Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Discussion: “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Willow Creek, Liberate Network, Clergy Sex Abuse, Spiritual Abuse, Repentance, Grace


 

 

Hey friends (and welcome to new readers),

I am going to do something a little bit different. I suspect many are chomping at the bit to discuss the situation regarding Tullian Tchividjian, so I am throwing this post together quickly.

Blogger, Warren Throckmorton has been on top of the story, providing good factual information. Most of the information that he has posted, I have also heard, so I would trust his information as fact-checked. Here is Warren’s most recent article on the situation (as of this posting) which has been updated: Tullian Tchividjian Out at Willow Creek Presbyterian; Majority of Liberate Network Board Members Quit (UPDATED).

Christianity Today also has a report that, as far as I can tell in my quick reading, seems to be accurate. This article provides a good timeline of events with more background information which will fill in the gaps for people who might be new to the story, or could use a refresher: Tullian Tchividjian Fired by Church, Liberate Board Members Quit.

If you don’t have time to read those articles, I have borrowed two sentences from my friend, Michael Newnham’s brief summary at Phoenix Preacher so that I can hurry up and get to bed. Here’s Michael referring to Tullian:

He has been removed from his new job at Willow Creek Presbyterian Church and much of the Liberate Network board has resigned.

Both entities have received (or have been been forced to acknowledge) new information that could lead to new allegations about the defrocked pastor.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been in touch with quite a few people closely related to this sad story. I have wanted to do a blog post on the situation, but need to hold onto specific information because I am not free to release it.

I do not run my blog like the news media. My agenda here is always to defer to survivors first, and it is important that their privacy is respected. I also try to share pertinent information and analysis so that we can all learn from these painful stories. This kind of information is normally not included in news media. That’s fine — we both serve different purposes.

So, anyway, I’d like to use this post as a discussion post for the ongoing situation. I am finishing up “dead week” at school and will be pretty busy. If I hear of breaking news, I can update this article at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, we can use this as a place of discussion.

To any current or former Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church members or staff;  any Willow Creek folks; or anyone who has been affected in any way by this story, I would like to personally welcome you to Spiritual Sounding Board (SSB). SSB is an online community. Many of us (including me) have experienced harm at church by a pastor or church leader. We get it. This is a supportive community where you will be believed and encouraged. Feel free to jump on in and comment, share your experience, ask questions, etc.

The following comment came in on another blog post from Mrs. C. who apparently has some history at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC).  We can use it as a starting point.

Mrs. C.:  Coral Ridge had just lost their beloved Pastor, this was the only Pastor they had known for eons. They were in a vulnerable state that could easily be exploited. There was a huge wedge put in place between members when Tullian came on board. He demanded that people be loyal to him. Friends and family members were divided over it. Some stayed to try and make Coral great again. Others saw the handwriting on the wall and left forming their own church. The whole thing was sad, but I think if Dr. Kennedy had mentored his second string to take over the church, and it’s ministries, his death would not have left a large vacuum where a power struggle occurred. No one would have been able to exploit the situation and manipulate members’ emotions. There is a lesson for everyone in this. If we want our churches to be safe for all members I hope we learn it well. It is sad.

I have heard some of this story before. Not all were happy when Tullian Tchividjian came on board at CRPC. This could be true for many people when a beloved long-time pastor leaves for whatever reason. There is always an adjustment period.

But one sentence in the comment above alarmed me. Did you see it? This one:

***

“He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

***

This is obviously one person’s interpretation. However, in my discussions with a number of people connected with Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in the last two weeks, this was a noted common thread. Why would a pastor demand that people be loyal to him? What’s up with that?

Oh, one more thing. Can someone please tell me what in the world is that Twitter cover photo posted above?  What is the significance?

[MODERATOR NOTE: Edited for grammar and clarity March 17, 2016. “Links” and “Updates” headers added.]

*     *     *     UPDATES     *     *     *

Any breaking news or other updates will be posted here.

March 18, 2016. Warren Throckmorton, Tullian Tchividjian’s Liberate Network Dissolves and Cancels 2017 Conference, by Warren Throckmorton.

March 18, 2016. Christian Post, Coral Ridge Elders Knew of Tullian Tchividjian’s Affair With Married Woman, Advised Him to Keep Secret, Source Alleges, by Leonardo Blair.

*     *     *     SELECT RESOURCE LINKS & NOTES    *     *     *

The following resource list includes posts from both bloggers and mainstream Christian media, and is not meant to be exhaustive. Blog posts, news reports, and public Facebook posts were selected and annotated by “brad/futuristguy” to help give historical perspective and current analysis on this situation. Links may be added here periodically without additional notice.

I see at least four concerns emerging from this situation with Tullian Tchividjian that have wider implications for the Church:

(1) The PERSONAL stories of those who suffered harm, and advocating for their healing and, when appropriate, the making of amends. This also includes the healing of a congregation in the aftermath of dysfunction, disappointment, and grief; not just the individuals who may have been directly victimized by abusive actions.

(2) The PROFESSIONAL aspects of fiduciary duty, namely, what “clergy sexual misconduct” is, why should it be considered “non-consensual” due to differential power dynamics, and how it figures into potential legal issues.

(3) The THEOLOGICAL principles and practices surrounding the paradox of restoration with robust repentance, versus the potential misuse of Law/Gospel that offers so-called restoration without a sufficiently demonstrated trajectory of transformation.

(4) The ORGANIZATIONAL system for doing due diligence in hearing the accounts of apparent victims of harmful situations, in evaluating the character and behavior of potential leaders and other public figures in the Church, and in overseeing/mentoring those who are in a repentance trajectory.

All of these issues relate to significant, practical questions for Christian communities. In selecting these resource links, I generally give preference to posts that offer primary sources (statements, Tweets, screenshots). Also, when there are posts on similar topics/time-frames, I usually choose the article or set of articles that I believe will offer a more comprehensive view – especially when any/all of the above four issues are involved. ~ brad/futuristguy

March 5, 2016. Spiritual Sounding Board, Tullian Tchividjian is Back, Fully Endorsed by His Pastor, Kevin Labby, by Julie Anne Smith. Ms. Smith’s article overviews the background of the controversy over Mr. Tchividjian’s apparent return to a platform of public ministry. She includes links to prior Spiritual Sounding Board posts, and gives a series of Tweets and screenshots that provide the backdrop to her various challenges to the meanings of these events, what kind of oversight is/isn’t being offered, and where the concern is/isn’t for those who were victimized.

