On Conflict, Defending Yourself, and the Gospel

A few weeks ago, Tullian Tchividjian—grandson of Billy Graham and pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church—removed his blog from the website of The Gospel Coalition—the fellowship of churches founded by D.A. Carson and Tim Keller. This led to plenty of speculation by nosy observers, trying to surmise the “real” reasons for this break-up. It also lead to a few accusatory blog posts from both sides, each trying to set the record straight.

This past week, after some of the dust had settled Tullian wrote a new post called Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition. In this post you will find no dirt, no hidden backstory, and no final barrage. Instead, you will find a heart-felt apology for the way he handled the situation. Here’s a few quotes from the post, but I encourage you to read the whole thing here.

First, I want to say that I’m sorry. I’m sorry for saying things in my own defense. One of the things that the gospel frees you to do is to never have to bear the burden of defending yourself. Defending the gospel is one thing. But when a defense of the gospel becomes a defense of yourself, you’ve slipped back under “a yoke of slavery.” I slipped last week.

Third (and finally), I want you to know that while Christians have differences on a wide variety of issues, I believe that the world is big enough and the harvest is ripe enough for well-meaning brothers and sisters to agree to disagree.

Having been involved in ministry settings where deep, unity-breaking conflict has taken place, I know how un-Christian we can be in our behavior. Often it is masked as “speaking the truth,” “defending myself,” or “setting the record straight,” but as Tullian notes, the gospel has freed us from defending ourselves. Moreover, these actions become bitter infighting between brothers and sisters in Christ, through which the love of Christ is not on display.

I thank God for Tullian, The Gospel Coalition, and for the work both do on behalf of Jesus. While I hate seeing strife and disunity, I am grateful for this display of humility and love. I pray that I will see more of this in churches, replacing the vicious, prideful attacks too commonly seen.

Brandon Schmidt

I am Brandon Schmidt: writer, husband, father, brother, reader, and laugher.

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