The Silence of the Reformed

Just silence.

There has been no leader in the Reformed community who has spoke up for the victims of sexual abuse in SGM. Not one. No Reformed leader has nailed their horror or concern to the door. The heirs of Luther who railed against the abuse of indulgences are silent on the abuse of women and children. Those who would die on the hill of complimentarianism have ceded the moral ground to the ladies of The Wartburg Watch and Julie Ann Smith. Those who decry the power of the Roman church wield its echo.

Is there no man with a ready hammer and nail willing to heave his weight and influence into the silence? All of the gospel-hyphenated books may become millstones before all is said and done.

What if it was you?

Or worse. Your child.

They will not list away from Orthodoxy because of Rob Bell so much as a lack of love.

And silence. So much silence.

57 thoughts on “The Silence of the Reformed

  1. kinnon March 7, 2013 / 8:29 am

    The silence is deafening. Those who’ve pontificated on every jot and tittle of Christendom (used intentionally) are strangely silent on this.

    Or they are attempting to distance themselves from Mr. Mahaney whilst suggesting the rest of us should simply shut up.

    It is disgusting hypocrisy, in my never humble opinion.

  2. Oswald March 7, 2013 / 1:57 pm

    Amen and amen, Mr Redmond. This has been often noted at the SGM Survivors blog site.

    • Warren Myers (@warrenmyers) March 14, 2013 / 11:36 am

      Better yet – why make a stink until there is more than mere *allegation*? This is the first I had heard of the issue (though I do read Tim’s blog with some regularity).

      The best Christian response should always be to put the best construction on anything, and await public commentary until there is a weight of evidence that demands such.

      • mattbredmond March 14, 2013 / 11:47 am

        There are more than 3 witnesses and we precedent of critical commentary on the same issue – the coverup of sexual abuse – by those who remain silent. Feel free to Google “love notices wet hair” as an example.

        No one is asking for a declaration of guilt. All that is asked for is recognition.

      • patrice May 17, 2013 / 5:41 am

        “The best construction’ for whom, Warren? Your slip is showing.

      • Marlene Stewart May 19, 2013 / 4:47 pm

        thanks for that, patrice

  3. rockstarkp March 7, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    Never mind my previous comment.
    I re-read yours again.
    I’m not up to speed on this issue, clearly.

  4. Joe Fisher March 7, 2013 / 4:09 pm

    I am a reformed baptist church planter who is over 1/2 done with my MDiv. at SBTS. I also have a godly friend who is extremely close to Al Mohler. I have a true desire to learn about the issues with SGM and CJ and what is going on there. I have tried to read through some information from the two links you posted but the real issues seem to get lost in a bunch of name calling, ad hominem attacks, motive guessing and judging, and a general hatred for SGM. The way some of these posts are written it is as if CJ himself sexually abused people. I also understand the guilt of those in leadership who have done nothing in these situations, I live in Catholic country (New England). I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the situation here. Is there a place I can read a synopsis on the issues (both sides).


    • Oswald March 7, 2013 / 5:02 pm

      At the blog SGMSurvivors, there are stories of many who have been hurt by SGM. The stories have a tab on the home page. Many mishandled sex abuse incidents are told by the folks involved.
      Also, you could read the documents from B. Detwiler @

    • mattbredmond March 7, 2013 / 5:31 pm

      The great problem here is the only ones really talking about it are either victims or there advocates. My advice is simply read all you can from every source. SGM survivors has a wealth of information.

      • Joe Fisher March 7, 2013 / 6:18 pm

        I guess that is what I think Challies was getting at. How much of time should I put into something like this? I don’t mean that to sound callus. God has called me to a certain ministry at a certain church. We are not affiliated with SGM and we do not have any survivors either. I could spend days upon days trying to read through all this stuff. I could also get pulled into the trap of here-say and gossip. Where my inner appetites desire to know more and more about the ugly details of another’s ministry. In all honesty that is what most of the comments on those other websites seem to be driven by.

        The other part I am trying to discern has to do with larger ministries in general. They seem to draw a lot of websites dedicated to one thing, their demise. The websites are vocal and public and any silence on the part of the ministry is seen as evasive or secretive. I don’t want to sound like I am painting this movement as unfounded but I have seen both innocence and guilt on the side of ministries/personalities. This isn’t recorded false doctrine we are talking about (in the case of Bell) but behind the scenes not necessarily so clear hurt, suffering, and other big issues.