Her post also raises the specific issue of fiduciary duty, without using that technical term, which relates to when a professional in a role of authority/power such as a counselor or pastor engages in sexual activity with a client or congregant. This issue was also put forward in several comments on the March 15th post by Warren Throckmorton, starting with this linked comment.

March 6, 2016. Chuck DeGroat Facebook Page. Mr. DeGroat’s public Facebook post offers practical and theological critiques of what he sees as recent problems with too-quick “restoration” processes within his own Reformed tradition. The opening quote:

I’m really stunned by recent stories of remarkably fast restorations of evangelical and Reformed megachurch pastors who’ve fallen. This isn’t a new phenomenon. But recent examples of “Reformed” pastors surprise me. We are of the tradition that believes in slow growth, a long obedience, a pilgrimage of repentance and transformation that takes years and decades, not days and months. Stories I hear of these pastors planting again or speaking again or even serving the church again puzzle me.

March 15, 2016. Janet Mefferd Today, Unqualified: ‘The great reproach to Christianity,’ by Janet Mefferd. Ms. Mefferd addresses the significant question that has been emerging the past five years especially about what to do regarding unqualified/disqualified church leaders. She uses three recent examples of Steven Furtick, Mark Driscoll, and Tullian Tchividjian to illustrate her conclusion: “But of all the sins that beset us, I have become convinced that one of the most grievous and most harmful to the Body is our dangerously unbiblical view of and cavalier attitude toward the sacred pastoral ministry.”

March 15, 2016. Warren Throckmorton, Liberate, Founded by Tullian Tchividjian, Relaunches Amid New Allegations, by Warren Throckmorton. Noteworthy for its series of links to articles by bloggers, and by mainstream media, both Christian and secular, on key historical points and issues of church practices in the unfolding  situation. Also contains the text of the note posted by the Liberate Board of Directors regarding its relaunch.

March 16, 2016. Warren Throckmorton, Tullian Tchividjian Out at Willow Creek Presbyterian; Majority of Liberate Network Board Members Quit (UPDATED), by Warren Throckmorton. This article may have been the first to post the news of Mr. Tchividjian being fired from his church staff position. It was updated to include the “Statement from Session of Willow Creek Church” about this action.

March 16, 2016. Christianity Today, Tullian Tchividjian Fired by Church, Liberate Board Members Quit, by Morgan Lee. Noteworthy for its overview of historical unfolding of the story in 2015 through the present. It also contains a series of links to previous Christianity Today articles on many of those developments.

March 16, 2016. Phoenix Preacher, Tchividjian In More Trouble, by Michael Newnham. He shares some analysis on how mainstream media differs from “survivor bloggers” when it comes to sharing the stories of victims of abuse, and the need to pay attention to the stories of survivors and not just those of well-known persons who may be involved. His perspective is important to note because there has been a shift in the balance of blogs and more conventional news media, with many personal stories and other kinds of information/documentation about alleged abuse situations now appearing first on blogs rather than in news reports.

March 17, 2016. Christian Post, Willow Creek Fires Tullian Tchvidjian After He Confesses to Another Affair, by Leonardo Blair. Includes extensive comments from Pastor Kevin Labby of Willow Creek Presbyterian Church (Winter Springs, Florida) on the new disclosures/confession that led to the firing of Mr. Tchividjian, and ongoing church-based oversight offered to help Mr. Tchividjian in a repentance process.

March 18, 2016. Warren Throckmorton, Tullian Tchividjian’s Liberate Network Dissolves and Cancels 2017 Conference, by Warren Throckmorton.

March 18, 2016. Christian Post, Coral Ridge Elders Knew of Tullian Tchividjian’s Affair With Married Woman, Advised Him to Keep Secret, Source Alleges, by Leonardo Blair.

84 comments on “Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Discussion: “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

  1. As a celebrity, he can demand anything he wants. It would be ideal if people would ignore him but not sure that is going to happen. Ahh, if there were only a way to De-celebritize a celebrity pastor!

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  2. “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

    All honor and glory and power and praise be unto the man behind the pulpit!

    Humble thyself, bow down and lie prostrate before the lord, Lord Tulliian!!

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  3. By the way, you may notice at my blog that many use pseudonyms when commenting. That is absolutely fine and I encourage it when sharing your experience. This blog is for you and you need to feel safe. Do as you wish. 🙂

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  4. I attended CRPC from childhood until my early 20s, and I still know a handful of people who were around during the shift. DJ Kennedy was very politically right-wing and nationalistic while TT wasn’t (his platform from the beginning emphasized grace), and I knew that caused a lot of the controversy. This part about the authoritarianism is new to me.

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  5. I work for an evangelical organization with a little higher cash revenue than Tullian Tchividjian’s Coral Ridge Pres Ch, and I don’t see our leadership demanding loyalty from the staff. In fact, our team expects God to move people in and out of the organization as He wills, not according to our preferences.

    I think it’s worth reading this 2010 Wartburg Watch article on the crisis at Coral Ridge within 6 months of Tullian’s ascendancy. Already his actions were controversial. There were calls for his ouster by many people, including D. James Kennedy’s daughter.

    The Miami Herald provides some insight. Here’s what was reported:

    “Among the accusations of the dissidents are than Tchividjian has replaced some longtime Coral Ridge staff members with his own people. The dissidents have also accused Tchividjian of watering down Coral Ridge’s worship style, de-emphasizing the Evangelism Explosion method developed by Kennedy, selling land at the church’s west campus ‘to make up for budget shortfalls,’ and appointing an executive commission with equal power to the standard church government.”

    The Kennedy/Graham collaboration seems to have fallen apart just a few months after it began. On July 24, the dissidents, including Kennedy’s daughter, mailed more than 1,600 accusatory letters, along with a petition, to members of Coral Ridge. The petition called for a congregational meeting to oust Tchividjian.

