Tully Tchividjian removed from Gospel Coalition...

Craig French sent me a link to a post by Billy Graham's grandson announcing he'd been booted from the Gospel Coalition franchise. Two things.

First, note that Mr. Tchividjian reports he was purged without the honor of itemized charges and a trial. He wasn't allowed to face his accusers. Some guy did their dirty work for them. They stayed behind the scenes and had some guy contact Mr. Tchividjian and tell him he was to be gone by this Thursday. That was it.

If Gospel Coalition's product is doctrine, why miss an opportunity to expose error? Isn't that the reason they purged Tully—that he is preaching and teaching false doctrine? Surely they're not purging him because of his sartorial ambitions, right?

There's no major ethical lapse or financial scandal, right? So what are all Gospel Coalition's customers to think when they yank their trademark from a franchisee without any explanation? Did someone get food poisoning? Did the local board of health pull the plug on Mr. Tchividjian's credentials? Did they find that Mr. Tchividjian is a Mormon in Reformed PCA drag?

Cliques work this way, don't they? Watch the group out on the playground and, suddenly, one kid is spun out of the circle and left standing all alone. "Unclean!"

Now to be clear, I'm pleased Gospel Coalition removed Pastor Tchividjian from their number. He is the quintessential cheap grace man who has perfect pitch when it comes to the sort of false doctrine that compunctionless hipsters want on their earbuds. But if the women and men of Gospel Coalition want to be helpful, why not expose the heresy publicly? Why not make use of this moment to have a trial with ordained church officers bringing charges?

Of course, I'm sure Mr. Tchividjian's complaint that they didn't give him any reasons for pulling the trademark will shame them into saying something publicly, but it's too little, too late, and rude to boot. Honor the man by opposing him to his face in front of all their customers—that's the manly and Biblical thing to do.

Second, reading the (mostly sycophantic) comments, I happened across one man who described the profound influence Mr. Tchividjian's cheap grace had on him this way:

Hi Tullian, I interviewed you on the RefoemedCast podcast about your book Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything about two years ago, and it has impacted me ever since. So much so, that more recently, apart from your influence, I became Confessionally Lutheran.

As I've been saying, today's Lutheranism is a good home for those who don't want the Law for their flesh. We can commend the honesty of this man. May his tribe increase (the honesty, not the Lutheran conversion).

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

That Lutheran comment jumped out at me, as well. Could someone explain why Tullian doesn't just formally convert to Lutheranism? Much better fit for him. And most of his followers are there.

I believe we have finally witnessed what the finished work of Christ has graciously produced in the life of Tullian Tchividjian.

I would guess, and it is a guess, that Tchividjian is more Zwinglian than Calvinist on things like ecclesiology or the sacraments. That wouldn't make him a very good fit for any Lutheran worth associating with (meaning it might not be a problem for the ELCA).

By the way, this warning from Martin Luther is perfectly suited to exposing Pastor Tchividjian's error. His error is very old and leaves his flock devoured by the Wolf. Those who sit under a Protestant pastoral ministry of cheap grace end up, according to Luther, in a state that is worse than Roman Catholicism ("all the errors hitherto prevailing").

In regard to doctrine we observe especially this defect that, while some preach about the faith by which we are to be justified, it is still not clearly enough explained how one shall attain to this faith, and almost all omit one aspect of the Christian faith without which no one can understand what faith is or means. For Christ says in the last chapter of Luke [24:47] that we are to preach in his name repentance and forgiveness of sins.

Many now talk only about the forgiveness of sins and say little or nothing about repentance. There neither is forgiveness of sins without repentance nor can forgiveness of sins be understood without repentance. It follows that if we preach the forgiveness of sins without repentance that the people imagine that they have already obtained the forgiveness of sins, becoming thereby secure and without compunction of conscience. This would be a greater error and sin than all the errors hitherto prevailing. Surely we need to be concerned lest, as Christ says in Matt. 12 [:45] the last state becomes worse than the first.

