Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quick Thoughts about T.D. Jakes and Trinitarianism

No time to blog well here. I'm just going with a laundry-list

  1. Jakes's statement satisfies me that he is a Trinitarian. I read him differentiating his present view from his previous view of the Godhead. He affirmed not only "three persons" but also the concept that the three persons are to be distinguished from one another. The Father is not The Son is not The Holy Spirit, although all three are the One True God. In his first reply to Driscoll, Jakes seems to have affirmed that these attributes are eternal, not just matters of assignment or appearance.

    It is certainly possible that I am just not qualified enough to see the nuance that is missing here. I do not claim to be an expert in theology. And yet, I would count what Jakes has affirmed as Trinitarianism.

  2. Jakes's statement makes it perfectly clear that he used to be a modalist. He himself characterizes his embrace of Trinitarianism as a movement away from something else. Driscoll characterized it similarly, with no rebuttal from Jakes. When did the change take place? We don't have data on that, but we do know that Jakes has never clearly articulated Trinitarianism in public before yesterday.

  3. This is something for all of us to celebrate. When Jakes became a Trinitarian, he became a Christian. His eternal destiny changed at that moment. Now he needs to be baptized. Again, this is something to celebrate.

  4. This is a complete vindication of those who criticized Jakes's earlier theology. As noted above, Jakes himself has now acknowledged that he used to be a modalist (not that that's news to anybody who has paid attention). There will be people who will perform a lot of self-congratulatory chest-thumping over this—people who have been defending Jakes—along the lines of "See, we were right all along, you muck-raking, ruckus-loving, slander-throwing watchbloggers!" If you're somebody who has held Jakes's feet to the fire on this issue in the past, it's really important for you not to pay attention to the minions of atheology on this question and to become defensive. Close their blog and open your Bible to James 5:20. Rejoice.

  5. The Trinity is a big, big deal. It's a heaven-or-hell deal. Minimizing the doctrine of God is not helpful. Anyone who has pretended that this is not important is hurting, not helping. Jakes is certainly one of those people. Although he has espoused Trinitarianism, he certainly is minimizing the importance of that, both by trying to avoid specifically Trinitarian language where he can and by calling for unity between Trinitarians and modalists. Unity between us and Oneness folks would be wrong. It would be sinful for us to be one with them. Jakes must be rebutted at this point.

    But I would not say that it is the same level of sin to fail to condemn modalism as it is to espouse modalism and reject Trinitarianism. Both are wrongful, but only one is heretical, I think. If a failure to condemn modalism is damnable heresy, then T. D. Jakes isn't the only person we have to worry about. If you say that T. D. Jakes has to have condemned modalism as heresy in order to be a Trinitarian, then we have good grounds to question the Trinitarianism of every other participant in the Elephant Room. From what I've seen in transcripts, none of the people there condemned modalism. Perhaps some of them would, in some other context, but with the topic right up there on the table, nobody said a single word of condemnation against modalism.

    This makes them all wrong, and embarrassingly so, not only in my book but also along the lines of everything that historic orthodox Christianity has stood for. But it doesn't make them people who are going to Hell. I think, if you're going to condemn Jakes on the basis of his desire for greater unity between Trinitarians and modalists, you're going to have to condemn every other person on that platform (unless you believe that they all really do condemn modalism and are just cowards).

  6. This is no complete vindication of T. D. Jakes. Yes, there are still massive theological problems with Jakes. He's a prosperity preacher. He's one who still desires ecumenity with modalists, even if he no longer is one. He's a terrible expositor. I wouldn't say that he's qualified to serve as a pastor. I certainly wouldn't support his presence preaching at anything at my church, anything in my denomination, or anything I was at all associated with.

    But all of that, serious as it is, can take a back seat for at least a moment. He's not presently being proposed to preach at my church, at anything in my denomination, or at anything I'm associated with. I don't even have to think about that right now, and there's something better to think about in its place. A man who has preached heresy has, on a worldwide stage, recanted from it and has espoused Trinitarianism. He has become a Christian. Surely, whatever other problems are attendant, THAT is something worthy of rejoicing in and of itself.

