Will the Real Elephant Please Stand Up

As I pondered whether or not to discuss this issue I was (and still am… even after typing this whole thing…) very hesitant.  Why? Because…

First, this is a very hot issue (if you aren’t up to speed on the issue, feel free to read the articles I list below because I will not be setting out all of the details of the predicament here) and some people are very engrained in their position… thus anger and bitterness are likely to spill forth.

Secondly, there has already been a large response to this issue and by people with a much greater influence and understanding of the Bible and its outworking than I.

Interested in the issue?  Look here for just a small portion of it –

D.A. Carson and Tim Keller

Phil Johnson and company

Phil Johnson and Todd Friel (this may be the best and fullest treatment on the issue)

Thabiti Anyabwile

Mark Driscoll defense

Justin Taylor

Anthony Carter

James MacDonald defense of invite to Jakes

MacDonald on criticism

The Elephant Room itself

*Updated Links for “Post-Game” Reviews Below as of 2/15/2012*

Kevin DeYoung

Justin Taylor

Trevin Wax

Thabiti Anyabwile

D.A. Carson and Tim Keller

Therefore, I found this task daunting… yet necessary… why? Because I see in Scripture something contrary to what is happening and desire to explain my positioning in hopes of encouraging others to follow what God calls us to in this matter.  I have been asked multiple times about what I think of the new Elephant Room and thus feel it is a necessary thing to clarify my beliefs (for the guys on my hall, the fellow student in class, and beyond… this is not intended to be some giant blast of James MacDonald and company).  Thus the main intent of this post is not to be an exhaustive survey of the Elephant Room but rather what I personally believe on the matter in a concise (well… somewhat concise…) blog post.  I pray that this does not stir division.  I pray that this would cause others to think through things clearly before endorsing any event.  I pray that this brings up men and women who defend the truth of the Gospel and the outworking’s of it with passion, clarity, correctness, and love.

Disclaimer: I do not write any of the following lightly… this is a serious matter that should be considered carefully… purity of doctrine in major issues should never be sacrificed… Christ and His word trump any of my opinions or feelings…

So what is the big deal then?

Simply?  The Elephant Room.

The Second one that is.  It boils down to the T.D. Jakes issue.  With the final implications of: Attend it or don’t attend it? 

There is one on campus at my school for a mere $20.  No harm, no foul right?  Why not listen to some pastor’s hash out a few divisive issues?

Well, I will attempt to argue briefly against attending it.

And for the record… I own the first Elephant Room and benefited from them (although I felt like they could have done a better job of discussing the issue at hand rather than dancing around each other… but that is beside the point…).  I also never intended on arguing against this.  I desired to simply be silent on the issue and if asked whether I was attending give a simple “no.”  But I feel as though the example set forth is not in line with the words of God – which trumps all authority and as stated previously, have been asked numerous times about the subject and haven’t really had the opportunity to fully explain my reasoning.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

I think the most pointed passage of all (not that there aren’t more… such as Galatians 1:8-9… I just don’t have ample time to delve into the details and implications of other passages in a blog post that is already way too long… I think I passed my 400 word count interest level limit 600 words ago… haha) in light of inviting T.D. Jakes (who is a heretic if you wondered…) to the Elephant Room (apparently a staunch evangelical function) is found in 2 John.  I actually would advocate reading the whole chapter… but here is the main meat that I wanted to get to…

“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christdoes not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting,because the person who gives him a greeting shares in his evil deeds.” – 2 John 9-11 (NET)

This seems pretty pointed to me… no real sidestepping the issue at hand… it says if anyone… and in the Greek that means… “anyone”… so, anyone who does this, you are not even to greet him!  Wow!  Case closed?  Well let’s discuss this a little deeper…

