Protestant Pastors Must Resign If They Make the Cross Too Big Which Begs the Question…
Tullian Tchividjian is a good example of Protestant pastors who must resign when their “Glorious Ruin” becomes too ruinous. Tchividjian recently wrote a post on a website devoted to pastors who got caught with both hands in the cookie jar.
Apparently, the only logical conclusion to be drawn from the post is that while Tullian was a “celebrity pastor” he was not free until he got caught. Hence, thousands of Protestants were following after a man who by his own estimation was in bondage.
He also wrote a very popular book titled, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” According to his own testimony in the post, during the time that thousands, perhaps millions were falling all over each other to follow him he had everything, but only now is free since he has lost it all because he got caught.
And as the purpose of expastor.com unfolds so does a very familiar pattern: most of these guys are restored to the ministry. Is this over the top or what? Tullian is all but telling people outright that he duped them, but like all of these guys, they get back into ministry by waving the magic Grace wand. Seriously, the word “grace” seems to put Christians en masse into some kind of catatonic trance. However, what it really boils down to is authority as truth. Since God does not make mistakes, and his past celebrity status confirms that he was originally God’s anointed, the fix is in.
But it begs a question that we will ask soon. By his own testimony, Tullian confesses that he preached the following gospel for years:
I never pretended to have it all together. In fact, one of the reasons people listened to my sermons and read my books and came out to hear me speak when I was traveling is because I was honest about my brokenness and the amazing grace of God that covers us at our worst. I was known for saying that God loves bad people because bad people are all that there are. So I knew I was bad. I just didn’t know I was THAT bad.
The truth is, though, that we are very good lawyers when it comes to our own mistakes, but very good judges when it comes to the mistakes of others. As one of my counselors told me early on, circumstances don’t create the condition of the heart. Rather, circumstances reveal the condition of the heart. And what was revealed to me about my heart in the fiery hotness of dire circumstances was scary and destructive.
This brings us to the illustration we often use here at TANC Ministries to explain the Protestant gospel. This is a Reformed illustration, not one formulated by this ministry. Note the primary role of the believer; sin-sniffing and “finding the sin under the sin.”
Tullian’s case in the post goes like this:
How did I get to this point of total desperation? How did I arrive at that dark place where I actually wanted to kill myself?
What I see now that I couldn’t see then is that this explosion had been building for a few years. The shift from locating my identity in the message of the Gospel to locating my identity in my success as a messenger of the Gospel was slow and subtle. It came on like the slow creep of the tide rather than a sudden tidal wave. I painfully learned that the more you anchor your identity and sense of worth in something or someone smaller than God, the more pain you will experience when you lose it all.
My confidence was severely misplaced: Confidence in status, reputation, power and position, the way I spoke, the praise I received, financial security and success. In other words, confidence in things that were smaller than God and his grace—confidence in things that were unstable and fleeting and easily taken away. Because I had existentially located my significance in things smaller than God, my loss did not simply usher in grief and pain and shame and regret. It ushered in a severe identity crisis. Without these things and people that I had come to depend on to make me feel like I mattered, I no longer knew who I was. I felt dead. Therefore, I might as well be dead.
In other words, he stopped focusing on the downward trajectory that makes the cross bigger and people smaller. According to him, fame did this, but note who he subtly blames for that; his followers who showered him with cash and praise—it’s their fault. Look, Protestants fall for this every time.
But now we get to our question. At what point in the downward trajectory is a pastor disqualified? While making the cross bigger, does he invariably disqualify himself? And, is the question really whether or not he acts on what he sees? So, in other words, it’s ok if this stuff is in his heart but he doesn’t act on what he sees in his heart? By the way, the Bible states that it is impossible to not act on what is in our heart unless we repent and take action against it. But wouldn’t that make the cross smaller?
Is all this ridiculous much? It begs yet another question: Is there anything goofier than a Protestant?
— Paul M. Dohse (@PaulMDohse) October 27, 2016