01 April 2012

Charles Jenkins & "Jesus Week" Welcome T.D. Jakes Back to Chicago

T.D. Jakes is no stranger to the Windy City. It seems his most notable visit to Chicago occurred in January of this year for the now-infamous Elephant Room 2 Conference. Though Jakes has since returned to this midwest city for his own events, he will again find himself in the Chicago spotlight this week for what has been deemed "Jesus Week."

"Jesus Week" is an event organized and sponsored by Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC) and its senior pastor, Charles Jenkins. The scheduled speakers for this event boast an interesting mix, and include Tommy Barnett, Dave Gibbons, James Meeks, Erwin McManus and of course, T.D. Jakes.

(Online Source)
Every one of these names could offer an article in itself, such as Tommy Barnett, co-founder of the Los Angeles Dream Center (along with his son, Matthew Barnett) and current pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God in Phoenix, AZ. One may also wonder why contemplative spirituality advocate Erwin McManus would be invited to this event. For now, however, the reader will be asked to focus on T.D. Jakes, as well as the lead pastor of FMBC and the driving force behind "Jesus Week," Charles Jenkins.

As one might imagine, Jenkins has been anticipating this event, and he has been excitedly tweeting about it for over a week now. Of special importance is Wednesday night, when T.D. Jakes will be speaking. For this evening only, the event will be held at the Chicago State University Convocation Center, no doubt in order to accommodate the large crowds. Jenkins has been eagerly asking his Twitter followers to spread the word about Jakes' appearance:

(Online Source)

(Online Source)
With the excitement displayed by Charles Jenkins, it must be safe to assume that he is familiar with T.D. Jakes, his teachings, and his prominent and public ministry. In fact, Charles Jenkins is scheduled to appear as a speaker at T.D. Jakes' 2012 International Pastors and Leadership Conference. It does seem odd, however, that a Christian pastor would so eagerly embrace and promote someone like T.D. Jakes. While Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald have claimed to have laid to rest in ER2 the issue of Jakes' modalism, Pastor Ken Silva is correct when he says, "Jakes was essentially allowed to say, 'I’m a trinitarian-modalist'" (Online Source).

The elephant in the room that was left unaddressed was of course T.D. Jakes' Word Faith teachings. Speaking on the Chris Fabry Live program, James MacDonald positioned himself as T.D. Jakes' defense and claimed that, in a private conversation, Jakes had indicated that he would not consider himself to be a preacher of Word Faith.
James MacDonald indicated that a private conversation had taken place. During this conversation, says MacDonald, T.D. Jakes expressed that he would "not currently accept the designation of prosperity or Word of Faith as an accurate description of what he believes. [...] As of two weeks ago [Jakes] would not accept these terms in a private conversation as an accurate description of what he believes." (Online Source)
Unfortunately, as was demonstrated in the post T.D. Jakes Joins Fellow Word Faith-ers at Vision 2012, it does not appear as though Jakes' current actions are reflective of the statement above. Indeed, earlier this month T.D. Jakes appeared at Paula White's event, A God Encounter. Jakes' presence at this event is not exactly surprising, considering that Paula White considers T.D. Jakes to be her spiritual father:

As was heard in the clip above, T.D. Jakes considers Paula White to be "a great woman of God." Surely there is a great mutual admiration shared between Jakes and White, for not only has Jakes appeared at White's event as noted above, but Paula White has actually preached for T.D. Jakes at his church, The Potter's House:

It is evident, then, that T.D. Jakes' Word Faith roots run deep. Again the question is asked: doesn't it seem odd that Christian pastor Charles Jenkins would invite Jakes to headline at his Jesus Week event?

