The allegations of violence by James MacDonald that were written about in World magazine are troubling. Also disturbing is that James MacDonald is scheduled to speak at a Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference in Birmingham, Alabama in June of 2019. The theme of the conference is “Kingdom Character.” How people like David Platt will respond is crucial. Remember David Platt was head of the International Missions Board when the Mark Aderholt, and Anne Marie Miller situation came out. Will David Platt be against the James MacDonald allegations of abuse? What will his stand mean for McLean Bible? And will the Southern Baptists ignore the allegations of violence and what does that mean for Harvest Bible Chapel?
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”
“Violence is an admission that one’s ideas and goals cannot prevail on their own merits.”
“Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9 NIV
David Platt after a service at McLean Bible
This blog which is based in the Washington, D.C. area writes frequently about McLean Bible church. It does so because it is a key church in the Washington, D.C. area and has a lot of influence as a mega church. This blog documented the issues at McLean and how the church was theologically flipped behind the scenes with David Platt coming to power. I have a history with McLean Bible which you can read about in, “The Wondering Eagle’s History with McLean Bible Church.” The situation at Harvest Bible Chapel has a lot of implications to consider for many organizations. Let’s look at the allegations of violence by James MacDonald that were revealed in Julie Roys article in World magazine.
The Disturbing Allegations of Violence in World Magazine
In World magazine there are two situations that are covered which are deeply disturbing. They both address issues of violence alleged by James MacDonald. I had a hard time processing both the more I contemplated what James MacDonald allegedly did. In 2009 Harvest Bible Elder Board Chairman Dave Corning opposed a plan by MacDonald to reorganize the elder board. Betsy Corning, who was Dave’s wife made a deeply disturbing discovery in the lake house at Camp Harvest. The lake house is used by the MacDonalds for personal family retreats. At the lake house Betsy found a picture of herself on the wall of the garage. The picture was a target that had been shot at with what appeared to be a pellet gun. Betsy and another elder’s wife appeared to be prime targets. Hand written beside their images were point values of 50 and 200 points respectively.
The following questions are not easy to ask. But I feel that they must be asked in light of this information. These are the questions that I believe need to be asked of James MacDonald.
- At the time did James MacDonald allegedly fantasize about violence against Betsy Corning?
- Did James MacDonald want Betsy Corning dead?
- Is James MacDonald allegedly capable of violence against Betsy Corning?
- Who allegedly uses a picture of someone they know as target practice?
- Does James MacDonald have a gun and has he allegedly used Betsy Corning’s picture at a rifle or shotgun range for target practice?
- Is this normal behavior for a person to engage in? For me this is the first time I heard of such a situation occurring.
You can read about MacDonald’s response in World magazine. He claimed that he apologized to the Cornings. However, in the article Betsy claims that James MacDonald never apologized for his behavior.
There was another alleged incident of violence also described in World magazine that involved James MacDonald. Mike Hulburt is the former Camp Harvest ground keeper. In 2010 he witnessed James MacDonald use a butter knife where he repeatedly and aggressively stabbed an image of a former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor in front of 15 to 20 close associates. Hulbert told Julie Roys that the incident happened in the camp dining hall after MacDonald yelled at the former camp director Dan Plantz why he had not gotten rid of that picture. Plantz declined to grant Julie Roys an interview. But Bill Pease who worked for Camp Harvest said that Plantz was “bawling, crying.” He allegedly sobbed for 30 minutes after the incident and Plantz and Hulburt were deeply disturbed and shaken by what they watched James MacDonald do.
This situation with the butter knife raises other questions in my mind.
- Is James MacDonald capable of violence against former Harvest Bible Chapel pastors?
- Did James MacDonald want this former Harvest Bible Chapel to be dead?
- Has James MacDonald in other situations allegedly used a knife in an inappropriate manner?
- Is this normal behavior for a person to engage in? I have not heard of such behavior.
I found this behavior in the World magazine article to be deeply disturbing. What is also troubling is that despite the allegations of violence James MacDonald is currently scheduled to speak at a major Southern Baptist Convention conference in the summer of June of 2019. What can a man that allegedly used a picture for target practice or who allegedly stabbed another picture speak about? Well he’s ripe for speaking about character in the Kingdom of God.
The Southern Baptist Pastors Conference in June of 2019
This Southern Baptist Pastors Conference takes place June 9 and 10th in Birmingham Alabama. It is being held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center. This event which is also open to the public is free for Southern Baptist pastors. Dr. Danny Wood who leads Shades Mountain Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is also the president of the conference. The theme of the conference is “Kingdom Character” and is about the beatitudes. The important issue at hand is addressing character issues, especially with some of the problems that have developed inside the Southern Baptist Convention. Here is how the conference describes itself on the website.
The theme for the 2019 Pastors’ Conference is “Kingdom Character” and will focus on the Beatitudes. Today’s news cycle and current events require us to consider what it means to live faithfully as Christians and as pastors. The Beatitudes will be a needed reminder to all of us about the character of Christ-followers. Our conduct grows out of our character and in order to be the people of God advancing the Kingdom of God, we need to have Kingdom character.
With the large number of character issues that we have faced these last couple of years both in the SBC and ministry in general, it is appropriate to remind pastors of Jesus’ vision for the Christian life. It is a compelling and challenging vision reminding us of our own need for Jesus. We hope you will join us in Birmingham! We hope you will be challenged and encouraged in your walk with Christ as we look to Jesus together during these two days.
The conference has a number of speakers to include Andrew Brunson, Dhati Lewis, James MacDonald, Russell Moore, David Platt, Ben Mandrell, Jimmy Scroggins, Robert Smith Jr, Martin Yoiung and Jay and Katherine Wolf. In this post I would like to focus on David Platt and look at his involvement in this conference. Before I get to him in more detail let’s refresh ourselves with a dark scandal that came out of the International Missions Board.
