The second round of the Elephant Room has come and gone. But as avid blog readers know, the debate surrounding the wisdom or folly of the event continues. This one may have bigger ramifications that most quick-a-minute Christian controversies.

I won’t recap all the posts out there. Justin Taylor, as usual, has a good round up of the events and a sharp analysis. Thabiti’s post from several months ago was courageous and worth reading again, as is Voddie’s piece from a few days ago. D.A. Carson is working on some reflections for later this week. Be sure to look for those too.

Hesitations

I have hesitated to write about the Elephant Room for several reasons: (1) I know James MacDonald and have always had good interactions withhim in the past. Until recently, we were both TGC council members. (2) Many others have already commented on the event and more commentary continues to pour out. I don’t need to say something about everything. (3) I have not been eager to keep this controversy going. Like many others, I was hoping this would blow over, like yesterday.

But it hasn’t. Perhaps, then, yet another set of reflections is warranted. I’m not writing to pile on. I’m not writing because controversy is fun. I don’t think I’ve ever dared to be critical just for kicks. In every instance over the past years when I’ve weighed in on some book or blog post or poem or doctrine, it’s been because people around me are struggling with or are confused about these things. As someone who has entered into the fray from time to time I now worry that my silence on any particular controversy says to some people that I have no problem with whatever the latest problem is. The reality is I simply don’t have time to write on everything, nor do I even know about all the issues out there. And if I did, it would not be good for my soul or yours if I commented on every one of them. I skip over most things and only weigh in when it seems like people I know would be helped to hear from me or if my position suggests that I should.

I believe the Elephant Room fits into that second category. As you can imagine, this has been a difficult situation for TGC. As one of their bloggers and as a council member I think saying nothing at this point makes things worse instead of better. It can give the impression of tacit consent or fumbling acquiescence.

So here are my thoughts on ER2, in no particular order and with no particular effort to be original.

Reflections

1. The event was not framed in the right way. There have been several iterations of the event’s stated purpose, but at various stages the Elephant Room was described as brothers getting together in a spirit of unity. It was originally billed as an opportunity for Christian leaders who agree on the gospel to get in the same room and talk about the things that threaten to divide us. I think it’s fair to say one of the aims all along has been to show how Christians are too quick to separate and too slow to listen to each other and learn from each other. The set up from the get go presumed a certain level of agreement and camaraderie that seemed unwise to many of us. If the conference had been pitched as religious leaders talking about hard questions, that would have been great. Bring in Mormons and Muslims and Liberals and everyone else. But that’s not the train that left the station several months ago.

2. Private discussion would have been better than public. I don’t have any problem with conservative Christians befriending those outside our circles. We ought to do it more often. Go share a meal. Pick up the phone. Try to learn. Try to influence. That’s fantastic. We should all hope that Jakes is won over to better and deeper theology. We should be thankful for all the private conversations that may proliferate as a result of this get together. I sympathize with those who want face-to-face conversation, unity in the church, and the allowance for people to change. But this doesn’t mean a hyped-up conference was the best way to kick things off. The discussion didn’t have to begin under the bright lights with promo videos and registration fees and all the rest. I think the intent was honorable, but prudence was lacking.

3.  Why didn’t anybody talk to T.D. Jakes about his prosperity gospel? His views on the subject are well known. You can find them with little trouble by picking up his books or watching his sermons on You Tube. I know people can point to good things Jakes has done-almost everyone has done some good things. But the health-wealth-blessing theology is unbiblical and anti-gospel. It has deceived many. True, in starting a relationship with someone you probably won’t venture into the most controversial topics at the first meeting. But then the first meeting (or close to the first) shouldn’t have been hosted in this way. The failure to bring up this critical issue undermined the whole stated purpose of the event. And if the topic was too sensitive to bring up when you are still building the relationship, then that relationship wasn’t ready to be advertised and televised for the public to see. Again, working up to that in private would be wise. Avoiding the topic in a public forum like this was a big misfire.

