The Sovereign Grace Ministries Scandal

I have only recently learned about the lawsuit alleging wide-spread child abuse at Sovereign Grace Ministries, a neo-Calvinist denomination based in MD.  Check here for local coverage of the lawsuit, much of which was dismissed earlier this month.

I don’t know what to make of this yet, as I am still reading about it. However, the story is pitting some evangelical heavy weights against each other.

Christianity Today is covering this scandal and notes that Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Justin Taylor, and Ligon Duncan have come to the defense of SGM founder C.J. Mahaney.  On the other side, supporting those who allege abuse, are Rachel Held Evans, Scot McKnight and Liberty University professor Boz Tchividjian.

For summaries of the situation, the following sites seem to have good coverage.

Rachel Held Evans

SGM Survivors

Internet Monk (Update)

Wartburg Watch

World Magazine

Christianity Today

Given the seriousness of the allegations and the notoriety of the those who are taking sides, this set of events could be the foundation of a major disruption in the evangelical world.




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  • StraightGrandmother

    I am reading the SGMSurvivors blog and OMG it is a CULT. This is total cult behavior. That is just toooo much church for me.

    • Richard Willmer

      We’ll certainly have to stop calling you ‘SGM’ now!

      @ the other (much nicer) ‘SGM’

  • Anonymous

    Hi Warren,

    I appreciate your posting this with all of the various links. It does need one correction: the World Magazine article is old. It was released before the second amended lawsuit was filed on May 14, 2013, so it really isn’t a response to these specific allegations of the 11 alleged victims.

    Thanks for all you do. I always appreciated your integrity.

  • Patrocles

    If one has outlived more than one generation, one knows that there are fashions and that narratives change with the time.

    The fifties and sixties felt that children, being little rascals, might well be able to falsely accuse teachers or similar persons about sexual abuse. (My father was a teacher, and he used to say that teachers are always with one foot in prison, even if not only because of sexual accusations.)

    Nowadays everyone is certain that the little ones would never do such a thing.

    Then there was a time where intelligent people thought that the damage wasn’t so much done by the sexual acts themselves but by the social reactions (as the victims didn’t feel ashamed in face of the perpetrator but in face of society). That has become completely unfashionable now.

    (It’s like in the seventies and eighties everyone was convinced that homosexuality was NOT innate , and today everyone is convinced that it is.)

    I have got rather impassive w.r.t. such fashions. But it would be nice if Jesus Christ soon came again and we would finally have knowledge instead of fashions.

  • buddyglass

    It’s worth noting that Mahaney isn’t accused of actual abuse, but of failing to report abuse and of conspiring with other SGM leaders to handle it as a matter of church discipline instead of via the civil authorities. Still a very bad deal, but also decided less bad than the alleged abuse that went on (which was horrific).

  • DJ

    I attended Covenant Life briefly a few years ago as I had a few friends from school who went there. It did not take me long to figure out that SGM was indeed a cult (and a very insidious one at that). I’m sadly not surprised about any of this at all. But I feel extremely bad for the victims of this abuse 🙁

  • GK

    This is a mess. It is human nature to look at a series of information sources and draw immediate conclusions. This is a very long, complex set of issues. In the middle of it all is the truth and many lies. Many fabrications and many very accurate details. It is the role of the believer to look at this information if called and make an informed decision if led. For most, this does not touch them directly and they should not feel the need to be involved. For others, who are part of this network of churches or like myself attend Covenant Live, it is our duty to pray for the will of our Lord to be done and to exercise His sovereign hand in the process. We must guard our heart against what the scripture forbids as in judgement, gossip and other sins that “easily entangle us”, Heb. 12 and fix our gaze on Christ. Only from there can we see with discernment. The enemy is a roaring lion seeking who he may devour and is poised to bring down the name of Christ and more gloriously for him to do it within the church. There is sin present that needs to be repented of on all fronts. Only God can bring the conviction. Keep praying church for those harmed and abused and pray for those who caused harm. This must be about Jesus first and not man. If not, the enemy will mock His name to the world.

    • Greg D

      I find it ironic that those who seem to support SGM tend to provide sermons about not gossiping and using discernment. When someone speaks out against SGM they are branded as gossipers or speaking falsely. Furthermore, this issue is not as complex as you make it out to be. In fact, it is very black and white. Children have been sexually abused and SGM has glossed over the issue. Let’s indeed keep praying. Pray that those who have supported SGM will see the truth and speak out against the injustice. Let’s pray that justice will be served and God will be glorified.