Comeback Trail: Tullian Tchividjian’s Out of Print Book Republished by Fortress Press

Tullian Tchividjian is coming back with a new edition of his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything. The press release announcing the book just came out and is below. It was released first to Publisher’s Weekly. That publication has a story up about it here.

Fortress Press Brings Best-Selling Author Back to Print

Tullian Tchividjian had sold over 80,000 copies of Jesus + Nothing = Everything when his life and ministry fell apart; now Fortress Press is publishing a new edition of that book.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of Billy Graham, was the pastor of a Florida megachurch when he lost everything in 2015 due to his marital infidelity. When his infidelity surfaced, Tchividjian lost his ministry, and his best-selling book Jesus + Nothing = Everything was taken out of print. After careful consultation with his pastoral counselor and other mentors, Fortress Press is confident that Tchividjian has repented of his past indiscretions and has put himself under the authority of trusted Christian leaders.

“The mission of our organization includes the phrase, ‘to communicate the liberating grace of God,’ and therefore we believe in second chances,” said Tony Jones, senior acquisitions editor at Fortress Press. “None of us is without sin, and Tullian’s message of the radical grace of God is more applicable now than ever—he even needs to hear it himself!”

Jesus + Nothing = Everything is a book I poured my heart and soul into, and it’s helped a lot of people, including me,” said Tchividjian. “I believe—and need!—the message of this book even more now than when I first wrote it. My wife and I have received hundreds of requests for Jesus+ Nothing = Everything, so I’m extremely grateful that Fortress Press is republishing it.”

Fortress Press plans to release Jesus + Nothing = Everything in Fall 2018, featuring a new introduction from the author, addressing what has happened in his life since the book was originally published and how the message of God’s grace has sustained him over the past three years and continues to sustain him daily.

An interesting blast from the past is to note that the individual who sent this presser is Tony Jones. Jones, no stranger to controversy himself, was once a fellow Patheos blogger and is now the Director of Acquisitions at Fortress Press. Unlike my blog, his is still up at Patheos, although he doesn’t contribute to it. He then moved it here but apparently doesn’t write much there either.

This book was once published by Crossway Books but when the news of Tchividjian’s affairs surfaced, the rights to the book went back to Tchividjian. It has been out of print since then.

 

Child Abuse Prevention Group Issues Strong Statement Against Tullian Tchividjian and "Sexual Misconduct"

Godly Response to Abuse in Church Environments (GRACE) is an organization which exists to combat child abuse in the church. In a strongly worded statement, GRACE has taken a position in relation to the scandal swirling around Tullian Tchividjian. The statement is as follows:

