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ER2 Q&A with a former Oneness pastor

Jan - 27 - 2012
Richard Barcellos

I (Richard Barcellos) have invited my friend Jordan Dayoub to answer some questions about the recent Elephant Room 2 discussion between T. D. Jakes, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald. There are two reasons why I chose to do this: first, there are some folks in our church-plant with Oneness Pentecostal backgrounds and second, Jordan is a former Oneness pastor. So, here it goes.

RB: Jordan, can you describe your history with Oneness Pentecostalism?

JD: I was born into the movement. My parents were hippies in Los Angeles during the 1960s (my father raised a Roman Catholic and my mother born and raised a Jew), met a Oneness Pentecostal minister, embraced the theology in 1968, and started attending a Oneness congregation in South Los Angeles. The year I was born my father was ordained as a minister in the church we attended. At 18 years old I felt the call to preach and teach, attended Bible College and was later licensed as a minister in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). My wife and four children were discipled in the movement as well. We were very involved. My father planted a church and I became his youth pastor and eventually took over as the senior pastor. Like many heterodox groups, we believed we alone had the true gospel.

RB: How and why did you get out of it?

JD: Oneness Pentecostals refer to themselves as Apostolics and teach that the movement is a faithful representation of ante-Nicene apostolic Christianity. I began to study church history and historical theology and it became evident this claim was false. Our view on the godhead, expressed by sects like the Modalists, was roundly condemned by the early church. From that point forward I started earnestly praying for truth. The Holy Spirit led me to books, magazines, and publications by faithful orthodox and reformed theologians.

RB: What was it like believing what you had been taught (and what you taught) for so many years was wrong and what did you do once you came to orthodox convictions about the Trinity and other matters?

JD: Revolting from the Oneness movement and embracing biblical orthodoxy was complex. My initial reaction was a deep feeling of betrayal. On the one hand, I felt I was betrayed by the pastors and leaders who should have known and taught me better, I felt I was lied to. On the other hand, I felt I was betraying all that I had ever known, believed, and loved. There were family, friends, and
close relationships at stake. There was quite a bit of cognitive dissonance going on. I didn’t start with the Trinity. I first dealt with the idea of grace alone and the implications of the five solas. The Oneness understanding of the godhead (that God is not personified but manifest in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and that God really is just one person who takes on different modes) was the sacred cow and I avoided it at first. I dared not remove it without a firm grip on the alternative. It was difficult but once I saw how biblical the doctrine of the Trinity was, I also realized how unbiblical and false Oneness theology was.

RB: Did you hear (or read) the discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity between T. D. Jakes, Mark Driscoll, and James MacDonald and what was your over-all impression of that discussion?

JD: I read the article and even saw a clip on YouTube. Here’s the problem. Driscoll and MacDonald let him expound on his own views and experiences and I know it was in a spirit of love. What they’re unable to detect, because they’re unfamiliar, is the ecumenical smokescreen that big-time prosperity preachers like Jakes put up because he really cares nothing for theology. If you listen closely, his entire discourse is centered on denominational identities and bridging the divide. He says he was Metho-Baptist-Pentecostal because of his upbringing. He sees theology simply as petty divisions among varying tribes of Christian sects. Because he sees himself as a ‘bridge builder’, doctrine is merely semantics among those who profess Christ. He told them he believed in ‘God in three persons’ but never called himself a Trinitarian. His position today is exactly what it was 15 years ago – vague.

RB: Do you think it’s important to contextualize T. D. Jakes’ ER2 statements or should we take him at face-value, infusing meaning acceptable to the orthodox position on the Trinity into what he said? What I’m getting at is this: Do you think knowing what you know about Jakes and Oneness theology helps you understand him better than others might be able to who have no long history in his thought-world?

JD: Coming from the movement myself, I can understand this man’s words in ways most people can’t. There are two types of Oneness Pentecostals. There are the hardcore, doctrinally dogmatic types who care nothing for popularity or mega-church growth. These openly assert Oneness theology and declare the doctrine of the Trinity as heresy (from their viewpoint) and an aberration of
the apostles’ doctrine. They are not out to make friends but win people over to what they see as the true gospel. They are genuine and sincere though totally wrong and if ever converted they would make great Trinitarians. The other type (like Jakes) have adopted the seeker-sensitive approach which really guides all that they do. They are out to be successful, sell books, buy TBN time slots, and gain a national following. They see success as the end-game which justifies any and all means. That model is above all things, including truth or doctrinal purity. They see their small Oneness church pastor colleagues and know that it is precisely Oneness doctrine that keeps their congregations from growing and decide to abandon theology altogether. Anything that divides people they avoid no matter how central a tenet of Christian doctrine it is. They become de facto prosperity preachers because weak Christians enjoy hearing man-centered sermons that speak to their itching ears.

