February 3, 2012

Herding the Elephants

by Mike Riccardi

With all the digital ink that’s been spilled surrounding The Elephant Room 2, it’s been difficult (and a bit wearisome!) trying to keep up with everything. I thought that I would give it my best shot to corral some of the most helpful, and some of the most telling, commentary on the whole situation into a single spot.

Because of the scope of the event, this post will be quite lengthy. Nevertheless, I hope it will be a benefit to those interested in the issues.

In Anticipation

  • Pretty soon after MacDonald came out endorsing “manifestations” as classical Trinitarian language (which comments have since been revised), Carl Trueman got the ball rolling by asking, “Is Nicene Christianity Important?” Surely not a sign of good things to come.
  • A few days later The Cripplegate’s own Nathan Busenitz wrote about the history of the modalist heresy and the history of Jakes’ involvement with modalism.
  • Challies followed up the next day with a round-up of where the issues stood at that point. He asked poignant questions that unfortunately would have to be answered in the negative: “Will these men be willing to ask him very difficult, very nuanced, very penetrating questions? … And I don’t mean for the other participants to ask a question that essentially says, ‘You’re not a modalist, right?’ but an honest, searching, penetrating series of questions that will address this concern head-on and will not stop until it is settled. Jakes has given us legitimate cause to be concerned, cause enough to go no further until answers are given. Until that question is settled, nothing else really matters.”
  • Thabiti Anyabwile wrote an outstanding, compassionate, faithful, pastoral post warning of the collateral damage that was likely to result from MacDonald &Co. going through with an ER2 that included T. D. Jakes: “This kind of invitation undermines that long, hard battle many of us have been waging in a community often neglected by many of our peers.  And because we’ve often been attempting to introduce African-American Christians to the wider Evangelical and Reformed world as an alternative to the heresy and blasphemy so commonplace in some African-American churches and on popular television outlets, the invitation of Jakes to perform in ‘our circles’ simply feels like a swift tug of the rug from beneath our feet and our efforts to bring health to a sick church. […] This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.”
  • Carl Trueman followed up on that final comment by saying, memorably: “That is actually something of an insult to Augustine, but it is legitimate rhetoric in the service of a very important point.” He also went on to comment adeptly on the incongruity of the evangelical world’s response to Jakes and their response to MacDonald’s participation with Noble and Furtick, whom, he says, “hardly seem any closer to Paul’s description of what an elder or overseer should be than the Bishop.”
  • Also around this time, D. A. Carson and Tim Keller gave an unofficial “State of the Coalition Address” to address the criticism that The Gospel Coalition was receiving internally from both sides of the issue. Because of MacDonald’s involvement with TGC, many expected them to challenge him to disinvite Jakes or suspend the ER2, while others apparently expected them to be “big-tent” and “charitable,” and provide further cover for him.

A little while after this, the blogosphere had tired of talks of ER2 for a while, and, for the most part, took the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays off and awaited the actual conference in late January. Besides, attention was diverted to the sideshow that was the Code Orange Revival, which, with the exception of Matt Chandler’s message, sort of felt like the step-child of the whole Elephant Room debacle.

MacDonald’s Secession

  • Noise kicked back up again a day before the conference, when news broke of James MacDonald’s secession from The Gospel Coalition, insisting God had called him to distance himself from reputable scholars and pastors who have always expressed an overt fidelity to the Gospel, so that he could hang out with the likes of modalists and health-and-wealth preachers.
  • Carson and Keller offered a conciliatory response (on TGC’s behalf) to MacDonald’s announcement, acknowledging that MacDonald felt “called of God” and wishing him all the best in his future endeavors.
  • Frank Turk’s response to TGC’s comments was pointed: “The Gospel Coalition’s response toMacDonald’s resignation is par for the course for an organization that, frankly, values unity above the means to achieve unity (which is: sharpening each other with the truth). The dodge that they are a ‘center-bounded’ organization also needs to be checked for its shelf-life date as this kerfuffle demonstrates exactly what it means to be ‘center-bounded’—you can hang out with us as long as you don’t embarrass us, and when you do embarrass us, you just have to excuse yourself and we’ll smile and wave.”
  • Also in response to TGC’s comments regarding MacDonald’s secession, Dan Phillips drew an interesting comparison between TGC’s and MacDonald’s comments and a “leaky canon:” “They do nothing but compliment their departing heretic-promoting brother, and he responds by accusing them of sinning by not agreeing with him. Because that is the rub, right? God ‘called’ James MacDonald to do certain things. Of this MacDonald entertains and allows no doubt. But the TGC leadership might not agree with those things. Those things that God called him to do. Which means they don’t agree with God. … Nice, huh?”

