Why have South African Christians welcomed CJ Mahaney?

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.

9 thoughts on “Why have South African Christians welcomed CJ Mahaney?”

  1. Gordon, that’s the same article I posted above. Tam is Keith Coats’ daughter. A fine woman indeed – from a great family!

  2. “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.”

    Amen brother! I quit my church because they refuse to quit pushing Mahaney’s books from the pulpit. This in spite of the fact that I kept the leadership fully apprised of the situation – including Mahaney’s blackmail of his fellow co-founder of the ministry.

  3. “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 think it’s a false claim to call Mahainy’s errors “sexual sin.” I don’t know that there’s any evidence that he committed any sexual misconduct related to the lawsuit. His error (in this case) was that he decided that the (human) institution he led was more important than the physical, mental, emotional, and most importantly, spiritual well-being of those he should have been focused on protecting (pastoring). That’s very different from sexual sin in my mind. May God forgive him and heal those who have been wounded by his actions.

  4. I am very disappointed that you would not be more careful about what you post into the public domain.

    Have you any proof of wrong doing on this part of CJ Mahaney? Or could these possibly be slanderous and completely false accusations with purely malicious intent? (And therefore treated as such by those in the know?) Or does it just suit your agenda to have a dig at Antioch Bible Church?

    I completely supported the conference and have been blessed in hearing the Word faithfully preached by some truly gifted and theologically sound speakers. (There were 6 of them in total)

    The blessing if you care to notice, was that the preachers taught the same gospel and shared the pulpit as Presbyterians/Baptists/’reformed’ charismatics. All united not by denomination, but by a common love for the Gospel and a commitment to preaching the Truth unashamedly from the Word of God.

    “I distance myself from this brand of Christianity.”

    Reading across your Blog Graeme, it is clear to me that you distance yourself from Biblical Christianity on most occasions anyway….

  5. Les, I think my blog was clear and linked to the relevant documents related to the Mahaney case. “Sexual sin” is not just commission of sexual acts, but also the sins of ommission when we fail to intervene and save those we know are being abused. The court case against Mahaney is that he knew about abuse and chose to cover it up – actively, in fact.

    I would hope that those who read my blog would realise that if anything I aim to approach the Bible seriously and ensure that all my views have a Biblical base. Just because my views don’t match yours does not make the unBiblical. That too, is a theme of this blog.

  6. The court documents against Mahaney and his fellow church leaders has now been updated, bringing in new defendants and providing much more, very graphic detail of the complaints. It is truly horrific and shocking, with claims of gang rape, paedophaelia, long term sexual abuse and much, much more by church staff, leaders and key men within Mahaney’s church. While not directly implicated, Mahaney is accused of not doing anything with the knowledge he and his leaders had, and worse, of deliberately conspiring to cover up sexual abuse. The court document is available here, but it makes for horrific reading: http://spiritualsoundingboard.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/2nd-amended-lawsuit-filing-may-14-2013.pdf

    Where is the outrage from the Reformed churches of South Africa?

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