HBC removes Video of Phelps/Slabaugh Ex-Communication, or . . . did God change his mind?

Update (3 Oct 2013)A little over two weeks ago, on the 17th of September, The Elephant’s Debt brought to your attention a shameful and theologically bankrupt video that was used to ex-communicate two former elders from within Harvest’s body.  You may recall that in our post, we called upon Steve Huston and the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel to publicly apologize and make amends for describing the actions of these two former elders, Phelps and Slabaugh, as being “Satanic to the core.”

Sadly, it would appear that Harvest has elected not to do this.  Instead, they appear to have adopted a defensive posture in which they are now trying to eliminate all evidence of the video’s existence.  As has been reported elsewhere yesterday, the September Elder Update that contained the video (and three corresponding letters) was removed by Harvest; and it has been replaced with a newer version that does not contain the video or the letters that were posted in the original version.  More troubling still, at least one website, authored by Paul Dohse, is also reporting that legal pressure has been put on his site to remove a copy of the video from its YouTube account.

Interestingly enough, even as Harvest works to expunge the video from the far reaches of the internet, the latest version of their September elder update, suggests that they may actually recognize that they are not blameless when it comes to the circumstances surrounding the production of the video.

Our goal and great longing is not to hurt these men or portray that we have handled everything perfectly, rather only to see them submit to the Elder request that they stop sowing discord in the church.

As you can see, Harvest is not willing to suggest that it has “handled everything perfectly.”  But the problem with an admission such as this – an admission that is buried deep within the architecture of the church’s website – is that no one is clear as to what Harvest failed to “handle perfectly.”  Are they trying to suggest that they no longer believe that they speak for God?  Are they trying to suggest that they are no longer comfortable demonizing men who are merely trying to following the dictates of their personal conscience.  It is unclear.

So, if the congregation is going to understand the actions of its leadership, questions must be put forth to Harvest in the hopes of clarification.  First and foremost, it must be asked whether Harvest wants to maintain their position that when elders speak collectively, they speak for God.  Because if this is true, their actions over the past two days are highly puzzling.  If God directed them to say the the things that they said on that video, has God suddenly changed His mind?  Has God suddenly decided that it wasn’t right to to demonize men publicly?

Alternatively, if this is the sort of language that Harvest is attempting to back away from, with its vague and ill-defined statement, then a follow-up question must be asked.  On the heels of teaching a warped and dangerous theology that is antithetical to the entire Protestant movement, why would they not want to make their retraction and apology as public and as explicit as they made the discipline of Phelps and Slabaugh?  Why would they not want to “Act Like Men,” unless, of course, Harvest believes that “acting like a man” entails trying to offer only the vaguest of apologies to those that you have hurt, even as you attempt to eradicate all evidence of your wrongdoing?

When it comes right down to it, the plain and simple reality is this.  If Harvest truly believes that the elders spoke for God in that vitriolic video, than their current attempts to now distance themselves from the video can only mean that they are no longer willing to stand by God when He speaks.  And if that is the case, then there is not a man on the elder board, including James MacDonald, that is fit to serve in his current role.  On the other hand, if Harvest does not want to endorse this ill-chosen and spiritually abusive language, then they need to dedicate some serious time to both publicly apologizing to Phelps and Slabaugh, and perhaps, more importantly, to training and educating their body as to just how destructive and ill-informed their theological pronouncements truly were.

This post has been brought to you by Pachyderm Productions.  Pachyderm Productions is a wholely owned subsidiary of Indebted Animals, Inc.   This post is not protected under copy write law and is free to any and all who may wish to repost at their own discretion.  No animals, elephants or otherwise, were harmed in the writing of this post.

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Editor’s Note:  An article that was very similar in nature to this article was first published in the late morning of October 3rd.  Sometime around 2:00 pm, notifications began to arrive informing the authors that the website was experiencing difficulty.  Some even wondered whether we had been forced to remove the article in question.  In reality, there was a technical glitch that we cannot explain.  But ultimately, this glitch erased the article and made it impossible to recover the original.  So we have had to re-write the post from memory, trying to stay as close to the original as we could.  We apologize for those of you who had already commented.  Your comments were also lost in this process.  For the sake of documenting the history of this site, we now include a copy of the original post that we “lost.”  A kind reader sent it to us shortly after we wrote the new version.  The original version can be found here.

70 thoughts on “HBC removes Video of Phelps/Slabaugh Ex-Communication, or . . . did God change his mind?

