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Leaders in the Body of Christ Speak Out Against Shepherds Who Side with Wolves (Sex Abusers) that Devour Lambs (Children)

The many victims of physical and sexual abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries must be encouraged to read the statement that follows by a large and highly reputable segment of the Body of Christ from across the United States and different parts of the world.  They too have been “angered and distressed…and deeply grieved” by “shepherds” who side with “wolves” (i.e., sex abusers) that devour “lambs” (i.e., children) and thereby “joined with those who perpetrate crimes.” 

These reputable men and women confess to victims everywhere in the evangelical church.    

”To all who have been abused, broken, deceived and ignored, we have failed you and our God.  We repent for looking nothing like our Lord when we have silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you and then acted as if you were the problem.  You are not the problem; you are the voice of our God calling his church to repentance and humility.  Thank you for having the courage to speak truth.” 

I am specifically grateful for the courage demonstrated by each of the Plaintiffs in the Second Amended Complaint (i.e., lawsuit) against Sovereign Grace Ministries and others Defendants.  

  • Heather Thompson Bryant
  • Jessica Roberts-Thomas
  • Dara Sutherland
  • Renee Palmer Gamby
  • James Roberts
  • Jane Doe
  • Karen Koe
  • Karl Koe
  • Carla Coe
  • Grace Goe
  • Donna Doe  

I am also grateful for all the victims and witnesses that have come forward whose names are not public.  The evidence you are providing is vital.  I encourage anyone with evidence to contact law enforcement and/or the Plaintiffs’ lawyers. 

Detective Sally Magee
Family Crimes Division
Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland

Susan L. Burke
Law Offices of Susan L. Burke
1611 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD   21217
(410) 733-5444
William T. O’Neil
The O’Neil Group LLC
7500 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 1375
Bethesda, MD 20814

Time and time again, C.J. Mahaney (former President), John Loftness (former Chairman) and the Sovereign Grace Board of Directors have put out categorical statements denying all wrong doing and insisting there is no evidence of a conspiracy.  These are some of the biggest lies ever to be propagated by leaders of an evangelical organization.  They have been shown to be false.     

Thank God there are countless leaders who now see through this charade of righteousness and are speaking out (e.g. the Southern Baptist Convention with 13 million members).  The statement below is a humble confession and forceful rebuke.  The “well known international ministry” is a reference to Sovereign Grace Ministries.  The “subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders” are in reference to  Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler from Together for the Gospel and Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor from The Gospel Coalition. 

These men, and others aligned with them, have greatly erred because they did not study the incriminating evidence against C.J. Mahaney or Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Nor did they talk to the victims or those bringing charges against the ministry.  Instead they acted upon bogus information provided by C.J. and his enablers.  As a result, they were biased in their assessment and acted out of favoritism.  In so doing, they chose to violate 1 Timothy 5:21 for their celebrity friend. 

I’d encourage everyone reading this post to sign the petition that is referenced.  One day, I hope Dever, Duncan, Mohler, Carson, DeYoung, and Taylor add their signatures too.  

This confession and rebuke also entails a commitment by these leaders to “respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage…on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten.”  How wonderfully refreshing.  It brings me to tears.  My sincere thanks to every signatory! 

A Public Statement Concerning
Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ

Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church.  These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children.  This is a longstanding problem in the Christian world, and we are deeply grieved by the failures of the American and global Church in responding to the issue of sexual abuse.  We do not just believe we should do better; as those who claim the name of Jesus and the cause of the Gospel, we are convinced we must do better.  In the hope that a time is coming when Christian leaders respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage, we offer this confession and declare the Good News of Jesus on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten. 

Through the media we have been confronted with perpetual reports of grievous sexual abuse and its cover-up.  Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims.  And while many evangelical leaders have eagerly responded with outrage to those public scandals, we must now acknowledge long-silenced victims who are speaking out about sexual abuse in evangelical Christian institutions: schools, mission fields and churches, large and small.  And we must confess we have done far too little to hear and help them. 

