Clergy Sex Abuse, Divorce, It's All About the Image, Tullian Tchividjian

Tullian Tchividjian – Partial Timeline of Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse and Spiritual Abuse

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, Spiritual Abuse

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, scandal, spiritual abuse
Facebook profile photo

This is a partial timeline of the situation involving Tullian Tchividjian. It focuses on his various publications since 2007 (if a book title appears twice, the first is a hardcover version and the second is paperback), his church ministry roles since 2009, and his publicly revealed illicit sexual involvements. We’re limiting the timeline to these topics and key events, to help focus attention on the overlaps between his ministries and publication writing periods that were paralleled by emotional and sexual grooming of women who were in some way within his sphere of influence.

The majority of this timeline was produced by Brad Sargent, who created the Resource Bibliography linked to below. He also used details that I (Julie Anne) had permission from the sources to reveal. I also added comments, mostly at the bottom of the post.

The select material that appears here comes from two sources.

  1. Some is already public. In most of these cases, the dates, publications, and any analysis can be found in the Resource Bibliography on System Issues Related to the Tullian Tchividjian Situation. Otherwise, links and quotes are noted in the text here.
  2. Other key details are based on the personal stories of women Tullian Tchividjian victimized, plus any documents these women have shared with us at Spiritual Sounding Board. NOTE: No names or personal details about these survivors of clergy sexual abuse are revealed here unless the women involved gave us their permission, or the details have already been made public.

Also note that additional personal details, documentation, and other survivors’ stories may be added here and/or in future blog posts if and when these women are ready to make them public. Please respect their right to do so in their timing, whether they choose this blog, elsewhere, or not at all. I have been communicating with some of these women for well over a year, and doing what I can to help them process their experiences, recover, and consider their options. Their personal well-being is my first priority, not pushing to get their story out.

Other notes about this timeline:

Three issues make things particularly difficult to follow in this case. First, sometimes the existence of sexual abuse perpetrated by Tullian Tchividjian has apparently been kept from people with spiritual authority over him who should have been told – the relevant churches, publishers, and other organizations. If they had known earlier, they could potentially have stopped his chain of victimization.

Second, sometimes authority figures have known about his illicit sexual involvement, but kept silent about it. Their cover-up allowed more women to be victimized while Tullian Tchividjian continued with his public ministry and book writing.

Third, sometimes the existence of the liaison became known but the details of the woman involved have not, so it has been too vague to investigate.

As of November 22, 2016, the accounts of two women who were groomed emotionally and sexually have been made public (Woman #1, Woman #3). Details on another victim (Woman #2) appear here for the first time, though her existence has been known publicly since March 2016.

UPDATE — THIS REPLACES THE PARAGRAPH IMMEDIATELY ABOVE: As of December 2, 2016, there is at least some public knowledge about each of the following six women that Tullian Tchividjian had some form of personal connection with — not all of them sexual involvements. Please read the details carefully about the extend of the connection in each case.

Our way of attempting to deal with these complexities is to talk about when the clergy sexual abuse occurred, some of the profile details of the women involved, when the abuse was revealed publicly, and who in authority may have known before it was revealed but said nothing. As you can see from the summary directly below, the stories quickly overlap and/or get interwoven. So, to make related people and events more visually noticeable, we are using several colors of type. Hopefully this helps.

Kim Tchividjian (Tullian’s first wife). They were married in 1994. In August 2015, he filed for divorce from her shortly after his sexual involvement with Woman #2, and around the same time he first contacted Woman #3 (“Lisa”). The divorce was finalized in March 2016, less than two weeks before the public revelation of his sexual involvement two years earlier with Woman #1.

Woman #1 – May through July 2014. She was not a congregation member under Tullian’s pastoring. She was married at the time. His relationship with her was only revealed publicly until March 2016 (although a mentor/friend and two church elders had known for two years but kept silent). This led to Tullian’s being fired from a ministry position at Willow Creek Presbyterian Church. (Note, this church is not connected with Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois.)

Woman #2/Rachel – April through June 2015. Rachel (her real name) was a congregation member under Tullian’s pastoring. She was married at the time. His relationship with her was revealed publicly in June 2015. This led to his resigning as Senior Pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. In a series of posts from November 29-December 1, 2016, Rachel reported her account of Tullian’s emotional grooming, seduction, and the aftermath.

Woman #3/”Lisa” – June 2015 (approximately) through March 2016. She uses the pseudonym “Lisa” in the post of her story. Lisa was an acquaintance of Tullian’s. She was married at the time. According to her story, which was shared publicly November 22, 2016, Tullian was grooming her emotionally and using sexual innuendos. However, she cut off contact with him after the public revelation in March 2016 of his relationship two years earlier with Woman #1.

Woman #4/”Kara” – September 2014 through September 2016. Kara was an acquaintance of Tullian’s. She was divorced at the time. Her story was shared publicly November 23, 2016. She reports that Tullian was grooming her emotionally, sometimes communicated with sexual innuendo, and directed her to push back in social media on his critics. Kara challenged Tullian at points about the veracity of his statements, and ended contact around the time Tullian married Stacie Phillips. [This information added 12-2-2016.]

Stacie Phillips (Tullian’s second wife). According to “Lisa” – Woman #3Stacie Phillips befriended her in the summer of 2015, around the same time that Tullian claimed to be attempting to reconcile with his wife Kim (he filed for divorce from her August 22, 2015). Stacie Phillips eventually married Tullian about a year later, August 26, 2016.

Note that links appear in this color of blue, as usual.

UPDATE: December 15, 2016. An additional woman reportedly seduced by Tullian Tchividjian shares an overview of her experiences with him from October 2013 through August 2016, in a post on Spiritual Sounding Board: 1. Third Woman Victim of Tullian Tchividjian’s Seduction Gives Details; She Reportedly Extends Timeline of His Adulteries Back into 2013.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

July 8, 1994. Tullian Tchividjian and Kimberly Genna get married.

August 21, 2007. Book published – Do I Know God? (Multnomah).

April 12, 2009. There was a merger on Easter Sunday of New City Presbyterian Church, where Tullian Tchividjian was founding pastor, with Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, and installation of Tchividjian as Senior Pastor.

April 14, 2009. Books published – Do I Know God? and Unfashionable (Multnomah).

September 20, 2009. There was a vote on whether to retain Mr. Tchividjian as Senior Pastor; a majority voted in his favor.

April 23, 2010. Book published – Surprised by Grace (Crossway).

January 6, 2011. Book published – Don’t Call It a Comeback (Crossway).

October 14, 2011. Book published – Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway).

June 5, 2012. Book published – Unfashionable (Multnomah).

October 1, 2012. Book published – Glorious Ruin (David C Cook).

October 1, 2013. Book published – One Way Love (David C Cook).

February 28, 2014. Book published – Surprised by Grace (Crossway).

March 1, 2014. Book published – Glorious Ruin (David C Cook).

May 2014. Controversy erupts between members of The Gospel Coalition and Tullian Tchividjian over the meanings, extent, and applications of “grace” – and over the public responses in defense of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) leader C.J. Mahaney and relative silence on the cases of sexual abuse and alleged cover up. SGM has been the subject of much investigative reporting and sharing of survivors’ stories by spiritual abuse survivor bloggers and others. Therefore, the many individuals and organizations and blogs of interest get involved in the public conflict.

May through July 2014 – Tullian Tchividjian is involved sexually with Woman #1. She was married at the time, and was not a congregation member of Coral Ridge. This illicit relationship was revealed publicly about two years later in March 2016, and led the firing of Tullian Tchividjian from Willow Creek Presbyterian Church, where he had been working on staff since late August or early September of 2015. Before the public revelation of Tullian’s clergy misconduct, it was known to Steve Brown (a friend and mentor to Tullian), to two elders at Coral Ridge who were subsequently removed for not disclosing this moral failure, to Kim Tchividjian, and eventually to Woman #2/Rachel.

September 2014 – Tullian Tchividjian meets Woman #4/”Kara” face to face for the first time, at a Christian products Exposition he invited her to on September 21-23. He had connected with her previously via social media. They stay connected through September 2016, mostly by social media, although there are periods of time where they were not communicating much. The account of her interactions with Tullian is presented in “Master of Manipulation” by Nate Sparks on November 23, 2016.

January 1, 2015. Books published – Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway) and It is Finished (David C Cook).

April-May 2015 – emotional grooming of Woman #2/Rachel by Tullian Tchividjian. Part of this relationship with Woman #2/Rachel involved Tullian borrowing money from her and her husband to finance hiring a private investigator to find out if Kim Tchividjian was having an affair. If they paid on his behalf, he could prevent Kim from finding out. The couple used their credit card for payments on April 25, May 1, and May 6, 2015. Despite numerous attempts to get Tullian to repay these funds, and his promises to pay, he kept delaying. Finally, his repayment check for $11,130 arrived approximately 10 months later. It was dated March 18, 2016 – just several days after his illicit sexual relationship from May through July 2014 (with Woman #1) was finally made public. Many details of her experiences and reflections are in a comment by “Anonymous” on the November 22, 2016, post “Do Unto Others” by Nate Sparks. She has chosen to make her full story public on Spiritual Sounding Board, in a four-part series. Here is the link to Part 1.

End of May through end of June 2015 – Tullian Tchividjian is involved sexually with Woman #2/Rachel. She was married at the time, and also a congregational member at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

June 2015. Tullian Tchividjian acknowledges his recent illicit sexual involvement with Woman #2/Rachel from his congregation. He resigns his position as Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. His pastoral credentials are revoked by the South Florida Presbytery. However, his sexual involvement with Woman #1 in 2014 is still not made public.

June 2015 (approximately) through March 2016 – emotional and sexual of Woman #3/”Lisa.” Tullian Tchividjian contacts Woman #3 –  who goes by the name “Lisa” in sharing her story in the post “Do Unto Others” by Nate Sparks on November 22, 2016. According to her narrative of the events, this was “in the late Spring of 2015, during the time shortly after he was officially fired from his position at coral Ridge Presbyterian Church” (June 2015, after the revelation of his clergy sexual abuse of Woman #2/Rachel). According to Lisa’s narrative, Tchividjian was grooming her emotionally and making sexual innuendos. Although this relationship did not cross the line into sexual involvement, Lisa was deeply involved in supporting him on social media and in challenging those who didn’t believe in the sincerity of his repentance process. Lisa was married at the time. QUOTE from the blog post:

Towards the end of their friendship, in the weeks leading up to Tullian’s second pastoral sex abuse scandal in March, 2016, Lisa began to distrust him. In light of this distrust, Lisa confronted Tullian about his lies. Instead of confessing and telling the truth, he doubled down on his deceptions and attempts to convince her that she shouldn’t believe what other people were telling her.

