I need to be brief, as I have many pressing duties.
Reading the commentary on the Elephant Room 2 events, and in particular, the alleged rehabilitation (repentance?) of TD Jakes has truly been brought me sadness. Sure, I know that very few Evangelicals, even scholars, have much experience with modalists and Oneness advocates, but still, the general ease with which many have been taken in by such a shallow and brief discussion does not speak well of the depth of understanding of many today. It also speaks loudly to the fact that many in Evangelicalism disconnect the honor and glory of God from the truth He has revealed about Himself. That is, they do not see that to worship and honor God demands from us our utmost effort to accurately hear and to follow what He has revealed about Himself, primarily in Jesus Christ, and the holy Scriptures. To take lightly God’s self-revelation is an affront to the divine majesty, and would not be the action of a heart that is consumed with passion for its Lord. The true source of a passion for sound doctrine comes first and foremost from a heart that has singular attention to the glory and honor of the object of its passion. Those who “argue doctrine” simply for the sake of ego or self-gratification do so to their own destruction. Sound doctrine isn’t about personalities or men, it is about truth that transcends our brief time on earth.
Let’s remember some of Jakes’ words from ER2. Keeping in mind his statement of faith, which continues to use the modalistic language of “manifestations,” and keeping in mind that Jakes does not baptize in the Trinitarian formula (he baptizes in Jesus name only—something oddly ignored by the tribunal who seemed to grant to themselves the ability to proclaim Trinitarian orthodoxy at ER2), let’s consider his words. When asked if God manifests Himself in three ways, or exists in three divine Persons, he said that “neither one of them totally get it for me.” Now there is a ringing profession of Trinitarianism if I ever heard it. Please, why are so many quick to pass over this direct statement that the historic profession of faith just doesn’t quite “totally get it” for Bishop Jakes? Does that really sound like someone who has seen the error of their ways and is ready to abjure error for a sound profession of faith in the truth? Or does it sound like someone who really thinks he is in a position to pick and choose what is comfortable for him given his goals and aims?
Ah, but Jakes went on to say, “I’m not crazy about the word ‘person.'” Yes, another ringing word of repentance form his former modalism and a sound profession of his new Trinitarian faith, is it not? Is that why he has not changed his statement of faith for his church, because this new found Trinitarianism is not something he is really all that “crazy about”? Can you imagine talking to someone who had been a Mormon, and professed belief in many gods, and now he is seeking fellowship with you, and when you inquire as to his beliefs, he says, “Oh, I believe mainly like you, but, Trinitarianism just doesn’t fully do it for me, and I’m not really crazy about the term ‘monotheism.'” Will you be inviting that person to fill your pulpit to teach on the nature of God next Sunday, I wonder?
But the most amazing statement that has somehow failed to make it into the pages of Christianity Today and all the blogs celebrating Jakes’ newfound Trinitarianism came right at the heart of the conversation. Driscoll asked him about the use of the term “manifestations” in his church’s statement of faith. And he replied:
My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word” [Driscoll interrupts saying, “manifestations”] “Manifest instead of persons, which you describe as modalist and I describe as Pauline. When I read…let me show you what I’m talking about…when I read I Timothy 3:16 – I didn’t create this, Paul did: “And without controversy” which I think we have…we have been bickering about something which Paul describes as a mystery, and I don’t think we should do that. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. For God was manifest in the flesh.” Now Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it is robbery to the divinity of God to think God was manifest in the flesh. And I think maybe it’s semantics, because [garbled], but Paul says this before this fight was started.”
Did you catch that? Can someone explain this to me? A prosperity preacher of a mega church has a statement of faith for years on end that is clearly modalistic in nature that says God eternally exists in “three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” He continues to defend that language in these words. When the key issue is brought forward, the use of manifestations instead of persons, his response is to dispute the identification of “manifestations” as modalistic, but instead say it is “Pauline,” i.e., it is in accordance with Biblical revelation. He then misuses 1 Timothy 3:16, as all modalists do, and as is prevalent in Oneness writings. And yet, despite these words, we are all somehow supposed to applaud Jakes’ new position as a sound, orthodox Trinitarian?
Sadly, there was no follow up. Driscoll and the rest heard what they wanted to hear, fist-bumped and applauded, and all was well. It would have been so painfully simple to bring this entire question to a complete conclusion. I could have done so by pressing a single question until a clear answer was given. But that is why I was not invited to ER2 (and won’t be invited to ER3, or 4, or…Lord help us!).
Continue Reading →
According to this article, a recent Gallup poll, for the first time, shows a majority (53%) of Americans supporting the legalization of “same-sex marriage,” i.e., they support the radical redefinition of marriage (though, of course, the question was not asked in that logical, historical, or moral form). According to the information published in that article, when the question was first asked in 1996, 27% supported the idea. The rapid change in opinion is directly related to the public relations push planned out decades ago by homosexual activists, and fully supported by powerful figures in Hollywood.
The profanation of marriage: many Christians will say, “This will bring the wrath of God.” As a general statement, this is true. But I would like to suggest that given the light Western culture as a whole, and the United States in particular, has received, and given our cultural heritage, this will not bring God’s wrath, it is God’s wrath. In other words, when a culture can fall so far morally at such a precipitous speed, God has surely removed not only His hand of blessing, but His hand of restraint as well. We are being given over, or, maybe more accurately, have been given over, to fulfill the “lusts of the flesh.”
You see, Western culture has so demeaned marriage, treated it with such disdain, glorified its destruction, mocked its sanctity, that it is perfectly righteous and proper for God to remove the blessing of marriage from such a culture, and replace it with a profaned, twisted substitute. Just as God causes those who refuse to love the truth to love a lie (2 Thess. 2:10-12), so too it is proper to allow a culture to follow its own rebellion to its proper end. Don’t like God’s law about marriage? Fine, He will let you fall in love with a shallow, soul-destroying, culture annihilating substitute. He will let you purposefully abuse children by denying them a father or a mother, as if either one can simply be dismissed on a whim. He will let you confuse your children about their gender, resulting in the degradation of every element of the society. Such cultures pass into history, and relatively quickly.
All of this is evidence that the next generation (the article says the large portion of support comes from the young) has been thoroughly indoctrinated in a secular/materialistic mindset that has no foundation for understanding marriage, its God-given character, and its centrality to life and society. My generation has failed, quite honestly, to pass on a robust Christian worldview to our children, in general, and the results are clear, and predictable.
We must keep our lights bright, call for repentance, call sin sin, and wrath wrath, always as redeemed and hell-deserving sinners ourselves, and pray God will pour out repentance upon our land.
Inspired by today’s Dividing Line webcast, I offer the following compare and contrast on Rob Bell’s theology.
Rob Bell (Love Wins, p. 66):
Could God say to someone truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation, “Sorry, too late”? Many have refused to accept the scenario in which somebody is pounding on the door, apologizing, repenting, and asking God to be let in, only to hear God say through the keyhole: “Door’s locked. Sorry. If you had been here earlier, I could have done something. But now, it’s too late.”
Jesus Christ (Matthew 25:1-13):
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, “Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”
But the wise answered, saying, “Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us.”
But he answered and said, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Am I saying that those in Hell will come “truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation” – no, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that when the door shuts, it’s too late. So, since you don’t know when Christ will return, or when you yourself will die, take hold of the kingdom of heaven now. Be prepared.
Bell’s dream of an always-open heaven is nothing more than a delusion.
To John H. Armstrong, author of the book, “Your Church is Too Small,” and to those who buy into his way of thinking, my response is “Your hell is too small.”
What do I mean by that? I mean that you are too quick to assume that people don’t need to hear the gospel. You figure, “if they call themselves Christians, who am I to judge?” But in the process you lose the chance to convict them of sin and exhort them to repentance and faith in Christ.
By accepting their Christian professions despite their idolatry or other serious and unrepented-of sin, you are not doing them any favors. You may make a lot of friends for yourself (and that will be your reward) but you are not showing them love.
We love our fellow humans and we don’t long for hell to be as large as it is. But on the other hand, we need to be realistic and to keep in mind that there will be many who are now saying “Lord, Lord,” who will be there. It’s not loving to tell someone with a treatable disease that they are fine, even if they don’t want to hear about their disease.
Mr. Armstrong, you may think that my definition of the church is too small, but I’m afraid I must tell you that your definition of hell is too small. If I’m wrong, I’ve shared the gospel in vain. If you’re wrong, you’ve failed to share the gospel with those who need it. If there’s any uncertainty about who is right, I suggest you come over to my side.