Many of you reading this post will, no doubt, have heard some of the controversy of the recent inclusion of Reverend T.D. Jakes in the ER2 (Elephant Room 2) round table discussion. In layman”s terms, the ER concept is to gather together “like-minded” pastors who agree to core theological teaching but may exercise a Philosophy of Ministry in some differing forms. To that end some of the discussions and the individual pastors involved have been helpful and bring clarity as to why they do what they do, whether one agrees or not. In one episode Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, David Platt and a few other pastor debate the growing trend of the “multi-campus church” where one pastor preaches (i.e. Driscoll) and his sermon is seen live in various locations around the country and potentially the world. It was helpful to hear the rational articulated even when I may disagree.
Now with the second season of “The Elephant Room” the inclusion of T.D. Jakes has understandabley sparked some controversy among Evangelicals, in particular the Young Reformed crowd of The Gospel Coalition and those who are uniting around a robust Gospel that is entrenched in a more Reformed Soteriology. Now the reason I say “understandably” with regard to T.D. Jakes inclusion is that his preaching is clearly in the “Prosperity Gospel” camp and his theology as a Oneness Pentecostal is to deny the existence of the Trinity, embracing the heresy of Modalism, the belief that God has historically existed in three “manifestations” (God, then Christ, and now the Holy Spirit).
Much has been blogged and discussed on both sides of the spectrum when it was first announced that T.D. Jakes would participate and the discussion continues. Now, at first a person may be thinking, “Why is it that Christians are always fighting among themselves over such insignificant things?” I understand what it may appear to be, but the reality is that the issues before us are historical, theological and have lasting implications on what the Gospel is as well as why we do what we do a God’s people. So, the pursuit of clarity and precision around these topics is extremely necessary for the health of the preached Gospel, the Body of Christ as well as our own personal growth toward Christlikeness.
So, below are some articles written by faithful brothers that address the importance of the issues at hand as well as counsel as to how we approach our significant and serious differences in a way that is grounded in Scripture as well as glorifies God.
Voddie Baucham, an African American Pastor who was invited to participate in the ER2 shares why he chose to back out of participating.
Justin Taylor summarizes his thoughts on the ER2 discussion at his Between Two Worlds blog.
Kevin DeYoung shares some helpful perspectives on how we can sort through the issue in an honorable and godly fashion.
Finally, D.A. Carson and Tim Keller co-authored a thorough response, spending ample time dealing with the historical implications of Trinitarian Theology as well as bringing clarity to the many issues such a discussion. I especially appreciated their second point, “Biblicism One and Biblicism Two” which clarifies how simply appealing to the Scriptures is not sufficient and can undermine theology and Ministry Philosophy if that appeal is void of a careful and faithful commitment to exegesis.
As much as I don’t enjoy controversy among brothers and sisters in Christ, it is often that through such discussions we have the opportunity to clarify and firm up our understanding of biblical and theological truth. I think that reading through the above articles has reminded me of the wonder of the Trinity, the hard work of serious believers many hundreds of years ago who recognized the need to be very clear concerning the nature of God, and also the spirit in which we appeal to our brothers and sisters under the umbrella of Christendom who may or may not be part of the true body of Christ.