"This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people." CS Lewis link
In 2010, I wrote a post about Tullian Tchividjian. During this time, we were in the process of moving our blog to GoDaddy. This post was left out of our updated blog along with another post mentioning a book I loved called Broken Angel. I mentioned the book in this post in 2009 when I discussed Calvin. I highly recommend this Christian fantasy which takes place in a section of the US which is ruled by Christian legalists.
There may have been others that have gone missing but I hope not. Thankfully, I put this entire post into a Word Document and saved it. I have decided to repeat it here since it seems to gives some insight into Tullian's willingness to not tell the truth even when it was totally unnecessary to lie. The crowd would have liked him anyway. See if you get what I am saying. It was fascinating to read this many years later.
Please keep in mind that TT changed in the ensuing yearsl We wrote what we knew at that time in 2010.
(Some of the old links may no longer work. Also, the pagination on all old posts is a little screwy due to the switch and we don't have time to make them look nice.)
Several weeks ago, some new friends at a new church invited us to attend a fundraising banquet for a well-respected pregnancy support center. When we received our tickets we asked who the speaker would be. Much to our surprise, the featured speaker was William Graham Tertullian Tchividjian. TWW did a series on Tullian Tchvidjian (henceforth to be called TT) and the terrible turmoil that ensued after he assumed the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after the death of its well-known pastor D. James Kennedy.
The short story is that he caused so much turmoil that many of the leaders and deacons along with Kennedy’s daughter left the church and started a new church in October of 2009.
We sat with our friends along with others and explained that TT is part of the Calvinista (hyper Calvinist movement) and is good friends with Josh Harris and John Piper. He is also a part of the Gospel Coalition. I also told our friends that the “big “ trend in this crowd is to quote the Puritans and that TWW intended to do our own version of Puritan history next week.
JD Greear, a friend of TT, gave the invocation. The master of ceremonies read from a biography that TT had written for, of all things, the Gospel Coalition before introducing him. He explained that his name William Graham was after his granddaddy, Billy Graham, and Tullian was after the early church father and defender of the Gospel, Tertullian. TT came to the podium.
He prayed for God’s sovereign, outrageous, stunning grace. I wondered if that was a shout out to his buddies over at Sovereign Grace Ministries. TT was a well-dressed, deeply tanned man with a pleasant speaking voice and features that might remind one of his famous grandfather. He utilized similar hand movements as well.
Frankly, it all went south from this point. It is important for the reader to understand that this pregnancy support center has peacefully existed in one of the most liberal towns in North Carolina for over two decades. They eschew political involvement and protests, preferring instead to quietly serve, in a noncoercive way, women with crisis pregnancies. They gently and clearly model the love of Jesus Christ in this fine work and saved the lives of many children.
TT told the audience that he receives so many invitations to speak each year and can’t accept all of them. (Yep, we got it, TT is very popular). In fact, he said, he had to cancel a couple of engagement in the fall due to responsibilities at his church. (I tried to keep a straight face-about 400 people, including most of the elders and Kennedy’s daughter walked out of his church and started a new church in early October-see our posts this weekend).
The next statements are germane to the title of this post. He told us that he normally modifies existing sermons and talks to give his speeches to outside groups. However, he said he could not do that for this group. He claimed to have a deep affinity for this organization. He claimed that he felt led to do something unique and special for this particular talk and that he put this before the Lord in much prayer. He claimed the Lord answered his prayer and that he found something unique to share with us.
The title of his talk was Anger. He discussed how Christians are perceived as angry with issues such as abortion and that, as Christians, we should be angry only with God’s righteous anger. But, our anger should be tempered with grief. He utilized Mark 3:1-5 along with Ephesians 4:26-27. Believe me, this is relevant. He discussed that God centered anger occurs when God’s ways are maligned and God is dishonored. Self-centered anger is when we have been maligned and we have been dishonored. He then made a statement quite familiar to those involved with CJ Mahaney. “When you are as bad as I am, this is hard.” (Another candidate for the worst sinner in the world contest-step aside Mahaney-this guy’s got Billy Graham on his side)!
Then he spoke of a conference a few years ago in which he was a speaker and was sitting with John Piper and some other speakers on the platform and there were 5,000 people in the room (Yep, we know you are an important and in demand guy and you are on the same level as Piper).
He said there was a pastor who was the editor of a well-known magazine known for its sometimes sarcastic look at cultural and political issues. Apparently, TT said, this man was being sarcastic and John Piper grabbed the microphone and said to this man something along the lines of, “I read your magazine cover to cover but I want to know, where are your tears?” According to the TT, the room silenced at this supposedly deserved rebuke from the great John Piper. Apparently, Piper doesn’t buy Matthew 18 in real life either.
To make matters worse, TT then says, “ I won’t tell you the pastors name. You wouldn’t know him anyway.” I guess the 5,000 attendees were the only ones with the good enough sense to “know” such a man. TWW has an idea of when and what that conference was and will find out the name of said magazine and pastor that only the “elite” Calvinistas would know. When we find out, we will inform our readers. Any readers with ideas, please feel free to comment. Any person that ticks off Piper and makes him go “non Matthew 18 postal ” might be worth getting to know.
In keeping with the current rage of Puritan quoting, TT repeated a Puritan quote that he keeps in his office. “Be soonest angry with thyself.”(Yep, we know you are up on the coolest trends like quoting Puritans). He went on and on in this vein for quite awhile. I felt distinctly uncomfortable but I wasn’t sure why.
He then told us that he has a teenage daughter who is a legitimate model in magazines. He said he received a text from his wife two hours prior to the fundraiser that said daughter had shaved off her eyebrows, arm hair and leg hair. He somehow tied this in with the thought that we should see past the external and see the internal. Huh? Modeling focuses on the external so why is his daughter doing it? And, shaving off ones eyebrows is definitely making a statement and my guess is that his daughters “internal” needs some help. (Although I did read a news story that at a fashion show in Milan, recently, a couple of models were “browless” raising the eyebrows of those who still had the good sense to have some)!
Finally, he mentioned that he was told that when David Jeremiah came to speak to this particular group a few years back that there were around 1100 in the audience. He then laughingly said that there were only 500 who came to hear him so that he hoped we would try to give more money so Jeremiah wouldn’t outdo him. Normally, I would find this sort of comment amusing. But, somehow, it hit just a bit off. He ended with a prayer and someone started singing immediately so there was no time for applause.
My husband grabbed my arm and said, “let’s leave.” He told me he found TT arrogant and that his speech was canned and inappropriate for the kindly folk in this audience. I said that TT said that the speech was unique and special for this group. Hubby disagreed and told me to search his sermons. I just thought he was in a bad mood. But, I had to agree that that I found TT just another same old, same old Calvinista.
This morning I called Deb, my counterpart on TWW, and told her what my husband had said. She asked me to read her my notes while she started to Google. I heard her start to laugh. She asked me again about the Bible verses, the Piper incident, and what he said about how God views anger.
Well, lo and behold, on TT’s blog dated November 18, 2009, he has an entry entitled, God Centered Anger. He is quoting from his book, Unfashionable, which was published in April 4, 2009. Here is a link to that blog entry.http://www.crpc.org/blog/?p=754 (This site is no longer functioning.)
“In my book Unfashionable I have a chapter on the need for the church to exhibit more anger. Of course, the anger I describe is not self-centered anger, but God-centered anger. God-centered anger is when you get angry because God has been dishonored and his ways have been maligned. Self-centered anger is when you’re angry because you have been dishonored or your ways have been maligned. In my book I highlight Mark 3:1-5, which provides us with a memorable example of God-centered anger.”
If you will read the entire blog entry and go to the book, you will find that this chapter and blog is almost, word for word, identical to the special and unique speech that he claimed that God had give him for this special pregnancy support fundraiser!!
Here is the problem. TT caused a whole mess of problems at Coral Ridge. It is incumbent on him to maintain a high degree of integrity to show his maturity in this mess. There was absolutely no need for him to lie about the source of his talk. He could have simply said that it came from his book and that he felt it applied to this situation. No one would have blinked.
Recently, John Edwards (now known in North Carolina as Scumdog Millionaire) was caught by reporters at a hotel visiting his paramour. When asked if he was with his honey, he lied. Now, lying is wrong but we all understand why he lied. Our question is this. If TT had to lie when there was no pressure or expectation, what will he do when his back is against the wall? And how does this reflect on his handling of the mess in his church?
Finally, in April of this year, there is a conference in Durham with an organization called Advance the Gospel in conjunction with Acts 29 and TT is a featured speaker. We would seriously question the wisdom of including TT as a main speaker. He has a church in turmoil and he lied at a conference. In our opinion, he needs to spend a whole lot more time reading the Gospel and less time enjoying the limelight. And as for John Piper, we say this in a very serious vein. We grieve to see this sort of thing happening in our midst. Perhaps he would do us a favor and teach TT a bit about honesty and kindness. And he don’t need to do it in front of 5000 people.
My husband said to me, “TT is no Tertullian, no Billy Graham and no D. James Kennedy.” Perhaps he’s right. Tullian needs to be is Tullian. He seems to be trying to be something or someone else. Why?