15 November 2011

T. D. Jakes (and the like) Part One: isn't "unclear leader" an oxymoron?

by Dan Phillips

Hard as it may be to believe, there are two issues relating to the Elephant Room / T. D. Jakes kerfuffle which (A) I think are crucial, yet (B) haven't gotten the attention that we need to pay them. I'm going to use this platform to feature each, hoping to force them into the spotlight. Today focuses on just one of those issues.

Jakes' history in Modalism and other false teaching is well-known, well-documented, and longterm.  He didn't recently dabble in it, toy with it, get some learned and gracious rebuke, and request some time (removed from teaching) to consider. Jakes has been spoken of and spoken to. He's achieved a big visible platform, which he's used and used. Jakes has never denounced, disowned, nor distanced. In fact, he specifically refuses to do so.

So now comes enabler James MacDonald, who — on the most charitable-yet-truthful read I can imagine — has been trying on various techniques for damage-control, like a sister in a shoe store. MacDonald first says Jakes is going to be a guest on this show which features great Christian leaders. All Heaven breaks loose. MacDonald, who has styled Reformed critics as "Nazis," eventually changes the ER purpose statement, and says he's eating "humble pie."

Selah.

Now MacDonald is back, thumping his chest and bellowing defiance at critics, calling Jakes a "brother" (later trimming the whiskers of the term "brother")... and being a bit coy.

How "coy"? First, MacDonald complains about the "inability of some to reserve judgement til the event." Reserve judgment? About what? one wonders. About the shifting mission of ER? About Jakes' position?

As to the former, it's hard to blame anyone for finding the situation unclear. About the latter, as we noted, Jakes' position has been well-known. Or is it? MacDonald seems to want to imply that it isn't. Is MacDonald unaware of all the work and effort that's been put into that particular project? It's hard to imagine how to excuse such ignorance, given the outpour since MacDonald's initial announcement.

Or is it that MacDonald thinks that everyone (except MacDonald) is wrong about Jakes' position? That would seem to be the case. First, against all known evidence (and citing nothing fresh), MacDonald says Jakes is not — which would have to mean no longer is — a Modalist. MacDonald further says: "I am looking forward to hearing him explain his position currently and how that may have changed from things he has said historically." So he hints that Jakes' position (A) "may have" changed, and (B) is in need of explanation.

What's more, though, MacDonald also now says "clearly I believe Bishop Jakes is trinitarian and will affirm such in ER2." Looks odd, laid against "may have," doesn't it?

Now, that is a statement meriting a lot of parsing on many levels, not least of them the fact that MacDonald apparently thinks that the hundreds (thousands? tens of thousands?) of Jakes' supporters who know no such thing can safely and responsibly be left in the dark, and conceivably die safely without that knowledge, worshiping what MacDonald himself has agreed is a false (Sabellian) god, until MacDonald's paid event brings enlightenment to those who can afford it.

But this whole post is about focusing on one issue, one question. Here it is. It's worth shouting.
If the world (except for James MacDonald) is unaware of T. D. Jakes' real position on a doctrine as central and foundational as the Trinity, then in what sense is Jakes any kind of a leader, let alone a Christian leader?
It feels surreal to have to explain this. But here we are, aren't we? So let's do this.

What is a pastor's chief "job," according to (hel-lo?) God? It is to labor in the Word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17). It is to preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:1-2). It is to preach the Word and truth so clearly as to expose and refute error (Titus 1:9). These are matters of communication, in which it is the very heart and definition of the role of the pastor to (A) communicate (B) truth (C) clearly and (D) convincingly. Obviously, the more important the topic, the more critical these essentials.

Well then: Is the nature of God important? (Again, even having to pose the question makes me feel we're in Bizzaroworld... but that's hardly Breaking News, is it?) Of course the nature of God is important. Living as we are thousands of years after the close of the Canon, and many hundreds of years after Nicea and Chalcedon, is the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity essential to understanding the nature of God? Indeed, one of  James MacDonald's mouths says that the doctrine of the "trinity is clearly a major – national boarder [sic] issue," and I agree with that mouth.

So, to say it again patiently, if it is true (stretching charity well beyond the snapping-point) that Jakes has repented of his Modalism and now embraces a robust, Biblical doctrine of the Trinity, and yet nobody of the thousands who have heard and read him with the sole exception of James MacDonald knows that fact, aren't the very nicest conclusions we can draw about Jakes these two: that he is —
  1. An extremely poor communicator; and
  2. An extremely poor judge of what is important?
And if either of those things is true, then please, someone tell me — how is Jakes any kind of any leader, let alone a Christian leader, let alone a Christian leader who should be lifted up for analysis and emulation on an international platform?

See, I think that is a simple, discrete, fundamental, basic, vital, crucial question that doesn't involve the reading of minds, hearts or tea leaves. It should be absolutely basic. Yet I don't see that simple question asked much.

Really, think about it. Can you imagine Friel saying "We're going to have Phil Johnson on, and get to the heart of what he really believes about the sovereignty of God in salvation!" Or Janet Mefferd running the plug, "Tomorrow on the show, Frank Turk clarifies whether or not he really sees local church involvement as important in the Christian life!" Or Pirate Radio: "Friday on the show, Dan Phillips reveals whether or not he thinks it matters to root the Gospel in the entire Bible!"

You'd all laugh, right? It'd be a joke! Whatever our other many failings, I think we've probably gone on-record about those vital truths, right? And you could multiply it out to Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, John Piper, or any other person who is justly viewed as a leader in any sense.

Yet somehow "Pay money to find out whether or not renowned Christian leader T. D. Jakes believes in the Trinity" makes sense — to say nothing else? On any level?

Yeah, I don't think so.

And I'm being pretty clear on that, right?

Dan Phillips's signature

141 comments:

David Regier said...

Boom.

Rita Tomassetti said...

Crystal clear. And that should be the end of the matter. Period....but we all know that it probably wont be. After McDonald's claim that he is a trinitarian it's only fair that TD Jakes openly and publicly repents and confirms that he indeed is a trinitarian...no one should have to pay for any conference to have to find out about it.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Wow, that's a great point, cutting through bone to the marrow of a deeper issue.

If, as MacDonald asserts, Jakes has renounced Modalism and embraced Trinitarianism, that's a good thing. But it will have to be made explicit in the ER. And then the lingering DJP query as posited here will become the new elephant in the room.

Are any of the Pyros going to watch ER2?

Robert said...

Why can't they have a conference with Piper talking about some of his guest speakers at conferences or with orthodox continuationists and orthodox cessationists hashing out spiritual gifts? That would be a conference dealing with the elephant in a room that is worth dealing with.

MacDonald just seems to be bringing in sensationalist types of figures because of their draw.

olan strickland said...

Romans 16:17 instructs us to "watch out for, mark (scope out)" those who cause divisions and create obstacles (bait stick for a trap)and avoid them.

MacDonald (and the like) should be put under the microscope for their violation of this passage. Careful scrutiny is biblical and called for. Their methodologies (MacDonald and the like) reveal severe deficiencies in their theology regardless of what creeds they have signed or what organizations they belong to.

If these leaders can't be clear on this issue of a modalist heretic then they are to be AVOIDED!

Fred Butler said...

Robert is right on. I never thought Jakes is an "Elephant in the Room." I do however, believe the so-called Calvinistic charismatics like Sam Storms and C.J. Mahaney at the T4G is. The same with the Reformed Covenant guys and the Reformed Dispensational oriented guys. If you want to stir up an awkward situation, there you go.

The trailer we could produce to advertise it would be awesome. The nervous looks when MacDonald asks one of the Sovereign Grace guys to explain the relevance of the gift of tongues in today's modern church.

Stan McCullars said...

NEXT!

Stan McCullars said...

I keep hoping that one Sunday R.C. Sproul will reveal his position on justification by faith.

Tom Chantry said...

And if either of those things is true, then please, someone tell me — how is Jakes any kind of any leader, let alone a Christian leader, let alone a Christian leader who should be lifted up for analysis and emulation on an international platform?

And that, my friends, is a question that goes to the very heart of James MacDonald's perception of leadership. The only answer I have been able to come up with is, in MacDonald's mind, Jakes is a Christian leader who should be lifted up for analysis and emulation on an international platform because he draws big numbers. Or, to put it another way, Using the Name of Christ + Big Numbers = Effective Christian Leadership.

Which would beg the further questions: how could any serious Christian hope to learn anything about leadership from the Elephant Room, or from anything run by James MacDonald?

