Statement by Dallas Jenkins, Former Harvest Bible Chapel Executive Leadership Team Member

“Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever going to be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?” – Taylor Swift

__________

Chicago is witnessing the implosions of two famous mega churches due to the allegations against their leadership pastors. First was Willow Creek Community Church and lead pastor, Bill Hybels. This was followed quickly by Harvest Bible Chapel and lead pastor James MacDonald who was recently fired.

Today, CBS Chicago featured Former Harvest Bible Chapel Members Want $72,000 In Donations Refunded, After Pastor James MacDonald Fired

Their strong Christian beliefs led Scott and Marsha Thompson to volunteer at Harvest Bible Chapel, and donate more than $72,000 over the course of several years.

Now they want it back.

“We find out that the pastor is living in a $2 million house,” he said.

…Thompson started questioning MacDonald’s spending in 2006, when he saw the pastor’s home in Inverness featured in “Chicago” magazine.

“You drive over there, and sure enough there’s the house that’s in the picture from the magazine article. Yep, that’s the house on a private lake,” Thompson said.

MacDonald’s lavish lifestyle drove Thompson to leave the church. Thompson walked away from Harvest in 2013. Why is he going public six years later?

“All this is coming out that millions of dollars potentially has been mishandled,” he said.

I don’t blame the Thompsons. In fact, I raised my coffee cup in their honor this morning and said to the pugs, “May they get their money back.”

I am watching the SBC be accused of following in the footsteps of the pedophile priests of the Catholic Church. Bill Hybels, miracle seeker-driven leader, stands credibly accused of sexual harassment and molestation. Now James MacDonald joins the fracas, adding his own peculiar vulgarities to the mix.

There was a letter by Dean Butters that was leaked this past week. Within that letter was something that broke my heart and caused me to realize that James MacDonald is a mean, churlish, old man that should never be allowed anywhere near a pulpit. This disturbing senior pastor made fun of other HBC church leaders for their physical attributes that he deemed not up to snuff with his obvious sartorial sense and unsurpassed personal good looks…

I couldn’t post that letter due to my absolute disgust at the depths to which MacDonald has sunk. I’d call him a bottom feeder but I like lobster too much..So he’s lower than that.

I was then presented with opportunity to post another letter that gives insight without including insulting and painful observations about others. Dallas Jenkins was a former leader at Harvest Bible Chapel. Here are some of my running thoughts of the statement.

  • MacDonald gave Mark Driscoll $50,000? I think this is how these pastors maintain tribal loyalties. CJ Mahaney spread $$$ which brought him years of support from the Calvinista leaders. I am willing to bet that MacDonald has been on the horn with Driscoll to see how he transitioned to Scottsdale after Mars Hill imploded. My understanding is that Driscoll also consulted with Gateway.
  • There is no question that MacDonald was running the elders. They existed to serve him as *yes* men and in that respect, they are quite accomplished.
  • In the last two years, 75% of the Executive Leadership team has left HBC. I guess the other 25% are hoping to get some plum positions. (Warning, men, the money supply may be drying up.)
  • The elders would tell people to leave quietly in order to *protect their family.* Apparently, many of the leaders sent their kids to Harvest Academy and there is fear that their kids will be thrown out of school.
  • The Harvest Academy high school incident gets discussed quite a bit. Apparently MacDonald had a major meltdown on the stage, yelling so loudly that his spit could be felt by those sitting in the front row of the auditorium. Then, he apologized and said the would teach the high school Bible class. He lied. He didn’t. That is one video that I wold love to post. Surely some student got it on their phone.

I am interested in seeing what TWW readers will pull out if Jenkins’ letter.

There is little question in my mind that James MacDonald will flip the bird at Harvest Bible Chapel and start a new church enterprise quicker than you can say “leather jacket.” What MacDonald has done must be documented, not only for the education of his next set of *followers* but for posterity. When people look back on the history of the American evangelical movement in the first years of the third millennium, I sure hope they will shake their heads and ask why we put up with this nonsense for so long.

Dallas Jenkins


Comments

Statement by Dallas Jenkins, Former Harvest Bible Chapel Executive Leadership Team Member — 341 Comments

  1. Info on the photo is apparently wrong. Harvest Bible Chapel issued a statement today: “Pastor James MacDonald came upon a sleeping bear while walking in the back yard of his modest home today. Concerned for the vulnerable animal’s safety, he left his own gun by its side. The bear was later seen using the gun to defend itself against local mice and rabbits.”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  2. Heard somewhere; “He’ll never be a great man.”

    As this dumpster fire continues to grow, how could anyone with a scintilla of Christianity continue to support this “ministry”? The evidence points to a scam designed to benefit one person only. People should get out while they and their families still have some kind of faith. The damage he has done is incalculable. Look to your own flocks people of HBC. Forget about the so called leaders. Good Grief.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  3. I don’t know if it’s just that I got old enough and wise enough to start seeing it or cynical and hardened as I got older, but after going through the 1980s and 1990s able to find what I thought were decent churches, for over a decade I haven’t to find a place that isn’t abusive, heretical, led by a narcissist or all the the above. What in the world is going on?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  4. Law Prof:
    I don’t know if it’s just that I got old enough and wise enough to start seeing it or cynical and hardened as I got older, but after going through the 1980s and 1990s able to find what I thought were decent churches, for over a decade I haven’t to find a place that isn’t abusive, heretical, led by a narcissist or all the the above. What in the world is going on?

    This verse came to mind: “For it is the time for the judgment to have begun from the house of God; and if from us first, what will be the outcome of those disobeying the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) The business-first model that seems so pervasive and knocks down just about any scrutiny until there is videotaped evidence would seem to fit somewhere in that spectrum, no?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  5. Law Prof,

    I know exactly what you mean. I knew of one really good church in Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill Bible Church) for years ago. However, a Calvinist fanboy and wannabe celebrity showed up spouting Piper, Driscoll and insisted on hiring a guy from Sovereign Grace’s mothership-CLC. We got the heck out and it took us a couple of years to find our way to the Lutheran church. I would be interested in hearing about churches your tried or are trying. Your story matches what I hear from lots of people.

    Of course, I’m a few miles from SEBTS and JD Greear’s church is on every street corner, along with all the boys at SEBTS who don’t want to leave the area so there are popup churches in every strip mall.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  6. “My understanding is that Driscoll also consulted with Gateway.” (Dee)

    Robert Morris sits on the Board of Driscoll’s new church … or at least he did – Driscoll no longer lists Board members on his new website.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  7. It is long past time Jenkins spoke up. Some might even suggest it seems suspiciously tied to new disclosures concerning films he made, gambling issues which have also concerned both Dallas and his father, etc. Who can say? There is more than enough dirt throughout this enterprise to make one doubt the integrity or honesty of anyone who was ever long a part of it. Sure, an innocent, upright person could be naively drawn into something they thought was worthy. But how long, under the sort of behavior he and others depict, can one be excused for overlooking the facts? And for keeping one’s mouth shut on the way out?

    Much as I seek to be gracious and forgiving, it is extremely difficult to accept these new ‘confessions’ at face value. All of these men, who were deeply involved long-term under visible, ungodly leadership have a lot to answer for. At the very least, they need to reveal ALL they know, including leading the charge to open all of the financial books, including known and secret accounts. Talk is cheap – let’s see some action.

    Dallas has at long last come out, along with a long list of other former top Harvest leadrs. It’s not as if they have any other choice, as the truth continues to trickle out. Now let’s see him use his powerful personality and influence to secure real transparency, healing and change for the thousands of people he claims to care about.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  8. Pingback: Quote for the day | Civil Commotion

  9. “What MacDonald has done must be documented, not only for the education of his next set of *followers* but for posterity.” (Dee)

    Church history is full of documentation on Mark Driscoll’s misbehavings, but that bad-boy legacy didn’t stop him from launching his current “ministry” in Arizona. I doubt that the facts will stop MacDonald from making an unrepentant comeback. Churchgoers in 21st century America are just too gullible to keep these folks out of the pulpit. JMac will tap posterity for prosperity yet again as soon as he reinvents himself. The beat goes on until Jesus returns. Praise God for TWW and other watchblogs who do their best to get the word out on these guys, but you can’t stop the spiritually illiterate from attending their exciting churches. Rescuing those who have ears to hear is the best any of us can do.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  10. Max,

    Makes me sad to think it’s so. Maybe we should have been, and still should be, picketing in front of Driscoll’s new church, handing out pamphlets including some of his more famous woman-degrading statements? Or would they even care?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  11. TS00: Or would they even care?

    Give them what they want in the present, and they won’t care about the past. Cool bands, espresso coffee, “relevant” sermons, fun and fellowship, etc. I had a churchgoer tell me once in a Bible Study to “Lighten up Max. I believe if Jesus was here today, He would be sitting around the campfire drinking beer with the boys!” Max responding properly (that’s all I will say).

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  12. From Dean Butter’s letter:

    “Reported that Camp Harvest lost over $200,000 in 2016. In reality, it lost about $29,000. They kept +/-$170,000 in credit card payment from campers in the general fund and showed it as revenue. This helped to hit the revenue target and qualify for Executive bonuses.”

    I am generally ignorant regarding legal or business matters, but isn’t this illegal? I hope somebody has kept good documentation somewhere of all such dealings that could be produced as evidence.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  13. Noevangelical: As this dumpster fire continues to grow, how could anyone with a scintilla of Christianity continue to support this “ministry”?

    It’s obvious that there’s not enough scintilla of evidence to convict most of them of being Christian. To the American church which is playing games with the gospel – in both pulpit and pew – the Apostle John still shouts “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  14. What’s chilling is you can still see the cult hold harvest has on him and others as he desribes his felling in the beginning of the letter. Its repulsive that he has to be in fear of his kids kicked out of HCA. It’s a good letter Dallas but would have been so much more impactful 2 months ago or even 1 month ago. You have also put a few of the people fighting for the cause of God change through the ringer with some of your comments to them on twitter fb. But it’s ok it’s been part of this whole course but it would be nice if you could go back and reflect your motivations in those comments I can’t speak for you but kinda think it had to do with some of your cult bonding you experienced at harvest. And that tattoo you should seriously get it removed. I sincerely thank you for this letter and the emotional turmoil you overcame to write it. It’s ok to admit more of you need to to completely clear the air. God bless you

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  15. What’s chilling is you can still see the cult hold harvest has on him and others as he desribes his felling in the beginning of the letter. Its repulsive that he has to be in fear of his kids kicked out of HCA. It’s a good letter Dallas but would have been so much more impactful 2 months ago or even 1 month ago. You have also put a few of the people fighting for the cause of God change through the ringer with some of your comments to them on twitter fb. But it’s ok it’s been part of this whole course but it would be nice if you could go back and reflect your motivations in those comments I can’t speak for you but kinda think it had to do with some of your cult bonding you experienced at harvest. And that tattoo you should seriously get it removed. I sincerely thank you for this letter and the emotional turmoil you overcame to write it. It’s ok to admit more of you need to to completely clear the air. God bless you

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  16. What’s chilling is you can still see the cult hold harvest has on him and others as he desribes his felling in the beginning of the letter. Its repulsive that he has to be in fear of his kids kicked out of HCA. It’s a good letter Dallas but would have been so much more impactful 2 months ago or even 1 month ago. You have also put a few of the people fighting for the cause of God change through the ringer with some of your comments to them on twitter fb. But it’s ok it’s been part of this whole course but it would be nice if you could go back and reflect your motivations in those comments I can’t speak for you but kinda think it had to do with some of your cult bonding you experienced at harvest. And that tattoo you should seriously get it removed. I sincerely thank you for this letter and the emotional turmoil you overcame to write it. It’s ok to admit more of you need to to completely clear the air. God bless you

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  17. Someone should also dig into the incident regarding the video of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ that was shown to HCA ELEMENTARY school children without any warning or notice to parents in the first year of the school’s history during Holy Week. I was there (our kids went there for 2 too long years) and it was unreal what went on during and after that incident. That incident was only the tip of the iceberg.

    And that fourth bullet point: ‘The elders would tell people to leave quietly in order to *protect their family.* Apparently, many of the leaders sent their kids to Harvest Academy and there is fear that their kids will be thrown out of school’, is not only true, but lacks the other fact that those of us employees that DID speak up about MANY things, were gaslighted and slandered. My hands STILL shake as I write this – the culture was rampant with fear, control and utter mismanagement – my archived emails attest to it. Indeed, I tremble considering even posting this brief comment for fear of retribution.

    Law Prof: I don’t know if it’s just that I got old enough and wise enough to start seeing it or cynical and hardened as I got older, but after going through the 1980s and 1990s able to find what I thought were decent churches, for over a decade I haven’t to find a place that isn’t abusive, heretical, led by a narcissist or all the the above. What in the world is going on?

    I’d only add that the scar and damage to my faith as a result of Harvest is real, deeply painful, and permanent. I adhere to the ‘never-say-never’ adage but can’t even remotely imagine EVER being involved with a church again. I’m holding out hope that my faith in God will survive, but truth be told, some days that seems uncertain as well (and save yourself the time writing me about how my faith ‘must not have been that deep’ if indeed I’m struggling with God and Jesus).

    I share this for all who, like me, are overcome with new sadness, pain and loss amidst the HBC, Willow, Catholic church, ECFA, SBC, GFA, etc. etc…. It has been a comfort reading here (and at TED, Julie Roys, and other sites revealing the truth) of others who are working through this.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  18. Dallas Jenkins is in complete denial.

    This has been going on now for 12 years. This place needs to be shut down.

    Whatever ministry is going on at Harvest, is going on as a cult. Every single person there “loves” Harvest so much that they can’t leave??

    I was there for 10 years and my daughters both attended Harvest Christian Academy and I had been asked to consider eldership…we left in 2012 after repeated warnings from former elders.

    ANYONE who is still in that place who is not a child or a new believer is complicit and participated in shunning all who left.

    The place is not worth saving. The true believers need to either find a local church or seek spiritual counseling because they have a VERY warped sense of church.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  19. Friend,

    *the church is in a happier healthier place as a result of the accountable actions of James up urs Sherwood like to MacDonald. We the elders fully support him in everything he does. We swore our allegiance to him.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  20. Friend:
    Info on the photo is apparently wrong. Harvest Bible Chapel issued a statement today: “Pastor James MacDonald came upon a sleeping bear while walking in the back yard of his modest home today. Concerned for the vulnerable animal’s safety, he left his own gun by its side. The bear was later seen using the gun to defend itself against local mice and rabbits.”

    PASTOR has to Keep Up With The (Paige) Pattersons, you know.
    (As well as send a message to any possible Dissidents.)
    “ME GREAT WHITE HUNTER! ME MAN! RAWR!”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  21. Max,

    “I doubt that the facts will stop MacDonald from making an unrepentant comeback. Churchgoers in 21st century America are just too gullible to keep these folks out of the pulpit.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    this is because the powerbrokers have the mic.

    and they have everyone scared spitless that if they vocalize their concerns about what is unethical in their church, & in “their tribe”

    they will disappoint God,
    be a spiritual failure,
    “be in sin”,
    incur God’s wrath,
    bad things will happen to them,
    and all eternity will be jeopardized

    none of this is true.

    the powerbrokers have manipulated everyone to heavily invest their finances, their time, energy, their relationships, and their own life in the institution. and purportedly, eternity depends on each individual institution and the collective one.

    the powerbrokers have everyone brainwashed that the insitution is too big to fail. it must be protected.

    this is a crock o’ $h|t.

    but ultimately it means people are brainwashed into being acquiescent, passive, accommodating, maintaining their silence.

    all of this is deeply regrettable. it is wrong.

    mostly because God doesn’t need professional christians and their institution in the first place.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  22. elastigirl,

    I suspect that all of this is true, and more. I suspect, from many comments of those involved, that there was an actual mafia-like aspect of JMac’s control. It is likely that he deliberately sought ‘the chips’ he could cash in on anyone who might be in a position to spill the beans. This could be real or fabricated, such as recordings of people, say, playing the Name Game, or threats of kicking their kids out, planting child porn on their devices or otherwise destroying their reputations.

    If such practices exist, someone needs to out them once and for all, rather than making elusive statements about the ‘culture of fear’. Exactly what were people afraid of? And I doubt it was simply losing their job, as many of them voluntarily left.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  23. Max: Praise God for TWW and other watchblogs who do their best to get the word out on these guys, but you can’t stop the spiritually illiterate from attending their exciting churches. Rescuing those who have ears to hear is the best any of us can do.

    And if they refuse to see that these guys are nothing more than carnival barkers and mountebanks?…
    They deserve each other.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  24. Muff Potter: And if they refuse to see that these guys are nothing more than carnival barkers and mountebanks?…
    They deserve each other.

    Unfortunate, but true. As God himself never forces anyone to believe in him, or acknowledge the Truth, we cannot expect to be able to persuade others to see what, to us, seems so obvious. Many do not seek truth, but whatever best tickles their ears.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  25. Friend:
    Info on the photo is apparently wrong. Harvest Bible Chapel issued a statement today: “Pastor James MacDonald came upon a sleeping bear while walking in the back yard of his modest home today. Concerned for the vulnerable animal’s safety, he left his own gun by its side. The bear was later seen using the gun to defend itself against local mice and rabbits.”

    Runnin’ bear dove in the water, little white dove did the same
    And they swam out to each other through the swirling stream they came
    As their hands touched and their lips met, the ragin’ river pulled them down…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  26. JDV: This verse came to mind: “For it is the time for the judgment to have begun from the house of God; and if from us first, what will be the outcome of those disobeying the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) The business-first model that seems so pervasive and knocks down just about any scrutiny until there is videotaped evidence would seem to fit somewhere in that spectrum, no?

    It’s “Gresham’s law” applied to religion: “bad drives out good”. The churches have become “the world”. Narcissistic business CEOs mistreat their subordinates and the nastiness flows downhill within the enterprise. In church context, it may even be worse than the secular business context because in addition to the objective institutional power wielded by the narcissist CEO, there is the presumption of divine authority which legitimates the misuse of power.

    I read an article yesterday about small mainstream churches driven to the wall by the migration to the megas being forced to lease their “vacant during the week” facilities to small businesses in order to generate enough income to keep the doors open. I wonder whether it might not be better to simply abandon the entire “property-owning” paradigm and return to the original practice of meeting in public places (for large groups) and in homes (for small groups).

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  27. elastigirl,
    “but ultimately it means people are brainwashed into being acquiescent, passive, accommodating, maintaining their silence. all of this is deeply regrettable. it is wrong. mostly because God doesn’t need professional christians and their institution in the first place.”

    So do you think this is something like Stockholm Syndrome? Like they are so far in and so much of their identity comes from being part of the group that the thought of just leaving would be like jumping off of a cliff?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  28. Noevangelical: So do you think this is something like Stockholm Syndrome? Like they are so far in and so much of their identity comes from being part of the group that the thought of just leaving would be like jumping off of a cliff?

    From all the people I know in those churches, I think that’s exactly what happens!

    I will add that I know several women who want out badly, but their husbands refuse. These churches treat women so badly, but promise men all sorts of things (that will probably never happen) to keep the men coming.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  29. Fred Adams former Harvest CFO has a serious gambling addiction. Dallas, his dad Jerry Jenkins, and James MacDonald also played poker together. I just wonder how much of my tithes went to support their gambling problem.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  30. Ishy: Probably took over where my favorite Vietnamese restaurant used to be…

    America needs more Vietnamese restaurants than New Calvinist church plants. I never thought I would say such a thing about a church plant … but, these young reformers are more about planting reformed theology, rather than Gospel churches.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  31. Pingback: Linkathon! - Phoenix Preacher

  32. David: James MacDonald … played poker … I just wonder how much of my tithes went to support … gambling problem

    “If someone aspires to the office of elder, he … must be above reproach … free from the love of money …”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  33. Ishy: Noevangelical: So do you think this is something like Stockholm Syndrome? Like they are so far in and so much of their identity comes from being part of the group that the thought of just leaving would be like jumping off of a cliff?

    From all the people I know in those churches, I think that’s exactly what happens!

    I will add that I know several women who want out badly, but their husbands refuse. These churches treat women so badly, but promise men all sorts of things (that will probably never happen) to keep the men coming.

    Agreed. Have seen the exact same thing. Many needy men get their egos stroked, while the women see through the charade.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  34. elastigirl: this is because the powerbrokers have the mic

    Reminds me of something an old saint whispered to me on our way out of a contentious church business meeting … “You shouldn’t give the devil the microphone.”

    elastigirl: the powerbrokers have everyone brainwashed that the institution is too big to fail

    Same thing church leaders told Mars Hill members after Driscoll’s exit … and Willow Creek after Hybels’ exit.

    “.. If their purpose or endeavor is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them …” (Acts 5:38-39)

    Driscoll was stopped … Hybels was stopped … MacDonald was stopped. Their “churches” were of human origin, they failed. No “ministry” is too big to fail if it is not from God.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  35. TS00: Agreed. Have seen the exact same thing. Many needy men get their egos stroked, while the women see through the charade.

    Ego-stroking that includes “WOMAN, SUBMIT!!!! GOD SAITH!!!!!”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  36. David: Fred Adams former Harvest CFO has a serious gambling addiction. Dallas, his dad Jerry Jenkins, and James MacDonald also played poker together. I just wonder how much of my tithes went to support their gambling problem.

    David, this is something that I think needs much closer examination. Didn’t Dallas – or is there another Jenkins son? – at one time run an online poker site? It might be handy (for someone in high places with a gambling addiction) to have an insider to assist them in hiding their identity or amount of activity. Just a thought.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  37. Max: America needs more Vietnamese restaurants than New Calvinist church plants.

    Good analogy, since Vietnamese restaurants tend to be small and committed to authenticity, without extorting the customer.

    What bothers me about the megas is not just the bad theology and oppression, but the sheer size. Too many are like big box stores that shutter all of (the little churches on) Main Street, and then close their own doors forever.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  38. elastigirl: but ultimately it means people are brainwashed into being acquiescent, passive, accommodating, maintaining their silence.

    This is called “domestication”.
    Like livestock for slaughter so Pastor can eat mutton until he bursts like Mr Creosote.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  39. Ishy: These churches treat women so badly, but promise men all sorts of things

    Matt Chandler says “I preach to men.” He calls female believers at TVC “our girls” while he’s ensnares them with the “beauty of complementarity.”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  40. NJ:
    “CJ Mahaney spread $$$ which brought him years of support from the Calvinista leaders.”

    I initially read that as “…bought him years of support…”.Same thing I guess.

    “Every man has his price, or a guy like me couldn’t exist.”
    — Howard Hughes

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  41. Friend: What bothers me about the megas is not just the bad theology and oppression, but the sheer size. Too many are like big box stores that shutter all of (the little churches on) Main Street, and then close their own doors forever.

    And whose plan would that be?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  42. Max: Friend: What bothers me about the megas is not just the bad theology and oppression, but the sheer size. Too many are like big box stores that shutter all of (the little churches on) Main Street, and then close their own doors forever.

    And whose plan would that be?

    This is indeed the plan of Satan, IMO, but when you try to suggest such a thing you are usually scoffed at as a conspiracy theorist. Personally, I neither know, nor do I think it much matters, how many, if any mortals are ‘in’ on the conspiracy – I still believe it exists and is succeeding admirably. Men can be easily fooled, seduced, persuaded that they are doing ‘God’s work’, blackmailed, etc. into playing a role in a ‘conspiracy’ they do not even grasp. That, in my humble, fallible opinion, explains much of the evil that has taken place in this world.

    This often brings to my mind the movie ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’. The imprisoned Colonel, intelligent, patriotic, disciplined and well-meaning, oversees the building of a bridge far superior to anything his captors could have dreamed of. His men are perplexed, but only at the very end does he realize his foolishness, crying, ‘My God, what have I done?’ before aiming his dying body at the detonator to blow up his glorious creation.

    Take the worst despots history records – all Satan has to do is convince them of their right and ability to ‘save the world’ and rid it of its pestilences (unfortunately these are usually men). Nothing is more dangerous than a tyrant who genuinely believes in his own false mission. Then add in the many who are in it for whatever personal gain they covet . . . I personally doubt that MacDonald was ever sincere, but it is likely that many of his deceived henchmen were.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  43. Noevangelical,

    “So do you think this is something like Stockholm Syndrome? Like they are so far in and so much of their identity comes from being part of the group that the thought of just leaving would be like jumping off of a cliff?”
    +++++++++++++++

    i think we could analyze this for days, weeks, months….

    part of it a fear of the outside that is purposely cultivated in church environments. I’d say largely because the leaders themselves have been told to believe this.

    fear of the evil, scary worldly “world”. words like “unsaved”, which always has the connotation of someone to be wary of. in talking with my octogenarian missionary-kid dad, i hear words like “the heathen” (it makes me sick, yet i love him with all my heart and soul).

    you mention “they are so far in and so much of their identity comes from being part of the group that the thought of just leaving would be like jumping off of a cliff?”.

    makes me think of being in a warm shower or warm bath, you just don’t want to get out.

    or being in a job that is problematic and you know there is something that pays more, treats you better, and is more up your alley — yet there is still comfort in what is familiar. and the thought of gathering up one’s gumption and taking risks is tiring. so you don’t.

    But adding the concept of God to the mix —

    *God is inhabiting the warm water, so i’m mystically being helped by it and on my way to becoming a Superhero for God…

    *you are God’s only light at the place of work. God put you there, who are you to take yourself out? trust God and not your own self. don’t do anything just because you want to (that would be selfish) but wait until you hear from God.

    of course lightning bolt messages from God come about as often as seas parting.

    Noevangelical, let’s get a bunch of our favorite beverages, cheese, olives, chocolate, cigars and a candle and we’ll continue on…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  44. Neither Dean Butters nor I wanted our letters published. Our goals in writing these letters were accomplished, and it’s unfortunate that people are making them public. There have been many people demanding our statements be made public, and now that they are, are rejoicing in that, all while commenting from anonymous online handles.

    I wish that the decision to be a public figure in this scandal was left to the individual, not to third parties.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  45. Mark Thomson,

    It was leaked. I just found out about it a few minutes ago. It was given to the elders two months ago. The posting of it on this website is unfortunate, as are many of the false rumors in the comments both here and on Twitter from anonymous people.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  46. TS00: Nothing is more dangerous than a tyrant who genuinely believes in his own false mission.

    You don’t even have to be a “tyrant” to fall for that scheme of the devil. There are some 30,000 Christian denominations and parachurch organizations in the world. Most were started by a mere man who was convinced that his mission had more of a corner on the Truth than the rest. Many are passionate about their cause, but it is far too often found to be a misplaced passion. Being close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades. Lord knows we’ve had enough “explosions” in the modern church. When will the madness end?!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  47. Samuel Conner: I wonder whether it might not be better to simply abandon the entire “property-owning” paradigm and return to the original practice of meeting in public places (for large groups) and in homes (for small groups).

    I’m sure it depends on the setting and the ministry of the church. For some, that would be a great option. Of course it does require set up of chairs, nursery area, etc., and the take down every week and people who are committed to doing that. For our setting and ministries, it would be very difficult. We do use the facility a lot during the week and make it available for local schools to use. Also little league and some other community services – no charge. It is not elaborate but adequate for what we seek to do for God’s Kingdom. It allows us to pour more money into local ministries and needs as well as overseas ministries.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  48. Samuel Conner: I read an article yesterday about small mainstream churches driven to the wall by the migration to the megas being forced to lease their “vacant during the week” facilities to small businesses in order to generate enough income to keep the doors open. I wonder whether it might not be better to simply abandon the entire “property-owning” paradigm and return to the original practice of meeting in public places (for large groups) and in homes (for small groups).

    My new son-in-law is a United Methodist pastor. He relocated here from another state to marry my daughter, and pastors a small mainstream church that has been struggling to keep its doors open the past few years. (In less than a year, he has doubled attendance.) His newest outreach into the community is that he will be partnering with a music minister from another local church and they are starting a church service in a bar on Sunday evenings. Conversational-type sermons, contemporary worship music, come-as-you-are. They aren’t slated to start until May, and the people who have heard about it are begging him to start it sooner. To me, this type of service is more authentic than so many of the others out there.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  49. Regarding the $2m house in Inverness: Let us never forget how TED exposed the story of how MacDonald agreed to move to a smaller house in Elgin, and published the location/pictures to prove what a sacrifice he was making… and secretly (via a trust, so his name wasn’t on it) secured another mansion instead.

    https://theelephantsdebt.com/2017/06/19/headed-to-the-big-house-for-the-sake-of-jesus/

    This man has no shame. He believes he’s entitled, and he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do, and no bunch of pew-sitting rabble-rousers are gonna get in his way.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  50. Samuel Conner: I wonder whether it might not be better to simply abandon the entire “property-owning” paradigm and return to the original practice of meeting in public places (for large groups) and in homes (for small groups).

    I’ve been in churches where folks in the pew worshiped the property more than Jesus! Suggesting that the church do away with the building would be met by much weeping and gnashing of teeth. We’re so far off the original model for doing church, I’m not sure we can find our way back.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  51. Leila: he will be partnering with a music minister from another local church and they are starting a church service in a bar on Sunday evenings. Conversational-type sermons, contemporary worship music, come-as-you-are

    My church is also a UMC church looking at that kind of ministry. I’m going to the training for it in a few weeks.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  52. Iowa Steve: Maybe Christianity in all its forms has reached the “Tipping Point” Where enough believers realize their belief doesn’t work for them anymore and Christianity will fade away?

    It could very well be that Christianity is at the tipping point where believers realize that they are doing church without God … where they have put their faith in religious systems of assorted belief and practice, rather than building a personal relationship with Christ. If so, that would be a good thing if we could get back to letting the Main Thing be the main thing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  53. Dallas Jenkins: It was given to the elders two months ago.

    Do you mean it was given to those elders who assisted in helping JMac continue on with his antics? If I were you, I would review what happened at Mars Hill and the Mark Driscoll implosion.
    “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” -Yogi Berra

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  54. bendeni: He believes he’s entitled …

    Yes, because he delivered the pew what they wanted in a church experience. Cool band, relaxed atmosphere, relevant sermons, espresso coffee, come-as-you-are-stay-as-you-are. Christian celebrities would have no stage to perform on if they didn’t have an audience willing to buy tickets. They were entitled to each other; thus, they will share in the fall from grace.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  55. Dallas Jenkins,

    Thanks for confirming the authenticity of the content, Dallas. Also, your letter simply further bolsters credibility of the excellent work from the Elephant’s Debt and Julie Roys. It didn’t reveal anything new.

    If bolstering the credibility of truth-tellers is a problem to you, your commitments are misplaced (to put it mildly).

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  56. Iowa Steve,

    That might be the case if your view of Christianity is limited to the local mega-show, but there are places in the world, and even in the US for that matter, where Christianity is much more Biblical and robust, and is not even close to fading away.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  57. Dallas Jenkins:
    Neither Dean Butters nor I wanted our letters published. Our goals in writing these letters were accomplished, and it’s unfortunate that people are making them public. There have been many people demanding our statements be made public, and now that they are, are rejoicing in that, all while commenting from anonymous online handles.

    I wish that the decision to be a public figure in this scandal was left to the individual, not to third parties.

    In all honesty, Dallas, since Mac and those around him, including you, took great delight in his being a very public ministry with great influence and far reach, this is a matter for public airing. Your desire for those far flung hundreds of thousands or millions who’d been influenced by his ministry to know the cold, hard truth should’ve trumped any desire to keep things in house. Straight up, you need to rethink this.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  58. Friend:
    Info on the photo is apparently wrong. Harvest Bible Chapel issued a statement today: “Pastor James MacDonald came upon a sleeping bear while walking in the back yard of his modest home today. Concerned for the vulnerable animal’s safety, he left his own gun by its side. The bear was later seen using the gun to defend itself against local mice and rabbits.”

    Lol. 🙂

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  59. Thing is, if it were Bill MacDonald, a little-known pastor of a tiny church from Podunk, Alabama, and he and his wife were having marital troubles that didn’t involve his abuse of others, it likely wouldn’t be anyone’s business but his close friends and perhaps his little church. Airing Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald’s dirty laundry or private correspondence in that case on a public forum would be gossipy and downright cruel.

    But Dallas, that is not the case here. Not at all. This was a guy who was lauded before thousands each week on the stage, promoted on a national radio program, spread his influence through 18 books. Made a lot of money, enjoyed the fruits of fame that was a product of his professed following of Jesus. He claimed to be a guy who could show people the way. Held himself out as a model. You were part of promoting that brand, right?

    You think you’re justified at all in bristling in obvious irritation that your letter, which is apparently the “rest of the story” truth about this very public figure, got out of your control and hit the public sphere? Dallas, you have a lot to learn about life, and perhaps a lot to learn about the One Who spoke of whispers in the inner rooms being shouted from rooftops.

    Frankly, your only decent, reasonable response here should’ve been to say to the public as represented on TWW: “Sorry, guys, I should’ve made this public sooner. Please forgive me.” And that’s the cold, hard truth.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  60. Dallas Jenkins: it’s unfortunate that people are making them public

    Good Lord! Any truth about MacDonald as a bad-boy preacher needs to be made public! Shout it from the housetops!! The man most likely is considering launching a new ministry and needs to be stopped in his tracks. The last thing that Christendom needs is to see him back in the pulpit. As Law Prof noted, JMac is not your usual run-of-the-mill preacher … he had an international stage … he had thousands of followers … he failed you, HBC, and the church at large … he has disqualified himself from ministry. A verse comes to mind “Beware of Alexander the Coppersmith – he has done us much harm.”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  61. http://thewartburgwatch.com/tww2/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Dallas-Jenkins-1.pdf

    Culty. So many things bring to mind what Leah Remini is bringing to light. Leaders raging, even with kids; no one doing anything but continuing to pay. The bit about only a unanimous vote of their executive council being able to remove the lead pastor — there’s a recipe for success when grievous wolves are not unexpected. Whether it’s a yes-man or someone the lead guy has dirt on, it’s easy enough for these types to have a handful in pocket.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  62. Dallas Jenkins: commenting from anonymous online handles.

    Well, I assume that you are the Dallas Jenkins referred to in the OP, but I have no way of confirming that. You could be the pope for all I know.

    And you have the same right as the rest of us to post anonymously. It’s your choice.

    Anonymity is not the same thing as cowardice, but thanks so much for playing that tired old game.

    In case this has escaped your awareness, most folks on TWW have experienced abuse in churches. Imagine the chaos if we all put our full names out there, along with the names of our (former) churches and the various miscreants, lay and ordained, living and dead, who assaulted and extorted us over the decades. Personally I do not want to create that kind of hardship for the surviving relatives of those who made my youth group experience a nightmare.

    So I come here to learn, share solace and insights, and tell the odd bear joke. Live with it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  63. Dallas Jenkins: I wish that the decision to be a public figure in this scandal was left to the individual, not to third parties.

    Dallas, As if you weren’t already a public figure in this scandel. What makes you think you get to excuse yourself from the table? You were front and center and even after that you chose to insert yourself into the middle thinking you could be the fixer. The only reason you don’t want exposure is because you don’t want damage to your film career.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  64. Friend: And you have the same right as the rest of us to post anonymously. It’s your choice…Anonymity is not the same thing as cowardice, but thanks so much for playing that tired old game.

    It doesn’t even matter if you post your actual name, if someone is full of venom for you, they’ll find some reason to spew it. Example: I use my actual name on Twitter. I was in a back and forth with some supporters of another well-known abusive megachurch leader recently, and one of the fans of the leader assumed I was posting under a made-up name and then slammed me for my “cowardice” as being “anonymous”.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  65. Dallas Jenkins,

    Is anonymous code for “little people” or “pew peons”? As if someone who chooses to remain anonymous has no right to speak. Who are you to tell people to shut up anyway? Your church, at which you played a significant role, is a five alarm dumpster fire and there are thousands of actual souls who have been affected by this admitted scandal. You don’t get to ask for silence now. That dog don’t hunt. Maybe you should have considered the consequences of your actions, or inaction, before you decided to hitch your wagon to JM. As my friend says, “suck it up buttercup.”

    God save us from the curse of celebrity…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  66. Max: “I believe if Jesus was here today, He would be sitting around the campfire drinking beer with the boys!”

    In all likelihood, He probably would be. But the question is, what guys would He be hanging out with? Given His choice of companionship last time He was here, your friend from that Bible study might be shocked. 😉

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  67. Noevangelical:
    Dallas Jenkins,

    Is anonymous code for “little people” or “pew peons”? As if someone who chooses to remain anonymous has no right to speak. Who are you to tell people to shut up anyway?

    There does seem to be something in Dallas’s attitude of a disregard for those who donated the hundreds of millions to make the whole Harvest phenomenon work. He intended this confession to go to elders only—and is angry that it got into the hands of those not in that rarified air. Why in the world he’d take this approach and evidently consider it courageous or fitting is completely beyond me. What in the world is running through his mind that he wouldn’t want the truth shouted from the rooftops to those who’d been under Mac’s influence far and wide?

    In destructive cults that pose as Christian megas, there is evidently an attitude of privilege and authority among those who call themselves “elders” that is simply nonexistent in the Bible—it seems anti-Christ, actually.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  68. The time for half measures is over. This cancer is about to metastasize across the U.S. and ALL of the dirt needs to be made public for the safety and spiritual well-being of the masses.

    Jimmy Evans, Head of Marriage Today TV & Sr Pastor and Apostle of Gateway Church, is reportedly in contact with James MacDonald. We all know that Gateway’s Crisis Manager Lawrence Swicegood is helming the 2020 Committee, so this is not surprising. Jimmy & Gateway Sr Lead Pastor Robert Morris are two of only three Elders over Mark Driscoll’s church. Gateway is the church that planted Driscoll’s new The Trinity Church in Scottsdale and they are the ones transferring him cash each year since to keep it afloat and charging that to Global Missions expense.

    In January, Gateway held a Pastor’s School Seminar inside Driscoll’s church that was all about “Church Governance”. They taught 200 pastors how to create a stronger choke-hold on “their” church so that no one can wrestle it away from them. This is accomplished mainly through having only a few puppet elders who are as dirty as the head pastor, hence, the 3 out of state elders Driscoll chose.

    James MacDonald will be starting a new ministry. He is already in the process of trying to reboot his digital ministry (WITW)and is romancing wealthy donors in Naples, FL from the $1.2M home in Naples that Harvest rented for him. He will be infecting thousands more with his toxicity, greed, vulgarity and cruelty.

    Harvest’s former CFO, Fred Adams, now runs a sketchy consulting group that helps wealthy elite church insiders set up secret LLCs to buy church buildings so that the churches can then transfer wealth to them in the form of both monthly rentals instead of building equity for the members, while also authorizing the campuses to make major improvements and expansions that cost millions, which will then belong to the LLC owners, not the flock.

    Notice that Fred brags about “Negotiating more than $100 million in church mortgage financing”. The only church Fred has ever worked for his Harvest. They are crumbling under their current debt load that FRED saddled them with; still he brags. His LLC scheme was dreamed up because James announced that no new debt would be taken on until the $43M in debt was paid off in full. That’s the reason Adams concocted his scheme. He and James wanted newer, better buildings now, not when the flock could afford them. He added the promise of millions of dollars in renos and expansions, via the Closer Campaign, in order to sweeten the pot. http://churchbuildingministry.org/who-we-are/

    Harvest took in over a HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in the last 12 yrs and many of their properties were donated free and clear. Fred not only took out debt to fund new purchases, he took out additional debt on already encumbered buildings. Harvest members face losing their church homes over this man, yet he is planning on exporting this secret personal enrichment scheme, that is not at arm’s length, throughout the U.S.

    Harvest CEO J Scott Milholland, was one of the men who was responsible for the $10M year secret “Black Fund” which was used to grossly enrich the top 20 execs at Harvest (including Dallas Jenkins). He was also involved with setting up secret retirement accounts and encouraging outrageous T&E expenditures as a way of making himself invaluable to James. That included giving James $20K-$30K a MONTH to spend just on T&E.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  69. The time for half measures is over. This cancer is about to metastasize across the U.S. and ALL of the dirt needs to be made public for the safety and spiritual well-being of the masses.

    Jimmy Evans, Head of Marriage Today TV & Sr Pastor and Apostle of Gateway Church, is reportedly in contact with James MacDonald. We all know that Gateway’s Crisis Manager Lawrence Swicegood is helming the 2020 Committee, so this is not surprising. Jimmy & Gateway Sr Lead Pastor Robert Morris are two of only three Elders over Mark Driscoll’s church. Gateway is the church that planted Driscoll’s new The Trinity Church in Scottsdale and they are the ones transferring him cash each year since to keep it afloat and charging that to Global Missions expense.

    In January, Gateway held a Pastor’s School Seminar inside Driscoll’s church that was all about “Church Governance”. They taught 200 pastors how to create a stronger choke-hold on “their” church so that no one can wrestle it away from them. This is accomplished mainly through having only a few puppet elders who are as dirty as the head pastor, hence, the 3 out of state elders Driscoll chose.

    James MacDonald will be starting a new ministry. He is already in the process of trying to reboot his digital ministry (WITW)and is romancing wealthy donors in Naples, FL from the $1.2M home in Naples that Harvest rented for him. He will be infecting thousands more with his toxicity, greed, vulgarity and cruelty.

    Harvest’s former CFO, Fred Adams, now runs a sketchy consulting group that helps wealthy elite church insiders set up secret LLCs to buy church buildings so that the churches can then transfer wealth to them in the form of both monthly rentals instead of building equity for the members, while also authorizing the campuses to make major improvements and expansions that cost millions, which will then belong to the LLC owners, not the flock.

    Notice that Fred brags about “Negotiating more than $100 million in church mortgage financing”. The only church Fred has ever worked for his Harvest. They are crumbling under their current debt load that FRED saddled them with; still he brags. His LLC scheme was dreamed up because James announced that no new debt would be taken on until the $43M in debt was paid off in full. That’s the reason Adams concocted his scheme. He and James wanted newer, better buildings now, not when the flock could afford them. He added the promise of millions of dollars in renos and expansions, via the Closer Campaign, in order to sweeten the pot. http://churchbuildingministry.org/who-we-are/

    Harvest took in over a HALF A BILLION DOLLARS in the last 12 yrs and many of their properties were donated free and clear. Fred not only took out debt to fund new purchases, he took out additional debt on already encumbered buildings. Harvest members face losing their church homes over this man, yet he is planning on exporting this secret personal enrichment scheme, that is not at arm’s length, throughout the U.S.

