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Brent Detwiler's Tweets
Friday
Oct052012

The Need for Watchmen

The call to watchfulness and spiritual alertness permeates the teaching of Jesus.  “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees.” …  As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law.” … Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.” (Mark 8:15; 12:28; 13:5)

Watchmen who fall asleep fail to warn the people of God about corrupt leaders. 

Luke 17:3 “So watch yourselves.  If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

Watchmen who fall asleep fail to warn the people of God about impending judgment. 

Ezek 33:6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.

Paul the apostle put it this way.    

Eph 5:11-14 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Believers are instructed to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness.  How much more leaders who are given to protect God’s people.  Those asleep in sin need a wakeup call.  Therein lies the problem for Sovereign Grace Ministries.  No one has been willing to sound the alarm or sound an alarm that is loud enough to wake anyone from their stupor.  The polity alarm wakes no one from their deeds of darkness. 

None of the watchmen in SGM have yet to warn against its corrupt leaders or point out the judgments of God apparent in his household (1 Pet 4:17).  No one is calling for repentance.  The yeast of deceit continues to leaven the dough of SGM.  The old lump has not been replaced with “the bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:6-8).  People and leaders in SGM continue to deceive and be deceived by artifice.     

No Time for Silence

The pastors of Covenant Life Church have experienced with increasing intensity and frequency every type of sin I’ve described in my writings since Joshua Harris stepped down from the SGM Board in July 2011 and yet they do not speak out.  Why?  This cannot continue.  They must give an account to the church of their interactions with the SGM Leadership Team and Interim Board.    

Unfortunately, I have little hope this will happen.  They have backed themselves into a corner since Joshua unwisely declared C.J. above reproach and qualified for ministry (see C.J. Still Not Qualified to Lead Sovereign Grace Ministries on the One Year Anniversary of Sending Out “The Documents”).  They can’t be honest now unless they are willing to change their assessment of C.J.  They know every one of my concerns will be validated once again if they disclose their interactions with C.J., Dave, John Loftness, Mickey Connolly and the Interim Board over the past year.  They can’t possibly tell the true story and maintain their position that C.J. is above reproach and fit for ministry. 

The CLC pastors have had a terrible experience with these men.  They’ve made this clear to people in personal conversations.  It is the lack of public transparency that is so disturbing.  They fully realize these men are reproachable and blameworthy in many serious ways.  If they told people what has happen to them since July 2011, they’d be forced to demand C.J.’s resignation and declare him unfit for ministry.  It would also confirm in no uncertain terms that C.J. has not changed.  That he remains entangled in the same sins we all identified in August 2004. 

This would be obvious if you could hear every conversation, observe every meeting, and read every piece of correspondence that took place between the CLC pastors and the SGM Leadership Team, Interim Board and current Board.  It is time for them to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness and stop catering to sin with silence.  Not out of malice but out of love.  It is not only C.J. that needs exposing but the entire Interim Board chosen by C.J., Dave and Jeff.  This is the kindest service they can provide everyone concerned.  The Covenant Life pastors are watchmen to the church but they are also watchman to Sovereign Grace Ministries.   

So the question remains.  Will anyone speak out?  Or will all the pastors in SGM remain silent and saltless?  Will they allow the evident corruption to go unaddressed?  Will they leave SGM under the guise of polity differences alone?  Will they express no ethical concerns for the leaders of SGM?  Here’s the good news.  Some will be honest and speak out.  Most will be silent.  It is no secret that pastors throughout Sovereign Grace Ministries do not trust C.J., Dave, John, Mickey, et al.  They will be leaving.  It doesn’t matter what polity is decided upon.  Most of these men will head out the back door.  Some will be open, honest, and transparent and leave through the front door.        

Worse, some pastors in SGM continue to defend C.J., Dave, et al, even though their deceit is ever so great and ever so obvious.  It takes no special discernment to see it.  Just an honest heart that is willing to examine the overwhelming amount of evidence.  It causes me to shudder when I think of the many pastors who have chosen to bury their heads in the sand and deny reality.  Even worse, those pastors who castigate and threaten to discipline individuals who are calling for godly sorrow and godly accountability.  These pastors are walking in lock step with C.J.’s instructions to identify and discipline “those who are divisive”  (C.J., Nov 9, 2011).  In this regard, they are false shepherds.  Isa 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

C.J., Dave, and the SGM Boards have been committed to covering up their fruitless deeds of darkness.  They have repeatedly lied, deceived and blocked all attempts for a just, open and thorough hearing of charges.  They have confessed no wrong doing of any import.  They have asked forgiveness for nothing.  Read that again.  Fifteen months later, they have still confessed no wrong doing of any import.  They have asked forgiveness for nothing. 

Many Pastors in Pennsylvania Misled, Deceived and Compromised

Many of the most compromised pastors in SGM come from Pennsylvania because they have been sorely misled by Dave Harvey (Board Member), Mark Prater (Interim Board Member), Ken Mellinger (Board Member/panelist/sr. pastor), and Jared Mellinger (sr. pastor).

Dave, Mark and Jared are in the Philadelphia church.  Ken is in the Harrisburg church.  On Wednesday, I sent all the pastors in PA, OH, and PA the newspaper article about the start of C.J.’s church in Louisville (see Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch).  Most of these pastors, not all of them, are content with the corruption that has characterized C.J., Dave, and the Interim Board.  Follow along as you read the email trail from this week.  

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 8:28 AM
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O’Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch

Newspaper article on start of church in Louisville.

##

Paul Michaels’ was the first to respond.  He is a pastor in the Harrisburg, PA church where SGM Board Member, Ken Mellinger is senior pastor.  The same faulty charge of slander continues to be used by him as excuse for not facing the facts and Scriptural imperatives.  According to Paul, God hates me for publicly exposing evil of the most serious kind after eight years of unsuccessful attempts to address it in private. 

He also espouses an errant view of forgiveness that is not taught in the Bible.  He uses this false doctrine to condemn me for being unforgiving.  That is common in SGM.    In so doing, he seeks to manipulate me by saying I am unwilling to forgive.  This is a not so subtle form of abuse.  He doesn’t understand that pressing home issues for the good of C.J., SGM and the body of Christ is not an expression of unforgiveness. 

Men like Paul confront people like me for being unforgiving when we hold transgressors accountable.  These are not trivial sins that should be overlooked.  In predictable fashion, people like me are labeled proud, bitter and resentful.  Paul’s entire approach shows no regard for truth or justice.  Pressuring people to forgive, when no one has asked forgiveness, is unbiblical.  It does not serve the sinner or the one sinned against.  It perpetuates injustice and heavy handedness.  These two factors have contributed to the demise of SGM.

From: Paul Michaels
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 10:51 AM
To: Brent Detwiler
Subject: RE: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch 

Brent,                                                                                                                         

I want to appeal to you as a fellow minister of the gospel and a brother who sincerely cares for your soul.  Proverbs 11:13 says, “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”  You have slandered CJ and the Sovereign Grace leaders beyond anything I have ever seen in ministry.  Do you not see how the Lord “hates” a man who “sows discord among brothers?”  It is far better to forgive, let God deal with the Sovereign Grace leaders as he is capable of doing, and move on, than to have done and to continue to do what you are doing. 

Has God not held back the horrifying hell that you deserve and placed it upon our great Savior?  Is not the command of Proverbs 11:13 a call to show the same kind of mercy toward one another?  Do you heed the word of our Lord who says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”? 

Brent, I believe your ongoing actions reveal a lack of forgiveness and I pray that you would stop publicly slandering other men in gospel ministry and by God’s grace move on.  Please remove my name from your email list. 

Sincerely,

Paul

##

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 12:07 PM
To: Paul Michaels
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: RE: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch

I would love to forgive if anyone ever asks my forgiveness.  As it stands, I’ve not been allow to share my charges or grievances with anyone.  None have been heard or tried.  The Three Panel Review was a deceitful and corrupt approach.  No justice was served.  Only injustice. 

Further, “tell it to the church” is not slander (Matt 18:17).  “Rebuke those in public who continue sin“ is not slander” (1 Tim 5:20).  What I have done has been done out of love for C.J. and faithfulness to Scripture.  The corruption in SGM is wide scale. 

You would have leveled the same charges against the prophets who were faithful to confront corruption.  I pray for your repentance and the repentance of SGM of which there has been none.    

##

Doug Hayes is also on staff at Covenant Fellowship Church in Philadelphia.

From: Doug Hayes
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 1:52 PM
To: Brent Detwiler; Paul Michaels
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O’Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: RE: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch

Hi Brent,

Just want to let you know that I forgive you for filling up my In Box with all these e-mails, even though you’ve never asked for my forgiveness.  Jesus has forgiven me of much more. 

In brotherly love,

Doug Hayes

##

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 3:51 PM
To: Doug Hayes; Paul Michaels; Dave Harvey; Jared Mellinger
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: RE: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch

Doug,

I didn’t know you were a Universalist (i.e., God granting forgiveness without repentance).  That is the theological implication of your statement.  To be honest, I am bit surprised by your ignorance.  Nowhere does the Bible teach us to forgive others for unconfessed sins.  The Bible commands us to forgive when repentance is forthcoming.  If we don’t we are sternly warned of dire consequences.  Therefore, we must always be ready and willing to forgive but the transaction of forgiveness cannot occur unless wrong doing is acknowledged.  The Bible is clear on the matter.  People who remain unrepentant remain bound in their sins.  That is the teaching of Matthew 18:15-18.  That is the meaning of binding (not forgiving) and loosing (forgiving) in context.  Jesus taught the same in John 20:23.

I’d encourage you to go back and study Scripture to correct your errant view.  For example,  Luke 17:3-4 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”  Or Luke 24:46-47 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Holding C.J. accountable is an expression of love.  Showing him favoritism is an expression of hate.  Making it clear he remains unforgiven is not an expression of bitterness or resentment.  It is an expression of friendship.  I can’t wait to forgive him and others but that is not possible until forgiveness is sought.  That is the clear teaching of Scripture and for good reason.  It is also the way to reconciliation.  That is why none has taken place.  C.J. retracted his confessions from July 2011.  He has confessed no wrong doing.  Furthermore, at no time has any member of any Board asked forgiveness for anything with the exception of Joshua Harris.  This underscores the issue of pride and hypocrisy. 

Doug, I hope you will appeal to C.J., Dave, Mark and Jared [Mellinger] to repent of these things and also their manifest deceit and be a true friend.  Don’t “forgive them” and brush it under the rug when there has been no repentance, confession, reconciliation, or restitution.  Confront them on the Three Panel Review which was a horrific expression of lording and manipulation.  I want to see SGM prosper but every day the opposition of the Lord increases because his discipline has been taken ever so lightly. 

Brent

##

Next I heard from Stephen Altrogge.  He is a 29 year old elder in the Indiana, PA church.  I was the initial senior pastor of this church.  I trained his father, Mark, and turned the church over to him when I relocated to Maryland in the 1980’s to be on the newly formed apostolic team.  I’ve known Stephen his whole life.  Mark is an old friend whom I love.    

From: Stephen Altrogge 
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 9:26 AM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: Re: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch

Brent please take me off this mailing list.  Thanks.

##

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 12:26 PM
To: Stephen Altrogge
Cc: Doug Hayes; Paul Michaels; Dave Harvey; Jared Mellinger; Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Rob Chisholm; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: RE: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch 

It is not my desire to provoke you or anger you but here’s why I cannot comply.  It is a moral issue for me with a biblical basis.     

The principle of Ezek 3:16-20 (and other verses in the Bible) applies to me.  I am not the watchman of SGM but I am a watchman.  Before the Lord I am endeavoring to be faithful to call C.J. and other SGM leaders and pastors to repentance.  I don’t imply by using this verse that C.J. or anyone else will die.  I do, however, have an obligation before God to warn you.  You can chose to ignore these warnings by deleting my emails but then you are accountable to God for that decision and I am not guilty before the Lord for complacency.      

Ezek 3:16-20 

[16] At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: [17] “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. [18] When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for  his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. [19] But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

[20] “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die.  Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin.  The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.  [21] But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

##

From: Stephen Altrogge
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 4:02 PM
To: Brent Detwiler
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: Re: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch

Brent,

This is really getting silly.  You’re not a watchman over my church.  You aren’t Ezekiel and we’re not Israel.  The elders in my church, myself included, are the watchmen.  God has given us, not you, the responsibility of watching over our particular flock. 

You also seem to think that you’re the only one capable of interpreting any of the events that are currently taking place.  Anyone who disagrees with you has an errant view of scripture. 

Please take me off this list.  If you don’t then you’re not treating me as a fellow brother in Christ.  You’re not treating me as you would wish to be treated.  You’re not respecting any of my wishes.  So please, take me off this list. 

Stephen

##

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 4:59 PM
To: Stephen Altrogge
To: Doug Hayes; Paul Michaels; Dave Harvey; Jared Mellinger
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: RE: Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch 

Stephen, 

There is nothing silly about any of this and I have a responsibility as a brother in the Lord to warn you in light of Scripture.  You are arrogant to flippantly dismiss my observations. 

What have you done to confront the widespread corruption that exists in SGM leadership?  Have you rebuked C.J.?  Dave [Harvey]?  Mark [Prater]?  If not, you are no pastor and no watchman.  Instead, you are a faithless pastor.  Are you leaving SGM?  Or are you staying and in so doing condoning lying, deceit, manipulation, lording, hypocrisy, favoritism, and oppression on a wide scale? 

