Harvest Bible Chapel in Fresno, California is led by Ben Dosti. This is a church both in the Southern Baptist Convention and Great Commission Collective. This is also a church that is toxic and has deep systematic issues. The recommended reading list is a virtual whos who of evangelical scandal and corruption.
“If there was one life skill everyone on the planet needed, it was the ability to think with critical objectivity.”
“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks.”
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:11-14 NIV
Tower Theater in Fresno.
Today we are going to look at the Harvest Bible Chapel in Fresno, California. This is a church that has serious issues but before we explore that let’s look at an overview of the church.
An Overview of Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno
The roots of Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno go back to 2011 when it was planted by Harvest Bible Fellowship. The pastor who planted Harvest Bible Chapel is Ben Dosti. Ben is from Los Angeles, California and attended UCLA. He also obtained a M.A. from Luther Rice Seminary and a Masters of Divinity from the Masters Seminary. Prior to planting Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno Ben served as the Senior Pastor of Pastoral Care in John MacArthur at Grace Community Church. He did preaching and counseling for small groups in John MacArthur’s church. This blog has written about John MacArthur before. Not long ago a dark story emerged from the Masters College. A woman was raped and Rick Holland and John MacArthur decide the woman needs to repent for inciting her rapist and tempting him. After that she is disciplined and removed and the rapist is protected. You can read more in, “The Tragic Story of a Rape Victim from the Masters College as Led by John MacArthur Who was Allegedly Ordered to Repent to her Rapist for Inciting her Sexual Assault for being a Woman.” Ben is married to his wife Sonja and they have two children. You can learn more about Sonja at her website.
Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno today is at about 200 people. It started out at 70 and slowly grew. It joined the Great Commission Collective and is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Why Harvest Bible Fresno is Toxic and to be Avoided
Let’s look at the recommended books below. Read it over and study it. I am going to offer commentary below.
Single and Married Men, Fatherhood
Husbands and Fathers
- The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective by Stuart Scott
- The Complete Husband: A Practical Guide to Biblical Husbanding by Lou Priolo
- Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes by Voddie Baucham
Men and Young Men – General
- Disciplines of a Godly Man by. R. Kent Hughes
- The Measure of a Man: Twenty Attributes of a Godly Man by Gene Getz
- What He Must Be: …If He Wants to Marry My Daughter by Voddie Baucham
- Thoughts for Young Men by J.C. Ryle
- I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
Single and Married Women, Motherhood
Wives & Mothers
- The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace
- Becoming a Titus 2 Woman; A Bible Study by Martha Peace
- Helper by Design: God’s Perfect Plan for Women in Marriage by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
Women and Young Women – General
- Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes
- Feminine Appeal (New Expanded Edition with Questions) by Carolyn Mahaney
- A Woman After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
- Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney
- Lies Young Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free By Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- Strengthening Your Marriage by Wayne Mack
- What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul Tripp
- When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage by Dave Harvey
- The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim Keller
Parenting and Family Devotions
Parenting Children General
- The Heart of Anger
- Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
- The Faithful Parent: A Biblical Guide to Raising a Family by Martha Peace and Stuart Scott
- Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Christ: Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson
- Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley
- Your Family, God’s Way: Developing and Sustaining Relationships in the Home by Wayne Mack
- Gospel-Centered Parenting by Rick Thomas
- What The Bible Says About Parenting: Biblical Principles For Raising Godly Children by John MacAruthur,
- Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande
- Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo
- Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul Tripp
- When Good Kids Make Bad Choices: Help and Hope for Hurting Parents by Elyse Fitzpatrick, James
- Newheiser. and Laura Hendrickson
- You Never Stop Being a Parent: Thriving in Relationship With Your Adult Children by Elyse Fitzpatrick and James Newheiser
Devotions for Children
- Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Marty Machowski
- The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments by Marty Machowski
- The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones (Toddlers to 3st Grade)
- Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce Ware
Devotions for Adults and Teens
- Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ, by John MacArthur
- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney
- Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne Grudem
- A Gospel Primer for Christians: Learning to See the Glories of God’s Love by Milton Vincent
- Comforts from the Cross (Redesign): Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time by Elyse Fitzpatrick
- Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (Excellent for Teens and Young Adults)
- Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper
- Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, by Arthur Bennett
- Morning & Evening by Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Also available free online)
- Your Money Counts: The Biblical Guide to Earning, Spending, Saving, Investing, Giving, and Getting Out of Debt by Howard L. Dayton
- Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide by Randy Alcorn
- The Root of Riches by Chuck Bentley
- Whose Money Is It Anyway? by John MacArthur
- The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
- The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving (LifeChange Books) by Randy Alcorn
Why Many Books on This List are Toxic. Is Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno a Cult?
When I saw that list my jaw hit the ground. In light of some of the scandals that took place in evangelical Christianity I could not believe that Ben Dosti chooses to push material from organizations choking in scandal.
Why all the Sovereign Grace material being pushed on there? The work by Carolyn Mahaney and Josh Harris? At least there is no C.J. Mahaney on there. If you recall Mahaney boasted of demanding sex from his wife Carolyn when she had morning sickness and was hugging the toilet. Carolyn enabled her husband and if my memory is correct claims that he was being persecuted. So the man who allegedly covered up child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace and who practiced blackmail on Larry Tomczak is being “persecuted.” If you want to read the transcript of Mahaney’s blackmail you can do so in, “Has God Foreordained an Alleged Child Sex Abuse Cover up in Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches? Is that why CJ Mahaney is so Sacred?“ In regards to Dave Harvey does Ben Dosti realize that he is facing credible allegations of covering up child sex abuse at his former Sovereign Grace Church in Pennsylvania? I researched and wrote about Dave Harvey in, “An Overview of the Sojourn Network out of Louisville, Kentucky.” Why is someone like Dave Harvey who doesn’t even meet the qualifications of elder being supported and promoted? How could someone who went to UCLA struggle this much with discernment and critical thinking skills?
Here is another question for Ben Dosti. Does he realize that Josh Harris has rejected his book and talks about how dangerous his advice was? How he was too young when he wrote about it? And he is aware of the pain and destroyed lives that came about as a result of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye?” Josh Harris put out a statement about his book in the summer of 2018. You can read more about the issues within the book and movement in, “Recommended Read in the Washington Post: The Implosion of Josh Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye.” In regards to Wayne Grudem does Ben Dosti realize that he does not believe the traditional and historic view of the trinity? That because of eternal subordination of the son Wayne Grudem has theology more in line with Mormonism as Mormons reject the trinity. And yet this is the guy who is the author of systemic theology? You can read more about the issue in, “Wayne Grudem’s Un-Orthodox View of the Trinity and the Question that Must Be Asked: Can the ESV Bible be Trusted?“ I could go on with Bruce Ware, Voddie Baucham, John Piper, and more and write about their issues on patriarchy, domestic abuse and more.
Reading all this makes me ask the question. Is Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno a cult? In writing and researching the issues inside Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago and James MacDonald many former members believe it is. The dark stories that are coming out are troubling. But many former members who have families on the edge because of the scandal claim that is it a cult. The reasons they explain to me I see in Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno as I studied the website. It also raises questions such as how healthy is Great Commission Collective (GCC)? Some GCC pastors still worship James MacDonald where does pastors like Ben Dosti stand? When Julie Roys from World magazine wrote about the issues with James MacDonald where does Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno stand? When it was learned that MacDonald allegedly used the pictures of an elders wife for target practice or used a butter knife to stab a picture of a former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor where do GCC churches like Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno stand? You can read that story about Julie Roys in, “Julie Roys Through World Magazine Writes About Alleged Financial Misconduct and Abuse at James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel.” These are question that deserve serious attention. But I would avoid Harvest Bible Chapel Fresno after studying the website.