    Harvest CEO J Scott Milholland, was one of the men who was responsible for the $10M year secret “Black Fund” which was used to grossly enrich the top 20 execs at Harvest (including Dallas Jenkins). He was also involved with setting up secret retirement accounts and encouraging outrageous T&E expenditures as a way of making himself invaluable to James. That included giving James $20K-$30K a MONTH to spend just on T&E.

    We now see, via ECFA, that these massive personal perks were evidently excluded from their comp review, meaning James has likely been under reporting his income to the IRS by hundreds of thousands a year. He already gets $500K tax free per year in deferred comp, plus reportedly around $200K tax free in parsonage allowance. So James has only paid a fraction of taxes that the rest of us “little people” would have had to without the luxury of the “Pastor” title and access to over $40M a year in donations.

    Milholland did this exact same thing at his former church, Hope Church in Memphis. He moved to Plano. TX and is setting up his own consulting firm so he can go to thousands of churches setting up secret ways for enriching the head pastors. These head pastors will gladly pay SM large fees in exchange for helping them become secret multi-millionaires. Churches will line up for this. It will not be revealed to any of the flock members that they are paying for SM and then to transfer over $1M a yr to the head pastor.

    The other 30 Elders and 12 XLT members will, likewise, move on to other ministry opportunities. Their influence will spread exponentially once decentralized. They will return to their secrecy and self-dealing as a dog returns to his vomit, because power and money are that seductive and because if they could keep it a secret during the height of the Harvest scandal, no way will it be discovered at a less notorious church. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Christians will be abused UNLESS men and women of integrity stand up and shine the light of truth on Harvest Bible Chapel’s dirty deeds done in darkness.

    As a Christian, how could they do otherwise? Dallas Jenkins’ and Dean Butters’ letters are only two of six submitted to the Elders. But hundreds of others have similar testimony. I realize people are suffering from pain and confusion, but now is not the time to be silent. Please think about all the others who will fall under these cultic practices if these perpetrators and their deeds are not brought into the open.

    IDK what the other XLT staffers and Elders are waiting for, but they will be judged if these wolves are allowed to set up new lairs due to their silence. It makes you wonder what is in it for them to stay silent, or worse yet, to openly argue that the truth they were willing to report in secret should not be used to stop the victimization of hundreds of thousands of innocent Christians.

    Let’s keep in mind that the XLT members were all making 6 figures and had very generous T&E accounts and were living the life of rockstars prior to this implosion. Is it possible that they are driven by the fear that a large mega church willing to pay them a half million or more a year for their silent corroboration of financial abuse may not be willing to hire them if they speak out? I really can’t come up with a legitimate reason for why these Pastors and Elders are continuing to conceal the truth while realizing that doing so will result in decades of further abuse.

    Perhaps it’s the side deals as well. Dallas failed to mention that Fred Adams, James MacDonald and Luke MacDonald were listed as Producers for one of his film projects. If you go here you can see them listed in the browser search https://duckduckgo.com/?q=the+chosen+producers+james+macdonald&t=ffsb&ia=web but when you click on the link you can see that Jenkins had the producers list altered to remove those names and place all new producers (the money) except for himself on the website. These Harvest producers were on this site yesterday, meaning it was only adjusted after Dee posted this letter. Was it the mere correction of an error? Or an attempt to conceal more?

    At least we can see from this that publicizing facts online does provably result in change. I guess Dallas understands the power of the written word on the internet. Too bad he doesn’t understand that it can be used just as much for good as it can be for bad.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  70. ex HCA Staff: . I’m holding out hope that my faith in God will survive, but truth be told, some days that seems uncertain as well (

    Ex HBC staff, thank you for sharing your pain. It obviously took courage for you to write it. Years ago when I was experiencing a dark period spiritually someone said to me, “Hang onto God!” In response without thinking these words came out of my mouth (and I can’t help but think it was the Holy Spirit speaking), “I can’t hang onto God right now but He will hang onto me”

    That was 30 years ago and it proved to be true. Not just then but through darker times which subsequently came (including our own trials with another Harvest outlet). God says he is the author and finisher of our faith which is a comforting truth. Jesus held onto me and he will hold onto you. I hope that brings you some hope and encouragement today.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  71. Max,

    Oh Dallas, for heaven’s sake, cut it out. You should’ve released your statement the first time around. You could cold feet and released a scaled-back version instead. Then, you proceeded to brag on social media about how you weren’t releasing your full statement and had convinced other men with statements to do the same. The statements were given to Greg Bradshaw, who shared with only a few Elders. Then, Rick Donald, James MacDonald, and Elder Steve Huston worked to suppress them from the rest of the Elders. Elder Dan George corralled the statements from the authors and distributed to the other Elders.

    When the Elders terminated James, the named only three sins (abuse, domineering behavior, and inappropriate language) that did not reflect the entirety of the content between all of the statements. If for no other reasons, the statements must be public so that the people of HBC see what their Elders saw.

    Quit trying to privatize and hide in secret that which should be public. And check your privilege while you’re at it.

    Finally, you deactivated your Twitter account a week ago. The majority of the people who were questioning you were NOT anonymous (including me), and there is more factual information about HBC on Twitter than there has ever been from HBC leaders’ own mouths, including yours.

    Consistent with your recreational activities, you took a gamble and lost. MIGHTILY.

    Face it and move on.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  72. Dallas Jenkins “As many others have also said, I couldn’t care less about what house or car James owns. He’s earned his money,
    and when he first committed to downsizing, I told him not to do it, that he didn’t need to.”

    How arrogant is that Dallas. You couldn’t care if the pastor lives in a 4 million dollar mansion. Because MacDonald earned it. What was your salary Dallas for all your effort to misuse & misappropriate church tithes? Gone on any safari’s or gambling junkets with MacDonald & your dad? No wonder why Harvest is in such a mess with leaders like you.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  73. Fisher, thank you for those words of life and hope.

    We are living through a decades-long trial of betrayal, and I have found myself weak of faith these last few years. You have changed my perspective and I appreciate it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  74. Dallas Jenkins,

    Dallas, please reconsider your position. Who do you want to be in God’s sight? A defender of the weak and a rescuer of the perishing or a celebrity who gets to choose the image he parents to the world? Dallas, choose the path of humility!

    So you and Dean screwed up. You can’t change that. But you could change the future by using your failure for good. A lot of people still hurt. And are angry. Accept that and use this springboard given by God to be the leader God always intended you to be. Do like King David did (by writing Psalm 51 and signing his name for eternity)… sign your name to your failure then go find some hurting people from Harvest and minister to them. Not for money or fame but just because you want to show them love. I’m told love covers over a multitude of sins.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  75. ex HCA Staff:
    I’d only add that the scar and damage to my faith as a result of Harvest is real, deeply painful, and permanent. I adhere to the ‘never-say-never’ adage but can’t even remotely imagine EVER being involved with a church again. I’m holding out hope that my faith in God will survive, but truth be told, some days that seems uncertain as well (and save yourself the time writing me about how my faith ‘must not have been that deep’ if indeed I’m struggling with God and Jesus).

    I’m not going to say that to you. I’ve stepped inside a church once in the last three years; we were out of town visiting friends, and they invited us, and my wife looked at me like “Please, honey, just this one time, let’s not make a scene.” So I went along and it felt something like being in the car, trying to teach my teenager how to drive—white knuckles. The idea of going back to church for real makes me nauseous. I struggle to pray, to read the Bible. I know Jesus is real and know He loves me, but too much of the Bible and Jesus’ name got mixed up with the abuse going on to my children, my wife, my friends and me. It feels like I’m eaten away inside. I have my faith left, but so much that I thought was real about my faith has been shaken off. Some of that was probably bad stuff that was always phony, that I’m glad is gone—but I’m sure some of it was good stuff that, far as I know, died years ago. I don’t feel the joy that my faith used to give. I feel like Jesus is a million miles off, and I know that’s got to me my fault, not His, because frankly, I ignored God’s nudges at each and every abusive church we attended (there were three), it’s not like I can blame Him. So join the club. No judgment from me.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  76. Oh this statement. Delicious.

    Comments:

    “Nobody wants this. We can all agree that negative public discourse about a specific person or church is rarely good.”

    Jesus and I disagree. See Matthew 23.

    “thousands have been saved, and no one wants to see a vibrant church be harmed.”

    The harm is already done. It’s not some future harm. The terminal stage 4 cancer exists. It doesn’t even look vibrant anymore. It looks like a church with terminal stage 4 cancer.

    “I’m a witness that almost everything you ‘re reading and hearing is true.”

    I mean thanks, but DUH.

    “I’m not easily intimidated”

    It’s nice to have a multimillionaire dad.

    “And there’s a high likelihood this statement will get them expelled.”

    I send my kids to a school literally run by bullies.

    “For example, no one would say that those who spoke out about Bill Hybels harassing women were wrongly airing a personal grievance.”

    Are you kidding me right now? Literally 15,000 people still attend Willow Campuses every single week, and by attending, they are absolutely saying this.

    “In fact, not saying something would’ve been considered enabling and a betrayal of those being hurt.”

    Zero current power holders at Willow Creek Community Church have uttered a single word condemning the sexual crimes of founder and 42 year leader Bill Hybels.

    “Shouldn’t we trust our church’s leadership?”

    As a general rule, no.

    “But as of this moment, the vast majority of James ‘s closest friends and ministry leaders over the decades have said nothing publicly about these crises.”

    EXACTLY the same as at Willow Creek Community Church. something in the Chicago water, perhaps.

    “(although unnecessary according to ECFA standards).”

    Someone needs to write an article about the fake church watchdog industrial complex, including but not necessarily limitied to ECFA, MinistrySafe, Best Christian Workplace Institute.

    “He’s earned his money,”

    wolves among the sheep, “earning their money”

    “Only a public attack and a loss of financial success would drive change at Harvest.”

    Current Harvest members: please note.

    Overall–gigantic thanks to Dallas.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  77. Fisher,

    Thank you, Fisher, for the encouragement. I will reflect on your honesty and embrace the possibilities…

    If anything, out of all the ashes has come a humbling of my spirit. No longer do I feel like I know, or need to know, or could even remotely grasp the answers to so much of life. If I find solace anywhere, it’s in the quiet moments of solitude and silence wherein I sense anew that the mysteries of life are vast, and that my continued pursuit of that which is beautiful and simple and true is enough for now.

    Again, thank you…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  78. ex HCA staff:
    Fisher,

    Thank you, Fisher, for the encouragement. I will reflect on your honesty and embrace the possibilities…

    If anything, out of all the ashes has come a humbling of my spirit.No longer do I feel like I know, or need to know, or could even remotely grasp the answers to so much of life. If I find solace anywhere, it’s in the quiet moments of solitude and silence wherein I sense anew that the mysteries of life are vast, and that my continued pursuit of that which is beautiful and simple and true is enough for now.

    Again, thank you…

    I’ve never felt a humbling that felt particularly good, at least short-term.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  79. Amy Moore,

    Well, Amy, you’ve provided us a rather disgusting look at the character of these characters! HBC leaders will have to give an account before God for these things. They have acted like they don’t believe that – with no fear of God – but payday is coming someday when they stand before their Creator.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  80. Wow. Amy Moore. You have been on the pulse, on target, and on the money with each and every post I have read on Twitter and now on TWW.

    Thank you for your insights. I pray that God will continue to use you to shine a spotlight on wicked works of darkness in Christendom today.

    On a side note, I’m wondering if the wealth of knowledge that you and others like Jessica Hockett possess…wondering if perhaps the two of you, along with a few other key people, have considered meeting and “strategizing” what could be some next steps going forward to help ensure that God’s people will never again be fleeced by the likes of James MacDonald, Luke MacDonald, Rick Donald, Jeff Donaldson, and, if it comes down to it, Donald Duck.

    All kidding aside, may you, Jessica, Ryan Mahoney, Dee Parsons, any many others who are continuing to fight the good fight be richly blessed.

    1 Peter 4:14 — If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  81. ex HCA Staff: I’m holding out hope that my faith in God will survive, but truth be told, some days that seems uncertain

    Keep tuning in to TWW. You will find that many commenters have been on similar journeys, who share stories of pain and disillusionment with their church experiences. Many have joined the “Done” ranks … done with the institutional church, but not done with Jesus. Hang on.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  82. Debby: Check out the Stronger Men’s Conference
    in Springfield MO in late April – Driscoll Will be sharing his wisdom as a highlighted speaker

    Driscoll was a featured speaker at that event last year. According to the conference website, they will be delivering “world-class communicators, high-energy worship and awesome entertainment.” Sounds like church, huh?! The potty-mouth preacher from Seattle is still a big draw for macho-men-wannabes … and he’s found a new audience within Assembly of God ranks. Who knows? … MacDonald may join him next year on the Stronger Men circuit.

    https://strongermen.org/

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  83. As usual, your comments and insight are on the money, Amy Moore.

    If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
    (1 Peter 4:14)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  84. It is difficult to not imagine that the overly generous salaries passed out at Harvest have a lot to do with the leaders who refuse to call for the opening of the books. They all were making out pretty large with the tithes of people who thought they were giving to good causes. It was not just Jmac who was enriching himself.

    Someone asked ‘How high does this go’? We have seen that the octopus has many arms, from mega-churches to major christian publications to all of the organizations that feed the monster.

    It’s actually pretty simple to pick out the false ones. All who have enriched themselves in the name of serving God and on the backs of the working people are suspect, as that is certainly not what we were called to, nor a reflection of the sacrificial love of Jesus who came to serve.

    Max: ex HCA Staff: I’m holding out hope that my faith in God will survive, but truth be told, some days that seems uncertain

    Don’t let the hypocrisy of men lessen your trust in God. He has not let us down, and even now is exposing these wolves. Sadly, many of us have learned our lesson the hard way, but it is not he who established these institutions and herded his people into them.

    From the earliest days of the institutional church, abuse and murder has been wreaked upon those who dared to believe that they could serve God outside of ‘The Church’. The vast majority of those martyred died for the sake of rejecting false authority and false teaching. We should not be surprised that the battle between the false and the true rages on, and should continue to cling to the true, whatever the cost.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  85. Law Prof,

    Every. word. you. wrote.

    I am there; have been close to 8-years now. It’s a lonely place, especially when my life was steeped in church community, teaching, and deep, deep, love for Christ and His people.

    Harvest bulldozed everything.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  86. TS00: It is difficult to not imagine that the overly generous salaries passed out at Harvest have a lot to do with the leaders who refuse to call for the opening of the books. They all were making out pretty large with the tithes of people who thought they were giving to good causes. It was not just Jmac who was enriching himself

    Yet another reason why the financial transparency laws for religious ‘non-profit’ entities needs to change.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  87. TS00,

    You’re welcome. Ideally, we wouldn’t need Twitter and blogs to expose the truth about corrupt churches, ministries, and their leaders. But as long as there’s sin, there will be plenty of work to do to shine a light in the dark places of Christendom.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  88. FormerHBC:
    Law Prof,

    Every. word. you. wrote.

    I am there; have been close to 8-years now. It’s a lonely place, especially when my life was steeped in church community, teaching, and deep, deep, love for Christ and His people.

    Harvest bulldozed everything.

    Truly hope you get peace and joy soon. God bless.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  89. I haven’t read the comments, and I’m just going to say that seeing a dead bear there with James McDonald behind it made me sick. I know we have to hunt to keep down the population of wild creatures, especially in areas where they don’t have any natural predators, so they don’t destroy the environment and/or starve. But I suspect that since McDonald’s first job is being a pastor, it would not surprise me if this was a “canned” hunt. There’s a difference between people who hunt professionally for a living, indigenous hunters who hunt as part of their tribal culture, and rich guys like James McDonald who do it to knock another item off their “bucket list.” I know some people will disagree with me, but that’s just my opinion.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  90. Max: “My understanding is that Driscoll also consulted with Gateway.” (Dee)

    Robert Morris sits on the Board of Driscoll’s new church … or at least he did – Driscoll no longer lists Board members on his new website.

    Morris no longer sits on Driscoll’s board. In fact, Driscoll’s board is down to him as President and director, Jimmy Evans and Randall Taylor (who I believe is an attorney). So yeah, there’s really NOBODY looking over Driscoll’s shoulder.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  91. Dallas Jenkins: It was leaked. I just found out about it a few minutes ago. It was given to the elders two months ago. The posting of it on this website is unfortunate, as are many of the false rumors in the comments both here and on Twitter from anonymous people.

    My name is on all my posts and frankly I find your whining annoying. I’m also going to be annoyed if James McDonald pulls a Mark Driscoll and starts up a new church. Face it, Dallas, HBC’s elders messed up BIG TIME by not reining in James a long time ago. Instead, the whole thing was a Yes Men (and I’m not talking about the performance artist group) operation for the aggrandizement of James McDonald.

    If you don’t get why your letter was leaked and why people are upset, I would say you’re isolated and you need to take the blinders off.

    Dee Holmes

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  92. Dallas Jenkins,

    Dallas, I want to also say in all gentleness- I know you’d like to be in control but you can’t be. If I understand your former function at Harvest (based on what you said in your letter) your job involved presenting and tightly controlling the Harvest narrative through media. You are used to being in control of who sees what. At this point however the narrative cannot be controlled by people because God Almighty is acting now.
    Like it or not that’s what’s happening.

    Also want to acknowledge it took courage to write that letter knowing your children might be kicked out of school. But if it comes to that you can sit them down and model thankfulness that they and you suffer together for the name of Christ. The apostles counted that an honor.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  93. Craig French: Thanks for confirming the authenticity of the content, Dallas. Also, your letter simply further bolsters credibility of the excellent work from the Elephant’s Debt and Julie Roys. It didn’t reveal anything new.

    If bolstering the credibility of truth-tellers is a problem to you, your commitments are misplaced (to put it mildly).

    I have to agree.

    Confession is good for the soul. Nothing to be ashamed of.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  94. When people look back on the history of the American evangelical movement in the first years of the third millennium, I sure hope they will shake their heads and ask why we put up with this nonsense for so long.

    “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  95. Time and again in these situations, people who were involved exclaim about how “God was working” and ‘God was doing things!” I thought it myself in the situation I was part of, years ago. But nowadays I find myself wondering what that even means. God is omnipresent and always acting, everywhere, as you find out once you’re on the outside. And those statements don’t legitimize any of this garbage that goes on.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  96. FormerHBC: Every. word. you. wrote.

    I am there; have been close to 8-years now. It’s a lonely place, especially when my life was steeped in church community, teaching, and deep, deep, love for Christ and His people.

    Harvest bulldozed everything.

    20 years for me. My church was a much smaller WC wannabe but the dynamics sre the same and bear the same fruit.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  97. ex HCA Staff,

    “Someone should also dig into the incident regarding the video of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ that was shown to HCA ELEMENTARY school children without any warning or notice to parents in the first year of the school’s history during Holy Week. I was there (our kids went there for 2 too long years) and it was unreal what went on during and after that incident. That incident was only the tip of the iceberg.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    can you elaborate on what went on during and after the showing of The Passion Of The Christ? and on the iceberg?

    there was no way i could see that movie, even as a full-fledged crusty, jaded adult. i’m so glad i resisted & refused all the pressure the christian community put on everyone concerning that film.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  98. ex HCA Staff,

    “I share this for all who, like me, are overcome with new sadness, pain and loss amidst the HBC, Willow, Catholic church, ECFA, SBC, GFA, etc. etc…. It has been a comfort reading here (and at TED, Julie Roys, and other sites revealing the truth) of others who are working through this.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    perhaps the other side of this coin can be the joy and happiness of discovering the magnificence of fellow human beings outside the context of christian culture.

    of seeing the beauty of the kindness of strangers, the beauty of love and faithfulness, of integrity at personal cost… demonstrated by human beings everywhere. whether agnostic, atheist, muslim, hindu, buddhist, zoroastrian, wiccan, mormon, straight, lgbtq,….

    seeing the beauty of the deposit of God in them. with or without religious trappings.

    i understand the losses you describe, and experience them, too. but i have gained a newfound joy in being a member of the human race. i’m proud to be human.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  99. Dallas Jenkins,

    “I wish that the decision to be a public figure in this scandal was left to the individual, not to third parties.”
    ++++++++++++++

    Dallas, you helped run an organization that prospered because of its public image which you helped create. that exploited the public of Harvest Bible Chapel (the profits of which you enjoyed and benefited from). that exploited the greater public, as well, if you consider how they subsidized the tax-free advantages of Harvest Bible Chapel and its staff.

    i’d say you are beholden to the public to explain to them with all transparency.

    now if only you could do it without whining.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  100. Law Prof,

    Further, a cental message of the Bible, as I learned over many, many years, is that mankind is “fallen”, and “religious leaders/system” are “fallen”, in many ways more “fallen” than the “secular/hunanistic” “world” that so many “religous leaders” rail against. Time and again, examples in the Bible show “light” shinning in darkness. “Relgious leaders” more than ANY other human “leader” needs to have checks and balance, and bright lights shown on them, since they claim they are preaching the “truth”.. The leaders of Harvest clearly did not shin light of problems; in fact it well documented now they were bullies/godfathers supressing the”truth”….
    yup, great biblical example here! Note, I am using my name…..

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  101. Having re-read the letter a few times now I find it to be more of a CYA document than anything else. Apparently DJ knew these things and witnessed these things, but did nothing about these things. Nice job. Too much “I” and not enough “we” in there. Blaming bloggers and the media for having bad form for discussing the issues, but then admitting that they are true?

    If all this was that important to the leaders they would have been apoplectic at what they witnessed from JM. But they wern’t. One can only guess at the motive behind their inaction, but even with the most basic discernment skills one could easily surmise that the money train was at the heart.

    It seems to me that there is a serious idolatry issue at HBC. I see several at work in this situation at all levels – top to bottom – of the organization. Someone even mentioned an anti-Christ component here, which I agree with.

    I hope that the HBC and WC churches become text book examples for future generations of Christians of what not to do. And while it is no surprise that these so-called churches, which represent one of the most insidious movements in the history of the Christian Church, are ending in self inflicted destruction we can find some comfort that people who were led astray by them can find solace in other groups of believers who I am sure would welcome them with open arms.

    Those of us who have come out of destructive groups like these can assure the survivors that there are other people out there who will love you back into soul health, there are other schools for your children who will treat them right, and some day you will look back on this time and thank God that He pulled you through it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  102. Law Prof,

    SiteSeer, elastigirl, TS00, Max,

    Your support is what helps bring hope, and is a large part of the reason I chose to comment here at TWW. I am of the ‘Done’ tribe, but still begin each day committing to leaving the door to my heart ever so slightly ajar.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  103. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: Driscoll’s board is down to him as President and director, Jimmy Evans and Randall Taylor (who I believe is an attorney). So yeah, there’s really NOBODY looking over Driscoll’s shoulder

    Too bad. Driscoll needs a leash.

    “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  104. elastigirl: perhaps the other side of this coin can be the joy and happiness of discovering the magnificence of fellow human beings outside the context of christian culture.

    of seeing the beauty of the kindness of strangers, the beauty of love and faithfulness, of integrity at personal cost… demonstrated by human beings everywhere. whether agnostic, atheist, muslim, hindu, buddhist, zoroastrian, wiccan, mormon, straight, lgbtq,….

    seeing the beauty of the deposit of God in them. with or without religious trappings.

    i understand the losses you describe, and experience them, too. but i have gained a newfound joy in being a member of the human race. i’m proud to be human.

    elastigirl,

    Your newfound joy is where I, too, am seeing God’s fingerprints, and why I am holding out hope that my faith will survive. In many ways, I’m seeing it more deeply, more clearly, and with more authenticity than I ever experienced ‘in the church’. Indeed, the simplest act of love and kindness can be profound when we simply remove all the ‘trappings’ and rules of organized religion. As Lauren Diagle says it so very well: ‘I’m losing my religion/ To find You/ I’m losing my religion, and finding something new/ ‘Cause I need something different/ And different looks like You/’. Again, like you, I am aware anew of God’s presence in many different places and people, and recently most poignantly in marginalized communities and people…

    As for your question about HCA and the video, it was shown in an elementary school chapel just prior to or during Holy Week (the middle and high school weren’t developed yet in the inaugural years). There were kindergarten through 5th graders AND many of us parents / employees, who did not know it was going to be shown. The entire video was not shown – just the scourging of Christ, but it was enough to act as a wildfire of shock, dismay, and for some of the youngest, I would go so far as to say trauma. Children were crying, looking around with fear on their faces, teachers were trying to physically comfort some by embracing them, and even removed some children. I remember it vividly because our child was very, very deeply disturbed and upset, AS WAS I. I had not ever seen the movie, nor intended to ever see it. The images of Christ’s mother Mary witnessing her son’s torture, the glances and faces of the cast Mel Gibson portrayed were (and frankly still are) made to elicit deep evil and were very frightening to see, and the utter agony of Christ’s pain was so graphic, I still can’t erase it from my memory. You can ONLY imagine the slowly erupting chaos that ensued. Many parents contacted the school about it, and it was one of the first of many, many issues that arose there.

    What followed, over the course of the remaining time I/we were there at the school and at the church in Elgin, attests to exactly what has been revealed about HBC, almost to a tee, and led to my first-hand interactions with Rick Donald, Fred Adams, and a few select others. The manipulation, gaslighting, covering up, mismanagement at an epic level, and complete dysfunction leading to multiple teachers leaving in the middle of the year (some without any notice – simply walking out because of the issues which were not being acknowledged or addressed) were devastating to many families. The depth of the pain experienced in my family (and many others whom I know/knew first-hand) was life-changing – profoundly life-changing and permanently steered my child AWAY from faith. That sadness is so deep.

    I judge not those who remain – I truly understand the depth of the manipulation – but hope they do not fall victim to the crisis of faith and to the abyss that often follows when all you’ve built your faith on falls to ashes.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  105. ex HCA Staff,

    That’s all it takes, my friend. God looks lovingly upon your confusion and pain, and wants nothing more than for you to find and know him as he truly is, apart from all of the hypocrisy and falsity that parades as the institutional church.

    He is faithful, gracious, merciful, kind and always desires and seeks out your best. He is not egotistical, and not, as is so falsely asserted, all about getting glory – he is all about stepping through the barriers of time and space to reveal his gentle, sacrificial love for us.

    Give yourself time, and don’t allow others to place their expectations upon you. God reaches out to us, one on one, and he will continue to administer his healing balm to your soul. I will be praying for you.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  106. elastigirl,

    Yup, there are plenty of great sources of community *outside* of the church. And I think (as an atheist heathen) that what people really need is community, not so much the religious stuff.

    Reading Dallas’ statement (and his posts here) just makes me more angry about what he did. He sat there for years and participated when people were being bullied and abused, being screamed at by their pastor and boss to the point of tears, watching hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent profligately. And he didn’t say crap, at least publicly. Then when it all comes to an angry pus-filled head and finally pops because the infection is so deep, he decides that things have gone too far and he writes a letter (but a private letter) – and gets angry when it’s shared as a means of supporting the people who’ve been trying to expose the abuse. He makes vague remarks about how the blogs have certain things mistaken, or that their motivations are suspect – but doesn’t actually bother to correct them on anything specific. Dallas was complicit in this, and he’s still complicit in attempting to hide the truth.

    I think there’s a massive problem with the deference that’s given to pastors and other religious leaders. It just completely sets things up for abusive situations. Sure, every community is going to have leaders with more social capital, but the level of deference given to pastors is completely unhealthy – and all because a book kind of indicates that they need to be heeded or whatever. I just know that if one of the callers in my English Country Dance or Contra Dance communities was screaming at people or even talking in a consistently rude way, that would not stand for a day, let alone years.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  107. Noevangelical,

    Wonderful, on point comment. Sadly, I have yet to see even one of these elders or executive staff members repent in a productive, redemptive manner. True repentance requires owning up to all you have done, letting the light of truth in to the dark closets that have been hiding the wicked deeds of the past.

    Oh, they all say how ‘sorry’ they are, and admit to one degree or another some of the ‘faults ‘ of James MacDonald. Where is the elder who stands up and admits, this thing was a wicked, immoral, money-making scheme, corrupting and drawing in people with the lure of mammon and using the money of naive, giving individuals, many of whom gave sacrificially to honor God?

    Such a man would admit every corrupt money scheme, every trap used to blackmail and extort, every wicked threat and retaliation against those who dared to object and every dollar put to personal wealth building rather than ministering to the lost and needy.

    I’m not holding my breath. All we get is CYA, after the fact, trying to make the best of what’s already been leaked. Sure it’s likely that not everyone knew everything, but no one is telling all they know, and you can only suppose it has much to do with the filthy lucre they received from the till. How would any of these men, with limited real life educations and skills, replace the six or seven figure incomes they were receiving, when you add in the benefits?

    The first step for anyone who insists upon an institution with paid leaders (I would argue against such) is to limit those salaries to moderate living wages, in line with or less than what the majority of their members live with. In my experience, the congregation is generous with gifts to make up any shortcoming. Our former pastor was not only being paid far more than the community and congregational average, we were always showering them with paid vacations, new clothing for the kids and cash gifts.

    Take away the money and you will find far fewer wolves circling the pot.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  108. Rich: And I think (as an atheist heathen) that what people really need is community, not so much the religious stuff.

    This hits the nail on the head. IMO, most people attend church to replace the lost family and community modern society has sacrificed. They tolerate whatever they must (loud music, annoying demands for money, sermons that go in one ear and out the other) in order to establish a community of friends and support in a cold world in which family is often spread across the continent.

    Never, and I mean never, have I heard someone say, ‘I would leave, but I just can’t survive without the gifted teaching’. It is always, ‘My friends are here’, ‘My kids depend on the youth group’, or ‘Who is going to bury me?’. Sunday services, weekly small groups, other events all give meaning to peoples’ lonely lives, and the rest is mostly fluff. Let’s face it, in this era one can access whatever superior teaching is preferred in the comfort of their home or car.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  109. Dallas Jenkins: It was given to the elders two months ago. The posting of it on this website is unfortunate, as are many of the false rumors in the comments both here and on Twitter from anonymous people.

    You sound like an attorney who just sent me a letter stating that I posted false statements by a victim. How does he know that? His client, the alleged molester, told him they were false. he has no tore proof to offer me.

    You were *in charge* so to speak for years. Since you supposedly know *the truth* why don’t you do what I try to do with each post? You should make your case by offering proof.

    As for your dig at anonymous people, you are hoping to do the same thing. You wanted your letter to remain in the dark and hoped that no one would know of your hidden statement.

    Years ago, I decided to go forth with my name on this blog I did it to help people who have reason to suspect that their identity could cause them problems with out of control churches If yo have a problem with anonymity, take it up with me. You have my phone number,.

    It’s time to throw open the windows HBC so all can see what really happened. You chose to serve in a church with incredibly stupid , unbiblical and mean people in charge. Shame on you. You should repent and make reparations where necessary.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  110. Rich: I think there’s a massive problem with the deference that’s given to pastors and other religious leaders. It just completely sets things up for abusive situations.

    Agreed. That set-up is far from the Biblical model of doing church and is a recipe for disaster, especially when it reaches mega-status. The “too big to fail” driver kicks in and makes church leaders think and do things they might not otherwise. I suspect that even MacDonald started out with good intentions (maybe), but when the accolades and money started streaming in started “gambling” with success. After a while, he and his band of yes-men elders drifted farther from the Main Thing, allowing the main thing to be about them and schemed in the shadows to preserve ‘their’ ministry.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  111. Max: I suspect that even MacDonald started out with good intentions (maybe),

    I don’t know, if one follows Twitter, there are several who have commented that attended church with JMac in his youth, and they have nothing positive to say about him or his character from way back. It appears he has been a poser, a bully and a thug for a very long time.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  112. ex HCA Staff:
    Someone should also dig into the incident regarding the video of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ that was shown to HCA ELEMENTARY school children without any warning or notice to parents…

    That brings back a memory I haven’t thought about for years.

    Almost that exact thing happened at the neocalvinist church I attended. Pastor showed the torture and crucifixion scene to the whole church. No announcement, no warning, just “Have something I want you to see.” Then suddenly “Boom”, there it was on the screen. We were seated in the folding chairs with our children, had 6 at the time, the oldest 11, the youngest 2. We were in a panic, didn’t have enough hands to scramble around and cover all their eyes, which, up to this point, had been quite innocent. We were hissing at them “Close you eyes!” and doing our best to throw ourselves in front of the smallest ones. I’d never seen the movie and still haven’t, but it was some pretty shocking stuff for a guy who hadn’t seen a horror movie since the 1980s. I can only imagine what it was like for children. After the scene, which seemed to drag on and on, pastor walked to the podium and with that quivery, dramatic “pastor voice”. said “THAT’S what Jesus did for YOU!”

    I understand He loves us “to infinity” as my 6 year old likes to say, but it sure would’ve been nice if pastor had given parents of small children some kind of warning. He was evidently so invested in making the Dramatic Point and leaving a Big Impression that I don’t think he considered anyone else at that moment. Years later, the church long ago destroyed by heavy abuse and the former members scattered, a number of them atheists today, that drama pastor is now into the New Age.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  113. dee: You chose to serve in a church with incredibly stupid, unbiblical and mean people in charge. Shame on you. You should repent and make reparations where necessary.

    Indeed. Dallas was in charge of Production and Visual Media at HBC. That meant that he used smoke and mirrors to make MacDonald and his minions appear not to be “incredibly stupid, unbiblical and mean.” Whew! Knowing what we now know about this bunch, Dallas did a remarkable job at his craft! It’s time for all these “leaders” to stop whining as if they were the victims and demonstrate a genuine show of sackcloth and ashes before the masses they deceived – the real victims who must now live with being tithe-paying participants in this scam against Holy God.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  114. TS00: It appears he has been a poser, a bully and a thug for a very long time.

    … and a “Pastor.” Good Lord, how does that happen?! The average American Christian has evidently become so open-minded about such characters that their spiritual brains have fallen out!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  115. TS00: I don’t know, if one follows Twitter, there are several who have commented that attended church with JMac in his youth, and they have nothing positive to say about him or his character from way back. It appears he has been a poser, a bully and a thug for a very long time.

    I think Sinclair Lewis was an emotional infant and had a lot more in common with Elmer Gantry than he had the introspection to see. He was a cynical grandstands and shameless self-promoter. I believe he also was something of an unwitting prophet, possibly used by the Lord Himself, to reflect a mirror back at U.S. Christendom. If only we would listen to what Lewis was saying, we might avoid these bullies “going way back” who latch onto Christianity because of all the naive fools who are suckers for the Gantry/MacDonald Schick.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  116. Dallas Jenkins: There have been many people demanding our statements be made public, and now that they are, are rejoicing in that,

    1 Corinthians 13:6
    “love… does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth”

    I, personally, do find truth to be something to rejoice in. I think telling the truth is of much more value than creating or maintaining appearances. Truth is real. It’s life giving. The restoration of truth is the one thing that brings healing. Let the truth flow.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  117. Rich:
    elastigirl,

    …there’s a massive problem with the deference that’s given but the level of deference given to pastors is completely unhealthy – and all because a book kind of indicates that they need to be heeded…

    You’re right to say “kind of”. In fact, you can take it a lot farther than that. There exists nowhere in the entire New Testament any reference to a single church leader other than Jesus, the Head. There is no such thing as a single pastor leader role that even exists. In the entire New Testament, the word only turns up once in the singular, 4th in a list of 5 useful gifts or roles (not official offices, near as I can tell) in Ephesians 4. That’s it! So this notion of a pastor as single leader being completely made up well after the Bible was written, simply not biblical at all, purely cultural tradition, I think you’d be safe to say that said book most certainly does not indicate that one assuming an unbiblical, made-up official office does not need to be heeded, but rather corrected, censured or even disciplined and thrown out of the church for their audacity and biblical ignorance.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  118. Does anyone have examples of big churches that are emblems of integrity?

    I’m becoming increasingly wary of the megachurch model. I am beginning to feel like at best it is simply not what Jesus intended for us, as it allows to much anonymity, where the church should be a community… And at worst it is laced with risks for massive abuse and corruption.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  119. Law Prof,

    Wow. I am sorry you and your family experienced that. That movie became a kind of a “shibboleth” at our church when it came out. There was something wrong with you if you didn’t go with the whole church to see it. Since I hate group think, we did not go. When I did see it, in my home, I was livid that they essentially forced people to go. Our pastor, weeping, said it was one of the greatest movies he ever saw. Worst $12 I ever spent.

    Funny, but I still have dreams about the former pastor. They are not pretty. I don’t think any of these people have a clue about how that kind of trauma weaves it’s way into a person’s life. About how you think there is something wrong with you because you don’t feel the same things that they do, and soon you come to believe that you are defective or damaged goods.

    They act like the real problem is that they messed up in a technical way. Like the right procedures would have saved them the embarrassment. Like they just made a technical foul in a game. They truly have no idea. God’s blessings to you.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  120. TS00: Never, and I mean never, have I heard someone say, ‘I would leave, but I just can’t survive without the gifted teaching’. It is always, ‘My friends are here’, ‘My kids depend on the youth group’, or ‘Who is going to bury me?’. Sunday services, weekly small groups, other events all give meaning to peoples’ lonely lives, and the rest is mostly fluff. Let’s face it, in this era one can access whatever superior teaching is preferred in the comfort of their home or car.

    This is so very true!

    Sadly, it is not uncommon to find that in time of great loss, the church is not really there for them after all, that in case of health problems that make one unable to serve, they are quickly forgotten, that the great majority of those friendships have a tendency to evaporate or even turn to shunning if put to the test; that it was all a grand illusion, after all the time, effort and loyalty invested. You were part of a workforce which brought a feeling of camaraderie and purpose and fellowship. Once you step out of that or can no longer take part, the machine moves on without you.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  121. Dallas Jenkins,
    While I am glad that he came here to confirm the authenticity of the letter, your attitude still shows that you have a long ways to go towards producing fruit that actually looks like repentance. You have done some confession, but in private only. You have not taken full responsibility for your actions. You have not fully recognized the level of evil that you eagerly participated in in order to promote yourself riding on the coattails of a famous narcissist and personally enrich yourself unrighteously with “tithes” that the New Testament does not even teach.
    Jesus said that you cannot serve both Him and Mammon. James and you have lived a lifestyle for a long time of trying to prove that Jesus lied. In reality both of you have despised the real Jesus and have lived a life promoting a false one that does not care how much you made or JMac. Jesus said it is basically impossible that any rich man ever makes it into God’s Kingdom, and you and the others have ignored that.
    You need to stop being like JMac and actually follow Jesus once and come out into the light. Walking in the light means not having to cover anything up and not belly aching when God Himself is the one shouting truth and revealing things from His Mountaintop. Guys like you have no fear of God, and this is how this mess happened in the first place. You need to stop looking at yourself as a victim and a good guy and admit that you are the neo-Pharisee that you really are. You are the guy wearing the black hat. We all are that person which is why we still need Jesus daily to save us from our continuing sin patterns in our life.
    Humility is required. You have lived in a place too long where you have not had to embrace it. I hope you do for your own sake so you do not end up like the Pharisees that Jesus plainly stated were headed straight to an eternity in hell. I have personally seen that place and I want no one to go there…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  122. dee: You sound like an attorney who just sent me a letter stating that I posted false statements by a victim. How does he know that? His client, the alleged molester, told him they were false. he has no tore proof to offer me.

    You were *in charge* so to speak for years. Since you supposedly know *the truth* why don’t you do what I try to do with each post? You should make your case by offering proof.

    As for your dig at anonymous people, you are hoping to do the same thing.

    Vague and almost never supported accusations, e.g., “the posting of it on this website is unfortunate, as are many of the false rumors in the comments…here…” is always, in my experience, just a smear from someone who’s actually rather cowardly and just looking to defame. The fact that it’s not supported by a single word of evidence is strong evidence that what’s being said is entirely true. Otherwise, of course they’d have told us what was untrue. Does anyone here think Dallas wouldn’t have delighted in pointing out a series of lies being told about Harvest leaders and defending himself? Or are we to believe he just held back on refuting all this defamation out of a righteous desire to turn the other cheek? Maybe out of kindness because he didn’t want to embarrass anyone too much?

    Personally, I call bull. If you had anything, Dallas, you’d have shared it. Making vague accusations like that is true slander. That’s it right there. You have any lies and untrue rumors to highlight that are being spread here, out with them. You might find people here are a lot more willing to retract and set things right than the crowd you’ve run with.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  123. Law Prof: TS00

    SiteSeer,

    True. When I left the church I had served very visibly in for over a decade, ONE person made the effort to seek me out to wish me farewell. This in spite of the fact that our family was the friendly face that attracted many, the ones who were always approachable, in a way that the cool, distant pastor could not be. I can only imagine what was said as explanation, particularly as my spouse (still blindly loyal) remained much longer than I, until our children put up a united appeal to leave.

    Sadly, I was guilty of the same in my day, taking the word of the pastor that those who left us were ‘never one of us’.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  124. SiteSeer: This is so very true!

    Sadly, it is not uncommon to find that in time of great loss, the church is not really there for them at all…it was all a grand illusion…

    Churches that are run like cults do not encourage true friendships. That is because genuine relationships among people are an existential threat to the cult. If people develop So they’ll speak of “doin church together”, or “kingdom life”, or some such nonsense. But not genuine relationships. At a lot of these churches, you try and start an unapproved Bible study on the side, they’ll shut it down or insist on putting an “approved” church leader in control. If people develop real relationships, they might start talking and could stand up against the abuse.

    They don’t want you to have real relationships; the system’s designed to prevent them.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  125. Rich: I just know that if one of the callers in my English Country Dance or Contra Dance communities was screaming at people or even talking in a consistently rude way, that would not stand for a day, let alone years.

    This is something that all Christians in a church community should take to heart. Why is any pastor allowed to act like this? Or allowed to keep anything hidden from those who are part of the community? Why would a person, individually, or a community put up with this behavior?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  126. SiteSeer: This is so very true!
    Sadly, it is not uncommon to find that in time of great loss, the church is not really there for them after all, that in case of health problems that make one unable to serve, they are quickly forgotten, that the great majority of those friendships have a tendency to evaporate or even turn to shunning if put to the test; that it was all a grand illusion, after all the time, effort and loyalty invested. You were part of a workforce which brought a feeling of camaraderie and purpose and fellowship. Once you step out of that or can no longer take part, the machine moves on without you.

