This morning the disheartening news broke that Tullian has lost his job at Willow Creek Presbyterian and that the majority of the board of the Liberate Network have resigned amid new allegations "of wrong doing involving another inappropriate relationship prior to the affair which led to his resignation at Coral Ridge."
This is a truly tragic turn of events and my prayers rise to God our Father on behalf of all who are involved.
This latest revelation sadly shows that Tullian still had some sin that he was running from rather than repenting of and being forgiven. God has now stepped in and has clearly ended Tullian's running. I pray that despite how painful this is that it will result in Tullian's repentance, forgiveness and him bearing true fruit in keeping with repentance.
My heart breaks also for Pastor Kevin Labby who has to be utterly heartbroken by these newest revelations and the decisions he's been forced to make in light of this new information.
Some are now calling on me and demanding that I admit that I was wrong in my support of Tullian (Ya gotta love it when someone wants to kick you when you're down. I'm pretty sure that's not one of the fruits of the spirit). When I question these people and ask them to be specific about what I was supporting Tullian for, it is clear that they've either been misinformed or have misunderstood the principle on which I have taken a stand regarding Tullian. Let me make this clear by giving three examples of my defenses of Tullian.
1. My public defense of Tullian after his removal from Coral Ridge Presbyterian began when he accepted the position on the staff at Willow Creek Presbyterian. Many were condemning Tullian and Willow Creek and accusing them of bringing Tullian into a ministry position. But these allegations were false. Tullian was not brought to Willow Creek to preach or to teach or to minister. He was brought on staff in a back office support role. There was a kerfuffle caused by my challenging the claims of those who were saying that Tullian was now doing ministry work. However, those making the claims that he'd been brought on staff at Willow Creek to do ministry work were wrong.
2. I was accused of being inconsistent with how I treat my friend Tullian as opposed to how I critique Mark Driscoll.
Comparing Driscoll to Tullian is like comparing grapefruits to bananas. Here's why:
a) Driscoll fled from church discipline and claimed he heard God's voice telling him that the discipline plan put in place by the board at Mars Hill was a trap and now he is restoring himself to ministry.
b) Tullian resigned and submitted to church discipline after his sin was brought to light and has since been under the watchful care of a PCA pastor and elders. The fact that Tullian has now been further disciplined by his pastor is undeniable proof that there is no comparison between Tullian and Driscoll and that I wasn't being inconsistent by not treating them the same.
3. I recently challenged yet another blogger's claim that Tullian had been restored to ministry despite the fact that nothing could be further from the truth. It is important to note that even at the time of the relaunch of the Liberate Network that Tullian was not a part of the network's leadership. When it was pointed out that Tullian had accepted a speaking engagement to discuss his book One Way Love I noted that he was doing so as a layman and not as a pastor. It was then that several people claimed that because Tullian had been defrocked that he could never again publicly speak authoritatively about Jesus or the Bible. When I challenged what these men were saying on Biblical grounds, Twitter melted down.
I still stand by my position that the Bible nowhere teaches that a layman who had formerly been a pastor but removed from the office with cause can never again publicly tell people about Jesus or teach anyone other than his immediate family what the Bible says.
My point in all of this is has been to admonish Christians to speak the truth.
If you don't like Tullian or disagree with the theology he espoused in his books you're welcome to do so. If you believe that he should never be restored to any kind of ministry, you're free to say so and make your case. If you think that it was far too soon after Tullian's sin for him to be appearing anywhere in public, you have a right to air that opinion. But where no Christian is free is to charge someone with something they have not done, demand that they repent of sins they've never committed or worse, demand that they obey a rule that you've invented that is not actually found in scripture. Rumors, false allegations and man made rules do not advance the truth, nor do they assist the work of the gospel. Instead, they only hinder them.
Tullian's actual sins are the thing he must daily repent of and be forgiven for. The crushing weight of the guilt of his actual sins is not made lighter by adding on to them sins that he has not committed. His load will only be made lighter through the forgiveness of his sins won for him by Jesus Christ who died in Tullian's place on the cross.
Although I am deeply saddened by these latest revelations, I am also thankful that God has intervened and ended Tullian's running from these other sins. Repentance can sometimes be a process. The difficulty of learning how to speak the truth about yourself in light of God's Holy Law can at times be daunting. But what Tullian was either fearful or unwilling for so long to confess to his pastor and his closest friends has now been brought into the light where it can be repented of and forgiven. Let us pray that He who began a good work in Tullian will bring it to completion.