Tullian Tchividjian Apologizes for 'Slipping,' Calls Tim Keller an 'Older Brother and Mentor,' Encourages Unity

( [email protected] ) May 30, 2014 05:25 PM EDT
Tullian Tchvidijian
The ''Jesus + Nothing = Everything'' author apologizes, calls for unity within the church (AP)

Last week, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian experienced a very public "break-up" from The Gospel Coalition. Now, Billy Graham's grandson is just as public in apologizing for his part in the issue, saying that while the experience "weighs heavy" on his heart, the other pastors at TGC are his brothers in Christ-and he loves them.

On his blog, Liberate, Tchividjian shares his "Reflections" on his exit from The Gospel Coalition.

After apologizing for speaking brashly in his own defense, Tchividjian confesses that he "slipped."

"Defending the gospel is one thing. But when a defense of the gospel becomes a defense of yourself, you've slipped back under "a yoke of slavery." I slipped last week," he writes. "When you feel the need to respond to criticism, it reveals how much you've built your identity on being right. I'm an idolater and that came out last week. Because Jesus won for you, you're free to lose...and last week I fought to win. I'm sorry you had to see that. Lord have mercy..."

Tchividjian, who is the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, recently made headlines when he left The Gospel Coalition, where he was a top contributor. At the time, he cited both theological and personal reasons, saying the organization's "original message" had "morphed" while his "goal in every post" was to "preach the radicality of the Gospel of grace." Tchividjian also expressed anger that TGC had removed his blog posts with little warning.

Following his exit, TGC founders D.A. Carson and Tim Keller released a statement saying the organization removed Tchividjian's blog posts due to their questionable theology concerning sanctification. In addition, Pastor Kevin DeYoung wrote a response highlighting the importance of theology as part of worship.

Regardless of past conflicts, the "Jesus +Nothing=Everything" author says he "absolutely love and adores" Tim Keller, calling him an older brother and mentor.

"We are both committed to one another and the friendship we've enjoyed for many years. There are few people on this planet that I hold in higher esteem than Tim. He knows that," Tchividjian writes. "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'm really sorry about that. Please forgive me."

While Tchividjian admits his theology diverges from other members of TGC, he writes that "the harvest is ripe enough for well-meaning brothers and sisters to agree to disagree."

"The world desperately needs to see Christians standing side by side and back to back, loving one another. And last week I found myself standing face to face with some Christians in a posture of non-love. I'm really sorry about that. As both Liberate and The Gospel Coalition move forward I want people to know that, while there may be differences, we're on the same team.

Tchividjian says he is sorrowful for the "public visibility" the conflict received, as it "gives the world justification they're looking for to disbelieve the gospel." More importantly, he says conflict within the Church is a violation of God's commandment to love one another and be a visual model of Christ's love for the Church.

"[God] wants us, in other words, to live our lives together in such a way that we demonstrate the good news of reconciliation before the watching world. He wants us to be loving and patient and forbearing and deferential to each other," he writes, citing Ephesians 4:32, which states, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

He concludes: "So, whenever you see any of us who claim to be "Christ followers" behaving in a manner that is unlike Jesus, please forgive us. And please let that be a reflection on us, and not on Him. As imperfect people, we will continue to let you down and disappoint you, but Jesus will never let you down-he will never disappoint you, leave you, or forsake you."