Or maybe I'm just being naïve.


Justin Kirksey said...

Spot on!! Many will both make to little and too big a deal out of what he said, too little about its significance toward his salvation, and too much about it validating his ministry.

Anonymous said...

Bart- I'm trying to honestly sort all of this out in my mind (quickly). If Jakes was not a born-again Christian before he was trinitarian, does it necessarily follow that he is "automatically" now a born-again believer based solely upon that change?

It seems that you have made that jump. The only way defense I could see of that position is Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19.


Chris Roberts said...

1. As Anonymous mentions, one does not become a Christian based on certain theological affirmations; if he was not a Christian before, then holding a correct view of the trinity does not in itself make him a Christian now.

2. The trinitarian discussion remained on a very superficial level. Someone coming out of Modalism will need to offer more than just surface-level affirmations before anyone can say he is now clearly trinitarian. As others across the blogosphere have pointed out, those advocating trinitarian heresies have long been masters of spin, making their positions appear orthodox. Perhaps Jakes' continued affirmation of Oneness theology is not because he chooses to ignore that they are wrong, but because he thinks that they are right, but puts their theology in orthodox-sounding terms.

Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Justin!

Sean & Chris,

As far as I know (and I haven't followed Jakes's life much at all), the only thing preventing Jakes from being a genuine believer before was his heretical Trinitarian views. I am presuming (and I admit that I am presuming this) that Jakes was already ready to profess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, believing on Him and trusting in Him for forgiveness of sins, repenting of His own sin, and confessing Christ as Lord. If he is doing all of those things and is not holding views that are heretical, then what would prevent me from calling him a Christian?

If you have evidence that he is amiss in one of those other areas (and I'm not arguing here, because I don't know), then certainly I would retract any notion that he is a believer.

Chris, what makes the difference for me is his explicit acknowledgement that he has moved away from and left behind modalism as well as the fact that he affirmed that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have eternal differences among one another. It is possible that he said these things either disingenuously or confusedly, but he said them. If he contradicts those statements, I'll certainly change my mind. And yet, simply taking his words at face value, I'd accept these as Trinitarian statements.

Certainly a great many non-Trinitarians (for example, Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses) subtly manipulate language in order to mask the heterodoxy of their views. But they also, when pressed to do so, will reveal the differences between their beliefs and Trinitarianism. After all, their differences with Trinitarianism are sincerely-held and they wish to propagate them.

This does not, at this point, seem to be the case with Jakes, although, again, I may be being naïve here.

Burden of proof, I think, is on the side of anathematizing someone. When you start to talk about acknowledging someone as a Christian leader or allowing them to preach, then I think the burden of proof shifts to the other side of the equation.

I can't back up my burden-of-proof rules out of Scripture, so I'm not making that any sort of a test of fellowship. I'm just saying that that's the way that I think it ought to be done.

Mark S. said...

You say "This is something for all of us to celebrate. When Jakes became a Trinitarian, he became a Christian. His eternal destiny changed at that moment. Now he needs to be baptized. Again, this is something to celebrate."

A. Can we be sure that his affirmation of truth is the same as his trust wholly upon Christ's finished work for his salvation?

B. Assuming that is the case -- and I hope he has genuinely been converted of the Spirit of God -- why do you say he needs to be baptized? If he was baptized before, even by a minister who was wrong or flat out evil, he has been baptized. God's Covenant Sign and seal has been applied. He should our could not be truthfully be re-baptized. It would be like Moses striking the rock the second time!

Disclaimer: Writing as a Reformed Presbyterian, recovering former Baptist.

Bart Barber said...

Mark S.

1. "Can we be sure that his affirmation of truth is the same as his trust wholly upon Christ's finished work for his salvation?"

No, nor indeed can we be with regard to anyone. The question applies equally well to all others on the platform. And in the audience. And commenting on this blog thread.

