GRACE Issues Statement of the Tullian Tchvidjian Scandal

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity link

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[Updated due to missing section] As many of you may know, Boz Tchividjian, brother of Tullian, is the founder and head of this organization. This statement comes from the Board of Directors.  Please join me in praying for Boz and his family.


Statement from the GRACE Board of Directors

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.

Dear victims – and you are indeed victims. You have suffered and we do not want to add our silence to that suffering. Once again, one of God’s shepherds used his position of authority, his gift of words, his intellect and personality to draw you in when you were vulnerable and in need of care. All power belongs to Christ. Any power we have is derivative and sacred and to be used only for His glory and the good of His people. Anything less is an abuse of that power. You have been victims of the gross misuse of power God intended for your good. We grieve with you. We stand with you in the light. You have with courage exposed the deeds of darkness. Thank you, for we as the Body of Christ need your voices but now that the light shines a failure to respond on our part means we have turned from the light you turned on. We pray for you, knowing full

well that each and every one of you has a hard road ahead as you seek newness of life, healing and a restoring of your souls. We pray that the failure of a shepherd will not lead you to forsake the Good and Great Shepherd who turns tables over and cracks whips when those in His church rob His sheep and distort the truth of who God is. We also pray that God will multiply the fruit of your hard labor to step into light to cause the greater body to examine itself regarding the many silenced victims that live in its midst.

Dear church of Jesus Christ, our God feeds and folds His sheep. He speaks truth and does not deceive. He protects us from wolves both inside and outside the fold. He does so by laying His own down at the gate. We fear that we have often helped wolves deceive others and hide themselves in sheep’s clothing for our own gain and comfort. In doing so we have not loved those who prey on God’s sheep for we have left them in their darkness and bondage. There are many untended, discarded victims in our midst. We are called by God to stand in the light they have brought, tend their wounds, lift the fallen and tenderly carry those who cannot stand. We are nothing like our Lord if we fail to do so. May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.

At a minimum, God’s “refining fire” requires the Christian community to put in place long overdue reforms that will limit the possibility of continuing transgressions against the vulnerable. These reforms include:

1. Seminary education of pastors about maintaining appropriate boundaries. Every seminary must provide education on maintaining appropriate boundaries between a pastor and the children or adults he or she may counsel. This training should include instruction

on understanding the impact of trauma1 and when and how to refer survivors of abuse to professional mental health providers. If a church is hiring or has hired a pastor who has not received this sort of training, it can and should be conducted after the fact.

2.Rigorous screening and selection of pastors or other church leaders who provide counseling. The Centers for Disease Control has promulgated guidelines for screening and selecting those who will supervise, counsel or exercise a leadership role over children. These guidelines include background checks, social media checks, reference checks and formalized interviews about child protection guidelines.2 We believe the CDC guidelines are a solid foundation for churches to use in the screening and selection of pastors.

3. Implement checks and balances to minimize abusive situations. Those who provide pastoral counseling must read and agree to adhere to an appropriate Code of Ethics such as that promulgated by the American Association of Christian Counselors which strictly prohibits sexual contact between pastors and those they are counseling. This includes not only prohibitions on sexual contact but sexual innuendo, sexual “humor,” comments on attractiveness, etc.3 Pastoral counselors must receive oversight from other pastors, elders or others who can hold them accountable to the highest possible standard of ethics. If at all possible, pastoral counseling should be conducted in a church office with windows. 

Clergy and other church leaders should also adhere to appropriate policies pertaining to texting and the use of social media.

4. 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.

a. Reporting abuse to the authorities. It is a crime for any pastor to engage in sexual conduct with a child and, in many states, it is a crime for a pastor to engage in sexual conduct with an adult he or she is providing pastoral care to.5 Every church must have in place a mechanism to ensure that any criminal conduct committed by a pastor or other called worker will be immediately reported to law enforcement and that the church will fully comply with any subsequent investigation.

b. Removing abusive pastors. Although Christ died for all sinners and paid the penalty for all sins, this doesn’t mean a pastor who has violated one or more of his or her parishioners should continue to hold a leadership role in the church. Christ instructed us to be as “wise as serpents” (Mt. 10:16) and common sense compels us to remove abusive leaders so they cannot harm others. These leaders can and should be ministered to6 but this does not mean they should be given a second chance to violate the vulnerable. If Moses was denied entry to the promised land because he struck a rock the wrong way (Nu 20:12), clergy who violate the children or adults entrusted to them should be denied the pulpit.

c. Educating parishioners about what they can expect during pastoral counseling and where to report if they believe a pastor has exceeded his or her appropriate roles. Patients at a hospital have explained to them various procedures and routinely receive a patient’s bill of rights. Similarly, children or adults receiving pastoral counseling should be aware of guidelines for the counseling and what they can do should a pastor or other counselor engage in inappropriate conduct.

d. Supporting survivors of clergy abuse. When a congregation discovers a pastor has abused a child or adult in his or her care, the church has a responsibility to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. This includes assuming the financial cost of medical and mental health expenses or any other reasonable requests made by a victim. If the victim remains in the congregation, the abusive pastor should not be allowed to remain in the same church.

Although we must continue to speak against abuse within the church, speech without action is a hollow reminder the church has done too little for too long to protect the vulnerable. In the midst of this most recent scandal, we pray the church’s future will be better than our past.

GRACE Board of Directors December 7, 2016 


Footnotes

1 See e.g., Vincent J. Felitti & Robert F. Anda, The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare, in RUTH A. LANIUS, ERIC VERMETTEN, AND CLARE PAIN, THE IMPACT OF EARLY LIFE TRAUMA ON HEALTH AND DISEASE: THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2010).
2 . Saul & NC Audage, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse within Youth-Serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (2007).
​3 AACC Code of Ethics, p. 16.Clergy and other church leaders should also adhere to appropriate policies pertaining to texting and the use of social media.
4 As one example of a social media policy pertaining to interactions with youth, see these recommendations from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center: http://www.gundersenhealth.org/app/files/public/2113/NCPTC-Social- Networking-Policy.pdf
5 In Minnesota, for example, it is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for a pastor to have sex with someone he or she is providing “religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort…” MINN. STAT. SECTION 609.344, SUBD. 1(k)(1)(ii).
6 For appropriate guidelines in ministering to sex offenders, see generally, Victor Vieth, Ministering to Sex Offenders: Ten Lessons from Henry Gerecke, 112 WISCONSIN LUTHERAN QUARTERLY 209 (2015).

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Comments

GRACE Issues Statement of the Tullian Tchvidjian Scandal — 87 Comments

  1. Pastoral Responsibility is akin to a Father’s responsibility for his children. It requires the highest level of integrity and agape love for the flock God has given him to shepherd. Nothing less. Narcissistic personalities abound within Christian circles and have ripped so many churches apart. It’s so shameful to have to write up laws to govern ourselves through junk like this. Could all of this be avoided if we stop elevating leaders to celebrity status? We’ve done with Christianity what the world has done with Hollywood!…become a big fan club! “I am of… and I am of…”

  2. @ Cindy Meyers:
    I have a perfect Father. As an adult, I don’t need a mere human one. The problem is adults view pastors as fathers.

    We could spend a lifetime looking for a decent pastor-father. Why not mature, instead, and view the pastor as an equal with a job you help pay him for?

  3. As many of you may know, Boz Tchividjian, brother of Tullian, is the founder and head of this organization.

    I’m not much for Bible zip codes, but is this an example of Matt 10:34-36?

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

  4. Although Christ died for all sinners and paid the penalty for all sins, this doesn’t mean a pastor who has violated one or more of his or her parishioners should continue to hold a leadership role in the church.

    Amen.

  5. Lydia wrote:

    The problem is adults view pastors as fathers.

    I had a pastor who as a 12ish year old told me he knew I thought of him as a father figure. My response was confusion – it really was a weird thing for him to say, right? It’s not like my dad was out of the picture, my parents are still married.

  6. Lea wrote:

    I had a pastor who as a 12ish year old told me he knew I thought of him as a father figure.

    For a minute, I thought you had a 12-year-old pastor. Ironically, that would have been less weird IMHO – I mean, we’re all embarrassed about some of the stuff we did when we were 12.

    Maybe he was 12 from the neck up…

  7. The points in the post are a good start. Since this is a comment section, I feel inclined to suggest two more.

    Dear Church of Jesus Christ: Appendix A – The splintered “local church”

    You all know that there is one Christ, and he is only building one Church. You all know that the fragmenting of the church in a given locality into multiple, separate, independent, competing factions is completely contrary to scripture. You all know that dedicating yourselves to establishing, protecting and treasuring these divisions is not “inevitable” in an “imperfect church” – it is sin. Repent of it, and deal with it. Stop fobbing God off with excuses about not being perfect. Stop pretending that you can distract God away from your chosen sin by fanning His outrage against gay marriage. Set about smashing down these echo chambers in which wolves can operate with impunity by hand-picking those to whom they will be “accountable”.

    Actually, that’ll do – it’s bedtime here!

    GNFS

  8. Dee – Deb – GBTC. Just to alert you that there is a section of the statement missing from the version you posted, which is the fifth page in the document. Here is the missing section, from the last part of Point #4(b) to the end of the document.

    * * * * *

    b. Removing abusive pastors. Although Christ died for all sinners and paid the penalty for all sins, this doesn’t mean a pastor who has violated one or more of his or her parishioners should continue to hold a leadership role in the church. Christ instructed us to be as “wise as serpents” (Mt. 10:16) and common sense compels us to remove abusive leaders so they cannot harm others. These leaders can and should be ministered to6 but this does not mean they should be given a second chance to violate the vulnerable. If Moses was denied entry to the promised land because he struck a rock the wrong way (Nu 20:12), clergy who violate the children or adults entrusted to them should be denied the pulpit.

    c. Educating parishioners about what they can expect during pastoral counseling and where to report if they believe a pastor has exceeded his or her appropriate roles. Patients at a hospital have explained to them various procedures and routinely receive a patient’s bill of rights. Similarly, children or adults receiving pastoral counseling should be aware of guidelines for the counseling and what they can do should a pastor or other counselor engage in inappropriate conduct.

    d. Supporting survivors of clergy abuse. When a congregation discovers a pastor has abused a child or adult in his or her care, the church has a responsibility to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. This includes assuming the financial cost of medical and mental health expenses or any other reasonable requests made by a victim. If the victim remains in the congregation, the abusive pastor should not be allowed to remain in the same church. Although we must continue to speak against abuse within the church, speech without action is a hollow reminder the church has done too little for too long to protect the vulnerable. In the midst of this most recent scandal, we pray the church’s future will be better than our past.

    GRACE Board of Directors
    December 7, 2016

  9. My husband has had more training about misconduct in the business place, as a supervisor, than most pastors have ever had. It seems to me that pastors should have more training and be more diligent than the business world, yet they are not. It is so wrong.

  10. I hope Tullian Tchividjian does not rip a page out of the Fallen Preacher Handbook and go on a Repentance Comeback Tour.

    Where he goes around to Robert Morris’ church or other Christian venues to express fakey lament and sorrow at how he stumbled in life,

    how Christians were so mean and judgmental towards him for trying to get into married women’s pants (how dare Christians try to hold preachers up to standards the New Testament lays out),

    but where reassures us he learned SO MUCH from his time of trial,

    And sur-prise! sur-prise! (as Gomer Pyle would say),

    He’s also written a new book you can BUY where he tells you all about his Restoration and Healing Journey and what the Lord Taught Him through his ordeal.

    Barf.

    I can about guarantee he will go this route and probably have matching tour t-shirts printed up that you can also buy for a fee.

    And naive Christians out there will follow this guy again, buy his books, etc and so forth. Double barf.

  11. Daisy wrote:

    Repentance Comeback Tour.

    “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and Heaven without Hell.”
    – William Booth – founder of the Salvation Army

  12. When the story first broke and Tullian threw his wife under the bus I knew that it was him having the affair . It is such typical behavior of pathological liars that are narcissists. Good for Boz…..I imagine when he started GRACE he never knew he would be standing up to and exposing his own brother some day. Can’t even begin to imagine how painful this has been for Boz and his family. Interestingly enough I have a friend who knows a Graham family member well and he told me over four years ago this family member couldn’t stand Tullian.

  13. dee wrote:

    Thank you Brad. I updated the past with the missing section. How I did that, I will never know.

    Who knows … all very mysterious. Maybe it has something to do with the missing link?

  14. Shato wrote:

    Interestingly enough I have a friend who knows a Graham family member well and he told me over four years ago this family member couldn’t stand Tullian.

    I’m sure his family has had him pegged for years. Probably why he didn’t want to be counseled by his brother, way too hard to snow someone who actually knows you well.

    And yes, the fact that his public statement smeared his wife made it obvious who he was.

  15. Off topic alert – I had a true nightmare last night. I went with my friends to a Bill Gothard workshop! Don’t know where that came from, but I was a bit freaked out when I woke up.

    I only went to one of his workshops, in the late 80’s. Funny story – one of the people who attended with me was very legalistic and she totally bought into his view of Christian music, which I didn’t. Our conference was at DAR constitution hall in D.C., and on our lunch break we walked to the Washington Monument, where the Christian rock group Petra happened to be playing. I loved it, but my friend not so much!

  16. Tullian reminds me of a character on a soap opera I used to watch years ago, that is now defunct. When I saw pictures of him, he just looked “slimy” to me. If I didn’t know he was a “minister”, I would have never guessed his occupation. I’m glad that GRACE is making a statement about him. More christian groups need to that, and about many others too. Maybe one of these days we will see an end to these charlatans who mock the very God that I love and worship.

  17. I have been hesitant to even mention Tullian on FB because I am FB friends with Boz- It’s gotta be hard being him right now with all of this.

    One of my best friends (he was the best man at my first wedding) has LONG been a Tullian fan, constantly citing his works as materials that have brought life into his world. We’ve had a little time of “agree to disagree” over the last few months, but the latest stuff to come out has him convinced (the call to repentance signed by Tripp was the nail in the coffin); I’m glad to see some eyes are being opened.

    Regarding the statement from Grace, excellent, as stuff from that organization always is. I have mad respect for Boz. He’s a good man.

  18. Bridget wrote:

    My husband has had more training about misconduct in the business place, as a supervisor, than most pastors have ever had. It seems to me that pastors should have more training and be more diligent than the business world, yet they are not. It is so wrong.

    Ironic, considering how the church growth movement has done their level best to model themselves after the business world.

  19. Former CLCer wrote:

    Off topic alert – I had a true nightmare last night. I went with my friends to a Bill Gothard workshop! Don’t know where that came from, but I was a bit freaked out when I woke up.

    I only went to one of his workshops, in the late 80’s. Funny story – one of the people who attended with me was very legalistic and she totally bought into his view of Christian music, which I didn’t. Our conference was at DAR constitution hall in D.C., and on our lunch break we walked to the Washington Monument, where the Christian rock group Petra happened to be playing. I loved it, but my friend not so much!

    I was actually a fan of Petra in the late 80s. Not their earliest stuff from the 70s, but more the hard rock or their later career. Their music would be enough to get any Gothardite’s panties in a twist.

  20. Lea wrote:

    I bet they don’t have to do required yearly ethics training either.

    Nope. I’m sure they don’t. And it has been devestating for the Church.

  21. NJ wrote:

    I was actually a fan of Petra in the late 80s.

    I, too; again, I prefer John Schlitt’s vocal style. Not sure about his hair, but then, hair isn’t a big part of my world.

  22. NJ wrote:

    Ironic, considering how the church growth movement has done their level best to model themselves after the business world.

    Yes, but their modeling after the business world has been for backsides in seats and money in the coffers. It has not been about loving your neighbor as yourself. And the church growth movement has been able to avoid the controls and consequences that befall the business world because pastors have “spiritual authority” and “there should not be lawsuits among you” and other proof texted rot that the church throws at people who are abused in the churches. It stinks. All of it.

  23. Good statement, but I sure do hate the precious language. Jesus never used that sort of tripe.

  24. Shato wrote:

    When the story first broke and Tullian threw his wife under the bus…

    That’s when I knew he was a lying scumbag as well. That’s when I felt like he needed a good thrashing. And he still needs one.

  25. Jeff S wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    Good statement, but I sure do hate the precious language. Jesus never used that sort of tripe.
    What do you mean?

    The language gives me the creeps, christianese. Just that sort of stuff, that weepy maudlin stuff. Not saying it was written by crummy people who don’t love Jesus and are fakes, but definitely saying it was written by people who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.” Oh please. Did Jesus EVER speak like that?

  26. @ Law Prof:

    “…who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.””
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    much more succinct to say “Get your sh]t together”.

  27. @ Bridget:

    The church seems to have some sort of view that they don’t have to do ethics training, because they all went to seminary! (they didn’t all, I guess but still).

    Seminary doesn’t seem to teach ethics. They don’t seem to be picking it up from the bible either. So, problem.

  28. Law Prof wrote:

    Did Jesus EVER speak like that?

    More like:

    You snakes, you viper’s brood
    You cannot escape being Devil’s food!

    “Alas For You” from Godspell

  29. Needed statement – With just a little change…

    From the GRACE statement… 2nd paragraph…

    “Dear victims – and you are indeed victims….”

    “Once again, one of **God’s shepherds**
    used his **position of authority,** his gift of words,
    his intellect and personality to draw you in
    when you were vulnerable and in need of care.”
    ———-

    NOPE

    NOT “one of **God’s shepherds.**”
    ———

    I’m-a-thinkin, the GRACE statement could be re-written this way… Yes?

    Dear victims – and you are indeed victims….

    Once again, a man, a wolf, who did NOT meet the Qualifications for elder/overseer…
    Entered NOT by the door, Jesus, into the sheepfold… the same is a thief and a robber…
    And mis-appropriated a “Title/Postion” pastor/leader/reverend…
    A “Title” that comes with Power, Profit, Prestige, Honor, Glory, Reputation…
    But, a “Title” that does NOT exist, in the Bible. – For one of **His Disciples.**

    Deceived you into believing those with “Title/Postion” pastor/leader/reverend…
    Have a “Postion of Authority” – They do NOT…

    You, “Dear victims” are NOT alone…
    This thief, and those who call themselves, church leaders, christian leaders…
    Have Deceived lots of folks, for lots of years…
    Into believing “pastors” have a “Postion of Authority.” – They do NOT…

    You have been victims of the gross misuse of power…
    That does NOT exist, in the Bible. – For one of **His Disciples.**

    You have been victims of the gross misuse of “Titles”…
    That do NOT exist, in the Bible. – For one of **His Disciples.**
    ———–

    Hmmm? I’m- a-liken King David more and more…

    The Lord is MY Shepherd…

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **THEIR shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  30. Law Prof wrote:

    The language gives me the creeps, christianese. Just that sort of stuff, that weepy maudlin stuff. Not saying it was written by crummy people who don’t love Jesus and are fakes, but definitely saying it was written by people who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.”

    I don’t think they CAN pull their heads out.
    They’re so far down the rabbit hole it’s impossible to climb out.

  31. Bridget wrote:

    NJ wrote:
    Ironic, considering how the church growth movement has done their level best to model themselves after the business world.

    Yes, but their modeling after the business world has been for backsides in seats and money in the coffers.

    And in Pastors’ & Elders’ pockets.
    Gotta keep up with the Furticks and Star Scotts, you know.

  32. Law Prof wrote:

    The language gives me the creeps, christianese. Just that sort of stuff, that weepy maudlin stuff. Not saying it was written by crummy people who don’t love Jesus and are fakes, but definitely saying it was written by people who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.” Oh please. Did Jesus EVER speak like that?

    Well, you are nicer than I am, because I think that sometimes it is written by cowards who try to erect some wall of religiosity between themselves and the hard realities which would otherwise be apparent to all if it were stated in everyday standard English and common terminology. No, Jesus did not talk like that, but of course He got in a lot of trouble, and people who want to avoid trouble at all costs just can’t afford to talk like Jesus talked; too dangerous. Perhaps some people actually exist in some foggy world where people talk like that for noble reasons, but I have not met one yet. I know that is harsh, but I believe it to be true.

  33. okrapod wrote:

    Well, you are nicer than I am, because I think that sometimes it is written by cowards who try to erect some wall of religiosity between themselves and the hard realities which would otherwise be apparent to all if it were stated in everyday standard English and common terminology. No, Jesus did not talk like that, but of course He got in a lot of trouble, and people who want to avoid trouble at all costs just can’t afford to talk like Jesus talked; too dangerous. Perhaps some people actually exist in some foggy world where people talk like that for noble reasons, but I have not met one yet. I know that is harsh, but I believe it to be true.

    Do you know that the organization responsible for this statment, GRACE, was founded by Boz Tchividjian who spent years as a child abuse chief prosecutor? And that he’s also writing a statement calling out his own brother? This is a guy (and an organization) who understand and know the hard realities of abuse.

    Whatever their motivation for speaking the way they do (which I think is fine), they are quite engaged in the fight against evil in this world, and Boz has done it on the front lines face to face with some of the most evil people this world has ever seen.

  34. Law Prof wrote:

    Not saying it was written by crummy people who don’t love Jesus and are fakes, but definitely saying it was written by people who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.” Oh please. Did Jesus EVER speak like that?

    LP, let us not forget that they aren’t writing it to Jesus but to those church leaders who have, heretofore, ignored and enabled such reprehensible actions and behaviors. As you well know, to communicate one’s thoughts effective, one must use language that one’s target audience understands. IMO, that is what they were doing.

  35. @ Jeff S:

    It makes no difference who or what they are, I am talking about a particular type of communication, which is why I did not address these people specifically but rather said ‘sometimes’ and I stand by that. It is about communication style, not this or that specific person or persons.

    But if you want to talk about this particular group my bet is that what with all the lawyer and legal stuff they are trying to be cagey and stay out of trouble, lest what they say be repeated in court if somebody sues them. Boz is no fool.

    Nonetheless, this christianese mess has become a disease on the church. Now note, there is neo-cal evangelical christianese and there is catholic christianese and who knows what all else. I think it is a smoke screen. In medicine they made us quit using medicalese with the patient and learn how to communicate differently; it is time religious people did the same thing with religion.

  36. @ Jeff S:
    I appreciate what GRACE attempts to do but totally disagree with the method. When the organization doing the evil are paying you to investigate and make a report because of bad publicity, there is a reason to question if it actually helps keep the evil organization in business.

    I realize there are nuances here but I highly doubt that organizations like Bob Jones or ABWE were just too ignorant to call the authorities.

  37. @ okrapod:

    I did miss the ‘sometimes’.

    I guess I don’t understand going after the communication style here, when the things said are a tremendously important items that too many churches are currently ignoring.

    It’s a well crafted statement, by individuals who know what they are talking about, addressing a serious issue in an excellent manner. I suppose I’m just bristling at a side discussion on the language used, especially suggesting it’s use by “cowards”, when this organization is one of the best allies in the church that abuse victims have.

  38. @ Lydia:

    Fair enough. I do believe in what GRACE does, and maybe that’s the point of disagreement here and the rub.

    I’m not naive enough to think that Bob Jones was really going to change based on GRACE, but I think it’s still an organization that is speaking truth in a very dark place, and taking every opportunity to do it. And they understand these issues better than any other organization like it.

  39. Lydia wrote:

    I appreciate what GRACE attempts to do but totally disagree with the method

    So what organization is doing a better job? It is ridiculous to assume that an independent, non-governmental watchdog/organization can simply muscle their way into a private institution and demand they comply to a non-judicial investigation; they have to be invited or requested.

    Aren’t you confusing the flawed but actual with the ideal-but-nonexistent?

  40. I agree with others about the Christianese language but I have great respect for GRACE coming out with this statement. I cannot imagine how hard it is to have to write a statement for the public church world dealing with your own literal sinning brother.

    Daisy wrote:

    I hope Tullian Tchividjian does not rip a page out of the Fallen Preacher Handbook and go on a Repentance Comeback Tour.

    If he can’t manage that, he may have to take a page from Dustin Boles’ book and start a “True Skeptic” website, or, if that fails, maybe he can hawk survival food like Jim Bakker…

  41. Bridget wrote:

    And the church growth movement has been able to avoid the controls and consequences that befall the business world because pastors have “spiritual authority” and “there should not be lawsuits among you” and other proof texted rot that the church throws at people who are abused in the churches.

    Well that, and our 1st Amendment. I strongly dislike the idea of the state or federal governments intervening in religious affairs, unless there is probable cause for crimes being committed. The last thing I ever want to see is secular govt. getting into the habit of deciding what is acceptable religious teaching. “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.”

  42. Harley wrote:

    Tullian reminds me of a character on a soap opera I used to watch years ago … If I didn’t know he was a “minister”, I would have never guessed his occupation. I’m glad that GRACE is making a statement about him. More christian groups need to …

    If your pastor looks like a guy who runs a UFC gym in El Segundo, you might have a problem. Seriously, I know God looks at the heart, and we shouldn’t judge people by their appearance, but we really ought to throw a flag on anyone who has an “of the world” vibe while claiming to be a leader of the Church. Sometimes when it looks and walks and quacks like a duck, it really is one.

  43. Law Prof wrote:

    The language gives me the creeps, christianese. Just that sort of stuff, that weepy maudlin stuff. Not saying it was written by crummy people who don’t love Jesus and are fakes, but definitely saying it was written by people who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.” Oh please. Did Jesus EVER speak like that?

    Law Prof, I completely agree with you on Christianese; I can’t stand it either, even though to an extent I’ve become used to it. It would be nice if they didn’t feel the need to couch it in such language, but I do think their intended audience has to be considered.

    It would be interesting if some sociology PhD candidate did a study on the history of Christianese.

  44. Burwell wrote:

    Aren’t you confusing the flawed but actual with the ideal-but-nonexistent?

    Ummm. No. Were someone to say that the flawed but actual is as good at it gets (with the inference that one should not look any further) would be to confuse the two. To say that the flawed but actual is as good as there may be right now but there still remain problems to be dealt with is not to confuse anything with anything. If one loses site of the ideal while it is still nonexistent, then the ideal will never happen since it has ceased to be a goal.

    And as for who does a better job when it comes to advising organizations about potential child sex abuse situations? I don’t know, but maybe some insurance liability companies. My former malpractice carrier sure covered all the bases and then some, and scared the wits out of some of us in the process. The local school system is ferocious on this issue. I think that most of the problem is not that there are not enough people available to advise people what to do, but rather that there is no enforcement system when it comes to churches. Various licensure boards will yank somebody’s license in a heartbeat for sex abuse, or some other stuff also, but pastors do not have to be licensed by the state and the denoms do not enforce like they should. I would not mind seeing that ultimate horror the gov get involved regarding sex abuse of children, frankly, any more than I mind that certain fire prevention and safety rules apply.

  45. I actually agree with both sides of the argument about the language used in the statement. I recognize Jesus was blunt. In today society, people would be suing Him for his use of language. What Jesus said to the Pharisees was beyond rude. His comment about them being tombs full of deadmens bones was a much greater insult in their culture than we realize. In todays culture the equivalent might be if we called some evil religious leader “a pile of s@!t.” Both stink to high heaven. None the less, I see the other side of the coin. Considering an uncle and brother were making the statement, that is probably as about as strong of language that could be used.
    I already stated on WT’s blog that I wish the statement had come from the P.C.A. instead. They are the organization that really needs to own TT as one of their own and repent for allowing him access to prey on sheep as he did.

