A review of T.D. Jakes’ Code Orange Revival sermon

This article is a review of T.D. Jakes’ Code Orange Revival sermon, preached on 20 January 2012 at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

T.D. Jakes is the leader of The Potter’s House, a 30,000 member congregation located in southern Dallas, Texas. I had never heard a T.D. Jakes sermon before, though I knew of his reputation. I was curious to see – if only via an Internet video stream – the man that Elevation Church reminded us was named ‘America’s Best Preacher’ by Time Magazine. Would I be able to uncover the secret of his mystique? And would he preach the Biblical Gospel?

After 40 minutes or so of emotionally intense praise and worship, Steven Furtick, founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church, introduces Jakes to the manifestly ecstatic, cheering crowd. Furtick promises that God is about to speak to us, that our lives will never be the same:

God’s gonna honour your faith. He’s going to shake you, and He’s gonna remake you. And He’s gonna do things in your life that will blow your mind. And we’re believing that for you tonight.

We’re in revival. If you’re joining us from all over the world, you need to know that this is night 10 of Code Orange Revival. We’re coming to you live from Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, reaching over a 100 countries all over the world. And God has made an appointment with you tonight. He’s about to speak something to you. Your life will never be the same. In His presence is fullness of joy.

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Why SOPA and PIPA are bad news in the battle for sound doctrine

You may have noticed Wikipedia’s unprecedented blackout today, in opposition to SOPA and PIPA. WordPress.com and other sites have also joined in the protest.

Screenshot of Wikipedia blackout

SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill before the United States House of Representatives; PIPA (the Protect IP Act, where ‘IP’ stands for ‘Intellectual Property’) is its counterpart in the United States Senate. The forces behind these bills are lobbying for draconian rules that will, among other things:

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Code Orange Revival: To focus on Jesus, we cut the only sermon that pointed people to Him

If you’ve been following Fighting for the Faith’s coverage of Steven Furtick’s Code Orange Revival, you’ll know that, thus far, the so-called ‘preaching’ has been an irredeemably dire exhibition of narcigetical scripture twisting. With just one exception: Matt Chandler bravely preached a decent sermon that actually pointed people away from themselves and towards Jesus Christ, the only One who shed His blood that people might be saved.

Matt Chandler’s reward for being faithful to His Lord and Master by proclaiming Law and Gospel was to have his sermon pulled from the rebroadcast of that evening’s Code Orange Revival event. Speculation abounded as to the reason for this, but Geoff Schultz – Motion Graphic Designer at Furtick’s Elevation Church – has posted on Facebook what sounds very much like an official line. Schultz writes:

The team decided to focus the rebroadcast on Jesus, so we reformatted the content a bit – We are trying to stay in the flow of what the Spirit is leading us to do.

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How to hear the voice of God

We all want to hear from God. Now you can share the secret closely guarded by our forebears in the faith. This simple yet ancient formula will enable you to experience the voice of God speaking directly into your life:

  1. Get hold of a reliable translation of the Bible, such as the NKJV or the ESV. (Sorry, no, The Message doesn’t work for this spiritual discipline.)
  2. Open it.
  3. Read.

What’s Wrong with Wright: Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul

Bishop N.T. Wright (a.k.a. Tom Wright) has undertaken sterling and valuable work in defence of the historicity of the New Testament and the resurrection of Christ. Unfortunately, he is also a leading proponent of the New Perspectives on Paul.

Those, like Wright, who advocate the New Perspectives, posit that the Reformers were wrong in seeing first century Judaism as a religion of legalistic works-righteousness. As Dr. Cornelis P. Venema (President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, where he is also Professor of Doctrinal Studies) writes in his very helpful little book addresing the the New Perspectives, Getting the Gospel Right:

The problem with the Judaizers’ appeal to the ‘works of the law’ was not its legalism, Wright insists, but its perverted nationalism. (p. 37, original emphasis)

Venema continues in his description of Wright’s views:

One of the unfortunate features of the Reformation and of much evangelical thinking, according to Wright, is that they reduce the gospel to ‘a message about “how one gets saved”, in an individual and ahistorical sense’.

