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Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung and Justin Taylor Defend C.J. Mahaney Against Charges in SGM Sex Abuse Scandal

Theologian Don Carson, pastor Kevin DeYoung and blogger Justin Taylor must have passed the bar examination.  Yesterday they became defense lawyers for C.J. Mahaney on behalf of The Gospel Coalition.  In their first case, they used their inscrutable legal genius to absolve him of all crimes in the SGM sex scandal and all transgressions in the SGM leadership scandal.  It turns out C.J. is the victim according to these spiritual leaders turned legal jurists.    

But wait, let’s examine their arguments before we accept their rulings!

In what follows, I quote from their statement, “Why We Have Been Silent about the SGM Lawsuit” and provide a response.  


A Statement from Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor
Friday, May 24, 2013 at 6:00 AM (CT) 

Over the past several months we have remained publicly silent about the class-action lawsuit filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), which alleged a conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse. 

Response 1 

Don, Kevin and Justin, why do you start off the first sentence with the focus on the “alleged conspiracy?”  It should be on the heinous crimes found in the factual allegations.  Here’s a suggestion for how you should have begun your statement that reflects reality.  

“John Loftness, C.J.’s close friend, staunch supporter, personal pastor and the SGM Chairman of the Board until recently is under criminal investigation for heinous sex crimes!  Some of these inhuman acts are alleged to have been carried out in conjunction with Stephen Griney, who also worked for C.J. and was a longstanding friend.” 

When I took Old Testament 1 in seminary 37 years ago, I was required to read through the Pentateuch five times.  It was a great assignment.  Before reading this post, I have a suggestion.  Read through the Second Amended Complaint five times.  Then cry, weep, howl and pray for justice!  That will put things in proper focus.      


Many have asked why we have not spoken publicly.  Is this a conspiracy of silence, a way to whitewash accusations against a friend?  Is it a way to stand with the powerful and to make a mockery of the weak?  Is it simple cowardice?  Why hasn’t more been said? 

Response 2 

This whole post by Carson, DeYoung, and Taylor is designed to “whitewash accusations” against C.J. found  in the lawsuit, other documents containing thousands of pages of hard evidence and on blogs.  That is evident to any perceptive reader.  Just keep reading. 

This evangelical absolution of C.J. was posted yesterday morning at 7:00 a.m. on The Gospel Coalition website.  It was unnecessary, however, since C.J. was already absolved the night before at 10:40 p.m. by Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and Ligon Duncan on the Together for the Gospel website.  I am sure nothing by Divine Providence was at work in these nearly simultaneous pronouncements of innocence.  I imagine they took C.J. completely by surprise.  But then again, I was born yesterday. 


What We Did Not Intend to Communicate 

We recognize that to some, our not speaking up feels like a betrayal, especially to those who have personally experienced abuse.  Understandably, people want to hear that Christians categorically deplore and despise sexual abuse.  We recognize that on this painful subject inaction can be hurtful and perceived as uncaring. 

Response 3 

Your past silence has been a betrayal.  You could easily have expressed support for the victims, spoken out against the exploitive use of the First Amendment by SGM, expressed alarm over the horrendous allegations, asked C.J. to take a leave of absence, advocated for an expert and independent investigation of the sex abuse scandal by a group like G.R.A.C.E., or contacted me for vital information that would have countered the manipulative talking points you received from C.J.  Instead you remained silent. 

But far worse is your current betrayal of the victims as you defend C.J. and the circle of men around him who conspired to cover up unimaginable acts of sexual abuse.  I know the conspiracy to be true in some cases.  For instance, C.J. conspired with Larry Tomczak, Steve Shank, Larry Malament and others in covering up sex crimes committed by one of Larry’s children.  C.J. used his knowledge of these crimes to blackmail Larry in 1997.  Read all about it in “Concluding Remarks” on pages 133-199 which is available at under SGM Documents.  

Another story will soon break where C.J. conspired to cover up sex crimes for a friend.  It is so hard to stomach the way you have swallowed hook, line and sinker the talking points he and SGM have provided you.  It is nothing but partiality and favoritism of the worse kind. 

One Plaintiff told me, “It was very difficult for many of us to use our real names, but expecting the typical SGM denials and character assassinations we felt it was important to make ourselves known.  I often say the horrid betrayal of the people we trusted was far worse than the abuse itself for so many victims.”  

Read that again!  “The horrid betrayal of the people we trusted was far worse than the [sexual] abuse itself for so many victims.”  Of course, this is all a contrived conspiracy according to you by lawyers and victims who are in it for the money.  God have mercy on your souls for such ignorant and destructive statements.  

Some of these precious victims were willing to go public with their proper names knowing SGM would discredit them.  Why?  To strengthen their case.  You should be commending them, not providing cover for C.J.  

I served on the SGM Board of Directors for 25 years.  I was the #2 man in SGM.  C.J. had a spiritual, legal and fiduciary responsibility to tell me about sex abusers operating in our churches.  He withheld that information from me.  I would have contacted law enforcement officials.  Further abuses would have been stopped.  That constitutes a conspiracy on C.J.’s part to cover up criminal acts.  Get out your law books!  

Furthermore, you should have taken the opportunity in this post to encourage other victims to come forward.  There are more and they are afraid or unwilling to speak out for various reasons.  The same is true of witnesses.  You would know this if you were following the whole story.  


It needs to be said in no uncertain terms that the actual acts alleged in the lawsuit are utterly evil—an offense against a holy God and an act of hatred against innocent children.  They are horrifying and revolting.  Apart from repentance, they are damning.  There is no excuse, at any time or in any place or for any reason, for the use of children for sexual pleasure.  Pastors who learn of such abuses should contact the appropriate authorities immediately, institute church discipline, and apply the whole counsel of God (including both law and gospel).  Every church should have a clear child protection policy, and in every situation of abuse the victims must be assured that they are not responsible for the crimes committed against them.  Furthermore, pastors are responsible to obey all mandatory reporting laws, alerting law-enforcement officials and fully cooperating with all investigations. This is not an alternative to church discipline and gospel counsel, but a necessary and complementary role of divinely instituted civil authorities. 

Response 4 

C.J., John Loftness, Grant Layman, Gary Ricucci and others did none of the above!  They did not institute church discipline, obey reporting laws, alert law enforcement or cooperate with investigations.  They repeatedly did just the opposite.  That is obvious in the case of Nathanial Morales.  It is plan in the detective’s evidence leading up to his arrest last December.  Have your read those 40 pages of evidence?  


The Conspiracy Theory 

Over the past several months we often weighed the idea of writing a statement like this.  Every time we concluded that caution was the better course.  It is generally unwise to make public comments concerning a civil case that is being considered for trial or currently under deliberation.  But now that most of the complaints filed in the SGM Ministries civil lawsuit have been dismissed, it seems an appropriate time to explain our silence and some of our thinking behind it. 

Response 5 

Now you are now being disingenuous because you don’t specify why the complaints were dismissed.  The Judge’s ruling, which is being appealed, had to do with an interpretation of legal theory related to whether or not the statute of limitations applied given the fact that the conspiracy was only recently discovered in August 2011.  See Complaint 31.  

Even SGM makes clear the ruling to dismiss had nothing to do with the substance of the Plaintiffs allegations.  How can you obscure that vital fact? 

“Please note that this ruling does not specifically address the substance of the plaintiffs’ allegations. This was a civil lawsuit requesting financial damages relating to an alleged cover up of abuse. It was not a criminal case trying the innocence or guilt of any of these individuals.” (SGM website, May 20, 2013) 


We have not read the ruling of dismissal from the judge because, to our knowledge, it has not been made public.  We do not know whether the plaintiffs’ attorney will file further charges.  The legal back and forth may continue for some time.  But we have read the explanation offered by the plaintiffs’ attorney regarding the statute of limitations in a civil suit: 

We (the victims and the lawyers) all knew about the statute issue at the outset. But fighting for justice means doing so even against known obstacles.  We had a conspiracy theory to overcome the statute but the Court rejected it. . . . 