The Conference

  • Trevin followed up with a call for clarity and charity, for grace and truth, and for assuming the best about the motives of the men involved as we evaluate the events of the Elephant Room. We can all appreciate those calls and would do well to consider them. Unfortunately, the evaluation that followed them seemed to be a bit ambivalent. My perception was that, in striving for balance, he failed to say much of anything conclusively.

Jakes’ “Repentance”

  • So, as the transcript notes, T. D. Jakes “repented” of his modalistic past and affirmed “One God, Three Persons.” Two days after the fact, Frank Turk looked particularly at how one should respond to Jakes’ comments and whether we should accept his confession as a repudiation of modalism and embrace of orthodoxy: “If he’s my brother in Christ, saying, ‘I’m on a journey,’ and ‘It’s actually too mysterious for words,’ and ‘well, I use “manifestations” when you use “persons” but we just mean the same darn thing,’ and so on is actually the opposite of humility and the opposite of brotherly love: it’s self-justification. It says that all errors are actually par for the course, and that I have no culpability in them. That’s not Christian faith speaking: that’s something else, and it’s ugly. You want me to treat you like a brother (much less: a leader and teacher) in Christ? Act like it. Do what we do. Real fruitfulness is repentance whenever we do something wrong, and not justifying our mistakes in a very corny, aw-shucks way.”
  • Frankly, I don’t know of many men who are more equipped to comment on the viability and orthodoxy of Jakes’ confession on the Godhead than James White. Here’s his response to the whole fiasco on the Dividing Line: audio, video.
  • After a few days of witnessing the uncritical acceptance of Jakes’ comments, James White lamented what he sees as “The Discernment Gap,” noting that no such repentance from modalism and an embrace of historic Trinitarianism took place, and that there wasn’t a ton of effort to make the issue clear: “Sadly, there was no follow up. Driscoll and the rest heard what they wanted to hear, fist-bumped and applauded, and all was well.”
  • Carl Trueman also weighed in from an informed perspective: “If the transcript of ER is accurate, the questions posed to Jakes never really reflected any knowledge of Trinitarian debate after the second century. … [F]or him then to prefer ‘manifestation’—a term with a lot more problematic baggage, historically and theologically, than ever ‘person’ has—and apparently be given a pass on that—that speaks volumes about the quality of the questioning.” He goes on, “We are not dealing here with men who are simply making a credible Christian profession as church members; we are dealing with pastors who lead churches and hold terrible and awesome responsibility for protecting their flocks and making sure the truth is taught. We are also dealing with men who, through the use of conferences and internet, aspire to influence your congregation and mine.”
  • Rich Barcellos interviewed former Oneness pastor Jordan Dayoub regarding Jakes’ comments. I think he offers a valuable “inside” perspective: “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.”
  • Further, a point that’s been made by many is that even if Jakes did satisfactorily renounce modalism and embrace Trinitarianism, there’s still his prosperity gospel to reckon with. Unrelated to the ER2, the guys at 9Marks have compiled a list of Jakes’ books which pretty clearly show his commitment to health-and-wealth teaching.
  • Ed Stetzer lined up some apples and oranges by comparing Jakes to Apollos and MacDonald and Driscoll to Priscilla and Aquila. Apollos could be described, by divine inspiration, as “speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25). Modalism and prosperity preaching are light years away from speaking and teaching anything concerning Jesus accurately.
  • Tim Raymond of Credo Magazine raised a valid point about how the exaltation of such unqualified men to the status of having a leading voice in evangelicalism is damaging to the Church: “By lifting up men with minimal theological commitments as examples to pastors, the Elephant Room is proclaiming, perhaps unwittingly, that a rigorous concern for sound doctrine is not essential to the pastoral office.” It is as certain as it is unfortunate, however, that this is the case beyond just ER2.
  • I really appreciated the thoughtful and candid comments at Paleoevangelical regarding TGC’s response to the whole ER2 mess in general: “As a pastor in a church in which members and their families have been scarred by the disastrous teaching of the prosperity gospel movement, I don’t feel particularly served when a present TGC council member and a now-resigned member prop up one of its most well-known proponents. TGC needs to clean up the mess its elephant made on our lawn. ‘[W]e wish [MacDonald] well in his far-reaching endeavors’ doesn’t cut it.”

