Monday, May 14, 2007

Jakes on Faith and Politics

As a follow-up of the last post, I note that what began as an urban revival, led by an African-American preacher, over 100 years ago has become so influential that the man most-often cited as the most influential minister in the US, another African-American preacher.

I heard this interview with T. D. Jakes on my way home from the Seminary today (link in post title). As usual, I liked what Jakes had to say. In this interview, Jakes, in my opinion, carefully expressed the uneasiness and outright anxiety which some of us have about a coalition of the Evangelical Church and a political party, any political party.

That is not to say that I endorse Jakes, everything he says, and especially not his Oneness doctrinal commitments. That's the amazing thing about him. He is at least hetero-orthodox in his doctrine, if not unorthodox and/or heretical, but most of what he says cannot be labeled. In this way, he is a departure from most Oneness preachers. For most of their writers and leaders, the Oneness issue (baptism, Jesus' Name, view of the godhead) is paramount and at the forefront of their preaching and teaching.

One of my colleagues from "down under" recently published a blogpost (see 'The Batcave') on Jakes and Oneness doctrine.

Jakes' influence is indicative of several intriguing new directions: 1) a de-valuing of orthodox doctrine (as my friend Glen O'Brien pointed out); 2) the influence of Pentecostalism; 3) a shift in the position and status of African-Americans in the US.

Jakes' genius, if not his anointing, is that he has focused his "positive gospel" not on the accumulation of personal wealth, (though that is clearly a "fringe benefit") but on emotional well-being of the African-American audience: women who are in spiritual, emotional and economic bondage and men who have had no real role models of positive manhood. He preaches to the African-American context as it now is, as a result of history.

As is the rule, theological shifts do not occur in a vacuum.