Even after the news broke, Tullian tried to lie to her. He tried to convince her that the whole thing was being blown out of proportion, that he had done nothing wrong. Lisa was devastated by his lies. She asked him to tell her the truth and asked why he deceived her. But Tullian offered only half-hearted apologies followed by further attempts to manipulate and control her.

Broken from the depths of his lies and realizing he was an abuser and not a friend, Lisa and her husband discussed the situation and decided it was best for her to no longer speak to Tullian.

Summer of 2015. The stories of “Lisa,” Stacie Phillips (whom Tullian married August 26, 2016), and Kim Tchividjian get intertwined. Lisa and Stacie connected because of their personal and social media support for Tullian. Again, quoting from Nate Sparks’ post, “Do Unto Others” on November 22, 2016:

[I]n the Summer of 2015. A woman by the name of Staci[sic] contacted Lisa and told her she was a friend of Tullian’s, and also lived in the same town as Lisa. She strongly pursued a friendship with Lisa, and regularly insisted the two of them should get together. After Lisa asked Tullian about Staci, and he confirmed that she was “a cool chick,” Lisa exchanged numbers with her. They began talking regularly and exchanged text messages frequently. They even went so far as to make plans to get together. However, Lisa was stood up each time by Staci. In one text exchange, Staci told Lisa that she was going to be in town, so they should get together. Lisa was appropriately confused and said, “I thought you live in my town…” Lisa soon learned that Staci had moved to Orlando for her job.

Orlando, of course, is where Tullian was living at the time. Lisa would later learn the two had begun dating during this time. Tullian and Staci married in September. [Correction: married August 26, 2016.]

This is especially curious, because Staci’s relationship with Tullian began in similar fashion to all the other women he targeted. In fact, he and Staci had been exchanging messages during the time Tullian claimed to be attempting to reconcile with his wife, Kim in the Summer of 2015, after his own sexual misconduct became public.

August 22, 2015. Tullian Tchividjian files for divorce from Kim.

Late August or early September 2015. Tullian Tchividjian is hired as Director of Ministry Development by Willow Creek Presbyterian Church. (The exact date is uncertain, as Tullian first notes a connection with the church in an August 30 tweet, but the news becomes public in a news article update on September 4.) Controversy erupts over multiple issues, such as whether this is too soon to be back in “ministry,” whether there has been real repentance and restoration, and whether this is a platform/public leadership ministry or not. The church says no rules were broken in the hiring.

February 2016. Tullian Tchividjian’s Liberate Network was relaunched with nine board members. (He was not on the board.)

March 2, 2016. The divorce between Tullian and Kim Tchividjian is final.

March 2016. In mid-March 2016, another earlier – but not confessed – situation of sexual misconduct by Tullian Tchividjian (with Woman #1 from 2014) is revealed to his church and to Liberate Network leaders, and he acknowledges the sin. His employment with Willow Creek Presbyterian is terminated immediately. On March 16, five of the nine members of the Liberate Network Board resign, and two days later the four remaining Board members announce the cancellation of the 2017 Liberate conference and the dissolution of the organization.

April 9, 2016. Warren Throckmorton posts, Is There a Comeback In the Works for Tullian Tchividjian? Tullian Tchividjian spoke/“shared” at Spring Hills Community Church in California. This is just three weeks after the dramatic public disclosure of his sexual misconduct from 2014.

August 25, 2016. The day before Tullian Tchividjian and Stacie Phillips get married, Kim Tchividjian tweets a status that says, “Tonight is hard. Tomorrow will be harder. But God.”

August 26, 2016. Tullian Tchividjian and Stacie Phillips get married. This appears to be a turning point in his “return to ministry.”

September 6, 2016. Warren Throckmorton posts, Things I Learned Today: The Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, and Dustin Boles Edition. “Tullian Tchividjian got remarried sometime over the weekend of 8/26. He has been in Texas and is working on a book.” This is apparently a book to be published by David C Cook, which published five previous titles by Tullian Tchividjian.

September 23, 2016. posts the article, God is Not Done with You Yet. And Neither Are We, by Bo Lane. Four days later, posts an article by Tullian Tchividjian himself, The Freedom in Losing it All, in which he states he considered suicide. Online response to this apparent come-back into the public eye is mixed. As far as who contacted whom first, an October 3, 2016, post by ExPastor Executive Director Greg Atkinson on his blog states the following: “When Tullian Tchividjian reached out to us and I talked with him on the phone …” (What Grace Means to Me.) After Tullian’s article is posted, Woman #4/”Kara” continues confronting him about the veracity of his statements; she eventually ends contact with him.

October 31, 2016. Tullian Tchividjian presents a sermon at Spring Hills Community Church, Santa Rosa, CA.

September through November 2016. News articles and blog posts about Tullian Tchividjian’s apparent relaunch into ministry appear, including analysis comparing some of his older and more recent public statements, and the narrative account of “Lisa” about his apparent emotional and sexual grooming of her starting in the summer of 2015.

UPDATE: December 15, 2016. An additional woman reportedly seduced by Tullian Tchividjian shares an overview of her experiences with him from October 2013 through August 2016, in a post on Spiritual Sounding Board: 1. Third Woman Victim of Tullian Tchividjian’s Seduction Gives Details; She Reportedly Extends Timeline of His Adulteries Back into 2013.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Some final thoughts:

I have made my opinion known that I consider Tullian Tchividjian to be a sexual predator, and that his behaviors involve both clergy sexual abuse and spiritual abuse for taking advantage of women within his sphere of ministry influence – whether they were in his own congregation, associated with his Liberate Network or its events, and/or part of his social media support system.

I believe Tullian Tchividjian’s actions disqualify him from ministry roles, and from having a platform as a “Christian celebrity” who is supposedly representing Jesus Christ in public and in publications. I hope that potential media sources, publishers, ministries, and churches will take in the details of what he has drawn in and harm these sisters in Christ. I hope individuals and institutions will stop excusing his actions with “grace,” and stop giving him a platform that perpetuates his influence to continue this pattern. If they fail to do that, aren’t they then knowing accomplices to his vices?

I plan to continue investigating for answers to questions that still remain about Tullian Tchividjian’s connections with women and his alleged grooming of them for sexual relationships. And there are also issues about his spurring of people to take his side on social media, and whether/when a next book is forthcoming from (apparently) David C Cook. Meanwhile, as the situation continues to unfold, we at Spiritual Sounding Board will also do all we can to listen to, support, and minister to those who feel victimized by his actions.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Regarding edits and additions: As noted at the beginning of this post, details and analysis may added. Corrections will also be made as we become aware of them. They will be noted here if substantial.

11-24-2016. Correction: March 18, 2016, was the date on the payment check, not the date the check was received.

199 thoughts on “Tullian Tchividjian – Partial Timeline of Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse and Spiritual Abuse”

  1. I think this should be included as well. At the same time TT is “counseling” with Paul Tripp, he is also trying to groom “Woman #2” and “Woman #3”. Seems very likely that Tripp was played like a fiddle. That alone should wake us up to the fact that these so-called Biblical Counseling experts have no corner in discernment. Actually, I find it fascinating that Tripp wrote an article that a counselor should always have the sin of the counselee in the back of his mind (when being approached by someone claiming to be abused). Apparently, when it’s the ABUSER, it’s okay to blindly trust. I think this fact alone should cause his books to be pulled off the shelf!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. @Mark. Thanks for posting that — you make an important point. Will find a way to update the post later to include that with some further analysis. It appears to be part of an overall pattern of having counselor – mentor – elders etc., who “oversee” his life and “know everything” and thus he is able to claim accountability — but these supposed overseers seem to have done nothing to protect other potential victims from his grooming/advances.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aside from the twists and turns of his grooming, using and abusing multiple women, I am blown away at the number of books he produced in such a short amount of time. Why did no one, in the Christian publishing world or out, look at that timeline and say “something doesn’t seem to be adding up”?


  4. The last time I felt this sick was after that seafood platter I had way east…

    I realize sexual/clergy abuse is everywhere, just like bad drivers are everywhere. Or potholes. Or bad weather. Or bad schools. But, surely there comes a time when certain places show up on the statistics way more than others, and when the pattern becomes clear, not so? Calvinist/Reformed man-made philosophyand its ungodly “counseling” arm (ACBC and others) must be exposed for what it really is…before more lives are destroyed.

    The carnage is not over, and the wolves like this vain, empty, glib, narcissistic sadist and serial adulterer Tchividjian and his ilk will be around until the sheep (innocently lead to the slaughter) open their eyes and speak out…and walk out on these false teachers who are doing their evil deeds in the name of Jesus Christ. Shame they have none, for they believe they are God’s personal event coordinators and spokes”men.”

    Julie Anne, may this article of yours help to wake up the Christian world, especially those who are following men and men’s foolishness instead of simply sticking to the Lord Jesus.

    We are right behind you on this. Armsful of blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Actually, I find it fascinating that Tripp wrote an article that a counselor should always have the sin of the counselee in the back of his mind (when being approached by someone claiming to be abused).

    Interesting, truly. What a mess this. It’s clear that Tullian was playing all these guys and they fell for it. In his behind the scenes texts, you definitely see that kindness and empathy for others is utterly lacking from so many of these wolves in ministry. I think that is the true way to tell.


  6. Right, Lea, it’s all the masterful manipulation game of a narcissist.

    Yes. I have been there. Couple of things from Lisa and ‘Anonymous’ stories were unfortunately familiar. They’re all the same, really.


  7. This is excellent reporting to say the least. Nonetheless, very disheartening to read. I felt it was bad, but never imagined it was THIS BAD. Is there any evidence to show this kind of unacceptable behavior existed at any of his prior churches?


  8. First reaction to that “Facebook Profile Picture”:

    Looks kinda like a Doc Savage cover. Rugged Hero Type.


  9. Julie Anne said,

    Burwell, I’ve heard that his books are recycled sermons. I will have more to say regarding the Christian publishing world.

    I was noticing what Burwell did too – that was a lot of books in a short amount of time. I saw Tullian promoting one or more of them on TBN (Christian channel).

