by Anthony B. Bradley
If I wanted to turn thousands of African-Americans and Hispanics away from churches committed to the Reformation doctrines of grace I would create a public event where a couple of white Calvinist pastors publicly argue against a well-known and respected black pastor in Pentecostal circles. This is exactly what could happen on Jan. 25, as James MacDonald, along with his co-moderator Mark Driscoll, will host pastor T.D. Jakes for a public conversation in The Elephant Room.
According to the website, “The Elephant Room features blunt conversations between seven influential pastors who take differing approaches to ministry.” MacDonald, a council member of The Gospel Coalition, organized the event as a way for people to hear from church leaders like Jakes. Conversation and dialogue are always good and can help bring about discernment, but that’s not the problem here. There’s more to this situation than theology. What baffles many evangelical leaders is why MacDonald chose, as his first African-American guest, a pastor that many consider to be a heretic because of his views of the Trinity.
Carl Trueman, who teaches church history at Westminster Theology Seminary, has raised questions about MacDonald’s understanding and commitment to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene Creed because of the way he seems OK with Jakes’ view of the Trinity not as “persons” but as “manifestations”–a view often associated with a heresy called modalism. Trueman also raised concerns about whether there’s any accountability for MacDonald.
What is even more devastating, some argue, is that MacDonald’s invitation to Jakes undermines decades of work by black evangelical leaders and pastors to steer their congregations away from such theological beliefs. For example, an incensed Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Gospel Coalition council member, wrote that the Jakes invitation is the equivalent to “Augustine inviting Muhammed.” Anyabwile continued:
“The news of T.D. Jakes’ invitation to The Elephant Room is widespread and rightly lamented by many. I’m just adding a perspective that hasn’t yet been stated: This kind of invitation undermines that long, hard battle many of us have been waging in a community often neglected by many of our peers. And because we’ve often been attempting to introduce African-American Christians to the wider Evangelical and Reformed world as an alternative to the heresy and blasphemy so commonplace in some African-American churches and on popular television outlets, the invitation of Jakes to perform in ‘our circles’ simply feels like a swift tug of the rug from beneath our feet and our efforts to bring health to a sick church.”
Source: World Magazine