        I have seen to church splits and the wisest advice I ever received was to those who weren’t directly involved. The problem that we have is that we do not have any context. I find that true here. For those outsides this matter we do not have any context for any of this.

        We are not the monolithic Catholic church who has authority over all the parishes in the world and therefore the priests. We are a fragmented protestant church. How do I have authority over any of this? I don’t. Where do we fit in to this?

      • mattbredmond March 7, 2013 / 6:27 pm

        You asked what you might read to get a handle on this. If you are convinced it does not matter in your world, feel free to do nothing with a clear conscience.

        My concerns are chiefly with the notables.

      • Joe Fisher March 7, 2013 / 6:47 pm

        I think there is much to learn in general from something like this for all ministries that want to be faithful in life and doctrine. I am not sure the specifics are necessary for those not directly involved.

        I do think the notables are directly involved and should be more open about what is going on. Those like Dever and Mohler that are close to CJ know much more than we do about the situation. I don’t want to assume silence equals culpability, guilty or secrecy. One thing is for sure God will be the final judge over all things even this. I pray that justice is done for all parties here and now as well.

      • Steve Dawson March 7, 2013 / 6:48 pm

        Joe, I understand how you feel. When Wartburg Watch started covering this I was struggling with whether or not I should even read about this, let alone spend any time at all. God has spoken to me since then. No, we are not a monolithic institution. However, the Church is the Body of Christ.That transcends denominations. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. The problems at SGM affect the whole body of Christ. We all hurt with the victims and to an extent, need to take responsibility for what happened. Was no one there to stand up against those that abused?

        We, as the Church do have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable amongst us. Even if those vulnerable people are not part of the same local church that we may be involved in. What has happened hurts the witness of all of the Church. We need to be willing to shun those who use power for evil.

      • Pam March 7, 2013 / 8:03 pm

        Joe, Id’ say it’s pretty clear that the SGM leadership IS evasive and secretive. Their lack of comment shouts that loud and clear.
        If you don’t want to read through all the different sites, accounts, and documents, the one thing I suggest you look at are the court documents. Read the allegations being made. We aren’t called to judge them – that’s for the courts – but we should see that they are extremely serious and need to be treated as such. Trying to hide behind the first amendment isn’t take abuse allegations seriously.

    • Julie Anne March 7, 2013 / 10:36 pm

      Joe – I’m sorry that you feel that way. I’m Julie Anne from Spiritual Sounding Board blog. Before you write me or Wartburg Watch off, I hope you hang around a little while on either of our blogs. Dee and Deb come from a different perspective than me. They have seen church abuse and got involved wanting to be a voice for those who have no voice. The abuse I dealt with was personal to me and my family. We are still reeling some 5+ years later and last year dealt with a $500K defamation lawsuit which we eventually won. I reached out to Dee during the lawsuit and that’s how we became acquainted, she covered our story. Because both of our sites deal with abuse in church, we are recipients of scores of e-mails and phone calls by people whose lives are shattered because of spiritual abuse or spiritual tyrants. The grief and heartache of people consume our minds. You will see a snarky attitude on my blog. I’m angry about abuse. I suspect Christ would be pretty angry, too, since He talked about that lost sheep.

      You said: “The way some of these posts are written it is as if CJ himself sexually abused people.”

      I absolutely do not believe CJ sexually abused people. I also do not believe that my former pastor sexually abused people, but do you understand the emotional and spiritual ramifications of a pastor who fails his responsibility as a shepherd, one who fails to report sexual abuse, fails to appropriately care for his sheep? I have been on the other end of the phone listening to a mother whose daughter was sexually abused by a pedophile in the church. The church failed to care for her family when the sexual abuse was disclosed. The church leaders failed to report the crime. They dealt with it like it was only sin and wanted the family to hurry up and reconcile with the perpetrator. The church leaders held a “heads of household meeting” and told the fathers that no one was to discuss this incident – that if they did, it would be “gossip.” Consequently, this family, who was in the midst of the most unimaginable crisis was virtually abandoned by their church family.

      Because of this “no-talk” rule, whenever the mom was in town, if she saw fellow church members, they would walk away from her. The whole family, with only one child who was victimized sexually, were also victims of spiritual abuse. No one came in to care for their souls, to help them physically as they dealt with this crisis. No one came to offer meals or take their kids to their music lessons or sports activities. They were abandoned. Is this the way shepherds take care of sheep? No. Here’s the tragic aftermath. This family eventually moved away from this community because they couldn’t handle the emotional abandonment by their church family. Now they are angry at church, angry at God and do not go to church whatsoever. It’s been a couple years now. THIS is the direct result of mishandled sex abuse. We’re not just talking about a little girl being sexually abused – we’re talking about a WHOLE FAMILY being abused – spiritually abandoned. These abuse situations not only have life-long consequences, but I believe they can have eternal consequences. This is not an SGM story, but I am in personal contact with victims in the SGM lawsuit. This is a comparable story – one that SGM victims can relate to.