  46. @ Mr. Jesperson:

    I think it’s hard to know exactly what the language was like that Jesus used, given we are separated by hundreds of years, using a different language, and are in a completely different culture.

    I run in Christian circles, so the language doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to me. I understand what they were communicating, and it didn’t distract. This is probably the case for the majority of the intended audience of the letter.

    I’m not certain I buy the notion that the language used within the evangelical church is particularly harmful or indicative of building barriers. I think it has probably evolved the way any sub cultures do: I’m also an avid gamer in MMOs, and that group of people have their own language that doesn’t make sense to the outside world. And it’s fine. I change my language when I speak to non games, just like I change my language when I speak to people from different faith backgrounds.

    When doing evangelism, then you have to consider your audience. And a good evangelist does. But that doesn’t mean that certain idioms or phrases appearing within the church are bad or illuminating deeper issues. It’s bound to happen, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.

  47. okrapod wrote:

    but rather that there is no enforcement system when it comes to churches.

    This is true. Enforcement is what we need to work on, internal or external.

    I think that’s what publicizing individual issues helps with, because the churches won’t police themselves watch groups and media bring it directly to public attention. But it’s just a stop gap measure and it misses a lot.

    And that’s without getting into the theological mistakes that are being made that allow this stuff to continue and promote abuse.

  48. Jeff S wrote:

    I’m not certain I buy the notion that the language used within the evangelical church is particularly harmful or indicative of building barriers.

    I don’t have a problem with grace’s statement in particular, I think it makes sense for the kind of org they are.

    However, there is a time and a place to cut through the language to get to the truth. Sometimes, we see it used to minimize problems (and crimes even) and distract. In those cases, I would prefer to cut right through to plain language saying plain things. Sometimes it’s jolting to say ‘Tullian is a predator and he needs to be kept away from public life’, but sometimes that’s necessary to get to the heart of the matter and to get people out of their fluffy lovey lets all get along mindset.

  49. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    I already stated on WT’s blog that I wish the statement had come from the P.C.A. instead. They are the organization that really needs to own TT as one of their own and repent for allowing him access to prey on sheep as he did.

    Yes. I’ve been thinking through the whole systems of (what should have been) accountability that Tullian Tchividjian seems to have tossed aside at every stage. And, on the topic of the PCA/Presbyterian Church in America taking some action, this was posted yesterday by Tony Arsenal on *The Reformed Arsenal*. He has published a number of important articles periodically on this situation. Because of his Reformed background, his perspective has helped me understand presbyterian polity systems.

    Anyway, he wondered about Tullian Tchividjian’s PCA membership status, and so he did his research and reached out to find out. He posts some important information here:

    https://reformedarsenal.com/2016/12/08/tullians-current-membership-status/

  50. Burwell wrote:

    So what organization is doing a better job? It is ridiculous to assume that an independent, non-governmental watchdog/organization can simply muscle their way into a private institution and demand they comply to a non-judicial investigation; they have to be invited or requested.

    Aren’t you confusing the flawed but actual with the ideal-but-nonexistent?

    I don’t come from that position at all. You actually said what is true…no org can muscle in. And they shouldn’t. We don’t need more laws or even oversight. We need more people who care more about individuals than institutions. We need more independent thinkers who question. We need more grown ups who refuse to blindly fund without oversight. Who don’t view titles as superior or more spiritual. Who are willing to speak up instead of go along with….whatever.

    That might sound like a pipe dream but I don’t think it has to be. I think that is exactly what our Lord wants from us as maturity and wisdom.

    Does anyone believe that places like Bob Jones, after the prolonged public scandals from which they were bleeding dry, was going to change their most ingrained beliefs of authoritarianism and bizarre teaching? You don’t change the ingrained culture but you can help with an image rehab which is what most religious organizations do.

    Places like that don’t need to be saved. Why would anyone ever trust it again? My hope is people would be warned. But it is more profitable to hire an organization that will announce them fixed when paid. There is no justice for the victims in that, either. Their demise would be more just. I would respect GRACE more if they announced that such organizations are not safe or worth the effort.

    This is just my opinion. I don’t expect much agreement. I dont think Boz is a bad person, either. Neither was Ken Sande of Peacemakers. When the perp organization is footing the bill for the investigation, it is wise to leary.

  51. Lydia wrote:

    We need more people who care more about individuals than institutions. We need more independent thinkers who question. We need more grown ups who refuse to blindly fund without oversight. Who don’t view titles as superior or more spiritual.

    I could not agree more with this sentiment!

  52. @ Lydia:
    Predators need to know that churches/para churches are very unsafe for them to operate within and not worth the effort.. How would we go about that? When we think of it that way it changes the paradigm. As the poor lawyer for victims said in Spotlight, ‘if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to molest one’.

  53. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    In todays culture the equivalent might be if we called some evil religious leader “a pile of s@!t.” Both stink to high heaven.

    Keen observation there Mr. Jesperson. Several big-names come to mind.

  54. siteseer wrote:

    I agree with others about the Christianese language but I have great respect for GRACE coming out with this statement. I cannot imagine how hard it is to have to write a statement for the public church world dealing with your own literal sinning brother.

    Daisy wrote:

    I hope Tullian Tchividjian does not rip a page out of the Fallen Preacher Handbook and go on a Repentance Comeback Tour.

    If he can’t manage that, he may have to take a page from Dustin Boles’ book and start a “True Skeptic” website, or, if that fails, maybe he can hawk survival food like Jim Bakker…

    That’s the old fasioned way. Today it’s blogs, Facebook posts, and founding organizations for ex-pastors. This is still beyond sad.

  55. NJ wrote:

    , unless there is probable cause for crimes being committed.

    As far as I can see that is exactly what is happening in churches as we have seen from the stories on this blog.

    NJ wrote:

    I strongly dislike the idea of the state or federal governments intervening in religious affairs,

    I have no problem with the state or feds interfering when citizens/churches are breaking the laws that are in place to protect children and adults from abusers and frauds. The church is not handling it.

    And I am against religion interfering with government and the freedom of citizens as much as I am against government interfering with religion.

  56. @ Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:

    In my med school class one of the students was a somewhat older Presbyterian minister who planned to go into psychiatry. Maybe that would work because psychiatry has some significant differences from counseling and there is a different patient base, and old style Presbyterianism might be something which would be less of a problem than some religious backgrounds. But, it looks to me like a research and evidence based discipline on the one hand (psychology) and a religious system based on revelation and a developed theology on the other hand would be incompatible. I think it might have the same problems as seen with the combined MD/JD degrees where people overwhelmingly choose one or the other but not both. Some things just do not fit too well with each other in the same mind set.

  57. okrapod wrote:

    But, it looks to me like a research and evidence based discipline on the one hand (psychology) and a religious system based on revelation and a developed theology on the other hand would be incompatible.

    and yet, historically, it was the Church that helped develop the Scientific Method, established the first hospitals, and founded universities …..

    “Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.”37 “Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (Gaudium et Spes)

  58. Todd Friel showing why he must have failed analogy 101, he then gets a great deal of help at failing “reality” while claiming to be the purveyors of “reality”. Please just watch this clip if you want to understand why spiritual abuse seems to be so prevalent in this group. Imagine living in a world where these people held the secular sword. I can’t believe the hubris and irony.

    https://youtu.be/GrNNpUmK_TQ

  59. One thing I appreciate about this statement is the special attention that was given to the victims. I sent Boz a note letting him know that the statements were very important and meaningful to the victims. They initiated their responses to me, so obviously that shows how meaningful it was to them. These victims are finally getting validated, having their voices heard (through Rachel’s story). It’s been a long road for them.

  60. Lydia wrote:

    Why not mature, instead, and view the pastor as an equal with a job you help pay him for?

    Amen! New Calvinists will have nothing to do with the Biblical doctrine of “priesthood of the believer.” They enjoy being overlords and would never accept that they are called to be but one priest in a church of priests. Every believer is a priest. Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part! The New Calvinist kingdom does not operate properly as the Kingdom of God.

  61. Daisy wrote:

    I hope Tullian Tchividjian does not rip a page out of the Fallen Preacher Handbook and go on a Repentance Comeback Tour.

    Tullian has disqualified himself from ministry (period). He certainly needs to repent … but the church is under no obligation to restore him to ministry. He just needs to find another line of work. Of course, he could follow Driscoll’s example and make an unrepentant comeback … there’s enough gullible folks out there to provide him a platform and paycheck.

  62. Max wrote:

    Booth prophesied exactly what the 21st century church in America would look like.

    Hi Max

    Billy Graham, in his book “World Aflame,” 1965, also spoke about believers rejecting…
    “The Institutional Church.”
    ———

    Amos,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    We appreciate your interest in confirming a quote attributed to Mr. Graham. In Chapter 8 of his book, WORLD AFLAME, Mr. Graham states the following:

    Because the church, in turning to naturalistic religion, increasingly proclaims a humanistic gospel, thousands of laymen and clergymen alike are asking penetrating questions about the purpose and mission of the church. Thousands of loyal church members, particularly in America, are beginning to meet in prayer groups and Bible study classes. Multitudes of Christians within the church are moving toward the point where they may reject the institution that we call the church. They are beginning to turn to more simplified forum of worship. They are hungry for a personal and vital experience with Jesus Christ. They want a heartwarming, personal faith.

    Unless the church quickly recovers its authoritative Biblical message, we may witness the spectacle of millions of Christians going outside the institutional church to find spiritual food.

    We hope this information is helpful. May God bless you.

    Sincerely,

    K. C. James (jo)
    Administrative Services
    Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
    http://www.billygraham.org

  63. A. Amos Love wrote:

    Because the church, in turning to naturalistic religion, increasingly proclaims a humanistic gospel, thousands of laymen and clergymen alike are asking penetrating questions about the purpose and mission of the church.

    With all due respect to the Graham patriarch and his Evangelistic Association, what is so wrong with humanism?

  64. Muff Potter wrote:

    what is so wrong with humanism?

    Well, Nothing is wrong with **Humanism.**

    If you’re a **Humanist.** 🙂
    ———-

    This is a quote from “The Humanist Society”

    “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that,
    without theism and other supernatural beliefs,
    affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives
    of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

    ——–

    Now, if someone believes “God is a Spirit.” Like I do…

    A loving savior who shed His Blood to cleanse me of ALL sin…

    And, if I TRUST this Savior, Who shed His Blood for me…

    If I believe Jesus Christ now lives in me? The kingdom of God is within me?

    And, If I will Hear His Voice, and FOLLOW this Shepherd… Who loves His Sheep…

    He, Jesus, will teach me, He, Jesus will lead and guide me me into ALL truth.

    Now, if someone believes “God is a Spirit.” Like I do…

    Studying **Humanism,** and being a **Humanist, **

    Might NOT be of much help to me. 😉

    In building a relationship with The “ONE” Teacher – The “ONE” Shepherd…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  65. A. Amos Love wrote:

    Billy Graham, in his book “World Aflame,” 1965, also spoke about believers rejecting… “The Institutional Church.”