In this way of thinking, the focus of attention, so far as the gospel is concerned, is upon ‘something that in older theology would be called an ordo salutis, an order of salvation’. Because of its inappropriate focus upon the salvation of individual sinners, the older Reformation tradition was bound to exaggerate the importance of the doctrine of justification.

Whereas the Reformation perspective understands the gospel in terms of the salvation of individual sinners, Wright maintains that Paul’s gospel has a different focus. According to Wright, the basic message of Paul’s gospel focuses upon the lordship of Jesus Christ.

(pp. 39–40, bold emphasis mine)

So, according to Venema, Wright thinks that the Reformers inappropriately focused on the salvation of individual sinners and exaggerated the importance of the doctrine of justification (how we obtain a right standing before God).

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Some preliminary musings on sanctification

In this post: Introduction; What is sanctification? The essential difference between justification and sanctification; The relation of justification to sanctification; Whose work is sanctification?; Through what means does God work sanctification in us?; Parting thoughts

In response to my post of Dr. Rosenbladt’s refreshing presentation, The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church, both Charisse and Jason weighed-in on the topic of sanctification. I greatly appreciate thoughtful comments like theirs, and I read them all with care and interest. I respond here with some initial thoughts.

I have been observing some of the wider debate on sanctification that has recently been occurring.

I say ‘debate’, but some of what I have been seeing has been, regrettably, outright and uncharitable hostility towards those of us who would argue that sanctification is God’s work in the life of the believer, rooted in the Gospel, and causing us to produce fruit. Careless (and certainly, as far as I can see, unwarranted) accusations of antinomianism have been thrown around by some, though there have been many other, more honourable, voices also engaged in the discussion. I wish all were as measured in their comments as are Jason and Charisse.

I have been forcing myself to read some blog posts that I find intensely frustrating, as I want to be sure that I am properly grasping the nuances of the opposition’s position and understand their arguments. I am inclined to suspect that much of the heat is the result of various misunderstandings of what other people are actually intending to say, and perhaps a fair degree of people talking past each other by using identical terminology to mean different things. Which is not to say that there are not also important differences of substance at play here – there most certainly are.

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The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

My friend Jason Coyle reminded me in a recent comment of what he called ‘Dr. Rod Rosenbladt’s…brilliant address, “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church”’.

In this superb talk, Dr. Rosenbladt explains why so many people end up leaving our churches not just disillusioned, but angry. He goes on to present the undiluted Gospel as the antidote.

You can listen to (or watch) this address for free on Dr. Rosenbladt’s New Reformation Press website:

Why do so many Christians love C.S. Lewis?

C. Michael Patton of Credo House Ministries makes a thought-provoking case for why so many Christians appreciate C.S. Lewis – despite his decidedly questionable theology – but nevertheless castigate Rob Bell for superficially similar failings.

Patton makes a good argument: that Lewis set out to defend orthodoxy and the person and work of Jesus Christ, whereas Bell seems to delight in challenging them. And, no doubt, this provides a substantive part of the answer to Patton’s question. Much of what Lewis writes is helpful, and the broad appeal of his apologetic work undeniable. But I am not sure that Patton has quite explained the entirety of Lewis’ attraction.

Now, I am far from an expert on Lewis. I read the Narnia series as a child, along with The Screwtape Letters, and then some of his other works in my early twenties. Much more recently, I read and enjoyed his fictional Cosmic Trilogy. I very much appreciated Lewis’ essay, On the Reading of Old Books, which he wrote as the introduction to a translation of Athanasius’ work On the Incarnation. Everyone should read that essay. Nevertheless, there is very much of Lewis’ work that I have (yet) to assimilate, though his general theological perspective is apparent in what I have read.

Lewis was certainly not orthodox in a great deal of his theology, as Patton observes. Even in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, for example, it is decidedly odd that Aslan pays a ransom to the Snow Queen. Lewis’ view of Scripture was rather lower than many of us would think proper. He believed in a form of purgatory. And he had inclusivist tendencies – the belief that a person could ‘belong to Christ without knowing it’ (Mere Christianity). Lewis’ views on evolution, though – particularly in later life – are perhaps not as straightforward as Patton seems to suggest.

Why, then, given his questionable-at-points doctrine, is Lewis as popular as he his among those who would – notionally, at least – subscribe to sounder doctrine?

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