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[Editor’s Note: After his first introduction to the ministries of C.J. Mahaney and Larry Tomczak in 1974 at a Jesus Festival in Erie, PA, Brent Detwiler, personally met Larry in 1978 when as one of 25 pastor interns at Melodyland Christian Center in Anaheim (Ralph Wilkerson) he was fatefully chosen to be Tomczak’s host. He then personally met C.J. Mahaney the first time in August 1979 at a three-week conference at the church co-pastored by Mahaney and Tomczak in Gaithersburg, MD. In 1981, Detwiler asked C.J. and Larry to provide oversight for a church he founded in Indiana. This first church adoption along with another church plant marked the unofficial beginning of what was then called People of Destiny International. In August 1982 Detwiler moved his family to Wheaton, MD to launch the group’s Leadership Training School, later renamed Pastors College, and to join C.J., Larry, and another man as the group’s first apostolic leadership team, marking the official beginning of Sovereign Grace Ministries movement, and a relationship between Detwiler and Mahaney that spanned three decades. A few years before the turn of the millennium, Mahaney gradually began making public a major sea-change in his theology and doctrinal beliefs away from the Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs and practices that had been a part of the theological foundation of SGM from its beginnings and to align more with Evangelical/Reformed Theology doctrines and to forge relationships with prominent leaders of that stream. This seismic shift by Mahaney engendered growing tensions, disagreements, differences, and conflicts within the ranks of the SGM protodenomination, particularly among those who continued to hold to Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs and practices. As the primary teacher of SGM’s curriculum at the Pastors College, Detwiler, was one of the staunchest defenders of same, and continued to hold the line with respect to those beliefs and practices, in particular regarding the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and the typical issues regarding tongues, eventually becoming the de facto lightning-rod for the controversies and conflicts that ensued. Over time, Mahaney adroitly employed his political power as the movement’s founder and senior leader to out-manuever and eventually over-power Detwiler within the organization’s polity, producing a gradual fall from favor among the group’s leadership. In 2008, Detwiler was removed as a teacher at the Pastors College he founded twenty-five years prior. He was disfellowshipped from SGM the next year. In 2010, Detwiler began publishing a series of documents recounting years of attempted appeals to Mahaney and the SGM leadership to consider specific and documented critiques and criticisms of C.J.’s personal spiritual condition, sinful conduct and unbiblical attitudes toward others, his leadership methodologies, and a long record of questionable leadership practices. After first publishing “The Documents” on a document-publishing site, Detwiler later started a blog to store and make publicly accessible the documents, as well as to publish articles regarding these matters and other troubling and troublesome matters that have since continued to emerge regarding Mahaney and SGM, to include civil lawsuits, allegations of coverups of child-molestating by SGM employees and/or volunteer workers and failure to report same to law enforcement. Mahaney continues to deny and deflect the majority of the most significant criticisms, charges of wrong-doing, and any role of participation in any coverups or even knowledge of child-molesters functioning in SGM, and withdrew the original SGM church he founded from SGM and relocated it to Louisville, KY. The Pastors College was forced to close for financial reasons, lack of enrollments, and because an articulation agreement that had existed for many years between it and the Southern Baptist Convention’s primary seminary was cancelled by the seminary. Reportedly, at least 41 churches have withdrawn from SGM over the last few years, and many of its former top leaders, some of whom are Mahaney’s relatives, have disassociated themselves from SGM.]

Mark Driscoll’s “Domineering Leadership Style” Does Not Disqualify Him as a Pastor According to Mars Hill Board of Overseers
By Brent Detwiler

Mark Driscoll is giving up on Mars Hill Church like C.J. Mahaney gave up on Covenant Life Church.  Driscoll he is leaving because the church is “unhealthy for our family-even physically unsafe” and he doesn’t want “aspects of my personality and leadership style” that have been divisive to “detract from our church’s mission.”  “That is why…we step aside from further ministry at the church.” In other words, Driscoll is taking the high road! The church has done him wrong but he has done it right. He is resigning with “profound sadness” not because he should but because he is godly. In his mind, he is putting Mars Hill Church first.

Driscoll is also leaving having never talked to the church board about his decision. “We were surprised to receive his resignation letter.” Mahaney did the same thing. He unilaterally decided to leave Covenant Life Church without ever talking to his fellow pastors. They were shocked and grieved. Driscoll says he sought “godly counsel from men and women across the country” but not from leaders in his church.  Mahaney did the same. They did not follow their own teaching on local church accountability and pursuing counsel from their fellow pastors for a major life decision.

