James MacDonald Drops Walk in the Word From TV and Radio as Controversy Continues to Rage


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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Julie Roys announced that James MacDonald has dropped his Walk in the Word program from TV and radio: James MacDonald Removes Walk in the Word From TV & Radio Amid Controversy.

MacDonald claimed that he did this because:

“Traditional broadcast is a dying thing,” MacDonald said in a live announcement to staff that was recorded by Harvest and sent to me by an anonymous source. “What that means is that the cost of it continues to rise while the demographic of it continues to age and the response to it continues to diminish.”

What is the real story? Could it be the current controversy?

Over the past several weeks, numerous radio listeners have told me that they contacted Moody Radio to complain about the network carrying Walk in the Word.

In fact, Greg Thornton, Moody senior vice president of media, responded to one email:

“While we’re not at liberty to discuss programming selections, we prayerfully and closely monitor the impact of all Moody Radio programs to our constituents, and we invite you to join us in continued prayer for a Godly resolution to the internal conflict at Harvest Bible Chapel.”

MacDonald claimed that this decision was due the decline in traditional broadcasting.

“Traditional broadcast is a dying thing,” MacDonald said in a live announcement to staff that was recorded by Harvest and sent to me by an anonymous source. “What that means is that the cost of it continues to rise while the demographic of it continues to age and the response to it continues to diminish.”

But the elephant in the room is the current controversies swirling around MacDonald’s ministry. MacDonald hinted about this in Roy’s article.

MacDonald also admitted that the current controversy is straining relationships with Christian broadcast ministries

Harvest Bible Chapel, anticipating that questions would arise around this decision, answered questions on their website. (Those elders are sure busy these days.) They claimed that younger consumer preferences for digital media was the driving factor in their decision.

Traditional media formats retain audiences that are (literally) dying off and completely missing the new generations of people who also hunger for strong, challenging biblical content. These typically younger audiences don’t watch Christian TV or listen to traditional radio; think of Netflix or podcasts as digital and network news or the local Christian station as traditional. While we love the idea of reaching seniors with content to feed their souls and support that season of life (which some of us are not far from :-), we believe we are called to invest in future generations who will serve Christ and build His church when we are gone.

HBC wants the readers to know that this is a decision that has been a long time in coming.

No, especially to those responsible for leading the ministry of WITW, which historically has discussed the gentrified broadcast schedule maintained by most Christian radio stations. In the past few years, staff hires have focused on accelerating the development of our digital footprint. In the spring of 2018, we moved away from a long-standing supportive partnership with Roger Kemp and Company, who helped produce and distribute our radio broadcast. Late last summer, when our much loved former Executive Director Janine Nelson relocated to Michigan, we brought in Dan Sumpter, a gifted young leader on our staff for 8 years, who has a calling to use digital media to reach a new generation.

The part that made me chuckle is when they pointed out  MacDonald’s *viral video* “Homeless man…is the pastor?” Ah, stunts-that’s what will bring them in….

Why didn’t they do this sooner? Let’s see if you can figure this one out.

In 2017, with the role of overseeing the churches we plant no longer sustainable, Harvest stepped away from leading Harvest Bible Fellowship (now grouped under multiple church planting entities, like Vertical Church Network and Great Commission Collective) and announced we would focus our efforts on helping midsize churches (1000+) and ‘mega’ churches (2000+) move into church planting as a recurring priority. An unforeseen benefit of that difficult decision was a release from maintaining any particular local broadcast signal in support of churches we had planted, who were also freed to associate and partner as they believe the Lord is leading them.

My take? HBC and MacDonald are experiencing significant blowback from their decision to sue The Elephant Debt, their wives and Julie Roys.

My recommendation? Drop the lawsuits and start acting like a church instead of conglomerate.

 


Comments

James MacDonald Drops Walk in the Word From TV and Radio as Controversy Continues to Rage — 197 Comments

  1. Homeless “viral” video is ironic because when a real homeless person shows up outside of a harvest service, they call the price and have him removed. I am certain that the rolling meadows police could confirm this if one knew who to ask.

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  2. Noticed how the church elders said they still wanted to support senior listeners after MacDonald dissed 75-year-old ladies in Kansas City. Guess a few media-savvy seniors listened to his podcast and threatened to stop their monthly contributions!

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  3. Interesting. Julie Roys says on 4 Jan (a Friday) that staff were told on Wednesday. That would by implication be Wednesday, 2 January. That is the first business day of the new year. Which would put the financial implications into their 2019 financial statement – unless the auditors say it has to be discussed as a subsequent event. That timing might have been significant to the choice of when to make the announcement. Note the elder’s FAQ has a question “Is this decision as sudden as it seems?” where the answer begins “No.”.

    In reply to a query from Sue, I looked at the audited 2017 financial statement. At year end 2017 about 4% of their assets was “Broadcast Time Receivable” from the TBN Family of Networks, as payment for a prior property sale. It was being consumed at a rate of $1.45M a year with runout date in June 2022. So at year end 2018 it should have been down to $5.43M. There is a good argument they are going to have to write off that asset to zero value effective on the date they made the decision to discontinue use of such network time. Equipment that is only useful for the broadcasting (if any) would also need to be written off to the extent it is not already depreciated (all sound and video equipment has pre-depreciation value of $3.9 million at 12/31/2017 but it could be largely depreciated.)

    Also, in 2017 when HBC had to fully include HBF in their accounts due to taking over sole responsibility for it, “on a cash basis the HBF consolidation was a net loss to HBC” met in part by a $1 million “special internal transfer by Walk in the Word”.

    Interestingly, the elder’s FAQ contains a promise that beginning 1 March 2019 WiTW “will post monthly financial updates with revenue, expenses, and current financial needs.” Allowing preparation time, that post on 1 March 2019 might well cover the month of January, which could give a hint as to how they handled the let go staff.

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  4. ION:the evolution of long-running TV-based science fiction

    So, the series finnarly of Doctor Who was a week ago. AWWBA, the Doctor has always been played by a laddie hitherto, but is now played by a lassie (Jodie Whittaker, to be exact).

    I had high hopes for the series (following a slight disappointment when rumours that it was going to be Gillian Anderson were scotched – she’d have been really good). But… mixed feelings.

    I really like the characters. But I don’t like the writing.

    IHTIH

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  5. I am a member of Harvest Bible Chapel since 2000. I am no one in the church, just a member. Your alleged watch is a joke. You hold James Macdonalds alleged sins to the public and feed off of his flesh. All the while destroying our church our testimony as a church for your feeding pleasure. You do no good to the name and testimony of Jesus Christ. I certainly do admit James MacDonald is a sinner and they do affect our church body. How it hurts us most is when a brood of vipers feeds off them and the trouble going on in our church. What you do is not allow the Lord to work within our church by holding up him as some false Christ as if that does anything but hurt and confuse more people. May God himself rebuke you. Ps I saw that big Bill Hybils expose funny Bill Hybils is long gone without an once of accountability thanks to your super fab discourse. Yes a few women got their voice heard which they should have been heard, but at the cost of a lot more people paying a price. There are better ways of dealing with the sin within an individual body of Christ than holding it up to a mob of people who have no idea what is going on Except the conjecture and innuendo you are putting out there to excite and titilate your readers. We are not a bunch of morons at Harvest just sinners working out our faith and repentance together. Since you and your fans don’t go to our church not sure why you care so much.

    Mod: OK, folks. Just a warning here. If you want to debate this comment stick to the points. No personal attacks against Kim just because you might think he/she is wrong.
    GBTC

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  6. My recommendation? Drop the lawsuits and start acting like a church instead of conglomerate.

    Ah, but they are acting like a church —
    THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY!

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  7. I know I’m more receptive of Calvinist theology than many of you here, but I’ll be the first to say that MacDonald is a terrible preacher. He’s always screeching or yelling or using some weird voice. Except, of course, when he’s asking for money.

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  8. Am I getting this right? They took away his radio show because radio is obsolete. They didn’t give him a podcast because his listeners are obsolete, er, in a season of life that does not want podcasts.

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  9. MacDonald lost in court today to stop discovery. I expect that is the real reason MacDonald dropped the case was because he would have to provide his and the church’s financial statements to the defendants. Once he found out he could not prevent discovery he dropped the case like a hot potato. And as usual MacDonald per his MO blamed his loss on the court, blamed the devil, the phase of the moon. You get the idea.

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  10. David:
    MacDonald lost in court today to stop discovery. I expect that is the real reason MacDonald dropped the case was because he would have to provide his and the church’s financial statements to the defendants. Once he found out he could not prevent discovery he dropped the case like a hot potato. And as usual MacDonald per his MO blamed his loss on the court, blamed the devil, the phase of the moon. You get the idea.

    As I understand it, the purpose of the suit was to “protect the ministry”. It would appear that the voluntary dismissal by the plaintiffs under these circumstances is practically an admission that further unsealed discovery would be more damaging to the ministry than the prior state of affairs before the suit was filed. That looks to me to be quite an admission.

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  11. David:
    James MacDonald dropped the defamation lawsuit against the Elephants Debt today.
    https://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2019/01/07/court-case-dropped/

    You know, I read the HBC press release linked to here, and I feel like I need to take a shower. I will translate for all of you who don’t have the stomach for this sort of CYA behavior. It goes like this: “We have nothing to hide, but they’re going to make us show what we, you know, don’t have to hide, so we’re dropping the suit”. The whole piece is a lame attempt at damage control. Why can’t they see that the rest of the world sees right through their nonsense? So sad.

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  12. roebuck: You know, I read the HBC press release linked to here, and I feel like I need to take a shower.

    I’ve felt like that since I first read about James McDonald and his church businesses!!

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  13. This is using a half-truth to cover a full lie.

    JMac is correct to some extent in that radio and TV are followed more by older folks while digital streams are popular among the younger crowd. However, it’s us “old farts” that have the $$$ to cover the digital streams for those “young whippersnappers” who can’t (or won’t) pay for them.