      Matt, sorry to hijack. Carry on, friend. Keep speaking up. There is no excuse for this. The Gospel Coalition and Southern Baptist folks know about all of this. They choose to remain silent.

      The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

      • mattbredmond March 8, 2013 / 5:59 am

        No apology necessary. Good words.

      • Joe Fisher March 8, 2013 / 7:24 am

        Thanks Julie, no need to apologize. As an outsider I am trying to sift through the information carefully. I should have been more specific in when I said “posts”, I meant comments.

        @ Pam I also wasn’t talking about the silence/secrecy/evasiveness of the SGM leaders before I was talking about the men/pastors who are friends with CJ in the T4G world.

    • Julie Anne March 8, 2013 / 8:12 am

      Joe – I’m glad you responded. Ah, yes, comments – well, what can one do? LOL. The reality is that when you are dealing with a subject that is so difficult, anger rears its ugly head and you can see all sorts of emotional responses in the comments.

      If you need any information on stories I have blogged about, please do not hesitate to ask.

      • patrice May 17, 2013 / 6:18 am

        This is more for Joe–found first reply function.

        One might conclude, based on the many comments and emotionality in post threads, that a lot of people have been hurt by this story, either because they were personally involved (maybe tangentially), or horrifyingly, were in similar although unrelated situations.

        For those who have not yet met situations of severe abuse in the church, flaming comment threads might seem like a distasteful confusion of gossip and immaturity. But it is more likely because of a long-neglected and genuine fundamental problem in the church.

        This would be the proper place to interject Warren’s advice (14th, 11:36) that Christians “put the best construction on anything”. When I taught at college, I had respect for the opinions and complaints of the rank and file because it was for them that I taught. I didn’t spend time on the rank and file of other universities, but when overarching problems raised their ugly heads, I recognized that I needed to do my part to address them.

  5. chaplain mike March 7, 2013 / 4:22 pm

    Thanks, Matt, for continuing to help call attention to this.

  6. Provender March 7, 2013 / 8:04 pm

    When you look at the most hateful atheist bloggers, and some of the vilest commenters on Christian sites, and you dig a little deeper to find out why they hate people of faith as they do, too often you find former churchgoers, wounded by churches and church leaders. By feeling we are not called to spend time listening to cries of abuse victims, we are churning out enemies and those who wish us only harm.

  7. Eagle March 7, 2013 / 8:47 pm

    Years ago I was into John Piper, it was a part of the culture I was in. My accountability partner was into Mark Driscoll. For several years I read Piper’s material and looked fondly upon it. Others I knew were into John MacArthur or Matt Chandler. My Mom survived pancreatic cancers…don’t ask me how I don’t know. Afterward I gave my Mom John Piper’s teaching, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer”. When I consider the mortality rates between John Piper’s prostrate cancer and my Mom’s pancreatic cancer I feel sick to my stomach.

    A few years back I walked away from faith. It was due to a number of reasons. One was being overcome with doubt, and being sick of Christian hypocrisy. One of the doubts that suffocated me was the problem of evil. I phrased it like this, “Why does a loving omniscient God allow a 6 year old to be molested and murdered? Why is a God who allows something like that to happen considered good?”

    I’m still figuring out the omniscient part of the problem. However, I think the SGM molestation issue falls well within the problem of evil. Not long ago someone pointed out to me the courage it took in 3 women in filing a lawsuit against SGM. When you consider the scrutiny they are under, SGM resources they are against…really it makes them courageous. As I’ve wrestled with God and faith, I found part of my answer in those women. What do you do with the problem of evil? You confront it, you contest it. I very much respect those who are standing up to evil. They have taught me in part how to deal with the problem of evil. Those who turn a blind eye in the Reformed community (which is all of them) are giving the Richard Dawkins of the world a tool. When I walked away it was this type of hypocrisy which is being practiced by the Reformed community that led me to conclude that Christianity is a cancer.

    I’m grateful for those who stood up to SGM. I’ll be glad to stand next to them.

