Tuesday, January 31, 2012

James MacDonald Plays the Race Card

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews

James MacDoanld with Eric Mason, Charles Jenkins and Bryan Loritts

James MacDonald posted a video today in which he gathered together three African American Christian pastors to discuss the fallout from his public embracing of heretic T.D. Jakes as a Christian brother. Below is a partial transcript of their conversation:
Bryan Loritts: "Some of the strongest reactions were African Americans in the blogosphere....um, I'll just go ahead and say it, who strike me as wanting so bad to be in the white theological world. And to take a little bit of a tangent here, and I'll get back, the loudest voices in the conservative evangelical world, in my estimation right now, are your older, white reformed voices. And so that implicitly sends the message that mature Christianity in the conservative evangelical world is 'older white.' And you've got some African Americans who so idolize that - what some people would call white idolization - that they then feel as if they've got to be the voice for black culture to speak against people like T.D. Jakes. So what happens is, you kind of prop them up. When the truth of the matter is, the term 'black' is very complex.......We're different, we're different. So my concern is, African Americans, a small minority speaking against Jakes, and then leveraging that in the white theological world for some of these older white theologians...." 
James MacDonald: "What would they be leveraging it for?" 
Bryan Loritts: "To fit into their circles...." 
James MacDonald: "Opportunity...?" 
Bryan Loritts: "We want to be in their circles. And so we'll allow ourselves to used as a puppet. That is my perception of some of this backlash."
TRANSLATION: If you are white and will not accept Modalist heretic T.D. Jakes as a brother in Christ, then you are racist. If you are black and will not accept TD Jakes as a brother, it is because you are being used as a puppet by the white reformed community. Our question: Is everybody okay with the race card being so blatantly played?

You can view part of the roundtable discussion below:



 Additional Resources 


Talk Show Host Chris Rosebrough Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room 2

Elephant Room Security on Lookout For Dangerous Persons

Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room 2 - Chris Rosebrough's Article

Elephant Room 2: May We Now Regard T.D. Jakes As Trinitarian and Orthodox?

Hypocrisy Reaches New Heights in The Elephant Room

Elephant Room 2 Claims First Acts 29 Casualty

Interview With A Former Oneness Pastor

Carl Trueman and the Elephant Room

A Measured Response to Bryan Crawford Loritts' Request for the Reformed Community to “Repent” of their Criticism of T.D. Jakes

File This One Under "Oh, The Irony...."

The Doctrine of the Trinity

Running Scared: Why Is The Elephant Room Afraid of Scrutiny

Even Better Than The Race Card

James MacDonald Resigns From The Gospel Coalition

A Church Breaks With James MacDonald's Harvest Bible Fellowship

A Review of T.D. Jakes Code Orange Sermon

Code Orange: Revival or Deception?

Why Is Oneness Pentecostalism Heresy?

James MacDonald Digs Deeper Hole For the Elephant Room

T.D. Jakes' Modalism is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes and Postmodern Obfuscation

Oneness-Pentecostals vs. Christians

Is Nicene Christianity That Important? An historical-ecumenical note

James MacDonald Slated to Speak at Counseling Conference where Reconciliation is Taught, Only A Few Days After Calling the Police to Have Fellow Believers Escorted Away from the Elephant Room 2 Conference

Article by Pastor Rob Willman (Rendering Truth blog), posted with permission 


When a pastor mentioned Philippians 4, most people immediately think of verse 6-7, which reads:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
But just TWO verses prior we have these beautiful words penned by Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Notice that sentence: ‘Let your gentle spirit be known to all men.

How beautiful is this command from the Lord!

God’s Word also lists gentleness, peace, and joy among the 9-part fruit of the spirit in Galatians.

Now that I’ve painted that Scriptural background, I want to bring to light the unfortunate incident that occurred last week. An explosive story broke concerning the ecumenical ‘Elephant Room’ conference and a couple of would-be attendees. You see, Chris Rosebrough (creator of Pirate Christian Radio and Fighting for the Faith) and Erin Benziger (Do Not Be Surprised blog) were both denied entry into the Elephant Room 2 conference on January 25th.

ER2 was hosted by James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church. You can read about it here and listen to Chris Rosebrough’s account of the events here. Chris Rosebrough was even threatened with arrest by Harvest Bible Chapel elder Jim Rowan.

Now friends, please remember that the very same James MacDonald gave speaker TD Jakes ‘a get-out-of-jail-free card’ when it came to questioning Jakes about his modalistic theology, and his aberrant beliefs concerning the Trinity.
According to the Elephant Room’s ‘About us page’:
The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently. (Online Source)
Is it just me or does it seem like the very actions by James MacDonald and crew are AT ODDS with the stated purpose of the Elephant Room?

These men are at odds with Scripture. Didn’t the Holy Spirit command us to let our gentle spirit be known to all men?

Why is James MacDonald willing to give the nod of approval to anti-Trinitarian TD Jakes, who preaches a false gospel (read about it here) and at the same time kicks Chris and Erin out of the Elephant Room conference?

They weren’t even at the main event, but at a satellite location where a live feed would broadcast the event. So that rules out the concern that somehow Chris Rosebrough and Erin Benziger were going to disrupt the ecumenical love-fest going on.

