Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition

artworks-000007527658-smjpzh-originalWhat we’re talking about here is not just our tendency to lurch and stumble and screw up by accident, our passive role as agents of entropy. It’s our active inclination to break stuff, “stuff” here including moods, promises, relationships we care about, and our own well-being and other people’s…

Francis Spufford

Dear Friends,

It’s been a much quieter week for me. Last week was loud and exhausting. And (other than Miami Heat games, Dallas Cowboy games, Ultra Music Festival, and the music in my car) I’m not a fan of either loud or exhausting. Not many are. So, I’m grateful that God has granted me a quieter week.

Still, the very public “break-up” between The Gospel Coalition and me weighs heavy on my heart. And I want to say just a few things about it now that I’ve had some time to reflect.

First, I want to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for saying things in my own defense. One of the things that the gospel frees you to do is to never have to bear the burden of defending yourself. 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. 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. I never want anything I say to be a distraction from the mind-blowing good news of the gospel and last week I did. I got in the way. 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…

Second, I want everyone to know just how much I absolutely love and adore my friend, Tim Keller. Tim is traveling but we’ve been in touch and are planning to talk this upcoming week. 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. I love him. He has been a mentor and older brother to me for a long time and both he and Kathy have been near and dear to Kim and me. 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.

Third (and finally), I want you to know that while Christians have differences on a wide variety of issues, I believe that the world is big enough and 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.

The saddest thing about all of this is that, because of the public visibility of those involved, this conflict gained a lot of attention. The reason this grieves me so deeply is because the Bible says God wants the way Christians love one another to be a visual model of the way God loves us. He 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. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). I’m guilty—we’re all guilty—of saying things and thinking things and doing things and failing to say, think and do things that exhibit the kind of treatment we’ve received in the person and work of Jesus—“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

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. This conflict has “given the world the justification they’re looking for to disbelieve the gospel”, and I am sorry for my contribution to this conflict. Thankfully, God’s grace covers all our sin. I’d be lost and hopeless without the rock solid assurance that, if we are in Christ, we can never ever out-sin the coverage of God’s forgiveness. That alone makes me want to sin less.

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.

I’m honored to be on “the same team” as Christians of all theological stripes and convictions. I love living in a “large tent” with lots of different kinds of people. In the meantime, however, please bear with us all as we grow and change together.

I love you guys. I really do. I am now and will forever be,

Sincerely Yours,

  • I am encouraged by this. This is humbling.

    • MarkO says:

      Indeed. Thank you Tullian. A wonderful example of being gripped by the grace of Jesus. You’re showing us that your “message”isn’t all talk.

      In my view there are at a couple of prominent bloggers who ALSO crossed the emotional line last week. I hope the Gospel works the same change in them. I was troubled by their harsh words.

  • Chad says:

    Beautiful response to last weeks drama. This type of response should be a template for all of us, as Pastors, theologians, and really all Christ-followers! I’m super encouraged by this post. Thank you for all you do Tullian!

    • Norma says:

      Yes I admire the honesty of Tulian. We all slip occasionally and we need the ability to ask for forgiveness when we do slip. We all have to grow as Christians. We must keep coming to the Lord for healing and for direction. My favorite verse tells me that “He will never leave me nor forsake me.” Praise His Name!

  • Daniel Balcombe says:

    I really appreciate this post and the sincere heart that it flows from. I, for one, was put off by the whole rigmarole of the past week and the pettiness shown on every side. Apologies like this go a long way in healing wounded hearts and reorienting the Christian heart on free forgiveness that has been bought for us in and required of us by Christ.

  • Mark T. says:

    Great job living out the powerful truth you are lifting up every day. What a refreshing response without any buts. To God be the glory!

  • Chris says:

    Well said, my brother.

  • Elyse Fitzpatrick says:

    This…this is what sanctification under the rubric of the grace of the gospel enables you to do. So thankful for your transparency, humility, and trust in Christ’s perfect righteousness declaring everything about you that needs to be said. Thank you!

    • Kara Chupp says:

      I echo everything Elyse wrote above…this was really encouraging…and after a few weeks of so much negative online (not at all just related to your “break up” ;) ) …this is such a needed reminder of how the Holy Spirit can work within each one of us and it gives me SUCH HOPE for ALL of us !!!

  • Ray Ortlund says:

    Way to go, friend.

  • Cody says:

    Well done. I thank God for the evidence of grace in your life through all of this. But I’m deeply concerned about your sportsological trajectory.

  • Jonathan says:

    One of the most encouraging things I’ve ever read. I’m thankful for you, Tullian.

  • Keenan says:

    Pastor Tullian,
    I really really appreciate your humility … something I need a large dose of!

  • James Dirksen says:

    That was awesome, it came fast, and is great example to hotheads (like me) who still (still!) spend way too many cycles in defense of myself.

  • Chris C says:

    Love the humility and honesty. So grateful for your heartfelt statement. It is so L I B E R A T I N G!

  • Dane says:

    Wonderful…! Thanks.

  • Bianca says:

    VERY encouraging! Thankful for the transparency and humility God is working in you!

  • Thank you, Tullian. First, for showing the Gospel of grace is real by transparently repenting. I do not rejoice in your sin, but I rejoice that you are pointing to Jesus’ perfect record covering ours–as you so often preach about–by living out what you preach and throwing yourself on his mercy and grace yet again. What could more encourage us to fight the good fight?

    Secondly, as my family faces conflict around us and is praying through how to go about our response, your humility here has encouraged me toward what end Jesus might have for us. So I thank you for that, too.

    Much love for you, brother!

    • FWIW, I don’t agree with how you were treated. But focusing on your role of repentance and trusting God to convict others of their sin against you also exemplifies Jesus’ grace-driven sanctification at work in you.

  • beth says:

    Last week, I found your response to TGC and interviews regarding TGC/SGM refreshing. Finally someone with a pedestal within the Christian world had courage to stand for what is right and call things like they are, I thought. Although only you and God know the state of your own heart, I was encouraged that someone was actually standing against the grain…even if it meant standing up against friends, colleagues and the social media world. I hope this apology post was aimed to apologize for what you know was in your heart towards your friend Tim Keller rather than a denouncement of your position that you have taken both theologically and within the SGM abuse case?

    • Melody says:

      I second that.

      • Taylor Jou says:

        I third that. I was thankful to see someone w/ the testicular fortitude stand up to those bullies–why apologize?!?! There’s no need to apologize after clearing the temple, speaking the truth, standing for what’s right, or defending the weak. I thought that’s what you DID. Was I wrong?

    • scottie says:

      I third that.

    • scottie says:

      i fourth that, then.

      • Mike Morrell says:

        I eighth this, brother. Please don’t back down from standing up for the voiceless and powerless. Dignifying the abused and speaking truth to power are not only the right things to do, but because an unbelieving world IS watching, these acts of integrity echo loudly.

        Blessings on you as you navigate speaking truth in love.

        • zooey111 says:

          Amen. I stand with Beth, Mike, Taylor, et al, in saying we felt it was a good and godly thing to do, to stand up for “the least of these”.
          Continued blessings as you stand up against those who would forget what Our Lord had to say about “offend[ing] against these little ones”. The powerless need strong voices. God bless you for yours.

    • J. Dean says:

      I concur with beth. To be certain, I know what you mean: even when we are right, we go about proclaiming it with the wrong motivation or wrong attitude, and I’m certainly as guilty of that as anybody else.

      But, that being said, you are not wrong in your stance, Pastor T. Don’t EVER back down from the law/gospel distinction. You have Luther, Calvin, Beza, Walther, and a host of other confessional church fathers that have your back on that. And most importantly, you have the Word of God.

    • Deb says:

      Whole-heartedly agree with the others who said thank you for being willing to stand up against the general acceptance of innocence among the leaders of the SGM abuse scandal. I too wondered where was the assurance that even if the leaders knew nothing of any of it, they would do all they could to help the victims and get to the bottom of it all regardless. Had that been the main statement of those involved I think the cause for concern on my part would be much less. I was greatly refreshed to see at least one person speaking out about that. So while I appreciate your heart in this apology, I do think you were right to speak up on the scandal. God bless you in your ministry!

  • Michelle says:

    This post brings joy and hope to my heart. Thank you so much for this. Bless you!

  • Jeff McCord says:

    Exemplary of a trophy of grace.

  • Satira says:

    This is the best thing I’ve read all day. Thank you Pastor Tullian for your honesty and transperancy.

  • You have no idea how this post put the winds of hope back in my sails today. Humility is counter intuitive and so beautiful.

  • Well done. Well said. Your example is a breath of fresh air. You made my day. Thank you!

  • Ellery says:

    If this is antinomianism, sign me up.

    As lines were being drawn between Liberate and The Gospel Coalition, this post brings much healing to many of us.

    Thanks for that.

  • Astonishingly hope-giving and humble, and honest and real. Thank you so very much.

  • David Willis says:

    Thanks Tullian, your post is a good reminder that good gospel fruit can come out of difficult circumstances, that sometimes we have to be pruned to bear more fruit. May God reveal more of His extravagant grace to you this week!!

  • Mike Whitesell says:

    Here’s to the big tent of the Gospel.

  • hmmm says:

    Don’t know anything about the gospel coalition and don’t know anything about Tulian. I just followed a Facebook post here.

    You Christians keep in-fighting and you’ll keep yourselves busy and out of the lives of non-believers. Well done.

    • Jo says:

      To “hmmmmm”…..if you know nothing about The Gospel Coalition and don’t know anything about Tullian, then WHY are you commenting. Clearly then, you know nothing about what this is speaking to. And even more clearly, you did not understand what was said in this particular piece. That is especially sad b/c it could totally change your life!

      • Jeff S. says:

        Jo, hmmm’s being sarcastic, but also making a valid point about our behavior as Christians. Unfortunately, we are unwilling to humble ourselves and recognize to what degree we have become impediments to the Good News we claim to offer.

  • Keith Sewell says:

    This makes much of Jesus.

  • kathy morse says:

    I’m still wishin’ the Michelle Obama pic was legit. :o)

  • Geoffrey dennis says:

    Grateful for your godly, humble example, brother!

  • Lynn E. says:

    Thank you for showing us what Grace enables us to do……grateful to God for your passion, spirit & love for the gospel. Blessings on you!!

  • Frank Emrich says:

    I love you brother, thank you for showing us Christ.

  • Paul Morris says:

    Speaking personally, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself, Tullian. While I certainly affirm the sinlessness of Jesus, it strikes me that there is no record of his apologizing for his sometimes vitriolic disagreements with the theologians of his day.

    I know. You are not Jesus, nor, for the record, neither am I.

    To be sure, in agreement with others who responded to this post, your comments were gracious and more than generous. And for that, you have my admiration and respect. I just wanted to strike a note for the legitimacy of being yourself. You are God’s man and you should find both integrity and comfort in that.

    Based on the material I’ve read about the incident, I am not sure if you were asked to leave the Gospel Coalition, or left on you own. Either way, I think it was a good move for you. Surely, there are a number of people who will take note of this incident, but probably not many. God speed.

  • Jack Miller says:

    Amen, Tullian… We should all endeavor to the apostle Paul’s calling card: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

  • Jon says:

    Thanks for sharing this apology… It is a display of unity, even in the aftermath of what took place last week.

    BUT I must share that I am appalled that you had to include a comment about the Dallas Cowboys… I will pray that you grow in wisdom and discernment so that you become a Niner fan!

    Seriously, thanks for sharing this, brother. The body of Christ is strengthened as we see God’s grace at work.

  • Michelle Filart says:

    Pastor Tullian, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this. Thank you for your humility and honesty and Godly example. This gives me so much hope and brings healing to my heart.

    Thank you for magnifying the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for magnifying His beautiful gospel of grace!

  • Joey Cochran says:

    Well said. Good form.

  • Kerri says:

    Love this!

  • Thank you for posting this. That takes guts that only God’s grace can provide. I respect you!


  • Personally this is totally refreshing. I’m so tired of the drama that goes on in our little reformed tribe. I get that there are disagreements but the whole “celebrity pastor smack down” explosion stories have got to stop at some point. Thankful for you and thankful to see some grace and humility on display Pastor Tullian!

  • Lasaro says:

    Oh, the grace of God to be humble; with the promise of more grace to the humble in Christ Jesus. Amen.

  • Thank you most of all for pointing us to Christ, whatever the rights and wrongs your humility is so encouraging. We will all have disagreements you have shown how to help heal them.

  • Susan says:

    Beautifully said, Tullian! God bless.

  • Paul Rasmussen says:

    Thank you Pastor T. Your teaching and that of Tim Keller’s, has been such a blessing to me and several of my friends. The recent dust up was troubling and I’m so grateful for your example of living out “The Gospel” Excellent response to a tough week which I hope will lead to simular attitude and response from some of our TGC brothers.

  • Aaron says:


  • B Morton says:

    I’ve witnessed ugly synodical battles when some players split theological hairs … trading ‘sanctified’ for ‘sanctimonious’. TGC was wrong, and you had to defend your position as you did nicely in the Pirate Christian Radio interview. You could have risen above the early emotional fray, and you are correctly revisiting that in this beautifully written piece. Thanks for seeking God’s peace by trying to douse the flames. It should be a learning experience for everyone. I hope to see some reciprocal apologies from other players.

  • Kathi Miles says:

    You said that the reason this grieves you is because God wants the way Christians love one another to be a visual model of the way God loves us, and that is exactly what they are seeing. Amazing grace how sweet
    the sound….


  • Steve Martin says:

    Way to go, Pastor T..

  • Greg Conover says:

    I have had the privilege of getting to know Tullian and his family and again I am moved by his words which reflect the grace of Christ . The deeper one gets into the Gospel, the more one repents because it reveals the deep sin in our lives…so these words don’t surprise me yet they humble me. Thank you for your open heart and showing us the freedom to be real.

  • Nick Rynerson says:

    To echo the crowd, thank you so much for this.

  • Brooks says:

    As long as we all recognize we are all trolling His Grace, this kind of confession/repentance will be easy.

    But when we make the Man from mere men, put up posters of pastors, and quote the quippers, we will have warring, factions, and death.

    Tullian, never be an idol.

  • Mom says:

    So proud of you honey !!
    And I love you dearly.

    • Dante says:

      Why would you be proud of T if everything is by grace? Pride is incompatible with grace. Thanksgiving for salvation is to God who is the gracious Savior. So too with confession of sin. We confess and turn from sin only because of God in his grace revealing sin to us and turning us from it.

  • This absolutely encouraged my soul. Good God thank you pastor T.

  • B Morton says:

    I suggest the sermon below by Tim Keller. Parts of it (start at 10 min) sound amazingly like Tullian’s message, but I don’t think Keller was called antinomian. I love Keller’s preaching and listen to his archive at least once a week. But the seeming double standard makes me wonder if there was any politics in this matter.

  • Deborah Ford says:

    Dear Pastor, Thank you so much for writing this. It gives me opportunity to say I am very sorry to all, about my cute little comment last week. Soon after I wrote it and I was broken to the core. Confessing to God then I visited with a dear friend and confessed the sin of my self righteousness to her. I told her as a mother of four children one thing I desire most is for my children to love one another. I said God wants the same thing. He delights in all His children. Even me in my mess. I see this situation did not cause me to sin but revealed the sin of my heart. God has done a wonderful work in us all. To Him be all the glory. May we all stand together as one body of Christ. Christ righteousness truly is our only righteousness.

  • Bee says:

    Why do you have the Deadmau5 – Raise your Weapon cover with this article? I’m confused.

  • Christopher Zodrow says:

    I am a bit nonplussed. Did anyone actually sin? Brother, it looks to me like you are apologising for being emotional, but is what you said regarding the actions of the men involved true? If it is, why apologise? Defending oneself is not a sin, Paul spent the better part of his letters to the Corinthians doing just that. We don’t need to bind our consciences to laws and rules that the Word does not. The Baptists truck in that sort of thing. Pietism be damned.

    It just seems like you took on a man-made institution and they bit back. Will there be some kind of apology from the TGC for their handling of the issue? They seem happy with your “repentance”, will they expect you to recant next?

