Monday, February 27, 2012

Does Rick Warren Worship Allah? (Part 1)

The universe of Rick Warren is a bizarre place. What he says continually morphs into the demographic of his audience. When is Rick going to learn that he can't be everybody's friend forever and he cannot continually avoid coming clean with what he really believes. I am reminded of an email conversation that transpired between myself (CB) and a Danish apologist (DA) a few years ago. The conversation went something like this:

DA: I am really upset that you are calling Rick Warren a heretic!!!!

CB: I didn't call Rick Warren a heretic.

DA: Good, I'm really pleased to hear that.

CB: Rick Warren is worse than a heretic!

DA: AAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!! What could be worse than a heretic????

CB: A chameleon - that's what!

And many were shocked in the last week to see that this chameleon has not yet exhausted all possible colors! I'll leave it to my good friend Tony Miano (aka Lawman) to take it from here because I cannot cover this breaking story any better.

Chameleon: Any of various tropical Old World lizards of the family Chamaeleonidae, characterized by their ability to change color; A changeable or inconstant person.

A friend of mine used to raise chameleons. They are fascinating and fragile creatures. They are slow-moving, with a lightening-fast tongue. The tongue of this little creature is a deadly weapon, which hits its prey with pin-point accuracy with a grip that most of its victims cannot escape.

It was always fascinating to watch my friend's chameleons change colors based on their mood or changes in their environment or a perceived danger.

Today, I read an Orange County Register article titled Rick Warren Builds Bridge to Muslims.

The article, which can be read in its entirety at the above link, begins this way:

The Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest and one of America's most influential Christian leaders, has embarked on an effort to heal divisions between evangelical Christians and Muslims by partnering with Southern California mosques and proposing a set of theological principles that includes acknowledging that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

The effort, informally dubbed King's Way, caps years of outreach between Warren and Muslims. Warren has broken Ramadan fasts at a Mission Viejo mosque, met Muslim leaders abroad and addressed 8,000 Muslims at a national convention in Washington D.C.

Saddleback worshippers have invited Muslims to Christmas dinner and played interfaith soccer at a picnic in Irvine attended by more than 300 people. (The game pitted pastors and imams against teens from both faiths. The teens won.)

The effort by a prominent Christian leader to bridge what polls show is a deep rift between Muslims and evangelical Christians culminated in December at a dinner at Saddleback attended by 300 Muslims and members of Saddleback's congregation.

At the dinner, Abraham Meulenberg, a Saddleback pastor in charge of interfaith outreach, and Jihad Turk, director of religious affairs at a mosque in Los Angeles, introduced King's Way as "a path to end the 1,400 years of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians."

The men presented a document they co-authored outlining points of agreement between Islam and Christianity. The document affirms that Christians and Muslims believe in "one God" and share two central commandments: "love of God" and "love of neighbor." The document also commits both faiths to three goals: Making friends with one another, building peace and working on shared social service projects. The document quotes side-by-side verses from the Bible and the Koran to illustrate its claims.

"We agreed we wouldn't try to evangelize each other," said Turk. "We'd witness to each other but it would be out of 'Love Thy Neighbor,' not focused on conversion."

Saddleback representatives declined to make Warren available for comment. Tom Holladay, associate senior pastor at Saddleback, said the outreach to Muslims is part of Saddleback's PEACE Plan, a wide-ranging effort to solve major world problems by mobilizing governments, businesses and faith communities.

"This is us serving our own community with Muslims here in Orange County," said Holladay. "We realize we don't agree about everything and we're very open about that . . . You just recognize the differences and recognize the points where you can work together."

About fourteen hours prior to the writing of this blog post, Rick Warren posted the following comment to the online version of the O.C. Register article:

I deeply love my Muslim neighbors but this article contains multiple errors - factually and theologically that neither our dear friends in the Muslim Community nor the Christians at Saddleback Church would agree with.

And about an hour before the writing of this blog post, Jim Hinch, the author of the O.C. Register article, posted the following response to Rick Warren's comment:

Hi, I'm the reporter who wrote this story. I'm sorry Rev. Warren feels the story contains errors but the story was based on interviews and documents and it was thoroughly fact-checked. I discussed all of its major points with Tom Holladay, an associate senior pastor at Saddleback. I checked with other sources quoted in the story this morning and they said they did not see any errors. While reporting this story I asked to speak to Rev. Warren directly but was told he was too busy for an interview. If any facts need to be corrected I hope representatives from Saddleback will get in touch with me. I'm glad to see so many people reading and responding to the story. Thanks for your comments!

