Friday, May 18, 2007

Regarding Gordon MacDonald

Concerns regarding Gordon MacDonald were brought up in Comments on my previous post. I wanted to look into it a little more as the person who brought up the concerns is someone I respect a great deal. So the following are my thoughts and just my own personal opinion (and not necessarily what anyone else would agree with).

I know we all look at qualifications for ministry differently and I don't want to cause any discussion (especially with favorite blog friends!). It's just that I don't have a problem with MacDonald being in ministry after having an affair many years ago. He has repented of it and is well known in the Christian community as being a help to ministers who have given into the temptation of sexual sin.

I've been on staff at two churches as "paid staff" and another for a year as a volunteer staff member and I have had many friends who are pastors. Believe me, the temptation toward adultery is perhaps the most difficult for these men to handle. I was just talking to my son about it recently, that I believe churches should not be set up for male pastors to be the counselors of women for it is just asking for emotional closeness to begin, which can lead to physical adultery. (My son's young men's Bible study was studying emotional adultery this week.)

Regarding his journaling, I don't believe what he is talking about is the New Age kind of journaling. It's not any different than what I do when I open my Bible and pray, asking God for His wisdom and write out my own thoughts. For, if within us is the Holy Spirit, then that is who will be our teacher. I look at the entire body of work a person has written and he always leads people to the Cross.

It's for that reason that I always add a caution when talking about my love for Alexandra Stoddard's books. She does have some New Age philosophy in hers but I know it is coming. I recently purchased a book from Goodwill called Shelter for the Spirit; How to Make Your Home a Haven in a Hectic World by Victoria Moran. She has great decorating and design suggestions but she definitely leans towards the New Age, too. I just ignore that part.

I did a Google search about Gordon MacDonald and found the site that speaks most harshly about him also speaks against many ministries, making them sound absolutely evil. I have been aware of this site for a long time and frankly, I cringe whenever I read it. The person has long called Dobson evil because he has a degree in Psychology (which is REQUIRED to do the job he did as a child psychologist). The man has set himself up as judge and jury and speaks against such people as: MacDonald, Dobson, Bill Hybels, Henry Cloud, Brennan Manning, Dallas Willard, Joseph Stowell, Rick Warren, Richard Foster, Calvin Miller, Philip Yancey, and others. All because they do not follow his narrow theology.

Now, I know there are people who don't agree with some of the above and I certainly don't share the theology of everyone I read. However, there are good people there and none I'd considered evil. For instance, Philip Yancey is one of my very favorite authors for he is brave enough to write about the very questions I have had...why does God allow me to suffer...and such.

I read The Purpose Driven Life during a very dark time in my life (we were living in a hotel room with all our "stuff" in storage and came within a half an hour of being on the streets...long story...has a everything to do with my husband's illness before Disability). I remember telling my daughter how much it had helped the same time her pastor was preaching against it. One of my favorite apologists for the Faith is Lee Strobel, a former athiest and attorney who has now written many wonderful books. He started his quest for truth after hearing a sermon by Bill Hybels.

Now, to be honest, there are preachers on TV that drive me a little (okay, a lot) nuts. Just last night my husband and I were watching a program when it was followed by one of "those" preachers that we think are way too far out for our taste. But you'll never hear me speak against them here because they do still "teach Christ", just not in the way I prefer. If someone wants to pay $50.00 for a jar of healing oil...well, it is their money and if it works, God bless them.

The person who writes that website also warns people against attending any Promise Keepers conferences because it is "Charismatic and Catholic"...which it is not. But what if it is? Hey, I was a Presbyterian but I attend an interdenominational Charismatic church. Okay, so I'm a Calvinist Charismatic but there are more of us than you'd think.

If people went on caricatures of what is written about Charismatics, they'd think we were people who talked to each other in tongues, started praying out loud during the sermon, had absolutely no order in our services, and slithered on the floor holding poison snakes. Instead, there are more PhD types there than you'd want to meet in your life (with apologies to my Dr. Son-in-law), highly educated, well read, and somewhat reserved Christians. We do not teach "health and wealth", nor do we beat our children with a rod.

