Former Long-Time Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Dave Corning Accuses Pastor James MacDonald of Abuse of Power, Lack of Accountability

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Harvest Bible Chapel’s former long-time elder Dave Corning releases public letter to expose Pastor James MacDonald of abuse of power, lack of accountability, and personal financial gain.

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“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing
but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  Matt 7:15

Holy Moly, that’s a lot of Twitter followers!  When reading this blog post, please consider how many people are and have been affected by Harvest Bible Chapel’s Pastor James MacDonald!

I have to say, I took in a deep sigh when I read this letter.  And then I e-mailed the guys at The Elephant’s Debt (TED) blog  seeking permission to copy the letter here so we could discuss it. Permission was granted.

When looking at spiritual abuse, I’ve said a number of times that it seems like all spiritual abusers go to a Creepy Spiritual Abuse School (CSAS) because they all behave the same, follow the same abuse patterns (they abuse their power, lack accountability, etc), use the same defense mechanisms, twist the same Bible verses.  Their behavior really is predictable.   This is probably the “best” letter I’ve read that uncovers so many aspects of abuse in such a clear fashion.  It should be sent out far and wide as a teaching tool on spiritual abuse.  I applaud Dave Corning for his powerful public statement. This statement gives credibility to the many elders who have already left as well as validates many who have been confused. It is so important to expose the truth.

The sad reality, which I mentioned to Ryan at The Elephant’s Debt, is that much harm is done to the Body of Christ when there is spiritual abuse.  Spiritual abuse leaves people confused, not knowing who to trust.  Some will defend their beloved pastor, some will start questioning.  Some will feel betrayed by a man who was supposed to be their godly shepherd.  This is one big mess and the spiritual ramifications may never be known.  We know the fallout.  We’ve seen it.  The most heart-wrenching part of spiritual abuse is what it does to one’s faith. Some may doubt their faith or even have a crisis of faith because of spiritual abuse.

If you found this blog via searching this story, welcome!  If you are from HBC, I’m very saddened to hear about what has been going on.  It is very troubling. I want you to know that we get spiritual abuse here.  Many of us have lived it and are working our way through it. I have posted Mr. Corning’s letter here in the hopes that my readers will tear it apart and identify key abuse issues that raise red flags for an unhealthy or spiritually abusive church. Some people are new here and others have been here for a while.  Please feel free to jump in on the conversation if you have more to share, questions to ask, etc.  ~Julie Anne

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Dave Corning Exposes Harvest Bible Church’s Pastor James MacDonald of Abuse, Lack of Accountability and Financial Gain

September 18, 2013

Today is the official twenty-fifth anniversary of Harvest Bible Chapel, a church that Betsy and I poured our lives into for twenty-two years, from the first informational meeting in May 1988. I served as the Elder Board Chairman for twenty-one years as well as on the boards of Walk in the Word and HBF.

As you may or may not know, we left Harvest nearly three years ago. Why would we leave our church home – where we raised our family, when we were not being forced out – unless we did not believe that it was absolutely necessary to do so? At the end of December 2010 we left of our own accord after many troubling years. We had twelve reasons for leaving that I will not disclose here, but I did share most of them in a meeting with James on December 20, 2010, our last day.

In the beginning of Harvest there was solid accountability for James and all the elders. The church seemed headed in the right direction. There were many good years. But over the years, James’ perspectives changed and he began to treat the church as if it belonged to him. This only escalated when the church was given the 600 acres of land in Michigan by the Van Kampens and the Elgin property by the Greens. He assumed Harvest was his and his to control. Harvest became more and more about him and his insatiable drive to expand his influence. The result has been abuse of power, lack of accountability and major financial gain to him.

James has a big issue with submitting to authority. He once said to me, “I have no problem with authority unless I think it’s stupid”. He has a major issue of entitlement. He cannot reveal his salary because it is indefensible. No one could even determine his total combined income from all of the Harvest ministries without seeing his tax returns. He hides his full income because it is beyond explanation to those who are sacrificially paying for it. That is why he cannot even give his elders more than a pie chart for the budget of the church.