RB: Do you think asking for definitions of words like “manifest” and “person” is important and why in the case of Jakes?

JD: By insisting to use the word “manifest” instead of “person” he was able to save face with his large Oneness following. It was an important distinction made that his interviewers could not appreciate.

RB: What questions would you have liked the ER2 men to ask Jakes on the Trinity?

JD: If you are a Trinitarian, why don’t you teach it to your congregation seeing it is so central to Christian dogma? You said your understanding of the godhead has been in transition, when you finally reach the end of your journey of understanding regarding the Trinity, will you openly teach it and renounce modalism as false like the early church did? Are you willing to risk losing members for that truth? Those are the questions I would have asked.

RB: Do you think they should have asked him questions about the prosperity gospel?

JD: Yes. In the last 20 years, Oneness churches have witnessed the tremendous successes of the prosperity gospel movement and largely adopted their mode of operation. In many scenarios they have effectively merged the two but the latter has swallowed up the former. T. D. Jakes’ unorthodox view on the godhead is just the tip of the iceberg. He is a prosperity preacher through and through. Men like Jakes see theological nuance as labels and baggage. He, along with many other successful mega-church CEO pastors, play both sides of the fence because it’s expedient and he doesn’t want to alienate anyone and that’s what he sees as valuable, not identifying absolute truth and exposing false doctrine.

RB: Assuming the best and that Jakes now affirms the orthodox view of the Trinity, if you were Mark Driscoll would you have asked him if he was going to publically recant for teaching damning heresy for so long?

JD: Yes. If he truly affirms an orthodox view of the Trinity, he must repent of his former teaching. The two views are totally incompatible.

RB: Elaborate on the practical implications of moving from modalism to the orthodox view in terms of Jakes’ church and world-wide impact. In other words, what would you do if you were T. D. Jakes and you now hold to the orthodox view of the Trinity after confusing so many people for such a long time?

JD: If I were Jakes, I would start to teach the Bible. That may sound like an oversimplification but men like Jakes may use the Bible every Sunday but don’t really teach it. I would start there.

RB: Comment on the following tweet I saw the other day: “The way Jakes played MacDonald & Driscoll, you could say Bishop took two pawns.”  Why do you think the tweeter said that?

JD: Jakes quickly neutralized their objective questions with a bit of reverse psychology. MacDonald and Driscoll, who came to ER2 thinking the issue was doctrine, were very quickly routed by the Bishop, and before long they were talking about unity. It is always tempting to abandon our pursuit of doctrinal purity for church unity.

RB: On your Face Book page, you said, “Jakes’ chair was certainly no hot seat for he is an expert in vagueness and unfortunately they were charmed by his charisma.” Explain what you mean.

JD: He has capitalized on his cult of personality. His speaking skills, social diplomacy, and celebrity status can be overwhelming. He is a master at saying a lot without saying a lot. He is also a very likable fellow and the 30,000 Texans who make up his congregation are proof that theological ambiguity can fill a church building. I have been to conventions where he was the main speaker and have seen multitudes swoon over him. Driscoll and MacDonald were easy pickings.

RB: What would you say to folks who may be confused about ER2 and the discussion with Jakes?

JD: It may come as a surprise but men like T. D. Jakes are not epistemologically self-conscious. By that I mean that they spend so much time on motivating speech and platitudes that they’ve given very little time or thought to expound why they believe what they believe. They have reduced their doctrinal expressions to harmless sound-bytes intended to offend the least amount of people possible, and this is why he could neither call himself a Trinitarian nor fully renounce Oneness.

RB: Jordan, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. This has been very helpful.

JD: You’re very welcome.

RB: I plan on posting a brief piece on the Trinity tomorrow.

Here’s the piece on the Trinity.

43 Responses so far.

  1. Tom Chantry says:

    Thanks for doing this, Richard; very helpful.

  2. Jim Butler says:

    Thank you Dr. Barcellos and Jordan. I appreciate your willingness to address this issue.