Response 6 

Let me provide the entire statement by co-counsel, Susan L. Burke. 

“We (the victims and the lawyers) all knew about the statute issue at the outset.  But fighting for justice means doing so even against known obstacles.  We had a conspiracy theory to overcome the statute but the Court rejected it.  The victims are all brave and courageous people whose willingness to fight against evil has already made a difference in the world.  Also, please realize going forward with a civil lawsuit does not in any way prevent criminal actions – perhaps may even make it more likely.  And please keep praying, as we think the Court erred, and will be appealing her ruling.  All the best, Susan L. Burke.” 

Nowhere in your statement do you commend the victims for their extraordinary courage in coming forward in order to stop sex abuse in SGM churches and the Body of Christ at large.  That is pathetic. 


This is a revealing comment, as it indicates the legal strategy behind the civil suit. (And note that this was a civil suit, not a criminal complaint.  While they certainly believe crimes were committed, this lawsuit itself was only seeking monetary damages.) 

Response 7 

That is a damnable statement!  You must ask forgiveness of all the Plaintiffs and the lawyers.  This lawsuit was about justice!!!  Yet you have the gall to say the lawsuit “was only about seeking monetary damages.”  That is flat out slander of the highest order.  

The Plaintiffs have suffered extraordinary trauma and you are adding to it by such reckless statements.  I wrote the following paragraph seven months ago just after the original Complaint was filed on October 17, 2012. 

“’A plaintiff can either ask for monetary relief, or equitable relief.  Monetary relief is when the plaintiff asks for a cash award to remedy the situation.  Equitable relief is when the plaintiff asks for the court to order the other party to do or not to do something.’  If SGM or any of the defendants are liable, I hope the plaintiff’s ask for both kinds of relief.  I assume they can require SGM to take action that prevents the cover up of child molestation in the future.” (Brent Detwiler, “Random Thoughts on Recent Events,” October 26, 2012) 

The victims and lawyers are far more concerned about equitable relief.  One victim, who was repeatedly raped, told me she intended to keep $1 and frame it as a testimony to justice.  Then she was going to invest the rest of her monies in a non-profit Foundation designed to help the victims of sex abuse.  The other plaintiffs also intended to use their money to prevent abuse, educate the public, and help victims. 

Furthermore, it is despicable for you to characterize the lawyers as ambulance chasers!  You have never met them or talked to them.  I have and they are both decent and honorable.  They too have been fighting for the cause of justice.  You have believed C.J.’s caricature of them.  That is reprehensible.  


The plaintiffs’ counsel in the Sovereign Grace case knew that it could not proceed solely based on the allegations of abuse, given the statute of limitations. (Some of the alleged abuses occurred 25-30 years ago.)  The statute of limitations is not a “legal technicality” but rather an important feature of our judicial system.  The plaintiffs’ counsel therefore alleged a wide-ranging “conspiracy theory,” hoping that this would overcome the legal requirements regarding the time between when the alleged crimes took place and the filing of the civil lawsuit. 

Response 8 

Yes they did and that is a very legitimate legal argument.  Don’t be surprised if they win the appeal which could take two years.  You are hyping a “conspiracy theory” to make it sound like the lawyers and victims are devising some wild eyed notion with no basis in fact.  Listen, I filled out a five page affidavit in support of a conspiracy for good reasons.  Reasons about which you know nothing!  I am also ready to testify in a court of law under oath. 

In addition read these two articles where Grant Layman and Robin Boisvert admit they did not report criminal acts to law enforcement.  Who do you think gave them this counsel and direction?  That’s right – C.J.

Furthermore, the statute of limitations needs to be struck down in cases involving sex abuse.  Are you arguing that children and minors who were repeatedly raped should not be permitted to file a law suit in a Maryland civil court after the age of 21?  This law needs to be changed.  Sex abuse crimes have no statute of limitations under criminal law.  The same should be true under civil law.  Work to get it changed! 

Moreover, do you not know how long it can take these kinds of victims to speak up and get help?   Some never tell anyone.  They live lives of quiet desolation and self-loathing.  

Don, Kevin, Justin, these victims have been greatly harmed!  In one case, the victim has been hospitalized 7 times.  In another case, the victim cannot represent herself having been psychologically disabled (i.e., Dara Sutherland’s sister in Complaint 42).  

The Gospel Coalition should set up a fund for these victims and you should sign over all your book royalties and speaker honorariums for a year!  That is justice and compassion.     


This is apparently what the judge dismissed, determining that it would not even proceed to a trial.  If you listen carefully to the attorneys’ explanations of the case on radio programs and other venues, they essentially acknowledged that they had no proof of a conspiracy.  As the motion to dismiss points out, although C. J. Mahaney is named as an individual defendant, “the sole allegation against him in the Complaint is that he founded Sovereign Grace Ministries (“SGM”) and is currently its President. . . . He is not specifically identified or alleged to have performed any other act or omission throughout the 143-paragraph Complaint.” 

Response 9 

[Note: The First Amended Complaint contained 143 paragraphs.  It was filed on January 11, 2013.  The Second Amended Complaint contained 218 paragraphs.  It was filed on May 14, 2013.  Carson, DeYoung and Taylor wrote this statement on May 24, 2013.  That is, ten days after the Second Amended Complaint was filed.  They never read it.  They are working from the outdated First Amended Complaint even though it was four months old and replaced by the new and expanded Second Amended Complaint.  That is incomprehensible.  As a result, they proceed to make many ignorant comments.]  

You are taking a leap into the dark when you contend “a wide-ranging ‘conspiracy theory” was “apparently” the basis for her dismissal.  That is not what Judge Burrell  stated and you have no court record backing your assertion.  If I had to guess, you only have C.J.’s lawyers whispering in your ears.  Why are you arguing falsely without any evidence?  Why are you demeaning a conspiracy to cover up crimes when you don’t have any facts in support?  Have you talked to C.J.’s lawyers?  Have you exchange emails with them?  Are they setting you up and using you?  

The plaintiffs’ lawyers also made clear they needed to deposition C.J. and others in order to gather more evidence to further buttress their arguments for a conspiracy.  C.J. just barely evaded their grasp.  It did not happen.  He was never deposed.  The case was dismissed for other reasons in the nick of time.  Thank God that will not be the case in the criminal investigations. 

Here are the Complaints against C.J. that you dismiss in such a cavalier fashion.  

109.  Defendants Ecelbarger, Gallo, Mullery and V. Hinders, conspiring together and with Defendants Mahaney and Loftness, violated their mandatory reporting obligations and conspired together to cover up [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]’s molestation of children. 

112.  Defendants Ecelbarger, Mullery, V. Hinders and D. Hinders conspired with Defendant Loftness, Mahaney, and upon information and belief the other individual Defendants to cover up [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion]’s ongoing molestation of young children and to violate the laws on mandatory reporting. Defendant Mahaney and Loftness imposed “church discipline” on [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion] for failing to control his [name withheld pending court ruling on defense motion].  This conspiracy remains ongoing. 

138.  Discovery will show that Defendants Mullery, David Hinder and Vince Hinders spoke with Maryland-based Defendants Mahaney and Loftness, and together conspired to prevent any reporting to the secular authorities. 

157.  Rather than report the ongoing abuse to the secular authorities or take any steps to stop the abuse, Defendants informed the father that his children had reported the abuse.  This led to further abuse by the father.  In exchange for the conspiracy of silence, the abusive father paid to send Defendants Mahaney, Ricucci and Layman and their families on vacation to the Kiawah Islands, South Carolina. 