4. The questions on the Trinity were not strong enough or careful enough. People can continue to debate whether Jakes is or is not a Modalist, but the fact that we don’t know what he now believes underscores the problem. He was not pressed to make his language and commitments precise. On the one hand, we should not assume the worst about people, even about their theology. On the other hand, surely those of us who rightly care about robust orthodoxy are interested in more than checking off the right boxes. I’m not at all convinced Jakes understands or affirms orthodox Trinitarianism. But even if he meant to do so at the Elephant Room, the issue was not pressed far enough. Saying yes to the right formulations is one thing, but on something as fundamental as the Trinity, we ought to be concerned that a pastor celebrates and promotes the doctrine with passion and joy. We want to know that these core doctrines animate, infuse, and inform our pastoral ministry. We want to see that brothers understand the negation of what they affirm and are willing to guard the flock against these errors. And if someone is espousing a new position or a fuller understanding of the truth, it’s fair to know how they intend to correct previous mistakes and how their ministry will change as a result. These aren’t egghead, nitpicking questions. They get to the heart of the Christian faith and the essence of pastoral ministry.

5. While the efforts of James and the others may have been to correct Jakes or draw him out, I fear that the result of his participation is to make his ministry seem safer than it is. For those who think we need more of the preaching and theology and influence of T.D. Jakes, you will simply disagree with this point. But for those who believe his influence has been detrimental to the church, we should not want to give the impression that Jakes is basically pretty solid. If he’s changed his approach and his theology on a whole bunch of things, or if he can be influenced for good, then let’s wait and see if the gold pans out. Surely caution is in order. Though the desire to build a relationship is good, we underestimate the effect that celebrating this event, and Jakes’ contribution in it, has in giving an implicit “all clear” to someone whose influence until now has been far from salutary.

6. There is a painful racial dimension to the Jakes controversy that is difficult to untangle. I’m not going to wade into all the discussion of motivation and what perspective more closely represents the African American church. But I will say this, and with deep regret: I was taken aback when one African American brother graciously pointed out to me, and a number of other whites, that he was sad to see so many of us quick to criticize Rob Bell (and rightly so he said) but silent on the devastating ministry of T.D. Jakes. It felt like a lack of concern for the many African American brothers who—out of love for the gospel and for the Lord Jesus—are laboring faithfully to lay a better theological foundation in the black church than men like T.D. Jakes have given. My friend was right. I wrote about Rob Bell because literally almost every person I knew was asking about it (which wouldn’t be true in an African American context). I didn’t think to talk about Jakes because I don’t know people in my circles who pay him any attention. Looking back, I regret that I did not do more to speak more directly about the Elephant Room and the serious mistake in inviting T.D Jakes to share the platform in this way. Granted, the situation was more complicated because James was hosting it and I consider him a friend and a brother on the same team. The situation seemed to call for private conversations more than public statements. There were many of the former, which was right and proper. But I see now more of the latter were also necessary.

7. We need a more careful theology of criticism. There are several observations all Christians should be able to agree on, even if they sometimes pull us in opposite directions. (1) Let’s not assume the worst about people. (2) Let’s not shame those who aren’t immediately credulous when someone with a history of bad thinking says something that could be construed as maybe okay. (3) Let’s be very cautious in assigning motive. (4) Let’s not take everything personally or make everything personal. (5) Let’s not get our kicks from criticizing others and mucking around in controversy. (6) Let’s avoid facile condemnations of all criticism, realizing that the statement itself is a criticism and the Bible is full of heroes who had a lot of bones to pick. (7) Let’s accept that in this fallen world only the Lord can fully sort some things out and we don’t have go twelve rounds in every conflict.

So praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—one God in three persons—for loving me despite so many mistakes, for loving the glory of his name above all things, and for loving the church even more than we do. Let’s pray he brings good out of these hard times.

