This dynamic speaker grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, and was raised Baptist but switched to Pentecostal after “speaking in tongues” at a storefront Apostolic church. He was married in 1980 and has twin sons. His far-flung itinerant preaching ministry was based for many years in West Virginia, but in 1996 he moved to Texas and founded the Potter’s House, purchasing property formerly belong to W.V. Grant’s Eagle’s Nest Family Church for $3.2 million.
For the 25th anniversary of Jake’s ministry in 2001, Time magazine featured him on its cover and called him “America’s Best Preacher.” The Time article absolutely resonated in praise for Jakes: “He is a virtuoso, a prodigy. The only thing more exhilarating than the style of T.D. Jakes’ sermons is their rigor and compassion...It’s Oprah-in-a-pulpit.” The article observe that Jake’s “enthusiasts can adopt an awed tone not unlike acolytes of bebop jazz in the ‘50s or grunge in the early 1990s.”
Such praise from a worldly magazine that regularly mocks things pertaining to Jesus Christ and challenges the authority of the Bible sends up strong warning signals for Bible believers, because Jesus Christ said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). When this wicked world loves a preacher, something is wrong!
In Jakes’ case, it is not too difficult to understand his popularity. He preaches a positive, self-esteem-building message.
Jakes holds the positive-only, avoid-controversy, judge-not New Evangelical philosophy. Like New Evangelicals in general, Jakes says many good things. He can encourage discouraged women to trust in God. He can challenge selfish fathers to be the committed family men they ought to be. He can bring interesting and challenging things out of his Scripture texts. He preaches many good things. A major problem with T.D. Jakes and every other New Evangelical is not the error that he teaches but the truth that he neglects. There are so many biblical truths that he will never deal with, such as separation and sacrifice. His preaching against sin and error is in generalities.
In an interview with Charisma magazine, December 16, 1996, Jakes was asked what he believes about women as pastors. He replied: “I try to avoid setting myself up as a judge to tell anybody what God did or did not call them to do. There are many women who are celebrated as ministers: Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyer, Jackie McCullough, Dr. Iona Locke, Ernestine Reems and Iverna Tompkins. Many women are making a contribution to the body of Christ.” Thus, in regard to the hard issues, T.D. Jakes is a fence-straddler. In spite of the clear teaching of the Word of God, in spite of the fact that the apostle Paul solemnly forbade women to preach or usurp authority over men (1 Tim 2:12), Jakes refuses to judge whether it is right or wrong for a woman to be a pastor. He refuses to enter into controversy and risk destroying his popularity. Instead of basing his answer on the Word of God, he bases it on pragmatism. He points to women who appear to be successful in the ministry. In other words, if it works, it must be right.
Jakes is ecumenical. He has often spoken at Promise Keepers and other ecumenical forums, and he supported the heretic Robert Schuller.
Jakes appears with and supports the most radical of today’s charismatics, including Paul and Jan Crouch and Trinity Broadcasting Network. This is the network that has helped popularize such unscriptural practices and dangerous phenomena as hysterical laughing, spirit slaying, Christian rock & roll, healing in the atonement, and evangelical Catholicism.
Jakes himself practices the unscriptural and dangerous “spirit slaying,” whereby people are knocked to the floor, allegedly by the Holy Spirit.
In August 1995, Jakes appeared at Oral Roberts University with a lineup of some of the biggest names in the Word-faith movement, including R.W. Schambach, Lester Sumrall, and T.L. Osborn. One of Jakes’ fellow speakers at that conference was Rodney Howard-Browne, who blasphemously calls himself the “Holy Ghost bartender” because of the strange drunkenness that has manifested during his meetings.
Jakes believes in the prosperity gospel. Like many of the Trinity Broadcasting Network preachers, Jakes falsely claims that Jesus was rich and that God wants us to be rich, too. He and his wife live in a $1.7 million mansion. When raising funds for the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Jakes uses the unscriptural prosperity gospel message that has worked so well for many of the Pentecostals. He told the TBN audience that if they give to TBN, God will give them prosperity in everything, money, marriage, romance, etc.
I saw Jakes preaching on the television in 2001, and right in the midst of his preaching he began babbling away in mutterings he called “tongues.” In direct disobedience to the Bible, there was not even an attempt to interpret the “tongues.”
Jakes admits that he formerly preached “Jesus Only” or “Oneness” theology, which rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. But he still faces two ways on this important issue. In a conversation in the Elephant Room, held at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, January 2012, Jakes said on one hand that he has moved away from a Oneness 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 fellowships with those on all sides. He issued no repentance for the fact that by his own admission he 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 the issue 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.
In a 2015 interview with the Huffington Post, Jakes not only fudged about the issue of homosexuality, he also questioned the divine inspiration of Paul’s epistles, which is a fundamental error. Instead of plainly stating what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, Jakes described his views as “evolved and evolving.” To justify evolution in doctrinal and moral thinking, he used the example of the apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11, saying, “Paul spends a lot of time wrestling back and forth, trying to understand should a woman wear a head covering, should you cut your hair. I mean, they grappled back then and we’re grappling now because we’re humans and we are flawed and we’re not God” (“T.D. Jakes Comes Out for ‘Gay Rights’ and ‘LGBT Churches,” Christian News Network, Aug. 7, 2015). This is a frightful and terrible error on the part of a supposed Bible-believing pastor. Paul was not “grappling” with anything that he wrote in 1 Corinthians 11. He was writing under divine inspiration, which is why he prefaced the chapter by commending the church for keeping his teaching (1 Cor. 11:1-2). Yes, the preacher is human and not God, but the preacher has the infallible Word of God in the canon of Scripture, and he has the Spirit of God as his Interpreter, and he is solemnly commissioned to preach God’s Word without question and compromise, in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:1-2). God has spoken on the issue of homosexuality. There is no more for a preacher to say than what God has already said.
America’s preachers are her fundamental problem. America doesn’t fear God today because America’s preachers don’t preach the fear of God. Like T.D. Jakes, they are too busy building megachurches by preaching smooth things (e.g., motivational psychology).
“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. ... But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings” (Jeremiah 23:15, 22).
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