Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tim Challies reviews James MacDonald's Vertical Church with a mixed assessment.

Some of you long-time readers may remember that my first impression of James MacDonald was a distinctly bad one.  His name showed up in a post titled something like "With friends like these multisite churches don't need enemies".  I have linked only sporadically to things connected to The Elephant's Debt.  Blogger Tim Challies has of late reviewed Vertical Church and he likes, as he puts it, 120 pages of the 300.  The trouble is, which Challies discusses at at least a little length, the bad in the other 300 outweighs the good in the 120. 

The set-up, Challies writes, is promising and the concepts about worship in particular are good ... but the application turns out, according to Challies, to be weak and even dangerous in terms of practical application.  At length the blogger notes that he simply could not review the book on the terms of the book itself and had to consider the last two or three years of James MacDonald's public conduct and speech in his pastoral role and finding it wanting in several areas.

... [on prayer] MacDonald too often allows his personal and culture preferences and his extroverted personality to be prescriptive.

And then there are times where he shows shockingly poor judgment in illustrating with his own life. At one point he writes about the role of prayer in saving his church from bankruptcy. He prayed to the Lord and then called a contractor whose work had been woefully substandard. “Sensing the Lord infusing [him] with still greater boldness” he told this man, “If you do not ship the remaining steel for free, we will close the construction project permanently, take the entire church into bankruptcy, and I will spend the rest of my life pursuing a legal remedy for all damages incurred by your company’s failure to perform. You have until tomorrow at five o’clock to give me your answer, but don’t call at 5:05, because there is a big part of me now hoping your answer is no.” This kind of personal intimidation does not at all stand as an example of the fruit of the Spirit

This blog does not, as a rule, tend to keep very close track of MacDonald because he's not much in our neck of the woods.  He may be a good friend to a certain preacher now, for however long that lasts, but there've been good friends over the years about whom nary a word has been said in public as of years ago.  Times and places and namees uttered publicly in affection can be fickle. It is not a given that the latest named good friend may be so for any longer than the good friend who co-founded a venture.  Besides, there are other people who sometimes keep tabs on MacDonald (about 40:28)so that blogs like Wenatchee The Hatchet can accumulate ideas for blogging about music by Samuel Adler (into the ... 2013 year) or about some graduates of a school.

But that's stuff that may or may not pop up in detail in 2013.  We're semi-dormant here at Wenatchee The Hatchet.  There'll be some activity


Anonymous said...

If you go to the Elephant Room website now, there's nothing posted there. Just a black background with a logo. Wonder why.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

You may want to keep tabs on The Elephant's Debt for stuff like that.

the above link touches on MacDonald and gambling.

And the above link refers to Challies review of Vertical Church and other things about MacDonald's teachings about Christians and money.

It remains to be seen how long James MacDonald remains Mark Driscoll's good friend (whatever that means).

We're compiling a few posts for 2013 so we'll quickly concede that other bloggers must be far more up to speed on MacDonald and his scene.