Why I Heartily Disagree With James MacDonald’s Allegedly Biblical™ Reasons for Suing Bloggers

“From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!” –St. Teresa of Avila

Christianity Today presented James MacDonald: Why Suing Is Sometimes the Biblical Choice. It’s curious that a magazine that attempts to walk the difficult line between various theologies, would present a pastor who is suing The Elephant Debt without presenting the bloggers’ point of view. TWW is a blog that presents a particular perspective on abuse within the evangelical church. We make no pretense that we are straddling the fence. I make a request that Christianity Today allow the bloggers or their representatives the same platform.

The *Wayne Grudem* standard…

As I looked at the picture of MacDonald at the top of the CT post, I noted that this older man of my generation appeared to be attempting to look hip and young. He is neither. In fact, he quotes Wayne Grudem, another man who is definitely aging. Before you jump to conclusions, I, too, am a woman of a *certain age* who is deeply discouraged about how my generation has left the church for the next generation. Forgive us.

Wayne Grudem teaches strict gender hierarchy…Let me stop for a minute. For the lawyers who are looking for the next lawsuit, this blog post includes my thoughts on Grudem’s and MacDonald’s teaching. This post is *my opinion.* “Allegedly,” “I believe,” and so on and so forth… I’ll try sprinkling the word *allegedly* around here and there but lawyers would be wise to put *allegedly* in front of each and every word.

Allegedly, Grudem teaches a strict gender hierarchy within the church and marriage which MacDonald seems to embrace in this article: A Wife’s Place.

Here’s how John Piper and Wayne Grudem summarize submission in their great book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. “Submission refers to a wife’s divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through, according to her gifts.

Wayne Grudem, who wrote 83 rules for women to follow when seeking to serve the church, (please read this folks) has apparently found a good reason for MacDonald to sue the bloggers. MacDonald quotes his thoughts as his raison d’être for proceeding with his lawsuit. This *proof* makes as much sense to me as Grudem’s 83 rules for women who serve in churches.

A conversation with Wayne Grudem, the widely respected theologian and my seminary professor, helped me understand that we should model our response to criticism after Christ’s ministry (John 8:49) not his road to the cross, when his total silence was a unique fulfillment of prophecy.

Make sure you get this. Allegedly, Grudem claims that Jesus didn’t go about suing everybody because He was fulfilling prophecy. However, being the gullible and easily deceived woman that I am, I cannot find examples of the apostles running around, tying up the Roman and pagan courts with lawsuits, either. Don’t try to use Paul appealing to the Roman government or we’ll be here all day.

James MacDonald has had a career of significant lows as well as notable highs.

The highs are well known. Huge churches, lots of money, lots of fame, lots of everything any pastor could hope for if pastors do hope for such things…

I believe that it is those alleged lows which will lead to the success of the bloggers of The Elephant Debt and Julie Roys. We have written a few posts but I found a summation of the issues that were published this year on The Internet Monk in a post Money and Power: The Elephant in James MacDonald’s House.

-At the time of publication, we informed our readers that HBC was approximately $65 million dollars in debt.

-Additionally, we reported that James MacDonald was earning in excess of $600,000 in annual compensation from the church and its related ministries.  This figure did not include compensation received from other likely sources of income such as: book royalties, conference fees, etc.

-Thirdly, we reported that MacDonald had admitted to a group of Harvest Fellowship pastors that he operated in such a way that he retained 50% of the power within the church, leaving the remaining of power to be divided equally among the suddenly swollen elder board, which had grown from approximately eight men to over 30.

-We then discussed the recent $30 million dollar capital campaign in which MacDonald informed his congregation that he personally knew how much money God wanted them to sacrificially give to the campaign.

-Finally, to illustrate our point that we were not alone in our concerns pertaining to MacDonald, we listed a group of former elders and pastors, all of whom left the church for their own reasons and concerns regarding Harvest Bible Chapel and its direction.

There have been other issues that have attracted the attention of bloggers and the media.

  1. Pulpit and Pen wrote an article that James MacDonald was canned from church leadership. In the article they linked to a statement released by Harvest Bible Fellowship. It would appear (to this woman who should be submitting to men) that his HBF organization was in an alleged season of serious turmoil. Although MacDonald continued to teach at his church, he would no longer lead the organization. MacDonald’s church has been a member of the SBC since 2015. MacDonald allegedly wrote an article titled Congregational Government is from Satan. In this article he appears to believe that voting is unbiblical and congregational meeting are forums for divisions. Looks like he got divisions, anyhoo!
  2. James MacDonald allegedly joined forces with  Mark Driscoll to crash John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. Folks, I don’t get this. Should I expect the Baptists to crash a Lutheran convention or the Presbyterians to crash a Baptist convention? I can see protests at communion tables and baptismal founts…
  3. The Gospel Coalition and MacDonald parted ways over disagreements on *how to relate to the world.*
  4. There was the infamous elder excommunications and gambling. (There is a reason I chose this website which will become apparent in a minute.)

MacDonald appears to claim that the church leaders have authority over the bloggers; that the leaders are open to meeting with the bloggers; and the critique of bloggers made positive changes in the church.

Here is another area of potential trouble. MacDonald claims that the thoughts of the bloggers did lead to positive changes in the church. He is admitting that the bloggers were telling the truth at some point. (I believe they were telling the truth as they saw it for their entire blogging history.) He cannot walk himself back from this and I think it will benefit the bloggers.

Bloggers are not under the authority of church leaders nor do they need to assume that church leaders are speaking to them authoritatively. They are not members of the church so this alleged admonition is silly, at best, unless MacDonald is making the claims that all church leaders have authority over all people outside of that church. Now that would be quite the post!!

MacDonald states:

We have repeatedly tried to meet with them, and if the bloggers let their “reasonableness be known to all men” (Phil. 4:5) and simply sat down with us, they would learn of the positive changes that initially came from their critical approach. Ongoing appeals have yielded no fruit, though we remain open to meeting in person and ending the legal case.

In the meantime, by assuming the right to influence our church while refusing to listen to the authority of our church leaders, they forfeit the protection given to brothers in 1 Corinthians 6. According to Matthew 18:17 their refusing to “hear the church” requires that they be related to as non-believers, as “gentiles and tax collectors.”

My opinion:

Many of the issues with MacDonald’s ministry have been documented in lots of places. MacDonald has a problem. In order to win this lawsuit he MUST prove that The Elephant Debt writers, their wives (say what?) and Julie Roys were knowingly lying in order to cause him harm. He can’t get away with merely proving that they were wrong. Let me show you how hard this will be.

Loss of church members or loss of money or does it matter?

In the Christianity Today article, MacDonald claimed that people left the church and some lost their faith. Their faith in what? MacDonald or Jesus? It seems as if MacDonald is equating himself with Jesus who is charged with protecting the church. Is he claiming that if he goes down, Jesus goes down? Then again, I’m just a woman blogger…

In the wake of what was being published online, innocent people didn’t just leave our church, but too often left the church. We saw the effects not just in Chicago, but worldwide, wherever our broadcasts and church plants had spread. Friends lost their sons to the faith. New believers who struggled to trust Christ and any authority too often jumped to “fears confirmed” and retreated into unbelief.

MacDonald does seem to admit this lawsuit has something allegedto do with “material harm” to the church. I believe this argument is unwise since it seems to this claim that there really is an elephant sort of biggish debt problem at the church which benefits the bloggers.

Over a three–year period, their materially harmful untruths drove more than 2000 members out of our church —

To make this claim, MacDonald will have to prove that not only did the TED folks lie, but they lied in order to cause malicious harm to MacDonald and that the people who left the church did so because of provable and knowing lies.

He equates this mass exodus with yelling *Fire* in an alleged movie theater. I believe that this is going way too far.

In America, free speech is not universal. You can’t yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater because negligently causing a dangerous stampede of people is not protected speech, but a breach of the law with serious consequences.

MacDonald appears to be saying that people are too stupid to think for themselves and will believe *lies* without investigating for themselves. This is far different than yelling *Fire* in a movie theater in which people must make a split second decision. People do not have to stampede out of a church the minute they hear that elders were excommunicated. They actually have days, weeks, months and years to make that decision. This rationale is downright silly.

ExChristians have been watching MacDonald and were ex-Christians before they started watching.

I am familiar with this website which has been around for well over a decade. It is made up of people who have left the Christian faith. (No food fights on the perseverance of saints, folks….) These people had long left the faith before the problems with Harvest Bible Chapel began. If you read this post, you will see that they got their information from an archive, not from The Elephant’s Debt.

My predictions:

  • James MacDonald will lose this lawsuit unless he can prove that those involved knowingly lied.
  • The court will ask MacDonald to pay the court costs for TED and Roys.
  • The elders will wish they hadn’t offered to pay for the lawsuit.
  • His lawyer tries the *fire* argument and the judge chokes on his water.
  • Harvest Bible Church will continue to see a decline in membership: win or lose.
  • MacDonald will wish he had used his talents to build up his church as opposed to suing others.
  • The elephant Brobdingnagian debt will continue to plague the church.
  • Someone will get MacDonald to ditch the tight leather jacket.

Thoughts on the problems of celebrity pastors by Chaplain Mike

To begin with, over the past two decades, the church has moved in a direction whereby entire bodies are being defined by the charismatic presence of their senior pastor.  As has been discussed numerous times by Michael Spencer, the original Internet Monk, this model of the “pastorate” is a dangerous model that leaves the body unwittingly oriented around the worship of a rock-star mega-pastor.  Moreover, there is a danger for the senior pastor who operates within this model to be overwhelmed in his character by the dark forces of ego and pride.

But the problems go deeper than the rise of the superstar pastor. In many cases, the churches that have been built around such a figure are often non-denominational in nature, which ultimately means that they answer to no earthly authority other than that which they have appointed to themselves. So in times of crisis and/or moral failure, as we have seen at Harvest, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and elsewhere, the congregation has no recourse to address its concerns if the self-appointed elder board is unwilling or unable to remove the senior pastor from leadership.

What’s more, when so much of the “Sunday Experience” and church culture is centered around this charismatic figurehead, constitutional church structures are no longer capable of limiting the power of the individual in question because the individual has effectually become “the church” for the majority of the congregants.  This is why we see so many megachurch pastor salaries rising to unprecedented heights.  When the pastor is the central draw for the church, and the church fears losing the congregation that comes almost exclusively for his or her teaching, they feel pressured to pay “competitive rates” so that other churches can’t come along and steal “the talent.”

Let me add to this one other thought. Could it be that authority driven church leadership can lead some pastors to believe that they somehow deserve special respect and money since they are *protecting* God’s church?

“A clergyman who engages in business, and who rises from poverty to wealth, and from obscurity to a high position, avoid as you would the plague.” Jerome


Comments

Why I Heartily Disagree With James MacDonald’s Allegedly Biblical™ Reasons for Suing Bloggers — 134 Comments

  1. So many of these mega pastors do such stupid things thinking they are going to come out for the better, but it’s just going to go very bad for them.

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  2. “As I looked at the picture of MacDonald at the top of the CT post, I noted that this older man of my generation appeared to be attempting to look hip and young.”

    That’s because his primary market segments are Generations X, Y, and Z. It’s all about marketing strategy in the Christian Industrial Complex. After a while, a leader who dresses and acts like a youngster just looks stupid. Driscoll did that for too long … it got to a point when he did have any hair to do that spiky thing. Tullian’s fake and bake and skinny jeans were a bit much, as well. It’s hard to take J Mac serious in that tight leather jacket – he needs to give it up. Whew, the church has become a circus in some corners of Christendom!

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  3. MacDonald reminds me of the ruler in Ecclesiastes 4: “an old and foolish king who will no longer be admonished.” I see the Christian blogosphere offering him correction and reproof. By not receiving it, he is losing his ministry.

    And another thing, why is Christianity Today entertaining his thoughts in this regard? He and has band of supporters are purporting a belief which is contrary to that held by millions of Christians worldwide. Or perhaps, CT is just presenting what Christianity has become today – everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

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  4. While I’m not thrilled that CT gave MacDonald the change to do this, I will hasten to mention that their recent podcast “Quick to Listen” featured editor Mark Galli aghast at MacDonald’s actions — even though the show was technically about the wider topic of reconciliation. With any hope CT with be open to (or is already planning) a counterpoint featuring someone else, or possibly people from TED itself.

    That said, indirectly thanks to CT, we now have seen MacDonald do a faceplant in his defense of ignoring Centuries of Scriptural teaching.

    In the political blogosphere the word “beclowing” means that someone said something so inane with a straight face that it is no longer possible to take their arguments seriously. MacDonald has beclowned himself with these comments.

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  5. Well, first of all: http://www.timesunionmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/fellow-kids-social-media-blog.png

    Secondly, if he goes through with this ridiculous lawsuit, won’t the process just publicize all of his failings?

    Thirdly, this is another present day example of how the things we were always taught don’t seem to actually matter with church leaders when push comes to shove. Seems like all comes down to situation ethics, after all?

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  6. So MacDonald invokes the troublesome precedent of “exception language” in American churches teaching on divorce and remarriage while simultaneously invoking exception language for why a church gets to sue for defamation …

    If the one is bad why opt to be … a pioneer in introducing and defending the exception language for the other?

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  7. Oh, boy! This guy is so full of himself it’s not even funny. I hope the courts see through his bs. He’s pretty darn foolish trying to lay the loss of members and loss of faith all on the bloggers. It couldn’t possibly be that seeing McDonald in action has lost him members? and their faith? No. God must have told him it was those bloggers fault. It has to be someone’s fault . . . just not his.

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  8. Dee, I can’t remember if I told you, but my daughter attended HBC a couple of times when she went to school in the area. It’s not that she wanted to go there, but she did not have transportation, so she went to church with whomever had transportation.

    One time I asked my daughter how church was (not knowing where she had attended). She said she didn’t like it – that it was like a circus. It was HBC. She said it was too huge and showy. She also thought the pastor looked ridiculous in his black leather jacket. She took a picture of Pastor James MacDonald and texted it to me. I told her about how he had excommunicated and shunned a group of elders who were challenging him.

    The next time she went, she voluntarily took more pictures and sent them to me. I had her write a note on a visitor’s card on my behalf, signing it: Julie Anne of Spiritual Sounding Board. (I had covered the story about the elders on my blog.)

    My daughter rocks!

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  9. “In the wake of what was being published online, innocent people didn’t just leave our church, but too often left the church. We saw the effects not just in Chicago, but worldwide, wherever our broadcasts and church plants had spread. Friends lost their sons to the faith. New believers who struggled to trust Christ and any authority too often jumped to “fears confirmed” and retreated into unbelief.”

    =========================
    Old McDonald’s must have slept through Grudem’s class on soteriology!

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  10. “we should model our response to criticism after Christ’s ministry (John 8:49) not his road to the cross”

    First off, what the name of Gygax’s game world does that verse have to do with lawsuits? Oh, and Christ’s ministry WAS the road to cross. Just for the record.

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  11. Maybe this has been answered in some other thread and I missed it, but why is MacDonald filing this lawsuit now? The Elephants debt posted stories only 6 times in 2017 and none in 2018. There were no posts there in 2016 and 2015 and only one in 2014 just to say they were taking on hiatus. The whole thing sounds like MacDonald is taking vengeance on TED, and doesn’t God have exclusive rights on taking vengeance?

    Also, how does Julie Roys figure in to this whole thing?

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  12. “The cost of our lawsuit is covered by two elders…” per MacDonald.

    I harp a lot on professional boundaries in fiduciary relationships. Pastor/elder/“church leader” vs congregants means if you “hold the keys to the kingdom” you should not be extracting free and discounted goods and services from the flock. Think of it this way: if the surgeon who saved your child used that position of trust and gratitude to manipulate money (or an illicit relationship) from you, that would be gross, disgusting, and illegal. He would lose his license and any respect from peers or patients. IT’S THE SAME WITH CLERGY AND ADJUNCTS, ONLY WORSE. Except that in this case there is no licensing board to police and discipline this behavior.

    And the millionaire elders who could fund a lawsuit out-of-pocket? *I believe* their wealth figured into their selections as elders/church leaders specifically and *allegedly* for a time like this: to bail out their boss financially. Gross and disgusting yes. Illegal? Apparently not.

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  13. re: “MacDonald appears to be saying that people are too stupid to think for themselves and will believe *lies* without investigating for themselves. This is far different than yelling *Fire* in a movie theater in which people must make a split second decision.”

    No Bible believing Christian with enough faith to tithe and commit to a capital campaign just walks away from their church home in a flinch reaction as in “fight or flight” as the fire in a theater scenario. My have attended HBC for 10 years, tithed, and committed to the 5G campaign. We knew about TED from its inception and chose to have faith that there was repentance and change in JM occurring. We strongly considered moving forward and committing to the CL-OS-ER campaign (current capital endeavor) but then BAMM!! the lawsuit was filed. This caused us great pause. No we didn’t grab our marbles and run for the door, but we did start to ask more questions and then dig deeper. We did not react as a person would in a crowded theater…as I suspect was the response of most of the mature Christians who have left HBC before us. The ripple effect of leaving your church home, where you have raised your children is HUGE. It uproots your family, friends. It is not a decision a believer takes lightly. So the “fire” theory should not bode well.
    An excerpt from our withdrawal of membership letter this past week likely mimics similar letters sent in the past by former members. “we did our due diligence and educated ourselves…we have prayed, and searched Scriptures…conflicts with our spirit and what we see in Scripture”
    This is not a matter of us leaving God or ‘the church” but seeking God.

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  14. Janet: And the millionaire elders who could fund a lawsuit out-of-pocket? *I believe* their wealth figured into their selections as elders/church leaders

    IMO (based on 70+ years of church observation), deacons/elders at most churches are men of prominence, power, prestige, and/or pocketbooks. They usually don’t have a spiritual bone in their bodies, making good pastor yes-men.

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  15. “People do not have to stampede out of a church the minute they hear that elders were excommunicated. They actually have days, weeks, months and years to make that decision.” (Dee)

    In other situations of this sort, I have known long-time members of a church respond in stages: (1) more carefully listen to and watch church leaders, (2) curtail their giving, (3) jump ship at the next red flag (as you note, may take days, weeks, months or years) … but in the meantime, they are not active in the church nor give to support it.

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  16. “MacDonald allegedly wrote an article titled Congregational Government is from Satan. In this article he appears to believe that voting is unbiblical and congregational meeting are forums for divisions.” (Dee)

    MacDonald later waffled on this when he recanted (apologized) about his views on congregational governance. Of course, he did this just prior to joining the SBC, which still has a majority of its 45,000 churches practicing this form of church polity. I guess he figured he needed to compromise a bit to slide more smoothly into SBC affiliation. So he wrote another article “Elder Rule Church Government is From Satan, Too.” He’s a slick one!

    http://relevantchristian.com/youtube-channel/44-news-commentary/james-macdonald/5466-elder-rule-church-government-is-from-satan-too.html

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  17. Hi Dee – good article, as usual. I am in full agreement. Would love to hear your comments or from some of your informed readers regarding his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6 as it appears in the CT article. Where do you think his exegesis leaves the rails? Keep up the good work!

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  18. ” … a group of former elders and pastors, all of whom left the church for their own reasons and concerns regarding Harvest Bible Chapel and its direction …” (Internet Monk)

    “It is surely obvious that something must be seriously wrong in your church for you to be having lawsuits at all.” (1 Corinthians 6:1-8 Phillips)

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  19. “… refusing to listen to the authority of our church leaders, they forfeit the protection given to brothers …” (James MacDonald, Christianity Today)

    This line should greatly disturb every believer! No Christian is under the authority of every church leader. Don’t check your spiritual brains at the door, folks. Christ alone is your authority, your protection. Don’t subject yourself to authoritarian manipulation and intimidation coming from church leaders … you will not forfeit “the protection given to brothers” for questioning the beliefs and practices you are exposed to. There is freedom in Christ … you need to use it more!

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  20. ” … innocent people didn’t just leave our church, but too often left ‘the’ church … retreated into unbelief …” (James MacDonald, Christianity Today)

    How does MacDonald know this? Could it be that many of those who left ‘our’ church, retreated into a deeper belief in which they sought God on their own? Could it be that they allowed the Holy Spirit to teach them and lead them, rather than having “truth” filtered through the doctrinal grid served at Harvest Bible Chapel? Could it be that they found the Church after leaving the church?

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  21. “A conversation with Wayne Grudem, the widely respected theologian and my seminary professor, helped me understand …” (James MacDonald, Christianity Today)

    James MacDonald needs to be careful dropping Grudem’s name these days. Grudem’s trinity position on the “Eternal Subordination of the Son” lost him a lot of respect among theologians around the world.

    “… they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires …” (2 Timothy 4:3)

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  22. Ken P.:
    Maybe this has been answered in some other thread and I missed it, but why is MacDonald filing this lawsuit now?The Elephants debt posted stories only 6 times in 2017 and none in 2018.There were no posts there in 2016 and 2015 and only one in 2014 just to say they were taking on hiatus.The whole thing sounds like MacDonald is taking vengeance on TED, and doesn’t God have exclusive rights on taking vengeance?

    Also, how does Julie Roys figure in to this whole thing?

