Introduction by Eric Kidwell
A few months ago, Christian Life blessed our interns by sending them and I to go to Elephant Room 2, a conference about discussing in the open the biggest issues that face our churches today. I asked each of them to write down their thoughts afterwards to further reinforce what they learned there for themselves and share with the rest of the world the best insights they received from the conference.
Chris Jameson’s Reaction
Recently I attended the elephant room round 2 in Chicago. It was a fantastic experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity to go and learn more from some of the greatest preachers of our time.
Honestly, I was so excited to go simply because I wanted to see my favorite pastor lay waste to the other pastors in a theological debate. I wanted to see false doctrine fail and see those who supported it be humiliated. I am now ashamed for that. What I witnessed was awesome men of God come together to help one another, and the rest of us lost sheep, learn more about how God tells us to handle tough situations.
I was particularly stoked to see the debate between Mark Driscoll and T.D. Jakes on the “majors” of Christian doctrine. I wanted to see Jakes get trounced by Driscoll and ripped to shreds because I thought that he believed differently than I did. What I saw and heard from Jakes though, was deep, enlightening, and quite eloquent. In fact, I would say that I learned more from Jakes in the elephant room, than anyone single other person. The next after him was Wayne Cordeiro. I had never heard of him before, and thusly thought that he must know nothing. Again, I was wrong… I learned so much from him that helped me with my life currently, and am so glad he was there. The biggest thing I learned from this is to not count out people based upon what someone says they believe, and to check them out for myself, as well as giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Jesse Naive’s Reaction
Steven Furtick – “Raising your hand doesn’t save you, faith does.”
In church one Sunday your pastor may have told everybody to repeat the prayer that gets you “saved.” Then next they may have said, “If that was your first time receiving Christ raise your hand.” Those people with raised hands actually think they are “saved” from saying that prayer and raising a hand. When you say this prayer does that mean you can go back to living a normal life like everyone else? Does this mean you can do anything you want, commit as many sins as you want, and because of that prayer you are saved from hell? What really gets you saved is FAITH and God‘s GRACE.
Here are some bible verses about faith and grace:
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Matthew 9:2 Some men brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please God. I doubt God would let some one enter heaven if He isn’t even a little bit pleased with the person. This may be a disturbing verse to many, but it shows just how important it is to have faith in God.
Luke 7:50 Your faith has saved you; go in peace. He is talking to the sinful woman who anointed Him when she washes His feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, and pours her rare perfume on His feet. In verse 47 Jesus said her many sins have been forgiven. Jesus thought highly of this woman even though she was guilty of many sins and Simon was disgusted with her. I bet this girl didn’t say a prayer or raise a hand in church and think she was safe from hell. This girl was truly saved because she showed Jesus she has faith in Him and Jesus showed her His grace.
Brett Trefren’s Reaction
Now the Elephant Room 2 was very controversial on so many levels before the actually event. Everyone from bloggers in there mother basement to famous pastors in the evangelical main stream where putting it down including me. Apperentally the pastors in the Elephant Room did not get the same memo that all other evangelicals received, because there was nothing but love and peace going on there. Love should be the focus of all Christians. Let me show you 3 things that I have learned and comfirmed threw the elephant room.
though that is how a lot of Christians treat God. They say they know him but they really have no ideal who he is because doctrine does not play an important part in his life. They end up praising a God that really reflect who they are and not who the Bible says he is. What I am not saying is that is that everyone is going to have the same doctrine. If we did there would be no Elephant Room. What I am also not saying is that all doctrine is ok to have. I love how Mark Driscoll put it. There are state and country borders. State are things such as Calvinism vs. Armineism or perseverance of the saints vs. you can lose your salvation. It is perfectly fine to have differences there. Country borders are things such as homosexuality or everyone will go to Heaven. It is not fine to have difference there. That is when you are considered a heretic.
Loving people is even more important then loving doctrine. Mark Driscoll commented during the future of denomination conversation, “Where not trying to be Calvinist where trying to Evangelist.” The Elephant Room 2 showed how much they cared about people by intiviting T.D. Jakes. If you don’t know much about Jakes he was thought in the evangelical world to be a modeless. A modeless is someone who thinks that God is 1, but functional in different modes in different periods through out history. They believe God only has one ego. Now the Bible says is that there is 1 God, but this 1 God has 3 different persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is an essential to Christianity according to the Bible. During the convertion “Ticket to Ride” T.D. Jakes came out again and told he was not a modeless. They may be many other things wrong with him such as word faith, and the prosperity Gospel he has been know to preach, but the Elephant Room gave him the opportunity to public admit he was no longer a modeless. You may ask how is this loving people. T.D. Jakes is not liked by many different people. Inviting T.D. Jakes would ultimately lead to a loss in money, because many people did not want to come to an event with T.D. Jakes in it. James McDonald and the Elephant Room 2 looked pasted that and seen that it was more important to give a brother an opportunity to come clean on who he really is. They showed that loving people is essential.
What would make sense at this point in the post is to talk about how I learned to love God in a deeper way. “Love God” would make for a cleaner point on this blog, but I confirmed something much deeper then that at the Elephant Room 2. That would be not to “Love God”, but “Gods Love”. Read what James McDonald said, “When you come to the place when you don’t know what I am talking about, that is when you figure it out. Then your heart breaks.” The more and more I study the Bible less and less I feel like I know. The more and more I try to love people, less and less I feel like they love me. Now when it comes to God when I love him, he does not love me any more. That may sound like a bad thing, but when I sin I know he does not love me any less. There is the heart of it all, because I know no matter how hard I try, or how hard I fail my relationship with God all hinges on what Jesus did for me 2000 years ago on the cross. In the speed round all the pastors where asked what facet of the Gospel do you most adorn, James McDonald talked about imputed righteousness. In layman terms that is that you gave Jesus all your sin, and he gave you all of his righteousness. No matter what I do God will still love me! When I think about that it makes me want to search the scripture to get better doctrine and makes me want to love people. Now that I know I am free I want to serve God instead of having to serve God.
The Elephant Room 2 was a very humbling experience. I learned so much more then from the Elephant Room then I have time or could explain such as how segerated churches are or the urgency of a Pastor. As I was walking out of the building of the Elephant Room 2 I seen 2 guys. They seemed pretty mad at each other. As I got closer I seen that they where arguing over theology. It hit me that they really missed the point. See it’s a good thing to sit down and talk about your theology together and you can even disagree with, but instead of building barriers between each other you need to build bridges. You need to figure out how you and the person that is theologically can make a difference instead of making a point. It all comes down to love. In 1st Cor 13:13 it says “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Once we die faith will no longer be needed because we will see God. Hope will no longer be needed because we will be with God. But love will never fade away. God will always love us. The whole point of the Elephant Room 2 was love. As Jakes put it “Our books will not be on sale in Heaven.” 150 years from the only thing that will matter is love, so lets practice it while we our on earth.