“I Won’t Slander the Bride of Christ” Addressing Evangelical Cultural Issues on Speaking Up and Challenging James MacDonald. Will Garrett Higbee, Dan Plantz, Kent Shaw, Dean Butters or Fred Adams Have the Courage to Speak Up?

“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.”

Thomas Jefferson

“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

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.

15 thoughts on ““I Won’t Slander the Bride of Christ” Addressing Evangelical Cultural Issues on Speaking Up and Challenging James MacDonald. Will Garrett Higbee, Dan Plantz, Kent Shaw, Dean Butters or Fred Adams Have the Courage to Speak Up?

  1. To tie the above mentioned men to allegations of sexual and domestic abuse that have not been made public is irresponsible. It is the opposite of faith. And you will be accountable for these words.

    I believe James is in the wrong and have been personally hurt by Harvest – but you are out over your skis on this one.

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    • Ironic how a commenter said you will be held accountable while they’re posting anonymously so they, themselves, won’t be held accountable. That’s how this works, right?

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    • I think it was appropriate. I’ve heard rumors too– more than rumors actually. We have the charges brought against Paxton Singer for indecent solicitation of high school boys, and the lack of response by HBC, with no warning to the parents that it was boys he was after, not girls. What this post says is that more scandal is on the way. It is vague because the allegations are not clear yet. But people should be ready.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Which of those men were working at Harvest during the time period of the recent abuse scandal at Harvest? This is the major weakness of this article. I have no way of knowing if the recent abuse was reported properly, but the men listed wouldn’t have any responsibility over supervising him or reporting it in the roles they were in and most were gone by the time this happened. This kind of reporting distracts from the real issues because it’s so speculative that it’s not helpful. If you know people that know of cover up of abuse, then encourage them to share because it would be a powerful indictment. However, I spent 23 years inside Harvest, know most of the key players personally and I haven’t ever heard allegations like these. Given the nature of sin and how it spreads, nothing surprises me in how power, money, and sex corrupt leaders. However, I have my doubts that these rumors are more than rumors.

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      • Tim I think the sexual abuse allegations and domestic abuse will be coming out next. People are sharing stories today that they were frightened of sharing 2 months ago. Harvest Bible is a culture of fear. I stand by my analysis as I have many strong sources and they are affirming the stories. Right now people are afraid but the stories I believe will come. Consider the situation at Willow Creek. The abuse allegations and sexual harassment was attacked as being gossip and rumors. That was before it was on the front page of the New York Times.

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  2. Will Garrett Higbee, Dan Plantz, Kent Shaw, Dean Butters or Fred Adams Have the Courage to Speak Up?

    And Burn in Hell for All Eternity?
    “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED!”

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  3. All those involved in leadership should read Ezekiel. It says a lot about the duties of leaders.
    Ezekiel 8:12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
    8:13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
    8:16 And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
    8:18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

    9:1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
    9:2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.

    11:8 Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.
    11:9 And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.
    11:10 Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In recent years, I have talked multiple times with Garrett Higbee and know for a fact that he often spoke up about the difficult dynamics at play within Harvest and their staff culture. To say that he is covering up sexual abuse or domestic violence is quite the claim unless you have a specific allegation in mind. If you have knowledge that he did cover up sexual abuse or domestic violence, then make the claim and I am certain that he would respond to such an allegation. It is inconsistent with the man that I know that he would disregard either of those issues.

    Higbee was departed from Harvest before any of the allegations with Paxton Singer ever materialized. Being employed as a Psychologist (with Psy D.) before coming to Harvest, and working with kids who went through trauma professionally, he was well aware of the dynamics of abuse and the kinds of questions to ask to discover it. I know that the whole controversy at Harvest grieves him and he would affirm that many aspects of Harvest leadership culture are unhealthy.

    As a counselor, it is hard to know how to speak up in helpful ways as you have conversations with people that are expected to be held in confidence. My dad faced this same tension being an elder who oversaw and created the initial ministry of biblical counseling at Harvest. I served at the first Harvest Bible Chapel church plant and oversaw counseling for part of my 12 years in serving at that church.

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  5. Taking a stand against toxic churches that abuse is not remotely “slandering the Bride of Christ”. I would add that slander involves the deliberate dissemination of lies. This article addresses abuse that the elders are personally aware of, ergo not rumors, gossip or slander.

    Cults are not churches and wolves are not pastors. Exposing corrupt/unethical “pastors” in public does not stop anyone from following Christ. It helps to stop innocents from following an abusive cult leader and exposing their families to very real harm.

    God calls us to be Bereans. He tells us to call out and challenge false teachers. Leaders who try to pervert these truths by invoking images of driving the masses away from God need to reconsider such a position. More people are turned away from the “Church” when they realize other pastors and elders covered up the abuse of a pastor than they do when the honest make calls for valid confession and repentance from abusive pastors.

    It’s the coverups and silence that cause the most damage to the Bride of Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good insight on motivation. It amazes me how many people don’t know what actual slander is. Telling the truth and calling it out is not slander. What were dealing with is a questionable entity fighting for its survival. Harvest is a cult. So many former members say that and I believe them.

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  6. Pingback: Jackie Black From Redeemer Arlington is Pushing Biblical Counseling from Christian Counseling and Education Foundation. Plus Why David Powlison is Allegedly Okay with Rape | Wondering Eagle

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