But wait! It gets even better.

Chris and Erin did receive a refund of their tickets to the event, but there has been no effort made to pay for their travel expenses. Instead, the men who ran this event allowed Chris and Erin to travel quite a distance even though MacDonald and crew KNEW they would be turned away.


And just when you though that it could be any more hypocritical, it appears that now James MacDonald is going to appear as a featured speaker at the Biblical Counseling Training Conference (BCTC) – 2012 (Source) at Faith Church.  The host church offers biblical counseling, and their Biblical Counseling page (Online Source) states:
First, we believe that the Bible, given by God, is sufficient for life in that, when properly interpreted, it reveals to the believer all the data necessary for one to understand his need for Christ, how he can please the Lord, and how to live in a god-honoring way regardless of the circumstances whether comfortable or oppressive.
So they believe that “Christians are to live in a God-honoring way… whether comfortable or oppressive.”

And for those people (like me) who believe words mean things, Faith Church links to the confessional statement of the Biblical Counseling Coalition in order to clarify their position on the importance of Biblical counseling.

Wouldn’t you know it, the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s statement on biblical counseling sounds surprisingly similar:
Biblical Counseling Must Be Directed toward Sanctification
We believe that wise counseling should be transformative, change-oriented, and grounded in the doctrine of sanctification (2 Corinthians 3:16-18; Philippians 2:12-13). The lifelong change process begins at salvation (justification, regeneration, redemption, reconciliation) and continues until we see Jesus face-to-face (1 John 3:1-3). (Online Source)
They believe in reconciliation. Amen! They should.

They promote sanctification, where the believer should be more Christ-like until Jesus returns. Amen to that too.
Yet James MacDonald (who hasn’t made any steps towards reconciliation with Chris Rosebrough or Erin Benziger) is one of the featured speakers.

I find it all mind-boggling. Let’s recap the sequence of events, shall we?
  • Elephant Room 2 conference happens. James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll are the hosts.
  • Chris Rosebrough and Erin Benziger are turned away at the door, with Chris threatened with arrest.
  • Meanwhile -  TD Jakes (still a modalist) gets an affirming nod from the ecumenical group inside, welcoming him as a fellow Trinitarian orthodox believer.
  • No apology or attempt at reconciliation is made towards Chris or Erin.
  • Similarly, Pastor Voddie Baucham declines a position in the Elephant Room 2, yet was slated to speak at the Men’s conference hosted by James MacDonald two days after the Elephant Room 2 ended. (Online Source)
  • James MacDonald apparently didn’t like Pastor Voddie’s statements on the Elephant Room (Online Source) and allowed Voddie to fly in for the conference before he met with him to discuss whether he would be able to speak at the Men’s Conference.
  • Voddie stated that “MacDonald had already made arrangements for a replacement speaker” when they had their meeting. (WOW!)
  • Voddie’s Facebook shows that he was given a ride back to the airport to catch a plane home.
  • James MacDonald is going to speak at Biblical Counseling Conference Feb 12-17th. This conference offers aNANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors) Track with exams.
  • NANC, Faith Church, and the Biblical Counseling Coalition all sound very solid and biblical.
I say all that to ask this key question:

How can James MacDonald take center stage as a keynote speaker at a Biblical Counseling event promoted by a church that supports sanctification, by a group (NANC) that supports reconciliation and God-centered sanctification, when James can’t even attempt such reconciliation himself?

I personally verified that Chris Rosebrough has not been contacted by James MacDonald or Mark Driscoll since he was drubbed at their pachyderm-smelling conference.

Couched in the framework of the Scriptures I mention above, please explain how James MacDonald is qualified to speak at a counseling event where the certification track (NANC) is all about reconciliation.

Which one of these is not like the other?


 Additional Resources 


Talk Show Host Chris Rosebrough Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room 2


Elephant Room Security on Lookout For Dangerous Persons


Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room 2 - Chris Rosebrough's Article


Elephant Room 2: May We Now Regard T.D. Jakes As Trinitarian and Orthodox?

Hypocrisy Reaches New Heights in The Elephant Room


Elephant Room 2 Claims First Acts 29 Casualty


Interview With A Former Oneness Pastor


Carl Trueman and the Elephant Room


A Measured Response to Bryan Crawford Loritts' Request for the Reformed Community to “Repent” of their Criticism of T.D. Jakes


File This One Under "Oh, The Irony...."


The Doctrine of the Trinity


Running Scared: Why Is The Elephant Room Afraid of Scrutiny


Even Better Than The Race Card


James MacDonald Resigns From The Gospel Coalition


A Church Breaks With James MacDonald's Harvest Bible Fellowship


A Review of T.D. Jakes Code Orange Sermon


Code Orange: Revival or Deception?


Why Is Oneness Pentecostalism Heresy?


James MacDonald Digs Deeper Hole For the Elephant Room


T.D. Jakes' Modalism is Just the Tip of the Iceberg


James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes and Postmodern Obfuscation


Oneness-Pentecostals vs. Christians


Is Nicene Christianity That Important? An historical-ecumenical note

Monday, January 30, 2012

T.D. Jakes: Through a Glass Blurrily

By Marcia Montenegro (Christians Answers For The New Age)
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
The Trinitarian God is revealed in God’s word and has been confessed by Christians throughout the centuries. And during that time, the Trinity has also been attacked and denied by many. Satan is always assailing the nature of God with a multitude of false teachings and heresies. The early anti-Trinitarians, such as Arius and Sabellius, were condemned as heretics.

