Dear Pastor Tullian…(or, my emotional response to your apology for your emotional response)

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Congratulations Pastor Tullian, you just fell into one of the favorite traps of abusers everywhere: “Let’s make the whistleblower the problem!”

**You said, “I’m sorry for saying things in my own defense.”

Last time I checked, some people lied about you, gossiped about you, and oh by the way, they systematically covered over an abuse scandal in the church because, you know, “Buddy System.”

The entire reason for Christians defending the Fatherless and the Widow was, as I understand Scripture, because these are people who can’t stand up for themselves. Where is the Biblical mandate against speaking in your own defense? The Bible says not to resist an evil person. We are never, ever commanded to turn our other cheek against a brother or sister in the Lord.

 

**You said, “I’m an emotional guy. And in my highly charged emotional state, I said some things in haste, both publicly and privately, that I regret.”

First of all, since when are emotions bad? God got angry when the Israelites did nasty things, like sacrificing their children and all that stuff. Jesus got angry when he saw money changers in the temple, and when the leper knelt before him wondering if Jesus would be “willing” to make him clean. I always thought Jesus was ticked off at how the weakest of His people were being treated by their leaders. I honestly thought YOU were reacting in that same anger. What’s wrong with that?

 

The site “A Cry For Justice” identifies this as “flat-affect theology,” the belief that any time a believer shows anger that he just must be wrong. Sorry. It’s not true. It’s not Biblical. Yet anger is used in our church culture as some sort of spiritual thermometer that says, “Oh gee, when I’m this angry, I must be in sin.” How exactly should we feel when we’re lied about, gossiped about, systemically cast out, and oh yeah, kids are abused? It think anger is appropriate here.

 

Secondly, what exactly did you “regret”? What are you actually apologizing for? Did someone really lie about you, or was it just a big misunderstanding? Did the TGC gurus really collude to kick you out, or was it an administrative hiccup that led to the problem? Is it still impossible for you to imagine that CJ Mahaney didn’t know about the SGM abuse victims, or do you now have new information? You can’t just bring an argument to the public like that, then say, “Whoopsie, I was wrong, sorry, peaceloveJesus,” and not explain yourself. At least, not without seriously damaging your credibility.

 

**You said: “I absolutely love and adore my friend, Tim Keller.” and “ The thought that I said anything at all that would hurt Tim or call anything about him into question makes me both sad and sick. “

 

I don’t care how much you adore Tim Keller, et al, because it has nothing to do with whether or not Keller lied about you in his public statement. Love may cover over a multitude of sins, but misplaced love leads to abusers being allowed to continue their behavior because “We all know he’s REALLY a good guy.”

 

Please. Gag me.

 

Even Darth Vader had the love of Padme. And of Luke. But he still, you know, cut off Luke’s hand and turned him over to the Emperor. This was before he claimed to “convert” back to the fictional “good side.” Keller and the TGC guys are ALREADY supposed to be Christian believers! You SHOULD be angry when they screw up this royally, and you SHOULD call them out publically if they don’t respond to private confrontation.

 

Oh yeah, that’s the part of Matthew 18 that everyone forgets–verse 17: If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

 

**You said, “The late Francis Schaeffer once noted that bitter divisions among Christians give the world the justification they’re looking for to disbelieve the gospel. But when reconciliation, peacemaking, and unity are on display inside the church, that becomes a powerful witness to this fractured world.”

 

Did you know that the late Francis Schaeffer’s son wrote a book claiming that the late Francis Schaeffer was physically abusive towards his wife? I mean, how could an abuser use the Bible to shut down legitimate confrontation?

 

Finally, and you can cross-check my next statement with your brother Boz on this: you just played the cards that every abuser wants you to play. You confronted someone with their sin, they wouldn’t repent, you tried to bring it into the light, and they MADE YOU THE PROBLEM. Your anger. Your divisiveness. Your disunity. Never mind the fact that the whole source of your anger, divisiveness, and disunity is
their behavior, you just need to fix your heart.

So, when you fix your heart, do they ever fix their behavior? After all, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” What does their behavior say about thecondition of their heart?

This part feels personal, because bringing my family’s abuse to light was always my problem. It’s my fault that my mother is depressed, (“She misses you so much!”) and my father drinks, (“He misses you so much!”) and my nephew doesn’t get to have an “Aunt Taylor” around. I was always told that I should have a forgiving spirit, that I should be “Christ-like,” that I should forget the past, and move on. I was always told about the holidays that were forever changed, the family reunions that were so awkward (because everyone’s like, “Where’s Taylor”) and the fact that my kids won’t know their grandparents.

