Billy Graham's Grandson Leaves The Gospel Coalition, Cites CJ Mahaney Controversy

( [email protected] ) May 21, 2014 07:30 PM EDT
Tullian Tchividjian has announced his departure from The Gospel Coalition due to the website's "morphing" mission. The Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church pastor says he hopes to focus his efforts on a new website which will "spread the radicality of God's grace."
Tullian Tchividjian (Vimeo)

Popular author and speaker Tullian Tchividjian announced earlier this week that he would depart as a top contributor for the evangelical website The Gospel Coalition.

In a post titled, "I've Come to Set the Captives Free," Tullian, who is the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, wrote that the "the messaging of The Gospel Coalition has morphed over the last seven years" into something he feels is no longer consistent with their original mission: "to be a hallway where Christians from all denominational backgrounds who may disagree on non-essentials could gather and rally around the Good News."

Tchividjian stated that he will instead be focusing his efforts on his own ministry, Liberate, which he describes as connecting "God's inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world." He reportedly informed TGC editors that he intended to move all of his blog content to his new site.

But his exit has been anything but pretty.

Although Tchividjian hoped to remain at TGC until August, he was informed that "certain members of The Gospel Coalition wanted the transition to happen ASAP."

"I was disappointed and a bit confused. We would've loved to have had more time to get things ready on our end," he wrote.

While somewhat blindsided, Tchividjian admitted to the Christian Post that tensions had been forming between himself and several of the other members on the board due to the controversy surrounding Sovereign Grace Ministries' founder, C.J. Mahaney.

Last year, Mahaney and several other ministry leaders were hit with a civil lawsuit alleging that the organization plotted to "permit sexual deviants to have unfettered access to children for purposes of predation and to obstruct justice by covering up ongoing past predation."

While the lawsuit was thrown out due to statute of limitations, many of those connected to TGC considered Mahaney a friend and claimed that he had "been the object of libel and even a Javert-like obsession by some."

However, Tchividjian, whose brother, Boz , is the founder of Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment, a group that investigates sexual abuse in churches and ministries, disagreed with his colleagues. He believes, given that Mahaney's brother-in-law and fellow former pastor at Covenant Life Church had confessed to knowing about sex abuse claims and withholding that information from police last week, the SGM pastor was guilty.

"Give me a break. These people, they're family. Of course he knew," Tchividjian told The Christian Post. "C. J. was, for many years, the micro-managing head of the organization and nothing happened under the umbrella of Sovereign Grace that he wasn't made aware of, so for anyone to say, 'Well he didn't know,' that's totally naive."

Tchividjian added that he was "pretty disturbed" when Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor published a statement on TGC website in May 2013 which defended Mahaney, saying that it looked "like the good-old boys club covering their own."

"I thought it was premature. I thought it was insensitive. I communicated with the guys who wrote this statement that I was disappointed, that I thought it was unwise and premature and that they needed to clarify that their statement was not a statement from The Gospel Coalition, per se, but was their own personal statement," Tchividjian explained.

"There were some of us on the coalition, or who were associated with it, who didn't want to be associated with their defense of C. J.," he continued. "I've just been sort of disgusted by the whole thing."

In addition, Tchividjian expressed frustration that although he was aware some staff members at TCG had issues with the theology of his content, no one ever confronted him to discuss any of his posts.

"To me, it's somewhat disconcerting that 'Jesus plus nothing equals everything' is much more controversial in some Evangelical circles than 'Jesus plus something equals everything,'" said Tchividjian. "I've been widely known as talking about grace without 'buts or brakes,' that God's grace is much more radical than anything we could ever imagine and that we could never over-exaggerate it."

The pastor hopes his new website will revive the original message of the Gospel Coalition, which he says is simply to "preach the radicality of the Gospel of Grace."