    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2010/03/09/trouble-in-paradise/

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  6. In the CT post, Tchividjian is quoted as saying, “Please pray for those who are most deeply effected (sic) and please respect their privacy.” This appears to me to be nothing more than a high-sounding attempt to invoke the do-not-talk rule with which controlling and manipulative “pastors” attempt to squelch any attempt to hold them accountable for their wrongdoing. Actually, invocation of the do-not-talk rule is a favorite ploy of abusers everywhere. It’s as if we must all be careful to protect abusers’ victims (actually, survivors) from shame–shame, which, if it exists, has its source in the wrongdoing of the abuser–and the only way to do this is to let the abuser escape all criticism and other consequences.

    Well,the privacy of survivors must be protected, to the extent that is what survivors want. However, there are still ways of holding perpetrators accountable without doing additional harm to their victims. Tchividjian may be publicly held to account with regard to what he, himself, is responsible for having been placed on the public record. We may righteously raise the hue and cry until outfits like Willow Creek are forced to do the right thing. I use the word “forced” because it seems highly improbable that Tchividjian’s new-found employment at Willow Creek would have been terminated without the bad publicity they have so justly experienced.

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  7. TT’s arrival was much more complex than a typical pastor receiving a call.

    As someone pointed out above, CRPC was a “God and Country” church under the leadership of Kennedy. (In fact, I’d question which one of those, God or country, really came first.) When Tchividjian came onboard, it wasn’t a hire, it was a church merger. He was pastor of a newer church plant in the EPC, New City Church. When you’re merging two churches, of course there are going to be some staff redundancies and I would assume that in most cases, any of us would probably go with the people we were used to working with rather than those we don’t know – especially when the entire church culture of CRPC bordered on idolatry of the USA.

    Much of the early discontent with TT was about just that – no more “culture war”. (I read countless interviews at the time from disgruntled (usually older) members who didn’t want to lose the thrust Kennedy brought. There was grumbling about what he wore in the pulpit (either a robe or a suit – they were used to the other). De-emphasizing legacy programs of the church like Evangelism Explosion. Music controversies, etc.

    To not completely throw Kennedy under the bus, while I (and many others) had huge problems with his flag waving, he was adamant at the founding of the PCA that it not be called the “Southern Presbyterian Church”, which a lot of people wanted.

    While I’m sure TT didn’t handle it perfectly, from everything I saw and read (admittedly, as one from the outside) it was not a one way street of a dictatorial pastor.

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  8. Okay, so I actually went to Coral Ridge. I did so on my own volition. I am an 18 year old, who drove 45 minutes every Sunday by myself to do so. It wasn’t because he commanded us to follow him or demanded us to be loyal to him as the talking point you seem to be pushing in this piece claims. It was because his words were powerful and because exhausted, broken people came together to listen to a broken man preach a message of salvation for broken, exhausted sinners who were loved by God. Don’t misrepresent him as some person with a cultic following demanding us to follow him. That’s purely false. The only times he talked about himself was when he talked poorly about himself in a self-deprecating, “I’m a broken sinner like all of you” kind of way. So, I totally disagree with the point you and the writer of that statement put forward, because I experienced firsthand, up until he resigned, the church and it’s not like what this is claiming it is.

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  9. Johnmrbiz, thank you for your comment. Your voice is important, too, because you represent a different perspective. It’s interesting that many people will view their pastor with different eyes. Your story tells us that your experience was good. However, your experience does not negate the experience of others, who through personal interactions with TT, experienced something entirely different. You can say you didn’t experience it, but please don’t say their experience is not valid. If you walked in their shoes, you would have their narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

    Did he demand they drink poison by his command as a loyalty test (Jack Hyles shtick)?

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  11. I am getting a “404 – not found” error for Warren Throckmorton’s entire blog (not just a page). Is anyone else having that problem?

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  12. You’re right – it is back up. I was afraid that the evangelical elites might be up to some of their “narrative control” shenanigans!

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  13. Johnmrbiz, I appreciate your comment. I am not involved in Coral Ridge, don’t know too much about it, but just wanted to say that often the experience of the listener in the pew is very different from that of the leadership behind the scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “I do not run my blog like the news media. My agenda here is always to defer to survivors first, and it is important that their privacy is respected. I also try to share pertinent information and analysis so that we can all learn from these painful stories. This kind of information is normally not included in news media. That’s fine — we both serve different purposes.”

    Thank you, Julie Ann, this is what makes this blog such a great place.

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  15. Pingback: Preacher Tullian Tchividjian Possibly Involved in Another Inappropriate Sexual Relationship (March 2016) / Why Do Christians Not Have a RBGR – Reverse Billy Graham Rule – Christian Pundit

  16. I can’t speak to whether TT actually did what he’s accused of with the “loyalty” pledge–and per Johnmrbiz’s point, it could have happened but been opaque to most members–but if it did, I would have to wonder if insisting on loyalty had something to do with a guilty conscience about how he was interacting with women not his wife.

    Lot of ifs there, but something to wonder about.

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  17. I use to live in NYC and raves were usually big parties centered around electronic “house” music. They use to be held in various “secret locations” and you had to be “in the know” to find out the location.
    Now rave locations are public. Main features: fairly common use of the drug ecstasy, (makes people very “happy” and “one” with the world), loud electronic music which focuses on the percussion beat, and a lot of ecstatic dancing. There are many genres such as “dub step’. It is kind of an ‘acid’ experience!

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  18. To jonmrbiz –

    I sighed when I read your comment. You are eighteen years old? I work with students your age (and a little younger). The one thing you are NOT is a ‘broken, exhausted sinner’. You are a young man who has probably made some mistakes, just like the rest of us. (Actually, I’m almost three times your age so I’ve probably made far more than you have, more often). To be human is to err. It’s not a sin. We make mistakes – it’s how we learn. Unfortunately, there are many in the pulpit who spew that garbage out and then say something like, “I’m a sinner too but you NEED me” . Don’t listen; you are fine the way you are – in fact, I’d venture to guess that you are an inquisitive, sensible, and respectable person. Don’t let that rhetoric beat you down.

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  19. First to Carmen, what you are saying is the exact opposite of what the Scriptures teach.

    To everyone else:
    I grew up at CRPC during Kennedy’s later years. Although he was certainly a right-wing conservative and often blurred the lines between the church and politics, Kennedy was an evangelist at heart. CRPC grew mainly because of his evangelistic method. He would simply sit in the living rooms of those who visited the church and share the gospel with them. This developed a church that was very involved in both local evangelism and worldwide missions, including youth and children working in the field.