Voddie’s “Repentance”

  • Amidst all that has caused the faithful follower of Christ to mourn in this debacle, Voddie Baucham has provided a wonderful example of how to faithfully respond to such a situation: “There was no way for me to 1) keep silent on this growing controversy, and 2) attend the Men’s Conference, without giving tacit approval to ER2.” If you haven’t read this brilliant post, you need to.
  • James White expressed his encouragement, as have many, in light of Voddie’s response: “But it is encouraging to know that there remains a stalwart core who are not easily taken in by glib phrases and weasel-words when it comes to the central elements of the faith.” James later had Voddie on the Dividing Line to discuss the “ethnic gnosticism” that has resulted from the ER2 debate.

White Reformed Guys’ “Repentance”

  • But some were quite irked by the rejection of Jakes’ “repentance” as legitimate. In a new brand of weird, Bryan Loritts called for repentance among “middle aged white Reformed guys.” No link on that one, because it’s been subsequently removed from the website.

  • If you’d like to read the pertinent comments, though, you should check out James White’s excellent response to Loritts: “It is absolutely, positively disgusting to me that this canard, so common from the left in political arenas, would be inserted into the discussion of Jakes’ long-time standing as a modalist. I don’t care what color the man is. It is pure distraction and absurdity to make reference to ‘middle aged white Reformed guys.’”

Oh, but it gets worse.

  • Monday brought us part one of James MacDonald’s interview of Bryan Loritts, Charles Jenkins, and Eric Mason, ostensibly because James MacDonald had been “humbled” and was refusing to speak about the success of ER2.
  • It should go without saying that the comments stated and sanctioned in that discussion are deeply offensive. To insist that the black voices who are critical of Jakes must be Uncle Toms who are idolizing white people is, frankly, disgusting. The tacit assumption that the criticism couldn’t have anything to do with the gross amounts of spiritual harm that T. D. Jakes has done in the black Christian community via his modalism and prosperity preaching—like Thabiti said was the case three months ago—is just shameful.
  • Thabiti also seemed to anticipate such a move a day before the Elephant Room: “I also want my non-African-American brothers to realize the harmful dynamic of pitting one African American against another. When two white brothers disagree publicly over a theological issue, there’s likely not a community ‘back home’ trying to decide which brother is ‘black’ and therefore which brother to follow. Historically, some white leaders have intentionally played one African American leader against another with the aim of dividing and weakening the community. That’s a history well-known and a strategy much hated in African-American communities. So, when a conflict between two African American religious leaders takes place publicly, care must be taken not to walk into this troubled narrative and trap.”
  • Voddie himself actually anticipated such a move as well. See especially #4 in the post previously mentioned.
  • Phil Johnson responded Wednesday, perfectly capturing the essence of the absurdity: “If you’re an old white guy with any hint of Reformed theology in your confessional statement and you don’t think T. D. Jakes’s equivocations at Elephant Room 2 were sufficient to erase decades of concern about his Oneness leanings and his relentless proclamation of a false Prosperity Gospel—then you must be a racist. … If on the other hand you are a young black man with Reformed convictions—or any black person who just has a keen interest in doctrinal and biblical accuracy—you are a sellout and a reproach to your own community.”
  • Also from that post: “And why the deafening silence [btw, don’t miss this post] from so many men and ministries who supposedly are committed to standing for the defense and proclamation of core gospel truths? If you can be intimidated into silence by the race card when a greed-mongering prosperity-gospel Sabellian-sympathizer is being hailed by once-sound evangelicals as someone to be emulated, what doctrine will you defend openly and publicly?”

If you can believe it, there’s still more that could have been recorded, and surely there is more yet to be written. But Phil Johnson’s closing question seems like a good place to stop and add our voices to those calling for an appropriate response from the appropriate people. Perhaps one answer we’ve already been given is from Kevin DeYoung. I hope others follow his example.

* * * *

UPDATE: This afternoon (Feb. 3), D. A. Carson and Tim Keller published “some theological and pastoral reflection[s] on the interlocking issues with which we have been wrestling” on TGC’s website. You can read it here.

Mike Riccardi

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Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
  • Great Mike. Thanks for all your work on this. A one stop shop for links. Thx.

  • My favorite line in the whole debacle is Thabiti’s: “This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren. This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.” Thanks for the herding. Now lets hope there’s no more breeding and that the issue becomes extinct.

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  • Jerry Wragg

    Thank you for your reading and collating efforts, Mike! Tim Raymond’s “valid point” probably won’t get the attention it deserves. He has identified what for many is, sadly, under their radar. Now more than ever, audiences froth over pithy phrase-turners despite skimpy theological discipline and glaring interpretive bungles. My only criticism (a mild one) of Raymond’s conclusions is that I don’t think it’s helpful tipping a hat even to Driscoll. Anyone can publish a brief summary of systematic theology they’ve read, but not everyone should. Especially those whose preaching out of one side of their mouth is no dignified compliment to the theology they profess with the other side. Giving Driscoll a platform hasn’t strengthened the average Christian’s view of the pastoral office either.

    • “My only criticism (a mild one) of Raymond’s conclusions is that I don’t think it’s helpful tipping a hat even to Driscoll. Anyone can publish a brief summary of systematic theology they’ve read, but not everyone should. Especially those whose preaching out of one side of their mouth is no dignified compliment to the theology they profess with the other side. Giving Driscoll a platform hasn’t strengthened the average Christian’s
      view of the pastoral office either.”

      Wow, so true!!!!!

    • I agree wholeheartedly, Jerry.

  • Thank you for this, Mike. This had to have kept you up more then a few nights. 🙂

  • What do you have to gain by all these many examples of “this person said this” and “look at what this person wrote”? Honestly we should all spend more time in prayer and beign concerned with what god is saying to us and how He is sleadin us and wht we need to do to change what’s wrong in our lives. All this reeks of only so much strife and division as to make the Corithians look like models of unity and grace. The intellect can only take you so far and all this headiness is wearines to the soul. Does anyone actually have a real and true relationship with God? Or is it all about adhering to the right mental concepts and presuppositions?

    • “An overseer must…hold fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. ” Titus 1:7,9

    • Eric Davis


      I understand the struggle w/ these things, especially a fairly charged situation as this. Consider though, that there is much to gain by this compilation of events as the ER2 situation has transpired. In the same way that much of the OT was given as “examples for us” so that others would avoid past error, these many examples Mike has provided are necessary so that we might exercise wisdom. It’s kind of like reading about the folly of the kings in 1-2 Kings; we can glean from their error of what not to do. I’m not saying Mike’s recounting of the ER2 history is equivalent to reading Scripture, but it is nevertheless necessary, so that, like the sons of Issachar, we might understand our times and know what to do. So, in regards to your comment about changing “whats wrong in our lives,” breaking down the ER2 helps us do exactly that. As we watch this thing unfold and poor decisions being made, we can learn how to love and serve God more effectively.

      Not only that, many of us minister to people who are highly influenced (via internet and their blogs, for example) by these errors. We find ourselves answering questions and addressing issues that are born from unhelpful things happening and propagated by pastors involved w/ ER2. So then, there is no distinction in loving the flock among us and addressing these errors. They actually are one in the same. Souls are hindered from being made complete in Christ by the unhelpful theology and practice of many of these men. That is no good. Especially when, for example, TGC, who has much influence today, stands by and says little to nothing about this. Therefore, it becomes necessary to graciously and biblically identify the error so as to love God and people.

      I hope that makes sense. Mike has done us a difficult but necessary service here.

    • Anonymous

      Danny I feel your pain a bit, but remember that the person who is not concerned with all this “strife and division as to make the Corithians look like models of unity and grace.” is not reading these blogs to begin with. They are at home reading Vision Forum literature. Just kidding. It is true that we all should definitely be in prayer about what God is saying to us and what is wrong in our own lives. But those of us on these blogs enjoy the intellect of others and what they have to say about this or that.

  • Richdpowell

    Excellent recap Mike! Thanks to the men who value and stand for historical truth over the present group who is siding with a man who definitely preaches another gospel that damns and doesn’t save those under his ministry. It would be interesting to ask those under Jakes’ ministry what their understanding of the Trinity is. I doubt it would be the one the Church Fathers fought for. Remember a pupil will be like his teacher. If Benny Hinn is a heretic isn’t T.D.Jakes?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Sometimes, conflict is for and to the ultimate glory of God.

    Thanks for a superb compilation, Mike Riccardi.

