We heard Mac say the following to a group of pastors in North Carolina: "....down in Jacksonville I'm in a hotbed of legalism. Everybody's got a list of rules, but they seem to have no real relationship with Jesus Christ."
Of course one might think that Mac was referring to "Jacksonville" in the broad geographic sense, as in "this area of the country"...but our blogging friends who speak to the pastor and other staff members helped clarify that Mac was not talking about "Jacksonville", but really "First Baptist Church Jacksonville". In fact if you listen to the quote in context, its clear that prior to the "hotbed" quote he was talking about the church in general, then turned his comments to the church "down in Jacksonville" in particular.
Said one of Mac's supporters in the previous thread:
"The problem Watchdog has is simple. Fact is FBC has been legalistic for years. So, when our pastor calls this sin out, he takes it personally. Makes complete sense. Then he turns the gun on our pastor and calls it slander.....Fact is he [Mac] has been fighting this trend from the beginning. WD has had his eyes closed to this until now."
So now we know...Mac has an agenda to "fix" this legalism that is rampant at our church - and the key is: HE'S BEEN FIGHTING THIS FROM THE BEGINNING. As I said in the previous thread, this helps give us context now to look back at what has happened to our church over the past two years. If the man came here to eradicate the "legalism", no wonder the staff changes - no wonder the abusive preaching from the pulpit. Perhaps, even the small group of lay leaders who courted Mac to come here, lavished him with gifts and perks because - well - he was coming here to save our church from the dreaded legalism we were in! Those of us who know something of what legalism is, and what its like to be in a legalistic church, know full well that our church is not legalistic, or even that we are trending in that direction. That is not to say we don't have our own set of problems, but legalism happens to not be one of them. If anything, the standards we used to have that some claimed were legalism have become more lax in just about every area of church life - including rules on nepotism and accepting large gifts from donors of the church.
So perhaps Mac can clarify when he has a chance to return to the pulpit what makes us legalistic. Let's help him out a bit and parse his statement and ask some pertinent questions:
1. "...down in Jacksonville, I'm in a hotbed of legalism"....ok, that is interesting. Mac doesn't just say we are legalistic, but that actually we are a "hotbed" of legalism (notice he is the subject of the sentence - "I'm in a hotbed" - why its all about Mac, isn't it?) Being the learned and well-read man that he is, I'm sure Mac used that word exactly as he meant it: a "hotbed" is a spawning ground, a place where rapid growth occurs. So Mac is saying our church is so legalistic that it is a place where legalism is growing and expanding, perhaps festering. Quite interesting. I'm sure that assessment of our church will really help attract people downtown that we're trying to reach - And don't those pastors want to come down to a conference at the "2009 Hotbed of Legalism Pastor's Conference". And this will certainly help attract quality staff members to our church to replace Calvin Carr and Lainge Patrick - I mean who doesn't want to go serve in a "hotbed of legalism". And of course parents all over town will be beating our doors down to enroll their kids in this "hotbed of legalism". But that will be for a future post: "Send your kids to First Baptist Academy: the Hotbed of Legalism in Jacksonville". Maybe our mascot can be the FBA "Fightin' Recalcitrant Legalists".
2. "...everbody's got their list of rules..." Can you tell us who is "everybody" Mac? And what kind of list? Is it like Ghost's list yesterday of your abuses that troubles you? Just what rules? Are they the rules that say: when the pastor comes we'll give him a $300k piece of land? That rule didn't seem to bother you much. Is it the rule that we have that says the pastor has the reigns and calls the shots - allowing him to hire family members? Is it the rule that allows you to make changes to our bylaws without making a genuine effort to communicate those to us? Those are fighting words, Mac, to tell a group of pastors that "everybody" at your church as a list of legalistic rules. I don't know about the rest of the people at my church, but I'm going to stand up for my church in the face of your slander - and I'll do it in this blog as my forum despite the nasty attacks bloggers get from your defenders.
3. "...but they seem to have no close personal relationship with Jesus Christ". Just who are these people you're referring to? Are these the majority of your congregation? Besides, wo are you to judge us individually, and why would you pass judgement on us corporately in front of pastors in North Carolina? What is your criteria that you're using to ascertain their close personal relationship with Christ? Is it you and your spiritual elites perhaps are able to assess whether we have close personal relationship to the Lord? Perhaps you're referring to those "recalcitrants" who are turning up the heat on you because of your abuses? You already once said that those who don't agree with your changes are "comfortable in their sin and compromise" - now that quote seems to make more sense since you believe us to be a hotbed of legalism.
Well, its good to know that some in the church leadership reads this blog multiple times every day. We hope that Mac will be briefed on the bag of excrement he has stepped in this time....and we hope that more members of our church become aware of the words of their pastor....sowing discord? No, I call it spreading the truth.