Should We Keep Studying a Fired Pastor’s Work?

"After LifeWay pulls James MacDonald’s Bible studies, Christians consider if and when a leader’s teachings remain edifying after a scandal." - Christianity Today

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Bert Perry's picture

I remember reading Authentic about five years back, and suffice it to say that I felt that as a rule, MacDonald proceeded from his own biases to impose them on the Scripture, instead of reliably exegeting Scripture.  It's also worth noting that MacDonald himself said that he felt the value of his teaching was so transitory that it ought to be withdrawn the moment he retired.  (John E. posted a video of this on another thread)

So we might wonder whether his works were ever worth buying in the first place.  Suffice it to say that when I reviewed Authentic, I didn't make a beeline for his other books. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

Some one correct me if I’m wrong McDonald was removed from his position for decisiveness strong armed management slandering his co labors in the Lord Financial mismanagement and just general mismanagement.  There are no allegations of sexual misconduct or serious heretical teaching or any other criminal conduct alleged.  If so and if he truly repents  why would should all his work be tossed or ignored.  

Seems to me that is practicing a vengeful spirit considering Pastors and Bible Teachers have done a lot worse things in my mind and are still in the pulpit or teaching at a Bible College.  Why kick a dead dog when he is down.  If McDonald built that church and has erred along the way why so quickly do a total cleaning job without allowing him a chance to repent.  What I’m saying does  not mean you have to hire him back.  

Bill Gothards followers tossed him but not one squeak about denouncing him which was sin on their part.  So why is McDonald getting the full revoking treatment.  Please someone tell me if I’m missing something here.  If McDonald ends up taking his life over this it would be a real tragedy that could have been prevented.    

Larry's picture


Please someone tell me if I’m missing something here. 

You are. There is a long history going back years. You can catch up on a lot of it You can read the executive summary there and the various posts. There is a lot of information elsewhere as well.


Bert Perry's picture

Joe, the stated reason for his firing is what he's saying on the tapes Mancow Muller (radio talk show host) played on WLS recently.  However, his comments were in response to the other issues that are listed on The Elephant's Debt.  Do those other issues play into things?  I'd guess yes, but at this point, I don't believe any of the decision-makers are saying that.

Given the breadth of things MacDonald has done--The Elephant's Debt uses a lot of primary sources, so a lot of it isn't in doubt at all IMO--my take is that you're going to have to look at anything he wrote to figure out whether it's legitimately good, or whether a lot of it is rather self-serving.  My take with Authentic was that quite a bit of it fell into the "self-serving" category, and hence I would put MacDonald's work into the "take it with a grain of salt" category.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.