US pastor sacked, and his books scrapped by Christian publisher

US pastor sacked, and his books scrapped by Christian publisher February 18, 2019
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HARVEST Bible Chapel, a megachurch in Illinois which is in debt to the tune of $42-m, last week dismissed its founder and senior pastor James MacDonald, above, for ‘engaging in conduct … contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.’

MacDonald’s woes were compounded when America’s largest chain of Christian bookstores, LifeWay Christian Resources, decided to stop selling his books and removed all 58 of his items from its website.

LifeWay, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), will also no longer print the books MacDonald released over the past three years through LifeWay Press and B&H Books.

So, what exactly led to MacDonald’s ousting after 30 years in the pulpit?

Last Tuesday, Chicago radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller aired clips of a recording of purported remarks by MacDonald, in which he allegedly insulted critics, including Christianity Today magazine, which reported on irregular goings-on at Harvest, including abusive behavior towards subordinates, and extensive financial mismanagement.

Muller, who says he attended Harvest for years and once considered the church’s pastor a friend, has become one of MacDonald’s most vocal critics.

Several of the comments in the audio clips were aimed at the staff of Christianity Today, the evangelical flagship publication based in the Chicago suburbs. They include vulgar references to Ed Stetzer, a contributing editor to the publication and head of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College; editor-in-chief Mark Galli; and CEO Harold Smith.

MacDonald said of Christianity Today:

CT is Anglican, pseudo-dignity, high church, symphony-adoring, pipe organ-protecting, musty, mild smell of urine, blue-haired Methodist-loving, mainline-dying, women preacher-championing, emerging church-adoring, almost good with all gays and closet Palestine-promoting Christianity, so of course they attacked me.

Harvest elders said:

Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported.

This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors.

Harvest numbers 13,000 attendees across seven locations, and the church began affiliating with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2015. In addition to leading Harvest, MacDonald acquired a massive evangelical following through his books, Bible studies, and Walk in the Word radio program, with more than a million fans on Facebook.

In announcing MacDonald’s termination, Harvest elders stated they are:

Committed to fulfilling our fiduciary duty as the leadership of this congregation, knowing that at times the outcome may be misunderstood or emotionally painful. … We sincerely thank you for your prayers, your support, and your patience as we work together to restore a trust in leadership, a humility to surrender to biblical authority, and a firm resolve to move forward as a church family.

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  • Tawreos

    I would say these elders failed in their fiduciary duty when they allowed the church to get 42 million in debt.

  • Broga

    Whew. They go the distance on debt. I used to worry about my mortgage but it was some way south of $42 million.

  • barriejohn

    Christian publishing is big business, and it’s what rakes in the millions for the big-name pastors. After all, the faithful don’t spend their money on anything else, except maybe “Christian worship” CDs and the odd (sometimes very odd!) “Christian film”. They churn out their tomes of regurgitated bullshit on a production line basis, and the gullible buy them up (often in exchange for a “donation” or “love gift”) in the forlorn hope that the next book they read will bring them the peace and joy that they are constantly promised but never find. Believe me, I know this from personal experience!

  • wannabe

    “When you owe the bank a thousand dollars, you’re in trouble. When you owe the bank a million dollars, the bank is in trouble.”

  • Kevin K

    Popcorn! I need popcorn!

  • Guestie

    $42 million / 13,000 “attendees” = $3,230 per “attendee”. Let’s assume an average household size of 2.5 people so we’re looking at household finance instead of attendee finance. $3,230 x 2.5 = $8,076 per assumed household. Amortize that over a decade or so and it’s about $1,000 per year per household to retire the debt. That assumes 1) no growth in the membership; 2) no large sums from wealthy donors and/or testamentary gifts from easily influenced little old ladies; 3) no corporate takeovers of existing churches that have easily plundered resources.

    The $42 million of debt doesn’t seem unreasonably high to me.

  • 13,000 in the flock and not one actual shepherd to protect them from the wolves.

  • They prolly had their fiduciary glands removed upon ordination.

  • I guess that it’s a good thing that Mittunswillard Romney and some of the other biznezz jeenyesus haven’t started buying up the churches, selling off their property and cobbling together a KKKristStained Potemkin Worship Village in digispace. Then all they would have to do is start up a payroll/SS deduction scheme so’s teh roobz could stay home of a Sunday and STILL get JEEZUZED as hard as they’re used to being JEEZUZED from the meatworld pulpit!

  • You should try the new flavor, “Sour Grapes Schadenfreude!”.

  • Matt G

    In this movie, the role of shepherd is played BY the wolves.

  • I hope that they have a union–and lotta b-b-q sauce!

  • Syzygy

    I can’t tell you how sad this makes me.
    Because it doesn’t.

  • Fraser

    If you need to spend “much time in earnest prayer” to decide the right thing, I suggest you are doing it wrong.

  • Boglify

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

  • EllyR
  • David Heath

    I’m still trying to figure out why they needed Earnest to pray for them. Is he better at it than the rest of that mob?

  • When something that animates leaves the body… what does one call that?

    And I can still hear his laughter and I can still hear his song
    The man’s too big, the man’s too strong
    Well I have tried to be meek and I have tried to be mild
    But I spat like a woman and I sulked like a child
    I have lived behind walls, that have made me alone
    Striven for peace, which I never have known

    The man’s too strong
    ~Dire Straits

    And after all the violence and double talk
    There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife
    You do the walk, yeah, you do the walk of life
    Hmm, you do the walk [on by…]

    Songwriters: Mark Knopfler
    Walk of Life l

  • Yeah all the Thrills and humor of the best ball game you ever attended … not!! Try another pub crawl. I am!!://

  • Michael Anderson

    Downright nasty bastard, isn’t he? Who would Jesus diss?

  • SusieQ666

    I’ve always found it so interesting that nearly all the “mega-churches” have pastors that are well-financed, and believe they can do no wrong. There’s a mega-church not too far from here, and we’ve watched it grow (it’s across the street from a large shopping center) from what looked like an old ranch house, to being renovated, with an ever-enlarging parking lot. Now, they have a parking garage (2 levels, I think) with a humongous and colorful sign with the church’s name on it. That sign is worthy of any large upscale business. Hmmm…The place has always fueled my curiosity, but not enough to go sit through one of their services, or whatever they call their “worship”. Looks and sounds like more of these preachers (and nearly all the mega-churches are affiliated with the SBC, which they often try to hide, or at least not “advertise” in places like out here in CA) worship the “greenbacks” or those big, beautiful banks that hold all their funds. (Except for what gets skimmed off.) I dare say that the location of the church of which I’m speaking, sits on a piece of property worth well over at least $2 million—all tax-free! As a citizen, I feel ripped-off.

  • SusieQ666

    I really find that very sad. “Religion” should enlighten, and not bog followers down with “false promises”.

  • barriejohn

    You’d think that “prayer” was a fairly simple thing, wouldn’t you? After all, it’s just a case of speaking to God and letting him know your desires. Not a bit of it. Here’s a list of SOME of the books available on the subject:

    That doesn’t surprise me, of course, as the reality never matches the promise, and everyone wants an explanation. We all had “Power Through Prayer” (E. M. Bounds) as young Christians, which promised the earth (and more), yet our prayers still went unanswered. Of course, C. H. Spurgeon said that “prayer moves the arm that moves the world”, and that’s plain nonsense. How can an infallible, all-knowing God, who has predestined everything, change his mind at all. The fact that no one has an answer to this dilemma doesn’t matter one iota, just as long as they can keep their gullible followers buying up more of the same in the hope that the NEXT book that they read will contain “the answer”.

  • David Cromie

    I expect the missing $42M will have found its way into the private bank accounts of McDonald, and his family.

  • Ron Swaren

    Isn’t one Baptist just as good as another? I mean when your trailer home is taken out by the tornado don’t you just plunk another one down where it was?

  • Former Christian

    Ah… another one bites the dust! One by one, all these pastors I used to listen to when I was drinking the kool-aid are going down. Started with Bob Coy and this one’s the most recent! If they’d come clean about the whole thing being BS and start exposing churches for what they really are (businesses that live off sheeple’s hopes and fears), then I’d regain respect for them. But nope, they lay low, ask people to pray for them, and again benefit from the blind.

    SOOOOOO glad I’m an atheist!

  • Guestie

    You made me curious so I took a look. Looks to me like a rocket, or a space shuttle, or a Concorde. None of which suggest any connection to “harvest”, at least to me.

  • Guestie

    Should I put my hair in a man-bun? I’m going to need about 2 years advance notice to get my hair long enough.