Is T.D. Jakes a Modalist and does it Matter?

by Mike Ratliff

4 Ἓν σῶμα καὶ ἓν πνεῦμα, καθὼς καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν μιᾷ ἐλπίδι τῆς κλήσεως ὑμῶν· 5 εἷς κύριος, μία πίστις, ἓν βάπτισμα, 6 εἷς θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ πάντων, ὁ ἐπὶ πάντων καὶ διὰ πάντων καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. (Ephesians 4:4-6 NA27)

4 As there is one body and one Spirit–as also you were called with one hope of your calling—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism 6 one God and Father of all, the one over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

As I said in a comment earlier today on this blog, “I am immensely tired of the circus that the visible church has devolved into.” However, I also know that God uses these fiery trials in his church to cleanse, mature, and purify those who are his. Therefore, even though what we are about to look into is somewhat distasteful and our even bringing it up will be looked at with resentment by some, we must do this as part of standing firm and keeping watch that the sheep are made aware and are edified as they hear the truth and know who to turn from and avoid. 

What is Modalism? I got the following definition from this site:

Modalism 

Modalism is probably the most common theological error concerning the nature of God. It is a denial of the Trinity which states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes, or forms.  Thus, God is a single person who first manifested himself in the mode of the Father in Old Testament times. At the incarnation, the mode was the Son.  After Jesus’ ascension, the mode is the Holy Spirit. These modes are consecutive and never simultaneous. In other words, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never all exist at the same time, only one after another. Modalism denies the distinctiveness of the three persons in the Trinity even though it retains the divinity of Christ.

Present day groups that hold to forms of this error are the United Pentecostal and United Apostolic Churches. They deny the Trinity, teach that the name of God is Jesus, and require baptism for salvation. These Modalist churches often accuse Trinitarians of teaching three gods. This is not what the Trinity is. The correct teaching of the Trinity is one God in three eternal coexistent persons:  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Is T.D. Jakes a Modalist? James MacDonald, in response to the outcry for inviting Jakes to the Elephant Room, says he is not here where he states, “I do not require T.D. Jakes or anyone else to define the details of Trinitarianism the way that I might. His website states clearly that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations. I am looking forward to hearing him explain what he means by that. ” What T.D. Jakes said there about God eternally existing in three manifestations is “modalistic” language and is exactly what the definition for “Modalism” (above) says. This is not the same thing at all as “One God in three eternal coexistent person: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” If you read the rest of James MacDonald’s attempt at excusing his inviting T.D. Jakes to the Elephant Room then I hope you also see that he is matching up quite well with what we were discussing here.

Another part of the Gospel Coalition, Mark Driscoll, has weighed in on this as well here. He has some well-researched points in his post. However, he takes a swipe at some of us “discernment bloggers” with a strange sideways disqualifying statement that we are not to be believed because we are not connected to any respected ministry, et cetera. Hmmm, could it be that God is using some people in his church to tell the truth to his people in the face of those in positions of responsibility who are doing nothing but telling lies and leading the sheep astray? God did that all through the Old Testament and if I remember correctly, none of the Apostles except Paul was trained in theology. However, the part that disqualified Driscoll’s piece was at the end, right before the endnotes where he said:

In closing, I want to thank Pastor MacDonald for putting together what could be an amazingly insightful event around the Trinity and many other issues that the Church needs to consider. I thank God that I have an opportunity to be involved and ask some questions. I want to encourage folks to wait until the event before making any final judgments about anyone or anything. And, I want to encourage all the men who are signed up to show up. We worship a Jesus who died for what he believed. The least we can do in his name is get on a plane for what we believe. 

This reminds me so much of what certain men said a few years ago when John Piper invited Rick Warren to be the Keynote speaker at his bible conference. My brethren, when a person is a heretic, and a Modalist is a heretic, you do not invite them to contribute to a theological discussion of the Holy Trinity. No, you turn from people like that. You read their works in order to debate them, but not to learn what God’s Word says. How can you do that since they are not of God?

In closing, I want to share what Dr. James White had to say about James MacDonald’s article about T.D. Jakes. You can read the whole article here.

I have been downright encouraged to note the response that has appeared to the amazing statements of James McDonald of “Vertical Church” here wherein he basically throws Nicene orthodoxy under the proverbial bus. Here is the paragraph that drew the attention of many:

2: I do not agree that T.D. Jakes is a Modalist.  

