There goes Tullian Tchividjian under the bus! I can certainly wish that Greenbaggins would be one blog above cheapshots about some sort of, maybe, kind of connection between Tullian’s fall and his doctrine of sanctification. Lane Keister, after all, knows well what it’s like to go into the lion’s den and get utterly smeared by the PCA’s liberals. I hate to say it, but I think Lane has taken the line of poor taste and used Tullian’s personal flop as a chance to write off his views on sanctification. We get all we need from Lane’s piece– which is nothing. He doesn’t try to demonstrate a causal link between Tullian’s views and his affair because there isn’t one. It’s all very confusing and sad when a minister (especially a prominent one) falls into sin. But at another level it’s rather simple. Tullian certainly knows just as much as his critics that having an affair is wrong. He blew it. Do we really want to go this way? I mean, is every ministerial scandal an occasion for the poor chump’s ideological opponents to say “See, I told you so!”? Well somebody could bring up Mark Driscoll but the Mars Hill debacle is really about a long string of unforced errors.

Lane ought to remember that this same thing played out after Jason Stellman shocked his supporters and gratified his enemies by joining the false church of Rome. Failures like those of Tullian and Stellman just confirm that they were flawed men fighting for a good cause. It’s sad that their theology has to get the blame for their personal failures. We are witnessing that popular fallacy– the circumstantial ad hominem– in all it’s glory. Those of us who want to challenge burgeoning legalism in Reformed circles can’t give up before one of the classic cheapshots. We certainly have a lesson to learn here. Not the platitudes like “But for the grace of God go I” but rather “Vain is the help of man.” We feel the blow of Stellman’s sell-out and Tullian’s scandal just so far as we’ve bought into the folly that the justness of our cause depends on the spotless reputation of our point men. We might as well give in and join the legalists if outward appearance matters so much to us. After all, those who think they can stand before God in their own works are the masters of hypocrisy, the gurus of appearance. But that’s not what we stand for. We know man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart and in that way we know we have to stand in Christ or fall in our works.

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So I was looking around on the web trying to figure out the Tullian Tchividjian controversy. Basically he was under accusation of taking the Law-Gospel distinction too far toward the error of antinomianism. The news says that he was asked to hurry up and move on with a ministry initiative called Liberate. The upshot is that the Presbyterian grandson of Billy Graham has taken his clout elsewhere and the The Gospel Coalition is free of a resident trouble maker. I get the sense that Tchividjian as a mega-church, ministry empire type guy is simply too busy to respond to all the doctrinal heavy hitters that have been challenging him to a debate. I’m curious to see where the controversy goes because the matters of Law/Gospel, the Law in the Christian life, sanctification, assurance and grace are fascinating in their own right. But the potential pitfalls are serious.

Some would say that antinomianism is the error besetting the church. If only that were true. It’s important that we get it right because confusion on either side, whether Law or Gospel, is possible. The confessional heritage of the Reformed churches shows that the Law has a place in the Christian life beyond just showing us our sin and need of a Savior. On the other hand, I’ve heard preaching in Reformed churches that takes the dialectical route (theology by balancing two equally ultimate truths). The results are confusing at best. You’ll just have to take the preacher’s word for it that he affirms justification by faith alone. That’s hard to swallow coming from someone who says that your salvation depends on what you do, period, and that those who show forth Christ in the Old Testament are in error.

The latest “antinomian” controversy calls this blogger, at least, to patiently and diligently attend to the Bible. One resource for making sense of the flourishing debate comes from a wise pastor. When we’re talking about Law and Gospel, we need clarity about whether we’re thinking of Law as a covenant or as a principle. Scripture certainly speaks highly of the Law as a guide for life but we’re warned against marrying ourselves to the Mosaic Covenant rather than to Christ. Now that’s food for thought!