    She’s writing an article for World Magazine about the church. And I’m pretty sure that’s the impetus for a lawsuit right now.

    Macdonald’s namedropping of Grudem is worrisome, along with his comment about elder authority, because it says to me that they believe, at least in part, that members don’t have the right to leave a church of their own choice.

    But suing a watchdog blog and a journalist is just a really bad idea if you are claiming to be dealing with your issues and don’t want them to be public. Everybody is going to be writing about it now.

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  23. MacDonald should be so grateful that only 2000 people have left his church. With all his red flags and self-centeredness and ego, why does anybody trust this fraud enough to continue attending his services. I think they all worship James more than Jesus.

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  24. MacDonald should be so grateful that only 2000 people have left his church. With all his red flags and self-centeredness and ego, why does anybody trust this fraud enough to continue attending his services. I think they all worship James more than Jesus.

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  25. Max: ” … innocent people didn’t just leave our church, but too often left ‘the’ church … retreated into unbelief …” (James MacDonald, Christianity Today)

    How does MacDonald know this? Could it be that many of those who left ‘our’ church, retreated into a deeper belief in which they sought God on their own? Could it be that they allowed the Holy Spirit to teach them and lead them, rather than having “truth” filtered through the doctrinal grid served at Harvest Bible Chapel? Could it be that they found the Church after leaving the church?

    Amen. That is what I did. I did not ever attend James MacDonald’s church, but there is no shortage of fake churches with false shepherds. And I do happen to believe that God is waking up his children – those whom he truly knows – to the deception that has long been called ‘the institutional church’. Once again, that is not a condemnation of every single church, pastor or congregant, but simply a statement of my belief that the institutional church as an institution is not, and never has been, the Body of Christ. Its goal – and one in which it has been very successful – has always been to convince all believers to conflate the two. One can totally reject and vacate the institutional church without in any way lessening one’s relationship with God. The challenge is how, upon leaving The Church, individual members of the Body of Christ can find the support and relationships which they have long looked to The Church to provide.

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  26. ishy: Also, how does Julie Roys figure in to this whole thing?

    She’s writing an article for World Magazine about the church. And I’m pretty sure that’s the impetus for a lawsuit right now.

    One might then ask, who provided inside information to MacDonald concerning Roys’ alleged pending World article? I suppose it is too much to ask to encourage people to question the big name publications that prop up the big name churches? It’s all a tidy little circle. One does not see CT or World covering any damaging stories until they are too big to ignore, and then their reproofs are very limited. If they had done their jobs properly, there would have been less need for spiritual discernment blogs to provide the ‘real story’.

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  27. @ dee:
    I heartily disagree with MacDonald’s lawsuit too.
    But not for ‘biblical-shmiblical’ reason(s), but rather, just in terms of practical reality.

    The smart thing for him to do is cut his losses, withdraw the suit, and try to salvage what he can.

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  28. They probably know what Roy has been doing from Roy herself (at least in part). Note this quote from the Christianity Today article (That I drew attention to earlier):

    World editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky confirmed to CT that Roys had been looking into Harvest for the magazine. “We are planning to run an article once we have thoroughly checked all facts and made sure everything is established by the testimony of two or more witnesses,” he said. “We would like to quote the responses of Harvest officials to serious concerns: Julie has unsuccessfully tried to interview current leaders on-the-record.”

    Also MacDonald and his crew note in item (number?) 119 of the filing that Roys husband is a”former work associate” of defendant Mahoney. They may have already known that or may have found out in some other way.

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  29. Max: That’s because his primary market segments are Generations X, Y, and Z.

    I’m Gen-X. I don’t think people over 35 / 40 have to dress like stodgy old coots, but, some go too far and try to emulate contemporary 20-somethings, and end up looking ridiculous in the process.

    They don’t excude cool so much as desperation, inauthenticity, and marekting gimmickery.

    I’d say that applies to James MacDonald and a lot of other Hipster Preachers. Mark Driscoll was guilty of this sort of thing for awhile.

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  30. TS00,

    I think I read that Roy herself did, in trying to get their side for the article.

    My suspicion is that much of what TED wrote is probably true and provable. Macdonald’s reaction to control the narrative is pretty par for the course for a New Cal (“How dare these peons question my supreme megapastor authority??”), though most of the New Cals have gotten too wily to use public means.

    Narcissism seems to be a sickness with many of these guys, and he probably truly believes that he’s a speshul elected authority on earth and God will rain down fury on the hellbound through this lawsuit. Of course, we at TWW have seen these guys claim all sorts of things after their bad stuff comes out, and again and again, it always goes very bad for them.

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  31. Muff Potter:
    @ dee:
    I heartily disagree with MacDonald’s lawsuit too.
    But not for ‘biblical-shmiblical’ reason(s), but rather, just in terms of practical reality.

    The smart thing for him to do is cut his losses, withdraw the suit, and try to salvage what he can.

    But what if “I ALWAYS HAVE TO WIN!!!!!” is in play?
    With “I CAN’T LOSE! ALL MY ELDER BOARD (AND GAWD HIMSELF) TELLS ME SO!!!!!”

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  32. Max: “… refusing to listen to the authority of our church leaders, they forfeit the protection given to brothers …” (James MacDonald, Christianity Today)

    To which I would answer “NO POPERY!”

    Church Leaders(TM) like JMac are just hissy-fitting that THEY’re not Pope in Rome making Ex Cathedra Decrees. (With a more extreme version of Papal Infallibility than any REAL Pope in Rome has ever claimed.)

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  33. Max: “A conversation with Wayne Grudem, the widely respected theologian…” — JMac

    Reverend Larry proclaims Reverend Moe a Widely Respected Theologian.
    Reverend Moe proclaims Reverend Curly a Widely Respected Theologian.
    Reverend Curly proclaims Reverend Larry a Widely Respected Theologian.
    NYUK! NYUK! NYUK!

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  34. Janet: Gross and disgusting yes. Illegal? Apparently not.

    A couple years ago, we had a local law firm which got exposed for extorting money from small businesses by threatening OSHA-violation lawsuits. Their defense?

    “BUT EVERYTHING WE DID WAS LEGAL!”

    Didn’t stop them (the entire law firm) from getting Disbarred for shady business practices.

    (Like Result Source juicing books onto the NYT Best-Seller List. Legal, but shady as all hell.)

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  35. Bridget: Oh, boy! This guy is so full of himself it’s not even funny. I hope the courts see through his bs. He’s pretty darn foolish trying to lay the loss of members and loss of faith all on the bloggers.

    Like the guy on Kitchen Nightmares who blamed everything on a Yelp review Conspiracy.
    (A real piece of work. Just go to YouTube and search for “kitchen nightmares burger kitchen”…)

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  36. Max:
    “Harvest Bible Church will continue to see a decline in membership: win or lose.”

    Yes, MacDonald is done … he just hasn’t quit yet.

    That anything like “Stick a fork in him — he’s DONE!”?

    And in a worst-case if HBC does go under, he can always hit the comeback trail.
    Maybe even sell survival prepper buckets of beans & rice for the Great Tribulation…

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  37. Max: “As I looked at the picture of MacDonald at the top of the CT post, I noted that this older man of my generation appeared to be attempting to look hip and young.”

