DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – Conservative black commentator and pastor Jesse Lee Peterson believes T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Dallas-based Potter's House, is a "blind, cowardly man misleading many thousands of lost people."
Peterson made the claim in an editorial at World Net Daily Aug. 16, two weeks after Jakes was interviewed by the Huffington Post and asked if he believed the black church and the LGBT community could "coexist." Jakes said he believes they can.
"Absolutely .... I think it is going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different," Jakes said during the Huffington Post interview on Monday Aug. 3. "LGBT's of different types and sorts have to find a place of worship that reflects what your views are and what you believe like anyone else."
However, Jakes also said in the interview that he did not believe homosexuals should attempt to join churches and change them from within.
"The church should have the right to have its own convictions and values; if you don't like those convictions and values, you totally disagree with it, don't try to change my house, move into your own and establish that sort of thing ... and find somebody who gets what you get about faith," Jakes said.
Peterson said the question should have been answered far differently, and perhaps it shouldn't have been asked.
"It's really a silly question, if you ask me. Good and evil cannot coexist. Evil hates good; radical homosexuals and liberals bully Christians and force homosexual propaganda on innocent children. But good will not allow evil to spread its corruption; Christians fight against the revolting notion of same-sex 'marriage' and 'adoption.' Only evil people allow perversion to become the norm, as though homosexual sex is on equal par with real marriage and family," Peterson wrote.
Jakes' comments ruffled the feathers of many conservative pastors and theologians after a Christian news publication reported them and said in the article's lead that Jakes had "come out" for gay rights. His claim that his position had "evolved" and was continuing to evolve seemed to suggest he had committed theological error again.
In 2009 and 2010, Jakes was the focus of two motions at the Southern Baptist Convention when information surfaced that he was a "modalist" – or of the mind that God does not exists as an eternal Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Messengers asked that LifeWay Christian Resources stop selling the Dallas pastor's books.
In modalism, condemned in the third century church, God was said to have become the Son, Jesus, in the incarnation, and the Son was said to have then become the Holy Spirit.
Jakes said he was raised in a "Oneness Pentecostal" church where modalism was an accepted teaching. It took nearly three years of controversy before Jakes claimed he had embraced the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. Even then, however, he said he preferred to use the term "manifestations" instead of "persons" for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – language most Trinitarians reject.
But the current controversy, Jakes insists, is unwarranted and malicious and he responded almost immediately. He said his views on the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman have not changed. His method of ministry to homosexuals, however, has.
T.D. JAKES OFFERS AN EXPLANATION
Jakes posted a statement on his ministry's Facebook page Aug. 9 claiming:
"Just because a so-called Christian publication chooses to misconstrue my words using lazy journalistic tactics to further their own agenda and draw attention to their site does not make their statements an accurate depiction of what I said or meant. Investigate.
Jakes added, like the newspapers of old, that people should not believe everything they read online or hear repeated as truth. Jakes said when he was asked about the "black church" and its role in ministering to gay people, he mentioned that his own ministry to gay people had "evolved" after 39 years in ministry.
"I simply meant that my method is evolving – not my message. I was SHOCKED to read that this was manipulated in a subsequent article to say I endorsed same sex marriage! My position on the subject has been steadfast and rooted in Scripture.
"For the record, I do not endorse same sex marriage but I respect the rights that this country affords those that disagree with me."
In spite of the strong rebuttal of the article's claims that Jakes is open to changing his theology, pastors like Peterson claim Jakes is drifting leftward. Jakes said that, in a pluralistic society, once people realize they are "not God, you leave yourself an 'out clause' to grow."
Just after Jakes claimed the church might grow in its understanding, in the video-taped interview, he said:
"That's a shift that has to take place behind the closed doors of the church ... the fact that you have fidelity to the Scriptures as you have been taught does not mean that you are necessarily homophobic ... this name calling does not depict the struggle that many people have theologically," Jakes said. "The argument has to be theological and not sociological. The fact that the world has turned that way does not mean the Word has changed that way."
In a separate statement, Peterson said Jakes was attempting to "ride two horses at the same time" in an effort to appease both Christians and the homosexual community.