The amount of controversy surrounding the Elephant Room II is completely baffling to me.
If you don’t know about the controversy or the Elephant Room, here’s the quick version.
The Elephant Room is a conference for church leaders where Christian Leaders from a variety of methodological and theological backgrounds come together to discuss their perspectives on a various subjects.
For example, during the first Elephant Room, they had Steven Furtick and Perry Noble debating Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler on whether the focus should be on evangelism or discipleship and whether it’s ok to play “Highway to Hell” in church. (This was actually two different sessions)
I still think it’s the best idea for a conference I’ve ever heard of.
For the second year of the Elephant Room, the organizer, James MacDonald, invited T.D. Jakes. T.D. Jakes is a very famous pastor known for his prosperity gospel and thinly veiled (and occasionally unveiled) modalism. Immediately upon the announcement that T.D. Jakes was joining, the blog-sphere went nuts with criticism.
The Elephant Room has been promoted as a discussion between CHRISTIAN BROTHERS. Therefore, by inviting T.D. Jakes they are affirming him as a Christian brother and endorsing his ministry. James MacDonald defended his decision by saying that he doesn’t believe T.D. Jakes is a modalist and that he is a Christian brother.
In the end, James MacDonald resigned from the Gospel Coalition over the invitation and has stated that he has lost relationships over the controversy. Over the last couple of days, AT LEAST two bloggers over that the Gospel Coalition have written their responses to the events. Both said pretty much the same thing.
I DON’T GET IT
I honestly don’t understand how inviting a closet heretic to a conversation warrants this much controversy.
THINGS I DO GET:
- I understand why people would be STRONGLY opposed to his inclusion…he’s probably a closet heretic
- I understand why the blogosphere would go nuts…that’s what it does
- I understand why people would think James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll were too light on T.D. Jakes
THINGS I DON’T GET:
- James MacDonald losing relationships over inviting T.D. Jakes
- James MacDonald feeling the need to resign from the Gospel Coalition
- Multiple Gospel Coalition bloggers chiming in several days afterwards saying the same thing. All that really does is prolong the controversy, despite one of them writing in their blog, “I have not been eager to keep this controversy going.” I’m sorry but if your blog is hosted on the Gospel Coalition and you’ve published multiple books which people actually read, when you chime in on a controversy you keep it going.
- How inviting T.D. Jakes to an event is the same thing as affirming him theologically in a dangerous way. This is not a conference for lay people. This is a conference for pastors. They should be more discerning and informed theologically. They can make decisions about T.D. Jakes themselves.
I simply don’t see the danger in a group of pastors having a conversation in front of a group of pastors.
At the end of the day, I don’t feel that it’s my responsibility to determine who all the heretics are. If T.D. Jakes was invited to an answer questions about his theology, that strikes me as a good thing. If at that event he dances around questions or continues to veil his true beliefs, that is on him not James MacDonald.
I also think that a public event is a good environment for a public figure to articulate their beliefs. If he’s no longer a heretic, GREAT! If he’s still in the closet, that’s on him. If he’s openly a modalist, at least we now know.
I guess I see why some people would interrupt inviting him as a Christian brother is a dangerous idea, but I think pouncing on discussion is far more dangerous.
The message has been sent loud and clear, if you want to have a public discussion with someone we consider a heretic, you better do it EXACTLY THE RIGHT WAY or else there will be consequences and controversy.