  • Daniel J. Phillips

    Thanks for noticing. Seriously. I was beginning to wonder whether I’d posted in invisible ink or something.

    Maybe just “inconvenient ink,” which, perhaps, in some quarters, amounts to the same thing.

    • We notice all you write Dan. Thanks for reading and commenting here.

    • “inconvenient ink” Classic “ouch” line! 2 points awarded to Dan!

  • Kevin Zuber

    Good Work! I missed a couple of these (many of us have ministries, jobs, lives) . . . I live and preach virtually in the shadow of the “mother ship” of HBC . . . the fallout among the sheep is not going to be pretty . . .

    • CQAussie

      I’m one of the sheep at HBC and I’m pretty much expecting most the congregation to close ranks behind Pastor James if it all the details come out. I could be wrong – I hope so. But let’s just say that there’s been a wall of silence on this entire issue. No one has talked about it, not to me anyways. Not in church and not during small groups. I only knew it was such a huge issue because I read TGC blog and comments. Even then it was only when Pastor James resigned from TGC that the whole can of worms was opened for me. There’s a certain amount of hero worship of Pastor James at HBC and I’m not sure that people will be able to see objectively where he’s gone wrong here with his discernment. I’ve had my private concerns about Pastor James but it’s always been on minor issues, not worth raising a fuss over. And I will absolutely affirm that Pastor James’ teaching has been consistently orthodox since I’ve been attending HBC. This ER2 debacle is very different and I am just wondering what the heck happened to James…..I won’t be leaving HBC over this but suffice to say my husband and I will pay close attention to what’s happened here and going forward.

      • And this is the most frustrating thing with James. I love his ministry and fearlessly preaching the Truth. Yet, I cannot get my mind wrapped around why he is willing to do such destructive things over TD Jakes?

        It hurts. It hurts to see a desire to go forward when his fellow pastors tell him that it might not be a good idea. His treatment of Voddie Baucham. The list goes on….one thing I did learn is the need to be viligent for I could succumb to such thoughts.

  • CR Tolbert


    I think the third fellow in the MacDonald interview is Eric Mason, not Erik Raymond, who, if I’m not mistaken is a middle-aged Reformed white guy.

    Thank you for organizing all this.

    • Keithdwilliams2

      No…Eric Raymond is a middle-aged Reformed black pastor! (cf “Where Are All The Brothers?”)

      • James S

        I think that is Eric ‘Redmond’ you are talking about.
        Actually there is an Erik Raymond who is a reformed white pastor.

        He (Erik Raymond) also indirectly weighed in on the er2 with an excellently written guest post by Byron Yawn on his blog ‘Ordinary Pastor’ entitled
        “An Open Letter to Matt Chandler (Some Thought on ER2)”

        Here is the link to it:

        I don’t twitter, but if I did I would have twittered this post all over the place.
        I hope somebody will.

    • Wayne Roberts

      The Eric Mason I’m thinking of is African-American, and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philly.

      • Daniel J. Phillips

        Sure you’re not thinking of Dave Mason, who’s a middle-aged rocker?

    • You’re right! My apologies to Pastor Mason.


  • David

    Thanks so much for the work invested in this compilation; you have performed a real service to Christ’s church.

    • Gareeth

      Yeah, once he got all his blacks and his whites sorted out. sheesh. rookie mistakes. hardly deserving of praise.

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  • Wayne Roberts

    No, that is Eric Redmond who is a reformed Baptist and African-American pastor in the DC area.

  • Tripledhome

    Good job!

  • Besides, attention was diverted to the sideshow that was the Code Orange Revival, which, with the exception of Matt Chandler’s message, sort of felt like the step-child of the whole Elephant Room debacle.

    You mean, “Orange-headed step-child.”

  • James S

    Daniel J. Phillips –
    It warms my heart that you consider a 66 year-old to be middle-aged.
    Now I don’t feel so bad about my own favorite rockers, Deep Purple.

    • Daniel J. Phillips

      I was rounding, er, down.

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  • Matthew

    Great post Mike!

    You have compiled a resourceful critique and as Jesse said, ‘a one stop shop for links’.
    Thanks. I hope this article reaches far and wide!

    The kum by yah continues as James MacDonald heads to Lafayette, IN to appear as the keynote speaker at a Biblical Counseling conference in 10 days time. I cannot believe it.

    I fear my fellow “nouthetics” need a wake up call.