Nearly two years before leaving Harvest, in February 2009, I met with James and told him that I had lost confidence in him and his leadership and that I didn’t want to work with him anymore. Immediately after, he began a concerted effort to weaken the elder board. He used degrading statements such as “You guys are useless; I do my best to make you feel like elders”. Solid leaders left the board.

It was at this point of the church history that James assigned a “research committee” outside of the elder board’s authority and knowledge, to significantly restructure the governance of the church. The intended result was to remove the elders from having authority over the direction of the church – giving him more authority than any one man should have. In essence, he already had it. He had a way of working around the elders to accomplish his objectives and announce them as “approved by the elders”. How James imploded the Harvest elder board in 2009 is remarkably similar to how Mark Driscoll imploded his a year earlier.

On August 23, 2009, there was an Elder meeting to which James invited, unannounced and against protocol, several pastoral staff to attend. His goal was to restructure the Board according the results of the “research” which he himself had directed. He wanted “proof” that he needed more control and greater affirmation. Only two elders dissented – myself, and Bill Ciofani. However, the writing was on the wall. I knew immediately that my time was up. I could not serve under such a system where the Senior Pastor has ultimate control with no true checks and balances. This includes control of the money, the staff, and the entire direction of the church.

It was an extremely difficult decision to leave Harvest altogether but over the next several months it became impossible in good conscience to remain. To do so would leave people with the false belief that James was accountable or that we supported the direction he was taking Harvest.

I rotated off the board in November 2009. It was clear to me and I said so, that the church would have to change its Constitution in order to enact James’ new structure. This can only be done with the full understanding and agreement of the congregation. The current Constitution must be shown to the congregation with the proposed changes in red letters. As far as I know that has never occurred, which would mean the church structure has been operating against the Constitution of the church since 2009. When Scott Phelps, an elder, asked to see a copy of the Constitution he was told there wasn’t one by Steve Huston. I carried one to every board meeting I ever attended.

One of the biggest reasons and the final straw for our leaving was James’ harsh and vindictive treatment of people. He assumed power to fire and hire anyone he chose. Several good people were forced out as James and the XLT, under his submission, decided they were “going in a new direction”.  The elder board operates in submission to the XLT even if they don’t realize it. They do not have any real authority to do anything except carry out James’ wishes.

Over the past nearly three years, the full force of James’ wrath has been manifested against me, and Betsy in nearly every possible way (though often cleverly disguised as the decision or action of another and usually executed through a long-time friend or acquaintance who must betray us to prove allegiance to James). He has worked behind the scenes to destroy our reputations, our ministries, even our livelihoods. One of the most perverse and shocking (though lightly veiled) accusations came in a public sermon by James on June 5, 2011, which also aired on Walk in the Word a year later. The Saturday night message was harsher; the Sunday message was edited. We were portrayed as “blaspheming the church and taking advantage”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our goal was to leave quietly and not cause any division. We fully, but wrongly believed that our friendships and even ministry relationships would continue. People even wrote to us saying as much, until James decided otherwise. There was no issue of sin being called out in us. To the contrary, Rick Donald wrote me and said, he would “never allow anyone to say anything bad about me”. There was no difficulty between us, or any person, except James. That of course, would change rapidly as James mounted charges against us.

In that last meeting, James and I agreed that our differences would remain between us. However, Betsy and I would soon discover that he had set upon a deliberate course to discredit us. What was between James and I, and was to remain as such, became a series of ever-expanding concentric circles of James’ influence of others against us – pastors, staff, flock leaders, friends, even Fellowship churches and leaders of ministries outside of Harvest. James has enlisted the aid of staff, including pastors and elders to slander us, calling us deceptive if we haven’t spoken, or divisive if they believe we have. This lie has been spread not only about us, but about many godly people. Apparently simply to leave Harvest is viewed as “betrayal”.

We sought counsel and were advised not to answer to the slander or engage in dialog with any of these people. We followed this counsel and yet there is a pandemic of strife encircling the globe and dividing even families and close friends – the ultimate result of one man’s actions. Long-time friendships have been utterly decimated.

We did not spread strife or discord. On the contrary, we were painstakingly careful not to. Time and again James used his power and influence to deliberately harm us. The slander continued unabated for over two years. Then suddenly and unannounced, James showed up at my office to “reconcile”. I was not there and am not interested in being maneuvered into “reconciling” with someone so that he can use me in his sermon illustration. James has never repented of nor even acknowledged his sinful actions. This absolution continues to be his stance and that of his elders, made clear by last weekend’s Harvest video. We have forgiven James and the many people he has manipulated against us for his gain and our loss. We are not bitter, just very much aware of the tactics and strategies of James MacDonald.

There has been a revision of history taking place at Harvest. Only one perspective is given and there is no opportunity for those who would refute such things. We have prayed consistently for the Lord’s will to be done. We have never tried to convince anyone to leave Harvest. We have only prayed that people would have eyes to see and ears to hear, being fully convinced in their own minds of the choices they must make; choices for which we must give an account to the Lord someday.

The elder board this past weekend said that they are “completely satisfied” with James’ character. This on-going strife is all a result of this man’s character. James just lost three of his best elders. The men around him are not helping him but hurting him. I have told this to two current elders who have contacted me in the last couple of months.

We have not been divisive or deceptive or ever posted anything before this response. In many ways we feel we should have spoken out earlier but we chose to remain silent out of deference for many good people at Harvest. Now, however, I cannot stand back and see the godly reputations of former elders and friends be destroyed.

We stand behind Scott Phelps, Barry Slabaugh, Dan Marquardt and others who have asked simple questions that elders are required to ask and to be given full and satisfactory answers. The church discipline being done is just wrong. People should not be disciplined over the Internet and they should not be disciplined for something the elders are assuming they will do. In fact, church discipline in no way applies to these men. These actions are the result of James’ continuing pattern of using and abusing people.

So much more could be said. But my purpose here is to support the godly men who have been wrongly disciplined by the church and others who have been wrongfully terminated or forced to leave.

When the church ceases to be about the truth, it ceases to be the church. The Lord will bring truth to light, in His time and in His way. I am fulfilling my duty to warn.

Dave Corning

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184 comments on “Former Long-Time Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Dave Corning Accuses Pastor James MacDonald of Abuse of Power, Lack of Accountability

  1. Matthew 23: 25-26 contains Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees, a legalistic sect during Biblical times and very similar to Harvest Bible Chapel today:

    25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

    Regardless of specific motives, it’s abundantly clear that Harvest Bible Chapel’s institutional commitment is to furiously polishing the outside of its cup and plate.

    Like

  2. Learned that here in Rochester MN, the head of the Harvest plant came from another church, taking with him a number of young families, and in the process changing his views on spiritual gifts (he went from cessationism to soft charismaticism) and church polity (from congregational to MacDonald’s “episcopal presbyterianism”). His successor’s biggest problem in youth ministry is getting the kids to actually learn some theology.

    What I glean from this; either HBC is really bad at screening candidates for pastorates, or they’ve got a process which is either inadvertently or intentionally designed to hire people of some flexible theological commitments–and given that those theological commitments are addressed in church constitutions, it would seem that some of these candidates have some selective moral commitments as well, if you catch my drift. It would seem to reckon as well that they may be deliberately choosing those who refuse to teach basic theology.

    (I’ve got no problem with you if you’re episcopalian in church polity or charismatic in your views, but please don’t tell me you’re congregational and cessationist just to get the job. Thanks!)

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  4. The church is a mess. How is anyone to know who to trust? I thought James MacDonald was a trustworthy man. He sure seemed like one from the pulpit. It is really confusing. How could I have been so easily duped? It hurts to even say that I was b/c that is basically saying I was intentionally deceived. Which makes the betrayal all the harder to believe/accept. James personally told me that me and others who left the church were “duped” by the former elders who left. He put the blame on them. My friend and I both did not get a great impression from our time with him and some of the newer leaders. Some of the other leaders seem like good guys. Is everyone blinded by success? I think I wanted his approval and that is probably why it was hard to both leave and believe the reports that were coming out. Peace.

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  5. Juan,

    Read Mark’s comments above and in other places on this blog. I think that his comments will help. I recommend him, because he had a history from a church that changed it’s doctrines in a stealth way, over a period of time, and he came to blame himself, too, because he knew scripture, so when he discovered what was going on, he was like, “What the…”, and began to blame himself, because he felt that he should have seen it coming.

    Don’t blame yourself, Juan.

    Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Juan, don’t blame yourself. It can be hard to see through a guy, especially someone as charismatic as MacDonald. There are whole books devoted to the concept that some people can seemingly get away with anything.

    But from your note, one “tell” you might practice recognizing is his habit of blaming others for his problems, and of doing so in derogatory terms–you’re saying he basically accused his former elders of lying to cause people to leave the church, no?

    Other things you can look for; love of money and/or fame, reckless living (like his poker games and 2 million dollar home), sloppy exegesis of the Bible, and the like.

    Now I’m not saying he’s a psychopath–that has a real specific meaning–but this article (and the book it references) are worth reading when we’re trying to understand abusive leadership.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/04/25/the-disturbing-link-between-psychopathy-and-leadership/

    In other words, a lot of people will be able to read and manipulate you, and it’s going to take a “road to Antioch moment” to figure it out. But if you train your “nonsense meter”, you can figure these things out more quickly and reduce your pain.

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  7. I am beginning to wonder…how pure are our motives in seeking to bring down people in leadership? Are we being rebellious or insubordinate? Sometimes, I am not sure. Maybe that is b/c I do not understand the dynamics of abuse. I also wonder sometimes if I myself am abusive. I hope not! But, maybe I am? How could I know/discern? Peace.

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  8. Juan,

    If your daughter was being raped, what would you do? Would you stand there and do nothing? Would you shout about it and warn others?

    I think of spiritual abuse as spiritual rape. It causes many to abandon their faith. We see examples of calling out false leaders in Scripture. You’re not being abusive 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Juan, probably best to ask a simple question; if a church leader’s conduct violates the prescriptions in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1, who is bringing him down when that conduct comes to light? Is it the accuser, or the church leader?

    Seems to me that the accuser wouldn’t have anything to do if the church leader’s conduct were, as the apostle Paul clarifies, “above reproach.” No? So it’s not the accuser who brings a man down. It’s the man.

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  10. Thanks Julie Anne and Bike Bubba. What you say makes sense. I am just saying, could it not also be true, that somewhere in the recesses of our hearts, we lust for the same power they have (or have had)? Is at least some of our opposition or support of others opposition rooted in jealousy and envy of what we don’t have? I wonder that about myself. Maybe I am just making sure I keep in mind the sinfulness in my own heart even as I expose or grieve over the sins of others. Peace.

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  11. Juan,one could have that somewhere, but the trick is that if I lust for power/money/whatever, that does not in itself impeach my testimony. It means that I do well to do what I’d do well to to anyways; tie my testimony to things that cannot be disputed.

    And to be honest, I’m thinking that if you’re concerned that you might have that lust somewhere hidden in the recesses of your heart, you really don’t have much to worry about. Rather, I think you’ve been “had” by those who would use insecurity to protect themselves from rightful criticism.

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  12. Juan – appreciate your attitude and questions

    A true statement. A reasonable question @ JANUARY 7, 2015 @ 11:33 AM…
    “The church is a mess. How is anyone to know who to trust?”

    I had to learn this the hard way. By trusting, “a leader,” who deceived me saying they had my best interest at heart.

    But – Jesus warns WE, His Sheep… The Bible warns WE, His Disciples…
    Trust NO Man… Over and over, again and again… Trust NO Man..

    Jer 17:5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man…

    Ps 118:8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

    Ps 146:3 Put not your trust in princes…

    Isa 30:1 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD,
    that take counsel, but NOT of me;

    Isa 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help;
    and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many;
    and in horsemen, because they are very strong;
    **but they look NOT unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!

    Matthew 24:4 …Take heed that no man deceive you.
    Mark 13:5 … Take heed lest any man deceive you:
    Luke 21:8 …Take heed that ye be not deceived:

    Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words…
    2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means…
    1 John 3:7 Little children, Let no man deceive you …

    Col 2:4 …lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

    2 Pet 2:3 And through covetousness
    shall they with *Feigned Words* make merchandise of you:

    ***Think I’ll stick to Jesus as “The ONE Shepherd” I can “Trust.”

    Proverbs 3:5-7 “Trust” in the LORD with all thine heart;
    and lean not unto thine own understanding.
    In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
    Be not wise in thine own eyes…

    Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him:

    John 10:27 MY Sheep Hear MY Voice, I know them, and they Follow Me.

    John 10:16
    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.

    One Voice, One Fold, One Shepherd, One Leader.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  13. Juan

    You ask another good question @ JANUARY 8, 2015 @ 10:03 AM…
    “how pure are our motives in seeking to bring down people in leadership?”

    Well – What if leadership is NOT an idea found in the Bible?
    For one of His Disciples?

    Then, maybe, it’s NOT bringing “down people in leadership.” But, it’s admonishing leaders, warning leaders, the postion “leader,” is NOT in the Bible for one of His Disciples. And now, they have to make a tough decision.

    This was hard for me to understand at first – BUT – when I checked…
    In the Bible, ALL of “His Disciples” called themselves “Servants.” 😉
    NOT one of His Disciples called them self “leader.” Or, “servant-leader.”
    NOT one of His Disciples called another Disciple “leader.”

    Seems, Jesus, has a unique take on leadership for His Disciples – “ONE”
    Seems, Jesus, taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leader.”
    For you have “ONE’ leader – Christ. And NOT one disciple did.

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant”.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Today, it looks like lots of guys who want to be, and are, called leaders…
    In opposition to what Jesus taught His Diciples…
    Are getting the wind knocked out of them – being humbled… Yes?

    If someone calls themself “leader?”
    Allows others to call them “leader?”

    Are they one of His Disciples?

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? 😉

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **THEIR shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  14. I attended Harvest Bible Chapel for several years, became a member and actively served in one of its ministries. During that time, I believed I had found my spiritual home. Regrettably, I left Harvest knowing I would never be able to trust any of the Pastors, Lay Leaders or anyone else in positions of authority there.

    While I was discouraged and filled with both self-doubt and self-condemnation as I was leaving, I now realize God was rescuing me from the sinking vessel known as Harvest Bible Chapel. The fact that He delivered me before the current maelstrom makes me even more grateful.

    To demonstrate how unhealthy the culture at Harvest is, it is fair to describe the Pastor in leadership over the ministry I served there as incompetent. Ultimately, betrayal and humiliation was visited upon me at the hands of this Pastor, who tasked Lay Leaders serving under him with “handling” me.

    I believe it was the incompetence of this Pastor that led him to believe it was appropriate to shame me. Fortunately, I was not alone in my assessment of him; this Pastor apparently left Harvest not long after another serving in his area of ministry escalated complaints about him to one of Harvest’s Elders.

    More recently, this same Pastor has apparently returned to Harvest, and is serving in another ministry leadership role. Doesn’t the Bible say that a dog returns to its own vomit?

    Ironically, I recently saw one of the aforementioned Lay Leaders in services at the church I now attend. In fact, I see a fair number of people from Harvest I knew personally, or knew of, in services at that church.

    As noted in 2 Peter 2, verse 1 (English Standard Version), “…false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”

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  15. Sean, if I might beg you to characterize your experience more specifically, you might help others that way. My experience with MacDonald was peripheral–my former church was using his material–and what I noted in his work was weak exegesis (e.g. using Isaiah 58 to justify ritual fasting–it does the opposite), apparent love of money, waffling on the importance of the Trinity (Elephant Room 2), and political moves (abuse of power) to cover up for all that.

    Others I know characterize HBC in terms of rushing people to the baptismal before they really understand their salvation, and still others have accused them of sending a lot of kids to local Christian schools who really didn’t know Christ.

    So if you can take the general “incompetent” and translate that into specific things related to theology–you’re coming close when you note that you were being monitored by lay leaders and such–you could help people affiliated with HBC to understand what’s wrong and help them to repent of that sin.

    Might be hard, I know, but if you can, you might be a huge blessing to a lot of people.

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  16. I started attending in 2013, during the “scandal.” I see nothing to charge this man with. I see him as selfless in the way he teaches. His books outline his self-admitted shortcomings. He preaches with authority and arrogance may be his personal struggle. He wrote many books and has the radio/tv ministry he could have made millions from, but the profit goes to the church/ministry. I don’t know his situation, nor does it affect me or Gods ability to work through me. You think pastors are perfect? You feel like shaming someone on social media is glorifying God? I take personal offense to someone discounting what God has done and all the good that has come from HBC.

    This is why I have no faith in church in America…and it has very little to do with imperfect pastors and everything to do with the hearts of people in the church.

    If James is some self-serving false prophet, how can he teach Gods word every week? How can God do so much through HBCs ministry? Why would God do so much through an evil spirit known as James MacDonald? I think you should worry about yourselves and take your concerns to the Lord. There may be a little pride in your hearts. Everyone I’ve met from HBC are sold out followers of Jesus, not followers of James MacDonald.

    As an example, I really dislike the Catholic Church. I feel it’s teaching and theology is off-base. Yet they still profess Jesus as Savior. So I’ll let God worry about that. I won’t go online and bash the church. I will do my best to stand up for the faith, based on what the bible says. It would only serve to deter and hurt the cause of Christ. Think about why were here and what our purpose in life is…and I’ll bet you’ll see how futile your efforts are to bring down one man.

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  17. John,

    You had said:
    “If James is some self-serving false prophet, how can he teach Gods word every week?”

    Really?

    Lord, Lord, didn’t I do this in your name, didn’t I do that in your name?

    Get away from me, I never knew you.

    Ed

    Like

  18. John

    You write…
    “I think you should worry about yourselves and take your concerns to the Lord.”

    Was wondering…
    How come you do NOT follow your own advice?

    Like

  19. John

    You write about James…
    “…how can he teach Gods word every week?”

    “You think pastors are perfect?”

    In God’s word…
    Did any of His Disciples call themselves pastor/leader?
    Did any of His Disciples have the “Title/Position” pastor/leader?
    ———–

    In God’s word, Jesus taught His Disciples NOT to be called leader…
    for you have “ONE” leader, the Christ.

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant”.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
    ————–

    Is James teaching God’s word? when he calls himself pastor/leader?
    Is James obeying Jesus?

    Isa 3:12 KJV
    …O my people, *they which lead thee* cause thee to err,
    and destroy the way of thy paths.

    Isa 9:16 KJV
    For *the leaders* of this people cause them to err;
    and they that are led of them are destroyed.

    Some legacy todays “Church Leaders” are creating for themselves…

    I’m in agreement with King David…

    The Lord is my Shepherd. 🙂

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  20. Tell me, John,

    What are all them books that he wrote about? Did Jesus pass out pamphlets or tracts, sell books, CD’s, DVD’s?

    Did anyone write books of the Bible for profit or for sale for donating the proceeds to the church, or to pay for per diem for their travel expenses?

    Which Apostle had a college education? What did he think of his own education?

    According to the Catholics, if you aren’t in their church, you are a heathen. So, they preach Jesus, huh? Most ex-Catholics that I know, they tell us that they don’t preach Jesus. They preach “church fathers”, not Jesus.

    Ed

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  21. Lydia,

    Well, I gotta say that I sort’a disagree a little bit. If you look at each and every signer of the Declaration of Independence, they came from all sorts of differing Christian beliefs, not agreeing with each other, crack pot or not, which is why I posted the words of Ben Franklin. He knew that there was differing beliefs out there about God. And he was OK with that, and why? Because he had differing beliefs. He didn’t know who was telling the truth, or telling lies.

    In regards to paying for doctors and such, Boston Tea Party! We the People have the right to revolt against a tyranny. We are the militia, but some don’t want us to be well armed.

    But then again, it can be argued that we the people allowed those laws to be passed, because we the people were not being represented by our representatives, and yet, we elected them. Whose fault is it, in the end? We the people. We were dumb enough to let it happen.

    Ed

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  22. John, your naiveté is alarming and typical of those who are biased towards celebrity pastors. I know. I was where you are at several years ago when we blindly followed a celebrity pastor. That is, until we began to examine him in light of the Word of God.

    Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8, KJV) withstood Moses and mimicked the miracles God did through him. The false prophet will work miracles and deceive those who have received the mark of the beast, (Revelation 19:20, KJV).

    And you may want to read 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:

    “13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
    14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
    15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” KJV

    Genuine believers are compelled to examine all that is taught in the name of Christ:

    1 Thessalonians 5:21: 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. KJV

    1 John 4:1: Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. KJV

    Matthew 7:15-20: 15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
    16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. KJV

    Not everyone that attracts a crowd is being used by God. And many religions that name the name of Christ, teach salvation by works and not solely by faith.

    Men who enrich themselves by the “ministry” are false prophets, such as was Balaam.

    Please, examine behavior in light of the Word. Pray for discernment. Test everything that is taught in light of the whole counsel of God’s Word.

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  23. John, my response to you is simple; Mr. MacDonald has accepted a modalist explanation of the Trinity from T.D. Jakes in “Elephant Room 2”, lives in a two million dollar home, hid his income from his own elders and put two of them out of fellowship when they challenged him, takes a majority vote on the elder board (he is effectively a bishop), and in my experience, takes some dubious theological stands, like semi-endorsing the prosperity theology of T.D. Jakes.

    So in my view, he’s got some problem with being a “lover of money” and being “quarrelsome”–he does not appear to be gentle. Now as I read 1 Timothy 3, there is a list of qualifications, and “apt to teach” (which I’d also contest, having read through “Authentic”) is only one of them.

    So it is entirely possible for a man to appear to be a great teacher of God’s Word, and yet be entirely unsuited for church ministry. For Mr. MacDonald to be suited for Gospel ministry, I would suggest the following changes.

    1. Sell the house.
    2. Restore the excommunicated elders to the eldership.
    3. Give up his 50% vote on the elder board.
    4. Open budgets.
    5. Apologize for some of the errant teaching he’s done–e.g. “Authentic” on fasting, service, and the like, as well as his endorsement of prosperity theology and failure to recognize the modalism of T.D. Jakes in Elephant Room 2.

    One final thing that would be brutal, but necessary, for him would be for him to move from a “megachurch” setting to a church of 2-500 people where he can actually minister to congregants. A shepherd doesn’t just talk to the sheep for an hour each week. James MacDonald is not a shepherd.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Here’s a quote about John D. Macdonald that I often see bouncing around the web (I hesitate to quote from Wikipeida, which we all know is generally stuff we can wipe our asses with, but this seems legit). “Macdonald is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only Macdonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human heart chap, so guess who wears the top grade laurels?” That’s from Kingsley Amis.
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/john-d-macdonald-look-at-some-aspects.html#.VNHn89L

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  25. “Around them in the world, people ride escalators up and sneak secret glances at the faces coming down. People dangle teabags over hot water in white CUPS. Cars run silently on the autobahns, streaks of painted light. People sit at desks and stare at office walls. They smell their shirts and drop them in the hamper. People bind themselves into numbered seats and and fly across time zones and high cirrus and deep night, knowing there is something they’ve forgotten to do.”
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/john-d-macdonald-look-at-some-aspects.html#.VNHn89L

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  26. Pastor James Macdonald led me to Christ and walked me through what I need to do to be accepted and forever forgiven by Jesus. He has done the same for at least thousands of other people. That is exactly what the Bible commands us as followers of Christ to do. Explain to me what you do that is better than what Pastor James does?

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  27. Dear Brian Cyr,

    To my knowledge, Julie Anne has never claimed to do anything “greater” or “better” than James MacDonald. She hasn’t compared herself to him at all. As far as I can tell, she’s only working to give a voice to those who’ve been abused, so that the abusers don’t get to control the conversation.

    So, just because MacDonald led you to Jesus, do you think that excuses him badmouthing his former elders, and lording it over his own flock by making himself unaccountable? Or that spiritual abuse is “worth it”, as long as “thousands” are led to Christ? Many defenders of Driscoll and C.J. Mahaney seem to take that line. I don’t find it any more convincing — or Christlike — from them, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Brian, that article was written after McDonald and his elders spiritually abused other elders. Later, he eventually apologized publicly and to the elders he harmed. I think James himself would correct you and say that he was not acting appropriately then.

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  29. I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior of my life during the early 1990’s. I was led to the Lord by a Pastor, began attending his church, and was a member there for nearly seven years. During that time, I received counseling and discipleship from this Pastor, both of which I benefitted from greatly. As I began growing in my faith, and became more active within the church, I began to see how my getting closer to the Lord exposed how unhealthy that particular church was.

    Ultimately, the same Pastor who led me to the Lord years earlier, developed the expectation that I would assist him in facilitating an arrangement for his receiving compensation from the church. That “arrangement” is most accurately described as money laundering. When I understood the extent to which I could have been both personally and professionally implicated in this unethical, if not illegal, conduct on the part of this Pastor and his church, I realized I had no choice but to walk away.

    I also had to realize that this Pastor was not God, that his church was not sacrificed for my sins, and that I had to learn to not only choose, but welcome, the Lord’s leadership in these matters over that of other people. Today, the church where I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior more than 20 years ago, now appears to have been abandoned.

    Several years ago, I was told by someone attempting to resuscitate this church that my former Pastor cleaned out the church’s bank accounts, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, before making a hasty exit. I drive by this church sometimes, perpetually amazed that the place where my spiritual life was born is now spiritually dead.

    By the same token, I walked away from Harvest Bible Chapel after having been a member there and also having actively served in one of Harvest’s ministries. During that time, I believed I had found my spiritual home. Regrettably, I left Harvest knowing I would never be able to trust any of the Pastors, Lay Leaders or anyone else in positions of authority there.

    Once again, I was being called to realize that neither James MacDonald nor any other Pastor at Harvest is God, that neither Harvest nor any other church was sacrificed for my sins, and that I had to learn to not only choose, but welcome, the Lord’s leadership in these matters over that of other people. It’s now abundantly clear that Harvest Bible Chapel is on the same destructive path the church I was saved in over 20 years ago descended down into its current abyss.

    The relevant question here is not who is better. Rather, as stated in Romans 3:23, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” If I have learned anything in more than 23 years as a Christ-follower, it is that trusting the Lord necessarily means having a healthy degree of skepticism about both the intentions and ultimate objectives of church leaders, particularly Senior Pastors.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Pingback: Spiritual Sounding Board: The Legacy That a Defamation Lawsuit Left to the Survivor Community | Spiritual Sounding Board

  31. Pingback: Spiritual Sounding Board: Updating the Legacy – Year 5 | Spiritual Sounding Board

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