    It’s also called cutting off your nose to spite your face. Or more likely, as was suggested too many radio stations (and TBN, Daystar, etc.) have received too many listener complaints. They depend on donations, too.

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  14. Truly disgusting. For a Church and Pastor to act in such a way, lying, attacking those exposing them, diverting, attempting to suppress the truth, using the Church , and Christian speak to cover their deeds. How can anyone trust Jmac again, or have any confidence in him. Does he not see that everyone sees through this sham. And Harvests Elders should be ashamed for supporting and going along with this disgusting display. They have dragged the Church through the mud, and shown the World that what the World says about believers is true. Do they have no shame?

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  15. I felt very uncomfortable watching the video of the churchgoers showing compassion to a fake homeless man. The whole thing is a deception. Why did’t MacDonald just film a real homeless man instead of deceiving his congregation like that? That just doesn’t seem right.

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  16. A countersuit by plaintiffs to recover their defense expenses would seem to be in order? Surely MacDonald would agree it would be biblical…

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  17. I actually enjoyed listening to his radio program on Moody Radio. But these discouraging issues I read about here at WW show me, over and over again, that it is really just the Bible and me that matters….my relationship with my Savior is all I ever need.

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  18. roebuck: It goes like this: “We have nothing to hide, but they’re going to make us show what we, you know, don’t have to hide, so we’re dropping the suit”.

    Very well said.

    I thought one item asked for was Macdonald and others salaries? I am sure Macdonald didn’t want that known not to mention what his wife makes which rumor has it is a 6 figure income. I understand other Macdonald family is on the payroll.

    Did Macdonald’s lawyer not advise MacDonald that information like this could be requested? Apparently MacDonald didn’t have the most qualified lawyer.

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  19. Steve240: Did Macdonald’s lawyer not advise MacDonald that information like this could be requested? Apparently MacDonald didn’t have the most qualified lawyer.

    I simply do not believe he is that ignorant. Either he was just playing ‘chicken’ or his goal is to bring as much shame and dishonor to the name of Christ as he can. If the latter, he’s doing a pretty good job of it . . .

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  20. So after all that, when the rubber met the road re: discovery, the court case gets dropped. I would say I was surprised but actually the only thing that surprised me was the timing. Once it became clear that Roys and the Elephant’s Debt were getting discovery, it would be game over, because there are things MacDonald just doesn’t want out there.

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  21. I am waiting at JFK to catch my flight to Israel I just heard that the lawsuit against the elephants debt and julie Roy’s has been dropped It appears that James McDonald and H BC did not want to give evidence that has been requested of them during the discovery process It is just like I predicted. Christian bloggers prevail once again I am so happy for the bloggers and so ripped at McDonald’s and his consiglieres Please go to The Elephants Debt and read their article. Shalom

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  22. Dee Parsons,

    I suggest that people consider sending their hard earned dollars to ministries that are more worthy. Dee is about to dance down the jetway onto the plane

    Also read the statement by the HBC elders on their website Total codswallop

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  23. Kim,

    hello Kim. it’s interesting you feel James McDonald’s McDonald’s issues Are strictly limited to your individual congregation and not subject to the scrutiny of The Wider Body of Christ. If McDonald’s Ministry was solely to your congregation I might agree with you, however James MacDonald has had a TV radio and speaking Ministry to thousands of people for many years now. As such therefore accountable to all of us who have listened to the radio seen him on TV or heard him speak. I can imagine all this public scrutiny is very uncomfortable for you and many in your congregation. However the Bible makes very clear that those who want to be in a public Teaching Ministry will be held more strictly accountable and that is what is happening right now.

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  24. TS00: I simply do not believe he is that ignorant. Either he was just playing ‘chicken’ or his goal is to bring as much shame and dishonor to the name of Christ as he can. If the latter, he’s doing a pretty good job of it . . .

    One other possibility is that MacDonald thought this lawsuit would bully those he sued into being quiet due to their limited financial resources vs. MacDonald and his church’s having plenty of money for the legal costs.

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  25. I didn’t like the whole lawsuit. I respect Julie Roys’ work. I think it was wise to drop the lawsuit.

    I also listen to the WITW podcast every day on my drive to and from work, now. Oddly, I found I listened to it even more with all of the brouhaha that was going on. And then, on Dec. 31 when I sat down at my computer to do my final year-end giving, knowing all that I know and having read all that so many of you have said (not always kindly), God was clear: give to WITW. James MacDonald’s preaching and teaching have had a seriously GOOD impact in my life and prompted me to make needed changes. It has produced good fruit in me and in others I’ve introduced to the podcast/materials. I would be crushed if his ministry was destroyed and went away. While we hear from the people who have negative things to say about the church they attended, do we pay any attention to those who have positive things to say? Do such people speak up, and if they do, do they have a platform? After 20 years of blogging, I know that negativity and complaining get the attention.

    So I gave. Yes, I know all that Roys wrote. I’ve subscribed to World Magazine for over a decade. I knew all that’s been said and I gave anyway. It was what I knew I was to do. I KNEW I was to do it.

    Perhaps this whole situation was what was necessary to push the ministry in this new direction. I’ve never listened to it on anything but digital. God works in strange ways. I live in a rural area, and Christian radio isn’t known for its vast reaching networks beyond the urban centers. I don’t like listening to Christian radio, anyway, because of the constant fundraising drives and requests for donations. I’d rather listen to podcasts or via a computer, and send in money on my own (which I do) to those whose ministry God is using in my life.

    I guess we ought to be very careful of the words we say about our brothers and sisters when we aren’t really in the know of what is going on, and don’t know the hearts of those involved. Those directly involved may have something to say, but the hundreds of bystanders on blogs probably ought to temper their enthusiasm. Seriously: we all have to answer for EVERYTHING WE SAY some day when we stand in front of God. Go back and look at some of the things said about other people. It should make us humble and fearful.

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  26. Kim,

    First off I’m sure Kim is not Kim! I pray you open you heart and eyes to the truth of who James Macdonald is. He is geeedy! He has zero transparency you are defending a pastor who won’t even show you how much he makes!! He has an empire set up that only he can remove himself!! He has literally taken over a church in Naples with a beautiful spin that it was always his, which it was not! But at any rate he did it all when a 5 million dollar building was being donated to the independent harvest church, he did it JUST so he could spend time in Florida and keep getting a paycheck! Don’t you think a man of his income could have just preached for free or even taken time off for a few months out of the year. So now your tithes have also gone to another church expenses, salaries, renovation. And another millions dollar house for your pastor. Do you tithe to your church? Do you know how the elder board is set up?? It’s unheard of how James can never be removed as pastor by anyone else but himself! It’s ok for a pastor to sin but it’s not ok for him to not repent to repeatedly and continual lie and to not give financial transparency. Your pastor was way beyond the walls of a church with his exposure in walk in the word and tbn. He needs to be held accountable however now that he is trying to sink back. Inside the walls of his church it’s already much better

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  27. TS00,

    No actually he is that ignorant. He used Mancows lawyer Micheal young! James Macdonald listened to Mancow to sue!!! Lol lol!!! Google Mancow lawsuit it’s an interesting read!!

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  28. David:
    James MacDonald dropped the defamation lawsuit against the Elephants Debt today.
    https://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2019/01/07/court-case-dropped/

    From the link: “In October of 2018, we filed a lawsuit asking a civil court to restrict the actions of those attempting to interfere in the life of our church by publicizing false and distorted information about our church, primarily related to the years 2007-2012. On advice of counsel, we still believe their actions to be illegal.”

    This is how a church explains their backing out of a lawsuit they initiated?

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  29. Kim:
    You do no good to the name and testimony of Jesus Christ.

    Yes a few women got their voice heard which they should have been heard, but at the cost of a lot more people paying a price.

    Kim: interfere

    The burden of proof for the first statement excerpted from your post is yours, and you fail to meet it as far as what you present as an unqualified assertion. Ditto for the second one. Using your measure, should I be praying for your rebuke?

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  30. Regular Wartburgers will be familiar with Poe’s Law (link to Wikipedia article). In brief, it’s a rule of thumb that says: no matter how hard you try to parody an extreme viewpoint when commenting on the interweb, no-one will be able to tell whether you’re joking or whether you really do believe what you’re writing.

    The comment made by Kim above is a good example. I honestly can’t tell whether Kim really is a loyal customer of Mr MacDonald’s business, or whether the comment was meant as a satire on the type of reaction religious businesses and their core customers often present when subjected to scrutiny.

    As a working hypothesis, I’m going to take Kim’s point as a parody. And, therefore, as an encouragement.

    As other Wartburgers have pointed out, the likes of Mr MacDonald work as hard and as smart as they can to make themselves as famous as possible. These businesses certainly want to influence (or “interfere in the life of”) the communities in which they market themselves. They want people to buy their content, credit them with authority and follow their teachings. Ultimately, they want to convert outsiders, so that they can actively manage and discipline the personal private lives of those outsiders. We should never tire of exposing their practices nor accede to their demands to be allowed to operate in their own private darkness.

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  31. As Kim points out (albeit in a roundabout way!), there is no such thing as “an individual body of Christ”, split off from and unaccountable to the rest of the body of Christ. Such a creature would have to be the body of an individual christ – that is, a fake “christ”.

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  32. If MacDonald truly “walked in the Word”, he would not have sued his fellow brothers and sisters! I think it’s rather a shame they dropped the case…I, for one, would have loved seeing HBCs financials in the public record!

    Here’s the deal…if you want to see our church’s financials, feel free to stop by during our church’s next business meeting!
    Congregationalism, though not perfect, seems to work. I was extremely alarmed when I read in HBC’s bylaws that a church member there was afforded no voting rights on anything. THAT is why all this garbage was allowed to happen there. MacDonald and his merry band of thieves are accountable to no one! Were I a member there, I would vote with my feet and my wallet and worship elsewhere!

