Band of Bloggers Panel on "The Elephant Room Controversy:" Helpful, Then Lousy
The Elephant Room was a conference this past year put on by some men associated with The Gospel Coalition. The organizers of The Elephant Room asked T.D. Jakes-- a prosperity gospel preacher, who is well-known for his Oneness theology-- to speak at the conference. This invitation was, of course, extremely controversial, and many people asked the organizers of The Elephant Room to reconsider; many people also asked The Gospel Coalition to come out with a statement denouncing the "ministry" of T.D. Jakes.
At The Elephant Room, Jakes gave an ambiguous answer to questions about modalism, saying that he believes in "One God-Three Persons," on the one hand, yet he still prefers the term "manifestations" (a term commonly employed by modalists) to the word "Persons."
The Elephant Room organizers then embraced Jakes as an orthodox brother in Christ, with no mention being made of his prosperity gospel teachings.
Band of Bloggers Panel Reaction One: Helpful
At the recent Band of Bloggers [BoB] fellowship, a panel consisting of Timmy Brister, Tim Challies, Collin Hansen, Owen Strachan, and Justin Taylor addressed issues concerning the current state of Reformed blogging [the audio for this panel discussion is HERE]. As it was one of the major controversies within evangelicalism this past year, the panelists addressed The Elephant Room.
Regarding The Elephant Room, Tim Challies said:
I chose just not to address that one, because I just didn't know what to say about it. I thought, "If I just spew something out, I'll get lots of traffic, but I'm just going to expose my own foolishness in this; I don't have anything wise or godly to say about it."
This fits with what Timmy Brister had said earlier in the discussion:
I've just come to the point where I've realized that 99 out of a hundred people are going to say it better than me, so why do I feel like I have to say something about that?
I do think that it is a helpful reminder to note that we who blog should not feel that we must make some comment on every controversy: even every important controversy. People who forget this are constantly in danger of falling into the sin mentioned in Proverbs 10:19.
With that in mind, the only time I've previously mentioned The Elephant Room on this blog is when I took notes while listening to a Dividing Line webcast. I was not planning on mentioning the recent BoB fellowship, but there has been-- it seems to me-- a real paucity of response to the panel discussion, and now the Pyromaniacs have put the issue on the front-burner.
Band of Bloggers Panel Reaction Two: Lousy
I DO think that David Kjos was correct in his summary concerning the main point that the BoB panelists seemed at pains to communicate about The Elephant Room controversy: "if you're not on the inside, you're not qualified to speak."
I do NOT think Kjos was quite correct in his assessment of what the panelists meant to indicate by this attitude; I do NOT think that the BoB panelists were taking an "us" vs. "y'all" attitude toward the BoB attendees. I DO think that the panelists were taking an "us" (BoBers) vs. "them" (The Elephant Room organizers) position, and saying that all of us bloggers (including the panelists themselves) should exercise extreme caution in criticizing The Elephant Room, because we were not privy to private conversations between The Elephant Room organizers and T.D. Jakes. If my assessment is correct, then notice: 1) the BoB panelists' attitude lacked the "arrogance" that Kjos charges them with, yet; 2) the BoB panelists' attitude was still completely bogus.
If The Elephant Room organizers had simply invited T.D. Jakes to a private conversation over dinner, and if bloggers had criticized The Elephant Room organizers for this private conversation, without knowledge of what was actually said, then the BoB panel may have had a valid point. BUT this is not what happened. Instead, T.D. Jakes was invited to speak from the platform of The Elephant Room, and every blogger that I read who criticized what happened criticized (1) Jakes' previous "ministry" and then (2) what actually happened on stage at The Elephant Room. In other words, the public critique was aimed at public matters; private conversations are simply irrelevant. The BoB panelists know this: they know it, for example, when they publish book reviews. If one of the BoB panelists goes to critique The Shack, he does not think, 'Hey, I need to find out whether William Paul Young ever had some private conversation with his publisher in which he clearly expressed an orthodox view of the Trinity;' if Young had done so, then it would not change what he printed in the book, and it would not change the need to critique the book on its own terms.