The One-Way Gospel of Paul David Tripp and Liberate 2014

In February of 2014, the third annual "Liberate" conference was held at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida where Tullian Tchividjian is senior pastor. The theme of the conference was "God's One-Way Love."

Tullian Tchividjian

In the words of keynote speaker Tchividjian, the conference was focused on God's "inexhaustible love for an inexhaustible world." He stated that the purpose of the "Liberate" conferences is to "rebrand Christianity on a global scale" so that "in 20 years…evangelicalism would come to be understood not as "cultural warfare" but solely as "forgiveness of sins" with no "and then" to its gospel.

He characterizes evangelical Christians as thinking "they need to gain God's favor." The conference says nothing to help listeners understand this to be man's nature in the line of Adam. Instead, it is said to be due to the environment. It is described as having been taught by parents and/or the church. Thus the audience is assumed to be caught on the "performance treadmill" believing that Christianity demands such.

Typical of false teaching, there is no distinction made between believer and unbeliever. Nor is any distinction made in this conference between justification and sanctification. Because of this, the conference contradicts itself in offering nothing but its own variant of performance-ism for that problem from which they feel we need to be liberated.

Tchividjian assumes that evangelicals are seeking "the cure for exhaustion." He even describes his listeners as "weary and heavy laden" using the words of that hymn while ignoring its advice to "tell it to Jesus alone." Instead, he tells his own troubles in life to anyone who will listen, pouring out details of his own past rebellious behavior while excusing it as an attempt to "validate" himself and gain "self-worth." He claims to realize now that he located his identity in tennis and, therefore, assumed that if he didn't win, he "didn't count." His talk consists largely of psychotherapeutic catharsis interspersed with details of his own rebellious son saying of him, "What Jesus was apparently incapable of doing, a girl did." After proudly using the term "damn fool," he tells his listeners that there is "no need whatsoever to validate ourselves," concluding his presentation by saying, "Love God and do what you want!"

As explained by Tchividjian, "God's One-Way Love" means that Christians are to be liberated from any notion that the free gift of God's "inexhaustible" grace would lead to what he calls "performance-ism."

Elyse Fitzpatrick

Also featured at the conference was Elyse Fitzpatrick, an increasingly popular speaker at Christian women's conferences and author of numerous Christian self-help books. She spoke on "The Fruit of One-Way Love" which she lists as "transparency, laughter, and rest." Following after Tchividjian, she characterizes evangelicals as "weighed down by all the bad news" of Christianity. This "bad news" includes "all the things you are supposed to do to prove you are properly grateful." She promises her listeners that "God has no unmet expectations for you" and urges them to "relax and stop pretending."

Paul David Tripp

Paul David Tripp was a featured speaker at Liberate 2014 (as he was in 2012 and 2013 and 2015). He is a Christian counselor who trained and worked at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) in Pennsylvania but now has his own incorporated "ministry." He is also a popular speaker and author of self-help books intended for a Christian audience.

Tripp's topic at Liberate 2014 was "God's One-Way Love and Personal Identity." Read more about Tripp's teaching on "identity" here. This teaching, which presents a perverted view of man and God, served as the philosophical foundation for the Liberate Conference.

All the speakers assume that need for an identity of security, significance, and self-worth is real and compelling. They all agree that we look in the wrong places for this identity; they all include "nasty theology" as one of those wrong places. They state that the "inexhaustible grace of God" should be the source of a Christian's security, significance, and self-worth. They conclude that Christians should feel "liberated" from performance-ism being free to "cuss" as well as to "relax and stop pretending."

"God's One-Way Love and Personal Identity" not only reveals Tripp's reliance upon a particularly egregious psychological theory but points to the fundamental theological error of the entire conference: God's love is "one-way" with no "and then"; therefore, you can "love God and do what you want." To these speakers, liberation means an always-loving-never-wrathful God lavishes His inexhaustible grace/love upon you, empowering you to realize and affirm your "identity," making you finally free to "do what you want."

Since the Liberate speakers see Jesus as coming to liberate us from lack of self-worth, the apostle Paul's clear response to this deception is never mentioned:

Romans 6:1-3 (NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

If sinful behavior is simply an attempt to gain security and significance, this talk about baptism into Christ's death is bad news. Jesus says in John 12:25 that we are to lose our life in order to find it; the Liberate speakers urge the finding of life and to get over the idea of having to lose it.

Tripp's presentation focuses not on sin, but on "the disease" which he defines as "identity amnesia." This sickness is spread by "nasty theology" which focuses on who God is and what He expects rather than on "who we are." Most importantly, it causes us to "forget who we are" and focus on our failings. Tripp says that the "Savior has come to me and I'm OK." Throughout his presentation, there are repeated references to the receiving of God's grace/love but nothing about a resultant desire to return thanks, worship, confess, repent, turn from sin, or even share the comfort of such grace with another person. Instead, Tripp tells his listeners to say to themselves, "I am; therefore I can."

He surely assumes his audience to be so poorly grounded in Scripture that none will recognize the blasphemy of urging the creature to take on the name of the Creator or remember that name was given when God told Moses to "take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5-14). He assumes none will recognize this move to Monism (no separation between God, man and creation), since such thinking has become so much a part of what is called Christian psychology in the 21st century.

With humour, personal stories, and emotion, Tripp warns his listeners, "If you make the darkness inside of you and the darkness outside of you your meditation, you are going down." He permits no thought that the audience is already "down" in a vastly more serious manner than they realize. Jesus made it clear that man is thoroughly down in being condemned already (John 3:18). Like the other speakers, Tripp is concerned with subjective feelings rather than objective truth about the self.

Tripp fits readily into the theme of this conference: the call to "Liberate" Christianity from what Tchividjian calls "performance-ism." Presumably, the audience calls itself Christian; therefore, the speakers are assumed to be using Jesus to accomplish this liberation. However, so little Scripture is used by any of these speakers that the talks could easily fit into any secular self-help seminar. The philosophy underlying the instructions from Tchividjian, Tripp, and Elyse Fitzpatrick is the classic Adlerian version of Freud. Their talks all assume that the problem of mankind is lack of self-worth expressed in a search for security and significance. They are essentially a re-run of Larry Crabb and Robert McGee packaged for a new generation with comedy and "cussing." Elyse says, "You're so freakin' miserable!" Tchividjian recommends a book with foul language saying, "British people cuss, so get beyond it!"

They treat the audience like children directing them to repeat self-affirming phrases after them. Tripp tells them they do not need more "ideas" or more of the "boring informational approach"; instead, they need his "deeply personal" approach. He says he won't "talk to you [if] you want to critique." "I don't need to lap up achievement. I don't need you to like me." Tripp tells the audience that Jesus died for their peace, security, and inner sense of meaning.

He tries to force the first verse of Psalm 27 into his analysis of the human problem, saying that this verse should be taught not in relation to who God is but rather to "who you are." After much personal babble and comedy on so-called relationships, he ends with a call to meditation similar to the Buddhist technique of mindfulness training.

Conclusion

Tchividjian, Fitzpatrick and Tripp are so directly contradictory to Scripture that the most elementary student of the Bible would easily refute the false teaching. Their talks analyze personal motives, excuse sinful behavior, lead people into mysticism, elevate antinomianism, and ridicule the Christian who is "zealous for good works" (Titus 2:14) or who studies as a "worker who does not need to be ashamed" (2 Timothy 2:15). "Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13). "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Presumably, such verses are the "nasty theology" from which Christians need to be liberated. Instead of Scripture, Liberate offers psychological self-help "according to their own desires…they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). In the name of Liberation, this conference offers bondage.


Taken and edited from Tripp at Liberate.


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