    It is true that Kennedy did not leave a successor, which I thought was wrong at the time. But looking back, succession plans rarely seem to work in the church.

    When Tullian came, the vote to make him their pastor was nearly unanimous. He was well-loved in the community, and at least one or two members of the search committee really wanted him. He is not only charismatic from the pulpit, but he is just a likable person who remembers your name.

    But it began to go downhill for several reasons:
    – Merging staffs and layoffs. Not everyone from the previous staff was laid off, but the new leadership (not just Tullian) made it clear that changes were going to be made, e.g. music, replacing Bibles in the pews with the ESV, Tullian not wearing a robe, etc. some of these changes were obviously more important than others. But there was a lot of tension between the staff and several elders, and the elders won out.

    There was certainly an “either you’re for us or you’re against us” attitude (probably like a lighter version of Driscoll’s “bus”). My opinion is that Tullian saw it as a re-planting project, and old school CRPC’ers thought they were getting someone to carry on Kennedy’s legacy. They didn’t think anything needed to change. The truth was somewhere down the middle—changes needed to be made, but Tullian could’ve done a much better job taking a year or two to simply get to know his congregation and not make swift changes.
    Old school CRPC’ers (including Kennedy’s daughter) fought back and tried to retake control, but the vote to dismiss Tullian fell short. So several hundred people left. Some left due to loyalty to Kennedy’s legacy or not liking how Tullian and the elders handled things. Some left due to being fired. Most were probably just caught in the middle and had friends on both sides. So, as Presbyterians unfortunately do all too often, the old schoolers created a “splant” called New Pres. (New Pres is still meeting, though numbers have gone down.)

    After several years, Tullian had created a brand for himself due to his grace-centered preaching and blog on the Gospel Coalition. In my opinion, Tullian’s theology was kind of a mixture of good Reformed, confessional doctrine and some type of neo-Lutheranism (I think I made that term up, but think Gerhard Forde). Many people were attracted to the message, because they had been beaten down by legalistic preaching and/or some kind of spiritual abuse. Tullian was always light on the indicatives of the gospel and heavy on the imperatives, which drew a lot of criticism (and even a book entitled “Antinomianism”).

    He was dismissed from the Gospel Coalition, though things at CRPC seemed to be getting better, at least superficially. The church had transformed from a mostly white, middle-upper class congregation into (what I believe was) a better representation of the city of Ft. Lauderdale—white, black, Latino, etc.

    But the bottom fell out when Tullian and Kim separated and, ultimately, divorced. I felt like Willow Creek was doing a good thing in taking Tullian in and caring for him during what I hoped was going to be a long process of repentance and healing. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Tullian had surrounded himself with either good friends who lacked wisdom or just foolish friends (or some combination of the two). On top of that, he decided everyone, and he is now paying the consequences.

    Regarding PCA polity, the PCA is not a hierarchy. It is the same as the US government—a system of courts with checks in balances—minus a President. There are many in the PCA who are saddened and ashamed by what has taken place, and the discipline should have been carried out better. I was cautiously optimistic that the Central Florida Presbytery and Willow Creek would shepherd Tullian through this, and I’m sure they are dealing with much heartache as well.

    I am very sad for Tullian’s family. I cannot imagine what this has been like for all of them, including and especially Kim, regardless of whether or not the charges of her having an affair are true. I am also sad for the victim(s) and hope they are also on the road to healing. I am thankful that grace covers a multitude of sins and that there is healing by the power of the Spirit, but that should never cause us to dismiss or take lightly the effects of sin.

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  20. “First to Carmen, what you are saying is the exact opposite of what the Scriptures teach.”
    Since the Scriptures are all about interpretation, your opinion is personal – which you are entitled to. It also means that I am entitled to mine.

    Why anyone would want to go through life convinced they are a worthless sinner is more than I can possibly fathom. And to those who spew that garbage to children – it’s emotional abuse, plain and simple. Shame on you.

    I say again – there is no such thing as sin, only mistakes which humans make and hopefully learn from. Get off the ‘sin’ wagon!

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  21. Carmen, no one said they are “a worthless sinner.” Our worth comes from our Creator. And even when we are in Christ by faith, we battle against our former nature. For example, the Apostle Paul talks about the struggle of the flesh and the Spirit (Rom. 7; Gal. 5). Calling it emotional abuse is laughable.

    The Scriptures are not “all about interpretation,” and what you are saying is not in line with historic, orthodox Christianity. It’s more in line with Pelagius.

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  22. By the way, I meant to say Tullian was “light on the imperatives and heavy on the indicatives.”

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  23. Carmen, the topic you brought up would be an excellent article for discussion. For this post, I’d like to ask you both to steer clear of discussion on doctrinal issues and keep the conversation on the important unfolding story of CRPC/TT and the extended fallout. Thanks much 🙂

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  24. Not a problem Julie Anne. I just cannot ignore an 18-yr-old’s obvious (hugely negative) indoctrination. . . makes me sad. They grow up and sometimes become Tchividjians. 😦

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  25. My experience as a consultant in Megas (I repented big time) has me viewing the merger very differently. Kennedy had his own cult of personality going on for a long time and obviously did not do the hard work of a long term grooming the next cult of personality figure to Inherit.

    But they needed a celebrity cult of personality figure at Coral Ridge. That is who they are. Enter Tullian who fits the bill with his looks, charisma, testimony and pedigree. Where was Amway when they were needed? Didn’t the DeVoss’ pour more money into Tullian?

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  26. “The only times he talked about himself was when he talked poorly about himself in a self-deprecating, “I’m a broken sinner like all of you” ”

    Many of us have fallen for that act in other venues. At this point Tullian’s descent into cheap grace and a easy repentance remaining perpetually broken knows no end. At some point we have to get off the mat and walk in the light.

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  27. Lydia, you are a right in that a big personality was what they thought they needed. What they really needed was someone to work quietly and shepherd the flock. I think that is what they have now in Rob Pacienza, and I pray he will humbly play a part in leading CRPC to better days.

