As some of you may know, Sovereign Grace Ministries, led by C.J. Mahaney, has been facing a lawsuit for a case of child abuse. For a quick recap, see here and here. Many have been calling for some sort of a clarification from those affiliated with SGM, but it appears that everyone close to SGM and Mahaney are being relatively silent. Maybe this is because there is some sort of a court order against comment or maybe this is a legal strategy. Only those involved know the answer to that question. But I’m not sure the silence is very helpful to many people in the public. There seems to be an increasing number of people who are wondering why there is such silence in regards to such serious accusations. I know that I’m deeply concerned about the possibility that child abuse has been mishandled and covered up.
In my opinion, there should be absolutely no hesitation to report these types of things to local authorities. I have a zero tolerance policy on the issue and believe strongly that church leaders can not be neutral on these types of issues.
That being said, I’m confused a bit by what I read at The Wartburg Watch. TWW appears to be a self-appointed watch dog against church abuses, and I find a lot of what they write interesting and insightful. I have no doubt that I’m one of the bad “neo-Calvinists” that they seem to often write about, but it’s good to know what concerns people have about the different streams of the church that we find ourselves in. Since I’m not one who has all my identity in being Reformed, I find a lot of the criticisms helpful.
That being said, I can’t help but read their latest post, “Ray “Ducky” Ortlund: Church Conflict Can Lead to Death,” as problematic. The reason is simple: it’s full of unsubstantiated conclusions that clearly reveal that their own presuppositions are shaping their perception of what may or may not represent the intentions of Justin Taylor and Ray Ortlund. Of course, it’s totally acceptable for the author to state that Ortlund’s comments are “one of the most stupid and spiritually abusive statements” that they have heard. Everyone is welcome to their opinion. So in light of that, I find the misreading, jumping to conclusions, and misleading statements found in this particular blog post at TWW to be pretty ridiculous. It’s particularly interesting that the alleged “stupid and spiritually abusive” statement by Ortlund is presented to be a response to a comment by “Patti.” The reason why it is interesting is that the comment by “Patti” that TWW suggests that Ortlund is commenting on actually isn’t the one Ortlund is responding to. TWW conveninently didn’t quote the snarky and sarcastic comment by “Patti” which read as follows:
“Is that why you leaders are so silent? You are worried about ‘releasing your own injustices?’
Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean, I promise not to gossip about my assumptions of what I think you mean in case I am really jumping to conclusions before I understand.”
So maybe the shoe of “gossip” doesn’t fit. How about the shoe of “misreading,” “jumping to conclusions,” and “selectively leading readers”?
I think someone from the evangelical Reformed needs to acknowledge the seriousness of this issue. It might quiet down the frustrations of so many people who are hurt by the silence…
Update: TWW has updated their initial blog to include the entirety of the comments by “Patti.” I think that’s a good thing. It might not help nuance the assumptions of some readers, but it’ll help TWW not look nearly as guilty of selectively leading their readers to reach the conclusions that they already hold. I give them two thumbs up for that! I still see a lot of jumping to conclusions, but so be it!
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.