Jakes made some headlines of his own last week for some questionable statements that seem to be reflective of the teaching contained in his latest book, Let It Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven
Contrary to popular opinion, forgiveness is innate and unforgiveness is learned from our environment, says T.D. Jakes, pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House in Dallas and New York Times bestselling author. 
"We develop our propensity to forgive or not to forgive by what we see illustrated at the early ages of our development. We don't come here unforgiving. Children are not unforgiving. You can punish them and they will hug you in a few minutes," said Jakes to The Christian Post in an interview. "They can have an altercation with another child and want to go outside and play by lunch time. 
"We don't come here pre-wired to bear this kind of acrimonious type of lifestyle. We don't come here like that. We come here with a certain propensity to be open, loving, accepting, and trusting. We learn to be unforgiving, doubtful, suspicious, guilt-ridden, and anxious." (Online Source)
These quotes are quite interesting, especially considering the biblical teaching that man is inherently sinful.
as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
 In a follow-up article, the Christian Post offered additional insights into Jakes' statements as shared by Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough.
Chris Rosebrough, an apologist, rejected Jakes' statement to CP that forgiveness is innate and unforgiveness is learned from one's environment. There isn't a "single passage (in Scripture) that says human beings are by nature forgiving," he argued.
Rosebrough noted that he has seen many children do just the opposite of what Jakes mentioned, such as pitching temper tantrums, or not always forgiving or wanting to forgive. It isn't part of our human nature to want that, he asserted.
What we can be sure of, Rosebrough said, is that "Jesus taught us to pray daily for God's forgiveness." And in talking about sinful or unforgiving behavior, it shouldn't be about you "unlearning" a behavior, it should be about asking, "Do I need a crucified and risen savior for any of that?" (Online Source)
Rosebrough discussed this issue during his March 26 episode of Fighting for the Faith, which can be heard here. The ultimate problem with Jakes' statements is that they appear to be rather Pelagian in nature. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "Pelagian" as "one agreeing with Pelagius in denying original sin and consequently in holding that individuals have perfect freedom to do either right or wrong" (Online Source). Theopedia defines Pelagianism as follows:
Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam's sin, original sin, total depravity, and substitutionary atonement. It simultaneously views man as fundamentally good and in possession of libertarian free will. With regards to salvation, it teaches that man has the ability in and of himself (apart from divine aid) to obey God and earn eternal salvation. (Online Source)
For obvious reasons, this teaching was condemned early on in church history and formally was deemed as heresy in 418 A.D. at the Council of Carthage. For T.D. Jakes to embrace, even slightly, the idea that man is inherently good apart from Christ is problematic. Now, then, as Jakes is mainstreamed by men like Mark Driscoll, James MacDonald, and now Charles Jenkins, there is even more to be concerned about than "just" Jakes' modalistic tendencies and Word Faith teachings.

Now, who is Charles Jenkins and why can it be said that he is aiding in the mainstreaming of T.D. Jakes? According to the website of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Charles Jenkins can be described in a myriad of ways. It also seems from FMBC's website that Jenkins is credited fully for the numerical growth of this church.
FAITH LEADER, SOCIAL ENGINEER, ENTREPRENEUR, IDEA MAKER, ARTIST, and COMMUNICATOR, are just some of the words that describe Charles Jenkins who is a leader widely respected and revered for his innovative thinking, contemporary leadership, business savvy and holistic approach to social change and large-scale community development. 
While Jenkins is widely known as the senior pastor of the historic Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, a rapidly growing multi-location congregation of over 8,000 members in the Chicagoland area, he is also a visionary, trailblazer, connector, community leader, advisor, GRAMMY® award-winning songwriter, author and dynamic communicator. 
Since taking the helm at Fellowship as senior pastor ten years ago, succeeding the church’s founder, Reverend Clay Evans, Jenkins has more than quadrupled weekend attendance and created a variety of life-changing programs and services for children, youth and adults. Under his leadership, Fellowship has profoundly and positively impacted the city by providing food, clothing, personal care items and critical assistance to tens of thousands of people in need through several of Fellowship’s outreach programs. Jenkins also created the Fellowship Educational and Economic Development Corporation to further focus on community improvement and empowerment. (Online Source, bold emphasis added)
The reader may recognize Charles Jenkins from a post-ER2 video that appeared here on James MacDonald's Vertical Church blog. Also of interest is that Jenkins has himself spoken at MacDonald's Harvest Bible Chapel. More specifically, Charles Jenkins was the pastor who stepped in to replace Voddie Baucham when Baucham's appearance at the Harvest Men's Conference was unexpectedly canceled. As was documented in Voddie Baucham Responds, Dr. Baucham explained the situation this way:
I was naive to think that there would be no fallout if I decided to go forward with the Men’s Conference.  The Men’s Conference was scheduled to take place two days after ER2.  Once my worst fears were realized at ER2 (i.e., Jakes equivocated on modalism, was not even challenged on WOF gospel, etc. see here for a detailed analysis), there was no way for me to 1) keep silent on this growing controversy, and 2) attend the Men’s Conference, without giving tacit approval to ER2.  The decision to go public was inevitable.  The only question was how.
I have a regular practice of posting notices of upcoming events in my monthly newsletter, and on my Facebook fan page.  These have been invaluable tools that keep people apprised of when I’m coming to their area (or the area of friends and family whom they’d like to invite to one of our events), how they can pray for me, and what kind of doors the Lord is opening for the ministry. 
As per my practice, I posted a link to the Men’s Conference and asked, “Any fan page members planning to attend...”  As you can imagine, there were more than a few questions about my position on ER2, my relationship with James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, and a whole host of other things.  I answered those questions as honestly as I could.  I made it clear that I opposed the decision to invite Bishop Jakes; pointed out what I saw as his masterful ‘dodge’ on the trinitarian question (and subsequent affirmation of modalist language), and gave a brief explanation of my reasoning for keeping this prior commitment (see here for a recap).
This did not go over well with James MacDonald.  Upon my arrival at the church the next day, he and I sat down (along with my assistant and several members of his staff) and had a candid conversation about my decision to answer questions in a public forum.  Ultimately, we agreed that it was not a good idea for me to speak at the conference.  We  prayed, shook hands, embraced, and ended the meeting as brothers.  James also insisted on paying the agreed honorarium (Added 1/31/12). MacDonald had already made arrangements for a replacement speaker.  My assistant and I were escorted to a waiting car and taken back to the airport. (Online Source)
It turned out that the "replacement speaker" that had been arranged for by MacDonald was in fact Charles Jenkins.
(Online Source)
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(Online Source)
This ought to raise some interesting questions. James MacDonald has already sought to bring T.D. Jakes into the mainstream evangelical church. MacDonald also must trust and respect the ministry and teaching of Charles Jenkins, or surely he would not have invited Jenkins to teach the men of Harvest Bible Chapel at the Men's Conference. Now we see Jenkins loudly promoting T.D. Jakes at Jenkins' own event.

