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Wednesday
Oct192016

My Correspondence with Wayne Grudem Regarding His Support of C.J. Mahaney

Wayne Grudem is like so many other national leaders who have blindly vindicated C.J. Mahaney without ever looking into the overwhelming evidence against him.  I wrote Grudem about this in July 2013.  He had just moved to teach at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 5:46 PM
To: Wayne Grudem (wgrudem@ps.edu); wgrudem@phoenixseminary.edu
Subject: Please Reconsider Your Support of C.J.

Hello Wayne,

It has been a long while since we have greeted each other.  I hope you are surviving the sweltering temperatures in Phoenix!  I imagine you miss the much cooler temperatures in Deerfield, IL this time of year.

The exchange of emails below was forward to me by Mr. Wilhelm.  They left me concerned and I felt the need to write.

From: Todd Wilhelm [toddlwilhelm@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 12:57 PM
To: Wayne Grudem
Subject: Mahaney

Dear Dr. Grudem,

I understand you are scheduled to speak at C.J. Mahaney’s church on the 21 July.  I would urge you to reconsider.  Prudence would dictate that national leaders such as yourself refrain from indirectly supporting those who cover up sexual abuse in their church.

Thank you,
Todd Wilhelm

http://thouarttheman.org/2013/07/08/the-hall-of-shame/

“I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”  Ezekiel 34:15-16

From: Wayne Grudem <wgrudem@phoenixseminary.edu>
Subject: RE: Mahaney
Date: July 9, 2013 2:39:42 AM GMT+04:00
To: Todd Wilhelm <toddlwilhelm@gmail.com>

Dear Todd,

My name is John Paul Stepanian, and I am Dr. Grudem’s assistant as well as a student here at Phoenix Seminary.  One of my jobs is to see to Dr. Grudem’s correspondence on his behalf.

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Dr. Grudem speaking at CJ’s church.  Dr. Grudem has the challenging task of weighing many worthy and intriguing requests.  His current research, teaching, speaking engagements and family commitments have filled his schedule, and unfortunately he will be unable to answer your questions directly.  Please accept his regrets.  Dr. Grudem has asked me to personally respond to these requests on his behalf.

Dr. Grudem is speaking at CJ’s church specifically so that he can signal support for CJ in the face of unjust accusations.  No further communication on this subject will be responded to.

May God bless your continued work for His kingdom.

Sincerely,

John Paul Stepanian
MA to Dr. Grudem
Phoenix Seminary

On behalf of:
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies
Phoenix Seminary

Please reconsider your decision to preach at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville this Sunday in order to “signal support for C.J. in the face of unjust accusations.”  C.J. has not been on the receiving end of unjust accusations.  The charges against him are supported by overwhelming evidence and scores of witnesses. 

Wayne, C.J. was my dear friend as you well know.  He is your friend.  But tragically he has deceived a lot of people with his spiritual gifts and magnanimous personality.  The broad accusations against him are true and they are serious. 

Please study the evidence and help him come to repentance; otherwise, you will enable him like other leaders have mistakenly done.  I know you love C.J. and are indebted to C.J. but defending him in light his guilt is not being the friend he needs.

Thank you for the many ways you have served Sovereign Grace Ministries over the years.  

Sincerely
Brent

I wrote Wayne on July 17.  He spoke at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville on July 21.  I wrote him again the next day. 

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, July 22, 2013 8:50 AM
To: Wayne Grudem
Subject: Can We Talk about Endorsement of C.J.
Importance: High

Dear Wayne,

Could we please talk by phone in the near future?  People are distressed by your endorsement of C.J. as “a man of very high integrity and exemplary Christian character.”  I fear you are unacquainted with all the charges against him.  Please allow me to catch you up on the evidence.  I mean C.J. no harm.  I continue to pray for his restoration.  I am also happy to interact via correspondence if you prefer. 

Yesterday you preached on “Keep Your Heart with All Vigilance” from Proverbs 4:23.  You told the church it was the same message you gave in April 2004 at our Leadership Conference.  I remember it well because Dave Harvey, Steve Shank, myself and others were trying ever so hard at the time to help C.J. see and take responsibility for his hypocrisy.  He was not watching over his heart.

I’ve attached Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine.  Note the “Summary of Concerns” on pages 9-12 from April 2004. 

I’ve also attached the Second Amended Complaint.  It grieves me to tell you this but C.J. is guilty of leading others in a conspiracy to cover up the criminal activity of sex offenders. 

Please drop me a line so we can set up a time to talk.  C.J. has not listened to scores of dear friends.  It is my hope that men like you will study the evidence so you can address him.  Maybe he will listen to you.  He is very much in need of your love and friendship.

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

Sincerely,

Brent

In my letter above, I pointed out that “People are distressed by your endorsement of C.J. as ‘a man of very high integrity and exemplary Christian character.’”  Here is one example that appeared on SGMSurvivors.    

685
Kevin 
July 21st, 2013 at 10:20 pm 

A friend of mine forwarded this correspondence they had with Wayne Grudem regarding his speaking at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville today.  Although Mr. Grudem declined to get personally involved in the matter, by speaking there today, he DID become personally involved.

Dear Mr. Grudem,

I’m very troubled to learn that you are speaking in Louisville at the Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville.  Someone told me you said you wanted to stand by CJ as he faced “unjust accusations”.

I appeal to you to consider how painful that remark is to those of us in Covenant Life Church who have been abandoned by the leader we loved and trusted for nearly 40 years.

I don’t know if the accusations in the lawsuits are true.  I don’t know if all of the accusations of spiritually abusing authority are true, although I’ve certainly seen some things.  But, I do know that this dearly beloved pastor, who you know enjoyed profound affection from his congregation, left his sheep without a word of explanation or attempt at reconciliation, taking many of this church’s founding fathers with him.  For this congregation, it was like a father abandoning his children.

His mysterious actions caused his loyal followers to distrust Josh Harris for unknown reasons.  You see, by his silence and by his actions, he is accusing Joshua Harris.  Of what, we do not know.

But, I can tell you that his divisiveness has split every family and every home.  He divides parents and children and husbands and wives and brothers and sisters and some very longstanding friendships.

To protect his legacy and his reputation, he has torn apart everything he built.  He will no longer be remembered for all of the amazing things he did at Covenant Life.  His legacy at CLC will forever be how he left.

In losing credibility, people are now disillusioned, and everything he ever taught is now in question.  People who have never once doubted their faith now question everything they have ever been taught.  If his affection was not genuine, was anything he said genuine?  If his affection was genuine, he would not have done what he has done to this body of believers.  Is anything true?  Husbands have left wives.  Wives have left husbands.  Families are estranged.  Not just the families that left to Louisville.  Hundreds and hundreds of families are torn.  Ask any Covenant Lifer what the Gospel Song now represents to them?  Terrible pain.  A great divorce.

So, I don’t know whether the other accusations are true.  I only know what I know to be true.  And what is true is that this man has sinned grievously against his own body of believers.  And your support of him wounds us even more.  You represent the greater body of Christ, the people we need to help us through this, and yet you stand with him.

I appeal to you to step away.  I appeal to you to consider those he has wounded.  I appeal to you demand this man take responsibility for his actions and apologize to our body so that we might be healed.  I appeal to you to represent Christ in this matter.

Please don’t continue to aid and abet him in his sin.  That is such a painful, hurtful thing for you to do on top of what has already occurred.

I would leave my name, but people come after you for that.  Hopefully someday that will not be so.

In response to this heartfelt appeal, Grudem’s assistant wrote the following.

July 15 [2013]

Hello [redacted]

My name is John Paul Stepanian, and I am Dr. Grudem’s assistant as well as a student here at Phoenix Seminary.  One of my jobs is to see to Dr. Grudem’s correspondence on his behalf.

Thank you for your concern.

I have forwarded your message on to Dr. Grudem, so he received your message.  He has, however decided not to respond individually to emails on this topic or get personally involved in trying to sort out the situation.

Sincerely,
John Paul Stepanian

MA to Dr. Grudem
Phoenix Seminary

On behalf of:
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies Phoenix Seminary 

Like so many national leaders, Wayne Grudem “decided not…to get personally involved in trying to sort out the situation.”  That is reprehensible.  You cannot call Mahaney “a man of very high integrity and exemplary Christian character” without looking into the situation. 

This reminds me of Grudem’s endorsement of Trump’s for his “far better” character on July 28, 2016. 

“’But are you saying that character doesn’t matter?’ someone might ask.  I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character.”

In response, I wrote the following on my Facebook page a few days later. 

“Trump’s character is in no way “far better” than Clinton’s character.  If I vote for Trump it will NOT be based on his superior character, that’s for sure.  His deeply ingrained arrogance and self-exaltation scare me and we know pride goes before the fall.  I find the character of both nominees equally outrageously and frighteningly bad.”

