From Bad to Unfathomable Leads Me to a Total Loss of Trust in the Leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel and Christianity Today

 


Is this picture of smoke? Early morning fog? Nope. It is the pollen circling in the air on the main road leading to my street. North Carolina allergies are raging!

“Don’t be afraid to make things up. Never fear being exposed as a fraud. Experts make things up all the time. They’re qualified to. ” Stephen Colbert


 

Let’s start with an answer to the burning question. Ed Stetzer’s VW Beetle cost @ $13,000. How do I know? Julie Roys dug deeper and wrote Contributing Editor for Christianity Today Faces Conflict of Interest Questions After Accepting Car From James MacDonald. She discovered so much more.

James MacDonald: Rolexes and pearls on the church dime. Was Kathy MacDonald in on the scam?

Little did I know that I would kick open a door to a warehouse when I asked about Ed Stetzer’s car and then Pastor Mohan Zachariah’s motorcycle. Roys continued the revelations:

Betsy Corning, wife of former longtime elder board chairman, Dave Corning, told me that in 2008, Harvest honored the couple for 20 years of service with a gift of a Rolex watch and pearls

…Betsy said James MacDonald’s wife, Kathy, had told her that James had bought the gifts with his own money.

The Corning’s left the church and claimed to have sold the items back to the jeweler. They donated the money to ministries outside of their own and HBC.

However, an even more shocking thing occurred when the Cornings asked to see the original purchase receipt from the jeweler. It appears that there were more Rolexes that were purchased. So, who got the other Rolexes? Let this post serve as notice to those who did get the watches that they should return them.

Betsy added that the jeweler allowed the couple to see the receipt for the original purchase. And to the Corning’s surprise, the receipt showed the purchase of four to five additional Rolex watches and named Harvest Bible Chapel as the purchaser.

Does Scott Milholland, Sharon Kostal and HBC Attorney Christopher Nudo have knowledge of these and other purchases? Church members need to demand answers.

The fact that Ed Stetzer and anyone else who got a *gift* from MacDonald could call the church and find out how much it cost and also discover what account it came out of is startling to me. This means that a small (or maybe a large) group of people were in on the game.

I believe that it is time to demand a release of a list of the gifts that MacDonald gave on the church’s dime. It is obvious the information is readily available. How else would Ed Stetzer be able to call the church and find out that the church paid for his Beetle? I hate to use the *f* word but it is appropriate in this situation. *Fraud.* There, I’ve said it. Was there monetary fraud involved in this situation? Or, even worse,…did the church leaders allow these gifts to purchased on the church dime? If so, that should be written somewhere in the bylaws. Folks, its time for a little uprising to demand answers.

I also contacted Harvest Attorney Christopher Nudo. Nudo confirmed that Walk in the Word had purchased the car for Stetzer last spring and that in March, Stetzer had reimbursed the ministry for the full amount of the car, just under $13,000. Nudo said the money for the car had come out of a Walk in the Word reserve account and added that he was 95% sure that former Harvest CFO Scott Milholland had cut the check. Nudo said two other people at Harvest almost certainly would have known about the purchase of the car with Walk in the Word funds—James MacDonald and his assistant, Sharon Kostal, who no longer works for the church.

Are there other larger *gifts* by MacDonald that may need to be explored?

For sure. Here are 4 gifts that have been reported to me by a number of members and former members of HBC. Normally, I would say that it is just so much smoke. This past week has changed my mind. I have the names of all 4 alleged recipients and will attempt to contact them in the next week. If readers have any other suggestions or thoughts, let me know

  • 3 motorcycles
  • 1 house

Also, given the fact that MacDonald family was very involved with HBC/HBF, I would suggest that there be a full accounting of any sort of money or gifts flowing in that direction. Hopefully, everyone will check out as pure as the driven snow.

Christianity Today never returned my call asking about their gift acceptance rules for those affiliated with CT and I am deeply upset.

I plan to write Mark Galli and some members of the Board of Directors. I’ve subscribed to Christianity Today for decades. I used to be excited when I received the magazine because the content ran the gamut from news items to discussions on theology to churches and Christian organizations. I’ve held a deep respect for the magazine, knowing that the idea was conceived by Billy Graham and some of his close associates. I clung to the fact that it didn’t promote a single strain within the broader evangelical community. In other words, I respected the magazine and respected the editors and often defended it to friends.

A couple of years ago, I was told that CT was being pressured by the Neo Calvinist (fondly called Calvinistas) community to become more proactive in presenting those doctrinal views. If they did not comply, this group would form their own magazine and encourage people to follow their tabloid instead. Some of my friends pointed to an increase in articles, etc. focused in that direction. I soundly rejected that rumor as gossip. I claimed that the Calvinistas were in the news and were garnering attention so they deserved to be written about more frequently. But now I wonder if I was wrong.

Obviously, CT does not care about their loyal subscribers or a short phone call back to me would have been made. No, I’m not cancelling my subscription. I still learn much from CT. But, I will never again feel the same way about this publication. They’ve gone the route of sucking up to the establishment and the little guy subscriber is not on their radar.

The other reason I’m upset by CT: Mark Galli and his inappropriate defense of the Stetzer’s acceptance of a car. Ethics in the Christian journalistic community seems a bit lacking.The so called *liberal press* has far better ethics.

Mark Galli was called a *prick* by James MacDonald on the audio posted on this website. Galli, as well as his BFF, Ed Stetzer, were had by MacDonald. Sadly Galli refuses to see how his own ethics have gotten all in a muddle.

Back to Julie Roys article.

Galli claimed there’s just *no story there* in regards to Stetzer acceptance of the car.

What???

Galli wanted to have a private, off the record meeting with Roys and Stetzer.

Roys reported that it would have to be on the record. So the meeting didn’t take place. Now, what would be said in that meeting that could not be said in an open meeting?

Galli claimed that Stetzer doesn’t get money from CT so the car was fine. But, isn’t that a bit of double talk?

Galli later admitted that CT pays the Billy Graham Center a fee for Stetzer’s regular contribution to the media outlet. Also, Stetzer doesn’t just write blogs for CT; he manages one of eight special sections on CT’s website called “The Exchange with Ed Stetzer.”

Galli seemed to overlook the fact that Ed Stetzer helped grease the wheels for MacDonald’s ridiculous OP Ed on why he should sue.

I was shocked when I read that OP Ed. How could this magazine cater to such nonsense unless… the rumors are true?

Stetzer’s close relationship with MacDonald played a role in CT’s recent coverage of the Harvest debacle. Galli told me about a month ago that Stetzer had arranged the October 31st conversation between MacDonald and CT deputy managing editor Jeremy Weber. That conversation resulted in CT publishing MacDonald’s article defending his lawsuit against me and four other defendants, entitled, “Why Suing is Sometimes the Biblical Choice.”

Galli only admitted Stetzer’s role in brining that piece to CT after Roys reminded him that she knew about the audio.

Oh Mark-shame on you.

Galli admitted Stetzer’s role after I told him about a recording I had heard of MacDonald and Weber’s conversation.

Galli inappropriately contacted Roys the day after the audio came out, offering to serve as some sort of reconciler.

It sounds so Christian of him,,. doesn’t it? At that point Roys (and TED and wives) were still being sued by HBC/MacDonald. Galli reached out to the defendants on behalf of the plaintiff. Good night! What was he thinking? No lawyer in his right mind would ever let Roys and the others participate in something like that unless it came through their attorneys.

Where does the leave me?

  • I no longer trust Christianity Today and am saddened by the deteriorating ethics in the Christian journalism business.
  • The next time I hear a story about influence peddling at CT, I will not attempt to defend them. I’ll let them handle it.
  • I now know that Christianity Today doesn’t care about their long term subscribers. We are merely numbers on a page.
  • I believe that there are many more expensive gifts that were paid for by the tithes of faithful church attendees. I recommend that members send their donations to ministries that they know and trust. For example, does HBC support a rescue mission? Send your dollars directly to that mission instead of letting it filter through the HBC system. There could be hands in those pockets.
  • Can anyone help me figure out where those Rolexes went?
  • If you got one of the Rolexes, give it back
  • So, what’s the deal on the house? Is it true?
  • I’m so glad that I’ve never accepted money for what I do. It helps keep me honest.

Finally, I have a suggestion for the next campus that MacDonald takes over. Make no mistake about it, it will happen one day. Build one of these. This way, the new leaders can keep track of the cars being doled out. I bet you could add a Rolexes and pearls sections. Now, a house? Maybe not.


Comments

From Bad to Unfathomable Leads Me to a Total Loss of Trust in the Leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel and Christianity Today — 223 Comments

  1. “A couple of years ago, I was told that CT was being pressured by the Neo Calvinist (fondly called Calvinistas) community to become more proactive in presenting those doctrinal views.” (Dee)

    That would explain why Stetzer showed up as a content contributor, as well as CT’s publication of MacDonald’s un-Biblical view on Christians suing Christians. These men are viewed as “influencers” within the New Calvinist movement. This whole thing stinks.

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  2. “… Stetzer had arranged the October 31st conversation between MacDonald and CT deputy managing editor Jeremy Weber. That conversation resulted in CT publishing MacDonald’s article defending his lawsuit against me and four other defendants, entitled, “Why Suing is Sometimes the Biblical Choice.”” (Julie Roys)

    I wonder if the VW gift earlier in 2018 had anything to do with Stetzer helping MacDonald that way? Does Stetzer ‘really’ believe Christians suing Christians is a Biblical choice?!

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  3. I drive by CarVanna all the time! HBC may want to consider building a similar unit to house all the vehicles that will be returned to them!

    While Greg Gordon’s article has not convinced me to shut up, I could possibly go silent if MacDonald were to purchase me a home on Maui.

    On a serious note. I do not know Mark Galli but have heard he is a good, trustworthy guy. However, this latest story is making me wonder about him. I sincerely hope he has not been tainted by MacDonald.

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  4. Bridget: I’ll say this again. So, a supposed ‘Christian Leader’ isn’t “comfortable meeting on the record” . . . That, unfortunately, says way too much about Ed Stetzer.

    Yep. To a journalist, “meeting off the record” would mean that Ms. Roys could not quote anything from that session even anonymously. Stetzer knows that; he wanted assurance that he would not be quoted. I’ll say this again, this whole thing stinks.

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  5. Political interest group journalism…

    And you say you’ve uncovered questionable (READ: a complete lack of) ethics policies and multiple conflicts of interest?

    COLOR.

    ME.

    SHOCKED.

    Journalism is only journalism when it’s devoid of such adjectives as “Christian”, liberal, conservative, etc.

    I lost trust in businesses like CT long, long ago. Thank you, Dee, for further affirming that personal transition.

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  6. “A couple of years ago, I was told that CT was being pressured by the Neo Calvinist (fondly called Calvinistas) community to become more proactive in presenting those doctrinal views.”

    This would explain a lot. Some of CT’s coverage is so glaringly non-objective that you can see an agenda from a mile away. Basic journalism (getting quotes from two sides of an issue, for example) is not even attempted on certain hot-button stories. I have this memory that the reportage used to be better at CT back in the 80s and 90s.

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  7. It is on the Elephant’s Debt that I believe was reported by Dave Corning that there were quite a few Rolex’s that MacDonald purchased. Raise your hand if you think MacDonald paid for them with his own money? Yup that’s where my Harvest 5G campaign money went for. Thought I was supporting new church upgrades. In reality I was paying for Harleys, Rolex’s, and God knows what else…

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  8. Pingback: Call your office, Donald | Civil Commotion

  9. I haven’t read Christianity Today in years. They always seem to be promoting a one world church through ecumenical ism. It was fashionable back in the 80’s to expose cults like Jehovah’s Witness,Mormons etc. But if you criticized mainstream protestant churches or the RCC you could be shut out of the Christian publishing world and criticized sharply in their magazines and books. Christianity Today was one of the main ones that could fry people.

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  10. “It sounds so Christian of him,,. doesn’t it? At that point Roys (and TED and wives) were still being sued by HBC/MacDonald. Galli reached out to the defendants on behalf of the plaintiff. Good night! What was he thinking? No lawyer in his right mind would ever let Roys and the others participate in something like that unless it came through their attorneys.”

    Unless he was a “Christian lawyer” maybe. It seems like these kinds of lines are crossed in the church world because they can count on most of us to be sincere and peaceable and ready to let bygones be bygones.

    (This somehow brought to mind, exactly what went wrong with the Bill Gothard lawsuit?)

    Funny Lunch Lady: As a follower of Christ, EVERYTHING’S on the record, Stetzer. Including your thoughts.

    Funny how many Christian leaders don’t seem to be aware of that or live like it, isn’t it?

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  11. Dennis,

    Yes! I have laughed at that statement too. Stetzer was covering his behind when he said this. He knew the “gift” of a $13,000 car would cause his independence to be questioned. So it became a fixer-upper, like the $200 heaps we bought in high school. I learned a lot from working on those old cars, like the feeling of accomplishing something on my own. Stetzer reveals now that project car he was going to work on with his daughter is more akin to getting her into USC by lying about her soccer skills and cheating on the SAT.
    PLEASE, PLEASE somebody sue these entities so we can hear about this under cross examination!

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  12. Hmm, interesting. I’m quite familiar (as a CPA Canada) with the major issues small business owners get into when they can’t mentally separate “Joe Schmoe the person” from “Joe Schmoe Inc the company”. It seems pretty clear that at least the MacDonald clan and likely others had that same issue – inability to separate “MacDonald the person” (who would have their wage, pay their taxes and could gift from that wage if they so chose to do so as “personal gifts”) and “Harvest-which-is-not-MacDonald-piggy-bank”. To be honest, if Harvest is giving out regular large gifts to employees, I hope it’s showing up for taxation purposes. If Harvest is giving out regular large gifts to others, I strongly expect that there are equally large strings attached to said gifts – in corporate-speak, these are usually termed “bribes”.

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  13. Like you Dee, when I blogged for 14 years, BDBO was not monetized. That was hard, I could have used the money. But my decision went back to my career as a journalist.

    I’ll never forget one morning when I ran a Nissan recall as a kicker on a newscast and got back to the newsroom to a call from my very angry station manager. (It was really early in the morning and he’d just woken up) He reamed me out, stating that the local Nissan dealer was a sponsor and how dare I.

    I stood up to my boss. Recalls are mostly about safety issues, and furthermore no advertiser called the shots on my newscasts. If that how it played out, then they could do the news. It was tense. I didn’t back down and ran it again that morning.

    When the boss came in, he sought me out and apologized. Good for him, once he was wide awake, he put his professional hat back on.

    While I think we could argue whether Stetzer is a journalist, and whether he is bound by journalistic ethics, he is a minister, and ministers supposedly have ethical standards.:^) Bottom line, Stetzer opines, I guess he is an expert on evangelism or some such, and I see him as a commentator or perhaps a teacher/preacher. Either way, he writes for CT, which does run news, and I would have thought the magazine had some kind of guidelines, to be followed by writers no matter what hat they wear. For Stetzer and Galli to have refused an open meeting was the final straw for me – my dwindling respect for CT is gone.

    James MacDonald seems to be quite the cunning manipulator. He targeted Stetzer in two areas near and dear to his heart – Volkswagen Beetles and his daughter. And, as noted above, Stetzer came through for him in a crunch. Funny how that works.

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  14. ___

    “Let’s Try From 501c3 Unfathomable to Delectably Unapproachable?”

    hmmm…

    Ed Stetzer’s proverbial beneficent $13,000 bug bribery brewhaha amounts to paltry 501c3 tithe tertiary peanuts these dayz…

    huh?

    Self cited Billionaire Texas pastor Kenneth Copland’s Gulfstream G550 twin engine jet aircraft was sited as costing the ministry a wopping all cash purchase price of $36M. (And that is only one of his ‘family’ 501c3 Ministries ‘alledged’ ten aircraft to ‘graciously’ pad his church parking lot to date.)

    Go Fi$h.

    Notes:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pxmQmDEytdo
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=81I9GAZtmI0
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LpJnDqAuYB4

    ~~
    Intermission:
    Grace VanderWaal – “So Much More Than This”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=48qcnpCWBq0

    :~)

    – –

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  15. Bene D: Funny how that works.

    James MacDonald passed out cars, Harleys and priceless jewels like they were candy. The recipients kept his back when the doo-doo hit the fan.

    Funny how that works.

    James MacDonald gave gifts to staff, family, well-connected persons in the media, perhaps local law enforcement? As we discover the endless depth of MacDonald’s personal piggy bank, we begin to realize why so many kept, and continue to keep, their mouth shut.

    Funny how that works.

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  16. Part of the issue is board members and others demanding to see accurate, complete financial reports. This was an issue for me at Grace Episcopal in Alexandria, and a leading cause of tension in the run-up to my conflict with Bob Malm. Bob refuses to provide vestry members with detailed payroll information, or financials for the largest part of church operations, which is the school. (Under written church policy, members of the vestry’s executive committee are supposed to get copies of school financial reports.)

    Vestry members have even said they’re okay with not seeing school financial reports. This, despite the fact that there have been previous issues with employees being overpaid, supposedly due to an accounting error.

    Folks, if you see issues like this, you need to demand information or resign. I, for one, am not lending support to any church that plays games of this sort.

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  17. Funny Lunch Lady:
    As a follower of Christ, EVERYTHING’S on the record, Stetzer. Including your thoughts.

    Exactly! As well as the motives and intents of the heart. All will be laid bare one day, according to Hebrews 4.

    Also, according to some Jewish Carpenter, “whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

    Maybe one day, these fellas will crack open their Bibles and find out what hypocrites and fools they are…but I won’t hold my breath!

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  18. James MacDonald used these gifts go put people in his debt. Look at the $30,000 Harleys and Rolexes and Jewelry, and Houses that were handed out to his most loyal staffers.

    Gifts from James MacDonald had two purposes: one is to purchase loyalty and influence, and the other was to discourage the person from speaking out about MacDonald. Gifts from a Greek like MacDonald are never given out of love. They are in fact a gift *for MacDonald*.

    For example, MacDonald wants to buddy up with Ed Stetzer because he’s influential with Christianity Today, and MacDonald complained loudly that he hated CT and that they never covered him positively, so he buys him a classic car with the church’s money and Ed foolishly accepts it. Now Stezer is in MacDonald’s debt. In addition, Stetzer either knew or should have found out that this was a gift from personal funds and was all above board in advance. But since Stetzer either neglected to do so or intentionally didn’t ask, now he’s personally involved in the misuse of funds at Harvest.

    With Stetzer’s own credibility and positions on the line now that he’s personally involved in the financial malfeasance at Harvest, he can’t very well speak out about MacDonald’s misdeeds without causing his own downfall, lets a MacDonald loyalist let something slip about the fancy Bug.

    Bring someone into your circle, get them to take a little taste of the money, and now you own them. Don MacDonald knows how to run the family business.

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  19. Friend:
    My church gave me a trivet one time.

    I got a mug and a free Diet Coke from the church I visited on Sunday.

    But seriously, I wonder how many members of churches like HBC with critical financial needs are turned away.

    I wonder how poorly other staff was paid or of they were even treated as full-time staff.

    I wonder if anyone in their top staff even stopped to consider those questions.

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  20. “Headed to Holland, MI to speak to Wesleyans there, and in three other simulcast locations across the Great Lakes Region. We will be talking about increasing evangelistic emphasis and focus in the several hundred churches across the region. Pray we make much of Jesus!” (Ed Stetzer tweet, 10 April 2019)

    So, a New Calvinist is going to teach the Wesleyan-Arminians a thing or two about evangelism?! Whew, these guys know how to work the crowd! Another addition to “from bad to unfathomable.”

    Oh, and Ed needs to know that Jesus is already “much” … you don’t get much mucher than Him!

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  21. Sigh….. same play, different act..
    When I consider the “financial accountability” that I have to function under, in my “secular humanist, worldly job”, I just shake my head at what these clowns think is OK…… the whole situation just insults my sense of sensitivity

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  22. Max: So, a New Calvinist is going to teach the Wesleyan-Arminians a thing or two about evangelism?! Whew, these guys know how to work the crowd! Another addition to “from bad to unfathomable.”

    Now that they’ve totally wrecked the SBC, I reckon they need to move onto fresher hunting grounds! Hopefully the Wesleyans will have more discernment than us Baptists!

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  23. Max: “Pray we make much of Jesus!” (Ed Stetzer tweet, 10 April 2019)

    Reminds me of a New Calvinist church planter in my community. When he hit town, his slogan was “Making God Big.” I bumped into him one day (at the coffee shop, of course) and reminded him that God was already big. My daughter says I like to make young reformers “twisty” when I’m around them.

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  24. “Making God Big”

    Reminds me of a story: The Pope travels to speak at the UN and by a twist of fate ends up alone in the limo. So He strikes up a conversation with the driver, one thing leads to another, and he asks if he can drive. The driver says, “You’re the Pope, you can do whatever you want.” So the Pope gets behind the wheel, tears off and starts weaving in and out of traffic.

    So he passes a rookie cop and his retiring partner who pull him over. The rookie goes up to the window, nods a few times, and comes back to the car. “We better go.” The older officer says, “I’m so sick of these big shots in their limos, why should we go?”

    The Rookie: “This guy is big”
    His Partner: “How big? Is he the mayor?”
    “Nope, bigger.”
    “The Governor?”
    “Nope, bigger”
    “President?”
    “Nope, bigger.”
    “Well for crying out loud, just how big is he?”

    “I don’t know, but the Pope was his driver….”

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  25. Todd Wilhelm:On a serious note. I do not know Mark Galli but have heard he is a good, trustworthy guy. However, this latest story is making me wonder about him. I sincerely hope he has not been tainted by MacDonald

    I’ve heard about so many good trustworthy guys who were neither good nor trustworthy. So you’re right to wonder. The way “Christian” communities are generally constituted today in a society in which people move around a lot and will typically come to megachurch from a 100-mile radius, few people ever really know anyone. It’s not like living in some small, agrarian community where everyone knows everyone’s reputation going way back, and it’s very hard to hide what you really are from people in the community who can hear what’s coming from your hut every day. I don’t know someone until I’ve known them for years on an intimate level, seen them at their best and screaming, raging worst, seen them when they let it all hang out and have no reason to put on a front.

    You don’t get that opportunity to see someone for what they really are in a church service or a church-sponsored small group setting. You might get some true confessions in the latter (at least from those too naive to know how such confessions are too often passed up the church hierarchy and later used against them), but learning about how someone tried cocaine when they were 18 or has struggled with pornography is not the same as seeing the real, raw person. Even those confessions are often just an act. They may be true, but the person is acting out a part, putting on their “confession persona”, playing along with the church game.

    Church is typically play acting and false fronts. How many times have we had a screaming match or a cold, hateful detente with our significant other all the way from our driveway to the church and then, soon as someone smiles and asks “Hi, how are you today?” We say some ridiculous tripe about “how blessed we are”. That’s a lie. It’s a sin to fake up goodness like that, to pretend all’s well. And we tell those lies in church because we know deep down that the church is usually the last place we can safely be honest about our raw, messy selves. Of course, that means the real problems we’re facing, the ones the True Church ought to know about and pray for, those can’t be addressed. So we sit through some canned sermon that makes us feel a temporary buzz. But that’s just a little drug fix. Means nothing.

    People get so used to lying at church they don’t notice it anymore. Frog in a pot. So it’s no wonder you hear about all these stand-up, straight shooting guys and gals who turn out to be lying frauds. It’s because you’ve been getting reports about their front, the image they’re projecting, not the real person. Something akin to thinking that some actor is like the person they’re playing in the movie.

    This is why I tend to think this all works out best in very intimate home church settings. But I’ve been burned in those too!

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  26. Sadly the Wesleyans lack discernment. Stetzer was one of the speakers at a Nazarene evangelism conference in Feb.

    Gave up on CT long ago due to a shift to “push the book.” Also recently gave up on SBC publications for seniors, parents of teens, and Homelife. Just ads to promote the book or the speaking tour or the latest song releases posing as articles.

    I think we have to go back to square one as a culture and learn what clean and dirty are before we can house clean the church. I’m told a local laundromat has signs over some of the washers stating “your items may not all get damp but will be clean nevertheless.” Um, no. Doesn’t work that way. If it did they would not be recommending you use an “odor removing detergent such as Gain” along with liquid softener with that scent, then both dryer sheet so scented and scent beads added. When I teach life skills I stress doing laundry with only unscented products for a few months. If things stink they are not clean. Then once you learn to get your laundry truly clean you can switch back to using scented products but do not change your methods. Same with washing dishes. No, a film is not “normal” on clean dishes nor are “red stained plastics clean even if the stain wipes off on your hand.” That is grease and food, folks. AKA a dirty dish.

