29 February 2012

Harvest Bible Fellowship Claims Its Second (known) ER2 Casualty

From the website of Harvest Bible Chapel in Prescott, Arizona:
Over the last 11 months or so, Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago (HBC Chicago) has made statements and taken actions that we strongly believe reflect a change in the direction of critical parts of their ministry. We believe these actions and resulting changes can be categorized into three areas: 
ASSOCIATIONS vs. ENDORSEMENTS 
We believe that HBC Chicago has begun championing the idea that Christians can associate with those teaching heresy (such as those who engage in teaching the Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospels) without necessarily endorsing them or their ministries, implicitly or explicitly. 
Scripture tells us... 2 John 1:9-11, "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. [10] If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, [11] for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works." 
We strongly believe that when church leaders associate with those teaching false and/or heretical doctrine, it confuses and misleads God's people into potentially dangerous areas of belief and acceptance. Scripture is clear, those who teach heresy are not to be received, much less embraced. We therefore must sharply disagree with HBC Chicago on this matter. 
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE 
We believe HBC Chicago has begun communicating the idea that in these last days, unnecessary divisiveness exists and at its root is overly restrictive adherence to Biblical doctrines, that it is more important, for the sake of unity, to extend grace and loosen strict adherence to Biblical doctrines. 
Scripture tells us... 2 Timothy 4:1-4, "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: [2] preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." 
We strongly disagree that by making previously non-negotiable doctrines appear to be negotiable (or effectively deemphasizing them by ignoring them), greater unity can be attained by embracing those who would otherwise be excluded from orthodox Christianity. The warning in Scripture is clear, the danger to the church in the last days is not a lack of unity, but a lack of standing firm on Biblical truth. We as an elder team have a deep conviction that this drift is occurring. We do not believe HBC Chicago is disavowing Biblical truth, but instead is leading down a path which leaves wide openings for the presentations of “other” gospels as legitimate, orthodox and main-stream. We therefore must sharply disagree with HBC Chicago on this matter. 
CLARITY vs. CONFUSION 
We believe that one of our roles as Elders in Christ's church is to be diligent in helping bring clarity to God's people in areas of truth and faith. Since the Elephant Room 1 Conference, we have experienced more and more confusion from Harvest-related events and we believe that the confusion has grown exponentially due to Elephant Room 2. 
Scripture tells us... Titus 2:7-8, "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, [8] and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us." 
God's Word instructs us to have clear communication with integrity. We therefore must sharply disagree with HBC Chicago on this matter. (Online Source)
The elders of HBC Prescott conclude their message to the congregation with the following:
Over this time period, we have repeatedly and privately expressed our concern with the leaders of Harvest Bible Fellowship. After many months of prayer and consideration, we have reached a point in time that we believe to continue our association with HBC Chicago would appear to be endorsing their decisions, which would cause confusion for the flock that is under our care. So it is with a heavy heart, out of what we see is our obedience to our responsibility to our Lord to care and shepherd His flock, that we must end our association with HBC Chicago. (Online Source)
The reader is encouraged to access this post in its entirety here. Indeed, the elders of HBC Prescott did a fine job of expressing their concerns with Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago. One will notice that every point is rooted clearly and soundly in Scripture, and thus their subsequent decision to separate from Harvest Bible Fellowship was one grounded in the truth and conviction of God's Word. We commend this church and its leadership for taking such a strong stand in making what was most assuredly a difficult decision.

