So Bruxy Cavey has resigned after it was found out that eleven years ago he had an extramarital sexual relationship with a much younger congregant (see her statement here) that lasted for “a number of years” (as explained by The Meeting House Board of Overseers). In this article I will offer some of my own thoughts on the matter based on my history with Cavey, The Meeting House, and my involvement in the controversy surrounding his teaching that occurred from 2017 to 2019. Hopefully it will help others in processing what has happened and bring some biblical clarity.
Also, a disclaimer — All of Cavey’s media that was produced and posted by TMH has been scrubbed from the internet, so I am not able to link directly to those primary sources unless I have reposted them.
What I rejoice in, and what I don’t
From the time I started researching Cavey’s teaching back in 2017 I have prayed that he would repent of his false teaching, or that God would destroy his influence and ministry. So I see these recent events as an answer to prayer in that regard. I do rejoice that Cavey has been removed from ministry, that he’s been widely discredited, and that a lot of his material has been removed from the internet and print media. I see the Lord’s hand in that, and I see it as an answer to prayer.
But that is where my rejoicing ends. I do not rejoice that Cavey fell the way he did. I do not rejoice that he did what he did, nor do I rejoice in the wake of destruction he has left affecting his accuser, his wife, children, the rest of his family, his congregants, etc. I fear his actions may result in shipwrecked faith for some — I do not rejoice in that. I sincerely grieve for those affected by Cavey’s gross sin. I honestly wish he had never done what he did.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.Proverbs 24:17,18 ESV
I do feel a sense of vindication. Though my previous criticisms of Cavey were of his teaching and not primarily his behaviour, the two are inextricably linked. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. As Wyatt Graham explains in this article, false teaching and carnal behaviour go hand-in-hand biblically. They come from the same place — an unregenerate heart. Quite often false teaching is designed to cover and/or justify personal sin. Scripture is clear that sin affects the whole person — including their motivations and reasoning faculties.
Take for example Cavey’s teaching that Jesus changed or abrogated the law of God. It’s obvious that one might be tempted to read such a thing into Scripture when he knows he is guilty of breaking God’s law and is too cowardly to confess. Scripture itself warns that sin IS lawlessness, so there is a direct connection between living a life in sin and rejecting the law of God (1 John 3:4). Or how about Cavey’s “Third Way” approach to sexual immorality which greatly diminishes the seriousness with which Scripture addresses sexual sin? Might a guilty Cavey, with unrepentant adultery and possibly other sexual sin on his conscience, have had reason to desire that sexual sin be minimized in importance? Maybe Cavey denied God’s immutability because he wanted God’s standards for sexual ethics as a husband and minister to bend to his proclivities or unconfessed sin. Consider Cavey’s denial that God’s Holiness requires a penal substitute to atone for our sin —he “just forgives”— and denial that Scripture is authoritative. It makes sense that such teaching reflects the same heart of a man who also refused to confess his sin for 11 years, lied to his family and church, and continued pastoring, teaching, travelling, podcasting and enjoying the spot light despite the disqualifying nature of his sin.
Overall, Cavey’s teaching had a consistent theme — God just loves you, sin isn’t nearly as serious as Scripture would have you believe and don’t worry too much about what the Bible says anyway. It appears that’s how he lived his life as well.
Furthermore, Cavey’s behaviour over the last several years made it apparent that he was not an honest, forthright man. The greatest indication of this was that he simply refused to handle Scripture honestly, and when challenged he would obfuscate, become passive aggressive and angry, gaslight, misdirect, etc. Consider this compilation of his own statements on Inerrancy or this one on Atonement in which he twists Scripture, contradicts himself, and uses language in such a manipulative way that he says he agrees with a position (Inerrancy, Penal Substitution) then immediately defines the position in a way that denies the entire position! If you pay attention, Bruxy Cavey did not depend upon facts, truth, rigorous scholarship and argumentation, or honest representation to convince people of his positions. No, he relied on his charisma, image, and ability to smoothly lie to your face.
Cavey, for at least eleven years has known what he was guilty of. He knew that this sin had disqualified him from ministry (Titus 1:5-9), he knew he had betrayed his wife, family and church, and he knew that at any moment his accuser could blow the lid off the whole thing. He was a man with something to hide, an image and reputation to protect, a platform to maintain, books to sell, etc. Having this kind of skeleton in your closet affects your thinking and your behaviour.
So I do feel that my previous work was vindicated insofar as these recent revelations are only further evidence that my concerns that he was displaying the marks of a false teacher were correct, despite the protests of guys who should have known better.
I also fear. For years I prayed that God would grant Cavey repentance, or that he would remove him. I believed God would do it, but I had no indication how. But God is Lord over all. God loves the church, and he does not tolerate imposters for any longer than his purposes require.
To see that God would bring to light such grievous sin in the life of Cavey causes me to have greater faith in the Scriptures and to fear God with a reverent and holy fear. It causes me to hate sin more. Sight has been added to my faith. Even more than a sense of personal vindication, I see the Scripture as being vindicated. Scriptures describing the hearts and deeds of false teachers like 2Peter 2, or warning about mocking God like Galatians 6:1-10, or about hiding sin like Proverbs 28:13-14, among may others have a renewed and profound meaning to me.
Continue to Exercise Caution
I also remain cautious in how I describe the situation. I don’t know any more than what has been publicly stated. I don’t know the true nature of the relationship Cavey had. His accuser claims she was not in a position to consent, but Cavey calls it an “extramarital affair”, implying it was consentual. So while I can understand calling her a “victim”, I hesitate to do so without the information I would require to justify it biblically. I simply don’t know what happened or how much responsibility either party bears, nor do I need to know to conclude that Cavey has sinned and disqualified himself.
