Group Releases Statement as Man at Center of ‘Church Plant’ Tattoo Fundraiser Video Back in Rehab

Screenshot from video

TEMPE, Ariz. — One of the men at the center of a controversial online video featuring a young man obtaining a tattoo and vaping at a fundraising effort for the tattoo artist’s part in their group’s proposed church plant is now back in rehab after continued drug use, a public statement released by his elders outlines.

“The elders of Apologia became acquainted with the past sinful patterns in Thad’s life very early on,” the statement reads in part. “There were issues related to drug addiction and serial adultery that ultimately led to Thad going to a long-term Christian recovery program in Georgia.”

“Over the course of our time with them we had to confront instances of substance abuse which never ultimately stopped,” it outlines.

As previously reported, on June 22, Marcus Pittman, the head of Apologia Studios in Tempe, Arizona, posted a provocative live, public video of the tattoo fundraiser to social media, which he gave the questioning title “Apologia Studios Tattoo Parlor?!” (View here.) Apologia Studios is a part of Apologia Church, led by Jeff Durbin, which is seeking to plant a new church in Kauai.

In the footage, Apologia member Thad Pinch had a Greek “Chi-Rho” symbol tattooed on his arm in the ministry’s studio, as a tattoo artist from the congregation had offered his services to help raise funds for his part in the church planting effort.

“This is actually a fundraiser for our Apologia Kauai church plant, so people of the church are donating to have another member of the church tattoo them so they can go to Kauai and we can plant a church there,” Pittman explains. “So, it’s pretty cool.”

Pittman and Pinch—as well as others—jest with each other during the video, and Pinch vapes on a vaporizer at one point while he is being tattooed.

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Weeks prior, on June 1 – 4, Pittman and Durbin, along with Les Lanphere of Reformed Pubcast, also hosted a conference called ReformCon, which on the final night offered a time of “talking theology over beer” at a local pub. Attendees could participate in a beer flight, which is a sampling of various beers.

“This ticket allows you to get a beer flight from Boulders on Broadway. All the proceeds from this benefit our Kauai church plant!” the website for the event outlined. “Boulders is all about the food, craft beer, bike riding, rock climbing and adventure! With 30 draft handles and 70 plus bottles of craft beer. Bring a friend and check out our selection.”

On June 4, Durbin briefly live streamed the pub meetup/beer flight online. (View here.)

“I think this is probably the largest pub meetup. What do you guys think? I think so,” he notes in the footage, being met with a reply by an attendee who hoped it would be “bigger next year.”

Christian News Network reported on the two unconventional fundraisers, which generated discussion both for and against the church plant fundraising concepts—with some defending the ideas and others opining that they take Christian liberty too far and could pose a stumblingblock to some.

Sonny Hernandez, a military chaplain and adjunct professor of theology, provided his view on the subject of church fundraising and whether the two concepts should be accepted or allowed by the Church.

“The message of Scripture is about holiness, having a contrite heart, and being a Christ-centered model—to be like Christ as Ephesians 5:1 tells us,” he opined to Christian News Network, as outlined in the initial report. “And I just don’t think those methodologies and those practices are commensurate with the testimony of Scripture.”

Apologist James White, Pinch’s father-in-law, became especially vocal about the matter, advising that he had paid for Pinch’s tattoo, and that while he personally despises beer, he drinks part of a Smirnoff Ice each night as a sleep aid.

“[T]here is a reason Thad was getting a chi-rho. I have a chi-rho. My son Joshua is getting a chi-rho. And Thad wanted to get a chi-rho as well,” White wrote in a blog post on the matter. “Originally it was a discussion we had over Christmas, that we would all get chi-rhos, since Josh is my son, and Thad is my son-in-law. In fact, I’m fairly sure I had already provided the funds for that chi-rho.”

He brought Durbin on his webcast to discuss the issue as well.

“I don’t believe that the answer to the weaker brother/stronger brother issue is that the stronger brother has to live their life in hiding, pretending that they’re something they’re not,” Durbin outlined.

“I would say that Jesus gave us wine in worship,” he also said, in regard to controversy over the (separate) pub meetup. “In the temple, it’s part of worship. God calls His people to participate with it.”

Durbin added that he is against drunkenness, and “[w]here you have believers who all agree, ‘It’s okay, don’t get drunk,’ we can hold an event that we call together people of like mind in the right context to glorify God.”

Last month, Apologia issued a statement advising that as Pinch continued to struggle with drugs and serial adultery, the elders had recommended that Pinch’s wife file for divorce.

