Master of Manipulation

**Content Editor: Lauren R.E. Larkin**

In the last post, I introduced the reader to Lisa.   Lisa allows me to tell her story of being groomed and manipulated by Tullian Tchividjian.  Today, I will be recounting the second story in this series, that of Kara.

One of the more interesting things I learned from Kara was that Tullian targeted men, as well as women, for abuse.  Tullian had groomed several men to essentially function as his “yes men,” to never question him and to meet his emotional needs whenever he needed someone to reinforce his own opinions.  In much the same way as the women, these men were often persons with deep wells of pain related to abuse at the hands of loved ones, friends, and the church.

Looking back, Kara recognizes that Tullian used both men and women to shore up the narrative he wished to advance and to defend himself against persons saying anything negative about his message or attempting to bring his abuses to light. Thus Tullian would not have to personally get his hands dirty. However, a significant difference also exists between how Tullian treated men and women.  According to Kara, while, Tullian would manipulate men to further his own narrative, shore up his own ego, and occasionally to pad his own pockets, some of the women were also subjected to repeated sexual advances.

A Brief Disclaimer

Because of the nature of the narrative below, the woman in question has chosen to remain anonymous.  I respect that decision, and her decision not to use her real name has absolutely no bearing on her credibility.  Her story has been careful vetted through multiple sources, and it is my position that she ought to be believed and afforded to care deserved by every victim of abuse.  Further, through talking both to “Kara” and to other sources, I have every reason to believe that the experience she claims to have had hints at a larger trend of predatory behavior practiced by Tullian Tchividjian.

For this reason, any derogatory or negative comments will be deleted.  If a reader wishes to express concern or contend the details of this post, they are advised to email me at the address provided on my “About” page.

Groomed by the Church

Prior to meeting Tullian, Kara had walked through a devastating situation in a PCA church, the evangelical wing of the Presbyterian tradition in the United States.  She was put through what the pastors referred to as a “process.”  Specifically, she was subjected to the scriptural teaching of pastors who asked her to suffer abuse to keep her marriage together. They said, “Jesus was abused and she should make it her life ministry (to be abused)”.  These men also told her, “Jesus turned the other cheek to his abusers.”  In her own words, Kara states that pastors told her, “Although I did not have to have sex with my husband when he demanded it and said horrible things to me, the pastor asked me if would I still do it, because it might be the silver bullet to change his heart.”  According to her, the pastors refused to grant her biblical grounds of divorce citing the PCA doctrine that “financial and emotional abuse are not grounds for divorce in the PCA .”

For over a year, these men – who had zero professional counseling experience or training – claimed they were qualified to counsel her and her spouse, shoring up her ex’s refusal to see a professional counselor.  They cited the PCA Book of Church Order to try to convince her that submitting to their “godly authority” required her to trust their “process” regardless of significant negative impact their “counseling” was having on her, her kids, and even her spouse.  It became apparent to her that PCA teachings that denied women a voice in the church, and made her feel like she was nothing more than a “body” for male consumption, overflowed into how she was counseled.  She was put into a position where she had no way to protect herself financially, emotionally, spiritually or physically. Quite literally, the pastors of her church gaslighted her into believing that her feelings and intuitions were untrustworthy. She was groomed to believe that the men around her were chosen by God to lead her and that, regardless of her own opinion of their words and actions, she had to assume the best and that they were attempting to behave in a godly manner toward her.

Like Lisa, and so many other women, Kara is the victim of Evangelical patriarchy.  She was groomed to submit herself to a church who either intentionally robs women of their god-given voice in the home and church or they make them second guess it or put it aside to hold marriages together.  They would allow her to express her feelings, but their continued insistence on the efficacy of the counseling process made clear to her that they did not see her feelings as valid.  They refused to see the damage their counsel was doing to her and her home.  Instead, her church’s belief and teaching of complementarianism as Gospel truth forced her to stay in a process where male authority had to validate her feelings, thoughts, beliefs and actions.

As with Lisa, this set the stage for the ways in which Tullian would manipulate and pastorally abuse her.  Further, from talking with other victims of Tullian, she can also say that the patriarchal systems of the Evangelical church also played a significant role in grooming many other persons – both men and women – to be used by Tullian to feed his own ego.

Exploited Strength

In the time before she first came into contact with Tullian, Kara found her voice.  She became aware of the abuses within her church’s theology and took a stand against them.   She came to recognize that popular theological buzzwords like “submission, humility, servanthood and godly womanhood” were too easily used by male authority to silence women and by abusers to silence their victims.  The gender roles she was taught over a lifetime in church were a breeding ground for men to manipulate, control, and assault women while painting it as sound doctrine.

In this way, Kara told me, “My story is not primarily about Tullian Tchividjian.”  She recognizes that Tullian is a predator, but he never would have been able to exploit her had this not been happening her entire life in the church. She has come to realize that predatory men like Tullian Tchividjian rise to power precisely because the Evangelical church has created a system not only of patriarchy, but of kyriarchy – a hierarchy of power predicated on the submission, disenfranchisement, and silencing of women. Ironically, finding her strength beyond the gendered limitations of Evangelicalism was precisely the door Tullian used to manipulate her.

Meeting Tullian

A couple of years prior to meeting Tullian, she had come into contact with Tullian’s books and teachings through the ministries of Steve Brown, Mockingbird, and Elyse Fitzpatrick.  The message of grace she found through this group and other authors like Brennan Manning “saved her life and gave her strength to be radically honest about her own sins and accept a love and forgiveness from Jesus that she had never known, though growing up in church.” In fact, knowing how much she was both loved and forgiven emboldened her to stand up for herself and even walk through her church’s “process.”

It was only a month after her ex chose to leave their church and file for divorce that Kara was approached by Tullian through Twitter.  She had challenged the views of a PCA pastor and Tullian took notice of her boldness; he reached out to her via direct message, saying, “I see you love the gospel, let me send you some books.”  Kara used this opportunity to share her story with Tullian, the impact his teachings had on her life, and the strength that she had received from them.

Looking back, she notes that, at the time, she found her exchanges with Tullian deeply encouraging.  His words of support were much needed after months of fighting for herself to be heard and believed. Her early conversations with Tullian were validating.  He said he would be her pastor, he affirmed her theology, and affirmed her assertion that the church discipline process she had faced was wrong and abusive.

Prior to meeting Tullian, Kara had already started to build healthy male friendships after a lifetime of being conditioned to put men on pedestals. It was these healthy male friends both inside and outside a different church who had helped her to stand up for herself. They had been instrumental in supporting her to trust God and His truth. The truth that said she did not have to submit to people who said they loved her, but left her no room to have a voice.  She was learning to say no to the Church’s abuses and to believe that God loved her more than the institution of marriage. It was these godly men who encouraged her to challenge the counseling “process” her church demanded her to walk through. It was because of these healthy friendships with men, that she believed Tullian would also be a respectful and healthy source of friendship.

Kara describes it thus: “I already felt like I knew Tullian because of his message and so it was easy to talk to Tullian. I loved the message he preached and admired that he had the courage to preach this message in a PCA church. Tullian treated me as a theological equal, which was very meaningful considering this went against my church experience. Tullian and I talked a lot of theology. And of course I was flattered when I heard things we had talked about end up in his sermons.”

They began to talk daily.  Tullian was very into fitness and learned she was trainer.  As a result, she helped design a personal fitness program.  At one point, he asked her to obtain anabolic steroids for him, something she couldn’t do. She learned that he later obtained them through a trainer near him in Florida.

She often talked to her friends about Tullian.  She believed that Tullian was being forthright with his wife and church about his communications with her as well.  At the time, she assumed that Tullian had reached out to her in a pastoral capacity, to offer friendship and encouragement.  She was of the impression he appreciated her for her strong voice and passion for a grace centered Gospel. Tullian offered a sense of solidarity.  He made her feel like a theological equal.  He seemed like an open book, open and honest about his own story through his teaching.  Because she believed that they both had all their cards on the table, Tullian made it very easy to be completely honest. Tullian made himself very accessible and easy to talk to.  In many ways, she felt like she had known him for a long time. He continued texting her daily with encouragement, He would send her music and ask for her advice on his training routine.  Because she was still walking through a horrible divorce, his friendship was helping her to cope with all the stress in her life.

Face to Face Friendship

Kara first met Tullian face to face at a conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the Fall of 2014. He had a Coral Ridge pastor traveling with him, as well as a young couple that had driven to see him from Nashville.  After the conference they continued to exchange text messages almost every day for several months.

He then invited her to the Liberate conference in February, 2015, and then to the Mockingbird conference in April, 2015.[1] At Mockingbird, Kara was bothered by how Tullian approached a female DJ to get her number, then immediately started texting her from his phone.

Immediately upon returning to Florida from NYC, Kim’s affair was made public.

Tullian asked her Kara to visit him in May and July.  He said that he needed her to visit Fort Lauderdale to support him, to help him walk through his exit from Coral Ridge, and wanted her to be involved in the ministry that he would continue with Liberate. Kara’s friendship with Tullian continued right up until his latest attempt to reenter ministry in September, 2016.

Spring/Summer 2015
During the months after Kim’s affair became public knowledge in the Spring of 2015, Kara visited Tullian in Florida on a couple of occasions to provide emotional support for him. He had also gathered around other people from all over the country.  These people, men and women, joined him in Florida to support what they believed to be his emotional, mental, spiritual, financial, and relational needs as he tried to secure the future of Liberate and decide his next move professionally.

On the second of these trips, in early July, 2015, Kara, and several others, spent time with Tullian tempting to meet his needs.   On two occasions, Kara and Tullian visited a local gym. On one of these occasions, a woman stopped by to see Tullian at the gym (to protect the identity of this woman, she will be referred to as Sue).  Tullian told Kara that Sue had been Kim’s trainer; the two disappeared for a while.  Kara felt something seemed off, and was bothered by how intimate they seemed. From the way Tullian and Sue talked, it seemed apparent that the two had known each other for a while.

After their workout, she questioned Tullian his relationship with the woman, but he insisted that there was nothing going on.

On July 30, 2015, it was revealed that Tullian Tchividjian had been having an “affair” with Sue. Kara would later learn that Tullian was also texting and calling Sue regularly for months, even before he learned of Kim’s affair, which at the time he claimed caused him to “subsequently [seek] comfort in a friend.”

After arriving home and finding out about Tullian’s “affair,” Kara began to seriously doubt Tullian’s honesty about many things.  She realized that he had been seeing this woman for some time, and that he had been lying to everyone.

She had believed that Tullian’s message of grace freed him to be radically honest with her and the people with whom he said he was being honest.  Now she realized that Tullian is only ever as honest as he needs to be: just honest enough to use the situation and people around him to advance his own narrative, to feed his own ego by portraying himself as the “good guy” while creatively masking the depravity of his actions and thoughts.

When this affair was revealed, Tullian directly claimed that this had been a “rebound” affair, that he had simply succumbed to his hurt and loneliness.  Yet, his established relationship with her before Kim’s affair reveals two things:

First, it reveals that at least some of his texting arrangements resulted in actual sexual encounters with the women being texted.  Given the grooming techniques used with women like Lisa – the sexual comments, and the demonizing of his wife, the use of pastoral counsel to create a relationship of trust and privilege, and the explicit targeting of women from situations of abuse and hurt – it forces the reader to wonder the nature of the texting relationship between Tullian and Sue while he was still married to Kim.

Second, it exposes the ways in which Tullian’s neglect and dishonesty contributed to the dissolution of his marriage.  His narrative of a hurting husband wounded by his unfaithful wife simply does not hold water.

Instead, Kara’s story exposes just how willing Tullian was to destroy other persons in order to preserve his own privileges.  Tullian chose to openly lie about his wife, destroying her public reputation, in order to maintain his own position of privilege and influence.  Further, he leveraged these lies to gain a new position at Kevin Labby’s Willow Creek Church, a move which brought great embarrassment to both Labby and Willow Creek when Tullian’s lies were exposed in March, 2016.

Also, Kara notes that during this time she chose to publicly defend Tullian on social media, she believed Tullian’s stories that he had been treated unfairly.  However, after his lies regarding Sue were brought to light, she decided to end public defense.  The next time Tullian asked her (and a friend) to target someone online, neither responded to his request.

As we learned from Lisa’s story, this was a common occurrence.  He perpetuated a false narrative to convince others to publicly defend him, while avoiding getting his own hands dirty.  These actions damaged the lives and reputations who sought to defend his lies, leaving them devastated and hurting at his betrayal.

Further Accusations

Over time, Kara would learn of several other women who were in similar texting arrangements with Tullian.  Of these women, she learned that several of them received text messages that were sexually explicit, or contained sexual advances.[2]

Reflecting on her own texts with Tullian, Kara realized that he had a tendency to make sexual jokes and use crude language.  At the time, she did not think much of these, and did not perceive them as sexual advances toward her. In retrospect, she realizes Tullian used these comments to fish for a response. Because she was never interested in Tullian sexually, she would either laugh at his absurdity or make excuses for him.

On one occasion, Kara found out that Tullian was pursuing one of her friends, even while he was dating his now wife Staci.  She confronted him, and he told her that her friend was lying.  As time passed, and she learned of each of the several women he was texting,she would ask him about it.

Each time he would call it a lie, say the woman was crazy, or deny knowing her all together.

Also, according to Kara, Tullian also had a large network of people at his beck and call.  He kept these persons – men and women – largely disconnected from one another, then exploited them each to meet his needs and fuel his ego.  Anytime he felt he needed anything to fuel his ego–financial, emotional, theological, spiritual, or physical—support was just a phone call away

Ever the master manipulator, Tullian kept all of these people thinking that he was there for them, but, in reality, they were only ever there to benefit of him.