Scripture is the ultimate watchman for us.  Have you obeyed it?  Have you implemented 1 Tim 3:1; Tit 1:6, 1 Tim 5:19-21; Matt 18:15-18; Luke 17:3-4, to mention a few.  No you have not!  C.J., Dave and Mark are reproachable and blameworthy on so many serious fronts and yet you do not stand up to them.  They continue in their exalted roles.  Where have you spoken up against such widespread sin and transgression?  God is shaking SGM.  God is disciplining SGM.  God is opposing SGM.  And yet SGM will not bow the knee.  It is about to split.  Yet, there has been no repentance.     

If you consider yourself a great watchman then act like one as biblically defined.  What do you see?  What have you done?  From what I can tell, you have been unwilling to deal with reality and unwilling to obey Scripture.  More a blind guide that a true watchman.  These are not gray matters.  The ethical demise is blatant and proven.  If you can’t discern the extremely serious issues with C.J., Dave, Mark, etc. you should not be in ministry. 

Stephen, what events am I misinterpreting?  The Three Panel Reviews?  Show me how.  Where has C.J. confessed?  Point it out.  Where has the Board confessed?  Direct me to their confession.  What does the Scripture teach on forgiveness?  Correct me if you think I am wrong.  But don’t take cowardly cheap shots.  That is of no profit and it does not serve you or anyone else.  In so doing, you are acting just like C.J., Dave and Mark have acted.  Hard questions are totally avoided.  No one is accountable for real answers.  Spin and manipulation follow.  

Pursue righteousness young man.  

Brent 

Stephen Altrogge and the Church in Indiana, PA

From: Brent Detwiler  
Sent: Friday, October 05, 2012 2:09 PM
To: Stephen Altrogge
Cc: Kenny Lynch; David Sharp; C.B. Eder; Ben Ross; Jared Mellinger; Raymond Cournoyer; Jim Donohue; Andy Farmer; Rob Flood; Marty Machowski; Mark Prater; Joel Shorey; Joseph Stigora; Brian Vander Weide; Peter Privitera; Bill Haughery; Steve Heitland; Doug Plank; Kurt Weaver; Ian McConnell; Danny Adams; Rob Chisholm; Walt Grummt; Tom Horton; Jeremy Bell; Ed O'Mara; Blake Stehr; Ken Mellinger; Paul Michaels; Mike Pierson; Mark Altrogge; Stephen Altrogge; Joe Ryer; Tom Kurtz; Bill Ihde; Darren Lander; Jonathan Putnam; Roman Bibyk; Bob Digney; Brian Reebel; Keith Schifano; John Butler; Steve Teter; Josh Blount; Brad Mitchell
Subject: Still Time to Wake Up 

Stephen,

I took some time this morning to read the letter you wrote to the church and my response to it from this past February.  At the time, you were deceived and in error about a great many things.  That letter was a grave disservice.  It mislead the church in so many significant ways.  Out of love for your father, I edited out identifying details when I posted it and my response on BrentDetwiler.com.  I did not want to shame you for the folly it contained.  It follows for your review.  My comments in response to what you wrote the church are in blue letters.

February 6, 2012

Mark, Joe, Stephen (and Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA)

I recently read your pastoral letter to the church and I was alarmed by its contents in many important respects.  I realize you have been misled by the erroneous information supplied you by Dave Harvey and Mark Prater.

I’ve copied my response to some old friends who are still members or others who have a heart and history with the church.  This is not an attack on you men.  It is an attack on falsity and duplicity.  I also plan to post this on my blog.  The way you are being deceived is true of many pastors in SGM.  You are not unique.

You (Mark), the church and the town hold a dear place in my heart.  College studies, Chi Alpha, Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship, Friday night prayer and praise at Greystone Presbyterian, Bethel Community, Indiana Christian Fellowship, and marriage to Jenny come to mind.

I care about you guys and the church.  That is why I’ve taken the time to write.  I appreciate your desire to serve the church during this time of shaking.  I hope this response helps you to do so with greater clarity and truth.

Brent

 

February 3, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We [Mark, Joe, Stephen] want you to know how we are trying to process everything that is happening with Sovereign Grace Ministries.  As pastors, we have spent hours discussing it.  We have submitted questions and concerns to the SGM board and had many conversations with Mark Prater, our regional board member.  Stephen and Mark have both talked with Dave Harvey.  All three of us have talked with numerous pastors in other SGM churches to see how they are processing things.

