We're watching so many pastors and leaders in the church fall away and abandon godly living and sound doctrine.
Back in 2014 D. A. Carson wrote an article on TGC website about changes in the council members. It said that three of those men were stepping down for various reasons. It is worth noting the names: Tullian Tchvidjian, C. J. Mahaney, and Joshua Harris.
It is rather sad, frustrating and alarming to watch the trajectory of these men over the last few years since that time. One thing we all should remember is that the public face of things is seldom the real face. When you see shake ups and major changes in leadership and such there is usually more than meets the eye. Not necessarily bad but there is more there.
I came across the other day news that Joshua Harris, who was going to seminary now, is separating from his wife. His fame came through his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye; which recently he recanted and expressed sorrow over writing. He has a business consultant role now to help businesses make money.
Here is what he posted on IG:
“In recent years, some significant changes have taken place in both of us. It is with sincere love for one another and understanding of our unique story as a couple that we are moving forward with this decision. We hope to create a generous and supportive future for each other and for our three amazing children in the years ahead. Thank you for your understanding and for respecting our privacy during a difficult time.”
Here is an older quote of his: “True love isn’t expressed in passionately whispered words, an intimate kiss, or an embrace; before two people are married, love is expressed in self-control, patience, even words left unsaid.” ― Joshua Harris (Yeah, until something comes up and we decide it is loving to go our separate ways.)
Or, “Every relationship for a Christian is an opportunity to love another person like God has loved us. To lay down our desires and do what's in his or her best interest. To care for him or her even when there's nothing in it for us. To want that person's purity and holiness because it pleases God and protects him or her.” (Such good words that are devoid of any value now.)
So now places like “Friendly Atheist” are gleefully posting this tidbit of information.
C. J. Mahaney has been embroiled in all sorts of problems for the last several years.
There are real questions that exist with him and his time with SGM and Cov Life Church along with Harris. But it is such that we can’t know it all and I am content to leave it in God’s hands.
But when the problems were there, one thing that happened was that he left CLC and joined Mark Dever’s church. This was completely contrary to his position that when members of his church were being scrutinized that they not leave the church during that time.
He was a mentor of Mark Driscoll and several other celebrity pastors but has moved well into the background now. Which I think is good regardless.
Tullian Tchividjian is an incredibly terrible story. He took over as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian church, formally of D. James Kennedy. It's a mega church. He is Billy Graham's grandson.
Around 2015 or 16 it comes out that he is a serial adulterer. He is having affairs while publishing books like: One Way Love; Glorious Ruin; and Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Also a growing controversy over what was thought to be a mere theological mistake on what is commonly called hyper-grace. That controversy is what led to him backing away from TGC.
However, then we find his wife separating from him, then the adultery comes out, then another and another and another. He resigned as pastor of the church and comes on staff at Willow Creek in Illinois. Everyone is “celebrating” his recovery, but in reality he was having multiple affairs. He is fired from that.
Listen to his words he later wrote of this time: “First my marriage. Then my position at the church. And with those two losses came a thousand other losses. The loss of close friendships, the loss of financial stability, the loss of purpose, the loss of confidence in God’s goodness, the loss of hope, the loss of joy, the loss of opportunity, the loss of life as I knew it. Life went from feeling like a fairy tale to feeling like a violent tragedy.”
Notice it is all about him. His losses. His bad luck. His despair.
Not a word about loss of integrity. Not a word about adulteries upon adulteries.
Nope, life was just a bunch of tragedy.
On his personal webpage: “Tullian is a husband, a father, an author, a speaker, a sinner, and a saint who longs to see broken people encounter God's boundless love.”
What is missing from this? Oh yeah, serial liar and adulterer and teacher of licentiousness contrary to the clear teaching of scripture.
A whole “ministry” that is based upon unfaithfulness that somehow means “let’s celebrate grace!”
And now you can hire him to teach you about God’s boundless love for broken people for a certain amount of money. Don’t know how much, but his old speaking fee was 10-20 thousand.
Protected by a cadre of “spiritual leaders” for a long time as his abuse grew unabated. Finally the wheels came off the bus and away he went. Story after story comes out about his abusiveness and harsh leadership. The rise and fall of Mars Hill church is something to be studied by every person wanting to church plant.
Re-defined himself now in Arizona where he is now disavowing so many of his prior teaching. “Calvinism is garbage.” Shows a very bad grasp of historical theology. Trashes those who love Reformed theology and love to read the Reformers as people who have daddy issues. Blah, blah, blah. But not dealing with the core issues of his reputation.
This is a man who has plagiarized materials for his books.
Son of Walter Chantry; both are well-known pastors within the Reformed Baptist world.
Tom was pastoring in Milwaukee at Christ Reformed Baptist Church and was a rising star.
Has been convicted and awaiting sentencing for multiple counts of molestation. Just sentenced to 24 years with no parole.
All started to publicly fall apart in 2013 in church disciplining some leaders in a power struggle.
Also infamous for Elephant Room where supposedly celebrity pastors would gather to sharpen each other even though they were from diverse doctrinal positions.
Listen to some of the names: James MacDonald, Mark Driscol, Steven Furtick, David Platt, Matt Chandler, Greg Laurie, Perry Noble, T. D. Jakes.
David Platt is the only guy still standing with much respectability.
Perry Noble was fired for consistent drunkenness and now has divorced his wife. But has started a new church called Second Chance.
Furtick continues his downward spiral into every thing but sound doctrine.