“After almost 1-year of counseling (individual and as a couple) and after consideration of consistent patterns of egregious sin (over the course of several years) and repeated instances of marital infidelity, we, the elders of Apologia Church with delegated authority under the Lord Jesus Christ, have officially issued our unanimous and unqualified recommendation of divorce upon biblical grounds,” Durbin and discipleship pastor Luke Pierson wrote.

The two stated that they believe God hates divorce, and that they counsel that even in instances of adultery healing should be sought in a marriage, but advised that they “are also under the conviction that a pattern of consistent and unrepentant adultery provides Biblical grounds for a righteous divorce.”

Read the statement in full here.

Pinch’s wife, Summer, co-hosts a theology podcast called “Sheologians,” which launched on iTunes on Sept. 29. On Sept. 30, she publicly posted to her personal Facebook page Apologia’s statement about the advisement to divorce.

Pinch was unavailable for comment. Christian News Network contacted his father, Mike Pinch, who said that neither he or his wife had any knowledge of the divorce or any of the affairs.

He confirmed that his son, who had been in rehab approximately four years ago and had been involved at one point or another with bath salts, alcohol, cigarettes and vaping, went back went to rehab on Aug. 25 to obtain help for a continued drug addiction. Pinch stated that he had been concerned that the church environment Thad was in was not conducive to substance abuse recovery and regeneration.

“[I]n my opinion, playing on the edge with vaping, tattoos and close fellowshipping with those that drink is playing into the hands of sinking back into addictive behavior,” Pinch told Christian News Network in July.

“If you don’t provide a safe place, and you put temptation in people’s way, that doesn’t really sound to me like you have that individual’s best interest in mind,” he also opined on Thursday. “Scripture says, ‘Flee the appearance [of evil].’ … It surprises me that church leaders flaunt their freedom in such a way that seems disparaging of another’s weaknesses.”

He expressed surprise that the information about the divorce had been posted as public information.

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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    God prohibited tattoos, and tattoos defile the body – the temple of the Holy Spirit, promote immorality by funding blasphemous businesses and showing excessive skin, and harm the body by poisoning oneself and lowering the IQ of children. Tattoos are the marks of demon-worshipers and gangsters and prostitutes and prepare mankind for getting the marks of beast. Christians should not be bored or waste money or love being looked evil but keep both the mind and body pure for Lord Jesus. If any Christian men want to show toughness, they should go to Syria and Iraq to defend Christianity instead of showing off filthy tattoos.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    In an immoral world, women show off excessive skin for femininity and men get tattoos to show masculinity. Both are a symbol of filth and a shame, boasting how polluted the humanity is. Modesty is graceful and gallantry is true manliness and both protect women and children. Men should show strength by being right and the facial expression instead of the amount of tattoos.

  • James Scott

    Some people just get lucky and god’s plan for them is vaping, tattoos and drinking. Have fun kid and enjoy yourself, it’s clearly what he wants for you.

    • Amos Moses

      i have done far worse ….. and for a long time ….. and yet Christ saw fit to allow me to travel that road as part of my education of what this world and worldliness was about ….. and then one day grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and pulled me out of it ………… not sure what luck had to do with it ….. divine sovereignty more like ………….

      • James Scott

        ….. untreated mental illness more like ………..

        • Amos Moses

          For sure … when i was in the world i was mentally ill …… Christ treated it ….. cured …. for the most part ………..

          • James Scott

            For sure … you are still in the world and mentally ill. Seek treatment from someone other than the imaginary friend in the sky that you chose to worship.

          • Amos Moses

            So is that a scientific, theological or personal opinion ……………..

          • James Scott

            That’s called a clinical opinion. Personally I hope scientific research will one day find a way to help treat you. Theology is a fraud sold to gullible people who are weak willed.

          • Amos Moses

            So i heard science ….. as clinical deals with science …… are we on the same page ….. that your opinion that God does not exist is a scientific opinion …..

          • James Scott

            Wow, you are barely even coherent. I don’t doubt that your imaginary friend exists somewhere in your mentally ill head but it’s just a simple fact that there is no established proof of your imaginary friend outside your mentally ill head.

          • Amos Moses

            ” it’s just a simple fact that there is no established proof”

            ok …. so please tell us …. how did you establish this “fact” ….. do you have perfect knowledge of every thing …… absence of evidence is not evidence of absence …… so we need to know how this supposed “fact” was established ….

          • James Scott

            I didn’t have to do anything to establish this simple fact. A couple thousand years of zero proof has made it obvious to any objective observer. Most religious people concede that their beliefs are based on nothing more than “faith”.

          • Amos Moses

            ” A couple thousand years of zero proof has made it obvious to any objective observer.”

            1. You are not an objective observer nor is anyone else ……. 2. absence of evidence is not evidence of absence ….. 3. if you are not looking in the right place and you do not find what you are looking for the only thing you have established is you are looking in the wrong place …… if you drop your keys in the living room but you continue to look in the kitchen because you think the light is better does not establish that your keys are forever lost ……………. only that you are not looking in the right place ……….. FAIL ………..

          • James Scott

            Your arguments are so pathetic and weak it’s hard to even respond.
            1. Of course there are objective observers, not everyone is gullible and desperate to believe like you
            2. You have zero evidence to support your claims that your imaginary
            friend exists anywhere outside your mentally ill head. That’s where
            your story always ends
            3. I’m just lucky my keys are never lost in the head of a mentally ill person or I’d never find them

          • Amos Moses

            “1. Of course there are objective observers, not everyone is gullible and desperate to believe like you”

            you are “gullible and desperate to believe” He does not exist …. and it does not answer the question ………

            “2. You have zero evidence to support your claims that your imaginary
            friend exists anywhere ”

            Truth needs no evidence …. the evidence supports the truth or the evidence is misread …. if it is a lie …. then prove it to be a lie ….. but your misreading of the evidence is not proof …..

            “3. I’m just lucky my keys are never lost in the head of a mentally ill person or I’d never find them”

            Ad Hominem ……. and proves nothing …….. FAIL ………………..

          • James Scott

            1. I don’t “believe” your imaginary friend doesn’t exist inside your mentally ill head. But it is easy for rational people to accept that there zero evidence that your imaginary friend exists outside of your mentally ill head.
            2. Your argument is so weak that even you concede that you have no evidence to support it.
            3. Now you’ve been reduced to posting the word “FAIL” like you are a teenage girl who can’t think of anything more intelligent to say.

            Thanks again for all the laughs, it’s always fun to watch a religious person struggle to defend the nonsense they chose to believe in.

          • Amos Moses

            nothing to defend …….. you are the one defending …….. and losing ………

          • James Scott

            Ha ha ha…luckily I don’t have to defend your imaginary friend.

          • Amos Moses

            and again …. no evidence of your assertion ………. and running scared …….

          • James Scott

            There’s no need to keep repeating yourself if you don’t have anything new to say. You have already admitted that you have zero evidence to support your belief in your imaginary friend. The record is clear, I’ve made no assertions beyond confirming that and don’t need to.

          • Amos Moses

            you are the one who has made an assertion and then cannot prove your assertion ….. and then you want to call names and run away ….. do you have perfect knowledge of every thing … ever ……………

          • James Scott

            I’m not sure why you are so defensive, we both agree that you have no evidence to support the existence of your imaginary friend. I make no assertions beyond that. You should worry less about others having “perfect knowledge” and instead focus on improving what little knowledge you’ve been able to attain in this life.

          • Amos Moses

            the truth needs no defence …. unproven “facts” do …. do you have perfect knowledge of every thing… ever …

          • James Scott

            I realize to someone with your limited capacities that I appear to have “perfect knowledge of everything” but you really don’t need to spend so much of your time lamenting your shortcomings.

          • Amos Moses

            so your assertion is now that you have perfect knowledge of everything …. ever …. is that right …..

          • James Scott

            Nope, that’s nothing more than the strange question you keep asking me. The only assertion that I have made is that you have zero evidence to support your belief in your imaginary friend. You confirmed it above and you have been dwelling on it ever since.

          • Amos Moses

            No …. the only way for you to prove your assertion is to have perfect knowledge of every thing ever ….. so is that a yes or no or a i dont know ………….

          • James Scott

            The only assertion that I have made is that you have zero evidence to
            support your belief in your imaginary friend. You confirmed it above, you have been dwelling on it ever since, and you are accomplishing nothing.

          • Amos Moses

            you have asserted that He is imaginary ….. and without perfect knowledge you assertion is unproveable ….

          • ShemSilber

            Shalom, Brother Moses. Looks like the admin took out those remarks by the scoffer. Good riddance to those.
            Too many people don’t believe, as the Word says in Psalm 111:10, that the beginning of wisdom is the proper respect for Almighty Yahuwah and His Son, our Redeemer. If they don’t have the beginning of wisdom, what is there to build on?
            May our Master Yahushua (Jesus) bless and keep giving you and all His believers with His merciful preparation for His coming Kingdom! Omein!

