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.
Just saw your pingback. You might want to check on our update which added Patti’s comment. I stand by all of my statements, otherwise.
As for you, I don’t know you and do not know if you are just a Calvinist, with which we are fine, or if you are a Calvinista. We define the difference on our blog. It might depend if you update your post as well.
Glad you posted the entirety of the post by “Patti.” I think that sets the context for Ortlund’s response. I realize you will probably stand by your statements, just like I’ll stand by mine 🙂
I’ve read your own personalized definition of “Calvinist” and “Calvinista” quite a few times… I guess I’m probably both, depending upon the day. Ha ha!
“Calvinista” needs a personalized definition since we are the ones who coined the term. As for Calvinist, I’ll let you guys duke that one out between yourselves. However, you have passed the initial smell test and, for now, you are a plain old Calvinist.
Let me explain one thing about the Patti comment. I take screen shots regularly of blogs on TGC which routinely remove comments willy nilly without informing the readers they are doing so. That is considered very bad form in the blogging world. An editor’s note should be made that someone’s comment has been deleted. But, TGC is not into Emily Post since she was a woman.:)
We get well over a hundred comments on most posts and as many as 300-400. We have hit over 500 a few times. We also receive a boat load of emails each day which we are committed to answering and we get several phone calls on our google line each day. All this to say is that we try very hard to be honest. My eyes crossed looking at the comments on Justin’s blog. Patti, a regular commenter at our blog, corrected me and I immediately added her comment to the post with a note of the time. As you can see, it did nothing to change my opinion on Ducky Ortlund.
As for Sad, she is just miffed that no one bought her John Piper apologetics. Sour grapes.
Finally, I do not lead my readers. I respect them. They are intelligent individuals and can read and think for themselves. As you know, i am not into the authority/lead thing. We have no problem with serious disagreements, allowing everyone, including atheists, to post comments.
I wish you well in the blogging arena. Please let us know if we can be of assistance.
With all respect, you have just proven my point. You are ascribing a motive to me when you cannot possibly know my motive. I don’t even know my own motives, most of the time, which is cause for a LOT of prayer on my part for the Lord to show me where I am wrong in both thought and deed!
From where I’m sitting, it would appear that you are requesting that people not judge your motives or assume you are doing things like “leading” your readers.
Yet that same principle seems not to apply to anyone you personally decide is in a certain “camp.” Perhaps that is not true, but it sure looks that way.
When you make statements about TGC not accepting someone’s post because they are a woman, I wonder if you realize how pejorative that is. I’m fine with discussions about differences between Complementarians and Egalitarians and I think those discussions are important. But it would be extremely misleading to suggest that Complementarians do not value the contributions of women. That makes me almost want to dismiss everything you think because it’s such a blatent falsehood. Statements like that also make me wonder if a lot of non-Complementarians actually are familiar with the substance of Complementarianism and not just the popular Egalitarian talking points or youtube rants.
I am openly not a hard-line Traditionalist when it comes to women in ministry. I think I’m either a soft-complementarian or a soft egalitarian… but regardless of what position I hold, the misrepresentation of the other side’s views by both sides is a bit ridiculous.
For example, I have read numerous posts at TGC written by women and also notice a lot of comments by women. Why are women marginalized if they do not agree with TWW? That makes me think that the principles that TWW argues for are actually not really a concern.
Of course, these are all just my opinions, just like all of yours are yours. I’m convinced that hard-line supporters of TWW will continue to enjoy the flavor provided, as will those who are super committed to the Reformed crowd. Sadly, both of those commitments sometimes seem to get in the way of either truth or love.
Anyway, I still enjoy reading TWW sometimes, so I wish you the best as well.
I did not say that TGC would not accept a post because a woman wrote it. I read TGC everyday and can probably quote the numbers of comp women who have written posts. In fact, we have quoted those women in a number of our posts.So obviously that was my not my point.
It was a joke about blog manners. Emily Post was a writer on manners in the last century. Google her.
I understood the joke, but that’s just kind of proving my point. The joke is intended to flesh out a perspective that you have concerning TGC and their view of women, regardless of whether there are women involved in holding that view 😉
But hey, maybe other people find that funny and ironic. I just find it ironic. ha ha.
Thank you for addressing these 2 issues; both the nature of discourse at TWW and the fact that the Reformed community does need to acknowledge that something is awry at SGM.
One side of this, TWW, is too quick to indict and ascribe motives without having all of the facts(even though they write as though they have an inside track to every scrap of information, which is impossible)….and the other side, the leaders with a platform in the Reformed community, have erred in the other direction and appear to be thus far ignoring the situation.
Yep… I totally agree with this assessment.