James MacDonald Issues “My Repentance” on Facebook

By Julie Roys

Disgraced former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor, James MacDonald, today posted his “repentance” on Facebook, saying he was sorry for “careless and hurtful words that were illegally recorded,” and claiming that he had regressed into “sinful patterns” in late 2016.

The statement also claims MacDonald sent “written apologies where appropriate” considering the vulgar hot mic recording that was aired on Mancow Muller’s Morning show. I have not received one of these written apologies, though MacDonald mocked me repeatedly on the recording and joked about me having an affair with a Christianity Today editor. I also don’t know of anyone else who’s received one either, including the more than two dozen sources who went on the record with me with horrific stories about MacDonald.

MacDonald concludes by saying that he has joined New Life Covenant Church in Humboldt Park, Chicago. He adds that he is “planning a future focused on preaching and teaching God’s Word, helping pastors preach the Bible more impactfully, living the mandate of Christ’s love, and being free from the weight of large organizational leadership, which was simply too much for me.”

Dear Friends:

I trust this timing finds you well in the Lord and growing in your awareness of how good He truly is. Our efforts to work through existing channels in our former church have reached an unsuccessful end, leading to this release of words we have long sought to express.

Our lifetime calling continues to be “igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth.” Yet God, in His sovereignty, appointed for me and Kathy this chastening (Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 12:7-11) and abrupt termination last February from the church we founded and have loved for more than 30 years. It has taken an extended time of silence to see the Lord’s hand, see my sin fully and speak about it non-defensively.

My Repentance
I was, am, and will remain very sorry for the careless and hurtful words that were illegally recorded and publicized. I immediately sent written apologies where appropriate, grieving what it revealed about the state of my heart at the time, as well as the hurt caused to those who trusted us to be a more consistent example of Christlikeness. I have no excuse and am truly sorry.

I confess to all who have followed my ministry, a regression into sinful patterns of fleshly anger and self pity that wounded co-workers and others. These sin issues had been points of growth and victory as expressed through my preaching and writing, but I fell back beginning in late 2016 and have only myself to blame. I wrestled with the stress I felt, the injustice I endured, etc. Yet, over time I have come to see only myself and my own relational failing in the mirror, and with grief and sorrow I ask your forgiveness.

As part of this, I have come to see my sin of handling pressure in a way that got things done, but neglected the priority of love and the presiding humility of serving others first. Letters have been sent to those the Holy Spirit has brought to mind, owning what is true without reference to what is false. We are looking to the Lord to keep my focus here as long as it takes in hopes of reconciliation with every willing heart.

Failed Decision Making
This relational decline led to regrettable decisions, such as Senior Staff transitions with some of our best leaders departing, my reactive resignation from Harvest Bible Fellowship, the fearful and defensive lawsuit, the rapid move of Walk in the Word to digital-only, etc.

All of these big-impact “retreat decisions” were initiated out of the desperation I felt, and from my clearer thinking today, I see how wrong I was. I recognize how these actions undermined team member support for my leadership, eroding the margin of grace between us. I am especially grieved for certain co-leaders who felt wounded by me and deserved better – those who have expressed it and those who have not. We had many moments of joyful partnership, the memories of which I will always treasure. I am deeply and forever sorry to each of you and pray, in God’s timing, for the opportunity to say that personally.

Decisions by the current Elder/staff, along with inaccurate announcements and recent public condemnation, signaled clearly the timing to communicate our message directly. With sadness we accept that no face-to-face confession or truth-advancing interaction will be forthcoming.

The above matters are now in Christian arbitration where impartial believers will hear and give a written, objective ruling. As we cannot give specifics, we are trusting the Lord for truth to be revealed in His time, and we covet your prayers.

2 Corinthians 3:2,5-6
“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all… Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

After waiting many months in hope of a pathway toward restoration, we have been welcomed into the congregation of New Life Covenant Church in Humboldt Park, Chicago. A multi-ethnic church under Pastor Wilfredo DeJesus, New Life has embraced us in love, offering us a place to serve and the beginnings of healing community.

Please know that God continues His work in my heart – we have never doubted the Lord or His Word and believe He is not done with us. We are planning a future focused on preaching and teaching God’s Word, helping pastors preach the Bible more impactfully, living the mandate of Christ’s love, and being free from the weight of large organizational leadership, which was simply too much for me. In time we hope you will think of us as serving the Lord with gladness while we enjoy our kids and grandkids, who continue to flourish in local church ministry where God has planted them.

We look forward to more frequent communication with you as the Lord continues giving light to our next steps. Thank you for your interest and prayers.

Warmly in Christ our Savior,

James and Kathy MacDonald

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74 thoughts on “James MacDonald Issues “My Repentance” on Facebook”

  1. He appears to be apologizing for getting caught, as none of the kerfuffle from 2013 or so appears in his letter. He also appears to be apologizing for the damage control that occurred when the issues from that time frame became evident.

  2. Eric B Rasmusen

    I’m glad, Julie, that you are so good at resisting commentary and can just stick to the facts (which do include the fact that you didn’t get the written apology Mr. Macdonald says he sent). The facts are enough— we in the comment section can add interpretation.
    I see three classic illustrations of the Unapologetic Apology here:
    1. “I was, am, and will remain very sorry for the careless and hurtful words that were illegally recorded and publicized.” A true apology must be embarassing. It must say what you did that was wrong with enough detail that the public knows what bad thing you are admitting to. This is especially true when you have loyal supporters whom you’ve been telling not to believe the accusations against you, and not even to read them. You need to tell them you were lying, and tell them where they can read the accusations to which you are now admitting.
    2. Same words: In one sentence he is admitting to “careless and hurtful words” but accusing his accusers of criminal actions. He doesn’t think he’s nearly as bad as they are for pointing out his sin.
    3. “These sin issues had been points of growth and victory as expressed through my preaching and writing, but I fell back beginning in late 2016 and have only myself to blame.”
    This is what’s known as “humblebragging”. He’s saying how wonderfully he overcame his “sin issues” (again, he doesn’t tell us what he actually did), except for a momentary relapse in a few months of 2016. He wasn’t expelled from the ministry for what he did in those few months, but for a pattern of conduct over the past twenty years.
    There’s lots more. This is an apology worth reading, with discernment.

  3. Very disillusioned former HBC member

    I feel sick to learn that he plans to go back into ministry. I feel sick that he cannot fully own his sin but still blames his actions on the circumstances he was in. I see no signs of a change in heart. I only read blame. (I did this, but…there was a reason) What will it take to prevent him from hurting others as he has in the past?

  4. Did it sound like he was blaming the HBC elders for there being no pathway to restoration, something for which he waited patiently? Or am I reading that into it? Was he expecting restoration to his former position? This doesn’t begin to address the depth of issues related to him. This is like “I’m sorry I hurt some feelings and made some rash logistical decisions.” Never mind the people with PTSD and those who may never trust a pastor again. This “repentance” may work for people who never got closer to him than their seats on Sunday mornings, and it may work for people who only know him through conferences, his books, and the radio. But for some people who got close over the nearly 30 years (at the church that other people founded and called him to be the pastor), this may make them feel worse.

  5. God knows James’ heart like He knows all of ours. James like all of us will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account of our actions (our walk and talk) while serving Him. And no, I stopped attending Harvest some time ago. I left because of what I saw, plus other things. He still needs our prayers. To God be the Glory

  6. just lay off of it Roys stop beating a dead cat, people make mistakes and move on, it’s all part of life you are not a spiritual superior to be doing this

    1. Charles Despeville

      Your cat is about to get fat again in another church and leave another dead wake behind. That’s why this cannot be left behind but you know this well you just play or played on Macdonald’s team and cannot leave that position behind…

  7. Charles Despeville

    “With sadness we accept that no face-to-face confession or truth-advancing interaction will be forthcoming.”

    MacDonald is truly psychopath. In this line above and others he makes himself look like a victim which is a standard postcard from a psychopath manipulation tooolbelt.

    “Letters have been sent to those the Holy Spirit has brought to mind, owning what is true without reference to what is false. ”

    There is a standard and revolving”God told me” manipulation and debilitating disclaimer. If you have been hurt by MacDonald and his goons and did not hear apology from him it is because “God” didn’t tell him about doing for you so don’t blame MacDonald because if you do you are blaming “God”. Sicko.

  8. Given the events of the past year…really the past decade, I am utterly dumbfounded. Having wept while watching the video of Lina’s message from the Restore Conference, and agreeing in my heart with every single word she spoke, his lack of worldly sorrow, godly sorrow, and any sense of contrition, not to mention a warped understanding and expression of repentance, is truly astounding. I honestly cannot imagine the unsaved people I know responding so callously and with such little [faked] remorse in such a situation. Someone who worked very closely with him for many years once described him to me as having “a narcissistic personality disorder with psychopathic tendencies.” In fact, that evaluation was too kind– he is a sociopath. Dr. Hockett is correct, he is an apostate wolf.

  9. He totally misunderstands repentance and reconciliation. As far as I could discern, there is no reluctance on the part of Harvest elders to meet personally with James. The reluctance seems to be totally on his part. He seems to be saying that Harvest leadership has wronged him so badly that there is no hope in an further communication. Did I miss something? In my opinion (I wish I could say it was humble), James needs to meet with someone physically big (so he can’t intimidate in that way) and someone whom he can truly respect (is there anyone he truly respects more than he respects himself?) and listen to such a person teach James about humility! The only time I saw James in what I would call a truly humble setting was at McCormick Place at a Gospel Coalition meeting right after he had been declared free of cancer. Pride has been Jame’s downfall, and unless something changes, he will continue to fall.

  10. To all the James McDonalds, Bill Hybels, and Paul Whites of this world… please do NOT enter the ministry again. You have caused incredible damage to the body of Christ.

  11. He’s gotta do a whole lot better then this. Like maybe from the heart, and not the vulgar mouth. Arrogance is still flowing in this man. Only my opinion.

  12. When I heard Lina call her experience with HBC feeling like a hit and run it really hit me hard, for days.
    James is a wolf, Acts 20:29, pure and simple. He should not be anywhere a pulpit.
    Please forgive me in that my time as an Elder at HBC I did not do enough to protect the sheep and stop this wolf!

  13. “Liar, liar!! Pants on fire!”

    I didn’t think I could think any worse about this man than I had until I read his latest statement.

    James MacDonald is truly a wicked man blinded by his own sin.

  14. This is a bit off the topic but how is it that despite the fact numerous individuals and the HBC organization(s) have been reported to various authorities regarding ‘irregularities’ in bookkeeping, and at least one police investigation regarding a possible ‘murder for hire’ plot, and no IRS audit? No update? Countless complaints of emotional and spiritual and fiduciary abuse, and no further legal proceedings ? In a day and age where people have sued Organizations for spilling hot coffee on themselves – and won! – it seems as if this man is protected by forces other than the Holy Spirit.

    Most true Christians have experienced the disciplining hand of the Lord and known full well that it was God teaching them a lesson. And retrospectively those who have experience such, rejoice in the fact that God disciplines those he loves.

    We’ve watched the Jimmy Swaggart‘s and the Jim Bakers pay the price for being wolves among the fold – not to mention the many lesser known who have incurred the wrath of God and the disciplinary justice of man publicly.

    I find this drama very disconcerting in that there is any chance of someone so abjectly tarnished possibly re-entering Christian ministry.

    1. Jessica Hockett

      I’m not sure how many people have actually filed a robust IRS complaint…yet. Filling out the form isn’t enough. You have to have evidence, documents, firsthand knowledge, etc.

  15. If James has accountability, how is it that his new church would call his faux apology, repentance? If he’s under the authority of the new leadership, they would have over seen his apology. If they allowed this farce, it’s possible they too have stars in their eyes of what James can do for their ministry. My question is where are all the men in prominent Christian circles? Why is it that two women, namely Julie and Lina are publicly calling James out? Where’s men like Stetzer and Zappia? Where’s the new president of Moody? If they love the church the way they expound daily, why aren’t they protecting the church from another wolf like James? IMO, it’s all about their status and maintaining their speaking engagements and high position. So dissolusioned by what’s happening to the church and in the church. Lord have mercy.

  16. The facts are that for those who are ignorant of Scripture, no apology by James will ever be accepted by them. This is an extremely sad situation, since some prefer to sin against Scripture than to obey it. How unfortunate for those who prefer to join the sinner in committing more sin instead of refraining from sin.
    Ephesians 4:29-32 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

    We are not commanded to accept a sinner’s apology. We are not commanded to listen to or believe a sinner.
    But we are commanded to love even those who are our enemies. And that may be James MacDonald for many.

  17. Absurd! How can JMac say this is an apology by adding words to his statement that say he was a “victim” too? Just a PR move to powder puff his position and not have to come clean for all of it. I wonder what the audit of HBC’s books will reveal. No word about that yet., But this whole thing is called make yourself look good by making others look bad. Julie hasn’t gotten an apology letter from him asking for forgiveness for all the vile things he said about her and a letter would not have been an apology anyway. Face to face pal, Face to face.

  18. The first point is especially amusing because without those “illegally recorded” words, he’d very likely still be senior pastor at Harvest, angrily denying every word and attacking everyone who is speaking out against him.

    1. Tacitus: I agree.

      for my journey, it was hard to even begin to reconcile the “best preacher” ( in my mind ) image as he walked past me years ago at sunday rm service (center-right section) with the different image of the elephant’s debt website. that was hard for me to even attempt to reconcile those 2 contrasting, different images. I kept thinking to myself, “somebody is lying”. ..I remember when James said on recording that one of his accusers had a troubled, difficult marriage, and also that James said that another accuser had job-related problems with a school. I have never met Roys personally, but James suggested that Roys was bitter about something regarding a past conference invitation. And for me to later learn that what James had said publicly in front of his friends and staff members and others were just plain lies was hard for me to believe. To hear that recording and learn that James had coached and steered his staff and friends to accept the lies so that over time the “lies” became the accepted narrative is hard for me to believe. it was hard to believe because James was a pastor of my church for years. for a long time, I kept expecting somebody from Rolling Meadows to write a letter showing the falsity of the elephant’s debt website, but nothing came. instead, for me, i kept noticing dates & time stamps & people names & more and more witnesses giving their reports and word publicly that this is true. james macdonald should never be permitted to preach again…he groomed his staff and friends to accept lies because his accusers were telling the truth about his lack of character!

  19. The bottom line is that he still wants something from Harvest — likely Walk in the Word ministry assets, or it could be an outstanding financial issue (salary, retirement funds, etc.), and a full face-to-face confession would pretty much end all hope of him getting anything.

    Negotiations clearly take precedent over confession and reconciliation in his mind.

  20. JMAC fleeced HBC for millions. Did not see a mention or apology for that! Maybe he’s writing a check to reimburse HBC as I write this…

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