In the NHS the highest paid individuals are the Chief Executive, the Board and the consultants. Why? Because they have to carry the responsibility for the well-being of patients. It's often said that the CEO is the one most likely to lose their job in the NHS.
So I don't have a great amount of pity for C J Mahaney. I suspect he is the highest-paid individual in SGM (and that pay hasn't stopped during his 'leave of absence' - unlike Brent Detweiler who faced bankruptcy when his SGM-Board salary was stopped abruptly). He has massive royalties I am sure from his books - including of course, the tome teaching on "Humility" - irony. He is/was the President and he is responsible for the salary he takes. Don't like the heat C J? Take that youth pastor job you kept saying you wanted so badly.
The pity and heartache I have is for in particular Josh Harris but also for the people in SGM. The pressure that Josh Harris must have been under when this blew - and still is - as the man trained up by C J (and reportedly tipped as C J's successor for head of SGM when he retires at 60 - I wonder if that's still the case). Josh took a very bold stance many people felt - honestly admitting his sermon after this on "The Father's Discipline" - stating that God was "spanking SGM". Huge amounts of people in SGM feel he's right - aside from the SGM Board and C J himself clearly.
So in a transcript I was sent from the last Covenant Life Members Meeting I was staggered - to say the least - to read that the reason that C J is going to his friend Mark Dever's church during this leave, is because of the statements that Josh made apparently putting C J in a difficult position. Poor C J! And even better - C J gets to have an "independent mediator" when this is all over - to patch things up with Josh and the CLC pastors who have so upset him. What?! Did the vast amounts of people (myself included) who got kicked out of our SGM churches get to go to the churches of our friends while we were being excommunicated? Did we get paid-for mediators to patch things up? No! We had to take the first step ourselves and go and meet these pastors to achieve the reconciliation we felt God wanted of us.
I must be honest.
C J seems to me to be angry and upset that he has been confronted by the monster authoritarian system he has created. Even his fans (Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan et al) admit there are "issues" in SGM polity - which Josh Harris is seeking bravely to address. C J admits honestly he is "proud" but yet seems to stop short of the issues that it has caused. The heartache and pain for his church. As I understand it - he is still a member of Covenant Life Church and thus under the elders (including Harris). However the increasing number of members of CLC commenting on the various blogs make it clear - CJ isn't regularly seen at CLC and doesn't participate in church life.
I think we must be honest - and leave aside the discussions of Matthew 18, Brent Detweiler and the documents. Because it is a grey area.
The key issue here for me is the hurting people in SGM looking to their leaders for care. The Board seem ridiculously desperate to protect and validate C J as soon as they can manage without public outrage. The so-called "independent panel" hired and paid seem made up of C J fans. The question has got to be - where is the glory to God in this? What does the world think?More importantly what does God think?
C J - you can't cope with the expectation and pressure? Get out of the firing line. Retire. Resign. Give it to Josh Harris who can admit he's got it wrong and is trying. I think anyone can accept honesty and transparency. What we don't like and don't tolerate is someone who takes a fat salary and should take responsibility whining "like a teenager" (Dave Harvey's term for CJ). It's like my consultant surgeon blaming me for mucking up my treatment and care.
As Harry Truman said - "The buck stops here!". Claim leadership of a denomination? You must take the fall when it goes wrong. You don't get "free passes" in the real world! Bad luck C J - you wanted to be head boss? You got it! And the answer isn't to be found by hiding in the church of your mate.