08 January 2012

"Code Orange" Speaker James MacDonald

The countdown begins. Steven Furtick's Code Orange Revival is set to erupt in mere days. With this event, Furtick will gather a group of leaders together to "cause a movement" of God's power. Yes, apparently God needs a well-organized, pre-planned "revival" in order to do anything visible or noteworthy. 

The speaker lineup for this volcanic event is quite extensive, so over the past months, we have been reviewing each speaker one by one. In previous posts, we've looked at LifeChurch.tv visionary Craig Groeschel, prosperity preacher Jentezen Franklin, Hillsong darling Christine Caine, Joel Osteen's worship leader, Israel Houghton, seeming Word-Faith proponent Stovall Weems, pastor and author of the new book Sexpirament, Ed Young, Jr., prominent Word-Faith mogul "Bishop" T.D. Jakes, Seeker-Driven favorite Perry Noble, and Kevin Gerald of Champions Centre, who is nothing more than another Word-Faith preacher who will bring his atrocious "teaching" to the stage. Most recently, we looked at "young, restless and Reformed" Matt Chandler. While there is no apparent sign that Chandler is perpetuating the Word-Faith heresy like his fellow Code Orange speakers, we are rather concerned about his claim to be a "Reformed Charismatic" (can there really be such a thing?) as well as his church's promotion of books that blatantly teach mystical, unbiblical Contemplative Spirituality. So while Chandler appears to be the "odd man out" in the lineup, we are still left wondering whether a lack of discernment in one area has led to similar consequences in another.

Since Code Orange visionary Steven Furtick needs no introduction, this article will complete our examination of the Code Orange speakers. Here we will look at Pastor James MacDonald, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicagoland area. There has been much discussion surrounding James MacDonald in recent months, on this blog and others. This post will serve, then, as a bird's eye view of some of the concerns that already have been widely discussed, and the reader is encouraged to follow and read the many links that will be contained within this article.

James MacDonald has long been viewed as a conservative Bible teacher. His radio ministry, Walk in the Word, is widely broadcast. As such, MacDonald is a long-distance teacher to countless people. The Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) empire has expanded greatly over the years, primarily through the church-planting efforts of Harvest Bible Fellowship. Operating in a similar manner as the Acts 29 Network, one can expect that most HBC's will operate under the same fundamental "pillars" that supposedly direct the main campus in Rolling Meadows, IL. Having established, then, that MacDonald's celebrity is quite prominent, it ought to concern us when we see him making some of the following unwise (to say the least) decisions. And red flags should be flying when we hear some of what is being taught straight out of the mouth of James MacDonald to his own local flock.

This blog began sounding the alarm many months ago with posts such as "Steven Furtick to Preach at Harvest Bible Chapel" and "Is Harvest Bible Chapel Being Fed to the Wolves?" These articles attempted to raise flags of caution as many were left appalled that, while away from the pulpit, James MacDonald would entrust his flock to the teaching of Steven Furtick. This writer then attended the service where Steven Furtick preached and recorded that experience in this post. Furtick and his appearance at HBC were also discussed further with Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio, an interview that can be heard here. If you take the time to listen to the aforementioned interview on Fighting for the Faith, in the second hour of the show you will hear Rosebrough critique the sermon that Furtick delivered at HBC. This will leave the listener with little doubt about what Furtick's topic of the morning was: himself. And so, we are left wondering: why would "conservative Bible teacher" James MacDonald leave his flock in the care of such a careless "pastor?" Of course, this is only the beginning of our questions.

Additional lapses in MacDonald's judgment are evident when, for example, he is heard endorsing teachers like Beth Moore. Moore has definitively shown herself to be a proponent of contemplative prayer. She also apparently believes that she receives direct revelation and visions from God, and has taught a bit of positive confession in videos such as this one, where she claims that our words have power. Moore also participated just this past week in the Passion 2012 conference, wherein she, along with prominent Christian leaders John Piper, Francis Chan and Louie Giglio, led over 40,000 people in a "lite" version of the mystical, Roman Catholic practice of Lectio Divina. It most certainly ought to raise concerns, then, when someone like Moore is endorsed by someone as influential and trusted as James MacDonald.

Of course, this isn't the first instance of such an endorsement. Rather, Beth Moore's "Bible studies" have been accepted for years by Harvest Bible Chapel as part of their "Small Group Curriculum." It seems clear that Moore has been leading people astray for quite some time with her teaching, and yet her studies have rested approved and accepted by the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel. One must wonder: where is the discernment of HBC and its senior pastor, James MacDonald?

(Online Source)
The Fall of 2011 brought more interesting decisions by MacDonald. Perhaps the most notable and well-blogged of these was his decision to invite apparent modalist and Word-Faith heretic T.D. Jakes into The Elephant Room. To recreate the various discussions that emanated from this decision would be lengthy and is likely unnecessary. I suspect that most of my readers are quite familiar with the hullabaloo that ensued with this announcement. Suffice it to say that MacDonald lashed out at his critics by claiming Jakes to be a "brother."

Most people naturally assumed that such language meant that MacDonald considered T.D. Jakes to be his Christian brother, in spite of the heresies that Jakes regularly spews. After all, MacDonald had already definitively stated that he did not believe Jakes was a modalist. MacDonald later back pedaled on his claim that Jakes was a "brother" by changing the definition of the word (in a blog post that, to my knowledge, has since disappeared, along with the post which deemed Jakes a "brother" and included the above video). Phil Johnson aptly addressed this situation in his post, "Not for the Stout of Heart Either, Apparently." Yet, in the latest announcements from The Elephant Room 2's Twitter account, it is quite obvious that the powers behind this conference affirm that T.D. Jakes may be counted as a "Christian voice."
(Online Source)
In all of his rants against his critics amid the T.D. Jakes drama, MacDonald managed to effectively engage in what pastor-teacher Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries deemed "postmodern obfuscation." Silva writes,
MacDonald makes a bad tactical error and actually begins to tip his hand as to something he likely aims to accomplish with ER2. MacDonald now tells us, “I do not agree that T.D. Jakes is a Modalist.” Then he begins what I see as postmodern obfuscation:
I affirm the doctrine of the Trinity as I find it in Scripture. I believe it is clearly presented but not detailed or nuanced. I believe God is very happy with His Word as given to us and does not wish to update or clarify anything that He has purposefully left opaque.
Somethings are stark and immensely clear, such as the deity of Jesus Christ; others are taught but shrouded in mystery, such as the Trinity. I do not trace my beliefs to credal statements that seek clarity on things the Bible clouds with mystery. (Online source)
Having studied postmodernism, let me put its basic tenets as simply as I can: Think of a thirteen-year-old child who sees the world as revolving around his/her ideas. Not quite adult enough to make consistent rational decisions, but who at the same time, still insists that they “know-it-all.”
You try to instruct them they are wrong, only to watch them storm away into their rooms to slam the door and then blast their music in order to drown out the mean ol’ world. Now, James MacDonald seems like a sincere man; and I’d be the first to insist he has every right to believe whatever he wants.
With this out of the way, it matters not one whit what MacDonald—or anyone else including me—affirms or believes when it comes to the Bible; it matters what the text of God’s Word says. Quite obviously the early church saw the doctrine of the Trinity clearly enough in Scripture to reject modalism.
James MacDonald says that the Trinity is clearly presented in Scripture, though not detailed or nuanced; but rather, is shrouded with mystery. Ask yourself: Is McDonald’s view consistent with the Christians who, based upon Biblical texts, put the modalist Sabellius out of Christian fellowship? The answer is: No. (Online Source)
This writer must sadly agree with Silva when he states, "we’re getting a hint where ER2 is headed: Unity is more important than doctrinal purity." It truly does appear as though The Elephant Room is yet another means to stress "community," "unity," and uniformity at the expense of biblical Truth.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
About a month after the T.D. Jakes announcement, an event took place at HBC that was largely overlooked by those who follow MacDonald from a distance. James MacDonald took it upon himself to "cast vision" for HBC as a means of kicking off the church's latest financial campaign. This consisted of MacDonald traveling to each HBC campus in the Chicagoland area for a personalized "Vision Meeting." Video of each of these meetings can be viewed here.