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  33. Ray: Yep, my guess also that JMac & his lawyer’s tatic was to drain TED’s resources.

    https://theelephantsdebt.com/2018/12/19/litigation-update-emergency-no-emergency-emergency-no-emergency/#more-3557

    Well I am glad that people contributed to The Elephant’s Debt legal costs either directly or on Go Fund Me. Maybe James MacDonald wasn’t counting on that? Maybe MacDonald thought that just being sued would make TED and Julie Roys fearful and back down.

    Apparently MacDonald didn’t realize the negative or should we say exposure that would come due to his lawsuit.

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  34. Steve240: Maybe MacDonald thought that just being sued would make TED and Julie Roys fearful and back down.

    Authoritarian leaders like MacDonald rule their kingdoms through control, manipulation and intimidation. Several former HBC elders and members have given testimonies to his un-Christlike management style. He has failed to shepherd the sheep with love. Bully-pulpits eventually fade from the scene, as his bud Driscoll found out.

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  35. I find it interesting that the elders at HBC seem to now be blaming God for all this in their announcement they made about dropping the case:

    “Surely the Lord could have caused the court to rule in our favor, as “the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33), and “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:9). We receive these outcomes as God’s direction and have instructed our legal counsel to drop the suit entirely.”

    Had they been listening to and following God in the first place, there would not even have been a lawsuit! I certainly hope the defendants at least file motions to recover court costs and attorney’s fees. What baffles me to no end is how HBC expected to be treated like a church with the court when they don’t seem to act like a church. The elders appeared to be totally blind-sided by the judge’s rulings!

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  36. I have no problem if you or anyone else pray in whatever way the Lord would lead you in my direction. I welcome it. Our church is not without a voice as this blog claims to represent the voice of victims by drowning Out any real voice and insert yours in the process. It seems your purpose is to scatter the sheep not to gather them. Certainly not with the message we are supposed to represent. Ps give the person who called me or us scientogists, my email so we can hook up..I would love for u to say that to my face I will be happy to show you why I need the grace of Jesus Christ more than your grace. Jk as we say at Harvest You are loved.. I am sorry I can’t keep commenting.. thank you for your time.

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  37. Root 66,

    …to dovetail onto my previous comment, the elders seem to be blaming everyone for all of this except for the people that should be blamed–namely James MacDonald and themselves! They want to blame the big-bad-judge for not ruling in their favor, and now apparently, they want to blame God as well! What is wrong with these people?!? They are totally out of touch with reality! They have merely “…sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7). They shouldn’t seem so surprised.

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  38. Root 66: HBC seem to now be blaming God for all this

    With never any consideration that “the devil made me do it.”

    “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of.”” (Luke 9:55)

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  39. Root 66: the elders seem to be blaming everyone for all of this except for the people that should be blamed–namely James MacDonald and themselves!

    Yep, you point a finger and there are four pointing back at you.

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  40. Kim: Our church is not without a voice

    Sorry, Kim. But if your membership cannot vote, especially when it comes to matters of finances, you truly DON’T have a voice! Y’all are being played like a cheap fiddle by a silver-tongued snake oil salesman who lives in a multi-million dollar mansion!

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  41. Max: With never any consideration that “the devil made me do it.”

    “Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of.”” (Luke 9:55)

    Max, I can’t help but think about Flip Wilson’s “Geraldine” when you said “the devil made me do it!” It’s cracking me up! 🙂

    Sadly though, I think these guys fit more in line with what Jesus told the Jews in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

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  42. Kim:
    I have no problem if you or anyone else pray in whatever way the Lord would lead you in my direction.I welcome it.Our church is not without a voice as this blog claims to represent the voice of victims by drowning Out any real voice and insert yours in the process.It seems your purpose is to scatter the sheep not to gather them. Certainly not with the message we are supposed to represent.Ps give the person who called me or us scientogists, my email so we can hook up..I would love for u to say that to my face I will be happy to show you why I need the grace of Jesus Christ more than your grace.Jk as we say at Harvest You are loved.. I am sorry I can’t keep commenting.. thank you for your time.

    Kim, the facts. The fact are out there. You have to deal with the facts. I go to a church in the Elgin area that has taken in some of the members of Harvest that have been on the receiving end of some these issues. It’s not just confined to within the walls of your church. I was at Harvest from 2007-2010. I have every reason to wonder if my financial giving was stewarded well. There are plenty of reasons why outsiders have an interest in this story. The church has been terribly untruthful with you and they dropped the lawsuit because uglier facts were about to be released about the church. This is not a joyful occasion at all, but you and the rest of HBC’s membership will have to reckon with the truth at some point.

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  43. Kim: What you do is not allow the Lord to work within our church by holding up him as some false Christ as if that does anything but hurt and confuse more people.

    I have absolutely no power to stop God from working within your church.

    Yes, public attention is embarrassing. But what would happen without it? Over 15 years ago, the Boston Globe embarrassed the Roman Catholic Church by revealing horrific abuse. Do you think that public attention prevented some children from being molested?

    My church had a financial scandal. Public ridicule stung, but forced us to act. Donations plummeted—rightly so—despite our thoughts that it was all the fault of one sinner. We were forced to stop being naive. We had to ask, How did this happen? How do we prevent it from happening again? Are we being lax in other areas too? It took years, but we recovered. Oh, and it happened because everyone admired the person who was stealing our tithes and offerings, while closing down our programs for feeding the hungry. This was our collective sin.

    The good people at Harvest lend their reputations to the church. Make sure the church deserves to be known as the place where your good family worships. Find the facts, fearlessly, and fix whatever is broken.

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  44. Root 66: Max, I can’t help but think about Flip Wilson’s “Geraldine” when you said “the devil made me do it!” It’s cracking me up!

    Maybe if JMac had had ‘Killer’ on his side, he would have been more successful!

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  45. Nick Bulbeck: This is a very important point! There are at least two meanings being forced into the word “church” here.

    Yes! Let us rejoice that God’s people will not be left undefended, even when they wind up in a ‘church’ that leaves them humanly defenseless!

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  46. Mark R: However, it’s us “old farts” that have the $$$ to cover the digital streams for those “young whippersnappers” who can’t (or won’t) pay for them.

    “Just give me the digital streams for FREEEEEEEEEE!
    INFORMATION YEARNS TO BE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

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  47. Nick Bulbeck:
    Root 66,
    This is a very important point! There are at least two meanings being forced into the word “church” here.

    Including the “diabolical meaning”, Eh, My Dear Wormwood?
    Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the foot of the Enemy’s altar!

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  48. Root 66: Sorry, Kim. But if your membership cannot vote, especially when it comes to matters of finances, you truly DON’T have a voice!

    You have the exact same voice as the Population Units who unanimously re-elect Comrade Kim Jong-Il.

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  49. It now seems apparent that HBC will not continue to employ legal intimidation (at least in the form of defamation suits) to suppress whistle-blowers who draw attention to disagreeable but true information about the ministry.

    This might ease the concerns of other would-be whistle-blowers (it’s hard to believe that there are none) who have been reluctant to speak up lest they face the trouble inflicted on TED and Julie Roys.

    I imagine that we have not seen the end of this story.

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  50. Max: Bully-pulpits eventually fade from the scene, as his bud Driscoll found out.

    But how much damage can they do before they fade?

    Like the bully-pulpit of that Austrian cult leader with the funny little mustache?
    He faded from the scene, but only after 65 million dead and an entire continent in ruins.

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  51. Nick Bulbeck: Regular Wartburgers will be familiar with Poe’s Law (link to Wikipedia article). In brief, it’s a rule of thumb that says: no matter how hard you try to parody an extreme viewpoint when commenting on the interweb, no-one will be able to tell whether you’re joking or whether you really do believe what you’re writing.

    Because in an Age of Extremes like today, NO MATTER HOW OVER-THE-TOP AND EXTREME YOU GET AS PARODY, THERE WILL BE TRUE BELIEVERS OUT THERE TWICE AS OVER-THE-TOP, TWICE AS EXTREME, AND DEAD SERIOUS.

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  52. Mark R: This is using a half-truth to cover a full lie.

    Christians will swallow any lie as long as it hits the right Christianese metrics.

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  53. Headless Unicorn Guy: But how much damage can they do before they fade?

    Yes, the legacy of bully-pulpits is spiritual carnage. “The thief comes only that he might steal and might kill and might destroy” … so do bullies in the pulpit. The challenge for the church is to strip the “might” from authoritarians who are counterfeit pastors.

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  54. Root 66: I can’t help but think about Flip Wilson’s “Geraldine” when you said “the devil made me do it!”

    Root, since you are of a sufficient vintage to remember Flip Wilson, help me out on something. What TV character of the last century said “I’m on to you Louis”? That would also fit the watchblogs which have caught up with MacDonald’s shenanigans.

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  55. Max: Root, since you are of a sufficient vintage to remember Flip Wilson, help me out on something.What TV character of the last century said “I’m on to you Louis”?That would also fit the watchblogs which have caught up with MacDonald’s shenanigans.

    Hmmm…I’m stumped on that one.
    However, I remember some Jewish Carpenter saying something about stuff whispered in secret and shouting and housetops! The Lord always writes the last chapter!

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  56. Kim: Since you and your fans don’t go to our church not sure why you care so much.

    Kim, there are commenters on this blog who truly care for the Body of Christ at large. Many of them have survived wayward ministers and ministries and speak from experience to inform and warn; their discernment has been sharpened in the valley. When believers suffer anywhere, we all suffer … that’s the way the Body of Christ is supposed to operate. While we may be viewing HBC from the outside, numerous former elders and members at HBC have shared their insider experiences. The facts continue to build … HBC is not a healthy place for believers … and we care deeply about that, so we speak as your brothers and sisters in Christ.

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  57. Nick Bulbeck,

    Back in the 1980s, DH and I were asked by a mutual friend, to give accomodation to an actor who was coming to perform at our small town’s theatre soon. We didn’t normally take in lodgers, but agreed as apparently he couldn’t afford a hotel…turned out he was a struggling actor, (hence only appearing in small towns) but, because he was 5’2″ his claim to fame was that he played a Dalek, so there’s not many people in the UK like us, who can claim to know a real Dalek and a CHRISTIAN Dalek at that…

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  58. I left a Harvest plant several years back because I saw most of this. One of the worst trials of my life was used by them to further THEIR agenda and THEIR image. In my weakened mental state I thought I was being fed and helped. Eventually I saw the worldly business-type church model and the leaders of my plant exhibited the same crassness and arrogance of MacDonald and bought into the marketing and all the other crap hook line and sinker. I was and am so ashamed that I fell for all of it and basically haven’t attended church since. I’m mad at myself that I feel unholy glee at all of this. I’m angry that I can’t bring myself to go back to church. This outcome is actually doing a lot to heal me and I’m not sure that is right. I feel I should have more sorrow at the irreparable damage to the true Church. If there is one good thing I feel we can take from this is God is still working to expose liars and false shepherds for what they truly are. I prayed for this. I don’t pray much any more but I did pray very fervently for this outcome. I want someone to tell me I shouldn’t feel evil for delighting in this. Maybe delighting isn’t the proper word…sorry…rambling comment. I don’t ever comment on these blog sites but something has made me spew here today. Maybe this is the start of true healing. I hope so.

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  59. Someone on Twitter mentioned that James “swears like a merchant marine,” and so would also be concerned about emails and texts being released.

    I would not be at all surprised.

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  60. Max: Yes, it was the New Testament model for doing church. However, MacDonald taught his church that “Congregational Government is from Satan.”

    https://theelephantsdebt.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/congregational-government-is-from-satan.pdf

    This branch of the thread touches on my morning commute reading. In “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complimentarity Without Hierarchy”, chapter 14 by Gordon D. Fee observes

    … every present form of church government appeals to New Testament texts in support of its particular organizational flow chart. This is true from the ultimate hierarchical understanding of the church in Roman Catholicism to the much more subtle hierarchy of the Plymouth Brethren, not to mention Baptists and Presbyterians in between. The New Testament documents simply show no interest in defining these matters; their ecclesiological interest rather is on the who and the how of the composition of the people of God under the new covenant effected through Christ and evidenced by the Spirit.

    The net result is that we know very little about the “organization” of the early church, either as a whole or in its local expressions. And what we do learn, we gather from “gleanings” of texts, not from intentional instruction. The closest thing to the latter appears in I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:59; but here, to our dismay, we learn only about the qualifications for certain positions of leadership; we learn next to nothing about who they were and what role they played. …

    … We have enough information to offer descriptive guesses with varying degrees of certainty. But what we lack is the one essential thing; intentional instruction about the church; its structures, the nature of its leadership, both local and beyond, and its worship — the various aspects of it, who led it and its “order”.

    In this regard, there is an often overlooked bit of evidence from Paul’s writings that should strike us but apparently rarely does: Paul never addresses the leaders of the churches when he writes to them, either to take charge of a situation that has gone awry or to commend them for work well done. Even in the Pastoral Epistles (…), Paul writes to the churches of Ephesus and Crete through Timothy and Titus because these younger colleagues were there in his place, not because they were the permanent leaders. In both cases, the letter make it clear that he wants them to leave in due time (2 Tim 4:9; Tit 3:12), and in neither case is there any instruction for them to hand over to local leaders the task of correction.

    … But even so, it is remarkable indeed that he never speaks to the leaders, or addresses his letters to the leaders, as those responsible for carrying out the directives. …

    I personally prefer a church where the congregation selects the elders over one where the pastor both chooses and removes the elders. But I’m not going to say that either structure is biblically mandated.

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  61. Kim, I understand why you feel your pastor is being taken down by an Internet mob. However, let me explain my perspective. When Mark Driscoll’s & C.J. Mahaney’s reputations took a serious hit, I rejoiced. I now rejoice that MacDonald is getting his comeuppance (guess that expression ages me!). Why? Because so many young seminaries wanted to copy their techniques. They were, and are, ungodly role models. Driscoll, Mahaney and MacDonald became corrupted by their influence, popularity, authority, and riches. I don’t want to see another generation of young pastors who believe that it is perfectly ok to use vicious attacks, deceit, spin, flashiness, etc. to attract unbelievers or serve the body of Christ. I hope that these three men (as well as countless other lesser known pastors) will serve as a cautionary tale not to follow their ways so that innocent sheep will not be abused.

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  62. FREEATLAST:
    https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20190107/harvest-bible-chapel-says-its-dropping-defamation-suit-against-critics-so-it-can-keep-records-private

    Harvest Bible Chapel says it’s dropping defamation suit against critics so it can keep records private…………

    If this lawsuit was truly necessary to protect the church, is MacDonald saying he’s now going to let the church go unprotected because of a mere discovery request? So the church isn’t worth it–let it go down the tubes and be harmed by the devil’s servants because of a simple little legal proceeding? He sure is willing to sell the church off cheaply, seems to me.

    They can’t have it both ways. Either they filed the suit to protect the church and now decided to just let it go to the wolves–or the suit wasn’t really necessary to protect the church in the first place. Which is it? Do tell James, or Kim, or whomever. Tell me.

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  63. funyun:
    Someone on Twitter mentioned that James “swears like a merchant marine,” and so would also be concerned about emails and texts being released.

    I would not be at all surprised.

    Sounds like The Nixon Tapes, doesn’t it?

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  64. ION: Man-flu strikes Scotland

    So, Lesley had two nasty colds in quick succession over the festive period. I seemed to be immune; until last night, and now I think I’ve got them both at once.

    In my defence, my temperature is creeping up. (And my blood glucose is going haywire; that does happen when you’re fighting something off.)

    I do NOT, however, have influenza. There’s an old adage: Imagine someone has left £500 in cash in an envelope just outside your front door. If you can be bothered to go and get it, you don’t have flu.

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  65. Law Prof:
    If this lawsuit was truly necessary to protect the church, is MacDonald saying he’s now going to let the church go unprotected because of a mere discovery request? So the church isn’t worth it–let it go down the tubes and be harmed by the devil’s servants because of a simple little legal proceeding?He sure is willing to sell the church off cheaply, seems to me.

    They can’t have it both ways.Either they filed the suit to protect the church and now decided to just let it go to the wolves–or the suit wasn’t really necessary to protect the church in the first place.Which is it?Do tell James, or Kim, or whomever.Tell me.

    Another possibility might be that the suit was envisaged as a way to discourage whistleblowers from coming forward, or perhaps to signal a readiness to enforce NDAs against people who may know things. With respect to the former possibility, if that was the intention, it appears to have spectacularly backfired. HBC appears to be allergic to discovery; whistleblowers may not need to fear legal action (other than NDA enforcement).

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  66. Raswhiting,

    Julie makes two great points. One, church governance should give strong authority to elders to enable them to rein in unruly pastors. Two, pastors should welcome strong elders who recognize and deal with their faults. She emphasized the need for humility in pastors, as they still have sinful natures..and are especially tempted when they have large circles of influence.

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  67. Nick Bulbeck: Er…

    I don’t think you’ve quite been paying attention here…

    Just doing my bit in a mob of people who have no idea what is going on Except the conjecture and innuendo.

    (I shall refrain from further Poe on Poe.)

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  68. Vinnie: She emphasized the need for humility in pastors, as they still have sinful natures..and are especially tempted when they have large circles of influence.

    One quote is that many men can handle failure but few can handle success. I am sure many pastors that we see now who are quite questionable started out meaning well but sadly their success clouded their judgment and made them grow in pride and arrogance.

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  69. Steve240: One quote is that many men can handle failure but few can handle success.I am sure many pastors that we see now who are quite questionable started out meaning well but sadly their success clouded their judgment and made them grow in pride and arrogance.

    Success might actually be bad for you:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/power-causes-brain-damage/528711/

    Maybe me decreasing is the surest way for Christ to increase.

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  70. Kim, here’s the problem with your assessment. James made the choice to make himself a worldwide public preacher through WITW, books and TV deals. I can’t be 100% sure of his motives but given the evidence presented it appears largely motivated by money as he has gotten wealthy off growing the size of his “ministry”. In my opinion, once he became a “pastor” to the public outside the walls of HBC, he opened himself up to scrutiny by this same public group that he “pastors”. This is in addition to the fact that his behavior disqualifies him from the role of elder, but its something not many have discussed and i think is important. The fact is James made himself a celebrity pastor and financially benefitted from it but wants to hide behind the “local church” when called out for his continual patterns of sin. I attended HBC for 8 years. What has happened the last 18 months basically since HBF blew up is disgusting

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  71. just in case anyone is wondering why Jmac and his puppet Elder board are dropping the lawsuit against Julie Roys and the elephants debt bloggers…….John 3:20 for everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light,lest his works should be exposed…pretty simple and very sad…..just think of how the WORLD sees this…1st Corinthians 6:4-8 4,so if you have such cases,why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the Church 5,I say this to your shame.can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between brothers 6,but brother goes to law against brother,and that before unbelievers? 7,to have lawsuits at all against one another is already a defeat for you. Why not suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 8,but you yourselves wrong and defraud – even your own brothers!
    How can it be that men Who are supposedly “Men of God” can’t interpret this VERY CLEAR passage of Scripture????? Time for Jmac and his Henchmen to Resign before they do more damage to Body…and by the way Kim I attended Harvest for 10 years so I am Not an outsider.

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  72. Kim,

    Dear Kim I would guess majority of us go to church my dear. Some of us teach Sunday school every Sunday. Some of our husband’s are deacons. Most importantly we are here because we don’t want the Gospel to be distorted!! Man had a tendency to distort the Bible with his rules. If one day you find out a truth about your church or church staff that deeply hurts you….we will be here for you. No question asked!!
    Cause we have all been there, done that
    and bought the t shirt!!

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  73. Dan keller: just in case anyone is wondering why Jmac and his puppet Elder board are dropping the lawsuit against Julie Roys and the elephants debt bloggers…….John 3:20 for everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light,lest his works should be exposed…pretty simple and very sad

    Good point. Apparently MacDonald doesn’t want so much to come to the light.

    Another passage is what Paul warned believers about near his death in Acts 20:

    29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

    Paul is saying that “men will arise and distort the truth” so that they can draw Christians to follow them vs. Christ. Paul even warned them about this for three years.

    I think there is quite a good case that James MacDonald has “distorted the truth” so to build MacDonald’s kingdom and what some would call his “family business.”

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  74. Hurt,

    “I’m mad at myself that I feel unholy glee at all of this….This outcome is actually doing a lot to heal me and I’m not sure that is right.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    sounds like a religion-o-meter, which christian culture has saddled you with, is sending you messages and blinking red.

    i reckon what you’re feeling is relief, like every healthy human feels in response to wrongs being righted, to injustice being replaced by justice by degrees.

    i think you can turn off the self-analysis.
    —————

    “I feel I should have more sorrow at the irreparable damage to the true Church.”
    ++++++++++

    irreparable damage? the true church gleams brighter every time scheisters-&-schmucks-for-God are exposed.

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  75. Do you ever think the Harvest congregation will wise up and stop being played for fools? Harvest is just a business for the MacDonald family to profit off of. Look at MacDonald’s mansion in Elgin. His new place in Naples, Florida. Zero transparency with this church. Now the congregation gets to pay for MacDonald’s folly of a lawsuit that he just dropped so that he can hide his financial statements.

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  76. The open letter from The Elephant’s Debt regarding “reconciliation” (a dodge tried by Driskle a few years ago) reminds me of Paul’s response to the city officials in Philippi. As in: They beat is in public, without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and now they want us to just leave quietly? Like ****!

    Now, either Paul and Titus were wrong to do that, and should in fact have just dropped it and moved on; or else there is a time for saying unashamedly, no: you have done wrong, and YOU need to “drop it” – drop your attempt to run away and escape the consequences for your actions.

    I have no direct connection with Mr MacDonald, but this unfolding story resonates with something that Lesley and I are coming to see in our own lives. Those who conspire to steal from us will try to tell us that we can’t stop them; Wartburgers are familiar with the snarl-word “bitter” which is typically used against victims of church injustice. You’re bitter and angry, and if you come after me you’ll be destroyed by your just for revenge.

    But we will not. Actually, we’ll be invigorated by the pursuit of justice. When we ultimately forgive, we’ll do it of our own free will, and not because we’ve no choice.

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  77. Hurt,

    Hurt:
    … This outcome is actually doing a lot to heal me and I’m not sure that is right. … I want someone to tell me I shouldn’t feel evil for delighting in this.Maybe delighting isn’t the proper word…sorry…rambling comment.I don’t ever comment on these blog sites but something has made me spew here today.Maybe this is the start of true healing.I hope so.

    I hope so too!

    Can’t say what has made you spew here today, but “induce vomiting” is the right response for some toxins.

    And maybe a dose of Proverbs 11:10 will help clear your fog:
    “… when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.”

    For healthful healing, pray for compassion to pray these pastors and elders will yield before actually perishing. And you already know that “delighting” didn’t exactly express your heart.

    Sounds like you’ll be ok.

    Oh yeah – and go search among imperfect churches for one that will let your imperfection into their imperfection in a way that blesses all, so that your love for one another may show the world that you follow Jesus of Nazareth.

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  78. THE DOG SWALLOWED HIS WHISTLE NOW WATCH HIM CHOKE.

    What records did Roys have that were so damning that caused the about face retreat of Coward James?

    Daily Herald…

    Roys in particular possessed subpoenaed records, including items from former workers and elders, about how the church handled reports that one of its youth ministers was sending sexually explicit photos and requests to minors.

    What was Julie seeking comment on when the lawsuit was sprung on her to begin with?

    Julue Roys Blog

    I then sent an email to Kostal, requesting interviews with 10 Harvest staff and submitting six questions. I never received a response from Kostal, but two days later, on October 17, Harvest surprised me with a lawsuit.

    That same day, I was working with Matt Walberg, former investigative reporter with the Chicago Tribune, on a story concerning a Harvest youth ministries pastor, Paxton Singer, who was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. Harvest was aware of my activities because Walberg and I had contacted church leaders for comment after Singer was formally charged.

    I don’t know whether the timing of the lawsuit was a coincidence or not. What I do know is that I responded appropriately to Harvest. Harvest, on the other hand, reacted unconscionably by filing a lawsuit and then misrepresented what had transpired.

    It’s all coming out… Connect the dots… Many of us already have…

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  79. ___

    “Graciously Rescue’d?”

    hmmm…

    Driscoll, Mahaney and MacDonald?

    There’s apparently a comparable pathological & spiritual element to each of their sad outcomes…

    huh?

    When an attempt was tried to graciously rescue folks from SGM years ago, not only did they blatantly refuse, they were ‘impressed’ to view you as ‘the enemy’.

    What?

    It is doubtful Kim will listen to anyone here at TWW. It is also doubtful Kim will listen to anyone declaring an possible HBC corporate foul.

    KRunch!

    Discernment is apparently sadly lacking in individuals who’s sphere of influence is seriously affected by the 501c3 religious officials I’ve just mentioned above.

    When your soul is in Jesus’ sole possession, what can these 501c3 credentialed professional men really offer you?

    —>And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Jesus expounded unto His servant all the scriptures the things concerning Himself…

    YaHoooo!

    A professional 501c3 Man take my soul?, ♪♩♪♩‘well I can’t go for that’…♪♩♪♩ hum, hum, hum…No can do! (1)

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    (1) https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8yxoob6aPtk

    ;~)

    – –

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  80. Pingback: Wednesday Connect | Thinking Out Loud

  81. Steve240,

    AMEN!

    Does this exemplify the character of James Macdonald?

    TITUS 1:7
    FOR AN OVERSEER,
    AS GOD’S STEWARD,
    MUST BE ABOVE REPROACH.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HE MUST NOT BE ARROGANT OR QUICK-TEMPERED
    OR A DRUNKARD
    OR VIOLENT
    OR GREEDY FOR GAIN…..

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  82. Hurt,

    Hurt, thank you for trusting the community here to share your struggles. The fact that you’re concerned over your glee reveals a good conscience and a tender heart toward God. I’m guessing you trusted HBC because you were genuinely seeking God. The shame therefore is not yours but the leaders who misused and abused their power. If you can’t bring yourself to attend institutional church meetings know that you’re not alone. Jesus told us people weren’t made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for us. Sounds like you need a Sabbath rest. Not the kind where you attend some man’s program, but the kind where you Rest from self recrimination or doubt. Jesus does not condemn anyone who comes in humility as it appears you have done here on this blog. Peace to you.

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  83. elastigirl:
    Hurt,

    “I’m mad at myself that I feel unholy glee at all of this….This outcome is actually doing a lot to heal me and I’m not sure that is right.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    sounds like a religion-o-meter, which christian culture has saddled you with, is sending you messages and blinking red.

    i reckon what you’re feeling is relief, like every healthy human feels in response to wrongs being righted, to injustice being replaced by justice by degrees.

    i think you can turn off the self-analysis.
    —————

    “I feel I should have more sorrow at the irreparable damage to the true Church.”
    ++++++++++

    irreparable damage?the true church gleams brighter every time scheisters-&-schmucks-for-God are exposed.

    elastigirl, I’m torn, I agree and at the same time disagree with your comment (church gleams brighter …..)
    True sunlight is always the best disinfectant, but there is a cumulative effect on the gospel as all this @ HBC comes out, added to all the other pastor/elder abuse that is being revealed. Some people inside and outside of church will sadly just give up not only on the church, but possibly on Jesus.

    If Christ is purifying his church, then yes this is be a great thing. But I fear some people will just say they ( Christians) are all fake, so sad…..

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  84. Friend: My church had a financial scandal.

    If anyone is curious, our scandal was discovered by church volunteers. They gathered evidence and took it to officials in the hierarchy. The case was not buried. It went to criminal court. The person who stole the money went to prison. This is the Ananias and Sapphira story in our place and time. It also shows healthy interaction between the church and the court system.

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  85. David: Do you ever think the Harvest congregation will wise up and stop being played for fools?

    The problem with deception is that you don’t know you are deceived because you are deceived. We’ve seen it time and again at TWW. A wayward minister and his ministry are exposed and his followers rally around him! An immoderate attachment or devotion to a man and his message is a form of idolatry. New Calvinism is populated by idols who are darn-near worshiped (Mahaney, MacDonald, Piper, Mohler, Dever, etc.) – they can do no wrong.

    The dearest idol I have known,
    Whate’er that idol be,
    Help me to tear it from Thy throne
    And worship only Thee. — Cowper

    “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21)

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  86. Max: you don’t know you are deceived because you are deceived.

    Some deceivers are that crafty, and some victims are too young or inexperienced to know better.

    However, in many cases, we joyously cast aside our standards when someone with charisma shows up. We are suspicious of obscene wealth until passionate preaching comes out of a guy with his own jet and his own helicopter. And if he’s clamping down on us, both morally and financially, so much the better.

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  87. Friend: we joyously cast aside our standards when someone with charisma shows up … passionate preaching

    The 21st century church is cluttered with “pastors” who have a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick … and tens of thousands who fall for it. So what if they have a bit of dark side to them, they are so entertaining!

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  88. Friend: If anyone is curious, our scandal was discovered by church volunteers. They gathered evidence and took it to officials in the hierarchy. The case was not buried. It went to criminal court.

    Your church was obviously not an Evangelical Mega/Giga with CELEBRITY Pastor/Apostle.
    Or a Bible_BeLEEEEEving One True Remnant splinter.

    Some denominational church?

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  89. Samuel Conner: Another possibility might be that the suit was envisaged as a way to discourage whistleblowers from coming forward, or perhaps to signal a readiness to enforce NDAs against people who may know things.

    Make an Example of one and you silence a thousand.

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  90. Headless Unicorn Guy: Make an Example of one and you silence a thousand.

    That’s exactly why the New Calvinists have restored the archaic practices of shunning and excommunication … to intimidate the masses by sacrificing a few … under the guise of Biblical discipline, of course.

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  91. Headless Unicorn Guy: Make an Example of one and you silence a thousand.

    That’s a plausible inference of the underlying intent, given the relatively low threat that TED posed.

    But, if that was the intent, what happens when it publicly fails? It would seem to signal to other whistle-blowers that, provided they can endure the expense of initial filings and can initiate early discovery, they will prevail.

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  92. Vinnie: One, church governance should give strong authority to elders to enable them to rein in unruly pastors.

    You mean kinda’ sorta’ like articles of impeachment?

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  93. Hurt,

    Hello Hurt…welcome to the lollipop gang, and we welcome you to Munchkin Land. The “evil witch” we are trying to expose would be the preachers who preach in the name of fame, money, and power. The world has way too many of them. All we do here is discuss them one at a time. They, and only they, hang themselves with their own rope. The hanging is easy…getting their “flock” to talk is the hard part. Why is this hard??? Because so many of us have been told if we say anything against a man of God..we are sinful, evil, or have a divisive spirit. Well, once I could no longer go to church without being physically and mentally sick I knew something had to change. Hello TWW!!! They gave me the freedom to use the brain God gave me and ask questions to my church and church staff. Please go back on this blog and read about Dennis Darville with First Baptist Church, Rocky Mount. Once this man was exposed on TWW for what he really was …our church started to heal!! I was in your same mind frame!!! I felt guilty for feeling glad he was exposed and made to leave. The wonderful thing that came out of all this … now I am more of an understanding Christian than I was before. I now feel sadness when I see someone else in an occult…like us. Yes, I said we were in an occult. When you get your head around that…then you will start to heal. Rejoice that the Lord gave you wisdom and discernment. Those are gifts that only the Savior can give. Our Savior wanted you to see this truth about your church…you even asked Him to expose it. He did!! Your prayer was answered. A good friend said to me one time, “Therapy is just talking… talking makes you feel better.”
    So, spew on my friend!! It’s good for you. Just so you know…the Lord is capable of handling how you are feeling right now. He is Lord..no matter if you go to church today or you don’t. Read your Bible. Don’t read it because some one told you to, or you’ll feel bad if you don’t.. Read it for YOU!! It is one amazing book and just full of hot messes!!! Messes like us.

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  94. Samuel Conner:

    But, if that was the intent, what happens when it publicly fails?

    This looks like a big “own goal”, which was predicted by Dee, IIRC, a while back.

    There’s an progression in old tragedies that is well known: talent, ambition, success, hubris, nemesis. In the OT this is compressed to the last two “chapters”, “pride precedeth downfall”.

    At the risk of wearying people with this link, it really is an interesting article:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/power-causes-brain-damage/528711/

    I’m sure the research underlying this article isn’t the final word on the subject, but it might suggest that there are objective perils to “scale” in power hierarchies. Any church that is too large for the “lead shepherd” to know by name all of the “sheep” might be too large for the good of the group, and also for the good of the “lead shepherd” himself.

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  95. https://religionnews.com/2019/01/08/harvest-bible-chapel-a-suburban-chicago-megachurch-drops-lawsuit-against-bloggers-writer/

    Do you reckon that MacDonald and HBC elders will now apologize to Julie Roys, the Mahoneys, and the Bryants? And perhaps, reimburse them for their legal fees? If they can’t get around to genuinely repenting of suing their brothers and sisters in Christ, they should at least restore what the cankerworm has eaten! Just going on down the road ain’t the right thing to do, but a defamation lawsuit against other Christians wasn’t either regardless of how their friends in ministry advised them.

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  96. Pingback: James MacDonald to Shutter Walk in the Word | Christian Book Shop Talk

  97. Max,

    No, they said they still believed TED and Roys were doing “illegal” things in the statement. That says to me that they wouldn’t be correcting any of their actions. Even though they should. I wouldn’t feel bad if they was a counter-suit

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  98. Ishy:
    Max,

    No, they said they still believed TED and Roys were doing “illegal” things in the statement. That says to me that they wouldn’t be correcting any of their actions. Even though they should. I wouldn’t feel bad if they was a counter-suit

    This is the real depressing part of all this is that the language doesn’t change, there is never any real sign of repentance, the attitude is still that of bullies, the people left in this place are the yes-men and those that share the same characteristics of their narcissist founder. The Godly men and women have left long ago. The spin and manipulation continues. More people like me will continue to be deceived. What is it actually going to take for it all to go away a la Mars Hill? This beast needs to die. It’s been so many years…

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  99. Watchman on the Wall: getting their “flock” to talk is the hard part. Why is this hard??? Because so many of us have been told if we say anything against a man of God..we are sinful, evil, or have a divisive spirit.

    The threat of Eternal Hell works wonders to keep the sheeple in line and bleating praise.

    “If you question anything I do
    YOU REBEL AGAINST THE FATHER, TOO!”
    — Steve Taylor, “I Manipulate”

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  100. Max: Do you reckon that MacDonald and HBC elders will now apologize to Julie Roys, the Mahoneys, and the Bryants? And perhaps, reimburse them for their legal fees?

    How can they when THEY CAN DO NO WRONG?

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  101. Samuel Conner: But, if that was the intent, what happens when it publicly fails?

    Double Down and SCREAM LOUDER?

    (And using Mancow (“MOO!”) as your legal adviser?
    He Didn’t Play One On The Radio, even if he is a fellow CELEBRITY!)

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  102. Benn,

    “True sunlight is always the best disinfectant, but there is a cumulative effect on the gospel as all this @ HBC comes out, added to all the other pastor/elder abuse that is being revealed. Some people inside and outside of church will sadly just give up not only on the church, but possibly on Jesus.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    they would be giving up on the system and the caricatures. as well they should.

    Jesus is the tallest, most shining thing around. it’s like being concerned that NASA’s hypothetical corruption would dim and obscure the moon.

    the more Jesus is distinguished from the system and the franchise owners and patrons, the better.

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  103. elastigirl,

    But, discernment can take a hit, if you follow disillusioned former Mormons, a large % become atheist, instead of re-evaluateing faith…..

    All that wonder are not lost, but all that are lost will always wonder…….

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  104. Disclamer: The ‘advocacy’ of the demise, distruction, or desolution of any possible missive, errant, or otherwise 501c3 church establishment is NOT the purpose or perview of The Wartburg Watch, NOR has it ever been.

    Mod: Please don’t make statements about the purpose of TWW. GBTC

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  105. Max: Do you reckon that MacDonald and HBC elders will now apologize to Julie Roys, the Mahoneys, and the Bryants? And perhaps, reimburse them for their legal fees?

    That (and more) is certainly what TED stated would represent reconciliation in their open letter. Reading Julie’s own most recent post on the topic, she’s praying and pondering what to do next, as she has a lot of stuff that she has yet to publish.

    I think we may reasonably hypothesise that MacDonald will not reconcile, unless

     compelled to do so by a counter-suit (which is no reconciliation at all), or
     on terms entirely of his own choosing (which is no reconciliation at all)

    I am hopeful of something, though. Again referring to Julie’s recent output (specifically, the podcast linked by FREEATLAST above), she does not seem intimidated by the new testament assertion that elders who sin should be rebuked publicly, as a warning to others.

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  106. Benn,

    “But, discernment can take a hit, if you follow disillusioned former Mormons, a large % become atheist, instead of re-evaluateing faith…..”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    seems to me that solving problems is never un-messy. the bigger the problem, the bigger the organization, the bigger the mess.

    there is collateral damage. i hate using such an impersonal term where human lives are concerned, but it simply happens. it is tragic.

    toxins and tyranny have to be eliminated (which is never immaculate). eventually they are — if not by others than by their own destructiveness. (until something else rotten creeps up, of course)

    it’s going to happen at some point. apparently, now is the time.

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  107. Headless Unicorn Guy: denominational

    Yes. There’s no magic formula, but after hanging around on TWW for awhile, I think the sheep stand the best chance in a structure that’s been around long enough to have some heft and hierarchy, with a balance of clergy, lay staff, volunteers, and congregational input. Not to mention mature teachings…

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  108. Friend: I think the sheep stand the best chance in a structure that’s been around long enough to have some heft and hierarchy, with a balance of clergy, lay staff, volunteers, and congregational input

    The Southern Baptist Convention used to be that sort of denomination before the New Calvinist takeover. I should know – I spent 70 years in it. Congregational governance and an active lay ministry within SBC are now fading into church history as elder-rule takes root under the new reformers … and some of the pulpit characters are bad actors (e.g., Southern Baptist James MacDonald).

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  109. Max,

    Something I never thought about before… Among the old mainline denoms, the SBC, PCA (and predecessors), and some others locked women out of pastor and elder roles, and lost members, supposedly over conservatism. The UMC, ELCA, and some others accepted women as pastors, elders, etc., and lost members, supposedly over liberalism.

    Maybe the problem is not liberalism or conservatism, but the torture of living through a church fight.