You must know there is a huge difference between the amount of evidence put in a lawsuit and the amount of evidence that actually exists.  The plaintiff’s lawyers have far more evidence than they have revealed and more evidence comes in every week.  The same is true of law enforcement officials.  You have let C.J. off the hook and you will regret it.      


So the entire legal strategy was dependent on a conspiracy theory that was more hearsay than anything like reasonable demonstration of culpability. As to the specific matter of C. J. participating in some massive cover-up, the legal evidence was so paltry (more like non-existent) that the judge did not think a trial was even warranted. 

Response 10 

You have no proof the Judge “did not think a trial was even warranted” because “the legal evidence” regarding a conspiracy “was so paltry (more like non-existent).”  SGM cited the reasons for the dismissal in their press release on May 14.   Did you even read it?  A “wide-ranging ‘conspiracy theory’” had nothing to do with the grounds for dismissal.       

Statement by Sovereign Grace Ministries Regarding the Amended Complaint Filed May 14, 2013 

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) and as to Covenant Life School, Inc. (for being the incorrect corporate entity associated with the timeframe of the claims). 

Don, Kevin, and Justin, you have made up reasons for the dismissal that are bogus.  That is shameful.  


Would it have served anyone to take to the blogosphere to express our legal opinion about the conspiracy allegations before the case was decided, much less before it even went to trial?  Would it have changed anyone’s mind?  Would it have helped the case itself in any way?  We deemed it wiser to let an impartial judge rule on whether the case should be considered, making a determination based on all the facts available. 

Response 11 

Your legal opinion about conspiracy allegations carries absolutely no weight.  You are church leaders, not lawyers.  You do not quote Judge Burrell.  You give reasons for the dismissal that neither the Defendants lawyers or the Plaintiff’s lawyers have given.  In fact, you totally ignore the reasons given by Counsel so you can put forward your faulty conspiracy theory in C.J.’s defense. 


Another reason we have remained silent is because we have detailed charges from one side, but essentially no defense from the other side.  Scripture warns us about what often happens in such a situation: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17).   

Response 12 

Are you claiming you have not talked with C.J. or anyone associated with C.J. to hear his side of the story?  Are you saying you have heard “essentially no defense” from anyone?  Not from Mohler, Dever or Duncan?  Not from C.J.’s lawyers?  

Can I subpoena your emails and phone log to verify this is true?  Or will you take a polygraph test?  Your choice.  Furthermore, you have only heard C.J. charges against me.  You have never heard my charges against him.  When can we set up a meeting?  And can I bring 25-30 other witnesses with me who will tell you the same things about C.J.?  All notable leaders in SGM over the years. 


Can anyone say with certainty who is innocent and who is guilty in these multiple allegations spanning several decades? 

Response 13 

Yes.  The plaintiffs who have been molested, assaulted, beaten and raped and those that witnessed the crimes. 


This is why we have courts, and why the Bible calls us to prudence.  If we must denounce and separate from everyone or every ministry facing serious allegations, any one of us could be publicly ruined in a matter of days by nothing more than accusations. 

Response 14 

No one I know of in Christian ministry has ever been charged like C.J. by so many close friends with so many serious transgressions over so long period of time!  It has nothing to do with ruining a good man.  He simply does not meet the biblical qualifications for  ministry.  You should remove him or call a Church Court for a hearing.  There are countless other reasons why people should separate from Sovereign Grace Ministries not including American Evangelicalisms’ biggest sex abuse scandal to date. 


High-profile Christians are sometimes targeted not because they are guilty, but because they are well known.   

Response 15 

That may be true but it has no bearing on C.J.  Are you really saying that C.J. is being “targeted” because he is “well known.”  Nothing could be further from the truth. 


While those who are shown to be guilty should be exposed with rigor and with tears, surely as brothers and sisters in Christ we must understand how much gain there is for those who hate the gospel when Christian leaders are unfairly attacked and diminished. 

