What I Read Online – 02/02/2012 (a.m.)

    • At a recent gathering, Carl Trueman was asked what churches could do to stem the tide of men leaving the pastorate.  His answer was that elders of the church needed to do a good job protecting the pastor of the church (for the sake of brevity, allow me to make the distinction between “elders” and “pastors” in the church).
    • Let’s understand that the world clamors for the simultaneous strength and weakness of this medium: insta-responses. Sometimes people go the extra mile to have behind-the-scenes private conversations, waiting to see how things turn out. Sometimes they get burned for doing so. Sometimes patience will be interpreted as cowardice. Sometimes taking a risk for a relationship will be seen only as recklessness. It’s not always easy to get the balance right. TGC was criticized for saying too much too soon about Rob Bell, and criticized for saying too little too late about T.D. Jakes. Perhaps both sets of critics have a point.
    • The damage had been done: What could have been a call for a discussion between a trinitarian and a modalist became a pre-announcement that Jakes is not a modalist and that it doesn’t really matter that much anyway
    • In other words, the clear message was that everyone of the participants is united in the gospel as brothers—despite the fact that one of the participants has historically held to modalism, which is inherently incompatible with the gospel as presented in the Bible. Also despite the fact of health-and-wealth themes, incompatible with a theology of the cross. In other words, this became not just  a conversation with someone from a different “tribe,” but a public conversation under the banner of “We Are United in the Gospel.”
    • It seems that Bishop Jakes now prefers the language of Trinitarianism, though he doesn’t want to functionally abandon the language of modalism (in particular, “manifestations” over “persons”). Furthermore, if you go back to the response he wrote 12 years ago (linked and summarized above), you will find the exact same points reiterated at the Elephant Room.

       

    • But here’s the problem, as I see it: at the end of the day, we just don’t know precisely what he believes. This should chasten both sides. For those who say “he’s still a full-fledged modalist”—I’m not sure. For those who are convinced “he has come out as an orthodox Trinitarian”—I’m not sure. As Trevin Wax points out, the proof will not be in whether Jakes can check a certain number of boxes, but in what he will teach his people
    • Without questions like these, the discussion did not genuinely advance beyond what Bishop Jakes wrote 12 years ago. And as many have pointed out, the issue of the prosperity gospel did not come up, so we do not have a better sense of his stance on that crucial issue, either.

       

    • A Godly pastor is one who is like God, who has a heart of free grace running after sinners. The Godly pastor is the one who sees the prodigal and runs and falls on his neck and weeps and kisses him and says, “This my son was dead, he was lost and now he is alive and found
    • By lifting up men with minimal theological commitments as examples to pastors, the Elephant Room is proclaiming, perhaps unwittingly, that a rigorous concern for sound doctrine is not essential to the pastoral office
    • if you skim over the line-up for the two Elephant Room conferences, a good percentage of the men would be self-consciously a-theological.  By a-theological, I’m certainly not saying that the men are heretics or apostates.  I do not doubt their conversions or sincerity.  Rather, it’s that they do not emphasize sound doctrine in their preaching and teaching, do not have a firm grasp of sound doctrine themselves, and, frankly, do not see this as a problem
    • However there is a massive difference between disagreeing over theology and disagreeing that theology is important.  And for the pastor, thinking that sound doctrine is insignificant is simply not an option
    • So in essence, what both the Elephant Rooms have done is to powerfully communicate to thousands of younger pastors that a rigorous concern for sound doctrine is not essential to pastoral faithfulness or success.  This is not only a radical departure from the biblical definition of the pastoral office, it contradicts the way the church has historically viewed the pastorate
    • More significantly, of course, had you been there yourself and looked around the council, you would have seen that many of the delegates had body parts missing – an arm here, a leg there, an occasional eye – because they were survivors of the terrible persecutions under Diocletian and Galerius.  Indeed, many had probably lost close friends and family members too.  Thus, the foundations for the creedal doctrine of the Trinity were laid by men who thought doctrine was something for which it was actually worth suffering and dying
    • That someone is willing to die for a cause does not sanctify it; but when you add to this that Nicene orthodoxy has been universally agreed upon as important by  millions of Christians of multiple races, nationalities and age  profile, through sixteen centuries, surely that should give us pause for thought.  The questions asked at Nicea were important and they were asked by serious men, men serious enough to risk death for their faith.   To dismiss all this with a wave of the hand or through simple lack of knowledge and competence, and to follow this up by playing the race card, is an interesting move
    • The event was not framed in the right way. There have been several iterations of the event’s stated purpose, but at various stages the Elephant Room was described as brothers getting together in a spirit of unity
    • The discussion didn’t have to begin under the bright lights with promo videos and registration fees and all the rest. I think the intent was honorable, but prudence was lacking
    • Why didn’t anybody talk to T.D. Jakes about his prosperity gospel? His views on the subject are well known. You can find them with little trouble by picking up his books or watching his sermons on You Tube. I know people can point to good things Jakes has done-almost everyone has done some good things. But the health-wealth-blessing theology is unbiblical and anti-gospel. It has deceived many
    • The questions on the Trinity were not strong enough or careful enough. People can continue to debate whether Jakes is or is not a Modalist, but the fact that we don’t know what he now believes underscores the problem. He was not pressed to make his language and commitments precise
    • I’m not at all convinced Jakes understands or affirms orthodox Trinitarianism
    • While the efforts of James and the others may have been to correct Jakes or draw him out, I fear that the result of his participation is to make his ministry seem safer than it is. For those who think we need more of the preaching and theology and influence of T.D. Jakes, you will simply disagree with this point. But for those who believe his influence has been detrimental to the church, we should not want to give the impression that Jakes is basically pretty solid
    • There is a painful racial dimension to the Jakes controversy that is difficult to untangle. I’m not going to wade into all the discussion of motivation and what perspective more closely represents the African American church. But I will say this, and with deep regret: I was taken aback when one African American brother graciously pointed out to me, and a number of other whites, that he was sad to see so many of us quick to criticize Rob Bell (and rightly so he said) but silent on the devastating ministry of T.D. Jakes. It felt like a lack of concern for the many African American brothers who—out of love for the gospel and for the Lord Jesus—are laboring faithfully to lay a better theological foundation in the black church than men like T.D. Jakes have given
    • We need a more careful theology of criticism. There are several observations all Christians should be able to agree on, even if they sometimes pull us in opposite directions. (1) Let’s not assume the worst about people. (2) Let’s not shame those who aren’t immediately credulous when someone with a history of bad thinking says something that could be construed as maybe okay. (3) Let’s be very cautious in assigning motive. (4) Let’s not take everything personally or make everything personal. (5) Let’s not get our kicks from criticizing others and mucking around in controversy. (6) Let’s avoid facile condemnations of all criticism, realizing that the statement itself is a criticism and the Bible is full of heroes who had a lot of bones to pick. (7) Let’s accept that in this fallen world only the Lord can fully sort some things out and we don’t have go twelve rounds in every conflict
    • Free AudioBook: Jerry Bridges’s Trusting God
      Free AudioBook: Jerry Bridges’s Trusting God avatar

       

       

      • Biographical Sketch of J. C. Ryle: Manuscript from John Piper

            

          

          

         

          

               
         
         
           

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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