The Final, Deeply Disturbing Statement by Jacob Ross Who Was James MacDonald’s Personal Assistant

New life in my backyard- bluebird eggs (Yes- you can hold the nest! The mom knows me.) We have launched over 50 bluebirds through the years from our bluebird house.

“It is not your business to succeed, but to do right; when you have done so, the rest lies with God.” –

C. S.Lewis

__________

Today, the Chicago Tribune published A church in turmoil: Inside Harvest Bible Chapel’s questionable financial moves and erratic leadership.

A two-month donation tally on Harvest Bible Chapel’s website hints at the turmoil the popular evangelical Christian church has been experiencing since the beginning of the year.

Needed, year to date: $3.8 million.  Received: $2.6 million

Tithes and offerings, the church said in a March 10 update, are down 40 percent since its charismatic but controversial pastor, James MacDonald, was fired in February.

….Since MacDonald was ousted, several other elders and church leaders, including MacDonald’s two sons, left the church. A national accreditation group suspended the church for violating financial stewardship standards. Then, last week, another shoe dropped: Rick Donald, an influential member of the executive ministry, resigned, and a respected elder quit after publishing a letter criticizing the board for carrying on business as usual.

A review of public records, internal church documents and interviews shows the discord at one of the biggest churches in the Chicago area has been boiling for years, the culmination of an aggressive expansion strategy and MacDonald’s ambitions in spreading the gospel. That growth led to a series of questionable financial maneuvers and a tangled web of property transactions, building purchases, mortgages and lawsuits.

In my opinion, The Chicago Tribune missed the deeper story. Sure, the church is experiencing significant debt. Yes, giving is down. It should be. Why would anyone would give even a dime to the church after hearing the embarrassing antics of those who ran this church? I wouldn’t give until I had proof positive that the church has cleaned up its act.

The apparent downright evil and sinister behavior on the part of James MacDonald, combined with the substandard and grossly negligent oversight on the part of the elders, along with the spineless, lily-livered pastors and ministry leaders who circled wagons around this man, have led the church to this hour.

The implosion of Harvest Bible Chapel and Willow Creek Community Church have led to a watershed moment for evangelicals in the Chicago area. Will Christians take a good hard look at how they define a church and how they *do* church or will they jump right back on the bandwagon, looking for the next leather jacketed, high rolling and high-profile pastor?

To be frank, I’m not sure what path will be chosen by the remaining members of these churches. Will they choose to live out the simple faith of Jesus or will they choose another Elvis-like showman? Believe it or not, the Christian faith will do just fine if HBC and WCCC fade into infamy. Jesus doesn’t need them. They (and we) need Jesus. We need to get our role in this whole faith thing straight. See the quote at the top of this post. Somehow, the faith will survive without a herd of white-tailed, trophy deer and stress free safaris for pastors.

The statement by Jacob Ross was sent to me by some folks who are trying to get past the false facade that was Harvest Bible Chapel and James MacDonald. Anyone who truly understands the Gospel should understand that man is sinful and that there is little value in trying to hid our darkness. The world is not stunned by our sin. They see it all quite clearly, even when we think we keep it cleverly hidden. The world is stunned by men and women who claim to *do it right* and then don’t. They see the lie.

Here is a difficult truth. We must not hide our dirty laundry. It must be brought into the sunlight so that the world can see what we mean when we say we need the Gospel. We must admit our propensity to sin in the presence of a watching world. Then we must repent and make reparations. Maybe then, seeing our humility, others might find this Jesus to be worth their time.

Jacob Ross Statement

Jacob was James MacDonald’s personal assistant. It appears that MacDonald couldn’t get *de-stressed* without spending huge amounts of church money on things like safaris, resorts, luxury cars, etc. MacDonald didn’t really like to spend time with most of his staff and, if I had to guess, with most of the members of the church. He was far too busy with things like buying houses, acquiring trophy deer and killing beautiful bears.

It appears that he has a volatile temper which he coupled with insulting words thrown at anyone who didn’t do everything in his or her power to make MacDonald’s day filled with luxuries and ease.

Perhaps the most damning allegation of all was the fact that MacDonald believes that he is really, really special and that everyone needs to be fully aware of this fact, including pastors in Nepal who apparently didn’t appreciate the fact that they were in the presence of true greatness.

Isn’t there anyone in MacDonald’s life who can speak the truth to him? Or is everyone, even his own family, enjoying the lifestyle too much? Doesn’t he have any real friends or are they all just hangers on? In case you think he might be having a tough time right now, repenting on his sabbatical…take a look at an alleged good time being had by all in Cabo San Lucas.

Whenver I throw someone off my blog for being mean, I post this song “Time to Say Goodbye.” It seems a fitting end to this series of statements.

 


Comments

The Final, Deeply Disturbing Statement by Jacob Ross Who Was James MacDonald’s Personal Assistant — 310 Comments

  1. Oh Lord, that poor man (Mr Ross). This is exactly the response I would expect from a decent human being working in a horribly toxic workplace – and GOOD FOR HIM to walk away and NOT be manipulated into going back into the abuse.

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  2. This letter is yet another confirmation JMac should have been sacked years ago. Every new revelation reveals the depths of his depravity. It took many years and hundreds of enablers to create such a monster.

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  3. Thanks, Dee.

    Ultimately this whole scandal is a current rendition of violating the First Commandment.

    Prayers for the many people hurting, disallusioned, lonely. May they be cared for each day away from the cameras.

    Thanks, Dee.

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  4. Another thing, sure seems like JMac delighted in making grown men cry. He berated and abused everyone around him, except wealthy donors or other Christian celebs like Paul Baloche, which tells me this was more than an anger management issue.

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  5. Such abuse! After reading all these statements it’s quite evident that James MacDonald is a monster. He should NEVER pastor again(.)

    It is amazing that Jacob Ross only worked for James at Harvest for nine months. In nine short months everything in Jacob’s statement above took place. Jacob was the only sane person to get out in a very short time.

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  6. It takes a special kind of stupid to treat someone that abusively when you KNOW they are packing heat. I’m in most places thought of as a pacifist, but I have a weird feeling that I would have used that gun to bring that sorry excuse of a man to his knees to beg for mercy while he confessed his abuses for, oh let’s say at least 36 straight hours. Obviously, we know full well that would not be enough time, but it might perhaps have been a good place to start.

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  7. Bridget:
    Such abuse! After reading all these statements it’s quite evident that James MacDonald is a monster. He should NEVER pastor again(.)

    It is amazing that Jacob Ross only worked for James at Harvest for nine months. In nine short months everything inJacob’s statement above took place. Jacob was the only sane person to get out in a very short time.

    I just finished reading Ross’s statement. For the nth time since this story broke, just when I thought my opinion of this creep could get no lower, it has just plummeted another notch. IMO, at the very least James MacDonald belongs in prison for assault. This on top of massive financial fraud.

    I just have to wonder… where does Kathy stand in all of this. Did she egg him on, enjoying the perqs? Or did she see the evil, but was too intimidated, physically and psychologically, to do anything about it. I would be interested in getting a statement from her, though I don’t expect one is forthcoming.

    How dare this man call himself a pastor and a Christian? Has he no fear of almighty God? And yet, one sees zero repentance from the man. I believe he is a psychopath.

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  8. Bridget: It is amazing that Jacob Ross only worked for James at Harvest for nine months. In nine short months everything in Jacob’s statement above took place. Jacob was the only sane person to get out in a very short time.

    I would perhaps exchange the word ‘sane’ with ‘upright’. You might cut someone a little slack for putting up with this for a short time; but I have a very hard time believing that anyone can be excused for dealing with this for years on end, and then leaving with praise for James. Something to do with being honest, just, decent and not self-seeking. This institution was not ever an instrument of God, as far as I can see.

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  9. The Chicago Tribune article states:

    “A review of public records, internal church documents and interviews shows the discord at one of the biggest churches in the Chicago area has been boiling for years, the culmination of an aggressive expansion strategy and MacDonald’s ambitions in spreading the gospel. That growth led to a series of questionable financial maneuvers and a tangled web of property transactions, building purchases, mortgages and lawsuits.”

    Note the editorializing, ‘MacDonald’s ambitions in spreading the gospel’. Quite an assumption on their part. When a secular newspaper grants such benefit of the doubt to an obviously corrupt church leader, you have to wonder how far this influence really goes.

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  10. an “anti-Scripture” comes to mind after reading Mr Ross’ statement:

    “Do not have in you the mind of the kind of man who considers equality with God a thing to be grasped and who makes himself everything, treating others as servants who must humble themselves and become obedient to him”

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  11. All anyone had to do was love the truth more than they loved their positions at Harvest and push back. You push back hard on this type of person and refuse to back down, they fold like that. Why didn’t anyone just push back?

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  12. Law Prof:
    All anyone had to do was love the truth more than they loved their positions at Harvest and push back. You push back hard on this type of person and refuse to back down, they fold like that.Why didn’t anyone just push back?

    I have been saying this for years. In this case, I think the answer is money, lots and lots of money. JM knew how to spread it around. Money is an incredibly powerful force in our culture.

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  13. Law Prof:
    All anyone had to do was love the truth more than they loved their positions at Harvest and push back. You push back hard on this type of person and refuse to back down, they fold like that.Why didn’t anyone just push back?

    Granting for the sake of argument that the person in question appears to exhibits signs of significant deficiencies of both conscience and empathy (this combination of deficiencies is, I believe, characteristic of what is called “sociopathy”), pushing back hard could potentially have induced the person to respect boundaries out of fear of the consequences of not respecting them.

    Put perhaps it is better that it worked out the way it did in that the character of the person became more clearly and undeniably manifested.

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  14. TS00: ‘MacDonald’s ambitions in spreading the gospel’

    TS00: When a secular newspaper grants such benefit of the doubt

    I don’t know — the wording is a bit ambiguous and strikes me as possibly an artful way of suggesting that “spreading the gospel” was the means of pursuing other ambitions, and not the ambition itself.

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  15. Sherwood MacDonald appears to be a classic narcissist of the highest order.
    Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20366662
    ———————–

    Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

    * Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
    * Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
    * Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
    * Exaggerate achievements and talents
    * Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
    * Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
    * Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
    * Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
    * Take advantage of others to get what they want
    * Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
    * Be envious of others and believe others envy them
    * Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
    * Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

    At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

    * Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
    * Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
    * React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
    * Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
    * Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
    * Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
    * Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

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  16. roebuck: I have been saying this for years. In this case, I think the answer is money, lots and lots of money. JM knew how to spread it around. Money is an incredibly powerful force in our culture.

    Wouldn’t have helped. Sherwood is likely a classic narcissist. As such:

    “Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
    Narcissists feel threatened whenever they encounter someone who appears to have something they lack—especially those who are confident and popular. They’re also threatened by people who don’t kowtow to them or who challenge them in any way. Their defense mechanism is contempt. The only way to neutralize the threat and prop up their own sagging ego is to put those people down. They may do it in a patronizing or dismissive way as if to demonstrate how little the other person means to them. Or they may go on the attack with insults, name-calling, bullying, and threats to force the other person back into line.”

    Source: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder.htm/

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  17. roebuck: I have been saying this for years. In this case, I think the answer is money, lots and lots of money. JM knew how to spread it around. Money is an incredibly powerful force in our culture.

    That’s probably it, they were held captive because of love of money and position. Maybe they even tried to convince themselves that something good was being done, at least the Bible was (sort of) being preached before a huge audience. But these people, you hit back hard (either metaphorically or literally–as in a guy berating you for no reason, screaming at you, shoving you like some 10 year old schoolyard bully, deserves a good shove back, and if that doesn’t stop him, he needs a straight right).

    I see no virtue in a man breaking down in tears when a bully runs roughshod over him—because if he’s doing it to you, he’s doing it to others, probably some of them children. A person like that must be stood up to. Jesus absolutely decimated the reasoning of the bullies of His day, made them look like fools in public repeatedly. And since He apparently had no problem pushing right straight through the crowd that time when they were trying to throw Him off the cliff. I assume He knew how to take care of Himself—when it came to NPD, sociopaths and bullies.

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  18. James MacDonald is the evangelical David Miscavige.

    Harvest is not a church. It’s a business. A business that is in the business of conning Christians for money.

    The blurb published by the paper has a statement I believe is majorly wrong:

    A review of public records, internal church documents and interviews shows the discord at one of the biggest churches in the Chicago area has been boiling for years, the culmination of an aggressive expansion strategy and MacDonald’s ambitions in spreading the gospel.

    His ambitions had nothing to do with spreading the gospel. His ambitions were aggrandizing himself. It’s funny, though, I’ve seen this myself- all a shyster has to do is proclaim with phony feeling how much the gospel means to them and how everything they’re doing is “for the lost” and people turn off their discernment and common sense, and award them 100% of their faith and belief.

    You can bet that people have tried to speak truth to MacDonald throughout his life and they were simply discarded and shunned when they did so. It’s not that he was unaware what he was doing was wrong. He had non-disclosure agreements with his employees for a reason.

    When I began my job, Kathy and James encouraged me to start fresh with them and not listen to or read about any previous issues with them and the church.

    James and Kathy are both well aware.

    None of this has anything to do with Jesus Christ other than that sincere believers are deceived into supporting it for a time until they come to their senses and move on. Why they are still getting 40% of the usual giving is beyond me. The contrast between how Jesus lived his life and how James MacDonald lives his is laughable. He is a con man and he’s gotten away with it all these years. Which makes you wonder, what is going on with Christians, what are they doing with their brains and their common sense?

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  19. SiteSeer,

    Sorry, I meant to say why is the giving only down by 40%. So enough people still think this is a worthwhile enough enterprise to give 60% of the usual. That is a lot of money. Think what it could do if actually used to help the needy.

    $15,000 to $20,000 to shoot a sable. Honestly. What foolishness.

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  20. Simply put, the doors at Harvest Bible Chapel need to close. After putting ‘ol MacDonald out to pasture, Harvesters, it’s time to flee and find fellowship with believers elsewhere. Go ahead, have the funeral for Harvest, and in doing so, God will be glorified.

    Just think how…..
    * Healing of past hurts at the hands of Harvest head honchos can begin to happen
    * Happiness can be found in a church home where holiness and healthiness are reoccurring fruit borne in the hearts of those who are heralding the gospel
    * Hucksters, hustlers, and heretics will be watched, warned, and made weary in churches of tomorrow where pastors and overseers forgo their responsibilities to the Lord and fail to care for, and fleece their flocks.

    While some of us may find little humor in the remake of the song, “Old MacDonald had a Farm”, others in the process of healing from the fallout of the HBC debacle may get a chuckle or two out of this.

    “Old MacDonald had a Church”

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he had a cow
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a coup coup here
    And a coup coup there
    Here a miscue, there a miscue
    Everyday, everyone cut into
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he was a pig
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a golf membership here
    And a little censorship there
    Here a trip, there a trip
    Everywhere an ego trip
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he had a turkey
    M E — I — ME — I — GO
    With a bobble-bobble head here
    And a bobble-bobble head there
    Here an elder, there an elder
    Everyone a yes-man
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he was a lame duck
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a quack quack here
    And a whack whack there
    Here a hurt, there a flirt
    Everywhere some dirt
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he dealt the cards
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    Here a gamble, there a gamble
    Blackjack, a kickback,
    Everywhere a wisecrack
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he had no shame
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a melee here
    And a misplay there
    Here a melee, there a misplay
    Everyone, everywhere lead astray
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he played a con
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a hehe here
    And a haha there
    Here a hehe, there a hehe
    Everyday, every way a spending spree
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he had some chickens
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a pluck pluck here,
    and a megabuck there
    Everywhere, everyone dumbstruck
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he stole a buck
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    Bought a home, sold a home
    Bought a bigger home
    Feeling right at home
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    And at his church he was a wolf
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    With a Bible verse here
    And a Bible verse there
    Here a wink, there a wink
    Everywhere, doublethink
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    Here amok, there amok
    Everywhere amok
    With a cluck cluck here
    And a pluck pluck there
    Here amok, there amok
    Everywhere amok
    With a melee here
    And a misplay there
    Here a melee, there a misplay
    Everywhere, everyone lead astray
    With a wolfpack here,
    And a bear attack there
    Here a greenback, there a kickback
    Everywhere a counterattack
    With a wink wink here
    And a stink stink there
    Here a wink, there a stink
    Everywhere, doublethink
    With a coup coup here
    And a coup coup there
    Here a coup, there a coup
    Everywhere a coup coup
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO
    Old MacDonald had a church
    ME — I — ME — I — GO

    On a more serious note, as former and current Harvest elders, pastors, and leaders continue to play games and exhibit mere worldly sorrow, I will continue to pray for and watch and wait for Godly sorrow that brings repentance. May we rejoice with the angels in Heaven whenever there is repentance unto salvation and a soul crosses over from death to life…and for some of these elders, pastors, and leaders, that’s exactly what this may be, a repentance unto salvation.

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  21. It seems like James MacDonald is a legend and a superman in his own raving, deluded mind and empty soul. Who else has only hatred and contempt for just about every other person on earth?

    This is the essence of James MacDonald, in my opinion. An accuser of the brethren. Accusing, shaming, violently humiliating others. This is his nature. Of course, he’s also an epic deceiver who knows how to plunder and devour the flock for his own pleasure and enrichment.

    So grateful to all those who are bravely speaking up.

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  22. To Jacob if you’re reading this post:
    Thank you so much for doing the right thing and speaking up. At least 30,000 people have come and gone through Harvest and we are reduced to only a handful of righteous folks having the courage to speak up. What you are saying does matter, both now and in the future.

    To thousands of silent Harvesters still out there:
    James MacDonald is living in Naples at the moment, a few short miles from HBC Naples. Naples is the #2 city in the USA for most millionaires per capita. James and Kathy are aggressively working to seduce those millionaires right now. He is telling them that the stories they are hearing are “fake news”- things that were blown out of proportion by some disgruntled former staff and members. It is because of his godliness & vital importance to God’s Kimgdom that he is under such a vicious attack by the “Enemy”. We know this is true because his new devotees are actively defending him using those arguments.

    Most of James’ new targets know him only from his radio show WITW. Even with stories out there, there still isn’t a large body of personal testimony of how horribly James behaved. We saw that the only thing that made the EC Elders fire James was the release of those audio clips. Somewhere there is 100 more hours, but it’s not being published, even though publishing it would be enough to DQ James in any sane person’s eyes.

    It is imperative that anyone with a story about abuse speaks up. Christians need to hear the first hand accounts of what happened. Otherwise, James, Luke, Jeff, Scott, Fred et al get to control the narrative and make themselves out to be the victims here.

    Film a video like this brave woman did https://youtu.be/L4lpYgAjG0Q. Why do you think that video has over 150K views? Because folks are still afraid of the Ghost of Leather Jackets Past even when he’s 1,300 miles away. People are hungry to hear the truth but are starving for the lack of it. If this suburban mom can speak up, so can you.

    If you are afraid to speak up because of an NDA – don’t be. According to attorneys who have reviewed them, they are not enforceable. Former Harvest member & attorney @TheDarthXander (Twitter) has publicly offered to defend anyone who is staying silent because of that fear.

    James & his top 20 Black Fund overpaid execs, plus dozens of Elders who enabled decades of this abuse, ARE going right back into ministry. Two of the absolute worst, former COO Scott Milholland & former CFO Fred Adams, are going into church consulting so that just like Sutton Turner they can spread their poisonous methods of instilling greed into hundreds of head pastors, instead of just one at a time. The former Harvest leaders will have an exponential reach into the Kingdom, very soon. Thinking that because James is gone from Harvest everyone’s safe is delusional.

    Think of all the lives they will be ruining as they convert thousands of power hungry, narcissistic, vain and greedy pastors to their way of seeing the name “Jesus” as some magic ATM secret code that makes millions in cash rain down on them. Uninformed flock members will be financially ruined and new Christians will risk having their faith destroyed.

    Speak up. Post a YouTube video. Create a Facebook post. Write to Dee or TED or Julie Roys or Warren Throckmorton or WE, if you have proof of wrong-doing.

    Law Prof was correct (as usual King Friday) had anyone seriously stood up to James and pushed back hard, this wouldn’t have happened. None of it. It’s too late for Harvesters. But it’s not too late to push back before the Harvesf Leaders strike again, in new venues. Tweet. FB on this. IG on this. Post your comments here or other blogs. Tell what you saw in the trenches. Toss a lifeline to the hundreds of thousands who these leaders will be trying to rope in with their lies & manipulation over the next few decades.

    What is the point of being a Christian if you won’t make the smallest effort to extend a helping hand to future victims? This makes us no better than the folks crossing the street in the Good Samaritan parable. The disinfecting light of truth is the only way to prevent this outbreak of spiritual abuse from spreading like a pandemic. Become a kid again. Use your boisterous, loud outdoor voice and go tell it on the mountain!

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  23. You are exactly correct! Monster, psychopath, evil, imposter, abuser are all I would say describe him. I have heard from some sources Kathy and the in-laws are a bunch of rude and demanding as well. Only God knows the depth of these horrible people.

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  24. Shocking statement by Jacob Ross. Two major questions I have that I’m sure will be explored and addressed in the books that will inevitably be published are (1) what was JM’s family of origin like and (2) what mindset causes one to remain loyal to a JM or HBC after volumes of info on abuse and mismanagement have been disclosed? No truer words have been written in regard to WCCC or HBC than these: “Jesus doesn’t need them. We need Jesus”.

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  25. Jmac is only one of many. The sad thing is he will be back. He’ll find followers like Driscoll did and set himself up in a new abode with whatever cash he had squirreled away.

    And he isn’t alone. They are legion.

    Until the pew sitter stops giving there will be no end to it.

    Religion is the best business going.

    I’m signing off.

    Via con Dios, everyone!