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127 thoughts on “Seven Thoughts on the Elephant Room and T.D. Jakes”

  1. Christian
    Can we, first of all, make it clear that we were mainly concerned with some of the comments on Justin’s thread, and not by anything that you have said.
    We know very little about James MacDonald; but we do know that a person can make a very serious mistake for the best of reasons. So we think that critiques should be confined to the effects of ER2, and should not speculate about the motivations that lay behind it. That is between Pastor MacDonald, his elders, and their congregations.

    G&N

  2. It is important to note that ER2 provides some theological and spiritual opportunities. For example, we could reflect on the nature of “Mere Christianity”.
    It is interesting that Pastor MacDonald used “The Gospel” and not Creeds or Confessions as a basis for inclusion in the Elephant Room. This led to Mr Jakes involvement. It would be inconsistent for TGC bloggers and commentators to criticise him on this point, when we have endured “Gospel Centred” Marriage advice and “Gospel Centred” dieting.
    Unfortunately for the latest buzz words The Gospel presupposes a wider set of theological truths (Theism for one!) and is embedded in a wider set of genres and themes in the Scriptures (Wisdom, Law, Ethical discourses, and so forth.) There is not less to Christianity, but there is, surely, more.
    We are not confessionalists in that we do not feel bound by on Confession. Yet the Confessions are not only a source of wisdom and knowledge. We consider ourselves to be “Mere Christians” and evangelicals. As Alvin Platinga has put it, “Mere Christianity” is the intersection of the great Creeds and Confessions. Now being a “Mere Christian”, in the sense of affirming the intersection of the Creeds, is not necessary or sufficient to being a Christian (as conversion is essential). But neither is being a Pastor of a Mega Church necessary or suffcient to being a true Christian.
    So it seems wiser to use “Mere Christianity” as a guide to orthodoxy. In other words, we should be talking to those who are closest to us in substance, not in style. ECT is more appropriate, then, than ER2. Yet we imagine that ECT would be more controversial in YRR circles. This presents a problem.

    ER2 has also focused our attention on the importance of the Trinity. Some commentators seem to agree with Pastor MacDonald’s initial assessment; that Mr Jakes only fault is that he does not use the words of an antiquated creed. But ER2 gives us an opportunity to focus on the importance of the Trinity for Christian thought.
    The reality of the persons seems to be central to Christianity. Calvin might have preferred the term “subsistence”, but this was to avoid the appearance of Tri-theism. If Father Son and Spirit have not been in “I-Thou” relationships from eternity past, love has not existed for all eternity. We down-grade the importance of love if we abandon Nicea.
    This means that we redefine the goodness of God, which is based on his loving nature; this has ethical implications. We empty John 3 v 16 of its significance; what value is there in giving a “manifestation” for the world? As we have stated elsewhere, the entire Christian world-view turns on Trinitarianism. Christian experience (as described in Galatians 4 v6) demands Trinitarianism; mere manifestations cannot cry “Abba”. And there cannot be any coherent doctrine of reconciliation if the Trinity is merely three manifestations.
    Mr Jakes appeal to “Mystery”, and the apparent approval of commentators is worrying. Nicea and Chalcedon were meant to protect the mystery. They prevented the speculation that worries Mr Jakes. Yet Nicea and Chalcedon also affirmed that we can have some knowledge of who God is and what God has done. The value of revelation is affirmed and protected by the Creeds. They were never intended as a replacement for Scripture.
    So ER2 allows us to reflect on Trinitarianism, Christian unity, the importance of the Creeds and Confessions, the nature of theology and preaching and the love of God.
    Something good and important might yet grow out of ER2. Perhaps not what Pr MacDonald intended; perhaps not what the Pyromaniacs are lobbying for. God might have a different plan entirely. What we have is not a problem, it is an opportunity. There should be no long faces at the table.

