This morning I am on my way to Hudson Community Chapel in Hudson, OH in order to watch a video simulcast of the Elephant Room, which is a point, counter-point discussion on ministry by seven different pastors or church leaders from around the country. It is hosted by James McDonald and Walk in the Word Ministries. This is the second time they have put on a one-day conference like this. On their website, they state their purpose:
"The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently.
These are conversations about the most Christ honoring ways of building a church. Our goal is unity, however a true unity cannot be fashioned in pretense or denial of truth nor can it be won among those who prefer sectarianism to the unity Jesus prayed for. To advance Christ's call to unity we must do what men have always done, we must push and prod and challenge and sharpen each others' beliefs and methods. Fidelity and fruitfulness, both matter. No one has a corner on the truth and methods must do more than 'work.'
The events today bring together men from all over the country, from all walks of life, all different philosophies of ministry, and theological backgrounds to debate seven different topics from the purpose of denominations to what components are essential for the biblical gospel. But there is no doubt that the session I am looking forward to the most, as well as most people I have talked to, is the one entitled "Ticket To Ride." It is a debate between Mark Driscoll and T.D. Jakes on the "majors" of Christian doctrine.
It has been well discussed in the blogosphere that Jakes is a Modalist (He denies the Trinity). Well, that has been the accusation at least. I just hope that issue is targeted by Driscoll. I can't imagine it wouldn't be a major point of discussion. And I really hope that when the question is asked to Jakes and he says, "Of course, I believe in the Trinity," that Driscoll drops some quotes that Jakes has said in the past to make him clarify his position. This will be a MAJOR disappointment if this issue is not discussed.
The other interesting point about this conference is the timing of James MacDonald resigning from The Gospel Coalition yesterday. Certainly this is no accident in timing. He says in his blog post that his reasoning is that he has a "very different view on how to relate to the broader church and how the gospel must impact every relationship." He says, "I don't want my minor role on the Council to hinder their work as a whole or to give the impression they agree with all God has called me to do." I am trying not to read into those statements, but they do concern me. I have appreciated MacDonald and the Harvest Bible Fellowship and all that it stands for in regards to gospel preaching. But I just wonder what he means by how he relates to the broader church. I thought the purpose of The Gospel Coalition was to rally around the gospel message. Is there a church outside of the gospel?
It should be interesting. Probably what I am looking forward to the most is spending some time with Amos, the young man who is helping with our student ministries. I hope this one-day conference will bring up some conversations for us as I help him work through some philosophy of ministry. I will try to post some thoughts later in the week after I process some of the days events.