How the Elephant Room is Redefining the Pastoral Office

Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Doctrine, Pastoral Ministry | 36 Comments

By Tim Raymond –

Although I had intended to begin a new series today on virtues to cultivate for better expositional preaching, I feel compelled to write about something that’s been on my mind and heart for the last few days.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be familiar with what happened at last week’s Elephant Room 2.  On January 25, 2012 Pastor James MacDonald held a summit of well-known mega-church pastors for the purpose of frankly discussing various matters related to pastoral ministry.  The round-table discussions were simulcast from MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel to 65 locations around North America and watched by thousands, most of whom are younger evangelical pastors.

Far and away, the session that’s attracted the most attention has been that between MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and TD Jakes.  The reason this particular session was so scintillating was because Jakes, until relatively recently, had been generally considered outside the bounds of historic, orthodox Christianity.  Both his modalist-sounding statements regarding the Godhead and his unashamed health-and-wealth prosperity “gospel” teaching, ideas he has publicly propounded for years, marked him out as, at best, a seriously confused brother and, at worst, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

The purpose of this particular post is not to evaluate the gospel according to Jakes.  Others with brains far larger than my own have already gone to great lengths to do so [see for example here].  Neither is this post intended to address the question of whether or not it was appropriate for MacDonald to invite someone like Jakes to the discussion in the first place [if you’re looking for that sort of thing, read Thabiti Anyabwile’s moving piece here].  Rather, in this post I’d like to consider what I believe is one of the most harmful side-effects the Elephant Room may not even realize it is encouraging.  Allow me to state my point plainly: 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.  Let me explain.

TD Jakes may be the most obvious demonstration of this point, so let’s begin there.  Is Jakes an eloquent communicator?  Absolutely.  Is he able to efficiently oversee a massive organization?  Obviously.  Is he a sharp dresser?  No doubt.  But when it comes to a concern for sound doctrine, no sane Christian would ever confuse the man with John Owen or Charles Spurgeon.  Since ER2 went public, the debate has become, “Is Jakes a confused brother or a false teacher?”  But either way you answer that question, all acknowledge the man is not a defender of sound teaching.  And yet he was held up as an example for pastors to emulate.

Something similar holds true for a number of the other individuals bought to the Elephant Room.  While there are certainly some notable exceptions (e.g., Driscoll, author of Doctrine), if you skim over the line-up for the two Elephant Room conferences, a good percentage of the men would be self-consciously a-theological.  By a-theological, I’m certainly not saying that the men are heretics or apostates.  I do not doubt their conversions or sincerity.  Rather, it’s that they do not emphasize sound doctrine in their preaching and teaching, do not have a firm grasp of sound doctrine themselves, and, frankly, do not see this as a problem.  Anyone with any familiarity with the Elephant Room should immediately concede this.  I recently read an article by one of the men present at last year’s Elephant Room (who will remain nameless to protect the guilty) where he derided efforts by churches to emphasize sound doctrine, claiming they hinder outreach.  Again, these men are held forth as examples for pastors to emulate.

Now please do not misunderstand me.  Do not hear what I am not saying.  I am not saying that we do not have much to learn from those with whom we disagree.  I have benefitted enormously from those with theological commitments very different from my own.  A godly Methodist pastor has taught me more about prayer than perhaps any other single individual.  I learned how to preach by listening to the sermons of a community church pastor and I’ve learned much about the character of God and the way of salvation from my Presbyterian brethren.  Lutherans have done much to point me to the objective work of the Cross and some of my favorite authors are Anglicans.  However there is a massive difference between disagreeing over theology and disagreeing that theology is important.  And for the pastor, thinking that sound doctrine is insignificant is simply not an option.

Even a cursory reading of the Pastoral Epistles makes this undeniable.  One of the prerequisites to the pastoral office is that a man be able to teach sound doctrine (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5-9).  Part of the basic job description of the pastor is to proclaim sound doctrine and refute error (Titus 1:9).  Pastors are charged to train up their entire congregation in sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13-16; Titus 2:1).  Pastors are to preach the Word in season and out since the time is coming when those who do not tolerate sound doctrine will infiltrate the church (2 Timothy 4:1-4 [parallelism indicates that preaching the Word is preaching sound doctrine]; cf. Acts 20:28ff.).  And the Lord’s stamp of approval on a man’s ministry is partially measured by his commitment to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6).  Therefore, for any man to say, “I’m not very concerned about sound doctrine,” is simply another way of saying, “I’m not qualified to be a pastor,” let alone an example for pastors to emulate.