T. D. Jakes is a heretic modalist.
When Voddie Bauchman publicly criticized the Elephant Room for inviting him he was punished. He showed up to speak at a men’s conference for MacDonald and was informed that he had been canceled and replaced.
Chandler is now playing around with Social Justice movement and becoming more woke every week.
Laurie continues down the road of ecumenism, inviting anyone and everyone who is a big name to be a part of his conference, The Gathering in 2016 and tipping his hat to Roman Catholics.
Remember that he and Driscoll were buddies and covered for each other. He was one of Driscoll’s support team of pastors supposedly helping him in his soul care. He later used church funds to support Driscoll in planting a new church in AZ to the sum of 50K.
Now we know that James was a man of great anger and used physical threats against others in the church. He was a liar and it appears that he has mismanaged funds in a major way.
He is gone now, fired and his radio show is gone and all sorts of legal issues are flowing. The church is in utter disarray and massive debt (35-40 million) remains.
The folly of celebrity pastors:
2012 T4G conference Carl Trueman basically rebuked everyone for the folly of celebrity pastors. All he really did was point out the obvious that faithfulness as a pastor is the key issue, not the perceived success. So at the end of Paul’s life he told Timothy to find simple, ordinary men who are in the church and are faithful, and teach them. NOT, go find some really charismatic guys who can draw in the people.
But somehow in 2012, and now, the same x number of guys are the ones speaking at the conferences. And it is worth noting that he has not been invited back to T4G as a speaker.
I personally get sick of hearing people talk about man crushes for some pastor. And I don’t think people realize also the massive, massive temptation that is before pastors to sign book deals and get on the conference circuit. And I think too many men planting churches are following the foolish belief that they need to create up a brand and push it.
What ever happened to just faithfully, quietly and consistently holding forth the gospel of Jesus Christ and a patient, pastoral exposition of the bible to God’s people?
"I hate to bang the same old drum that I always bang at this point, but lay people need to realize there is big money involved, and some of the high profile cases of guys who survive long after they should not have survived because they are no longer of good reputation, some of those cases connect to money. It’s as simple as that.
Every time I say that I get emails from people saying “Well, give me an example.”
Well, it’s hard, but just open your eyes, just open your eyes and look at the level at which some of these guys are living at. We’re not talking of huge millions and millions of dollars, but we’re talking of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In our world we are talking of significant sums of money that are attached to particular names that have become brands.
I assume that I will be totally ignored on this. I would remind listeners that pretty much everything I have said about the celebrity culture and evangelicalism, and pretty much everybody I have called out in the last decade, I’ve been proved to be right; even though you’ve all ignored me. That’s fine.
The whole big money “uber-conference” circuit depends upon big names and the pressure on the one hand to write blog posts about child abuse, and then to tweet stuff protecting people who have been pulled into those kind of scandals. That’s huge; it’s huge because it plays to the gallery on the one hand-that you look cared for and concerned; but when it comes down to what we call “brass tacks,” you’re really not doing the evangelical movement any favors at all.
I think the problem in a lot of evangelicalism now is the money has gotten so big from a lot of these peripheral organizations that they’ve become laws unto themselves, and the blowback on the child abuse thing is that names become too big. They do become indispensable to the economy of evangelicalism and that’s a problem, that’s a real problem.
That points to the optics of a lot of this as well. I’m tired of reading statements coming out from churches and organizations where there has been child abuse, where you get two or three lines of throat-clearing at the start, [stating that]
'We’re very sad that X, Y, and Z’s lives were totally ruined by sexual abuse that we should have taken steps to deal with,' and then you get thirty-six pages of how the devil is using this to destroy some good ministry or some good man’s ministry. The optics on this are absolutely abominable.
This has done incalculable damage to ordinary Christians, not only those who have been abused but those who quite frankly get sick of the cover-ups and sick of the self-serving rhetoric at the top. I can understand why people drift away from the Reformed faith on this score and that’s why I think the leaders need to take more responsibility, we’re not trying to score cheap points here, we’re trying to make the point that our faith is being damaged by the need to preserve certain organizations and certain ministries. That’s a problem!"
Carl Trueman, Mortification of Spin, April 19, 2016
There is a consistent call in the NT to watch over our souls and to not merely start well, but to finish well.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;" (Heb. 12:1-4 NAU)
"I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:23-10:1 NAU)
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9-10 NAU)
The office of pastor/teacher is a dangerous office.
The church so often ignores the heart of their pastors. And they do it sadly to their own harm though I think it is often in ignorance.
But it is noteworthy that Paul gives these words to Timothy: "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1 Tim. 4:16 NAU)
Notice that he seems to assume that no one else is really paying attention to Timothy and his life. This is something Timothy must do. And he puts the responsibility of doctrinal fidelity squarely upon the responsibility of Timothy.
Finally, if he perseveres in these two things then he will ensure salvation for himself and those who are under his care.
Can we just let that sink into our souls for a second and then fear for these men we just discussed and for ourselves?
But this also should be a plea to church members to pray and love their pastors. To watch over their souls.
"Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." (Heb. 13:7 NAU)
This is at the end of their lives. Consider Mark Driscoll who now mocks those of the Reformed faith who follow “old dead guys.”
Anyone can start well, but those who finish the race are not so common.
Be slow to lift up a man as your example.
Honor those men who have labored in the shadows while you talked about the awesome sermon you heard from the latest celebrity pastor.