False Doctrine Destroys Christian Unity

Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers:

I do not pray for these [my disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:20–23

Notice that immediately prior to these words, Christ prayed:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:17–19

The context of Jesus’ prayer for the unity of those who would believe in Him is the sanctifying truth of God’s word – the very word that the Apostles subsequently delivered to the Church, and through which we now believe in Christ.

Through that word, we are being made ‘perfect in one’ – the word of God itself creates Christian unity. And through that uniting and perfecting word, we know that the Father sent His Son to die in our place, that the Father loves us for the sake of His Son and puts His righteousness to our account. Through God’s word, those who believe it have confidence that:

having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1–2

God’s word, then, is essential to our Christian faith. We hunger for sound doctrine, because sound doctrine is nothing other than that word, faithfully delivered.

The Christian life depends upon sound doctrine. But is it harmful to Christian unity to rebuke false doctrine and separate from those who wilfully assist in its propagation? Some seem to think so. Yet Christians are nowhere in Scripture called to unite around false doctrine or practice, but to reject error and instead speak the truth in love to one another. We are to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which as once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).

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Momentum Gathers as Third Harvest Bible Fellowship Church Dissociates Over ER2

The Elder Board of Harvest Bible Chapel New Lenox has announced its decision to dissociate from Elephant Room 2 organizer James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Fellowship. In a forthright and Biblically rooted statement, the elders explained that their decision was based upon MacDonald’s doctrinal ‘leniency’ and mishandling of ER2:

Jakes’ position on the Trinity ultimately is not the issue. Rather, the problem is HBF and Pastor MacDonald’s not correcting or rebuking the false teaching presented in ER2. Pastor MacDonald’s doctrinal tolerance and leniency before, during, and after the ER2 is at the heart of our departure from HBF. Pastor MacDonald’s subsequent defenses of the ER2 on his website and on Moody Radio lead us to conclude that this change in direction established is part of the future ministry of HBF. Grievously, doctrinal leniency and disregard for proper theological examination from the pastors present marked the event.

HBC New Lenox joins HBC Prescott and HBC Detroit West, who recently also separated from MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Fellowship. Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield similarly left the Acts 29 network founded by ER2 moderator Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

The full statement by the elders of HBC New Lenox is available here:

Second Harvest Bible Fellowship Church Dissociates Over ER2

The elders of Harvest Bible Chapel of Prescott have published a gracious and thoroughly Biblical explanation of why their congregation has dissociated from Elephant Room 2 organizer James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Fellowship Chicago.

HBC Prescott’s dissociation echoes that of Harvest Bible Chapel Detroit West in January. Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield similarly left the Acts 29 network founded by ER2 moderator Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

The full statement by the elders of HBC Prescott is available here:

The human cost of T.D. Jakes’ false prosperity gospel

It’s easy to forget the human cost of false gospels. Not only in eternity – though even one lost soul is immeasurably tragic – but also in this life. Thabiti Anyabwile, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman, has posted the first-hand account of Sean, a man whose life was nearly destroyed by T.D. Jakes’ prosperity gospel. Here is Sean’s account:

I am, to be really honest here, very upset by the passé attitudes [towards Jakes] of these brothers (and pastors, I might add). I’m upset for a few reasons, but If I’m being honest, the main reason why I’m so disturbed by this is because the prosperity gospel nearly killed me. Literally. I was so sick I was on the verge of death. I was lying in a hot bath with a temperature of 96 degrees, way beyond dehydrated, and literally dying with mercury poisoning. My mother was crying over my naked body, begging me to go to the hospital for treatment. “NO!” I insisted. How could I put faith in a doctor? “God is my ultimate healer! In him alone will I place my faith!”

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Voddie Baucham accuses ER2 defenders of cult-like ‘Ethnic Gnosticism’

As the fallout from The Elephant Room 2 (ER2) continues to spread, Dr. James White, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, has interviewed Dr. Voddie Baucham on White’s The Dividing Line programme. Baucham is a black pastor of Southern Baptist Grace Family Baptist Church in the Houston area of Texas. He declined an invitation to ER2 because of Jakes’ presence.

The insightful discussion centred upon the accusations of racism made by Brian Crawford Loritts and others towards those who have spoken out against T.D. Jakes and his presence at The Elephant Room. Baucham had earlier characterized Jakes as ‘an example of the worst the black church has to offer’.

During the hour-long interview, Baucham identified the position of those trying to silence ER2’s critics as Ethnic Gnosticism, accusing them of engaging in cult-like behaviour. The term Ethnic Gnosticism refers to some hidden or secret knowledge known only to a select ethnic group. Baucham explained:

Here’s one of the things that happens. And this is the great irony: it’s almost cult like. On the one hand you can say to a person, ‘You can’t say that because you don’t understand the black community and the black experience.’

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Elephant Room 2: playing the race card, again

When an ideologue has run out of real arguments, his final desperate resort is to underhand tactics. James MacDonald, lead Elephant Room 2 agitator, has posted this video, in which the race card is again played:

Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised… gives an excellent overview:

James MacDonald interviews three African-American pastors in an attempt to ascertain their opinions on what transpired at ER2. One of these pastors was Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. Jenkins is the pastor who was brought in as Voddie Baucham’s replacement at the Harvest Men’s Conference.

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Orthodoxy, heresy and aberrancy

This article is adapted from a longer piece, Thinking about orthodoxy: defining terms and asking questions.

If we are to understand one another and avoid talking at cross purposes, it is necessary to define our terminology. Unless we do this, we risk erroneously assuming that we have understood what someone else means when they use a particular term.

I shall therefore provide several definitions that I believe are in line with generally accepted usage. In any case, you will at least know with precision what I intend when I use a word:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’

‘The question is, said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

(Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll)

Orthodoxy

The Oxford English Dictionary defines orthodox as meaning ‘right in opinion’. A person thus adheres to orthodoxy if he maintains right opinion. The word derives from two Greek words: orthos, meaning ‘straight or right’, and doxa, meaning opinion or glory. (The English word ‘doxology’ also derives from the latter; it means ‘the speaking of praise or glory’.)

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James White on the discernment gap

James White, director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, author of over 20 books, professor, accomplished debater and apologist, has posted another pertinent article, this time addressing how the defenders of the Elephant Room fiasco are ‘showing a lack of passion for God’s honor and glory’. White writes:

Reading the commentary on the Elephant Room 2 events, and in particular, the alleged rehabilitation (repentance?) of TD Jakes has truly been brought me sadness. Sure, I know that very few Evangelicals, even scholars, have much experience with modalists and Oneness advocates, but still, the general ease with which many have been taken in by such a shallow and brief discussion does not speak well of the depth of understanding of many today. It also speaks loudly to the fact that many in Evangelicalism disconnect the honor and glory of God from the truth He has revealed about Himself. That is, they do not see that to worship and honor God demands from us our utmost effort to accurately hear and to follow what He has revealed about Himself, primarily in Jesus Christ, and the holy Scriptures. To take lightly God’s self-revelation is an affront to the divine majesty, and would not be the action of a heart that is consumed with passion for its Lord.

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