July 12, 2011

“Evangelical Orthodoxy is not an Acceptable Guise for the Embodiment of Error”

C.J. Mahaney is one of the star personalities of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. He has been a keynote speaker for The Gospel Coalition (TGC) along side Mark Dever, Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan. These four as well as John MacArthur* and John Piper are scheduled keynote speakers for TGC’s sister conference Together for the Gospel1 in 2012. C.J. Mahaney has, furthermore, been a regular keynote speaker for John MacArthur and Rick Holland at their annual Resolved conference.

On July 7 C.J. Mahaney announced a personal leave of absence. See C.J. Mahaney: “Why I’m Taking a Leave of Absence.”2 The following comment was posted by Alex Guggenheim in a discussion thread under a Filing at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site about Mahaney’s leave of absence.3 I present it here for your consideration because of its spot-on analysis with my personal commentary to follow.
SGM [Sovereign Grace Ministries] (formerly PDI/People of Destiny International) is basically a neo-Purtian, neo-Charistmatic, and neo-Calvinistic/Reformed sect/organization whose history provides a backdrop to why “we” (since Mahaney makes this public then “we” is appropriate here) find so many problems and objections concerning its leadership and operations. As well, Mahaney’s complete lack of formal theological matriculation, no doubt, has contributed to his rise and maintenance as a novice with the Scriptures.

But these are all, really, his concern and the concern of those who are gullible enough to choose to yield themselves to such leadership and teachings. But what is striking is the emphatic allegiance by Dever and the like within the Reformed community to SGM and Mahaney over the past decade. Did they not do their due diligence or is this simply another case of so-called Conservative Evangelicals in the Reformed sect sycophantically revolving around Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist (ARC) theology and not the Scriptures so that they ignore their very own teachings on the qualifications required for leadership that when a rising group or personality comes along that has had their own ARC epiphany, they welcome them with opened arms without requiring them to scrub themselves of their many errors before being embraced and promoted within their ranks?

Now one might respond with, “But CJ Mahaney is being called out, isn’t that enough that they are dealing with him?” Well that doesn’t undo their lack of due diligence and having their eyes closed (and if they didn’t have their eyes closed then either ignoring what was evident or worse, calling into question their judgment) before they ever embraced Mahaney and this group. But of course with the words “sovereign grace” in one’s title, what’s to be concerned with, right?

A little bit of research would shine a light on the many erring teachings of Mahaney. I know some of you want to retort, “but he teaches orthodoxy,” right? To that I respond, Evangelical orthodoxy is not an acceptable guise for the embodiment of error.” Jack Hyles was orthodox. In fact, I tell you what I see with these groups, more of the same but under another name and the very same kinds of objections when anyone levels a concern about leadership abuses and doctrinal departures.
Brother Alex Guggenheim got it exactly right and more so than he may have intended. I draw your attention especially to this statement by Alex,
But what is striking is the emphatic allegiance by Dever and the like within the Reformed community to SGM and Mahaney over the past decade. Did they not do their due diligence or is this simply another case of so-called Conservative Evangelicals in the Reformed sect sycophantically revolving around Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist (ARC) theology and not the Scriptures….
The irony and lesson here is the strikingly similar actions, or more accurately, lack thereof by Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan to the egregious errors of the evangelicals whom they eagerly seek to join in cooperative fellowship and ministry. I have been writing and documenting for many, many months a clear pattern from these men in regard to the conservative evangelicals in which they allow for, tolerate, ignore and/or excuse egregious doctrinal errors, ecumenical compromise and worldliness for the sake of fellowship around “Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist (ARC) theology.” Calvinism, its soteriology in the form of Lordship Salvation, is the magnetic attraction of Reformed men in fundamental Baptist circles to their Calvinistic counterparts in evangelical circles.

Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran have a history of heaping lavish praise on evangelicals including John Piper. Among the most recent issues that neither Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran have not and apparently will have nothing substantive to say about is John Piper’s new and expanding cooperation with Rick Warren. Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD)4 was excused by both Bauder and Doran. Dave Doran has attended T4G and MacArthur’s Shepherds conference where Mahaney and/or Piper have been keynote speakers. Yet, on Piper and Mahaney’s charismatic teachings virtually nothing. Mark Dever’s SBC entanglements, amillenialism and personal affinity for and use of the RAP/Hip Hip medium in ministry is also ignored for the sake of cooperative ministry5 such as at the 2011 Leadership Conference at Calvary Baptist Church & Seminary, Lansdale, PA. Virtually no ministry of warning emanates from self identified biblical separatists.

