25 June 2012

T.D. Jakes, HGAAA and the Lingering Questions of ER2

No doubt many are weary of the T.D. Jakes modalism debate. Is he or isn't he? Does it even matter? Well, the first question is a rather important one, especially in light of what follows. The second question can be answered emphatically right now: Yes, it does matter. It matters because prominent Christian leaders have embraced T.D. Jakes as orthodox. Regardless of what they may say, this acceptance is a type of endorsement. Thus, if T.D. Jakes is a modalist (in addition to being a preacher of heretical Word Faith teachings), then the endorsement of men like James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll could cause countless numbers to stumble and be led into deception if they begin to follow the teachings of T.D. Jakes. Is such a statement an overreaction? That is up to the reader to decide.

In September 2011, when it was the mere invitation of T.D. Jakes to participate in the Elephant Room 2 (ER2) that was causing controversy, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel emphatically stated on his blog, "I do not agree that T.D. Jakes is a Modalist." Two days later, he explained further,
I believe modalism is unbiblical and clearly outside confessionalism, but I do not believe it represents Bishop T.D. Jakes’ current thinking. Whether I am right or wrong is something that will be discovered in the Elephant Room. (Source)
The outcome of this debate was discovered in ER2, however it amounted to T.D. Jakes essentially stating that he is a Trinitarian Modalist, and James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll allowed such obfuscation to pass.

Following ER2, MacDonald would take to the airwaves to continue to defend T.D. Jakes. In an episode of The Morning Ride with Mark Elfstrand on Moody Radio, MacDonald would authoritatively state, "I don't believe he's [Jakes] a modalist." This conclusion, according to MacDonald, is based upon Jakes' answers to Driscoll's questions in the Elephant Room 2. MacDonald says, "[Jakes] didn't get an A+ on the exam, but he didn't get a B either." 

With this acceptance of a known prosperity preacher and alleged modalist into the mainstream, Driscoll and MacDonald gave the visible church a gigantic shove down the slippery slope of compromise. Even Southern Baptist pastor Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church affirmed Jakes' alleged orthodoxy, as he stated at ER2:
You know, I’ve been friends with Bishop Jakes for the last ten years. We started praying together in a public forum to unite our church. We’re gonna talk a little bit more about that when we get to the race question. But, I’ve found in him all these years consistency in what he has said and who he is and what he believes. And, that’s why it’s been amazing to me that these questions keep coming up. So I hope that, for anyone who wants to listen, that this puts to rest a lot of this jive that’s going on about this Trinitarian issue. (Source)
The effects of ER2 still are being felt today and likely will continue to be felt for quite some time.

In the case of T.D. Jakes, it is important to note that, prior to his invitation to ER2, and thus prior to James MacDonald's statements in September 2011, Jakes held the esteemed position of Vice-Prelate of Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies (HGAAA), which is a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches. Based upon this screen capture from the website of T.D. Jakes Ministries in the year 2000Jakes has been involved with HGAAA from the early years of his ministry.
In fact, in June of 2011, just a few months before the public was made aware that Jakes had been extended an invitation to ER2, he preached the following at HGAAA's Holy Convocation:

Yet, what is perhaps more interesting is that, as of the writing of this post, T.D. Jakes continues to hold the office of Vice-Prelate of HGAAA.


If T.D. Jakes affirms the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, as James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll seem to think he does, then why would he continue in this position? Further, why would he have spent a few days this past week in New Orleans at the 2012 Holy Convocation?

While videos of this event are not available as of the time of this writing, HGAAA did post some photos to their Facebook page which confirm Jakes' presence at the event.

In light of this evidence, one has to wonder if James MacDonald still would assert that he does not believe Jakes is a modalist.

Interestingly, also speaking at the HGAAA 2012 Holy Convocation was Sheryl Brady, who is the pastrix at Jakes' church affiliate, The Potter's House North Dallas. Jakes has nothing but the highest praise for this woman, whom he refers to as "one of [his] daughters."

Apparently the fact that Brady is in direct violation of the Word of God by exercising the authority of a pastor does not matter to T.D. Jakes. But then, T.D. Jakes has a history of affirming pastrixes. Paula White even considers Jakes to be her spiritual father.

Pastrix Sheryl Brady and her husband, bishop Joby Brady are also founders and overseers of The River Church in Durham, NC. However, after establishing this church, they found themselves following T.D. Jakes to Dallas, where Jakes himself installed the Bradys as pastors at The Potter's House North Dallas:

Just as HGAAA has not released video of Jakes preaching at this year's Holy Convocation, so have we not yet seen footage of Sheryl Brady's message. Again, though, HGAAA posted some rather interesting photos to their Facebook page, thus confirming her appearance at the event:

As we began this post with questions, let us end with a few more. 

For T.D. Jakes: Why do you continue to hold office in a Oneness Pentecostal organization if you actually affirm the biblical doctrine of the Trinity? Why do you support and promote female pastors when Scripture clearly teaches against such a thing? Why do continue to preach a heretical prosperity gospel?

For James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll and even Jack Graham: Do you continue to embrace as orthodox T.D. Jakes and his ministry, even though he has shown no repentance of the Modalism that he supposedly has rejected? Do you have any concerns regarding his close involvement with HGAAA? Does it disturb you that Jakes has not yet repented of nor ceased preaching the heretical prosperity gospel? Is it acceptable to you that this man, whom you have celebrated, supports and affirms female pastors who are in direct violation of the Word of God?

