05 September 2011

The Elephant Room Returns

Were you waiting for more reasons to be concerned about the growing camaraderie between so-called conservative, "reformed" pastors like James MacDonald and Matt Chandler with the seeker-driven likes of Steven Furtick and Perry Noble? Look no further. The Elephant Room Conference will be back with a vengeance in January 2012.

The Elephant Room: Round 2 from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

The website reads:
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 over issues of little importance, but in partnership with everyone who agrees about the biblical Gospel. However, a rally to unite where there is so much division is not for those who prefer the kiddie pool. A true unity cannot be fashioned in pretense or denial of truth. Men must do what men have always done, we must push and prod and challenge and sharpen each other’s beliefs and methods. No one has a corner on the truth. We must all be learners.

What if we created a new ‘tribe?’ A tribe based on being humble enough to listen and reconsider what the Scriptures actually assert. A tribe that holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity and is open handed with everything else. Maybe, together, we can create a new center?
Do we really need to "create a new center?" Shouldn't the "center" of a church, of a pastor, of any Christian, be Jesus Christ? There is no "conversation" to be had on the Gospel. Man is sinful, Jesus, the Son of God, lived a sinless life and, out of obedience to His Father, died a gruesome, brutal death, bearing the sins of all who would ever believe. Three days later He rose from the dead, proving that His sacrifice was indeed acceptable to the Father, and destroying the power of sin, death and Satan forever. Those who repent of their sin and turn to Him in faith, trusting in Him alone for salvation, will be saved.

There also is no conversation to be had, in my opinion, regarding how to "do church." If we speak accurately, we don't "do church," Christians are the Church. As the Church, then, we gather on Sunday mornings to worship God and to study His Word which He has so graciously given to us. This is what the sheep thrive on. This is the food that the pastor, as the shepherd, must ensure his sheep are receiving. If the sheep aren't being fed when they gather together, if they are being ignored in favor of feeding the goats who desire only to be entertained and have their itching ears scratched, then that pastor is not fulfilling His duty. End of story. How a worship service is conducted will speak volumes about the pastor's view of God. So while we may be able to have a conversation about a pipe organ versus a piano versus no instruments whatsoever, the broader discussions that this conference is encouraging are doing nothing more than opening wider a door that perhaps ought to remain shut. Thus far we can see in examples like James MacDonald's recent invitation to Steven Furtick to teach from his pulpit, that the friendships forged by the Elephant Room conference have not been wise ones. The fruit from this year's conference seems to me to be rotten and yet it proved successful and lucrative enough to warrant a second event next year.

Happenings like this ought to remind us to pray that God would raise up men who are true to His Word alone. Men who do not seek after celebrity and huge warehouses full of people, but who desire only to stand up before the flock that has been given to them, open the Bible and preach the Word.

The Elephant Room
The Elephant Room, Follow-up
Matt Chandler and Curious Decisions (Apprising Ministries)
Steven Furtick to Preach at Harvest Bible Chapel
Is Harvest Bible Chapel Being Fed to the Wolves?


  1. It's apparent that after Elephant Room 1, the "circus hands" were busy sweeping for months...
    The smell and mess was piled high and deep , but apparently not high enough for these pachyderm sized egoomaniacs.

    The real "elephant in the room" is this.. why would ANYONE with even a scintilla of Biblical discernment and truly walking and abiding in God's WORD ...follow any of these hirelings off the cliff, and into this unbiblical compromise and unholy cult of personality?

  2. Why is James Macdonald labeled a "reformed" pastor? What does this label "reformed" imply?

  3. I wish they would invite Paul Washer but I'm guessing that won't happen.

  4. I would have to disagree that "exegetical preaching" and "seeminng to affirm the doctrines of grace" is what the proper term for being reformed means. I would submit that being Reformed needs to be defined by the historical standard. What reformed confession would best classify Harvest?

    The 3 Forms of Unity? No.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith? No.

    The London Baptist Confession of 1689? No. This is a streach for Baptists to be truly reformed. I don't even know why a historical baptist would even want to be reformed. Did'nt they break away from the "reformed" when they were seperatists?

    Can one be truly reformed and hold to a dispensational view of escatology? I thought the historical reformed positions where Amil and Postmil?

    I would like to see James put on paper what he truly believes. I find it interesting that you used the word "seemingly" when you described what you feel his stance is toward the Doctrines of Grace. I believe his position is being all things for all people and this move toward the emergant folks firms up my position.

    Here is a link to a good article on what being historically reformed means:


  5. Anonymous #1: Amen!

    Brian: I used "reformed" in quotes simply because MacDonald seems to be embraced by the crowd that would identify itself as "reformed."

    Anonymous #2: Now THAT is a conversation I would love to hear! But don't hold your breath.

  6. Anonymous #3: As you can see, I altered my original comment. What I was attempting (and failing miserably) to convey was that I used the term simply because MacDonald is often embraced by that crowd. Being well aware of the historical doctrine of Reformed theology, I personally would not place MacDonald into that category either, hence my use of the small "r" and the quotation marks. Hopefully that helps clarify my thoughts!

  7. Ebenz - Anonymous #3.
    Thank you for the clarification. I see and understand your viewpoint now.

  8. James MacDonald had a meeting with his ministry leaders and explicitly said that he is reformed in his theology. I don't see this in practice at Harvest Bible Chapel and have never known him to make that claim during a service. His books would also seem to suggest otherwise but maybe this is a recent change in his theology?


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