MacDonald ended his "Vision Meetings" with a call to the congregation to make some radical financial pledges to Harvest over the next 3 years. This writer attended one of these vision meetings, and was shocked when Ushers handed out a card that contained a chart. James MacDonald then proceeded to tell his church congregation to "look at the back of the card and I’ll tell you how to figure out what the Lord is leading you to pledge.” 

There was no hiding the motives of this "vision" on the weekend of November 5 and 6, when the above mentioned pledge cards were to be handed in. It was this weekend that MacDonald delivered a most interesting sermon. In no uncertain terms, he informed his congregation that, if they currently are experiencing financial difficulty, it is possibly a result of not giving a mandatory tithe to the church. In other words, if one is not tithing, one is cursed. Indeed, the words spoken by MacDonald were akin to those we have heard spoken by men like Robert Morris and Perry Noble, and that comparison was made quite adequately in the post, "Which One of These is Just Like the Other?"

In this sermon, MacDonald used Malachi 3, the quintessential text for Seeker-Driven, Word-Faith-lite preachers to guilt their flock into filling the offering plate. Using this text, MacDonald taught that church members needed to tithe and give generously in order to break any curses they were currently experiencing. Friends, this is a misuse of the biblical text. I urge you to listen to this episode of Fighting for the Faith in order to better understand this issue. (Please note that the full sermon for the videos below can be viewed by visiting this site).

So, not only has James MacDonald offered some rather questionable, Word-Faith-lite teaching from his own stage, but his consistent affiliation and endorsement of other dubious teachers ought to leave us wondering: Do these decisions and these teachings really reflect those of a "conservative Bible teacher?" Can we really trust someone who is comfortable naming T.D. Jakes as a "Christian voice" and who promotes the work of someone like Beth Moore? What are we to think of someone who willingly turns his pulpit over to a man such as Steven Furtick?

It is important to note that MacDonald's questionable affiliations don't end with the Code Orange Revival or even the Elephant Room 2. No, they will continue into 2012. First, with his appearance at the One Conference in February, where he will appear alongside Word-Faith teachers like Brian Houston and Christine Caine of Hillsong (who, as the reader may recall, is also speaking at the Code Orange Revival). Also preaching at the One Conference will be fellow Code Orange speaker Ed Young, Jr., and September will find James MacDonald at Perry Noble's Newspring Leadership Conference, along with fellow "reformed" Code Orange speaker Matt Chandler.

It seems obvious that there is a bizarre, Word-Faith-esque clique forming among some of these preachers. The same names can be seen appearing together over and over again and it must leave us questioning. The majority of the men (and woman) headlining at Code Orange Revival are no doubt propagators of heretical Word-Faith doctrine, whether it is in its grossest, most blatant form, or a more "seeker-friendly" version. Reader, it is time that we acknowledge that this deviant teaching has effectively infiltrated America's "evangelical" church. 

One final time we ask, especially of MacDonald and Chandler, two supposedly conservative and reformed pastors, who are both members of The Gospel Coalition: Why? Why would you agree time and again to share a stage and a platform with men and women who preach not just a weak gospel, but a false one? One must begin to wonder about the motivation behind your repeated appearances with the same group of dangerous, even shameful, teachers. The members of your local and extended flocks deserve an explanation from the men they no doubt trust and respect.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)


Steven Furtick's 12 Days of Revival
"Code Orange" Speaker Craig Groeschel
"Code Orange" Speaker Christine Caine
"Code Orange" Speaker Jentezen Franklin
"Code Orange" Speaker Israel Houghton
"Code Orange" Speaker Stovall Weems
"Code Orange" Speaker Ed Young, Jr.
"Code Orange" Speaker "Bishop" T.D. Jakes
"Code Orange" Speaker Perry Noble
"Code Orange" Speaker Kevin Gerald
"Code Orange" Speaker Matt Chandler


  1. EBenz, as always, a well written and God-honoring expression of the facts and your valid concerns over Pastor James MacDonald and his continuous drift from Biblical truth. Many of us who attend Harvest, and have been so blessed by his Biblically solid sermons for so many years, have those same questions, and more. Let's continue to pray that he will hear and RESPOND to God's voice warning him through the truth in His Word, and through the warnings that many of us will express to him, as well.

