Watching and reading the Elephant Room sounds a lot like that. When Steven Furtick, Perry Noble and now T.D. Jakes are being commended for being “godly, “humble,” “you love Jesus,” and so on, it sounds more akin to, “Hey, Judas, you’re so godly and humble. You love Jesus.” Then Judas goes off to betray Christ.
I initially wanted to stay away from this Elephant Room fiasco. I watched the first one and it was nothing more than a few guys (with the exception of Platt and Chandler even though Chandler is a part of the “New Calvinism” movement) with postmodern tendencies all grossly fawning over one another and patting each other on the back. It is another reason why I do not like, no I strongly abhor, the whole “missional” movement (as it comes from the Driscollian camp). As long as your church has thousands of people and many lives have been “changed,” then you must “love” Jesus and are being used by God. Postmodern pragmatism written all over it.
Even though people like Furtick, Noble and Jakes all pervert the Word of God. One has managed to make the Word of God all about him (and you) through allegory, the second loves to beat his sheep and show utter contempt for God through what he says and allows in his services, while the third preaches a prosperity gospel and denies the Triune God. But hey as long as you have the numbers under your belt then it must be of the Spirit, right? Wrong. Charles Finney preached to more people than those guys combined yet examine what he preached and you should see the false teaching.
Of course the reaction from these men will be that I pastor a small church (I do) and I am jealous (I’m not since they will only have to answer before God for their mass deception), I’m one of those “dead orthodoxy” (an oxymoron) guys, “armchair theologians (I’m bi-vocational. I mow lawns in the spring and summer and shovel snow in the winter while pastoring the flock that God has entrusted to me and have been accused of preaching the Gospel too much), a “hater” afraid of change (I do hate false teaching and disdain change that is centered on man and a departure from the Holy Writ. I’m an “ancient” or “old” paths kind of guy. The Jer. 6:16 type.), a theological “snob” that must have everything my way and cannot find “unity” unless everyone agrees with me (my elders are all dispensational while I am a amillennial covenant theologian. Yet we love one another dearly and I would not be able to shepherd the flock as effectively without them), that I’m some sort of unsocial, ignorant, blogger, blogging from mother’s or grandmother’s basement (I’m blogging from my own house on my own computer).
They would have us all believe that they are oh so very humble and anyone that would criticize them is arrogant or mean spirited. But the truth of the matter is that, in my opinion, it is a feigned humility and the insults they fling (see above paragraph) are a demonstration of that. Sure they will publicly be thankful for the criticism and critics in their church websites, blogs (the humility) but put them together (the Elephant Room for example) and watch how they insult those that criticize them (demonstrating the feigned humility).
Oh, it is just a matter of methodology they say. No, it is more than that. Your methodology stems from theology (or lack of perhaps). Playing “Highway to Hell” during an Easter service because God “told” you to and “changed” one person’s life, all because you were being “missional,” show your utter lack of understanding God’s revelation, holiness, sovereignty and the Gospel.Your methodology does indeed disclose some of your theology. You can sit back and count noses all day long while patting yourself on the back but so did Pelagius.
Besides the the eerie showmanship the bigger problem lies with the public endorsement of false teachers by some very misguided brothers. Extending the right hand of fellowship to people like Furtick, Noble and Jakes is to betray Christ. I know, I know, such harsh and mean spirited words right? I think people that think that way do not understand what is really going on and what is at stake. To tell the world of unbelievers and the church that these men “love” Jesus and are “godly” men is to point and entrust people into their care. It is to endorse them. That position I find abominable. It is a pathetic attempt at ecumenism all cloaked in the ill guided objective of “Christian unity.” Yes, this is a direct shot at Driscoll and MacDonald.
Before you can have “Christian unity” you must have Christians. Or as Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a man that reached far more people than any of those men will come close to reaching and he did it through the sheer proclamation of the Word, without gimmicks, all through the power of the Spirit of God, said:
Before there can be any real discussion and dialogue and exchange there must be agreement concerning primary and fundamental matters. Without the acceptance of certain axioms and propositions in geometry, for example, it is idle to attempt to solve any problem. If certain people refuse to accept the axioms, and are constantly querying and disputing them, clearly there is no point of contact between them and those who do not accept them. It is precisely the same in the realm of the church. Those who question and query, let alone, deny, the great cardinal truths that have been accepted throughout the centuries do not belong to the church, and to regard them as brethren is to betray the truth. As we have already been reminded ourselves, the apostle Paul tells us clearly what our attitude to them should be: ‘A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject’ (Tit. 3:10). They are to be regarded as unbelievers who need to repentance and acceptance of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus. To give the impression that they are Christians with whom other Christians disagree about certain matters is to confuse the genuine seeker and enquirer who is outside. But such is the position prevailing today. It is based on a failure to understand the nature of the New Testament church which is ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15). In the same way it is a sheer waste of time to discuss or debate the implication of Christianity with people who are not agreed as to what Christianity is. Failure to realize this constitutes the very essence of the modern confusion.*
Years of hard fought blood, sweat and tears from godly men of old, who fought for the truth of God’s Word, and to grow and protect the Bride of Christ is all now being undermined and implicitly mocked by these men. So called “unity” is coming at the expense of truth. Men with a wide influence are now turning against Christ the King by embracing His enemies. What is really at stake here is the glory of God. The holiness of God is now being impugned. I believe the Elephant Room is where the shepherds and wolves have gathered and broken bread together. What treachery!
No, folks, you cannot pervert the Word of God and still be “humble,” “godly,” and “love” Jesus at the same time.
It is also ironic that the undeniable facts of history are that it has the Reformed (but not limited to it) community that has loved the Gospel of Jesus Christ, defended it and proclaimed it for the glory of God in the midst of controversy. But then we are the “unloving” ones that always want to nit pick and bring schism to the body of Christ? At least that is what the unity before truth guys would have others believe. But I ask what does the history of the church testify to? Is it not that Reformed community has been faithful to the Word of God? Who are the ones that have defended the truth against the false teachers? And were these people unloving because they spoke the truth in love?
Yes, we are well aware of Ephesians 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” An often misunderstood and therefore misapplied verse. To this I defer to Lloyd-Jones:
Here again is a much- quoted text, but unfortunately it is not always quoted accurately. Frequently the emphasis is put entirely on ‘love’ and not at all upon ‘truth.’ Indeed the position is sometimes such that we are almost told that you cannot have the two together, and the trouble with evangelicals is that they are are so concerned about the truth that they forget the element of love. Let us be honest and admit that the charge may sometimes be true, but lets us add that the sin is not one- sided. We all fail in this matter of love and charity.
What the Apostle is saying is not that we should avoid doctrine, or minimize doctrine or suppress doctrine in the interest of love. What he is saying is that we should ‘speak the truth in love.’ Indeed it is not even just ‘speaking the truth’; what he actually says is much stronger. Some say that the translation here should be ‘truthing’ it, that the whole of our life should be in terms of truth. We should have the truth, we should hold the truth, we should walk in the truth, we should speak the truth: ‘truthing it in love.’
In other words you cannot be truly loving unless it is in terms of truth. Let us put the emphasis on the two words. The apostle is not just telling us that we have to be nice and affable and friendly, and that in the interests of fellowship we must be prepared to accommodate, or even suppress, the truth. No! If you truly love a man you want him to know the truth because that alone can save him. But at the same time Paul warns us of the danger of becoming partisan, mere party men.*
So let’s put that the Reformed guys are “bullies” (or worse) argument to rest. Reformed men have been like that but so then have Driscoll, MacDonald, Furtick, Noble and company. But the problem at the Elephant Room was all “love” (or more stretching for complementing one another) and very little truth. Again there is no love apart from truth and that from the Word of God not pragmatic results.
Sometimes “best intentions” have the worst consequences. The Elephant Room is a good example. Good intentions are not enough.
No, my friends, Judas has no place in the family of God. Repent and believe on Christ or move along, Judas. Just move along. My Master has no part with you and therefore neither do I. My responsibility is now to warn others about you regardless if some of my brothers are patting you on the back.
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears (Ac 20:29–31).
Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,