    Jim Butler

  3. Cliff Boswell says:

    I appreciate the discussion. I know nothing About Jakes and know very little about Onessism or modalism. I totally agree with the orthodox view of the trinity. But I would like to understand why a misunderstanding of the trinity necessarily damns one to hell. Is it not possible that a person could believe that Jesus was fully God and man a n d trust the gospel while being in error about the exact nature of the trinity? The trinity is something that has caused theologians to scratch their heads for centuries. It is a mystery that no man can fully comprehend. Not disagreeing that this teaching is heretical, just would like help in understanding why it absolutely is.

    • Jordan Dayoub says:

      Cliff,

      Oneness groups believe that Jesus is the Father. This view informs much of their faith and practice. They believe that Trinitarians are tri-theists and believe in three gods. They also insist on “Jesus name” baptism only because of this perspective, meaning if you’ve been baptized in the Trintarian formula you are not saved. They effectively hold to a works based salvation and patently reject salvation by grace alone. Athanasius and other early church fathers understood rightly that one’s view of the godhead informed almost every other area of belief and this is why they codified the doctrine of the Trinity in their creeds.

      • Cliff Boswell says:

        That is helpful. Thanks.

        • AK says:

          What do you do with the book of Acts where the Apostles all baptized in Jesus name? In Acts 19 they re-baptized those who were baptized by John the Baptist in Jesus name.
          Please show me where anyone in the entire New Testament was baptized other than Johns baptism (rebaptized) or the Apsotles way. (Jesus name)

          • Jordan Dayoub says:

            If you notice when reading Acts, there is no occasion where one person says to another, “I baptize you in Jesus’ name.” Every time Acts mentions a baptism in Jesus’ name, the phrase characterizes the baptism, it does not record what the baptizer said. It means the baptism was in Jesus’ name, under the authority that Jesus gave them. It was the way they distinguished what sort of baptism they were doing. They were not performing a Jewish baptism for a convert to Judaism, nor were they performing John’s baptism for repentance, they were doing the baptism that Jesus commanded. Jesus’ commandment for doing baptisms is in Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The “Didache” which is the earliest record of church practice after the death of the apostles, further substantiates the Trinitarian formula for baptism among early Christians.

          • Jim Butler says:

            You should read John Gill’s commentary for a good refutation of the “rebaptized” hypothesis.

            Jim

          • AK says:

            As I read Matthew 28:19 I see that he was giving this commandment to the Apostles. That same commandment was also recorded in Mark 16: 15-18, no mention of father, son and holy ghost. That same commandment was again recorded by Dr Luke in Luke 24:46-49. Luke records in 24:45 That Jesus opened thier understanding. Vs 47 And that repentance and remission of sins shoulld be preached in his name amoung all nations beginning at Jerusalem.
            Acts 1 those believers are in Jerusalem. Peter preaches Jesus. When asked what should we do in vs 37, vs 38 He tellsthem to be baptized in Jesus name
            Acts 10:44-48 He commands them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.
            Acts 19:5 When they heard this they WERE baptized in the NAME of the Lord Jesus( no hypothesis here)
            Acts 8:16 :only they WERE baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus
            Romans 6:3-4
            Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?4) Therefore we are buried with him (not them)by baptism into death…
            The apostles did fulfill the commandment given by Jesus, they baptized in the saving name of Jesus Acts 4:12
            Why would someone be so opposed to the name of Jesus Christ in baptism who is a christian(Christ like)?

          • AK says:

            You will have to forgive me, I didn’t relaize that this was a local church website. I thought this was an open forum of ministry.

          • Richard Barcellos says:

            AK, it’s fine for you to post here. If I think anyone gets out of hand, I will either kindly warn or promptly delete.

          • Jordan Dayoub says:

            AK,

            In response to your post below. Luke 24 and Mark 16 are similiar to Matthew 28:19 in that they also iterate the great commission. Compare all three verses and you’ll see only Matthew gives a formulaic instruction for baptism. Luke isn’t even talking about baptism and Mark’s passage doesn’t address formula either. To insist that those verses more accurately inform our practice on baptism is a logical fallacy. If we change or interpret Christ’s words to fit our doctrines instead of the other way around, we do so at our own peril. If you are truly interested in knowing more about the Trinity I suggest reading ‘God in Three Persons, by E. Calvin Beisner or ‘The Forgotten Trinity’ by James R. White. Here’s a link to a helpful debate on the subject: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzQdUxAK58A

          • AK says:

