James MacDonald has decided against publishing the transcripts of Elephant Room II. I certainly understand this final decision is in his hands as he is the Pastor of an autonomous church and it was his church and his ministry that presented this to the public. However, there is one statement that makes me ask the question “Did I miss something?”
Pastor MacDonald, concerning Pastor Jakes trinitarian confession says; “He disavowed modalism.” Disavow is defined in Merrian-Webster as; 1. to deny responsibility for, 2. to refuse to acknowledge or accept. I was neither in the room nor watching it on a simulcast. There is more to rely on than these notes posted as Baptist Press posted the entire transcript. I understand that it can be argued that BP does not posses official transcripts but within the notes or the transcript there is nothing where Pastor Jakes “disavowed modalism.” The closest Pastor Jakes comes to disavowing modalist teaching is the following statements:
“I began to understand that some of the dogma that I was taught in the Oneness movement was very dogmatic and very narrow and really not the best description of how I now understand the Godhead.” (Not in Notes)
“So even though I moved away from what that church’s teaching, I didn’t want to throw rocks.”
“The Bible made me rethink my ideas and I got quiet about it for a while. There are things that you can say about the Father you cannot say about the Son or the Spirit. There are distinctives. I’m very comfortable with that.”
“I believe that neither one of them [definition of modalism and trinitarianism] totally did it for me, but I think the latter one is where I stand today. ” [Not in Notes]
“One God, three Persons. One God, Three Persons, and here is why — I am not crazy about the word “persons.” … My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except for the … manifestations…Which you describe as modalist, and I describe it as Pauline.”
These statements come the closest to “disavowing” modalism that I can find, but none of the statements express an acknowledgment of modalism as an unorthodox teaching. Neither Pastor Jakes nor any one on the panel acknowledged that modalism is a heresy. To add fodder to the heresy gristmill our own former SBC president Dr. Jack Graham, who did not correct the statement, was attributed with saying to Pastor Jakes; “there is going to be one throne and there’s going to be one God we can see…” The statement attributed to Dr. Graham along with the transcript of the session can be seen here.
Pastor MacDonald may be able to clear up this discrepancy by merely releasing the word-for-word transcript of the session, or at least acknowledging the BP transcript is official. However, making the official transcripts public is something he has stated he will not do. While that is his decision he should not compare those who question Pastor Jakes decision as someone like the angry father that melts down in the mall restaurant. Especially when releasing the transcripts would drop all of the questions.
It seems that many today are calling for transparency and it also seems that is the purpose of the Elephant Room. Thus, Pastor MacDonald cannot call for transparency while withholding items that invoke a charge of non-transparency.