Simply put, Dave and Mark (and the entire Board) are not trustworthy.  Over the last 7 months, they have lied, broken promises, acted with deceit, distorted the truth, and covered up evidence.  These charges are documented on my blog at BrentDetwiler.com and in my manuscripts (i.e., RRF&D, AFA, CR, TUS, etc.).  The evidence is overwhelming.

One thing we want to remember is that for 30 years our church has benefitted immeasurably from our partnership with SGM.  SGM has helped shape our understanding of the gospel and the character of God.  They have provided us with guidance and support.  We have benefited personally from the teaching and counsel of many pastors in SGM.  We’ve enjoyed relationships with other churches in SGM, e.g. we’ve done youth camp with our sister churches from Altoona, Pittsburgh and Ohio.  We’ve been able to participate in church planting across this country and in other countries in a way we could not have by ourselves.

There have been many evidences of grace in SGM over the past 30 years but the integrity and humility of key SGM leaders has been in decline since the events of 2004.

We believe the men on the SGM board are godly men.  We believe the men who were on the panels are godly men.  I (Mark) have known a number of them for 20 - 30 years and know they love and fear the Lord and want to do what is right in God’s sight and for those he purchased with his blood.  I have never experienced anything but grace and care from CJ Mahaney, Dave Harvey, Mark Prater, Jeff Purswell and Aron Osborne, as well as CB Eder (who cares for our church but is not on the board).

The men on the SGM Board and panels have acted with partiality and favoritism.  They have not feared the Lord or done what is right in the sight of God.  The three panel approach was a hoax.  A phony substitute for justice.  The panels did not begin to address my allegations as promised.  Furthermore, each report was biased (terribly so in two cases) and failed to deal with the evidence despite claims to the contrary.  I will show this to be the case in the coming weeks.

We believe they have done their best to approach this whole situation in a godly way.  We don’t believe they are trying to ignore sin, cover up sin, or show favoritism.  Have they done everything perfectly? No. Have they made mistakes?  Yes - they’ve acknowledged they have.  They could have communicated much better.  Maybe they could have done the panels differently.

They have not done their best and their approach has not been godly.  Far from it.  For 12 months they promised an outside evaluation of all charges against C.J. and SGM. This solemn promise was broken on August 25, 2011. (see Promises Were Meant to be Broken, August 26, 2011)

I made the counterproposal below that included Ken Sande but the SGM Board would not even discuss it.  They totally ignored it.  They were not interested in a just, impartial and thorough hearing of the evidence.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2011 8:45 AM
To: SGM Board
Cc: CLC Pastors, Ken Sande; Ted Kober; Edgar Keinath; Bryce Thomas
Subject: Suggested Proposal for Just, Impartial and Thorough Evaluation of C.J. and SGM

I formally request the following proposal be adopted by the SGM Board.  If any parts of this proposal are unacceptable, please provide the reasons why and offer alternatives.

Then on October 24, 2011, they turned down my appeal to reinstate the adjudication hearing proposed by AoR whereby all charges against C.J. and SGM would be heard by one Board member and four pastors (see “Get Out of Jail Free Card for C.J. – No Adjudication Hearing,” October 29, 2011).  They came up with outrageous excuses for this disingenuous decision.

Finally, the Board revealed the three panel approach on November 28, 2011.  It was shot through with sin.  Truth and justice got murdered in a back alley (see Why the 3 Panel Approach is a Sham, October 29, 2011; Sovereign Grace Panels Are of Little Worth In Determining C.J.’s Fitness for Ministry, November 28, 2011; We Are Taking Brent Detwiler’s Allegations Seriously, November 28, 2011; Try This Twelve Step Program on for Size, January 26, 2012; Whitewashed Tombs, January 28, 2012)

What have they done?  CJ Mahaney confessed and acknowledged sins to Brent in 2 separate emails and appealed to Brent to meet with him about it.  Brent refused.  The SGM board appealed to Brent to meet and he refused.

This paragraph is completely misleading.  C.J. promised to address the questions, concerns, and illustrations I raised with him in Response Regarding Friendship and Doctrine and A Final Appeal.  He did not do so.  He broke his word for the first time.  Instead he confessed some of his sins but avoided the majority of my most serious charges.

Then I send him, Concluding Remarks. I pointed out how he failed to live up to his promise.  In response, he pledged to provide a “more detailed confession.”  He did not do so.  He broke his word for the second time.  His second confession contain nothing new.  It was primarily a rebuttal and defense.

Finally C.J. promised “a more thorough response” to my documents on June 24, 2011.  He broke his word for a third time.  I’m still waiting.

I eagerly desired to meet with C.J. from the beginning (see The Five Resolutions – July 13, 2011, January 13, 2012) but he refused to address the contents of my documents in violation of his word on three different occasions (see The Confessions of Saint C.J. (Part 1), February 4, 2012; The Confessions of Saint C.J. (Part 2), February 5, 2012) and acknowledged no need for any kind of public confession.  Those were my two conditions for meeting.  Honesty and humility.  I refused to meet because C.J. refused to fulfill his word.  I wrote the following to the SGM Board.

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 11:19 AM
To: Jeff Purswell; C.J. Mahaney; Dave Harvey; Joshua Harris
Copy: Ken Sande; Larry Tomczak
Subject: Framing the Issue & Me 

Stop the manipulation!  Stop trying to frame me!  Your machination to tell the world I have refused to talk to anyone, including Ken Sande, President of Peacemakers, is obvious.  I have said a million times, I will meet with you [C.J.] and the Board but not until you respond in writing to the issues, questions, and illustrations I have  raised.  You promised to do this very thing but then broke your word to me.  Time after time, you and the Board have refused to be open and honest.  I am not talking with anyone unless they first communicate with me in writing.  I have been on the receiving end of deceitful scheming far too many times... 

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24) 

It seems like CJ tried to do this.  Did he do it right away?  Did he do it perfectly?  Maybe not.  But I haven’t always gone to someone immediately when I knew they had something against me.  CJ also confessed sins in a public meeting at Covenant Life Church.  He also went to Larry Tomczak, his wife and child and confessed sin and asked forgiveness.  Have I always seen my own sin clearly and confessed it as thoroughly as I should have?  I’ve attempted to but I’m sure I could always do a much better job. 

I formally began raising issues of sin against me and others with C.J. starting in December 2000 (see RRF&D, pp. 5-6).  It took a decade before he left his altar and asked my forgiveness for anything.  Why?  Because he disagreed with me (and others) on every account.  All those years he insisted I sinned against him but he did not sin against me.  For ten years, I suffered under his sinful reactions and sinful judgments.  Finally, nine months after I wrote RRF&D in March 2010, and two months after I wrote AFA in October 2010, he left his altar and wrote a limited confession in December 2010. 

C.J. blackmailed the Tomczak’s and ruined Larry’s reputation before Covenant Life Church in 1997.  It took five years before he asked Justin’s forgiveness.  It took 13 years before he asked Larry and Doris’ forgiveness.  Why?  As in my case, he insisted Larry sinned against him and not vice versa.  In C.J.’s mind there was no need to asked forgiveness.  Let’s be clear, C.J. made no effort to leave his gift at the altar.  Reconciliation in both cases was only due to Larry’s persistence.  Otherwise, there is no indication C.J. would ever have asked forgiveness of anyone.  It took five years of pressing by Larry before C.J. admitted he sinned against their child.  It took 13 years of pressing by Larry before C.J. admitted he sinned against Larry and Doris. 

One principle we should try to keep in mind is: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12) 

I’m trying to keep this in mind as I try to sort through all this - How would I want to be treated if I were in CJ’s place? How would I want to be treated if I were on the board? 

If would be nice if you added, “How would I want to be treated if I were Brent?” or a host of former pastors.  C.J. has been treated with kindness and mercy like no one else in the history of Sovereign Grace Ministries.  In fact, this “kindness and mercy” has often crossed over into “partiality and favoritism.”  Many men wish to God they were treated for one day the way C.J. has been treated these last 7 years. 

Should CJ be temporarily restored as president of SGM?  We understand the recommendations of the panels and the thinking of the Board.  We can also see the concerns and questions of those who disagree.  We have questions, but do not want to make a hasty, premature decision.  We have a 30-year history here and many relationships across SGM.  For those who are concerned, SGM has no authority over our church.  They exist to help and encourage us but cannot come in and remove leaders or dictate policies. 

You can’t straddle the fence forever.  You may await the AoR report but it will not address the matter of C.J.’s qualifications.  It will be of no help in that regard.  Here’s what is obvious.  The SGM Board has rejected the teaching of God’s Word.  C.J. should not be the temporary President of SGM and he should not be making plans to start a church. 

Some have asked about our giving to SGM.  Although this is not related directly to the SGM issues, we are not currently financially giving to SGM for 2012.  The primary reason is because of adjusting to the expenses of the new building and an increased overall operating budget.  We made this decision with the counsel of the Financial Team. 

I resigned from the SGM Board in 2007 after 25 years of service.  Throughout my tenure each of us were committed to sharing our salaries and benefits with anyone who asked. In July 2011, I asked C.J. what his salary was.  He promised to answer but broke his word and the SGM Board changed their policy.  This kind of financial information is now kept from the public.  For this reason, and many others, no one should give to SGM. (see The Need for an Independent Board of Directors & Financial Accountability, August 8, 2011) 

As we mentioned last week, Sovereign Grace Church is our number 1 priority.  We want to do what will most honor the Lord and be right and best for you. 