 MODALISM 

Anti-Trinitarian beliefs are many and often differ drastically from each other. There are even variations within the same views. Modalism is only one of these anti-trinitarian teachings, and is also called “Oneness.” It is the belief that, instead of three Persons in the Godhead, God has three “modes:” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Modalists also use the word “manifestations.” A common statement of belief about God on the website of Oneness churches is that God “manifests as God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.” What is meant by this is that God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are but three aspects of one God; they are not co-existent. Jesus was the human side of God the Father, who is spirit. Modalism is, technically speaking, a unitarian view of God; that is, unitarian as opposed to Trinitarian.

Modalism is not always expressed the same way. For example, a modalist may not necessarily use the term “modes” or the label “modalist.”

 T. D. JAKES, THE “BISHOP” 

T. D. Jakes (born 1957) has been known as a modalist or “Oneness” minister. There is a lot of information supporting Jakes’ modalism, including the statement about God on his church’s website that uses the classic modalistic phrase about God in three manifestations. Jakes, who has no theological training, preached his first sermon at 19; was “licensed as a minister in the Church” at 20; and at age 23, planted his first church in West Virginia, a Oneness church (quote and other information from the Potter House website here).

Jakes' title of “Bishop” comes from the Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies (HGAAA), a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches. This title was given in recognition of his position as a prelate of this organization. According to the HGAAA website, Jakes gave several talks in 2011 sponsored by HGAAA and is listed as a speaker at this year’s upcoming “24th Annual Holy Convocation” in June 2012. His is listed in the HGAAA Directory as Vice-Prelate.


Jakes was invited this past January to be a speaker at a revival called Code Orange, held at a large evangelical church in Charlotte, NC, called Elevation, pastored by Steve Furtick. This event was disturbing for many Christians because Jakes, as a known Oneness follower, denies an essential of the faith and cannot be considered a brother in Christ. Furtick may have thought that Jakes had become a Trinitarian. However, if that had been the case, then it should have been announced. To give Jakes, a non-Trinitarian, a platform in a church violates 2 John 7-11.

 THE ELEPHANT ROOM INTERVIEW 

Not long after Code Orange, on Jan. 25, Jakes was the guest in what is called the “Elephant Room” (this is a meeting/interview event that has been somewhat controversial due to various reasons) to be interviewed by a well known Reformed pastor, James MacDonald, and pastor Mark Driscoll. MacDonald, in fact, had recently resigned from the Gospel Coalition, a group of Reformed pastors, due to disagreement over his invitation of Jakes to the Elephant Room (known this year as ER2).


This is the only transcript available at this point of the Elephant Room dialogue with Jakes.

My brief comments on this available interview (James MacDonald has posted on his blog that he had decided not to release the full transcript) follow.

Unclear/ambivalent statements by Jakes are bracketed by ==, followed by my comments:

==“But how they describe and explain the Godhead in a traditional oneness sense is very, very different from how Trinitarians describe the gospel.”==

COMMENT: This raises the question: Does this mean that Jakes thinks only the verbal description differs?

==“He is one God who expressed Himself in a plurality of ways.”==

COMMENT: This is a modalist statement.

==“There are distinctives between the working of the Holy Spirit - the moving of the Holy Spirit - and the work of Christ.”===

COMMENT: This is also modalist language. To express a distinction in the "workings" or functions of Jesus and the Holy Spirit indicates a difference in the operations of Jesus and the Spirit, not a distinction in the Persons. He has a similar statement later about God and the "workings" of the Son.

==“I don’t think anything that any of us believes fully describes who God is. And if we would ever humble down to admit that we in our finite minds cannot fully describe an infinite God.”==

COMMENT: Actually, God has revealed himself clearly as a Trinitarian God. Jakes in the past has used this ruse of how nobody can really know God, implying that a discussion of the Trinity is either unimportant or impossible. However, we can describe God according to what God has revealed to us about himself.

==“Three Persons. One God – Three Persons, . ..[ . . .] . . . I am not crazy about the word persons this is…most people who follow me know that that is really. My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word…”==

Driscoll: “manifestations”

Jakes: ==“Manifest instead of persons. Which you describe as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline.”==

COMMENT: It looks possibly like Jakes is equating "Persons" with "manifestations." If so, we are back to square zero with Jakes and the Trinity. Also, it is not “Pauline” to say God manifests as three persons. Jakes and other Oneness followers, in an effort to bolster their stance, point to scriptures such as 1 Tim. 2:10 and 3:16, Heb. 9:8, and 1 John 3:5 where the word “manifest” means to “appear” or “disclose.” However, these scriptures and the use of the word “manifest” in them have nothing to do with a belief that God is a being who takes on the role of three beings.