Perhaps more will come out in the future, perhaps not. For now I only know what I know.
Scripture is the Sole Authority on how to deal with False Teachers
That said, there is one other conclusion I must come to. The otherwise orthodox defenders of Cavey failed in carrying out their scriptural obligation to handle him as a false teacher.
Of note is The Gospel Coalition Canada’s most prolific contributor, Pastor Paul Carter. Pastor Carter got involved with the controversy swirling around Cavey in the summer of 2018, over a year after my pastor, Jacob Reaume and I had been documenting, writing and warning about Cavey and TMH. He “sought clarity” with Cavey in a strange way — by interviewing him and publishing several articles in which he asked no hard questions, did not get to the heart of any of Cavey’s errors, refused to press Cavey in any substantial way, and allowed Cavey to dictate the direction of the interviews. Furthermore, he allowed Cavey to get away with the manipulative and deceptive language games that had already been documented and analyzed by others over the previous year and a half. In short, the mission to seek clarity was poorly undertaken. Cavey was dishonest and Carter seemed so poorly prepared he couldn’t have held him to account even if he had wanted to.
Carter’s articles on Cavey began with Props to Bruxy Cavey, congratulating Cavey on his passive aggressive, dishonest and dismissive public response to the criticism he was receiving. He then published his Seeking Clarity series (parts 1, 2 and 3) and concluded with his Analysis and Reccomendations in which he concluded, based solely on what Cavey was willing to say in the context of Carter’s interview, that Cavey was not a heretic and gave this advice:
Make every attempt to understand what your neighbour is saying – make the effort to press behind foreign terms and unusual accents – and be sure that you are presenting his ideas to others in words and ways that he would be happy to own for himself.https://ca.thegospelcoalition.org/columns/ad-fontes/seeking-clarity-with-bruxy-cavey-analysis-and-recommendations/
Of course, this was advice he did not himself follow. It was clear in the series that he had not taken any time to understand what Cavey was saying. Despite the extensive research I had done and documented from primary sources (which I happen to know Carter read), Carter was entirely unprepared to understand Cavey and was completely duped by a man that, as the whole world now knows, was a master deceiver. On the other hand, men like Pastor Reaume and myself quoted Cavey at length and in context from his own teaching to his own friendly audiences. Furthermore, Carter ignored any warning or information I tried to give him to help him understand what Cavey was actually saying. After months of friendly correspondence I found myself mysteriously blocked on all platforms by him.
Of course, TGCC published their own Theological Statement in which they condemned the denial of Penal Substitutionary Atonement as a “grave error”, but it was too little too late. Carter had already published that Cavey did not deny PSA, insisting rather that Cavey affirmed some valid variation of PSA (ignoring Cavey’s record of denying it and teaching against it), rendering TGCC’s statement moot.
Carter then participated in an episode of Unbelievable? and Wycliffe College’s Theology Pub Night (manuscript here) with Cavey to discuss their experience in Navigating Theological Differences. Again, Cavey was dishonest and manipulative and Carter seemed utterly naive.
So what happened? How did Carter get completely duped? Well, it would seem that Carter made the conscious choice to blaze his own trail when it came to dealing with false teaching instead of simply doing exactly what the Bible says. The Bible has a very simple plan for dealing with guys like Cavey — identify them based on their doctrine, warn the sheep about them, avoid them (Romans 16:17-18). In fact, it is a biblical requirement of an overseer that “he must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9, ESV). Instead of rebuking Cavey and warning others of his “grave error” Carter basically went on tour with him to show what a nice guy he could be to people he disagreed with.
After Carter’s article series, all kinds of pastors, elders, and other churchmen came out in defense of Cavey citing Carter as some kind of authority on the matter. Carter successfully rehabilitated Cavey’s reputation. The exact opposite of what would have happened had he simply looked to Scripture for his marching orders in dealing with false teachers.
Carter is only one example of many. Cavey has been publicly teaching serious errors on the authority of Scripture, the atonement, biblical sexual ethics, the person and nature of Jesus, inclusivism, and other doctrines for well over a decade. He’s done so at TMH, on podcasts, at conferences, and in seminary classrooms. Yet, Cavey flew under the radar of most of the Canadian Evangelical church at large, despite his massive influence. There were those who spoke up, but their warnings went largely unheeded. There was no available, published criticism of Cavey available when I started my research in 2017. Once the criticism became much more public, Pastor Reaume and I were criticized for having criticized him, rather than any substantial discussion of the objective facts regarding his teaching. **please see the note at the end of this article**
Scripture is our sole authority when it comes to dealing with false teachers. It may not seem pleasant, some people might not think we’re nice, and the false teacher will most likely resent it, but this is not an occasion for Christian liberty. The Bible tells us exactly what to do, requires pastors to do it, and too many refused.
I have long thought that if there was one text that described Bruxy Cavey it was Romans 16:17,18.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.Romans 16:17,18 ESV
Cavey caused division by teaching false doctrines, and he was clearly serving his own sinful appetite. He was able to deceive the naive through smooth talk and flattery.
So I rejoice that Cavey is gone (for now). I feel vindicated in my assessment of Cavey. I fear God more and have a new appreciation for his word because of what’s happened. I remain cautious, being conscious of what I know and what I don’t. And I have a deeper understanding of how the Scriptures require us to deal with false teaching having witnessed first-hand the damage innovating our own approach can cause.
I hope this post was helpful to someone trying to think through what’s gone on. Writing it certainly helped me think it through.
When first published, I included the following: “To my knowledge not a single Canadian pastor ever called him out or called attention to his serious errors publicly prior to 2017.” I deleted it shortly after publication as it implied things I did not intend to imply.