    Like a 70-something Michael Jackson in footie jammies screaming at the mirror “I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! REALLY! I AM! I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG! I’M YOUNG!”

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  38. Julie Anne,

    Yes she does! My parents went there but they only lived in the area seasonally so hopefully weren’t big tithers (hopefully) anyway at times they would take my son with and cause I’m respectful and honor my parents I let them. However I would pray for God to gaurd my sons ears when he attended with them. Thankfully my parents no longer attend there

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  39. Julie Anne,

    Yes she does! My parents went there but they only lived in the area seasonally so hopefully weren’t big tithers (hopefully) anyway at times they would take my son with and cause I’m respectful and honor my parents I let them. However I would pray for God to gaurd my sons ears when he attended with them. Thankfully my parents no longer attend there

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  40. It’s stunning that he says we are not supposed to follow Jesus example on the road to the cross cause he was fulfilling phrophecy. Like seriously for that statement alone he should be kicked off TBN and moody and anywhere else his stuff is being broadcast by other parties! Very good article and thank you so much for writing in all of this!!!

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  41. Max:
    “MacDonald allegedly wrote an article titled Congregational Government is from Satan… he wrote another article “Elder Rule Church Government is From Satan, Too.” He’s a slick one!

    Has he ever published anything critical of episcopal church government? Because then he’ll have the trifecta! 😛

    Seriously, if you don’t like congregational, elder, or episcopal governments, you’re pretty much out of options.

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  42. L. Lee,

    “Item 130 is … well … something.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    130. On or about October 11, 2018, Defendant Roys contacted former Harvest Bible Chapel Employee, Joel Smith, and demanded that he turn over video footage with the intent to further gain an unfair competitive advantage.

    –thoughts?

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  43. elastigirl:
    L. Lee,

    “Item 130 is … well … something.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    130.On or about October 11, 2018, Defendant Roys contacted former Harvest Bible Chapel Employee, Joel Smith, and demanded that he turn over video footage with the intent to further gain an unfair competitive advantage.


    –thoughts?

    Who would gain an ‘unfair advantage’ over whom, and to what end?

    I think that James MacDonald had best drop the suit and hope it just blows over as quickly as may be. He comes across as a buffoon.

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  44. elastigirl:
    130.On or about October 11, 2018, Defendant Roys contacted former Harvest Bible Chapel Employee, Joel Smith, and demanded that he turn over video footage with the intent to further gain an unfair competitive advantage.

    I doubt that a journalist asking for video footage from a former employee is a crime. Now maybe if that employee signed an NDA, but gave the footage, they could sue him. But to sue her sounds like they think she’s got something on them that they don’t want out and just want to scare her into not revealing it.

    Wandering Eagle commented on it:
    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/why-did-harvest-bible-go-after-the-elephants-debt-now-what-was-julie-roys-going-to-break-through-world-magazine-that-james-macdonald-is-desperate-to-silence/

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  45. Headless Unicorn Guy: But what if “I ALWAYS HAVE TO WIN!!!!!” is in play?
    With “I CAN’T LOSE! ALL MY ELDER BOARD (AND GAWD HIMSELF) TELLS ME SO!!!!!”

    What was it Forrest Gump’s mom (played by Sally Field) said in the iconic movie?
    Stupid is as stupid does…

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  46. Muff Potter: What was it Forrest Gump’s mom (played by Sally Field) said in the iconic movie?
    Stupid is as stupid does…

    And then there’s Frank Zappa:
    Stupidity is like hydrogen; it’s the basic building block of the Universe.

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  47. Eeyore: Seriously, if you don’t like congregational, elder, or episcopal governments, you’re pretty much out of options.

    Except for Super-Apostle Pastor/Dictator.
    Feature, not Bug.

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  48. Eeyore: if you don’t like congregational, elder, or episcopal governments, you’re pretty much out of options

    These mega-guys like to be King of their own Kingdom – they don’t need any other form of government. Any semblance of a church polity is really just for show – they alone rule. Elders are mere minions in his Kingdom.

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  49. If you go to this link:

    https://archive.org/details/JamesMacDonaldHarvastBibleChapel

    You will hear one of the Harvest Bible Chapel elders saying:

    “Church matters are not to be tried in the court of the public opinion. Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority is Satanic to the core.”

    Now isn’t that quite assuming. So if I publicize a viewpoint that the elder majority has rejected it is “Satanic” to the core? I think not.

    These elders obviously are way over assuming way to much about their authority. It is shocking that even more didn’t leave when they started saying stuff like this.

    This sure sounds like the old “gossip” and “slander” ploy to shut down any discussion and questioning but now they are calling it “Satanic.” How sad.

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  50. Steve240: “Church matters are not to be tried in the court of the public opinion. Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority is Satanic to the core.” (Elder, Harvest Bible Chapel)

    Pure and simple manipulation and intimidation, designed to scare any dissenter into submission. A cult of personality attracts minions of like-mind. My way or the highway eventually runs out of road … MacDonald and HBC are on the last mile.

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  51. Max: Steve240: “Church matters are not to be tried in the court of the public opinion. Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority is Satanic to the core.” (Elder, Harvest Bible Chapel)

    Pure and simple manipulation and intimidation, designed to scare any dissenter into submission. A cult of personality attracts minions of like-mind. My way or the highway eventually runs out of road … MacDonald and HBC are on the last mile.

    Max

    Good analysis. This type of thinking creates this type of culture where those who question either learn to stop questioning or go somewhere else. The net result is a group of people and a culture that doesn’t question.

    You would see this type of culture at Covenant Life Church.

    I also imagine with James MacDonald you have a culture of people who stay deceived due whatever type of speaking MacDonald has. They take the approach that if MacDonald speaks so “well” and sounds so “sincere” MacDonald possibly couldn’t be wrong. In other words they have set up a personality cult there that can happen with many mega churches.

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  52. ___

    Prolonged Proverbial Protection of Abusive 501c3 Church Leadership(s), Perhaps?

    “We have come to the end of our willingness to be lied about and are ready to take every reasonable measure to protect our church family.” – Steve Huston, Harvest Bible Chapel elder executive committee chairman

    hmmm…

    Respectfully,

    Elder Huston,

    Issues of integrity and 501c3 fiscal responsibility will reverberate far beyond questionable lawsuits and Illinois state court proceedings…

    huh?

    Kind church folks want the truth.

    Bump.

    Maybe the some two thousand that reportedly left your church will find a voice. Maybe many other reporters will join the fray. Maybe various news network teams will get involved and do their own due diligence investigation(s). Not to mention the blogs.

    What then?

    ‘Questionable’ free speech issues and ‘abusive’ social media is a growing concern with you and your 501c3 organization?

    blogs as well?

    KRunch!

    —> You just started a serious fire storm. 🙂

    Have you forgotten SGM, MarsHill, and WillowCreek, for example?

    SKREEEEEEEEEETCH!

    You can sue, but you can not hide.

    hahahahahah

    https://youtu.be/7xPBHn7Cblk

    ;~)

    – –

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  53. The goofy beard and the too white teeth go right with the tattoo I guess. If you want solid teaching tune in to Alistair Begg. This guy is a total sham. Creflo of Chicago.

