“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content." -CS Lewis, Prince Caspian link
This quote by CS Lewis is important to those of us who believe in grace; not the doctrines of grace, mind you, but grace.
“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content." -CS Lewis Prince Caspian link
I am a big believer in grace. Each week, my church does a corporate confession of sins. Then, the pastor reminds us that ALL of our sins, known and unknown, have been forgiven. One of my friends put it this way. "I always feel such a lightness when I hear that."
Yes, grace is immense, wide and and all encompassing. It is always offered by a gracious God. At the same time, there should come a concomitant understanding of the depth of our sin and failure. Something that reaches deep into our spirit. I am not one to sit and contemplate Christ perpetually stuck on the Cross like those who have been hurt at the hands of SGM theology. I ponder, always, Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended and coming again. All four are necessary in order to understand our Lord and His relationship to us.
For me, this awareness is exhibited by a difficult mix of emotions which include the realization of my sin in the pit in my stomach along with a need to repent and the immediate joy as I recognized I am forgiven. Lewis' quote hits this dichotomy dead on. The head raised in triumph while the shoulder is bowed in humility.
This is what I believe that Tullian Tchividjian has missed in his exposition of grace. He sure gets the erect head, confident and joyful, on top of the world because he claims his forgiveness. This observer believes he appears to miss the bowed shoulders that recognize shame and the need for repentance.
How might those bowed shoulders look?
- He would have waited longer to remarry and instead have sought long term counseling to deal with his serial relationships.
- He would not return to teaching in the pulpit and instead have taken a humble job, working with others who do not have famous grandfathers to glom off.
- He would have spent time serving the poor in homeless shelters.
- He would have read the books of others who have failed and repented instead of immediately going into celebrity mode.
- He would have learned what Jesus meant when He said He was the Truth.
- He would have never, ever used anyone, man or woman.
- He would have lived near his family in Florida and make up for all the time he was distracted with the other women.
- He would have apologized for allegedly getting others to insult those who called him out on his obvious train wreck of a life as well as have apologized to those he allegedly called *b%$*@.* And Boz??? Really?? he is a good man.
- He would have turned the other cheek and spent a few years making it up to his family and his former churches.
- He would have apologized to the other families whose lives were ruined by his affairs.
- He would have apologized to his extended family, the women who he pursued, those he insulted, and others who he manipulated and used.
Instead all I see are pictures of him trying trying to look like a hipster but failing because he is in his mid 40s with over-bleached teeth, spiked hair, a fake tan, ripped skinny jeans, and a new Texas chick of a wife who is doing everything to pretend that she, too, is young and that that this is all OK because she got the man. Good night! Where are the bowed shoulders? Where is the shame? How could they post these pictures? I would have been so embarrassed if I had acted like this!
I want to thank Nate Sparks and content editor Lauren Larkin for first posting the following thoughtful story by *Lisa* who bravely tells us how she was allegedly groomed by Tullian. Just for the record, I believe that Nate, Lauren and Lisa are telling the truth.
For more information on the time line of Tullian's extracurriculur activities, please refer to this post Tullian Tchividjian – Partial Timeline of Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse and Spiritual Abuse by Julie Anne Smith and Brad Sargent
**Content Editor: Lauren R.E. Larkin**
In my last post, I critically analyzed the recent public statements by Tullian Tchividjian. I also noted the ways in which Tchividjian uses abusive speech patterns to silence the voices of his critics and subtly shift the narrative, depicting himself as the “good guy” being unjustly victimized. I then dissected all the reasons these claims are utterly false, and why they are indicative of the fact that his is a serial pastoral predator.
I also outlined the depth of Tullian’s lies in a post I penned in March, 2016. In this post I dissected several public statements Tullian had made at the time, and placed them side by side with well-known public accounts of his dishonest, deceitful, and abusive actions.
Today, I want to take a moment to consider some specific statements Tullian has made in light of new information and accusations that have been made known to me.
Before I begin, I want to highlight a disturbing reality. Even after everything Tullian Tchividjian has done, after all the lies he has told, after the people he has destroyed and betrayed, he continues to have a platform.
This is because Tullian Tchividjian has preyed upon the brokenness and discontent within Evangelical Christianity to garner a place of privilege and influence for himself. Even as I read his interview with Religious News Services, I was struck by the ways in which he intentionally worked on the guilt and shame of his audience, pointing out specks in hopes of distracting from his own plank.
And what is most disturbing is that the Evangelical church is so deeply entrenched in patriarchal systems that these lies actually work. This is because, Tullian Tchividjian is a product of Evangelical patriarchy.
The grandson of prominent evangelical evangelist Billy Graham, he made a name for himself as a blogger and an author with The Gospel Coalition, perhaps the biggest and most influential purveyor of Evangelical patriarchy in the world. Even after leaving TGC in 2014, he remained an influential pastor in the PCA, the evangelical wing of the Presbyterian Church which currently opposes women’s ordination.
Evangelicalism has become an industrial complex, fueled on the broken bodies and wounded spirits of abuse victims, driven entirely by their abusers. This complex has time and again produced abusive pastors. Men like CJ Mahaney, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Darin Patrick, RC Sproul, Jr., and Doug Wilson have come to exercise considerable influence precisely because Evangelicalism holds its pastors above reproach, because it is predicated on a system of sin-leveling designed to make the persons in the pews entirely to guilt ridden to ever ask questions.
It is for this reason that, on October 31, 2016, barely a month after Tullian delivered his interview to RNS, after he claimed he had no specific or formal plans to return to the public stage, and after he insisted that he still has a calling to teach the Gospel, Tullian Tchividjian preached a message at Spring Hills Community Church in Santa Rosa, California – a church whose doctrinal statement is straight out of the Evangelical playbook.
In the end, Evangelicalism created Tullian Tchividjian, empowered him to be a serial predator, then groomed his victims to accept his manipulations.
Some Hypocritical Words
On November 11, 2016, Tullian tweeted the following:
On November 12, he tweeted this:
As I read these tweets, I was struck by a disgusting irony. As the following narrative will shows, when Tullian Tchividjian came in contact with a person who was broken and hurting, he manipulated, used, and spiritually and emotionally abused her.
Further, despite the fact that Tullian claims we should not hide the darkest parts of our stories, there is quite a bit of his “darkness” he has worked diligently to keep from the public eye.
I would like to introduce my readers to Lisa.
A Brief Disclaimer
Because of the nature of the narrative below, the woman in question has chosen to remain anonymous. I respect that decision, and her decision not to use her real name has absolutely no bearing on her credibility. Her story has been careful vetted through multiple sources, and it is my position that she ought to be believed and afforded to care deserved by every victim of abuse. Further, through talking both to “Lisa” and to other sources, I have every reason to believe that her experience is indicative of a larger trend of predatory behavior practiced by Tullian Tchividjian.
For this reason, any derogatory or negative comments will be deleted. If a reader wishes to express concern or contend the details of this post, they are advised to email me at the address provided on my “About” page.
At the time when Lisa first came into contact with Tullian Tchividjian, she was in the midst of a great deal of personal turmoil. She had grown up deep within the heart of fundamentalism. For many years she attended a church that adhered to the teachings of a well-known celebrity pastor. Over time, she realized that the rules and regulations imposed upon her by the pastors and leaders of her church left her feeling unloved, unvalued, and disenfranchised by the church and its leaders. She had become acutely aware that the system of belief in which she was raised was, on all counts, tantamount to spiritual abuse.
As a result, she was desperately searching for a more genuine and authentic expression of the Christian faith that was not built on the “holier than thou” legalist power politics of her fundamentalist upbringing. This desire was further complicated by the fact that, having since moved into the realm of conservative evangelicalism, she was also recently removed from a situation in which a friend, who was also a pastor, had abused her emotionally and spiritually. He used his position of trust and privilege to coerce her into emotional vulnerability, with the clear and aggressive intent of manipulating her into pastoral sexual abuse.
While his intent was never realized, nevertheless her marriage was in shambles. She was desperately trying to re-earn her husband’s trust and repair the damage done by this pastor’s manipulations.
This backdrop set the stage for Tullian Tchividjian to groom her for further abuse.
Lisa was first contacted by Tchividjian in the late Spring of 2015, during the time shortly after he was officially fired from his position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. At this time, he had been advancing his false narrative that his wife had betrayed him, and that his own affair had subsequently occurred out of the vulnerability of grief and confusion. And, like so many people, Lisa believed this narrative whole-heartedly.
She had been a fan of Tchividjian’s message for a while, and had found his message of grace in the midst of profound brokenness to speak so deeply into her own life. Tchividjian was known for encouraging his audience to be honest with themselves and about their own brokenness, and to recognize that God loved them not for some perfection they had achieved or had to achieve, but because that is who God is: God loves the unlovely. This message gave Lisa a source of hope in the midst of so much pain, confusion, and the overwhelming guilt that the abuse she had suffered was somehow her fault.
Because of this, when she saw the way that Tchividjian’s critics were addressing him on Twitter, she chose to do what she believed to be the right thing: boldly declare her support for Tchividjian in the midst of what she believed to be a “personal tragedy” and thanked him for the profound impact his message had had on her life.
Lisa was amazed when Tullian immediately reached out to her via direct message. He thanked her for her support, and offered to talk to her if she ever needed anything. He gave her his personal cell phone number and told her to call anytime.
While she admits that she felt weird about the speed with which Tchividjian seemed to swoop in, she dismissed her concerns. She and Tchividjian shared mutual friends, and she had even briefly met him once before, at the Liberate 2015 conference after-party just a few months prior. She believed Tullian to be genuine, and provided him her phone number in return.
She was again struck by surprise when he immediately began text messaging her.
One of the things Lisa noticed as her conversations with Tullian began, was that he seemed to have already researched her. He knew who she was through their mutual friends, and had already known that her marriage was struggling. During one of their conversations he even stated, “I already know your story, and now you know mine.”
She was put off by this a bit, and often thought his patterns of communication resembled her previous pastoral abuser. But he had a way of disarming her concerns, and she dismissed it as “hypervigilance.”
When I asked her why this was, she explained that no pastor had ever actually cared about her before. If she was having marital problems, her old pastors would have immediately blamed her and told her to submit more. Her opinion was not valued, and she regularly felt dismissed and disrespected by persons in leadership.
Tullian, however, made her feel understood and heard. Despite her lack of formal training, he wanted to talk theology and encouraged her to explore her beliefs more. Also, she felt a sense of solidarity. Tullian would often talk about how he didn’t know if he would ever reconcile with his wife, he didn’t know if she even still loved him. He spun a narrative of solidarity, using Lisa’s loneliness to make it seem he was just like her – she felt like the two of them were on a level playing field, that they were friends, that he cared about her. Tullian often talked about the importance of being the kind of person someone could run to in failure and at this time, Lisa felt like a complete failure.
Despite noting that he was defrocked, he explicitly offered her personal pastoral care.
He insisted she call him if she needed anything at any time. Tullian often confided in her about how depressed he was feeling and seemed open and honest about his failings and insecurities. He was not perfect, but she believed him to be largely the victim of circumstances beyond his control. This led her to open up about her own past with abusive pastors and religious leaders.
Even in the midst of all of this, there was sometimes an uneasy tension. Sometimes Tullian would text her, and his words seemed like a sexual advance. She would quickly redirect him, relying on skills she had learned within fundamentalism and deflecting with a joke. When Tullian noticed her uneasiness, he would subtly shift his words to convince her she had simply misunderstood what he meant. Also, he would use her past experiences to convince her she was being overly sensitive and misperceiving his intent, convincing her to distrust her own instincts and lower her defenses.
On one occasion, he was a bit bolder. In a text message, he explicitly told her that he had been dreaming about her, and he told her it had been a “good” dream.
As the conversation continued, it became increasingly clear he wanted her to know the dream had been sexual. She tried to deflect by joking “Hope I was just selling you some good drugs” and he replied “Something like that.”
A couple of times, he sent her selfies of himself working out. He regularly commented on her looks.
At one point, he even sent her a link to a clothing line, telling her that she should dress in that brand of clothing because it would look really good on her. He told her that every time he saw that brand, he would think of her.
In spite of all these things, he continued to use the abuses she had suffered to condition her to trust him. He engaged her in theological conversations, which helped her flourish in her faith in a number of ways. Because he listened to her, it made her feel empowered and respected. As such, she routinely dismissed her concerns and allowed him to convince her these were innocent comments.
Tullian often used Lisa to control the narrative of the controversies which swirled around him. When Julie Anne of Spiritual Sounding Board (whom Tullian called “the sheep lady,” a reference to her Twitter handle) began to question Tullian’s account of events and hint that he was a serial pastoral predator, Tullian would convince Lisa to attack her. He would tell her exactly what to say, and insisted that he needed her to defend him because he needed to keep himself above the fray.
He went as far as to get Lisa to target his brother, Boz. He told Lisa that Boz was a liar, that he had no idea what was actually going on it Tullian’s life, and that he was simply carrying out a vendetta against him. He told Lisa to call his brother a “douche” and told her “pray that he dies.” When she refused to do either and took exception to the latter comment, he insisted he was “just joking.”
He also went to great lengths to restrict any interactions Lisa might have with his ex-wife Kim by telling her lies about Kim. He repeatedly told her that Kim was cold, manipulative, and vindictive. He insisted Kim was out to ruin him for telling the truth about her affairs. He even warned Lisa to be careful who she interacted with because Kim had people who spied on him for her.
Tullian did everything in his power to limit the people Lisa spoke with about him; he wanted to ensure that she did not seek out information beyond the narrative he told her. He intentionally convinced her of lies, then risked her public image and relationship by manipulating her into fiercely defending him against persons who were presenting the truth.
Lisa was convinced they were friends. However, Tchividjian’s goal was not to care for her like a friend, but to manipulate her into being a puppet to prop up his own ego.
Tullian was especially interested in talking to Lisa when she was struggling with her relationship with her husband. If he asked her how things were going, and she gave a positive answer about progress in their relationship, he would either cut off the conversation or try to convince her that she was being too optimistic. Once he went so far as to tell her she was deceiving herself about the progress in her marriage, that there is often a calm before a storm, and that her optimism was entirely misplaced.
In contrast, Lisa was expected to be at Tullian’s every emotional beck and call. When he was happy, she was expected to celebrate with him. When he told her he had been depressed or that his feelings were hurt by critique and criticism, she was expected to be there to offer encouragement and prayer.
She also saw how he was using others, both men and women, in this same way. In one conversation, he would seem to be doing well financially, then he would send out a group text—including Lisa—asking people for money. He even once sent out a group text asking people for ideas on how to raise money as he considered relaunching the Liberate conference from his newly acquired position at Willow Creek Church, of the PCA. Participants in the group text offered a myriad of ideas of how Tullian could raise money. One person offered to help him flip-houses to make some cash, and other chimed in that they would help. When Lisa and some others offered to assist, too, with an emphasis on comradery and community, Tullian replied in clear terms: “I’m in it for the money, and the money alone.”
It was after this that Tullian asked Lisa privately to be his official fundraiser for Liberate. He needed 30k to launch the new website and instructed Lisa to “get him 12k by next week”. When Lisa insisted that she didn’t have any idea how to do that, he told her that “6k would work”. When she pushed back again, insisting that she didn’t know anyone with that kind of cashflow he told her to “ask 12 people for $500 each, or rob a bank. I don’t care how you come up with the money, just do it.” Lisa suggested to Tullian that there were a couple of people skilled in building websites that she knew personally who could help him and avoid the upfront cost. He responded with, “we want only the best” and then cut off the conversation.
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.
One is forced to wonder, how does Tullian justify his treatment of Lisa with the words from his tweets above?
This was hardly an isolated incident, Lisa was personally aware of at least 10 other women with whom Tchividjian had a similar dynamic. Like Lisa, several of them were fed lies and disinformation, then manipulated into using Tullian’s carefully crafted words to carry out coordinated attacks against his critics via social media.
The most interesting of these stories occurred in the Summer of 2015. A woman by the name of Stacie 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 Stacie, 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 Stacie. In one text exchange, Stacie 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 Stacie 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 Stacie married in September.
This is especially curious, because Stacie’s relationship with Tullian began in similar fashion to all the other women he targeted. In fact, he and Stacie 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.
Like so many others, Lisa was groomed by her church to ignore the emotional and spiritual abuse of a pastor because of his position of privilege and power. And, as is so often the case, she was left humiliated and devastated, while Tullian began the work of rebuilding his platform. Now, a mere six months later, he is preaching again while she continues to cope with the pains of betrayal which continue to resurface as she sees so many around her embracing his return.
And like so many other celebrity pastors before him, Tullian Tchividjian has time and again revealed himself to be a serial pastoral predator. Despite this, churches, blogs, and Christian news outlets continue to place him on a pedestal, amplifying Tullian’s message to their respective audiences. The white male oligarch is uplifted and praised, even at the expense of his many victims.
This disturbing trend can be seen clearly in his interview with Jonathan Merritt. As he answered Merritt’s questions regarding his many abuses, Tullian Tchividjian portrayed his actions not as the acts of a serial predator, but as “God ruining his plans.” Yet, as I retell Lisa’s story, I struggle to find God in Tullian’s actions.
He attempted to paint these events as ‘trials” he has had to endure, but the reality is they are abuses, manipulations, and injustices that he perpetrated under the guise of “pastoral care.”
Tullian even had the audacity to claim that the true devastation of his sins was the loss of his own platform and privilege.
I know of a few people who would disagree.
 Sources confirm that Lisa was, in fact, at this event. Further, one source noted that Tullian seemed to be watching Lisa all night. At one point, Lisa was dancing with a group of friends and Tullian was sitting nearby. The source described the look on his face as “leering” and said that, knowing what they now know about Tullian’s predatory nature, even thinking about the look he had on his face is “haunting.”
 Speaking with several other sources, I talked to several people who could corroborate this information. One source, even confirmed that they knew of multiple persons – men and women – whom Tullian regularly used to fight battles for him online.
 In speaking with other sources, I have been able to confirm these numbers are most certainly not an exaggeration.