James MacDonald

Church As Counter-Testimony to Power – Part 1

While some of the worst fires burn in Australia, a strange fire burned in California. We should pray for both. Estimates put the number of homes burned in Austrialia at some 200. No one knows what the internecine fires will consume stemming from that strange fire on the US West Coast.

Many have weighed in with their interpretation of the conference bearing the name, Strange Fire. Tim Challies seemed to offer a reasonable roundup even if one might disagree with his personal opinions on the matter. He provided no incendiary sentences. Dave Miller made Phil Johnson’s presentation. Evidently Phil had smoke in his eyes while reading SBC Voices. He got Dave wrong. It could have been Dave’s notorious lime green jacket that influenced Phil’s hermeneutics.

I only heard about the conference after the fact. To push the fire metaphor too far, reading about it was like seeing the aftermath of the Colorado fires this summer. Once beautiful land forever changed by the consuming fire.

Christian groups, and certain personalities, seem to make the news more about their participation in intramural squabbles than the healing brought to a broken world in Jesus’ name. Even a couple of adult teenagers attempted to crash the fiery party. Who would be surprised at these usual suspects?

The hubbub exposes the oft vied for place of authority to speak for a fractured Evangelicalism. If there are excesses among charismatics, they are equaled by different excesses in their critics. Who gets the final word? Bloggers?

Absent an Evangelical magisterium, we witness those with larger churches, more money, greater access to media, and able to generate a fandom stepping up to set the rest straight on any number of contested matters. The Charismata is but one hot topic that gets bobbled. Protecting Evangelicalism from everyone else in Christendom certainly compares to battling runaway fires.

Vying for power and influence seems counter intuitive to the Way of Jesus but certainly consistent with how our host culture functions. Have we been lulled into thinking that the way of power actually comports to the vision of Jesus sending his disciples into the world to do what he did?

Those in my tribe think deconstruction, the postmodern version, the cause of many a fire. Look carefully. Evangelicals need no external help to get a fire going.

Maybe there is a need to take this thing apart. There is a strand of deconstruction that looks to make affirmations, not negations. Were we to take this episode in Evangelicalism apart we would be looking to affirm the impossible. That is, it seems unlikely that the large body of people whom self-describe as Evangelical could ever be mobilized beyond defending his or her sacred ground. Such a vision surely passes for an object in which to hope because its history, statistics, and present condition make the prospect impossible. So, perhaps it just might happen. But, it won’t come from the cavalry coming over the hill spreading from west to east, choose a highly visible pastor/ministry, or from south to north, think of the largest Evangelical denomination in the United States.

We have had plenty of time to see if Christian celebrity will help the situation.

What if we returned to viewing the Church as counter testimony to power? In this series of posts, who knows maybe just one but could be more, I would like to consider some ways in which the impossible might become possible, perhaps.

Consider this quote from C.S. Lewis a means to stir your thoughts,

As Christians, we can’t love the whole world. But we should remember that God has placed us in a specific community at a particular time. We’re called to love those around us. Loving them means serving them – and in doing so, we become the best of citizens.

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Learning from James MacDonald – Matthew Paul Turner Ciphers “Resignation”

Matthew Paul Turner is sharper than Jethro Bodine. I suspect even Jethro Bodine could cipher resignation as used by James MacDonald. But, he may not have been as insightful as Matthew Paul Turner,

After reading and rereading what Mr. MacDonald writes in his resignation, I can’t help but wonder if the man should actually resign. Because his words seem laced with anger, retribution, and exhaustion, and too, they seem coded in such a way that make them readable for everyone but intended for a small few. Mr. MacDonald makes a number of choices in this blog that, when gleaning between the passive aggressive lines, might offer a good bit of wisdom for those of us who work in ministry (heck, perhaps to anybody in leadership).

If that did not prompt you to click over and read the piece, then consider these four lessons Turner considers,

  1. Lesson 1: “Resignation” is not a synonym for confession

  2. Lesson 2: Passive aggressive communication is not communication, it’s manipulation, vengeance, and weak…

  3. Lesson 3: What we DON’T SAY is often just as important as what we DO SAY (sometimes more)…

  4. Lesson 4: Don’t play the blame game…

Sometimes we learn from the positive side of a story. Other times we learn from the negative side.

Weekly Wrap – Maybe You Missed These Posts

I don’t miss the Bactrim. The side effects may have been as deleterious as two surgical procedures. Your week may have been much better and busier. Here is a recap of this week’s posts. Maybe you will catch some of the subtleties.

OU Football Challenge Accepted – Rick Davis threw the gauntlet, I picked it up. At this point in the game, OU is up 20-2. Here’s to hoping Davis has to wear the crimson and cream on his blog next week. UPDATE: OU hangs a half a hundred on the Horns.

What Would I Have Said Yesterday – The body would have none of it. My body that is. After nearly two weeks of taking Bactrim post two surgical procedures I succumbed to some of the more severe reactions to the antibiotic. The dizziness and nausea got me yesterday morning. By the evening I had a rash from head to toe. My eyes appeared to swell. Children might have been horrified. Who knows?

The Ethics of Eyewear: Glasses Are Expensive or, Why BonLook – People live under the illusion and are quite happy about it.

Brian McLaren, James MacDonald, and The Elephant – Part 1 – Few things bewilder more than the apparent contradiction in responses toward high profile Christian leaders. It seems the trigger for public outcry turns on what is said, not what is done.

Brian McLaren, James MacDonald, The Elephant – Part 2 – Since for many it is in bounds to assume the worst about Brian McLaren and then go public with accusations of heresy, that he has left orthodoxy, and may not be Christian, let’s return the favor and suggest that despite his long track in ministry we assume the worst about James MacDonald. We may conclude he says all the right things but his vision of power and money do not inform him to do the proper things.

Brian McLaren, Rick Warren, Christian Identity – McLaren, like Warren, is interested in Christian mission. There will not be many true believers who could accept the two could possibly share similar visions at any point on the spectrum.

Wall Art – Saturday Photo – Wall Art in Creede



Brian McLaren, James MacDonald, The Elephant, Part 2

What happens though when someone inside the machine says all the right things and is exposed to not do the proper things?

The first part of this post is here.

My online friend Bill Kinnon posted on Facebook that he has received an email with a link to The Elephant’s Debt. I read through the posts. I explored the documents.

Since for many it is in bounds to assume the worst about Brian McLaren and then go public with accusations of heresy, that he has left orthodoxy, and may not be Christian, let’s return the favor and suggest that despite his long track in ministry we assume the worst about James MacDonald. We may conclude he says all the right things but his vision of power and money do not inform him to do the proper things.

MacDonald will skate by this one. Nary a sound will be made by those who preach at his church and make mention as if to say, “See where I have preached.” Others who will mock T.D. Jakes for his prosperity gospel will in no wise go public with accusations that MacDonald has left the gospel for his own prosperity. The worst will not be assumed about James MacDonald because he says the right things. Read More