  • Brian in BC

    Did anyone see this post regarding a church leaving the Acts 29 Network over the ER2?


  • michael Henry

    “..My favorite line in the whole debacle…”

    I think debacle may prove to be a very lenient term to describe ER2 and the GC.

  • Thanks for bringing the past few months into one tangible and useful post. I’ll be sharing it with some friends. Great job!

  • okay, so i’m new to all this. but i’ve been seeing “elephant room” stuff everywhere. i’ve been to websites and looked at pages, and i’m in need of a simple primer. who is the gospel coalition? is it a particular denomination — or a group of them? is elephant room only a reformed christian group? is everyone involved in all of this stuff presbyterian? help me out a little, someone. straightforward answers, very simple terms.

    • Michael Delahunt

      Hi James, saw you had some unanswered questions, so I’ll do my best to fill you in. If people will correct me if/where I am wrong, that would be great. The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is practically a group of big names in orthodox evangelicalism (Carson, Keller, (I think) Mohler, Piper, Duncan, Justin Taylor, others) who have come together for the sake of the Gospel; they discuss issues (theological, doctrinal, and some social/cultural/ethical in a biblical light) online, hold conferences, etc. They also have a website, where they would prob. describe themselves better here (unless, of course, you’ve already been there):
      As for the Elephant Room, I have never heard of it until now. So……..HELP!
      And not everyone is presbyterian, although you seem to get 10 extra cool points to have “Presbyterian” in your church name (semi-kidding on that last point). There are alot of Presbyterians, as they do historically fall into the reformed camp, and their doctrine is sometimes solid (depends on the church, just like any denomination, or non-denomination). In this case, any presb’s you see on TGC would generally have good theology; at least that’s my guess.

      I hope that can give you a few answers to tide you over until someone more knowledgable can answer more fully.

      • thanks, michael. i appreciate it. i have indeed been over to the gospel coalition site, and — though i didn’t spend a great deal of time looking — my impression was that the site explains a lot about what this group believes, but very little about who this group actually is. you’ve helped a great deal.

        sorry i can’t help you with elephant room.

        and i’ve also heard of acts 29 — though i’ve never even googled that one, and might get around to it at some point.

        • Michael Delahunt

          To put it practically, Acts 29 is a network (or quasi-denomination) of churches (there may be other things involved beyond that, not totally sure), in which Mark Driscoll is President. A somewhat good comparison would be C.J. Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace Ministries (similar church models, unique music, etc.). Not sure whether you already were aware or not, but didn’t want to leave you in the dark if you were. The Acts 29 churches tend to want to target a certain group and generally would adhere to Mark Driscoll theology; hope that helps!

          Again, correct me if I’m wrong; I don’t want to be off! Thanks!

  • Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

    Not sure if you noticed this already, but D.A. Carson and Tim Keller came out with a response to the controversy today: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/02/03/carson-and-keller-on-jakes-and-the-elephant-room/

    There was also Justin Taylor’s assessment posted Feb. 1st: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2012/02/01/the-elephant-room-what-really-happened-and-how-things-could-have-been-different/

    Douglas Wilson also wrote about it: http://www.dougwils.com/index.php/General-Ruminations/the-rogue-elephant-room.html

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  • This is ridiculous! Seriously! These “white” guys are (rather, were) respected leaders in the evangelical world. But for the sake of “unity” we show Jesus and His Gospel the door? Ridiculous!

  • BRINKwerks

    tangent on prosperity gospel: everything you need to know about the prosperity gospel in under 3 minutes, from piper:

    • Truth Unites… and Divides

      Wow! That video by Piper was powerful!

      Although I wonder if this is an excessively charitable observation:

      Piper befriended and walked alongside Driscoll. Driscoll is grateful and he grows in biblical wisdom because of Piper.

      Driscoll remembers this, and seeks to do the same thing with Jakes as Piper did with him.

  • Anonymous

    It’s really to bad. The Elephant Room concept had such great potential. I loved the idea when I first heard about it before ER1. But when you start to create an island of people that only think like you (and your view of unity) and treat people like Chris Rosebrough was treated, you defy the whole concept and reason for something like ER. I would love to see someone put something together where debate could take place between brothers where the result would be the shaking of hands, prayer and parting ways brothers. I think there is value in having strong believers discuss things face to face. And no, blogs don’t count. I love blogs and enjoy reading many including this one, but its no substitute for face to face dialogue. But the key word is “brother”. I think we as “the church” need a much better “circling of the wagons” as to who is a brother and who is not. To may people divide over stupid non-essentials just as to many are to accepting of fundamental doctrinal error as in ER2.