Has the visible church truly come to a point where it is willing to embrace heresy in the name of grace, love and unity? More and more, one can hear some of the most prominent leaders in America's church crying for unity, yet unity cannot and should not be sought at the expense of sound doctrine. When the Gospel is compromised, and when God's Word is misused and misconstrued, then unity should not be an option. Rather, rebuke, reproof and an exhortation to return to sound doctrine ought to be the cry of the church. After all, those are some of the most basic purposes of Scripture, and the most basic of duties of the pastor.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
T.D. Jakes Joins Fellow Word Faith-ers at Vision 2012
"Code Orange" Speaker "Bishop" T.D. Jakes
Did James MacDonald "Learn a Ton" from T.D. Jakes?
Cleaning Up After the Elephants? MacDonald Takes to the Airwaves
A Biblical Critique of T.D. Jakes' Code Orange Revival Sermon


  1. James is a "bridger". That is a person who uses his influence in order to bridge previously unnavigable truces and alliances.

    Of all the men in so called ministry today, I am most disgusted and concerned about men like James who are opening doors discerning Christians have always been led by The Holy Spirit to keep closed.

    Dangerous liasons.

  2. You asked, "Has the visible church truly come to a point where it is willing to embrace heresy in the name of grace, love and unity?"

    The answer to this question is an absolutely, without-a-doubt, YES. All denials to the contrary are nothing more than smoke&mirrors.

  3. Dan,
    Though I intentionally left the question unanswered above, I don't think it's a secret that I would wholeheartedly agree with you. It often feels as though the state of the visible church becomes more tragic with each passing day.

  4. T.D. Jakes said-- "Contrary to popular opinion, forgiveness is innate and unforgiveness is learned from our environment, says T.D. Jakes, pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House in Dallas and New York Times bestselling author.

    "We develop our propensity to forgive or not to forgive by what we see illustrated at the early ages of our development. We don't come here unforgiving."

    Contrary to what Jakes has said, it's "common" forgiveness but it's not the true forgiveness that only comes about at the cross. True forgiveness only happens the moment we repent and God forgives us of our sins against him.

    I know this to be all so true because of some horrible things that happened to me before I was saved. The person who hurt me I used to hate and although I could forgive in a human level with the lip service in my heart my hate for the person and vengeance did not change.
    ONLY when God saved me and forgave me of my sins was I for the first time in my life able to truly forgive that person from my heart and all the anger, bitterness and hate was GONE.

    What T.D. Jakes has said that "forgiveness is innate" is absolute blasphemy against God and he has no clue whatsoever about true forgiveness. we are utterly abject and wicked at heart and forgiveness is not innate but supernatural from God the moment we go to the cross and are forgiven FIRST by GOD!

  5. This open embrace of prosperity pimping and modalism is a heritage of James MacDonald and the thing he will be remembered for... Sad but a testament to a pride of uncorrectable, pompous and machiavellian man who destroyed what he was given.

  6. it is sad Despeville. Credibility, So easy to lose so difficult to regain.

    Sounds kinda like Esau selling out his birthright for a pot of stew

  7. one more thing,,

    about these prosperity Gospel spewers,, ever notice how they always mishandle and divide God's word improperly? It's always about "prosperity"-$$'s for them and it's always those select verses. Why don't they use verses that warn us about money and trying to gain riches on this earth??

    Pr.10:2 Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death

    Pr. 11:4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

    Pr. 17:16 Of what use is money in the hands of a fool since he has no desire to get wisdom.

    Pr. 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

    I recon it would mess up their agenda

  8. Great points Linda and spot on. Spot on.


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