Fractures in the Gospel Coalition?

MacDonald and Driscoll can moderate discussions with anyone they wish.  But we kid ourselves if we think inviting someone so recalcitrant about fundamental biblical teaching as Jakes can result in anything positive.  MacDonald, Driscoll and others will not be the first to privately and publicly exhort, admonish, instruct and challenge Jakes on this vital issue–to no avail thus far.  And we kid ourselves if we think the Elephant Room invitation itself isn’t an endorsement of sorts.  

We can’t downplay the associations by calling for people to suspend judgment and responding ad hominem against “discernment bloggers.”  We certainly can’t do that while simultaneously pointing to our association at The Gospel Coalition as a happy certification of orthodoxy and good practice, as Driscoll seems to do here with MacDonald.

Collateral Damage in the Invitation of T.D. Jakes to the Elephant Room

Also:

This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren.  This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.  This invitation gives a platform to a heretic.  It’s imprudent and counter-productive–witness already the Trinity-related confusions and obfuscations happening since announcing Jakes’ involvement.

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There are 25 Comments

Shaynus's picture

That's the best articulation of fundamentalist attitudes about associations by an evangelical I've ever read. Thabiti was my pastor for a few years. Love that guy.

Greg Long's picture

I wonder if Dever feels the same way?

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Shaynus's picture

Probably.

Jay's picture

Does anyone know if there's a list of doctrinal positions that have to be held in order to belong to the Gospel Coalition? I had thought there was, but I can't seem to find it.

I'm glad to see Anyabwile articulating a clear call for the repudiation of TD Jakes, but I'm beginning to wonder if they've recreated the fundamentalist movement's problems in saying "We're going to be together for the Gospel" (like the '20's stand against modernism), but having not defined what those doctrines (the Gospel) really are.

If it were just guys like Driscoll and Wilson with others, that's one thing. But now it seems like they're just pulling in big names into events for the sake of having big name guys speak, and that's alarming.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Shaynus's picture

Jay,

Actually they have defined the gospel for TGC. All members must sign this statement of faith.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/about/foundation-documents/confessional/

I too see a lot of parallels between this controversy and past fundamentalist controversies. It will be interesting how this plays out.

I wouldn't worry that too many in the Gospel Coalition would ever invite TD Jakes or other "big names" to their churches. My guess is that MacDonald is in the minority among TGC members and committee members.

Shayne

Don Johnson's picture

Shayne,

I know how I'd answer, but what do you think?

My guess is the talk will die down and nothing will happen.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Shayne,

I know how I'd answer, but what do you think?

My guess is the talk will die down and nothing will happen.

Don,

Up to this point, the Elephant Room 2 discussion hasn't happened. So I think I'll wait and see how it plays out to really answer, and the Elephant Room 2 isn't scheduled to happen until January, so it could be some time. I'm sure there are a lot of background discussions happening right now, as Thabiti indicated in some of his comments on his blog article. I don't think this is a straight-up case of automatic and swift separation given the nature of the Elephant Room as a place for intense disagreement.

Shayne

Jay's picture

My hope is that something happens, but I'm in 'wait and see' mode rather than 'nothing will happen' mode. I do think that it's very, very interesting that the members are coming out and saying something publically against each other and that this is now the second or third time this year that we're seeing some kind of faultlines forming in the TGC or in (broader) Evangelicalism over major doctrinal issues within their movement.

We've had:
MacArthur v. Driscoll and the YRR
Several CEs v. Rob Bell
TGC members v. James MacDonald & TD Jakes

Don't get me wrong - I'm not hoping there's a civil war. I'm simply interested in how this plays out with a movement that doesn't typically wave the cape of separation at every bull in the ring.

I think the knock on YF's and CE's has been that they don't separate sufficiently, and I think we're seeing a change and a willingness to fight there that doesn't have to be spearheaded by the same guy or org. all the time, which is a good sign.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Shaynus's picture

It looks like the wait and see attitude is taken by Thabiti as well:

Quote:
What should MacDonald do now? I’m not even sure. There’s an argument to be made for confrontation. There’s also an argument to be made for separation. If Jakes could be won over and would publicly teach orthodox Trinitarian views, that could be huge. If the discussion turns warm and fuzzy, “aren’t we all brothers in the end,” the damage could be irreparable–to everyone.

Jay's picture

Phil Johnson weighs in http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/10/evangelical-freakshow.html on this and the Evangelical mess in general (emphasis his)....

Quote:
Carl Trueman has for ages been writing eloquent critiques about American evangelicalism, pointing out the folly of our big-conference market-driven culture, and the cults of celebrity we have spawned and now revel in. The past two weeks have furnished plenty of proof that his concerns are not utterly far-fetched, and it's no surprise that Dr. Trueman himself has noticed this.

If you haven't read " http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/10/the-confidence-men.php ]Fixing the Indemnity ," go read it. Trueman is one of those rare, candid voices of relentless sanity in the madhouse of the religious blogosphere. Here's a sample:

Quote:
"To be blunt: why so much noise about Jakes when Furtick and Noble have already apparently been established in this Elephant Room circle for some time? Frankly, they hardly seem any closer to Paul's description of what an elder or overseer should be than the Bishop. Why all the hoohah and handwringing now about TD?"

Exactly!


So my question is - who are Furtick and Noble?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Don Johnson's picture

This has been the pattern before amongst evangelicals. Consider Lindsell and The Battle for the Bible. Did it create any real divides in evangelicalism? Don't think so. Their default reaction is "wait and see". I agree that is what Thabiti is saying. He is not willing to follow the logic of his own clearly stated objections.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Phil Johnson weighs in http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/10/evangelical-freakshow.html on this and the Evangelical mess in general (emphasis his)....

Quote:
Carl Trueman has for ages been writing eloquent critiques about American evangelicalism, pointing out the folly of our big-conference market-driven culture, and the cults of celebrity we have spawned and now revel in. The past two weeks have furnished plenty of proof that his concerns are not utterly far-fetched, and it's no surprise that Dr. Trueman himself has noticed this.

If you haven't read " http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/10/the-confidence-men.php ]Fixing the Indemnity ," go read it. Trueman is one of those rare, candid voices of relentless sanity in the madhouse of the religious blogosphere. Here's a sample:

Quote:
"To be blunt: why so much noise about Jakes when Furtick and Noble have already apparently been established in this Elephant Room circle for some time? Frankly, they hardly seem any closer to Paul's description of what an elder or overseer should be than the Bishop. Why all the hoohah and handwringing now about TD?"

Exactly!


So my question is - who are Furtick and Noble?

For Furtick's interaction with Matt Chandler in Elephant Room 1, try watching this:

http://www.benarment.com/history_in_the_making/2011/04/furtick-v-chandle...

Furtick is a pastor in Charlotte I believe, and Noble is a mega church pastor in Anderson, SC. Think of Noble as the worst personality flaws of Driscoll multiplied by two without a theological seatbelt.

Greg Long's picture

And Furtick is as bad as if not worse than Noble. Furtick has had sermon series entitled "Visionary Love, Dream Sex", "Bringing Sexy Back", and "All I Need to Know about Elevation Church I Learned from 80s Rock".

If IFBx = Independent Fundamental Baptists (extreme), then these guys are SSCx = Seeker-Sensitive Church (extreme).

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Lee's picture

Paul's applicable counsel to the original young evangelist/pastor is found in II Tim. 2:22--"Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

A significant issue with the CE's and YRR's is that they effectively ignore this maxim. The cultural enamorization with apparent success, leadership, and a celebrity-ish profile (youthful lusts all) is hardly being fled from, and the following of righteousness, etc., will be quick to follow. As this article states we are already seeing the inclusion of those who do not "call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

There is only one meaning to the word "flee," and NT Scripture only implores its' use 4 times. Sooner or later for a movement to remain pure and effective in every way, the matters we as individuals and assemblies are commanded to flee (immorality, "idolatry," love of money, and "youthful lusts") are going to have to be approached seriously. I am not seeing that in evangelicalism as a whole, and this situation in particular.

Call me cynical, but I am not expecting much more than smoke from this little brouhaha. Sounds like Jakes is spewing heresy. He has already received his first and second admonition. Let's see how interested these guys are in rejecting him, as per Scripture command.

Lee

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Greg Long wrote:
And Furtick is as bad as if not worse than Noble. Furtick has had sermon series entitled "Visionary Love, Dream Sex", "Bringing Sexy Back", and "All I Need to Know about Elevation Church I Learned from 80s Rock".

If IFBx = Independent Fundamental Baptists (extreme), then these guys are SSCx = Seeker-Sensitive Church (extreme).

Greg,

If this keeps up, I am cutting off all support!! :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile:

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Jay's picture

Shaynus, that's a great catch. Thanks for sharing.

Anyabwile has made some more interesting comments in the discussion. Here:

10-01, 10:15 AM wrote:
It’s an honor for me to be a part of the Coalition. I’m often asking myself and sometimes others, “Why am I here?” I don’t feel any sense of entitlement to be a part, just gratitude to my Maker and my brethren for the opportunity to stand together in the Good News of our Savior King.

So, “No,” that is not a “vague threat.” I don’t threaten people, vague or otherwise. I’m speaking plainly.

The question of association with heretics raises the question about the viability of the coalition. Any coalition has to be held together either by what it’s for or by what it’s against. When that uniting force becomes ineffective you can no longer maintain the coalition. In our (TGC) case, we’re a coalition built upon and for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We all recognize differences on secondary matters, including ministry strategy matters. That’s not what our coalition is built upon. It’s built upon the gospel we all believe and cherish and are sworn to advance and protect. But in this case, we have a coalition member in a non-coalition activity appearing to embrace someone who denies the gospel–both on the issue of the Trinity and in his preaching of another gospel, the ‘prosperity gospel.’

That begs the question: How do members of The Gospel Coalition associate, endorse, “coalesce” beyond the official Coalition meetings themselves? What is our accountability to one another beyond TGC events, if any?

10-01, 10:50 AM wrote:
Debating an atheist on Nightline is another matter altogether. That’s contending for the faith in a context where the gospel needs to be inserted. Elephant room, until the revised description was published, was billed as a conversation between Christian brothers. That’s world’s apart from Paul on Mars Hill, Driscoll on Nightline, or any of us taking the gospel where it is not known.

Jakes surely is “more of a danger” because of the pseudo-gospel he maintains. And that’s why you don’t give him a bigger platform. You challenge privately, as many have been doing for years. Publicly, until there’s clear repentance and reformation in his teaching, you rebuke with all seriousness and you draw a distinction so no one is confused about the error.

10-02, 12:24 PM wrote:
One could ask, as Bradley does: Why not invite a White teacher from the Oneness background? It’s a good question. I think, though, at first blush, the answer isn’t in the ethnic/racial dynamics at play. If you read the bios for the invitees, with the exception of Mark Dever’s, most every bio lauds measures of outward “success.” Things like: “Church grew from 13 to 13,000.” “Pastors the 30,000 strong church.” Etc. So, Jakes is a draw because Jakes has a large audience. These are supposed to be successful pastors. It may be that a pragmatic, popularity-driven and numbers-focused perspective influenced the invitation.

10-02, 7:28 AM wrote:
No one has “publicly lynched” Jakes in this discussion. His teaching is a matter of public record. Nor has anyone used “quick handed judgment” or hasty rebuke in this case. I pasted in the article the section I wrote on Jakes back in 2007. I’ve been at this for at least those four years. There are many others with much greater access to Jakes who have tried privately to address him for far longer than those four years. There’s nothing “rushed” about this. Nor is there anything unfair about addressing it publicly. Here’s the rule of thumb in academic and other circles: If a person holds a view privately, you don’t publicly criticize or write about it. If the person teaches the view publicly, you may legitimately engage the debate publicly. Jakes’ teaching is public. And in accord with 1 Timothy 5, an elder or pastor in sin must be rebuked publicly. Engaging this issue in this way is consistent with the mandates of God’s holy word.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Shaynus's picture

I've read the recent "Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism," and this is an interesting test case of how closely the ideology of conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists actually is. Thabiti is talking like a fundamentalist here, and I'm proud of his courage and wisdom.

BTW, I didn't make the "catch" without some help. Smile

Don Johnson's picture

Shaynus wrote:
Greg Long wrote:
I wonder if Dever feels the same way?

Looks like Dever is out of The Elephant Room. He is no longer listed as a speaker.

And now a public statement? It would seem to be in order due to the widespread publicity.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Greg Long's picture

Good for Dever. It doesn't surprise me. I'm still disappointed in MacDonald, though.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Shaynus's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Shaynus wrote:
Greg Long wrote:
I wonder if Dever feels the same way?

Looks like Dever is out of The Elephant Room. He is no longer listed as a speaker.

And now a public statement? It would seem to be in order due to the widespread publicity.

I kind of agree Don, but then he didn't promote his own role in the Elephant Room. I would say, while it would be good if Dever said something, it also forces MacDonald to explain a sudden disappearance of a guest. I'm sure he'll say something at some point, but he doesn't really have a regular blog and it just isn't his style to say everything about everything.

DavidO's picture

That's carefully worded.

Shaynus's picture

No kidding David. You think he's going to say that Jakes isn't coming, but then. . . he doesn't. Jakes is still coming, but just as the one lone heretic? Creepy strange.

Jay's picture

I wasn't impressed with the statement. Here's the bullet point version of his post:

*I've taken a lot of criticism for this.
*A lot of people have given me a lot of feedback, and I was overly harsh in the way I spoke.
*I wasn't clear enough in explaining what was going on, but we've decided to expand our format to just about anyone who will sharpen iron.
*We are not neglecting African Americans in our quest for sharpening, but are very committed to engaging them in our presentations.
*Thank you for the feedback and criticism; we're going to take some of it to heart.
*Please wait until the Elephant Room is over before you start saying that this will be of no value.

You know what he didn't talk about? All the main points of the criticism that he's received and claims to acknowledge!

*TD Jakes is a modalist, or at the very least preaches a modalist message.
*that the thrust of the complaints about this invite has nothing to do with Jakes' skin color or some kind of ancillary doctrine - the Trinity is a critical doctrine to a proper understanding of God. If Jakes is a modalist, he's a heretic.
*If he is a heretic, then he should have never been invited in the first place.
*The whole idea of the Elephant Room is for believers to sharpen believers, not to engage with anyone who will 'sharpen one another'.
*That Mark Dever has already dropped out, and that other prominent participants and Cons. Evangelicals are telling him that Jakes is a heretic.

So color me unimpressed with what I see as damage control, not an acknowledgement of wrongdoing or even an error in judgment.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells