I don’t want to look at other people my age in leather. Why would I put it on? George Michael
HBC male youth pastor charged with sexual exploitation of a male student under his care.
The Daily Herald reports on the arrest of 24 year old Paxton Singer who was a youth pastor at Harvest Bible Church-Aurora campus.
The charge is a misdemeanor whose sentence could be probation or up to one year in jail. He was also charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Between October 2016 and August 2017, Singer used text messages to entice a person younger than 17 to remove clothing for the purpose of Singer’s sexual arousal or gratification, according to a news release from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office.
He also sent messages asking sexual questions and asked the victim to spend the weekend with him, the office said.
It took 10 months to arrest him?
The article appears to imply that the church fired Singer last January 2018 and reported this to law enforcement that same day. It does seem a bit odd that it took the police 10 months to arrest him.
Scott Milholland, senior executive pastor and chief operating officer for Harvest, said in an email the church fired Singer on Jan. 7 “for cause related to incidents that required DCFS notification brought to our attention and appropriately reported to DCFS” that day.
Multiple incidents over multiple campuses raises multiple red flags.
If one reads that statement, the term *incidents* is used. Were these incidents related to only one child or were there other children involved? Most predators have molested and exploited many times prior to their initial arrest. This means the church should be diligent in making sure their students are safe. They should attempt to find students who may have dropped in and out of their youth programs at all 8 campuses.
Parents of youths involved in the ministries he worked with, on multiple campuses, were informed by email when the church notified DCFS.
Parents: Do not report any incidents to the church. Report these directly to the police.
Reporting the incidents to the church only delays matters. If you report to law enforcement, they will notify the church.
The case is still being investigated. Anyone with information is asked to call DCFS at (800) 252-2873 or the Kane County CAC at (630) 208-5160.
It appears the church allowed Singer to continue to attend the church after their alleged report to law enforcement.
If this tweet is correct, HBC made a serious mistake. This man allegedly committed a crime against a student at this church. The church should not have allowed him to continue at the church where he met the exploited student.
This information was reportedly given to church members in January after the church fired him. The church is in no position to help the predator *move forward.* Good night! Giving him special attention and allowing him to attend the church is downright stupid. Can you imagine how the exploited student felt? What if there were others he exploited in attendance?
Apparently the church realized how stupid this was and now claims that the alleged perp didn’t attend their church after January.
OK, guys which is it?
Milholland said that as far as the church knows, Singer’s relationship with Harvest, including his and his family’s attendance at worship services, ended in January 2018.
Time for all church attendees as well as naive pastors to get smart about sexual abuse.
Although it causes me much pain to report this, it must be done. After 9 1/2 years of dealing with sexual abuse cases in churches, I have come to the conclusions that the evangelical church has a crisis on its hands. I believe that pedophiles and other paraphiliacs target churches because church members are so-gosh-darned naive and easily deceived by a nice looking, oh-so-spiritual church leader. They look at some guy who appears to care about kids and think about how *blessed* they are to have him around. When they see him hanging around a kid, they believe that he just cares about little Joey. It never once crosses their minds that maybe the pastor is a predator. Until people wise up, these incidents will continue.
James MacDonald reflected on his 30 years in ministry and gives us some interesting quotes.
MacDonald was featured in the Christian Post in James MacDonald Reflects on 30 Years in Ministry, #MeToo, Millennials and Future of Faith in the US.
His view on pastoral sexual misconduct (Shut up already):
And so in every instance when calamity strikes, when personal failure is exposed, we should be looking in the mirror. We should be saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” We should be deepening our own reflection and repentance. And most of all, we should not be piling on and shaming others
His thoughts on how we treat the failure of Christian leaders. (Shut up already again.):
I was just having a conversation this morning with a pretty well-known Christian leader who had kind of sounded off on Twitter about what he thought another Christian leader should be doing. And I just privately appealed to him that we don’t do that. We are under very direct orders about how we can speak about other people in the family [of God.] But then people jump in and say, “Oh but Jesus, He called them blind guides.”
Well, but that’s false teachers, unregenerate people. And you can’t apply the prophetic portion of Christ’s ministry to our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we’re going to spend eternity. And in regard to them, we need to absorb disappointment rather than expose it to the eyes of people who don’t know Christ.
… All failures are a failure to love. This is something that I have come to with heartfelt conviction too late, and I can look back after 30 years of ministry on a loudmouthed version of myself with great regret and grief.
What’s next for HBC?
You’re going to hear a lot more about Vertical Church, our Vertical Worship is going all over the world, our latest was nominated for two Dove Awards.
…And we’re taking an unprecedented step as we launch what we’re calling “next 30.” We’re adding a fifth pillar, which is Unconditional Love.
I like the idea of unconditional love. However, it can sound like a meme with little meaning. Here’s a suggestion to make it more relevant and understandable. MacDonald should drop the lawsuits and invite everyone out for dinner. I bet it would do more for the next 30 years than the lawsuits.
More seriously, I agree about unconditional love. In addition, unconditional love on its own – without respect, wisdom, transparency and honesty, and a ton of other traits – is very dangerous. It’s what successfully-groomed churches show to the predators they enable. Not so much unconditional love shown towards the targets of domestic violence, though.
And a photo-finish for gold there.
Quoted fae James MacDonald in the OP:
Does this mean Mr MacDonald will now be suing
I do not understand why churches think they need to investigate situations that should be mandatorily reported to the proper authorities. They’ll call 911 for a pew member with a heart attack, but not for the guy with the dirty pictures of a teen on their phone, even when they are being shone all around the youth group. It doesn’t make any sense.
Rolling Meadows PD
The members see you directing traffic, drinking coffee, working security “off duty” at Harvest locations across Chicagoland.
You have my respect and I can’t think of 1 incident in all my time at Harvest when an Officer rubbed me wrong.
I have to ask..
Does it alarm you that alleged sex crimes against minors were being committed right under your nose?
I hope the departments that support Harvest set aside any partiality, temporarily disassociate, and investigate the gaps in Harvest’s story.
Children’s Safety depends on it!
Nick Bulbeck, drstevej,
You guys are the best!
Well, let’s hope so.
Yes…maybe it depends on the amount in the offering plate.
I need to give my own church credit for reporting to authorities and pastoral follow-up when families have requested it. I am thankful to be part of such a congregation.
“You’re going to hear a lot more about Vertical Church, our Vertical Worship is going all over the world, our latest was nominated for two Dove Awards.” (James MacDonald)
I suspect the primary reason a lot of folks attend HBC is to hear the Vertical Church Band perform. Church as entertainment is the theme of the day.
Is it piling on shame or protecting vulnerable sheep? Those comments are really disturbing. He doesn’t get it.
“We’re adding a fifth pillar, which is Unconditional Love.”
– James MacDonald
So, what is the biblical justification for unconditional love? Even God does not love us with unconditional love, but demands love, trust and obedience. Genuine love is a relationship, an ongoing series of interactions based on trust, respect, kindness, and so on. Unconditional love is a false distortion of true love, that allows selfish, unloving and abusive individuals to take advantage of those who have been taught faulty ideas concerning ‘unconditional love’. In a marriage, or any other relationship, the call for unconditional love sets the stage for abuse and lack of accountability. It is this faulty concept that has allowed abuse to continue unabated in the church.
People who speak of unconditional love appear to have adopted a Hollywood idealization of what love is. Love is always about how we treat another person, and we cannot properly love an abusive, oppressive and harmful individual.
Although there is a time and a place for forgiveness and love, should an abuser return in honest repentance, first and foremost victims of abuse should be protected and provided an opportunity for healthy relationships. In other words, words are never enough. It may be that a victim is never able to invite an abuser back into his or her life – it is something that only the individual can decide.
To claim that God loves unconditionally would be to assert that no man will ever be punished for his sin, repentant or not; which few Christians believe. I believe it is high time we stood up to the false concept of ‘unconditional love’ and demand, as described in James, that people put their money where their mouth is. Just as faith without works is dead, there is no love without the accompanying fruits, which are spelled out repeatedly in scripture. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, manipulation and other harmful behaviors are not fruits of genuine love, and no one should be demanded to tolerate them. In teaching such dangerous distortions, MacDonald is enabling and perpetuating abuse.
It is important to note that although he was assigned to a single campus or two, that Harvest Youth group does a number of multi-site activities, including Second Sunday, where all the campuses meet in one location. In addition, as a Youth Leader he may have served up at Camp Harvest in Newaygo Michigan. Some youth leaders work during multiple weeks as camp counselors over the summer. Therefore, more than a single campus should have been notified IF he was involved in these multi-site events.
Harvest also runs a school out of Elgin, did he work in any capacity at the school? Or help with Summer VBS?
Great post, Dee. The quote and pic of leather jackets cracked me up!!!
HBC is looking worse and worse every day by their own behavior and actions. I hope current and former HBC members who have information about sex abuse incidents not handled appropriately contact you. It’s time for James MacDonald to drop the lawsuits and for truth to be exposed at that circus (my daughter’s description of the place after visiting with her college classmates).
To claim that God loves unconditionally would be to assert that no man will ever be punished for his sin, repentant or not; which few Christians believe.
I lost you here. God is love. God sent his to die for us while we were still sinners. God corrects us in love. God punishes us in love.
Salvation requires faith and faith alone. Even this is granted by God. We are saved by grace and grace alone.
1689 7 Paragraph 2. Moreover, man having brought himself under the curse of the law by his fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace,2 wherein He freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved;3 and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, His Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.4
2 Gen. 2:17; Gal. 3:10; Rom. 3:20,21
3 Rom. 8:3; Mark 16:15,16; John 3:16;
4 Ezek. 36:26,27; John 6:44,45; Ps. 110:3
To claim that God does not love unconditionally is to add conditions to His grace.
The current state of comfortable Christianity bothers me to no end. Abuse and it’s enablers drive me to the edge of my self control.
I would argue that adding conditions to the sound doctrine of grace is the type of scripture departure that leads to the results based mega growth church models that are churning out baby pope jmac clones across America.
I’d question a mans faith “false conversion” over the doctrine of grace 100% of 100% of the time.
Salvation is of The Lord and not all that claim to have it actually have it.
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mathew 7
I am not questioning whether or not God is love. I am asking, is that love ever described as unconditional? I would assert that it is not. We are offered the love of God – as expressed in an eternal, positive relationship – based on the condition of our faith.
God so loved the world, that he offered unmerited – but not unconditional – grace. When his love is unrequited, as with those who reject him, it is in effect squandered, or nullified. I realize that this is different from what we have been taught, but I believe this is part of the great confusion of the modern church. We have been fed a distorted story of God, his love, his grace and all that he desires to give to us. His love, mercy and blessings are limitless, but not unconditional.
Forgiveness of sin and eternal life will not come to those who spurn God’s love offering. This love between God and each individual will never be compelled, and is only consummated when freely received and returned. I would suggest that this is the picture that marriage is supposed to represent, and, yes, I believe that the ‘no divorce, ever’ unconditional love we have been taught to believe marriage is is also a distortion. Love, to be alive and functional, must be reciprocal. No marriage can withstand the loss of love by one of its partners, without becoming an empty shell at best. Countless misdirected believers have been, in effect, consigned to the eternal hell of loveless marriage based on this misunderstanding. God allowed for divorce because the only thing worse than divorce is remaining in a loveless marriage – which is a recipe for abuse.
When we genuinely love God, as he loves us, we will understand this, and will never again entertain thoughts of sin, separation or divorce from him. (There will be no marriage in heaven, so our love for God will be undivided.) As God’s faithfulness has never been in question, it is we who have brought disunity and separation. But note that he will not continue a one-sided love affair with those who reject his love. Healthy, lasting love always requires reciprocity – that is, it is always conditional.
Not sure about that, but I know they will call 911 if a homeless person shows up outside of the church, I have seen it happen on a Sunday morning. It makes MacDonalds publicity stunt look even more ridiculous. https://www.faithwire.com/2018/10/17/megachurch-pastor-poses-as-homeless-man-to-see-how-hed-be-treated-i-cannot-believe-the-people-in-this-church/
Do you then contend that salvation can be lost?
and then there’s this
“When we genuinely love God, as he loves us, we will understand this, and will never again entertain thoughts of sin, separation or divorce from him”
Do you believe that you/we can somehow “achieve” this level of perfect and holy love?
From the main article up-top:
“The charge is a misdemeanor whose sentence could be probation or up to one year in jail. He was also charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.”
To the best of my knowledge, sex abuse of minors is a felony in all states.
How did it get charged down to a misdemeanor in this instance?
Maybe Muslin (aka Dee Holmes) can weigh in on this?
It’s really hard to say based on the facts before us. I’d need to know more.
Thanks for this post, Dee.
Two things I’d like to explain:
1) My tweet that you put in your post is a screen shot of a document that HBC has posted on its website here: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2018/10/23/inthenews/
Scroll down to last document under “Important Questions Answered.” Notice that the document is titled “Letter to Student Ministry Parents – Sent to Rolling Meadows parents regarding complaint filed with DCFS / January 7, 2018”. The title alone of this document is notable for two reasons. First, the letter (email) says nothing abut the church filling a complaint with DCFS. So why call it that retrospectively? Second, the title is (in my opinion) supposed to imply that both the email parents and a complaint to DCFS were done on the same day. But the “clever” use of the slash gives that impression while giving HBC an “out” later to say that the Jan 7, 2018 only applied to the date the email was sent.
2) You excerpted this from the Daily Herald (the Tribune said the same thing–the Trib & DH are the same company):
Scott Milholland, senior executive pastor and chief operating officer for Harvest, said in an email the church fired Singer on Jan. 7 “for cause related to incidents that required DCFS notification brought to our attention and appropriately reported to DCFS” that day.
My observation: THAT DAY is not part of what Mr. Milholland is quoted as saying. Why not?
I’m going to assume that the email to the reporter from Mr. Milholland used the exact wording of the Statement to the Media (which is posted on the HBC website here: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Harvest-Bible-Chapel-Statement-Regarding-Paxton-Singer-201810231.pdf
The first paragraph reads:
Paxton Singer worked at Harvest Bible Chapel as an intern June – August 2016 and as a youth director from May 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018. He was involuntary terminated for cause related to incidents that required DCFS notification brought to our attention and appropriately reported to DCFS, on January 7, 2018. Parents related to his ministry on multiple campuses were also informed by email on January 7, 2018.
I showed this in some tweets as well, but to me it is clear that HBC is playing around with punctuation and sentence structure to imply something that isn’t the case. In the second sentence, the comma before “on January 7, 2018” is (I believe) intentionally misplaced. Mr. Singer was fired on January 7–and the incidents are characterized as incidents that required DCFS notification and were brought to the churches attention (at SOME point) and were reported to DCFS (at SOME point), but the notification and report to DCFS were NOT on January 7, 2018.
So, to summarize, the article says that HBC said they reported to DCFS on January 7, the same day the email to parents was sent. The reporter based the “same day” inference on the HBC statement–which is, I believe, written with poor grammar and punctuation on purpose with the intent to mislead. And the reporter was misled.
I hope I’m being clear on what I’m saying. Happy to have others’ feedback on my points!
To be honest, I’m not sure I still view ‘salvation’ as something one ‘has’ and might possibly ‘lose’. I tend to view salvation (from judgment and death) as that which is promised to those who have put their faith in God when the day of wrath arrives. I believe that what we do ‘have’ is faith, about which, along with Jacobus Arminius, I acknowledge that scripture demands careful study as to whether or not it can be ‘lost’, as there are indeed many warnings in scripture, which need to be pondered. It is not something I fear, for I cannot imagine how I could ever lose my faith in the God who has done so much to demonstrate his love and trustworthiness.
I simply encourage all to keep their minds and hearts open as they seek knowledge and call out for understanding. I’m not out to ‘prove’ anything, or wage any battles for particular doctrines. I simply desire to better know and share the love of God with others who struggle along with me in a deeply confused and miserable world.
Increasingly, I see the message of the gospel as one of incomparable love and undeserved grace, freely offered to all who will humbly receive it, and not so much the stark story of sinners in the hands of an angry God, which I believe is what our faith ‘saves’ us from ever becoming.
I do not believe that God holds a standard of perfect law-keeping (i.e, perfection or good works), but that he will truly and justly judge every man’s heart. Thus, our faith and eventual salvation are not matters of whether we are ‘good enough’, but whether or not we are genuinely trusting in and walking with God. It is genuine ‘faith’ that God credits as righteousness, not perfection in thought, word and deed. (If God had desired ‘perfect’ robots, he could certainly have made them. It seems to me that he actually desires a genuine, freely chosen relationship with men.) God is not going to judge our doctrine, so much as our hearts and the outflow therefrom. Simple faith in his goodness and love seems to me to be a pretty good place to start, and I’m not nearly as concerned about working out all the theology as once I was.
I am in the process of carefully studying and rethinking the traditional teachings (traditions of men) that I learned as a child, and later. I am not so certain that all of the ‘orthodox’ explanations must be revered as unquestionable. Indeed, the more one studies, the more one learns that there has always been a broad range of interpretations of scripture’s teachings, as the immense number of denominations in our own day attests to.
Oh, and all of this I hold very loosely, as I seek to remain open to the teaching and guidance of the very Spirit of God, as promised by Jesus.
“I do not understand why churches think they need to investigate situations that should be mandatorily reported to the proper authorities. They’ll call 911 for a pew member with a heart attack, but not for the guy with the dirty pictures of a teen on their phone, even when they are being shone all around the youth group. It doesn’t make any sense.”
it’s bad for business.
very bad for business.
we see what the priorities are.
PD: I agree with both your respect and call to action here. I know how the PD members who serve at the Elgin campus are wooed.
They don’t know they are being used to provide a visual impression of safety while reports of sexual abuse of youth are withheld. It’s a sad reality but there is no place aside from their homes where a Police Officer can let down their guard. Please stay vigilant officers.
MacDonald: “And so in every instance when calamity strikes, when personal failure is exposed, we should be looking in the mirror. We should be saying: ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ We should be deepening our own reflection and repentance. And most of all, we should not be piling on and shaming others but we should be responding with grace and with genuine reflection upon the needs of our own heart.”
How’s about 1 Corinthians 5? Paul doesn’t seem to be looking in the mirror in that passage or deepening his own reflection and repentance. This isn’t to say he didn’t do those things when appropriate, but in this case, what was appropriate was shaming others for permitting sexual immorality in their body “of a kind that is intolerable even among pagans”. And Paul was doing this even though he considered himself the most miserable of sinners and was known for having taken part in persecution.
And as far as responding with grace, Paul had that on his mind while not using the desire for grace to exclude the need for appropriate rebuke and action as needed: “Therefore I write these things being absent, so that being present I should not treat you with severity according to the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down (2 Cor. 13:10)”.
I couldn’t leave out this from the MacDonald article: “Less is more does not reach more people, it doesn’t make better disciples. Only more [substance] makes better disciples. And it’s really hard work. Jesus was more gifted than any person on Earth and He spent three-and-a-half full years on 12 people and didn’t get all of them to the finish line.”
Is this a ‘needs improvement’ read of a fruit inspection on the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ regarding the Twelve? REALLY?!?
(If only there had been a B & H bookstand with a MacDonald tome on Biblical manhood located next to the money changing tables…)
More MacDonald: “I was just having a conversation this morning with a pretty well-known Christian leader who had kind of sounded off on Twitter about what he thought another Christian leader should be doing. And I just privately appealed to him that we don’t do that. We are under very direct orders about how we can speak about other people in the family [of God.]”
There’s this Paul guy again sounding off about this Cephas fellow — I know, by NAME, yet! And this is probably a long time after the incident, so what’s up with that? Where’s the nameless private appeal, given the ‘direct orders’ JM references?
Galatians 2:11-13 “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For before certain ones came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they came, he was drawing back and was separating himself, being afraid of those of the circumcision. And also the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically with him, so that, by their hypocrisy, even Barnabas was carried away.”
MacDonald continues: “But then people jump in and say, “Oh but Jesus, He called them blind guides.” Well, but that’s false teachers, unregenerate people. And you can’t apply the prophetic portion of Christ’s ministry to our brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we’re going to spend eternity. And in regard to them, we need to absorb disappointment rather than expose it to the eyes of people who don’t know Christ. And the constant bickering between Christians is really what grieves the heart of God and causes people to be disillusioned.”
One man’s bickering (or gossiping, sounding off, piling on, shaming others, etc.) is another man’s following direct orders on calling out those in the body who stand condemned, including when they are influencing others:
“14But when I saw that they are not walking in line according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before all, “If you being a Jew live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, why do you compel the Gentiles to Judaize?”
Again, Paul withstood Peter to his face and did it verbally “before all”, and gave in detail the reasons for it. Could some there have initially taken offense to such a public upbraiding to someone so close to the Lord and through whom the Holy Spirit had acted with great power — especially by a comparative neophyte in the faith who had been a persecutor of Christians? Could some have focused on the tone rather than the words? Nevertheless, did what Paul say need to be said, and was the body — including Peter — the better for it?
These are basic matters, yet how telling is it that so many perceived leaders in Christian circles profess to value standing on the Scriptures for their perspective, but so often appear to fall short of that — and too often in a way that suits themselves and their situation rather that walking in line according to the truth of the Gospe
And one more thing about Galatians 2: note the contrast of “I” versus the greater number — “all the rest”, even Barnabas — who were in error. Paul talked about what he saw as an issue that called for rebuke and correction, no matter how anointed and connected with God that Peter and others were, nor how much in consensus they were.
Why is it called “Vertical Church”? Sounds a bit like leader worship to me…
That is absolutely what pedos do, they admitted it in interviews with Anna Salter.
You can listen to an interview with Salter here, and there is a transcript below on this page:
Behind the Headlines: Predators Among Us – Interview With Dr. Anna Salter
There is also an article with this heading on CT’s site:
“Sex Offenders Groom Churches Too”
I think the problem is with many of these guys is that they want this idea of unconditional, no punishment love for themselves and other “specially elected” pastors, but that they do not really believe that should be for all Christians.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t be suing former members.
Hmm. Is this the same young MacDonald who excommunicated two of his elders and called them satanic?
I see. Well, that’s simple. Let’s suppose I’m a christian and I decide I don’t like some other christian or group of christians. All I need to do is declare them to be false, and then as long as I restrict myself to utterly denouncing and cursing them – showing them unconditional hate, if you will – it’s all good.
Eats, shoots and leaves…
As you point out, a comma (with a bit of word order) can radically alter the meaning of a sentence; and yes, you’re being clear!
People who do not report abuse, who delay reporting, or who provide comfort to the alleged abuser, should be charged with abetting the crime after the fact, for that is what they are doing. And if there is a subsequent offense, with aiding and abetting the subsequent offense.
And Peter didn’t say a word, he provided no argument to defend himself, he didn’t twist Scripture to support his position, he didn’t take Paul to court! He heard and accepted the correction … unlike JM.
Who of you, if any, would be willing to approach the local police in person? I’ll go.
It’s high time we pull together the verifiable facts and hand deliver them to Elgin Rolling Meadows and Aurora PD.
Let’s organize! I am willing to be feet on the ground. The public record including Harvest’s own attempts at spin are available. TWW and those that comment here are more than capable of crafting a verifable presentation of the events that should prompt further investigation.
Lets work together as the body of Christ, to document the complaint and hand deliver it to local authorities.
“… I can look back after 30 years of ministry on a loudmouthed version of myself with great regret and grief …” (James MacDonald)
Is there another version?!
“We’re adding a fifth pillar, which is Unconditional Love.”
The real Church of the Living God has that as their first pillar! If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem. Ministries need to be careful how they define “unconditional” … ‘love’ should never be used as a cover to control, manipulate, and intimidate the Body of Christ.
Amen. My thoughts exactly. I was in a church where unconditional love was demanded. SMH.
In my view only God would be capable of unconditional love. We certainly are not.
I’ve emailed the reporter to try to clarify her interpretation.
I noticed that JMac’s musings on ministry, as quoted here, included no mention of the victims. Telling.
Apparently mega church “pastors” have no category for people who are scarred for life by the actions of themselves or their underlings. That’s either a job requirement or a mantra: “Show No Empathy”
Perhaps I am becoming increasingly cynical, but I feel like we could merely exchange MacDonald’s “unconditional love” with the other buzzwords floating around like “forgiveness” and “grace”, and he wouldn’t sound any different than any of the other flavor-of-the-day pastors who feel they are above the rules that they lay down on everyone else!
Let me take a crack at loosely interpreting what I think MacDonald is really trying to say: “I want y’all to ‘unconditionally love’ me when the hammer comes down on this ministry and the HBC institution as well as your money all go up in smoke. Plus, I really don’t want to lose my cushy job and paycheck when the light exposes the darkness of what happened and where all the money went.”
To a New Calvinist, those words take on different meanings. The grace-this, grace-that, grace-grace-grace message of the new reformation takes on a cheap grace aura after a while … grace to do anything and get away with, eventually leading to antinomianism if left unchecked. I suppose one can tack on “unconditional love” with the reformed belief about “unconditional election” in the same sense.
Speaking for myself, I don’t have any evidence. I only have observations and questions.
Tribune says Singer appears in court Nov. 11 (which is a Sunday, so maybe that’s an error.) Not sure if those sessions are open to the public.
“[Singer] has been charged with sexual exploitation of a child.”
Sec. 11-9.1. Sexual exploitation of a child…(a-5) A person commits sexual exploitation of a child who knowingly entices, coerces, or persuades a child to remove the child’s clothing for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification…(c) Sentence. (1) Sexual exploitation of a child is a Class A misdemeanor.”
[class 4 felony for second offense, victim under 13, or at a school]
Hm. Wondering why “school” is included in the Class 4 felony distinction but church is not. Those settings are comparable.
It’s a shame these guys have rendered these terms meaningless. Much like the terms
“biblical” and “gospel”!
However, my understanding of “unconditional love” is taken from the Greek word that has historically been understood to mean the giving of oneself without any expectation of receiving anything in return, which is what “agape” love has always meant to me. Again, I might sound a little cynical, but I’m not entirely certain that’s what he really means by “unconditional love”.
I feel like Inigo Montoya from “Princess Bride” and I want to say to all of these guys, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means!” 🙂
Every “No” is a small % of the next yes.
I’ll walk it in alone if I have too. My point is, 500 + comments in just a couple days. Tons of “observations” tons of Links to public record. Solid reporting.
We all agree that enabling abuse is a major problem. Unless we are certain the proper authorities are at least considering the angles that are being discussed here, how are we truly “doing” anything about it?
Call me old school. I’m a face to face relationship guy. Why not make our case and walk it in. Many people dismiss “concerned citizen’s” blog comments.
It’s not as easy to dismiss concerned citizen in the lobby. Especially a group that is calling for the PD to ensure the protection of children!
I appreciate all of you. My time for talking about anything other than action is done.
“Perhaps I am becoming increasingly cynical,…”
it’s being realistic.
Excellent comments, all! Thank you for appealing to a narrative, which is, IMO, the best way to combat words from scripture that have been twisted into faulty doctrine. ‘Show us’ your doctrine in action.
JMac, and so many other celebrity religious leaders – all the way back to Calvin, and probably before, if Peter and Paul were correct in warning against false teachers – twist the words of scripture to convincingly persuade trusting followers to believe they mean something that they do not teach. The answer is in the narratives. The stories do not lie.
JMac asserts that scripture commands believers to ‘cover’ the sins of other believers, especially so-called leaders. He can no doubt twist many verses and partial verses to arrive at this assertion. The narrative exposes his error. As you illustrate, Paul did not hesitate for a second to confront error, even in the illustrious Peter.
I am done being deceived by clever doctrine weavers. Look at the narratives. Calvinists assert the doctrine that Totally Depraved ‘natural’ man can neither understand or do well. Can’t do it. Dead in their sins. The narrative account of God’s little chat with Cain (among other narratives) utterly destroys this false doctrine. God clearly warns Cain that sin is lurking outside his ‘door’ and that he has a choice to make. A choice that he CAN make, to do well, rather than evil. We all know what Cain’s choice was. And if we read the narrative, rather than the theology books, we also know that it was Cain’s freely made choice to submit to the slavery of sin.
Look to the narratives, people. If the ‘doctrines’ you have been taught do not play out in the stories, you have been listening to false teachers.
You got it. My former Calvinist pastor did it all the time. He was good, everyone else was evil. No questions? Good.
I’d say that’s pretty close. But you left out the part where ‘Never question your leaders’ means do not listen to the endless reports of misdeeds which have undergirded this ministry for at least 15 years. And we will let you know which ‘leaders’ you CAN question, as obviously the endless line of former elders marching out the door just proves that there are a lot of men disguised as ‘true leaders’ who are actually false. We will tell you which is which. And NEVER ask questions about the money, the mortgages, the LLC’s who profit from the debt on which your tithes pay the interest, the gambling, etc. “The business of the church is not the business of the church!”
Friends in High Places?
Like ToJo’s “Code of Blue”?
Cops and/or DAs as good members of HBC serving GAWD rather than Man?
He’s confusing “cover” with “cover up”.
“doublethink” and “blackwhite” in Newspeak.
LONG. LIVE. PASTOR. BIG. BROTHER.
LONG. LIVE. PASTOR. BIG. BROTHER.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses have already been handed a sex-abuse verdict by a Montana jury to the tune of 35 mil.
I think it’s just a question of time before big-name-big-bizz-protestant-fundagelicalism gets handed a similar verdict.
As much as many today besmirch congregational polity, asking questions about money and mortgages would not be an issue, and would even be expected. We demand transparency in our government and we should expect nothing less from our churches! I am thankful our church has maintained its congregationalism and rejected the ‘elder-led’ polity model our former pastor tried to implement.
Unconditional love: I either have or I don’t have unconditional love. I cannot suddenly make that a part of me or a part of my organization. I can however, allow for expressions of my unconditional love. For a molestation victim, my unconditional love is expressed through seeking justice. Unconditional love for the criminal that perpetrated the rape, who I work to keep in prison for as long as the law permits, I can be kind and non-retaliatory, and I can visit. Some people confuse boundaries as a type of conditional love.
You make some good points. I would suggest that we differ mostly in semantics.
Most who offer ‘unconditional love’ do so from a gracious, God-like spirit, even if one that is a bit naive. As a newly married person, or a young parent, I believed that I loved my spouse and children unconditionally; that nothing could ever make me no longer ‘love’ them. This is provably false, even if love is being improperly defined as nothing more than an ooey-gooey, warm feeling. Ask any severely abused victim how warm their feelings remain for the person who sexually abuses them or their children, or beats, burns or causes them other physical injury, or steals from them, mocks them and meets every loving overture with rejection and hatred. And a more authentic definition of love, which involves a reciprocal, ongoing relationship involving the sharing of hearts, minds and bodies becomes no longer possible when one of the parties can no longer be trusted.
Most who demand ‘unconditional love’ do so from ulterior motives, whether it is a spouse or a religious authority. The spouse or religious authority who demands unconditional love, or string-free grace, is demanding that you allow him to do whatever he wants and not hold him accountable. He is demanding that you take whatever abuse he dishes out, keep your mouth shut, and take it again and again. He is demanding that you take no steps to protect yourself, your loved ones, your friends or complete strangers from suffering the same type of abuse at his deceptive, manipulative hands.
Whether you call it ‘conditional love’ or love with boundaries, no relationship can be healthy and safe without them. This is as true of our relationship with God as it is with our relationships with others. God demands that we respect and honor him, not because he is an egotistical tyrant but because it is appropriate and necessary to a healthy love relationship between God and man. In response, there is literally nothing he will not give us, apart from those things which are harmful and dangerous. He offers us protection, comfort, hope and the promise of a far better world in which sin, suffering, evil and death no longer exist.
But imagine what would happen if he set no conditions. What sort of place would heaven be, if God did not demand that people treat him, and one another, with kindness, mercy, compassion, gentleness, etc.? That’s right, heaven would look just like our world. The abuser would continue to abuse, and the victims would continue to suffer. That simply is not going to happen. I would suggest that God does not love unconditionally, not because his love is in some way lacking, but because unconditional love is not safe or healthy for anyone.
I believe God loves us unconditionally. Does that negate His justice or punishment? Absolutely not. Do we experience His love differently than others if we love Him and have faith? Certainly. But God is too big to “need” anything from us for his love to be true or complete.
Well put and I concur.
Unconditional love was never meant to be the fuzzy-headed ethereal nonsense many ixtians mistake it for.
We have much common ground, even though we may not be in lockstep on all things theological.
While respecting the importance of the topic of unconditional love, I must apologise to Wartburgers the world over for failing to update you all on today’s cricket.
Keaton Jennings finally recorded his second Test century, scoring a career-best 146 not out before Joe Root inexplicably declared with Jennings just a boundary shy of his maiden Test 150, and England on 322-6. Sri Lanka now have 2 days in which to bat out for a draw, or score an improbable (and record-breaking) 447 to win. It remains England’s to lose, though the Sri Lankan openers successfully saw out the final 7 overs of the day, closing on 15-0.
Sri Lanka (the country, rather than the Test team) is 5 1/2 hours ahead of us, and therefore 10 1/2 hours ahead of the eastern US. Thus, there are likely to have been some wickets and partnerships by the time most Wartburgers are up and about tomorrow. I’ll keep you all posted.
I think it’s worth noting, also, that your original comment on unconditional_love has a
context– namely, exactly who is promoting it (a celebrity religious CEO) and under what circumstances (a history of love towards predators, but not towards anyone who speaks uncomfortable truths to him).
I’d maybe rephrase your statement along the lines of, unconditional love
aloneis not safe or healthy. I think we’re probably barking up the same hymnsheet, though!
To help out all of TWW’s cricket fans in Sri Lanka, I have translated Nick’s update on the England-Sri Lanka test match:
ටෙස්ට් ශතක 150 ක් සහ එංගලන්තය 322-6 ක් ලෙසින් ජෙනිං නොදැවී ලකුණු නොදැවී ලකුණු 146 ක් ඉදිරියෙන් සිටීමට සමත් විය. ශ්රී ලංකාව දිනුම් ඇඳුමක් දිනා ගැනීමට දින 2 ක් හෝ ලකුණු 447 ක් දිනා ගැනීමට සමත් විය. එංගලන්තය පරාජය කිරීමට තවමත් ඉතිරිවී ඇත. එහෙත් ශ්රී ලංකා පිලේ ආරම්භක පිතිකරුවන් සාර්ථක වූයේ ලකුණු 15-0 ක් පමණි
Me thinks that what JM may mean by “unconditional love” is, at least toward leaders, “unconditional positive regard” and “implicit trust”, a posture that is not wise toward any person in a position of power, whether a self-described believer in Christ or not.
Glad to hear. And my theology is undergoing major renovations, so who knows? No longer afraid to ask big questions or challenge the most treasured ‘orthodoxies’.
At the risk of seeming overly simplistic, I will just say this: I’ve been following James MacDonald for some years, and he is full of sh*t. He is a braying jackass. He is a money-grubbing grifter. He has betrayed so many people. Why do people give this clown the time of day? He needs to quit ministry and disappear, sell his million dollar home that he built with tithes (begging his congregation to ‘give sacrificially’), and give the proceeds to actual Christian charities. He also used said tithes to lose significant sums of money on gambling. The guy is a crook, he should be in jail, with any number of other phoney ‘celebrity pastors’ of ‘megachurches’. They can have adjoining cells and preach at each other. Yuck!
Thank you, I feel better now. A little.
Ken, you beat me to it. 🙂
There might be a rich irony in JM’s words here. The apostles, left to their own devices, would have built little kingdoms for themselves. They were, at least prior to pentecost, pretty clearly in it for personal power reasons.
I seriously hope this church gets stopped in it’s tracks and dismantled!! And there he goes again saying we don’t have to follow Jesus in his phrophetic fulfillment’s.. like why isn’t Christianity today or any other Christian media exposing this unbelievable heresy he is expouting??? He has said this now rice first in his Christianity today editorial then again in one of the above quotes. He literally believes actions Jesus did to fulfill Old Testament prophecy we don’t have to follow as examples of behavior! Please God stop his influence around the world that he is doing for his own personal ego. Sickening
I agree with you wholeheartedly!
This is great, TSOO.
Please keep teaching the truth. God bless you.
It is pleasing to observe the growing enthusiasm for cricket on these pages.
That was very public-spirited of you, but he’s probably watching the match.
Anyway, the latest is that Sri Lanka are 190-5 at tea on the fourth day. As improbable as the victory target is, they’re certainly not giving up, with most of the partnerships accumulating runs steadily. The 6th wicket is worth 46 so far.
Correction from earlier: the target is 462, not 447.
Update: Sri Lanka were dismissed for 250 after tea, completing a 211-run win for England. This is England’s first win in 13 matches away from home. England’s three spinners took 16 wickets in the match, which is the best return from English spinners in a single Test since 1958. First-innings centurion Ben Foakes was named man of the match on his Test debut; not a bad start.
The second Test in the three-match series begins in Pallekele on Wednesday.
Are you planning to attend any matches of the 2019 ICC World Cup?
You know, I really should; though with travel (and potentially accommodation) and entry, it isnae cheap. Chester-le-Street is the nearest venue, and it might be doable without an overnight stay; there are three matches scheduled there (Sri Lanka vs South Africa, Sri Lanka vs Windies and England vs New Zealand).
ION: I’ve found out how to open Pages documents from the command line using a function within
And, by extension, most other kinds of file as well; obviously.
The Calvinist doctrine of “Total Depravity” essentially implies “Total Inability” … which eliminates the free will of men. They have constructed reformed tenets of faith in such a way that they build on each other … one falls, they all do. Their theological gymnastics twist Scripture out of bounds … in their heart of hearts, I don’t think most reformed preachers believe half of what they teach … but the beat must go on; they bought the lie and must let it run its course.
WE ARE NOT SINNERS BECAUSE WE SIN. WE SIN BECAUSE WE ARE SINNERS. —R.C. SPROUL
I agree with Max….. further, when Calvanist get all huffy and say that “you just do not understand (reformed theology) they are admitting (to me), that they know their theology is inconsistent… or at least they are not able to explain it coherently…. the irony is, who can really explain, deeply, any orthodox theology… so, those that get “huffy” are just ( my speculation) unwilling to admit the limits of human understanding…… which is not unique to refomed followers!
Jeffrey J Chalmers,
I’m thinking of inventing the ultimate, one, final, true interpretation of christian-ness. I’ll probably call it something like “Nickism”. It will be intrinsically perfect; so, by definition, anyone who disagrees with it or thinks they see a contradiction in it will have proved that they have misunderstood it.
Endless fun to be had there, I think!
“A Tenuous Tangled Religious Web, Perhaps?”
Calvinism, which is simply a resurrected Augustinian substitutionary religious theological system (i.e. another gospel, —a blatant corruption; a mis-use & mis-construction of Apostle Paul’ words…) —is a coherently calamitous mega-madness. Please be certain to leave home without it!
Huffing and Puffing
Calvinism is a progressive five hundred year theologian’s religious lie, —plain and simple…
But it may not have ventured that way?
“Without the gospel
everything is useless and vain;
without the gospel
we are not Christians;
without the gospel
all riches is poverty,
all wisdom folly before God;
strength is weakness,
and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.
But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made
children of God,
brothers of Jesus Christ,
fellow townsmen with the saints,
citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,
heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom
the poor are made rich,
the weak strong,
the fools wise,
the sinner justified,
the desolate comforted,
the doubting sure,
and slaves free.
It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.
It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone.
For, he was
sold, to buy us back;
captive, to deliver us;
condemned, to absolve us;
made a curse for our blessing,
[a] sin offering for our righteousness;
marred that we may be made fair;
he died for our life; so that by him
fury is made gentle,
darkness turned into light,
sadness made merry,
misfortune made fortunate,
force forced back,
war warred against,
the abyss sunk into the abyss,
mortality made immortal.
mercy has swallowed up all misery,
and goodness all misfortune.
For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.
If we are able to boast with the Apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.
And we are
comforted in tribulation,
joyful in sorrow,
glorying under vituperation,
abounding in poverty,
warmed in our nakedness,
patient amongst evils,
living in death.
This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.”
-John Calvin, at the ‘entrance’ of his pen’d twisted, corrupted and distorted gospel. (Reference: Calvin’s Preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament. In prose. Adapted by Justin Taylor)
Except for you Pot Muffer.. Except for u. 🙂
I noticed your Comment first thing when you posted and have checked back every now and then to see if others might have agreed to come alongside you.
Please know I am hoping someone–many others–will choose to show up and be heard and counted. Be it the local police station or speaking to those in the media who can get your perspective and experience before the people of Chicagoland (and beyond).
My family knows what it’s like to face down “HBC DNA”; knows what it’s like to be catapulted; knows what it’s like to be told (in essence), “…hope you find another church, don’t let the door hit you in the behind.”
Don’t give up! Please.
Pshaw, that’s nothing new. Calvin already did it.
Why don’t you invent a religion in which you pillage the masses and live like a king, all while preaching of the humble, self-sacrificing Jesus Christ as if you know him. Wait, that’s been done too.
I beg to differ.
We’re a growing underground of dissidents in Christendom who no longer sign on to some of the old tropes and memes.
Well, I think you’ve misunderstood Nickism there.
Because I’m a balding, 50-year old man who’s mildly autistic; people wouldn’t follow me out of a burning building. Play to your strengths an’ a’ tha’.
Do you reckon “James” is ‘the’ James, topic of this article?
He could be
theJames, the brother of Jesus. That would be cool. #SOmanyQuestions
Didn’t you used to be “God”? 🙂
Well, since I’m now ‘Pot Muffer’, the thought is not without possibility.
You will always be Muff to me, Potter … no matter how the New Calvinists desire to reinvent us.
I am not JMac. However, I do star in a James Macdonald nightmare.
The name’s Injun Joe.
I don’t fear James or Harvest in anyway. I am concerned that while so many “say” they stand against these evil schemes, few are called to action beyond words.
I have been acting. A little here, a little there but acting none the less.
I’m praying for others to join me in a public manner by walking our concerns into the local police departments.
In the meantime I’m watching blogs, talking a little theology, and nicknaming strangers.
Much of what is currently being reported has been brought to light by our crew.
Rest assured We are not done yet.
That line says a lot about the leadership at HBC. The word “fear” should never come up when referring to a minister or his ministry. An autocratic church system which intimidates followers and instills fear is not of the Lord. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.” It sounds like JM’s “unconditional love” has some conditions to it … walk the line boy, keep your mouth shut, my way or the highway.
No doubt, fear is a fruit of Harvest Leadership’s spirit of deception. James has ownership over all of it. Perhaps there are others in the shadows..Silent puppet masters if you will.. Publically James is the face and his leaders protect him at all costs.
So many people are “tied” to Harvest in 1 way or another.
Work, School, Business Relationships.
As a “member” with no ties, it was easy to see the charm that many were under. Smoke,Mirrors,Kool Aid. Look up here. Repeat after me.. Turn to your neighbor and say “we are that church” Say it!
All as Macdonald’s truck backed up to the secret exit where his storm troopers wait to load it with stacks of Christ’s cash. Sprinkle scripture over the top and reference private conversations with the Lord.
More than a false prophet. James is a fake in every sense of the word.
Fruits don’t lie.. A bite into the pretty vertical church brand leaves a God fearing man washing his mouth for years to come.
I’m still gargling and will be for a long long time
I did. 😉
Someone thought I was being serious, too, which makes a sizeable part of me want to keep posting as god. I kind of need that stuff out of my life at the moment, though.
I am very interested in what you have to say. I am all for action, I just do not know the legalities.
But Fear and Guilt Manipulation are widespread. I remember them from my time in-country (a splinter Fellowship(TM) in the Seventies). Fear was everywhere; it was called “If you can’t love ’em into the Kingdom, SCARE ‘EM INTO THE KINGDOM!” Fear of Hell, Fear of being Left Behind(TM), Fear of Inevitable Nuclear War (It’s Prophesied!).
“FEAR ALWAYS WORKS!”
— Acting Mayor Bellwether, Zootopia
Headless Unicorn Guy,
“Fear will keep the outer systems in line. Fear of this Battle Station.”
— Grand Moff Tarkin, aboard Death Star
Headless Unicorn Guy,
“The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” 🙂