James MacDonald fired as Harvest Bible Chapel pastor

"Elders announced the move in an update posted to the church’s website on Wednesday (Feb. 13)." - RNS

2060 reads

There are 23 Comments

T Howard's picture

James will be pastoring another church within 3 years. Probably one he plants himself. Similar to this church.

John E.'s picture

Sadly, I suspect you're right, T. Howard.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

I don’t really have a dog in this hunt.  I know very little about James MacDonald. 

But you’ve gotta love his quote.  Whether it’s true or not, it’s a classic. 

“CT [Christianity Today] is Anglican, pseudo-dignity, high church, symphony-adoring, pipe organ-protecting, musty, mild smell of urine, blue-haired Methodist-loving, mainline-dying, women preacher-championing, emerging church-adoring, almost good with all gays and closet Palestine-promoting Christianity, so of course they attacked me,” the voice allegedly belonging to MacDonald said on one of the clips.  -James MacDonald

https://religionnews.com/2019/02/13/james-macdonald-fired-as-pastor-harv...

David R. Brumbelow

John E.'s picture

What about the quote where he plots to plant child pornography on CT's CEO Harold Smith's computer?

He has been revealed to be a vulgar, arrogant, and vindictive man. So, no, I don't love the quote you posted, David.

Bert Perry's picture

....that threatens to bring down not only Harvest Bible Chapel (it's already destroyed Harvest Bible Fellowship), but will also have some serious repercussions on MacDonald's other employer, Moody Bible Institute/Broadcasting/publishing.  It's a lesson for us as we consider warning signs that a leader is being led astray by his desires; if we do not take some action (not necessarily a firing, perhaps just an observation or warning) when someone's behavior is mildly objectionable, we are extremely likely to find the behavior getting far worse.

In this case, Mancow says he's got hundreds of hours of audio featuring MacDonald at his "best".  Word to the wise; if you're being abusive, there are a lot of people who will collect evidence before they show up as an empty chair, and in certain cases, they will make it public in a nasty way.  One cannot intimidate people forever; eventually they figure out a way to get back at you.

(picture from a former employer; hourly workers who had had their fill figured out that making certain products required them in a certain position, and they would schedule their absences to cause maximum disruption in production.....they knew they would be fired only after ten absences, and they did to cause maximum pain....I saw several people do this)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

David, just learned that in 2014, Harvest applied for membership in the SBC, despite being officially continuationist and despite MacDonald's description of congregational church polity as being of the devil--HBC is officially presbyterian in polity, but with MacDonald's former 50% vote on the elder board, it was effectively Episcopal in polity, with MacDonald as their Pope.  So sadly, this mess also may well impact the SBC.

(no joy in mentioning this, brothers, but apparently the disaster goes further)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Nord Zootman's picture

His broadcast was already off the Moody stations. They have published some of his books, but I don't believe he has ever been an employee.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

MacDonald has spoken at the SBC Pastors' Conference at least four times since 2012. During his 2015 appearance, MacDonald announced Harvest would begin cooperating with the SBC. According to the SBC Executive Committee, Harvest contributed to the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget in 2015. The EC has no record of contributions by Harvest since that time.

Harvest does not cooperate with the Illinois Baptist State Association.

http://www.bpnews.net/52408/james-macdonald-fired-after-inappropriate-co...

David R. Brumbelow

Bert Perry's picture

Nord, it's true that he's been off Moody for a few months, but Moody also publishes 11 of his books, and I'd be surprised if he wasn't a chapel speaker from time to time.  The trouble with this is that it means that there were, or are, a number of people at Moody who almost certainly saw some of his behaviors, but did not act on them.  For my part, I remember reading one of MacDonald's books ("Authentic", I believe) and scratching my head wondering whether Moody actually employed any editors who were allowed to address some big issues in his writing.

It's definitely not the existential issue facing HBC, but it's there.

Regarding SBC, it's good to know they're not "a member in good standing", but the same thing applies to them as applies to Moody.  It strikes me as very odd that they gave him a podium after his intemperate statements regarding congregational polity.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Nord Zootman's picture

Bert,

I understand your concerns, I just think the word employer is incorrect. I would not call John MacArthur an employee of Moody although he too has books published by them and has been a speaker there. I'm not defending anyone involved, I just thought using that term was potentially confusing. Blessings.

