Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald: Thou Art Loosed!

"Shun, as you would the plague, a cleric who from being poor has become wealthy, or who, from being nobody has become a celebrity." —Jerome link


Wikipedia

Another long and arduous step towards getting rid of James MacDonald was made in late September. When I was first notified, my first thought was "Wait a minute! Is he still around?" James MacDonald is now OUT in terms of having any authority for day to day or long term decisions at Harvest Bible Chapel. He is going to be a teaching pastor like David Platt. Here is a link to the Elder Update on 9/22/2017.

Let's review a little history

Just a few short months ago, on June 19, 2017, we posted Did James MacDonald Really Resign or Did He Just Grab His Toys and Stomp on Home? In his resignation letter, (which we later learned was a termination) we were informed that he resigned only from the of running Harvest Bible Fellowship, the umbrella organization for his many affiliated churches. He was still be the chief mucky muck at Harvest Bible Church. In a fit of pique, he announced that he was going to start planting churches under the name of Harvest Bible Chapel, giving the Christian version of the finger to Harvest Bible Fellowship. (I do get a bit tired of the *I feel led* phrase.)


This is from our post on June 19, 2017

  • A number of churches that were part of Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF) allegedly threatened to leave the organization if James MacDonald remained as the leader.
  • James MacDonald allegedly became angry when he was informed of this and he resigned. 
  • He allegedly fired the entire staff of HBF who were allegedly completely innocent, locked them out of their offices, changed the locks, and shut down their email accounts while they were having an emergency meeting at 6am in Elgin (the headquarter and home of MacDonald's church) then the HBC (MacDonald's church) staff escorted them out of the building. So, if this account if correct, then it appear is that that MacDonald is still running the show which is no big surprise to TWW.
  • If MacDonald's letter is correct, then it appears he has absolutely no intention of talking with anyone about it until he is ready since he claims he was under intolerable oppression!!

The curious story of the incident at Harvest Bible Academy

In February 2017, James MacDonald was teaching a Bible class before the entire high school student body. This is a Christian school run by HBC. MacDonald allegedly became irate at a couple of students and berated them before the entire student body for 10 minutes. Apparently, a cameraman associated with HBF was present and witnessed the incident, deeming it out of line and reporting it to HBF leadership.

The alleged incident upset the kids and teachers at the school so much that a number of families left the school immediately, and the camera man quit his job the next day. According to one source, this incident led to MacDonald being questioned by HBF pastors at a meeting in February. MacDonald was reportedly irate that his response had been questioned. This incident was supposedly the beginning of the end which eventually resulted in MacDonald's resignation™ letter.

To top it all off, he had allegedly said he was going to stop living like a king in a mansion, downsized to a smaller home and then allegedly bought more fancy digs. Slumming is not part of his lifestyle.

Also, for years, his churches and organizations have been plagued by enormous debt while paying MacDonald a large salary. You can read about all of this on The Elephant's Debt.

The slow and painful death of James MacDonald at HBC (which is and isn't part of the SBC.)

Given what I have presented, you can figure out my reaction to the latest announcement. It appears the elders are going to move him closer to the door via  the *slow and painful death by job description downsizing* approach.

As of the moment, there are 7 campuses of Harvest Bible Chapel which you can see here. Today I called the central number of HBC and was told that MacDonald preaches live from one of two locations, Rolling Meadows and Elgin. The other 5 campuses get his live streamed sermon. It appears that the Rolling Meadows location is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention. The other churches, which all operate as independent churches, can make the decision on whether or not to join the SBC. The individual with whom I spoke said she was not sure if any other campus had done so.

Having left the SBC for a liturgically based church, I find this approach to membership in the SBC a bit odd. So, if a person becomes a member of the Harvest Bible Chapel's Rolling Meadows campus, she is Baptist. However, if she chooses to switch to the Elgin campus, she is not Baptist? Yet, in both places she is listening to the same sermon? No wonder people are becoming suspicious of evangelicals! Make up your mind, already! The SBC must be deperate to allow these sorts of shenanigans. 

Was he *released* or strong armed?

ROFL!!! If ever there was baloney, that elder's update is it. Here is what our friends over the The Elephant's Debt had to say. 

As you know, on June 14, 2017, James MacDonald claimed to have “resigned” as President of HBF; we posted on this matter which can be found here. From a very reliable source we now can say definitively that this was a forced resignation/termination. This source also confirmed that certain HBF pastors threatened to leave HBF if MacDonald remained as President. (ed note: This is from the umbrella HBF group.)

The Elephant's Debt (TED) responded to the new announcement.

James MacDonald was relieved of leadership duty, and he is to remain on staff solely for purposes of teaching/preaching. James MacDonald has been released from the Executive Leadership Team or the XLT (the staff team that runs the day-to-day of the church), and a new team will be assembled. The new XLT will report directly to the Elder Board (EC) and not James MacDonald. 

$500,000+ allegedly seems to be missing from the books. So, what else is new?

What story about James MacDonald would be complete without bringing up monetary concerns? From TED:

HBF auditors walked away troubled as to the manner in which a few select HBC staff members managed HBF funds. In short – we will get into the details in subsequent posts – HBF funds in the amount of $573,000 were not accounted for by HBC staff or elders in detail.

The diligent folks at TED pointed out this particular portion of the statement from the Elder's Update.

TED asks an excellent question in the following statement. This is a church and/or organization which is been riddled with complaints about alleged money mismanagement.

 It appears by admission of the Elder Update from 9/22/17 that they were still not sufficiently “informed and proactive” in their oversight of key staff, and they discovered their “system of governance did not work nearly as well at protecting” the church.

Why does this Elder Board still not have control and true accountability over the finances of this deeply indebted church?

So what will happen next? Perhaps the elders will think up some *Pastor Emeritus* type title, declare it a promotion, and change the locks on the doors and the cash drawer. 


Here are some older TWW posts on James MacDonald.


Comments

Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald: Thou Art Loosed! — 158 Comments

  1. This is what I wrote on The Elephant’s Debt blog:

    Perhaps one or many have stated this before me, but if the Elders have found MacDonald unqualified/unfit to run the church (including, but not limited to, administering or having access to church monies) then why on earth is he still “qualified” to teach the Bible?

    Apparently, fidelity in finances is more important that fidelity to Scripture at HBC. So sad.

    Still sad.

  2. $573k “unaccounted for” sounds like more than just ordinary-level “money mismanagement”.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    $573k “unaccounted for” sounds like more than just ordinary-level “money mismanagement”.

    That sounds like a red flag popping up for embezzlement to me—but what do I know, I just teach the stuff.

  4. From the time I found out that his church was in huge debt, and he was begging his congregational to pony up some ‘sacrificial giving’, all the while skimming the cream and living the high life in his million dollar mansion, AND blowing a lot of it on gambling…

    …well, I’ve known that James MacDonald is a crook. If he was smart, he’d just quit while he’s ahead (and he’s very, very ahead), slink away, and hope not to be thrown in jail. But I don’t think he’s very smart.

