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2/1/12 at 01:14 PM 1 Comments

TD Jakes, Muslims, and Professional Wrestling

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TD Jakes confessed his understanding of the Trinity this week in the James McDonald's Elephant Room 2. The Christian media has covered this event very well. While it appears Jakes has some more progress to make on this issue, we can rejoice that he has made serious strides in the right direction. Depending on what he meant by his words, he may have arrived at a thoroughly biblical conclusion. Biblical Christians everywhere should celebrate, with some caution, Jake's confession of the Trinity.

Jakes went through significant examination and admonition through the years for his previous ambiguity on the Trinity, and he should have. While not all chastised him in the Spirit of Christ, many did. Their work deserves celebration, too, for they held Jakes' accountable and, consequently, he has responded in taking steps in a Trinitarian direction. The largest problem over the last decade of Jakes' journey has not been the criticism Jake's has received; it is that Jakes occupied the pulpit when he did not affirm God as God has defined himself. I fear he presumed upon an office for which he had disqualified himself, and problems of this nature remain with Jakes. The question I have yet to read is this—should Jakes have occupied the pulpit in those years? Should any minister occupy the pulpit without embracing God as God has revealed Himself?

Now that Jakes has taken serious steps towards, and perhaps arrived at, the embrace of the biblical Trinity, Jakes' issues have only begun. It takes more than an embrace of the Trinity to qualify as a pastor. A question remains—should Jakes occupy the pulpit as a health and wealth prosperity (HWP) preacher? The HWP message—notice I do not grant it the appellation "gospel"—distorts the image God has revealed of Himself. God looks like Jesus, and while Jesus sojourned on earth, He was neither wealthy nor prosperous. Like a rejection of the Trinity, the HWP message does not describe God as God has revealed Himself.

This has serious implications for global evangelism. Unfortunately, HWP preachers form the global face of Christianity. When many around the globe think of the Christian faith, they do not think of simple sandaled feet from Galilee, they think of the HWP advocates like Jakes.

A colleague of mine visited with a Muslim man in another country. While there, the Muslim man watched Christian television via satellite. One Christian program caused him to laugh uproariously. He commented to my missionary friend, "You Christians have something we do not have in Islam—comedians. There are no comedians in Islam, but you have them in Christianity." My colleague walked into the television room of his Muslim host and noticed he was watching a HWP preacher slapping people on the forehead until they fell on the floor. This Muslim man watched this HWP preacher the same way some of us watch professional "wrestling." They change channels back and forth between wrestling and the HWP programs and ask the same question—"Is that real"? Shouldn't all pastors show Jesus for who He is—God in flesh, sinless, crucified, risen, coming again, and mighty to save? Isn't He enough? It is not necessary for any of us to embellish Christ. He is enough as He is, sandaled feet and nail prints in His hands and all.

God's ministers are to commend Jesus Christ to the world, and this is no joke. They should postpone stepping into the pulpit until they can display Jesus Christ without eclipsing his image with human ornaments. If we commend Jesus as He is, perhaps much of the world will cease their laughter and begin giving Christ their sins, praise, and lives. Let us pray for TD Jakes that He will become a mighty force for biblically defined Christianity here and around the world.

Article by:

David Mills, PhD, ThM
Assistant Professor of Evangelism
Associate Dean for Applied Ministries
Director of Great Commission Mentorships
Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

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