So in essence, what both the Elephant Rooms have done is to powerfully communicate to thousands of younger pastors that a rigorous concern for sound doctrine is not essential to pastoral faithfulness or success.  This is not only a radical departure from the biblical definition of the pastoral office, it contradicts the way the church has historically viewed the pastorate, and, I’d venture to bet, the way in which most Christians outside of America view the pastor today.

My prayer (and I’ve been sincerely praying this) is that the damaging effects of the Elephant Room will not last long.  But if they do, I have every hope that the Lord will continue to build His church through pastors and congregations, perhaps in other parts of the world, who understand that the office of pastor means defending the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

“Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God…Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this word. Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest. Let them edify the body of Christ. Let them devastate Satan’s reign. Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious. Let them bind and loose thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the word of God.”John Calvin (1509-1564), Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians, p. xii (emphasis added)

Tim Raymond has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Tim grew up outside Syracuse, NY and previously served at Berean Baptist Church, Nicholson, PA (member and teacher during college and seminary) and Calvary Baptist Church, Sandusky, Ohio (seminary internship location). Tim met his wife Bethany at college, and they were married in May 2001. Tim enjoys reading, camping, wrestling with his three sons, and attempting to sleep.

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36 Comments

  1. Lon Hetrick
    February 1, 2012

    Thank you for this. I am so concerned about the perpetuating assumption that our faith in and love for the Lord Jesus is not governed by the truths He has revealed about Himself (aka doctrinal statements). As I once heard J. I. Packer say, “Christianity is first of all a faith.” That is, it is a set of truth claims to be believed and trusted and surrendered to.

    I have certainly found that the study of doctrine/theology has only deepened my worship, corrected my sins, and empowered my love and service to God.

    It’s one of the saddest things to me, that so many Christians, lead by so many Christian leaders, think relationship or experience trumps revealed truth, rather than holding the biblical conviction that divine revelation precedes and defines our relationship with God through Christ. All this does is multiply and mainstream errors – some of which are eternally serious.

    Reply
  2. Flotsam and jetsam (2/1) | Everyday Theology
    February 1, 2012

    [...] How the Elephant Room Is Redefining the Pastoral Office: 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. [...]

    Reply
  3. Jimmy Reagan
    February 1, 2012

    Well put. Megachurch numbers are bewitching and faithfulness to God’s Word gets shortchanged.

    Reply
  4. Robert Stump
    February 1, 2012

    Timely and pertinent. I happen to be a Methodist seminarian and am remiss at the state of the Conference approved doctrinal statements, wavering, and kow-towed to political correctness that is seeping into our churches. As a semi-Arminian I disagree with a number of theological pablum of Calvinism, but I cannot but admire the scholarly dedication and doctrinal fortitude which Calvinism has cornered. John Wesley would certainly be inflamed at how far we’ve run in the other direction.

    Excellent article.
    RS

    Reply
  5. Steve Cornell
    February 1, 2012

    Perhaps I should wait a while to think about the concern you’ve raised but initially, I don’t get it. When the flurry over including Jakes in the group first surfaced, a whirlwind of doctrinal response filled the web. I voiced my thoughts here: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/do-we-worship-god-in-trinity/. But to suggest it could lead to a downplay of doctrine in pastoral ministry feels a bit of a stretch. I guess I’ll need to think about that. I know James M. I am friends with Crawford Loritts, and I know of Mark D. These men are solid as can be doctrinally and I struggle to see how the venue of the E room could offset their high standard of preaching. Perhaps I am not seeing something here or I am misunderstanding how you view doctrinal focused ministry. In what ways would one conclude that theology is not important? The lack of concern for sound doctrine would be a tiny minority voice quickly silenced under the great emphasis on doctrine by the three leaders I mentioned above. Just not too sure about this concern.

    Reply
  6. Tim Raymond
    February 1, 2012

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify. I do not doubt MacDonald’s or Driscoll’s commitment to sound doctrine. Like I mentioned, Driscoll has penned a weighty tome on the topic and I know MacDonald has written a number of helpful books. However, by intermingling pastors who are not concerned with sound doctrine (we can all agree that Jakes is at least an example of this?), the ER communicates the idea that a concern for sound doctrine is optional. Some skills/tasks are optional for pastors; others are not. For example, a pastor may or may not be skilled at using PowerPoint, but that’s not essential to the office. A concern for sound doctrine, on the other hand, is essential. If you have a forum of pastors where some care about sound doctrine and others do not, whether you realize it or not, you’re saying that sound doctrine is on par with being skilled at PowerPoint – an optional skill some pastors may excel in but others may ignore. But that’s only how I see the situation.