    This also is so very true! Well said, both TS00 and SiteSeer.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  127. Clevin: Does anyone have examples of big churches that are emblems of integrity?

    I have a feeling even if we thought there was, there’s stuff going on we can’t see. I mean, everyone thought Willow Creek was that church…

    I don’t know that there isn’t a fair amount of corruption in smaller churches, but it seems to me once pastors start making huge amounts of money, it becomes more and more important to maintain or increase that above all else.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  128. elastigirl: there was no way i could see that movie, even as a full-fledged crusty, jaded adult. i’m so glad i resisted & refused all the pressure the christian community put on everyone concerning that film.

    You’re not alone elastigirl, there’s no way I could watch it either.
    Almighty God himself being murdered by a corrupt religious cabal in collusion with the Roman military.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  129. Law Prof,

    I would disagree. The following is an extract from LookinguntoJesus.net

    “Presbuterous, Episkopos & Poimen
    Posted on September 7, 1997 by admin
    William J. Stewart

    Anyone reading the title of this week’s article might very well say, “It’s Greek to me,” and would be right! The three terms above are from the Greek language, the original language in which the New Testament Scriptures were written. All three words refer to one position or office within the church, that of the elders. Some may, and some may not know what the elders of a church are, and therefore, we might find this to be a much needed study regarding the church that Jesus established.

    PRESBUTEROS, when translated to our English language becomes elder or presbyter. The word contains with it a reference to age. In our common language, we use the word elder to describe one who is older than ourselves. We will note however, that within the church, the world elder is not only a reference to age, but also a position or office of the church. It is a position of authority and responsibility. Consider the following Scriptures:

    “Now the apostles and elders [PRESBUTEROS] came together to consider this matter.” (Acts 15:6)

    “Let the elders [PRESBUTEROS] who rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in the word and doctrine.” (1 Timothy 5:17)

    “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders [PRESBUTEROS] in every city as I commanded you…” (Titus 1:5)

    “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders [PRESBUTEROS] of the church, and let them pray over him…” (James 5:14)

    EPISKOPOS, translated in English is an overseer or a bishop. It has reference to one who is seen as a care giver, or guardian for the church. Consider the following Scriptures:

    “For a bishop [EPISKOPOS] must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money.” (Titus 1:7)

    “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops [EPISKOPOS] and deacons…” (Philippians 1:1)

    POIMEN, is translated to English as either pastor or shepherd. A pastor or shepherd is one who devotes themselves to the care of the flock which is placed under his control. Consider the following Scriptures:

    “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors [POIMEN] and teachers…” (Ephesians 4:11)

    It must be recognized that all three words refer to the same position within the church.

    PRESBUTEROS = EPISKOPOS = POIMEN
    Or, in English,
    PRESBYTER = ELDER = OVERSEER = BISHOP = PASTOR = SHEPHERD

    This is not a widely understood concept, nor do many consider it at all. I would ask that you take some time to think about it. As you think, consider the following passages of Scripture:

    “From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders [PRESBUTEROS] of the church…Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [EPISKOPOS], to shepherd [POIMEN] the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:17, 28)

    “The elders [PRESBUTEROS] who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder [PRESBUTEROS] and a witness of the suffering of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed; shepherd [POIMEN] the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers [EPISKOPOS], not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.” (1 Peter 5:1-2)

    As both Luke and Peter write, they use all three Greek terms in the same context, regarding the same office, filled by the same men. Therefore, an elder is a presbyter, is a bishop, is an overseer, is a pastor, is a shepherd. They are all one and the same.

    MORE CONCERNING THE ELDERSHIP
    We see in Scripture the importance placed upon the need to have elders. The elders, set in place by God Himself (Ephesians 4:11), are to watch over, tend to and care for the flock of God. They are set in place as the shepherds of God’s people, and thus are the care takers of the spiritual needs of the church. We see it mentioned on a few occasions in Scripture where elders were appointed in every city. The need for such men is apparent. A flock without herdsmen will quickly go astray. Therefore, churches today need to endeavour to attain a point where they are able to have elders.

    We must realize that there are certain qualifications given concerning elders. These qualifications must be met if one is to be a pastor for the flock of God. Consider the listing of qualifications which Paul wrote to Titus and Titus:

    “A BISHOP MUST BE…”
    According to 1 Timothy 3:1-7
    blameless
    husband of one wife
    temperate
    sober-minded
    of good behaviour
    hospitable
    able to teach
    not given to wine
    not violent
    not greedy for money
    gentle
    not quarrelsome
    not covetous
    one who rules his own house well
    not a novice
    of good testimony with those who are outside (non-Christian)
    According to Titus 1:5-9
    blameless
    husband of one wife
    having faithful children
    not self-willed
    not quick-tempered
    not given to wine
    not violent
    not greedy for money
    hospitable
    a lover of what is good
    sober-minded
    just
    holy
    self-controlled
    holding fast the faithful word
    The office of an elder is not to be taken lightly. The qualifications are very restrictive for the reason that God wants and needs the best possible candidates to lead His people. No owner of a company will hire just anyone to oversee operations. They want the best, and so does God.

    A few final remarks concerning the pastors. Note, that they are always mentioned in a plural form. Acts 20:17, Paul called the “elders.” 1 Peter 5:1, Peter exhorted the “elders.” It is never one individual who “rules” over the church, but a group of people, the elders.

    Also, we must note who it is that the elders have authority over. Peter wrote, “…Shepherd the flock of God which is among you…” Paul said, “…take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers…” The number of bishops is always plural, but the jurisdiction of these overseers is singular. The elders in one church have no say over those in another. Each church is completely autonomous, and thus, as it was written, “…appoint elders in every church…”

    Truly, we need to follow the design God laid out for the church, for in so doing, we will benefit. Remember, God is the master designer!!“

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  130. Lowlandseer: Also, we must note who it is that the elders have authority over.

    Where in scripture does God say that elders “have authority over” those they care for, or that elders should “rule over” them?

    And who appoints the elders (Disciples are no longer with us) if every church is autonomous? In every church I was part of the pastor put forth a list of men to choose from, and the pastor was appointed from outside the church. The church (ecclesia) had little say in eldership or pastor.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  131. Law Prof: He was evidently so invested in making the Dramatic Point and leaving a Big Impression that I don’t think he considered anyone else at that moment.

    Those types rarely think of anyone but themselves.

    Law Prof: Years later, the church long ago destroyed by heavy abuse and the former members scattered, a number of them atheists today, that drama pastor is now into the New Age.

    The daughter of Matt Slick (big-gun-reformed-apologist) converted to fundamental atheism.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  132. Lowlandseer: “The elders [PRESBUTEROS] who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder [PRESBUTEROS] and a witness of the suffering of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed; shepherd [POIMEN] the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers [EPISKOPOS], not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.” (1 Peter 5:1-2)

    As both Luke and Peter write, they use all three Greek terms in the same context, regarding the same office, filled by the same men. Therefore, an elder is a presbyter, is a bishop, is an overseer, is a pastor, is a shepherd. They are all one and the same.

    MORE CONCERNING THE ELDERSHIP
    We see in Scripture the importance placed upon the need to have elders. The elders, set in place by God Himself (Ephesians 4:11), are to watch over, tend to and care for the flock of God. They are set in place as the shepherds of God’s people, and thus are the care takers of the spiritual needs of the church. We see it mentioned on a few occasions in Scripture where elders were appointed in every city. The need for such men is apparent. A flock without herdsmen will quickly go astray. Therefore, churches today need to endeavour to attain a point where they are able to have elders.

    Of course, the big jump you – and those who make such claims – make is from a shepherd/overseer/elder who is to look after, protect and provide for the flock to a paid, authoritarian ruler. All three of those aspects are absent from the biblical directives in providing care and oversight to God’s children.

    It is also pure, and I would say faulty, assumption to state that the main issue is that the flock ‘will quickly go astray’. Rather, as all of these spiritually abusive situations demonstrate, the flock is likely to be deceived and preyed upon by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    A shepherd does not own the sheep, but a hireling, responsible to the true owner for seeing after them, protecting them, helping them to make their way to new pastures and safe water when the old become bare. There was no glory or wealth in being a shepherd, once one of the more despised positions due to its lowliness.

    The false institutional church was reconstituted by Constantine, who asserted the right to define and regulate what was orthodox and permissible. This was a right he, nor any man, truly had or has. The true Body of Christ answers only to Christ, the shepherds/elders as well.

    In any normal group setting, the members will naturally turn to the most mature and experienced among them for direction and advice. In some cases these ‘elders’ may be greater in years of living faithfully rather than simply age. What deceivers do, in the church as well as other man-made institutions, is infiltrate this natural system, substituting charismatic charlatans for genuinely mature and godly ‘elders’.

    With their ‘leadership training’, it appears that men like Hybels and MacDonald groom charismatic potential ‘leaders’ in how to control and manipulate naive, trusting believers for their own personal, or the institution’s, gain.

    It is time people reclaimed their role as the new priesthood, with no need for interceders, and kicked the false, self-serving, spiritually abusive charlatans to the curb, whether they call themselves ‘elders’, ‘pastors’, ‘priests’ or ‘Grand Poobahs’.

    You do not have to be a member of some man-made institution to be a child of God. And if the insight and oversight in wisdom and understanding must come from books or online, so be it. Funny how highly institutional types value the written word of God, yet despise the teaching of godly ‘elders’ that is available to one and all in countless books written through the ages. Oh no, we must look to whatever local shcmuck stands in our particular church pulpit and asserts that he ‘speaks for God’. I call it B.S. No self-declared elders have authority over anyone who does not put their voluntary and continued trust in them.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  133. Lowlandseer,

    Nice list. Too bad there is not a single human being on the planet that is qualified.

    And before any more electrons needlessly perish, an argument about the validity of the pastoral office vs elders is probably not the real issue in the HBC case. That ship has sailed, and size is no guarantee greed and corruption will not take over even the smallest group or home church. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I was in one that lasted three whole weeks…

    Single pastor, plural pastors, plurality of elders, are pastors even a thing? – none of that matters now.

    I suspect that there is a world of difference between what we see in the NT and what we experience in our day, even in groups that try to adhere to the so-called Biblical model. We have heard and experienced horror in groups of all models.

    Maybe the good old fashioned seven deadly sins list would be a good list to start with. They all seem to be on display at HBC.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  134. TS00,

    To answer your point about “making the jump”. You are wrong on that point.The NT writers do make the point that there should be payment and encourage readers to do so. Also such leaders do have authority (God-given). That’s not the same as authoritarian of course but there are lots of verses warning against such behaviour and other selfish motives.

    As for Noevangelical’s point that no-one on earth is so qualified, that is equally specious.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  135. Lowlandseer,

    I do sometimes wonder if we read the same Bible. The NT writers frequently warn that false teachers, wolves, charlatans will enter the church to lead people astray; others are already there and will eventually show their true colours.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  136. Law Prof: Years later, the church long ago destroyed by heavy abuse and the former members scattered, a number of them atheists today, that drama pastor is now into the New Age.

    And probably just as Drama-Rama and Fundy about it, Magick Crystals and all.
    “I AM GOD AND YOU ARE GOD AND EVERYTHING THAT GROKS IS GOD TOGETHER! (GOO GOO GA JOOB!)”)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  137. Law Prof: I think Sinclair Lewis was an emotional infant and had a lot more in common with Elmer Gantry than he had the introspection to see. He was a cynical grandstands and shameless self-promoter.

    Maybe that was why Elmer Gantry had such impact.
    It was written by someone who could easily have become Elmer Gantry if he’d gone into religion instead of literature. There’s an AUTHENTICITY in there.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  138. Muff Potter: The daughter of Matt Slick (big-gun-reformed-apologist) converted to fundamental atheism.

    It seems fairly common that if the truly informed Reformed do not return to their faith in a God who loves all men they eventually end up atheists. (Many self-claimed Reformed do not really know or embrace the God their theology demands, so it’s not an issue.) That’s my personal experience after over a decade in the fold, and several years since interacting with many former Reformed folk; no offense intended. Most of those who attended my former Calvinist Church have wandered back to non-Reformed churches; several others have rejected God altogether.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  139. ex HCA Staff: Someone should also dig into the incident regarding the video of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ that was shown to HCA ELEMENTARY school children without any warning or notice to parents in the first year of the school’s history during Holy Week.

    TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS?
    NO SKUBALON?

    Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ is one of the most GRAPHIC and INTENSE and VIOLENT art films ever made. If it weren’t for the subject matter, it would have been rated X (violence) and denounced by Christians as Violence/Torture porn. My writing partner (the burned-out preacher) described it as “the best movie I don’t ever want to see again”. AND PREACHER-MAN INFLICTED THAT ON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS? I REMEMBER STORIES OF FREAKOUTS AND LONG-TERM TERROR REACTIONS FROM CHURCH SCREENINGS OF THIEF IN THE NIGHT — WHAT WOULD YOU EXPECT FROM DOING THE SAME TO YOUNGER KIDS WITH PASSION OF THE CHRIST?

    But there was some dark humor in the hoopla surrounding it.

    The Evangelical Bubble proclaimed it a “Witnessing Tool” (as if that was the only reason for anything) — and then bought out so many showings a lot of the theaters had to discontinue group tickets. (They had to turn away so many customers while the church buses pulled up singing hymns for what had effectively become sold-out private showings.)

    And the Christians who took Bibles and Tracts into the theaters for a little Soul-Winning(TM) after the movie had softened up the marks. Backfired twice over. Not only were the target audience all Christians (from the above buyouts), the would-be Soul-Winners went into shock after the intensity of the showing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  140. Lowlandseer: I do sometimes wonder if we read the same Bible.

    No. We simply interpret the words through a different filter.

    Lowlandseer: The NT writers frequently warn that false teachers, wolves, charlatans will enter the church to lead people astray; others are already there and will eventually show their true colours.

    They’re showing their colors alright. They can be seen all over Evangelicalism.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  141. Lowlandseer,

    But isn’t the model you commented on the same model that HBC followed and totally bollixed up? It’s not like a plurality of elders guarantees anything, or multiple pastors is anything special. Authoritarianism can still be the order of the day in any setting of any size. And just because there is a list of qualifications doesn’t mean that men won’t lie to gain access, or construct a pseudo religion to hide in.

    Does it matter if they were technically doing it right if it ends up with a lot of shredded Christians on the other side?

    Both HBC & WC had a plurality of elders and a single pastor as the head of their church. Look what that got them. It certainly didn’t protect anyone. Can you really fault someone for thinking that maybe they got their ideas on Pastors & elders wrong? Or maybe their model for doing church is wrong? How many disasters do we need to see before people ask legitimate questions?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  142. Noevangelical: Both HBC & WC had a plurality of elders and a single pastor as the head of their church. Look what that got them.

    Both HBC and WBC had a plurality of Yes-Men Courtiers around a Pastor/Dictator – “O COME LET US ADORE HIM!”

    You don’t even need a Pastor/Dictator at the peak for things to go sour. In the Seventies, I got mixed up in an end-of-the-world cult “Fellowship(TM)” that didn’t have any single leader figure — only a “plurality of (20-to-25-year old) elders”. General Groupthink consensus did the job very well by itself.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  143. Bridget,

    A lot to think about these days!
    Size, style, structure, statements, staff…..have not guaranteed us safe and healthy churches.

    Very sobering time for disciples of the living God, our Saviour Lord Jesus.
    And we are in the Lent season.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  144. birdoftheair: Very sobering time for disciples of the living God, our Saviour Lord Jesus

    Indeed. While the vast majority of pastors and churches can be trusted, disciples who have experienced a betrayal of trust have become sobered by the thought of joining another church.

    “Trust” (Cambridge Dictionary): to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable.

    Every church leader should be good and honest. Every church should be safe and reliable. I envision a paradigm shift in the way we do church in America. Lord knows we need a fundamental change in the selection of leaders for the Body of Christ and an accountability system in place to keep the charlatans at bay. The Apostles warned us this would happen and to be on guard, but we haven’t done much about it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  145. Friend:
    Info on the photo is apparently wrong. Harvest Bible Chapel issued a statement today: “Pastor James MacDonald came upon a sleeping bear while walking in the back yard of his modest home today. Concerned for the vulnerable animal’s safety, he left his own gun by its side. The bear was later seen using the gun to defend itself against local mice and rabbits.”

    Yes, we must preserve the right to arm bears.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  146. Friend:
    Info on the photo is apparently wrong. Harvest Bible Chapel issued a statement today: “Pastor James MacDonald came upon a sleeping bear while walking in the back yard of his modest home today. Concerned for the vulnerable animal’s safety, he left his own gun by its side. The bear was later seen using the gun to defend itself against local mice and rabbits.”

    Yes, we must preserve the right to arm bears.

    dee:
    Friend,

    You made my laugh. When I first started reading your comment I thought it was serious and that I would have to redact the tweet. Then, I started laughing! Well played.

    Yes, Dee, we must all fight to preserve the right to arm bears!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  147. Abigail:
    Why would anyone want to kill a magnificent creature like that? Does that make you “manly?” Sad. Unless it was a danger to someone.

    To make up for their very tiny, um… sense of self-esteem. Yeah, that’s it – self-esteem. I thought my disgust for James MacDonald was as low as it could go, but when I saw that photo, it took another nosedive. Still plenty of room on the downside, I reckon. This man is a disgrace to humanity.

    What a

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  148. Lowlandseer:
    Law Prof,

    I would didegree…

    I don’t see how we’re in disagreement, at least in terms of practical application. The big issue I have is with the idea that there is this one leader, a high office that this one guy occupies in a church called the “pastor”. I don’t think one can derive that theory from that word showing up once in the entire NT in Peg 4, 4th in a list. That notion is made up nonsense, harmful.

    I don’t have a huge problem with the idea of multiple leaders who put their necks on the line like the people in the early church serving others, and because they’re typically older and recognized as more kind and stable and servant-like, people are told to consider seriously what they have to say (about the best translation of the word unfortunately translated “obey” in HEB 13:17. I don’t see how we’re in opposition.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  149. To Mr. Jenkins:

    You participated in making what is now a public mockery (an absurd misrepresentation) of the holy – the gospel of Jesus Christ. And you dare to point your finger at TWW participants, and courageous Dee? After reading each post on this matter, I cannot find a single one that brings dishonor to the Lord Jesus. Not one. (And our atheist friend shows humility, respect, and insight.)
    “Amen” to all those who have written “shame on you.”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  150. I have been following this blog for a while but have not commented until now. It is the internal nagging I have following Dee’s post on Friday about JD Hall and Braxton Caner.

    Credibility has been diminished. Throughout the many posts, including this one, there has been some balance and at least an appearance to be open for discussion, albeit without original proof. That changed on Friday. Even the FAQ section of this blog states Dee and Deb are interested in conflict, and I am graciously assuming they mean to help resolve it, not continue or inflame it. They stated goal is to also expose hypocrisy and arrogance. Yet the first line in that post was that Dee would not allow comments. Why? Because of pain.

    Bad decisions lead to pain. That is part of our fallen world. Speaking about things which are painful ultimately helps us to learn, heal, and move on. No one is forced to read comments and subject themselves to more pain, however, that discussion could help others in dealing or confronting issues.

    So why not allow comments? Why is the main blogger and moderator so quick to shut down comments. Some comments lead to some questions. And who on this blog doesn’t love questions to be answered and truth to be revealed.

    Dee fully admits Hall scares her. I presume this is because he has a much bigger platform, but if that is not the reason, I am open to hear. Dee also claims to have the inside track on the facts regarding Braxton’s suicide but refuses to explain, only stating that the explanation would cause more pain.

    Without any explanation, Dee says she is convinced that Hall is repentant. And she is asking everyone to back off.

    I do not believe this is an endorsement of P&P, but I do believe this shows fear. Worse, I believe this shows arrogance on Dee’s part – “And believe you me…” Unless you give facts and verifiable information how do we know this is not part of a plan to cover things up? And if this instance is questionable, then all posts and claims are questionable and credibility goes out the window – all because Dee knows best for everyone and will not allow discussion after making claims with no supporting evidence.

    There is no believing without proof. That is the foundation of our faith. Now this is a dichotomy because we are speaking about faith because we cannot know all facts of God, but what is done on this earth is grounded in facts and with witnesses. The proof of the Jesus’s death and resurrection is what allows us to have faith in the things unseen.

    Be wary of falling into the trappings you so boldly wish expose. Remove the plank so the splinter can be clearly seen. Once credibility is lost, it is hard to regain. Once fear grasps and security is sought, the ability and desire to do the right thing and think critically becomes nearly impossible when it means you too could be hurt or humbled.

    For those who regularly read this blog, question with critical thinking, demand proof for claims made, and hold those posting and commenting to the same standards being written about. There are many claims on this blog but very little proof from original sources, only alleged copies and pastes. We want proof, not opinion, so we can weed out the arrogance from others who believe they know best and will determine what the rest should think and believe.

    But if conflict is the goal, keep on keeping on.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  151. It’s like a slow drip how the top dogs at HBC are resigning one by one! And not many have truly repented I think. They been negotiating a retirement package before all the properties foreclose and there’s no more cash! It’s been about the cash for the last 20 years! 5G, Closer Campaign…. Jeepers we were fools!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  152. Law Prof: Probably.

