17 June 2012

Vice-Prelate T.D. Jakes to Speak at 'Holy Convocation' of Oneness Pentecostal Organization

At the Elephant Room 2 (ER2) event, which took place in January 2012, evangelical Christianity gained a stunning amount of momentum in its slippery slide down the slope of compromise. As two prominent Christian pastors embraced one of the leading prosperity preachers of our day, we witnessed a visible mainstreaming of the heretical gospel of Word Faith. Unfortunately, this is not the only heresy that was accepted that day. In fact, the prosperity gospel of T.D. Jakes was ignored at ER2. What was of more importance to James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, who were co-hosts of the event, was to prove to the Church that T.D. Jakes was not, as he had been accused of for years, a Modalist.

According to Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry,
Modalism states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms. Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son and after Jesus' ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous. In other words, this view states that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another. Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the three persons in the Trinity even though it retains the divinity of Christ. (Source)
In short, Modalism ultimately denies the Trinitarian nature of God as revealed in holy Scripture. It is a heresy, and not even a cry for "unity" ought to allow it to be accepted as orthodox Christianity.

Modalists typically use the term "manifestations" when referring to the three persons of the Trinity. Such language has been on the website of T.D. Jakes' church, The Potter's House, for some time and remains there as of the writing of this post:

Yet, as far back as September 2011, when Jakes initially was invited to ER2 and the controversy ensued, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel declared that he did not "agree" that T.D. Jakes was a Modalist. Two days following that declaration on his blog, MacDonald wrote:
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)
So, it is obvious that MacDonald intended for the Modalism controversy to be resolved in ER2. Once the day of ER2 finally arrived, those who were allowed to watch the event heard Mark Driscoll question Jakes regarding the allegations of Modalism. Part of the conversation went as follows:
Driscoll: We all would agree that in the nature of God there is mystery, and it’s like a dimmer switch: how much certainty, how much mystery. But within that, Bishop Jakes, for you the issue between Trinitarianism and Modalism at its essence is is one God manifesting Himself successively in three ways? Or one God three persons simultaneously existing eternally – so, your best What is your understanding now? And I understand, there is some mystery – for sure. Would you say its One God manifesting Himself in three ways, or One God in three persons?
Jakes: I believe that neither one of them totally did it for me, but the latter one is where I stand today.
Driscoll: One God Three Persons?
Jakes: One God – Three Persons. One God – Three Persons, and here is why…there… I am not crazy about the word persons this is…most people who follow me know that that is really. My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word…
Driscoll: “manifestations”
Jakes: Manifest instead of persons. Which you describe as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline. When I read…let me show you what I’m talking about…when I read I Timothy 3:16 – I didn’t create this, Paul did: “And without controversy” which I think we have…we have been bickering about something which Paul describes as a mystery, and I don’t think we should do that. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. For God was manifest in the flesh.” Now Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it is robbery to the divinity of God to think God was manifest in the flesh. And I think maybe it’s semantics, because [garbled], but Paul says this before this fight was started. But He also says he “was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, believed in the world, and received up into glory.” Now, when we start talking about that sort of thing, I think that it is important that we realize that there are distinctives between the Father and the working of the Son. the Father didn’t bleed, the Father didn’t die, only a different person in Jesus Christ…is coming back for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is with us, but only indwells us through the person of the Holy Spirit; we are baptized into the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think any of that is objectionable to any of the three of us. So that is consistent with my belief system. I’m with you. I have been with you. I teach/preach that all the time. There are many people within and outside quote unquote denominations labeled Oneness that would describe that the same way. There are some that would not. But when we get to know people by their labels, then comes all the baggage of how we define that label. And we miss…it’s almost like the stereotypical ideologies we have about races. We have ideas about denominations and movements. The reason I’m proud of what you said earlier about people who have dual affiliations: We are taught in society that if we disagree with any movement, we leave. We sever. Oh, you said something I disagree with we fall out and then we walk away. I still have fellowship, associations, relationship, and positions within and without Trinitarian and Onenness movements. Because I believe that until we bridge the gap between our thinking and humble both sides and say, “We are both attempting to describe a God we love, that we serve, and that we have not seen. And that we are viewing Him through the context of the Scriptures, but that with a glass darkly.” Why should I fall out and hate and throw names at you when all that I know and understand, be it very orthodox, is still through a glass darkly? and then face to face – None of our books about the Godhead or anything else will be on sale in heaven. You know why? Because we’re only authorities down here, with our little kingdoms in this world. I think it’s important that we realize that our God is beyond our intellect. And if you can define Him and completely describe Him and say you are the end-all definition of who God is, then He ceases to be God. Because the reason Paul says it is a mystery, is that we deify the fact that God does things that don’t fit our formulas. And because people’s formulas and understandings of a description of an unbiblical God did doesn’t make them demonic. (Source)
It seems that James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll did not realize that they may very well have been duped by Jakes, who is a careful and skilled communicator. Yes, he affirmed "3 persons," but still prefers to use the language of Modalism. Jakes' use of 1 Timothy 3:16 especially ought to cause one to wonder if he truly has abandoned his Oneness roots, as this is a common "go to" verse for the Modalist argument. It is suggested that the reader take time to listen to this discussion between James White and Voddie Baucham, as it will shed a great deal of light on what precisely T.D. Jakes was saying in his response.

