Zahl’s article makes the following contention:
“I would go so far as to say that Tullian’s personal experience, as bad as you want to make it out, has qualified him (and qualified him brilliantly!) to preach the Gospel.”
As bad as we want to make it out or as bad as the facts show the case to be? His Presbytery defrocked him. We are not making out anything to be bad but acknowledging the action of the church, which said it was really bad.
Later Zahl says,
“The affirmation of this website is that the world needs Tullian…”
So the article, without actually quoting the Bible, but instead three songs and an episode of the Twilight Zone, argues that Tullian’s personal website is public because “the world needs Tullian.” Honestly, I would be hugely embarrassed if a friend said on my personal website that the world needs me.
Since some are fond of quoting lyrics, let me get by “With a Little Help From My [Facebook] Friends”.
Zahl writes: “This is because everything Tullian thought he had, and everything he thought he was, got pulverized. Everything on which he had prided himself got pulverized. Tullian got turned to dust.”
Notice the passive voice? He was the one doing the pulverizing to others. Let’s be clear about that.
We can also look at Zahl’s article and come away with an almost shocking revelation, namely, that sin is actually a resume enhancement, not a resume killer. The Scriptures go to great lengths to speak about the personal piety of pastors. But for Zahl, Tullian is more qualified to preach the gospel, not because of his piety but because of his impiety. This sort of biblical ethic is extremely dangerous, and I would say that Zahl needs to repent for even hinting at this idea.
Let us sin that grace may abound! We will be better preachers (“qualified brilliantly”) when we’ve preyed upon married women, destroyed families, and caused pain to our flock. Think about that for a minute.
Does the world need Tullian, as Zahl suggests? I thought the whole point of the Liberate movement was that the world needs Jesus. Funny how that happens.
Zahl adds, “What the world needs now is the pulverized residue of a life forcibly taken, in the school of hardest knocks both self-inflicted and imposed by the world.”
As one of my (more intelligent) Facebook friend says, “For Pete’s sake, there are children who grow up in brothels!”
There are ministers who really have been harmed by the world (e.g., beaten for their faith) and know how to effectively minister to others. They are gifts to the church. They, of course, are images of our Savior who was truly pulverized by the world. For the sake of the Church, Tullian needs to shut up, not make a comeback. He needs to live a quiet, godly life. But this type of brown-nosing, virtue-signaling, Scripture-denying madness from Zahl is an attack upon Christ’s bride and also an attack upon Tullian.
I have a question for not only Zahl, but also for those who want to defend Tullian and welcome him back into the ministry. Do you really feel, after all he has done that 1 Timothy 3:2-7 can ever be true of him?
“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,  not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
I doubt very much that Tullian will ever now be well thought of by outsiders. Tullian committed adultery (at least) twice, hid them both, threw his wife under the bus for separating from him when she discovered the second affair, wangled a job with some naive pastors while being stripped of his credentials by his presbytery, then fled accountability when his original affair became public, got remarried when he has no biblical grounds to do so, and now apparently seeks reinstatement to the office of elder (i.e., wants to preach). But all this time Zahl was intimately involved in Tullian’s life and now has the effrontery to write this post? If Zahl was a true friend of Tullian, he would be faithful to Tullian’s soul. He would quit the sycophancy and repent for making it sound like the church needs Tullian when in fact it is Tullian who needs the church.
I wonder, based on the “About Tullian” at his website, whether Tullian has sufficiently understood this: “After a season of self-destruction leading up to, and following, his resignation from Coral Ridge in June 2015, Tullian is now married to Stacie, and together they have five children and one grandchild.” I don’t think “resignation” is the proper word, Tullian. And I don’t think it was merely “Self-destruction” but also “other people destruction.”
Perhaps the scariest thing about Zahl’s article isn’t even the suggestion that Tullian should be preaching again. Rather, it is the implicit idea that there’s something insufficient about Jesus because, well, he didn’t rob banks, kill people, and commit adultery. If Tullian is “qualified brilliantly” because of his sins, what does that mean for the one who was tempted in every way that we are yet without sin?
Tullian needs grace. He needs forgiveness. I trust he has received it. But just as we need to be emphatic that there is forgiveness for all who repent, we also need to be emphatic that sin has consequences. One such consequence of Tullian’s action is that he should never preach from a pulpit again. But that’s okay. The world needs Jesus and the men he has appointed, through the church, to be faithful heralds of the mysteries of the gospel of grace.
The Rev. Dr. Mark Jones (PhD, Leiden Universiteit) has been the Minister at Faith Vancouver since 2007. He is also Research Associate in the Faculty of Theology at University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. Dr. Jones is the author of several books, including his most recent, Knowing Christ.
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