This post was first published on December 11, 2009, as we wrapped up our series on Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. After extensive research, we are convinced that Tullian “played it close to the vest”, withholding from the Pastor Search Committee and leadership his future plans for Coral Ridge, which are becoming more and more evident. In our opinion, this was not only deceptive but dishonest. Please be sure to read our concluding comments, which have been “penned” today.
As we wrap up our coverage of Coral Ridge’s new pastor, we have to wonder one thing – just how transparent was Tulllian Tchividjian with the Pastor Search Committee as well as the leadership of the church? Did they know about the colleagues with whom he associates? He is certainly being transparent on his blog in promoting them along with their books! (You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours…) Although Coral Ridge has a strong reformed tradition, is Hyper-Calvinism the direction in which the members now want to go because that’s where the church is heading and in a hurry!
Coral Ridge, much like Bellevue Baptist Church, had a theological giant at its helm for such a long period of time. D. James Kennedy was heavily involved in the Moral Majority, and he often focused on America’s Christian heritage. At one time the church was bursting at the seams with close to 10,000 members in the 1990s. Coral Ridge even included billionaire Rich DeVos (Amway co-founder) among its ranks. Rich’s contributions were probably substantial. As the Moral Majority lost ground and Christians became disillusioned with the concept of using politics to moralize the nation, church membership has waned. Desiring to be a beacon on a hill once again, Coral Ridge members were probably awed that the legacy of Billy Graham could live on if they chose one of his seven grandsons as their senior pastor.
The problem is Tullian Tchividjian is NOT Billy Graham! As far as we can tell, he doesn’t share the same theology as his grandfather. Here’s a case in point. While we understand that many churches DO NOT include an altar call at the end of every church service (neither of us attend churches that do), it seems that this was part of Coral Ridge’s tradition. Oh, there’s that word again…tradition. The problem with Tully’s swift change in doing away with an altar call is this – that was the hallmark of Billy Graham’s ministry. Now his grandson is suddenly getting rid of it! Tchividjian has been at the helm of Coral Ridge for eight months now. Why he didn’t go more slowly or get the input of the congregation is surprising to us. Of all the changes he could have made, that one is the most ironic.
We are saddened that D. James Kennedy’s only legacy, his daughter, has been banished from the congregation her father started. What a legacy for Coral Ridge! Whether or not we approve of the tactics the dissidents used to try and oust their brand new pastor, we still find Tchividjian’s actions reprehensible! As we stated in a previous post, the Coral Ridge members really need to educate themselves on this hyper-Calvinist crowd. We have found these men to be demeaning to those who do not agree with their precise theology. These puffed-up guys are not true Calvinists (with whom we have no problem) – they are what we call “Calvinistas”. There is a HUGE difference! The Wartburg Watch is chockfull of information about them.
Now that Tully is revealing his alliances on his blog and through his professional associations, it’s time for the Coral Ridge congregation to project into the future. What do they want their church to be like in the decades to come? You can definitely learn a lot about the future by studying the past. And rest assured, these Calvinistas have a fairly short past that can be thoroughly investigated, especially on the internet. Silence is definitely not golden!
We believe the pendulum has swung way too far to the right, and we don’t believe it will stay in that position for very long. This group is relatively small in number — that’s why they have to duplicate themselves in these reformed organizations (Gospel Coalition, Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals, Together for the Gospel, and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood). You see the same names over and over and over again. Yet there are some intriguing differences.
What is disconcerting is that there seems to be alliances between thoughtful Calvinists, such as Tim Keller and Calvinistas such as C.J. Mahaney. The difference in practices and beliefs between these two groups is noticeable. For example, Tim Keller is widely recognized as a thoughtful man who believes in some form of evolution and a limited flood. He has been very effective in formulating methods of engaging the New Atheists. It is inconceivable to us that such a man would have much in common with Mahaney whose Sovereign Grace Ministries has been scarred with accusations of abusive tactics towards its membership. Do Keller and others like him understand the ministries of all of the folks with whom they are aligning? Are they actually reading each others’ books?
Why is the belief in creationism important? Well, for your blog queens, it is not important. But, for some of the Calvinistas, this issue is at the same level of the virgin birth. Do you think we are exaggerating? One member of the Gospel Coalition said to Dee, “Are you saying creation is a “B” issue?” when she asked why the church couldn’t allow for an “old earth” perspective. People are thrown out of “creation” classes if they disagree with the young earth perspective. We wonder if said pastor would throw Tim Keller out of the class as well? In case you think we are misrepresenting Keller’s beliefs, please refer to this excellent site set up by Francis Collins called Biologos site or just “google” his name. (http://www.biologos.org/resources/leading-figures)
Finally, we two women have another question. We understand that most conservative theologians do not believe women can be pastors. However, are there absolutely no women who could be members of The Gospel Coalition?
The Calvinistas re trying to increase their ranks among the younger generation, but our prediction is that Christians are soon going to awaken from their slumber (by the prompting of the Holy Spirit) and realize how harmful these hyper-Calvinists have been to the cause of Christ. When the pendulum does swing back to a more balanced theological position, we wonder how many of these Calvinistas will be knocked off their lofty pedestals? And will Tully be among them?
Now that Tullian is getting comfortable on his lofty pedestal at Coral Ridge, he is moving forward with his personal agenda which often centers around his ever-increasing friendships with the “New Calvinists”. Here’s a case in point. On the day that Josh Harris’ lastest and greatest book came out, here’s what Tullian wrote on his blog. http://www.crpc.org/blog/?p=779
“My friends Justin Taylor, Josh Harris, Greg Gilbert, Collin Hansen, and Kevin DeYoung are down visiting. Each year, we all try and get together for a few days to talk, pray, think, and encourage each other. I’m so grateful for these friends. We have a great time together. Just being with them (I’m the oldest) is a great encouragement to me that God continues to raise up young men who love the gospel, care about the Bible, evangelism, expository preaching, sound doctrine, and attempting great things for God.
As I was showing Josh that his new book, Dug Down Deep (it comes out today–it’s excellent) is sitting on my bedside table (almost at the top) he took a picture. Pastors, if your wives are tired of your many books lying around the house, show them this picture and maybe, just maybe, they’ll not only have great sympathy for my wife, Kim, but they may not bug you as much.”
Please click on the link and take a look at the picture TT mentions. What’s noticeably missing from Tullian’s “bedside table” is his Bible. So many books to read…is there any time for Bible reading?
And, of course, Tullian has his own book, Surprised by Grace, coming out in a few months (Release Date: May 31). We predict it will be quite a spectable. Expect more self-promotion and backslapping with his Calvinista buddies on all of their blogs. What a racket! What we wonder the most is WHEN are these guys writing their books? We assume the royalties go directly into their pockets, so are they “writing their masterpieces on company/church time”? That’s called “double-dipping”.
Here is Josh Harris’ inspiring endorsement at this Amazon link: www.amazon.com/Surprised-Grace-Relentless-Pursuit-Rebels/dp/1433507757/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260393280&sr=8-5
“Twenty years ago Tullian was the wild, rebellious black sheep among Billy Graham’s grandchildren. Today he follows in his grandfather’s steps as a powerful preacher of the cross of Christ. As he retells the Old Testament story of Jonah he shows that while sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. Tullian’s heart to see rebels—as well as cold-hearted Pharisees—transformed by the gospel of grace shines through on every page.”
—Joshua Harris, Senior Pastor, Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Tullian and Josh first met around 2005, and you can see how much their friendship has grown since then. As TT expands his “circle of friends” among those who would label themselves “New Calvinists”, he is becoming well-acquainted with a Southern Baptist pastor, J.D. Greear. Tullian will be speaking at Greear’s Advance the Church conference in Durham, North Carolina next month. http://advancethechurch.com/
TT will be sharing the platform with Mark Driscoll, Johnny Hunt (current SBC president), David Platt (a rising star in the SBC), among others. We find it interesting that J.D. Greear wrote about TT on his own blog yesterday, just as we are wrapping up this series on Tullian and Coral Ridge.
Thought this was a great paragraph in an article by our friend Tullian Tchividjian on “Contextualization w/o Compromise.” Tullian, who is named for Tertullian, is speaking at our Advance The Church 2010 conference in April.”
Are J.D.’s words prophetic? We’ll keep you posted if there are any updates on this continuing saga at Coral Ridge…