In a specially called meeting on September 29, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel carefully considered our biblical options related to three individuals, who have long been outside of our church. Our goal was to end their prolonged and divisive effort to undermine the Elder governance of our church and to discredit our primary leaders. We have chosen to accomplish that by filing a civil suit in Cook County.
We believe governmental authorities, whether criminal or civil, are His protection when those who oppose us are actually breaking the law (Romans 13:1-2). In consultation with highly regarded Christian leaders and students of Scripture, we received unqualified support for this difficult decision.
Excerpt from ESV Study Bible notes on 1 Corinthians 6:1-8: Although some have argued that Paul is prohibiting Christians from ever going to court against another Christian, Paul seems in these verses only to be addressing disputes related to property or money (cf. v7 “why not rather be defrauded?”) — rather than criminal cases, which fall under the jurisdiction of the state. It is doubtful, therefore, that Paul’s intention is that this specific example should be applied to every situation, since not every situation today matches the circumstances of this specific case in Corinth, where the two parties are in the same local church, and where the dispute is specifically related to property or money. Whatever the circumstances, it is clear from Scripture that disputes between believers need to be handled with the utmost care in a wise and godly manner before the watching world, wherever possible under the disciplinary authority of the church, and with the counsel of spiritually mature Christians who have no stake in the matter and can give objective, biblical advice.
When recent efforts at private appeal again failed, we made the difficult decision to seek the legal protection afforded us by Scripture. We are fulfilling our responsibility to protect our church family from defamation and other illegalities by appealing to the authorities God has established for this purpose.
By entrusting “the punishment of wrong doers” to the authorities God has established (1 Peter 2:14; Romans 13:2) and the protection of the sheep to the Elders God has raised up to lead us at Harvest Bible Chapel (1 Peter 5:1-2), our church family can confidently stay focused on the unceasing priority of love for one another and our mission of making disciples for God’s glory. Click here for an article Pastor James has written on the subject.
Keep in mind that we continue in prayer for a change of heart among the defendants and only desire an outcome that ensures their wounding of innocent church members will stop and remain stopped. Please pray that the private meeting for resolution we have offered again recently would be agreed to. If that were to happen, our desire would be to halt this process and achieve a lasting peace full of grace and truth.
Thank you for your prayers.
The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel