Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pastor OR Movement Leader: Choose You This Day

Liberate (Tullian Tchividjian's latest vehicle) seems to be morphing rather quickly into a denomination complete with a directory of churches.

Pause for a long sigh...

What is it these days with pastors feeling the need to lead movements? In seeing the Liberate site today, a friend asked me what sadly seems to be an increasingly unthinkable question: "Why can't we just serve our denominations?" Silly man.

I serve a church of around 1,000 souls. That challenge is daunting and most days I don't feel as though I'm doing a very good job. Perhaps my gifts are vastly more miniscule than I previously thought. But how does a man pastor a large church and lead a movement at the same time?

Has not the last 12 months or so tended to prove that pastor/movement leader is not a very good combination?

I write this not to pick on Tullian Tchividjian but as a plea to my fellow pastors. Brothers, shepherd the flock among you. Beware the slough of pride. Take proactive steps to avoid making a name for yourself. Don't trust your motives.

25 comments:

Teri Jacobsen said...

So did antinomianism just get a new set of clothes?

Todd Pruitt said...

I fear you may be right. Let's pray this confusion does not spread.

Matthew Woodside said...

Last check the church count was up to 28, 10 of those Lutheran congregations. Do we need to trademark LIBERATE like Purpose-Driven?

Todd Pruitt said...

I do find it quite interesting that a PCA pastor's appeal is so strongly Lutheran. This is quite revealing about his theology of sanctification. It's not what the Westminster Confession of Faith affirms.

Sean said...

I've gotta be honest — and hopefully you can help, Todd — but I'm struggling with this overall controversy.

I obviously don't know all the churches personally that they're featuring in the Liberate church directory — but find the range of churches listed very odd and hard to believe.

I listened to a recent podcast with Tullian and in that podcast the interviewer mentioned this sermon:

http://vimeo.com/85759950

So I cut right to the chase and listened to it. I know you're a very busy guy, but if you have a few free moments maybe you could give the last 15 minutes a listen and explain where he's wrong?

When I listen to it, I even hear certain elements that you've preached in the past. "God didn't come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live."

I know this one sermon doesn't necessarily encapsulate all that he's preaching and teaching, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this, I'm struggling through this particular controversy.

Thanks in advance.

Sean said...

I should clarify, when I say "this overall controversy", I'm not talking about the churches listed on the site. I'm talking about this entire thing that all the big names, pastors, bloggers and everyone else has been commenting on, writing about, etc., etc.

Todd Pruitt said...

Hey Sean.

In a nutshell, Tullian's preaching and writing propagates the idea that Christians are entirely passive in their sanctification. He seems to see no positive role in the lives of Christians for the preaching of biblical imperatives; that doing so is inherently moralistic or legalistic.

Here are few helpful sources:
http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/05/where-the-sanctification-contr.php

http://michaeljkruger.com/when-you-fail-to-distinguish-second-and-third-use-of-the-law-a-response-to-tullian-tchividjian/

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/05/imperatives-are-for-preaching.php

Sean said...

Thanks, Todd.

Those links helped tremendously.

Matthew Woodside said...

Sean,

If you want a Reformed Baptist perspective check out Steve Lawson's and Jerry Wragg's message on New Antinomianism as well. Both preached at this years Shepherd's Conference.

http://www.shepherdsconference.org/media/details/?mediaID=8450

http://www.shepherdsconference.org/media/details/?mediaID=8438

Lawson's message set off a firestorm in the Lutheran community.

Hope this helps.

mozart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mozart said...

Tullian has explicitly affirmed the three uses of the Law. livetheresistance.org/2014/05/is-tullian-an-antinomian-no/ . I think we need to be careful to listen to him and not caricature what he is saying. I personally find him a vast improvement on his predecessor in the pulpit at Coral Ridge Pres, who was more into culture wars in his later days than the Gospel. But, lets be careful to remember the Ninth Commandment when we talk about fellow PCA teaching elders. I have nowhere found in his sermons "no positive role in the lives of Christians for the preaching of biblical imperatives."

mozart said...

http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2014/05/is-tullian-tchividjian-an-antinomian.html

Todd Pruitt said...

Mozart - I'm not breaking the Ninth Commandment. Actually, there's nothing unusual in what I wrote. These concerns have been raised numerous times, by numerous people within the PCA (and elsewhere), over several years.

Also, if I say, "I affirm the 3rd use of the law, it doesn't mean much if I'm not in practice doing that. It especially doesn't mean much if I publically preach and write material that repeatedly ignores the positive role of biblical imperatives in the lives of God's people.

mozart said...

Todd,
I appreciate what you say, I really do, brother, but I have listened to Tullian's sermons for months now, and he DOES affirm the biblical imperatives--he doesn't "repeatedly ignore" them. I hear that others are saying that as well, but that doesn't make it so. This is what happens when you have a blogosphere which feeds on itself. If we are really concerned about the teaching of a TE, we should be bringing charges in our church courts instead of taking shots at him which may or may not ring true. This is what our church courts in the PCA are for.

Todd Pruitt said...

We must be listening to different preachers.

Todd Pruitt said...

By the way, I don't have anything to charge Tullian with. I have not accused him of being antinomian. I have raised my concern that his writing clearly trends that way. And his writing is VERY public. His books are in the hands of some of the people I serve as pastor. So, yes, I will will continue to gladly alert people through this venue about writing that I fear will lead them into error.

mozart said...

Understood, Pastor Pruitt. I don't see him saying anything different than what Dr. Michael Horton says here: "The average person thinks that the purpose of religion is to give us a list of rules and techniques or to frame a way of life that helps us to be more loving, forgiving, patient, caring, and generous. Of course, there is plenty of this in the Bible. Like Moses, Jesus summarized the whole law in just those terms: loving God and neighbor. However, as crucial as the law remains as the revelation of God’s moral will, it is different from the revelation of God’s saving will. We are called to love God and neighbor, but that is not the gospel. Christ need not have died on a cross for us to know that we should be better people. It is not that moral exhortations are wrong, but they do not have any power to bring about the kind of world that they command. These exhortations and directions may be good. If they come from the Word of God, they are in fact perfect. But they are not the gospel…"
I don't say we are listening to different people; maybe we are hearing different things. But if you say he isn't affirming what the Confession of Faith says, this sure sounds like a matter for the church courts.

Todd Pruitt said...

And it may be. I would refer you to the following link as expressing a justifiable concern:

http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/05/where-the-sanctification-contr.php

mozart said...

Thank you, Pastor Pruitt. Pastor Phillips had a good interchange with Dr. Scott Clark on this subject, found here: http://heidelblog.net/2014/05/berkhof-on-the-necessity-of-good-works/

TBR said...

The GRN is a pure Gospel-motive driven non-celebrity group and Tullian is just a charlatan who wants to be world famous. Pray tell!

Todd Pruitt said...

Huh?

Todd Pruitt said...

What, pray tell, is the GRN?

mozart said...

Todd, the GRN looks like it's something called the "Gospel Reformation Network," started by Rick Phillips for those of us in the PCA. Apparently they will give presentations at the same time as the GA this month.

Todd Pruitt said...

Gotcha. Just looked it up. That's an affinity group that I think has real merit. It seems to be denominationally affiliated which I believe will help mitigate against some of the challenges in the bigger tent movements.

Todd Pruitt said...

Oh, and I don't think Tullian is a charlatan. I think he is seriously mistaken on some issues connected to obedience and sanctification. And, as this post suggests I am concerned about the whole personality-centered movement thing.