Remembering the Mark Aderholt and Anne Marie Miller Situation
In this situation that I am going to look at its important to remember that this scandal in the Southern Baptists’ International Missions Board (IMB) broke under David Platt. While David Platt was not in charge of the IMB when the cover up happened he was in charge when it came to the surface. This story was originally broken by the Star Telegram down in Texas. What had happened is that the Southern Baptists were aware of sexual abuse of an underage individual for 11 years before the person was finally arrested in South Carolina. This is a brief look at what happened.
In 1996 a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary had groomed and then allegedly abused Anne Marie Miller when she was 16. He used his position to woo, entice and took advantage of her age. While Anne Marie Miller was 16, Mark Aderholt was 25 at the time. He even commented that he had children in the youth group he led that were older than Anne Marie Miller. Anne eventually told a Baptist church what had happened and the IMB became involved and conducted an investigation. When they investigated Mark Aderholt he was a missionary living abroad in Hungary. He resigned and the IMB let him go. He went onto another Southern Baptist church in the course of time. In 2007 the attorney for the IMB Derek Gaubatz advised Anne Marie Miller to let it go. Gaubatz advised Anne Marie Miller to forgive her abuser. If you would like to read more about this I would recommend the following posts that I researched and composed.
- “Anne Marie Miller’s Alleged Sexual Abuse by Mark Aderholt, and Did the Southern Baptist’s International Missions Board Cover it Up? Plus David Platt’s Response.”
- “Writing About an Email Exchange with Anne Marie Miller in December of 2015 When Reviewing Cru’s (Formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) Christmas Conferences.”
- “A Closer Look at Derek Gaubatz the General Counsel for the International Missions Board. Does “Religious Freedom” Mean the Right for the Southern Baptists to Cover Up Sexual Assault?”
- “What Does the IMB Scandal with Mark Aderholt Mean for David Platt and McLean Bible?”
- “Is David Platt’s IMB Taking Down Documents that Pertain to the Anne Marie Miller and Mark Aderholt Situation?”
David Platt addressed the situation and I believe committed to having it examined and not ignore it. He appeared to be sincere about the abuse allegations. David is currently out of the IMB and dedicated to teaching at McLean Bible. I will explain in my next section but how David Platt responds to the allegations against James MacDonald will reveal a lot about his ministry, the health of McLean Bible and how the Southern Baptists view James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel.
Why is James MacDonald Speaking at the Pastors Conference? Will David Platt Share the Speaking Platform with an Alleged Abuser? What Does that Mean for the Southern Baptist Convention? What Does is Mean for Harvest Bible Chapel? What Does it Mean for McLean Bible?
The writer of this blog would like to pose the following question. The theme of the SBC conference in Birmingham, Alabama is “Kingdom Character.” If the theme is about Christian character and learning to walk more with Jesus I have this one concern. Why is a pastor who allegedly used an elder’s wife picture as target practice or who allegedly stabbed a picture of a former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor being given a platform to speak? Is allegedly threating violence in that capacity apart of being Christ-like? Is the question to be posed “WWJSWABK” and “WWJUFTP?” In other words, “Who Would Jesus Stab With A Butter Knife” or “Who Would Jesus Use For Target Practice?” If James MacDonald is allowed to speak then why was Paige Patterson removed from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary? Why care about the other domestic and sexual abuse situations inside the Southern Baptist Convention?
What does this mean for David Platt? If David Platt disregards the allegations of abuse by James MacDonald was he committed to making sure that Anne Marie Miller will find peace and closure in her situation with Mark Aderholt? If James MacDonald’s allegations of abuse are ignored then what does this mean for domestic abuse situations inside McLean Bible? Will they be ignored and dismissed or will they be taken to police? This should weigh heavily on McLean Bible because the stage that David will share with James MacDonald will speak volumes about his character and integrity. Is David Platt against domestic abuse and violence? If he decides to put book sales and profits ahead of serious allegations of disturbing behavior by James MacDonald then we have a disturbing situation playing out. The risk is that the Southern Baptists by ignoring the allegations of violence can normalize James MacDonald’s behavior. The response by the Southern Baptist to this situation will speak volumes about their commitment to truth, church health and what they claim to believe. If James MacDonald is allowed to show up and preach like nothing has happened then the Southern Baptists in my opinion are a lost cause who is worthless.
What does this mean for Harvest Bible Chapel as well? If James MacDonald’s behavior is considered acceptable are there disturbing cases of domestic abuse and child sex abuse just below the surface that will come out in time? Leadership and culture after all comes from the top. James MacDonald has set the tone when he allegedly uses a butter knife to stab a picture. This is a disturbing post to compose but the question that is raised in my mind is the following. If what Julie Roys writes is true, what is James MacDonald capable of? If he can allegedly stab a picture or use a picture for target practice what is he possibly capable of? Can James MacDonald threaten a person with a knife and act in a rage? Can James MacDonald load a gun and then point it at someone? These are serious and hard questions that need to be asked in the wake of the World magazine article. This evening I spent some time researching some of the infamous school shootings that have taken place in the United States. And to the best of my knowledge the school shooters from Columbine in Colorado, Sandy Hook in Connecticut, and Parkland in Florida have not used pictures as target practice. James MacDonald allegedly did according to World magazine. Can something happen that James can do in a rage that can leave someone deeply hurt, physically wounded or more? These are hard questions that deserve honest answers. But if James is capable of such behavior then why is James MacDonald being given a platform to speak at the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference? This writer would like that question answered.