In the midst of all of this, Kara still strived to be a “good friend” to Tullian.  She continued to see him as a broken man in need of the love and grace he so often preached about.  She believed her friendship could be a source of that for him, and tried desperately to get through to him.

From August to March, 2016, Kara didn’t hear much from Tullian. He occasionally called to talk about his divorce, but she could clearly see that he was still refusing to be honest about Sue and how long he had continued to date her after their “affair” had come to light. When he stopped calling, she assumed the reason was: he was either dating someone new or getting the help and counseling he desperately needed.

In March 2016, more of Tullian’s lies came to light.  Tullian Tchividjian was accused of further sexual misconduct, which took place in 2014.  He was also revealed to have participated in a conspiracy to cover up his conduct, and immediately fired from Willow Creek. After this information came out, she reached out to him to ask him about the affair that had just come to light. He claimed he’d never had sex with the woman in question, and that leadership at Coral Ridge had known about, but he had never told Kim. He also tried to spin the narrative that staff at Willow Creek had always known about this “affair,” and now they were just trying to protect themselves in order to “cover up their own church scandals.”

Attempted Reconciliation

Shortly after this, Kara learned that Tullian had left the state of Florida, and was living in Texas, and she reached out to him. He began texting her asking her advice about reconciling with Kim.  The two had very in depth conversations about his relationship with Kim.  He would confess his love for Kim and that she had started talking to him again.  He claimed, they were being completely honest with each other for the first time.

It was a couple of weeks later when Tullian would call Kara and confess to cheating on Kim while they were still married.  Kara insisted he needed to confess this to Kim if he ever wanted to reconcile, but Tullian was reticent, claiming it was “in the past and he had been forgiven.” Kara disagreed because Tullian’s lies about his actions would directly affect Kim.  If they were to have a chance reconciling, they would need complete truth.

During these conversations, Tullian never mentioned that he and his girlfriend Stacie, whom he had been dating for several months, were living together.

When Tullian finally did mention Stacie, he made it seeem as if Stacie had been a rebound relationship.  She believed him at the time because she couldn’t honestly imagine any woman being in a serious relationship with Tullian after everything that had been made public knowledge – his divorce from Kim (after 21 years!), the very public collapse of his ministry, and two very public sex scandals which had torn apart his family.

After these conversations, she was encouraged to hear Tullian say he wanted to try and reconcile with his wife.  She believed that he truly cared for Kim and was willing to own up to lies and abuses. After he was in Florida for two weeks, he contacted Kara and said he had decided to return to Texas to get his things so he could move back to Florida to be with Kim.

However, unbeknownst to Tullian, while he was leaving Texas to head back to Florida, Kim had called to talk with Stacie. In this conversation, Kim discovered Tullian had been entirely dishonest with her (Kim) about his relationship with Stacie – the length of time they had been dating, that they were living together, and that he and Stacie had intimate relations on his return to Texas.

Kim called Tullian and told him not to come, but Tullian continued to Florida anyway, insisting to Kara that he would win Kim back.[3]

Marriage

A few days later, Tullian reached out again to Kara and told her it wasn’t going to work out with Kim.  He said he would be coming through her area and asked if they could meet up to talk. She agreed to do so.

However, Kara never heard from Tullian.  Two weeks later she learned he planned to marry Stacie. She texted him, shocked by this news. She tried to convince him he needed some time to be alone, that it was unhealthy to rush into a marriage with Stacie after everything that had just transpired with Kim.  But Tullian insisted, “I can’t be alone. I am at my worst alone.” He spent the entire conversation attempting to justify all his actions.  He even insisted one of his counselors, Paul Zahl – a person whom he claimed had “never given him advice before” -supported his marriage to Stacie.

Days later, he texted Kara saying, “It’s right. I’m confident. Be happy for me 🙂 In time you’ll see.”

He then married Stacie.

Final Straw

The two texted sparingly until September 27, when Tullian’s post was published on the Expastors site.  She texted Tullian in disbelief of what he had written. In her opinion, he was being entirely dishonest, using misinformation and manipulation to garner sympathy for a false narrative.  She was offended that, even after everything that had happened – everything that was made public, and everything she knew that wasn’t pubic information – Tullian was still trying to paint himself as both the victim and the hero of the story.

Especially after the events of the past month – the failed reconciliation and the sudden wedding – she wanted him to see that he still needed to be honest with himself.  She believed that preaching radical honesty, while engaging in utter falsehood, would only further hurt everyone involved.  As she saw it, if he claimed to represent a God of truth, wasn’t Tullian obligated to expose his own lies?

