Thinking Out Loud

January 31, 2012

One Less Elephant in the Room

Just desserts in my opinion.

A certain discernment ministry dude who has a certain discernment radio ministry thing apparently paid his $99 registration fee to attend The Elephant Room at the mother ship in Rolling Meadows, IL only to arrive and find out his registration had been revoked.

He blogs the experience, but I really, really don’t want to include the link to this guy — first time I’ve ever done this — so I’m copying and pasting without it:

Today, I traveled to Rowling Meadows, Illinois to attend James MacDonald’s Elephant Room 2 conversations. Upon entering the event venue I was met by a security guard and Jim Rowan, an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel and was promptly told that my entrance to the Elephant Room had been revoked and that I had to immediately leave the premises or I would be arrested for trespassing.

This is truly ODD, because the Purpose Statement of the Elephant Room states:

The Elephant Room is more than an event. It is the outgrowth of an idea. The idea that the best way forward for the followers of Jesus lies not in crouching behind walls of disagreement but in conversation among all kinds of leaders about what the scriptures actually teach. We must insist on the biblical Gospel, right doctrine and practice but not isolate ourselves from relationship even with those who believe much differently.

So, I ask the very logical question how is threatening to arrest me if I didn’t leave the premises of the Elephant Room an example of NOT “crouching behind walls of disagreement”?

Seems to me that the Elephant in the Room is the fact that the ONLY voices that James MacDonald and company are willing to hear are those that agree with them.

…First of all let me say that I do not automatically endorse everything that James MacD. does.  I love the forthright style of ministry he projects on the radio and I’ve visited his church in two locations in northwest Chicago, but I’m equally convinced that back in his elementary school days, he was the schoolyard bully. Sorry. That’s just my opinion, and last I checked, I’m entitled to it. Maybe this little bit of conference theater is just what happens when two bull-headed personalities clash.

However, I’m going to side with Harvest Bible Chapel and The Elephant Room on this one.  The particular Discernment Dude in question is trouble with a capital T.  A ticking time bomb in an event like MacDonald’s one-day live broadcast conference.  A person whose spirit runs counter to the spirit of the event.

You may not agree with J. MacD. on countless issues, but the motivation for this event is simple enough that even a child can understand it, and James MacDonald paid a fairly high price to forge ahead with it against criticism from various sides. I’m sure all the pastors and leaders in the audience had varying opinions on things, but I’m betting they were more aligned with the day’s central purpose than the one — and only one as far as we know — who was refused admission.

The MacDonald/Driscoll event was complex enough as it was.  There simply didn’t need to be one more elephant in the room.

HT: FBC Jax Watchdog, a blog we link to at this one, but one which, as far as The Elephant Room is concerned, disagrees with its presenters, disagrees with the denominational heads who permitted their pastors conference to link with the event; but seem to think nothing of siding with Discernment Dude on this one. The politics of hatred can get really complicated at times.  I think everyone involved in reporting this conference sidebar — absolutely everyone — missed the whole point of The Elephant Room.


  1. Hi Paul – when you say that everyone has missed the whole point of the ER, that includes yourself. Probably the one who analyzed it best is Voddie Baucham, who was invited by McDonald to participate on ER2 and declined – he explains his reasoning here.

    T.D. Jakes is a prosperity gospel heretic, plain and simple, so I don’t get past that to even consider his view of the Trinity. But that doesn’t bother the other participants who mostly preach the same prosperity gospel message under their “first fruits” tithing nonsense. So Jakes appearing on the TBN and preaching to poor Christians that they should “sow a seed” and God will multiply it – while he himself is work $100 million – doesn’t bother Furtick or MacDonald.

    I’m surprised that you think Rosebrough being denied entrance is “just desserts”, then characterize him as “trouble and a “ticking time bomb” at a live event.. You are implying that he would have been disruptive or even dangerous. Rosebrough has attended conferences hosted by emergents before, and then he shares his experience with his readers and listeners. I don’t agree with everything Rosebrough says and does, and even some of his analysis of the ER2 has been over the top, but still he does a great job of analyzing the doctrines and practices of the emergents.

    Comment by Tom Rich — January 31, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    • I’ve been away from my computer all day today, so I’ve had more time to think about this, as well as some conversations throughout the past ten hours.

      Many of the people who are commenting on the whole ER2/Jakes thing are in ministry, but many are lay-leaders, or bloggers, or just people who have an opinion on the matter that they want to share.

      One common thread unites those in ministry however, especially if they live in a small or medium sized city or town: They all attend monthly ministerial meetings. Unless you’ve been to one of these (and I’ve attended two of them in another city) you have no idea of the dynamics involved in bringing people together around a discussion table. These monthly get-togethers are awkward for all concerned, and none of the ministers I’ve spoken with on this subject are particularly enthusiastic about attending.

      But attend they do. Catholic. Orthodox. Seventh-Day Adventist. Word-of-Faith. Independent Baptist. Evangelical. (And, in some places, Baha’i, Buddhist, Muslim, etc.) All of them sitting around the same table united by commonality that must seem rather elusive at times. And sometimes some actual work gets done for the benefit of the broader faith community, or the community as a whole.

      And you know what: Each one of them gets up from the table with a better understanding and resolve as to who they, themselves are and what they represent.

      If Jakes claims to be a Christ-follower, but his practice of that faith includes cutting the heads off chickens, I still think giving him a place at the table on a unique, singular, special occasion is a Jesus kind of thing to do.

      That said, if you are organizing such an event, you want to invite audience members who buy into the agenda for that particular day and exclude people if the entire tenor of their ministry runs contrary to the spirit of conversation.

      Furthermore, I don’t believe we need to build fortresses to, as someone put it, “protect the body of doctrine.” The body of doctrine is quite capable of protecting itself, just as easily as Jesus was able to deflect his critics; something He did mostly by asking questions, a format not dis-similar to the Elephant Room.

      In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I think that under more 21st Century circumstances, Jesus would attend something like ER2 — it’s not a stretch from his time as a 12-year-old asking the rabbis questions in the temple — nor a stretch to think He might have organized something like ER2 himself.

      And frankly, you don’t want to think of who He might have invented.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 31, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

  2. I realized later that trying to get agreement here is like trying to get people to agree on The Shack. You either understand the mindset or you don’t get the book’s purpose and decide to condemn it.

    For example, in the meta, “Anon” wrote:

    Chris is very critical of these guys and comes off as self righteous. His coverage has been unfair. Does he ever reach out to these leaders for their side of the story? I doubt it. He couldnt be trusted to behave himself at ER2. That’s just my guess.

    To which the blog replies:

    Anon, that is too funny. Chris Rosebrough absolutely has reached out to these guys. They want no part of him. He has attended these guys conferences, at Nobles’ church for example. He is not disruptive in any fashion.

    But then again, maybe they assume someone critical of a pastor is a “threat”.

    So, we reduce the criteria to the fact that he hasn’t acted out yet at such a conference when really he “acts out” all the time on his radio show. His purpose in being there is not to attend with an open mind and see where the event leads.

    You would do better to invite the secular media.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 1, 2012 @ 9:29 am

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