C.J. Mahaney has decided to withdraw from the 2018 T4G conference, a major conference on preaching. He is one of the event’s founders.
In a statement, Mahaney cited the “recent, renewed controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Churches and me individually.”
Last month, Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to go on record in her allegations against convicted USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, referenced Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) and Mahaney. Denhollander, a former SGC supporter, vocally protested the church’s role in restoring Mahaney to leadership.
In 2012, a lawsuit jointly filed by multiple parties accused then-Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and Mahaney of systematically covering up instances of sexual abuse for decades. Several key leaders in the evangelical church came forward in support of SGM and Mahaney following the lawsuit including Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan and Albert Mohler, three of this year’s conference speakers.
Prior to the lawsuit, Mahaney took a leave of absence due to accusations of pride and divisiveness in his leadership style. Mahaney has since permanently withdrawn from an elder role with SGC, but he continues to pastor one of their churches, Sovereign Grace Church in Louisville, Kentucky, also the site of the T4G conference.
In his statement Mahaney said:
“This conference exists to serve pastors with the gospel and exalt the Lord Jesus. I want to do all I can to promote that purpose. Mark, Lig, Al and the other speakers should also be able to devote themselves to that purpose without the distraction of having to defend me or answer questions about Sovereign Grace Churches. They should be preparing their sermons, caring for their families, and serving their unique and strategic ministries.
“I am responsible, where necessary and appropriate, to defend myself and Sovereign Grace, and this I continue to do as I have for the last several years. Sovereign Grace churches are led by godly men and filled with good and godly people who love Christ and his gospel. So that there is no lack of clarity on this: I am innocent of the allegations that have been made against me personally, and the recent, public characterizations of Sovereign Grace as a whole are absolutely false. I categorically reject the suggestion that I have ever conspired to cover up sexual abuse or other wrong-doing. No one should interpret my withdrawal as an acknowledgment of guilt. I withdraw out of care for my friends and for the sake of this conference and the cause of Christ.
“I do not want this wonderful conference to become a context where questions about me or Sovereign Grace distract from the exaltation of Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). I desire the run up to this conference to be filled with nothing but joyful anticipation. I want the experience of the conference to be the deep edification of pastors through preaching, singing, praying, conversation, laughter, food, and buying as many books as one’s credit card allows, all for the glory of God.”
This year’s T4G conference is sold out and will be held April 11-13 in Louisville, Kentucky.