Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Sovereign Grace Meltdown Continues...

Things are getting more interesting at Sovereign Grace these days.  Here's something I found today at SGMSurvivors.

The Washington Post getting involved could make things very dicey for Mahaney and his allies, especially if, as many of the people at SGMSurvivors and its associated site SGMRefuge have alleged, real crimes have been committed or covered up, including sexual abuse.

And it seems to me the members of these sites, despite having rejected SGM's authoritarian ways, still haven't gotten all the Kool-aid out of their systems.  In addition to the comments on that thread indicating fear of the secular media, some people from SGMRefuge have announced they aren't cooperating at all.

Here's where I vent:

One strategy to maintain power if you are a tyrant is to create an enemy to keep people rallying around the flag and obedient to the leadership.  The Nazis in Germany used the USSR and the worldwide Communist movement, the Soviets used the Western powers, the more obnoxious left-wingers in this country use the threat of a Religious Right theocracy, and the more obnoxious right-wingers make it sound like al-Qaeda is going to impose Islamic law in the United States if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq or somesuch.

In this case, the secular world and the media are serving as the monster intended to keep the rank-and-file blind and deaf to problems experienced by others and silent about their own experiences, just like "the bloggers" were used by the less moral SGM leadership.  Until the identity of the reporter inquiring about the doings within SGM was revealed, many people thought the Post would use the SGM situation as a club to bash Christianity and turn people off to the Gospel.

(Never mind that if the doctrine of election is true, there is no need to worry about how people view the Gospel since God will save whom He wills.  For all their talk of soli dea gloria, the Calvinists seem to place an ideologically-inconsistent amount of responsibility on man.)

I'm a newspaper reporter.  I've been an editor at a weekly since last January and worked at a daily for three and a half years since I graduated from college.  Before that, I learned journalism from some damn fine people at the University of Georgia.

Nowhere was I taught to be biased in favor of one side or the other, in favor or against any religion or political ideology.  In fact, one of my professors told me it was none of my business who he voted for.  Even though many reporters I've worked with were not always especially religious or politically conservative, all of my editors and publishers are/were Christians and at least some of them were Republicans, even if none of them were foaming at the mouth ideologues.

In journalism, we are taught to be factually accurate and not take sides.  If what we report pisses someone off, pardon my language, then chances are we're goring someone's sacred cow rather than lying.

(This is not to say dishonest or biased people are not active in journalism.  There are some, to our shame.  However, at least we're trained not to be biased or to let our biases interfere with our work.)

Certain parties like Tim Challies as well as those who still have some Kool-aid in their systems are quoting Scriptures about publicizing disputes within the church, gossiping, etc.  I imagine they're quoting the same Scriptures the Catholic leadership did over the years to justify covering up the fact that there were sexual predators in the priesthood, that efforts to treat them in-house had failed, and they were reoffending wherever the church moved them.

Remember the Lord Himself said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).  Jesus, Paul, etc. were concerned that the good name of Christianity not be dragged through the mud by people's stupidity and pettiness, not that gross sins and outright crimes be covered up.  Remember the Old Testament prophets criticized misbehaving kings and prominent people in public and Paul named names at times, so the Bible does not teach that we should indulge in sordid coverups and victim-blaming whenever bad things happen within the church.

And of course, one can't discuss SGM without Joshua Harris.  Harris is one of the few people in the Reformed movement who have weighed in the situation who is showing significant integrity, as witnessed by Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan as well as Challies.  He has acknowledged critics have legitimate points and even apologized when one of his statements was misinterpreted in an insulting way.  Although I have my issues with Josh both professional (complementarianism) and personal (the "courtship" ideology has not been good for my social life), I can respect honor, backbone, and doing what is right no matter the cost.

And Harris has paid a price already.  He has resigned, I suspect under pressure, from the SGM board, and two of Mahaney's sons-in-law have left Covenant Life.  I have read that he and Mahaney have historically been very close, so this must not be fun at all.  And if a breach between SGM and Covenant Life comes--which is possible, given how other leaders at Covenant Life have reached out to SGM's critics--I imagine the wrath of the various Reformed leaders who have sided with Mahaney will come down on him and his.  These are people he respects, so that sure as heck won't be a picnic.

Of course, he's still got his flaws--rather than telling all church members to read the documents revealing all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans among SGM leadership and then make an informed decision about staying with the church, he said heads of households should do that.  Said heads being, I would imagine, husbands and fathers.  Patriarchal democracy is an improvement over oligarchy or outright dictatorship, true, but every believer is a priest before God, not just male heads of household.

(Many Reformed and complementarians seem to think the husband/father is the priest of their family before God, which contradicts the doctrine--based on 1 Peter 2:9--that all Christians are priests.  The Reformers who fought against the Catholic system of priesthood would be spinning in their graves at the notion that not each and every believer is a priest before God, even if they weren't the most female-friendly people.)

There.  I'm done.  Now, the Bible does tell us to pray, so we should pray for everyone concerned, that justice be done if needed, that hurts be healed, and that the truth would win out.

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