Ethics: Pastoral Candidate Answers Questions on the Trinity

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What would you do Wednesday!

For years T.D. Jakes has been unclear when challenged to give his position on the Trinity. His most recent answers to questions on the Trinity are from a radio appearance in 2010 which I’ve transcribed.1 Even though he mentions that he believes that God exists in “three Persons,” he offered an unexplained qualification by stating that he believes this in a “way that Persons is a limited word for the Godhead.”

I would like to bring Jakes’ answers on the Trinity to your church by way of a pastoral candidate.

During a pastoral search, your congregation has decided on a final candidate to be called to serve as the full-time pastor/preacher. The candidate has the opportunity to answer a few questions from the congregation during a final, special meeting before this man is called to be your pastor. So far, everything about this candidate seems to be a fit.

The Q&A is in progress.

Church member: Mr. Candidate, the statement of faith of your current church states that, “There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

This statement is similar, if not the same as can be found in Oneness, or Modalist, congregations. Given this belief statement, what is you view on the Trinity?

Candidate: As you know, or may not know, I grew up in a Oneness church. I used to strongly defend Oneness doctrines in my youth. Today I no longer defend those views, but neither to I judge them since I don’t feel God has called me to correct doctrine. I also know that not every Oneness person believes exactly the same thing.

My own views on the Trinity are evolving. As for my current church, since they are non-denominational I have no problem with that belief statement.

Church member: But Mr. Candidate, do you believe in the Trinity and deny the heresy of Modalism?

Candidate: Well, like I said, I am not called to judge the doctrine of other Christians. I am called to other tasks in the body. I still have many Oneness friends and even speak at their conferences with them.

As to the Trinity, I believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are Persons in a way that word “persons” is limited. I also believe that there is distinction in the Godhead meaning there are things that can be said about the Father that cannot be said about the Son and then the Holy Spirit. That’s my position on the Trinity.

What would you do?

  • Accept his answers and call him as pastor?
  • Reject is answers and oppose him as pastor?
  • Ask for further clarification such as…?
  • Invite him to your next national conference?
  • Or…?

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tagged as , in Culture,morality

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelly Reed October 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm

There is no way I could accept a pastor with those kinds of ambiguous answers. At the minimum, I would ask for clarification with questions that would try to lock that down.
The pastor of a church is responsible to Christ, the Word of God and the congregation he is leading and teaching–the opinions and feelings of his friends should not alter his convictions nor what he would teach to his congregation. It is his responsibility to have a clear doctrine and conviction–the fact that he can state his conviction is not a judgment on what someone else believes.

Giving his conviction does not make him their judge. But he should be willing to separate even from friends to be true to what Scripture teaches. If he is more concerned with offending them than God, he is not qualified to be a pastor. Galatians 1:10. To his master, each servant will be responsible, since T.D. Jakes will never be their master, nor they his, he should speak clearly and with conviction.

2 Brent Hobbs October 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I would vote to reject him as the pastor of a church where I was a member. And I would encourage others to do likewise, if ever faced with the same situation. One of a pastor’s many roles is to guard sound doctrine. Any question as to trinitarian beliefs should disqualify him from consideration.

3 Mark October 20, 2011 at 10:21 am

Kelly and Brent, thanks for the comments. Well said!

It is hard to understand why someone who answers (not really) as the above pastor does on doctrine like the Trinity would be accepted and promoted.

4 Tammy December 29, 2011 at 12:10 am

My family has just gone through a horrible situation involving this “oneness”, or “Jesus Only” theology. We were members of our church for 4 years and my husband was the worship leader. After all this time we found out that our church was a oneness church! It was not talked about from the pulpit and it wasnt clearly pointed out in the membership class. The leaders deceved us and many other families. In all 18 families left the church when it came out in the open, but many stayed because they were smooth talked.

Satan’s lies are subtle. If he showed up in the church with horns and a pitch fork we could point him out right away, but these subtle untruths are the lies that we believe more easily. This was a very painful experience for me and my family because we were a very close church family and it hurt to leave. It also hurt to find we had been deceived by our pastor and other leaders for so many years.

It’s been 3 monthes and we have not mustered up the strengh to go to another church. The wounds are deep and it is taking time to heal. I have to say that although this has left me very untrusting of pastors and other people, I still trust God and know that He is good- all the time : )

5 Mark December 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Tammy,

I’m sorry to read about your situation. Now may be the best and most needed time for you all to find a local body to belong to. You may want to find a church be upfront with the pastor(s). Explain your situation thoroughly. Any orthodox congregation should have no problem empathizing with your situation and accepting and praying with you all, etc. Also, if you find a conservative Presbyterian or Baptist church that is part of a larger denomination their statement of faith will be clear and available.

6 Tammy December 29, 2011 at 2:16 pm

That was our first mistake, joining a non-denominational church. The Pastor only had the board to answer to- and the board answered to no one. We learned that there needs to be somone above the board and the Pastor.

Their statement of faith read “* One true God revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, which we mistakenly interpreted as the Holy Trinity. We had never heard of “oneness” theology. We won’t be fooled again on that one!

We live in the south and there is Masonry in many of the Baptist churches here so we tend to steer away from them. This is supposed to be the “Bible Belt”, but it is really more like the cult belt! So much deception.

THank you for your response and your encouragement : )

7 Mark December 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

Tammy,

I live in the South too and used to live even further south in the Savannah, GA area. I also used to be a Free Mason until I became a Christian so I do understand those issues.

Maybe searching for a church on the 9Marks website may help.
http://www.9marks.org/churchsearch/

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