On Tullian, TGC, and Our Lives in Christ

Discussions continue around the departure of Tullian Tchividjian’s presence from The Gospel Coalition website. The reason stated by TGC involved a significant disagreement over sanctification (broadly defined as a a divine-human operation prompted, enabled, and ultimately completed by God the Holy Spirit). TGC states:

In Tullian’s case, it was obvious to observers that for some time there has been an increasingly strident debate going on around the issue of sanctification. The differences were doctrinal and probably even more matters of pastoral practice and wisdom. Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity. Earlier in the year our executive director spent two days with Tullian in Florida. Coming out of that meeting, it was decided that Tullian would move his blog. Finally the Council at its meeting last week decided that Tullian should move his blog immediately, and we communicated this conclusion to Tullian.

Tullian’s reflections were equally significant and I found them to be a grand illustration of how believers in Christ should behave when such important issues come between us. Scot McKnight has posted some good responses here and here, which should be carefully read and considered (follow the links there for details).

All of this reminded me of a presentation I gave to a Men’s Retreat for a Vineyard Church back in 2005. I believe that what I said then is still relevant to this discussion and the presentation title, as I see it, says it all. In a word, it will always be the case that “our strength, his power” attends our growth in Christ. Paul captures this notion when he writes to the Colossians.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Col 1:28-29

In my presentation I said four things around sanctification and then unpacked each one from Scripture. For the full presentation script, see my “Our Strength, His Power.”

  1. Sanctification is not entirely monergistic (involving one agent only) but synergistic (involving two or more agents).
  2. Behind every New Testament imperative (i.e., command) is the assumption that God’s Spirit is present in us to empower our will to act.
  3. It is God who directly performs his work of sanctification in us by empowering our response to his promptings.
  4. There are not two classes of Christians, one “spiritual” and the other “carnal.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *