Guest / Limited Access /

No sexual misconduct. No financial impropriety. No problem, right?

Not so fast.

For the second time in the last year and a half, a prominent evangelical leader has taken a highly publicized leave of absence while confessing to the sin of pride and character flaws.

C. J. Mahaney, president of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), a national network of nearly 100 church plants, cited "various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment and hypocrisy" in a July 6 statement explaining his indefinite leave.

In March 2010, Bethlehem Baptist Church pastor John Piper embarked on an eight-month leave, saying his soul, marriage, family, and ministry pattern needed "a reality check from the Holy Spirit."

"My sense is that many of the celebrity religious leaders are well aware of and intentionally attempt to guard themselves against sexual and financial temptations," said Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches. "But they forget that pride comes before a fall."

In the case of a pastor such as Mahaney, a leader in a neo-Reformed movement, such a downfall might be even more probable, Thumma said.

"I could imagine neo-Reformed preachers and theologians emphasizing a theology that stresses election and predestination and implies a 'seriousness' about rigorous theological contemplation, leading to an attitude of religious superiority that would suppress abuse of sex and money but compound a sense of pride and elitism," Thumma said. "However, it is to the credit of C. J., John Piper, and others to recognize this and remove themselves—or be willing to be removed—for a time of reflection and spiritual introspection." ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueHow Much Attention Does Luther Really Deserve?
Subscriber Access Only How Much Attention Does Luther Really Deserve?
How to celebrate one of history’s biggest celebrities.
RecommendedWhat Does it Mean to Have an Abundant Life? Some Thoughts on Prosperity
What Does it Mean to Have an Abundant Life? Some Thoughts on Prosperity
We talk about "abundant life" in our churches regularly. What does it actually mean?
Trending‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
Islamic extremism now has a rival, according to 2017 World Watch List.
Editor's PickLatasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
Latasha Morrison: The Church Is the ‘Only Place Equipped to Do Racial Reconciliation Well’
The founder of Be the Bridge reveals her vision for solving America's race problem.
Christianity Today
Sex, Money ... Pride? Why Pastors Are Stepping Down
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

July 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.