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  54. ___

    “Breaking 501c3 Religious Wind, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    “Why did James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel go after The Elephant’s Debt now? Why after all that the blog has broken about MacDonald’s church network? The key to the story is actually Julie Roys. The question people need to ask is what was Julie Roys going to break through World Magazine? And why was James MacDonald so desperate to stop it?” -Eagle

    We would be delighted if Reporter Julie Roys, would kindly come to Wartburg and tell her story.

    ;~)

    – –

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  55. Max,

    if you note he has to hold his arm up for the logo to point the direction of God; when he is standing normally the “vertical church” logo points to hell.

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  56. L. Lee: From another Blogs comments section:
    ( https://sbcvoices.com/why-not-rather-be-wronged/#comments )

    “Ben Wright

    Maybe it’s not the best idea to have someone speaking at the 2019 SBC Pastors’ Conference who’s in the middle of a lawsuit against his former church members.
    https://sbcpc.net/speakers-1

    A glimpse at the speakers line-up for the conference indicates a who’s who of SBC New Calvinists. SBC’s young reformers idolize MacDonald; I doubt that most of them would have a problem with him speaking or his lawsuit.

    (side-bar: MacDonald was on the advisory panel for LifeWay’s “The Gospel Project” Sunday School literature before he became an SBC member. The “project” has been criticized as “The Calvinist Project” with subtle introduction to reformed theology intended to indoctrinate young minds as Calvinization sweeps through SBC)

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  57. Someone did share this “retraction” that MacDonald gave where they said

    “Church matters are not to be tried in the court of the public opinion. Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority is Satanic to the core.” (Elder, Harvest Bible Chapel)

    TED failed to post this: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2014/09/14/september-2014-elder-update/

    They statement didn’t specifically address the part that I quoted but did say their statement was unbiblical at least in parts. Still when you have elders that had the audacity to make the statement I quoted you just really wonder just how full of themselves they are. Stating what they did is IMO cultic or asssuming a papal like power.

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  58. I noticed this on the SBC conference page about MacDonald:

    “He and his wife Kathy live in the suburbs of Chicago near their seven grandchildren and three adult children, who serve alongside them in ministry.”

    Sounds like the ministry is a “family business.” Another reason for MacDonald to want to protect it. His adult children and maybe other family are on the payroll.

    In Sovereign Grace Churches you would also see a lot of nepotism as this appears to be.

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  59. Thanks for this. I just reminded my friends on Facebook that when James Macdonald criticized the emerging church on his blog (now scrubbed but available at Christianity Today) his criticisms included 1) “They should be more open to analysis from OUTSIDE their community” and 2) They focused too much on culture rather than the revealed word of God. Hmmmmm kinda like what he is now doing – rethinking the Scriptural teaching based on our new “litigious” culture. https://www.facebook.com/andrewjonestallskinnykiwi/posts/10155987783524053

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  60. considering the name of the congregation dude should read the Bible …

    2 Timothy 3:2 New English Translation (NET Bible)
    For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy….

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  61. ANY form of church government is Satanic if the necessary and proper safeguards are not firmly in place and given full respect. If the congregation runs the show unchecked, one has mob rule. Unrestrained elder rule produces a tyrannical oligarchy. A pastor allowed to rule as a dictator without let or hindrance produces a dictatorship. Checks and balances are a must in any setting including the place of worship.

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  62. Don’t forget 2 Peter 2:

    “1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”

    It appears that many are following James MacDonald’s shameful ways and sadly this has and will bring Christ’s name and church into disrepute.

    It also appears that MacDonald is due to greed looking to exploit with fabricated stories.

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  63. If someone says, “Aw, we don’t need checks and balances. We have the Holy Spirit in charge here”, a good response is, “The more a factor the Holy Spirit is in the life of a church, the greater will be the perceived need for checks and balances”.

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  64. I don’t think there will be a slow and steady decline at the church. I really don’t want to see this, because so many more people will be wounded, but it could go the route of Mark Driscoll’s Seattle church, and everything close down. I think Julie Roys uncovered some more serious stuff, that report will be published, the lawsuit will get ugly with more people affirming the truth of the stories in the Elephant’s Debt, and it will be a massive disgrace. This could happen very fast.

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  65. deprofundisclamavi: ANY form of church government is Satanic

    You can just stop there. 😉 Jesus asserted that his ekklesia was not to be an authoritarian, hierarchical organization, not that it should have checks and balances. There simply is no biblical grounding for anyone lording it over anyone else in the Body of Christ. The Insitutional Church is and always was a return to the authoritarian religious establishment that Jesus condemned and, in A.D. 70, destroyed.

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  66. TS00,

    One might, if so bold, suggest that the Institutional Church is the very essence of anti-Christ, the beast that was wounded in the head unto death, but resurrected. Or one can read Lindsey and Jenkins.

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  67. Citing the “shouting fire in a theater” case is not smart. Every single time any subsequent case has cited that one, it has limited it to its facts, namely, the shouting of words that cause immediate public panic in a crowded place.

    Naturally, it won’t apply here or anywhere else.

    Freedom of speech is only increasing. Also just FYI, malice can be proven by showing the defendant was reckless with regards to whether their statements are true or false. This is more than mere carelessness or neglect to investigate but not quite requiring that they knew for a fact their statements were false. Either way it’s freakishly difficult to prove.

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  68. Andrew J Jones: rethinking the Scriptural teaching based on our new “litigious” culture

    I suppose that’s part of being “culturally-relevant”, something the New Calvinists pride themselves in. They seem to be always pushing Biblical boundaries on one front or another. Instead of being counter-culture to the ways of the world, the church is becoming a sub-culture of it in many places.

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  69. Does anyone ever emerge as the real “winner” in a lawsuit? It’s been my observation that the time and money spent, combined with the intense emotional agony, offset any gains … not to mention the spiritual hit when a Christian sues another Christian. God is not pleased when a court is used to settle a dispute between believers and you’ll experience His displeasure in one way or another. Even if you have been wronged, countering with another wrong is unwise. Turn the cheek, then the other, and walk away.

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  70. Max: I suppose that’s part of being “culturally-relevant”, something the New Calvinists pride themselves in.They seem to be always pushing Biblical boundaries on one front or another.Instead of being counter-culture to the ways of the world, the church is becoming a sub-culture of it in many places.

    “And Nothing gets old-fashioned faster than Over-Relevance.”
    — Wayne Shaw, my old D&D Dungeonmaster

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  71. Steve240: “He and his wife Kathy live in the suburbs of Chicago near their seven grandchildren and three adult children, who serve alongside them in ministry.”
    Sounds like the ministry is a “family business.” Another reason for MacDonald to want to protect it. His adult children and maybe other family are on the payroll.

    Highborn of House MacDonald.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyh9w_AO3YE

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  72. Joe: I think Julie Roys uncovered some more serious stuff, that report will be published, the lawsuit will get ugly with more people affirming the truth of the stories in the Elephant’s Debt, and it will be a massive disgrace. This could happen very fast.

    All the more reason to Silence Julie Roys.

