Injustice and Empathy

Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor have posted a very good statement about the Sovereign Grace lawsuit here. I appreciated it very much.

The issue — among thoughtful Christians — should never be whether or not justice should be done. That should be a given. What should we seek out, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God? (Micah 6:8)

The issue is that we do not know what the just response is until after a fair and just trial. Just sentences do not fall out of the sky — they proceed from just trials. And in order to have a just trial, it must be managed and conducted by just men, men who hate bribes, men who have a backbone, men who know the law.

If a man is accused of child molestation, a horrendous crime, and charges are made and the evidence is being gathered, then patience is absolutely necessary. If a judge is ruled by the spirit of Prov. 18:17, and he is proceeding with all deliberation, and then he finds himself accused of covering up misdeeds, or enabling such crimes, or being soft on molestation, simply because he did not move straight to the sentencing, then we know that the spirit of injustice is on the loose.
In the case of this statement, certain men who had absolutely nothing to do with the original situation were being attacked simply because they were silent, because they were not speaking out. Spoken out about what? About sexual crimes or about false accusations? When you speak out, shouldn’t you have something to say?

When Christian leaders were asked to speak out about Potiphar’s wife’s troubling accusations against Joseph, what should they have said? When they were asked to speak out about the rape of Tamar, what should they have said?

In Scripture, perjury could be a capital offense, if that perjury were committed in a capital case. When a man’s life is on the line, to be a false witness at his trial was to put your own life on the line (Deut. 19:16-19). That is what justice is like. However bad sexual abuse of children is (really evil), we must remember that false accusations of such behavior are every bit as bad.

From this we may gather that because the accusations in the Sovereign Grace case are really bad that something awful has been done. Either some children had to go through some hellish lies about Christ and the church, or Christ and the church are having some hellish lies told about them. But until after a fair trial has been conducted, we don’t know who the liar is. And we shouldn’t be called upon to act as though we do “in the meantime.”

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Chad
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Chad

Pastor Wilson, As usual, these are good, encouraging, Biblical thoughts. Further question: what is the responsibility of the Church (including church leaders) in cases like this where the state says, “We will not conduct a fair trial because the statute of limitations has expired.” In that case, it is entirely possible that “some children had to go through some hellish lies about Christ and the church” and yet nothing is done – at least not until the King comes and sets everything to rights. Does the Church have a responsibility to pursue that any further? If so, what would that… Read more »

Dave Cooper
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Dave Cooper

Thanks for the word of caution Doug. It seems like people are quick to assume guilt and get worked up in a “mob” mentality around this. It’s also disappointing to see folks lik Boz, from GRACE caught up in it.

I think another good question to ask is “how would you want people to respond if the accusations where against you?”

Jim
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Jim

There are some other issues here. I also think it is wrong for these pastors who are in different cities to use their statement to endorse CJ Mahaney before all the evidence is in. Why do Carson, DeYoung and Taylor take the time to talk about CJs fruitfulness in this context? It seems very political. CJ has had to step down from ministry and there are many who formerly walked with him who do not trust his ministry and his movement has been split. We are not privy to all the evidence here either but it appears sides are being… Read more »

Jim
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Jim

Doug, Thank you for the thoughtful response. Agree sheep are responsible as well. I’ve had to ask myself why I placed myself in a toxic situation and I bear a primary responsibility. However, the lack of guidance and admonition for those at the top is appalling and we do have faulty systems within the Reformed world to address it. For instance, some of the these guys have a history of raising children who have never been nurtured in the faith or fall away and they get rationalizations from their fellow celebrity pastors. The guy is such a great teacher, in… Read more »

Jim
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Jim

Still must disagree that this is a “very good statement.” The facts are not out yet and they are siding with SGM. This statement resembles one written by very good defense attorneys.

Alonzo "Zo" Thomas
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Alonzo "Zo" Thomas

They do despise C.J., not really sure why. But the “rope committee” has been meeting regularly hoping to bypass the legal system. They’ve been afraid the legal system might toss the case out. I really do think a lot of the blog commentors will be happy with nothing less that C.J. doing the “perp walk.”

Michael Brock
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Michael Brock

Jim – why were you not in church this morning?

