Monday, October 3, 2011

T.D. Jakes & Oneness Pentecostalism- a link to Pure Church

I have often thought I should say something about the T.D. Jakes’ book in my Church’s book store. I haven’t but I am reminded of the need again. About a year ago I mentioned in a posting I wrote on Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence, about how many Pentecostal denominations do correct supposedly new revelation by use of the word of God. I was refuting Tickle’s contention that the Pentecostals offered a new kind of direction that tended to lean more on the Holy Spirit than the authority of Scripture. I was reminded of this while reading at Thabiti Anyabwile’s blog Pure Church.

Anyabwile has written about T.D. Jakes who has his roots in Oneness Pentecostalism. That denomination teaches that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are only manifestations of the one God. In other words, sometimes God is Father, sometimes Son and sometimes the Holy Spirit. What orthodox Christians refer to as the Persons of the Trinity, Oneness Pentecostalism refers to as dimensions or manifestations, but not persons who are co-eternal and co-equal.

While Anyabwile is writing about a controversy he is concerned about among those he ministers with, he has posted a section of his book, The Decline of African American Theology. The section is about Jakes and should be helpful to anyone concerned with Jakes theology.

Anyabwile begins:

"Reviving old heresies: Bishop T. D. Jakes and the Oneness controversy.

Perhaps the most significant conflict regarding the doctrine of God among African Americans at the close of the twentieth century coincides with the rise and prominence of Bishop Thomas Dexter (T. D.) Jakes (1958-) of the Dallas, Texas-based Potter’s House Ministries. Writers at The New York Times speculate that Bishop Jakes may be the “next Billy Graham,” while journalists at Time Magazine dub him “the best preacher in America” and one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals in America.[1] His influence extends to millions worldwide through his television outreach, speaking tours and popular books. Regrettably, his doctrine of God is taken from doctrinal errors roundly rejected by many modern Pentecostal and Evangelical churches as well as the early Christian church.

Bishop Jakes subscribes to a Oneness Pentecostal doctrine of God. Oneness Pentecostalism is a branch of Pentecostalism with its modern roots extending to the Azusa Street revival of 1906 and revival meetings featuring Canadian preacher R. E. McAlister (1880-1953) and evangelist Frank Ewart (1876-1947) between 1913 and 1915. McAlister and Ewart departed from traditional and orthodox trinitarian views of the Godhead and taught the radical unity of God by denying that God existed in three Persons. They held that the one God appeared in three distinct “modes” or “manifestations”—as Father in creation, as the Son in redemption, and as Holy Spirit in regeneration and indwelling—but that there was only one real Person in the Godhead, namely Jesus. Also known as “Modalism,” Ewart’s teachings spread rapidly through Pentecostal denominations. At its 1916 General Assembly, the Assemblies of God, a major branch of Pentecostalism, rejected the Oneness doctrine of God and required adherence to trinitarian theology."

You can read the whole article here, “Collateral Damage in the Invitation of T.D. Jakes to the Elephant Room.”

If you only want to read the section on Jakes from Anyabwile’s book, just scroll down the posting. But while I am writing this I would recommend the book, The Decline of African American Theology. Not only will you be reading excellent reformed theology, you will read about the sufferings and the faith of African Americans throughout the history of the United States.

[1] Sweeping Church History: A review of The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why


dhollifield said...

I have a friend in South America who is beginning his Master's (his undergraduate degree is in Church History) on the extreme Pentecostalism that is plaguing South America, but especially Brazil.

In my conversations with him, we have discussed that this over-emphasis on reliance on "new revelation" of the Holy Spirit is also present in the PCUSA. While the PCUSA scoffs at charismatic practices, it talks out of both sides of its mouth: The movement to reduce the authority of scripture, to depart from the essential tenets of the faith and to ordain, elevate and celebrate all kinds of deviance, is because "God is doing a new thing." This is just double-speak for a "new revelation" in the extra-biblical sense. Traditional Christian orthodoxy is cast as inadequate, corrupt and cruel, and that "reformation" is necessary.

I have been reading up on Mormonism lately, and this is exactly the method Joseph Smith used to foist polygamy on the first Mormons. He encouraged all Mormons to receive their own "revelations from God." He alleged that his personal revelation from God was that he could have multiple wives and that his followers should too, because it was what God wanted. The rest of the church (orthodoxy) was incurably corrupt and needed to be replaced by Mormonism.

This is the same "revelation from God" allegedly received by Mohammad in the Koran that said followers of Islam could have "up to four" wives, but that "the Prophet" could have as many as he wanted. Islam is also based on the idea that Judaism and Christian orthodoxy are incurably corrupt and need the Islamic "corrective."

This form of Pentecostalism (a "one-ness" of the Holy Spirit, as understood in one's personal context, to the exclusion of the rest of the Trinity) masquerades in all religions today, even the "mainline" denominations. The Enemy is busy indeed.

Viola Larson said...

Yes Deborah on all counts those three, Oneness Pentecostalism, Mormonism and Islam all started with the idea that God was doing a new thing. God has already done the 'new thing,’ Jesus Christ his final revelation.

Africa has this problem with 'oneness' also because of missionaries that took it to Africa.
The PCUSA is traveling down the road that will lead to strange teaching.