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The Elephant Wins

October 4, 2011

Much has been made lately of the invitation extended to TD Jakes to participate in The Elephant Room. My man Thabiti has written a well-reasoned and clearly presented case against inviting TD Jakes.  As a son of the predominantly black church, and one who loves his heritage, I agree with Thabiti, that the invitation to Jakes sends a mixed message and carries the potential of validating one the most pronounced purveyors of false teaching in the world.  I would hope The Elephant Room (James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, in particular) would reconsider this invitation.

According to the statement on their website, The Elephant Room desires to create

” …a new tribe. A tribe based on being humble enough to listen and reconsider what the Scriptures actually say. A tribe that holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity and is open handed with everything else. Maybe, together, we can create a new center?  A place where we are for everything the bible demands and demand nothing that scriptures are silent about.”

This is an interesting statement, and one to which I could assent.  They desire a tribe that “holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity”.  I like that. However, last I checked, the Trinity was an essential tenet of the faith, and unless someone has moved the goal post since I last looked, it still is.  If this is the case it would appear that everyone within the Elephant Room is on board with this doctrine, clearly stated and accepted as historically understood, except one – you guessed it, TD Jakes.  So here’s my question, is the Elephant Room for the purpose of bringing together brothers (and sisters maybe someday) who may disagree methodologically or even on some secondary theological issue and yet are “ferociously” holding on to the essentials, or is the Elephant Room seeking to evangelize the unorthodox and even publicly condemn those who refuse to confess the “essential tenets” we profess as historical, bible-believing Christians?  And to which of these groups does TD Jakes belong?

The legacy that the teachings of TD Jakes, and his ilk, have left is far more damning than that of Rob Bell.  Yet, when Rob Bell whispers that universalism may be the teaching of the Bible, evangelicals in general and the Gospel Coalition in particular, run to their battle stations and prepare for war.  Books are quickly published, blogs are overloaded to the point of shutting down, conferences on hell and the error of universalism suddenly spring up out of nowhere.  Yet, Jakes’ teachings fill practically every store where books are sold and little, if any, reference is ever mentioned concerning his heresy.  In fact, instead of denouncing Jakes, he gets invited to participate in the Elephant Room.

I must say that while I am a member of the Gospel Coalition, (along with Thabiti, MacDonald, Driscoll, and others),  I have not had extensive conversations with Driscoll or MacDonald and thus I can not say what motivates their decision and wouldn’t even dare to guess. In fact, in reading Driscoll’s comments on this issue, I am encouraged that he would seek to use this as an opportunity to get some clarity from Jakes on this issue.  I am sure Driscoll will not hold back from pushing Jakes to places that Jakes is not comfortable, and even seek to have him explain his long-held, yet often shape-shifting false views.  However, I can not help but see that the end result would be a win-win for Jakes and a lose-lose for those who have to combat and deal with Jakes’ presence and influence all the time.

Jakes is no dummy.  He will be careful not to say anything that would indict him as a false teacher.  He is a smart man.  You don’t get to his position being stupid.  Therefore, I fear that by the end of the discussion, when all the rounds have been fired, and the dust has settled, the elephant in the room will be Mr. Jakes himself.  He will be standing tall shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for giving him another platform on which to promote himself.  No matter what is said, unless Jakes denounces his previous teachings or is exposed as a false teacher, it’s a win for team Jakes and a loss for those of us left to clean up after the elephant has done his business.

44 Comments leave one →
  1. Louis permalink
    October 4, 2011 3:58 pm

    “Jakes is no dummy. He will be careful not to say anything that would indict him as a false teacher. He is a smart man.”

    Carter, you can make that assertion only if you are familiar enough with Jakes and how he operates, and I don’t doubt that you are. For the life of me I cannot understand why you and others in the Coalition would not have been consulted before this invitation went out. Then they (McDonald and Driscoll) could have been made aware of the thousands of videos of Jakes spewing his falsehood and all the research and resources that are available proving no need for any so called “clarity”.

    I am baffled by the actions of ER planners but sadly not surprised.

  2. christopher permalink
    October 4, 2011 5:40 pm

    Louis,

    i don’t believe that MacDonald and Driscoll were *unaware* of Jakes’ falsehood. i think they simply concluded that it’s just not that big of a deal. (But they are wrong.) Re-read MacDonald’s initial defense of why he invited Jakes:

    http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=9055

    MacDonald has read the Potter’s House statement of faith on the Godhead. And MacDonald has read Jakes’ article in Christianity Today, where Jakes explains his view of the Godhead at some length. Both writings demonstrate conclusively that Jakes denies that the persons of the Godhead are *eternally* distinct. The problem here is that MacDonald erroneously concluded that the Nicene Creed is theologically nitpicky, and should not determine the boundaries of who may be called a brother in Christ.