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  73. TS00: The Institutional Church is and always was a return to the authoritarian religious establishment that Jesus condemned

    21st century believers would do well to more closely examine Scripture to see what the New Testament Church is and what “doing church” is supposed to look like. That evaluation should start with what the church isn’t. When one contrasts the first century model vs. today’s institutional church, an honest assessment will conclude that the two are remarkably different in belief and practice. The 21st century church has done an amazing job of deemphasizing the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God in favor of the teachings and traditions of men – something Jesus warned believers not to do!

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  74. Max: Does anyone ever emerge as the real “winner” in a lawsuit? It’s been my observation that the time and money spent, combined with the intense emotional agony, offset any gains … not to mention the spiritual hit when a Christian sues another Christian.

    Here is a rare instance in which I find myself disagreeing with you, with, perhaps, some qualifications. In a case of two, sincere believers involved in a dispute, your observations would ring true. Unfortunately, we cannot make the assumption, based merely on the appearance or spoken words of an individual, that their hearts are sincere and well-meaning.

    For instance, in the situation of a church or religious organization protecting sexual predators, the abused or witnesses to abuse may have no other option but to press legal charges in order to prevent future abuse from occurring.

    A wife who discovers that her husband is abusing their children, while cleverly concealing his misdeeds, may have no other means of exposing his behavior and protecting her children than to take him to court.

    I do not know if you would apply the same standards to non-believers, or corporate entities, but I also have firsthand experience that a lawsuit can effectively motivate a for profit institution to make changes that provide improved safety for customers or clients. We are led by the media to scoff at big money awards for corporate malfeasance, but the truth is that such awards are not easy to come by, and suggest that evidence of deliberate negligence was likely strong.

    In my own situation, I had no intention of filing a suit for damages I suffered in an accident, until it became clear that the corporation at fault was determined to not pay the medical costs incurred. As I had recently signed up with a Christian medi-share plan, I felt responsible for protecting those in the plan from illegitimate expenses that should have been passed on to them. As is often the case, the settlement reached did not benefit me greatly, but did reimburse my medi-share partners and also produced some substantial changes by the corporation that will hopefully prevent similar incidents in the future. All that to say, there can be justifiable reasons for pursuing a lawsuit, however stressful, even if you do not reap personal or financial gain.

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  75. Steve240: This sure sounds like the old “gossip” and “slander” ploy to shut down any discussion and questioning but now they are calling it “Satanic.” How sad.

    Old School D&Der here (Three Little Books plus Greyhawk Old School).
    Survivor (and target) of the Satanic Panic.
    When everything except SCRIPTURE and 24/7 Witnessing was “SAY-TANN-IC!” and Witches had to be smelled out under every bed and in every closet. The wedge of hostility driven between Born-Again Christians and FRP gamers continues to this day.

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  76. Steve240: I also imagine with James MacDonald you have a culture of people who stay deceived due whatever type of speaking MacDonald has. They take the approach that if MacDonald speaks so “well” and sounds so “sincere” MacDonald possibly couldn’t be wrong. In other words…

    “…Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light.”
    — some Rabbi from Tarsus

    Which I figure is a poetic description of a Charming Sociopath, a master at disguising what he really is. Successful abusers are masters of camouflage; we only hear about the dumb ones who slip up and get caught.

    From personal experience, NOBODY is as Sincere as a Sociopath Manipulator — until the instant you Outlive Your Usefulness. And are “disposed of” so you can’t warn the next victim he shines his Stupid Ray on.

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  77. Max,Sometimes it is the screaming “as a child of God ,made in his image you can not do this to me,I will speak up”

    Max-Heard that my whole life-allowed that statement of turning the other cheek to ruin aspects of my life-finally I am standing up and saying as a child of God you can not treat me or my God like that! Sometimes that statement is just a way of silencing people and a excuse for Christians to be used and abused.Max ,anyone will take power over you if you are silent and you let then . P.S Today is my b-day-I am happy and proud of myself that I did not stay silent 30 years ago at sgm or with my recent brush with Harvest Bible Church,that happiness is something I can delight in today-a gift to me from me can you say the same?

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  78. mandavilla:
    Heard that my whole life-allowed that statement of turning the other cheek to ruin aspects of my life-finally I am standing up and saying as a child of God you can not treat me or my God like that! Sometimes that statement is just a way of silencing people and a excuse for Christians to be used and abused.

    I think Paul wouldn’t have counted those abusive people as Christians. They’re doing evil and using God as an excuse to hide their evil.

    I also think Matt. 18 was for minor relational issues, not crimes. We see lots of crimes committed by pastors and churches on TWW. Abuse is a crime. Covering up molestation and abuse is a crime. Fraud is a crime.

    I also believe that in God’s eyes, taking the money of families who are barely making ends meet to lead the life of the rich and famous pastor is also a crime. “One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich-both come to poverty.” Proverbs 22:16

    The more I read about this specific issue, the more I think there’s some sort of crime going on that just hasn’t come out yet. I think this particular one has to do with money. There was a comment on SBC Voices that said they had found that money had been stolen by an employee, and I’m wondering if it’s one of the top staff.

    TED has an interesting article on the problems of the last audit:
    https://theelephantsdebt.com/2017/10/24/hbf-audit-macdonalds-character-and-a-little-matter-called-hush-money/

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  79. i’ve been reading up on Ramtha, the ‘entity’ channeled through JZ Knight in Washington State, and the cult she operates (RSE, Ramtha School of Enlightenment).

    I remembered seeing her on a talk show many years ago, and just thought i’d check back up on her, see what she’s up to.

    lawsuits galore, is what she’s up to.

    to intimidate people to keep them quiet. to use her wealth to fund lawsuits they can’t afford, to grind them down to powder and have nothing left. including their voice.

    hey, just like James MacDonald!

    Ramtha and James MacDonald, litigious pals.

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  80. TS00: sincere believers involved in a dispute

    Yes, my comment assumed sincere believers – the genuine, the real deal, know-them-by-their-fruit church folks – not “regular” church members.

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  81. mandavilla: I am happy and proud of myself that I did not stay silent 30 years ago at sgm or with my recent brush with Harvest Bible Church

    And I am happy to hear that you made your stand in those institutions! I don’t consider either to be a part of the genuine Church, along with many others who comment on TWW … so, it’s OK to speak out against the counterfeit to inform and warn others. While there are certainly believers embedded in those organizations (sadly), their leaders have proven to walk contrary to the expectations of children of God.

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  82. ishy: I think Paul wouldn’t have counted those abusive people as Christians. They’re doing evil and using God as an excuse to hide their evil.

    Isn’t that the original meaning of “Taking the LORD’s name in vain”?

    Convenient how it’s been redefined to mean cussing and only cussing, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

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  83. Yep,

    Muff Potter: Headless Unicorn Guy: Convenient how it’s been redefined to mean cussing and only cussing, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?

    Well goddang, I never thought of it that way…

    That’s why I find myself cussing when speaking to self-righteous legalists, even though it is a habit I have never had, just to make a point. They take God’s name in vain with their false teaching and spiritual abuse, but view themselves as oh so righteous because they don’t say ‘d*mn’. They can discard and destroy precious lives, but remain convinced that God approves of them because they don’t swear! Somehow they do not see that this is the exact sort of hypocrisy Jesus condemned the Pharisees for.

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  84. I left HBC more than 5 years ago due to my own observations. If HBC is insinuating they lost 2000 people due to TED and such they can count 1 less as I left of my own accord, after being a member for more than 15 years (yes, slow learner).

    Funny just in today’s mail, after hearing nothing from HBC in 5 years it appears that I am back on WITW mailing list. I received one of their monthly mailings TODAY asking for a donation.

    ‘Hmmmmmm.

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  85. TS00,

    “They can discard and destroy precious lives, but remain convinced that God approves of them because they don’t swear”
    ++++++++++

    it is so laughable.

    brings to mind a scene from L.A Story, where Victoria Tennant joins a group of locals at a restaurant and casually launches out with some expletive, and everyone purses their lips and looks down in their persnickety (selective) fastidiousness.

    experiences with friends and family from other countries (& subcultures in America) has shown me how relative a so-called ‘cuss word’ is.

    what’s not relative is manipulating people and deceiving them and bringing harm to them. Doing so in the name of God is…. can’t think of strong enough words.

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  86. TS00: They take God’s name in vain with their false teaching and spiritual abuse…

    When God was saying in that Commandment:
    “YOU DO YOUR OWN DIRTY WORK! DON’T DRAG ME INTO IT! NOT EVEN BY CITING MY NAME!”

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  87. elastigirl: what’s not relative is manipulating people and deceiving them and bringing harm to them. Doing so in the name of God is…. can’t think of strong enough words.

    Pap and Injun Joe could come up with some right colorful corkers right now, but they’d never clear customs.

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  88. Ex Harvest: Here’s the link to a recent All-Church email posted on the HBC site that mentions the theft of church funds that’s being investigated.

    http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2018/10/23/all-church-email-october-23-2018/

    “I am also sorry to report that a youth director who served with us a few short months was involuntarily released last January when illegal and disqualifying behavior came to light. The three affected families, as well as parents of students on those campuses, as well as DCFS were notified immediately. Find here the statement issued to the press and their article here. The June call they reference was a follow up from Craig Steiner, our Aurora Campus Pastor. That call seems to have provoked what the initial January reports did not. All of this is documented.
    Please also be in prayer about the lawsuit filed to protect our church from lies that seek to discredit our ministry. For example, in the matter mentioned above, we have had to resist extensive efforts to distort the truth about a matter our church handled with integrity toward all parties involved. You can read more about the legal protection we are seeking in the October Elder Update, including our biblical rationale and how we came to this decision.”

    It would appear that some of the claims of how the sexual abuse situation was handled have perhaps been called into question. It certainly would be helpful to get official records to see who did what, and when, wouldn’t it? Surely HBC should have no issues with being open about how such situations are handled, what the official protocol is, and who bears the responsibility of carrying it out. It would be helpful to have said person explain how the situation unfolded, and what steps were taken. Surely no one has anything to hide, so such information should be made readily available to concerned parents and members.

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  89. TS00,

    Yep, that would all be helpful.

    It would also help to know some things about this “Sample Email to Student Ministry Parents” that HBC posted. http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Letter-to-Student-Ministry-Parents.pdf

    For example:
    1) Why are the youth pastors’ actions minimized? Why aren’t they called criminal–or even sinful?
    2) Why aren’t parents told that the actions were reported to authorities/DCFS, if in fact they were reported?
    3) Why was the youth pastor allowed to attend church at HBC–and at the campus where he met the youth he exploited?

    My guess is that a certain Christian journalist was/is onto this story…

    If I were the parent of a child who was under the ministry of Paxton Singer, I would be insisting on documentation and answers to these & other questions (e.g., when did the church find out about the texting and how).

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  90. elastigirl: i’ve been reading up on Ramtha, the ‘entity’ channeled through JZ Knight

    Ramtha– oh my!
    He moved into my old neighborhood about 40 years ago and he and his Ramsters wreaked havoc in town, nearly succeeding in taking over. I only saw his hostess one time, as she was walking alone dressed in shimmering robes of uncertain color. I thought of Saruman and his new improved robes….

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  91. ishy,

    At the same time, James Macdonald called the men of the church to attend a Sunday night Act Like Men meeting. At that meet James painted a picture of HBF as a drain on the motherships ” resources “. A bad partner. “They TAKE and They TAKE and They TAKE”. He called on the men to “defend our church faster than our wife’s honor”

    Meanwhile,he was secretly negotiating multi million dollar payouts to HBF.

    Narrative Control in the 1st degree.

    There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again. George W Bush

    I might not be too smart but Im no dummy

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  92. HBC Harvest Bible Chapel.

    A 7 soon to be 8 campus organization in the greater Chicagoland area. 8th campus being added in Naples FL.

    HBF Harvest Bible Fellowship.
    Formerly the Church planting organization founded by HBC. The crown jewel in many’s estimation of HBFs fulfillment of the great commission.

    HBF was fractured and dissolved when James abruptly resigned personally and then some how corporately removed the 8 campuses of HBC. THIS WAS BIG RED FLAG FOR MANY due to the lack of notice and confusion within the elder boards. This “split” was announced as James headed off to his Summer break leaving staff and members in the dark for months. TED has alot posted on this season.

    GCC Great Commission Collective http://gccollective.org/churches/

    A group of former HBF Churches that refused James offer of what many judged as a hush money settlement, opting to disassociate from HBC and The Macdonald’s

    From HBCs 2017 Oct Elder Update
    More recently, GCC communicated in writing to all HBF Pastors that they have no ongoing relationship with us at any level. “There has not been, and will not be, any exchange of money between GC Collective and Harvest Bible Chapel/Harvest Bible Fellowship. … Furthermore, it should be clear that there are no organizational ties between GC Collective and James MacDonald or HBC Chicago.”

    VCC Vertical Church Network http://verticalchurchnetwork.org/partnerchurches/

    James and HBFs new church planting organization comprised of new churches and those that decided to remain recommit to the Macdonald lead Vertical Church Vision.

    Hope this is helpful.

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  93. I need an editor! :-/

    Please forgive my spelling and grammar. I’m juggling alot but I want to get info out as quickly as possible when necessary.

    See important edit in ( ) below

    Formerly the Church planting organization founded by HBC. The crown jewel in many’s estimation of (HBC’s) fulfillment of the great commission.

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  94. Pingback: Wednesday Connect | Thinking Out Loud

  95. James: There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again. George W Bush

    I might not be too smart but I’m no dummy

    “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” How many times do folks have to fall for the chicanery of mega-church schemers before they get it?!

    There’s another old saying in Tennessee that comes to mind: “I was born at night, but not last night.”

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  96. elastigirl,

    I’ve thought requested video could be of an event talked about online (sorry, I can’t recall where I read it) of James berating teenagers during a Chapel service at Harvest Bible Academy. As I recall, it was said that teachers were upset; the students utterly humiliated; and the camera person quit soon after. How I hope and pray that the truth of what James said, as well as his actions toward those students are revealed.

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  97. Anonymous,

    Yes, over s year ago, James was teaching high schoolers bible. Weekly. He shouted and humiliated a few students at the expense of all. No apology or repentance for over a year. Then I believe this school year, new students he asked for forgiveness. Why did it take one year?

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