(NOTE: Don't miss the clip from yesterday's "Wretched Radio" interview at the end of the post.)
here's a distinct change in volume, tone, and attitude between James MacDonald's "Humble Pie" blogpost and yesterday's "Not for the Faint of Heart" addendum.
In the earlier post, MacDonald acknowledged his own inconsistency: he knew he should not have "used strong language" to scold others for being harsh in their criticism of the Elephant Room strategy. But in yesterday's post and video, MacDonald casts off restraint and reverts to angry-sounding rhetoric.
Despite their starkly contrasting styles, both statements have one thing in common: MacDonald wishes those with concerns about what he is doing would just shut up. He says it euphemistically: "We are asking that those interested in what we are doing allow the conversations to take place before making final conclusions about their wisdom or helpfulness." But clearly, that plea applies to critics, not to MacDonald himself or to those who support his strategy.
There are multiple layers of irony in that. MacDonald purports to be championing fearless dialogue with people he says he doesn't necessarily agree with. But there's a distinct and clearly discernible direction to the drift of the "dialogue." It is painfully obvious that MacDonald is not so keen to listen and learn when someone more conservative than he wants to share a perspective.
But let's set all of that aside. What troubled me much more about the video MacDonald posted yesterday was his repeated insistence from beginning to end that the participants of Elephant Room 2 are a true Band of Spiritual Brothers:
In the earlier "Humble Pie" blogpost, MacDonald had expressed "regret that the purpose of the Elephant Room was not expanded and explained before including a greater breadth of participants." I took that as an admission that he had come to realize why so many people thought it inappropriate to invite a non-Trinitarian into a discussion that was being advertised as a conversation between brothers in Christ who are all committed to the same Christ and the same gospel.
See, when MacDonald announced the Jakes invitation, he wrote, "Getting brothers together who believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone but normally don't interact, is what the Elephant Room is all about." That assertion was doubtless the main reason for the force of the backlash against Jakes's involvement. At the very least, concern over MacDonald's blithe embrace of a non-Trinitarian as a "brother" was the dominant theme in the criticisms posted on MacDonald's blog.
So the ER Purpose Statement was quickly modified to include the phrase "conversation among all kinds of leaders . . ." That, I assumed, was what MacDonald was talking about when he mentioned the expansion of the Purpose Statement to accommodate a "greater breadth of participants."
But in the above video, he repeatedly insists (in rather dogmatic terms and with an emphatic tone) that all ER participants are indeed his "brothers."
That, I think, is why MacDonald and the ER pose a major problem for the Gospel Coalition. He is a council member of TGC and an influential spokesman for the movement. And the first point in TGC's confessional statement is "The Tri-une God."
So is biblical and historic Trinitarianism an essential tenet of Gospel truth, or is it not? If yes, then TGC needs to hold its own council members to the implications of that. If not, one wonders what was the point of the organization in the first place.
Or to put it another way: The collective leadership of TGC are going to have to decide which is more important: the Gospel, or the Coalition.