I'd love to think that there were another, better, more charitable answer to this question, but since Dan is the first to ask it I'm unaware of any other answer. Given that the whole point of the ER is to explore effective leadership, don't you think they'd have some sort of stated criteria on what leadership is? Isn't it fairly obvious that the criteria is all about the numbers?

Sarah said...

Two things:
1. When will Macdonald stop redefining his terms?
2. When will TGC take a stand about Macdonald's actions?

Mathew Sims said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt this way and what's more the continued request to reserve judgement seem misplaced--if you're moving from heresy to truth that needs to be immediately proclaimed. The only reason to wait is marketing for ER2. There's no other good reason.

I'm sure you'll hit this later but what about his prosperity gospel? What shall we do with that even if he confesses trinitarian doctrine? IMO anyone who gets something as big as the trinity wrong for so many years if his mind is changed should immed step down as a leader before assuming he's fit for service.

Tom Chantry said...

@Matthew Simms

I said this in another thread, but it bears repeating here: If indeed, Jakes affirms Nicene Trinitarianism in such clear terms as to utterly repent of and repudiate his prior Modalism, the only reasonable gospel-oriented response would be to say, "Wonderful; now let's talk about the gospel. What is it, and what are its benefits, and how should we preach it?" With so much being said about Jakes' problems relating to the Trinity, nothing leads me to believe that anyone is prepared to challenge him on the prosperity gospel.

olan strickland said...

DJP: until MacDonald's paid event brings enlightenment to those who can afford it.

Yet somehow "Pay money to find out whether or not renowned Christian leader T. D. Jakes believes in the Trinity" makes sense — to say nothing else? On any level?

Chantry: Using the Name of Christ + Big Numbers = Effective Christian Leadership.

God's Word: Romans 16:18!

Noah said...

The more I read this blog and the threads that come with it, the more I am learning that it is best to wait for Tom Chantry to comment and then say, "Yes, what Tom said."

So...

"The only answer I have been able to come up with is, in MacDonald's mind, Jakes is a Christian leader who should be lifted up for analysis and emulation on an international platform because he draws big numbers. Or, to put it another way, Using the Name of Christ + Big Numbers = Effective Christian Leadership."

Yes, what Tom said, and I can add nothing else.

Robert said...

Tom,

Given all the exposure by MacDonald and others to Jakes' beliefs about the Trinity, I'd say that his preaching of the prosperity gospel/word-faith beliefs are going to be the real elephant in the room. Although one could argue that it is actually more like a Trojan Horse.

Daryl said...

Robert,

You might be on to something with that Trojan Horse comment.

Given:
A) JM seems to consistently bring conversations about leadership and ministry back to "How big is your church?"
B) His buddies Perry Noble and Steven Furtick clearly have prosperity leanings
C) No one called them out on that

It almost makes one wonder if James isn't seeing something he can us, in the prosperity thing.

The tough part in all of this, is that to say stuff like that is perilously close to slanderous, except that, as so many have said, when you follow the bread crumbs it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore the house they're leading up to.

Is it not the job of the church to follow those crumbs and then ask questions?

And isn't it the job of the crumb-dropper to answer them?

What I hate most about this is James MacDonald has so quickly gone from a significant guy whose preaching style I don't care for, but whose message ought to be heard...to a guy whose message maybe shouldn't be heard.

olan strickland said...

"The right response of believers to false teachers, especially those who teach their heresy under the guise of Christianity, is not debate or dialogue. We are to turn away from them . . ." (John MacArthur Jr., NTC: Romans 9-16, p.373, emphasis mine).

MacDonald should buy MacArthur's commentaries.

DJP said...

Concern about the "prosperity gospel" is right, appropriate, critical.

Just let me pound the drum that, if the post's topic had the place it deserved, we wouldn't even get that far in terms of evaluating Jakes' right to prominence and focus among Gospel/Bible-lovers.

On the issue of Jakes, MacDonald, and the Prosperity [False] Gospel, may I highlight something else I haven't seen made much of?

When MacDonald says, "I am also excited to hear [Jakes] state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring reformed world," is he also signaling a "pish-posh" dismissal of concerns over the Prosperity Gospel?

Dave said...

Dan, If I could have figured out how to post at MacDonald's blog I would have made a statement similar to yours. I don't see an issue of the conversation being preempted as MacDonald fears - the conversation is now - ...NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME; BEHOLD NOW IS THE DAY OF SALVATION... It appears that MacDonald has bought in to the prosperity gospel and could care less about those stumbling in the dark.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

So the “big reveal” from T.D. Jakes will come with a hefty price tag. What of the nonpaying onlookers, will we at some point be informed of “is he or isn’t he” a full fledged, once and for all time stated, with no possibility of a retraction, Trinitarian?

And if this is the case, that us non-payees will get the word eventually, what of those who dug deep into their pockets to hear “the big reveal,” will they feel like they paid the ticket price for those of us who are put on a delayed “stand by” status?

I know I‘d feel cheated. But then this is acceptable practice in the realm of the Prosperity Gospel, preaching world, that is to get big money up front for a delayed, yet-to-come in the near future (if you only have enough faith) dream. So, is this going to be one of those “in your dreams” type thing, too?

I feel like the “big reveal” of is he or isn’t he, has reached such a level of incredible hype, that it should be preceded by a BIG drum roll. Frankly, though, this man and his modalist views should not even make a splash or ripple in the Reformed circles. Little fish don’t fair well in bigger ponds.

I am praying, though, that God intervenes and renews Jakes’ heart. This would be news worthy of a big price tag! And what a testimony he could give to the Oneness Pentecostal group.

Tom Chantry said...

You are, of course, absolutely right, Dan. There is so much wrong with this conference and this invite that it is hard not to drift off point. Certainly, though, if we were to believe MacDonald that Jakes is a Trinitarian and not a Modalist, we would have to conclude that Jakes is a horrifically unskilled communicator and no Christian leader.

On the communication matter, Jakes has said that his association with Oneness Pentecostals does not mean that he is a Oneness Pentecostal (just like fellowship with Baptists doesn't make him Baptist), any more than his involvement with homeless persons makes him homeless. To that I would like to ask, "When you interact with the homeless, do you encourage and uphold them in the habits of homelessness, or are you, in fact, trying to get them not to be homeless? Because, you see, your analogy suggests that you relate to Oneness Pentecostals just as you do to homeless persons - presumably you exert your influence and energy to draw them out of a destructive circumstance. Is that how the Oneness Pentecostals understand your interaction, that you are exerting your influence and energy to rescue them from their destructive error as to the nature of God? And honestly, is this also analogous to your interactions with Baptists? Which destructive habits/errors are you seeking to redeem us from?"

What such questioning would probably unearth is the reality - that Jakes is a very good communicator, but in the political sense rather than the Christian sense. He is an expert and sounding like he's saying what he isn't saying - or at making a statement which satisfies everyone on every side of every issue.

Does MacDonald just not get it, or does he truly not care?

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

I have tried to post, or cooment but my computer has kcked against the goads this morn.

Let me try once more.

Dan, this was an excellent essay, or post, and teaching really.
You have a very fine way of writing, and gifted with wit and humility, yet you keep it serious.
Thanks.

James MacDonald just don't want to hear it. What's up with his heart?

I had a good sister in Christ tell me one night at Growth Group:
"I was really blessed in church last night. Especially when we sang 'Reveleation Song'!"

Me: "That song is from Philips Craig, & Dean, Lisa. And these three guys are false-Christians."

Lisa: "Oh Don, there you go again."

Me: "Well, the song is fine, but the 3 singing it are heretics."

Lis: "Whatever."

Funny how the wonderfulness of the song, and her being joyful nullifies the truth that PC&D are wolves.

I did have another thought from your post, if you don't mind me sharing.
This line made me think of a song: "--and being a bit coy."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTiyLuZOs1A

Thanks again pastor dan for ministering the truth, and making a stand in faith for our Savior.

JR said...

Hammer meet nail. PING!

But who knows...maybe Jakes will walk out with a big, gold, Mr. T style necklace shaped in the likeness of Athanasius.

I would pay the hefty fee to see that!

LeAnn-The Modest Homestead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mathew Sims said...

Dan,
I actually laughed when MacDonald said that too. Jakes wouldn't be the place I'd be sending Christians for rootedness on teaching of money.

After watching most of ER1 it seemed like MacDonald really wanted to give it to Platt when in my estimation Platt is one of the more centered guys there. Oh well.

Here's a question for you Dan. Let's say this goes down and the guys at ER2 don't adequeately confront Jakes about his prosperity gospel or his trinitarian beliefs. what next? What should we (the larger Christian church) do with McDonald, etc?

olan strickland said...

Dan, the topic of your post is spot on. The fact that MacDonald can pretend that Jakes' position on the Trinity is unclear is enough in and of itself to give halt to giving Jakes any place as a Christian leader, much less entrance into Christianity with a ready-made platform. The unwillingness of MacDonald to cease and desist should also give halt to giving MacDonald any further recognition as a Christian leader.

DJP said...

There y'go. It's a pretty sad defense, isn't it? "Just BACK OFF, everyone! NOBODY KNOWS what the man [who I am giving a platform as a great leader] thinks about the Trinity! So just HOLD OFF until I disclose that for you."

Bishop55 said...

Dan, thank you for addressing this; it is a question that has been rolling around in my own head for some time. If Jakes is really the leader many think he is, should his views on such vital issues really be some kind of state secret? If he has not been clear up to this point, can we really expect him to bring clarity at the ER? Of course not, because that would mean alienating either his Oneness supporters or the confused Trinitarians that follow him. Like he has done for years, he will simply dodge and obfuscate to make sure everyone stays happy. Furthermore, I believe no one that will be in the ER has enough conviction on the issue - or enough gumption - to press Jakes for a clear statement of his beliefs.

HSAT, in light of your post and Phil's post from the weekend, when will The Gospel Coalition address this entire situation? Thabiti did the first time around, but will anyone step-up after MacDonald's hubris-charged blogpost/video from last week? It seems that a group called "The Gospel Coalition" would be zealous to uphold basic tenets of the gospel and ensure that their membership does the same.

Thanks.

DJP said...

It's a terrific question, Bishop, and I don't have a terrific answer.

But I do think Phil phrased it very terrifically: "The collective leadership of TGC are going to have to decide which is more important: the Gospel, or the Coalition."

DJP said...

BTW, let me just agree with everyone: I would love to see a format in which (say) recognized and articulate leaders among Reformed CT-ers, NCT-ers, and Dispensationalists got together for a brotherly go-around; ditto pedo's and credo's, congregationalists and elder-leds, and so forth. Those would be terrific gifts to the Body.

Robert said...

Didn't mean to muddle things up, Dan. I just think that it is clear that MacDonald didn't have that type of thing in mind and I have a hard time believing that he doesn't know that Jakes is off in his teaching.

DJP said...

No muddle. I think it's a great idea. I'd love to see it!

Tom Chantry said...

@Dave

Dan, If I could have figured out how to post at MacDonald's blog I would have made a statement similar to yours.

Try agreeing with everything he says; that seems to work. It's also known as "crouching behind walls of disagreement" and saying "You're awesome." "No, you're awesome."

Solameanie said...

I have to kindly wonder why people like Jakes just can't come out and state what they believe - simply and clearly. If they are unable and unwilling to do that, then I have to question intent. And then I will get accused of "judging."

Dan said...

@ Dan and Robert. Yes, more of this kind of discussion, no?

Solameanie said...

Another comment: I wish I could find the old clip from the 1980s where Paul Crouch was "grilling" Robert Schuller on some of his more controversial statements and teachings. When Crouch would ask him what he believed, Schuller kept waving the Reformed doctrinal statement in the air and insisting that he affirmed it.

The problem is that Schuller's teachings ran counter to any orthodox statement of faith, and Crouch didn't press the issue. At the end, it was "Brother Schuller!"

Sigh.

Fred Butler said...

@Dan
The one eschatological position missing from that night of eschatology at the Desiring God conference was Dispensational Premillennialism. It was treated as if no such thing existed. A serious fail in my thinking.

DJP said...

Dan, it's so funny that you highlight that. I literally mostly-wrote a snipe about how that was a botched attempt in the right direction, then decided not to go there.

But you did, Fred did, so - cool.

And now I'll observe that I both had and offered some thoughts on their botching.

brianonpyromaniacs said...

Good article! If MacDonald knows Jakes has repented, then it would be so much better if MacDonald had said Jakes is going to explain what he saw in the Scriptures that led him to repent from being a modalist to a trinitarian, instead of leaving us guessing whether or not he has actually repented until the day of the big event.

Also, in the second paragraph when you wrote "Jakes been spoken of and spoken to" did you actually mean to write, "Jakes has been spoken of and spoken to"?

DJP said...

Yes, thanks, fixed. Though I'll say as usual that it's nice when folks email spotted mistakes rather than comment them - but I'd rather you comment them than not mention them!

Tom Chantry said...

Dude, what an awesome name! Your online persona is "Guy who comments at TeamPyro!"

I mean, that's true of many of us, but you've embraced it. Awesome!

Tom Chantry said...

(Upon reading my last comment I realized someone might take it as sarcasm. It isn't. I think it was a cool blogger name.)

Sally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

...and since "Tom Chantry" was already taken...

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"So now comes enabler James MacDonald"

For purposes of seeking greater understanding, let's stipulate and agree that James MacDonald is an enabler.

Several offshoots derive.

(o) Is "enabling" a sin or an error? Or both, and it depends.

(o) In this specific context, is James MacDonald committing sin or error in his enabling of T.D. Jakes?

(o) As an aside, which is/was worse: MacDonald "enabling" Jakes or Piper "enabling" Rick Warren?

(o) When does the concern over "enabling" bridge over into the area of "secondary separation" and the disdain that "fundamentalists" receive for making a big to-do over folks "enabling" bad teaching or bad behaviors?

DurangoDan said...

When I was young, I would get extremely frustrated and angered because of the laws and regulations passed by politicians, who were supposedly put in place by us for our benefit, but their actions seemed to prove just the opposite. I never understood how that could be, until I learned TULIP and total depravity. Now it makes perfect sense and I don't get nearly as frustrated. I don't claim to understand everything about God's sovereignty in terms of His initiation versus ours, with regards to any particular action or behavior, but since we're discussing WHY McDonald is doing this, can we consider the bigger perspective that possibly God is bringing this activity about, in order to help us more clearly identify who are the sheep and their leaders, and who are the wolves and their followers? Remember when God stated that because men don't want to believe His truth, He will send them a strong delusion, that they might believe a lie? To me, what I see here is the wheat and the tares becoming more readily identifiable. I think what is happening is inevitable, and I think it's good that we're discussing it.

Tom Chantry said...

The only thing the name "Tom Chantry" ever got me was a bump-up from a B to a B+ in a required sociology course because a rather shallow professor happened to be a big Louis L’Amour fan.

BrettR said...

Since when has it been more humble to say "meh..." to the creeds and launch out on your own piety (new law creed) of doing more important things "...like ministry"? (hat tip to Frank)

Reading the sources that you link to in this article, it is "clear" that this is what Jakes is all about.

I will be surprised if this pay per view elephant room ends up as anything more than a meeting of the Mutual Admiration Society.

The silence of Mark Dever thrills me.

Bill Honsberger said...

Does anyone else here get a whiff of the harper/collins/bell advertising ploy? Release the trailer (hook), wait for the reaction (knowing exactly what was coming), then respond in defensive posture that the critiques are premature and one must wait for the book or in this case the video stream.
Bell is laughing all the way to the bank as is his publisher. Macdonald is now ensuring that many will watch the video just on that basis alone.
Watching this thing is about as anticlamatic as watching Sandusky's presser with Costas last night. What do people expect? That he was going to convict himself on national TV, in front of his attorney?
Macdonald has already made his call on Jakes. He considers him a brother. I don't think it serves any useful purpose to fall for the sales pitch. The question that is really operative is "What should the Gospel coalition do?" Trueman left his position yesterday as editor and it strikes me that a matter of integrity as that others do the same or TGC becomes as useless as the ETS is now - unless of course you like the book discounts!

Pastor Steve said...

I fear MacDonald is just chasing after money here, which seems to be a growing trend with him. After all, we should all want to "be part of something big."

Also, I have never viewed MacDonald as a person who pays great detail to doctrines that might divide, so why should he start here?

Am I the only one that has seen his demeanor get more angry as he gets more removed from the Bible? I think the term fighting fundamentalist might just apply to him now (minus the fundamentalist part).

I really think he simply feels he can bully people into his viewpoints, and we are foolish not to trust him completely.

DJP said...

I understand what folks are thinking and guessing about Mac's motivation and intent and all.

The beauty (if that's the word) of my point is that we don't even have to get into any of that.

It preemptively disarms the usual retort about being a hater or a judger or all that stuff.

Tom Chantry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...

Dan,

You are correct. I think, though, that what so many of us are asking is the next question, namely: What does it say about James MacDonald and the Elephant Room concept that Jakes is even considered a great Christian leader?

Take it as a compliment; you made your point so clearly and irrefutably that your readers find little to say about it - beyond moving on to draw further conclusions based upon it.

Pastor Steve said...

Agreed, Dan. Judging a persons motives or thoughts usually puts us on shaky ground.

Great job dealing with facts and bringing out a point that is beyond mere speculation.

I'm so thankful that Team Pyro, and a few others, stand up on these things. It's comforting to know that others are still fighting for the truth out there.

Marla said...

At this point I'm starting to wonder if James MacDonald is simply trading on any kind of publicity to promote his event.

It seems unlikely that he can have been unaware of TD Jakes' position -- and if he was, he can no longer be.

Why does he continue on this road? Is any kind of publicity (even negative) good for the promotion of ER2? What has this become? (Certainly something other than what it --on its face--- started out to be.)

Bill Honsberger said...

I remember my first full time ministry position as a youth pastor in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. My high school in LA was bigger than the entire town. All I knew about farming was what I had seen on a TV. So my second night there a farmer from my board invited us over for dinner and then later took me out to see the buildings. He to come over with him and check out the farrow pen. I of course asked what is a farrow pen. He chuckled and said to come over and see. The worst educational moment of my life. The smell choked my out so bad I started coughing and rushed for the door. I asked him "How can you stand that smell?" He responded (some of you perhaps have heard this one before) "Smells like money to me". At that moment I was sure that the Lord had made a mistake putting city trash like me out in the country.
All this is a long winded way of saying that I was not declaring that money is the motivation for the event. My reference to a "whiff" was to point out that the tactics or "strategery" seems familiar. That is not an indictment about money grubbing (yet - evidence will come out in due course one way or the other) but pointing out that Macdonald has already shown his colors on the theological issues and the discourse should now move on to an appropriate response by the powers that be - whatever that means in our cultural church swamp.

romans923 said...

There was a famous council where a doctrinal stance was reviewed and declared heretical. Some of those who attended the council disagreed and went out to spread the false doctrine.
A famous Christian leader who knew the doctrine was heretical associated with them and in doing so he rejected some of his Christian brothers who he knew were orthodox. Through his influence other Christians went astray too.
Galatians 2
I realize that justification by faith was the issue there. Simply wanted to point out a few similarities. I have known a few modalists. They all knew Jakes was one too. Jakes was their favorite teacher. I have also met many people from Africa who love Jakes and had no clue he denies the Trinity.

Stan McCullars said...

The Gospel Coalition just posted on Facebook the following: When the church loses sight of the reality of being joined with Christ, we risk making the work of Christ impersonal.

To which I replied: How about when "the church loses sight of" contending for the faith as in the TD Jakes fiasco? Shouldn't TGC publicly rebuke James MacDonald?

My comment has been up for three minutes now which is a little longer than I anticipated.

rom623rom828 said...

Can't we just TITHE away these issues (i.e. MacDonald/Jakes Modalism issue and
the Properity Gospel issue)?

Am I being sarcastic with that question? After all, my pastor said this 2 years ago:

"We are gonna have a great new year, if we all bring our tithes into conformity with God’s will."

Source: email from MacDonald to those on his Harvest church family email list.

Date: Dec 11, 2009

Subject "From Pastor James at Harvest Bible Chapel

Do your own due diligence:

2 years ago at Harvest: Finishing the Year Financially

Currently at Harvest: Harvest 5G. Click on "Media"
then "Curriculum" then download the 5G personal study guide. View MacDonald's notes in this
study guide especially on "Generosity".

Robert said...

rom623rom828,

I just read through that and was disgusted...he said that he knows if we obey in tithes and offerings that we'll receive a blessing. He includes answered prayers, return of a prodigal, and other things in the list of the blessings we should expect to receive as a result of our faithfulness in tithing and offering. So then he must not have a problem with indulgences, right?

Matt Aznoe said...

Please forgive my ignorance on this, but I had to refresh my memory on what Modalism actually is. Now there is no disagreement that the nature of God is important, but other than saying that it is a major issue, you don't really explain why.

Now I consider myself a Trinitarian (if I must use a label), but in reading about Modalism, I can kind of see where they are coming from.

The fact is that the nature of the God-head is very difficult to wrap one's head around. We simply do not understand all of the aspects of the inner workings of the interactions between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How could Jesus, who was God, die? How could Jesus would had been one with the Father for eternity suddenly be cut off? How are these three persons still considered and greatly stressed in the Bible to be one?

It seems to be that both positions could be more reactionary than definitive to one another with a lot of room for nuance in the middle. So I am truly curious, what are the practical ramifications or fallouts of Modalism that make it so damnable? What makes it such a dangerous doctrine?

Tom Chantry said...

Matt, I thought you had lost the capacity to stun me, but OK.

Several Answers, and I think they're all good, and they're all pretty much off the cuff:

First, the manner in which the Scriptures present the plan for our redemption is in terms of the love of the Three Persons of the Godhead for one another. (See the entirety of the Upper Room Discourse: esp. John 17:1-5) The plan of Redemption dissipates into mist if god is one person manifesting in three distinct ways.

Second, our adoption is as co-heirs with the Only Begotten Son of God. (See Romans 8:17.) If the father and son are one and the same person, what possible sense does our adoption make?

Third, our hope of glory is that God, the loving Father, did not spare His Son, but sacrificed the One He loved, exactly as Abraham was not required to do. (See Romans 8:32.) If the father and the son are the same person, where exactly is our assurance.

Fourth, the Christian's comfort in the absence of Christ from earth is the sending of Another Helper. (See John 16:6-7.) If the spirit and the son were one person, how exactly is this a comfort to us?

Fifth, the Christian's model for loving obedience to God is the Son's loving obedience to the Father. (See Philippians 2:5-8.) If the son and the father were actually one person, this ethical teaching would be a cruel hoax.

And that's five minutes of reflection on the consequences of Modalism. Just imagine if Christians had been preaching and writing on the doctrine of Trinity for centuries - what might we come up with then?

Matt Burke said...

Either Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally co-existent, or they are not.

I don't see much room for nuance there.

Also, on Modalism, you have a schizophrenic Jesus praying to himself.

Matt Aznoe said...

Tom,

That makes sense, but even as you explain it, I can see their argument forming (allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment).

You talk as if there are three distinct persons, but God clearly stated throughout the Old Testament that He is One God. Therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must be, in some deep and complete sense, a single entity. To say otherwise is to contradict God's statements about Himself. The description of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the New Testament is simply a way to describe the complex nature of the God-head in terms that we can understand and does not diminish from the truth of those relationships. While we do not understand these inner workings, that does not give us an excuse to separate God into multiple entities. In fact, to do so would be to stray into the realm of heresy and calling God a liar.

Again, I am playing devil's advocate. I'm not saying that they are right, but are they so wrong that we should throw them under the bus? I'm just trying to make sense of this. Is this truly a critical issue or is this another case of angels dancing on the head of a pin.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

"Also, on Modalism, you have a schizophrenic Jesus praying to himself."

Exactly, Matt Burke, those were some of my thoughts, too.

Matt, please take note here. This is a stunner that you even ask such a question.

olan strickland said...

Matt,

Are there any instances in the Bible where the three persons of the Godhead are all revealed to be present at the same time?

Tom Chantry said...

Matt,

Are you perhaps the first person in history to discuss the Trinity in terms of "multiple entities"? Stop. It isn't helpful.

You say you are playing "Devil's Advocate." May I ask how much of your statements comes under that label? Are you still playing Devil's Advocate when you say this: "Is this truly a critical issue or is this another case of angels dancing on the head of a pin"? It is unclear.

Assuming that you are not, let me say in response I stand with the Westminster and London Confessions and affirm that "the doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him." I have just given five reasons why I believe that, with Scripture references. Are you really going to play the "yeah but I've got a different verse" game on this subject?

To cite verses that teach the One Essence of God as though they are in contradiction to the verses that clearly affirm the Three separate Persons of the Godhead is perhaps the most pernicious mishandling of Scripture possible. The whole teaching of Scripture demands the doctrine of Trinity. Thus to deny Trinity is to repudiate Scripture, to reject God, and to refuse salvation.

Tax Collector said...

Macdonald should change the name to The Golden Calf Room and get it over with.

Matt Aznoe said...

Olan,

At the baptism of Jesus, for one: Jesus in the water, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and the voice of the Father from heaven.

But I'm not sure what the point is of your question. After all, God is also omnipresent.

I guess my point is that none of us really, truly understand the nature of God -- nor can we with our finite minds. I'm not sure why this is a damnable heresy in a categorical way. Just as we would criticize them for diminishing the personalities of the trinity, they would criticize us for making God into three gods. It seems that both aspects of God -- His distinct personalities of Father, Son, and Spirit and His eternal oneness -- need to be kept in mind. Could we not be as wrong as they if we overemphasize one side of the equation?

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Matt Aznoe,

Read John 17.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

"The whole teaching of Scripture demands the doctrine of Trinity. Thus to deny Trinity is to repudiate Scripture, to reject God, and to refuse salvation."

Well stated!!!

I would add to reject the Tinity is tantamount to calling God/Holy Spirit/Jesus a liar.

David Regier said...

Mattasznosius contra mundum!

Seriously, folks. Back to matters at hand.

Whatever happens at the Elephant Room is going to disappear with a whimper. MacDonald is already deflated, unless Jakes repents of his ministry.

Matt Aznoe said...

Tom,

Think about what you just posted: "the Westminster and London confessions". You guys jumped all over me for even considering the possibility of additional inspired works (within the confines of scriptural unity), but then you use extra-Biblical creeds to defend your position while ignoring actual scripture that would seem to contradict your belief. Which is it? Do we believe in scripture alone or in the traditions of the Church?

And what else am I supposed to turn to if not the Bible? If there is a passage that seems to contradict my understanding of God, should I ignore the verse or revisit my theology? What is the standard by which we measure truth?

Matt Aznoe said...

As I said at the beginning, I do believe in the trinity, but I do not see where the Modalists do not -- at least if I understand their position correctly. It seems like they just have a different perspective on the trinity and how it is reconciles the persons of God with the unity expressed in Deut 6:4.

And if this is how people are treated for asking questions about doctrine, it is no wonder that the youth are fleeing the church in droves. We damn them to hell before their voices have even faded from the air.

olan strickland said...

Matt: While we do not understand these inner workings, that does not give us an excuse to separate God into multiple entities. In fact, to do so would be to stray into the realm of heresy and calling God a liar.

So believing in the Trinity is heresy and calling God a liar while modalism, even in the face that you recognize that the Bible reveals all three members of the Godhead to be present at one time, is not calling God a liar?

Modalism is heresy for the same reason you seem to believe the doctrine of the Trinity is heresy - modalism is calling God a liar.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

If I recall correctly, MacDonald (among others) regards TD Jakes as a fellow brother in Christ despite large differences in trinitarian theology.

Logically speaking, that means that MacDonald believes that Jakes will be in Heaven as well despite Jakes being a non-trinitarian. Or at best, that Jakes is an unclear trinitarian.

Question 1: Is believing in non-trinitarianism (or modalism or oneness Pentecostalism) a damnable heresy? Such that if a person is a non-trinitarian then that person will be damned to Hell.

If so, this would make it a first-order doctrine, yes?

Question 2: Suppose MacDonald were to argue that one cannot be categorically sure or categorically definitive or categorically certain that non-trinitarianism is a damnably false teaching or a damnable heresy.

And that given his argument/position that he's personally uncertain, then he's justified in regarding and treating Jakes as his brother in Christ.

What say thee?

Robert said...

Matt,

With Whom is Jesus interceding on our behalf? Who is Jesus satisfying as the propitiation for sin?

Also, read Ephesians 1:3-6 (God the Father), then Ephesians 1:7-12 (God the Son), and then Ephesians 1:13-15 (God the Holy Spirit). Read those sections separately and meditate upon them. It is a clear division of the work of each Person of the Trinity. These are not merely modes of one person, but they are three distinct Persons Who are the One God. Now how exactly They fit together as God is a mystery for sure, but They are all distinct.

Tom Chantry said...

See, Matt, you hate traditional theology so much that you see red when it is mentioned. Try to follow the meaning of words here:

I stand with the Westminster and London Confessions and affirm that...

"Stand With" not "Base my conclusions upon." The meaning of those words is, I agree with what they say here, and find their statement to be not only accurate, but clear. Now, if you actually read my comment, perhaps you caught on to why I stand with them and affirm what they do:

I have just given five reasons why I believe that, with Scripture references.

Is that clear enough? Your refusal to admit the difference between quoting an extra-biblical source and equating its authority with Scripture is nothing less than willful absurdity. The problem is, when you refuse to be instructed by the doctrinal insights of the past, you wind up embracing heretics with such statements as "Just as we would criticize them for diminishing the personalities of the trinity, they would criticize us for making God into three gods."

You ask, "And what else am I supposed to turn to if not the Bible?" You do not turn to the Bible, Matt. You are twisting Scripture into something unrecognizable. You say you're a Trinitarian, but that it's open to revision. I say the Scripture demands the doctrine of Trinity. My Trinitarianism is rooted in the teachings of Scripture. Yours is uprooted by your hatred for "the traditions of the church." Just read back over the comments you've made in the last hour, and understand what you're saying: You have always believed in the Trinity, but you're willing to give it up just to make a point about your continuationism and your traditionless, untaught, unteachable version of Christianity.

Matt Aznoe said...

Olan,

You completely misunderstand that post. I was arguing from their point of view. That is what they would say about us. They would call us heretics for dividing God. Could it be that we are both wrong in that neither side are heretics but simply trying to describe the same God with different terms? It wouldn't be the first time that there was a division in the church on the issue of semantics.

That is all I am trying to say.

David Regier said...

Matt,

To put it succinctly, Modalists believe that God was Father, Son, and Holy Spirit one at a time.

Trinitarians believe that God has existed as one God in three Persons from all eternity.

Scripture states that Jesus prayed to the Father, and that He is seated at the right hand of the Father even as the Holy Spirit (whom He sent) dwells in His people.

If you need further assistance with it, you'll need to ask a Modalist how that works. And then compare their answer to the totality of Christian orthodox teaching, coupled with a thorough knowledge of scripture.

And I say that with utmost care and concern that you do so. I had to do it when I was younger, because I was tempted to reject the language of the Trinity. The nature of God is not an academic exercise.

Tom Chantry said...

TUAD

It's a moot point, because MacDonald doesn't say that. See the combox at his latest blog post. "Can a Modalist be saved?" MacDonald: "No."

donsands said...

"As I said at the beginning, I do believe in the trinity, but I do not see where the Modalists do not -- at least if I understand their position correctly."

Matt, you don't. Accept it. You really truly don't.

I had a great sermon this past Sunday if you care to listen, about Jesus being God, and the Jews wanting to kill Him, as they listen to Jesus talk about His Father, whom He loves, and the Father loves Jesus His Son.

Here's a Scripture passage of our Lord's words that should make us kneel down when we read them:

"For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.
(John 5:21-27 ESV)

Robert said...

TUAD,

I would say that it is possible for one to be an immature believer and not know all there is to know about Scripture and still be saved. One can believe in a heresy, so long as they are ignorant of what the Bible says about the doctrine that they have a false belief about.

Where things change is when one is confronted with the truth of Scripture, but still holds on to the false belief and denies the truth of Scripture. And it is a worse problem when you go on to teach/preach the heresy when you have been shown that your belief contradicts Scripture. None of us have an experience like Paul, where Jesus appears to us and explains everything all at once...that is why we must continually be about studying Scripture and applying it.

Aaron Snell said...

Matt,

I'll assume that you are asking all this in good faith, and try to answer you gently, yet also firmly and clearly. The reason you are getting a bit of incredulity from commenters here is because you say things like this:

As I said at the beginning, I do believe in the trinity,

and then say things like this:

Just as we would criticize them for diminishing the personalities of the trinity, they would criticize us for making God into three gods. It seems that both aspects of God -- His distinct personalities of Father, Son, and Spirit and His eternal oneness -- need to be kept in mind. Could we not be as wrong as they if we overemphasize one side of the equation?

The incredulity comes from the fact that the balance you are calling for in the second quote is exactly what the doctrine of the Trinity teaches. The doctrine of the Trinity IS the balanced position that incoroporates both the distinct personhoods and the eternal oneness. So we're left assuming that you a)have a real question, but b)don't know what you're talking about.

If you didn't know that about the trinity before, well, then, now you know. (You don't have to just take my word for it, though - you can do some reading on the subject on your own. Inf fact I'd comment you to it.) So here's where the test of good faith comes in for you: if you now know just that little thing, how does that impact your original question?

olan strickland said...

Matt,

No need to lie about it and try to make us believe that you are a trinitarian that is somehow sympathetic to modalism.

You said, "Could it be that we are both wrong in that neither side are heretics but simply trying to describe the same God with different terms?"

That's not playing the devil's advocate; that's playing with heresy and being the devil's advocate.

If you can't see why Modalism is heresy then you ought to do some serious Bible study.

donsands said...

Here's the sermon Matt. Be blessed and edified my friend!

http://www.bcrecmd.org/component/option,com_sermonspeaker/task,singlesermon/id,10190/%5C

Aaron Snell said...

*should be "In fact, I'd commend you to it"

Matt Aznoe said...

donsands,

That could be entirely the problem -- that I don't understand their position. Maybe I am using the wrong term, but I was referring to the belief that God is One who manifests Himself as the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit -- but in essence He is one. If that is not modalism, then I apologize.

From my understanding, that is the position that T.D. Jakes was coming from. And that does seem to be quite different from the first the Father, then the Son, then the Holy Spirit.

DJP said...

...because the wisest thing for a man to do who did not even know what Modalism was until a few minutes ago, and doesn't know why the doctrine of the Trinity is so important now, is to lecture others on their attitudes towards the Biblical doctrine that he doesn't understand.

Matt Aznoe said...

Don,

Thanks for the link. I will take a listen.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"TUAD

It's a moot point, because MacDonald doesn't say that. See the combox at his latest blog post. "Can a Modalist be saved?" MacDonald: "No.""


Thanks Pastor Tom Chantry for relaying that.

Then, it seems to me, that Pastor MacDonald has indicted himself (provided that he agrees that Jakes is a modalist)!

For if he believes that Jakes is a modalist, an unsaved modalist, a self-deceived modalist-nonChristian, then he would be gravely remiss in his pastoral duties and obligations to present T.D. Jakes as a genuine Christian.

Given MacDonald's (thankfully clear) admission and confession that a modalist isn't saved, then his only recourse (outside of repentance) is to deny that Jakes is a modalist and that Jakes is instead an unclear, vague, ambiguous, weasel-wordy, mealy-mouthed Trinitarian.

Tom Chantry said...

And thus, TUAD, back to Dan's initial post. That's exactly what MacDonald is saying, that Jakes is an unclear, vague, ambiguous, weasel-wordy, mealy-mouthed Trinitarian. But a great Christian leader!

Matt Aznoe said...

By the way, here is the source of my understanding of modalism:

"Modalism teaches that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected Son and Holy Spirit identified by the Trinity Doctrine are different modes or aspects of the One God, as perceived by the believer, rather than three coeternal persons in God Himself."

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sabellianism

I was trying to find as neutral of a definition of their doctrine as I could to avoid distortions that inevitably arise in disputes. As you can see, my understanding of modalism is not completely off-base -- unless this article is off-base. As stated above, it does not seem as clearly heretical as how it has been represented here.

DJP said...

Except that Christians who have studied the doctrines and implications have patiently explained to you and showed you that it is exactly as clearly heretical as has been presented here.

David Regier said...

Thank you for clarifying the fact that you believe that grounding the perception of God in the believer rather than in His eternal nature is not heretical.

'Splains a lot.

Matt Burke said...

There used to be a clip on Youtube of Todd Friel interviewing Philips, Craig, and Dean about Modalism.

He would talk to Philips for a minute, then ask where Craig was. Philips would leave the stage to send Craig out. Then the same man would appear in a different hat, and say, "Hi, I'm Craig!"

This was both hilarious and illustrative. I wish I could find the clip.

Troy said...

Tom,

Disclaimer: I'm one of those... "oneness" guys. With regard to "modalism." Just as an update, almost no one accepts that tag or label. As in, I'm not a modalist, but I am a oneness pentecostal. Mostly because it's not clearly understood what is meant by modalism, except that it's historically been condemned as an ancient heresy or as its often mischaracterized as the single actor swapping masks in a play. Trinitarian rejecting, proponents of the oneness view of the Godhead do accept the term of "Oneness." Which, continues to deny the trinity as its classicly defined in the confessions and technical definitions (co-equal, co-eternal, etc.)

To those who wish to truly understand oneness theology I strongly recommend you look up David Bernard or Jason Dulle. In my studies of the trinity I found James White and Alister McGrath to be the most helpful. Most of the arguments typically used against oneness theology have all been adequately answered in previous debates and/or documented in articles/teaching of current oneness proponents.

For instance... Tom's first point of love in the Godhead in John 17. If you'll google "love in the godhead" you'll see Jason Dulle's article addressing it. Worth a read if you care to understand how us "oneness" guys deal with such apparent distinctions in the Godhead.

The strongest arguments against oneness theology, in my opinion, are those that point to the eternality of the Son since oneness proponents view the Son as arising from and tied to the incarnation.

The toughest arguments against trinitarianism, in my opinion, are those that speak of God's singularity in the OT (especially Isaiah) and the singular identity portrayed in Revelation (one throne, one face, one name, etc.).

Whether or not Jakes is a oneness pentecostal or more trinitarian is yet to be determined, so I find it amusing that while many of you are already burning him at the stake of your blogs for "modalism," even us modalists, as we're often mislabeled, are unsure ourselves.

It's my understanding that he's simply avoided trying to define God's person(s) and has focused on other matters.

If Jakes does appear on the episode, and I highly doubt that he'll appear, we'll either finally be able to accurately classify him in one camp over another (with regard to his Godhead Theology) or the waters will even be muddier as he'll refuse to be pigeonholed and lean on the mystery (plurality/singularity) of God.

Tom Chantry said...

"Burning at the stake?" Really?

Would it be a right summation of your comment to say that you do not believe in Nicene Trinitarianism, but neither do you think that the nature of God is really all that important of a subject?

Matt Burke said...

Yep. Every reference to God being one in the OT is a proof text against Trinitarianism.

Why hasn't anyone addressed that in 2000 years?

Troy said...

Tom,

Would it be a right summation of your comment to say that you do not believe in Nicene Trinitarianism, but neither do you think that the nature of God is really all that important of a subject?

I do not esteem classical creeds or confessions on par with the Bible. Therefore, they are not gate-keepers for our theology. The Bible alone is the only tool worthy of such effect.

And I do think the nature of God is important. But I'll not condemn you without having some clear communication from you on the matter on where we disagree.

Tom Chantry said...

Troy,

Here's what I've said (This being the third time now.) I believe the Bible demands Nicene Trinitarianism. If you want to suggest that this means I put the creeds on par with Scripture, have at it. I think words have meanings.

As for your words, you said this: "It's my understanding that he's simply avoided trying to define God's person(s) and has focused on other matters." That, along with the idea that somehow we are burning someone at the stake, made me think it was possible you don't find this topic important.

Troy said...

Tom,

I didn't mean to imply that. In fact, I agree with the original post that good leaders are clear. And furthermore... to be a good Pastor, I would hope that he's at least clearly articulating a Godhead clarity to his church. As I'm not a Potter's House congregant and only on the outside and subject to his conference teachings or what I catch on Youtube/Itunes I've never heard him broach the subject with any certain specificity.

But.... I agree that he should. At least to the degree that he's able.

Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Troy,

I don't understand how the plain things in scripture concerning God being Triune are trumped by the few things that aren't quite understood clearly (taking your comments at face value).

And in any case, even Revelation, in its opening chapter, describe Jesus Christ being given a revelation by God, His Father, and Isaiah speaks of Yaweh's servant being a separate person from Yaweh, and yet His equal (thinking Specifically Isaiah 52-53). To even consider Oneness theology about God is to make all that Jesus said about Himself and teh Father and the Spirit either vague metaphors (at best), or lies (at worst)and eventually recreates God in the image of the creature.

Tom Chantry said...

Troy,

I'm glad to see at least that you take theology seriously. May I make a recommendation? Don't go around talking about "burning people at the stake." It's 2011; no one in all Christendom believes in executing heretics any more, and my people (the Baptists) were part of the reason that is true today. When you use inflammatory language like that against anyone who holds to a doctrinal position staunchly, you give the impression that theology doesn't matter.

Since you do take it seriously, let me make two points.

Your first comment to me you referenced teachers named David Bernard and Jason Dulle. In your second, you suggested that I was sub-biblical for referencing traditional theological sources such as creeds and confessions. Can you see the irony? I can. Please understand that the folks at this blog do not hold any creed or confession as authoritative in at all the same sense as Scripture, but they are gate-keeping documents in that we are convinced that the Scriptures make their conclusions inevitable, and so we stand where they stand.

Second, if you honestly believe that any Scripture asserting the singularity of God is an argument against Trinitarianism, then you do not understand our position nearly as well as you think that you do.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Robert: "TUAD,

I would say that it is possible for one to be an immature believer and not know all there is to know about Scripture and still be saved. One can believe in a heresy, so long as they are ignorant of what the Bible says about the doctrine that they have a false belief about.

Where things change is when one is confronted with the truth of Scripture, but still holds on to the false belief and denies the truth of Scripture. And it is a worse problem when you go on to teach/preach the heresy when you have been shown that your belief contradicts Scripture."


That, along with the idea that somehow we are burning someone at the stake, made me think it was possible you don't find this topic important.

Thanks Robert for your comment. It informs the question I have for the blog dialogue between Tom Chantry and Oneness Pentecostal Troy (whom I thank for posting comments.)

Q: It would appear to me (at least) that Troy is not an "immature believer" or ignorant of the Scriptures. If you or Tom Chantry agree, and further, that you also agree that holding/teaching a non-Trinitarian theology/position is a damnable first-order doctrinal heresy for "Scripture-knowledgeable" folks,, does it logically conclude that you believe that Troy (and TD Jakes) are not Heaven-bound?

Tom Chantry said...

@TUAD,

The reason I believe this doctrine is of supreme importance is this: The God who saves is the Triune God of Scripture, and anyone who denies Him has denied the Only God, and cannot be saved. Saving faith is faith in the Second Person of the Trinity. Any "Jesus" who is not the Second Person of the Trinity is not the Jesus of Scripture, and faith in a false Jesus cannot save.

This is absolutely a matter of eternal consequence. Troy, and all advocates of the Oneness theology, must repent of their error and embrace the Triune God whose nature is unavoidably taught in Scripture, or they cannot be saved.

southerngospelyankee said...

Ooooh, I missed the "Nazis" tweet. Nice. Heill Piper to you too.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"This is absolutely a matter of eternal consequence. Troy, and all advocates of the Oneness theology, must repent of their error and embrace the Triune God whose nature is unavoidably taught in Scripture, or they cannot be saved."

Thanks Pastor Tom Chantry.

I appreciate the clarity in your arguments. And for not sweeping things under the rug for a show of false unity.

It's good to refuse to minimize or to refuse to compromise on issues of eternal salvific importance.

(Of course, persuading folks that these doctrines are of eternal salvific importance is not all that easy. Particularly when unity is the much-preferred outcome.)

Bill Honsberger said...

Troy - do you believe that the proof of ones salvation is when they speak in tongues?

BrettR said...

I have coin that on one side says, "Take the bait" and on the other side says "Dude, don't bite!"

Flipping now.

DJP said...

Oh dude, now Frank will put a Pyro logo on it and sell it!












I'd buy one.

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

"The 1st Century Church believed in the Deity of Christ and the Trinity from the beginning. There was ambiguity---and Clarity didn’t come from the Deity of Christ or the Trinity (until) Heresy forced the definition of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity."-R.C.Sproul

BrettR said...

It would go well with your double-sided "close the comments" coin.

DJP said...

Now starting to picture myself flipping a succession of coins. I can actually see that really easily.

Troy said...

Your first comment to me you referenced teachers named David Bernard and Jason Dulle. In your second, you suggested that I was sub-biblical for referencing traditional theological sources such as creeds and confessions. Can you see the irony? I can.

I also referenced James White and Alister McGrath, whom I staunchly disagree with to try to provide helpful advice to those wanting to study further. Bernard, Dulle, White & McGrath are not gate-keepers but they are clear advocates for their opposing Godhead theologies. Hence I referenced them for further study. Not the same. They are mere voices of study. Not authoritative nor of any salvific importance. Where they and when they deviate from Biblical tenants they are... simply wrong.

You asked about the Nicene trinitarianism as if it were the gatekeeper instead of biblical trinitarianism. To which I inferred an unhealthy emphasis upon creedal confessions. As long as you esteem the Bible as superior and creeds inferior to the Scriptures, we can agree.

On this blog and others I find that most people have not studied oneness theology and are ill equipped to comment on it. Some have and are quite apt at arguing against it and for Trinitarianism. Additionally, many oneness have not studied trinitarianism and are not equipped to comment effectively on it as a Godhead theology.

I do not view every singular reference in the OT as a proof text against the trinity. I understand where trinitarians argue that God is one and yet 3 distinct persons. I do however find these arguments problematic and find the oneness explanations much more credible. The same is true for the OT plurality references (Genesis, Psalms, etc). Oneness proponents have to explain plural language as well.

Tom Chantry said...

Troy,

You see and understand that the Scriptures point to the oneness of God. You see that they also point to the eternal Sonship of Christ. In fact, they clearly teach monotheism, the full, eternal deity of the Father, the full, eternal deity of the Son, the full, eternal deity of the Spirit, and the personal interaction as distinct individuals of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

What you need to see is that this is not a puzzle to be solved, as is suggested by the statement that you find the Oneness "solution" more satisfying. Rather, these are truths which must be held simultaneously if we are to believe what the Bible teaches about God.

And that is what Trinitarian doctrine is - the affirmation of one God (as the Bible says), of the deity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit (as the Bible says), and of the unique personality of the Father, Son and Spirit (as the Bible also says). The biblical doctrine of God is not a puzzle, but a set of propositions, each of which is to be believed.

As long as you pit one verse against another, or view different teachings of Scripture as "problematic" for one view or the other, you are missing the point of the biblical teaching. God is as He is presented in Scripture: One God eternally subsisting in three distinct persons.

I appreciate that you have read White and McGraith. Do not, though, read them as potential solutions to a puzzle, asking who can get the most pieces to fit. Rather, understand that one view - and only one view - asserts everything which the Bible says about the nature of God, and that is the view espoused by the church throughout history.

donsands said...

"I believe this doctrine is of supreme importance...: The God who saves is the Triune God of Scripture, and anyone who denies Him has denied the Only God, and cannot be saved."-Tom C.

I believe with you bro. And even a freshly regenerated dead soul will welcome the truth of his Father's holy Word, as it is fed to him by good under-shepherds, like the TeamPyro Three Amigos, and you Tom, and so many other Pastors and teachers of Christ.

How about a hymn for us all to take time to sing to out God: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-pZNULbJws

Thank You Lord Jesus for dying for my filthy dead soul. Thank You father for giving Your only Beloved Perfect Son for rebels like me. Thank You Holy Spirit for coming upon me, and living in me, and as Moses struck the rock and water came forth in incredible floods of divine providence, so Jesus was struck so that You, dearest Spirit would flow through our bellies as living water. Amen And amen.

Troy said...

Tom,

I appreciate the tenor of your comments. I could reword it using biblical tenants and build out a oneness statement of belief.

And, I don't agree that all you posted is taught in the scriptures. However, I've hijacked this thread long enough.

donsands said...

Troy, you didn't hijack it. Enjoying the discussion myself.

One last Word from Paul from me, if that's okay:

"Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."-Paul

(2 Corinthians 13:11-14 ESV)

donsands said...

I'd like to drop one more hymn for you all to sing along, and so be uplifted:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5C-5fpf19o

"This is my Father's world: Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring! God reigns: let earth be glad! A-men.

Buenos noches mi amigos!

Dave said...

Troy, I appreciate your participation here, as I have many family members who are very active in the UPC. e.g. A letter from David Bernard was read at a recent funeral service of a relative, and one "Pastor" that I spoke with hoped that I would have the opportunity to meet Bernard. It grieves me when I read that the UPC is listed among other cults because of its denial of the trinity. Does this not concern you? Or perhaps, do you believe that those who hold to Trinitarian doctrine are the cult? Another issue, when were you saved? What do you trust in for your salvation?

Brian said...

The great thing about the Trinitarian nature is it's so mind-blowing that it is exactly what we would expect of God's very essence-deep and mysterious. But nonetheless, it's revealed as such, so attempting to mold God into our image by making him into anthing other than triune is nothing less than heresy.

The Damer said...

Troy has been very instructive about the way Jakes most likely will conduct himself.

