I first heard about this from Justin Taylor. C.J. Mahaney is taking a leave of absence as head of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Nothing unusual about leaves of absence. Yet the transparency of C.J. is striking as to the reason for this leave:
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.
“These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety.” I’m thankful he clarified this, because the pattern of ministers leaving the ministry usually falls into these two categories. What the nature of the offenses are is not our concern and would be conjecture and sheer speculation should we attempt to dissect his note. The fact is that C.J. was confronted regarding “pride, unentreatability (or being unapproachable), decit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.” The world considers this par for the course among leaders. Yet, C.J. will have none of this.
He goes on:
I believe God is kindly disciplining me through this. I believe I have by the grace of God perceived a degree of my sin, and I have been grieved by my sin and its effects on others. I have had the opportunity to confess my sin to some of those affected in various ways by my sin. And I am so very grateful for their forgiveness. But I want to perceive and confess any and all sin I have committed. Although my experience of conviction has already started—and this is an evidence of God’s mercy—I’m sure there is more for me to perceive and acknowledge. Even with the charges I disagree with it has been beneficial to examine my soul and ask for the observation of others. And I am resolved to take responsibility for my sin and every way my leadership has been deficient, and this would include making any appropriate confessions, public or private. Most importantly I want to please God during this season of examination and evaluation.
So here is what I am going to do. I’ve asked to take a leave of absence in order to give time to considering these charges, examine my heart, and receive the appropriate help from others. With the guidance of the SGM board, I would also hope to pursue reconciliation with former pastors of Sovereign Grace during this leave. I have stepped off the board and I will not be the President of Sovereign Grace Ministries during this period of examination and evaluation. In order for me to receive an objective evaluation in relation to these charges the board is securing the help of a third-party ministry that has no history of relationship with SGM. With counsel from that ministry, the board will determine the appropriate steps I should take going forward. After processing these findings, the board will determine the appropriate steps I should take going forward. This leave of absence will also help remove any impediment to the panel’s exploration that could potentially arise if I remained in my current position, and it will enable me to fully cooperate in the process.
To be clear: my aim for this is not to air Mahaney’s dirty laundry, but to show how God’s mercy is prevalent even in times of needed confrontation of sin. At this point in the process, Mahaney is more concerned about his relationship with Christ and reconciling with his brothers in Christ more than keeping up appearances and holding on to his position. He sees the need for personal holiness and personal examination. He also sees the need for accountability with godly men who will deal with him in a gospel-gripped manner.
I encourage you to read the rest of Mahaney’s letter, along with Justin Taylor’s comments as well. And pray for Mahaney and the rest of the Sovereign Grace Ministries leadership. May they come through this stronger in Christ than before!