    • Seth March 9, 2013 / 10:29 am

      Eagle, are Piper and Dever part of the problem do you think? I know they’ve refused to rebuke CJ, but is that it? Are there churches in their groups that have abuse issues too?

  8. Phil Naessens March 8, 2013 / 6:33 am

    Ah Matt,

    Back in Luther’s day man spoke with conviction. They weren’t hindered by the trap of popularity nor were they worried that book sales and convention/conference speaking opportunities would dry up if they dared to speak out or take a stand against those who abuse and oppress in the name of Gawd……our tribe is in trouble my friend and it isn’t from those who are without but from those who are within.

  9. One of the hurting March 8, 2013 / 6:50 am

    I left my sgm church almost two years ago after over ten years membership. ( cck Knoxville, tn) I am still reeling and trying to make sense of it and I am very much a part of it.( I get that it is confusing) I was never sexually abused, but feel deeply for those that were. The sexual abuse is only a small part of the danger. I sincerely wanted to follow Jesus and do what the bible said. The subtle scripture twisting and culture of leadership worship creates a toxic environment. It is extremely difficult for women and the teaching to submit basically takes your identity as well as your ability to hear from The Lord yourself. This is spiritual abuse. Instead of my pastors teaching me to follow The Lord In freedom, I was taught to follow my husband as he follows The Lord. Who, by the way, was following the pastor as he followed The Lord. ( or wait, is it cj?) So many rules to follow… I fell for it. Now, I am angry, sad, confused, bitter and yet, healing. Slowly I am learning what the voice of god is and who I am. It is bad bc it is shepherding/discipleship and it still lives on. Matt, it is helpful to hear someone speak up about this, thank you. The stories of sexual abuse point the way to understanding the spiritual abuse that is occurring in every single sgm church to every single person. The very folks defending the system who are angered by any dissension are themselves in grave danger. Why would parents listen to pastors ? Why would people not check on them when they leave? Why do current sgm ers refuse to even consider the allegations?

  10. poster at survivors and former SGM/PDI March 8, 2013 / 9:34 am

    Have we learned nothing from scripture about “celebrities: being human and fallen?

    Peter preached magnificently on Pentecost. God used him mightily in the early chapters of Acts. Fifteen years later he is at Antioch, giving in to fear of man and the hypocrisy of Judaizers, dragging Barnabas along with him.

    10 years later he is restore and writing his canonical epistle. What a glorious vessel of truth, and what a fallen vessel, in the same person.

    I see SGM as Piper’s Antioch. For that matter, SGM is most if not all of the Gospel Coalition’s Antioch. They have fallen for a time from seeing truth.

    Did we expect them to somehow be less sinful than the Apostle Peter?

    Yes, we did. I sure did. We are sad, grieved, shocked, disillusioned, or angry. Piper was one of my heros. (I probably would have felt the same way back in Jerusalem about Peter after Pentecost.)

    They all need prayer, and a good sound apostolic rebuke like Peter got from Paul. Oh, do we still believe in apostles today? Well then, they need a rebuke from scripture. Plenty of passages in there that apply. Let us ask the Lord that such passages speak to their hearts.

  11. Traveler March 8, 2013 / 1:31 pm

    Meanwhile, Dr. Mohler tweets about MacArthur’s latest book dedication…to him. Nobody speaks for these little people. They have nothing to offer but their wounds.

  12. rockstarkp March 8, 2013 / 2:53 pm

    Maybe I missed it somewhere in my reading of what I could, but have there been any criminal charges filed against the abusers?

      • rockstarkp March 8, 2013 / 3:13 pm

        Maybe I’m a bit at a loss for exactly what kind of statement someone in the Reformed blogosphere should make?

        What does a statement on behalf of the victims look like?
        Is there a good example of that somewhere?

      • mattbredmond March 8, 2013 / 3:49 pm

        Google… Love notices wet hair

  13. jess March 8, 2013 / 6:43 pm

    wow. what an amazing relief and change of pace it is to see you stand up for the survivors.
    thank you, matt.

  14. poster at survivors and former SGM/PDI March 9, 2013 / 1:19 pm

    a possible correction- according to a poster at SGMsurvivors who has been following this and appears to be knowledgeable, this is a civil case and not a criminal case, unless the state decides to bring criminal charges. There would be a financial payout, but not jail sentences, should the victims win the lawsuit.

  15. eternally alive March 15, 2013 / 6:11 pm

    This was real and not a joke.

    You can only understand the silence by seeing the depths of deception in people when men are put on pedestals.

    These people were “under” CJ, and Reformed Big Dogs are not. But it is all the same bewitching spirit at work.

    • Joe McReynolds March 16, 2013 / 4:38 am

      Sounds like a bunch of people trying to be creative in the appreciation of their pastor…if this is what you use to indicate abuse, I feel you are badly mistaken.

      • SayWhat? October 31, 2013 / 9:39 pm

        They’re at church, not on Broadway. Whatever happened to lifting up the name of Jesus? (Not C. J. – Cult of Personality) Eternally Alive is pointing out a ‘red flag,’ and you’re either blind/no discernment or you see, but don’t care. This display of appreciation is over the top and inappropriate in a ‘church’ setting. Very embarrassing & very telling.

  16. Paul Burkhart March 18, 2013 / 12:12 pm

    Reblogged this on the long way home | Prodigal Paul and commented:
    Powerful and moving words, especially for those that idolize the Neo-Reformed. Take note. Speak up. Defer to the powerless. Critique the powerful.

  17. Ingrid May 17, 2013 / 9:54 am

    Silence is complicity. It’s really that simple. My husband and I have experienced this kind of silence from “Christians.” This, not the secularists, is the biggest cause of shattered faith. I wrote this piece directly about the silence of Christians in the face of injustice.

  18. Confused May 21, 2013 / 4:39 pm

    I read the Sovereign Grace allegations through the link posted by G.R.A.C.E. and was horrified. For the past couple of years, I have struggled with my faith, wondering if God cares about abuse victims. I grew up in fundamentalist christian communities where abuse was covered up routinely. It was also covered up in the christian university I attended (currently being investigated by G.R.A.C.E.). As I have faced the past during the past couple of years, I have numerous questions about God. Who is he? Does he care about victims? Did all these churches, schools, then my university cover abuse because of christianity? I was taught that it was to protect God and his ministry. I have slowly, with counsel, been finding a measure of healing. I have been learning to separate God from the horrific things that were done in his name. Now, I read the Sovereign Grace report, and my response is shock. I have no idea how to respond to this. What does this mean about Christianity? What does this mean about God? Have I been a fool all along? Is this what real Christianity is? I don’t hear people speaking out. Does anyone care? There have been multiple mission boards who have covered up sexual abuse for decades. Where is the outcry? There are churches and school who have covered sexual abuse. Where is the outcry? What about the universities? BJU has an open investigation with many, many allegations. Why does no one care? Now, Sovereign Grace. Everyone stays silent.
    My response – I have no idea what to think any more. I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know if God cares. If he does, I don’t understand why his people don’t. Before, I could tie abuse to the fundamentalist world and try to separate it from God. Now, it just seems like part of Christianity. I’m so very confused.

  19. Mold removal austin September 6, 2013 / 3:26 am

    My brother recommended I might like this web site.

    He used to be entirely right. This put up actually made my day.
    You cann’t believe just how much time I had spent for this information!

  20. Ken October 31, 2014 / 11:10 am

    Thank you for re-posting this. You are right to voice frustration that no prominent “leader” from the Reformed camp has clearly, forcefully, used his influence and prominence to publicly call out the horrific cover-up of sexual abuse of children at SGM. (Does a person have a right to the title “leader” when he/she fails to protect people he/she leads?) I wish every church in our country (and the the world–why not?) would ask their pastors and leadership teams, “What exactly is your written, binding policy of response when sexual abuse is brought to your attention, either as an accusation or a concern? And, what child safety policies have you bound yourself, legally, to follow at all times in our church?” Such questions might stimulate a safer, more spiritually healthy church than our endless wrangling over issues of Tulips, Solas, Compys vs Egals, etc., and would separate the lackeys from the leaders. Don’t stop, don’t quit!

  21. Ken Stoll November 6, 2014 / 3:56 pm

    Matt, thanks for the re-post, this is a story that shouldn’t be swept under the rug. I’m curious if you have any updates and/or new developments seeing you’ve followed the story and hurt of those involved?

  22. Sam Powell March 11, 2018 / 10:31 am

    There were some, but none of them are famous, lead big churches or have thousands of followers…

  23. Rebecca Davis March 11, 2018 / 7:00 pm

    So now five years later we can add another Reformed woman’s name: Rachael Denhollander, whose voice is reverberating in the halls of the many (not all) Reformed men who stand in silence. And yet especially from the exalted leaders of the conservative evangelical movement, the leaders of Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition, still, five years later . . . silence.

Leave a Reply to kinnon Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s