She texted him to confront him, and he was very defensive.  In their brief conversation, he made it clear he was still sticking to his twisted narrative.

Looking Back

Looking back on her friendship with Tullian, Kara now believes that the level and type of attention he gave her was entirely unhealthy, especially for a man with a wife and family. She now realizes that Tullian exploited the needs of many people – men and women – in order to feed his own ego, and cover his own insecurities.  He had attached himself to the gospel message in such a way that many of these people believed he had helped saved their life, and he fed off that area of vulnerability.

In reflecting on this, Kara states, “I believe the truth that has come about has forced the separation needed between Tullian and the message he preached. God’s gospel is true and he used Tullian to preach it, even though Tullian didn’t get it on many levels. Tullian taught that one of the first things the gospel does is free you to be is honest, and it’s apparent Tullian can’t be honest, unless it’s a level of honesty that helps his career.”

Conclusion

When I talked with Kara, one of the things she stated strongly was that, while she is angry with Tullian for his many abuses and lies, she also pities him.  Just as she was groomed by the Evangelical Church in a way that created an opening for Tullian to exploit, Tullian was also trained by the Church to believe that his ego, power, and privilege were of the highest value.  When power and privilege is the highest good, pastors will exploit those placed in their care in order to maintain this elevated status.  This creates a kyriarchal system, by which a powerful “elect” group of oligarchs pursue power at the expense of an oppressed constituency.

As I said in my previous post, the Evangelical Church has become an industrial complex fueled by the suffering of victims, producing an endless supply of ego for the men at the top.  In this way, Tullian Tchividjian represents a microcosm of a larger system.  A system that must itself be dismantled, lest five more abusers pop up in his wake.

It must be recognized that, even now, this industrial complex is allowing Tullian to once again take public platform.  He has once again begun spreading a message of transparency – speaking on October 31 at Spring Hills Community Church – and yet he has not actually demonstrated any.

He preached about owning one’s sin and “messiness,” yet to this day he continues to advance a narrative based not on confessing his serial abuses, but on hiding them.  As Kara has observed, Tullian uses a message of “authenticity” and “realness” to keep his audience navel gazing, a move classically employed by abusive persons to blind their victims to the ways in which they are being exploited.

Tullian has continued to behave as a serial pastoral predator, using a message of “humility” to lower and exploit those around him, while elevating himself and bolstering his own ego in a way that is entirely self-contradictory.

If the Gospel of Grace that Tullian confesses is predicated on Truth and Love, then it seems that there is no Gospel to be found in his platform and Tullian continues to use people who are desperate for love and truth to build his kingdom and ego.

 

[1] Multiple sources confirm that Kara attended both these conferences and was seen hanging out as friends with Tullian Tchividjian.

[2] Multiple sources have confirmed both that Tullian carried on such arrangements, and that he often made sexual advances to women via text message.

[3] Multiple sources have confirmed that Tullian did, indeed, travel to Florida to attempt to reconcile with Kim.

Advertisements

45 thoughts on “Master of Manipulation

  1. One thing that has been overlooked – Kara’s husband groomed her to submit to rape and abuse before Tullian ever showed up in her life.

    Kara’s husband, according to the church she attended, held a similar position of power over her as Billy Graham’s grandson. Kara’s husband is guilty of not just rape, but pastoral sexual abuse as well since Christian patriarchy has the husband as a woman’s personal pastor.

    Tullian was the second pastoral figure who used Kara for his sexual gratification and the latest in a long line of male authority figures who abused her.

    If an abusive husband imports the “spiritual head” reasoning to justify grooming his wife for a sexual relationship, then the exact reasons why it’s wrong for a pastor to sexually abuse a congregant must apply within the marriage as well. Anything else is hypocritical.

    If husbands are pastors over their families, true sexual consent does not exist any more. What you have is someone using a one-on-one pastoral relationship for sexual gratification who simply included marriage as part of the grooming process.

    This would apply not just to Tullian’s second wife, but also any husband who has sex with his wife and claims to be his wife’s “spiritual head.” You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

    In the secular world, men who pass themselves off as counselors and therapists to sexually seduce women are punished in the same way as bonafide therapists who abuse their power.

    If patriarchal churches see abusive husbands in the exact same way as pastors, then the same condemnation that applies with clergy sex abuse must also take place in marriages that are so power imbalanced that husbands are seen as wives’ personal pastors.

    When a husband is granted the same power as a pastor would over his wife by the church, he should be judged by the same sexual standard as a pastor would be.