    Lol. Crazy, huh? I read your posts as a searing, agonized, utterly sincere *cri de ceour.* Gaga sees them as self-righteous. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

    God bless, Law Prof. My heart goes out to you.

    BTW, off topic, y’all, but would appreciate prayers for my 94-year-old FIL, who apparently has just days (or even hours) to live. Thank you!!!!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  153. TS00,

    I love you, TS100, and I appreciate so much of what you say. But please, enough with the Evil Baddy-Bad-Bad Constantine Nonsense. How many times must those facile a-historical Fundy myths be refuted before they are finally and definitively laid to rest?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  154. To new commenters
    I do not live to approve comments. I was at a Lenten service and helping with confirmation this evening. I approve as soon as I have a moment. You also have no idea what else is happening. Something major happened this evening and I will speak about when I can.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  155. Catholic Gate-Crasher: Lol. Crazy, huh? I read your posts as a searing, agonized, utterly sincere *cri de ceour.* Gaga sees them as self-righteous. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

    God bless, Law Prof. My heart goes out to you.

    BTW, off topic, y’all, but would appreciate prayers for my 94-year-old FIL, who apparently has just days (or even hours) to live. Thank you!!!!

    Oh, I probably am too self-righteous or self-centered or something. My family get in my face from time to time over it. It’s true, though, this is kind of an agonized therapy for me, and I am sincere. Sometimes sincerely wrong. God bless your father-in-law. And your husband who’s probably going through a rough one. And of course you.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  156. PJ,

    I don’t get the impression that Dee is OK with Hall at all. She’s gone out of her way to state otherwise. Check her Twitter. So be careful, don’t shoot before you think.

    Some things are great for a public airing, where it’s completely right. Some things are not. Elsewhere on this thread I talked about a situation where it’d be cruel imo to air public matters. If a family’s personal pain about a very private matter doesn’t fit that category, I don’t know what would. That’s their business, doesn’t have jack to do with church abuse.

    If Dee’s afraid of Hall, she sure hasn’t done a very good job of living it out. She’s gone after him more than most.

    I’ll be blunt, your post is silly. And you sound profoundly arrogant. Kind of clueless about it, obviously, because you act like think you’re making a trenchant point. Trust me, you’re not.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  157. Jmac is an uncare bear, so is Dallas Jenkins for that matter.

    Jenkins is jealous that he couldn’t run the con as well as Jmac.

    Oh well we can’t all have cheese with our ‘mac’, Dallas, old son.

    I vote Law Prof for king!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  158. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    I’ve tried to leave TWW twice to go fishing or something, but my fans urged me to stay. 🙂 You and the other TWW regulars feel like family. So this ole guy is here until the Lord moves me along or my comments stop making sense (please tell me if they do).

    I prayed for your father-in-law and your family just now. May you feel God’s presence and peace in the days ahead.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  159. Jack:

    I vote Law Prof for king!

    Not even fit to be chair of my department at Average State U. In full disclosure, not even a full prof or anything big, just a lecturer…and a snarky middle aged guy who was such a great lawyer I had to get a job teaching to make a living. 🙂

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  160. Max,

    “but my fans urged me to stay. You and the other TWW regulars feel like family. So this ole guy is here until the Lord moves me along or my comments stop making sense (please tell me if they do).”
    +++++++++++++++++++++

    you are a very comforting presence here, Max.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  161. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    I am sorry that my concerns about the institutional church from day one cause you distress. I assure you that I do not see it as a ‘Catholic’ problem, nor do I believe that all involved in the institutional church through the centuries have done so with wrong intentions. But I still hold to my opinions, and consider them at least worthy of consideration for those who look at this mess and wonder how we got here. No ill will intended, and I will add your f-i-l and family to my prayers.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  162. Law Prof,

    While I don’t agree with all PJ says, I will say that I too have concerns whenever free speech is abridged, however well intended the reasons.

    I do not see how Hall could seriously be held responsible for the tragic suicide of the young man, but am appreciative that the whole sorry event led him to reevaluate his heart. I have never followed P & P, as I do not care for their theology nor their approach. One of my concerns with much of the Reformed world is their higher regard for doctrine and authority over the individual lost and needy soul. It is somewhat inevitable, as their theology asserts that the lost are not so much ‘lost’ as rejected and doomed by eternal decree from the get go. Kinda hard to swear praise and honor to the sovereign terminator while feeling sorry for his victims at the same time.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  163. RadMan7: Credibility has been diminished.

    For you, maybe, but not for most here. Dee has been at it for over ten years. The post you refer to is maybe one of two that she didn’t allow comments. So, out of well over 1600 posts she doesn’t allow comments on maybe two and that leads to your rant of a comment?

    Sad.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  164. TS00:
    Law Prof,

    While I don’t agree with all PJ says, I will say that I too have concerns whenever free speech is abridged, however well intended the reasons.

    I do not see how Hall could seriously be held responsible for the tragic suicide of the young man, but am appreciative that the whole sorry event led him to reevaluate his heart. I have never followed P & P, as I do not care for their theology nor their approach. One of my concerns with much of the Reformed world is their higher regard for doctrine and authority over the individual lost and needy soul. It is somewhat inevitable, as their theology asserts that the lost are not so much ‘lost’ as rejected and doomed by eternal decree from the get go. Kinda hard to swear praise and honor to the sovereign terminator while feeling sorry for his victims at the same time.

    Remember, free speech is about what the government can and can’t do, doesn’t have diddly to do with a private forum. I can completely understand why Dee wouldn’t want people here to be dragging stuff out and speculating about a teenage boy. It just doesn’t seem to be relevant (at least to me) to anything that this blog’s about. Now if some pastor or group of elders is abusing people, then gloves off. But this just doesn’t seem to fit. As for J.D. Hall, I’ve been consistent here and elsewhere under another net handle and under my actual name that I don’t think the guy’s up to any good at all, either years ago or now. Gut tells me he’s just another narcissist, and this latest incarnation is another game. Of course I’m not omniscient, only God knows. So that’s just an opinion. But one way or the other, my instincts about Hall don’t alter my opinion that Dee likely has good reasons to not want to use this forum to air a family’s personal tragedy any more. I tend to trust her judgment here.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  165. Law Prof: “the posting of it on this website is unfortunate, as are many of the false rumors in the comments

    I do have to apologize for a comment that I made that was based on my faulty memory of the facts. I tracked down the World Magazine article on Jerry Jenkins’ gambling – from which I had gleaned what little info I had – and saw that it mentioned that Dallas also participated in online poker, and that another son was a dealer at a real live casino. So my statement that Dallas may have run an online poker site, and suggestion that it might be questionable concerning MacDonald were off base. I do apologize to Dallas, and to anyone I may have misled with my faulty information. I should have rechecked my facts before commenting.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  166. Muff Potter: You’re not alone elastigirl, there’s no way I could watch it either.
    Almighty God himself being murdered by a corrupt religious cabal in collusion with the Roman military.

    I’m amazed to find I’m not alone on this. I can hardly stand to read that section in my Bible, much less watch it acted out.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  167. Lowlandseer,

    I feel like all of the verses you quoted would work just as well if it was translated “the older, mature believers in the church.” I see nothing denoting an “office.” It seems like to me that in a group of people, these things sort themselves out without anyone declaring it to be a ‘position’ and appointing people to it. We all know who is trustworthy, mature and wise to go to for advice or counsel. We all know who to go to who can explain the meaning of a passage with more insight than anyone else. We know these things intrinsically by knowing the people. By creating ‘offices’ and ‘appointing people’ to them, we actually kind of circumvent that innate wisdom, we say this here guy has the title, he’s the one, even if he’s actually all facade and no substance. I think these gifts are operating as God intended, outside of the systems we’ve designed and created.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  168. SiteSeer: I see nothing denoting an “office.” It seems like to me that in a group of people, these things sort themselves out without anyone declaring it to be a ‘position’ and appointing people to it.

    The history of church offices is a bit more complicated. By the end of the first century there are already offices of bishop, priest, and deacon. The Didache and letters of Ignatius and Clement confirm this, as well as other writings from the early second century. I am not suggesting that this is or is not the way Jesus intended for his church. But if these offices are wrong it means the wheels fell of of the Church extremely early in its history.

    Here is a short article describing the NT words used for the offices:
    https://classroom.synonym.com/the-role-of-the-clergy-in-the-greek-orthodox-church-12087637.html

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  169. Dallas Jenkins: Neither Dean Butters nor I wanted our letters published.

    […] it’s unfortunate that people are making them public.

    I wish that the decision to be a public figure in this scandal was left to the individual, not to third parties.

    Dallas,

    I can understand your desire not to become a public figure. This is even more understandable in our world of online abuse.

    That being said, I would think there is great value in making this public: as a warning for potential future victims of James MacDonald. THis man should never be in a position of authority again, and even less in one of “spiritual authority” (whatever that may mean).

    He should never again have a say in how people live their lives.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  170. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    This resource is better: https://www.archbalt.org/clergy-personnel-division/bishops-priests-deacons/

    There is also this interesting statement by Ignatuius (martyred in 108 AD):

    LET EVERYONE REVERE THE DEACONS AS JESUS CHRIST, THE BISHOP AS THE IMAGE OF THE FATHER, AND THE PRESBYTERS AS THE SENATE OF GOD AND THE ASSEMBLY OF THE APOSTLES. FOR WITHOUT THEM ONE CANNOT SPEAK OF THE CHURCH.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  171. elastigirl,

    I agree,
    I was just telling my wife this morning, that all the corruption that gets exposed on TWW is actually quite consistent with the NT warning of beware of wolves in sheeps clothing…. all of this “stuff” was predicted by the NT….
    us gray hairs, unfortunately, have experienced allot (hence gray hair), and the funny thing is that while technology progresses, human behavoir really does not change…. so, if as Max says, if we do not get senile, or too bitter or cynical, our life experinces can at least put current “disasters” in “perspective”…. I firmly believe we are experiencing another “reformation”…. this time facilatated by the internet, just like the last one was with the printing press..

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  172. SiteSeer: older and wiser men

    Well, age doesn’t always equal wisdom, but it helps! When you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn some things. It’s sad to have lived to such a ripe old age to witness a generation that doesn’t respect their elders as they ought. And particularly sad to see younger church folks not benefiting from the council of senior saints. The church needs the wisdom of age coupled with the energy of youth … young folks to speed things up a bit, old folks to slow it down when necessary.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  173. PJ,

    Maybe you missed the point of her post. I read that as a statement, not a post open for discussion, and an appeal to stop the speculation and kibitzing over a tragic situation. What would have been the point to allow comments after asking that?

    I agree with those who say that Dee is fair with her control of her blog. When you pay for it then maybe you can make your own rules. Or get your own blog and allow comments to your heart’s content. And it is bad form to hijack a thread to comment on a topic when asked not to. So there is that…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  174. Ken F (aka Tweed):…if these offices are wrong it means the wheels fell of of the Church extremely early in its history.

    Several decades is quite a long time for a good, biblical non-hierarchical to hold on. Looks like they got down into the great-grandchildren before the Church degenerated to the “ways of the gentiles”. That’s a remarkably long time for the wheels to fall off.

    The neocalvinist church where I was an elder, which started off without one big head leader who called himself “pastor”, and people generally treating people decently, lasted a year or so before the guys found this “amazing, godly” 5-point calvinist who’d been on John MacArthur’s staff at GCC and had been a leader in SGM…and then he took over and then he brought in his right-hand man from another state to be the leader of the elder team and then those two decided that the elders in place had been given too much unbiblical power over the pastor and so we all had to cede all authority to him and just be good friends without all these unbiblical checks and balances on the man whom the Lord had hand-picked to be over us.

    That’s when the insanity really began. The whole cycle, from start to implosion and disbanding the church, was about five years. So when I see the original Church held out for a few generations, I think “Wow, amazing foundation!”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  175. Law Prof: Sandy:
    Law Prof,

    In the history of the church, which is most seductive:money, sex, or power?

    Yowzers, you have me stumped. “All of the above” is not an option, but it seems hard to pick one over any other.

    Is it not ‘All of the above’ and then some? What they all have in common is serving self interest, whereas the crux of the life and message of Jesus is that the way to life is to lay down self and serve others.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  176. Law Prof: Sandy:
    Law Prof,

    In the history of the church, which is most seductive:money, sex, or power?

    I would break it down this way:

    Pre-1970 … power (denominational competition for theological control of the Body of Christ)

    Post-1970 … money (mega-madness begins, 6-figure salaries, limelight, mansions, jets)

    However, unfaithful leaders who pursue anything but the cause of Christ as the primary driver for “ministry” fall easily for all three.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  177. Noevangelical:
    Lowlandseer,

    But isn’t the model you commented on the same model that HBC followed and totally bollixed up? It’s not like a plurality of elders guarantees anything, or multiple pastors is anything special. Authoritarianism can still be the order of the day in any setting of any size. And just because there is a list of qualifications doesn’t mean that men won’t lie to gain access, or construct a pseudo religion to hide in.

    Does it matter if they were technically doing it right if it ends up with a lot of shredded Christians on the other side?

    Both HBC & WC had a plurality of elders and a single pastor as the head of their church. Look what that got them. It certainly didn’t protect anyone. Can you really fault someone for thinking that maybe they got their ideas on Pastors & elders wrong? Or maybe their model for doing church is wrong? How many disasters do we need to see before people ask legitimate questions?

    I truly believe God provides the grace for elders to walk in the attributes in 1Tim 3…but if a church isn’t even looking at those things—but rather recommends a person onto an elder board because he/she is “strategic” or a “fundraiser” or a CEO or a finance person or a large donor (or whatever nonsensical qualification they THINK they need)…this is the departure that I think God says no to.

    While I’m not one of those men who consistently meets the qualification for eldership, I do know several who do. THEY are the ones who the Lord calls upon to should humbly shepherd the flock.

    When I now go to a church, I want to speak with elders and listen to what they are saying and how they are behaving and whether they are willing to reveal how much the pastor is making. These aren’t hard hurdles for true elders to get through…but if you ask a church elder to tell you about their elders and it comes back with a set of corporate jargon? I say run.

    You don’t have to watch a person for very long to discern whether that person is a grace filled believer or not. Evangelicalism began going after talent over “the least among you” and I truly believe it actually is a large part of the failing of all of these churches. It’s not all of it, but it’s certainly a substantive portion.

    Jenkins himself was brought on as an elder at Harvest…why was he chosen? Because he met the qualifications for eldership? Color me cynical here but I’m thinking his last name and his media prowess was what was driving that.

    And he was “promoted” to the XLT or whatever??

    Wow. And now he’s trying to explain to all of us how the 2000 people that left and who were shunned by the Harvesr machine that we somehow need to “let the Lord work to save Harvest”?

    Dallas, I have news for you. God doesn’t need Harvest and in fact I’d be willing to say the spirit of Jezebel has been leading that place since the early 2000s…

    Harvest needs to close because there as a beacon to the rest of the world as to what happens when talent trumps the grace of God so feeely given to us in repentance and a broken heart.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  178. Well that was my first comment ever and somehow my formatting is a mess.

    The first three paragraphs above is what I was hoping to comment on lol

    Everything after those three paragraphs is my comment. For the one or two people who read ALL the way through these comments to my own.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  179. Lowlandseer:
    Noevangelical,

    To be brief. If the elders measured them selves against the qualities needed for the job and found themselves lacking, they should have withdrawn or the church members should have made the decision for them.

    LLS, honest question – in all of these “elder rule” setups I’ve ever seen, there is no mechanism at all for pew peons to do as you note and hold elders accountable for anything. The setup of “elder rule” is, in effect, “completely unaccountable rule-by-crony”. How would church members do what you recommend?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  180. Gus,

    Gus,

    JMac should never pastor another church ever and Dallas needs to take a look at himself and why he was chosen for that elder board. Was it because he met the qualifications for eldership? If not, he served as an “elder” when he wasn’t one and we call that a fraud…

    And there were boatloads of frauds on those elder boards…

    How do I know? Because I was asked to consider serving on the elder board there three days before I left…and the topic of 1Tim 3 wasn’t brought up. I was a strong donor who loved the church and served in multiple areas…I was in a good place spiritually…but I didn’t meet the qualifications. Just them asking me to become an elder told me something was wrong…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  181. GreekEpigraph,

    I appreciate your comment…

    I would say that the church you reference may have never had an ACTUAL elder then…

    Crony to crony—and I hear you and see it all the time—but to me? It just means there was (and is) nothing in that church resembling a true church. The lampstand was removed a long time ago. Aka dead church.

    I hate using this corporate example but if you have a CEO of your company who does not meet the qualifications for that job, what happens? The company typically gets sick and dies—sometimes quickly and sometimes suddenly…but it dies.

    If a church tries to appoint elders who don’t meet the qualifications for eldership…the church dies. It becomes a social club or a corporation or a cult or whatever. But no matter what, it will get bent quickly if that’s what’s happening. And today we have 50 year old churches that went afowl 45 years ago…they may have all of the teminology down and believe they are the magisterium protecting the “truth”, but they are dead and God’s Spirit has left. Usually being replaced by a “building program” or a new “strategic plan” or a “new school” blah blah blah.

    When God leaves, it always becomes about something else…it’s amazing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  182. John: I was asked to consider serving on the elder board there three days before I left…and the topic of 1Tim 3 wasn’t brought up. I was a strong donor who loved the church and served in multiple areas…I was in a good place spiritually…but I didn’t meet the qualifications. Just them asking me to become an elder told me something was wrong…

    Thank you John for your honesty and insight into elder selection at HBC. Do you consider the primary reason for being asked to serve as an elder was that you were a “strong donor” since you say you did not meet Biblical qualifications for that office?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  183. Ken F (aka Tweed): LET EVERYONE REVERE THE DEACONS AS JESUS CHRIST, THE BISHOP AS THE IMAGE OF THE FATHER, AND THE PRESBYTERS AS THE SENATE OF GOD AND THE ASSEMBLY OF THE APOSTLES. FOR WITHOUT THEM ONE CANNOT SPEAK OF THE CHURCH

    I don’t know, Ken. This statement just doesn’t sound much like what Jesus talked to the twelve about. It sounds more like men puffing up their status among the brothers . . .

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  184. John: When I now go to a church, I want to speak with elders

    Church, this is good advice for all of us! If the elders aren’t spiritual men, consider another church. If the elders are in place primarily because they are buds of the pastor (yes-men), wealthy, prominent in the community, popular in the church … but do not meet the Biblical qualifications to serve in that sacred office … if there is no evidence in their lives of being filled with the Holy Spirit and being above reproach … then you have a Harvest Bible Chapel or Willow Creek mess waiting to happen, regardless of the size of the ministry.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  185. GreekEpigraph: there is no mechanism at all for pew peons to do as you note and hold elders accountable for anything

    That’s why the early church had congregational governance, rather than elder rule polity … the Body of Christ had a say in who the church leaders were.

    “Choose from among you seven men with good reputations, men of godly character and moral integrity, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task … The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected …” (Acts 6:5-6).

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  186. Max: That’s why the early church had congregational governance, rather than elder rule polity … the Body of Christ had a say in who the church leaders were.

    “Choose from among you seven men with good reputations, men of godly character and moral integrity, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task … The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected …” (Acts 6:5-6).

    Most of those I’ve heard and experienced who tout elder-rule polity will say that this passage says anything but pew peons having any say in elder or pastor selection and/or accountability. That’s why I’m asking LLS (and Ken/Tweed, if he wants) – how do these “worship men, not God” structures ever have any mechanisms at all to keep from going wildly off the rails? If they depend entirely on the good will or humility of the elder-elects themselves and (no-teeth-allowed, no mechanism for) church members having a say?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  187. Bridget: I don’t know, Ken. This statement just doesn’t sound much like what Jesus talked to the twelve about. It sounds more like men puffing up their status among the brothers . . .

    When I started diving into church history I was hoping and expecting to find an early church that looked like small home groups with decentralized leadership. Instead, all the surviving records appear to show the Church was liturgical and sacramental from the beginning, with established offices of bishops, priests, and deacons. And it appears that this started with the first generation after the original apostles since Ignatius was discipled by the Apostle John and Clement was trained under Peter and James. If there was the type of church model I had hoped to find it did not appear to make it into the historical records. Rather, it appears that the early church looked much more Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglican than low-church protestant. That said, the bishops, priests, and deacons are supposed to be models of humility and servanthood. Sadly, many have not served well. I am not saying that I am a proponent of hierarchy. I only point out that the historical evidence is not what we protestants want it to be.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  188. GreekEpigraph: That’s why I’m asking LLS (and Ken/Tweed, if he wants) – how do these “worship men, not God” structures ever have any mechanisms at all to keep from going wildly off the rails? If they depend entirely on the good will or humility of the elder-elects themselves and (no-teeth-allowed, no mechanism for) church members having a say?

    I am not Eastern Orthodox but I have been looking into it. The laity has a huge role in keeping “leaders” in check, at least theoretically. For example, priests cannot conduct divine liturgy without laity present, the liturgy cannot proceed without the participation of the laity saying “amen” during various parts of the liturgy and prayers, and bishops cannot ordain priests with the “amen” of the laity in the congregation. So at least in theory there are checks and balances. I bring up Eastern Orthodoxy because its dogma and practices are very old.

