My brother, Mark, likes to pass out junk mail at staff meetings. You're liable to leave his study loaded down with some interesting bits... like the Sunday program from 1st Pres. (which generally is a treasure trove of good devotional and historical information)... or with painful mass mail junk, like the latest "Christian" exercise video. I've not inflicted such joy on the staff in Cayman. Neither am I on as many mailing lists as Mark, in part because I'm new here, in part because people probably can't spell my name, and in part because the cost of mailing junk to Grand Cayman is quite prohibitive.
But I did receive an interesting copy of The Aspen Idea from the the Aspen Institute. It is apparently their highlights from 2006 issue. Everybody and their mother was involved in their "ideas festival" (well... not me and my mama, but a whole of the who's who on the national and international scene). I was drawn to the picture of TD Jakes... large teethy smile with trademark gap, nice knit sweater, nestled between Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, Katie Couric, Sandra Day O'Connor and others. Quite an august crowd.
On one level, I'm happy for the West Virginia boy made good. I'm thankful for his emphasis on caring for the inner city and on multi-ethnic concerns. Without doubt, a whole heap of hurting people have been helped in some measure by his ministry.
Bob Schieffer interviewed Jakes in an article called "The Bridge Builder." The interview positions Jakes as an unconventional team player orbiting somewhere short of "Pentecostal evangelicals... aggressively proselytizing" and different from "white megachurch and black megachurch" pastors.
Jakes explains that not all churches, much less megachurches, are alike. They're distinctive. True. But, he was silent on the "Pentecostal evangelicals... aggressively proselytizing" comment. He went on to talk about not being on the extremes and not using methods from another era (civil rights marches and demonstrations) to get things done. We need different idioms ("mediums" perhaps?).
After reading the article, I couldn't help but think that his comments were entirely beside the point, especially his reaction to the "proselytizing" question. What an opportunity, among the intellectual, political, and economic elites of the world, to proclaim the truth about our risen Lord and Savior. Instead, the Bishop waxed poetic about "progress" and "social issues" (at least the editors of the article make it seem this way). Which is really what bothers me about Jakes (aside from denying the Trinity): I can't ever recall his ever being clear about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I've not seen it in his books, in his videos or TV programs, or in any interviews I've read. It's just not there.
The man commands a huge international following... which should mean the Lord Jesus is being heralded to countless millions. But Jesus doesn't receive much of a cameo really.
We've been studying Galatians 1 in our Wednesday night Bible study. Last night we meditated on verses 8 and 9 where the apostle Paul pronounces his twin anathemas on those who throw others into confusion by perverting the gospel. I wonder what Paul's pronouncement would be upon a man like Jakes? I wonder why our pronouncements are not the same?
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