Mancow Pens Stunning Open Letter to MacDonald in the Daily Herald

update button 25 jan 2019From time to time, people ask us: how have we gotten here?  How have things gotten so crazy? Perhaps it’s time for a short recap through the lens of Mancow Muller.

In 2012, James MacDonald invited the well-known, millionaire, prosperity gospel preacher known as T.D. Jakes to his conference called “The Elephant Room 2.”  The Gospel Coalition (TGC), of which MacDonald was a member, strongly disagreed with this move.   Indeed, the TGC’s concerns were so strong that many members of the coalition began to push for MacDonald’s resignation from the organization.  Felling the pressure, MacDonald did eventually “resign” citing “methodological” differences as his reason for leaving. While there were many questions and concerns at the time, one central concern was whether James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll would provide sufficient critique of Jakes’ prosperity gospel teachings, the heretical theology that God will reward our faith with material wealth and blessings.

With cameras rolling, James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll proceeded to ask Jakes a series of questions regarding the Trinity; and Jakes’ response were slippery at best.  More significantly, MacDonald failed to ask a single question regarding Jakes’ views on wealth, theology and/or the blessings of God stemming from personal faith.  He even admits this failure in the lawsuit:

“The ED website falsely asserted that James S. MacDonald did not address ‘Jakes’ well established history of preaching the prosperity gospel’ simply because he did not do so publicly.” [1]

To the watching evangelical world (including pastors and theologians such as Tim Keller and Don Carson), it appeared as though prosperity gospel preaching was being ushered in the front door  by James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll.

After reading the summaries of The Elephant Room 2 conference, the authors of this blog wrote their first article about James MacDonald and his failure as an Elder to guard the sheep from errant, destructive and ultimately predatory theology.  It was at that time that we began to privately hear from former pastors and elders that while MacDonald’s apparent shift in theology was troubling, what concerned them most was the nature of their experiences with him over the years.

MacDonald’s defense, at that time, was that the evangelical world was falling under the influence of men like David Platt, who were rejecting the crass consumerism of the West.  MacDonald believes:

“We need a full-orbed theology of joy in God that includes joy in the good gifts God has given us. Emphasizing radical sacrifice can lead to poverty theology that is all about the immediate divesting of money rather than the multiplication of money that will lead to greater involvement in mission.”

As you can see, at that time, there were serious concerns about the trajectory of MacDonald’s theology.  Was he headed towards adopting the prosperity gospel?

The authors of the blog were convinced that a public airing of the issues surrounding MacDonald’s character was necessary to defend the church.  While the former elders and pastors would not allow us to publish many of their private stories and experiences, we were able to publish all manner of questions regarding his personal finances and the church’s finances, which appeared to conflating at an alarming rate.  So we told the story of how Harvest accumulated $70 million in debt (see the 2008 audit on the HBC website), without the full knowledge of the greatly expanded Elder Board.  We also brought to light the nature of his extravagant lifestyle.  When we did, he pledged to voluntarily scale back “for the sake of Jesus,” moved into a smaller home, and then began plans to construct a new, even more luxurious home.

Early this morning, after a week of publicly questioning MacDonald on both the radio and on Twitter, Mancow Muller, the WLS morning host and Chicagoland radio legend, wrote an open letter to James MacDonald, which was published in The Daily Herald.  This letter needs to be read and appreciated in its entirety.  This deeply personal letter reads as one Christian brother pleading to another out of love, but as he does so, he makes numerous, blisteringly sharp remarks about MacDonald’s “cult-like” choices, demanding that MacDonald face the church and answer his critics. So to read our post and assume that you understand the entirety of what he is saying would be a mistake.  We are simply highlighting one issue in a devastating letter – an issue that pertains to the very origins of The Elephant’s Debt almost seven years ago.

So here we are.

As of this morning, Mancow Muller is now functioning for the evangelical world as the prophet Nathan functioned before King David.  [2]  And after seven years, Mancow Muller’s testimony finally begins to answer some of the questions we have asked about both MacDonald’s theology and his character.  In addition to charging MacDonald with creating a culture of “authoritarianism, secrecy, intimidation, outlandish fundraising expectations, poor financial controls and debt,” he also tells a private story about MacDonald asking him to donate millions to the church.

Pastor James … asked me to donate $3 million recently. This seemed rather tone-deaf to me because I was unemployed at the time. The number kept shrinking until I was asked if I could at least sell all of my memories (in the form of my memorabilia) and give that money to Harvest. My weakness was sickening. I wish I had said something more aggressive about how awful it was. Instead, I just sat there with a stupid smile on my face.

“Why don’t you sell your Harley?” I joked with Pastor James, trying to lighten the mood. “No,” he responded, “I like my motorcycle … but if you don’t give, see who is more blessed — me or you.

Do you see it?

As we said above, the full letter is worth reading in its entirety.  And thus, we post it again for your consideration.



[1]  This citation can be found in paragraph 83 of the legal complaint.

