James MacDonald Sues Bloggers for Defamation. There Are Reasons Why Defamation Lawsuits Rarely Succeed

If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it. –Epictetus

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Silhouette

Before I began this blog, I was blessed (and I do mean that) to learn how to understand the law and defamation/libel with the help of Jeff Anderson, a lawyer who has been incredibly successful in abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church.  First, let’s understand the definitions. Here is a decent website and post. Social Media and Online Defamation.

There are two main types of defamation: libel, or written defamation, and slander, or verbal defamation. When a potentially defamatory statement is made online or through social media — such as via Facebook or Linkedin — that involves the written (or “posted”) word, and so it is considered libel.

What bloggers (and media) can say legally in the Unites States.

(Warning-I’m not a lawyer and you should consult an attorney with any questions regarding defamation.)

I was startled to understand the freedom that we have in our country. Here is a simple outline of what a person MUST prove when claiming defamation. All three things must be proven in order for a successful lawsuit for defamation. As you will see, it is exceedingly difficult to prove defamation.

  1. The writer must lie.
  2. The writer must knowingly lie.
  3. The writer must knowingly lie in order to bring malicious harm to another.

So, when it comes to TWW, I listen to stories and make a judgement on the honesty of the statements. I don’t have to prove that it is true but I must believe that it is true. I can assure all readers that I would never deliberately lie and I take great care to be as truthful as possible because I write to shine light on the problem of abuse in the church.

The law is quite different in many other countries. In those areas, the writer must have proof of what they say. Are you thinking that this is a good idea? Think about the trials of OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony. How many of you have said that you believe that they were guilty even though the court results meant they were not proven guilty? How would you feel living in a society that might prevent your ability to speak what you think is true?

Frivolous lawsuits by people with access to lots of money.

How many of you are aware that Julie Anne Smith was sued by her former pastor, Chuck O’Neal, because she left a negative review of her former church on Yahoo. I remember the day she called me, crying and wondering how she could afford to fight such a lawsuit. I told her she would prevail and she did. In fact, in Oregon where the church is located, there is a law called anti-SLAPP. Wikipedia does a decent job explaining this to us nonlegal types.

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.[1]Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.

In the typical SLAPP, the plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs, or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism. In some cases, repeated frivolous litigation against a defendant may raise the cost of directors and officers liability insurance for that party, interfering with an organization’s ability to operate.[2] A SLAPP may also intimidate others from participating in the debate. A SLAPP is often preceded by a legal threat.

If the defendant prevails in an anti-SLAPP, the person who brought the lawsuit must pay the defendant’s attorney and court fees. This is to prevent people with access to lots of money using their resources file frivolous lawsuits.

The Friendly Atheist wrote about JA’s victory.( I loved being with her last week at The Courage Conference.)

“This case was dismissed under Oregon’s anti-SLAPP law” said Linda Williams, an attorney for the defendants. “This is a powerful tool to throw out claims which cannot ever succeed because they seek to squelch speech protected by the First Amendment and Oregon Constitution.”

“SLAPP” stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” That’s a lawsuit that aims to silence somebody who you disagree with by burdening them with legal woes.

“(O’Neal) has the right to govern his congregation in the manner in which he chooses, and defendant Julie Anne Smith is authorized by law to express her disagreement with his performance of those activities,” Fun wrote in the ruling dismissing the case.

“This is what America is all about,” Smith told KATU after an earlier hearing. “We need to be able to speak freely even if it’s not polite or falls on ears that really (don’t) want to hear this kind of thing.”

The Streisand Effect was in full force here.

The church’s Google Plus page — with 892 reviews — now has an overall score of 0 out of 30 (not a typo).

James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel (now a member of the SBC) SLAP a lawsuit against the authors (and their wives) and a journalist for defamation.

Over the last number of years, TWW has followed the fascinating revelations of life behind the curtain at Harvest Bible Chapel/Fellowship at The Elephant Debt (TED) website. Currently, the authors are not allowed to speak with us due to the pending lawsuit. Here is the TED statement. I’m assuming that they will not mind us recopying it here.

On 17 October 2018, James Sherwood MacDonald, individually, and Harvest Bible Chapel, corporately, filed a complaint in law as well as a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the authors of this website, the wives of the authors, and an independent journalist by the name of Julie Roys.

The complaint and TRO stem from the contents of this blog, and for simplicity sake, the essential legal allegation is defamation.  According to the article published by the Cook County Record, Ms. Roys “declined to meet with church leadership for a story on Harvest she is currently reporting for World Magazine.”

While the authors of this website would never have chosen to resolve our differences in a litigious manner, we are confident that the legal process will ultimately uphold the values of the first amendment right to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, all of which are essential to safeguarding the values of the Protestant Reformation and our common life.

This was followed by this post called Thank You.

To the many people who have reached out to us over the past few days, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you for the many kind moments including prayers, shared scriptures, and even just a willing ear to listen.  As you can well imagine, the news that James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel was suing not only an independent journalist and ourselves, but our wives as well, was stunning to say the least.

More than a few of you have already asked how you might assist us through donations to a legal defense fund.  As we suspect you know, a case of this kind can be quite expensive; and we are sure to be incurring at least tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses and other costs.  Several attorneys that we have spoken with have already suggested to us that if the case goes to trial over the course of 24 months, the final cost could run well into the high six figures.

So, if you are interested in contributing to such a legal defense fund, you can make a check out to: “Ryan Mahoney or Scott Bryant.”  Be sure to include both of our names on the check so that both of us have access to the funds as we prepare our legal defense.  Please know that we are setting up a joint account for this purpose.  Checks can be mailed to:

2206 N. Main Street #207
Wheaton, IL 60187

Should the plaintiffs in the case chose to withdraw or should the final cost of the case be less than the amount raised by generous donors, any excess funds will be returned as equitably as we are able to distribute it.

Again, we thank the many kind readers who have supported us in so many ways over these past few years.  We truly could not have done this without the support that so many of you offered along the way.

Sincerely,
The Authors

The multi-campus Harvest Bible Chapel in greater Chicago along with founder James MacDonald, has slapped several former workers and independent journalist Julie Roys with a defamation lawsuit alleging the publication of false information about the church, its finances and governance that resulted in the loss of 2,000 members.
Although I know that Harvest Bible Chapel joins MacDonald in the lawsuit, I will be using MacDonald’s name since he’s obviously the man in charge.

MacDonald is upset over the loss of 2,000 members (13,000 attend his church) due to TED’s *untruths.*

It is my understanding that Illinois has an anti-SLAPP provision. But, then again, I’m no lawyer. The article went on to say that James MacDonald was *devastated* that he was forced to proceed with the lawsuit but, gosh darn it, the church lost 2000 members out of 13,000 members. I wonder if they were concerned about paying off the elephant sort of big debt…but maybe not. According to The Christian Post:

“It isn’t that some of the criticism wasn’t fair. I believe in the marketplace of ideas and of regular, vibrant discussion inside a local church. It’s just that their words were often untrue, their information was incomplete, and over time their tone of reasonableness disintegrated, exposing their obvious goal of ending our ministry. Over a three–year period, their materially harmful untruths drove more than 2000 members out of our church — a church we founded with a handful of people more than 30 years ago and have given our lives to,” MacDonald explained in the statement in which he said he was “devastated.”

The authors of TED, Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant, are accused of being cynical and divisive…

I’m still not sure what their wives did since they are included in the lawsuit. I also understand that there are

The complaint alleges that Ryan Mahoney was a Harvest Christian Academy teacher until 2010 when the church didn’t renew his contract for allegedly negating MacDonald’s sermons in his classroom, and offering a cynical view of the church and its culture.

…Mahoney allegedly met Scott Bryant at the church, who also became “equally divisive after being declined a teaching opportunity that he repeatedly pursued.” Both men allegedly stopped attending the church at the same time, and “began publishing negative and defamatory information about Harvest”

Julie Roys is accused of defaming *the church* on her show at Moody Radio and her personal website.

Interesting….Moody has deeper pockets than Mahoney and Bryant…Read this next part closely. I wonder what she learned.

The church is alleged to have canceled Roys’ appearance as a keynote speaker for a February 2017 women’s event after she allegedly tried to get Moody Bible Institute board members to remove MacDonald’s “Walk in the Word” radio program from its network, the Cook County Record noted. Roys is alleged to have declined to meet with church leadership for a story on Harvest she is currently reporting for World Magazine.

Roys denied writing anything for The Elephant’s Debt

Challenge to World Magazine. Publish the story…I wonder what’s upsetting *the church.*

MacDonald released his own statement, attempting to convince us that this lawsuit is a good thing to do.

MacDonald wrote Enough is Enough: Why We Can and Must Take Bloggers to Court. Let’s take a look at what he has to say.

  • He’s upset that *anyone who breathes* can have a microphone. After discussing how wonderful his blog was, he claims that many bloggers blog after midnight and hurt ministries and ministers.
  • He claims that the elephant large debt of $66 million may have been caused by some *elders for life* which he claims was dysfunctional. (I’m trying to understand-really…Wasn’t he in charge?)
  • He says he invited leaders from other churches to help his church’s leaders to become more loving. So, is he saying that they weren’t loving before? Whose fault was that?
  • He admits that *they* could have communicated better in the church governance issue. So were the bloggers right by contending that there was a problematic atmosphere at Harvest? It sure sounds that way to me but I’m rather sleepy.
  • MacDonald claims that obsessive bloggers wanted him to leave Harvest due to this *communications storm.* Could it be that they actually had a valid opinion? I am beginning to get one myself but I’m in no mood for this nonsense so I will keep my mouth shut, mostly…

Why I believe that it is possible that some claims in this statement by MacDonald will lead to the exoneration of the bloggers and Roys.

Now, remember this is how I read it and I do have a right to state my opinion in the United States. Maybe Harvest Bible Chapel could base their ministry in Scotland?

He admits to problems but claims he followed the biblical teaching for personal offenses. Does this mean that everyone should now be satisfied?

We loved these former members dearly, so our first efforts were to follow the biblical teaching on personal offense. We held many congregational meetings, owning the confusion from our conferences and confess- ing our failures to be broader and more transparent with our governance. We instituted policies to keep similar mistakes from happening in the future and continued aggressively reducing our mortgage (still on track to be mortgage free by 2023). We sought reconciliation with former leaders or staff the bloggers identified as offended.

Note how he claims that the bloggers would write about specific things that were happening. Also, what is a carnal commenter and is this against the law in the United States?

Again and again, as something trivial, controversial or diffi- cult would happen in the church, the bloggers would show up online as carnal commentators distorting the record

MacDonald claims that he had to call the police because TED and Roys were saying illegal things.

Remember what I said at the beginning of the post? MacDonald must PROVE that the bloggers were deliberately and knowingly lying in their posts. If they believed what they were writing, then it is NOT illegal, no matter how *carnal* it was. (I do need a legal definition for carnal, by the way. Can anyone out there help me? Lawyers?)

MacDonald claims he is proceeding with this action to *protect the flock.* Huh? Has he not taught his *flock* how to discern the truth? Didn’t he say that they had all sorts of awesome teaching sessions with deep thinkers like Steven Furtick helping folks to see the truth? So are his people ignorant, carnal or whatever? If they are, does he bear any blame?

Is he saying that the 2,000 people who have left are in danger of…well something from which they need protecting? Why didn’t he train them?

I’m sorry but this is all rather confusing to me. It must be those late nights.

MacDonald now claims that more ministries may follow suit in suing bloggers.

He says:

We have carefully reviewed the Scriptures related to the purpose of human government and the church. We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.

He should tell us who he contacted about this *new idea.* Steven Furtick? Seriously? (Does he like his new house?) How about Matt Chandler who had his own moment in the sun and had to apologize because of carnal bloggers who were blogging after midnight? Mark Driscoll?

My carnal opinions on the matter.

I have had the opportunity to carefully read The Elephant Debt through the years and found it thoughtful. I have a hard time believing that these bloggers were deliberately lying in order to bring harm to MacDonald. But, he thinks differently and obviously gets more sleep than bloggers who are up all night.

  1. His opening comments about losing 2,000 members could be perceived by carnal bloggers, such as myself, as him being upset at losing contributors to the church. Those contributors were helping to reduce the elephant medium-large debt.
  2. Are all 2,000 former members unable to understand the nuances of the arguments between MacDonald and his critics? Do they need to be protected by MacDonald?
  3. $66 million in debt sounds like a lot to me.
  4. MacDonald admits to some problems in the church. Those might be used against him as he proceeds to stopping illegally carnal bloggers. Remember, he has to prove they were lying about their concerns.
  5. MacDonald resigned from leadership of the Harvest Bible Fellowship. My guess is that all of that will be dragged into court which could be embarrassing for MacDonald.
  6. There was a bit of a brouhaha when elders were suddenly removed by MacDonald and MacDonald was forced to apologize for his actions. That will rear its ugly head, for sure.
  7. Due to the acknowledgment by MacDonald that there were issues that he sought to resolve, I believe that MacDonald is risking his reputation with this lawsuit.
  8. MacDonald and his church have lots of money (and *some* debt.) I would imagine that anti-Slapp might be considered by lawyers of the defendants.
  9. MacDonald better have exacting proof that the bloggers knowingly lied when they wrote their posts. They have a right to their opinions and the First Amendment is hallowed in these parts.
  10. He would be advised to stop with the *carnal commenter* baloney. This will not play well.
  11. I believe that the bloggers will win. It is bloggers who are exposing the awful problems of child sex abuse in churches. Bloggers are changing the face of reporting and MacDonald risks sounding like an old curmudgeon who is having trouble adjusting to a new world. He needs to figure out why only he can have access to the microphone…Is it because he gets more sleep?

How about continuing to turn the other cheek?

Jesus turned the other cheek all the way to the Cross. Yet MacDonald claims that he can’t do it after only a few years because he has to protect the flock. Didn’t Jesus have to protect the flock? Or did Jesus know what MacDonald should know? God is present and is caring for His church in spite of religious leaders who really screw things up. Maybe he should reconsider his lawsuit.

On Sunday, MacDonald apologized for the harsh language and urged his congregation to “accept these brothers as valued members of the body of Christ.”

“We made statements about their character and actions that were hurtful and proved to be untrue,” he said. “We repent of this and asked for their forgiveness.”

He noted:

In summary, our discipline condemned them. We lost sight of the biblical priority of seeking a redemptive solution to our differences. In our recent meeting with them, it became apparent that we still have differences between us, but they met with us in good faith and seeking mutual understanding. They accepted our apologies and agreed to be at peace with us and with Harvest.
MacDonald also apologized to onlookers. “We also ask the forgiveness of the wider Christian community that has watched this painful episode unfold,” he said Sunday. “As the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel, we’re committed to regaining your trust in all that we do and say.” He concluded, “With this action we consider this difficult chapter closed.”


Comments

James MacDonald Sues Bloggers for Defamation. There Are Reasons Why Defamation Lawsuits Rarely Succeed — 222 Comments

  1. I read the CT article reporting regarding the discipline of the 3 elders and found this interesting:

    “…we almost immediately realized that we erred in the manner in which it was done and in what it implied,” said MacDonald. He noted, “We delayed making this confession, not wanting to worsen matters as we prayed for a true reconciliation.”

    “We delayed making this confession,…”

    Something tells me this willful refusal of confession of sin would not be tolerated amongst other Harvest members. But, leadership, it’s cool.

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  2. James MacDonald is world class huckster and all around jerk. He’s in ministry for the money – I remember listening to Walk in the Word with him pleading with the congregation to ‘give sacrificially’ as he was moving into his million dollar mansion, paid for by guess who.

    This quote from George Burns fits him to a tee, as well as a large percentage of celebrity ‘pastors’…

    “The key to success is sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made”.

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  3. “He says he invited leaders from other churches to help his church’s leaders to become more loving.”

    Church leaders who aren’t very loving? What’s up with that?! If you don’t love as you ought, how can someone lead you to do that?! Perhaps a better solution would be to replace them with leaders who already meet the greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It’s such a strange thing to do … to recruit folks from other churches to teach you how to love!

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  4. We resigned membership from HBC after 12 years last fall, due to ongoing issues and questions that leadership would NOT address appropriately. The TED authors are right-on in every respect. Pardon my saying this, but a 10% tithe our of income is no small amount. It hurt, but after giving many chances and the benefit of the doubt, we saw firsthand that Harvest is run by a man who believes it is his family business and has serious problems with money.

    HBC and MacDonald will lose this suit. Current members and attenders need to REVOLT against their money being used for this lawsuit. Pastor James is very much forgetting that for a defamation suit to be successful, the claims being made need to be false. And TED’s claims are true.

    The church created a new page today, at which the public can find an All-Church letter that spells out a new “finding” regarding the handling of money by a staff member. http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2018/10/23/inthenews/

    We held out hope for HBS for a long time before we had to face the cold, hard truth that nothing will change until James MacDonald and his cronies are gone.

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  5. I am having a hard time with the following statement: “We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”

    Have things really changed that much in Bible believing churches that this kind of lawsuit by a pastor is now considered okay? How does this demonstrate the love of Jesus??? You know… the idea that “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

    I have a suspicion that this will backfire and drive more people to read The Elephant Debt blog and to question what is really going on behind the scenes of that church.

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  6. For you Southern Baptists who tune in here, James MacDonald and Harvest Church joined the SBC in 2015 during the height of the New Calvinist feeding frenzy in the denomination. The SBC (at least the former one) has always frowned on Christians who sue other Christians.

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  7. Yes, Dee, you will be believed when you openly pray for CJ Mahaney who is clear in his conscience he’s done no wrong, and has been convicted of no wrong, despite your disagreement over his “guilt”. Yes. Then everyone will know you mean it!!!!

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  8. Yes, Dee, you will be believed when you openly pray for CJ Mahaney who is clear in his conscience he’s done no wrong, and has been convicted of no wrong, despite your disagreement over his “guilt”. Yes. Then everyone will know you mean it!!!!

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  9. STREISAND EFFECT!!!

    Once someone puts up a lawsuit, now everyone has to go and read what the “defaming” statements were. But if they would have just let the bloggers say whatever they want, then less damage is done.

    If the accusations are true, then they are now facing the music. If the accusations aren’t true, then follow Jesus in saying nothing about the falsehoods, and let the Lord deal with it.

    But suing? Not only is it against Scripture (not that they ever cared about Scripture), but they also look like crybabies.

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  10. “He says:…’We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking’.”

    “He should tell us who he contacted about this *new idea.*”

    Given his recent twittering, I’m guessing Ed Stetzer.

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  11. Anonymous:
    Yes, Dee, you will be believed when you openly pray for CJ Mahaney who is clear in his conscience he’s done no wrong, and has been convicted of no wrong, despite your disagreement over his “guilt”.Yes. Then everyone will know you mean it!!!!

    Ummmm-is this a new gospel standard? Openly praying for CJ Mahaney? As opposed to openly praying for victims? Sounds likee something the gospel boyz would dream up. How do you know Mahaney’s conscience? Are you God’s right hand man? You don’t know his conscience and you sure as heck don’t know mine. Unless, perhaps, you are CJ….

    I don’t give a fig about Mahaney’s supposedly clear conscience as stated by a wussy person who won’t use his name. At least I write my name. Do you know how many people can block unwanted to memories?

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  12. Mary27,

    It’s a last resort move to deflect a forthcoming article and TED coverage of Julie Roys’ World Magazine article. Word on the street is that she has marshaled scores of sources who are willing to go on record by name and testify to deceit at the hands of HBC and James MacDonald. We shall see…

    According to an email to church members today, there’s also new evidence of a staff member in the operations who defrauded the church of a couple hundred thousand dollars over a year or so. The church has filed a preliminary police report.

    Sadly, in their explanation of both the fraud and the youth pastor’s sexploitation, HBC uses language that attempts to minimize the crimes. The word “sin” is carefully avoided, and there is no expression of sorrow or sense of responsibility for these offenses.

    To re-cap for current HBC congregants who have tithed in the past year: 1) Your money may have been stolen by someone working within the church, 2) your money may pay for lawsuits filed by parents of teens in the youth ministry who were victims of the youth pastor, and 3) your money is for sure funding a defamation lawsuit against two bloggers and an independent journalist.