  1. Jackie Alfirevic October 5, 2013 — 11:53 pm

    OK. I know if you are still at HBC you have been forbidden to be reading this but if you have Disregarded the spiritual threats of the “elders” and are reading this PLEASE OPEN YOUR EYES PRAY AND ASK GOD TO GIVE YOU WISDOM. From the HBC ELDER UPDATE: “We propose replacing the first sentence under Church Government Structure in the constitution. The sentence currently states; “All elders will have equal authority and responsibility.” In its place would be the sentence; “All Elders have equal responsibility but the Elder Leadership team, composed of no fewer than five non vocational Elders, chosen by the entire Elder board, has final authority in all matters relating to the church including compensation, buying or selling property and accountability of Senior Staff.”
    DONT BE LAZY-DON’T BE SILENCED FROM DISCUSSING THESE IMPORTANT MATTERS WITH THE PERSON SITTING NEXT TO YOU AT CHURCH OR WITH YOUR SMALL GROUP OR FRIENDS. HARVEST IS YOUR CHURCH. Become engaged in what is taking place. You bear some responsibility for what occurs if you allow yourselves to be silenced by fear tactics and “holiness-unity” manipulation.

  2. Jackie Alfirevic October 5, 2013 — 11:40 pm

    from the HBC ELDER UPDATE:
    “After many months of reflection upon important lessons the Elders have learned through the years, we approved and adopted a Covenant of Elder Conduct.
    The outcome of this document is a mutual pledge to make choices individually that best advantage the work of Christ at Harvest Bible Chapel”……WHO WAS THIS DRAFTED FOR? What elder needs to sign a covenant like this? An elder that is making choices that benefit HIMSELF over the work of Christ?

  3. Here is an interesting and relevant article from Cult Watch. How many of these techniques are used at Harvest Bible Chapel? I wonder.

    “How Pastors Get Rich”

    “You will discover the secret techniques that certain pastors use to transfer money out of your pocket and into theirs….The Multilevel Marketing Pattern, Books, DVDs, Hyped Conferences, The Christian Speaking Circuit, Pastor Owned Businesses that Feed Off the Flock, The Honor the Pastor Scam, High Pressure Offerings, Cathedral Building Wars, Siphoning Cash into Property, Excessive Wages, Perks, Nepotism, Their Fabricated Tithing Doctrine, The Carrot and the Stick…”


    1. James MacDonald is very busy this month:

      Oct. 4-5, Act Like Men
      Oct. 10, Heritage Seminary
      Oct. 18-19, Act Like Men
      Nov. 5-6, Resurgence Conference
      Nov. 8-9, Act Like Men

      I would be curious what the speaking fees are these events.
      After a cursory glance it looks as if the same cast of characters
      i.e. speakers goes to these events. Do people really need to shell
      out another $500 for tickets, travel, + food to hear another sermon?

      1. I used to know someone who was involved in putting together these kinds of conferences. He became very disillusioned with many of the “big name” evangelical preachers who would demand (and get) various perks for their participation, in addition to large preaching fees.

        1. This is gossip and conjecture. This just reveals the ugliness of this site at times. Job, you have no idea how things are being handled with these events but since you knew a guy who once did events you assume that it must be true here?

          Can we just stick to facts and stay away from the gossip and slander?

    2. Carol: “How many of these techniques are used at Harvest Bible Chapel? I wonder.”

      I’m guessing most or all of them. I wonder what there was in it for JM to induce him to give the glowing five minute endorsement of Leopardo Construction, for example? I think we know, by now, that it is unlikely that JM does anything publicly without there being at least a little something in it for himself. We already know about a lot of the techniques he has employed to “make merchandise” of God’s people..

  4. Can someone recap what’s left from the original charges? To me it looks like the ECFA move brings a lot more confidence and transparency to the table for HBC. They may have been deliberately opaque before, but this is increasingly difficult within the ECFA.

    It seems the rest is a much more subjective / muddy effort as far as hurt feelings and polarizing personalities are concerned. For example, much has been made of PJ being reproachable, but the criteria for this seems to assail most pastors I’ve come across. If you’ve been in ministry long enough you’ll find plenty of people who don’t get along with you for one reason or another. I could even argue my faithful and loving husband is in some sense reproachable as well.

    I have to think the line many draw here would disqualify every elder in every church that can’t claim absolute holiness.

    The financial issues brought up here we’re right on. And it seems that HBC has responded with increased transparency and accountability. The personality conflicts with PJ appear too muddy for me to throw stones.

    The only thing that stands out to me now is the recent elder video. Boy did that throw a wrench into things. My hunch is that they took the video down for a few reasons:
    1) reduce potential legal problems with the excommunicated ex-elders
    2) reduce exposure to utterly novel doctrines regarding elder authority as God’s mouthpiece (I have to think theological friends of Harvest are shaking their heads in disbelief over this one)
    3) reduce the damage while PJ and elders prepare to teach on the controversial new theology to clarify their statement (and hopefully win back disillusioned members and friends by explaining that they aren’t on a theological island and they didn’t mean how we all understood it to mean).

    PS – I’ve really appreciated the contributions of faithful HBCers here lately. I think your perspective is under represented and it’s unfortunate that more of you don’t step up to clarify and illuminate how it looks from the inside.

    Pitiable, Arosen, and others – I have to think there are lots of lurkers here (I count myself among them), and it’s helpful hearing contrasting perspectives. I know there’s lots of silliness in response to some of your comments, but please give us lurkers the benefit of the doubt to see through the silliness. I’d love to hear more about other ways faithful Christians can look at the issues raised here.

    Thanks also to the Mods for allowing their input!

    1. What’s left:
      1. Division of power. James has made moves to enlarge his share while reducing the share and effectiveness of the elder board.
      2. Conduct unbecoming. Or, the question of reproach. It’s easy to dismiss or make light of charges of reproach, but when a growing body of witnesses voice concerns over unbiblical or harmful conduct, the focus moves beyond hurt feelings or clashing personalities. Scripture commands us to hold each other–including leaders–to account. That a number of high profile ex-staff and ex-leaders voice very similar concerns over James’ behavior cannot be chalked up to simple disagreement. It must be dealt with transparently and thoroughly.
      3. Doctrine. The elder video and James’ platform for the prosperity gospel, as two examples. James himself preaches a form of prosperity gospel-lite, i.e. his teachings on tithing.
      4. The church’s reluctance to give a full accounting of their finances.
      5. James’ salary. His million dollar mansion.
      6. James’ and HBC’s general aversion to questions and critique.

      Your questions and thoughts were well-stated and seem to reflect an open attitude to both sides. That’s commendable and only serves to further the discussion, hopefully to increasingly more constructive spaces. Pitiable and Arosen, on the other hand, do not address the issues. They deflect and divert and give off the attitude that instead of considering these issues they’d rather the people raising them would just go away. Some commenters may leave silly responses, but their silliness is a good sight better than rejecting all of the aforementioned concerns out of hand.

    2. I wonder if the ECFA will rescind their approval of HBC on January 1, 2014, when much more stringent rules come into place, or if JM will be secure in knowing they will not look into HBC’s finances retroactively, in light of the new rules? The ECFA began as a protection for the big ministries, NOT the donors. Perhaps they are now responding to that criticism by tightening up the rules. It’s a little late (see Carol’s “cult watch” post above).

  5. “We propose replacing the first sentence under Church Government Structure in the constitution. The sentence currently states; “All elders will have equal authority and responsibility.” In its place would be the sentence; “All Elders have equal responsibility but the Elder Leadership team, composed of no fewer than five non vocational Elders, chosen by the entire Elder board, has final authority in all matters relating to the church including compensation, buying or selling property and accountability of Senior Staff.””

    If you currently call HBC your home church, please vote NO to the proposed change in the current HBC constitution. The ramifications of JMac’s actions in HBC are having a ripple effect outside the walls of HBC into the universal church. Please take the time to read the following as the author points out the danger of one person having too much power:


    Its might be quite a lengthy read for some (Don’t forget to read the link marked “Open Letter to James Macdonald” in the beginning of the post) but well worth it to be aware of what the senior pastor is trying to do.

    1. The HBC Elders i.e. James MacDonald only needs to INFORM the church membership of any proposed changes to the constitution. No vote is taken or is required. The Elder Board can change the constitution anytime it deems fit.

      1. There is one required vote left. Vote which would point to fear of God and seeking repentance before Him in light of blasphemous and shameful video now being covered up. The only legitimate vote left for all 30 elders of HBC is to resign and resign immediately.

    2. Tom Chantry makes some excellent points on church polity and the Elders at HBC would be wise to ponder those points. But, as Jim has noted, it may be very late in the effort to save HBC from falling into ignominy. The question remains–will the people of HBC stand up and act?

