There has been a lot written about the James McDonald event/concept called The Elephant Room. The Elephant Room website describes it as,
The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. What the bible actually asserts about the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice, about the most Christ honoring ways of building a church. However, a rally to unite where there is so much division is not for those who prefer to hide in small huddles of self congratulatory agreement. A true unity cannot be fashioned in pretense or denial of truth nor can it be won among those who prefer sectarianism to the unity Jesus prayed for. To advance Christ’s call to unity we must do what men have always done, we must push and prod and challenge and sharpen each other’s beliefs and methods. Fidelity and fruitfulness, both matter. No one has a corner on the truth and methods must do more than ‘work.’
A lot of what has been discussed about The Elephant Room has revolved around some of the people involved and their doctrine and methods. For example, Perry Noble of New Spring Church in Anderson, SC; I find his theology to be shaky at best and his methodology to certainly be unconventional and in my opinion, in most of the cases I know about, inappropriate and offensive. Nobles, by his own admission, goes out of his way to be offensive and controversial to the extent that the Gospel message is smeared. His language is clearly questionable and sometimes borderline profane, using the word freakin on many occasions. If the Gospel presentation were clear, that would be one thing. But it isn’t and it is almost always overshadowed by offensive and inappropriate material or behavior.
Then there are those like Mark Driscoll, David Platt and Greg Laurie; men who are, in my opinion, committed to the Gospel and to proclaiming it with clarity and compassion.
Then there is the news that T.D. Jakes will join the panel in round 2 of the conversation. I may disagree with a Driscoll or Laurie in some secondary area of theology but I could have fellowship with them. Jakes however is a different matter. His theology and methodology is clearly Word of Faith and if you go by what he has written and preached, he adheres to Oneness or Modalist theology. I can state here again, and feel totally comfortable in saying it, T.D. Jakes is a heretic, and I have great concerns when anyone who say they affirm the orthodox Christian faith aligning themselves with someone like a Jakes, Osteen or Warren; whether it be in a conference, a television program and certainly in their churches. My question is, would these men be given as much attention as they are if they did not sell millions of books, claim large numbers of members in the churches or have easier access to media publicity? I think not.
With that said, I am saying here that I am going to withhold from further comment on the Elephant Room until I have a chance to learn more, and as to the Jakes sessions, until I can hear what is said during the event itself. I have stated my position on Jakes and that is clear. While I do not know James McDonald’s ministry very well, what I have known and heard was positive; so I want to give him and his colleagues the benefit of the doubt; to do the right thing and reserve criticism until I know more.
I agree we should be willing to have conversations with all sorts of people and that we should do so lovingly and hospitably. But at the same time we must remain committed to our faith and not ever be willing to, or even appear to be, disloyal to the Gospel.
Will the questioning and discussion with Jakes be direct and confrontational? Will Jakes be called on his Modalist and Word of Faith theologies? Will those on the panel be in awe of his personality and celebrity and thusly be more willingly to impress him? Let’s see.