Showing posts with label together for the gospel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label together for the gospel. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Former Sovereign Grace Youth Leader Convicted of Sexual Abuse, CJ Mahaney and Joshua Harris Resign From TGC [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack

 Nathaniel Morales Convicted 

[UPDATED: Former Sovereign Grace Ministries youth leader Nathaniel Morales has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, as of 8-14-14]

Christianity Today is reporting that C.J. Mahaney and Joshua Harris, both key figures in the history of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), have resigned from The Gospel Coalition (TGC), a parachurch organization of which both were members, following the May 2014 conviction of former Sovereign Grace youth leader Nathaniel Morales of multiple counts of child sexual abuse. That article can be read here.

Former SGM leader-turned-whistleblower Brent Detwiler has written extensively on the ongoing sexual abuse scandal at SGM. You can read his blog here.

While I recognize how difficult this subject matter is, I think it is important for us as Christians to think on this issue from a biblical perspective. We know from the Bible that the human heart is prone to idolatry, and idolatry can take many forms, including elevating some men and regarding them as being above reproach. According to some former SGM members (among them Brent Detwiler), this was the pattern of behavior at Sovereign Grace. Also, beware of the church that subtly models to the congregants, or gives the impression that certain leaders are above being questioned or held accountable. Having studied spiritual abuse very extensively in the past two years, I can affirm that this is something that occurs even in good churches, with good doctrine and good teaching. Let us always hold fast to God's word, and never be afraid to lovingly, and with Bible in hand, ask questions of our church leadership, and challenge the answers we receive, if need be. The SGM sexual abuse case should be a sobering reminder to us to do that.


Justice for the weak and disenfranchised is a big deal. It's a big deal to God, and it should be to us as Christians. I obviously don't mean in a social justice/social gospel kind of way, but rather, in the sense that we ought to look after the members of our church body as if they were members of our own blood families. One concept that was a big takeaway for me the year that I did a study of Isaiah was that God is angry with those who don't seek justice. He also despises those in authority, especially spiritual authority, who prey upon the weak and helpless in their care:
"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17)
"Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow's case does not come before them." (Isaiah 1:23) 
"Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent." (Isaiah 5:22-23) 
"Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless." (Isaiah 10:1-2) 
"This is what the LORD says: 'Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.'"(Isaiah 56:1) 
"No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil." (Isaiah 59:4) 
"So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice." (Isaiah 59:14-15)
Yes, justice matters to God. It's a big deal to God, and it should be a big deal to us. We should remember that the church has a responsibility to protect the disenfranchised and other words, those who cannot protect themselves, and are often at the mercy of the world (orphans, widows, children, etc.). Are we prepared to do that in the Sovereign Grace situation? Or is it too painful and distasteful to look at and think about? Maybe we should approach this as if these were our own children who had been abused. Would you want others to be brave enough to speak up and seek protection and justice for your children? Then I urge you to do so for the children who are not your own physical children, but who belong to the body of Christ, as if they were your own.

 Additional Resources 

Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition Says “Detwiler Is Making Up” Admission by Joshua Harris 

C. J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris Resign from Gospel Coalition after SGM Abuse Conviction (Christianity Today)

Mahaney, Harris leave Gospel Coalition council (World Magazine)

Resolution on Sexual Abuse of Children -  ("If this issue is not a valid subject about which Southern Baptists should publicly express a strong voice, I'm not sure what qualifies as an issue we should address.") (Peter Lumpkins)

Joshua Harris comments on SGM child sexual abuse lawsuit

SGM Survivors' Blog

Nathaniel Morales trial: Victim Jeremy Cook testifies

Brent Dentwiler, former Sovereign Grace leader turned whistleblower, interviewed

Former Sovereign Grace Ministries Founder Calls For Christian Leaders To Separate From CJ Mahaney Due To Class Action Sex Abuse Case

Former respected SGM leader Nathaniel Morales accused of abusing boys for decades in Montgomery Co. (ABC affiliate, WJLA)

Sovereign Grace Ministries and Abuse: Time to Speak Out (Patheos)

Lawsuit Claims Sovereign Grace Ministries Concealed Sex Abuse

Sovereign Grace Ministries: In Sex Abuse Case, Courts Shouldn't "Second Guess" SGM's Pastoral Counseling

Flagship Churches Prepare To Leave As Lawsuit Charges C.J. Mahaney's Sovereign Grace Ministries With Covering Up Child Sex Abuse

Copy of Lawsuit Filed Against Sovereign Grace Ministries

 Janet Mefferd Interviews About the SGM Class Action Lawsuit