Before James MacDonald's disastrous and still unaddressed decision to host T. D. Jakes as a "Christian leader," I didn't know MacD from Adam. So I wasn't as shocked as others who had known and previously thought well of him — simply because I had no baseline.
When I wrote on it, therefore, it was simply a concern over the issues. I think my first weighing-in was 9/2011. But my two most substantial contributions were this and this. The latter two were the more important, and the third was, in my judgment, the most important.
That third post was proactive and put up in plenty of time to do some good. Had (for instance) any TGC or otherwise high-profile bloggers — even one! — taken up my specific call centering around the Biblical concept of repentance, and made it an inescapable issue, MacDonald and Driscoll might have been unable to avoid it. It might have made a difference. The trainwreck that resulted might have been avoided.
But history's history; so we now know that TGC bloggers and other high-visibility bloggers did not echo that call, and many high-profile leaders remained silent until it was too late, and bad things happened. You know what they say— of all sad words on tongue or pen, the saddest these: "it might have been."
And now here we are yet again, with a different but similar situation.
It's different in that I do know Chuck Swindoll. Well, not personally, though I did sit next to him in Talbot Chapel once. But I've heard Swindoll, read him, enjoyed him a lot in years past. He's earned a good reputation in many ways, at least as being sound and stable on the fundamentals. He has been and remains associated with Dallas Theological Seminary, which itself at least soundly affirms basic theological doctrines.
So whyever would Swindoll's church host singers who are (to say it as charitably as possible) unclear on the core doctrine of the Trinity?
My attention was first drawn to this by Mark Lamprecht, whose Open Letter to Chuck Swindoll and Stonebriar Church on Phillips, Craig & Dean does a fantastic job documenting the concerns any Christian should instantly have on hearing this absolutely baffling news. At last notice, Mark has received no response.
Look: Neither of these matters is new.
I refer first to the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity. This isn't a doctrine that's been recently detected in the text of Scripture. Christians have not only recently turned their attention to studying what Scripture says about the nature of God. The truth of the trinity of persons in the one God been seen and expounded with increasing clarity from the very earliest days of the church. To my mind, Scripture is absolutely crystal-clear and emphatic in its revelation of the Triune God — the God who, one as to essence, has eternally existed in three distinct Persons.
It isn't a newly-identified subject, nor a newly-expounded truth.
And it isn't that the heresy of modalism raised new and baffling questions last Tuesday, questions which haven't been answered finally, thunderously and decisively since the first time they were posed many centuries ago.
And it isn't as if those answers are little-known or difficult to obtain; or as if the issue is not vital and foundational. And it isn't as if it's impossibly difficult (A) to express the basic truths of the doctrine, or (B) to sniff and (C) ferret out when false teachers are squidging or fudging or dodging those truths.
Second, I refer to serious and (as far as I know) utterly unanswered concerns expressed about Phillips, Craig and Dean's view of God. These are long-standing, easily-located, and all over the place. James White has spoken up, Eric Nielsen has a lengthy treatment at White's site. Neither of these is recent nor difficult to find.
The Wikipedia quotations are typical of PCD's "responses," and can serve as representatives of all the others I've seen. While they might work for the "top men" who gave T. D. Jakes a thumbs-up (and in Bryan Loritts' case as much as said that only racist "middle-aged white guys" weren't satisfied), these pathetic dodges wouldn't work for most Biblically and theologically prepared Christians.
So, all that said, here I am again.
- What possible excuse or explanation can there be for Chuck Swindoll to promote anyone who isn't crystal-clear on the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity?
- ...and if anyone wants to say "they've changed," then I refer you right back to this and this.
That is, I asked how a man can held up as a Christian leader in any sense when he is not crystal-clear on such fundamentals as the Gospel and the nature of God. And so I now am asking again: how can singers lead in worship if they are in any way unclear as to their understanding of the nature of God and the Gospel? Hello? what does "worship" mean? Does it matter what god we're worshiping, whether we are worshiping the same god as the worship-leaders? Does it matter what we are conceiving of as the basis of that relationship that underlies our worship?
Chuck Swindoll has always identified himself with the school of thought that affirms what should be obvious: these things matter. And now, this? What possible sense does this make?
In fact, may I be forgiven a "See, I Told You So" moment? I have tried again and again to raise the issue of what a shame it was that high-visibility leaders and bloggers feigned unawareness of Pyromaniacs, or inability to read what we
I sure think so. We'll see.