Tullian Tchividjian Stripped of Pastor Credentials; Continues Speaking Behind the Pulpits of Twitter and Facebook

Tullian Tchividjian is deposed from ministry by Presbytery; Tchividjian continues his social media platforms

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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).

It’s interesting to look at the Tweets before this announcement:

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Some have looked at Tullian’s statement and noticed that he blamed his wife for his own sexual infidelity. Will a remorseful person bring someone else into the equation while confessing their own sin? I’m not so sure of that. Additionally, it wasn’t Mr. Tchividjian who went to church leaders to confess his sin. Leaders went to him first. How long would it have taken for Tchividjian to fess up?

I imagine it would be very difficult to deal with a spouse’s infidelity. I get that. But what does repentance look like? Does repentance look different for a pastor than a congregant?  I think so – when looking at elder/overseer requirements we see in Scripture:

1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.

4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity

5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?) 1 Tim 3:1-5

Sexual infidelity by a pastor is not simply sin against Tullian’s wife, the other woman, his family, and extended family. Nope. It also extends to his church family and his 14,000 Facebook followers:

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And his social media mega church of 107,000 Twitter followers:

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If you were to look at his Twitter feed, you will see that many followers are looking forward to Tchividjian getting back behind the pulpit. He’s repented and God’s grace is sufficient. It’s all cool. Right?  Um, nope, I don’t think so.

When you sit in the pews following the teachings of someone you love, respect, and trust, and that trust is violated, there are consequences. There is much hurt and pain for all involved. It can rock someone’s faith. In fact, I would even go as far to say that Tchividjian’s sexual sin could be viewed as a form of spiritual abuse. He was in a position of trust over his congregation and he used it to his advantage for personal gain. Also, a reliable source has told me that the woman with whom he had the affair is also a member at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. A pastor who has a sexual relationship with a congregant is certainly spiritually abusing. It doesn’t matter if the relationship was “consensual,” he is in a position of trust and violated that trust. How tragically sad!

But what has Mr. Tchividjian been doing since confessing publicly and resigning? The very day the story went public, he was tweeting:

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He has tweeted nearly every day since his he resigned, sometimes two or three times a day. What about a time of reflection? What about a time of removing himself from social media so he can tend to the affairs (no pun intended) of his family? People are following his every tweet, hanging onto his words as if he is their pastor. He is using his Twitter feed in a way that still presents himself as a teacher/leader. He is also posting on Facebook. It’s business as usual:

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On the above Facebook post by Tchividjian, I noticed Christine Pack (former blogger at Sola Sisters) left comments specifically to Mr. Tchividjian. Her comments are excellent:

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Christine Pack rebukes Tullian Tchividjian

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As I mentioned earlier, here are the TT fans, quick to protect and defend him:

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Tullian Tchividjian, sexual infidelity, Coral Ridge,

Christine later responded:

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Did you read that last sentence?  “My summer pedicure lasted longer than his so-called repentance/restoration season. Indeed!

Christine references an article by Carl Trueman in the last Facebook comment. In that article, Trueman refers to solemn vows pastors take and repentance process:

Tchividjian is, or at least was, a Presbyterian pastor.  That binds him by solemn vow not simply to teach certain doctrines and to live in a certain way but also to act relative to his sin according to certain principles and processes.   When he finds himself delinquent in doctrine or life, he should report himself to his Presbytery and place himself under its discipline and pastoral care.

And:

His fellow Presbyters, not some life-coach to the Christian stars and least of all his Twitter followers, are the ones to lead him to repentance and to determine the passage back to Christian fellowship (though not, I believe, in the case of an adulterer ever back to a teaching or ruling office within the church).   Has Tchividjian followed this process?  He is bound by vow so to do and thus part of the evidence of a humble and contrite heart is precisely this submission to due process.

I looked up the PCA Book of Church Order and the specific processes mentioned by Trueman which would apply to Tchividjian Here are a couple important vows that Mr. Tchividjian must have taken in order to be a Presbyterian pastor:

Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?

Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?

There was an important development yesterday:

The South Florida Presbytery (SPF) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) voted at its meeting on August 11, 2015 to depose Tullian Tchividjian from the ministry. The PCA Book of Church Order (BCO) says that, “Deposition is the degradation of an officer from his office.” That is, the minister has his ordination credentials removed so that he no longer can perform the duties of a minister of the Gospel.

The Presbytery issued the following statement:

The South Florida Presbytery met for its regular stated meeting on August 11, 2015 and acted on a case concerning TE Tullian Tchvidjian. While Pastor Tullian Tchividjian was deposed of his pastoral credentials, the South Florida Presbytery is committed to continuing to offer him pastoral care. Our goal in doing this is to both protect the integrity of the Church from which his credentials were given while, at the same time, wrapping Tullian in the grace offered by Jesus Christ to all those who confess sin, pursue repentance and desire restoration (The PCA’s South Florida Presbytery Deposes Tullian Tchividjian from Ministry).

It’s not apparent that Tullian Tchividjian is under anyone’s counsel at this time. It’s highly doubtful that anyone would encourage Tchividjiain to be on social media right now. This whole situation is very sad.

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74 comments on “Tullian Tchividjian Stripped of Pastor Credentials; Continues Speaking Behind the Pulpits of Twitter and Facebook

  1. [Mod note: I’ve deleted this comment per request. There was confusion between Boz Tchividjian and his brother, Tullian Tchividjian.]

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  2. @100pinkapples, I think you might be confusing Tullian with his brother Boz who runs the organization G.R.A.C.E. specifically devoted to getting churches to deal with child sexual assault properly.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. @ Kbrightbill. Thank you! What a relief;) Sorry, I am dyslexic.

    Julie will you please delete my embarrassing post.

    Well if Boz is the one I am thinking of he is super impressive.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It struck me that much of T.T.’s words on Twitter sounded like a great pity party and only focused on himself. Even his followers talked of “his pain”. The pain of being found out? The pain of losing his (official) position? What about the pain he caused his wife, the pain he caused the other woman’s husband, and any children who might have been involved?

    The same people who stand ready to condemn atheists and Target are certainly to quick to forgive a “good teacher”!

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  5. Been reading, not commenting, but this post sparked my return! :^)

    After my offensive behavior over three years ago, I was shocked by how many people at church were eager to get me back in the pulpit again. I wasn’t a pastor and never wanted to be; but I was asked to preach on several occasions, and would bow to the pressure, even though I didn’t think I was gifted or “called” to do so.

    I believe in restoration, but I think the restoration referred to the in the NT is to fellowship, not to ministry. Every time someone brought up me preaching again I would say no. To me, and in the language of therapy, this was a minimizing of my actions. That is what I see in this particular case — people are minimizing Tullian’s offense. I think he may be, too.

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  6. He really needs to stop. It is not his place at this time to be saying public things for a number of reasons, and the fact that he is shows how little he really understands (or accepts) about the grace he speaks of. What he says about grace is correct, if you can separate the words from the person who said them and the context in which they were said, which you can’t. So he turns truth into a perverse thing, which tells me he is not really living in the place he says he is. The grace of God…teaches us to deny ungodliness, etc. He is not denying ungodliness. He is luxuriating in it because he thinks that is where grace is. It’s become a sort of excuse or an indulgence, like he stopped at the end of Romans 5 and won’t (can’t?) move on to Romans 6.

    Ironically, I think he is not hiding himself in God’s grace. I’m not sure he even believes his own tweets. If he was and did, he wouldn’t be saying so. He would entrust his reputation to God and let Him defend him (or not) as He wills. Instead he seems more like he’s using grace like a fig leaf in self protection and defense. The language of grace without trust in that grace. That’s what it looks like from here.

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  7. What I’m afraid he is unaware of is that time away from social media and spent understanding his actions (in genuine repentance) will only benefit him in Christ as well as others at a much later time, perhaps. He (as well as Mark Driscoll) appears to be shunning the long and thought-out repentance process. This was no mere owie; this was a devastating blow.

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  8. When Jimmy Swaggart got caught with a prostitute, his peers tried to hold him accountable. Jimmy suddenly felt Led to Plant a New Church where there was nobody to tell him “no”.

    TT is just pulling the 21st Century Social Media version of this.

    Oh, and Loura? I remember a study cited on one of these Spiritual Abuse blogs that the most common characteristic of a sociopath is the ability to throw a Pity Party and make others feel So So Sorry for the REAL Victim, Poor Poor ME.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. [Mod note: I’ve deleted this comment per request. There was confusion between Boz Tchividjian and his brother, Tullian Tchividjian.]