==“I think that it is important that we realize that there are distinctives between the Father and the working of the Son. The Father didn’t bleed, the Father didn’t die, only a different person in Jesus Christ…is coming back for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is with us, but only indwells us through the person of the Holy Spirit; we are baptized into the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think any of that is objectionable to any of the three of us. So that is consistent with my belief system.”==

COMMENT: A modalist could say that the Father didn’t bleed because he (he Father) was in the role of Jesus at the time of the cross, so it was Jesus who bled. So this is no affirmation of the Trinity. Also, saying that one is baptized “into the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit” could be said by a modalist. It is unclear what Jakes means by this. Is he referring to water baptism, which Oneness Pentecostals believe is necessary for salvation?

==“I’m with you. I have been with you. I teach/preach that all the time. There are many people within and outside quote unquote denominations labeled Oneness that would describe that the same way. There are some that would not. But when we get to know people by their labels, then comes all the baggage of how we define that label.”==

COMMENT: Jakes says that he's been teaching this all along! Yes, he has been teaching modalism all along. Jakes has never been on record affirming or teaching the Trinity; in fact, he has reacted negatively to questioning on the topic. If anything, this is an admission to Oneness beliefs.  He also plainly states that Oneness is not really different from Trinitarian, or at least he wants it to sound that way. He is also back to the “description” remark because for Jakes, it seems to be just a semantics issue. That is what he has said in the past about the difference between Trinitarian and non-Trinitarian views.

==“I still have fellowship, associations, relationship, and positions within and without Trinitarian and Onenness movements.”==

COMMENT: A Trinitarian can have a friendship, but not fellowship, with Oneness followers and modalists. Fellowship is only within the body of Christ. This statement is very revealing and indicates Jakes still doesn't get it, or is trying to blur the line between modalism and Trinitarianism, something many believe he has been doing for years.

 IF….. 

If Jakes has truly become Trinitarian, then he needs to relinquish his title of “Bishop,” make a clean break with the HGAAA, clearly affirm and teach the Trinity to his church, and renounce modalism. Jakes has been misleading his flock with false teaching for years (this includes the Word of Faith and prosperity gospel, which is another deeply problematic issue). I certainly allow for a small possibility of Jakes’ conversion to the true God, but until these outward evidences, we cannot declare Jakes a Trinitarian.

This event, judging by some defending the claim that Jakes is now a Trinitarian, has revealed either a crack in the knowledge about the Trinity amongst some Christian leaders, and/or an apathy to the Trinity. But if Christians do not get the nature of God right, we cannot truly preach the gospel. Like sheep, we tend to stray.

A reaffirmation of the Trinity and more teaching on it in churches would be a good result of this rather depressing affair. There is no salvation in modalism; it is false. Therefore, this is of utmost important because this is a salvation issue.

There is a link to the Athanasian Creed at the end of the links below. Please read it if you have never read it before.

 RESOURCES 

On the Jakes Interview:

Excellent interview of former Oneness pastor Jordan Dayoub who gives his views on Jakes, and whose insights are extremely instructive on this issue

Informative remarks by Daniel Neades on modalism, the Trinity, and the interview with T. D. Jakes, and why Jakes’ remarks are troubling

Minister Voddie Baucham who was invited to the ER2 interview with Jakes, on why he declined and why later he withdrew from speaking at a men’s conference sponsored by James MacDonald

On T. D. Jakes:

Concerns About the Teaching of T.D. Jakes

CARM - T.D. Jakes Articles

On the Trinity:

CARM - The Trinity

CARM - Early Trinitarian Quotes

Watchman.org (Put the word Trinity in search box at this link and links will come up to several articles)

On Oneness:

Watchman - Oneness-Pentecostalism

On Sabellianism and Modalism:

Basic Theology - Sebellianism

Got Questions? - Sebellianism - Modalism - Monarchianism

Sabellianism: Third and Twentieth Century Heresy

Basic Theology - Modalism

CARM - Modalism

Helpful Illustrations of Modalism

"Oneness Doctrine" (Jesus Only) vs. Trinitarianism

The Athanasian Creed, which affirms the Trinity

All That TBN Stuff Is Real, Right?

Posted by Christine Pack (with thanks to Daniel Neades)

From the 1972 Academy award winning documentary Marjoe, about the life of evangelist Marjoe Gortner. (NOTE: Some offensive language)

Oneness Pentecostalism, and How "Evil" Isn't Always Obvious

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews (with thanks to Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries)


In light of the uproar over the acceptance of Oneness Modalist T.D. Jakes as a keynote speaker during the Elephant Room's recent gathering, we're posting the videos below which feature a debate held in 1985 between Christian apologetics writer Dr. Walter Martin and Oneness Pentecostal pastor Nathaniel Urshan and Robert Sabin. We would like to also point out the curious fact that, in our experience, many of our fellow Christians don't seem to understand that they can be deceived, and that in fact, the Bible gives warning after warning after warning to Christians to take care that they are not deceived. And that's perhaps one of the most peculiar characteristics of deception.......it doesn't feel like deception. Well, isn't that kind of the whole point of deception? It's not called "Parading In Waving A Flag Stating Its Evil Intent," now is it?