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  28. “The Scriptures are not “all about interpretation,” and what you are saying is not in line with historic, orthodox Christianity. It’s more in line with Pelagius.”

    Most of what we know about Pelagius was written by his detractors. What we know about historical “orthodox ” Christianity is that it was a persecuting evil bloody mess overseen by ruling state church tyrants. The dissenters who tried to show another way were drowned, banished, burned and/or tortured.

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  29. “Lydia, you are a right in that a big personality was what they thought they needed. What they really needed was someone to work quietly and shepherd the flock. I think that is what they have now in Rob Pacienza, and I pray he will humbly play a part in leading CRPC to better days.”

    I don’t buy into the idea that long time Christian adults need another Christian adult to be in charge of them. I now find that position untenable and ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. From that same link at the Christian Post (by L. Blair, “Willow Creek Fires Tullian Tchvidjian After He Confesses to Another Affair”):

    His recent confession, according to Labby, contradicts that narrative. The Willow Creek senior pastor indicates that Tchividjian’s newly confessed affair occurred prior to discovering Kim’s infidelity.

    So. Initially, when all this came out, Tchividjian seemed to excuse his affair by saying his affair was in response to his wife’s, but now this is saying he cheated on his wife (with a second woman, different from the first publicized affair) before she cheated on him.

    Another part of the article:

    In an email statement to CP Thursday, Tchividjian, who was recently made a grandfather by his oldest son, said his understanding of confession is that it is an ongoing process and thanked Willow Creek, which he said has offered to help him find a new job. He said the church also asked him to make Willow Creek his home.

    “The process of repentance is progressive and painful. It involves ongoing confession, not just of what’s going on in my life at the present but what’s happened in my life in the past,” he explained.

    That’s pretty disingenuous of him. He acts like he didn’t, or does not realize, that one should confess to any and all sin in that sort of situation. He actually used the term “ongoing confession.”

    Please tell me that Chris Rosebrough it not falling all over himself still defending Tchividjian out the ying yang.

    Tchividjian is just a much nicer version of Mark Driscoll, but Rosebrough has ripped Driscoll part regularly on his program in the past, but seems reluctant to hold Tchividjian accountable.

    Also from the article:

    When asked why Willow Creek cut ties with the ex-pastor [Tchividjian] over the unconfessed affair after already knowing so much of his past, Labby pointed to “trust again.”

    “It really comes down to trust. Even though there was great sin in his previous church and work, there was professed contrition, there was confession, there was openness … our care plan really rested on trust and with trust violated it made moving forward very difficult,” he said.

    …He said while Tchividjian didn’t “overtly lie” to the elders, his decision to withhold information from them constituted a lie that points to serious issues with integrity.

    “He didn’t overtly lie to us. He withheld important information that we needed to know and that creates a trust issue,” Labby said.

    As in, “Oh sure I admit to this one affair, but I will intentionally refuse to disclose the other affair I had with another woman before my wife had her affair.”

    Liked by 2 people

  31. What is also funny is how Labby continues to use the word “on sabbatical” to refer to TT’ situation. Also he mentions in the recent post that T had nothing to do with Liberate. Check this out. the guy is registered as the president of the Liberate Network and Labby as the Vice president. Please, give me a break!! Who was in control of the ministry, then. Yes, not part of the board, but the PRESIDENT!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Nick, I hear you. I have no evidence— just experience with these types. My guess is the big ministry egos trying to share space and followers became a problem. Most likely TT became more of an annoying liability than a potential money making restoration story celeb. I learned up close and personal never to believe their public explanations.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I never understood the Tulluan draw. He always reminded me of a guy with arrested emotional development. A high school play boy in a grown up body. When he bragged about never doing one good thing, people should have believed him. :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  34. The merger with CRPC was a manipulative power play on TT’s part. New City was thriving and growing and on the opposite end of the spectrum stylistically than CRPC. Had Tullian wanted to take the position at CRPC he could have done that, but he chose an ultimatum that it was either himself and his whole congregation or nothing at all. He is a master manipulator and spins things unlike anyone I have ever seen. Love what have dictated he think of New City and her good. He did not. He leveraged to make the merger more conducive for himself and his control over things. I understand Johnmrbiz’s take on things well. Things Tullian would say sound so, so good and so, so refreshing. The problem is that he said one thing and functionally acted a different way. He would preach grace – we are all losers but God loves us – but watch out if you didn’t perform well and make him look good!! If you tried to speak truth in love into his life regarding the way he treated his family or how he stewarded money – be sure your days were numbered. He surrounded himself with yes men. The abuse began long before Coral Ridge. There were those who were close to Tullian at New City, who had his back and worked tirelessly at the expense of themselves, that were thrown under the bus because when they started to falter under the weight of the load of shepherding the flock while Tullian was off promoting his book and building a name for himself and hit a wall – they were no longer useful to him and were “managed” until he could get rid of them in a way that made him seem like a hero.
    He brilliantly surrounded himself with those who agreed and could be manipulated and created a message that resonated with people and allowed him to do whatever he pleased with no recourse..
    This situation is devastating, but it has deep, deep roots that began even before Coral Ridge.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I have found that men can become quite captivated by these rockstar type ministers. I don’t mean to put anyone down by saying this but this is simply what I have seen happen time and time again. There is one specific minister in the street church that has captivated the hearts, minds and loyalty of male millennials. Typically these people are looking for a father figure or male role model in their life. I tell you though this is not a healthy relationship, but it is in fact unhealthy.

    Maybe Tullian did not demand loyalty from the one poster above because he already sensed that he had it. He would have treated this man far differently than those who were able to see through his manipulation.

    With the minister I mentioned before in the street church, there is manipulation and a craftiness with words that simply mesmerizes people. He too cuts himself down and fake cries, but it is actually a manipulation technique and it is not true brokenness or humility He literally from the pulpit tells abuse victims and people in hard times to “get over it” and then says, “i’m not being mean, I’m being real”. He is celebrated and adored in these circles.

    We must be careful of how much we look up to any leader. I don’t care how godly they are, how many likes they have on facebook etc, it can leave us blinded and unable to make good decisions for ourselves and for others. We see this clearly happened to Pastor Labby who was also captivated by Tullian and couldn’t see clearly to carry out his role as a pastor to protect his flock. Tullian was one of the men he looked up to in his life, so I imagine when the moment came that he could welcome in his hero, it seemed like a dream come true. Still Pastor Labby seems to be protecting him. We can clearly see that Tullian held the power and control in their relationship and Labby is still being used by him.

    I also have serious concerns about Tullian’s grace message, which is an exaggeration of the truth. It is the very message that manipulative people like to put on others to cover their own sins. Sorry this message is so long. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. oneofthemany said:

    <

    blockquote>He surrounded himself with yes men. The abuse began long before Coral Ridge. There were those who were close to Tullian at New City, who had his back and worked tirelessly at the expense of themselves, that were thrown under the bus because when they started to falter under the weight of the load of shepherding the flock while Tullian was off promoting his book and building a name for himself and hit a wall – they were no longer useful to him and were “managed” until he could get rid of them in a way that made him seem like a hero.

    Ok, even if you remove the clergy sex abuse, what you describe, oneofthemany, is real spiritual abuse. This, I believe is something that hasn’t been publicized much. What we hear mostly is his message of grace, but not so much of his behavioral patterns with congregants. Thank you for this important in formation.

    Does anyone have any personal stories about how he treated staff? Sometimes it is the behind the scenes behavior where we see the real person.

    When you said someone’s days were numbered, what would happen? Church discipline?

    Like

  37. “I also have serious concerns about Tullian’s grace message, which is an exaggeration of the truth. It is the very message that manipulative people like to put on others to cover their own sins.”

    It is a horrible message for victims. It is no different than what SGM taught that victims are just as big of sinners so they must inatantly forgive. It requires we buy into instant repentance and cheapo grace of evil behavior . it ends up desensitizing people to serious evil and harm done to others.

    But the bad guys and con men love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. lydia00
    March 17, 2016 @ 7:30 PM

    Maybe Tullian tries to take after Uncle Franklin — quasi bad boy image. That’s what I see when I look at the photos he posts. Those two Graham offspring have that feel.

    Like

  39. While I am certainly not defending Tullian, I think it is less than charitable for us to assign motives. Saying the merger was a power play is a complete guess. Leaving his flock at New City behind wouldn’t necessarily have been a good thing. I personally don’t think they should have merged, but saying he did it due to some kind of authoritarian rule is pure speculation.

    Tullian rejected CRPC’s offers multiple times. Someone on the search team then went behind the team’s back and convinced him that it was best and that they could merge the churches. Tullian did not want to take over at CRPC from the beginning, so how are we to assume it was a power play?

    With that said, you are correct in saying he surrounded himself with Yes Men.

    A whole new category has not been discussed much—finances. When the old school CRPC’ers left, they took a lot of money with them. This left a gaping hole, because Kennedy had basically built a cathedral with several buildings that required $$$$ for maintenance and cooling. Not to excuse his behavior, but Tullian had a lot of pressure to “get butts in seats” (not his words). The radio station was sold (I believe), and there were even talks of selling the buildings to an LDS congregation.

    This is why I was saying it’s important for Pacienza to simply focus on shepherding the flock. Rob is not a guy that is going to be writing books or traveling the speaking circuit. He has been at CRPC since the Kennedy years and knows its history well. If anyone can right the ship, I believe it’s best to have him at the helm. He has good people around him, like Paul Hurst and Duane Mellor.

    Like

  40. “Maybe Tullian tries to take after Uncle Franklin — quasi bad boy image. That’s what I see when I look at the photos he posts. Those two Graham offspring have that feel.”

    Franklin swapped his rebel shtick for CEO wingtips and private jet…long ago.
    Tullian comes off as more of a surfer dude who misses the raves. :o)

    I tend to agree with Billy that Ann is the best preacher of the lot of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. “Tullian did not want to take over at CRPC from the beginning, so how are we to assume it was a power play?”

    There is really no way to ascertain such things when you are dealing with celebrity ministry manipulators and closed systems He could have been holding out for what he wanted. He might have known who on the committee would chase him etc, etc. Pragmatically speaking, he was smart to play hard to get. It gave him a longer honeymoon period and he brought his own people.

    I have seen so many congregations lied to about the “Holy Spirit’ guiding the decisions of the closed group/system I don’t believe much they say anymore. It is truly creepy to hear when you know the truth to how the decisions were made. It is even more creepy to watch the pew sitters believe every word.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. I sure hope that TT’s ex, Kim, is hanging in there through all this…nonsense. Yes, she sinned in this, too, but something in me says that her ex is very, very lucky she doesn’t start speaking openly about the factors that led to the breakup of their marriage.

    One thing I also noticed here is that TT has gotten a lot more tattoos in the past two years, and he’s gone from preaching in a suit and tie (eschewing vestments of DJK) to preaching in a short sleeve shirt and often low rise jeans. This screams mid life crisis to me–if you told me he’d bought a Camaro or Harley, too, I would not be surprised.

    (disclosure: I’m a couple of years older than TT, and for my MLC, I made a sauna for my wife and I)

    Liked by 1 person

  43. I’m glad you mentioned Kim, Bike Bubba. Please pray for Kim and their kids as they have to now go through the emotions of dealing with another undisclosed lie. This must be heart wrenching for them. My heart and prayers go to them especially, the real victims of this mess.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Definitely the kids, too. I know from experience that it’s no fun going through your parents’ divorce, and the circumstances here–adultery on the part of both parties and things playing out in the media–ugh.

    Come to think of it, that may explain why she’s held her peace–my mom did the same thing for my brother and I because we still had to have some relationship with our dad. We knew enough, and I’m pretty sure that my stepdad may know more about some of the specifics of my parents’ breakup than I do, judging by a couple things he’s said since she died. Lots of layers to this that the kids don’t want to know this side of Jordan.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Pingback: Resource Bibliography on System Issues Related to the Tullian Tchividjian Situation | Spiritual Sounding Board

  46. I may be way off base here in this comment forum, but may I simply ask this question; not to stir up the hornet’s nest of religious vipers, but…..

