Right now a conference called Rezolution is taking place in Johannesburg. The keynote speaker is an American, CJ Mahaney. Just a few weeks ago, Mahaney stepped down from the leadership of his own denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries on the back of a court case in which he is a named defendant. The case alleges that Mahaney and other SGM leaders knowingly covered up sexual abuse that took place within their churches. (Update on 18 May 2013: the indictment has now been updated and made public: read the court document here. Warning, it will make you sick to your soul).
This comes on the heels of a leave of absence Mahaney took in 2011, in which he admitted to “various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy” (see Christianity Today’s reporting of the situation back then).
In October last year, three female plaintiffs filed a lawsuit that alleges “a conspiracy spanning more than two decades [in the 1980s and 90s] to conceal sexual abuse committed by church members”. Mahaney and board president John Loftness, along with six other leaders, are named as defendants for allegedly failing to report incidents of abuse to law enforcement, encouraging parents to not report them, and “mislead[ing] law enforcement into believing the parents had ‘forgiven’ those who preyed on their children.”
Reformed Christians are flocking to this conference and extolling the teaching of Mahaney.
I have no doubt that God can use anyone to speak His message, and that all of us are sinners. But I am very concerned that in a country rocked by sexual abuse such as South Africa, the church would invite this man to speak. It sends a horrific message to a watching world. We need to be more sensitive to the world we wish to minister God’s love to. CJ Mahaney should have been removed from Rezolution conference as a speaker. And his public ministry should not be supported by Christian leaders in this country.
A good friend of mine who happens to be a recently cum laude graduated Masters student in psychology who has a passion for social justice and dealing with the effects of child abuse, has written an article on this issue that I think deserves to be read. You can read and download the PDF here. I encourage you to do so.
I am very disappointed that Antioch Bible Church, founded by Tim Cantrall out of a messy split with Honeyridge Baptist Church a few years ago, has chosen to keep CJ Mahaney on the bill of Rezolution. I am disappointed in my many conservative friends who have supported this conference and specifically Mahaney while knowing the fact that he has stepped down from ministry in the USA. By all means support him privately, but do not endorse his public ministry. I am disappointed that the Reformed churches in South Africa do not take the issue of sexual sin amongst one of their leaders seriously. I am disappointed in the message that a watching world has received from this Rezolution conference.
I distance myself from this brand of Christianity.