    On a side note: It is amazing how much information one can gather in one morning due to blogs like this and the subsequent links. Thank you Al Gore for the internets!

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  • Poet

    Excellent post, Mike. And very timely. I knew nothing of the ER and little about MacDonald until earlier this week. Harvest is planting a church in LA and was contacting me regarding leading worship for them. A few google searches caused concern, but your post above has solidified my understanding of the core issues. Thanks for being a good watchman.

  • A very helpful work here Mike. Thank you so much for putting this together.

    1) The implications of all this hit close to home (GCC and TMC/TMS). How will our brother graduates who’ve since joined a HBC ministry respond to this debacle? If I were in their shoes I would follow the footsteps of this pastor and his local church http://theconvergenceblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/concerning-our-disassociation-with.html

    2) I believe MacDonald spoke at TMC’s Truth for Life conference a few years ago. When i was a student the in guy was Francis Chan. It seems to me that even the ministries we so respect could better apply the wisdom offered recently by Carl Truemann http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2012/01/do-you-beat-your-wife.php

    There are so many gifted exegetical expositors out there. Many who are mostly unknown to anyone but their own congregation. These preachers may not draw the same crowd or create the same buzz as a Driscoll or a MacDonald would but those gathered would surely hear a more meaty exposition and see a better model for pastoral ministry. I pray that this ER2 mess and TGC confusion helps each pastor and conference committee reevaluate their respective speaker decisions (past, present, and future).

    3) With that said, I think a common overreaction to the “celebrity” culture we live in is to become envious of those faithful kingdom servants that God has chosen to raise up for such a time as this. I’m talking about those that receive from God larger ministry platforms (at home and abroad). Godly servants like MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, Dever, Lawson, Mohler, etc. God knows exactly what each one of us needs and how much each one of us can handle. Plus, to whom much is given much is required. Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald will have to give an account not only for the way they led their own flock members (Heb 13:17) but will also give an account for the many pastors and congregations that (indirectly) followed their examples (as leaders among leaders). Let us put off envy (1 Peter 2:1) and think about their stewardship roles in light of eternity (2 Cor 5).

  • Sdgloria

    Thanks Mike. Now I remember why I don’t like soap operas anymore. But this is sad, so much sadder. Real lives, souls are being affected. I grew up an atheist then searching I stumbled in to churches where began my pastor worship. These were supposed to be godly men, looking out for my soul, helping me with the hard questions that woke me up in a cold sweat. Surely these pastors would never mislead me. I didn’t know God and I feared Him, surely these men who made this their lives did as well. But they did and it was almost 13 years calling myself a Christian, blaspheming God’s name with my thoughts, deeds and words. We need true Shepherds, ones who will lay down their lives for the flock. Souls depend on it.

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  • Joan

    Thank you for bringing some order out of the self-serving chaos of ER2.

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  • Scott Welch

    Thanks for the legwork in bringing together the history of this event. Did you by chance see this interview of a former Oneness Pentecostal pastor? Carl Truemann linked to it after ER2 and the interviewee Jordan Dayoub brought some clarity as to why Jakes seemed to shift between modalism and Trinitarism language.


    • That’s quite a valuable perspective, Scott. Thanks so much for sharing it.

      For the readers, here’s a relevant portion:

      “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.”

  • Gareeth

    I read that James MacDonald resigned from The Gospel Coalition out of his great respect for that group – so he wouldn’t bring distress to them. Your comments seem to have a sneer about them and imply that he resigned for other reasons.

    • Nope. Wasn’t implying anything about his reasons for leaving beyond what he stated.

      I was just making the observation that his “methodological convictions” have caused him to distance himself from this group of doctrinally sound men that he has “great respect” for, as you say, in order to associate more with the heretical Jakeses, and less sound Nobles and Furticks of Christendom.

      Not a step up for MacDonald, in my opinion. And I guess the point I was making was that if it was his “methodological convictions” that drove him to resign, maybe those are some convictions in need of examination.

  • Phil Johnson has an interview that is worth watching http://teampyro.blogspot.com/

    Feb 4: A Conversation with Lane Chaplin; On Evangelicalism’s Current Cults of Celebrity

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