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