    The two “Unspellable T’s” are brothers?

    “You can choose your friends; you can’t choose your relatives.”
    — President Jimmy Carter regarding “Billygate”

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  10. “I’m actually hoping Tullian Tchividjian will write a book on what he has learned during this time.”

    Noooooo. Not another book. Do not capitalize on this failure by writing a book.

    I think people become addicted to having hoards of followers on social media. It’s hard to walk away from celebrity. Asking Tullian to refrain from social media is not denying him grace any more than his Presbytery is denying him grace by revoking his credentials.

    Tullian needs to concentrate his efforts on putting his family back together.

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  11. JA, is Tullian’s last name misspelled in the title? I think it’s missing the “d.” I almost copied it until I realized it was spelled differently later on. It’s not an easy name.

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  12. As a victim whose 20 marriage was destroyed by the philandering ways of a spouse, Mr. Tullian’s trite little Tweets about Grace have the same effect on me as ripping a gauzy bandage off an unhealed wound. I’m angry, sad, horrified all at once, and what his wife says and doesn’t say speaks volumes. Go home. Get a real job. Work on your life and heal. Truly heal. Seeing men like him in the pulpit only brings back all the pain, humiliation, embarrassment and shame of what I endured, and I’m a tough, gritty broad. This stuff takes years to work out. YEARS. Adultery is merely a symptom of more deeply rooted spiritual issues. What he needs to do is sit through support groups, read other people’s first hand experiences and Be.Still. This situation is NOT fixed overnight. It would behoove him to seek truly wise counsel, not go to those who tickle his ear.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. The tweets remind me of the following song lyrics:

    “Think you’re really righteous?
    Think you’re pure at heart?
    Well I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art.”

    From “Amish Paradise” by Weird Al Yankovic

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  14. As I was driving home from school, I was thinking about Tchividjian’s kids and the kids of the other woman. What do they think when they see their dad/pastor back in social media like this? Does he understand their pain? I just can’t imagine what this is doing to them.

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  15. The tweets remind me of the following song lyrics:

    “Think you’re really righteous?
    Think you’re pure at heart?
    Well I know I’m a million times as humble as thou art.”

    From “Amish Paradise” by Weird Al Yankovic

    From the rough streets of Lancaster, PA:

    Liked by 1 person

  16. JA, Good post.

    BeenThereDoneThat
    AUGUST 18, 2015 @ 10:25 AM
    Good comment.

    From the PCA’s Book of Church Order

    “In the restoration of a minister who has been deposed, it is the duty of the Presbytery to proceed with great caution.”

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  17. The reactions of the followers cited above to some reasonable and biblical advice from Ms Pack remind me of a story I once heard from a pastor friend. He was visiting some foreign country, backwater sort of place, and came upon a beaten wood statue near some small huts; he reached out and touched the old statue and suddenly an enraged old fellow came barrelling out of a hut literally screaming at him, going completely berserk. The pastor had unwittingly put his hands on the village’s idol.

    We need to learn to distinguish between followers of Jesus and those who make idols of men and doctrine. You will know the difference by their fruits.

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  18. I think he should just find a quiet place to sit and think as well as try to reconcile as much as possible. Maybe he would find this peace he seems to be seeking in social media, though that can be a very powerful and grace-filled venue such as this blog, PP and WW even these folks say seek it if you can within your own real world community.

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  19. Randy said,
    “I wonder if the very vocal and opinionated uncle Franklin has anything to say about this.”

    F. Graham is too busy policing Target for removing boy/girl signs from the toy aisles.

    This stuff about Tullian (not even going to try to type the last name) still being on social media reminds me of J D Hall and Mark Driscoll, people who worked as preachers who underwent huge scandals that showed their lack of qualifications to be pastors in the first place, but after taking a few months off, they get right back on social media or their blogs and keep doing Bible lessons or whatever.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I have always been very uncomfortable with Tullian and his popularity.He came off as immature and seeking celebrity. But his message of total cheap grace is what really put me off. I think he is in a conundrum now because of it. It certainly was not grace he was practicing when he threw his wife under the bus in a public statement. So am I to understand the cheap grace plays well on stage but not in real life?

    Are we now seeing what it was all really about? He cannot go away because, like most of them, he is addicted to the limelight. And his focus on cheap grace will resonate with some people. It certainly has not been a good thing for his family.
    Cheap grace is a wonderful thing for sadsacks, abusers, narcissists, etc…

    If there is one thing I have learned it is to not get caught up with celebrity xtianity. If you cannot call up your pastor and borrow his lawnmower when yours breaks down, you might want to rethink where you are spending your time and money. It is one thing to recommend a real serious scholar to listen to on a doctrine or issue but quite another to promote or follow a celebrity xtian. Or someone seeking to be in the limelight. The thing is can we tell?

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  21. And this idea of him finding a quiet place to reflect misses the whole point. He cannot afford to be forgotten. Celebrity Christians build their brand being known and having followers. Right now his social media followers are all he has of that world. The tactical mistake he made was hooking up with the Presbyterians who have denominational rules about such things. My guess is he was not well liked enough to flout the rules. If he had not taken over such a church in such a denomination to get the assets/platform, he would have had more power and he would be on paid sabbatical. Still, you have to wonder if he had a golden parachute.

    But one thing I have noticed out there is that a pastor can protect child molesters, discipline innocent people but never ever can they have sexual sin. That is a career killer. And rightly so. I just wish abuse of children and protecting those that do, etc, was considered the same way.

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  22. Never forget to intercede in prayer for people. I am thankful for my church family and 2 other churches who prayed and who showed me true Christian love during a similar time in my life.

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  23. I posted this on Tullian’s FB page and I will post it here. In his book, “Jesus +Nothing = Everything” Tullian expresses that in regard to the Gospel “my focus has become myopic”. Perhaps more myopic than he realizes. Paul David Tripp, Steve Brown, and Elyse Fitzpatrick have spun off their own organization and the conferences will continue as usual. Tullian has self-blinded himself to see only what he wants to see. Do his fans follow him because what he says makes them feel good?

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=282 [ja fixed link]

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  24. Jesus +Nothing = Everything is the name of his book!? I didn’t realize that, and was confused by his tweet in which he said the title, but didn’t make it sound like a title. Tacky, tacky man to be marketing his book in the middle of all this!

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  25. Darrell, that is a good point. I’m glad you had supportive people to come alongside you.

    What do you think about Tullian using his social media platform now, having experienced something similar?

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  26. Carmen, thanks for the link.

    That Luther has it right, and Tchividjian has it wrong, is evident from Hebrews 6:1, where the saints are urged to move beyond the foundation of repentance and faith, and on to personal holiness: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” Yet that, it seems, is precisely where Tchividjian would have us remain. His myopia prevents him from seeing beyond laying the foundation over, and over again—missing Hebrews 6:1, and overturning Luther in the process. – See more at: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=282#sthash.nsrCCN7D.dpuf (emphasis Kaufman’s)

    Yes. Romans 6 and Hebrews 6.

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  27. Maybe these are not teaching tweets, but more of what is coming from contemplating the situation. “Welcome to the valley of the shadow of death” could possibly be how he feels, I felt like I was there after my world collapsed and I could only see as far as my hand. I didn’t have Facebook back then and it was probably a good thing because of what I might have posted. If i went thru it nowadays I wouldn’t post how hurt I was because I wouldn’t want my kids to hate her for hurting me. If his wife is gone and no one is home, he has time. I used to roam walmart and home depot aimlessly. I met other men doing the same thing for the same reason, because there was no one to go home to go home to.

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  28. Tullian was deposed on August 11, 2015. On August 10, 2015 Tullian posted a picture of his daughter, smiling, overlooking the beach from the balcony of where he lives: “my date for the next few days…the beautiful @ gennarutht. On his daughter’s twitter feed she posted a picture on August 10, 2015 of Tullian driving with her in the front seat : “Marco Island bound with @Pastor Tullian. Cute duck face dad 🙂 According to his twitter feed his son with #babymason ( grandson) visit quite often. Did anyone listen to that recent podcast? His voice and tone sounded exactly like it always did….and Tullian spent most of the podcast talking about what he always talked about in the past: his childhood, the beginning of his years at Coral Ridge…only the very last few minutes of the podcast were spent talking about his recent life. His tone of voice did not change.

    Personal disclosure here: I lived with my husband of 24 years for a full year, knowing that he was going to file for a divorce. I went to 13 weeks of DivorceCare before he even filed for the divorce. He left and moved to another state to live with her ( his highschool sweetheart he located on Classmates.com) before the divorce was final, returning in two months to get more of his things and sign the divorce decree. Yes, adultery had occurred. I still wanted him back…I even took his hand while we walked to the court house to file the divorce decree.

    When that divorce decree arrived in the mail I fell apart. I didn’t open it…I didn’t open it until I had to two years later at the DMV to prove the car was mine. For six months I didn’t get out of bed except to buy enough food to barely stay alive. I lost 40 pounds. I couldn’t stop crying, and “Help me” were the only words I could pray. A Walgreens is located directly across the street and I daily had to fight the thought of “how many pills would it take”? I was completely alone…not one person to call or talk to for support. For 24 years it had just been him and I. After six months, when I tried to leave, I would have a panic attack just going outside my front door.

    Maybe Tullian will fall apart later…but right now his behavior appears superficial. Has he surrounded himself with only “yes” men? He’s so confused on “grace, grace, grace”. He needs help on many levels, and I doubt he realizes that. One thing he should face…he is no longer “Pastor Tullian”.

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  29. Carmen, I am so sorry. I can empathize a little. You are much more gracious than I am. I don’t know if TT is confused or just arrogant.

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  30. Does anybody know if they’re still separated?

    At this point, I’m not as certain of the impossibility of him ever returning to any kind of ministry—provided the two were reconciled, and receiving long term pastoral care by the appropriate officers in the PCA. I do agree about him shutting up for a good while, and staying out of ministry a lot longer than that.

    On the other hand; if a divorce should occur, as much as I’ve liked the guy, I can’t justify letting him back into any kind of formal ministry. At that point I’d rather see him make a permanent change of career. Ditto for remaining legally married, but effectively separated.

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  31. I hate the phrase “cheap grace”, it wasn’t cheap, it cost Christ his life and that is what Christianity and Christ’s death accomplished for us, “cheap grace.” That is the whole message of the Bible.

    The truth of scripture is that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He is a restorer not a destroyer of those who are truly sorry. I say this in that I am glad that Tullian is talking. He is right to say the things he is saying. He is truly apologetic, and in God’s eyes, his debt has already been paid through the Son. I am grateful for God’s grace and Tullian is speaking it, has spoken it and it is according to the Bible. That is what life in Christ is. No matter what we do, we are right in God’s eyes because He sees Christ.

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  32. I have had some conversations about this privately and I honestly winced when I read what Christine said responding to Tullian’s social media use. I felt it came out smart but if I were on the receiving end it would have hurt in a harmful way.

    I think there are two things here that make me hesitant to come down hard on what is really going on. One is that I do not know if we know enough of the dynamics of the affairs that occurred, and we are only hearing from the public figure not the others involved. The other issue is that Tullian did seem to imply he was going off social media but was encouraged by many not to do so- I am thinking particularly of this post: http://www.wadeburleson.org/2015/06/fight-it-back-tullian-tchividjian-this.html .

    My personal opinion is that anyone in his situation should stay off social media while they work through it, but I also think although I do not disagree with this article, there are some factors that make me wonder what to think. It just doesn’t seem so clear-cut. There must be consequences to Tullian’s sin- he was to be “above reproach”, and I believe it was a correct decision to strip him of pastoral duties.

    He would be wise to change his twitter handle because it does give off the impression he still sees himself as a pastor, which is unhelpful. It bothers me that he has not, but my other niggling feeling (not excuse) is his identity is still bound up in it, and it may take time to realize he needs to let the pastor handle drop and be ordinary. However, no excuses, that’s part of the consequences.

    Bear with me, I’m thinking out loud here, but what I’m saying is this is a sad time, and I do not think that repentance in increasingly internet-connected times is necessarily proved by being on or off social media. I think perhaps he took some well-meant advice. I do think from the sounds of it that he may be closer to divorce than reconciliation, and I also think part of the problem is such speculation. The family really does need privacy at this time.

    It’s still not possible to be messy publicly in Christian circles. I am absolutely not minimizing or excusing any kind of abuse. What makes all this so complicated for me is that I do not, for example, get the vibe that Tullian wants to continue in that sin, and I do not know that he is fighting to keep his ministerial credentials, so I’m just sitting here thinking, what is it that his wife disagrees with him on, and how can we be supportive of any of his family members who may read our words? Simply, I have found the online discussion and dissection of his church discipline- both the extremes of support and of disdain of him- rather disheartening. Hope that makes some sense.

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  33. By way of embracing cheap grace Debbie Kaufman says, “The truth of scripture is that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    Well, yes, but how does the cleansing take place? It is accomplished through the administration of fire and brimstone, metaphorically speaking of course. It is accomplished by actual discipline (that’s in Hebrews somewhere, if memory serves). Those who embrace cheap grace, as appears to be the case with T Tchividjian, tend to trumpet the theological fiction of imputed righteousness. Our God does not impute righteousness, He imparts it. He imparts it through discipline.

    Many are called. Few are chosen. I tremble.

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  34. “Well, yes, but how does the cleansing take place? It is accomplished through the administration of fire and brimstone, metaphorically speaking of course. It is accomplished by actual discipline (that’s in Hebrews somewhere, if memory serves). Those who embrace cheap grace, as appears to be the case with T Tchividjian, tend to trumpet the theological fiction of imputed righteousness. Our God does not impute righteousness, He imparts it. He imparts it through discipline.”

    This. is. it.

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  35. The charge of imputed righteousness being “legal fiction” is the Roman Catholic position. Don’t confuse the work of the Second and Third Persons of the Trinity. Christ’s work was substitutionary. It was done for us–without our participation. We had no part in that righteousness. Furthermore, that work, being complete, is the only ground of our acceptance with God. The same thing cannot be said about the work of the Holy Spirit. His work is not a substitutionary work. Being a work within us, we do have a vital part in the new life of obedience which he inspires us to live. Furthermore, his work is not yet complete, and for some it has not even started. It can never be a ground of our acceptance with God.

    In fact, the work of the Holy Spirit is dependent upon and subordinate to the work of Jesus Christ. By his obedience and death Christ fulfilled all righteousness on behalf of his people and gave the gift of the Spirit to them. What Christ has done, therefore, is the full Gospel.

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  36. Hi Carmen, Not all of us take that position and it is perfectly ok if we disagree on the process. Some of us believe we have the ability to “respond” to the free gift of salvation for which we cannot earn on our own. But we also believe we have the responsibility to seek to live out the fruits of the spirit and mature in our walk with Christ. Not an easy thing at all. The cross/resurrection go together. Resurrection is about our ability to have “new life” and be “new creatures in Christ”. Evil no longer has dominion over us.

    Some of us do not believe that we remain wicked because righteousness was imputed to us as part of the deal. That, to me, IS cheap grace. Some believe that Jesus hung on the cross so that constant evil deeds are not counted against us as we claim to be believers. That is also an indicator of cheap grace. Nor do some of us believe we need to see a priest to confess sins and do penance. If believers, we are a “priest” and have one mediator, Jesus Christ. 1st John talks about walking in the light. This denotes a “lifestyle” that is striving to be like Christ. Not perfect but seeking to be mature in Christ. It is something that Christ equips us to do if we are seeking His wisdom. As believers, the more we grow, the less we should be sinning. However, I understand that some believe we are born with “imputed sin” so that makes this conversation even more difficult. As in that belief system, our very existence as a human made in the image of God, is sin itself.

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  37. Lydia,
    I don’t intend to debate you ( because that’s not what SSB is here for). I’ve read your comments here and at other blogs. Don’t make me name the blogs.

    In the theology of the Roman Catholic Church the personal righteousness of the believer is put in the place of the vicarious righteousness of Christ. The Reformers were not against personal righteousness ( as they were charged by Rome with cheap grace), but because they were against putting anything in the place of Christ’s righteousness. This doctrine of justification has disappeared in most Protestant churches. The fact is that Protestantism today stands much closer to the Roman Catholic tradition than to the Reformers. Christians have been declared righteous…not made righteous.

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  38. Another thing Debbie K says is “No matter what we do, we are right in God’s eyes because He sees Christ.” Where is that written? If true, then one would have to acknowledge that when God Saw T Tchividjian in the very act of adultery (to which he has now admitted), He saw Jesus committing adultery. I don’t think so.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. “Christians have been declared righteous…not made righteous.”

    Wow Carmen, The first part of your comment sounds strangely threatening. It is perfectly ok if you disagree with me. It perfectly ok with me if you name any blogs where I comment. Why the implied threat? To what end?

    I think where we disagree is in what being declared righteous, means. I am one that does not believe we can separate beliefs from behavior over the long term of “walking in the light”. We are told to imitate Christ, be perfect like our heavenly father is perfect, walk in the light, sin is lawlessness, etc, etc. The goal is, I thought, to reflect Christ back out into the world.

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  40. I should have put “don’t make me name the blogs” 😦

    Lydia, justification is being declared righteous…not made righteous. It’s a legal declaration. No need to discuss sanctification if justification isn’t biblical. Lost is lost.

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  41. You are more than welcome to mention blogs where I have commented. I don’t understand the threat. Or the personal way in which you have approached our disagreement. We disagree- it is that simple.

    I don’t buy into those sort of cut and dried “legal” arguments except where it concerns the law. and I have never once said Justification isn’t biblical. So now I am very confused. I believe justification is for all who respond to the sacrifice who “repent and believe”. I believe sanctification is how we live out what we believe and our repentance ( metanoia a “from….to” process of becoming conformed to Christ.)

    We don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I am not offended just confused at your approach to me.

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  42. Lydia,
    You don’t buy into justification by faith alone…which is a legal declaration of the imputed righteousness of Christ. “Made righteous” is Roman Catholic tradition. There’s no need for me to discuss sanctification if you don’t buy into a legal declaration. Glad to hear you are not offended. Yes, I understand you are confused about what I have said.

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  43. “You don’t buy into justification by faith alone”

    But I do. Evidently the terminology we are using is not communicating well with each other. You seem to bring a Catholic vs Protestant dichotomy to our discussion. I subscribe to neither.

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  44. Carmen S.,

    Why must Lydia (or myself for that matter) agree with your understanding of justification before sanctification can be addressed? Lets say that I am as ill informed as the child who has no initial understanding of how s/he came to birth, and who later comes to believe s\he was delivered by a stork. Is such a child somehow disqualified from being nursed and nurtured and trained up to be the person s/he was created to be? Of course not! Neither does a supposed misunderstanding of the nature of justification disqualify me nor any other supposedly foolish person from the pursuit of the fullness of all that it means to be a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father.

    Yet from what I have seen, T Tchividjian and other proponents of what Bonhoeffer named cheap grace seem stuck on questions relating to the process by which New Birth takes place. Being stuck on the question, as it were, whether the stork is real, they neglect to pursue maturity (i.e. sanctification). Had Tchividjian not held so tightly to only the promises of saving grace, had he seen the necessity of pursuing maturity, he might–just might–not have fallen.

    How much better to set aside all these arguments over the definitions of words, that we may discover and come to live whatever it means to be formed into the actual image of Jesus!

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  45. Lydia,

    Perhaps I am a heretic. Certainly I embrace the truth of justification by faith, but not by faith alone. “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24 ESV). But lets say that James and I are both heretics regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That surely did not preclude James, and it does does not preclude me, from the possibility of making progress in the quest for greater actual–not merely imputed–Christ-likeness.

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  46. Gary. We are covered by Christ’s righteousness not ours. He paid the debt for our sin, past, present and future at the Cross. When God sees us He sees Christ’s righteousness and the fact that we put our faith in Christ is all that is required. For by grace are you saved through faith..not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8&9.

    Justification means the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.
    “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26.

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  47. Gary, Lydia: You do realize that you are requiring others to do what you say you yourselves don’t want and that is too live up to expectations you nor no one cannot meet. That is why Christ came to free us from the Law, not to bind us into things no one can possibly do. Not even the Israelites in the OT could do it. It’s why they had to keep being punished, but then Christ came, the veil was torn and the Law was no longer in force. We do good because we love the One who came for us and died in our place.

    According to scripture, the Pharisees stressed the Law as a work thing, but not even they could keep it. I know I can’t live up to all that you seem to expect, and that is where the abuse begins in the churches. The very thing you say you are against.

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  48. 2 Corinthians 5:21: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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  49. “Gary, Lydia: You do realize that you are requiring others to do what you say you yourselves don’t want and that is too live up to expectations you nor no one cannot meet.”

    You know what this means, then, Gary. You and I are predestined to have affairs. We cannot possibly live up to the expectation of fidelity to another.

    I fully expect a lecture on sin leveling to come next with accompanying proof texts read through the determinist filter…..all sins are the same. No Holy Spirit needed with this perspective.

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  50. “Perhaps I am a heretic. Certainly I embrace the truth of justification by faith, but not by faith alone. “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24 ESV). But lets say that James and I are both heretics regarding the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That surely did not preclude James, and it does does not preclude me, from the possibility of making progress in the quest for greater actual–not merely imputed–Christ-likeness.”

    But you forgot that “faith” is imputed you!. It is not YOU having faith. It is God forcing you to have faith and it is called a “gift”. (Never mind the salvation is a gift) You don’t have to “do” anything in response because well….you can’t!. You don’t need to “repent and believe” because Jesus is doing all that for you. He just said that to people for some reason.

    The problem with this whole position is really dualism masquerading as Christian doctrine which was passed down from Greek Pagan Philosophy through mostly Augustine and Neo Cal thinking is full of it. It is also present in more subtle forms in most Protestant traditions. Actual behavior was considered something to be taken seriously not only in Judaism (I feel like I have to remind the Neo Cals Jesus was a real Jew) but also in Christianity. It is the doctrine of a “get out of trouble free card for horrible behavior because you are horrible, too”.

    There really is no common sense in it because the relationship between God and His creation in that thinking contains very little free will– except to sin.

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  51. Debbie K says “Justification means the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God.” She supports this assertion with a proof text, but the proof text only works if you tautologically apply an interpretation that assumes the validity of the assertion the text supposedly proves. Well, here is my understanding of the text:

    “But now a righteousness [actual compliance with God’s perfect will] from God, apart from law, has been made known [revealed and made actually, experientially available], to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness [actual compliance with God’s perfect will] from God comes through faith in [trusting obedience to] Jesus Christ to all who believe [accept, place their hope in, and obey Him]. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of [do not quite attain to] the glory of God, and are justified [made to actually comply with God’s perfect will] freely by his grace [unearned, though not unconditional, favor] through [as the actual, imparted–not imputed–outworking of] the redemption [full, experiential restoration] that came by [through the effective agency of] Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in [trusting, obedient appropriation of the power made available through the shedding of] his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies [imparts actual, lived-out righteousness in] those who have faith in [trust and obey] Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26.

    So which is it? Is our God reduced to resorting to the fiction of merely imputing an unrealized righteousness, as Debbie K would have us read the text, or does this text celebrate the power of God to impart actual righteousness in His image bearers? I will go with the reading that gives the greater glory to our Heavenly Father and to His Son.

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  52. Lydia: You can call it forcing if you so choose, I have no problem with that and am thankful that God changed my heart, forcing me to choose Christ or the alternative would be a future of hell. And no it doesn’t make sense, thankfully God operates void of common sense. It is beyond our comprehension.

    If all you see is the book of James, you have missed the whole message of the Bible. Scripture interprets scripture.

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  53. “If all you see is the book of James, you have missed the whole message of the Bible. Scripture interprets scripture.”

    Except that James, apparently, need not be considered when it comes to Scripture interpreting Scripture.

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  54. “If all you see is the book of James, you have missed the whole message of the Bible. Scripture interprets scripture.”

    Of course that is “all I see”. (sighing sarcasm) But you are in good company as the Reformer Luther wanted to take the book of James out of the NT. It did not fit his deterministic interpretations, either.

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  55. “And no it doesn’t make sense, thankfully God operates void of common sense. It is beyond our comprehension.”

    Again, Luther said reason is a whore. But God said through Isaiah:

    7 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

    18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

    19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

    Now why would he send a message to do that which THEY COULD NOT DO? Learn to do well?

    And yes, it is beyond my comprehension that God DAMNS some people and “elects” some for salvation before they were born and before the fall. I cannot comprehend such a cruel monster to worship.

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  56. It would seem that the following verses have been excised from Scripture by those who argue for an arbitrary and limited atonement:

    Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for ALL men. (NASB reads “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”)

    1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall ALL be made alive

    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for ALL people (Gk., YLT & NASB “to all men),

    Romans 3:22b-24 For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Note that, not only have all sinned, but also all are justified)

    John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the WORLD!

    John 12:47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the WORLD.

    2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the WORLD to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

    1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.

    I believe, but have not confirmed, that the above Scriptures are from ESV.

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  57. Pingback: Tullian Tchividjian is Back, Fully Endorsed by His Pastor, Kevin Labby | Spiritual Sounding Board

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