  6. Perhaps it’s time that someone ask what really happened when WITW was folded under HBC and why there was a new legal entity formed to do so? Could it have anything to so with the money that sits dormant in the other entity? What will happen to that money? Who controls that? And why not use it to pay down the $60M+ that HBC owes one bank or another? Or maybe we should just earmark that for someone’s retirement. That could work too. After all, what’s the difference?

    1. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 5, 2013 — 2:07 am

      What happened with WITW and RBC merger?

      1. This is a good question. Not only was there supposed to be a WITW and RBC merger, but also, back in 2007, according to this article from the Journal Star in Lincoln, NE, there was supposed to be a WITW and a Back to the Bible merger as well. I’m wondering why this didn’t go through.


        1. Well, it all comes back to money and the way it is handled, and then ultimately to James himself. The WITW/RBC merger failed because JMac wanted too much power in their system. Then, they basically told him they couldn’t work with him, and he could take his ministry back to Chicago. He did. And the took Janine with him. Oh, and her husband of course came too with his gun.

          Then there was the BTTB saga. Where JMac was supposed to be named President of that. But then, after a very late into the deal withdrawal of capital from WITW, they decided not to proceed. Huh, imagine that. Fuzzy finances even then.

        2. her husband of course came too with his gun? what?

    2. What specifically are you suggesting, Sincerely?

      1. I was also confused bout the gun bit-. I think sincerely is referring to the aerosmith song Janie’s got a gun.

        1. That brings up even more questions, eric, in light of the theme of the song.

  7. One of the Wounded October 4, 2013 — 11:52 am

    Sadly… as HBC has said. There is growing dissension and discord. The discord reaches beyond the walls of Harvest Bible Chapel – a mere fraction of the larger body of Christ. As recent events continue to confirm, HBC has used “discord” and “authority” as their justification to punish and rule over God-fearing believers who have the audacity to question the “authority”. Every reaction documented here is a direct result of the “actions” HBC has taken against the body. The removal of the video is just another example of the “continued” circus in the name of Jesus Christ. It is very difficult to hear some say things have changed. That there is humility and authentic desire for restoration by James and other leaders when these “actions” of self protection, cover-up, etc. continue… and reveal the true heart.

    Wow… there seems to be a hive mentality at HBC to protect the queen bee at all costs even at the trampling of others. A commentor said what’s posted on the Internet stays there forever. Well words last forever too. That shameful video shown to the congregation – people Scott and Barry would call church family cannot be erased from the hearts and minds of the viewers. There is mental NO DELETE BUTTON!. What about the public humiliation of sharing the link in the local Daily Herald where these fine men live. Again a trampling of good men for the sake of some strategic maneuver by HBC. When will this end? The casualties are mounding and the bride is groaning. Any good I have attributed and received from the ministry of James and the leaders is now eclipsed by all that has transpired – disqualified in my mind. Jesus alone is holding me up and opening my eyes to a authentic Christian life outside of Harvest. You are right Jim Jodrey… there are many God honoring, biblical churches out there. I think I have finally let go and can move on. Thanks HBC, your awful decisions have finally released me…

  8. @Why it Matters…

    Thanks so much for the shout-out on the previous comment thread.

    Why It Matters says:
    October 2, 2013 at 10:50 pm
    a/k/a Mr. Arosen, perhaps?

    It’s so nice to be remembered. While flattered, I must confess that the post you were referring to was not mine. Like most of you, if I have something to say I have no problem posting it under the name given me by my parents – interesting side note the Arosen name was given to my grandfather by a clerk on Ellis Island.

    Matters is an unusual family name, is that of Irish heritage?

    1. Nyet.

    2. Why It Matters was in the wrong (sorry, WIM, it’s the truth). I’m curious, however, when you’ll take on the real challenge of addressing the growing number of former leaders who have publicly voiced concerns similar to this site? Is that going to happen one of these days or will you continue with your drive-bys?

      1. Wrong? Eh, more a thing tacitly presumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument [or course of thought] i.e. presupposition. 🙂

  9. Could you please elaborate SPECIFICALLY AND BIBLICALLY what “hopeful that he would make right what needs to be made right” and “necessary changes” looks like in the life of James Macdonald?
    I have heard your stories. I have heard both sides’ stories. My heart breaks for the body of Christ and longs to see the glory of God through this circumstance.

    1. Since no one else seems to have addressed your question, I will try to answer with what I think would please the Lord:

      1) What would glorify God, for a start, is for James MacDonald and “his” crew of Elders to make a formal and public apology for slandering all previous Elders–not just Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh, but all the former Elders to whom JM attempted to shift the blame for what was clearly always his call.

      2) Then, after he does that, James MacDonald should resign as senior pastor. He should cease being the CEO of Harvest Corp, for which he is apparently receiving a ridiculously exorbitant income stream. He should not have any more opportunities for abusing anyone. By the way, he should have MORE than enough money by now, especially if he has been as prudent as Dave Ramsey teaches (and JM fully endorses Ramsey’s teaching, we have been told). It doesn’t mean that JM could/should not continue to preach and teach–he does that well. He just doesn’t seem to follow his own teaching well and he will probably need some help for that, going forward. For his teaching work, he should receive REASONABLE compensation–perhaps something like no more than twice the average salary of his congregants–that is quite generous. Since Walk In the Word is now “owned” by HBC, JM shouldn’t be permitted to “double dip” and continue to receive a salary from that ministry too. Most of the proceeds from his books, videos and being on the lecture circuit should likely be remitted back to the church since they are done on his employer’s time. That is thought to be just in other lines of work. Lavish expense accounts should be examined and adjusted to something that covers REASONABLE expenses.

      3) He should really SINCERELY seek reconciliation with those he has harmed over the years—the list is apparently quite long.

      If he did all these things, it would be “fruit in keeping with repentance” and it would greatly glorify God. Do I think this is what will actually occur? I must admit that I am very doubtful–but our Lord is powerful. I pray for James MacDonald, I really do and hope that there will be “God-honoring change” in his life.

      1. Thank you James 4:7. I believe you are right on in the areas that need to be addressed. Is there a consensus of opinion on this? Is there anything scripturally speaking that would be pleasing to the Lord that has not been included in this list?

    2. @Anonymous

      I want to point you to 1 Tim 3:2-7 as those verses are the main biblical foundation that helps answer the question you asked. The verses in 1 Tim 3 give the biblical qualifications of what an elder of God’s church must have in order to hold the office of elder.

      2 Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

      Please note the word “must” in verse 2, verse 4, verse 6 and verse 7. These aren’t my words, but Scripture’s. Scripture says an elder “must” meet the qualifications listed above.

      If those qualifications are no longer being met by an elder–in this case James–it would mean that they should either step down from eldership (and repent) or they should be lovingly removed from eldership (and repent). Either way, repentance is required and the first step of that repentance should be stepping down until the area of disqualification is completely dealt with.

      I don’t think Scripture supports an elder remaining in place when his actions have disqualified him over a number of years as reported on this site–regardless of how fruitful his ministry may be. Scripture does give any caveats, so neither should we.

      1. The last sentence of my post above should read: “Scripture does NOT give any caveats, so neither should we.”

      2. I agree that JM should not be left in any position that oversees the church. Elder would be out, by my reckoning, because he simply no longer qualifies, if he ever did. There are no character qualifications, that I am aware of, on the role of teacher other than being able to control one’s tongue (see James 3:1-2) (JM might have a bit of work to do on that score) and 2 Tim. 2:24-25 that gives general instructions for serving in the Body (and a bit of work would need to be done on the “gentle” and “patient” part). To meet the non-character qualifications, there is, I think, only “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) and JM appears to mostly meet that requirement except for his recent attempts to distort Scripture to support his ideas about the way things should be in churches. Presumably, those would go away, when he was no longer overseeing. This whole scenarios is admittedly very unlikely to happen. But it should, by what the Bible teaches.

    3. Pitiable Flock Leader October 4, 2013 — 6:12 pm

      After that, if you could please let us know of any other men or women that you are holding to account (lots of problems in the Body, as always), and what your terms are for them also to be declared okey-dokey and Elephant Debt Certified ®, that would be very helpful.

      1. Pitiable Flock Leader,

        I hope one day you will see that most of the people on this site (tho admittedly not all) are doing the most loving thing we can by standing on Scripture regarding the qualifications of elders and in standing against what is currently happening at Harvest.

        To directly answer your question, we should hold all elders who no longer meet the qualifications of an elder to account. I hope you would agree and as a flock leader you almost certainly are aware of the biblical standard of elders in the NT, right? If they are truly elders in good standing, the scrutiny would be welcome. The Body suffers when accountability doesn’t happen (as is happening right now at Harvest Bible Chapel).

