James MacDonald has a statement clarifying the purpose of The Elephant Room and walking back his previous defense of the T. D. Jakes invitation. He writes:
One of the things I have worked hardest at in my ministry is listening to and benefiting from criticism. The Elephant Room has brought a lot of it, and I have attempted to get to the bottom of what the Lord is saying to me through this criticism . . .
I regret pushing back against the harshest of critics, for they were few compared to the many who have come in the best possible way with true intention and helpful correction. Further, I have used strong language myself in expressing my viewpoint, so it’s inconsistent at best to resist others doing the same.
I see that this backlash was caused in part by my lack of clarity. I regret that the purpose of the Elephant Room was not expanded and explained before including a greater breadth of participants. By failing to do so, we gave the impression that we saw all participants as in our same ‘camp,’ which we do not. While the hosts of the Elephant Room defend the beliefs of historic Christianity, our purpose statement has now been expanded to include conversations with anyone with the aim of sharpening one another.
I also regret that our invitations have caused some in the African-American community to believe we have abandoned them in their fight for greater attention to orthodoxy among their congregations. Our own church has made immense strides in racial diversity, and these matters are very close to my own heart. We are pursuing an adjusted format for this Elephant Room that will avoid assigning credibility where essential doctrine of our faith is not affirmed clearly. We are in pursuit of other African-American pastors to participate in the discussion of biblical doctrine and its central importance in the life of a New Testament church. Today we announce that Dr. Crawford Loritts will join the conversation in Elephant Room 2. We expect to announce our final participant very soon.
What we are attempting is difficult, but very much needed. Among those whose heart is to support what we are attempting, but counsel me to do it better and more effectively, I thank you for your grace and patience. At this point the weight of standing for the truth and modeling grace is upon the participants. I believe the immense potential benefits of these kinds of conversations bring them within the boundaries of what we should be allowed to attempt, even if others would not or wish we would not.
We are asking that those interested in what we are doing allow the conversations to take place before making final conclusions about their wisdom or helpfulness.