21 November 2011

Which One of These is Just Like the Other?

This post will consist primarily of short video clips. There's much that could be said about each of these videos, but I will offer little commentary here. Instead, I hope that you will prayerfully watch these clips and consider what they are illustrating.

Here is Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church. He's been mentioned on this blog in the past. His modus operandi is to teach that your money is cursed until you break that curse by tithing.

Here we see Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel alluding to a similar "curse." We hear him tell his congregation that, if they are experiencing financial difficulties, it is because of their own disobedience in their tithe:

I wonder what MacDonald would say to this woman, who apparently has been faithfully tithing, yet is still in dire financial straits:

Yes, Robertson employed the infamous "shall a man rob God?" argument from Malachi 3. This is a favorite twistable Scripture among Seeker-Driven and prosperity preachers. We've heard it from Perry Noble:

And, we hear eerily similar teaching from James MacDonald:

In another sermon about tithing, Perry Noble alludes to the same "curse" which Morris and MacDonald spoke of above. Namely, that the bad things in one's life (a broken-down car, even a sick child!) may be the result of one's disobedience in tithing:

Again, here is some dangerously similar teaching from James MacDonald. "Why won't my life work?" he asks rhetorically. The implied answer is of course because you have not been faithful in your finances. With this video I would like to note that I appreciated MacDonald's final statements that it is error to teach that God blesses someone's financial faithfulness by bestowing more money upon them. However, this seems to directly contradict his statements in the second clip above, where he declared that those who were experiencing financial difficulties were enduring those trials because of their failure to tithe.

The above clips of James MacDonald were taken from his November 6, 2011 sermon delivered at Harvest Bible Chapel, entitled "This I Know For Sure." This was known as "Commitment Weekend" when all members were to make a 3-year pledge to HBC's "5G Campaign." Lest I be accused of taking these clips out of context, I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit the HBC website and listen to this sermon in its entirety. Having posted these clips, I would like to make the following points:
  • I appreciated that MacDonald did make mention near the end of his sermon that he did not want anyone to give out of compulsion. This proved to be simultaneously confusing, however, in light of the broader tone and context of the sermon, which is evident from the clips above.
  • I did not disagree with all that was preached in this particular sermon (As one example, at the outset of the second clip above, MacDonald declares that riches and honor come from God. This is a statement with which I heartily agree. All that we have is His!). However, once again the broader tone and context in which the agreeable points were couched seemed to nullify the redeemable moments.
  • Please know and understand that I do not in any way oppose giving - and giving generously - of our resources to God! Indeed, we are called to give cheerfully and we know that we can rest in the promises of God that He will always supply for our needs. It is not the concept of giving that I oppose, rather it is the misuse and abuse of Scripture to threaten and instigate guilt into the congregation. It's my personal opinion that if a pastor does not use such tactics on the sheep of his flock in order to preach a mandatory tithe, he will see generous, heartfelt giving far above and beyond a pre-determined percentage! 
  • Finally, please understand that I am not in any way accusing or implying that James MacDonald is of the same caliber as such Word-Faith heretics as Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes, Paula White, Joel Osteen, and the like. This sermon of MacDonald's, however, appears to make his friendly associations with men like Seeker-Driven and quasi-Word Faith pastors Steven Furtick and Perry Noble far more understandable. Perhaps it may also aid us in understanding MacDonald's staunch defense of his invitation to T.D. Jakes to join in the Elephant Room? Perhaps now, MacDonald's statement of September 27, 2011 regarding T.D. Jakes seems less peculiar than it did initially:
I am also excited to hear him [Jakes] state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring [the] reformed world. (Online Source)
My point in posting all of this (because I know that someone will ask) is not to accuse, but simply to cause my readers to begin to think about what is being preached even by today's "conservative" Bible teachers.  It is so easy for us to fall into a pattern of blind trust with our favorite pastors, yet no one is above the test or accountability of Scripture. And when we begin to hear glimmers of something as potentially dangerous as the teachings above, then we must begin to ask questions. I pray that the elders of HBC are asking questions; I pray that the congregation is asking questions; and I pray that MacDonald himself may be brought by the Holy Spirit to a place of questioning of some of his own recent actions.
"[Y]et we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified." (Galatians 2:16)
"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." (Galatians 2:20-21) 
Is Your Money Cursed Until You Redeem it with the Tithe? (Fighting for the Faith)


  1. This teaching really isn't anything new. While I don't recall any pastor/teacher along the way referring to a "curse", at the Southern Baptist churches I've attended since a teen I have heard the "robbing God" sermon and teaching many times.

    It is interesting, though, that suddenly we are hearing it making the rounds through the megachurches. I don't think it's so much Word Faith but rather desperation to keep up with their extravagant productions and building programs financially.

  2. It is very sobering to watch this guy and know that he is willing to utter implied promises of Gods disfavor if you dont accept false guilt from James and pledge big money to his Harvest money cache ...ugh ..err "vision" campaigns that you are in disobedience and disfavor with God....

    I believe that those foolish enough to drain their wallets for this man are being fleeced and are aiding and empowering this cash cow money boat.

    Im reasonably certain TD Jakes would not disapprove.

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    You're right, this teaching certainly is not new - I'm not sure any of the false teachings in our churches today could be called "new!" I do think this borders on Word-Faith, however. I see this as a more "conservative" version of the "sow a seed" teaching, or even the idea that you must give money to be healed, etc.

    "I'm reasonably certain TD Jakes would not disapprove."

    Sadly, I have to agree.

  4. "For we are not, as so many,peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ."
    The New Testament does not command the tithe.Jesus wants it all.
    The storehouse tithe is not a command of Christ, but forsaking all and giving all is.
    Once found of Christ's love one need not ponder giving because the one who truly understands the depth of it freely and happily gives from a heart of thankfulness.God's love constrains me, it has me! I have not enough to repay my debt.
    I am not so much angry with Mr. MacDonald as much as I am sad...

