When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud--even your own brothers! - 1Corinthians 6: 1-8 (ESV)
Beloved there are some who think maters of discernment ministries bring the ministers joy and nothing can be further from the truth. Despite the grief felt for sheep led astray it is also never fun to have to learn how yet another pastor that seemed respectable has apparently allowed the carnality of this world to infect his ministry and thus his message. I have seen James McDonald over the years and always found him to be a credible pastor. So I was concerned when I came across the first link above from Christianity today which appears to be James explaining why his decision to sue fellow Christians is somehow biblical, which it most certainly is not. Then in order to write this I needed to understand why he would be suing someone to begin with and that research led to the second link, which is the summary of events from the folks being sued. Now obviously this is their version of events but it seems pretty well sourced and backed up. It details decades of financial malfeasance committed by James McDonald to the tune of having his church once fall 70 million in debt while he was receiving a 40% pay increase to $350,000. Tales of a Mark Driscoll-esque power grab where McDonald expanded his board from 12 to 30 so they would have less individual power. Publicly admitted gambling problems from McDonald after railing against gambling from thre pulpit. Accusing three such elders of being "satanic to the core" publicly because they had the temerity to ask for a line item budget of expenses. I know this much beloved, when there is this much smoke there is usually a house on fire. So let us reason together through James McDonald now trying to explain why he is suing the former church members who have been exposing his actions now for several years.
"Harvest Bible Chapel has not strayed from its 30-year commitment to the unapologetic preaching of God's Word, nor have we forgotten the explicit teaching of 1 Corinthians 6:1-9. We'd like to share our biblical rationale for reluctantly deciding to take our critics to court." - James McDonald
Let me first state the obvious. Harvest Bible Chapel did not write this article. James McDonald did. The church does not stand accused of anything. James McDonald does. This opening appears designed to try and not make this about him. I am glad he referenced the key verses today because they will be applied correctly in this devotional.
'A Deeper Understanding of Scripture. Throughout church history, cultural happenings have forced a more carefully nuanced consideration of biblical application. In the first centuries, major areas of Christology were refined to combat error. In recent decades, the charismatic movement brought a more nuanced study of the scriptural teaching on spiritual gifts and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.Many of us remember the near unanimous evangelical stance on divorce prior to the 1970s, when most churches held strictly to "no divorce, no remarriage." Then with the rise in divorce rates and a few high visibility Christian leaders getting divorced, all were pushed back into the Scripture for a view that considered all biblical teaching on the subject. In just a few years, the prevailing view changed to include "exception language" from the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 19:9) and Paul (1 Cor. 7:15). The Scriptures had not changed, but cultural trends had again caused a more careful study of all biblical passages on divorce, versus the more simplistic "the Lord God " hates divorce"' (Mal. 2:16). - James McDonald
Not off to a good start James. This is not a deeper understanding of Scripture but rather a far more shallow one where our prejudices and desire to disobey change what God is actually saying. When something is nuanced it becomes shaded. What was black and white now has gradations. That is how the carnal world operates not the church. The bible is black and white and truth is absolute not nuanced. We should never allow culture to change what God said, period. The examples he gave are quite telling. The charismatic nuances of spirit baptism are routinely challenged as being unscriptural. It has led to many in charismatic circles as being marginalized. If you have not spoken tongues some claim you're not even saved. Absolute hogwash. Look what he admits in his divorce argument! That when divorce rates rose, they nuanced scripture to allow divorce in some cases. That is expressly why you do not allow culture to sway doctrine!
"The perfection of God's holy Word is best seen in the way all relevant passages work together to form a consistent unity. Reductionism is the logical fallacy of "making the main thing the only thing." As Christians we can make this error by forcing one passage to speak with finality on a more broadly covered biblical subject." - James McDonald
I agree that we should never look at scripture in isolation but take into account all relevant passages but that is not what he has been arguing. He has been arguing "nuancing" scripture to excuse behavior. Sometimes James, the main thing is the only thing. This line of thinking is what christo-feminists engage in when excusing women pastors. This despite there being two directive and clear passages saying it is not allowed. Instead they nuance any story where a female is mentioned and nuance the text until she is on a pastoral level. Why? So they can dismiss out of hand the main thing - the two directive scriptures they had. Now James is going to try and do this with the key verses: