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C.J. Mahaney Teaches on the “Priority” of Gospel Unity: A Priority Only for Others (but not C.J. Mahaney)?

As I start my new blog, the first item I want to talk about is a recent message by C.J. Mahaney titled “The Provision and Priority of Gospel Unity.” At least for a while you can either listen to or download this message here.  This message was given on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at SGM Louisville.

Note:  For some reason WordPress is making my bullets x’s.  I am working to correct that.

When I listened to this message I was shocked by what I heardWas this the same man whose actions were in contradiction to this message? (I will give more examples and details later)  How can someone give a message like this when his own actions haven’t appeared to follow what he is teaching?  Mahaney didn’t  mention nor admit these contradictions let alone state what he is going to do about them.   Some of these examples of Mahaney not doing what he taught in this message go back more than 10 years.

Is C.J. Mahaney like the Pharisees that Jesus said:

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.  (Mathew 23:4)

First of all C.J. indicated that disagreements can be an internal threat to the church. Not all threats to the church are from outside but some are from within.  C.J. indicated that he believed standing firm means believers standing together in harmony.

The Need to Apply Phil 2:1-11

Though the message subtitle was that it was about the disagreement of two women mentioned in Philippians 4:1-3 most of C.J.s focus was on the need to apply Philippians 2:1-11 as a means of “agreeing in the Lord” and obtaining “gospel unity.” This passage is where Paul talks about humility and says:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil 2:1-4

In summary Paul says:

  • have the same mind, same love (with one another)
  • do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit
  • in humility count other more significant than yourself
  • look out not for your own interests but others interests

If you read further vs. 5-11 go on to give the example of Christ doing this and being our example to follow.

C.J. Mahaney indicated that if people follow this passage of scripture (vs. 1-11) it will influence in a good way how people in the body of Christ relate to each other. He said that applying these verses would have helped resolve the differences these two women had.  Mahaney also said that when people contemplate Christ’s sacrifice for us it should have a transforming affect.  People will have the mind about what matters the most and will cease their relational conflicts and trust their differences to the Savior.

C.J. Mahaney believed that this is what standing firm is:  Living in harmony with one another.
Consequences Of Not Applying Phil 2:1-11

C.J. Mahaney also talked about what could happen if this isn’t done.  People will be left to themselves and their own thinking

  • Influenced by sinful impulses
  • Not count one another more significant
  • Not look to the interests of others
  • Conflict will continue and potentially escalate.

The Need for Help & Application to His Marriage

It was shared that sometimes people need to help to agree in the Lord just like Paul asked that these 2 women mentioned in 4:1-3 be helped. It is inevitable that there will be times when help is needed. Getting this help will avoid offense, the affect that this disunity will have on the church and the sowing of seeds of suspicion and division.

C.J. talked about his relationship with his wife Carolyn and that sometimes they have needed help in their relationship and the difference this help made. Getting this help revealed in both him and his wife:

  • Evidences of deceit subtly lurking
  • Rivalry
  • Absences of humility
  • Weren’t considering the other more significant
  • Intention wasn’t interests of others
  • Not reflecting on the example of the savior (vs. 6-11)

C.J. also suggested that if you are the one needing to help 2 people that ask them to reflect on Philippians 2: 1-11. Sadly there was no mention of conflicts C.J. had with other leaders and how he sought help and if he ever did get help how this worked out.

Should We Practice What C.J. Teaches But Not What He Does? C.J Mahaney a 21st Century Pharisee?

As I listened to this message there wasn’t much if any that I could take exception to. C.J. basically taught what I believe the bible teaches on this subject. My issue would be that C.J. should listen to and follow his own teaching. Why put this burden on men’s backs and not do practice it yourself?

As I will list later, a lot of C.J.’s actions seem to  follow the consequences of not applying Philippians 2 vs. applying them.  Maybe C.J. Mahaney applied Phillipians 2 to his marriage but sadly it doesn’t appear he has applied this passage to a lot of the conflicts he has had as a church leader.


  • It has been documented that C.J. Mahaney blackmailed Larry Tomczak when Larry chose to leave SGM (called PDI at the time). Would someone who practiced Phil 2:1-11 have done something like this? (SGM likes to use the word “coerce”)
  • It has been indicated that C.J. Mahaney said he would “rather be dead” than do what Larry did when he announced Larry Tomczak leaving Sovereign Grace Ministries  (called PDI at the time). This has later been shown to be a big misrepresentation if not a full lie.
  • C.J. Mahaney hid this blackmailing for over 10 years. It took a lot of prompting by Larry Tomczak to finally get C.J. Mahaney to admit this and reconcile with Larry Tomczak and others in the Tomczak family. Apparently C.J. Mahaney wasn’t willing to get help or apply Phil 2:1-11 in this situation. If C.J. had one would think that this confession and reconciliation would have happened much sooner.
  • Brent Detwiler, a former SGM Leader, put together a compilation of emails from his working with C.J. Mahaney. You can download a copy of these documents here.  These documents show C.J. Mahaney quite lacking in applying Phil 2:1-11 in his actions (though during this period C.J. could write a book on “humility.”
  • Initially when these documents were made public C.J. Mahaney gave a confession. 4 months later at an SGM Pastors conference C.J. Mahaney basically retracted that confession. Another “great” showing of how C.J. practices Phil 2. Also when C.J. was suppose to be reflecting and trying to see his sin, he went back to preaching. It showed just how serious C.J. was on searching his heart.
  • This sin and hypocrisy revealed in the documents Brent complied produced a major fallout between C.J. Mahaney and Josh Harris (Sr. Pastor of Covenant Life Church) and other CLC Leaders. It sure doesn’t look like C.J. sought help with this situation as he says people should do nor does it show C.J. applying Phillipians 2 to this situation.  Apparently C.J. Mahaney’s image and being right was more important.
  • Due to this conflict with CLC pastors C.J. Mahaney arranged to have the headquarters of SGM relocated to Louisville KY. Where was the “priority” of unity or Phil 2 in this move?
  • A number of churches have chosen to leave SGM. A lot of that can be attributed to C.J.’s actions. This again shows how little he practices a “priority” of gospel unity and how important C.J. sees applying Philippians 2.

This is just some of the more egregious examples and a summary. Much more and more details could be shared.

Would someone who truly believes one should practice Phillipians 2 have done these actions?  They sure sound like the consequences of not applying this passage that C.J. taught about.  Sadly these actions show just how little of a priority it is for C.J. Mahaney to have gospel unity.  How can one teach this whose actions have contradicted this same teaching?


It is sad that C.J. Mahaney can teach this but not practice it.   C.J. Mahaney teaching on Philippians 2 would be like Jim Bakker teaching on being good steward of contributions without Bakker admitting his past errors.  Sadly, it appears that C.J. doesn’t see any issues in his past actions or how his actions didn’t follow Phillipians 2.

Sadly this shows that C.J. Mahaney is like the Pharisees that Jesus said:

“They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger?” Mathew 23:4

With being able to show such a knowledge of this passage, apparently C.J. Mahaney resembles someone who is a hearer of the word of God that merely deludes himself (James 1:22).

Also, reading about all of C.J.’s actions that contradict this teaching one wonders how much of a priority it is in his life gospel unity is.  That is it appears C.J. thinks it should be a priority for others but not him.


Starting a New Blog: SGM Analysis

I am starting a new blog.  A few years back I started a blog on Josh Harris’s book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.”  I have posted most of what I have to say on that subject.

I am now going to expand what I write about.  I have found myself adding so many comments to  the SGM Survivors blog and other blogs that I decided to start my own.  As the name implies I see this blog as one that does an analysis of SGM issues.

I have followed the SGM Survivors blog pretty much since it started.  It is baffling to read all that has been reported about SGM.  It has been particularly grieving to see such lack of repentance within SGM even when a series of documents were released that exposed a lot of sin and hypocrisy within SGM.  One would have thought that this exposure would have lead to repentance but sadly it didn’t.

A few years back I was guest posted on the Wartburg Watch where I talk about C.J. Mahaney only selectively quoting Calvin to protect himself.  This post can be found here

I wonder if leadership within SGM is similar to the people that Jesus said:

13 “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  Luke 10:13 NIV

Even when the sin of the group and their top leaders were exposed, rather than confess their sin they chose to deny it.  There were a few exceptions with leadership.

I will see how things go and post them as I have time and as I get various thoughts.  Hopefully one day there will be true repentance within Sovereign Grace Ministries.  I wish I wasn’t as skeptical as I am of repentance happening.