30 September 2011

Two timely and bumpable issues: God's Wisdom in Proverbs, and Jakes

by Dan Phillips

It isn't "my" day, but I wanted to get two timely tidbits up. My betters, Phil and Frank, should bump when they're ready to fire.

First timely tidbit: God's Wisdom in Proverbs

The ink is still wet, I know. But Kress has been offering God's Wisdom in Proverbs for a whopping 50% off, and that sale is set to expire 10/1/2011. As it is, the same was extended to accommodate folks' pay day. So, if you have any interest in the book, I'd encourage you to save some money, and don't regret it later.

In the absence of full reviews, here are some of the gracious endorsers.

Phil Johnson:

“God’s Wisdom in Proverbs is written brilliantly at a level that will challenge anyone who is interested enough in gaining wisdom and understanding to be serious in that quest. Readers will range from serious students of Scripture to casual lay readers on their way to a more serious approach to Scripture. It explains the wisdom of Proverbs (and the biblical nature of wisdom per se) in a clear, readable fashion that will be extremely helpful to everyone from students entering the academic world for the first time, to new parents seeking biblical insight into the process of child-rearing, to anyone in a position of responsibility or leadership. I recommend it for all who are tired of the superficial, self-centered themes that have filled evangelical pulpits and bookshelves for the past three decades (or more). If you are hungry for biblical material, God’s Wisdom in Proverbs will feed your appetite.”
Dr. James Hamilton:
“One of the great pleasures of life is puzzling through the book of Proverbs, and if you’re looking to navigate life with Solomonic skill, Dan Phillips is ready to show you the ropes. This book’s author is not too proud to learn from the Bible and he’s not too scared to think for himself. This is the first book I would recommend for those wanting to study Proverbs.”
Pastor John A. Kitchen:
“Dan Phillips is a first-rate exegete with the tracking skills of a bloodhound and the tenacity of a pit bull. He won’t rest till he’s thoroughly searched a matter out and once he’s got a hold on the truth he won’t let go. He delivers the goods, and he does so with nerve and verve, punch and panache. You’ll find God’s Wisdom in Proverbs to be both scholarly in its depth and sagacious in its insight and application.”
Other endorsements include Dr. Chris Brauns, Dr. Todd Buck, Eric Redmond, Pastor Steve Meister, Casey Lute, Dr. Michael Rydelnik, Dr. Kevin Zuber, and Adrian Warnock.

Second timely tidbit: T. D Jakes in the Elephant Room

A number of really terrific posts have been written on this, the latest being Tim Challies. I'm sure others (including my betters here) will weigh in.

Here's my thought: would any responsible Christian leader ever say the following?

  • "Nobody is certain what Pastor X believes about whether or not Christ is Lord, but he's an important Christian leader, and we all should listen to him."
  • "Nobody is certain what Pastor X believes about whether or not the Bible is the Word of God, but he's an important Christian leader, and we all should listen to him."
  • "Nobody is certain what Pastor X believes about what a sinner must do to be saved, but he's an important Christian leader, and we all should listen to him."
  • "Nobody is certain what Pastor X believes about whether or not God exists, but he's an important Christian leader, and we all should listen to him."
  • "Nobody is certain what Pastor X believes about whether or not God is holy, but he's an important Christian leader, and we all should listen to him."
So does this make sense?
  • "Nobody is certain what T. D. Jakes believes about the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity, but he's an important Christian leader, and we all should listen to him."
What I am saying is this: does not the very fact that Jakes is unclear on this basic, fundamental doctrine in and of itself disqualify him as being a man to whom Christian leaders should listen? Isn't clarity on fundamental truths a basic, foundational sine qua non for a Christian leader?

This question gets us past the whole swamp of trying to redeem Jakes' conflicting statements on the issue. We don't need to read his mind. If he can't make himself clear on something that a well-taught teenager can affirm, then in what way is he a role model for any Christians to emulate?

I realize that I'm assuming something. I am assuming that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in the Bible.

Guilty. That's exactly what I believe. (You can see my own expression of it here, if you like.)

But didn't we decide quite a while ago that this is the case? Are we still supposed to be working out the fundamentals, 2000 years later?

Really, I think that should be the main question. Not, "Does T. D. Jakes believe in the Trinity?", but "Given that people still don't even know whether Jakes affirms the Biblical teaching about the Trinity, how is he in any sense a Christian leader?"

Dan Phillips's signature

47 comments:

donsands said...

I think I'm gonna get your book for a good friend of mine; a pastor and scholar. I really think he will enjoy it, even though he isn't reformed.

Jakes is such a phoney. Not only his Modalism, but all his preaching is emotional sensationalism, and even superstition. What a waste of time this man's teachings are. And yet thousands of people will claim he is incredible and has made a difference in their life.

One day we will all know, when Jesus Christ the Lord of every heart, and knows every hidden agenda, causes all things to be revealed. That's a bit sobering isn't it. Or, at least it should be.

have a terrific Lord's day!

Jerry Wragg said...

And therefore, J. MacDonald's obviously uninformed opinion of Jakes exposes why his own approach to the Scriptures (and the strong heritage of orthodoxy in church history, for that matter) needs a complete overhaul.

Barbara said...

Yanno, not to downplay the importance of the doctrine of the Trinity here, but there's another elephant in that room - Jakes' Prosperity/Word-faith teachings. I mean, if they call him brother, who's coming to the Elephant Room next year? Benny Hinn? Where does it end?

DJP said...

You're right, of course, Barbara.

But sometimes it's good to have A target, and that's what I'm saying here.

I'm targeting the very concept that any Christian leader could say "Sure, he's unclear on the Trinity, BUT..." — and himself continue to be taken seriously as a Christian leader.

Seth said...

Well said. He needs to make clear what he believes and why.

DJP said...

Seth, you're right: but what I'm saying is even more fundamental. The attitude of all responsible Christian leaders should be, "Yeah, get back to us when you have a clear and unambiguous, bridge-burning record of proclaiming the truth and denouncing heresy on this issue."

DJP said...

If I may be forgiven a political analogy, I feel similarly about pols who have always and only GOVERNED as enthusiastic pro-aborts, but suddenly experience a "Des Moines Road" conversion and claim to be pro-life.

Not that I have anyone in mind, of course.

Nor that I don't.

(c;

Sean@Southway said...

I'm willing to give James MacDonald the benefit of the doubt and say that he likely would not have invited Jakes unless he had already discussed the matter with him and heard SOME reasoning that convinces him of Jakes' orthodoxy. (Even if it wouldn't convince you or I...) What I want to know is why- with all the controversy stirring and Christians wondering what the truth is- Pastor James doesn't just tell us all what it is that convinces him of Jakes' orthodoxy?

That way we can have something more to go on than a quick reference to a problematic wording in Jakes' church's doctrinal statement and James MacDonald's say so. One would think that if MacDonald felt there was no real disagreement between Jakes and the other pastors in attendance with regard to the trinity, he would go ahead and clarify why so that the discussion at the Elephant Room could focus on...well...Actual elephants in the room rather than imaginary disagreements.

Tom Chantry said...

What I want to know is why- with all the controversy stirring and Christians wondering what the truth is- Pastor James doesn't just tell us all what it is that convinces him of Jakes' orthodoxy?

I hope that the answer is not that Jakes has a big prominent ministry that reaches thousands of people. I really hope not.

DJP said...

Sean, fair enough; but it makes me feel that I still haven't made my point.

Suppose I were somehow to start a wildly successful series of broadcast shows. The idea is I bring on Christian leaders, and have gritty discussions. I'll call it... The Giraffe Room. Because, you know, like giraffes, leaders are sticking their heads 'way up there.

Phone rings. It's Rob Bell. He wants on. I say, "Dude, you don't really match the requirements."

Bell says, "Oh, but Dan, I believe in the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. I affirm the five Solas. I affirm Nicea, Chalcedon, and even London 1689. I believe in eternal conscious torment of all the lost in Hell."

I say, "..."

Then I say, "Where? Where do you believe this?"

"I just told you, right now, on the phone," Bell replies.

So: does he fit the bill now?

Tom said...

Sensei,

I read your blog too quickly at first. You added your blurb about Bishop Jakes right below the endorsements for your book (which I've started reading, btw), and for a split second I thought he had endorsed your book.

Tom

FWIW, I agree with your concern about the Bishop.

DJP said...

Tom - LOL.

Now, that offered endorsement would test the relative proximity of my walk and my mouth, wouldn't it?

Sean@Southway said...

Dan-

Well, that would be where I would say:

"Wow Rob, I'm really glad to hear that you believe all this. I hope you'll understand that since you've been such a controversial figure in the past, and given your past views, I'd like to put your current beliefs out there for people to see before I bring you on the air. Maybe we could even do a series of interview posts on my blog so that people can hear your reasons for changing your mind from the horse's mouth. That way, we can have a productive discussion and not have to worry about past controversies."

