The following was taken from the Elephant Room: Round 2 web site:
The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently.
These are conversations about the most Christ honoring ways of building a church. Our goal is unity, however a true unity cannot be fashioned in pretense or denial of truth nor can it be won among those who prefer sectarianism to the unity Jesus prayed for. To advance Christ’s call to unity we must do what men have always done, we must push and prod and challenge and sharpen each other’s beliefs and methods. Fidelity and fruitfulness, both matter. No one has a corner on the truth and methods must do more than ‘work.’
What if we created a new ‘tribe?’ A tribe based on being humble enough to listen and reconsider what the Scriptures actually say. A tribe that holds the essential tenets of the faith with a ferocious intensity and is open handed with everything else. Maybe, together, we can create a new center? A place where we are for everything the bible demands and demand nothing that scriptures are silent about. Look for guests from all places and belief systems. Don’t be surprised if you hear a conversation with someone that offends you or denies the faith as you see it. Don’t be shocked if you hear conversations with world religion leaders, or criminals or sinners of every variety, “such were some of us.” If the conversation can be helpful, clarifying, insistent or illuminating, or if we hope it will be . . . you will find it in the Elephant Room.
On January 25, 2012, we are aiming to bring The Elephant Room 2 to nearly 100 cities in North America. (If you would like to bring the Elephant Room to your city, email Locations firstname.lastname@example.org). This blog will be a source of information and idea shaping for the event.
Elephant Room Director
The Elephant Room: Round 2 is scheduled to start tomorrow. It’s a place where pastors talk about “the elephants in the room” – or those subjects that oftentimes go ignored. James McDonald hosts it, and has been no stranger to c0ntroversy lately. For instance, Perry Noble (pastor of NewSpring) played “Highway to Hell” by AC DC at his easter service. When pressed on this issue at the Elephant Room 1, he told them that it wasn’t as though he was purposely trying to anger people, and that they prayed about it. But, from a sermon recorded within weeks of the Elephant Room, Perry told his congregation that he was working out one day and thought, “How can I piss off religious people?” He said that Highway to Hell came on and jovially decided to use that. James McDonald defended him, and said that he didn’t lie. You be the judge. You can watch the video [here].
More recently, the controversy encircled James when he announced who would be speaking at the Elephant Room 2. Ironically, I don’t think as much of an uproar was made when attractional pastors like Perry Noble or Steven Furtick were announced. These men regularly bend the Scriptures, and attack those who want to ‘go deeper’ theologically. Anyhow, the speaker in question is Bishop TD Jakes, a known modalist. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, Modalism (Sabellianism) is an old heresy in the church regarding theology proper, or the doctrine of God. Modalism teaches that God is one being and one person with 3 different “masks” or roles that He plays. Orthodoxy has maintained that God is one being and 3 persons. In other words, Modalism says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same person. In case you are confused by the distinction of being and person, maybe this will help – a rock had being, but is not personal. I am a being (human) and a person (Chris). Modalism makes no distinction. And this is an issue to disfellowship over. I don’t mean that we ought to ignore such people. But we certainly should not regard them as brothers and sisters in Christ. They don’t know Christ.
The reason I say that controversy encircled McDonald over this was because he had said that the speakers were “brothers.” And when James was pressed on his language, he said that he meant the term brother to denote a fellow citizen. That is, as citizens of humanity, we are all brothers. Sorry, I’m not buying that. You can. Of course, we will see if this issue comes up when Jakes is there. If it doesn’t, I think it will be one of the greatest opportunities completely wasted. I honestly don’t see how it won’t come up though, because that will be the biggest elephant there.
It is doubtless that Jakes is ignorant of the controversy concerning his beliefs and what others have said about the Elephant Room 2. After all, when he spoke at the Code Orange Revival, Steven Furtick said that Jakes offered comfort to Steven over all the twitter and internet criticism about the Code Orange Revival. He assured Furtick to stand strong because it was Furtick’s “moment.”
The purple portion above that I quoted directly from the Elephant Room 2 site has an interesting statement: “Our goal is unity, however a true unity cannot be fashioned in pretense or denial of truth nor can it be won among those who prefer sectarianism to the unity Jesus prayed for.” That’s true. Unity can not occur with a denial of truth, and modalism is an outright denial of truth. As far as secterianism goes, I will always separate myself from heretics. I have friends who are. I have friends who deny the existence of God at all. Will I, in an effort to not be a sectarian, join them as brothers. No. Secterianism is necessary. It has been said, though in a negative way, that ‘doctrine is divisive.’ Yes, and it should be. But correct doctrine is not what divides people. False doctrine is ultimately what divides people, because it can not stand sound teaching.
So, I look forward to hearing what should be said, and Lord willing I will. In the mean time, I leave you with these Scriptures:
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.” Romans 16:17
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” – 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:8
“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” 1 Timothy 6:3-5