    Like

  2. This man is sick. He will not stop this behaviour. His new wife is apparently blind to this. It appears the whole Pesbytarian community is being decieved. Wow! This is frightening. The deception.Satan is really got a hold of Tullian. Has Franklin commented on any of this?

    Like

  3. Hey if it is possible for her to ‘tap to load preview’ so we can actually see what he sent her, that would be great. If she still has the messages on her phone, should be able to do that, and replace the graphics toward the beginning.

    This man is totally disgusting. ugh ugh ugh!!!

    Like

  4. It’s difficult to count this narrative as much more than hearsay. A few generic text screen shots prove nothing. I don’t have any knowledge of Tullian, but am familiar with men like him. There is a definite pattern to their behavior, and I don’t doubt that the essence of this story is most likely true, but how to prove it? Unfortunately, this piece sounds like gossip rather than investigation.

    Like

    1. Which is why it doesn’t stand alone.

      I posted it in concert with Lisa’s post because the two can corroborate each other.

      I did my due diligence here, and the information was better quite carefully.

      Also, if you read the comments on Lisa’s post, you’ll see that several other people have commented to back up the things in these posts.

      The sheer number of me toos, along with the Anonymous comment by one of the women he actually manipulated into sex (I know who she is, but allowed the anonymity because she is afraid of retaliation) plus the much more specific screenshots from Lisa give this post significant credibility.

      https://natesparks130.com/2016/11/21/do-unto-others/

      Like

    2. loura shares a story – since the testimony comes from the person who experienced the events and interacted with TT and texted and spoke with him, it’s not hearsay, it’s her direct testimony as to what happened. It’s not gossip because the women abused by TT, or by anyone else, are entitled to tell what was done to them. She’s not speculating and spreading unsubstantiated tales, she is telling what happened to her. Unless you are saying natesparks130 fabricated or embellished her testimony (there is no indication of that) or that he is otherwise unreliable or lacks credibility, you have no reason to doubt what he reports from this poor woman’s account of what she experienced at the hands of an obvious pastoral abuser. TT probably needs to get saved, from what his life of habitual devious actions shows. How to prove it? The preponderance of evidence from multiple victims is the proof. He’s guilty.

      Like

      1. I guess, “Trust me, I’m a professional (researcher and writer),” isn’t going to hold any water with you.

        Like

          1. Specifically, where does the off-record research required to corroborate stories like these factor into your assessment.

            Because there are people whose names may never be known, but whose knowledge of these situations is undoubtable, who corroborated and supported these stories.

            Also, I was able to convince journalists of the credibility of the info here, enough they were willing to publish their own stories based on what I was able to provide.

            I respect you as a writer, but I get the impression you think I’m an amateur who didn’t bother to do his homework.

            Like

          2. Hi Nate, I do appreciate your question. While there are some obvious similarities between the two, I will shortlist some key differences between the Commercial Appeal’s news article and your blog post:

            The news article utilized the testimony (notice the always say “alleged”, “claimed”, “said”, “told the paper”, etc.) of several key witnesses, the pastors’ published statements on the incident, the statement posted by the church on its website (which is now gone), a statement from local police, partially corroborating (anonymous) testimony from a separate former church leader, and the fact Trotter was indeed arrested and charged.

            I have already pointed out what I feel are glaring flaws in the evidence presented in your article, so I won’t rehash that.

            All the evidence in the CA article corroborates (agrees), and comes to a logical end: several victims leaving the church immediately upon the discovery of the video(s), the firing of Trotter from the church, the firing of Trotter from the Grizzlies team, and the eventual arrest of Trotter.

            Whereas the alleged victim in your article has only her own testimony, and not even necessarily in her own words, never contacted (by her own admission), outside authorities, and strangely continued to be (allegedly) TT’s friend and confidante.

            The paper made no judgement calls, the article never once insinuates that Trotter was guilty, a bad person, that the church was bad, that the pastor was a schmuck, etc.

            Like

          3. I don’t see much point in doing this all day, but do want to offer a quick counterpoint.

            The Appeal’s article is an analysis. It is a genre difference. I am explicit at the beginning of the post that I am retelling someone else’s story, and that the narrative represents alleged behavior by Tullian.

            My point from the Appeal’s article is that the have zero corroboration for their victim statements. That Rick Trotter did something is unquestioned. But that doesn’t make anything else reported true, and the reporter doesn’t offer any evidence he vetted the info (though of course he did).

            My point is that the vetting process is assumed.

            Now I would argue their article does call the pastor a schmuck, just in a subtle way. They blatantly point out lies in the church statement, noting that police and victims tell a much different story.

            Lastly, as I pointed out before, this is part of a multi-post series. I published it in pieces, and made sure it was explicit that it all overlapped.