For the record. Deception, by its nature, is designed to confuse, to trick, to ensnare, though in its outward appearance it will often appear beguiling. And when deception happens, let's be discerning enough to recognize that it's not going to be like in the movies: Green smoke won't start oozing under the door and spooky music won't start playing. Heretics will typically not be foaming at the mouth, hostile and half- crazy, charging in and demanding that everyone immediately renounce Christianity. In fact, heretics will often be gentlemanly, likable chaps, and will quote plenty of Scripture, as evidenced in the videos below. You can witness this type of reasoning in the transcript of Session #7 of the Elephant Room 2, where James MacDonald discusses initially being concerned about Bill Hybels, Mark Driscoll, and Steven Furtick; but he explains that once he talks with them and realizes they are all swell, likable guys, all concern is gone. Apparently the same thing happened concerning T.D. Jakes. In our opinion, ER2 misnamed this particular breakout session "We Can Work It Out;" when instead (and still staying with the hip and culturally savvy Beatles motif) that session should have been rightfully named "All You Need Is Love." Does it not seem like the visible church has made the same decision, that "All you need is love"? That nobody can or should challenge doctrine? And that we should all, in the name of "love," rush pell mell into false unity with heretics?

Fellow Christians, please suit up in your spiritual armor, and please take to heart the many scriptural warnings against being deceived. Niceness is not our measure for truth, God's Word is. Whatever is claimed or taught in the name of God must always be held up to the actual Word of God, and studied in context. Let's remember that when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, he did not make up lies....no, he quoted straight Scripture. Only, the Scripture was taken out of context.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” (Satan, quoting from Psalm 91:11,12)
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:5-7)


(NOTE: The videos above are only 4 segments of a 27 part series. The rest of the series can be found on YouTube.)


 Additional Resources 

Interview With A Former Oneness Pastor

Carl Trueman and the Elephant Room

A Measured Response to Bryan Crawford Loritts' Request for the Reformed Community to “Repent” of their Criticism of T.D. Jakes

File This One Under "Oh, The Irony...."

Talk Show Host Chris Rosebrough Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room II

Elephant Room Security on Lookout For Dangerous Persons

Elephant Room II: May We Now Regard T.D. Jakes As Trinitarian and Orthodox?

Hypocrisy Reaches New Heights in The Elephant Room

Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room II - Chris Rosebrough's Article

Elephant Room 2 Features Trinity Denier T.D. Jakes As A Keynote Speaker

The Doctrine of the Trinity

Running Scared: Why Is The Elephant Room Afraid of Scrutiny

Even Better Than The Race Card

James MacDonald Resigns From The Gospel Coalition

A Church Breaks With James MacDonald's Harvest Bible Fellowship

A Review of T.D. Jakes Code Orange Sermon

Code Orange: Revival or Deception?

Why Is Oneness Pentecostalism Heresy?

James MacDonald Digs Deeper Hole For the Elephant Room

T.D. Jakes' Modalism is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes and Postmodern Obfuscation

Oneness-Pentecostals vs. Christians

Is Nicene Christianity That Important? An historical-ecumenical note

ER2 Q&A with a Former Oneness Pastor

Article by Richard Barcellos (reprinted with permission, Grace Reformed Baptist Fellowship)