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  13. This is not going to go well for JM! In today’s world bloggers are not civil lawbreakers. I think JM is not understanding that 90% of society today advocates for free speech and blogging, tweeting, fb websites are the new platform for the little man to speak loudly and freely. I think Julie Roys has some real damaging stuff in her piece for the world review or whatever it’s called. I think JM is looking at Bill Hybels fall and is realizing the best fight is to try to keep the article from coming out at all. The Chicago tribune article destroyed Bill Hybels and he could not recover from it. Hindsite 20/20 I bet Hybels wishes he had been able to sue to stop it from ever being printed. JM is trying to keep her piece from ever coming out to the public. He included these former members and their wives as a cover to get to the real issue. He is freaking out over what Julie Roys dug up.

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  14. Ann,

    Yes, ma’am.

    At this point, the number of former attendees and leaders who might be willing to band together & tell their stories under the banner of a respected news publication is legion.

    I’m very much praying that key men and women have said “enough is enough” and are willing to go on record with the truth (as many have done already via TED).

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  15. Good article- thank you! I recently had someone anonymously threaten me with a defamation lawsuit due to my recent blog series on the United Pentecostal Church and Sexual Abuse. They wanted me to remove all the names of the ministers I’d listed as having spoken at a particular church. Sorry, but there is no defamation in that.

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  16. For the legal experts out there, will this lawsuit entail discovery for both sides? If so I am inclined to think MacDonald et al have much more hidden.

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  17. __

    “A 501c3 Lunch Box Preacher Boy Named Sue, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    overture:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR5XGTpophI

    Just take a widow mite and cast it into the offering plate…

    Do you think God sees?

    What happens to 501c3 pastor(s) who apparently use that offering plate as their own corporate piggy bank?

    You don’t think God is not going to do something?

    Think again.

    hahahahahaha

    Sòpy

    Exit music:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ws-_syszg84

    ;~)

    – –

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  18. Thersites:
    For the legal experts out there, will this lawsuit entail discovery for both sides?If so I am inclined to think MacDonald et al have much more hidden.

    Yes. But (and this is not legal advice) I’d look into using the state anti-SLAPP law to get the case dismissed. I’d also try to embarrass the heck out of James MacDonald for taking other Christians to court. That is really shameful. Again, this is just me.

    If I were James MacDonald and the Harvest Bible community, I’d be afraid of what might come out in discovery. We know they’re not squeaky clean. Just the “unbiblical discipline” and the $66 million (!!!) is indicative of issues. Plus, as a pastor, MacDonald is not merely going to have to prove he was libeled, but that it was done with malice aforethought and that, people, is REALLY hard to do.

    My suspicion is that MacDonald/Harvest just wants to shut up TED and Julie Roys and this is a way to scare them into settling, no matter how good their case is. I am just going to say this bluntly to MacDonald and Harvest: This is the sort of thing cults like Scientology do. Are you really sure you want to be compared to Scientology in litigiousness? I’m happy to do it, because it’s my OPINION, not a fact, and not something you can be libeled about.

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  19. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: My suspicion is that MacDonald/Harvest just wants to shut up TED and Julie Roys and this is a way to scare them into settling, no matter how good their case is.

    Make an Example of one and you Silence a Hundred.

    I am just going to say this bluntly to MacDonald and Harvest: This is the sort of thing cults like Scientology do.

    When are they going to do an “Operation Freakout” and frame TED and Julie Roys on criminal charges? Or Directive R2-45 LRH?

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  20. “Didn’t he say that they had all sorts of awesome teaching sessions with deep thinkers like Steven Furtick helping folks to see the truth?”
    ++++++++++++

    perfect… plastic men-schuysters with cardboard souls tend to find each other.

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  21. Ann,

    “JM is trying to keep her piece from ever coming out to the public. He included these former members and their wives as a cover to get to the real issue. He is freaking out over what Julie Roys dug up.”
    ++++++++++++++

    maybe it has something to do with James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll’s former enterprise “Churches helping churches”.

    large sums of money meant for charity passing through their hands.. and the 2 are so trustworthy, aren’t they. (plastic-men schuysters with cardboard souls, both of them)

    it was redolent with the stench of scam. sure disappeared very quietly and on the sly.

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  22. Anonymous:
    Yes, Dee, you will be believed when you openly pray for CJ Mahaney who is clear in his conscience he’s done no wrong, and has been convicted of no wrong, despite your disagreement over his “guilt”.Yes. Then everyone will know you mean it!!!

    Mahaney has not been convicted because of statute of limitations, not because of being innocent. The constant repeataed claim that Mahaney is innocent because he hasn’t been convicted is proof to me despite the facts is evidence to me that he is anything but innocent, because this is a dishonest claim.

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  23. OK, that last sentence is NOT an apology. A blanket blah-blah in Christianese is cowardly and inadequate. I refer church leaders to the PsychologyToday website to review “5 steps of an effective apology” (or similar wording) by Guy Winch Phd. An essential step is an *empathy statement* which is an attempt to let the injured party know that the slanderer (e.g.) understands the extent of the damage he has done. In this case, it might look like:

    “I, James McDonald, in my pride, used the power of my position and the vast and unlimited financial resources available to me to threaten and bully people who have publicly disagreed with me into silence. I acknowledge I have groomed elders and the flock to esteem me more than the truth and to act in ways that in no way reflect the responsibility of my position or the heart of Jesus Christ. I understand I used the fear of bankruptcy and the loss of reputation, relationships and livelihoods as weapons to silence those who disagreed with me. Further, I used public platforms such as radio, print, and this stage and microphone to repeatedly alienate and slander these people. I understand that ownership of my responsibility is mine and mine alone. The other church leaders will have to take their own steps of repentance to and restoration of the harm done to these innocent people. In all cases, to the best of my ability, I vow to make these parties I have injured, and have caused others to injure, whole, in reputation and financially. Financial recompense will come directly from my own private resources, not the church’s, and I agree to whatever terms the injured parties require, including making my repentance known as widely as my transgression (in print media, on radio, on television). I understand I have no defense and offer none. Sincerely, James MacDonald

    I think I’ll pass this on to Mr. MacDonald

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  24. elastigirl: plastic men-schuysters with cardboard souls tend to find each other

    “Such men do not really serve our Lord Jesus Christ at all but are utterly self-centred. Yet with their plausible and attractive arguments they deceive those who are too simple-hearted to see through them.” (Romans 16)

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  25. ishy: Mahaney has not been convicted because of statute of limitations

    There should be no statute of limitations for child abusers and those who protect and cover their sins.

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  26. My first thought regarding the use of the word “Carnal” is that it will not fly in court. The world sees that as a sexual term. The church sees that as a synonym for worldly. It’s an inside baseball or religious code word. In court it will have no meaning.

    My second thought is this man must not be a very good student of the Bible, or he would be following Paul’s admonition to let himself be wronged rather than take a brother to court.

    My third thought is on the ending statement in the post, which seems to be saying that they allegedly love the bloggers, but now that they have agreed to whatever they will close the matter by suing the pants off of them. What?

    This guy and his cronies made a huge miscalculation. The bad press will strip even more members from his flock, which btw, is not his in the first place! Who cares who founded the church? The church is the Bride of Christ, not the Child of MacDonald…

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  27. Janet Varin,

    Perfect model apology. I would cry tears of joy if that actually came out of his mouth.

    Ironic that JMac has preached on what repentance (and apologies) do and don’t look like numerous times. I guess he forgot to preach to himself. 🙁

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  28. Noevangelical: My second thought is this man must not be a very good student of the Bible, or he would be following Paul’s admonition to let himself be wronged rather than take a brother to court.

    “The first thing to say is that we shouldn’t be sharing our opinions on this subject when that question has a Biblical answer. And because it has a Biblical answer it’s the only answer that matters. If you and I were in a conversation and Jesus was sitting beside us, He wouldn’t be asking what I thought very often … when personal failure is exposed, we should be looking in the mirror … we should not be piling on and shaming others but we should be responding with grace and with genuine reflection upon the needs of our own heart …” (James MacDonald)

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/james-macdonald-reflects-30-years-ministry-metoo-millennials-future-faith-us-226944/

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  29. “their information was incomplete”

    Ha. As if the church would have just handed the books over when asked? How is it possible for information *not* to be incomplete if a church is not open??

    And suing the wives? Bad form.

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  30. Noevangelical,

    “My first thought regarding the use of the word “Carnal” is that it will not fly in court. The world sees that as a sexual term. The church sees that as a synonym for worldly. It’s an inside base”ball or religious code word. In court it will have no meaning.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    i don’t think it has any real practical meaning anywhere, other than for religious people who have either turned off their intelligence or never had much to begin with, who lack objectivity, are swayed by things that merely sound ominous.

    kind of like my pet dog — we can persuade him of anything with the right kind of sound in our voices and emotion on our faces.

    what a silly word to use. so manipulative, but in this case with a touch of pseudo estoteric.

    kind of like when Mr. MacDonald said, ““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.”

    ‘invites ichabod’…. good grief. (overlooking for the moment the ring of hypocrisy in his fundamental question)

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  31. Jess: If the accusations are true, then they are now facing the music.

    I’m kind of amazed at the way he, in his letter about ‘slander’, pretty much admits a bunch of it is true! Did a lawyer read that???

    “Then, a church we planted that some former leaders obligated us to beyond
    board approval, added $6 million more.”

    This sentence is garbled, but it sounds like some people just said ‘hey, the church will pay this 6mil’ without approval and they were like ‘sure why not’??? Ummm…

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  32. Unless I missed something, I could find no mention of MacDonald on Julie Roys web site, or in archives of her former radio program (Up for Debate), so what are they talking about? (She’s been off the air at Moody for nearly a year.)

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  33. Arlene,

    Good point. He must have some info to give the court for *proof.* MacDonald will come off looking like an elderly hot head attempting to look cool while protesting losing 2000 giving units.

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  34. Mary27: I am having a hard time with the following statement: “We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”

    They left a part out:

    “We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars [who we picked because we were pretty darn sure they would agree with us and give us some justification for the unbiblical and fairly stupid thing we had already decided to do], and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”

    Classic CYA. Read between the lines. Or maybe I need to hire some church leaders to teach me to be more loving. Which is newspeak for “Toe the line and don’t ask questions.”

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  35. “We have carefully reviewed the Scriptures related to the purpose of human government and the church. We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”–James MacDonald
    +++++++++++++++++++

    well, yeah — plastic-men schuysters with cardboard souls *who pretend with lofty language* band together, don’t they. of course you all agree with yourselves.

    please….

    tell me no one is actually falling for this.

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  36. elastigirl: “We have carefully reviewed the Scriptures related to the purpose of human government and the church. We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”–James MacDonald

    “influential pastors and biblical scholars” = The Gospel Coalition bunch. Many in Christendom are greatly concerned about the “unanimous” thinking of this cast of characters (Mohler, Moore, Piper, Platt, DeYoung, etc.). These boys stick together like glue; it’s a mutual admiration society … the Christian Industrial Complex depends on them propping each other up.

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  37. As a fellow TEDS-alumni and fellow-Canadian, I’ve watched JM’s embrace of American celebrity culture with misgivings. Time to ship this gasbag home. We have our own unique ways of making boys like this eat humble pie.

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  38. Anonymous: CJ Mahaney who is clear in his conscience

    Most people who would protect child sexual abusers, obstruct justice for RAPED children, and do not hate child sexual abuse are perfectly clear in their conscience.

    “has been convicted of no wrong” The man who repeatedly sexually abused me as a child has not been convicted. But, that does not mean he didn’t do it and wasn’t a sick pro-child-rape creep.

    “Then everyone will know you mean it!!!!”

    Who is everyone? Paige Patterson, Mark Driscoll, Al Mohler, Matt Chandler, Doug Wilson, and other men like them who have already proven they do not hate sexual abuse of women or children.

    As someone who was sexually abused as a child, I know Miss Dee hates child sexual abuse and is on raped children’s side. I also know CJ Mahaney and his followers are enemies of raped children.

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  39. Max,

    any objective thinkers amongst the christian industry leaders these days?

    well, monetize christianity and objectivity (& integrity) make a quick descent.

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  40. elastigirl: any objective thinkers amongst the christian industry leaders these days?

    hmmmm … let me see … hmmmm … give me another moment … “No”

    As Louis Armstrong said “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell ‘em.”

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  41. Ann,

    You’re quite right.
    Yer’ bloody well right.

    Makes me wonder if cooler heads in his inner circle are advising him even now to drop the suit, cut his losses, and salvage what he can before his Bible Chapel winds up (to use a metaphor) like Berlin did in April of 1945.

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  42. CARNAL: Pertaining to the body, its passions and its appetites; animal; fleshly; sensual; impure; sexual. See, i.e. People v Battilana, 52 Cal.App.2d 685, 126 P.2d 923, 928.
    (Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition)

    In American law, the word “carnal” was used in the context of criminal, rarely civil, laws. As an adjective, “carnal” described a criminal type of “abuse” or “knowledge,” as in “Carnal Abuse” or “Carnal Knowledge.” These criminal laws proscribed acts of “debauchery” by a male perpetrator upon the sex organs of a female victim. You can find lots of 19th and early-mid-20th Century criminal cases dealing with the crimes of “Carnal Abuse” or “Carnal Knowledge.” (Under those old criminal codes, male-on-male or female-on-female sex crimes would be listed under crimes of “sodomy.”)

    Today, most American criminal codes have been updated so that they do not distinguish between the genders of the perpetrators and victims, (except a few states that still have “sodomy” crimes on the books). The modern equivalents of old “carnal” crimes are now listed under “rape” or “sexual assault.”

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  43. Jerome:
    I hope that’s satire

    I say DEAD SERIOUS.
    Too extreme to be satire.

    In an Age of Extremes like today, as extreme as you can get for satire, there’s going to be a True Believer out there twice as extreme and DEAD SERIOUS.

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  44. elastigirl: “We have carefully reviewed the Scriptures related to the purpose of human government and the church. We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”–James MacDonald
    +++++++++++++++++++

    Note the Ultimate Hammer of The SCRIPTURES(TM).
    “You are not Rebelling against Men — YOU REBEL AGAINST GAWD!!!!!!!!!”

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  45. elastigirl: ‘invites ichabod’…. good grief. (overlooking for the moment the ring of hypocrisy in his fundamental question)

    “CHRISTIANESE BUZZWORD BINGO!”

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  46. elastigirl: i don’t think it has any real practical meaning anywhere, other than for religious people who have either turned off their intelligence or never had much to begin with, who lack objectivity, are swayed by things that merely sound ominous.

    kind of like my pet dog — we can persuade him of anything with the right kind of sound in our voices and emotion on our faces.

    They’ve actually surpassed The Draka, Demolition Man, and Kim Jong-Un in breeding a Totally Domesticated Human!

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  47. Those suggesting that Christians should never sue one another under any circumstances will find themselves in absurd territory in very short order, as there are serious criminal matters that the police do not deal with start to finish or arbitrate. Are the police not to be called on other Christians, ever? Are criminal matters not to be addressed thoroughly between Christians by involving authorities? Matthew 18 makes it clear that people cannot just do whatever they want and use the Bible and grace as cover. There are grounds for treating people as unbelievers, if they will not cease being combative or will not submit to an authority. I would also like to know where the Bible supports an ongoing effort such as The Elephant’s Debt blog being undertaken, and how that route of addressing issues squares with Biblical mandates around conflict and disagreement within Christ’s church. How is the Elephant’s Debt blog is not putting the church to shame, or putting grievances before those with no standing, or continuing in battling brother against brother in front of unbelievers rather than just being resigned to be wronged for the sake of the church’s witness?

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  48. MacDonald quote from the article:

    “We have carefully reviewed the Scriptures related to the purpose of human government and the church. We have contacted many influential pastors and biblical scholars, and received near unanimous confirmation of our thinking.”

    He really didn’t need to go to all that trouble. All he had to do was look in I Corinthians 6:1-8. But I guess this passage doesn’t apply to him, since he’s such a wonderful, untouchable leader and visionary and all that (sarcasm!) On the other hand, churches certainly love to beat the tar out of their members with this same section of scripture when the church gets sued by a member, don’t they? According to this passage, I guess there’s nobody at that church “wise enough to judge a dispute between believers.” Somehow, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

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  49. Max,
    “the Christian Industrial Complex”

    That’s just it isn’t it? Aren’t we witnessing the unraveling of the CIC? Bit by bit they are being revealed for who they really are, yet the sheeple are still to dumbstruck to realize it. What is it going to take to wake them up and for them to realize that they have been had? How many more sexual / financial / criminal scandals is it going to take until people open their eyes?

    And who are these men? They are nobody. Just huckster guys who are good at spinning a con. And the people are just a never ending supply of easy marks.

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  50. Noevangelical: And who are these men?

    A good way to test who they really are … pick one of the Christian Industrial Complex Icons … ask them if all they had was Jesus, would they still serve Him … no mega-buck salary, no mega-church followers, no mansion to live in, no book sales, no huge speaker fees, no adulations, no standing ovations … would they still represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? If they said “Yes”, keep track of them and see if they are still in the ministry after a year.

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  51. Em_War_El,

    You’re confusing criminal acts with civil lawsuits. Also, no one has broken the law here, despite what JMac and HBC are alleging.

    The TED authors believe that what they have done is the equivalent of Matthew 18:17–telling it to the whole church. You can go to their site and find their explanation of their decision/approach.

    As I said, were members for 12 years until last fall. We knew about TED when it debuted. At first, we were skeptics. But it soon became clear that their claims were true—much more than the person who doesn’t go to the church would realize. We held out hope for true repentance and change, which proved futile.

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  52. Logan Frisco,

    Saw that. Rumor is that the attorney was a referral from JMac’s newish buddy—a former shock jock on Chicago radio DJ (and new Christian convert, I believe) Mancow Mueller.

    Also possible that the lawyer attends the church.

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  53. JA,

    That will be for the court to decide, I guess. My point was that there is more than one passage to consider in deciding if Christians should ever petition courts for a remedy in ongoing situations where parties not only will not reconcile under church leadership, but continue with no intention of ever actually resolving anything. Ugly. I would not want to find myself dedicated to sowing division in a church from the outside without being very clear about what I expected to happen or why I was doing it. I understand that the bloggers have stated their reasons. I just happen to think they are full of crap. It’s difficult to say that about such selfless servant angels who are so pure in their pursuit of truth, but… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  54. Em_War_El: How is the Elephant’s Debt blog is not putting the church to shame

    Curious, what is shameful, those who expose what is shameful or those who commit what is shameful?

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  55. You really had me there with “deep thinkers like Steven Furtick”. That felt hysterical!
    Anybody who has seen a single “sermon” by Furtick, that is, has watched his stage performance, or read a single article from his website knows that he’s not a deep thinker, and that the things he proclaims only qulify as “thinking” only on the most superficial meaning of the term.
    But he may be an Einstein in the art of drawing in the suckers, a genius in the art of getting them to sit in his “church”, a world-class sheep-shearer in terms of fleecing them.
    From all the videos that James Macdonald has posted or has had posted of himself, I have always taken home the impression of a con artist, someone not to be trusted.
    I know, impressions can be wrong, but his subsequent statements and actions have done nothing but confirm those impressions.
    Some parts of christianity, including but not limitrf to American xtianity hasve become much too influential and prosperous, therby attracting hucksters and con-men left and right.

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  56. GMFS

    Madainn mhath air a h-uile duine!

    I think “Good morning from Scotland” would be:

    Madainn mhath o h-Alba

    That is, MMOhA.

    But there’s more than one word for “from”, and more than one way of bridging gaps left by consecutive vowel sounds. I don’t want to alter an official TWW acronym for something that’s not correct.

    AWWBA, I’ve never actually studied Gaelic – as in, absolutely never, not even briefly. I love it precisely because of its mystery!

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  57. From the OP, summarzing McDonald:

    “He’s upset that *anyone who breathes* can have a microphone. After discussing how wonderful his blog was, he claims that many bloggers blog after midnight and hurt ministries and ministers.”

    Some of us are up late because we have insomnia.

    It must so nice to be one of those people who fall asleep the moment their head hits the pillow, or, who sleeps the whole night through just fine, they don’t wake up at 2 a.m.

    A quote from that page:

    “No more sitting by doing nothing while digital attackers ravage the body of Christ.”

    While “digital attackers ravage the body of Christ”-?

    What a drama queen.

    Also from that page by McDonald:

    “As months turned into years, the bloggers persisted, refusing all appeals and showing they were under no New Testament authority.”

    Re: “they were under no New Testament authority”

    That must really burn his chaps. LOL.

    I guess if you are “under New Testament authority,” that is really code speak for “you can or should never speak up if you disagree with the pastor or church staff but allow us to abuse you and you stay silent.”