Jim
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Jim

Marshall, I attend church at 5pm. Attend every Sunday and I’m a member of a Reformed church. 5pm on Sunday is our only Sunday service and we rent from a church which meets Sunday morning. We are a small church plant. Thank you for asking. Zo, that is not a defense at all. What if there has been years of systematic abuse of children and a subsequent coverup? No one is saying CJ is a “perp” but there are accusations of a coverup. I would like to see him step down in humility but not based on these things that… Read more »

Luke Nieuwsma
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Luke Nieuwsma

Jim, I’ve seen you make a lot of reasonable points about the danger of ministry without any sort of accountability mechanism, but I haven’t seen you rely the Scriptures to back up your claim that CJM should not be supported by these other conference ministers. Have those people who felt wronged by CJ actually told him to his face that he was doing so? Matthew 18 gives us the proper steps to take. First, confront the brother in sin. Second, go with two witnesses, if he won’t hear you. Third, get the rest of the church involved. And then (I… Read more »

David Moody
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David Moody

Paul Washer speaks of persecution here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eZe0CLILzc

It is fitting. When Christians are persecuted, they are persecuted as “enemies of the state, child molesters, bigots, as narrow-minded stupid people who can contribute nothing to society…. This is no game.” I don’t believe these lies for one minute.

Alonzo "Zo" Thomas
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Alonzo "Zo" Thomas

“Jim,” did C.J. do you harm? If so, a) I’m really sorry and b) how did he hurt you? Thankx in advance Bro.

Jim
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Jim

Zo, no, I have not been personally hurt by CJ. I’ve had occasion to interact with him, talked to him at conferences, and played basketball with him years ago. He probably doesn’t remember me in the least. However, what is going on with SGM is a very typical pattern with independent churches/movements associated with the Shepherding movement begun in the 70s in Charismatic circles by Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Ern Baxter and one other guy I forgot. If folks care about the sheep who have been hurt, take a look at the toxicity of this movement. They ruled… Read more »

Jim
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Jim

Doug, I do agree that followers do bear responsibility for subjecting themselves to bad polity but the “greater judgement” falls to the leaders. They bear a huge responsibility as well. Also, the presumption of innocence is primarily for the legal realm. AG Holder and President Obama I believer are guilty of coverups and obfuscation but they will probably be only tried in the court of public opinion. There are in “limbo” for those who have not made up their minds. Are they innocent until they are impeached and removed and therefore should we publish statements testifying to their character and… Read more »

Jonathan
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Jonathan

I do find it odd that certain figures are innocent until proven guilty, and other are assumed guilty before facts have even come out, much less a trial. I have no doubt that there’s an appropriate bit of rhetoric that will make it all consistent to those who are swayed by such things.

Nick
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Nick

Well, the comments here against SGM remind me about what I’ve read in the last few years of this controversy. Perhaps Jim does not agree with the blogger that said “I hope [this lawsuit] ruins the entire organization [of SGM] “, as quoted by TGC, but it would be good if he distanced himself from that. Because to me a lot of what I have read implicitly supports that attitude. I am trying to be charitable, but I don’t know what else to conclude from the comments. Could something bad had occurred? Yes. Did SGM try to address their polity… Read more »

Robert Peters
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Robert Peters

Pastor Wilson, I appreciate your work and your stand. I’m a law student at Liberty University (Dean’s List, if it lends me any credibility or lends you any reason to read this), and I’m disappointed in the statement on the Sovereign Grace lawsuit. There are two things I think one should look at prior to coming out with this statement. The first is the complaint (http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/files/second-amended.pdf), the second is Boz Tchividjian’s reaction (http://netgrace.org/where-are-the-voices-the-continued-culture-of-silence-and-protection-in-american-evangelicalism/). Tchividjian, incidentally, is no stranger to child abuse within the Christian environment and is perhaps the most qualified to discuss it, having lead on this issue through… Read more »

Angelia D.
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Angelia D.

And here you have it, folks. A statement of support for another statement of support for a man using a statute of limitations to avoid accountability for the coverup of sex abuse.

Nell Parker
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Nell Parker

Nick
Just so you know, that quote was written by a girl who was allegedly raped at the age of 13 at an SGM event. It does add some context.

Also, if one is innocent until proven guilty, would you let Casey Anthony babysit your grandkids?

Nick
Guest
Nick

Nell, That girl, if truthful, does have an existential excuse for the way she feels. My comments were not directed at her in particular, but rather at the vast majority of people that write as if their only purpose in life was to demonize SGM. Hopefully you are not naive enough to think that everyone that criticizes SGM is a victim of sexual abuse. The vast majority of criticisms against SGM in the last few years have nothing to do with the alleged sexual abuse stories, but with “spiritual” abuse related to church polity, and the like. As for the… Read more »

Nell Parker
Guest
Nell Parker

Caylee Anthony died in 2008. Her mother was found innocent. I am confused by your response.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Caylee_Anthony

Nick
Guest
Nick

Nell,

All I was trying to say is that the people from SGM that are being accused of either sexual abuse, or coverup, are either: no longer there, or no longer in leadership positions. I was talking about SGM as a whole, and using “Casey Anthony” as a placeholder for those accused at SGM, following up on your analogy.

Of course, your analogy could still apply to those people, even if they aren’t at SGM. But you were replying to my comments, and I was talking about SGM as a whole. Sorry for the confusion.