2. "Why do you say he needs to be baptized?" Are you, a former Baptist and present-day Presbyterian, wondering why a Baptist would want someone who has recently been converted to be baptized subsequently? Well, I've longed suspected that people who make the move that you've made do so because they haven't researched the matter carefully enough. ;-)

Dwight McKissic said...


You say Bishop Jakes is a prosperity preacher. Just as you're now acknowledging that Bishop Jakes is a Trinitarian-Jack Ghraham and many others have known this for a long time.If Bishop Jakes is queried about prosperity preaching, it will also be discovered that he is not a classic prosperity preacher. If you are going to label him as such-documentation and definition-should have accompanied this allegation.

If Bishop Jakes is a prosperity preacher, the same allegation must be leveled against every SBC capital stewardship fund-raising program that I'm aware of-that usually tell those who pledge that they can anticipate blessings from God related to their giving.If Bishop Jakes is a prosperity preacher, we must also label Bruce Wilkinson author of "The Prayer Of Jabez" a prosperity preacher.

As Bishop Jakes stated in The Elephant Room, he lives and functions in a different world than most of the attendees and observers/bloggers of The Elephant Room. A big problem that I see is a conversation is being held about a man that no one blogging about him really understands or has walked in Bishop Jakes world. BDW comes the closest and his comments clearly reflect a greater understanding of Bishop Jakes world. If all parties involved understood each others world better, the misunderstanding and communication gap would not be nearly as large.

What I like about these discussions is that they help us to understand each others world. And for that we owe a great debt of gratitude to James McDonald. The SBC would be strengthened in my judgement with these type of discussions.There are different groups in the SBC that don't understand each other simply because we don't have a McDonald to lead us into this type of bridge building dialogue.

Bart Barber said...


It is not that I'm "now acknowledging that [Jakes] is a Trinitarian." Rather, it is that Jakes, having admitted that he once was a modalist, is just now coming out as a Trinitarian.

Bart Barber said...


I'd like to hear your thoughts about whether Southern Baptists should have a closer relationship with Oneness Pentecostals, as Jakes has implored us to do.

Bart Barber said...

For all, Trevin Wax has posted a good reflection on the event, in my opinion.

Dwight McKissic said...


I am not well versed enough regarding Oneness Pentecostal theology to render an informed opinion about a closer relationship between the SBC and the OP's.

If the majority of the SBC embraces the IMB and NAMB tongues policies, then there would be no good reason to form a closer relationship with any Pentecostal group. There would only be tension and conflict. This is a dialogue that the SBC has been unwilling to have.The Lifeway report on this matter suggest that we need such a discussion.

The SBC need to have, first of all, a closer relationship with SBC Black churches. That is a dialogue that could yield great fruit.

I read in the ABP recently that the BWA and the Pentecostals are engaging in a dialogue. I believe that is a good thing.

Black SBC churches are usually not into charismania or charisphobia. Therefore a good place to start a dialogue about a closer relationship should be with Black SBC churches.

I hope I satisfactorily answered your question. Perhaps now I can get an answer to my Bishop Jakes prosperity question.

Bart Barber said...

Sorry about that (failing to answer the question). It was an oversight on my part, not deliberate evasiveness. A symptom of blogging while simultaneously doing a couple of other things.

I had in mind the clip I watched here. I realize that sometimes things can get out of hand when you go on one of those TV shows. ;-) And I am not attempting to offer myself as an expert on T.D. Jakes. There's nothing hidden about that clip, but if that was an anomaly, fine.

I don't take any joy in a brother's mistakes. I hope that tone comes through in the piece, Dwight. You've celebrated Aaron's view of Jakes, but he's said exactly the same thing that I have said about Jakes's being a prosperity preacher. He called Jakes a prosperity preacher. He said that was a real problem with Jakes. I really don't understand why you would pat him on the back and then come here to throw down on me for saying the same thing?

Dwight McKissic said...