        Cover ups, lies, protecting sin and enabling is what is happening at Harvest right now which sounds a lot more like what happens in families with drug addiction or alcoholism than like the Church of Jesus Christ.

      2. What a breath of fresh air your comments are, Pitiable Flock Leader. I too would like a full accounting for each and every Christian leader who has sinned in any way as well as the amends they need to make. How else will God purify His bride?

        1. Ruth:”What a breath of fresh air your comments are, Pitiable Flock Leader…”

          Smells more like air from the crypt to me.

        2. Ruth,

          You are obfuscating the issue. The issue is whether James MacDonald’s public (and semi-public–remember, all it takes are two or three witnesses–1Tim. 5:19) misconduct disqualifies him for leadership in the church. It has been noted before that EVERY Christian leader has private sin But, presumably, it is being met by the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ and supplanted with grace and holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the use of the word that He inspired). The Lord Jesus WILL chasten His Bride and perhaps that is what is happening at this time: “…He [Christ] gave up His life for Her to make Her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word.” (Ephesians 5:25-26 NLT)

      3. @Pitiable Flock Leader

        Anonymous asked, james 4:7 answered. Or do you have a problem with answering questions?

        Based on your comments lately, apparently so. Questions are BAD, ain’t that right, Pitiable? ESPECIALLY questions regarding the conduct of churches and their leaders. Oh my heavens, questions about churches and their leadership are most certainly a no-no when former staff speak out, all of them with nearly identical concerns and with more individual credibility than you and I put together (assuming you are truly only a flock leader)! We should all just shut our traps and ignore reality, conscience, and Scripture. After all, ignoring Scripture is what the leaders are doing. When in Rome, amirite???

  10. It looks like JMAC is trying to make the constitution change official now that Dave Corning has called him out on it. Go to http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/10780/blogentry/entry_id/373438/September-2013 and scroll down to the heading of HARVEST CONSTITUTION. It says:

    “We propose changing the first sentence under Church Government Structure in the constitution. The sentence currently states; “All elders will have equal authority and responsibility.” In its place would be the sentence; “All Elders have equal responsibility but the Elder Leadership team, composed of no fewer than five non vocational Elders, chosen by the entire Elder board, has final authority in all matters relating to the church including compensation, buying or selling property and accountability of Senior Staff.”

    Can people really not see the danger of this? We already know JMAC controls the elders (look no further than the recent elder video which claims to “speak for God”). And with only needing 5 elders to approve anything, this means JMAC easily has FULL CONTROL of the entire church….including the money!

    1. Not sure whether JM considers himself a king or a cult leader–he certainly lives like a king and acts like a king in other ways….Ah–I’ve got it, he can combine both roles in that of POPE James. Now I understand the reason for calling himself “the first among equals” on the church website (did they remove it?) and on literature about the “Harvest movement”. That phrase (first among equals) was apparently borrowed from the RCC. The Pope is said to be the “first among equals” in the College of Cardinals. It is a ridiculous phrase, as one can not be “first” among a group of equals–denoting anyone as “first” denies that they are equals. In cults, reason is often quite tossed out the window, however.

    2. It shows the measure of control that JM already has over the full Elder board that they would go along with that atrocious video. This change of the Constitution is apparently just window dressing and will be done in order to pacify the sheep. Ask yourself, will those on the newly formed “Elder Leadership Team” feel free to dismiss James MacDonald from the pulpit (which is what should be done to stay in conformity with the qualifications for Elder/pastor)? If not, then the control of the church is still utterly in the hands of JM.

    3. JMac ALWAYS has had full control. He’s just making it more official. Without his “show” and with their massive debt, Harvest goes in the tank. He knows this. He has many times referred to the elders as “MY” elders. It is and always has been his ship and it floats or sinks with him. Whatever the man “has”, it has been enough to blind thousands of people for many years. No reason to think this won’t continue. You have a huge congregation with their fingers in their ears to any outside criticism and in fact they are being spoon-fed only what their leader wants them to hear. I had to chuckle at the elder video when it was said something to the effect of “avoid these former elders at all costs and don’t talk to them”. Well duh!

      1. “avoid these former elders at all costs and don’t talk to them”

        Very Jehovah Witnesses like, is it not? This video was and is BLASPHEMOUS against God whose name was used to manipulate people into belief that the foolishness of these men is the truth and the voice of God. If there is a shred, a minuscule particle of fear of God between these men the entire elder board of HBC needs to resign, mourn, repent from what they have done in The Name of God along with James MacDonald.
        Humanly speaking we know they will not do that therefore katharsis and major one will do what they refuse to do.

      2. You don’t call the elders in your church “your elders”? That’s the term I would use if I were referring to the elders in my church. They aren’t someone else’s elders, they are “my elders” and I’m responsible to them. It doesn’t mean I control them, it means that I submit to them.

      3. I understand the temptation to cast those still attending HBC as ignoring concerns similar to what is raised on this site and/or without the ability to think beyond what James and Co. tell them. Truth is, people stay for many reasons: waiting and praying for repentance or a turnaround, to finish volunteer obligations, or due to the presence of close friends/family with whom they don’t yet wish to part. Sure, some may reject criticism out of hand or be tricked into staying, but out of respect we should not paint every attendee with the same brush.

    4. If only a select group of 5 elders makes decisions about the church, what is the role of the other elders? It seems like they are just members of the congregation who get to elder attend meetings.

    5. Yeah – saw that.

      “All Elders have equal responsibility but the Elder Leadership team, … has final authority…”

      If I were still a member, I might ask (for real, not just bloggerel) whether that means most of the elders are to bear full responsibility with inadequate authority, or that a few of the elders are to wield extraordinary authority while bearing only diluted responsibility?

      And a second thought while trimming clauses out of that sentence:

      “the Elder Leadership team, … has final authority in all matters relating to the church …”

      So, while the non-Leadership Elders (?) lack authority in any matter relating to the church, they would still have authority in matters relating to … what?

      If answers start with something like “that’s not really what we meant…” then — I guess this turns into an appeal to remaining members — ASK FOR A RE-WRITE! It’s the first sentence under Church Government Structure in the constitution. When it matters, it won’t matter what anyone says someone said it was supposed to mean.

      1. If the constitution is not being adhered to now, what makes anyone believe it would be adhered to in the future? James rules with an iron fist. The elder board is just a human shield to hide behind. Remember, James blamed the elder board for approving all the debt taken on, and for approving the purchase of his $1.9 million home.

        1. “..and for approving the purchase of his $1.9 million home.”

          A classic… Did he also blamed the devil? 🙂

    6. View from the Pew October 4, 2013 — 5:09 pm

      Dave Corning said “It was clear to me and I said so, that the church would have to change its Constitution in order to enact James’ new structure. This can only be done with the full understanding and agreement of the congregation. The current Constitution must be shown to the congregation” and it appears JMac is back tracking to make the constitution valid. Dave apparently had it right and JMac is now back tracking (probably due to legal advice).
      What this means is that operations were occurring outside a valid document. This could be construed as fraud (I’m talking felony here) as there have been transfers of money outside the normal rules of a religious (non-profit) organization. Can you imagine any number of non-profits paying salaries in the range of JMac? Now that the elder board is stacked (appointed using a non-valid constitution) JMac wants to change it????? I’m not a member, but I can tell you I would not vote to change the constitution. The congregation is a healthy and legal check and balance against a runaway church. Making a change to the constitution as this point has to raise many questions, not answer them.

      1. Interesting. It is reported that Jim Bakker still owes the IRS $6,000,000 (they took away PTL’s non-profit status).

  11. I’m grateful for the information I’ve read here but I am troubled by some of the comments by the editors. Such as, “How long do you think it will take the HBC legal team to force this site to remove Harvest’s “intellectual property?” A day? Two days?”

    Please continue to bring us updates but keep the editorial comments to a minimum. Thank you.

    1. These are legitimate questions given Harvest’s actions this week.

      1. I agree with Chris Pence.

  12. Does anyone yet know what the 13 accusations are?

    1. I think Scott mentioned this in one of the more recent posts. It hasn’t come to light. If it exists.

  13. Pastor James – news flash news flash! Anything put out on the internet stays on the internet. It is …. forever!

    I am eagerly waiting for HBC to put out a video with each and every Elder saying the following to be presented to all campuses at all weekend services and posted on the HBC website:

    I am sorry.
    I was wrong.
    I have no excuse.

    1. You forgot: “Please forgive me.” JM needs to stand by his own teaching on the subject of apology if he is not to look any more hypocritical (read Pharisaical) than he already does. AND I think that he also teaches that the apology must be as public as the offense. I am sure that he has already been forgiven by those godly men but it would be good for the church to see JM and company publicly apologize and ASK for the forgiveness on a new video.

  14. Jim Jodrey – the comments under your post closed before I could add mine. I hope you are reading the comments here. Thank you for your courage in coming forward and making a public statement. Men like you and Dave Corning and others from The Void made a direct impact on our family while we were at Harvest. After 14 years, we recently left and will not return. As you noted, there are many good churches out there. May God bless you for your courage and integrity. I will continue to pray that other men from The Void will find the courage to come forward.

  15. It just keeps getting richer:


    Harvest disguises their Youtube complaint under WALK IN THE WORD so that no individual will ever be proved accountable.

    I would like to take a “walk in the word” with these tyrants.

    1. Listen to the following excerpt [Fruits of Repentance: 1) Absence of Rationalization] regarding true repentance/asking for forgiveness and what that does and does not sound like. It still never ceases to amaze, grieve, and confound as to how very far off the mark relational matters have gone.


  16. A Little Levity October 3, 2013 — 7:38 pm

    Perhaps your blog shares a server with the Healthcare Exchanges? That could explain the technical glitches!

  17. Did HBC remove the satanic video because they were getting flak from the HBC fellowship churches? I talked to HBC Lake Zurich and asked them “Is that the way Lake Zurich treats their elders?”. They laughed and said “NO”.

  18. Somebody actually managed to capture the video and it is now saved for posterity at the Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/JamesMacDonaldHarvastBibleChapel


  19. People have asked why this site keeps posting new content. Because the behavior keeps getting more random and bizarre.

    Sending out the link to the Herald article, producing the cult-like video, taking it down — it’s all so weird.

    All these moves reminded me of this verse: God is not the author of confusion.

    1. Cult behavior IS bizarre- to everyone but those under the influence of the cult. The only way it is seen is when one has come out of it. I know. I was under it. The hive/collective/protect each other at any cost mentality is perhaps the most powerful form of mind control on the planet.

  20. With most seriousness and weight. Anyone claiming in public to speak for God while making a public announcements regarding current issues, lives and faith should very, very, very seriously think about that claim as the matter is of utmost, extreme seriousness. It is so because God does not take lightly when His Holy name is used in any other way but for His Holy will and True Holyy Voice ALONE. This is evident from Genesis to the Revelation. It is unchanging. Just three examples:

    ““You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.”
    ~ Exodus 20:7 – The Second Commandment

    ““But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die.”
    ~ Deuteronomy 18:20

    “But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves. And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep.”
    ~ 2 Peter 2:1-3

    To make public pronouncement about other believers and to call them “satanic” while asserting and claiming to speak for God in this matter as James MacDonald and four HBC elders representing the other 26 did is directly under the scrutiny of the Word of God above and so much more which cannot be presented here. To claim speaking for God and then remove this “speaking” from their website while trying to suppress it anywhere else on the net is a mockery of what was claimed to begin with. Furthermore, it is actually a mockery and a blasphemy of the name of The Holy God which was slapped carelessly on their foolish talk and that will not be taken lightly according to all of His Word.

    If there is any shred of wisdom and fear of God in the thirty elders of HBC they should all resign IMMEDIATELY, repent and mourn over what they have done while seeking Lord’s forgiveness for their utter foolishness and blasphemy. James MacDonald has to do the same. God will not be mocked for the sake of personal politics and no amount of biblical illiteracy or foolishness can be claimed as excuse for this abomination.

    1. Please post this second attempt at correction of myself… Exodus 20:7 is of course The Third Commandment.

  21. Hmmmm. I think my comment was advice to current HBC members of the Lord’s warning, “Beware the yeast of the Pharisees.” It is Pharisaical to focus on the “sinful behavior” of men who are merely performing their duty, in warning the sheep of James MacDonald’s sinful abuse of pastoral authority. It is thoroughly outrageous that HBC would publicly denounce those men and throw them out of the church at all (reminds one of the very early Jewish believers who, were threatened with expulsion from the synagogues, doesn’t it?) And then (likely, because of the uproar that it caused) to quietly remove the video, with no word of an apology goes beyond the pale. Calling it “intellectual property” registers in the territory of the bizarre.

    It has always been believed among those who use the word of God as their moral compass, that orthopraxy (right behavior) follows orthodoxy (right belief). Since both seem to be flagging at HBC, I think it would be wise for those still at HBC to heed Jesus’ warning to His followers.

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