17 November 2011

T. D. Jakes (and the like) Part Two: thinking clearly about repentance

by Dan Phillips

In part one (which I will assume you've read), I made bold to assert that there were 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. Interestingly, two Vertical Church posts to which I linked in the first post have since gone the way of an unwelcome Frank Turk comment. Wonder what might happen after today's focus on the second of my two issues?

Let's proceed as I did in the previous post. Let us hope and pray — and, to be clear, I truly do hope and pray — that Jakes comes to repentance on this foundational issue of the nature of God. What would that repentance mean, though? What would that look like, Biblically?

Remember, Luther well began his Top 95 Things Worth Arguing About list with:
When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance
"Repent" is a Bibley word, a Jesus-word. But what is repentance? It isn't a small topic; I work it out on page 150ff. of TWTG, and it takes some doing to understand.

Many feelings or activities or attitudes mimic repentance, but fall short of it. Feeling bad is not necessarily repentance. Feeling humiliated, or feeling bad about getting caught is not necessarily repentance.

What characterizes genuine repentance? The two most common Hebrew words means (A) to regret, or (B) to turn around, return, turn back. The most frequent Greek word means a mental paradigm-shift.

If we learn of repentance, then, from the Hebrew word shub, to repent involves turning around. You were heading in one direction, now you are heading in its opposite. You confess the rightness of God's judgment (Zech. 1:6). You turn from your wicked ways (Jer. 5:7) and, in the same act, turn to God (Isa. 10:21).

Or to take it from the Greek word metanoia, repentance involves looking at things quite differently. You are operating on a new paradigm. Formerly, your calculations rested on the axiom 2+2 = ; now, you're starting all over and re-calculating from 2+2=4. You were thinking and living as if God's coming kingdom was an irrelevant nothing; you begin thinking and living as if it were an impending certainty (Matt. 4:17).

But we mustn't confine ourselves to synonyms for "repentance" per se. Repentance involves dealing with sin and its fruits. What other language does the Bible use?

Of course, one big word is mortify. It means put to death or, in the vernacular, kill it dead. You don't want to leave it pining for the Fjords; you want it cold, stiff, out of the game. The opposite is presented in Romans 13:14. I discussed all this at length in another post, to which I now direct you, so that I may come directly to the point of this one.

Here are the facts of this situation to the very best of my knowledge:
  1. Jakes has an admitted past in, and a long history of identification with, modalism.
  2. MacDonald — and only MacDonald, to my knowledge — is now saying Jakes is a Trinitarian.
  3. The Bible reveals God as Triune; therefore
  4. Modalism is a heresy.
  5. Heresy is sin.
  6. If Jakes was a modalist, and is a Trinitarian, then he has changed from what is sinful to what is true and pleasing to God, if only in this one specific.
  7. The Biblical noun that describes such a change is repentance.
All that to say this: if T. D. Jakes is a Trinitarian today, then to get there he must have repented of the sin of modalism.

That is the foundation for what follows. And let me say once again with crystal clarity: we all hope T. D. Jakes has indeed repented of the heresy he's (at least) represented and allowed himself to be identified with, and has embraced the God and Gospel of Scripture. That would be wonderful. We would welcome that with joy.

But hoping for the best does not require turning off our brains or our memories.

So: if Jakes has repented of the sin of modalism, and given the Biblical definition and description above of repentance, we have the right (and, in my opinion, James MacDonald has the responsibility) to ask some questions. Among them:
  1. When was it that Jakes repented of the sin of modalism?
  2. What led Jakes to repent of the sin of modalism?
  3. Where are the public confessions of Jakes' repentance of this sin?
  4. If Jakes has come to see that modalism is a sin, and that his allowing himself to be identified with that heresy is a sin, how is it that nobody knew of this change of heart except James MacDonald?
  5. King Josiah had the Word of God around and did nothing about it. But when he really heard it (2 Kings 22), he took immediate and public action, tearing down altars and destroying idols and putting idolatrous priests out of business (2 Kings 23). What altars has Jakes torn down, what idols has Jakes destroyed, what false teachers has Jakes opposed, and why is the public completely ignorant of it? Or, to be specific:
  6. How can Jakes explain waiting months (years?) to make this revelation, and then only in a paid venue?
  7. What does Jakes think of the people who believed his teaching, accepted modalism because of it, and died holding to that false god, as he waited publicly to unveil his change of heart?
  8. What restitution has Jakes made, and what has Jakes done to correct all the people who either were indoctrinated in or made indifferent to the heresy of modalism through his teaching?
  9. What discipline did Jakes accept, and what did he do, when Jakes realized that he had been teaching (or tolerating) a heresy with his very public profile for so many years?
  10. Jakes previously specifically refused to disassociate himself from advocates and purveyors of the modalist heresy. Has Jakes now disassociated himself from them? Where did he say this or do this? Name some individuals and groups, so that people can be warned from them.
That last especially shouldn't be difficult. I'm not just blowing smoke on that, either. Look, you all know that I too was in a cult. I explained that at some length. I also explained how the Lord saved me out of that cult.

Now, wouldn't it have been weird if it had been known that I was associated with that cult, but for the last 38+ years I never once said that what they taught was flat-out error, and that anyone who believed it was lost and had no hope of eternal life? Wouldn't it be odd if I refused to disassociate myself from the advocates of Religious Science?

Nothing to do with hate, although it has everything to do with judging the false teaching. You could ask me if I have fond memories of the people, and I'd say I surely do. Do I care for them? Yes. Were they kind and patient with me? Very much so.

Have I parted ways with them? Absolutely, because what they believe and teach is a lie, is contrary to the Word of God, and will keep any adherent under the wrath of God without hope of pardon or life.

See? It isn't that hard. Even a fumbletongued pinhead like me can do it.

So... will MacDonald ask Jakes those questions, on that big bright international platform he's giving him?

Shouldn't he?

Shouldn't someone?

Hey, like our T4G 2008 T-shirts said: someone has to say these things.

Dan Phillips's signature


FX Turk said...

Well, look: if Mark Driscoll can get by as a repentant guy by just saying, "Hey: I repented," then of course TD Jakes can draw the same pass.

Unless, of course, we are racists.

DJP said...

Sigh. You forgot to poke the charismatics. Some chairs will remain unthrown.

Thomas Louw said...

And they will decide how to cut up the Elephant in Modules for the Mac Burgers they want to serve.

Barbara said...

What strikes me the most is that Mr. MacDonald seems to be willing to lose his credibility as a faithful minister of the Gospel over this man, albeit fighting tooth-and-nails to have both (credibility and Jakes). Why? I wonder. Eventually he'll only be able to keep one. I just pray that he chooses wisely and repents fully, to the glory of God.

Fred Butler said...

It means put to death or, in the vernacular, kill it dead.

For those into sci-fi, it's like saying "nuke it from orbit."

Anonymous said...

The Elephant Room isn't about doctrine or right teachings or repentance. It isn't about defending the true nature of God. It isn't about "walls of disagreement" or "the conversations you never thought you’d hear".

It's about money and marketing and notoriety.

Matt Waymeyer said...

Seems to me that one of the fruits of repentance when it comes to heresy is to step down from the pulpit, at least for a time. After all, if a man is heretic on Monday and he repents of his heresy on Tuesday, how can he be considered above reproach and ready to protect the flock from false teaching by Wednesday?

Ted Bigelow said...

Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) said, "When I say God, I mean Trinity." Great theologian and heavyweight he was, he would never had made it to the Elephant Room! He simply wasn't successful enough (HT: Tom Chantry for defining success).

Like us, he lived in a day when Modalists had a large place in Christendom. He argued, labored, and wrote in order to help many to repent of idolatry (Modalism) because it damns souls.

Would we not agree that repentance, to be the genuine article, must be as widespread as the offense being repented from?

In Jakes this would mean confessing the Trinity and following all the steps you have written. We would see this: "behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter" (2 Cor. 7:11).

What would repentance look like from MacDonald for charging Christians to listen to an unrepentant Jakes? Not merely paying back the $99 fee to all, but rather 4 x $99 to all. Do the math. There is no repentance coming for providing a platform to heretics.

Marla said...

Thanks for the post Dan. I had never heard/read your testimony (thanks for the links to past posts)--- I think I've only been reading Pyro for the last 2 years.

Very true about God using anything that contains the Gospel and scripture. My husband and I were drawn by two books I would never recommend now,but they had enough scripture for the Holy Spirit to convict us. God's word never returns void.

I do pray both James MacDonald and TD Jakes repent of their respective sins. This ER2 is just a fiasco. I find it encouraging that JM has taken down the past posts -- perhaps he is dealing with his errors right now.

Bill Honsberger said...

via Fred - Its the only way to be sure...

Not holding my breath for repentance to occur - but would love and thank the Lord if it happens.

FX Turk said...

Yes, but I'm on-topic. That's good, right?

DJP said...

You're Frank Turk. You're good. QED.

Robert said...

This whole thing with MacDonald's explanation of inviting Jakes to ER2 and asking people to wait is reminiscent of something from my childhood. There was an up-and-coming reporter for ABC News who did some great work as an investigative reporter for 20/20. ABC decided to promote (for a couple of weeks) a live prime time special for a discovery that he had made. He had found the location of Al Capone's secret vault and was going to have crews bust down the walls and find out what was hidden inside. By the time the night was over, Geraldo Rivera's credibility was shot. There were no discoveries made and he would not be working for ABC News much longer. He actually had to go the route of a talk show where he was pretty much exploiting haterd between different groups and sensationalizing everything.

I would say that if we don't see the repentance that you have described here, that there should be a similar reaction to MacDonald for staging this whole thing. And If he doesn't repent, then TGC is really going to have to consider the question that Phil posed to them - is the Gospel more important or the coalition? If it is the latter, then they should be ashamed of themselves.

DJP said...

But I trust that, discerning readers our regulars tend to be, nobody misses what I've done in the last two posts.

Even supposing that MacDonald makes his first question "What is your position on the Trinity," and Jakes' response is "I believe in it!", we're not done. Not hardly. Only just begun.

Then the issues of these two posts will only begin to have to be addressed. Although, the way things go in The Club, it may depend on you folks to keep bringing these issues up.

Dave said...

It's hard to believe that Geraldo's television special about Al Capone's vault aired over 25 years ago!

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

You certainly nailed this one, Dan. And here it is in black and white: "What does Jakes think of the people who believed his teaching, accepted modalism because of it, and died holding to that false god, as he waited publicly to unveil his change of heart?
What restitution has Jakes made, and what has Jakes done to correct all the people who either were indoctrinated in or made indifferent to the heresy of modalism through his teaching?"

This surely exposes his heart for those who are as lost as he is. Has there ever been an open, public declaration of his heresy to set the beliefs of his follower’s right? Seems to me this is the height of self-centeredness. Which is totally lacking in love for the brethren.

Ted Bigelow said...

For all who are hoping the Gospel Coalition will "do something," don't get your hopes up.

Coalitions don't discipline. At least not with the power of Christ behind them. The best they can do is shun (a la Mark Dever).

Coalitions don't have the biblical right to discipline, for only the local church is given the power to do this (Mat. 18:15-20).

Let's not ask the Gospel Coalition to do something Christ only wants His local church doing. That will only make matters worse.

You see, the discipline issue isn't: "Which one is more valued, the Gospel, or the Coalition. It's the relationship of MacDonald to the only organization Christ gave authority to perform discipline - the local church.

Let's focus our words a bit. We call on the elders of MacDonald's Harvest Church to stop giving a place to heresy by one of their elders. They should further call MacDonald to submit to his responsibilities in light of Titus 1:9, which teaches that elders are to refute error, not promote it.

Let's not rely on the power of the internet, or the Gospel Coalition, to do what Christ calls the elders of MacDonald's local church to do.

Niether the internet, nor the Gospel Coalition knows not Christ disciplinary power; both are man-made constructs.

Now, if the elders at Harvest will not call MacDonald to uphold Titus 1:9, then at that time we must make our own judgments and publish them indeed.

But let's not ask the Gospel Coalition to do what they won't and can't while neglecting to ask MacDonald's co-elders to do what they can and should.

IOW, neglect or deference on their part makes them complicit in the sin.

Tom Chantry said...

Dan, your two points this week are tremendous. Neither is based on rumor or supposition. Jakes certainly was a Modalist, and to suggest, as MacDonald has, that this is now a non-issue is to ignore these two points. Moreover, what you have said is entirely based on accepting, not rejecting, MacDonald's defenses.

You say it may depend on us to keep these issues in focus - do you find even the least hope that it will be otherwise? Do not MacDonald's statements to date suggest that it's OK for Jakes to be an unrepentant former Modalist and a mealy-mouthed, unclear Trinitarian? Is there even reason to imagine that he thinks clarity of doctrine and an open, repentant heart have anything to do with being a "Christian Leader?"

Tom Chantry said...

That said, I hope you will not find the following off-topic:

1. Repentance involves self-abasement, not self-promotion.

2. Repentance, therefore, says that what matters in the gospel is God's glory, not my comfort.

3. Repentance consequently strips us of our worldly goods, achievements, and satisfactions; it does not pile them upon us.

Conclusion: Repentance is the very antithesis of the Prosperity Gospel.

Again, Trinitarianism is the most evident and obvious symptom of a greater disease here - one which has many symptoms and many spiritual affects - namely that T.D. Jakes is no Christian. Were he to affirm the Trinity clearly (as per Tuesday's post) and repent thoroughly of his previous error (as per today's post) only a beginning would have been made. When a surgeon cuts out the most obvious tumor of a cancerous patient, he does not proclaim him "cured." The disease runs deep, and many other deadly problems lurk behind Jakes' confusion over the nature of God.

Jakes' repentance, to be thorough, could not only be a repentance from Modalism. It would have to be from a lifetime of proclaiming a false God and a false gospel.

Tom Chantry said...

@Robert, Dave:

Stop talking about things that happened when I was in high school as though they were a quarter century ago, guys! Or soon I'll be calling on you to repent!

(Of the terrible new modern sin of making me feel uncomfortable, that is.)

DJP said...

Yep, and I know you see my point.

It just won't do to say "Hey hey hey, everything's OK - I talked to him on the phone, and he told me so!" and then to say "Look, haters, I told you everything's okay! Now WHAT is your PROBLEM?"

The Damer said...

While the TGC is not the local church it does have the authority to regulate who are the members of it's council.

Rhology said...

You just hate black people, DJP.

DJP said...

That's funny; I was going to respond to an early commenter "At least nobody's saying it's because we're racists. Yet."

And here you are.

But seriously, the more troubling and hard-to-dismiss thing I've read (forget who, sorry) is that this looks more like reverse-racism, or "soft racism." As if — and I'll just say it up-front, and probably explain to all why I'm not welcome in The Club — as if the attitude is "Oh well, he's black, we can't expect him to be doctrinally sound. Let's just be grateful he's popular, somewhere near the Christianoid ballpark, and work with that."

Which, if I'm hearing him rightly, is the sort of thing that breaks Thabiti's heart, and hits mine very hard as well.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Ted Bigelow @ 6:33 makes a very good point. That it is the church elders responsibility to call out heresy on the part their pastor. And that TGC is not to become entangled in these matters.

WELL, not ot go off topic, and maybe this could be addressed in another article. But, isn't it the right of every Christian to speak against heresy?

If I am talking to my son and he asks me about T.D. Jakes, is it not my right to tell my son/neighbor that Modalism is wrong, and that Jakes is teching heresy?

If elders are the only ones given the right to speak against heresy, then we ALL are missing something here.

What piece to the puzzle am I missing?

Robert said...


MacDonald made things worse by then including another black pastor who holds Trinitarian beliefs. I couldn't help but to think of the word "token" when I read MacDonald's own words regarding the matter. Why not just replace Jakes with the other pastor instead?

Dave said...

Tom - I hadn't even noticed Robert's post. :-) I was a senior at Grace College when the much hyped special of the opening of Al Capone's vault aired. Other classmates and myself agreed that the show did have historical value. I wonder if the same will hold true for ER2?

Tom Chantry said...


To be fair, sound Christian leaders from inside the black churches were calling on MacDonald to do exactly that - and their reasons were gospel-rooted and commendable.

However, their calls were couched in terms of, "We know you won't/can't retract the Jakes invitation, so understand the damage you've done and aim for some damage control."

Too bad that "won't/can't" is a product of what is politically correct, not what's morally correct.

donsands said...

"...repentance involves looking at things quite differently."

Amen. That's where it begins. And then you do an about-face.

Great post again. Keep on bro.

What would it have been like to be in the atmosphere when Luther said: "Here I Stand!" Goosebumps, and fears deep in the heart as well?

Here's a good song to encourage you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJqLxUric2w

Robert said...


I'm just a troublemaker like that. Especially since I was still in eighth grade at the time. Not that it makes me feel much younger, though...

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...


You are such a sweet person, always encouraging us. It does not go unnoticed, my friend!

Mark said...

It is also interesting that Jakes was given the title "Bishop" from a Oneness organization. He still uses the title and people like MacDonald use and accept this title, but why?

I asked MacDonald on twitter if a Mormon elder became a Christian and attended his church would he still consider him an elder?


Of course, no Christian would accept one who had a position of elder/pastor/bishop/deacon in a herectical, non-Christian religion would find it acceptable to continue to use those titles in the church after becoming a Christian.

Ted Bigelow said...

@Mary 7:07,

I'm talking about disciplining; your talking about identifying.

We both have the power to identify, but neither of us have the power to discipline for the simple reason we aren't a part of that church.

If we were, we'd be talking personally to Pastor MacDonald and calling him to repent, and failing that, we'd take one or two witnesses, and failing that, we'd take it to the elders (1 Tim. 5:19).

Unknown said...

I don't expect MacDonald to bring any credibility to the ER. He's acting more and more like the romping stomping televangelists on TBN.

Ted Bigelow said...

@The Damer 6:57

Why pin your hopes for protection/gospel fidelity/discipline on TGC?

Even if they were to "put him out" that still wouldn't accomplish Christ's will revealed in Scripture.

TGC is a man-made construct. Don't make it more than that, or hope it will visbly represent God's discipline. Jesus made the church for that.

rom623rom828 said...

According to MacDonald: the elders at his Harvest church whole heartedly agreed to the Elephant room invite to TD Jakes.

Source: MacDonalds' Vertical church post and followup comments on Sept 29-30, 2011: Why I Am Excited to Have T.D. Jakes in the Elephant Room

In that post MacDonald said "Accountability is alive and well among my brothers within The Gospel Coalition, and
I praise God for it."

In the comments section, "Concerned" asks a question:

"Is accountability alive and well among your elders and brothers at Harvest Bible Chapel? Did they agree whole heartedly with this invite to T.D. Jakes?"

James MacDonald Replied on Sept 30:

"Of course the answer is yes, but the great thing about being part of a church family is that all you need to do is ask one of Elders."

Fred Butler said...

FWIW, I did learn a bunch about prohibition and gangsters and Tommy guns during the Al Capone vault opening. The documentary filler 20/20 used to keep the audience in their seats as we waited for those union contractor guys to break through that basement wall was stellar.

*Now back on topic

Ted Bigelow said...


Well, there you have it from him. Sad.

What about an elder(s) at Harvest? Any of you guys willing to affirm/deny?

How would you explain inviting a modalist BISHOP to speak to your church and other Christians when Titus 1:9 clearly forbids such activity?

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Thank you so much, Ted. I understand the part about the discipline, but TGC still should be calling out the falsity of the doctrine itself and the fact that one of its very own members is giving a platform to a proponent of Modalism.

Aside from the fact that they are not personally responsible for disciplining Jakes, does not negate the fact that they shouldn’t be responsible for the overall content of their website.

Especially since they are promoting what is supposed to be orthodox views of Christianity. Any deviation from orthodoxy should be dealt with swiftly and completely. The longer it lingers, the longer TGC takes to address this matter of sin within its own boundaries, just like any sin we **personally** commit, it will only *fester* and do great harm to us, and the entire body of Christ, itself.

This sin needs to be purged from TGC posthaste. A failure to do so is great sin on their part.

Eric said...

If I remember correctly, there was a pronounced swarm of comments from Harvest elders and/or pastors after Tom Chantry's post here some time ago. Not so much regarding this topic. I wonder why the difference? Mind you, I do not mean to say that they have a responsibility to make any comments here, but the difference seems to communicate something.

Eric O said...

This isn't specifically on topic. How can this criticism of Jakes being a modalist not be tied in with his other outlandish statements made on T.B.N.

So what if he repents of his modalism. Isn't he so far out in Kooky land (with the health wealth and prosperity gospel) that the current topic is only the tip of his heretical iceberg?

Solameanie said...

Dan, probably one of the best and most powerful things on repentance that I've ever seen. Starting off with the pithy Luther quote only was thick chocolate icing on the cake.

If I may, I have had another thought about things like the so-called "Elephant Room" that touches on our culture at large, and no doubt might get me called a conspiracy theorist. But I am beginning to think it's true anyway. What am I talking about?

For a long time, many have observed the dialectic in process in business, schools, focus groups etc. Remembering the basics of the dialectic -"thesis, antithesis, synthesis." When synthesis is reached, the process begins all over again. In the middle of this process, there is usually a moderator who guides the discussion or process. The moderator of this type of thing typically has an end goal in mind, and no matter how many rounds of the dialectic have to take place, that end goal is always in view. Schools and universities and their "values clarification" exercises are notorious for it.

I have seen this happen in churches where there have been problems over false teaching trying to nose its way in. Someone will invariably suggest having a committee or group deal with it, bringing in a "moderator" to help resolve the conflict. The process begins, and in the end, those who want to continue to stand for biblical truth end up frozen out of things. The false or aberrant teachers get their way and firmly ensconced.

Is that happening in the Elephant Room? I hope not. But it happens way too much for my liking, and I wish more people would wake up to it. But then, maybe I'm just a wild-eyed conspiracy nut who needs to be locked up in a rubber room where he can do no harm.

Robert Andrejczyk said...

Pastor Ted Bigelow,

I don't think anyone is calling for TGC to carry out biblical church discipline on MacDonald. I think it is understood that TGC is not the local church and cannot carry out the functions of the local church.

The "discipline" that I believe people are calling for is for TGC to

1. disassociate themselves from MacDonald (i.e. kick him out)
2. publicly denounce what he did
3. affirm that the gospel and other vital doctrines are truly more important than the coalition

TGC's complete inaction and seeming unwillingness to address the situation are troubling.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Aznoe said...

I just wanted to follow up the previous thread with the following statement: I do believe in the trinity -- that there is one God who is made up of three eternal persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus came in the flesh and died a physical death in payment for our sins and was raised from the dead to prove that He had conquered death.

I believe that modalism is incorrect in its understanding of God, but the purpose of my questions was this: is it a damnable heresy in and of itself? Can we categorically say that anyone who claims to be a modalist or have oneness theology is definitely going to Hell unless they repent?

I find it difficult to make such a statement, personally, especially without talking through the issue to see if it is only an issue of semantics (different definitions for certain words) or an actual rejection of who God is.

As for repentance, I think the church in America has a whole has a great deal to seek repentance for. For example, how many of us have spent more hours watching football than with God in prayer?

Eric said...


If you wonder why sometimes people respond to you with a level of exasperation, you have just again demonstrated why that happens by failing to come to grips with answers that have already been given.

I am perplexed and torn when I read many of your comments because I want to believe in your sincerity, but I am constantly confronted with your refusal to honestly deal with straight-forward answers that you have already been given. It is a recurring pattern, and I am far from the first to notice this and say something about it? Will you be willing to recognize this tendancy and do something about it? To this point you have maintained a steadfast refusal to do so despite the godly wisdom of many commenters here directed for your edification.

DJP said...

Yes, that was a good question when you asked it and had it answered in the last thread, Matt. Now go there and read and learn, please.

And as all of us do periodically, let me just say: you are seriously messed up on the level of foundational, basic doctrines. For instance, that's a very poor statement of the Trinity, and probably explains why you aren't getting what everybody else already got.

Yet you come in here again and again lecturing the readers, lamenting how bad off (the rest of) the church is, and touting your private revelations.

So I'll be a friend and tell you again: best things you can do are:

1. Get a good church and pastor.
2. Let him teach you.
3. Shush with the scolding and lecturing.
4. Learn.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Specific, distinct words make a very big difference, Matt. Take the word "a", pretty innocent on the surface, but the way the JW's use the word is a matter of life and death. They beleive Jesus is 'A" God. But not THEE God!

Words do matter, or what was the Reformation all about? The word "alone" is what the RCC raised such a fuss about.

DJP said...

Look: I know you all want to help Matt, you're dear and patient people. But it's been done before over and over again with no progress; it was done on the last meta; we're not going to do it again two days later.

Unknown said...

Matt you should seriously consider the friendly advice from Dad. The church is not "optional" so you should find a good one.

Unknown said...

That should have read Dan not dad (he's not that much older than me)!!!

DJP said...

LOL, I liked it, though. If it seemed fatherly, = WIN


David Regier said...

Man, I just bought a 50-pound bag of Troll Chow.

Thanks, Dan.

Unknown said...

Lol I just don't want to (further) derail the meta! I appreciate the way the Team has approached this issue. In our area ER2 has been promoted pretty aggressively. After enduring ER1 I wouldn't waste our church's resources to go back for another round even if Jakes wasn't in the mix.

Tom Chantry said...


You almost sound reasonable on this issue...

...but we were here on Tuesday, and we read what you said, and honestly, we know what the issues are - not with Jakes, but with you. You hate the authority and teaching of the church so much that you're willing to jettison even the doctrine of Trinity (which you claim to believe even though you act as though it is novel and unexplained) if jettisoning it will help you take a slap at those who hold to the truth as it has been preached and understood in the church for ages.

This is, to put it bluntly, a subject on which you should not express an opinion. Your issue is that you approach every question from the standpoint of "Me and my Bible" and are unwilling to consider any teacher or any authority as having anything to say to you. That's a you problem, and one which makes anything you say on the issues of this post rather a distraction.

So we aren't going to engage you any further on the matter of Trinity. I stand with Dan in his advice to you. Get a church. Stop talking and start listening. And don't expect us to chase your rabit trails today.

Matt Aznoe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

It will sadden many but surprise no one to learn that Matt still is not listening.

Ted Bigelow said...


So what if TGC does all you ask for? It doesn't accomplished the will of God revealed in Scripture. What, eternally speaking, will you have gained? Will Christ be pleased?

Methinks you argue for secondary separation.

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

I have to say this has been one of the most enjoyable series of posts I have ever read. First, it has provided a first class education on the Truth of The Trinity and the lie of modalism. Second, it has also provided a first class education on what true repentance is. This is no small thing as I can tell you that I spent many years saying that I was a Christian because I had “said so” but given repentance little thought. These two things are worth the price of admission here alone, but wait, there is no admission price here, and that leads to the third thing about these posts that I enjoy. There is simply no reason (as if there ever was) for any person to pay 99 cents, let alone 99 dollars to hear a bunch of weak Christians (at best) tickle each others ears. Bravo!

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...


You are such a sweet person, always encouraging us. It does not go unnoticed, my friend!"

Yeah Don, I have to second this comment by Mary… it does not go unnoticed by me either… thanks!

Now Robert, on the other hand, is in big trouble with the “Rivera/Capone” thing... eighth grade? seriously?... I’d make a snarky remark about that but I’m apparently too old to even remember what I was writing about when I started this sentence… thanks a lot! ;-)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"7.What does Jakes think of the people who believed his teaching, accepted modalism because of it, and died holding to that false god, as he waited publicly to unveil his change of heart?"

This is an interesting question that DJP poses. I would speculate/guess that Jakes believes that they are saved, i.e., Heaven-bound.

Possible scenario: Suppose a semi-literate or barely literate drug addict is reached out to and rescued by a Oneness Pentecostal outreach ministry. Maybe it's even a ministry out of T.D. Jakes's church.

This rescuee listens to Jakes's sermons and leaves/repents of the drug habit that ensnared him. He embraces Jesus as his Lord and Savior. This rescuee doesn't know what modalism is and his biblical knowledge comes from listening to Oneness Pentecostal preaching. If you were to use the term "Godhead" with him, he would not really know what you are talking about. He loves Jesus and his family and friends are astonished by the turnaround in his lifestyle and behavior. And both they and him attribute it to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.

Unfortunately the fellow dies in a tragic accident with a heart that is devout in loving Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

A sudden illness befalls T.D. Jakes and a Gospel Coalition affiliated pastor subs in for him at the funeral. The TGC pastor (let's say MacDonald) says that the rescuee is going to Heaven.

True or not true? Good or not good? Is "Unknown" an option?

If "unknown" is an option, then that at least provides hope for the family and friends (leaving aside the veracity of Oneness Pentecostal teaching).

If "unknown" is not an option, and one's doctrinal/biblical stance is that the drug rescuee is not Heaven-bound because of his belief in the distorted Godhead espoused by Oneness Pentecostal teaching, then condemnation is obviously warranted for Jakes (and MacDonald for enabling Jakes).

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've misunderstood, but it's been my impression from what I've read that MacDonald's position is that T.D. Jakes has not, at any time, been a modalist. It seems like he wants to affirm that Jakes has always believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, and all the hub-bub is over a matter of mere semantics.

This would seem to be the way he framed it at the beginning with his "I think the doctrine of the trinity is obscure" comments. In this case, shouldn't we be less concerned with the fact that MacDonald hasn't called Jakes to repent, and more concerned that he seemingly doesn't feel Jakes has anything to repent of?

DJP said...

I tried to anticipate that in the way I phrased both posts, Sean. If you have the time and inclination (big if, I do understand) re-read and you'll see.

Because in that case we at the least have a man content to be perceived as a non-Trinitarian, knowingly using the language of modalists and not of Trinitarians.

Can you imagine Phil Johnson going years with people saying of him and to him that he is seen as being a Gutless Gracer or an Arminian, and him being coy about it?

BTW, in that connection, Ted Bigelow, I meant to say earlier that your citation of 2 Cor. 7:11 was very apposite indeed.

Anonymous said...

Dan,very good point. I had forgotten that part of the previous post.

"Being coy" definitely is the appropriate term. Even MacDonald seemed to, on his blog, toy around with the "is he or isn't he?" idea.

Of course, he did go from "We'll get to the bottom of it at the ER" to "Clearly I believe he's orthodox and will defend him at the ER" in his last blog post on the topic.

...Of course that's also been deleted.

Eric said...

In light of Dan's last two posts, I find it the ultimate irony that the "theme" or "motto" posted at the top of McDonald's blog is "Raising the bar for leaders and their churches".

The Squirrel said...

Matt Aznoe said...
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

DJP said...
"It will sadden many but surprise no one to learn that Matt still is not listening."

Classic. Reminds me of the old OSO days before Dan was forced to turn moderation on at his other blog :-)


Anonymous said...

Know what I would like to see? Someone like Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio either there as a participant or to bring up his critiques. Chris is quickly becoming a major heavyweight in terms of popularity, traffic, downloads, etc and he's spent years doing thoughtful, careful sermon reviews and exegetical work against Noble and Furtick. Why not bring in some real critiques to really get the conversation going?

DJP said...

Chris has never spoken to me nor I to him, so I can't comment on that.

DJP said...

Squirrel: I don't believe they've ever been seen together. Hm.

donsands said...

"....But then, maybe I'm just a wild-eyed conspiracy nut who needs to be locked up in a rubber room where he can do no harm."-meanie


"..is it a damnable heresy in and of itself?"_Good Old Matt


ps (Just kiddin Sola)

Robert Andrejczyk said...

@Ted Bigelow

You’re right. The Gospel Coalition should definitely sit back and let their membership promote false doctrine.

Certainly that is God’s will. Certainly Christ is pleased.

I guess Phil Johnson is arguing for secondary separation, too. In his 11/11 Pyro post he wrote:

That, I think, is why MacDonald and the ER pose a major problem for the Gospel Coalition. He is a council member of TGC and an influential spokesman for the movement. And the first point in TGC's confessional statement is "The Tri-une God."

So is biblical and historic Trinitarianism an essential tenet of Gospel truth, or is it not? If yes, then TGC needs to hold its own council members to the implications of that. If not, one wonders what was the point of the organization in the first place.

Or to put it another way: The collective leadership of TGC are going to have to decide which is more important: the Gospel, or the Coalition.

I'm OK with standing with Phil Johnson on this one even if I'm branded a secondary separationer.

Anonymous said...

bishop55 is a menace and must be stopped....

threegirldad said...

Classic. Reminds me of the old OSO days before Dan was forced to turn moderation on at his other blog

And the wording of the resulting comment was quite a bit more entertaining than, "This post has been removed by a blog administrator."


DJP said...

You guys are spoiling me. I wasn't even trying. Back in the OSO days, I'd sit and compose. He was light-years from a clue, regardless.

Ted Bigelow said...

@Bishop55 - 12:47

You've misread me, my friend. The leaders of TGC should clearly take a public and vocal stand against MacDonald's action regarding the Jakes fiasco. That's simple in my mind. But they won't.

They won't because in part they are a coalition with an agenda that doesn't include discipline, in part becasue they know they are not a local church, and in part because of their perception of what some kind of discipline would do to the coalition. If MacDonald were in any one of their local churches, they would act quite differently, I assure you.

Now here's my point. If they did, as TGC, discipline him in some way, it would not in itself tell us anything about God's will on the matter, or accomplish God's revealed will in the matter. God has nothing to say on the matter of gospel coalitions and their disciplinary polities. The end result therefore could be far worse since God is not pledged to stand by TGC as He will the local church in such matters (Mat. 18:18-20).

So again, I say, join me in calling on the elders (and members too) of MacDonald's church to call thier fellow-elder (fellow-member) MacDonald to repentance for potentially violating Titus 1:9 on an elephant sized scale. They are the ones in the proper biblical role of authority to do so. TGC isn't.

Same goes for our esteemed friend Phil.

For the record, MacDonald is not in himself promoting modalism; Jakes is. Secondary separation would be separating from MacDonald because he associates with Jakes.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Bishop55: "I guess Phil Johnson is arguing for secondary separation, too. ...

I'm OK with standing with Phil Johnson on this one even if I'm branded a secondary separationer."

Perhaps Phil Johnson is arguing for secondary separation (I think he would agree with you, but I'm not sure).

Q: When is secondary separation good and when is it not good?

For example, fundamentalists or alleged fundamentalists are often derided for being secondary separatists. It seems as if anyone who practices secondary separation is deemed or labeled a fundamentalist, an icky fundamentalist.

Can someone practice secondary separation without being a fundamentalist?

Or if you practice secondary separation, does that automatically qualify you as a fundamentalist?

Suppose someone were to deem you a fundamentalist because you believe that it was big mistake for MacDonald to invite Jakes to ER2, for believing that MacDonald needs to separate himself from Oneness Pentecostal T.D. Jakes, how do you respond? Do you declaim the label of being a secondary separatist fundamentalist? Or do you begrudgingly accept it?

If you declaim it, what makes the secondary separation of those fundamentalists different from what you're espousing and doing?

What is the difference between a "good" secondary separation of a biblical Christian and a "bad" secondary separation of a fundamentalist?

CCinTn said...

I doubt that we will be seeing any true Biblical repentance coming from either Jakes or McDonald. Since I haven’t checked my brain at the door, I can confidently state that Jakes has not moved from his Sabellianism beliefs and the only thing that ER2 may provide is proof of his masterful obfuscation of what he really believes. I do hope however that sometime very soon he truly repents of his sin and turns to the Christ revealed in Scripture.

I am saddened by the lack of discernment being exhibited by JM which appears to be coupled with a hardening of the heart and the rearing up of pride. I confess to being a regular listener to Walk in the Word but am finding myself questioning the continuation of this in light of current events.

What does it say when JM, RW, PC&D and others have to go back and delete tweets, blog entries and information posted on their various websites? This done, apparently, in an attempt to cover their tracks, obscure understanding of who they truly are or otherwise hide something they said so as to minimize further scrutiny of published views or an attempt to douse the firestorm their unbridled tongue has caused.

It seems to me that they are sloppy in their communication and/or are cavalier in the way they approach important doctrinal matters. This of course goes back to one of Dan’s points in yesterday’s post when he said that two of the nicest things that can be said of Jakes is:
that he is —
1. An extremely poor communicator; and
2. An extremely poor judge of what is important?

It has also been pointed out that this evaluation certainly applies to McDonald.

It has been rightly stated many times by our hosts and contributors that words mean something. Scripture instructs us to say what we mean, James 5:12 and Matthew 5:37. Our parents taught us that if you tell the truth, you won’t have to remember later what you said.

I think it speaks volumes when these guys are rushing around trying to clean up or sweep under the rug things they previously put out there for public consumption. Reasons certainly could include that they are not courageous enough to ‘man up’ and stand by what they say, they don’t really mean what they say or they have no filter between their brain and their mouth so they really don’t know what it is that they’ve said until the reaction pours in. Why would a Christian Leader (defined in prior posts) feel compelled to alter the perception of their stated views by removing information from social media?

On one hand it smacks of deceit. What do people think when a politician does such a thing other than thinking the person is involved in corruption. On the other hand, how smart are these guys? I mean, come on, in today’s tech world do you really think that you are going to remove something and that it will be gone forever? Don’t they know that it has probably been downloaded and saved by someone somewhere or that anyone with rudimentary computer skills can retrieve the information from the Google farm?

I can’t say what their motives are but certainly it can be said that they are not exhibiting leadership qualities and they have no business being in the place of leadership. At least at this time and until such time that there has been true repentance and restitution made.

A shout out to the Pyro guys and a question for Dan, Frank and Phil: During the last 5 years while you may have had occasion to retract or apologize for something you’ve posted here, have you ever gone back and deleted something you posted because of the reaction it caused or because you got ‘called out’ on a view or position you had taken? I think I know the answer to that question and this demonstrates the difference between wise words grounded in scripture and the words spewed by those who are not so very wise.

Thanks for standing in the gap.

CR said...

I do miss the OSO days and how Dan clarified OSO's posts. lol.

Mark said...


As I documented in a post the Dan linked to, Jakes was indeed a modalist. Jakes admits that in his teens he was a staunch defender of the Oneness position.

His words were, "And yes, I did grow up in a Oneness church. I started there. I started in a Baptist church, but at around 16 or so I did become involved with Oneness. I used to adamantly defend every tenant of what they believed."

This tells us that he knows the theological disagreements well, yet he speaks today as if they are no big deal.

Dan said...

the ability to punctuate a discussion on the Trinity and repentance with a remark on the Norwegian Blue is what makes DJP so awesome.

Unknown said...

Made this for you guys. You can have it for the Po-Motivators collection if you'd like. I've run into this phenomenon a gazillion times.




DJP said...

Dan: first laugh of the day, thanks.

Wait until you read TWTG; more such "easter eggs" await.


Morris Brooks said...

There may be a peron here who knows a thing or two about the book of Proverbs, but in reference to the attitude emanating from MacDonald there two verses come to mind:

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes then comes dishonor, but with the humble comes wisdom. (not seeing any wisdom here)

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. (to the prideful... beware of where your pride will lead you)

And from that right strawy epistle of James....God is opposed to the proud. (and, yes, that means you prideful Christian)

DJP said...

Let me be clear, for my part: anyone reading both posts fairly has to see that I refrain (unless I have deceived myself) from judging MacDonald's heart. I don't know MacDonald. I don't even know a lot about him, except that good folks expect better of him. I am only focusing on the words, the choices, the implications. I think this is the spirit and intent of the "Judge not" command.

IOW (still trying to be as plain as I can) my argument is not that James MacDonald is a bad man; it's that I don't know how not to see these as bad decisions, and the rationale given as a bad rationale.

Perhaps more can be said, but that's what I'm saying, and I think that's enough to drive this conversation.

Anonymous said...

Dan, Dan, Dan. When will you ever learn? We're supposed to speak the truth in LUUUUUUV. This sounds more like an interrogation! He that is without sin, etc., etc., etc.... zzzzzzz.

Anonymous said...

As Dr. White has stated in his book on the Trinity: "I love the Trinity!"

donsands said...

"I am only focusing on the words, the choices, the implications."

As a fine shepherd does. Gracias me amigo en Christos.

I read Psalm 65 this morn, as I reading through the Psalms, and the words of this song simply lift the soul to heaven. What a wonderful Father we have, who would give His Beloved for unbeloved unloving rebels like us.

"O You who hear prayer,
to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
the holiness of your temple!"
(Psalm 65:2-4 ESV)

Have a great weekend, and a worshipful Lord's day in the house of our Lord, with His redeemed!

rom623rom828 said...

@djp: "I don't know MacDonald. I don't even know a lot about him..."

@Tom Chantry: "I was never aware of an overt prosperity gospel slant in Harvest's teaching."

Thanks DJP, Tom C, Phil J, Frank T for all the various blogs and comments over the past few weeks regarding the Modalism issue associated with The Elephant Room.

However, I think up to this point, you have largely ignored this
statement by MacDonald: "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"

In previous posts, I have included links to Harvest web sites that illustrated what I perceive to be a overt "prosperity gospel" slant at Harvest. Certainly not like the ever flowing stream that comes out of TBN but still there to some extent. Some of your readers have caught on to this as well as evidenced in their comments posted.

The time has come DJP, Tom C, Phil J, Frank T for you to do some further investigation on the prosperity gospel leanings of some of the Elephant room participants, beginning with MacDonald.

Here's another link to get you going:
James MacDonald Casts Vision at Harvest Bible Chapel

Tom Chantry: after all of this, are you still unaware of an "overt prosperity gospel slant in Harvest's teaching"?

Tom Chantry said...


Just to refresh, our conversation from last week, you wrote:

I'm really surprised that the MacDonald/Jakes association hasn't been critiqued more in regards to the "prosperity" message.

Phil J, Frank T, Tom C, DJP -- any concern here?

to which I responded:

I was never aware of an overt prosperity gospel slant in Harvest's teaching. What I would characterize as the outcome of their teaching was a lot of "on-fire-for-God" talk and very little humiliation, repentance, and gratitude for the cross.

Let me make very clear here what it is that I'm saying; I have taken a very public stand against the ministry of HBC. I did so on the basis of many interactions over several years with dozens of kids who attended that church. The constant refrain of criticism was that I was expanding anecdotal evidence into an unjustified mis-characterization of a church. When I responded to you, I was not saying, "You are making an illegitimate accusation." I was saying, "That goes beyond the scope of my own knowledge."

I am not an investigative reporter. I find the quotes and links which you give very disturbing indeed. However, I could never hope to comment on these matters with the same confidence as I did in my initial letter.

My contention was (and is) that HBC is busy inculcating its kids with something other than the gospel. Consequently I wonder how great a priority gospel is in the church. I know my observation is accurate, and I believe the question about priorities is both legitimate and also very telling for the current controversy.

Beyond that, I said this (to you last week):

the whole model for Harvest is more business oriented than church oriented. Sooner or later profits stagnate and growth becomes problematic, given that growth is achieved through capital investment. I don't know how you run a church that way without becoming manipulative about giving.

That is not an accusation on my part so much as an expression of concern, but understand, when a church consistently teaches its people something other than the gospel, and when its leadership then blurs the lines of gospel matters such as the nature of God, the nature of gospel communication (Dan's point Tuesday), and the nature of repentance (Dan's point today), and when its response to criticism of these actions is anger and defensiveness, does it have any right to outrage when it is accused of other wrongs? I think not.

Nevertheless, Dan's point Tuesday and Thursday is a good one. Let's stick to what we are absolutely certain of, because it is enough. Dan's two arguments this week are enough to strip the Elephant Room of all credibility - even if nothing more were asserted or proven. And these arguments assume the truthfulness and good intentions of James MacDonald!!!

I understand your concerns, and believe me, you have put them on my radar, but no, I am not going to personally give a lot of time to investigating Harvest's mishandling of the money issue. Isn't it enough that I have made the argument that the place is a trainwreck when it comes to gospel proclamation? Do I really need to say more?

Likewise, try to appreciate what Dan is doing here: he's toppling every argument in favor of the ER by accepting their premises and demonstrating that they still don't amount to any sort of credible defense. Does he really need to say more?

Anonymous said...

It has been asked why there are now no HBC peeps commenting when so many commented on the open letter to James MacDonald.

I think that the number of Harvest Bible Chapel pastors who commented on Tom Chantry's open letter compared to the lack of them on these two posts has to do with the fact that Dan is asking good questions without drawing wide conclusions ... well done Dan.

Tom's letter (and this is no complaint of Tom on the whole ... his comments are typically great) was a critique of a ministry based on a handfull of kids.

And now again, Tom jumps to "a train wreck" when describing the ministry of HBC and opens up again where his letter was off base. You can't make sweeping generalizations based on such a small percentage of a church's youth. I have heard countless testimonies at many baptisms at HBC where the youth absolutely nail the gospel ...

Tom also showed a lack of pastoral care in doing absolutely nothing about the issue during the time he had connection with the church ... which greatly lessens the strength of his "concern".

So there is a gaping difference between the two posts which more than likely leads to the gaping difference in those who respond.

Rhology said...

Wait until you read TWTG; more such "easter eggs" await

I'm a witness. "Frozen meat chub" alone has so far, by my count, made 2 appearances.

Aaron said...

I haven't been by in a couple days and it's probably a good thing. I wouldn't have been nearly as cordial as Chantry. DJP probably would have had to moderate my posts.

BTW, was I the only one who noticed OSO's return to this blog just a few days ago? It was on Frank's Occupy movement post.

DJP said...

Update: assuming that Trevin Wax's report is accurate, it doesn't appear that any of these considerations had the least impact on the session. I could wish that someone with influence would have pressed these thoughts home effectively.

C. T. Bennett said...

These two prescient posts sensitized listening to ER2 for anyone who read them.

I know the following is an over-simplification, but I think it is a somewhat realistic assessment. I worked in mergers and acquisitions consulting for quite a while. Most of these don't turn out as planned. But they are carried out in exactly the way that this process has been conducted. Very senior and influential leaders on both sides script their messages, make pretty significant organizational decisions (and some personal concessions) and then use themselves as the shills for the new organization via media in a neutral setting (not in either legacy turf).

This is not a doctrinal or theological discussion among these men and has not been from the beginning. It is an organizational decision that is being "sold" to the various stakeholders who can impact the future success of this new merger. It is almost clinically corporate in approach and execution.

The various hindrances to success (intransigence against change, party spirit, LegacyCo partiotism, etc.) are relabeled with (as the textbooks say) negative characterizations: "personal agendas," "xenophobia," and, as in this case at this point, more potent ones like attributing lack of support to cliques, racism, retaining power, lack of vision, etc.

The objectives from the start (DJPs first post pointing out the disconnect between what is happening vs what is being discussed) was (I believe) purely organizational, the ER2 event the sales job for the NewCo (post merger). No new info showed up, ambiguity was embraced as the safest way to retain both camps in the merger, and no new decisions were reached.

This is so clinically merger-speak that it would be very surprising if consultants were not engaged (again, IMO) to provide council. The doctrinal issues are not really the issues (chasing these is irrelevant to the decision makers here), the decision to hold the event is not the issue, even the event itself is not the issue now -- it is all about accepting the new organizational alliance and demonizing or at least neutralizing centers of opposition.

As in all M&A activities, there is no going back. They pulled the trigger on the NewCo and now they have no (easy) choice (though we always have choices) but to try to get the chips to lie as positively to the cause as possible. It is, like most M&As,unlikely to be successful, but it will, also like M&As, be very costly.