Recently on October 9, Grudem was forced to change his assessment of Trump’s character.  He wrote: 

“There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election. I previously called Donald Trump a “good candidate with flaws” and a “flawed candidate” but I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character. I cannot commend Trump’s moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election. 

“His vulgar comments in 2005 about his sexual aggression and assaults against women were morally evil and revealed pride in conduct that violates God’s command, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). I have now read transcripts of some of his obscene interviews with Howard Stern, and they turned my stomach. His conduct was hateful in God’s eyes and I urge him to repent and call out to God for forgiveness, and to seek forgiveness from those he harmed. God intends that men honor and respect women, not abuse them as sexual objects.

“Some may criticize me for not discovering this material earlier, and I think they are right.  I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so.  If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump.”

This last paragraph about Trump is true about Mahaney and but more so.  Remember what Grudem’s assistant said on his behalf.

“Dr. Grudem is speaking at CJ’s church specifically so that he can signal support for CJ in the face of unjust accusations.  No further communication on this subject will be responded to.”

“I have forwarded your message on to Dr. Grudem, so he received your message.  He has, however decided not to respond individually to emails on this topic or get personally involved in trying to sort out the situation.”

Grudem supported and commended Mahaney without ever looking into the allegations against him.  Here is Kevin’s apt description of the devastation Trump wrought upon Covenant Life Church.  I’m sorry, I mean Mahaney.  

759
Kevin 
July 23rd, 2013 at 12:33 am 

In regards to my friend’s letter to Wayne Grudem, my impression is that many families are struggling relationally over this.  A lot of the old-timers who go back to the early days are disillusioned and in many marriages one spouse is struggling with their faith and/or they have stopped attending church.  Quite a few marriages are on the rocks and many people just don’t care anymore.  And that’s just in the families that don’t feel strongly about SGM, just sad.  If one spouse is devotedly loyal to CJ or the Louisville crowd while the other thinks negatively about them, it is total division with hostility.  Same with friendships.  Godly people who have loved one another for decades can barely look one another in the eye.  Not because they are angry or bitter or hate each other, but because the other’s views cause them such deep pain.  It is a taboo topic and everyone tries to refrain from showing their cards.

Everyone knows Mahaney angrily, abruptly, and deceptively left Covenant Life Church never to return contrary to everything he has taught on personal reconciliation, commitment in the local church and accountability to elders.  Mahaney made his plans to flee CLC behind the backs of the pastors.  He never talked to them or sought their counsel.  Everything about his departure was hypocritical.

Saying Mahaney isa man of very high integrity and exemplary Christian character” is like saying “Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character.”  I doubt it will ever happened but one day I hope Grudem says, “I did not take the time to investigate earlier allegations in detail, and I now wish I had done so.”  

I wrote Grudem a third time but it was all for naught.  He never responded.  He was not interested in the facts or discovering the truth like so many other national leaders who blindly support Mahaney.

From: Brent Detwiler [mailto:abrentdetwiler@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, July 26, 2013 8:23 PM
To: Wayne Grudem; wgrudem@phoenixseminary.edu
Subject: Call or Write

Wayne,

Please respond to my request to talk by phone or correspond with one another regarding the multiple charges brought against our friend, C.J.  He needs your help.

Sincerely,
Brent

I have written this post now for several reasons.  First, it shows I am not an uncritical fan of Wayne Grudem.  That is also true theologically.  I had students read large sections of his Systematic Theology in the Pastors College but I respectfully pointed out doctrinal differences on secondary matters. 

Second, I plan to defend Grudem and Bruce Ware against unscrupulous attacks by Todd Pruitt regarding their teaching on the Trinity.  By the way, I have also sent Ware evidence against Mahaney on many occasions.  It has not deterred him.  He is an ardent supporter of Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc. and the Pastors College.  That is shameful.   

Third, I think Grudem’s political perspective is helpful in trying to sort out the issues in the Presidential election.  See his latest writing from today, If You Don’t Like Either Candidate, Then Vote for Trump’s Policies.  You may not agree with Grudem’s conclusion but you should think through his arguments.

Please Help 

I recently wrote an update on our personal circumstances.  Would you please read it here and consider a gift or donation?  The work I do is not fun or easy but it is necessary.  In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be covering some stories of national importance.  I need your help to make the possible.  Please keep me in your prayers.  Thank you.   

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