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  58. Gus: Anybody who has seen a single “sermon” by Furtick, that is, has watched his stage performance, or read a single article from his website knows that he’s not a deep thinker…

    Hmm… that may depend on what you mean by “deep thinker”. I’ve never listened to Mr Futrick’s stuff, but I’ve listened to stuff by other rich preachers. As you observed, it can take a great deal of a particular kind of cleverness to get the level of control over people’s affections that these men have.

    The late and much-loved Les Dawson was famed for his off-key piano-playing:

    http://www.youtube.com/LesDawson

    In fact, he was a very good pianist, and it takes some skill to play exactly the right wrong notes the way he did.

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  59. Daisy: Some of us are up late because we have insomnia.

    I sympathise. On this occasion, I more or less slept through the night, after getting up at 12:30-ish to address night-time hypoglycaemia. But people who don’t have insomnia may not realise how debilitating it can be.

    I’m up “early” because I live only slightly west of 0º longitude, and it’s a lovely morning here. GMFS an’ a’ tha’.

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  60. Daisy: Also from that page by McDonald:

    “As months turned into years, the bloggers persisted, refusing all appeals and showing they were under no New Testament authority.”

    Exactly what “New Testament authority” is a self-made man like Mr McDonald under? To the degree that the phrase “New Testament authority” actually means anything at all – let’s say, a form of ecclesiastical accountability conforming to what is described in the New Testament – it does not exist today. There is no Jerusalem council of apostles and elders with even the remotest claim to authority over all professing believers.

    Anybody can set up a “church”, market their own brand of “Gospel” along with B2B services to other churches, and choose which other factions of “church” they’ll agree and align themselves with. To be fair, in the absence of any universal church authority, people start church congregations with a very wide range of motives, and by no means all of them want to be rich or famous. In my experience, most of these start-ups “fail”, in the sense that they never grow beyond a few people. Though again, not all of them were intended to become large. But those that do become rich and successful are over-frequently assumed to have done so by the blessing of God.

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  61. I have NEVER read anything at TED that had a vindictive tone. Based on the way countless people have been treated over the years, I’m surprised they have kept their composure so well. This will end very badly for MacDonald.

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  62. anon in the EFCA,

    Yes. And it is of paramount importance that World Magazine publishes the Julie Roys article. The HBC congregation has a right to know the truth about their pastor, and others must be warned.

    We attended HBC for years and immediately left when TED came out. We lost several friends because we kept challenging them about their decision to stay at HBC. They all claim some variation of the following:
    “God is still using James despite his flaws.”
    “James and the elders are fixing past errors and becoming transparent.”
    “James is a very giftted pastor. Who are you to say what salary and house are acceptable for him?”
    “Where else would we go? Our social lives are hre and other churches don’t have this level of programming.”

    Sadly, I know a woman who left the dysfunctional HBC to attend Willow Creek. She feels shr cannot trust any church now, and to be honest I do not feel much differently.

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  63. Nick Bulbeck: AWWBA, I’ve never actually studied Gaelic – as in, absolutely never, not even briefly. I love it precisely because of its mystery!

    I have the same approach towards cricket. I once thought I should try to learn something about it, but then I thought no, I want to keep it a mystery – that is its charm to me! To this day I enjoy hearing cricket reports on BBC radio and having absolutely no idea what they’re talking about!

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  64. Max,

    Of course they wouldn’t. They couldn’t just be a normal person. Their “need” is psychological. People like JMac are compelled by forces between their ears to get out front, take the stage, and get their ego tank filled. This happens in very small churches as well as the very large church. They are not good enough actors to get someone in the real world to pay their way, so they slip into the pretend world of the evangelical church.

    And make no mistake, this kind of evangelicalism is a pretend world bringing people into bondage via pretend “laws” & manufactured guilt, and then freeing them with their pretend gospel. The whole system is designed to manipulate in order to get a predetermined response which always involves draining the financial resources of their victims as much as possible.

    Someone called them tithing units. That is exactly correct. The leaders of the churches who follow the blueprint do not care one whit about the people they are processing through their system. They are just culling fish, keeping the worthy (a.k.a. productive tithing units) and discarding the rest. In the front door and out the back.

    Sad thing is, the culls just flop over to another mechanized church to be processed all over again. All the while the real Jesus and the real church remains hidden to them. These guys pulling he levers know exactly what they are doing. It’s all about the money.

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  65. Em_War_El…I would also like to know where the Bible supports an ongoing effort such as The Elephant’s Debt blog being undertaken, and how that route of addressing issues squares with Biblical mandates around conflict and disagreement within Christ’s church.

    The authors of TED themselves address this question here. That is to say, they address several questions of which yours are a reasonably representative variation, and they regard them as real and honest questions (and incidentally, so do I).

    I have two observations of my own in response.

    Firstly, concerning biblical principles of accountability in the church. As I will never cease to say, no part of the new testament was written to a church splintered into indefinitely many fragments, at best completely independent of one another, and at worst, at each other’s throats. The way in which “The Church” is organised today is poles apart from the way it was organised in the first century. So, anyone who professes even an interest in Jesus of Nazareth is obliged to interact with “church” as best he or she can; but it cannot be done “biblically” because the “biblical” church vanished many (arguably, 19) centuries ago.

    Secondly, concerning the purpose of blogs. There’s a vast, many-dimensional sphere of blogs just as there’s a huge variety of para-church groups and congregations. There are blogs I wouldn’t waste a single second on. But there are blogs that are uniquely placed to address – to borrow the same metaphor – ANOTHER elephant in the room. That is, when local para-church congregations become authoritarian, a great many “little” people are attacked and injured for no “sin” other than displeasing the Diotrephes in charge . They lose their friends, and they lose a great part of the ministries and callings that they too have given their lives to even though they could not earn a living from them. A blog such as TED – not to mention TWW – serves a vital purpose, which is to say to those people: You are not forgotten, and you are not alone.

    You either understand why that is important, or you don’t. If you, Em_War_El, understand this at first hand, then I am honoured to say, as a Wartburger, that you are not forgotten and you are not alone. If you don’t, I can only hope you never do.

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  66. Julie: “Where else would we go? Our social lives are here …”

    Herein lies a major issue for folks hanging on too long in dysfunctional churches with wayward leaders and/or aberrant theology. While we certainly should experience Christian fellowship and friendships in any church we attend, the “spiritual” should always supersede the “social.” One of the most difficult things my family experienced in our Christian journey was to walk away from a church family after the church went south under new leadership … but we collectively felt it necessary to preserve our spiritual health. When faced with this decision, we asked ourselves “What is more important? Our ‘soul ties’ to church members or our personal walk with Jesus?” When we got to that fork in the road, we took it and haven’t looked back. Sure, we agonized about distancing ourselves from church family, but the freedom we experienced beyond that grief has been evidence to us that we made the right decision. Remaining in a place that is not in the will of God is bondage.

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  67. Em_War_El: I would also like to know where the Bible supports an ongoing effort such as The Elephant’s Debt blog being undertaken

    this whole comment is a trip, but now I’m thinking of how people seem to think church should be like fight club or something.

    I’m also amused when people ask where the biblical support is for blogs…Letters were pretty much the equivalent technology at the time and we sure have read a lot of those, with complaints and grievances with both individuals and churches expressed.

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  68. Thersites: Curious, what is shameful, those who expose what is shameful or those who commit what is shameful?

    This thinking seems to come up a lot in other abuse cases. Exposing a problem does not create the problem. Truth is truth. Period.

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  69. Nick Bulbeck: Firstly, concerning biblical principles of accountability in the church.

    What I think is interesting is to see people complain that The Elephant Debt people are not acting *biblically* but then to switch to attacking them *legally* which is a completely different thing. They seem to mush it all together in statements.

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  70. good worm: I don’t think Piper would agree with MacDonald about suing non-believers

    Certainly appears to be the case in the link you provided. Finally, something I can agree with Piper on!

    As I think more about it, I’ve seen The Gospel Coalition bunch distancing themselves from MacDonald in recent years. Once counted as a prominent member of their tribe, it appears that JM’s liabilities are now outweighing his assets to the New Calvinist movement.

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  71. Lea,

    Agreed! The adjective “biblical” is a simple sheep of height. Broadly speaking, the more a person states that they want to be “biblical’, the more likely it is that in truth their bibles are mere sock-puppets. I’m especially sceptical when I here the word “biblical” brandished by professional clergymen who market their services in book form or on the motivational speaking circuit.

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  72. Bridget: Him and hundreds of other men screeching at pew sitters on Sunday morning!

    It’s just sad for all the clergymen who do NOT screech at pewsitters, on Sunday or any other morning, but serve them tirelessly and – sometimes – thanklessly, with neither fame nor fortune to fall back on should god’s approval fail them.

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  73. “What is more important? Our ‘soul ties’ to church members or our personal walk with Jesus?” When we got to that fork in the road, we took it and haven’t looked back.”

    Interesting, but I asked my spouse just last night on the way home from our church if, now that we have been out of our former evangelical church for over one year, she ever looked back and thought about how unbiblical and whacked out it really was. She answered with and immediate Yes!

    Those social ties may seem difficult, but once you are on the other side those same social ties are often revealed for just how shallow and tenuous they really were. Fact is, I have heard from no one at our former church, and the pastor and I were such good friends back then that his wife was actually jealous of me. So, go figure that one.

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  74. Julie,

    ““James is a very giftted pastor. Who are you to say what salary and house are acceptable for him?”
    ++++++++++++++

    alright, i’ve just decided “gifted” is the new “called” = hyper-spiritualized words of manipulation christians use to get their way and what they want. and make themselves feel better about their choices (or lack of choices).
    ——————–

    “Where else would we go? Our social lives are hre and other churches don’t have this level of programming.”

    ….spoken with all the conviction of lukewarm water. Where are the moral and ethical standards, Mr. and Mrs. Christian? Yielding to your own needs and wants?

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  75. Gus: You really had me there with “deep thinkers like Steven Furtick”. That felt hysterical!

    Is the definition of “deep thinker” merely someone who agrees with them?

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  76. Gus: You really had me there with “deep thinkers like Steven Furtick”. That felt hysterical!

    “WE ARE UNITED BEHIND THE VISIONARY!”
    — Sunday School Coloring Book at Furtick’s mega

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  77. Max: One of the most difficult things my family experienced in our Christian journey was to walk away from a church family after the church went south under new leadership

    Same here, but I will note that four years later there are very few left of our social circle that still attend the church we left.

