November 23, 2011 by
As you may have noticed, we recently took C.J.'s initial confession of sin to Covenant Life Church (along with the comments) off of our website, as well as the confession on his blog. I know that this could give the impression that Sovereign Grace Ministries is somehow trying to hide information or cover up sin.
I understand those questions. Let me try to explain to you my thinking behind this decision.
After the Pastors Conference, I asked the staff to pull C.J.’s confessions off the blog. Here’s why. Since our meetings with Ambassadors of Reconciliation in July and including their written report to us in August, they have been illustrating to us deficiencies they believe we have in our practice of confession and in how we extend forgiveness to people. One of the main application points of this is that when a Christian asks for forgiveness, it should always be answered with a statement of Christ’s forgiveness and, where possible, the listener’s forgiveness. They hit these points again at our Pastors Conference in both contexts where they taught.
I was convicted on this point by what they shared several months ago, but I’ve also been increasingly bothered by the implication of this on how we published C.J.’s confessions. In short, to leave a statement online where C.J. asks for forgiveness, which is then followed by dozens of comments expressing neither the forgiveness of God or others, well, it began to seem wrong to me.
If God responds to our sins by covering them (Rom 4: 7; 1 John 1: 9) and relating to us like they never happened (Psalm 103: 12; Is 1: 18), who was I to perpetuate a man’s sin online as if it isn’t forgiven? It may be internet protocol to leave things online forever, but I believe we need to be led by the Bible here. And we can’t do that selectively for the sake of appearances. Confessions will not be left up on SGM websites, period. I regret we left them up as long as we did and that’s my bad.
Now, this doesn't mean that we aren't closely examining the charges brought against C.J. or the sins to which he has confessed. In fact, we have created several panels for that sole purpose. We aren't simply dismissing the issues. As AOR said in their report, “While God’s forgiveness assures us that the consequence of eternal death has been paid in full, such proclamation does not necessarily remove earthly consequences.” But even as we examine these charges, we need to let the free forgiveness of the gospel ring. The gospel is what breathes life into us, and I want it to permeate this entire process.