Thursday, April 14, 2016

#TGC16 and Soveriegn Grace: Break the Story. Break the Silence.
I'm watching the film Spotlight, and I stopped it because my husband came home from work. I'll finish watching it in a bit. I needed to express this much before I do.

I only read the first line of Suzanne Titkemeyer's review of the film on No Longer Quivering a number of months ago, and I decided to wait until I was in a better place before I watched it for myself. And I didn't want to read her review until I'd seen it.

I've burst into tears three times thus far, and I'm about three quarters of the way through it. I remembered the review written by a friend with whom I have wept about such things, for we hear about so many tragic things that have taken place because of bad religion, spiritual abuse, misguided theology, and outright physical harm that people have suffered in the Name of Christ. I was so affected that I felt like I needed comfort, and I almost phoned her. My first set of tears came at the same place in the film as hers did, and there, I stopped reading her review until after I've seen the film in it's entirety and perhaps after I watch it a second time. My tears and hers first came at the the point at which a survivor who was molested by a priest says, "They say it’s just physical abuse but it’s more than that, this was spiritual abuse. You know why I went along with everything? Because priests, are supposed to be the good guys."

I personally can't take a lot of reading concerning child abuse. I feel too much too deeply to make a regular diet of it. It isn't because I haven't had much healing from my own pain. I can't indulge too often because of the injustice after injustice and revictimization after revictimization that I know that survivors and their parents face and grieve over and over and over again. I know how my own misfortunes have hurt me and the high price I still pay in my relationships and in my physical body for that suffering. And I get a fairly regular diet of it through people who contact me to listen to their histories and support them as they figure out how to move forward after their own painful experiences.

The Tragic Story of the Lambs of Sovereign Grace

Today, I can only think of those who suffered under the "alleged" sex scandal coverups and the physical abuse and the hiding and lying and shaming of parents and children that CJ Mahaney oversaw under the banner of Sovereign Grace Ministries (which was once known as People of Destiny). I think of the “mind job” that he did on so many parents who went to him for compassion and help, only to be thrown away.

And today, I also think of Al Mohler who was reported to have joked glibly about CJ as he introduced him at The Gospel Coalition conference this week. In so doing, he mocks the history, the immeasurable pain, and the ongoing collateral damage of the great harm that took place under CJ's watch as shepherd. As my friend Rafael put it, the man who has been called "one of America's most influential evangelicals" and the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S." has proven himself to be a “hireling.”

(The term “hireling” refers to a passage in the New Testament that likens ministers to those who care for sheep. Responsible and caring shepherds love and care for their animals, especially the lambs. Hirelings are those who seem only motivated by what they're paid as they neglect the responsibilities that they have in their work and the impact that their performance has on others who are affected by it.) Al Molher has behaved like a hireling for quite a long time concerning this issue.

When introducing CJ Mahaney at a huge event this week which is reported to have drawn ten thousand attendees, Al Mohler responded to the decades long sex scandal and abuse controversy with a mocking and glib statement. Baptist News Global reports:
Mohler referred obliquely to the pushback in his introduction of Mahaney, getting laughs with the line: “I told C.J. that in getting ready to introduce him I decided I would Google to see if there was anything on the Internet about him.”
Feigning surprise, Mohler said he learned that his longtime friend and colleague cheers for the Washington Redskins and the Washington Nationals and against the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees and Duke basketball.

That is a section that is entirely missing from any biographical material on me, but I now know it to be true because I read it about C.J.” Mohler said.
Well, the world now certainly knows quite a bit more about Mohler's character and his lack of respect, regard, empathy and concern for hundreds of abused children and their parents who were shamed into “keeping matters in the church” when their children were violated. Regardless of what CJ may admit to his friends, one would think that such a reigning intellectual who is among the most influential in CJ's circle would have set a much better precedent and standard for other Christians.


I've written recently in blog posts about my grief over some cruel lies that some people have claimed about me, and I found myself quite wounded by them. When discussing it with a dear Christian friend and mentor, I said that I only stepped forward publicly to address the tragedy of spiritual abuse in Christian churches because no one else at the time would do so. As all Christians are taught, I said that I believe that I will have to look at Jesus Himself, face to face. I don't care so much about hearing “well done” from Him, because I don't always get things right. I make mistakes, and I grieve that some of them have hurt people. But I am more sickened and grieved at the thought of hearing the Lover of my Soul and my Deliverer who sacrificed Himself for me say, “I was in prison, and you didn't visit me. I was naked and wounded and alone, and you did nothing, even though you knew that you had the ability and the resources to help and comfort me.”

I am struck today by the encouragement of the response of my mentor friend who said so truly and with such love, Cindy, know that they [who have falsely accused me] will have to face Him, too.” Today as I watch Spotlight which depicts the extensive cover up of sex abuse of young boys by priests in the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, I cannot help but think of Al Mohler and what he has said and done this week in particular.

The people who lied about me aren't Christians that I'm aware, so I some respects, my friend's statement doesn't grieve my heart as deeply as it might. I find comfort in it as a matter of justice, not so much as a hope for reconciliation with them and resolution of the conflict. That I find far more hurtful than the lies or whatever consequences that they might bring for me and for them.

But the impact of that statement proves altogether different for Al Mohler. If anything about his public profession of faith and his position and his life's work is true at all, He also believes that He will one day look into the eyes of Jesus, too. If he doesn't change how he's responded to the suffering of so many little ones under the watch of his friend CJ Mahaney, I truly grieve in fear for the fate that he will face. Is he so glib and callous that he truly believes that he can rationalize and justify his words and deeds as he looks into the eyes of the One whom he has pierced? I don't understand how he possibly could.

Trash and Millstones 
Jesus said that it is better for a person to have a millstone hung around their neck and be cast into the deepest sea than it will be on the day of reckoning for those who have wounded any of God's little ones. Why do these men disregard that and harden their consciences even more than they already seem to be when faced with the reality of these many tragedies suffered by children and their much shamed and bullied parents? I can understand the political difficulties and the way that a public statement galvanizes a public figure's stance which makes it hard to change their position on a matter. What I cannot understand is the utter disregard for children – the small children who were molested and thrown away – people that I've known and met and wept with – that these esteemed men and their thousands of sycophants show and continue to show for them.

The Gospel of Matthew says that Jesus looked out on the crowd of people and was moved with compassion for them because they were harassed and scattered and like sheep without a shepherd. The word that is translated from the Revised Standard Version (Al Molher approved) as “scattered” is used to describe something cast down and thrown away and can be used to describe how one throws away a piece of trash. Is this honestly how CJ Mahaney and Al Mohler and the rest of those men participating with them want to be remembered when the wounded lambs of Sovereign Grace Ministries come to mind? But is that not the very thing that they have done.

I don't want one single soul to ever hear Jesus say to them, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” If I were God, I would make a way for all to come to know Him and love Him so that not one soul would ever perish. I would see to it that all would live in eternal joy. (We can all be glad that I'm not God and that He's not me.) Yet, I want this for everyone because I want to share the bountiful love and goodness that I have been given, and my heart aches for it. And it does so because I believe in that Jesus who sees the broken and wounded and loves the little ones that so many that claim Him have thrown away. Know that He is moved with compassion and endured all pain and hardship in love for all of those who others discarded.

The world – those who don't profess Christ or believe in any sort of god at all – even they are moved with compassion for the suffering of children and those whom others have thrown away. Frankly, they don't understand any of this either, and such matters and disregard for women and children and their suffering move them with compassion far more than we have seen in many Christian leaders. And I am grateful for their compassion and their care, and love them for it. But it grieves me that they often put too many Christians to shame. And it also grieves me, for it doesn't bode well for cause of Christianity, either.

How ironic that Mahaney stated that he will be preaching (or whatever it is he does) about the suffering of Job at the conference this week. I would say that he's certainly an expert in how to act like one of Job's friends. He's a well oiled machine with a veritable village with lots of practice.