There have already been a number of blog entries on the James Macdonald/Mark Driscoll interview with T.D. Jakes on his supposedly now orthodox views on the doctrine of the Trinity. You can read the transcript here. I’m just going to address once specific statement that he made:
Driscoll: We all would agree that in the nature of God there is mystery. But within that, for you, Bishop Jakes, the issue is one God manifesting Himself successively in three ways? Or one God existing eternally in three persons? What is your understanding now? Which one?
Jakes: I believe the latter one is where I stand today. One God – Three Persons. I am not crazy about the word persons though. You describe “manifestations” as modalist, but I describe it as Pauline. For God was manifest in the flesh. Paul is not a modalist, but he doesn’t think it’s robbery to say manifest in the flesh. Maybe it’s semantics, but Paul says this. Now, when we start talking about that sort of thing, I think it’s important to realize there are distinctives between the work of the Father and the work of the Son. I’m with you. I have been with you. There are many people within and outside denominations labeled Oneness that would be okay with this. We are taught in society that when we disagree with someone in a movement, we leave. But I still have associations with people in Onenness movements. We need to humble both sides and say, “We are trying to describe a God we love.” Why should I fall out and hate and throw names at you when it’s through a glass darkly? None of our books on the Godhead will be on sale in heaven.
Carl Trueman has expounded the core issue with the entire interview’s lack of pressing Jakes for the “hard questions”. For example, one question I think should have been asked is:
Inquisitive Person: You said that in one sentence you believed in one God that reveals himself in three persons. You followed it up with your lack of easiness with the term, “persons” which was in the statement that you agreed to?
Now if you just left Jakes answer as is (Thanks Macdonald and Driscoll – Way to defend the truth!) you would leave thinking that person and “manifestations” were one the same. The thing with false teachers is that they will end making a logical error of some sort and here we see an example of a category mistake. Jakes is trying to apply Paul’s statement on describing the incaranation (specific to Christ taking on a human body) to how the Trinity is defined in Scripture, when Paul was only talking about the second person in the Trinity!
Let’s take a look at John 14:25-26:
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
The reference to “he” identifies the Holy Spirit as a unique person in the godhead and not as a manifestation of the Father. Let us as children of the living God never cease to content for the faith.