 

Oddly enough, NO ONE ever thought to say, “Maybe your parents should stop being abusive…? Maybe they should get treatment for their drug addictions and paranoid delusions…? Maybe you should make sure they don’t hit your kids, or drive your kids anywhere while they’re drunk, or get killed because a parent let an addicted boyfriend or girlfriend into the home?”

 

Of course, none of this behavior has changed. Nope. It was all about MY heart. My forgiveness. Apparently, being Christ-like means being so submissive that I’d be willing to let my dad drive drunk with me and my six month old baby (happened!) and I should just not rock the boat.

 

What do you think will do more damage to the unbelieving world? Watching a pastor disagree with those in power, and fight for justice? Or watching one more pastor sweep injustice under the rug?

 

Pastor Tullian, please have the testicular fortitude to be angry in a Christ-like manner, to stand up against bullies who wrongly use the Bible as a 2×4, and to rock the boat. For the sake of all of us, don’t set an example that allows people to continue to abuse their positions of power. Yes, you’re free to fail. But you’re not free to cover abuses and call it Christian love.

 

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13 thoughts on “Dear Pastor Tullian…(or, my emotional response to your apology for your emotional response)

  1. “Finally, and you can cross-check my next statement with your brother Boz on this: you just played the cards that every abuser wants you to play. You confronted someone with their sin, they wouldn’t repent, you tried to bring it into the light, and they MADE YOU THE PROBLEM. Your anger. Your divisiveness. Your disunity. Never mind the fact that the whole source of your anger, divisiveness, and disunity is
    their behavior, you just need to fix your heart. ”

    Bingo

  2. “Pastor Tullian, please have the testicular fortitude to be angry in a Christ-like manner, to stand up against bullies who wrongly use the Bible as a 2×4, and to rock the boat. For the sake of all of us, don’t set an example that allows people to continue to abuse their positions of power.”

    Woohoo! Great comment!

  3. ‘I was always told… that I should be “Christ-like”‘

    I was fed this line too. I responded with agreement and reminded those who wanted to ignore the abuse that Christ used force to clear the temple, and called the religious leaders of his day ‘sons of hell’. Strangely enough, I was never told to be ‘Christ-like’ again…

  4. Taylor Joy, it was a joy to read your post!
    I do hope Tullian reads it.

    Tullian, if you are reading here, may I offer you my thoughts and compassion?

    Is it possible, Tullian, that you second guessed your initial reaction and unwisely apologised when there was no need to do so? As I understand it, TGC peremptorily ousted your blog from their site and Tim Keller, Don Carson and Justin Taylor put a false (lying) interpretation on what happened when the Exec Director of TCG visited and consulted with you, at your request and expense, in Florida.

    Second guessing our reactions is very typical behavior for for Christians who have been mistreated by other so-called Christians. We have sensitive consciences, we examine our hearts and our conduct frequently because we want not to sin, we want to please God and be godly in our conduct towards others. And we are so well taught by the vanilla Christian culture that ‘being godly’ precludes being angry about injustice, being angry about the crafty making of lies, the cunning portrayal of falsehood by subtle spin, by stating partial facts of a matter in such a way as to deceive the hearers. I believe that is what Keller, Carson and Taylor did in their pronouncement about your blog being disconnnected from TGC. And I believe your first reaction was quite reasonable and required no apology.

    If you felt that your choice or words or tone in denouncing the henchmen at TGC was less than godly, it would have been quite possible to apologise for your tone without apologising for maintaining the truth of the matter.

    Bless you, and I for one will hope and trust that you will learn from this. Learn to stand and not back down when you should be standing for the truth.
    “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:13)

    And 2 Cor. 10:5-6 also has bearing on your situation, I think:

    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

    That ‘disobedience’ can even be one’s falsely frightened conscience which has been ill-taught by the shallow churchianity which equates Christianity with *being nice*.

      • I gotta second that one–honestly, that is so well thought-out, & very true from my experience, that it may be more helpful than any pointing out of Tullian’s inconsistencies that I could do. ❤ You just have a knack for putting your finger on the pulse of an issue, Barbara!!!

  5. Great post, Taylor Joy!!

    And Tullian, if you read this, let me tell you right now, that you were right the first time. There is no need to apologize for what you said. You were badly treated, & we are supposed to feel bad when people mistreat us.
    They did, you were, & they didn’t have an apology due them.

  6. “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

    But with modern political correctness you probably treat pagans and taxcollectors better than good Christians anyway, so that won’t work.

    • Wait, are you saying I’m politically correct, or mistreating good Christians? I’m sorry, Baby Agape kept me up half the night, so I may totally be missing your intentions…?

  7. Pingback: The Advice an Abused Woman Received At My Church. | Explorations in Egalitarianism

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