Part #2 of 4, by Julie Anne Smith and Brad Sargent
Part #1 introduced the third woman reportedly seduced by Tullian Tchividjian into a sexual relationship. Her story extends his womanizing behaviors back into 2013. This post shows an infographic on what Tullian Tchividjian’s pursuit of these women looks like, when it is layered over some of his ministry platform and publication data for Fall 2013 through 2016. (UPDATE: The revised version below of 12-17-2016 replaced the original version posted on 12-16-2016. See the updates in Notes #1 below the infographic for details on the differences.)
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Notes on the Infographic
1. The above infographic was provided to Spiritual Sounding Board by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. The preparer based this chart on information that appeared in the Partial Timeline post, which provided details of various women whose connection with Tullian Tchividjian has been made public, and publication information that was likewise available online.
UPDATE 12-16-2016. We just realized that the infographic wording about women “[Tullian] carried on with” is confusing. We apologize, and will get the infographic updated as soon as possible to make clear that there was only reported emotional and sexual grooming by Tullian Tchividjian with regard to “Lisa,” “Kara,” and “Kara’s friend” — and not a sexual relationship.
UPDATE 12-17-2016. The revised version includes a timeline for this woman whose story is newly gone public. It also makes clear that there was only reported emotional and sexual grooming by Tullian Tchividjian with regard to “Lisa,” “Kara,” and “Kara’s friend” — and not a sexual relationship. (We plan to talk about aspects of “grooming” in the near future.) Specific points of difference from the original infographic are:
* Adds this newly public woman, and extends the timeline back into 2013, when Tullian Tchividjian reportedly started pursuing her.
* Changes the headline from “carried on with” to simply “pursued,” and corrects a misspelling.
* Regroups the non-sexual grooming victims in a separate section. Their timeline bars have a patterned foreground (slashes), plus a dotted line box surrounding them as a group.
* Modifies annotations on the left-hand side to help make the distinction on the sexual relationship aspect.
2. The background research sections below on sales data and “character contradictions” were compiled by Brad/futuristguy. They are part of his due diligence in research to produce an extensive forthcoming case study on this situation, focusing on systems of accountability and how they succeeded or failed, and possible reasons why. This information on publications is all drawn from publicly posted documents and websites, and the sales data links are from CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) statistics.
3. The public platforms of Tullian Tchividjian – including his books – have become an issue of public concern and debate. This includes his book publishing activities. Julie Anne Smith will be posting an article in this series with information geared specifically around the impact of his books at David C Cook. Meanwhile, research continues into details on his other publishers: Crossway’s prior publication of his books, and the timing and reasons for their apparent withdrawal for publication; and ongoing publication of his books by Multnomah. This research article covers details from all three of these publications.
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CBA Sales Data from 2014 ~ And “Character Contradictions”
One Way Love, which was released October 1, 2013, began significantly increasing its sales in 2014.
*He was on these Top Seller lists in April and May of 2014. However, from May through June of 2014, Mr. Tchividjian was involved in clergy sexual misconduct with “Woman #1.” This is not some mere allegation or accusation, but a situation of that he eventually at least acknowledged as an “inappropriate relationship” after evidence was brought to light in March 2016. A March 17, 2016, Christian Post article by Leonardo Blair states the following. QUOTE:
Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida, confirmed Thursday that they have fired Tullian Tchvidjian, 43, grandson of evangelical icon Billy Graham, after he revealed a previously unconfessed affair he had with another woman.
“When we heard the disclosures he made just a few days ago, the session acted within hours to end his employment at the church,” Willow Creek’s Senior Pastor Kevin Labby told The Christian Post in an interview Thursday morning.
“The disclosures that he made involved the fact that he had a previously unconfessed inappropriate relationship with another woman. He didn’t share specifics with us. He said the person, that’s worth saying … there were no specifics,” Labby continued. “The session did not feel that specifics were necessary for our purposes right now in making a decision about whether to keep him on staff. So they’ve terminated his position but they have not distanced themselves from caring for Tullian and calling him to repentance.”
Mr. Tchividjian had confessed this “affair” privately to his mentor/family friend Steve Brown and to two elders at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) where he had been Senior Pastor; they kept silent about it, and the one elder who was still at CRPC in March 2016 was fired for failure to carry out his duty as a member of the Presbytery to inform them of Mr. Tchividjian’s moral failure. The reported roles of these three men are detailed in a March 18, 2016, Christian Post article by Leonardo Blair.
CBA Sales Data from 2015 ~ And “Character Contradictions”
One Way Love continued its sales in 2015.
**He was on one or both Top Seller lists in January, March, April, July, and September of 2015. However, in April, May, and June of 2015, Mr. Tchividjian was involved in clergy sexual misconduct with Rachel (her real name), a congregation member at CRPC who was also married at the time. This is not some mere allegation or accusation, but a situation of adultery that became known in June 2015 when the IT department at CRPC informed Mr. Tchividjian that the activity of his phone was readable on the church server. In a November 30, 2016, Christian Post article by Leonardo Blair, Mr. Tchividjian addressed both that the IT department exposed the clergy sexual misconduct – a detail that had not been made public before this – and that Rachel was the woman, as she had not previously been identified publicly. QUOTE:
The Christian Post reached out to Tchividjian about Rachel and several claims she made against him in the confessionals. He did not deny that she was the woman that led to his fall and that the IT department at Coral Ridge discovered their affair.
He dismissed the following claims made by Rachel, however, as “absolutely false.”
Rachel claims Tchividjian: Encouraged her husband to divorce her without her knowledge; suggested to her that if Coral Ridge failed as a church and he was able to buy the building he would turn it into a nightclub; borrowed thousands of dollars from her and her husband to hire a private investigator to look into his now ex-wife, and said he does not believe premarital sex is unbiblical.
Although the article states it in the negative – “He did not deny …” these details about Rachel and the IT department – doesn’t it seem more than reasonable to take that as his own confirmation of them?
Also, it is difficult to accept Mr. Tchividjian’s categorical dismissal of Rachel’s claim that he “borrowed thousands of dollars from her and her husband to hire a private investigator to look into his now ex-wife.” He has not as yet offered any explanation for the existence of:
- An invoice for $11,130 for hiring by Rachel of a private investigator. A copy of the invoice is in section #1 in Part #1 of Rachel’s account of what happened between Mr. Tchividjian and herself.
- A check in the matching amount of $11,130 from William (Tullian’s legal first name) Tchividjian, to Rachel, dated March 18, 2016, with a memo note: “Private Investigator.” Photos of the check are in section #5 in Part #2 of Rachel’s account.
Nor has he offered any explanation or theory on why Rachel and her husband would ever hire private investigators to trail Kim Tchividjian for some unknown reason in the first place. Does that not seem odd?
***Also, from approximately June 2015 onward, Mr. Tchividjian was reportedly involved with emotional and sexual grooming of “Lisa” (from June 2015 through March 2016) as reported by Nate Sparks on his Sparking Conversation blog in a November 21 article and Kara (from September 2014 through September 2016) in a November 23 article. He was also involved, according to several sources, with Stacie Phillips, whom he eventually married in August 2016. According to a November 28, 2016, Christian Post article by Leonardo Blair:
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What others in the Christian community were already saying and doing,
in light of four women’s stories. What will they do now with five?
To gain context into the larger picture of things here, it is important to get an overall sense of what has happened in the past 15 weeks. Here is an abbreviated timeline plus links for those who want to know more. The basic gist is this: While the Christian community — especially abuse survivor communities — waits for clarification and action from David C Cook, many individuals and organizations are already expressing their own opinions about Mr. Tchividjian’s character and behavior patterns, and acting on their conscience.
Key Timeline Source Links: Blog Articles and News Reports
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.”
September 23, 2016. ExPastor.com posts the article, God is Not Done with You Yet. And Neither Are We, by Bo Lane. Four days later, ExPastor.com posts an article by Tullian Tchividjian himself, The Freedom in Losing it All, in which he states he considered suicide. 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.) It’s apparently a come-back to the limelight.
