Tim Challies Calls It a Personal Matter Between Mahaney and Detwiler…Detwiler Calls Him On the Carpet (Updated)

Update: An Insider’s View of the SGM Controversy

Earlier today Tim Challies wrote about what is going on in Sovereign Grace Ministries. I was at first glad to see this but then absolutely astounded. He believes this is a “personal” matter between C.J. Mahaney and Brent Detwiler, which the later has elevated to tabloid journalism and he should have just left it to the Lord to handle.


Detwiler has already responded briefly and states he will do so more thoroughly later but I wanted to weigh in with a few thoughts.

1. I cannot for the life of me understand how Challies could call this a personal matter after reading the documents. Indeed, I have trouble believing he did read them. The concerns which Detwiler and others (making it by definition not personal) have been going to Mahaney about for years involve many other people and the way Mahaney has lead them and the denomination. Add to this, much of Detwiler’s concerns are in regards to the SGM board – how can this be called merely personal? Sure it’s personal but not only merely personal.

2. Challies, with a wave of the hand, dismissed the blogs and refused to discuss the concerns. That’s rich. I can only assume he would not want to discuss the handling of sexual abuse cases and the hundreds if not thousands of lives represented on the blogs. By ignoring the blogs Challies is able to give the impression that this is only a personal disagreement between Mahaney and Detwiler.

3. For Challies (on his own blog by the way) to decry the public nature of it all is ridiculous. Detwiler sent his documents to other pastors in SGM, no one outside SGM. Someone else leaked them. Why would someone do this? Because Mahaney and SGM have worldwide influence and their books, songs and sermons swim into the ears of thousands upon thousands. Again, how could such problems be called merely personal.

I am incredulous. There is no way to read these documents and think this is merely a personal matter

9 thoughts on “Tim Challies Calls It a Personal Matter Between Mahaney and Detwiler…Detwiler Calls Him On the Carpet (Updated)

  1. sam August 17, 2011 / 9:13 pm

    I wonder if Challies, given his logic on his thoughts about CJ, thinks it was wrong for Martin Luther to nail his 95 these on the door and thus making his grievances against the church public? Was it a sin for Luther's 95 theses to be reproduced and distributed? I dont see an allowance in Challies rationale for what Luther did.

  2. JA August 17, 2011 / 11:56 pm

    I am on the periphery, but from my perspective, there seems to be an insider culture among evangelical groups. Those on the "inside" are defended at all costs, while those on the "outside" are attacked relentlessly for any dissension.

  3. Anita Kay August 18, 2011 / 1:37 am

    Can't decide what I think about this, Matt. But I read Detwiler's blog earlier today and couldn't help but think that his continual "analysis" of the situation in a play-by-play, often sarcastic, fashion leaves a lot to be desired. I don't know that the initial sending of the documents was the wrong way to go, but at this point it almost feels like a witch hunt. SGM knows. CLC knows. The whole world knows, in exhaustive detail. Not sure it's necessary to continue to make his case and be quite so public with all of it. Just not sure whom it helps.

  4. Matthew B. Redmond August 18, 2011 / 11:48 am

    Anita, I can see that. And I can see why you would question some of these things. But the sarcasm, etc. is understandable. Imagine being Detwiler. You lost your job in SGM – which you helped found – because of your concerns over the leader, you repeatedly sought not only justice but reconciliation. All of it was rebuffed. The men who demanded accountability were not willing to be accountable. The men who set up the system of discipline in the denomination refuse to be a part of it. No one would listen to Detwiler's entreaties so he sent out the documents to pastors. One of those pastors leaked the documents. Apart from this there we would not be seeing the admissions of wrongdoing form the the pastors at CLC and Fairfax. And then Challies -one of the most influential bloggers in the evangelical world – waves it away as a personal matter and all but accuses Detwiler of ulterior motives. I think Sarcasm is understandable.Who does it help? All the families who were treated so horribly by pastors even though they were the victims of sexual abuse. The thousands of people who suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of pastors and leaders. And just as we have very public rebukes of people in Paul's letters for Christians of all time to see, we the Church need to see these public rebukes.Last, the only reason a witch hunt would be bad is if the person is not a witch. 😉

  5. Matthew B. Redmond August 18, 2011 / 12:21 pm

    Another reason this is all problematic is how the powerful are protected at the expense of the weak. This seems to be what happened with Detwiler, Larry Tomczak and in the cover-up and treatment of the victims of sexual abuse. These problems are systematic.If all this gets swept under the rug as a personal matter by the larger neo-Calvinist culture, we can count on it happening again at the expense of those who can afford it the least.

  6. Anita Kay August 18, 2011 / 1:31 pm

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, Matt. Still mulling it over. I agree that sweeping it under the rug is unjust, unkind, and arrogant (my Baptist-sermon upbringing almost made me say "un-humble"). And your point about Paul's letters is well-taken. I can also understand the need to widen the circle with these documents and complaints until someone listened. I just wish he wouldn't keep saying how much he loves CLC, SGM, and CJ right before using a bitter tone about all of them. It feels insincere at best, and the sarcastic self-defense weakens what seem to be valid charges by calling into question Detwiler's motives and character. Makes it easy for the under-the-rug-sweepers to dismiss it all.

    • McPherson January 18, 2019 / 3:12 pm

      What it boils down to is that children were molested in the church and SGM leadership did nothing to aid in bringing about justice for these young victims. They were an obstacle in the whole judicial process.

  7. Matthew B. Redmond August 18, 2011 / 1:41 pm

    And with that I completely agree. I felt…feel the same way. I've been following the blogs for over a month now and that kind of talk seems to be part of the culture – using a spiritually acceptable prologue/epilogue to then go on and criticize/berate. No excuse for it though.

  8. informedbaptist December 6, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    I clicked on the link to Tim Challies’ blog and the post is evidently gone.

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