Response 16 

Are you saying C.J. has been unfairly attacked and diminished?  No he has not.  You are the ones advancing a bogus “wide-ranging conspiracy theory’’ now.  C.J. has gotten off the hook.  He was never held to account.  Charges against him were never heard.  He got a get out of jail free card by those who curried his favor, craved his approval and feared his wrath.  No one in all of SGM history has ever been treated with such partiality and favoritism.  Everyone in SGM knows that to be true.  

I am deeply offended when you say C.J. being “unfairly attacked and diminished” has given gain to those who hate the gospel.  No, no, no!  C.J. being a hypocrite has given gain to those who hate the gospel.  They have many reasons to reject his gospel given his example and mistreatment of others. 

Furthermore, C.J.’s pride, deceit, lording and hypocrisy have disillusioned tens of thousands including the sex abuse victims in the lawsuit who once trusted and respected him.  Some have become atheists as a result.  Many have given up on the church because of C.J. and SGM.  You have it completely backwards. 

Most importantly, these victims of sex abuse are the ones who have been “unfairly attacked and diminished” by the conspiracy they have observed up close and personal and you dismiss as “non-existent” fantasy.  You have now made your own contribution to the abuse of these victims. 


We agree with the Heidelberg Catechism that obeying the ninth commandment requires more than telling the truth; it means we do not “join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without a just cause.”  Instead, “I should do what I can to guard and advance my neighbor’s good name” (Q/A 112). 

Response 17 

C.J. has repeatedly lied over the past 10 years.  That is carefully documented.  He refused to allow a hearing of charges against him knowing he’d be found guilty.  That is carefully documented.      

Have you not read and studied the mountains of evidence and testimony against him?  There is overwhelming just cause for condemning him (i.e. finding him guilty).  Just study the evidence.  There are not two or three witnesses against him.  There are hundreds and they were all friends. 


Please do not hear us saying that we assume all of the plaintiffs are lying. 

Response 18 

Are you saying some of the plaintiffs are lying?  If so on what basis?  Do you assume C.J. is telling the truth?  If so, you are fools.  He has deceived the most discerning among us for many years.  


We do not assume all the defendants are innocent, or that they are all guilty.  We are not privy to the sort of information necessary to make that determination.   

Response 19 

Nor are you privy to sort information necessary to declare C.J. innocent like you do in this post.  Therefore, you should remain quiet instead of defending him without evidence and contrary to the evidence that has been put forward in the legal and criminal record. 


Where the allegations are accurate, we have nothing but the deepest sympathy for the victims, desiring that legal justice might prevail and that they might know the Lord’s healing and vindication.  And where allegations may be false or misconstrued, we sympathize with those whose reputations have been unfairly tarnished with no public recourse.  This is a tangled mess.  It is enormously complicated, with multiple allegations at multiple levels over multiple years, with multiple amendments. 

Response 20 

[Note: Even though Carson, DeYoung & Taylor have knowledge of “multiple amendments” to the lawsuit, they do not use or work from the new and expanded second amendment in this statement.  That suggests a deceitful choice to use the First Amended Complaint, instead of the Second Amended Complaint, because the latter specifically alleges that C.J. Mahaney was part of a conspiracy at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD and at Sovereign Grace Church in Fairfax, VA.]

This is not a tangled mess for the victims.  They know what happen to them.  They know how things were covered up.  The assaults are well documented.  They are clearly stated.  Unfortunately, the ruling for dismissal prevented the on-going gathering of evidence in the civil suit.  Now we must pray for the criminal investigations to prevail.  We should also pray the FBI takes over the case in the future.  That is the hope of the victims and their families.  


Which is why if a case were to go to trial, it would involve hundreds of hours of evidence and deliberation by an impartial judge and jury seeking to discern the truth and to bring justice to bear.  Discerning the full truth is not always a simple matter, and it does not seem to us that blog posts and tweets are the best medium to serve the cause of truth.  In hindsight we still believe restraint has been the wiser path. 

Response 21 

Discerning the truth is not hard.  Gathering the evidence necessary to convict the pedophiles and those who concealed their crimes is hard. 


The Face of the Lawsuit 

There are two other facts that may be germane to this discussion: (1) some have tried to make C. J. Mahaney the “face” of the SGM lawsuit, and (2) we are friends with C.J. 

Response 22 

Rightly so.  C.J. is the “face” of the lawsuit for two reasons.  

1)     He was the senior pastor of Covenant Life Church from 1980-2004 when most of the  crimes took place.  Some of those crimes were known to him (e.g. David Adams, Nathanial Morales).  Further crimes could have been stopped by him.  Defendants John Loftness, Gary Ricucci, and Grant Layman worked for C.J.  They carried out his counsel and directives in relation to David Adams, Nathanial Morales and others.

2)     He was the President/Chairman of SGM from 1990-2011.  He just resigned as President in April.  The crimes committed in Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax and City Church of Atlanta were known to him.  He provided counsel and direction to the pastoral staff in Fairfax.  He conspired with Tomczak to cover up criminal acts in Atlanta.  These are not the only occasions where he acted in this fashion. 


Reports on the lawsuit from Christianity Today and World Magazine (among others) explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to C. J., connecting the suit to recent changes within SGM.   

Response 23 

This is a contrivance intended to discredit Christianity Today and World Magazine for their coverage.  These publications did not “connect…the suit to recent changes within SGM.”  They simply reported on both stories in the same article(s).  There is a big difference.  For instance, they never implied or said “C.J. is a bad leader.  Therefore he must be covering up sex abuse.”    

The Gospel Coalition is now using all its power to effectively censure Christianity Today, World Magazine and other publications.  That is unprecedented and frightful.  They should be stopped.  Carson, DeYoung and Taylor don’t own The Gospel Coalition.  And yet they are using this parachurch organization to censure the conservative evangelical world by defending one of its celebrities in total disregard for all the evidence presented against C.J. from hundreds of people over the last 15 years.    

But here is the truth.  There is a connection between the lawsuit and the upheaval in SGM.  The sex abuse scandal demonstrates on a horrid level the same kinds of sins that have characterized all the non-sexual scandals by C.J. and his inner circle of enablers that have preceded it.  

Remember, half the people in SGM churches have left.  So have 100 plus leaders and nearly 30 churches.  More are on their way.  Most of C.J.’s closest friends from the last 20-30 years are gone.  They don’t trust him and they don’t respect him.  They know him far better than Carson, DeYoung or Taylor.  C.J.’s deceit, hypocrisy and abusive treatment is well documented.  Literally, thousands of people would testify to these sins in his life.  


He has also been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some.   

Response 24 

Don, Kevin and Justin, please specify the libel to which you are referring.  What evidence do you have for this statement?  I am glad to offer my perspective on whether C.J. has been slandered or whether you have believed he’s been slandered because that is what he has told you! 

And now to the most entertaining comment by these men.  C.J. has been the object of “a Javert-like obsession by some.”  In case you don’t know, Inspector Javert is the despicable police official in Les Miserables that relentlessly pursues Jean Valjean over a legal trifle.  He is a horrible legalist and villain.  Obviously, they have me primarily in mind.

This doesn’t bother me on a personal level.  It does bother me on a judicial level.  The charges I have brought against C.J. are ever so serious and ever so numerous.  They have never been addressed.  That is clear in my writings.

Don, I have written you twice.  You never responded to me.  Don, Kevin, and Justin, I’ve written you collectively on several occasions.  None of you have talked to me or contacted me.  All your information comes from C.J.  Let’s set up a time where I can present my evidence to you and answer your questions.  Give me a call or email for a time to meet.  I am dead serious!  

And would you answer this question for me.  Have your ever read “Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine,” “A Final Appeal,” or “Concluding Remarks” for starters.  They are all available on  If not, you should be silent in venturing an opinion about C.J. because you have not interacted with the evidence.     