Statement from the GRACE Board of Directors
The GRACE board is deeply disturbed about the revelations of sexual misconduct by Tullian Tchividjian. As an organization that deals with the abuse of God’s lambs and the damage silence causes we feel compelled to speak. We believe that no material institution is more sacred to God than His lambs – be it church or mission or family. Institutions ordained by God were destroyed at His hand when they became corrupt. Given that we must be what He calls His people to be or we too will have chosen silence and darkness over truth and light.
Dear victims – and you are indeed victims. You have suffered and we do not want to add our silence to that suffering. Once again, one of God’s shepherds used his position of authority, his gift of words, his intellect and personality to draw you in when you were vulnerable and in need of care. All power belongs to Christ. Any power we have is derivative and sacred and to be used only for His glory and the good of His people. Anything less is an abuse of that power. You have been victims of the gross misuse of power God intended for your good. We grieve with you. We stand with you in the light. You have with courage exposed the deeds of darkness. Thank you, for we as the Body of Christ need your voices but now that the light shines a failure to respond on our part means we have turned from the light you turned on. We pray for you, knowing full well that each and every one of you has a hard road ahead as you seek newness of life, healing and a restoring of your souls. We pray that the failure of a shepherd will not lead you to forsake the Good and Great Shepherd who turns tables over and cracks whips when those in His church rob His sheep and distort the truth of who God is. We also pray that God will multiply the fruit of your hard labor to step into light to cause the greater body to examine itself regarding the many silenced victims that live in its midst.
Dear church of Jesus Christ, our God feeds and folds His sheep. He speaks truth and does not deceive. He protects us from wolves both inside and outside the fold. He does so by laying His own down at the gate. We fear that we have often helped wolves deceive others and hide themselves in sheep’s clothing for our own gain and comfort. In doing so we have not loved those who prey on God’s sheep for we have left them in their darkness and bondage. There are many untended, discarded victims in our midst. We are called by God to stand in the light they have brought, tend their wounds, lift the fallen and tenderly carry those who cannot stand. We are nothing like our Lord if we fail to do so. May the fruit of this grievous sin bring a sweeping of God’s refining fire through the lives of His people across the globe. At a minimum, God’s “refining fire” requires the Christian community to put in place long overdue reforms that will limit the possibility of continuing transgressions against the vulnerable.
These reforms include:
1. Seminary education of pastors about maintaining appropriate boundaries. Every seminary must provide education on maintaining appropriate boundaries between a pastor and the children or adults he or she may counsel. This training should include instruction on understanding the impact of trauma1 and when and how to refer survivors of abuse to professional mental health providers. If a church is hiring or has hired a pastor who has not received this sort of training, it can and should be conducted after the fact.
2. Rigorous screening and selection of pastors or other church leaders who provide counseling. The Centers for Disease Control has promulgated guidelines for screening and selecting those who will supervise, counsel or exercise a leadership role over children. These guidelines include background checks, social media checks, reference checks and formalized interviews about child protection guidelines.2 We believe the CDC guidelines are a solid foundation for churches to use in the screening and selection of pastors.
3. Implement checks and balances to minimize abusive situations. Those who provide pastoral counseling must read and agree to adhere to an appropriate Code of Ethics such as that promulgated by the American Association of Christian Counselors which strictly prohibits sexual contact between pastors and those they are counseling. This includes not only prohibitions on sexual contact but sexual innuendo, sexual “humor,” comments on attractiveness, etc.3 Pastoral counselors must receive oversight from other pastors, elders or others who can hold them accountable to the highest possible standard of ethics. If at all possible, pastoral counseling should be conducted in a church office with windows. Clergy and other church leaders should also adhere to appropriate policies pertaining to texting and the use of social media.4
4. Implementing clear policies for responding to abusive conduct, including reporting abuse to the appropriate authorities, removing abusive pastors from any leadership role and, most importantly, supporting survivors.
a. Reporting abuse to the authorities. It is a crime for any pastor to engage in sexual conduct with a child and, in many states, it is a crime for a pastor to engage in sexual conduct with an adult he or she is providing pastoral care to.5 Every church must have in place a mechanism to ensure that any criminal conduct committed by a pastor or other called worker will be immediately reported to law enforcement and that the church will fully comply with any subsequent investigation.
b. Removing abusive pastors. Although Christ died for all sinners and paid the penalty for all sins, this doesn’t mean a pastor who has violated one or more of his or her parishioners should continue to hold a leadership role in the church. Christ instructed us to be as “wise as serpents” (Mt. 10:16) and common sense compels us to remove abusive leaders so they cannot harm others. These leaders can and should be ministered to6 but this does not mean they should be given a second chance to violate the vulnerable. If Moses was denied entry to the promised land because he struck a rock the wrong way (Nu 20:12), clergy who violate the children or adults entrusted to them should be denied the pulpit.
c. Educating parishioners about what they can expect during pastoral counseling and where to report if they believe a pastor has exceeded his or her appropriate roles. Patients at a hospital have explained to them various procedures and routinely receive a patient’s bill of rights. Similarly, children or adults receiving pastoral counseling should be aware of guidelines for the counseling and what they can do should a pastor or other counselor engage in inappropriate conduct.
d. Supporting survivors of clergy abuse. When a congregation discovers a pastor has abused a child or adult in his or her care, the church has a responsibility to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. This includes assuming the financial cost of medical and mental health expenses or any other reasonable requests made by a victim. If the victim remains in the congregation, the abusive pastor should not be allowed to remain in the same church. Although we must continue to speak against abuse within the church, speech without action is a hollow reminder the church has done too little for too long to protect the vulnerable. In the midst of this most recent scandal, we pray the church’s future will be better than our past.
GRACE Board of Directors
December 7, 2016
Footnotes:
1 See e.g., Vincent J. Felitti & Robert F. Anda, The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare, in RUTH A. LANIUS, ERIC VERMETTEN, AND CLARE PAIN, THE IMPACT OF EARLY LIFE TRAUMA ON HEALTH AND DISEASE: THE HIDDEN EPIDEMIC (CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 2010). 2 . Saul & NC Audage, Preventing Child Sexual Abuse within Youth-Serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (2007). 3 AACC Code of Ethics, p. 16. 4 As one example of a social media policy pertaining to interactions with youth, see these recommendations from the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center: http://www.gundersenhealth.org/app/files/public/2113/NCPTC-SocialNetworking-Policy.pdf 5 In Minnesota, for example, it is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison for a pastor to have sex with someone he or she is providing “religious or spiritual advice, aid, or comfort…” MINN. STAT. SECTION 609.344, SUBD. 1(k)(1)(ii). 6 For appropriate guidelines in ministering to sex offenders, see generally, Victor Vieth, Ministering to Sex Offenders: Ten Lessons from Henry Gerecke, 112 WISCONSIN LUTHERAN QUARTERLY 209 (2015).

The Board consists of:

Justin Holcomb
Matthew Lacey
Diane Langberg
James Luttrull
Duncan Rankin
Michael Reagan
Charissa Sloan Dvorak
Boz Tchividjian (Tullian’s brother)
Emmanuel Tchividjian (Tullian’s uncle)
Laura Thien
Victor Vieth

Given the family connections and visibility of GRACE, this is a remarkable development. I suspect the pressure will now increase on the mainstream Christian media to report on these developments as well as on David C. Cook to pull back on their publication schedule.
 

A New Public Call from "Pastors and Friends" for Tullian Tchividjian to Leave the Ministry

Tchividjian image expastorA “group of pastors and friends” has publicly called on Tullian Tchividjian to step away completely from vocational ministry. This group maintains that Tchividjian has deceived them and engaged in disqualifying actions. This call follows the strongly worded statement from Kevin Labby, pastor of Willow Creek Presbyterian, which I published here last week. See the full statement below:

Dear Friends:

We join with others in expressing our shared grief regarding these latest allegations, as well as our thankfulness for the courageous women who came forward to tell their stories. We join our prayers together that they will receive the care and support that they need to heal and move forward in their lives.
In the wake of the initial revelation in June of 2015 that Tullian Tchividjian had engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship, a group of pastors and friends reached out to him in accordance with scripture’s clear admonition in Galatians 6:1–2:
 

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.


In the months that followed, we were encouraged that Tullian seemed committed to walking a path of healing and renewal through repentance under the authority of his church of membership. However, later disclosures, and these most recent allegations, cast grave doubts over the sincerity of this commitment.

Inasmuch as Tullian Tchividjian has habitually and impenitently used his public platform, his family’s good name, and the name of Christ for his own selfish ends, we believe that he has disqualified himself from any form of public vocational ministry.
For the sake of his eternal soul, we implore Tullian Tchividjian to repent of his wickedness and demonstrate his repentance by submitting himself to the leadership of his church of membership, pursuing forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation with those whom he has sinned against.
We send our plea to Tullian in a spirit of gentleness and with broken hearts.
May Christ have mercy.
Pastor R.J. Grunewald
Pastor Kevin Labby
Pastor Matt Popovits
Pastor Donovan Riley
Pastor Chris Rosebrough
Pastor Scotty Smith*
Paul David Tripp
Mrs. Elyse Fitzpatrick
Mrs. Kimm Crandall

For undisclosed reasons, Scotty Smith dropped out of this effort.
Apparently, David C. Cook Publishing is staying with plans to publish Tchividjian’s next book.

Money Behind the Message: Non-Profit David C. Cook May Not Easily Give Up Profits from Fallen Prophet Tullian Tchividjian

According to the Christian Post late last week, David C. Cook Publishing plans to publish Tullian Tchividjian’s next book. Even with the scandal swirling around Tchividjian, David C. Cook’s chief advancement officer Tim McDonald told CP that the publisher was “committed to him [Tchividjian] and his family as a publisher…” For a hint of what might be in the book, see this previous post.
David C. Cook’s response drew a negative reaction from some of Tchividjian’s critics. For instance, Wartburg Watch’s Dee Parsons tweeted:


Christian publishers likely face a dilemma when faced with bad behaving authors. One cannot stay in business without sales and yet there is a higher expectation for Christian publishers to act as a kind of filter for Christian buyers. In DCC’s case, the situation seems complicated by the publisher’s status as a non-profit organization. One might think that profits might not carry the same weight. However, according to the organization’s most recent IRS filing, the publisher does well in the money making part of the business.
Although DCC spent over $4-million more than revenues, the organization shows assets of $124-million with liabilities of nearly $44-million. The group showed revenues of $26-million during the 2015 fiscal year. Leadership is paid well for a non-profit seller of Bible-based materials. The CEO Cris Doornbos made nearly $450,000 in reportable compensation. Five executives made over $250k with 19 additional executives who made over $100k. As is true with many Christian non-profits, profits are not irrelevant to the organization’s bottom line.
Although these salaries and sales may seem large, the advances to some Christian authors have been in the $400,000 neighborhood (e.g., Mark Driscoll).
With that kind of investment, it will probably take more noise from potential buyers to dissuade DCC from publishing a best selling author.