And, just for good measure, one might like also to ask of MacDonald and Driscoll: Do you believe that your acceptance of T.D. Jakes in ER2, and your praise of his ministry, has been fruitful for the body of Christ? If so, what kind of fruit do you believe this has yielded? 
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. (Luke 6:43-44a)

Further Reading


  1. "Regardless of what they may say, this acceptance is a type of endorsement." I appreciate your willingness to qualify it as a "type" of endorsement. But Pastor James has repeatedly made statements that make it clear that he endorses the Bishop Jakes (no qualifier necessary). Two such examples:

    Surely Pastor James endorses those who have "biblical solidity".

    ...and wouldn't Pastor James endorse someone whom he loves and has been incredibly blessed by?

    But I suppose that unless he used the phrase "I endorse fill-in-the-blank" he wouldn't consider anything he says or does an endorsement.

    1. B-Train,
      I wouldn't disagree with you at all, and I appreciate the examples you provided.

    2. If , as John Macarthur states,...the GREATEST NEED in the church is for " discernment ", then men like James Macdonald will likely be able to continue to fool the overwhelming vast majority of those who "go to church".

      Just the way he likes it.

  2. But this is why James MacDonald argued so vehemently that participation with Jakes, Furtick, Noble, etc., in conferences and events doesn't amount to "endorsement" on his part. It allowed him to do as he desired to do - pal around with these guys - and still stand in front of his church and say "That doesn't mean I endorse them."

    Honestly, this has become a real problem... I think Ephesians 5 is clear about this where it says "have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them..."

    Additionally, I think that Matt Chandler makes the same mistakes when he takes speaking engagements like he did this past year with the "Code Orange Revival." His participation gives Furtick credibility and is tantamount to an endorsement of his ministry. Same thing regarding Perry Noble's upcoming Leadership Conference in September... I really wish Matt would use some wisdom and see that his participation with these kind of guys just muddies the waters and brings confusion.

    Mark Dever's response to his invitation to ER2 is the way to go and follows the Biblical model - once he found out that a heretic, modalist, prosperity-Gospel pimp was participating, he refused to participate. And I think the Biblical response - "have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness" - is the Biblical response.

  3. ... Brady is in direct violation of the Word of God by exercising the authority of a pastor..."

    I'm sorry, but as a Bible-believing Christian I must respectfully disagree with you here. (This is not an endorsement of Jakes, Brady, or anyone else). My view is that the Bible teaches that leadership roles in the church, including the office of pastor, are open to men and women equally according to their calling. For a detailed scriptural justification of this approach, see, for example, "Women in the Church's Ministry: A Test Case for Biblical Interpretation" by British theologian RT France.

    I have no problem with you holding Jakes to account for his modalism and prosperity teaching, but, please, the egalitarian approach to ministry is an accepted evangelical position and I'd encourage you to appreciate this in your future writings.

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for your gracious tone, but I'm afraid I have to disagree. Scripture is quite clear in its prohibition of female pastors. I'd encourage you to read and study 1 Timothy 2 & 3 and the first chapter of Titus.

      Further, as regards this particular situation, neither MacDonald nor Driscoll affirm women as pastors, thus making their endorsement of Jakes, a man who not only endorses but celebrates female pastors, all the more confusing.

    2. 1. Please explain how a woman can be the husband of one wife?
      2. Since when was submission to your husband a qualification to exercise authority over men?
      3. How do you preach as a pastor while keeping silent in the church?

      I haven't bothered to give you scripture references since you are a "Bible believing" Christian and should know them by heart and studied them in the Greek. I am assuming that you are not just a Pharisee who quotes an ecclesiastical "father" as an authoritative source. I also assume that since you proudly display the badge of being "Bible believing" that you will not trot out the higher critical arguments of enculturation, cultural relativism and accommodation.

      I won't congratulate you for your winsomeness since there's very little difference between winsomeness and wiliness when truth is absent. The most winsome person in the Bible succeeded in using a fruit to encourage rebellion. And I won't give you the Scripture reference on that either since you are a "Bible believing" Christian who must know the Scripture.

      Better the intellectual honesty of a man who knows the Bible but openly declares that he does not believe it then the vacuity of a man who says he believes the Bible but does not know it.

      Dr. Gus Gianello, Th.D

  4. well david that may be your view but is wrong according to scripture. you say the notion of women as pastor is "accepted." this is just the point of the article. Just because a few say something is accepted does not make it so, especially in the confused American church today. It is interesting that you had to go to a British theologian to find someone who agrees with your view. There are certainly plenty of American theologians today, not to mention the vast majority of theologians of the past, that would NOT support women in a pastoral role as being biblical. In any case, search in vain for any biblical support among the many scriptures that address leadership in the church. YOu will not find women pastors, in fact you will find Paul saying I DO NOT permit a woman to teach men.

  5. Hey David, how long has it been since you read both of Paul's letters to Timothy and the one to Titus as well? Women "pastors" are not allowed and it is safe to say that they are a stench in the nostils of God. That goes for the other heresies that are being pushed upon the church today. It seems like every body has their pet heresy that needs church acceptance. John MacA is so correct in his statement that the church lacks discernment. Any one that finds a WWJD hat can put it on, claim to be a Christian and in less than six months they are the pastor of a mega church---who woulda thought?


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