Learn and Discern: Harvest Bible Chapel – Church Discipline and Excommunication

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If you’ve been following the Elephant Room 2 spectacle with Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel, you know there has been some shakeup within the elder ranks.  More drama recently unfolded.  Below, you will find the link to the video of MacDonald and four of the elders from Harvest Bible Chapel issue statements on behalf of all of the church elders and publicly excommunicate two former elders.  It’s pretty brutal.

But first . . . . . check out this excommunication scene from the movie, Becket with Richard Burton.  Maybe you can compare notes from the two videos.

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A special thanks goes to my behind-the-scenes-elf who transcribed the nearly 6-minute video.  I encourage you to watch the video.  The words are below if you’d like to read along.

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Pastor James MacDonald:  I am so thankful to be a part of this church.  This church is such a great blessing to me and our family and I just want to remind you that God has entrusted a spiritual authority to the local church and every local church has an authority under God.  We believe that the Bible that the authority of the church is vested in the elders.  And that when the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church.  That’s about as serious as serious gets.  Here are four of the elders in our church that have a message for us that we would do well to take heed to, so listen very carefully.  These four men are speaking on behalf of the entire elder board of our church on every campus – listen now.

From Left to Right:

My name is Paul Inserra.

My name is Steve Huston

My name is Randy Williams

My name is Jamie Harrison

Paul Inserra:    All but one member meeting is successfully behind us. We come to you today further fulfilling our pledge for greater transparency with a sad but necessary message from our entire elder board of our church.  We need to communicate with you regarding the discipline of two former elders and their combined effort with other former elders, all outside Harvest working to discredit our elder board and destroy our pastor.

Jamie Harrison:  Three elders who broke with the rest of our 30-member elder board in June have continued to spread discord through their false and unrelenting viewpoint.  It was unanimously rejected by the elders over many months and with finality in our June meeting.  They made their point, we rejected their opinions, but they refused to submit to elder consensus, choosing instead to sew discord and create division.  This is a very, very serious sin, one that we are told in Proverbs 6 that our Lord hates.

Steve Huston:  This week, the elders received a letter with 13 accusations against our pastor and his integrity,  all of which the elders have already unanimously rejected multiple times, nothing new, just a continued refusal to accept the consensus of the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel.

If these men would express even a fraction of the constant and ongoing grace and humility that we see so frequently in our pastor, they could move beyond their bitterness to healing.  Their current refusal to do so is defiling many people and that is great sin.

Randy Williams:  Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh have been notified that they are under church discipline and no longer welcomed in our church until they repent.  A copy of our board resolution regarding their conduct was given to them personally, and can be seen online under Elder Updates.  Please pray for their repentance and victory over persistent spirit of superiority and self-righteousness.

Paul Inserra:  Together these men continue to lead and seditiously promote an attack on the credibility of the church elders, our governance of church staff and the integrity of our pastor.

Jamie Harrison:  Their goal is to discredit our pastor and to divide this church and we call upon the people of the Harvest family to make sure this does not happen. This problem is not new.

As Paul said in 2nd Timothy 4, “Alexander, the coppersmith, did me great harm.  The Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him, yourself; for he strongly opposed our message.”

Steve Huston:  Church matters are not to be tried in the court of public opinion.  Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority, for any reason,  is satanic to the core and must be dealt with very directly.   Those who have no standing in a local church, but continue to assault it from outside with factious messages must be rejected according to the word of God.  We warn the people of Harvest Bible Chapel to separate themselves from these false messengers. Don’t stand in the middle, don’t seek to mediate.  Please avoid these former Harvest elders at all cost,  lest you incur great detriment to your own soul.

Randy Williams:  To be clear, the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel – 30 men – who meet frequently and closely with Pastor James and know first-hand his character and conduct, want you to hear that we the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel are completely satisfied with Pastor James’ growth and grace, including the way he responded to the three dissenting elders from January through June, and sought reconciliation with former elders as directed.  Pastor James has gone out of his way repeatedly, to seek counsel, submit to consensus, and welcome and even solicit contrary opinion for the betterment of the church.  The elders of Harvest stand behind his character and integrity without reservation or ongoing concern of any kind.  Great pains have been taken to review and learn from these accusations. But there are no ongoing issues of any kind.   We are satisfied and grateful to our pastor for his Christ-like behavior.

Steve Huston:  We call upon the people of Harvest Baptist Chapel to support these actions of the elder board as biblical.  Titus 3:10-11 says, “as for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self condemned.”

Also 1st Timothy 5:20 says, “as for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, [which, is, what we are doing] so that the rest may stand in fear.”

Randy Williams:  Before honor, comes humility.  In one week, we gather in one service to celebrate God’s amazing 25-year faithfulness to this church, but God is winning a mighty victory in and around us today. Nothing is covered, nothing is unresolved, nothing is ongoing – only this attack from the enemy.  Let us examine ourselves, for unconfessed sin and seek to live in fear of the Lord,  lest bitterness overtake us.

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Ok – – so, this is a Learn and Discern post.  What do you see?  Does anything strike you as off?  Is this appropriate way to handle church discipline?

Now, I know there are a bunch of sleuths here and no doubt someone will come across a recent article from the blog, The Elephant’s Debt, telling the other side of this story.   I’ll post the link later on in the day, but I’d love to first see what you think of the video.   Can you resist the urge to find that article?  LOL  You’re on Scout’s honor.

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Related links:

Note:  I found the video on YouTube thanks to Paul Dohse and was able to embed it in this article (previously was only a link to the original video).

 

123 comments on “Learn and Discern: Harvest Bible Chapel – Church Discipline and Excommunication

  1. The first thing I noticed was that the “pastor” introduced the men who were about to defend him has having the authority of God Himself. He did not deem it necessary to cite Scripture for this proposition. Very handy.

    The next thing I noticed was that by the time these supposed elders were finished speaking, they had done their best to silence and destroy the credibility of perhaps prophetic voices by assassinating the character of men who, apparently, had found the courage to attempt hold the “pastor” accountable. The actual facts of the matter in controversy are nowhere addressed. I am left having no idea what is actually going on.

    Once again it is all about manipulation, coercion, power and control. Once again it appears to be all about maintaining the privileges of position and power within a private, man-made ecclesiastical kingdom.

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  2. A question occurs to me. “Pastor” MacDonald makes the statement that, “when the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church.” Yet four elders proceed to speak against two elders. How is that speaking “collectively in agreement?” Had collective agreement been manipulated by some coercive exclusion of the two elders? Just asking. I haven’t played the sleuth, and I actually don’t know. It’s just that I sense a situation in which the interests of privilege and power are arrayed in full combat formation against the interests of truth.

    I also question whether the four elders were actually speaking for the all the other elders. I once had a pastor announce to the congregation that the deacons to whom the pastor was accountable were in agreement with regard to a particular matter. I know that this was a lie because I was one of the deacons. Didn’t last long in that “church.”

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  3. “Please avoid these former Harvest elders at all cost, lest you incur great detriment to your own soul.” Steve Houston

    Wow!! Pretty audacious if I may say so myself!
    Using “wrath and judgment of God” to coerce people to stay in line. Very cult-like behavior. These men are setting themselves up like mini gods.
    First, they do not want any of these people to start conversing with the ex-elders for fear that they will lose members. And secondly, control is necessary to keep the gravy train going.
    What?! are these men the soul keepers of their church? Obviously, they think so. How would they know the outcome of mens souls? Is that their business?
    This quote really made me mad!!

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  4. Well I don’t purpose to know the motives of those involved in this situation but I share many of the same concerns as Gary.

    The elders speaking for God reminds me of the unscriptural claims of speaking ex cathedra held by other groups. This is dangerous because it puts the opinions of people on a level with the words of God and beyond the realm of challenge. I am pretty sure God has no problem speaking for Himself.

    I also have a problem with the way these elders are deifying McDonald by demonizing the men who disagree with him. I find this to be unscriptural as well. Voicing an alternative opinion is not sowing discord but simply presenting a different point of view. If it were then JA would have put me under “blog discipline” long ago….:-) .

    I am troubled as well by the instructions being given to the congregation to shun these men with the scare tactic of imperiling your soul by coming into contact with them. Again I do not find scriptural support for this approach. It violates the command in Galatians to seek restoration of those who “sin”, which I am not sure these men are guilty of. It violates the right of the Holy Spirit to guide the decision making of Jesus’ disciples.

    I am really troubled by their claims of transparency when the whole conversation is cloaked in vagaries. No details are given so that others can determine if the two elders are right. No details are given to determine if the elders are really seeking to cause divisions or simply voicing their opinion. Transparency is not achieved by saying a lot without saying anything.

    Finally, I am troubled by the fact that the passage they no doubt use to support this course of actions (Matt. 18:15-17) says that the matter is to be taken to the church/congregation. I do not see where that was done.

    Well it seems Gary and I are playing nicely again on this one. 🙂

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  5. In most of the church discipline situations I have observed, the elders speak for everyone — God, the ‘lead’ pastor, the congregation. The elders also don’t have a job if the ‘lead’ pastor says so — so who’s really calling the shots, and who is completely excluded from discerning anything, and who is worried about their income?

    They apply God’s name to this? Heartbreaking!

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  6. Wesley said: ” If it were then JA would have put me under “blog discipline” long ago….:-) .”

    Well, Tony Miano calls me a manly woman. When he said it, I don’t think he did not mean it as a compliment, however. But maybe that’s why I can allow your views that go against mine. LOL!

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  7. They seem to feel they are little God Junior’s don’t they? They pretty much sent a message if you don’t tow the line – as we see it – your out of God’s grace! Because afterall – they seem to feel they have to power to do that. WELL aren’t they special!

    Our Pastor is all that, and we will list all his Godly characteristics….and these ugly little elder boys are lying about him, and the church. Avoid them lest you be contaminated as well. Then pretty much hinted what would happen to you if you were contaminated.

    The old – don’t touch God’s anointed!

    They sound similar to the IFB when the whole Tina Anderson trial happened. You can almost imagine the pastor off to the side sniffing and almost crying – for show – over his hurt. He loved them, and they played Judas on him.

    They set it up so if you dare to ask for the evidence to show that these elders/pastor are indeed ‘transparent’ YOU might be scorned as the enemy as well. So of course since they are all so ‘godly, anointed’, and they reminded everyone how awesome they are. Take our word for it, and lets put this to bed…lest you are traitor as well.

    The first video listed the sin in full context, and the little god junior’s pretty much just whined over their character being question. One had substance, and the other? Nothing. They addressed nothing the wayward elder addressed – in detail – and from what I remember his heart was broken and he was mourning. They showed no compassion, or love for them at all. Talk about night and day.

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  8. It struck me this morning as I woke up that the people at HBC likely do not have a clue as to what is going on with the other elders. They may only hear bits and pieces, but if you speak against the “anointed one,” you would be shut down very quickly.

    The Elephant’s Debt blog is just like any survivor blog against a specific church. I am unaware if the HBC church leaders have told their people to not visit the site (as has been done at Sovereign Grace Ministries with the SGMSurvivors.com blog). So, imagine being a member of this congregation and this video is all that you have access to to know about any situation. You trust the authority in your church.

    When you look at the above video in light of realizing that this might be the only information that the people in the church will have, it puts things in a different light. You can see the strong heavy-handedness of this church leadership being “in charge.”

    I’m going to be in and out for a lot of the day, so here is the link to the HBC survivor blog called The Elephant’s Debt. This post deals directly with the video. The comments are very good. I loved the last paragraph of the article. It’s like they make rules as they go! Crazy stuff.

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  9. September 14, 2013 letter sent to Barry and Scott from the Elders of Bible Harvest Chapel wherein they equate their Elder consensus to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

    My understanding is those men left on the elder board are Yes Men who are fully committed to the direction of James MacDonald. These are savvy wolves who will call Satanic anyone who dares call their alpha wolf to account.

    http://theelephantsdebt.com/2013/09/17/an-open-letter-to-steve-huston-on-the-subject-of-satanic-language-and-speaking-for-god/

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  10. Gary W. and Wesley said it all for me. I’d like to know what the accusations were and if this pastor is all that these men claim he is. Why don’t they give details?

    Then there’s that “bitterness” word again:

    “If these men would express even a fraction of the constant and ongoing grace and humility that we see so frequently in our pastor, they could move beyond their bitterness to healing. “

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  11. Familiar pattern. It strikes me as wagon-circling, which is done to consolidate forces and resources for the purpose of fighting off a perceived enemy. It is also a culling maneuver to thin the herd, forcing a greater “buy in” from those members who decide to remain committed to this train-wreck, and the quiet departure of those who are doubting and ready to walk away from it. It is also likely a bit of a diversionary tactic, employed to divert attention from things like financial malfeasance, moral/ethical failures, impending legal troubles, etc, (the “big things” that people with badges, real authority, and legal power are paid and elected by citizens to address in our society–abusive leaders hate that kind of “interference” ). It also seems to be a cautionary move–publicly disgracing leaders as an example of what is expected of those who aspire to the senior pastor’s “team,” and what kind of response those leaders who disappoint the senior pastor can expect. (This move keeps potential, emerging leaders who are independent-thinking, unintimidated, and emotionally healthy from hanging around, or from aspiring to a leadership role in the particular church. Classic, strategic moves. Brings back memories for me, all wondrously mitigated by the fact of God’s gracious rescue of me and my family from an abusive church 17 years ago. He is a loving Shepherd, and I give all praise to Him!

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  12. Better sentence: It is also likely a cautionary-warning move–by publicly disgracing these leaders, an example is displayed of what is expected of those who aspire to the senior pastor’s “team,” and what kind of treatment those who disappoint or challenge the senior pastor can expect to receive .
    Sorry for the re-write; I’m still in recovery. 🙂

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  13. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:15, ESV)

    The word “See” at the beginning of this verse is a plural participle in the Greek, and I would understand it to have the sense of “you all be seeing to it.” The admonition is to whatever GROUP is being addressed by the author of Hebrews. The responsibility to avoid bitterness is primarily on the group; it is not a burden imposed primarily on the individual, although the individual has a part to play.

    Therefore, whenever “pastors” or other “leaders” attempt to shame and otherwise manipulate with accusations of an individual’s bitterness, those “pastors” and/or “leaders” are actually only admitting their own failure. They are admitting their own inability to discharge the duties imposed on them in their positions of responsibility. I would go so far as to allege that these “pastors” and “leaders” are revealing themselves to be wolves.

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  14. David: Thanks much for those links. That 2nd one came out after I posted the article. I have added them, in addition to a couple more someone sent me, to the bottom of the post.

    I especially like the new article that came out today.

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  15. yeah, ja, HBC in my book has now gained CULT status with JM’s latest puppet “ELDER UPDATE” video which i understand was shown at all the campuses this past Sunday.

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  16. I was completely unaware of everything that going on with JM until I read this today. Yesterday he we was just a guy on the radio I occasionally listened to when driving to work.
    Coincidentally I was listening to him yesterday, and he called mental health professionals “bone-headed”, and said that if you need real “Godly” help, to contact his church. It was the the usual “Sufficiency of Christ” guilt job that all people suffering from trauma have to endure from “experts in the field”. After hearing that I planning on investigating HBC a bit. Then voila, I got your post. 🙂

    Sound like the bonehead needs to go to therapy.

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  17. I hope you all got to really digest Ken’s comment – there is so much to absorb. Each individual sentence could be a whole topic to discuss.

    Wow, Ken – so much good info about abusive behavior patterns right there. Thanks much!

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  18. Yup, both of a narcissist and the personal care-givers that narcissists always assemble. So sad, to think churches would take it on themselves to publicly shame and attack their own people and leaders. Even if there was a falling out, a disagreement of ministry, etc., to handle it in such a way makes Christians look like we’re trying to be Taliban-lite or something… Jesus didn’t treat His friends like that.

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  19. Thought you guys might enjoy an earlier temper tantrum by James MacDonald that Bill Kinnon wrote about. Give you a bit of further insight into his character:
    http://kinnon.tv/2011/06/james-macdonald-satan-flip-wilson-me.html

    After watching this guy for a few years, reading the Elephant Debt, imagine my astonishment when Lifeway hired him to contribute to the Gospel Project bible study rolled out SBC wide..

    If there is anything the average SBC pew sitter would vehemetly disagree with— it is that “Congregationalism is from Satan” as James declared.
    Too bad LIfeway did not add that quote into the bible study materials.

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  20. “Good Morning Gary and JA! I am enjoying these irenic times. Thanks again Lydia for a great word.”

    :o)

    Now don’t get too irenic….we had some fun arguing about Patriarchy, too!!!

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  21. Most elder boards I have had the misfortune to work with could be a great study on groupthink at a higher level depending on the size and influence of the mega church. it pretty much becomes about maintaining the celebrity/system built. What do the elders get out of it? In most cases it is about influence, power and looking very pious.

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  22. The elders speaking for God reminds me of the unscriptural claims of speaking ex cathedra held by other groups.

    Wanna bet these Elders Speaking For God ex cathedra have nothing good to say about Romish Popery(TM)?

    Whatever would God do without Elders(TM) to tell Him (Biblically) what He Really Meant?

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  23. HBC in my book has now gained CULT status with JM’s latest puppet “ELDER UPDATE” video which i understand was shown at all the campuses this past Sunday.

    “Shown at all the campuses” on giant telescreens (which take the place of pulpits or altars)?

    Coincidentally I was listening to him yesterday, and he called mental health professionals “bone-headed”, and said that if you need real “Godly” help, to contact his church.

    The Church of Scientology?
    They say exactly the same thing.

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  24. lydiasop said~

    “Most elder boards I have had the misfortune to work with could be a great study on groupthink at a higher level depending on the size and influence of the mega church.”

    ooh….kinda like this conference I saw at Harvest Bible Chapel?
    http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/10780/event/event_id/365798/Act-Like-Men

    The trailer is creepy. You can feel the oppression and guilt for not measuring up to what they deem a manlyman is supposed to be just watching it. Works works works.

    Note the speakers…A29 prez himself….and Driscoll….and Greg Laurie? Keep your 13 year old boys away from these wolves.

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  25. ‘publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority for any reason is Satanic to the core.’

    Wow. They seriously think to much of themselves. I’m glad I don’t live with them! Could imagine being a spouse or child living with someone who seems to feel ‘disagreement’ with them for any reason is Satanic? lol or are they just THAT important only in church?

    Woah.

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  26. “or are they just THAT important only in church?”

    No, Hannah, I am convinced that coercive, abusive behavior is the fruit of the tree of narcissistic, sociopathic/psychopathic character–and the abuser/offender will be narcissistic, sociopathic/psychopathic whether at church or at home.

    Whether at church or at home, the strategies are the same: coercion, threats, intimidation, emotional manipulation (guilt/shame/fear), isolation/shunning, minimizing/denying/blaming, assertion of male privilege, and even economic abuse. These strategies are all taken from the domestic violence Power and Control Wheel (see e.g. http://tinyurl.com/mp3juh4 ). The only strategy I cannot easily transfer from the DV P&C Wheel into a “church” environment is using children to control. I probably just am not being imaginative enough.

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  27. I heard about this the other day. The hubris, the egos, among those elders is something else.

    There is an audio version of it in a podcast, if anyone would like to listen to it (the podcast host periodically pauses the audio of the meeting to add his views).

    The segment on the Harvest Bible elder guys comes after segments on preachers Joel Osteen and T D Jakes, though:

    HARVEST BIBLE CHAPEL’S STEPFORD ELDERS

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  28. @ Diane,

    ooh….kinda like this conference I saw at Harvest Bible Chapel?
    http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/10780/event/event_id/365798/Act-Like-Men

    I visited that page. I noticed there was a remark at the bottom that said, ‘yes you can bring your son.’ Isn’t part of being a father also influencing your daughter, if you have one?

    I guess it’s good they are at least acknowledging that males who are fathers should be fathering their sons, but it’s rather sad girls are cut out.

