Momentum Gathers as Third Harvest Bible Fellowship Church Dissociates Over ER2

The Elder Board of Harvest Bible Chapel New Lenox has announced its decision to dissociate from Elephant Room 2 organizer James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Fellowship. In a forthright and Biblically rooted statement, the elders explained that their decision was based upon MacDonald’s doctrinal ‘leniency’ and mishandling of ER2:

Jakes’ position on the Trinity ultimately is not the issue. Rather, the problem is HBF and Pastor MacDonald’s not correcting or rebuking the false teaching presented in ER2. Pastor MacDonald’s doctrinal tolerance and leniency before, during, and after the ER2 is at the heart of our departure from HBF. Pastor MacDonald’s subsequent defenses of the ER2 on his website and on Moody Radio lead us to conclude that this change in direction established is part of the future ministry of HBF. Grievously, doctrinal leniency and disregard for proper theological examination from the pastors present marked the event.

HBC New Lenox joins HBC Prescott and HBC Detroit West, who recently also separated from MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Fellowship. Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield similarly left the Acts 29 network founded by ER2 moderator Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.

The full statement by the elders of HBC New Lenox is available here:

2 thoughts on “Momentum Gathers as Third Harvest Bible Fellowship Church Dissociates Over ER2

  1. I don’t see the good in making this public. Where’s the private consultation? Maybe MacDonald is trying to bring the pastors who have inconsistent beliefs into line by discipleship instead of mocking and throwing them out. Ultimately Christians must be careful not to slip into self-righteousness by ostracising people who don’t agree with their beliefs or make one mistake. I’m not saying they did, but it could’ve been handled better. I don’t like this trend of christian bloggers taking up the habits of bloggers in general who just criticise anyone who doesn’t agree with them from the safety of their keyboard also

    • Dan, thank you for your thoughts. I agree that all Christians should be careful not to slip into self-righteousness – we are all sinners, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. However, I do not believe that is what is happening here.

      1. False doctrine matters – it sends people to hell. A little (bad) leaven leavens the whole lump, making it unfit for consumption (Matt. 16:5–12; 1 Cor. 5.6; Gal 5:9). Likewise, the purest well is rendered unfit for drinking by even a tiny amount of poison. So it is with false doctrine. Consequently, it is right and proper that false doctrine be withstood publicly, which is exactly what the elders HBC New Lenox have done here. (cf. Paul in Gal. 2:11ff.) ER2 was not done in a corner, and it is important to hear those (former) HBF elders who are fulfilling their Biblical duties to protect the flock by standing up publicly for sound doctrine.

      2. You suggest ‘Maybe MacDonald is trying to bring the pastors who have inconsistent beliefs into line by discipleship instead of mocking and throwing them out.’ No one would object to MacDonald (or anyone else) taking errant pastors aside and endeavouring to disciple them. But that should be done privately. Giving the unrepentant false teacher a prominent public platform and then not challenging their false doctrine is, at the least, reckless. It shows little regard for either the danger of false doctrine or the health of the wider flock. Had ER2 presented a repentant T.D. Jakes, publicly renouncing his prior false teaching and prosperity gospel and embracing sound doctrine, there would have been cause for much rejoicing. However, that is not what happened.

      3. As they make clear in their statement, the elders of HBC New Lenox certainly did try to resolve matters privately, as did the elders of the HBC Prescott and HBC Detroit West – as well as many others who sought to persuade James MacDonald et al. to think again about what they were doing with ER2. In any case, the correction of public false teaching needs, ultimately, to be dealt with publicly – Matt. 18:15–17 applies to a sin by one individual brother against another. It does not apply here, where false doctrine has been taught publicly and needs to be corrected publicly. Again, see Gal. 2:11ff.

      4. As the elders’ statement makes clear, this is not a matter of ‘one mistake’, but a determined, continuing and steadfast refusal by those involved with ER2 to heed the Biblical counsel (given both before and after the event) of those close to them who love them and who share their duty of care for the flock. As that statement says:

      We addressed our concerns with Kent Shaw and Bill Molinari on two separate occasions, and also had additional conversations. We expressed to them our deep disappointment with ER2. We repeatedly expressed the clear violation of Scripture that was taking place by giving T.D. Jakes a platform to espouse his errant theology concerning the Trinity and the false gospel and prosperity and empowerment that marks his ministry. During all meetings, both Kent Shaw and Bill Molinari were gracious and brotherly. Although the desire to work out our difficulties with HBF was present, it became clear that we could not continue to partner with HBF as directed by Pastor MacDonald.

      5. The division here has been caused by the behaviour of those who have acted contrary to Scripture by giving T.D. Jakes a platform from which to promote his errant theology and false gospel, not by those who are pointing out that this is wrong. It is a good thing for every believer to test what teachers are saying (and doing) by comparing it with the Scriptures (cf. Acts 17:10–12), and elders have a special duty of care over and above this (2 Tim 4:1–5). The elders of HBC New Lenox here are furthermore acting in accord with Paul’s injunction to Titus, that he ‘Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.’ (Titus 3:10–11).

      6. Christians are nowhere in Scripture called to unite around false doctrine or practice, but to reject that and instead to speak the truth in love to one another. Christian unity originates with the unity of the Spirit that we have in Christ (Eph. 4:3). The ‘unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God’ (Eph. 4:13) develops as God’s appointed ministers of the Word equip the ‘saints for the work of the ministry’ (Eph. 4:12) such that:

      we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph. 4:14–16)

      In other words Christian unity arises as sound teaching overcomes the winds of false doctrine, and Christians mature together into Christ by the speaking of truth (and true doctrine) in love. False doctrine, then, is the enemy of true Christian unity, and the unity of faith cannot arise where false doctrine is tolerated.

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