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.
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.