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August 17, 2011

These have been difficult days for C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). On July 7, in the midst of what has become an increasingly public controversy, Mahaney announced that he would take a leave of absence from SGM. He did this so the ministry’s board can evaluate charges that have been brought against him and so he can examine his own heart and seek reconciliation with people he has wronged. Joshua Harris has since resigned from the SGM board due to disagreements with the board’s handling of the situation; C.J. Mahaney’s two sons-in-law have resigned as pastors at Covenant Life Church (CLC) due to disagreements with CLC’s handling of it.

This leave of absence, and all that followed it, came just as a series of documents were made public via the Internet. These documents, which were compiled by a former SGM pastor and board member named Brent Detwiler, have been styled a “Sovereign Grace wikileak.” In exhaustive detail amounting to some 600 pages, they describe Detwiler’s long list of grievances against Mahaney, sharing correspondence between SGM board members, emails, minutes from meetings, and summaries of conversation. [Note: though Detwiler did not post these documents publicly, he did send them to a very long list of people which essentially guaranteed that they would become public] Many other issues have been made public by a handful of blogs dedicated to exposing what they consider systemic issues within SGM.

It was almost 6 weeks ago that this information came to light. Beyond a brief mention in an interview, this is the first I’ve written about it, despite being rebuked by a handful of bloggers and receiving many email requests for comment. I guess this is the kind of situation I typically comment on since, in some ways, that’s what I do on this blog: I try to write about what is of interest to Christians in this little slice of the Christian world. Yet I have hesitated, not because I am in any way formally connected to SGM or CLC and not because I have anything to lose. Rather, my hesitation has largely centered around the way all of this information came to light. I have wanted to be very careful to avoid gossip or speculation and I’ve wanted to avoid drawing attention to information that was never meant to be made public.