    If Pastor James does not make a CLEAR stand for Biblical truth at 'Code Orange' and 'E R 2,' I will then express my concerns to the leadership at Harvest and will leave at the end of this month, and will do so sadly, after almost 15 years of attending Harvest. If anyone feels as I do, please contact EBenz, and maybe we can all go together and express our valid concerns.

    God bless you, EBenz, and everyone.

    For those who are not aware of the fact that the 'Code Orange Revival' can be viewed Free online, I have copy/pasted the information that is on Elevation Church's website below...

    Yes. The Code Orange Revival will be streamed live online for free each night starting at 6:12pm on weeknights, 4:12pm on Saturday, and 5:12pm on Sunday. Visit The Elevation Network at elevationnetwork.com to watch the Code Orange Revival Live.

  2. No Longer,
    As always, I thank you for your encouraging comments. With you, I pray that MacDonald will hear and heed the Word of God as well as the concerned admonition of other godly men.

    Thank you also for posting the information about Code Orange. Indeed, it will be able to be viewed live. I think it would behoove many to watch, as they are able, in order to see firsthand what exactly is being taught at this so-called revival.

  3. Thank you for the information on Pastor James MacDonald and Code Orange, these things need to be discussed and documented. But I am already weary… and have checked out from Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows, where I faithfully attended for almost 7 years. I also gave generously to the church, and I still think that my gifts were probably used well for the Lord and the gospel…at least I pray so. There are many devout, genuine believers there.
    But the Elephant Room 1 really hurt me; I guess I can’t understand the promotion of some of these men, who have such harsh, uncouth words and mannerisms (not necessarily in the Elephant Room, which I didn’t watch except for a few clips, but in other videos of their messages etc.) I’m amazed at what passes for Christian, pastoral behavior now…contemptuousness, glaring, sneering, mocking or filthy, explicit talk. “Puffed Up” is how I see it.
    The gospel and the fruits of the Spirit just don’t emanate from some of these guys. I’m mean fruits such as: kindness, gentleness, self-control. So what is my point? I don’t see James MacDonald turning his back now on his friends; obviously he accepts their modus operandi. I just see HBC becoming weakened, losing the pure gospel and slowly collapsing into worldliness. But I’m already gone and searching for a new church.

  4. What is going on with people? has the powerful delusion already begun?

    I used to listen to James MacDonald on my radio and then last year heard about him hooking up with heretic Steve Furtick. Now he's gone down the Drano with modalist TD Jakes and WOF false teachings. Peddling the word of God and fleecing the sheep is about as low as you can go. This is just pure rank opprobrium.

    As far as it goes for the Trinity, it's not ambiguous at all. All James is trying to do is placate this essential to cover up for his error. It's appalling and shameful.

    How hard is it to figure out the Trinity with this passage?

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"-Mat.28:19,

    and who in the world was Jesus praying to in the Garden of Gethsemane? Himself? He was praying to the Father. Monologue or dialogue?

    What’s the conversation in the elephant room 2going to be anyways? MacDonald with the live version of “the Blind men and an elephant”?

  5. Anonymous #1 with a special bulletin:
    According to the apcb (Air Pollution Control Bureau of Chattanooga/Hamilton County) - -
    What is a Code Orange Alert Day?
    A Code Orange Alert Day is called when air pollution levels are predicted to become Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups….
    * * * * * * * *
    What we need is a gpcb (Gospel Purity Control Bureau) - -
    A Code Orange Alert Day is called when pollution of the Word of God levels are predicted to become Unhealthy for everyone….!

  6. LOL, Anonymous! Very clever, and sadly appropriate!

  7. As a regular attender of MacDonald's HBC for, I think your analysis is right on. Having attended for 5 years, I too am looking for an exit point.

    The one thing that would have perhaps made your blog even more complete would be mentioning of the association of Macdonald with the crude/crass sexpert Driscoll.

