How Steep the Decline: James MacDonald, Bryan Loritts and Sycophantic Uncle Toms

Late last week, I posted an article entitled, “The Descent: James MacDonald, Harvest Bible Chapel and the Blurry Road to the Prosperity Gospel.”  Since that time, the storm that has threatened to envelope the evangelical world has only intensified as more and more people have begun to rightfully react to MacDonald’s highly questionable decision to bring Jakes into the Elephant Room, and his even poorer handling of the actual exchange itself.

Today, I want to respond to a round table discussion that Pastor MacDonald has filmed and posted on his blog.[1]  Why?  Because aspects of this discussion further inflame and ultimately confuse the issue by giving voice to racially-insensitive, ad hominem attacks.  I am, of course, referring to the words spoken by the African-American Pastor Bryan Loritts of Fellowship Memphis.

“Some of the strongest reactions of people were African Americans in the blogosphere.  And I’ll just go ahead and say it, who strike me as wanting so bad to be in the white theological world.  And to take a little bit of a tangent here, and I’ll get back.  The loudest voices in the conservative, evangelical world, in my estimation right now, are your older white reformed voices.  And so that implicitly sends the message that mature Christianity in the conservative evangelical world is older white.  And you’ve got some African Americans who so idolize that – its what some people would call white idolization – that they then feel is if they’ve got to be the voice for black culture to speak against people like T.D. Jakes.  So what happens is you kind of prop them up … My concern is: African Americans, a small minority, speaking against Jakes, and then leveraging that in the white theological world, for some of these older white theologians … to fit into their circles.  We want to be in their circles.  And so we’ll allow ourselves to be used as a puppet.”[2]

Now stop and think about what Pastor Loritts has just said.  Without personally knowing the character of all of the various African American critics of this debacle, Loritts feels free to dismiss them, in an ad hominem attack, as “puppets,” who are simply trying “to fit into [the white theological world].”

And where is James MacDonald when Loritts is voicing these patently unfair, unwise and dangerous derisions?  He is once again opting to say absolutely nothing.  He doesn’t put a stop to it.  He doesn’t shake his head in disagreement.  He doesn’t even ask a counter-question to force Loritts to consider the gravity of what he has just said.  Instead, he allows for Loritts to use racially inflammatory rhetoric to condescendingly dismiss the African American critics of the Elephant Room 2 and then dares to conclude the session by offering these thoughts:

“One of my main take-aways is that if you discount relationship, you misunderstand a lot.  If we hadn’t reached out to Bishop Jakes in relationship, we would have misunderstood his theology.”[3]

So apparently, certain African American pastors and theologians were wrong to voice their concerns over T.D. Jakes because they lacked the necessary relationship with him to question his theology.  But as for Bryan Loritts, he is perfectly justified in dismissing African American critics as sycophantic “puppets” without having personally reached out to each and every one of them.

The longer this goes on, the more troubling it becomes.


[1] The round table discussion was broken into two parts.  The first part can be found at: http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=11232, while the second portion of the discussion can be found at: http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=11253.

[2] This quote can be found at the 4:07 mark of the first video posted at: http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=11232.

[3] This quote can be found at the 3:50 mark of the second video posted at: http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=11253.

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6 Responses to How Steep the Decline: James MacDonald, Bryan Loritts and Sycophantic Uncle Toms

  1. This is so interesting. It has been enlightening to see that distinctions in what people believe are being made. I never knew about the “Prosperity Gospel” until recently. I think it would be good for Catholics to know since some have mistakenly fallen into that sort of belief even though that is not what the Church teaches…so many problems with materialism all Christians are facing (sorry that was a bit like Yoda). Thank you for the good read…God bless.

  2. Mark Notestine says:

    I agree the entire conversation seemed a little contrived like a cheerleading session. I found the accusation of the critical African American pastors/theologian as only trying to gain approval of white reformed pastors to be very, very troubling. Sounded like a political election tactic that might be used against politically conservative African Americans. I found myself screaming at the computer screen when that came up.

    On a slightly different but related note, I found myself in the very odd postion of defending James on some Facebook blogs over the last couple of days.

    Multiple people are taking this ER2 incident and jumping to calling James a false prophet, hypocrite and even questioning his salvation; mostly people who don’t appear to have ever visited Harvest Bible Chapel. One person even implied that James would be one of those saying, “Lord, Lord did we not prophecy in your name….” with Jesus saying “I never knew you” in return. Fortunately, none of these people appears to have been a Christian leader.

    As much as the ER2 mess has bothered me, as much as I was bothered by this video, I find myself becoming even more troubled by these public judgements of salvation. Taking one admittedly very bad incident and painting a brush over James’ entire ministry history and judging whether he would be in heaven or hell is way out of bounds. As much as I might disagree with James on several issues including ER2, I could never bring myself to label him a false prophet or question his salvation. I feel that the reaction of many Christians to this ER2 situation (and I am of course NOT talking about your blog) is getting out of control and may end up being worse than the offending ER2 incident.

    I was angy at a lot of this earlier, but now I am overcome with profound sadness. Not just because of the ER2 issues you have elucidated but also because of the over the top ‘Christian’ reaction against James.

    • Richard Armour says:

      Thank you for your voice of balance and reason Mark. Pastor James is a man full of missteps and sin just like all of us. His are in a very different arena than most of us have to walk in. He has to be held to a very high standard because of his influence over the flock but that doesn’t mean it is open season on the intentions of his heart. There is a fine line between holding to account and fanning flames of discontent from the sidelines.

    • Mark,

      I am so in agreement with you when you say that you are “overcome with profound sadness.” Yes, there is anger. But I am so saddened by all of this. What a mess.

  3. Gary says:

    This is really sick and disgusting. I’ve met Bryan Loritts and until his comments around ER2, I had a lot of respect for the guy. Now, after his racist, ignorant, self-serving comments, I have zero respect for him. Not that he cares about that. I understand, I’m just a pion and he’s got lots of sheep who will line up to kiss his arse.

    Here’s the really devious part to this. Bryan and James were the ones who played the race card. THEY are the ones that brought race into the issue. Then, about a week or so after the event, I heard JM on Moody radio and he said “I’m really troubled that race was brought into the issue.” EXCUSE ME!!! You’re the one who brought race into the issue!!! That was an intentionally devious, misleading statement he made on Moody radio. But just like any politician, JM has learned that he can do whatever he wants, and then say whatever he wants, and the two don’t ever have to line up. He knew that most of the listeners on the radio had no idea that he was the person who brought race into the issue, so he knew he could get away with that statement.

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