Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, July 11, 2011

Proud Humility

I'll keep this brief; and I state this at great risk, knowing in advance that I will receive a severe, stinging wedgie from commenters who will complain I am being a meanie.

Why does C.J. Mahaney believe it is necessary to publicly announcement his personal problems with a group of critics? And why does he need to take a "leave of absence?"

From what I gather from his own explanation, there is no scandalous sin involved. If that were the case, I would expect him to permanently step down, not merely take a "leave of absence." In this case, it sounds like a group of "former" pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries who have some personal issues with him and his leadership style.


But why is there a need to take a "leave of absence" from one's ministry to deal with a group of offended former members? There isn't a pastor anywhere who doesn't have a gang of "former" members who have issues with him. It comes with the territory. I sort of thought Paul made that clear in his epistles. The good bulk of pastors who have offended former members don't think such offenses warrant a "leave of absence" from their pulpits and other responsibilities. It's things that can be dealt with on the side.

Additionally, why does C.J. feel the need to announce their problems with him to a wide and far internet audience? Seriously? Is it really any of our business? Again, we are told their problems with him are not related to scandalous sins. I am taking it there is something about his personality and ministry style that rub them wrong.

Whatever it may be, I just believe these are matters that need to be left out of the public mind and kept between them. There absolutely no reason to post a vague announcement about problems former pastors have against you and proclaim your leave of absence.

Unless of course you want to intentionally come across as a spiritually humble guy who is all transparent which in reality is merely a proud humility.

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Blogger MSC said...

I have to agree. I am a great fan of CJ and have benefited greatly from his ministry, but somehow this seems rather odd and inappropriate at several levels. Furthermore, it invites undue speculation and gossip that serves what purpose for those not directly involved?

It seems to me that CJ has promoted a sort of unhealthy transparency and ultra-introspection at times that is counterproductive to genuine spiritual growth. I see this tendency in John Piper as well though perhaps not as pronounced. It makes me wonder if it has something to do with the emotionally expressive nature of their personalities. Furthermore, it makes me wonder if there is a connection to their continuationist positions. The Charismatic movement always seems to attract people with this sort of "wear your emotions on your sleeve" kind of disposition.

4:43 PM, July 10, 2011  
Blogger The Squirrel said...


I must admit I had uneasy feelings when I read CJ's "letter," but I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me... Well, you just did.


4:51 PM, July 10, 2011  
Blogger Annemarie said...

Interesting. Reminds me of a shirt I just saw.

Ambiguity What happens in vagueness stays in vagueness.

5:01 PM, July 10, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

"Proud Humility" - well said.

The two comments above are likewise instructive.

7:40 PM, July 10, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

I noticed John Piper said he was trying talking to Rick Warren and John mentioned he thought he was suffering with pride. Piper was telling many people about that on the internet too. I'm thinking maybe these pastors are being attacked by Satan and are having a guilt trip.

I notice that everytime I say anything these days that I'm fighting off the lies of this satanic world system. I know the Devil does not want us to believe we have the truth. I think post modernism has become so deeply intertwined with our culture that it's starting to get into the Church and is being directed at the leaders of the Church.

Fred I believe the issue you're dealing with is post modernism.

8:05 PM, July 10, 2011  
Blogger JackW said...


What the Squirrel said, but don’t let it go to your head.

8:03 AM, July 11, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

MSC makes some astute observations about charismatic-friendly, but awkward glasnost.

8:14 AM, July 11, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never heard of C.J. Mahaney.

*shrugs shoulders*

I guess I don't get around much. But that letter gave me the creeps anyway.

And Fred, yes, you are a meanie. ;)

12:04 PM, July 11, 2011  
Blogger Tom said...

I have no idea what CJ's sins were, but that he said, "These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read" puts them more in the red than I otherwise would have. From what I can piece together, he needs (or wants) time away from the daily grind to devote to dealing whatever these issues are. That's not a bad idea if a) the sin is serious, and b) you have that opportunity.

Now, most of us do not have the leisure to step away from our paying jobs like CJ and Piper in order to just "deal with stuff," which makes it a bit odd. Then again, most of us are not as public as them, either, and being pulled in 100 different directions by 100 different people.

Ultimately, I don't really care if Piper or Mahaney take their times off. If it's sin and they need to deal with it, great. They don't owe us an explanation, but it certainly helps with staving off inquiries (e.g. "Why is Mahaney on leave?" "Don't worry about it."). It doesn't eliminate but most decent folks will leave well enough alone if they at least know some basic stuff. So I can understand a public letter. He's a public guy and you can't exactly just step out of the office for 6 months (or whatever) without someone noticing and throwing fuel on the fire. In the end it could be some kind of faux humility but there's no way to know that right now. Time will tell.

Still, it's a bit odd.

Just my thoughts.


2:07 PM, July 11, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

I'm forced to go contrarian on this, at this point. Mahaney's post struck me as up-front and commendable. I've heard serious charges against SGM in the past, and he seems set to address them. To me, that's a plus.

And I say this not as a natural-born, unconditional fan... though his T4G 2008 talk was a great blessing to the dear wife and me.

10:35 AM, July 12, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

woah, Dan and Fred don't agree on something. I hope the space time continuum is still intact.

11:28 AM, July 12, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Yes. I know. pigs flying.

I can say I commend C.J.'s willingness to deal with these individuals and their allegations. All pastors should.

But he's one of these weepy charismatic types who insists upon being "open" about everything, and honestly, his response is a bit of an overkill. "Leave of absence?" Really?

From what he describes as the problem, I just think the matter is none of our business and should remain discreetly between C.J. and his detractors not broadcast to an far flung internet audience.

11:40 AM, July 12, 2011  
Blogger Tom said...

I agree that some of the details could and should remain private. But it's wise to at least say something to the public.

That said, after having read the latest, http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/sgm/post/CJ-Mahaneys-comments-at-Covenant-Life-Church-yesterday.aspx, I think stepping down is wise. He says that, "I asked the board for a leave of absence from my position as President so I can have no position of influence in this process or its outcome, and so that every charge can be thoroughly evaluated." I don't know if stepping down really accomplishes all that, but it is one big hurdle. If you're the prez, you gots influence. At least in title, he can't pull any strings.

Now, if I could just convince my boss of a "leave of absence" and still get paid, I'd be golden.


12:06 PM, July 12, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it is good enough for John Piper it is good enough for C.J.

12:26 PM, July 12, 2011  
Blogger buddyglass said...

First, he has a blog and a public presence. That's why he feels the need to announce his leave instead of just disappearing. It would be similarly strange if he announced the leave with no explanation whatsoever. People would assume the worst. Maybe that should be "okay", but I can see why he'd want to provide some sort of explanation.

Second, while there is sexual sin or financial impropriety involved, he explicitly states the charges are of a serious nature and not just a criticism of leadership style. Pride, hypocrisy, judgment and deceit. Moreover he suggests that he agrees with the charges, at least in part. Hence the leave of absence to deal with what he apparently acknowledges to be some serious ongoing sin on his part.

9:39 PM, July 12, 2011  
Blogger buddyglass said...

Ooops. That should read: "While there is NO sexual sin or financial impropriety involved..."

10:40 PM, July 12, 2011  

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