"In a culture that is far too litigious, Christ followers should be loath to go into civil court for any reason. 1 Corinthians 6:1-9 pleads for caution: "Can we not judge ourselves?" "This before unbelievers," "Law suits among you means that you have been completely defeated," "Why not rather be wronged?" and "This is shame to you." It's such a clear teaching--but not the totality of biblical teaching that some try to make it. What if allowing "yourself to be wronged" is a greater wrong because of the many others that would be wronged? What if that matter is not a "trivial case," as in 1 Corinthians 6? What if the brothers are from different churches, one of which refuses to bring significant detrimental behavior into line? What if the matter is demonstrably illegal and would bring immense suffering to your family?1 Corinthians 6 deals with two brothers in a single church dealing with a trivial matter that should just be "let go." That size teaching does not fit all situations, and it is somewhat reductionistic to try to make it so." - James McDonald
This is so sad to watch. McDonald knows and admits that the key verses are such a clear teaching but then goes right ahead to play his "what if" games. As if God never considered the what ifs when He wrote the clear instructive passages. You can come up with all of the imagined what ifs you like - God does not change! Stop looking for reasons to disobey Him! If He says do not sue brethren then do not sue brethren. God does not stutter nor change His mind. Regardless of what the disputes were about in Corinth it is not our job to assume that means different rules apply if the matter is more serious. If that were the case, God would have told us! The arrogance is staggering. God says do not sue brethren but James McDonald adds to scripture to say that only applies in small claims court. Unreal.
'"When The Elephant's Debt began posting their criticism, we dug deeply into personal and organizational reflection. We have repeatedly tried to meet with them, and if the bloggers let their "reasonableness be known to all men" (Phil. 4:5) and simply sat down with us, they would learn of the positive changes that initially came from their critical approach. Ongoing appeals have yielded no fruit, though we remain open to meeting in person and ending the legal case. In the meantime, by assuming the right to influence our church while refusing to listen to the authority of our church leaders, they forfeit the protection given to brothers in 1 Corinthians 6. According to Matthew 18:17 their refusing to "hear the church" requires that they be related to as non-believers, as "gentiles and tax collectors."' - James McDonald
Wow, that is painfully bad use of scripture. Do you remember the three elders referenced before that were deemed satanic to the core? I forgot to mention James ex-communicated them from the fellowship. That's the power trip he appears on and these statements only support that. The key verses are instructions from God regarding the simple fact that brethren should never sue brethren. This is an instruction for the entire church, not just Harvest Bible Chapel. What James McDonald has done here is remove a promise from God based upon a perceived slight upon him. The former members of his church that are now speaking out do not have to listen to the authority of the church they left in order to speak about it. That is absurd but what is more absurd is that God would somehow remove His command to not sue them because of it. Further compounding this is a complete abusing of Matthew 18. This has to do with a brother sinning against you not when your pastor goes rogue. Is McDonald actually suggesting that these former members become no better than the unsaved because they refused to have the church they are criticizing judge that criticism? By church I mean James McDonald of course.
"Protecting the Church. Still some ask, "Wasn't Jesus lied about and spat upon? Aren't we called to the same?" Yes, on a personal level we are to turn the other cheek when offended, and Christ in his passion, "when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate" (1 Pet. 2:23). A conversation with Wayne Grudem, the widely respected theologian and my seminary professor, helped me understand that we should model our response to criticism after Christ's ministry (John 8:49) not his road to the cross, when his total silence was a unique fulfillment of prophecy." - James McDonald
Yeah, McDonald is protecting himself and his brand but not the church. Wayne Grudem is not a respected theologian. He is an NAR advocate who idolizes this country before the God he claims to serve. You can tell by the carnal answer he gave. John 8:49 is Jesus speaking to the Pharisees! Are you seriously suggesting that our response to criticism as Christian ought to be modeled after how Christ dealt with the Pharisees? Please.
'I accept criticism as part of my calling; some of it is deserved, most of it well intentioned, and all of it used by the Lord to sanctify myself and our church's leaders. However, a real turning point for our church leadership was the realization that our first responsibility was to protect the church when that criticism went on to impact them. In the wake of what was being published online, innocent people didn't just leave our church, but too often left the church. We saw the effects not just in Chicago, but worldwide, wherever our broadcasts and church plants had spread. Friends lost their sons to the faith. New believers who struggled to trust Christ and any authority too often jumped to "fears confirmed" and retreated into unbelief. People who were saved through our ministry and feeling first time joy in Christ were devastated to read the vitriol. Treasured staff who supported us fully, resigned saying, "We love you, we believe in this ministry, but we must find a place of peace."' - James McDonald
I think it is painfully obvious by now that James McDonald does not accept criticism at all. You must understand that the critical factor here is the truth. What is true and what is not. When I review the accusations versus the parts already admitted to it seems the truth is on the side of the former members. McDonald admitted to his frequent gambling in 2014. The three elders who were ex communicated and publicly rebuked as satanic? McDonald issued a public apology to them all for unbiblical discipline. The story where McDonald explains that he is lengthening his board to dilute their power? Multiple witnesses. So spare us your faux indignation James. Your people are leaving because of what you did not because someone has now told then what you did.
"So much damage to so many innocent people -- that is what, after six years, prompted us to study the Scriptures afresh regarding established authority, ordained by God to punish wrongdoers (Rom. 13:1-6). In America, free speech is not universal. You can't yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater because negligently causing a dangerous stampede of people is not protected speech, but a breach of the law with serious consequences. We have called on authorities, in this case, the court in Cook County, to look carefully at the actions of these bloggers and rule on whether their publications against our church for six years have broken multiple civil laws. We are not trying to do God's job; we are asking the authorities God's established to do theirs. We are not seeking vengeance or retribution. We have not filed this suit because we fear something big will be uncovered or to gain any damages. (The cost of our lawsuit is covered by two of our elders, not from church family offerings.) We love the body of Christ, and stand ready to give grace and forgive, for in many ways God used the bloggers in the beginning but there is no righteous role remaining for them. We want them to move on and leave the governance of our church to our biblical eldership and congregation. We pray for the bloggers' peace and for a new season of freedom from outside interference for the people of Harvest Bible Chapel. Over and over we have asked God to protect our church--and we now believe he has, through the government authorities he ordained (Rom. 13:1-6)." - James McDonald
Romans 13 has nothing to do with suing the brethren and does not negate 1Corinthians 6. Former church members exposing a pastor's misdeeds is not akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater. You can say this is not revenge but it sure smells like it. This appears to be an attempt to shut up people who are revealing dirty little secrets and costing James McDonald his business.He has no authority to decide who has righteous use left or not. If you truly loved the body of Christ you would obey scripture and stop twisting it. You would not sue your brethren. To finish off this ridiculously carnal defense, he dares to claim that God is protecting Harvest Bible Chapel by allowing McDonald to tear down the church as a whole and abuse the word of God in the process. James McDonald should spend more time understanding God's commands rather than how to get around them through nuance. The key verses are clear as he admits. These matters should not have been lain before people who have no standing in the church. He does so only to his great shame.
Reverend Anthony Wade - November 2, 2018