Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tullian Tchividjian Gets a Pass

There are those who think the press, Christendom and the PCA have been hard on Tullian Tchividjian. It's hard to see how. Tullian has a job already, and is getting a divorce. His friend and counselor, Paul Tripp chimed in and proclaimed:
"From the point of Tullian's confession and repentance, he has been committed to dealing with the issues of his heart and to restoring his marriage. Much grace, counsel, thought, prayer and action has been invested over a six-month period of time with the hope of healing the marriage, but sadly, there are times when the trust is so deeply broken and patterns so set in place that it seems best to recognise (sic) that brokenness, cry out for God's grace, mourn, commit to forgiveness, rest in the truths of the gospel and with a grieved heart, move on.."
Those keeping up with the subject are probably familiar with Tullian's unfortunate public posturing during his dismissal from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and less so with the "non-denial denial" protestations of his wife of 21 years, Kim. Her statement on the matter was officially:
The Washington Post - "The statement reflected my husband’s opinions but not my own. Please respect the privacy of my family at this time, thank you. I do thank everyone for the outpouring of love for my family as well during this difficult time and we appreciate all the prayers and support we are receiving."
Essentially, Tullian accused his wife of Adultery, and she has never denied it. The worst media inflicted trauma Tullian endured for disclosing his wife's Adultery (her statement should be regarded as a plea of nolo contendere) has been the accusation that he was blaming her.

Since Kim has not denied the affair, let's get this out of the way first. It's her fault. Period.

We did need to know that Kim strayed as an explanation for Tullian's suspension from the Ministry at Coral Ridge, since that is what happened first (this is the official version so far). Shortly after his suspension, Tullian also revealed (apparently when confronted) that he had an "affair" of his own after the discovery of his wife's. A lot of discussion could occur here about what Tullian did being a sin or not. To some it seems rather clear. It's not that clear.

One explanation for why Tullian's affair was not a sin is the great divide on Reformed positions over what constitutes marriage. Since the State has "redefined" it recently, there are a lot of people in Theological circles that proclaim marriage simply isn't as the State defines it, but rather a compact with private parties. Some say the Church is one of those parties. Some don't. Virtually all conservative Christians think God is a party to that contract. Tullian, in this shifting legal environment could have regarded his marriage as already "Irreparably broken" and simply went and made another private agreement, with his and her genitalia as the signatories. Though that act almost certainly involves or is a sin, the main point is we don't know, and we should.

Why should we?
1st Timothy 5:19 & 20 - "Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear." (ESV)
For an Elder to be disciplined, he must be unrepentant, and in that event, the proceedings become public, and since they are public, we should know.

This is not to say that I am entitled to know, or that you are entitled to know, but that the PCA was entitled to know, and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church should know, and as a result of their knowing, we should be able to know. In this very public social media world, of which Tullian was an active member, this means we'd know if we were keeping up at all. We don't.

Know what you say? Kim's correspondent in her affair. We don't know. The correspondent in Tullian's subsequent sexual escapade. We don't know. The marital status of both correspondents, since that defines what the sins are of which Kim and Tullian are accused, and may in fact lead to other untouched areas in need of Church discipline. If both correspondents were married members of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, the well goes unfortunately deeper. Were both Kim and Tullian having affairs with members of the opposite sex? Yes, that question would not have to be asked if the discipline of Tullian had been handled properly, but again, we'd be able to know, and if we were keeping up, we'd know. We don't.

Let us for a moment assume that all reconciliation avenues regarding the dissolution of the Tchividjian marriage have been exhausted. David undertook to marry Bathsheba. What of Tullian and Kim? Tullian is already employed by another PCA Church, so the PCA is saying "Everything is resolved." It cannot possibly be so.

Another less than idle thought is this: Why hasn't the press exposed the identities of these persons? Usually they reserve such "privacy" rights only for those they regard as philosophical fellow travelers. Is this the way the see Tullian Tchividjian?
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Friday, July 03, 2015

Tullian Trouble, Unanswered Questions

By now, most every Reformed person, who is at all connected, is aware of the resignation June 21st of Tullian Tchividjian from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. What we know is mostly sanitized, with accompanying pleadings by Tullian and his wife Kim, to respect their "privacy."

Sorry folks, it doesn't work like that.

What everyone should know first, is how an elder in the church is to be disciplined. From the King James, 1st Timothy 5:
"Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
Other translations insert words modifying the sin, into an ongoing problem, creating the issue of Tullian's immediate repentance, and whether or not that affords him privacy. He has been disciplined though, severely, with the loss of his position. From Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church:
"Several days ago, Pastor Tullian admitted to moral failure, acknowledging his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and resigned – effective immediately.

We are saddened by this news, but are working with and assisting Pastor Tullian and his family to help them through this difficult time, and asking people to join us in praying that God will bring restoration through this process and healing to all involved."
This means he has been disciplined publicly, but we really don't know why.
The Washington Post - "I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy."
Since discipline is in place, it should have been public, because Tullian is an elder, or there should be no discipline, since he has confessed to his error and repented of it.


Paul Tripp, a PCA pastor came down to talk to Tullian and initially pronounced him "not disqualified." At some point shortly thereafter it was discovered that Tullian was fooling around on his own. Tullian, who was initially on sabbatical, now moved to being disqualified.

I contend we do not know Tullian's sin, until we know who with whom he sinned. Frankly, we don't know if he sinned with a guy, though I doubt it. In these days and times, you need to ask. Everything about the aftermath of Tullian's sin has been well managed. We don't know who his lover is, and despite many searches, for the nearly two weeks after the confession, there isn't even any evidence on the internet of someone asking. Do you seriously believe even the press, who revels in the fall of a pastor, hasn't even asked?

Why is it important? Even if it is a heterosexual sin (and it's hard to accept the sigh of relief that accompanies knowing that), we still don't know the sins Tullian has committed. Was she married? If she was, the sin is bigger. If she wasn't married, what sort of obligation has Tullian created for himself?
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