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  26. Amy Moore,

    I want to know why lawsuits have not been filed, why none of these guys are under criminal investigation. They have conned, misled and stolen countless dollars intended for ministry. The people who have kept the books – including the secret ones – need to be called to testify under oath, under risk of perjury, as to what really happened, and where the money went. How can they just walk off with a ‘We made a few mistakes’ and start all over somewhere else? Isn’t that what government is supposed do be about – stopping revealed criminals and shysters from continuing their lives of crime? How is MacDonald any different than Madoff, or the countless mafia bosses who have been locked up for deceiving and ripping off others for personal enrichment?

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  27. Law Prof: I see no virtue in a man breaking down in tears when a bully runs roughshod over him—because if he’s doing it to you, he’s doing it to others, probably some of them children.A person like that must be stood up to.

    But if you’ve been taught your whole life that that bully is your spiritual leader, set over you by God, to whom you owe loyalty and obedience – that’s not an easy leash to break.

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  28. Law Prof: All anyone had to do was love the truth more than they loved their positions at Harvest and push back. You push back hard on this type of person and refuse to back down, they fold like that. Why didn’t anyone just push back?

    Not certain it works that easily — some people who tried to do that were ex-communicated. One will be dismissed with the explanation that you are succumbing to Satan/demons or something like that.

    To the person who is young in their faith, it can be hard to see so it becomes hard to walk away, and I don’t think it takes long to “drink the kool-aid.”

    There was interesting documentary on 20/20 documentary on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker recently. They thought they “deserved” the riches, the Rolls Royces, the golden faucets.

    I found this blog searching for information about a ARC plant that seems to be using Gateway as a model. I love the people in the church, so it is hard to walk away. I don’t feel secure enough in my faith to be a force against what seems concerning…..and that is how it happens.

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  29. The thought occurs that if the rump remnant of HBC does not move rapidly toward financial transparency, it may suggest that there are ongoing financial flows from the corporation toward its former great leader.

    If HBC actually goes under, would anyone have standing to undertake a forensic accounting of its records?

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  30. Eeyore,

    Sorry I dont agree, I can’t imagine breaking down and crying because some guy yelled and belittled me. I won’t say here what would have happened but it would not have gone well for him. I work in an industry where that type of thing would probably result in the two of you rolling around on the floor. I know because I’ve seen it before and had several situations personally. Have we just become such a nation of cowards and weak men that we let this type of behavior go unchallenged. Doesn’t say much for the next Generation

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  31. roebuck,

    There is a clip of her in 2014 pastors wife condense video where she says her husband is an out there passionate and anfir cracker and she loves ALL of it about him. She is as bat shit crazy as he is! The whole family is! They all talk alike flail their arms wildly about as they talk, they all seem like they are on meth! They look like tweekers, which is an insult to methhead and tweekers cause actually a lot of them are nice people

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  32. Daniel,

    And even if you chose not to strike back physically, what self-respecting person would not say, ‘Who the h*ll do you think you are?’ and walk away for good? No one should allow someone to treat them with disrespect, let alone outright bullying. I’d be ‘See ya’ at the very first sign of such behavior. Particularly from one who SHOULD know better.

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  33. Daniel,

    I agree Eyore but I think maybe James was masterful at picking people he could do this to and get away with it. I think there is a certain personality that Harvest attracts, obviously not everybody, but they use very high ego descriptions like “unapologetic teaching”, “unashamed worship”, “you are loved” almost like these mantras to attract people who are lacking in self identity and want a strong lead in their lives. There is a lot of lost lonely people in the world needing a sense of belonging and I think Harvest profited greatly off them and attracted and confines to attract a more specific type of population

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  34. Amy Moore,

    Hello, Amy Moore.

    Interestingly enough, a man whose ministry I deeply respect, Todd Friel of Wretched Radio this week cautioned believers about speaking out about specific and salacious details in the HBC debacle. Todd did not mention Harvest or James MacDonald by name but it was crystal clear that‘s who he was referring to. I don’t disagree with Todd Friel often, but on this occasion, for all of the reasons Amy and countless others have evidence to believe or bear witness to, Todd’s admonishment to the Church uncharacteristically missed the mark.

    I was in Naples vacationing just yesterday—and heading home to Chicago today. I’m not sure what I would have done if I saw James MacDonald walking down Fifth Avenue. But here’s what I do know. Amy Moore is speaking truth. If you care that others too may be used and abused by James MacDonald and other ministers of Satan who long ago apostatized from the faith, then don’t just sit idly by. Do something. Say something.

    It’s shocking how many people think it’s a godly thing to keep quiet in the face of evil. In doing so, we just give Christianity a bigger black eye.

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  35. From Ross’ statement: “… irrational and ugly temperament of angry outbursts … criticize unfairly others, calling them idiots, stupid … anger, guilt and shame that James heaped on people … pushing me and yelling … James didn’t let up until he felt like it …”

    MacDonald put a whole new spin on “Total Depravity” that even his New Calvinist buddies would cringe at! He apparently hung out too long with his bud Driscoll and learned only one way to manage people – by manipulation, intimidation, and domination. If this guy emerges following his “sabbatical” to launch a new ministry, he would be right to call his followers idiots and stupid.

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  36. roebuck: I believe he is a psychopath.

    Ross’ statement paints a picture of a man with something like “Dissociative Identity Disorder” with a dual personality … or just another mean hypocrite in mega-mania … or a masquerading angel of light driven by a demonic spirit.

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  37. TS00: How is MacDonald any different than Madoff, or the countless mafia bosses who have been locked up for deceiving and ripping off others for personal enrichment?

    No different in character. I wonder if a case could be brought or, if so, who would bring it. It seems like the difference might be the ambiguity of religion. When we put money in the plate, is an actual purpose for the gift articulated or promised, beyond “the Lord’s work”? I don’t know the answer to this. In Madoff’s case, the money was not a gift or donation, it was entrusted for a specific purpose and it could be proven not to have been used for that purpose. Aside from ‘special offerings’ which have a specific purpose given, what actual guarantee do Christians have as to how their offerings will be used? Is it specific enough to stand up in court? I’m just wondering out loud, here. I think that, in Driscoll’s case, there were offerings given for very specific purposes that were not used for those purposes, yet the authorities were not interested in pursuing the case, does anyone remember how that went? He came out of it with plenty of cash in his personal account to facilitate his ‘new beginning’. So I guess what I’m saying is, do we have any ground to stand on in regards to our gifts? It’s a system built on trust and assumptions; no wonder it attracts grifters. I wish I could have back a lot of what I’ve given in the past. Live and learn. I only give to needs that I know of personally now and to rated charities whose books are transparent.

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  38. Armed personal security for a preacher? Why? (And no, Jacob Ross was not going to prevent a mass shooting during services. His job was not to protect the flock.)

    The closest equivalent I know is a military chaplain assistant who accompanied a chaplain to Afghanistan. That assistant carried Bibles, hymnals, and Communion elements. Military chaplains are unarmed non-combatants. At the time, only one branch of the US military allowed chaplain assistants to be armed.

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  39. I’ve seen elders maintain their position within church leadership in hopes of educating, undermining, or restraining an abusive pastor. These elders put up with mistreatment of themselves in a conscious attempt to protect others. Probably misguided and ultimately unhelpful, but it’s not always cowardice.

    I was very frustrated with the leaders in my exchurch who knew the problems and did not do anything. There are those who are craven and selfish, to be sure. But I’m aware that abused spouses are often hurt by people saying, “Hey, just leave! I’d never put up with that for a minute!” when anyone who knows much about the subject knows there’s more to it. So I don’t wish to sympathize with any toadying, enabling elders on the make, or see-no-evil-church-is-a-big-party types, but I think we have to be careful not to shift too much blame from a bad guy to the people who get tangled in his web.

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  40. Daniel: cowards and weak men

    These are the kind of qualities that are often valued and promoted in churches. Ask questions and have confidence in your convictions and you may find yourself described as divisive or a troublemaker.

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  41. SiteSeer: Friend: Armed personal security for a preacher? Why?

    I guess when you know there are a lot of people out there that you’ve screwed over?

    A commenter in one of the other blog pieces on MacDonald said he now has a Santa Claus look. I suppose that means he let his beard grow out so he could go incognito in Florida. Shedding the black leather jacket in warmer climes would also make sense, but what’s he going to do with that prominent “Vertical Church” tattoo on his arm?

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  42. Max: All the mega-maniacs have them.

    Well, I keep trying to come up with a list of things people can look for when trying to identify a safer or healthier church. Futile, I know. But maybe avoid any preacher who has an armed bodyguard?

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  43. Max: He apparently hung out too long with his bud Driscoll and learned only one way to manage people – by manipulation, intimidation, and domination.

    I’m guessing they both possessed their character defects from childhood and gravitated to religious work because it afforded them what their natures craved; they were buds because they are birds of a feather. There are several more like them still operating with impunity out there. Somehow these charlatans always amass a following. They know how to put together a package that attracts people, keeps them above scrutiny and provides all the perks and sense of importance they believe they deserve.

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  44. James MacDonald, Bill Hybels, Mark Driscoll…So many stayed on thinking they could make a positive impact. Unfortunately, these men have deep seated personality issues that need to be explored by professionals., However, they will never get near a professional. They aren’t stupid. They know something is deeply wrong with them but refused to deal with it because they’ve become wealthy. They’ve surrounded themselves with yes men who hope to cash in on the game. That includes those in their families.

    I keep waiting for one of the wives to finally break and spill it but they will not. I used to think it was because they were afraid for their children in a custody battle. Sadly, MacDonald’s boys joined him in his enterprise. Same with Hybels. Driscoll’s kids are getting older. It will be interesting to watch them.

    I highly doubt that these men treated their wives any differently than how they treated others. At least pastors could go home and breathe. Imagine living with this 24/7?

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  45. Law Prof: I see no virtue in a man breaking down in tears when a bully runs roughshod over him—because if he’s doing it to you, he’s doing it to others, probably some of them children. A person like that must be stood up to.

    Much of Christianity equates being Codependent to being loving, god-fearing, Christ-like, and proper, that’s why they don’t stand up to bullies.

    Codependency is usually pushed more heavily on to girls and women, telling them that codependent traits are “God’s design” for women (being assertive is a product of “feminism,” and all of feminism is supposedly evil and to be avoided, you see), but, some churches also push men to be codependent, as well.

    Please consult the book
    “No More Christian Nice Guy” by author Paul Coughlin
    for examples of how Christians indoctrinate men to behave like passive, wimpy, doormats.

    (The women’s version of the book is called “No More Christian Nice Girl.”

    See also: “The Nice Girl Syndrome” by author Beverly Engel to see how secular culture also brainwashes women to be passive.)

    If you’ve been taught your whole life by Christian churches and parents that standing up to bullies and being assertive is “mean,” selfish, un-godly, and wrong, you will not be able to confront bullies in adulthood.

    You have to be taught how to handle conflict while a child and teen to later know in life how to stand up to jerks, and to know that it’s OK and permissible to confront jerks.

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  46. Friend: maybe avoid any preacher who has an armed bodyguard?

    There is a large SBC church near me, a rather mild mannered people of God with a traditional preacher who isn’t charismatic … but in their sanctuary each Sunday, there is a group of men sitting in the pews and stationed near exits who are packing heat with conceal and carry permits … primarily to deal with a potential mass shooter. I suppose this comes with the territory these days, particularly in mega churches. It ain’t so friendly out there these days, Friend … as my daughter used to say when she was a child “There are bumblebees out there.”

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  47. dee: James MacDonald, Bill Hybels, Mark Driscoll…So many stayed on thinking they could make a positive impact.

    IMO, 90-days would have been sufficient time to determine that – particularly for those who observed these guys up close and personal … and especially with MacDonald – whew!!

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  48. Mike Medow,

    Agreed. Also, some churches have a skewed view of Matt 18:15 and how to apply it. I’ve known people who have gone to pastors and leaders to confront their sin only for it to be turned against that person and then labeled a “divisive” person who then got disciplined for that. Totally messed up.

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  49. Mati: Law Prof: All anyone had to do was love the truth more than they loved their positions at Harvest and push back. You push back hard on this type of person and refuse to back down, they fold like that. Why didn’t anyone just push back?

    (Mati replied)
    Not certain it works that easily — some people who tried to do that were ex-communicated. One will be dismissed with the explanation that you are succumbing to Satan/demons or something like that.

    I said this before on this blog years ago, but…

    Spiritual Abuse is the same as secular workplace abuse and workplace bullying.

    Same dynamics apply.

    If anyone here wants to know why the church members act like passive lemmings in the face of an abusive church culture OR abusive boss, it’s not only due to certain doctrines being taught (eg. Codependency as a virtue),

    but due to the same reasons why some bosses in secular, corporate jobs harass subordinate employees, the co-workers refuse to intervene, and H. R. Department refuses to hold the abusive boss responsible.

    Also see: bullying by children of other children in public schools and why other kids don’t intervene, and the teachers do nothing.

    Same dynamics.

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  50. That reads like the statement of an upright, honest, and sane man. One who had also been a manager.
    Good for him, God bless him, and this just adds to the fuel if the dumpster fire that is JMac, HBC, and their “pastoral staff”.

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  51. Daniel:
    Eeyore,

    Sorry I dont agree, I can’t imagine breaking down and crying because some guy yelled and belittled me.I won’t say here what would have happened but it would not have gone well for him. I work in an industry where that type of thing would probably result in the two of you rolling around on the floor. I know because I’ve seen it before and had several situations personally. Have we just become such a nation of cowards and weak men that we let this type of behavior go unchallenged. Doesn’t say much for the next Generation

    Really? That’s how you may respond. Everyone isn’t you and everyone doesn’t have to be like you. People respond in millions of ways depending on millions of different circumstances they find themselves in.

    Honestly, considering your statements about people being cowards if they don’t respond in your approved way, you are coming through like a bully yourself.

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  52. Daniel: Sorry I dont agree, I can’t imagine breaking down and crying because some guy yelled and belittled me.

    It can and does happen to those of us who were verbally abused and shamed in our family when growing up.

    Couple that sort of up-bringing with church teaching that we are worms, have no value, and that (especially true for girls and women), that being passive is “godly” and “loving,” and you grow up believing that stuff.

    And so, yes, it’s a recipe for raising kids who grow into adults who get easily hurt feelings and cry when yelled at by adult bullies.

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  53. TS00: How is MacDonald any different than Madoff, or the countless mafia bosses who have been locked up for deceiving and ripping off others for personal enrichment?

    MacDonald (in the eyes of devout fundagelicals) is different because ‘he led people to Jesus’, thus saving their souls from ECT (eternal conscious torment) in the fires of hell.

    No mob boss or wall street shyster ever did that.

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  54. If Jmac ever talked to me like that, it would only happen once and there wouldn’t be any tears…only some bleeding and a few bumps and bruises…Jmac is a bully and a Gutless Coward…he proves it by the way he ran away and hides out in Naples Florida like a scared little girl…a real fake tough guy and fat blowhard….please forgive me, I’m really angry after reading Jacob Ross’s statement and I’m just letting off steam.

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  55. Max: Ross’ statement paints a picture of a man with something like “Dissociative Identity Disorder” with a dual personality … or just another mean hypocrite in mega-mania … or a masquerading angel of light driven by a demonic spirit.

    It sounds dissociative, but maybe the “passion for ministry” was rooted not in a love of ministry or of service to people, but of the “good things” that come to those who are successful in that line of work. That would be completely consistent with the ways he is reported to have treated people who got in the way of the “good things.”

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  56. Daniel: a nation of cowards and weak men

    Have you been hanging out with dudebro “pastors” like Driscoll and MacDonald … macho men who belittle wimpy Christians? Tough guy preacher-boys who only preach to men?

    Bad-boy preachers seem to be a hit these days with tough guys who don’t want to give up being a bully, nor their potty-mouths. Driscoll told his elders that he would break their noses if they crossed him – thousands of Driscollites loved him for saying stuff like that! On the other hand, Jesus was meek, but not weak – He possessed power under control … unlike dudebros who control others for power.

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  57. Max: From Ross’ statement: “… irrational and ugly temperament of angry outbursts … criticize unfairly others, calling them idiots, stupid … anger, guilt and shame that James heaped on people … pushing me and yelling … James didn’t let up until he felt like it …”

    MacDonald put a whole new spin on “Total Depravity” that even his New Calvinist buddies would cringe at! He apparently hung out too long with his bud Driscoll and learned only one way to manage people – by manipulation, intimidation, and domination.

    If this guy emerges following his “sabbatical” to launch a new ministry, he would be right to call his followers idiots and stupid.

    While what I said in posts above is true – people raised to think being direct and assertive is wrong, so they avoid open conflict – I don’t think bullies such as Driscoll and MacArthur realize that their victims experience anger, and so these bully pastors will regret their bullying ways.

    After being bullied for so many months or years, even the most passive, sweet, god-fearing, codependent individual will eventually go from being ‘Afraid’ to being ‘Very Angry.’

    That translates into ‘Defense and Retaliation By Passive Aggressive Behavior.’

    Had I worked for MacDonald (or Driscoll) back in my codependent days, I would have eventually and quietly, behind the scenes, sabotaged them and their ministries in every way possible,

    everything from pouring salt into their sugar shakers,

    to leaking embarrassing memos and financial records publicly,

    to dawdling on filing important paper work (so it gets turned in past due dates),

    to pouring a bit of caffeinated coffee into their Decaf coffee pots at the church…

    To quite possibly doing things like just walking on by, without calling emergency number 911, if they were trapped in their car in the church parking lot and it burst into flames, or they collapsed somewhere, dying, of having a heart attack.

    My Mom raised me not to harm others, so I did no harm, but she never said I had to intervene if someone else was in trouble.
    Walking away was not considered “bad.”

    So to all you adult bullies out there who use fear, screaming, humiliation, and intimidation to get your way:
    You may on the face of it control people and get your way (temporarily), but the passive aggressive among your targets will get even with you eventually.

    You just won’t see it coming and won’t know when they will strike.

    I don’t think bullies ever consider that.

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  58. Max: Have you been hanging out with dudebro “pastors” like Driscoll and MacDonald … macho men who belittle wimpy Christians?Tough guy preacher-boys who only preach to men?

    Bad-boy preachers seem to be a hit these days with tough guys who don’t want to give up being a bully, nor their potty-mouths.Driscoll told his elders that he would break their noses if they crossed him – thousands of Driscollites loved him for saying stuff like that!On the other hand, Jesus was meek, but not weak – He possessed power under control … unlike dudebros who control others for power.

    I once heard a pastor (whom I respected though I was beginning to have doubts) preach from Nehemiah (it was in the midst of a fundraising campaign for facilities expansion). He notes that Nehemiah “pulled out the beards” of some of the Israelites who were not doing what he told them to.

    Today’s masculine men don’t have beards long enough to get a good grip on for pulling out, so “breaking noses” will have to do.

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  59. Amy Moore: What is the point of being a Christian if you won’t make the smallest effort to extend a helping hand to future victims? This makes us no better than the folks crossing the street in the Good Samaritan parable. The disinfecting light of truth is the only way to prevent this outbreak of spiritual abuse from spreading like a pandemic.

    Amen Amy! Greatly appreciate your insights. Everyone, please pray that Harvest folks who have testimonies or proof of abuse or wrong-doing, will be empowered to come forward.

    We need a lot of prayer! Abusers like James MacDonald are very intentional in their psychological “chess play” as they draw people in to control them. The abuser builds a paralyzing, crushing fear into the hearts of those he dominates. It takes enormous fortitude and faith in the protection of God to speak up publicly against an abuser.

    When stuff is unbelievably sick and twisted, it also unjustly shames and embarrasses the victim… and often all a victim longs for is to be free and safe from the abuser and to not be identified with the abuse. I hope and pray that more people will find the love and support they need in the Christian community to tell their stories about MacDonald and Harvest.

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  60. Max: Ross’ statement paints a picture of a man with something like “Dissociative Identity Disorder” with a dual personality … or just another mean hypocrite in mega-mania … or a masquerading angel of light driven by a demonic spirit.

    I skimmed the PDF last night.

    MacDonald sounds like a big, whiny, spoiled man-baby-toddler to me.

    The report actually said that MacDonald grew tired and annoyed of having to take a 30 minute car trip twice a week to a studio to film his TV show.

    So he demanded that the church build him a TV studio closer to his house, so he’d not have to take long trips twice a week.

    I used to have one full time job that was a miserable, congested, 45 minute drive to, and then 45 minute drive from, daily.

    And my air conditioning in that old car of mine was junk, it only kicked in after about 25 minutes, so I sweated like a pig through most of the car drive home daily.

    And that was in a southern state, where the heat and humidity is very unpleasant.

    And I was not making millions, or hundreds of thousands, per year at my position as this joker was at his.

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  61. SiteSeer: These are the kind of qualities that are often valued and promoted in churches. Ask questions and have confidence in your convictions and you may find yourself described as divisive or a troublemaker.

    Yes. And if you are a woman, you will also be accused of trying to usurp a man’s authority, and you will be said to have the “Jezebel spirit,” etc.

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  62. Dan keller: If Jmac ever talked to me like that, it would only happen once and there wouldn’t be any tears…only some bleeding and a few bumps and bruises

    You know, about 10 1/2 yers ago, a couple of pastors decided to go after me (and some friends) accusing us of spreading lies and making ungodly accusations about our character. Guess how I dealt with it?

    I was so mad, I started this blog to try to figure out if there were other jerks in the ministry. I thought my experience would be an outlier. 10 years later, here I am!!!

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  63. Daniel:
    Have we just become such a nation of cowards and weak men that we let this type of behavior go unchallenged. Doesn’t say much for the next Generation

    That sounds dangerously close to how JMac might define masculinity…

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  64. Mati: Not certain it works that easily — some people who tried to do that were ex-communicated.One will be dismissed with the explanation that you are succumbing to Satan/demons or something like that.

    To the person who is young in their faith, it can be hard to see so it becomes hard to walk away, and I don’t think it takes long to “drink the kool-aid.”

    There was interesting documentary on 20/20 documentary on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker recently.They thought they “deserved” the riches, the Rolls Royces, the golden faucets.

    I found this blog searching for information about a ARC plant that seems to be using Gateway as a model.I love the people in the church, so it is hard to walk away.I don’t feel secure enough in my faith to be a force against what seems concerning…..and that is how it happens.

    Never said it was easy. Of course it’s not. Jesus promised it wouldn’t be. Said even our families would often turn against us, people would hate us, ostracized us, fire us, maybe even kill us. That’s just part of the deal. You know, consider the cost, Jesus told us that also.

    It’s not like I haven’t been jettisoned from churches before, slandered, called a “destroyer of the church” and hated by those who I thought were friends. Back when I first became a Christian in the 80s, agnostic family thought I was a nut. Dad said “You’ve become a cult member now!” I was considered an idiot.

    I understand you love the people in the church, but darn it, you can’t love them more than Jesus. We have to be willing to follow Him even when it hurts and costs us friendships and careers and camaraderie. If we’re not there, then that’s where we need to be. And if it’s just too great a price, then how in the world are we any different from the young rich well-connected guy who came to Jesus all full of enthusiasm until Jesus told the guy to give up what was really important to him, his money, then follow Him?

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  65. Bridget: Really? That’s how you may respond. Everyone isn’t you and everyone doesn’t have to be like you. People respond in millions of ways depending on millions of different circumstances they find themselves in.
    Honestly, considering your statements about people being cowards if they don’t respond in your approved way, you are coming through like a bully yourself.

    I’m amazed at how so many people don’t comprehened this.

    They must have been raised in families when they were children that taught them normal ways of dealing with conflict and that instilled in them a sense of self-worth.

    Some of us (like me) grew up in the opposite sort of families, where we received the opposite lessons and were heavily discouraged from fighting back, being assertive, and from having boundaries.

    That will result in an adult who is incapable or unwilling to defend herself when bullied by other adults.

    I was willing to defend myself when I was a teen. I would go to my mother and basically ask her for permission to confront the bullies on the school bus or in gym class,
    and she never, ever granted it, because if I confronted the bullies, it “might hurt the bully’s feelings.”

    (My feelings and safety didn’t matter, only the jerk’s feelings counted.)

    As an adult, when I was bullied by other adults in jobs I had, I felt like I did not have permission to fight back, and if I did, it would be un-Christ-like to stand up for myself.

    It was more “godly” to suffer and let others strike one cheek, so to speak.

    It must be nice to have grown up in a family that taught you that it’s OK for you to be assertive and that you have self-worth, so you should defend yourself. Some of us did not grow up so fortunate and had to learn those lessons the hard way in our 40s.

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  66. Daisy: While what I said in posts above is true – people raised to think being direct and assertive is wrong, so they avoid open conflict – I don’t think bullies such as Driscoll and MacArthur realize that their victims experience anger, and so these bully pastors will regret their bullying ways.

    After being bullied for so many months or years, even the most passive, sweet, god-fearing, codependent individual will eventually go from being ‘Afraid’ to being ‘Very Angry.’

    That translates into ‘Defense and Retaliation By Passive Aggressive Behavior.’

    Had I worked for MacDonald (or Driscoll) back in my codependent days, I would have eventually and quietly, behind the scenes, sabotaged them and their ministries in every way possible,

    everything from pouring salt into their sugar shakers,

    to leaking embarrassing memos and financial records publicly,

    to dawdling on filing important paper work (so it gets turned in past due dates),

    to pouring a bit of caffeinated coffee into their Decaf coffee pots at the church…

    To quite possibly doing things like just walking on by, without calling emergency number 911, if they were trapped in their car in the church parking lot and it burst into flames, or they collapsed somewhere, dying, of having a heart attack.

    My Mom raised me not to harm others, so I did no harm, but she never said I had to intervene if someone else was in trouble.
    Walking away was not considered “bad.”

    So to all you adult bullies out there who use fear, screaming, humiliation, and intimidation to get your way:
    You may on the face of it control people and get your way (temporarily), but the passive aggressive among your targets will get even with you eventually.

    You just won’t see it coming and won’t know when they will strike.

    I don’t think bullies ever consider that.

    Sounds like that leaking, passive-aggressive sabatoge thing is exactly what happened. While I hate passive-aggressive stuff and prefer a good head on collision, am glad that this stuff happened and the truth got out.

    Because no matter what spin he applies, MacDonald got destroyed by a monster of his own creation and like Driscoll, even if he manages to make a comeback, it will be as a small timer, a sideshow. They always attempt returns to the ministry, but I’ve never seen a single abusive corrupt leader get anything but a paltry shadow of their former power and influence. MacDonald has to come to terms with the fact that it’s gone now for good. He can likely get a little something going off the backs of the gullible and foolish, but it will never be what it once was. It’s over.

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  67. Daisy: You just won’t see it coming and won’t know when they will strike.

    I don’t think bullies ever consider that.

    Thank you Daisy!
    This is exactly how (in many cases) Karma and her sister Comeuppance operate.

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  68. Daisy: MacDonald sounds like a big, whiny, spoiled man-baby-toddler to me … grew tired and annoyed of having to take a 30 minute car trip twice a week to a studio to film his TV show.

    Yeah, he also said that he was too important to have his time wasted like that. I’m hoping that during his “retirement” he has to drive at least 30 minutes everywhere he goes.

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  69. Samuel Conner: Today’s masculine men don’t have beards long enough to get a good grip on for pulling out, so “breaking noses” will have to do.

    Maybe JMac will find a group of weirdos to preach to down in Florida who enjoy beating each other up. With enough knock-down-drag-outs, his vertical church might become horizontal.

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  70. I don’t follow any of the celebrity preacher boys, but does anyone know how many have come forward and condemned MacDonald’s behavior, and/or apologized for past support of him? Sure seems like they should all be jumping up and standing against abusive, false teachers, shouldn’t they? Shouldn’t they?

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  71. Daisy:
    Dan keller,

    I appreciate the sentiment, but standing up to a bully boss is easier said than done, if you are concerned about being fired, and you need the pay check, and you don’t know if you can get another job quickly should you get fired or quit.

    Sure it’s easier said than done. But it can be done and people do it all the time. I’ve had one truly awful boss in my entire career. Just one guy who I think was truly unethical, like the MacDonalds, Driscolls, Mahaneys and MacArthurs of the world. And I went in and told him exactly what I thought of the unethical and illegal stuff he was doing. Have never regretted that. Of course, my time as a manager in that company was over. Tell students the story and let them know that they haven’t lived til they’ve been literally escorted from the building as I was after they were fired/quit. It was Dec 22. We had several kids. Imagine the glee of my wife when I came home early and told her “Honey, I got fired or quit…it all Just kind of happened at once…Merry Christmas!” Not easy. How to move out of the new place. Fortunately the Christmas presents were already bought and sitting in the closet. We had no good notion of how we were going to live or feed the kids. No clue. But it was not long after that that a couple legal settlements came through (was lawyering a little on the side) and then I shockingly got the job offer at my present university, for which I was not qualified at all (having not one published article in an academic journal at the time) and got into a career I love. Worked out like a dream. Had I been worried about money and compromised, might still have been there in management at a corrupt corporation hating life…or might be in prison by now.

    God took care of us. But if He’d decided to let us all starve, He’s still God and still worthy of following. It’s not like I’m a paragon of virtue, I’ve so often been a gutless wonder, not sharing Jesus with others, not speaking up for what’s right. But whenever I’ve done the right thing, like this one time, I’ve never regretted it.

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  72. TS00: I don’t follow any of the celebrity preacher boys, but does anyone know how many have come forward and condemned MacDonald’s behavior, and/or apologized for past support of him?

    At one time, JMac was a darling of the New Calvinist movement. That tribe has gone silent about him. But, the who’s who in the new reformation were already starting to distance themselves from him before his leather jacket hit the fan in Chicago. Like Driscoll, he became a potato too hot to handle after a while. From being a featured speaker at New Calvinist conferences, it is now “MacDonald who?”

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  73. Muff Potter: Thank you Daisy!
    This is exactly how (in many cases) Karma and her sister Comeuppance operate.

    You are so very welcome, LOL. 🙂

    For years, due to all the indoctrination I got from family and churches that it was wrong to show anger (openly) or to be assertive, I had to master my emotions.

    I had to repress any anger I felt at being bullied and had to register no facial emotion to show how angry I was at the time, while the bully was in my face screaming at me.

    As a result, I had years of practice of having a great poker face, and I became very patient.

    I could bide my time.
    I could wait weeks, months, or years to finally and stealthily get back at someone who was being a jerk to me.

    Bullies and abusers win in the short term, but they usually end up losing in the long term, and they lose to the passive-aggressive, quiet, outwardly sweet and compliant types.

    (Witness the downfall of guys like MacDonald and Driscoll. They may not get their comeuppance right now now, and maybe not tomorrow, but they will get theirs one day.)

    A lot of bullies never figure this out, they never count on their victims getting back in under-handed, quiet ways. Many of them expect a full frontal, obvious assault and tirade.

    They aren’t prepared for, or expecting, the quiet take down.

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  74. Daisy: I’m amazed at how so many people don’t comprehened this.

    They must have been raised in families when they were children that taught them normal ways of dealing with conflict and that instilled in them a sense of self-worth.

    Some of us (like me) grew up in the opposite sort of families, where we received the opposite lessons and were heavily discouraged from fighting back, being assertive, and from having boundaries.

    That will result in an adult who is incapable or unwilling to defend herself when bullied by other adults.

    I was willing to defend myself when I was a teen. I would go to my mother and basically ask her for permission to confront the bullies on the school bus or in gym class,
    and she never, ever granted it, because if I confronted the bullies, it “might hurt the bully’s feelings.”

    (My feelings and safety didn’t matter, only the jerk’s feelings counted.)

    As an adult, when I was bullied by other adults in jobs I had, I felt like I did not have permission to fight back, and if I did, it would be un-Christ-like to stand up for myself.

    It was more “godly” to suffer and let others strike one cheek, so to speak.

    It must be nice to have grown up in a family that taught you that it’s OK for you to be assertive and that you have self-worth, so you should defend yourself. Some of us did not grow up so fortunate and had to learn those lessons the hard way in our 40s.

    All of this. Also, I would add, knowing one’s self. I have a terrible temper, well under control. If, if, I let it out, I have a terrible time reigning it in. It’s part and parcel of my generalized anxiety disorder. Once it’s ramped up, it’s on.

    So I don’t let it truly out. People have finally started to learn when I get quiet, that is bad. It means I’m really tamping down the volcano. I have had to tell people, “I’m not being meek for MY sake. I’m being meek for YOURS. Meek doesn’t mean I am cowed. It means I am in control.”

    My Tae Kwon Do master (South Korean champion, not part of a chain, and a real Mr. Miyagi) once advised me “…avoid fighting as much as you can, doing everything you can. But if you cannot avoid it, do everything you can to win. Not just then, but for good, and forever.”

    My aikido instructor has been good at helping with control, redirection, and response as well. Fight as much as needed, and only enough.

    It’s about control. I don’t know how I would have reacted to JMac. I wasn’t there. But posturing benefits no one.

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  75. Law Prof,

    Please scroll up to see a post I left for someone else where I explain the psychological reasons a lot of people are incapable of addressing bullies forth right.

    I was bullied pretty badly by a boss I had at one job.

    But due to indoctrination from childhood into my young adulthood from church and parents that being a Christian women means being a sweet, passive doormat who never fights back, left me defenseless.

    I was taught by preachers and Christian parents that standing up to a bully was morally wrong and un-Christ-like behavior (Jesus wants me to be loving, especially to “my enemies”), and I used to be a very obedient Christian goody two shoes, so I was not about to knowingly violate Christian teaching, which means I endured a lot of people walking all over me.

    At that point in life, being bullied by that boss, my pay check was not a huge concern, but for some adults, it is.

    If you need that pay check to survive (and you have little savings to go on and no spouse with his own pay check to tide you over), you’re not likely going to risk it by standing up to the mean, verbally abusive boss.

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  76. Daisy:
    Law Prof,

    Please scroll up to see a post I left for someone else where I explain the psychological reasons a lot of people are incapable of addressing bullies forth right.

    I was bullied pretty badly by a boss I had at one job.

    But due to indoctrination from childhood into my young adulthood from church and parents that being a Christian women means being a sweet, passive doormat who never fights back, left me defenseless.

    I was taught by preachers and Christian parents that standing up to a bully was morally wrong and un-Christ-like behavior (Jesus wants me to be loving, especially to “my enemies”), and I used to be a very obedient Christian goody two shoes, so I was not about to knowingly violate Christian teaching, which means I endured a lot of people walking all over me.

    At that point in life, being bullied by that boss, my pay check was not a huge concern, but for some adults, it is.

    If you need that pay check to survive (and you have little savings to go on and no spouse with his own pay check to tide you over), you’re not likely going to risk it by standing up to the mean, verbally abusive boss.

    I read that already, Daisy, and get it. But we cannot be prisoners all our lives of whatever may have gone on in our upbringing. Suspect that MacDonald probably had a horrible upbringing. Takes a lot of emotional abuse to make a bully. But that doesn’t excuse it. Of course people are taught all the time that it’s wrong to stand up to bullies, unChristlive, but can’t those people read the Bible also and read what Christ actually did and see the way He treated bullies and realize what a blasted pack of lies they’ve been taught?

    I had a father who raised me tho be sexually lascivious. He’d openly make crude, suggestive comments to waitresses when he and mom went out to eat. You can imagine what that did to mom’s mood, how it killed the whole evening for her. He bragged to me about his sexual exploits when he was a teen, would name names, people in the small town where I grew up, middle aged women whom he’d counted as conquests as a teen. He took me to a strip club as an adult. I refused to go in and waited in the car. Once told me “The meaning of life is to get all the women you can.”

    There’s my upbringing, and I wouldn’t have a single excuse in the world for be coming a Bill Hybels or Bill Clinton because of it.

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  77. Daisy:
    Law Prof,

    If you need that pay check to survive (and you have little savings to go on and no spouse with his own pay check to tide you over), you’re not likely going to risk it by standing up to the mean, verbally abusive boss.

    But we had one income and five kids, a homeschooling family, and it was three days before Christmas when I told the boss what an unethical scumbag he was, and we needed that paycheck to survive. In fact, our situation may have been more dire than the great majority who say they just couldn’t possibly stand up to their bosses.

    At some point, you have to decide whom you’re going to follow, what you’re going to chase: safety or Jesus. And generally, you don’t get to choose both—no, you never get to choose both. That’s the whole point. Maybe some people are realizing that they never really wanted Jesus, they wanted friendship and “meaning” in their lives, and to “live well” and fun and camaraderie and to be in a “relevant, cool” church and in some cases, to collect a six-figure paycheck doing “God’s work”. But at some point in time, they simply had to know it wasn’t God’s work at all.

    And then, when some of them finally made the break, to do so in a way that preserved their status and protected their standing in the reformed world, to keep the truth under wraps so that they didn’t burn bridges with MacDonald by creating real letters that told the truth, while producing fake letters for the consumption of the HBC members who had a reason to know the truth, to get mad at people here in some cases because they never intended the truth to go public (as if we all shouldn’t stand by our words, no matter what), it’s just a very strong sign that we’re dealing with people who have learned nothing at all and who possibly aren’t interested in learning anything at all.

    I can’t judge every person who wrote one of these letters, God will judge them, as He will judge me, but I can look at the fruits of the actions, and if they’re not willing to lay their careers and futures in the evangelical movement and paychecks on the line for Jesus, then why should we consider these the actions of one who is in love with Jesus above all?

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  78. Law Prof,

    So true! Choose Jesus or your safety in the world, even the safety of the church world – approval of people, looking polite and cool, good paychecks, future referrals…
    Your authentic faith counts in God’s eyes.

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  79. Law Prof: At some point, you have to decide whom you’re going to follow, what you’re going to chase: safety or Jesus.

    Yes, but everyone is in process. There is a growth curve here. (For some there is not, granted ;).) I will say much more now and stand against much more than I could/would have 40, 30, 20, or even 10 years ago.

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  80. Max,

    Yet, both Driscoll and JMac run like chicken – @#$$s when the heat is turned up…. true macho men will stand up and defend themselves, and take the lashings if they deserve it….. Driscoll and J Mac are such low life, it makes my blood boil…

    As a “older man”, the BS that these clowns spit out begore their falls disgusted me.. ( like calling women penis homes) … but given all the conflicts and screwed upness ( I like that phrase!) of our culture, I see how it appealed to late teen early 20’s guys… especially “on stage”….
    the damage that .these clowns ( i use that term since it can male it through the censors) did is, IMHO, much deeper than we realize..

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  81. Max,

    This is a great point, and needs to be sung from the roof tops….. The Calvnista love to tells “pew peons” what is good and bad to read follow; yet when one of their own goes down in flames, think Driscoll or now JMac, they distance themselves, ignor any previous endorcement…

    When I was young, I use to “listen to” “relgious leaders”….. I am so disgusted, I rarely do now… their lack of self policing is just draw dropping…

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  82. Bridget: Yes, but everyone is in process. There is a growth curve here. (For some there is not, granted ;).) I will say much more now and stand against much more than I could/would have 40, 30, 20, or even 10 years ago.

    Absolutely true and undeniable.

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  83. SiteSeer: When we put money in the plate, is an actual purpose for the gift articulated or promised, beyond “the Lord’s work”? I don’t know the answer to this. In Madoff’s case, the money was not a gift or donation, it was entrusted for a specific purpose and it could be proven not to have been used for that purpose. Aside from ‘special offerings’ which have a specific purpose given, what actual guarantee do Christians have as to how their offerings will be used? Is it specific enough to stand up in court?

    I attended Harvest from 2003-2011, and several times I heard James say from the pulpit that Harvest would not accept directed gifts, only donations to the general fund.

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  84. Jeffrey Chalmers: The Calvnista love to tells “pew peons” what is good and bad to read follow

    My first exposure to James MacDonald was when he popped up on the advisory team for LifeWay’s “The Gospel Project.” He was one of several leading New Calvinists who forced a subtle indoctrination to reformed theology on Southern Baptists via Sunday School literature. He wasn’t a Southern Baptist at the time (joined in 2015), but the young reformers idolized him and sought his wisdom as a counselor for TGP (the “project” = Calvinism … just as gospel = Calvinism to these folks). Since he was a new name to me at that time, I researched him and his climb to fame within New Calvinism – I didn’t like what I saw then and doubted that he was using the office of pastor as he ought … he obviously didn’t.

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  85. Jeffrey Chalmers: Driscoll and JMac … the damage that these clowns (i use that term since it can make it through the censors) did is, IMHO, much deeper than we realize

    The American church will experience the effects of these bad-boys for years. There are plenty of Driscollites and MacDonaldites serving as church leaders across the country. Their dudebro tactics, potty-mouth preaching, and hostile spirits continue to do the church much harm. So much for being “culturally-relevant” if it creates an army of followers like that!

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  86. Jeffrey Chalmers: When I was young, I use to “listen to” “religious leaders”….. I am so disgusted, I rarely do now…

    “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11)

    The problem with New Calvinism is that the youth group is running the church now! They are the “religious leaders” drawing the crowds … they are the ones with the voice that 20s-40s listen to these days. And they don’t have much of anything to say that is spiritually significant.

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  87. Max: in their sanctuary each Sunday, there is a group of men sitting in the pews and stationed near exits who are packing heat with conceal and carry permits … primarily to deal with a potential mass shooter. I suppose this comes with the territory these days, particularly in mega churches. It ain’t so friendly out there these days

    To be clear, I’m suggesting that people might be wary of a place with a Personal Bodyguard To Pastor. It reminds me a bit too much of a rock star or mobster insisting on having an entourage.

    Church security is a separate matter. Most big churches in my area try to keep security multi-layered and unobtrusive. One worldly reason is that an obvious display of weapons can give clues to bad actors (and maybe it’s “security theater” rather than effective security). Every church faces complex decisions about what promotes safety and feelings of protection when people just want to worship. My own church increased security a few years ago, but it is only a topic of discussion when we have something like an all-night vigil.

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  88. Law Prof,

    An abused child, regardless of the type of abuse, overdevelops the backside of the brain where the fight/flee response resides. It overtakes the frontal lobe where empathy resides. It develops that way due to creating their own defense mechanism. That’s why an abuse survivor could freeze in place or reduce the threat to where it’s flat on the ground. It goes down to the subconscious level. Even though the survivor tries to become a “power levers forward” person, the adult survivor’s sense of low self esteem will still come to the surface. Unless the adult survivor gets help and guidance it will remain with them the rest of their lives, amplifying all their health problems later in life. The well meaning but unknowable people don’t understand this.

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  89. Brian,

    Brian, this is a very significant point. I would suggest that this is exactly what MacDonald was attempting to cause in the people surrounding him – trauma-based mind control. The back and forth between pouring on the love, then pouring on the abuse is very much a tactic used to damage people and render them unable to cope.

    Which is why I suspect MacDonald was much more than an out of control narcissist, but a deliberate abuser who knew exactly what he was doing.

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  90. TS00: MacDonald was much more than an out of control narcissist … who knew exactly what he was doing

    And surrounded himself with a group of yes-men elders who allowed him to be a bad-boy for years. The dilemma HBC is in is as much their fault as JMac’s … they were complicit in his wrongdoing. God will hold the whole bunch accountable for leading His people in this way, and for the poor testimony their ministry has left on Chicago and a watching world. This is serious business and they failed the test.

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  91. Brian,

    That is exactly true & sadly one that several commenters here have completely missed. Not everyone’s childhoods were the same, even the same childhood has different effects on different children.

    Please please can EVERYONE stop the shaming of others whose responses are not what you think they should have been, whether that includes grooming, poverty, whatever. Men who have been encouraged to be sexually overbearing, please stop thinking that women who have been forced into a submissive & silent role all their lives should be able to do what you can. You’re displaying a true lack of understanding about male privilege there.

    Can we all just be a bit kinder? I’m not used to so much undermining of each other here & I’m not a big fan to be fair.

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  92. I’m really stressed today.

