As many who follow abusive churches know, things have been ugly lately at Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF), an evangelical church that, like Bob Malm, tried to use bogus accusations in the courts to silence criticism. That case recently was thrown out of court.
It’s beyond the purview of this post to rehash the details of this debacle, but our evangelical sisters and brothers have done an excellent job of parsing what needs to come next. In HBF’s case, that is repentance, which is not the same as peacemaking or reconciliation. HBF goes on to state, quite rightly, that this will only happen if the going-forward plan is “completely devoid of manipulation and avoidance.”
In my experience, these are the two words that best describe Bob Malm’s “leadership,” — manipulation and avoidance. Yet the diocese has never recognized the distinction between reconciliation and repentance when it comes to Bob’s actions, and it manifests a warped theology of repentance. “Just say you’re sorry and everything’s good,” is the approach. And Bob goes even further; in his ill-fated settlement proposal, he basically suggests the status quo, with a layer of “Jesus-babble” slapped on top.