Sunday, October 02, 2011

Mark Driscoll on T. D. Jakes--suspend judgment until it's proven that Jakes wrote The Shack

From PastorMarkTV
Admittedly, sometimes when speaking, a teacher presents a belief in a way that is inaccurate and unclear. So called “discernment” bloggers who are usually not connected to any noteworthy or respected evangelical Christian theologians, schools, denominations, ministries, churches, or pastors make their living taking what people said wrongly, transcribing it, and then falsely—or at least wrongly—accusing them of heresy when it is untrue.

The ear is more forgiving than the eye, and when we say something wrong, people tend to give the benefit of the doubt. But, when what is said is then written down, there is far more scrutiny as a statement is parsed like a Bible verse, which is unfair. ...

In closing, I want to thank Pastor MacDonald for putting together what could be an amazingly insightful event around the Trinity and many other issues that the Church needs to consider. I thank God that I have an opportunity to be involved and ask some questions. I want to encourage folks to wait until the event before making any final judgments about anyone or anything. And, I want to encourage all the men who are signed up to show up. We worship a Jesus who died for what he believed. The least we can do in his name is get on a plane for what we believe.

Okay ... so Driscoll is encouraging everyone to wait until there's a meeting of the minds before making any final judgments about anyone or anything.  I'm glad to know Driscoll is encouraging people to suspend final judgments about the doctrinal purity and character of a man like Jakes who has been preaching for decades, just like Driscoll himself refrained from making final judgments about William Young and Young's novel The Shack back in 2008. Driscoll totally waited to actually go talk to the best-selling author about what his actual views on the Trinity are before going off in public denouncing Young as a heretic.

Oh ... wait a minute ...

Maybe Mark Driscoll didn't avoid making a rush to a final judgment about anyone and anything in the case of William Young and The Shack. So when Driscoll says we should wait with Jakes, and that we should not assume the worst about mere words like "manifestations" in a doctrinal statement maybe he just means "Do as I say, not as I did."  There needs to be time for the megachurch pastors Driscoll, MacDonald and Jakes to meet and discuss this stuff.  We should give folks the benefit of a doubt because Jakes hangs out with James MacDonald sometimes, I guess, and we are supposed to be doing what Driscoll says we should do and not follow his example. Driscoll seems tentative only because Jakes sometimes associates with MacDonald and MacDonald's cool so a good ol' boy network among megachurch pastors has to count for something, doesn't it? After publicly using Joel Osteen as an example of an unhealthy prosperity theology (Driscoll denunciations can be so stern he can make people sound like heretics even when he agrees they're fellow believers 02-05-2013) and implying that Ed Young Jr's sex sermons were creepy and overselling sex (and obviously not as good as Driscoll's own quarter year Peasant Princess) .... maybe Driscoll just feels he needs to cut a megachurch pastor some slack now? I don't know.

But here is something I am relatively confident about--William Young is, let us remember, a novelist and not a pastor.  He is not regarded by anyone as a pastor, or a theologian, or a spiritual authority on jack squat.  Let me reframe this a bit for further clarity, William Young self-published his one novel with a few other guys' help (who he's been suing, apparently) and it's a novel.  It's a made-up story that does not present itself as a sermon, as a catechism, as a creed, as a confessional statement, or anything other than a tale about a person.  Young never seems to have been out to create the next Nicene Creed or the next Heidelberg catechism or some Westminster Confession.  It's just a novel, and it is to date, apparently the only novel he has published.  There may not even be a second one, folks.

T. D. Jakes, by contrast, is a megachurch pastor who has been in ministry for decades, and Driscoll believes Jakes deserves the most leniency we can muster.  Innocent until Driscoll thinks Jakes is guilty even though Driscoll seems to have not really bothered to investigate things much. Okay, that Senator Grassley probe from 2007 didn't come up with anything untoward.  Untoward was what got Jakes' son Jermaine in legal trouble but that's a different kind of untoward behavior and that's not T. D.'s fault except in the neo-Calvinist realm of headship where "headship means that as the father, even if it's not your fault, it's your responsibility."  Driscoll at least used to put it that way. 

But something seems backwards here.  Wouldn't the person to be uncompromising and confrontational with is an actual pastor who preaches at a megachurch with 30,000 members; who's been in ministry for decadess; who has met with presidents of the United States; and has published numerous books? Wouldn't the person to take the wait-and-see approach have been the one-hit wonder novelist no one had heard of before, who has no theological training, apparently isn't even attending a church, and hasn't even had any other work published? 

I'm not talking about the actual contents of either Jakes' writing or Young's writing here (I don't care for either, for what little that's worth).  I'm talking about a sense of proportion and scale.  Complaining about Young's novel and not addressing whether or not Jakes' doctrine is problematic is like some parent who thinks that rock and roll is a corrupting influence on his kids because of "Henry VIII" by Herman's Hermits. So he forbids his kids to listen to that degenerate song.  He then turns around and says to his kids that he's gotta take the devil music to the church parking lot bonfire.  He'll be back in maybe twenty minutes.  One of the kids pipes up that a friend has lent him a country album.  Well, country music is all right, thinks the father.  So he gives them permission to listen to that innocuous-looking album by Ween called 12 Golden Country Greats. They can listen to that.  What could possibly go wrong? 

Off the father goes to dispose of that Herman's Hermits album.  His kids listen to Ween.


Bill Kinnon said...


chris e said...

This article raises an interesting point. Not the first section that talks about TD Jakes, but the second concerning Furtick and Noble:

"these performers have adopted the style of the American stand up comic. The swaggering up and down; the conversational banter; the faux outrage; the mocking cynicism about anybody who might value decency and order as traditionally conceived; the studiedly slovenly dress style; the portentous pauses while waiting for a laugh; the ugly profanity; and, in some well-known cases, a preoccupation with talking about sex"

"These stand up comedian preachers would not work in the church in other parts of the world because aesthetics of plausibility differ from culture to culture -- they are not superior or inferior, please note, but merely different (I am not scoring patriotic points here)."

In some ways this plays to your previous post on Tim Keller - and the linked one over at the City of God blog.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

Hmm, stand-up comic inspired preachers not wanting us to declare Jakes a heretic yet ... Jakes has been in the music and film industries for decades ... I'm wondering if there's a connection that could be made there.

chris e said...

I was more interested in the idea of "aesthetics of plausibility", but yeah there are other interesting tangents that can be taken (Driscoll's thoughts that he is interested in the work of Chris Rock fer instance).

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I'll get to aesthetics of plausibility but not necessarily in the direction or angle Trueman has discussed.

Brooks said...

Great post Wenatchee!