Tullian Tchividjian expelled for crypto-Lutheranism?

Tullian Tchividjian, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian and the grandson of Billy Graham, was kicked out of the Gospel Coalition blogging community for what the GC folks are calling a doctrinal issue over sanctification.  Others claim other reasons, including Rev. Tchividijian’s criticism of how other GC members handled a sexual abuse scandal.  But I take the official statement from the Reformed organization seriously.

As we have posted, Rev. Tchividijian discovered the distinction between Law and Gospel in some Lutheran writers who helped him through a personal crisis in his ministry.  The complaints about “anti-nominanism,” being weak on sanctification,  and downplaying the role of moral improvement in salvation sound like common Calvinist misunderstandings of Lutheranism. From Tullian Tchividjian Pushes Back Against Tim Keller, DA Carson’s Gospel Coalition Statement on His Exit:

Tchividjian’s theological divergence with others at The Gospel Coalition surfaced earlier this month, after he responded to a post by Jen Wilkin’s post “Failure Is Not a Virtue,” in which she argued that “celebratory failurism asserts that all our attempts to obey will fail, thereby making us the recipients of greater grace. But God does not exhort us to obey just to teach us that we cannot hope to obey. He exhorts us to obey to teach us that, by grace, we can obey, and therein lies hope.”

In turn, Tchividjian’s post pushed back against Wilkin’s arguments, claiming that he had “never encountered a Christian who ‘celebrates failure.’”

“Don’t get me wrong, I see moral laxity in everyone, everywhere. But I don’t see real Christians reveling in it or bragging about it. Anyway, it’s not just the diagnosis that I question. It’s her proposed solution to this ‘celebratory failurism’ which reveals some pretty deep theological confusion. Things get very confusing when you don’t properly distinguish God’s law from God’s gospel,” he wrote.

His post consequently spawned multiple responses, as summarized by TGC contributor Kevin DeYoung.

An interview on Fighting for the Faith with Tchividjian also aired on Thursday night where he refuted claims that he was leaning toward antinomianism, or that his beliefs about grace suggested that Christians owed no obligation to morality or to the law.

The Florida pastor also commented on Sovereign Grace Ministries founder C. J. Mahaney, who formerly served on The Gospel Coalition’s Council, breaking his silence on the child sex abuse lawsuit.

For more on the controversy, including links to the back-and-forth arguments, go here.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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