The tone and tenor of my comments are coming across as "throwing down" or unfriendly; for that I sincerely apologize. Although we often disagree, my love and respect for you runs deep. I was really surprised and pleased with much or most of what you wrote on this subject. My objections had to do with you labeling Bishop Jakes a prosperity preacher and your belief that he became a Christian after he embraced the Trinity. I didn't even want to tackle that one today. Others had the same question, but I will just have to respectfully disagree with your position and answer as it relates to the timing of Bishop Jakes becoming a Christian. It certainly contradicts the testimony he gave in the Chicago meeting.I came across as angry because I addressed my objections without expressing my appreciation and areas of agreement. Please forgive me?

When I complimented BDW, I specifically had in mind comments on the SBC Voices Open Letter To Bishop Jakes by Brandon Smith, penned by BDW. BDW referenced I thought in an insightful manner, a defense of the title "Bishop" with regards to Bishop Jakes. He also referenced the distinction as to how economic empowerment is preached in the Black church without treading into prosperity preaching.In general, BDW often reflects a better understanding of the Black experience and church than most SBC bloggers. Alan Cross is also in tune.So when I spoke well of BDW these were the things I had in mind.

I watched the Bishop Jakes TBN clip. I simply don't consider that prosperity preaching.And again, if it is, it's no different than the SBC Capital Stewardship Programs that make similar type appeals. You certainly can find analogous material as Bishop Jakes preached on the clip in Wilkerson's Jabez book.If BDW see's Bishop Jakes as a false prosperity preacher somehow I missed that, but no problem; he's entitled to his opinion like everyone else. I promise you, it would be very difficult to find any Black preacher to label Bishop Jakes a prosperity preacher except those who are heavily influenced by the Calvinist movement that's beginning to get some traction in the Black church particularly with younger ministers. Again, we'll just simply agree to disagree on this matter.

On another note, I want to send you an invitation to dine with me and several Arlington SBC pastors who will be sharing a meal at my home the last of February when Frank Page comes to preach at our church. I hope you and your wife accept our invitation.

Im out of town tomorrow and I'm headed to a two hour meeting. But I'll check the blog after my meeting and comment if you have a question about the Bishop Jakes matter.

Bart Barber said...


I do believe, together with all of Chalcedonian Christianity, that modalism is heresy. Not just error, but heresy. To believe this is to believe that modalists are not Christians. This has been the predominant belief of Christians since the days of Athanasius. Indeed, to show some semblance of knowledge about Black Christianity after a sort, I might mention that this is the African position, championed by Athanasius, who was known as "The Black Dwarf" and is the hero of fourth-century Christianity. This is also the position of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Anselm, Augustine, Aquinas…almost everyone you've ever heard of in Christian history.

On the prosperity preaching thing, I'll gladly hear evidence on all sides. On the question of whether any human being has ever been a Christian while denying the Trinity, I consider no retreat from my bulwark. Modalism is damnable heresy. Modalists are anathematized.

I do thank you for the invitation. I appreciate your graciousness and the magnanimity of your hospitality. You are ever the consummate gentleman. I did not anticipate conflict between us over this post, and I am glad that we are in calmer waters now.

I regret that Tracy and I will not be able to attend. At the end of February I will be attending the SBTC Empower Evangelism Conference. The spirit of the invitation is, nonetheless, received warmly.

Joe Blackmon said...


I think the biggest problem is not what Jakes said but rather what Jakes DIDN'T say. He said he is Trinitarian. Great. Congratulations to him. Clap, clap, clap.

What he didn't say is that modalism is a heresy and that modalists are not Christians. In fact, he said (according to Trevin Wax):

But how they (modalists-joe) explain the Godhead is how Trinitarians describe the gospel.

What?? First of all, I'm not even sure what that even means. Second of all, modalists do not describe ANYTHING the way Christians would describe it.

He also said:

I think it’s important to realize there are distinctives between the work of the Father and the work of the Son. I’m with you. I have been with you. There are many people within and outside denominations labeled Oneness that would be okay with this.

Oh, modalists don't disagree about Trinitarian theology. As Captain Picard would say "What sort of meaningless, double talk is this?"

He may be Trinitarian, but with his refusal to say modalism is heresy and modalists are heretics, he certainly isn't a fit partner for anyone interested in the gospel.

