A preacher under scrutiny for an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse received a show of support on Sunday from John Piper, a popular Calvinist author and speaker.
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One leading voice in a popular resurgence of Calvinism lent support to another Feb. 17 by showing up in the pulpit of a pastor accused in a lawsuit of covering up sexual abuse and facing leadership challenges in an eroding church-planting network that he leads.
John Piper, founder of Desiring God Ministries and former longtime pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, was one of 77 evangelical leaders addressed in a Feb. 6 open letter voicing concern about a class-action lawsuit in Maryland accusing Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C.J. Mahaney of failing to report allegations of sexual molestation to police, counseling accused pedophiles on how to avoid arrest and forcing child victims to meet with and "forgive" their abusers.
In Louisville, Ky., for a Feb. 15-16 collegiate conference on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Piper stayed over to preach Sunday at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, a church plant started by Mahaney after Sovereign Grace Ministries moved its headquarters last year to Louisville from Maryland, in part to strengthen ties to Southern Seminary.
"I chose to be here," Piper said at the beginning of an hour-long sermon webcast. "Nobody forced me."
Alluding to Mahaney, who was off-camera and moments earlier introduced the morning's preacher, Piper quipped: "He's a pretty persuasive guy, but I really, really wanted to be here, and therefore the opportunity arose and I snatched it, and I'm thankful for it."
Piper said he is excited about Mahaney's church plant and supports Sovereign Grace and "what God is doing in it across the country and around the world." But he said his "most emotionally significant" reason to be there was his personal bond with Mahaney.
"He is my friend," Piper said. "He has meant a lot to me over the years, both at the encouragement level of preaching and professional life -- though nobody in ministry is a professional -- but even more at the personal, family level of caring."
"So it's real easy for me to stand here and be with you," Piper said. "It's what I want to do."
Piper made no direct mention of a lawsuit filed last October in Montgomery County, Maryland, that accuses Mahaney and other Sovereign Grace leaders of covering up a "pedophilia ring" for decades and putting concern for the church's reputation ahead of children's safety.
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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press