Hope Begins When This Irrationality Ends

Tullian Tchividjian, who is the grandson of Billy Graham and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, the church previously pastored by James Kennedy, appeared on  MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Before I give you his comments, I want to assert that I do not believe Billy Graham should in any way be held responsible for the views expressed by his grandson. When I consider the strong positions taken by Franklin Graham, and the price he has paid for doing so, I must conclude that the views expressed by Tullian Tchividjian do not find their source with Billy Graham, but must have roots elsewhere. I mentioned that he is Billy Graham’s grandson only because this fact provides him a platform he would not have otherwise.

These were his comments to the panel on Morning Joe:

Over the course of the last 20 or 30 years, evangelicalism, specifically their association with the religious right and conservative politics, has done more damage to the brand of Christianity than just about anything else.

That’s not to say that Christian people don’t have opinions on social issues and we shouldn’t speak those opinions, but Sunday morning from behind the pulpit is not the place.

It’s not so much religion in the public sphere as much as religion in the pulpit, behind the pulpit, that’s my primary concern. As a preacher, my job when I stand up on Sunday mornings to preach, is not first and foremost to address social ills or social problems or try to find social solutions. My job is to diagnose people’s problems and then announce God’s solution to their problems.

My struggle with Tchividjian’s comments is not his position per se, but the irrationality that must go into drawing such conclusions. We can identify countless ways in which these comments lack logic. Here are a few:

  • When he says, “My job is to diagnose people’s problems and then announce God’s solution to their problems,” I think of the couple with the bakery who have been ruined occupationally and financially because they did not compromise their biblical beliefs by baking a cake for a homosexual wedding. I would think that this and similar scenarios relating to different businesses would represent an ongoing concern for every business owner in his congregation. They must live under the cloud of a deep concern that some homosexual might target them and their business as a means of propagating their agenda which apparently includes destroying Christians that do not agree with it. Because this is a social issue, does Tchividjian somehow think that it should not be addressed? I’m baffled by the logic.
  • With Brendan Eich being forced out of Mozilla because he had made a contribution a number of years earlier to California Proposition 8, which supported traditional marriage, wouldn’t that give concern to every Christian person working in a corporation? Doesn’t that make virtually all Christians potential targets for this type of gay bigotry? If the creator of JavaScript was defenseless against this kind of assault, are not most business people in the corporate world vulnerable? How does Tchividjian somehow exclude that issue from the concerns of his people?
  • In the face of anti-police rhetoric and related murders, if Tchividjian has law enforcement people in his congregation, and with a church the size of Coral Ridge he must, how does he conclude that this is not an issue of concern for them? Beyond that, how could hostility against law enforcement personnel, whom all of us depend on to protect us, not be a concern for his whole congregation?
  • Consider the firing this Tuesday of Kelvin Cochran, the Atlanta Fire Chief, because he self-published a 160 page book several years ago in which half of a page included a biblical perspective on homosexuality. If a fire chief can be dismissed for expressing his beliefs as part of his personal life, no Christian government employee is safe. With Tchividjian’s ban of addressing social issues from the pulpit, how does he minister to people living under this threat? Does he feel no obligation to advise his congregation on a biblical approach to dealing with this issue?
  • When he says, “My job is to diagnose people’s problems and then announce God’s solution to their problems,” I would wonder if in his mind unborn and being born and having been born babies are people, and if so does he think that abortion might be a problem for them? On what basis does he exclude their problem from his pulpit ministry?

The question here is how does one somehow draw a circle around social problems and conclude that they are of no concern to his people and therefore should not be addressed from the pulpit? However, the deeper problem is that since it is difficult to imagine any rational basis for his position, this leaves us to conclude that he has replaced rationality with political correctness as his basis for ministry.

Though this position represents an insult to James Kennedy, who committed a major part of his ministry to doing what Tchividjian says should not be done, I’m sure Tchividjian’s position was met with approval by the Morning Joe panel. If his goal is to please them, I’m confident he is a success.

For evangelical Christianity to provide a source of hope for America, politically correct preachers must be replaced by those willing to preach from a biblical and rational position.

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