    Tullian does re-use his material but implies that it’s brand new, if I remember correctly. T-W-W blog did a post with an example of that sort of thing here:
    _Was This 2010 TWW Post a Harbinger of Things to Come? Tullian Tchvidjian: Why Dost Thou Lie?_

    This book title by Tullian: Do I Know God?

    Based on your (Tullian’s) behavior and recalling the words of Christ that you will or can know a tree by the fruit it bears, I’d say the answer it that no, you (Tullian) probably don’t know God.

    I caught many episodes of Tullian’s show when he was on TBN on Sundays, and he went on and on about the grace of God. That God is willing to bestow grace on people does not mean you get a “get out of jail free card” to run around committing serial adultery / serial clergy sexual abuse.

    The concept of “Grace” does not mean you get a pass to run around doing whatever you want without any earthly consequences or accountability. Too many Christians use “grace” or “forgiveness” to weasel their way out of being held accountable.

    Every one may be a sinner, but not all sins are equally egregious.

    Thank you, Brad, for putting this post together and to Julie Anne for hosting it and keeping everyone up to date about all this.


  10. Headless U Guy,

    THAT Facebook profile photo. It brought on many giggles and I had to run to the loo too. Yes, that I-love-myself attempt is all part of the sick act. “Lord, have mercy on me” is a line from the song “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me.” Here it is, for us all to enjoy, as we listen to a song that could have been written by Tullian the Perv. Or about him.

    (Sorry about the song, Julia Anne, but I could not pass up the opportunity.)


  11. Lea said,

    Interesting, truly. What a mess this. It’s clear that Tullian was playing all these guys and they fell for it. In his behind the scenes texts, you definitely see that kindness and empathy for others is utterly lacking from so many of these wolves in ministry. I think that is the true way to tell.

    Lydia has said this often. She used to work in or for big churches and has told us repeatedly that the celebrity pastor guy you see on stage is NOT like what he seems.

    The celebrity pastor will seem caring and concerned about you while he’s on the stage, but in private, these preachers often show contempt or disdain for the Pew Potatoes.

    That was definitely apparent in the screen caps of texts I saw of Tullian’s messages that were put on Sparks’ blog.

    Tullian appears to be obsessed with fame, money, power, and obviously, sexual conquest. He does not exhibit any of the qualities the Bible says an actual believer in Jesus will or should display.

    Every one, even an actual believer, may sin from time to time, but Tullian seems pretty consistent with the sin – the same types of sin, and he doesn’t come across as being truly sorry for hurting or using people.

    I feel sorry for his first wife. I guess being married is not everything you may sometimes think it’s cracked up to be.

    I sometimes feel like I’ve missed out on something (something great or wonderful) by never having married (I had wanted to be married), but then I see married guys who act like total dirt balls, like Tullian, and I am like, that’s eye opening – maybe it’s better to be single than be married to a jerk.
    (Well I was engaged to a selfish guy, and I broke things off with him, so I did already have a small taste of this.)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My former church studied a series by Tripp, and I found his handling of the topic of anger to be almost entirely victim blaming, so I did some searching and found more…

    “An abused wife also may need to repent of her own sin. Let me be very clear about this as it will be easy to misunderstand: I am not saying that a wife is ever responsible for the abuse she receives at the hands of her husband. If the Bible teaches anything about sin, it is that the responsibility rests on the person who committed it. Whenever a man physically abuses his wife, he may never shift the blame for his sin onto his wife with statements like, “If she had been more submissive I would not have hit her.” Statements like this are a wicked attempt to shift the responsibility for sin onto another. Having said that, the Bible also teaches that no person should ever overlook one’s own sin in favor of focusing on the sin of others. This is the point of Matthew 7:1-5. Ministers who want to help couples change in a way that most honors Christ will urge both husband and wife to consider their sins against God and one another. For a wife, this will mean making it clear that abuse is an egregious sin for which she is not responsible, while still asking what sins she might have committed that need to be confessed. Has she been rebellious toward her husband? Was she violent towards him? Has she been guilty of any cruel or unloving treatment toward him? Such issues are not the first items that a wise minister will pursue, but they should be addressed at some point.”


    “Perhaps one party draws most of the attention because he acts with his fists. But, on closer inspection, the other party may skillfully and perversely wield her tongue in ways that goad him to violence. Outbursts of violence are usually extreme instances in more widespread, low-grade patterns of conflict. Look for the common sins that both parties share, not just the unique outbreaks of sin in one party. You want to help both people become more loving, wise, and peaceable.”

    I think it reveals a willful blindness to abuse. In both quotes he wants to acknowledge the sin of abuse, “I’m not saying a wife is ever responsible for the abuse she receives…” yet, in both articles, he quickly shifts to point the finger at the wife: “no person should ever overlook one’s own sin”, and “on closer inspection, the other party [wife] may skillfully and perversely wield her tongue in ways that goad him to violence.”

    In the case of TT, Tripp seems to demonstrate that he is all to give the abuser a clean bill of health while piling on abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You know how you are supposed to ignore everything that comes before the ‘but’? ‘having said that’ is just a fancy ‘but’ in this case.

    Oh and that ‘goad him to violence’ thing is showing you what he really thinks! Ugh. I actually had this discussion with someone the other day – I do not believe you can ‘goad’ an unviolent man to violence. (baring maybe hitting him extensively).

    while still asking what sins she might have committed that need to be confessed. Has she been rebellious toward her husband? Was she violent towards him?

    Obviously if she has been violent that should be addressed, but the other ones are simply NOT relevant in cases of abuse. If they are going to you for abuse, don’t get off on irrelevant tangents. Wow. That guy is a mess.

    Daisy, I was in a mess of a relationship last year and am trying to find a better one, but man some of this narcissistic, liars playbook stuff takes me right back.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. yet, in both articles, he quickly shifts to point the finger at the wife

    Yep. That’s what they call a ‘tell’.


  15. About Mark’s excerpts from content written by Tripp about abused wives.

    Tripp says out of one side of his mouth that wives are never to blame for being abused, but then goes on to say that they are to blame for being abused.
    Tripp wrote:

    For a wife, this will mean making it clear that abuse is an egregious sin for which she is not responsible, while still asking what sins she might have committed that need to be confessed.

    Has she been rebellious toward her husband? Was she violent towards him?

    Has she been guilty of any cruel or unloving treatment toward him? Such issues are not the first items that a wise minister will pursue, but they should be addressed at some point.”

    As to the “violence” portion he brings up: if a woman is being violent toward a man (like chasing him around with a chain saw with the intent to cut his head off), and the man’s only recourse is to use physical means to block being hit, shot, or stabbed by the woman, that is self-defense.

    Being ‘cruel,’ ‘unloving,’ etc, are not grounds for a man to abuse a woman. Tripp is implying that if a woman is being “cruel, unloving” etc, she is in effect to blame for being stuck by a spouse.

    Now, I’d say, if you are a woman married to a dude who you know is PRONE to slap or kick you if you do “X,” then yes, for your own safety, it may be wise for you to avoid doing “X” around your husband.

    But the way Tripp frames this is to make it sound as though the wife “brings on,” “asks for,” or “deserves” the abuse – which she does not.

    I have read many a book or blog post about domestic violence (and similar topics), and they all stress, in opposition to Tripp, that there is NO EXCUSE or justification for a man to verbally or physically abuse his wife – even if the wife did something that the man claims triggered him into the act.

    I’ve read of some truly stupid excuses men give to explain WHY they verbally or physically abuse their wives.

    One book I had, the guy said what pushed him to smack or berate his wife is that she had not picked up their kid’s toy tricycle in their front yards (and even though the wife said she was sick that day, taking care of one of their sick toddlers, had to run errands too, had not time).

    Not picking up a toy from the yard is NOT a grounds for a guy to lash out at his wife, sorry, no, Tripp.

    Abusers CHOOSE to deal with anger, entitlement, or frustration by using violence (physical and/or verbal).
    The rest of us, when we get stressed, angered, or frustrated, choose to deal with those negative situations or feelings by doing something healthy / safe with the anger (I go on bike rides or write in a journal, etc. – I do NOT scream at or punch other people).

    Abuse is not an “equal responsibility” sin, where both victim and perp have sin that needs to be addressed, and it makes me want to barf that Tripp seems to think it’s a ’50-50′ split of responsibility – such typical cruddy, sloppy thinking by Christian counselors.

    Mark said,

    I think it reveals a willful blindness to abuse. In both quotes he wants to acknowledge the sin of abuse, “I’m not saying a wife is ever responsible for the abuse she receives…”
    yet, in both articles, he quickly shifts to point the finger at the wife: “no person should ever overlook one’s own sin”, and “on closer inspection, the other party [wife] may skillfully and perversely wield her tongue in ways that goad him to violence.”

    Yep. Tripp is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. At the end of the day, Tripp is in fact saying that an abused person brought on the abuse or deserved it.


  16. As to the “violence” portion he brings up: if a woman is being violent toward a man (like chasing him around with a chain saw with the intent to cut his head off), and the man’s only recourse is to use physical means to block being hit, shot, or stabbed by the woman, that is self-defense.

    By the same token, if her ‘violence’ is trying to fight him off? That’s self defense too.


  17. Lea said,

    By the same token, if her ‘violence’ is trying to fight him off? That’s self defense too.

    In my example there, I was thinking of a case where the man is the innocent party and the woman is the aggressor, the woman initiates the violence or fight.

    I have had a mean lady boss in the past who lashed out at me and bullied me (she would instigate the situations, not me), and a verbally abusive big sister whose modus operandi is to yell and scream at me when she’s frustrated, angry, or stressed out by other people or her job.


  18. Here’s one place where Tripp should have taken his own advice:

    “Expect to encounter self-deceived versions of confession and repentance. It is almost as if they could deceive God—though of course they really deceive only themselves and others. They may say the right words or seem to have the right feelings, but their “repentance” is often godless. It expresses remorse for smirching their self-image or their reputation in the eyes of neighbors. Such “repentance” actually serves the very same pride and fear of man that lead to the sins of secret violence. Violent people typically misuse grace or misunderstand it. Grace becomes “cheap,” and repentance becomes “jumping through hoops” to assuage the conscience and get back into the good graces of other people. It can even become a tool of sin, a quick fix—sometimes calculating—that sweeps problems under the rug. Violent people may weep, pray, and pledge that it will never happen again, without any of the fundamental changes involved in genuine repentance and faith in Christ: that “change of mind” and “turning” that lead to a change of life.”

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Yeah, I think the two conversations cannot happen. If the wife comes to you and says her husband hit her, then deal with that. If she’s lying or using you, the truth will probably come out.

    Having a “back of mind” conversation with yourself that the person coming to you probably has some hidden sin that needs to be uncovered is surely going to distort the interaction towards victim blaming. And, especially if you think that you need to bring up the second conversation (how did YOUR SIN affect this?).

    It must be human nature, because it seems when one of my kids gets hit, my first reaction (trying really hard to rewire…) is to say, “well, what did you do?”

    Honestly, EVERY interaction I’ve had where I was abused and went to a church leader for help ended up getting diminished, ignored, and often turned back on me.


  20. Do we know why there was a vote to retain TT as pastor on September 20, 2009? Was that part of the process of when the two churches merged or did something happen?


  21. @Kathi. As best I can recall from prior reading there was a rather radical shift in ministry style, worship, teaching, etc. which was part of the situation after the merger, and the feeling that those who brought in Tullian and his team were not considered in the shifts that went on. I think some who were there in that time and eventually left have commented on posts about Tullian Tchividjian here on Spiritual Sounding Board and/or on The Wartburg Watch and Warren Throckmorton. So, was it about paradigm shifts, cultural changes, or power consolidation? That’s seems to be what I remember as distilling out as key problems. There are articles in the Resource Bibliography that present Tullian’s side of things mostly. See the chronology sections for 2009 through 2011.


  22. Kathi, Tullian was completely different from his Dr. D. James Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy was more formal, wore a robe, had a traditional service. Tullian brought a modern feel, got rid of what had been a part of CRPC for many years. I’ve spoken with many people who said that Tullian behaved like a bully and pushed established leaders out of their positions, replacing them with his own inner circle. While some loved Tullian’s grace message, others were distraught with the new changes he brought. After he was voted in, quite a few people left. I’m hoping that someone will share their story. I’ve spoken with former staff/deacon, congregants. It was pretty messy. While we are covering clergy sex abuse, I believe that was only a small part of spiritual and emotional destruction that was brought to CRPC when Tullian took over.


  23. This is awful! TT is a creepy abuser(.)

    On another note, didn’t Paul Tripp counsel/get involved with Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill as well? Paul Tripp doesn’t seem to have a good record getting these men through counseling, or maybe he is naive about abusers.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Mark, thanks for giving those two quotes of Paul Tripp’s teaching. It’s given me a prompt to write a post at A Cry For Justice about how Tripp’s counselling can be dangerous to victims of abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Brad & Julie Anne – Thanks for the insight. It sounds like that poor church had no idea what was coming to it. He had six years of feeling free in his power and control. The final straw was the affair (now affairs). It’s too bad that he couldn’t have been stopped earlier in his time at Coral Ridge, but I fully understand how difficult it is to stand up to someone you either admire or know is in the wrong, especially if you know what the repercussion will be.


  26. Everyone needs to understand that Christian publishing is just publishing–no employee there has your back or serves as your accountability partner for what you read. It used to be more obvious that each denomination had its own publishing arm. Name changes has made that less obvious and in addition some major Christian publishers have been purchased as imprints of secular publishers. WaterBrook and Multnomah have been part of Penguin Random House since 2006. Tyndale Thomas Nelson and Zondervan are imprints of HarperCollins. Crossway (formerly Good News Publishers) is nonprofit, but the publisher’s signature accomp!ishment is the ESV Bible. This guy was a Presbyterian so he wouldn’t have the same publisher as a charismatic like Joyce Meyer.

    UPDATE 12-21-2016. Regarding the reference to Tyndale House Publishers in Irene’s comment above, an SSB reader alerted us that it is Thomas Nelson, not Tyndale, that is part of HarperCollins, and that this division with Thomas Nelson and Zondervan imprints is now known as HarperCollins Christian Publishing. We are correcting the information here and where it originally appeared in the comment on the Partial Timeline post. To that reader, thank you for letting us know!


  27. Yeah, Tripp is someone I had a lot of respect for early on. “Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands”, I thought, was pretty helpful and really was centered on the idea that “helping people” wasn’t just feeding them prooftexts to alter behavior, but actually coming alongside them, being gracious, and helping them through difficult times in their lives, rather than quick fixes.

    But, when we watched “What Did you Expect?”, I was really turned off by his approach, and especially the sorts of advice he had (mostly shoving all negative emotions in a box by claiming that the source of negative emotions was our own idolatry) which had been deeply harmful in my marriage. But, when I challenged those teachings, trying to hopefully save the next generation from the toxic advice, I was completely silenced. Then these men who didn’t seem to know me from Adam were telling me how I must obviously need Tripp’s advice in my marriage. That my desire to be respected by my wife, and that my wife deserved respect also, was really counter to Christ’s teaching that we must sacrifice ourselves.


  28. @Irene. Yes, the industry has shifted hugely in the last 15 years especially. One of my reasons for listing publications was as an indicator of someone having a public platform, i.e., evidence of them being a “limited public figure” in case of defamation lawsuits. (Something we all learned from the lawsuit Julie Anne endured.)

    Another reason I listed his books is that many if not most Christian publishers likely still have some kind of “moral turpitude” clause to address situations of moral failure by authors. Tullian Tchividjian seemed to be constantly in the process of working on a next book, from 2009 through January 2015 — even if they were recycled material from his sermons. The illicit sexual relationship with “Woman #1” in May through July of 2014 and the subsequent two years of keeping silent about it publicly until it was revealed in March 2016 overlaps a period when he had two books published, one each by Crossway and David C Cook. We don’t know if he told his publishers about his sexual misconduct. If he did, they apparently did nothing about it. If he didn’t, wouldn’t they have had just cause to do something about it?

    So … while a publisher may not be an accountability partner for an author, it certainly could still hold an author accountable — cancel contracts, withdraw books, release notices, etc. Authors’ reputations and those of their publishers are intertwined …

    This post by Steve Laube from 2011 has come up a few times from friends of mine in Christian publishing businesses. It may be of interest for more detail, including some of the shifts that happened when Christian publishers got absorbed by secular media companies.


  29. Just for the record Tullian’s old church was not far from Coral Ridge in Ft. Lauderdale so he was well know by all in that Florida area including Coral. South Florida has some mega churches but the overall % of Christians in the general population is low so hence we tend to know about all the churches/pastors in our area. Tullian was a guest speaker and had been on a Coral Ridge radio program too. Coral members were well aware of Tullian, and his preaching, before he got in their pulpit. He was not their first, or second, choice and from what I have heard from members it was a small splinter group from the search committee that wanted him. The other choices declined the job so they were still in a search mode. They acted on their own and then Coral Ridge could not back out once the offer was made. The split was not about robes, or preaching the cultural mandate, that Tullian famously spouted off. Dr,. Kennedy never wore robes when he preached at the contemporary service that had hundreds of attendees in his church. Everyone at Coral knew Tullian was not going to do either before he got on board. Tullian was a bull in a China closet from the start at Coral Ridge.He had a reputation in Florida Christian circles as a boat rocker and he made HUGE waves once he got into leadership at Coral. They just lost their only Pastor they had ever known so were in a vulnerable position. Tullian didn’t fulfill his promises to the members once he got in leadership. He quickly started to get rid of all evidences of Dr. Kennedy, and the ministry Dr. K had going at Coral/Internationally even when he assured the members he would keep some of it in place while building “his brand” along side of it. Keep in mind that many were being employed by the many different ministries Dr. Kennedy had built up over the years. There were donors that supported workers of those ministries. Hundreds of Coral Ridge members did stand up to him. They had a town-hall meeting to confront him. Nothing came of it all so hundreds of members walked and started New Presbyterian. Tullian then targeted Dr. Kennedy’s daughter as the trouble maker then but she was only one among hundreds that wanted him out. Tullian shot himself in the foot because all the major, long term donors of that church left so he was struggling to pay bills. The merger of the old and new didn’t go well because of Tullian. His go-fers would tell people on blogs that if they didn’t like it leave. He would constantly preach to those in the pew to not talk about what was going on within Coral as that was gossip BUT he went to major newspapers to tell his side while no one else had the voice, or platform, to tell their side. Same old just a different day with this guy. I sincerely appreciate all the work done on exposing this guy. I really hope Coral members, and ex-members, will step up to share their views but at this point I think they want to put it behind them. Will see if some will be brave enough to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. @Kathi, I was reading some of the bibliography, and it looks like a small group of people, led, perhaps by Kennedy’s daughter saw through TT early on and tried to put a stop to it. Looks like that is what led to the congregational vote.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Ed, your comment went in the trash. You know why. I’m not going to debate this issue with you. He used his position to manipulate, control, and for selfish gain, period. This blog must remain safe for survivors. Don’t waste your time typing up a response. I don’t have the time or emotional energy to debate this topic with you.


  32. Adding to the topic of publishers, authors, and “moral turpitude” … one of the more surprising things that’s happened in the last 5 years or so was how Mennonite denomination and their publishing arm decided to deal with the legacy of John Howard Yoder.

    Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus (first edition circa 1972) became a profoundly influential book that is still used as foundational to Anabaptist theology on social involvement. I read it as part of a campus Christian group in the late 1970s/early ’80s. And even then, I occasionally heard there was this other, darker side to Yoder, with whisperings of his sexual harassment of women. Turns out some of his victims spoke up, but no one believed them. At least, not at the time. They persisted and eventually they were heard.

    Most of the time, it seems like individuals who enable behaviors like Yoder’s sexual harassment don’t respond and don’t take responsibility. They hide behind an organization, or behind position, or appeal to prestige. In other words, they misuse the power of authority to keep things hidden in the darkness that should and could be brought into the light.

    At least the Mennonite denomination eventually lived up to their theology of peace-making and reconciliation. They took steps toward making things right for one of their leaders who had done wrong. Leaders at MennoMedia, whose Herald Press publishes several books by Yoder, issued a statement on December 9, 2013. I had mixed emotions when I read it, yet appreciated that they were actually wrestling with the ethical implications left over from a system — and real people within it — who ended up protecting and enabling severe damage, both to real people, to the name of Christ, and to the Church.

    Here is the link to their statement:

    I believe their example provides a challenge to other publishers whose authors turn out to have moral issues and/or misuse of authority/spiritual abuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Without dismissing or belittling the situation, I want to express some concern about 2 trends I see in this post (and reaching over into Sparks’ blog posts as well, since I just finished his 2 articles on this subject).

    The first is a seeming infantilzation of women by assuming they are never at least somewhat culpable in clergy sexual abuse, at least when it comes to extramarital affairs. It’s hard to believe, for example, the woman in Sparks’ second narrative (Kara) never thought it was even a little weird that a pastor would send texts with swearing and crude comments. Grown women have a little sense about men, especially married or previously married ones.

    Children are groomed due to their inexperience, innocent trust, and inability to fully control their situations. They are at the mercy of adults. Adults can certainly be manipulated, but can they really be “groomed”?

    The second concern has to do with how Sparks’ (and therefore this article by extension) reported information. It appears to be all hearsay, so why include it? I expressed this concern on Sparks’ blog too. There is no evidence past what these anonymous women are claiming, and there is not likely to be any. In that light, do these articles not become gossip? As I said on Sparks’ blog, I don’t have any knowledge of Tullian, but am familiar with men like him. There is a definite pattern to their behavior, and I don’t doubt that the essence of this story is most likely true, but how to prove it? And if cannot be proven, should articles with such damning accusations like these be written?

    Thank you for listening.


  34. So, Loura, what do you do when you have a bunch of women come forward and tell you similar stories? I don’t know how many women would agree to have their picture taken in bed with another man. I’m just wondering what exactly would you need to have the proof you are looking for? Can you give examples, please?


  35. Sparks’ whole article strikes me as a little strange. Instead of letting “Lisa” tell her story in her own words, Sparks writes for her. Conclusions are made, claims are brought forth, but there is no real evidence. Interestingly, he recounts “Kara’s” story for her in the same way:

    Use T.T. own words, use interviews, use his books, use news articles, but there is none of that in Sparks’ post. No links, no quotes, no outside sources of any kind, other than rather generic phone screen shots. It would be way too easy to add a name or letter to something like this in Photoshop (I use Photoshop every day with my photography), and there are no dates, no times, no context.

    He mentions 10 other women coming forward, but never says another thing about them, or if any legal or other action is being taken by these women in pursuit of justice.

    He told me in a comment I left on Kara’s article, “if you read the comments on Lisa’s post, you’ll see that several other people have commented to back up the things in these posts.The sheer number of me toos, along with the Anonymous comment by one of the women he actually manipulated into sex (I know who she is, but allowed the anonymity because she is afraid of retaliation) plus the much more specific screenshots from Lisa give this post significant credibility.”

    That is just not true, or I am misunderstanding him, because I read each comment. While several posters said they had experienced similar abuse from their pastors, no one else but the one Anonymous person commented about T.T. The only specific screen shot was of your Twitter feed, JA, but “Tullian’s” nasty message would have come from where? Who donated that screenshot?

    Here is what I wrote to him in an email, as he states plainly he will not allow negative comments on the post:

    “I wanted to express some residual concern after reading your first post about “Lisa”, as you suggested. My concern involves your disclaimer, which tells readers that Lisa has been vetted by multiple sources, but who you don’t disclose. You said Lisa wants to remain anonymous (which I fully understand and respect), and that this has no bearing on her credibility. You assure readers that you have compared her story with other sources that you don’t disclose.

    In short, you ask readers to trust your word and opinion and research without any way to verify it, and promise to shut down any derogatory or negative (or negatively perceived) comments. I assumed that meant questions such as mine as well.

    You informed me after my first question in Kara’s article, that all the comments and stories after Lisa’s article had convinced you even more of the truth (and in all honesty, I don’t really doubt the claims). Still, these represent only anecdotal testimonies, and there is no way to know if those writing the comments are who they claim to be, or have experienced what they claim to have experienced.

    These things are precisely what manipulative celebrity pastors and other spiritual abusers do. They ask to be trusted because of their position, and never give facts that could be investigated. They claim they are subject to others’ counseling or authority or accountability, but never say who those people are. They promise to give more details “later”, but never do.

    They present only and nearly always testimonies from others, some who might be recognizable in a particular church, but many who are unknown and “anonymous” (either really or because of the nature of the internet). They refer those with questions or concerns to other writings authored by themselves, assuring folks they (the concerned) just don’t have all the information, and those writings will put all concerns at ease. If a person still has questions, they get the runaround, then shut down, then blackballed.

    I am not at all defending T.T., but it deeply concerns me that as you warn others (and rightly so) about the tactics of spiritual abusers, you appear to be making the same moves.


    Loura L.”


  36. Even in what he makes look like footnotes in Lisa’s article, when you read them at the bottom of the article, he again cites unspecified sources each time.


  37. Men like Tullian have a platform, and voice, that their victims don’t. Usually they have enablers that keep the false mask in place so others don’t believe the victims. Tullian has all the appearances of being a devote family man, a successful pastor with a church that had elders and Tullian was a hip, handsome Pastor that secular news outlets loved. Surely these people would say something if he was not in line, right? Look at the leaders in our world and you see the same patterns. Their victims are usually broken in some way and humans like Tullian find that soft spot to exploit.

    Way before the affairs came out there were people at Coral that doubted Tullian was a real believer. They just didn’t see his words and actions match up. He was hot tempered and manipulative. Slowly those savvy people were blown out. The rest that stayed at Coral are told not to associate, or believe, “those” people. Those of us that had friends inside the church were concerned with the things we were hearing from ex-members. If we tried to talk to our friends at Coral we were told this is our church so mind your own business. Not exactly those words but you get the idea. Tullian was working on isolating a church long before he was isolating these individual victims. He was very, very good at it. He made a person feel they were special due to their association with him or that they could see Tullian’s vision so therefore they were super Christians.

    Due to his high status family he had a large platform to work from. As more folks in Coral got dis-satisfied with Tullian he began to travel a lot promoting his books which distanced himself from the distracters back home. Paying the Coral bills became harder and harder. Folks like Tullian don’t want to be dragged down with the mundane details of running a church though. This travel to promote books further created the illusion he was an up and coming Christian in the world. He was on secular programs, which loved his hip look, that gave him an even larger platform to speak from while the hurt members, and ex-members, at Coral had no such way to get the word out about him. Believe me, many tried to at the local level in Ft. Lauderdale but Tullian always boiled their concerns down to petty robes or not preaching like Dr. Kennedy. He would scapegoat Dr. Kennedy’s daughter as the problem instead of seeing he had a problem with hundreds at his church. Their concerns were always viewed as petty, and insignificant, compared to the grand vision he had for Coral Ridge. He never really addressed real concerns the members had or talked about them. Course this made outsiders believe him and feel sorry for him. He had all these people trying to hold his vision from God back. Poor guy. He was going to do great things for God but those pesty pew warmers were standing in the way. They simply would not let go of Dr. Kennedy’s influence at the church and move into something new with Tullian. Tullian still plays it like that. If only everyone would just get in line behind him things would be grand. Who is ever going to believe the little guy who is a victim? It takes many victims coming together to expose people like this.

    As far as Tripp, and Brown, being involved, they were long time family friends. They knew Tullian as a kid. How can anyone counsel a personal friend without being bias? No professional doctor, or therapist, would treat a personal friend. They realized their judgement is absolutely bias. It is unethical. Tullian should have been referred to a professional that didn’t have emotional ties to him or his family. The elders should have turned this whole matter over to a higher church authority right away as well. My opinion is that Tullian didn’t get counseling from either friend but rather used those men to put more pressure on those that were trying to expose Tullian to buy him more time. I don’t know that for a fact, but I do suspect it. I really don’t think Tullian is a Christian. I think he knows the lingo but sincerely doubt he really believes it in his heart. He sees this as following in the family business which is a multi-million dollar enterprise. I know that won’t go over with some but it is what it is. If he is not a believer, I think his victims have been fleeced by wolf in sheep’s clothing. My opinion on it based on what I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. @Loura. I think you’ve brought up some important questions. Some thoughts on each. (Since some may be long, I’ll put them in separate comments.)

    There is a definite pattern to their behavior, and I don’t doubt that the essence of this story is most likely true, but how to prove it? And if cannot be proven, should articles with such damning accusations like these be written?

    The extended kinds of research writing I sometimes do on situations of spiritual abuse generally involve combinations of tasks that build up layers of factual information. I have a list of possible activities: compile bibliographies, develop timelines, find quotes, research non-profit records, read depositions, analyze series of email/message exchanges, listen to individuals share their stories, conduct interviews, consider documents that would verify or negate statements, look at varying social science theories that may help explain very particular issues raised, etc.

    In doing these types of research/resource pieces, I am always on the look-out for specific pieces of information from primary and secondary sources that set up the context of times and circumstances in which the situations happened. So, personal stories and public histories are key streams of evidence that frame the situation. I am also looking for patterns in behaviors, relational connections, influence, etc. Depending on the purpose of the piece I am writing, this will then all end up as a combination of factual observations, critical analysis, and my interpretation of context and patterns.

    So, that’s what’s going on “behind the curtain” for developing my perspective and what “writing responsibly” means to me. This isn’t the kind of writing that others in survivor communities may be called to, but that’s the background for what I do. In case interested, I’ve detailed many of the how-to processes I use, from those for sharing individual personal stories all the way to cracking an “industrial complex” system. I’ll copy and paste links and descriptions …

    Is It Time To Tell My Story? Suggestions for spiritual abuse survivors on how, when, and why in sharing their accounts of abuse and recovery.

    Many people are now writing or commenting on spiritual abuse survivor topics. Given the damage to our souls wrought by such so-called “discipleship,” it is no surprise that some of what we write demonstrates anger, sarcasm, innuendo, curses, and harsh or vulgar language. However, if this does perhaps help us in our venting about abuse and abusers, it can also prove “triggering” – not edifying – for others who read it. So, in the following post, I offer some practical advice on Writing Respectfully and Defusing “Triggers” that I have learned over the years in my research writing on abuse, violence, and social action.

    For advanced suggestions on writing your story, see Tutorial #9 on Transformation. This tutorial covers a series of critical thinking skills and tools for detailing events and discerning the times, with the ultimate goal of moving beyond our current paradigm and past factors that shaped it, and pursuing a future that is both possible and preferable. It contains a list of spiritual abuse investigation and archive sites, many of which present the stories of individual survivors – especially from very specific church denominations or ministry organizations.

    Resources for Research/Writing on Situations of Spiritual Abuse. This page brings together information on technical topics: non-profits, child sexual abuse, recording phone calls and conversations, sexual harassment, “citizen journalist” issues in blogging, SLAPP and Anti-SLAPP lawsuits, and documentation.

