Leaders of the Sovereign Grace Churches network delivered a full-throated defense of their ministerial colleagues against former gymnast and Larry Nassar accuser Rachael Denhollander, who, they argue, has falsely characterized their handling of sexual abuse as “one of the worst, if not the worst, instances of evangelical cover-up.”
“The decisions of Rachael and others to publicly pronounce SGC and its pastors guilty of sexual abuse and conspiracy, on the basis of false allegations and with no direct knowledge of SGC’s history or the facts, have profoundly damaged the reputations and gospel ministries of innocent pastors and churches,” the leaders declared in a statement Tuesday.
Denhollander, 33, who was one of the many sexual abuse victims of Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, alleged that when she advocated for sexual abuse victims at Sovereign Grace, referencing a case dating back to 2012, church leaders felt that her status as a survivor made her biased. In a civil lawsuit, victims alleged that church leaders, including Sovereign Grace founder C. J. Mahaney, “conspired and continue to conspire” to “permit sexual deviants to have unfettered access to children for purposes of predation and to obstruct justice by covering up ongoing past predation.”
The former gymnast stood by her characterization of the church network after Mark Prater, executive director of Sovereign Grace, dismissed it as misguided. Sovereign Grace leaders said they were forced to share the more detailed defense of their colleagues and the organization as a result of the insistence of Denhollander and other sexual abuse victim advocates.
“The comparisons drawn between SGC and horrific, widespread episodes of abuse — about which the facts are already publicly established — are irresponsible. The pastors and leaders of SGC are believers in Jesus Christ, and our churches are led by pastors who fear God with the sobering reality that we will give an account for our ministry (Hebrews 13:17). We are also unceasingly aware that our faith is rooted in the absolute truths of God’s Word. To all Christians, truth matters, and zeal without knowledge leads to error and strife,” they stated.
The church leaders also dismissed a call by Denhollander to allow Sovereign Grace Churches to be independently investigated by GRACE, alleging that the organization’s leader, Boz Tchividjian, is biased against the network.
“Rachael calls for a ‘fair, independent’ investigation into SGC led by GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment) because of the organization’s supposed neutrality. However, Boz Tchividjian, the leader of GRACE, has on multiple occasions written and spoken publicly in ways that suggest he has already prejudged the case against SGC,” the leaders said.
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Source: Christian Post