Ps Bruce McDonald's Affadavit
I, BRUCE ANDREW McDonald Minister of Religion of Auckland swear:
1. I am the Senior Minister of the ‘The Life Church’, Auckland. I am a former Principal of Phlair International College (formerly New Covenant International Bible College) and one of the founders of Liberty Trust.
2. I have a Bachelor of Arts in theology (B. Th.) and a Diploma in Teaching qualification. I was ordained as a Pastor in 1981 and have been a pastor ever since.
3. I was instrumental in encouraging those who set up Liberty Trust but was not and have not been an officer bearer of that Trust although I was a trustee, for a time, of Liberty Trust Auckland which was merged into Liberty Trust.
4. To the extent that I comment on the way in which I consider that Liberty Trust advances religion and draw on my understanding of the Bible I confirm that I have read the Code of Conduct for expert witnesses in the High Court and I agree to its terms.
Background to the Trust
5. The background to Liberty Trust is described on its website on the webpage “Beginnings” a copy of which is attached marked “BM1” and its related link “Bruce’s Story” a copy of which is annexed marked “BM2”. I confirm the accuracy of what is stated in both documents.
6. I believe that what Liberty Trust is doing is very much in conformity with biblical teaching and, accordingly, is advancing the Christian Faith.
7. In the totality of the Scriptures there are more than 1,000 references to matters concerning finance, a person’s relationship with resources, giving and the care of the poor. This is more than references dedicated to topics such as faith, salvation, even forgiveness. It is clearly a key Biblical theme.
8. The Gospel records for us more than 40 Parables (stories) that Jesus told to illustrate His teaching points and to tell people about what the Kingdom of God was like. Over half of these have to do with attitudes to resources, stewardship of money and the care of others.
9. The Bible actually defined ‘True Religion’ not as being ‘other worldly’ or preoccupied with the after life but rather –
“What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.” (James 1: 27)
10. The sufferings (troubles) that orphans and widows were afflicted by then and that many experience today were excessive costs associated with raising family and especially housing needs.
11. Biblical ‘poverty’ was equated with being in debt to another.
12. Liberty Trust is following a teaching from the bible which says that lending should be without interest “He does not put out his money at interest, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be shaken.” Psalm 15:5
13. The Church has a history of teaching people to avoid usury (e.g. First Council of Nicaea canon 17 in 325CE). At the time “usury’ simply meant interest of any kind.
14. As a Bible Teacher therefore I must give quality time to the teaching of Financial Principles along with faith and eternal matters and must see this as being central to my calling to ‘advance religion’.
A Current Reality
15. No generation in history has seen the acceptance of and acceleration of indebtedness as our current one. Nations, cities, businesses, families and individuals almost all carry burdensome levels of debt, and such is the attitude to this now that it is viewed as normal, necessary, even prudent.
16. But the Bible does not express it in such a way. We are told –
“The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22: 7)
17. In the time of Jesus one in every 2 people in the Roman Empire was a slave - owned by another. To us that is viewed as an anathema, an inhumane and unacceptable situation, one that took centuries to change. Yet, according to the criteria in the above verse, levels of slavery today are actually much higher as people are increasingly enslaved by a life time of debt.
18. Liberty Trust is sufficiently sensitized to this grave reality to actually seek to address this wrong. Liberty Trust does this family by family, life by life. It assists people to be free from interest (usury) and then debt.
19. Liberty Trust does not give to ‘the rich’ as is implied in the De -Registration Decision: (page 9, paragraph 37). Liberty Trust does not seek to make anyone rich but rather assists ordinary and needy New Zealanders to be free – debt free.
20. Liberty Trust knows that ‘free’ people are empowered to give and thereby a great assistance is given to the care of the poor.
21. Liberty Trust teaches a different way to live, a Biblical way to live, a better way to live and then practically ‘rolls up it’s sleeves’ and shows how to do it. This is very much in line with the Christian tradition that Christians should work out their faith in actions as well as words.
22. Liberty Trust ‘advances religion’ family by family as it practically and faithfully fulfils Jesus’ words –
“Therefore if the Son (Jesus) makes you free you shall be free indeed”. (John 8: 36).
23. In summary:
(a) It advances religion with its teaching;
(b) It advances education with it’s innovation and provocative message;
(c) It alleviates poverty by doing what few others will - provide ‘interest free’ finance to great but needy families.
24. Liberty Trust is a 21st Century model of Biblical community addressing a 21st Century crisis of burgeoning community debt.
25. As a Pastor to many of them and because I have had the privilege of reading the testimonies and letters from many (including many that I am not Pastor to) I can say that those who support Liberty Trust with donations do so not because they want to benefit from interest free loans but because they want to live out the Christian teaching that I have just described. Many do not want loans for themselves and are surprised when loans are offered to them.
26. Any benefit that they may receive is simply an incidental to the Christian teaching of Liberty Trust which it then puts into practice (as, to be valid, it has to be).