And They’re Back! MacDonald and Tchividjian Restore Themselves To Ministry

Two men properly removed from ministry for the abuse of their pastoral offices and because of sexual sin, are going to leap back into the pulpit anyway.

“We have prayed to practice our biblical teaching on love and God has surely allowed us to be stretched. There is much we could say, as so much is not at all what has been portrayed. But we look to the Lord for forgiveness where I did fail as a leader and for vindication of false statements that will not cover forever what others have done.”

 

As I said yesterday, this week is full of all manner of little treats. Today let’s look at the completely un-astonishing and yet heartbreaking news that two people properly removed from ministry for the abuse of their pastoral offices and because of sexual sin, are going to leap back into the pulpit anyway, because of course they are, because what else are they going to do. Explains James MacDonald who has been out of the pulpit for what…fifteen minutes? If that:

“We have prayed to practice our biblical teaching on love and God has surely allowed us to be stretched. There is much we could say, as so much is not at all what has been portrayed. But we look to the Lord for forgiveness where I did fail as a leader and for vindication of false statements that will not cover forever what others have done,” he said.

Oh, I see, he prayed. #thoughtsandprayers I mean, I pray too and seriously, I am not getting what I want, which is for this person to retire completely from public life and devote himself to an obscure and quiet life in service to the poor. When he “looks to the Lord” “for forgiveness” do you think he’s looking very hard? Or does he have one eye closed? Because God forgives everyone who comes to him sincerely repenting of sin and clinging to the mercy of the cross, it’s the one prayer you can pray and he will always say yes—unlike all the prayers for more money and more people to hassle. But just because he forgives you—again, when you ask sincerely, with true faith and repentance, begging God not to weigh your merits and offenses, but pardoning you, because the burden of your sin is intolerable, and there is literally no health in you—it doesn’t mean you immediately get to go back to whatever it was that you were doing before, like, you know, when you were sinning. Oh, and he’s also praying for vindication, so yay!

“Our broadcast partners are our family now and we will be back soon w[ith] fresh messages from God’s Word. All free — all digital — all the time, as promised.”

Mmmhhhmmm. What a treat. Because there aren’t any other good resources out there. The internet is not literally stuffed with fresh messages from God’s word, all free, all-digital, all the time from people who haven’t made a scandal and a mockery of God’s holy church.

“Great days of triumph and victory always follow days of testing – we look forward to sharing with you in brand new ways – all the Lord has been teaching us and what His calling is for us,” MacDonald said.

Yeah, where is that? Where does it say that triumph and victory always follow testing? (And is MacDonald really suggesting that abusing the pastoral office is God’s testing?)  I’m racking my brain through all those tucked away Bible verses and I am not remembering where exactly it says that. Is he talking about heaven? The bit that I’m having trouble moving past is where Paul describes all the defeats and sorrows and beatings and discouragements and how it felt like God was trying to kill him but he held on anyway so that various people would be saved. I suppose Mr. MacDonald feels like that is what’s going on. Until he comes back to his pulpit, no one will know about “all the Lord has been teaching us and what His calling is for us.” But seriously, do we have to know? I wish we never had to know.

Ok, now on to the good stuff. That’s right, Tullian Tchividjian is starting a church. Yay!

Preacher Tullian Tchividjian told his congregation on a recent Sunday that he sees himself in a story from the Gospel of John.

Sure he does. That’s what the Bible is for—a cozy little place to find yourself. Not the divine revelation of a holy God who spent literally thousands of years trying to get you to think about him for a second rather than searching the text for yourself.

In the passage, Nathanael questions whether anything good can come out of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus Christ that may have had an immoral reputation in biblical times. Likening it to asking if light can come out of darkness, Tchividjian said he knows from personal experience that the answer is yes. “I am standing here today because in my darkest moments, God never stopped holding onto me,” Tchividjian said. A few cries of “Amen” answered him from the congregation of roughly 60-80 people at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is serving as a spot for worship before they can find a permanent home in the area.

So, I wasn’t there, obviously, and it sounds like maybe the reporter wasn’t that biblically literate, so maybe there was a lot of stuff lost in translation, as it were, but this sounds like maybe Mr. Tchividjian is having trouble with the whole light-dark metaphor in scripture. See–and I’m gonna speak slowly and clearly because I guess this is really hard–Jesus is the Light. We are in the dark. We have to come out of the dark into Jesus’s light. We don’t get to stay where we are. Does Mr. Tchividjian think he is the something good that’s come out of Nazareth? Man, I really do not want to look up this sermon and listen to it, but maybe I’m gonna have to. This is a mess.

Still, no matter the dubious exegesis, there is just that one little disqualifying problem that Mr. Tchividjian is going to carry around with him for the rest of his earthly life, which of course does not keep him out of the Kingdom of Heaven if he is truly repentant, but does make him particularly suitable for a quiet, obscure, unknown life serving the poor.

Across Christian denominations, it’s generally the professional and moral standard that clergy refrain from sexual contact with parishioners, said Nancy Duff, the Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary. “Typically one really would need to abide by, ‘You don’t have sexual relations with members of your congregation,’” Duff said. “It’s not wise. It’s not professional. There’s a difference in authority between the pastor and the parishioner.” Those relationships can too often destroy churches and lead to abuse, Duff said, though she added the propriety of the relationships can depend on a variety of factors, such as age and marital status.

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