    Background on Christian “Industrial Complexes” and a Framework for Detailing Elements and Dynamics in an Industrial Complex.


  39. Loura,

    Your comment accused Julie Anne of a “seeming infantilzation of women by assuming they are never at least somewhat culpable in clergy sexual abuse, at least when it comes to extramarital affairs.”

    That’s very troubling to read.

    First of all, thank God for Julie Anne and Kathy’s work here to expose wolves in the church. Why would anyone want to criticize something that could help protect other women from falling victims to these predators?

    Secondly, we all know that growing up in the church, women are taught from a young age to be submissive and obedient—especially to spiritual authority figures. It’s ground into us so strongly, often without any training of how to recognize evil infiltrating the church.

    This quickly becomes a catch-22. First women are taught to give up their ability to make choices in the name of “submission.” Then when this results in trouble, women are blamed for not making the right choices. No matter what happens—too often the church seems to give the mercy and grace to the abuser and guilt and condemnation to the victim.

    Of course, everyone is still responsible for their own decisions. I’m not making any excuses for sin. But when you say things like “adults can certainly be manipulated, but can they really be “groomed”?”

    The answer is YESSSSSSSS!!

    Why do you think the Bible repeatedly warns us “be not deceived?”

    Pastors are held to a higher standard by God (James 3:1) because what they do affects many lives. No amount of blaming the victims will ever change that. So we are simply following the Bible by also holding these pastors to a higher standard of conduct.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. @Loura. Children are groomed due to their inexperience, innocent trust, and inability to fully control their situations. They are at the mercy of adults. Adults can certainly be manipulated, but can they really be “groomed”?

    Can adults be “groomed”? I guess it depends on how you define the term. The way I describe it, grooming includes a “sorting” process by a perpetrator. They are not creating a victim out of just anyone, they are selecting which individuals to condition based on susceptibilities. These vulnerabilities that perpetrators of abuse look for can be positive traits, such as sincerity in wanting to please God, or destructive, such as neediness based on childhood experiences. They’ll gladly step in to connect with that need: I can tell you how best to please the Lord … I understand the hurt you’ve endured …

    Not everyone falls for it, but then, I don’t think every perpetrator has the capacity to hoodwink every person they meet. But serial perpetrators do keep on “upgrading,” don’t they? So, they’ll be constantly on the lookout for fresh “supply” [grooming/selecting and seducing], at the same time as they’re using and using up those already drawn in [perpetrating and manipulating], at the same time as they may be dealing with whatever consequences remain from those they’ve tossed aside [rejecting and deflecting].

    But one kind of question I do hear consistently from those who are victimized is something along the lines of, “What made him/her pick me? What made me susceptible? How could I fall for that?” It’s not about lack of IQ or EQ. It’s about someone willing to exploit anything and everything they find in a potential victim, in order to benefit themselves and their own desires (usually for power/control).

    For those interested in this topic, I’ve written a few articles about this:

    FAQs – What made me susceptible to abuse?

    Set-Ups for Being Picked Off by Authoritarian Leaders – Part 1: Susceptibilities to Seduction by Those with No Conscience

    Set-Ups for Being Picked Off by Authoritarian Leaders – Part 2: Dynamics of Fatherlessness and Susceptibility to Substitutes

    Once people are “hooked” by a charismatic person or an attractive system, they’re dealing with issues in what I’ve called the “Pyramid of Abuse.” Then it is further conditioning and much more manipulation. But, the way I define it, it started with grooming to get them in the door.

    Responsibility for Spiritual Abuse – Part 1 – Questions of Culpability, Complicity, and Recovery. (This is a series that deals with systems of abuse, and hierarchies of who benefits most and how, and who is more of a pawn than a power-broker.)


  41. Loura,

    I do understand your misgivings and critique regarding the ethics/integrity of journalism and how Sparks’ article is presented. However, we are dealing with a different monster here, Loura. The total hell, horror, fear, and (violent) control that Calvinism and all its poisonous feelers exert are dastardly. SSB is not a home cookie delivery site nor is anyone here trying to impress the NY Times or trying to make a little splash on the Internet; here, we are dealing with real life abuse that has destroyed lives and that will continue to destroy lives.

    I am simply thankful that there is a site as SSB, and for all I care, the writers may use fictitious names to hide the names of victims, etc., as long as the truth is told and as long as it serves to warn others.


  42. Double standards are an abomination to God. (Prov 20:23)

    For too many years the church has been obsessed with confronting women’s sin while looking the other way at everyone else’s. It goes all the way back to the Pharisees dragging the woman caught in adultery to Jesus’ feet, demanding punishment for her. Imagine their surprise when Jesus turned the tables on them—making them confront their own sin.

    Even in the OT, God got upset at the double standard of the men being so eager to confront women’s sins. Look at Hosea 4:14 where God actually refuses to punish the women’s sin until the men first deal with their own sin! That’s how much God hates double standards!

    I was just reading this great quote by William Tyndale—first person to translate the Bible into English from Hebrew and Greek. He wrote extensively on confronting corruption and abuse of power in the church—advising us that when you see red flags in church leadership “look at how they establish their lies with falsifying Scriptures……(then) trust them in nothing but judge them in all things.”


  43. @Loura. The second concern has to do with how Sparks’ (and therefore this article by extension) reported information. It appears to be all hearsay, so why include it? I expressed this concern on Sparks’ blog too. There is no evidence past what these anonymous women are claiming, and there is not likely to be any. In that light, do these articles not become gossip?

    It was helpful to have the details you followed up with about the story of “Lisa” being told by Nate, rather than Lisa telling her own story; and potential need for verification on images.

    Given what I’ve studied about this situation, I find her account highly believable. However, I think that even if we take Lisa’s details out of this present post, it would still contain hints at some highly specific information and documents from private sources as yet unpublished, because it isn’t the appropriate time or format to release them yet.

    It also references key facts known from public sources, such as the timing on two incidents of sexual misconduct by Tullian Tchividjian, the time relationship to the public revelation of these incidents, and a few specifics about the women he was involved with.

    It also addressed many of the known consequences. For instance, his resignation of one ministry position and firing from another, his being deposed by his presbytery and losing ministry credentials, statements by Phil Tripp and Steve Brown and the implications of those, consequences for two elders from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church for their failure to disclose what they knew.

    Information from Lisa does not affect any of those points, which already indicate a serious situation that had been sufficiently documented, with many parts publicly acknowledged by Mr. Tchividjian himself. However, her story does amplify aspects of what appear to be his overall patterns with women he may have been pursuing – and that, I suspect, will continue to draw more posts and additional sourcing.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Some final thoughts in the “for what it’s worth” department …

    Sometimes posting just gets complicated. This is one of those times. This isn’t the first Spiritual Sounding Board post about the Tullian Tchividjian situation, likely won’t be the last. Some are more resource oriented, others more topical – some of them even farther back were more pro- than not, as during his battles with The Gospel Coalition. But this situation has been looking more and more like destructive systems at work, with larger implications because of the various professions of people involved (publishers, elders, counselors, etc.) and the extent of Mr. Tchividjian’s influence. So – what is wisest to post, and when?

    In the movie Spotlight, then-editor of the Boston Globe, Marty Baron, talked about disclosure based on the purpose of the research. At one point, they had enough to go with a story about child sexual abuse cases within the Catholic churches at Boston — but had to wait a few more months to go with a story about the system that was covering up these cases of child abuse. (They hit the systems disclosure threshold with their initial mega-story on January 6, 2002. Then they followed up with over 600 articles and individuals’ stories over the course of that year, and several hundred more the year after that.)

    Meanwhile, the way I see it, there are multiple purposes at work at Spiritual Sounding Board. As far as the blog itself: to document situations of spiritual abuse, expose systems of abuse, present the personal stories of those affected, equip people with resources for discernment and recovery, challenge those who perpetrate abuse and those perpetuate it, etc. Behind the scenes, it is about being as supportive as possible to victims of abuse and violence, helping them process their experiences and move into recovery, and sometimes working with them to share their stories – if/when they’re ready – so others can benefit.

    As I noted at the beginning of the article, other stories and specifics await disclosure. Some story points may appear in an update to this post, or in their own separate article. Timing may depend on the person’s readiness to have information go public and deal with any follow-up or fallout from that. It may depend on having certain details checked, or particular individuals contacted, or evidences gathered (screenshots, photos, text quotes, etc.). A lot of variables are involved, but delays are for the protection of the people involved and for due diligence on our part in presenting the material.

    Is this post just gossip? I don’t think so … but then, I’m working with additional source materials, some published, some not. My purpose in this post was to start lining up facts time-wise with people involved at those points, and building up blocks of evidence about behavior patterns and about a relational system of protection. I saw this as necessary to release sooner rather than later, to equip readers with a framework that helps interpret events and opinions related to Mr. Tchividjian’s apparent attempt to relaunch his platform. So, that’s my thinking behind why I posted when it did.


  45. What do you think about the verse often used to return people to ministry–the gifts are without repentance ( Romans 11:29)?


  46. Part 1.
    Loura said,

    (Point 1A)
    The first is a seeming infantilzation of women by assuming they are never at least somewhat culpable in clergy sexual abuse, at least when it comes to extramarital affairs.

    (Point 1B)
    It’s hard to believe, for example, the woman in Sparks’ second narrative (Kara) never thought it was even a little weird that a pastor would send texts with swearing and crude comments. Grown women have a little sense about men, especially married or previously married ones.

    (Point 1C) Children are groomed due to their inexperience, innocent trust, and inability to fully control their situations. They are at the mercy of adults. Adults can certainly be manipulated, but can they really be “groomed”?

    (Point 2)
    The second concern has to do with how Sparks’ (and therefore this article by extension) reported information. It appears to be all hearsay, so why include it? I expressed this concern on Sparks’ blog too.

    Re: Point 1a.
    Comp (gender complementarianism) is a belief set taught at many churches and by many Christians, including some (or all?) of the women Sparks has blogged about.

    Complementarianism does infantilize women. That’s one of several things that is so wrong and dangerous about it.

    I was raised by complementarian parents who took me to churches that were complementarian. Most of the Christian magazines and books my mother bought, ordered, and brought home that I also read were from the complementarian perspective.

    I wrote about my own experiences with complementarianism at my own blog, and how it makes even adult women mentally into little girls – I have a few blog posts about it, I will just give you a link to one of several:

    _Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)_

    (This also deals with Point 1c):
    There are women, such as me, who are adults chronologically or physically speaking but mentally & psychologically, child-like in some ways.

    Concerning dealing with people & being in relationships, I was emotionally stunted & not street smart.
    Intellectually, I can read and write at a college-level, so you might not be able to guess I have this issue. But I do (or did – I’m working on getting over it.)

    The “Under Much Grace” blog has a few posts about that topic, and Julie Anne had that U.M.G. lady to a guest post about that here, under the heading,
    “Lourdes, Lifeboats, and Bounded Choice: … (The Complicated Process of Exiting Totalist Groups)”.

    Girls who are raised in certain types of religious households, theology, or churches arrive at adult-hood without adult skills. So yes, it does happen.


  47. Part 2, reply to Loura’s post

    Point 1b.
    Had I been in this woman’s situation, I may have found Tullian’s obscene jokes or crude language off-putting, but otherwise, my reaction likely would’ve been similar to the woman on Sparks’ blog.

    Sex is not the first thing to pop into my head.

    I guess I’m not like most adults and my mind does not easily wander into the gutter, or it’s not the first place my thinking goes to.

    Often, when I’m in a group of people (like at a party), and someone says something, and every one laughs at the comment, I’m the last one in the group to figure it out, then I say to myself “Oh, it must have been a sex-related joke.”

    Or, I might ask someone else, “Why is everyone laughing at his comment? I don’t see what’s so funny,” and I’ve had other adults lean over and whisper-explain it to me (it’s usually a sex thing).

    When I see the egg plant emoji, I think of an egg plant. Apparently, everyone else on the internet sees the egg plant emoji and thinks “Penis.” My mind just does not read sex into everything.

    Had Tullian sent me suggestive texts, I too probably would’ve written it off as a weird sense of humor, like the lady in the post did:

    I likely would not have thought, “Oh, he’s making a pass at me.”

    I also have poor self esteem and have always had a difficult time accepting any guy would be interested in me sexually or romantically.

    I had college female friends come up to me during breaks in art classes (life drawing) when I was in college to say,
    “Why are you NOT flirting back with our model?”
    Me: “What?”
    The friends: “The model guy likes you!! Flirt back.”
    Me: “He likes me? What are you talking about??”

    By the way, I was a “straight A” student in college. I am not a dummy. I’m excellent at book learning but not always so good at picking up on romantic overtures.

    So yes, an adult woman can get comments from a preacher (or some other guy) that are filled with suggestive content but not immediately figure out or assume he’s being “Sexy McFlirty” with her. I know, because I’ve been there.

    Point 2
    I believe Nate Sparks included screen shots of the text messages that the women had with Tullian, so you can see for yourself. (Unless you’re arguing they photoshopped it all?)

    What do any of these women have to gain by discussing any of this? I don’t see that they gain anything from it.


  48. Kay said,

    really don’t think Tullian is a Christian. I think he knows the lingo but sincerely doubt he really believes it in his heart. He sees this as following in the family business which is a multi-million dollar enterprise. I know that won’t go over with some but it is what it is. If he is not a believer, I think his victims have been fleeced by wolf in sheep’s clothing

    I agree 110% !!!

    I also feel that way about Mark Driscoll (preacher who used to be head of Mars Hill church, moved down to Arizona).


  49. Brad said,

    However, I think that even if we take Lisa’s details out of this present post, it would still contain hints at some highly specific information and documents from private sources as yet unpublished, because it isn’t the appropriate time or format to release them yet.

    Brad, you don’t have to reply to this post of mine. Just something about your post reminded me of something.

    If Julie Anne can explain or confirm this (or she may be too busy now eating turkey and pecan pie!), I think Julie Anne has been contacted on Twitter by one or more women who admitted publicly, in Tweets, that they were “Tullian” fans at one time, and that they went around defending Tullian online, before realizing what a weasel he is.

    I think some of them may have admitted publicly, in their Tweets, that Tullian asked them to attack others(?).

    Some of these women seem to be tweeting under their actual names, too (so they’re not anonymous sources).

    I don’t know if this would mean anything to Loura or not.


  50. Daisy, we are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow when my parents can be here.

    I have seen a couple of tweets written by ladies who acknowledged being duped by Tullian, defending him on Twitter, and now having regrets. These are the same women Nate refers to in his post.

    Liked by 1 person

  51. Salty said,

    The TT photo is not nearly as good as Doug Phillips.

    It needed to be said.

    Are you referring to the Phillips photo where he’s dressed in a Ben Franklin-ish type costume? That would be a difficult photo to top. 🙂

    I saw some photo of TT where the guy is really tan, the photo is under-exposed, but Lord have mercy does that man’s white teeth show up.

    Every time I see his extremely white teeth, I think of that ’80s song, Freeway Of Love, where Aretha Franklin sings,
    “Knew you’d be a vision in white / How’d you get your pants so tight”

    But in my mind, when I see those photos of Tullian Tchividjian, I shift the lines around to something like, “How’d you get your teeth so white?”

    For those not familiar with the song:
    _Freeway Of Love_ (on You Tube)


  52. I think the blog format is fundamentally hard for what you’re trying to do. It seems like you’d do better with a Wiki approach, where you get the links, the search capability and some form of table of content generation.

    Don’t know how WordPress works, but I would probably recommend a ToC format that would allow an up link (ToC), plus previous and next. It’s also hard to parse through what I’ve read before (many of the intros to articles in a series are duplicated) to what is new.

    Just some thoughts. I have a blog, but I’m trying more to just allow it be random thoughts. If I were writing a theological book, I would spend a lot more trying to organize and categorize. I doubt that I ever could, because I process things as overall themes, and I find it hard for others to get that without way too much groundwork.


  53. @Mark. I think I was born to write encyclopedias. So, yes, wiki format seems much more appropriate than WordPress blog at this point, given the mountain of stuff I’ve got (only half of it is currently “live”; other half in draft mode). So, thanks for that confirmation. After I finish curriculum writing project, maybe that will be next …


  54. Can adults be groomed… absolutely. Grooming is a complex, painstaking, patient process an abuser uses to get victims to let down their guard and distrust their own intuitions. Keep in mind that pedophiles who groom children also groom their parents and other adults who would otherwise protect the children; I’m sure they groom the adults every bit as much as they do the children. It’s a complex, patient, painstaking process in which they get people- adults and children- to let down their guard and distrust their own intuitions in order to get their target into a vulnerable situation where they can offend against them.

    Liked by 1 person

  55. Another way I look at it is that some people will exploit other people’s weakness for their own gain. Most of the population will not kick a person when they are down but a certain % of creeps will look for that soft spot and work through it to take advantage of another person. I believe Tullian exploits others for his own personal gain. He is careful to pick women that are legally over the age limit so as not to get into trouble. He can easily say, you are a big girl and knew the risks, but really did they have all the facts out in the open to make an INFORMED decision? I think not. That is where the manipulation comes in. It is false advertising at it’s best! If this was a commercial transaction Tullian would be up for fraud.

    The Christian world is not that savvy when it comes to this type of stuff. Most of us in the church have not lived in the world that Tullian is from. He has run with some major players in the church and out. I am sure he has been exposed to legalities around the dinner table in all his growing up. Those conversations have been much different than what his victims have grown up with. Tullian IS responsible for how he uses that knowledge.

    I don’t believe this guy is a true Christian or even believes a large part of the Bible. He is merely parroting back what he has learned over the years. I do not think he identifies with others emotionally or even has empathy for others. This lack of emotion can come across as super confident which might attract certain females, or males, that are looking for that kind of guy but it is a false front. There is no one home behind that mask. Look at EXPastors, they are a bunch of hurting guys that are desperate for a male hero. Tullian has exploited them as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Here is an article about how a therapist groomed a woman who had gone to him for help. There are many of the same dynamics in that situation. There is a great paper linked towards the end of what an informed consent for sex between a professional and client would look like if there was such a thing- very insightful. I noticed comments after the article by women who claimed their pastors had exploited them in the very same way.


  57. (Avid Reader gives Daisy a high five) 🙂

    Daisy, I love how we can always count on you to analyze things with strong logic and bring out some really powerful points!


  58. Irene,

    That’s a really interesting question.

    When someone pulls one verse out of the Bible to justify some doctrine, I try to analyze it by looking at the overall patterns of the Bible. The story of Saul and David shows us how David had to deal with an abuser in a position of power. At one point, David actually had to live with the Philistines for a while because he couldn’t escape the abuser while living among his own people.

    Here God changes his mind about appointing Saul and tells the prophet Samuel,
    “I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” 1Sam 15:11a (NIV)

    There’s a pattern in the Bible of God changing his mind when people disqualify themselves by choosing bad behavior. Another example is the Israelites missing out on the promised land. Then there’s Moses who disqualified himself from the promised land by one angry outburst.

    Yet the church will still keep putting these perpetrators back into the pulpit so no wonder one day Jesus will look at them and say “depart from me, I never knew you.”


  59. @Loura, I wonder if your church experience is just different from what I grew up with. I grew up with a church that was perhaps theologically sound, but culturally very patriarchal. There was a lot of judgment and there was a pretty established pecking order. Those who were above you could make snide, judgmental comments about you or your life, and you knew that if you ever challenged or got openly offended, the power structure would be sure to put you in your place.

    However, it was also very toxic and confusing, because the same people were held up as examples of the Christian walk – they had the best prayers, the best testimony, the best theology, etc. Women could be in that hierarchy, but were limited because they couldn’t be elders.

    The status quo was held by consistent preaching about worthlessness. We are worthless, our thoughts are sinful, we are often blind to our own sin, so we need other Christians to help us in our walk. At the same time, those in authority were “Spiritually gifted” to be superior to us. There was a process by which those people were identified, by the leaders, as having leadership gifts, and for elders, there was a slow process of grooming the congregation to recognize these people, who were once worthless, as being superior in all ways and worthy of obedience. For pastors, it was a fast process – three years of seminary. The “vetting process” was assumed to be so grueling and thorough that only the true beacons of light could survive, and there were stories about how one candidate had this or that latent sin exposed that disqualified him.

    As such, I can completely understand why people growing up in Evangelical patriarchy can be very susceptible to grooming. They have been taught to mistrust their own judgment. They have been taught that their leaders are on a higher plane of spirituality. They have been taught to trust the rigorous process that leaders must go through to be ordained and installed.

    One experience I had with this was when I was asked by leadership to serve on a church committee. It was a significant time commitment. I hated committee work. I had a young family and a wife who was struggling with that. But… because the leaders obviously saw something that I didn’t, I served. Month after month, pretty much every idea I had was shot down by the committee leaders as ridiculous and stupid, only to have them resurrect it six months later as their own brilliant plan. I would come home month after month for years upset about the meetings, and my wife would say, “why don’t you quit?” I would always reply, because the elders asked me.


  60. @Avid, completely agree, and to complicate prooftexting further, there are many things being taught that are accommodations for where the people are (milk, not solid food). For example, Paul writes to Philemon, who is a slave owner and master of Onesimus. Paul doesn’t argue that owning another person is contrary to scripture. In fact, Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon knowing that under Roman law, he could be put to death for escaping. Instead of arguing against slavery, Paul approaches freeing Onesimus as being a gift to Paul, or even something that Paul might be owed based on the fact that Paul was instrumental in converting Philemon.

    So, we often have to keep in mind that God’s ultimate pattern for humanity is clouded by the fact that he has to deal with people who have been raised in a sinful culture of patriarchy and cruelty towards other humans. So, perhaps even Paul’s NT instructions for the church are not legislating the “end goal”, but the next step on the journey away from patriarchy.


  61. Shy1 – Thank you so much for sharing the Surviving Therapist Abuse link and blog. This reaffirms that, yes, adults can be groomed. Men and women. And, it doesn’t necessarily happen when the victim is in a vulnerable state. The victim could be caught up in celebrity or as one commentor mentioned, it was in his(?) work environment.

    Grooming is a slow process. Usually a small gesture is made to see what response is received. If it is received well, the abuser stays there for a bit then moves on to another small moment. If it is not received well, the abuser will back off and try again at another time. And, yes, it often involves slowly making spouses, family members or friends feel comfortable all along the way.


  62. Mark wrote: ” So, perhaps even Paul’s NT instructions for the church are not legislating the “end goal”, but the next step on the journey away from patriarchy.”

    Much of what Paul wrote to the early churches about women is opposite of how both he and Jesus lived. Both Paul and Jesus relied on women patrons to support them and further their ministries.


  63. Side story: a relative came over today and shared the story of how her parents met and married.

    They grew up in a Christian community in Asia (and they’re Mennonite Germans).

    My husband’s grandfather (consider an elder in the village) told a 38 yr old happily single woman (unrelated to him) that he had a friend also single who he’d like her to meet.

    She agreed to meet him. So he travelled from another Asian country to meet her.

    Her friend turns up at her house to say, “who’s this guy you’re getting married to and why didn’t you tell me?!”.

    “I’m not getting married!”, was her response.

    This ‘elder’ took it upon himself to arrange a marriage between a happily single adult woman and a random guy.

    She went along with it only so she wouldn’t embarrass the man. He was unaware of her lack of consent and she felt sorry for him.

    Can you imagine this?

    This is patriarchy in action in Christian Mennonite circles 50 years ago.


    And totally unacceptable.

    Oh, and the elder in this story sought forgiveness from the woman.

    God dealt with him over the issue.


  64. Grooming goes hand in hand with thought reform. Jim Jones used grooming and thought reform to create his cult. Chuck O’Neal used grooming by curtailing his messages to be exactly what we were lacking in our former church. He had talked with several people and knew what our issues were, and so with that knowledge, he was able to lure us in and then the thought reform process began.

    I will go into Tullian’s grooming process in future posts. Brad and I are in contact quite a bit discussing this case and I have lots of material that I cannot publish because it’s not been the right timing. My first job is to protect victims. But with this information, I have enough personal accounts from victims to draw general conclusions of how how he worked. It needs to be exposed.


  65. Kay, as a former CRPC member, I can corroborate the details you shared in your posts. Many valiant Christians stood up to Tullian’s bullying. I shared some of my experiences in an earlier blogpost here (“Debbie’s Story”).

    TT continually confirms his arrogance that I saw initially displayed in 2009 at CRPC.

    I have taken note recently that he rarely, if at all, mentions Jesus. When he does discuss the Deity, he refers to Him almost exclusively as God. I thank the Lord for exposing TT’s sinful behavior.


  66. There are too many comments coming too quickly to respond to each, but I have read and carefully considered every one. Here are my thoughts:

    First, you should probably know Nate Sparks did write me back via email, and essentially assured me I could trust him, there was nothing to worry about, and his post was journalistically sound.

    Likewise, both JA and Brad (author)–Brad, thank you for all of your detailed replies–have assured me they take research seriously (and I believe them) and there is more information that has yet to be revealed. However, as an English major and former journalism major, I strongly disagree that any real proof has been given, and it disturbs me greatly to see one man’s post (Sparks’) and his own words about two alleged anonymous women with nothing else to go on, copied without question here and on several other blogs.

    I reiterate those points from my original comment, without meaning to cause offense or suggest that anyone here is untrustworthy. From my professional and personal experiences, I have seen many cult leaders give what appear at first glance to be convincing arguments, because they appeal to good emotions, but lack any real evidence or detail. When asked, they always claim there is “more information coming”. When, and if more details do come, they are also not based on facts, but emotions and an appeal to divine inspiration and authority. So I don’t trust that argument anymore. It rather scares me, in fact. As you will see in the link below, I once bought into such arguments and it led to some of the most painful outcomes.

    In regards to the adult grooming question, several of you made a good case concerning the power dynamics of Calvinism/Reformed/Neo-Calvinism churches. Still, I feel somewhat responsible for poor decisions I made when I was in such situations. I harbor deep regrets for things I said and did, even though I was taken advantage of, even though I was young and inexperienced. The women in Sparks’ posts do not appear to feel unempowered or enamored. At most they describe a professional friendship.

    In the case of Sparks’ articles, the alleged two women he speaks for (and others, he assures readers), did not seem to actually be very involved with T.T., neither did they do anything really wrong (I might be mistaken there; all the stories and cross-overs has my head spinning, even with Brad’s helpful timeline), nor were they taken advantage of since they were not very involved with him, past lending emotional and professional support for someone they now regret supporting (allegedly).

    Again, I am not at all defending T.T. I don’t know him, but I’ve known people like him (at least, based on Sparks’ accounts). They are charming, charismatic, ambitious, and selfish to the core. They value looks and money and status above all else, even while they appear to be laying down their lives to serve Jesus. They are not nice people. They tend to be haughty and liars. I don’t know that those qualities necessarily make them predators, however. Both accounts even claim the women each received real help, encouragement, and support from T.T. when they were at their lowest. The saddest part about charlatans, is they would not exist but for those who flock to their spotlight in order to be part of something big (not necessarily a bad intention). I’ve been there, and I know how hard it is to convince someone in the middle of their “something big”. Thankfully, these movements do seem to burn themselves out, but then they leave confused and hurting people in their wake. Now I’m rambling.

    Thank you all for your thoughts.


  67. I’d post the same two links I post over at two:

    The back story is of a serial bigamist and fraudster – the second episode which I linked first deals with the manipulative behaviour that – so may be of more interest to listen to first for people here. There are quite a few resonant phrases there, including ‘pyscopaths tend to be trawl fishermen rather than line fishermen’ – reminds me of the SMSing tactic being used


  68. Even if we were to temporarily suspended hearing further testimonies regarding how TT treats women (and men) pending additional proof or evidence… I think we can all agree, based on publically acknowledged facts, that TT is someone who “perverts the grace of our God into a license for immorality”.

    We already know enough in order to apply this scripture and the entire book of Jude to the situation.

    I do think other people’s experiences and testimony are important to hear at a time that is right for them to speak out.

    Jude 4 (NIV)
    For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

  69. Loura, your concerns are why I have kept my info to myself for 1-1/2 yrs. Some feel comfortable sharing info without source documentation. I would rather not. This has been a tough case because people are still afraid to come forward. That is the problem in so many situations like this. There are often repercussions for coming forward, sadly. I think the info I provide will be compelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  70. @Loura, “I harbor deep regrets for things I said and did, even though I was taken advantage of, even though I was young and inexperienced.”

    YES!!! I feel the same way, but when I was in it, I was completely ignorant of what I was doing and I thought I was doing the work of God.


  71. Julie Anne, loura did a much better job but she makes the same point that I tried to make recently about comments regarding Franklin Graham.


  72. Julie Anne & Brad: Excellent Article; thank you for posting and also to N.Sparks for ALL WORK. Doesn’t anyone think TT is NOT a borderline sociopath, schizophrenic? Regarding publishing companies: Years ago got David Wilkerson to bench a very Famous Pastor* for endorsing Oral Sex and Sodomy from Pulpit, Sunday School Class and Counseling and his argument was he had read 3 books by T.N. Publishers endorsing and so that makes it right because a publisher publishes 3 books on subject (came back to DW and wanted to know who the Author’s were)? ANYONE?
    *Also, he was over a major Youth Ministry that sent missionary youth out world-wide!


  73. Regarding Counselors: There has to be something in play that NONE of these fallen Pastor’s can pick who they want for their counselor, NOT AT ALL or example:
    Assemblies of God cannot pick who they want for their fallen pastor’s, they usually pick their own internal affairs and that doesn’t work=same dogma of NO true healing and or accountability let alone discernment*. That’s why Focus on the Family took out an article out in Charisma against Ted Haggard because he didn’t submit to what was mandated and true counselors. T.H. picked and that doesn’t work, men who can’t discern and are part of the backslapping flattery group or friends. Same for Paul Cain, when Men in Place wanted him to go where they wanted he rejected and they also took out an ad in Charisma exposing same. Be interesting to send them to Herb Goldberg Ph.D, Susan Forward Ph.D; and or Dr. Laura and see what their conclusion was because they have discernment and Wisdom.
    *Can see that with Paul Crouch Sr.’s homosexual affair that made L.A. Times and “Losing My Religion by William Lobdell” and Roberts Liardon (he picked some pastor in Texas, so NO true accountability and or what John Paul Jackson teachings in CD/Tape of “Jezebel Spirit” of “True Repentance is too change”)! A lot of those types covered in “Don’t Call Me Brother” by Austin Miles (look at the year that was written). When David Hocking fell, he wrote the two year accountability but then when it came to him to be accountable; it was different story (it was in the news). Covered in: The Fleecing of Christianity by Jackie Alnor of NO accountability; look at “Ashes to Gold” by Patti Roberts. This was addressed hardcore (2001) to many Heads of Church Leadership; and it’s like they haven’t had years to put something in play.


Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s