Friday, February 17, 2012

ER2- Enough Already!

Let's name her "Grace."

For those of you not familiar with the "Elephant Room Crisis," you might need to get caught up by reading one post from Vodie Baucham at Grace Family Baptist Church to ingest the whole controversy. In (very) short, Elephant Room founder and mega pastor James MacDonald invited controversial figure T.D. Jakes to join in their moderated discussion on church differences before a large online audience, thus presumably giving acceptance to his prosperity gospel ideas, and allowing him to weakly gloss over his differences on his Oneness Trinity beliefs. They did treat him as a brother in Christ, propelling James MacDonald to (behind the scenes) resign from his board position with the Gospel Coalition, before the event even took place, whether by force or consent. We don't know. The appearance was that it was a mutual decision. Needless to say, the internet erupted at the conclusion of the event condemning all who were involved, all who even knew any of the participants, and it still goes on and on.

The Gospel Coalition, a mostly Reformed group of church leaders, movers and shakers, in the current "gospel-centered" movement, were bludgeoned the most, for their seemingly slow response to the controversy, and now pastors even remotely connected with the group are being attacked for merely pointing out their friendship of, and support of, James MacDonald and his christian philosophies. In short, Christians are shooting Christians.

Here's how far this has gone, and my "quick take" on what is happening in this aftermath, using as few names as possible-

Mega church Pastor Matt Chandler, one of the most humble and honest men of God leading in the Body of Christ, recently tweeted that he was "baffled and appalled" that anyone would consider James MacDonald a "heretic", and hashtagged it under "crazytalk".
Then a blogger from one of the largest and most famous christian blogs on the internet, certainly in the top 10, with hundreds of thousands of readers repied to his tweet, referencing Mr Chandler's tweet address and username, "I am baffled and appalled tht [Matt Chandler] should paint folks as dangerous and loons rather than engage like Chr ldr" (Christian leader).

Wow! Pastor Chandler was obviously addressing the harshness with which his friend, Pastor MacDonald was treated for making what many would consider a bad mistake; inviting Pastor Jakes to the Elephant room discussions, a mistake he may still be in denial about. But do you see how the internet/twitter commenters have gone off the charts? Mr Chandler called (or painted) no one dangerous, or a loon, however he did hash tag the venomous attacks, the conversation, on Pastor MacDonald, who's gospel teaching is great, as crazytalk, as he obviously had heard someone call him a heretic. For this he was painted with the same venomous brush used on James MacDonald, at the expense of the truth of what was said. This is selfishness gone crazy, to the point of dishonesty, the ultimate selfishness designed to puff up the blogger and tear down Mr. Chandler.

Baffled = not understanding
Appalled = dismayed to the point of horrified
Crazy = pick your definition, there are many; I'll choose "senseless" but they all mean the same.

You've got to really stretch these definitions as Pastor Chandler used them, which was to describe the current conversation on the internet concerning his friend, to accuse Mr Chandler of calling anyone who disagreed with Pastor MacDonald's (possibly poor) choice to host T.D. Jakes a "dangerous loon". I can assure you, with my paltry education, that I can read Mr Chandler's tweet, and not assume he is name-calling anyone. But now it's all over the internet and twitter-net that Matt Chandler is venomously adding to the controversy by calling the opposition to Mr MacDonald dangerous loons. What a laugh! (And the tweeter assumes he hasn't privately engaged him...)

The real elephant in the room:

A lot of mistakes were made. Mark Driscoll was a part of this, too. The parachuch organizations that he founded and leads, and his mega Mars Hill Church that he founded, are probably feeling a little heat, too, as well as is his association with the Gospel Coalition. Controversy is well known to Mr Driscoll, but he has demonstrated often enough that he is capable of learning from his youthful mistakes, however long it may take him to realize his mistake, and move on appropriately.

But make no mistake- there is a reason we are to walk away from Christians of a different gospel, and not engage them very much, as Mr. MacDonald did engage T.D. Jakes at his Elephant Room conference. And all the damage just done inside the Body of Christ, and outside it looking in, is exactly why we walk away from false teachers, not engage them, or appear to endorse them. But "walking away" can take many forms, from disengaging in joint ministry but remaining friends for future reference, especially when it's a question of judgement error, not a doctrinal error (as TGC did); to completely disassociating with them in any way. What each Christian is called to do, is to decide for themselves what is the best course of action biblically for them to take, and do it. Myself, I like to read TGC blogs, and even "that other unnamed blog/blogger". I gain an unimaginable insight into myself and the gospel. I like to listen to Matt Chandler's sermons once in a while, he's fantastic, and I read James MacDonald's blog, too, and recognize his huge contribution to the church at large. It's interesting that James helped found TGC, and now has decided to leave the board, after many discussions with his fellows there. But it is their business, not mine. They can work it our for themselves.

But what we are not called to do is to continue to shoot each other up over one man's decision, and involve millions of Christians and non-Christians as it has in this high tech wired world. I'm just a reader here, who got dragged into all this cause it all became "news" (conflicting with the "Good News" I like to read about.) This online drama has predominately been between gospel centered Christians, and we're all on the same side, His. Fortunately, the simple application of the gospel will heal all this, right? It might have prevented it or stopped this before now, if people had remembered that from the beginning, but being mere humans (sinners) under grace knowing forgiveness, is how things are in this world, and these kinds of things are just gonna happen. But the cats out of the bag- we are forgiven. Now can we please just stop?

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