  5. Law Prof wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    $573k “unaccounted for” sounds like more than just ordinary-level “money mismanagement”.
    That sounds like a red flag popping up for embezzlement to me—but what do I know, I just teach the stuff.

    Remember, when you are “anointed” the stuff of the world, for which you teach, does not apply…. Chuck Smith was quick to pull that line when heat was turned up…… I wish I could use it where I work…

  6. Law Prof wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    $573k “unaccounted for” sounds like more than just ordinary-level “money mismanagement”.

    That sounds like a red flag popping up for embezzlement to me—but what do I know, I just teach the stuff.

    Just went down the link to the previous TWW article on the MoG.

    8500 sq ft (800+ sq meter) house plus gambling trips to Vegas with his BFF Jerry “Buck” Jenkins.

    I think I know where that $573k went…

  7. roebuck wrote:

    …well, I’ve known that James MacDonald is a crook. If he was smart, he’d just quit while he’s ahead (and he’s very, very ahead), slink away, and hope not to be thrown in jail. But I don’t think he’s very smart.

    No matter how far ahead you are, there’s always the pull of That Next Big Score to put you even More Ahead.

  8. We wrote about James MacDonald’s gambling history. Boy, were we ever pounced on. Our point was to show that while MacDonald was gambling, the debt was increasing.

  9. dee wrote:

    We wrote about James MacDonald’s gambling history. Boy, were we ever pounced on. Our point was to show that while MacDonald was gambling, the debt was increasing.

    The two often go together.

  10. From the Op:

    “I find this approach to membership in the SBC a bit odd. So, if a person becomes a member of the Harvest Bible Church’s Rolling Meadows campus, she is Baptist. However, if she chooses to switch to the Elgin campus, she is not Baptist? Yet, in both places she is listening to the same sermon? No wonder people are becoming suspicious of evangelicals! Make up your mind, already! The SBC must be deperate to allow these sorts of shenanigans.”

    As Dee and Deb already know, the Southern Baptist Convention is a very loose confederation of “cooperating churches”. What such a church consists of is not well defined. Back in July, Rick Patrick at SBC Today wrote a 3-part series on SBC membership. The first part is linked below. The membership “requirements” for the SBC are in section 3.

    My opinion is that the SBC will accept any church that gives money, which shouldn’t be the case.

    http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/rethinking-sbc-membership-policies-part-one/

  11. I always thought JD was boring – always shouting imperatives with a complete lack of indicatives.

    I sometimes like to read authors from the other side of the aisle (liberal left). It keeps me from group think. I like to read Walter Brueggemann, who I was pleased to meet and talk with a few years ago at a conference. He is a very provocative writer. Last night, I read this concerning Jesus’ critique of social convention:
    “The Law had become in his day a way for the managers of society, religious even more than civil, to effectively control not only morality but the political-economic valuing that lay behind the morality.” “The Law can bee a social convention to protect the current distribution of economic and political power.”
    So that when Jesus was moved to compassion over the marginalized ones, it become a form of criticism that their pain was not normal but abnormal, and the system of law-fulness” had become abusive. The managers could not accept Jesus’ compassion on behalf of the marginalized ones.

    What a system of abuse by religious leaders! That they seek to control not only morality, but the political-economic valuing that lay behind the morality. They did not stop at beliefs (morality), but sought to control the values that led to the beliefs. Of course, then they gained political and economic power through the values control scheme. What a critique!

  12. They can’t get rid of him. All of HBF has puffed him up to their congregations. Small little HBC’s all over the US and abroad would have to admit he’s crook and they’ve followed him and boasted in him. Now, com’on, he’s the man behind the machine. And what a machine it is!! I’ve lived it. And it’s nothing to to be proud of. HBC is THE way. The only real thing. Bleh.

  13. And don’t think the people in the pews know what’s going on. When the TED first came out, I didn’t know a thing. No one told us anything. I found out 2 years later only after I left the church. They keep his secrets well and shame you if you even have a notion. He knows what he’s doing and has major PR.

  14. Toiler wrote:

    They can’t get rid of him. All of HBF has puffed him up to their congregations. Small little HBC’s all over the US and abroad would have to admit he’s crook and they’ve followed him and boasted in him.

    Sunk Cost Fallacy, the con man’s greatest friend:

    Get the suckers so financially and emotionally involved in the scam that they can’t back out; that they’ll defend the con man and the scam, even when they KNOW they’re being taken to the cleaners. Because anything else and they’ll have to admit that they got snookered.

  15. dee wrote:

    @ Lea:
    I, too, saw reports of his death. Looks like CBS was confused as well.

    He was on life support. They took him off. Some time elapsed before he passed. My husband just saw him in concert a week should. Tom Petty mentioned that this was probably his last tour. He wanted to spend time with family. 🙁

  16. James MacDonald has a weekly TV program on TBN (Christian network). It comes on Sunday mornings.

  17. Sad to report that First Baptist Jacksonville is actually having this man as a speaker at their 2018 Pastors Conference. Imagine that, James MacDonald will be teaching the Southern Baptist pastors at the conference, whose title is “How Then Should We Preach”. James will be put forth as a model for other preachers. Absolutely shaking my head in disbelief.

    Word has it that James’ sermon is entitled: “Don’t Gamble With Your Soul”, or “I’m ‘All in’ for Jesus”, or maybe “Jesus is the Royal Flush of Life”.

    We shall see.

  18. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    ust went down the link to the previous TWW article on the MoG.

    8500 sq ft (800+ sq meter) house plus gambling trips to Vegas with his BFF Jerry “Buck” Jenkins.

    I think I know where that $573k went…

    We’re not talking a few dollars missing from the petty cash.

  19. RIP Tom Petty. I’m making myself go to bed because otherwise I might stay up all night playing the greatest hits and disturbing the neighbors (they have kids, I have to keep them in mind).

  20. A tribute to Tom Petty modified for the topic.

    Jenkins and the MacDonald Man were hard up for cash
    They stayed up all night selling books and Elephant Room trash

    And the walls came down, all the way to
    Never saw them when they’re standing
    Never saw them when they fell

  21. I think the hurt and upset evident in this thread indicates that you’re all looking for the perfect church, rather than resting in the status quo God.

    What I would say is, if you ever find the perfect church, don’t join it – you’ll spoil it.

    Yours sincerely,

    Arnold Smartarse

  22. Interestingly, it’s Mr McDonald’s birthday tomorrow.

    Well, it’s not that interesting, but I’m sure I’m not the only Wartburger to’ve noticed.

  23. Maybe I’m just not awake yet, but this story gets weirder and weirder every time I hear about it. And his book???? I mean, it seems kinda stupid to me to shout about gambling when your church is missing half a million dollars.

  24. Please let there be some kind of law enacted that makes churches disclose pastors’ salaries. It’s been said before on this blog that that would steer the money-hungry away from God’s people and I hope I see something like it in my time…

  25. ishy wrote:

    I mean, it seems kinda stupid to me to shout about gambling when your church is missing half a million dollars.

    This book is unreal. Look at the quotes:

    “Prayer is powerful. I have found that while playing Texas Hold ‘Em, my prayer life has been enhanced greatly as I ask the Lord to let me hit my flush on the river,” said MacDonald

    Please tell me this is satire? It is from a ‘watchdog’ group. That would make more sense than tithing being like gambling…

  26. I’ve no doubt that the book supposedly written by Seamus Mhic Dhomhnaill on gambling is a parody. It’s sad how believable it is, though.

    BTW: In the light of recent questions on the Scottish Gaelic spelling of “Iain”, I thought “James MacDonald” should be spelled properly too.

    IHTIH

  27. Just another reason I don’t buy the must have “elders” argument.i have seen many nefarious deeds that elders hide to keep the image up so money keeps flowing in.

    Give me the old fashioned Baptist Wednight business meeting where those who cared showed up to go over the budget with a fine-tooth comb and argue about everything. It was more honest.

  28. Why Mohler recruited MacDomald for the SBC, I cannot fathom. He seems to gravitate to authoritarian crooks and creeps. I ask this because I cannot imagine what the big strategy was? Money? It’s not like James MacDonald was bringing all his former churches with him. It’s not like MacDonald was a longtime member of T4G. Anyone remember McDonald and Driscoll hanging out?

    I don’t get it.

  29. @ Sam:
    Why? We don’t need more laws. Church is voluntary. If the people who give money don’t demand to craft the budget, that is on them. There isn’t enough bubble wrap in the world to protect us from cons. We just have to be more wise.

  30. @ Ken P.:
    Ah, but their local or state associations have ousted churches for hiring a woman pastor. So there is some money they won’t take.

    Interesting how they make the determination. But then another interesting aspect of this is that many of the celebrity gurus in the SBC right now come from churches that barely gave anything to the CP. Platt Chandler, Ezell (tiny amount for a mega), etc.

    Everything in the SBC is upside down and makes no sense. About the only thing that seems holding it together are the thousands of thousands of small churches who give a lot of money for what they believe are missions but really aren’t anymore.

    If Russ Moore doesn’t get his UN/Fed money for NGO, I’m not so sure how long this shell game can last –perhaps another 20 to 30 years?

    They have tried to convince people that the millions they have spent on church planting has been a rousing success–but it hasn’t and Millennials don’t tithes like the older people did.

  31. Law Prof wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    $573k “unaccounted for” sounds like more than just ordinary-level “money mismanagement”.
    That sounds like a red flag popping up for embezzlement to me—but what do I know, I just teach the stuff.

    I think that’s just their poker money.

  32. On a slight tangent:

    Confession, forgiveness and the clergy

    A very interesting article appeared in Saturday’s The Times. It’s by Rabbi Jonathan Romain, minister of Maidenhead Synagogue in Surrey, England (NB – Scotland is not in England).

    The following excerpt is quite long, but it’s worth reading.

    Rabbis are in a different position [from Roman Catholic clergy]. Congregational ethics mean that when someone speaks to us in confidence, it is nearly always observed, but there is no sacred obligation to do so. Here lies a dilemma – when is the greater good served by breaking confidence?
    When Eve found her husband Bob in bed with a friend (not their real names), she sued for divorce. However, she told me in strict confidence that the real reason for the split was that he had been abusing her – verbally and physically – for many years, but she was too ashamed to admit it, whereas now she had a “publicly acceptable” excuse to leave.

    My problem arose a few years later, when he became engaged to another member of the community. Did I honour Eve’s secret, or warn Bob’s new love that he was not the man she thought he was? Did I take account of the fact that she was a very different woman who would probably not tolerate such behaviour, or assume that abusers do not change and he would act the same again?

    I decided that silence was the greater wrong compared to withholding facts, and informed the woman. She took it calmly and said she knew he had a past, but I suspect it was based on his version about how his first wife had provoked him beyond endurance. She broke off the engagement two months later and I felt simultaneously guilty and relieved.

    I am probably not alone in thinking Rabbi Romain was right.

  33. Once again, not a pastor.

    MacDonald must be a master of Biblical Spoken Word Performance Art for people to show up at 6 locations in Chicagoland to watch him do his thing on a screen. Which they could probably watch from home, anytime. I don’t understand why so many intelligent, successful people choose to go to a series of large, expensive buildings to watch this guy do his schtick and voluntarily give him money. Lots of money.

    I’ve learned that people will pay big bucks to get rid of the feeling of guilt. And many people feel guilty if they can’t check off the box next to “Went to Church on Sunday.” In fact, one of our friends goes to a church that’s over in an hour, which she calls “check-off church.” It’s quick, you’re done, check the box.

    But does this explain MacDonald? He can attract a crowd. I just don’t understand why.

  34. Lydia wrote:

    Everything in the SBC is upside down and makes no sense. About the only thing that seems holding it together are the thousands of thousands of small churches who give a lot of money for what they believe are missions but really aren’t anymore.

    The thousands and thousands of small church pastors ought to be ashamed before God that they are not informing their members of what is ‘really’ going on with their mission offerings. A multitude of SBC small churches across America’s countryside are financing Mohler and his machine to Calvinize their denomination, but the average member doesn’t have a clue. Their pastors know (most of them non-Calvinist), but they say nothing as mainline SBC belief and practice are being altered at the denominational level. These churches should not be sending their hard-earned money to finance this rebellion … they should be supporting local missions where they can see where their dollars are going. I know that has not been the Southern Baptist “way”, but the denomination has lost its way.

  35. So they have rightly removed his official authority over the empire but he’s still teaching/preaching?? Teaching IS a form of authority–arguably the highest form. Perhaps this is just a slow burn of the bridge but an incredibly unwise one at that.

  36. Lydia wrote:

    Just another reason I don’t buy the must have “elders” argument.

    I don’t think you have to have elders. But I also think you *can* have elders in a way that is good for the church. Any system can be manipulated, including congregational.

    Where you need to be careful, imo, is when someone new to a system tries to manipulate it either by changing it entirely, ‘limiting’ elders or their power, or strong arming anybody who isn’t a ‘yes man’ out. Those are big red flags.

  37. Lydia wrote:

    We don’t need more laws.

    In general I agree, but individual members should absolutely be suspicious if things like salaries are kept from them. I do think there might be some room for changing the legal requirements for non-profits, but that’s a general thing that might need to be looked at.

  38. “If you can’t trust Jesus with your poker hand, how can you trust him with your eternal salvation?”, asks MacDonald.

    I’d rather ask Jesus to help me “almost dance.”

