David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology.

Tag: Elephant Room

Carl Trueman on the Nature of ‘Celebrity’ and the Church

Carl Trueman has posted some very insightful thoughts on the nature of ‘celebrity’ in culture generally and its impact on the church specifically. He had a good bit of push back while making many good points. I’ve included Thabiti Anyabwile’s push back. As I find them I am posting them here for future reference since this is a very fascinating subject. This has made me consider the many ways in which I fall victim to this thinking at present and affects my argumentation (i.e. appeal to authority, that is, whoever is a well-known voice rather than arguing it on its own terms). This is an important subject in relation to the church, because the craving for being known and accepted by the larger world is strong. The onslaught of ‘celebrity’ has engulfed evangelicalism to a great degree to where we rely now on lesser popes and personalities instead of the ordinary means of the local church for transformation: the word preached, prayer and the sacraments.

Precursor article:

Series of articles that got it rolling:
Seperate from the stream above but related:
A case-in-point and response to Mark Driscoll over his comments to a UK radio talk show host ( < don’t endorse the aforementioned site, BTW, just had a few good illustrations about how not to engage someone and the ensuing response in the interview and on the blog itself):
More case-in-points related to the Elephant Room 2 debacle:

T4G Conference Panel:

Things That Make You Go, “Ouch”

It started with a friend calling me out on being too wrapped up in the whole ER2 thing, seeing as how I’m on the sidelines anyway (my own observation). Point taken, though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly put off for a while, in my pride. Then along came an article that drove it home for me a bit more, heard through Nathan W. Bingham.

Joe Holland writing at Ligonier makes some great points.

I would offer one qualification though (in my theological superiority, kidding :)): Jesus is God, had a specific mission, separate and distinct from ours, and could see everything in people’s hearts. We can’t. He was bringing and effecting redemption itself or bringing hardness. We can’t do either of these, other than resting upon what the Spirit does through our actions. For Jesus, there was no need to debate. He told the truth, in such terms as, “Verily I say unto you.” He didn’t “reason” with people, He just told them what they personally needed to hear to either be saved or turn away. And it was always right. It is He who had the words that brought life or condemnation. Certainly his silence does speak louder than words at times. Other times it didn’t. His words speak for themselves, coming from the great I AM become man. The times He is silent, the message is, “What more could He possibly say or do?” He is who He is, and they killed Him for it.

Certainly Jesus should be emulated in action, no doubt, in terms of His approach and words to people. However, for Jesus, He is the Savior whereas we are the saved and proclaiming Him, fallibly, as Savior to people. In distinction, just to show the difference, Paul “reasoned” with those in the Synagogues, on Mars Hill, and so on. He debated, he pursued people in tearing down their idols and offering Christ. At times this meant publicly rebuking, though certainly not to the excess we’ve seen on the “interwebs” as of late. He was called all kinds of things as a result of his pursuits in discourse.

Regardless, Joe Holland’s points are good albeit painful since I’m all too prone to excess and obsession when it comes to either controversy or theological discourse. If there is one thing I need more of in my life, it’s balance and humility.

Voddie Baucham Speaks to the Issue of Race

On the Dividing Line today, a ministry of Alpha and Omega Ministries, Voddie Baucham spoke with James White clearly and forcefully on the issue of race as it relates to the Elephant Room 2 conference that took place. He brings an angle to the controversy that has been in dire need of being “brought into the light,” as Voddie said, even way before this or any other conference: the concept, as he puts it, of “ethnic gnosticism.” He works that out in this episode of the Dividing Line. Highly recommended!

http://www.aomin.org/podcasts/20120202.mp3 (MP3)

The Fallout

A commenter named Dan McGhee at Denny Burk’s blog, coming from The Convergence, made a good insight, which I have noticed myself among pastors my age in their commentary on this whole ordeal (read below). I’m in the minority on the position I’ve taken with others my age in case you’re wondering, at least it seems to be the case. As Phil Johnson pointed out in a series of predictions he made, from a previous post, Elephant Room 2, with the invitation of T.D. Jakes was the first real test of the validity, strength and sustainability of the Young, Restless, Reformed movement in the face of doctrinal error. It appears to me it has failed primarily by succumbing to the lure of postmodernism in discourse. This is very unfortunate and I pray it can be changed. Unfortunately, if we learn anything from church history, it’s that seemingly innocuous decisions, even when done with well-meaning intentions (as I believe they were), have very serious consequences and implications [bold, italicized font mine]:

Denny, the damage that ER2 has done in the overall body of Christ is going to be felt in the years to come. Already I am hearing of conversations with younger, impressionable, college-aged men, who are headed for ministry and currently in Bible college studying for ministry, who are now wondering “What’s the big deal? TD Jakes affirmed the trinity.”

For the life of me I can’t understand how otherwise solid men can’t see how this is going to lead to Jakes’ prosperity-theology being main-streamed into the evangelical church in the years to come. Not to mention, the idea that oneness theology and trinitarian theology “aren’t really that far apart because it’s only a matter of semantics” is now firmly planted into the soil of evangelicalism. Make no mistake, this thinking will sprout, grow, and spread in the days to come.

All of this is the result of men being ENAMORED with mega-church pastor successes (numerically), which of course, is now being defined as “fruitfulness.” Obedience to 2 John 7-10 could have spared the church of Jesus Christ must damage that will no doubt result, and already is.

Mark Driscoll, The Elephant Room, and Why I Left Acts 29…

Some of the Best Posts on the Elephant Room Debacle So Far

What Was the Point of the Elephant Room Forum? – Phil Johnson and Todd Friel

Phil Johnson was right on in his predictions, that much is for sure. On the other side though, Phil also addresses hyper-seperationism and those taking upon themselves discernment ministry unwisely to a unproductive and in many cases destructive degree. In this, many have a proper critique of us who critique, and Phil actually expounds upon this matter better than some who criticize us for criticizing. Anyway, point duly noted.

On Proper Discourse

I’m absolutely all for having “conversations” with those outside orthodoxy. But to have fellow “orthodoxians” castigate people who have serious theological questions downgrades the very discourse that would bring light and truth, the very truth that leads to Christ. The church should be an example of proper discourse (like the Bethke/DeYoung exchange) not the one’s emulating the world in shutting it down in the name of Rodney King’s mantra, “Can’t we all just get along?” There are serious issues at stake in these debates.

It is not enough that T.D. Jakes said, yes, I affirm, “One God – Three Persons.” He qualifies this affirmation and it is that qualification that speaks volumes, inviting more questions, questions that weren’t asked, questions that won’t be answered in all likelihood.

I’ve seen responses to those with questions stating that we shouldn’t attack the darkness but just bring light. My response? The Book of Jude. That whole letter is only about shining light on the darkness, attacking the darkness with the light. You do this through positive proclamation of truth (Ephesians 1-3), but also discourse that isn’t afraid of a debate (Paul taking Peter to task, Mars Hill debates, Jewish leaders).

Paul took the leaders to task everywhere he went, even going to Mars Hill to debate them, on their own turf. The Western world’s doctrine of positivism (that negation is evil) is making deeper inroads in evangelicalism and manifesting (no pun intended) itself in different ways. This has been there for a while, but the latest Elephant Room conversation has only brought it to the surface.

A Question for T.D. Jakes

After reading a portion of T.D. Jakes’ responses to questions regarding his views on the Trinity on the Elephant Room 2, I’m not so convinced we Trinitarians are on the same page with him as so many are readily assuming. He says he assents to, “One God, Three Persons,” as a good definition for his beliefs of the nature of the Godhead. This settles it for many since they take him at his word. However, something else should be pointed out. He then immediately qualifies this to say, “I am not crazy about the word person … My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word…Manifest instead of persons.”

Based upon this, I have a question for the Bishop. The Athanasian Creed: was this even necessary to hash out based upon your view that this is a non-issue or not worthy of dispute between “believers”? (If any of you are not familiar with this statement of faith or others, they are well worth your time, I would even say necessary for every believer to absorb since this is the foundation of what we believe).

This issue of manifestation versus person, terms hashed out to define precisely what we mean when talking about the very nature of God as revealed in Scripture is the exact thing being discussed by Jakes as non-essential (or at least not worthy of dispute). This was a major issue that was fought over between the unorthodox and the orthodox in the early church. The views of Athanasius, the Cappadocian fathers and others were not formed in a vacuum apart from hard work and persecution over a long period of time. Was all of that necessary if we can just flippantly say, “Well, we mean the same thing, just different words?” The reason it was even an issue that had to be contended for was precisely because heresy had arisen in contradistinction from Scripture. And those very heresies led people away from The Gospel, which brings us to Jesus for eternity. In other words, heresy murders for eternity. This is not unimportant.

Theology matters. The instincts of many to just set aside major differences with Jakes as big as the Trinity of all things (let alone the Health and Wealth heresy of TBN Jakes’ subscribes to that has been so utterly destructive to so many) is unwise. I desire for Jakes to embrace truth and of course I care about him and desire for him to turn from falsehood. This issue is as much about him as a person as the untruth he is teaching.

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