    Yours in Christ,

    • Hugh McCann says:

      Hear, hear, Chris in Christ! May I add, T.T., this question: What specific sin[s] are you repenting of, precisely?

      What did you do that was publicly sinful?

  • Serving Kids in Japan says:

    Dear Pastor T.

    I’m glad to hear that you’re sensitive to the feelings of your colleagues, and to how our public behaviour can be perceived. Still, I don’t think you have very much to apologize for. Members of TCG have seriously mishandled many of their public dealings, and you were right to point that out. If Keller and others have been unfair to you, or have misrepresented you or your words to the press, you’re right to call them out. The command to “love one another” does not obviate our right to stand up for ourselves, or our duty to stand up for what’s right and true.

    Conflict is seldom pleasant or pretty, but it isn’t always wrong. Jesus knew that, and so did St. Paul. I hope that God will continue to bless you with His love and truth, and with a love for truth.

    • Hugh McCann says:

      Amen, ServingKids. Tullian, please, it sounds like you’re scared Tim’s mad at you for sounding off.
      Did Keller rebuke you and ask for a public apology? If not, were you moved by genuine repentance for genuine sin? If so, what was the sin?
      Did he or another show you that you’d sinned in what you said &/or how you said it?
      Your post here is vague and a bit obsequious, brother. Don’t let Keller’s PCA rock-star status intimidate you, or let the fear of man (even dear mentor-friends) keep you from speaking the truth in love. Please.

  • Bobby Brown says:

    You are so right when you say those of us who are free don’t need the acceptance of those who are not. Just for the record I also forget and respond to defend myself and to prove I am right. That is why we need the grace that is ours to go forward. The sins of us within the body of Christ are as real as those without. We all need a Savior. I love you buddy and am so grateful for your ministry. Let’s see where it goes from here.

  • Luis Monteon says:

    Thanks for sharing this P. Tullian.
    My regards from Tijuana, Baja California, México.

  • Dear my Mentor, Tullian
    You are the reason I love the gospel, and after what happened between you and TGC, I found myself under the yoke of defensiveness. Thanks for liberating me, thanks for relinquishing the right to be right. I love you, I love the gospel and I so much love the Lord Jesus Christ for his grace!
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  • JoeyZ says:

    Way to go, brother! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound indeed!

  • John Stauffer says:

    The Gospel is baby steps: Repent and Believe! We rest in the finished work. This we need to preach to each other over and over and over. On another note: I still hope the Eagles beat the Cowboys twice this year.

  • Caroline says:

    Public repentance as a Pastor is a minefield. Say too little, and people question where your heart really is. Say too much, and you can find yourself surrounded by a sea of self-righteous vultures, picked apart piece by piece, before you’re quite dead yet. Both ends of the spectrum are a gruesome thing to see. Thank you for walking the fine line in this post. Your humility is unmistakable, and yet your reliance on grace is unshakable. Thank you for choosing to “boast in your weakness”, as you clearly point to the fathomless grace of Christ. Your honesty in this post, and the position of your heart, remind me that there is no sin so deep that the grace of God is not deeper still. Blessings!

  • Brendt Wayne Waters says:

    “… I believe that the world is big enough and the harvest is ripe enough for well-meaning brothers and sisters to agree to disagree.”

    Once upon a time, this truth was embraced by a handful of leaders and they formed an organization called Together for the Gospel with this truth as one of its sturdiest pillars.

    See also: irony.

  • Bobby says:

    Thank you for your example and your humble response in the face of brutal and public criticism. It’s inspirational in dealing with my own desire to “protect” my character in the face of undue criticism.

  • Mark Mc says:

    I was deeply moved and encouraged by this. Thank you!

  • J. Wright says:

    Pastor Tullian….I follow you closely on twitter and cheer every time I see one of your posts about the Gospel and grace…in fact, I’ve retweeted many of them for my own followers to see. I don’t know much about your ministry or about any of the controversy, but I want to let you know that when I first heard of this controversy around you, my immediate thought was, “Of course there is going to be a controversy that attempts to discredit him. The rage Satan must feel against him for the life-changingly accurate and spirit filled messages he shares about grace and the true nature of the Gospel has got to be intense, and despite much criticism, Pastor Tullian still shares what God has shown to him to be true. The only way Satan will be able to derail these teachings and stop such powerful truth is to discredit the messenger and it has to be big and public.” I imagine you were in the middle of a great spiritual battle last week. Mistakes are made in battle, but that you’ve come through it to this point with such meekness is a testament to your closeness to Christ and the anointing of your words. This battle may be letting up, but so long as you preach the message of grace that Christ taught, Satan will continue to wage war against you. Stand strong. Continue to be humble to a fault. Preach the truth boldly, loudly and proud of a God that reached down to redeem His fallen children. Don’t let this small stumble take your eyes off the goal. If there were ever a time for you to continually be renewed by Almighty God, this is it. Stand strong. Have courage. Do not be afraid. And seek rest in Him.

  • Blair says:

    Thank you for this post. I was hurting and confused when I read about everything going on between you & TGC. I have grown so much over the years from both yours & Keller’s teachings. One of my favorite TGC articles of all time was your “Give Me Law or Give Me Death” from 2012 which I have cited many times over the years. I also live in NY and attend one of the Redeemer sites-which tells you my love for P. Keller. Needless to say, I was grieving the falling out in TGC. A friend of mine sent me the Mefferd interview and I honestly couldn’t get myself to listen to it (Driscoll incident, too fresh for me). Then – your Twitter photo/comment. I was so saddened by it all. I was definitely on your side with the S.G. opinion. But I couldn’t get on board with the way you were handling the public following the TGC fall-out. I wished I could just sit down with you over a cup of coffee and listen to you vent and in brotherly love, explain to you that I felt you needed to “step away from the mic”, so to speak, and to lovingly remind you of all those things you know (Scripture tells us to not repay evil for evil. We are told to let God avenge us when we are wronged, etc.). But this: “I never want anything I say to be a distraction from the mind-blowing good news of the gospel and last week I did. I got in the way. 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…” –thank you Tullian, for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s correction and embracing humility! I am so sincerely thankful and happy for all that you’ve said here. We are all so in need of constant grace, living with these sin-soaked, mortal minds which constantly fail us. I’m rejoicing for and with you.

    • scottie says:

      re: “….I felt you needed to “step away from the mic”…..”; “Scripture tells us to not repay evil for evil. We are told to let God avenge us when we are wronged”

      –quite frankly, when leaders and people of influence lie publicly (especially Christian ones, as amazing as that can be), it must be called out publicly. In plain terms, minus the sugar coating.

      or would you rather not know who is not trustworthy?

      • Blair says:

        Scottie, If you’re asking me personally—I would rather God do the avenging for those who have been wronged (including myself). He is better suited & more qualified to fight our battles for us than we are for ourselves.

        Tullian hit the nail on the head with, “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. ”

        All men are sinful. All men fail. The difference is that some repent & apologize while some make excuses cling to self-righteousness. That’s how you know who is trustworthy & who isn’t – by observing the person’s behavior (and how it reflects [or doesn’t] scripture). Ultimately a person’s trustworthiness is not found by listening to what one person said about another person.

        • scottie says:

          i suppose i am not talking about “avenging”. i am talking about more practical matters. Like people’s welfare, as impacted by the action/inaction of those with power and influence.

          Eventually, the consequences of actions/inactions of those with power and influence in Christian culture will reach “me” and “you” in our churches, in a chain of events sort of way. I marvel at how those with power and influence do not seem to realize this. They do not seem to see how the consequences of their pronouncements, actions, and inactions do not merely stop at the objectives they were intending to accomplish. The consequences almost take on a life of their own, as they meander down through hosts’ sphere of influence. The harm & destruction they sometimes cause is not always recovered from.

          “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” i truly hope we have not become immune to this oft-repeated maxim. God gave us a mind and a voice. The badge of authentic Christian does not require suppression of these.

          Yes, God is better qualified to fight our battles than we are. So, at what point do we stand still and do nothing, knowing that God is able to do it all?

          How many years of life destruction could have been avoided had people not silenced themselves when leaders did wrong?


    • carmen rosario says:

      Blair you spoke my heart. I’m praising the Lord for His amazing grace on all of His children. My heart was broken when I saw this fight among brothers. What hope does the world have if we believers in a loving and forgiving God use our time and talents to destroy each other’s image or ministry or name? These are all godly and wise men, called to tell the world of His loving sacrifice and willingness to die for His enemies…and they are killing each other for differences of opinion!!!! Satan will not rest until he destroys our unity in Christ. He will use our pride, our emotions, our longing for supremacy and power and control,our love for ourselves, our craving for being right and approved…and then this shameful fight happens. The world does not forget nor forgives. The gospel was damaged, Christ’s name was not glorified, His Church was hurt and divided…and a lost and needy and confused and exhausted world was watching. They will not forget.
      Let’s accept Pastor Tullian’s apology and start all over again. By His grace.

  • scottie says:

    Hi, Tullian. As I’ve already indicated in a reply above, leaders (especially Christian ones) have to be called out when they lie — for everyone’s sake. When the lie was public, it needs to be addressed publicly as well. It’s heinous…. egregious enough to warrant not only plain speaking minus the sugar-coating, but stark reprimand.

    Please tell me that Christians are not prohibited from publicly calling out wrong when it publicly happens. If they are, then this is one dangerous subculture.

  • […] Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition […]

  • John K. says:

    Very encouraging, and extremely helpful. Thanks for modeling for one who needed to see and hear this.

  • Rebecca says:

    In my own life, I’ve found the line between pride and humility to be SO fine as to be basically indistinguishable sometimes…It really is scary.

  • As someone who loves and respects both you and Tim Keller I am very thankful for this piece and to hear that there is not ill will between the two of you. We need more men like both of you.

  • Mindy says:

    As a former member of CLC (was there when you preached there a few years back), I have two perspectives of this response. First, I appreciate your humility and willingness to live out the grace you preach…because Jesus won formua we are free to lose. On another note I must confess that as I read this I felt the pain of those who have been harmed and had their lives destroyed as they once again saw someone who was advocating for them seem to cave under the pressure of the RBD (Reformed Big Dogs).

    Could you clarify your current thinking about what you are now thinking regarding how the men at TGC handled the SGM lawsuit situation?

  • Mark says:

    Thank you for this response. Though we disagree theologically, I can still call you my brother in Christ, and for that I am thankful. I only pray your “opponents” would accept your apology.

  • David says:

    I just spoke with my best friend this morning, the zealot. I’m the tax collector. 11 very different disciples who were brothers, who blew it, ruffled each other’s feathers, turned to Jesus, learned the art of repentance, and moved on, only to repeat the process all the while growing in grace. That’s some tension!

  • Ruth says:

    Pastor Tullian
    Thank you for this post. I just ‘discovered’ you in recent weeks and have been soaking up the whole Grace not Law concept. Then this ‘tiff’ began with you and TGC. It was confusing and distracting and a bit discouraging.
    You wrote this amazing, humble apology. And my heart melted. I see so much of my own idolatry in it. This is one post that I will read again and again when I see it surfacing in my life.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your messages. The truth you preach is transforming me.

  • Pete says:

    Strange Fire; strange bed-fellows (coalitions); strange controversies; strange apology; strange grace; strange sanctification; strange eclessiology; strange eascatology…

    It’s all quite strange isn’t it?

  • Ruth Graham says:

    I’m proud of you Tullian. This is good stuff!

    • Dante says:

      Why would you be proud of T if everything is by grace? Pride is incompatible with grace. Thanksgiving for salvation is to God who is the gracious Savior. So too with confession of sin. We confess and turn from sin only because of God in his grace revealing sin to us and turning us from it.

  • Tom Harding says:

    Hi Tullian! I greatly appreciate your approach in the sense that you’re seeking to protect the Church from being perceived as a bunch of fighting self-serving prima donnas; HOWEVER, what you said NEEDED to be said. My wife and I had been visiting a SGM church for quite a while, but finally decided to leave it due to the fear of the strong allegations at some point (possibly) proving to be true. We have a ministry among predominantly Hindu Indians and to be affiliated with a church organization like SGM were the charges to prove to be accurate at some level would be devastating to our ability to influence them for the Gospel. Yes, FOR THE GOSPEL’S sake, we walked away from it. I see what you sought to do (perhaps with taints of the sinfulness we all have) as WONDERFUL, COURAGEOUS, and NECESSARY. Just don’t let endless apologies become your new emotional, knee-jerk response!! Love to you and thank you for the influence you’ve had on me and others in my family via your writings.

  • Kara D says:

    I had just been “introduced” to you (and TGC) and your sermon series, The Glorious Impossibility, when the fallout went public. It was so huge, with so many words flying back and forth. And while it seemed defendable (to post and maybe reply to clear up some fallacies), it was very disheartening to see the level to which it all rose. A friend and I discussed and expressed our concern for you as well as the Christian community, and today we are all greatly encouraged by your post. Thank you for being open and honest and repentant for your part in this last weeks happenings. Our prayer is that TGC is able to do the same.

  • Vaclav Vasil says:

    This is powerful! Thank you Tullian! Oh, how we all who love Jesus Christ need the honesty and the humility which the gospel of the grace of God produces! God help me, and us all!

  • Jessie says:

    So, just when I thought I couldn’t love you more, you go and share something like this. What a beautifully stunning picture of the gospel of grace. I am and will continue to pray for you dear brother. I am so grateful for you, Pastor Tully, and your example of how to live out the gospel, and for helping me realize my desperate, daily need to hear it preached. That’s what I call you, by the way–hope you don’t mind. ;) I also have a DJ Tully Mix, but that’s a whole other story. But if we can just talk about EDM for a quick second, thanks for sharing some of your favorites! Many of those song lyrics have encouraged my heart in the truth of the gospel more than what is on Christian radio today, and just stir something deep within me–now I’m hooked. Peace to you, Jessie

  • Jim McNeely says:

    This is wonderful! This kind of confession is exactly the freedom the gospel allows. There are plenty of people way out on the west coast out here who love you dearly. Blessings and peace to you, and many prayers for the ministry of Liberate!

  • Richard UK says:

    What happens now might be even more momentous.

    Okay, quite possibly Tullian expressed his hurt in the immediate aftermath of his TGC expulsion. It’s certainly big of him, humble of him, to seek forgiveness for that.

    But there is more at stake than that and he still has to be man enough for that too. His stance against moralism – and there is a lot of moralism around – has been key in encouraging many who have felt alone, and almost driven by the near uniformity of other well-known ‘names’ into spiritual self-doubt, apathy and despair.

    Tullian has said he defended himself when attacked, but he had also been defending the gospel. He is now apologising, but is he not now in danger of trying to rehabilitate himself with his old friends?? Both the defending and the rehabilitating might be human emotions, while God is using him for something else?

    How many of Luther’s colleagues, and friends indeed, would have been coming up to him in his cloisters and cell and asked him not to rock the boat, to say the tent was big enough for all passengers (and indeed the Catholic church even had ‘sola fide’ supporters within it; we know of several of them).

    But Luther standing firm even with his personal abrasiveness has blessed billlions; Paul and Moses also both said that they would rather die than that their people should be lost. We are talking much bigger stakes than human views of Tullian, or even his own perception of God’s perception of him. Does God only use a ‘good’ man? It is no surprise that a prophet is not welcome in his original land (the TGC tent).

    If Tullian or Liberate lose their edge in their earlier stand against moralism, we will slide back into our previous morass and how long will we wait till some else raises the standard. I, for one, had relied on TT/Liberate’s material to show moralist Christians or (moralist) non-Christians, that this is NOT Christianity

    This recent debate has been about truth, and there must be a unity standing on the truth, not on a tent

  • Steve Martin says:

    Richard UK makes a good point.

    I went to read Russell Moore’s response to Tullian’s apology and wrote this to him ( which may, or may not be published):

    “Tullian understands that we do NOT “trust and obey”.

    But that our Lord knows this about us loves anyway. That’s the gospel.

    Trust and obey ought never be jettisoned. But that is ‘law language’. Meant to expose us…not to make us ‘better’ as the errant teachings of so many Evangelicals would have us believe.

    What cracks me up about the “trust and obey” crowd, is that it is always directed at others. They NEVER do it…just exhort others to it. They are, in that sense, like the Pharisees.”

    Russel Moore banned me from the SBC Voices site for just this sort of language. That goes a long way in revealing (to me anyway) just what we are dealing with in so many of these moralists.

    • Nix says:

      I’m not sure I understand Steve: Did Tullian not just repent for failing to TRUST and OBEY Christ? Is that not the basis for all repentance? This means at some level even Tullian realizes that Christians are called to aim their life toward obedience, and when we fail, we must repent. After all, why would I repent for disobeying if I’m not aiming for obedience in the first place? My repentance would be meaningless.

  • Pete Latona says:

    Great post Tullian

    Been through (we all have) same types of things in the Christian community. I wish I came back with the same words you just did. Guess you are saying you are human… Always love your heart and appreciate your “grace” message.

    Just a side note…. In house musings. I was trying to share with my beloved that you are now with Liberate… She thought it was some kind of a “liberal” site…. I said, not exactly. It’s a great name and always appreciate the theme you bring so clearly about our freedom in Jesus.

  • Jennifer L. says:

    Beautifully said. Heartfelt and transparent. This is what grace means. Thank you for teaching AND showing what it means to live under grace.

  • Malinda says:

    Pastor Tullian,

    Thank you for your beautifully written heartfelt post. It is such a blessing to see the FREEDOM the GOSPEL breathes into our lives in action. Have a wonderful weekend! You are so appreciated and loved.

  • Marlyn Staggs says:

    Understanding the Gospel more fully . . . what God in Christ has done for me. . . . The Great Exchange has set my heart on fire and only fueled my desire to live for Him and share His love with everyone around. (And, I no longer go to bed at night feeling condemnation when I fail) Thank you again for your clear messages . . . and Friday’s post showing humility and love for all.

  • Tom Hardy says:

    One of the things I have learned in life is that we can be 100% correct about something, yet react out of a wrong motive. So, if I am reading Tullian properly, this public apology is about that aspect and he is correct to do so.
    I can’t really comment on what caused this whole mess, so I would rather not say to much specifically on that matter. However, I noticed some on this blog talking about moralism.
    On that I can only say that personal holiness is an effect of our redemption and if it is not happening the person in question should examine themselves to make sure they are truly saved..

    • J. Dean says:

      “On that I can only say that personal holiness is an effect of our redemption and if it is not happening the person in question should examine themselves to make sure they are truly saved..”

      If you mean a general change in direction, I don’t dispute that. But I really have a problem with the term “personal holiness” because the best we can produce are (in the words of Augustine) “splendid vices.” We have a new nature, yes, but it is still sharing space with the old Adam.

      And you need to be VERY careful about self-examination, because it can be a step in the direction of works-righteousness. Our direction should always be to Christ and His objective work on the cross, period.

      • Tom Hardy says:

        J. Dean
        What I am referring to by that can be shown in 1John 2:1-6, especially verses 3-4.
        “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” NKJV
        Also 1John 5:1-5
        Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our[a] faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
        As I said in another post, I am not talking about perfectionism. I know all too well that we have remnants left over from our old nature. Never the less, those who are in Christ show fruit unto righteousness and if they don’t, it is an indication that something is wrong. As 1John 2:3-4 says: “3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

  • Steve Martin says:

    I guess you’ve examined yourself, Tom, and decided that you ‘are saved’, on the basis of what you see in yourself.

    This…is exactly what we, Tullian, and many more of us are fighting against.

    • Phil Hodson says:

      Steve, you are associating yourself with Tullian, and a grace centered faith which is against moralism, but you also seem to take a strong tone of condescension and of telling people what they should be ‘doing.’ Is not the gospel as you are professing it centered around proclaiming what is ‘done’? To me, humility, reconciliation, and conciliatory behavior go with the gospel, and obedience, which manifests as love and service, naturally flows forth from it. I think of the words of John the Baptist to the Pharisees, “bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” If that shoe fits, for you, then I’m posting here to say, ‘wear it.’ If you want to respond with a quip, and to resist that advice, of bearing fruit which is conciliatory, then those that ban you have had good instincts. If however you accept what I’ve said, then all my line-in-the-sand here is a vanishing vapor in the desert and we sir can share being one in Christ.

      • Steve Martin says:


        To those who wish to live by the law, and who wish to put that yoke upon others, also…we pour on the law. We pour it on them. For their own good. So that they might see their great need of a Savior.

        • Tom Hardy says:

          I have to admit when I saw your response to Phil and myself, my jaw dropped. I actually had to check myself before I started writing this, lest my motives be wrong.
          I need to say that I am not advocating is perfectionism. Everyone of us as Christians still sin and I thank my Lord for his grace and forgiveness when I do sin. (1John 1:9-10)
          What you have said is a total misrepresentation of what I and others are saying.
          What I said earlier can easily be proven from Scripture such as 1John 2:1-6, especially verses 3-4.
          “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” NKJV
          What you said actually reminds me of a time I attempted to lovingly correct a brother for swearing. He responded by swearing at me and told me I was living by the law. When I quoted the verses above, he actually told me I was using the quotes out of context.
          Now do not misunderstand me, I am not saying you would go that far, but I hope you get my point in using that experience.
          Sincerely Tom

          • Tom Hardy says:

            I need to make a small correction in my 2nd paragraph.
            I stated: ” I need to say that I am not advocating is perfectionism.”
            It should read “I need to say that I am not advocating perfectionism.”

  • Timothy says:

    Admirable, I only pray that I can display the same courage and grace when I am confronted with being less like Christ and more like the world. Truly humbling. Thank You.

  • Paula says:

    I saw you as taking a firm stand against child abuse and against the defending of people who brush it under the rug. Are you apologizing for that now ? I find this disappointing.

  • Steve Martin says:

    Oh brother.

    Don’t people know how to think, any more?

  • Sandra Garman says:

    Thank you for having the courage to humble yourself and give this godly response. This was a timely blog. It gave me the courage to humbly seek the forgiveness of someone else. This statement will stay with me for a long time. “One of the things that the gospel frees you to do is to never have to bear the burden of defending yourself.”

  • Joel says:

    The fact is that there are some serious problems that need to be exposed. I’ve read many of your comments on the matter and I think you’ve been more than restrained. The problems are much worse than people know. I’ve experienced this first hand on the congregational level, and your experience only confirms what is happening on a larger scale. Whether its issues of sanctification, impropriety, or __________________(fill in the blank), they have drawn the lines. Your refusal to concede to their boundaries is not mud slinging. Unity never comes at the expense of truth. And love does not compromise the truth to maintain unity. Your apology indicates a sincere heart is at the root of your response. Although I suspect some ‘polite’ response to your gesture, I can assure you that such an olive branch would never have been initiated from them. Sadly, many will take advantage of your apology and see this as a concession, or possibly an approval, of the issues you were hoping to expose and correct. We need to be careful not to confuse humility with timidity. All to often the issue is overlooked because people focus on the RESPONSE to the problem and not the problem itself. Your response has garnered a lot of attention. But those screaming “divisive” need to be honest enough to investigate and get to the root. You are called to fight the good fight and earnestly contend for the truth. It was Paul’s love for the Corinthians that motivated his rebuke.

  • […] to see all this. More than that, I cringed to see one more evangelical social media cagefight. But Tullian’s apology today is something we all can learn from, and ought to reflect […]

  • […] to see all this. More than that, I cringed to see one more evangelical social media cagefight. But Tullian’s apology today is something we all can learn from, and ought to reflect […]

  • […] to see all this. More than that, I cringed to see one more evangelical social media cagefight. But Tullian’s apology today is something we all can learn from, and ought to reflect […]

  • Brad says:

    It is wonderful to see a shepherd lead by modeling clear public confession to a brother. I am so full of pride that I don’t want to have to confess publicly. Thus I thank God often that He has made all my critics to be blessings to me. If I can renew my mind to consistently see all critics as answers to prayer, then my reactions to them will be thankfulness rather than hostility. This week I learned from a young Christian suffering physically an addition to my prayer, and now have begun to thank God that through Christ He strengthens me to be content no matter the circumstances He brings me–even in aggressive wrong criticism. I had forgotten the context of the famous verse and was glad to be reminded. Didn’t Tullian at Liberate exhort his hearers to give grace to those who don’t get grace? Let’s learn from Tullian’s failure and confession, and practice fixing our hope FULLY on the grace brought to us in the revelation of Christ. Then maybe, just maybe we will catch ourselves giving grace when criticized because we are thinking of God’s lavish grace.

  • Rachel says:

    Before one throws the baby out with the bathwater. . .read Russell Moores reply to Tullians’ s. apology. Many of u here are doing exactly what he said last week yet he is apologizing here for. Yes we are all not without sin and often need to ask forgiveness and that is what makes up beauty of the grace of the gospel. But apologies and giving or receiving forgiveness never seeks to attack the other brother/sister yet longs to move toward the other. We as believers at times will have to agree to disagree but we need to watch our own language in response to others apologies or those receiving etc.

    We can’t control thought s, words or actions of other people. God doesn’t hold us/you responsible for the ultimate outcome of a conflict; god will hold you/us responsible for our own thoughts, actions and words in the conflict.
    7 biblical steps to resolve conflict
    1.examine ourselves to see where we are being friendly with the world and walking in pride towards God and others and get the log out of our own eye. James 4:7-10.
    2. Free ourselves from sin , resist Satan by confessing repenting remorse and replacing sin through submission to Godly thoughts actions words and relationship patterns. James 4:7 to 10
    3. Go and show your brother his faults .Luke 17:3; Galatians6:1… speaking truth in love, serving your brother in his fault and giving them time to respond.
    4. Rest and wait on God to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
    5. As much as it depends on you be at peace with the person involved. Roman s12:18-21
    6. When the issue has been worked through cover it and move on. I Peter 4:8
    7. If the issue remains unsettled begin process of church discipline. Matthew 18:15-20.
    Asking ourselves. ……
    Are my words seasoned with grace or sin?
    Am I grumbling complaining slandering or gossiping?
    Are my words negative critical hurtful or destructive?
    Am I handling my responsibilities?
    Am I keeping my word?
    Am I exaggerating the truth?
    Am I respecting or rebelling against God given authority?
    Would I want some one to treat me the way i am treating this person?
    What desires am I preoccupied with and what am I doing to satisfy them?

    Am I with holding love?

    • scottie says:

      “Many of u here are doing exactly what he said last week yet he is apologizing here for…..But apologies and giving or receiving forgiveness never seeks to attack the other brother/sister yet longs to move toward the other”

      — not exactly sure what you’re referring to. I haven’t read anything resembling “attack”. but i get the feeling that being direct is somehow a no-no, and all communication must be couched in certain kinds of positive, sweet, and flowery words.

      this must be a cultural thing.

  • Rachel says:

    I Corinth ins 1:11 for I have been informed concerning you my brethren by chlies’ a people that there are quarrels among you. Now i mean this, that each one of you is saying I am of Paul” “I am of cephas” “I am of apollos” and “I of christ”. Has Christ. Been divided? …….
    JAMES 4 what is the source of quarrels among you? Is not the source your pleasure speaking that wage war in your members?…verse but He gives a greater grace. There for it says God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. ……verse 11 do not speak against one another brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother speak a against the law and judges the law: but if u judge the law you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one lawgiver and judge, the one who is able to save and destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?…..verse 17th therfore to one who knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin.
    Proverbs 20:3 keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, but any fool will quarrel.

    • carmen rosario says:

      Rachel, Thank you for quoting the Scriptures. God spoke! We must be silent. Pastor Tullian is confessing his sins publicly. It takes a lot to confess our sins!! Well, he has. It takes two to tango.
      We must forgive and move on. Let’s not live in fear of the Law nor become pharisees …but we must pursue holiness for HE IS WORTHY AND HE LOVED US ! We should live lives that bring Him joy and glory out of love and eternal gratitude!

  • Rachel says:

    Don’t mean last comment section to be harsh, I speak mainly as reminder to myself. Public confession of sin especially to each other as brothers and sisters in Christian is good and biblical. I do think there is a tendency then for temptation for us when something like this happens to sin ourselves by gossiping or slandering and judging our brother or sister to whom we are called to live and move towards each other in love and speaking truth in love with intent to serve each other.

  • […] his blog, Liberate, Tchividjian shares his “Reflections” on his exit from The Gospel […]

  • Steve Martin says:

    Russell Moore is a typical Southern Baptist. God bless him.

    But if I have one more preacher tell me to focus upon my obedience, I think I will eat a bug.

  • Craig B. says:

    This is nice and all, but I wish you — Tullian — would have just kept quiet to begin with. Apologies are great, but better not to be in a position where you need to ask forgiveness.

    • Steve Martin says:


      Maybe Martin Luther should have kept his mouth shut, too.

      Think of all the trouble that could have been avoided.

    • Wendy FC says:

      If you know anything of this, you will know that TGC published lies (or at least very strong misrepresentations) of what had happened regarding Tullian’s forced leaving. It was therefore only right that Tullian provide his side of the story or else we’d have only had their version of events.. To keep quiet would’ve left us all in the dark and thinking TGC had behaved honourable and Tullian dishonourably! All it needs for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. Tullian had an obligation to the christian world to put the record straight. God bless you Tullian for being an man of integrity AND humility. You probably stand alone in the ranks of the Reformed camp in being so (sadly).

  • Mark M says:

    Words of encouragement. Great to see a guy who can just step out of the tussle and say, “man I am messed up. And my emotions get so involved that I give in to them.” I love it. Take it from a guy who just found out about this whole stink two nights ago. You are not in the wrong on this biblical stance. Seriously, Look at this whole thing from our perspective. Finding a home of believers who take the law of God so seriously that they know even their attempts to keep the law are stained with ridiculous sin, is hard. Actually I’m not sure it exists. Unless of course Steve brown decides to start a church down the street from me. Ha ha. Wishful thinking. I swear it is always the accusation of “antinomianism” towards radical grace nut jobs like myself that blows my mind. If we actually thought we could keep The law, it really shows we don’t get how serious it is. Or how serious Grace is. Instead what we get every Sunday is an appeal to our flesh to work, try and somehow make a difference through our striving. Heck I can even find it in our book of church order vows. Anyway, I know this isn’t the time and place to hash this out, but I had to say it. This is a place of refuge for me.
    May God continue to fill you so much Tullian that the gospel stays un-impeded.

  • SelahLee says:

    The Sovereignty and GRACE of God must be recognized, accepted, applied and celebrated in all of this:
    1 Corinthians 11:18-19
    New Living Translation (NLT)
    “18 First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. 19 But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized!” Selah!

  • Jason Loh says:

    Dear Pastor Tullian,

    Keep up the good work!

    Our Saviour bless and keep you!

    From a Lutheran (and “Fordean”),
    Jason Loh

  • Folu Taiwo says:

    I read about Tullian the first time during this row, I couldn’t believe someone could talk so honestly and freely. I was like” sshhhh! You don’t talk like this” but I was amazed by his transparency that I began to follow up his ministry and in that short while I think I have listened online to most of his messages and even recommend it on my website, you’re an amazing person and talking like this now is not surprising to me, you ve got the capacity.

  • […] Tullian Tchividjian. Reflections On My “Break-Up” with the Gospel Coalition. […]

  • […] whom we look up to are imperfect and still being shaped by God. However, I was encouraged again by the apology that Pastor Tullian shared this week. Russell Moore does a good job of summarising the whole episode and adding a sprinkling of wisdom: […]

  • Steve Scott says:

    “My ‘breakup’ with the Gospel Coalition” can be re-stated as, “I kissed dating the Gospel Coalition Goodbye.”

  • […] Tullian Tchividjian. Reflections On My “Break-Up” with the Gospel Coalition. […]

  • Walter says:

    Thanks for this. I am delighted that you’ve chosen to ignore the debate challenge and the other taunts by Carl Trueman. Mark and Carl’s responses are so typical of what is often said of Reformed people – to wit: “you theology is right on, now if you could just do something about the arrogance and meanness”.

    I had suggested in a comment over that TGC that the best way to deal with this would be for you and Tim to sit down and just chat. Debates like the one being proposed end up as just guys talking past each other and who wants to put something like that on display, all while the world goes to hell and they don’t even know what the issues are.

    A response like yours above does far more to win arguments for grace and gospel sanctification than any debate or snide blog posts ever will. Thanks Tully!

  • […] the reflections shared by the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church pastor on his personal […]

  • Humble, gracious and refreshing. Tullian, the way you were treated made me sick to my stomach and I was down for days. I can only imagine your pain. And all this for preaching free grace.

    You continue to be an example to me. God bless.

  • […] I rarely have opportunity to read all that’s being conflicted on the internet, much less to comment on it, even when it is within my own ‘tribe’. So, though I can’t speak in any way to the actual content fueling the public breakup between Tullian Tchividjian and The Gospel Coalition, I can commend Tchividjian for his reflective and gracious public apology for some of what has happened. You can read that here. […]

  • (I also put this comment over on the liberate site. This post has two separate comment threads! It must have prayed the Prayer of Jabez. OK, I am sure no one got that.)

    Pastor Tullian,

    Thank you for this. As a fellow PCA pastor who has long defended the Law-Gospel distinction, I was also one of the ones who, via blog comments, publicly criticized your tone and defensiveness in the wake of this controversy as not living up to all that the Law-Gospel distinction is meant to work in us.

    But this post — a thing of beauty. The Law has humbled you — by showing you to what a high standard of godliness we are called to in the wake of being wronged (Matthew 5!) — and now you are embracing Gospel forgiveness and ethics once more in this tremendous public repentance and humility. The LORD bless you and keep you in this, as you continue to grow in His grace, navigating the very public waters in which He has placed you.

  • Did my first comment get deleted? If so–why?

  • […] I had about being in war with people who were on the “same team”, along with a recent blog post by Tullian […]

  • Steve Martin says:

    This is about people in the church believing that they must add, show, exhibit, something …anything…to prove that they are really serious about the Christian faith.

    Far too many (pastors included) at The Gospel Coalition, and in the church in general, believe that.

    Pastor T. does not believe that. And that’s what gets believers in hot water with other believers. The sole sufficiency of Christ alone…with NO add-ons.

  • […] great example of that in a recent blog post by Tullian Tchividjian on his public recent ‘break-up’ with the gospel coalition.  i don’t know too […]

  • JeffB says:

    I admire the candor of this post and the wisdom of what you say about grace. But Paul, in Ephesians, also wrote: “Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them.” (5:11) One thing you certainly do not need to apologize for (not that you have) is exposing the awful mess at Sovereign Grace Ministries to more people. You are one of the pitifully few Christian leaders to speak out forcefully against the apparent child molestations and cover-up of same that has occurred at some of the churches under their umbrella.

    I echo the concerns of some of the other commenters. Is love only shown when speaking in gentle tones, or do “works of darkness” sometimes necessitate shouting? I’m not talking about defending oneself, but defending genuinely helpless victims of evil.

    I am so tired of Christian leaders speaking publicly about how much they love, adore, admire, venerate, etc., other Christian leaders. Mr. Tchividjian, this is the same rhetoric used by C.J. Mahaney’s friends in the letters you so rightly criticized. Was Tim Keller so wounded by your saying that he was wrong about something that you feel you must praise him to the skies? It’s all part of this aura we place around Christian celebrities. And God forbid we call out our friends on something.

    I am in no way equating you with the adorers of Mahaney. They seem to have lost all perspective. And when they are criticized, they suddenly become preachers of “niceness.” I’m afraid that more and more believers are equating their faith with niceness. All things being equal, niceness is always to be preferred. But sometimes all things are not equal.

    • zooey111 says:

      Thank you, Jeff. I wanted to make it clear that really do not believe that Tullian had anything to apologize for.
      On the contrary, it is the TGC that needs to apologize–not to Tullian, who is, if I may say so, “big enough to take care of himself”.
      No! These people need to apologize to the victims of sexual abuse–and ALL abuse–who must, even now, be feeling great pain at those who call themselves “Christian” whilst ignoring the words of Christ when He spoke of those who “offend one of these little ones”, saying that they would be better off with a millstone ’round their necks, & “drowned in the uttermost depths of the sea”.

      And, Tullian, if a cranky old lady may correst you on something: You said that you “adore”: Tim Keller. NO ONE is deserving of adoration, unless He has the wound of a spear in His side, & the prints of the nails in His hands.
      Adoring a human being–any human being–is real idol worship!
      You remain in my prayers,

  • […] UPDATE:  Tullian Tchividjian reflects on his departure from TGC […]

  • “The saddest thing about all of this is that, because of the public visibility of those involved, this conflict gained a lot of attention. The reason this grieves me so deeply is because the Bible says God wants the way Christians love one another to be a visual model of the way God loves us. He 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.”

    Reconciliation can only happen when all parties involved acknowledge their sin, ask forgiveness, and repent. The church leaders who covered up the sexual abuse–where is their repentance? Sometimes loving like Jesus means fashioning a whip, turning over tables, and driving abusers out of the temple of God. Sometimes Christian love requires a Nathan rebuking a David crying, “You are the man!”

    For reactions from sexual abuse victims on your apology (in which there is not one word about these trampled people) see:

    • Walter says:


      Point taken. However as you know, Tullian’s own brother Boz has been in the thick of this struggle for the victims for years and as Tullian said on the radio broadcast, he and his brother stand back to back arm in arm for and with the victims.

      • Walter,

        Yes, you’re right. Not being a victim of sexual abuse myself, I didn’t have the same initial reaction to Tullian’s apology as is outlined in the blog post I linked to. And I do admire Tullian for publicly apologizing for where he believed his heart and actions to be wrong.

        Many victims of sexual abuse are abused twice: physically by the perpetrator and then spiritually by church leadership wanting to keep it hush, hush. Many of the victims see Tullian’s statement above as caving to keep up appearances of “the good ol’ boys club”. Personally, his statement doesn’t appear to be that way to me, for what it’s worth.

        • So… while Tullian’s apology didn’t come across to me as reneging on his statement regarding church leadership covering up sexual abuse, I’m coming to understand why it does to victims of sexual and spiritual abuse. From Barbara Roberts in the comment section of the post I linked above:

          “Tullian — are you listening? Did someone twist your arm behind your back and put mud in your ears?

          “And Tullian, if you are surprised about the intensity of outrage over your apology, then let me point out something to you. A Christian leader who publicly says something that promotes justice for victims of abuse, but then doesn’t put all his strength to the wheel, is going to cop LOTS of anger from victims. Why? Because victims are out there craving even a drop of water in the desert, and even drop of water from a well known leader seems like a whole gallon. Their hope rises. The anticipation of relief. The crushed desire rises from the ashes. And when the leader fails to deliver, or worse, backs down and betrays them, their outrage is extreme. And FULLY understandable.

          “We’ve given up long ago hoping for relief from the CJs, Pipers, Doug Phillipses of this world. But our hope rises from the sink hole when someone like Tullian says a word that takes up our cause.

          “So, be aware, all Christian leaders! There are no half measures in being victim-advocates. It’s all or nothing. That’s how God does it, and that’s how Christians should be doing it as well.”

        • Walter says:

          I am a victim.

          I think we need to see how this plays out – it takes time for things to play out – most of these guys have full time jobs with congregations of their own. Also the courtrooms are not through with all of this yet, either. God has already acted with one of the perpetrators – I’m not convinced that He is finished yet.

          I try to remember that if these guys (and girls – mine was a female) that do this stuff are or become believers then Jesus took all their sin and was already punished for it in their behalf just like He was for mine, if they don’t repent or become Christians, then God will do a far greater job at meeting out justice than I ever could. He’ll do it either now and here, or in eternity, or both. This way of thinking isn’t for everyone I realize, but it has helped me a lot.

          The other thing is, Tully isn’t the enemy here. The guys who did this and covered it up are the enemies.

          I think we are pretty much on the same page, I just didn’t know if you knew about the stuff that Boz has been doing.


          • Walter,

            Thanks so much for sharing your history and your reflections. I really appreciate it. I’m reminded of a friend’s blog post in which she had to come to grips with the same reality when a dear friend of hers was raped by three men. Either the perpetrators would be caught or they wouldn’t. Either way, they would suffer God’s vengeance for eternity … or they wouldn’t, if they were saved by His grace. Her writing on this subject is worth reading. We are all guilty and deserve eternal damnation, but God in His justice, grace, and mercy paid the price for us.

            The Day I Knew I, Too, Could Murder by Bronwyn Lea

          • Ryan says:


            Thank you so much for this comment. I am also a victim.

            To know that someone else has come to the realization that “Jesus took all their sin and was already punished for it on their behalf just like He was for mine. If they don’t repent or become Christians, then God will do a far greater job at meeting out justice than I ever could. He’ll do it either now and here, or in eternity, or both.”

            To know that someone else has come to that conclusion is incredibly reassuring and comforting. It helps me know that I’m not alone.

          • Cindy says:


            I’d like to think that none of us are enemies. If we are Christians, we are members of one another. We just are hopefully in a process of realizing that.

          • Walter, thank you for sharing. I too am a victim — of childhood sexual abuse and of domestic abuse. And I’ve closely supported a young girl who was sexually abused by her father.

            I agree with you that if they fail to repent, God will deliver justice to the abusers and those who enable them. And if they do repent, I shall rejoice to see them in heaven. And I also know that sometimes God delivers what looks like only partial justice to abusers in this life, but that partial will be made up in full at the End.

            Jesus bore God’s wrath for all sin on the cross, but those who do not repent and put their trust him Him will bear God’s wrath themselves. And wrath that is beyond my ability to imagine. I think if we could grasp the fullness and intensity of God’s wrath for sin, we would go crazy. I am so glad that Jesus died for my sin so I don’t have to bear it myself.

            But all that does not quench my longing to see vindication and justice now, not merely for me, not even primarily for me, but for all the other victims, especially the ones who are struggling under immense and unfair burdens of false guilt, spiritual abuse from ‘c’hurch leaders, and systemic abuse from institutions like dare I say it the Family Courts. (For those who don’t know, family courts sometimes take kids off the protective parent and give them either fully or in large measure to the abusive parent, and some of those abusers are pedophiles, serial philanderers, porn addicts and sexual perverts who do such horrid things I will not name them here.)

            I think it is natural and healthy for all victims and survivors of abuse to long for vindication and justice: —

            When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10 ESV)

  • […] Reflections On My Break-Up With The Gospel Coalition Now THAT’S sanctification! […]

  • […] reflections were equally significant and I found them to be a grand illustration of how believers in Christ […]

  • Ryan says:

    Thank you so much for this.

  • sir books a lot says:

    these posts are getting a bit heavier then when I last checked them out. I am not a victim, but I do feel his post has gotten a bit soft. we shouldn’t apologize to appease people or make people feel better or to even feel better about ourselves.
    we need to stand up for our beliefs – even if it offends people – as long as our beliefs remain biblical. there is nothing unbiblical about a little conflict. conflict or disagreement does not mean divisive.
    many people in our churches are becoming spineless.

  • […] past week, after some of the dust had settled Tullian wrote a new post called Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition. In this post you will find no dirt, no hidden backstory, and no final barrage. Instead, you will […]

  • StageWest says:

    Appreciate this!

  • […] Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition Tullian Tchividjian: “the very public “break-up” between The Gospel Coalition and me weighs heavy on my heart. And I want to say just a few things about it now that I’ve had some time to reflect.” […]

  • KK says:

    This article must be one of those with the most responses. Shows that a lot of people are still passionate about Christ and His gospel. Love all your comments. We will always err until the return of Christ.
    It is not that we will never do wrong but what we do about it afterwards that matters. For me Ps T here embodies all the qualities of a servant leader.
    Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
    Luke 13:4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
    And for those who persist in their sin and think they can keep it hidden
    “our Lord will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”
    Soli Deo Gloria.

  • […] of God’s forgiveness has broken through and this should be celebrated. Tullian Tchividjian issued a statement on this breakup between him and TGC, apologizing for defending himself and asking for forgiveness […]

  • Sara says:

    Tullian, I am a survivor. And when you spoke out about TGC’s handling of the SGM/Mahaney scandal, among other things, I was grateful that someone with TGC-ties was FINALLY willing to say something. And I was deeply grieved by Tim Keller’s position/stance with Don Carson, as Tim had always seemed, to me, a safer, more accessible voice within TGC. So I have two conflicting feelings now: One, I appreciate your willingness to humble yourself by acknowledging ways you feel you have failed, yet two, I despair that, once again, a needed voice (yours) is going silent — or seems to be. Victims and survivors need leaders within established communities, like TGC, to speak out on their behalf. Otherwise, it seems like everything is business as usual: the powerful protect their own, the powerless have nobody.

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the 180+ comments, just some of them. So perhaps what I’ve said above has already been said. Or not. I don’t know. I just know that I live in tension every single day because of what I’ve been through. And now I live in additional tension, knowing that those with the loudest voices don’t seem willing to use them on my behalf.

  • […] Given all that took place last week between Tullian Tchividjian and The Gospel Coalition, I though you would be interested in seeing Tullian’s reflections on what went on: […]

  • 1Cor. 2:2 says:

    Tullian, ty for your honesty and for holding to the sacred command found in scripture . John 13:34,35 .

  • […] and moved by some recent comments from Tullian Tchividjian in a recent apology he issued on his blog. Here’s a few […]

  • Pal Borzasi says:

    I already wrote to TT and to this blog (but I did not get reply) and now I am writing again: the expression of TT and others on this blog “Because Christ has won you are free to loose” seems to me quite libertarian. If it were expressed: “Because Christ has won, when you unfortunately loose you are free to get up and start all over again at any time” it would sound more biblical. To my knowledge, nobody is free to loose, because loosing in this sense involves sin, falling into sin, etc., and nobody is free to sin. I think TT – without his intention – promotes the notion that we are free to loose in a sense the Bible does not allow. We are free to get up, to start anew, whenever we loose and repent – because of the gospel of Christ and his victory. God bless.

  • […] Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition by Tullian Tchividjian […]

  • Pastor FedEx says:

    Pastor Tullian,

    Thank you for your gracious heart and your amazingly tempered and careful words through this difficult time. Even before this article, I considered your behavior through this entire episode to be exemplary, but now, I know that you are so much more self-aware and grace focused than I could have even believed. I pray that the relationships that have been damaged will be restored by Him who is in the business of restoring broken things. I pray that you keep blogging about the importance of the centrality of grace to the Gospel message and that this time only serves to further forge your ministry into what God has for you. Love you,

    Pastor FedEx

  • […] Tullian: I want you to know that while Christians have differences on a wide variety of issues, I believe that the world is big enough and 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. …I want people to know that, while there may be differences, we’re on the same team. […]

  • […] Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition | Tullian Tchividjian __________________ God allows us to struggle with sin our whole lives to convince us until our dying breath of our desperate need of the gospel." -John Newton […]

  • William,

    I won’t bother you with the particular circumstances that brought me to this site today, for the first time, as that would be uninteresting, perhaps even perplexing to readers, and is irrelevant in any case. I do what to say that this post is the most moving one that I’ve read on line in a very long time. My own pride and tendency towards self justification were laid bare before my own eyes as I read your apology, and I found myself apologizing with you for the many times I’ve allowed self justification to become more important than the love that should be the identifying mark of every Christian. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I’m going to make it my own Tullian resolution to do better, and I pray that I can sustain the humility to stick to it, the sort of humility that radiates from your own sincere regret.

    Sean Garrigan

  • Liz Levesque says:

    The only bummer is this. Once you say it and it’s out there you can’t take it back. No matter how much you apologize. Public opinion is formed. And in all honesty when you say something, even in anger, you mean it. You mean it somewhere inside yourself. Which leads us all to repentance. No one can say they didn’t mean it. The realization that you meant it and said it, that it was in your heart and mind, is sobering. A real bummer. Everyone needs more cleansing of heart and mind. It is times like this that remind us, “Lord, I need a change of heart and mind. I need more holiness. “

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