  39. anon in the EFCA wrote:

    ?? Teaching IS a form of authority–arguably the highest form.

    I strongly disagree. Paul commended the Bereans who didn’t even believe Paul until they had disected what he taught. Teachers have no authority. They have some knowledge which should be tested.

    That aside, MacDonald has no business being in front of people for any reason. He’s proven himself untrustworthy.

  40. Dee,

    Thank you so much for bringing the latest Harvest Bible Chapel scandal to light. My husband and I attended HBC – Rolling Meadows for about 8 years. We left when information regarding the financial scandal was first revealed on the Elephant’s Debt website. My husband had been having reservations about Pastor James for about a year prior to that, as he could see his Jaguar parked outisde the back of the church, with the license plate JKMAC and was also aware that he had bought the house of former US Senator Peter Fitzgerald.

    Please continue to write about this church. Few of our former friends who attend Harvest have left. They continue to trust the church to work out any issues.

    BTW, did anyone see the comment on the Elephant’s Debt website that said James took a piano from Winnetka Bible Church after a failed attempt to turn it into HBC – North Shore? This behavior is so bizarre…I would like to know more about this.

  41. Lydia wrote:

    Ah, but their local or state associations have ousted churches for hiring a woman pastor. So there is some money they won’t take.

    That is true, but having women pastors is an important “Gospel” issue.

  42. Toiler wrote:

    And don’t think the people in the pews know what’s going on. When the TED first came out, I didn’t know a thing. No one told us anything. I found out 2 years later only after I left the church. They keep his secrets well and shame you if you even have a notion. He knows what he’s doing and has major PR.

    This is the thing that makes me nuts. I teach courses at the university and professional seminars in white collar crime. It’s amazing that the very standard and rational sort of due diligence, controls, and checks and balances that are considered the bare minimum in corporate environments are seen as positively sinful in many Christian circles. Somehow it’s seen as a virtue for people to be trusting, without questioning, of leaders.

    That is not a biblical principal at all—it’s antibiblical, antichrist.

    Proverbs says we’re cursed if we trust in people.

    Paul blew his top when he found how the Corinthians were trusting the slick words of the superapostles—he commended the Bereans who questioned him.

    Jesus went after one group with absolute fury, and it wasn’t Roman occupiers, it was the church leaders, whom He called blind guides, snakes, whitewashed tombs, hypocrites and sons of hell.

    So, against that backdrop, I am wondering why in the world do Christians think it’s a virtue to blindly trust leaders and not verify everything they do, do their background checks, their due diligence, and hold these people’s feet to the fire? What is it about some Christians? Do they just hate what the Bible says and reject it for what someone like James MacDonald says? Are we insane?

    (Understand that I’m saying this as one who about a decade ago failed to do my proper checks of a church leader and the new abusive system (Newfrontiers, think British SGM) he was bringing into our church until it was too late—so realize I’m screaming at myself also here.)

  43. The “XLT” is obviously not even qualified to run the abbreviations dept. Extra Large Tall?
    Perhaps it means Excrement Leadership Team which, in this case, would be totally appropriate.

  44. anon in the EFCA wrote:

    So they have rightly removed his official authority over the empire but he’s still teaching/preaching?? Teaching IS a form of authority–arguably the highest form. Perhaps this is just a slow burn of the bridge but an incredibly unwise one at that.

    Actually, I think this is brilliant.

    So, following their example, I’ve decided to release my habits of gambling, shoplifting, pornography and recreational drug-use so that I can focus on just those things on Thursdays and Fridays. To paraphrase the “eldership”:

    This is a healthy and purposeful step towards next-generation, proactive discipleship.

    (er… just to be clear: this is a joke.)

  45. Law Prof wrote:

    So, against that backdrop, I am wondering why in the world do Christians think it’s a virtue to blindly trust leaders and not verify everything they do, do their background checks, their due diligence, and hold these people’s feet to the fire? What is it about some Christians? Do they just hate what the Bible says and reject it for what someone like James MacDonald says? Are we insane?

    I think Christians tend to be a little more gullible, but I see this happen with non-Christians, too. A lot of people want somebody else to take responsibility for what they should be doing themselves. And they don’t question what they believe at all, even if they believe in some government leader or a celebrity.

    But that doesn’t really make it better. Christians should know better and more Christian leaders should talk about it. But many Christian leaders want dumb sheep because that means more power and money for them.

  46. Lydia wrote:

    Why Mohler recruited MacDomald for the SBC, I cannot fathom. He seems to gravitate to authoritarian crooks and creeps

    Birds of a Feather?

  47. @ Lydia:

    “Anyone remember McDonald and Driscoll hanging out?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i remember their “Churches Helping Churches” — such an unsavory stench to that one. Potentially huge sums of money at their fingertips. Their organization seemed to quietly disappear. Too quietly.

  48. drstevej wrote:

    “If you can’t trust Jesus with your poker hand, how can you trust him with your eternal salvation?”, asks MacDonald.

    I realize there are mixed feelings in the Christian community about gambling … and suspect that Wartburgers have various views on the matter. However, James MacDonald is now a card-carrying Southern Baptist and he should respect the denominational position on which card game he plays. There have been multiple resolutions passed by the SBC on gambling, opposing participation, endorsement and promotion by SBC members. Indeed, there was a resolution passed at the national convention just this year: http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/2280/on-the-sin-of-gambling. I believe MacDonald was present at the conference and heard SBC messengers at the meeting share their concerns about gambling. Oh well, just another sign that the SBC ain’t what it used to be … for better or worse depending on which camp you sit in, I guess. I’m just an old fuddy-duddy who disappeared from the blogosphere for a while – I may go back to my retreat … as my grandson would say, there are bumblebees out there!

  49. @ drstevej:

    ““If you can’t trust Jesus with your poker hand, how can you trust him with your eternal salvation?”, asks MacDonald.

    I’d rather ask Jesus to help me “almost dance.””
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    Ha! You’re funny!

    I think i’ll start praying that for my husband. (gotta start somewhere!)

  50. Lea wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Just another reason I don’t buy the must have “elders” argument.
    I don’t think you have to have elders. But I also think you *can* have elders in a way that is good for the church. Any system can be manipulated, including congregational.
    Where you need to be careful, imo, is when someone new to a system tries to manipulate it either by changing it entirely, ‘limiting’ elders or their power, or strong arming anybody who isn’t a ‘yes man’ out. Those are big red flags.

    My question is if there is a problem how would you know? The only reason I knew anything is because I was working at that level as a consultant. People in the pews, who trust elders, have absolutely no clue what’s really going on. And elders will you that they’re totally transparent It doesn’t mean they’re doing anything wrong but the question remains how would you know?

  51. @ Lea:
    What they should not get is any special tax status. I am amazed at the cost to the surrounding infrastructure that comes from mega churches and even Mosques now. That’s one reason why communities don’t want them there. I have seen up close and personal two mega churches that basically went to war with the community over building.

  52. @ Lydia:
    I hit a bump in the road, Lydia … but it didn’t throw me off the wagon. Glad to see that you are still engaged in the debate with anointed common sense and a spiritual understanding of the times we are in.

  53. @ Bridget:
    Thanks Bridget. I’ve been out of the blogosphere for a while … sort of a sabbatical to pause and reflect on things. I’m not surprised to see that TWW continues to have plenty of food for fodder – the organized church and its assorted churchmen are a mess.

  54. ishy wrote:

    But many Christian leaders want dumb sheep because that means more power and money for them.

    You’re exactly right, and of course, that makes them “Christian” leaders, the types Jesus called snakes, whitewashed tombs, sons of hell.

  55. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    plus gambling trips to Vegas with his BFF Jerry “Buck” Jenkins.

    Are we talking the same Jenkins who co-authored the Left Behind series with LaHaye? Not exactly Pulitzer Prize stuff, but they did make handsome bank.

  56. Max wrote:

    The thousands and thousands of small church pastors ought to be ashamed before God that they are not informing their members of what is ‘really’ going on with their mission offerings. A multitude of SBC small churches across America’s countryside are financing Mohler and his machine to Calvinize their denomination, but the average member doesn’t have a clue. Their pastors know (most of them non-Calvinist), but they say nothing as mainline SBC belief and practice are being altered at the denominational level. These churches should not be sending their hard-earned money to finance this rebellion … they should be supporting local missions where they can see where their dollars are going. I know that has not been the Southern Baptist “way”, but the denomination has lost its way.

    Max,
    I agree! Our church still gives to the Cooperative Program, but after seeing what Dr. Platt did to the IMB with the forced “retirement” of all the missionaries who weren’t Neo-Cals, I seriously have some doubts. Again…if the run-of-the-mill Baptist pew-sitter was aware of all this, the funding for this “movement” would dry up and it would be over tomorrow!

    Glad to see you’re posting again. Did the church for your “sabbatical?!” 🙂

  57. Max wrote:

    A multitude of SBC small churches across America’s countryside are financing Mohler and his machine to Calvinize their denomination, but the average member doesn’t have a clue.

    Calvinize-is that like simonize (polishing a car) or mercerize (treating cotton thread or fabric so it’s stronger and shiny)? Or is it like tenderize (being hammered upon to make more tender before being popped onto a grill or into an oven to have your goose cooked)?

  58. Muff Potter wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    plus gambling trips to Vegas with his BFF Jerry “Buck” Jenkins.
    Are we talking the same Jenkins who co-authored the Left Behind series with LaHaye?

    One and the Same, Greatest Christian Author of All Time (GCAAT).

    And Left Behind wasn’t his worst. Check out the website Heathen Critique at https://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ , the three beginning with “S” (Soon, Shadowed, and Silenced) are also his. If you thought LB reads like Bad Fanfic…

  59. Lydia wrote:

    I have seen up close and personal two mega churches that basically went to war with the community over building.

    This has been going on for decades. I remember back in the 1980s when a certain large Baptist church north of the UT-Austin campus would regularly get into disputes with the residents over the way members were just parking in driveways and blocking residents. The church built a parking garage and finally hived off part of its congregation to north Austin. They’re both still listed as megachurches.

  60. Root 66 wrote:

    Did the church PAY for your “sabbatical?!

    No. I’m currently a “Done” … done with church, but not done with Jesus. My leave away from the blogosphere was self-imposed and self-financed. Even though I have entered the Done ranks, I am still concerned about the Southern Baptist Convention (to which I belonged for 60+ years) … so I speak about the enemies in its midst when I get the chance.

  61. Muslin fka Deana Holmes wrote:

    Calvinize-is that like simonize (polishing a car) or mercerize (treating cotton thread or fabric so it’s stronger and shiny)? Or is it like tenderize (being hammered upon to make more tender before being popped onto a grill or into an oven to have your goose cooked)?

    Well, the SBC is not polished, stronger, or shiny these days … tenderized and cooked goose would come closer to it. Perhaps “Mohlerized” would be a more appropriate descriptor.

  62. Lydia wrote:

    My question is if there is a problem how would you know? The only reason I knew anything is because I was working at that level as a consultant. People in the pews, who trust elders, have absolutely no clue what’s really going on.

    How does anybody know anything is really true, for that matter, if they aren’t physically checking the books? You can have elders and still be transparent, for instance, through church meetings that disclose relevant information. Or you can have information available to any church members who ask. My church has rotating elders/deacons, and they are voted on by the congregation. And there are a lot of them. The more people involved, the less secretive you can be.

    Of course, I’m a big fan of informal communications, ie ‘gossip’. So I would distrust anyone who tried to stop that.

  63. Lea wrote:

    What verse is that?

    “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5)

  64. Lea wrote:

    Law Prof wrote:
    Proverbs says we’re cursed if we trust in people.
    What verse is that?

    It’s actually Jeremiah as I corrected above and as Max correctly put in his response to you. There are more verses on this point:

    “Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms…But as for me, I will look to the Lord.” – Micah 7

    “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” – Psalm 118

    “Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.” – Jeremiah 9

    “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” Psalm 146

    (by the way, for our neocal friends who want to have a snit over those verses because they refute the express or implied attitudes of their favorite gurus and leaders, each of those verses is quoted in the ESV)

    I’m not suggesting that we all skulk around waiting for our closest friends and loved ones to poison our coffee—however, I am saying that any leader who ever tells you to trust them or who presides over a system in which implicit trust in the leader is encouraged is a liar, a fool, and is not serving God or caring about what He says. We must answer ultimately to the Lord, we are all high priests, we all have the Holy Spirit if we know the Lord and are not in specific need of teachers (check out what John says on that point in I John 2) and we are fools writ large if we get into the mindset of “I love my pastor, I trust my pastor!” That’s that’s the attitude that attracts and enables abusers like are discussed here.

  65. Lea wrote:

    The more people involved, the less secretive you can be.

    That is my view, too, when it comes to church. What I am seeing is fewer people are interested in knowing what is going on or how the money is spent. They tend to just trust the leaders.

  66. Muff Potter wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    plus gambling trips to Vegas with his BFF Jerry “Buck” Jenkins.
    Are we talking the same Jenkins who co-authored the Left Behind series with LaHaye? Not exactly Pulitzer Prize stuff, but they did make handsome bank.

    They made millions!

  67. Lydia wrote:

    What I am seeing is fewer people are interested in knowing what is going on or how the money is spent. They tend to just trust the leaders.

    Maybe this is just me, but I don’t see the elders at my church as ‘leaders’ so much as ‘people who got nominated to the voting committee’.

    There are definitely some people who just want to show up on sunday and maybe at the picnic and not get too involved. I don’t actually think there is anything wrong with that. People have lives. Until stuff goes off the rails and then you have to make a choice…

  68. Lea wrote:

    @ Burwell:
    I want to write a whole rant about what it means to be male/female, but I’m just not in the mood.

    LOL!

  69. @ Lea:
    Oh I agree , church is totally voluntary. I do have a list of things that I can’t tolerate but that’s just for me.

  70. Lydia wrote:

    Give me the old fashioned Baptist Wednight business meeting where those who cared showed up to go over the budget with a fine-tooth comb and argue about everything. It was more honest.

    Lydia

    I’m with you on that one. It was far from perfect, but the church behaved much more like a body and people were far more likely to gravitate toward serving from their spiritual gifts. The false distinction between clergy and laity has become greater in the SBC since the Conservative Resurgence which purposed to protect theology by reforming the seminaries and mission agencies. The theology that governed people’s daily lives before the takeover wasn’t perfect, but it was better than the disconnected theology produced by dissecting the “word” with scientific precision. I personally don’t buy into the central clerical and theology clearinghouse, but a clearinghouse that sends out servants is far better than one that sends out institutional minded leaders.

    IMO, many of the leaders of the resurgence were as concerned about their legacy as they were about protecting theology. They were captivated by celebrity, power, and money. They fused and confused business and politics with the activities and theology of the Convention, including the seminaries and mission agencies. They introduced organization charts, mission statements, and illegitimate authority which have become the means to manage the people. In so doing, they have dismembered the body. The servant leaders of the past who needed no position have been replaced by artificially pproduced and programmed elders, shepherds, etc. This kind of system naturally attracts the wrong kind of people.

  71. What Happened wrote:

    Lydia wrote:
    Give me the old fashioned Baptist Wednight business meeting where those who cared showed up to go over the budget with a fine-tooth comb and argue about everything. It was more honest.
    Lydia
    I’m with you on that one. It was far from perfect, but the church behaved much more like a body and people were far more likely to gravitate toward serving from their spiritual gifts. The false distinction between clergy and laity has become greater in the SBC since the Conservative Resurgence which purposed to protect theology by reforming the seminaries and mission agencies. The theology that governed people’s daily lives before the takeover wasn’t perfect, but it was better than the disconnected theology produced by dissecting the “word” with scientific precision. I personally don’t buy into the central clerical and theology clearinghouse, but a clearinghouse that sends out servants is far better than one that sends out institutional minded leaders.
    IMO, many of the leaders of the resurgence were as concerned about their legacy as they were about protecting theology. They were captivated by celebrity, power, and money. They fused and confused business and politics with the activities and theology of the Convention, including the seminaries and mission agencies. They introduced organization charts, mission statements, and illegitimate authority which have become the means to manage the people. In so doing, they have dismembered the body. The servant leaders of the past who needed no position have been replaced by artificially pproduced and programmed elders, shepherds, etc. This kind of system naturally attracts the wrong kind of people.

    Amen

  72. Lea wrote:

    In general I agree, but individual members should absolutely be suspicious if things like salaries are kept from them. I do think there might be some room for changing the legal requirements for non-profits, but that’s a general thing that might need to be looked at.

    Stop allowing houses of religion to be tax exempt would be a good place to start. I’ve never tithed but I saw a bumper sticker for sale that stated “Stay home Sunday. Save ten percent”

  73. @ What Happened:
    Great comment! In my humble (but accurate) opinion, you have accurately described “what happened” to the Southern Baptist Convention. Long-held Baptist doctrines of priesthood of the believer and soul competency have been diminished by a new generation of SBC leaders, resulting in a widening gap between clergy and laity. This system of doing church is not Scriptural. Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part! Instead of releasing church members into the fields which are white unto harvest, SBC’s New Calvinist “pastors” now seek to control them and herd them into pens where they manipulate and indoctrinate them under the banner of a new reformation. The Great Commission is not the mission … the mission is to plant reformed theology with a new breed of SBC leaders.

  74. Max wrote:

    “Done”

    Better to be done with those “trusting in man and drawing strength from mere flesh while their hearts are turning away from the Lord,” (Jer. 17:5), than be cursed. Better to be done and blessed.

  75. JYJames wrote:

    Better to be done with those “trusting in man and drawing strength from mere flesh while their hearts are turning away from the Lord,” (Jer. 17:5), than be cursed. Better to be done and blessed.

    JY, as the organized church gets further from the Lord, I think there are a lot of believers who are done with it but just haven’t quit yet! While there has always been the Church within the church, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find the genuine amidst the counterfeit in my area. I’m afraid that too many churchmen have been trusting men and drawing strength from the flesh for so long that they have lost their spiritual bearings. Staying faithful to the Lord in this Laodicean church age requires striking the right balance between two Scriptural admonitions: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” vs. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.”

  76. Lydia wrote:

    Why Mohler recruited MacDomald for the SBC, I cannot fathom

    I haven’t pulled out the foam board, push pins and string yet but I’ve observed or believe the following, sometimes using the analogy of an automotive company like GM:

    1. Mohler and associates seem to view themselves as the board of a holding company like GM with influence and control of several separately incorporated entities and brands.

    2. Currently, their holding company may have controlling interest in some of the smaller institutions; denominations, independent churches, para-church organizations, etc. Instead of stock, control is exercised through leadership, prevailing theology, Church affiliation etc.

    3. Their minions are self-promoting, organizationally ubiquitous and willing to take on multiple challenges to gain controlling interest.

    4. They’ve met a great deal of resistance in the hand to hand combat of smaller churches. I’m not sure how much they have to show for it, but they’ve probably had a little more success using SvC funds to start churches where they have controlling interest from the start.

    5. They have no loyalty to the institutions they control or the people associated with those institutions. Conflict of interest doesn’t seem to stop them from interchangeably using the institutions they control interchangeably. For instance, The Gospel Coalition and the SBC

    6. I have more observations on this one, but the basic point regarding MacDonald is that Mohler just wanted as much ownership in the church/churches as possible, but doing it with the SBC increases the ownership stake in both.

  77. Toiler wrote:

    And don’t think the people in the pews know what’s going on

    Slight tangent here, but I’m pretty sure the sentiment is shared by MacDonald. Give your money to James and he might spend it on gambling– but what is that to you? On Friday Curious commented to let us know that former Acts 29 megapastor Darrin Patrick has come back from a period of reflection to be a pastor-at-large (a position invented just for him) at Seacoast church. Seacoast and ARC head honcho Greg Surratt introduced Patrick to his church on Aug 27th. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX0bXHTqhcc
    He let them know Darrin had called him up 18 mo ago to let him know he (Darrin) had sinned. Slightly paraphased: “Any of you ever sin? Raise your hands. And you ask ‘What did Darrin do? Well– that’s really none of your business. But I can tell you what he didn’t do– he didn’t murder, he didn’t commit adultery, he didn’t assault anyone.” None of their darn business! Then Mr Surratt goes on to tell them that Darrin has already been hired to be one of their pastors. I wish a pew-peon had stood up and said, “Excuse me, pastor– you want us to give you our hard-earned money so you can give it to him— and it’s none of our business what he did?????”
    Of course that pew-peon would be promptly shown the door by security.
    Better still, if half the audience had walked out, taking tithes and offerings with them when he said it was none of their business, he might have taken notice.
    (BTW, what exactly what Darrin did, over several years, as described by his old church, is a little murky. A whole laundry list of sins also committed by every other megapastor, and then some indiscretions involving inappropriate, supposedly non-adulterous relationships with two women. But hey– any of you ever sin?)

