncommonly hypocritical” on a wide scale basis.     

“C.J. concluded on the very first day (RRF&D, March 17, 2010) his sins were not uncommon, scandalous or disqualifying even for the President of a large Christian organization.  Furthermore, he didn’t wait for any input from anyone else before arriving at this favorable conclusion about himself.  In spite of all the evidence from the past 30 years, C.J. has found nothing shameful, disgraceful or shocking about his conduct.  All very normal.  Nothing disqualifying in the least.  No wonder C.J. was never willing to make a public confession of any kind until June 24, 2011 and that was momentary.  We now know it was a ploy to keep me from sending out the documents.” (Brent Detwiler, C.J.’s State of His Heart Message – Reflection on Personal Sins, December 28, 2011) 

The same kind of self-righteous response came from the interim Board of Directors six days after they were installed by C.J., Dave,  Jeff and Joshua in July 2011. 

“Brent Detwiler’s distribution of written accusations against C.J. Mahaney to all Sovereign Grace pastors constitutes the public slander of Mahaney’s reputation…. The board of Sovereign Grace Ministries has reviewed Brent Detwiler’s documents accusing C.J. Mahaney of sinful practices in the conduct of his ministry and finds no reason at this time to deem him unfit for ministry.” 

--Dave Harvey, Aron Osborne, Craig Cabaniss, Jeff Purswell, John Loftness, Mark Prater, Mickey Connolly, Pete Greasley, Rick Gamache, and Steve Shank

And finally I include C.J.’s meager, one sentence apology regarding his own culpability after Ambassadors of Reconciliation filed their 39 page report on SGM.  

“As the leader of SGM since 1991, I want to sincerely apologize for the ways in which deficiencies in my leadership have contributed to the ministry failures catalogued in this report.” (C.J. Mahaney, April 10, 2012) 

Jesus told the self-righteous church in Laodicea, Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent (3:19).  Jesus has been rebuking and disciplining Sovereign Grace Ministries but this has been steadfastly denied by C.J., Dave Harvey, John Loftness, and other SGM leaders.  Instead of being earnest to repent they have been zealous to commend themselves and defend themselves. 

What remains of Sovereign Grace Ministries has become extremely distasteful to Christ.  His forceful description of vomiting is one of divine disgust.  What we have seen over the past 18 months is Jesus’s vehement rejection of a ministry like a lukewarm liquid in one’s mouth that makes you gag and puke.  

It is certainly true that God will bring down their pride despite the cleverness of their hands. (Isa 25:11) and He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust. (Isa 26:5)  

Over the past three years, I have labored day and night for the good of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  I have wanted the full measure of God’s blessing to rest upon” them.  In the opening paragraph of my second major document, I expressed my sincere motivations behind my work. 

 

“I’d like to begin by reiterating why I’ve put such great effort in writing you at length in a Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine (RRF&D) and, now again, in A Final Appeal (AFA).  At the risk of sounding sanctimonious, I am genuinely concerned for the glory of God, the propagation of the gospel, the testimony of Sovereign Grace Ministries, the well-being of others, and the good of your soul.  I love you.  I love Sovereign Grace Ministries.  I want the full measure of God’s blessing to rest upon you.” (Brent Detwiler, A Final Appeal, October 8, 2011, p. 1)      

I do not hate the brothers at SGM just like the Prophets did not hate Israel or Judah when they were called upon to address their sins, appeal for their repentance or pronounce judgment upon them.  Jesus did not hate the Laodiceans.  As Proverbs 27:5-6 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. 

Oh, how I wish the leaders of SGM had opened the door to Jesus and invited him in to dine.    

Rev 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 

Instead, they refused to listen to his clarion voice and commune with him in the context of hospitality.  That is the only thing that should have matter to C.J. and SGM.  And yet there has been no talk of their sins against the Lord Jesus Christ.  No talk of their self-righteousness.  No grief or sorrow for their transgressions against the Savior.  They have refused him access and turned him away.  

Every pastor in Sovereign Grace Ministries should be experiencing the nausea of Christ because its leaders have not listened to his voice.  Men like C.J., Dave, John and Mickey have locked the front door of SGM to Jesus’s correction.  There are many problems in the ministry but only one of consummate importance.  That is, their rejection of Christ who has stood knocking and appealing for their zealous repentance.  If they had opened the door it would have led to a restoration of intimate fellowship.  Instead they have experienced his divine repulsion. 

Rev 3:15 So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 

Post Script 

Today marks three years of writing.  During the first 18 months, all my appeals to C.J. were made in strict confidence.  That changed in July 2011, when C.J., Dave and the Board of Directors began to actively deceive and mislead Sovereign Grace Ministries by attempting to discredit and cover-up 600 pages of evidence.  As a result, I sent my documents to the SGM pastors and began BrentDetwiler.com in obedience to the will of God. 

Over the last 18 months, the ethical demise of SGM has only increased.  Instead of 600 pages, there are now 2,500 pages of evidence.  The Bible condemns false witnesses.  The charges contained in these pages are rooted and ground in facts that are provable.  Furthermore, I am not the only witness against C.J. and SGM.  There are thousands of witnesses but this has resulted in no public repentance, confession or restitution.      

My goal when I began writing in January 2010 was to preserve and strengthen the ministry I loved by articulating the need for ethical reform starting with C.J.  From my perspective, the ethical decline of SGM began in earnest when C.J. took control of the disciplinary process I introduced in August 2004 that was designed to help my dear friend finally deal with longtime patterns of serious sin that were adversely affecting the cause of Christ (read Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine).  In order to do this, C.J. had to lie, deceive, abuse and manipulate others.  He succeeded.  Over the last 8 years, those tactics have continued and become a part of the leadership culture we now see operating in SGM.      

Revelation 3:14-22 tells the story of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The response of its leaders to the discipline of the Lord has been one of self-righteousness.  They claim to be rich when poor, clothed when naked, and seeing when blind.  According to them, only their polity is in need of reform.  Yet the polity they now propose is worse in critical respects than the polity they already have.  There is no happy future for the leaders, pastors and churches of SGM until they deal with the root issue of pride.  In 18 short months, Sovereign Grace has been cast down and brought low by the Sovereign Lord.  Only a fool would imagine his discipline not continuing over the next 18 months unless there is widespread remorse by its leaders and pastors.  

Soon, I’ll be turning my primary attention away from Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The last three years constitute a peculiar season of labor I could never have imagined.  As King Solomon said, There is an appointed time for everything.  I believe I’ve been faithful to the Lord’s calling during which I’ve had to die, uproot, kill, tear down, weep, mourn, shun, give up as lost, throw away, tear apart, speak, hate and war.  God alone has enabled and sustained me.  

Eccl 3:1-8 

[1] There is an appointed time for everything.  And there is a time for every event under heaven - 


[2] A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

[3] A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

[4] A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

[5] A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

[6] A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.

[7] A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

[8] A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

There will always be battles to fight.  The Christian life is a call to arms.  But there are seasons in our lives like the four seasons of the year.  None are alike.  In this upcoming season, I expect times to give birth, plant, heal, build up, laugh, dance, gather stones, embrace, search, keep, sew together, be silent, love, and for peace. 

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