“Garrett doesn’t want to slander the Bride of Christ.” This was what I heard from a couple of people in response to yesterday’s post. This blog looks at a warped aspect of evangelical culture. That of staying silent in the midst of allegations of abuse. After all can it be said that Garrett Higbee, Fred Adams, Dean Butters, Kent Shaw and Dan Plantz enabled allegations of sexual and domestic abuse at Harvest by choosing to stay silent?
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
Martin Luther King
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NIV
The post I wrote yesterday generated a number of responses that I found myself dealing with. That post has also led to today’s post. The post I wrote was about Garrett Higbee and Kent Shaw. You can read that in, “Harvest Bible Chapel: Did Garrett Higbee Violate Confidentiality at Harvest? Plus How Kent Shaw Covered for James MacDonald and a Backroom Deal Between the Southern Baptist Convention and Harvest Bible Chapel.“
An Observation this Writer is Noticing
In several interactions I heard some good feedback on Garrett Higbee. Several people expressed personal interactions with him inside Harvest Bible Chapel. When interacting with those individuals I asked them a question. My question was, “Why didn’t Garrett Higbee speak up and address these issues with Harvest Bible Chapel?” The answer I received is that, “Garrett doesn’t want to slander the Bride of Christ.” I heard this through different means and I found it odd. It seemed almost cult-like to me in many ways.
Its this blog’s belief that speaking up and out actually shows deeper faith and how much you care about it. How is the Gospel being helped when people are staying silent about serious allegations of abuse and more? When James MacDonald goes into rages against people how is being silent helping the cause of Christ? (Please understand in this post I am trying to use their language.) For me this shows a serious deficient faith when people turn the other way and choose to stay silent. According to what I have heard Garrett Higbee was allegedly close with James MacDonald. In a figurative sense I have also heard that Garrett Higbee would know, “where all the bodies are buried.” Garrett Higbee knows what is going on behind the scenes and if he spoke up he could end this situation with James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel by Christmas. But Garrett Higbee chooses to stay silent and carry on. That aspect of evangelical Christian culture it sick and has to change. To speak the truth and call it as it is, is being honest. I wonder if Garrett Higbee and others would have a problem with Jesus’ teaching and his sometimes direct questions and comment. What would that say about Harvest Bible Chapel if even Jesus ran afoul of the system that James MacDonald created?
When the Aspect of the Story Changes with Sexual and Domestic Abuse Allegations
But there is another aspect to this story that needs to be considered. According to what this writer has heard there are some dark aspects to Harvest Bible Chapel that have not broken. They are troubling, disturbing and sickening. They are some serious allegations that still are going to come out in the course of time. They deal with serious allegations of sexual abuse and domestic abuse. They are unsettling and will give a person pause. Now having written all that let’s look at what Garrett Higbee believes from another angle. When there are allegations of sexual abuse and domestic abuse and someone is saying that they don’t want to “slander the Bride of Christ” are they enabling sexual and domestic abuse? If they are professing to have a deep faith and say this for years while allegations of abuse are being covered up behind the scenes this blog would like to ask, what kind of faith does Garrett Higbee have? What kind of faith does anyone have when that is their response amidst serious allegations of sexual or domestic abuse? Martin Luther King once said that men who stay silent when they should speak up. Can that apply to Garrett Higbee? Furthermore could you say that individuals like Garrett Higbee are sinning when they stay silent when allegations of abuse are present? If you take this position here is my question? How does Garrett Higbee or anyone else sleep at night? How can you lay in bed and drift off to sleep saying such a thing and enabling a system that is allegedly covering up sexual abuse?
Will Garrett Higbee, Dan Plantz, Kent Shaw, Dean Butters or Fred Adams Take the Correct Course of Action?
As a result this blog would like to issue a challenge to the following individuals.
- Fred Adams (Former Chief Financial Officer of Harvest Bible Chapel)
- Dean Butters (Former Executive Director of Business Operations of Harvest Bible Chapel)
- Kent Shaw (Former Executive Director of Harvest Bible Fellowship)
- Dan Plantz (Former Director of Camp Harvest)
- Garrett Higbee (Former Director of Biblical Soul Care)
The time for silence is over. Momentum as a result of Julie Roys article is building. I very much hope that the above mentioned individuals will do the right thing. When these stories of sexual and domestic abuse eventually come out all of these individuals should then be looked at in a different light. Why? Because perhaps speaking up earlier could have helped some people from experiencing abuse. Its important to be on the right side of history when it comes to the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. The questions I will ask to Garrett, Fred, Dean, Kent, and Dan is the following…where do you stand when it comes to abuse? Will you speak up now and take the right course of action?
The Courage of Bob Langdon, Alan Tsao, Mike Bryant, and R.T. Maldaner
This brings me to my final point. Harvest Bible Chapel in my view will be remembered as the Mars Hill of Chicago. In the near future I plan on writing a post that looks at the similarities between Harvest Bible Chapel and Mars Hill of Seattle. In this brand of Neo-Calvinism there is a hyper view of masculinity. MacDonald likes to wear leather and if memory serves me correctly got a tattoo of the Vertical church logo. Mark Driscoll meanwhile warned of a pussified nation and wanted a Jesus that was into MMA and who could beat the $%#@ out of you. That is hypermasculinity in the Neo-Calvinist world. So while those other individuals that I mentioned above stay quiet I want to draw some attention to some brave individuals.
The story by Julie Roys struck me in a unique way. The story she published in World magazine had a number of people in the know about Harvest that went public and on the record. For comparison compare Julie Roys story with what was written about C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries in the Washingtonian magazine in the Washington, D.C. area. In the Washingtonian article a number of people spoke but they didn’t speak openly. One of the only individuals who did was Pam Palmer. In the Julie Roys story stop and consider who spoke on the record and open. Men like Bob Langdon, Alan Tsao, Mike Bryant, and R.T. Maldaner. Now for me that is courage. That is what it means to be a man. To stand for the truth, go against the wind, and speak up. It would have been easy for Bob, Alan, Mike and R.T. to be silent or to remain bullied into silence. They could have folded under pressure. Instead they challenged James MacDonald and the Harvest Bible Chapel culture. This blog has the highest respect for all those who went on the record and went public. That’s courage, honesty and integrity. Its my hope that Garrett Higbee, Fred Adams, Dean Butters, Kent Shaw and Dan Plantz will be more like Alan Tsao, Bob Langdon, Mike Bryant and R.T. Maldaner.