The basic ordeal is this: False teachers were using the kindness of Christians to gain influence among other Christians.  Is that not what is happening with the Elephant Room?  We are providing a kind and gentle platform for a man who is a false teacher (modalism, prosperity gospel, and beyond)!  This could be detrimental to many who will be watching.  This could easily give Jakes and company ammunition to fire back at the conservative evangelical wing, thus having the ability to say that some of their “figure heads” (MacDonald, Driscoll, etc.) did not shut him up or fully correct him and thus Jakes and company must be correct… or at least still worthy of listening to and learning from. MacDonald and company, whether they agree with his theology or not, are giving the impression that they believe he is a brother in Christ and should be treated as such (which is amazing to think if you hear the way they rip on him in the first Elephant Room).  Don’t get me wrong, I considered attending the event myself.  Mark Dever, one of the most solid pastors I know, was going to attend… but then Jakes was added to the list… and I do not feel comfortable endorsing a heretic in any way, shape, or form… even by simply paying $20 to attend an event where they discuss certain issues.  Therefore I chose the route of Mark Dever (whom I greatly respect… and respect even more for leaving the event once Jakes was announced); back out of the event and leave it alone.

Here are some more notes on the passage at hand (Thanks, NET Bible footnotes)

Do not give him any greeting does not mean to insult the person. It means “do not greet the person as a fellow Christian” (which is impossible anyway since the opponents are not genuine believers in the author’s opinion).

Shares in his evil deeds. Giving a public greeting could be understood by an onlooker to suggest agreement with the (false) teaching of the opponents and is thus prohibited by John.

This seems like an open and shut case to not endorse or attend the event, to me, in light of what Scripture teaches.  Not in light of my opinion or feelings.

Thus, I cannot support a function that promotes Jakes as a brother when he clearly rejects evangelical theology (which I believe is correct).  The place to confront is not in front of people who could be confused by this but rather in private.

At the end of the day, I will not shun you or look down on you for supporting or even attending the Elephant Room.  But I for one will not support or attend this event because I believe Scripture teaches this to be flat out wrong.  There is no real “win” for this event.  Think about it.  Jakes has clearly taught things contrary to that of Scripture.  Men of God have called him on it.  He has not changed.  Why would he waste his time and platform by attending an event where no one agrees with him and they simply plan on attacking him in order to force him to recant of his beliefs?  This makes no sense for a wolf… unless of course the wolf sees even the slightest opportunity to advance false doctrine and his platform.

I will close with a few comments from Thabiti Anyabwile and Anthony Carter on the issue (statements from the links I posted above):

“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.” – Thabiti Anyabwile

 “This invitation gives a platform to a heretic.” – Thabiti Anyabwile

 “They desire a tribe that “holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity”.  I like that. However, last I checked, the Trinity was an essential tenet of the faith, and unless someone has moved the goal post since I last looked, it still is.” – Anthony Carter


What do you think? Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Maybe this should have been one of the topics on the last Elephant Room……. because this seems to be the REAL elephant in the room. HA!


One thought on “Will the Real Elephant Please Stand Up

  1. Gary Steffaniak says:

    I fully agree that we, as Church leaders, are held responsible for guarding the gate of biblical doctrine — which requires us to be careful, not careless, in who we link up with and who we invite to teach our people. However, I think the The Elephant Room is a different animal than the church (pardon the pun!). It’s very purpose is to discuss differences.

    James McDonald asserts: “I believe modalism is unbiblical and clearly outside confessionalism, but I do not believe it represents Bishop T.D. Jakes’ current thinking.”

    Personally, I am not a T.D. Jakes fan. I would not invite Jakes to speak at my church, and I would not promote his books, but … I believe that The Elephant Room is an acceptable environment to give Jakes an opportunity to explain himself – as long as it is clearly communicated that modalism is not biblical, and there is no agreement on this issue if Jakes actually believes this.

    If the Elephant Room were being held in my area, and T.D. Jakes was invited to the table, if it only cost me $20, and my calendar was clear, I’d probably attend.

    I do really appreciate your passion, Jordan, and your commitment to Scripture and holding firmly to its precepts, and your unyielding determination to form your life by it. You presented a very thought provoking post.

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