A prominent pastor who resigned from his church after revealing that he was guilty of a "moral failure" is speaking out as he copes with the very public fallout, revealing the two key conclusions that he has come to in recent months regarding his sinfulness and "God's grace."
"I've been forced to face myself in a deeper way than I ever have, and I've come to two conclusions," Pastor Tullian Tchividjian told The Church Boys podcast. "I'm far worse than I ever thought I was [and] God's grace is infinitely greater than I could have ever hoped for or imagined."
Tchividjian, 43, who recently vacated his position as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, spoke out in an in-depth interview with this author and fellow Blaze editor Chris Field, discussing his sins and the obstacles that he has faced in recent months.
"I'm alive and breathing and I am doing far better than I deserve," Tchividjian said when asked how he's currently faring.
The pastor, who is the grandson of famed preacher Billy Graham, landed in the headlines after telling the Washington Post back on June 21 that his marriage has been in turmoil after discovering that his wife, Kim, was having an affair earlier this year; he also admitted at the time that he subsequently had an affair of his own.
Listen to Tchividjian share his story below (starts at the 38:00 mark):
"This is the darkest season of my life. I'm 43 years old and have never experienced a season this dark before," Tchividjian said. "I am experiencing the weight of the law. I've lost everything — book deals cancelled, lost my job, all my speaking engagements canceled, reputation soiled — I mean everything."
The pastor was candid as he shared the struggles that he has faced, including frustrations with God and the church — and his attempt to blame someone other than himself for what unfolded — all paradigms that he said were spiritually unhealthy.
"Of course, there's no freedom in that," he said, saying that he's both "sick and sorry" for all that unfolded.
When the scandal first broke in the media, Tchividjian said that he was "very, very" isolated, beating himself up as he considered the weight of his actions and the impact that they would have on his children, the church and the credibility of the gospel.
But he explained that he is now finding grace and redemption as God has surrounded him with good people who are helping him through.
Tchividjian, who said that he is "swimming in the sea" of his consequences, is hoping to let people see his profound brokenness, as he journeys through the recovery process.
"I can only hope and pray that, in time, as God heals me and as God reveals more of himself to me that I will — by his grace — emerge from this healthier and more humble and more excited about his amazing grace and outrageous mercy than I ever have before," he said.
Tchividjian said that he is thankful for God's grace and forgiveness and that he's now speaking out as he journeys through the process in an effort to "practice what I have been preaching."
While many preachers who are embroiled in scandal disappear and reemerge once they have dealt with their problems, Tchividjian said that he has always been open in his ministry about his struggles; now, he plans to continue doing the same, even though the process hasn't been easy.
"My sin and by badness is being broadcast through the world, seemingly on a daily basis," he said. "I feel like crawling into a hole and dying on most days."
Pastor Tullian Tchividjian (Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church)
The Church Boys interview came as news broke that Tchividjian had filed for divorce from his wife. Dr. Paul Tripp, a well-known Christian counselor based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who has been counseling the pastor throughout the ordeal, released a statement on Wednesday affirming his support for Tchividjian.
"Much grace, counsel, thought, prayer and action has been invested over a six month period of time with the hope of healing the marriage, but sadly, there are times when the trust is so deeply broken and patterns so set in place that it seems best to recognize that brokenness, cry out for God's grace, mourn, commit to forgiveness, rest in the truths of the gospel and with a grieved heart, move on," Tripp wrote.
He continued, "I remain committed to Tullian as a brother and counselor and I will continue to give him the gospel as he now deals with what we together hoped and prayed would not happen."
Read more about Tchividjian's story here.