    N&G

  3. http://www.credomag.com/2012/02/01/how-the-elephant-room-is-redefining-the-pastoral-office/

    An important article – but, again, it is unfair to blame Pastor MacDonald for redefining the role of the Pastor. Evangelicals have embraced “Theology-lite” for at least a generation!

  4. Jay Mathis says:

    Thanks for saying what I was thinking Kevin. While I appreciate the concepts I am concerned that many conversations are made public that should remain private. In the 1st Elephant room there were clearly 2 big elephant pastors and so debate between the others seemed to be diminished. (How does someone keep up with the clever comments and powerful presence of Driscoll… even if he’s wrong??) TD is way of out sync in many areas theologically and you are right…. putting him on ER only legitimizes his ministry unless the others truly take up the fight for sound doctrine.

  5. Christian says:

    G&N

    Indeed this is an opportunity I agree. I never thought you were referring to me but I appreciate you clearing that up anyways. You said a couple of things that concerned me however,

    “It is interesting that Pastor MacDonald used “The Gospel” and not Creeds or Confessions as a basis for inclusion in the Elephant Room. This led to Mr. Jakes involvement. It would be inconsistent for TGC bloggers and commentators to criticize him on this point, when we have endured “Gospel Centered” Marriage advice and “Gospel Centered” dieting.”

    That is the point! The Gospel of TD Jakes is very heretical, very harmful and pretty much the opposite of the Gospel of the Holy Scriptures. And yet despite how obvious that is James Macdonald not only ignored it but in a sense approved of it by claiming Jakes to be “biblically solid”. I’m feeling repetitive here but that’s ok :) I think it is actually very consistent for TGC bloggers to criticize on this point and I am confused about how “Gospel Centered” Marriage advice and “Gospel Centered” dieting” could possibly contradict that. I have not read those articles but I’m sure it is not the equivalent of a pastor who stands before hundreds of thousands of people and lies to them about what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is, tells them that Jesus wants them filthy rich, and claims that if they support his ministry God will make them prosperous, healthy, and wealthy. See this sermon clip and then the testimony underneath it for somewhat of an example

    TD Jakes – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aEn8cAZ9K0

    An example of the harm his message causes- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuQIoZV2KRY

    I do not understand how or why anyone could possibly not call James Macdonald out for allowing this type of message to be clumped in with the gospel and message of Biblical preachers and ministries. If Macdonald cleared up the confusion and admitted he was wrong this would be a whole different story but he continues to affirm that his decision in affirming Jakes Ministry as legitimate. Like I said before, the point is lots of people are seeing all of this take place and we must not allow brothers or sister or even unbelievers become confused about what the Gospel is and is not… or what a Christian is and is not. Many if not most of TD Jakes followers have probably never been converted and if they are converted they will eventually walk away from his teachings through a work of gradual sanctification. If you want to get into the doctrinal specifics about that comment I have no problem with it but I’ll just leave it at that for now. But this is why I see it as so extremely dangerous to endorse a ministry like Jake’s because if we allow his ministry to be endorsed then WHO”S MINISTRY CANNOT BE ENDORSED???? What could possibly be the standard of calling a ministry heretical or sound if not the Gospel??? I could say more about this one but my comment is getting rather long. I’d be happy to clarify something if need be.

    You also said, “ER2 has also focused our attention on the importance of the Trinity. Some commentators seem to agree with Pastor MacDonald’s initial assessment; that Mr. Jakes only fault is that he does not use the words of an antiquated creed. But ER2 gives us an opportunity to focus on the importance of the Trinity for Christian thought.”

    I would have to entirely disagree. ER2 in itself provides us with the exact opposite of that. It belittles the importance of the trinity by not gaining a clear and precise understanding about where Jakes stands on the issue. As James White says, there were many questions that obviously could have been asked to clarify if Jakes was in fact a modalist and they were not. Not only that, but before they were even able to clarify by the answers Jakes gave… THEY DID CLARIFY. And they did not blush at putting a Trinitarian checkmark on him and claiming him and his ministry to be “solid”. That in my opinion does not show the importance of the trinity but belittles it greatly. They took a few minutes, asked a few questions and then jumped to conclusions. Now there may have been private conversations but that does not matter, what matters is what happened in front of influenced masses that saw or read the event. Simply because lots of good conversation is coming out of all this does not mean what happened was good and it does not mean that ER2 in itself caused this, it means that, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” For example no one would say David killing Uriah and sleeping with Bathsheba was good (in a way of God’s revealed will) simply because Christ was born from that lineage. Or that it was good for Judas to betray Jesus because it fulfilled a prophecy. Or that it was good for men to crucify the Son of God because we were saved. Good things happened from sinful events but that does not mean that we do not have an obligation to make it plain that the events were wicked. Now I’m not saying ER2 is on the same level as those things but it definitely needs to be clear that James Macdonald has made an unbiblical and unwise decision in this. And we can’t ignore James Macdonald and Mark Driscoll personally being responsible for this. I point out these two because they are discerning leaders who should know better. I’m not saying they are perfect and can’t ever make a mistake but it needs to be clarified for the sake of the body of Christ and purity of the Gospel that they did in fact mess up pretty bad here and are continuing to do so in affirming the legitimacy of their conduct.

    One more thing on you comment below which says, “but, again, it is unfair to blame Pastor MacDonald for redefining the role of the Pastor. Evangelicals have embraced “Theology-lite” for at least a generation!

    Macdonald is not ALONE to blame but he certainly is to blame in this situation. However when it comes to evangelicals embracing “theology lite” your both right and wrong depending on how you would define “evangelical” but that’s another conversation for another day. However in the broadest sense you are right, much (not all) of the Church has loved non-controversy more than the Gospel and more than the Glory of God. I do believe some of the respected reformed guys even have been getting a little bit too loose over the past few years when it comes to separating Biblical and unbiblical preaching and preachers and it has just sort of “blown over” but this prosperity gospel and reformed gospel “handshake” I think is just about the apex of all of that. Do I have a problem with James Macdonald befriending or shaking hands with TD Jakes? No. But I have a big problem with Macdonald shaking hands with his gospel by endorsing Jake’s ministry. The problem is I would expect this whole TD Jakes controversy from Billy Graham, Andy Stanley, or Craig Groeschel but Macdonald and Driscoll have preached and taught specifically against the WOF prosperity Gospel (see this for example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcLga26xH8U&feature=related. ) And to be honest I don’t mean to sound rude but the whole “everyone else it doing it” doesn’t make it right. And praise God there are actually still many within the reformed and non reformed circles alike that have not embrace “theology-lite” at all. I think this is enough of a response for now. I doubt I covered everything but I hope this gives sort of a better idea of where I am coming from.

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
    2 Timothy 2”3-4

  6. Christian says:

    Very good interview with Voddie Baucham and James White on the ridiculous and sinful “race card” being played by Macdonald and three black pastors http://www.aomin.org/podcasts/20120202.mp3

  7. graham and nicola says:

    Christian

    We actually think that we are in broad agreement. We just don’t think that it makes a lot of sense to waste time being angry with Pastor MacDonald; we should use our energy to learn from this escapade instead.

    When we say that “The Gospel” was the unifying factor in ER2, we do not mean the Gospel as described in, say, The Gospel of Jesus Christ: an Evangelical Celebration. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/gospel-jesus-christ-evangelical-celebration/ We are referring to a minimalist’s creed; something that could serve as a basis for evangelism. A rather truncated version of the Gospel manifested itself in the discussion with Mr Jakes. We should repent and trust Jesus because Jesus was fully God, fully Man; he died on the cross in our place for our sins; he bodily rose from death; he is the judge of the living and the dead; and that apart from Jesus is no salvation. The problem is, as you say, this statement allows for heretical views of the Trinity and it can be coupled to a false Gospel, like the Word of Faith movement.

    Of course we are deeply committed to evangelism.We mention the “Gospel Centred” rhetoric promoted on TGC, and like minded blogs, as one cause of the problem. It focuses our attention on one aspect of Christian theology to the neglect of others; and it seems to make evangelism the be all and end all of Christianity. This encourages an “ends justifies the means” approach to Christian witness and proclamation. As long as Churches grow, who cares how we go about it? A little more care and thought should go into our rhetoric and sound bites.

    We are not attempting to justify the decision to bring Mr Jakes to ER2 in any way; in fact, if Mr Jakes had not been invited, we would not have been happy with ER1 or 2! (Too much style, too little substance, judging by the transcripts.) It was a reckless decision on Pastor MacDonald’s part. But we do not want to speculate about Pastor MacDonald’s motives. Nor do we want to see his ministry destroyed, or his Churches collapse, or to have him dragged before an evangelical inquisition. It seems to be enough to point out that we think that he made a terrible mistake.

    We sense a lot of disappointment and frustration in your comments, and we sympathise. But this leads us to two points. One: you have not ranted like some posters (or demanded answers like a journalist on “60 Minutes”.) Two: God might bring some good out of this in your own ministry and witness. He has forced us to think through many issues, and we hope that we can put what we have learned to use. Yes’ ER2 was a disaster. But the story is not over yet.

    N&G

  8. Christian says:

    Ok. Although I still don’t think we are seeing eye to eye on a couple of things I believe we agree enough to leave it at that. Thank you for taking the time to respond, this conversation has been joyfully edifying indeed :)

    “Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained byb the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,c which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
    And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.” Acts 20:17-36

    “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die ford his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 3:17-21

    “But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ Ezekiel 33:6

    “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11

    “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” Galatians 2:11

  9. MSH says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on virtually everything. That is except for the tendency we have to raise Trinitarianism (as most of us understand it) to the level of a fundamental, or even an essential (I don’t think you went there).

    I believe fully in the Trinity as is commonly described in the mainstays of Evangelical Christianity. That being said, I do not find the formulations we have gathered together and emphasized in such a prominent way to be found emphasized in scripture. I have many problems with Jakes’ theology, but dancing around something we call Modalism does not cause me the concern that the propserity gospel does, and the un-Christian way that Jakes and his entourage fairly regularly treated the wait staff at a particular restaurant after church some Sundays. There is something in it that Paul’s words to Timothy would suggest “refuse.”

  10. graham and nicola says:

    “I have many problems with Jakes’ theology, but dancing around something we call Modalism does not cause me the concern that the propserity gospel does, and the un-Christian way that Jakes and his entourage fairly regularly treated the wait staff at a particular restaurant after church some Sundays.”

    This illustrates our concern with the rhetoric of “Gospel Centred” this and that. Health and Wealth preaching can be a false Gospel, (and Word of Faith borders on paganism!) But you cannot be a modalist, or anything like a modalist, and be a Christian. You do not believe in the Christian world view if you are a modalist.
    Without the Trinity there is no gospel. The creeds and confessions that we have gathered protect what is “emphasised in Scripture.” They do not attempt to go beyond Scripture, and they limit Christian teachers to what scripture has revealed.

    Once more – if three persons did not love each other from all eternity, love is not eternal. It means very little to say God is Love if God is not three distinct persons in relationships of “selfless” love.

    It means less for the Father to give the Son if Son and Father are merely manifestations.

    There is no mediator between God and Man if Son and Father are not real and distinct persons.

    To be clear – our problem is not with theologically robust statements of the Gospel. Our problem is with a truncated view of evangelism used as a basis of Church unity.

    You should also to read Carson & Keller on naive biblicism.

    N&G

  11. Christian says:

    G&N

    I am sorry, I know I told you I was done but I just couldn’t hold back :) Maybe I am misunderstanding you but…

    “Health and Wealth preaching can be a false Gospel (and Word of Faith borders on paganism!”

    I agree with everything you just said concerning modalism but I believe that our view of the prosperity gospel is the core of where you and I differ. The quoted sentence above might be true if we were simply dealing with a type of light AOG prosperity gospel such as “God doesn’t want you sick” but the fact is we are talking about the prosperity Gospel of TD Jakes. I do not believe that the health wealth and prosperity Gospel as preached by Jakes CAN be a false Gospel is certainly IS (Piper does a pretty good job with that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTc_FoELt8s ). Now I understand that there are different levels of prosperity gospel. The fact is though G&N I am not sure how much time you have spent watching and reading and listening to Jakes but I can assure you he is no doubt at the highest level of heresy in this matter. I’m not talking about what type of “Oneness” he is, I am talking about the depth of heresy in his prosperity Gospel. Satan did not lie to Adam and eve with 100% full blown lie, he deceived them with pretty much half truth and half lie and it is what plunged the entire human race into ruin. This is why the prosperity gospel cannot be a “basis for evangelism” as you said. Like I said maybe I misunderstood or read over something but just looking for clarity.

  12. Jason Squires says:

    It saddens me that despite your “desire” not to get your kicks out of critiquing others, you seem to do so quite often. You seem to be quite enthusiastic about correcting others orthodoxy, which is quite hypocritical when you seem so blind to the great harm your own orthodoxy inflicts on others.

  13. Hugh McCann says:

    Jason,

    Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

    Orthodoxy is a matter of eternal life & death.

    I disagree with you, but I’m glad your post was allowed to stand.

  14. Christian says:

    Amen Hugh!

    Orthodoxy is not simply a matter of “my opinion vs yours”, it is eternally significant. We are not simply correcting grammar here. Your very statement Jason was a correction of specific doctrine rooted in a specific orthodoxy. The doctrine of not correcting others doctrine is in itself a doctrine and it self destructs when it is used to correct others who do correct and debate orthodoxy. Many people have read this blog and the comments contained within it and therefore what they read and “take in” may not just have an affect on their life today but their life forever. I often find that the ones who preach and teach “deeds not creeds” are the same ones who will fight for that very statement most viciously, even to the point where they call brothers “blind”. I praise God for all the richly edifying debate and conversation that came out of this ER2 situation. And although that does not mean I am not greatly disturbed by what took place within the elephant room it shows what an AWESOME and Sovereign God we have, who works all things for good to those who love Him.

    “Satan knows that he can undermine the structure of the church by slyly removing just one fundamental doctrine at a time. He frequently loosens a large foundation gradually, chiseling it away bit by bit. That is why tolerance for the sake of peace may be dangerous. One step by giving in will lead to a next step, and will not God visit us with blindness if we deliberately darken the truth He has graciously entrusted to us. How shall we justify ourselves if we permit even a little of the truth to be laid aside? Is that ours to do? When peace is injurious to the truth, peace must give way. Peace with God is of greater value than peace with men.” – Abraham Kuyper

    “Here is the great evangelical disaster – the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this – namely ACCOMMODATION. The evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age. First, there has been accommodation on Scripture, so that many who call themselves evangelicals hold a weakened view of the Bible and no longer affirm the truth of all the Bible teaches….This accommodation has been costly, first in destroying the power of the Scriptures to confront the spirit of our age; second, in allowing the further slide of our culture.” -Francis Shaeffer

  15. edward duignam says:

    Your last paragraph is so sad…..’only the Lord an sort some things out”……it makes me wonder is you understand the scriptures yourself and if you are qualified to have a blog…THE LORD IS IN THE PROCESS OF SORTING ALL THINGS OUT FOR THE GLORY OF HIS NAME…..ALL WISDOM COMES FROM CHRIST….ALL WISDOM…..would like to know more about this god you serve who only can sort SOME THINGS OUT!!!!….you make it sound like there are somethings we creatures can figure out without the providence of the LORD OF CREATION….choose your words more carefully please!

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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