That will involve pulling out of SGM and becoming part of something new that is characterized by humility, integrity and godly accountability. 

We desire to continue to partner with SGM. Our partnership doesn’t mean we would blindly follow anyone or not make our own decisions.  We want to see what the outcome of the Ambassadors of Reconciliation Group Reconciliation process is.  SGM has begun to work on changing its structures and putting new policies in place.  Mark Prater told me that the interim board wants to wrap up its work as soon as it can and get a new permanent board in place.  They haven’t figured out exactly how to do that, but that’s their goal. 

I don’t think the AoR report with deal with ethics violations by C.J., Dave, the SGM Board or others.  I doubt they will cite specific infractions, call anyone to account or ask for the investigation of particular individuals.  In all probability their recommendations with deal with polity or general guidelines to avoid scandal. 

We believe that by God’s grace and mercy, SGM will be a lot stronger in the future, with a new board and president, as it irons out its structures and policies that have been deficient. 

SGM can’t move forward with God’s blessing without dealing with the past.  Better structures and policies are helpful but not the answer.  A new President and Board must start over in dealing with C.J., Dave, Steve Shank, Mickey Connolly, Gene Emerson, et al.  Otherwise, they are continuing down the same road of compromise and corruption.  They will need to dig up the past not bury it.  If they are unwilling they should not be followed into the future. 

This may take a few months, so we want to be patient before making any major directional changes for our church, and we appeal to you to be patient as well.  Please continue to give us your thoughts, ask any questions you want to, express any disagreements, and help us see this from every angle.  Also, please continue to pray! 

The AoR report will not address issues of personal sin, character or ethics.  It may not even highlight patterns of sin.  It will be bland in comparison to people’s hopes and expectations. 

...The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:16-18) 

We know that God will respond mightily and powerfully to our prayers. 

Here’s a great promise from Scripture: 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8) 

We believe the Lord will counsel us with his eye upon us.  He will teach us in the way we should go.  He cares more about this issue than we do.  James tells us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)  God promises to give us wisdom when we ask him for it.  So let’s keep asking for wisdom. 

James continues, “[6] But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. [7] For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; [8] he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:6-8) 

We may ask for wisdom but that doesn’t guarantee we will receive it.  Or we may receive wisdom but then refuse to act upon it.  I believe Scripture speaks clearly to the present crisis in SGM and provides clear guidance.  The problem is not a lack of wisdom, it is a lack of courage.  Too many leaders are double minded when they should be single minded in knowing precisely what to do.  For example, do real hearings that are genuinely impartial and thorough and insist that the SGM Board step down. 

[END] 

Stephen, it appears you have continued to believe the propaganda put out by Sovereign Grace Ministries and refused to deal with the facts.  I sincerely hope the same is not true of your father and Joe.  I hope they help you.  The three of you should be leading the church out of SGM and speaking against the corruption that has characterized the past 15 months (see The Ethical Demise of SGM (Part 1) and The Ethical Demise of SGM (Part 2).  You have no excuse.  It takes no discernment to sort out the truth.  Stephen, you badly misled the church in the February letter and it appears you continue in your folly.  You have not been a wakeful watchman.  You have fallen asleep at your post.  

There is still time to wake up.  I hope you will listen to all the members in the church who are expressing grave concerns for SGM.  Don’t lord it over them in your pride.  Don’t dismiss them the way you have dismissed me.  Humble yourself before them.  They have far more discernment than you have displayed.  You may have the position but you don’t have the anointing of wisdom.  If not, you will likely split the church.  

My Recent Note to C.J. 

I decided to send the correspondence above onto C.J. with a personal appeal.  He provided no response.  

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 5:31 PM
To: C. J. Mahaney
Subject: Holding You Accountable 

Hi C.J., 

Here is an exchange from this morning.  

I really do look forward to a time when you will follow through on all of your promises and allow me the opportunity to share my charges and grievances in order to help you and SGM.  Until that happens, I’m afraid SGM will continue in steady decline.  

C.J., no one has ever been willing to hold you accountable.  You were able to “manage” all attempts by turning against men, repositioning men, or removing men.  You deflected every expression of discipline in your life until now.  It is obvious the Lord has sovereignly stepped in and addressed you directly but you continue to fight against the goad while destroying so much and so many by your stubborn refusal to deal with the real issues in your life.    

