Former preacher and grandson of the late great evangelist Billy Graham is set to take the pulpit once again, just a few years after being embroiled in a career-ending cheating scandal.
Tullian Tchividjian, 47, recently launched a new community of faith in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, called “The Sanctuary.” On its new website, the church states that its mission is “to be a church where God’s boundless love meets a broken world.”
“As we prepare to launch in the fall, we are currently meeting every Sunday morning at 10:30,” reads the short blurb. “Feel free to join us and to bring a friend.”
In July of 2015, Tullian resigned from the post of senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida after admitting an extramarital affair. He was then hired by Willow Creek in Winter Springs, Florida, before being fired after disclosing another previous affair. Since then, the preacher has been posting regularly on Twitter, addressing subjects of grace, forgiveness and the problem of sin.
“You are not defined by your worst moments,” the preacher tweeted recently. “You are not defined by your greatest accomplishments. You are not defined by what others think of you OR what you think about yourself. You are not defined by what you do or fail to do. You are defined by what God has done for you.”
You are not defined by your worst moments. You are not defined by your greatest accomplishments. You are not defined by what others think of you OR what you think about yourself. You are not defined by what you do or fail to do. You are defined by what God has done for you.— Tullian Tchividjian (@TullianT) July 31, 2019
Still, despite his supposed posture of repentance, many have expressed that Tchividjian should not be looking to head up a church just a few years after two instances of infidelity saw him be stripped of his preaching license. Many have pointed out that Tullian has yet to formally repent of his indiscretions.
“After an extramarital affair & getting defrocked by So Florida Presbytery, Billy Graham's grandson @TullianT is back & planting a church in South Florida,” tweeted investigative journalist Julie Roys. “No apology for sexual misconduct & pastoral abuse, just denials.”
After an extramarital affair & getting defrocked by So Florida Presbytery, Billy Graham's grandson @TullianT is back & planting a church in South Florida. No apology for sexual misconduct & pastoral abuse, just denials. #badcelebritypastorsalwayscomeback https://t.co/dQlD9wkNRl— Julie Roys (@reachjulieroys) August 18, 2019
“Some people think that I should just shut up and crawl in a cave and never come out because I’m not qualified to be leading spiritually in any way because of everything that I went through and everything that I did,” the ex-pastor told the Palm Beach Post. “Other people champion it because they go, ‘It’s about time that churches are led by people who know what it feels like to, you know, fall on their face and be in the gutter.’”
At the end of his sermon this past Sunday, Tullian personally addressed his failings from a few years back.
“I screwed up, and people got hurt because of me,” he said. “It is like it happened yesterday when I sat my children down in my living room and told them what I had done. I will never forget the ways in which I hurt them… the way I betrayed my first wife.”
Tullian said that he still deals with “a level of guilt and shame and regret,” arising from his past sins.
“I don’t think it will ever fully go away,” he explained. “It’s probably a gift to me honestly, because it keeps me dependent on God and makes me realize afresh that His grace is undeserved.”
Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.