Appearance of non-trinitarian speaker at yearly conference for pastors defended

Pentecostal mega-church pastor T.D. Jakes of Dallas, often criticized for holding a non-trinitarian view of God, will speak for the second time during Fellowship Church of Grapevine’s Creative Church Conference (C3) for pastors.

Jakes will appear at the Southern Baptist congregation Feb. 22-23 along with fellow preachers Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, LifeChurch pastor Craig Groeschel of Edmond, Okla., and Houston pastor and former SBC president Edwin Young, father of Fellowship pastor Ed Young.

Jakes is internationally known for his media ministry and as pastor of The Potter’s House. He has been featured in numerous news articles, including some by Christian watchdog groups questioning his views on the doctrine of the Trinity.

Orthodox Christianity holds that one God co-exists eternally in the three co-equal persons of the godhead–Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In fact, Young has done a sermon series on the Trinity titled “Tri-God.” He said every church should study trinitarian doctrine.

“But our conference is a leadership conference; it’s not a theological conference,” Young told the Southern Baptist TEXAN. “We will bring in, and we have brought in, a number of people whom I personally would not agree with theologically. In fact, I think Bishop Jakes is a great communicator, a great leader.”

“I love Bishop Jakes, but we’ve had many people in Fellowship Church over the years … whom I would not agree with concerning all of their theology,” Young said. “We’ve interviewed people here from Jerry Jones [Dallas Cowboys owner], we’re in a series of interviews right now with Hulk Hogan, all sorts of people. But when you have a leadership conference, I think it’s important to hear from people in different realms, different companies, different churches. So I embrace it. I think it’s a great thing. I don’t see it as a negative thing at all.”

Young said Jakes’ address last year on “Moses’ Ten Commandments for Leadership” was enthusiastically received by many he figured to be Southern Baptists.
Jerry Johnson, president of Criswell College and a theology professor there, said despite Jakes’ well-attested oratory skills, “some [pastors] might not have the discernment to separate the meat from the bones there, and really, to beware of the heresy–and that is a heresy against classic Christianity. We are not talking about a Baptist distinctive or even a Reformation distinctive. That is a heresy going against classic Christianity, the confessions and the creeds.

“Christian fellowship stands and falls on [the trinitarian doctrine]. Partnership in ministry is jeopardized by the heresy of that doctrine, according to First, Second and Third John.”

Also, Johnson said it is unwise to divide leadership from theology.

“It’s confusing,” he said. “Christian leadership and pastoral leadership includes and perhaps should be driven by theology, particularly, ‘Who is God? Who is Jesus?’ And so it doesn’t matter what your techniques of leadership and style of leadership and philosophy of leadership are if you don’t know who God is. I think that’s an important point. God is the first prerequisite to good Christian leadership.”

Young told the TEXAN he has not discussed the doctrine with Jakes, but might do so in the future.

“We’ve talked about some other issues,” Young said. “We’ve had great discussions about churches and just the issues that we face, that he faces, and things like that. But you know, I’ve never talked with him about that. I’m sure one day we will though. And I’ll look forward to it.”

Jakes’ views have been critiqued by several Christian apologetics organizations, including the Christian Research Institute, which broadcasts the “Bible Answer Man” radio program and publishes the Christian Research Journal, which featured a lengthy article on Jakes’ theology in 1999.

The journal’s editor Elliott Miller, in an e-mail to the TEXAN, wrote: “The fact that the conference is about leadership rather than theology still begs the question of whether the person participating holds to orthodox theology. We don’t only insist on orthodoxy for theological discussion but for all expressions of Christian faith, and especially leadership.”

“I think Bishop Jakes is a phenomenal guy,” Young said. “I love him. He’s doing a great work. … I don’t agree with every single thing theologically, just like with other people we’ve had over the years at the C3 Conferences. That’s my thought.”

TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
Most Read

SWBTS graduates historic number of Hispanic graduates

FORT WORTH—The Spanish department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), under the direction of Mark McClellan, has been working diligently to equip Hispanics in North America and all over the world. Southwestern celebrated a milestone this …

Stay informed on the news that matters most.

Stay connected to quality news affecting the lives of southern baptists in Texas and worldwide. Get Texan news delivered straight to your home and digital device.