I (Richard Barcellos) have invited my friend Jordan Dayoub to answer some questions about the recent Elephant Room 2 discussion between T. D. Jakes, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald. There are two reasons why I chose to do this: first, there are some folks in our church-plant with Oneness Pentecostal backgrounds and second, Jordan is a former Oneness pastor. So, here it goes.
RB: Jordan, can you describe your history with Oneness Pentecostalism?
JD: I was born into the movement. My parents were hippies in Los Angeles during the 1960s (my father raised a Roman Catholic and my mother born and raised a Jew), met a Oneness Pentecostal minister, embraced the theology in 1968, and started attending a Oneness congregation in South Los Angeles. The year I was born my father was ordained as a minister in the church we attended. At 18 years old I felt the call to preach and teach, attended Bible College and was later licensed as a minister in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). My wife and four children were discipled in the movement as well. We were very involved. My father planted a church and I became his youth pastor and eventually took over as the senior pastor. Like many heterodox groups, we believed we alone had the true gospel.
RB: How and why did you get out of it?
JD: Oneness Pentecostals refer to themselves as Apostolics and teach that the movement is a faithful representation of ante-Nicene apostolic Christianity. I began to study church history and historical theology and it became evident this claim was false. Our view on the godhead, expressed by sects like the Modalists, was roundly condemned by the early church. From that point forward I started earnestly praying for truth. The Holy Spirit led me to books, magazines, and publications by faithful orthodox and reformed theologians.
RB: What was it like believing what you had been taught (and what you taught) for so many years was wrong and what did you do once you came to orthodox convictions about the Trinity and other matters?
JD: Revolting from the Oneness movement and embracing biblical orthodoxy was complex. My initial reaction was a deep feeling of betrayal. On the one hand, I felt I was betrayed by the pastors and leaders who should have known and taught me better, I felt I was lied to. On the other hand, I felt I was betraying all that I had ever known, believed, and loved. There were family, friends, and
close relationships at stake. There was quite a bit of cognitive dissonance going on. I didn’t start with the Trinity. I first dealt with the idea of grace alone and the implications of the five solas. The Oneness understanding of the godhead (that God is not personified but manifest in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that God really is just one person who takes on different modes) was the sacred cow and I avoided it at first. I dared not remove it without a firm grip on the alternative. It was difficult but once I saw how biblical the doctrine of the Trinity was, I also realized how unbiblical and false Oneness theology was.
RB: Did you hear (or read) the discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity between T. D. Jakes, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald and what was your over-all impression of that discussion?
JD: I read the article and even saw a clip on YouTube. Here’s the problem. Driscoll and MacDonald let him expound on his own views and experiences and I know it was in a spirit of love. What they’re unable to detect, because they’re unfamiliar, is the ecumenical smokescreen that big-time prosperity preachers like Jakes put up because he really cares nothing for theology. If you listen closely, his entire discourse is centered on denominational identities and bridging the divide. He says he was Metho-Baptist-Pentecostal because of his upbringing. He sees theology simply as petty divisions among varying tribes of Christian sects. Because he sees himself as a ‘bridge builder’, doctrine is merely semantics among those who profess Christ. He told them he believed in ‘God in three persons’ but never called himself a Trinitarian. His position today is exactly what it was 15 years ago – vague.
RB: Do you think it’s important to contextualize T. D. Jakes’ ER2 statements or should we take him at face-value, infusing meaning acceptable to the orthodox position on the Trinity into what he said? What I’m getting at is this: Do you think knowing what you know about Jakes and Oneness theology helps you understand him better than others might be able to who have no long history in his thought-world?
JD: Coming from the movement myself, I can understand this man’s words in ways most people can’t. There are two types of Oneness Pentecostals. There are the hardcore, doctrinally dogmatic types who care nothing for popularity or mega-church growth. These openly assert Oneness theology and declare the doctrine of the Trinity as heresy (from their viewpoint) and an aberration of
the apostles’ doctrine. They are not out to make friends but win people over to what they see as the true gospel. They are genuine and sincere though totally wrong and if ever converted they would make great Trinitarians. The other type (like Jakes) have adopted the seeker-sensitive approach which really guides all that they do. They are out to be successful, sell books, buy TBN time slots, and gain a national following. They see success as the end-game which justifies any and all means. That model is above all things, including truth or doctrinal purity. They see their small Oneness church pastor colleagues and know that it is precisely Oneness doctrine that keeps their congregations from growing and decide to abandon theology altogether. Anything that divides people they avoid no matter how central a tenet of Christian doctrine it is. They become de facto prosperity preachers because weak Christians enjoy hearing man-centered sermons that speak to their itching ears.
RB: Do you think asking for definitions of words like “manifest” and “person” is important and why in the case of Jakes?
JD: By insisting to use the word “manifest” instead of “person” he was able to save face with his large Oneness following. It was an important distinction made that his interviewers could not appreciate.
RB: What questions would you have liked the ER2 men to ask Jakes on the Trinity?
JD: If you are a Trinitarian, why don’t you teach it to your congregation seeing it is so central to Christian dogma? You said your understanding of the godhead has been in transition, when you finally reach the end of your journey of understanding regarding the Trinity, will you openly teach it and renounce modalism as false like the early church did? Are you willing to risk losing members for that truth? Those are the questions I would have asked.
RB: Do you think they should have asked him questions about the prosperity gospel?
JD: Yes. In the last 20 years, Oneness churches have witnessed the tremendous successes of the prosperity gospel movement and largely adopted their mode of operation. In many scenarios they have effectively merged the two but the latter has swallowed up the former. T. D. Jakes’ unorthodox view on the godhead is just the tip of the iceberg. He is a prosperity preacher through and through. Men like Jakes see theological nuance as labels and baggage. He, along with many other successful mega-church CEO pastors, play both sides of the fence because it’s expedient and he doesn’t want to alienate anyone and that’s what he sees as valuable, not identifying absolute truth and exposing false doctrine.
RB: Assuming the best and that Jakes now affirms the orthodox view of the Trinity, if you were Mark Driscoll would you have asked him if he was going to publically recant for teaching damning heresy for so long?
JD: Yes. If he truly affirms an orthodox view of the Trinity, he must repent of his former teaching. The two views are totally incompatible.
RB: Elaborate on the practical implications of moving from modalism to the orthodox view in terms of Jakes’ church and world-wide impact. In other words, what would you do if you were T. D. Jakes and you now hold to the orthodox view of the Trinity after confusing so many people for such a long time?
JD: If I were Jakes, I would start to teach the Bible. That may sound like an oversimplification but men like Jakes may use the Bible every Sunday but don’t really teach it. I would start there.
RB: Comment on the following tweet I saw the other day: “The way Jakes played MacDonald & Driscoll, you could say Bishop took two pawns.”  Why do you think the tweeter said that?
JD: Jakes quickly neutralized their objective questions with a bit of reverse psychology. MacDonald and Driscoll, who came to ER2 thinking the issue was doctrine, were very quickly routed by the Bishop, and before long they were talking about unity. It is always tempting to abandon our pursuit of doctrinal purity for church unity.
RB: On your Face Book page, you said, “Jakes’ chair was certainly no hot seat for he is an expert in vagueness and unfortunately they were charmed by his charisma.” Explain what you mean.
JD: He has capitalized on his cult of personality. His speaking skills, social diplomacy, and celebrity status can be overwhelming. He is a master at saying a lot without saying a lot. He is also a very likable fellow and the 30,000 Texans who make up his congregation are proof that theological ambiguity can fill a church building. I have been to conventions where he was the main speaker and have seen multitudes swoon over him. Driscoll and MacDonald were easy pickings.
RB: What would you say to folks who may be confused about ER2 and the discussion with Jakes?
JD: It may come as a surprise but men like T. D. Jakes are not epistemologically self-conscious. By that I mean that they spend so much time on motivating speech and platitudes that they’ve given very little time or thought to expound why they believe what they believe. They have reduced their doctrinal expressions to harmless sound-bytes intended to offend the least amount of people possible, and this is why he could neither call himself a Trinitarian nor fully renounce Oneness.
RB: Jordan, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. This has been very helpful.
JD: You’re very welcome.
RB: I plan on posting a brief piece on the Trinity tomorrow.