Furthermore, Driscoll is only resigning as the “Vision and Preaching pastor” at Mars Hill Church. He is not stepping aside from further ministry anywhere else. Driscoll believes he has done nothing to merit removal from ministry and is quick to point out in his resignation letter that he is not disqualified according to the four man Board of Overseers.

Though Driscoll acknowledges he is an “imperfect messenger” and “fallen short,” he emphasizes he has come “a long way” and highlights his contrition. He appears to put his sins in the past as though over. “I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering sprit.”

All of this is reminiscence of C.J. Mahaney. He claimed Covenant Life Church was unhealthy and unsafe for his family.  The puppet Board of Directors for Sovereign Grace Ministries declared him fit for ministry even though he split a church, divided a movement and abused many leaders and people. Like Driscoll, Mahaney made much of his meager “confessions” even though he never thought his sins were serious and he never thought they disqualified him in the least bit. He also lied about the real reasons for leaving his home church. That is, he was terribly offended at Joshua Harris, the pastors and the people. He claimed to be moving SGM to Louisville, KY because the cost of living was lower. It was a scandalous lie.

Neither Driscoll nor Mahaney have ever thought their patterns of sin have disqualified them from ministry though they have fired, removed and disqualified scores of men for far less serious transgressions. It doesn’t matter that both have led their respective ministries in a domineering fashion. That is why Acts 29 asked Driscoll to step down and get help. That is why so many pastors and churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries. But in Mars Hill Church and in Sovereign Grace Ministries, you can lord it over the flock and that doesn’t disqualify you from ministry. There is just one problem. The Bible begs to differ!

A pastor MUST be above reproach according to the Bible. When his leadership is characterized by lording, domineering, or heavy handedness, he is reproachable. That is why such men should not be in ministry no matter how gifted, entertaining, or numerically successful. There are 21 qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Only one has to do with gifting – the ability to teach. The other 20 deal with Christian character. They define what it means to live a life above reproach. They go far beyond “immorality, illegality or heresy” in what they demand.

Here is what the Mars Hill Board of Overseers said yesterday.

We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.

Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.

Michael Van Skaik
Larry Osborne
Jon Phelps
Matt Rogers

These men don’t define what they mean by “at times” but they do refer to a “domineering style of leadership.” According to Driscoll’s many critics, his “arrogance…quick temper…harsh speech…and domineering manner” were a consistent pattern of sinful “attitudes and behaviors” and not occasional occurrences. In 2007, C.J. told me there was a pervasive pattern of pride in Mark’s life that he did not see and others were afraid to address because of Mark’s sinful reaction to correction. It was not an “at times” problem. It was an “often times” problem.

Peter the apostle commands pastors to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you…not domineering over those in your charge.” (1 Pet 5:1-3) Domineering the flock is the opposite of shepherding the flock. You can’t have a “domineering style of leadership” and be a biblically approved shepherd.

C.J. resigned. Mark has resigned. But neither man resigned because they felt they needed to resign in light of Scripture. For Driscoll, his sins are in the past. For C.J., his sins were never serious.

The Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It tells us what to believe and how to live. It sets down qualifications for pastors. We defy its authority and disobey its teaching when leaders like Driscoll and Mahaney are permitted to be pastors. They are not above reproach. Far from it.

That’s the point. This kind of hypocrisy is destroying the evangelical church. Christians throughout the nation have seen well known leaders prop up Driscoll and Mahaney for years rather than obey the Word of God. Thesecelebrity leaders have protected and promoted these men when they should have been rebuking and removing these men.

Nothing sows distrust more than hypocrisy. When leaders cover up for leaders they disobey Scripture and destroy trust. When are 1 Timothy 3:1-6 and Titus 1:6-9 going to be obeyed! When will sinning elders be rebuked so other elders fear sinning (1 Tim 5:20)? When will charges against elders be heard without partiality and favoritism (1 Tim 5:21)? When will leaders stop laying hands hastily upon new leaders who are not proven in terms of their character (1 Tim 5:22)?

1 Timothy 3:10 says this about deacons. It is also true for elders. “And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.”

Driscoll and Mahaney should be removed from ministry, and before they are restored to ministry, they must “be tested first” and “prove themselves blameless.” That is the teaching of the Bible. Because it is not obeyed the Church is being harmed by pastors whose “attitudes and behaviors” are proud, deceitful and domineering.

Church members should be able to trust that their pastors love Jesus Christ more than all and will therefore be governed by the teaching of Scripture. When the Board of Overseers for Mars Hill Church says Mark Driscoll is fit for ministry they are not loving Jesus and they are not submitted to the authority of Scripture. The same is true for the Council of Elders in SGM in relation to C.J. Mahaney.###

[Source:; accessed 10-24-2014; republished by permission.]

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