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  110. Friend: torture of living through a church fight

    You will know them by their fruit. The world knows the SBC by its continual wrangling about something. Conservatives fought liberals and both ganged up on the moderates. During my 70-year tenure as a Southern Baptist, I sat through countless business meetings where they fought about everything from the color of the carpet to the color of the preacher! Shortly after the opening prayer for those sessions, the Holy Spirit went home. Despite all the infighting, the denomination managed to become a great soul-winning institution for 150 years, known for its evangelistic zeal throughout the world … those days are over.

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  111. Max: my 70-year tenure as a Southern Baptist

    You have done a lot to build the Kingdom.

    I think some of the old mainlines are healthier for having lost the bragging rights of impressive numbers. We can hope that the SBC will eventually find its way out of the corn maze. People do not like oppression…

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  112. Friend: You have done a lot to build the Kingdom.

    I think some of the old mainlines are healthier for having lost the bragging rights of impressive numbers. We can hope that the SBC will eventually find its way out of the corn maze. People do not like oppression…

    Possibly, yes or the old mainlines could also be Just dying a slow death, due to a number of reasons.

    I believe the UMC will start the process of splitting in the last week of February
    They have planned this conference for two years hoping that their denomination would catch up with the culture in that two year window, alas now they have to decide their future going forward in this present culture

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  113. Benn: process of splitting

    If only it felt like a process. I hope the UMC can find a loving resolution instead of a multi-year divorce and property grab. I hope the old mainlines are stable, and not slowly dying. When any church has an unseemly fight, or a pattern of abuse, Christendom gets smaller because of Christians’ behavior.

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  114. Max: Friend: we joyously cast aside our standards when someone with charisma shows up … passionate preaching

    The 21st century church is cluttered with “pastors” who have a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a gimmick … and tens of thousands who fall for it. So what if they have a bit of dark side to them, they are so entertaining!

    And they relieve me of all sense of responsibility to make serious adjustments to my rather comfortable life. [Talking to self here, too!] All that’s required is one or two hours a week, sitting through a rather entertaining show and dropping a few in the bucket. That’s it, check ‘serving God’ off my list of things to do this week.

    Not to be unkind, folks, but I seriously think that’s what ‘church’ has become to an awful lot of us. And if that is taken away, we might have to do some serious re-evaluations, or even make difficult changes in our lives. Can’t say I’ve enjoyed that process, but it truly is worth it.

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  115. Friend: When any church has an unseemly fight, or a pattern of abuse, Christendom gets smaller because of Christians’ behavior.

    I live in a community which has a population of 11,000 with 9 Southern Baptist churches. Most are splits off of the First Baptist Church here … the result of fussin’ and fightin’ over something in times past. None of them are scaring the devil much and all of them are on the decline. The only one that is growing is one of the splits that the New Calvinists took over by stealth and deception – they are attracting a lot of Millennials because they have a cool band. Yep, we could use a genuine revival and spiritual awakening in my neck of the woods … but that would require humility, prayer and repentance by church leaders and members and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

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  116. Friend: When any church has an unseemly fight, or a pattern of abuse, Christendom gets smaller because of Christians’ behavior.

    I hate to have to suggest it . . . but what about the possibility that ‘christendom’ has long been the wrong path, if her getting smaller will lead to God’s kingdom increasing? What if the authoritarian, hierarchical establishment of ‘christendom’ has been the major stumblingblock to the growing of God’s genuine kingdom on earth all along, even if God continued to bring about good, in spite of her less than stellar motivations? I’m not claiming to ‘know’ things that are beyond my understanding, just asking ‘What if?’

    I would hasten to add that God can, and has, used not only the less than perfect, but even the ‘opposition’ to accomplish his purposes. Did not Jesus speak to the falsely motivated among them who nonetheless spread the gospel message? If – and I can only ask ‘if’ – the early band of believers indeed were co-opted and hijacked into a false, authoritarian, hierarchical organization, we are not left with the assumption that God would have abandoned them and left them unaided. Or that he would not someday expose that which was false, having brought much good even from what was intended for evil, as in Gen 50:20:

    ‘As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.’

    Not easy possibilities for we who have always counted ourselves a part of ‘christendom’ to entertain, but I do believe that a growing number are at least pondering them.

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  117. TS00,

    Just to add, the interesting thing is that Joseph did not consider his brothers beyond redemption. Even if their regret seems due more to fear than anything else, Joseph appeared to genuinely view them with love, compassion and forgiveness. He appeared to view their ‘sin’ as, at least in part, an act of ignorance. They acted on human feelings of anger, jealousy and even hatred . . . but like immature children, did we not all at one time? I like to view Joseph’s mercy as a reflection of how God views even me, the chief of sinners, and calls me, right where I am, to turn from wickedness and choose a better path.

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  118. TS00: God views even me, the chief of sinners, and calls me, right where I am, to turn from wickedness and choose a better path.

    During my lifetime, American Christians genuinely cultivated quiet lives of humility and service. Those qualities attract others and tend to unite, giving a church a good reputation—even in our flamboyant era. Such Christians’ voices are drowned out, though, when fights erupt over the worthiness of Person A to do Activity B, as proven by Verse C. Similar fights are recorded in Acts, and the Apostles’ advice is still there for us to read. We are dense.

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  119. Friend: If only it felt like a process. I hope the UMC can find a loving resolution instead of a multi-year divorce and property grab. I hope the old mainlines are stable, and not slowly dying. When any church has an unseemly fight, or a pattern of abuse, Christendom gets smaller because of Christians’ behavior.

    Would love to agree with you, but as of today I can’t.

    I saw on some website a week or two ago that in the u.s. today more people self identified as wiccan than Presbyterian.

    As far as UMC, most people know what is coming, their two greatest issues are:

    If they split, are they going to play hard ball on land and buildings with the congregations that leave.

    Secondly, they have little growth in u.s. nowadays, all significant growth is on continent os Africa, and the congregations in Africa are the most adamant about not changing to SSM, lbgt+ acceptance.

    I read on Christian post or Christianity Today last week about one town in Pennsylvania will be closing all 10 of their UMC locations, membership has gotten so small, no viability in them any longer.

    IMHO mainline denominations are becoming akin to paper newspapers.

    These bad pastors and elders don’t realize what they are doing to the overall opinion of the church, and I mean big C church…

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  120. Benn: These bad pastors and elders don’t realize what they are doing to the overall opinion of the church, and I mean big C church…

    Sadder still is that they don’t care. Payday someday.

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  121. Benn: If they split, are they going to play hard ball on land and buildings with the congregations that leave.

    Secondly, they have little growth in u.s. nowadays, all significant growth is on continent os Africa, and the congregations in Africa are the most adamant about not changing to SSM, lbgt+ acceptance. …

    one town in Pennsylvania will be closing all 10 of their UMC locations, membership has gotten so small, no viability in them any longer.

    What’s needed is reconciliation, but we’d rather separate. Hardball goes both ways. Seceding congregations have seized buildings, expelled lifelong members who disagree, and put the remaining members under the authority of church officials on faraway continents.

    For what it’s worth, PennLive says ten UMC churches in Harrisburg will merge—slightly different version from all ten closing. Infighting is not mentioned, though it could well be a cause:

    “…dwindling attendance, changing demographics and the financial burden of maintaining aging church buildings have taken a toll on the church…

    “The Susquehanna United Methodist Conference … has laid out a plan under which they say they would close 10 churches in the Harrisburg area, consolidating the parishes into four or five new church campuses. To be known as the Impact Church…

    “‘It’s about spreading our presence to different parts of the city,’ said Shawn Gilgore, spokesman for the Susquehanna United Methodist Conference. ‘It’s basically about making ourselves more available and nimble for ministry. We want these places to be vibrant centers of the community all week instead of just one day a week.'”

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  122. Nick Bulbeck,

    Revenge. Some say that this is motivated by a poignant wish to get all of the nonsense out of the way, and to reclaim a past that should not be irretrievably lost.

    Are all Harvest churches tarnished by this? Even ones outwith USA?

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  123. H.B.: I guess we ought to be very careful of the words we say about our brothers and sisters when we aren’t really in the know of what is going on, and don’t know the hearts of those involved. Those directly involved may have something to say, but the hundreds of bystanders on blogs probably ought to temper their enthusiasm. Seriously: we all have to answer for EVERYTHING WE SAY some day when we stand in front of God. Go back and look at some of the things said about other people. It should make us humble and fearful.

    I agree that we should be careful, in that we should check facts. But once the truth is evident, it becomes cowardly not to respond. It is more a love of the status quo, avoiding difficulty, staying safe, not to respond. The Bible says to speak the truth. It also galls me to hear members saying we should be “humble and fearful” when the leaders are anything but. But they can count on you to be, and that is how they get away with what they do. I’m afraid that I’ve lost patience with Christians, with their desire to keep their heads stuck in the sand and pretend. One of the gifts of the spirit is discernment.

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  124. Hurt: I want someone to tell me I shouldn’t feel evil for delighting in this. Maybe delighting isn’t the proper word…sorry…rambling comment. I don’t ever comment on these blog sites but something has made me spew here today. Maybe this is the start of true healing. I hope so.

    Perhaps what you are feeling is *validated*.

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  125. H.B.,

    “James MacDonald’s preaching and teaching have had a seriously GOOD impact in my life and prompted me to make needed changes. It has produced good fruit in me and in others I’ve introduced to the podcast/materials. I would be crushed if his ministry was destroyed and went away.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so as long as it’s good for you personally, you’re ok with christian leaders who are corrupt, who exploit people and their donations for self-enrichment, who manipulate, deceive, lie, and allegedly cover up sexual abuse of children by a staff member?

    never mind the consequences of the unethical choices made by these christian leaders which impact others destructively. it’s good and positive for you, and that’s really all that matters, so you’ll keep quiet and enable it all. you apparently care more about your own ‘sinlessness’ than you do about institutional corruption in the name of God and the harm it brings to others, and to the cause of what is right and good and honest and true.

    honest truth: ‘you’ are one of the reasons i no longer identify as ‘evangelical’ or even ‘Christian’.

    my muslim, hindu, buddhist and atheist friends and family have much higher standards for themselves and those they associate with.