I've watched interviews of and read works and comments by Rick Warren for two decades. And what I've discovered over that course of time is that Rick Warren is a chameleon. And I believe he is one of the most dangerous men in Christendom, today.

Plastic pastors transparent enough to see through, like Joel Osteen, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Modalistic moguls of the painfully-obvious-money-hungry prosperity movement, like T.D. Jakes, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. Self-serving sorcerers of the false signs and wonders movement, like Todd Bentley, are not as dangerous as Rick Warren. No. None of the before-mentioned personalities or groups are all that dangerous because what you see is what you get. They all lack the ability to change their appearance to accommodate a change in environment. They lack the chameleon-like ability, the self-serving ability, to say what needs to be said in order to keep people in every camp liking them.

Rick Warren is a chameleon. Over the years he has shown, time and time again, his uncanny ability to say what will please his audience at the moment--secular news anchors and pundits, the masses at the request of a president who knows neither the Christ nor His Word, the leaders of false religions around the world, and sadly, even well-respected leaders of the real Christian community.

Undoubtedly, I will receive criticism for writing this blog post. There will be those who will call me judgmental. To them I say, "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment" (John 7:24).

There will be those who will say that I am being unfair to Warren because he is on a mission of peace. To them I say, "They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14 and Jeremiah 8:11).

There will be those who will say that I shouldn't write this way about such a respected leader in the Christian world. To them I say, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" (Acts 17:11). And, if they do not find this compelling enough to question Warren, then to them I say, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5).

There will be those who will say that I am not being loving toward Rick Warren. To them I say, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). I love Jesus more.

The dictionary has this to say regarding the history of the word "chameleon."

The words referring to the animal chameleon and the plant chamomile are related etymologically by a reference to the place one would expect to find them, that is, on the ground. The first part of both words goes back to the Greek form khamai, meaning "on the ground." What is found on the ground in each case is quite different, of course. The khamailen is a "lion [len] on the ground."

In Rick Warren the Church has a lion on the ground.

I believe Rick Warren is an enemy of Christ and His Gospel. Anyone who is an enemy of Christ and His Gospel is my enemy. The Word of God commands me to love my enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). And that's what I will do.

The most loving thing I can do for Rick Warren is to pray for him and call him to repentance.

I call Rick Warren to repent of all-too-often being an appeaser to the world, instead of being a true ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

I call Rick Warren to repent of his expert ambiguity when speaking the truth in love is the only speech that will please God (Ephesians 4:14-16).

I call Rick Warren to repent of his unbiblical ecumenism and pluralism. I call Rick Warren to repent of courting the false religion and the false god of Islam, for to enter into any spiritual enterprise with those who are outside of Christ is an abomination to God (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Rick Warren, it is time for you to stop being a lion on the ground.

You are in my prayers.

Well said Tony Miano! Thank you for serving the body of Christ with such clarity and faithfulness to Scripture.

Go On To Part 2

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rap Artist Lecture For Evangelephants - ER Saga (Part 6)

Rap artist, Jovan Mackenzy, is a breath of fresh air who understands the clear biblical distinction between the church's responsibility to deal with wolves (or elephants) that are inside the camp, and God's promise to deal with those who are in the world. We can protest and boycott and rail against the policies and practices of the sinful world that surrounds us. I am not against that. But should we be surprised when pagans act like pagans - when those who are dead in sin show no signs of life in Christ? If we can get outraged over the policies of pagan politicians, how many times greater should our anger be against those who preach false gospels that lead people to hell?

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13)

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)

Thou shalt not criticize false teachers but shalt build friendships with them and partner with them. (Megaliah 3:17)

Go On To Part 7
Go Back To Part 5
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, February 20, 2012

Coming Soon - Monumental: A Search For America's National Treasure

In July of 2010 I had the privilege of driving Kirk Cameron and his film crew around Holland during the European leg of their filming schedule for Kirk's new movie project called Monumental. Amidst the many goals that Kirk had in making this movie, it was readily apparent that telling the truth about history and having that impact upon how we live our lives today, lay at the epicenter of this project. I am looking forward to the release of this movie, not only to see if designated drivers in foreign countries are included in the credits, but also because Kirk's journey parallels mine in many ways.

Ray Comfort once said that "the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history!" And when I grew up I had zero interest in history. I didn’t care one bit – and my father was a history teacher! But years after God saved me I really discovered and embraced the doctrine of God’s Sovereignty. And that is when I began to see that history is His story. God has been at work all through history working all things together for His glory and when we start to see God’s Sovereign hand at work history becomes exciting. And a failure to learn history becomes deadly.

The book of Judges is one of the saddest darkest books in the Bible. I can remember the first time I read Judges and it was very distressing for me because some of the stories are so evil it is shocking. I also read Judges the way I approach any story (actually I wasn’t a reader so I should say movie) and I always understood stories as something that has a good guy and a bad guy – and here I was reading Judges as a new Christian trying to figure out who exactly are the good guys in this book? But the key to understanding the book of Judges is that there aren’t really any good guys. The phrase that appears over and over again in Judges is the same as the verse that closes the whole book:

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

But what does the book of Judges have to do with not learning history? Go back to chapter 2 verse 7 and we will see exactly where things went wrong:

And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:7-10)

The people of Israel did not know what happened in their past. They knew nothing of God’s mighty works in saving Israel out of Egypt. They did not teach history, they did not learn His Story. We need to be a people and a church that knows our history, especially in response to the aggressive historical revisionism going on right now determined to secularize and sanitize a history rich with Divine Providence.

One of the most tragic modern examples of this is due to the concerted attempts of American secularists to bury all facets of the role Christianity played in the founding and prosperity of the USA, along with a gross perversion of the original meaning and intent of "separation of church and state". This is not an attempt to make some outlandish claim that everyone involved in America's heritage was a born again Christian. But neither should we deny that a lot of the pioneers and founders were Christians whose theological convictions played a major role in the establishment of the "New World".

So here's the trailer . . .

Find out details on when to see it, where to see it, and how to get your tickets by clicking here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

When Only Undiscerning Elephants Are Allowed In The Room - ER Saga (Part 5)

Elephant Room 2 - the Sequel - was announced with a lot of macho bravado and swagger. It was promoted like a take no prisoners theological cage fight. James MacDonald's PR machine heralded that:

The rules are simple:

This was supposed to be a place where theologians can come together and talk manfully face to face about their differences . . . or so they said!!! It would seem that the only stipulation is that all differences must be approved by the "Elephant People" before you can enter the room! Chris Rosebrough, who has been highly critical of this conference, paid to attend the conference and drove all the way from Indianapolis to Chicago to find a "welcoming committee" waiting for him at the registration table:

Today, I traveled to Rowling Meadows, Illinois to attend James MacDonald's Elephant Room 2 conversations. Upon entering the event venue I was met by a security guard and Jim Rowan, an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel and was promptly told that my entrance to the Elephant Room had been revoked and that I had to immediately leave the premises or I would be arrested for trespassing.

This is truly ODD, because the Purpose Statement of the Elephant Room states:

"The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently."

So, I ask the very logical question how is threatening to arrest me if I didn't leave the premises of the Elephant Room an example of NOT "crouching behind walls of disagreement"?

Seems to me that the Elephant in the Room is the fact that the ONLY voices that James MacDonald and company are willing to hear are those that agree with them.

I questioned James MacDonald's phrase "ringside seat" when I realized that this prize fight had already been pre-arranged and scripted. But then I remembered WWF wrestling and have to concede that "ringside seat" is perhaps appropriate after all. Here is Chris Rosebrough talking about what went down on his radio show:

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

James White Knows An Elephant When He Sees One - ER Saga (Part 4)

In the previous post we saw the transcript of the hotly debated and much anticipated discussion that took place between James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and TD Jakes during the recent Elephant Room 2 conference. On initial impressions, the conversation raised four major questions. Firstly, why were there no questions concerning Jakes' long history of overtly peddling his prosperity Word Faith gospel?
Todd Friel nailed the issue in this video:

Secondly, I am amazed that in a discussion on the Trinity there was no question asked concerning the eternality of Christ. That was a big red flag to even a lightweight theologian like myself. Jakes has a history of being very slippery and evasive when doctrinally questioned on his modalism and an interview like this requires carefully defined and phrased questions. Which raises my third question - why didn't they invite an expert on this issue like James White to question Jakes? This leads to the fourth question - was James MacDonalds promotional spiel "get your ringside seats" an invitation to view some genuine theological combat or to entertain with something as carefully prearranged and orchestrated as WWF wrestling?

Indeed James White suggested (via Twitter) that he could have cleared up the Trinitarian issue in 15 seconds:

Indeed Dr. White received so many questions about the Elephant Room discussion that he discussed it on his radio program. This is worth viewing for the educational value of being properly schooled in a doctrinal matter that is of first importance and has eternal consequences. The only sad part of this video is that it leaves me wishing that James White had been invited to the Elephant in the Room conference. At least he knows how to recognize one!

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, February 10, 2012

Carefully Scripted Elephant Avoidance - ER Saga (Part 3)

It would seem that my theory about the real James MacDonald being abducted by aliens some time last year is not as far fetched as my doubters first thought. Of the multitude of "weird" things James MacDonald has done over the last year or so, perhaps the most alarming was his invitation to TD Jakes to attend his Elephant Room conference where "brothers" discuss their methodological differences. Rather than back down and receive the biblical counsel from his many orthodox friends, MacDonald decided it would be better to redefine the mission statement of the Elephant Room, then redefine what brother means, then redefine Jakes' slippery modalist language, and then resign from The Gospel Coalition. It has been truly amazing to see the lengths James MacDonald (the alien imposter version) will go to to have TD Jakes at his conference. Before the conference MacDonald had promised us that the Elephant Room is a place where "sparks fly", men face up to each other, and don't shy away from disputes . . .

Well, amidst the disappointment, many of us remained intrigued as to how many sparks would appear in flight in the conversation between James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, and TD Jakes. Since I'm not willing to shell out the bucks to buy a copy of the video from Pastor MacDonald, we'll have to settle for a transcript. And even though this format is text rather than video, I think even the untrained eyes might be able to spot an elephant or two. And if the following conversation proves too tedious then make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the post to see how Todd Friel earned his "elephant spotting badge"!

Jakes: My father was Methodist. My mother was Baptist. My father's family was Methodist as far back as I can remember. I was raised in a Baptist church. But I was raised in church but I really didn't have a real committed experience with Christ until my father died. When my father died, I had a real experience with Christ -- a real conversion in Christ, and I had it in a Oneness church.

Driscoll: By Oneness meaning [what]? -- for those who do not know all the theological terms.

Jakes: Well it would be like, how do I explain it? It was not a UPC [United Pentecostal] church, in spite of the blogs. It was not a UPC church, but somewhat similar.

Driscoll: Jesus only, modalism?

Jakes: "Jesus only -- modalism" which is still a theological term. ... But Christians and Christians [who] believe in Jesus Christ, believe He died and rose from the dead, coming back again -- all the same things that you do. Pentecostal Christians by its virtue. But how they described and explained the Godhead in a traditional oneness sense is very, very different from how traditional Trinitarians describe the Gospel. And I was in that church and raised in that church for a number of years. My problem with it as I began to go on and as God began to develop my ministry, I started preaching from that church and from that pulpit and that sort of thing. But I'm also informed by the infiltration from my Baptist experience and my Methodist experience, so I ended up Metha-Bapti-Costal in a way. So I'm kind of like a mixed breed sitting up here, OK? And what I began to find out [is that] it is easy to throw rocks at people that you don't know, but the more you really get to know them and see Christ work in their lives, regardless of their belief system, you begin to try to be a bridge-builder. ... When you try to build bridges between people who've been fighting for hundreds of years -- hundreds of years before you ever even got into the discussion. There is an old adage that says 'he who stands in the middle of the road gets hit by both sides.' So as I began to progress, I began to understand that some of the dogma that I was taught in the Oneness movement was very dogmatic and very narrow and really not the best description of how I now understand the Godhead. I still did not want to switch teams and start throwing rocks back across the street, because much of what we do today is teach people to take sides. But I believe we are called as the Body of Christ to reconcile wherever possible.

MacDonald: Alright, but before we even get into -- and I think what you're leading us into is wise and helpful and it reflects why we're here -- how we relate to people who differ is on subject. Before we even go to that, I'd love to give you an opportunity to just -- like there were some particular Scriptures that began to inform you, you began to move and develop in what you personally believe. I'd like to just hear you articulate that.

Jakes: My struggle after I was ordained and consecrated in the Oneness church was in several passages, sometimes the doctrine fits; sometimes it doesn't. And when the doctrine becomes the primary thing you force it into many places where it doesn't fit. I really at this point in my life don't want to force my theology to fit within my denomination. I am open to hear whatever God is saying. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River, for example, coming up out of the water the Holy Spirit descends like a dove, the Father speaks from heaven -- and we see all three of them on one occasion, or in Genesis "let us make man in our own likeness" or Elohim -- He is the one God who manifest Himself in a plurality of ways. Or what Jesus says, "I am with the Father, and the Father is in me" and understanding -- or attempting to understand. And that began to make me rethink some of my ideas and some of the things that I was taught. I got kind of quiet about it for a while. Because when you are a leader and you are in a position of authority, sometimes you have to back up and ponder for a minute, and really think things through. I began to realize that there are some things that could be said about the Father that could not be said about the Son. There are distinctives between the working of the Holy Spirit and the moving of the Holy Spirit, and the working of the redemptive work of Christ. I'm very comfortable with that. You and I have talked; [Jack] Graham and I have talked; there is very little difference in what I believe and what you believe. But here is where I find the problem: I don't think anything that any of us believes fully describes who God is. And if we would ever humble down to admit that we in our finite minds cannot fully describe an infinite God.

Driscoll: ... We all would agree in the nature of God there is mystery, and it's like a dimmer switch: how much certainty, how much mystery. But within that, Bishop Jakes, for you the issue between Trinitarianism and Modalism at its essence is one God manifesting Himself successively in three ways? Or one God three persons simultaneously existing eternally. ... And I understand, there is some mystery -- for sure. Would you say it's One God manifesting Himself in three ways, or One God in three persons?

Jakes: I believe that neither one of them totally did it for me, but I think the latter one is where I stand today.

Driscoll: One God, three Persons?

Jakes: One God, three Persons. One God, Three Persons, and here is why -- I am not crazy about the word "persons." ... My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except for the ...

Driscoll: The word "manifestation."

Jakes: Manifest instead of persons. Which you describe as modalist, and I describe it as Pauline. Let me show you what I'm saying. When I read 1 Timothy 3:16, I didn't create this. ... "And without controversy," which I think we have been bickering about something that is what Paul describes as a mystery, and I don't think we should do that. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. So God was manifest in the flesh." Now Paul was not a modalist, but he does not think that it is robbery to the divinity of God to say God was manifest in the flesh. And I think maybe it's semantics. But Paul says this before this fight was started. But He also says God "was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached until the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory." Now, when we start talking about that sort of thing, I think that it is important that we realize that there are distinctives between the Father and the working of the Son. The Father didn't bleed, the Father didn't die -- [that happened] only in the person of Jesus Christ. Coming back for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has with us, but only indwells us through the person of the Holy Spirit; we are baptized into the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I don't think any of that is objectionable to any of the three of us.

MacDonald: Not at all.

Jakes: So that is consistent with my belief system. I'm with you. I have been with you. I teach/preach that all the time. There are many people within and outside quote unquote denominations that are labeled Oneness that would describe that the same way. There are some that would not. But when we get to know people by their labels, then comes all the baggage of how we define that label. ... it's almost like the stereotypical ideologies we have about races. We have little ideas about denominations and movements. The reason I applauded what you said earlier about people who have dual affiliations: We are taught in society that if we disagree with any movement, we leave. We sever. Oh, you said something I disagree with we fall out and then we walk away. I still have fellowship, associations, relationship, and positions within and without Trinitarian and Onenness movements, because I believe that until we bridge the gap between our thinking and humble both sides and say, "We are both attempting to describe a God we love, that we serve, and that we have not seen. And that we are viewing Him through the context of the Scriptures, but that with a glass darkly." Why should I fall out and hate and throw names at you when all that I know and understand, be it very orthodox, is still through a glass darkly? And then face to face. None of our books about the Godhead or anything else will be on sale in heaven. You know why? Because we're only authorities down here, with our little kingdoms in this world. I think it's so important that we realize that our God is beyond our intellect. And if you can define Him and completely describe Him and say you are the end-all definition of who God is, then He ceases to be God. Because the reason Paul says it is a mystery, is that we deify the fact that God does things that don't fit our formulas.

Driscoll: Let me jump in here. I want to say a couple of things. Thank you for joining us. You don't have to be there. You were on the cover of Time magazine. You have options of where you go.

MacDonald: This isn't your biggest gig ever? [laughter]

Driscoll: It takes a lot of courage and humility to put yourself in an unscripted situation and to be outside of your normal tribe. And the fact that you showed up to dinner last night, I was shocked. I was like, "T.D. Jakes is coming to dinner?" I loved you. I enjoyed you. I really appreciated hearing your story of your family in context and your upbringing. And I walked away going, "I really appreciate getting to meet and know and enjoy that man. So thank-you for being gracious; thank-you for being courageous; and thank-you for being humble. And I think it might be helpful because, You're coming out of a Oneness background and out of a different context than a lot of us are. You've demonstrated humility, saying "I've been studying the Bible and I'm even changing some thinking as I'm studying." A lot of pastors will just defend their first position to death rather than humbly reconsidering it biblically. Maybe to help others understand you, on the flip side, How have you been treated and what has the response been from some who were friends that you don't want to throw rocks at, but because of your transition.

Jakes: That's what's funny about this, that's what's really funny to me.

Driscoll: Are you the heretic to them?

Jakes: Oh, very much so in many circles ... Many of the circles that I came from would never allow me in their pulpit because they consider me a heretic. I have to read the article to see which heretic I am.

MacDonald: We'd be honored if you'd come be with us and let's all grow together.

Jakes: OK, and that'd be great. But I think the time has come for us to be willing to take the heat to have a conversation. Because if we do not do this, and we continue to divide ourselves by ourselves and compare ourselves with ourselves, we do it at the expense of decreasing numbers of new Christians in our country. We have to mobilize. Just for your consideration: This is the only thing that Jesus prayed that we can answer. He only prayed, "Father, I pray that they may be one even as You and I are also one." And this is the one thing that is within our power to answer, and we do not do it.

Driscoll: Can I ask a couple of quick questions, and then we can do whatever you want. Do you believe this is the perfect, inspired, final authority Word of God? [Driscoll holds up a Bible]

Jakes: Absolutely.

Driscoll: So you believe there's one God, Three Persons -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit? You believe Jesus was fully God, fully Man?

Jakes: Absolutely.

Driscoll: You believe He died on the cross in our place for our sins?

Jakes: Absolutely.

Driscoll: You believe He bodily rose from death?

Jakes: Absolutely.

Driscoll: You believe that He is the judge of the living and the dead?

Jakes: Yes.

Driscoll: And you believe that Apart from Jesus there is no salvation?

Jakes: Absolutely.

Driscoll: Thank-you. [applause]

MacDonald: That was crazy! I've just want to say this: I am so weary of people thinking they know -- they don't know I think you honor us and you humble us, a man of your stature and commitment to the Gospel and fruitfulness would come and sit in this room, let you and me ask him what he believes? ... I just want to say this, I think you've honored us, and you've shown immense humility, and I want to be in the world where I believe that Jesus Christ stands. And He's told us again and again He stands with the humble. "Get to those people who love my Son, who believe my Word, who express humility." And I'm honored to hear what you said. I want to just say, further, Mark, if I could contribute to this, that I feel deeply in my heart that God is both three and one. Three and one. I believe the Scripture is very clear when we get to heaven, we are going to see Jesus -- the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declare. Jesus is the only God we will ever see. When I was studying Revelation last year I was struck by the number of times that I saw in the book of Revelation that it almost seems in the text like the Father and the Son are on the same throne, and when I start to think about this, I believe in God eternally existing in three persons. But, the more I think about it, the more I feel like my head is going to explode, and I get a little weary of people who feel that they need to erase mystery and replace it with certainty as a test of orthodoxy. If what we have heard today doesn't satisfy, then the person is insatiable, and I'm ready to move on to a new subject. I believe that very strongly.

Jakes: Let me just make one little comment: One of the things that you said at the end, even as we talked about it before, and I've heard Jack Graham say this, too, that there is going to be one throne and there's going to be one God we can see. And I thought the more I hear everybody arguing about this, we're all saying the same thing. And we like fight about it to the death, and I just think that in the world that we're living in today, if we could just connect, and I know that there will always be distracters and there will always be people who define themselves by their differences rather than their connections, who are more comfortable with being known by what they are against than by what they are for. But when I hear you say that there's going to be one throne and one God on that throne, My soul leaps in celebration, and I hear both of us stumbling trying to explain how God does what He does like He does. I think THAT stumbling is worship. I think THAT stumbling is worship. I think the fact that we would humble ourselves and say, "Your thoughts and ways are beyond human comprehension" is what makes worship fill the room.

There you go! Did you spot any elephants? I know Todd Friel earned his elephant spotters badge . . .

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Preaching That Exposes Elephants - ER Saga (Part 2)

Rock star pastor Steven Furtick recently hosted a 12 night event called Code Orange Revival which featured a who's who of superstar preachers including TD Jakes, Ed Young Jr., Perry Noble, and many others. But the attendance of Matt Chandler really caught a lot of us by surprise along with that of James Macdonald (though his attendance is becoming less surprising by the day). While Matt's involvement was disturbing, many of us were hopeful that this fine preacher would deliver a powerful Gospel proclamation in a pulpit well known for Steven Furtick's favorite subject - Steven Furtick! I guess reactions will vary as to whether Chandler's sermon was pointed enough, but I though it was an excellent, bold, and gracious response to the narcissism so prominent in Furtick's ministry. This is really worth checking out as an example of how to handle a situation like this. It is also worth checking out for the controversy that has swirled around this video. It would seem that Furtick, who was on stage during Chandler's sermon did not like the sermon at all. At a conference where Furtick continually cheered wildly for each successive preacher, he was extremely sombre and subdued during Chandler's message. If you are hoping that it was conviction then think again because Chandler's sermon was the only one not replayed in conference reruns. Chandler is yet to comment. Here is one of the few online videos remaining of Matt Chandler's sermon as they all seem to be getting taken down. So watch this while you have the chance and feel free to give some feedback!

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Room Without Elephants - ER Saga (Part 1)

The last few weeks have been a surreal ride. Matt Chandler appears at the very bad "Code Orange Revival" alongside some very bad heretical teachers and preaches an excellent Christ centered presentation of the Gospel. His sermon then gets censored out of the reruns and online viewing by Steven Furtick.

Even bigger front page news has been the drawn out buildup to the Elephant Room saga which has just culminated. A lot is being said around the blogosphere about TD Jakes appearance at the controversial Elephant Room 2 conference. Jakes has a confessional history of holding the un-Trinitarian view of modalism which goes back to the third century and is the belief that God does not exist in three persons but in three modes that God switches between. Hence God can only be one of these three modes (or manifestations) at any one time (go here for a more detailed post on this subject). This is a big issue and required careful questioning with carefully defined terms. It appears that James Macdonald and Mark Driscoll really dropped the ball during their interrogation and failed to notice the very big other elephants of Jakes' persistent heretical Word Faith teachings and outrageous handling of Scripture. TD Jakes got the "certified sound" stamp of approval from Driscoll and Macdonald so he's good to go . . . or is he?

Then there was the issue of certain Elephant Room attendees being told on arrival that they had to leave or they would be arrested - strange in a conference about people coming together to face up to each other on their differences in a civil dialogue. And then there is the Voddie Baucham story of being invited to James MacDonald's church to preach, traveling to James MacDonald's church to preach, and being sent home by James MacDonald without preaching. There are a lot of these things that I believe warrant discussion over the coming weeks because these are important events on the evangelical landscape. And a lot of sharp people have responded so I have no plans to re-invent the wheel, just to pick the best wheels. But for now, I thought it appropriate to prologue this series with the wonderful experience of attending a seminary without elephants.

One of the great joys of being a student at The Master's Seminary (TMS) is the chapel services on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Each week features a great speaker who is either a guest or faculty. On Tuesday we had Mark from China visit us who is a former graduate. Mark typifies what a good seminary should produce - men who further the Gospel in whatever sphere of life they find themselves in. TMS is not primarily about educating men to take a paid position pastoring a church (though many graduates do this and it is certainly an honorable pursuit) but has a far greater focus on preparing men to run a long and fruitful race that finishes well in the fervent service of the Most High God. Mark is a great example of this. He arrived at TMS already highly educated with a doctorate in his secular field. He was very successful in the business world but had a strong desire to be trained in the Word of God. Mark graduated and then started a publishing company in China where he and his family now live and work. But the story gets far more interesting when we find out what their publishing company does - you can probably take a good guess. They are translating a wide range of theologically excellent books and successfully getting them published in China. China, a land where the church is exploding numerically, still has DESPERATE need of theological resources for equipping the many un-resourced pastors and teachers (both above and underground). What a blessed man I am being able to start the day in a room without elephants, hearing from an obscure man who is flying under the radar yet making gigantic strides in the furtherance of the Gospel!

(Disclaimer - no elephants were harmed in the making of this blog post).

Go On To Part 2