The Elephant Room is a dialogue forum invented in 2011 by emerging star Mark Driscoll, together with James MacDonald, Steven Furtick, David Platt, Matt Chandler, Greg Laurie, and Perry Noble.
The stated objective is to discuss controversial doctrinal issues with “guests from all places and belief systems” with the goal of theological sharpening.
THE ELEPHANT ROOM AND HEGELIAN DIALECTICS
Digging a little further, we see that the real objective is ecumenism. Driscoll and friends say plainly that their “goal is unity” and that they are opposed to “crouching behind walls of disagreement.” Though they claim to “hold the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity,” in typical emerging style they contradict this by saying we should “not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently.” There is a Hegelian dialectic at work here. By having public “conversations” with people who “offend you or deny the faith as you see it,” walls are broken down and attitudes are changed.
At first we are shocked by theological error, but through dialogue with heretics the very concept of heresy becomes quaint. Through the Elephant Room we learn that “heretics” are likable people who “love Jesus” and merely have another way of looking at things. We are told that we all “see through a glass darkly,” so no one can claim a corner on the truth. Therefore, instead of separating and condemning, let’s relax and dialogue.
The apostle Paul was so old-fashioned and non-emerging when he persisted in pronouncing God’s curse on the Galatian heretics instead of inviting them to a dialogue. Apparently he just wasn’t clever enough. And he certainly wasn’t cool enough to build a big church in Seattle.
(See also “Hegelian Dialectics: The Devil’s Winning Tool” at the Way of Life web site. There is a search engine.)
T.D. JAKES IN THE ELEPHANT ROOM
In the most recent Elephant Room conversation, which was held at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, in January 2011, Mark Driscoll and friends gave prosperity gospel preacher T.D. Jakes a forum to smokescreen his compromise pertaining to the fundamental doctrine of the Trinity.
Mr. Jakes, who is a master of facing two ways and for whom someone like Driscoll and MacDonald are pushovers, said on one hand that he has moved away from a Oneness, “Jesus Only” view to embrace the Trinity as “one God, three Persons.” But he hastened to say that he still “prefers” the term “manifestations,” believes that men on both sides of the issue are “saying the same thing,” and has fellowship with those on all sides. He issued no repentance that he admittedly preached Oneness heresy for years. In fact, he is still at least sympathetic to Oneness theology, still defends its unscriptural terminology (by the misuse of 1 Timothy 3:16, for example), still falsely claims that this doctrine is an issue of “seeing through a glass darkly” and thus no one has it right, and refuses to obey the Bible by separating from heretics. In fact, he’s not sure there are any heretics, and he’s far too busy promoting unity to worry much about them, even if they exist.
Far from challenging Jakes in a serious way, a pathetically fawning Driscoll and MacDonald treated the man like a religious rock star. They were so busy praising him as a man of “courage and humility” that they gave him a pass on the aforementioned contradictions and didn’t challenge his sloppy biblical exegesis. So much for boldly unveiling the “elephants.”
ELEPHANTS THAT ARE INVISIBLE IN THE ELEPHANT ROOM
In typical Emerging New Evangelical fashion, there are lots of elephants that will always be invisible in Driscoll’s Elephant Room.
Consider the elephant of biblical separatism. God’s Word clearly demands separation from false teaching and end-time apostasy and even from compromise by true brethren (e.g., Romans 16:17; 21 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Thessalonians 3:13-14; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 John 10-11; Revelation 18:4), but Driscoll and friends ignore this injunction. Separatism is a foreign concept to them, as it interferes with their unity/friendship/kingdom building agenda.
Consider the elephant of “cultural liberalism,” which is espoused by Driscoll. He claims to be “theologically conservative and culturally liberal,” which is a contradiction of terms, but the emerging crowd has learned the fine art of holding contradictions in harmony.
Cultural liberalism means that Driscoll is free to drink deeply of the pop culture and to baptize huge elements of it in his church, such as Christianizing filthy rock & roll, imitating the world’s sensual fashions, traveling to Las Vegas to attend Extreme Fighting championships, having champagne dance parties, hosting a secular rock theater, and writing X-rated sex books.
These and many other elephants won’t be discussed in the Elephant Room for the simple fact that it is not possible to see an elephant when you have been flattened by it.
PASTOR LOOSES SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT FOR DISAGREEING WITH ELEPHANT ROOM
The movers and shakers of the Elephant Room claim that it is all about promoting dialogue, but the treatment of a pastor in their own circles who protested Jakes’ appearance proves that it is all about ecumenical unity. In an ecumenical atmosphere, you aren’t allowed to “judge” or “criticize.” You can hold private opinions but you must not express them in a disruptive way, and if you do you are marked as a troublemaker.
Pastor Voddie Baucham of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, learned this recently. To his credit this he spoke out against Jake’s appearance in no uncertain terms and refused an invitation to participate in the Elephant Room conversation.
In fact, this Southern Baptist pastor was bolder in his stand for truth, at least in this particular context, than a lot of milk toast Independent Baptists preachers who are keeping quiet in the face of the greatest spiritual war that has ever faced them. In his blog, Baucham rightly identified Jakes’ “masterful dodge” on questions pertaining to the Trinity, but he went further and warned of Jakes’ Word-Faith heresy which was another elephant that was totally ignored in the Elephant Room. Baucham wrote:
“Having studied the ‘Word of Faith’ movement, and seen the devastation it leaves in its wake, I was disinclined to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the man who has been this country’s most popular purveyor of this heresy in the past two decades. ... [Jakes] has brought a charismatic, theatrical, excessive, ‘Word of Faith’ flavor to the city [Dallas] that permeates many churches (especially black churches)” (“Texas Pastor Reveals Rift,” Christian Post, Jan. 30, 2012).
Elephant Room leader James MacDonald took offense at this outspoken criticism of his dialogue partner Jakes, even though Baucham was speaking the truth, and when Baucham arrived at MacDonald’s church for a previously scheduled preaching engagement at a men’s conference, he was informed that he had been cancelled. “MacDonald had already selected Baucham’s replacement as a speaker, and Baucham and his assistant were escorted to a waiting car and taken back to the airport” (Christian Post, Jan. 30, 2012).
I have been treated the same way by some Independent Baptists who have gotten too big for their britches and who mistake godly reproof for cheap gossip and who can’t countenance the truth.
(We deal extensively with the Word-Faith heresy in the illustrated book The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements, which is available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature -- www.wayoflife.org.)
SEEING THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY
At the January 2012 Elephant Room dialogue, T.D. Jakes claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of “seeing through a glass darkly,” and the men who conducted the dialogue agreed with him. Jakes said, “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?”
Jakes was referring to 1 Corinthians 13:12, which says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Jakes is abusing this Scripture by applying it to Bible doctrine. Paul was talking about the fact that we don’t have full knowledge of everything we would like to know. He was most definitely NOT referring to Bible doctrine, which is bright light rather than dark glass. The things God has revealed, we can know for sure and we can understand by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Deut. 29:29). It is only the things that God has not revealed that we cannot yet know.
Jakes’ reference to “hate” is typical ecumenical-speak. In the ecumenist’s mind, to earnestly defend the faith and reprove heretics is “hate,” but if this is hate, then the apostle Paul and the apostle John and the apostle Peter and Jude and all of the prophets of old were great haters!
Jakes said further, “I think it’s so 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.”
No one is saying that we can define God completely. That is a ridiculous straw man. The real issue is that God has revealed certain things about Himself in Scripture, and the question is whether we are going to believe what He has revealed and take a stand for it, or not.
Paul told Timothy that men can rightly divide the Word of God and that we will be held accountable before God for doing so (2 Timothy 2:15).
Jakes further said, “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.”
Here Jakes grossly misdefines the New Testament term “mystery” and none of the Elephant Room theologians called him on it. Paul plainly and consistently defined “mystery” as a doctrine that was hidden in Old Testament times but is now revealed. “... the mystery ... which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:3-5). See also Romans 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26.
The Elephant Room outfit is the blind leading the blind; they can’t even see the elephants!
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