Principled Leaders

In the past week it’s become apparent that one of the Brand New Calvinist™ luminaries, C.J. Mahaney has been running his Sovereign Grace Ministries in a rather damaging fashion. I’ll quote from Mahaney’s own communique about his decision to step down,

Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace. These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read. These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.”

(So at least aside from being prideful and deceptive there was no “immorality” involved.) I read about this initially a couple days ago on Bene D’s blog and thought that it didn’t warrant me saying much more on the topic. I don’t have anything to do with Mahaney or Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), and I sort of shrugged this off as another tragic example of a big-shot pastor who let it all get to his head. Then Bill drops this post yesterday in which he points out those who co-founded another ministry – Together For The Gospel (T4G) – with Mahaney are going to bat for him. Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan have both stood up for Mahaney and, in essence, insist that his critics shut up and that everyone else move along.

What’s remarkable about this is that there seems to be a reflex here that is shockingly similar to the one that kicked in at the Vatican when the child sex-abuse scandals started to leak into the media. (Note: Let’s be clear, I’m not saying that C.J. Mahaney is the equivalent of a sex offender.) The hierarchy circled the wagons and went about blaming everyone else while trying to protect itself. Neither T4G nor SGM is a hierarchy like Rome, but there is an undeniable star system at the top of today’s Reformed church world with a handful of powerful men who dominate conferences and bestseller lists, and it appears that they have taken to looking after their interests – the interests of the powerful – at the expense of all those whom they claim as followers. It is a different order of magnitude than what went on with the Roman Catholic abuse scandal, but it is a similar mindset. Those at the top no longer identify with their congregation or their community, but with the other Big Name Pastors.