Jonathan Charles's picture

Bet the creditors owning the tens of millions of dollars of debt are nervous. 

Bert Perry's picture

Just re-read David's comment, and for his (others') edification, I've got to suggest a quick run over to The Elephant's Debt would be in order.  More or less, about a decade ago, it came out that MacDonald was doing high stakes poker with Jerry Jenkins (Moody trustee, too), had purchased Peter Fitzgerald's $2.2 million home, had expelled elders because they'd dared to ask to see the line item budget before voting on it, had run up something like $70 million in debt, bragged about haranguing a steel contractor who was building a new church building in his book Vertical Church, and had left a trail of broken relationships really born of the same kind of tactics that Mancow revealed on Tuesday.  There are also some very troubling financial irregularities that led one trustee, a man who married into the Van Kampen mutual funds family, to bail--keep in mind that guy had seen bad news a thousand times before.  He most likely left because it might involve the authorities.

Add to that that when I reviewed his book Authentic, what I found was a string of bad exegesis that (again) should have attracted the attention of those tasked with reviewing the book.  My favorite was when MacDonald, clearly 50-100 lbs over his ideal weight, was saying that fasting had helped him overcome his addiction to food.  Um, James, seen a mirror lately?

In short, this has been a long time coming, and it's one where any of many ministry partners (Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever, SBC, Moody, etc..) should have pulled him aside to say "you know, James, I'm seeing some very troubling signs that things are not well in your world."  

(for what it's worth, agreed fully with Nord that "employed" is not the right term, but at the same time, when a group publishes someone's book, gives him the pulpit at their conferences, gives him his own radio show, and the like, there is some form of accountability to that writer/speaker/preacher born of that partnership....)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

Bert, how are you defining "ministry partner" when you throw Mark Dever's name in the mix?

Bert Perry's picture

John, I'm referring to the video you provided.  Obviously there would be various levels of accountability for partnership based on the closeness, duration, and known issues with a particular ministry at that time.  In the case of the video, it's 2014, when things were starting to blow up for MacDonald with debt, Elephant Room 2, double-paying the pastor of HBF's Romanian affiliate, bullying, crashing the "Strange Fire" conference......

It's about the same time I separated from a church because the leadership was dead set on using a lot of MacDonald's material, actually.  Dunno what else Dever did and did not do regarding these guys, but it would be interesting to hear him out regarding that episode.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

I understand that I'm not as adroit at playing seven degrees of separation as others are, but recording a video with some one is a far cry from "ministry partner." Dever also made some recordings several years ago with Dr. Mark Minnick. I'm pretty sure no one is going to mistakenly view the two as ministry partners. 

Mark Dever's entire public ministry is a rebuke of James MacDonald. And as far as I can tell, it's not Dever's responsibility to call him out publicly or privately (and you don't know what he said privately to the man). And it's not his responsibility because whatever association he has with MacDonald is far on the "good" end of the seven degrees of separation game. 

Look, I get that some of these men make good boogie men for fundamentalists, but lumping someone like Mark Dever with someone like James MacDonald is wrong. 

Jay's picture

The entire mess is so sad and depressing.  These allegations are enough to turn the stomach of the unsaved and here they are in the home of God's people.

I wonder if John Secrest will get his church in Naples back now.

Praying for HBC and the people picking up the pieces. 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

John, my take is that when one's behavior gets to a certain point, one does not share a platform with them, except as perhaps a matter of debate.  That was, after all, the big objection with Elephant Room 2, no?  I'm not saying that MacDonald is as bad as Jakes--though he did say some things which were at least comfortable to those endorsing prosperity theology and modalism--but in 2014, there were certainly well known reasons that one might refuse to share a platform with him.  

Does that mean I'm associating MacDonald with Dever?  Absolutely not.  What it means is that I believe it is a mistake to share a platform in certain cases, and that was probably one of them.  MacDonald appears to have "fed off" the apparent acceptance and/or approval of his peers to think that everything was fine, and those who invited him to share a platform bear some degree of responsibility for enabling him instead of warning him his ship was headed for the rocks.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

John E.'s picture

Did you watch the video, Bert? Dever was clearing "sharing the platform" as a matter of debate. How can anyone watch that video and leave with the impression that Mark Dever enabled James MacDonald? 

MacDonald resigned from TGC in 2012 after prominent TGC affiliated people publicly (and privately) criticized him for his relationship with T.D. Jakes, among other criticisms. I don't know if the video with Dever was recorded before or after that. The video I linked to was posted on YouTube in 2014 (and not by TGC), but it was recorded earlier, how much earlier I don't know. I do know, as I stated earlier, Dever's entire ministry (writing and preaching) serves as a rebuke of MacDonald. And, again, and I can't stress this enough, YOU do not know what Dever said to MacDonald privately. Dever does not bear responsibility for Macdonald, and expecting him to make some sort of public denunciation is uncharitable. 

WallyMorris's picture

Discipline, regulation, correction (or whatever similar word you wish to use) by those not associated with the church is difficult in congregational church polity in churches that are basically autonomous. This type of church polity puts the burden on the leadership in that church to hold people accountable, and often they are slow to do so for a variety of reasons. Outsiders who have occasion for ministry with church leaders involved in questionable behavior or beliefs have a Biblical responsibility to say something in private (therefore, we don't know what Dever of anyone else did or said). However, I wonder if someone in SBC leadership is willing to talk to Greear about his recent behavior at his church? Since he is President of the entire denomination, surely this behavior deserves rebuke. Although the situations are not the same, if we are going to wax eloquent about what people should have done or said to MacDonald, shouldn't we wonder when someone will say something to Greear?

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Bert Perry's picture

John E. wrote:

Did you watch the video, Bert? Dever was clearing "sharing the platform" as a matter of debate. How can anyone watch that video and leave with the impression that Mark Dever enabled James MacDonald? 

MacDonald resigned from TGC in 2012 after prominent TGC affiliated people publicly (and privately) criticized him for his relationship with T.D. Jakes, among other criticisms. I don't know if the video with Dever was recorded before or after that. The video I linked to was posted on YouTube in 2014 (and not by TGC), but it was recorded earlier, how much earlier I don't know. I do know, as I stated earlier, Dever's entire ministry (writing and preaching) serves as a rebuke of MacDonald. And, again, and I can't stress this enough, YOU do not know what Dever said to MacDonald privately. Dever does not bear responsibility for Macdonald, and expecting him to make some sort of public denunciation is uncharitable. 

The point I'm trying to bring up here, John, is that even if I assume Dever did a great job rebuking MacDonald in private, all of that would be undone as soon as he shared a platform with him in public.  Having watched the video, it's clear that the issues being raised are of the megachurch, the multi-campus church, and the like, not the specific issues being raised with Harvest at the time/during the previous few years.  I submit to you that at least people like MacDonald interpret a friendly public debate on another issue as an affirmation that "those other issues are not that big of a deal."  Other examples of leaders who have interpreted things this way include Mark Driscoll and Tullian Tchividjian.  

Is Dever hugely implicated in MacDonald's sins?  No.  But I think we're foolish if we don't consider the strong likelihood that many leaders, in particular those who head megachurches, will tend to interpret a friendly public platform as a sign that all is well elsewhere.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

 I submit to you that at least people like MacDonald interpret a friendly public debate on another issue as an affirmation that "those other issues are not that big of a deal."

This has been the fundamentalist concern that has been pretty widely mocked for a while.

Bert Perry's picture

Larry wrote:

 I submit to you that at least people like MacDonald interpret a friendly public debate on another issue as an affirmation that "those other issues are not that big of a deal."

This has been the fundamentalist concern that has been pretty widely mocked for a while.

Sure, it's mocked, but it's really a subset of a principle that every parent and law enforcement officer knows; real consequences, not private messages, drive people to change behavior.  It's a basic psychological principle of motivation, really,as well as Biblical anthropology.  The Scripture witnesses to this fact as Paul mentions several people who are no longer in fellowship with the saints because of sins they have committed, and as well when John notes (3 John 10) that he will "call attention" to what Diotrephes is doing.  You see it as well in the order of discipline in Matthew 18:15-19.  The first step is private; when repentance is not achieved, you go to the next, public steps. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.