    • Louis permalink
      October 4, 2011 8:55 pm

      Hey Christopher:
      McDonald said:
      “His website states clearly that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations. I am looking forward to hearing him explain what he means by that. I am also excited to hear him state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring reformed world.”

      This makes me think that McDonald and or Driscoll have no idea who or what they are dealing with or don’t care. That’s why I think Carter’s blog is so important. Carter and others like myself have heard Jakes’ falsehood when he is not doing an interview or writing a statement for his website, which he refuses to retool.

      If they spent anytime in any kind of half-hearted research, they would know exactly what he means and where he stands theologically. There would be no need for clarifications or explanations. They would also know the damage Jakes is causing the African American community in particular.

      I am trying to give McDonald the benefit of the doubt, brother. But if I hear you correctly you are saying that MacDonald (though he dialed it back a bit in his second post) is as big a heretic as Jakes.

      • October 5, 2011 2:38 pm

        No, i don’t think you’re hearing me correctly. i am not saying MacDonald is a heretic. He personally affirms the Nicene Creed. But he believed/believes (?) a person may reject the Nicene Creed and still be a brother in Christ. The current version of MacDonald’s blogpost is a revision. The original read as follows:

        “I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements that seek clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery. I do not require T.D. Jakes or anyone else to define the details of Trinitarianism the way that I might. His website states clearly that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations.”

        He went soft on this issue. Is this evidence of a downward trajectory? i don’t know. But if so, then i hope the negative reaction he received would prove to be a helpful corrective. It seems it already may have led him to delete one of his most controversial sentences.

  3. Freddy permalink
    October 5, 2011 1:26 am

    I’ve honestly not felt like this was that big of a deal. I felt like the nature and purpose of ER allows for invitations of such people. And, unless McDonald formally endorsed Jakes’ theology, he didn’t need to be chastised. However, I had not read this statement from their website. If some new tribe committed to the essential tenets of the faith is part of their goal, inviting someone who clearly does not hold to orthodox trinitarianism goes against their purpose. That is unless they don’t hold trinitarian theology as essential. That’d be a mess.

  4. David permalink
    October 5, 2011 2:06 am

    Pastor Carter,

    You said, ” I am sure Driscoll will not hold back from pushing Jakes to places that Jakes is not comfortable, and even seek to have him explain his long-held, yet often shape-shifting false views.”

    I certainly hope this is the case. I hope that this platform will be used as a golden opportunity to shed light on on those unfamiliar with Jakes’ Trinitarian views. However, this will need to be done with much tact, grace and precision. If Jakes’ is bent on being honest with himself and his views and not curtail them, the truth will be evident and it might be a “win” for the true gospel.

    d.

    • ajcarter permalink*
      October 5, 2011 2:25 am

      Let’s hope so, David. Let’s hope Jakes is thoroughly refuted. And let’s hope those who are enamored with Jakes will see the error of his teachings. It’s possible.

      • January 26, 2012 1:58 pm

        It is possible but not likely. If you check out some of the tweeting that Macdonald and Furtick did recently to those trying to correct them, you will find obstinate, insulting unrepentant attitudes by these “pastors” — please know that courting heresy does not happen in a vacuum. It seems always to be accompanied by sin and self-justification.

        You saw James calling people who disagreed with his course of action Nazis last fall. That attitude is still plainly present.

        If you would like proof please go to “Do Not Be Surprised” blog
        http://revelation22-20.blogspot.com/2012/01/we-can-work-it-out-is-steven-furtick.html

        http://revelation22-20.blogspot.com/2012/01/we-can-work-it-out-is-james-macdonald.html

        I find it hard to believe that James was once solid. I only came to hear about him shortly before this craziness all started.

        They have also forcefully refused paying registered discernment bloggers Chris Rosebrough and Erin Benzinger entry after they traveled there to go to one of the satellite venues and live blog about it. Rosebrough was refused entry both years. And threatened with arrest for just being there as they were sitting in the car trying to decide what to do now that they could not go in. I wish he’d had a video camera rolling:

        http://revelation22-20.blogspot.com/2012/01/turned-away-at-door-of-elephant-room.html

        IMO TGC should have been more proactive. Since there are apparently still people there (Crawford Loritts?) who defend James and what he is doing, it is not too late to start, even if it fractures the coalition. This chaos can not continue.

