World wide, conservative Christianity has expressed concerns, behind the scenes, with the rise and fall of ‘super star’ evangelical pastors like Mark Driscoll and Tullian Tchividjian. In light of these scandals, we ask the question, what are the requirements of the office of pastor/elder/shepherd/bishop? There are certain sins that disqualify anyone from holding a biblically qualified office in the church.
These men were not only charged with giving God’s word to the people of their congregation, but they were charged with the oversight of the spiritual growth of their congregations. That’s a very sobering responsibility for a man to take on, and it should never be done lightly. Therefore, these scandals proved these men to be biblicaly unqualified individuals who should no longer occupy either the office of a bishop/elder/pastor or a deacon in the body of born-again believers.
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you — if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 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 1:5-9
The pastoral office is not a career move. The teaching office is not a career move. These are noble pursuits and hard roads to achieve, which is why not many should be pastors or teachers.
“Everything you ever needed to know about Mark Driscoll that would help you make a decision about how to think about him and his ministry is patently obvious and exhaustively documented. You don’t need one more bombshell letter or insider document to tell you what you already know. You don’t need me or anyone else to expose anything more about this man. You know who he is. You know how he’s reacted. And I assume you know what the Lord thinks about the high calling of the ministry.” Janet Mefferd
So it did not surprise us in the slightest that Mark Driscoll was going down the road of apostasy. All the signs were there and the cracks continued to get bigger and bigger until his own bus ran him over. Despite Mark Driscoll’s public disgrace, he has the right to be restored as a person into the church and every day ministry life in the church – but he is not to return to the office of pastor.
It’s one thing for Christians to point the finger at the heretical camp and expose their sins, cover-ups and unrepentant behaviour. However, that same level of scrutiny must also be applied to our own ‘camp’. One thing that we have observed is that other leaders seem to push Tullian back into ministry. This is the number one thing doing damage to the name of Jesus, the victims and Tullian’s name. Pastors that are attempting to restore Tullian are in danger of appearing more concerned about pushing his celebrity status and his books. This is where our concern lays. Nowhere have we seen evidence of Tullian personally attempt to restore himself (unlike Driscoll). Furthermore, while Christianity has pointed out the heretical ‘Evangelical Industrial Complex’, we too must be mindful of creating our own ‘Discerment Industrial Complex’ and our own discernment/reformed celebrity figures. Tullian, too is a victim of this celebrity snare that has also emerged from the reformed/discernment camps. We need to respect his privacy, let him go and stop trying to restore him to ministry for his sake, so he can resist unbiblical temptations in other areas. We wish to emphasize this before you read the article below.
When we hear of pastors abusing their positions, it hits at the very foundation of the body of Christ. Why do we assume that pastors and ministers are above reproach and temptation when they aren’t
Other conservative ministries have also genuinely expressed concern how Tullian’s heritage and celebrity status may cause him to stumble even at his age. We were grateful that men like Chris Rosebrough, other Lutheran ministers and reformed folk started anchoring him in more traditional and Reformed theology. Nevertheless, he has sinned and unfortunately must pay the consequences of his sins according to scripture. Tullian must step down for good.
God must be first. This does not mean we withdraw spiritual support from Tullian Tchividjian. This means we pray for him. However, Tullian should not aspire to the office of pastor or teacher again behind the pulpit. Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with Tchividjian evangelising, hosting bible study groups or being a faithful supportive member of his local church for the glory of God. God can still use him and his broken life in this simple but profound way.
IT’S ABOUT THE VICTIMS
If not, more people will get hurt by the attempts of others to get him back in the pulpit in the name of “restoration”. The article below drives the point home about the victims in all this. First and foremost, the victims need the most attention for the glory of God.
While it is true that judgment begins in the House of God, healing and restoration follow when righteous judgment accompanies forgiveness and reconciliation. And for once it would be great to see a beautiful example how Christ’s reconciliation works in his body for the world to see. It is not too late for the world to see that God has sent his son through this reconciliation process.
THE HILLSONG HOO-HA
Unfortunately, the incident below suggests that there has been a “Hillsong Hoo-ha”. By that, we mean there has been an attempt to restore Tchividjian back into a proper pastoral/teaching office, using similar tactics Hillsong use to justify the inexcusible in the name of grace and God Himself. Whenever there has been a minister or leader disgraced in Hillsong, Hillsong doesn’t apologise. Instead, they use grace to justify the persons sin – and do so very effectively.
This comment sums up why churches should not pull a Hillsong hooha.
“Just beat the grace, love, mercy drums loudly enough and the crowds will swoon and flock in. This is not the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is celebrity showcase, corporate big money, giant narcissistic egos, and one big joke in the eyes of the non-Christian world. It is disgusting.” [Source]
The Spiritual Sounding Board has done a fantastic job researching and highlighting the real issues behind the Tchividjian restoration.
Tullian Tchividjian is Back, Fully Endorsed by His Pastor, Kevin Labby
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. Ezekiel 34:1-3
I have a disappointing update on Tullian Tchividjian. To recap events, I am posting an excerpt from an earlier post:
In June, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian resigned as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is part of the original statement Tchividjian released to the Washington Post from June:
I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign (Source).