Dwight McKissic said...


Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Confessing Jesus as Lord and repenting of sins are the non-negotiable biblical requirements of salvation(Mark 1:14; Acts 16:31;Romans 10:9). Have we now added an understanding and confession of the Trinity?


Bart Barber said...


There's no doubt that something "has been added," although there's definitely no "now" associated with it. The idea that non-Trinitarians are not Christians goes back at least 1700 years, no matter whose vantage-point on the question you take.

Those who support the idea, of course, believe it goes back much further than the fourth century and the ministry of Athanasius. I believe that these discussions about the nature of who Jesus is and the connected issues of the nature of the Godhead are given as essentials of the Christian faith in the New Testament itself.

When John encountered people who were embracing defective views of the nature of God and the nature of Jesus. He declared that they were antiChrists. In 1 John 2:18-24, he is addressing people who were denying the deity of Christ, declaring that they were not Christians (by that mere fact) and that they were antichrists! Remember, these are people who "went out from us," so they had been church members. They had professed repentance from their sins and had professed allegiance to Jesus as Lord. They just hadn't come to agreement about the nature of God, the nature of Jesus, and the intersection of those two concepts.

In 1 John 4:1-3, the target includes people who are denying the humanity of Christ (that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh). Again, John labels them as antichrists and rejects the idea that they are saved.

John's second epistle makes very much the same emphasis.

And so, Dwight, it is not that 1700 years of Christian believers from every orthodox denomination spanning every continent of the globe have made up an additional requirement of salvation without any scriptural support for having done so. The New Testament has added on to repentance and confession of Jesus as Lord a third concept: FAITH. The New Testament clarifies for us that the non-negotiable content of that faith includes the information that we have received about the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. Trinitarianism concerns nothing less and nothing more than that question: What is the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

And so, it is for that, biblical, reason that I do not acknowledge as Christians any who have a different view of the relationship between God the Son and God the Father than the relationship taught in the Bible.

I'm thankful that Jakes has come to embrace that biblical teaching. That is a matter worthy of celebration in heaven and on earth.

Bart Barber said...

Let me add, before anyone asks, that I am not saying that it is necessary to UNDERSTAND the Trinity before becoming a Christian. If so, we're all in trouble. Rather, I'm saying that it is necessary NOT TO DENY the biblical teachings about the nature of Jesus and the nature of God.

Big Daddy Weave said...

I stated on SBC Voices that there is a line between preaching economic empowerment and preaching a prosperity gospel.

I think Jakes over the years has probably crossed that line a few times or more. Rev. McKissic makes a good point when he brings up capital campaigns. I think there's a line between acceptable capital campaign pitches and preaching a prosperity gospel.

I've heard a few consultants in SBC churches cross that line when trying to "sell" the congregation on a building project.

The difference between Jakes and the SBC stewardship guy who will say just about anything (not all do this, but some do, I think) is Jakes visible associations with Prosperity pastors.

Although, I think we now have to put some of those associations in context having learned that Jakes has also enjoyed friendships with folks like Jack Graham.

If there's anything to fault Jakes on, it's his lived out ecumenical practices and tolerance of an orthodoxy that is more generous than what creedal SBCers have to offer.

Again, I think Jakes has crossed the line from time to time on the prosperity front. But having listened to him over the years on late night TV (ALL THE TIME while an undergrad at UGA), I know that he's no Creflo Dollar. He ain't Eddie Long. That's a good thing.

Obviously, Jakes was at one time a Oneness Pentecostal. When did he cease being Oneness? I don't think anyone knows. Ed Stetzer mentioned that Jakes made similar statements like at ER on Australian radio at some point in the past.

That Jakes hasn't given a prime-time interview to a mainstream-evangelical publication doesn't mean that he wasn't already out of the closet.

Bottom line it seems is that Jakes just doesn't address the subject of the Trinity on a regular or even quasi-regular basis. I think it was Curtis Freeman who has written that Baptists (Southern and CBFers alike) are really functional Unitarians. We're a Jesus people. We focus less on the Trinity than other traditions.