Therefore we have instructed and admonished pastors that it is their duty to preach the whole gospel and not one portion without the other. For God says in Deut. 4 [:2]: "You shall not add to the word. . . nor take from it." There are preachers who now attack the pope because of what he has added to the Scriptures, which unfortunately is all too true. But when these do not preach repentance, they tear out a great part of Scripture. They have very little good to say about the eating of meat and the like, though they should not keep silent when they have an opportunity to defend Christian liberty against tyranny. What else is this than what Christ says in Matt. 23 [:24]: "Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel?"

So we have admonished them to exhort the people diligently and frequently to repent and grieve over their sins and to fear the judgment of God. Nor are they to neglect the greatest and most important element of repentance, for both John and Christ condemned the Pharisees more severely for their hypocritical holiness than for ordinary sins. The preachers are to condemn the gross sins of the common man, but more rigorously demand repentance where there is false holiness.

...The preachers are to proclaim and explain the Ten Commandments often and earnestly, yet not only the commandments but also how God will punish those who do not keep them and how he often has inflicted temporal punishment. For such examples are written in order to forewarn people, for instance, how the angels spoke to Abraham in Gen. 19 [:12f.], and told how God would punish Sodom and destroy it with the fire of hell. For they knew that he would tell it to his descendants so that they would learn to fear God.

So too they are to point out and condemn various specific vices as adultery, drunkenness, envy, and hate, and how God has punished these, indicating that without doubt after this life he will punish still more severely if there is not improvement here.

The people are thus to be urged and exhorted to fear God, to repent and show contrition, lest their ease and life of false security be punished. Therefore Paul says In Rom. 3 [:20]: "Through the law comes (only) knowledge of sin." True repentance is nothing but an acknowledgment of sin.

Then it is important that faith be preached. Whoever experiences grief and contrition over his sins should believe that his sins are forgiven, not on account of his merits, but on account of Christ.

When the contrite and fearful conscience experiences peace, comfort, and joy on hearing that his sins are forgiven because of Christ, then faith Is present—the faith that makes him righteous before God. We are to teach the people diligently that this faith cannot exist without earnest and true contrition and fear of God, as it is written in Psalm 110 [Ps. 111:10] and Prov. 1 [:7], "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." And Isaiah says in the last chapter: "On whom does God look except on the trembling and contrite heart?"11

This shall be proclaimed repeatedly, so that the people do not entertain false notions and think they have faith when they are far from having it. It shall be made clear that only if they have faith can they truly repent and grieve over their sins. Without repentance theirs is an imagined faith. True faith brings comfort and joy in God, and we do not feel such comfort and joy where there is no repentance or fearfulness, as Christ says in Matt. 11 [:5]: "The poor have good news preached to them."

These two are the first elements of Christian life: repentance or contrition and grief, and faith through which we receive the forgiveness of sins and are righteous before God. Both should grow and increase in us. The third element of Christian life is the doing of good works: to be chaste, to love and help the neighbor, to refrain from lying, from deceit, from stealing, from murder, from vengefulness, and avenging oneself, etc.

Therefore again and again the Ten Commandments are to be assiduously taught, for all good works are therein comprehended.

They are called good works not only because they are done for the welfare of our neighbors, but because God has commanded them, and so they also are well pleasing to God. God has no delight in those who do not obey the commandments, as is stated in Mic. 6 [:8]: "O man, I will show you what is good and what God requires of you, namely, to do justice. Yea, do justice, delight to do good to your neighbor, and walk humbly before God."

...Now we have already shown that it is necessary to preach penance, and to punish fearless behavior which is now in the world and has its origin, at least in part, in a wrong understanding of the Faith. For many who hear that they should believe, so that all their sins will be forgiven, fashion their own faith and think they are pure. Thus they become secure and arrogant. Such carnal security is worse than all the errors hitherto prevailing. Therefore in preaching the gospel it is necessary in every way to instruct the people where faith may be found and how one attains it. For true faith cannot exist where there is not true contrition and true fear and terror before God.

This is most important in teaching the people. For where there is not contrition and sorrow for sin, there also is no true faith. Thus we read in Ps. 147 1.111. "The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love." God himself also says in Ezek. 3 [ 18] that if the preacher does not condemn the error and sin of those whom he teaches, God will lay the loss of their souls to his account. Such a verdict God pronounced upon that kind of preacher who comforts the people and says much about faith and the forgiveness of sins but nothing about penitence or the fear and judgment of God. Jeremiah, too, condemns such preachers in the seventh chapter [Jer. 6.14]: one should not believe those who cry, "Peace, Peace," when God is angry and there is no peace.

We need to fear that God will severely punish these preachers and pupils because of such security. For that is the sin which is decried in Jer. 6 [.15], "They did not know how to blush." And St. Paul in Eph. 5 [ .5], condemning those who live securely in their perverse ways without sting of conscience, says, "Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them."

-Luther's Works; Volume 40; Church and Ministry II; Edited by Conrad Bergendoff; Muhlenberg Press; Philadelphia; 1958; "Instructions for the Visitors of Parish Pastors"; pp. 274 ff.

Wow. And how ironic coming from Martin Luther. Thanks for your blog, Pastor Bayly. I'm a PCA guy down in Atlanta area. Thankful to sit under a pastor every Sunday who faithfully expounds the whole counsel of God.

Hoping I've understood the issue ... If we were in a Christian environment which had seen the application of the 'third use' of the Law pushed well into diminishing returns - and here I'm thinking of Bill Gothard - then I could understand the appeal of Tully's approach to things.

But this situation, one of people trying and failing to live under 'every jot and tittle of the Law', is not the situation that we face. How much of the Old Covenant Law applies under the New Covenant is a good question, and good to talk through, but instead what we see is a lot of antinomianism, which of course Tully's preaching makes worse.

Because TGC is silent, we're left trying to connect the dots on why Tullian was unceremoniously removed. It may have something to do with the fact he publicly criticized TGC and C.J. Mahaney.

If that is why Tullian was removed, he should have written a far different post. Additionally, if this is the case, TGC is no purer having purged Tullian from its ranks; which may explain their silence.

Craig,

After reading the link you provided, the circumstances appear to support your speculation that Tchividjian's public criticism of TGC and Mahaney is the immediate provocation for Tchividjian being hustled out of TGC's premises. Doctrinal differences between Tchividjian and other TGC folk may, of course, also be at work (Tchividjian acknowledges this in the link you provided).

I agree that the silence of TGC raises just as much (maybe more?) mystery as Tchividjian's sudden ouster itself.

Brothers,

Although the public criticism of CJ and Sovereign Grace exacerbated the tension, it seems clear Pastor Tchividjian's bad doctrine was the main issue. But again, the thing to focus on here is the refusal of Reformed big boys to fight manfully, which is to say faithfully. Pastor Tchividjian is one of their own—he's a member of the PCA—so if they believe he's in error, they should say so publicly, with specifications.

The Apostle Paul rebuked the Apostle Peter publicly.

Love,

This looks much more like TGC gave Tully the shove because he (correctly?) challenged them on the pig's ear they have made of the situation w/CJ Mahaney. But it *suits* the TGC to make it look like it was about doctrine - because if they came out and said that they were brassed off at Tully breaking ranks, they would come out looking like they were trying to cover something up. But it suits Tully as well to cast it as 'doctrinal' because it allows him to make a contrast between his approach to things and the more 'legalistic' TGC.

My dumb question for tonight: if doctrine were the root issue, why has it taken the TGC so long to act? I agree that no-one is playing this straight, but even so!

According to a comment (#29) by TGC blogger Kevin DeYoung on his blog post for today http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/05/21/the-grace-th...

"...
Joey, Tullian has never been on the Gospel Coalition council. He has been a blogger on the TGC site for several years. He was asked to move to a different site because of theological differences. There was never any mention or any discussion about the civil suit against SGM. The matter never came up and had no bearing on this decision.

...."

When you state that no explanation was given for Tullian's removal from the Gospel Coalition blog, surely you are not unaware of the fairly raging debate regarding his teaching of sanctification. Regardless of what you think of the official explanation on the TGC website, which I am sure was made in the interest of graciousness, it would be more fair of you at least to link to the very clear material regarding the theological issues. Here are some links for any who aren't already in the loop. Hope you are well.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/05/13/what-we-all-...
http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/05/lawgospel-off-the-rails.php
http://www.reformation21.org/articles/my-offer-to-publicly-debate.php
http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/05/a-few-practical-questions.php

To Ross:

I understand why you might think this, given Janet Mefferd's show today. But it is totally untrue. That was an unconscionable insinuation on her part. While Tullian did not openly agree with her theory, I am astonished that he allowed it to be advanced by her without a clear denial on his part. Perhaps he didn't know exactly what to say -- radio interviews can be that way. As Ben Peays points out in the comments to the TGC post, Tullian acknowledges that the SGM issue had absolutely no role in the decision to remove his content from the TGC blog. The issue was purely theological. Why only now? Because the TGC council meeting was last week.

Dear Rick,

When Tully reports he wasn't contacted personally by those behind the scenes pulling the plug on him, I have no reason to doubt his truthfulness. 

The churchman speaks to a man one-on-one, then he takes someone else with him, then he and the other man he took with him tell it to the church. This Biblical process involves specifications and the man being accused has the opportunity to face his accusers, face to face.

I've sat in many of those council meetings and they're the very opposite of the openness and accountability to church members and officers that Acts 15 presents.  You and Tully and Tim are all PCA, so have at it. The courts are open.

I could go on, but I'm certain you understand my point.

Trust all is well with you.

Love, 

Tim,

I do get your point. I am merely making the point that the theological issues here are not at all unknown, and that I wish those who are aware of these issues would point them out when people ask why this action could possibly have happened. I do not know what was said directly to Tullian. (I was providentially hindered from attending the TGC Council meeting last week, so wasn't directly involved, although I do know it was over the sanctification issue.) Those of us who have been debating this issue, and that certainly includes Tullian, are very much in the know. I just want others who wonder what is going on to be informed about the very evident context. I hope the links I have provided will help such people. Blessings in Christ.

>>the theological issues here are not at all unknown, and that I wish those who are aware of these issues would point them out when people ask why this action could possibly have happened.

Good point, dear brother. I'm sorry I did not make this clear and encourage our readers to familiarize themselves with these helpful critiques of Tully's scandalous pandering.

Love,

Thanks.

The post has it pegged: What's wrong isn't saying somebody can't post on a blog any more, but expelling him abruptly and silently. It's rude to him and contemptuous of the readers. It misses a golden opportunity to instruct him and the readers--- words accompanied by action always get people to pay more attention. And it has a cowardly, passive-aggressive feel to it. I find it especially creepy that suddenly all his old posts are removed, a Stalinesque touch. Rick Phillips's links in the comments here are helpful, but otherwise how are readers supposed to know what it is that Pastor T. posted on TGC that is wrong? Also, if the posts were so bad, don't the TGC people owe their readers an apology for allowing such bad things to be posted for so long?

The manly thing to have done would have been for one of the TGC leaders to phone Mr. T. up and tell him to stay away from topics they think he's wrong on, or he'd be blocked from future blogging even before the mutually agreed upon time later in 2014. Then, if he didn't obey, they should have explained the situation to the readers, and given him a chance to present his side too, with them having the last word (it's their blog, after all).

It looks like another example of the trouble a lot of Christians have in acknowledging disagreement with other Christians. They value niceness so much that rather than openly say somebody is wrong, they prefer to expel him and pretend he never existed.

Thus we get "We want to give readers help in understanding some of the changes that have gone on at The Gospel Coalition of late. One minister, Tullian Tchividjian, was asked to move his blog off our website." It sounds like an explanation for why a type font is being changed. And note the switch from "We want to give readers help..." to "One minister was asked to move his blog...". Why pussy foot around? It should have been: "We asked Pastor Tchividjian to move his blog..." They then could have explained how they did this "for greater unity", though I'd prefer if they did it "to avoid bad doctrine", since it obviously reduces unity.

Part of the problem here is spectacularly bad timing.

TGC changed servers and unveiled a new site design over the weekend.

I completely agree that the doctrinal errors should have been dealt with directly and head on. And publicly.

But Tchividjian is also at fault in the way he has used this for his own purposes. I listened to Mefferd's show yesterday and thought he sounded remarkably self serving. And Mefferd? Well, Imdint think her new friends among the watchbloggers are the best influence she could have picked.

Tullian has been very transparent for YEARS about his errors. At least one council member of TGC has blurbed a book or two of his (Kevin DeYoung, Bryan Chappell, Ray Ortlund, and former member Josh Harris...for example) and a TGC editor has positively blurbed, via TGC, at least one book that revels in Tullian's errors. 

At the risk of being ungracious, let me say that "bad timing" often makes for the "best timing". It lends itself to plausible deniability, and when shrouded in silence (for the most part) adds for deflection. New servers and new site makeover coupled with public scrutiny over their pariah's errors...the timing couldn't have been better. Having new everything means shedding of baggage is not only easier - it's expected. No need for comment, really. Touchdown!

Anyone who has been in a corporate atmosphere understands what it means when something becomes actionably opportune. There are times a man is a pariah, of sorts, but you can't deal with him on the grounds you'd really like to...you have to wait for the right moment as that provides a clean break. The issues for the actionably opportune moment are real - but if someone were not a pariah, they would not be unceremoniously given the boot. So TGC can honestly say they discussed Tullian's errors and based his dismissal on those errors.

It serves TGC's and Tullian's interests for their audiences to perceive this as being driven purely by doctrinal disagreement. So I stand by my initial comment - TGC is no purer for having dismissed Tully. The sickening thing is, if Tullian's dismissal was based merely on an actionably opportune moment, both TGC's dismissal and Tully's response are motivated by self-promotion/preservation. The former franchisee is now seeking to fully establish his competing brand.

Thanks for the Luther quote! Very helpful and clarifying.

>>The former franchisee is now seeking to fully establish his competing brand.

Precisely. He's flying solo, now, up in the stratosphere with John Piper, Tim Keller, John MacArthur, and Rob Bell.

It could have been avoided. It should have been avoided. And if the PCA will discipline him, it still may be avoided.

Love,

"And if the PCA will discipline him, it still may be avoided".

I suspect the chances of that happening are not that high. Or would Tully leave before things got to that stage?

"He's flying solo, now," Pastor Bayly comments above. That's right. And it's a dangerous way to fly for someone who's not very good at flying. The idea of presbyterian church government is that pastors should be accountable to people outside their churches for their own souls, not just for their church's health. It's a great idea for pastors to meet with the same group of other pastors every so often. Ideally, a lot of good advice and rebuke should happen in the hallways between official business. Presbyteries often don't work that way, I gather, in reality. But being part of a group blog could be like a presbytery too. And even without formal disciplinary processes, the informal procedures should work much the same way. That would head off a lot of sin and error before it ever reached the formal church discipline stage.

Against my better judgment I took about 20 minutes out of my day to listen to one of the radio shows (Rosebrough) that interviewed Tully. I don't think Tully gets it. He's not hearing what his critics are saying. He's arguing against a position that none of the guys (DeYoung, Phillips, etc.) hold to. So I agree with Eric R. Tully's flying solo, and that's not good for him or his followers.

Rick Phillips,
I followed the link left by Bev C and I noticed all the Tully defenders pointing out his righteous indignation against Mahaney as a reason for his leaving and their respect for his stand; however, there was one particular commentator who made note that Tully never commented on the Mahaney issue until after his blog was removed from TGC. This is very interesting for two reasons. One is that why did he wait until then to express his serious objections to something that became apparent around a year ago? Two, why did Tully not have the same integrity and righteous indignation toward the Knox Seminary/Corral Ridge fiasco that you, R.C., Fowler White and others were involved in. It's hard not to think that his silence in the face of serious ethical lapses and doctrinal issues by the Knox-Takeover Team would have seriously hindered his new calling. It is so often very hard to find a white hat in church issues. Can you comment?

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