    No doubt, the elders at HBC got an earful from their congregation when MacDonald had Driscoll fill the pulpit at HBC last year.

    That was bad enough. Add in Furtick in the pulpit a few months later and the "word of faith" lite heretical teaching and enough is enough.

  8. It is very sad that pastor MacDonald has gone this wayward direction. As a side, I was able to speak to Mark Dever at a conf in Dallas and thanked him for withdrawing from the Elephant Room. I stated, that we did not know exactly why but thanked him anyway, and he humbly said, the Trinity is important to me.

  9. Just found Steven Furtick's sermon concerning the'Code Orange Revival'and wanted to share it with everyone. Consider listening and pray for discernment. Above all, let's be in prayer concerning this 'revival.'


  10. I left a church because they had Bill Hybels speak and a few weeks later they were broadcasting sermons from MacDonald. I sent a letter to my pastor about my concerns and lets just say he was not an example of Christ with his response.

  11. Wow Amanda but I'm glad you are staunch with the truth-Thank you Jesus

    The thing that is disheartening is that it's very upsetting to see someone you so enjoyed and was doing well(who cut in on you) and now you have to break away from them because they left the straight and narrow. I pray that MacDonald comes back --sad

  12. @No Longer Alone,

    I watched this "sermon" of Furtick via link you have provided. What a rubbish. What a Russian roulette played with God's Word mixed with his lame jokes and assertions. If this guy would be a butcher he would be the best in the world as it is he is a lame and false predatory deceiver feeding of the ignorance and gullibility of people he is spiritually abusing. They will get their concentrated dose of this orange drug now. Sad how many will be hurting from this in a long run but they clap and giggle when he fatuously mocks traditional and historic Christian Faith as he does every five minutes in his rant on the stage. Furtick is a cheap scam artist and a fake. He looks the part too with his golden rings on both hands... Have we gone so low and are so dumbed down that clowns like this run multi-site entertainment centers they call "churches" with thousand upon thousands people listening to this vain garbage and pep talks and paying him well for that too? What is going on here? What I ask? And MacDonald going to this house of ICHABOD speaks more than his nose rubbing with TD Fakes ooops TD Jakes from the House of Heretical Scam. Unreal and they dare to call this Christian Faith...

  13. @Despeville Didn't get to watch the whole sermon I posted the link to...had to go to work. As I am typing, I am now listening to the opening for the Code Orange "revival" that is soon to start.

    I can understand the righteous anger you expressed in your post...so sad that many have abandoned the way the followers of Christ first shared the gospel. They did not need "creative ways to present the gospel" as I heard the one person who is opening for the "revival" just say. All that is needed is for people to hear God's Word, so they can come to the knowledge of the fact that they (and we) are vile sinners in need of a Savior, and so they can hear the joyous news that Jesus paid our debt to sin in full. They/we can receive the free gift of complete forgiveness if they/we are willing to turn from sin. What 'good news!' No need for strobe lights, jokes, etc. So sad what is happening in so many churches today.

    I pray, with all of you here, that God will bring TRUE revival to our hearts and the hearts of those whom God is drawing to Himself. May we all realize the importance of testing the words of men (and women) against the truth of God's Word, so we are not deceived.

    God bless you, Despeville, EBenz,and all readers here.

  14. So discouraging that he seems to have not even taken a moment to pause since the elephant room controversies.

    Maranatha, Lord come quickly...

  15. http://www.jamesmacdonald.com/events/overview/2012/09/06/newspring-leadership-conference/

    James MacDonald is also scheduled to speak at Perry Noble's "Leadership Conference" in Sept. 2012. There comes a point where you hear someone say, "I'm not changing" so many times, but eventually realize that the actions say something quite the contrary.

  16. I also am a former HBC attender. The decision to leave that fellowship was hard, but one that has been so worth it. A spiritual breath of fresh air to find a new place where the leaders are humble and exude the fruit of the spirit. Sheep still at Harvest, the Gospel Coalition has now disassociated with James and thereby Harvest. Do yourself a favor and seek greener pastures and wiser shephards who will steward your soul. You won't regret that choice.


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