Showing posts with label gospel coalition t.d. jakes the gospel coalition james macdonald harvest bible chapel mark driscoll mars hill elephant room trinity heresy modalism oneness pentacostalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gospel coalition t.d. jakes the gospel coalition james macdonald harvest bible chapel mark driscoll mars hill elephant room trinity heresy modalism oneness pentacostalism. Show all posts

Monday, January 30, 2012

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.

Friday, January 27, 2012

File this one under "Oh, the irony...."

Posted by Christine Pack

Video of James MacDonald rebuking the heretical theology of the Prosperity Gospel. What will his new BFF (Prosperity Gospel preacher T.D. Jakes) think??




 Additional Resources 


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