17 December 2014

Walk in the Word? On James MacDonald and TBN

James MacDonald
On 3 August 2012, the blog of James MacDonald, who pastors Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) in the Chicagoland area, posted this excerpt from MacDonald's book, Vertical Church:
Nothing cheapens the message of eternal salvation in Christ more than telling people it comes with a new car. We should be deeply offended by anyone who claims to be a minister of the gospel promising people things God doesn’t promise them. Even where “health wealth” has not invaded the church, we can slip into a more subtle version of this error. Jesus Christ promises us a cross to carry, a sword in place of peace, and an exacting accountability for those who claim Him as Lord. Any assuring people of benefits Jesus doesn’t promise or hiding the cost of following Him is a total break with the kind of gospel work revealed in the Gospels themselves. 
Interestingly, this post appeared nearly one year after it was announced that prosperity-preaching Oneness Pentecostal T.D. Jakes would be appearing at the Elephant Room 2 event, hosted by James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll. When MacDonald received pushback from his peers regarding this invitation, the blog post entitled, "Association vs. Discernment and Is James MacDonald Changing?" appeared on MacDonald's blog in defense of his decision. It has since been removed from that website, but has been archived for continued reference. In that blog post, MacDonald stated, almost in passing,
I am also excited to hear him [T.D. Jakes] state his views on money, which may be closer to Scripture than the monasticism currently touring reformed world. (Source)
Yet it cannot be avoided that the ministry of T.D. Jakes is characterized by his shilling of the damnable prosperity gospel heresy. Further, this statement of MacDonald's cannot be reconciled with what he had preached in the past regarding the prosperity gospel:

Then, in May 2014, it was announced that James MacDonald would soon appear in his own Walk in the Word television show on TBN, television's leading petri dish for breeding faux-Christianity. Ironically, the television lineup on TBN is a veritable who's-who of leading prosperity-teaching false teachers.

All of that aside, then (temporarily at least), three years ago, in 2011, HBC embarked on its latest capital campaign, called 5G. At the time this campaign was launched, it was announced that some of the funds raised would be used to further the use of a television/movie studio in Aurora, IL. Harvest Bible Chapel hired filmmaker Dallas Jenkins to aid in these efforts, and in December 2012, HBC's first movie, The Ride was released to the church at the Christmas Eve services.

Fast-forward two years, and on 9 December 2014, the following announcement was posted on James MacDonald's blog:
Two years ago, we made a Christmas Eve short film for our church, called The Ride, dealing with some of the harsh realities that can surround forgiveness and reconciliation. Though only intended for our church family, this film went on to win awards and impact churches across the country. And tonight, Trinity Broadcasting Network will air it in a special program at 9pm, CT. (Source)
Is this as deep as MacDonald's relationship with TBN runs—a regular television show and the occasional special program?

On 4 September 2014, TBN made this announcement:
Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the world's largest religious broadcaster and America's most-watched faith channel, will present its new state-of-the-art Chicago studio with an open house from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Central Time) on Thursday September 11th. (Source)
At the same time, this appeared on the HBC website:

TBN's "new Chicagoland studio"? "Our Aurora campus"? This announcement seemed to go unnoticed by many, until recently, when this video was posted at the TBN website:

So what should be done now? The concerns of fellow Christians and Christian leaders over MacDonald's descent have not been voiced in a whisper, so the reader who may be unfamiliar with the events and debacles of the past two to three years can easily catch up with just a bit of research. For those who have been watching this slow train wreck, however, what is the best response? Snarky sarcasm? I-told-you-sos? Witty, insulting alliteration? Ad hominem attacks on MacDonald and those who staunchly continue to defend him?

No, for what would such reactions accomplish other than tarnishing one's own profession of faith in Christ? In the midst of MacDonald's apparent downward spiral, Christians ought not shy away from speaking the truth regarding the dangers that are presented by the heretical prosperity gospel and those who promote it (all of those who promote it). Christians ought not be afraid to name names. But Christians also ought to pray for the repentance of those who perpetuate these false teachings, and that God would open the eyes of not just the "big names" mentioned in this post, but of those who continue to be deceived.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. 
(Matthew 7:15–20)
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 
(Acts 20:28–31)
Christians must discern the truth from the obvious error that is propounded by ministries like TBN, and they must stand firm upon what they know to be true—God's Word.
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 
(Galatians 1:6–10)
Further Reading
Which One of These Is Just Like the Other?
James MacDonald Celebrates 35 Years of T.D. Jakes
"We Can Work It Out": Is James MacDonald Qualified to Have this Conversation?
Cleaning Up After the Elephants? MacDonald Takes to the Airwaves
What Downgrade Looks Like (from The One-Man Peanut Gallery)


  1. Will the name be changed to "Walk in the World"?


  2. While I knew about Elephant Room, I was unaware of all of these "activities." Are there no other pastors willing to speak up and share their concerns? I appreciate very much the last paragraph - your conclusion is grace-filled and loving. I will join you in praying.

    1. Hi Amy,
      Yes, the downward spiral has been going on for awhile. I started questioning some goings-on at HBC back in 2010. By 2011, Steven Furtick was filling in the pulpit while MacDonald was away. 2012 brought us ER2 and, well, the rest is history. Chicago needs prayer, because HBC and Willow Creek dominate the church landscape there.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

    2. I asked mysef many times over last few years through the drift of MacDonald and HBC where are the PUBLIC warnings about those PUBLIC developments. I asked myself where are the voices and warnings of Erwin Lutzer from Moody Church? Where were warnings of Colin Smith from Orchard Church? They knew yet they have not taken any stance when greedy wolf and modalist TD Jakes was invited to Chicago and prounancd as orthodox by MacDonald and his sycophants. Shouldn't they? Of course they should. That was not prudence. That was cowardice and good old boys network workings on display. These men not only have not ignored that ans many other sheananigans of MacDonald but endorse him more or less directly or indirectly by their common platform on Moody Radio. Same now. HBC became associated with TBN - Truly Blasphemous Network but there is not a peep not a sound from Lutzer nor Smith. ... What a cowardice and complacency. I lost all respect for these men.

    3. The problem you have brought up goes far beyond Lutzer and Smith, but is to be found in every, yes EVERY nationally known pastor, preacher, teacher, etc. They are all in league with each other, they all do the 'conference circuit', they all praise each other, endorse each other, they all encourage each other, and ALL of them (NO EXCEPTIONS) have made a pact with the wicked one, an agreement with Belial, and ALL OF THEM stand defiantly to any who would expose their heresies. Their followers have granted to their favorite "preacher" the status of infallibility to the point that they will not even consider the words that come out of their favorite preacher's mouth, the same words that will condemn these men in the judgment. What a surprise it will be when we face God and have to answer to the fact that we chose to ignore the heresies of our favorite "preacher" (especially when clear evidence is given by the words out of their own mouth) in favor of acceptance by other "professors" of Christ. This is called idolatry, idol worship, and is characteristic of the lost of the world and not that of a born again child of God. It is an easy matter to expose the likes of Jakes, Osteen, etc. but what about your favorite "reformed" guy who has preached for decades, is well respected by many, written many books, published a 'study Bible', travels the world, is in great demand to be heard? What if he your favorite "go-to-guy" has no recollection of ever being saved, had no need of repentance, and somehow oozed his way into the Kingdom by his heredity and lineage? Please refer to gty.org sermon # 80-33 and hear it for yourself beginning at the 15 minute mark. May God have mercy on His elect.

    4. @ Darrel you are right in many ways. I am sick of this inertia of this scratch me I scratch you evasiongelical network of compromise. Sick and out of it. Am I going to sit under Lutzer listening to his words knowing that this man have not spoken when he should? What about Collin Smith? Sound teacher but so what? Sound in fair weather only? There are Christians loosing their heads for their faith yet these two will not speak against falsehood encroachment in their very own backyards? And why because hey we ought to be nice to a fellow Moody Radio personality aka the catapult operator... What a shame. What a hypocrisy but go there and listen how they will go on and on about the need to stand up and courage for the truth... What a joke.. Just so sick of this thing that is called Church and it surely ain't. At least what is visible of it. Seems like hypocrisy and political correctness is a prerequisite for all these known pastors... Lord bless all those who toil and take the heat for truly standing up yet none knows about them besides their tiny congregations and they appear in one place at a time when preaching. That is how it ought to be.

      ps I don't think MacArthur is reformed, at least in a historical sense of this term. I will check this out.

  3. Are you trying to say that James MacDonald is a sinner? News flash: We aleady know that. It's in the Bible, and it says you're a sinner also. I've read through this post and I'm still trying to figure out what sin you're actually charging him of regarding the events chronicled above. Hence, the verses you quote above are taken out of context because they're simply being used to support your circular reasoning. What charge do you bring, outside of the fact you simply personally disagree with the above events? Another new flash: Because you don't agree doesn't make it a sin. May I lovingly suggest you lay down your efforts to self-righteously elevate your opinions and become esteemed in the eyes of men. The list of scriptures you've violated in this blog post are too numerous for me to outline here. I would challenge you to examine your heart as to why you publish these posts. Is it coming from a heart with pure motives, or rather from a heart of anger?


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