Holocaust survivor and author, Elie Weisel, once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim…silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  When we choose willful ignorance, inaction or neutrality in the face of evil, we participate in the survival of that evil.  When clergy, school administrations, boards of directors, or military commanders have been silent or have covered up abuse, they have joined with those who perpetrate crimes against the “little ones” – often children, but also others who are on the underside of power because of size, age, position or authority. 

It goes without saying that sexual abuse is criminal, but within the Church we also believe that it is the work of the enemy of our souls — evil, horrific sin perpetrated in dark and hidden places, forever altering lives and destroying the faith of the abused.  How could such evil be present and overlooked in the body of Christ?  Surely as his followers, we would do everything in our power to expose the deeds of darkness, opening the mouths of the mute, the afflicted and the needy.  The Church must never hinder those who so desperately need to run to God and his people for safety, hope and truth, while also providing them protection from the great deceiver. 

But we have hindered the victims.  By our silence and our efforts to protect our names and institutions and “missions,” we, the body of Christ, have often sided with an enemy whose sole purpose is and has always been to destroy the Lamb of God and his presence in this world.  Our busyness and inattention have often resulted in complicity in allowing dark places that shelter abuse to fester and survive. 

We must face the truths of our own teachings: To be a shepherd in the body of Christ and blind to the knowledge that your sheep are being abused by wolves in your midst is to be an inattentive shepherd. To judge merely by outward appearances is a failure of righteousness.  To fail to obey the laws of the land as Scripture commands by declining to report and expose abuse is to be a disobedient shepherd. To be told that wolves are devouring our lambs and fail to protect those lambs is to be a shepherd who sides with the wolves who hinder those same little ones from coming to Jesus.  To fail to grasp the massive web of deception entangling an abuser and set him or her loose among the sheep is to be naïve about the very nature and power of sin.  To be told a child is being or has been abused and to make excuses for failing to act is a diabolical misrepresentation of God.  To know a woman is being raped or battered in hidden places and silence her or send her back is to align with those who live as enemies of our God.  Protecting an institution or organization rather than a living, breathing lamb is to love ministry more than God and to value a human name or institution more than the peerless name of Jesus. 

Dear church of Jesus Christ, we must set aside every agenda but one: to gently lead every man, woman and child into the arms of our Good Shepherd, who gave his very life to rescue us from the clutches of our enemy and from sin and death — who rose from the dead and called us to the safety of his side.  As we follow this Good Shepherd, we will “eliminate harmful beasts from the land, make places of blessing for the sheep, deliver them from their enslavers and make them secure in places where no one will make them afraid” (Ezekiel 34:25-28).  Surely it is for such a time as this that the Church has been empowered to boldly and bravely embody the Good News to accusers and accused alike, and to forsake our own comfort and position to love the hurting with an illogical extravagance. 

To all who have been abused, broken, deceived and ignored, we have failed you and our God.  We repent for looking nothing like our Lord when we have silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you and then acted as if you were the problem.  You are not the problem; you are the voice of our God calling his church to repentance and humility.  Thank you for having the courage to speak truth.  May God have mercy on us all and oh may the day come when his church reflects the indescribable love and compassion of Jesus, even to the point of laying down our lives for his precious sheep. 

Dated this 17th day of July, 2013. 

Click here to add your voice and sign this statement along with those listed below.  