Sadly, this is not the first casualty of the Elephant Room 2 and the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) and Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF). The reader may recall that, in January 2012, Harvest Bible Church in Detroit made the same decision to separate from HBF:
For five years our church has been privileged to be a part of the Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF). We appreciate the ministry of James MacDonald and the HBF leaders. We have been blessed to take part in the planting of Bible-preaching, Christ-exalting churches all over the world. Dozens of our church members have been equipped in ministry through Harvest’s annual conference. The Harvest Fellowship has had a significant role in the strengthening of our church. 
However, it is with great sadness that our elders have unanimously decided to part ways with Harvest Bible Fellowship. This is not due to any change in our church’s position, but due to what we believe is a change in the Fellowship’s direction. James MacDonald seems insistent in pushing boundaries in the area of associations with men whose ministry philosophy, practice, and even theology we can’t endorse. As a member of HBF, our desire was for good, consistent, conservative leadership from HBF. When we became a member of HBF five years ago this is what we received and this is what we could wholeheartedly endorse; however, in our estimation that has changed. We have been surprised by significant decisions made by James MacDonald (and supported by HBF), resulting in our trust being shaken regarding their guidance as well as future direction as a movement of churches. Despite several personal conversations with HBF leadership, our concerns have not been assuaged. (Online Source)
The elders of HBC Prescott voiced quite well the over-arching problem when they declared, "The warning in Scripture is clear, the danger to the church in the last days is not a lack of unity, but a lack of standing firm on Biblical truth." It is unfortunate that James MacDonald and the leadership of HBF cannot see this same truth.

May we keep these courageous churches and their leaders in our prayers as they continue to stand boldly for the truth of God's Word. Surely they have chosen the way of the Apostle Paul, seeking to please God rather than man (Galatians 1:10).

SEE ALSO:
ER2 Claims First Acts 29 Casualty

10 comments:

  1. So it begun... The pruning. We all saw it coming and years ago.

    "Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God."
    ~ 2 John 1:9

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  2. Praise God! Elders that know their duties!

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  3. I agree ..The separation of wheat from chaff based upon abiding in the doctrine of Christ being the " identifier".

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  4. I know Pastor James has gotten much rebuke about his actions regarding the Elephant Room, but what about the director of the Elephant Room? Does he get a pass? He organized this event, made decisions of who was invited, content, and allowed this to go into its present direction.

    Has anyone asked the director of the Elephant Room to keep him accountable on what he allows in this event?

    This is a mess.

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  5. The Director of The Elephant Room is James MacDonald's son Luke. Luke is an adult and is certainly accountable for his role in this mess, but James MacDonald ultimately drove it.

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  6. Anonymous @ 1:45, you beat me to it. Yes, to my knowledge, Luke MacDonald is the "director" behind the Elephant Room. Keeping it in the family, apparently.

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  7. Jesus Christ is head of his Church and I commend these Men who want to remain true shepherds to the word of God and to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    It's a hard and a heartbreaking decision but one that our Lord is no doubt saying -"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."-2Cr 6:17

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  8. So we, at HBC (the assumed 10% who has criticized church leadership and JM), got a counseling session from the pulpit this weekend...

    We were reminded how HBC deals with opposition (even though some have tried to follow Matthew 18 without any success). At the 45:00 min. mark of last week message, there was some reproof and rebuke towards the (specific) members of HBC.

    Pastor James spoke on Acts 15:1-35 this past weekend. He has occasionally said to the men of the church (since the Men's Conference back in January) that he desires to meet with us soon (before Easter), but has not indicated a specific reason. Maybe he will speak to us on the rest of Act 15, verses 36-41 in regards to separating from the church. This is out of total speculation, of course.

    It would be wise to listen to the whole message from the 3/3-3/4 weekend if you wish to reply to this post. I may have misinterpreted the message from my perspective. Two links below mentioned in the message.

    Church Membership @ Harvest: http://www.harvestelgin.org/ministry.aspx?site_id=10425&ministry_id=164801&description=1

    This weeks message: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/content.aspx?site_id=10424&content_id=162816

    Continuing to pray for God's will to be done at HBC and its leaders.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this, Anonymous. I will definitely take some time this week to listen to this message.

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  10. Methinks James MacDonald doth protest too much. He would do well to take his own advice. It is a crime what he is doing to what used to be a great church. Unity? Not any more.

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