    Grace and peace,

    Tim

    Reply
  7. Justin Stone
    February 1, 2012

    Good word, Pastor. Thank you for your faithfulness in vocalizing this message. May God richly bless you.

    Justin

    Reply
  8. John S
    February 1, 2012

    I don’t know enough about all these men to know about their committment to doctrine. If your assertion is true then it is concerning.

    But it seems they have at least some interest in doctrine, isn’t the ER a forum to discuss doctrinal beliefs? If they had no interest I’m guessing they wouldn’t be there.

    Reply
  9. The Pastor’s “Job” « Gairney Bridge
    February 1, 2012

    [...] that this assessment does resemble the words of John Calvin, from his commentary on Ephesians (HT: here): “Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God…Let them constrain all the [...]

    Reply
  10. Christian
    February 1, 2012

    Amen! Thank you Tim Raymond for being willing to address this issue. Both the invitation and endorsement of TD Jakes by respected pastors like Driscoll and Macdonald is a major concern to me. Regardless of whether or not Jakes is a modalist he does not preach the Gospel of the Scriptures but rather a truncated and twisted health, wealth, and prosperity message that deceives and leads astray thousands. I think part the concern also comes from the influence that these men have on the evangelical community. Jakes has a 30,000 member church and tens if not hundreds of thousands watch his sermons on TV. So if he is preaching a false Gospel (which he is) we are not dealing with the equivalent of “one pastor”. I have been blessed by the ministries of both Driscoll and Macdonald in the past but I think they have really messed up on this one. I just recently saw that after ER2 sat down with 3 black pastors and “discussed” this issue. I find it deceiving that Macdonald attempted to appear as if he wanted their honest opinion when he did not allow Voddie Baucham to preach at his conference because of conflicting views of ER2. Anyways within the 4 man discussion these men basically said that the white people who have a problem with TD Jakes are racist and the black people who have a problem with Jakes just want to fit in with the white reformed crowd. This is absolute absurdity! Who can say anything about the topic then besides the crowd that endorses the events of ER2? I love the resurgence of reformed theology in America as I myself am reformed. However I am a bit nervous about how politically correct everything is starting to become. It seems as if reformed pastors and teachers have become “much too intelligent and civilized” to call anyone a false prophet or to point out false teachings without hiding behind a pulpit and refusing to get specific. This is not love and it is not unity, it is a cheap substitute for the true and painful way of being a shepherd. There is no easy way to preach, teach, write, or speak the truth of God’s Word as it pertains to the Gospel. I am sure those involved in the reformation were quite uncomfortable in ALL the meetings, ALL the debates, ALL the tension between “brothers”, I’m sure Paul was quite grieved to stand before Peter and rebuke him, I’m sure in light of the common love and grace that Jesus had toward the religious leaders of His day and age it was not delightful for him to bring a whip into the temple. One of the things I admire about both the puritans and the reformers is that they were never too “civilized” to fight for the truth in love. I am weary that this article and a couple by Voddie Baucham seem to be the only things being said among the more influential reformed leaders proceeding ER2. I’m not saying it’s everyone’s responsibility to get involved but it would be encouraging to not to see this issue ignored by those who have more of an influence. Anyways, I wrote much more of a “comment” than I intended :) Thanks again Tim for being faithful to Jesus Christ, the people of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

    Reply
  11. Mark Totten
    February 1, 2012

    Appreciated your comments on the need for sound doctrine. I am not sure two events in a two year period will redefine anything.

    Reply
  12. Wes Wetherell
    February 1, 2012

    “Since ER2 went public, the debate has become, ‘Is Jakes a confused brother or a false teacher?’ But either way you answer that question, all acknowledge the man is not a defender of sound teaching. And yet he was held up as an example for pastors to emulate.”

    Thank you, Pastor. You’ve helped me articulate more precisely why this troubles me so much!

    Reply
  13. More Elephants In The Room « No Other Name
    February 1, 2012

    [...] on The Elephant Room can be found here, Justin Taylor’s are here, and Timothy Raymond’s here. Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

    Reply
  14. Craig Larson
    February 1, 2012

    I’m a Gospel Coalition junkie who spends a slight majority of his time around unbelievers via arenas of influence God has put in my life. I sat through ER2 and did not receive a message that sound doctrine was not important, although I probably would have insisted on reading that interpretation into the event 5 years ago. I needn’t agree with every comment (nor did MacDonald or Driscoll) nor be convinced TD Jakes is as solid as DA Carson since Christ saves us despite our bad theology and puts us all on his trajectory from different points.

    Are you positive God didn’t use Driscoll and MacDonald in a merciful way to pull Jakes closer to the triune God of Edwards? Why aren’t you responding with cautious optimism instead of suspicion? What if it’s true Jesus is TD Jake’s advocate and sees his tears and you are his detractor? Are you positive the net effect of ER2 is saying theology doesn’t matter instead of demanding it matters enough to talk about (dialogue that is)? Is it possible you have made a non-required conclusion because you are worried treating theologically sketchy Christians as brothers will system crash the work of the Spirit? I propose gracious dialogue is a more effective way to draw them into the life-giving teaching of Scripture, whether the words ‘doctrine’ or ‘Reformed’ get used at all.

    Reply
  15. Tim Raymond
    February 1, 2012

    Hi Craig,

    Thank you for the gentle push-back. In response to your comments, it is quite possible that the Lord is using MacDonald and Driscoll to move Jakes more toward Trinitarianism. And if so, I praise the Lord. What I’m concerned about is holding up such an individual as an example to pastors. You write, “Is it possible you have made a non-required conclusion because you are worried treating theologically sketchy Christians as brothers will system crash the work of the Spirit?” It’s the phrase “theologically sketchy Christian” that proves my point. Can a person be theologically sketchy and be a Christian? Certainly. But should they be a pastor? Absolutely not. I actually never challenged Jake’s salvation in the article. But not every Christian is qualified to be a pastor. If you acknowledge he is “theologically sketchy” can you also acknowledge that holding him up as an example to other pastors is illegitimate?

    Grace and peace,

    Tim Raymond

    Reply
  16. JR
    February 1, 2012

    “So in essence, what both the Elephant Rooms have done is to powerfully communicate to thousands of younger pastors that a rigorous concern for sound doctrine is not essential to pastoral faithfulness or success.”

    I’m afraid a rigorous concern for sound doctrine had been disregarded long before ER came along.

    But good post nonetheless.

    Reply
  17. Christian
    February 1, 2012

    In response to Craig,

    To say, “TD Jakes is just as solid as DA Carson because Christ saves us despite our bad theology and puts us all on his trajectory from different points” is to miss the point. That is like saying, “why does He still find fault for who resists His will” (Rom 9). The future objection that Paul was anticipating was an objection that said something like, “if God is sovereign than why even bother with anything because He has determined everything and controls everything.” Yet this objection is inaccurate because as the Westminster confession of faith puts it “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; YET so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” This is very relevant to what you have stated in claiming “DA Carson and TD Jakes are equally solid” because you are using the same logic as Paul’s objector, just within a different topic. You are IMPLICITLY saying, “God is the one who saves so whether or not a preacher is preaching the truth he is no different than the preacher who is not preaching truth” This logic is Biblically faulty. Just because God saves in spite of false teaching does not mean that we are not responsible to preach and teach the Word of God as it is. I agree that regeneration preceeds faith but that does not at all imply that the Gospel we preach can be a prosperity Gospel or the Gospel of the reformation and save the same way and it does not relieve pastors of the Biblical duty to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is within the written Word of God. Jesus told Pilot, “for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” And in testifying of the truth He not only taught and demonstrated what was true but also exposed the things that were not true. God sent the prophet of Jeremiah to not only proclaim the Word of God to the people but also to warn them of the false prophets. Paul not only gave a long lecture to his audience in Acts 17 to guard the truth that had been given to them but he also warned them that imposters and deceivers would arise from the very group that he was addressing. We see in 1 John 5:11 “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness” and yet John does not leave it at that the second half of the verse reads, “But instead even expose them.” I would submit to you that there is no more unfruitful deed of darkness than to preach and teach a false Gospel as the WOF preachers have done in the ears midst of millions and millions of people. I would see your point if we were dealing with Eschatology or a doctrine that does interfere with salvation but that is not the case. TD jakes preaches a GOSPEL that is not the Gospel of the Scriptures and Paul clearly says to “let them be accursed” who do such a thing. I am not saying that we should not gently and privatley meet with Jakes and be very kind along the way but that is just not what happened. Driscoll and Macdonald both spoke to Jakes as a biblical pastor and brother and that is dangerous. Consider also 2 John 1:9-11 “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. ” Hope this helps.

    Reply
  18. Cp
    February 2, 2012

    I think perhaps this entire discussion is hinging on the author’s assumption that attending ER2 communicates “greatness” or “honor” as a pastor.

    I am a young pastor, and I do not understand how that connection can be made. ER2 involvement, by definition, means that you bring a disagreement to the table which should be civilly discussed. It does concern me that Jakes’ Gospel inaccuracies were not discussed, but I do not see him or any other participant lauded as an example to follow. This is civil discourse; not pastor appreciation.

    Reply
  19. Bothered
    February 2, 2012

    Do you understand the purpose of the Elephant Room, or are you just looking for a reason to get hot and bothered?

    Reply
  20. Christian
    February 2, 2012

    CP, What civil discourse took place? What disagreement was there? There was no clarity on the issue of modalism and the prosperity Gospel was not even discussed. I did not see any discourse at all. It simply appeared as if they ran through a trinitarian checklist real quick and then spent the rest of the time patting eachother on the back. Also I am sure you are aware of the major influence that TD Jakes, Mark Driscoll, and James Macdonald have as pastors. Whether or not it symbolizes “honor or greatness” to be involved in ER2 simply does not matter because the point is all three of these pastors especially TD Jakes have many many followers.

    I’m not sure if the hot and bothered question was directed toward my comment or the blog, but in any case I am quite aware of what the original purpose of the elephant room was but I am not sure why that matters. The point is that the ministry of TD Jakes was “checked off” as solid despite the fact that he preaches a WOF Prosperity Gospel.

    Reply
  21. Arthur Sido
    February 2, 2012

    The bigger issue here is the notion that Jakes is the problem rather than trying to follow men you don’t know at all personally. The Scriptures are replete with exhortations to imitate the manner of life demonstrated by leaders, for example: 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9; Hebrews 13:7; Phillipians 3:17. Ironically Paul even points this out to Timothy in the midst of a “pastoral epistle”:

    Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

    How could Timothy or any other leader in the church set an example in conduct, in love, in faith, even in speech, based on a conference talk or a podcast or a recorded sermon? A believer in Ephesus could no more imitate Timothy based on his writings or conference talks than you or I can imitate a man we know only from his stage persona and books he has authored. Maybe you know John MacArthur better than I do but for the vast majority of men, the leaders they “emulate” are men they have at best shaken hands with and read their books.

    Perhaps the problem is not Jakes, although he certainly is problematic, but rather our understanding of Biblical leadership.

    Reply
  22. The Elephant Room and It’s Elephant in the Room « 10ThirtyOne To Glory – Pastor Dave's blog
    February 2, 2012

    [...] -Tim Raymond explains how the Elephant Room can be a danger to redefining the pastoral office… [...]

    Reply
  23. Christian
    February 2, 2012

    I do not need to know a man personally to know that his Gospel is not the same Gospel of the New Testament. Jakes may be reformed to the bone outside of the pulpit for all I know but that is irrelevant. No one warns against the ministry of TD Jakes because of his personal life but rather because of what he informs hundreds of thousands of people concerning the Word of God. If I see a man causing harm to someone I love or putting them in danger I’m not going to walk up to the offender and say, “sooo what’s your personal life like? Do you harm people like this outside of the public eye? I just wanted to make sure before I called the police….” That would be quite absurd. In the same way the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel that Jakes preaches directly deceives and hurts people because it is not the same gospel that we have been commanded to preach.

    Take this testimony for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuQIoZV2KRY

    I have never met TD Jakes or shook his hand but I do not have to do that in order to “snatch men out of the fire” as Jude puts it. The only thing I have to do is love God, Love the Gospel and love people enough to put myself in the uncomfortable situation of exposing what is falsely called the Gospel and sharing with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now there is a gentle and Biblical way of doing that and there is a harsh and cruel way of doing that. The problem is at ER2 there was none of that at all that the gospel that Jakes preached was “checked off” in the eyes of thousands of people. I can’t stand for that and neither should you.

    Reply
  24. Hopeful Signs at TGC? | Unsettled Christianity
    February 2, 2012

    [...] I admit that when I awoke this morning to news of John Piper’s latest sermon in which he effectively reduces women to distorted fun-house reflections of Christ, it did make me a little grumpy. The odd thing was that when I went to TGC to see if they were covering it, I found something else. Something oddly encouraging. I found three less-than-glowing critiques of The Elephant Room by TGC regulars Kevin deYoung, Justin Taylor, and Tim Raymond. [...]

    Reply
  25. Pastors Still Stomping on Elephant Room, Theological Differences
    February 3, 2012

    [...] who is the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., wrote in his post published on the Credo Magazine Website on Wednesday, that although he did not want to evaluate [...]

    Reply
  26. Pastors Still Stomping on Elephant Room, Theological Differences | Ocala Christian Radio
    February 3, 2012

    [...] who is the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., wrote in his post published on the Credo Magazine Website on Wednesday, that although he did not want to evaluate [...]

    Reply
  27. Herding the Elephants | The Cripplegate
    February 3, 2012

    [...] 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 [...]

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  28. Pastors Still Stomping on Elephant Room, Theological Differences | St Petersburg Christian Radio
    February 3, 2012

    [...] who is the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., wrote in his post published on the Credo Magazine Website on Wednesday, that although he did not want to evaluate [...]

    Reply
  29. Pastors Still Stomping on Elephant Room, Theological Differences | Shreveport Christian Radio
    February 3, 2012

    [...] who is the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Ind., wrote in his post published on the Credo Magazine Website on Wednesday, that although he did not want to evaluate [...]

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  30. This Week on Trans·formed (2/4)
    February 4, 2012

    [...] How the Elephant Room Is Redefining the Pastoral Office: 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. [...]

    Reply
  31. Craig Larson
    February 9, 2012

    Tim, thanks for your response. I just re-read your problem statement in your article (the italics). I didn’t mean for my use of the word “sketchy” to connote as much meaning as you took from it. I meant “sketchy from outsider perspective”, which may or may not be a sensor for actual ongoing error (with Jakes potentially unrecanted and serious error). I share your passion for doctrinal purity for the same reasons you do. But I’m less willing than I use to be to substitute reaction to real data with paranoia about how something could be perceived. I did not get the sense that one conversation with Jakes (even if it’s true he wasn’t adequately challenged) lends as much inertia to your generally valid observation about modeling for youngsters as you think it does. It’s possible that I’m drawing the boundary at the wrong coordinates and should be flipping alarm switches alongside you. But I left ER2 happy that open and unapologetic gospel dialogue had occurred in yet another non-traditional niche. It keeps breaking out of 20th century confines which inebriates me. I think it is important to live in the niche of clashing ideologies in the realm of relationships, not just give a tip of the hat to it as a verbal concession. Refusing to treat Jakes as an already existing leader who can be openly dialogued with still seems unnecessarily condescending to me even if white or black GC members disagree. If Jakes refuses to listen after this new display of openness, sound the alarms then and openly call him on it. Not everything can be said in one conversation. I understand the impulse for alarm, but after reviewing actual conversations, I think what actually occurred in ER2 was getting a broader sample of pastors to talk seriously about theology, not to declare theology isn’t important to a younger generation. God bless you, Tim. You’re a good communicator. I might be wrong. I have been before in which case(s) I thank Jesus for more mature men like you to mitigate the effects of my errors and bring correction to my thinking.

    Reply
  32. Craig Larson
    February 9, 2012

    Christian, one clarification…I did NOT say that Jakes was as doctrinally solid as Carson nor do I believe that. It seems like you might have thought I did. I said I needn’t be convinced that Jakes is as solid as Carson (to make the points I made). I’ll re-read your comments in a few days and look for corrective value. I admit to <100% confidence about the Jakes phenomenon at ER2, yet it still seems to me my initial post was valid, as I just explained a bit further to Tim.

    Reply
  33. Christian
    February 12, 2012

    Craig,

    I apologize for misquoting you or at least half quoting you. I could have swore I saw a period before “TD Jakes” :) However I don’t think my comment is much less valid. You said

    “I needn’t agree with every comment (nor did MacDonald or Driscoll) nor be convinced TD Jakes is as solid as DA Carson since Christ saves us despite our bad theology and puts us all on his trajectory from different points.”