I'm not disagreeing with your point. I guess I just am questioning why this isn't being put out there in the open and dealt with prior to the event. The only answer I can think of honestly (and I apologize for the terrible sin of motive judging here) is that more controversial questions means more interest.

Dan Sudfeld said...

On timely tidbit #1...Ugh! Tried to order book. Kress website is telling me they won't ship to Canada. Suggestions?

Tom said...

{continued from my previous post}

I know that James White took Phillips, Craig, and Dean to task over their oneness views as well. That was an interesting exchange.

Tom Chantry said...

I read your blog too quickly at first. You added your blurb about Bishop Jakes right below the endorsements for your book (which I've started reading, btw), and for a split second I thought he had endorsed your book.

Thank you so much, Tom! Great morning laugh.

DJP said...

Dan, sorry: my understanding is that you need to write tonya.waycaster, then @, then stl-distribution.com.

Amazon is selling it also, but at less of a discount.

Matt said...

Sorry, sign me up for a conference where there is actually real life conversation that can be clarifying and, let's face it, eternally consequential, as opposed to the same mutual admiration society conferences among our reformed fraternity. As fun as all your "open letters" are, I'm looking forward to an actual conversation...

Eric said...

After all, conversation is to be revered and strived for at all costs. Conversation is in fact the mission of the church. Whether or not the conversation goes anywhere, or concludes anything, or proclaims the gospel, or muddies the gospel, or whatever - such things are not to be a concern if only we can have a conversation. And of course if we can have diversity in conversation then we have checked another box, since diversity is an end in and of itself.

Eric said...

Matt,

Isn't Dan contributing to a conversation on the internets? Is Dan's contribution to the conversation not welcome?

Matt said...

Yes Eric. But, me typing a response to you in this little box is one kind of conversation.
You and me sitting down together is another.

Matt said...

Wow Eric. You created this emergent-type straw man out of conversation and diversity and then shot him.
All I'm saying is our tribe (another word I'm sure you'll love) tends to talk about and not to.

Just Jules said...

"Does not the very fact that Jakes is unclear on this basic, fundamental doctrine in and of itself disqualify him as being a man to whom Christian leaders should listen?"

Yes. Disqualified. In fact, why do we even have to ask this question? The fact that we do is the real elephant in the room.

P. Trey Rhodes said...

Thanks for the book. Thanks for the video as well. Thanks for reminding us about T.D. Jakes. Love you guys and love to read your stuff, don't always agree, but I always think once I've read. That's why I'll always come back for more. Stay the course. It's God designed!

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Jules said: "Yes. Disqualified. In fact, why do we even have to ask this question? The fact that we do is the real elephant in the room."

Good comment, Jules!

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Matt,

I didn't shoot the strawman, I held him up to be admired. ;)

As to the internet conversation, I was merely pointing out that you were pretty dismissive of Dan's contribution. Likewise, you dismissed Frank's open letters and contrasted them with "actual conversation", as if sitting in an "elephant room" is the only way to have an actual conversation.

More seriously, if you believe Dan is against serious and diverse conversation within the Christian community (which your comment seems to imply), then you have seriously misunderstood Dan's point.

Tom Chantry said...

There does seem to be a misunderstanding at this point on the nature of the controversy. Inviting Jakes to a Christian meeting is not an emergent-ish decision. The Emergents have been arguing for years that we need to un-write all post-Nicene theology and open our arms to all who hold the ancient Creeds. The decision to invite Jakes clearly does not reflect this standard.

Dave Sherrill said...

Dan, the thing about the MacDonald/Jakes debacle that gets my goat is when MacD, speaking as a pastor, calls Jakes his brother in Christ. That's saying a mouthful.

I hope MacD's elders at home are listening. Inviting heretics to your church is a great thing - they need to hear the truth and the gospel. Inviting heretics to sit at the table as family in the assembly of the blessed is deadly dangerous to your flock. Pastoral influence is not to be denied. When a pastor feeds his flock to the wolves, his influence is a soul-killing danger.

Matt said...

Is Jakes a Christian?
Some say yes. Some say no. He says yes.

Is Jakes view of the trinity and prosperity gospel at least) "troubling"? Yes

Do we need another blog post about what we think Jakes believes? No

Would it be good for Christian leader to sit down with Jakes and ask him to clarify? Yes

What am I missing?

Eric said...

Matt,

Perhaps read Dan's post carefully again. Can you see anything that Dan thinks you are missing? Anything at all?

Matt said...