 Additional Resources 

A Measured Response to Bryan Crawford Loritts' Request for the Reformed Community to “Repent” of their Criticism of T.D. Jakes

Carl Trueman and the Elephant Room

Talk Show Host Chris Rosebrough Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room II

Elephant Room Security on Lookout For Dangerous Persons

Elephant Room II: May We Now Regard T.D. Jakes As Trinitarian and Orthodox?

Hypocrisy Reaches New Heights in The Elephant Room

Threatened With Arrest At The Elephant Room II - Chris Rosebrough's Article

Elephant Room 2 Features Trinity Denier T.D. Jakes As A Keynote Speaker

The Doctrine of the Trinity

Running Scared: Why Is The Elephant Room Afraid of Scrutiny

Even Better Than The Race Card

James MacDonald Resigns From The Gospel Coalition

A Church Breaks With James MacDonald's Harvest Bible Fellowship

A Review of T.D. Jakes Code Orange Sermon

Code Orange: Revival or Deception?

Why Is Oneness Pentecostalism Heresy?

James MacDonald Digs Deeper Hole For the Elephant Room

T.D. Jakes' Modalism is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes and Postmodern Obfuscation

Oneness-Pentecostals vs. Christians

Is Nicene Christianity That Important? An historical-ecumenical note

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Measured Response to Bryan Crawford Loritts' Request for the Reformed Community to “Repent” of their Criticism of T.D. Jakes

Article by Daniel Neades (reprinted in full with permission from the Better Than Sacrifice blog)