    It appears rather clear that you still used the type of logic that I was referring to in my response. To say you don’t need to be convinced that Jakes is as solid as Carson *SINCE* Christ saves us despite our bad theology, is to make it appear as if both Jakes and Carson are just saved men preaching the gospel. The problem is Jakes does not preach the same gospel that Carson does and Jakes does not articulate to his people the same Jesus Christ that Carson does. I think Thabiti said it best, “Macdonald inviting Jakes to ER2 was not the equivalent of Piper inviting Warren. It is more like Augustine inviting Mohammad.” With that being said if I am missing the point of your statement than could you please clarify what the point was? I don’t think anyone is saying that you must agree with EVERY comment that a fellow believer or pastor makes, but you and I both know that this issue extends far beyond that (at least I hope). This is not about reformed theology vs non reformed theology this is Christianity vs false Christianity. If Jakes were just guilty of a little bit of bad theology I would not be wasting my time writing this.

    You also stated, “I propose gracious dialogue is a more effective way to draw them into the life-giving teaching of Scripture, whether the words ‘doctrine’ or ‘Reformed’ get used at all.”

    This would be true in regard to this situation if ER2 was done in private, outside of the public eye but it was not. I believe many people walked away from listening to or watching ER2 thinking, “TD Jakes may not be such a false teacher after all”. I believe that because I have witnessed it personally. The fact is Craig although you did not commend TD Jakes as “solid” James Macdonald DID and that must be corrected to the public since it was done in the eyes and ears of the public. Can I ask in what way Macdonald or Driscoll or anyone else at ER2 drew Jakes in closer to the life-giving power of Scripture??? They didn’t challenge Jake’s teaching at all, they simply affirmed everything that he said and gave him and his ministry multiple compliments. I am seeing a trend of people lately saying, “Don’t judge what might have gone on in private at ER2″. I think that is completely irrelevant to the discussion. This isn’t about who James Macdonald is friends with or who he meets for lunch. What was done in private does not affect the public in a positive or negative sense. ER2 was done in public and affected the public in a negative sense because it gave the impression that the ministry of TD Jakes was OK. Like I said before, I really do not care if Jakes repented of every heresy he has ever taught “behind the scenes” because the fact is he is right back in the pulpit preaching those same heresies again today. How do I know that? His prosperity Gospel has not changed, he has not repented of anything at all, nor did Macdonald or Driscoll give the impression that there was anything worthy of repentance within his teachings. In fact they did the opposite by commending his comments. The best we could possibly conclude is that Jakes is a TRINITARIAN wof false gospel prosperity preacher. What does this change? And yet we cannot even conclude that because he quite obviously still has not repented of what he previously taught concerning the trinity. His modalism showed up quite clearly in the conversation and was commended as Trinitarian. I would recommend if you have not to read some of TD Jakes books to do so or at least visit 9marks to see a review of them because you will see clearly that nothing at all changed with Jake’s teaching. I don’t think the issue here is “are we looking at this situation optimistically or pessimistically” but rather are we looking at this situation honestly and Biblically. If a preacher is pointing hundreds of thousands of men and women toward destruction than it seems much more noble and loving to appear pessimistic while warning others about the deceiver than to appear optimistic and allow the deceived to perish or remain deceived.

    I don’t mean to jump into your conversation with Tim but I did notice one thing that I would like to comment on.

    You said, “you cannot cover everything in one conversation”. But the point is not that everything was not covered the point is nothing at all was covered. The only things that were covered were areas of apparent agreement. As I said before Macdonald did nothing but commend the things that were said by Jakes, he did not challenge them at all. I have more to write but I am out of time.

    I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend that you listen to this audio of a phone interview with Voddie Baucham and James White on the issue ( http://www.aomin.org/podcasts/20120202.mp3 ) and also read these articles by Thabiti (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2012/02/07/putting-a-face-on-destruction/ ) and Baucham ( http://www.gracefamilybaptist.net/voddie-baucham-ministries/blog/elephant-room-2012-01/ ) on the issue if you have not already.

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  34. Christian
    February 12, 2012

    “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

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  35. Weekly Recap: 2.4.12 | Marturo
    March 4, 2012

    [...] How the Elephant Room is Redefining the Pastoral Office- Credo Magazine j.mp/wofsB4 [...]

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  36. Owl Post: 2-3-2012 « 42lifeinbetween
    March 9, 2012

    [...] the number of links for this section. So here are some the best that I read this last week.” Tim Raymond, Justin Taylor, Kevin DeYoung, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Don Carson and Tim [...]

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