Evangelicals, with highly questionable doctrines and practices, are “being embraced and promoted within [our] ranks.” In the new day resurgence of New Evangelical like tolerance and compromise for the sake of unity there appears to be no boundaries. In compromise, are cousins becoming twins?


Site Publisher Addendum:
Additional related comments by Brother Guggenheim, worthy of your consideration, include #: 19, 25 and 47. Among sources (provided by Alex Guggenheim) that might be of interest concerning the excesses and charges of abuse by SGM/Mahaney can be found at: SGMSurvivors; SGM Refuge; The Wartburg Watch: The Mahaney Money Machine and CJ Mahaney and SGM: The Systematic Approach to Sin Sniffing.

*On June 22 Phil Johnson (at SI) indicated that John MacArthur will not appear at the 2012 T4G. Johnson wrote, “The few reasons I gave for John MacArthur's non-participation in T4G 2012 were by no means an exhaustive list. There are some additional factors that have contributed to his decision to quietly back away from some of the large coalition meetings....” As of this date, however, MacArthur’s name and photo still appear under the featured speaker section of the T4G site as a scheduled speaker for the 2012 conference.

1) Together for the Gospel: “A Final Sad Spectacle

2) C.J. Mahaney: “Why I’m Taking a Leave of Absence”

3) Comment #8 under the discussion CJ Mahaney’s Leave of Absence

4) Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration, Part 2
Dave Doran’s final determination on Al Mohler’s signing the MD was that it was merely a “wrong decision based on bad judgment.” Kevin Bauder’s only known reference to the MD was to state that Mohler’s signing was only an “occasional inconsistency…single episode,” which is widely known to be only one of several ecumenical compromises in the ministry of Al Mohler. Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency”
5) The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do?
Are there any concrete reasons why militant, biblical separatists should avoid a cooperative ministry with Mark Dever? Does Mark Dever embrace any “worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship?” Is there a clear “distinction between the church and the world [that] must be guarded?”


  1. Lou-

    Thanks for posting this. It is an important issue in the Christian community at this time.

    I'm glad you posted links to SGMrefuge and SGMsurvivors. Those two blogs are among the main contributors to the shakedown that is happening in SGM now. While they are not Fundamentalist blogs, the accounts given there of the harm done to people within the SGM system are STAGGERING and should be read by every Christian concerned about people and how they are treated in the name of Christ.

    Brent Detwiler has acted as unofficial historian for the SGM movement since its inception. He has meticulously chronicled every meeting and correspondence he has been part of. A set of documents he complied has been put up on the internet and (according to commenters at Survivors) Josh Harris has encouraged people (especially SGMers) to read them for greater understanding of what has been going on with Mahaney for many years. These documents have been the subject of much discussion recently on Survivors, Refuge, and The Wartburg Watch*. They trace back several decades. They can be read here:


    Evangelical orthodoxy is not an acceptable guise for the embodiment of error. It is also no excuse for abusing people in God's name.

    *The Wartburg Watch blog is a good blog for exposing spiritual abuse in Christendom. However, we must disagree with a number of their theological positions.


  2. Jan:

    Thanks for the input an additional link. I was mildly aware of serious concerns with Mahaney and SGM, but had no idea just how serious it has been according to reports.


  3. Watching the thread at SI on this filing has been interesting when compared to others. Alex, in his closing paragraph mentions the errors (he references Jack Hyles) within fundamentalism that so many at SI are quick to attack (and rightfully so, I may add; a lording over God's flock is unacceptable) yet now, when the very same kind of error (lording over God's flock) is exposed as being existent within the realm of Conservative Evangelicalism these same people are muted and muzzled. Instead, you get comments like Bryan Bice's, "I may disagree with some of CJ's theology, but I greatly respect the man. I find his transparency & humility refreshing." What utter nonsense! Transparency and humility! What transparency! What humility! These things were brought to light by others to the point that Mahaney could no longer try to lord it over these people as "the Apostle" and where does it say that a mark of humility is lording over people? Really, so much for transparency and humility. And these people actually praise Mahaney for writing a book about humility, when all the while he is practicing the very opposite of humility; that my friends, is hypocrisy! And for these at SI to blast those within fundamentalism for these errors and then be muted or measured in their response to Mahaney over the very same thing shows their own partialtiy to people which God condemns in James 2:9 "But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."

  4. Brian:

    Spot on evaluation of SI's long time pattern of playing favorites. Just as I noted and you see it from not only Bauder and Doran, but from the likes of Bryan Bice and Shaynus McAllister in the SI thread. They'll lower the boom on any Fundamentalist with great gusto for any foible, real or perceived. Come to this with Mahaney, Piper hooking up with Rick Warren, Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration they allow for, run interference and excuse if not ignore those things entirely.

    How many times have we heard, "but, they write such good books?"

    As for the behaviors of Mahaney, Piper and MacArthur one has legitimate reason to ask if they actually believe what they write in their books. For clarity on JMac- MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos yet for years put Piper and Mahaney in his pulpit for the Resolved and Shepherd's conferences.

    As for the ce's let's not forget that MacArthur embraced, hosted and promoted Mahaney just as enthusiastically as Dever, Piper, Mohler and Duncan.



  5. Lou-

    The whole thing is a complete and total mess.

    As one would expect, Mohler and now Ligan Duncan have weighed in minimizing the allegations against Mahaney (and by extension SGM and it's organizational structure). This in spite of Josh Harris stating plainly from the Covenant Life Church pulpit that he inherited from Mahaney that this is by far the worst crisis CLC has ever seen and the situation IS as bad as the congregation had heard (i.e.- from the Surviors and Refuge blogs).

    Expect more circling of the wagons from the rest of the T4G crowd.

    Shockingly, Duncan has the nerve to say this:

    I would then encourage you to ignore the assaults of wounded people on attack websites and blogs, and that you discount the opinings of those who have no real knowledge of these matters or relation to SGM or authority to comment upon them, and that you refrain from assuming that you (or they) are in a position to render judgment on these things.

    Duncan, the unjust judge who will not allow the testimony of the wounded in the courtroom, is referring here to all 3 blogs mentioned above (Survivors, Refuge, and Wartburg Watch). I say read those blogs! Read them, read them, read them!! (Especially Survivors and Refuge.) And then decide for yourself if the testimonies of the wounded should have any weight in this.

    And then ask how it is just to dismiss the testimonies of those harmed out of the equation. How is that shepherding??? How is that pastoring???!!! Is this one hireling defending another or are these men called and gifted pastors of Christ's flock?

    Isaiah 1:4-6: A people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers; children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward. Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faints. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores.


  6. Jan:

    Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses,” (1 Tim. 5:19).

    Would it be fair to say that there are scores of witnesses, all raising, with evidence, essentially the same accusation(s) about Mahaney and SGM?

    Mohler and Duncan, furthermore, have no spiritual leg to stand on, they are compromisers of the gospel by having joined hands with Roman Catholic priests and apostates to sign the Manhattan Declaration. They, just as Mahaney should be accused, admonished, rebuked, withdrawn from, marked and avoided. Mohler and Duncan gave Christian recognition to the deadly enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18).

    But back to men who claim to be biblical, “militant” separatists and I refer to men such as Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran: They have been doing right along just as Mohler and Duncan do now, which is to run interference, excuse, tolerate or ignore. They place friendships and fellowships ahead of fidelity to the God-given mandates. That is why I closed the main article with,



  7. Lou,

    Good to have you back..

    You mention Matt Olsen here and in some of your previous "10 Best.." I have a relative who graduated in June from NIU and another a few years earlier. The most recent one came from a Fundamental Baptist background but graduated as a flaming, unapologetic, doctrinaire Calvinist. Tragic!!!

    I thought your previous coverage of the NBBC/NIU transformation very interesting -- and NIU now seems to have no foundation, no rudder except maybe, "Let's just get along with everybody."

    Are you a graduate of NBBC? I appreciate your passion for exposing their errors.

    Jan, I really appreciate your statement, "Evangelical orthodoxy is not an acceptable guise for the embodiment of error."

    These days even the word "Evangelical" leaves a bad taste in one's spiritual mouth. What in the world is a conservative evangelical" anyway?

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  8. Would it be fair to say that there are scores of witnesses, all raising, with evidence, essentially the same accusation(s) about Mahaney and SGM?



  9. Jan, I really appreciate your statement, "Evangelical orthodoxy is not an acceptable guise for the embodiment of error."

    Hi Jack. That's not mine. That was Alex Guggenheim's from the article. I added that it's also not an excuse for abusing people in God's name.


  10. Hello Jack:

    It is good to be back. Ten days in China was a great time, but- “there’s no place like home.” ;)


I have several reactions to your comments.

    I am not a NBBC graduate, but have been to the college several times.

    Your relative who came away from NIU a Calvinist: get ready for more of that. Parents had better understand that, if they do not embrace Calvinism and Lordship Salvation, do not want their young people introduced to and indoctrinated into Calvinism and LS, they need to seriously rethink sending their young people to NIU.

    NIU has a rudder, it is steering them in the direction of Reformed theology, loose standards and New Evangelical compromise with Matt Olson navigating the way there from the helm.

    You wrote, “I appreciate your passion for exposing their errors.” 

    Actually, the passion is for warning the unsuspecting about how NIU has changed and what it is becoming. It is tragic to think parents and pastors might be sending their young people to NIU with the impression it is the same school as it was under the name NBBC. It is not! It has changed radically, which I have irrefutably documented in several articles.



  11. Jack:

    You asked, “What in the world is a “conservative” evangelical anyway?” 

    Easy to define, just watch what they do, what they say and you have a definition. John Piper is charismatic who also embraces Rick Warren. CJ Mahaney, another Charismatic, with serious issues that have come to light. Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan hobnobbing with Roman Catholics to sign the Manhattan Declaration have thereby given Christian recognition to the deadly enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18). Mark Dever’s amillenialism and personal affinity for the RAP/Hip Hop medium. And most of these men’s membership in or close ties with the SBC, which has not been as cleaned up/restored as some are tending to suggest.

    Although these men preach the false interpretation of the Gospel known as Lordship Salvation, which is the message they gather around at T4G and TGC. John MacArthur who writes books about the errors of Charismatic theology and its practice and then has its practitioners preaching for him in various venues.

    So, IMO the definition of a “conservative” evangelical boils down to this: Let’s just all get along no matter what our fellow like-minded Calvinistic brethren believes or does. Let’s not obey God’s mandates to admonish, withdraw from, mark and avoid the erring and/or disobedient among us. Friendship first at the expense of fidelity to God and His Word.

    These are the so-called “conservative” evangelicals that men like Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan are reaching out to, seeking greater fellowship and cooperation with, and trying to influence the next generation to join them in that outreach. 

Of course, if any of these self-identified “separatists” were to admonish and call on their new friends in the evangelical camp to obey the Scriptural principles for separation from erring, disobedient brethren and the unsaved, the convergence would come to crashing halt. The evangelicals would have nothing to do with them.


  12. If I am understanding one paragraph in your post correctly, (the paragraph with "strikingly similar" bolded), you are implying that Bauder is a Calvinist, or at least strongly Calvinistic. You may further be implying that he is Reformed in his theology or moving in that direction. Did I read that correctly?

    For the record, I know little of the man. But I did hear him speak one time in 2003 or 2004 - ironically enough, on the measure of cooperation, fellowship or separation - and I recall him saying from the pulpit exactly these words: "Is election conditional or unconditional? I don't know!" That does not sound like a Calvinist speaking. When I later chatted with him privately, he disavowed Limited Atonement as well, if I recall correctly.

    Is there documentation of a shift of his since 2004 on either of these doctrines?


  13. Victor:

    Thanks for asking.

    The “strikingly similar” in regard to Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran I refer to has to do with this portion from the comment by Alex at SI.

    But what is striking is the emphatic allegiance by Dever and the like within the Reformed community to…simply another case of so-called Conservative Evangelicals in the Reformed sect sycophantically revolving around Augustinian/Reformed/Calvinist (ARC) theology and not the Scriptures….”

    In brief, it has become obvious that both Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran will not admonish, but instead tolerate, allow for, ignore and/or excuse their new friends in the so-called “conservative” evangelical camp for doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromises and worldliness in ministry because they have narrowed to what they are describing as Gospel driven separation, Gospel centered fellowship and the like. So, instead of the whole counsel of God determining fellowship and/or separation choices they narrow it to the Gospel.

    Bauder and Doran are *Calvinistic in their theology. It is Calvinism’s soteriology that is the rallying point for the new convergence with the evangelicals. That is why Bauder/Doran will as I noted above tolerate, allow for and excuse the evangelicals for doctrines and practices that as far as I know they (KB/DD at the moment do not allow for in their own ministries.

    So, as Alex demonstrates Mark Dever and the other T4G men’s “emphatic allegiance and “revolving around ARC” so it is with Bauder and Doran.

    Hope that is helpful.


    *Whether a Calvinist is 4, 4.5 or 5 pointer depends on who you are talking to. Many are 4 point because they cannot embrace Calvinism’s Limited Atonement. What I believe, however, I will post in the next comment, but do not plan to redirect this thread into a Calvinism debate.

  14. The Calvinist embraces a rationalistic fatalism rather than biblical faith in his approach to theology. This is how he arrives at the conclusions found in Calvinism. A good friend provided for me the following explanation.

    Rationalistic fatalism is understandable in light of dictionary usage. According to Franklin’s Dictionary & Thesaurus, “rationalistic” is literally: “reliance on reason as the basis for the establishment of religious truth,” and “fatalism” is the “belief that fate determines events.” Of course “fate” is a cause beyond human control to determine. Looking at the statement in this light demonstrates that those referred to rely on reason rather than revelation as the basis for their theological moorings. The “circle logic” of five-point Calvinism is just that for the whole system crumbles when a single link in the chain is broken. One must approach the system with reason rather than faith. This of course leads to the fatalism just mentioned, which holds that God has predetermined the destiny of human souls and that all preaching of the Gospel, praying, and missionary effort in the world will not change the outcome.

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  16. Brian:

    Will do, but later today. Will reply to your email.


  17. I believe you have touched on the crux of an issue that will only continue to grow and may ultimately be that which brings further separation. That is rationalism which is at the heart of the Reformed/Covenant Theology. The definition you gave on rationalistic nails the thought process you see in their writings. I have read portions of Calvin's Institute to compare doctrinal teachings on various doctrines and have been struck by the rationalism that abounds in his writing on different doctrines. This starts to establish an eisegetical approach to the Scriptures instead of an exegetical approach. While it is error, you start to see how the Reformed/Covenant theologians have developed their covenant of works/covenant of grace cloth out of nothing from the Scriptures; it has been rationalized out of the Scriptures.
    These two systems (an exegetical and eisegetical approach) cannot exist side by side in any organization/movement/church for very long.
    The resurgence of Reformed/Covenant thought has already started that divide and it will only continue.

  18. Brian,

    I appreciate and agree with your assessment. I have often written about this regarding some of the extremes that flow from Calvinism. Regeneration before faith, which is an extra-biblical position can only be arrived at by forcing into or extracting from the Bible things that are not there. Calvinism's "faith is the gift of God" is another position arrived at to bolster Calvinism by forcing and twisting the Scriptures into conformity with Calvinism.


  19. On page 315 of Ryrie's systematic theology, he argues that unconditional election is not to be equated with fatalism.

    Of course Ryrie is not a covenantal calvinist after the breed of the westminster confession (thankfully).


  20. I invite you to be alerted to the following report.

    John Piper quote about Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life:
    “Frankly, I’m appalled at the kinds of slander that have been brought against this book by people whose methods of critique, if they were consistently applied to the Bible, would undo it as the Word of God… When I read the book, I thought “what’s the issue here?”” John Piper, May 28, 2011 Christian Today

    Mark Dever (IX Marks) on Rick Warren:

    “First of all, let us affirm that we love and respect Rick Warren as a Christian brother, and we consider him a genuine comrade in pastoral ministry. His heart for evangelism is second to none. His passion to see people reached for Christ is pulsating, contagious, and quite frankly, convicting. His sincerity is unquestioned, and his apparent success is unparalleled. And we agree with Warren on the fundamentals of the faith. In fact, one of our primary concerns in releasing these reviews has been that we’ll be misperceived as turning our guns on our own guys if we say anything corrective. We’re not shooting at our comrade in arms here. Our intent is constructive, not destructive.” Mark Dever, IX Marks

    Now contrast these quotes with this new film documentary on Rick Warren vs. Scripture:
    Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive, Church Growth & New World Order

    Having written two books exposing Rick Warren, published by Southwest Radio Church, it could not be more timely in light of Rick Warren major secular media blitz with the re-release of his 10th Anniversary Purpose-Driven Life and Global Peace Plan.

    Rick Warren/John Piper Alliance

    Here is new article that compares Warren's teachings to Scripture:


    I hope you will alert your people and editorial staff and biblical scholars!

    Thank you!!!

    Sincerely in Christ,

    James Sundquist