Carol Ajamian, Retired
Jim Arcieri
Pastor of Community Bible Fellowship Church in Red Hill, PA
William S. Barker
Professor of Church History, Emeritus at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)
Steve Brown
Professor, Emeritus of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry at Reformed Theological Seminary, President of Key Life Network, Inc., and Author
P. J. (“Flip”) Buys
Associate International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship, South Africa
Rebecca Campbell
Member of the Board of Trustees at Biblical Theological Seminary
Alan Chambers
Founder, Speak.Love
Kelly Clark
Attorney with the law firm of O’Donnell Clark and Crew, LLP in Portland, OR
Julie Clinton
President of Extraordinary Women
Tim Clinton
President of the American Association of Christian Counselors and Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care at Liberty University
Wentzel Coetzer
Professor of Theology at Northwest University (Potschefstroom, South Africa)
James Courtney
Ruling Elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Rye, NY
Margaret Courtney
Co-Director of Family Ministries at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Rye, NY
Glenn Davies
Bishop of North Sydney, Australia
D. Clair Davis
Chaplain at Redeemer Seminary
Chuck DeGroat
Associate Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care at Western Theological Seminary and Senior Fellow at Newbigin House
Mary DeMuth
Author and Blogger
David G. Dunbar
Professor of Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary
Diana S. Durrill
Pastor’s wife and Sexual abuse survivor
Michael J. Durrill
Pastor of Valley Community Church in Louisville, CO
William Edgar
Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)
Rob Edwards
Pastor of Mercy Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Forest, VA
Mr. Rinaldo Lotti Filho
Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Sao Paulo)
Elyse Fitzpatrick
Counselor and Author
Ryan Ferguson
Pastor of Community Connection at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC
E. Robert Geehan
Pastor of The Reformed Church in Poughkeepsie, NY (RCA)
Shannon Geiger
Counselor at Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Dallas, TX
Douglas Green
Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)
Fred Harrell, Sr.
Senior Pastor of City Church in San Francisco, CA
Robert Heerdt
Chief Investment Officer at Benefit Works, Inc.
Walter Henegar
Senior Pastor of Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Atlanta, GA
Craig Higgins
Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Westchester County, NY and North American Regional Coordinator for the World Reformed Fellowship
Justin Holcomb
Author and Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary
Lindsey Holcomb
Author and former case manager for sexual assault crisis center
Peter Hubbard
Pastor of Teaching at North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC
Carolyn James
President of WhitbyForum
Frank James
President of Biblical Theological Seminary
Karen Jansson
Board member of the World Reformed Fellowship Board Member and Treasurer of the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund, USA
Kathy Koch
President and Founder of Celebrate Kids
Matthew Lacey
Development Director for GRACE
David Lamb
Associate Professor of Old Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary
Diane Langberg
Clinical Psychologist and Author
Daniel N. LaValla
Director of Library Services and Development Associate at Biblical Theological Seminary
Samuel Logan
International Director of the World Reformed Fellowship, President Emeritus of Westminster Theological Seminary (PA), and Special Counsel to the President at Biblical Theological Seminary
Tremper Longman
Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College
Kin Yip Louie
Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at China Graduate School of Theology
Fergus Macdonald
Past President of the United Bible Societies (Scotland)
Todd Mangum
Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary
Dan McCartney
Professor of New Testament at Redeemer Seminary
Scot McKnight
Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary and Author
Jonathan Merritt
Faith and Culture writer
Pat Millen
Member of the Board of Trustees at Biblical Seminary
Philip Monroe
Professor of Counseling and Psychology at Biblical Theological Seminary
Amy Norvell
Director of Classical Conversations in Bryan/College Station, TX, Pastor’s wife, and Sexual abuse survivor
Thad Norvell
Pastor at Community Church in Bryan/College Station, TX
K. Eric Perrin
Senior Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Cherry Hill, NJ
Michael Reagan
President of the Reagan Legacy Foundation
Matthew Redmond
Nathan Rice
Director of Middle School Ministries at First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Bellevue, WA
Tamara Rice
Freelance Writer and Editor
Adam L Saenz
Clinical Psychologist and Author
Karen L. Sawyer
Vice Chair and Chair Elect of the Board of Trustees, Biblical Theological Seminary and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Arcadia University
Scotty Smith
Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN
Ron Scates
Preaching Pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Dallas, Texas
Andrew J. Schmutzer
Professor of Biblical Studies at Moody Bible Institute
Chris Seay
Pastor at Ecclesia in Houston, TX
Mike Sloan
Associate Pastor at Old Peachtree Presbyterian Church in DuLuth, GA
Basyle J. Tchividjian
Executive Director, GRACE and Associate Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law
Laura Thien
LMHC and Board Chairperson of the Julie Valentine Center in Greenville, SC
Jessica Thompson
Rick Tyson
Senior Pastor at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Willow Grove, PA
John Williams
Ruling Elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Washington Island, WI
John Wilson
Pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria, Australia
William Paul Young


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