Jakes has been around a long long time. The evidence being used against him was really a little weak. Even at ER, he affirmed three PERSONS while also embracing his preference for the word "manifestation."

My take away from this is that there's probably a real lack of understanding between the average Oneness Pentecostal and the average Southern Baptist. I'm sure there are some rather dogmatic Oneness folks who do indeed see a real difference between their view of God and our view. But, as Jakes hinted, there's probably quite a few who just see this as a matter of semantics. They will affirm both the language of manifestations and persons.

If I ever end up moving to the DFW area, before finding a good CBF church :-) I think I'll do a good Tour de Megachurches . My dad and I always talk about wanting to go to Potters House, Prestonwood, Ed Young's Fellowship, and a little progressive preaching from Fred Haynes III. Then again, we've also had dreams of catching some Cowboys (and before that Falcons) games. The life of an long-time interim recently turned popular SS teacher has stood in the way though!!!

Bart Barber said...


I agree with every statement in your comment. (Not that you are suggesting one…) I don't see any conflict between what you have written here and what I have written.

Marty Duren said...

Hi Bart,

I'm back from the dead temporarily.

I'm curious as to your comment about Jakes just now being saved because he's a confessed Trinitarian. He has stated that he was saved as a young man (teen, I think) with a Methodist/Baptist/and Pentecostal heritage. Apparently at that time he was in a Oneness Pentecostal church. According to you, a person can be saved without a full understanding of the Trinity. If he was saved with an incomplete understanding then baptized then why do call for him to be baptized now?

In the Christianity Today article in 2000 linked in Ed Stetzer's article, Jakes affirms is thorough language his belief in the Trinity, must the same as the Elephant Room, sans use of the word person. He even told Driscoll, "I'm with you. I've been with you." Why do you say he has just now confessed Trinitarianism? He hasn't just confessed it.

His church website says, "There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit." I cannot believe people stay hung up on manifestations when it is clear the Father, Son and Holy Spirit cannot have each eternally existed if they appeared in succession.

The question is not whether he confessed it earlier. He did. People just chose not to believe him. I refuse to believe he had to more than he had already done. Frankly, I felt he was very humble--much more so than other leaders I've seen--to allow himself to be cross examined by Driscoll for the sake of the gospel.

Bart Barber said...

Good afternoon, Marty,

My statement, to quote exactly, was "When Jakes became a Trinitarian, he became a Christian." I did not speculate as to when that happened.

Jakes himself said that he had been a modalist in the past. He describes his movement to Trinitarianism as just that, a movement: "I began to understand that some of the dogma that I’d been taught in the Oneness movement was very dogmatic and very narrow and really not the best description of how I now understand the Godhead." How he "now [understands the Godhead" versus "the dogma that [he'd] been taught."

And so, I proceed from a simple understanding that nobody is a Christian who is also a non-Trinitarian.

If somebody had come up to me in 2006 and said, "Hey, Bart, in six years you guys will be fighting over the doctrine of the Trinity," I'd have punched them in the mouth and called them a liar.

Stephen said...

Dwight: "If Bishop Jakes is a prosperity preacher, the same allegation must be leveled against every SBC capital stewardship fund-raising program that I'm aware of-that usually tell those who pledge that they can anticipate blessings from God related to their giving.If Bishop Jakes is a prosperity preacher, we must also label Bruce Wilkinson author of "The Prayer Of Jabez" a prosperity preacher."

Absolutely! Two points: 1, If capital campaigns are propagated in the manner you describe "give us money and God will bless you!" then yes that is prosperity gospel. On the other hand, something along the lines of "contribute to this new project so as a church WE can be a blessing to this community, because God has already blessed us so," than that can be very helpful (concerns about bad church economy aside, are we spending more of our offerings back on ourselves or on ministry to others? but that's another topic).

