Personally, I think that Thabiti Anyabwile has provided some of the best commentary on the inclusion of T. D. Jakes into the Elephant Room discussion. His initial offering before the event was dead on target, and his follow up post is also worth reading. He continues to provide valuable insight that by highlighting the personal dimension of false teaching. This is not merely an abstract discussion of theology or ministry.
This last post by Thabiti also serves to highlight the rottenness of what Bryan Loritts posted right after ER2 and followed up on in a video conversation with James MacDonald. It appears that Loritts has taken down the blog post, but in it he makes the case that the loudest opponents of ER2 have been “middle aged white Reformed guys” and he suggests that “a few of my black brothers [are] playing into what some have historically called white idolization in their longing to fit in with this Reformed crowd”?
Here’s the video of him making the same basic charges.
I’d like to make three points about these charges.
First, this is a classic example of shifting the focus away from the complaints being lodged against ER2 and T. D. Jakes to the people who have lodged them. The age and ethnicity of the ER2 critics are really irrelevant. The real question is, “Are they right in their complaints?”
Second, and much worse, is that Loritts impugns the motives of the black critics of ER2 and Jakes by suggesting that they are being vocally critical in order to gain acceptance with the middle aged white guys. This really is a despicable tactic which borders on calling them a bunch of Uncle Toms. The only commendable aspect of his assertion is that it is so transparent that the slime factor is easily seen.
Third, I think it important to point out the role that MacDonald plays in facilitating this baseless charge against his black critics. It is obvious that Loritts is being interviewed by MacDonald in order to make this point. Worse, MacDonald plays all naïve in the face of Loritts’ accusation against his brothers, “What would they be leveraging it for? Opportunity?” What James ought to have been doing is saying, “Brother, it seems like you’re judging these men’s motives, aren’t you? Have any of them told you that they are opposing ER2 in order to gain a larger hearing in the white theological world?” Instead, MacDonald plays his part perfectly and lets Loritts take the cheap shot.
The irony here is that the whole exchange leaves the door wide open for speculation as to why Loritts would take that shot and also why MacDonald would give him air time to make it. The reason that is so is because neither MacDonald nor Loritts actually engaged the charges against Jakes and ER2. Instead of dealing with theology and biblical obligations to defend the Gospel, they threw in some red herrings. I think that stinks.
The theological issues at stake in this debate are very important—denial of the Trinity and a false prosperity theology are major, not minor problems. That these matters were so poorly addressed in ER2 should be a very serious cause of concern. It was a classic case of pietism trumping doctrine, with the added intoxicant of celebrity schmoozing poured on top. A very bad day in light of Acts 20:28-30.
It is also important, I think, to expose the methods being used to obscure the truth here. Good men are raising important, serious theological questions and objections, and those objections are being met with personal insults and artful dodges. Sadly, I’m not really surprised by this because that has been the mode of operation for decades—rebut questions about doctrinal concern with accusations of theological nitpicking; pit love against doctrine; emphasize the personal piety of those accused of false teaching; drop hints that certain unhappy people are just jealous of other’s success; imply that people are using controversy to gain visibility and opportunities.
These are not new tricks. That they were trotted out so quickly just shows that things have not changed. That they seem to work so effectively is what ought to concern anybody who is serious about sound doctrine and the health of the church.