One of the so-called discernment blogs—often trafficking more in speculation and gossip than edifying discernment—reprinted a comment from a woman who issued this ominous wish, “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] and every single perpetrator and co-conspirator financially, mentally and physically.” 

Response 25 

There are thousands of comments on SGM Survivors and of course these men select this one as though representative of all the comments.  Wow, they must think we are just plain stupid.  

If this blog had not posted the horrific stories of sexual abuse related to “Noel,” “Taylor,” “Happymom” and “Wallace,” the 11 Plaintiffs and other victims would never have discovered each other.  Nor would the conspiracy been discovered.  These dear souls would have continued in isolation thinking they were the only ones’ raped, sodomized, beaten, and betrayed by those they trusted. 


We are not ashamed to call C. J. a friend.  Our relationship with C. J. is like that with any good friend—full of laughter and sober reflection, encouragement and mutual correction.  He has regularly invited—even pursued—correction, and we have given him our perspective when it is warranted.  While the admission of friendship may render this entire statement tainted in the eyes of some, we hope most Christians will understand that while friends should never cover for each others’ sins, neither do friends quickly accept the accusations of others when they run counter to everything they have come to see and know about their friend.  We are grateful for C. J.’s friendship and his fruitful ministry of the gospel over many decades. 

Response 26 

Don, Kevin, Justin, none of you have worked with C.J.  None of you really know C.J.  Not like Dave Harvey.  Not like Joshua Harris.  Not like me.  Not like scores of other leaders who have worked with him over many years and then separated from him.  

You know the charismatic C.J.  You talk to him on the phone, email him, exchanged book endorsements, have dinner with him, speak at conferences together, enjoy his encouragement and laugh at his jokes.  He has never been your boss.  You have never been his pastor.  You have not been responsible to confront him in an ongoing fashion or hold him accountable for change that was needed.  In a nutshell, you have never done life with C.J.  

We all know the “counter to everything” C.J. you are describing.  We felt the same way about him.  But in time, scores of individual leaders who related closely to C.J. had terrible experiences with C.J.  There are a couple hundred former leaders from SGM who remain unreconciled to C.J.  None of us thought we would ever leave SGM.  We were friends for life.  

Don, Kevin and Justin, you are idolizing someone who has left a wide swath of destruction in his wake.  Talk to the 13,000 people who have left SGM over the past six years.  Talk to the 1,500 adult members (93.3%) at Covenant Life Church who voted to leave SGM last December.  Talk to the 100 SGM pastors/elders that have left in the past 10 months.  Talk to Dave Harvey.  Talk to Joshua Harris.  Talk to me.  Talk to the victims. 



We are not in a place to adjudicate all the charges leveled against Sovereign Grace Ministries or the specific individuals named in the lawsuit. The purpose of this statement is not to render a verdict on the charges, nor in any way to trivialize the sins alleged. We realize some will construe this post as confirmation of their worst suspicions, but we trust most of our brothers and sisters will be able to consider our explanation with an open heart and a fair mind. Our silence was not decided upon lightly; neither was our decision to break this silence.  Our prayer is that one day—and please, Lord, soon—all who face injustice of any kind will see the Lord bring forth his righteousness as the light, and his justice as the noonday (Ps. 37:6). 

Response 27 

You are not in a position to adjudicate any of the charges brought against C.J. or SGM because you have not done a formal investigation or interviewed those who have brought the charges.  The best I can tell you have only interacted with the victimizer and on that basis presented him to the evangelical world as the consummate victim in this irresponsible post.  In so doing, you are defending the indefensible and showing yourself to be without discernment in the matter.  You should be disbarred.  No one should follow your legal counsel.     

Post Script 

Don, Kevin, Justin, would you do me a favor?  Please forward this to Al, Lig and Mark.  I don’t plan to respond to their defense of C.J. separately.  This will suffice.


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