C.J. MAHANEY & SOVEREIGN GRACE CHURCH BRING HISTORY, CONTROVERSY TO NEW LOUISVILLE LAUNCH

I do what I can here at Apprising Ministries to cover The Falling Away Of The Evangelical Church, which is the article that essentially launched me among those who are also pioneering this still developing work of online apologetics and discernment ministry.

Despite the whining of our critics, this is a mission field the Lord has raised up for the visible church. Being only one man, and with a dwindling financial base, there’s only so much I can do and many important issues still fall through the cracks. I would appreciate your prayer for the toll this line of work takes.

Still, we are having an effect as you can see from Top 200 Church Blogs a couple months back at Church Relevance. There’s no affiliation whatever between us and yet, the Lord be praised, of the many blogs on the Net that deal with the church Apprising Ministries was ranked #63; above both Perry Noble and Emergent Village:


(source)

One issue that I was not able to cover was the controversy surrounding C.J. Mahaney,1 president of his Sovereign Grace Ministries.2 Not having time to look into it, I was in contact with some “names” well known within the Christian blogosphere who said they were aware of it and found it not worth covering.

Well, as the Lord would will, a few days ago Peter Smith of the Courier-Journal in Louisville would inform us Sovereign Grace Church brings history, controversy to new Louisville launch as a “New Calvinist church moves headquarters from Maryland to Louisville.” Smith tells us:

Greeters beamed with smiles, children handed out visitor cards and parents lined up to register for child care. After more than 20 minutes of opening worship led by a band with electric guitar and keyboards, the pastor took to the podium.

“And so Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville begins,” said C.J. Mahaney, 59. “… We are just a group of primarily old guys attempting to church-plant one more time before we die in order to serve the next generation with the gospel.”

As understated as that sounds, rarely does a new congregation bring as much history — and controversy — as Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, which began worshiping Sunday at Christian Academy’s English Station campus in eastern Jefferson County.

The launch represents not just another new church but the exodus of leaders of an entire denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries, to Louisville.

The denomination — which includes more than 90 churches with about 28,000 members worldwide — has already seen two congregations split off amid controversies. And by all accounts, more churches may leave if leaders decide to assert more central authority after an ongoing review of the denomination’s form of government.

Former members have told of pastors and small-group leaders probing into members’ personal lives and shaming them for real or perceived sins — sometimes ostracizing members who were deemed unrepentant, wounding them spiritually and cutting off close friendships.

Mahaney himself, a co-founder and longtime president of Sovereign Grace, has been accused of pride, dictatorial conduct and a lack of accountability. He took leave from his post last year amid one controversy, but internal church reviews found him fit for ministry and returned him to the presidency.

In Mahaney’s inaugural sermon in Louisville, he alluded to the tumult, saying he wanted the church to have a quiet launch. But “if God allows opposition in some form, criticism in some form, slander in some form,” it would be worth it if “there are lives transformed by the gospel.” (source)

Of course there’s also a chance that “if God allows opposition in some form, criticism in some form,” and bringing truth to light in some form, it could be because He wants to expose abusive leadership within local churches and heavy-handed shepherding denominations who attempt to hide behind influential friends.

I would say, time will tell just what Jesus’ plans are in matters such as these…

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/about-us/leadership/cj-mahaney.aspx, accessed 10/8/12.
  2. http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org, accessed 10/8/12.