Nevertheless, the men participating in the panel that day at ER2 appeared to be convinced by Jakes' argument. Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas, would say:
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)
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." 

It is settled, then: T.D. Jakes is not a Modalist. Right? Well, if this is true, then some questions remain. Such as, why is T.D. Jakes still the Vice-Prelate of Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, Inc. (HGAAA)?
HGAAA is a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches, thus meaning that the organization necessarily would hold to a modalist definition of the Trinity. Based upon this capture from the website of T.D. Jakes Ministries in the year 2000, Jakes has been involved with HGAAA from the early years of his ministry.
Though a Statement of Faith appears to be absent from the HGAAA website, on 5 January 2012, Mark Lamprecht of Here I Blog confirmed that HGAAA still indeed is Oneness in its beliefs:
T.D. Jakes has long been affiliated with the organization Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies (HGAAA). On their Facebook page I asked (screenshot below), “Is T.D. Jakes still the Vice-Prelate of Higher Ground? Also, is Higher Ground still Oneness in their theology of the Godhead?” 
The answer from Timothy Starkey was “Yes and yes.” Yet who is Mr. Starkey? The West Virginia & East Tennessee Council of Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. lists Mr. Starkey as “Minister Timothy Starkey” of the “United Apostolic Faith Church.” This Council is a Oneness organization as evidenced by their statement of faith which states, “There is but one GOD in essence and in person” who is the triune manifestation, the divine three-fold manifestation and relationship.”
This appears to confirm where HGAAA stands on their doctrine of the Trinity. Yet, why would T.D. Jakes, who supposedly affirmed the biblical doctrine of the Trinity at ER2, continue to act as Vice-Prelate of HGAAA? Further, why would he be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming national convention, which is scheduled to take place on 19–22 June?
It seems odd that Jakes would retain such an eminent role at HGAAA, and headline at the national event, if he disagreed with something as major as the doctrine of the Trinity.

Interestingly, another speaker at HGAAA's upcoming Holy Convocation is pastrix Sheryl Brady. Brady, along with her husband, "Bishop" Joby Brady, is pastor at the North Dallas location of T.D. Jakes' church, The Potter's House. According to the website, Sheryl Brady is
A pastor, lecturer and recording artist, Pastor Brady has traveled extensively around the globe for more than 25 years, previously as a psalmist and now as a speaker at conferences and churches. Her gift of delivering spiritual wisdom has positioned her as a sought after conference speaker and featured guest on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Daystar Television Network, The Word Network and The Inspiration Network. She has also served as a speaker at numerous conferences including the internationally-acclaimed MegaFest and was the first female speaker ever at ManPower 2010, the men’s only conference hosted by Bishop T. D. Jakes. (Source)
Pastrix Brady most certainly is revered by T.D. Jakes, as is evident from the video below, wherein Jakes refers to Brady as "one of my daughters."

Clearly Sheryl Brady is a dynamic speaker. Perhaps that is why she has gained the adoration of another up and coming pastrix, Christine Caine, who on 15 June would tweet:

Perhaps it is preaching like this that Caine finds so electrifying and Jakes finds so praiseworthy:

Returning to the main trajectory of this post, however, it is clear that there are questions that need to be answered.

Of T.D. Jakes one might ask: If you affirm the biblical doctrine of the Trinity, then why do you continue to hold office in a Oneness organization?

Of James MacDonald, who so staunchly has defended Jakes for so long, it may be asked: Do you continue to not believe that T.D. Jakes is a Modalist? Do you have any concerns regarding his close involvement with HGAAA?

Of both James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, one may ask: Do you continue to embrace as orthodox T.D. Jakes and his ministry, even though he has shown no repentance of his Modalism and has not ceased preaching the heretical prosperity gospel? Do you continue to accept a man who 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 created?
“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)
More and more it seems that the battlecry of today's visible church is "Unity at All Costs," even at the expense of Truth. Yet when it comes to the nature of God, and when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, truth must trump unity at every turn. Perhaps it is appropriate that the Elephant Room has come to be known as ER. It has, after all, sent the Church into a state of emergency.

"Code Orange" Speaker Bishop T.D. Jakes
The Elephant Room Continues to Stomp on its Critics
"We Can Work It Out": Is James MacDonald Qualified to Have this Conversation?
Did James MacDonald "Learn a Ton" from T.D. Jakes?

1 comment:

  1. I hate myself for watching that clip of "Preacher" Sheryl Brady. I knew better and I did it anyway. How to get those images and that noise out of my mind???

    Is the church in a state of emergency? Absolutely.


Please keep it pithy (in other words, if your comment is long enough to be its own blog post, don't bother), pertinent (please don't go off-topic), and respectful (to the author, to the other readers, and to the subject of the post). If you can't do that, your comment will not be posted.

If you haven't already, please read the Comment Policy in its entirety.