    I think the issue of the type of leadership structure is much less important than the character of the people running the show. One can attempt to form a very egalitarian group where no one is in charge, but it only works until a dysfunctional person makes a power grab. This will always happen, there is no way to avoid it. What is an egalitarian group to do I when bullies take over?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  189. John: JMac should never pastor another church ever

    I believe that would be the consensus of the Body of Christ at large, after getting a glimpse of his shenanigans. Unfortunately, the American church is such a mess that it provides sufficient wiggle room for charlatans to launch another “ministry” and drag the precious name of Christ through the streets again. Forgive MacDonald if he genuinely repents? Certainly! Restore him to ministry? Never! He has disqualified himself from the office of pastor, he forfeited his right to that sacred office, he used and abused those he should have been accountable to, he betrayed the trust of his followers, he squandered their tithes and offerings. There are other places for the truly repentant to serve in the church.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  190. Ken F (aka Tweed): The history of church offices is a bit more complicated. By the end of the first century there are already offices of bishop, priest, and deacon. The Didache and letters of Ignatius and Clement confirm this, as well as other writings from the early second century. I am not suggesting that this is or is not the way Jesus intended for his church. But if these offices are wrong it means the wheels fell of of the Church extremely early in its history.

    Here is a short article describing the NT words used for the offices:
    https://classroom.synonym.com/the-role-of-the-clergy-in-the-greek-orthodox-church-12087637.html

    </blockquot
    I think you are correct in noting this early Church writer's statements.

    I was led to view Clement of Rome as a sort of beloved father in our historical progression. Then I read actual instructions on the veneration of Elders as of Christ himself. This is no different then the very worst of false teachers in 2019.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  191. Ken F (aka Tweed): Rather, it appears that the early church looked much more Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Anglican than low-church protestant. That said, the bishops, priests, and deacons are supposed to be models of humility and servanthood. Sadly, many have not served well. I am not saying that I am a proponent of hierarchy. I only point out that the historical evidence is not what we protestants want it to be.

    I agree that there is hierarchy in the churches from very early. I would like to believe, and I think there’s pretty good textual evidence that this is valid, that what Jesus and the apostles intended (and that apparently did not continue for very long after the passing of the apostolic generation) was that the hierarchy would be a hierarchy of self-giving. Christ gave Himself for His people and that kind of sacrificial self-giving love was meant to be characteristic of those who “stood in Christ’s place” in “offices of authority” in the churches. Jesus was dismayed by self-seeking among His disciples; “he who would be great among you must become the servant of all.”

    It’s a modern proverb that in organizations characterized by power differentials, mistreatment flows downhill. In a godly biblical hierarchy, what would ‘flow downhill’ would be love and care.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  192. Ken F (aka Tweed): I think the issue of the type of leadership structure is much less important than the character of the people running the show. One can attempt to form a very egalitarian group where no one is in charge, but it only works until a dysfunctional person makes a power grab. This will always happen, there is no way to avoid it. What is an egalitarian group to do I when bullies take over?

    Maybe that’s why the history of the church is a history of exodus from established groups and setting up of new ones? A continual cycle without end. It’s happening now; how many of us are refugees from groups that went awol?

    Even during Christ’s life the disciples were weighing out who was most important and who would take the position above all the others. Human nature, I guess. What are sheep to do? Is there a foolproof system that can’t be gamed? They all rest on the character of the persons involved. I don’t have any answers.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  193. John,

    “I truly believe God provides the grace for elders to walk in the attributes in 1Tim 3…

    …You don’t have to watch a person for very long to discern whether that person is a grace filled believer or not.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    I appreciated your comment, John. in the interest of understanding, can you explain what you mean by “grace”? How you understand the word?

    it’s, like, the top christianese word that means so many different abstract things (depending on who’s using the it) that it sort of means nothing anymore.

    the word drives me crazy.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  194. Max:
    Lauren,

    Amy Moore,

    Hmmm … it appears that “Lauren” and “Amy” are the same person.

    Indeed. My comment as Amy kept not going through so I asked a family member who’s previously posted successfully here to try using their account and they posted only half the comment because they thought maybe it was too long. There’s no edit function so it couldn’t later be deleted.

    Dee kindly explained my comment had been flagged because of some word in it and I wasn’t blocked. When she cleared the backlog, the partial Lauren went through along with my original longer one.

    I didn’t want these points to go unmade. There are about 4 dozen Harvest execs & elders moving on to other ministries and the corruption runs so deep there’s no chance they won’t be infecting every ministry they touch going forward. Truth – the WHOLE truth – is the only antidote.

    More leaders must take a stand and shine the light of truth. These execs like CFO Fred Adams and COO Scott Milholland going into church consulting are the most dangerous. They engineered the black funds and the worst of the financial abuse. They will now export it across the US.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  195. Mike Medow,

    Thanks for your kind words!

    If it’s any comfort, other steps are being taken. And I have collaborated with Ryan and Jessica, among others, throughout this. We share the common goal of wanting the abuse to stop.

    Keep reading. I’m working with a couple of other groups and IMO progress is being made. James mocking his own flock with his outrageous private Cabo party to end all parties, with the $50,000 magician, won’t go unanswered.

    His arrogance and rage unbalances him. The wheels of justice turn slowly. But they do eventually turn. His new incognito Floridian Santa Claus look won’t stop this.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  196. Amy Moore,

    It is atrocious that he is still able to ‘live the life’ and spend the money as if nothing untoward ever happened. His entire enterprise is being exposed as a fraud and a ripoff of the naive, yet he faces no repercussions inflicting so much spiritual, emotional and financial abuse. What will it take to make him accountable for at least the dollars, which should be somewhat trackable? These charlatans cannot be allowed to get away with this.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  197. SiteSeer: Is there a foolproof system that can’t be gamed?

    I don’t think so. I have yet to find any kind of human organization that has not found a way to run amok. The key is to have a system where checks and balances are in place. But that tends to require some kind of a hierarchy where some subset of the larger group comes up with stated or unstated norms and consequences for violating the norms. But who is to say whether that subset is right?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  198. John,

    “Just them asking me to become an elder told me something was wrong…”

    Wasn’t it Groucho Marx who once quipped, “I would never join an organization who would have me as a member…”?
    Cudos for your honesty.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  199. Noevangelical,

    My family faced a similar situation years ago. Why would a quickly growing church choose an unproven young man, father of very young children (along with others similarly unproven, all from our young marrieds class) to be an elder, responsible for overseeing and counseling others? All that we could come up with was that we, and they, were faithful and generous ‘givers’ and attenders of the men’s bible study. This, along with the embracing of the whole seeker-friendly, mega-church model caused us to leave the church and people we loved, difficult as it was to explain.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  200. TS00: Why would a quickly growing church choose an unproven young man, father of very young children (along with others similarly unproven, all from our young marrieds class) to be an elder, responsible for overseeing and counseling others? All that we could come up with was that we, and they, were faithful and generous ‘givers’ and attenders of the men’s bible study.

    Yikes! Echoes of “simony” as well as James 2:2-4

    —–

    There are arguably “relational dis-economies of scale” in social structures. In the military, the largest combat unit in which the commander “leads from the front” is the battalion, about 300-400 combat troops. At regiment and higher scale, the CO is at the rear, managing subordinate commanders with the aid of his staff officers. I’ve read that the “sweet spot” in church size, that combines “small enough to know the flock (and small enough that all the flock can know the leaders)” and “large enough to be endowed with a diverse array of gifts” is around 300. There may be a general principle here, perhaps related to “how many people you can know and relate to at a more than superficial level.”

    And the cash flow in a church of 300 is not so large that it is likely to corrupt the “leadership team.”

    But there’s a huge sunk cost in all the megas that dot the landscape. Hard to imagine that they would ever voluntarily fission into smaller groups.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  201. Amy Moore: There are about 4 dozen Harvest execs & elders moving on to other ministries and the corruption runs so deep there’s no chance they won’t be infecting every ministry they touch going forward.

    “A people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly!” (Isaiah 1:4)

    Wartburgers, perhaps they are coming to a church near you! Beware! Scary to think that unfaithful leaders can so easily jump from one pond to another.

    Amy Moore: Truth – the WHOLE truth – is the only antidote … More leaders must take a stand and shine the light of truth.

    “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)

    If church leaders throughout Christendom won’t take a stand to expose wayward peers and rebuke their ministry endeavors, it will be up to the pew to do this important task … to inform and warn others in the Body of Christ to beware. Thanks to TWW and other watchblogs for standing in the gap.

    Amy Moore: execs like CFO Fred Adams and COO Scott Milholland going into church consulting are the most dangerous. They engineered the black funds and the worst of the financial abuse

    “I implore you to keep a watchful eye on those who cause trouble and make difficulties among you, in plain opposition to the teaching you have been given, and steer clear of them. Such men do not really serve our Lord Jesus Christ at all but are utterly self-centred. Yet with their plausible and attractive arguments they deceive those who are too simple-hearted to see through them” (Romans 16:17).

    (Amy, thanks for the clarification on Amy/Lauren)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  202. TS00,

    Me too, back when I was in the last Bible Church. The pastor was grooming me to be an elder, made hints that I could take over for him someday. He did this knowing that I was qualified for neither. Of course, he wasn’t qualified for either so I guess that didn’t matter. It was then that the whole sham of our relationship was exposed, and when I rebuffed him he moved on to someone else.

    Turns out that he was looking to fulfill his succession plan all along, and was just cycling thru people until he found one that fit. To this day I feel used, abused, and very stupid for not catching on. I have purposely maintained my distance from my current pastor for that very reason. The damage lingers.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  203. Noevangelical,

    I am sorry for your pain. It is very difficult to regain trust when the most trusted abuse it. I once perceived this as a tragic loss, leading only to hopeless cynicism. I am now beginning to wonder if it is not simply the beginning of wisdom.

    We must put our unreserved trust in God alone, and to at least some degree view all men – even our most trusted loved ones – by their fruits. Many a victim of domestic or spiritual abuse might have been better protected by understanding this reality.

    A friend became nearly apoplectic when I tried to explain this. ‘I suppose you would doubt your own mother?’ I was asked. In reality, if the undeniable evidence leads to the sad realization that our most beloved parent, spouse, child or pastor is not who we have believed them to be, we must be willing to deal with the facts. It is unwise, and unsafe to loyally declare, ‘But I know and love so and so.’ Sadly, clever manipulators can deceive very well.

    BTW, I am 99.99% sure that my 86-year-old mother can be trusted. I’ve had 58 years to observe her fruit, and, while not perfect, she has proven generally consistent and trustworthy. If she ends up with child porn on her computer – which she can just barely turn on to view Facebook – I’m going to guess JMac or somebody planted it. 😉

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  204. Amy Moore: new incognito Floridian Santa Claus look

    For one of his theatrical performances at HBC shortly before his demise, JMac posed as a homeless man … to make a sermon point I suppose – he was so relevant, you know. Sorry to hear that he is now masquerading as Santa Claus … I’ll tell my grandchildren to be on the lookout.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  205. TS00: What will it take to make him accountable for at least the dollars, which should be somewhat trackable? These charlatans cannot be allowed to get away with this.

    Revamping the financial transparency laws for 501-c3 religious entities would be a good start. They should no longer be allowed to exempt themselves from the oversight which non-religious entities must abide by.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  206. Ken F (aka Tweed): I only point out that the historical evidence is not what we protestants want it to be.

    Thanks for the reply. I understand your point and the historical information.

    I’m, however, convinced that the original disciples didn’t completely understand what Jesus intended, nor were they able to carry out His intentions without sin in the mixture. I wish it wasn’t so. I can’t put them in the same category as Jesus himself, nor should I. It’s why I like to go to what Jesus actually said and did.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  207. TS00:
    Noevangelical,
    We must put our unreserved trust in God alone, and to at least some degree view all men – even our most trusted loved ones – by their fruits. Many a victim of domestic or spiritual abuse might have been better protected by understanding this reality.

    A friend became nearly apoplectic when I tried to explain this.

    Your apoplectic friend needs to go read the Bible, maybe one of those verses the mega preachers who demand your trust intentionally ignore or haven’t read themselves, like this one:

    “Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.” Psalms 146:3

    or this…

    “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

    or this…

    “Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with the woman who lies in your embrace guard the words of your lips. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– a man’s enemies are the members of his own household. But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:5-7

    or this…

    “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalm 118:9

    or this…

    “Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man…” Jeremiah 17:5

    I just think some people do not care one tiny little bit about what the Lord said. Just Do. Not. Care.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  208. elastigirl: the word drives me crazy.

    It drives me nutz too elastigirl.

    Abused and misused, it stands in for everything from “I can never be good enough for God to accept me”, to sin-leveling, and license to ignore my humanity and to go ahead and do the kinds of things to others I wouldn’t want done to me.

    Retch, gag, and barf, it gets old, it really does…

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  209. Law Prof: needs to go read the Bible … I just think some people do not care one tiny little bit about what the Lord said.

    It’s amazing. We have millions of church folks in America who say they would die to protect the Bible, but not many actually read it! In 21st century church, “Christians” want the pulpit to tell them what the Bible says rather than spend time discovering Truth themselves. So, as you imply, in their heart of hearts they don’t really give a big hoot about reading the precious words in red, let alone the rest of Scripture. I don’t see the point in saying that you are a Christ-follower if you don’t get to know Him through reading His Word.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  210. Max:…in their heart of hearts they don’t really give a big hoot about reading the precious words in red, let alone the rest of Scripture.I don’t see the point in saying that you are a Christ-follower if you don’t get to know Him through reading His Word.

    I don’t either.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  211. Nathan Priddis: I was led to view Clement of Rome as a sort of beloved father in our historical progression. Then I read actual instructions on the veneration of Elders as of Christ himself. This is no different then the very worst of false teachers in 2019.

    What is significant about Clement’s first letter is how he describes the church offices as an established fact rather than as something he was trying to invent from scratch. Whether or not those offices were appropriate, church history shows they developed early and were ubiquitous. I was not hoping or expecting to find this. I was really hoping I would find that this was a much later development.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  212. Bridget: I’m, however, convinced that the original disciples didn’t completely understand what Jesus intended, nor were they able to carry out His intentions without sin in the mixture.

    Are we any better? If they couldn’t get it right after three years of intensive time with Jesus, what chance do we have? My current frustration, as someone who wants to get it right, is not knowing how to get it right in light of all the historical evidence.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  213. elastigirl,

    I guess I mean that a person, on his or her own, can’t do it without God working it out in that person.

    A person who thinks they are qualified, is someone who may need to take some time to discern whether that’s true. Those who are truly qualified (I think) know they are so in need of God’s favor to consistently live that out and are only barely “qualified” by what God has already done in them to that point.

    Hopefully that makes sense!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  214. Ken F (aka Tweed): Are we any better? If they couldn’t get it right after three years of intensive time with Jesus, what chance do we have? My current frustration, as someone who wants to get it right, is not knowing how to get it right in light of all the historical evidence.

    *whispers* It’s possible it wasn’t three years. It’s also possible it wasn’t a continuous period of teaching, that there were times when they all had to go to work because they had families to support. The only reason there is a belief Jesus’ ministry was three years is because John’s gospel notes three Passovers. None of the Synoptic gospels have that same setup.

    There’s so much we don’t know…. I will admit I now find it kind of shocking that a guy who never knew Jesus in life could muscle his way in and call himself an apostle among the other apostles. Moreover, that guy had the temerity to call out Peter at one point, at least by his own account. I’m of course speaking about Paul. So, so much we don’t know.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  215. Ken F (aka Tweed):

    What is significant about Clement’s first letter is how he describes the church offices as an established fact rather than as something he was trying to invent from scratch. Whether or not those offices were appropriate, church history shows they developed early and were ubiquitous. I was not hoping or expecting to find this. I was really hoping I would find that this was a much later development.

    It really doesn’t take long for traditions to get set in stone, as it were. Looking at the history of newer religious organizations created in the era of print is instructive and revelatory. Clement may be writing as if those offices are an established fact, but for all we know, they could have been set up a few years previously as an organizational attempt and they were used to it. I do know from reading the Acts of Perpetua and Felicity (said to have been written in 203) that church leaders argued with each other. Perpetua herself (the presumed writer of most of the Acts) also spends a lot of time talking about prophetic dreams and suchlike. That someone who was on the point of dying took time to write these dreams down is remarkable in and of itself.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  216. Ken F (aka Tweed): Are we any better? If they couldn’t get it right after three years of intensive time with Jesus, what chance do we have? My current frustration, as someone who wants to get it right, is not knowing how to get it right in light of all the historical evidence.

    We’re certainly no better in terms of our basic humanity, but we may have the benefit of a lot of hindsight. One would think that “3 years with Jesus ought to be transformative”, but the Gospels seem pretty clear that the Twelve were following Jesus at least in part in hope of high office in a future visible kingly reign over Israel. Their motives seem to have got in the way of what character development might otherwise have taken place (which certainly is reminiscent of present conditions in at least some of the churches). In spite of repeated correction they did not let go of this hope while Jesus remained. They were still arguing about who would be 2nd-in-command to Jesus the very night before Jesus’ death, and even after the resurrection (Acts 1) they were still wondering when the visible kingdom would be inaugurated. It would appear that Jesus’ last words to them were sort of a rebuke.

    I rather doubt that they were able to “get it right” in the end. Of course, we don’t know; there are AFAIK no extant early post-biblical church documents from the Jewish churches.

    In addition to the institutional realities in the Gentile churches that we can read about in the early post-biblical literature, we have Paul’s guidelines and, IMO above all his vision of “one-another” relationship within the churches. “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, even as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us…”

    If leaders and led live like this, the details of polity scarcely matter.

    Run away from any self-conceived leader who does not strive to live this way.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  217. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: So, so much we don’t know.

    That’s really the point. When I did my own looking into it I found dead ends, contradictions, and all kinds of other things that did not fit the protestant narative I was taught.

    I still believe that Jesus lived and the NT is reliable. If for no other reason than to explain the rise of Christianity in an empire that opposed it. People were dying for this faith from the very beginning, which suggests that it was not merely wishful thinking about some made up traditions.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  218. Samuel Conner: “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, even as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us…”

    That clearly does not describe James MacDonald and HBC elders who are coming forth one at a time to confess their roles in the great deception in Chicago.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  219. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: I will admit I now find it kind of shocking that a guy who never knew Jesus in life could muscle his way in and call himself an apostle among the other apostles.

    What do you make of Luke? If Paul was a rogue usurper, Luke was the co-conspirator who legitimized the takeover. As the author of one of the synoptic gospels, the compiler of early “acts” of the original Apostles, and the traveling companion of Paul, wouldn’t he be the one mostly responsible for letting Paul get away with it? If Paul was out of line, then certainly Luke was to blame for not exposing the sham. The fact that the gospel according to Luke was accepted early seems to give credibility to Paul.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  220. Amy Moore: There are about 4 dozen Harvest execs & elders moving on to other ministries and the corruption runs so deep there’s no chance they won’t be infecting every ministry they touch going forward.

    The Church of the Living God needs to be on the alert for any ex-HBC executives/elders who served under MacDonald for more than 3 months. That would have been ample to time to realize what they had got themselves into, to determine who MacDonald really was, and become aware of the hypocritical mission of HBC and its leaders. Yep, 90-days would have been about the right time to bail out before their resume became tainted. While some noble souls may have stayed longer thinking they could make a difference and persuade JMac to be a better man, the wise ones would have realized this to be an impossible task and took the first opportunity to get while the gettin’ was good. I doubt that those 4-dozen ex-HBC leaders will list HBC experience on their curriculum vitae or MacDonald as a reference so they might be hard to detect; thus, beware!

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  221. TS00: there are several who have commented that attended church with JMac in his youth, and they have nothing positive to say about him or his character from way back. It appears he has been a poser, a bully and a thug for a very long time

    Q: Why do narcissists go to seminary?
    A: To learn how to do church in order to manipulate, intimidate and dominate trusting souls.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  222. Samuel Conner: “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, even as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us…”

    Max: That clearly does not describe James MacDonald and HBC elders who are coming forth one at a time to confess their roles in the great deception in Chicago.

    Unless, trying very hard to “see it from the ‘inside'” their vision of God, whom they reckon they were imitating, is more arbitrary, capricious, violent and domineering than mine. And what is “love”? (baby don’t hurt me no more) Maybe JM’s associates and enablers thought the most loving thing was to go along with JM for the sake of the everlasting benefits in heaven that would be experienced in the future by the people who were being abused, manipulated, fleeced here “under the sun”, but who nevertheless were hearing the gospel (as they understood gospel), even though it looks to us like it was being preached from false motives. Didn’t Paul rejoice from prison that the gospel was preached, whether from false motives or true?

    This is not to defend JM or associates, but to note that the vision of eternal punishments that motivates (or justifies, or both) a lot of ministry in churches in the Western theological tradition (I keep coming back to that; sorry, but I have come to believe it’s important) puts a very heavy weight on one side of the “cost/benefit” calculus in ministry. I think it’s one of the reasons that the mega movement has been so attractive to laity as well as leaders; they imagine that a bigger, more resource-rich group will be able to rescue more people from the terrible fate they would otherwise experience. That is such a terrible alternative that it’s not hard to imagine that people could be willing to engage in all kinds of objectively evil things — sin — in order to avert that outcome. And that’s before one adds in the problem of self-deception.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  223. Samuel Conner: people who were being abused, manipulated, fleeced here “under the sun”, but who nevertheless were hearing the gospel (as they understood gospel), even though it looks to us like it was being preached from false motives. Didn’t Paul rejoice from prison that the gospel was preached, whether from false motives or true?

    I have to admit that Philippians 1 often comes to mind as I look at these mega-messes the American church is in. Apparently, many “pastors” have opted to preach the “gospel” for the wrong reasons .. to toss out the name of Jesus now and then while they work their deception to benefit themselves. I certainly have my doubts that Paul would be rejoicing over the likes of MacDonald, Hybels, Driscoll, and countless others who have taken advantage of the Body of Christ over the last 2,000 years.

    But, assuming Paul would be cheering them on nevertheless, that opens up a door for whoever to bring in whatever in attempts to do church (and that’s exactly what we have in America). So instead of trying to defend these rascals, I prefer to inform and warn the church about the wolves in their midst rather than giving them a break. But, I ain’t Paul, so I suppose I will just have to wait and see how this sorts itself out in eternity.

    In the meantime, I don’t rejoice over unworthy vessels carrying the precious Gospel of Christ. There are true men of God who are laboring in the field who never get accolades and honor bestowed on them this side of heaven. They are needles in the haystack, rare and endangered species, last of the Mohicans – so I will cheer them on rather than applauding those who masquerade as angels of light.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  224. jyjames: How to do church that has nothing to do with Jesus, then.

    Oh, they couldn’t get away with that completely. The mega-masters vocalize “Jesus” occasionally and even talk about Him from a gospel vantage point. I mean, how could you be labeled “Christian” without giving Jesus a little bit of credit?! But the manner in which these charlatans lead indicates they don’t really know Him … they just use Him.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  225. Max,

    Agreed; I can’t imagine that Paul would be pleased with what is happening.

    Having read the explanations of some of the associates and enablers who have pulled away from HBC, this does seem to have been part of why they put up with the wrongness coming from the top. It wasn’t all self-interest; they actually thought that good was being accomplished in spite of the bad conduct behind the scenes. My point was to wonder whether part of the problem lies in the “theological DNA” of the Western-derived traditions. With so much at stake, it can be very tempting to cut corners for the sake of what is viewed as a larger good.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  226. Samuel Conner: wonder whether part of the problem lies in the “theological DNA” of the Western-derived traditions. With so much at stake, it can be very tempting to cut corners for the sake of what is viewed as a larger good

    “Cut corners” in the case of MacDonald, Hybels, Driscoll, and assorted others meant they decided it was OK to be a little wicked if a little good could come from it. I’m convinced that an antinomian spirit has taken control of some ministries, where church leaders feel they have been released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. I suppose those are the sort of preachers Jesus had in mind when He said:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day when I judge them, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you are banished from My presence, you who act wickedly disregarding My commands.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  227. Max,

    “I certainly have my doubts that Paul would be rejoicing over the likes of MacDonald, Hybels, Driscoll, and countless others who have taken advantage of the Body of Christ over the last 2,000 years.

    But, assuming Paul would be cheering them on nevertheless, that opens up a door for whoever to bring in whatever in attempts to do church (and that’s exactly what we have in America). So instead of trying to defend these rascals, I prefer to inform and warn the church about the wolves in their midst rather than giving them a break. But, I ain’t Paul, so I suppose I will just have to wait and see how this sorts itself out in eternity.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    Hi, Max.

    Honest question: why does it matter what Paul thinks?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  228. John,

    “I guess I mean that a person, on his or her own, can’t do it without God working it out in that person.

    A person who thinks they are qualified, is someone who may need to take some time to discern whether that’s true. Those who are truly qualified (I think) know they are so in need of God’s favor to consistently live that out and are only barely “qualified” by what God has already done in them to that point.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    hi, john. thanks for the interaction.

    i have an observation: i know many people who don’t subscribe to christianity, yet are the most excellent human beings. they are kind. honest, at personal cost. generous. humble. these are their personal standards.

    they’ve gone through none of the typical christian ‘procedures’.

    you mentioned earlier, “You don’t have to watch a person for very long to discern whether that person is a grace filled believer or not”

    what are these things you see in such people that you identify as being grace-filled?

    john, i truly suspect that the only difference between my friends & family i described above and the grace-filled believer you describe is window dressing: vocabulary used when speaking, a smiley face, a tone of voice, body language.

    ——–
    (i’ve mentioned my thoughts on this many times here & there at TWW, so apologies to one and all for yet another one. well, there will be more — when parts of a belief system don’t stand up to reality, it’s totally bewildering…

    [there’s a word for what i’m feeling….it escapes me…. it has a ‘b’ in it. maybe a ‘z’… darn, it’s just the right word. a word for when you throw up a basket of fruit and everything settles in a different place, and you’re confused because you understood each thing in relation to all the other things. but now that they’re all in different places, what does each mean now?]

    anyway, it’s helpful to verbalize & hopefully dialogue)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  229. Max,

    elastigirl: why does it matter what Paul thinks?

    Max: “Whew! That’s too deep to answer. I’ll have to ruminate on that a while.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    Great! i look forward to chatting about it.

    i mean, why does it matter, any more than what elastigirl thinks, or what Max thinks, or what any of the other cast characters thinks?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  230. Max:

    Samuel Conner: wonder whether part of the problem lies in the “theological DNA” of the Western-derived traditions. With so much at stake, it can be very tempting to cut corners for the sake of what is viewed as a larger good

    “Cut corners” in the case of MacDonald, Hybels, Driscoll, and assorted others meant they decided it was OK to be a little wicked if a little good could come from it. I’m convinced that an antinomian spirit has taken control of some ministries, where church leaders feel they have been released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law. I suppose those are the sort of preachers Jesus had in mind when He said:

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day when I judge them, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you are banished from My presence, you who act wickedly disregarding My commands.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

    You guys are tempting me to mount my soap box! 😉

    Seriously, I believe 100% that the theological DNA is the problem, and that Truth was genetically modified centuries ago.

    While I might be willing to grant that many elders/leaders probably start out with relatively good intentions, I suspect that the genuinely evil wolves (yes, I count MacDonald and Hybels as wolves, not ‘fallen’ shepherds) are pretty good at picking out those who are most vulnerable to deception and temptation. They deliberately employ a faulty theology to ensnare and use others for their own ends.

    I can only guess, but I imagine that JMac and Hybels laid very clever traps, grooming and gradually leading people ever further into compromise and, eventually, outright sin. Those who did not succumb were pushed out. Others became trapped by guilt and barely concealed extortion. ‘Remember when we videotaped us all playing ‘The Name Game’? Your comments about pastor so and so were so, er, clever! But some dopes might not think they were so funny, eh?’

    A narcissist is very good at manipulating people, and very patient. He will spend years building a good rapport before gradually working toward his true agenda. If a cynic like me can be taken in, naive, trusting folks are easy prey. I guess that’s why I share my story, in hopes that others can be forewarned.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  231. TS00: tempting me to mount my soap box

    You’re standing on the right box, IMO. Great comment!

    TS00: Truth was genetically modified centuries ago

    We’ve drifted so far from the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth, I’m not sure the institutional church can find its way back. At this point, I’m not so sure that the church, as it is now manifested, is the keeper of pure Truth at all. We have versions of truth and half-truth at best in most places, allowing a “theological DNA” to supersede the real thing.

    “This is why I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth, who is a friend of the Truth and belongs to the Truth, hears and listens carefully to My voice.” (Jesus, John 18:37)

    “What is truth?” (Pilate, John 18:38)

    Two thousand years after that exchange, the institutional church is still struggling to define “truth.” Denominations have been birthed with a different twist on what they perceive truth to be. You can’t express truth sufficiently in religious teachings and traditions; it can only be found in a relationship with Christ. Which direction you take – religion or relationship – determines whether you discover Truth or not. None of us called Christian should reach the last chapter of life and still be asking “What is truth?” … don’t let the mere teachings of men distract you from finding it … read the red and pray for revelation! Truth (the Word) + The Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) = Revealed Truth.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  232. elastigirl: why does it matter … what Max thinks

    I took your text out of context a bit, so forgive me. I know you really think more highly of me than you ought. 🙂

    Well, I’m just a speck in the universe. I’m certainly not an Apostle chosen by the hand of Jesus as Paul was … nor a prophet, or a son of a prophet. So it doesn’t really matter what I ‘think’, I suppose … but what I ‘know’ has made a huge difference in my life. What I see, I can’t un-see; what I know I can’t un-know … it’s in my knower! And I know that we are falling far short of appropriating the spiritual resources available to us as Christians to make a difference in this world … not with what we think, but what we know.

    I figure whenever Paul was speaking to us through Scripture, he was drawing from his personal knowledge of the Kingdom of God rather than what he thought about it. Although, in a few places in Scripture he paused to advise us that he was speaking about a matter – offering his opinion – rather than what God was saying. Thus, I try to insert “IMO” where applicable.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  233. Max: “This is why I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the Truth. Everyone who is of the Truth, who is a friend of the Truth and belongs to the Truth, hears and listens carefully to My voice.” (Jesus, John 18:37)

    I find it very comforting to know that Jesus entered into a world that was very similar to what we now face: Religion had become a caricature of what God desired, and Jesus gently called people to follow him, rather than fear men.

    It used to be so unthinkable to imagine life without religion as I have always known it. More and more, I am willing to settle for walking with God, and being thankful for a community of people I may never meet in this life, but who support and encourage one another in the manner God called his people to do.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  234. TS00: That community is you all, for whom I am so grateful!

    “Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how all men will know that you are my disciples, because you have such love for one another.”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  235. TS00: I find it very comforting to know that Jesus entered into a world that was very similar to what we now face: Religion had become a caricature of what God desired, and Jesus gently called people to follow him, rather than fear men.

    The thought has come to me again and again (others have expressed similar views) that “the Church” seems to recapitulate (history “rhyming” if not repeating exactly) “Old Israel”.

    The present situation has for me the “feel” of exile and diaspora in the intertestamental period. Or maybe it’s the era of the Judges, when “every man did what was right in his own sight.”

    As Max has said, it’s hard to see how the institutions recover from this.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  236. elastigirl: Honest question: why does it matter what Paul thinks?

    Because (my opinion) in many brands of evangelical protestantism, Paul is the absolute gold standard for all things ‘Christian’.

    Every jot and every tittle is just as if the Almighty is still thundering out of Horeb through Paul.

    And this is a relatively new development in protestantism, it’s just 45-50 years old.

    Don’t get me wrong, Paul’s writings have many great and wonderful things to say, but when the descriptive gets blurred with the universally prescriptive, what results is just another destructive ideology.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  237. The Bible(s) of the Christian church is a very big and complex book, much of it written by men who never met Jesus, nor met anyone who heard Jesus teach. Yet in the massive amount of words captured in the Bible there are a few versus that purport to be the actual words of Jesus, the teacher.

    I’m going to quote a little bit here:

    KJV: Matthew 6:5-6

    5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    And the same verses in a different Bible, the ESV:

    5 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

    6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Here’s hoping quotes work the same here as many other onlline sites.

    Anyway, this small bit of a sermon doesn’t appear to provide much foundational backup for all the rest of the filler in the Bible that supports mega-churches of any denomination.

    The one time we visited Spain and France and visited (maybe 4 or 5) churches from about 1200 CE up to Notre Dame in Paris, there were (especially in Spain) tons of silver and gold used on private family altars scattered all around the floor of the more recent cathedrals, to the point that there wasn’t really room for many actual worshippers. Plus there are several tombs of El Cid, the lost hero who “saved Spain from the Muslim rulers” in different cathedrals. We only saw the one tomb…

    And all of the gold and silver in those Spanish cathedrals was stolen from colonies in Central and South America, where it was mined by enslaved natives, mostly. Not exactly the mild and loving spirit of Jesus. Dallas, maybe you should read the red letter Bible the T. Jefferson compiled from the King James Version?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  238. Max,

    Thank you, Max. Now,….

    “Well, I’m just a speck in the universe.”
    ++++++++++++++

    so what? you have understanding and knowledge and a unique perspective that is valuable.
    —————-

    “I’m certainly not an Apostle chosen by the hand of Jesus as Paul was … nor a prophet, or a son of a prophet.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    so flippin’-what?

    apostle-schmapostle. a human-designated term. humans decide who gets to be an apostle, the process of which is surely not unbiased.

    chosen by the hand of Jesus? others have encountered the bright, blinding light (minus the horse, not on the road to Damascus) and heard a voice self-identified as Jesus (including a few people i know). they also have worthy things to say which others benefit from.
    ——————-

    “I figure whenever Paul was speaking to us through Scripture, he was drawing from his personal knowledge of the Kingdom of God rather than what he thought about it.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    i agree, Paul has worthy things to say that are beneficial. but again, oodles of people also have personal knowledge of the kingdom of God, through knowing God.

    “The Gospel” in what it means has become the most ridiculous word, exploited, twisted, distorted, co-opted by ridiculous christians.

    (not by you, of course)

    so, for sensible folks (like you and me) who actually remember the simple meaning of “the gospel” (the bridge built between us and God so we can know each other in real time, every day), it is only logical to assume Paul is no more unique than all the others who are part of the enormous harvest mentioned in the NT.

    Jesus Christ, on the other hand….

    i mean, do we actually believe what we say we believe?

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  239. elastigirl,

    information from others can be beneficial. in the end, it’s what i think, what you think.

    each of us has a unique view into the multi-faceted diamond of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit. to take stock in one’s view, and have confidence in it, is personal responsibility. understanding that each of us is constantly growing and shifting.

    i take no more stock in what paul thinks than i do in what i think.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  240. elastigirl: i take no more stock in what paul thinks than i do in what i think.

    Them’s shootin’ words in these parts (Christianville), ma’am. 😉

    Why, dontcha know God inspired Paul to speak his thoughts, and me – your trusted pastor – to interpret them rightly? Just let go of the reins, lil woman, and submit to your God-given, masculine authorities . . . and bring me another beer.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  241. TS00: perhaps we should remember that Jesus did not come to set up authoritative institutions, but to gather his individual lost sheep

    And to link them together as a “Body” of Christ, each one uniquely gifted to be a part of the whole … something the institutional church just doesn’t appear to get. Whose job is the ministry? Every believer has a part! When we separate believers into clergy vs. laity, pulpit vs. pew, us vs. them … failing to equip and mobilize the saints to do the work of the ministry … we miss what God intended for His Church and fall short of living in the Kingdom of Heaven here and now. Jesus talked a LOT about living in the Kingdom … we would do well to read His words … living in the church doesn’t always mean living in the Kingdom. Based on my 70-year snapshot of the institutional church, there’s a vast difference in what Christ describes vs. what we have put together in this thing we call “church”.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  242. Max: And to link them together as a “Body” of Christ, each one uniquely gifted to be a part of the whole … something the institutional church just doesn’t appear to get.Whose job is the ministry?Every believer has a part!When we separate believers into clergy vs. laity, pulpit vs. pew, us vs. them … failing to equip and mobilize the saints to do the work of the ministry … we miss what God intended for His Church and fall short of living in the Kingdom of Heaven here and now.Jesus talked a LOT about living in the Kingdom … we would do well to read His words … living in the church doesn’t always mean living in the Kingdom.Based on my 70-year snapshot of the institutional church, there’s a vast difference in what Christ describes vs. what we have put together in this thing we call “church”.

    If we just got back to that model, the one the early church leaders generally followed, where leaders humbly look around for those whom they can help, trying to be the last, not the first, putting their reputations, careers, and lives on the line if necessary, maybe the Church would stop functioning like some lurching Frankenstein’s Monster.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  243. Law Prof,

    “where leaders humbly look around for those whom they can help, trying to be the last, not the first, putting their reputations, careers, and lives on the line if necessary”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    hard for me to imagine a job description for this that commands a big salary, let alone a modest salary.

    (which for me is the whole idea. but also why it doesn’t seem to happen in the institution.)

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  244. Law Prof: If we just got back to that model, the one the early church leaders generally followed …

    That’s a rare bird, indeed, in the American church. You will come closer to finding the genuine in third-world countries where the persecuted church resides. Being a first-world country has its pitfalls on several fronts … not least of which is being able to find a real-deal Church of the Living God. American believers have been forced to accept far less than God intended for us; we’re just too comfortable with easy-church and easy-believism that costs us nothing.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  245. Man if you are looking for a physical church to be perfected and wholly sanctified, by mere men, you will be disalusioned. No church will fit that ideal in this fallen world. But to think you are wholly appointed by God to take pot shots from the distance, not being part of the churches who you blast then Satin has really pulled the wool over your eyes. To do that you “must have first hand knowledge” and part of that fellowship in some fashion in order to be qualified to hold people accountable before God. But first you must go before your brother in
    Prayer and then in person, second after trying that, you are to take a witness in Christ / go with a brother in Christ to confront, then and only then you must take the church elders and confront your brother that he may turn and forsake his sins. If after that then the church must seek to cut off the relationship so that the sinner may be held account and that you may reach him towards restoring him. Only if this does not work are you to turn him away as a unbeliever. Notice how you need to be part of this first hand, and not from a distance like on the world wide web for even unbelievers to see. Using second hand information is not of God. It is pure hearsay or flat gossip to engage in tearing down other church bodies in an effort to be judge and jury in the place of God. This says you are not comfortable with God being in control, or believe he has the power to work in these earthly maters. Which really Goes against believing in an all powerful creator God almighty. Your actions are tell tale in what you believe regard God and Jesus his son. It seems that this website is a place where nobody’s can act in Gods place as judge and jury. Pathetic at best.
    For me I choose to pray and let God work, he never ceases to amaze especially when he answers prayer.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  246. Vincent: you “must have first hand knowledge” and part of that fellowship in some fashion

    Vincent, TWW has relayed “first hand knowledge” about JMac from his elders and personal assistant to the church at large, lest he try to maneuver his way into another corner of Christendom. Most commenters here are members of the Body of Christ – there is really only one Church – whether they attend HBC or not, they are part of the fellowship there in spirit. As Paul cautioned the church at large to “beware of Alexander, he has done us much harm”, so the watchblogs speak to inform and warn other believers to be wary of certain leaders.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  247. Vincent: It seems that this website is a place where nobody’s can act in Gods place as judge and jury. Pathetic at best.
    For me I choose to pray and let God work, he never ceases to amaze especially when he answers prayer.

    But your comment proves you are doing exactly what you oppose. If you truly believed your comment you would not have posted it.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  248. Max,

    Vincent,

    In the face of authoritarian church leaders who excommunicate, run off or demonize anyone who dares to challenge their false authority and/or iniquity, blogs have filled the void of public accountability. Those who are denied the biblical right of hearing have found that there is, at last, a place where they can be heard.

    And this being heard is not merely some desire for gossip or vengeance, but a desire to confront evil and protect the rest of the naive flock from being manipulated, abused and otherwise taken advantage of.

    Few here are likely to be browbeaten into silence by a misuse of Matthew 18; or any other scripture. We have seen through the falsity of that which proclaims itself ‘the infallible voice of God’. The days of intermediaries are over, and we all have access to the very Spirit of God to lead us personally as he desires us to go.

    No more Moses behind a veil. No more circumcision. No more sin sacrifices. No more indulgences. No more baptism. No more tithe. No more law-keeping. Not to say that we may not voluntarily partake of symbols and freely made offerings to God; but never again can any men or institutions demand that we submit to their demands or interpretations of ‘How to be saved’.

    It is finished. The price has been paid, sin and death vanquished, and all may come to the Son for meat and drink with no money and no payment. Redemption is a gift, freely offered to one and all.

    You’re barking your wares to a wised-up crowd, and unlikely to terrify many here. 😉

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  249. Vincent: Man if you are looking for a physical church to be perfected and wholly sanctified, by mere men, you will be disalusioned.

    Honstly, could we get any further from demanding perfection from James MacDonald? What we have is countless people cutting him some slack . . . again and again and again. To no avail, because his problem is not that he struggles with imperfection but that he is a fake, a phony, a self-seeking narcissist who manipulates and abuses others for self profit and aggrandizement.

    I don’t see how you could get any further from the mark in your comment.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  250. TS00: I don’t see how you could get any further from the mark in your comment.

    Vincent is a coward: came to an old thread less likely to be read and didn’t stick around to answer for his comment.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  251. TS00: sometimes I feel pretty alone in this wilderness

    “I’ve seen the lightning flashing,
    I’ve heard the thunder roll.
    I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing,
    Which almost conquered my soul.
    I’ve heard the voice of my Savior,
    Bidding me still to fight on.
    He promised never to leave me,
    Never to leave me alone!

    The world’s fierce winds are blowing,
    Temptation sharp and keen.
    I have a peace in knowing
    My Savior stands between—
    He stands to shield me from danger
    When my friends are all gone.
    He promised never to leave me,
    Never to leave me alone!”

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

  252. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    I am truly grateful for and encouraged by your kind words. I too often look around at this world, and feel discouraged and useless to make any difference. If even one little thing God has brought me through can help someone else, I am exceeding glad. And I know I post too much. I will try and reign it in.

      (Quote selected text)  (Reply)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *