The Elephant Wins
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.