    “Why is it that pastors preach on sin, sin and more sin as the rest of us pew sitters sit there under these leaders who desire more and more power over the people, these leaders who desire to be worshiped like gods in place of our LORD Jesus Christ Who IS the Cornerstone of the ekklesia, these leaders who gather information from their innocent victims through methods of using church board members to ‘befriend newcomers to their churches, gathering personal information, then report back to the pastor in charge so he can use that information against the lay people via a hardline sermon singling out their sins and turn around and lie, saying it came from a holy spirit (another lie), these leaders who believe they are above being accountable and taking personal responsibility for their own sins, these leaders who use the word ‘mistake’ for their own wrong doing and using the word ‘sin’ to beat the rest of us over the head with our misgivings, these leaders who preach one thing, then turn around and do the very same thing they preach against – the hypocrite syndrome, and finally…………………these leaders who pound on sin, sin, and more sin when we are caught in our sins by a church president, leadership board, deacon/deaconess, elder, pastor, priest, nun, worship leader, prayer chain leader…..the virtual immaculate leadership list that loves its power and control, and yet when a leader is caught in the very same sin they are calling out in the lower laity caste system, then the preaching/leadership handbook changes from sin, sin, and sin. to grace, grace, give me more mercy and grace teachings.”

    Why do pastors/leadership systems within organized church systems allow themselves more mercy and grace in their personal lifestyles than they allow the lower laity to have? Why the double standards within the church system?

    Liked by 1 person

  47. My family and I were members first at New City and went to CRPC post merger. We were concerned by the immaturity we saw in Tullian, but knew there were some mature and seasoned believers who were committed to keeping him accountable. Well, they did and were quickly shown the door. Actually kicked out the door would be a more accurate description. People who had supported him and genuinely cared for him. We left after seeing this happen. It was clear that he wanted to do as he wished with no oversight. Not a good look on any follower of Christ, let alone a pastor.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Vyarvum, that is a great way of saying it, and I can vouch that this is accurate. Those who were trying to keep him accountable were 100% for Tullian and for the church, but it seemed like he just wanted to have his own way. What’s worse is that what he wanted for Coral Ridge wasn’t all bad; much of it was good and necessary. It was simply the way he went about doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. “Why the double standards within the church system?*

    Because the pew sitters ask for it. I ask why adult believers think they need another adult to perpetually lead and teach them spiritually? It makes no sense when we stop and think about it. However, it really is not all that different from the Jews who begged God for a king like the Pagans had. This made Him angry because He is their king. They got their kings anyway. They never grew up.

    When it comes to Jesus Christ, a group of adults thinking they need one person in charge to lead and teach them seems rather bizarre in this day and age of literacy and freedom. Maybe people don’t want to grow up spiritually? And worse they end up not being able to imagine ” church” without such a person in charge.

    Liked by 2 people

  50. I am not involved in Coral Ridge, don’t know too much about it, but just wanted to say that often the experience of the listener in the pew is very different from that of the leadership behind the scenes.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    As a former elder in a church headed by a pure sociopath/NPD who had nothing but smiles and compassion for public consumption, let me second that statement that Shy1 made to Johnmrbiz. What I heard, one on one from the pastor, was so shockingly different from what he portrayed to the congregation, the way he’d talk about them behind their backs, then be all sickly sweet to their faces, the way he’d scheme and bit by bit take away their freedoms and fellowship while making it all look like he loved them, was sickening. Finally grew a spine and started telling congregants the truth about what occurred behind closed doors.

    But trust me Johnmrbiz (if you’re still reading, which is unlikely), you DO NOT know what a pastor really is by hearing him from the pulpit, you are often just watching a show that’s carefully calculated to make parishoners think exactly the things you’re thinking.

    Liked by 4 people

  51. All I can think of to say is, “Oh crap!! Here we go again!!”
    I am so sick and tired of the whole train of celebrity “pastors”, all of them crashing & burning. What ever happened to the folks who got up on Sunday, preached a sermon, and then spent the rest of the week doing for others???? Are there any left?…………..
    Guess not. Depressing. Really, really depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

  52. “What ever happened to the folks who got up on Sunday, preached a sermon, and then spent the rest of the week doing for others???? Are there any left?”

    Zooey111, I can affirm that there are some. I have a pastor with a humble spirit and a heart for the sheep and those that are lost. I don’t know any of this because of his words–I know it because I see his actions over the course of many years now. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum from pastors and when you encounter one who is truly practicing what they preach, with time, you know they are the “real deal”–true shepherds who take their position with the seriousness and magnitude that the Scripture places on it.

    Like

  53. Most pastors are the kind that preach, administer sacraments, and shepherd the people throughout the week (through prayer, visits, etc.), but they don’t get articles written about them in Christianity Today.

    One glaring weakness in Tullian’s job description is that he had his speaking schedule that took him away from the local church so often. And apparently CRPC’s elders were okay with this. So it seems Tullian was basically a preacher who did very little work on the ground, disconnecting him from the flock he was supposed to be shepherding. That could take us into another rabbit trail in celebrity pastors, but I’m just glad CRPC didn’t go out and try to find another one to replace TT.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. I saw so many of the same traits manifested in Tullian and Bob Coy:
    Pride often masked by self-effacing affect, mannerisms, and words.
    Fear (yes, fear).
    Scripture-twisting. Bob used cute stories to hide his misuse of the Bible, while Tullian used academic-sounding language to disguise his.
    Crowd manipulation. Coy was great at using humor. Tullian was more the angry and aggrieved champion of “grace.” Both attempted to get their congregations “on their side” to, I believe, feed their egos.

    Just my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Please keep in mind that Coral Ridge had a contemporary service with no robes, and no cultural mandate was preached. Dr. Kennedy had often preached in this service of about 300 members, without wearing robes. The whole robes issues was something trivial made up to deflect off the real problems members had with Tullian.

    Tullain’s church was not far from Coral. Members already had a working knowledge of Tullian since he was in the area. I believe Tullian had preached at Coral, or was on their TV show, several times. Tullian had made certain promises of keeping Dr. Kennedy’s ministries intact as he incorporated his own ideas but that quickly went by the wayside. While Tullian went to various newspapers to tell his side of the story, members in the pew were told not to gossip about, or blog about it. Anyone that set up a blog to get info out was trolled and shamed for expressing their views. Tullian’s mother Gigi was often on the blogs..if that really was her. Dr. Kennedy’s daughter was constantly scapegoated by Tullian, and his loyal group, when in fact she was merely a member of a much larger group that was dissatisfied with Tullian and what he was doing at the Church. In fact when Tullian was caught doing anything it was someone else’s fault, like plugging in his Christmas lights into a neighbor’s outlet was his wife’s fault.