    Thank you Amos. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps 127:1). Believers by the thousands are realizing that much of the American church is only institutional vanity, held together by the teachings and traditions of men – a form without spiritual substance, a form of godliness but denying the power.

    In such an environment, men like Tullian can get a platform and succeed in “ministry” for a season. I was young and now am old; it’s getting increasingly tough for this old guy to find a place to worship with other believers without having to weave around the smoke and mirrors. The American pulpit will stand in judgment for leading the pew astray, always preaching to the weaker element that comes to church and not ministering to the Bride of Christ as they ought.

  66. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    Mr. Jesperson wrote:
    I already stated on WT’s blog that I wish the statement had come from the P.C.A. instead. They are the organization that really needs to own TT as one of their own and repent for allowing him access to prey on sheep as he did.
    Yes. I’ve been thinking through the whole systems of (what should have been) accountability that Tullian Tchividjian seems to have tossed aside at every stage. And, on the topic of the PCA/Presbyterian Church in America taking some action, this was posted yesterday by Tony Arsenal on *The Reformed Arsenal*. He has published a number of important articles periodically on this situation. Because of his Reformed background, his perspective has helped me understand presbyterian polity systems.
    Anyway, he wondered about Tullian Tchividjian’s PCA membership status, and so he did his research and reached out to find out. He posts some important information here:
    https://reformedarsenal.com/2016/12/08/tullians-current-membership-status/

    So let me get this straight. When they “deposed” TT, they assigned his membership to some unnamed church. It’s unknown whether he ever attended. Then unnamed party or parties requested the membership be transferred to Willow Creek. But they fired him before the (apparently lengthy) process could go through. So the unnamed church was required by policy to reach out to him, but he was long gone (and maybe had never been there) and drop him from the rolls. Eventually, both Arsenal and Labby make impassioned appeals for him to return to his church of membership and face the church discipline music– not realizing he’s long gone (if he was ever there). So the whole male-lead (sic) system is impotent and laughable and TT would be laughing his way to the bank if wimmenfolk hadn’t come forward. A couple verses from Brooks and Dunn are appropriate:
    ‘I keep thinkin’ any minute you’ll be comin’ home honey
    I ain’t seen nothin’ of you in a month of sundays
    Tell me how long gone are you gonna be

    The phone ain’t ringin’, ’cause you still ain’t callin’
    I ain’t been hearin’ your footsteps fallin’
    Tell me how long gone are you gonna be’

  67. I didn’t mind the call for God to work globally out of this mess but I admit I wasn’t sure sin has fruit in the way mentioned. I’m a linguist…I allow for disagreements on semantics, and I get what was being said, but that was my little quibble. As for Christianese, it’s a disease…hard to remove. Go easy on those of us who may have a lifelong struggle with the condition. 😉

    Law Prof wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    Good statement, but I sure do hate the precious language. Jesus never used that sort of tripe.
    What do you mean?

    The language gives me the creeps, christianese. Just that sort of stuff, that weepy maudlin stuff. Not saying it was written by crummy people who don’t love Jesus and are fakes, but definitely saying it was written by people who need to pull their heads out of pseudo Christian culture, e.g., “May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe.” Oh please. Did Jesus EVER speak like that?

  68. Muff Potter wrote:

    A. Amos Love wrote:

    Because the church, in turning to naturalistic religion, increasingly proclaims a humanistic gospel, thousands of laymen and clergymen alike are asking penetrating questions about the purpose and mission of the church.

    With all due respect to the Graham patriarch and his Evangelistic Association, what is so wrong with humanism?

    The question in the Church about the place of ‘the natural world’ and the ‘the spiritual world’ has been raging since the days of the Gnostics in early Christianity.

    Occasionally, we still will see people in the faith who say they no longer sin, or that they find the spiritual world to be superior to the natural world, as though the two parts of Creation were dualistic and in opposition to one another.

    What IS believed in the Church is that God created all that exists ‘ex nihilo’, from nothing. And that His Creation includes both the natural world and the spiritual realm. He is the God of the natural world. He is the God of the supernatural world. And He found His Creation to be ‘good’.

  69. First two posts in a four-part series updating Tullian Tchividjian situation are up at Spiritual Sounding Board. Post #1:

    1. Third Woman Victim of Tullian Tchividjian’s Seduction Gives Details; She Reportedly Extends Timeline of His Adulteries Back into 2013.

    A basic timeline from this survivor, sharing key details of her experience. This post from Julie Anne also shares her analysis on why this woman’s story is credible, and some related context to give a larger perspective to what this new information means for Mr. Tchividjian and those who’ve supported him.

    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2016/12/15/1-third-woman-victim-of-tullian-tchividjians-seduction-gives-details-she-reportedly-extends-timeline-of-his-adulteries-back-into-2013/

  70. Second post at SSB on Tullian Tchividjian situation:

    2. An Infographic on Tullian Tchividjian’s Pursuit of Women and a Public/Publication Platform.

    A timeline infographic for 2014 through 2016 that shows the overlap among women Mr. Tchividjian was reportedly carrying on with, along with books he got published and periodic bestseller status. (This infographic was produced over a week ago. We expect to update it soon to reflect the new information about this woman from 2013 who has just come forward.) This visual is important because, in just the past two weeks, two groups have called Mr. Tchividjian to step aside from all public ministry based on his character and patterns of behavior. Also, a number of his former promoters and protectors have gone on record, removing their support — some taking additional actions.

    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2016/12/15/2-an-infographic-on-tullian-tchividjians-pursuit-of-women-and-a-public-publication-platform/