Let me translate his comments... "I'm not a duck!! QUACK!!!"

Troy said...

Dave,

It grieves me when I read that the UPC is listed among other cults because of its denial of the trinity. Does this not concern you?
It does not. Terms and labels that typically carry a negative connotation are often attributed to those who differ or are different. It's a common tactic when the intention is to demonize and all too common a normal expression of our old nature.

Or perhaps, do you believe that those who hold to Trinitarian doctrine are the cult?

Not a cult, but clearly mistaken.

Another issue, when were you saved?
I was "saved" when I trusted in the finished work of Christ on the cross and obeyed the gospel by repenting of my sins, being baptized (in Jesus' name) and was filled with the Holy Ghost.

What do you trust in for your salvation?

Not "what" but who. Jesus.

Daryl said...

Troy,

And this is why getting the doctrine of the Trinity right is so vital, and getting it wrong is so condemning.

It's not enough to say "I trust in Jesus" given the variety of definitions of Jesus out there. Be it Oneness, Mormon, Catholic or some other aberration, a non-Trinitarian and therefore non-biblical Jesus, is no Jesus at all, and as such, cannot and does not save.

Repent. Please.

olan strickland said...

Someone is wrong on the internet and I had to leave :)

For the Modalists I have three questions in one :) Right now, at this moment, where is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

Troy said...

Daryl,

It's not enough to say "I trust in Jesus" given the variety of definitions of Jesus out there. Be it Oneness, Mormon, Catholic or some other aberration, a non-Trinitarian and therefore non-biblical Jesus, is no Jesus at all, and as such, cannot and does not save.

When asked in what you trust in for salvation... if your answer is anything other than "Jesus" you are wandering dangerously near an edge where a fall is imminent. Review your 5 solas kind sir. I was not being vague or trying to slip in under the radar. My opening post included my "oneness" persuasion.

I'm okay that you don't believe that the Jesus who died for me is not the same Jesus who died for you. I would counter that it is the Jesus of Oneness theology is the biblical Jesus. However, I understand that its the same Jesus who died for me that died for you, although you don't recognize His identity as the Bible expresses.

Repent. Please.

Thanks for saying please. I think it underscores your sincerity, but I cannot. If the Biblical data or the Lord Himself leads me to repent, I'll gladly do so.

Troy said...

For the Modalists I have three questions in one :) Right now, at this moment, where is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?

I'm not a "modalist" but I'll take a swing at your triune question. BTW, your question should read where "ARE" the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Perhaps your thinking too singular. Been hanging around some oneness guys lately? :)

Colossians 2:8-10 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

G'night all.

donsands said...

Jesus is the Head. Col. 2:19

We are the body of Christ.

And God gives us growth. v.20 The father, who thundered that He was well pleased in His Beloved Son Jesus, has brought Him to the Cross, and there His Father poured out His wrath upon the Holy Lamb of God, His precious Son. The father gave Jesus a cup to drink.
jesus sweat blood that night, and asked His father to take this bitter wrath from Him; and desired another way to go. Nevertheless, Your will be done Father.

What a Savior! What a Son! And what a Father to give His Son for filth like us.
Amazing grace truly, there's no sweeter sound in all the universe, nor a million more universes!

God saves us by putting all our sin on His Son. And He quickens us from the dead, doesn't He.

"If then you were raised with Christ [Jesus], seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God......And whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to god the Father through Him." Col. 3:1,17

Have a good day all. Thank You father for giving us Your Son, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who is our Savior and Friend, and You are now our Father, and we are Your dear children, forgiven in the blood of Christ, which is precious, more than any other possibility. Amen.

Dan said...

@DJP & Fred,

True on the DG discussion. I guess the only thing I remembered correctly was that it was on the kind of topic we should be debating charitably among brothers.

Thanks for the link to your write-up.

olan strickland said...

BTW, your question should read where "ARE" the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Perhaps your thinking too singular.

My grammar is correct. Trinitarians are monotheists.

The verses that you quoted (Colossians 2:8-10) do affirm the deity of Christ but do not even come close to you taking a swing at the question. Evidently you aren't aware of the verses in Colossians that Donsands quoted, especially 3:1 where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Been hanging around some oneness guys lately? :)

Nope! They are Modalists and have to twist and ignore the Scriptures to maintain their heresy.

Dave said...

Why do those who believe in a godhead that consists of Jesus only, trust not in Jesus alone for their salvation? What would be the eternal destiny of one who had repented, but had not yet experienced water baptism and the filling of the Holy Ghost? -It has been over 23 years now, but I talked with a girl who was very confused about her salvation. She had repented of her sins and trusted in Christ alone, by grace through faith. However, it was a ministry that believed in baptismal generation by whom she was baptized (a hole was cut in the ice of the St. Mary's River in February). She was confused as to when she experienced forgiveness of sins and was a child of God.

Robert said...

Troy,

With Whom is Jesus interceding on our behalf? Who is Jesus satisfying as the propitiation for sin?

Also, read Ephesians 1:3-6 (God the Father), then Ephesians 1:7-12 (God the Son), and then Ephesians 1:13-15 (God the Holy Spirit). Read those sections separately and meditate upon them. It is a clear division of the work of each Person of the Trinity. These are not merely modes of one person, but they are three distinct Persons Who are the One God. Now how exactly They fit together as God is a mystery for sure, but They are all distinct.

This is a repost of a comment that I directed towards Matt, but I think you should look closely at this portion of Scripture as well. I am curious how you would defend Oneness in light of this passage. It is clear that Paul is speaking of three distinct Persons.

Troy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
southerngospelyankee said...

I haven't looked deeply into PC & D's modalism, but it looks like they probably are heretics.

Still, I personally don't have a problem listening to their stuff, because they had some really awesome, biblically sound songs in the 90s. (Their songs are still sound as far as I know, just less awesome. It's the curse of the long-lived artist. Your early stuff is virtually ALWAYS your best.)

Tom Chantry said...

Yes. The Oneness proponents are watching. Which is why Jakes' prevarications and MacDonald's weakness are matters of eternal consequence.

donsands said...

"...they had some really awesome, biblically sound songs in the 90s." gospelyankee

And that's great, as I have told my local CCM radio station the same, and that they really, really need to tell their audiencethat these 3 guys are false-sheep. BUT, they never do, and they shrug it off, like no big deal, and Don is just one of those goofy kind of Christians; very critical.
Satan has many devils in this world, and in the CCM airwaves for sure.

I think of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the 'Messiah' at Christmas, and surely we can enjoy tis talent as we make note that these souls need the Gospel of grace.
The same for PC&D.

DJP said...

First, here's Troy's last post, minus only one thing:

To all. This is not the appropriate virtual turf or forum for continuing with the back and forths. [email address deleted]

But rest assured... we are watching you. :)

Regards,

Troy

DJP said...

Now, more about Troy, and in sum:

First, a sincere appreciation. Troy is, it would appear, an unsaved heretic. But he is a nice guy. No sarcasm intended.

Look, he didn't create a profile with a hundred blasphemies, he didn't say "Read this and this and this" and throw out links. His engagement, while arguably off-target (in a post about driving he challenges whether "round" is the best shape for wheels), was friendly and respectful. Hence the almost-no-deletion.

But: (next comment)

DJP said...

The Biblical Christian's stance should never be, "Well, there are creeds that settled everything, and those are my authority, so there."

The Bible alone is the Word of God, and that will never change.

However, Proverbs 12:15; 18:2 and 26:2 all paint the picture of a fool as being a man who refuses to learn from his betters, while wise men hear instruction.

And so we have it in the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. It is the round wheel, in need of no reinvention. It is a certainty that the Bible, literally from start to finish, frames and affirms a single, Triune God, one as to His essence, forever three as to His persons.

This was investigated in the first century, the second, the third. Our elders vetted the Bible and the concept. They have written well and wisely.

Have they said all that can be said? No. Is it to be believed because they said it? No.

However, it is not believed because someone has made a new discovery in the Bible missed by millennia of godly men. Not one objection has been raised which hasn't been answered over and over again, and with finality. Even in this thread, Chantry alone slam-dunked it in one comment. But he'd be the first to say that much more could be said.

The point is, Bible believing Christians know and affirm what the Bible says about the Triune God. Jakes has not affirmed that God. Now it's whispered that in secret dark places he's changed his mind - and if you have the money, you can find out about that next year!

Which, if true, how is Jakes in any sense a Christian leader?

There y'go.