Please, please, please humble yourself.  Give up the ambition.  Renounce the love of reputation.  Stop the deceit.  Over the past 15 months you have exalted yourself in so many ways.  The fall that follows pride is happening all around you and yet you deny it.  You blame everyone else.  

C.J., you only have John, Gary, Bob, Jeff, and Tommy left.  All enablers.  There is practically no one from the past 30 years that you worked with that remains a friend.  Looking at old photos is a reminder of how you mistreated one leader after another.  Most left the movement.  You have divided your own family with your pride.  The Dillon’s, the Layman’s, your parent’s in law, etc. 

Please step down as President.  Please step down as senior pastor.  Make a thorough confession to the pastors.  Return to CLC and ask forgiveness.  Make a public statement.  Then God can restore you to an appropriate sphere of ministry in a godly fashion. 

With great affection,

Brent     

The Ruling on Polity Due Next Week

Next week the Polity Committee presents their polity recommendation to the Board of Directors for approval.  That is a perfunctory step in the process.  Whatever form of church government they recommend will be approved by the Board.  Get out the rubber stamp.  Their 3 day retreat ends on Thursday.  We should know by the end of the week whether they have chosen to impose an apostolic, presbyterian or independent ecclesiastical relationship upon the churches.  Churches like Covenant Life and Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax have already said they are leaving if an apostolic or presbyterian form of extra local government is put into play.  So will many other churches.  See Sovereign Grace Ministries Soon to Decide on an Apostolic, Presbyterian or Independent Form of Church Government.

I believe the apostolic model will be affirmed.  SGM will nuance (i.e., water down) their meaning of apostolic government but still give credence to its ongoing legitimacy in an effort to keep SGM intact.  There is no biblical support whatsoever for a presbyterian form of extra local governing over the churches.  If the Board says the churches are independent and autonomous, SGM becomes a parachurch organization. 

But the Board of Directors will be careful.  They will probably affirm “apostolic ministry” or “extra-local oversight” without saying they actually believe in present day apostles.  Such a clear pronouncement is too honest for them.  Too audacious.  Too offensive to the evangelical and Reformed world whose respect and acceptance they crave.  Therefore, I doubt they will affirm the present day “office” of apostle.  If they do, John MacArthur and others will not be pleased.  The Board will say nothing about prophets. 

Once the Board publishes their decision, let’s see if the Polity Committee has been honest in their exegesis and the Board honest in their explanation.  Please, no more eisegesis.  No more twisting of Scripture.  No nuance.  No subtlety.  Just a straight forward answer to the question, “Do you believe in apostles for Sovereign Grace Ministries?”  Or more specifically, “Do you believe C.J. is an apostle?” 

If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then they must boldly defend their affirmation from Scripture for the evangelical world to see.  Anything less is dishonest.  They must theologically distance themselves from the whole of Baptist independent polity (e.g., John MacArthur Jr., Mark Dever, John Piper) and the whole of Reformed presbyterian polity (e.g., R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan).   

I hope they don’t attempt to speak out of both sides of their mouth about apostolic ministry in order to govern SGM on the one hand, but not get in trouble with cessationists on the other hand.  This is what I don’t want to hear from the Board of Directors.    

“Well, we kind of believe in apostles but not really but sort of you know.  Is that clear?  We believe in apostolic like ministry (think of Coke Zero) but we don’t really believe in apostles (think Coke).  So here’s the beauty of our apostolic polity.  We can have our cake and eat it too.  Let us put it plainly.  We believe in present day apostles but we don’t believe in present day apostles.  That makes perfect sense doesn’t it? 

“Of course, this means we can oversee SGM churches like the NT apostles even though the passages we cite in support don’t apply to us because we are not apostles.  Well, not real apostles.  I guess you could say we are semi-technical apostles which means we are and aren’t apostles at the same time.  We’re like cheap apostolic imitations.  Like fake china.  We look pretty even though we are not the real deal.  So we act like apostles even though we aren’t apostles.  Isn’t it great to have cleared up all the confusion after five months of study, presentations and deliberation. 

“In conclusion, we believe in the apostolic model of church governance and gladly use Scripture in support even though we are not authentic apostles.”     

Of course, I could be wrong.  Phil Sasser (Chairman of the Polity Committee) may have persuaded three of his committee members to be bold in their affirmation of apostles with help of his son, Nathan Sasser, and son-in-law, Daniel Baker who are not on the committee.  Phil, Nathan, and Daniel have been strong advocates for apostolic government.  

There are seven men including C.J. on the Polity Committee.  Phil only needs three votes for a majority.  Stay tuned.   

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