Last month, mid-February, Tullian Tchividjian tweeted the following:
Here is the statement from the Board of Directors at Liberate Network:
It is with much excitement that we announce the relaunch of LIBERATE.
As many of you know, LIBERATE was founded in 2011 by Tullian Tchividjian as a resource ministry whose mission was to connect God’s inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world through books, conferences, television, radio, social media, and a variety of other mediums. Over the next several years, LIBERATE grew to become a unique and vibrant ministry.
In light of what has transpired with both Tullian and LIBERATE over the past year, you may be asking, “What will Tullian’s involvement be as LIBERATE moves forward?” Today, Tullian continues an encouraging season of rest and healing as a part of the Willow Creek Church family in Winter Springs, FL. The elders of Willow Creek Church are presently overseeing a care plan for him, one involving routine worship, prayer, fellowship, study, professional counseling, and more. The process is going remarkably well, and we are very encouraged by his honesty, humility, repentance, and commitment to healing.
Our prayerful hope and expectation is that Tullian will join us fully in this great work one day. In the meantime (and in keeping with his care plan) he is presently on sabbatical from the board of the Liberate Network.
Thankfully, the Liberate Network is ultimately about the message of the gospel, not any particular messenger, and so we’re moving forward together. To God’s glory, we look forward to the Liberate Network sharing the good news of God’s inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world for many years to come.
Please be sure to connect with us on Facebook (facebook.com/LiberateNetwork) and Twitter (@LiberateNetwork) for exciting news and ministry content.
Board of Directors
Liberate Network, Inc
Dr. Chris Crawford, M.D. – Partner, Dallas Associated Dermatologists
Mrs. Barbara Juliani – Editor, New Growth Press
Rev. Matt Popovits – Lead Pastor, Our Savior New York
New York, NY
Rev. Kevin Labby – Lead Pastor, Willow Creek Church
Winter Springs, FL
Mr. Peter Ouda, J.D. – Peter Ouda Law
Ms. Lana Trombly
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Mr. Dwayne Williams – Executive Vice-President, Frontline Insurance
Winter Springs, FL
Ms. Catherine Wyatt – Vice President of Development, Key Life Network
Winter Springs, FL
Rev. Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl – Retired Episcopal minister and author
Winter Garden, FL
Notice who is listed above? Rev. Kevin Labby is Tullian’s new pastor.
This tweeter had an appropriate response:
Here is a tweet from the Liberate Twitter account – a timely tweet promoting a quote by Tullian Tchividjian:
On the following tweet, we see a speaking opportunity for Tullian Tchividjian:
Pastor Kevin Labby gives Tchividjian his pastoral blessing by posting this tweet:
Here’s my beef:
I don’t want to call it an affair because Tullian Tchividjian was in a position of trust. In Florida, it appears there could be legal ramifications for someone who has sex when they are in a professional relationship with a client, in this case, congregant:
Florida 491.0112(1): “sexual misconduct with a client or former client when the professional relationship was terminated primarily for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact”
There are two fractured families that we know of because of the clergy sex abuse, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse. However, the whole congregation put their trust in their pastor, and for Tchividjian to be preaching Christ, the gospel, and grace from the pulpit, while engaging with another woman in an emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual way, is harmful to the Body of Christ. It takes time to get over that kind of unfaithfulness. This is especially difficult for individuals who are already struggling with trust issues with people in authority.
While Pastor Labby is currently the pastor of his own flock, which now includes Tullian Tchividjian as congregant, did he consider the hurting flock Tullian left behind at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church when he started tweeting about Tullian? Was he sensitive to the ongoing struggles of Tullian’s own family, the “other woman’s” family? . . . or was getting Tullian Tchividjian back in the speaking circuit his primary goal?
I question the wisdom of Kevin Labby as pastor. What is in it for Labby to have Tullian Tchividjian speaking again? Or Tchividjian’s involvement in Liberate Network – the group in which Labby is on the Board of Directors?
I have seen true repentance. I have witnessed the fruit of true repentance:
True repentance shows the utmost concern for victims who were harmed.
The victims are the primary focus. Abusers who fully repent willingly forfeit their rights because they will do anything to help victims recover.
We do not see that displayed here. Why do I say that? Because a pastor who understood the full extent of their sin and abuse would not put themselves in a teaching position. Speaking at events is a teaching position. It is a trusted position for leaders. Using social media as a platform to his 108,000 Twitter followers is akin to a teaching position.
For crying out loud, even his Twitter handle has “pastor” on it:
My favorite response I read a while back comes from Christine Pack of Sola Sisters fame:
“My summer pedicure lasted longer than his so-called repentance/restoration season.“ (Source)
Update: The speaking event was held at Spring Hills Community Church, a sold out event.
Here is the event summary (which may be too small to read in the image above):
Bestselling author Tullian Tchividjian is convinced our exhausted world needs a fresh encounter with God’s inexhaustible grace—His one-way love. Sadly, however, Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living—and the judgments that result from them—rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over and over again. Tchividjian convincingly shows that Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good.
Source: By Julie Anne, Tullian Tchividjian is Back, Fully Endorsed by His Pastor, Kevin Labby, Spiritual Sounding Board, http://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2016/03/05/tullian-tchividjian-is-back-fully-endorsed-by-his-pastor-kevin-labby/, Published 05/03/2016. (Accessed 08/03/2016.)