Less than two weeks after he filed for divorce from his wife, Kim, about three weeks since he was deposed by the Presbyterian Church, and about two months since he resigned from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida due to an extramarital affair, Billy Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian, has landed a new job with Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida.
An announcement on the church's website welcomes Tchividjian as the church's new director of ministry development.
"We're so delighted to welcome Tullian Tchividjian to the staff of Willow Creek Church. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian is a best-selling author, having written seven books on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its liberating implications," states the announcement.
"Most recently, Tullian served as the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and founded Liberate, a ministry devoted to connecting God's inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world. He loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf. He's also a huge fan of both the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Heat," it adds.
Like Tchividjian, Labby is also a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary where he is also a doctoral student. He also counts his new staffer among the influential voices in his life.
"Some influential voices in Kevin's life include Martin Luther, John Calvin, Tim Keller, Steve Brown, Tullian Tchividjian, Nancy Pearcey, Steve Childers, R.C. Sproul, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Jerry Bridges, Francis Schaeffer, Robert Farrar Capon, Brennan Manning, Abraham Kuyper, Paul Tripp, and others," explains his profile on the church's website.
Last week Paul Tripp, who said he worked with Tchividjian and his wife for six months to salvage their marriage, said their divorce was necessary because it had been "irreparably broken" due to a lack of trust between the pair.
Tripp explained that Tchividjian, who resigned as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida in June, after confessing to an "inappropriate" relationship with another woman who was not his wife after finding out that she had also been cheating on him, tried hard to save the marriage but it didn't work out.
"Sadly, there are times in this broken world where things that have been damaged by sin don't get put together again. So, we groan, reminded that sin still lives inside us, that we live in a shattered world and that God's work of redemption is not yet complete. So, it has been with sadness that I, along with others, have come slowly and cautiously to the conclusion that his marriage is irreparably broken," said Tripp.
I have a feeling that Bill Hybels is having the worst day of his life today.— Kevin Labby ? (@PKLabby) September 2, 2015
On Aug. 11, about two weeks before Tchividjian filed for divorce, the South Florida Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America voted to depose or strip Tchividjian of his ordination credentials due to the turmoil in his personal life. This move prevents him from performing duties as a minister of the Gospel.
"While Pastor Tullian Tchividjian was deposed of his pastoral credentials, the South Florida Presbytery is committed to continuing to offer him pastoral care. Our goal in doing this is to both protect the integrity of the Church from which his credentials were given while, at the same time, wrapping Tullian in the grace offered by Jesus Christ to all those who confess sin, pursue repentance and desire restoration," the Presbytery noted in a statement on their decision.
While some have congratulated Tchividjian on his appointment, critics, like Tony Arsenal, a graduate of Bethel University and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, have been vocal about what they see as a disappointing move.
"It appears as though Tullian has not only joined another PCA church in the area, but is now listed as a staff member at Willow Creek Church. I cannot fathom a circumstance where the presbytery that was 'committed to continuing to offer him pastoral care' has advised or sanctioned him being on staff in a church two weeks to the day of having deposed him," wrote Arsenal on his blog.
He also urged the South Florida Presbytery to suspend Tchividjian from participating in the Lord's Supper and launch an investigation of Pastor Labby.
"It is clear that Tullian has not properly discerned the body of Christ in that he has clearly misunderstood or is intentionally disregarding the discipline of the South Florida Presbytery, and for his own protection he should no longer be allowed to participate in the Lord's Supper," wrote Arsenal.
"The senior pastor at Willow Creek Church should be investigated and examined for censure. He has disregarded his responsibility to abide by the decision of the presbytery in this matter, and has also disregarded his responsibility to shepherd and discipline those under his care. By allowing Tullian to obtain a ministry position, he has placed him in grave spiritual danger, and has set a precedent for a disregard for the God ordained discipline processes laid out in Scripture. Should the senior pastor be found to have ignored the process and does not rectify it, a vote should be held to remove his credentials as well," he argued.