Several More Pastors and Leaders Call Tullian Tchividjian to Repent

Today, 12/5/2016, eight pastors and leaders, who self-identified as friends of Tullian Tchividjian, issued the following statement:

Dear Friends:

We join with others in expressing our shared grief regarding these latest allegations, as well as our thankfulness for the courageous women who came forward to tell their stories. We join our prayers together that they will receive the care and support that they need to heal and move forward in their lives.

In the wake of the initial revelation in June of 2015 that Tullian Tchividjian had engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship,[1] a group of pastors and friends reached out to him in accordance with scripture’s clear admonition in Galatians 6:1–2:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

In the months that followed, we were encouraged that Tullian seemed committed to walking a path of healing and renewal through repentance under the authority of his church of membership. However, later disclosures, and these most recent allegations, cast grave doubts over the sincerity of this commitment.

Inasmuch as Tullian Tchividjian has habitually and impenitently used his public platform, his family’s good name, and the name of Christ for his own selfish ends,[2] we believe that he has disqualified himself from any form of public vocational ministry.

For the sake of his eternal soul, we implore Tullian Tchividjian to repent of his wickedness and demonstrate his repentance by submitting himself to the leadership of his church of membership, pursuing forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation with those whom he has sinned against.

We send our plea to Tullian in a spirit of gentleness and with broken hearts.

May Christ have mercy.

Pastor R.J. Grunewald
Pastor Kevin Labby[3]
Pastor Matt Popovits
Pastor Donovan Riley
Pastor Chris Rosebrough
Pastor Scotty Smith[4]
Paul David Tripp
Mrs. Elyse Fitzpatrick[5]
Mrs. Kimm Crandall

I will be honest, this is a bit bittersweet.  I am thankful these persons have taken a stand, and greatly appreciate the validation such a statement offers to the allegations these women have brought against Tullian.  I have had conversations with some of these persons, and have no doubt of their sincerity here.

However, the statement also leaves me with certain concerns.

  1.  Some of the persons on this list have been openly antagonistic towards those who have been highlighting Tullian’s abuses for some time.  They have sought to discredit both the victims and their advocates, and they owe Tullian’s victims a public apology.  I hope this statement marks a genuine shift in the narrative (finally!) toward believing and supporting those accusing Tullian.
  2. In the past, Tullian has been allowed to manipulate his way out of the task of genuine repentance.  It is my hope these persons will stop at allowing Tullian to simply say “I’m sorry.” and hold him accountable to the difficult process of confession and true repentance outside the public eye.
  3. Paul Tripp has contributed significantly to enabling Tullian’s abuses.  If he is sincere in this statement, he also needs to issue a personal statement taking ownership of the hurt his own actions have caused.
  4. Many of these persons are associated with the Presbyterian Church in America (see here for one of many accusastions that the PCA protects abusers),  The Gospel Coalition, and Sovereign Grace Churches, it is my hope that finally recognizing Tullian’s deceptions will lead them to question the injustices occurring in other arenas in which they are involved.
  5. I hope that this statement will not lead anyone to think that the alleged abuses were simply “actions” which occurred in an arena isolated from Tullian’s theology.  As has been argued here, Tullian’s theology was carefully crafted to groom persons to be abused by him.

There are difficult questions that need to be asked, and changes that need to be made.  I hope this statement marks the beginning of such changes, and not simply lip-service (from certain persons) to a cause once the evidence became too insurmountable to ignore.

 

+++Cover photo is Tullian’s Facebook profile picture as of 12/5/2016+++

[1] Let it be clear, it is my considered opinion that the phrasing “innappropriate sexual relationship” serves to minimize the alleged abuses. Tullian is accused of clergy sex abuse, as well as emotional, spiritual, and financial abuses, against multiple persons.

[2] Again, I feel that the phrasing here minimizes the depths of Tullian’s lies, and the many lives he has ruined.  I encourage anyone who has not already to read the links provided here and the analysis of Tullian’s own public statement here.

[3] Labby has offered a previous statement on behalf of his session, also calling Tullian to full repentance.

[4] Warren Throckmorton indicates that Scotty Smith has since asked him name be removed from this letter.  Reasons have not been disclosed at this time.

[5] While I am producing this statement word for word from here, I am forced to wonder why the two women feature a “Mrs.” before their names, while Paul Tripp – who is not assigned the official title of pastor – is not equally assigned a “Mr.”

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Several More Pastors and Leaders Call Tullian Tchividjian to Repent

  1. I noticed Steve Brown is not on this list. Plus Lauren R.E. Larkin is still posting on his website as of two days ago. Seems highly hypocritical to me. Steve Brown is the most culpable “celebrity pastor” out there who actually knew of Tullian’s first affair and chose to do nothing about it. Perhaps he’s big enough, with a national radio show, to ignore it?

    There are several people on this list I’ve never heard of but instead of posting about these people who appear to at least be trying to do what is right why don’t we call out Brown and others who have remained silent?

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    1. Robert, if you read through my littany of posts, you’ll notice I have called out Brown. I called him out in March, and again recently in a non-Tullian related post on Evangelicalism as a whole.

      Also, Lauren’s blog is hosted by Key Life. This is something I am well aware of and has never been hidden. She agreed to help with this project precisely because she has connections to groups such as Mockingbird and Key Life. She wanted to help lend her voice to this issue, because she has serious issues with the ties between these organizations and Tullian.

      Also, something to keep in mind. Often there are workings behind the scenes when bloggers write about these things. I am not able to write everything I know at this time, but I can assure you, I am not giving Brown a pass and the absence of his name in this discussion is glaring and damning.

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      1. I appreciate you posting my comment. I had doubts that it actually would be posted. Thank you!

        I have a couple more comments.

        You say “Often there are workings behind the scenes when bloggers write about these things.” Could it also be the people on this statement are doing the same? You assume to read into their statements as if they aren’t also “working behind the scenes”.

        You also say “Some of the persons on this list have been openly antagonistic towards those who have been highlighting Tullian’s abuses for some time”.

        Aren’t these same women who have come forward also people who were “openly antagonistic” towards those who have been highlighting Tullian’s abuses? They were conned by Tullian to go after people calling him out. You can find several posts on Twitter by Sara Taras and others of the “gospel posse” where they use f-words and other attacks against Julie Anne etc. only a few months ago. These women were perhaps “duped” the same way these ministry leaders where but here we assume they knew and protected Tullian with knowledge of his abuses. I seriously doubt it. You assume the worse of these people while accepting these testaments of others. Tullian appears to be the ultimate example of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He has lied to and deceived all.

        I pray (literally) that you will realize these leaders have done something brave and in no way are defending or accepting of Tullian’s behavior just like those brave women in the posts that have been published.

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        1. Actually, I’m not assuming they weren’t duped. But the people of the Gospel Posse I know that no longer defend Tullian – Sarah Taras for instance – have offered apologies to people for their behavior.

          This statement is a good place to start, but it refuses to call it what it is – abuse. The wording of this statement entirely minimizes what Tullian has done – see in contrast the statement from GRACE.

          Kevin Labby, for instance, has gone out of his way to both publicly and privately reconcile with persons whom his words and actions hurt. Kevin also publicly thanked me and agreed with my critique of this statement.

          Conversely, Paul Tripp has a history of backing abusive pastors, then jumping ship when the going gets rough. Regardless of what Tullian told him, his public statement regarding their marriage was unprofessional and in poor form. He owes a public apology to Kim for those actions.

          And Chris has published openly dishonest materials. I recently pointed out to him he had a post claiming he had never defended Tullian before the events of March, 2016 ** Correction he wrote a post in March, 2016, claiming he didn’t defend Tullian before being hired at Willow**. Then I pointed out to him two posts before those events – one in June of 2015 – defending Tullian. He hasn’t been forthright throughout his defense of Tullian, he ought to be at this point.

          He owes apologies, just as the people I work with have offered them both publicly and privately, to those he called liars and maligned openly – many of whom never defended Tullian.

          The statement offers validation to my work, it would be easy to pretend there are no issues with it and leave it be. But the statement strikes me as self-serving and behalf of some (not all) of the persons signing. I would be remiss to ignore that for the purpose of self benefit, especially when victims I talk to regularly expressed their own dissatisfaction to me along similar lines.

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        2. Perhaps the question ought to be, which of the persons criticized do you know personally? To which are you privy to the behind the scenes workings? It seems you either have info, which is all well and good, or you are offering hypotheticals.

          Since I have my ear to the ground in multiple arenas, I would likely know of any apologies made by these persons. But perhaps I have missed something.

          Also, to be clear, when I asked Chris publicly about his contradictory posts, and whether he had offered any public apology for calling victims liars, he never answered but did delete his Tullian resources from his sight.

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          1. Also, to correct an error in my above comment, because it is important to note one’s errors. I put the date on which Chris wrote the post in question March, 2016, when he claimed he didn’t defend before he was hired at Willow Creek. I reworked my comment a couple times before posting, and apparently didn’t realize I kept the date of the post instead of changing it to the date he was hired. I apologize for that oversight.

            So, to offer corrective and the rephrase as I meant to post the first time:

            Chris claimed he never defended Tullian before he was hired at Willow Creek, but there are posts from June, 2015, before that hiring, where he is publicly defending Tullian.

            Again, part of civil discourse is owning one’s errors. I apologize.

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  2. I’m amused that the guys who were once duped by Tullian’s charms based on ‘private interaction’ (not to be confused with the term ‘primary source information’) are calling for his repentance. Ok, let’s go with this now and see how it will play out. Tullian says he is REALLY sorry and cries some tears and stuff. All these guys tell us he’s really truly repented, cross my heart and swear to die!

    Exactly how much credibility will such a pronouncement have? LOL

    Rosebrough in particular seems to think he’s the pope of the internet these days. I still remember back when he and Frank Turk were discussing coming up with some internet magisterium for discernment bloggers. That gave quite a few of us some good laughs.

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    1. I have had convos with a few of the persons on this list, and they have been fighting to expose and bring Tullian’s abuses to light in various venues.

      But Chris and Paul especially just seem to be trying to cover their butts and pretend nothing ever happened in the first place.

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      1. He does not come across as ashamed of all that he has done. Neither so the men that knew and said nothing. This speaks to a high degree of hard heartedness and God’s turning them over to spiritual judgements. This is very sad and disheartening.

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  3. I can’t help but wonder what is going on with Rod Rosenbladt, Mockingbird and Nadia Bolz-Weber – all people with whom Tullian has shared a stage in recent years, and who have been hugely influential on Tullian’s theology. What do they think? Mockingbird still has Tullian’s video up, though the ministry’s initial response to the first news of TT’s affair is gone.

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  4. I’d like to be encouraged by this move, but I’m afraid it is more likely to be motivated by the fact that there is (“adulterous”) sex involved, and so this scandal is harming the sacred cow of “christian marriage”. It seems that spiritual abuse, financial abuse – even sexual abuse of children – can be swept under the church rug. But sex which threatens the idol of marriage must be addressed… but only after strenuous attempts to discredit and silence the victims have failed 😦

    Maybe that sounds cynical, but it’s based on years of observation of the institutional church, as well as my own experience of abuse in the church. As I was told (after being advised to “submit or resign”), “it would be different if there’d been [sexual] impropriety involved”!

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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.

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