Should T. D. Jakes Have been Invited to Oakwood’s Evangelism Council?

The thought of inviting T. D. Jakes to Oakwood University’s Evangelism Council caused an uproar in the black Adventist community. Jakes, who is not an Adventist, and who once spoke out against the Sabbath, was considered not worthy of such an invitation. The question that arose in the minds of many was: why would Oakwood consider inviting Jakes in the first place? The answer is that most who assume that they know the answer don’t really have a clue. They have arrived at the conclusion that it must be a falling away or so-called “Jesuit influence” that led Oakwood (or those who are responsible for the council, to be precise) to make such a decision. I’m sure after this article I will be placed in their ranks.

Inviting Jakes to such a venue gives him an opportunity to present his method of evangelism, not necessarily his theology. To some degree his theology does impact his method of evangelism, but to say that it is to the extent where it would cause a major shift in Adventist thinking, is absurd at best. Jakes’ doctrinal differences does not suggest that he is not a Christian. It just simply means that he doesn’t hold the same views as the Adventist Church. His stance as a Christian should be evaluated by God.

The real issue, I think, is whether or not a non-Adventist should be given the privilege to address Adventists. My experience has shown me that unless it is a government official, many would find it unnecessary for anyone of another denomination to address Adventists. There exists a great fear that we as a people would be polluted by hearing such an individual. To some extent I respectfully disagree.

It is true that there is a need to worry about what is presented to the masses. Leaders are responsible for the content that proceed from the pulpits. The difference in this situation is that Jakes was invited to speak to a group of pastors concerning methods of evangelism, or perhaps what should be preached. Now if these pastors are not able to assess the message and make a decision concerning whether it is beneficial, then I think it is important for the leadership of the church to tell its’ pastors that they should not read any theological books written by non-Adventists.

What this incident shows is that Adventists love to speak but won’t listen. Is this evangelistically profitable? Certainly not. Of course, apologetics would not agree with my take on this issue because their main task is finding proof for what the church teaches, not necessarily assessing their soundness (there is a difference).

Should we listen? It depends. Are we interested in having dialogue with others and sharing our beliefs? Or do we want to get up and speak and hope that they will listen to what we have to say without responding critically? If it’s the latter then we shouldn’t listen, but the former asks for something much more. You see, in dialogue we are challenged to reassess not necessarily our beliefs but the manner in which we present them. It may reveal weaknesses in our explanations or in those explaining.

What should we do? Give Jakes, and others who differ from us, the opportunity to speak, not in our Sabbath morning worship services, but in forums like Evangelism Council. Maybe if we take the time to listen to others we will hear what we sound like and then make corrections if necessary. The more one listen to one’s self, the harder it is to get a complete picture of what is really heard.

Perhaps if we have allowed Jakes to speak then maybe he would have allowed one of us to speak at one of his events. We have no idea what kind of impact that this would have had. Imagine the Christian world’s reaction to news of Jakes, the one who attacked the Sabbath doctrine, being invited to speak with those who upheld that doctrine. Sounds too political? Perhaps, but I do hope that it has generated critical thinking.

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14 comments on “Should T. D. Jakes Have been Invited to Oakwood’s Evangelism Council?

  1. Critical thinking indeed… I’ve accepted your perspective and find them to be valid ones that has caused me to reevaluate my thinking where this topic is concerned, not because I’m weak in my thinking, but because you presented a well thought out response to the “uproar” and when evaluated closer with the spiritual scope it’s clear that there is a level of double standard present here. We should not spend so much time defending the Sabbath as we should spreading the love of Christ. That is more important than the law of the Sabbath. Where lays the justice and mercy among us to our fellow erring man? Your view of the setting in which he would present (Evangelism Council), does change my perspective of why he should have been allowed to speak, and your piece surrounding the books by non-Adventist authors is true and poignant. If we have strong faith in what is presented in the Word of the LORD and hold to them as Bible truths reavealed to us as the will of the LORD for all humanity then we should be able to share those Bible truths with others without feeling the need to defend our LORD while offending His child. Hope springs eternal and if it His will that there comes a place in time when this is revisted, then I pray that Jakes is Christian enough to forgive defensive Christians and accept the offer.
    Blessings my Brother good to hear you again.
    Excellent article!

    • Hey Denise,

      Thanks for stopping by! It has been awhile and it is good to be writing something that I hope will add to discussions taking place in our denomination and the larger Christian world. So very glad that it has caused reflection!

  2. As a Christian (not an Adventist), I understand from Jesus Christ that days of the week mean nothing to Him. On the Sabbath, He healed and continued His ministry on that day as He did on every other day. It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ…His death, burial, and resurrection, that is important, not a day of the week. The Jews in Jesus’ day got all caught up in “dayism”,too and missed the whole point of who Jesus was. As for Mr. Jakes, I do not know what his religion is.
    If his focus is on matters other than the Gospel, than I would not want to hear him speak. I’m a member of the church of Christ. Connie
    http://7thandvine.wordpress.com/

    • Greetings Connie,

      Thanks for visiting the blog! Feel free anytime to voice your perspective concerning what is written even if you’re not Adventist, I welcome all and can learn from all. Concerning the Sabbath, there are many things to say about it. I hope to one day have much more dialogue with the Christian world concerning it.

      By the way, great website you have there, I have decided to follow it. Once more, thanks for stopping by and come again!

    • We cannot separate Christ’s Gospel from the man himself. It’s impossible they are the same. To often its thought that the focus of Seventh-Day Adventist is on the Sabbath and not Christ. It’s impossible to separate Jesus from who he was and what he’s asked of us.

      Jesus said If you love me keep my commandments.
      Question: If we love him will we Keep his commandments?Yes and if we do so have we taken the focus off of him and on what he’s asked us? No.

  3. Hello Jerry, you’ve put together a nice and logical piece.

    However, I have misgivings about inviting anyone to present anything to your family, when you are fully aware of their stance about fundamental things that you hold sacred within your family.

    I’ll give you some examples of where I’m going with this:

    1. How do you say to someone who’s a notorious gang member to make a presentation to your family on how to run a successful business (even though his business appear is doing OK).

    2. Does it make sense to invite a medical doctor who is known to drink and smoke to give a presentation on healthful living?

    As you can see from example 2, some might argue that the message the doctor gives is more important than his lifestyle. But you can tell without blinking that his example (actions) gives a stronger voice than his speech.

    Draw the parallel yourself and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

  4. Hello Jerry,

    There’s so much to say on this topic… I want to respond to CoCo for you, I work in a Hospital and your example #2 is true about most doctors and nurses… I’ve never in my entire life seen a group of people drink and smoke so much but because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening but that doesn’t stop anyone from coming to this hospital and getting what they need!!! Not the doctors lifestyle but the doctors help! So the fundamental belief of Christanity based on a Saturday or is it CHRIST???? I respect everyones take on Christanity both adventist and non-adventist but we MUST become a united front for non-believers these discussions belong behind closed doors!!!! Not in front of a dying world to have them to believe we are as divide as non-believers…

    • Hello,

      Nice response, but, still doesn’t cut it.

      You would notice I never mentioned Saturday or Sunday in my original response. I only used those two analogies to provide clarity on the issue at hand.

      Doctors and Nurses can drink and smoke behind closed doors. I won’t dispute that. But notice my line of reasoning: if they engage in such behaviours openly, what credibility do they have afterwards to talk to others about refraining from a similar practice?

      If a pastor teaches you not to steal and yet sleeps with someone else’s wife, isn’t that hypocrisy? So my point is, if there is a known behaviour that someone defends as right, especially when it’s against ‘God’s Law’, I don’t think it’s wrong for some members of your family to advise your parents to protect the weak ones from such person.

      • If they did such things, especially to exces, we would question if they were ok especially given what they know about the harm it could do.

        The work of a non-converted doctor is not exactly same as that of Minister.

  5. Hi Jerry,

    As Christians we should respect how the next persons see things and not attempt to present their perspective incorrectly on behalf of them. It’s not fair and if your intent is to understand why it is far better to ask questions so that we understand. It is polite to do and Christ like.

    Your article is very suggestive and being a Seventh Day Adventist I can tell you that you’re in left field or at the least you missed the point. You do stir up a lot of controversy on a topic that’s really not controversial and I hope this isn’t taken as disrespectful or harsh.

    • Hey Nathan,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog and leaving your point of view. It is both respected and appreciated. Here is my response:

      1. When you say “left field” are you saying liberal?

      2. Since you equaled “left field” with “missed the point,” it suggest that you mean that I’m completely unaware of the reasoning behind the decision not to have the speaker come.
      -Brief note: Oakwood University’s Evangelism Council always feature preachers and theologians from other denominations. In fact, Oakwood University had Michael Eric Dyson, a professor who is well known for his use of vulgarity, address the students during chapel (that is not to say that he used vulgarity during the chapel service). It did come out in a small question and answer period in another room later that day.

      3. If you are familiar with Oakwood University’s environment (as I am), you would know that any even like this would be the talk of the student body. The student body is never hindered from expressing its point of view as long as it is done in a respectful manner.

  6. I read your article and you present an interesting perspective. Neverthless I do not agree with your reasoning. Why should we learn methods of evangelism from a person who does not share our faith, vision and mission. As you put it, TD Jakes’ gospel influenses his method – then why do we need his methods. What is so wrong with our methods that we now need to learn from those who disagree with what we believe. If we need his method, then we may as well need his gospel. I am sure thats what you prefer seeing happening. About using books from other scholars who are not Adventists I can tell that I have come accross SDA Pastors who preach polluted messages on our pulpits and one can easily trace it to what they learn at college. In my part of the world, we are a bit suspicious of our Pastors because their message is usually tainted with Babylonian theology. That point i am sorry does not hold water to me. I cant buy it.

  7. I think we lost an opportunity. T.D. Jakes did speak out against Sabbath keeping, if we had the hope that he would one day accept the Sabbath truth, then that is probably out of the window. Maybe one of the other sabbatarian groups will have the opportunity. I took the time to google T.D. Jakes and Oakwood University together. I had to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find this page which gave a different view of the invitation that was extended to T.D. Jakes. I believe that we as Adventist are insecure to the point that if we hear alternative views then we are in danger of the judgement. If we have ‘the truth,’ then what are we afraid of. This whole situation in my opinion was handled in a manner not becoming of Christ. Every year, a non-adventist is invited to evangelism council. This is the first time that I have seen this type of uproar. By the way, Oakwood College did not invite T.D. Jakes, it was Evangelism Council that extended the invitation. He was not going to preach, he was only conducting a workshop.

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