[2]  2 Samuel 12


16 thoughts on “Mancow Pens Stunning Open Letter to MacDonald in the Daily Herald

  1. So let me get this straight.
    James MacDonald is asking for legal advice from one of the crudest shock-jocks Chicago has ever aired on radio. Hmm. People of Harvest, when your senior pastor is seeking wisdom from someone who isn’t exactly a bastion of wisdom…and at best, is a newer convert to the faith, it might be time you put ‘ol MacDonald out to pasture.

  2. There’s a sockpuppet account on Twitter pretending to be Mancow – it goes by madcowmuller. He’s now created a sockpuppet fake Julie Roys account, with dozens of fake tweets purportedly by Julie Miller. He’s trying to cover his behind by stating in the bio that these are not real accounts.

    What’s the over- under that madcowmuller is Landon MacDonald?

    1. And, of course, I meant the fake tweets are purportedly by Julie Roys, not Julie Miller.

      I don’t log in to Twitter, but perhaps those of you that use it should highlight those accounts for review of fraudulent activity.

      1. Suggest screenshots too, before the accounts get pulled. I’m taking some.

    2. Well, golly, the fake madcowmuller account is suspended. Reachjulieroys_ is still up. I have screenshots of both.

      1. Would sure be interesting if Julie Roys requested the IP traffic for an account impersonating her. Naples or Elgin?

  3. It sounds like the catch phrase for covering arrogance and sinful behavior at Harvest is, “It’s covered in love.” At my former, abusive church people used the phrase “freedom in Christ” to dismiss arrogance and sinful treatment of parishioners. Another person dismissed the disfunction of that church by throwing “God’s soverignty” over it. I am still working on healing from the hurt and confusion those conversations caused.

  4. Burned in Deerfield January 25, 2019 — 8:01 pm

    Mike Collett, Deerfield campus elder, MacDonald enabler and sycophant, are you listening – finally- this time?? Do you even care??

  5. I was very impressed (and saddened) by his article. I think he says what so many Harvest members are thinking and I am proud of him for speaking up and speaking truth. How sad that he was asked no to return, where is the “love” in that. I am praying for truth to continue be brought to light, and goodness and God to prevail.

  6. thank you… may this encourage many more to do what’s right… in HBC and beyond…

  7. God Bless you Mancow! I am so thankful to you for your courage and voice in this matter which has damaged so many of God’s people. I am so sorry Mancow that James has treated you the ways you spoke of. I will pray for God’s abundant protection upon you and your family as you move forward from this mess. God rose you up for this appointed time. You are the David to this Goliath in the media and God chose you to be a voice for the many abused and oppressed. I have listened to you Mancow back 20 years ago and I so glad to see what the Lord and done in your life. God will bring his church to a better place and that includes you and your family. Don’t lose heart about the church, Jesus is our Lord and King, he will never leave or forsake us. Praying for everyone hurt by this situation!

  8. The Least Of These January 25, 2019 — 3:34 pm

    God is speaking. People are listening. Change will happen.

  9. Well played, Mancow. Now that’s the accountability James always taught us to portray in our small group communities. Very happy to hear Mancow’s faith journey and to express it publicly. May the good Lord protect him as he receives plenty of backlash from the world.
    From what I can gather, the entire Harvest structure operates as a self-preserving model. I could be wrong, but it seems that James has a majority vote on the elder board, so he can’t fire himself. And after looking at Harvest’s website and searching for the executive team, both of his sons are on there. Is that the same XLT that was always referred to in previous commentary? If so, does anyone think that they could ever launch their dad? All the more reason they should not be in that position, because you have to be able to make that tough decision should you need to. And it’s reached that point of needing to.
    All this goes away by standing in front of the church, repenting, apologizing, stepping away for an extended season, making public reconciliations, and completely cleaning the house and rid the church of current organizational leaders. Only then will people trust the Harvest name and begin tithing again. Only then can the church can move upwards and onwards to greater things for the kingdom of Jesus Christ. If none of these happen then the future looks very dim, which is quite sad.

    1. You are right on the money about self-preservation Ex Joe Member. At Harvest one of the distinctions they stressed was that the senior pastor is pastor for life. Now I think most believers coming from defunct congregationist polity churches were drawn to that concept – a pastor who would love the flock to the very end, free to preach the scriptures without worry about backlash. It seemed like a good idea and prevention for a revolving door of senior pastors. However, it has a weakness like all other man-made rules – it sets up a silent defense against legitimate claims of disqualification, a natural resistance against concerns being vocalized (a requirement to detect patterns of sin per 1 Tim 5:19-20). The senior pastor being the only “first among equals” locks it up solid. It’s a nice ideal to strive for, but don’t sell it so much that it competes with biblical accountability.

    2. You do realize tithing isn’t required of new testement saints right? It is my belief the church’s who use this, Harvest as one, do it to guarantee consistent cash flow. Harvest will even tell you, you have never given an offering until your tithes is paid up. And oh yeah on the gross.

  10. Former HBC Member January 25, 2019 — 2:16 pm

    As James and other preachers have often quoted “Truth and Time go Hand in Hand”

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