            Any way, I’m not expecting to convince you, but wanted to address the concerns raised.

            And of course, the multiple pastors who stood behind these narratives in public statements also lends credibility to the information, as people who were once close to Tullian looked to verify the information I provided and all came back admitting it checked out.

            Thanks for your concerns Loura

            Like

          4. The CA article is an informative piece, not an analysis. It is a report, a news piece. What you have tried to write is a hybrid piece, an informative news-testimony-anaylsis-persuasive piece.

            I’ve already listed above just how many pieces of corroborating evidence the reporter did get, but I feel you just don’t want to see it.

            The article implied nothing through its language, it let readers decide, based on the many pieces of evidence, that the pastor was a schmuck.

            I have reviewed your other posts regarding this case, but I don’t recall other pastors verifying the information. Indeed, how could they since the majority of the testimony claims events happened only between her and TT?

            If other people came forward to decry TT in response to your posts, but they provide no evidence, it only means they are publicly distancing themselves. It does not prove anything more, just as if Trotter had been fired from his church or team in response to the accusations against him, that would also prove nothing more than a wish to publicly distance the church and team from Trotter. But there was more evidence.

            I appreciate your willingness to dialogue, but I continue to be deeply concerned about the state of reporting in our country in general. Bottom line: You cannot present a single person’s testimony as evidence to convict someone else. I despise these virtual courtrooms.

            https://louralawrence.com/2016/11/30/history-repeats-itself-yellow-journalism-in-a-modern-age/

            https://louralawrence.com/2016/08/04/great-expectations/

            Like

          5. One of many such examples would be Kevin Labby’s statement. He stated specifically that he believes and supports the women who have come forward.

            Again, Kevin was Tullian’s boss for a while. He was very close to Tullian and ended up firing him after discovering the things Tullian was doing. He knows these victims and stood beside them.

            There was a blogger at Christ Hold Fast – Dom – who has always been antagonistic to me. He openly called me a liar for these pieces. He then did his own research, found them to be true, and removed all of Tullian’s content from his blog as a result.

            Even Chris Rosenborough – a well known and staunch Tullian supporter called Tullian to repentance. They didn’t just issue statements saying “we want nothing to do with this.” They said explicitly that Tullian was in sin and needed to repent.

            And even Tullian’s own brother and uncle came forward with GRACE and made a statement that they believe and support the victims.

            I didn’t say the CA piece was analysis. But the inclusion of victim data – which is taken at face value from conversations which occurred only between pastors and the victims and represent only the victim’s side of the story – exists for a reason.

            Perhaps we have different concepts of language theory, but there is no such thing as neutral and purely informative communication. Every author chooses specific things to include to drive a point they want to make.

            An author could be just as “informative” but leave out the part from the victims or information from the police. They could include only the church information and still be reporting the facts, but the omission of data which casts the churches testimony into doubt would also raise questions about the intent of that author.

            And as I said, my piece and CA’s aren’t identical. They are of distinctly different genres. My piece is unapologetically analytical. I provide information to show how pastoral abuse works and the says in which manipulation occur.

            There are easily a dozen more stories which follow the exact same narrative and pattern, who told their stories independently and had no knowledge of each other.

            And there are persons, anonymous sources, who have seen Tullian do this to multiple women and who have seen direct evidence of these actions.

            This was never meant to be merely informative news. It wasn’t purported as a neutral account of what happened.

            You can believe me or not, but these pieces were well researched and carefully vetted by numerous sources who were close enough to Tullian to verify the information provided.

            Now in terms of the blogs you listed, I strongly resent any indication I run a tabloid. I do not public things simply to be sensational, and the amount of content that goes unpublished because I know it meets no standard of reasonable evidence is large.

            There are Christian abuse advocacy sites which publish every bit of speculation and theory that comes across to their attention. And I agree that doing such undermines credibility for those sites.

            But I offer careful analysis of both theological issues and real life events. They are opinions, and I make that clear. But there is no lack of integrity in carefully researching data and offering one’s own opinion.

            Also, the amount of content that is never published because it would endanger victims and cause them further harm is also significant. I make almost no money from my blog, I have made less than $50 in two years and that doesn’t even cover costs of owning my own domain and keeping my technology in working order.

            So the accusation that I am running some sensationalist money-making machine is offensive to me. It reminds me that so many have little concept of the effort and personal cost of writing this content but are quick to assume it all comes of a desire for publicity.

            You can believe what you want, but you’re right when you say that is not going to convince me that you have a legitimate point.

