—– Original Message —–
From: Kent C. Shaw
Sent: Mon, 23 Jan 2012 Subject: Important communication from Kent.
From The Desk Of Kent Shaw January, 23rd 2012
We continue to praise God for the rich time we had together last week in Orlando. It was great to be able to connect again as a Fellowship and to be refreshed together. Plans are shaping up for next years Sr. Pastors and Wives Retreat in Orlando again! More information will follow soon.
As partners together we want to keep you informed of key events surrounding the Elephant Room. Please find below an e-mail sent to the Harvest Bible Chapel senior leaders and elders: Last week James was put under a lot of pressure from leaders of The Gospel Coalition, a reformed group of about 50 pastors he has fellowshipped with for the past few years. They were asking that he ?pull the plug? on Bishop Jakes coming to the Elephant Room (ER) conference. Their reasons are rooted in weak evidence of Jakes? current doctrine and infighting among the black members of the Gospel Coalition who have deep seeded resentments. Crawford Loritts is the black pastor who spoke at James? 50th birthday and is also a council member of the Gospel Coalition. Crawford is participating in this ER conference because he believes in what James is doing and has stepped forward to help. All that to say, not even Gospel Coalition members are unanimous in the opposition, but certain influential men have rallied to pressure James to cancel Bishop Jakes. After prayer and counsel with other Christian Leaders and some of our Elders, James believes it is best to simply resign from the Gospel Coalition and continue to pursue his vision of gracious conversation, face to face, as a model for how to handle disagreement in the church. Find below the announcement James will post on his blog prior to the Elephant Room. We support him in stepping back from this voluntary association. Our doctrinal position at Harvest has only strengthened this past year and will not change in any way. Some, who like to stir up controversy, may approach you for further discussion and we ask that you stand with us by stating only the following: ?Pastor James stepped off the Gospel Coalition with our support. You should be proud of the battle he is fighting for grace and truth and seek to emulate his courage. He has our full support and the doctrine of Harvest Bible Chapel remains and will remain unchanged.?
Why I Resigned From the Gospel Coalition
It seems like almost a decade ago that D.A. Carson came to our church offices in Rolling Meadows, IL, and shared his vision for The Gospel Coalition, then unnamed. It was clear and compelling to me, and I joined in to do all I could to help him and others rally gospel men around the preservation and extension of sound biblical theology.
Though never entirely comfortable with the title ?reformed,? and unable to score higher than 3.8 on the ?C? test, I believe in these important biblical distinctions as protections against a man-centered gospel. I also believe strongly that local pastors benefit from an association that holds a high standard for churches in preserving ? even contending for sound theology. Our church’s Doctrinal Statement has only strengthened during this helpful association and will remain unchanged, as will the doctrinal statement of Harvest Bible Fellowship and our church plants. We are resolutely committed to biblical fidelity and gospel proclamation. We are deeply committed to the exposition of Scripture as the centerpiece of our church planting work around the world.
As our church’s support for the Coalition grew, I was invited to serve on the board and got to witness the wonderful organizational integrity which supports the Coalition work. I have grown to appreciate men who share our passion for the Word of God but have very different views on baptism, ecclesiology, and how best to advance the mission Christ has given us. What we hold in common has been of greater value than any ministry method that separates us. Most of the friendships I have with Council members preceded my joining, and I am assured they will continue long into the future.
I have always believed in the institutional maxim; ?the whole is more important than the part.? I am actually a very small, small part of the work God is doing through the Coalition, and I believe their work will be assisted by my absence, given my methodological convictions. I have very different views on how to relate to the broader church and how the gospel must impact every relationship. I don?t want my minor role on the council to hinder their work as a whole, or to give the impression they agree with all God has called me to do. Ben Peays, the primary leader of the Coalition, accepted my resignation with regret and understanding, and Don thanked me for my efforts these last years. I wish the Coalition well in the pursuit of their goals, and I feel greatly blessed by the impact this association has had and will continue to have upon my ministry.
Guys, I trust you will find this information helpful as you hear James? heart and as you interact with other. Again, thanks for being a part of our Retreat, I thought our best yet. What a joy to be a part of the Fellowship, where we see God at work in such significant and fruitful ways. Please pray for James this week, for the significant role and responsibility he carries in the Elephant Room, that the Lord would give him wisdom and clarity of thought.
If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call. In the glorious battle,
Kent C. Shaw
Harvest Bible Fellowship