I affirm the doctrine of the Trinity as I find it in Scripture.  I believe it is clearly presented but not detailed or nuanced.  I believe God is very happy with His Word as given to us and does not wish to update or clarify anything that He has purposefully left opaque.  Somethings are stark and immensely clear, such as the deity of Jesus Christ; others are taught but shrouded in mystery, such as the Trinity. I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements that seek clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery. I do not require T.D. Jakes or anyone else to define the details of Trinitarianism the way that I might.  His website states clearly that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations.  I am looking forward to hearing him explain what he means by that.  I am also excited to hear him state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring reformed world.  I believe T.D. Jakes shows immense humility by being willing to step outside his own circles to interact with brothers in Christ who may see certain things differently.  Getting brothers together who believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone but normally don’t interact, is what the Elephant Room is all about.  Talking about issues that separate with grace and truth is what the Elephant Room is all about.  We are greatly honored that T.D. Jakes has agreed to participate. 

Now I know that “emergent” folks have an odd relationship with history—they love to drag stuff out of history, without its attendant context, as if it is “new,” but when it comes to accepting that stand on the shoulders of giants and that there are things that have simply been settled in the past, they rebel and want to put everything “back on the table.” Evidently, the very definition of modalism, and the meaning of Nicea, is “up for grabs” as well, at least for these folks.

Briefly, there is no question that the language of Jakes is modalistic, as anyone who has been listening to our review of the teachings of Oneness teacher Roger Perkins can attest. For McDonald, it seems that the history of Oneness teachings and creedal statements over the past century or so can be disregarded for a “fresh discussion.” How any progress could ever be made in defining truth (or exposing error) in the light of the never-ending, never-concluding “discussion,” I do not know. As with many other groups, it is simply absurd to think that given the definition of the Trinity (which has sort of been around for a very long time now) that specific rejection of that terminology coupled with a substitution of something else is anything other than a rejection of the Trinity itself. The idea that we get to “tweak” the definition today just because we are “modern” and (implicit assumption) so much more with it than those old fogies back then is a glorious example of modernistic hubris, one that sadly shows no understanding of what took place before, during, and after Nicea.

But even more importantly than the tweaking of Modalism so that it gets a place at the table is the attitude McDonald has displayed toward the Nicene definition. He says he does not trace his beliefs to credal statements. Really? If by that he means creeds are always subject to the higher authority of Scripture, of course. But this is where you fall off the other side of the narrow path and rather than believing in sola scriptura, you end up with something much less, and in fact, much different. Nicea’s authority comes from its fidelity to Scripture. It does not stand alone as a new revelation, and it survived simply because it is, despite all the arguments to the contrary, the consistent, harmonious testimony of divine writ. To throw its authority into the dustbin of history in the service of some kind of “emergent” attitude is not only to display an astoundingly arrogant hubris, it is to show deep disrespect to those who fought, and some who died, in defense of its truth. And for what? For some kind of post-modern feel-goodism that cannot even recognize modalism when it is standing right in front of you. A truly educational example of just how far the emergent movement is willing to go in pursuit of its ultimately destructive goals.

There you have it my brethren. Is T.D. Jakes a Modalist? Yes he is. Does it matter? Yes, it does for Modalism denies the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. I have listened to those same debates Dr. White referred to and it is shocking how heretical Oneness Pentecostalism really is when compared to true Orthodox Christianity especially when it comes to the nature of God and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take these truths to the throne of grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit obey the Lord as you stand firm as he commands.

Soli Deo Gloria!

21 thoughts on “Is T.D. Jakes a Modalist and does it Matter?

  1. Mike, I think he is a Modalist and it does matter. You may want to check out this 2010 interview with Jakes where the host asks Jakes directly about the Trinity – TD Jakes: Association Lacking Discernment?. It seems he has changed a little in his doctrine, but he is still not answering questions clearly. He also considers Oneness folks to be Christians, does not fulfill his pastoral duties to rebuke and correct false teachers and he defended Oneness doctrine in his youth which tells me that he knows the theological issues.

  2. “Not to be believed because we not part of any respected ministry”
    Astounding, and a compelete worldy, carnal and logical fallacy, ad hominem attack. This of the authority of man not of God.

  3. How sad to see Dever’s mind being dragged into the pit of false teaching in the name of unity. It seems that these men who thrive on public associations with other like-minded theologians have a hard time discerning when one of their kinsmen falls off the narrow path of essential Truth. I understand why Dever might not be ready to publicly rebuke MacDonald – though he should have been doing so at least privately for some months now – but I cannot fathom why he thinks it’s right and proper in the sight of God to publicly associate with and implicitly endorse a well known and well documented heretic like T.D. Jakes. A whole lot of poor judgment in the unspoken name of Rodney King.

  4. I think a child could read the bible, and make a strong case for the Trinity. John 1 is fairly clear I think!

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    Shows me the Trinity, and the darkness that couldn’t comprehend it…Hmm!

    You do well to point out these errors brother.

  5. How can Jesus return to the right hand of the Father, sitting on His own throne, and send the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, and we boldly go to the Throne of God in His name, if all we are dealing with here is 3 manifistations?!? If we can’t see this, we will NEVER get the fact that we too sit with Him in the heavenlys according to His Word in Eph 2:6 How will Jesus have the pre-emminence, as is the Father’s will (Col 1:7) if they are 3 manifistations?!?!
    I try to study Truth, so I can recognize error, if I study errors, I could become an expert on errors…and never come to the knowlege of the Truth!
    You do well, brother to point out these errors, and what is the Truth as well. I appreciate this Blog, and all who respond here! (Sorry. i get worked up at times.)

  6. Preaching to the choir (metaphorically speaking of course) brother. :-)

    Yep, we see these things, clearly see them, yet these so-called theological experts are blind to them. Why? The answer is as you shared from John 1. They are in darkness.

  7. Hi Mike,

    Where is the care and concern for the babes in Christ amongst those today who consider themselves leaders? Think of how confusing it must be to the babes (and at times, even to myself, honestly) when “reputable” teachers partner with heretics, or give credibility to immature, foul-mouthed “renegade/bad-boy” style preachers? Our Lord issues some awfully stern warnings about leading little ones astray.

    Plus do these “reputable” teachers not realize that the bad company they are embracing will corrupt the good character they have – and will discredit their ministries – and most importantly, bring disgrace on the name of Jesus Christ?!

    I was reading John 17 yesterday and wept.

  8. Mike, I do thank God for you and my other brothers and sisters here at PTT as well as elsewhere, who are, by His grace, faithful to the truth. I grieve and mourn over the compromise, and pray diligently for repentance to come to the erring souls.

    Thanks for giving us a place to meet and fellowship.

  9. It still surprises me that when a brother or sister in Christ, or an obvious heretic, or someone teaches in error, their supporters defend them with “I think” “I feel” rather than prove the evidence given wrong. In many cases, such as this one, the person at the center, Jakes, has a long, and well documented, history.
    History is not fake, phony, or constructed, it just is, to twist Dawkins cold hard DNA quote a bit. It has to be interpreted and different versions measured, to be sure, but it is what it is. To have a long history of something and then have a “follower’ come out and say “he isn’t” or “he didn’t lie” only multiplies the problems, because then you have the defenders, rightfully so, becoming the defendants. Need I mention Piper/Warren here?
    Historically, the defenses of Jakes I have read so far only calls into question the defenders themselves, the evidence remains untouched. When a called pastor of the word can in one sentence affirm scriptural clarity and in the same throw it out with a straight face really calls in question his discernment.
    Next we will have the McDonald defenders, the Gospel Coalition defenders, and on and on it will go. Rather than defend the giant of Nicea, rightfully seen for what it is, built on the blood and faith of those better men before us, we will see the “@haters, blah blah blah” defense, which is not a defense at all, Rather than the faith delivered once for all, we will see the supremacy of twitter and the battle of the “followers”.
    Men have histories, and their writings, twittering, emailing, and so on are a part of that history, inseparable from their theology. It will either point to a man diligently following God while stumbling along the way, or it will point to another man.

  10. Anytime someone has the audacity ro refer to themselves as “Bishop” this or “Bishop” that – run!

    Run away as fast as you can.

  11. Amen Joesph T….AmenI!!!!!!!!!!

    T D Jakes if from South Charleston WV. I am from WV as well. I lived in Huntington WV for 22 years before moving to Wisconsin.
    I could not stand to listen to the man preach much less to go see him in person.
    My old charismatic church that I attended in WV was invited to sing at an award ceremony that South Charleston was doing in honor of Pastor Jakes.
    It was mandatory that we sing, if possible. The choir sang before they gave him his award. The mayor and others from his old church were there.giving homage to him. I remember thinking that day, because of the way everyone talked about him before he came on stage. I remember thinking, they think he is God or something. All I heard about was how wonderful he is and how much they love him and so forth. I never heard one mention of God, Jesus or nothing to the Glory of God.

    All I can say is when he took stage and began to rant and rave….. I left with a big HEADACHE…..truth..

    I am so glad that I ran………….away for all this mess.

    I thought to myself today….this man T D Jakes denies the “trinity” while Benny Hinn thinks there is 9 of them, which is trithesims. They are messed up

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