            Nor is your second piece on “blamers.” Plenty of people offer reactive analysis for sure. But – for instance – your analysis of John Crawford’s death fails to consider even the basic reality that police killing of black men far outpaces the public execution of any other race. Nor do you consider how incidents of white men with real guns, pointing them at police and firing them have not ended in the gunman being killed.

            It was not “blaming” to protest that incident, that incident represents a history of excessive violence against black men by law enforcement that has spanned the history of our nation.

            It represents a systemic issue. And the fact that you reduce issues as this to a culture of “blaming” doesn’t exactly commend your critique as neutral analysis.

            A so-called neutral report of events must always come alongside other persons who offer analysis an critique larger systemic issues where they exist.

            My work falls into the latter, and I am both aware of and fine with that.

            I see no benefit of this conversation continuing. This isn’t merely a disagreement on method. We clearly have vastly different politics and opinions on language theory.

            You are entitled to your opinion, I respect that, but honestly the more you say and the more you send links, the less convinced I am by the argument.

            Peace to you.

            Like

          6. Why did you engage me? I thought it was to learn, but it clearly is to prove your superiority. Are you even reading what I’ve written, because you aren’t even paying attention to what you have written. “I didn’t say the CA piece was analysis.”

            From your second recent reply, “I don’t see much point in doing this all day, but do want to offer a quick counterpoint.
            The Appeal’s article is an analysis. It is a genre difference.”

            I’m not wasting any more time in pointless debate. You can’t argue with a person whose “right”.

            Like

          7. I did not catch my typo. It was supposed to say “isn’t” an analysis. And the rest of the comment makes it clear that is what I meant.

            But I do understand why that would cause confusion, I apologize for the typo.

            I’m not sure why my comment would come away as superior, it is a difference of opinion rooted in a number of things – and your articles showed that the difference wouldn’t be resolved, as the gap is simply too wide.

            Your entitled to your views, I do happen to think they are wrong. That needn’t result in a hierarchy of worth.

            I was being honest, your argument is growing increasingly unpersuasive, especially after the links you sent.

            So, again, I am sorry for not catching a typo and for the confusion my error called.

            Hope you have a nice night.

            Like

  5. i read this right after listening to a particular podcast, and there were resonances in both stories, and not in a good way. Link below:

    The presenter recommends listening to them in order, but I’ve linked them around the other way because the second episode describes patterns of behaviour that seem very similiar (the backstory is of a serial fraudster and bigamist). I think both are ultimately worth listening to.

    I just wonder if one of the failure modes for grace centre dead ministries is that manipulative individuals are able to hide within them.

    Like

  6. I spoke to Tullian briefly at that conference to thank him (gag) I wanted to believe the narrative he spun and I was so relieved to hear the gospel but, after reading and listening to more credible (and confessional) sources in the Reformed and Lutheran world I have learned that without repentance there is no gospel. What I was running from in evangelicalism was a mis understanding of repentance but, instead of going to the faint of repentance and forgiveness I just went over in the other evangelical ditch with Tullian… Honesly, I think all of evangelicalism is a disaster. Go find a church that actually teaches the creeds and their confessions. God help us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My husband and I were at Christ Hold Fast in Feb. of 2016 and Staci was helping him pass out his books at the book table. My husband (obviously more discerning than I) told me he was trouble with his tight jeans, v neck tee, surrounded by all his fan boys and girls. He also. Allows it that Staci wasn’t just a friend helping him out. He also was concerned about Tullians skin health due to the crazy tan lol. In all seriousness are the ministries of mockingbird and others like them shams like Tullian or were they duped as well? Tullian had a big platform with mockingbird at one time and hearing Paul Zahls name thrown in this mix breaks my heart.

    Like

        1. Mockingbird is named after a Derek Webb album. Derek is also a narcissistic abuser like Tullian, and has received continued support from Mockingbird folks. There must something in the DNA of Mockingbird that makes them narcissistic supply for guys like these.

          Like

    1. Robin, that’s hilarious–the tan, tight jeans, v neck, fan boys, gal pal… Beware of the pastor / rock star combo. [Gag.] I’ve never met the guy, thank God, but I visited CRPC once early in his ‘pastorship,’ because my aunt lives nearby. There was an adult baptism that day. I remember he said something stupid before he did the baptism. I was not impressed with his appearance, presentation, or words. Noticeable change from Dr. Kennedy, a true Christian. Like your husband, God has given me the gift of discernment. Tullian is as phony as they come, and Nate is right when he says that there is a systemic problem in Evangelicalism.

      Like

Thanks for taking the time to read and engage. I look forward to your feedback, I welcome any criticism. However, as my goal here is mutualy respectful, beneficial conversation, I only ask that we keep civility in mind with our words. Grace and Peace.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s