            If I believed in a trinitarian formualla of baptism…I would dismiss Mark’s recording of the Great Commission too. To assume that you understand better than the desciples, to whom Jesus was talking, is to have a personal intpretation and is fallacy unto it self. Peter didn’t mis-speak when he preached Jesus name baptism (Acts 2 & 10), Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdon of heaven and the authority to preach that message on the birthday of the church. (Matthew 16:19)
            Furthermore;Jesus prayed for all of those that would believe on him through the words of the desciples/apostles John 17:17-20. They all preached Jesus name baptism on and after the day of Pentecost. So either the apostles missed it or we have.
            Furthermore; Paul warned that there would be some that would preach another gospel than what they “the church at Galatia “(Gal 1: 6-10)had recieved. He declared that even if an angel preached something different “let him be accursed.”
            Gal 1:11-12
            He recieved his revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul preached Baptism in Jesus Name Acts 19.
            We are buried(baptized) with him,Jesus(not them)Romans 6:3-4
            Respectfully submitted.

  4. Rob Cosby says:

    Thank you very much. this was very insightful and helpful.

  5. Mike Weaks says:

    @Cliff, I’m not thinking Jordan was addressing if one could be a Christian and oneness too, but that Jakes got a pass on modalizm and Word of Faith prosperity during an ecumenical love fest from Macdonald who should know better…

  6. Steve Marquedant says:

    Very well done. Thank you!

  7. [...] RB: On your Face Book page, you said, “Jakes’ chair was certainly no hot seat for he is an exper… [...]

  8. [...] statements at the Elephant Room. Below is one question and answer to whet your appetite.ER2 Q&A with a former Oneness pastorRB: Did you hear (or read) the discussion on the doctrine of the Trinity between T. D. Jakes, Mark [...]

  9. Robert Cardona says:

    Thank you both for this interview, I pray it serves as a catalyst to inform the universal church of the heretical teaching propagated by oneness Pentecostals. Jordan I thoroughly enjoyed the distinction you made between the two sects of oneness theology. Which would be the UPC the more militant strand of oneness theology, and the seeker-sensitive strand. I believe this is precisely the reason Jakes tried to separate himself from the militant strand, and communicated the ecumenical side which says, “hey we are all meaning the same thing but we might explain it differently.” It was as if he distanced himself from the extremist and positioned himself comfortably in the ” oneness get a long gang”, which he believes to be the lesser of two evils. In fact, Driscoll and MacDonald by not pressing him, invariably agreed with him. As a friend of my mine pointed out; this is the logical conclusion of those who see no relevance in the historic confessions and creeds of the church. I pray that this anti-doctrinal, anti-creedal, and anti-confessional undercurrent in mainline evangelism, which has caused a anti-theological tsunami, to embrace the truths that are found in the word of God. Let the church triumphant declare with the Apostle Paul, “…I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” Phil 1:16.

  10. Richard Barcellos says:

    Thanks, Robert. FYI, Robert is a former Oneness Pentecostal.

  11. Seth Stark says:

    This was great! Thank you for doing this interview and posting it. I hope it helps others besides Driscoll and McDonald who bought into Jakes’ line of “unity over doctrine”. I’ll be sharing this with as many folks as I can!

  12. Kipp Soncek says:

    Very helpful, Dr. B. Jordan’s answers were certainly insightful, particularly regarding how Jakes manipulated the issue away from being the issue. I just read a brief survey of Jakes’ books over at IX Marks, and one of the things the survey revealed was the fact that many of his books are best described as psychology books, not theological treatises. Seeing this put into practice and the simplicity with which he manipulated the two interviewers into not drilling deep on the real issue makes him that more dangerous to the souls of those he’s leading.

  13. Thanks Jordan and Pastor B for taking the time to do this.

  14. Maribel Dayoub says:

    I am overwhelmed with God’s love for us. He has rescued us and it is an unexplainable feeling. There is so much that can be said, reading this brings me to tears. Thank you

  15. C. Bennett says:

    Perhaps others are aware of how this doctrine has seeped into the “messianic” movement, especially in Israel. There are many ‘Messianic Jews’ who refer to themselves as “Biblical Christians” or sometimes converts to “historic Christianity” or biblical Christianity. The meaning is that the Nicene creed is a human/church imposition and is extra-biblical dogma. They refer to Jesus (Yeshua) as the Messiah and savior and use many other terms but in the end Jesus is not divine.

  16. [...] *Well, T. D. Jakes is now a Trinitarian. It’s all over. Not the heretic we’re looking for. Move along. Or maybe not? [...]

  17. [...] ER2 Q&A with a former Oneness pastor : [...]

  18. Douglas Johnson says:

    “Driscoll and MacDonald let him expound on his own views and experiences and I know it was in a spirit of love.” What kind of “spirit?” Love for who? Love of what? What kind of love? Of truth? Of prestige? Of integrity? Of self? Of Jakes? Of themselves? Of us here in New Zealand from working class families? Of the poor person in the pew so to speak who doesn’t understand all the theological bantering and terminology? I for one aren’t educated enough as I left school when I was 14 to understand all the gobble-de-gook going down there. The Elephant Room has muddied the waters for me even more. I still believe T. D. Jakes is a modalistic, heretical, Scripture twisting, prosperity false teacher and Driscoll and and MacDonald only made it easier for Jakes to get away with it. Scary. Now many Reformed folks thinks Jakes is hokey dorey. The amount of professing reformed so called Christians I can trust to proclaim the truth is getting less by the day. God help us. Tickling ears is going on right left centre up down, around and around…I wish I was dead and gone from this life, from this realm into the next, I really do.

    • Thanks Douglas. That was just what I was feeling. Coming out of the WoF movement, I’m very disappointed at many who are just giving this a “whatever, no big deal” response.

  19. Bob Gonzales says:

    Rich and Jordan,

    Thanks for posting this interchange. I thought an issue as critical and complex as Jakes’ position on the Trinity deserved much more careful scrutiny than it was given on the EP2. And I don’t think Driscoll or MacDonald should have allowed him to get away with employing the phrase “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim 3:16) as a legitimate synonym or substitute for “person” since it’s referring not to something ontological but to something economical vis-a-vis the second person (not manifestation) of the trinity.

    I’m also disappointed that Jakes wasn’t questioned on his position on the health-wealth-prosperity gospel.

    I look forward to your article on the Trinity, Rich.

  20. [...] Recommended CHURCH GROWTH Article FROM http://grbcav.org/2012/01/er2-qa-with-a-former-oneness-pastor/h168(); #family movie -THE LAMP- one family's loss shows them how to turn to Faith instead of magic [...]

    • Aysu says:

      God is three persons but one in essecne. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the three persons. Now they all have the same nature. Each person in the Trinity have the same attributes as the other. Saying the Father is eternal, is saying the Son and the Holy Spirit are eternal too.Now each person has its different roles in redemptive history. God the Father planned redemption, God the Son came down and accomplished the work of redemption, and God the Holy Spirit applies the work of redemption to us. They all have different roles but they are the same in their essecne, their attributes.

  21. [...] here are a couple resources to help you understand what actually happened. Richard Barcellos has provided an interview with a former Oneness Pentecostal preacher concerning the fiasco, and James White devoted a 2 hour [...]

  22. [...] to pause at this point to observe that not all Onenness Pentecostals are created equal. An interview with a former Onenness pastor (now turned evangelical) draws a distinction between the hardcore and [...]

  23. [...] to pause at this point to observe that not all Onenness Pentecostals are created equal. An interview with a former Onenness pastor (now turned evangelical) draws a distinction between the hardcore [...]

  24. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Thanks Pastor Barcellos and Pastor Jordan for this exceptionally illuminating interview.

  25. [...] to pause at this point to observe that not all Onenness Pentecostals are created equal. An interview with a former Onenness pastor (now turned evangelical) draws a distinction between the hardcore and [...]

  26. [...] Elephant Room 2: An Evaluation on the T.D. Jakes Interview (Former Oneness Pastor) Relating to Those We Think are Outside Orthodoxy (Ed Stetzer) Seven Thoughts on the Elephant Room and T.D. Jakes (Kevin DeYoung) Elephant Room Debrief (James MacDonald and Company) Post-Elephant Room Debrief and Interview 2 (MacDonald and Company) [...]

  27. LexCro says:

    Rev. Dayoub says that Jakes has “capitalized on his cult of personality.” It’s funny to me that Mark Driscoll gets away with all kinds of egregious and unbiblical nonsense because of his cult of personality, ministerial influence, and celebrity. Yet many don’t have the integrity to call him out and demand that he step down (or at least take a VERY long, silent hiatus). The Scriptures take orthopraxic heresy every bit as seriously as they do orthodoxic heresy. Too bad evangelicals don’t. Jesus and the apostles had one word for this severe lack of consistency: HYPOCRISY.

  28. [...] interviewed former Oneness pastor Jordan Dayoub regarding Jakes’ comments. I think he offers a valuable “inside” perspective: “Here’s the problem. Driscoll and MacDonald let him expound on his own views and [...]

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