I think the days ahead are going to require more discernment as it relates to the identification of slander and the influence of slander in our churches. I think the days ahead are going to require courage on the part of pastors and when necessary publicly identify those who are divisive
Like their enthusiastic use of the word "excommunication", I think we MUST persist in calling such leaders to account for their use of the word "slander". These words are significant because they give power to the leaders to discipline the SGM members and "publicly identify" (name and shame" anyone who may express disagreement with the leaders! This is simply wrong!
What does the word "slander" mean? Here are a few dictionary definitions;
" ... is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. This can be also any disparaging statement made by one person about another, which is communicated or published. It is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed".
Key words; "implied to be factual". And "usually a requirement that this claim be false".
"In common law jurisdictions, slander refers to a malicious, false, not specific enough to verify and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images".
Publicly stated. And false. And often; "Not specific enough to verify". The Brent Detweiler documents have been MORE than specific. In the case of Brent Detweiler vs C J Mahaney - he has repeatedly pleaded with the SGM Board to PROVE that his claims are false. They haven't done so. Furthermore if there was ANY suggestion that Brent's claims were false - do the SGM Board not have enough finances behind them to pursue a "cease and desist" claim through the courts - which there is also no hint of them doing so?
Brent posted some email exchanges with the leadership of Crossway. Apparently they are STILL resolute on "excommunicating him" - as per instructions by C J Mahaney. He mailed them and pleaded with them to reconsider. But in true SGM resolve - Mickey Connolly (for more on him - see his interview with C J Mahaney and his fawning over Mahaney's "humble" example) emailed back and said;
We have heard and considered your appeal but continue to believe we stand on firm biblical ground to proceed".
This so reminded me of the absolute no budging attitude of the SGM leaders in my case. It scared me silly how utterly inflexible they are. Where is the attitude that Paul the apostle COMMANDS in Galatians;
"He who is sin - such a one should be restored gently".
Gentle? No attitude can be further from what I see in some of SGM. And what I find even more hypocritical is that Mickey Connolly was the selected SGM Board Member to introduce the Ambassadors of Reconciliation seminar at the conference.
What occurs to me is this - what do non-Christians think of this behaviour? What non-Christians in their right minds are going to what to join a church under leadership like Mickey Connolly or C J Mahaney - knowing that any hint of divisiveness and they could be excommunicated and have their lives ruined at the whim of a pastor? Amusingly enough who describe themselves as a church "enjoying His grace". What grace?!
I find it even more incredible I believed the SGM Board member in the UK who assured me that the "legalistic authoritarian" men had left SGM with Brent Detweiler and I believed the flagship church in the UK was truly one of grace and compassion and openness.
I still believe passionately in His Church - because He said He would build His church and the gates of hell would not stand against it! But I am struggling to keep believing in the future of SGM.