This post is an analysis of Harvest Bible Chapels’ statement that James MacDonald is disqualified from ministry. In addition, the former Harvest pastor released a statement to his Facebook group. This post looks at that statement and finds a classic narcissist.
“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.”
“Withhold admiration from a narcissist and be disliked. Give it and be treated with indifference.”
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
1 Peter 2:15-16 NIV
This is a follow up post today that this blog has been meaning to finish. This post may seem a little scattered but I am trying to fit in a couple of Harvest stories into one post.
Thoughts on Harvest Bible Chapel’s Statement on James MacDonald’s Disqualification From Ministry
On Saturday November 2, 2019 Harvest Bible Chapel released a statement that said that James MacDonald is disqualified from ministry. You can read that statement in, “Preserving Harvest Bible Chapel’s Statement on James MacDonald Being Disqualified for Ministry.” This blog has thought about this statement and has a number of questions. First while it is welcome to see, what took Harvest Bible Chapel so long? When James MacDonald was fired from Harvest in February of 2019 why wasn’t a statement put out then? How many pastors do you know of that talk about how they want to plant child pornography on another person’s computer? While I welcome the statement I remain baffled as to why it took almost nine months. After all why can a blogger in the Washington, D.C. area learn and interact with more people and see the problems and then leaders of Harvest just sit on the issue? It perplexes me.
Also why wasn’t the statement more specific as well? Why not state that James MacDonald is not qualified for ministry either at Harvest Bible Chapel or any other Christian church? The devil, as they say, is in the details and this statement could have been tighter and been more airtight. Also why all the fluff early on in the statement? Who speaks like that? Can you imagine a serial killer who killed a large number of people being described, as the following. “He was a nice guy, a bonus to the community who really glorified God. Yes he killed seven people but let’s not forget that he was used mightily by God.” This statement had problems in case you have not read in between the lines in what I am saying. On Twitter Scott Bryant said something that I decided to insert into this post.
Scott Bryant’s Question on Twitter
The former writer of The Elephant’s Debt Scott Bryant raised a good question on Twitter that deserved to be looked at.
James MacDonald’s Response
In a Facebook group James MacDonald issued the following statement that was in response to the statement from Harvest Bible Chapel.
I trust this timing finds you well in the Lord and growing in your awareness of how good He truly is. Our efforts to work through existing channels in our former church have reached an unsuccessful end, leading to this release of words we have long sought to express.
Our lifetime calling continues to be “igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth.” Yet God, in His sovereignty, appointed for me and Kathy this chastening (Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 12:7-11) and abrupt termination last February from the church we founded and have loved for more than 30 years. It has taken an extended time of silence to see the Lord’s hand, see my sin fully and speak about it non-defensively.
I was, am, and will remain very sorry for the careless and hurtful words that were illegally recorded and publicized. I immediately sent written apologies where appropriate, grieving what it revealed about the state of my heart at the time, as well as the hurt caused to those who trusted us to be a more consistent example of Christlikeness. I have no excuse and am truly sorry.
I confess to all who have followed my ministry, a regression into sinful patterns of fleshly anger and self pity that wounded co-workers and others. These sin issues had been points of growth and victory as expressed through my preaching and writing, but I fell back beginning in late 2016 and have only myself to blame. I wrestled with the stress I felt, the injustice I endured, etc. Yet, over time I have come to see only myself and my own relational failing in the mirror, and with grief and sorrow I ask your forgiveness.
As part of this, I have come to see my sin of handling pressure in a way that got things done, but neglected the priority of love and the presiding humility of serving others first. Letters have been sent to those the Holy Spirit has brought to mind, owning what is true without reference to what is false. We are looking to the Lord to keep my focus here as long as it takes in hopes of reconciliation with every willing heart.
Failed Decision Making
This relational decline led to regrettable decisions, such as Senior Staff transitions with some of our best leaders departing, my reactive resignation from Harvest Bible Fellowship, the fearful and defensive lawsuit, the rapid move of Walk in the Word to digital-only, etc.
All of these big-impact “retreat decisions” were initiated out of the desperation I felt, and from my clearer thinking today, I see how wrong I was. I recognize how these actions undermined team member support for my leadership, eroding the margin of grace between us. I am especially grieved for certain co-leaders who felt wounded by me and deserved better – those who have expressed it and those who have not. We had many moments of joyful partnership, the memories of which I will always treasure. I am deeply and forever sorry to each of you and pray, in God’s timing, for the opportunity to say that personally.
Decisions by the current Elder/staff, along with inaccurate announcements and recent public condemnation, signaled clearly the timing to communicate our message directly. With sadness we accept that no face-to-face confession or truth-advancing interaction will be forthcoming.
The above matters are now in Christian arbitration where impartial believers will hear and give a written, objective ruling. As we cannot give specifics, we are trusting the Lord for truth to be revealed in His time, and we covet your prayers.
2 Corinthians 3:2,5-6
“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all… Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
After waiting many months in hope of a pathway toward restoration, we have been welcomed into the congregation of New Life Covenant Church in Humboldt Park, Chicago. A multi-ethnic church under Pastor Wilfredo DeJesus, New Life has embraced us in love, offering us a place to serve and the beginnings of healing community.
Please know that God continues His work in my heart – we have never doubted the Lord or His Word and believe He is not done with us. We are planning a future focused on preaching and teaching God’s Word, helping pastors preach the Bible more impactfully, living the mandate of Christ’s love, and being free from the weight of large organizational leadership, which was simply too much for me. In time we hope you will think of us as serving the Lord with gladness while we enjoy our kids and grandkids, who continue to flourish in local church ministry where God has planted them.
We look forward to more frequent communication with you as the Lord continues giving light to our next steps. Thank you for your interest and prayers.
Warmly in Christ our Savior,
James and Kathy MacDonald
Analysis of MacDonald’s Response
Poor James MacDonald is what came to my mind when I read that statement. James is really suffering and is the victim in this entire Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. Notice how he draws attention to other activities and not his own. For example he points to the illegal hot mike and has to insert that comment. This is a man that wants to be the center of attention and craves the spotlight. James does what is best for James. There were 30 years of problems at Harvest Bible Chapel and this statement comes across really cheap. Even worse I fear it has caused more harm in the end. From what this blog has heard no written apologies were sent out. If I am mistaken then please correct me. If you received a personal note from James MacDonald his blog would be honored to publish it. In the statement James MacDonald blames shifts and rationalizes his behavior. He excuses it and does so in a way that makes you want to have pity. However, that would be a major mistake. With a narcissist you need to notice what they do and not what they say. In the opinion of this blog this is a really sorry statement and people should not put too much credibility into it.