Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Some takes on C.J.

A week or so ago I received Don't Waste Your Sports by C.J. Meheney. This little booklet, expands on his sermon "Don't Waste Your Sports," he delivered several years ago, challenging folks to consider how to truly honor God with sports. I've already discussed and linked to this sermon here.

Then sometime last week, I noticed C.J. Meheney was taking a leave of absence from his position on the board of Sovereign Grace Ministries. He writes on his blog:

Over the last few years some former pastors and leaders in Sovereign Grace have made charges against me and informed me about offenses they have with me as well as other leaders in Sovereign Grace. These charges are serious and they have been very grieving to read. These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.

Here are a few of my takes on C.J.'s leave of absence:

1.) Most of my appreciation of C.J.'s ministry began upon reading The Cross Centered life. This book reminds the Christian that we never outgrow and always need the cross for our justification as well as our sanctification. If you read his entire blog entry, you'll gain a sense (at least from what he's written) that he is owning his sin and seeking reconciliation. If this is true and genuine-and he's given no reason for me to doubt that it is-this is the result of a cross centered life. If the cross has indeed taken away all condemnation of all our sins, we need not be ashamed of our struggles. We can even fearlessly let people in on them. 

John Piper took a leave of absence from Bethlehem Baptist Church. You can read about that here.  I personally connected with Meheney's freedom in Christ to be a little more specific than Piper (though I don't question him for lack of specifics, I'm just noting the differences and which one I more connected with-I respect both men immensely). Freedom to confess your sins to others is evidence of God's grace at work.

2.) As I understand the polity and leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries, it seems a bit weighted to the side of one individual: C.J. Meheney. I cannot escape my Presbyterian bias here. But I must say this. While presbytery often causes much frustration to me at times, it does seem to me the best system of accountability in leadership (not just most biblical) because it limits the power of ONE individual. If Tim Keller stepped out of ministry in the PCA I would be bummed. But since he is but an influential member in our denomination, not the leader on a board, the show would go on more smoothly.

3.) Regardless of what happens with CJ, and even if he didn't repent but went apostate instead, his past work shouldn't be thrown away but upheld and read. I think Paul would have agreed with this. He reminds the Galatians that even if an angel or he or his fellow ministers preached a different gospel, then let them be accursed. So in other words, if Paul or some other Christian evangelist changed the message, don't throw out what he has already preached to them. If Paul or another pastor proved to be a charlatan, still hold on to the gospel. The gospel message is centered on Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, not the character or even the perseverance of the messenger. Messengers may come and go. They may persevere or walk away from the faith. But the message they preached, provided it is grounded in the gospel and applied to life, shouldn't be ignored because of their personal sin or failure to apply what they wrote. 

All of above paragraph is simply didactic, and not prognostication. C.J. may have been running the race in "clean air," ahead of everyone else. But now he'll be back with the pack, and I think this time will be good for him. I'm looking forward to hear what God teaches him during this leave of absence.


D Ridenhour said...

as I have been lurking around on the web, I cannot help but think how tragically public these in-house disagreements are, thanks to our digital age. It would be like having a studio audience in my house, reacting and commenting on every dumb thing I did. There really needs to be some careful thought given by our pastors to the age of the "super" (fill in the blank... blogger, preacher, pastor, teacher, writer, all-star). The whole thing can get a bit wearisome to me.

Geoffsnook said...

Very glad I'm not of the supposed "super" ilk. Glad my mistakes aren't more public than forgetting the tithe on a Sunday worship service like last week!

Thanks for your thoughts brother.

Jeremy Bias said...

Good thoughts Geoff. I, like you, pray that SGM grows during this time of reflection. Lig Duncan (a fellow PCA'er) has some good thoughts about this issue over at the Ref21 blog. As a side note, do you see some weaknesses becoming apparent in the "celebrity pastor" movement that is such a part of the Reformed camps at the moment? My fear is that these types of public airing of sins will become more common, creating issues for those who are more connected to the various ministries and personalites than they are to the local church.

Geoffsnook said...


Thanks for the link head's up with Lig. I'll check it out. And thanks for your bringing up "celebrity pastor" issue. Definitely something to think about.

Sometimes its hard to find a good balance because if we are reading live guys (as opposed to reading CS Lewis, Shaeffer, or Puritans), they do become somewhat of a celebrity.

And many have good things to say and benefit the church as a whole. Yet I've also found just as great a benefit in talking with small time guys like myself in regards to many of the practical workings of the church.

Long answer-yes there is weakness is celebrity pastor movement. Exactly how that plays itself out and what can be done differently is something to work through. I think reading and finding you connect with some of these more "celebrity" pastors is good. Deifying them, making them your example, trying to be them, or blasting others via the cyber world like they do sometimes (and I do have issues with some big name celebrity pastors bashing others via tweets-Steve Brown has some good thoughts about this) is not good.

Don't know if I answered anything there. More of just some thoughts. We can talk more in person bro!