  5. Richard L permalink
    October 5, 2011 3:02 am

    “A new tribe”, “reconsider what the scriptures say”, “Create a new center”
    All three of these statements should raise a red flag.

    “A new tribe”, what is that? The only tribe I see rising up are heretics, imposters and people that are tickling itching ears.

    “Reconsider what the scriptures say” The scriptures are not open to ANY private interpretation.

    “Create a new center” The only center is God. That Center never moves. He is the same yesterday today and forever.

    There really is so much more troubling about this statement and the man that I was a radio follower of(MacDonald).

    • Despeville permalink
      October 5, 2011 3:57 am

      Richard,

      You are spot on. There is something brewing there and this acceptance of heretical prosperity falsehood teachers and emergents by mega churches is wide and consolidated.

    • David Biel permalink
      October 5, 2011 7:06 pm

      I thought that jumped out of the statement too! Using “new” so often in a Christian mission statement is a red flag by itself, but to “reconsider the scriptures?” Thats a lottttttttt bigger problem than inviting Jakes.

    • Anne T. permalink
      October 6, 2011 4:40 am

      Amen, Richard! Those were my thoughts almost exactly as I read the “purpose” statement of the ER.

  6. October 5, 2011 3:57 am

    Pastor Carter, I got to your post vía my good friend and mentor Dr. Anthony Bradley. Greetings to you from Guatemala and may God continue to bless your ministry. I agree completely with your position and am blessed to have read your article.

  7. Despeville permalink
    October 5, 2011 4:02 am

    ” I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements that seek clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery.”
    ~James MacDonald

    Really? Is below credal statement artificially “seeking clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery”?

    I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
    the Maker of heaven and earth,
    and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

    Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
    born of the virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, dead, and buried…

    ~The Apostles’ Creed

    No Pastor James yet this statement is distinctively biblical and distinctively trinitarian…

  8. William Jeltz permalink
    October 5, 2011 6:29 am

    I’d never known anything about MacDonald until all of this ER thing blew up. I had seen his name listed among the ministries at the Oneplace.com site, which I only went to listen to Martyn Lloyd Jones sermons. I knew to not think much of any of the other ministries on that site since it is such a hodge-podge of unbiblical teachers mixed with maybe three or four biblical teachers at best. As far as I could see, the only other ministries I would ever turn an ear to on that site would be Michael Horton, Ken Jones and crew at Whitehorse Inn, Alistair Begg’s truth for life and R.C. Sproul’s renewing your mind.
    But those all can be accessed much fuller from their own websites.
    So I always overlooked MacDonald and I am now glad I did, having read what so many reputable blogging pastors such as Dr. Carter and Dr. Anyabwile have had to say on the situation…
    Thank you Dr. Carter, I very much appreciate true shepherds like yourself standing up for truth and keeping us informed in these days of so many false shepherds.

  9. October 5, 2011 2:24 pm

    Tony, thanks for sharing your insight and concerns.

    One of the things I find odd has to do with Driscoll. He has not been shy in the past of addressing theological problems of certain influential personalities i.e. William Young and “The Shack,” for instance. Jakes has been around much longer than “The Shack” and probably influences many more people. I find it curious that Driscoll would not have taken on atleast Jakes’ word of faith teachings in some capacity rather than invite him to a Christian venue.

    Anyway, thanks again, brother.

    - Your Metro neighbor

  10. W Wilson permalink
    October 5, 2011 5:46 pm

    Thank you for your insight, brother Carter.

    It is increasingly clear to me that the Gospel Coalition holds within its ranks many men who are welcome for their celebrity or the size of their churches. In its ranks there are many children playing who haven’t learned their ABCs, and they seem to have become theological and pastoral Peter Pans who simply refuse to grow up. While I don’t idolize men, and I don’t believe I see the past through rose-colored spectacles, I do ask what happened to the great men…the Edwards, Whitefields, Calvins, and so many others who, even as young men, knew what they were about doctrinally, and added to their doctrine the weight of their lives — dignity, purity, seriousness, a focus on God more than self. I am coming to the belief that the megachurch celebrity phenomena is a divine judgment on our land, not a sign of renewal in any sense.

    • Jeff Brown permalink
      October 6, 2011 7:48 pm

      I agree. Piper, incredibly, backs Warren. MacDonald and Driscoll invite Jakes. And when one of their own celebrities (minor division), C.J. Mahaney, gets into trouble, there is an instant defense from Mohler and Duncan, or total silence. Also, SGM sets up a meaningless, non-binding, “preliminary panel, made up of two GC people, DeYoung and Ray Ortlund, and Carl Trueman. Their verdict: Mahaney is “fit to pastor.” Meanwhile, there is a lot of information to process and Mahaney flees his church and his pastor and runs around giving sermons and attending conferences. Yes, Christian celebrities get special treatment, just as secular ones do.

  11. October 5, 2011 6:10 pm

    Thank you Pastor for your stand for doctrinal purity. I thought your last words most sobering, and thought the following quote from it should be highlighted in bold:

    “He is a smart man. You don’t get to his position being stupid. Therefore, I fear that by the end of the discussion, when all the rounds have been fired, and the dust has settled, the elephant in the room will be Mr. Jakes himself. He will be standing tall shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for giving him another platform on which to promote himself. No matter what is said, unless Jakes denounces his previous teachings or is exposed as a false teacher, it’s a win for team Jakes and a loss for those of us left to clean up after the elephant has done his business.”

  12. John permalink
    October 5, 2011 9:20 pm

    Yes, I agree that this last paragraph is a very likely outcome of the forum. However looking at this from different perspective, as a regular triune-God believing, Joe Christian. I am much morely likely to watch this with Jakes a part of it that I would be without. The idea of paying to hear of a bunch of men who essentially believe exactly the same thing sit around and talk about it doesn’t pique my interest. Add TD Jakes into the mix and I’m curious.

    Partly because I know he’s influential and I have always had a sense he teaches false doctrines but as a normal husband, father, employee, deacon, et al I don’t have time to investigate every popular teacher’s theology as a heresy hunter. Nor am I well equipped enough to sniff out every heresy. This forum, if done well, could provide me an opportunity to both learn some important truths about God AND expose some errors, both conspicuous and subtle, both specific to TD Jakes and for my evaluating of future teachers. Will it deliver? I don’t know, and perhaps this is not even the purpose of it.

    • January 26, 2012 5:04 pm

      The idea of paying to hear of a bunch of men who essentially believe exactly the same thing
      Are you saying Driscoll, Loritts, Furtick, Noble (last year), Macdonald, Ed Young Jr, etc all believe the same thing? Because if so then none of them are worth listening to even if it’s free. Furtick and Noble and Ed Young bring the level of theological discourse down to about junior high boys’ locker room. Oh I may as well throw Driscoll in there much of the time too, although he can actually be good when he stays away from the topic of what, in great detail, married people are allowed to do in the bedroom.

  13. Andy permalink
    October 6, 2011 5:24 am

    TD Jakes believes that Obama is a solid, saved, Bible-believing Christian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLQfPIdIn6o

  14. October 6, 2011 3:55 pm

    I see this as an issue of not having enough relationships with Black American Pastors; a sorrowful scar on the Gospel Coalition in my opinion. It’s even more disappointing that ER could not consider Thabiti, Voodie, or even Stephen Carter to have a seat at the table.

    I won’t go so far as to pull my race card out of my pocket, but my hand is reaching back.

    So I read that in order to show some multiethnic flare ER had to first look to a Mega Church pastor and that trumped any desire to remain biblically sound.

    • Steve permalink
      October 11, 2011 8:52 pm

      Richard, I am white and I am reaching for the back pocket as well! LOL! You have a good point.

  15. Anymouse permalink
    October 8, 2011 6:57 am

    Well, maybe Bishop Thomas Dexter Jakes will introduce Pastor Paula to the Elephant Room, and she can be a featured speaker at ER3. She would sure be nicer to look at.

    TD Jakes introduces his spiritual daughter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJB5cksboM4

  16. Steve permalink
    October 11, 2011 8:26 pm

    “As long as the people are being blessed who cares about trite doctrinal issues. God is bigger than that. Look at all the people who were baptized in his church this year. Look at the thousands who are coming and testifying to the power of God. Look at all the good he is doing. Look at how God is blessing his ministry.”

    The reason why T.D. Jakes is able to draw such a vast audience is because of the above mindset of many pastors and Christians. People tend to judge success by numbers, and if there is one thing T.D. Jakes has, it is numbers. Thousands of people support his ministry. Even Christians from non-prosperity preaching, Trinitarian churches listen to him because he appeals to the struggles that many blacks and even whites go through on a daily basis. So he is meeting the needs, or at least it appears so, of many who are seeking for purpose and fulfillment.

    Many will argue that an orthodox understanding the Doctrine of the Trinity is for Ivory Tower theologians. T.D. Jakes is not sitting in some Ivory Tower, no, he is bringing Jesus to the people and meeting their needs. Just look at the success. And that success is paying off very well for T. D. Jakes. Money, Media, and Multitudes. He has it all but at a price, and that price is Modalism.

    The Jesus that he is giving the people is not the Jesus of the Bible. It might appear to meet the needs of the people, and I am sure that there are many who actually have come to faith in the Jesus Christ through this ministry. We know that salvation belongs to the Lord and that God saves in spite of false teachers. But It is still another Jesus that T.D. is peddling to the masses. Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:24. Yet, Jesus never claimed to be the second manifestation of the Godhead. He claimed to be the Son of God, equal with the Father, sent by the Father, obedient to the Father. He never claimed to be the Father. Jesus did not teach Sabellianism or Patripassianism. Therefore the Jesus that he preaches about, sings about, writes about is not the Jesus of the Scriptures. It is another Jesus and therefore another Gospel.
    The most ironic thing about this whole fiasco is that Mark Driscoll who will be interviewing and speaking with T.D. Jakes is the founder of The Resurgence. And on the Resurgance website there is a section called “Know Your Heretics”. One of the heretics listed is Sabellius. smh!

    http://theresurgence.com/2010/06/22/sabellius-know-your-heretics

    I am just wondering why other members of the Gospel Coalition do not stand up and deal with this issue, especially when some of their own council members are involved?

  17. Steve permalink
    October 15, 2011 1:53 am

    Carle Trueman of Reformation 21 Quotes James McDonald on T.D. Jakes

    http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/09/is-nicene-christianity-that-im.php

    2: I do not agree that T.D. Jakes is a Modalist.

    I affirm the doctrine of the Trinity as I find it in Scripture. I believe it is clearly presented but not detailed or nuanced. I believe God is very happy with His Word as given to us and does not wish to update or clarify anything that He has purposefully left opaque. Somethings are stark and immensely clear, such as the deity of Jesus Christ; others are taught but shrouded in mystery, such as the Trinity. I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements that seek clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery. I do not require T.D. Jakes or anyone else to define the details of Trinitarianism the way that I might. His [Jakes'] website states clearly that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations.

    Here is James McDonald’s Revised Statement. Probably done after he removed the shoe leather from his mouth.

    http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=9055#commentList

    “2: I do not agree that T.D. Jakes is a Modalist. (Based on input I have gotten I have re-written this section for clarity)
    I affirm the doctrine of the Trinity as I find it in Scripture. I believe this doctrine is revealed in the Bible and accurately expressed in historic confessionalism. T.D. Jakes website states that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations which is modalist language. I am looking forward to hearing him explain his position currently and how that may have changed from things he has said historically. I am also excited to hear him state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring reformed world. I believe T.D. Jakes shows immense humility by being willing to step outside his own circles to interact with christian leaders and discuss his theology. Getting people together within the broadest spectrum of Christianity who don’t normally interact, is what the Elephant Room is all about. Talking about issues that separate with grace and truth is what the Elephant Room is all about. We are greatly honored that T.D. Jakes has agreed to participate.”

    Seems James McDonald is confused about the trinity and what he believes? He does not trace his beliefs to creedal statements, II believe this doctrine is revealed in the Bible and accurately expressed in historic confessionalism

    Whats with the back and forth? So what does James McDonald believe? Sounds strange coming from someone who is part of the Gospel Coalition. What’s up with the Gospel Coalition? Is T.D. Jakes going to join soon?

    • Despeville permalink
      October 15, 2011 2:29 am

      Here MacDonald eschews Christian creeds:

      “I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements that seek clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery.”

      Ans here MacDonald affirms it:

      “I believe this doctrine is revealed in the Bible and accurately expressed in historic confessionalism.”

      “I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements” few weeks of pressure changed that to: “accurately expressed in historic confessionalism.” Hmmm… This is rather clear flip flopping. The question is can the pastor with this platform and and sheep that listen to him afford to flip flop about the highest revelation of truth contained in the Scriptures and confessed by the Church for two millenniums?

      • January 26, 2012 12:24 pm

        Anthony, I’m not sure if you believe in the “gift of prophecy” or not, but this blog entry borderlines on real, actual evidence to its full operation in the Body of Christ today:)

        Blessings upon you, dear brother, and may God strengthen your hand to accomplish all He has for you in the days ahead.

  18. January 26, 2012 5:53 pm

    Oops sorry my reply above which suggested Ed Young was at ER II was in error. With Code Orange happening last weekend it all kind of got blurred together!

    • ajcarter permalink*
      January 26, 2012 6:00 pm

      That’s understandable :).

Trackbacks

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