Thabiti Anyabwile sees the invitation as a significant setback to the African American church.
In 2007, the Lord granted me the privilege of publishing The Decline of African-American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity (IVP). The book was a labor of sorrow and love–sorrow because of how sharp and deep theological decline has been since the first writing African Americans of the late 1700s and early 1800s, and love because I ache to see my kinsmen according to the flesh brought into the gracious realms of God’s salvation. For me, the book was an attempt to (a) accurately trace the history of African-American theology using available primary source material, and (b) fulfill a pastoral obligation to advance the gospel and refute error (Titus 1:9).Read on HERE.
Because the book “breaks rank” and “the party line,” I expected to be alone against an avalanche of criticism and angry protest. But the Lord has a people who have not bowed the knee to the baals of theological heresy, a people who want to know the truth and who instinctively if not explicitly knew something had gone wrong in the African-American church. Jesus’ sheep hear and know His voice, and they follow Him. Instead of an avalanche of criticism, I’ve pretty much heard a chorus of “Finally” and “It’s about time!”
When theologically conservative, Evangelical or Reformed African Americans call for reform in the African-American church, they feel like midgets facing the titans and juggernauts of a word-faith, charismatic pantheon. The task can seem so daunting and isolating. Internally, there’s the constant fight with unbelief and resignation. There’s wrestling with questions like “Can the African-American church be reformed?” ”Is the church essentially apostate?” Sometimes these questions have more to do with us than they have to do with the church. But the questions illustrate how intense and serious a battle this is.
That’s why it’s difficult to see larger-than-life heretics given a platform in circles of pastors and leaders we respect and we regard as co-laborers in defense and confirmation of the truth. I’m breaking no stories here. The news of T.D. Jakes’ invitation to the Elephant Room is widespread and rightly lamented by many. I’m just adding a perspective that hasn’t yet been stated: This kind of invitation undermines that long, hard battle many of us have been waging in a community often neglected by many of our peers. And because we’ve often been attempting to introduce African-American Christians to the wider Evangelical and Reformed world as an alternative to the heresy and blasphemy so commonplace in some African-American churches and on popular television outlets, the invitation of Jakes to perform in “our circles” simply feels like a swift tug of the rug from beneath our feet and our efforts to bring health to a sick church.
MacDonald and Driscoll can moderate discussions with anyone they wish. But we kid ourselves if we think inviting someone so recalcitrant about fundamental biblical teaching as Jakes can result in anything positive. MacDonald, Driscoll and others will not be the first to privately and publicly exhort, admonish, instruct and challenge Jakes on this vital issue–to no avail thus far. And we kid ourselves if we think the Elephant Room invitation itself isn’t an endorsement of sorts. We can’t downplay the associations by calling for people to suspend judgment and responding ad hominem against “discernment bloggers.” We certainly can’t do that while simultaneously pointing to our association at The Gospel Coalition as a happy certification of orthodoxy and good practice, as Driscoll seems to do here with MacDonald.
Finally, Nathan Busenitz weighs in HERE with a helpful article on the doctrine of the Trinity and the heresy of modalism.
Friends, nowhere in the Bible are Christians, particularly pastors and elders called to be nice to or build bridges to false teachers.