2, there was really a doubt that "prayer of Jabez"-type literature was not prosperity gospel? He's not the first in the genre, but he won't be the last at taking a small portion of Scripture where God blessed such and such a person, making wild application all the way to us modern Christians, claiming God will automatically grant us our wildest dreams if we just mimic such and such's actions... all with little discussion of our sin, need for a Savior, and the New Testament's overwhelming expectation of physical suffering on Christians to the glory of God. Isn't that the prosperity gospel?

Marty Duren said...

Thanks, Bart.

I'm not sure I was clear, though. My point is not what Jakes is now disavowing. You indicated a) he should be baptized at the point he became a Trinitarian. Yet in the comment thread you indicated b) "Let me add, before anyone asks, that I am not saying that it is necessary to UNDERSTAND the Trinity before becoming a Christian. If so, we're all in trouble. Rather, I'm saying that it is necessary NOT TO DENY the biblical teachings about the nature of Jesus and the nature of God."

Jakes suggests that he was saved as a young man, without--as we now know--a full understanding of the Trinity. That isn't the same as denying. If that were the case, how to account for the people who came to faith in Christ between His ascension and the church councils? Do you posit that each person who came to faith in Christ during that time had an understanding of the Trinity that was non-problematic? What of those who never knew of the concept? Before the church had even settled on the Deity of Christ?

I'm not suggesting at all that the scripture is unclear, and don't get me wrong. I'm Trinitarian. But it seems a dangerously unsafe direction to move from "Jesus Christ and Him crucified," to additional doctrines to confirm.

It seems that Paul was dealing with this very issue at Colosse when he declared, "In Him is all the presence of the Godhead bodily." It is obvious that he was addressing error arising from syncretism, yet he addressed them as "saints" and "brothers" in Christ.

Bart Barber said...


I don't UNDERSTAND the Trinity, yet I accept it. Anyone who has rejected the Trinity might be characterized as someone who has failed to understand. That simply was not what I meant by speaking about understanding the Trinity.

What he's now disavowing is that to which he once subscribed. Yes, he might frame that story of conversion as one of increasing understanding, as indeed might people who have come to Christ from any of a thousand other directions. And there is indeed a sense in which conversion is the experience of having been enlightened by the Light of the world.

However, my earlier comment about understanding the Trinity was intended to convey the idea of grasping the Trinity in its entirety from an intellectual standpoint.

As to the groups that you have mentioned, I would simply say:

1. The people who came to Christ between His ascension and the councils were Trinitarians, as many of them as were Christians. The doctrine of the Trinity was not invented in Nicea in 325. If you do not believe that the scriptures are unclear, and if you believe that they were authored prior to the fourth century, then you yourself cannot believe that people in the ante-Nicene period were left without direction on this question.

2. No institution that was ever unsettled on the question of the deity of Christ was ever a church. The doctrine of the deity of Christ was not invented in councils.

As I said earlier to Dwight, the doctrine of the natures of the persons of the Godhead is contained within "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." 1 John and 2 John have settled that for us once and for all.

Mark said...


Jakes is on record stating, "And yes, I did grow up in a Oneness church. I started there. I started in a Baptist church, but at around 16 or so I did become involved with Oneness. I used to adamantly defend every tenant of what they believed."

It seems the Jakes knew/knows exactly what he believed and defended.

Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Mark. I appreciate that you have been following this longer and more carefully than I have.

Ben said...

Concering Jakes' answers at ER2, here's a great interview with a former Oneness pastor/theologian who now espouses full trinitarianism: He easily sees through Jakes' smokescreen. Read this and you may reconsider your statement that "Jakes's statement satisfies me that he is a Trinitarian."

Marty Duren said...

I'm not arguing that Jakes was never Oneness. (At least I didn't mean to do it if I did.)

But, I don't see Jakes equating his move to Oneness with salvation; did I miss that? Bart's point is that Jakes was not saved until he acknowledged God in three Persons, blessed Trinity. Which, as it turns out, was 11 years ago (at the latest) in the CT article.

I don't buy that Jakes move to Oneness equates to a denial of the Trinity at his salvation. It equates, if anything, to being deceived after his salvation to a modalist view, from which, after studying the scriptures, he turned. That is not salvation, nor a need for baptism.

Thanks for your response, Bart, on the early Christians. I worded that poorly. Of course, I do not believe the doctrine of the Trinity was invented in the church councils. But, I cannot believe that the followers of Christ your describe from the early denied the Trinity by a lack of understanding any more than Jakes did if he was saved before learning Oneness doctrine. That's the point I'm trying to make.

Mark said...


Now you're confusing me. I thought you were saying that Jakes was saved in a Oneness church and that he did not really understand what he believed so he should get a pass on the Trinity. This is why I quoted him explaining that he defended Oneness doctrine to show that he knew what he believed about the Trinity so he did not have an excuse.

Furthermore, I thought Jakes again admitted at the Elephant Room that he was saved in a Oneness church.

You may be interested in Voddie Baucham's comments. In the comment section on his FB wall he says that Jakes is a Modalist and Jakes is the reason he turned down the invitation to ER.

Bart Barber said...


Pointing, again, to 1 John, those who go out from us on matters regarding the nature of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, never were part of us.
If, at any point, Jakes embraced Oneness theology (which is ipso facto a denial of the Trinity…that's what Oneness theology is…that's what JAKES said that Oneness theology is, if the transcripts are to be believed), then he "went out from us" on the very subject matter that is in view in 1 John.

That's why I believe what I believe about the matter.

Mark said...

One more item. His alumni page states, Bishop T. D. Jakes He currently is the pastor of The Potter's House, in Dallas, Texas. His views on God and water baptism is Oneness Pentecostal."


This indicates that further that he professed Oneness doctrine while leading the Potter's House which would have been years after he defended Oneness doctrine. He is also still on the board of a Oneness organization that he does conferences with.

If Jakes is that ignorant about doctrine and such maybe he should not be in the pastorate at this time.

Joe Blackmon said...

The main concern I have is that while he did state that he believes in the Trinity, he was not willing to do the right thing and denounce modalism as heresy and modalists as heretics.

Marty Duren said...

Thanks for your explanation of your position. I'm trying to process all of this across a lot of fronts which is contributing to my lack of clarity at times.

I'm not convinced that every early Christian believer was as clear on the subject as you make them out to be. The early churches were riddled with errors, ergo the amount of correction in the epistles, including the nature of the Godhead. It remains that, even when addressing gross error, the apostles still called them "saints" and "brothers." If the apostles accepted them as believers even while correcting their understanding, I don't see how we can parse things more finely. I agree with John about the ones that left, but it seems to me he wasn't correcting/instructing the ones who had left, but the ones who remained.

My scenario is that Jakes had a misunderstanding of the Trinity at the time of his salvation, not that he never was Oneness.

I once heard Paige Patterson say, "Some people are saved in spite of what they've been taught, not because of it." I do not posit that Jakes, whenever he was saved, denied the Trinity. I do posit that, if he repented of his sins, believed in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and placed his full faith and trust in him, believing in his heart that Jesus had been raised from the dead, then he was saved, even if he was unclear on the Trinity, and despite what his church believed.

I'm not arguing he was never a modalist, and I'm not arguing anything at all about Oneness Pentecostals or any Oneness denomination.

Voddie Baugham says one thing, Jakes says another and Jack Graham agrees with Jakes. He said, he said. Not really a concern of mine.

Thanks for the interaction. I won't drag this on any further. If you need to respond, you (and/or Mark) can have the last word.

Mark said...


I'm sorry you feel the need to give me the last word. You have clarified what I thought you meant when you wrote, "My scenario is that Jakes had a misunderstanding of the Trinity at the time of his salvation, not that he never was Oneness."

I believe I answered your position in my previous comment. Maybe we are talking past each other.

Let's say Jakes had a misunderstanding of the Trinity when he professed belief in Christ. He was clearly discipled by Oneness people since right after, in his own words, he "adamantly defended" Oneness doctrine. Therefore, it cannot be said that he did not know the doctrine of the Trinity which is what he opposed in defending Oneness doctrine.

If one's profession of faith is to be known within the realm of embracing heretical theology then that profession should not be a valid one.