    Maybe I need to spend thousands of dollars that were given by well-meaning people to support my ambition to “spread the gospel” to go on a staged hunt and end the life of one of God’s glorious creatures. Because, I’ve heard that’s how some people relieve the stress of life.

    Then I need to hire an underling to drive me around in a Tahoe, and I need to berate them regularly.

    I’ve learned so much from JMac.

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  93. Beakerj:
    Brian,

    That is exactly true & sadly one that several commenters here have completely missed. Not everyone’s childhoods were the same, even the same childhood has different effects on different children.

    Please please can EVERYONE stop the shaming of others whose responses are not what you think they should have been, whether that includes grooming, poverty, whatever. Men who have been encouraged to be sexually overbearing, please stop thinking that women who have been forced into a submissive & silent role all their lives should be able to do what you can. You’re displaying a true lack of understanding about male privilege there.

    Can we all just be a bit kinder? I’m not used to so much undermining of each other here & I’m not a big fan to be fair.

    If that’s a shot across my bow, I truly fail to see what privilege I derived from having a sexually lascivious father. That’s not privilege, it’s starting life in a hole. Further, I’m aiming no arrows at any of the women at HBC. They are aimed at men who did not stand up to MacDonald even when they were right there seeing the abuse, seeing the misogyny, the behind-the-scenes ugliness and an abusive tyrant and then doing little except protect themselves on the way out.

    And to address Brian’s point, understood that bad things happen to brains when people are abused and that God is the one who will ultimately be the judge, knowing all—but, that doesn’t mean that actions can’t be judged. And if they were passive in the face of MacDonald’s tantrums and four-year old behavior and unable to see their way around that do to malformed lobes, it seems a remarkable thing indeed that those lobes function quite well when it comes to finding a canny way to get out without informing the parishioners of the problems and keeping it all under covers so they don’t make a stink and protect themselves.

    Of course, this also assumes that the back end of their brains actually were damaged in childhood, limiting a fight or flight response, rather than that they were just acting in a canny, calculated manner without regard for the others who might be hurt by not broadcasting to the world what MacDonald was.

    I’m just not backing off of this.

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  94. Boyo Guy: narc

    Yup. That was my instant reaction: Narcissist writ large.

    The sad thing is that while narcissists can be quite engaging and even, on some level, enjoyable, they inevitably bring suffering and destruction to churches they serve.

    It should also be said the problem is not confined to evangelicals. My own experiences with Episcopal priest Bob Malm, his empirically verifiable perjury, his efforts to cause suffering in order to advance his personal ends, his ability to lead others into his narcissistic web, and the unwillingness of denominational officials to take any action against him all underscore how remarkably toxic narcissists can be.

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  95. Law Prof,

    Yep, that was an (unexpected) shot cross your bow. Of course it was no advantage having a sexually lascivious Father. It was, however an advantage that you didn’t have all the spirit crushed out of you due to gender, so you were free to react how you did. You were born in the gender that misses that out as a custom fit role.

    And of course it doesn’t mean actions can’t be judged, or that we shouldn’t look at other actions & see that some things may be being used as an excuse, but there are voices on this thread – not yours predominantly – that aren’t recognising when there may be genuine factors affecting reactions that they have judged as weak & shameful. Some of it is victim blaming, & it has no place in a compassionate discussion.

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  96. Eric Bonetti: unwillingness of denominational officials to take any action against him

    You bring up an interesting point. James MacDonald is a Southern Baptist; he joined in 2015 on the wave of the New Calvinist takeover of the SBC. To my knowledge, there has not been a word from SBC executives about him. Perhaps they have been too distracted by other SBC scandals – e.g., the sex abuse expose’ by the Houston Chronicle.

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  97. Eric Bonetti: The sad thing is that while narcissists can be quite engaging and even, on some level, enjoyable, they inevitably bring suffering and destruction to churches they serve.

    “They are counterfeits of the real thing, dishonest practitioners, ‘God’s messengers’ only by their own appointment. Nor do their tactics surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his agents shall have the appearance of ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15 Phillips)

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  98. I do not think it is fair to assume everyone James bullied should have thrown a punch because let’s face it…. some of them were probably smaller than James! Neither does it line up with Jesus’ teaching on being persecuted.

    That being said, I have dealt with people where I came to the conclusion that the only thing that would set them straight and put them in their place is to get a dose of their own medicine. I guaranteee that James’ treatment of people and his anger was predicated by his assumption that nobody would ever stand up to him or physically stop it. It is like the scene in a Christmas story where Ralphie finally snaps and beats up the bully. Everything that the bully did was done with the assumption that Ralphie would never get physical. In my adult years, there were three instances where I had to defend others by standing up to the bully in a way that made them wonder if I was ready to get physical…. they backed down all three times. Bullies are tempting people to “take it up a notch” but assume that they will not.

    One time I did it to defend a woman at an airport. I could not watch it any more. The guy backed down with some sarcastic remarks…. then he shut up.

    So…. while I do not condone an old fashioned beating, some people have it coming. James would have backed down I think.

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  99. TS00:
    Amy Moore,

    How can you say that? Madoff at least acknowledged he was running a racket. It’s not fair to compare a Wall Street con artist to a spiritually abusive pastor.

    I want to know why lawsuits have not been filed, why none of these guys are under criminal investigation. They have conned, misled and stolen countless dollars intended for ministry. The people who have kept the books – including the secret ones – need to be called to testify under oath, under risk of perjury, as to what really happened, and where the money went. How can they just walk off with a ‘We made a few mistakes’ and start all over somewhere else? Isn’t that what government is supposed do be about – stopping revealed criminals and shysters from continuing their lives of crime? How is MacDonald any different than Madoff, or the countlessmafia bosses who have been locked up for deceiving and ripping off others for personal enrichment?

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  100. Beakerj: It was, however an advantage that you didn’t have all the spirit crushed out of you due to gender, so you were free to react how you did. You were born in the gender that misses that out as a custom fit role.

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Are you saying that men can’t have the spirit crushed out of them by childhood events? That men’s childhood issues and conflicts don’t matter because they were born male? That’s what it seems like, and it is an absurd thing to say, if so.

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  101. George: James’ treatment of people and his anger was predicated by his assumption that nobody would ever stand up to him

    And when they did – as in the case of a few courageous elders – they were excommunicated, with yes-men church leaders helping JMac throw those brave souls under the bus.

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  102. Muff Potter,

    A lot of people seem to say that, choosing to ignore the other column of the balance sheet that records the number of people injured by and those who have left the faith because of James (and leaders like him).

    It’s a bit audacious to say Wall Street professionals have not use their gifts to promote their faith, leading others to Christ. Sounds like conjecture to me.

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  103. This was in the Chicago Tribune Articlle

    ““This church has never been about one pastor or individual,” Harvest said in an emailed response to questions. “Since its founding in 1988, Harvest Bible Chapel has been about the worship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and proclaiming the authority of God’s Word without apology. … With new leadership, we prayerfully and purposefully seek to regain the trust of the community we serve and people who call Harvest Bible Chapel their church home.”

    How is that for an outright lie or sadly another denial of what has occurred at HBC.

    HBC certainly HAS BEEN all about one individual names James MacDonald. It has been very little to do about Jesus despite their claim but about MacDonald’s control and love of money.

    With continued denial like this above statement I agree with others who think that HBC needs to close and hopefully will under diminishing support.

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  104. “Needed, year to date: $3.8 million. Received: $2.6 million”

    I wonder how real this “needed” figure is?

    Is this based on their budget that included MacDonald’s inflated salary? With MacDonald gone and no longer supposedly having to pay him one would think their “needs” would drop. What others costs could HBC cut to get down to what their real “needs” are vs. what they claim to be their “needs?”

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  105. TS00: I want to know why lawsuits have not been filed, why none of these guys are under criminal investigation. They have conned, misled and stolen countless dollars intended for ministry. The people who have kept the books – including the secret ones – need to be called to testify under oath, under risk of perjury, as to what really happened, and where the money went. How can they just walk off with a ‘We made a few mistakes’ and start all over somewhere else? Isn’t that what government is supposed do be about – stopping revealed criminals and shysters from continuing their lives of crime? How is MacDonald any different than Madoff, or the countless mafia bosses who have been locked up for deceiving and ripping off others for personal enrichment?

    To T300 & Siteseer – sorry this is a bit long but I’m trying to address the bulk of your questions & comments.

    The issue of addressing the Harvest debacle in a court of law mainly comes down to political will; the will of the investigators, the prosecutors and the plaintiffs. If they have the will to go the distance, this can happen.

    There are a few different ways this case can be approached. The first would be in civil court. In order to file a civil lawsuit you need to have a plaintiff. Preferably one with deep pockets who has donated, say, over $50K-$100K and is willing to spend an equal amount in legal fees, and wait to recover their donations. Those legal fees would likely later be repaid by the defendant if the plaintiffs prevail. That’s what is going on right now in the TED/Roys case. The plaintiffs withdrew their SLAPP-style lawsuit, so the defendants get to seek sanctions against Harvest the corp as well as James MacDonald and the two top Harvest EC Elders, Ron Duitsman and Bill Sperling, who funded the lawsuit. Those three men are multi-millionaires, so they have the resources to pay a large judgment.

    The easiest way to achieve what you are discussing is for any of those five people (especially the two wives) to file a counter-suit for malicious prosecution. They certainly have the grounds to do so. Because of the nature of Harvest’s original complaint, this would open up Harvest’s books completely and faster than anything else and would result in punishing the evil players in this. That original lawsuit was an absolute GIFT, but it’s not being opened and put to good use right now. All the wickedness could be brought into the open, then prosecutors would be very hard pressed to not file criminal charges. It would smell like corruption/graft to give Harvest a pass at that point.

    So far, I haven’t seen much of an indication that this is going to happen. If you want to see justice, I think convincing one of the five to file such a counter-suit would easily be the best bet to see truth and justice prevail.

    If one aggrieved person doesn’t come forward, then imagine if say 40 middle-class families redirected the amounts they were previously tithing to HBC. 40 families redirecting just $250 would be $10,000. You could get started with that. If the case proceeds, maybe a few more months would generate $30,000 – $50,000, if needed, to fund the plaintiffs’ lawyers to proceed with discovery. Discovery is what the defendants’ fear most. When folks find out how much James has stashed away and gets in secret annuity accounts, more will be motivated to chip in and see it the rest of the way through.

    The other civil avenue available is a class action lawsuit. This requires both a lawyer with experience in class certification plus specific promises must have been broken. If you have given an unrestricted gift to the general fund, it is difficult to prevail in a civil court. There was definitely diversion of funds for the purpose of lavish personal enrichment – which is very helpful in such cases. While this represents horrible stewardship, were any specific promises broken?

    The basis for the Mars Hill civil RICO lawsuit was that Mars Hill specifically solicited funds for their Global account by representing that funds raised would be used to care for starving orphans in Africa. Mars Hill conspired to mislead their own flock into giving based on tear jerking Ethiopian commercials, then they turned around and used the money raised to invest in speculative real estate in the Seattle area. Leaked emails proved the Mars Hill elders’ duplicity and culpability.

    That was a pretty solid case and had the plaintiff prevailed, criminal RICO charges would have likely followed and Mark Driscoll could have been fined or spent some time behind bars. The only reason that suit failed was due to lack of funding for the plaintiff’s attorney. The man who filed it said he would proceed if enough other people contributed to the legal fund. Still in the state of shock and disillusionment, the people of Mars Hill did not step up. So the case died solely from lack of funding and now Sutton Turner and Mark Driscoll are free to destroy another generation of believers.

    Harvest using the Closer Campaign funds to pay operational expenses is similar to the Mars Hill civil RICO case. Harvest represented to the flock that one half of the $30M pledged, would be used for debt repayment, while the other half was for 12 designated, specific projects. With the drastic reduction in giving, the $3.3M already collected on the pledges is undoubtedly being used to pay for operations which until recently included James and Kathy’s extravagant winter holiday in Naples. Having had two full time lawyers on staff at that time, Harvest did put an exculpatory clause, in fine print, on the bottom of the pledges. Would that be enough for them to evade responsibility on this? IDK.

    The final avenue is criminal. IF there is political will, this is likely legitimate avenue of legal redress.

    A little over a week ago James engaged in yet another criminal act related to Harvest. The Elders running Harvest now, are the same ones who were running it all along, and the man controlling the bank account, EC Treasurer Bill Sperling, is also one of the men who sued the five truth tellers. They’re not going to call the police.

    IMO there is more than enough wrong-doing to go forward with criminal charges IF the related parties have the will to proceed.

    There is a small group of people in the process of considering this avenue. There are a number of serious violations. Many of them are related to tax evasion/tax fraud while others relate to financial fraud. Each of the issues are highly complex and take a LOT of work to try to pull together.

    While many people want to see this happen, how many are actually working to see that it does happen? Anyone with any information of provable illegal activity can DM me at @UT_Grad_Amy and I will get this information to those trying to make this happen.

    Once they have their case pulled together to approach the state, county and federal authorities, it will be imperative that as many people as possible contact the elected officials who can impact the decision to open a case or not. All prosecutors are hobbled by limited resources. If they do not believe that there is a high probability of conviction they won’t even open an investigation. The top prosecutor is also either an elected official or the appointee of an elected official. They ultimately answer to their constituents, but only when the constituents speak up and continue speaking up.

    This is why so few evangelical crooks are brought to justice. The parties who were defrauded are emotionally and spiritually devastated. They don’t want to be involved in any court action – civil or criminal. While somewhat understandable, the reality is that their reluctance to do so only encourages thousands of more grifters to set up their own church to defraud more gullible marks. The only way to stop the American Church from polluting itself into non-relevance is to take a stand, especially when the crimes are this flagrant.

    One of the most important outcomes of a criminal or civil trial is the legal precedent. Finding a mega-pastor and/or a church’s elders guilty of financial fraud and having to make restitution will send shockwaves to would-be crooks in the pulpit. Having the pathway to the next lawsuit paved with standards of evidence, discovery, and catching defendants lying to coverup their crimes are crucial to reform and more justice being brought forward.

    It is time for us all to put our own comfort and convenience aside and “do something” for the good of Christ’s Kingdom. God didn’t name us the “Body” and the “Bride” of Christ because he wants us to sit on a velvet chaise having our grapes peeled and fed to us. He did this to remind us that WE are the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the minds and the voice put in charge of protecting the children of God. How should any Bride/young mother behave when they see their children being ravaged? We can do something to stop the rapaciousness of these conmen, but only if we are willing to take a stand. And we will be judged by both our actions and our inactions.

    In the end, if the aggrieved parties do not make noise, it will not go anywhere. There aren’t that many megachurches who have so many flagrant examples of law scoffing as Harvest. If Harvest “gets away” with this, it will be like feeding goonies after midnight for all the other greedy millionaire wannabe grifter/pastors out there. Every Christian should be concerned about seeing justice prevail in Chicagoland. What happens next will affect our children and their children’s children.

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  106. Max:
    “A church in turmoil: Inside Harvest Bible Chapel’s questionable financial moves and erratic leadership”

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-harvest-bible-chapel-finances-20190319-story.html

    “In one of his last podcasts, uploaded Jan. 16 and titled “Refreshed in the Attack: In Case of Emergency,” MacDonald anchors his sermon in 2 Corinthians 4, what he calls one of his “go-to passages.” The portion of the verse MacDonald focuses on is: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.”

    “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to it,” MacDonald says on the podcast. “I can’t begin to tell you what it has meant to me. But I commend to you some treasured places in God’s word, some ‘In case of fire, remove hammer, break glass, go to this. This is one for sure.””

    I think he needs to read the first two verses of the chapter and see how they apply:

    2 Cor 4:1-2 “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

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  107. JDV: “In one of his last podcasts, uploaded Jan. 16 and titled “Refreshed in the Attack: In Case of Emergency,” MacDonald anchors his sermon in 2 Corinthians 4, what he calls one of his “go-to passages.” The portion of the verse MacDonald focuses on is: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.”

    “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to it,” MacDonald says on the podcast. “I can’t begin to tell you what it has meant to me. But I commend to you some treasured places in God’s word, some ‘In case of fire, remove hammer, break glass, go to this. This is one for sure.””

    I think he needs to read the first two verses of the chapter and see how they apply:

    2 Cor 4:1-2 “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

    MacDonald: “Again, we are afflicted but not crushed,” MacDonald says, his voice rising and falling in cadence. “There will be no knockout blow. I’m going to get through this, I’ll live to fight another day. That is awesome, awesome, awesome comforting news.”

    Fight, as in lawsuit-type fight? Fight, as in all of what is being reported on the physical and intimidation side? Fight, as in fight against applying the 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 standards of a pastor being above reproach and instead still trying to gather a congregation under your leadership? Don’t just take a couple of verses and customize them to a situation without acknowledging the relevance of others on the situation.

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  108. Steve240: This was in the Chicago Tribune Article

    “This church has never been about one pastor or individual,” Harvest said in an emailed response to questions.

    Mars Hill = Driscoll … Willow Creek = Hybels … Harvest Bible Chapel = MacDonald. None of these would have existed without “The Man” … and that man wasn’t Jesus. Cults of personality require a human persona; when the persona goes, the work which revolved around them fade. Mars Hill was dissolved; Willow Creek is on the decline; Harvest Bible Chapel is in chaos. But the good news is … the Church of the Living God moves on without them.

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  109. Bridget: I find that many pastors do this; take scripture and rip it out of context to make it say what they want. It’s one reason I don’t listen to pastors any more.

    I might even go so far as to say ‘most’ pastors do this; it is almost unavoidable, if a pastor attempts to preach a passage or verse. Even if they are supposedly preaching through the whole book or bible, almost without fail they will focus on some verses while ignoring others. They will choose which other verses in scripture to appeal to for clarification. And they will present their own particular interpretations, whether theirs alone or those of their particular system of theology. It is pretty much subjective, even if the pastor is entirely well-meaning. I prefer to read, and compare what many have to say, and keep my spirit open to the leading of the Holy Spirit for better understanding.

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  110. Max: Mars Hill = Driscoll … Willow Creek = Hybels … Harvest Bible Chapel = MacDonald. None of these would have existed without “The Man” … and that man wasn’t Jesus.

    Sadly, this seems to be true. But there is one important difference between Willow Creek and Harvest. When I was at Willow Creek, a member explained that they were saving up money to build a new chapel, and that they wouldn’t start construction until all the money for that building was in the bank. Very wise. I don’t know if they continued that policy, but I haven’t heard any comments from Willow Creek about emergencies with their debt load. Which means they might have time to transition to new leadership.

    That’s obviously not the case with Harvest, and I wonder how much of their “needed” budget is payments on loans.

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  111. On the testimony of multiple independent witnesses, the evidence is to my mind overwhelming that the person who ran HBC is a false shepherd and should not be accepted as a follower of Jesus. It was appropriate that he be put out of the church (and I mean the church, not a localised para-church organisation) long ago.

    There’s been much discussion here about those other men and women, who surrounded him. They endured his abuse personally and witnessed his abuse of others without, it seems, standing up for or protecting them. I am neither authorised nor competent to have the last word on this, but I do have an observation from my limited POV.

    Did it help to apologise to MacDonald while he was behaving disgracefully? No, it did not – tears or no tears. Was it the right thing to do? No, it wasn’t. Should they all have told him he was wrong to behave like that? Yes, they should. Were they, in short, wrong? Yes, I believe they were.

    But were they weaklings or cowards? Of that, I’m not so sure. I think it’s more likely that they were deceived. In other words, they submitted to “pastor James” because they honestly believed they should. At the same time, and noting how even Jacob Ross at the end of his statement talks about not wanting to “do anything to harm my church”, they honestly believed that HBC was a church.

    I can’t be certain about this. Probably there were at least a few other beta wolves around MacDonald – not deceived sheep, but other evil men who took every opportunity to do evil. I can’t tell them apart from this distance, though. I say all of this, not from divine revelation, but from my knowledge of how cults work and from the recorded statements of Jesus about the actions of false prophets. But I think it’s highly likely that when (like Kirk VanMaanen, for instance) they felt discomfort at the way they and others were treated, they honestly thought it was the discomfort that was wrong, that it came from their sinful natures, and that it was the very thing they needed to endure for the sake of doing what was right.

    Again, I cannot overstate that they were deceived and ultimately will need to own up to that. Those who were leaders in it cannot escape – at best – great sorrow for their part in a great wrong. But I seriously doubt that any individual had sufficient influence to stop MacDonald’s behaviour. I’m sure some people tried, but we don’t know anything about them because they were instantly expelled from the business.

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  112. Steve240: “Needed, year to date: $3.8 million. Received: $2.6 million”

    I wonder how real this “needed” figure is?

    Is this based on their budget that included MacDonald’s inflated salary? With MacDonald gone and no longer supposedly having to pay him one would think their “needs” would drop. What others costs could HBC cut to get down to what their real “needs” are vs. what they claim to be their “needs?”

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    I believe the $3.8M was only for the first 8 weeks.

    Any company that ADMITS they are down by 40% IS in deep financial trouble. And knowing that Lawrence Swicegood is spinning the narrative, it is probably much worse than what they are reporting. Keep in mind that Harvest had also been counting on taking in over $9M extra each of the next three years in Closer funds. Those funds were to be used 50% for debt service and 50% for expansion projects. In reality, management was already planning on supplanting their general fund with the Closer money.

    Closer is now $1.6M below pledge (budget). The General Fund is now $4.5M below 2017 levels (FY 2018 was not published but Harvest has been fairly flat for the last few years.) Harvest is tracking right now – if this trend continues – to finish the year at $16M, versus the approx $37M that they took in 2016 & 2017.

    Harvest is going to be $5M down by this weekend compared with Q1 FY2016-2017 avg. So right now, they are on pace to come up $21M short compared to prior years’ levels. $21,000,000 SHORT!

    Even if James was taking out say $2M/year, which is outrageous, but when you’re trending to be $21M behind, saving even $2M won’t save HBC. That’s why they ran the Closer Campaign, in order to create a buffer. So Harvest isn’t just going to be $21M down in FY2019, with the reduction in Closer contributions they are on track to be almost $28M down compared to what they had originally budgeted for.

    Even with austerity measures and layoffs, the actual “need” at Harvest is still fairly significant. While they will be able to drop most of the $8M a year in WITW expenses starting in April, they will also be losing the income that covered those expenses, plus gave Harvest an approx half a million dollar pop at year end.

    Harvest will still have to cover payroll, debt service and other facilities expenses. They run 7 campuses, plus a good sized K-12 school whose costs are supplemented by Harvest. The $10M a year black fund was mainly salary and perks of the top 20 staff. Many of those positions are still in place, although many of the perks have been cut down on. Staff may even have to fly commercial and cut down on those winter holidays.

    Keep in mind that Harvest is still having to pay for their crisis management firm, plus more legal fees, Dave Stone honorariums, and now supposedly more forensic accounting fees. Those aren’t cheap.

    In what other industry can management miss their numbers by 40% every single month, yet still be kept in place and allowed to choose their own successors? I have graphed all of this out. It’s one of the bleakest charts I’ve seen in awhile. And it should be.

    The good news is that James walked away with millions and the EC are obscenely wealthy (the head of the EC, Ron Duitsman, owns a very large fleet of private jets) and they are the ones who authorized all of this outrageous squandering. Their assets will still be in place for those who gather the courage to seek recompense.

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  113. Max: He wasn’t a Southern Baptist at the time (joined in 2015), but the young reformers idolized him and sought his wisdom as a counselor for TGP (the “project” = Calvinism … just as gospel = Calvinism to these folks). Since he was a new name to me at that time, I researched him and his climb to fame within New Calvinism – I didn’t like what I saw then and doubted that he was using the office of pastor as he ought … he obviously didn’t.

    I had the same reaction.

    I am perplexed about John 10, where Jesus said,

    “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

    What is going on with the huge numbers of people who flock to these characters?

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  114. Steve240: ““This church has never been about one pastor or individual,” Harvest said in an emailed response to questions. “Since its founding in 1988, Harvest Bible Chapel has been about the worship of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and proclaiming the authority of God’s Word without apology. … With new leadership, we prayerfully and purposefully seek to regain the trust of the community we serve and people who call Harvest Bible Chapel their church home.”

    Nice try. Saying it doesn’t make it so, Harvest!

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  115. JDV: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to it,” MacDonald says on the podcast. “I can’t begin to tell you what it has meant to me. But I commend to you some treasured places in God’s word, some ‘In case of fire, remove hammer, break glass, go to this. This is one for sure.””

    I’ve got another ‘go-to’ scripture for MacDonald:

    Psalm 50:16-17

    But to the wicked God says,
    “What right have you to tell of My statutes
    And to take My covenant in your mouth?
    “For you hate discipline,
    And you cast My words behind you.

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  116. I am standing on the side of God’s laws of Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
    And I also stand on the side of man’s law which says, “Innocent until proven guilty”-and that does not include the courts of public opinion.

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  117. “They told me that while James had his flaw, what he was doing was important.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    NEWS BULLETIN:

    no pastor is all that important. get over yourselves already.

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  118. Sandra,

    “Another thing, sure seems like JMac delighted in making grown men cry. He berated and abused everyone around him”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s like using a human being for sex — feel horny, use a sex worker for release.

    except he uses human beings for his emotions — he feels frustrated, he uses his staff or anyone for release. and he keeps going until he gets the release.

    it’s astonishingly childish — he hasn’t learned to manage his emotions with strategies. it’s like he’s a toddler, not even 2 years old.

    but he’s worse than any child i’ve observed.

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  119. The financial shortage being reported is probably not reporting shortages in other ministries of Harvest. For example, is Harvest Christian Academy also running short on income? How much income is lost IF Walk In The Word is gone? Etc.

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  120. Amy Moore: Any company that ADMITS they are down by 40% IS in deep financial trouble. And knowing that Lawrence Swicegood is spinning the narrative, it is probably much worse than what they are reporting. Keep in mind that Harvest had also been counting on taking in over $9M extra each of the next three years in Closer funds. Those funds were to be used 50% for debt service and 50% for expansion projects. In reality, management was already planning on supplanting their general fund with the Closer money.

    Amy

    Thanks for sharing your analysis of Harvest’s finances etc. You really don’t know how transparent Harvest is being here but I am sure their contributions are down and maybe even more than they are admitting. I have said this but apparently the only thing that Harvest understands is money. The only thing that will get their attention is a decrease in contributions and sadly even this reduction in contributions really hasn’t gotten HBC’s attention with their claim that their church was always about Jesus and not any individual.

    I think the best thing is for HBC to implode under all the debt they have similar to what happened with Bakker and PTL.

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  121. Nick Bulbeck: There’s been much discussion here about those other men and women, who surrounded him. They endured his abuse personally and witnessed his abuse of others without, it seems, standing up for or protecting them. I am neither authorised nor competent to have the last word on this, but I do have an observation from my limited POV.

    Did it help to apologise to MacDonald while he was behaving disgracefully? No, it did not – tears or no tears. Was it the right thing to do? No, it wasn’t. Should they all have told him he was wrong to behave like that? Yes, they should. Were they, in short, wrong? Yes, I believe they were.

    But were they weaklings or cowards? Of that, I’m not so sure. I think it’s more likely that they were deceived. In other words, they submitted to “pastor James” because they honestly believed they should. At the same time, and noting how even Jacob Ross at the end of his statement talks about not wanting to “do anything to harm my church”, they honestly believed that HBC was a church.

    My thought on MacDonald and how all these other leaders could stand by and basically enable him is that it is easy for us looking from the outside to wonder how this could happen. It is quite perplexing to “outsiders” like ourselves looking in to ask how all these men could be so blind and stand for all of Jame MacDonald.

    There must be some type of reason that a number of individuals some who I am sure are well meaning Christians didn’t take any action. How this could happen may make an interesting lesson for the church in general going forward. I am sure it was a number of items that caused these other leaders to enable MacDonald and not take action. This would include IMO:

    – How manipulative MacDonald was including knowing when to put on the “charm” and other times to be quite dictatorial.
    – Group think.
    – Cognitive dissonance in how James appeared on stage teaching on Sundays vs. how he acted in interactions with people
    – Assumption that since HBC had grown and attracted so many people that HBC and MacDonald must be of God and was God’s doing.
    – Teaching on supposed God ordained “authority” and how it was wrong to oppose and question MacDonald’s “authority”
    – Everyone thinking they were the only one that issues with MacDonald’s behavior

    I am not trying to excuse the actions of these other leaders but trying to understand how this could happen. Each person is responsible for their actions. This might be a good lesson learned.

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  122. I different line of discussion..
    I for one, use to put some “faith” in the “Evangelical Council for Finacial Acountabilty”…. I have NO RESPECT for them now..
    Maybe they think it is OK to have “black accounts” running over $10,000 a month…. I for one, do NOT think it is “OK”….
    I note that they have now “pulled their approval”……. This is classic close the barn door after the horse is our..
    NO, they are suppose to tell us that something is wrong finacially, not the other way around…
    Financial abuse and other abuse go hand in hand..

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  123. SiteSeer: What is going on with the huge numbers of people who flock to these characters?

    One of two things going on here, IMO:

    (1) They are unbelievers. Not everyone that goes to church is the Church. They are inoculated with just enough religion by “these characters” to keep them from getting the real thing. They have substituted an idol for Jesus. To them, Heaven shouts “Repent and believe!”

    (2) They are believers. But, they prefer an exciting church experience that comes with following “these characters” … cool bands, talented praise teams, espresso coffee in the foyer, “relevant” sermons, etc. They have left their first love, Jesus. To them, Heaven shouts “Repent or else!”

    I’m reminded of a passage from John 6. Great multitudes followed Jesus – 5,000 showed up for the picnic! But when the going got tough – when the challenges about following Christ began to settle in – “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”

    Much of what we are seeing across the church landscape in America is a counterfeit, rather than the genuine.

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  124. SiteSeer: his sheep follow him because they know his voice

    You have to know Jesus to know His voice. Charismatic charlatans are successful because they convince a multitude to follow them rather than Jesus. A believer ensnared by smoke and mirrors can be deceived for a season, but as he listens carefully and tests the spirits about him, he will not hear the voice of Christ … at that point, it’s time to repent and find the exit.

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  125. GSD {Getting Stuff Done]: there is one important difference between Willow Creek and Harvest. When I was at Willow Creek, a member explained that they were saving up money to build a new chapel, and that they wouldn’t start construction until all the money for that building was in the bank

    That only means that one demon was a better money manager than the other one.

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  126. Max: You bring up an interesting point.James MacDonald is a Southern Baptist; he joined in 2015 on the wave of the New Calvinist takeover of the SBC.To my knowledge, there has not been a word from SBC executives about him.Perhaps they have been too distracted by other SBC scandals – e.g., the sex abuse expose’ by the Houston Chronicle.

    Max: I often wonder if there are any SBC Executives or they are very selective about what they get concerned about. Let a SBC church call a Woman pastor and you will definitely hear from them. I am no longer SBC after many years because IMO there are no “true’ leaders left in the SBC.

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  127. Bridget,

    The inability of pastors to draw the intended meaning from a passage is epidemic. Perhaps seminaries should drop the Masters in Leadership programs and return to an emphasis on biblical exegesis. Bridget, I don’t listen to pastors anymore either.

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  128. mot: I am no longer SBC after many years because IMO there are no “true’ leaders left in the SBC.

    It’s increasingly clear that we have a spiritual leadership crisis in the American church … the SBC is but one example of that. Why Lord why? When Lord when?

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  129. elastigirl:
    Sandra,

    “Another thing, sure seems like JMac delighted in making grown men cry. He berated and abused everyone around him”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s like using a human being for sex — feel horny, use a sex worker for release.

    except he uses human beings for his emotions — he feels frustrated, he uses his staff or anyone for release.and he keeps going until he gets the release.

    it’s astonishingly childish — he hasn’t learned to manage his emotions with strategies.it’s like he’s a toddler, not even 2 years old.

    but he’s worse than any child i’ve observed.

    This is a charitable interpretation. Perhaps the man simply enjoys the exercise of power. IIRC in Martha Stout’s “The Sociopath Next Door”, this is described as characteristic of that personality type.

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  130. Mary: And I also stand on the side of man’s law which says, “Innocent until proven guilty”-and that does not include the courts of public opinion.

    Make sure you understand what you are saying, along with its implications. I take it you believe that OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony are innocent?

    Also, what is the law actually saying? The law treats one as innocent until it is proven. That in no way means the person IS innocent

    Take a look sexual abuse of children. Many cases can never go to court because of the Statute of Limitations. Therefore, in your paradigm, these people are innocent? Really?

    For the record, I believe that OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony are guilty.

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  131. Mary,

    “I am standing on the side of God’s laws of Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

    And I also stand on the side of man’s law which says, “Innocent until proven guilty”-and that does not include the courts of public opinion.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Mary, you are unwittingly the portrait of the queen of the enablers. declaring that all must float in a happy fog in an antigravity chamber, untethered from conviction of right and wrong, unable to take a stand on right and wrong.

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  132. LeRoy:
    Bridget,

    The inability of pastors to draw the intended meaning from a passage is epidemic.Perhaps seminaries should drop the Masters in Leadership programs and return to an emphasis on biblical exegesis. Bridget, I don’t listen to pastors anymore either.

    I’m not sure that this is “inability”. If someone thinks that he “has authority from God” by virtue of his ordination and church office, he may feel it within his rights to use the Scriptures to pursue his own agendas — perhaps he will imagine that his agendas are a divine commission that he is conscience-bound to pursue (I saw this in my last church but one; it did not end well). Such a man may function as “god” to his flock, and when he speaks, he speaks as if speaking the “very words of God.”

    This isn’t “inability,” it’s hubris.

    But God is not mocked and over the long term, self-will in the pulpit will produce fruits whose badness cannot be concealed.

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  133. Mary,

    “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matt 10:16

    Mary, I truly appreciate your heart, and desire to be loving. I do hope you do not mean to say you can ignore the countless, signed, detailed stories that corroborate one another as to James MacDonald’s anger, bullying, manipulation and financial shenanigans going back decades. This is not mere hearsay, but the confessions of men and women who have worked for and with MacDonald for years. I would suggest that ignoring this enormous cache of evidence would not qualify as being wise as a serpent, nor innocent as a dove; rather, you are positioning yourself as a determinedly ignorant sheep in grave danger of being consumed by the wolves.

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  134. I attended HBC in Elgin for 10 years and here’s The most important thing I’ve learned from that experience…. DON’T TRUST THE MEGA CHURCHES AND THEIR LEADERSHIP and MOST, not all other organized so called churches…. they’re not the Church modeled in The New Testament… Thankfully I was warned by a good man,Jeff Temple to search the Scripture myself, and I did and still do, and over the years I’ve learned and am still learning what THE BODY OF CHRIST really looks like and how it functions in the way God intended…do I have it all figured out? No I don’t.but I meet with a small body of believers, about 18 people at my house and my friend Paul’s house….No lead Pastor, No pastor of communications, No maintenance fees No money at all, we read and study the Bible and meet for prayer,we live our lives and help each other out as needs arise… everyone has opportunity to use the gifts God has given them… we’ve been doing this deliberately for about 2 years and all of us have grown in our knowledge of God’s word in it’s context, and how we’re to live it out…it has been hard and wonderful…We still have a lot to learn…..I have not given up on “the organized Church” I just don’t trust it.

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  135. Max,

    “To my knowledge, there has not been a word from SBC executives about him.”
    +++++++++++++++

    well, no sex rules were broken, so nothing immoral happened. just a few squabbles, a few mistakes, maybe. no big deal, really.

    and since James MacDonald is a male, he has this “Male Leader” backstage pass on a lanyard around his neck. he can can go wherever he wants, no questions asked.

    they are the court of the enablers along with Mary, floating flaccid in the antigravity chamber. impotent & incapable of taking a stand for anything.

    (that is, when sex rules and female comeuppance aren’t involved).

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  136. Dan keller: DON’T TRUST THE MEGA CHURCHES AND THEIR LEADERSHIP

    And even if you are look for a church among small, longstanding churches, chances are good that the pastor is reading these guys’ websites, their video lessons are shown for adult Sunday School, the congregation is listening to the radio programs, the elders’ “Bible study” is one of their books, and there is a poster on the foyer bulletin board for one of their conferences.

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  137. Samuel Conner: I’m not sure that this is “inability”. If someone thinks that he “has authority from God” by virtue of his ordination and church office, he may feel it within his rights to use the Scriptures to pursue his own agendas — perhaps he will imagine that his agendas are a divine commission that he is conscience-bound to pursue (I saw this in my last church but one; it did not end well). Such a man may function as “god” to his flock, and when he speaks, he speaks as if speaking the “very words of God.”

    You make a valid point. Scriptural exegesis tends to shatter one’s theological presuppositions. Hubris prevents one from examining the scriptures in fear that it may prove to counter what one assumed to be true. To my original assertion: it’s much more appealing for pastors to allow someone else do the hard work of sermon prep (see recent blog by Scot McKnight on sermon preparation services) rather than labor over context, case endings, verb paradigms and valuable time with the Holy Spirit. Today’s pastor is way too busy building the business to be bothered by the difficult task of drawing truth from the text.

    This isn’t “inability,” it’s hubris.

    But God is not mocked and over the long term, self-will in the pulpit will produce fruits whose badness cannot be concealed.

    Samuel Conner,

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  138. Dan keller,

    “to search the Scripture myself, and I did and still do, and over the years I’ve learned and am still learning what THE BODY OF CHRIST really looks like and how it functions in the way God intended…do I have it all figured out? No I don’t.”

    but I meet with a small body of believers, about 18 people at my house and my friend Paul’s house….No lead Pastor, No pastor of communications, No maintenance fees No money at all,

    we read and study the Bible and meet for prayer,we live our lives and help each other out as needs arise… everyone has opportunity to use the gifts God has given them”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    dang, Dan, this sounds really great.

    a word of caution on “still learning what THE BODY OF CHRIST really looks like and how it functions in the way God intended” —

    it won’t be any more specific than what you’re already doing at your friend Paul’s house.

    it’s plain to see what the Body of Christ isn’t:

    an industry, a business, a profit center, a hierarchy, a patriarchy, a kingdom for indulged & pampered rulers, a totalitarian society, mixing up ‘sanctified’ and ‘a peculiar ‘people’ with dystopia…

    if one is looking for what the Body of Christ is and what it looks like, resist anything specific and formulaic.

    as soon as someone thinks they have the answer, they think it’s their exclusive domain. they are right and everyone else is wrong. taking it one step further, they begin making public proclamations about it, prescribing it for everyone and everything. taking it yet one step further, they begin making a business plan around it.

    a big part of the huge problematic mess of christian culture (for as long as there has been one).

    where God is concerned, i think it’s wise to hold to basic things (kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness,

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  139. elastigirl,

    “where God is concerned, i think it’s wise to hold to basic things (kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness,…”
    +++++++++++++++++

    (hit enter to quick)

    to round out my thought:

    where God is concerned, i think it’s wise to hold on to basic things, like “treating people the way you want to be treated”.

    The gospel in simplest of terms = a bridge that jesus built between God and us so we can know each other now, in real time.

    …and hold everything else loosely.

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  140. LeRoy,

    I’ve done the same; better to highlight the text you want to quote, then click “Quote selected text”) and then scroll to the bottom of the Comment box so that your interaction with the quoted text does not get embedded inside the quoted text (this is why your comments are italicized — they are inside the the quoted block).

    THere are also clever things one can do, such as italicizing and bolding using tags. I’m not highly functional at that yet.

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  141. Samuel Conner: THere are also clever things one can do, such as italicizing and bolding using tags. I’m not highly functional at that yet.

    Quick primer:

    Typing “<b>bold</>” will produce bold.

    It’s important to add in the closing tag, i.e. </>, otherwise the rest of your comment will be in bold! It happens…

    Other tags you can use (this could go wrong if I mistype any of the next few lines!!):

    i: italic
    blockquote: Like this…
    code: Monotype font, like this
    strike: crossed out

    I’ve tried a few others, but that’s as much as I’ve been able to get to work thus far. The good news is that you can’t really break html; if WordPress doesn’t recognise a tag (e.g. because you’ve typed it wrong, or because you’ve tried an experiment) it’ll just ignore it and print your text.

    IHTIH

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  142. Nick Bulbeck: But I think it’s highly likely that when (like Kirk VanMaanen, for instance) they felt discomfort at the way they and others were treated, they honestly thought it was the discomfort that was wrong, that it came from their sinful natures, and that it was the very thing they needed to endure for the sake of doing what was right.

    You raise a good point.
    And if they’re (generic they) honest with themselves they’ll realize that it’s been beaten into them much in the same fashion as a Dickensian Schoolmaster would have done long ago.

    Namely, that your default condition is always ‘sin’ and so you can’t trust your ‘feelings’, because they’re always suspect as being ‘of the flesh’.

    I now flatly reject this teaching and consider it to be… dare I say “a sheep of height”?

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  143. Muff Potter: Namely, that your default condition is always ‘sin’ and so you can’t trust your ‘feelings’, because they’re always suspect as being ‘of the flesh’.

    I now flatly reject this teaching and consider it to be… dare I say “a sheep of height”?

    This strand of theology seems almost purpose-built to enable gaslighting and other forms of abuse. I think one can identify others in the history of the development of theology (the most important, IMO, being infernalism; a horse that I beat more than most readers like, I’m sure).

    I wonder if anyone working in the field of the history the development of theology in the churches has examined the history in this way: how the development of doctrine served to promote hierarchy and control within the institutional church. I have little doubt that this did happen, but am aware of no studies.

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  144. Samuel Conner: I wonder if anyone working in the field of the history the development of theology in the churches has examined the history in this way: how the development of doctrine served to promote hierarchy and control within the institutional church. I have little doubt that this did happen, but am aware of no studies.

    Secular and open minded biblical scholars have been saying this for decades, longer than I can remember. I have a close relative who is a liberal biblical scholar, and such ideas are not at all rare. Of course, when I once heard such things I ‘knew’ they simply hated God and his church. Now I think they were on to something, and find myself wanting to know more.

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  145. TS00,

    IMO, this is the real threat liberalism posed, as a growing number of scholars reached the same conclusions. Biblical ‘inerrancy’ was the excuse to tune out every thing they had to say and hunker down. Pretty much like the call to ignore social media: they don’t want people to be exposed to the truth.

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  146. roebuck,

    No, that’s absolutely not what I’m trying to say, & I’m sorry if I gave the impression it was.

    What I was saying was that within Christian culture gender roles can consign little girls to a role that involves instant submission, having no mind of their own, never speaking out, crushing their spirits…acting like this is a virtue, rather than a way of silencing & disempowering an entire gender. On the hand, little boys in the Christian world are encouraged to think of themselves as the rational ones, the leaders, the ‘heads’, & so are not disempowered as a gender when it comes to responding to trauma & bullies.

    Obviously individuals can buck this trend, & for certain little boys can have their spirits crushed.

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  147. Forgive me if this has already been said, but survivors of HBC can leave and spend some time in personal reflection and independent worship alone or with close friends. God will not be mad at you for walking away and protecting yourself and your family.

    That person and place are not worth wasting anymore of your life on. There are people who have been where you are and left. The sun comes up the next day. There are other churches, other faithful Christians who will not hurt you.

    Just look to Christ and look to your own welfare and healing.
    Peace.

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  148. Muff Potter,

    ” your default condition is always ‘sin’ and so you can’t trust your ‘feelings’, because they’re always suspect as being ‘of the flesh’.”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    i beg to differ. (understanding you do, as well, Muff).

    check this out, for an awesome story of how magnificent human beings are:

    an entire neighborhood in Newton Massachusets hired a sign language teacher to teach them how to sign so they could communicate with their 2-year old neighbor who is deaf. so they can be her friend. so they can let her know and feel that she is part of the neighborhood.

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/a-humble-opinion-on-celebrating-the-good-news-instead-of-wallowing-in-the-bad

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  149. Mary: I am standing on the side of God’s laws …

    Mary, I think you will find that TWW posts and comments would agree with you there! When it comes to MacDonald, it should be clear by now that he practiced lawlessness on several fronts.

    “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4) … JMac was a practitioner of sin in his treatment of others; lawlessness was in his DNA

    “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12) … no one has accused JMac of being loving

    “What partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14) … JMac tried to strike a deal with lawlessness under the banner of righteousness; it’s obvious from the reports of church leaders that he acted darkly while he should have been teaming with them in light

    Mary: I also stand on the side of man’s law which says, “Innocent until proven guilty” …

    Multiple witnesses have come forth – from insiders who knew him best – giving disturbing testimonies that JMac is guilty. TWW commenters represent the greater church at large who do not want to see him return to the pulpit; he has disqualified himself from that sacred office. Forgive him if he repents? Certainly! Restore him to ministry? NO!

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  150. Max: Forgive him if he repents? Certainly! Restore him to ministry? NO!

    Forgiving also does not mean not requiring him to make restitution for his sins. He needs to hand over every dollar he has taken from HBC, and get a real job.

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  151. Ronnie Floyd implemented a ‘recruit existing churches’ strategy as president of the shrinking Southern Baptist Convention several years ago:

    http://www.bpnews.net/44513/floyd-recruit-churches-to-sbcs-exciting-work

    “Recruiting existing churches to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention is among the components of convention president Ronnie Floyd’s strategy”

    “Some of these like-minded churches are nondenominational and others may be a part of a denomination…Southern Baptists should adopt a cumulative approach to growing and strengthening the convention that includes…church recruiting…church recruiting represents a significant opportunity for denominational growth”

    [Not long afterward, it was revealed that the churches of C.J. Mahaney (of the Sovereign Grace Ministries network) and James MacDonald (of the Harvest Bible Fellowship network) were suddenly Southern Baptist]

    Details:

    https://sbcvoices.com/what-should-we-think-about-pastor-platt/#comment-353004

    James Forbis: “regarding the Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville…I also personally hand delivered the first of many CP offerings to the Executive Committee in Nashville while on a business trip there…as I stated in the previous comment I was specifically sent to SGCL to help them make the transition to dual alignment with the SBC. I was under the direction of then president Ronnie Floyd”

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  152. Jerome: Ronnie Floyd, who brought Mahaney and MacDonald into the SBC, announces he’s the pick for President of the SBC Executive Committee

    And not a peep from him about how bad that idea was in retrospect! Floyd is a theo-politician who will tout unity between SBC’s traditionalist (non-Calvinist) and New Calvinist camps. His predecessor, Frank Page, was faced with the same dilemma but gave into Mohler at the expense of Southern Baptist identity, which was non-Calvinist in belief and practice for the past 150 years until Mohler showed up. With Floyd, the beat will go on … Mohler is clearly at the SBC wheel regardless of who sits in the Executive chair.

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  153. The key post has been vacant since Frank Page resigned in disgrace a year ago.

    https://www.arkansasbaptist.org/read/floyd-named-as-sbc-executive-committee-president-nominee

    “If elected, Floyd would be the EC’s seventh chief executive.”

    “[Search committee chairman Steve] Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas, said, ‘I cannot express how happy we are that Dr. Ronnie Floyd is being presented as our next President/CEO of the Executive Committee! Every single thing that we felt was needed in the person who was to fill this all important role in Southern Baptist life is exemplified in Dr. Floyd.'”

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  154. Mary: I am standing on the side of God’s laws of Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

    At what point should our compassion, kindness and love begin to extend to those who come after us, who will suffer the same fate due to our refusing to speak up?

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  155. Jeffrey Chalmers: I for one, use to put some “faith” in the “Evangelical Council for Finacial Acountabilty”…. I have NO RESPECT for them now..
    Maybe they think it is OK to have “black accounts” running over $10,000 a month…. I for one, do NOT think it is “OK”….
    I note that they have now “pulled their approval”……. This is classic close the barn door after the horse is our..
    NO, they are suppose to tell us that something is wrong finacially, not the other way around…
    Financial abuse and other abuse go hand in hand..

    Which begs the question, exactly how do they make their determinations to begin with? Do they actually examine anyone’s books? On what basis do they award their approval?

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  156. Samuel Conner,

    Have you considered 1 Clement? I can remember little of it’s content. But, I made quite an impression initially.

    It struck me as endorsing authoritarian structure in a manipulating way. It’s opening statements are both flattery, and hints of a severe fate for the rebellious.

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  157. SiteSeer,

    That is not the purpose of ECFA.

    It came into being circa late 1970’s to act as a shield for Evangelical organizations from Federal scrutiny, by way of the IRS.

    Para-Church charities had grown large and would likely face future scrutiny and regulation. The creation of ECFA gave the appearance of self-regulation.

    ECFA is an oxymoron. The member organizations are purchasing a fundraising aid. (The ECFA member seal)
    They are not purchasing auditing services of any kind. Auditing is specifically not desired as it would have been conducted by the IRS, if regulation had been strengthened.

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  158. elastigirl: where God is concerned, i think it’s wise to hold to basic things (kindness, compassion, generosity, forgiveness

    “As He is so are we to be in this world” (1 John 4:17). We’ve tried to force the Christian experience into a more complex mold. As you note, we just need to focus on the essence of Christianity: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” … the world would be a better place if both pulpit and pew were populated by such folks.

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  159. Muff Potter: Namely, that your default condition is always ‘sin’ and so you can’t trust your ‘feelings’, because they’re always suspect as being ‘of the flesh’.

    Yep. That is exactly what was hammered in to myself and my family’s soul for years. We left our church recently and dealing with the repercussions. Such a highly toxic and destructive believe drilled into the soul.

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  160. Max,

    “We’ve tried to force the Christian experience into a more complex mold. As you note, we just need to focus on the essence of Christianity: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” … the world would be a better place if both pulpit and pew were populated by such folks.”
    ++++++++++++++++++

    what bugs me SO MUCH about the currents running through christian culture these days is how negative it is. the focus is on everything “I” have to be so careful to avoid, and so careful to make sure “I” do. increasingly more and more. so much pressure. so complicated.

    CONTORTIONISTS FOR CHRIST!!

    my christian fellows seem either truly contorted trying to don all these non-intuitive prescriptive things all the time, or else they feel defeated and and burdened with being disappointments to God, self, & others.

    my son no longer wants to have anything to do with christianity because of it. the pressure was so heavy in the youth group he was in.

    i’ve tried to reframe things for him. to keep them positive. and to simplify them. be kind. make room for God by simply saying, “Thanks, God”. or “Ok, God, you & me, let’s do it.” doesn’t have to be any more drawn out than that. and going forward in faith that God will join you as you do your best.

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  161. Nathan Priddis: ECFA is an oxymoron. The member organizations are purchasing a fundraising aid. (The ECFA member seal)

    Ah. That’s what I was afraid of.

    So, in other words, it is a ploy to give the appearance that an organization has been checked out and found to be above board.

    Deception as part of the Christian life. Appearances more important that reality. Money the motivating factor. Seems to be a recurring theme.

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  162. SiteSeer: Ah. That’s what I was afraid of.

    So, in other words, it is a ploy to give the appearance that an organization has been checked out and found to be above board.

    Deception as part of the Christian life. Appearances more important that reality. Money the motivating factor. Seems to be a recurring theme.

    Yes.
    It was specifically created in 1979 because of the near-term threat of public policy changes. BGEA and WV where instrumental.

    Membership has a sliding fee schedual, and clearly, customers feel it is worthwhile.

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  163. This concept of forgiveness is a pesky one…..I listened to the sermon posted this week on EChurch in which Wade Burleson discusses the concept of Grace and forgiveness. I don’t think it was that much different than what was posted as the sermon topic for HBC this week, although to be honest, I didn’t listen to the entire sermon from HBC.

    Pastor Burleson made a disclaimer before launching into the sermon that this does not apply to certain abusive situations such as sexual abuse (major paraphrase there, I didn’t try to re-listen before writing this).

    I would argue that like many things in life, the idea that we should forgive all is not an absolute and there are different standards for different situations. James warns us that those who are teachers are held to a higher standard than those who are learners……Jesus told us that “it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” My interpretation of this is that to those who are given great resources, great things are expected. There is a different standard. A little frightening for this imperfect person. How does it all work out in the end? I don’t know. That is truly God’s judgement, so I continue to try my best, but….

    Time and time again, the Bible teaches to take care of the children, the poor, the downtrodden. Certain positions, whether they be child/parent (or child/any adult), physician/patient, pastor/congregant, politician/citizen create a power dynamic that, through its very nature, makes the 2nd person in that pairing less powerful. I would argue that those types of relationships require that the person in “power” be held to a higher standard. (The following is a total off the cuff editorial, but I think that part of the problem in our society is that politicians, through power grabs are now being held to almost no standard, and certainly not the standard of ordinary citizens. This statement applies to BOTH sides of the aisle and I am pretty disgusted by the lot of them.).

    Certain abuses in the physician-patient relationship result in a physician losing their license for life. I find it odd that there seems to be no such apparent standard for pastors even though James tries to warn us that teachers will be held to a stricter standard. Through MegaChurch(TM), that concept has been distorted and thrown to the wayside. I would suggest that the abuses seen in MegaChurch(TM) are exactly what James was trying to warn us of….just because someone claims the mantle of teacher does not mean that they have the experience or knowledge base to teach. Do we hold the flock of sheep responsible for following their shepherd into dangerous situations? No. They know to follow the voice of their shepherd. In the same way, I think it quite difficult for someone in an abusive church situation to always clearly see the abuses that are happening through multiple mechanisms that have been well described on this blog.

    I do love the simplicity of simple small groups for studying, learning and accountability. However, I acknowledge the power of the corporate church — for outreach and missions that the small group will never achieve. Still, the potential for abuse becomes high.

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  164. Nathan Priddis,

    I for one, USE to think that ECFA was some sort of auditing organization, and it was pitched as way to know your donations were not being missued.
    So, this is another example “christain organizations” taking advantage of christains assuming the best ( i.e. being gullible). Put in another “terms”, ECFA was decieving us.
    To all the critics of TWW, this is just another example of how we all need to be very wise, and not outright trust anything from “The Church”…. we need to test and investigate it ourselves…

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  165. Nathan Priddis: They are not purchasing auditing services of any kind.

    Yes, ECFA members are required to annually submit a renewal document which includes the recent copy of an audited financial statement. But it is not an ECFA third-party audit … leaving the church/parachurch to select their own auditor, some of which may be “cooperating” with the organization to frame the numbers submitted. ECFA essentially sells a member a seal of approval ‘if’ they adhere to “Seven Standards of Accountability” … but that compliance appears to be self-policing, which allows members to fudge things a bit. As I understand it, ECFA will terminate membership if allegations of financial mismanagement arise, as in the case of HBC. Thus, the whole arrangement with ECFA requires a high level of Christian integrity and exceptional fiscal responsibility at member organizations … well, it’s clear that some are coming up short on both … leaving whistle-blowers to raise the flag on financial mismanagement.

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  166. elastigirl,

    It should be noted that not ALL of Christianity is following the path of HBC and WC. There are millions of Christians that are completely unaware of these events and completely uninvolved, who practice the Biblical Christianity that these two modern Babylons have never even heard of.

    What we have witnessed is the implosion of imposters, and it is sad that so many smaller churches has been buffaloed into following their lead.

    I can still recall the glassy eyed look some of us got when we tried to warn our leaders that following these men was wrong. But we were labeled as cracked pots and assimilated to the parking lot. Turns out we were right all along.

    But they will never change and you can’t fight city hall. There must be an invisible barrier that is built in to these evangelical churches with a fundamentalist heritage that separates the man in the pew from the man in the pulpit. Modern evangelical church leadership looks like just another ladder to heaven to me, and these men are all to eager to get on board and start climbing. To h*ll with everyone else.

    The place I found healing was to not be in any church for quite a while. We had to get out from under the spell to truly see what reality looked like. Guess what? God did not strike us dead when we didn’t show up for the show on Sunday. We learned to connect again with one another, just the two of us. We read, prayed, studied, and prayed some more. And then when the time was right, I went on scouting trips looking for the truth at “the churches of the enemy”. These were places where the heathen were gathered, who just “played at church” as I was told. Turns out that the evangelicals I had been with did not know what they were talking about.

    On my scouting trips I found churches that had more Bible and more worship packed into a shorter service than any “Bible church” I had ever been to. Who would have thought?

    I hope people from HBC & WC who are hurt and don’t know what to do realize that there are brothers and sisters who will take care of them and help them to heal. They just aren’t found much in the for profit businesses that masquerade as churches. They are in the places you have been warned against.

    Take some time off and just chill. Go to breakfast or brunch on Sunday instead. Leave your tithes as big tips. Practice your faith out there, where it and you are needed. Find some friends to talk thru your experience. But take your time and learn from this. God won’t kill you for seeking the truth and seeking Him.

    You don’t need those fools anyway. Let them rot in their own foolishness.

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  167. Jeffrey Chalmers: we all need to be very wise, and not outright trust anything from “The Church”…. we need to test and investigate it ourselves…

    “Dearly loved friends, don’t always believe everything you hear … test it first to see if it really is. For there are many false teachers around …” (1 John 4:1 TLB)

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  168. Ray: Yep. That is exactly what was hammered in to myself and my family’s soul for years. We left our church recently and dealing with the repercussions. Such a highly toxic and destructive believe drilled into the soul.

    Ray, I just want you to know, painful and difficult as your experience has been, you are moving in the right direction. Give yourslelt the time, and the right to heal from the trauma you have incurred. Allow God, over time, to apply his healing balm. Then ask him to renew your mind, and lead you into better understanding of who he is and what he seeks than has long been suggested by much of institutional christianity.

    God is good, loving, gentle, kind and faithful. He loves us with an everlasting love, and desires to rescue, renew and reform us into all that he intends us to be. Don’t let traditions of men get in the way. They can be left at the curb, every single one.

    I stumbled around for a very long time, and am still getting my feet back under me. But I do not wish to go back to the slavery of Egypt. When I pray for those who are seeking God’s deliverance and his guidance, I believe that will include you as well as me. That which we lose is so unimportant compared to that which we gain.

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  169. Mati: I find it odd that there seems to be no such apparent standard for pastors even though James tries to warn us that teachers will be held to a stricter standard.

    In my experience, the way this has been explained (by the teachers, of course) is that the “higher standard for teachers” is future (i.e., “day of judgment”) stricter accountability before God for the teacher.

    This future strict accountability is portrayed as justification for the followers to give their unquestioning obedience to the leader(s) now . The theory seems to be “we have to trust that God has given us the leaders He wants us to have, and our job as “the flock” is to follow the shepherds wherever they lead. If they lead us into a bad place, that’s their responsibility before God. Our job is to follow them wherever they lead. If we don’t follow them (even if they are leading us into plainly bad places), we are guilty before God of disobedience to God’s appointed leaders, and thus of disobedience to God Himself.”

    Not surprisingly, human shepherds with that kind of lee-way and little to no present accountability tend to lead their trusting flocks into bad places. I have grown weary of that.

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  170. Nathan Priddis,

    In other words, when word got out that the Billy Graham association had ‘secret funds’ and ‘black books’, Graham was near to losing his chief angelic position in the hearts and minds of evangelicals. The creation of the ECFA gave him cover. Folks, this stuff has been going on for a really, really long time.

    With a hat-tip to Roderick C. Meredith for compiling these historical quotes, (albeit in defense of his own ‘cult’ of Christianity) in ‘The Plain Truth About the Protestant Reformation”, see if the institutional church of centuries ago looked much different than what we are seeing today:

    “And as soon as the revival of letters caused the contents of the New Testament and the teaching of the Fathers to be known, it was seen that what passed for Christianity at the close of the fifteenth century was scarcely recognizable as such, when placed side by side with what we know of Christianity at the close of the Apostolic Age.” (Plummer, Alfred, The Continental Reformation, 1912, p. 11)

    “Let us now see what was the state of the Church previous to the Reformation. The nations of Christendom no longer looked to a holy and living God for the free gift of eternal life. To obtain it, they were obligated to have recourse to all the means that a superstitious, fearful, and alarmed imagination could devise. Heaven was filled with saints and mediators, whose duty it was to solicit this mercy. Earth was filled with pious works, sacrifices, observances, and ceremonies, by which it was to be obtained.” (D’Aubigné, Jean-Henri Merle. History of the Great Reformation. 1843-1853, p. 17)

    D’Aubigne continues: “The bishops no longer preached, but they consecrated priests, bells, monks, churches, chapels, images, books, and cemeteries; and all this brought in a large revenue. Bones, arms, and feet were preserved in gold and silver boxes; they were given out during mass for the faithful to kiss, and this too was a source of great profit.”

    It is related that in the very church where Luther preached at Wittenberg, was shown a supposed fragment of Noah’s ark, a piece of wood from the cradle of Jesus, some hair from the beard of St. Christopher, and nineteen thousand other relics.

    These religious relics were hawked about the countryside and sold to the faithful for the spiritual merits they were supposed to bestow. The wandering salesmen paid a percentage of their profits to the original owners of the relics. “The kingdom of heaven had disappeared, and in its place a market of abominations had been opened upon earth” (D’Abigne, p. 17).

    Regarding two of these early popes, Wharey states: “Sixtus IV had sixteen illegitimate children, whom he took special care to provide for, and enrich. But of all the popes of this age, perhaps Roderic Borgia, who assumed the name of Alexander VI, excelled in wickedness. He has been called the Catiline of the popes; and the villainies, crimes, and enormities recorded of him, are so many and so great, that it must be certain that he was destitute, not only of all religion, but also of decency and shame.” (Wharey, James. Sketches of Church History, 1840 p. 211-12)

    “It was a common practice in those times for the priests to pay the price of blackmail to their bishops for the illegal concubines with whom they shared their beds, and for each bastard child thus produced.” (D’Aubigne, p. 18).

    “The Roman religion no longer contained anything that would cause it to be esteemed by those who were truly pious, and nearly the whole worship of God consisted in outward paganized ceremonies. Such sermons as were occasionally addressed to the people were not only destitute of all taste and good sense, but were stuffed with fables and nauseous fictions.” (Mosheim, Johann Lorenz von, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, p. 547)

    Notice D’Aubigne’s pitiful lament: “The evil had spread through all ranks: ‘a strong delusion’ had been sent among men; the corruption of manners corresponded with the corruption of faith. A mystery of iniquity oppressed the enslaved Church of Christ” (D’Aubigne, p. 20).

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  171. Max: Lots of ECFA members have been terminated, suspended, or “resigned” in the last two years (HBC is on the list as suspended): https://www.ecfa.org/FormerMembers.aspx

    The list shows members voluntarily leaving. To a lesser degree members where terminated for mergers or failure to submit documentation.

    I would point out the sole member shown as suspended. (HBC) Was HBC suspended because of failure of financial accountability, or because media reports over a significant time frame.

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  172. noevangelical: survivors … can leave and spend some time in personal reflection and independent worship alone or with close friends. God will not be mad at you for walking away and protecting yourself and your family.

    … There are other churches, other faithful Christians who will not hurt you.

    Excellent and compassionate points. For people who have spent years in a place that called itself the One True Church, your message can be hard to take in. But really, does Jesus care about our headgear or even our favorite Bible edition?

    So many of our objections to the church down the street are nothing when contrasted with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Worse than nothing, they are divisive distractions.

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  173. Samuel Conner: In my experience, the way this has been explained (by the teachers, of course) is that the “higher standard for teachers” is future (i.e., “day of judgment”) stricter accountability before God for the teacher.

    i.e. Weaponized Hellfire and Damnation.

    500 years ago, wasn’t Buying Indulgences the normal workaround for this?
    (That is, if you weren’t a priest, monk, or nun.)

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  174. Muff Potter: Namely, that your default condition is always ‘sin’ and so you can’t trust your ‘feelings’, because they’re always suspect as being ‘of the flesh’.

    And then you introduce
    “FOR GOD HATES SIN WITH SUCH A PERFECT HATRED…”
    — tract/booklet that messed me up during my time in-country

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  175. Max: The problem with New Calvinism is that the youth group is running the church now! They are the “religious leaders” drawing the crowds … they are the ones with the voice that 20s-40s listen to these days. And they don’t have much of anything to say that is spiritually significant.

    Make that “significant”, period.

    These guys are fakes, crooks, and grifters, and over-spiritualizing it just seals everything away in a pious bubble (with all the interior walls covered with Thomas Kincade paintings), preaching to a choir already groomed by these abusers.

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  176. Samuel Conner: This strand of theology seems almost purpose-built to enable gaslighting and other forms of abuse.

    “Almost”?
    FEATURE, NOT BUG.

    I think one can identify others in the history of the development of theology (the most important, IMO, being infernalism; a horse that I beat more than most readers like, I’m sure).

    “Infernalism” as in Weaponized Hell?

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  177. Friend,

    Thanks for your kind words. I read with interest the article in the Tribune that quoted people who were still attending, noting that they did not seem overly concerned that there was anything fundamentally wrong with their church in spite of the turmoil.

    I find that odd.

    If I were part of a business where this kind of thing happened I think I would be updating my resume and alerting headhunters as to my immediate availability. I doubt that I would sit idly by.

    So people continuing to give at an institution with these kinds of financial practices boggles my mind. They don’t seem to be fazed at all. It’s like, “What, me worry?” Just because you are “giving to God” doesn’t mean that the people you are giving the money to don’t have to be good stewards. Some of what has come to light looks a lot like a crime to me.

    But if it all comes apart to the point of being dissolved, then the same people will be vulnerable if they don’t look at their own involvement, understand what has happened, and realize what role they played. They need to be proactive regarding their own faith. They can’t keep outsourcing that.

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  178. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    One doesn’t need to weaponize it; it’s that way already. I have read that Emperor Justinian was really upset with the universalistic tendencies in some of the Greek Fathers. He wanted lurid post-mortem punishments to be dogma for their salutary influence on his subjects’ obedience to the State, which bears the sword.

    I noticed in my last-but-one church that generally the topic of post-mortem punishments was not prominent except when the budget was under stress. Then it was brought out as a teaching topic in order, seemingly, to incentivize the giving of the flock, on the theory that if the church budget suffered, ministries would be curtailed and that would prevent people from being rescued from the lake of fire.

    Dogmas have their uses, and “defining boundaries” is only one of them.

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  179. Samuel Conner: The theory seems to be “we have to trust that God has given us the leaders He wants us to have, and our job as “the flock” is to follow the shepherds wherever they lead. If they lead us into a bad place, that’s their responsibility before God. Our job is to follow them wherever they lead. If we don’t follow them (even if they are leading us into plainly bad places), we are guilty before God of disobedience to God’s appointed leaders, and thus of disobedience to God Himself.”

    I think this is basically the same argument that is used in church contexts to pressure women to submit to abusive husbands. One has to shake one’s head in contemplation of this understand of “authority.”

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  180. Nathan Priddis: Was HBC suspended because of failure of financial accountability, or because media reports over a significant time frame.

    EFCA evidently ignored media reports and all the “gossip” in the blogosphere, giving HBC a passing grade in December 2018 “we thoroughly examined the information made available to us and believed the church was in compliance with our standards.” EFCA President Dan Busby went on to say in his suspension statement “Given the emergence of new information, we have concerns the church may be in serious violation of ECFA Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6.” Those particular standards deal with Governance, Financial Oversight, Use of Resources & Compliance with Laws, and Compensation-Setting & Related-Party Transactions. https://www.ecfa.org/Standards.aspx

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  181. Samuel Conner: In my experience, the way this has been explained (by the teachers, of course) is that the “higher standard for teachers” is future (i.e., “day of judgment”) stricter accountability before God for the teacher.

    Which kind of proves that they don’t really believe in any kind of future accounting at all.

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  182. Noevangelical,

    “Some of what has come to light looks a lot like a crime to me.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    so what happens next? when it is suspected that a crime has been committed in the (recent) past? as opposed to in the moment when 911 is called and police come to arrest in the moment?

    if 911 is to alert law enforcement for in-the-moment crime situations, who do you call to alert law enforcement for past crime situations?

    (my life’s been a quiet one, where these things are concerned)

    anybody know?

    (or maybe everybody knows except me… wouldn’t be the first time)

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  183. elastigirl,

    If I remember correctly having read this, the thing that allowed law enforcement to catch up with Al Capone was “tax evasion”.

    That might be the place for present-day law enforcement to start in situations like HBC. There seems to be abundant evidence of expenditures which should have been reported as income to the beneficiary of those expenditures but which were, it appears, “laundered” as deductible expenses of the tax-exempt enterprise.

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  184. Samuel Conner,

    what about donations being used for purposes other than the stated ones? where clearly the donors were misled? what about surreptitious secret accounts that no donor would have wanted their money to go to?

    i’m guessing this is called fraud.

    (yes, i’ve lived a boring life where crime is concerned. just can’t find the time to commit a crime.)

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  185. Mary: I am standing on the side of God’s laws of Colossians 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
    And I also stand on the side of man’s law which says, “Innocent until proven guilty”-and that does not include the courts of public opinion.

    ***
    While I love the verses you quoted about showing compassion and kindness to others, and it is something I try to live by, it is also very important to keep “balanced” in our approach to Scripture. So keep in mind that the same apostle Paul who wrote the above also says the following: “In the last days people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive… have NOTHING to do with them!” (1 Tim.3:1-9)

    BTW Mary and Mary27 are two different people! 🙂

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  186. elastigirl,

    Years ago I recall a situation where my brother and his family with small children were caught up in a cult like group. They were all living in a small bedroom of a farm house and sharing facilities with the entire group. 5 people in one tiny room.

    The State Attorney Generals office was called (by me) and tipped off to this group which seemed to be exploiting the family. When the authorities showed up to do a welfare check, the leaders scattered and the thing was dissolved rather quickly.

    All it took was a phone call to the secular authorities for something to happen. Now maybe that call has been placed and this group is already under investigation. I seem to recall that the FBI takes an interest in cases related to large sums of money and fraud, as well as the IRS and state department of revenue.

    I think the States Attorney General’s Office is the place to start with a church like HBC.

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  187. elastigirl,

    In the Twitterverse (I merely observe) I have seen several reports of individual former Harvest members claiming to have filed a complaint with the FBI and State’s Attorney General. I do not recall ever seeing any reports of anyone being contacted by authorities in response.

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  188. Samuel Conner: Then it was brought out as a teaching topic in order, seemingly, to incentivize the giving of the flock, on the theory that if the church budget suffered, ministries would be curtailed and that would prevent people from being rescued from the lake of fire…

    …And Then GOD! WILL! HOLD! YOU! ACCOUNTABLE! FOR! THEM!
    (Been there, got the T-shirt; American Life League telemarketers tried that on me almost word-for-word during the Bork Nomination.)

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  189. Max: (1) They are unbelievers. Not everyone that goes to church is the Church. They are inoculated with just enough religion by “these characters” to keep them from getting the real thing. They have substituted an idol for Jesus. To them, Heaven shouts “Repent and believe!”

    (2) They are believers. But, they prefer an exciting church experience that comes with following “these characters” … cool bands, talented praise teams, espresso coffee in the foyer, “relevant” sermons, etc. They have left their first love, Jesus. To them, Heaven shouts “Repent or else!”

    (3) New believers who came to know God through the cultic church. That one can take a little time to work through.

    (4) Believers that were members before the church went cult, frogs in a pot of water that slowly got increasingly hotter.

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  190. BL: (3) New believers who came to know God through the cultic church. That one can take a little time to work through.

    Scripture sounds a clear warning to those who become a “stumbling block” to weaker brothers (new Christians) … they are vulnerable in their new faith … JMac became a huge stumbling block in his cult of personality, causing confusion and disillusionment among HBC members when he fell, especially new believers … Scriptures says “Woe to you!”

    BL: (4) Believers that were members before the church went cult, frogs in a pot of water that slowly got increasingly hotter.

    HBC = MacDonald … there was never a time that it wasn’t a cult of personality … believers who migrated there from other churches were frogs that should have never been in that pot. If they were drawn there by JMac’s charismatic persona, cool band, praise team in tight pants, superb audio/visuals, espresso coffee, “culturally-relevant” sermons, etc., they need to repent!

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  191. Max:
    From Ross’ statement:“… irrational and ugly temperament of angry outbursts … criticize unfairly others, calling them idiots, stupid … anger, guilt and shame that James heaped on people … pushing me and yelling … James didn’t let up until he felt like it …”

    MacDonald put a whole new spin on “Total Depravity” that even his New Calvinist buddies would cringe at!He apparently hung out too long with his bud Driscoll and learned only one way to manage people – by manipulation, intimidation, and domination.If this guy emerges following his “sabbatical” to launch a new ministry, he would be right to call his followers idiots and stupid.

    You just reminded me of that mega church “pastor” who called his critics “narcissistic zeros”.

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  192. Headless Unicorn Guy: …And Then GOD! WILL! HOLD! YOU! ACCOUNTABLE! FOR! THEM!

    In my experience, the appeal has been more on the basis of the hearers’ compassion than their fear of an unfavorable divine eschatological word. Of course, that works best in churches with a “free will” style theology.

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  193. Mary27: “In the last days people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive… have NOTHING to do with them!” (1 Tim.3:1-9)

    I suppose that one could take some rueful ‘encouragement’ (if that’s the right word) that the present-day churches are providing some evidence of Paul’s skill as a prophet.

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  194. __

    Basket Case Break Through :“Tainted Religion?”

    hmmm…

    Dangerous emerging 501c3 religious ‘repeate’ market offerings?

    huh?

    This ain’t no social crisis, just another tricky day for illustrious James MacDonald. He’ll break through. He’ll be back. His insanity will once again cut you like a proverbial knife…

    What?

    You better run for your spiritual life…

    ;~)


    Intermission:
    Emilia Burek – “Ain’t Nobody Loves Me Better?” (Chaka Khan studio cover)
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wZvPZge5TPg

    – –

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  195. Mary27: “In the last days people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive… have NOTHING to do with them!” (1 Tim.3:1-9)

    Sadly, Paul probably knew there would be some who called themselves “pastors” in that bunch. The fact that there are followers of such characters who rally to their side when the real man is exposed – ignoring Paul’s warning – is another indication that we are in the last days. Paul told Timothy, if he was alive when he saw such things, to do the work of an evangelist … we need to get busy folks!

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  196. Noevangelical: When the authorities showed up to do a welfare check, the leaders scattered and the thing was dissolved rather quickly.
    All it took was a phone call to the secular authorities…

    It may be that MacDonald – effectively – placed his own call to the authorities, by deciding to sue his critics and their wives. As soon as he discovered what he’d done – expose himself to a legal system that was not his poodle – he dropped the lawsuit and ran. Though I realise that this isn’t the same thing as the FBI investigating his business for criminal activity.

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  197. Nick Bulbeck: It may be that MacDonald – effectively – placed his own call to the authorities, by deciding to sue his critics and their wives. As soon as he discovered what he’d done – expose himself to a legal system that was not his poodle – he dropped the lawsuit and ran.

    JMac undoubtedly has deep regrets for suing those folks. It opened up the HBC can of worms for the world to take a look at, eventually leading to his downfall – the beginning of the end.

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  198. BL,

    (3) New believers who came to know God through the cultic church. That one can take a little time to work through.
    ++++++++++++++++++

    i observe people finding God in the least likely of places. in spite of it all.

    God doesn’t need anyone or anything.

    it’s an honor to be used by God. and i think the whole point is for God and us to do this together, working together, our abilities and talents and skills and voice joined with his superability. Partners.

    but God does things without human vessels, too.

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  199. elastigirl,

    i mean, if someone is reaching out to God, opening themselves up to God, God can perfectly well bypass the schmuck-pastor-posers in the room (or the well-intentioned but off-track clerics / facilitors) and connect with the person.

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  200. elastigirl: i think the whole point is for God and us to do this together, working together, our abilities and talents and skills and voice joined with his superability. Partners.

    Yes. Henry Blackaby used to say “Look for where God is working and join Him there.”

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  201. Nick Bulbeck,

    I still cannot help but see it as part of the same game. MacDonald has an obvious hatred for God and his people, and what better way to cast his final dagger into that thing called christianity than to go out with a scandal that is ‘so big’ that it casts a dark shadow upon the whole institution. I think his hatred and viciousness are that great. And there is no way he – and all of his advisers – were too shortsighted or ignorant to know that filing a lawsuit would lead to a demand for open books and open records. That’s just my own private little theory.

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  202. Another question that I have pondered. At the start of all this, educating myself on who this MacDonald character was, I read that he had cancer. Was he cured? Or does he know his time is limited, and is that a factor in what has played out? Just wondering, as I am wont to do when there are things that do not add up in my mind.

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  203. Max,

    “Henry Blackaby used to say “Look for where God is working and join Him there.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    it’s been a while since i did that study, but in my memory the point of it seemed to be to somehow find where God happened to be active, and then give up what you wanted to do or be doing and shift your focus to that.

    (extremely impractical. we’ll never have any goals or get anything done because we’re always looking elsewhere for some nebulous something to focus on — the assumption is that God couldn’t possibly be interested in what we think & what we choose to do, what matters to us in our sphere.)

    i thought then, and i think now, that it’s the reverse.

    i think God respects us and our minds, our feelings, our likes/dislikes, our interests, our activities, our decisions very much and is eagerly waiting for us to invite him to join us in what we’re doing.

    in the same way that we find it fun & rewarding to work on something together with a good friend, being in sync, pulling together in the same way at the same time, and enjoying the camaraderie in the process. and relationship-building something like that is.

    i think God is just itching to work together with us. on something. anything. let alone things of signnificance.

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  204. Nick Bulbeck: Samuel Conner: In my experience, the way this has been explained (by the teachers, of course) is that the “higher standard for teachers” is future (i.e., “day of judgment”) stricter accountability before God for the teacher.

    Which kind of proves that they don’t really believe in any kind of future accounting at all.

    Exactly.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I think if Jesus suddenly appeared beside most pastors as they are preaching in the pulpit, they would drop dead of shock that he’s actually real.

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  205. “I think if Jesus suddenly appeared beside most pastors as they are preaching in the pulpit, they would drop dead of shock that he’s actually real.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    ha

    and those who remained alive would be heard saying, “Well, what about me?!?!?”

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  206. Noevangelical,

    “And then when the time was right, I went on scouting trips looking for the truth at “the churches of the enemy”. These were places where the heathen were gathered, who just “played at church” as I was told. Turns out that the evangelicals I had been with did not know what they were talking about.

    On my scouting trips I found churches that had more Bible and more worship packed into a shorter service than any “Bible church” I had ever been to. Who would have thought?”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    thanks for the interaction, Noevangelical.

    i haven’t been to a church in some years now. too many years in 1st Church of Dysfunction, which merged with 2nd Church of dysfunction. couldn’t do it anymore.

    then after a year or so i reassembled my crumbled self and we found a good and honest church. but the cognitive dissonance became too much. i don’t think they could see how manipulative, gender discriminating, and exploitative of volunteers their church practices were.

    well, these are simply standard church practices in the evangelical industry these days.

    in fact, this is Evangelicalism’s “Gospel” mutation: the good news of how to manipulate, discriminate, and exploit people. and allowing yourself to embrace it means you’re acting in faith and pleasing God. you’re a “Gospel-Christian”, instead of just one of those regular ones.

    what a cock o’ shi…. i’ll spare you.

    so, yes, i haven’t darkened a church door in a few years now, and whatdyaknow the sky didn’t fall!

    in fact, God and I are really quite close. i’m very productive spiritually, much more relaxed, have time for people outside the insitution…

    i mean, no one really needs the middle man managing their faith and spirituality for them. we’re responsible adults, for squid’s sake.

    but i do have a question: what are these “churches of the enemy” that you were warned about?

    don’t think i’ll go, but curious all the same.

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  207. TS00,

    elastigirl,

    I like the way you view God and life. So simple and beautiful.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    hi, TSOO.

    well, i suppose it’s kind of like spending years in self-help groups (kind of what church is) that demanded all your time, work, and guilted your money from you in order to connect with God.

    and then finally slowing down to take in the sunset… and “God! You were right here, all along.”

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  208. elastigirl: i think God respects us and our minds, our feelings, our likes/dislikes, our interests, our activities, our decisions very much and is eagerly waiting for us to invite him to join us in what we’re doing.
    in the same way that we find it fun & rewarding to work on something together with a good friend, being in sync, pulling together in the same way at the same time, and enjoying the camaraderie in the process. and relationship-building something like that is.

    I used to feel this way. Then I had a couple of terrible church experiences and a few serious losses, of various kinds, of people with whom I had that camaraderie, and I was suddenly at an isolated point without anyone to pull with. And sadly, it became hard to feel that God was there, either. Suddenly it felt like a joke that a person with whom you cannot have eye contact, a hand to hold, conversation, humorous banter, a literal hand up when you fall, or specific explanations can be a personal, loving partner of any real sort.

    I don’t believe God ever intended to be anyone’s sole social life…look at how he called Adam alone, said it was not good, and created a suitable partner when Adam already had God, in Eden, without any separation of sin. So I take it that means we have the power to really make each other suffer. And with that much power handed over to the malicious, the ignorant, the imperfect, and the limited, at least some of us are in trouble, aren’t we? Especially the ones who aren’t charming, talented, or powerful enough to have a backlog of eager human supporters.

    I think that explains a couple of things. Like, why scripture emphasizes protecting and caring for widows and orphans. And why it’s attractive to be a bad pastor. But I don’t understand those who say they are emotionally content with only God but have loving family, available friends, respectful colleagues, work to do, money to buy additional human aid and comfort, trusted law and order. (I’m not speaking of anyone in particular.)

    I don’t think we can get the idea from scripture or experience that God will jump in to meet every need. It’s pretty ludicrous, really. No one expects God to spoon a magically produced dinner into their mouth. Dinner relies on a lot of humans. Human life and well being depends on other humans; they’re not dependable; and God does not intend to regularly fill the gap.

    Maybe life, health, sanity, and happiness are overrated? Maybe this life doesn’t matter? Maybe our actions matter way more than we dreamed? Maybe church is about quieting the sheep while somebody fleeces them? Maybe those in trouble and pain just aren’t exercising sufficient faith? It’s easy to see where various theologies spin out from such questions.

    Fitting together faith, disillusionment, evil in the world, and human interactions without church are common themes here, so I wonder what you think.

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  209. elastigirl: it’s been a while since i did that study, but in my memory the point of it seemed to be to somehow find where God happened to be active, and then give up what you wanted to do or be doing and shift your focus to that.

    (extremely impractical. we’ll never have any goals or get anything done because we’re always looking elsewhere for some nebulous something to focus on — the assumption is that God couldn’t possibly be interested in what we think & what we choose to do, what matters to us in our sphere.)

    i thought then, and i think now, that it’s the reverse.

    i think God respects us and our minds, our feelings, our likes/dislikes, our interests, our activities, our decisions very much and is eagerly waiting for us to invite him to join us in what we’re doing.

    in the same way that we find it fun & rewarding to work on something together with a good friend, being in sync, pulling together in the same way at the same time, and enjoying the camaraderie in the process. and relationship-building something like that is.

    i think God is just itching to work together with us. on something. anything. let alone things of signnificance.

    Like this. Like you, I was brought up thinking the former, that there was some sort of ‘God thing’ I needed to be seeking for. Only now I am I beginning to understand that God created each of us to be unique, and to be creative. He doesn’t want a bunch of soldiers in dress uniform, he delights in who we are, what we create, what we delight in. He wants to walk with us on that path.

    You just seem to be further along in understanding that than most. Instead of church I’d like to go to your retreat center, and talk about how to love life and make God smile. Sort of an antidote to those ‘How to find God’s will for your life’ things that started in junior high.

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  210. TS00,

    “Instead of church I’d like to go to your retreat center, and talk about how to love life and make God smile.”
    +++++++++++++

    ha – you’re cute! my retreat center…. well, that would be table in a dark corner at a place with live music, with an assortment of beverages and snacks that have to include cheese, olives, and chocolate. and a couple cigars. and a candle. we’ll talk til they start mopping the floor.

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  211. elastigirl,

    It is nice to talk with you as well.
    I was trained not to look to “mainline protestant churches” for any kind of spiritual life because these were just chocked full o’ false Christians. We had books full of facts on false religions, fake churches, dangerous groups, and the like. So anything that was not a fundamentalist Bible church was the church of the enemy.

    When we got involved for a short time in the house church movement, I was warned that we were playing with fire and that it would not end well. We needed big brother and would soon learn to love him, so there was no need to try to discover the mythical idea of 1st century gatherings or worship. That was a chimera.

    But like you, I soon learned that what they were accusing other people of they were busy practicing themselves. I even went so far as to put fake covers on the “subversive” books I was reading, just in case someone from our church popped in for a visit and saw the volume on my reading table. I supposed their eyes would have melted had they flipped trough the pages, and I would have been quickly brought up on charges. As it turned out, I did not escape charges anyway.

    We landed in a small LCMS church in a small town that we commute to. We fit with this group. We also live in a rural area, so there are not too many people around. Ideally I would like to meet with a small group in someone’s home, but that’s just not where we are right now. Maybe some day.

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  212. SiteSeer: $15,000 to $20,000 to shoot a sable. Honestly. What foolishness.

    Sable as in African Antelope or two-foot Siberian mustelid?

    Either way, he wasn’t the only con man in the mix. The canned safari organizer managed to separate him from that 15-20 Grand. One must keep up with Great White Hunter Paige Patterson — he’s got a whole WALL full of taxidermied trophies and another of Great White Hunter photos!

    I know a couple of REAL hunters. One from Arizona, one from the Dakotas. Basic North American game the both of them, though at least one is very knowledgeable of Big Game lore. They would consider PPat and JMac as the worst kind of Posers.

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  213. besred,

    besred,

    thanks for the interaction.

    i’m so sorry for the painful circumstances. it just sucks. i’ve had a share of physical pain and emotional/relational pain, and the latter is harder to bear.

    1. when i said, “in the same way that we find it fun & rewarding to work on something together with a good friend, being in sync, pulling together in the same way at the same time, and enjoying the camaraderie in the process. and relationship-building something like that is”…..

    i was describing God (or how I understand God).

    here’s another example.

    did you ever see “Chariots Of Fire”? i was a young kid the first time my parents took our family to see it. (i so wanted to see Raiders of the Lost Ark for the second time instead of this oh-so-serious film, but i obliged).

    i appreciate it much more in my full-fledged adulthood. Here’s a great line: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”–Eric Liddell, who went on to win a gold medal at the olympics.

    doing what we were made to do (athletics, creativity, science, math, communication, nurturing, etc),

    doing what we simply gotta do (cook a meal, laundry, fix the toilet, take care of a car, care for a family member),

    doing what we just want to do (read a book, take a walk, go on a vacation, go out for breakfast, hang out with friends, learn a musical instrument or a craft or a new sport)…

    …i think God takes pleasure in joining us in all these things. working together, solving problems together, learning something together, relaxing and having fun together.

    indeed, i think God helps us do all these things better, simply by the fact that God is part of the process.

    God is part of the process when we welcome God in. To welcome God in is as simple as turning one’s face to the sun’s warmth and light. it’s totally unnecessary to go through whatever steps and procedures the christian guru says you must do in order to curry favor and connect with God.

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  214. Max: Sadly, Paul probably knew there would be some who called themselves “pastors” in that bunch.

    Remember the Didache? Circa 2nd Century AD if not earlier?
    A full THIRD of it is on how to spot phonies and con men in the pulpit.

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  215. Max: HBC = MacDonald … there was never a time that it wasn’t a cult of personality …

    And Cults of Personality rarely outlive their Founding Personality.
    It requires more than One Charismatic Founder for a movement to have staying power.

    Few Joseph Smiths have a successor like Brigham Young who could find or create that “more” and create a self-sustaining system.

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  216. elastigirl: what bugs me SO MUCH about the currents running through christian culture these days is how negative it is. the focus is on everything “I” have to be so careful to avoid, and so careful to make sure “I” do. increasingly more and more. so much pressure. so complicated.

    As Slacktivist put it in his analysis of Kirk Cameron:
    “Catechized to see Holiness in primarily NEGATIVE terms,” one long list of Thou Shalt Nots.
    That way lies madness (or at least neurosis, of which KC is a type example).

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  217. besred,

    “Suddenly it felt like a joke that a person with whom you cannot have eye contact, a hand to hold, conversation, humorous banter, a literal hand up when you fall, or specific explanations can be a personal, loving partner of any real sort.

    I don’t believe God ever intended to be anyone’s sole social life”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    2. i totally agree. i’ve had desperately lonely seasons where i was longing, yearning, aching for God with skin on. God, i need a hand to hold! Somebody to hug me! i remember driving in my car from here to there, and laying my open hand on the empty passenger’s seat and saying, “please hold my hand, God.”

    eh, maybe God did.

    over time i built some healthy relationships, with no choice but to face some very frightening vulnerability along the way.

    whadyaknow, the sky didn’t fall, and i made it though. journeying onward to being able to more and more receive love and give love. and feel the fun and relaxation of it that you see in beer commercials. 🙂

    but now i’m monologuing….

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  218. besred,

    3. “But I don’t understand those who say they are emotionally content with only God but have loving family, available friends, respectful colleagues, work to do, money to buy additional human aid and comfort, trusted law and order. (I’m not speaking of anyone in particular.)”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    no one is emotionally content with just God.

    it’s quite a nice claim to make. (perhaps a spiritual claim to fame)

    it’s quite a nice ideal to champion into the mic from the front of the church. or in the dumb book someone writes in order to fulfill their publishing contract.

    anyone who says they are emotionally content with just God is pretending. and not realizing that all the while they make such claims they are busy cultivating multiple sources of comfort in their lives. whether a tasty meal, a pleasant beverage, a good book to read, a good film to watch, a lingering shower followed by a favorite bathrobe, gardening, a loved pet, human relationship,…

    and crickets of all kinds to the bedrooms and persons of those who tell others (no matter how indirectly) that comforts other than God are unspiritual, ungodly, unGospelly, disappointing to God, what a faith loser does….

    comfort gets us through the challenges of each day.

    i remember an experiment done with baby monkeys. they were kept apart, all variables the same, including a substitute parent in the form of a life-size flat metal monkey-shaped figure. i believe the food came through this monkey figure. for monkey A the figure was just the metal. for monkey B the figure was covered with something soft (maybe something carpet-like, or fur-like). monkey A died. monkey b thrived.

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  219. besred,

    “Maybe life, health, sanity, and happiness are overrated? Maybe this life doesn’t matter? Maybe our actions matter way more than we dreamed? Maybe church is about quieting the sheep while somebody fleeces them? Maybe those in trouble and pain just aren’t exercising sufficient faith? It’s easy to see where various theologies spin out from such questions.

    Fitting together faith, disillusionment, evil in the world, and human interactions without church are common themes here, so I wonder what you think.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    my anti-theologies:

    4. life, health, sanity and happiness are awesome and good and right. life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are indeed inalienable rights.

    5. this life does matter.

    at one time i was on a course of living life on principle, denying self. the end result: i would be on my deathbed, and as i took stock of my life there would be a moment of satisfaction: “I did it. I held true to principle.”

    followed by what would haunt and linger: “was i happy? no.”

    what is the point of living life on principle at the expense of happiness?

    this life matters very much. rigid, unyielding, unmodifiable principles make it an either-or proposition.

    6. our actions matter, but no need to over-analyze ourselves. no need to take ourselves so seriously.

    7. a church environment can’t help but be at least a little manipulative and cultish.

    8. trouble and pain rain down on us all. we do our best.

    did i miss anything? i appreciate the interaction, besred, and wanted do justice in my response.

    …but there’s been too much of me here, so over & out.

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  220. Headless Unicorn Guy: Remember the Didache? Circa 2nd Century AD if not earlier?
    A full THIRD of it is on how to spot phonies and con men in the pulpit.

    Yes, as I recall, the Didache offered some guidelines on how to distinguish the counterfeit vs. the genuine in the pulpit, those deserving support vs. those who were out to exploit church communities. The 21st century pew would do well to bone up on that!

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  221. elastigirl: my retreat center…. well, that would be table in a dark corner at a place with live music, with an assortment of beverages and snacks that have to include cheese, olives, and chocolate. and a couple cigars. and a candle. we’ll talk til they start mopping the floor.

    Sounds perfect!

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  222. Song of Joy: It seems like James MacDonald is a legend and a superman in his own raving, deluded mind and empty soul.

    As was said about one character in local fandom:
    “A Legend in his own mind, a bad joke in everybody else’s.”

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  223. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    I different line of discussion..
    I for one, use to put some “faith” in the “Evangelical Council for Finacial Acountabilty”….I have NO RESPECT for them now..
    Maybe they think it is OK to have “black accounts” running over $10,000 amonth…. I for one, do NOT think it is “OK”….
    I note that they have now “pulled their approval”……. This is classic close the barn door after the horse is our..
    NO,they are suppose to tell us that something is wrong finacially, not the other way around…
    Financial abuse and other abuse go hand in hand..

    Harvest Bible Chapel’s Black Fund was 20% of the general fund. 20%! That’s ~ $800,000 per month not $10,000. The Black Fund was used almost exclusively to pay for the top 20 executives comp plus tons of perks. That’s nearly a half a million dollars for each of the top twenty. Most metas don’t even have 20 executives (which at Harvest included two full time lawyers for in-house counsel).

    The $10,000 you’re thinking about isn’t $10,000. It was actually 1% of tithe donations James was gifted as “mad money”. That means he got between $300,000 to $360,000 a year for his T&E. That’s $25K to $30K a month James had just for funsies. Much of this appears to have been paid for on credit.

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  224. TS00,

    You may be right. I suppose there are at least two possibilities here:

     MacDonald staged his own exit and ordered his puppets to “fire” him because he fancied playing the martyr, and starting a new business that way. Or some variation on that theme
     MacDonald was so spoilt from being surrounded by yes-men that he really didn’t believe anyone, judges included, would refuse to indulge him

    Who knows…

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  225. On the plus side, we had a decent session at the climbing wall last night. AWWBA, we’ve not managed to climb much in March what with early starts, new jobs and flu, so we’re still trying to build up some fitness. Still on-sighted a 6b, though.

    Also, Fulham’s defeat away to Watford means they are relegated with 5 games still to play. Huddersfield were relegated with 6 games to play. The final relegation spot won’t be decided for several more matches at least.

    Also, my daughter just stormed Hyrule Castle, and defeated both Calamity Ganon and Beast Ganon, at the first attempt.

    IHTIH

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  226. Max: Lots of ECFA members have been terminated, suspended, or “resigned” in the last two years (HBC is on the list as suspended): https://www.ecfa.org/FormerMembers.aspx

    If you read those lists carefully you’ll see that all those terminations are for failure of the company to complete their renewal (ie, they didn’t send in the check and the form) or because the corp dissolved or because the corp merged with a non-ECFA member. Not because the members were in violation of any standards.

    Over the last several years only TWO members been kicked out for failure to uphold ECFA’s Seven Standards. One of those two was GFA who is in the throes of a massive civil RICO case. It was only the publicity that caused ECFA to finally react. After that case is finalized ECFA has already said GFA can reapply.

    ECFA uses the “honor system”. Their form asks if the member is upholding the Seven Standards. The client checks yes and that’s that. Some of the most abusive wealthy televangelists are ECFA members, demonstrating that the ECFA seal of approval isn’t worth the paper it’s written on that ECFA member Joyce Meyer has her staff use to polish her donation funded $23,000 gold commode.

    ECFA is basically a trade association. It’s designed to help the members who pay the ECFA fees so they can collect more donations. ECFA was contacted multiple times about violations at Harvest Bible Chapel yet ECFA gave Harvest a clean bill after ECFA’s on-site review. It was only the ongoing bad press that caused this ECFA to finally temporarily suspend HBC. If Harvest were to survive, they will get reinstated quickly. ECFA is useless. The government needs to step up. They have on psychics abusing trust for personal enrichment. It’s time to expand that.

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  227. Amy Moore: ECFA uses the “honor system”. Their form asks if the member is upholding the Seven Standards. The client checks yes and that’s that.

    OK, let me see if I have this right. HBC elders could not hold MacDonald accountable because he controlled them. HBC congregation could not hold MacDonald accountable because the church was elder-rule (but not really, it was MacDonald-rule). ECFA could not hold MacDonald accountable because they relied on an “honor system” and we all know that MacDonald was not honorable. Soooo … have we learned any lessons yet about mega-mania? There is no accountability!!

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  228. Max,

    ‘Your problem is that you refuse to submit to your God-given authority. Trust and obey, and don’t concern your peon mind with the details.’

    This is what I heard for years. I don’t have to answer to God for the sin and evil that may occur – my only responsibility is to humbly submit to authority. And put my money in the plate. Or to paraphrase Paige Patterson, ‘Just kneel by the bed of your abuser and pray that he won’t hit you too hard next time. Who knows, a few more black eyes and you may win him to Christ.’

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  229. Amy Moore: Harvest Bible Chapel’s Black Fund was 20% of the general fund. 20%! That’s ~ $800,000 per month not $10,000. The Black Fund was used almost exclusively to pay for the top 20 executives comp plus tons of perks. That’s nearly a half a million dollars for each of the top twenty. Most metas don’t even have 20 executives (which at Harvest included two full time lawyers for in-house counsel).

    The $10,000 you’re thinking about isn’t $10,000. It was actually 1% of tithe donations James was gifted as “mad money”. That means he got between $300,000 to $360,000 a year for his T&E. That’s $25K to $30K a month James had just for funsies. Much of this appears to have been paid for on credit.

    What do you mean, it was paid for on credit?

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  230. besred: Suddenly it felt like a joke that a person with whom you cannot have eye contact, a hand to hold, conversation, humorous banter, a literal hand up when you fall, or specific explanations can be a personal, loving partner of any real sort.

    I’m with you on that, 100%.

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  231. “Peter predicted, 2 Pet. 2:13, that there would be godless bishops, who would abuse the alms of the Church for luxury and neglect the ministry. Therefore [since the Holy Spirit in that connection utters dire threats] let those who defraud the Church know that they will pay God the penalty for this crime. ” ~ From The Book Of Concord, Treatise On The Power And Primacy Of The Pope, Online Edition

    As I was reading this morning and got to this point, I was instantly reminded of what I have been reading here regarding JM & HBC. God warns us against taking vengeance into our own hands, but at the same time we also have a responsibility to exercise discernment, fulfill our duties to watch for men like this and warn others regarding their activities against the church and against Christ, and to be a ready help to those souls who have their faith damaged by such men.

    God may indeed punish these men temporally, through the legal system and the courts. I hope that happens. And we can be sure that unless they are redeemed they will be punished eternally. I know we are supposed to pray for them, that they repent and that Christ saves them, but…. this is difficult.

    I appreciate the exposing of this church, and being able to recall similar behavior in some of the churches I have been part of in the past, although on a much smaller scale. The amounts of money are shocking to me. To have access to enough pocket change to exceed the median wage in the US in just 2 months time is just unreal to me. Definitely not the world I live in.

    I would just like to reiterate to the people of HBC that are wounded and wandering that there are groups of fellow believers who will not do this to you, who will care for you and about you, and who will help to build you up and not tear you down. This forum is one such place. There are others in your community. You probably work with some of these people but don’t even know it, partly because you have been trained to ignore them or dismiss them as irrelevant or “not on your team.”

    Self examination now would be helpful. Being around others who have gone through this before is also a good thing. You will find many of those people here. Information is not bad, you need to know the truth. Use this as an opportunity to re-calibrate yourself. Resist the urge to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The people that did this represent a small percentage of evil people who have invaded the church, they are not the definition of “Christianity”.

    Above all look to Christ, His cross, and the empty tomb. That is where your faith belongs. It does not require money, church work, or anything you can do.
    Peace

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  232. TS00: This is what I heard for years. I don’t have to answer to God for the sin and evil that may occur – my only responsibility is to humbly submit to authority.

    I had a recent conversation with a man I formerly attended church with. It was a traditional SBC church which had been taken over by a young New Calvinist pastor who had lied his way past the search committee about his exact theological leaning. The young man and his band of hand-picked “elders” no older than himself had moved in by stealth and deception and had successfully eliminated most of the long-time traditional (non-Calvinist) members – a church split had incurred. I asked this friend why he was still there and if he was giving to support the church. He said that he didn’t like what was going on, didn’t agree with the theology being proclaimed nor the heavy-handed way of dealing with church members … but that he was still tithing there. He said that he figured God would hold these new church leaders accountable, not him. I reminded him that God would hold ‘him’ accountable for supporting a theological belief and practice that he didn’t agree with, as well as the band of young rebels who had run roughshod over God’s people … a thought that had not occurred to him. He had bought the lie that he was to be accountable to whoever was in the pulpit even if it was an illegitimate authority.

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  233. Max: He had bought the lie that he was to be accountable to whoever was in the pulpit even if it was an illegitimate authority.

    The key to deception and abuse by false authorities in every arena of life. It is not merely false religious leaders who have asserted themselves as rulers to whom all must submit, but the same is true of the false priests of science, politics and culture. We remain slaves as long as we submit unquestioningly to illegitimate authority.

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  234. elastigirl,

    p.s. I wondered why you were apologizing for monologuing and realized the way I tagged the thing, it probably looked like I was questioning you specifically. I meant a general question, not to put you on the spot, and I did love reading your comments.

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  235. TS00: We remain slaves as long as we submit unquestioningly

    In churches with elder-rule governance, without congregational meetings, there is no avenue for the pew to question. Oh, they can ask an elder about something, but it usually puts them on a watch list. On the other hand, I’ve been in contentious congregational church sessions where unspiritual members were fussing and screaming to get their way – and usually got it. Young men raised in such environments, who aspire to ministry, were probably glad to join the New Calvinist movement and be set free of congregational influence under elder-rule polity of the new reformation. The institutional church is in such a mess on so many fronts. Come Lord Jesus!

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  236. besred,

    “p.s. I wondered why you were apologizing for monologuing and realized the way I tagged the thing, it probably looked like I was questioning you specifically. I meant a general question, not to put you on the spot, and I did love reading your comments.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    nah, didn’t feel on the spot. i took it as general questions. i love to think out loud. i’m just conscious of the fact that i may be liberal on the point where i think i’ve gone on long enough.

    (let’s just say when i’ve reached that point i realize my husband fell asleep a while ago)

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  237. Max,

    ” Oh, they can ask an elder about something, but it usually puts them on a watch list.”

    Oh yeah…. Start asking about how the church is being run and why decisions are being made, or why the “Bible church” doesn’t follow the actual Bible and see what happens. I just loved it when they held the Bible up with one hand and pledged allegiance to it, but then went on to ignore specific commands and anything that they didn’t like.

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  238. Noevangelical: Start asking about how the church is being run and why decisions are being made, or why the “Bible church” doesn’t follow the actual Bible and see what happens

    Beware of small groups with leaders hand-picked by the pastor … they are watching your every move. The New Calvinists call them “LifeGroups” at church plants in my area … church members are corralled into weekly meetings in groups of a dozen or so under the guise of a “Bible Study.” But the leaders are usually not knowledgeable enough of Scripture to teach, so they become social times primarily and an avenue for the leader to monitor members and report back to the pastor about possible dissenters.

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  239. Max,

    During my previous life as an evangelical, I was involved in a variety of groups: small home bible studies, caring & sharing groups, adult bible fellowships, men’s bible studies, & couples bible studies both as a participant and as a leader. And the house church, which was a thing all by itself. Most were ok, but participation in them was expected. If you weren’t in one, you were questioned and relentlessly invited until you relented. If you were new, then you were introduced to a leader and invited before the new member smell wore off. Usually after you attended your second service. It was all part of the deal.

    I thought I made some pretty good friendships through them at the time. We had good times, we thought we were growing (which was the goal) and I actually miss some of those studies. However….

    As of today I only have one real friend from that time. Everyone else dropped me like a hot potatoe (Quail spelling) Even though there was a great amount of empathy and love shared during these meetings, none of it was lasting. I think that says something about evangelicalism in general. IF you “in” you are in. If you are “out”, well… too bad for you.

    When we left the last church, all communication ceased. I thought these people were my friends. But no. People who have left WC & HBC have probably had similar experiences. I have read about them in other places with other churches also. Thankfully no one has ever pursued us with bad intentions to the next church, that I know of anyway. Those kind of stories really bother me.

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if HBC was like this. As long as you go along to get along, then your church life will be fine. But as soon as you become the boat rocker, question things, or think for yourself, then watch out.

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  240. Noevangelical: When we left the last church, all communication ceased. I thought these people were my friends. But no. People who have left WC & HBC have probably had similar experiences … as soon as you become the boat rocker, question things, or think for yourself, then watch out.

    Church is voluntary, regardless of what church leaders tell you. It is common – and unChristian, IMO – for members who choose to voluntarily leave a church for whatever reason to be persistently avoided, ignored, or rejected by church leaders/members once thought to be friends. They won’t look your way or speak to you when you encounter them in the community – high schooler behavior really. It is shunning, pure and simple … an ugly side of religion that ought not to be. When the blind man whom Jesus healed was tossed out of church for giving his simple testimony about being touched by Christ, I’m sure the church leaders avoided him when they crossed paths … but Jesus went looking for him!

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  241. elastigirl: no one is emotionally content with just God.

    it’s quite a nice claim to make. (perhaps a spiritual claim to fame)

    it’s quite a nice ideal to champion into the mic from the front of the church. or in the dumb book someone writes in order to fulfill their publishing contract.

    anyone who says they are emotionally content with just God is pretending. and not realizing that all the while they make such claims they are busy cultivating multiple sources of comfort in their lives. whether a tasty meal, a pleasant beverage, a good book to read, a good film to watch, a lingering shower followed by a favorite bathrobe, gardening, a loved pet, human relationship,…

    and crickets of all kinds to the bedrooms and persons of those who tell others (no matter how indirectly) that comforts other than God are unspiritual, ungodly, unGospelly, disappointing to God, what a faith loser does….

    Pneumatic Gnostics who have become so SPIRITUAL(TM) they have ceased to be human.

    Sometimes it’s a run away from real-life responsibility (“CORBAN!”).

    Other times it’s just Being More Godly Than God.

    As recently as the 19th Century most infectious diseases were inevitably fatal, 60 years was a long life expectancy, nothing was known about germ theory or malnutrition, wounds which healed without infection were deliberately infected because infection was Normal, and it was an Inexorable Law of Nature (along with slavery and the inferiority of women) that two out of three children would die before adulthood from Normal diseases.

    It was only after the Enlightenment and secularization that this changed. Over a thousand years of Prayer and Devotions and Theology and Preparing for Heaven and smelling out Heretics and Witches apparently couldn’t do it. Except to spawn the atheist proverb “Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for life; give a man religion and he’ll starve to death praying for a fish.”

    That is NOT something for Christians to brag about.

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  242. Correction – previous comment should end:

    Being so Spiritual(TM) and Godly(TM) while neglecting Tikkun Olam to an imperfect and damaged world.

    That is NOT something for Christians to brag about.

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  243. I’ve spent my career in corporate real estate management; currently I work for a nonprofit (not a church!) that owns a couple dozen properties.

    Some of you may not realize that the terms on commercial mortgages are not like houses. There’s no fixed rate 15 or 30 year loans. The payments are calculated on a 20-25 yr amortization basis, but the entire principal comes due every so often, typically every 5 years. At that point, the organization essentially has to re-qualify for the loan. If income is down, debt is up or whatever a lender can refuse to renew the loan and if the organization can’t get a loan elsewhere or pay the entire balance, the current lender can foreclose.

    Harvest has 80% of their mortgages coming due in the next 3 years. I’ve looked at these mortgages on public record before, I believe they are all cross-collateralized. In other words Harvest can’t just let one property go unpaid, a default on 1 loan is a default on all the loans.

    In addition, commercial mortgages can have “covenants”, that if violated, put the loan in technical default often triggering a “penalty rate” interest rate increase. A typical covenant might be maintaining a minimum balance of liquid cash/operating funds.

    These mortgages represent the biggest risk to Harvest next to losing their nonprofit status or some kind of legal action, fraud charges etc.

    I am personally very anti debt and debt represents a huge risk to nonprofits who can’t increase revenue the same way a for-profit business can. This is especially true for churches, all of them are just a scandal away from disaster. There’s a reason why the Bible says a debtor is slave to a lender

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  244. BL: (3) New believers who came to know God through the cultic church. That one can take a little time to work through.

    (4) Believers that were members before the church went cult, frogs in a pot of water that slowly got increasingly hotter.

    i.e. Believers who were DECEIVED.

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  245. Danno: I attended Harvest from 2003-2011, and several times I heard James say from the pulpit that Harvest would not accept directed gifts, only donations to the general fund.

    Anyone who lives in a “general fund” state knows what that means.

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  246. Daisy: SiteSeer: These are the kind of qualities that are often valued and promoted in churches. Ask questions and have confidence in your convictions and you may find yourself described as divisive or a troublemaker.

    Yes. And if you are a woman, you will also be accused of trying to usurp a man’s authority, and you will be said to have the “Jezebel spirit,” etc.

    i.e. “WITCHCRAFT! BURN THE WITCHES!”

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