The man who spouts such venom against Charismatics would walk in our church and be convinced we're probably Baptists if you look just on the outside and don't read that part of the Statement of Faith that says we believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in operation today. Oh, and I have no problem with people who hold different views at all. I don't believe salvation has anything to do with our view of the gifts of the Spirit.

So, why am I spending so much time writing about this? Because I grew up in a home that didn't know Christ. When I wanted to go to church, my parents would drop me off for Sunday School at any old church and pick me up when it was over. My parents listened to gospel music but wanted nothing to do with formal religion. All because my mom grew up in a legalistic church and was constantly told she was going to Hell because she was more of a free spirit than her siblings.

She truly believed she didn't have what it took to be a Christian because she didn't fit the narrow limits of her denomination. She was appalled when I came home (in my teens) one day and told her I'd accepted Christ as Saviour. She even told me she hoped it was just a passing phase and I'd get over it. All because of laws and rules and not fitting into one denomination's way of living out the Christian life. She eventually did "get saved" but she never...ever...absolutely never...found peace or joy because of her early teachings.

I have said many times that I became a Christian during the Jesus People movement. We were, for the most part, young people who were not part of any organized churches but were drawn to Christ by...Himself. For...most of us had no idea how to be "saved" but there grew a seed of "something" within us that knew we had to find Christ or we'd perish.

Those who were raised in churches were from all kinds...including Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Catholics. Some were hippies, especially on the West Coast. (Unlike what Wikipedia says, they were not ALL hippies.) In the Christian coffeehouse ministry in which I was a part, there were a lot of Jesus People engineering students. Now you can't get much more "non-hippy" than that...well, perhaps accountants.

Now, I believe one does need to follow what their chosen denomination teaches or it would bring about problems. For instance, I was married by the Associate Pastor of our Presbyterian church I attended at the time because the Senior Pastor was at L'Abri studying with Francis Schaeffer. My Associate Pastor happened to be a woman and my fiance and I had no problem with that. The church I attend now does not allow women to be pastors so, having put myself under that doctrinal authority, if I were to be married today...the ceremony would not be performed by a woman. Different denomination... different teaching... still respecting those who are in authority. (I don't plan on getting married again, after thirty-two years mine is just beginning to understand me.) apologies to anyone just stopping by to chat about tea and books...but since I do recommend authors from time to time who may be controversial, I just wanted my blog friends to know from whence I speak. whence a word?


martha said...

Dear Brenda, Your comments reflect the love of Christ, and are so refreshing. Sometimes I am saddened by those who rush to divide the Kingdom. They even seem to enjoy it. I think they are in for a BIG SURPRISE when they get to heaven. Jesus' atoning blood is more powerful than their narrow minds imagine. Thank God that HE is on the throne!

Anonymous said...

I tried to email you, but the address on the sidebar doesn't work, according to "Mailer-Daemon."

I do appreciate what you said.

In Jesus, Susan (mama to 8)

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I think Hotmail must have had the flu or something today!

I had to send one of my e-mails in it twice.

Lallee said...

Brenda, this is one of the best posts I've ever read. BTW, I'm a Calvinist used to be Charismatic....and if you came to my Presbyterian (PCA) church, you might think WE were charismatic ;-) So much for labels ;-) LOL I'm sure you and I are on the same page 95% starting with the core gospel. I think it says 'somewhere' that we all see through a glass darkly for now? Peter and Paul had their theology conflicts and later wrote to love one another. I'd love for the brothers and sisters to just get along and enjoy God. Bill Hybels came and spoke at our church when we were building our sanctuary finally. Awesome man! Thanks for this and sorry for writing a book here ;-) You're very inspiring.

Suzanne said...

What a beautiful post! Our pastor and his wife have been friends with Gordon and Gail and they know the terrible pain this family went through. Gail spoke at our womens conference two years ago and what a lovely lady. So able to minister to hurting women. If God has forgiven and forgotten the sins we commit why can't others?????

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

All is well. I heard from my blog friend who did NOT leave the fold and was not offended by this post.

A very good thing...

Judith Rolfs said...

Thank you. I so appreciate your supportive view for Gordon MacDonald. It is lovely to see a living example of restoration through God's grace among us as Gordon powerfully displays.

Judith Rolfs