September 30, 2016. The woman from 2013 contacts Julie Anne.
November 21, 2016. “Lisa” shares her story in “Do Unto Others” by Nate Sparks on November 21, 2016.
Starting November 22, 2016, some former promoters/protectors of Tullian Tchividjian issue apologies for having not believed the victims (or participating in ganging up on doubters on social media), or issue other kinds of statements, such as that they are disposing of his books, removing links/sermons/podcasts from their website, etc. As additional women’s stories are made public, the kinds of responses are amplified as those who’ve been leaders respond publicly.
November 23, 2016. “Kara” shares her story (and mentions friend who was also groomed) in “Master of Manipulation” by Nate Sparks on November 23, 2016.
November 29-December 1, 2016. Rachel shares her story: link to Part 1.
December 2, 2016. The Christian Post. Tullian Tchividjian Says His Family Is ‘Fighting to Breathe’; Book Publisher Remains ‘Committed’, by Leonardo Blair.
December 1, 2016. Warren Throckmorton. Statement: Former Church Says Tullian Tchividjian Should Not Be in Ministry, by Warren Throckmorton. Includes an update on December 2 about the Christian Post article with a quote from an official at David C Cook.
December 2, 2016. Julie Anne contacts David C Cook about apparent contradictory information re: a next book by Tullian Tchividjian.
December 4, 2016. Dee Parsons of The Wartburg Watch tweets that she is ready to never purchase another David C Cook product again, because of Tullian Tchividjian.
Between December 4 and 6, 2016, David C Cook finally updates their catalog’s author profile for Tullian Tchividjian. It clearly has not been updated since at least June 2015, because it mentioned him being Senior Pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, being married to Kim, and living in Florida. (Note: This change overlaps the few days in which multiple dramatic actions were made by survivor bloggers, former promoters, and the Board of GRACE.)
December 5, 2016. A Call to Repentance is issued by a group of 7 men and 2 women who have been closely associated with Tullian Tchividjian’s ministry in the recent past. (One man, Scotty Smith, later drops out of the signers.) “Inasmuch as Tullian Tchividjian has habitually and impenitently used his public platform, his family’s good name, and the name of Christ for his own selfish ends, we believe that he has disqualified himself from any form of public vocational ministry” (emphasis added).
December 5, 2016. Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian notes that he is pulling all Tullian-related materials off of his website.
December 8, 2016. Spiritual Sounding Board. GRACE Releases Statement Regarding Tullian Tchividjian – Supports Victims, Challenges Churches with Constructive Changes. Signers include Tullian Tchividjian’s brother, Boz (founder of GRACE) and their uncle, Emmanuel. Links to GRACE social media sites and their statement: Facebook. Squarespace. Twitter.
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Sorting Out What Happened …
While the Christian community — especially abuse survivor communities — waits for clarification and action from David C Cook, many individuals and organizations are already expressing their opinions and acting on them.
Pastor Kevin Labby of Willow Creek (Presbyterian) Church was responsible for hiring Tullian Tchividjian onto their staff in August 2015, only weeks after Tchividjian was forced to resign as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Pastor Labby was also a member of the relaunch for Tchividjian’s Liberate Network in February 2016 — and part of the firing of Tchividjian in March 2016 and shutting down of the Liberate Network non-profit when it became known that Tchividjian had a second, previously undisclosed incident of clergy sexual misconduct going back to 2014.
I asked Pastor Labby about some of the details of that period — especially after Willow Creek Church fired Mr. Tchividjian — and how it relates to David C Cook. He offered the following statement for me to release:
A representative from David C Cook contacted me right after Tullian Tchividjian left us. I told the gentleman that our Session had considerable concerns about Mr. Tchividjian’s honesty with us. We didn’t know as much then, but – even so – we were sufficiently concerned. The representative ended the call with me, saying that they were going to go ahead [with publishing his next book]. I was very surprised, to say the least.
Specifically, the representative asked if Mr. Tchividjian completed his care plan with us. I responded that he did so, at least outwardly, but that we later concluded he deceived us during his time with us and misrepresented key facts that put us at a considerable disadvantage. At the time the representative called, we only knew about Mr. Tchividjian’s disclosure of the 2014 affair. We didn’t know the fuller extent of the situation. I was cordial but clear with him.
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… Publicly Calling for Tullian Tchividjian
To Step Away from All Forms of Ministry …
There have been three major calls for Tullian Tchividjian to step down from all public ministry and/or platforms.
The first call for Tullian Tchividjian to step away was December 1, 2016, from Pastor Kevin Labby.It was posted on Warren Throckmorton’s blog at approximately 11:30 PM (Eastern time): Statement: Former Church Says Tullian Tchividjian Should Not Be in Ministry. This came just days after the series had begun on Spiritual Sounding Board with Rachel’s account. The source of the statement — the Session of Willow Creek Church (no connection to Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois) — is significant, as Pastor Labby had originally hired Tullian Tchividjian in August 2015 after his forced resignation from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Pastor Labby was also serving on the board of the relaunched Liberate Network in February 2016 — and both fired Mr. Tchividjian in March 2016 when the undisclosed situation of adultery in 2014 came to light, and one of five who resigned from the Liberate Network board that same week. (The four remaining board members canceled future conferences and shuttered the organization.) Here is the entire statement:
We are deeply grieved by these latest allegations, and have profound gratitude for the courageous individuals who shared them, as well as those who worked tirelessly to chronicle their stories. I read their accounts multiple times through tears. My prayer is that they will receive the necessary care to move forward, and toward that end we continue to offer earnest prayers and full support.
We would also like to state in the clearest possible terms that we do not believe that Mr. Tchividjian should be in any form of public or vocational ministry. Rather, inasmuch as he is truly repentant and in accordance with his membership vows, we would urge him to immediately return to his church of membership, submit to its leadership, and pursue healing and renewal through repentance in the context of his local church to the glory of God and for the good of the broader Church and her witness to the world.
On behalf of the Session of Willow Creek Church,
Kevin Labby, Senior Pastor
Willow Creek Church – Winter Springs, FL
You also need to know that Pastor Labby has been, to my knowledge, the only leader who has connected personally with any of the victims to hear them out. He has also sent messages via me to the other victims I am in touch with. He has expressed his apologies for his part in their trauma, talked about how he has been praying for them, and sending his hopes and well-wishes for their finding healing from what happened to them and emotional support along the way. I appreciate the conciliatory role Pastor Labby has played, and the survivors have expressed their gratitude to me to send along to him as well.
The second call for Tullian Tchividjian to step away from all ministry platforms was December 5, 2016. This A Call to Repentance was issued by a group of six men and two women who have been closely associated with Tullian Tchividjian’s ministry in the recent past. After recounting the history of confrontations and supposed repentance by Mr. Tchividjian, the group follows with their appeal to him:
Inasmuch as Tullian Tchividjian has habitually and impenitently used his public platform, his family’s good name, and the name of Christ for his own selfish ends, we believe that he has disqualified himself from any form of public vocational ministry.
For the sake of his eternal soul, we implore Tullian Tchividjian to repent of his wickedness and demonstrate his repentance by submitting himself to the leadership of his church of membership, pursuing forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation with those whom he has sinned against.
The third statement was posted on December 8, 2016 — by the Board of Directors for G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), which includes Tullian’s older brother, Boz, who founded G.R.A.C.E, and their uncle, Emmanuel.
The GRACE board is deeply disturbed about the revelations of sexual misconduct by Tullian Tchividjian. As an organization that deals with the abuse of God’s lambs and the damage silence causes we feel compelled to speak. We believe that no material institution is more sacred to God than His lambs – be it church or mission or family. Institutions ordained by God were destroyed at His hand when they became corrupt. Given that we must be what He calls His people to be or we too will have chosen silence and darkness over truth and light.
Their statement showed empathetic support for victims and gave four constructive solutions for changing Church systems that perpetuate abuse:
- Seminary education of pastors about maintaining appropriate boundaries.
- Rigorous screening and selection of pastors or other church leaders who provide counseling.
- Implement checks and balances to minimize abusive situations.
- Implementing clear policies for responding to abusive conduct, including reporting abuse to the appropriate authorities, removing abusive pastors from any leadership role and, most importantly, supporting survivors.
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… Pulling His Podcasts, Sermon Links, Books,
And Other Resources from Their Websites …
Crossway had apparently already removed from their catalog the books Tullian Tchividjian published with them. They also changed the covers and catalog descriptions of two books that he wrote the foreword for, and removed the material he wrote for them. (Details in the forthcoming post on publishing and Tullian Tchividjian.)
Longtime friend and supporter, Chris Rosebrough spoke out on his Captain’s Log blog post, Tullian Resources Removed, on December 6, noting that he had removed Tchividjian’s materials from his site:
In light of the recent revelations regarding Tullian Tchividjian and my joining together with other pastors and friends in calling Tullian to repentance, Fighting for the Faith and Pirate Christian Radio have removed all resources that contain teaching or conversations with Mr. Tchividjian.
In journalism there is a hierarchy of evidence and Primary Source Evidence is at the top of that list. However, when it is demonstrated that a primary source has intentionally provided false information in order to obscure the truth and create a false and misleading narrative, that primary source is no longer credible. Recent revelations have demonstrated that Mr. Tchividjian has done exactly that. Therefore, all posts that could be perceived as ongoing support for Mr. Tchividjian have been removed from this site.
I can no longer support Tullian Tchividjian. Instead, I consider him to be a very dangerous and self-serving false teacher who has turned the gospel into a license for sin.
When I searched for Tullian’s name on his blog, the only blog post that came up was the above article, so he indeed was serious!
Others have stated on social media that they have removed links to his sermons from their website, disposed of his books from their shelves, deleted his podcasts and interviews from their lists, this includes Dom Savatore of Christ Hold Fast.
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… And Apologizing for Complicity
in Keeping Tullian Tchividjian a Celebrity.
Some who have been accomplices have come forward publicly to apologize. For example, this thread from Marci Preheim, started on November 22 – just after “Lisa’s” account was published, about her experiences of being groomed emotionally and sexually by Tchividjian.
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Plus, David C Cook Also Faces a Possible Boycott
At least one “survivor blogger,” Dee Parsons from The Wartburg Watch, has already gone on record that she is ready to boycott Cook:
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The past few weeks have seen some very surprising developments, such as those shared in this post. Some who had been staunch defenders of Tullian Tchividjian have done a 180-degree turn, based on the new evidence provided by Rachel’s vulnerable and detailed sharing of her experiences. She added new details and reinforced already seen patterns that Mr. Tchividjian himself has consistently shown in, such as skewing the situation to avoid genuine accountability or taking real responsibility. He is no longer in control over the public narrative, and all of that has been sparking some major changes to his public persona.
But there is a lot of animosity and misunderstanding to deal with still. Some survivors say this flurry of activity is, “Too little, too late.” Others say, “Better late than never.” Some who are just now changing their views may feel they’ll never be able to do enough to satisfy the other side.
In the middle of this, we offer this plea: “For us all to play a role in making the Church a safer place, we’ve got to develop better channels of communication and learn to work together in grace and understanding.”
Working together means we need to extend grace to let those who’ve been on the side of abusers have time to mentally and emotionally work through how Tullian duped them. And that means persevering with abuse survivors as they blurt out bits and pieces of their story as we process putting it together in a way that makes sense. It means watching for what the Holy Spirit seems to be doing, because there is always more going on behind the scenes than either abuse survivors or (former) promoters/protectors of abusers realize.
This next part is so important.
Maybe the most difficult thing is that it means being more open to talking with people we’ve been at odds with, as they enter a change process — for the sake of something bigger than any of us: a Church where emotional and spiritual and sexual abuse is not tolerated, and those who’ve been victimized receive help to overcome the trauma that they’ve experienced.
We’re grateful for the women and men who’ve been sharing their stories of transformation because of this situation, and building the bridges that make this vision of the Church more of a reality.