  5. It is really disappointing to see McDonald's trend. He is going more and more away from orthodoxy as he promotes false teachers of many kinds.

  6. Pastors and teachers that teach this false doctrine forget about the fact that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of unbelievers that do not tithe at all and are living seemingly blessed lives. They enjoy their mansions, expensive cars, the ability to eat out at nice restaurants all the time, and a host of other blessings.

  7. Bad preachers use this passage as if it is one of the Ten Commandments. They forget that Israel was a Theocracy and He demanded the tithe to provide for His tabernacle. This "the more you give the more you live" (thanks Steve Martin) thinking has even infiltrated Southwestern Bapt Theo in Ft. Worth. It shames me to hear these men distort God's Word and put His people in chains. I want to see some Pastors take a part time job and not even receive a paycheck from their church! This is their biggest motivation for preaching such sermons. They couch it in bigger programs means more saved souls, but it boils down to them protecting their nest egg. All Christ's people need is Christ from Christ exalting men, not distorted legalistic teaching that chains people!

  8. Since he is pointing to Old Testament taxation law perhaps James MacDonald could also point to Levitical priesthood in Harvest Bible Chapel. Who are they James? Who are your Levitical priests? Are you one too? If you are not and you do not have this type of priesthood in your church why do you then misrepresent and force those verses that speak about that on people of your church by invoking imaginary curses and fear on them? Why all of the sudden your open door to certified sabellian heretic and shameless prosperity pimp TD Jakes? Why branching out to this new "market" of people trained to give, trained to "seed" their miracles or rather trained to be ruthlessly fleeced in the name of Jakes's tritheistic "god"? Why this new direction for you James while TD Jakes gets in return your stamp of your evangelical "imprimatur" and is about to get on evangelical "fleece and confuse" tour? Seems you both gain and gain quite a lot in this elephant size deal. But James is this the only elephant in the room? What about the real mammoth out there? I mean the mammoth size of the debt that Harvest currently has with banks? Isn't that the ultimate elephant there James? I think it is...and I think I heard right and all of this fits with that James.

  9. Well done article.

    Having attended Harvest for about 5years, the "commitment weekend" turned out to be the manipulative, text out of context, guilt ridden, rhetorical questioning (is God done doing great things at Harvest? Are you going to pledge?), money grabbing scheme that I thought it would be.

    Of course, as usual, MacDonald added the part about dont give out of compulsion. But as you say, the overall tone and message negated this.

    Anyway, this has been going on for some time at Harvest. 2 years ago (Dec 2009), in an email to the Harvest family, MacDonald asserted "We are gonna have a great new year, if we all bring our tithes into conformity with God’s will."

    Oh really? We can predict and shape the next year into a great year simply by giving our tithe $$$ now. Manipulation after manipulation, year after year.

  10. @Rom623rom828,

    Thanks for your input. As you and so many others notice here and other places God as preached by James MacDonald more and more turns out to be Quid pro Quo "god" which is not God at all but law obedience senior and general business partner only. The balanced view inclusive of Grace and Mercy as contained in the New Testament which should a measuring standard and a lamp for Old Testament was placed on the back seat if not left out from what is being preached at Harvest Bible Chapel for some time already... If not all the time then at least many times. This is so evident in the superimposition of the text from Malachi 3 on New Testament while ignoring mercy and grace. What is particularly dangerous abut the direction James and his congregation (insofar as they believe him)took on is this disturbing almost total and unquestionable obedience to him exemplified by the members of Harvest. Where they fused the Gospel with the person of their senior pastor so tightly that they are unable to separate criticism offered in terms of his teaching and many times they take it as the attack on the Gospel itself and being "divisive'. Many times this really borders or perhaps even extends to cultist like and brainwashed reaction and a backlash resulting from such indoctrination and cult of personality.

  11. It doesn't border on word-faith it is word-faith......looks like a duck and quacks like a duck....

  12. The could not get the first 3 clips to open, but on the others, I noticed a couple of things: 1) both James MacDonald and Perry Noble have a similar attitude (and attire), which comes across to me as having a mixture of arrogance in it; that is not the same as having authority from God; and 2) James MacDonald's occasional rotation of his shoulders reminds me of Rodney Dangerfield.

  13. Glenn, CC, Paul, Despeville, Rom623, Christophe and Anonymous,

    I can't add to any of your comments, because they are all spot-on. Thanks to each of you for sharing your astute and honest thoughts. I'm seriously considering handing this blog over to my readers, because you are far more articulate than I!

    You're right, I did. Fortunately, another site has just posted Ed Young, Jr.'s most recent tithing gimmick. Sound familiar? http://fbcjaxwatchdog.blogspot.com/2011/11/would-man-rob-ed-ed-young-issues-god.html

  14. wow...I am kinda speechless actually. And thankful. Thankful I left Harvest years ago when I did, thankful I don't go to a church fellowship led by shiesters like these leaders, thankful I am not part of a cult-like church environment. Just thankful to not be in the same zip code when Jesus casts this garbage out of HIS temple.

    But also saddened and sober- saddened at what Harvest was, and has now become. Sober to look at my own life and make sure to root out any seeds of this word-faith junk, and also to make sure I am sharp and flitering all things against God's Word.

  15. MacDonald should know better. I used to really appreciate his preaching. I'm not sure how he got off track with this and the Jakes thing.


Please keep it pithy (in other words, if your comment is long enough to be its own blog post, don't bother), pertinent (please don't go off-topic), and respectful (to the author, to the other readers, and to the subject of the post). If you can't do that, your comment will not be posted.

If you haven't already, please read the Comment Policy in its entirety.