    Now, I say all that housecleaning stuff to make a point: today folks are so trained to let advertising do their thinking that they go to church and park their brains. Then the music staff makes use of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, lighting, and temperature to put the crowd in a receptive mood. You walk out having gotten a fix not all that, depending on the church, different from cocaine or pot in the effects on the brain. You come back real soon for another fix, ponying up whatever God tax is demanded.

    We have systematically trained church goers to not even recognize real worship just as we have trained them not to recognize clean clothes and dishes. So why are we so surprised when they behave in a clueless manner?

    I wish I had the answers but I do not. All I can say is buyer beware and avoid Christian publishing like the plague.

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  27. Max,

    Well, given the “fruits” of this Ed Stetzer guy, why should I consider anything he says? So us regulars here on TWW heard/read all the criticism of this blog and how we should stop it….. well, a clear principle of the NT is that our leaders should be “ above reproach” AND we should judge them by their fruits…..

    In my professional world, which includes interactions with major biopharma companies, gifts of cars, Rollexs, and jewels, would bring down HUGE “consequences”….

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  28. Max: Reminds me of a New Calvinist church planter in my community.When he hit town, his slogan was “Making God Big.”I bumped into him one day (at the coffee shop, of course) and reminded him that God was already big.My daughter says I like to make young reformers “twisty” when I’m around them.

    You and I are on the same page there. That neocal church planter was wanting to make himself big. No one in their right mind comes up with an idiotic slogan like that to honor Jesus. I don’t buy it. Good for you for holding his arrogance up for him to see.

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  29. Jeffrey Chalmers:
    Max,

    Well, given the “fruits” of this Ed Stetzer guy, why should I consider anything he says? So us regulars here on TWWheard/read all the criticism of this blog andhowwe should stop it….. well, a clear principle of the NT is that our leaders should be “ above reproach” AND we should judge them by their fruits…..

    In my professional world, which includes interactions with major biopharma companies, gifts of cars, Rollexs, and jewels, would bring down HUGE “consequences”….

    I’m writing a textbook on corporate fraud (there will, by the way, be a chapter on nonprofit fraud which will include references to some of the characters who’ve been discussed here). It’s a legitimate textbook, not one of these thrown together compilations. It has been a bigger undertaking than I imagined. The number of hours that will go into it when all is done will be enormous, in the four-figures. Working with the publisher is a taxing process. Every word is picked over, I make sure references are spot on, everything’s vetted. Lot of work.

    The university will allow me to use this textbook in my own classes—but I don’t get to make a single penny off those sales. The only money I’ll make is if other profs adopt it. This is to prevent self-dealing. This secular university has a strong notion of ethics. If I were a megachurch leader and had just written a book, one that I probably put paltry time into, perhaps plagiarized some of, did a half-baked job of writing, maybe just jotted notes or recorded thoughts and had someone ghostwrite, guess I could just promote the book every Sunday and the loyal followers would buy them up—and if they didn’t, I could have my church buy up thousands of them and leave them in boxes unopened in some storage area—and pocketed the royalties. Guess I’m in the wrong racket.

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  30. TS00: James MacDonald passed out cars, Harleys and priceless jewels like they were candy. The recipients kept his back when the doo-doo hit the fan.

    Funny how that works.

    James MacDonald gave gifts to staff, family, well-connected persons in the media, perhaps local law enforcement? As we discover the endless depth of MacDonald’s personal piggy bank, we begin to realize why so many kept, and continue to keep, their mouth shut.

    Funny how that works.

    “ONE HAND WASHES THE OTHER…”

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  31. I’m just putting this here so it’s out of my brain and on the internet somewhere. I used to work in exec level Christian PR. I don’t remember the mechanics, but I do remember that James MacDonald was instrumental in Janet Mefferd’s apology to Driscoll. This might not have any value to anyone, I just wanted it out of my head.
    https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/janet-mefferd-apologizes-for-mark-driscoll-plagiarism-interview.html

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  32. Law Prof: If I were a megachurch leader and had just written a book, one that I probably put paltry time into, perhaps plagiarized some of, did a half-baked job of writing, maybe just jotted notes or recorded thoughts and had someone ghostwrite, guess I could just promote the book every Sunday and the loyal followers would buy them up

    JUST LIKE SCIENTOLOGY!
    How do you think Elron still gets on best-seller lists?
    Guy’s been dead for how long and still cranking out best-sellers!

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  33. Law Prof: So it’s no wonder you hear about all these stand-up, straight shooting guys and gals who turn out to be lying frauds. It’s because you’ve been getting reports about their front, the image they’re projecting, not the real person. Something akin to thinking that some actor is like the person they’re playing in the movie.

    Didn’t some Rabbi from Tarsus write about “transforming himself to appear as an Angel of Light”?

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  34. Ishy: I wonder if anyone in their top staff even stopped to consider those questions.

    “I Got Mine,
    I Got Mine,
    The World’s The Way It’s Meant to Be,
    I Got Mine…

    “I Got Mine,
    I Got Mine,
    I DON’T WANT A THING TO CHANGE
    NOW THAT I GOT MINE!”
    — Glenn Frey, “I Got Mine”

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  35. Root 66: Funny Lunch Lady:
    As a follower of Christ, EVERYTHING’S on the record, Stetzer. Including your thoughts.

    Exactly! As well as the motives and intents of the heart. All will be laid bare one day, according to Hebrews 4.

    So we should just sit quietly with hands folded, piously intoning platitudes such as that?

    While we’re doing that, these guys are Seen to WIN. And WIN. And WIN.

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  36. Ishy: But seriously, I wonder how many members of churches like HBC with critical financial needs are turned away.

    I wonder how they treat abused wives who leave cruel husbands… are they supported emotionally AND financially???

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  37. Law Prof,

    Yup…. just like Ravi Zacharias and his history of misleading degrees and academic affiliations…. I would be bounced for the crap that RZ gets away with…
    The lack of ethics in “evangelical industrial complex” is just plain breathtaking… and it about time we stand up and call it for what it is!,
    I saw first hand, a big time Chemist get pounded for much less example plagiarism than many of these clowns get away with…… but do not forget, we are a bunch of heathen, secular humanists, while all these “godly men” we read about would never do such things..

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  38. Ishy: I wonder how many members of churches like HBC with critical financial needs are turned away

    I suspect HBC and its satellite churches are set up in affluent suburbia to avoid poor folks. That’s the usual place New Calvinist churches pop up.

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  39. Law Prof: I’m writing a textbook on corporate fraud (there will, by the way, be a chapter on nonprofit fraud which will include references to some of the characters who’ve been discussed here).

    Off the record, I allow you to use the term I coined this morning in the non-profit chapter: “Evangelical Racketeering.” Of course, I would like you to buy me a 1971 VW Beetle should you make any money on the book. (a green one with white leather seats like I used to own; no fixer-upper)

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  40. CT magazine has gone liberal and no longer relevant; thus the low readership. It will fall by the wayside like Life, Look, Ebony and Jet magazines. If 20 yrs of services gets you a Rolex and pearls, what do you receive for 10 yrs and 30 yrs? It is something all HBC members can look forward to receive.

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  41. Bene D: While I think we could argue whether Stetzer is a journalist, and whether he is bound by journalistic ethics, he is a minister, and ministers supposedly have ethical standards.:^) Bottom line, Stetzer opines, I guess he is an expert on evangelism or some such, and I see him as a commentator or perhaps a teacher/preacher. Either way, he writes for CT, which does run news, and I would have thought the magazine had some kind of guidelines, to be followed by writers no matter what hat they wear. For Stetzer and Galli to have refused an open meeting was the final straw for me – my dwindling respect for CT is gone.

    Yes, any residual respect for Christianity Today is going … going … gone.

    And if Wheaton and Billy Graham Center don’t clear things up and demonstrate that they have some kind of ethical backbone, then it’s a half-step away from the same.

    As a reminder, Wheaton, Billy Graham Center, and Mr Stetzer hosted the GC2 Summit on responding to sexual abuse. And he got a book contract out of this to write about abuse survival. If any of these individuals and institutions (and Mr Stetzer’s abuse book publisher) want to be taken seriously by abuse survivors, they likely have a very small window of time to correct what has gone wrong and be exceptionally transparent about it.

    P.S. Bene D — great to see you here on TWW!

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  42. Max: Off the record, I allow you to use the term I coined this morning in the non-profit chapter:“Evangelical Racketeering.”Of course, I would like you to buy me a 1971 VW Beetle should you make any money on the book.(a green one with white leather seats like I used to own; no fixer-upper)

    I may be in touch about using the “Evangelical Racketeering” phrase. You might want to see about getting that trademarked.

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  43. …and I wish I had the money for a VW convertible. With all these kids and all these expenses, and the salaries of an academic, I’m just trying to get up to the point where I can say “I’m honestly broke, I don’t have a penny to my name.” That will be a great day, because as it stands, we have some work to do before we can get up to zero. 🙂

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  44. brad/futuristguy: And if Wheaton and Billy Graham Center don’t clear things up and demonstrate that they have some kind of ethical backbone, then it’s a half-step away from the same.

    Phillip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, is a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. So, as Dee has taught us, start connecting the dots–and dollars. Despite that association, (today) there are WOMEN on Wheaton’s Board of Trustees–a whoppin’ 20%.

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  45. Max: Off the record, I allow you to use the term I coined this morning in the non-profit chapter:“Evangelical Racketeering.”Of course, I would like you to buy me a 1971 VW Beetle should you make any money on the book.(a green one with white leather seats like I used to own; no fixer-upper)

    I have recently been musing whether the RICO statute might apply to what was going on within HBC and the related entities. IIRC, a successful prosecution results in penalties that are three times the amount of funds that were corruptly misused. That would be some real hurt.

    To take Eric Hoffer’s famous saying (movement –> corporation –> racket) a step further, perhaps every great movement ends in RICO convictions.

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  46. I have come to the conclusion that Kathy MacDonald is in on the scam. She vacations with very expensive acommodations, shops often, lived in a 2 million dollar house, and now has a McMansion with a ten car garage. Did she really think that’s how pastor’s wives live? In addition to lying to the Cornings about the source of the Rolex funds, she was present in a church service in which James claimed that all his money came from book sales. She was also present at the 5G meeting when James announced that his goal was to give more money back to the church than they have ever received from the church. (Yeah, I bought that line and left feeling guilty for taking vacations and buying coffee). Years ago the story was that they made their momey in real estate and received a sizable inheritance. I wonder who circulated that rumor? I can think of two people it would benefit.

    I would love to know more about the origins of HBC. Kathy, James, and Rick and Lynne Donald, all friends from Canada, started a in a high school gymnasium. I truly wonder if the plan was to dupe these religious and gullible Americans from the beginning. It seems to me that a pastor who was corrupted by money and power might return to a level of humility and feel remorse over this situation. On the contrary, James is seeking more funds for his “ministry”. I think we are looking at a true con artist.

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  47. Eric Bonetti,

    PS There was one staff member at Grace Episcopal who was overpaid for many months. When the whole thing came to light, I strongly suspected that it was not, as was claimed, an accounting error, but rather that the rector, Bob Malm, had exceeded what the vestry had approved for the job. My further suspicion is when the parish administrator innocently raised the issue, Bob had to throw the employee under the bus, rather than admit he had exceeded his authority. Again, just suspicion on my part, but I’ve seen enough sketchy behavior (including Bob Malm’s perjury) that I am deeply suspicious. And if stuff like this can go on in a hierarchical church, just imagine what the Calvinistas can do.

    Oh, and when you say something, the comeback is “oh, he’s delusional/dysfunctional/unbalanced” — fill in the blank. But that doesn’t obviate the fact that clergy misconduct has happened.

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  48. Max: I suspect HBC and its satellite churches are set up in affluent suburbia to avoid poor folks. That’s the usual place New Calvinist churches pop up.

    “That’s where the MONEY is.”
    — answer to the question “Why did you rob banks?”

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  49. Thomas055:

    I am a former employee of Christianity Today. It is the last Christian organization I will work for.
    *******
    I have subscribed to CT for years and loved it.
    However, this leads me to wonder if their is any hope in Christendom at all? Could someone point me to a church, a Christian school, a publication, a parachurch organization, a missions organization, a denomination, anything that is not tainted by pride, abuse, financial mismanagement, worldliness, adultery, false teachings, etc? I feel as if I’m holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who/what will be next? I fully realize there are no perfect people, we all sin, etc. but really?

    I so appreciate TWW, Dee, and all those who comment. I have learned so much in my 8 or so years here. But sometimes it’s just so discouraging. My husband and I are in the process of leaving our (seeker-friendly) church. We gave it our best shot, tried to ‘be the change’, ignored red flags. We’re just so darn tired of it all.

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  50. Christianity Today International is a member of the Evangelical Press Association.

    Here’s the link to EPA’s Code of Ethics. See especially sections 4.3 (Gifts), 5.1 (Conflicts of Interest), and 7.2 (Peer Accountability). Maybe even 4.2 (Endorsements) is relevant.

    Is Christianity Today adhering to the EPA’s Code of Ethics regarding issues that have arisen from gifts James MacDonald gave to one of their writers?

    https://www.evangelicalpress.com/about-epa/code-of-ethics/

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  51. Fedora,

    Is there …hope in Christendom?…

    What specific outcome where you hoping for? Would a simple explanation be that you had an erroneous initial expectation?

    What if the actual narrative regarding the Kingdom of God is actualy true, as reported from the first page of Genesis?

    If so, it would mean both Heaven and Earth are un-reconciled to God..
    Deception was, and continues, as part of the story..
    An ongoing war is underway for control of the Kingdom..
    The Church emerges much later in history and the struggle expands to determine who will dominate the Kingdom on Earth…
    We are playing for all the marbles…

    If one held these thoughts, would they not want to seize the Kingdom? I’m suggesting there are such men. They strive because they understand the stakes, and act accordingly. Others don’t and are more concerned about the mood in this Sunday’s worship service.

    It is written: …”from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”

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  52. Fedora: I fully realize there are no perfect people, we all sin, etc. but really?

    While there are no perfect people, nor perfect churches, there is a perfect Savior who attempts to perfect the saints. Somewhere along the line, some Christian leaders declared “Enough of this perfecting! I’ll do it ‘my’ way!”

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  53. All of this talk of Rolexes, cars, and homes takes me back to the gift given me by the second church that I pastored in NC: they paid for my doctorate. They loved and supported me when my two daughters were born and saw my worth in unique ways that I did not see myself. When I wanted to pursue doctoral studies, the church wanted to be a part of that process, for as one deacon told me, “You have taken us far, we want to help you go farther in being a blessing.” I was, and remained humbled, by their faith in the Father, and their contribution to my life and ministry. No Rolex, no car, just the undying love and trust of a wonderful church.

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  54. Tangent

    Successful launch for the Falcon Heavy; all three boosters recovered and nominal orbit for the upper stage. The latter is due to re-ignite in a wee while, but ahm aff tae ma bed the noo.

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  55. Luckyforward: the second church that I pastored in NC: they paid for my doctorate … the church wanted to be a part of that process … No Rolex, no car, just the undying love and trust of a wonderful church.

    Those are the sort of gifts that churches should honor their pastors with. No one would accuse MacDonald of undying love in his showering gifts upon folks … there was an agenda attached to the exchange.

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  56. Todd Wilhelm: On a serious note. I do not know Mark Galli but have heard he is a good, trustworthy guy. However, this latest story is making me wonder about him. I sincerely hope he has not been tainted by MacDonald.

    The comments section on this blog has dialogue between Mark Galli and Wade Burleson on this issue: https://www.wadeburleson.org/2019/04/boys-and-their-toys-understanding.html?m=1.

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  57. Ken F (aka Tweed): The comments section on this blog has dialogue between Mark Galli and Wade Burleson on this issue: https://www.wadeburleson.org/2019/04/boys-and-their-toys-understanding.html?m=1.

    If Galli is really that “confused”, then he can’t be that good of an editor-in-chief. What Julie, and dee, and Wade, and most of the internet has been saying is not that hard to understand. I don’t believe he’s really all that confused about it.

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  58. Ken F (aka Tweed): dialogue between Mark Galli and Wade Burleson

    An interesting exchange indeed! The VW is on a tour! But still not a peep from the man who has the keys, except “Sent a check in March to reimburse Walk in the Word for the full amount. That’s about it.” Perhaps someone needs to connect Stetzer with CT to expound a bit more on the topic … oh wait a minute, he works for CT (sort of).

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  59. Took Ken F.’s suggestion to read the blog comments between Mark Galli and Wade Burleson.

    Um. Does anyone understand Galli’s little game with semantics?

    Galli to Burleson: “…Stetzer is not a news journalist…”

    From Wheaton College web site about Dean of of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership Stetzer: “Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN.”

    Definition of “columnist”: a journalist contributing regularly to a newspaper or magazine.
    synonyms: writer, feature writer, contributor, journalist, correspondent, newspaperman, newspaperwoman, newsman, newswoman

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  60. Lynne: Does anyone understand Galli’s little game with semantics?

    Galli to Burleson: “…Stetzer is not a news journalist…”

    Perhaps he meant that Stetzer, by not being a journalist, is not subject to the ethics code attached to that profession? Technically, as you note, Stetzer ‘is’ a journalist in his capacity with CT.

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  61. ishy: I don’t believe he’s really all that confused about it.

    I agree. On Wade’s blog he writes: “Stetzer is not a news journalist. He writes blog articles on our site.” Not a journalist, just a mere blogger who has no influence. Yeah, right. On this page CT describes him as a contributing editor, which sounds like an influential position:
    https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/help/about-us/masthead.html. If he is a contributing editor he is not a mere blog writer. Perhaps CT should change his job description because they are giving peons like me the impression that he is one of their big shots. They cannot have it both ways.

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  62. Max: The VW is on a tour! But still not a peep from the man who has the keys, except “Sent a check in March to reimburse Walk in the Word for the full amount.

    Also not a peep from any of the gospel glitterati. The silence is deafening.

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  63. ishy: If Galli is really that “confused”, then he can’t be that good of an editor-in-chief. What Julie, and dee, and Wade, and most of the internet has been saying is not that hard to understand. I don’t believe he’s really all that confused about it.

    I would say ‘artful’ is more accurate than ‘confused’. He tries to brush away the obvious implication that MacDonald sought to use a contact with influence to gain access. That one’s a pretty old trick of the trade, and works especially well if bribes, er thoughtful gifts, have greased the skids.

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  64. Max: Ken F (aka Tweed): not a peep from any of the gospel glitterati. The silence is deafening

    They are all busy burying their gifts.

    ‘This old thing?’, pointing to Rolex; ‘I only wear this when I don’t care how I look.’

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  65. TS00: He tries to brush away the obvious implication that MacDonald sought to use a contact with influence to gain access. That one’s a pretty old trick of the trade, and works especially well if bribes, er thoughtful gifts, have greased the skids.

    “Thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.” (Exodus 23:8)

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  66. Interesting that CT Editor-in-Chief Galli gave space in his magazine for MacDonald to write disparagingly of Julie Roys (and others). Then, it is Galli who says Pastor Burleson is “inadvertently bearing false witness” for observing that the Ed Stetzer/VW Beetle episode is a lesson for us.

    The hypocrisy is stunning.

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  67. Fedora: However, this leads me to wonder if their is any hope in Christendom at all? Could someone point me to a church, a Christian school, a publication, a parachurch organization, a missions organization, a denomination, anything that is not tainted by pride, abuse, financial mismanagement, worldliness, adultery, false teachings, etc? I feel as if I’m holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who/what will be next? I fully realize there are no perfect people, we all sin, etc. but really?

    I know exactly how you feel. Had I not already gone through the shock and grief of giving up on the Institutional Church, these would be even more crushing times. Look to scripture, and see the parallel to the Institutional Religion that oppressed Israel and gave God a bad name. See what Jesus had to say about the Religious leaders of his day. We can let go of institutions without losing faith in God, or hope that there will always remain a remnant of true believers, even if we appear to be somewhat scattered at the moment.

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  68. Law Prof: at least from those too naive to know how such confessions are too often passed up the church hierarchy and later used against them),

    Ah Law Prof you are right on the mark again. I found Jesus in AA where people told stuff like it was. Got mighty used to the honesty in those meetings. We’re only as sick as our secrets they said. And they were right. But… Had no idea what awaited me in the established church. Thirty years later still love and serve Jesus but am very wary around church going Christians cause after being honest and getting burned too many times it’s just not worth it. Which is funny (OK, tragic) because the other stuff festering in the dark – pedophiles operating in our midst,big name managawd dudes giving away rolexes on the church members’ dime- these things are real problems. I cannot to this day fathom why the church overall is less safe than AA.

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  69. DebWill: Phillip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, is a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. So, as Dee has taught us, start connecting the dots–and dollars. Despite that association, (today) there are WOMEN on Wheaton’s Board of Trustees–a whoppin’ 20%.

    That’s some very intriguing bits of information — thanks for posting that @DebWill.

    Seems the “GospelCo Industrial Complex” goes farther and deeper than realized.

    And great advice from @Dee to connect dots and dollars …

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  70. The creation of CT in 1956 guaranteed a future struggle for it content. The original Neo-Evangelicals are dead and it’s surprising the ecumenical display has held together without a central leader such as Graham.

    A threat to create a CT alternative is ironic, because CT was created to counteract prior Mainline journalistic influence itself.

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  71. brad/futuristguy: Seems the “GospelCo Industrial Complex” goes farther and deeper than realized.

    If you’ve heard of them, or their institution, if they have ever written ‘popular’ books, if they have ever had a radio program . . . they are more than likely in on it.

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  72. I get what you are saying. Often, those of us who are frustrated by the church are not looking for perfection. I’m not perfect, and I wouldn’t fit in very well with an organization that is perfect.

    Where things get difficult is when we see people use Christianity as an excuse for self-aggrandizement. Or when people loudly trumpet their spiritual beliefs, then behave in ways deliberately counter to those beliefs.

    It can be a tough thing to work through, for sure.

    Fedora:
    Thomas055:

    I am a former employee of Christianity Today. It is the last Christian organization I will work for.
    *******
    I have subscribed to CT for years and loved it.
    However, this leads me to wonder if their is any hope in Christendom at all? Could someone point me to a church, a Christian school, a publication, a parachurch organization, a missions organization, a denomination, anything that is not tainted by pride, abuse, financial mismanagement, worldliness, adultery, false teachings, etc? I feel as if I’m holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who/what will be next? I fully realize there are no perfect people, we all sin, etc. but really?

    I so appreciate TWW, Dee, and all those who comment. I have learned so much in my 8 or so years here. But sometimes it’s just so discouraging. My husband and I are in the process of leaving our (seeker-friendly) church. We gave it our best shot, tried to ‘be the change’, ignored red flags. We’re just so darn tired of it all.

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  73. Law Prof: I just now got the pun

    I had more wit and wisdom before I became old and senile. Then I get to thinking about these young men in ministry who are not very smart – like this Stetzer fellow – and I start feeling better about myself.

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  74. Fisher: I shouldn’t have laughed but I did.

    I understand. Actually, that comment was meant to lighten things up a bit – the VW scandal just gets weirder and almost humorous as folks try to wiggle their way through it. I would laugh more if I wasn’t grieving all the time about the church.

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  75. TS00: If you’ve heard of them, or their institution, if they have ever written ‘popular’ books, if they have ever had a radio program . . . they are more than likely in on it.

    Sadly, GospelCo[tm] Industrial Complex is just one in the multiflock functioning off of Christendom.

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  76. Max: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.On Christ the solid rock I stand.All other ground is sinking sand.

    Max I am a believer as well.

    Let me bring up a comment by Jesus. It feels timely regarding CT, but also an issue that is so obvious it seems to have hidden in plain sight for 2000 years.

    ..”Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:”…

    Max. The Kingdom of God is divided against itself. Whether it be CT, or some other such thing. This is to say nothing of historical wars, racism, crusades and religious persecution.

    These divisions will not be reconciled by the return of Christ only. The divisions we see today will extend into the next life with tangible effect in Heaven, as mentioned in the parables.

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  77. Max: Actually, that comment was meant to lighten things up a bit – the VW scandal just gets weirder and almost humorous as folks try to wiggle their way through it. I would laugh more if I wasn’t grieving all the time about the church.

    Yeah, that a tension I struggle with as well. There’s a time for every activity under the sun right? A time to be angry and a time to laugh when the tension gets to be too much. Thanks for helping relieve the tension.

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  78. Dee and Deb,

    I have read Stetzer’s dissertation, which is not readily available online unfortunately (and not surprisingly). The cynicism with which the SBC views the production of pastors and churches is beyond belief. They literally modeled it on business incubator systems (think something along California innovation hubs, although another ready analogy is the MLB major and minor leagues).

    Best,
    John

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  79. ___

    “Effervescent ™ Support Bestowed, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    I am concerned for the great many souls who ‘still’ faithfully attend services at Harvest Bible Chapel with their commitment to Jesus Christ. When the proverbial dust up is completed what is to become of them?

    (sadface)

    “Entends mon cri, Ô Dieu;
    écouter ma prière. Depuis les extrémités de la terre, je vous appelle, j’appelle comme mon cœur s’évanouit… ” -Psalm 61:1-2b

    Cheers!

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    Bestow – “Don’t Fall Asleep” (Acoustic studio recording) *
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lqsCVTShEj8
    *Video recording:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=G1M3yLtE-s4

    ;~)

    – –

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  80. “A couple of years ago, I was told that CT was being pressured by the Neo Calvinist (fondly called Calvinistas) community to become more proactive in presenting those doctrinal views.”

    There, SBC, T4G, take your pick, it seems,,,

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  81. Julie: I think we are looking at a true con artist.

    Or a really effective “businessman”.

    America adores its titans of industry, technology and finance. What we see in the megachurch movement may simply be a manifestation of the reality that “the church has become the world in nearly every respect”

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  82. Dear TWW Folks,

    Let’s not leave Dee, Pastor Burleson, and the few others out there by themselves – though our Dee, Pastor Burleson, and Julie Roys have proved able to defend themselves against those who would try to silence them. Please…submit a comment to Christianity Today, however brief (just go to the web site and select “contact us”). I hope that I’m not stupid for thinking that our collective voices matter. Here’s what I sent:

    Dear Editor-in-Chief Galli:

    Your exchange with Pastor Wade Burleson on Istoria Ministries Blog was disappointing. You, who gave space in your publication for James MacDonald to write disparagingly of Julie Roys (and others), are now accusing Pastor Wade Burleson of “inadvertently bearing false witness” for observing that the Ed Stetzer/VWBeetle episode is a lesson for us.

    I pray that you come to your senses and see the hypocrisy in what you wrote to Pastor Burleson. And apologize. Yours is behavior unbecoming of the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today…or is it? Is that what “Christianity today” really has descended to: that those with a platform for large audiences now issue hypocritical judgments (abusing holy writ) on others who merely ask fellow Christians to take note of an event that can be instructive for our conduct as Christians? Selah.

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  83. In reading and processing all of this, I wonder if these Neo-Cals have confused the “Sovereignty of God” with the “Sovereignty of Self.” The arrogance of their actions is fueled by the narcissism of their thinking.
    Case in point: in the city where I live there is a well known church that was heavily CBF in the 90’s, but that emphasis is ebbing. The retirement of a long time pastor led to a younger “more progressive” pastor. He is a very interesting young man. His sermons are liberally sprinkled with phrases such as the “sovereignty of God” and other Neo-Cal buzzwords. His newsletter for the last few months have advertised an upcoming spiritual discipline conference. The picture of the leader is listed, but not named. Who is it? Don Whitney – a very well known Neo-Cal. There is apparently no guilt in taking a church Neo-Cal without telling anyone. Does the arrogance of giving out Rolexes and cars begin at such a level as this?

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  84. Luckyforward: in the city where I live there is a well known church that was heavily CBF in the 90’s, but that emphasis is ebbing. The retirement of a long time pastor led to a younger “more progressive” pastor. He is a very interesting young man.

    So now they are going after CBF? Scary!

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  85. Slightly off thread, but the Twitterverse is buzzing with talk of a secret meeting between MacDonald and HBC elders today. Fighting for $$, reminding them of what will come out if they talk too much, or?

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  86. Luckyforward: There is apparently no guilt in taking a church Neo-Cal without telling anyone.

    Happens in the SBC all the time! These young reformers apparently justify stealth deception for the good of the New Calvinist movement, believing that they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the “true” gospel that the rest of the church has lost (gospel = Calvinism).

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  87. Max: brad/futuristguy: Christianity Today International is a member of the Evangelical Press Association.

    CT is also an ECFA member. We’ve learned in recent days that those credentials are not what we thought they were.

    One certainly thought that ECFA endorsement would have guarded against at least extreme abuses like giving cars away with church funds or buying Rolex watches to give as gifts. Now we unfortunately know that ECFA isn’t worth the ink the certificate is written on and the whole organization is a waste or resources or set up to give false assurances to member churches.

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  88. Luckyforward: There is apparently no guilt in taking a church Neo-Cal without telling anyone. Does the arrogance of giving out Rolexes and cars begin at such a level as this?

    And no, that is definitely how they operate. They have classes at the seminaries in “Church Revitalization” and how to go into a church that doesn’t have New Cal views and force it to become New Calvinist.

    They talk quite a bit about Machiavielli. It’s not like Machiavielli is a hot topic of conversation, anywhere, so that’s kinda telling that they like to bring him up. They will argue that they don’t believe the end justifies the means, but they have a tendency to not be honest about their tactics, like nobody is going to notice.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20190412124038/https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/a-crash-course-on-influencers-of-unbelief-machiavelli/

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  89. TS00: I know exactly how you feel. Had I not already gone through the shock and grief of giving up on the Institutional Church, these would be even more crushing times. Look to scripture, and see the parallel to the Institutional Religion that oppressed Israel and gave God a bad name. See what Jesus had to say about the Religious leaders of his day. We can let go of institutions without losing faith in God, or hope that there will always remain a remnant of true believers, even if we appear to be somewhat scattered at the moment.

    Thank you so much! Yes, I fully realize my only hope is in Jesus. ‘Scattered’ would certainly describe our family now as we work through where to go from here.

    I’m curious to know. How many commenters are no longer active in organized religion? In other words, how many don’t go to church anymore? (Yes, I know the church is not a building, but you know what I mean.) As lifelong church-attenders, my husband and I are overcome with guilt when we think of not going on Sunday mornings. 🙁 Ugh. For those that do attend, what denominations are represented here?

    I will be emailing CT within the next few minutes.

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  90. Law Prof: I don’t know someone until I’ve known them for years

    I was just telling someone this the other day. They were thrilled about their new pastor (who I suspect to be a new reformer in disguise). I advised them to watch and listen carefully – that it might take a couple of years for them to “know” their new pastor. I can’t tell you how many church folks I thought I knew over the years that I didn’t really know at all! You don’t really know something until it’s in your “knower” … when you see it, you can’t un-see it … when you know it, you can’t un-know it. One of the benefits of living several decades on planet earth is that your discernment level is increased by observation and experience and you can spot the rascals a little quicker … much of discernment is simple observation – keeping your eyes and ears open.

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  91. Law Prof: Church is typically play acting and false fronts … People get so used to lying at church they don’t notice it anymore.

    And we wonder why the Holy Spirit is not flowing through the American church, why the glory of God is not resting on it?! Ananias and Sapphira were fried for lying to the Holy Spirit – by the mercy of God we are not! Should we expect a blessing when we grieve and quench the Spirit of the Living God with our lies and deception? Religious movements based on stealth and deception can easily prosper in the church when the pew is already full of liars.

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  92. linda: Sadly the Wesleyans lack discernment. Stetzer was one of the speakers at a Nazarene evangelism conference in Feb.

    Whew! You don’t get anymore “whosoever-will-may-come” than the Nazarenes! The greatest need of the American church is for the people of God to pray for a new measure of discernment.

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  93. linda: We have systematically trained church goers to not even recognize real worship

    Yes, there is a great multitude in the American church who are bowing to an unknown God, thinking they are worshiping the Almighty.

    “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in Truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in Truth.” (John 4:23-24)

    Finding a church with people who actually do that in America is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

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  94. Fedora,

    Wow! Your questions are so big. Is there a clean and honest ministry around? Are there trustworthy pastors and elders?

    I am beginning to wonder about the same thing after discovering the pictures behind the scene of these Christian organizations, churches, charities, even mission organizations, etc.

    But there are honest Christian ministers and missionaries I personally know. They are humble and genuine inspire of the proud people or difficulties they encounter. They seek to please FATHER above. A couple who serve in Japan seek to glorify God as they continue to share Christ with others while dealing with pain and cancer.

    Some churches I know about in the Chicagoland are clean and focused on Jesus. Living Water Evangelical Church is an example. A missionary family they support serve in Africa because they want to obey Jesus by building their faith house on the Rock rather than on the sand. That man had given up a very successful business and income to live a simple life among the poor and less educated. They minister to African pastors too by training them right there.

    In contrast, all these bad leaders we see here must be building on the sand with stubble and hey?

    For a long time I felt discouraged about church involvement as well as dryness in my own spirit. Missionary examples always cheer me up. The story of Oswald Chambers in the book “Abandoned to God” showed how intimate he was with his God and Friend Jesus Christ. I learned this: Oneness with our Savior is the key to holiness and enduring fruit in His work through us.

    I know pastors on the east coast and west coast too who do not seek fame or money. Genuine relationship with Christ Jesus baed on the living word transcends church denominations or doctrines. People who have a big head puffed up by knowledge can live rotten lives if they ignore God’s Holy Spirit. People who artificially exhibit the Holy Spirit’s power without a purified heart can also live rotten lives. Such have been the conditions of many leaders mentioned in these blogs.

    May the Lord give you some resting time for your spirit to be revived. Reading and singing some hymns and praise songs may help.

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  95. Max: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.On Christ the solid rock I stand.All other ground is sinking sand.

    All other ground is sinking sand!
    And the world offer so many grounds other than the incorruptible blood of Jesus!

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  96. Fedora:
    TS00: I know exactly how you feel. Had I not already gone through the shock and grief of giving up on the Institutional Church, these would be even more crushing times. Look to scripture, and see the parallel to the Institutional Religion that oppressed Israel and gave God a bad name. See what Jesus had to say about the Religious leaders of his day. We can let go of institutions without losing faith in God, or hope that there will always remain a remnant of true believers, even if we appear to be somewhat scattered at the moment.

    Thank you so much! Yes, I fully realize my only hope is in Jesus. ‘Scattered’ would certainly describe our family now as we work through where to go from here.

    I’m curious to know. How many commenters are no longer active in organized religion? In other words, how many don’t go to church anymore? (Yes, I know the church is not a building, but you know what I mean.) As lifelong church-attenders, my husband and I are overcome with guilt when we think of not going on Sunday mornings. Ugh. For those that do attend, what denominations are represented here?

    I will be emailing CT within the next few minutes.

    I haven’t gone for five years. Got too painful.

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  97. Law Prof: I’m curious to know. How many commenters are no longer active in organized religion? In other words, how many don’t go to church anymore?

    After serving as a senior pastor of 4 churches in NC and TN for over 25 years, I have not been a part of organized religion since 2001. In 1972 I was baptized into a Southern Baptist church in my hometown of Chattanooga, TN. One of the deacons welcomed me that day with the statement, “Congratulations, you have joined the only church where you can have 50 people in a room and 51 opinions about the Bible and everyone still loves each other.” I loved the concept of “soul competency” as well as “the priesthood of the believer.” These ideas are dead and gone, never to return and represented traditional Southern Baptist thought.
    As time went on and the church became centered on “pastoral personalities”, the addition of “elders” to “deacons” and those elders becoming the pastor’s personal leadership group, I found that I did not recognize “church” any longer. As Evangelical Christianity became more heavily politicized and how one “voted” was equated with one’s faith, I could no longer locate the koinonia that fed my spirit and joined my soul to others. Now with the growth of Fundamentalism 2.0 – Neo-Calvinism – the church does not resemble anything I have ever known. I worship privately at home with friends and family. My faith in God is as strong as ever. My disappointment in what his church has become leaves me saddened . . .

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  98. birdoftheair:

    This does not make any sense. Let’s review:

    Nathan said- The Kingdom of God is divided and the violent sieze it by force.

    Others respond: We believe in Jesus.

    Nathan: Yes. But Jesus said a Kingdom divided against itself will come to desolation.

    The Thread: We believe in Jesus and we quote, My House is Built on Nothing Less. (Rev. Edward Mote- 1834)

    Let’s pause at this point:
    “My House”, references “Christ the Rock” mentioned in 1 Cor 10:4, as the spiritual rock. But the hymn regards “built” on a rock, which draws from the Parable of The Wise and Foolish Builders. And, in this parable, builders construct two houses, and one collapses. It’s collapse is great.

    So what is Nathan saying? He says, the Kingdom of God is divided against itself. It is going to collapse in the that day. Its collapse will be great.

    This internal tension will exist at time of the return, as mentioned in Matthew 24. But more worrisome, it will passover and reemerge as an issue after the dispensing of various rewards to the Lords servants. This is outlined in Matthew 20.

    To be clear, the Parable of the Landholder is completed in the afterlife, post at least some initial rewards. There are specific servants openly challenging God, and angering him.

    The positioning for control of CT editorial content is the daily jostling for influence in a divided kingdom.

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  99. Max: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.On Christ the solid rock I stand.All other ground is sinking sand.

    I remember the filk lyrics better:

    “My hope is built on nothing less than
    Freeze-dried foods and Smith & Wesson”

    And a lot of Christians these days are singing the filk version.

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  100. Max: Happens in the SBC all the time!These young reformers apparently justify stealth deception for the good of the New Calvinist movement, believing that they have come into the world for such a time as this to restore the “true” gospel that the rest of the church has lost (gospel = Calvinism).

    i.e.
    “RULERS OF TOMORROW! MASTER RACE!”
    — Ralph Bakshi, Wizards

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  101. I’ve been “done” with organized religion for 10 years. It isn’t because I do not know MANY Godly missionaries, pastors, or church leaders, because I do. My plan, if you could call it that, was to take a year off to look around at what was happening in the organized-church world. My story was that I had gone to the same church for 50 years, had been incredibly involved, and for 25 years was on the payroll. No one asked what was up. No one. My parents, who were also members of that church both died that year. We lost the house were living in, then my job, then were told our name was being removed from the membership and would we please write a letter to the church saying there were “no hard feelings”. This is just scraping the surface. 2009-2010 was a VERY bad year for my family. I wish I would have kept a time-line, but I didn’t, so my dates may not be exact on somethings. After about six months, one dear old saint in her 80’s knocked on our door to let us know that she was appalled with how we had been treated.
    But really, the real reason I am “done” isn’t because I felt abused or underappreciated, even though I did. The real reason is that I do not see what the need is for all of this idea of churches being run like businesses. My faith in God has only grown stronger as I look unto Jesus, the word made flesh. Someday, I will get this all down on paper. Ten years seems like a very long time, but the pain of it all was intense and cut deep. It was at about that time that I discovered Christian bloggers who were all about telling the truth. Truly, it’s the Truth that has set me free.
    But, if I had to name only one thing that caused me to leave at the time I did, it was about the issue of child safety. My husband and I (he was an elder) had attended several excellent seminars on child sexual abuse in the church. Since we had had an incident with one of our children which involved an abusive situation at our church with his AWANA leader (non-christian high school kid, but you know, use ’em or lose ’em!) we fought long and hard for training, background checks, and AGE appropriate workers. Then, a new pastor came along. He never was available when we would ask to sit down and talk to him about any of this, finally saying he “didn’t have time for this!” He came from another church in the area and brought his “people” with him. They filled any and every position he wanted them in. None of those set standards we had in place were even LOOKED at. Sorry/not sorry – we were out of there.

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  102. DebWill: Phillip Ryken, President of Wheaton College, is a Council member of The Gospel Coalition. So, as Dee has taught us, start connecting the dots–and dollars. Despite that association, (today) there are WOMEN on Wheaton’s Board of Trustees–a whoppin’ 20%.

    Let me guess…
    ONLY FIVE ON THE BOARD?
    (Four Men and One Token)

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  103. Done One: Then, a new pastor came along. He never was available when we would ask to sit down and talk to him about any of this, finally saying he “didn’t have time for this!” He came from another church in the area and brought his “people” with him. They filled any and every position he wanted them in.

    What’s the Christianese for “TO THE VICTOR BELONG THE SPOILS”?

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  104. Fedora,

    “We can let go of institutions without losing faith in God, or hope that there will always remain a remnant of true believers, even if we appear to be somewhat scattered at the moment…
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    i think there are true believers everywhere. some fastidiously dressed up, some ridiculously dressed up, some handsomely dressed up, and some so plain they go unnoticed.

    i think of a human soul, a mind. i picture it like an egg.

    over time it accumulates different kinds of ric rack. seems to me organized religion produces the most heavily encrusted faberge eggs of all.

    painted over to look one way. more paint added to adjust how it looks. well, that’s a start.

    its texture is stamped and embossed with tools forceful enough to dent and carve. still kind of plain, so webs of metal-plating are draped over it and glued in place.

    but there are too many undefined areas — couldn’t possibly be a true faberge egg. so metal-plated ornaments are stuck to it. jewels are crowded into corners and sealed in place. shiny metal braids are banded around it. There! now that’s a faberge egg.

    faberge eggs, easter eggs, cadbury eggs, chocolate eggs, the plain smooth egg in the carton… the plain egg that isn’t in the carton.

    they’re all eggs.

    whether sitting in the pew of the doctrine-heavy church or the one at a sporting event who’s never ever been in a church.

    now, my take is that it is much easier to be an egg without all the silly, heavy, constricting rick rack. but an egg is still an egg, whether it’s dressed up or not.

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  105. Done One,

    “But really, the real reason I am “done” isn’t because I felt abused or underappreciated, even though I did. The real reason is that I do not see what the need is for all of this idea of churches being run like businesses.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    the need is for job creation for professional christians. and to pay for insurance. and landscaping.

    yes, that is a big reason i’m done, as well. reduces the mission down to making pawns of people, really.

    i’m very sorry for the rotten treatment and circumstances that came your way.

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  106. Fedora: I’m curious to know. How many commenters are no longer active in organized religion? In other words, how many don’t go to church anymore? (Yes, I know the church is not a building, but you know what I mean.) As lifelong church-attenders, my husband and I are overcome with guilt when we think of not going on Sunday mornings. Ugh. For those that do attend, what denominations are represented here?

    It’s been over a decade since a little light went off in my head while suffering through a certain church service when I realized there was nothing forcing me to stay there. I looked at my husband and realized he had seen the same light. This came after a long, meandering path of one issue after another as we had kept trying churches of different flavors trying to find one that worked. Sometimes I’ve thought of writing a book about all our experiences. It could actually be pretty humorous but ultimately, it’s sad.

    After taking some time off to recover, we tried to find another church. We visited every church within driving distance and gave each one a sincere try. It was just more of the same. We could name what was going on in each one and what the issues you’d have to deal with were, but we found one small congregational church that had possibilities. It seemed content to be what it was, the people were nice, so we started attending and getting to know people. Then one morning the pastor made an excited announcement about their future direction and began handing out a stack of copies of “The Vertical Church.” Being aware of MacDonald and his issues already, we knew what was coming, and we threw in the towel for good.

    It’s been several years now. No interest whatsoever in attending church anymore but I feel like my relationship with God is more reality based than it’s ever been. It takes a long time to drop all of the rubbish that has attached itself to your faith from years of sermons and church culture. It’s eye opening to be on the outside and watch what goes on from an objective perspective, there is nothing like it. I often cringe realizing things I said and did when I was wrapped up in it.

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  107. elastigirl: the need is for job creation for professional christians. and to pay for insurance. and landscaping.

    yes, that is a big reason i’m done, as well. reduces the mission down to making pawns of people, really.

    i’m very sorry for the rotten treatment and circumstances that came your way.

    The minute there is a building and grounds and salaries to maintain, there is technically a conflict of interest. I think we fail to appreciate how insidious that is and the amount of character it takes not to let that be the motivating factor.

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  108. SiteSeer: It’s been several years now. No interest whatsoever in attending church anymore but I feel like my relationship with God is more reality based than it’s ever been. It takes a long time to drop all of the rubbish that has attached itself to your faith from years of sermons and church culture. It’s eye opening to be on the outside and watch what goes on from an objective perspective, there is nothing like it. I often cringe realizing things I said and did when I was wrapped up in it.

    I think I’m still in the early stages. It doesn’t help that my spouse is still a loyal churchgoer, and thinks I’m now a heathen. 😉 But little by little I am finding peace. I don’t think I would miss it were it not for the loneliness (lost church community, moved to new city and the homeschool nest emptied, all more or less at once) and the music. (We had a church with many trained musicians and sang traditional hymns. Our younguns all sang different parts, and sounded like a small choir. ) But every time I make myself visit a church, or listen to a sermon, all of the alarms go off, and I simply cannot go back.

    I have begun to investigate options for community service and companionship, but even that stirs up trauma memories.

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  109. Max: I can’t tell you how many church folks I thought I knew over the years that I didn’t really know at all! You don’t really know something until it’s in your “knower” … when you see it, you can’t un-see it … when you know it, you can’t un-know it.

    Amen, Max. Amen.

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  110. SiteSeer: The minute there is a building and grounds and salaries to maintain, there is technically a conflict of interest. I think we fail to appreciate how insidious that is and the amount of character it takes not to let that be the motivating factor.

    Absolutely! Whatever ekklesia I eventually find, it will not have anything to do with buildings, grounds, salaries or tithes.

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  111. Nathan Priddis,

    I was under the impression that the kingdom of God was the Mormon Church – at least that is what the elders seem to be suggesting.

    “More recently, other Church leaders have made clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is synonymous with the kingdom of God on earth.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “It should be recognized that this church is not a social club. This is the kingdom of God in the earth. It is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its purpose is to bring salvation and exaltation to both the living and the dead” (Ensign, May 1990, p. 97).

    In 1991 Elder Howard W. Hunter said: “We represent and speak today for a worldwide church, the organized and established kingdom of God on earth” (Ensign, May 1991, p. 65).”

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  112. TS00: But every time I make myself visit a church, or listen to a sermon, all of the alarms go off, and I simply cannot go back.

    I have begun to investigate options for community service and companionship, but even that stirs up trauma memories.

    I’m so sorry, I understand where you are at. It is a huge loss and my experience is, it can take many years to really process it.

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  113. Max: “Headed to Holland, MI to speak to Wesleyans there, and in three other simulcast locations across the Great Lakes Region. We will be talking about increasing evangelistic emphasis and focus in the several hundred churches across the region. Pray we make much of Jesus!” (Ed Stetzer tweet, 10 April 2019)

    There are Wesleyans in Holland, MI? Now THAT is shocking.

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  114. Ken F (aka Tweed): Well, I found one who is now speaking out (doesn’t have a gift to bury?): https://pulpitandpen.org/2019/04/11/so-about-that-james-macdonald-ed-stetzer-bribery-car/. He is not associated with TGC, so calling him a gospel glitterati might be a bit off. But is is a big supported of a different JMac.

    I’m not usually a fan of P&P but they told this one like it is. Interesting behind-the-scenes about the Heaven book.

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  115. Nathan Priddis,

    JESUS is still alive since his resurrection. His blood of redemption is there in eternity. Read the book of Revelation.
    God’s kingdom will not collapse. It’s in the presence of God which endures forever. The old serpent tries to divide it, but the effort will fail.

    Please read the book of Revelation and you will be blessed.

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  116. Lowlandseer,

    That is a claim of right of possession of the Kingdom of God. There will be numerous claims both focused on specific details, and also possession of the whole.

    What we know is this:
    ..”But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”…

    It obvious a dispute will arise as to how “Saint” will be determined. The Kingdom has great value and will be desired.

    That is what Calvinism, as laid out in the Canons of Dort, ruled on in 1619. The Heads of Doctrine discribed the nature of Sainthood.

    It was a court discision then. it is behind much of the Reform struggle in North America today.

    Why is it necessary to influence the editorial content of CT?

    Because the Canons where the Gospel and that Gospel needs to be propagated for eventual establishment of the Kingdom. That Kingdom has been entrusted to the hands of chosen men.

    Those that oppose it, are on the side of the enemy, and are themselves to be opposed. They will face eventual torment.

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  117. Luckyforward,

    The Neo-Cals are doing there own version of Sherman’s March to the Sea, big megachurches stealing away congregants from the small churches, then acting a lot like carpetbaggers. The historical reference just came to me. Out here in Colorado there is to much of a mix of denominations right now to have that kind of dominance.

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  118. Contrast MacDonald’s, Driscoll’s, and other megachurch leaders’ tactics with this verse from Be Thou My Vision:

    Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
    Thou mine inheritance now and always
    Thou and thou only first in my heart
    High King of heaven my treasure Thou are.

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  119. vinnie: Contrast MacDonald’s, Driscoll’s, and other megachurch leaders’ tactics with this verse from Be Thou My Vision:

    Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise
    Thou mine inheritance now and always
    Thou and thou only first in my heart
    High King of heaven my treasure Thou are.

    Definitely does not describe celebrity pulpiteers like those boys! Not enough evidence to convict them of that for sure!

    “No one can be loyal to two masters. He is bound to hate one and love the other, or support one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and the power of money at the same time.” (Matthew 6:24)

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  120. Brian: stealing away congregants from the small churches

    Some of these churchgoers willingly sold their birthright for a bowl of soup. They usually find out that culturally-relevant preachers, cool bands, and espresso coffee in the foyer do not fill a longing in their soul for the reality of the living God. Oh, they will sway with the beat for a while, but soon become disillusioned with the cult of personality.

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  121. Lowlandseer: “More recently, other Church leaders have made clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is synonymous with the kingdom of God on earth.

    President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “It should be recognized that this church is not a social club. This is the kingdom of God in the earth. It is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its purpose is to bring salvation and exaltation to both the living and the dead” (Ensign, May 1990, p. 97).

    In 1991 Elder Howard W. Hunter said: “We represent and speak today for a worldwide church, the organized and established kingdom of God on earth” (Ensign, May 1991, p. 65).”

    Hubris!

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  122. Nathan Priddis,

    I tend to agree with you. I do not think this sadistic serpent that is slithering through church after church is simply concerned with arcane doctrinal disputes. It is the tool whereby Satan intends to strike his final blow, and do as much harm to the true children of God as possible. Obviously, the best way to do that is from within.

    Most in the pew have absolutely no idea of what’s going on, as they have been mesmerized by glitz and pow. And fed with Left Behind Malarkey. All who preach ‘We’re building the Kingdom of God’ cannot be trusted. Scripture tells us that the Kingdom of God will arise with the return of her King, and only then will all be exposed to the light of Truth.

    I can only assume that this ‘peaceful, prosperous’ Church has been working with the Enemy, and that this is what is now being exposed through the cracks in the facade. Those who have prospered, building wealth and acclaim on the backs of the naive are not the servants of God.

    We are, indeed, in the midst of a mighty spiritual battle. The institutions of men, one and all, will eventually fall – but not without a fight.

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  123. Luckyforward,

    I don’t “belong “ to a church anymore. Frankly, I don’t trust most pastors. I meet with a group on Saturday evenings. We sing, pray, have a teaching, sing some more, and fellowship around good dessert. We give our money to support a few local interests. Our arms are wide-open to anyone who wants to join us for the evening. I’ve been doing this for two years – the best two years I’ve had in Christian community.

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  124. Feel defrauded or spiritually abused at Harvest Bible Chapel? A federal RICO class action lawsuit is being considered against the church and its elders. If interested in learning more, search: HarvestBibleChapelLawsuit.com

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  125. Fedora: For those that do attend, what denominations are represented here?

    We live in the Midwest now (grew up on opposite coasts) and are still members of a church. We’re of a generation who don’t feel “tied” to one denomination and between us have attended (from childhood) more than 1 type of Baptist, EV Free, Lutheran, and nondenominational churches. Current church home is Presbyterian, but it’s definitely NOT heavy on Calvinism!
    And we see all the church budget details, have elders and deacons of both genders, and all members vote on all significant issues, including the budget.

    So yes there are still decent churches around, but our antennae are still up for changes in the future! We appreciate the wisdom and hearing the experiences of those who contribute here.

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  126. Luckyforward: After serving as a senior pastor of 4 churches in NC and TN for over 25 years, I have not been a part of organized religion since 2001 … I loved the concept of “soul competency” as well as “the priesthood of the believer.” These ideas are dead and gone, never to return and represented traditional Southern Baptist thought.

    Those long-standing Baptist distinctives were diminished in the 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith & Message, one of the first signs to me that the denomination was trending toward Calvinism. The reformed movement within SBC life has also brought with it a focus on doctrines ‘about’ grace rather than a direct experience ‘of’ Grace, an encounter with the living Christ. The SBC I knew for 70 years, a once-great evangelistic group of people, has darn near vanished from Christendom.

    Thank you Pastor for serving the Body of Christ when SBC was more healthy.

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  127. Lowlandseer,

    That would be the church formerly known as Mormon. The current leader says that using Mormon or Latter-day Saint is wrong. So he asked the press to call that organization by its official name on first reference. That would be “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. On second and subsequent mentions, it wants to be known as “The Church of Jesus Christ.”

    A lot of people labled that as pretentious. Some people who have been in branding and marketing marveled at the leader’s willingness to dump nearly 190 years of the use of “Mormon.” Others thought it was crazy.

    And the Associated Press? They’re still going to use “Mormon” on second and subsequent mentions as per its stylebook.

    And that, friends, is news from the Intermountain West.

    😉

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  128. Coffee Man:
    Feel defrauded or spiritually abused at Harvest Bible Chapel?A federal RICO class action lawsuit is being considered against the church and its elders.If interested in learning more, search: HarvestBibleChapelLawsuit.com

    I wonder how that is going to work out. US courts tend to be allergic to church disputes. Filing complants with the IRS for misuse of the charitable deduction or a criminal complaint sounds more productive. Just My Personal Opinion.

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  129. I still want to go to church, but I honestly feel so unhappy and uncomfortable at them most of the time. There’s been a few times where I think PTSD has kicked in and I start shaking and wanting to cry and run out.

    I started looking for a new church a few weeks ago after feeling like my current church didn’t really have a place for me anymore. They have a strong core group of retired people who only want to do the same things they’ve done for 70 years. Even some of the leaders I talked to encouraged me to find a place where I might fit better. I’m just not sure it exists. I don’t have a family who goes with me. My family are mostly atheists.

    I don’t know what the answer is.

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  130. Max: Thank you Pastor for serving the Body of Christ when SBC was more healthy.

    Max, I am humbled by your thanks. I loved the time that I served, but when all changed, there was nothing left for me in terms of service.

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  131. Brian: The Neo-Cals are doing there own version of Sherman’s March to the Sea, big megachurches stealing away congregants from the small churches, then acting a lot like carpetbaggers.

    And leaving the exact same trail as Sherman’s bummers.

    164 years later, you can still get beaten up for singing “Marching Through Georgia” in Atlanta.

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  132. Headless Unicorn Guy: 164 years later, you can still get beaten up for singing “Marching Through Georgia” in Atlanta.

    When Sherman burned and pillaged a swath through Georgia in 1864, it was the first and only time in our history that American people experienced the meaning of ‘total war’.

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  133. Headless Unicorn Guy: And leaving the exact same trail as Sherman’s bummers.

    164 years later, you can still get beaten up for singing “Marching Through Georgia” in Atlanta.

    Actually, pick any place in Georgia other than Atlanta, because I live in Georgia and as a transplanted Northerner, I notice the culture as only an outsider can, and Atlanta is actually a cosmopolitan city. In the rest of Georgia, they call them “Yankees”. Atlanta is definitely not Deep South. Now where I teach, that’s Deep South. That’s where the Confederate flags wave from the back of the 4WD trucks.

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  134. Sandy,

    Thanks for asking, Sandy.

    Let’s just say that as a young man, I learned some valuable lessons about management. CT may have been considered “Mecca” at the time, but it was far from Paradise. I learned how arrogant, condescending and careless executives can be toward employees. On the positive side, I had a godly, humble, servant-leader for a manager; I continue to draw on experiences with him in the relationships I have with my employees more than 25 years later.

    I continue to work in the not-for-profit world and have been with the same organization since my separation from CT. Is it a perfect place? No, but I’ve been valued and enjoyed my work on behalf of the organization. I’ve been able to support my family and have been well-cared for in times of need, like when my son (successfully) battled leukemia.

    The bottom line is that God knew what needed to happen. He could see what was around the corner and over the hill. What transpired was unpleasant, but God had a plan and used it for good, for blessing.

    Despite all the sad happenings that are researched and reported here (Thank you, Dee!), God is still in control. He is the same one who saw what happened to Joseph and turned what was intended for evil into a blessing for the Hebrews. The Lord is able to accomplish far beyond what we can ask for or imagine. He’ll be faithful to His people and His bride, the church, and will accomplish His purposes to His glory and our wonder.

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  135. SiteSeer: Fedora: I’m curious to know. How many commenters are no longer active in organized religion? In other words, how many don’t go to church anymore? (Yes, I know the church is not a building, but you know what I mean.) As lifelong church-attenders, my husband and I are overcome with guilt when we think of not going on Sunday mornings. Ugh. For those that do attend, what denominations are represented here?

    My family and I have been at Willow Creek for the past 12+ years. (For context, we were adamant that Bill was wrong, the leaders and elders completely flubbed how they handled the situation, and that the only way forward was for them all to step aside and allow a new beginning.) We continue to hope, likely in vain, that Bill will one day repent, those who have been hurt can be healed and that the Lord will restore vibrancy and vitality to the part of His church that is Willow.

    What echoes in my mind is Paul’s exhortation not to forsake the gathering of believers. In some of my most vibrant spiritual times in my life, I have been at church not just to receive, but to give. And during those times, God has been kind enough to let me see some of what He wanted to accomplish by my being there: conversations that were encouraging and helpful to others. More recently, I’m recognizing a need to allow myself to be led in worship, singing (or at least pondering the meaning of) songs that I wouldn’t choose on my own. That said, I’m no paragon of spiritual virtue; I sometimes am discouraged and disillusioned by what I see or know.

    Can those positive experiences occur outside of a church building? Of course they can. I recognize that many who read these pages have been hurt by or in churches in ways that I haven’t experienced and can’t comprehend. I would never condemn those who maintain their relationship with God outside of a church. Still, I wonder if that isn’t a higher goal that He has for us, to find a way, trusting in Him (while being discerning and careful) to connect us with a part of the Body where we can be used and be blessed.

    May God bless each of you in whatever worshiping environment you’re currently in, and may we all be sensitive to His promptings as to what He has for us next.

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  136. Thomas055,

    Thank you for your reply. The church of Jesus Christ has always been imperfect—a mixed field of wheat and weeds. We all long for the day when God’s redemptive purposes are consummated. In the meantime, there are things that need to be exposed to the light. Your words said enough but not too much. It is the mark of wisdom to know when to be silent and when to speak.

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  137. Thomas055,

    “Can those positive experiences occur outside of a church building? Of course they can……Still, I wonder if that isn’t a higher goal that He has for us, to find a way, trusting in Him (while being discerning and careful) to connect us with a part of the Body where we can be used and be blessed.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I appreciate your very honest words.

    Regarding your comment quoted above:

    i think you are saying that one can be used and blessed outside the institution. Correct?

    Why is it a higher goal, a higher ideal, to do so in the institution of professional christians?

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  138. Nathan Priddis: This internal tension will exist at time of the return, as mentioned in Matthew 24. But more worrisome, it will passover and reemerge as an issue after the dispensing of various rewards to the Lords servants. This is outlined in Matthew 20.
    To be clear, the Parable of the Landholder is completed in the afterlife, post at least some initial rewards. There are specific servants openly challenging God, and angering him.

    You make a statement about a parable, assign a future meaning, and don’t back it up. How is that being clear?

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  139. elastigirl: Why is it a higher goal, a higher ideal, to do so in the institution of professional christians?

    I think this is one of those things that Christians are taught to assume is true but isn’t. There are a number of psalms that talk about blessings in the temple, but even more places that talk about blessings outside.

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  140. ishy,

    For me and many others the answer is small gatherings of 2 to 20 where we read the Bible together, ask each other the same five questions each week about the passage and then each determine to put into action something from the passage we just read. Simple stuff. Meeting in coffee shops, homes, or the park if weather is nice. We serve each other communion once a month and baptize new people who find Jesus as a result of our testimonies.

    Institutional church leaders bash these types of Christian gatherings as promoting heresy, but it’s not so. In 30 years I’ve never seen anyone trained in this pattern of simple church fall into heresy. By contrast, look at the tens of thousands led astray by these “super apostles” in their celebrity pulpits.

    I hope you can find a few others who love Jesus, who could gather with you like this regularly. I knew one person who advertised on craigslist for anyone interested in a group like this to meet him at the local coffee shop and people showed up! Others have posted on nextdoor.com and found neighbors who will come to their home.

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  141. elastigirl: Why is it a higher goal, a higher ideal, to do so in the institution of professional christians?

    That’s the $64,000 question.

    Why do we believe, many of us have always believed, that to be a christian means to go to an organized institution in an expensive building with paid staff?

    If we dig even deeper, as I have been led to do, why do we believe anything we believe? That can be very dangerous, as one can begin to see that much of what one ‘believes’ is based on faith – in men.

    For so many things, it is simply programming, conditioning. It is what our parents and grandparents did. It is what everyone in our ‘tribe’ does. And that salaried guy in the expensive building tells us that we need him, and his ceremonial baptism, and his ceremonial supper to ensure our salvation.

    Folks, this has been going on since they were first burning folks at the stake. For what ‘heresy’? Mostly for daring to believe they could be a part of God’s family outside of the Official Church. Constantine’s clever move allowed the murder of true believers in the name of The Church. Oh, they put up the flimsy excuse that they were defending Orthodoxy, whether it is a man-made definition of the trinity or the efficacy of baptism, but when push came to burning, it was all about control and money. Just like today.

    Jesus’ great threat was to The Powers That Be. He came to declare that they do not ‘Be’. All we need is to believe in God’s goodness and promises, and he himself will lead us to fuller truth and understanding. Nowhere in Jesus’ teaching do we find an authoritative, hierarchical institution with a new caste of priests. That was the corruption, and it has become so complete that most of us cannot imagine existing without it.

    Until, usually not by choice, we do. And it is freeing. We discover that outside of the strong arm of The Church there is life, freedom and peace. All of the things Jesus promised to us. We do not need to bow to some man’s theory of atonement (there are more than one, btw); we can read the bible and see it however the spirit leads.

    We do not need to quiver in fear because some man or men assert that outside the membership of their orthodox ‘institution’ there is no favor with God. It is a lie. We don’t need The Church to survive – The Church needs us, and our money, to survive. And the Christian Industrial Complex serves to keep us in line, just as does the Military Industrial Complex.

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  142. Thomas055: What echoes in my mind is Paul’s exhortation not to forsake the gathering of believers.

    These are days when believers in the American church are faced with a tension between two Scriptures: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” vs. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.”

    There has always been the Church within the church trying to do the right thing … but we should be ever diligent to discern if God has removed the lampstand from a wayward ministry and the presence of Jesus no longer walks in that place. At that point, we are doing church without God.

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  143. Max: These are days when believers in the American church are faced with a tension between two Scriptures: “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together” vs. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins.”

    That’s it in a nutshell! We hate what we see within, but are terrified by warnings from insiders that we will perish outside her walls. The question we have to grapple with is how real is that threat?

    Was Jesus really suggesting that anyone who dared do church outside of the Official, Orthodox, Institutionalized Church were worthy of banishment or burning, being a threat to the very kingdom of God? That is really the old baggage we are still dealing with.

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  144. Thomas055: to connect us with a part of the Body where we can be used and be blessed

    Welcome to TWW, where God is using the Body of Christ to inform and warn the greater church about wayward ministers and ministries to avoid. Many of the commenters here are believers who have survived affliction to comfort others. Blessing doesn’t only flow through the institutional church – it falls where individuals are moved by the Spirit of the Living God to ‘be’ the Church (which doesn’t always mean ‘go’ to church). Jesus came to redeem and work through individuals, not institutions. The institution we call “church” is OK if it is reaching the lost for Christ, equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry, and engaging the Body of Christ – each part – in fulfilling the Great Commission together. Anything less than that is doing church without God.

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  145. ishy: a number of psalms that talk about blessings in the temple, but even more places that talk about blessings outside

    Yep, read the red. Jesus turned to the highways and byways to fulfill His ministry when the temple would not have Him.

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  146. Regular church size: Good things have happened through the larger effort in this setting to send out missionaries, to catch the attention of the public for Christ, to network ministries for God’s purposes such as international charity work, revivals, broadcasting work, etc.

    Small church groups: Someday we might need such gatherings even more due to political oppression or other unseen factors. It is important that we have real fellowship with some believers in different stages of life and spiritual journey.

    In all context, it helps if we pursue God, not people or things of the world. Of course the word of God is our base, the Holy Spirit is our guide and more.

    .

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  147. JDV: You make a statement about a parable, assign a future meaning, and don’t back it up. How is that being clear?

    correction – Householder misslabled as Landholder.

    The Pararables have various chronological implications.

    The Sower has none.
    Mustard, and Woman hiding Leaven, span church age.
    Net, and Wheat and Tares specifically culminate in the Latter Time.
    Talents, and Householder span both this life and post Judgement.

    I recommend you review Matt 20. You will find the laborers are displeased with the allotment of wages and confront the Householder.

    The purpose of a parable is not to tell general religious truth. They are literal and factual, but created in a format to conceal truth from the general population.

    So to reiterate, there is tension in Heaven regarding the suspension of reward.

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  148. elastigirl: Why is it a higher goal, a higher ideal, to do so in the institution of professional christians?

    From what I can gather from Thomas055’s comment, he’s a live and let live kind of guy who realizes there is no higher goal than living out the principles of the Christian faith where ever you (generic you) are in life.

    The guys who run the CIC (christian industrial complex) are not. Their ethos is not defined in those terms.

    Like you say, they are professionals who make a fabulous living off the hopes and fears off the flocks they exploit.

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  149. JDV: You make a statement about a parable, assign a future meaning, and don’t back it up. How is that being clear?

    I wondered the same.
    Maybe you (generic you) have to have a kind of esoteric ‘spiritual’ knowledge (gnosis) to understand it?

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  150. Thank you, Sandy, Muff Potter and birdoftheair. You received my comments with both the spirit and tone intended.

    I’ve been following TWW for the last year or so, when things began to decline at Willow Creek. I don’t comment a lot, in part, because of the responses to my comments last night.

    They were in response to someone asking who was writing and whether they had given up on church or what their denomination was. I answered gently, with the understanding that there are many here who’ve been hurt or have chosen to take a different path than I. I made no reference to the institution of professional Christians and suggested no dangers of condemnation for those who choose to meet outside of brick-and-mortar church buildings. I specifically acknowledged that we all must be careful, discerning about where we are and must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

    Perhaps it’s my inability to fully articulate thoughts to those who don’t know me, or maybe it’s the inherent weakness of the written word, which can be read in a “voice” and with inflection very different from what the author intended. Perhaps it’s the reader’s predisposition/inclination to “hear” certain things, whether they are intended or not. Probably, it a little of “all of the above.”

    I’ve seen the pattern emerge a number of times over the past year, where commenters genuine, but perhaps flawed statements are parsed and nit-picked, sometimes pretty harshly, without regard for the overall nature of the comment.

    To reiterate, smaller gatherings of believers can be tremendously valuable in spiritual development and in reconnecting those who have been so horribly wounded that they have lost confidence in the organized church. In response to elastigirl I would say that just as caution is warranted in the institutional church, it is also important in smaller gatherings. One of the dangers there is that the group can become an echo chamber where we become surrounded by only those who share the same thoughts and miss out what else God may have for us that comes through others. (Yes, large congregations can become echo chambers, too.)

    We must also be careful to avoid spiritual anarchy,where we insist on following our own way. Scripture clearly establishes criteria for leaders in the form of elders and deacons, so some “institutional” structure is implicit. Just because some leaders have horrendously abused the authority — and responsibility — given to them, does not mean the structure itself is corrupt. And just because a congregation is of a certain (large) size does not make it or the people within it corrupt. We need to watch our hearts that we don’t allow past wrongs create in us an attitude that rebels against GODLY (not corrupt, abusive) leadership.

    The important thing is to be where the Lord has you, to grow where you’re planted, so to speak, and to listen for His guidance about where he’d like for you to remain or go. In the end, isn’t that how we will be judged by Him? Perhaps we could show a little more grace to each other and allow Him to remain in the position of judgement.

    Thanks for listening.

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  151. Hi, Thomas.

    in conversations like this, all we have are words. i think we all sincerely want to understand the points being made. we want to learn and grow in our understanding of lots of things.

    before i go any further, if i have insulted or caused any discomfort in my communication, i truly apologize. i can’t bear to do that to anyone. (well, my brother-in-law, that could be fun… pardon me).

    the repartee in the comments here can be very direct. like being cross-examined! 😮

    but there are some good reasons for this.

    some people have been tricked by sweet, smiley, and syrupy words to get them to embrace the party line (that benefits those with power, and takes advantage if not destroys everyone else). it is simply a matter of practicality (and a safety measure, too) to get right to the point and seek words that express what one truly means.

    some people are direct by nature and communicate that way.

    i imagine some are direct because the culture they come from communicates that way.

    it can come across as abrasive. sometimes it is meant to be. but it seems to me abrasive is a relative thing. like, i think abrasive looks completely different in savannah, ga than it does in new york city than it does in London than it does in tokyo.

    sometimes something is interpreted, as you say, with a voice and inflection that was not intended. abrasive fits in this category, as well.

    so, speaking for myself at least, i value your thoughts and truly want to understand. (enough to perhaps challenge them at times! 😮 Challenge me back. 🙂 )

    i, like everyone else, truly want to grow in my conviction of what is true and real.
    .
    .
    **BONUS THOUGHT**
    i love words, and simply have to understand what words mean (as they are used). it’s fun. but in this silly religion of mine, it’s a safety measure.

    because the powerbrokers like to redefine lots of words without telling anyone. and we have to learn by inference to stay in the good graces of the club (and apparently God’s good graces, too :|).

    i think they purposely keep the definitions vague enough so they can always win. plausible deniability, & all. (thus maintaining their personal power and the power of their brand). sometimes this is subconsciously done, sometimes cunningly on purpose.

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  152. elastigirl: because the powerbrokers like to redefine lots of words without telling anyone. and we have to learn by inference to stay in the good graces of the club (and apparently God’s good graces, too :|).

    My Dear Wormwood,

    I refer you to my former epistle on Semantics; specifically redefinition of the Enemy’s words into their “diabolical meanings”.

    Your Ravenously Affectionate Uncle,
    Screwtape

    P.S. Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the Enemy’s altar!

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  153. roebuck: Just remember, evangelicalism is NOT Christendom.

    Unfortunately, they have redefined “Christian” without any modifiers/qualifiers to mean Fundagelicals and Fundagelicals alone.

    Nya Ha Ha, My Dear Wormwood…

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  154. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes: That would be the church formerly known as Mormon. The current leader says that using Mormon or Latter-day Saint is wrong. So he asked the press to call that organization by its official name on first reference. That would be “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. On second and subsequent mentions, it wants to be known as “The Church of Jesus Christ.”

    A lot of people labled that as pretentious.

    Because it IS pretentious.

    But no more pretentious than some Fundagelical splinter church claiming THEY are the One True Church “Founded by Jesus Christ in 33 AD” (and all the others are NOT).

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  155. Thomas055: I’ve seen the pattern emerge a number of times over the past year, where commenters genuine, but perhaps flawed statements are parsed and nit-picked, sometimes pretty harshly, without regard for the overall nature of the comment.

    Thank you for your sincere chat here.

    You described well the challenges of communication in public in such a blog format. Actually I have at times found myself mis-understood or mis-read even while talking with others in person. That’s a built-in risk, it seems, when people try to relate to one another.

    I have been reading this blog for about a year too. Originally I did not participate, but later on joined in here and there. There are inspiring thoughts shared here even in the midst of discussing unpleasant matters. And people do care about God’s church.

    Perhaps we could remember that one can not share their ideas perfectly or completely in such short exchanges. Maybe we could avoid reading into things too much, and just let God fill in the gaps. I see your point of the need to be humble and open before God regarding our church/fellowship group choices. It does take work and effort to be around people who are not like us. Yet we love Jesus because He first loved us even while we were sinners. And He loves people all over the world.

    I am reminded that I need to stay close to Jesus while I try to recognize the wrongs around me so I can avoid it, pray for it or help correct it. But what Jesus tells me to do, I need to focus on that still.

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  156. Your Problem: “Point of No Return, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    Thomas055, Hello. IMHO This proverbial public ‘ether’ provides an avenue for the presentation and hardy debate of ideas, and as such (considering the subject matter) does not favor the timid. One is therefore ‘cautioned’ to act accordingly.

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Intermission:
    Seal – “Crazy”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj3gIqTsOXc
    Bonus:
    Billy Joel – “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9p3DzUwxI0o

    ;~)

    – –

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