James MacDonald has been declared formally disqualified from serving in pastoral ministry on the basis of findings with regard to his conduct and character.
We've looked at Roys' coverage of James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel in the past.
Here in 2019 it can seem that a few of the people who endorsed Mark and Grace Driscoll's Real Marriage back in 2012 landed themselves in some controversy.
MacDonald is the highest profile recent example but Bob Coy, Perry Noble, Les & Leslie Parrott and Darrin Patrick all had varying levels of controversy. What makes the MacDonald situation unique is simply that the HBC board has issued a public statement declaring that he is currently not considered by them to be qualified to work in continuing ministry.
This blog having more of a history of dealing with things Mars Hill this isn't the venue for advocates for JM or HBC to comment and expect that to make it out of moderation.
That MacDonald was with Mark Driscoll when he decided to crash The Strange Fire conference has been easily established.
That other party-crashers with Driscoll included Dave Bruskas and Sutton Turner along with James MacDonald seemed, to me, to establish that Paul Tripp was correct when he assessed that the BoAA was incapable of doing what it was expected to do, keep Mark Driscoll accountable. In light of subsequent discoveries and coverage about MacDonald's conduct, termination, and the recent announcement from HBC that he is not regarded as qualified to be in ministry right now, this is something that should be kept in mind in light of Mark Driscoll's repudiation of the Calvinist TULIP and his claim that the young, restless Reformed guys are little boys with father wounds who prefer big brother figures and don't want to be accountable to father figures. In light of James MacDonald's conduct and role on the MHC BoAA it might be fair to ask whether Mark Driscoll has avoided even "older brother" figures for accountability. As noted earlier, Darren Patrick was born a month after Mark Driscoll, he of whom Driscoll once said "He's my pastor, you know?" As for Jamie Munson, the at one time legal president of Mars Hill from 2007 to 2011, Driscoll was formally subordinate to Munson as president but the nickname "Mini-Mark" was not without cause. Munson could be regarded as another case in which Mark Driscoll had men on a board to which he was said to be accountable that featured people who were arguably "little brother" figures rather than "older brother" figures.
There was a kind of father figure pastor in the early Driscoll public career, David Nicholas.
How do you do this over such long distance?
Driscoll: We talk all the time. David is my pastor.[emphasis added] He prays for me. He invests in me. He doesn't tell me what to do, but when he sees things in my character or theology that need to be challenged, he speaks to that very directly. I desperately need that. I tend to be stubborn and aggressive. I need someone strong speaking into my life, saying, "Think about this." But it has to be predicated on friendship and love.
But what happened to that relationship is anybody's guess. The possibility that what Mark Driscoll has called accountability might be a formality or involve a set of relationships in which the people to whom he says he's accountable are people that under a variety of circumstances would be, in his historic pattern of teaching, people who would have to submit to him is something that's been discussed here in the past. For sake of review.
MacDonald, of course, resigned from the MHC BoAA about the same time Paul Tripp, though providing a drastically different rationale for resignation. Where Tripp declared the MHC BoAA was incapable of accomplishing its purpose, MacDonald said he was so confident in Pastor Mark's goodwill he saw no reason to continue being on the MHC BoAA.
UPCOMING CHANGES TO THE BOAA
Dr. Paul Tripp joined our Board of Advisors and Accountability in November 2013 and has been an immense help to our leaders over the past year. Dr. Tripp has extensive experience in discipleship and biblical counseling. Earlier this month, we made the decision together to open the opportunity for him to work with greater focus on issues directly related to his expertise, namely the continued development of our community and redemption ministries. Because simultaneously being a board member and a consultant does not allow for the required definition of independence, Dr. Tripp graciously submitted his resignation from the BOAA in early June so that he can more extensively serve our church as a consultant. We are excited to continue this work with him, and are thankful for his continued support of Mars Hill Church.
Similarly, Pastor James MacDonald informed the board at the July meeting of his decision to transition from his current role on the board pending his replacement. Pastor James has been a great help in forming the current board’s direction, and we are very grateful for his time and wisdom over the last several years. He said about this transition, “I have great love and affection for Mars Hill Church and I want to make clear this change is not because I am unhappy with Mark’s response to board accountability. On the contrary, I have found him to be exemplary in his current readiness to live under the BOAA oversight. I am not resigning because I doubt Mark’s sincerity in any way. I believe in Mark Driscoll and his heart to leverage difficult lessons [emphases added] in service to Christ and his church in the years ahead. I am excited to continue to support that trajectory as Mark’s friend, as I focus my efforts on Harvest Bible Fellowship.” [emphases added]
Considering these transitions, Pastor Mark shared, “I am thankful for the service of both Paul and James, two men I admire and respect. Their service on our board has been a blessing to me and Mars Hill Church in countless ways. The amount of hours they have given as volunteers is extraordinary, especially in light of their other ministry demands.” Candidates are currently being interviewed to replace these open board positions. They will be submitted before the Full Council of Elders for their approval as soon as possible.
A couple of months later Driscoll resigned to the stated surprise of the BoAA, a matter that former BoAA member Larry Osborne could potentially address now if willing to field questions on the topic of Mark Driscoll's resignation.
That MacDonald has been found unfit to currently serve in ministry probably should be kept in mind in assessing the nature of Mark Driscoll's resignation in late 2014. MacDonald, after all, was not necessarily involved in the investigation that Driscoll said was made and if he wasn't then on what basis could MacDonald be confident that Driscoll would or could not be found unfit to continue in pastoral ministry without some kind of restoration plan?