C. J. Mahaney announced today that he will back out of next monthâs Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference to keep the controversy over Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) away from the event.
âGiven the recent, renewed controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Churches and me individually, I have decided to withdraw from the 2018 T4G conference,â Mahaney wrote.
Over the past several weeks, Rachael Denhollander, the former gymnast whose Larry Nassar testimony went viral, has used her platform to address abuse in the church, particularly years-old allegations of abuse at Covenant Life Church, where Mahaneyâthe former president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM)âhad served as senior pastor.
Though the 2012 case against SGM was dismissed in court, Denhollander has repeatedly challenged the church networkâs claims, most recently in a 7,800-word statement posted on Facebook last Thursday....
Bob Allen wrote: "I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me personally, and the recent, public characterizations of Sovereign Grace as a whole are absolutely false,â Mahaney said. âI categorically reject the suggestion that I have ever conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing.â
Denhollander responded on Facebook that she was âdeeply grievedâ by Mahaneyâs statement, because it does nothing to address lingering concerns never addressed because the lawsuit did not make it to trial.
Elders of SGM churches, [Denhollander] said Feb. 9, âdid, in fact, follow this internal policy and did not report sexual assault allegations, did not warn congregants of known sexual predators, and did not place limitations on known predators to prevent additional access to children.â
Bob Allen wrote: Russell Moore, head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said at a recent conference on sexuality that church leaders who suspect abuse have an obligation both to contact legal authorities and to address it internally through church discipline.
âIf someone comes and says âI have been abused sexuallyâ or âI know someone whoâs been abused sexually,â you have to first of all recognize that there are two authorities at work here, and both of them need to be involved,â Moore said.
Bob Allen wrote: âCaesar has a responsibility to deal with this at the civil level. The church has a responsibility to deal with this at the ecclesial level. You immediately call the police. Even if you donât know whether this is true or not, you donât know whether or not this has actually happened, you call the police and you say, âCaesar has a responsibility, the government has a responsibility, to investigate this.â
âYou also âŠ though, canât simply say, âWell, we have sex abuse happening and thatâs a civil issue so the civil state deals with it.â They do, but you also come in and deal with it in terms of church discipline, which means that youâre saying if this is someone who is sexually predatory in our congregation, we are also going to deal with it at the level of church discipline, and weâre going to deal with this very, very seriously.â