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See: T.D. Jakes says he has embraced doctrine of the Trinity, but has he?


This is an archived entry.
This popular preacher, also known as "Bishop Jakes," comes from a United Pentecostal background. He pastors The Potter's House (Dallas, Texas) one of America's fastest-growing megachurches. He is also a leader and elected bishop of the "Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies," a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches - though not identified as such at the T.D. Jakes Ministries web site:

In 1979, Pastor Jakes opened the doors of his first church located in a storefront facility in Montgomery, WV with only 10 members. The church eventually became known as The Temple of Faith and was affiliated with Ohio-based Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, a Pentecostal organization that governs many churches of similar persuasion.
T.D. Jakes MinistriesOff-site Link, (Accessed Mar. 3, 2000)

In "Christianity Today" recently, T.D. Jakes said "This small fellowship of churches is not a denomination, and differs in many ways from traditional Apostolic churches." No indication is given on how and where they differ.

Answers in Action - in a statement about Promise Keepers, says

(...) Promise Keepers speakers are not always theologically sound,biblically centered, mature Christian speakers. (For example, they have repeatedly promoted T. D. Jakes, a United Pentecostal pastor/evangelist who denies -- along with his denomination -- the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and promotes baptismal regeneration.

And Charisma Magazine, in an article supportive of Oneness Pentecostalism, notes:

(...) Because of recent upheaval in the UPC, many pastors have left to establish prominent independent Oneness churches. And many popular preachers in the black charismatic community--most notably T.D. Jakes of Dallas--have Oneness roots.

One of the "frequently-asked questions" posted on Jakes' web site is: "What has been your reception in the evangelical community?" Jakes Answers:

''I've had only one or two experiences where people had a problem accepting my diversity -- either racially or doctrinally. For some reason, God has just given me the grace to be able to sit on many different platforms.''
Questions for T.D. JakesOff-site Link (Accessed Mar. 3, 2000)

Unfortunately, Jakes' doctrinal diversity appears to include classic Oneness Pentecostal Heresies, though - in an apparent effort to appeal to a wider audience - the usual Oneness theology is toned down somewhat at TD Jakes' official web site. See, for example, its statement on the Trinity:

God--There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three Manifestations: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ--Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He died on the cross, the complete and final sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate.

The Holy Spirit--The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and during this age, to convict men of sin, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for godly living and service.
Ministry BeliefsOff-site Link (Last checked Dec. 14, 1999, and archived here). The current statement, last accessed June 28, 2007, still refers to 'manifestations,' but now with a lower case.

The belief that God exists in three "manifestations" is called Sabellianism or modalism:

Sabellianism or Modalism. Sabellius (A.D. 200), the originator of this viewpoint, spoke of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but he understood all three as no more than three manifestations of one God. This teaching came to be known as modalism because it views one God who variously manifests Himself in three modes of existence: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

John Morehead writes:

Orthodox Christians and Oneness adherents are agreed that the Scriptures teach that there is only one God. The classic text in this regard is Deut. 6:4Off-site Link. Numerous other biblical passages teach that there is only one God. However, the Bible nowhere teaches that the "oneness" of God is to be understood as only one Person. Here orthodox Christianity and Oneness Pentecostalism diverge. Christianity affirms one God in three co-existing persons as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Oneness theology affirms one God in one person, Jesus Christ, in three modes or manifestations.

Interestingly, the "Ministry Beliefs" statement at the TD Jakes website differs from the "Doctrinal Statement for T.D. Jakes/Potter's House Ministries" at the same web site. This one provides us with another look at the doctrine of the Trinity:

THREE DIMENSIONS OF ONE GOD (1 John 5:7Off-site Link; Mathew 28:19Off-site Link; 1 Tim 3:16Off-site Link)

We believe in one God who is eternal in His existence, Triune in His manifestation, being both Father, Son and Holy Ghost AND that He is Sovereign and Absolute in His authority.

We believe in the Father who is God Himself, Creator of the universe. {Gen 1:1Off-site Link; John 1:1Off-site Link}

We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Col 2:9Off-site Link) He suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead for our total salvation (Luke 3:21-22Off-site Link; Philippians 2:5-11Off-site Link). We believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 3:36Off-site Link; John 3:31-32Off-site Link; John 14:6Off-site Link).

We believe in the Holy Spirit who is God indwelling, empowering and regenerating the believer. This Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. The Spirit of Truth (John 14:17Off-site Link,
14:26Off-site Link)

At first glance, this may sound a little better. However, saying that God has "three dimensions" and adding the word "Triune" does not indicate adherence to orthodox doctrine regarding the Trinity. In fact, the statement appears to be worded to appeal to both Oneness believers and Trinitarians, even though it is impossible to hold both the Oneness and the Trinitarian position - or to compromise on the doctrine of the Trinity.

Responding to a posting of Jakes' Doctrinal Statement on the AR-talk mailing list, Dr. Gordon LewisOff-site Link wrote, "The revised statement on God revives Sabellian modalism. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not merely three manifestations of one God in history, three different hats he wears."

Bottom line: the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is that the Father Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct, co-existent, co-equal Persons within the one God. If that is what TD Jakes Ministries beliefs, it should make an unequivocal statement to that effect. However, repeated emailed requests for clarification on this issue have gone unanswered.

But in February, 2000, Christianity TodayOff-site Link reported:

The quarterly journal of the southern California–based Christian Research Institute (http://www.equip.org/) quotes from public remarks by Jakes to argue that, whatever baptismal formulas he uses in different venues, his primary theological language for the Godhead remains Oneness Pentecostal.
(...)

One of the Journal's most detailed quotations comes from a Los Angeles radio show, ''Living By the Word.'' KKLA-FM broadcast host Jim Coleman's interview with Jakes on August 23 and 30, 1998.

Coleman asks Jakes how important it is for Christians to believe in the Trinity. Jakes responds:

I think it's very, very significant that we first of all study the Trinity apart from salvation, and first of all that we embrace Christ and come to him to know who he is. Having come to know who he is, then we begin to deal with the Trinity, which I believe is a very complex issue. The Trinity, the term 'Trinity,' is not a biblical term, to begin with.

It's a theological description for something that is so beyond human comprehension that I'm not sure that we can totally hold God to a numerical system. The Lord said, ''Behold, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one, and beside him there is no other.'' When God got ready to make a man that looked like him, he didn't make three. He made one man. However, that one man had three parts. He was body, soul, and spirit. We have one God, but he is Father in creation, Son in redemption, and Holy Spirit in regeneration.

(...)
''Given his and his ministry's insistence on modalist language in describing the Trinity, the assertions of his colleague [associate minister Lawrence Robinson] that he is a modalist, and his affiliation with a Oneness group, we have every reason to doubt that by 'Trinity' his ministry means three eternally distinct Persons,'' Miller told CHRISTIANITY TODAY.
Apologetics Journal Criticizes T.D. JakesOff-site Link, Christianity Today, February 7, 2000, Vol. 44, No. 2, Page 58

Christianity Today also posted a response by T.D. JakesOff-site Link showing that he is, indeed, a modalist:

While I mix with Christians from a broad range of theological perspectives, I speak only for my personal faith and convictions. I am not a theologian, and I avoid quoting even theologians who agree with me. To defend my beliefs, I go directly to the Bible.

My views on the Godhead are from 1 John 5:7-8, "For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." (NKJV)

I believe in one God who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I believe these three have distinct and separate functions — so separate that each has individual attributes, yet are one. I do not believe in three Gods.
T.D. Jakes, "My Views on the Godhead", Christianity Today Online edition

See also, "T.D. Jakes Responds To The (Christian Research) Journal."

Bottom-line: In its initial article, the Christian Research Journal writes:

Even well-discipled and discerning Christians find it challenging to differentiate between the truth and error found in Jakes’s teachings — let alone the watching secular world. The New York Times published an article on 1 January 1999 regarding how America has always had a national evangelist. ''Ever since the colonial era, America has had a pre-eminent preacher who played an unofficial role as national evangelist, preaching a simple message of repentance and salvation and drawing vast crowds in the process. For the last 50 years that role has been filled by the Rev. Billy Graham. But at the turn of the century with Mr. Graham now 80, the question arises, Who if anyone can take his place.''63 It is sobering that of the five possible successors to Billy Graham listed, one of them is T. D. Jakes.

There is no denying that T. D. Jakes has many fine leadership qualities, and the social outreaches of his Potter’s House church appear quite commendable. But, while sound doctrine is not the only criterion for leadership among Christians (1 Tim. 3:1–13), it is certainly a necessary criterion (Tit. 1:9–11). Do we really want a non-Trinitarian to be the spiritual leader of our country? If the answer to this question is anything but an unequivocal no, the future looks dark indeed for the American church.
The Man, His Ministry, And His Movement: Concerns About The Teachings Of T.D. JakesOff-site Link by by Jerry L. Buckner, writing in the Christian Research Journal

- Articles -
Christian Get Ready For T.D. Jakes, The Velcro Bishop With Another GospelOff-site Link (Contra) Article by Personal Freedom Outreach
Christian The Man, His Ministry, And His Movement: Concerns About The Teachings Of T.D. JakesOff-site Link by by Jerry L. Buckner, writing in the Christian Research Journal 
Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox The Other PentecostalsOff-site Link (Pro) Charisma Magazine article supporting oneness heresy. Archived at Rick Ross' site. While it briefly mentions TD Jakes, the article represents the lack of discernment that leads to the promotion of error within the Church.
Christian Swift Growth Shapes Potter's HouseOff-site Link January 12, 1998, Christianity Today item on the growth of Jakes' church.
Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox T.D. Jakes Responds To The (Christian Research) JournalOff-site LinkPDF file
Although he has not directly corresponded with the JOURNAL, T. D. Jakes has publicly responded to last issue's cover article, "The Man, His Ministry, and His Movement: Concerns about the Teachings of T. D. Jakes" by Jerry L. Buckner. He did so in an "op-ed" piece written for Christianity Today, which saw three somewhat different incarnations.1 While we are unable to reproduce his reply in full, the following points warrant consideration:

- See Also -
Christian What difference does the doctrine of the Trinity make?Off-site Link Part of Robert Bowman's outline study on the Trinity

- Sites -
Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox T.D. Jakes MinistriesOff-site Link (PRO) Official Site
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