P&P has reported on the demise of James McDonald and the meltdown of Harvest Bible Church on numerous occasions, including here, here, here, here, here, and here. Most of this reporting is due to the diligent work and journalism of Julie Roys and a few other independent reporters. As a sad part of this story, MacDonald and Harvest have sued “bloggers” (read that: journalists). Ultimately, MacDonald’s lawsuit against journalists will fare as well as Ergun Caner’s. However, it’s the reason Harvest gave for the lawsuit that is most absurd.
Amidst documentation of the lawsuit, there’s this line from the Religion News Service:
The plaintiffs asked a judge for a restraining order to stop the defendants from publishing information about MacDonald and the church while the lawsuit moves forward.
“Defendants’ false and defamatory statements have a negative impact on Plaintiffs’ ability to convert new persons to the faith, maintain their congregation and raise the funds necessary to operate,” the petition claims.
The judge denied the request.HT Wartburg Watch
One of the Survivor Blog Gals made a few salient observations about this:
- How does a court, presumably made up of people of religious and non-religious persuasions, rule on the claim that some people didn’t become Christians because other people said mean things about JM/HBC?
- How would JM/HBC prove that people didn’t become *converted* because of a blog post or two?
- Assuming some court somewhere bought this argument, they would have to come up with some formula to prove that JM and friends usually convert *x* number of people on any given day? Is that possible?
- Assuming JM/HBC wanted to sue for the loss of conversions sometime in the future, how might JM/HBC put a value on conversion? Is it worth $12,000, $0.05 or $100,000,000? Would that be based on their expected tithes or some percentage thereof? Gross or net?
- If MacDonald is Reformed, he might believe that he has nothing to do with the conversion of those who enter his sphere. That decision was made by God somewhere in eternity and MacDonald’s role is only to faithfully preach the Gospel without expectation of conversions or monetary awards.
- I question MacDonald’s trust in the power of Jesus. Is he saying that if someone says bad things about him, people will stop being converted? Is his God that weak?
- I have another idea for MacDonald to consider. Christians were persecuted and lied about throughout history. Yet Christianity was never stronger than during the times of persecution. An argument could be made that the church attracted more people when Christians went boldly into the Coliseum. Therefore, shouldn’t MacDonald be *converting* more people due to the negativity? “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Dee Parson’s commentary here is right. It is absolutely insane to blame “lost conversions” on
bloggers journalists writing about the crazy and stupid junk you do. If anything, that’s your fault.
But ultimately, God is Truth, and we think he is honored and glorified by telling it.
[Editor’s Note: HT Wartburg Watch]