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  126. Friend,

    “ it’s basically making ourselves more available and nimble “

    Can you say spin,to quote one of my favorite non Calvinist professors , “ we all use the same words, but some of us have different dictionaries “

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  127. Kim,

    I’m just a TV viewer who happens to enjoy watching James MacDonald, and I appreciate your defense of your Pastor because all of us, whoever we are who have received salvation through Jesus Christ, are saved solely by the grace of God.

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  128. Hey H.B you say… “I would be crushed if his ministry was destroyed and went away”….there in lies the problem, You’re Trusting in a man,and following a man’s teaching. We dont follow mans teaching we follow Christ, it looks to me like Pastor worship…remember the scribes and pharisees ,and even the high priest, Jesus didn’t rebuke them so much for what they taught he rebuked them for what they did and for there self serving motives….if you really love James McDonald you Should want him to repent so that he might get right with God….not for you and your benefit but for Jmac and his wellbeing.

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  129. elastigirl: so as long as it’s good for you personally, you’re ok with christian leaders who are corrupt, who exploit people and their donations for self-enrichment, who manipulate, deceive, lie … never mind the consequences of the unethical choices made by these christian leaders which impact others destructively. it’s good and positive for you, and that’s really all that matters, so you’ll keep quiet and enable it all

    And such is the spell cast over followers in a cult of personality. You’ll hear them talk about what the minister and his ministry have done for them, how important his teachings have been, how excited they are are to be involved in such a community … but seldom do they refer to what Jesus has done and is doing in their lives. They talk about an encounter with a man who has meant so much to them, but do not give testimony to an encounter with the living Christ. Charisma mixed with deception is a deadly potion if it keeps you from knowing Jesus.

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  130. Michael:
    Kim,

    I’m just a TV viewer who happens to enjoy watching James MacDonald, and I appreciate your defense of your Pastor because all of us, whoever we are who have received salvation through Jesus Christ, are saved solely by the grace of God.

    Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is true. But it is also true that regardless of how James MacDonald or anyone else is saved (assuming he is saved and merely a confused, damaged person rather than a full blown fraud) is wholly irrelevant to anything being discussed here. Being saved by the grace of God is not an excuse for engaging in tyrannical behavior, for telling outright lies, for filing frivolous lawsuits, for abusing people on staff, for enriching yourself in the name of God and placing heavy burdens on parishioners who are not nearly as wealthy as you to finance your affluent lifestyle. One has nothing to do with the other.

    If Mr. MacDonald is innocent of these allegations and all these people, former associates and leaders who’ve worked beside him and know him from the perspective of an insider who sees the private man (rather than one watching on TV or from the collapsible chairs in the audience who sees the public image) are lying, then Mr. MacDonald has a lot to answer for because he is letting his reputation and the reputation of the church there be wrongfully tainted, and he just dropped the lawsuit that could’ve set the record straight on rather paltry grounds, a mere discovery request. If, however, the allegations are true and Mr. MacDonald is what they say he is and he dropped this matter to prevent more truth about him being told, then it matters very much what sort of man he is and God’s grace would not justify MacDonald abusing those who follow that God. Otherwise, the Apostle Paul should’ve retracted everything he said about the superapostles in II Corinthians 11 and told people to let their abusiveness and rapaciousness go–it being covered by “God’s grace.”

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  131. Friend: If only it felt like a process. I hope the UMC can find a loving resolution instead of a multi-year divorce and property grab. I hope the old mainlines are stable, and not slowly dying. When any church has an unseemly fight, or a pattern of abuse, Christendom gets smaller because of Christians’ behavior.

    We attended HBC for a few months when we lived in Chicagoland. We left and went to a different non-denominational church.

    In our new area, we tried out a few, and attended the local non-denominational growing-fast type church. It took us a bit longer, but we left that too. For many reasons.

    For the first time ever, we are attending a UMC church. It is conservative and rock solid. The pastor last week prepared us all for the upcoming UMC convention. I think it possible that he is preparing us for a schism. He has asked us to pray every day for the Lord’s will to be done. Please do the same.

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  132. Max,

    Max….ya know why they don’t talk about Jesus and their relationship
    with Him??? It’s because they are so busy reading books on the Bible vs reading the Gospel for themselves! They get all hyped up and enthralled with the latest and greatest author and almost worship the author instead of the Savior. It just blows my mind. When anyone wants me to read the newest book about the Bible…I actually cringe!!!
    Hey Max….I always agree with the things you say on this blog! I feel we are kindred spirits!!

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  133. funyun: For the first time ever, we are attending a UMC church. It is conservative and rock solid. The pastor last week prepared us all for the upcoming UMC convention. I think it possible that he is preparing us for a schism. He has asked us to pray every day for the Lord’s will to be done. Please do the same.

    Having gone through two painful schisms (one within a congregation, one on a bigger scale), I have prayed about this and will continue to do so. In both cases, the churches eventually stabilized. My great hope is for reconciliation, but people have to want that.

    Genuine listening can help a congregation deepen its insights. Announcements and preaching are valuable, but they don’t give people a chance to respond. I know a pastor who met with every small group in the church to talk about a divisive topic. There was no hint of, “If they do X, we will do Y.” These meetings let people air a broad range of views among members they knew well. Some people ended up leaving—and they were missed!—but that congregation did not split in two, and it stayed in its tradition.

    My own bias is for people to stay together and wrestle through doctrinal differences. Not sure I’m a great reformer…

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  134. Watchman on the Wall,
    They prefer to think of the essence of faith in terms of doctrines about grace, rather than a direct experience of Grace – an encounter with the living Christ. They let jots and tittles get in the way of a relationship with Jesus.

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  135. Max: They let jots and tittles get in the way of a relationship with Jesus.

    I didn’t get it at the time, but I truly doubt that my former Reformed pastor had a personal relationship with Jesus. He barely had a personal relationship with his wife or children. It was all doctrine, building the kingdom (Dominionism), and combating all that big, bad evil that is every other church and every person who is not ‘one of us’. It was very unhealthy, and once my eyes were opened I realized what I had been missing – the genuine relationship with my loving God, which had sustained me all of my life. Somehow I had been seduced into trading that in for a nifty set of doctrines that gave me a guilt-free life, allowing me to be as controlling, judgmental and scornful as my pastor, if I so desired. I didn’t, and was so happy to get my God and my life back.

    I suppose if we ‘Dones’ all got together it would be a ‘church’ and then we would be right back where we started. Sigh. It’s hard to give up a lifetime habit like church; but even harder to have your soul slowly die.

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  136. TS00: … relationship with my loving God … I had been seduced into trading that in for a nifty set of doctrines …

    The most disturbing thing to me about the Calvinization of the Southern Baptist Convention, is that the New Calvinists have been successful in diminishing long-standing SBC beliefs about soul competency and priesthood of ‘the’ believer (both are clearly taught in the Bible). Accompanying that has been a minimization of individual Christian experience. You won’t hear “personal relationship with Christ” proclaimed from the flood of New Calvinist pulpits sweeping through SBC, particularly at the YRR church plants with “lead” pastors fresh out of seminary. They have reduced the essence of Christianity to doctrines ‘about’ grace, rather than emphasizing a direct experience ‘of’ Grace. Having an encounter with the living Christ is not in their vocabulary. What happened to Jesus?! If/when the New Calvinist bubble breaks, one of the greatest mission fields on the planet for the Cross of Christ will be among the confused and disillusioned masses exiting SBC’s reformed churches.

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  137. Max,

    It will be a challenging mission field, because, based on my experiences (I used to be an elder in a neo-calvinist church that imploded), you’ll be dealing with a lot of people who are committed cynics and atheists.

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  138. TS00I suppose if we ‘Dones’ all got together it would be a ‘church’ and then we would be right back where we started. Sigh. It’s hard to give up a lifetime habit like church; but even harder to have your soul slowly die.

    You already are that Church, and nothing you can do will change that, because the only true church is the one that is made up of every lover of Jesus. You’re probably right that if we all got together (I’m also a “done”—haven’t attended church in 5 years, but I’m still a follower of Jesus), we’d probably find some way to mess it all up and set up hierarchies and man-made structures and repeat the mistakes of those who drove us out of the formal church all over again.

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  139. Law Prof,

    Btw, glad to see you back. I’ve missed your insightful comments. I’m still struggling, after several years, with replacing a lifetime existence that centered in and around the institutional church, especially since the spouse is still there.

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  140. One thing that really doesn’t make sense with the “logic” of dropping radio coverage is that radio exposure can sometimes be what gets people to start listening to say Podcasts and other items. I doubt most marketing takes just one approach. I could see cutting back on radio especially where you maybe thought it wasn’t cost effective but not stopping it entirely.

    Thus another reason to believe that this cancellation really wasn’t James MacDonald’s choice but was preemptive by MacDonald and a way to try and save face. It is like a quarterback retiring who is up there in years before he gets cut.

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  141. Law Prof: You already are that Church

    I saw this on a tee-shirt years ago and think of it often “I don’t go to church. I am the Church.”

    (Welcome back, Law Prof! We’ve missed your wisdom.)

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  142. Max: What happened to Jesus?! If/when the New Calvinist bubble breaks, one of the greatest mission fields on the planet for the Cross of Christ will be among the confused and disillusioned masses exiting SBC’s reformed churches.

    Assuming they haven’t been vaccinated into automatic “Take Your God And Shove It” reaction.

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  143. Max,

    Hi Max! Thanks for the kind words, but sometimes I feel anti-wise. I took about a semester off because I was so blasted busy. Course overload, etc., etc. Good to see you!

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