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  78. Lea: What I think is interesting is to see people complain that The Elephant Debt people are not acting *biblically* but then to switch to attacking them *legally* which is a completely different thing. They seem to mush it all together in statements.

    “The winner is never asked whether he has won fairly, ONLY THAT HE HAS WON!”
    — Adolf Hitler, cult leader

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  79. Mark:
    A reason a church will sue a former member is loss of that tithe money?And lossof more money through bad press?

    “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS!
    ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS!
    ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS!
    …”

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  80. Nick Bulbeck: I’ve never listened to Mr Futrick’s stuff, but I’ve listened to stuff by other rich preachers. As you observed, it can take a great deal of a particular kind of cleverness to get the level of control over people’s affections that these men have.

    So have I (listened to oratory by other rich preachers).
    Greg Laurie (in my locale) comes to mind.

    In a perverse sort of way, I’ve got to give him due credit for his talent to sway a mob (it’s how he got rich).

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  81. Noevangelical: I have heard from no one at our former church, and the pastor and I were such good friends

    You experienced a form of shunning, an unloving behavior meant to hurt and shame you for leaving. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” I suppose that sometimes folks just don’t know how to treat those who opt to leave the church fellowship, but love should always prevail. A “How y’all doing?” phone call from another Christian never hurts anything.

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  82. Noevangelical,

    Noevangelical,

    Over at The Phoenix Preacher (Michael Newnham’s site) you can read about folks who have exited the Calvary Chapel cult. Some of the accounts are both poignant and heartbreaking, as some of its former adherents are now in a near state of penury after giving their all to the brand.
    Here’s the link:
    https://phoenixpreacher.com/the-calvary-chapel-chronicles-the-moses-model/#comments

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  83. Logan Frisco,

    Bridget,

    I agree with you, it doesn’t make sense, but that is the attorney who’s name and address are on the filing with Cook County. How could MacDonald hire a DUI defense attorney for a case like this? If you look at his Yelp reviews, he has a great review from Mancow as well as a few people he helped beat their DUI’s. The testimonials on his own website are also quite telling http://www.winwithyoung.com/reviews-of-attorney-michael-j-young/
    I also got a chuckle from the picture that Google brings up showing his office – it is sandwiched between a dog groomer and Sophia’s African Braids.

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  84. Em_War_El: My point was that there is more than one passage to consider in deciding if Christians should ever petition courts for a remedy

    I am curious to know what passage you would use to justify a pastor (i.e. loving shepherd) and his church elders suing (i.e. demanding enormous amounts of money from) former church members (hurt sheep that fled their fold). The apostle Paul did publicly call out false teachers who were in doctrinal error so that others would be protected from that error. But how does that even remotely resemble threatening financial ruin to people who upset you???

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  85. Janet Varin,

    Janet, you appear to be a perfect person to write an apology for my former pastor who told women from my former church last Friday that I am “a psychotic beast,” “mentally ill,” and will rot in hell for making a false claim of sexual assault against my husband.” He states to them that he knows me better than I know myself. Next to your apology we will play the audio of former husband admitting the sexual assault, verbal, physical and emotional abuse. It should be interesting since the pastor is a big shot professor in the Denver area and has already had his 15 min of fame in WORLD mag. One tiny snippet of his smear campaign begun in March of 2016. BFF forever with the ex who is the mayor of tiny town. Like a bad movie with no ending.

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  86. Interesting in light of my morning conversation with a defamation attorney today, Dee. He said I have a very strong suit but it would probably cost as much to get it to court as I would recover in damages. Also, they may fold immediately on the advise of their liability counsel but maybe not. He asked if I wanted to contribute my limited resources to recovering my good reputation. I just want them to stop!!! The church and pastor will see themselves as victims and never stop speaking ill of the woman who would not back down when she was told to and had the audacity to divorce a “good man” after 30 years of abuse. Said “good man” is in abuser heaven to watch me destroyed in my own home community and church. So very tired of it all and feeling powerless.

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  87. Ann: This is not going to go well for JM! In today’s world bloggers are not civil lawbreakers. I think JM is not understanding that 90% of society today advocates for free speech and blogging, tweeting, fb websites are the new platform for the little man to speak loudly and freely. I think Julie Roys has some real damaging stuff in her piece for the world review or whatever it’s called. I think JM is looking at Bill Hybels fall and is realizing the best fight is to try to keep the article from coming out at all.

    My guess is that he is looking for more ammunition with which to persuade his flock to distrust and avoid informative blogger sites. Those who desperately seek to trust their leaders are easily persuaded that they are under persecution for their godly ministry. A lawsuit, even if unsuccessful, will persuade many that he is sincere and thus they have no need to read these God-hating blogs which seek only to defame the name and ministry of true shepherds. It is purely tactical, in my opinion.

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  88. Noevangelical: Fact is, I have heard from no one at our former church, and the pastor and I were such good friends back then that his wife was actually jealous of me. So, go figure that one.

    Simple.
    doubleplusunperson.
    You outlived your usefulness, so as of now you never existed.

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  89. Muff Potter: In a perverse sort of way, I’ve got to give him due credit for his talent to sway a mob (it’s how he got rich).

    Adolf Hitler also had the talent to sway a mob.
    A big enough mob to control a country.

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  90. dee,

    Scott Bryant and Ryan Mahoney are going to new legal financial support – so send a check or advertise their gofundme page. Harvest Bible Chapel has deep financial pockets and will do all they can to make life miserable to Scott, Ryan, and their wives. By the way why are their wives part of the lawsuit.

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  91. Jerome:
    Wow:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/YvonneTrimble/status/1055194647214129152

    Yvonne Trimble @YvonneTrimble
    Replying to @JanetMefferd and @_PPatterson_
    “God bless you, Janet, and our holy father in Christ, Dr. Patterson; had the privilege of shaking his hand and hearing his anointed words on missions at Whitesburg Baptist Feb ’18, was challenged and encouraged. He is an example to us of humility and honor.”

    I just now listened to this “sermon” because I had never heard a sermon from him. It was a terrible sermon that showed how controlling and abusive he is. He actually bragged about a time when he challenged someone to a duel. “Wow” is a good word both for the sermon and the associated tweet.

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  92. Dee & All,

    HBC and James MacDonald’s attorney is most likely a referral (a strange one) from his friend Mancow Mueller.

    The same lawyer recently represented Mr. Mueullr: https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-mancow-lawsuit-emotional-distress-radio-boss-20171114-story.html

    Mr. Mueller is a Chicago radio personality and a friend of Mac and family for the past couple of years. See pic here: https://www.facebook.com/cheesenutspizzeria/photos/a.1132856336836042/1276531792468495/?type=3

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  93. In JM’s article in he paragraph entitled: Enough is Enough — Call the Police

    He says:

    Churches have historically focused upon human government as a threat or intrusion. When sinful behavior becomes harmful, the Elders’ priority must move from personally reconciling to protecting the flock God has given them to oversee. When harmful behavior becomes illegal, the board must partner with the authorities God has established (Romans 13:1). “We prayed so long for God to protect but somehow didn’t see He already had.”

    (I put the last sentence only in quotes because my Mac/Safari is not letting me put it in italics like JM did and putting it all in quotes would take away from my point.)

    In my opinion, here his sheepskin costume becomes transparent exposing the arrogant sociopath narcissistic wolf I believe he is. It’s a glaringly obvious attempt to manipulate/deceive his followers.

    1. The last sentence he made up, had nothing to do with the paragraph topically at all, and in my opinion was blasphemous in that he wants the readers to be duped into believing the nonsense sentence is Scripture because he put it in italics right after his reference to Romans 13:1. My immediate thought was I don’t think that’s anywhere in the Bible. Putting it in Google in Quotes, indicates, I’m right. Then I realized he wanted me to think it was Scripture by putting it next to Romans 13:1 in the previous sentence and then italicizing it. It seems like he might have put it in there just for the sport of it, thinking himself clever.

    2. But even more glaring is that his whole premise is non-Scriptural bologna meant to deceive/manipulate. For the sake of argument, let’s say the defendants did commit defamation (which is ludicrious). Defamation is neither illegal nor criminal. It’s a civil matter. The law allows people to sue for it, but again it’s not illegal. Ergo, he/his church are not only not Biblically compelled to “partner with authorities God established,” there’s no God established authorities looking for their help to go after people who have not done anything illegal.

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  94. And in regard to their delayed confession, more bologna. I remember the timing of the confession very well. It was my opinion at the time and still is that it was a very calculated shrewd preemptive self preservation move on JM’s part as the timing coincided with his former BFF Driscoll’s empire collapsing from his bullying his peeps.

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  95. TS00,

    “A lawsuit, even if unsuccessful, will persuade many that he is sincere and thus they have no need to read these God-hating blogs which seek only to defame the name and ministry of true shepherds. It is purely tactical, in my opinion.”
    ++++++++++++++

    and pure scum. purely disgusting, revolting,… where is the strong enough word??

    James MacDonald is using God, using Jesus — to cover his @$$.

    Using, in the very same way a person uses another human being for his or her own selfish ends, without any concern for the other that human being.

    He’s assuming a noble posture (head held high, a far away look in the eye off at an angle, pretending that he can see truth off in the distance that others simply cannot see).

    Jesus has been trashed by all the God-forsaking bloggers. It’s a spiritual crisis like never before, and no one has had the courage to do anything about it. But James is taking a stand.

    James is putting God first, and doing what should have been done long ago — the lawsuit is the true gospel-response that glorifies God in this Jesus-hating culture.

    He, himself, is the only one courageous enough to do the right thing for Jesus’ fame. The church is derelict and gutless but James is finally setting things right.

    (James, we see right through you, to your soul of cardboard)

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  96. Deborah,

    stripping off spiritualized veneers, shysters who invoke God to do their shystering should be exposed.

    (but first, is it shyster? schyster? scheister? schuyster?…)

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  97. David,

    “The Elephants Debt has started a gofundme page for legal expenses”
    ++++++++++++++

    lawyers do pro bono work. would a group of lawyers who are irked by a big guy’s lawsuit that exploits the concept of God to harm the little guy rally together?

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  98. Sister,

    The point you make under your 1) is very typical of James MacDonald. Twisting words, hoping the reader doesn’t catch what he’s doings etc.

    Excellent point about there being no crime or lawbreaking with this kind of suit. He can’t call the police and have the authors arrested and the state won’t be bringing charges.

    No one is “ravaging the body of Christ,” as he puts it. TED has always been about using documentation and witness testimony to draw attention to the sin of one man, toward making the case that he is not biblically qualified to Elder or pastor. It’s not about attacking HBC or the church at-large.

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  99. Yes that’s one thing that confused me. How could James MacDonald say “Enough is Enough — Call the Police”??? This is not a criminal case!!!

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  100. David:
    Yes that’s one thing that confused me. How could James MacDonald say “Enough is Enough — Call the Police”??? This is not a criminal case!!!

    It is if the ManaGAWD has enough Friends in High Places among the cops and court system. There’s a reason a lot of megas try to recruit cops and government officials to their church. Cops moonlighting as Pastor’s Enforcers, officials willing to bury a case for their Pastor, loyalty to Pastor (“WE ARE UNITED BEHIND THE VISIONARY!”)…

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  101. So, how many years has this stuff been going on with James MacDonald? Have never followed him, but was stunned when I checked out the TED site to discover that this goes back to 2012. What is the matter with people that they would endure this for years? Do they so desire to be a part of something ‘big’ that they will put up with anything?

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  102. TS00,

    We were at HBC from 2006-2017. We followed TED from its debut. We were skeptics at first but soon saw based on our experience that the claims were true. I think it’s important to note that, despite what the lawsuit says, the 2500+ people whom HBC says left did not simply read TED and leave because of what it said. Most people were critical thinkers and listeners and could both hear deception in what JMac said every week AND faced other leaders who did nothing but protect JMac and the brand.

    Speaking for ourselves, we stayed because we held out hope. We hoped that there would be change and repentance & that the multi-site model would break up, with the satellite campus (one of which we attended) would “plant” and be free from the drama. By the time the last cycle of crazy started in May 2017, we’d had enough. We again tried get answers from leaders but were (again) stonewalled, lied to, etc. We for sure stayed too long, but I will say that we were “eyes wide open” from TED onward.

    Truthfully, there are many sheep who don’t know about TED or who do and choose to turn a blind eye. For some, it’s hard to leave the comfortable seats, stellar workshop, and well-run programming. It’s American consumerism.

    The part that was so hard for us to fathom is that there were 30+ Elders who let JMac run rampant. Those who wouldn’t resigned, let their terms expire, or were excommunicated. Even now, who in the WORLD is letting that “Enough is Enough” article get posted? Not men who are discerning, wise, or Biblically qualified to retain their positions.

    JMac’s son, Luke, is poised to take over, but there’s no chance that the church will survive. As the text of the lawsuit suggests, JMac believes HBC is his family business and tithing sheep his property.

    I keep asking, “How long, Lord?”–and I’m afraid that it will take something very, very tragic to bring this man to his knees. 🙁

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  103. Jess,

    elastigirl: (but first, is it shyster? schyster? scheister? schuyster?…)

    As I have German as my native language, I would tend towards

    scheister

    for reasons I won’t go into here 😉

    IIRC, the accepted spelling would be “shyster”, but, if in doubt, why not evade the problem of uncertain spelling altogether and go for “huckster” instead? Both will serve very well.

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  104. The Harvest Aurora Youth Pastor who was under investigation by DCFS beginning in January 2018 turned himself in 1 day after James filed the lawsuit against TED & Julie Roys. I don’t believe this timing is coincidence. Time will tell.

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  105. JA: it’s hard to leave the comfortable seats, stellar workshop, and well-run programming. It’s American consumerism

    Generations X, Y and Z are the primary market segment of the Christian Industrial Complex. Give them what they want, and they will come.

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  106. Gus,

    “IIRC, the accepted spelling would be “shyster”, but, if in doubt, why not evade the problem of uncertain spelling altogether and go for “huckster” instead? Both will serve very well.”
    +++++++++++++

    well, i really like “schmuck”. “Scheister/shyster” and “schmuck” kind of go together…

    all in all, very satisfying words to say about deserving people.

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  107. JA,

    but is it ‘worship’? really?

    what is worship? (such an extreme word)

    3 iterations of intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus with a really good sound system, a good drummer, adequate musicians, and singers with good stage presence…. that’s “worship”?

    which was rehearsed at “worship practice” one night a week at 7:00pm?

    as i see it, that’s a word that’s gotten all out of crazy ubiquitious proportion in christian culture.

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  108. elastigirl: but is it ‘worship’? really? … a word that’s gotten all out of crazy ubiquitous proportion in christian culture

    Agreed. I was young and now am old. A 70-year veteran of doing church in America, I’ve never had a problem with form as long as there is some substance to it. IMO, much of what we call “praise and worship” in today’s church is really entertainment to entice Generations X, Y and Z to bring their bodies and their pocketbooks. The Christian Industrial Complex has substituted talent for gifting and recruits skilled performers rather than worshipers to man the stage. Give them the best audio-visual equipment you can buy and turn them loose! Platforms have been built over prayer altars to allow more room for pride to strut around. Very little worship in Spirit and Truth can be found in such places.

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  109. Muff Potter: Max: The music is great!

    That’s debatable.

    Whiny guitars, loud drums, ‘worship’ team in skinny pants, 7-11 songs, laser lights … Oh come on Muff! You’re gettin’ old on me?!!

    I think back on my 70 years in church and remember vividly the most worshipful, Spirit-filled music I ever heard. It was a Sunday evening when church members were asked to bring “special” music to present. After a few songs from individuals and members, an 80-year old man crippled from a stroke made his way slowly to the microphone. Paralyzed on his right side, not saying a word, he fumbled for an harmonica in his pocket, raised it to his lips with his left hand, closed his eyes, and blessed us all with “Amazing Grace.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the place … he worshiped.

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  110. elastigirl,

    Can’t speak for others, but yes, I can say that at HBC, we engaged in full-throated, whole-hearted worship that wasn’t focused on the performers.

    The Good Friday service is more of a performance art service, by design, but no less powerful an experience. Well-designed perfomance art delivered by professional artists (Heather Headley in the case of GF at HBC) can be not only moving but Drive us to our own knees.

    But, no, I don’t think high-quality worship should be the reason for staying at a church run by a demagogue.

    Also, any musician knows that some practice is required in preparation for playing to lead an audience. Betty the organist at my church growing up practiced before Sunday.

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  111. JA,

    “any musician knows that some practice is required in preparation for playing to lead an audience. Betty the organist at my church growing up practiced before Sunday.”
    ++++++++++++

    certainly. i’ve seen it called “worship practice”… i think that’s ridiculous.

    i prefer to call it what it is — the pursuit of musical excellence, as it should be.

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  112. JA,

    “we engaged in full-throated, whole-hearted worship that wasn’t focused on the performers.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    i know what you mean. i’ve experienced amazing times of… well, i really value clear meaning through accurate words, so i’ll say ‘corporate energy all together, focussed on God alone.’

    not unlike being at a football game with many others and fully supporting the team with all your heart and soul, and celebrating the great moments together. it somehow bonds you together with the group and the team. it’s a great, positive, uplifting experience for the group and the team.

    i just trip over the word “worship”. the word is the picture of brainwashed beings with spirals in their eyes bowing down to something with mystically religious fervor.

    and applying that so serious word to much of what i observe in the church at large.

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  113. Gus,

    “IIRC, the accepted spelling would be “shyster”, but, if in doubt, why not evade the problem of uncertain spelling altogether and go for “huckster” instead? Both will serve very well”
    +++++++++++++

    (well, my ‘$chmuck’ comment isn’t showing up, but i love the word so much i’ll try again)

    you see, i really like the word $chmuck, and $chmuck and scheister kind of go together.

    all in all, very satisfying words to say towards deserving people.

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  114. Max,

    “Paralyzed on his right side, not saying a word, he fumbled for an harmonica in his pocket, raised it to his lips with his left hand, closed his eyes, and blessed us all with “Amazing Grace.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the place … he worshiped.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    it is true. being in touch with the content of the music, letting your ego & sense of self step aside so the music can speak for itself makes all the difference. whether the music is about God or anything else. whether solo harmonica, a duet, many-pieced band, or symphony.

    some amazing vocalists can be utterly boring to listen to — they are focussed on the mechanics of what they are doing and the attention they are getting, rather than the meaning of the music through which they are the vehicle.

    prepare, prepare again, then prepare some more — then let the music play you.

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  115. elastigirl,

    I think we would agree that worship is a matter of the individual person’s heart, above all else. It’s not relegated to a specific time in a church service, accompanied by music.

    But the word is also applied to an activity in a church service that congregants engage in corporately. Whether that’s applied too liberally, who knows. I won’t say though, for example, that people who go to a Hillsong United concert aren’t worshipping because of the venue, style of music, or skill level of the worship leaders.

    As to the example of thousands joined in mindless, mystical entrancement, we could paint a similar picture if people joined in mindless, lifeless choruses from hymals. My point isn’t to bash different traditions or approaches—it’s to say that, whatever the method to corporate worship via songs and music, there are potential pitfalls in every approach.

    Only God sees and knows individual heart, and He’s the object of the worship.

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  116. elastigirl,

    It’s rehearsing/practicing what will be the leading of a time for worship. And I believe that, in that practice, the musicians can also themselves be worshipping. Just like I can when I’m singing along to a song in my car.

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  117. elastigirl,

    elastigirl,

    It’s rehearsing/practicing what will be the leading of a time for worship. And I believe that, in that practice, the musicians can also themselves be worshipping. Just like I can when I’m singing along to a song in my car.

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  118. JA,

    yes, in theory & practice that is what’s happening. i just can’t past the loaded word.

    i’ve o.d.ed (overdosed) on church culture from a lifetime in in it (the language, the intonation, the face, the program….everything), & having ended up ‘backstage’, so to speak, where i observed sick things.

    like when i worked in the snack bar in high school (many many moons ago) and can no longer be around the smell or the sight of french fries.

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  119. What I find interesting is that MacDonald was on the Mars Hill Board of Advisors and Accountability back in 2014 when it issued a statement standing by the executive elders Driscoll and Turner and Bruskas in the wake of the Result Source news, and the statement said that it was not illegal or unethical to use Result Source to rig the New York Times bestseller list but it was unwise. Sutton Turner has since the MH dissolution explained that he made a case that using such an arrangement seemed ill-advised. We don’t as yet have any record of MacDonald having an opinion or a conviction on the subject of Result Source, do we?

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  120. JA: He’s the object of the worship

    Amen. “True worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). After 70 years of church experience, I can count on one hand when I sensed that true worship was actually happening in a gathering of Christians.

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  121. ION: Doctor Who

    So, just watched the giant spiders episode, and I’ve come to a decision on the new series. The writing is terrible, but I like the characters.

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  122. dee,

    Hey, Dee. You already have reams of info on my story from CO.;) While at the Courage Conference, the pastor met with women from my former church and told them that I am a “psychotic beast” and “mentally ill.” He also said I will “rot in hell for bringing false allegations of sexual assault.” Never mind his BFF is recorded admitting to the rape…Karen/Sandy

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  123. Deborah,
    *I was at the Courage Conference, not the pastor. The pastor would rather die than participate in such a leftist, feminist, godless conference where biblical gender roles are not supported. He doesn’t need to know anything about something to throw a jillion labels at someone or something.

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  124. elastigirl: prepare, prepare again, then prepare some more — then let the music play you.

    The best worship song I’ve ever heard was Joan Baez’s rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot at Woodstock (August 1969).
    I love how she closes her song with AMEN into the mic., bold, heartfelt and affirmative, it was the real McCoy.

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  125. My family has always been very musical. I can appreciate and enjoy many genres of music, although I will admit that my tolerance for rock and rap is somewhat limited. 🙂 Whether joining in multi-part harmony, or singing along with CCM on the radio, I can experience the typical emotional high that is commonly called ‘worship’. I am not sure I have a term for it, but I do not believe the word ‘worship’, as per scripture, is appropriate.

    True worship involves action, not simply manufactured emotion. When we reluctantly surrender a long-treasured idol, that is worship. When we pray for the strength and courage to do the hard things we know we should, that is worship. When we look for the best ways to use our time, skills and energy to serve God and others, that is worship. We may, or may not, experience the emotional high that is considered necessary in the modern Church, but offering what we have to God is the sort of worship I believe he asks of us.

    I end to not believe that an emotion-laden musical experience, manipulated by instruments and performances, has anything to do with what God desires for us as exemplified by the term ‘worship’. But maybe that’s just me.

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  126. TS00:

    I end to not believe that an emotion-laden musical experience, manipulated by instruments and performances, has anything to do with what God desires for us as exemplified by the term ‘worship’. But maybe that’s just me.

    It’s not just you. The would-be aspiring mega congregation I attended (before my failed experiment in conservative presbyism and self exile to the post-evangelical wilderness) had more than half an hour of choruses before the sermon. It seemed to me to be emotionally manipulative, and it seemed to me that it made the group more receptive to the agendas that would be promoted in the sermon. I made a habit of arriving late in order to be in a more analytical frame of mind for the speaking part of the meeting.

    I get the sense that these groups are businesses that sell weekly religious feeling. Maybe some good comes out of in in some people’s lives. IMO it would be better to have smaller groups that are more focused on helping one another. (I am reminded of NT Wright’s description of the 1st century house churches: “ethically rigorous philanthropic fictive kinship groups.)

    We’ve come a long way since then.

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  127. TS00,

    “I end to not believe that an emotion-laden musical experience, manipulated by instruments and performances, has anything to do with what God desires for us as exemplified by the term ‘worship’. But maybe that’s just me.”
    +++++++++++++++

    well, i ignore the word ‘worship’ altogether (but i suppose that’s clear by now). keeps my toe from curling backwards.

    music is nothing -absolutely nothing- without emotion. it’s flat, lifeless noise.

    music is the means of expressing what can’t be expressed in words alone, or in words at all. the means of expressing thoughts and feelings that defy articulation, or which are too mysterious or personal or frightening or overwhelming or scandalous to articulate.

    (but this is nothing new)

    most people have experienced a stirring, soaring elation when they experience certain pieces of music played/sung just so in just the right environment or at just the right moment. that’s what music does and the response is good and right.

    seems to me that if any music should be laden with emotion it’s music expressed for God. if there is music, it should evoke emotion and feeling only because music is inherently emotional.

    (of course when music is done right the feeling is interpreted in the context of the song — not like many a pathos-filled bleeding heart rendition of “The Christmas Song” which i’ve heard: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” dripping with emotion…. let’s get teary over chestnuts :|)

    now, a good many songs i’ve heard at church simply don’t do it for me. some i truly hate. but i’ve put up with it because it’s working for others, and that’s good for them. i allow myself to feel emotion (even though i dislike the music), to tap into appreciation for God.

    but when ‘my music’ has been on the agenda, it’s catharsis-ville for me. if i’m going to pour my heart out to music i can’t think of more worthy subject matter than God.

    when there’s music and God, we express emotion to God. God deserves our emotional expression.

    when there’s an argument at home and we give up the right to be right or to have the last word, we express self-control for God. God deserves our self-control.

    when a neighbor is in need, we give of our time and energy to help them. God deserves our time, energy, and selflessness.

    but music is the vehicle for emotion.

    ..and that’s what i think about that.

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  128. Muff Potter,

    i’m kind of partial to Freddy Mercury singing “Who Wants To Live Forever”… i hear a very sincere cry to God in that one.

    (if ‘worship’ is praise, then this song isn’t that; but it’s very sincere and searching)

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  129. TS00: I tend to not believe that an emotion-laden musical experience, manipulated by instruments and performances, has anything to do with what God desires for us as exemplified by the term ‘worship’.

    “The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment.” (A.W. Tozer)

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  130. Deborah: I just want them to stop!!!

    I’m sorry for your situation. Your pastor sounds like a psycho.

    I don’t know if it worth spending too much money. Not a lawyer, but curious if some sort of injunction/cease and desist lying letter might scare them enough to stop? Seems to work for some people, just scare them with a lawyers name and note of the proof of your words.

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  131. elastigirl: i’ve seen it called “worship practice”… i think that’s ridiculous.

    Probably because they replace ‘choir’ with ‘worship team’ and then dropped the ‘team’ part in references.

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  132. Lea,

    yes, i think that’s the case. to me, the word is an example of the mandate to be ‘biblical’ by slapping a biblical word on something so as to check of a box on a to-do list. i’m probably on a lone island, though, w/regard to the word ‘worship’.

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  133. elastigirl: like when i worked in the snack bar in high school (many many moons ago) and can no longer be around the smell or the sight of french fries.

    Like trying to watch The Muppet Show after you’ve seen Meet the Feebles.
    (There are things which once Seen cannot be Unseen…)

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  134. Muff Potter: The best worship song I’ve ever heard was Joan Baez’s rendition of Swing Low Sweet Chariot at Woodstock (August 1969).

    Classic Black American folk hymn dating to the days of Slavery.

    Coming from a situation far more REAL than Happy-Clappy Joy Joy P&W charts.

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  135. Max: “The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment.” (A.W. Tozer)

    And what happens when someone else down the block (not necessarily a church) provides more bang-up entertainment?

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  136. Max: Generations X, Y and Z are the primary market segment of the Christian Industrial Complex.Give them what they want, and they will come.

    And if they want Temple Prostitution, slicing themselves with knives in frenzy, and Human/Child Sacrifice?

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  137. Gus: As I have German as my native language, I would tend towards
    scheister
    for reasons I won’t go into here

    Difference between German and English spellings of the same sounds.

    Since we don’t have little flags next to our names anymore, I assume you’re “Gustav von Osterriech”?

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  138. Pingback: Linkathon! – Phoenix Preacher

  139. MacDonald also filed another lawsuit against the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, in august of 2018 because they wouldn’t refinance loans that Harvest Bible Chapel has under contract with them.
    Total meltdown of the harvest leadership to allow this. I wonder what crime the ECCU committed

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  140. Nick Bulbeck:
    ION: Doctor Who

    So, just watched the giant spiders episode, and I’ve come to a decision on the new series. The writing is terrible, but I like the characters.

    I’ve only seen the season opener “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” (don’t have BBC into my home; saw it in a theatre) and the thing I missed most is Murray Gold’s magnificent music. I imagine that the National Orchestra of Wales is feeling a bit let down, too. Playing Gold’s compositions must have practically been its own reward.

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  141. NoWaybutUP: MacDonald also filed another lawsuit against the Evangelical Christian Credit Union

    Why not?! After all “many influential pastors and biblical scholars” gave MacDonald the green light to sue the pants off other Christians!

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  142. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    the invoices on the MH were for notably lower numbers … and if JM made use of an RSI style campaign documents comparable to those published by WORLD and Throckmorton would be handy. The MH BoAA explanation that they weren’t doing anything that was considered illegal or unethical was an explanation offered when MacDonald was on said BoAA but that’s not the same as establishing that other people besides MH executive elders actually made use of RSI.

    Not to say JM couldn’t or didn’t use an RSI style arrangement, just that I’m not aware of any documentary evidence for saying he did. Since my field of investigation has been more confined to the MH and its history side of things I’m not really in a position to say much about HBC so lots of people are bound to know more than I do about that stuff.

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  143. Deborah,

    Hi, Deborah. Does it help to know I understand what’s been happening with you? My experience was similar. It is only in retrospect that I see the degree of gas lighting that my former pastor and elders did. That means after saying and doing and proclaiming one thing, they realize they stuck their foot in it and backpedalled with: You’re crazy! You’re lying! We never said/did that! I think that particular issue is becoming clear to me now (5 years later) because the trauma of the abuse you describe was busy doing its awful damage, the stuff that you are just now beginning to experience. I implore you to stay connected to this kind community and Spiritual Sounding Board, and peruse their links. If I had to do it over, I would have started seeing a secular woman therapist much earlier…to understand why I chose the relationships I did (with men, churches, etc) and why I bought into social structures (like cruel hierarchies) that allowed my own abuse. I hear your anguish and there are thousands of us who understand it. I will be praying for you on the road ahead. You will arrive at peace and safety and you will meet a new god, the one true God, even if you never attend a church again, and you won’t recognize the person you’ve become. I’m sure of it.

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  144. Samuel Conner,

    Now that you mention it, that’s another thing; I get that they’ve tried to do something with the music (they generally do when there’s a new Doctor) but I don’t think this has worked.

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  145. Max,

    I have read this so many times and I still cannot believe it. I had been chasing answers for years and sat down with Dave before taking my family and leaving HBC. At that time he was unable or unwilling to tell the truth. I remember seeing this for the first time on TED…I wanted to cry. Just having the validation of all that I had seen, sensed, and tried to warn about. I cannot explain it.

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