          • Amos Moses

            BTW …. you are the one who cannot defend their assertion and is running scared ….. bye …..

          • James Scott

            I know it’s frightening for you at times but no one else is running scared of your mental illness …. hello ….

          • Amos Moses

            nothing to fear from you and your unproven assertion ………

          • James Scott

            Why would you want to fear me? You already have your imaginary friend for that. Remember to keep him happy so he doesn’t sentence to his eternity of torture and suffering in hell like he does to millions of other people every year.

          • ShemSilber

            Praise Almighty Yahuwah, for He sent our Master Yahushua (Lord Jesus) to be our Healer (Isaiah 53:5; 1Peter 2:24), and there have been a few that I know of, myself included, who have been healed of mental and physical ills, including cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, depression and bipolar disorders. His healing is real, regardless of those who think not. HalleluYAH and omein!

          • LadyInChrist♥BlessedBeTheLord


          • ShemSilber

            Keep the faith, dear Sister, and may we always grow in it until the return of our Master to rule and to give us peace on earth (Isaiah 2:1-4; Micah 4:1-4), omein.

          • LadyInChrist♥BlessedBeTheLord

            Amen. May His return be quick.

          • ShemSilber

            Omein! Revelation 22:20!

          • LadyInChrist♥BlessedBeTheLord

            Love that verse. It gives up hope of His soon return.

  • kristea

    Man, one way to quickly ruin the reputation of an organization like Christian New is to post tabloid articles like this.

  • Angela Wittman

    Those folks at Apologia almost give me nightmares… Whatever is Dr. White thinking by aligning himself with folks like that?

    • Amos Moses

      i like Dr. White a lot …. he is probably one of the best apologists for the faith i have heard ….. but yeah …. it does give me pause with this and his mostly not visible tattoo …. i still listen to him regularly on the Dividing Line on the utube machine …..

  • Amos Moses

    Passionate Burning In Man’s Chest During Worship Service Actually Galaxy Note 7 Bursting Into Flames
    October 10, 2016

    Majority Of Nation’s Christians Believe ‘Theology’ Deadly Disease, Study Finds
    October 10, 2016

  • David van Heerden

    Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord. Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

    Mr White. Mr White is well known for his support of the critical Greek text (ie. the Greek Bible edited by and for very clever people), and his distain for the received Greek text (preferred by simpletons). What is this fruit growing on his family tree?

    Tempe Arizona: the home of churches you have never been to with people whose names you know, which have diverse positions with respect to the Bible’s authority.

  • edwitness

    I have on my wall a poster that shows 3 band members, one w/a long mohawk, one w/a cross haircutted on top of his head w/the rest shaved, and the third w/dreadlocks. All have tattoos and piercings. It’s quite the spectacle.
    The caption reads
    “……and LORD, we want ALL the focus to be on YOU today…”
    None of this should surprise any of us. Whatsoever a man sows. That shall he also reap.
    The church is where it is because of it’s false doctrines and fake “leadership”. It truly is the laodicean church.
    He is coming soon:-)

  • Becky

    Don’t want to be confused or misled? Then open the Holy Bible and read it daily…forevermore. Ultimately, it only matters what God’s word says.

    • James Scott

      My what a pathetically narrow and limited outlook on life you have. I can’t imagine what it must be like to reread the same book over and over again because it’s the only thing that matters to you. Yikes!

  • Rev Donald Spitz

    A lot of opinions. The final authority, is of course, the Holy Bible.

    What the Holy Bible says:

    Leviticus 19:28

    New International Version
    Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.

    New Living Translation
    Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the LORD.

    English Standard Version
    You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.

    New American Standard Bible
    You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.

    GOD’S WORD® Translation
    Never slash your body to mourn the dead, and never get a tattoo. I am the LORD.

    King James Bible
    Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

    American King James Version
    You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.

    American Standard Version
    Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am Jehovah.

    Bible in Basic English
    You may not make cuts in your flesh in respect for the dead, or have marks printed on your bodies: I am the Lord.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh, for the dead, neither shall you make in yourselves any figures or marks: I am the Lord.

    Darby Bible Translation
    And cuttings for a dead person shall ye not make in your flesh, nor put any tattoo writing upon you: I am Jehovah.

  • Gena B

    Was this really that much of a surprise? If you are looking and sounding like the world….then what makes you different than the world? The heart of a Christian is Christ.