    Seems to me that Tullian has always had a problem with what he says and what he does. When they had a town hall meeting at Coral right before the second vote Tullian would shut down those that stood up to respectfully disagree with him. Many that I know say Tullian is extra-Biblical in his teaching. He does not take away from the Gospel but he sure does add a whole lot to it as he preaches. His style of leadership, in my opinion, is my way or the highway.

    Towards the end of his job at Coral he was hardly in the pulpit but doing book or speaking tours. His twitter account had some strange pictures on it which I think would be a cause of read flags. One time he was in line at 67 Liquors trying to get an autograph for his kids from the rapper Snoop Dog and my understanding is one had to buy several bottles of a certain booze before Snope Dog parted with his autograph.. He was often pictured in clubs. I find it odd that no one at Coral thought that was odd for a Pastor. Did they think he was evangelizing people at clubs and Snope Dog? There are patterns here and I think the church ignored it. I don’t understand why? Grace doesn’t ignore reality!

    Like

  56. Let’s try this again: Kay, your comments are spot on.

    (Julie, my name is auto-filling as my email name instead of Donner. Can you fix that, or tell me how to fix it? Thanks!)

    Like

  57. Kay, I think by the time Tullian was doing his Snoop Dog antics, those who would call him on it had left the church. He surrounded himself with yes men and did what he wanted to do.

    Like

  58. Donner, Sorry I’m so late in responding. I’m not sure what browser you are using, but you will need to change the auto-fill in your browser settings. For Chrome, go to the menu in the upper right hand corner (3 horizontal lines), click on Settings, go to the bottom of the page, click on Advanced Settings. Then scroll down to Privacy and you will find auto-fill info 🙂

    Sorry about the hassle!

    Like

  59. @Lydia00:

    I never understood the Tulluan draw. He always reminded me of a guy with arrested emotional development. A high school play boy in a grown up body.

    Maybe he draws in the High School Playboy wanna-bes?
    Lotsa guys out there who never outgrew High School.

    “I WAS A FOOTBALL STAR IN HIGH SCHOOL. ONCE I SCORED THREE TOUCHDOWNS IN ONE GAME!
    — Al Bundy, Fortysomething loser from Married With Children

    Like

  60. @TruthDetector:

    But trust me Johnmrbiz (if you’re still reading, which is unlikely), you DO NOT know what a pastor really is by hearing him from the pulpit, you are often just watching a show that’s carefully calculated to make parishoners think exactly the things you’re thinking.

    An Actor (Koine Greek Hypokritos) playing a Role in a Show.

    Like

  61. @Katy:

    Why do pastors/leadership systems within organized church systems allow themselves more mercy and grace in their personal lifestyles than they allow the lower laity to have? Why the double standards within the church system?

    Because Rank Hath Its Privileges.
    Highborn and Lowborn, just like in Game of Thrones.

    “JUST BECAUSE I CAN.”
    — what should have been the Motto of King Joffrey Baratheon-Lannister from GoT

    Like

  62. @BikeBubba:

    One thing I also noticed here is that TT has gotten a lot more tattoos in the past two years, and he’s gone from preaching in a suit and tie (eschewing vestments of DJK) to preaching in a short sleeve shirt and often low rise jeans. This screams mid life crisis to me–if you told me he’d bought a Camaro or Harley, too, I would not be surprised.

    Just wait until he starts with the never-ending plastic surgery a la Wacko Jacko…
    “I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! REALLY! I AM! I’M YOUNG!!!!!”

    (Actually, the wildest mid-life crisis I ever witnessed was a guy who turned 30 and had a Damascus Road Conversion Experience to swing-both-ways sexual predator, trying for all the jail bait he could for his bucket list. In contrast, mine was pretty mild and a lot less destructive — just traded in my econobox hatchback for an affordable sports car and started watching a lot of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.)

    Like

  63. @Lydia00:

    Nick, I hear you. I have no evidence— just experience with these types. My guess is the big ministry egos trying to share space and followers became a problem.

    “Let’s get one thing straight:
    These guys do NOT hang out together. The Universe cannot have two Centers.”
    — Kooks Magazine (subject was conspiracy cranks)

    Most likely TT became more of an annoying liability than a potential money making restoration story celeb.

    He outlived his usefulness?

    Like

  64. “Most likely TT became more of an annoying liability than a potential money making restoration story celeb.

    He outlived his usefulness?”

    In My experience he would still be there BUT for marital infidelity. They can usually get by with just about anything else even if some in the congregation don’t like him. they usually like having a celebrity pastor.

    Like

  65. I believe that TT was so out of the closet that Ft. Lauderdale was ready to laugh at Coral Ridge. The legacy of the church was at stake. The community feedback was reaching a crescendo.

    I find it interesting that so many people have a different impression of him. I believe that TT treated those above, below and equal differently depending on their usefulness to him. All those experiences are different and valid but it is confusing to the congregation since they can’t get a grasp on the real person in the pulpit.

    If churches want to employ men, or women, that have addiction in their past I believe they have to have strict accountability for the sake of the Pastor and the church. Any addiction is a symptom of a bigger problem and it needs to be kept in check. Too many think that God waves his magic Jesus wand over this issue and poof it is gone. There are many in the addiction circles that simply are not good at regulating their own behaviors and seeing the red flags. They need help in the church.

    Like

  66. “I believe that TT treated those above, below and equal differently depending on their usefulness to him. All those experiences are different and valid but it is confusing to the congregation since they can’t get a grasp on the real person in the pulpit.”

    This is an excellent point and one I saw quite a bit in my mega church days. Few get close enough to see the non stage persona. And even then that is different depending on the status of the person in their proximity. I used to always think of Matthew and Jesus’ warnings.

    This creates chaos with the followers which benefits the stage persona because of their status.

    Like

  67. Interesting stuff. However, I have a difficult time believing there weren’t more people (either staff or congregants) at Coral Ridge that knew about his indiscretions and chose to look the other way for whatever reason. Affairs require time, and are sometimes difficult to hide.

    Like

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