James McDonald, Another “New Calvinist” Bully, Leaves

I never really liked James McDonald from the get-go. It wasn’t that his preaching was “bad”–the few times I heard him preach, he was decent–it was that so many others were so high on him that they thought I was out of touch for not being on their bandwagon.

But at the 2013 Act Like Men conference in Indianapolis, something about his demeanor just wasn’t right. There was something about his presentation that screamed of heavyhandedness. He wasn’t “loud”; he just seemed like someone trying to be all tough, as though that somehow made him worthy of being up there.

(Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll also preached at that conference. Chandler was excellent; Driscoll was good–say what you want about his leadership style–but McDonald did not strike me as a credible pastor. Like I said, it wasn’t that he was teaching anything erroneous; he simply did not come off with pastoral gravitas.)

TWW has this piece on his “resignation”. And, for all my issues with Deb and Dee, I can’t say I disagree with their assessment of McDonald.

It really seems to me that some of these high-profile conservative preachers–Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, McDonald, Mahaney–are falling for the same dynamic that defined the televangelist disasters: a combination of (a) heavyhanded leadership with no accountability, (b) a love of money, and (c) along the lines of (a) and (b), a sense of entitlement.

I’ve long-observed the ministry in America as a corporate ladder. You go to college or Bible School, then on to seminary to get the MDiv (and perhaps even a doctoral degree). In ministry, you may start out as a children’s minister, a music minister, a youth minister, or even work interim pastoral roles (also called “pulpit supply”). Of course you get married, because singles generally have very limited opportunities in the ministry.

When you get out of school, you start out at a small or medium-sized church. If you have good speaking and social skills, and manage not to piss off the wrong people, then you go places.

Even better, if you are innovative, then you can start your own church. You might have the charisma to attract a small following, and then–through word of mouth–others start coming to your church. People are attracted to charisma: a pastor who can operate like a CEO projects “E.F. Hutton”-level gravitas, and we all know what happens when E.F. Hutton talks…

But here’s the problem: charisma is not character!

I’m going to say it again: charisma is not character!

Guys like Driscoll, Tchividjian, McDonald, Mahaney, and even Chantry, have strong charisma. They have the qualities that you expect in Alpha Males, at least with respect to the Church: no matter which church they are in, they are going to be sought out as leaders.

But were any of these guys ever vetted for character? And if so, to what extent? Many denominations will place great emphasis on sound doctrine, and rightly so.

But what about character? What about leadership style? What about financial expectations? And yes, what about sexual baggage?

(Yes, the latter is fair game. If you’re a would-be overseer, it is fair to expect that you are not perverted: you are not into porn, or sexually-attracted to the same sex or to children. It is also fair to expect that you are not the type of person who supports leaders who are, and that, if accusations surfaced, you are predisposed to transparency and reporting to the proper authorities.)

If no one in McDonald’s–or Driscoll’s–inner circle had the presence of mind to notice a problem, then shame on them. And if they did, and refused to confront them–then they were derelict in their duties.

Ultimately, your sin will find you out. As I often put it, you will never outrun your character: that will always catch up with you.

And if you are a bully, you will find that, once a church wakes up, you might be in for a rude awakening.

 

14 thoughts on “James McDonald, Another “New Calvinist” Bully, Leaves

    • I’ve often looked at the “age of marriage” issue as one of maturity: both physical and mental. In Genesis, the standard is, “A MAN shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” And the wife is a WOMAN, which I take to imply that she is both physically and otherwise capable of fulfilling the role as a help-meet.

      In other words, as I often say, “Sex is for marriage, and marriage is for adults.”

      —-

      Holy crap, that was a disaster! If my pastor–or anyone on pastoral staff at my church–pulled a “you’re with us or against us”, I’d, in so many words, tell them hasta la vista and yippie kiyay.

      • ”In Genesis, the standard is, “A MAN shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.” And the wife is a WOMAN, which I take to imply that she is both physically and otherwise capable of fulfilling the role as a help-meet.
        In other words, as I often say, “Sex is for marriage, and marriage is for adults.”

        You know I have read over this passage many times. But never noticed it before you pointed it out. I have to hit my head for missing the obvious.

        Although there is one more question. Why do you think adulthood seem to fall in many historic ancient,Medieval Christian and some modern cultures during the age of what we call adolescence?

        ”Holy crap, that was a disaster! If my pastor–or anyone on pastoral staff at my church–pulled a “you’re with us or against us”, I’d, in so many words, tell them hasta la vista and yippie kiyay.”

        Its funny how the usual suspects turn up. God certainly has his ways.

        • “Although there is one more question. Why do you think adulthood seem to fall in many historic ancient,Medieval Christian and some modern cultures during the age of what we call adolescence?”

          Honestly, I probably don’t know enough about those eras to be able to give a definitive answer. I’m guessing that, in those times, the range that we call adolescence was considered a crossover period where a young person entered the realm of maturity.

          I would also hazard a guess that life expectancies were shorter, the economy was more agrarian, and the transition from childhood to adulthood was necessarily sooner rather than later.

        • As for the bullies James Macdonald and men like him. May indicate that people have such a thirst for masculinity that they mistake the appearance for substance. And indicate also the opposite problem of masculinity of men in leadership at least that is very often lacking too often giving way to the spirit of the age.

          • Yep. People are naturally drawn to charisma in general, masculinity in particular. Like I said, a lot of these guys reflect the qualities that are typical of Alpha Males, and those are attractive qualities.

            The problem is, none of those qualities are necessarily indicative of good Christian character.

          • Jesus himself was an “alpha male” so if Jesus is the perfect man than he is the perfect personification of masculinity:
            http://sociological-eye.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/jesus-in-interaction-micro-sociology-of.html

            What James Macdonald represents and people like him is a distortion of that masculinity. And I suspect that James Macdonald when it really matters will buckle because all he has is the appearance of true strength and manliness. Which he mistakes for a bullying attitude.

          • Jesus was Alpha, and he did Alpha right.

            McDonald and his fellow high-flyers are also Alphas, but they are corrupted.

            While we are all corrupted in some form or another, the difference is that, when you’re McDonald, left unchecked that corruption can cut a much wider swath of damage. Hence the strict requirements for would-be church leaders in Paul’s epistles.

          • What makes you think James Macdonald has it in them to face true danger and exhibit courage when it matters?

            I mean there are many men out there who are macho but break down when it matters revealing themselves to be in truth weaklings.

          • I don’t. I say guys like McDonald are Alpha, but only insofar as to attract a following. I’m not suggesting that he has a pair; quite frankly, he is probably more of an AMOG than anything else.

            Ultimately, when it comes to the issues that matter, guys like McDonald and Driscoll are cowards. They lack the balls to face their issues; they lack the balls to receive substantive pushback.

            If they were any more snowflaky, Trump would grab them by their pu$$ies.

          • Its easy for bullies to pick on the weak. But when it comes to situations or people that are able to hit back and hit back hard his true strength is then known.

            Just because a man is macho doesn’t mean he is truly strong.

          • Exactly. I really think their tough guy persona is fake. And people mistake that for true masculinity.

      • And you might be thinking why I was using 2 different email addresses both of which are completely independent of real life.. Its because given the current times we are living in:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/world/europe/germany-36-accused-of-hateful-postings-over-social-media.html

        http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/04/07/police-raid-social-media-posts/

        Even if this is some obscure blog. Its better safe than sorry. And given what has happened to Christian bakers who did not bake a cake for gay wedding. And Pastors jailed for preaching the bible:

        http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/preacher-arrested-for-calling-homosexuality-a-sin.html

        • Honestly, I don’t really pay that much attention to the addresses that people use. However, I cannot blame you for using different ones. Pseudonyms are actually a good practice.

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