27 January 2012

Coupla-Five Additional Thoughts on the Events of the Week

by Frank Turk

Before your weekend, you might need a few of these thoughts:

1. I repudiate all attempts to assign motives to the activities witnessed this week as reported/commented on in this blog space.  Gazing into the hearts of people in order to make sense of their actions is for politicians with bad motives, self-promoting charlatans, and gossip-mongers.  It is not anyone's place to discern what is in another person's heart.  However, that does not forbid us from discerning what actually happened and framing our objections to that.

2. That cuts both ways, btw: when someone receives criticism, and they offer, "those people are just jealous," as one among several of the best excuses not to answer that criticism, that's just poisoning the well -- and not even a very clever application of it.  It's sort of like poisoning the well while someone behind you is playing ominous music on a portable sound system and you're perfecting your evil Dr. Horrible laugh.

3. We all want to be on the receiving end of irenic discussions, but very few of us deserve them -- or even know how to participate in them.  You know: I don't blog like this because you get more flies with vinegar than you do with honey.  I blog like this because in the real world where we live, people wandering off the beaten path (specifically: of our faith) don't see gentle rebuke as rebuke at all.  They see it as the infamous "agree-to-disagree" cover they need to do exactly what they intended to do in the first place.  That doesn't mean we dispense with all the niceties.  Those thinking I just tossed out red meat yesterday to drive traffic to our little blog here have a pretty short memory.  Being clear about objections doesn't mean we weren't nice, but obviously the "nice" has gotten no one anywhere -- except to be branded "jealous" and "unfruitful" by those we have criticized.  Somebody who wants an irenic discussion of their experiments in broader ecumenism ought to, at least, not be threatening critics with arrest when they show up at the front door.

4. I'm still looking forward to Acts29 telling us what Mark Driscoll's embrace of TD Jakes as a full-fledged brother in Christ means to them as a network of affiliated churches and church planters.  It will be instructive.

5. You know: yesterday, when I was talking to Paul Edwards about this kerfuffle (a word introduced to this topic, btw, by D.A. Carson when he lined out what it means to be part of the Gospel Coalition back in October 2011), I mentioned that if you pressed, me, I might be willing to say that T.D. Jakes is possibly a brother in Christ.  I'm sure that rattles a lot of cages, so let me line out what I mean by that and then you can blog all weekend to remove me from polite company.
Well, it walks like a Duck ...
  • For starters, I promise you my kids cannot pass an ordination exam regarding the nuances of Trinitarian theology -- and they are pretty sharp kids.  That doesn't mean they aren't Christians: it means they have an incomplete theology which is growing in wisdom, in stature and in the favor of men (if I can say it that way and not also be drummed out of polite company).  A person doesn't need to have a completely-complete systematic theology to be saved by Christ.  Jakes might have the same lousy theological education that most adults in America have, and still have faith in Christ.
  • That said, that does not excuse him in the least for being a person who, for decades, has taught what is undeniably-modalist theology, and has trained others to do so.  It doesn't release him from the requirement to repent and recant his false teaching, and to make it right by, at the very least, revising and remaking his remarks on this subject.  He's a leader and not just Jack in the Pew: he has more responsibility than the average blogger, not less, when it comes to an item like this.
  • And this goes directly to the question of his Christian status as a brother in Christ.  When I say something that's false or misleading, or I do something which fumbles the ball in some way,  of course I should do the right thing and repent.  When I do that, I prove I am an actual brother in Christ and not a faker or someone who is either self-deceived or intentionally deceptive.  If he's my brother in Christ, saying, "I'm on a journey," and "It's actually too mysterious for words," and "well, I use 'manifestations' when you use 'persons' but we just mean the same darn thing," and so on is actually the opposite of humility and the opposite of brotherly love: it's self-justification.  It says that all errors are actually par for the course, and that I have no culpability in them.  That's not Christian faith speaking: that's something else, and it's ugly.  You want me to treat you like a brother (much less: a leader and teacher) in Christ?  Act like it.  Do what we do.  Real fruitfulness is repentance whenever we do something wrong, and not justifying our mistakes is a very corny, aw-shucks way.
And with that, I'm done for the week.  The comments are shut down.  When you read this, remember to be in the Lord's house on the Lord's day with the Lord's people, and have some faith in the real man Christ Jesus, who humbled himself before he was born to actually condescend to be born and then die for the sake of the rest of us who are daily mucking things up.  It's a game-changer.