OK, read it again. And I will conceed that those who deem Jakes a heretic think the whole ER thing's misguided. I'm not so sure. Again, Jakes considers himself Christian, and the opportunity for conversation (sorry that pomo word again) seems like a great opportunity to really get clarity on this. Phil followed up on this post by listing the reasons we should not "play nice" with heretics (read Jakes). I asked him in what context he would talk/challenge with Jakes. Perhaps he can help me.

Tom Chantry said...

Matt,

Here is what the Elephant Room is:

"What if we created a new ‘tribe?’ A tribe based on being humble enough to listen and reconsider what the Scriptures actually say. A tribe that holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity and is open handed with everything else. Maybe, together, we can create a new center? A place where we are for everything the bible demands and demand nothing that scriptures are silent about."

Not making that up - it's in the Purpose Statement. So we're going to create this new center - with Jakes? He's going to help us define the new template for orthodoxy? Is that something you're willing to let him do because he says he's a Christian?

And, since this isn't Phil's meta, I'll take a guess at his answer to your question: he would speak to Jakes, would Jakes permit it, privately and without offering him a platform from which to clothe his heresy in respectability.

Zach said...

Dan says: "Really, I think that should be the main question. Not, "Does T. D. Jakes believe in the Trinity?", but "Given that people still don't even know whether Jakes affirms the Biblical teaching about the Trinity, how is he in any sense a Christian leader?"

All I can say is, "Nailed it."

DJP said...

Thanks, Zach. Well-spotted. That is the heart of my case.

Eric said...

Matt,

Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons consider themsleves Christians as well, but they don't get invited to conferences featuring Christian leaders.

The point isn't that no one can ever talk to Jakes or engage him in conversation about his beliefs concerning the Trinity. To begin with, that has been tried numerous times with little clarity provided.

There are plenty of "oppotunities for conversation" that don't involve holding him up as a Christian leader. Driscoll also purposefully misses the point when he glories in the opportunity to talk to Jakes rather than blog or tweet about him, as if he would not otherwise have an opportunity to speak with Jakes if it was not in this format. It's a false dualism to say I can either gossip about someone on my blog or invite him to a conference and lift him up him as a Christian leader...it's not either/or.

James S said...

Yeah, I'm completely in agreement with Dan here. I have never considered Jakes to even be resembling an evangelical leader, based on all of his "Bible teaching", if you could even call sentimentalized emotionalism 'teaching'. (You certainly can't call it 'bible' teaching.)
Even The WWF (WWE now) has put out more convincing examples of evangelical leaders with their wrestler/actor caricatures than this Jakes guy.

Matt said...

Guess I still have confidence in the men who will represent to challenge Jakes sufficiently that if he identifies clearly with a heretical view he will not become "the new center." Again if your premise is "he's a heretic," of course its beyond this stated goal of ER, but the fact that he is there seems like a great opportunity for clarity (even more than conversation).

Tom Chantry said...

Phil's Answer from the other thread:

If he were willing, I'd talk to Jakes privately in any kind of neutral setting.

If his terms for meeting obliged me to grant him a platform to spin-doctor his teaching for the sake of convincing people under my pastoral care that his deviation from Trinitarianism is of no real importance I absolutely would not agree to meet with him.

To me the difference in those two scenarios is obvious. If anyone is confused by it, I invite you to ponder WHY the apostle John would suggest that anyone who gives a heretic a greeting becomes a participant in his evil deeds.

Hint: It wasn't because the apostle of love was suggesting we should be "unloving."


If anyone needs me I'll be taking my victory lap!

Dan, does this qualify me as a prophet?

Rich Barcellos said...

Tom, u r a prophet - like, you see things?

Rich Barcellos said...

Tom, u r a prophet - like, you see things?

Tom Chantry said...

Like a television in my head, Rich.

Eric said...

That just about brings this meta full circle, since MD is also now rejoicing over Jakes' inclusion.

Which brings up this question that hearkens back to the pornographic divinations post: Why doesn't Driscoll just settle the matter by telling everyone that God told him that Jakes must be in the elephant room?

Rich Barcellos said...

Tom, I'm jealous. Now that you told us, everyone's gonna come to you for ministry. In no time, you'll either b on TBN or in the ER.

Aaron Snell said...

Notice Rich didn't say, "ON the ER."

Rich Barcellos said...

Aaron, :-)

Michael T. said...

As I commented on Phil's post, they should just get it over with and invite the Dali Lama. Him, the Pope, and Oprah would complete the perfect circle of post post post modern Christian leadership.