  78. Pingback: Wednesday Link List | Thinking Out Loud UNITED STATES

  79. Ultimately no one can stop Christians from supporting these pastors.

    Any changes to the current state of affairs would have to come from the front lines of all these churches.

    But given the continued excesses and entitlements, Christians shouldn’t be surprised that the gospel is such a hard sell to the rest of us.

    Some of my Christian friends wonder how you can walk away from your faith. It’s pretty easy once you put all the pieces of the puzzle together. And the longer you stay away, the less you miss it.

    I don’t think I’m alone on this score.

    And yes, I’ve heard the argument that Jesus shouldn’t be judged on the standard of MacDonald et al.

    But it really appears that most of his followers are more interested in the social aspect of gathering. Which allows these clowns to run amok.

    I do give to some Christian charities based on the work I see them doing, but these folks aren’t high rollers like some of the mini megas in our city. Better to tithe to these practical Christians than some some church that looks more like a business park.

  80. @ Jack:
    Your first sentence nailed it, Jack.

    Because all the deception, spiritual abuse and phoniness has been so devastating to certain people I think a healthy way to approach all of it is through the lens of a researcher studying the aspects of sociological /psychological/group think. Not Christianity. Or more importantly, not Jesus Christ. (God did not create robots or sock puppets. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, for crying out loud!)

    I had to do some serious inventory and soul searching. I am not innocent. I played the game for a while.

    There are many reasons and roads that converge with all we are seeing happen in Christendom. A big one we never talk about is how much we fall for some of their promotion. It’s not as big as we think and it’s not as cohesive as we think. But they want us to think it is. Most people sitting in the pews have absolutely no clue what is going on in the bigger picture -nor do they care. They are checking their Jesus box. And that works in the celebs favor.

    The gurus know that most people are enamoured with “big” and their definition of “unity” which is really conformity. So a lot of attention is paid to numbers and burying the bad stuff.. (Not the numbers they promote)

    I am old enough to see how social media has really changed the game. There is a reason the Neo Cals are backing off doctrine and promoting SJW. In fact, this is somewhat of a historical pattern for determinism. It’s still about control, though.

  81. Lydia wrote:

    God did not create robots or sock puppets.

    Tell that to the Christian Fellowship(TM) that messed me up in the Seventies.

    Sock puppet Praise-Bot or Eternal Hell. Long Live Big Brother.

    The gurus know that most people are enamoured with “big” and their definition of “unity” which is really conformity.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBAl9cchQac

  82. Jack wrote:

    Better to tithe to these practical Christians than some some church that looks more like a business park.

    If not a casino.

  83. Dave A A wrote:

    And you ask ‘What did Darrin do? Well– that’s really none of your business. But I can tell you what he didn’t do– he didn’t murder, he didn’t commit adultery, he didn’t assault anyone.”

    They were talking so sideways about his adulterous non-adultery. Shady.

  84. @ What Happened:
    WH, you have shed light on the dark corners of New Calvinism. It is an aggressive and militant movement that would not exist without stealth and deception. While its tentacles reach into various Christian organizations, it has done its most dastardly work within the Southern Baptist Convention; a once-great evangelistic denomination, the SBC now bows to the aberrations of New Calvinism, an extensive non-SBC reformed network, and a host of cult leaders.

  85. Max wrote:

    Southern Baptist Convention; a once-great evangelistic denomination, the SBC now bows to the aberrations of New Calvinism, an extensive non-SBC reformed network, and a host of cult leaders.

    “Clearing the Planet”/”Tomorrow the World!”

  86. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    It really pays to have good decent people in our lives early on who encourage us to think for ourselves. All of what we discuss here is voluntary which only makes me want to encourage young people to be more independent and question everything! Doesn’t mean we won’t fall into some con but at least we might learn to pay attention to the red flags and our instincts and get out sooner. Cons know us better than we do!

  87. RE: Darrin, wouldn’t it be interesting if the reason he didn’t commit adultery was that the women turned him down, and then they turned it around to say that made it all good?

  88. @ Dave A A:
    Yep. So the real question is why the audience did not walk out? There are always going to be Cons.

    Is it the whole cheap grace— “now I am really redeemed even though I told everyone I was before when I was a big pastor but I now I am really really saved so you can trust me” shitck?

    Or is it the, “ we are all sinners and do really really bad things to other people like lying and deception but that is normal for all Christians so give me more money so I can pastor” shitck?

  89. Lydia wrote:

    encourage young people to be more independent and question everything! … pay attention to the red flags …

    A lot has been said on this blog and elsewhere about the general lack of critical thinking skills in folks attracted to various movements. Combine that with a dearth of “spiritual” thinking skills and folks so easily follow a cult of personality. To Generations X, Y, and Z ensnared by the reformed movement, my advice is to walk away from it for a season, get alone before God, humble yourself, pray, repent, and read the words in red. You will be more spiritually astute when you come out of that place to test the spirits you are exposed to in whatever church you attend. I have a feeling you will need more spiritual independence to navigate the waters ahead; prepare now.

  90. Max wrote:

    You will be more spiritually astute when you come out of that place to test the spirits you are exposed to in whatever church you attend. I have a feeling you will need more spiritual independence to navigate the waters ahead; prepare now.

    Hiya Max, good seein’ ya’ back!

    Lemme’ add my red cent’s worth to the generation x-rs, y-rs, z-rs, or whomever.
    Trust your feelings too, it’s a lie from the father of lies that you can’t.

  91. Dave A A wrote:

    But I can tell you what he didn’t do– he didn’t murder, he didn’t commit adultery, he didn’t assault anyone.

    Hey – neither have I!

    That means I must be perfect.

  92. Lea wrote:

    They were talking so sideways about his adulterous non-adultery. Shady.

    I was thinking phone sex, sexting, and other ways of not knowing them in the biblical way, like Doug Phillips.

  93. Lea wrote:

    RE: Darrin, wouldn’t it be interesting if the reason he didn’t commit adultery was that the women turned him down, and then they turned it around to say that made it all good?

    There may have been sexual harassment, especially given the anger and control issues.

  94. @ Lydia:
    Both of the above. See Tullian Tshnanagans, whose fans are saying the world “needs” him despite his having been crucified by the church crushed lost everything etc.

  95. @ Lydia:

    Great comment! Especially about looking through it primarily through the lens of sociology and social psych and so on.

    I think also part of what explains participation and enablement is that some people think mistreatment they are receiving is normal because of past situations that happened in their formative years. From family of origin, education systems, sports growing up/abuse from there, neighborhood-georaphic, socioeconomic mistreatment, racial or gender mistreatment (sometimes both).

    For any age, prior church and ministry situations that are fundamentally dysfunctional and they don’t know any different because it’s the first and primary experience spiritually they have with church or ministry. And classic spiritual abuse of “God” can be easily indoctrinated and “insert theology here” and used to explain and turn viciousness into virtue depending on the group’s desires and wishes.

    So no matter the reasons or triggers or dynamics, they are in some way trying to recreate past trauma or mistreatment (subconsciously usually) and trying to overcome it or understand it through reliving it. But I think that mostly applies to people who would be more deeply involved and not casual attendees or participants.

    That explains a lot of what was going on with me in my abusive environments and relationships, any ways. God, I’m such a mess! *falls back dramatically onto fainting couch*

  96. Max wrote:

    Well, the SBC is not polished, stronger, or shiny these days … tenderized and cooked goose would come closer to it. Perhaps “Mohlerized” would be a more appropriate descriptor.

    Carbonized???? Burnt to a crisp!!!

  97. Lydia wrote:

    Or is it the, “ we are all sinners and do really really bad things to other people like lying and deception but that is normal for all Christians so give me more money so I can pastor” shitck?

    No, we don’t all do really bad things to others. But yeah, which is it? Is it the so-called norm for some Christian ideologies? If it is, like you and others have said here at TWW (and elsewhere), run like h-e-double-hockey-sticks away from them.

  98. emily honey wrote:

    So no matter the reasons or triggers or dynamics, they are in some way trying to recreate past trauma or mistreatment (subconsciously usually) and trying to overcome it or understand it through reliving it. But I think that mostly applies to people who would be more deeply involved and not casual attendees or participants.

    Fascinating, and I’ll bet you’re right. I was raised in an agnostic family—my method of rebellion was becoming a Christian! But I never knew hypocrisy and parents treated me with love, they hadn’t completely obliterated the image of God in which they were made, as so many church leaders have. Am thankful to God for not putting me in one of those abusive environments growing up. In fact, never really experienced abuse—other than some junior high and high school bullying—until I started attended church.

  99. Dave A A wrote:

    He let them know Darrin had called him up 18 mo ago to let him know he (Darrin) had sinned. Slightly paraphased: “Any of you ever sin? Raise your hands. And you ask ‘What did Darrin do? Well– that’s really none of your business.

    Absolutely textbook manipulation, that opastor is not a pastor and possibly not a lover of Jesus. He’s a manipulator. That’s demonic stuff, folks.

  100. Law Prof wrote:

    He’s a manipulator. That’s demonic stuff, folks.

    Yes. And this guy is manipulator in chief for the whole ARC. Into which ex-Acts29 guys can go easily. While CJ and MacDonald become Southern Baptists. Interlocking directorates.

  101. Muff Potter wrote:

    Hiya Max, good seein’ ya’ back!

    Hey Muff! Yep, the ole guy is back. Darrin Patrick and I just won’t go away!

    (Now, there’s another post for you Deebs … Patrick’s comeback, that is, not mine)

  102. @ ishy:
    American “Christians” are some of the most gullible folks on the planet to put Driscoll back on the throne. And his right-hand man at Acts 29, Darrin Patrick, is now making his comeback, as well. Forgive them if they repent? Certainly! Restore them to ministry? NO!!

  103. Max wrote:

    @ ishy:
    American “Christians” are some of the most gullible folks on the planet to put Driscoll back on the throne. And his right-hand man at Acts 29, Darrin Patrick, is now making his comeback, as well. Forgive them if they repent? Certainly! Restore them to ministry? NO!!

    There’s actually been a huge uproar against Driscoll’s new blog on Twitter today, which I found encouraging. One blogger posted that his announcement only got 4 likes, while his critics were getting hundreds of likes and retweets.

    And now more scandal. Hoping Patheos listens…

  104. @ ishy:
    Goodness! What is pathos bothering with if he can’t even come up with original thoughts in his first article?

  105. ishy wrote:

    There’s actually been a huge uproar against Driscoll’s new blog on Twitter today

    Whenever I think about Driscoll and his unrepentant comeback, I’m reminded of Paul’s warning to the church about Alexander: “Beware of Alexander the coppersmith; he did me much harm.” Mark Driscoll brought reproach to the church in his various ministry failings … and we put him bring in the pulpit?! Even, a lost watching world must wonder if American Christians have lost their minds when they look at some church leaders!

  106. We should all be thrilled that not only does James MacDonald tell us how to “Act Like Men” through his book and conferences, but he also provides a wonderful real life example.
    Wow.

  107. dlc wrote:

    We should all be thrilled that not only does James MacDonald tell us how to “Act Like Men” through his book and conferences, but he also provides a wonderful real life example.
    Wow.

    “The fundamental question in everything we do must be: Will this honor God? Does this display Jesus Christ? Does this make people see how awesome the LORD is? Failure to answer “Yes!” invites Ichabod.” (James MacDonald)

    You can write Ichabod over the door at many American churches, where cult personalities and easy believism are pursued rather than Christ. MacDonald needs to heed the questions he has posed.

  108. @ Bridget:
    Bridget, I won’t argue the point about authority but surely you agree that teaching is high on influence and leadership. My larger point is that he has almost as much influence in the teaching position as he did running the elders.

  109. anon in the EFCA wrote:

    @ Bridget:
    Bridget, I won’t argue the point about authority but surely you agree that teaching is high on influence and leadership. My larger point is that he has almost as much influence in the teaching position as he did running the elders.

    From sitting on the Throne to Power Behind the Throne?

  110. The homes, the cars, the fractured relationships, the witnesses . . . the club memberships, the flashy jewelry, the angry outbursts, the gambling, the witnesses . . . the tattoos, the questionable associations, the bizarre behavior, the threats, the sloppy preaching, the witnesses . . . the family antics, the endless relational tombstones, the lies, the politics, the salary, the debt, the witnesses . . . the berating of unpaid church volunteers, the hostile church takeovers, the dressing down his employees, the cover ups and spin, the poor teaching, the harassing and bullying, the rebellious spirit, the witnesses . . . . . . .

    People of Harvest,

    Awake from your slumber. Arise and go find fellowship with your friends elsewhere. And be done with complicity. Stand with and for Christ. Your stance with and for James MacDonald is akin to standing idly by, watching and concealing years and years of wicked abuse by one member of the family against other members of the family.

    To my Friends at Harvest, choose to stay, choose to conceal and give your stamp of approval and blessing on one egomaniac’s unquenchable thirst for power. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

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