    #234 Daddy-Daughter Dates (STUFF CHRISTIAN CULTURE LIKES)

    Maybe if evangelical / conservative Christian fathers spent more time with their daughters on a daily or weekly basis, they wouldn’t have to sit through programs telling them how to be fathers to their girls, or that they need to schedule “daddy daughter dates.”

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  29. ”’Hannah,

    I’ve been thinking. You wouldn’t even want to be a dog in one of these men’s homes.”’

    No doubt you have strong point there. I guess I was being to nice. Their statement alone that I quoted should have been enough.

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  30. Regarding missdaisyflower @ 5:10 PM:

    So . . . . What with courtship and all, dating same-age boys is out. But dating daddy is in?

    Oedipal, much? Whose supposed to be emotionally supporting whom here? Staged intimacy verging on emotional incest, perhaps?

    If anybody cares, I could probably tie this comment to the thread topic.

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  31. I wonder if people from the Act Like Men conference are stepping on toes at Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – conflict of interest? I thought CBMW was the group designated for telling men how to be men? There sure must be a lot of confused men out there in Churchianity to need this much help.

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  32. Part of me wants to say that these 4 elders should be given the benefit of the doubt and trusted with what they say.

    On the other hand, I’ve been on a church board before, and experienced a situation in which we were presented with a very troubling scenario that some of us found shocking. None of us spoke up against the plan that night, partly due to being left speechless by what was proposed. The next thing we knew, a letter went out saying “the board unanimously agreed”- which was absolutley not the case. So part of me wants to know about the other 26 elders- where are they? As someone has already pointed out, it looks like we have 3 elders against 4. And according to this video, the other 3 were elders in good standing only 3 months ago.

    And what did Paul Inserra mean when he said, ” All but one member meeting is successfully behind us.” ? I didn’t get that line. But it made me wonder about the other elders.

    And part of me is troubled by the disingenuousness of the production. It begins with MacDonald in one setting- behind a pulpit at one of the church locations, giving it an air of authenticity. (Remember- this is a place they likely never let a woman speak, because the pulpit is a place of authority)

    He was speaking from a pulpit, but I don’t believe there was a service going on. It was a more or less empty room, and he borrowed the pulpit to lend authority to his words. The pulpit was a prop.

    MacDonald uses this pulpit to set up the following message as one from God to the congregation, to which “we would do well to take heed to, so listen very carefully.”

    Not, “Judge for yourselves the spirit behind this message”. Not “prayerfully consider what they are saying” but more of an assertive- you’d better listen and listen good because God is about the speak.

    Then, with a poor edit- we find ourselves in somebody’s office. These 4 guys are clearly reading from a script. I think MacDonald already knew what the 4 guys were going to say when he made his introductory remarks, and the entire thing is meant to do the very thing they accuse the excommunicated elders of doing- discredit them and divide the body.

    It seems like manipulation in an attempt at damage control.

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  33. “There sure must be a lot of confused men out there for the people in Churchianity to need this much help.”

    Seriously, Julie Anne. Some of the best advice anyone’s ever given me is the very simple, “Be yourself.” If only more people could just feel free to be who they are (or you could say, to simply aim to be like Jesus) and stop worrying about “biblical” manhood or womanhood!

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  34. It seems to me that these elders are only speaking “collectively in agreement” because they have driven out any dissenting voices.

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  35. “There sure must be a lot of confused men out there in Churchianity to need this much help.”

    Yes and some say it’s all us wimins’ fault (feminism) they are confused. Why do these people want to keep re-creating this “problem” of how to be a biblical man/woman for which they have the answer—for a fee? Because they are hucksters and want followers who think like they do. Followers = money.
    huck•ster (ˈhʌk stər)
    n.
    1. an aggressive seller or promoter, esp. one who uses showy or dubious methods.
    2. One who uses aggressive, showy, and sometimes devious methods to promote or sell a product.

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  36. HA – So true, Diane. I think I should offer a “How to be Man” seminar at the blog. After all, I have the title of manly woman – given to me by a machoman himself, Tony Miano. Aside from the regular male blog readers, I will charge the other men to read here ($$ to be used to help survivors, not greedy men). Let’s face it – we have the real men here. We have the men who stand up for abused in action and with their voices. We have men who are not afraid to debate with other men AND women. The men here need no classes to be a man. God’s Word speaks just as loud to them as so-called church leaders. I’m going to have to stew more on this idea.

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  37. “It seems to me that these elders are only speaking “collectively in agreement” because they have driven out any dissenting voices.”

    Good point, Ruth. They got rid of all of those “divisive slanderers!”

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  38. Greg said:

    Part of me wants to say that these 4 elders should be given the benefit of the doubt and trusted with what they say.

    I tell you what, Greg. I got warning flags after the MacDonald’s opening statement. Those first few sentences alone told me that he is a bully pastor wanting to RULE OVER his people and so I would hold anything from that church as suspect (even without reading the Elephant’s Debt survivor blog).

    I loved the rest of your comment. You made some great observations: judge vs listen, damage control, etc. You got it!

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  39. Julie Anne,

    For what it is worth, I am tempted to say that any man who calls you a manly woman is a womanly man. The problem is, that would be an insult to women. Well, whatever. Any man who denigrates women in the manner you are being denigrated is, I suggest, speaking out of deep, deep insecurity. They need healing therapy (which they wouldn’t receive) before they suffer correction. To tell the truth, I think I am being inappropriately judgmental here. But I just really, really have a hard time with bullies in general, and especially with bullies that beat up on women.

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  40. Gary W. I know he meant it as a deep insult. It just shows his character.

    It really makes me laugh because he’s the one who recently deleted all the comments on his post where he publicly defends CON. He and CON cannot stand up to legitimate criticism and instead use personal attacks or shut down conversation entirely. (Ask Ed how many comments Chuck refuses to post of his on his blog?) Personal attacks and shutting down conversation shows weakness, not strength. The irony is these guys are so hot on the topic of being manly men, authoritative preaching, proper biblical manhood roles.

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  41. Gary W I agree with your comment @ 8:20.

    “Any man who denigrates women in the manner you are being denigrated is, I suggest, speaking out of deep, deep insecurity.”

    True. It is obvious to anyone who cares to see it and has a basic understanding of psych. The tweeting some of these men do is astounding. Not only is it inane, but non-stop. And I am supposed to view these men as manlymen that would be good examples for our son? And pay to hear them speak in conferences? Good grief…it is because of men like these we keep our sweet and darling 14 year old son away from youth groups/churches until we can find a normal one in our area.

    Insecurity and projection on view here in this series of tweets form yesterday–it’s plain to see and sad. I am supposed to view these men as role models and men from which to learn manly man behavior? No thank you. My manly husband does not have the time to tweet inane things such as this. Well, Miano said it–it’s all about me.

    Chris Hohnholz ‏@ChrisHohnholz 12h
    Just speculating, not sure I would do it, but if I recorded a 15 min. podcast about theology, application, etc, would anybody listen to it?

    Tony Miano ‏@TonyMiano 11h
    . @ChrisHohnholz I would listen, and so should everyone else!

    Chris Hohnholz ‏@ChrisHohnholz 11h
    @TonyMiano You humble me brother 🙂

    Tony Miano ‏@TonyMiano 10h
    @ChrisHohnholz Nah. I’m just positioning myself to be invited on as a guest. It’s all about me. 🙂

    Chris Hohnholz ‏@ChrisHohnholz 10h
    @TonyMiano Aha!!!

    10:31 PM – 17 Sep 13 · Details

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  42. Very interesting, Diane. He smiles when he says, “It’s all about me,” but that is the behavior that he exhibits on Twitter. When he got arrested in Wimbledon for preaching against LGBTand released, he tweeted “all about him.” Then he started tweeting to a bunch of news outlets “all about him” so “he” could get interviewed. I could go on, but just go look at his twitter feed. It’s all about him and then he throws in how humble he is for good measure. For some reason the people who are “all about me” are also the most humble. C.J. Mahaney was the same way and he wrote a book on humility. These guys are so predictable. Just watch the patterns. CON reported the same story about humility (about Mrs. John MacArthur inviting him to sit at the right hand of John MacArthur) so many times that even I was rolling my eyes, it was so obnoxious.

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  43. “He smiles when he says, “It’s all about me,” but that is the behavior that he exhibits on Twitter.”

    The question I ask is….why is this in his heart to tweet out to the public for everyone to SEE in the first place? Sure he puts the smiley face there so he can claim he is kidding, but the disturbing thing to realize is this is in his heart.

    If it truly wasn’t all about me (Miano), if he was really and truly bathed in humility and not about me-ness… it would be unthinkable to tweet it- even as a joke. Not for the public to see.

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  44. Oh my, Diane – – check this out. More humility on display for all to see. Did you know that ChuckO’Neal is saving the world? I thought that only God saves – – and then, only the elect?

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  45. I wonder if “leaders” that prop themselves up on such nonsense feel or know the emptiness of what they’ve created. Sadly, I doubt it, but I’m not willing to give up all hope.

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  46. I suspect, Craig, what’s at play here is in line with what the writer of Hebrews calls the “deceitfulness of sin.” Pride blinds the proud. Lust deceives those who are, for instance, lustful for power and control over others. And so forth. There is a systemic blindness in operation here. And with this magnitude of nonsense there must be a whole complex of lies to support their efforts for power and control.

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  47. Craigvick, Monax,

    Perhaps all the machinations for power and control are executed in an attempt to further bury a repressed, yet inexorably controlling, self hatred–a self hatred possibly growing out of a conviction of inferiority, worthlessness, and general un-lovableness. If so, then I could pity these men, except that they are in their brokenness doing great harm to so many unsuspecting souls. Were I more nearly perfected, I could pity them now, yet I would still warn in an effort to prevent further harm.

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  48. David, I think you’re right. Self deception and pride fill the whole mess.

    Gary, no doubt there’s something like what you describe going on under the surface. I have the same ambivalence as you. I want to pity but only after the damage is addressed.

    When reading about cults I used to ask if the cult leader knew what he or she was doing. Were they simply charlatans or did they believe the machinations they used to protect their authority. At some point I decided that the cult leaders themselves really didn’t know the answer to this question. Self deception and pride leave inner blindness.

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  49. Truth is (as you know GW) we are all miserably broken. I don’t know a saint who isn’t. This is why doing Church by the Book is most essential. This is why our leaders must foremost model what it’s like to live transparent lives accountable to those they serve. Pastors / Elders by nature of their calling must be open books, so those brothers and sisters they assume to lead might be able—as the writer of Hebrews instructs—to thoroughly scrutinize their characters to see if and how they measure up to the Word of God we’ve all been entrusted to live by.

    Yes, Craig, they are deceived all the while they are deceiving! It’s a vicious, blind and downward cycle wherein they might just imagine their falling as flying.

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  50. When it came to the topic of spiritual abuse. Some internet writers and/or book authors indicated that spiritual abuse was deliberate while others said that they didn’t think that clergy always knew what they were doing. This makes for a problem in trying to understand this type of behavior. That is, was it unpremeditated harsh treatment of congregants that just happened along the way OR was it premeditated controlling behavior? My final analysis seemed to indicate that spiritual abusers know what they are doing. They have developed a smooth and deceptive form of control that they have fine tuned and polished over time.

    Now when it comes to some of the other behaviors that have been mentioned, that seems to be up for ongoing discussion.

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  51. Monax writes, “. . . our leaders must foremost model what it’s like to live transparent lives accountable to those they serve. Pastors / Elders by nature of their calling must be open books, so those brothers and sisters they assume to lead might be able—as the writer of Hebrews instructs—to thoroughly scrutinize their characters to see if and how they measure up to the Word of God we’ve all been entrusted to live by.”

    But Monax! Who, then, would ever be qualify to lead? Who would or could ever be that open, that vulnerable? Not saying you aren’t right, but

    IT WOULD REQUIRE AN ANTIDOTE TO SHAME!!

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  52. Well, Barb, we know that narcissists believe their own lies, so that creates quite a problem. And I read an article from an Australian source claiming that pastors were one of the top 10 professions for narcissists. So, by those findings, there are at least some pastors who have no clue what they are doing. That’s a scary thought.

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  53. Where the spiritual abuse is unwitting we’ll probably find a sick culture that perpetuates it systematically. If one’s born into it—it becomes a natural way of relating, a learned behavior.

    I’m gonna guess, Barb, that Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald both are very aware of their abuses. Certainly they must be; these are smart fellows. And as I’m trying to wrap my head around how they can allow themselves to do and say what they do and say I can only wonder How they can honestly live with themselves? I feel like I’m just left with this assumption that their hearts must be hardened by the deceitfulness of their sins. What else can I think?

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  54. Monax wrote, “…I can only wonder How they can honestly live with themselves? I feel like I’m just left with this assumption that their hearts must be hardened by the deceitfulness of their sins.”

    Having experienced exactly this treatment myself (forced into resigning my eldership, barred from any ministry within my ‘church’ and finally driven out of the fellowship by further abuse) that is the only conclusion I could come to. It scares me where these people are at to make them think that treating brothers and sisters with such contempt is actually ok (and even righteous!).

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  55. Self deception points to a middle way, a both and. A person who is self deceived both knows and doesn’t know – a good picture of what James might mean when he talks about being double minded. There is the self that deceives and the self that is deceived (believes its own lies).

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  56. Well, if we read about Moses’ and Joshua’s calling by Yahweh, you see that any push back on their leadership was pretty much treated with death. So then, the idea that anyone who pushes back on clergy is in the wrong and must be ‘dealt with’ so that others are not contaminated in the flock should be common practice. Dealing with dissenters can be easily found and followed as the OT paradigm of leadership. Problem is, we are not in the OT times any longer! Thus endeth the lesson.

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  57. “A person who is self deceived both knows and doesn’t know – a good picture of what James might mean when he talks about being double minded. There is the self that deceives and the self that is deceived (believes its own lies).”

    Thank you – this paints a clear picture for me and makes so much sense!

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  58. It would take me many hours to read all that, Gary. If you have, can you break it down for me in a few sentences this idea of SHAME that would be a concern for leaders?

    Personally, I am ashamed of many things I have done in my life. I don’t have to confess them openly to others, just to God and to my most trusted friends. And I certainly don’t hold my head in shame—for I have been forgiven these many sins. I’m a different man than the man or boy who did those shameful things before. I leave those things behind, put them away, and see the image of my self through our Father’s eyes, so I am completely free of shame. I’m also thankful that He has miraculously kept me from doing many foolish and sinful things.

    I think one of the most effective testaments to the power of God’s grace in our lives comes through humble pastors, teachers, brothers and sisters openly confessing their abject brokenness, and how God is affecting a wonderful process of healing in our lives, how He’s shaping all of us into His lovely, holy and perfect image.

    There must be transparency in our lives if we want to shine brightly as lights to others. I’d suggest it takes a strong person to allow himself / herself to openly appear weak and vulnerable. But it’s precisely there in our confessed weakness where God’s power is made most perfect, his grace proven most sufficient (2 Cor. 12).

    “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

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  59. One of the reasons I stressed how our leaders must foremost model what it’s like to live transparent lives accountable to those they serve is because this is precisely the crux upon which the many abuses are allowed to go unchecked. Neither JM or MD have opened themselves up to being honestly accountable to others (they say they are, but their elder boards are but puppet sessions).

    While I’m hammering this I’d like to suggest the accountability these pastors have are not just to their sessions, but to their congregations, and ultimately—when that fails—to the church at large.

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  60. monax, Yes, unless I just overlooked something, I have read Brenda’s entire blog, but the link I provided above brings up only five articles, which deal with shame. You could likely digest them in half an hour, or maybe an hour if you are a slow reader like me. Still, this from Brenda’s article titled Reflections on Shame should suffice for a definition:

    “Another psychologist/philosopher/deep thinker [http://drkellyflanagan.com/2013/03/] suggests that ‘original sin’ is really ‘original shame.’ Rather than coming into the world with a debased ‘sin nature,’ we come into the world with the seeds of shame in our core, just waiting for the right conditions in which to germinate. He writes, ‘Shame is the lie that our worthiness has gone missing. Shame is the belief that what is inside of us–the substance of who we are– is rotten and makes us unworthy of love and belonging.’ (Flannagan, see link above). Sin, according to Dr. Flannagan, is in the search for worthiness, significance, belonging and connection outside of ourselves. And the cure for this human condition is grace–realizing that our worthiness was never missing and that we are loved just the way we are.”

    So, I also recommend the article at the drkellyflanagan link. And from this link, let me repeat: “Shame is the lie that our worthiness has gone missing. Shame is the belief that what is inside of us—the substance of who we are—is rotten and makes us unworthy of love and belonging.”

    So from this, and also drawing from something I think I recall having been written by John Loren Sandford and his wife, Paula: Guilt says I did a bad act. Shame says I AM bad. Guilty acts may lead us to be ashamed, to think of ourselves as bad, but shame drives us to strive, in sinful ways, to overcome the shame, the sense of unworthiness–and it all accumulates into a vicious vortex pulling us ever downward into the very pits of an emotional, and possibly eschatological, abyss.

    Shame is the very thing that makes it impossible, or seems to make it impossible, for me to be entirely open, transparent and accountable. You say that you need only reveal yourself fully to the few and the trusted, but I say that is not being fully transparent, as you seem to have recommend for those who would lead. I agree that leaders, ideally, should be transparent. But: How transparent should leaders be? Is there room for privacy and, if so, how so? Whence comes the courage for whatever degree of transparency is required? Are there answers to the questions?

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  61. “…I can only wonder How they can honestly live with themselves? I feel like I’m just left with this assumption that their hearts must be hardened by the deceitfulness of their sins.”

    They don’t see it as sin. They live with themselves just fine. They really do believe they are doing great things for God. The deceitfulness is their normal. The only problem comes is when there is dissention within the small group of men who are the rulers. That can get real nasty but it is usually kept behind closed doors. The only reason you are seeing the ridiculousness now is because of that PUBLIC dissention. Then when it becomes public, people can see how evil it all really is if they are honest with themselves. But people have a hard time admitting they have supported something that was that bad.

    The fault really lies with the congregation who funded it all, never asked to see a budget and believed that a small group of men spoke for God to them. That is where we need to focus our efforts. The charlatans will always be with us. The question is, why do people follow them to such an extent and even pay them so much money to tell them what to think?

    After being on the other side of the fence, I now nicely suggest to people they do not have to check their brains at the door to attend church. Ask to see a budget. If there is any awkwardness over that and the leaders act all hurt over it or tell you that is not how it is done (they will say it is “biblical” to have elders, btw) , then you know you don’t need to be there. It is “biblical” for you to be a good steward of your own time and money, too. If you do not get to vote on decisions, it is not a church for you. Unless you like checking your brains at the door to attend church. And a lot of people do. I know I did. Never again, though.

    The last thing we need to do is ask Christian leaders to behave as Christians. That very thought is the problem. Run!

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  62. ” My final analysis seemed to indicate that spiritual abusers know what they are doing. They have developed a smooth and deceptive form of control that they have fine tuned and polished over time”

    Barb, I would suggest spending some time around some mega church pastors and their close staff/advisors which would likely be staff ministers/elders. You would not believe what dwarf thinkers they tend to be. They are isolated and insulated. They have no clue of the real world at all.

    Truth is, they really have nothing to teach the average pew sitter at all in terms of practical Christianity in every day life. Nothing. Nada. Zip. They have no concept of every day life at work, in the world. They think they do because they will recall those early days but truth is, they are scared to death to even think about going back to those early days. They hated it.

    I wish more folks would realize this. They have no concept of “spiritual abuse” because their goal in life is maintaining the system they function within. Whatever maintains the system is good. It has to be because it is about them and God wants it that way. It is self deluding for folks to think it is any other way.

    My point is that what passes for American Christianity in places like Harvest is sick and delusional behind the stage. People rarely get a glimpse of it and when they do, they tend not to believe what they see or rationalize it away. It is so sick, it is like peeling back layers on an onion that is rotten to the core. Most folks don’t make it past a few layers. They don’t want to believe it is really that rotten. It is.

    And it is our fault for funding it and sitting in their pews. Because they ARE “their” pews. It has nothing at all to do with Jesus. That is the real irony.

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  63. I did read a bit through Brenda’s blog, thank you for the link. In my eyes, Gary, anyone suffering from the sort of shame you’ve described would certainly not be healthy or mature enough to be a pastor / elder in the church. Any issues of shame would have to be dealt with before aspiring to such leadership.

    How transparent should we be? and Is there room for privacy?

    I’m a fairly private person, as I know you are too. My personal business really truly is my personal business. I’m all about clear and respectful boundaries for everyone. And, I guess, each unique context will determine where those proper lines might fall.

    As James MacDonald is responsible for putting HBC 65 million dollars plus in debt, and then for him to refuse to release his own personal church salary to his own elders is WAY out of bounds!

    There is no transparency or accountability with JM—and it speaks to his integrity, and to his shame.

    Transparency for me (while maintaining my privacy) is living authentically, interfacing with others through a pure heart. It means integrity, humility, willing to become nothing so that others might have it all.

    A transparency that’s willing to share his own brokenness so that others might identify and be strengthened and perhaps even delivered and healed. A transparency that wears no masks, puts on no airs, that hides behind no pretenses. A This Little Light Of Mine kind of thing.

    I guess I’m wanting to describe a certain transparency that SHINES

    Whence cometh the courage for our transparency?

    I believe it is found in love. Perfect love casts out fear. So it’s not even courage that fuels us because courage is a response to fear. Without fear this transparency is our life of love. It’s as freakin’ natural as being in Christ and living to his glory.

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  64. Just in case anyone missed it the first time around:

    Transparency for me (while maintaining my privacy) is living authentically, interfacing with others through a pure heart. It means integrity, humility, willing to become nothing so that others might have it all.

    A transparency that’s willing to share his own brokenness so that others might identify and be strengthened and perhaps even delivered and healed. A transparency that wears no masks, puts on no airs, that hides behind no pretenses. A This Little Light Of Mine kind of thing.

    I guess I’m wanting to describe a certain transparency that SHINES

    Whence cometh the courage for our transparency?

    I believe it is found in love. Perfect love casts out fear. So it’s not even courage that fuels us because courage is a response to fear. Without fear this transparency is our life of love. It’s as freakin’ natural as being in Christ and living to his glory.

    Amen, David. I love your transparency. I love that whole freakin- comment 🙂

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  65. And as I’m trying to wrap my head around how they can allow themselves to do and say what they do and say I can only wonder How they can honestly live with themselves? — Monax

    Very easily. Trivially, even. When your universe is only big enough for yourself and all others don’t really exist at all. Except as Resources or Reflections of yourself. And how can you harm what doesn’t really exist?

    I grew up with a narcissist/sociopath in my immediate family. No problem at all.

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  66. So interesting when people weigh in and speculate about a church I actually attend. Many off base speculations here. Reminds me of a podcast I listened to that suggested MacDonald knows nothing about race issues. Apparently the host and guest did not know his son-in-law is African-American.

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  67. How can James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll live with themselves? Very easily. Trivially, even. When your universe is only big enough for yourself and all others don’t really exist at all. Except as Resources or Reflections of yourself. And how can you harm what doesn’t really exist?

    I grew up with a narcissist/sociopath in my immediate family. No problem at all. —HUG

    This is absolutely hilarious what you wrote! However, after reading what David Corning has written. . . confirming JM to be a narcissistic sociopath it seems now what you wrote is, sadly, quite discerning. I’m no longer taking what you wrote as funny.

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  68. One of the commenters (Liz) after David Corning’s letter on the linked site asked some insightful questions about elders and the church people–that she thought that elders were responsible to their congregation not to the pastor and how this got so out of hand without the people from within being able to stop it??

    Liz is not the first person who has asked such questions of their church leadership and are puzzled how things got this way in their church. Liz, you are not alone. So many others have asked similar questions and have made similar observations when things have gone terribly wrong.

    “I am by no means an expert on how churches are run and what the elder boards responsibilities are, but I always thought that elders were responsible to their congregation not to the pastor. I’m not trying to add insult to injury; I’m just trying to understand how this could have all gotten so out of hand without the people from within being able to stop it as opposed to this blog having to tell us all the truth.”

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  69. Pingback: Former Long-Time Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Dave Corning Accuses Pastor James MacDonald of Abuse of Power, Lack of Accountability | Spiritual Sounding Board

  70. monax,

    I really like what you say about the courage to be transparent being found in love, or maybe we should say Love. “Perfect love casts out fear. So it’s not even courage that fuels us because courage is a response to fear. Without fear this transparency is our life of love.”

    I’m not so sure about the part where you say “It’s as freakin’ natural as being in Christ and living to his glory.” It seems to me that an emphasis on God’s glory, as opposed to his Love nature, has resulted in much mischief. Perhaps it’s that we have a false understanding of the nature of glory. We tend to think of glory involving authority, power, control and judgment. I would contend that, where Jesus is the perfect representation of the Father, the greatest expression of God’s glory is His humility, which culminated on the Cross. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the resurrection is the greatest expression of God’s glory. Either way, God’s glory involves sacrificial, self-denying Love leading to life.

    The pastor and elders that are the topic of this post are attempting to glorify themselves through the exercise of authority, power, control and judgment. Show me a “church” where the leadership demonstrates sacrificial, self-denying love and I just might be persuaded to return to “church.”

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  71. “It seems to me that an emphasis on God’s glory, as opposed to his Love nature, has resulted in much mischief. Perhaps it’s that we have a false understanding of the nature of glory. We tend to think of glory involving authority, power, control and judgment. I would contend that, where Jesus is the perfect representation of the Father, the greatest expression of God’s glory is His humility, which culminated on the Cross. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the resurrection is the greatest expression of God’s glory. Either way, God’s glory involves sacrificial, self-denying Love leading to life.”

    Has the “glory” part become so ingrained as to now define agape love? I am afraid it has been hijacked and well meaning people might not even realize it.

    As you know, I read around a lot of YRR pastor blogs and years ago there was a blog post by a YRR pastor who had been preaching at a campus event and afterwards a young man came up to him and asked him if God was a narcissist. Many of us are aware that God wanting Glory for Himself is a popular teaching focus in that movement.

    The young man asked a valid question based upon this focus concerning God.
    Most of us know that narcissists do not hang on trees for the sins of others. Too bad that was not the message he was given. Instead, the young man was given a defense of God wanting His glory and why that was a good thing.

    And you are right, the resurrection after the unjust Cross is the greatest expression of His glory.

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  72. Gary, laying aside all false notions of love and glory, the natural transparency that arises out of being in Christ and living to his glory might otherwise be spoken of as a “Spirit empowered life shining as a light in the world, burning as a perfect holy expression of his good pleasure” (cf. Philippians 2:1-17, see below).

    Victor Frankl observes, “What is to give light must endure burning.” Thus the sacrificial quality involved in a life lived to his glory.

    This side of being glorified I’d caution against making any definite assertions as to the “greatest expression” of his glory, for there is still a deep dark mystery in this for us. Even the glory which will one day be revealed in and to us is beyond our present apprehension. I’d speculate that the greatest expression of his glory is yet to come—it’s an eschatological reality reserved for the new heaven and new earth.

    Nevertheless and Yes, Gary, the Gospel of John speaks of the Cross as a culminating moment of glory (12:23-24). Yet our Lord’s moment (or “hour”) of glory was not fully consummated until after his death, resurrection, and ascension to the full presence of the Father (17:5).

    So yes, here is the Scriptural support for our conviction that “God’s glory involves sacrificial, self-denying Love leading to life.”

    John 12:23-24

    And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

    Consider another high moment of Christ’s expression of glory as recorded in the synoptic gospels.

    Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light (Matthew 17:1-3).

    I’ll leave you with Philippians 2:1-17 which is probably the best summation of what I meant when I said it’s as natural as being in Christ and living to his glory.

    So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

    Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

    Therefore God has exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

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  73. Also, Exodus 33:18-23 comes to mind

    Moses said to the LORD, “Please show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name—‘YHWH.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.”

    Keeping in mind now the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:8

    ”Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

    And Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12

    For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

    And 1 John 3:2

    Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

    And Revelation 22:4

    They will see his face. . . evermore.

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  74. monax,

    Good stuff, aptly presented. Still, I have come to be quite troubled with the notion that God is primarily motivated by a concern for His glory. Piper refers to God’s “passion” for His glory.

    I have come to suppose that Love is the essence of God’s being, that all else relating to God flows from His essence (which is Love), and that glory is the by-product, not the motivating objective. What do you think?

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  75. Pingback: Two to One Odds That HBC Elders Are the Borg! | The Wartburg Watch 2013

  76. “We believe that the Bible that the authority of the church is vested in the elders. And that when the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church.”

    The authority of God is vested in His Word, the Bible; not in a bunch of men who claim to speak for God. If what they are saying (and doing) is not absolutely in line with the Word of God, it is false at the least, and blasphemous at the worst.

    Deuteronomy 13:1-4
    “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,
    and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ — which you have not known — ‘and let us serve them,’
    you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
    You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.” (NKJV)

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  77. Was it really? I saw that Paul Dohse posted it on YouTube, so I snagged it there. Originally, I didn’t even have it posted on the blog because I couldn’t get it embedded. That is ridiculous and typical pattern abusers learn from the Creepy Spiritual Abuse School (CSAS). The tactic is called “damage control,” but they are fools to think they can remove that kind of thing from the internet. I’ve got the transcript right here and it ain’t goin’ anywhere 🙂

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  78. Pingback: Harvest Bible Chapel Files Complaint Against Blogger Paul Dohse, Resulting in Loss of YouTube Privileges | Spiritual Sounding Board

  79. Too many comments to read, so dunno if this was called out before:

    “Publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority, for any reason, is satanic to the core and must be dealt with very directly.”

    AKA “No way we’re giving you any ammunition to use against us! We’ll call it satanic and so you’ll believe our tyrannical rule.” (How I see it anyway.)

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  80. Sean-Allen, Welcome! Yes, you nailed it. It’s typical bully language with a spiritual hook in it to shut people down who don’t agree with them. Basically, it’s “woe is you if you disagree with us, your God-appointed leaders.”

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  81. Whatever you do DO NOT let them make you take this transcript down! I am so ticked… these men blaspheme the Lord with this behavior. Seriously.

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  82. we left HBC many years ago because i was following protocol and alerted them that they were about to let someone become a member that still had serious unresolved sin in a leadership role elsewhere. i was treated horribly for doing my duty to that church because i believe they felt more highly of this person than to listen to his sin issues or me. finally one of the elders, that has since left, came to my aid. so it seems that they don’t even play by their own rules. i truly believe God whispered to us to leave HBC. i pray for james heart alllllllllll the time.

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  83. Hi Alyssa, Welcome! Looks like you are new here. Thanks for your comment from your life experience. Yes, disheartening when you try your best and your efforts are rejected by those who should be listening and should know better. Sounds like you are in a much better place now.

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  84. We are affected here, in Romania too, by the LEADING of James on Harvest.
    Out church, here, was part of Harvest Bible Fellowship until february 2013.
    I found out that the politics in Harvest Churches is that no matter what, the vision of the senior pastor is a MUST. If you are in “the way”, than it means that you must be removed. If you say something against the RULER, you will be silenced. It is very easy to use Scripture to motivate your speech and behavior.
    It is not clear how God gave the authority to James. Is he a kind of a POPE?
    It is hard to believe that such things are happening in Church. What kind of people are those who follow such a model?
    In the last speech in our church, instead of a sermon, the pastor spoke 45 min. about James’s life, trying to defend him and his behavior. After that he took the audio recording of that fiasco service.
    I our church, the senior pastor said that he must be treated like FIRST AMONG EQUALS. I am sure that he is no good in maths. It is painful!
    It is not enough to be a good voice, great speaker, remember, even Balaam’ ass (donkey) spoke God’s message. (Numbers 22:23)
    I think it is time to learn that in Church is not about LEADING, but is about SERVING.

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  85. This style of church government is cultic. I saw this type of thing in the Worldwide Church of God. I know for a fact that many from the WCG are in this group. I have talked with people who left because of cult like control in some Harvest groups. In Canada a Fellowship Baptist Church gave over the entire building to Harvest. The pastor has to preach what Harvest (James McDonald) says. Many sound baptist churches are taking on the Harvest brand. This is not let by Jesus Christ, this is led by cool marketing and Branding. Harvest has moved it way into Heritage College & Seminary in Cambridge Ontario. See website: http://www.harvestwaterlooregion.ca/
    The growth of Harvest is not in reaching the world for Christ, but reaching
    into other flocks with slick branding and enticement. This is showing discord among brethren.

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  86. “Criticize privately” means not warning those who are attracted by outer winsomeness, get pulled in and then are damaged or destroyed by the poison within. Yes, if there are wolves in sheeps’ clothing, they must be pointed out. There are churches we will not attend, in our search for a new church, because of the warnings of others we have come across in our research. Not just one dissenting voice (a disgruntled person with an ax to grind), but a chorus of agreement and personal testimonies of hurt.

    It appears that in many of these cases, a lot of private criticism has gone on, and been dismissed or ignored. Even Matthew 18 keeps expanding the circle, from private confrontation, eventually to public disclosure.

    Keeping criticism private is actually a great tool for abusers. They can keep on abusing and destroying without much, if anything, to deter them.

    Dysfunctional, destructive bodies that bear the name “church” can look so attractive from the outside. Satan, after all, is the father of lies, and can make himself appear as an angel of light.

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