In a piece entitled, ‘Reformed Crowd Asked to Repent for Attacking TD Jakes’, the Christian Post reports that Elephant Room participant, Bryan Crawford Loritts, is ‘asking the Reformed community to “repent” of their harsh criticism and one-sided attacks on Bishop T.D. Jakes in regards to his beliefs about the Godhead’.
The Post reports:
To the adjunct professor at Crichton College, those “gospel centered” people elevated love for doctrine over love for people. His words for them were this: “Your conduct is out of step with the gospel,” referring to Apostle Paul’s words to Peter in Galatians 2 when he avoided the Gentiles only when he was around the Jews.
Loritts has apparently failed to understand that it is because we love people – including T.D. Jakes himself – that we want to be sure that they are neither inadvertently trusting in a non-Trinitarian god of their own imagination, nor being deceived by a false prosperity gospel, such as the one Jakes preaches. Loritts uncharitably judges the inward thoughts and intents of his opponents.
Revealingly, in his application of Galatians 2, Loritts has cast himself as the Apostle Paul. Some might think that his seeming lack of concern for the integrity of the Gospel better suits him to the role of Peter.
Loritts also advised the “middle aged white Reformed guys” to be extremely careful of the messages they sent, both implicit and explicit.
The age and skin colour of those questioning Jakes’ beliefs and teaching is irrelevant. In fact, those men and women expressing concern represent a broad spectrum of the Church, including Baptists and Confessional Lutherans, as well as the Reformed. Loritts here is merely engaging in an ad hominem attack, mischaracterizing the Elephant Room’s many opponents as originating from a narrow clique. He also sows the utterly unfounded idea that latent racism may be motivating those with whom he disagrees. This disgraceful tactic merely highlights the intellectual and doctrinal poverty of his own diaphanous arguments.
The Post continues:
Though he was not accusing anyone of racism, he found that the “Reformed crowd’s” actions (refusing to come to the Elephant Room event or having an honest dialogue) sent an implicit message to the public – “theological bigotry.”
If Loritts is not accusing anyone of racism, why does he even mention it? Again, he is transparently engaged in the desperate antics of those feeling the quicksand of their own position rapidly dissolve beneath their own feet.
Loritts also seems to have conveniently forgotten that independent apologists endeavoured to attend the Elephant Room but, despite having reserved tickets in advance, were refused entry and, in one case, even threatened with arrest. It is the organizers of the Elephant Room who have proven themselves unwilling to engage in honest dialogue. And, by his baseless personal attacks, Loritts himself demonstrates the very fault that he ascribes to those with whom he disagrees.
Loritts is apparently unmoved by the informed and reasoned assessment of scholars such as Dr. James White, who declared on Twitter:
McDonald [sic], Driscoll, etc., showed such disrespect to the Trinity and Church History that they did not even ask the most basic questions.
White later devoted an hour of his popular Dividing Line webcast to scrutinizing Jakes’ statements at the Elephant Room.
Dr. Carl Trueman, Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, likewise gave his assessment of what White called the ‘MacDonald/Driscoll disaster’:
This request that we ask hard questions in the right venue, and consider the ER to have signally failed in this regard, will no doubt evince cries of ‘Hey, hater!’ from some quarters. That is apparently the standard reaction now when anyone questions the actions of a successful pastor of a large church. If, however, we take true doctrine seriously, then surely we will see false teaching for what it is: soul destroying. Reflect on a parallel situation for a moment: let us say that, week after week, I see a congregant’s wife with a black eye and an arm covered in cuts and bruises; eventually I ask her husband, ‘Did you do that?’ to which he says ‘No, I abhor violence and despise the sort of people who beat their wives’; in such circumstances, is it unloving, Pharisaical or hateful of me to press the question a little further? I think not. Indeed, failure so to do would be moral delinquency of the highest order. To press the matter is actually responsible pastoring. The same thing applies with those whose public teaching seems to be deviant. It is not hateful to press the hard questions, and to do so with appropriate competence and in a suitable context; rather, it is right and necessary. (Source)
In a pithy blog post, Tom Chantry, pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, and Elephant Room attendee, gave his assessment of Jakes’ performance:
Jakes masterfully deconstructs the entire practice of theology. Don’t be fooled by the panel members who insist that he affirmed the Trinity. What he did was say, “I’m Trinitarian so long as I am free to express it in Sabelian terms.” He repeatedly insisted that Oneness folks and Trinitarian folks are all saying the same thing. He dismissed the question as secondary – not worth division among the people of Christ, among whom he clearly counts the Oneness churches. Once he has deconstructed the very idea of systematic theology, he can affirm anything. So yes, he answered “absolutely” or “yeș” to each and every one of Driscoll’s questions, but what does that mean? Not much.
The Elephant Room débutantes’ ball has seen the public emergence of pachydermism, the belief that clearly defined and defended sound doctrine is harmful to Christian unity. This lethal disease contrasts sharply with the Biblical doctrine that true unity of faith arises from a shared understanding of the objective truth taught by Scripture (cf. Ephesians 4).
In fact, there have been very few, if any, attacks upon T.D. Jakes himself – I am aware of none. Rather, it is his belief and teaching that have been subject to intense scrutiny. Pachydermism is regrettably characterized by its inability to distinguish between improper attacks upon a person, and the legitimate comparison with Scripture of what a person believes, teaches and confesses.
In a Facebook discussion of the Christian Post article, Pastor Gervase Charmley, minister at Bethel Evangelical Free Church, Stoke on Trent, UK, and perhaps best known for his ‘good sermons’ featured on the Fighting for the Faith Internet radio programme, gave this assessment:
I would say “Woe unto them who say ‘peace, peace’ where there is no peace.” Because that’s what MacDonald and co. are doing, saying that there is peace where there isn’t any.
Yes, the criticism of Jakes has been substantive and doctrinal, not ad hominem. What has been criticised is what the chap has said and not said, not the colour of his shirt, or even the style of his preaching. It is disgraceful to characterise it as personal attack, though not in the least surprising.
One of the effects of Postmodernism is the loss of the ability to actually engage in meaningful conversation; by saying that all positions are equally true we are left with only one avenue of criticism – the personal attack. And that is where you are left by the compromise of the Elephant Room. You can only accuse of ad hominem, while using ad hominem yourself (the implied accusation of racism, for example).
If anyone asked me what I believe about the Trinity, I would be able to point to multiple sermons addressing the question, and historic credal statements that express my beliefs. When someone can’t, we have a problem. No one in public ministry should leave any doubts about their views on the Trinity. Who God is happens to be extremely important.
Loritts’ call for repentance amounts to asking Reformed, Lutheran, Baptist, Confessional Anglicans, and other Christians, to repent for caring about the doctrine of the Trinity and for objecting to Jakes’ false prosperity gospel. Loritts is asking sincere Christians to repent for loving sufficiently so as to be willing to speak the truth, even when it is unwelcome and contrary to the prevailing spirit of the age.
The critics of the Elephant Room have presented substantive, carefully argued and Biblical critiques of what occurred, rooted in the creeds and confessions of the historic orthodox Christian Faith. The defenders of Elephant Room, like Loritts, are able to respond with nothing other than tawdry personal attacks and unfounded slurs and insinuations. It is Loritts who should repent of his reprehensible accusations, and he who, along with James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, ought to repent for participating in the Great Doctrinal Downgrade of which pachydermism is the herald.
May the Lord open their eyes and grant them repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His Son, who died that even these sins might be forgiven. May He grant us all the grace to speak the truth in love to one another, that we may ‘grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.’ (Eph. 4:15–16)
Readers may also be interested in my earlier coverage of T.D. Jakes and The Elephant Room 2:

POSTSCRIPT

The term pachydermism was inspired by the title of my friend Erin Benziger’s post, This ‘n’ That – Pachyderm Edition.

UPDATE

The Christian Post article was apparently based upon this blog post by Loritts.